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Links 15/2/2017: Linux 4.9.10 and Linux 4.4.49

Posted in News Roundup at 7:30 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish



  • 7 features Linux could borrow from other systems

    Linux (or, GNU/Linux, if you prefer) distributions are absolutely amazing—stable, fast, flexible. Your average Linux-based system is a veritable powerhouse of functionality—a tour de force of what computers can accomplish. But from time to time, other operating systems have some pretty great ideas. Here are seven of my personal favorites that Linux distributions might want to consider “borrowing.” Hint, hint. Nudge, nudge.

  • Desktop

    • A musician’s transition from distro to distro

      I got news about Ubuntu Studio in 2007, and moved to it. As a musician and sound technician, I had used a digital Portastudio to record and mix because I enjoyed turning actual knobs when mixing. I used Ubuntu Studio for mastering in Audacity before I had the chance to upgrade all my studio equipment with a new laptop and sound card in 2010. I did a lot of research to get the best USB sound card and compatible laptop for recording. I was quite sad when I realized that even though it looked good on paper, everything didn’t quite work well in reality. I could only get the card work on 16 bit in Linux, but in Windows it would record with 24 bit and 96 KHz. I felt frustrated, I was back to a dual boot life.

      Then Ubuntu Studio 12.10 was released and my sound card and laptop finally played nicely together. What a joy! However, much had changed in my life with family and work, and I wouldn’t be doing much recording at home for quite some time. Instead I found out I could contribute to open source without being a programmer, which had never occurred to me before. Because I had so much joy and benefit from open source I wanted to give something back. I had participated in the Ubuntu Forums for a while and reached out to the Ubuntu Studio team.

      For a few years, I would contribute when I could with the little time I had available between family, work, sleep, and all the other things I wanted to dabble within the 24 hours available each day.

    • Why Munich should stick with Linux

      Once more, the drums are beating for Munich to turn its back on Linux and return to Windows. Oh please! Get a grip!

      A Munich administrative and personnel committee recommended an immediate start to the creation of a uniform, Windows 10-based client architecture that can be deployed across the council by the end of 2020.

    • Statement by The Document Foundation about the upcoming discussion at the City of Munich to step back to Windows and MS Office

      The Document Foundation is an independent, charitable entity and the home of LibreOffice. We have followed the developments in Munich with great concerns and like to express our disappointment to see a minority of politicians apparently ignoring the expert advice for which they’ve sought.

      Rumours of the City of Munich returning to Microsoft Windows and Microsoft Office have been regularly leaking since the election of Mayor Dieter Reiter, who was described as a “Microsoft fan” when interviewed by StadtBild magazine in 2014.


      In spite of the suggestions, on Wednesday, February 15, Munich City Council will discuss a proposal – filed by a minority of city councillors – to install Windows 10 and MS Office 2016 on all workstations by 2020. This would cost taxpayers close to 90 million euro over the next six years, with a 35% aggravation over the 66 million euro figure suggested by Accenture.


      Based on the above considerations, The Document Foundation thinks that the proposal to be discussed on Wednesday, February 15, represents a significant step backwards for the City of Munich, with a substantial increase in expenditure, an unknown amount of hidden cost related to interoperability, and a questionable usage of taxpayers money.

    • TDF On Munich

      Beware politicians promising solutions to nonexistent problems. Read TDF’s post. Read the report from Accenture, M$’s “partner”. Even Accenture doesn’t believe the politicians’ solution. Monopoly is never the solution to diverse problems. Accenture advocates using web-applications. That provides independence from the OS and GNU/Linux would work for them. Sigh. Politics, the game that never ends.

    • Stay with Free Software, City of Munich!

      The city of Munich is currently considering a move away from Free Software back to Microsoft products. We consider this to be a mistake and urge the decision makers to reconsider.

      For many years now the City of Munich has been using a mix of software by KDE, LibreOffice and Ubuntu, among others. Mayor Dieter Reiter (a self-proclaimed Microsoft-fan who helped Microsoft move offices to Munich) asked Accenture (a Microsoft partner) to produce a report about the situation of the City of Munich’s IT infrastructure. That resulted in a 450-page document. This report is now being misused to push for a move away from Free Software. However the main issues listed in the report were identified to be organizational ones and not related to Free Software operating systems and applications.


      The City of Munich has always been a poster child of Free Software in public administrations. It is a showcase of what can be done with Free Software in this setting. The step back by the City of Munich from Free Software would therefore not just be a blow for this particular deployment but also have more far-reaching effects into other similar deployments.

    • Munich’s great Linux desktop initiative may end [Ed: Misleading summary - if not altogether factually incorrect - from Microsoft Peter and now Andy Patrizio. Is Microsoft giving them marching orders? Longtime Microsoft propagandist Patrizio helps his bosses with Munich FUD.]
    • Munich May Ditch Linux Desktops For Windows [Ed: “End of an era,” it says. No. It’s not. It hasn’t even been decided yet. Old tactics again…]
    • Should you run Linux without a desktop environment?

      One of the best things about Linux is that there is a wide variety of desktop environments available to choose from for your computer. But not everybody uses a desktop environment like GNOME, Unity, etc. Some folks prefer to skip them entirely, for various reasons.

      A redditor recently asked about Linux users who skip desktop environments, and he got some interesting answers.

  • Audiocasts/Shows

  • Kernel Space

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • Lumina Adds Luster to Linux Desktop

      The Lumina Desktop Environment desktop is a standout in the crowded field of Linux graphical user interface choices.

      Lumina is a compact, lightweight, XDG-compliant graphical desktop environment developed from scratch. Its focus is on giving users a streamlined, efficient work environment with minimal system overhead.

      Lumina was first developed for the BSD family of operating systems (such as FreeBSD and TrueOS). It is gaining interest among Linux users, having been introduced for a growing number of Linux distros.

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

      • Qt 5.5.1-2 for Wind River® VxWorks® Real-Time Operating System Released

        The Qt 5.5.1-2 release for VxWorks Real-Time Operating System (RTOS) release supports the new VxWorks 7 release SR 0480 (September 2016) on ARM-v7 with updates in the Qt Base, Qt Declarative and Qt Quick Controls modules. For full list of changes, please see the change log.

      • KDE Plasma 5.9.2 Desktop Rolls Out on Valentine’s Day with Multiple Bug Fixes

        It’s Valentine’s Day, and to celebrate this important event, the KDE developers demonstrate their love for KDE Plasma users by bringing them a new maintenance update for the KDE Plasma 5.9 desktop environment.

        Yes, we’re talking about KDE Plasma 5.9.2, the second point release to the latest KDE Plasma 5.9 desktop, which launched just two weeks ago for various GNU/Linux distributions, including KDE Neon and Arch Linux. Because of the new, fast release cycle, you see this new version just one week after the first update, namely KDE Plasma 5.9.1.

      • An Early Qt 5.9 Alpha Snapshot: Qt 5.9 Packing A Ton Of Features

        While Qt 5.8 was released less than one month ago, the Qt 5.9 Alpha release is on approach for landing.

        Jani Heikkinen today announced the first Qt 5.9 Alpha snapshot. This isn’t the formal Qt 5.9 Alpha release, but will become the official Alpha source package if there isn’t anything important that’s missing. Hit up that mailing list link if you are interested in testing.

      • First Qt 5.9 alpha snapshot available
      • KDE’s Plasma Discover Package Manager to Support Flatpak Packages and Repos

        It looks to us like Flatpak, the open-source application sandboxing and distribution framework for GNU/Linux systems is on its way to becoming the norm on most distributions.

        Not only that GNOME Software offers support for Flatpak runtimes, but it appears that KDE’s Plasma Discover graphical package manager will do too, as KDE developer Jan Grulich reports today on the upcoming availability of a Flatpak backend to implement support for handling Flatpak packages and repositories in the app.

      • KDE Discover flatpak backend

        As some of you might already know, I’ve been focusing lately on Flatpak and its integration into KDE. You can check my work on Flatpak KDE portals, which are being currently included in our KDE runtimes and repositories were migrated to KDE git so there has been made some progress since last time I talked about them. Recently I started looking into adding Flatpak support to KDE Discover, to have same support for Flatpak as Gnome has with gnome-software. From the begining it was a nightmare for me as I have never used any glib based library so that slowed me down little bit. I also went through gnome-software code to understand how flatpak integration is done there to get some inspiration. Things went well since then and I have already quite nice stuff to share with you. We currently support most common functionality, like listing available/installed flatpak applications in Discover with possibilities to install/remove/update and of course launch them. We also support flatpak bundles and flatpakref files already.

      • KDE Discover Making Progress With Flatpak Support

        KDE developer Jan Grulich already tackled Flatpak KDE portals support and one of his latest support has been integrating a Flatpak back-end into KDE Discover.

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK

      • Nautilus 3.24 File Manager Enters Beta, Adds New Keyboard Shortcuts and Features

        We already told you the other day when we reported the availability of new development releases of GNOME Software and GTK+ that the GNOME developers are currently preparing to unleash the first Beta version of the GNOME 3.24 desktop.

        Since yesterday, a lot more apps and core components from the GNOME Stack have appeared on the project’s FTP servers, including the Nautilus file manager, which is used by default in numerous Linux-based operating systems that use the GNOME Stack, including Ubuntu, Fedora Workstation, Solus, and many others.

      • GNOME Calendar App to Finally Add a Week View in GNOME 3.24, Flatpak Support

        As part of the soon-to-be-released GNOME 3.24 Beta version, due later today or by the end of the week, the GNOME Calendar applications received its first development release.

        We’ve already told you that the GNOME developers are working hard these days to give us the first Beta preview of the upcoming GNOME 3.24 desktop environment, due for release on March 22, and we recommend reading our in-depth stories about what’s coming new in Nautilus (Files), GTK+ 4, and GNOME Software components.

      • GParted 0.28 Begins Read-Write LUKS Encrypted File-System Support

        For those using GParted as a way to visually manage your Linux disk partitions/file-systems, GParted 0.28 was released as a Valentine’s Day present for Linux users.

        The primary change with GParted 0.28 is that it adds partial read-write support for LUKS-encrypted file-systems. GParted 0.28 is now able to copy/resize/manipulate file-systems within LUKS volumes as well as moving closed LUKS sub-volumes. However, this GNOME Partition Editor isn’t yet able to create, open, or close LUKS encryption volumes.

      • GParted 0.28.0 Adds Partial Read/Write Support for LUKS Encrypted Filesystems

        Curtis Gedak announced today the general availability of GParted 0.28.0, a new stable update of the widely-used open-source partition editor for Linux-based operating systems.

        GParted 0.28.0 comes approximately four months after the release of GParted 0.27.0, and the most important feature it introduces is partial read/write support for LUKS (Linux Unified Key Setup) encrypted filesystems, allowing users to resize or copy a file system enclosed in a LUKS volume. Additionally, it allows the move of closed LUKS volumes.

      • Watch: the New, Revamped Users Panel of the GNOME 3.24 Desktop Environment

        As we reported last year, the upcoming GNOME 3.24 desktop environment will come with a revamped GNOME Control Center component, and GNOME developer Felipe Borges now gives us a sneak peek into the new Users panel.

        GNOME Control Center’s Users panel got a new design recently, which represents the developers’ first attempt to move away from the old two-column panel and implement a single page concept, as you can see in the video attached below.

      • GTK+ 3.89.4 Released With More Vulkan Work, Wayland Fixes

        Matthias Clasen has issued the newest GTK4 development release with more feature work.

      • Dark Windows for Dark Firefox

        I recently set the Compact Dark theme as my default in Firefox. Since we don’t yet have Linux client-side window decorations yet (when is that happening??), it looks kind of bad in GNOME.

  • Distributions

  • Devices/Embedded

Free Software/Open Source

  • ONF, ON.Lab launch Open Innovation Pipeline
  • A Networking Open Source Innovation Pipeline Can Accelerate Businesses
  • Open Networking Foundation Unveils New Open Innovation Pipeline to Transform Open Networking
  • Open Networking Foundation Announces Restructuring of Board of Directors to Align the Missions of ONF and ON.Lab
  • Open Source Accessibility Tools Help Streamline Inclusive Development

    IBM is embarking on a new era of open source accessibility by releasing tooling, samples and design patterns to help streamline the development of inclusive web and mobile applications.

    IBM has released two new projects on the developerWorks/open community, AccProbe and Va11yS, to help alleviate accessibility roadblocks during the agile development process, strengthen the user experience by adhering to industry standards, and reduce costs by ensuring accessibility is done right from the beginning.

  • Software-Defined Storage Opens Up: 10 Projects to Know

    Throughout 2016, the SDS (Software-Defined Storage) category achieved many new milestones and became increasingly tied to successful cloud deployments. With SDS, organizations can manage policy-based provisioning and management of data storage independent of the underlying hardware. They can also deploy free and open source SDS solutions. Many people are familiar with Ceph and are leveraging it within their OpenStack deployments, but Ceph is far from the only relevant open source SDS project.

  • What Is Open Source Software?
  • Interview: Cloud Foundry on its 2017 awareness-raising plans for open source PaaS

    The Cloud Foundry was originally developed in-house at VMware before being handed over to EMC/VMware spin-off Pivotal Software, which, in February 2014, put in motion a plan to establish an open governance model for the PaaS. This, in turn, paved the way for the foundation to be established in January 2015.

  • Events

    • Third free, open source software conference begins at Oman’s SQU

      In an effort to localise information technology, a conference aiming at supporting free and open source software began on Tuesday.

      Activities of the 3rd Free and Open Source Software Conference began at the Sultan Qaboos University (SQU) on Tuesday under the patronage of Dr. Ali bin Mas’oud Al Sunaidi, Minister of Commerce and Industry.

    • SQU to host FOSSC-17 Oman on February 14 and 15 Join our daily free Newsletter
    • Copyleft in Commerce.

      How GPLv3 keeps Samba relevant in the marketplace

    • KiCad Project Status

      This talk will discuss the status of the current stable version 5 release of KiCad and road map for the version 6 release of KiCad.

    • Control Plane Engineering Is Key for Big Kubernetes Deployments

      If you’re interested in running a complex Kubernetes system across several different cloud environments, you should check out what Bob Wise and his team at Samsung SDS call “Control Plane Engineering.”

      Wise, during his keynote at CloudNativeCon last year, explained the concept of building a system that sits on top of the server nodes to ensure better uptime and performance across multiple clouds, creates a deployment that’s easily scaled by the ClusterOps team, and covers long-running cluster requirements.

    • Intro to Control Plane Engineering by Bob Wise, Samsung SDS

      Large, high-performance and reliable Kubernetes clusters require engineering the control plane components for demands beyond the defaults. This talk covers the relationship between the various components that make up the Kubernetes control plane and how to design and size those components.

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • Try out Firefox on Wayland easily

        Today I finally managed to compile and run a Firefox version, which was patched to work on Wayland natively. To achieve this, I used the forked and enhanced Firefox version of the Red Hat developer Martin Stransky.

        For all those who are unaware of the Wayland project, it’s an succesor to the very old, but still common X display server for Linux operating systems. Compared to X, Wayland is a lot smaller in its code base, written from scratch, far more secure and build up on the newest 3D graphic driver stack. Unfortunately not all big Linux applications support it yet. The work on Wayland compatibility for Firefox was already requested some years ago and it was not moving forward very fast. Fortunately, some days ago it looks like the first patches have been merged into master.

      • It’s Now Easier Trying Firefox Wayland Support On Arch Linux & Flatpak Distributions

        Jonas Heinrich took to a Firefox branch maintained by Red Hat developer Martin Stransky to getting it working on Arch Linux, getting the Firefox build into an AUR repository, and also producing a Flatpak build of the Wayland-patched Firefox.

        With his firefox-wayland-git package via AUR, Firefox can run without any usage of XWayland. This is as upstream Firefox continues getting closer to landing all of the Wayland support upstream so it will be an out-of-the-box experience in the hopefully not too distant future.

  • Databases

    • RethinkDB Resurfaces With Linux Foundation

      The Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF) has bought the source code to the recently mothballed RethinkDB NoSQL JSON database. It relicensed the code under the Apache License, and contributed it to The Linux Foundation.

      As we reported recently, the news was announced in October that after more than seven years of development, the company behind RethinkDB was shutting down, although RethinkDB and Horizon would continue to be available, distributed under open source licenses.

  • BSD


    • I love Free Software Day 2017

      In the Free Software society we exchange a lot of criticism. We write bug reports, tell others how they can improve the software, ask them for new features, and generally are not shy about criticising others. There is nothing wrong about that. It helps us to constantly improve. But sometimes we forget to show the hardworking people behind the software our appreciation.

    • GCC 7 To Have Better Test Coverage, Unit Testing

      Red Hat developer David Malcolm has shared the work he’s been doing on improving the GCC compiler’s internal testing to ensure the GNU Compiler Collection is working as anticipated and is generating correct code.

      GCC 7 has many new features while Malcom’s focus recently has been improving GCC’s own test suite to ensure the quality and correctness of the code being generated.

  • Public Services/Government

    • Award for Latvian Archives’ use of open source

      The Latvian National Archives have won the “Most Open Organisation” award for their extensive use of free and open source software for their online audiovisual archive. The system combines (Red Hat) Linux servers, the Apache web server, and content management system Drupal to offer access to Latvian documentaries, newsreels, cartoons and feature films from 1910 to the present day.

  • Licensing/Legal

    • How and Why to do Open Source Compliance Training at Your Company

      Education and communication are two essential building blocks in any open source software compliance program. Both help ensure that employees, as well as others outside the organization, possess a good understanding of the organization’s policies governing the use of open source software.

