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Links 17/4/2017: Devil Linux 1.8.0, GNU IceCat 52.0.2

Posted in News Roundup at 12:54 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish



  • Guide To Finding a Home-Based Linux Job

    With the technology advancements that keep on evolving, locating a home-based Linux job is a lot of Linux engineers dream. Unfortunately, there is still a majority of engineers that work in a typical office setting, but the opportunity to work out of the house continues to increase over time. After all, why not? Not having to commute seems to make a lot of sense. If all is done right, the efficiencies that can be gained by telecommuting are significant, for both the employer and employee. Therefore, since it is of great interest to find this work arrangement for many engineers, how does one find such a position? The goal of this article is to hit on some high points that will hopefully help one locate this type of role.

  • Desktop

    • It’s Windows Time in Linux Land Again

      Windows being Windows, a monkey wrench was thrown into the machinery right off. I booted the laptop into Windows, which then refused to connect with the Wi-Fi. It found the on-board Broadcom Wi-Fi just fine, but every time I’d try to get it to connect, it’d throw up an “unknown error” notice and ask if I’d like to enable logging so I could figure it out myself. This was odd, considering I’d used the machine to do my taxes last year, and it connects with the Wi-Fi just fine in Linux. But I wasn’t going to spend the better part of a day trying to fix it — I had no desire to start relearning my way around Windows. Time for Plan B, which was the reverse of Plan A: boot the desktop to Windows and use the laptop in Linux for finding all my facts and figures.

    • Ten Reasons You Should Try Linux Today

      I know despite the posts about how great Linux is and why I like it, many of you are probably still hesitant to try Linux. I understand. I remember years ago when I first heard about it, even I was slow to try it at first. After all, Windows just worked. Everything I needed Windows would do, so why bother trying something else that may or may not work for me. Of course, back then, Linux was quite different from what it is today.

      Over the years, Linux has evolved to become one of the most powerful operating systems in the world. In addition to computers, did you know that it powers a wide range of devices including routers, switches, your smartphones and even your televisions. That’s right, when your fancy television boots up chances are its running a customized version of Linux. Most web servers today are powered by Linux as well, including the one that is serving this site out to you.

  • Kernel Space

    • Linux 4.11-rc7

      You all know the drill by now. We’re in the late rc phase, and this
      may be the last rc if nothing surprising happens.

      Things have been pretty calm this past week (the beginning of the week
      seemed particularly calm, and then as usual Friday happened..). We
      have a number of reverts for things that didn’t work out and aren’t
      worth trying to fix at this point, that’s also normal (and people will
      look at it for the next version instead).

      So not too big, and things look very normal with two thirds of the
      changes being to drivers, and the rest being a mixture of arch updates
      (arm, x86, ia64, parisc), networking and filesystems (btrfs, cifs,
      orangefs). With a smattering of other stuff (tooling, header files,
      core kernel).

    • Linux 4.11-rc7 Kernel Released: Final Might Come Next Week

      Linus Torvalds has announced the seventh weekly test build of the upcoming Linux 4.11 kernel.

    • Graphics Stack

      • Trying AMDGPU-PRO 17.10 On Ubuntu 17.04

        In early April AMD released the AMDGPU-PRO 17.10 driver as their first hybrid proprietary driver update in some time. With this update came support for Ubuntu 16.04.2 (and also 16.10, unofficially) but to little surprise it doesn’t work out-of-the-box with this week’s Ubuntu 17.04 release. But it can be made to work.

      • RadeonSI Polaris: Mesa 12.0 vs. 13.0 vs. 17.0 vs. 17.1 Git

        With Mesa 17.1 branching this weekend I figured it would be a fun Easter running benchmarks of Mesa Git compared to previous branches with a Radeon RX 470 Polaris graphics card. Here are these Mesa 17.1 benchmarks while other tests and on more GPUs is forthcoming.

      • Nouveau In Linux 4.13 Will Support HDMI Stereo 3D
      • Vulkan 1.0.48 Released

        There’s another weekly update available to the Vulkan API, but this Easter update is on the small side.

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

      • Introducing Babe – History

        This is my very first post for KDE blogs and it is also my very first application. So when I sit down to think about what to write about I thought I would like to tell you all about how and why I wanted to start coding and then why I decided to create a (yet another (i know)) music player, specially made for KDE/Plasma.

      • Kubuntu 17.04 Banner
  • Distributions

    • Reviews

      • GNU/Linux Review: Ubuntu 17.04 Zesty Zapus

        This is a review of Ubuntu 17.04 Zesty Zapus with both Unity 7 and 8 desktop environments. This release is beautiful as always, ready for serious use, and complete with more than 70000 packages on official repository. It will be supported for 9 months until January 2018. Finally, I hope this review helps people to find how Ubuntu is and what’s interesting from 17.04. Enjoy!

      • Maui Linux 17.03

        On the whole I enjoyed using Maui, more than I had expected. There was not any one feature or program which really stood out as amazing, but I liked the overall style of the distribution. Maui provides a lot of software and features out of the box, offers a stable core based on an Ubuntu LTS release and includes cutting edge KDE Plasma software. I like that the application menu is full of useful software while avoiding overlap in functionality. I also appreciate how easy it is to use the Calamares installer and how quickly Calamares sets up the operating system. Mostly, I like that the distribution provides distinct windows, large fonts and a high-contrast theme which I found easy to look at over longer periods.

        I ran into just two issues or concerns while using Maui. One was the performance of the desktop with its default settings in the virtual test environment. Maui performed well on my desktop computer, but Plasma was slow to respond when running in VirtualBox. It is possible to improve performance by adjusting some items in the System Settings panel, but it would have been nice if the desktop had defaulted to more efficient settings.

        My second issue was not a bug, but rather a matter of style. Maui has a friendly look, lots of simple configuration modules and, over all, a very modern and easy to use approach. Everything looks new and tasks are typically performed through slick, graphical wrappers. The one exception I found was Synaptic. The venerable package manager works well, but is a bit cryptic compared to most modern software managers. I like Synaptic for its speed and flexibility, but I think something like GNOME Software or mintInstall might be more in line with Maui’s newcomer-friendly approach.

        On the whole, I like Maui. The distribution is easy to set up, friendly and generally stayed out of my way while I was working. This seems like a fairly beginner friendly desktop distribution which does a good job of making things easy without distracting the user or doing too much hand holding.

    • New Releases

      • AV Linux 2017.4.9 Released!

        An updated 2017 ISO for AV Linux has been released, it features a new Audio Routing system,
        many refinements and improvements and probably the most stable and functional collection of
        Applications across the board to date! The older AV Linux 2016.8.30 ISO’s are currently still
        in the FTPs and will be phased out soon, make sure to download the 2017.4.9 release.

      • Devil-Linux 1.8.0 released

        Devil-Linux 1.8.0 has been released! This is a major overhaul of Devil-Linux. Most programs and libraries have been updated and unmaintained ones have been removed. The main file system has been switched to squashfs, to further reduce the iso size. See the changelog for additional details.

    • Red Hat Family

    • Debian Family

      • Chris Lamb Elected As New Debian Project Leader

        Chris Lamb has unseated Mehdi Dogguy as the next Debian Project Leader.

        The 2017 Debian election results were posted today. Chris Lamb managed to secure more votes than current DPL Mehdi Dogguy and these two were the only ones competing in this year’s elections. The DPL term is one year.

      • Derivatives

        • Canonical/Ubuntu

          • UBports Community Q&A: April 15, 2017

            Today marked another Q&A session in the books. You can find it right over here on our shiny new Youtube channel! The following are the majority of asked questions and a summary of their answers.

          • More Details On UBports’ Plans For Unity, Mir & Anbox

            The UBports community are among those planning to fork the work on Unity 8 and they’ve already made ambitious plans like porting Unity 8 to Wayland. More details were revealed today.

            The UBports team issued their latest FAQs with some interesting remarks…

          • Why Ubuntu 18.04 Should Use KDE Plasma Instead of GNOME

            I think it was a mistake for Canonical to have chosen GNOME rather than KDE Plasma and in this video I explain why. Essentially it boils down to the fact that the vast majority of features in Ubuntu’s Unity are already available in KDE Plasma, most of which are available by default. Canonical could maintain the switch to Qt that Unity 8 started, maintain the design vision that Mark Shuttleworth wanted all the while not having to hack on the code of the KDE Plasma desktop environment much and in some cases at all.

  • Devices/Embedded

    • Phones

      • Could A New Linux Base For Tablets/Smartphones Succeed In 2017?

        Over the years we have seen many mobile/smartphone focused Linux efforts come and go from OpenMoko, Moblin/MeeGo, webOS, Firefox OS, and most recently Ubuntu Touch while others like Sailfish OS and Plasma Mobile appear to be somewhat stagnate or at least not gaining much marketshare nor advancing rapidly. But what if more of these mobile Linux efforts were to collaborate on a common base? There’s a new effort being worked on in this area.

        A Phoronix reader involved with this new project codenamed HALIUM shared with us some early details on the work. This open-source project is trying to pool resources and developers from UBports (one of the groups forking Unity 8), Sailfish OS community developers, the open webOS Lune OS project, and KDE Plasma Mobile contributors, among other developers.

      • Android

Free Software/Open Source

  • Freedom Doesn’t Have to Be Free: Revenue and Open Source

    In 1983, Richard Stallman kicked off the free software movement with the launch of the GNU Project. From that point onwards, free software was commonly associated with being free in the monetary sense as well.

    Most all open source projects, especially those in the world of Linux are available free of charge. And while this is very nice in itself, it can result in developers not being able to fully commit to their projects.

    In turn fantastic open source projects going nowhere in development when the lives of the maintainers catch up to them. But there is another way to go about open source!

  • Web Browsers

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

    • Open Access/Content

  • Programming/Development

    • Xfce Session Manager 4.13 Released, Ported To GTK3

      An updated version of the Xfce4 session manager was released this Easter weekend.

      The xfce4-session 4.13.0 package was released today and it’s a significant step forward for Xfce’s session manager.

    • Relm: A GTK-Based GUI Library In Rust For Async GUI Apps

      With there being many Rustlang fans reading Phoronix, many of you will probably be interested in Relm: a new GUI library for Rust.

      Relm is a new crate/library for developing asynchronous GUI applications in Rust. Using GTK up to now in Rust looks rather messy, but Relm aims to change that and also make the applications more responsive by making the user-interface asynchronous and makes use of the language’s futures capability.

    • Comprehend X86 Assembly Language with Open Source Books

      An assembly language is a low-level programming language for a computer, or other programmable device. Assembly language is used by almost all modern desktop and laptop computers. It is as close to writing machine code without writing in pure hexadecimal. It is converted into executable machine code by a utility program referred to as an assembler.

    • Rcpp now used by 1000 CRAN packages


  • Forgotten audio formats: The flexi disc
  • Hardware

  • Health/Nutrition

    • [Older] Subpoena reveals federal grand jury investigation of Flint water crisis

      The subpoena, obtained by MLive-The Flint Journal, shows federal prosecutors made an extensive request for documents from the city of Flint as part of the grand jury proceedings.

    • Trump Says He’ll Combat the Opioid Crisis, but His Agenda Could Make It Worse

      Like his predecessor, President Trump has promised to take bold action to address the nation’s opioid crisis and overdose epidemic, but critics say his efforts to undo President Obama’s signature health care law could prevent large numbers of people with opioid use disorders from receiving treatment.

      Others fear that instead of expanding community access to opioid disorder treatments, the Trump administration will push poor and marginalized people into “treatment” within the brutal confines of the prison system.

      With his “law and order” approach to governing, Trump is poised to reverse federal momentum on opioids, shifting the focus from public health back to law enforcement and incarceration. What could that look like, besides more drug arrests? For starters, the man rumored to be Trump’s pick for drug czar, Rep. Tom Marino of Pennsylvania, has called for placing parents facing minor drug charges in a “hospital-slash-prison.”

    • Louisiana Offers Clear Example Why States Should Expand Medicaid – Not Reduce It

      While recent Republican healthcare legislation failed to even come to a vote in Congress, a look at one microcosm state, Louisiana, shows the potential effects of the Republican plan on Medicaid recipients – notably, a decline in health for a large portion of the population, and an increase in the cost of healthcare.

      In January 2015, immediately after taking office, Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards issued an executive order expanding Medicaid by 21 percent, reaching 300,000 additional residents. As a result, a quarter of the state’s population is now covered under Medicaid.

  • Security

  • Defence/Aggression

    • Trump Lurches into Chaos and Conflict

      It seems clear – as much as anything is ‘”clear” – that the so-called Tomahawk “tweets” were intended as a message (in the sense that they did not constitute a military strategic act, per se), but even now, the address on these Tomahawk tweets remains disputed. Ostensibly, it was directed at Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, but Presidents Vladimir Putin of Russia, Xi Jinping of China, and Kim Jong Un of North Korea are considered probable addressees too (although no one seems certain of this, and U.S. statements are both confused and confusing).

    • Afghans Respond to Insult of U.S. Dropping Massive Bomb: “Would a Mother Do That to Any Children?”

      The “Mother of All Bombs” is the nickname for the bomb the U.S. dropped Thursday on Afghanistan, but our guests in Kabul say civilians there are asking if any mother would conduct such an attack. Basir Bita is a mentor with Afghan Youth Peace Volunteers, and Dr. Hakim is a medical doctor who has provided humanitarian relief in Afghanistan for over a decade. He works with Afghan Peace Volunteers, an inter-ethnic group of young Afghans dedicated to building nonviolent alternatives to war. We are also joined by Kathy Kelly of Voices for Creative Nonviolence, who is just back from Afghanistan, and Wazhmah Osman, professor of media and communication at Temple University and member of the Afghan American Artists and Writers Association.

    • Syria: Cui Bono?

      A military act must have a political aim. As Carl von Clausewitz famously said 200 years ago: war is the continuation of politics by other means.

      The two main opponents in the Syrian civil war are the Assad regime and Daesh. So what is the aim of the US? It sounds like a joke: The US wants to destroy both sides. Another joke: First it wants to destroy Daesh, therefore it bombs Assad.

      The destruction of Daesh is highly desirable. There are few more detestable groups in the world. But Daesh is an idea, rather than just an organization. The destruction of the Daesh state would disperse thousands of dedicated assassins all over the world.


      Syria was created by France after World War I. A part of it later split off and became Lebanon.

      Both are artificial creations. I doubt whether there are even today real “Syrians” and real “Lebanese”.

      Lebanon is a mountainous country, ideally suited for small sects which need to defend themselves. Over the centuries, many small sects found refuge there. As a result, Lebanon is full of such sects, which distrust each other – Sunni Muslims, Shiite Muslims, Maronite Christians, many other Christian sects, Druze, Kurds.

    • Trump Finds His Groove with Warmaking

      President Donald Trump has bathed in the praise from both Democrats and Republicans for his surprise missile attack on Syria last week, even as he prepared for a state dinner with the president of China at Trump’s elite Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida.

      As U.S. policies now push the world closer to World War III, I interviewed John. Pilger, an Emmy Award-winning filmmaker who has just completed his 60th film for TV, which anticipates a global conflagration.

      The Coming War on China, says Pilger, “reveals what the news doesn’t – that the world’s greatest military power, the United States, and the world’s second economic power, China, both nuclear-armed, are on the road to war.”

    • U.S. Insurers Sue Saudis For $4.2 Billion Over 9/11

      The 10 defendants in the lawsuit include Al Rajhi Bank, aviation contractor Dallah Avco, the Mohamed Binladin Co, the Muslim World League, and other charities, but the biggest target is the Saudi National Commercial Bank, which is majority state-owned. The Saudi government heavily pressured the Obama Administration to block the JASTA last year, threatening to crash the US treasury market if it led to lawsuits, but overwhelming Congressional support still got it passed into law.

      While there were more than a few lawsuits already filed in the past several weeks related to JASTA, this is by far the biggest, and most previous lawsuits are still in limbo as the court and lawyers try to combine them into various class action groups.

      Historically, US sovereign immunity laws have prevented suits against the Saudi government related to overseas terrorism. With the release of the Saudi-related portions of the 9/11 Report last year, however, such suits were inevitable, and the federal government could no longer protect the Saudis from litigation.

    • A Father Describes Saving His Daughter From U.S. Bombardment of Mosul

      On March 17, Ala’a Ali left his wife and 4-year-old daughter at the home of relatives in the al Jadida neighborhood of Mosul, and went home to wash before the morning call to prayer. Two minutes after he arrived home, a deafening explosion ripped through the neighborhood, engulfing the narrow street in black smoke.

      “I hid in the corner of the building, and smoke crept in through the windows,” 28-year-old Ali told The Intercept. “Then the smell hit me, and I could barely breathe.” As soon as he could, he bolted from his hiding place and ran to the scene of the explosion, and the house where he had left his family.

      It had been hit by an airstrike from U.S.-led coalition forces bombing Islamic State fighters.

    • Take a 3D tour of North Korea’s nuclear test site, thanks to open source intelligence

      Rumors have been flying around about the possibility of a North Korean nuclear test, thanks in part to activity at North Korea’s nuclear test site. If it is, this will be the sixth known nuclear test in 11 years — and a clear sign that North Korean arms development is continuing.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • CIA Director calls WikiLeaks an “enemy,” says Assange has “no First Amendment freedoms”

      In a speech Thursday at a Washington, DC think tank, CIA Director Michael Pompeo called the whistleblower site WikiLeaks a “non-state hostile intelligence service” and said news organizations that reveal the government’s crimes are “enemies” of the United States.

      Pompeo’s remarks announce an open break with the First Amendment’s protection of freedom of speech and a threat that the Trump administration will not tolerate opposition to war, surveillance and corporate plunder.

      Referring to WikiLeaks’ founder, Pompeo declared that “Julian Assange has no First Amendment freedoms.” Pompeo’s remarks were prompted by Assange’s April 11 op-ed in the Washington Post, in which the whistleblower defended WikiLeaks. The threat of US prosecution or assassination has forced Assange to seek refuge at the Ecuadorian embassy in London since 2012.

  • Finance

    • Trump’s Goldman Sachs Vampire Squid Presidency

      The things that come out of President Trump’s mouth seem to depend on who he talks to or what he sees on TV in the minutes immediately preceding his mouth motion.

      Based on his recent switchbacks, Trump has been spending a LOT of time talking to the alums of Wall Street powerhouse Goldman Sachs who now form his inner circle.

    • Workers cheated as federal contractors prosper

      For 11 years, Karla Quezada assembled sandwiches at the Subway in the food court of the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center, a sprawling complex in downtown Washington, D.C., owned by the U.S. General Services Administration.

      She routinely worked more than 40 hours a week, with no overtime pay. She worked holidays, also without extra compensation. Her paychecks took a hit whenever she stayed home sick.

      “I knew it was a federal building, but since everyone else was paying low wages, too, I just figured that’s how it was supposed to be,” Quezada, 40, said in a recent interview at her home in Arlington, Virginia.

    • US foreign aid, explained

      President Donald Trump seeks to fulfill his campaign promise to “put America first” in his proposed 2018 budget.

      “This includes deep cuts to foreign aid,” Trump said in his opening message to his proposed budget. “It is time to prioritize the security and well-being of Americans, and to ask the rest of the world to step up and pay its fair share.”

      His budget would slash funding for the State Department and U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) to US$25.6 billion, down 28 percent from the current level. Although the budget doesn’t specify how much USAID alone would lose, if enacted, these deep cuts would significantly disrupt America’s ability to deliver foreign aid.

    • Roots of Trump’s ‘Economic Nationalism’

      As the Trump administration seeks to develop a coherent policy on global trade and the promotion of American manufacturing, looking to the current of Hamilton, Clay, Carey and Lincoln could, in the best case scenario, lead to an important shift in modern politics; at the least, it should allow for a deeper discussion of what protectionism actually means in U.S. history, beyond the caricature that has dominated the public discussion to date.

      The President is clearly picking and choosing his references, not without some confusion; indeed he speaks glowingly of Andrew Jackson, whose economic approach was diametrically opposed to that of Clay and other representatives of the economic nationalist current.

    • Britain set to lose EU ‘crown jewels’ of banking and medicine agencies

      The EU is set to inflict a double humiliation on Theresa May, stripping Britain of its European agencies within weeks, while formally rejecting the prime minister’s calls for early trade talks.

      The Observer has learned that EU diplomats agreed their uncompromising position at a crunch meeting on Tuesday, held to set out the union’s strategy in the talks due to start next month.

      A beauty contest between member states who want the European banking and medicine agencies, currently located in London, will begin within two weeks, with selection criteria to be unveiled by the president of the European council, Donald Tusk.

    • Labor union calls out Peru over land bond dispute

      The Teamsters labor union has escalated an investor dispute against Peru, arguing that its members’ pensions could be thrown into jeopardy as a result of the government’s alleged failure to pay investors $5 billion worth of debt tied up in land bonds.

      “Many of our pension funds are holding defaulted Peruvian land bonds through various investment vehicles,” Teamsters President James Hoffa said in a March 24 letter to Peru’s U.S. envoy, Carlos Pareja, that was obtained by POLITICO. “We believe that America can no longer allow countries that take advantage of our large domestic market to get away with defaulting on their debts, particularly when it hurts our workers and retirees. The Teamsters union calls on the Peruvian government to make good on its responsibility to pay its debts.”

    • Rockhopper launches arbitration claim against Italy

      Rockhopper Exploration is fighting for compensation from Italy after it banned offshore drilling, leaving the company unable to develop one of its oil and gas fields.

      The Aim-listed explorer said that it had begun international arbitration against the country for “very significant monetary damages” over the loss of future profits from its Ombrina Mare field.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Five Obama-era tech policies on the chopping block
    • Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Travel Triggers Cost and Ethics Concerns
    • White House says it will keep visitor logs secret, reversing transparency policy introduced by Barack Obama

      The visitor logs, which are maintained by the Secret Service, are a record of everyone who enters the White House. Watchdog groups claim publication of the logs are crucial to government transparency.

    • The Trump Administration Lost Again in Court, This Time on Voter ID

      A federal court in Texas has again ruled the state’s 2011 voter identification law intentionally discriminated against minorities. It’s the latest loss in the case for Texas — which has spent years unsuccessfully defending the law. But it also has implications for the Trump administration.

      In February, the new administration abruptly abandoned the crux of the Justice Department’s opposition to the voter ID law. Government lawyers also asked the judge to delay her decision on whether the law intentionally discriminated against blacks and Latinos.

    • How Facebook and the New York Times corporatised ‘fake news’

      What is new is the extent to which fake news has overtaken the media landscape and the forms that this misinformation takes. News pieces from far-right ideologues like Alex Jones’ Infowars or Breitbart or Fox News constitute one type of propaganda. Another propagator of deception are Macedonians pumping out stories through politically named websites, more to generate personal income than to push a particular agenda. But the third – and perhaps surprising source – are the mainstream marketers.

      In the last few years, a new marketing trend – what I call “Black Ops Advertising” – has overtaken the digital landscape. Black ops, or covert, advertising is commercial content that has been obscured so as to appear to be editorial content. These hidden sales messages primarily take two forms: native advertising and content marketing.

      Native advertising is any type of sponsored content that has been created to be indigenous to the site within which it appears. You are likely most aware of this in the form of the ads that appear within your newsfeed on Facebook or Twitter. These in-feed native ads look like anything else that a friend or family member might send to you, but with some limited indicators that there is an advertiser attached – such as “sponsored” or “promoted” in faded gray type. An increasingly popular form of this is ‘custom native’: advertising produced by the publisher for the marketer.

    • Trump 90 Days Ago: “My People Will Have a Full Report on Hacking Within 90 Days!”

      Exactly 90 days ago — on Friday, January 13 — Donald Trump, then president-elect, issued a series of tweets attacking the claims in former British MI6 officer Christopher Steele’s “dossier” that the Russian government had long been “cultivating, supporting and assisting” Trump.

      Trump called the allegations “phony” and “totally made up” and pledged that “My people will have a full report on hacking within 90 days!”

      No such full report has appeared, nor is there any evidence that an investigation by the Trump administration is currently underway — or was ever initiated.

      Reached by phone, Senior Assistant White House Press Secretary Michael Short said, “I’m in the parking lot, I don’t have an update” on the promised report. Asked when he might be able to provide an update, Short repeated, “I’m in the parking lot.” Then he said “I’ve got to run” and hung up.

    • ‘What, You Chicken?’ Coast-to-Coast Protests Dare Trump to Release Taxes

      From the National Mall in Washington, D.C. to Fairbanks, Alaska, to the Mar-a-Lago Resort in West Palm Beach, Florida, Americans are taking to the streets on Saturday to send a clear message to President Donald Trump: “Release your tax returns.”

      As residents prepare to submit their own yearly tax forms, the president continues to evade scrutiny by keeping his own returns hidden from view—breaking generations of precedent and prompting many to wonder what the financial disclosures might reveal.

      “Without seeing his tax returns, we have no idea what he’s hiding—shady business deals? Financial ties to foreign countries? Conflicts of interest?—or who his policies are really benefitting,” state the organizers, who include alumni of the Center for American Progress (CAP) Action Fund, the Indivisible movement, and the Working Families Party, among other progressive organizations.

    • Trump is Hiring Lobbyists and Top Ethics Official Says ‘There’s No Transparency’

      President Trump has stocked his administration with a small army of former lobbyists and corporate consultants who are now in the vanguard of the effort to roll back government regulations at the agencies they once sought to influence, according to an analysis of government records by the New York Times in collaboration with ProPublica.

    • DeVos Pick to Head Civil Rights Office Once Said She Faced Discrimination for Being White

      The new acting head of the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights once complained that she experienced discrimination because she is white.

      As an undergraduate studying calculus at Stanford University in the mid-1990s, Candice Jackson “gravitated” toward a section of the class that provided students with extra help on challenging problems, she wrote in a student publication. Then she learned that the section was reserved for minority students.

      “I am especially disappointed that the University encourages these and other discriminatory programs,” she wrote in the Stanford Review. “We need to allow each person to define his or her own achievements instead of assuming competence or incompetence based on race.”

    • No More Silver Lining: Trump Turns Clintonian

      The election of Donald Trump was a catastrophe. This was clear before Election Day; it is even clearer now.

      Nevertheless, his victory was not a total disaster — Hillary Clinton lost. She and her husband had done enough harm already. Three decades of Clintons is enough.

      I put the point this way because with the Republicans’ success in replacing the late Antonin Scalia with Neil Gorsuch, a smoother but more reactionary jurist, the Supreme Court is on my mind.

      The allusion is, of course, to an infamous remark of the much venerated – and ostensibly liberal –Oliver Wendell Holmes Junior in a ruling (Buck v. Bell, 1927) that permitted the state of Virginia to require the sterilization of an intellectually disabled woman. Holmes declared: “three generations of imbeciles is enough.”

    • Trump Uses Tiny Nation to Insult Russia

      Donald Trump has just approved Montenegro’s accession into NATO, the latest sign that hopes for a new détente with Russia have been dashed. Though Montenegro is a tiny nation and its inclusion doesn’t significantly affect NATO’s capabilities, the move does send a clear message to Moscow that Trump is continuing his reversal from his campaign promises of warming up to Russia and cooling off to NATO into the opposite.

    • Erdoğan Claims Ultimate Power in Turkey After Nearly Split Vote

      In a very close—and closely watched—referendum vote, Turks on Sunday handed President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan what many say is authoritarian rule.

      With more than 99 percent of ballots counted, Erdoğan claimed a win with 51.36 percent voting in favor of the referendum and 48.64 voting against.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Photos: ‘Exorcists’ Attempt To Cast Demons Out Of Alleged NSA Spy Building In Tribeca

      While the Christian world focuses on Easter today, a different group of people with spirituality on their minds showed up in Tribeca yesterday afternoon with the aim of casting out some devils from a building that’s been reported to be an NSA listening station.

      As mentioned earlier this week, a group of demonstrators organized by editors of The Quiet American showed up in front of the AT&T building at 33 Thames Street to call attention to the purported NSA activity going on at the building and to “exorcise the malevolent energy and information coursing through the AT&T monolith.”

    • ‘Released docs on alleged NSA malware provide instructions for criminals’

      Alleged NSA cyber-infiltration tools empower criminals and intelligence agencies to develop more in this direction, and could be used by anyone able to reproduce and modify the code, software developer and co-founder of Dyne.org Denis Roio says.

      A hacking group named Shadow Brokers has published what it claims are some of the cyber-infiltration tools used by the NSA, alleging that the American spy agency used them to break into banking systems.

      The leaked NSA malware is said to be capable of breaking into more than half of computers using a Microsoft Windows operating system.

      The hacking group behind the revelation also says the NSA may have penetrated several banking services, including SWIFT.

    • More On Private Internet Access

      So my biggest issue now is that I can’t use my email. That’s pretty surprising, as I wouldn’t think using a VPN would make any difference for that. I don’t actually care about my Google Apps account, but I need to be able to read my Igalia mail in Evolution. (Note: My actual IP seems to leak in my email headers, but I don’t care. My name is on my emails anyway. I just care that it works.)

    • [Older] Government Goes After Critic on Twitter, Remembers Constitution Just in Time

      The attempt to unmask a critical Twitter account was an affront to our fundamental right to anonymous expression.

      For a few weeks, the government seemed to forget that the Constitution protects the right to speak anonymously. Thankfully, the prospect of a legal challenge from Twitter and the ACLU appears to have jogged its memory.

    • Hippies Exorcise New York ‘Spyscraper’ of NSA Demons

      Because today, at noon, an exorcism was performed on the AT&T Building in Lower Manhattan. If you’re not familiar, the AT&T Building is a building that would be rejected by the production team behind Power Rangers as too obvious a location for a supervillian lair. It is 550 feet tall. It has no windows. It is clad entirely in concrete thick enough to withstand an atomic weapon. It has three subterranean levels and enough food to support 1,500 people for three weeks, supposedly. At night, it remains unlit, an imposing clot of concrete that casts 29 stories of Manhattan’s glittery skyline in permafrost shadow.

    • NSA surveillance protested with mock prayers, chants

      “Exorcists” wearing tinfoil hats and burning sage staged a faux purification ritual in Manhattan’s TriBeCa neighborhood Saturday outside a building that they said was an outpost used by the U.S. government to surveil everyday Americans’ phone calls, texts and internet usage.

    • FBI Uses BitTorrent to Find and Catch Child Porn Offenders

      The FBI is using BitTorrent clients, specifically modified for law enforcement purposes, to track down people who share child porn and prosecute them. The software in question is configured to download complete files from a single suspect, to confirm that this person has the illegal content in his or her possession.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Sharia Councils and Sexual Abuse in Britain

      If one asks how all of this jibes with British law, the answer is that it does not.

    • Jakarta election challenger Anies accused of courting Islamic vote amid religious divide [iophk: ""political islam" redundant term"]

      “He is going to mosques, and then preaching in the mosque and he also shows his closeness to radical groups like the FPI [the Islamic Defenders Front].

    • Dorm debate led to death in Pakistan ‘blasphemy killing’: witnesses

      The day before, a heated debate over religion with fellow students broke out at the dorm and led to people accusing Khan of blasphemy against Islam. That attracted a crowd that grew to several hundred people, according to witnesses.

      The mob kicked in the door, dragged Khan from his room and beat him to death, witnesses and police said.

    • For-Profit School Chain Camelot Suffers Setback Following Abuse Allegations

      The Muscogee County School Board in Columbus, Georgia, dealt another blow to embattled Camelot Education when it voted Monday night to delay for three months a decision on whether to hire the company to run its alternative education programs.

      The delay in awarding the $6.4 million annual contract comes in the wake of a recent report by ProPublica and Slate that more than a dozen Camelot students were allegedly shoved, beaten or thrown by staff members — incidents almost always referred to as “slamming.” The for-profit Camelot runs alternative programs across the country for more than 3,000 students, most of whom have emotional or behavioral difficulties or have fallen far behind academically.

    • ‘The Tamil Nadu factor’: demanding justice for genocide in Sri Lanka

      From politicians to protestors, the people of Tamil Nadu are making waves in Indian politics, rallying around the need for justice for the war crimes committed against Sri Lanka’s Tamils.

    • Students at Pakistani University Lynch Classmate Falsely Accused of Blasphemy

      The brutal lynching of a journalism student by classmates at a Pakistani university on Thursday, shortly after he was accused of blasphemy by administrators, appalled civil society activists, and provided new evidence of the corrosive effects of the nation’s strict blasphemy laws.

    • Snipers and Infiltrators at Standing Rock: Quashing Protests at Taxpayer Expense

      The inner-workings and cost of the government’s militant and violent crackdown on peaceful Standing Rock protesters have been trickling in these past few months, yet it hasn’t received the headlines it all deserves. In March, MUCKROCK was provided with an unredacted look at Indiana’s Department of Homeland Security’s EMAC (Emergency Management Assistance Compact) operation at Standing Rock, and just this week files and photos obtained by journalist Mike Best from Ohio’s State Highway Patrol confirm that at least one sniper was deployed on a nearby hill, overlooking the protests.

      First, here’s a look at Indiana’s EMAC, which was asked to join North Dakota’s efforts to silence Standing Rock protests at taxpayer expense. For 18 days, from October to November of last year, 37 officers from Indianapolis PD were sent to North Dakota’s Morton County. Estimates of the cost of sending these cops, including their equipment, transport and commodities, exceeded $725,000. Wisconsin’s Dane County Sheriff’s Office also sent 13 deputies, with a total cost of $91,166 per day for an eight day stint.

    • “Worse Since Trump’s Election” — For-Profit I.C.E. Jail Faces Second Hunger Strike in Two Years

      A hunger strike at a privately-run immigration detention facility in Tacoma, Wash. is slated to enter its third day on Thursday.

      More than 750 people are participating, according to supporters holding a demonstration at noon on Wednesday, in front of the Northwest Detention Center (NWDC). The rally is being held, in part, to see if the hunger strike will continue.

      Inmates began refusing meals at lunchtime on Monday, in protest over conditions at the privately-run prison. Specifically, they want speedier hearings, improved food and healthcare access, and lower prices at the prison’s store.

      The hunger strike was also launched to protest working conditions at NWDC. Inmates are paid $1 every day for fulfilling jobs that prison managers need completed. Despite the pitiful compensation they receive, some have reported wage theft.

      “Some have even been denied the $1/day payment, and have been given a bag of chips in exchange for several nights of waxing the prison’s floors,” Latino Rebels said on Monday.

    • Ralph Nader Explains Why United Airlines Has “Total Unbridled Discretion to Throw You Off a Plane”

      And what United Airlines did in the flight from Chicago to Louisville, when they wanted to get four seats empty for four flight attendants deadheading it to Louisville to get on another plane, was offer vouchers that expire in one year. And they got three out of the four, and they picked a doctor, Dao, and called the security when he objected, and dragged him off the plane. And a billion people have seen that.

    • United gave doctor’s luggage the runaround, too

      “Instead, the airline flew their luggage to Louisville, Kentucky. And instead of delivering it to their home, they sent it to their medical practice office,” he added.

    • The women who sleep with a stranger to save their marriage

      A number of online services are charging “divorced” Muslim women thousands of pounds to take part in “halala” Islamic marriages, a BBC investigation has found. Women pay to marry, have sex with and then divorce a stranger, so they can get back with their first husbands.

    • Indonesian gay couple beaten on video before vigilantes hand them over to religious police

      The pair are to go on trial in an Islamic court for having gay sex and could receive 100 strokes of the cane if found guilty, officials in the conservative province of Aceh said, sparking calls for their release.

    • Why rightwingers are desperate for Sweden to ‘fail’

      There are few countries in the world that have “lost their innocence” as many times as Sweden. Even before a suspected terrorist and Isis supporter killed four and injured many more in last week’s attack in central Stockholm, Sweden’s policies were being portrayed on the programmes of Fox News and pages of the Daily Mail as, at best, exercises in well-meaning-but-naive multiculturalism, and at worst terrorist appeasement.

      So, when terrible events take place, they are framed as evidence of the decline and fall of the European social democratic project, the failure of European immigration policies and of Swedish innocence lost.

    • Another Startling Verdict for Forensic Science

      Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced this week that the Justice Department is closing a federal agency formed four years ago that was designed to instill more scientific rigor in the forensic sciences. The National Commission on Forensic Science had been working on best practices for crime labs and had been funding research to assess reliability in whole fields of evidence. Sessions said a new approach will be outlined by an as-yet-unnamed “senior forensic advisor.”

      As ProPublica originally detailed in April 2015, there has been plenty of reporting over the years on faulty forensics.

    • Trump’s Wall: How Much Money Does the Government Have For It Now?

      During the campaign, President Donald Trump promised to build a wall across the southern border some 1,000 miles long. The number of miles the president currently has money for: seven.

      U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials delivered the startling news this week at a conference in San Antonio for businesses eager to win contracts for beefing up security along the border.

      Although estimates to build the wall soar past $20 billion, the agency has so far managed to scrape together only about $20 million, according to its top contracting official. The rest of the cash will have to come from Congress, which so far has proven reluctant to foot the bill.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality


Links 15/4/2017: OpenELEC 8.0.1 Released, Windows Security Up in Flames

Posted in News Roundup at 4:18 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish



  • Desktop

    • The Future of Desktop Ubuntu

      There hasn’t been this much news about a single Linux distro in like forever. Well, maybe when Caldera, operating under the name SCO, sued IBM for a cool billion, but other than that…nada. One thing’s for sure, the announcements that have been coming out of the Isle of Man for the last couple of weeks mean that Canonical has forever changed its course.

      It also indicates that Mark Shuttleworth has decided that it’s now do or die time — you know, put up or shut up, money talks and bullcrap walks and all that. This means that from this point forward, Canonical will no longer be a company focused on the desktop. From here on out, it’s enterprise all the way, baby.

      That’s probably going to work out well for enterprise users of Linux — time will tell. It doesn’t bode well for down in the trenches users of desktop Linux. From here on out, at Canonical, desktop Linux will be job number two. If that.

    • Galago Pro Available for Preorder

      Today Denver-based System76 allowed for preorder of the new Galago Pro. The Galago Pro is a 13” aluminum-body laptop, weighing in at 2.87lbs (1.3kg). The new laptop is very thin, but despite its size sports up to 32GB of RAM, 6TB of storage, and a 7 th Gen Intel i5 or i7 CPU. On top of that, the Galago Pro has many ports missing from modern ultra-thin laptops, such as an ethernet port. The starting price is $899.