      Employee training serves as a venue to publicize and promote the compliance policy and processes within the organization and to foster a culture of compliance.

  • Programming/Development

    • Vala is not a Programming Language

      Vala provides you a way to write C/GObject/GInterface code using a different syntax. Vala doesn’t require to develop a “core library” in order to provide its features. Its “compiler” is not a compiler, is a C code generator.

      Vala can’t be compared with Rust, Go, Python, Java or C#, all of them provide their own “core library” in order to provide most of their features, allows you to create modules (like a library) to extend the language for their users consume. Their core generally is written in C, for very basic features, but almost in the language itself.

    • Vala 1.0?

      Yes is time to consider a Vala 1.0 release. Vala 0.34 code generator and bindings support LTS versions of GTK+ 3.22 and GLib 2.50. Next stable version of GTK+ will be 4.0 and GLib 2.x, but they have to traverse through 3.9x versions and any GLib 2.x on the way. Reaching that point we can consider Vala 2.0 release.

    • Using Scripting Languages in IoT: Challenges and Approaches

      Scripting languages (aka Very High-Level Languages or VHLLs), such as Python, PHP, and JavaScript are commonly used in desktop, server, and web development. And, their powerful built-in functionality lets you develop small useful applications with little time and effort, says Paul Sokolovsky, IoT engineer at Linaro. However, using VHLLs for deeply embedded development is a relatively recent twist in IoT.

    • Things Every Hacker Once Knew

      One fine day in January 2017 I was reminded of something I had half-noticed a few times over the previous decade. That is, younger hackers don’t know the bit structure of ASCII and the meaning of the odder control characters in it.

      This is knowledge every fledgling hacker used to absorb through their pores. It’s nobody’s fault this changed; the obsolescence of hardware terminals and the near-obsolescence of the RS-232 protocol is what did it. Tools generate culture; sometimes, when a tool becomes obsolete, a bit of cultural commonality quietly evaporates. It can be difficult to notice that this has happened.

      This document is a collection of facts about ASCII and related technologies, notably hardware serial terminals and RS-232 and modems. This is lore that was at one time near-universal and is no longer. It’s not likely to be directly useful today – until you trip over some piece of still-functioning technology where it’s relevant (like a GPS puck), or it makes sense of some old-fart war story. Even so, it’s good to know anyway, for cultural-literacy reasons.

    • Futhark: A Pure, Functional Language For GPU Computing

      Futhark was presented earlier this month at FOSDEM as a “purely functional array language” with its compiler able to “efficiently generate high-performance GPU code.”

      Futhark is a high-level, parallel-focused programming language that aims to compete with the performance of hand-written code targeting particular GPUs. Futhark hopes to be more portable across GPUs while tapping into the full GPU potential if you were writing finely-tuned code targeting a particular graphics processor. Futhark’s compiler currently translates this code into OpenCL for GPU execution, but I’m told by one of the attendees at FOSDEM for this event, Futhark is also working on an approach to turn their code into pure-OpenGL for execution on GPUs without OpenCL, CUDA, or Vulkan.

  • Standards/Consortia

    • [Older] Open Standards and Open Source in Telecom

      “Open standards” and “open source” are two terms that can often be confused. While regular readers of this blog are likely able to differentiate, for clarification’s sake, open source is the term used for software when the original source code is freely available and can also be redistributed and modified. But it doesn’t just reference access to the source code – distribution terms of open source software must comply with its own set of criteria.

      When telecommunications was in its infancy, standards were needed and established before any technology was released. As the development of new networks and technology grows, it will mean prototypes in open source, collaborative projects, which are challenges that we’ve discussed in a previous blog post. The development of new internet-enabled mobile devices and internet service providers have brought telecommunications to the forefront, as well as trends towards cooperation between the Open Standards and Open Source communities, as previously highlighted in our blog about the need for collaboration in mobile security.


  • Science

    • Justice Alito Declares “Carbon Dioxide Is Not a Pollutant” in a Candid, Confused Speech

      Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito delivered a fascinating keynote speech at the Claremont Institute’s 2017 annual dinner on Saturday night. Alito, who received a Statesmanship Award from the conservative think tank, devoted much of his address to criticizing his bêtes noires, including environmental regulation, affirmative action, the “media elite,” the European Union, and emergency contraceptives.

    • How algorithms (secretly) run the world

      When you browse online for a new pair of shoes, pick a movie to stream on Netflix or apply for a car loan, an algorithm likely has its word to say on the outcome.

      The complex mathematical formulas are playing a growing role in all walks of life: from detecting skin cancers to suggesting new Facebook friends, deciding who gets a job, how police resources are deployed, who gets insurance at what cost, or who is on a “no fly” list.


      O’Neil argues that while some algorithms may be helpful, others can be nefarious. In her 2016 book, “Weapons of Math Destruction,” she cites some troubling examples in the United States:

      - Public schools in Washington DC in 2010 fired more than 200 teachers—including several well-respected instructors—based on scores in an algorithmic formula which evaluated performance.

      - A man diagnosed with bipolar disorder was rejected for employment at seven major retailers after a third-party “personality” test deemed him a high risk based on its algorithmic classification.

      - Many jurisdictions are using “predictive policing” to shift resources to likely “hot spots.” O’Neill says that depending on how data is fed into the system, this could lead to discovery of more minor crimes and a “feedback loop” which stigmatizes poor communities.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Cancer Rates Are Dropping — But Not In Rural Appalachia

      Just over a year ago, Natasha Lucas, an agent for the University of Kentucky’s Owsley County Extension Office, needed a local lung cancer survivor to speak at a popular annual cancer awareness event in Booneville, Kentucky. But she had a devil of a time finding one. It took weeks to track someone down, but as sad as that was, it wasn’t surprising. When it comes to lung cancer, Lucas said matter-of-factly, “there are just very few survivors.”


      The Appalachian region technically comprises all or part of 13 states, according to the Appalachian Regional Commission: Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, Maryland, Mississippi, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia. However, cancer clusters are often concentrated in the center, or the heart of Appalachia: southwestern Virginia, eastern Kentucky and southern West Virginia. Researchers say the extraordinarily high cancer rates are the result of a perfect storm of unfortunate circumstances. “On the surface, it’s lifestyle factors,” said Nengliang Yao, who led the Virginia study. But there are also economic, social and environmental factors, he said. “There are layers of risk for people to die early from cancer.”

    • Flint seeks meeting with Gov. Snyder on state aid for water bills

      Flint Mayor Karen Weaver said Monday she expects to meet with Gov. Rick Snyder either late this week or early next week to discuss her unhappiness with last week’s news that state credits to help residents pay their water bills are scheduled to end Feb. 28.

      Weaver said the city received too little notice about the change and understood the credits would continue until the end of March.

      “We know that there’s money there,” Weaver said of the State of Michigan, citing a Rainy Day Fund that is projected under Snyder’s recent budget to grow to $1 billion in the next fiscal year.

      “It’s not as though they don’t have the money.”

    • Flint council may try to subpoena governor over ‘war’ on water credits

      The Flint City Council said it may attempt to subpoena state officials, including the governor, to answer questions about the discontinuation of water credits for city residents — a move one councilwoman called “war.”

      Flint City Council members, public officials and residents spoke out Monday, Feb. 13, against a recent move by Gov. Rick Snyder’s office to end the city’s water bill credits, saying the decision was unfair to the Flint community.

      “Gov. Snyder wants these people to pay for water that they feel is not safe to drink,” said Councilwoman Jackie Poplar. “This is war. This is war … there is money to cover these bills.”

    • Exotic trip planned? Packing antibiotics may mean bringing home superbugs

      Those bitten by the ‘travel bug’ risk getting another type of bug—the drug-resistant kind. But trying to fight off those bacteria with drugs may make things a whole lot worse.

      In a series of studies, Finnish researchers confirmed that those traveling to exotic locations—places with poor hygiene and free-flowing antibiotics—often bring home drug-resistant bacteria in their intestines (with or without symptoms). But the people who took antibiotics while exploring those locales came back with the most extensively drug-resistant cargo.

      The findings, published in the journal Travel Medicine and Infectious Disease, suggest that taking antibiotics while abroad may be far more dangerous than most travelers know. After all, it’s common for world explorers to preemptively pack antibiotics, such as ciprofloxacin, for common ailments, like travelers diarrhea, the authors note.

    • NHS: Seven times ministers have promised the health service will ‘go paperless’

      One of Jeremy Hunt’s first tasks when he became health secretary in 2012 was to set the NHS a challenge to ‘go paperless’ by April 2018. That meant that any crucial health information on patients would be available to staff across the health service ‘at the touch of a button’ within three years, according to Hunt.

      Despite committing more than £1 billion out of a £4 billion transformation programme towards achieving the target, the deadline was abandoned by the end of 2016. The cancellation was revealed when comments from House of Lords select committee on the Long Term Sustainability of the NHS were published in February 2017.

      His pledge was far from the first time that a minister had committed the NHS to ditching paper and using digital tools instead. It had initially promised as far back as 1992 – a whopping 25 years ago.

  • Security

    • Security updates for Tuesday
    • Experts worried about ransomware hitting critical infrastructure

      Expect ransomware to grow more aggressive in the coming years, including higher ransom payments and attempts to go beyond attacking data — by shutting down entire computer systems to utilities or factories.

      “I see no reason for ransomware to stop,” said Neil Jenkins, an official with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. “It’s shown to be effective.”

    • RSA 2017: SophosLabs report examines Top 10 Android malware
    • Re-thinking Web App Security

      The implications of storing your data locally are quite profound.

    • ASLR^CACHE Attack Defeats Address Space Layout Randomization

      Researchers from VUSec found a way to break ASLR via an MMU sidechannel attack that even works in JavaScript. Does this matter? Yes, it matters. A lot. The discovery of this security flaw along with the practical implementation is really important mainly because of two factors: what it means for ASLR to be broken and how the MMU sidechannel attack works inside the processor.

    • The Biggest Risk with Container Security is Not Containers

      Container security may be a hot topic today, but we’re failing to recognize lessons from the past. As an industry our focus is on the containerization technology itself and how best to secure it, with the underlying logic that if the technology is itself secure, then so too will be the applications hosted.

      Unfortunately, the reality is that few datacenter attacks are focused on compromising the container framework. Yes, such attacks do exist, but the priority for malicious actors is mounting an attack on applications and data; increasingly for monetary reasons. According to SAP, more than 80 percent of all cyberattacks are specifically targeting software applications rather than the network.

  • Defence/Aggression

    • Minister visits Malmö as shootings continue

      Sweden’s interior minister, Anders Ygeman, visited Malmö on Monday, just a day after another man was shot dead in the southern Swedish city.

      A 23-year-old man died in hospital after being shot outside a restaurant on the central Möllevången square at 6.40pm on Sunday. The man was known to police, with a series of previous convictions.

      He is the latest person killed in a spate of gun violence in Malmö this year. On January 3rd a 22-year-old man was shot dead in the Fosie district, just a week before a 16-year-old boy was killed in Rosengård.

      A janitor who was shot last week while clearing walkways from snow remains in hospital with life-threatening injuries.

    • Is Trump Headed for a War With China?

      Forget those “bad hombres down there” in Mexico that US troops might take out. Ignore the way National Security Adviser Michael Flynn put Iran “on notice” and the new president insisted, that, when it comes to that country, “nothing is off the table.” Instead, focus for a moment on something truly scary: the possibility that Donald Trump’s Washington might slide into an actual war with the planet’s rising superpower, China. No kidding. It could really happen.

    • Russia has deployed missile in violation of treaty

      Russia has deployed a cruise missile in violation of a Cold War-era arms control treaty, a Trump administration official said Tuesday, a development that complicates the outlook for U.S.-Russia relations amid turmoil on the White House national security team.

      The Obama administration three years ago accused the Russians of violating the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty by developing and testing the prohibited cruise missile, and officials had anticipated that Moscow eventually would deploy it. Russia denies that it has violated the INF treaty.

      U.S. intelligence agencies have assessed that the missile became operational late last year, said an administration official, who wasn’t authorized to publicly discuss the matter and demanded anonymity.

    • NSA’s exit could hit Trump’s Russia reset

      Michael Flynn’s resignation as the National Security Adviser to Donald Trump over his Russia contacts could reset the U.S. President’s attempts to reset ties with Moscow.

      Mr. Flynn said in his resignation letter that he held numerous phone calls with foreign diplomats and officials in course of his duties as the incoming NSA. At the core of the controversy is whether or not Mr. Flynn told the Russian ambassador in Washington that Mr. Trump would reverse the new sanctions that Mr. Obama was imposing on Russia for allegedly interfering in the U.S. elections.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • Journalists who obtain leaked official material could be sent to prison under new proposals

      Campaigners have expressed outrage at new proposals that could lead to journalists being jailed for up to 14 years for obtaining leaked official documents.

      The major overhaul of the Official Secrets Act – to be replaced by an updated Espionage Act – would give courts the power to increase jail terms against journalists receiving official material.

      The new law, should it get approval, would see documents containing “sensitive information” about the economy fall foul of national security laws for the first time.

    • The Judge Who Sent Me to Prison and His Bachelorette Daughter, Rachel Lindsay

      In the latest in the string of bizarre and possibly supernatural incidents that have plagued me since childhood, it was announced Monday night on Jimmy Kimmel Live! that the star of the upcoming season of The Bachelorette is the daughter of Sam Lindsay, the federal judge who sentenced me to 63 months in prison in a case that was denounced as retaliation for my work in exposing government wrongdoing by outlets ranging from the New York Times to Der Spiegel to U.S. News and World Report, by NGOs including Reporters Without Borders and the Electronic Frontier Foundation, by former U.S. prosecutors, and by foreign members of parliament. Lindsay also ordered me to pay $800,000 in restitution to Stratfor, a State Department-linked firm that was revealed by Wikileaks to have conducted surveillance for Dow Chemical on Bhopal activists, among other things.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • Judge denies request to halt Dakota Access pipeline work

      A federal judge on Monday refused to stop construction on the last stretch of the Dakota Access pipeline, which is progressing much faster than expected and could be operational in as little as 30 days.

      U.S. District Judge James Boasberg ruled after an hourlong hearing that as long as oil isn’t flowing through the pipeline, there is no imminent harm to the Cheyenne River and Standing Rock Sioux tribes, which are suing to stop the project. But he said he’d consider the arguments more thoroughly at another hearing on Feb. 27.

    • Oroville Dam: Feds and state officials ignored warnings 12 years ago

      Three environmental groups — the Friends of the River, the Sierra Club and the South Yuba Citizens League — filed a motion with the federal government on Oct. 17, 2005, as part of Oroville Dam’s relicensing process, urging federal officials to require that the dam’s emergency spillway be armored with concrete, rather than remain as an earthen hillside.

      The groups filed the motion with FERC, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. They said that the dam, built and owned by the state of California, and finished in 1968, did not meet modern safety standards because in the event of extreme rain and flooding, fast-rising water would overwhelm the main concrete spillway, then flow down the emergency spillway, and that could cause heavy erosion that would create flooding for communities downstream, but also could cause a failure, known as “loss of crest control.”

    • Dakota pipeline: US judge denies request to halt construction

      A US judge has rejected a request from two Native American tribes to halt construction on the controversial Dakota Access oil pipeline.

      The final stretch of the $3.8bn (£3bn) pipeline is being built under a North Dakota reservoir.

      The Standing Rock Sioux and Cheyenne River Sioux tribes have filed a lawsuit against the pipeline, saying it endangers their drinking water.

      They also say the pipeline will damage sacred burial sites.

    • Judge denies request to halt Dakota Access pipeline work

      A federal judge declined Monday to halt construction on the final disputed section of the Dakota Access Pipeline, despite the vocal objection of Native American tribes who claim the project threatens an important Indian country water source.

      U.S. District Judge James Boasberg’s decision not to grant a temporary restraining order means that work may proceed toward the completion of the 1,172-mile system that will run from North Dakota to Illinois. Boasberg set a Feb. 27 hearing on a further request from the Standing Rock Sioux and the Cheyenne River Sioux tribes to block the work, which has been shadowed by heated protests for months.

    • Vindictive Trump dragged on providing aid to 188,000 Americans displaced by Oroville dam crisis

      By delaying federal aid for days while he partied at Mar-a-Lago, Donald Trump failed evacuees threatened by a failing spillway in Northern California’s Oroville Dam complex. Some 188,000 people from counties that mostly supported him were evacuated when authorities said the risk of a sudden and dramatic overspill became too high, but Orange Julius remained silent for days after California governor Jerry Brown requested he declare a federal emergency in the state.

      This winter has been one of the wettest in recorded west coast history, and has slammed California’s aging infrastructure. While the welcome water has refilled reservoirs and left a massive snowpack, weather has also destroyed roads and left the State’s second largest reservoir in real danger of a catastrophic collapse, flooding the Feather River and destroying thousands of homes in the waters’ path. County officials made the difficult decision to evacuate around 188,000 residents on Sunday. Since then, conditions have improved, but not enough that it is safe to allow those evacuees to return home. More rain is expected on Wednesday.

    • There’s the threat of Oroville Dam. Then there’s Trump

      It all happened so quickly. Water poured down the rapidly eroding hillside of Oroville Dam on Sunday evening. Engineers with the state had to make a series of quick decisions to avert a catastrophic flood.

    • Oroville Dam: California officials ignored warnings a decade ago

      Environmental groups warned nearly 12 years ago that the nation’s tallest dam in California was an imminent disaster.
      They worried that heavy rain and fast-rising waters could overwhelm the main concrete spillway of the Oroville Dam, overflow the emergency spillway and flood communities downstream.

      They were ignored.
      And this weekend, some of their fears were realized.
      Ron Stork, policy director with Friends of the River, a Sacramento environmental group, said state and federal officials were told to reinforce the spillway.
      “We urged them to put concrete on the spillway — our argument was that without a proper spillway, the hillside would wash away and cause catastrophic flooding,” Stork said.

    • California Dam Emergency: 5 Dams That Did Fail

      More than 100,000 people were evacuated from below the United States’ tallest dam on Sunday, after an auxiliary floodway threatened to fail.

      The Oroville Dam in Northern California looked poised to release floodwaters from Lake Oroville into the Feather River, threatening thousands of homes and businesses. According to the Los Angeles Times, rains had filled the reservoir to capacity, sending water over the dam’s emergency spillway for the first time. On Sunday (Feb. 12), a hole developed in the spillway, prompting the evacuation order. As of Sunday evening, the reservoir level had dropped enough to ease the pressure on the spillway, but more rain was forecast, triggering a race against time to repair the dam’s spillways with sacks of rocks dropped by helicopter.

      The situation is still dangerous, officials emphasize, and a look back at some of the most notable dam failures in history shows what’s at stake. [Lessons From 10 of the Worst Engineering Disasters in US History]

    • An Oroville message: As climate shifts, so will water strategies

      Even when everything is going right, managing a dam is a juggling act. What the flooding this week at California’s Oroville Dam may be demonstrating is how that juggling act is growing even more complicated due to climate change.

      Many factors are at play in the ongoing emergency, which has caused more than 100,000 people downstream to be evacuated. Neglect of infrastructure has played a clear and primary role – with homes being evacuated because of signs that the dam’s emergency spillway is failing to safely carry even a portion of the overflow it’s licensed to handle.

    • Trump’s likely science adviser calls climate scientists ‘glassy-eyed cult’

      The man tipped as frontrunner for the role of science adviser to Donald Trump has described climate scientists as “a glassy-eyed cult” in the throes of a form of collective madness.

      William Happer, an eminent physicist at Princeton University, met with Trump last month to discuss the post and says that if he were offered the job he would take it. Happer is highly regarded in the academic community, but many would view his appointment as a further blow to the prospects of concerted international action on climate change.

  • Finance

    • Minister postpones airport strike until after winter vacation

      Justice and Labour Minister Jari Lindström has intervened to defer imminent strike action by airport ground and handling staff. The strike would most certainly have affected families planning trips abroad, but it has now been postponed by two weeks.

    • The Delusion That Trump Is “Good for Business”

      “California Farmers Backed Trump, but Now Fear Losing Field Workers,” read the headline on a New York Times story last week. Big agribusiness types in the Golden State who thought President Trump would reduce regulation and taxes are now coming to grips with the fact that his executive orders on immigration could destroy their business model, which relies on the availability of workers who are not in the country legally. And, no, the wages these farmers pay to radicchio pickers aren’t high enough to lure underemployed working-class citizens to the fertile fields of the Central Valley. Still, farmer Joseph Marchini hopes that because Trump is a businessman himself, he’ll somehow understand that farmers’ massive investments in agriculture rest on the status quo. “I’m confident that he can grasp the magnitude and the anxiety of what’s happening now,” Marchini told the Times.

      Expect to hear more of this, in sector after sector. Industry leaders and entrepreneurs who thought that Trump and his policies would be “good for business” are suddenly realizing that, actually, the president’s attitudes and herky-jerky policy moves will in fact be very bad for their particular businesses. And despite the available evidence, they’re still holding out hope that he will eventually help out their bottom lines.

    • European Parliament Passes CETA After Debate Over Whether It’s A Good Or Bad Deal

      After a somewhat tumultous debate, the European Parliament today in Strasbourg voted in favor of the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) with Canada. With 408 members of Parliament voting in favour and 254 against (33 abstentions) the 1598-page thick deal can become provisionally effective as early as April. The national parliaments still have to ratify it over the coming months, and possibly years.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • The New Twitter Detectives Want To Bring Down Trump Without Becoming Alex Jones

      Just after 3 a.m. last Friday morning, Huffington Post contributor and progressive advocate Alex Mohajer set to work on a brief investigative project on Twitter. Pulling together red marker–circled articles, graphs, and screenshots from numerous financial websites, he rifled off 16 tweets with prosecutorial zeal and one ambitious goal: to build a compelling case linking Donald Trump to Russia’s $11 billion sale of its oil giant, Rosneft.

      “It’s getting harder to ignore growing evidence that Trump was involved with Russian oil deal,” Mohajer wrote after compiling his tweets into a longer Twitter Moments thread. “CONCLUSION? Koch-backed front cos financed climate deniers/alt-right, took control of govt while Trump diverts attn for Exxon, Koch, Rosneft,” he wrote. A minute later he offered a hedge: “ALTERNATIVE CONCLUSION: I am batshit crazy and need some sleep! Good night world. I will be curious to see if others are able to confirm.”

    • The man just elected as Germany’s next president once called Trump a ‘hate preacher’

      Frank-Walter Steinmeier, Germany’s long-serving foreign minister who once called Donald Trump a “hate preacher,” was elected as the country’s 12th post-war president on Sunday by a special assembly in Berlin.

      Steinmeier, 61, representing the center-left Social Democratic Party, won 931 votes among the 1,239 delegates to the federal assembly, known as the Bundesversammlung, made up of state and federal politicians and celebrities. He will serve a five-year term in the largely ceremonial post.

      The election of the usually impeccably mannered diplomat, who spent seven of the last 11 years leading the foreign ministry, marked a setback for Chancellor Angela Merkel and her conservative Christian Democrats, who had failed to agree on their own candidate.

    • Why You Won’t Be Able To Trust Anything You See Or Hear Soon

      Regardless of where you are on the political hypercube, we can all agree that fake news has become a real problem. We might each have different ideas about which stories count as fake news, but we all agree that they’re a danger to democracy and breed sheep like a Nazi New Zealander.

      With investigative journalism being pushed out of our lives to make room for whatever Buzzfeed does, it can seem like you can’t trust anything but what your own eyes and ears take in. Well, because of recent technological advancements, please don’t believe that either.

    • Michael Flynn, Trump’s national security adviser, resigns over Russia lies

      In late January, acting Attorney General Sally Yates delivered a startling message to the Trump administration: National Security Adviser Michael Flynn had lied to other top White House officials about his dealings with the Russian ambassador to the US and was potentially vulnerable to blackmail by the Kremlin.

      Now those lies have cost Flynn his job: On Monday night, Flynn resigned amid growing questions about whether he had misled Vice President Mike Pence, and potentially the FBI, about his phone calls with the Russian envoy on December 29, the same day the Obama administration slapped new sanctions on Moscow for its interference in the 2016 presidential elections.


      Flynn had long denied discussing sanctions in his call with Kislyak, but US officials had told the Washington Post and New York Times that Flynn explicitly talked about the sanctions and hinted that Trump might be willing to lift them. That kind of conversation could be a violation of an obscure federal law, the Logan Act, which prohibits people outside the executive branch from making foreign policy on behalf of the US administration.

    • Full text of Michael Flynn’s resignation letter

      President Trump’s national security adviser Michael Flynn resigned on Monday, ending a brief stint in the position following reports he provided top White House officials — including Vice President — misleading information about his dealings with Russia’s ambassador shortly after sanctions were announced in the final days of the Obama administration.

      Last week, The Washington Post reported, citing nine unnamed intelligence sources, that Flynn and Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak discussed the sanctions. Initially, Flynn said he did not discuss sanctions with Kislyak, a denial passed on to the public by White House press secretary Spicer and Pence, among others. In past weeks, Flynn has said the conversation was general in nature, including holiday greetings. Flynn later adjusted his story.

    • Justice Department warned White House that Flynn could be vulnerable to Russian blackmail, officials say

      The acting attorney general informed the Trump White House late last month that she believed Michael Flynn had misled senior administration officials about the nature of his communications with the Russian ambassador to the United States, and warned that the national security adviser was potentially vulnerable to Russian blackmail, current and former U.S. officials said.


      In the waning days of the Obama administration, James R. Clapper Jr., who was the director of national intelligence, and John Brennan, the CIA director at the time, shared Yates’s concerns and concurred with her recommendation to inform the Trump White House. They feared that “Flynn had put himself in a compromising position” and thought that Pence had a right to know that he had been misled, according to one of the officials, who, like others, spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss intelligence matters.

    • Donald Trump Is Selling Access to the ‘Winter White House’ for $200,000

      As President Donald Trump headed to his private resort in Florida this weekend—his second trip in two weeks, and probably not his last this month—ethics experts and multiple senators voiced serious concerns about the president’s conducting business in a bustling, elite, members-only club.

      Over the past 48 hours, Trump validated those concerns with gold-plated gusto. He hashed out a response to a North Korean missile launch on a busy patio, as people snapped photos and waiters cleared his salad. He hobnobbed with members and visitors at the club, making it clear that paying the $200,000 member fee at Mar-a-Lago was an easy way to parlay with the most powerful man on earth. And passersby were apparently able to get close to classified documents and the presidential limo whenever they pleased.

    • How to not do presidential opsec: Crisis management over dinner in public

      This weekend, as news of a ballistic missile launch by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea) reached President Donald Trump and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, President Trump got on his phone, and Abe consulted with staff. This didn’t happen behind closed doors, however; it took place as members of Trump’s Mar-A-Lago Club watched on in the resort’s dining room. One club member even posed for photos with Trump’s aide-de-camp—the Air Force major carrying the president’s “nuclear football”—and posted pics of the scrum around Trump’s table on Facebook.

      Trump is comfortable conducting business over a meal. Last month, Trump approved a raid by US Navy SEALs in Yemen on an Al Qaeda compound not after a briefing in the White House situation room but rather over dinner with senior officials. These and other details of how the new president and his administration operate suggest that despite hitting Hillary Clinton hard for her security foibles, the Trump White House is not big on operational security (opsec).

      President Trump may not be making phone calls on his old, vulnerable Android device, but he keeps it close at hand. He regularly posts to Twitter from his Samsung phone based on his Twitter metadata. And we know he’s using an unsecured Android device because the secure one he’s been issued wouldn’t even allow Twitter to be installed.

    • Mar-a-Lago guest takes picture with nuclear ‘football’ briefcase

      A visitor to President Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida posted a Facebook photo with a person he says is responsible for carrying the black bag that contains the nuclear launch codes for the president of the United States.

      “This is Rick…He carries the ‘football’ The nuclear football (also known as the atomic football, the President’s emergency satchel, the Presidential Emergency Satchel, the button, the black box, or just the football) is a briefcase, the contents of which are to be used by the President of the United States to authorize a nuclear attack while away from fixed command centers, such as the White House Situation Room,” the caption reads.

      The two images, one of which shows the man carrying the briefcase, is tagged at “Donald Trump Palm Beach Home.”

    • US officer in charge of Trump’s nuclear football ‘poses for photo with Mar-a-Lago guest’

      A member of Donald Trump’s private Florida club has posted an image of himself posing with a man he claimed carries the president’s nuclear football.

      Reports from Mr Trump’s meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe over the weekend, said the two leaders had been briefed about a missile launch in North Korea, while they were eating. CNN said that the two leaders began to discuss how to respond in full public view, and images of the two men and their staffs were snapped by club members.

      Now, it has emerged that one of the members, Richard DeAgazio, posted an image with a member of Mr Trump’s entourage, he claimed was responsible for carrying the nuclear football – the briefcase that never leaves the president’s side and which allows him to authorise a nuclear strike. The Independent has blanked out the person’s face and left out his name.

    • Members of Trump’s Club Can Just Pose With the President’s Nuclear Codes Guy Now

      Do you have $200,000 and a fascination with the prospect of nuclear annihilation? You may want to look into purchasing a membership at Mar-a-Lago, the “winter White House,” where this weekend some guy posted a selfie with the Trump aide who carries the United States’ nuclear football.

      Richard DeAgazio, an investor and actor, posted several pictures from Mar-a-Lago this weekend showing President Donald Trump and his entourage. One post, first reported by the Washington Post, read, “HOLY MOLY !!! It was fascinating to watch the flurry of activity at dinner when the news came that North Korea had launched a missile in the direction of Japan.”

    • Trevor Noah talks Trump, censorship in candid interview

      The Daily Show host expressed concern that a culture of segregation and oppression was brewing under President Donald Trump.

      The Daily Show host Trevor Noah joined Talk To Al Jazeera on Saturday, the day after his autobiography, Born a Crime, won the Debut Author and Outstanding Biography/Autobiography prizes at the American National Association for the Advancement of Coloured People (NAACP) Image Awards.

    • Get Ready For ‘Leak Investigations’ In The Trump White House

      As we discussed over and over again during the past eight years, the Obama White House — despite a first day pledge to be “the most transparent administration in history” — was actually quite famous for its extreme secrecy, combined with a seriously paranoid view of anyone leaking anything unflattering to the White House. As we detailed, the Obama White House declared any unflattering leaks as “aiding the enemy.” And, of course, the Obama administration went after more leakers/whistleblowers with Espionage Act claims than all other Presidents in history combined.

    • Jakarta governor election a ‘litmus test’ of Indonesian Islam

      Millions of Jakarta residents will go to the polls on Wednesday in a vote that is being seen as a “litmus test” of Indonesian Islam.

      In the capital of the world’s largest Muslim-majority nation, the incumbent Jakarta governor Basuki Purnama Tjahaja, better known as Ahok, is battling to retain his seat.

    • The Embarrassment of President Trump

      This can’t go on much longer, can it? In the past, the nation has had do-nothing Presidencies, and scandal-ridden Presidencies, and failed Presidencies, but until Donald J. Trump came along there hasn’t been a truly embarrassing Presidency. Trump himself looks out of place (that squinty-eyed frown, meant to bespeak firmness, or serious purpose, doesn’t succeed), and it’s easy to understand why he looks that way. He’s living a bachelor’s life in an unfamiliar house, in a so-so neighborhood far from his home town, surrounded by strangers who have been hired to protect him but cut him off from any sort of real privacy. His daughter Ivanka is close by, in the Kalorama neighborhood, but she has her own life to live, and her own problems—most recently, Nordstrom’s decision to stop carrying her fashion brand. His wife, Melania, is two hundred miles away, in Trump Tower; for the time being, according to the family’s public statements, she’s there to look after her son, Barron, who’s finishing the school year in familiar surroundings.


      After little more than three weeks, Trump’s behavior is no more erratic than it used to be, but in the context of the Presidency it seems so. This year’s “Saturday Night Live” season has been very funny, but the most startling moment was not a sketch but a depiction of something real: Trump’s obsessive tweeting, four years ago, about the end of the relationship between Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson. It’s been fascinating to watch him change policies in the twinkling of a tweet, as with his briefly confrontational China policy, inaugurated in December with a telephone call to Taiwan’s leader, and then reversed; or to witness his cobra-like lunges at newfound enemies, including the Connecticut Senator Richard Blumenthal, who revealed that Neil Gorsuch, Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, had told him that he found the President’s attacks on the courts “demoralizing.” Trump just can’t seem to stop himself. Three months after the election, which he won, he’s still talking about those mythical fraudulent voters, and still calling Senator Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas.” When he again alleged voter fraud recently, in a room filled with senators, it got awkward; one attendee told Politico that “an uncomfortable silence” filled the room.

    • The House Oversight Committee wants to know more about Trump’s Mar-a-Lago briefing

      Over the weekend, the president received a controversial intelligence briefing on a public Mar-a-Lago terrace — and now, the House Oversight Committee wants to know whether the unusual setting resulted in a security breach. In a letter sent by Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT), the House Oversight Committee today asked Trump chief of staff Reince Priebus for more information on possible security risks incurred by the public briefing.

      Among other demands, the letter asks for more information about cellphones being used while the president was discussing the news.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • DuckDuckGo Ups Ante: Gives $300K to ‘Raise the Standard of Trust’

      For the seventh year in a row, the search engine that promises not to stalk your online moves puts its money where its mouth is, this year by donating $300,000 to organizations that work towards online privacy.

    • Scottish Sheriff Awards Couple Compensation For ‘Distress’ Caused By Neighbor’s Use Of CCTV

      We’ve written plenty about CCTV here on Techdirt, and its creeping normalization around the world, but particularly in the UK. So it’s good to read a story on the legal news site outlaw.com about a rather unusual ruling from a Scottish court pushing back against the use of an intrusive CCTV system. It concerns a dispute in Edinburgh between the individuals Nahid Akram and Debbie and Tony Woolley. The latter couple live above a guest house run by Akram.


      Although he is talking about surveillance in the physical world, his concerns have obvious parallels in the online world, which is under growing government surveillance, not least in the UK. Already, some people are starting to restrict their digital movements and their conversations as they are “aware that they are being recorded and do not know the extent of the coverage.” The question is: why should such “distressing” surveillance be punished in the real world, but permitted in the digital one?

    • India’s database with biometric details of its billion citizens ignites privacy debate

      “Indians in general have yet to understand the meaning and essence of privacy,” says Member of Parliament, Tathagata Satpathy.

      But on Feb. 3, privacy was the hot topic of debate among many in India, thanks to a tweet that showed random people being identified on the street via Aadhaar, India’s ubiquitous database that has biometric information of more than a billion Indians.