    • Old Vista Laptop Into A Linux ZFS File Server Part 2

      In the previous Linux ZFS File Server article I put forth a list of parts that allowed me to utilize an old Vista laptop as a Linux+ZFS fileserver. In this article, I will detail how to put all the pieces together, from installing the Linux OS to connecting all the hard drives.

      First, we need to connect all the hardware. The eSATA card needs to be plugged into the slot, the USB3 Ethernet adapter needs to go in an available USB2 slot and connected with a CAT5 or better (CAT5e, CAT6) Ethernet cord to your existing router.

    • Old Vista Laptop Into A Linux ZFS File Server Part 3

      In the previous article, I showed you how to install Lubuntu 14.04 64-bit and install the important bits of Samba and the ZFS filesystem. In this article, I will give you the interesting details on how to get your Probox-connected disks up and running as a ZFS RAID10, starting with (1) disk and growing to a full 4-disk RAID10 in real-time. Please note: Follow these steps at your own risk. I take no responsibility for data loss! You will need to be careful and make sure you are using the right disks when entering administration commands.

  • Server

    • Rancher Launches Tiny Linux Distro

      Rancher Labs is announcing general availability today for RancherOS, the stripped-down version of Linux that the company uses with its own container management platform.

      The container management platform, called simply Rancher, is what the startup is best known for, and it doesn’t even have to run on RancherOS. It can run on any variety of Linux.

    • Containers are Linux

      Containers are Linux. The operating system that revolutionized the data center over the past two decades is now aiming to revolutionize how we package, deploy and manage applications in the cloud. Of course, you’d expect a Red Hatter to say that, but the facts speak for themselves. Interest in containers technology continues to grow, as more organizations realize the benefits they can provide for how they manage applications and infrastructure. But it’s easy to get lost in all the hype and forget what containers are really about. Ultimately, containers are a feature of Linux. Containers have been a part of the Linux operating system for more than a decade, and go back even further in UNIX. That’s why, despite the very recent introduction of Windows containers, the majority of containers we see are in fact Linux containers. That also means that if you’re deploying containers, your Linux choices matter a lot.

    • Running system services in containers

      Our computers run many programs that talk to the Internet, and the Internet is an unsafe place as we all know—with states and assorted organizations collecting “zero-day exploits” to exploit them as they see fit. One of the big tasks of operating system distributions has been to keep track of known software vulnerabilities and patch their packages as soon as possible.

      When we look closer, many vulnerabilities out there can be exploited because of a combination of two major weaknesses of GNU/Linux and similar Unix-like operating systems: lack of memory-safety in the C language family, and ambient authority in the operating system itself. The former leads to a huge class of bugs that become security issues: buffer overflows, use-after-free, and so on. The latter makes them more exploitable because processes have access to many resources beyond those they really need.

    • Enterprise Container Spending Is Skyrocketing

      A new study from container data services company Portworx, released on the eve of Dockercon 2017, bodes well for container vendors.

      Docker and other application container platforms are rapidly gaining traction in enterprise IT environments and spending is following suit. In its survey of 491 IT professionals, Portworx discovered that nearly a third (32 percent) of organizations are poised to spend $500,000 or more on container license and usage fees in 2017. Last year, only five percent were spending as much.

  • Kernel Space

    • Big Linux bug, low security concerns

      This Linux/Android bug sure sounded bad.

      The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and Symantec announced a LinuxKernel ipv4/udp.c bug that made the LinuxKernel 4.4 and earlier vulnerable to remote code-execution. In turn, an attacker could exploit this issue to execute arbitrary code. Worse still, even failed exploits might cause denial-of-service attacks.

      There’s only one problem with this analysis and the resulting uproar: It’s wrong.

      Yes, the bug existed. NIST described it as a “critical” bug, and its description makes it sound like it can open Linux and Android-powered devices to attacks via UDP network traffic. The important phrase is “sound like.”

    • Graphics Stack

    • Benchmarks

      • AMD Ryzen 5 1600X Linux Benchmarks and Review: Good CPU Poor Value

        Finally, we have the top model of the AMD Ryzen 5 launch series, the AMD Ryzen 7 1600X. This is a really interesting CPU. In terms of specs, it is a 6 core 12 thread part with 16MB L3 cache and a 95W TDP. Immediately that gives it an advantage in a market where the average consumer space PC has, at most, 4 cores and 8 threads. While a lot of sites are pitting the AMD Ryzen 5 1600X against competition from Intel, we have the full Ryzen 5 and Ryzen 7 lineups to pit the CPU against. In our view, the AMD Ryzen 5 1600X is a great CPU, but it struggles in the value department against AMD’s other CPU offerings. With a dozen test systems set up, mostly for DemoEval, and running and over a month worth of hours on the clock with Ryzen, we have a good idea regarding where value lies in the continuum.

      • Blender Cycles: OpenCL now is on par with CUDA

        AMD videocard owners rejoice! With the work on the split Cycles OpenCL Kernel, the performance of AMD GPU’s has increased dramatically.

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

      • Qt World Summit 2017 Early Bird Tickets Now Available!
      • ArcGIS Runtime SDK 100.0 by Esri is here

        In 100.0, Qt developers have even more capabilities for adding mapping and geographic analysis to native apps than ever before. 3D geographic visualization, 2D vector tiled basemap support, enriched error handling in the API, and additional geoprocessing tools are just a few of the new highlights.

      • Progressive Web App and Planet KDE

        Since I started to programming more serious, was with Qt and with the goal to made Desktop applications. And I was running with all my strength from Web Development. My little experience with the web made me be pissed. It’s hard to debug and find solutions for a web problem, because exist too many solutions for the same problem in a lot of languages, see for example the Js frameworks that each day a new one appears.

      • Kubuntu 17.04 Released!
      • Qt 3D Animation Easter Teaser

        As an Easter treat here is a quick taster of some of the animation goodies coming to Qt 3D along with Qt 5.9. In this post we will briefly outline the steps needed to create a simple Qt 3D application and the assets it uses to produce this little animation:

      • WikiToLearn: now available in German!

        Thanks to the work of our volunteers, with a special mention to Matthias Heil and Karin Cienkowski, we’re happy to announce the official opening of the German portal of WikiToLearn. We hope it will be of great service to the German community and we’re sure it will help creating even more free textbooks for everyone to use.

      • KActionRunner

        Sometimes I create a small widget for my own usecase and never blog about it, but this one I think it should be pushed upstream. It’s a small KComboBox that uses a KActionCollection based model to display *all* of the actionCollection’s actions.

  • Distributions

    • Reviews

      • Q4OS 1.8.3 Orion review – Bayeux distro

        Q4OS is like an ancient tapestry. Beautiful, stylish, iconic, but then, also fraying at the seams. The initial impression is mighty. You can’t argue that. I was amazed by the virtual machine setup, and loved the live session even on the LG laptop. But then, the more I used it, the more I started seeing problems.

        Orion does some things exceptionally well – it’s friendly, it’s designed to assist newbs in getting underway, it has a calm presence, and it’s very frugal. But the hardware side of things is mediocre. First, no boot on UEFI. Then, no smartphone or Bluetooth support. Wonky suspend & resume. Moreover, customization is weak, UI has some rather rusty spots, and the multimedia front can benefit from improvement. The worst part is, prehistoric bugs linger, souring the experience.

        All in all, Q4OS 1.8.3 Orion is the kind of desktop that got worse the more I used it, rather than better. Eventually, I settled in and enjoyed most of the experience, but there’s a lot missing that most people take for granted. Curiously, it does some things exceptionally well, especially where some other distros struggle. But the balance isn’t worth it. At the end of the day, TDE isn’t the promised desktop and Q4OS isn’t the promised distro. Good, but a lot more effort is needed to nail that professional feel. If you have an old laptop, you should definitely give it a try, just remember that the Ghost of KDE3.5 may come to haunt you. 5.5-6/10.

    • New Releases

      • [Stable] OpenELEC 8.0.1 released

        OpenELEC 8.0.1 release has been published. Users running OpenELEC 8.0.0 or later with auto-update enabled will be prompted on-screen to reboot and apply the update once it has been downloaded and enabled in some hours. Users running older OpenELEC releases or with auto-update disabled will need to manually update. If you would like to update from an older OpenELEC release please read update instructions/advice on the Wiki before updating. Manual update files can be obtained from the downloads page.

    • Red Hat Family

      • An Important Linux Kernel Security Patch Is Available for CentOS 7, Update Now

        CentOS maintainer Johnny Hughes has informed the community about the availability of yet another important kernel security update, this time for users of the CentOS Linux 7 operating system series.

      • Red Hat Updates OpenShift Container Platform

        Red Hat officially announced the general availability of its OpenShift Container Platform 3.5 release on April 13, providing new application container features.

        OpenShift is Red Hat’s packaged distribution of the open-source Kubernetes container management and orchestration system. The OpenShift 3.5 update is based on the Kubernetes 1.5 update that was released in December 2016. Kubernetes 1.6 is actually the most recent release of KubernetesRed Hat CloudForms and debuted on March 29.

      • Red Hat Tunes Up OpenShift For Legacy Code In Kubernetes

        When Red Hat began building out its OpenShift cloud application platform more than five years ago, the open source software vendor found itself in a similar situation as others in the growing platform-as-a-service (PaaS) space: they were all using technologies developed in-house because there were no real standards in the industry that could be used to guide them.

      • Manage OpenStack deployments with Red Hat’s Platform Director

        An OpenStack deployment doesn’t always come easy for an IT team. Learn how Red Hat’s Platform Director can help with OpenStack implementation and lifecycle management.

      • Finance

      • Fedora

        • Fedora Workstation: Get the features you want now

          Christian Schaller is a long time free software contributor and advocate. He’s also a manager of emerging platform development at Red Hat. The groups in this area include desktop engineering, where developers work on many GNOME features seen in Fedora. Recently Christian posted on his blog about desktop features and improvements users want. He also discussed how Fedora delivers them.

          Many such comments came in a recent Hacker News thread concerning Ubuntu. But listening to users doesn’t stop with just Linux users. Christian writes, “I often read such articles and threads about non-Linux systems too, to help understand what people are looking for and thus enable us to prioritize what we do with Fedora Workstation even better.”

        • The new Fedora Project mission statement

          When we started Fedora.next, we decided to work underneath the mission as it stood. This has worked out well enough, but we’re coming up to what feels like the limit. This is clear in the “Budget.next” process — it’s one thing to say that spending is to be determined in public based on clear objectives and measurable results, but for it to really work, those objectives need to be attached to a goal with a more clear scope.

    • Debian Family

      • The State Of Debian 9.0 Stretch

        Debian developers are preparing for the final phase of the development freeze on Debian 9.0 “Stretch” and it’s looking like the official release might not be too far out.

      • Status on the stretch release
      • Underestimating Debian

        I had two issues in the last days that lead me a bit into panic until they got solved. In both cases the issue was external to Debian but I first thought that the problem was in Debian. I’m not sure why I had those thoughts, I should be more confident in myself, this awesome operating system, and the community around it! The good thing is that I’ll be more confident from now on, and I’ve learned that hurry is not a good friend, and I should face my computer “problems” (and everything in life, probably) with a bit more patience (and backups).

      • Derivatives

        • Canonical/Ubuntu

          • Canonical Gets Serious About Doing Enterprise Right

            With what we now know — that Canonical is working overtime to attract investors — it become apparent that the activity we’ve seen coming from the Isle of Man during the past week or so is a carefully orchestrated series of events designed to both reassure its enterprise customers and to get word to potential investors that Canonical is getting its priorities in order.

            It all started last week with Mark Shuttleworth’s announcement that the company is killing Unity, which has been Ubuntu’s default desktop since 2011. Development of Unity 8 is ceasing immediately, he said, and Unity 7 will no longer be the default desktop, beginning with version 18.04 which will be released next April. With the death of Unity comes the death of Ubuntu’s phone and convergence efforts, which never got traction, as well as the company’s go-it-alone display server, Mir, which had been seen as a disruption by many Linux developers. Mir will still have a life, however, in the company’s IoT offerings.

          • What To Do After Installing Ubuntu 17.04 Zesty Zapus

            If you’re a new comer to Ubuntu in 17.04 Zesty Zapus release, then welcome, this article is for you. This introduces some options you can do once finished installing Ubuntu. There are 13 options listed you can choose, mainly about applications and some tweakings. You’ll find some list about software replacements (if you come from Windows) and also educational apps. I hope this what-to-do article helps you to be a new Ubuntu user easier. Enjoy Ubuntu 17.04!

          • Ubuntu 17.04 (Zesty Zapus) Available For Download
          • Ubuntu 17.04 “Zesty Zapus” All Flavors Download Links
          • Ubuntu 17.04 Zesty Zapus Has Been Released (Download Links)
          • Downloading Ubuntu 17.04 with Zsync, Saving Bandwidth Cost
          • Ubuntu 17.04 Released, Not Much Changed

            Canonical finally announced the release of Ubuntu 17.04. Codenamed “Zesty Zapus”. In general, there doesn’t exist any new features or important updates. Just newer packages with bugs fixed and problems addressed from previous releases.

          • Ubuntu Unity – Present, Past and Future Discussed
          • Ubuntu GNOME 17.04 Released and What’s Next

            The Ubuntu GNOME developers are proud to announce our latest non-LTS release 17.04. For the first time in Ubuntu GNOME’s history, this release includes the latest stable release of GNOME, 3.24.

            Although Ubuntu’s release schedule was originally centered around shipping the latest GNOME release, this had not been possible since Ubuntu GNOME’s first release four years ago.

          • “Jono Bacon” – Lunduke Hour – Apr 11, 2017

            In this episode of the Lunduke Hour, I talk with my buddy Jono Bacon. The former Community Manager for Canonical waxes poetic about the recent announcements and what they mean — and offers some advice for the current team at Canonical. He also says the word “community” very few times. So proud of the little guy.

          • Return Home to GNOME

            A while back I wrote about the importance of those of us in the Ubuntu community coming together around Ubuntu’s Unity 8 project. The post was called “Return Home and Unify”. I wrote that in order to promote the idea to contributing to the desktop that would inevitably ship on Ubuntu so that the experience would be a good one for its users. I wanted convergence to be a real thing, so that there would be a more open alternative to iOS (closed-source) and Android (open source but heavily controlled by Google) in the phone and tablet space. But that Unity 8 isn’t happening and, here’s the kicker, I’m just fine with it.

          • 6 Things Gnome Shell needs to do Before Ubuntu 18.04

            Few days ago Canonical, company behind Ubuntu, announced that they will end development of their signature desktop environment, Unity. Starting with 18.04 release, Ubuntu will ship with Gnome Shell as the default environment. Although I have been using Ubuntu Gnome as my primary work environment for about two years now, this made me a bit sad since Unity 8 preview looked really amazing.

          • Snaps and snapcraft.io explained in 3 minutes
          • [Video] Ubuntu convergence Phone Tablet Desktop
          • Flavours and Variants

            • Ubuntu Mate 17.04 – The Refined Gold Standard

              In this video we take a look at some of the refinements of Ubuntu Mate 17.04 and I get into a little history of the OS from Martin himself. This is a great all around distro and it is worth your time to try it out. Thanks for watching and thanks to everyone involved on the project.

            • The theater of Linux distributions

              The two most extreme Theater distros are Linux Lite and LXLE. The only thing that gives them their character are the PPAs they’re built with, and if even one of those PPAs isn’t maintained by its creator, the whole thing falls apart. You can’t do any updates but the ones they demand, and you have to do every one of those. If you add something or change something, it’s all over, they just disintegrate. Can’t afford to have actors ad-lib!

            • Welcome Ubuntu Budgie 17.04: A Short Review

              Ubuntu Budgie begins its debut as official Ubuntu family in 17.04 “Zesty Zapus” release. It’s a new choice of flavors with new desktop environment (Budgie) as operating system for us. Ubuntu Budgie is crafted purely for desktop use, no tablet-like interface (like Unity or GNOME), thanks to Budgie DE. So I want to introduce Ubuntu Budgie 17.04 to beginners especially if they’re new to GNU/Linux. I hope you’ll enjoy Ubuntu Budgie starting from this review.

  • Devices/Embedded

Free Software/Open Source

  • What is GNU social and is Mastodon Social a “Twitter Clone”?

    Mastodon Social is the name of an instance on GNU social which uses the OStatus protocol to connect to a vast variety of servers in what’s known as a federation. Mastodon is also the name of the software being used on that server, which was developed by Eugen “Gargron” Rochko. It was built with Ruby on Rails, Redux, and React.js. I learned the latter from the Wikipedia page, which is about the extent of research given by any of the other articles published this week.

  • Events

    • Registration for Linux Plumbers Conference is now open

      The 2017 Linux Plumbers Conference organizing committee is pleased to announce that the registration for this year’s conference is now open. Information on how to register can be found here [1]. Registration prices and cutoff dates are published in the ATTEND [2] page of the web site. A reminder that we are following a quota system to release registration slots. Therefore the early registration rate will remain in effect until early registration closes on June 18 2017, or the quota limit (150) is reached, whatever comes earlier. As usual, contact us [3] if you have questions.

    • CloudNativeCon and KubeCon Europe 2017: an overview

      CloudNativeCon and KubeCon Europe 2017 took place in Berlin on March 29th and 30th, and they were packed with clever things you can do in, around, and on top of, Kubernetes. It is possible that not every reader of LWN is familiar with Kubernetes, so I’d like to give a brief description of it before I describe any of the talks that I heard there. To do that, I’ll have to at least mention tools, containerization, cloud-native computing and microservices, and the Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF).

      Containers are an elegant way to combine two Linux primitives, control groups and and namespaces, with loopback filesystems to provide isolated structures that in many ways resemble virtual machines (VMs), though they don’t have their own kernels. It is important to remember, however, that they are not actually VMs; no less an authority than Jessie Frazelle, who maintained Docker and now hacks on containers for Google when not speaking at KubeCon 2017, says exactly that in her blog. If you treat your containers like VMs, you’re using them wrong, and things may not end well if you do that in production.

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice

  • BSD

    • 1.3.0 Development Preview: New icon themes

      As version 1.3.0 of the Lumina desktop starts getting closer to release, I want to take a couple weeks and give you all some sneak peaks at some of the changes/updates that we have been working on (and are in the process of finishing up).

      This week’s preview covers the new icon theme which will be distributed/used by default in the upcoming version of Lumina.

      The “material-design-[light/dark]” themes[1] are collections of ~800 SVG icons (each) from the Google “material design” application icon theme[2] plus some of the “Templarian” additions[3] to the material design icon pack.

    • Lumina Desktop Environment 1.3 Preparing For Release

      TrueOS developers continue working on their Lumina Desktop Environment and coming up soon is the v1.3 release of their Qt5-powered desktop environment.

      Lumina 1.3 is releasing soon and the developers have begun delivering weekly sneak-peaks of their progress. In today’s preview, they share the work done on their new icon theme.


    • “Richard Stallman” – Lunduke Hour – Apr 14, 2017

      In today’s episode of the Lunduke Hour, I get the chance to sit down and chat with the one and only Richard Stallman. Founder of the Free Software Foundation. We talk about everything from the W3C’s stance on DRM to opinions on the movie “Galaxy Quest”.

  • Public Services/Government

    • Indian Engineer wins UN Challenge to create open-source tool providing greater visibility into Member State voting patterns

      Unite Ideas is a big data crowd-sourcing platform developed by the Office of Information and Communications Technology, which seeks to provide a platform for collaboration between academia, civil society, and the United Nations.The vast amount of information generated by the UN in at least 6 official languages, and formats e.g. documents, datasets, and multimedia is increasingly being made available to the public as “open data”. At Unite Ideas, the public can access not just these these datasets, but also the source code of the solutions to previously completed challenges and build on them. Solutions and expertise developed can be re-used by governments and civil society to support international peace and security, sustainable development, human rights, international law, and humanitarian aid.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

    • Ubuntu ditches Unity, Maryland embraces open textbooks, and more open source news
    • Open Hardware/Modding

      • Happy Hardware Freedom Day 2017!

        And today is the day where we celebrate Free Hardware and the possibilities to build and design upon other people’s work or simply start something with the community in mind by ensuring projects can be shared and improved at will. In case you’ve missed our announcement the registration for Hardware Freedom Day will remain open for the month to come allowing you to celebrate at a later date, just make sure you specify the new date on your wiki page.

  • Programming/Development

    • HHVM 3.19

      HHVM 3.19 is released! This release has some exciting new experimental features. Packages have been published in the usual places; see the installation instructions for more information.

    • Ask Hackaday: How Do You Python?

      Python is the Arduino of software projects. It has a critical mass of libraries for anything from facial recognition and neural networks to robotics and remote sensing. And just like Arduino, I have yet to find the killer IDE for Python. Perhaps I just haven’t tried the right one yet, but it could be that I’m just doing Python wrong.

    • Learn Swift Programming with No-Charge Books

      Swift is a new language, first appearing in 2014. It is friendly to new programmers, feels familiar to Objective-C developers, and the language is optimized for development. It was launched under a proprietary license, but Apple made the language open source in December 2015 by releasing Swift 2.2 and later under the Apache License 2.0. By open-sourcing Swift, developers are able to use the language for their own purposes and go beyond OS X, iOS and watchOS apps.


  • Seoul Taxi Drivers to Wear Uniform Again

    Some 490,000 self-employed cab drivers will be given their new outfits by the Seoul Private Taxi Association.

  • Apple

  • Health/Nutrition

  • Security

    • Capsule8 Building Container-Aware Security Platform for Linux

      Security startup Capsule8 emerged from its stealth mode in February with a plan to help provide a new model for application container security. In a video interview with eWEEK, Capsule8 CTO Dino Dai Zovi and CEO John Viega explain what’s missing from container security today and what they are building to help fill the gap.

      “Capsule8 is container-aware, real-time threat protection for Linux-based production environments,” Dai Zovi said.

      Dai Zovi explained that the company name Capsule8 is a pun on what it does—which is encapsulates security knowledge in software, providing a secure approach to application delivery and deployment.

    • Security updates for Friday
    • careful with the chrome HSTS

      I mean, yes, I set the HSTS header, but that was with the same cert that chrome is now insisting can’t be trusted. Why in the world would you permanently store “must have trusted cert” on the basis of an untrusted cert?

    • Microsoft blocks Kaby Lake and Ryzen PCs from Windows 7, 8 updates

      That means all updates, including security updates, will be unavailable on PCs with brand new hardware running the two older operating systems.

    • Hacked NSA tools put Windows users at possible risk

      The hacking group known as Shadow Brokers claims to have released National Security Agency malware designed to break into Windows computers. The software could make millions of Microsoft users vulnerable to malicious parties.


      The NSA didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. But this isn’t the first US intelligence agency whose tools have been leaked to the public. Just last month, WikiLeaks released techniques it claimed the CIA used for breaking into phones, computers, cars and smart TVs.

    • Leaked NSA point-and-pwn hack tools menace Win2k to Windows 8

      The Shadow Brokers have leaked more hacking tools stolen from the NSA’s Equation Group – this time four-year-old exploits that attempt to hijack venerable Windows systems, from Windows 2000 up to Server 2012 and Windows 7 and 8.

      The toolkit puts into anyone’s hands – from moronic script kiddies to hardened crims – highly classified nation-state-level weaponry that can potentially compromise and commandeer systems around the world. This is the same powerful toolkit Uncle Sam used once upon a time to hack into and secretly snoop on foreign governments, telcos, banks, and other organizations.

    • Leaked NSA Malware Threatens Windows Users Around the World

      The ShadowBrokers, an entity previously confirmed by The Intercept to have leaked authentic malware used by the NSA to attack computers around the world, today released another cache of what appears to be extremely potent (and previously unknown) software capable of breaking into systems running Windows. The software could give nearly anyone with sufficient technical knowledge the ability to wreak havoc on millions of Microsoft users.

    • EFF Director: WikiLeaks Move to Share CIA Hacking Tools with Tech Giants Could “Make Us All Safer”

      DN! talks with Electronic Frontier Foundation Executive Director Cindy Cohn about thousands of documents WikiLeaks published this week, dubbed “Vault 7,” that describe CIA programs to hack into both Apple and Android cellphones, smart TVs and even cars. Some of the released documents describe tools to take over entire phones, allowing the CIA to then bypass encrypted messenger programs such as Signal, Telegram and WhatsApp. Other documents outline a CIA and British intelligence program called “Weeping Angel,” through which the spy agency can hack into a Samsung smart television and turn it into a surveillance device that records audio conversations, even when it appears to be off. Other documents outline how the CIA has used the U.S. Consulate in Frankfurt, Germany, as a covert base to spy on Europe, the Middle East and Africa. “It’s extremely troubling that the CIA was keeping all of this information rather than giving it to the tech companies so that they could fix these problems and make us all safer,” Cohn notes.

  • Defence/Aggression

    • N. Korea blasts US ‘military hysteria & aggression’ in Syria, vows to mercilessly foil provocations

      Pyongyang has called the US cruise-missile strike against Syria a war crime, urging Washington to stop its “military hysteria” and come to its “senses” – or otherwise face a merciless response in case of any provocations against North Korea.

      “The US should be punished according to international law as its military attack on Syria was an undisguised act of aggression and war crime,” a spokesman for the Korean Jurists Committee said in a statement cited by KCNA.

    • China seeks Russia’s help to ‘cool’ N Korea situation

      China is seeking Russia’s help to cool surging tensions over Pyongyang’s nuclear ambitions, the country’s foreign minister has told his Moscow counterpart, after Beijing warned of possible conflict over North Korea.

      Fears over the North’s rogue weapons programme have soared in recent days, with a US naval strike force deployed near the Korean peninsula, while President Donald Trump has warned the threat “will be taken care of” and Pyongyang has vowed a “merciless” response to any provocation.

      China — the North’s sole major ally and economic lifeline — on Friday warned that war over North Korea could break out “at any moment”.

    • A Businessman’s Murder Unmasks a Web of Violent Police

      The abduction and killing of an innocent South Korean executive in the Philippines has blossomed into a national scandal amid President Duterte’s war on drugs

    • North Korea Parades New Long-Range ‘Frankenmissile’

      North Korea showed off what appeared to be at least one new long-range missile at a military parade Saturday, as tensions simmer over the possibility of a military confrontation between the U.S. and North Korea.

    • Neocons Point Housebroken Trump at Iran

      The Trump administration’s growing use of military force in Syria, Iraq, and Yemen has neoconservative hawks rooting for armed confrontation with what they view as the root of all evil in the Middle East: Iran.

    • Roaming Charges: Love at First Strike

      Ivanka, our Park Avenue Electra, did it. She’s the one who softened her daddy’s leathery heart by forcing him to watch those dreadful pictures of dead and dying babies, eyes fixed on the carnage scrolling across the screen like Alex in A Clockwork Orange. The obscene photos made Donald squirm. His eyes even moistened. Then he began to tremble with rage.

      “What kind of evil animal could kill innocent babies, Ivanka?”

      “A monster, Daddy, a real monster. You must do something! This cannot stand!”

      “But do what, Sweetie? I’ll call that guy who works for me, Steve something. He’ll know what to do…”

      “No, not Bannon, daddy. He won’t do a damn thing. Call Jared. He’s already talked to the generals. They’re dialing up the targets right now.”

      “Ivanka, I’m so glad I picked you to join me in the West Wing. I only worry about the business. Are your brothers really up to it on their own?”

    • Handing Killer Drones to Donald Trump

      The news is rife with President Trump’s threatened and actual military misadventures: in Syria, Yemen, and North Korea. But these military actions take on a new gravity considering the vast and secret powers Trump inherited.


      Specifically, President Obama’s constraints on drones included that targets pose an “imminent threat,” that their capture is “not feasible,” and that there be “near certainty” civilians will not be injured or killed. However, Obama didn’t always hew closely to his own policy, which evolved throughout his Presidency as legitimate criticism of drone strikes increased.

    • Never Give Robots Guns

      Never give robots guns. Guns are for killing. Robots can’t make analogue decisions and those are the only ones that should ever control the taking of the life of another person. Robots make quantised decisions, not analogue ones. The quanta reflect the programming, and the programming arises from the approximation and modelling of a human view.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

  • Finance

    • Yext: The newest $1 billion tech company

      Companies like McDonald’s (MCD), one of Yext’s clients, need the addresses, hours and contact info for its many restaurants up to date on sites as diverse as Google Maps, Yelp, Facebook, Bing, etc. Yext provides the software for companies to update their information on all of those sites with one click.


      But for all its success, the company still isn’t profitable.

    • British government realises Brexit is a mistake, official says

      The British government is slowly realising Brexit is “an act of great self-harm” and that upcoming EU-UK negotiations must seek to limit the damage, the State’s top Brexit official has said.

      The official, John Callinan, said on Thursday: “I see signs in the contacts that we’re having, both at EU level and with the UK, of a gradual realisation that Brexit in many ways is an act of great self-harm, and that the focus now is on minimising that self-harm.”

      The remarks by Mr Callinan, the second secretary-general at the Department of the Taoiseach, were delivered at a Brexit seminar organised by the trade unions Impact and Siptu.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Secret Service has spent $35,000 on golf cart rentals since inauguration: report
    • Paul Ryan Raised $657,000 While Avoiding His Constituents During Recess

      We already reported, based on fundraising brochures we obtained, that Ryan had scheduled a whirlwind of stops for his Team Ryan PAC — in Miami, Corpus Christi, Fort Worth, Dallas, Houston, and Menlo Park — rather than meet with constituents.

    • New York Times Promises Truth and Diversity, Then Hires Climate-Denying Anti-Arab White Guy

      And although Stephens has been hailed as an anti-Trump conservative, he and Trump share a very significant belief that defies reality: They both deny the existence of climate change. Stephens used his Wall Street Journal columns to compare climate science to a religion, saying that environmental groups “have been on the receiving end of climate change-related funding, so all of them must believe in the reality (and catastrophic imminence) of global warming just as a priest must believe in the existence of God.”

      In April of 2010, he proclaimed that “global warming is dead, nailed into its coffin one devastating disclosure, defection and re-evaluation at a time. Which means that pretty soon we’re going to need another apocalyptic scare to take its place.”

      He then mockingly proposed “a readers’ contest to invent the next panic. It must involve something ubiquitous, invisible to the naked eye, and preferably mass-produced. And the solution must require taxes, regulation, and other changes to civilization as we know it.”

  • Censorship/Free Speech

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Snowden Says Cyberweapons Dump Underscores NSA Hacking Tools Are Not Secure

      Hackers and security experts are raising alarm over a massive cyberweapons dump that they say underscores the danger of government spy agencies developing intrusive surveillance tools.

      On Friday, the hacking group Shadow Brokers released a cache of cyberweapons developed by the National Security Agency (NSA) to access computers that run on Microsoft Windows, a release described by Vice New’s Motherboard as “the hacking equivalent of a bomb.”

      This means that any computer-savvy individual could download the tools and hack into any of the millions of personal Microsoft computers worldwide.

    • US government ‘hacked global bank system’

      The BBC is not able to verify the authenticity of the files – and the NSA has not commented on the leak.

    • Apathy about privacy is a myth: why users do care about data collection

      In recent weeks, two events have deviled the digital-privacy community and online commentariat. In March, Wikileaks released Vault7, a series of leaks detailing the CIA’s comprehensive program to surveil American citizens through such devices as smart TVs, Web browsers, and operating systems. Later that month, Congress voted in favor of S.J. Res. 34, a bill repudiating the late-Obama-era regulations of surreptitious user-data collection by internet service providers (ISPs) for commercial gain. In the wake of these developments, the matter of online privacy has reached the forefront of political discourse, lightly evoking the fevered concerns of Edward Snowden’s 2013 NSA revelations.

    • When Did You First Realize the Importance of Online Privacy?

      Maybe your parents snooped around an email account when you forgot to log out. Maybe photos you thought were private ended up online. Maybe you didn’t land your dream job, and you suspect an old LiveJournal account still visible in search results of your name may be the culprit. Maybe you got hacked.

    • PIA and freenode joining forces

      I am incredibly excited to be able to share some amazing news with you today. For the last few years, Private Internet Access has been a dedicated supporter of the freenode project and we are delighted to be able to announce that freenode is now officially part of the PIA family.

      freenode has been providing services to Free and Open Source Software projects, peer-directed projects and other projects that have a broadly licensed output for the past 18 years, and there is a great deal of overlap between the visions and missions of the two organisations, as well as the projects and organisations the two organisations have supported, albeit in very different ways over the years.

    • EFF’s “Spying on Students” Report Highlights Tech Companies’ Data Collection, Parents’ Frustrations
    • Victory for Now: California Hits Pause on A.B. 165, Bill that Sought to Undermine Student Privacy

      It’s a great day for digital privacy in California. Confronted with opposition from a powerful and diverse coalition, Assemblymember Jim Cooper has pulled his legislation, A.B. 165, from consideration by the Assembly Privacy and Consumer Protection Committee. EFF joined over 60 civil rights organizations, technology companies, and school community groups in fighting A.B. 165, and we thank all the EFF members and friends who joined us in speaking out. The unrelenting, principled opposition to this anti-privacy bill stopped it from reaching its first committee hearing.

      A.B. 165 attempted to create a carve-out in the California Electronic Communications Privacy Act (CalECPA), one of the strongest digital privacy bills in the nation. If A.B. 165 had passed, it would have left millions of Californians who attend our schools without strong protections against invasive digital searches.

    • EFF Releases Spying on Students Ed Tech Report

      A goal of the “Spying on Students” survey was to highlight the struggles of average people trying to navigate the student privacy issue. So throughout the discussion of the survey results, we present the case studies of a parent, technology director, system administrator, and school librarian.

    • Whispers from the Past: Political Figures Caught Up in NSA Intercepts

      Word that President Donald Trump as well as some of his family and associates may have appeared in National Security Agency (NSA) intercepts as masked (and in some cases later unmasked) identities has caused a great deal of sturm und drang in the United States. Many Americans are convinced that the mentions of Trump-linked personalities in signals intelligence reports indicates that the “deep state” or the Obama administration was “surveilling” them and that this is a dangerous politicization of the intelligence community.

    • Hackers release files indicating NSA monitored global bank transfers

      Hackers released documents and files on Friday that cybersecurity experts said indicated the U.S. National Security Agency had accessed the SWIFT interbank messaging system, allowing it to monitor money flows among some Middle Eastern and Latin American banks.

      The release included computer code that could be adapted by criminals to break into SWIFT servers and monitor messaging activity, said Shane Shook, a cyber security consultant who has helped banks investigate breaches of their SWIFT systems.

      The documents and files were released by a group calling themselves The Shadow Brokers. Some of the records bear NSA seals, but Reuters could not confirm their authenticity.

      The NSA could not immediately be reached for comment.

    • New Leak Shows NSA Hacked Overseas Banking Networks
    • New leak shows how a major hacking group cracked Windows and international banks

      Likely originating with the NSA, the tools give new clues as to the group’s targets in recent years, which seem to include both international anti-money-laundering groups and oil companies in the Persian Gulf region.

    • Major Leak Suggests NSA Was Deep in Middle East Banking System
    • NSA-leaking Shadow Brokers just dumped its most damaging release yet

      The Shadow Brokers—the mysterious person or group that over the past eight months has leaked a gigabyte worth of the National Security Agency’s weaponized software exploits—just published its most significant release yet. Friday’s dump contains potent exploits and hacking tools that target most versions of Microsoft Windows and evidence of sophisticated hacks on the SWIFT banking system of several banks across the world.

    • Microsoft says U.S. foreign intelligence surveillance requests more than doubled

      Microsoft said it received between 1,000 and 1,499 FISA orders for user content between January and June of 2016, compared to between 0 and 499 during both January-June 2015 as well as the second half of 2015.> Microsoft Corp (MSFT.O) said on Thursday it had received at least a thousand surveillance requests from the U.S. government that sought user content for foreign intelligence purposes during the first half of 2016.

    • Facebook is stepping up efforts to automatically identify fake accounts and Likes
    • Not even the telcos like Australia’s mandatory metadata retention scheme aka the Big Brother policy

      Now that all of these Australian companies are holding all of this data, at their own cost, they’re going to need to think of ways to make more money from that data – hopefully without following the American example.

    • Why one Republican voted to kill privacy rules: “Nobody has to use the Internet”

      Sensenbrenner did not address the fact that the privacy rules would have let customers make a choice about whether their data is tracked and used. The rules would have required ISPs to get customers’ opt-in consent before using, sharing, or selling their Web browsing history and app usage history. Because Congress eliminated the rules before they could go into effect, ISPs can continue to use customers’ browsing and app usage history without offering anything more than a chance to opt out. Without such rules, customers may not even be aware that they have a choice.

    • Tor exit node operator arrested in Russia – a solidarity Tor Relay Challenge launched

      Russia counts 230.000 Tor users everyday and only 46 exit nodes. Tor is extremely popular after a bunch of laws restricting usage of Internet and enforcing the lawful interception procedures (obliging ISPs to store all metadata for 3 years, and the traffic – even though encrypted – for 6 months). However, the Bogatov case has had an influence on the perception of Tor by ‘end users’.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Fears as fleeing Saudi woman is returned to her ‘abusers’

      However eyewitnesses in Manila airport said Ali warned officials that if they sent her back to Saudi with her uncles, who had come to collect her, she would be “killed”.

    • The place in Afghanistan where it’s “easy to kill women”
    • Four brothers confess to killing sister for ‘hanging around with men’ in Turkish capital

      In their testimonies, the brothers said Aykutluğ was “hanging around with men and everyone in the village was talking about it.”

    • Swedish Muslim Association Risks Losing State Funding Over Misogyny, Extremism

      However, the SFM landed subsequently landed in hot water as it turned out that one of its hired speakers was none other than Sweden’s arguably best-known jihadist Michael Skråmo, who repeatedly called on his fellow Muslims to join Daesh (ISIS/ISIL) and bomb their workplaces. Gothenburg native Skråmo converted to Islam, changed his name to Abdul Samad al Swedi and moved to Syria with his family.


      Terror researcher Magnus Ranstorp of the National Defense College previously voiced his surprise that the SFM had been awarded state grants.

    • ‘Stop being racist to Muslims or die,’ hackers tell far-right group Britain First
    • Pak university closes after journalism student lynched for ‘blasphemy’

      A university in Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province was closed until further notice after a journalism student was killed by his peers for allegedly sharing blasphemous {sic} content online and promoting the Ahmadi faith.

    • Oregon Cop’s Inability To Keep His Hands Off A Resident’s Phone Costs Taxpayers $85,000 In Legal Fees

      Oregon residents will be opening up their wallets and handing out $85,000 to a citizen and her ACLU representation, thanks to a police officer being the only cop on the scene unable to handle being filmed while effecting an arrest.

      Carrie Medina sued the city of Portland in early 2015 after an officer seized her camera and ended her livestream of an arrest two years earlier. The lawsuit [PDF], filed by the ACLU, contains the full conversation between Officer Taylor Letsis and Medina during the livestream’s premature conclusion.

      It contains some choice highlights in law enforcement overreach and the assertion of nonexistent authority. The confrontation starts with Officer Letsis claiming Medina’s phone probably contains “evidence of a crime,” and continues on through to Letsis claiming his seizure and search of the phone is neither a seizure or a search but is very definitely something he has the “legal jurisdiction” to do.

    • On Ambedkar Jayanti, Naidu says religion-based reservation will create ‘another Pakistan’

      Union minister Venkaiah Naidu said implementation of reservations on the basis of religion may result in social unrest in the country and “lead to creation of another Pakistan”.

      Speaking at a BJP meeting organised on the occasion of the Ambedkar Jayanthi, Naidu also hinted that Telangana s recent proposal to hike reservations for certain sections may not be constitutionally valid.

      He also said that architect of Constitution B R Ambedkar had opposed religion-based reservation.

    • President Trump Can Take Concrete Action to Protect Syrian Civilians by Lifting the Muslim Ban

      President Trump seemed visibly moved by the suffering of Syrian civilians in the wake of a brutal chemical attack in the country that killed over 89 civilians. However, there are far more effective ways for him to alleviate their plight than with military action that contravenes the Constitution.

    • In crisis-stricken Somalia, no safe haven

      During Somalia’s 2011 famine, in which a quarter of a million people died, Hassan lost many of his cattle. With the few that survived, he managed to stay at home in Qansahdheere, in southwestern Somalia. Six years on, as Somalia faces yet another humanitarian disaster, Hassan and his family have fled to Mogadishu hoping to find aid. Hassan and his family made it to the capital city’s only government-managed camp, Badbaado.

      Half of Somalia’s population of 12.3 million people currently need humanitarian assistance. Legal, political and security restrictions and limited funding are restricting the access of international aid agencies to parts of the country, including areas controlled by the Islamist armed group Al-Shabab. Every day thousands of people like Hassan are moving into urban areas under government control, where international assistance is more likely to arrive. According to the United Nations, just under half a million people have fled their homes since November largely because of the drought, many arriving in Mogadishu and Baidoa, a town at the epicenter of the crisis.

    • Why Was a 3-Year-Old in South Dakota Forcibly Catheterized as He Screamed in Pain?

      This incident raises a multitude of practical, moral, and constitutional questions. Collecting bodily fluids from a toddler to gather evidence against an adult member of the household is simply unreasonable. Period. Second, catheterization of anyone — adults and children alike — is an incredibly invasive procedure that should only be employed when absolutely necessary. Additionally, the compelled production of bodily fluids is a search under the Fourth Amendment, which, absent consent, requires a warrant supported by probable cause. In this case, the DSS conducted the search without a warrant, without legal justification, and without judicial oversight. (To be clear, when a parent “consents” to the collection of her children’s bodily fluids under the threat of losing her children, that consent is invalid.)

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • Tennessee Could Give Taxpayers America’s Fastest Internet For Free, But It Will Give Comcast and AT&T $45 Million Instead

      “Tennessee will literally be paying AT&T to provide a service 1000 times slower than what Chattanooga could provide without subsidies.”

      Chattanooga, Tennessee has the fastest, most affordable internet in the United States. Many of the rural areas surrounding it have dial up, satellite, or no internet at all. Chattanooga wants to expand its network so these rural areas can have the same Gbps and 10 Gpbs connections the city has. Rather than allow that to happen, Tennessee’s legislature just voted to give Comcast and AT&T a $45 million taxpayer handout.

    • Congress kills FCC Internet privacy rule: Help states resist

      On April 3, Trump signed in to law Senate Joint Resolution 34, nullifying broadband privacy rules that were to take effect at the end of 2017, and preventing the FCC from introducing similar rules in the future. This leaves Internet users in the United States with little recourse if their Internet service providers (ISPs) want to collect and even sell information about their Internet activity. By 2015, more than half of all broadband customers in the United States purchased from a single company, in part due to monopolization of broadband offerings.

      The right to use the Internet without fear of indisciminate bulk surveillance is an important aspect of software freedom. We’ve spoken out against mass surveillance by governments before, and when people’s options for Internet access become limited to a few huge companies, they become more vulnerable to the possibility of having records of their Internet activity collected.

  • DRM

    • That Was Fast: Denuvo’s Version 3 Update Has Been Cracked

      It’s seems like just yesterday that I was writing about how Denuvo’s DRM, the once-vaunted but since defeated DRM unicorn, had been patched to Version 4 with the company proclaiming that it was once again out ahead of the pirate groups that had cracked its previous versions. Oh, wait. That actually was yesterday.

      Anywho, the latest version of Denuvo is being used on several recently released games, out since January, with much made about how those games were once again taking quite a bit of time before cracks for them appeared in the wild. With the company pushing the narrative that protecting the first few weeks of a game’s release was where the value of Denuvo really stood, companies using the DRM likely cheered. This week, however, things took a familiar turn for the DRM unicorn.

    • W3C Pushes Past Critics as DRM Gets Closer to Becoming an Official Web Standard

      The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) has elevated the Encrypted Media Extensions (EME) to the status of “Proposed Recommendation,” the last step before becoming an official W3C standard, pending a vote from its members.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Copyrights

      • Copyright Society’s ‘World IP Day’ Lesson: Give Us Your Copyrights For Nothing

        Every year around April 26th, the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) hosts a weird dog and pony show of copyright/patent/trademark maximalism that it calls World IP Day. In the past, we’ve pointed out that the events and festivities are disturbingly one-sided and frequently clueless. For example, two years ago, WIPO used Bob Marley’s famous line “Get Up, Stand Up” as the theme for World IP Day, ignoring the history of Jamaican music, in which the lack of copyright protections in the 50s and early 60s is basically what allowed Bob Marley to become a world phenomenon (and, later, the fact that Marley and Universal Music got tangled up in a fight over copyrights).


Links 14/4/2017: Wine 2.6, Ubuntu’s April Releases

Posted in News Roundup at 3:40 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish



Free Software/Open Source

  • Un-Masking FD.io – the Open Source Project that Processes Packets

    The Fast Data Project (FD.io) is a networking open source project whose scope includes software-based packet processing, fast Input/Output (IO), and universal data plane management across bare metal, hypervisor, and container environments.

    FD.io, which was open-sourced by the Linux Foundation in February 2016, was garnering quite a lot of attention at the recent Open Networking Summit (ONS) 2017 in Santa Clara, California.

  • Like Twitter but Hate the Trolls? Try Mastodon

    Users choose for themselves which instance they want to join and select from a host of privacy and anti-harassment settings. Oh, and the character limit is 500, not 140. In essence, Mastodon is an experiment in whether individually moderated communities can make a social network like Twitter more civil.

  • Encouraging New Contributors in Lima, Peru

    A worldwide enthusiastic representative FLOSS as Stormy is, have public encouraged contributors to share experiences about their communities around the world. So I decided to post about it since I usually have the support of two great communities such as GNOME and Fedora to do Linux events in my local community. Following the suggested structure, here are some experiences that I can make you know. Hope you do not mind to check every single link I pointed out to the words throughout this post because it has more posts of the job we do in Lima, Peru.

  • 8 new blog posts on how to encourage new contributors
  • New open source router aims to compete with Cisco and Juniper

    Drew Conry-Murray, writing in Packet Pushers, looked into the Free Range Router (FRR), a new open source router offering that is looking to challenge Cisco and Juniper. FRR isn’t new; it came about as a result of a split within the Quagga open source community. Contributors such as Cumulus Networks, Big Switch and 6WIND, frustrated by the slow pace of Quagga’s development, decided to form their own community, offering FRR as an alternative. The open source router, currently in version 2.0, is designed to run on Linux and Unix operating systems and offers support for a variety of routing protocol daemons, including intermediate system to system, Border Gateway Protocol and Open Shortest Path First.

  • Events

    • APIStrat Becomes a Linux Foundation and Open API Initiative Event

      The Linux Foundation, the nonprofit advancing professional open source management for mass collaboration, today announces that the API Strategy & Practice Conference has become a Linux Foundation event and will be jointly produced with the Open API Initiative (OAI), a Linux Foundation project. Linux Foundation events are where the world’s leading technologists meet, collaborate and innovate. APIStrat 2017 will take place October 31 – November 2 in Portland, OR.

    • APIStrat Conference Now Organized By The Linux Foundation and Open API Initiative
    • A guide to packing and preparing for a tech conference
    • Going to ApacheCon? Check out TomcatCon, a Mini-Conference Featuring Apache Tomcat

      ApacheCon North America is only a few weeks away and will be happening May 16-18, 2017, in Miami. It’s particularly exciting this year because ApacheCon is going to be a little different. For one thing, there is a series of mini-conferences running in and around ApacheCon that you will not want to miss.

      We spoke with Mark Thomas, Apache Tomcat committer and Senior Principal Software Engineer at Pivotal, about one of these mini-conferences, TomcatCon, to get a feel for what participants can expect from this event. TomcatCon offers a range of presentations to help users expand their Tomcat knowledge in areas such as networking, security, performance, and deployment, and it provides users and developers with the opportunity to discuss the current Tomcat roadmap and help inform future development. Here’s what Mark said about the conference.

  • Databases

    • MariaDB CEO on the open source enterprise – and why good databases are NOT a commodity

      MariaDB’s first annual user conference in New York City found MariaDB CEO Michael Howard in a confident mood. I decided to push issues, like whether “the revenge of relational databases” favors the incumbents, and see if I could find any cracks. I didn’t get those, but I got some spicy/illuminating responses. I also learned why MariaDB thinks its “open source mandate” will carry the day.

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice

    • TDF Team’s Interviews: Christian “Cloph” Lohmaier

      Christian “Cloph” Lohmaier has been LibreOffice’s release manager for quite a long time. We asked him some questions, to not only get better knowledge about his daily activities, but find out his opinions about The Document Foundation and LibreOffice.

  • CMS

    • Drupal Confessions – An Open Letter [iophk: "CoCs are about controlling tech not producing tech"]

      Larry Garfield, a long-time, veteran contributor to Drupal was ejected from the community, allegedly not for breaking the Code of Conduct, but, to quote your own post on the matter, because “he holds views that are in opposition with the values of the Drupal project.”


      Our concerns do not make us pro-Larry — we do not endorse his beliefs or his personal life — but we are passionately committed to openness, transparency, due process, fairness, inclusivity, diversity, having personal lives that are none of Drupal’s business, and professionalism in tech; and we are vehemently opposed to discrimination, harassment, intimidation, bullying, doxxing, secret trials, and digging up information on member’s personal lives.


  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

  • BSD

  • Public Services/Government

    • Investigative journalists: “Government lock-in by Microsoft is alarming”

      IT infrastructures at government administrations all over Europe are largely based on proprietary, closed software from Microsoft. With digital systems constantly growing in size as well as importance, countries are becoming increasingly dependent on this single American corporation. Investigate Europe, an international group of journalists, has investigated the current situation and the consequences of this vendor lock-in. The results, they say, are alarming.

    • Helsinki Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s New Journey Planner Showcases Open-Source Software Development

      The Helsinki metropolitan transportation authority, Helsinki Region Transport HSL, has released a new version of its Journey Planner. The service is exceptional among similar trip planners worldwide in that it is based on open-source code. Thus the ongoing development of the Journey Planner can be a collaborative activity joined by developers, the general public, and other cities’ transportation authorities. Among others, New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority MTA is testing the source code.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

    • Rancher Labs releases RancherOS, VMware’s intent to acquire Wavefront, and OpenBSD 6.1 — SD Times news digest: April 12, 2017
    • Open Access/Content

      • Initiative for Open Citations Takes Alternative Approach To Freeing Up Knowledge

        We’ve just written about widespread frustration at the slow pace of the shift to open access publishing of academic papers, and about how some major funding organizations are trying to address that. Open access aims to make entire publications publicly available, and that is meeting considerable resistance from traditional publishers who derive their healthy profits from charging for subscriptions. Rather than continue to tackle publishers head-on, an interesting new project seeks instead to liberate only a particular part of each article, albeit an important one. The new Initiative for Open Citations (I4OC) seeks to promote the unrestricted availability of the list of citations that form a key part of most academic articles…

    • Open Hardware/Modding

      • Ultimaker unveils next generation of open-source 3D printing

        When Ultimaker, a manufacturer of open-source 3D printers headquartered in Amsterdam with an office in Boston, announced recently the global availability of the next generation of its 3D-printing product line, it promised professionals unprecedented freedom of design. Open-source 3D printing has become popular, particularly in the desktop printing market, according to John Kawola, U.S. President of Ultimaker.

  • Programming/Development

    • HHVM 3.19 Brings CLI Server Mode, Retranslate-All, Performance Boosts

      Facebook developers have put out their latest release of HHVM to empower this PHP interpreter as well as what powers their Hack programming language.

      HHVM 3.19 is the new release this week and it ships with some interesting experimental features. First up, there is a “Retranslate All” feature to re-translate all profiled code into optimized translations after it hits a specified number of requests. This re-translate all can be used for getting better performance, quicker warmups, and more. This experimental feature will likely go on by default in HHVM 3.20.

    • Intel’s Beignet Lands LLVM 4.0 Backend Support

      While Intel’s Beignet is a terrific project especially when it comes to being a leading open-source OpenCL implementation that works with OpenCL 2.0 on GPUs (something that can’t be said for Radeon with its open-source OpenCL stack consistently lacking and Nouveau not really being usable either), the sad part of it is that Beignet is consistently slow in supporting new versions of LLVM.

    • Salaries for storage, networking pros continue to rise

      Though salaries overall remained flat, most tech pros (61 percent) reported receiving a salary increase in 2016 and 9 percent reported a decrease, according to the survey. Increased compensation is the most common motivator employers provided to tech pros in 2016 (18 percent), followed by flexible work location and ability to telecommute (14 percent) and more interesting and challenging assignments (12 percent), according to the survey.

    • QA in Production

      Gathering operational data about a system is common practice, particularly metrics that indicate system load and performance such as CPU and memory usage. This data has been used for years to help teams who support a system learn when an outage is happening or imminent. When things become slow, a code profiler might be enabled in order to determine which part of the system is causing a bottleneck, for example a slow-running database query.

      I’ve observed a recent trend that combines the meticulousness of this traditional operational monitoring with a much broader view of the quality of a system. While operational data is an essential part of supporting a system, it is also valuable to gather data that helps provide a picture of whether the system as a whole is behaving as expected. I define “QA in production” as an approach where teams pay closer attention to the behaviour of their production systems in order to improve the overall quality of the function these systems serve.

    • For programmers, the ultimate office perk is avoiding the office entirely

      For many programmers, the attractions of working from home are obvious. I’m one of them—I wrote the code for this analysis—and I know all too well the intense concentration required to engineer good solutions to complex problems, as well as the productivity-wrecking frustration of being interrupted mid-flow. Working from home, assuming one can maintain a certain discipline, offers a tranquility seldom found in an office.

    • RcppArmadillo 0.7.800.2.0
    • loadable library and perl binaries are mismatched
    • Spam from postmaster [of Fedora]
    • PHP version 7.0.18 and 7.1.4 [of Fedora]
    • LLVM Is On The Path To Getting Faster

      LLVM contributor Mikhail Zolotukhin has issued a report about the continued evolution of LLVM and its impact on the compiler’s performance.

      He’s found that in the past few months LLVM is getting faster, which is a good sign as the months prior to that LLVM was getting slower.


  • Hardware

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Strategy of “inconvenience” may be the best way to boost vaccination rates

      By adding an extra, in-person step to the process of obtaining a vaccination waiver (which allowed a child to forego the necessary vaccinations), Michigan quickly and significantly boosted its vaccination rate, as Kaiser Health News reports.

    • FGM: Detroit doctor Jumana Nagarwala faces life in jail
    • US lakes soaking up road salt, some heading toward toxic levels [iophk: "probably driven in part by the auto industry to rust out old cars and drive sales"]

      Although no ancient civilization probably ever pulled off the logistical feat of intentionally salting a conquered people’s lands, our modern ones may be doing it unintentionally. Those friendly snowplows (and your sidewalk-shoveling neighbors) are spreading an astounding volume of salt, and it has to go somewhere once it melts.

    • 6 WTF Things You Had No Idea Tobacco Companies Got Away With

      Tobacco companies, and people complicit in their business, are responsible for the deaths of six million people a year, equivalent to the number of Jewish people killed in the Holocaust. Per year. You’d think that they’d be on the decline, what with everyone knowing how dangerous their products are. You’d be wrong. Tobacco companies have developed insidious tactics to stay relevant.

    • Nestle’s bid for more water withdrawal riles residents [iophk: "draining the watershed, privatizing water"]

      “If Flint could pay that rate, their annual household cost would be less than 75 cents per year,” said Peggy Case, president of the Michigan Citizens for Water Conservation, which opposes Nestle’s bid.

    • Germany Brings Health Issues To G20; First Health Ministers Meeting In May

      Global health matters are entering into the Group of Twenty (G20) agenda under the German presidency of the group, which started in December 2016. The first-ever G20 Health Ministers’ meeting is scheduled to take place in May, before the regular G20 meeting in July. This week, a professor from the Graduate Institute of Geneva explained how health has become part of the G20 agenda.


      Answering a question about the best outcome for health of the G20, Kickbusch said on a declaration level it would be a strong commitment for the SDGs and universal coverage. On a practical level, she added, it would be desirable that the action plan that might emerge actually commits to financing the establishment of IHR capacities in developing countries.

    • Mary Jane Goes Crazy

      There are so many issues related to legalization of marijuana in Canada, I scarcely know where to start. I’ve never used the stuff and I especially hate smoking anything. It’s just stupid and unhealthy to take into lungs random chemical products subjected to high temperatures.

      Nevertheless Canadians like most other humans to some extent enjoy or value marijuana either for “recreation” or medical benefits. Perhaps the best place to look for reason in all this is to consider why marijuana was made illegal in the first place. After all, alcohol and tobacco are almost certainly more harmful but legal.


      Eventually, farmers could benefit from marijuana as they used to. As a child I used a rope made of hemp in a swing in the maple trees in my yard. Hemp is a valuable fibre from the plant. I’m sure farmers could produce marijuana in quantity if not quality compared to the greenhouse operations I’ve seen on the news. I’d sure prefer Canadian farmers grew and profited from marijuana rather than tobacco especially if non-smoked products were manufactured. I see nothing wrong with people having some pleasure from their meals rather than sucking tar into their lungs.

  • Security

    • Security updates for Thursday
    • Microsoft kills off security bulletins after several stays
    • Thirteen must-watch TED Talks on cyber security
    • DNS record will help prevent unauthorized SSL certificates

      In a few months, publicly trusted certificate authorities will have to start honoring a special Domain Name System (DNS) record that allows domain owners to specify who is allowed to issue SSL certificates for their domains.

      The Certification Authority Authorization (CAA) DNS record became a standard in 2013 but didn’t have much of a real-world impact because certificate authorities (CAs) were under no obligation to conform to them.

      The record allows a domain owner to list the CAs that are allowed to issue SSL/TLS certificates for that domain. The reason for this is to limit cases of unauthorized certificate issuance, which can be accidental or intentional, if a CA is compromised or has a rogue employee.

    • Linux remote root bug menace: Make sure your servers, PCs, gizmos, Android kit are patched

      The programming blunder – CVE-2016-10229 – exposes machines and gizmos to attacks via UDP network traffic: any software receiving data using the system call recv() with the MSG_PEEK flag set on a vulnerable kernel opens up the box to potential hijacking. The hacker would have to craft packets to trigger a second checksum operation on the incoming information, which can lead to the execution of malicious code within the kernel, effectively as root, we’re warned.

    • Unpatched vulnerability exposes Magento online shops to hacking

      An unpatched vulnerability in the Magento e-commerce platform could allow hackers to upload and execute malicious code on web servers that host online shops.

      The flaw was discovered by researchers from security consultancy DefenseCode and is located in a feature that retrieves preview images for videos hosted on Vimeo. Such videos can be added to product listings in Magento.

      The DefenseCode researchers determined that if the image URL points to a different file, for example a PHP script, Magento will download the file in order to validate it. If the file is not an image, the platform will return a “Disallowed file type” error, but won’t actually remove it from the server.

    • NSA’s arsenal of Windows hacking tools have leaked

      A new trove of alleged surveillance tools and exploits from the National Security Agency’s elite hacking team have been released by the Shadow Brokers’ hacking group.

      The group Friday appeared to release tools designed to target Windows PCs and servers, along with presentations and files purporting to detail the agency’s methods of carrying out clandestine surveillance.

  • Defence/Aggression

    • UK goes beyond UN to say South Sudan violence ‘is now genocide’

      More than 1.5 million people have fled the East African nation, creating Africa’s largest refugee crisis.


      Australia is sleep-walking into a confrontation with China. Wars can happen suddenly in an atmosphere of mistrust and provocation, especially if a minor power, like Australia, abandons its independence for an “alliance” with an unstable superpower.

      The United States is at a critical moment. Having exported its all-powerful manufacturing base, run down its industry and reduced millions of its once-hopeful people to poverty, principal American power today is brute force. When Donald Trump launched his missile attack on Syria – following his bombing of a mosque and a school – he was having dinner in Florida with the President of China, Xi Jinping.

    • Out of 46 Major Editorials on Trump’s Syria Strikes, Only One Opposed
    • The Pentagon Money Pit: $6.5 Trillion in Unaccountable Army Spending and No DoD Audit

      For backstory, Congress passed The Government Accountability Act of 1996 that required annual audit on government department budgets. This bill was passed to resolve the previous accounting mistakes made in 1991. Surprisingly, the DoD is still unable to implement the measures over 20 years later. Looking at the Federal Discretionary Spending of the Fiscal Year (FY) 2015, the DOD was allocated $600 billion of the $1.1 trillion budget. The rest of the budget was split between $70 billion for education, $63 billion for housing and community development, $66 billion for Medicare and Health care, $65 billion for Veterans, $39 million for energy, $26 billion for transportation, and finally $41 billion for International affairs. With the exception of DoD, all the other departments have reported their budgets since the bill was passed.

    • ‘The Only Sensible Path at This Point is Dialogue’

      The Washington Post suggests that people in Seattle and San Francisco “should be worried” about being hit by a ballistic missile from North Korea, citing an analyst who described such an event, a bit cryptically, as “a looming threat but not a current threat.”

      If the concern is that the saber-rattling between Kim Jong-Un and Donald Trump could indeed have dire consequences, it’s hard to see how such stories help, or maps that show ranges for North Korea’s missiles far greater than any actually tested missiles have gone, or the conflation of nuclear and non-nuclear weaponry. But we’re equally ill-served by a failure to interrogate US policy on the Korean peninsula, and corporate media’s reduction of North Korea to caricature in the time-honored method reserved for official enemies.

    • “Mother of All Bombs” Never Used Before Due to Civilian Casualty Concerns

      Fulfilling Donald Trump’s campaign promise to “bomb the shit” out of ISIS, the Pentagon dropped the “mother of all bombs” — one of its largest non-nuclear munitions — for the first time on Thursday, in Afghanistan. The 21,600 pound weapon was developed over a decade ago, but was never used due to concerns of possible massive civilian casualties.

      The Pentagon said it used the weapon on an ISIS-affiliated group hiding in a tunnel complex in the Nangarhar province. The group, according to the Pentagon, is made up of former members of the Taliban.

      The Massive Ordnance Air Blast Bomb (MOAB), nicknamed the “mother of all bombs,” has a mile-long blast radius.


      “We were going after a target, I would say, in a similar manner,” said Garlasco. “But the concern there was that once the weapon was put forward as an option, we reviewed it, did a collateral damage estimate, and well let’s just say the collateral damage was impressive. It was decided that the civilian harm greatly outweighed the military gain.”

      Garlasco said the strike would have been in a “high-collateral region.” And he said that to his knowledge that was the only time the use of the MOAB was ever suggested.

    • Thomas Friedman’s Perverse Love Affair With ISIS

      The word “encouraged” is doing a lot of work here. The CIA, along with Saudi Arabia, assisted and funded the mujahideen and other foreign fighters to fight the Soviets and Soviet-aligned Afghans throughout the 1980s, resulting in a prolonged, brutal war, and spawning thousands of radical jihadists for years to come. That Friedman would use this as an example of how the US should wage war in Syria—and presumably drag the war on and spawn similar extremism—would be considered absurd on its face if it weren’t coming from a Very Serious Person at the New York Times.


      “Everyone”? Everyone is bad, Friedman’s pseudo–tough guy argument goes, so let’s be just as bad by explicitly using ISIS in a weapon against Iran, Russia and Hezbollah.


      In a political climate where Americans are being arrested for merely sending out pro-ISIS tweets, and dozens are swept up in dubious FBI entrapment plots, it’s notable that one of the most influential columnists in the United States can call for arming the designated terrorist organization so long as he frames it as “just asking questions” and does so to the end of killing Evil Iranians. (Friedman is not the only establishment figure to suggest that the US goal in Syria should be to prolong the bloodbath indefinitely—but usually this ghoulish argument isn’t offered so blatantly.)


      Perhaps, one can imagine, they would be less so if Western columnists weren’t casually cheerleading for using the extremist group as a bludgeon against America’s enemies.

    • Tillerson’s Bad Hand in Kremlin Showdown

      President Trump’s hasty decision to attack Syria may have lightened political pressure at home but Russia’s retaliation – suspending a key “deconfliction agreement” – left Secretary of State Tillerson as supplicant at the Kremlin, reports Gilbert Doctorow.

    • To Russia with More Russia-Bashing

      Now that President Trump is bashing Russia, not resetting relations, the mainstream U.S. media has gone from pushing “Russia-gate” conspiracies to decrying doubts about U.S. government anti-Russia claims, notes Nat Parry.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • WikiLeaks ‘hostile intel,’ Assange & his followers ‘demons’: CIA chief goes rogue

      CIA Director Mike Pompeo called Julian Assange and his associates “demons” and accused WikiLeaks of siding with the world’s dictators and endangering the security of the “free world” with the help of states like Russia.

      Speaking at an event organized by the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in Washington, DC on Thursday, the former Kansas congressman went on the warpath against the whistleblower website, accusing its editor Julian Assange of being on the “wrong side of history” and seeking to harm America, freedom and democracy.

      “It’s time to call out WikiLeaks for what it really is, a non-state hostile intelligence service, often abetted by state actors like Russia,” Pompeo told the audience.

    • Trump’s CIA Director Pompeo, Targeting WikiLeaks, Explicitly Threatens Speech and Press Freedoms

      In February, after Donald Trump tweeted that the U.S. media were the “enemy of the people,” the targets of his insult exploded with indignation, devoting wall-to-wall media coverage to what they depicted as a grave assault on press freedoms more befitting of a tyranny. By stark and disturbing contrast, the media reaction yesterday was far more muted, even welcoming, when Trump’s CIA Director, Michael Pompeo, actually and explicitly vowed to target freedoms of speech and press in a blistering, threatening speech he delivered to the D.C. think tank Center for Strategic and International Studies.

      What made Pompeo’s overt threats of repression so palatable to many was that they were not directed at CNN, the New York Times or other beloved-in-D.C. outlets, but rather at WikiLeaks, more marginalized publishers of information, and various leakers and whistleblowers, including Chelsea Manning and Edward Snowden.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

  • Finance

    • That time passengers were told to give up their seats for United’s CEO and his family

      I’ve received many, many recollections of indignities large and small suffered by United passengers. The unifying thread to all of them is a seeming disregard on the airline’s part to how its customers are treated and whether the passengers would ever use the carrier again.

    • United is Heavy-Handed Again: Boarded, Seated Passenger Threatened With Cuffs to Disembark
    • United’s passenger-beatings are a feature of its business, not a bug

      In a world where the airlines record-smashing profits comes from a small number of increasingly luxurious first-class seats, the entire focus of the industry is on figuring out how to convince just a few marginal customers to spend more for one of those profit-centers instead of deadheading in coach.


      The airlines can’t control how badly you want to get somewhere, but they have total control over how awful getting there can be.

    • Meet the millennials making big money riding China’s bitcoin wave
    • An Entire Generation is Likely to See Its Standard of Living Regress

      It is modern feudalism, happening in a slow motion crash as we watch, aware of what is coming down, but at first unwilling and likely now unable to stop it.

      Welcome to the Third World

    • When WaPo Calls for ‘Honest’ Debate, Check for Your Wallet

      The Washington Post editorial page is, of course, famous for absurdly claiming, in an editorial defending NAFTA, that Mexico’s GDP had quadrupled between 1987 and 2007. (According to the IMF, Mexico’s GDP increased by 83 percent over this period.) Incredibly, the paper still has not corrected this egregious error in its online version.

      This is why it is difficult to share the concern of Fred Hiatt, the editorial page editor, that we will see increasingly dishonest public debates (Washington Post, 4/9/17). Hiatt and his team at the editorial page have no qualms at all about making up nonsense when pushing their positions. While I’m a big fan of facts and data in public debate, the Post‘s editorial page editor is about the last person in the world who should be complaining about dishonest arguments.


      Okay, so yesterday we had too few workers and today we have too many because of automation. These arguments are complete opposites. The one unifying theme is that the Post is worried that we are being too generous to the poor and middle class.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Burger King didn’t hack Google Home, it hacked the media

      It appears that its aim was to create a commercial that would tap into the target demographic’s concerns for intrusive advertising and invasion of their privacy. In turn, this would grab the attention of digital and traditional media who would write about those issues at length and generate tens of millions of dollars of free media and bucket loads of engagement. In that vein, Burger King’s campaign is a stunning success. It even managed to get around Google’s hasty block from letting the ad trigger Google Homes by releasing an alternate version during the prime-time slot it bought.

    • Fake news is being cited by pupils as fact in their studies, warn teachers [iophk: “seen that for a long time now”

      More than a third of teachers say their students have cited false information found online, according to a poll by the NASUWT teaching union.


      Others expressed frustration over students refusing to believe news they had seen on Facebook and other social sites was not true, even when the problem was explained to them.

    • The White House Easter Egg Roll, Alongside the Republic, is in Peril!!!!!!

      That seems to be what’s happening with our media, especially outlets like the New York Times, who are stuck in a loop of denial some six months after the election. Each day it seems they find fellow party members something Trump to direct their hate at.

    • Bernie Sanders, the Company Man

      As I pointed out back in July of 2015, U.S. Senator Bernie Senator (“I”-VT) is not the independent left politician many progressives claim he is. He’s a Democratic Party company man.

      That was been clear from his long Congressional record of voting with the neoliberal, dollar-drenched Democrats and accepting their seniority-based committee assignments. It was clear when he came out to Iowa City in December of 2014 to give a speech so focused on the terrible Republicans that a professor had to remind him that corporate and imperial Democrats are a problem too. It was clear when he decided to the run for the U.S. presidency as a Democrat and promised to back the Democrats’ eventual nominee (Hillary Clinton).

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • Cloudflare Doesn’t Want to Become the ‘Piracy Police’
    • The dangers of equating words with actions

      The email encourages faculty members to make no distinction between words and physical violence. The professors discuss a ‘disturbing… pattern of harm’ in the speakers thus far invited. They describe how students have been left ‘in distress’ at having to listen to such ‘painful’ ideas. These talks have caused ‘damage’, and any who have had the courage to rebut the speakers’ arguments have experienced ‘injury’ as a result. If students really are as delicate as this assessment implies, it’s a good job the US government hasn’t reinstated conscription.

    • China’s WeChat Is a Censorship Juggernaut
    • China Censors Posts About Crackdown on Lawyers From Social Media Sites

      China’s internet censors have consistently blocked content related to a nationwide police operation targeting rights lawyers since it was launched in on July 9, 2015 (709), a Canada-based investigation has revealed.

      Researchers at CitizenLab at the Munk School of Global Affairs, University of Toronto found “detailed evidence” that tweets and photos posted to to the popular smartphone chat app WeChat and the Twitter-like platform Sina Weibo were censored with “forbidden” keywords.

    • In China, the art of media censorship is becoming more sophisticated

      Technology and social media advances empower the public in China, but they also empower the censors.

      “The art of censorship is becoming more and more sophisticated,” explained Fang Wang, senior duty editor and head of video content at FTChinese.com, speaking at the International Journalism Festival in Italy last week (5 April).

      “The mouse and cat game is still ongoing and social media plays a key role in it.”

      Wang joined the FT Chinese team about seven years ago. At the festival, she gave insights into how the advancement of technology since then has been used by the Chinese government to control the information accessible in the country.

    • Thai Government Forbids Any Online Contact With Three Overseas Critics Of The Monarchy

      The three people concerned are only able to voice their criticisms of the monarchy and government because they live outside the country — it would obviously be far too risky to do the same inside it. So this latest move is effectively an attempt to forbid Thai citizens from accessing “forbidden” material that lies beyond the Thai government’s direct control, and which has proved impossible to block using technical means. It will doubtless be just as futile.

    • Do we need a film censor?

      The state considers every citizen rational enough to make serious, life-affecting decisions like who to vote for (at 18), who to marry (at 21), what career to choose, investments to make etc. but, cross the threshold and enter a cinema theatre and the citizen turns into a bumbling idiot, unable to discern what to watch or not, to be lent a helping hand by the Pahlaj Nihalani-fied Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC).

    • Netizen Report: Censorship Spikes After Venezuela’s ‘Self-Inflicted Coup’

      Global Voices Advocacy’s Netizen Report offers an international snapshot of challenges, victories, and emerging trends in Internet rights around the world.

      Protesters in Venezuela have been mobilizing almost daily and in large numbers since the Supreme Court of Justice temporarily nullified the National Assembly on March 30, a move that many described as a “self-inflicted” coup. The change sparked international outrage.

    • Netizen Report: Censorship Spikes in Wake of Venezuela’s “Self-Inflicted Coup”

      Although the court reversed course days later and reinstated the National Assembly, public unrest has continued, forcing public officials to confront the economic and political crisis that has been ongoing since 2014. Alongside political turmoil and rising rates of violent crime, the global drop in the price of oil, the country’s main export, has left Venezuela with staggering inflation rates for more than three years. Inflation has not fallen below 50 percent since 2014. It exceeded 100 percent in 2015, and reached 800 percent at the end of 2016. President Nicolas Maduro has repeatedly blamed the United States for the downturn in the oil market.

    • Moderation Over Censorship

      This spring, the Open Campus Initiative was formed to explore the limits of free speech on Harvard’s campus by inviting controversial speakers across the ideological spectrum, starting with Jordan B. Peterson. In response to Peterson’s statements on gender nonconformity and reports of harassment from his previous lectures, many students took issue with his invitation, echoing the backlash to Harvard Financial Analyst Club’s invitation of Martin Shkreli this February. Although we have qualms with the mission statement of OCI and disagree with Peterson’s statements, we nonetheless recognize OCI’s potential value and the difference in the two groups’ purposes and processes.

    • Dissent: Harvard: Where Hate Speech is Welcome

      The sign is meant to present Harvard as a welcoming place: a home to students from all different identities. The inspiring message pulls on the heartstrings of students passing through Harvard Yard as they walk to class. You almost believe it. You almost believe that a school which promotes such a message would never allow anything to make a student here feel otherwise.

      The creation of the Open Campus Initiative has shown us where Harvard students’ values lie. It recently formed with the intention of bringing controversial speakers to Harvard as a way to promote free speech. By inviting these speakers, students are meant to engage in dialogue with people who have opposing viewpoints as a way to understand their opinions and bridge the partisan gaps between polarized groups in order to foster greater community. However, by allowing odious speakers on campus, Harvard is not promoting freedom of speech; it’s promoting hate speech.

    • Open Campus Initiative Shakes Up College Life

      The new organization brought controversial professor Jordan Peterson to campus Monday, despite backlash from other student groups.

      On Monday evening, new student organization the Harvard College Open Campus Initiative hosted its first event on campus. They hosted Dr. Jordan Peterson, a professor at the University of Toronto who has recently come under fire for a video series decrying political correctness, in an event titled “Mask of Compassion: Postmodernism & Neomarxism in Modern Times.”

      The group, which consists of a small number of students who have come together to promote free speech on campus by bringing controversial speakers, is itself nonpartisan but has scheduled more conservative speakers so far, as it believes that these are the perspectives which are not adequately represented on campus.

    • Censorship Undressed: Iranian State TV Cuts Broadcast Mid-Sentence

      In an unusual broadcasting flub this week, Iran’s official state media network cut off the live video feed of a reporter in mid-sentence when she mentioned the name of presidential hopeful Hamid Baghaei, one of the more controversial politicians who has filed to run for president next month.

      Baghaei served as vice president to former president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Both represent a frequently contested hardline political position, and both men now have registered to run for president in Iran’s May 2017 elections.

    • Singapore diplomat hits back at The Economist again
    • How Amos Yee won political asylum in the US: Part 2
    • S’pore’s High Commissioner to UK rebuts The Economist again
  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • EFF Urges Court to Roll Back Ruling Allowing Remote-Control Spying

      Recent Decision Would Allow Foreign Governments to Wiretap Americans on U.S. Soil

      Washington, D.C. – The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) urged an appeals court today to review a dangerous decision by a three-judge panel that would allow foreign governments to spy on Americans on U.S. soil—just as long as they use technology instead of human agents.

      In Kidane v. Ethiopia, an American living in Maryland had his family computer infiltrated by the Ethiopian government. Agents sent an infected email that made its way to Mr. Kidane, and the attached Microsoft Word document carried a malicious computer program called FinSpy that’s sold only to governments. The spyware took control of the machine, making copies of every keystroke and Skype call, and sending them back to Ethiopia as part of its crackdown on critics.

    • New leak suggests NSA penetrated Mideast banking networks

      A new set of documents purportedly lifted from the U.S. National Security Agency suggests that American spies have burrowed deep into the Middle East’s financial network, apparently compromising the Dubai office of the anti-money laundering and financial services firm EastNets. The company said Friday that the documents were dated and denied that any customer data had been affected.