    • Trump Campaign Aides Had Repeated Contacts With Russian Intelligence

      Phone records and intercepted calls show that members of Donald J. Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign and other Trump associates had repeated contacts with senior Russian intelligence officials in the year before the election, according to four current and former American officials.

      American law enforcement and intelligence agencies intercepted the communications around the same time they were discovering evidence that Russia was trying to disrupt the presidential election by hacking into the Democratic National Committee, three of the officials said. The intelligence agencies then sought to learn whether the Trump campaign was colluding with the Russians on the hacking or other efforts to influence the election.

    • The high cost of being digital

      AT THE 2010 TechCrunch conference, Eric Schmidt, then CEO of Google, described his ambition for the company. It would, he said, collect and analyse data about its users until “we know more or less what you are thinking about”. This would offer a “new future [in which] you’re never lost… never lonely… never bored… never out of ideas”.

      Recent years have seen not just more data of more kinds being produced, but a fundamental shift in our experience of the world: our news, entertainment, routes home, products and potential romantic partners are data-driven: evolving in real time, and wrapping us in personalised market segments of one.

      These services are enormously convenient. The idle thoughts and urgent worries we express in searches are autocompleted and autocorrected; information, products and opportunities tailored to our interests surround us. But questions about the effects of letting commercial services in on our most critical and intimate choices are growing ever louder and more urgent.

      In Data for the People, Andreas Weigend, former chief scientist at Amazon and consultant to a host of data-driven businesses, sets out to explain how many of these technologies work, how companies profit from them, and the ways in which he believes the balance of power needs to be shifted back in favour of users.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Filming a Protest? 6 Tips to Capture the Action

      As sensational headlines become currency in the age of internet and “fake news,” short documentaries are playing an increasingly important role in the dissemination of nuanced perspectives, and filmmakers have a unique ability to capture and share actions as they happen.

    • Bureau of Indian Affairs Working on Lease for Montana Prison

      The Bureau of Indian Affairs says it could secure a lease in coming months to operate a vacant Montana prison, which closed after the agency dropped its previous contract with the detention facility.

    • Jakarta election pits Christian against rising tide of Muslim extremism

      This week’s hotly contested election for governor of this capital region is exposing the fault lines of tolerance in the world’s largest Muslim-majority country.

      The incumbent is a Christian of Chinese ethnicity — Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, known by his nickname, Ahok — the first non-Muslim governor of Jakarta in 50 years. He took over the post in 2014, when then-governor Joko Widodo was elected president.

      Most agree Ahok has done a good job of reducing corruption, cleaning up pollution and improving infrastructure in this crowded and chaotic city of more than 10 million.

    • Upset About Border Patrol Cruelty? It Didn’t Start Under Trump

      But here’s the thing: none of this is new, unfortunately. Yes, the specifics of the executive order are new, and the awful plan and rollout by the administration are new, but CBP being arbitrarily cruel to people is not at all new. We’ve reported on it many times in the past. Last week, On the Media put together a collection of stories that it had done in the past about egregious behavior by CBP at the border, almost all of which we covered in the past — and all of which occurred under President Obama.

    • Prosecutors And Anti-Sex Trafficking Advocates Aren’t Happy With The Government’s Treatment Of Backpage

      Kamala Harris — former California Attorney General and current US Senator — may have failed in her attempt to take Backpage down, but her dubious legacy lives on. The same day the US Supreme Court denied certification to an appeal of a decision in favor of Backpage and its Section 230 protections, Backpage shut down its adult ads rather than face additional prosecution/persecution from misguided politicians like Harris.

      While all those who went after Backpage pat themselves on the back for making NO DIFFERENCE WHATSOEVER in the battle against sex traffickers, those involved in the day-to-day work of tracking down sex traffickers down aren’t nearly as thrilled.

      As has been noted here on multiple occasions, shutting down a service used by some for illegal activity just buries the illegal activity even deeper underground. Backpage’s adult ad closure means traffickers will be moving to other venues — ones not being actively watched by law enforcement, no doubt including sites they’re not even aware of. As for sex workers who used Backpage to advertise adult services, they’ve simply moved their ads to other sections of the site. So, all the grandstanding has done nothing to harm sex traffickers. It has done a bit of damage to sex workers. But it’s caused the most harm to law enforcement.

    • Walk of shame: Sweden’s “first feminist government” don hijabs in Iran

      In a statement that has gone viral on Twitter and Facebook, UN Watch, a non-governmental human rights NGO in Geneva, expressed disappointment that Sweden’s self-declared “first feminist government in the world” sacrificed its principles and betrayed the rights of Iranian women as Trade Minister Ann Linde and other female members walked before Iranian President Rouhani on Saturday wearing Hijabs, Chadors, and long coats, in deference to Iran’s oppressive and unjust modesty laws which make the Hijab compulsory — despite Stockholm’s promise to promote “a gender equality perspective” internationally, and to adopt a “feminist foreign policy” in which “equality between women and men is a fundamental aim.”

      In doing so, Sweden’s female leaders ignored the recent appeal by Iranian women’s right activist Masih Alinejad who urged Europeans female politicians “to stand for their own dignity” and to refuse to kowtow to the compulsory Hijab while visiting Iran.

    • Brothers burst into pizza shop and hit family members with bat and hammer in honour attack

      TWO brothers carried out a brutal ‘honour attack’ with a baseball bat and hammer as a family dined at a pizza shop.

      Burnley Crown Court heard Khalil Hussain, 24, and Munir Ali Hussain, 35, burst into Planet Pizza in Croft Street, Burnley, to settle an ‘honour feud’.

      Prosecutor Andy Evans said the sustained attack on several members of another family left one man unconscious and others ‘fearing for their lives’

    • Malaysia: Youth group tells Muslim women to avoid using emoticons, perfume on V’tines day

      IN a bid to prevent gestures that lead to pre-marital sex, a Muslim youth group in Malaysia has called on Muslim women to avoid using emoticons and using fragrance in an anti-Valentines day message.

      The two items were part of the seven things Muslim women were advised to avoid when meeting men who were “non-mahram”, or not their kin, even when not celebrating the day to commemorate love, the Malay Mail Online reported.

      In it’s step-by-step guide, the National Muslim Youth Association (Pembina) also warned the women against going out with men at “inappropriate” times by dealing with them only in daytime, and to keep their text messages simple.

    • Edward Snowden’s New Job: Protecting Reporters From Spies

      When Edward Snowden leaked the biggest collection of classified National Security Agency documents in history, he wasn’t just revealing the inner workings of a global surveil­lance machine. He was also scrambling to evade it. To com­municate with the journalists who would publish his secrets, he had to route all his messages over the anonymity soft­ware Tor, teach reporters to use the encryption tool PGP by creating a YouTube tutorial that disguised his voice, and eventually ditch his comfortable life (and smartphone) in Hawaii to set up a cloak-and-dagger data handoff halfway around the world.

    • Amnesty International uncovers phishing campaign against human rights activists

      Over the course of the last year, a number of human rights organizations, labor unions, and journalists were targeted in a “phishing” campaign that attempted to steal the Google credentials of targets by luring them into viewing documents online. The campaign, uncovered by Amnesty International, is interesting largely because of the extent to which whoever was behind the attack used social media to create a complete persona behind the messages—a fictional rights activist named Safeena Malik.

      Malik translates from Arabic as “King,” so Amnesty International refers to the spear-phishing campaign in a report posted to Medium today as “Operation Kingphish.”

      The party or parties behind the operation created Facebook, Google, LinkedIn, and Twitter profiles for “Safeena Malik” using a young woman’s photos, which were apparently harvested from another social media account. “It appears that the attackers may have impersonated the identity of a real young woman and stole her pictures to construct the fake profile,” wrote Nex, a security researcher working with Amnesty International, “along with a professional biography also stolen from yet another person.”

    • FBI Arresting More Americans For Targeting Muslims, Than Muslims For Targeting Americans

      We’ve been pretty damn clear that we think the Trump administration’s targeting of people from a few countries by banning them from entering the US is both inhumane and misguided. We were proud to sign on to an amicus brief opposing it and happy that the 9th Circuit agreed — though the case is far from over. As I’ve noted repeatedly, to me it’s an issue of basic humanity and decency, but some have insisted on making arguments about how certain people are somehow out to get us and we need to protect ourselves from them. I know that, these days, it’s considered silly to rely on things like facts for an argument, but it seemed worthwhile to actually explore some facts on this particular topic.

      We’ll start with a post at Lawfare, by Nora Ellingsen. And we should start out by noting that Techdirt and Lawfare have a pretty long history of… well… not agreeing on much. The site is generally supportive of the intelligence community and supportive of actions taken to protect “national security.” We tend to be more skeptical. Ellingsen worked in the FBI’s Counterterrorism Division for five years, specifically working on international terrorism investigations inside the US. Since leaving the FBI to go to law school, she’s been tracking counterterrorism cases in the US, using DOJ data. And she’s gone through that data to try to determine if there’s any truth to the idea that people from those countries represent a big ongoing threat.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • T-Mobile Backs Off Added Fee For HD Streaming As Unlimited Data Wars Heat Up

      While the U.S. wireless industry isn’t quite as competitive as it’s portrayed as (non-price competition is generally the law of the land), T-Mobile has still managed to disrupt the sector with a crazy idea: giving users what they want. That was again made evident this week when Verizon was forced to bring back sort-of unlimited data after spending the last several years telling consumers they didn’t really want such simple, straightforward plans. Verizon’s long-standing belief that it can tell consumers what they’re supposed to want took a notable blow this week by any measure.

      Shortly after Verizon announced it was returning to unlimited data, T-Mobile once again upped the ante, announcing it would no longer be charging an extra fee to stream HD video over the company’s LTE Network. According to the announcement, T-Mobile not only stopped charging a premium for HD quality (the de-prioritization of which you may recall T-Mobile lied was happening at several points), but also eased up on the restrictions surrounding tethering (using your phone as a modem).

    • What is Verizon Unlimited? Here’s everything you need to know (Updated)
    • The Unlimited Data Party Will Last Until the Big Four Become the Big Three

      Verizon is finally bringing back unlimited plans. Yes, the plans come with catches. But they’re great news for Verizon customers who want to stream or upload lots of video. At least as long as the company faces enough competition to keep up the pressure—in other words, as long as the big four don’t become the big three.


      But the competition might not last. T-Mobile’s parent company, Deutsche Telekom, has been trying to sell the wireless carrier for years, and T-Mobile’s aggressive pricing has always looked in part like a ploy to grow its subscription base to make itself more attractive to potential acquirers. If Deutsche Telekom were finally able to sell T-Mobile, its new parent might get stingier with pricing and pizzas. If not, its current parent might do the same.

    • Is this the end of »mere conduit«?

      But this doesn’t make sense.

      You cannot have a rule stating that ISP:s have no legal liability for the consequences of traffic relayed via their networks – unless illegal. That is the same as saying that ISP:s do have legal liability for the consequences of traffic relayed via their networks. And this is the opposite of what is stated in the eCommerce directive.

      And even though the ISP in question have not been charged with any criminal offense – it is to be considered liable, as the verdict states that it will have to pay a hefty fine unless blocking The Pirate Bay. (The ISP also had to pay the copyright owners legal fees.)

    • How to talk to your non-tech friends about Net Neutrality

      Net Neutrality is being discussed again, and it’s important that your friends understand why this concept is crucial. Instead of explaining it in typical technical terms, it’s usually better to draw parallels to if we hadn’t had infrastructure neutrality in other fields. Roads are frequently mentioned; I find electricity to be a much better example to get the point across.

      Imagine if all your kitchen appliances only worked with one power company. The electricity they provided was somehow coded so that only their fridge, their freezer, their stove, and their washing machine could be used when their power is in your outlets.

    • Internet 3.0: How we take back control from the giants

      AT THE heart of the internet are monsters with voracious appetites. In bunkers and warehouses around the world, vast arrays of computers run the show, serving up the web – and gorging on our data.

      These server farms are the engine rooms of the internet. Operated by some of the world’s most powerful companies, they process photos of our children, emails to our bosses and lovers, and our late-night searches. Such digital shards reveal far more of ourselves than we might like, and they are worth a lot of money. They are not only used to target advertising and sell stuff back to us, but also form the building blocks for a new generation of artificial intelligence that will determine the future of the web.

      “Very big and powerful companies own a huge chunk of what happens on the web,” says Andrei Sambra, a developer with the World Wide Web (W3) Consortium at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the main standards organisation for the web. But we – the ones producing this valuable data – have lost control.

    • Comcast, AT&T Are Paying Minority Groups To Support Killing Net Neutrality

      For years, we’ve noted how one of the greasier lobbying tactics in telecom is the use of minority groups to provide the illusion of broad support for what’s often awful policy. Such groups are given cash for a shiny new event center in exchange for parroting any policy position that comes across their desks, even if it dramatically undermines their constituents. As a result, we’ve shown how time and time again you’ll see minority coalitions like the “Hispanic Technology & Telecommunications Partnership” supporting awful mergers or opposing consumer-centric policies like more cable box competition or net neutrality.


      While there’s no debate that a Congress-made net neutrality law would be the ideal solution, you may have noticed that Congress is so awash in telecom campaign contributions that crafting a law unriddled with fatal loopholes has been impossible. As a result, the best path forward for those that actually care about net neutrality is to leave the existing rules in place. But since that’s not what ISPs want, they’re pushing Congress to pass a new law — one that will claim to be “solving” net neutrality — but will actually work to kill it through “compromise.”

  • DRM and ‘Right to Repair’

    • Counterpoint: As Denuvo Lauds Its Weeks-Long Control, 20 Year Old Game Still Selling Due To Its Modding Community

      I’ve covered the saga of Denuvo DRM regularly as of late. The once-vaunted anti-piracy tool, thought to be the end of video game piracy altogether, has instead had its protection window reduced to somewhere between a week and some weeks. Despite the headwinds of reality, the folks behind Denuvo have bravely soldiered on, proclaiming the tool still useful for protecting the ever-important early-release window of new video games.

      And that’s where I think a counterpoint needs to be made. The idea that the most important time in the sales cycle for a new video game is its initial release is almost gospel within the industry. And it’s not without its logic, I suppose. Many, many games experience the vast majority of their sales upon initial release. But what if that wasn’t the case? And what if by simply embracing the gaming community and releasing control over the product, instead of trying to cling to it with tactics like DRM, the sales cycle for a game became so long that it changed the math?

      What if more games were like Quake, in other words. And I mean the original Quake, released by id Software some twenty years ago. The game has continued to sell throughout these past two decades, but is going through something of a comeback recently. Why? Well, it’s because the modding community that has developed around the game has kept it fresh and relevant.

    • Source: Apple Will Fight ‘Right to Repair’ Legislation

      Apple representatives plan to tell Nebraska lawmakers that repairing your phone is dangerous.

      Apple is planning to fight proposed electronics “Right to Repair” legislation being considered by the Nebraska state legislature, according to a source within the legislature who is familiar with the bill’s path through the statehouse.

      The legislation would require Apple and other electronics manufacturers to sell repair parts to consumers and independent repair shops, and would require manufacturers to make diagnostic and service manuals available to the public.

    • Apple Planning to Fight Proposed ‘Right to Repair’ Legislation

      Apple is preparing to fight proposed “Right to Repair” legislation proposed in the Nebraska state legislature, reports Motherboard. The legislation aims to make it easier for both customers and indie repair shops to repair electronics, similar to how car repair works.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Kenya Works With Communities On Genetic Resources And Traditional Knowledge Protection

      Excessive degradation and over-exploitation of plant biodiversity in Kenya has led to depletion of some species and narrowed their genetic base. Apart from the conservation challenge, utilisation and sharing of benefits from plant genetic resources and traditional and associated knowledge among communities has also remained opaque despite constitutional guarantees.

    • Copyrights

      • Pirate Bay Blockade Signals Copyright Industry’s Death Throes, ISP Boss Says

        After a court ruled yesterday that The Pirate Bay must be blocked in Sweden, reaction has been polarized. While copyright holders celebrated, the boss of ISP Bahnhof criticized the move, deriding the court action as signaling the death throes of the copyright industry. Interestingly, the company also teased a potential workaround.

      • Canada Remains a “Safe Haven” for Online Piracy, Rightsholders Claim

        The MPAA, RIAA and other entertainment industry groups are calling out Canada, claiming that it remains a “safe haven” for copyright infringers and pirate sites. The new “notice and notice” system is ineffective, they say, and the broader legal copyright regime fails to deter piracy.

      • EU Court Of Justice: EU Is Competent To Ratify Marrakesh Treaty

        The European Union ratification of a treaty allowing an exception to copyright for the benefit of visually impaired people might be yet one step closer as the Court of Justice of the EU found today that the EU has exclusive competence to conclude it.

      • The Pirate Bay Must Be Blocked in Sweden, Court of Appeal Rules

        A Court of Appeal has ordered The Pirate Bay and streaming portal Swefilmer to be blocked by an ISP in Sweden. The landmark ruling, in favor of Universal Music, Sony Music, Warner Music, and the Swedish film industry, will see local ISP Bredbandsbolaget forced to block the sites for the next three years.

      • Pirate Bay sank in Sweden as court orders ISP-level ban

        SPLICE THE MAINBRACE AND FEED THE PARROT, we have piracy news for you. The Swedish courts have ordered a ban on the Pirate Bay at an ISP level.

        That might not sound like a big deal, but it might be one of those domino scenarios. TorrentFreak reports that the courts have sided with copyright people, including Sony, in an appeal against an earlier ruling, and decided that ISPs that do not block access to the torrent site should be fined.