      TheShadowBrokers, which startled the security experts last year by releasing some of the NSA’s hacking tools, has recently resumed pouring secrets into the public domain. In a first for TheShadowBrokers, the data includes PowerPoint slides and purported target lists, suggesting that the group has access to a broader range of data than previously known.

    • On Private Internet Access

      I’m soon going to be moving to Charter Communications territory, but I don’t trust Charter and don’t want it to keep records of all the websites that I visit. The natural solution is to use a VPN, and the natural first choice is Private Internet Access, since it’s a huge financial supporter of GNOME, and I haven’t heard anybody complain about problems with using it. This will be a short review of my experience.

    • [tor-talk] Fwd: Russian FOSS activist arrested for extremist materials/Tor exit-node
    • YouTube TV Will Force You to Watch Ads on Many DVR’d Shows

      Instead, viewers will be forced to watch the on-demand episode and all of the ads, even though consumers thought they saved the show on their DVR.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Saudi Woman Abducted at the Airport

      The story of Dina Ali Lasloom is the story of a struggle that feels as insurmountable as it does desperately urgent. This is a story of religious theocracy meeting royal patriarchy. It is the story of Saudi womanhood, denied.

      Twenty-four-year-old Dina left Saudi Arabia full of hope. Most 24-year-old women the world over dream of the usual things young women do at that age: how to live the full, independent, and exciting life that lies ahead of them. But Dina just wanted to be. Have you ever felt utter, total, and overwhelming helplessness? For Saudi women, such a feeling is a matter of law. They feel it every day. In Saudi Arabia, they are the permanent legal wards of the men in their lives. Powerlessness is a state of being for Saudi women, who lack the lawful agency to study, marry, divorce, work, or travel without formal permission from their father, brother, husband, or son. It is enforced by the system. And the system is a total and absolute religious monarchy.

    • Anti-Pakistan protest in Washington DC against death sentence to Kulbhushan Jadhav

      The AFB also called upon the Trump administration to cut off US military help to Pakistan. “How long will USA continue to serve these jackals, who don’t care two hoots about the lives of freedom loving American and Baloch people? Or for that matter Afghan and Indian lives–, but only care about the greenbacks.”

    • Arrested for a Kiss

      Two young Algerians, a girl and a boy, recently lived through a nightmare. Following a simple kiss and a hand on the shoulder, the couple found themselves under arrest.

    • Government is ‘institutionally biased’ against Christian refugees from Syria, claims former Archbishop of Canterbury

      Last year the House of Commons passed a resolution stating that “Christians, Yazidis and other ethnic and religious minorities in Iraq and Syria are suffering genocide”, though this stance has not been adopted by the British Government.

    • The Push to Ban Arabic Sermons in Europe’s Mosques

      In several Western European countries, some politicians want to force imams to deliver sermons only in the official language: In Germany, imams should preach in German; it Italy, in Italian; in Britain, in English; in France, in French.

      To justify this requirement, two rationales are cited. Some say it will function as a counterterrorism strategy. Others say it will promote the social integration of Muslims. A few appeal to both lines of reasoning.

    • Facebook can’t escape mounting evidence that it’s making people miserable

      Social media has irrevocably changed the nature of friendship, in that we now split our time between virtual relationships and real ones. Now a big new study adds to the growing body of research on the fallout of our socializing online: The more we use Facebook, the less happy we feel.

      From the moment we awake, the first thing we’re tempted to do is “tap on that little blue icon,” Holly B. Shakya, who studies public health at the University of San Diego and led the new study, told the Harvard Business Review. “What impact does it have on you?”

    • Memo shows Kissinger and Rumsfeld in damage control mode following revelation of CIA domestic activities

      To this end, Kissinger suggested to Rumsfeld that the White House not issue a statement at all. In Kissinger’s view, a formal statement would have lent credence to the article’s accusations and create the impression that the Ford Administration faced “a scandal of major proportions.” Kissinger wanted to make it clear that any abuses “anti-dated the current Administration” and wouldn’t be continuing under President Ford. The problems which were coming to light were categorically the fault of someone no longer in power, and thus the current Administration should be blameless. This strategy would be brought up again in the ensuing fallout.

    • UK denies residency to London-born children of Dutch-Spanish couple

      A Dutch and Spanish couple who have lived in Britain all their adult lives have told of their “devastation” after the Home Office refused their post-referendum application to have their two London-born children recognised as permanent residents of the country.

      Jan-Dinant Schreuder and Monica Obiols, both 49, found themselves in a “bureaucratic nightmare” when they were told their 15-year-old son and 12-year-old daughter had to provide more evidence that they lived permanently with their parents.

      “What evidence are they supposed to have? They don’t have council tax bills or proof of where they live. They are children,” said Obiols. “They have gone to school here all their lives, English is their mother tongue. I was just so shocked when we got the refusal letters.”

    • Taser Seeking To Lock Down Body Camera Market With ‘Free’ Camera Offer To Law Enforcement Agencies

      Taser — manufacturer of law enforcement’s favorite electronic battle weapon and the “I’m not a doctor but I play one in courtroom proceedings” creator of arrestee-specific medical condition “excited delirium” — is branching out and (sort of) rebranding.

      It’s not like Taser doesn’t have the less-lethal market sewn up. Its titular device is in the latter stages of genericide — a catch-all term for any sort of stun gun. It’s been busy building a new market: law enforcement body cameras. Under the name Axon, Taser has introduced a number of body-worn cameras, some of them with more advanced feature sets that tie their activation to weapon deployment by officers.

      Now, Axon is hoping to increase its dominance of the body camera market. Its latest move is to offer free cameras and footage storage to any law enforcement agency that requests it. The pay-nothing-now offer lasts for a year. Once the offer expires, agencies are free to look elsewhere for cameras.

    • How I faced misogyny in Hinduism—and found peace with my faith

      Unlike most of my peers, my favorite time of day as a child was bedtime. Well, at least it was when my maternal grandmother — who visited my family every other year from the time I was born to the time I left for college — was in town. >From the minute she arrived at the airport, I would latch onto her like a tiny barnacle, pestering her with questions from sunup until she finally fell asleep at night, no doubt exhausted by a five-year-old girl with a seemingly unquenchable curiosity about everything.

      There was one question to which, however, she never said no. “Ajji?” I’d ask her, my voice high and ever so slightly petulant as she brushed my hair and got me in my pajamas, “Can you tell me a story?”

      And she always did. Her repository of stories was seemingly endless, and she had a natural talent for making these tales accessible to a kindergartener without glossing over any moral nuances or situational complexities addressed therein. She drew upon her knowledge of Hindu epics to feed me bite-sized excerpts; exciting tales of kings at battle or goddesses who harnessed their rage to destroy evil.

    • Trump’s Deepening Embrace of Bahrain’s Repressive Monarchy May Lead to More Instability

      On the morning of March 14th, 2011, military forces from the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) crossed the 16-mile causeway from Saudi Arabia to Bahrain to crush a popular uprising that had arisen there against the Bahraini monarchy. The military intervention was the first salvo in a series of counterrevolutions launched against the Arab Spring uprisings, pitting largely unarmed democracy activists against the repressive force of local security forces and militaries. Six years later, many of the Bahraini civil society leaders whose protests briefly captured the world’s imagination languish in prison, their brief democratic moment snuffed out with the help of regional powers.

      Under Barack Obama, the United States stood by quietly while its GCC allies suppressed the Bahraini revolution. Since taking office, the Trump administration has signaled it will strengthen U.S.-Bahrain ties, recently lifting human rights restrictions on arms sales to its government to clear the path for a multi-billion dollar sale of F-16s. Such measures are likely to be taken by the regime as a green-light to escalate repression, while dimming hopes for the release of the estimated 4,000 political prisoners still held in Bahraini prisons, some analysts say.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • Tennessee Gives AT&T, Comcast Millions In New Taxpayer Subsidies, Yet Banned A City-Owned ISP From Expanding Broadband Without Taxpayer Aid

      If you want to understand what’s wrong with the American broadband industry, you need look no further than Tennessee. The state is consistently ranked as one of the least connected, least competitive broadband markets in the country, thanks in large part to Comcast and AT&T’s stranglehold over politicians like Marsha Blackburn. Lawmakers like Blackburn have let Comcast and AT&T lobbyists quite literally write protectionist state laws for the better part of a decade with an unwavering, singular focus: protecting incumbent revenues from competition and market evolution.

      The negative impact of this pay-to-play legislature is non-negotiable. One state-run study last year ranked Tennessee 40th in terms of overall broadband investment and availability (pdf), and found that 13% of households (or 834,545 Tennesseans) lack access to any high-speed broadband internet service whatsoever. The study found that the vast majority of Tennessee residents still get internet access through slower services like DSL, wireless or dial-up connections, either because that’s all that’s available, or because they couldn’t afford faster options.

      Like twenty other states, Tennessee long ago passed a state law hamstringing towns and cities looking to improve regional broadband networks. As a result, popular municipal broadband providers like Chattanooga’s utility-run ISP, EPB, have been banned from expanding its up to 10 Gbps offerings into any more markets. Attempts to repeal the law earlier this year went nowhere after mammoth pressure from incumbent ISP lobbyists. When that didn’t work, one lawmaker tried to pass a compromise bill that would have allowed EPB to expand into just one neighboring county.

    • FTC Commissioner: If The FCC Kills Net Neutrality, Don’t Expect Our Help

      So we’ve been talking a lot about new FCC boss Ajit Pai and his plan to not only kill net neutrality, but eliminate FCC oversight of broadband providers almost entirely. Reports recently surfaced indicating Pai has been busy meeting with large ISPs behind closed doors to discuss his plan to kill hard net neutrality rules and replace them with “voluntary commitments” from ISPs. This won’t cause any problems, Pai and ISP lobbyists have argued in perfect unison, because the FTC will rush in to protect broadband consumers — and net neutrality — in the wake of the FCC’s dismantling.

    • Don’t Wait For Google, Netflix Or Facebook’s Help If You Want To Save Net Neutrality

      So if you’ve not been paying attention, broadband ISPs (with help from new FCC boss Ajit Pai) are slowly but surely working to eliminate oversight of one of the least-competitive sectors in American industry. It began with Pai killing off a number of FCC efforts piecemeal, including plans to beef up cable box competition, investigate zero rating, and FCC attempts to stop prison telco monopolies from ripping off inmate families. From there, Congress used the Congressional Review Act to kill FCC privacy protections for broadband consumers. Next up: reversing the FCC’s 2015 Title II reclassification and gutting net neutrality.

      Between this, cable’s growing monopoly over broadband (including the rise in usage caps), the sunsetting of Comcast NBC merger conditions and a looming wave of new megamergers and sector consolidation, you should begin to notice there’s a bit of a perfect storm brewing on the horizon when it comes to broadband and media competition, anti-competitive behavior, and oversight — one that’s not going to be particularly enjoyable for broadband consumers, or the numerous companies that compete and/or do business with the likes of AT&T, Comcast and Verizon.

  • DRM

    • Obedience Award granted to Tim Berners-Lee for deference to pro-DRM corporations

      Today Defective by Design granted Tim Berners-Lee the first ever Obedience Award, recognizing his work to help wealthy corporations add DRM (Digital Restrictions Management) to official Web standards. Inspired by the MIT Media Lab Disobedience Award, the Obedience Award highlights activity upholding the status quo despite an overwhelming ethical case against it. Today is the first opportunity for the addition of DRM to become final as per the formal process for setting Web standards.

      As the director of the W3C (World Wide Web Consortium) Berners-Lee previously fought to advance Web users’ rights, supporting net neutrality, privacy and universal access. Born in the UK, he was knighted by H.M. Queen Elizabeth in 2004 and awarded the Order of Merit in 2007. Most recently, he received the Association for Computing Machinery’s A.M. Turing Prize.

      Though he was previously critical of DRM, Berners-Lee decided not to take a stand against Netflix, Microsoft, Google, and Apple when they began developing a Web standard for streaming video DRM, instead encouraging them to do so within the W3C. These wealthy companies supply copious membership dues to the W3C.

    • The Web Is At A Crossroads – New Standard Enables Copyright Enforcement Violating Users’ Rights

      The World Wide Web today stands at a crossroads, as its standards body, the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), considers the demand of big content providers to provide them with the facility to be able to control user devices for ensuring that their content is not copied. This facility is called the Encrypted Media Extension (EME), which enables these companies to put digital rights management (DRM) into the user’s browser, whether the user wants it or not, and whether such restrictions are as per the user’s local national laws or not.

    • Open Letter to the European Commission on Encrypted Media Extensions

      The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) is considering to standardize a highly controversial proposal on Encrypted Media Extensions for the use of DRM technology (copyright restrictions) in modern web browsers.

      Together with my colleague Lucy Anderson, I wrote the following letter to Vice-President Andrus Ansip and Commissioners Elżbieta Bieńkowska and Margrethe Vestager with a set of questions concerning the European Commission’s position and involvement into this work…

    • MEP to Commission: World Wide Web Consortium’s DRM is a danger to Europeans

      German Member of the European Parliament Julia Reda (previously) has published an open-letter signed by UK MEP Lucy Anderson, raising alarm at the fact that the W3C is on the brink of finalising a DRM standard for web video, which — thanks to crazy laws protecting DRM — will leave users at risk of unreported security vulnerabilities, and also prevent third parties from adapting browsers for the needs of disabled people, archivists, and the wider public.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Victoria Beckham trademarks her daughter Harper’s name in Britain and Europe

      The fashion designer has registered “Harper Beckham” with intellectual property {sic} authorities in Britain and Europe.

    • Trademarks

      • Court Tosses Company’s Bid To Slap Down Olympics Social Media Restrictions Over Jurisdictional Issues

        By now everyone should know that the IOC and USOC have completely perverted the concept of trademark law surrounding any mentioning of the Olympic Games. It’s gotten so bad that the USOC has taken to threatening businesses that tweet out congratulatory messages to athletes, even when those businesses supported those athletes getting to the Olympics in the first place. The USOC seems to be under the impression that tweeting about the Olympics as a business is trademark infringement. It’s not. It never was.

      • Trademark Bullying Works: Mooselick Brewing Co. Becomes Granite Roots Brewing Out Of Fear Of Moosehead Breweries

        I will occasionally get a common question when discussing stories about trademark bullies: why do these bullies actually do this? The easy answer is, of course, because it works. And it works on many levels. For example, the primary targets in actual lawsuits can be bullied out of using names and terms for their businesses or brands, so it works on that level. But that’s really just the tip of the iceberg. Where being a trademark bully really works is when it makes lawsuits unnecessary, because other businesses and people are so fearful of the bully tactic.

        To see that in practice, one need only look at the brewery formerly named Mooselick Brewing Co., which is now rebranding itself as Granite Roots Brewing without putting up a fight against, you guessed it, Moosehead Breweries.


        The warning shot by Moosehead Breweries was all it needed to fire — so entrenched is its reputation for trademark bullying and its willingness to engage in costly lawsuits.

    • Copyrights

      • Legal Threat From Creator Of Wall St. Bull Statue Even More Full Of Bull Than Expected

        Yesterday, we wrote about reports that Arturo Di Modica, the artist behind the famous “Charging Bull” statue near Wall St., was claiming that the new “Fearless Girl” statue that was put up in front of the bull infringed on his copyrights. As we noted in our piece, the only possible claim we could see was a weak moral rights claim, under VARA — the Visual Artists Rights Act of 1990. However, as we noted in an update to the post (with a helping hand from law professor James Grimmelmann) VARA shouldn’t apply. If you read the actual law, it applies to works created after VARA went into effect or to works created before the law went into effect if the title to the artwork has not been transferred from the artist.

        But, of course, the history here is that Di Modica dumped the statue in front of the NY Stock Exchange as a surprise in 1989, only to have it moved by the city and given a “temporary permit” in a nearby park that is continually renewed. 1989 is, obviously, prior to the enactment of VARA in 1990. And, Grimmelmann argues, Di Modica “transferred the title by accession when he installed it.”


Links 13/4/2017: Nginx 1.12, GNOME 3.24.1 Released; Mark Shuttleworth Back to CEO Role

Posted in News Roundup at 9:33 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish



Free Software/Open Source

  • Indian wins top prize at United Nations challenge for open source tool

    An Indian software engineer has won the top prize at a global challenge for an open-source tool that enables users to interactively view UN General Assembly resolutions and gain a deeper understanding of the voting patterns of member states. Abdulqadir Rashik, also an entrepreneur, won the ‘Unite Ideas #UNGAViz Textual Analysis and Visualisation Challenge’ for his ‘Global Policy’, an open-source tool that enables users to search and interactively view General Assembly resolutions to gain a deeper understanding of the voting patterns and decisions made by United Nations Member States.

  • A10 adapts to companies using open source load balancers

    A10 Networks Inc. has integrated its application delivery controller with a second open source load balancer, as enterprises turn to free software for services provided by ADC vendors.

    The vendor announced this week integration between the Harmony Controller and HAProxy, one of several widely used open source load balancers for applications running on Linux. Harmony also supports NGINX, which developers also use with Linux software.

  • Scaling Mastodon : What it takes to house 43,000 users

    My instance mastodon.social has recently surpassed 43,000 users. I have closed registrations both to have more time to investigate the infrastructure and ensure a good experience for existing users, and to encourage more decentralization in the network (with a wonderful effect — the Mastodon fediverse now hosts over 161,000 people spread out over more than 500 independent instances!)

    But providing a smooth and swift service to 43,000 users takes some doing, and as some of the other instances are approaching large sizes themselves, it is a good time to share the tips & tricks I learned from doing it.

  • 3 open source boilerplate web design templates

    In the olden days, creating a website from scratch was easy.

    With a basic understanding of HTML, and maybe a little CSS, you could put together a pretty functional web page with very little effort. Throw it onto your web server, and you were good to go.

  • Events

  • Web Browsers

    • Google deprecates Octane JavaScript benchmark, because everyone is basically cheating

      Google has announced that its widely used Octane JavaScript benchmark is being retired, with Google saying that it’s no longer a useful way for browser developers to determine how best to optimize their JavaScript engines.

      Octane was developed for and by the developers of V8, the JavaScript engine used in Chrome. It was intended to address flaws in the earlier SunSpider benchmark, developed by Apple’s Safari team. SunSpider’s tests were all microbenchmarks, sometimes testing something as small as a single operation performed thousands of times. It wasn’t very representative of real-world code, and it was arguably being gamed, with browser vendors introducing optimizations that were aimed primarily, albeit not exclusively, at boosting SunSpider scores. This was being done even when those optimizations were detrimental to real-world performance, because having a good score carried so much prestige.

    • Chrome

      • Chrome 59 To Support Headless Mode

        Chrome 59 stable isn’t expected until early June, but when this release comes it will bring with it an interesting feature: a headless mode.

        Chrome’s headless mode is made for headless/server environments, such as where you may automatically want to be capturing screenshots of rendered pages, etc. This is very practical for automated testing. Or there’s the use-case of just wanting to interact with the DOM but not caring about presenting the contents on any connected physical display.

  • SaaS/Back End

    • How OpenStack releases get their names

      Quite a bit, actually. Open source projects frequently struggle to find a name that’s suitably memorable, descriptive, appropriate, and, above all else, does not find the project in accidental legal trouble.

      While nailing down the name for an open source project can be a challenge, so too can be the naming of individual components or releases. Several projects within OpenStack are on their second name: Quantum became Neutron, Savanna became Sahara, and Marconi became Zaqar.

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice

    • LibreOffice the better Office

      In the last 3 months I played with the awesome feature of Notebookbar. This experimental feature give the user the possibility to use a tabbed toolbar like Microsoft does, but it offers more, much more. I like the idea from the LibreOffice UX team about the context based toolbar. Advantage of the different UI elements.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)


  • Public Services/Government

    • Portugal building new services on national interoperability platforms

      Last month, the Portuguese Ministry of Health started a pilot to make it easier for citizens to get ‘proof of fitness’, a requirement to obtain or renew a driving licence. For this purpose, the Portuguese National Broker (PNB) platform was extended to include the exchange of Driving Licence Certificates between the Ministry and the Portuguese Institute for Mobility and Transport (IMT, I.P.).

      The PNB platform is the national eHealth message exchange, providing technical, semantic and legal interoperability between all health-related entities in the country. Its role is to facilitate the exchange of messages (services/interfaces) while at the same time implementing security mechanisms for authentication and access control. The infrastructure currently processes an average of 300,000 messages per day.

    • Sharing and reuse ‘a government paradigm shift’

      Sharing and reuse of IT solutions should become the default for the EU’s public administrations, said Mário Campolargo, Deputy Director General for the Directorate General of Informatics (DIGIT) of the European Commission at the Sharing & Reuse Conference 2017 in Lisbon, Portugal, last week. “This is the key for open modern government”, he said.

    • German City of Göppingen builds on open source software

      “I would estimate that almost 30 percent of the software we are using (in administration and in 25 schools) is based on open source,” Herbert Rettberg, IT manager at the German City of Göppingen said in an interview blog recently published by consultancy firm IT-Novum.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

    • Openness is key to working with Gen Z

      Leaders and managers everywhere collectively groan with the thought of a new cohort to manage. Boomers and Gen Xers typically try to align the new kids on the block with Millennials—which would be a mistake. While Gen Z and Millennials have similarities, their motivators and influencers are vastly different. Each of the differences affects attraction, recruitment and retention of Gen Z talent.

    • Open Hardware/Modding

      • FreeSRP: An open source software defined radio covering 70 MHz to 6 GHz with an on-board FPGA and USB 3.0 port.

        “Lukas started his epic SDR-from-scratch build when he was 16. Projects like this aren’t completed overnight. (He’s now 18. We’re impressed.)”

        The FreeSRP is an open-source (hardware and software) platform for software-defined radio that is affordable, high performance, compatible with existing SDR software such as GNU Radio, and includes an expansion port for hardware add-ons.

      • Friday Hack Chat: Open Source Silicon

        This Friday, Hackaday.io will be graced with purveyors of Open Source Silicon. Join us in the Hackaday.io Hack Chat this Friday, April 14 at noon PDT (19:00 UTC) for a conversation with SiFive, an ‘Open’ silicon manufacturer.

        This week, we’re sitting down with SiFive, a fabless semiconductor company and makers of the HiFive1, an Open Hardware microcontroller that you can just go out and buy. Late last year, SiFive released the HiFive1, an Arduinofied version of SiFive’s FE310 System on Chip. This SoC is a RISC-V core and one of the first microprocessors that is completely Open Source. It is an affront to Stallmanism, the best hope we have for truly Open hardware, and it’s pretty fast, to boot.

  • Programming/Development

    • LLVM-powered Pocl puts parallel processing on multiple hardware platforms

      LLVM, the open source compiler framework that powers everything from Mozilla’s Rust language to Apple’s Swift, emerges in yet another significant role: an enabler of code deployment systems that target multiple classes of hardware for speeding up jobs like machine learning.

      To write code that can run on CPUs, GPUs, ASICs, and FPGAs—hugely useful with machine learning apps—it’s best to use the likes of OpenCL, which allows a program to be written once, then automatically deployed across different types of hardware.

    • Intel Developers Looking To Get Nios II Backend In LLVM
    • Weblate 2.13.1

      Weblate 2.13.1 has been released quickly after 2.13. It fixes few minor issues and possible upgrade problem.

    • 12 ways to study a new programming language

      In this article, I outline 12 suggestions for study techniques. Remember that everybody learns differently. Some of these techniques may work excellently for you, whereas others may not meet your needs at all. If you start to feel stuck with one strategy, try another and see where it gets you.

  • Standards/Consortia


  • Hardware

  • Security

    • [Older] Improving by simplifying the GnuTLS PRNG

      One of the most unwanted baggages for crypto implementations written prior to this decade is the (pseudo-)random generator, or simply PRNG. Speaking for GnuTLS, the random generator was written at a time where devices like /dev/urandom did not come by default on widely used operating systems, and even if they did, they were not universally available, e.g., devices would not be present, the Entropy Gathering Daemon (EGD) was something that was actually used in practice, and was common for software libraries like libgcrypt to include code to gather entropy on a system by running arbitrary command line tools.

    • [Older] GNUtls: GnuTLS 3.5.10

      Released GnuTLS 3.5.11 which is a bug fix release in the stable branch.

    • [Older] Practical basics of reproducible builds

      One issue though: people have to trust me — and my computer’s integrity.
      Reproducible builds could address that.

      My release process is tightly controlled, but is my project reproducible? If not, what do I need? Let’s check!

    • [Older] Practical basics of reproducible builds 2
    • Why creating an open-source ecosystem doesn’t mean you’re taking on security risks

      Anyone who uses technology benefits from open-source software. Most applications you use have implemented open-source code to varying degrees. This isn’t just small-time developers that use this code, either. Many large enterprises rely on this software to build their own products and solutions.

      Because of this, any CIO would be wise to have their developers follow the same blueprint. However, some developers have concerns about open-source. In an open environment where any contributor can drop potentially harmful code into the global library, is it safe — or wise — to lean heavily on these development resources?

    • Security updates for Wednesday
    • 9 Ways to Harden Your Linux Workstation After Distro Installation

      So far in this series, we’ve walked through security considerations for your SysAdmin workstation from choosing the right hardware and Linux distribution, to setting up a secure pre-boot environment and distro installation. Now it’s time to cover post-installation hardening.

    • Is this a Ubuntu-based Botnet deploying Tor Relays and Bridges?
    • Microsoft Word 0-day was actively exploited by strange bedfellows

      A critical Microsoft Word zero-day that was actively exploited for months connected two strange bedfellows, including government-sponsored hackers spying on Russian targets and financially motivated crooks pushing crimeware.

    • Microsoft reduces Patch Tuesday to an incomprehensible mess
    • Nation-State Hackers Go Open Source [Ed: How to associate FOSS with crime? Hmmm… let us think. Our writer Kelly Jackson Higgins can take care of that…]

      Researchers who track nation-state groups say open-source hacking tools increasingly are becoming part of the APT attack arsenal.

      Nation-state hacking teams increasingly are employing open-source software tools in their cyber espionage and other attack campaigns.

    • New release: usbguard-0.7.0

      From all the bug fixes in this release, I’d like to point out one which required a backwards incompatible change and requires an update to existing policies. The Linux USB root hub devices use the kernel version as the bcdDevice attribute value. The value is part of the USB descriptor data which USBGuard uses for computing the device hash and therefore causes the device hash to change on every kernel update. This in turn makes USBGuard rules which rely on this hash to not match and block the device. And because it’s a root hub device that gets blocked, all the other devices get blocked too. The bug fix is simple, reset the bcdDevice value to zero before hashing (applied only for the Linux root hub devices).

  • Defence/Aggression

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • ‘Endangered species to declare?’ Europe’s understudied bushmeat trade

      An estimated 40 tons of bushmeat is flown into Geneva and Zurich airports every year, with a similar story likely unfolding in other European capitals, where poached, wild caught meat – including endangered species – is illegally being traded and served on urban dinner plates. The problem could be serious, and some trafficking could be well organized, but only a few surveys in a couple of countries have been done so far to determine what’s happening at European points of entry.

  • Finance

    • How Uber conquers a city in seven steps

      “Uber plays by its own rules – [it has been accused of] shortchanging drivers, [avoiding] local taxes and sometimes laws by hiding behind an army of expensive lawyers and lobbyists,” said Carys Afoko, communications director of SumOfUs. “And now, we’re exposing it.”

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Fake News at Work in Spam Kingpin’s Arrest?

      While there is scant evidence that the spammer’s arrest had anything to do with the election, the success of that narrative is a sterling example of how the Kremlin’s propaganda machine is adept at manufacturing fake news, undermining public trust in the media, and distracting attention away from the real story.

    • Turkey’s lose-lose referendum

      No matter the outcome of Turkey’s referendum on constitutional reform Sunday, there is no good option left for the country’s people.

      A victory for the Yes vote would institutionalize a de facto one-man rule under Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. The remaining, already severely weakened, voices of the opposition will be even more easily labeled as “traitors.”

      If the No camp prevails, people’s hopes for change might be reignited. But a more insecure Erdoğan would likely crack down even more harshly on any form of criticism.

      In Turkey, the pervading climate is one of fear and collective insanity. As concerns over the transparency of the vote grow, silent grievances are deepening.

      The Yes campaign is backed by vast public resources, making it impossible to talk about a fair race. Indeed, in an environment where people are scared to express their opinion in surveys, few pollsters are confident enough to call it a close one.

      “Naysayers” are treated like terrorists. Observers from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe have confirmed cases of intimidation against the No campaign across the country.

    • Crosstalk debate on Russiagate

      A recent debate about “Russiagate” on RT’s Crosstalk show, with CIA whistleblower, John Kiriakou, and former US diplomat, James Jatras, along with host Peter Lavelle.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • Possible routes for distributed anti-abuse systems

      I work on federated standards and systems, particularly ActivityPub. Of course, if you work on this stuff, every now and then the question of “how do you deal with abuse?” very rightly comes up. Most recently Mastodon has gotten some attention, which is great! But of course, people are raising the question, can federation systems really protect people from abuse? (It’s not the first time to come up either; at LibrePlanet in 2015 a number of us held a “social justice for federated free software systems” dinner and were discussing things then.) It’s an important question to ask, and I’m afraid the answer is, “not reliably yet”. But in this blogpost I hope to show that there may be some hope for the future.

    • Gush: A stack based language eventually for genetic programming

      I recently wrote about possible routes for anti-abuse systems. One of the goofier routes I wrote about on there discussed genetic programming. I get the sense that few people believe I could be serious… in some ways, I’m not sure if I myself am serious. But the idea is so alluring! (And, let’s be honest, entertaining!) Imagine if you had anti-abuse programs on your computer, and they’re growing and evolving based on user feedback (hand-waving aside exactly what that feedback is, which might be the hardest problem), adapting to new threats somewhat invisibly from the user benefiting from them. They have a set of friends who have similar needs and concerns, and so their programs propagate and reproduce with programs in their trust network (along with their datasets, which may be taught to child programs also via a genetic program). Compelling! Would it work? I dunno.


      Lee and I met up at the Haymarket Cafe, which is a friendly coffee shop in Northampton. I mentioned that I had just come from LibrePlanet where I had given a talk on The Lisp Machine and GNU. I was entertained that almost immediately after these words left my mouth, Lee dove into his personal experiences with lisp machines, and his longing for the kind of development experiences lisp machines gave you, which he hasn’t been able to find since. That’s kind of an aside from this blogpost I suppose, but it was nice that we had something immediately to connect on, including on a topic I had recently been exploring and talking about myself. Anyway, the conversation was pretty wild and wide-ranging.

    • Sock puppet accounts unmasked by the way they write and post

      A study of nine websites that use comment service Disqus to let readers post responses to articles found that sock puppets can be identified based on their writing style, posting activity and relationship with other users.

    • An Art Career Intertwined with Censorship: The Murals of Mike Alewitz

      A profile in The College Voice, the student newspaper of Connecticut College, of an activist-turned-artist named Mike Alewitz details his radical, politically charged career that is characterized as much by the provocative works he produced as by the incidents of censorship the works inspired.

      Alewitz, a former professor at Central CT State University , who earned his MFA from the Massachusetts College of Art in 1983, is best known for his murals depicting the American labor movement. According to the profile author, his “stories are a routine of acceptance and decline, of struggle and movement. His pieces are vibrant, loud, colorful. They declare to be acknowledged.”

    • Texas Supreme Court Is Skeptical About Wikipedia As A Dictionary

      This is an interesting opinion from the Texas Supreme Court on citing Wikipedia as a dictionary. The underlying case involves an article in D Magazine titled “The Park Cities Welfare Queen.” The article purports to show that the plaintiff, Rosenthal, “has figured out how to get food stamps while living in the lap of luxury.” After publication, evidence emerged that the plaintiff had not committed welfare fraud. She sued the magazine for defamation.

      The appeals court denied the magazine’s anti-SLAPP motion in part because it held the term “Welfare Queen,” as informed by the Wikipedia entry, could be defamatory. The Texas Supreme Court affirms the anti-SLAPP denial, but it also criticizes the appeals court for not sufficiently examining the entire article’s gist. Along the way, the court opines on the credibility and validity of Wikipedia as a dictionary. TL;DR = the Supreme Court says don’t treat Wikipedia like a dictionary.

    • Internet Censorship Is Advancing Under Trump

      Last Thursday, Twitter sued the federal government. At issue was a demand from the Department of Homeland Security that Twitter reveal the user(s) behind an account critical of the Trump administration. The government withdrew its request the next day, and the issue seemingly drew to a close.

    • Graham Gal: Objects to censorship of comics

      A recent incident brought this home. I work with a colleague at Tehran University. They wanted a copy of a book, but were not able buy it. I went to Amazon, purchased an e-version, and sent the link to them. When she tried to get the book she got a message that, “This title is not available for customers from (the) Islamic Republic of Iran.”

    • U of T researchers uncover extent of China’s censorship on 709 crackdown

      Even as it was arresting, torturing and imprisoning human-rights lawyers, the Chinese government blocked discussion of its actions on local social media, including images distributed by those drawing attention to what had taken place.

      Researchers at the University of Toronto’s Citizen Lab discovered that WeChat, China’s digital-communication lifeblood, has censored 42 combinations of terms related to the “709 crackdown,” so called because it began on July 9, 2015.

      The research underscores how Chinese authorities assert broad control over information inside the country, eliminating unfavourable information.

    • Bill Cosby’s ‘Little Bill’ books targeted for censorship, library group says
    • Librarians ask to pull Cosby books after sex assault charges
    • The top 10 books parents wanted removed from libraries in 2016
    • Censorship Watchdog: Bill Cosby’s Books for Kids Are Vanishing From Schools

      A censorship watchdog has warned that novels by shamed comedian Bill Cosby are vanishing from school libraries.

    • Fighting Censorship: Victories in 1957 & 2017 #ACLUTimeMachine
    • South Korea: Corruption & Self-Censorship
  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Data Dump Reveals NSA Infiltrated Cellular Networks of Pakistan
    • WikiLeaks says US security agency hacked Pakistan mobile networks
    • US Security Agency Hacked Pakistani Mobile Networks: WikiLeaks
    • ‘NSA Malware’ Released By Shadow Brokers Hacker Group
    • Dealing With Real-Life, Everyday Security Threats

      Are your hard drives encrypted? Especially laptop drives? If you have data stored on your computers that someone can use to make your life miserable, including credit card numbers, an encrypted hard drive can save the day in case of theft. Using Linux is pretty good, too, since a passworded Linux install will foil most low-end thieves.

    • It’s “National Get a VPN Day” in Australia

      Australia’s mandatory data retention scheme comes into effect today, with telecoms providers expected to retain and store their customers’ Internet usage metadata. In response, privacy group Digital Rights Watch has declared this event National Get a VPN Day, vowing to equip citizens with the tools they need to avoid surveillance.

    • ‘NSA malware’ released by Shadow Brokers hacker group
    • FBI Tries New Rule 41 Changes On For Size In Fight Against Long-Running Botnet

      The DOJ is proud to announce it’s flexing its new Rule 41 muscle. The changes proposed in 2015 sailed past a mostly-uninterested Congress and into law, giving the FBI and other DOJ entities permission to hack computers anywhere in the world with a single warrant.

      With the new rules, the law has finally caught up with the FBI’s activities. It deployed a Network Investigative Tool — the FBI’s nifty nickname for intrusive malware that sends identifying info from people’s computers to FBI investigators — back in 2012 during a child porn investigation and mostly got away with it. It tried it again in 2015 and ran into a bit more resistance.

    • Yes, There Are Other Laws That Protect Privacy, But FCC’s Rules Were Still Helpful

      There’s been a lot of hype and confusion about Congress’s decision (supported by the new FCC) to kill off the broadband privacy rules that were put in place late last year by the Tom Wheeler FCC, though they had not yet been officially implemented. As we noted, it’s an unfortunate exaggeration (pushed by some well meaning folks) to say that ISPs will now be packaging up and selling individuals’ specific browsing history. That’s just not true. Some people responded to us by noting that just because that’s not how the ad market works today, it doesn’t mean that won’t change. But… that’s probably not the case. Don’t get me wrong: getting rid of these privacy rules is still a really bad idea, but let’s look a little deeper at what ISPs can’t do, before we explain why those privacy rules are still important.

      First off, as we noted, the market for internet data is not in sharing some sort of dossier on what you like, but rather connecting into a marketplace, where the information is shared for the purpose of displaying ads, but not in a way where your actual info goes to the advertiser. That is, when you, say, go shopping for a camera, and then start seeing ads for cameras everywhere, it’s not that the camera makers now know that you, Joe Schmoe, like cameras. Instead, what happens is that some company took that info (Joe Schmoe is shopping for cameras) and that gets put into a marketplace where some real time bidding happens for ad placement, such that when Joe Schmoe visits another site, there’s a near instantaneous call out for who will pay the most for the ad slot, and with that info is, effectively, this otherwise anonymous person was just looking at cameras, and the camera company will say “I’ll pay an extra $0.0002 for that ad compared to the TV maker” and thus the camera ad gets shown. The camera maker or retailer never knows its Joe Schmoe, and doesn’t somehow “know” anything more about Joe.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Tanzanian safe house helps courageous girls escape female genital mutilation

      Last December, more than 200 girls arrived at Samwelly’s sanctuary from all over Tanzania; some as young as eight years old fled their homes to avoid cutting.

    • German-Muslim Author Faces Death Threats After Publishing Book Critical of Islam

      With her book The Veiled Threat dealing with the plight of Muslim women in Europe, former radical feminist Zana Ramadani has kicked the Islamist hornets’ nest in Germany. Being born a Muslim herself, Ramadani is fearful of her life after receiving countless death threats from radical Muslims in Germany. German authorities have not granted her police protection yet.

    • Pakistani boy’s sexual organ chopped off, eyes pricked for having ‘illicit relationship’ with girl

      The boy, a class nine student, was robbed of his sight for the rest of his life but doctors managed to save his life.

    • Teacher on United flight took students off plane after incident
    • United passenger threatened with handcuffs to make room for ‘higher-priority’ traveler

      So how could United possibly make things worse? Not to worry. This is the airline that knows how to add insult to injury.

    • Dr. Dao Dragged Off A Plane Then Dragged Through The Media

      They then — thuggishly — had the man, Dr. Dao, dragged out of his seat on the plane as if he had done something criminal.