Links 14/2/2017: Linux Lite 3.4, GNU Health 3.0.6

Posted in News Roundup at 11:55 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish



  • Desktop

  • Server

    • Video: State of Linux Containers

      In this video from the 2017 HPC Advisory Council Stanford Conference, Christian Kniep from Gaikai presents: Best Practices: State of Linux Containers.

    • VC Investor Martin Casado on the Future of Software-Defined Networking

      Software-defined networking’s biggest accomplishment last year was achieving market traction and validation, says Martin Casado, a general partner at the venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz. But there are still many challenges ahead for the industry at large and the organizations that aim to drive SDN forward.

  • Kernel Space

    • Linux 4.10-rc8

      Hey, it’s another week, and I could have released the final 4.10.

      It’s not been all that busy, although we did have a number of small
      last-minute regression fixes (some just reverting stuff that caused
      problems and needed more thought, others fixing things). But nothing
      out of the ordinary, and I wouldn’t have felt bad about just doing the
      final release today.

      But I decided that there’s also no huge overriding reason to do so
      (other than getting back to the usual “rc7 is the last rc” schedule,
      which would have been nice), and with travel coming up, I decided that
      I didn’t really need to open the merge window. I’ve done merge windows
      during travel before, but I just prefer not to. If it was the second
      week of the merge window when the big bulk of stuff had been merged,
      that would be one thing, but that’s not how the schedule turned out.

    • Linux 4.10-rc8 Kernel Released, Final Pushed Out By One Week
    • Linux Kernel 4.10 Delayed by a Week, Last Release Candidate Is Now Available
    • Linus Torvalds decides world doesn’t need a new Linux today

      Those waiting for the milestone that would have been version 4.10 of the Linux kernel have another week to wait, after Linus Torvalds decided not to release the final version this week.

      “Hey, it’s another week, and I could have released the final 4.10,” Torvalds posted to the Linux Kernel Mailing List, adding that “… I wouldn’t have felt bad about just doing the final release today.”

    • Ten Exciting Features Of The Linux 4.10 Kernel

      The Linux 4.10 kernel didn’t end up being released today, but was pushed back by an extra week. However, in looking forward to next weekend, here are ten of the features that excite us about Linux 4.10.

    • WireGuard Is Still Looking Good As A Linux VPN Tunnel

      We’ve been talking about WireGuard for months and it’s hoping to go mainline in the Linux kernel this calendar year. Earlier this month at FOSDEM was a status update on the project.

      WireGuard lead developer Jason Donenfeld presented on this project that he’s been developing over the past year. For those that haven’t been following WireGuard up to now, this VPN tunnel is implemented in less than four thousand lines of kernel code, is designed to be very secure, keeps track of minimal state, has a minimal attack surface, provides a solid crypto base, is designed to be very performant, and has other benefits.

    • Automotive Grade Linux Continues Rapid Growth

      Automotive Grade Linux (AGL), a collaborative open source project developing a Linux-based, open platform for the connected car, today announced that six new members have joined Automotive Grade Linux and The Linux Foundation. DrimAES joins AGL at the Silver level while ARM, Elektrobit, RealVNC, Telenav and Tuxera join AGL at the Bronze level.

    • Why Microsoft Won’t Use the Linux Kernel for Windows

      There are a number of reasons why Microsoft won’t use the Linux kernel for Windows. For one there is a huge difference in the technical aspects of the Linux Kernel and the NT kernel.

      Another reason would be the issues of licensing involved if Microsoft has to switch over to using the Linux kernel for windows. Thirdly, there are things done on Windows that can’t be done on any other operating system.

    • Linux Enhanced BPF (eBPF) Tracing Tools

      This page shows examples of performance analysis tools using enhancements to BPF (Berkeley Packet Filter) which were added to the Linux 4.x series kernels, allowing BPF to do much more than just filtering packets. These enhancements allow custom analysis programs to be executed on Linux dynamic tracing, static tracing, and profiling events.

    • Graphics Stack

      • Vulkan 1.0.40 Released With Fixes, SMPTE 2086 HDR Metadata Support
      • Intel’s Linux Graphics Driver To Enable Atomic Support By Default

        The patch landed in Intel’s drm-intel-next-queued branch this week for enabling atomic support by default on the hardware platforms where it’s fully supported.

        Following this mailing list discussion, atomic support is now being turned on by default for the Intel Linux DRM driver while it’s disabled-by-default support has been in good shape since Linux ~4.9. Though due to the timing of this change-over, this looks like it will be a change for Linux 4.12 as Intel’s 4.11 DRM feature work is already over with the 4.11 merge window being imminent.

      • X.Org Server 1.20 Breaks The Video Driver ABI

        Just a quick note for anyone who routinely builds the latest X.Org Server from Git, the video driver ABI has been broken again, thus you’ll need to rebuild your dependent DDX drivers assuming they have been modified for this new ABI.

      • Mesa 17.0.0 Officially Released

        Mesa 17.0 ships with many big changes and improvements — see that article for an overview. In the past week I’ve also published Intel benchmark results with ANV Vulkan having noticeably better performance, RADV/RadeonSI being much faster, and Nouveau Maxwell improvements.

      • [Mesa-dev] [ANNOUNCE] mesa 17.0.0
      • The beginning of the end of the RadeonHD driver.

        Soon it will be a decade since we started the RadeonHD driver, where we pushed ATI to a point of no return, got a proper C coded graphics driver and freely accessible documentation out. We all know just what happened to this in the end, and i will make a rather complete write-up spanning multiple blog entries over the following months. But while i was digging out backed up home directories for information, i came across this…

      • Almost A Decade Later, RadeonHD Stories Still Coming To Light

        This September will mark 10 years since the public launch of the RadeonHD DDX driver (xf86-video-radeonhd) that was developed by SUSE during the Radeon X1000 and HD 2000/3000 days in conjunction with ATI/AMD. While we’ve talked about what started AMD’s open-source strategy in the past and dozens of other RadeonHD articles, new stories are still coming to light.

      • R600/RadeonSI GLSL/TGSI On-Disk Shader Cache Revised

        Last week Collabora’s Timothy Arceri posted TGSI shader cache patches for Mesa that so far benefit the R600g and RadeonSI Gallium3D drivers but could also help out the other Gallium3D drivers too. The second version of those patches have now been published.

      • RADV Gets More Improvements For Mesa 17.1-dev, Lower Dota 2 CPU Usage

        While Mesa 17.0 was just released, new feature development continues building up for Mesa 17.1.

        David Airlie landed a few more RADV patches into mainline Mesa Git. One of the changes is for detecting command buffers that don’t do any work and then discard them. Airlie mentioned, “If a buffer is just full of flushes we flush things on command buffer submission, so don’t bother submitting these. This will reduce some CPU overhead on dota2, which submits a fair few command streams that don’t end up drawing anything.

      • Mesa 17.0.0 Released

        It’s been a busy few week for Mesa related news, and today is no exception as Mesa 17.0 is now officially available. Mesa 17.0.0 is the first release with the new year-based versioning system (it would’ve been Mesa 13.1.0 otherwise).

      • Mesa 17.0 Officially Released with OpenGL 4.5 Capability for Intel Haswell, More

        Today is a great day for Linux gamers as Collabora’s Emil Velikov proudly announced the general availability of the Mesa 17.0.0 3D Graphics Library for all GNU/Linux operating systems.

        Yes, Mesa 17, not Mesa 14, nor 15 or 16, as the development team has decided to skip them all and jump from the Mesa 13 series straight to version 17 according to a newly adopted versioning scheme based on the current year, something that will happen at the beginning of each new year.

      • Mesa 17.0.0 has officially released and it’s well worth updating

        The Mesa developers have announced the release of Mesa 17.0.0 and it’s a truly incredible release. You should probably update as soon as possible.

        For those that don’t know what Mesa is: you will be using Mesa if you’re on Intel graphics, most likely with an AMD GPU and also some older NVIDIA models. You are not using Mesa if you install AMD/NVIDIA proprietary drivers.

    • Benchmarks

      • More Power Consumption / Perf-Per-Watt Figures For Intel Kabylake On Linux

        In yesterday’s Core i3 2100 “Sandy Bridge” vs. Core i3 7100 “Kabylake” comparison I included all of the power consumption and performance-per-Watt results. If you are looking for additional power numbers from other Kabylake CPUs, here is some additional data.

      • Windows 10 vs. Linux With AMDGPU+RadeonSI, NVIDIA Pascal, Lots Of Games Coming

        There’s going to be fresh AMD Radeon and NVIDIA GeForce Windows 10 vs. Linux comparisons on Phoronix in the week ahead. Here are the early details and a RFC for our patrons.

      • Windows 10 vs. Ubuntu Linux Gaming Performance With NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060/1080

        It’s been a while since last testing Windows 10 vs. Linux on different, newer Linux game ports with a variety of GPUs, but that changed this week. As mentioned this weekend, I’ve been working on a large, fresh Windows vs. Linux gaming performance comparison. The results available today are for NVIDIA with testing a GeForce GTX 1060 and GTX 1080 on Windows 10 Pro x64 and Ubuntu 16.10 x86_64 with the latest drivers and using a variety of newer Direct3D 11/12 / OpenGL / Vulkan games.

  • Applications

    • 5 Linux Music Players You Should Consider Switching To

      There are dozens of Linux music players out there, and this makes it difficult to find the best one for our usage. In the past we’ve reviewed some of these players, such as Cantata, Exaile, or even the lesser known ones like Clementine, Nightingale and Quod Libet.

      In this article I will be covering more music players for Linux that in some aspects are even better than the ones we’ve already told you about.

    • Ardour 5.6 released

      Another two months of development has rolled by, involving more than 600 commits by developers, and it’s time for us to release Ardour 5.6. Although there are no major new features in this release, there is the usual list of dozens of bug fixes major and minor, plus some workflow and GUI enhancements. There has been a significant rearrangement of the transport bar to try to use space more efficiently and effectively. The new design also permits session navigation while using the Mixer tab, and there are numerous optionally visible elements. Similarly, the Preferences dialog was rearranged to try to make it easier to find and browse the many, many available options. Other interesting new features: session archiving, a new General MIDI default synth for MIDI tracks, and direct and immediate control of routing for heavily multichannel (typically multitimbral) synth plugins.

    • Ardour 5.6 Open-Source DAW Improves Unloading of Large Sessions, Adds Many Fixes

      A new important update of the Ardour open-source and cross-platform DAW (Digital Audio Workstation) software has been released this past weekend for Linux-based operating systems, as well as macOS and Microsoft Windows platforms.

      Ardour 5.6 comes two months after the release of the previous version, and it looks like it’s yet another big update implementing numerous improvements and fixing some of those nasty bugs reported by users lately. For example, the transport bar has been greatly revamped to use space more effectively and efficiently, and there’s a new design that allows for session navigation while the Mixer tab is in use.

    • Ardour 5.6 Digital Audio Workstation Released

      Available this weekend is the newest release of the Ardour digital audio workstation software for Linux, macOS, and Windows.

      Ardour 5.6 features some speed-up improvements in different areas, a mini-timeline was added to the toolbar, there’s the ability to archive a session, various editor improvements, restored save-as support to work as intended, and more. There are also action/binding changes, scripting improvements, plugin improvements, and a wide-range of fixes.

    • Roundup of Recent App Updates: Harmony, Komorebi, Alduin

      Time for our weekly round up of recent app updates that weren’t quite big enough to merit their own dedicated post

      If you’re averse to Electron apps you’re advised to look away now. If an app you love got an update this week chances are it’s because we didn’t know about it, rather than we hate the app.

    • Xfce’s Parole Media Player Gets First Update In Over a Year

      Parole 0.9.0 brings a number of new features to Linux desktops, including a new mini-mode, working ‘play’ and ‘replay’ icons in the content area, and the window title and content title show the filename if no corresponding ID3 tag is detected.

    • After a Year in Development, Parole Media Player 0.9 Arrives with New Mini Mode
    • Xfce Parole Media Player 0.9 Released

      Xfce developers have restored work on their Parole Media Player as the primary media player for this lightweight desktop environment.

    • Write Markdown with 8 Exceptional Open Source Editors

      By way of a succinct introduction, Markdown is a lightweight plain text formatting syntax created by John Gruber together with Aaron Swartz. Markdown offers individuals “to write using an easy-to-read, easy-to-write plain text format, then convert it to structurally valid XHTML (or HTML)”. Markdown’s syntax consists of easy to remember symbols. It has a gentle learning curve; you can literally learn the Markdown syntax in the time it takes to fry some mushrooms (that’s about 10 minutes). By keeping the syntax as simple as possible, the risk of errors is minimized. Besides being a friendly syntax, it has the virtue of producing clean and valid (X)HTML output. If you have seen my HTML, you would know that’s pretty essential.

    • Telegram on Mobile and openSUSE

      Small Messaging Service, or SMS, is a very common and popular way to communicate today. It is a convenient way to transmit a short message. It has seemingly evolved into a way to carry on conversations throughout the day… but it is so 2007…


      Privacy: The people behind Telegram are not making money off of your data and take privacy quite seriously. They have received a “generous donation” by an individual and have quite enough money for the time being. Maybe eventually they will have a paid service but not now.

    • NixNote An Unofficial Evernote Client For Linux/Ubuntu/Fedora

      Evernote is arguably the most popular and powerful note-taking tool available. You can save notes in different forms like text, pictures, videos, voice memos and web pages. There are clients available for the web, desktop operating systems (Windows and Mac) as well as mobile devices (Android and iOS) but none for the Linux desktop. There are a few third-party options available including GeekNote, Everpad and NixNote.

    • The minority yields to the majority!

      As previously mentioned I contribute to the NetSurf project and the browser natively supports numerous toolkits for numerous platforms. This produces many challenges in development to obtain the benefits of a more diverse user base. As part of the recent NetSurf developer weekend we took the opportunity to review all the frontends to make a decision on their future sustainability.

    • Best Linux Email Clients

      Finding the best Linux email client is largely a matter of taste. That said, there are specific email clients for Linux that are better than others. In this article, I’ll share some of the best Linux email clients available.

    • Ktube Media Downloader Is a Powerful App to Download YouTube Videos on Ubuntu

      Keshav Bhatt, the developer of the open-source Snapcraft GUI app and many other tools, is informing Softpedia today about the availability of Ktube Media Downloader 1.0.

      Ktube Media Downloader appears to be the successor of Ultimate Media Downloader, another video downloader utility that the developer created a long time ago. However, the new app is a lot more powerful, featuring a modern and dark graphical user interface, and lots of attractive new features.

    • Linuxbrew – A Common Package Manager For Linux And Mac OS X

      If you have used Mac OS, you will certainly have known about Homebrew, a package manager that allows you to install, remove, and update Unix tools and open source applications and packages. Homebrew is a free and open source package management system specially designed for Apple’s Mac OS operating system. It is written using Ruby programming language, and it comes preinstalled with Mac OS. As you might know, it is one of the open source project that both the largest number of contributors and issues closed of any project on GitHub. If you ever looking for a similar package manager like Homebrew for your Linux operating system, you should try Linuxbrew.

    • Babe Is a Promising New Qt Music Player
    • Proprietary

      • Microsoft loves Linux. But not Skype for Linux

        First, let me make it plain that if Microsoft had decided to junk Skype for Linux at the time when it decided to redesign the client, I would have no complaint. A commercial company is free to produce what software it wants and drop whatever does not net it a return.

        When Linux users were critical of the alpha client in its early days, I took up cudgels on behalf of Microsoft, something I rarely do.

        But after deciding to keep offering a client for Linux, it should not be left at this very basic stage. Is it too much to ask that after six months, one does not have to input one’s credentials every third time one starts up the client?

      • Skype Say Linux App Will Work Past March 1 (For Now)
    • Instructionals/Technical

    • Games

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

      • KDE Frameworks 5.31 Adds Qt 5.8 Support for C++ Highlighting, over 70 Bug Fixes

        KDE announced this weekend the general availability of the monthly maintenance update to their open-source KDE Frameworks project, a collection of over 70 add-on libraries for Qt 5 providing common functionality for many KDE apps.

        KDE Frameworks 5.31.0 is here with a total of 72 changes across most of its components, including Attica, which now supports display_name in categories, the Breeze icons, the framework integration, as well as KArchive archive manager and KAuth.

      • Kdenlive 16.12.2 Open-Source Video Editor Released with GPU Improvements, More

        Now that the second maintenance update to the KDE Applications 16.12 software suite for KDE Plasma desktops arrived, it’s time for the Kdenlive developers to tell us all about the new features implemented in Kdenlive 16.12.2.

        >From the release notes, it looks like Kdenlive 16.12.2 is a small bugfix release adding a total of 20 changes, as the development team is currently concentrating all of their efforts on the refactoring of the timeline with its highly anticipated professional-grade feature and an extra layer of stability.

      • Review: KDE neon 5.9.1

        It has been a while since I’ve done a review of a Linux distribution. Lately, I’ve seen a few reviews of KDE neon (the second word being intentionally written in lowercase), and some of them have praised it as being much better than Kubuntu (the traditionally KDE spin of Ubuntu). That got my attention, so I figured I should check it out.

      • KDE neon + Kernel 4.8

        We are currently looking to roll out Kernel 4.8 and I’d love to get some informal testing done first. Everyone who wants to help with testing the 4.8 Kernel please install and reboot afterward:

      • 6 Reasons Why I Love Using KDE Connect on Ubuntu

        I love using KDE Connect on Ubuntu with the app’s indicator applet. It’s the easiest way to connect my Android phone to my Linux desktop.