      As for the stories coming out about him now, the reality is, what he’s done in his life is immaterial. He bought that seat, he got to the airport on time, and he got into his seat without incident.

    • United Airlines hasn’t even bothered apologising to the passenger beaten on its flight – this is Trump’s America now

      And what was United’s stellar PR response?

    • City Officials Step Up After DOJ Told To Stop Worrying About Civil Rights Violations By Law Enforcement Agencies

      It appears the DOJ will no longer be in the business of policing the police. A memo issued by every cop’s new best friend, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, states the DOJ will be doing more to empower police and will conduct fewer civil rights investigations of law enforcement agencies. On one hand, it makes sense to have the locals handle their own problems. On the other hand, the locals have repeatedly shown a willingness to ignore abusive policing until the feds are forced to step in.

      It may be difficult to roll back DOJ agreements and oversight of investigated agencies immediately. It may, in fact, be impossible. Those consent decrees that have made their way through the court system on the way to being put into force would take some serious litigating to roll back. It’s not clear the DOJ’s interested in attempting an expensive clawback of police oversight and policy changes.

      It’s those that haven’t been formalized through this process that are in danger of being scaled back, if not removed completely. The DOJ has filed a motion asking for time to review its proposed consent decree with the Baltimore PD in light of AG Sessions’ memo. The DOJ also just finished wrapping up an investigation of the Chicago PD, but statements made by Sessions and President Trump indicate the White House and DOJ are more interested in solving Chicago’s crime problem, rather than its police problem.

    • How Amos Yee won political asylum in the US

      The recent success of 17-year-old Singaporean Amos Yee in seeking political asylum in the US has led to a diplomatic dispute between the two countries.

      And while the international media, including the media in Hong Kong, have referred to Yee as a “political dissident”, he has received very little sympathy from among Singaporeans themselves.

    • Online adverts ‘exploit homeless for sex’

      Young, vulnerable people are being targeted with online classified adverts offering accommodation in exchange for sex, a BBC investigation has found.

      The deals, which are legal, are on classified ad sites such as craigslist.

      Charities have described the adverts as exploitative and Hove MP Peter Kyle wants them made illegal. Craigslist, which on one day carried more than 100 such adverts, has not commented.

      One student described how she felt her only option was a “sex-for-rent” deal.

    • Non-Muslims Worship places not allowed to be taller than Mosques – Selangor State Gov
    • Hello, Feminists! Here’s The “Patriarchy” You Should Be Protesting

      Of course, protesting what goes on in Pakistan doesn’t really work if what you’re going for in protesting Israel is cover for Jew hatred — basically, having a plausibly deniable way to protest Jews.

      Oh, and I’m not in favor of everything that goes on in Israel. In fact, I think that if Jews looked at the highest for of righteousness in Judaism, saving a life, they’d do as LA writer Ken Layne once suggested and move Israel to Baja.

      Same weather — missing a few urns and the religious connection and history. However, to save a whole lot of lives (Israeli and Palestinian, in a conflict unlikely to ever end, except in a nuking, Israelis should move away from the people trying to murder them. (And yes, Israel bought Arab land fair and square, for elevated prices, early on, despite Arabs telling other Arabs not to sell.)

      After Israelis vacate to Mexico, the land they’ve left will surely become like all the other Middle Eastern countries — where various sects of Islam are busy killing each other for being “not Muslim enough,” or just because.

      The Jews — in the form of Israelis — are just a convenient distraction from this.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • Net Neutrality: Respect my Net presented at BEREC

      La Quadrature du Net publishes a position paper co-drafted with the FDN Federation and presented/exposed during the stakeholders meeting organised by the Body of European Regulators of Electronic Communications (BEREC) on 14 March 2017 in Brussels.

      The proposals aim to allow a better monitoring of Net Neutrality and present helpful evidence for regulators to enforce the application of Net Neutrality especially through a tool developed to allow users to report Net Neutrality violations in the easiest way possible.

    • Tennessee Could Give Taxpayers America’s Fastest Internet For Free, But It Will Give Comcast and AT&T $45 Million Instead

      The situation is slightly convoluted and thoroughly infuriating. EPB—a power and communications company owned by the Chattanooga government—offers 100 Mbps, 1 Gbps, and 10 Gpbs internet connections. A Tennessee law that was lobbied for by the telecom industry makes it illegal for EPB to expand out into surrounding areas, which are unserved or underserved by current broadband providers. For the last several years, EPB has been fighting to repeal that state law, and even petitioned the Federal Communications Commission to try to get the law overturned.

    • Silicon Valley kicks off fight on net neutrality

      “The FCC just held a closed door meeting with lobbyists from the Big Cable, and now they’re moving fast to slash net neutrality and open the flood gates for fast lanes and slow lanes, throttling, and censorship,” the group wrote in its call to action.

  • DRM

    • LibrePlanet Day 2, DRM, contributing, and advice

      The second day of LibrePlanet 2017 started with a talk by author, blogger, editor, activist, and Internet freedom fighter Cory Doctorow. Straight through to Sumana Harihareswara’s closing keynote, the day was full of conversations and presentations touching on a broad range of topics across the free software movement.

      Doctorow presented “Beyond unfree: The software you can go to jail for talking about.” Related to his current anti-Digital Restrictions Management (DRM) work, he addressed the wide range of risks threatened by copyright, trademark, and patent laws, as well as the use and institutionalization of DRM. But he did not just paint a bleak image, instead reminding the audience that the fight against DRM and similar restrictions is ongoing. “My software freedom,” Doctorow said, “is intersectional.”

    • Portugal Pushes Law To Partially Ban DRM, Allow Circumvention

      You might think that copyright on its own has enough problems. And yet DRM, originally designed to protect digital copyright material from unauthorized copying, has managed to make things much worse. It not only punishes with extra inconvenience those who acquire legal copies — but not those who manage to find illegal versions without DRM — it also allows the DMCA to be used to disable competitors’ products, to create repair monopolies, and even to undermine the very concept of ownership. You can see why the copyright industry really loves DRM, and fights to preserve its sanctity. And you can also see why the following news from Portugal, where the parliament has just approved a bill allowing DRM circumvention and even bans in certain situations, is such a big deal.

    • Denuvo Strikes Back: The DRM Has Been Patched And Is Working… For Now

      The recent saga of Denuvo DRM has been fairly fast moving as these things go. Once thought to be the DRM unicorn that video game makers had dreamed of for years, the time it took for cracks to be released for Denuvo-protected games shrunk to months, then weeks, and finally days. It seemed for all the world like Denuvo was destined for the grave.

      But these things don’t always progress in linear fashion. The recently released Bioware title Mass Effect: Andromeda was patched recently for a variety of gameplay functions. Unheralded in the patch notes was the updated version of Denuvo included within it. That updated version appears to be setting back cracking groups, forcing Mass Effect pirates into using the older, pre-patched version of the game.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • BlackBerry awarded $815 million in arbitration case against Qualcomm
    • Trademarks

      • Q&A With Wine Country IP Attorneys Shows Just How Problematic Trademark Is Becoming

        For several years now, we’ve put out the steady warning that the alcohol industries have a trademark problem. In some ways, it’s one of those kinda sorta good problems to have in a goods industry, in that the reason there is a problem at all is because of how well the alcohol business is doing. Not just well in terms of total sales, but also in terms of being an ecosystem that encourages new businesses, startups, and expansion. Those are all signs of a healthy market, but with that comes the trademark problem. With so many new players and and a finite amount of language with which those players can brand themselves, trademark disputes in what has previously been known to be an IP congenial industry have exploded in number.

        It’s become bad enough that the North Bay Business Journal in Santa Rosa, California, smack dab in the middle of wine country, conducted a written Q&A with a couple of intellectual property attorneys to get their thoughts. You can practically hear the frustration at how this is all progressing dripping off of their responses.

    • Copyrights

      • The Bull Statue Copyright Claim Is Ridiculous… But Here’s Why It Just Might Work

        Eventually, because New Yorkers seemed to like the damn thing, the city granted a “temporary” permit allowing the statue to remain (a little ways away from where it was originally placed) — and so it’s remained there, “temporarily,” for 28 years. Of course, there have been some conflicts over the bull. In 2009, we wrote about Di Modica suing people for copyright infringement, which seems kind of nutty given that he originally just dumped the statue in the street without getting permission.


Links 11/4/2017: Black Lab Linux 8.2, Slackel 7.0 Live Openbox Beta

Posted in News Roundup at 4:48 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish



Free Software/Open Source

  • New Survey: Cloud Providers in Open Source

    Some of today’s most dynamic and innovative free and open source software (FOSS) projects boast significant investment and involvement by well-known cloud service and solution providers. We are launching a survey to better understand the perception of these solution providers by people engaging in open source communities.

    In both enterprise and tech, FOSS adoption and deployment rates today reach 78%, with 65% of companies also contributing to FOSS projects, according to The Future of Open Source survey (2016 and 2015). Leading edge, innovative organizations make even greater investments in open source, fielding software stacks comprised of over 90% FOSS (Gartner.)

  • Eric S. Raymond says you probably fit one of eight tech archetypes

    Open source luminary Eric S. Raymond has given the world eight “Hacker Archetypes” that he thinks offer useful ways to categorise your colleagues and by doing so help them to understand their strengths and weaknesses.

    Raymond says he thinks that’s a worthwhile exercise because a friend of his says categorising people helps her to work with young martial artists.

    Just how martial arts and IT cross over is anyone’s guess, but let’s get into the categories anyway.

  • Haiku OS Picks Up Mesa 17, LLVM 4.0

    For fans of BeOS-inspired Haiku OS, the operating system now has Mesa 17.0 and LLVM 4.0 for the latest graphics driver and compiler support.

  • XRTL: A Google Developer Working On New Real-Time Rendering Library

    A new, unofficial project at Google is XRTL, creating a cross-platform real-time rendering library, with support for Vulkan and other graphics APIs.

  • How Google’s Borg Inspired the Modern Datacenter

    Kubernetes is distinguished from similar container orchestration systems, such as Apache Mesos and Google Swarm, by its Google heritage. Kubernetes was inspired by Borg, the very advanced internal datacenter management system used by Google for a decade. Nearly all of Google’s services run in containers, both internal and external services such as Gmail, Google search, Google Maps, MapReduce, Google File System, and Google Compute Engine. Think of Borg as the giant brain that manages Google’s datacenters as a single pool of resources to fuel Google’s giant fleet of services, and manages them so efficiently it saves Google the cost of an entire datacenter.

  • Battery Ventures Unveils New Index Tracking Popular Open-Source Software Projects

    The Battery Open-Source Software (BOSS) Index — believed to be the first of its kind in the open-source community — highlights the increasing reliance on freely available, open-source technology by big and small enterprises alike, and also the challenges in building commercially viable companies on top of these projects.

  • The Battery Open-Source Software Index, Acquia Cloud CD, and Skytap Container Management — SD Times news digest: April 10, 2017
  • Open Source Clues to Google’s Mysterious Fuchsia OS

    It’s not often that one of the world’s leading software companies decides to develop a major new operating system. Yet in February 2016, Google began publishing code for a mysterious new platform, known as Fuchsia.

    Google has officially said very little about Fuchsia, and the company did not respond to my request for comment. But since it’s being developed as an open source project, its source code is entirely in the open for anyone to view. Indeed, anyone can download Fuchsia right now and try to run it.

  • RoundCube Next Hasn’t Seen Any Commits So Far In 2017

    Last September we wrote about RoundCube-Next being woefully behind schedule even after they raised more than one hundred thousand dollars for this massive overhaul to the RoundCube webmail software. Sadly, not much has changed since and the project has yet to see any Git commits in 2017.

    A Phoronix reader — and backer to RoundCube’s IndieGoGo campaign that raised $103,541 of their $80k USD goal from 871 backers — pointed out that the project remains at a stand-still. The GitHub repositories haven’t seen any activity in months. The RoundCube Server hasn’t been touched since last November, the mail application and client side code since October, etc.

  • Mastodon—The free software, decentralized Twitter competitor

    My life is filled with conundrums.

    One of those conundrums is the fact that I spend a huge amount of my time promoting and advocating free and open-source software. Yet in order to reach a large audience with that advocacy, I end up needing to use social networks (such as Twitter and Google Plus) which are—not free software.

    If I’m going to be speaking at a conference about GNU, Linux and other free software-y topics, I announce it on Twitter. And, perhaps rightly so, my freedom-loving friends toss a little (usually good-natured) mockery my way for doing so.

  • Mastodon.social: Why does every new “Twitter” fail?
  • Will Mastodon succeed in killing Twitter?
  • Mastodon: Band or Social Network?
  • Mastodon: The New Twitter?
  • Mastodon Is What Disruption Looks Like Right Before It Happens
  • Target: Open Source Leads to ‘Tighter Control’

    America is seeing a retail meltdown, with even stalwart brands like Macy’s and Sears in bad shape. Target is looking to open source as a means of weathering the collapse.

    Amazon and other online shopping options are, of course, part of retail’s difficulties. But there’s more to it than that. While overall retail spending is growing steadily but slowly, retailers are hurt by the rise of e-commerce, oversupply of malls and a shift in discretionary spending away from buying and toward acquiring new experiences.

  • Golden Code Development Releases FWD as Open Source Software

    Golden Code Development Corporation today announced it has released its FWD technology as open source software. FWD is an alternative to Progress OpenEdge, featuring a range of unique enhancements that add new capabilities to ABL applications. Powerful code analytics, automated transformation tooling and a Java-based runtime enable organizations to modernize their applications and deploy them in the web in a fraction of the time of existing approaches.

  • Encouraging new community members

    My friend and colleague Stormy Peters just launched a challenge to the community – to blog on a specific community related topic before the end of the week. This week, the topic is “Encouraging new contributors”.

    I have written about the topic of encouraging new contributors in the past, as have many others. So this week, I am kind of cheating, and collecting some of the “Greatest Hits”, articles I have written, or which others have written, which struck a chord on this topic.

  • [Old] Why Systemd is so bad ?

    Ultimately, systemd’s spread is symbolic of something more than systemd itself. It shows a radical shift in thinking by the Linux community. Not necessarily a positive one, either.

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • More Screenshots of Firefox’s Photon Redesign Surface Online

        More screenshots of Firefox’s Photon redesign have surfaced online. The new screenshots continue to reveal more details about the upcoming redesign, including the purpose of the library button, the behaviour of side panels, and the new-look main menu.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

  • Funding

    • Mozilla Awards $365,000 to Open Source Projects as part of MOSS

      At Mozilla we were born out of, and remain a part of, the open source and free software movement. Through the Mozilla Open Source Support (MOSS) program, we recognize, celebrate, and support open source projects that contribute to our work and to the health of the Internet.

  • Public Services/Government

    • Developers Italia – an open source operating system ‘of’ the country

      A casual search for similar projects in the UK will turn up the British governments ‘progressive’ approach for adopting OpenOffice… not quite the open API ecosystem that they are envisaging in Italy. That being said, the work carried out at Gov.UK and technology at GDS is arguably just as progressive.

    • UNESCO add support to INRIA’s Software Heritage

      Unesco, the UN’s education, science and cultural organisation, is throwing its weight behind the Software Heritage project. Unesco will help the project become more widely-known, by (co)organising debates and conferences, and with other promotion activities.

      The Software Heritage project started in 2016 by Inria – France’s national computer science institute. The institute is a public organisation which promotes the collaboration of scientists on computing sciences and mathematics.

    • DG Digit: ‘Sharing and reuse a key instrument’

      Sharing and reuse of IT solutions is one of the key instruments to achieve the Digital Single Market, and for interoperable eGovernment services, said Gertrud Ingestad, Director-General of the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Informatics (DIGIT). “Sharing and reuse should become the default approach in the public sector,” she said in her opening address at the Sharing and Reuse Conference in Lisbon on 29 March.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

    • Open Hardware/Modding

      • Niryo One – Open Source, Six Axis Robotic Arm

        Marc Frouin and Eduardo Renard from Niryo want to make sure everyone can learn robotics and programming, and enjoy the benefits or robotics in their lives. Their robot Niryo One was built to push the idea that functional robots can be low-cost and user-friendly. Niryo One is currently running a successful Kickstarter campaign to fund their first run of production components.

  • Programming/Development

    • Kotlin Language Gets Experimental Native Compilation Support

      The Kotlin programming language continues to be developed by JetBrains and while it originated as a new language built atop the Java Virtual Machine (JVM), there is now experimental support for native compilation.

      With the tech preview offered last week, the Kotlin/Native initiative allows compiling Kotlin directly to machine code, thereby not relying upon any virtual machine. This Apache2-licensed compiler is based atop LLVM for code generation.

    • Review, not Rocket Science

      About a week ago there where 2 articles on LWN, the first coverging memory management patch review and the second covering the trouble with making review happen. The take away from these two articles seems to be that review is hard, there’s a constant lack of capable and willing reviewers, and this has been the state of review since forever. I’d like to counter pose this with our experiences in the graphics subsystem, where we’ve rolled out a well-working review process for the Intel driver, core subsystem and now the co-maintained small driver efforts with success, and not all that much pain.

    • Free at last! D language’s official compiler is open source

      The D language, long an underdog among programmers, got a significant boost this past week when its developers received permission to relicense its reference compiler as an open source project.

      DMD, the reference compiler for D, has been encumbered by legacy licensing, courtesy of Symantec. The license made it problematic to distribute the compiler in conjunction with other open source software — for instance, in a Linux distribution — and often sparked confusion about what it permitted.

    • 5 reasons Node.js rules for complex integrations

      Because software solutions rarely operate in a vacuum, integration is a necessary fact of life for many developers. Sometimes it’s easy. Anyone who has integrated an application into Slack, for example, will have been treated to an incredibly smooth experience. In many cases it’s as simple as filling in a form (a URL or two, an authentication key) and hitting the Submit button. That’s plain awesome.

    • Cloud: The Greatest Business Metamorphosis in a Generation Needs Developers

      We are at the beginning of what is arguably the greatest business metamorphosis in a generation. As more organizations become essentially software companies, they need developers to write the cloud apps that will enable them to thrive as they evolve.

      As a developer, you’re at the forefront of this transformation, determining how to integrate cloud-based applications and infrastructure into your business. You are changing the way companies interact and engage with your users, their community, and their customers. You are the fundamental shift in how organizations are building out a new way of business.

    • Mender

      The new production release of Mender 1.0, an open-source tool for updating embedded devices safely and reliably, is now available. Mender’s developers describe the tool as the “only open-source over-the-air (OTA) software updater for embedded Linux devices that integrates both an updater client and deployment management server”, both of which are licensed under Apache 2.0.

  • Standards/Consortia

    • POCL 0.14 OpenCL Implementation Released

      The Portable Computing Language (POCL) has issued a new release of their open-source CPU-based OpenCL implementation.

      This new version of POCL continues relying upon LLVM and with this release adds support for LLVM/Clang 4.0 and 3.9.


  • Diss United

    This poor guy did nothing wrong but book a flight on United. He shouldn’t have been assaulted and kidnapped because of that.

    I think everyone should check their itineraries to make sure United flies only their dead-heading employees until they go bankrupt.

  • Hardware

    • [Older] How the PC Industry Screws Things Up

      I was recently involved in investigating a problem that turns out to be a complete SNAFU which nicely illustrates the chaos that is the PC platform. It’s about the NX/XD bit. Let’s start with a bit of history.

  • Security

    • Security updates for Monday
    • The obvious answer is never the secure answer

      One of the few themes that comes up time and time again when we talk about security is how bad people tend to be at understanding what’s actually going on. This isn’t really anyone’s fault, we’re expecting people to go against what is essentially millions of years of evolution that created our behaviors. Most security problems revolve around the human being the weak link and doing something that is completely expected and completely wrong.

      This brings us to a news story I ran across that reminded me of how bad humans can be at dealing with actual risk. It seems that peanut free schools don’t work. I think most people would expect a school that bans peanuts to have fewer peanut related incidents than a school that doesn’t. This seems like a no brainer, but if there’s anything I’ve learned from doing security work for as long as I have, the obvious answer is always wrong.

    • BrickerBot malware zeroes in on Linux-based IoT devices

      In its 2017 malware forecast, SophosLabs warned that attackers would increasingly target devices connected to the Internet of Things (IoT) – everything from webcams to internet-connecting household appliances. Late last week, we saw another example of how the trend is playing out.

    • Brick House? New Malware Destroys Vulnerable IoT Devices
    • The New BrickerBot Internet of Things Malware
    • IoT malware starts showing destructive behavior
    • Georgia Tech finds subtle Linux vunerability

      Uninitialised variables are a critical attack vector that can be reliably exploited by hackers to launch privilege escalation attacks in the Linux kernel, according to research at the Georgia Institute of Technology.

    • The Root Cause of Input-Based Security Vulnerabilities – Don’t Fear the Grammar

      Input-based attacks like Buffer Overflows, Cross-Site Scripting (XSS), and XXE are common in today’s software. And they do not go away. But why is that? Shouldn’t one assume that existing frameworks handle input correctly, and free developers from struggling with correctly implementing input handling over and over again? Sadly, the answer is no.

    • Hackers Set Off Dallas’ 156 Warning Sirens Dozens Of Times

      So we’ve talked repeatedly how the shoddy security in most “internet of things” devices has resulted in increasingly-vulnerable home networks, as consumers rush to connect not-so-smart fridges, TVs and tea kettles to the home network. But this failure extends well beyond the home, since these devices have also resulted in historically-large DDoS attacks as this hardware is compromised and integrated into existing botnets (often in just a matter of minutes after being connected to the internet).

      Whether it’s the ease in which a decidedly-clumsy ransomware attacker was able to shut down San Francisco’s mass transit system, or the fact that many city-connected devices like speed cameras often feature paper mache security, you can start to see why some security experts are worried that there’s a dumpster fire brewing that will, sooner rather than later, result in core infrastructure being compromised and, potentially, mass fatalities. If you ask security experts like Bruce Schneier, this isn’t a matter of if — it’s a matter of when.

    • OLE 0day affects nearly all versions of Microsoft Word

      McAfee revealed some details of the attack just before the weekend

    • NATO warns of IPv6 security concerns that network intrusion detection systems may miss

      Namely, NIDS such as Bro, Moloch, Snort, and Suricata were found to be ineffective against the researchers’ proofs of concept.

    • Banks scramble to fix old systems as IT ‘cowboys’ ride into sunset

      The stakes are especially high for the financial industry, where an estimated $3 trillion in daily commerce flows through COBOL systems. The language underpins deposit accounts, check-clearing services, card networks, ATMs, mortgage servicing, loan ledgers and other services.

  • Defence/Aggression

    • [Old] John Tower’s FBI file reveals role in Iran-Contra cover-up

      While a recently released copy of John Tower’s FBI file dealt mostly with the background check performed by the FBI, it also includes several important revelations concerning the Senator. While most reviews of his nomination process and the scrutiny that he received focused on allegations of heavy drinking and womanizing …

    • The CIA’s emergency Cold War cash reserves

      In 1951, the federal government began paying increased attention to emergency planning, both for natural disasters, warfare or even invasion of the United States. This included a plan to provide for short-term emergency funds for critical agencies like the CIA. The proposal was initially tabled until the Agency Emergency Plan was ready.

    • Why ISIS Declared War on Egypt’s Christians

      Four months after an Islamic State suicide bomber killed 28 Christian worshipers in Cairo, the group struck Egypt’s Christians again—this time with a double church bombing on Palm Sunday that left at least 44 dead and scores injured. The attacks, only hours apart, targeted a church in the Delta city of Tanta as well as a church in Alexandria where Coptic Pope Tawadros II was leading a service. It was the single deadliest day of violence directed against the Middle East’s largest Christian community in decades.

      When the ISIS claim of responsibility came within hours of the attacks, it wasn’t a surprise. For months, the Islamic State has been accelerating the import of Iraq-style sectarian tactics to Egypt. In doing so, the group hopes to destabilize the Middle East’s most populous country and expand the reach of its by now clearly genocidal project for the region’s minorities.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

  • Finance

    • Microsoft’s Minecraft Set to Launch its Own Currency

      By adopting an in-app payment model, Microsoft is moving into a territory well-trodden by so-called freemium mobile apps.

    • Microsoft will open a Minecraft Marketplace and start printing Minecraft money

      To make all of this happen, we’re introducing Minecraft Coins, which players can buy using in-app purchases with real currency on their device

    • Will London Fall?

      London is ancient yet new. It is as much city-state as city, with a culture and economy that circulate the world. London manages to be Los Angeles, Washington and New York wrapped into one. Imagine if one American city were home to Hollywood, the White House, Madison Avenue, Wall Street and Broadway. London is sort of that.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • A New McCarthyism: Julian Assange Accuses Democrats of Blaming Russia & WikiLeaks for Clinton Loss

      As President Trump’s presidency nears its first 100 days, Trump and his campaign are facing multiple investigations over whether the campaign colluded with Russian officials to influence the 2016 presidential election. In a Democracy Now! exclusive, we speak with a man who has been at the center of much discussion of Russian election meddling: Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks.

      Just before the Democratic National Convention last July, WikiLeaks published 20,000 internal emails from the Democratic National Committee. Then, between October 7 and Election Day, WikiLeaks would go on to publish 20,000 of Clinton campaign chair John Podesta’s emails, generating a rash of negative stories about the Clinton campaign. Intelligence agencies have pinned the email hacking on Russians. WikiLeaks maintains Russia was not the source of the documents.

    • Macron takes aim at ‘extreme right’ Le Pen

      French presidential candidate Emmanuel Macron on Monday described rival Marine Le Pen as “the true face of the extreme right” for playing down France’s role in rounding up Jews for deportation during World War II, Le Figaro reported.

      In response to Le Pen’s comments on Sunday, when she said France was “not responsible” for rounding up 13,000 Jews at a Paris stadium, Macron said: “Marine Le Pen is truly the daughter of Jean-Marie Le Pen,” the former leader of the National Front who used anti-Semitic rhetoric.

      He added: “It’s this face [of the extreme right] that I am fighting.”

    • What did Putin know and when did he know it?

      As U.S. Tomahawk missiles soared over the Mediterranean toward Syria’s al-Shayrat airbase, speculation was already flying about how the attack would affect the thaw in U.S.-Russia relations anticipated since Donald Trump took office. Was this a first sign that America’s new president was willing to stand up to Putin?

      Arguably the more critical factor in the equation is Russia. To understand the Kremlin’s response to the U.S. strike, and to the preceding chemical attack in Syria, it’s important to face some brutal truth about Russia in Syria.

      The U.S. warned Russian forces about the coming strike because we knew they were there. We knew Russians were at Shayrat airbase since at least November 2015. This is why Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev warned that this strike was “on the brink of combat clashes with Russia”: We were bombing a base from which he knew Russian forces guided operations.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Canada’s National Police Force Officially Confirms Ownership, Use Of Stingray Devices

      Just days after Montreal prosecutors cut loose 35 suspected Mafia members rather than disclose the details of Stingray device use by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), the RCMP is admitting that, yes, it does use Stingrays.

      It’s not like it’s not known the RCMP owns Stingrays. It has for nearly a decade now. It’s just that it would rather not discuss it in court… or in public… or in public records responses.

      The official revelation occurred in Ontario, and it didn’t come as the result of a multitude of alleged criminals being released back into the general population. Instead, the (unwelcome) discussion of the RCMP’s cell tower spoofers was prompted by a CBC investigation into “suspicious signals” and apparent cell phone tracking around the nation’s capital.

    • Internet Society tells G20 nations: The web must be fully encrypted

      The Internet Society has called for the full encryption of the internet, decrying the fact that securing the digital world has increasingly become associated with restricting access to law enforcement.

      In a blog post aimed at the leaders of the G20 economies, ISOC CEO Kathryn Brown argues that the digital economy “will only continue to thrive and generate opportunities for citizens if the Internet is strong, secure, and trusted,” adding: “Without this foundation, the global digital economy is at risk.”

    • We Need More Alternatives to Facebook

      About 10 years after TVs began to be ubiquitous in American homes, television broadcasting was a staggering financial success. As the head of the Federal Communications Commission observed in a 1961 speech to broadcast executives, the industry’s revenue, more than $1 billion a year, was rising 9 percent annually, even in a recession. The problem, the FCC chairman told the group, was the way the business was making money: not by serving the public interest above all but by airing a lot of dumb shows and “cajoling and offending” commercials. “When television is bad, nothing is worse,” he said.

      That speech would become known for the pejorative that the FCC chairman, Newton Minow, used to describe TV: he called it “a vast wasteland.” It’s a great line, but there are other reasons to revisit the speech now, about 10 years after the emergence of another communications service—Facebook—that has become ubiquitous in American homes, a staggering financial success, and a transmitter of a lot of pernicious schlock. What’s striking today is why Minow said the vast-wasteland problem mattered—and what he wanted to do about it.

    • Newly declassified CIA materials reveal: Americans hardly knew any Israeli secrets

      Some 1 million papers show what the U.S. knew, or didn’t know, about Israeli leaders’ health, IDF maneuvers and Moshe Dayan’s celebrity status

    • Longhorn: Tools used by cyberespionage group linked to Vault 7

      Spying tools and operational protocols detailed in the recent Vault 7 leak have been used in cyberattacks against at least 40 targets in 16 different countries by a group Symantec calls Longhorn. Symantec has been protecting its customers from Longhorn’s tools for the past three years and has continued to track the group in order to learn more about its tools, tactics, and procedures.

      The tools used by Longhorn closely follow development timelines and technical specifications laid out in documents disclosed by WikiLeaks. The Longhorn group shares some of the same cryptographic protocols specified in the Vault 7 documents, in addition to following leaked guidelines on tactics to avoid detection. Given the close similarities between the tools and techniques, there can be little doubt that Longhorn’s activities and the Vault 7 documents are the work of the same group.

    • Found in the wild: Vault7 hacking tools WikiLeaks says come from CIA

      Longhorn, as Symantec dubs the group, has infected governments and companies in the financial, telecommunications, energy, and aerospace industries since at least 2011 and possibly as early as 2007. The group has compromised 40 targets in at least 16 countries across the Middle East, Europe, Asia, Africa, and on one occasion, in the US, although that was probably a mistake.

    • NSA hacked Pakistani mobile system: Wikileaks
    • US spy agency hacked Pakistani cellular networks, shows leaked data
    • US National Security Agency hacked into Pak mobile networking system, claims Wikileaks
    • This Passover, I’m setting myself free from technology
    • British visitors to US may be asked for passwords and phone contacts at airports

      British visitors to the US may be asked for social media usernames and passwords and their phone’s address book under new border checks being considered at US airports.

    • UK tourists to US may get asked to hand in passwords or be denied entry

      British travellers to the United States face the uncomfortable choice of handing over personal information, including social media passwords and mobile phone contacts, or running the risk of being denied entry to the country, under a new “extreme vetting” policy being considered by the Trump administration.

    • Facebook friend requests from dead people hint at horrifying truth of ‘profile cloning’

      Such scams work either by cloning an account — stealing the information from someone’s profile and then using it all to set up a new account that is actually controlled by someone else — or by hacking into and taking control of an old one.

      Both techniques give scammers the ability to send messages, posing as someone’s friend. Once that happens, a range of different hoaxes, cons and scams are possible.

    • Facebook stores vast amounts of information about its users — and it can all be downloaded [iophk: "this data is also available for rent"]

      The site’s data tools allow anyone to head into the site and see everything it has collected — including locations, activity, personal data and everything you’ve ever said to anyone else.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • FCC Boss Wants ‘Voluntary’ ISP Net Neutrality Promises Instead Of Real Rules

      Surprising nobody, FCC boss Ajit Pai has been privately meeting with large broadband providers, informing them he’ll be taking an axe to net neutrality protections soon. What exactly this will look like isn’t yet clear, especially given the massive support for the rules, and the fact that Pai can’t just roll back net neutrality (and the FCC’s Title II reclassification) without justifying it to the courts.

    • Americans support letting cities build their own broadband networks, Pew finds

      [...] despite the support, in much of the US, building out municipal networks just isn’t possible. More than 20 states have passed laws banning local governments from starting their own broadband service, largely at the behest of internet providers that want to avoid competition at all cost.

  • DRM

    • Farmers Look For Ways To Circumvent Tractor Software Locks [iophk: "tbl wants to bring this kind of problem to the web"]

      Modern tractors, essentially, have two keys to make the engine work. One key starts the engine. But because today’s tractors are high-tech machines that can steer themselves by GPS, you also need a software key — to fix the programs that make a tractor run properly. And farmers don’t get that key.

    • Portugal Passes Bill to Restrict Use of DRM, Grant Circumvention Right

      Portugal’s parliament has approved a bill that will restrict how Digital Rights Management is applied to some creative works, including those in the public domain or funded by public entities. Even when DRM is present, citizens will be able to circumvent the protection for education and private copying purposes.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Copyrights

      • Feminists and Pirates make breakthrough to Helsinki municipal council

        Sunday’s local government saw the installation of completely new faces to the Helsinki city council, as electors elevated candidates from the Feminist and Pirate parties to office. The Centre’s evergreen ex-MP and minister Paavo Väyrynen also returned to municipal politics running on a Christian Democratic ticket.

      • Finland’s Pirate Party wins first council seats

        The Pirate Party won its first two seats in the municipal elections held on Sunday, after coming up empty-handed in the first three elections organised after its foundation in 2008.

        Arto Lampila won a seat on the Jyväskylä City Council with a tally of 147 votes and Petrus Pennanen a seat on the Helsinki City Council with a tally of 1,048 votes. Both Lampila and Pennanen are deputy chairpersons of the Pirate Party of Finland.

      • Copyright expansion plans would kill EU startups

        The law introduces new hurdles that only big internet companies can handle, making it much harder for new startups to raise funding and grow, experts and stakeholders warn

      • Kim Dotcom Takes Fight Over Seized Millions to US Supreme Court

        If left undisturbed, the Fourth Circuit’s decision enables the Government to obtain civil forfeiture of every penny of a foreign citizen’s foreign assets based on unproven allegations of the most novel, dubious United States crimes

      • Kim Dotcom Asks US Supreme Court Not To Allow US Government To Steal All His Stuff Without Due Process

        Over the past few years we’ve covered what may seem like a side issue in the many legal issues facing Kim Dotcom, but it’s an important one: is the US able to legally take all of his money and stuff, despite (1) him not being found guilty of anything and (2) that stuff not being anywhere near the US? As we’ve said, even if you think Dotcom is guilty of horrible crimes and should rot in jail, how the US is going about taking his assets should concern you massively. The fact that courts have blessed the DOJ’s actions doesn’t make it any less concerning.

        On Friday, Dotcom (along with some powerhouse legal help) asked the Supreme Court to review this issue. The real issue here is one that we’ve covered a lot in other contexts: civil asset forfeiture, in which the US seizes and sues stuff rather than people. That’s why this lawsuit is not actually against Kim Dotcom (there are other such lawsuits), but rather the United States v. All Assets Listed in Attachment A (no, really, that’s the case). Of course, “Attachment A” is all of Dotcom’s assets, mostly in Hong Kong. But the situation with Dotcom takes the normal questions about asset forfeiture and adds layer upon layer of complexity.


Links 10/4/2017: Linux 4.11 RC6, LabPlot 2.4, Shuttleworth Rants

Posted in News Roundup at 5:19 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish



  • Desktop

    • Discovering my inner curmudgeon: A Linux laptop review

      Quick refresher: I’m a life-long Mac user, but I was disappointed by Apple’s latest MacBook Pro release. I researched a set of alternative computers to consider. And, as a surprise even to myself, I decided to leave the Mac platform.

      I chose the HP Spectre x360 13″ laptop that was released after CES 2017, the new version with a 4K display. I bought the machine from BestBuy (not an affiliate link) because that was the only retailer selling this configuration. My goal was to run Ubuntu Linux instead of Windows.

      Here are my impressions from using this computer over the past month, followed by some realizations about myself.

    • The Linux Migration: Corporate Collaboration, Part 3

      In discussing support for corporate communication and collaboration systems as part of my Linux migration, I’ve so far covered e-mail in part 1 and calendaring in part 2. In this post, I’m going to discuss the last few remaining aspects of corporate collaboration: instant messaging/chat, meetings and teleconferences, and document sharing.


      This wraps-up the series on corporate collaboration and communication using Linux. As you can see from reading the posts, some areas are far easier to solve than others, and a lot depends on the corporate solution being used on the backend. I suspect that a great majority of organizations out there are heavily reliant on Microsoft technologies (Exchange, Office, etc.), so using Linux in such environments might be a bit challenging depending on your job role. If your employer has gone “all in” on Office 365 and related services/offerings and you need to often host meetings and calls, then using Linux as your primary desktop OS is probably going to mean keeping a Windows VM running as well. If your employer is also leveraging some other technologies or meetings/calendaring isn’t quite as important, then you may be in better shape to adopt Linux as your primary desktop OS. As always, readers should evaluate their situation based on their specific needs and make the decision that is right for them, whether that means Windows, OS X, or Linux.

    • System76 Galago Pro: Specs, Price And Release Date

      System76, a US-based computer vendor, is known for its exclusive Ubuntu based laptops and desktops. In addition to that, System76 also deals in Linux servers.

      Galago Pro is the latest offering from System76 and this ultrabook has everything (at least on paper) to make it the best Ubuntu laptop you can buy.

    • Valuing Tech Diversity at My Public Library

      Like everyone, I have my preferences about the hardware and software I like. I think it is natural to want others to share your tastes. My Somali-American programmer friend has taught me to be more open-minded. Here is how that happened.


      At my public library job, I love it when my Somali-American friend visits. He’s a highly skilled computer programmer, and we share many interests. The neat thing about our friendship is that it bridges very different cultures. He’s a Windows guy, and I’m a Linux person. He was raised Windows, and I was raised open-source. Yet we value our friendship and love talking about our areas of common interest.


      I have some open-source friends who won’t have anything to do with Windows. That can be a reasonable preference, I suppose. My preference is to follow the open-source path and support Windows and Mac in my community the best I can. And now that my friend’s children have chosen to follow the Linux path, I feel I need to do even more in my community to support the Windows and Mac paths. I will not allow my very kind-hearted and smart friend to meet me halfway — without my walking the other half of the way to shake his hand. Right now, he has met me more than halfway. I need to figure out how I can meet him more than halfway too.

  • Audiocasts/Shows

  • Kernel Space

    • Linux 4.11-rc6

      Things are looking fairly normal, so here’s the regular weekly rc.