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK

      • New Users Panel

        The GNOME Control Center redesign goes on. This release we are happy to announce the new Users Panel design. As you can see in the preview video below, we are moving away from a two column panel into a single page concept. These changes make the panel way clearer specially with the new shell.

      • Google Code In at coala

        We have always been active in engaging newcomers and teaching people about Open Source. It is only natural that we think and work towards helping pupils all over the world take this step and learn about contributing to open source. (If you are a teacher and reading this, reach out to us on coala.io/chat – we’re very interested in working with you and are also starting an initiative in germany to connect to schools.)

      • Recipes by mail

        Since I last wrote about GNOME recipes, we’ve mainly focused on completing our feature set for 3.24.

      • GNOME Software 3.24 to Handle APT & Snap URLs for Easy Installation of Packages

        The GNOME developers are currently preparing to unleash the first Beta milestone of the upcoming GNOME 3.24 desktop environment, due for release on February 15, 2017.

      • GTK+ Implements Window Focus Tracking and Window Properties for Ubuntu’s Mir

        The GTK+ development team just released a few moments ago a new stable and development release of the widely-used GTK+ open-source toolkit for GNOME and GNOME-based desktop environments and related apps.

        GTK+ 3.22.8 is now the most stable and advanced build of the toolkit, and will soon be available for most GNU/Linux distributions that use it. While it’s only a small maintenance update, it adds a few interesting improvements for Ubuntu’s Mir display server, such as window focus tracking, window properties, and modal hint support.

      • On Vala

        Of course, and with reason, I’ve been called out on this by various people. Luckily, it was on Twitter, so we haven’t seen articles on Slashdot and Phoronix and LWN with headlines like “GNOME developer says Vala is dead and will be removed from all servers for all eternity and you all suck”. At least, I’ve only seen a bunch of comments on Reddit about this, but nobody cares about that particular cesspool of humanity.

      • A GNOME Developer’s Arguments On Vala Being A “Dead” Language

        Longtime GNOME developer Emmanuele Bassi has pleaded his case that Vala is a “dead” language and that new applications/developers should look at alternatives or first work on improving this GNOME-centered language.

        There’s previously been efforts to use more Rust code in GNOME than C/Vala and developers expressing their disappointment/frustrations in Vala. Emmanuele Bassi recently tweeted, “PSA: if you want to write a new @gnome application, don’t use Vala; if you’re already using it, consider porting to a non-dead language.”

  • Distributions

  • Devices/Embedded

Free Software/Open Source

  • What is Open Source?

    Open source software is everywhere. It underpins virtually the entire technology sector, with every single element of IT relying on at least one open source component.

    For those who aren’t aware, free and open source software (commonly abbreviated to FOSS) is software and tools that are made freely available online. Not only are they free to download, install and use, the creators also publish the source code for these programs – their ‘DNA’. This means anyone can recreate, tweak, improve or modify them as they see fit.

  • Opening the Software Heritage archive

    We posted this while I was keynoting with Roberto at FOSDEM 2017, to discuss the role Software Heritage plays in preserving the Free Software commons. To accompany the talk we released our first public API, which allows to navigate the entire content of the Software Heritage archive as a graph of connected development objects (e.g., blobs, directories, commits, releases, etc.).

    Over the past months we have been busy working on getting source code (with full development history) into the archive, to minimize the risk that important bits of Free/Open Sources Software that are publicly available today disappear forever from the net, due to whatever reason — crashes, black hat hacking, business decisions, you name it. As a result, our archive is already one of the largest collections of source code in existence, spanning a GitHub mirror, injections of important Free Software collections such as Debian and GNU, and an ongoing import of all Google Code and Gitorious repositories.

  • 13 best free and open source inventory management systems 2017: How to save money and improve service for your customers

    Inventory management is the process of specifying and quantifying the shape and percentage of goods you hold in stock. By knowing what you have, and where, you can save money and improve your service to customers.

    There are myriad free inventory management software systems to choose from, many of which are free to use. We have highlighted 13 that are worth considering for your business.

  • Raptor Engineering Hopes To Bring OpenBMC To An ASUS Motherboard

    While Raptor Engineering was unsuccessful with their Talos Secure Workstation effort to build a high-end, libre POWER8 workstation, they are now backing a more realistic effort: opening the Baseboard Management Controller of an ASUS server motherboard still on the market.

    They are hoping to replace the proprietary baseboard management controller firmware with an open-source solution using OpenBMC. They are hoping to do this not only for the sake of having a fully-free server/workstation motherboard but also for addressing security holes in the proprietary firmware and add missing features while also allowing Coreboot to interact with this BMC.

  • Open source human body simulator trains future doctors

    SOFA an open source human body simulator used for training medical students and for preparing medical interventions, is being used by an increasing number of research centres and companies, says Hugo Talbot, coordinator of the SOFA consortium. He demonstrated SOFA (Simulation Open Framework Architecture) last week at Fosdem, Europe’s largest free software conference, in Brussels (Belgium).

  • Growing Your Open Source Community With Twitter

    Engagement in an open source community leads to collaboration, says Jason Hibbets, community evangelist at Red Hat. And social media is one good tool that projects can use to help increase engagement in their communities, he adds, “because you can reach a broad audience at pretty much no-to-low costs.”

    Hibbets will discuss how Red Hat has increased engagement with one such social media tool, Twitter chats, in his talk at Open Source Leadership Summit in Lake Tahoe on Feb. 16, 2017. Here, he shares with us some of his reasoning behind why engagement is important, some best practices for increasing engagement, and a few lessons learned from Red Hat’s Twitter chats.

  • 10 Open Source Challenges

    For the open source movement, things seem to be going better than ever. Desktop Linux still hasn’t caught on the way advocates had hoped, but within the enterprise, open source is becoming the norm.A Black Duck survey found that 65 percent of enterprises increased their use of open source software in 2016, and open source software is dominating in areas like big data analytics, containerization, development tools, cloud infrastructure, the Internet of things (IoT) and others.

    However, if the community is going to continue to thrive, it will need to find a way to deal with some very big challenges.

    As open source usage has increased, projects have sometimes struggled to scale with demand. And as enterprise developers incorporate more open source code into their own applications, their organizations face headaches related to security, compatibility, licensing and more.

    This slideshow highlights ten open source challenges that could pose an existential threat to the movement itself.

  • Unleashed: Open source tech for pets and animals

    I was discussing open source technology with my cat this morning and he brought up a good point: “Why don’t you do an article on open source tech for animals?”

    You know, Donald’s right. Animal open source tech deserves a spotlight. Afterall, animals appear in many open source brands, and pets, like mine at least, lend lots of support while I’m trying out new software, building gadgets, or just writing about this stuff.

  • What’s your favorite open source animal?

    Open source brands and logos often feature animals. In the image above you might be able to think of one or a few open source projects those animals might represent.

    In one of Jeff Macharyas’s latest articles, he highlights six open source projects with iconic brands, with some background on what the animal is and where it came from.

    In this poll, we came up with a few more to add to his list for you to vote on: Which is your favorite?

  • Four major advantages to using open source software in the enterprise

    With WordPress, Firefox and Linux now the virtual infrastructure for many millions of Internet users globally, and the likes of Apache and database management system MySQL widely embraced by corporations, open source (OS) software has long since passed a tipping-point moment. Yet despite growing familiarity with what OS means — and usage even by the EU and the US government — doubts among many businesses about the quality and reliability of OS software persist.

    Such concerns tend to cluster around three perceptions. The first is that because many OS products were built by the wider developer community — projects and foundations without the resources of a software giant with a history of producing proprietary programs — they cannot then be truly enterprise grade; indeed, they must be of inferior quality and reliability.

    That, in turn, feeds a second perception that because an OS product is usually free, or low-cost, to use, then the organization or team behind it will inherently lacks the economic basis to offer the sort of 24/7 “real time” customer support enterprises expect, especially during the implementation process and its aftermath. In particular, they fear that the project or team in question may vanish into the shadows a couple of years down the line, leaving them at the mercy of bugs and hackers.

  • ToaruOS 1.0 Released, Hobby OS/Kernel Written From Scratch Over 6+ Years

    In the past on Phoronix we have mentioned ToaruOS a few times. It’s a “hobby” kernel and operating system written mostly from scratch yet supports Mesa, GCC, Python, and more. It’s been in development since 2011 while now the operating system’s 1.0 release finally took place.

    The ToaruOS developer wrote in about the Toaru 1.0 release that took place at the end of January. He wrote, “After six years of development, I am very happy to finally announce the 1.0 release of ToaruOS. While I would not consider this “complete” – there is still much work to be done – it is time to refocus my development, and with that comes the time to declare a stable release. ToaruOS 1.0 has been the result of over half a decade of effort, with contributions from a dozen people besides myself.”

  • ToaruOS 1.0 Open Source OS Released After 6+ Years Of Development

    Hobbyist operating systems are seen as one of the more advanced projects taken up by the computer enthusiasts. While some developers use some existing kernel and other resources, others design everything from the scratch. ToaruOS is also one such hobby operating system/kernel, which is mostly written from the scratch.

  • Fund Open Source Software Research to Enhance ICT for Development (ICT4D) and ICT for Dollars (ICT4$)

    I owe part of my IT education to the Open Source community. I enhanced my programming skills using Open Source programming languages; I garnered a better understanding of operating systems through my study and research of the Linux kernel; I understood the inner workings of software by having access to their code; and in college, I used learning materials from computer science classes made available by MIT Open Courseware. But this article is not about how I benefited from open source software. I only mentioned my experience with Open Source Software (OSS) to stress the plethora of opportunities that it provides and the impact it can have on our ICT sector, and the country as a whole. Hence, the subsequent paragraphs provide insights into the positive impact that Open Source Software can have on a developing country like Liberia. The article is also a call to both the public and private sectors to invest in Open Source Software or OSS in order to enhance Information and Communications Technology for Development (ICT4D) and Information and Communications Technology for Dollars (ICT4$).

  • 15 Open Source Artificial Intelligence Tools

    One of the hottest areas in technology right now is the Artificial Intelligence (AI). Big like IBM, Google, Microsoft, Facebook and Amazon investing lots money in the R&D to take the AI to next level. Even companies like Samsung last year take over a start-up to roll out it’s of AI assistant Bixby. Given the level of interest, here are some for tools for Building the next generation of AI algorithms.

  • What’s moving and shaking in the open-source community?

    Open source software has its roots in the very birth of software and computing itself. The field was first pioneered by scientists, researchers and academics with information and knowledge being freely and widely shared. Over the years open-source has matured and behind this maturity is a community of developers, collaborating and sharing to make better innovations faster. Successful open source projects like Linux, Apache, PostgreSQL and many others are growing super-linearly. As 2017 gathers steam, the open-source community is also rapidly developing. This year, as businesses focus on rightsizing their resources, containers will become more common as they give businesses the ability to leverage highly portable assets or resources, which makes the move into micro-services much easier.

  • 9 relevant topics for community leaders today

    In 2009, Jono Bacon brought the first Community Leadership Summit to the free and open source world. Five years later, Donna Benjamin hosted an off-shoot event, CLSx at linux.conf.au in Perth. 2017 marks the third year for CLSxAU at LCA.

    This year the event hosted nearly 30 attendees, each participating in one or more of nine discussion sessions.

  • Free as in puppy: The hidden costs of free software [Ed: This repeats Sun and Microsoft FUD against FOSS; Proprietary software has these costs too, and MORE]

    The following sections represent common areas for software costs to sneak in. This is by no means a comprehensive list.

  • What happens when we just assume positive intent?

    I never make New Year’s resolutions. I’ve never understood the concept, never felt motivated to change with the calendar, and always been cynical of the effectiveness of “resolving” to change.

    Instead, I like to continually examine my habits and think about how I can improve on a more frequent basis. That said, 2016 has been an interesting year, and the beginning of 2017 I think is a good opportunity to think about how to be intentional about my behavior in all aspects of my life.

    So here’s my 2017 open organization resolution: When it comes to leading in an open organization, I want to be more intentional about understanding and considering my own motivations and the motivations of others, and encouraging my colleagues to do the same.

  • DevOps Poetry Slam: 5 poems on the art of DevOps
  • Events

    • The Call for Papers for LIBER’s 2017 Annual Conference in Greece — from 5 to 7 July — is now open.

      Implicit in the concept of access to knowledge is the idea of sustainability. As the idea that we should move towards a more open approach to conducting and disseminating research takes hold it is incumbent on libraries to ensure that in this shifting environment that the accessibility, usability, and long term availability of research outcomes are taken care of. This is a proactive role requiring leadership, vision, innovation and a flexible approach to partnering with researchers and infrastructure.

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • Mozilla Had A Crazy Week Landing Servo, WebRender & More Into Firefox Repo

        This was one of the busiest weeks in Firefox’s history with having more than ~10,000 change-sets affecting ~97,000 file changes.

        Landing into the mainline codebase of Firefox Nightly’s mozilla-central repository was vendoring the Servo project, WebRender, the ECMAScript ECMA-262 conformance test suite, and various Rust dependencies.

  • SaaS/Back End

  • Databases

    • Postmortem of database outage of January 31

      This incident caused the GitLab.com service to be unavailable for many hours. We also lost some production data that we were eventually unable to recover. Specifically, we lost modifications to database data such as projects, comments, user accounts, issues and snippets, that took place between 17:20 and 00:00 UTC on January 31. Our best estimate is that it affected roughly 5,000 projects, 5,000 comments and 700 new user accounts. Code repositories or wikis hosted on GitLab.com were unavailable during the outage, but were not affected by the data loss. GitLab Enterprise customers, GitHost customers, and self-hosted GitLab CE users were not affected by the outage, or the data loss.

    • SQLite Release 3.17.0 On 2017-02-13
    • SQLite 3.17 Released With More Performance Improvements

      SQLite 3.17.0 was released today as the newest version of this widely-used embedded database library.

      With many recent releases we’ve seen a focus on performance improvements and with SQLite 3.17 it is no different. SQLite 3.17 features approximately 25% better performance when using the R-Tree extension, which was achieved by using more compiler built-ins and other optimizations. SQLite 3.17 also features more general performance improvements and uses around 6.5% less CPU cycles.

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice

    • LibreOffice 5.3: A week in stats

      We announced LibreOffice 5.3 one week ago, and a lot has happened in the meantime! Here’s a summary of downloads, web page views, social media activity and other statistics. We’ve also compared these to the LibreOffice 5.2 first week stats to see how the project and community is progressing…

    • Experimenting with LibreOffice 5.3

      I finally installed LibreOffice 5.3 to try it out. (This is actually version This version comes with a new interface called MUFFIN, which I wrote about as LibreOffice updating its user interface.

  • CMS

    • ‘Think WordPress’ Documentary Trailer

      Open source activism takes many forms, including the creation of documentaries that celebrate and explain open source solutions. Two bold women in France, Deborah Donnier and Emilie Lebrun are working on a 50-minute documentary in French that celebrates and explains WordPress.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

  • BSD

    • Clangd: LLVM’s Clang Gets A Server
    • GhostBSD 11.0 to Ship with Whisker Menu as Default Application Menu for Xfce

      The GhostBSD developers have announced this past weekend the availability of the first Alpha development release of the upcoming GhostBSD 11.0 open-source, BSD-based operating system.

      GhostBSD 11.0 development is ongoing, and a first Alpha build is now ready for public testing, for early adopters and anyone else who wants to help the GhostBSD developers polish the final release of the operating system by fixing the remaining bugs. This Alpha adds the missing Xfce .xinitrc configuration file and theme engine.


    • Baofeng Handy Talkie Meets GNU Radio

      There was a time when just about every ham had a pricey VHF or UHF transceiver in their vehicle or on their belt. It was great to talk to friends while driving. You could even make phone calls from anywhere thanks to automatic phone patches. In 1980 cell phones were uncommon, so making a call from your car was sure to get attention.

    • Understanding The Complexity of Copyleft Defense

      After 25 years of copyleft enforcement and compliance work, is copyleft succeeding as a strategy to defend software freedom? This talk explores the history of enforcement of the GPL and other copyleft licenses, and considers this question carefully. Attendees who have hitherto not followed the current and past debates about copyleft licenses and their enforcement can attend this talk and learn the background, and can expect to learn enough to provide salient and informed feedback of their own opinions about the processes behind upholding copyleft.

    • GNU Health 3.0.6 patchset released

      We provide “patchsets” to stable releases. Patchsets allow applying bug fixes and updates on production systems. Always try to keep your production system up-to-date with the latest patches.

  • Public Services/Government

    • Study of German weather data made easy with Rdwd

      Rdwd, an open source software solutions developed at at the Institute of Earth and Environmental Science at Potsdam University (Germany) is making it easy to study records made public by the German weather service (DWD, Deutsche Wetterdienst).

    • Government finally launches digital transformation strategy

      The long-awaited strategy for the Government Digital Service was finally launched today, more than a year since it was promised, providing an outline of how it intends to reach the ambitious goal of using its £450 million budget to save £3.5 billion by the end of 2020.

      Minister for the Cabinet Office Ben Gummer MP announced the proposals at the annual conference of public sector think tank Reform.

  • Licensing/Legal

    • How We Talk About Free Software Legal Tools

      Companies are using more free software than ever, but often with little or no understanding of the licenses or the community norms that are part of the package. When it comes to talking about free software legal tools, we need to control the message. This talk will offer ideas on how we should craft and deliver our message around the adoption of free software legal tools.