      It’s a bit bigger than rc5, but not alarmingly so, and nothing looks
      particularly worrisome. Knock wood. The only slightly unusual thing is
      how the patches are spread out, with almost equal parts of arch
      updates, drivers, filesystems, networking and “misc”.

      But the late rc’s are small enough that you see more fluctuation in
      those kinds of statistics than you see over the bigger release, so
      “not the usual distribution” is more about the normal noise of
      development all over.

    • Linus Torvalds Announces a Slightly Bigger Sixth RC of Linux Kernel 4.11
    • Linux 4.11-rc6 Released
    • Linux 4.10.9

      I’m announcing the release of the 4.10.9 kernel.

      All users of the 4.10 kernel series must upgrade.

      The updated 4.10.y git tree can be found at:
      git://git.kernel.org/pub/scm/linux/kernel/git/stable/linux-stable.git linux-4.10.y
      and can be browsed at the normal kernel.org git web browser:


    • Linux 4.9.2
    • Linux 4.4.60
    • Linux Kernels 4.10.9, 4.9.21 LTS and 4.4.60 LTS Bring Many XFS Improvements

      Renowned Linux kernel developer Greg Kroah-Hartman had the pleasure of announcing the release of three new maintenance updates for the long-term supported Linux 4.9 and 4.4 kernels series, as well as Linux kernel 4.10.

      The Linux 4.10.9, 4.9.21 LTS and 4.4.60 LTS kernels are now the latest versions of the kernel branches mentioned above, and they come exactly one week after the release of their previous maintenance updates, namely Linux kernels 4.10.8, 4.9.20 LTS and 4.4.59 LTS. The difference is that these are bigger patches, changing 91 files, with 1229 insertions and 1067 deletions for Linux kernel 4.10.9, and 87 files, with 1332 insertions and 1109 deletions for Linux kernel 4.9.21 LTS.

    • Kernel lockdown

      These patches provide a facility by which a variety of avenues by which userspace can feasibly modify the running kernel image can be locked down.

    • Graphics Stack

      • AMDGPU-PRO 17.10 Proprietary Graphics Driver Adds Support for Ubuntu 16.04.2 LTS

        AMD quietly released a few days ago a new stable version of its proprietary graphics driver for Linux-based operating systems, supporting various AMD Radeon graphics.

        AMDGPU-PRO 17.10 is here a little over two months after the AMDGPU-PRO 16.60 release, which added support for AMD Radeon HD 7xxx/8xxx graphics cards. This version, however, appears to add support for Canonical’s latest Ubuntu 16.04.2 LTS (Xenial Xerus) operating system, but only for the 64-bit version of it.

      • Intel Has A Last Feature Pile Of Work For Linux 4.12 DRM

        On Friday, Intel’s Daniel Vetter submitted a final pile of feature material for DRM-Next that will target the Linux 4.12 kernel, with the deadline for 4.12 DRM-Next being this weekend.

        Already this cycle for DRM-Next we have seen from Intel atomic mode-setting by default, GPU reset improvements, power management improvements, continued work on Geminilake enablement, better context switching, refactoring of GuC and HuC firmware code, vGPU enhancements, and other changes.

      • Nouveau Gets Patches For OpenGL AZDO ARB_shader_ballot
  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • Releases, releases, releases! Part 2

      Xfce – like many other open source projects – is not exactly following a test-driven development workflow. I would argue that we need a slight mindset change here plus we need some (standardized) infrastructure to make testing easier for people who want to get involved.

    • It’s Now Easier Testing Out Xfce Git Code With Docker

      Xfce-test is a Xubuntu 17.04 based container image designed for Docker that makes it very easy to deploy some of the latest Xfce Git components.

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK

      • New GNOME ISO to launch with the next snapshot

        All the interesting details are in the softpedia post, but I want to clarify things for people who might misinterpret this: It does not take any of my time away. Joshua Strobl is the maintainer for the GNOME ISO.

        Remember, Budgie 10 is tightly based on GNOME, we already have, use, and rely on this GNOME stack. The core difference is that instead of having “lightdm”, “budgie-desktop”, and “budgie-desktop-branding” in the ISO definition file, we now have “gdm”, “gnome-shell”, “gnome-desktop-branding”.

      • GNOME’s Mutter Begins Landing Monitor/Display Rework

        Jonas Ådahl’s latest GNOME work to benefit the GNOME Wayland support and other areas is a rework of Mutter so it now handles all low-level monitor configuration.

      • GNOME Twitch – Watch Twitch Streams on Linux Desktop

        Gnome Twitch is an app that enables users to enjoy their favorite streams without the stress of using flash or a web browser on their GNU/Linux desktop.

        You can use the app to search for and watch streaming channels either by their name or by their game. You can also manage your favorite selections in order to enable be able to quickly find them when next you might need them.

      • Insights into the GNOME 3.24 Release Video

        We managed to release the video a day after the release of GNOME 3.24. The slight delay was partly because timing the music proved quite difficult due to the editing freeze, but me and Simon now have some experience dealing with this, so we will come up with a better approach for the next video.

  • Distributions

  • Devices/Embedded

Free Software/Open Source

  • Open sourcing Wire server code

    The source code of the server components is licensed under AGPL and can be used according to those terms unless otherwise specified for third-party components.

  • The state of open source in Asia [Ed: By Keith Bergelt of OIN (in a patent trolls' Web site]

    While Japanese companies have doubled down on open source software collaboration, including in new areas such as auto, Chinese firms have been slower to embrace it, which risks isolating projects from a key emerging technology centre

  • Take the #HappinessPacketChallenge!

    One of the most important lessons I was taught growing up is to say “thank you” when someone does something nice for you. Many months ago, someone first introduced me to something called Happiness Packets. The idea is simple but powerfully effective. Happiness Packets are like thank-you cards for open source users or contributors. You can send a packet to anyone for anything. Your message can be as short or as long as you like. You can put your name on your message or you can keep it totally anonymous. The choice is yours. And now, I want to challenge you to the #HappinessPacketChallenge!

  • Meson project status update

    The last few weeks have been an amazing ride for the Meson project. We
    have gone from “interesting but niche” to being seriously considered
    for such core infrastructure projects as Mesa, Wayland, Xorg and even
    systemd. I would like to thank everyone who has contributed in making
    this possible. Thanks to all contributors, evangelists, those who have
    converted their projects, or even proposed it. We would not be here
    without you.

    However having this much growth brings with it new problems. The main
    one of these, as most of you have probably noticed, is the growth in
    pull request backlog. I know there are MRs that have been waiting for
    quite a while and that this is very frustrating to those people who
    have filed them. My apologies to you, we are trying to make this

  • How the open source model will soar above the rest

    Defining a project is more than just discussing the results of the deliverable. For a project manager, this definition is about learning how to balance a series of interrelated elements. When it comes to the process of creation, the project manager has to manage the dependencies and the project’s critical chain. The project manager also has to communicate effectively with the various stakeholders’ personalities and the dynamic differences between Waterfall and Agile development methods.

  • Events

    • The Perl Conference in Amsterdam

      9 .. 11 August, 2017

      These meetings were formerly known as YAPC::EU, the yearly meeting of Perl Mongers in Europe.

    • Talk proposals Akademy 2017

      Sprintime is here. So start planning for all the summer conferences. The KDE yearly summer conference, Akademy, takes place in the south of Spain from July 22nd to July 27th.

      Akademy is a great opportunity for all community members to tell their fellow KDE-ers about the things they have been working on. It provides a friendly environment where people contribute to the wonderful projects of KDE.

  • SaaS/Back End

  • Databases

    • New Features Coming in PostgreSQL 10

      The list of new features coming in PostgreSQL 10 is extremely impressive. I’ve been involved in the PostgreSQL project since the 8.4 release cycle (2008-2009), and I’ve never seen anything like this. Many people have already blogged about these features elsewhere; my purpose here is just to bring together a list of the features that, in my opinion, are the biggest new things that we can expect to see in PostgreSQL 10. [Disclaimers: (1) Other people may have different opinions. (2) It is not impossible that some patches could be reverted prior to release. (3) The list below represents the work of the entire PostgreSQL community, not specifically me or EnterpriseDB, and I have no intention of taking credit for anyone else's work.]

    • PostgreSQL 10 Is Going To Be Very Feature Rich

      PostgreSQL developer Robert Haas has shared a look at the features coming up to PostgreSQL 10 and it’s quite impressive for those using this database system.

  • BSD


  • Project Releases

    • libnice 0.1.14

      Today, Olivier Crête, libnice maintainer and Collabora Multimedia Lead, announced the availability of libnice 0.1.14, the latest release of the NAT traversal library implementing the RFC for Interactive Connectivity Establishment (ICE). ICE is a key part of the WebRTC standard and libnice is used by many WebRTC implementations such as OpenWebRTC, Kurento and Janus.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

  • Programming/Development

    • Pijul First Thoughts

      Given my interest in version control, a post on Pijul was pretty much inevitable. The thing I most wanted to understand was of course its conflict resolution algorithm. Unfortunately I don’t know enough category theory for that, which is a novel problem to have at least. There also don’t seem to exist explanations of how this algorithm works that don’t rely on category theory, which is unfortunate. The documentation that exists for this tool is generally sparse, which is fine; it’s new software, after all, and these are alpha releases.

      Fortunately, according to their blog, there’s been a useful version released recently. So what follows are my thoughts on playing with that version (0.4.1).

      First important thing is that the Pijul repository is itself kept in pijul. There’s a GitHub repository that has all the trappings of being an official mirror, but it looks to have stopped working when they switched the pijul repository off of darcs. To resolve the bootstrapping problem, I installed it with cargo instead, which took a short seven minutes to download and compile everything and dependencies. (Peeking behind my curtain slightly, I tried to write this post both Friday and yesterday, but was unable to do so because their hosting (Nest) was down.)

    • Secured OTP Server (ASIS CTF 2017)
    • FMTEYEWTK about Compilation vs Interpretation in Perl
    • #4: Simpler shoulders()
    • Top 5 programming languages for DevOps

      I’ve been focused on infrastructure for the majority of my career, and the specific technical skills required have shifted over time. In this article, I’ll lay out five of the top programming languages for DevOps, and the resources that have been most helpful for me as I’ve been adding those development skills to my infrastructure toolset.

      Knowing how to rack and stack servers isn’t an in-demand skill at this stage. Most businesses aren’t building physical datacenters. Rather, we’re designing and building service capabilities that are hosted in public cloud environments. The infrastructure is configured, deployed, and managed through code. This is the heart of the DevOps movement—when an organization can define their infrastructure in lines of code, automating most (if not all) tasks in the datacenter becomes possible.


  • Security

    • Apache Struts 2 exploit used to install ransomware on servers [Ed: read carefully. It's a Microsoft Windows issue.]

      Attackers are exploiting a vulnerability patched last month in the Apache Struts web development framework to install ransomware on servers.

      The SANS Internet Storm Center issued an alert Thursday, saying an attack campaign is compromising Windows servers through a vulnerability tracked as CVE-2017-5638.

    • A quick look at the Ikea Trådfri lighting platform

      Overall: as far as design goes, this is one of the most secure IoT-style devices I’ve looked at. I haven’t examined the COAP stack in detail to figure out whether it has any exploitable bugs, but the attack surface is pretty much as minimal as it could be while still retaining any functionality at all. I’m impressed.

    • Over The Air: Exploiting Broadcom’s Wi-Fi Stack (Part 1)
    • [Older] Dual-Use Software Criminal Case Not So Novel

      All of this may be moot if the government can’t win its case against Huddleston. The EFF’s Rumold said while prosecutors may have leverage in Shames’s conviction, the government probably doesn’t want to take the case to trial.

    • HOWTO: Fight Cyberwars and Lose

      Russia sought to advance their national interests by engaging in a conflict that was waged purely in the informatics sphere — the theatre of combat operations was entirely cyber. They won. The results of the conflict was a clear and decisive Russian success in multiple ways [...]

    • New IoT/Linux Malware Targets DVRs, Forms Botnet

      The Amnesia botnet targets an unpatched remote code execution vulnerability that was publicly disclosed over a year ago in March 2016 in DVR (digital video recorder) devices made by TVT Digital and branded by over 70 vendors worldwide (a listing of which can be found on the original vulnerability report we’ve linked to).

    • Booby-trapped Word documents in the wild exploit critical Microsoft 0day

      First, it bypasses most exploit mitigations: This capability allows it to work even against Windows 10, which security experts widely agree is Microsoft’s most secure operating system to date. Second, unlike the vast majority of the Word exploits seen in the wild over the past few years, this new attack doesn’t require targets to enable macros. Last, before terminating, the exploit opens a decoy Word document in an attempt to hide any sign of the attack that just happened.

    • Hacking blamed for emergency sirens blaring across Dallas early Saturday

      We need to get to the bottom of it — what kind of vulnerabilities do we have?

    • Samsung’s squashing of malicious Tizen smart TV bugs is turning messy

      After 40 critical vulnerabilities on Samsung’s Tizen — used in smart TVs and smartwatches — were exposed this week by Israeli researcher Amihai Neiderman, the company is scrambling to patch them.

      But Samsung still doesn’t know many of the bugs that need to be patched. It’s also unclear when Tizen devices will get security patches, or if older Tizen devices will even get OS updates to squash the bugs.

    • Xen Patches Hypervisor Breakout Risk Without Breaking the Cloud

      The open-source Xen virtualization project patches a security vulnerability that could have enabled an attacker to breakout from hypervisor isolation. But unlike a Xen flaw in 2014, this time public cloud providers do not have to reboot all their servers.

    • That time I had to crack my own Reddit password
  • Defence/Aggression

    • Spotify executive among those killed in Stockholm truck attack
    • U.S. Strikes in Syria Are an Illegal Response to Atrocity

      In the face of constitutional law barring hostile use of force without congressional authorization, and international law forbidding unilateral use of force except in self-defense, President Trump has unilaterally launched strikes against a country that has not attacked us, and without any authorization from Congress. Doing so violates some of the most important legal constraints on the use of force.

    • The White Helmets: “Heroes” of Syria?

      Much of the information provided by the documentary is inaccurate. For instance, the White Helmets is not an independent Syrian organization as much of the corporate media have claimed. The organization was created by James LeMesurier, currently a British military contractor and former Blackwater employee, and is funded by the US and the UK. These funds are used in part to pay the members of the White Helmets, who are often misleadingly referred to as “volunteers.” The documentary also claims that the White Helmets are a neutral and independent organization with the sole aim of humanitarian aid. However, it has been found that the White Helmets tend to only stage their relief operations after armed militants are attacked. Not only are the White Helmets funded by foreign governments, but their actions are affected by other questionable influences—like Al Qaeda. Still, the corporate media continuously refer to the group as an autonomous, humanitarian organization.

    • Five Top Papers Run 18 Opinion Pieces Praising Syria Strikes–Zero Are Critical

      Five major US newspapers—the New York Times, Washington Post, USA Today, Wall Street Journal and New York Daily News—offered no opinion space to anyone opposed to Donald Trump’s Thursday night airstrikes.

    • The Essential Pundit Take: ‘Trump Became President’ by Bombing Syria

      “I think Donald Trump became president of the United States” last night, CNN host Fareed Zakaria said when asked about the significance of Trump’s airstrikes on Syria (New Day, 4/7/17). “I think this was actually a big moment.”

    • Arkansas Plans to Execute Seven People This Month, Continuing Long Tradition of Assembly-Line Killing

      On April 17, the state of Arkansas plans to kill Don Davis and Bruce Earl Ward, two men who have been on death row since the early 1990s. Neither has applied for clemency. Both will die on the same gurney, back to back, if all goes according to plan. Executioners will start by injecting them with a sedative called midazolam, never before used by the state, but which is supposed to render them unconscious for the two lethal drugs to follow. No one, apart from a handful of officials, knows where the drugs will come from, or who exactly will do the injecting. Those are secrets under the law. Most importantly, no one knows how well the midazolam will work, if it works at all. After nearly 12 years without a single execution, Arkansas is embarking on a kind of human experiment.

    • The Return of the Dangerous ‘Obama Did Nothing’ Narrative on Syria

      One of great ironies of our oversaturated media environment is that, often, the biggest falsehoods and most transparent acts of political theater enjoy the most widespread acceptance and demonstrate the most stubborn popularity. No matter how improbable, or how much obvious evidence exists to the contrary, once a media narrative becomes embedded into elite conventional wisdom, it can be nearly impossible to dislodge.

    • 4/6/17 Philip Giraldi says IC-Military Doubt Assad Gas Narrative

      Philip Giraldi, former CIA officer and Director of the Council for the National Interest, says that “military and intelligence personnel,” “intimately familiar” with the intelligence, say that the narrative that Assad or Russia did it is a “sham,” instead endorsing the Russian narrative that Assad’s forces had bombed a storage facility. Giraldi’s intelligence sources are “astonished” about the government and media narrative and are considering going public out of concern over the danger of worse war there. Giraldi also observes that the Assad regime had no motive to do such a thing at this time.

    • Reuters: Russia and Iran Say They Will ‘Respond With Force’ If US Strikes Syria Again

      A joint command center used by Russia, Iran and allied forces has issued a statement saying that red lines have been crossed in Syria and that there will be retaliation if they are crossed again. While multiple sources report this, we think it’s unlikely the Russians formally signed off on this statement.

    • The Spoils of War: Trump Lavished With Media and Bipartisan Praise For Bombing Syria

      In every type of government, nothing unites people behind the leader more quickly, reflexively or reliably than war. Donald Trump now sees how true that is, as the same establishment leaders in U.S. politics and media who have spent months denouncing him as a mentally unstable and inept authoritarian and unprecedented threat to democracy are standing and applauding him as he launches bombs at Syrian government targets.

      Trump, on Thursday night, ordered an attack that the Pentagon said included the launching of 59 Tomahawk missiles which “targeted aircraft, hardened aircraft shelters, petroleum and logistical storage, ammunition supply bunkers, air defense systems, and radars.” The governor of Homs, the Syrian province where the attack occurred, said early this morning that the bombs killed seven civilians and wounded nine.

    • ‘There Are No Signs That Iraq Can Be Bombed Into Stability’

      Well, other news reports bow their heads longer before the “human toll,” as it’s often called. But that isn’t the same as deep consideration of the war on ISIS—launched as “targeted,” “limited” airstrikes, and since expanded to include four countries, more than 50,000 bombs and, of course, over $11 billion handed out to defense contractors. But the worry, expressed in a recent New York Times editorial, was that Congress hadn’t officially authorized it: “duck[ing] their constitutional responsibility for making war by not passing legislation authorizing the anti-ISIS fight,” was how the paper had it.

      We are joined now for an alternative view by Raed Jarrar, government relations manager at the American Friends Service Committee. He joins us by phone from Washington, DC. Welcome back to CounterSpin, Raed Jarrar.

    • Legal Experts Question Whether Trump’s Syria Strike Was Constitutional

      It has become normal over the past 15 years for the morning news to report that the president has bombed an obscure terror group in a far-flung region of the world. These attacks take place without any public debate or a vote in Congress — despite the fact that the Constitution gives Congress alone the power “to declare war.”

      President Bush and President Obama argued, with little pushback, that they could target a wide array of terror groups, thanks to the resolution Congress passed in the wake of 9/11 that allows the president to use “necessary and appropriate force” against those who “planned, authorized, committed, or aided” the al Qaeda terror attacks.

    • The Balance of Probabilities

      Unlike the famous chemical weapons “attack” portrayed by the BBC in Saving Syria’s Children, it does appear that in the latest incident at Idlib there was real horror inflicted by chemical attack of some kind. The question is who did it and why?

      I am no fan of the Assad regime, and I have no problem using the word “regime” to describe it. Dictators do hold and win elections. I have lived in severe dictatorships and seen from the inside how they do it. The human rights abuses of the Assad regime have been well documented for decades.

      But Bashar al Assad is neither stupid nor unsophisticated. Aided by Putin, he outwitted Obama by quickly giving up his chemical weapons to be destroyed and accepting transparency in verification. There is no justification for the destruction of Iraq, but if Saddam Hussein had been able to swallow pride as completely as Assad, he too could have had a very good chance of averting disaster.

    • Airstrikes Without Justice

      Without any recourse to international law or the United Nations, the Trump administration has embarked on an act of international aggression against yet another sovereign state in the Middle East, confirming that neocons have reasserted their dominance over US foreign policy in Washington. It is an act of aggression that ends any prospect of détente between Washington and Moscow in the foreseeable future, considerably increasing tensions between Russia and the US not only in the Middle East but also in Eastern Europe, where NATO troops have been conducting military exercises for some time in striking distance of Russian territory.

    • Is US Policy to Prolong the Syrian War?

      Many are claiming that Trump is being inconsistent in illegally attacking the Syrian regime with cruise missiles.

      After all, he had been saying the U.S. should focus on defeating ISIS, and now he seems to be going after Assad. But contradictions from Trump are a dime a dozen.

      A closer examination shows a deeper pattern of remarkable consistency in U.S. policy toward Syria that is far more critical than the perennial contradictions of politicians like Trump.

    • Where Was CIA’s Pompeo on Syria?

      As President Trump was launching his missile strike against Syria, CIA Director Pompeo and other intelligence officials weren’t at the table, suggesting their doubts about Bashar al-Assad’s guilt, reports Robert Parry.

    • Luring Trump into Mideast Wars

      After launching a missile strike on Syria, President Trump is basking in praise from his former critics – neocons, Democrats and mainstream media – who want to lure him into more Mideast wars, reports Daniel Lazare.

      Donald Trump entered military terra incognita on Thursday by launching an illegal Tomahawk missile strike on an air base in eastern Syria. Beyond the clear violation of international law, the practical results are likely to be disastrous, drawing the U.S. deeper into the Syrian quagmire.

    • Trump’s 59-Tomahawk ‘Tweet’

      Before President Trump’s “retaliatory” strike against Syria on Thursday, I had written: “This, fundamentally is the question posed by the alleged chemical attack in Syria this week: Do Western Intelligence Services still retain an ability to speak-out to ‘power,’ warning against going with the easy, immediate, ‘go-along’ MSM (mainstream media) 24/7 news memes – and counsel their governments, rather, to await careful investigation?

    • In Attacking Syria, Trump Breached the War Powers Resolution

      The War Powers Resolution is a series of barriers that Congress erected in the wake of the Vietnam War to defend the constitutionally-mandated role of Congress in deciding when the US will use military force if the US has not been attacked.

    • Trump Shocks World in Direct U.S. Strike on Syrian Airbase That Could Violate International Law

      Without congressional approval, on Thursday night the United States attacked a Syrian airfield, marking the first military action by the U.S. against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s forces since the Syrian war began over six years ago. The move comes after the U.S. accused Assad’s forces of using the air base to carry out a chemical weapons attack that killed 86 people, including at least 30 children. Syria denies carrying out the attack. “After six years of watching genocide, … today I am very happy that there is one less airfield,” says Lina Sergie Attar, a Syrian-American writer from Aleppo, in the first part of our roundtable discussion. We also speak with Alia Malek, journalist and former human rights lawyer, and Phyllis Bennis, a fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies. “The hypocrisy of it from the vantage point of the Trump administration is staggering,” Bennis says, calling the strike an act of war and arguing all sides in Syria have violated international law.

    • Cable News Loves War

      Nothing engorges the cable news id quite like a war waged by the United States, even when the war is only a one-off retaliatory Tomahawk strike, like Thursday’s missile attack on an airbase in Syria. From inside their command posts in Washington and New York, the network anchors have painted on their gravest battle masks and convened on-air skull sessions with correspondents gabbing about the hot action and the expected repercussions via from satellite link-up in Moscow, Beirut, Tel Aviv and border points in the Middle East. Retired generals and admirals kept on network retainer have powdered their noses and crowded into the broadcast studios like thirsty veterans heeding last call at the VFW hall to heave their approval or disdain on the strike.

      Nobody projects network war delight better than CNN’s Wolf Blitzer, whose metallic and nasal shrieking lands on virgin zones of mental irritation in these times. Blitzer, the king of the mundane observation and the champion of the generic question, was among the first to ride into virtual battle yesterday. His show, which generally degenerates into that dinner party you can’t wait to ditch, becomes even more unbearable when the main entrée is war. He see-sawed between hysteria—“This is the beginning of a new, a series of actions against the Syrian military?”—and morose panic—“Very, very sad situation unfolding.” After 30 minutes of such exposure, you feel Blitzered, craving relief from vague, hangover-like head pain pulsing through your brain.

    • Tillerson says missile strikes carry a message for others

      Secretary of State Rex Tillerson says the U.S. missile strikes against a Syrian air base in retaliation for a chemical weapon attack carries a message for any nation operating outside of international norms. He didn’t specify North Korea, but the context was clear enough.

    • US shows off military might to North Korea

      The possibility of a military confrontation has increased with a US navy strike group racing towards the Korean peninsula, but China’s stance on the North Korea issue remains unchanged, Chinese analysts said on Sunday.

    • NSA McMaster: ‘Prudent’ to send strike group to Korean Peninsula

      White House national security adviser H.R. McMaster on Sunday characterized the decision to relocate a U.S. aircraft carrier strike group to the Sea of Japan as “prudent,” given North Korea’s “pattern of provocative behavior.”

      “Well, it’s prudent to do it, isn’t it?” McMaster told Fox News’ Chris Wallace on “Fox News Sunday,” adding that “the president has asked to be prepared to give him a full range of options to remove that threat the American people and to our allies and partners in the region.”

    • U.S. Navy sends strike group toward Korean Peninsula

      A U.S. Navy strike group led by the USS Carl Vinson aircraft carrier was making its way toward the Korean Peninsula on Sunday “to maintain readiness” as Kim Jong Un’s regime in North Korea prepared to mark key anniversaries in the coming weeks.

    • Chris Hedges Criticizes Mainstream Media’s ‘Cheerleading’ for Syria Strike (Video)

      “They’ve fallen right into line and refuse to ask any substantial questions at all,” Hedges says of the media’s reaction to the U.S. attack. “This is precisely what the deep state wanted.”

      Noting that Trump’s chose to act partly due to photos of victims of a chemical attack in Syria earlier this week, correspondent Anya Parampil asks Hedges why there are “double standards” when it comes to caring about victims of war.

      War victims, Hedges says, “are manipulated to serve the interests of whatever warring party wants to hold up their corpses.” The missile strike, he argues, is the result of “the emotionalism of a very fickle, unstable, impulsive president who, frankly, sees the world through whatever is presented to him on a television screen.”

      “The corporate media has presented precisely the narrative and the images that the deep state wants,” Hedges concludes.

    • Britain’s secret wars

      Jared Kushner, son-in-law of President Trump and one of the most influential people in his administration, says the fight to retake Mosul from ISIS is nearing its end. This view looks dubious when set against reports, for example by Voice of America’s Heather Mudock, that ISIS’s most experienced paramilitaries are still entrenched in the core parts of the old city. Moreover, even apart from the military realities, the dire problems being faced by civilians augur badly for any quick resolution (see “Dark Times Ahead in Battle for Mosul”, VOA, 4 April 2017).

      But the United States-led coalition will eventually declare victory in Mosul. To that end, Trump is more than willing to allow far more intensive airstrikes whatever the cost to civilians, and to sanction the more direct involvement of regular US combat troops in fighting on the ground.

    • Donald Trump’s Own Defense Secretary Warned in 2013 Against Rushing to War Against Syria

      The Trump administration reacted to the apparent use of chemical weapons against civilians by the Bashar al-Assad government with a flurry of air strikes against a Syrian military airfield Thursday night.

      The bombing occurred after a widespread clamor for Trump to “do something” and without a thorough debate about what ultimate goal the U.S. is attempting to reach.

      This is exactly what Trump’s defense secretary, Jim Mattis, warned about in remarks he made in 2013.

      Mattis had just retired from his role as the commander of U.S. Central Command, and agreed to be interviewed by CNN’s Wolf Blitzer about U.S. policy in the Middle East.

    • Yet Another President Commits the Ultimate War Crime of Launching a War of Aggression

      President Donald Trump campaigned last year making the sensible argument that the US should no longer engage in a policy of regime change, and should attempt to have friendly relations with other countries like Russia and China. Yesterday he blew those ideas out of the water by launching 59 Tomahawk missiles at a Syrian airbase and by calling for the removal of Syria’s leader, Bashar al Assad.

      The pretext for the US cruise missile blitz, an alleged attack on a rebel-held town called Khan Shiekhun in Idlib province, where some 70 people, including children, were reported to have died from illegal Sarin-gas bombs said to have been dropped by Syrian planes, has yet to be investigated by any independent observers.

    • Bill Maher’s Muddled Attacks on Islam

      Bill Maher thinks he knows exactly why they hate us. In the world according to Bill, all those agitated Muslims on the receiving end of multiple interventions, numerous “double-tap” drone strikes, countless tons of falling bombs, the systematic imprisonment of “rendered” individuals and the widespread use of lawless torture are, simply put, the outgrowth of a backwards belief system. And those beliefs also inspire a type of religious violence that’s become a destructive force unparalleled in today’s world.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • Trump needs a reality check: Environmental protections save lives, create jobs, strengthen the economy

      By nullifying Obama-era climate initiatives, Trump puts the nation at risk in several ways

    • Senators Allege DAPL Builder Didn’t Have Permit to Build Under Lake Oahe

      Top Senate Democrats are questioning whether the builder and manager of the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) had a permit to construct a controversial stretch of the project near tribal land and water sources.

    • How to slash your electric bill by killing ‘vampire’ power drains

      With many of our consumer electronics products plugged into electrical sockets — an average of 40 items per household connected at any one time – they’re constantly “sucking” electricity, even when not in use. In fact, some of these products can still consume as much as 25% of its full power even when switched off.

    • How Climate Change Could Blow Up Your Electricity Bill

      Higher temperatures brought on by global warming means that we use more air conditioning and fans to keep us cool. In addition, global warming will bring an increase in the frequency and intensity of heat waves. And that means higher electricity demand—and cost.

    • Berta Is Dead, But The Movement She Started Lives

      The Convergence of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras (COPINH) has defied all efforts over the past year, by the Honduran government and the DESA dam company, to destroy it. This past Monday, March 27, 24 years after Berta Cáceres cofounded the Lenca indigenous organization, COPINH hosted an anniversary celebration of rebellion and recommitment.

      About 150 people from throughout Honduras and at least five other countries joined for a Lenca ceremony; a forum on challenges and advances; a concert; a film festival; and a humble feast of roasted pig, rice, tortillas, and birthday cake. The event closed late at night with an open-air performance of “Ancestras”, a new play by the Teatro Taller Tegucigalpa (Tegucigalpa Theater Workshop) about COPINH’s fight to defend the Gualcarque River, and structural injustice by the government and oligarchy.

    • Louisiana’s Bayou Bridge Pipeline Is One Permit Closer to Reality as Groups Plan Continued Resistance

      On March 30, heavy rain didn’t stop dozens of people in New Orleans from marching to the offices of the Louisiana Department of Natural Resources (DNR), where they delivered a letter to the agency opposing the Bayou Bridge pipeline.

      Yet the group’s actions didn’t stop the DNR from granting the project’s operator, Energy Transfer Partners, the coastal use permit it needed a few days later, on April 3.

      The proposed pipeline project is a joint venture with Phillips 66 and Sunoco Logistics. If built, the Bayou Bridge pipeline will be the last leg of Energy Transfer’s Dakota Access pipeline, carrying oil fracked in North Dakota all the way to Louisiana.

    • The Koch Caucus Continues Its Assault on Healthcare

      Last month, the Congressional “Freedom Caucus” was instrumental in defeating a health bill put forward by Donald Trump and House Speaker Paul Ryan. That bill would have deprived an estimated 26 million Americans of health coverage to provide a tax cut for the wealthy, but the Freedom Caucus’ far-right members were demanding even harsher provisions and they haven’t given up the fight.

      The travails of the bill known as “Trumpcare” have been covered extensively in the media, but another aspect of the story has not: the overwhelming majority of Freedom Caucus members have received campaign funding from a PAC funded by the Koch Industries. The Kochs’ unpopular and extreme agenda is reflected in Caucus efforts to make a bad bill even worse.

      Perhaps it’s time to start calling the extremist crew–that wants to throw Americans under the bus and strip them of their emergency care–the Koch Caucus.

  • Finance

    • Italy just banned Uber in favor of taxis

      The court ruled in favor of the country’s taxi drivers — who filed the suit — claiming Uber was “unfair competition.” Now Uber can’t use it’s apps — including UberBlack, Uber LUX, X, and Select — and it can’t promote or advertise itself at all within the country.

      For all intents and purposes, Uber is banned in Italy.

    • The Gibraltar rock reveals the rubble of democracy

      Gibraltar is caught in the crossfire of a historical dispute between the UK and Spain. As tensions grow, the question that becomes most apparent is one of democracy.

      Gibraltar doesn’t appear in the international news very often, but last week it entered the spotlight. As the Brexit process commences, Gibraltarians found themselves at the hands of an unfairly played card, by democratic standards. In the first draft of the Brexit negotiating guidelines came a single clause with a large impact; the EU has stepped behind excluding Gibraltar from any agreements reached between the EU and the United Kingdom, unless Spain is in agreement with it. This is a futile exercise, as Gibraltarians know all too well, following an age old feud over the sovereignty of the Rock.

    • A Federal Reserve Bank Ignored Insider Trading Investigation When Re-Appointing Its President

      New documents obtained by a Federal Reserve watchdog group suggest that the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond’s board of directors may have known that its president was under federal investigation when the board re-appointed him to a new term.

      That president, Jeffrey Lacker, resigned his position this week after acknowledging his role in a leak of nonpublic information about Fed policy to an analyst for hedge fund and asset manager clients. The situation highlights the often cozy relationship between central bankers and Wall Street.

    • Marching for Trump Tax Transparency

      A broad coalition of groups has come together to offer an opportunity for people to vent their anger over Trump’s tax secrecy. On April 15 (Tax Day), marches will take place in 48 states and even a few non-U.S. cities like London and Tokyo to demand that he release his tax returns. (See full list of actions at www.taxmarch.org).

      The largest event will be in Trump’s back yard in Washington, D.C., where several Democratic leaders, including Senate Finance Committee Ranking Member Ron Wyden and House Financial Services Committee Ranking Member Maxine Waters — will speak, along with a slate of faith, consumer, labor, and other leaders.

    • Why tax resistance under Trump needs its antiwar edge

      There have always been fights about taxes — stretching back to the crates of over-taxed tea tossed into the Boston Harbor and a thoughtful man’s night in jail for refusing to pay taxes in the slave-holding state of Massachusetts. This country’s long history of tax resistance stretches from the American Revolution to the religious non-cooperation of groups like the Mennonites and the Quakers to the movement to abolish slavery to resistance to every war fought in the 20th century. Following in the footsteps of this history and the example of Henry David Thoreau, there have always been a principled few who refuse to pay all or part of their federal taxes as an expression of their pacifism, or as a way of opposing specific policies. And there have always been demonstrations on April 15.

      In my experience, these tax day actions are motley affairs. Handfuls of activists gather at post offices and IRS outposts around the country, where they try to engage stressed-out tax procrastinators with dense tracks about the atrocities our tax dollars are funding in the warzone du jour. There are always copies of the War Resisters League’s eye-catching pie chart, which shows the huge portion of federal tax money allocated to the military. In New York City, we have deployed a cumbersome Penny Poll and handed out rolls of pennies to passersby, asking them to put the coins in different tubes to show how they really want their tax dollars spent.

    • So Yeah, Here’s America, 2017

      As America’s new economy starts to look more like the old economy of the Great Depression, the divide between rich and poor, those who have made it and those who never will, seems to grow ever starker. I know. I’ve seen it firsthand.

      Once upon a time, I worked as a State Department officer, helping to carry out the occupation of Iraq, where Washington’s goal was regime change. It was there that, in a way, I had my first taste of the life of the 1%. Unlike most Iraqis, I had more food and amenities than I could squander, nearly unlimited funds to spend as I wished (as long as the spending supported us one-percenters), and plenty of U.S. Army muscle around to keep the other 99% at bay. However, my subsequent whistleblowing about State Department waste and mismanagement in Iraq ended my 24-year career abroad and, after a two-decade absence, deposited me back in “the homeland.”

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • How Senators Voted on the Gorsuch Filibuster and the Nuclear Option

      In a party-line vote, Republicans agreed Thursday to end the 60-vote threshold for Supreme Court nominees, passing the so-called nuclear option.

      The move came shortly after most Democrats filibustered the nomination of Neil M. Gorsuch to the Supreme Court. A final confirmation vote is now set for as early as Friday evening.

      Below, see how every Senator voted on the filibuster and the nuclear option.

    • The White House Still Hasn’t Released Most Staffers’ Financial Disclosures

      Last Friday night, the White House began making staffers’ financial disclosures “available,” which give a glimpse of officials’ often extraordinary personal wealth. But it didn’t post the documents publicly. Instead, the White House required a separate request for each disclosure. It also didn’t release the names of staffers who have submitted the forms, forcing reporters and others to guess and play a game of Transparency Battleship.

      To combat the pointless opacity, ProPublica teamed up with the Associated Press and The New York Times to request disclosures for all the applicable staff that we know of — 171 people overall. We’ve received 88 filings to date, and posted all of them. (Check out our public Google Drive folder of disclosures. The Center for Public Integrity has also made them searchable.)

      The White House still hasn’t released most staffers’ financial disclosures – at least 80 are sitting around unreleased.

    • Trump the Loser

      Donald Trump claims to be good at making deals; what he is actually good at is gaming the system. He is even better at selling snake oil. The snake oil he sells is himself.

      He was so good at it last year that he has now become a clear and present danger – to people around the world and to the vast majority of Americans, especially Muslims, Hispanics, people of color, people who don’t conform to prevailing gender norms, and women.

    • Turkey’s Dangerous Referendum

      At first glance, Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s drive to create an executive presidency with almost unlimited power through a nationwide referendum looks like a slam-dunk.

      The man has not lost an election since 1994, and he has loaded the dice and stacked the deck for the April 15 vote. Using last summer’s failed coup as a shield, he has declared a state of emergency, fired 130,000 government employees, jailed 45,000 people—including opposition members of parliament—and closed down 176 media outlets. The opposition Republican People’s Party says it has been harassed by death threats from referendum supporters and arrests by the police.

    • Top Trump Donor and Big Data Billionaire Helped Tip Election, Now Works to Reshape Media

      Rightwing computer scientist and hedge fund billionaire Robert Mercer was the top donor to Donald Trump’s presidential campaign. He contributed $13.5 million and laid the groundwork for what is now called the Trump Revolution. Mercer also funded Cambridge Analytica (CA), a small data analytics company that specializes in “election management strategies.” CA boasts on its website that it has psychological profiles, based on 5,000 separate pieces of data, on 220 million American voters. CA scoops up masses of data from peoples’ Facebook profiles and uses artificial intelligence to influence their thinking and manipulate public opinion. They used these skills to exploit America’s populist insurgency and tip the election toward Trump.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • New legislation (HR 1865) seeks to hold websites liable for content posted by third parties; degrade free speech online
    • We rush to condemn Islamophobia. What about anti-Christian attacks? [iophk: "not allowed coverage by Twitter / Facebook"]

      [...] five uniformed railway “Transport Officers” watched the attack and did nothing to help him [...]

    • Why Does the West Keep Colluding with Terrorists?

      Like other criticisms of Hirsi Ali, the effort was to portray her as the problem itself rather than as the response to a problem.

      That this type of campaign can succeed — that speakers can be stopped from speaking in Western democracies because of the implicit or explicit threat of violence — is a problem our societies need to face. [...]

    • [Older] US: Release Singaporean Blogger Amos Yee [iophk: "sharia in US"]

      US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials should immediately release persecuted Singaporean activist and blogger Amos Yee, who was granted asylum by a US immigration judge on March 24, 2017, PEN America and Human Rights Watch said today. Yee, who has been detained since December, remains in ICE custody on the grounds that the Department of Homeland Security may file an appeal against the grant of asylum.

    • Rubel: Analytics, censorship and our poisoned information stream

      Is all editing censorship?

      The question came up during a recent Sunshine Week panel discussion at New Mexico State University when I expressed my frustrations with Facebook and online news outlets that make no effort to verify that what they are disseminating is true.


      She was claiming that any exercise of editorial discretion is, in fact, censorship. The Associated Press sends out several hundred stories every day. We only put a few of them in our newspaper. That’s censorship. The AP chooses its several hundred stories from the many thousands it could have reported on. That is also censorship. Any attempt to organize and prioritize the events of the day is censorship.

    • NYT’s BDS Debate Excludes BDS Proponents

      The most important editorial space in the English-speaking world dedicates a lot of column inches to the topic of Israel, including the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, but hasn’t provided any space to a pro-BDS voice on the topic in over three years.

    • Arkansas Legislator Pushes to Ban Books by historian Howard Zinn’s from Public Schools

      In March of 2017, Arkansas Representative Kim Hendren introduced House Bill 1834 to the state assembly which sought to ban any works written by, or relating to, historian Howard Zinn. The bill is entitled “An Act to Prohibit a Public School District or Open-Enrollment Public Charter School from Including in its Curriculum or Course Materials for a Program of Study Books or Any Other Material Authored by or Concerning Howard Zinn; And for Other Purposes.” The bill states any book authored by Zinn between 1959 and 2010 would be prohibited by public school districts, as would any work that concerns the historian—which could be interpreted as a ban on any work that cites Zinn as well.

    • Tennessee University Fires NPR Reporter After Politicians Complain

      Now Helbert has been fired by the university, after legislators objected to her report and complained that she hadn’t identified herself to them. Helbert has filed a lawsuit in response, while freedom of the press activists have organized rallies and petitions in her defense.

      Helbert’s report was posted online March 10, and included Sen. Mike Bell calling transgender identity “all hogwash;” comparing it to someone saying, “I might feel like a dog.”

    • Ghani Accused of Censorship After Cutting Off Journalist

      President Ashraf Ghani on Sunday addressed a press conference in Kabul after a week-long tour to the Asia-Pacific region and briefed journalists on the outcomes of his visit to Australia, Singapore and Indonesia.

      However, Ghani took questions from journalists but refused to respond to a question by TOLOnews reporter Sharif Amiri about rule of law.

      Ghani swiftly cut Amiri off when he asked the question and said that any questions had to be in the context of his trip.

    • North Korean Media: A Story of Language, Censorship, and Tech

      After the death Kim Jong-Nam, the official state-run North Korean news organization Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) issued a statement accusing South Korea of conspiring with Malaysia in the assassination. According to Chosun Media, a South Korean newspaper, the incentive for the alleged collaboration would be to “sabotage the North.”

    • Ninth Circuit Sends a Message to Platforms: Use a Moderator, Go to Trial

      The case involves LiveJournal, a social media platform that allows users to create “communities” based on a common theme or subject. The communities are partly managed by moderators, who review posts (including photos) that users submit to make sure they follow the rules for posting and commenting created by the community. A community focused on celebrity news, called “Oh No They Didn’t” (ONTD), became particularly popular, garnering millions of views every month.

      Enter Mavrix Photography, a photo agency that specialized in celebrities. Mavrix discovered that several of its celebrity photos had been posted on ONTD between 2010 and 2014. Rather than sending a DMCA takedown notice, Mavrix went straight to court to sue for copyright infringement. LiveJournal took the posts down immediately, and invoked the DMCA safe harbors, asserting that it was simply “hosting content at the direction of a user.” The district court agreed.

    • It Might Be Time to Delete Your LiveJournal
    • Russian-Owned LiveJournal Bans Political Talk, Adds Risk of Spying
    • LiveJournal now bans political talk
    • After Moving Servers to Russia, LiveJournal Bans ‘Political Solicitation’
    • Livejournal’s Russian owners announce new anti-LGBT policy, fandom stages mass exodus
  • Privacy/Surveillance

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Sayeeda Warsi’s Blinkered View of Islamism

      Every Islamist agenda Warsi writes about, such as gender segregation, the veil or Sharia courts, is sanitised and trivialised, while almost every organisation or personality is either misunderstood, misrepresented or merely branded “controversial”.

    • The Enemy Within: A Tale of Muslim Britain by Sayeeda Warsi – review

      Warsi’s solution to the situation we are faced with today is more of the same: more religion in the public space and stronger “religious identities”, though it is clearly less religion that we need, not more. And while she considers secularisation a threat, it is in fact the separation of religion from the state, universal values and citizenship rights that will provide minimum guarantees against the intolerance and violence of religion in politics and power.

    • Indonesia Permits Rare Papua Access to UN Health Rights Expert [iophk: "transmigration"]

      Papua has the lowest life expectancy in Indonesia and the country’s highest infant, child, and maternal mortality rates. Despite Papua’s glaring health service deficiencies, the government severely restricts access of international NGOs, including those that provide much-needed healthcare services.

    • Chatham Middle School Students Are Taught that Islam is the True Faith; Two Mothers Pilloried for Making It Public; Must See Video

      “It’s just not fair that within this unit of study the Chatham school district taught one religion to the exclusion of all others, and for the community to be so unkind and unwelcoming towards us, just for having raised legitimate questions as concerned parents.”

    • [Old] West still bowing to Saudi Arabia [iophk: "a bit from every fillup at the pump has been feeding this for decades"]

      Yet Western nations continue to reward the oil kingdom.

    • [Older] US Senators bring resolution urging Pakistan to release Asia Bibi

      However, after an international outcry, the Pakistani Supreme Court stayed her execution.

      The senators also asked Pakistan to reform the laws that have led to the targeting of religious minorities.


      These laws have been often alleged to have been misused to settle personal scores.

    • 2 men in Indonesia’s Aceh province face caning for gay sex

      Two men in Indonesia’s conservative Aceh province each face up to 100 strokes of the cane after neighbors reported them to Islamic religious police for having gay sex.

      Marzuki, the Shariah police’s chief investigator, said Saturday that if found guilty, the men will be the first to be caned for gay sex under a new code implemented two years ago.

    • U.S. Immigration Agency Will Lose Millions Because It Can’t Process Visas Fast Enough

      Lost amid the uproar over the Trump administration’s crackdown on undocumented immigrants is a change coming to the legal immigration system that’s expected to be costly for both U.S. companies and the government itself.

      Each year at about this time, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services receives a tidal wave of applications for H-1B visas, the ones for college-educated workers. For-profit companies usually have a five-day window in April to send in applications for new visas just as existing visa holders begin renewing theirs.

      The new wrinkle is that earlier this week USCIS suspended so-called “premium processing,” a program that allowed employers to pay extra to reduce visa wait times from as long as eight months to just two weeks.

      Officials have depicted the temporary stoppage as the upshot of a “significant surge” in demand for expedited service, but, in reality, it appears to reflect the agency’s own mismanagement and waste.

    • Federal Judge Sees New York State Conspiracy to Thwart Care for Mentally Ill

      A federal judge in Brooklyn has accused state officials of secretly trying to subvert a landmark court order to improve care for thousands of mentally ill residents of New York City.

      Three years ago, U.S. District Judge Nicholas Garaufis ended a prolonged lawsuit against New York state by ordering the Department of Health to begin moving as many as 4,000 mentally ill residents housed in group homes to less restrictive environments where they could live more independently. As part of his order, the judge had laid out a timetable for the state to meet its obligations to men and women who had long lived in homes marked by neglect and abuse.

    • Torturing Language to Put Best Light on Police Misconduct

      After a cop was arrested for allegedly assaulting his wife, CBS Miami’s headline was “Miami-Dade Police Officer Arrested After Wife Ends Up in Hospital”—suggesting that the arrest and the hospital visit might be entirely unrelated. An officer was arrested and, on a totally separate note, his wife “ended up” in a hospital.


      These two sentences are almost a parody of how to bend words in the service of power. Note how Bradley’s wife (the victim) is to blame for “confront[ing] him,” which “led to a violent argument,” apparently by no one’s volition. Indeed, it was “the argument” that “turned physical”—not Bradley, who, despite having been arrested, is never described doing anything, much less anything violent.

      Instead, Bradley’s wife “received serious injuries,” as one receives guests while hosting a party. Who inflicted those injuries on her “face area” is never stated.

    • What Does Mike Pence’s ‘No Girls Allowed’ Rule Have in Common With School Dress Codes and Single-Sex Classrooms? Exclusion, Shaming, and Victim-Blaming.

      Of all the shockingly retrograde views about gender that the past year has brought us, a top contender is the revelation of Mike Pence’s policy of refusing to dine with women unless his wife is present.

      As commentators have been swift to point out, this policy is deeply problematic. It reduces women to the role of temptress, blaming them for male transgressions from marital infidelity to sexual assault, while relying on the equally demeaning assumption that men are incapable of controlling their sexual impulses. It is also discriminatory in the context of the workplace, depriving female employees of critical opportunities for networking, mentoring, and face time.

    • This Missouri City Banishes Domestic Violence Survivors for Calling the Police

      In 2012, the city of Maplewood, Missouri ordered Rosetta Watson to vacate her home. But the city wasn’t done punishing Watson yet and also barred her from living anywhere in the city for six months. Her offense? She called the police four times seeking protection from her abusive ex-boyfriend.

      Under Maplewood’s local ordinance, more than two calls to police regarding domestic violence within 180 days qualifies as a “nuisance,” as do commission of acts prohibited by federal, state, or local laws at a property. The ordinance does not exempt situations where residents need to call police for help or where they are crime victims. Once Maplewood decides that a nuisance took place, it can revoke the residents’ occupancy permits — which are required to live in Maplewood — and deny new ones for six months, exiling the residents from the city.

      Maplewood officials concluded that Ms. Watson should be removed from her home and banished from the city because she made calls for help with domestic violence, even though it was clear from the city’s own records that her ex-boyfriend had physically assaulted her. She was forced to move to St. Louis, where he again attacked her. This time, he broke in and stabbed her in the legs.

    • Resurrecting the Unholy Trinity

      When George W. Bush and Dick Cheney launched their forever wars — under the banner of a “Global War on Terror” — they unleashed an unholy trinity of tactics. Torture, rendition, and indefinite detention became the order of the day. After a partial suspension of these policies in the Obama years, they now appear poised for resurrection.

      For eight years under President Obama, this country’s forever wars continued, although his administration retired the expression “war on terror,” preferring to describe its war-making more vaguely as an effort to “degrade and destroy” violent jihadists like ISIS. Nevertheless, he made major efforts to suspend Bush-era violations of U.S. and international law, signing executive orders to that effect on the day he took office in 2009. Executive Order 13491, “Ensuring Lawful Interrogations,” closed the CIA’s secret torture centers — the “black sites” — and ended permission for the Agency to use what had euphemistically become known as “enhanced interrogation techniques.”

      On that same day in 2009, Obama issued Executive Order 13492, designed — unsuccessfully, as it turned out — to close the U.S. military prison at Guantánamo Bay, the site of apparently endless detention without charges or trials. In 2015, Congress reinforced Obama’s first order in a clause for the next year’s National Defense Authorization Act that limited permissible interrogation techniques to those described in the U.S. Army Field Manual section on “human intelligence collector operations.”

    • “Why Did You Come to the United States?” Central American Children Try to Convince Courts They Need Protection

      In 2014, the Mexican author Valeria Luiselli, waiting for her green card application to be resolved, took her family on a road trip through the American southwest. As she and her husband and young children drove to Roswell, New Mexico, they joked about their own status as “resident aliens” and informed Border Patrol officers at checkpoints that they are “just writers and just on vacation. … We are writing a Western, sir.”

      As they drove, the family followed the news of tens of thousands of Central American children crossing the border just hours south of them, most of them alone. They listened to radio reports describing the children being warehoused, overcrowded and underfed, in detention centers known as as hieleras, or iceboxes, for ICE, but mostly for their frigid temperatures. They saw photos of protesters in Arizona with signs saying “return to sender” and “illegal is a crime.” They overheard patrons at a diner trading rumors about a millionaire offering his private plane to personally deport the children.

    • Formula 1 will land in Bahrain next week. Do we forget the country’s human rights abuses?

      For an inkling of Bahrain’s human rights record, consider its ranking of 162nd out of 180 countries on the 2016 World Press Freedom Index by Reporters Without Borders. This is a place where participating in a demonstration could lead to a serious stint behind bars. Political prisoners might go six months without enjoying this so-called sunshine, said Zainab al-Khawaja, who now lives in Denmark after having been repeatedly jailed in Bahrain for protesting. Many have been mistreated in detention and some even stripped of citizenship.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

  • Intellectual Monopolies


Links 8/4/2017: Qt 5.9 Beta, Neptune 4.5.4, Open Build Service 2.8, Deepin 15.4 RC2

Posted in News Roundup at 10:49 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish



Free Software/Open Source

  • A beginner’s guide to Mastodon, the hot new open-source Twitter clone [iophk: "what about censorship?"]

    Mastodon is a fast-growing Twitter-like social network that seeks to re-create the service’s best parts while eliminating its whale-sized problems. The distributed, open-source platform offers better tools for privacy and fighting harassment than Twitter does, but it also comes with a learning curve. Mastodon’s federated nature means there’s no single website to use, and learning how to wade through its timeline of tweets (which it calls toots) takes some time to adjust to.

    But for anyone who misses “the old Twitter” — the days of purely chronological timelines, no ads, and an inescapable flood of harassment — Mastodon can feel like a haven. So before you evacuate the blue bird hellmouth, here’s everything you need to know.

  • Google Cloud to host open source Elasticsearch

    The Elastic stack—Elasticsearch, Kibana, and Logstash—has become a powerful open source alternative for doing real-time searches on generated data like logs. Now Google is turning one of them into a cloud commodity.

    Google has partnered with Elasticsearch BV, the group that commercially supports the Elasticsearch stack’s cloud—called Elastic Cloud, appropriately enough—and is preparing to offer managed editions of Elastic Cloud on Google Cloud Platform.

  • Open source Elastic analytics snaps into Google’s Cloud Platform

    Open-source search analytics are coming to Google’s Cloud Platform courtesty of Elastic.

    GCP will host Elastic’s open-source search and analytics platform under a partnership deal, as managed Elastic Cloud. The managed service is due later this year.

    The Elastic stack – including Elasticsearch, Kibana, Beats and Logstash – offers search, log analysis and visualisation tools for search, logging, security, metrics and analytics, all of which will now be available on GCP.

  • Google Cloud and Elastic Form Partnership
  • Elastic Brings Search And Analytics To Google Cloud Platform
  • Google Cloud partners with Elastic for advanced search and analytics
  • Google will launch an Elasticsearch cloud service in second half of 2017
  • DeepMind Open Sources Sonnet Library To Make It Easier To Create Complex Neural Networks

    Sonnet is a new open source library announced by Alphabet’s DeepMind. It is built on top of their existing machine learning library TensorFlow along with extra features that fit DeepMind’s research requirements. Sonnet is designed to make it easier to create complex neural networks using TensorFlow.

  • Google DeepMind open sources Sonnet so you can build neural networks in TensorFlow even quicker

    Google’s DeepMind announced today that it was open sourcing Sonnet, its object-oriented neural network library. Sonnet doesn’t replace TensorFlow, it’s simply a higher-level library that meshes well with DeepMind’s internal best-practices for research.

    Specifically, DeepMind says in its blog post that the library is optimized to make it easier to switch between different models when conducting experiments so that engineers don’t have to upend their entire projects. To this avail, the team made changes to TensorFlow to make it easier to consider models as hierarchies. DeepMind also added transparency to variable sharing.

  • Blogging challenge: Share your knowledge about how community works

    Help us collect community knowledge by blogging about the weekly community management theme. This week’s theme is Encouraging New Contributors.

    Communities are what make open source software work. No two pieces of open source software are the same and so no two communities are the same but they can often learn from each other. Some have shared their best practices for bringing communities together, growing them, and fostering them. We have several books about communities and several conferences dedicated to them.

  • What is Chef? A primer for DevOps newbies

    Mastering the cloud is a lot easier with the DevOps program Chef in your kitchen.

    Chef is an open source cloud configuration management and deployment application. It’s meant to help anyone orchestrate servers in a cloud or just in a departmental data center. Instead of system administrators sweating over management programs that were designed for single, stand-alone servers, Chef allows DevOps to spin off dozens or hundreds of server instances in less time than it takes you to read this article.

  • Meson Build System Prepares For Growth

    Jussi Pakkanen of the Meson Build System has issued a project status report following more projects like X.Org and Mesa exploring Meson.

    Many of the projects exploring Meson are doing so as a possible replacement to their CMake or Autotools build systems. A number of them are commonly turned onto Meson by its superior Windows support, the possibility of condensing two or three build systems down into a single unified build system, and certainly the much faster performance of Meson thanks in part to its Ninja back-end.

  • Tracking the explosive growth of open-source software

    That’s why we decided to create a new, detailed index to track popular open-source software projects, and gain some insights into the new companies powered by these technologies.

  • Fuchsia: a new operating system

    It’s always fun to see a new operating system pop up out in the wild and be far along enough in its development to actually be useful. Fuchsia is not there yet, but it appears headed in the right direction. With Google’s resources behind the project, the development of Magenta and other Fuchsia components is happening at a brisk pace; all commits are visible to the public. However, there is no public mailing list, and it’s a bit of puzzle to figure out where this project is going.

    This is a new take on open-source development where it is out in the open, yet secret. It’ll be interesting to keep an eye on Fuchsia’s development to see what it eventually grows into.

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • Quantum work

        Last week we had a work week at Mozilla’s Toronto office for a bunch of different projects including Quantum DOM, Quantum Flow (performance), etc. It was great to have people from a variety of teams participate in discussions and solidify (and change!) plans for upcoming Firefox releases. There were lots of sessions going on in parallel and I wasn’t able to attend them all but some of the results were written up by the inimitable Ehsan in his fourth Quantum Flow newsletter.

      • Mozilla Thunderbird 52 Released with Various Improvements
  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice

    • The Document Foundation releases LibreOffice 5.3.2

      The Document Foundation (TDF) releases LibreOffice 5.3.2, the 2nd minor release of the LibreOffice 5.3 family, focused on bleeding edge features, and as such targeted at technology enthusiasts, early adopters, and power users. LibreOffice 5.3.2 integrates over 50 patches, with a large number of fixes related to RTF and DOCX documents.

  • Education

    • Tech Universities: Adopt a Free Software as your own children

      Some things will never change on Programming classes in universities: There will always be students crying to understand pointers, there will always be people going to stackoverflow hoping that somebody would do their homework, Every semester the students would start thousands of lines for their conclusion project and those lines ould probably go to the trash bin as soon as the semester ends. This shouldn’t be like that, this really shouldn’t be like that.

  • Mastodon

  • Public Services/Government

    • French CIOs share recipe for success of big IT projects

      Government IT systems can be unusually complex, SGMAP writes in its announcement, published on 3 April. Combined with government’s multi-faceted decision making process, this creates all sorts of risks for new IT projects. So DINSIC, which drives government modernisation and simplification, is sharing the common principles as a way to control these risks.


      Share and reuse; and

      Exploit open data.

    • Portugal pilots new use for healthcare data exchange

      The PNB is based on reusable, publicly available software components. The system handles over 300,000 messages per day.

    • Army Research Laboratory releases Open Source policy to share software

      Army Research Laboratory officials developed an Open Source policy for the sharing ARL-developed software. The goal is to increase collaboration and incentivize innovative ideas among federal and nonfederal research organizations.

      The Federal Source Code Policy ensures new custom-developed federal source code be made broadly available for reuse across the federal government. ARL’s policy is a concrete implementation of the goals of the Federal Source Code Policy, officials say.

      ARL’s Open Source policy allows external researchers to analyze and verify software generated by the lab.

  • Licensing/Legal

    • Difference Between Different Types Of Open Sources Licenses

      While open sourcing a project, one needs a license so that the terms distribution, linking, modification, private use, etc., can be automatically taken care of. There are many open source licenses to choose from, some of them being MIT, GNU GPL, Apache 2.0, Creative Commons, BSD licenses. Each has its own terms of the above characteristics that even decide the ownership and credibility of the project.

    • dmd Backend converted to Boost License
    • Review of BeansBooks, Released Under ‘Open Code’ License

      Before using BeansBooks, be sure to take a look at its “open code” license, which is a free software license but incompatible with the GPL and all GPL compatible licenses, whether “copyleft” or “permissive.”

      Open software often reduces the barrier to entry for small businesses. FOSS fans might well have heard of personal and small-business accounting software GnuCash, which is taught in the Penn Manor School District in Lancaster, Pennsylvania and described in Charlie Reisinger’s book The Open Schoolhouse. Less well known is BeanBooks, an “open code” SaaS accounting program created by the well-known folks at System76, which came onto my radar just recently. This screencast review of the software does a good job showing you its features.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

  • Programming/Development

    • Happy birthday, Git

      In the world of version control, Git has clearly claimed the mantle of the preferred version control tool of most developers. In a recent developer survey on Stack Overflow, Git was the preferred version control of 69.2% of participants, over seven times as many votes as the next runner up, Subversion.

      And today, we celebrate a dozen years passing since the initial release of Git on April 7, 2005. Created by Linus Torvalds to manage the expansive source code of the Linux kernel, Git now manages the source code of countless open source projects you know and love. We’ve rounded up a collection of articles from Opensource.com community moderator Seth Kenlon highlighting the many great uses of Git, and how you can use it to version nearly everything in your day-to-day workflow.

    • #3: Follow R-devel

      A few years ago, I mentioned to Duncan Murdoch how straightforward the setup of my CRANberries feed (and site) was. After all, static blog compilers converting textual input to html, rss feed and whatnot have been around for fifteen years (though they keep getting reinvented). He took this to heart and built the (not too pretty) R-devel daily site (which also uses a fancy diff tool as it shows changes in NEWS) as well as a more general description of all available sub-feeds.

    • The review gap

      The free-software community is quite good at creating code. We are not always as good at reviewing code, despite the widely held belief that all code should be reviewed before being committed. Any project that actually cares about code review has long found that actually getting that review done is a constant challenge. This is a problem that is unlikely to ever go completely away, but perhaps it is time to think a bit about how we as a community approach code review.

      If a development project has any sort of outreach effort at all, it almost certainly has a page somewhere telling potential developers how to contribute to the project. The process for submitting patches will be described, the coding style rules laid down, design documents may actually exist, and so on; there is also often a list of relatively easy tasks for developers who are just getting started. More advanced projects also encourage contributions in other areas, such as artwork, bug triage, documentation, testing, or beer shipped directly to developers. But it is a rare project indeed that encourages patch review.


  • Health/Nutrition

  • Security

    • Security updates for Friday
    • Researcher: 90% Of ‘Smart’ TVs Can Be Compromised Remotely

      So we’ve noted for some time how “smart” TVs, like most internet of things devices, have exposed countless users’ privacy courtesy of some decidedly stupid privacy and security practices. Several times now smart TV manufacturers have been caught storing and transmitting personal user data unencrypted over the internet (including in some instances living room conversations). And in some instances, consumers are forced to eliminate useful features unless they agree to have their viewing and other data collected, stored and monetized via these incredible “advancements” in television technology.

    • Pandavirtualization: Exploiting the Xen hypervisor

      On 2017-03-14, I reported a bug to Xen’s security team that permits an attacker with control over the kernel of a paravirtualized x86-64 Xen guest to break out of the hypervisor and gain full control over the machine’s physical memory. The Xen Project publicly released an advisory and a patch for this issue 2017-04-04.

      To demonstrate the impact of the issue, I created an exploit that, when executed in one 64-bit PV guest with root privileges, will execute a shell command as root in all other 64-bit PV guests (including dom0) on the same physical machine.

    • Be careful, Cisco Mobility Express is shipped with some Cisco Aironet devices has a hard-coded password. Fix it!

      The Mobility Express Software shipped with Cisco Aironet 1830 Series and 1850 Series access points has a hard-coded admin-level SSH password.

    • Grasshopper

      Today, April 7th 2017, WikiLeaks releases Vault 7 “Grasshopper” — 27 documents from the CIA’s Grasshopper framework, a platform used to build customized malware payloads for Microsoft Windows operating systems.

      Grasshopper is provided with a variety of modules that can be used by a CIA operator as blocks to construct a customized implant that will behave differently, for example maintaining persistence on the computer differently, depending on what particular features or capabilities are selected in the process of building the bundle. Additionally, Grasshopper provides a very flexible language to define rules that are used to “perform a pre-installation survey of the target device, assuring that the payload will only [be] installed if the target has the right configuration”. Through this grammar CIA operators are able to build from very simple to very complex logic used to determine, for example, if the target device is running a specific version of Microsoft Windows, or if a particular Antivirus product is running or not.

    • Preparing enterprise systems for the scriptless Linux exploit
    • Kaspersky warns of spike in ‘cheap’ ransomware targeting large firms

      The method goes as follows: the criminals would search for an organisation that has an unprotected server with Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) access, they would guess the password or buy access to it on the black market, and then they would encrypt a node or server manually.

  • Defence/Aggression

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • No: Assange is a political prisoner who’s exposed crimes and atrocities

      Julian Assange is a political prisoner who has never been charged with a crime.

      That few people know this and that large media outlets have conveniently ignored this fact is an indictment of all Western political leaders and journalists who claim to care about human rights and civil liberties but remain silent – or worse – about one of the world’s most famous prisoners of conscience.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

  • Finance

    • Eager crowds are flattening Southern California’s vibrant ‘super bloom’
    • Is Britain selling its soul to Saudi Arabia amid EU divorce?

      If the name alone does not make you recoil, allow me to summarize the nature of that Middle Eastern regime with a few chosen adjectives: violent, reactionary, self-righteously vindictive, oppressive and above all inherently intolerant. Weaved around the concept of Takfirism – an ideology that professes the murder of all religious minorities and denominations other than that it professes – Saudi Arabia has held a genocidal blade over the Islamic world, forever calling for religious cleansing to assuage its thirst for control.

    • Lyft exec may join Trump’s DOT

      Lyft general manager Derek Kan may soon be nominated to join the Department of Transportation as under secretary of transportation for policy, according to Reuters report Thursday.

    • Uber contract ‘gibberish’, says MP investigating gig economy

      Publishing full details of Uber’s contract terms, along with those for the takeaway courier firm Deliveroo and Amazon, Field said all three used some kind of “egregious clause” which attempted to prevent people challenging their “self-employed” designation, [...]

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • When hosting SNL, Donald Trump ‘struggled to read,’ says former cast member. Can the President read?

      “He struggled to read at the table read, which did not give many of us great confidence. Didn’t get the jokes, really. He’s just a man who seems to be powered by bluster.”

    • Kushner Omitted Meeting With Russians on Security Clearance Forms

      When Jared Kushner, President Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser, sought the top-secret security clearance that would give him access to some of the nation’s most closely guarded secrets, he was required to disclose all encounters with foreign government officials over the last seven years.

      But Mr. Kushner did not mention dozens of contacts with foreign leaders or officials in recent months. They include a December meeting with the Russian ambassador, Sergey I. Kislyak, and one with the head of a Russian state-owned bank, Vnesheconombank, arranged at Mr. Kislyak’s behest.

    • Justice Neil Gorsuch

      Neil Gorsuch has now been confirmed by the Senate and will swear-in next week as one of the nine justices of the United States Supreme Court. I expect Justice Gorsuch to support strong patent rights, but primarily focus on statutory language and historic precedent. I.e., do not expect Gorsuch to see patents as a fundamental right, but rather a policy tool that can be fully regulated by Congress.

    • Senate confirms Gorsuch to Supreme Court, giving Trump big win
  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • After Moving Servers to Russia, LiveJournal Bans ‘Political Solicitation’

      Last December, the blogging platform LiveJournal — purchased in 2007 by the Russian company SUP Media — finally relocated its data servers from California to Russia.

      Calling attention to the shift, Anton Nossik (a former advisor to SUP Media) declared, “LJ’s servers have moved ‘closer’ not to its authors and readers, but to those who want to monitor them.”

      This Tuesday, April 4, LiveJournal released an updated user agreement, revealing what steps it’s taking to adjust to its new existence as a blogging platform in full compliance with Russia’s stifling Internet laws. In particular, users like Nossik have expressed concerns that the website’s data will now be fully accessible to Russian police snooping, in accordance with recently enacted “anti-terrorist” legislation.

    • Revenge Pornster Craig Brittain Issues DMCA Notices Demanding Google Delist Entire Websites, Including Wikipedia

      Former revenge porn site operator/lawyer impersonator Craig Brittain is once again engaged in some DMCA abuse. A couple of years ago, Brittain issued bogus DMCA notices in hopes of whitewashing his past. Along with posts at Popehat, Vice, Huffington Post, Ars Technica, and Reddit, Brittain asked Google to delist the FTC’s press release about its settlement with Brittain over his revenge porn misdeeds.

      It didn’t work, obviously. A new set of stories highlighting Brittain’s sordid past swiftly filled up any gaps in the revenge porn purveyor’s vanity Google searches.

    • Choose Wisely: Political Correctness Or A Retreat To Conservative Censorship?

      Beginning with the very inception of the country, conservative censorship has dominated the United States of America as a way to moderate public opinion. Beginning in the twenty-first century, however, a new kind of censorship dominated the headlines, schoolrooms, and workplaces of America: liberal political correctness. With the rise of right-wing ideals and isolationism, will we witness

    • Censorship & certification – Outlining the CBFC’s role under law

      The Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) functions as the primary body certifying films for public exhibition in India. It is guided by the Cinematograph Act, 1952, and various rules and guidelines in determining the nature of certification to be granted to a film. However, over the past few months, reports about the Central CBFC’s alleged overreach – moving from certification of films to moral policing, for instance, by denying certification to films which address LGBTQ issues – have made the news. This post outlines the legal framework within which the CBFC operates and discuss the prospects for change within this framework.

    • Bias Response Teams: campus censorship at its most sinister

      This is just a ploy, of course – an attempt to shift the spotlight and avoid having to justify the not only censorious but patently unhinged behaviour of campus officials of late. But it’s also a crap one. Because with every year that passes, university administrations cook up more and more GDR-lite ways to cleanse campuses of disagreeable speech.


      Reason’s Robby Soave waded through the University of Oregon BRT annual report last year. What he found was equal parts hilarious and terrifying. One student reported that a sign encouraging students to clean up after themselves was sexist. The sign was promptly removed. Another anonymous student complained that the student newspaper was giving insufficient coverage to trans and ethnic minority people. So the BRT went and had a word with the editor.

    • German Proposal Threatens Censorship on Wide Array of Online Services

      Anticipating federal elections in September, Germany’s Minister of Justice has proposed a new law aimed at limiting the spread of hate speech and “fake news” on social media sites. But the proposal, called the “Social Network Enforcement Bill” or “NetzDG,” goes far beyond a mere encouragement for social media platforms to respond quickly to hoaxes and disinformation campaigns and would create massive incentives for companies to censor a broad range of speech.


      Under the proposal, providers would be required to promptly remove “illegal” speech from their services or face fines of up to 50 million euros. NetzDG would require providers to respond to complaints about “Violating Content,” defined as material that violates one of 24 provisions of the German Criminal Code. These provisions cover a wide range of topics and reveal prohibitions against speech in German law that may come as a surprise to the international community, including prohibitions against defamation of the President (Sec. 90), the state, and its symbols (Sec. 90a); defamation of religions (Sec. 166); distribution of pornographic performances (Sec. 184d); and dissemination of depictions of violence (Sec. 131).

    • Trigger Warning: A High School Censors A Speech About Censorship

      Wallkill Senior High School just censored my lecture about censorship.

      Several months ago, the school in an upstate New York community known for its prisons and apple orchards invited me to participate in its annual “Author’s Day” event on April 4 and 5. Published writers gab to administrators, librarians and educators over a buffet dinner and then lecture to several classes of students the following day. It’s a schlep from Manhattan, but writers receive a modest honorarium and I enjoy talking to kids about my passion.

    • Peace, Trump, censorship and fake news up for discussion
  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Privacy Experts Say CIA Left Americans Open to Cyber Attacks

      WikiLeaks release of the latest cache of confidential C.I.A. documents as part of an ongoing “Vault 7″ operation exposed some of the U.S. government’s hacking and digital espionage capabilities—this time having to do with iPhones and other smart devices used by hundreds of millions of people across the globe. But cyber security experts and computers scientists are raising concerns over the C.I.A.’s disregard of safety measures put in place for discovering these dangerous flaws in smart gadgets.

    • The Justice Department refused to prosecute CIA for illegal surveillance

      In 1976 and again in 1977, the Justice Department decided not to prosecute anyone for the CIA’s illegal surveillance and mail openings. The report issued in 1977 reveals the Justice Department’s highly flawed reasons, including claims that prosecution would not serve to prevent such questionable or outright illegal surveillance from happening again – ironically setting the stage for modern surveillance programs.

    • US lawmakers demand to know how many residents are under surveillance
    • US lawmakers want to know how many Americans under surveillance
    • Congress Asks White House for an Estimate of How Many Americans Under Surveillance
    • Lawmakers seek intel on surveillance of Americans
    • Congress Judiciary Panel Seeks Number of Americans Under Surveillance by Intel
    • U.S. Lawmakers Want To Know Number Of Americans Under Surveillance
    • Oh, Sure, Now Congress Is Serious About Asking NSA About Surveillance On Americans

      For many, many years, Senator Ron Wyden has been directly asking the US intelligence community a fairly straightforward question (in his role as a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee): just how many Americans are having their communications swept up in surveillance activities supposedly being conducted on foreigners under the FISA Amendments Act (FISA being Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act). Wyden started asking way back in 2011 and got no answers. His continued questioning in 2013 resulted in Director of National Intelligence James Clapper lying to Congress in a public hearing, which Ed Snowden later claimed was a big part of the inspiration to make him leak documents to the press.

      Just last month, we noted that Wyden had renewed his request for an accurate depiction of how many Americans have had their communications swept up, this time asked to new Director of National Intelligence, Dan Coats. Unfortunately, for all these years, it’s basically felt like Senator Wyden tilting at a seeming windmill, with many others in Congress basically rolling their eyes every time the issue is raised. I’ve never understood why people in Congress think that these kinds of things can be ignored. There have been a few attempts by others — notably on the House Judiciary Committee — to ask similar questions. Almost exactly a year ago, there was a letter from many members of the HJC, and there was a followup in December. But, notably, while there were a number of members from both parties on that letter, the chair of the House Judiciary Committee, Bob Goodlatte, did not sign the letter, meaning that it was unlikely to be taken as seriously.

    • Well, That Was Quick: Twitter Dismisses Lawsuit After Feds Drop Attempt To Unmask Rogue Tweeter

      Yesterday we wrote about Twitter suing the US government after officials at the Department of Homeland Security sought to use a law designed to gather information for figuring out import duties, to unmask the operator of @ALT_uscis, alleging to comment on immigration issues from within the US Citizenship and Immigration Service. Twitter broke out the big guns for that case, as the lead attorney representing it was Seth Waxman, a former Solicitor General in the Clinton administration.

    • New York Supreme Court Says Facebook Can’t Challenge The 381 Broad Warrants Handed To It By New York Prosecutors

      Almost four years ago, Manhattan DA Cyrus Vance’s office issued 381 warrants seeking information on Facebook subscribers. The warrants arrived almost immediately after the first Snowden leaks, which quite possibly pushed Facebook towards challenging the multitude of overbroad warrants.

      Once the gag order was lifted, Facebook was able to reveal the astonishing breadth of the DA’s demands. Hoping to dig up info on participants in a disability fraud scheme — one that had already resulted in the arrests of more than 100 former police officers and firemen — the 381 warrants demanded everything Facebook had on the named accounts, including private messages, Friends lists, and a variety of non-public content.

      Facebook spent the next three years fighting the warrants in New York courts. It hasn’t gone particularly well. There’s the issue of standing, which few courts are willing to grant to third parties seeking to protect the privacy of their subscribers and users.

    • Judge Says FBI’s NIT Warrant Invalid, Points Out FBI Agent Knew It Was Invalid When He Requested It

      A Minnesota judge has granted a motion for suppression in an FBI Playpen case, using an agent’s nineteen years of service and expertise against the government’s good faith arguments. The court here found the warrant to be invalid from the moment it was signed, meaning everything obtained past that point to be fruit of the poisonous tree. (via FourthAmendment.com)

    • Twitter sues government over attempt to unmask anti-Trump account
  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Koran Reciters to Get Leg Up in IPB Entrance Selection

      According to the new rule, students who can recite 30 chapters of the Koran will be rewarded with additional entrance points equal to those awarded to winners of international-level science competition.