      Companies are using more free software than ever, but often with little or no understanding of the licenses or the community norms that are part of the package. When it comes to talking about free software legal tools, we need to control the message. If we let other entities fill in the gaps in our outreach strategy, a lot of context and nuance will be lost. A poor or incomplete message hinders our ability to gain more widespread acceptance of free software tools and practices.

    • Supporting Conservancy Makes a Difference

      There are a lot of problems in our society, and particularly in the USA, right now, and plenty of charities who need our support. The reason I continue to focus my work on software freedom is simply because there are so few focused on the moral and ethical issues of computing. Open Source has reached its pinnacle as an industry fad, and with it, a watered-down message: “having some of the source code for some of your systems some of the time is so great, why would you need anything more?”. Universal software freedom is however further from reality than it was even a few years ago. At least a few of us, in my view, must focus on that cause.

      I did not post many blog posts about this in 2016. There was a reason for that — more than any other year, work demands at Conservancy have been constant and unrelenting. I enjoy my work, so I don’t mind, but blogging becomes low priority when there is a constant backlog of urgent work to support Conservancy’s mission and our member projects. It’s not just Conservancy’s mission, of course, it’s my personal one as well.

    • The decline of GPL? [Ed: So Bacon is citing Microsoft proxies like Black Duck whose sole initial purpose was to attack the GPL… Microsoft-connected anti-FOSS firm.]

      It seems that in recent years that trend has continued. Aside from the Black Duck research, a license study in GitHub in 2015 found that the MIT license was a dominant choice. Even observationally in my work at XPRIZE (where we chose a license for the Global Learning XPRIZE), and my work as a community leadership consultant, I have seen a similar trend with many of my clients who feel uncomfortable licensing their code under GPL.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

    • Open Access/Content

      • A $100,000 grant would help the University System of Maryland promote open-source textbooks

        Some students spend hundreds of dollars on textbooks every semester, but the Textbook Cost Savings Act of 2017, sponsored by Maryland state Sen. Jim Rosapepe, could help students save a lot of that money.

        The bill would provide a $100,000 grant to the University System of Maryland’s William E. Kirwan Center for Academic Innovation to promote the use of open source materials in place of traditional textbooks. The money would be used to foster the use of open education resources, or OERs, among the system’s 12 institutions, said MJ Bishop, director of the Kirwan Center.

      • The Met Goes Public Domain With CC0, But It Shouldn’t Have To

        The ongoing digitization of the vast wealth of material sitting in museums and archives around the world is one of the greatest projects of the digital age — a full realization of the internet’s ability to spread knowledge and culture to all. Or it would be, if it weren’t for copyfraud: for every museum genuinely embracing open content and the public domain, there’s another claiming copyright on public domain images and being backed up by terrible court rulings.

        And so it’s fantastic to see The Metropolitan Museum of Art joining the former camp with a new Open Access policy that is putting images of 375,000 works online with a CC0 public domain declaration. The Met actually partnered with Creative Commons, Wikimedia, Pinterest and others to help make this happen, and has even announced its first Wikimedian-in-residence who will head up the project to get these images into Wikimedia Commons and onto Wikipedia.

        This is all great, but here’s the annoying thing: it should be totally unnecessary. These are digitizations of public domain works, and there’s no reasonable basis for granting them any copyright protection that would need to be divested with a CC0 mark in the first place. They are not creative transformative works, and in fact they are the opposite: attempts to capture the original as faithfully and accurately as possible, with no detectable changes in the transfer from one medium to another. It might take a lot of work, but sweat of the brow does not establish copyright, and allowing such images to be re-copyrighted (in some cases hundreds or even thousands of years after their original creation) would be pointless and disastrous.

      • The Met Makes 375,000 Public Domain Images Available

        The Metropolitan Museum of Art announced Tuesday that more than 375,000 of the Museum’s “public-domain artworks” are now available for unrestricted use.

        “We have been working toward the goal of sharing our images with the public for a number of years,” said Thomas P. Campbell, director and CEO of the Met, in a statement. “Our comprehensive and diverse museum collection spans 5,000 years of world culture and our core mission is to be open and accessible for all who wish to study and enjoy the works of art in our care.”

        The image collection covers photographs, paintings, and sculptures, among other works. Images now available for both scholarly and commercial purposes include Emanuel Leutze’s famous painting Washington Crossing the Delaware; photographs by Walker Evans, Alfred Steiglitz, and Dorothea Lange; and even some Vincent van Gogh paintings.

      • Ambra, the PLOS Journal Publishing Platform, is Open Again

        As part of our commitment to Open Science, PLOS is pleased to announce that Ambra™, the engine behind PLOS journals, is once again open source. Head over to ambraproject.org to read more and get started.

  • Programming/Development

    • RcppTOML 0.1.1

      Following up on the somewhat important RcppTOML 0.1.0 releaseas which brought RcppTOML to Windows, we have a first minor update 0.1.1. Two things changed: once again updated upstream code from Chase Geigle’s cpptoml which now supports Date types too, and we added the ability to parse TOML from strings as opposed to only from files.

    • The Next Big Blue-Collar Job Is Coding

      When I ask people to picture a coder, they usually imagine someone like Mark Zuckerberg: a hoodied college dropout who builds an app in a feverish 72-hour programming jag—with the goal of getting insanely rich and, as they say, “changing the world.”

    • Looking into what Rust can do that other languages can’t … or can they
    • PHP vs. Node.js: An epic battle for developer mind share

      It’s a classic Hollywood plot: the battle between two old friends who went separate ways. Often the friction begins when one pal sparks an interest in what had always been the other pal’s unspoken domain. In the programming language version of this movie, it’s the introduction of Node.js that turns the buddy flick into a grudge match: PHP and JavaScript, two partners who once ruled the internet together but now duke it out for the mind share of developers.

      In the old days, the partnership was simple. JavaScript handled little details on the browser, while PHP managed all the server-side tasks between port 80 and MySQL. It was a happy union that continues to support many crucial parts of the internet. Between WordPress, Drupal, and Facebook, people can hardly go a minute on the web without running into PHP.


  • Science

    • Yale University college honouring slave advocate renamed for pioneering woman scientist

      One of America’s most celebrated universities is renaming a residential college established in memory of a white supremacist to instead honour a pioneering woman scientist.

      After years of debate, officials at Yale University said they were changing the name of Calhoun College, which was named for a 19th Century alumni who advocated slavery. Instead, the college will now honour Grace Murray Hopper, a mathematician who studied at Yale in the 1930s, invented a pioneering computer programming language and became a Navy rear admiral. She died in 1992.

      “We have a strong presumption against renaming buildings on this campus,” the university’s president, Peter Salovey, said on Saturday.

    • Official University Messages – Message Detail
    • How the Anti-Vaxxers Are Winning

      It’s looking as if 2017 could become the year when the anti-vaccination movement gains ascendancy in the United States and we begin to see a reversal of several decades in steady public health gains. The first blow will be measles outbreaks in America.

      Measles is one of the most contagious and most lethal of all human diseases. A single person infected with the virus can infect more than a dozen unvaccinated people, typically infants too young to have received their first measles shot. Such high levels of transmissibility mean that when the percentage of children in a community who have received the measles vaccine falls below 90 percent to 95 percent, we can start to see major outbreaks, as in the 1950s when four million Americans a year were infected and 450 died. Worldwide, measles still kills around 100,000 children each year.

      The myth that vaccines like the one that prevents measles are connected to autism has persisted despite rock-solid proof to the contrary. Donald Trump has given credence to such views in tweets and during a Republican debate, but as president he has said nothing to support vaccination opponents, so there is reason to hope that his views are changing.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Trump’s F.D.A. Pick Could Undo Decades of Drug Safeguards

      President Trump’s vow to overhaul the Food and Drug Administration could bring major changes in policy, including steps to accelerate the process of approving new prescription drugs, setting up a clash with critics who say his push for deregulation might put consumers at risk.

      Mr. Trump has been vetting candidates to run the agency, which regulates the safety of everything from drugs and medical devices to food and cosmetics. Among them is Jim O’Neill, a former official at the Health and Human Services Department who is an associate of the Silicon Valley billionaire and Trump supporter Peter Thiel. Mr. O’Neill has argued that companies should not have to prove that their drugs work in clinical trials before selling them to consumers.

      Other candidates also have called for reducing regulatory hurdles.

    • Doctor who exposed Flint water crisis to speak at IWU

      The pediatrician who exposed the Flint water crisis will be the Founders Day speaker on Wednesday at Illinois Wesleyan University.

      Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha will give her talk, “The Flint Water Crisis: A Journey for Justice,” at 11 a.m. in Presser Hall’s Westbrook Auditorium, 1210 N. Park St. The talk is free and open to the public.

      Hanna-Attisha, director of the Pediatric Residency Program at Hurley Children’s Hospital in Flint, was alerted that Marc Edwards, a water engineer and Virginia Tech University professor, had found high lead levels in the water of Flint residents’ homes.

    • Antibiotic abuse: the nightmare scenario

      Imagine a world in which even the slightest scratch could be lethal. Cancer treatments, including chemotherapy, and organ transplants are no longer possible. Even simple surgery is too risky to contemplate, while epidemics triggered by deadly bacteria have left our health services helpless.

      It is science fiction, of course – but only just. According to many doctors and scientists, the rise of antibiotic resistance across the planet could soon make this grim scenario a reality. And if it does, humans will have to face up to challenges that would once have seemed unthinkable. The question is: when – and how – might this horrific medical ordeal unfold for the human race?

    • Hepatitis C Patent Challenges In India, Argentina To Allow Generic Production

      Resistance to high prices for hepatitis C drugs is ongoing as five new challenges against patents have been filed in India and Argentina, according to sources. Those challenges aim at allowing the production and distribution of affordable generic versions of new hepatitis C medicines (direct-acting antivirals).

    • USDA blacks out animal welfare information

      The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) today removed public access to tens of thousands of reports that document the numbers of animals kept by research labs, companies, zoos, circuses, and animal transporters—and whether those animals are being treated humanely under the Animal Welfare Act. Henceforth, those wanting access to the information will need to file a Freedom of Information Act request. The same goes for inspection reports under the Horse Protection Act, which prohibits injuring horses’ hooves or legs for show.

      The agency said in a statement that it revoked public access to the reports “based on our commitment to being transparent … and maintaining the privacy rights of individuals.”

    • Updated: USDA responds to outcry over removal of animal welfare documents, lawsuit threats

      In this letter to the U.S. Department of Justice, the animal welfare organization reminded the government that under the terms of a 2009 legal settlement with HSUS, USDA had agreed to make public some of the records it has now scrubbed from its public database. HSUS, its lawyers write, “is exercising its rights under [the 2009 settlement] and intends to take further action unless USDA agrees to reconsider this bizarre reversal of the agency’s longstanding policy” of making inspection records and others publicly available.

    • GOP fights ObamaCare PR war

      Republicans are facing a new public relations war in their effort to repeal and replace ObamaCare.

      The GOP Congress has repeatedly approved legislation to repeal ObamaCare, but those proposals went nowhere with President Obama in the White House.

      Now that Republicans also hold the White House, the challenge for the GOP is taking the long-promised action in a way that won’t backfire politically.

    • Officials: Flint to get water filters 3 more years

      The state of Michigan plans to provide Flint residents with water filters and replacement cartridges for about three more years amid the city’s crisis with lead-tainted water.

    • End to water credits brings protestors to Flint City Hall – ABC 12
    • Granddad, World’s Oldest Public Aquarium Fish, Dies at Shedd, His Home Since 1933

      Granddad, an Australian lungfish considered the oldest fish in any public zoo or aquarium around the world, was euthanized Sunday at the Shedd Aquarium after “a rapid decline” in the animal’s health.

      The world-famous fish was an aquarium resident since 1933 and was the last of a trio of ancient animals residing at Chicago-area institutions. That group also included R1, a dwarf African crocodile who lived at Lincoln Park Zoo from 1930 to 2010; and Cookie, an 83-year-old Major Mitchell’s cockatoo who died last August at Brookfield Zoo.

    • How we are all cooking rice incorrectly – and could be endangering our health

      Millions of cooks are endangering their health by cooking their rice incorrectly, scientists believe.

      Putting more water in the pan or even steeping it overnight is the best way to flush out traces of the poison arsenic, they found.

      The chemical contaminates rice as a result of industrial toxins and pesticides which can remain in the soil for decades.

      Experts have long debated what level of arsenic is safe, with new limits set by the EU in 2016.

  • Security

    • Opening Cyber Salvo in the French Elections

      On Feb 1st, 2017, Wikileaks began tweeting about the candidates in the French election coming up in a few months. This election (along with Germany’s later this year) is a very highly anticipated overt cyber conflict, one that many people in the intelligence, infosec and natsec communities are all paying attention to. We all saw what happened in the US and expect the Russians to meddle in both of these elections too. The outcomes are particularly important because France and Germany (“Old Europe”) are the strong core of the EU, and Putin’s strategic goal is a weak EU. He’s been dealt a weak hand and his geopolitical strategy is to weaken his opponents, pretty straight forward.

    • Kaspersky says businesses hit by fileless Windows malware

      Fileless Windows malware is infecting enterprise systems in 40 or more countries, with more than 140 institutions having been hit, according to the anti-virus company Kaspersky.

      The malware has not been given a name yet, but Kaspersky says it is similar to Duqu 2.0 that attacked its own network and stayed undetected for more than six months.

      It said an unnamed bank found the malware in late 2016 after it detected Meterpreter code in the physical memory of one of its Windows domain controllers. Meterpreter is an advanced, dynamically extensible payload that uses in-memory DLL injection stagers and is extended over the network at runtime.

    • Hack my car? Most believe it can happen

      Most Americans have some concerns that self-driving cars can be hacked to cause crashes, disable the vehicle in some way or even be used as weapons by terrorists, according to researchers at the University of Michigan.

      And large percentages of people are at least slightly concerned that these kinds of vehicles can be hacked to gain access to personal data.

      However, more than half have these same cybersecurity concerns about conventional vehicles, say Michael Sivak and Brandon Schoettle of the U-M Transportation Research Institute.

      Using an online survey of more than 500 Americans, the researchers asked respondents how concerned they are about hackers gaining access to personally owned self-driving (both with control over the gas pedal, brake and steering, and without) and conventional vehicles.

    • ‘Top 10 Spammer’ Indicted for Wire Fraud

      Michael A. Persaud, a California man profiled in a Nov. 2014 KrebsOnSecurity story about a junk email purveyor tagged as one of the World’s Top 10 Worst Spammers, was indicted this week on federal wire fraud charges tied to an alleged spamming operation.

    • Chap scripts remote Linux takeover for sysadmins

      Linux sysadmins with a sense of adventure: Tokyo-based developer Hector Martin has put together a set of scripts to replace an in-use Linux system over SSH.

      Over at GitHub, Martin’s Takeover.sh is the kind of no-safety-net we imagine El Reg’s readers will love.

    • Monday’s security advisories
    • Reproducible Builds: week 94 in Stretch cycle
    • Reality Based Security

      The way cybersecurity works today someone will say “this is a problem”. Maybe it’s IoT, or ransomware, or antivirus, secure coding, security vulnerabilities; whatever, pick something, there’s plenty to choose from. It’s rarely in a general context though, it will be sort of specific, for example “we have to teach developers how to stop adding security flaws to software”. Someone else will say “we can’t fix that”, then they get called a defeatist for being negative and it’s assumed the defeatists are the problem. The real problem is they’re not wrong. It can’t be fixed. We will never see humans write error free code, there is no amount of training we can give them. Pretending it can is what’s dangerous. Pretending we can fix problems we can’t is lying.

    • Ensuring Secure Practices around Open Source [Ed: Latest FUD from Microsoft-connected anti-FOSS firm, Black Duck]
    • RSA 2017: SophosLabs sees spike in Linux-IoT malware
    • Sophos: IoT Malware Growing More Sophisticated
    • Linux IoT, Android and MacOS expected in 2017, SophosLabs
    • Hackers using Linux flaws to attack IoT devices
    • Linux Security Fundamentals: Estimating the Cost of a Cyber Attack
    • Recent WordPress vulnerability used to deface 1.5 million pages

      Up to 20 attackers or groups of attackers are defacing WordPress websites that haven’t yet applied a recent patch for a critical vulnerability.

      The vulnerability, located in the platform’s REST API, allows unauthenticated attackers to modify the content of any post or page within a WordPress site. The flaw was fixed in WordPress 4.7.2, released on Jan. 26, but the WordPress team did not publicly disclose the vulnerability’s existence until a week later, to allow enough time for a large number of users to deploy the update.

    • Simple Server Hardening

      These days, it’s more important than ever to tighten up the security on your servers, yet if you were to look at several official hardening guides, they read as though they were written for Red Hat from 2005. That’s because they were written for Red Hat in 2005 and updated here and there through the years. I came across one of these guides when I was referring to some official hardening benchmarks for a PCI audit and realized if others new to Linux server administration were to run across the same guide, they likely would be overwhelmed with all of the obscure steps. Worse though, they likely would spend hours performing obscure sysctl tweaks and end up with a computer that was no more protected against a modern attack. Instead, they could have spent a few minutes performing a few simple hardening steps and ended up with a more secure computer at the end. So in this article, I describe a few hardening steps that provide the most bang for the buck. These tips should take only a few minutes, yet for that effort, you should get a much more secure system at the end.