    • European Parliament’s biggest political group calls for EU-wide ban on Islamic face veils
    • Women smearing Ayaan Hirsi Ali are ‘carrying water’ for Islamists

      I want to hear what Hirsi Ali has to say, in order to agree with her if she is right, to disagree with her if she is wrong, to reason with her if her approach in criticising Islam is harming Muslims, and more importantly, to collaborate with her in what could be the best way to uphold the human rights of even those who wish death for her. Because All Lives Matter, even the ones who are out to silence dissenters with knives stabbed to dead director’s chests with the next target named in a bloody note.

    • PEN America and Human Rights Watch asks for the immediate release of blogger Amos Yee

      PEN America* and Human Rights Watch has released a statement on 5 April to ask for the immediate release of Singaporean blogger Amos Yee, who is still detained in the US despite being granted asylum by US immigration judge Samuel Cole.

      It is being reported that the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is still detaining Yee while deciding if the government will appeal Judge Samuel Cole’s decision. The Department of Homeland Security has 30 days to file an appeal.

    • Madrasa super arrested for attempted rape of a minor girl

      Police have arrested a madrasa superintendent from Charbaria of Barisal for attempting to rape his daughter’s classmate, a 10-year-old girl.

      The detainee is Maulana Md Masum Billah, superintendent of Sapania Dakhil Madrasa. He hails from Kalapara of Patuakhali district, but used to live on the madrasa premises with his family.

      He was arrested from his house Friday morning soon after the girl’s father filed a complaint with Kaunia police.

    • Attorney General’s Memo Indicates Trump’s DOJ Is Only Interested In The Blue Side Of The Justice Equation

      Here comes the rollback. As President Trump made clear with his pick for Attorney General, the days of police reform are over. The administration is only willing to put its weight behind efforts that give cops more power, weapons, and funding. Everything else — including several years-worth of consent agreements with dysfunctional police departments — is unimportant.

      The first wave of Trump’s planned United Police State was a series of divisive directives seeking to bolster support for law enforcement by informing them the president had their back and anyone who didn’t was simply wrong.

    • Former Director of NSA and CIA Speaks on the Importance of Espionage for Democracy

      American espionage is not only compatible with but essential to democracy, former director of the National Security Agency and the Central Intelligence Agency Michael Hayden told an audience of more than 200 people in Robertson Hall April 6.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • Ajit Pai’s net neutrality plan is nonsense

      And these are just the simple questions. If Ajit Pai wants to get rid of net neutrality, he should maybe answer some of them before walking back a law that millions of Americans vocally supported.

    • European roaming charges will be binned in June

      The fees, which were agreed by representatives from the European Council, European Parliament and the EC back in February, were given the thumbs up on Thursday. The wholesale charges have been capped at €0.032 per minute for voice calls, €0.01 per SMS and €7.70 per GB of data used, a figure that will eventually fall to €2.50 per GB in 2022.

    • G20 IT Ministers Want Access For All, Commit To Conflicting Objectives

      The Group of 20 (G20) ministers responsible for the digital economy today called for further efforts to advance access to the internet for everyone and close the digital gaps that still exist. Gathered in Dusseldorf, Germany, for the two-day IT related preparatory conference for the G20 Summit in Hamburg in July, the ministers signed a declaration on “Shaping the Digitalisation for an Interconnected World.” It was the first time that ministers for digital economy met in the G20 format.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Can a public domain artwork be registered as a trade mark or would that be contrary to public policy and morality?

      When can an artwork be registered as a trade mark? The question is not an easy one, and may be complicated further by consideration that the artwork at hand may be no longer eligible for copyright protection due to the expiry of the term of protection. This means that the question may turn out to be not just one relating to the requirements for trade mark registration, but also involve broader, public interest considerations that relate to the opportunity to continue protecting by means of other IP regimes items (works) in relation to which the primary IP right (in this case, copyright) is no longer available.

    • Copyrights

      • Germany Approves Draft Law to Protect WiFi Operators From Piracy Liability

        Germany has approved a draft law that will enable businesses to run open WiFi hotspots without being held liable for the copyright infringements of their customers.

      • Sketchy Copyright Takedown Kills Bad Lip Reading’s Force Awakens Remix

        If you haven’t ever seen a Bad Lip Reading video, you’ve been missing out. For many years, they’ve posted a ton of videos taking footage from basically anywhere, and overlaying new audio, matching what people are saying/singing with, well, something else, that is plausible (but usually very, very funny). Here’s one of the inauguration, a music video and one on the NFL. That gives you the basic idea. The last time we wrote about them was back in 2011, but it was (of course) about a silly DMCA takedown involving one of BLR’s videos done by Universal Music.


Links 7/4/2017: Canonical Layoffs, GNOME Paint Coming

Posted in News Roundup at 4:12 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish



Free Software/Open Source

  • Chiosi: Open Source Necessary, Not Sufficient

    Margaret Chiosi has long been an open source advocate, but the former AT&T, now Huawei, executive acknowledged here today that open source by itself is not enough — and the gap between what it provides and what carrier-class products require is an industry challenge.

    “You have all these open source pieces — they are great initial pieces, but you can’t just clean it up and run it, because it’s not complete,” Chiosi said, in an interview following her keynote presentation here. “The challenge for the industry is how do we get from here to production — there are a lot of gaps.”

    Chiosi’s comments echo those made earlier in the week by another staunch open source proponent, Guru Parulkar, a founder of ONS and current executive director of the Open Networking Foundation. Parulkar noted the resources gap between what open source can deliver — code, proofs-of-concept and lab trials — and the commercialization and hardening processes needed to take products to market. (See Open Source Boom Not Without Challenges.)

  • Telecoms copying cloud providers make beeline for open source, say analysts
  • Open Networking Takes Next Steps Up the Stack
  • AT&T’s Rice: ONAP will help the industry take advantage of ECOMP and Open-O
  • How ONAP Will Merge Millions of Lines of Code from ECOMP and Open-O
  • ONS 2017 Tracks Progress of Open Source Networking Projects
  • Open Source, Cybersecurity, Fintech Relationships: A Look Back at the North American Trading Architecture Summit

    This year’s North American Trading Architecture Summit was packed full of great insight from industry leaders in financial technology.

    Another Waters conference has come and gone, and yet again I’m left with plenty to chew on. The North American Trading Architecture Summit (NATAS) is particularly special for me, as it’s geared more toward the sell side.

  • HackerOne CEO: The tech industry has some ‘catching up to do’ on software security

    Remember the open source adage that “given enough eyeballs, all bugs are shallow?” Well, open source hasn’t quite worked out that way. Heartbleed, Shellshock, and a host of other security holes have made open source, for all its virtues, look somewhat ordinary when it comes to bugginess and security.

    At least, that’s one way to read the data.

    According to open source business luminary and HackerOne CEO Marten Mickos, however, open source absolutely has delivered better security than its proprietary peers. Perhaps even more important, however, is how open source enables bug bounty programs launched by HackerOne and others to be dramatically more successful than they could be in a closed-source context.

  • Events

    • Speak at The Linux Foundation’s Open Source Summit North America in L.A.

      Four events, one name: LinuxCon, ContainerCon, CloudOpen and the all-new Community Leadership Conference have combined to form one big event: Open Source Summit North America. The rebranded event, to be held Sept. 11-13 in Los Angeles, will feature a broader range of open source topics, and be more inclusive than ever.

      Each of the four conference areas bring a different part of the open source community to the table, providing a holistic overview of the industry for attendees of the new Open Source Summit.

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • It’s Time for Open Citations

        Today, Mozilla is announcing support for the Initiative for Open Citations (I4OC), an effort to make citation data from scholarly publications open and freely accessible.

        We’re proud to stand alongside the Wikimedia Foundation, the Public Library of Science and a network of other like-minded institutions, publishers and researchers who believe knowledge should be free from restrictions. We want to create a global, public web of citation data — one that empowers teaching, learning, innovation and progress.

        Currently, much of the citation data in scholarly publications is not easily accessible. From geology and chemistry journals to papers on psychology, the citations within are often subject to restrictive and confusing licenses which limit discovery and dissemination of published research. Further, citation data is often not machine readable — meaning we can’t use computer programs to parse the data.

        Mozilla understands that in some cases, scholarly publications themselves must be protected or closed in order to respect proprietary ecosystems and business models. But citations are snippets of knowledge that allow everyone to engage with, evaluate and build upon ideas. When citations are inaccessible, the flow of knowledge stalls. Innovation is chilled. The results are damaging.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

    • Uber’s open source data visualization tool now goes beyond maps

      You may not be aware, but Uber offers an open source version of the data visualization framework it uses internally, called deck.gl. The tool was made available to anyone via open source license last November, and now it’s getting some key updates that should help make it more useful to external teams and individuals looking for interesting ways to take their data and turn it into compelling visual representations.

  • Mastodon

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

    • What living off the grid taught me about openness

      A sip of maple water, drawn straight from a steel bucket in the forest is electric; it’s icy crisp, not too sweet, and tastes like trees and sky distilled into light. Perched on snowshoes, sweetly freezing your butt in the sugarbush, it’s like a trickle of forest energy down your throat.

    • Open Access/Content

      • New Large-Scale Initiative Aims To Increase Open Access To Scholarly Research

        The Wikimedia Foundation, Public Library of Science (PLoS), and other publishers and research organisations have announced an initiative aimed at increase the amount of scholarly citation data freely available online, called the Initiative for Open Citations.

        The I4OC initiative is accessible here. At present, there are 66 participating organisations, including 29 publishers and 33 stakeholders, including the Wellcome Trust, Mozilla, and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

      • European Commission May Join Gates Foundation And Wellcome Trust In Becoming An Open Access Publisher

        Open access isn’t a new idea — the term was first defined back in 2002, and arguably the first examples go back even further to the founding of arXiv.org in 1991 (pdf). And yet progress towards making all academic knowledge freely available has been frustratingly slow, largely because hugely-profitable publishers have been fighting it every inch of the way. In response to that intransigence, academics have come up with a variety of approaches, including boycotts, mass cancellation of subscriptions, new kinds of overlay journals and simply making everything available with or without permission.

  • Standards/Consortia

    • Solving the cross-platform emoji problem

      However, as nice as they look on some platforms, not everyone is able to see emoji in the same way. Even though Unicode declares a standard to ensure that characters are strictly defined and are compatible across any system that uses Unicode, they aren’t responsible for the design of emoji.


  • EC updates DESI – digital ranking of Member States

    When it comes to digitisation of public services, Europe’s top-three Member States are Estonia, Finland and the Netherlands, according to the EC’s Digital Economy and Society Index (DESI), published on 8 March.

  • Introduction of new Danish eID again delayed
  • Hardware

  • Security

    • Security updates for Thursday
    • LMAOxUS Ransomware: Another Case of Weaponized Open Source Ransomware

      An Indian developer is playing around with an open source ransomware builder, which in the long run may end up causing serious problems for innocent users.

      This developer, who goes by the nickname of Empinel and claims to be based in Mumbai, has forked the open source code of the EDA2 project, and with the help of another user, has removed the backdoor hidden in EDA2′s original code.

    • Google Patches Android Security Vulnerabilities in April Update

      Google is out with its April 2017 Android security update, patching 102 different vulnerabilities in the mobile operating system. Of the vulnerabilities patched by Google this month, only 15 are rated as having critical impact.

      Not surprisingly, the mediasever component is once again being patched by Google. The Android mediasever has been patched in every Android security update issued by Google since August 2015. In the new April update, mediaserver accounts for 15 flaws in total, including six rated as critical, five as high and four with only moderate impact.

    • Can you trust Linux-based Tizen OS?
    • Insecure Samsung Tizen is riddled with security flaws
    • CloudLinux 6 Users Get New Stable Kernel Security Update to Fix CVE-2016-10229

      Following on the recent stable and Beta kernel releases for the CloudLinux 7 operating system series, CloudLinux’s Mykola Naugolnyi announced earlier the availability of a new stable kernel update for CloudLinux 6 users.

      The new, updated kernel version 2.6.32-673.26.1.lve1.4.25 is out as of April 6, 2017, and it appears to patch a Linux kernel vulnerability discovered in the udp.c file, which affects kernel versions smaller than 4.5, including the Linux 2.6 kernel running on CloudLinux 6 and CloudLinux 5 Hybrid operating systems.

    • Windows ransomware variant targets healthcare sector [iophk: "Microsoft"]

      Philadelphia is believed to be a new version of the ransomware known as Stampado.

  • Defence/Aggression

    • Killing Our Way to Victory

      To wage the global war on terrorism, the leaders of the United States have settled on one basic strategy. Taking advantage of their extraordinary military power, they have tried to kill their way to victory.

      Many in Washington believe the strategy is correct. They argue the terrorists are inherently evil and must be vanquished from the planet. In the case of the Islamic State, both President Barack Obama and President Donald Trump have insisted that the only way to deal with the group is to forcefully eradicate it from the face of the Earth.

    • Another Dangerous Rush to Judgment in Syria

      With the latest hasty judgment about Tuesday’s poison-gas deaths in a rebel-held area of northern Syria, the mainstream U.S. news media once more reveals itself to be a threat to responsible journalism and to the future of humanity. Again, we see the troubling pattern of verdict first, investigation later, even when that behavior can lead to a dangerous war escalation and many more deaths.

    • Donald Trump’s War Crimes

      Just two and a half months into his presidency, Donald Trump has already distinguished himself as a war criminal. His administration is killing unusually large numbers of civilians, in violation of US and international law.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • Hacked legal data retains privacy status

      The Court of Appeal has ruled that restricted legal documents posted on the WikiLeaks website do not lose their confidential status.

      To rule otherwise would be to encourage hacking and pilferage of such material, it said.

      The apex court was clarifying the issue in its ruling in favour of a company, which had sought to expunge confidential e-mails culled from WikiLeaks by a former employee who was being sued by the firm. The ex-staff wanted to use the documents as part of his defence.

    • Kissinger and the CIA discussed ways to limit Congressional access to information regarding the Agency’s activities

      Leaks from the government and even Congress itself are nothing new. As shown by a declassified memo describing a meeting between Henry Kissinger and CIA Director William Colby, these concerns were among the very ones facing the White House, the Rockefeller Commission and the Church Committee in the mid-1970s

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • FLOOD-serv project: Public FLOOD Emergency and Awareness SERVice – 2nd Newsletter Issue now available!

      FLOOD-serv project (www.floodserv-project.eu) is an EU co-funded project which started in August 2016 and will be running for 36 months. It aims to provide a complete solution for flood awareness, response actions as well as education regarding flood risks. Through the use of different mobile technologies, the project will make information available in a transparent manner in order to increase the openness of ICT-based technology platforms in the public sector.

    • Koch Brothers’ Operatives Fill Top White House Positions, Ethics Forms Reveal

      If the billionaire Koch brothers turn to the White House for favors, they will see many familiar faces.

      Newly disclosed ethics forms reveal that a significant number of senior Trump staffers were previously employed by the sprawling network of hard-right and libertarian advocacy groups financed and controlled by Charles and David Koch, the conservative duo hyper-focused on entrenching Republican power, eliminating taxes, and slashing environmental and labor regulations.

      Some of the relationships were well-known. Marc Short, for instance, now Trump’s chief liaison to Congress, previously led Freedom Partners Chamber of Commerce, the dark money nonprofit used by the Koch brothers and their donor cohort to dispense money to allied groups. Freedom Partners, which maintains an affiliate Super PAC, was at the center of the Kochs’ $750 million election effort during the campaign last year.

    • The Antarctic Ice Shelf Is Breaking Up–and USA Today Tells Us to ‘Chill Out’

      The headline over USA Today‘s story (4/4/17) about an Antarctic ice shelf threatening to break off into an iceberg the size of Delaware: “Chill Out: Antarctic Iceberg Still Holding On.”

      “Chill out,” get it? Because it’s Antarctica.

    • Abuse of Animals Exported from EU

      An investigation conducted by an Australian animals rights charity, Animals International, has revealed that live exported animals from European Union (EU) countries have been facing severe abuse. Undercover videos show EU cattle and sheep being beaten, given electric shocks, and inhumanely slaughtered at destinations in Turkey and Middle East. These actions clearly breach EU laws for treatment and keeping of livestock. European legislation states that exported animals must be given a certain standard of care throughout their entire journey, and animal handlers are directed to perform their job without using methods that may instill unnecessary fear or suffering in the animals. However, European legislation only covers the animals until they are delivered to their final destinations. Essentially, there are no rules governing the end of the animals’ lives. The Animals International investigation tracked livestock exported from the EU to destinations in Croatia and six Middle Eastern nations. As Luke Dale-Harris reported in the Guardian, “The footage shows cattle and sheep from France, Romania and Lithuania kicking and flailing violently as their throats are crudely cut or sawed at repeatedly, often in crowded street markets and run-down abattoirs.”

  • Finance

    • Clean Brexit, Dirty Brexit: Is this the last exit before armageddon?

      Clean Brexit or Dirty Brexit. This is the choice we now face. The choice we make will have profound consequences not just for the UK, but for the rest of the world. Consequences lasting generations.

      Rutland is home to “picture postcard cottages” and quaint towns brimming with antique shops and local galleries. It is Britain’s smallest county and its motto since 1950 has been Multum in Parvo, “much in little”. It does have a castle. And a population of 38,000 people.

      This is fewer than the number of people who die each year in Britain because of outdoor air pollution, according a report by the Royal College of Physicians (RCP). Pollution is closely associated with “heart disease, diabetes, obesity and changes linked to dementia”.

    • How We Examined Racial Discrimination in Auto Insurance Prices
    • Chicago Area Disparities in Car Insurance Premiums

      Some car insurers charge higher premiums in Chicago’s minority neighborhoods than in predominantly white neighborhoods with similar insurance losses. The areas outlined in black are more than 50 percent minority. Many insurers charge the same premiums throughout Chicago, but quote higher prices than in suburbs with similar risk.

    • Minority Neighborhoods Pay Higher Car Insurance Premiums Than White Areas With the Same Risk

      Our analysis of premiums and payouts in California, Illinois, Texas and Missouri shows that some major insurers charge minority neighborhoods as much as 30 percent more than other areas with similar accident costs.

    • Talking About My Generation–So We Don’t Have to Talk About the Rich

      The main economic story of the last four decades is the massive upward redistribution of income that has taken place. The top 1 percent’s share of national income has more than doubled over this period, from roughly 10 percent in the late 1970s to over 20 percent today. And this is primarily a before-tax income story: The rich have used their control over the levers of economic power to ensure that an ever-larger share of the country’s wealth goes into their pockets. (Yes, this is the topic of my book, Rigged.) (It’s free.)

    • Aging Populations Are Not a Crisis — Capitalism Is

      Simply put, the lives of young people are intimately tied to the health and well-being of older adults. That is, social expenditure at the beginning and end of life makes for greater social stability for all.

    • Working Women, Your Paycheck Has Been Trapped in a Time Warp

      Although spring is in the air and we are well into 2017, if you’re a woman, your paycheck is stuck in time, specifically at December 31, 2016. That’s because women — on average — earn just 80 percent of what men make, meaning that they must work until today, April 4, 2017, to earn what men earned by December 31, 2016.

    • Restaurant Chain Settles Age Bias Case for $12 Million

      Texas Roadhouse has agreed to settle an age discrimination lawsuit by the government that accused the national steakhouse chain of labeling workers over 40 such things as “Old N’ Chubby” and rejecting them for jobs where customers see them.

      In a consent decree with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the company denied wrongdoing, but agreed to pay $12 million to be distributed to older workers who were denied jobs, as well as to have the chain’s hiring practices monitored for almost four years.

    • Investigation Finds IRS Seized Millions Of Dollars From Innocent Individuals And Business Owners

      The IRS’s Inspector General has confirmed what many of its victims have known all along: the Criminal Investigations’ asset forfeiture program isn’t really for “disrupting criminal enterprises.” It’s for taking money from innocent people.

      The Treasury Inspector General for the Tax Administration (TIGTA) took a look at forfeitures tied to the IRS’s so-called “structuring” cases. If you deposit more than $10,000 into a bank account, the IRS is notified and you, the depositor, have extra paperwork to fill out. This fulfills IRS reporting requirements and is generally a headache for the depositor and the bank.

      If you deposit less than $10,000 in cash, it’s perfectly legal. Do it often enough and the IRS starts to believe your cash deposits are the product of criminal activity. Even if you never have enough on hand to clear the $10,000 mark with a single deposit, a string of smaller deposits makes the IRS suspicious IRS’s eyeballs turn into dollar signs.

    • UNCTAD Electronic Commerce Week: Exploring How All Can Benefit

      Later this month, the third edition of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development week dedicated to electronic commerce will take place. With a value estimated at US$22 trillion globally, e-commerce is booming for business, but mostly still escaping developing countries.

      Speaking at a press briefing today, Torbjörn Fredriksson, chief of the UNCTAD ICT Analysis Section, Division on Technology and Logistics, said this year’s theme, “Towards Inclusive E-Commerce” is focused on ways to get more developing countries to seize opportunities offered by ecommerce and how they can tackle hurdles on the way to that integration.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • The GOP Has Declared War on Democracy
    • Booting of Stephen Bannon from NSC a McMaster stroke from Donald Trump’s NSA chief

      The security reshuffle saw senior military and intelligence officials reinstated to the NCS after they had been bumped at the time of Bannon’s appointment in the early days of the administration. It was read through two prisms – new Trump National Security Adviser, US Army Lieutenant General HR McMaster is asserting himself; and after 75 days of administration chaos, when push comes to shove, Trump can be convinced to reshuffle even his closest aides.

    • The Rich Line Up at the White House ATM

      Some of the latest hooey uttered by White House press secretary Sean Spicer — the man from whom a seemingly bottomless wellspring of hooey flows — was his pronouncement the other day that having so many fabulously wealthy men and women working in the White House is a good and wondrous thing.

      “The president has brought a lot of people into this administration, and this White House in particular, who have been very blessed and very successful by this country, and have given up a lot to come into government by setting aside a lot of assets,” Spicer said.

    • Right-Wing Billionaires Are Buying Themselves a New Constitution

      Days before the first debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, as protests at Standing Rock intensified and the costliest wildfire in United States history burned across Big Sur, some 150 current and former state legislators gathered in Colonial Williamsburg for a weekend of role play—to debate amendments to the U.S. constitution. The event was led by Ken Ivory, a state representative from Utah. “Like air in a tire, gas will expand to fill the space that is given to it. Government, like that, expands to the limit that it’s checked. Left unchecked, government expands limitlessly,” he told those gathered before him, according to a video later posted on YouTube. Addressing them for the last time, after several days of debate that culminated in passing three proposed (fake) amendments, he said, “It’s time for us to be leaders among leaders, to take this back, this spirit that we’ve felt—the beauty of self-governance.”

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • London Police Ink Shadowy Deal with Industry on Website Takedowns

      One of the other reasons why websites can find themselves losing payment services is if they are accused of being associated with the sale of goods that infringe copyright, patents, or trademarks. One program used to accomplish this is a shadowy agreement between the payment processors and the private International AntiCounterfeiting Coalition (IACC) called RogueBlock.

    • Europe’s Out-of-Control Censorship

      Germany has formally announced its draconian push towards censorship of social media. On March 14, Germany’s Justice Minister Heiko Maas announced the plan to formalize into law the “code of conduct”, which Germany pressed upon Facebook, Twitter and YouTube in late 2015, and which included a pledge to delete “hate speech” from their websites within 24 hours.

      “This [draft law] sets out binding standards for the way operators of social networks deal with complaints and obliges them to delete criminal content,” Justice Minister Heiko Maas said in a statement announcing the planned legislation.

    • It happened! Cork conference overcomes academic censorship!

      It was originally scheduled in 2014 for the Britain’s Southampton University and was canceled after Zionists pressured university officials. It was briefly rescheduled once more in Southampton in response to outrage over the censorship only to be canceled once again. However, lead organizers, Oren Ben-Dor, James Bowen and George Bisharat did not give up. In the intervening months questions about the legitimacy of Israeli government actions only increased, and the original conference organizers were joined by more scholars and international legal experts determined to carry out a serious discussion about Palestine and international law.

    • The Real Free-Speech Threat

      There’s a lot of writing these days about the Left being oversensitive crybabies that can’t handle free speech. Students shutting down racists like Milo Yiannopoulos and Charles Murray at the University of California Berkeley and Middlebury in Vermont made headlines in the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, CNN, and Fox News.

      At the same time, liberals are also quick to (rightly) point their fingers at the Trump administration’s authoritarian tendencies — from threatening journalists with meritless libel suits to banning them from White House press conferences.

      But liberal institutions have hardly been open to those who challenge established orthodoxies. While universities often decry protests by their own students, they’ve shown an uncanny openness to certain outside third parties influencing hiring decisions and classroom curricula.

    • IoT garage door opener maker bricks customer’s product after bad review

      Grisak then responded by bricking Martin’s product remotely


      Your unit ID 2f0036… will be denied server connection.

    • Media censorship is morally wrong and harmful: Tibet leader to China

      Calling censorship of media is morally wrong and harmful, the spiritual leader of Tibet, His Holiness the Dalai Lama Thursday said, “the 1.3 billion Chinese people have every right to know the reality.”

      While responding to reporters in India’s state of Arunachal Pradesh, on April 6, 2017, His Holiness called China an authoritarian country. “Nine years with Chinese communist, sometimes I express His Holiness the Dalai Lama jokingly said, “During this period, I have learned how to practice hypocrisy. Some system is sort of totalitarian, and authoritarian system, and no proper freedom.”

    • Germany Willing to Fine U.S. Companies to Censor What People Say Online
    • Social media firms faces huge hate speech fines in Germany
    • Trump should speak out against Europe’s effort to suppress free speech
    • German cabinet agrees to fine social media over hate speech
    • You have the right to feel offended, and we have the right to offend
  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • State Appeals Court Says There’s An Expectation Of Privacy In Vehicle Data Recorders

      An interesting decision has been reached by the Florida Appeals Court as to Fourth Amendment protections for vehicle “black boxes.” The black boxes — which are a mandatory requirement in new vehicles — record a variety of data in the event of a crash. (h/t FourthAmendment.com)

      Charles Worsham Jr. was the driver in a crash in which his passenger was killed. His vehicle was seized and impounded by police. Twelve days later, police accessed the data in the black box without obtaining a warrant. Worsham challenged the lawfulness of the warrantless search. The police maintained the black box was full of third-party records which required no warrant or consent from the vehicle’s owner.

      The court sees the issue differently. In a relative rarity, the state Appeals Court decides [PDF] to get out ahead of the issue, rather than wait for precedential decisions to trickle down from the federal courts. It looks at the data harvested by the black box and suggests the amount gathered will only increase in the coming years. Rather than wait until then to make a call on the Fourth Amendment merits, it draws the line now.

    • Twitter Sues Homeland Security Over Attempt To Unmask ‘Alt’ Immigration Twitter Account

      If you can’t read that, it’s an excerpt from an email saying that “this has become a very sensitive issue, especially since the President has gotten directly involved and contacted Acting Director Mike Reynolds concerned about one of the images…”

      It appears that other parts of the government are also deeply concerned with unmasking who’s involved in these things. Today, Twitter sued the US government because the Department of Homeland Security and its Customs & Border Protection division have apparently been trying to unmask the operator of the @ALT_uscis account, which claims to be run by people working for US Citizenship and Immigration Service presenting the “rogue” view on immigration issues.

    • Court Strikes Probation Restrictions Banning Teen From Using Encryption, Accessing Internet For Personal Reasons

      The Appeals Court of California has examined a set of release restrictions imposed on a teen convicted of minor sodomy against his girlfriend. The lower court — realizing it was being asked to step in and act as a proxy parent for the teen’s internet use — handed down a lengthy list of restrictions supposedly aimed at keeping the teen from committing further criminal acts. This included several restrictions on the teen’s internet use, for reasons only apparent to the lower court. (h/t Volokh Conspiracy)

      Fortunately, the Appeals Court has struck many of these restrictions, finding most of them overly-broad at best, and unreasonably (and unconstitutionally) restricting at worst. Most of these seem to have stemmed from the teen’s admission that he masturbated to internet porn once a week — something that could be said for a great many US citizens of many ages. That the court connected this to the crime committed appears to be the result of a prudish mindset: one that still believes access to pornography leads to criminal sexual acts, despite a great deal of evidence to the contrary.

    • Internet Activists Plot 2018 Electoral Revenge Against Republican Privacy Sellouts

      President Trump and his Republican allies in Congress recently rammed through legislation allowing broadband giants like Comcast, Verizon and AT&T to sell private consumer data to the highest bidder without asking for user permission.

      Now, furious open internet advocates are developing political strategies and street-level tactics designed to hold Republicans accountable in the 2018 midterm elections for what privacy watchdogs are calling one of the most brazen corporate giveaways in recent US history.

      Consumer advocates know that the privacy rollback—which eliminates the Federal Communications Commission’s landmark 2016 broadband protections—is extremely unpopular with the American people. And they’re not going to let voters forget how more than 200 GOP lawmakers sold out consumer privacy to the nation’s largest internet service providers.

    • If Facebook Becomes The Internet’s Authentication System, Can Citizen Scores Around The World Be Far Behind?

      One of the reasons the digital world is so exciting — and so attractive to startups and investors — is that network effects help companies to grow quickly, until they end up with what amounts to a monopoly in a sector. A particularly powerful monopoly that is exercising people at the moment is Facebook, and for multiple reasons. Its huge user base is making it so attractive to advertisers that traditional publishers are badly impacted. Another issue is that its reach is so great that it is hard to stop so-called “fake news” from being shared rapidly and widely across the social network, with potentially serious real-world effects.

      But there’s a third aspect, so far little remarked upon, that is brought out well in a post by Jason Ditzian on The Bold Italic site. For the last decade, he’s been a keen user of City CarShare, a nonprofit car-sharing service with vehicle stations around the Bay Area.

    • They are spying on us and we know it

      Instant messaging has become the main digital tool for social and political activism.


      Freedom of expression is one of the pillars of modern democracy, and the right to the privacy of our communications is a part of it. During the last century it was said that, in some dictatorships, they opened letters with steam – so that the peeping could go unnoticed -, they read the contents – to detect divergent thinking -, they closed the envelopes again, and let the letters reach their addressees – to avoid suspicions.

      Today, when we send a message from the simulated intimacy our electronic devices give us, it is traced by a complex communication intercepting system. The root cause of the problem is this: the internet is a network designed for sharing information which, at the time it was created, was not intended for its current use – nor was the problem of privacy taken into account.

    • 3 ways to break your smartphone addiction and get back to work

      Recent research found that an average user touches their mobile phone 2,617 times a day and a heavy user swipes, taps, and clicks more than 5,000 times per day! That’s nearly three to four hours a day of lost productivity.

    • Data Privacy Shield: MEPs alarmed at undermining of privacy safeguards in the US

      New rules allowing the US National Security Agency (NSA) to share private data with other US agencies without court oversight, recent revelations about surveillance activities by a US electronic communications service provider and vacancies on US oversight bodies are among the concerns raised by MEPs in a resolution passed on Thursday.

    • Twitter balks at US demand to expose account condemning Trump policy

      The Customs and Border Protection agency, which is seeking to unmask the account holder, issued Twitter a summons (PDF), unsigned by a judge, citing a section of federal law granting border officials the power to investigate importation taxes. Twitter is refusing to unmask the account holder, saying the government is “abusing” its authority by making the demand without a legal basis.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Texas anti-masturbation bill moves closer to becoming law

      The Texas Democrat knows her bill has no hope of becoming law, and has introduced it to satirise how women have been affected by targeted healthcare legislation in her state, particularly relating to abortion.

    • Supreme Court Picks: Senate Showdown Over Neil Gorsuch
    • ‘Building the Wall’: Staging America’s Worst Immigration Nightmare

      As the 2016 presidential campaign rolled to a close, prize-winning playwright Robert Schenkkan was disgusted by the diminished standards that had come to define the electoral process.

      “I felt that regardless of who got elected, lines had been crossed, and those historical agreements, spoken and unspoken, about our two-party system, had been irretrievably damaged over the course of the election,” Schenkkan told Truthdig. “[There was] a coarsening of public discourse, the elimination of even a modicum of respect. And reasoned debate had been tossed in favor of a carnival-like click-bait.”

      Schenkkan’s disgust inspired his new play, “Building the Wall,” which he wrote during seven feverish days in late October. The play currently is running at The Fountain Theatre in Hollywood and will roll out across the country in coming weeks.

    • Minnesota is Trying to Crush Black Lives Movement Highway Protests, A Tactic Activists Have Used for Decades

      Minnesota’s House of Representatives voted on Monday to stiffen penalties for protesters who block traffic on highways and other roadways. The move was seen as a response to recent highway blockades in the state utilized by Black Lives movement demonstrators to protest the police shooting of unarmed African-American men.

      The provision, which was part of a public safety package, would make blockading a highway a “gross misdemeanor” punishable by up to a $3,000 fine and up to a year in jail. Dissenting Democratic lawmakers tried to strip the provision from the bill, but failed in a 56-75, mostly party-line vote.

    • Ken Livingstone: Stubborn and Wrong, But Not Anti-Semitic

      I quite genuinely have no idea whether the point Livingstone makes is historically true, and if so how fringe or not were the elements involved in the relationship. But it is not relevant. It would be surprising if there did not, in the very early stages of Nazi power, appear to a few fringe elements to be some room to explore common interests between those who wanted Jews to leave Germany, and those who wanted to establish a Jewish homeland in the Middle East. Everyone was trying to accommodate to the difficult fact of Nazi power. The British royal family and aristocracy, the Pope, Northcliffe and his Daily Mail, David Lloyd George, pretty well all of corporate Germany and, I even admit, a very few isolated Scottish nationalists, failed at some stages to realise or to respond correctly to the evil of Nazism and sought various ways to use Nazi Germany to forward their own interests. Some of these were very culpable. You can find attempts on that difficult spectrum from accommodation to collaboration in various forms everywhere, in almost every community.

      I do not want to see the apartheid state of Israel continue in its current form, though as with apartheid South Africa I wish to see a solution to unifying Palestine that does not involve further forced movement of any population. But I do not in any sense accept a historically important link between Israel and the Nazis, except in the obvious sense that revulsion at the Holocaust created the conditions for international acceptance of the violent establishment of Israel. Picking at the oddities of history on such a sensitive subject is mischievous.


      I therefore think that Livingstone was wrong to blunder into discussing Hitler’s alleged early support for Zionism, and much more wrong not to then realise this was a mistake and to apologise. I do not however believe that in any sense his motivation was personal anti-Semitism, and I do not believe that anybody believes he is genuinely somebody who dislikes Jewish people.

    • People Power Activists Are Already Confronting the Powers That Be From Coast to Coast and Demanding Freedom Cities

      Three weeks ago, people from across the country tuned in on a Saturday night as the ACLU kicked off a new grassroots mobilization program called People Power, which laid out a new strategy and vision for resisting the Trump administration’s worst abuses of our freedoms. We wanted people to do more than donate and march — we wanted them to organize in their communities, meet with local law enforcement officials, and change local policies to establish Freedom Cities where immigrants and Muslims would be better protected from the Trump administration’s attempts to trample on civil liberties.

    • Is Jeff Sessions’ Justice Department Trying to Kill Police Reform in Baltimore?

      Last year, in the wake of the killing of Freddie Gray, the Justice Department conducted an in-depth pattern-and-practice investigation of the Baltimore Police Department and released stunning findings documenting the brutal, longstanding, and unconstitutional mistreatment of city residents at the hands of police. Soon after, the Justice Department and the city of Baltimore negotiated a consent decree, whereby the city agreed to a federal court order requiring a detailed police reform process. Throughout, the BPD and the city’s leadership have repeatedly stated that without immediate and strong reforms, the mostly Black and brown communities most brutalized by police have no reason to trust police — undermining public safety.

    • Amos Yee not released from detention 2 weeks after being granted asylum

      Perpetually detained Singaporean teenager Amos Yee is still detained in the United States despite being granted asylum two weeks ago.

      Human Rights Watch (HRW) and PEN America have asked the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials to release supposedly free man Amos Yee immediately.

      In a press release today, HRW said that Yee was granted asylum by a US immigration judge on March 24 but remains in ICE custody.

    • First Family’s Needs Strain Secret Service

      # or can they?

      “The question that has to be asked is, what is the alternative?” Mr. Basham said. “You can’t just step back and say it costs too much to protect these people.”

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • FCC Kills Charter Merger Condition That Would Have Forced ISPs To Compete

      While FCC boss Ajit Pai has repeatedly claimed his top priority while running the FCC is eliminating the digital divide, his behavior in just the first few months of his term has made that claim utterly and indisuptably laughable. It doesn’t take a sociology degree to realize that Pai’s recent decisions to protect prison phone monopolies, protect the cable box monopoly, undermine efforts to bring broadband to the poor and dismantle net neutrality solely help one particular constituency: the telecom sector’s biggest, wealthiest, and most powerful providers.

      And while repealing a previous FCC’s policies isn’t entirely new or unexpected (especially from somebody with Pai’s extremely mono/duopoly friendly voting record), Pai has been pushing his purview even further. Last week the FCC boss announced that he’d even begun stripping away at the conditions attached to Charter’s $79 billion acquisition of Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks.

    • FCC head Ajit Pai reportedly outlines plans to roll back net neutrality rules
    • Roku has hired a team of lobbyists as it gears up for a net neutrality fight

      For Roku and others in the business, an end to the Obama-era protections could make it harder — or, in some cases, more expensive — to offer content or services to customers at top download speeds.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Copyrights

      • Italian Court Says Due Process Isn’t Necessary For Blocking Sites Over Copyright Infringement

        A years-long fight in Italy between copyright rightsholders (chiefly Hollywood) and consumer groups looking to protect Italian citizens, took a dark turn recently. If you aren’t already aware, the Italian government put in place a delightful regulation in 2014 giving the Authority for Comunications Guarantees (AGCOM) the authority to simply block websites deemed infringing outright, without the need for such pesky things as court cases or trials. Consumer groups immediately challenged the regulation, stating that it violated the Italian constitution, specifically suggesting that giving a government body the authority to unilaterally block websites without any sort of judicial review was a violation of the exercise of freedom of expression and economic initiative. Given exactly how often demonized websites are demonstrated to have perfectly legitimate uses, not to mention how absolutely terrible every government everywhere seems to be in understanding and protecting things like Fair Use, it’s an easy argument to understand.

        Unfortunately, an administrative court in Italy has chosen to take itself out of the judicial review business when it comes to site-blocking.

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