  • Defence/Aggression

    • Bangladesh booksellers warned not to offend Muslims

      Bangladesh’s largest bookfair began in Dhaka on Wednesday with police warning organisers against selling books that hurt “religious sentiment” in the Muslim-majority country.
      But the fair has incurred the wrath of Islamist extremists who hacked and critically injured a top secular writer in 2004 and killed a US-based atheist blogger moments after he signed books for readers in 2015.
      Last year a 73-year-old publisher was arrested and his stall at the fair was shut down after a book called ‘Islam Debate’ triggered protests by Islamists who said the work was offensive to Muslims.
      Police said they have tightened security for the annual fair, which is being organised at a park on the campus of Dhaka University, the country’s main secular bastion.
      Dhaka Metropolitan Police (DMP) Commissioner Asaduzzaman Mia visited the fairground on Tuesday, asking the authorities to “scrutinise” the books before they are cleared to be displayed at stalls.

    • Think Betsy DeVos is a lightning rod? Try her brother, Erik Prince of Blackwater.

      This week’s controversial confirmation of Betsy DeVos as the nation’s education secretary confirmed another thing:

      It’s a new day for the Prince family – notably Erik Prince, DeVos’ brother.

      Prince, 47, is best known for founding Blackwater U.S.A., a private military company born in Moyock, N.C., just a half-hour drive from downtown Norfolk.

      Prince and Blackwater were Bush-era favorites, reaping billions in security contracts during the Iraq war. Under the Democrats, they fell from grace, becoming a symbol of America’s heavy boot overseas.

      Bitterly, Prince sold Blackwater and moved to Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates, accusing Washington of throwing his company under the bus.

      DeVos was almost as embattled as her brother before Tuesday, when she won her post by the slimmest margin in Cabinet nominee history: a single, tie-breaking vote cast by Vice President Mike Pence.

    • 13,000 people hanged in secret at Syrian prison, Amnesty says

      Thousands of people have been hanged at a Syrian prison in a secret crackdown on dissent by the regime of Bashar al-Assad, a report by Amnesty International alleges.
      The human rights group says as many as 13,000 people have been executed at Saydnaya prison, north of the capital Damascus in a “hidden” campaign authorized by senior regime figures.

    • Swedish police chief car explodes in Stockholm

      A Swedish police officer’s personal car exploded outside his home early Monday in an attack, authorities said, as they expressed concerns over rising violence against law enforcement officials.

      “Each time a member of the judiciary or the Swedish police is subjected to threats or attacks, it is one too many,” Swedish chief of police Dan Eliasson said in a statement.

      No one was injured in the attack, which occurred just after midnight in the leafy Stockholm suburb of Taby.

    • Six Red Cross workers in Afghanistan killed in ambush

      Six Afghan Red Cross aid workers have been killed in an ambush in the country’s north while travelling to a remote area to deliver humanitarian aid.

      Three vehicles carrying eight International Committee of the Red Cross employees were travelling through Dasht-e Leili, a desert in Jowzjan province, when they came under fire, according to the provincial governor, Lotfullah Azizi. Three drivers and three other personnel were killed, and two are missing.

    • Trump denounced Obama-era nuclear arms treaty in call with Russia’s Putin

      In his first call as president with Russian leader Vladimir Putin, Donald Trump denounced a treaty that caps U.S. and Russian deployment of nuclear warheads as a bad deal for the United States, according to two U.S. officials and one former U.S. official with knowledge of the call.

      When Putin raised the possibility of extending the 2010 treaty, known as New START, Trump paused to ask his aides in an aside what the treaty was, these sources said.

    • Iraq war allegations probe to end

      A probe into allegations made against Iraq war veterans will be shut down within months, Defence Secretary Sir Michael Fallon has announced.

      The Iraq Historic Allegations Team (IHAT) will close in the summer and around 20 remaining cases will be given to the Royal Navy Police, he said.

      MPs have branded the probe, which has spent £34m but led to no successful prosecutions, an “unmitigated failure”.

      The IHAT was set up in 2010 to examine allegations made by Iraqi civilians.

      The decision to close the team comes after a public inquiry exposed the behaviour of a human rights lawyer in charge of many of the abuse allegation cases.

    • New report shows the real face of Islamic State terror converts

      The Australian Strategic Policy Institute recently released a report titled The American Face of ISIS, which it commissioned in the hope of better understanding terror converts in Australia.

      The larger number of converts in America charged with an Islamic State-related incident or travelling to the Middle East in order to fight with the terrorist group provided more statistical certainty than could be achieved using Australian data only. The report is to be followed with a study of the societal traits of Australians charged with terror-related incidents.

    • Yes, It’s Legal To Designate The Muslim Brotherhood A Terrorist Organization

      As President Trump moves towards designating the Muslim Brotherhood as a foreign terrorist organization, we’re hearing all the reasons he can’t or shouldn’t.

      The latest tactic has been to assert that designating the Muslim Brotherhood is not possible, or simply illegal, because it does not conform with the letter of the law regarding Foreign Terrorist Designations. This is a specious claim, but made with such confidence that it requires a serious examination to debunk.

    • Forgotten mass grave in the U.P. finally gets recognition

      They were considered the lowest of the low, the dregs of the world. And when they died, they were thrown into an unmarked pit and forgotten.

      A hundred years ago, life in Upper Peninsula towns like Sault Ste. Marie was tough. People died young, people died suddenly, and they often died in horrendous ways. Many worked themselves to death, or drank themselves to death, or were killed on the job in unsafe conditions. And if they didn’t have a family, or if their family didn’t have any money, they wound up buried in a potter’s field, the quaint old term for a mass grave.

    • Undercover Panorama report reveals prison chaos

      Chaos in one of the biggest prisons in the country has been revealed in secret filming for the BBC.

      An undercover reporter spent two months at HMP Northumberland, which houses up to 1,348 male inmates, for Panorama.

      He discovered widespread drug use, a lack of control, door alarms that did not go off in one block and a hole in an internal security fence.

      The Ministry of Justice said it would investigate the “extremely serious allegations” at the Acklington jail.

    • Ministers came ‘within hours’ of suspending UK arms exports to Saudi Arabia

      Government ministers reportedly came within hours of suspending controversial UK arms exports to Saudi Arabia, official documents have shown.

      On 12 February last year, Sajid Javid, the then Business Secretary, threatened to end the exports by the end of the day, The Observer reports.

      Court documents show that Mr Javid wanted both former Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond and Defence Secretary Sir Michael Fallon to back continuing the exports, otherwise he would suspend them.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • Ecuador presidential hopeful promises to evict Julian Assange from embassy

      Julian Assange will be given a month’s notice to leave the Ecuadorian embassy if the country’s main opposition candidate wins the presidency in next week’s election.

      In an interview with the Guardian, Guillermo Lasso, of the rightwing Creo-Suma alliance, said it was time for the WikiLeaks founder to move on because his asylum was expensive and no longer justified.

    • The Guardian view on official secrets: new proposals threaten democracy

      The Law Commission’s purpose is to review the state of the law in England and Wales and where necessary to suggest how it should be updated. It is one of those rarely noticed constitutional cogs, an important institution that does important work. The law that relates to official secrets is indeed dated and, in a digital age of global publication, it is also technologically obsolete. Yet this is not at the heart of the proposals the commission is making. Instead, it proposes powers that would herald a new journalistic ice age. Anyone that published an intelligence- or foreign affairs-related story based on a leak would be open to criminal charges. Reporters, as well as the whistleblowers whose stories they tell, would be under threat of sentences of up to 14 years, regardless of the public interest and even if there were no likelihood of damage.

    • Whistleblowers keep us safe. We can’t allow them to be silenced

      The Law Commission is an important body with a proud history. Set up in 1965 to provide independent advice to government on law reform, it describes itself as non-political and has often made meticulous recommendations on overlooked but vital areas of the statute book, from criminal and family law to that governing property, trusts and other areas of commerce. Its status, value and prestige have been greatly enhanced by a succession of judicial chairs, usually of the high court and then promoted to the court of appeal.

      Yet in an age of high-octane media and politics, legislative policy has been driven more by kneejerks and soundbites than reason and research. The commission has felt neglected, with too many reports unimplemented by parliament, and it may be concerned for its long-term future. Some years ago I was visited in my Liberty office by commission officials concerned about their declining brand and influence, and with a healthy curiosity as to how better to communicate with the world beyond Whitehall. So the government’s invitation to the commission in 2015 to look at what is bureaucratically called the “protection of official data” must have caused considerable excitement.

    • With So Much Public Interest In Our Judicial System, It’s Time To Free Up Access To Court Documents

      Like hundreds of thousands of Americans, I am closely following the “airport cases” around the country. In order to keep abreast of the latest developments in one of the fastest-moving cases, Washington v. Trump, I built a Twitter bot that scrapes the public docket mirror hosted by the Ninth Circuit and tweets about new documents and links as soon as they’re added.

      This case leads a legal push that has attracted incredible amounts of public attention. There have been tens of thousands of protestors, dozens of organizations and companies that submitted amicus briefs (including Techdirt’s think-tank arm, the Copia Institute), and over 135,000 people who tuned into the audio-only livestream of the Ninth Circuit oral arguments (which was also broadcast live on multiple news channels).

    • European Parliament Demands Transparency In Expert Groups And Protection For Whistleblowers

      The European Commission is reforming the way it populates its “expert groups” which has been criticized as unbalanced and non-transparent for years. But the European Parliament is not satisfied. In a report on its own initiative passed in Strasbourg today practically unanimously (663 in favour, 16 against, 13 abstentions), the Parliament requested the Commission make public how it decides the composition of expert groups and explain which interest groups are to be represented and how geographical and political interests will be balanced.

    • After Passing Worst Surveillance Law In A Democracy, UK Now Proposes Worst Anti-Whistleblowing Law

      Last November, the UK government finally passed the Snooper’s Charter, officially known as the Investigatory Powers Act. That was largely because everyone in the UK was too busy arguing over the Brexit mess to notice that Theresa May had finally achieved her goal, and pushed through what the Open Rights Group called “the most extreme surveillance law ever passed in a democracy.” Now that May has provided the police with the ability to rummage through a year’s worth of every Brit’s browsing history without a warrant, and given permission for the intelligence agencies to break into any computer and demand backdoors to be installed for any software or online service used in the UK, it seems she has a new target: whistleblowers. The Guardian reports on big changes the authorities want to make to the laws protecting government secrets, doubtless with an eye to dissuading any future Snowden/Guardian-type partnerships in the UK…

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • Hungry Venezuelans killing flamingos and anteaters for food, biologists say

      Biology student Luis Sibira stumbled across the first set of gory remains last November: eight pink flamingos, their breasts and torsos sliced out, leaving their heads, spindly legs and vivid feathers scattered across the marshy ground at Las Peonias Lagoon in western Venezuela.

      Flamingo hunting is both illegal and unusual at the lagoon, less than 200 miles from the Colombian border. Sibera, who had been studying the pink birds that nest there for years, had never seen anything remotely like that before.

      Since then, though, he’s seen at least 20 similar cases, most recently in January, when he found several carcasses hidden under shrubs, with a shotgun shell nearby.

    • No Data Manipulation at NOAA

      Top Republicans on the House science committee claim a former National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration scientist “confirmed” that his NOAA colleagues “manipulated” climate data for a 2015 study. But that scientist denies that he accused NOAA of manipulating data.

      Rep. Lamar Smith, the chairman of the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology, and two subcommittee chairmen issued a Feb. 5 press release — “Former NOAA Scientist Confirms Colleagues Manipulated Climate Records” — as part of an ongoing dispute over the validity of a paper published in the journal Science in June 2015 by NOAA scientists.

    • Trump’s Pipeline and America’s Shame

      The Trump Administration is breaking with tradition on so many fronts—renting out the family hotel to foreign diplomats, say, or imposing travel restrictions on the adherents of disfavored religions—that it seems noteworthy when it exhibits some continuity with American custom. And so let us focus for a moment, before the President’s next disorienting tweet, on yesterday’s news that construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline will be restarted, a development that fits in perfectly with one of this country’s oldest cultural practices, going back to the days of Plymouth Rock: repressing Native Americans.

      Just to rehash the story briefly, this pipeline had originally been set to carry its freight of crude oil under the Missouri River, north of Bismarck. But the predominantly white citizens of that town objected, pointing out that a spill could foul their drinking water. So the pipeline’s parent company, Energy Transfer Partners, remapped the crossing for just north of the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation. This piece of blatant environmental racism elicited a remarkable reaction, eventually drawing representatives of more than two hundred Indian nations from around the continent to a great encampment at the confluence of the Cannonball and Missouri Rivers, near where the pipeline was set to go. They were joined, last summer and into the fall, by clergy groups, veterans groups, environmental groups—including 350.org, the climate-advocacy organization I co-founded—and private citizens, who felt that this was a chance to begin reversing four centuries of literally and figuratively dumping on Native Americans. And the protesters succeeded. Despite the German shepherds and pepper spray let loose by E.T.P.’s security guards, despite the fire hoses and rubber bullets employed by the various paramilitary police forces that assembled, they kept a nonviolent discipline that eventually persuaded the Obama Administration to agree to further study of the plan.

    • When fire gives Mother Nature a helping hand

      Cities and fire usually don’t mix.

      But this spring, strategically selected portions of Belle Isle and William G. Milliken State Park in downtown Detroit will be set on fire in what’s known as a “prescribed burn” – deliberately set and carefully controlled fires that actually help the growth of trees, wildflowers and native grasses while improving habitats for wildlife.

      “With nearly 20 million acres of forests covering more than half of Michigan’s landscape, forests clearly are a critical part of our state’s environment and economy,” said Carol Rose of the Michigan Wildlife Council.

    • Government accused of trying to kill off UK solar industry before it can become cheapest form of electricity

      The Government has been accused of trying to kill off Britain’s solar energy industry just as it is about to become one of the cheapest suppliers of electricity – with no need for any kind of state subsidy.

      In fact, according to the Government’s own projections, only onshore windfarms could provide cheaper power within the next decade or so – and the Conservatives pledged in the party’s election manifesto to “halt their spread”.

    • Dakota Access oil pipeline: Standing Rock Sioux tribe ‘running out of options’ to stop project going ahead

      The leader of a Native American tribe attempting to block the Dakota Access oil pipeline has said the Standing Rock Sioux may have exhausted legal options to stop the project after the company building it won federal permission to tunnel under the Missouri River.

      Legal experts agreed the tribe faces long odds in convincing any court to halt the $3.8 billion project led by Energy Transfer Partners LP, which could now begin operation as soon as June.

      The US Army said on Tuesday it would grant the final permit for the pipeline after an order from President Donald Trump to expedite the project. The army owns the land through its Corps of Engineers.

      “We’re running out of options, but that doesn’t mean that it’s over,” David Archambault II, chairman of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, told Reuters in a telephone interview. “We’re still going to continue to look at all legal options available to us.”

    • Sound of crickets ‘could become a thing of the past’

      The first comprehensive assessment of Europe’s crickets and grasshoppers has found that more than a quarter of species are being driven to extinction.

      According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the insect group is the most threatened of those assessed so far in Europe.

      Europe harbours more than 1,000 species of grasshopper and cricket.

    • Standing Rock Sioux Ask Court to Halt Dakota Access Pipeline Construction

      The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe has joined a motion filed Thursday by the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe seeking a temporary restraining order to stop construction of the final section of the Dakota Access Pipeline, which began earlier this week.

      In a declaration filed with the motion, Standing Rock Sioux Tribal Chairman Dave Archambault, II, writes that it is “vitally important to our people that our rights be heard by this Court before Dakota Access drills under Lake Oahe.”

    • Central New Yorkers standing in solidarity against Dakota Access Pipeline

      On Saturday a rally was held in the heart of Syracuse, all standing in solidarity against the Dakota Pipeline.

      Central New Yorkers came together at Perseverance Park as part of an international effort to stop the Dakota Access Pipeline.

      Throughout the crowd chants could be heard including, “We Stand with Standing Rock,” while signs read things like “All Pipelines Leak, All Oil Peaks” and “Water if Life.”

    • 65% of British public support new Clean Air Act, says survey

      More than half of the British public believe air pollution levels across the UK are damaging to their health and almost two-thirds back proposals for new laws to tackle the issue, according to research.

      Canvassing the views of 1,670 adults, the survey found that 58% believed the current levels of air pollution in the UK to be either harmful or very harmful to health, a figure that rose to 73% among Londoners. What’s more, 65% of those polled said they would support a new Clean Air Act to tackle the issue.

      The study, undertaken by YouGov, was commissioned by the environmental law organisation ClientEarth on behalf of the campaign for a new Clean Air Act.

  • Finance

    • Rio Olympic venues already falling into a state of disrepair

      Just six months on from the 2016 Games, a number of Rio’s major Olympic venues have fallen into a state of disrepair. Since the Paralympics closing ceremony, the Maracana Stadium has been looted, the key Games precinct has been shut down and the city’s Olympic golf course is struggling.

      The most alarming visual deterioration can be seen at the Maracana, where worms have damaged the now-threadbare playing surface, windows inside the stadium have been smashed, copper wire stolen from walls and ceilings, and a reported 10% of the 78,000 seats have been torn up. Late in January local electric utility company Light cut off power to the stadium in response to unpaid bills, claimed to be in the region of three million reals (USD$940,000).

    • Tesla employee writes of low wages, poor morale; company denies claims

      In a Medium post published today, Tesla employee Jose Moran detailed working conditions at the company’s Fremont factory and called for the factory workers to unionize with United Auto Workers (UAW).

      Tesla currently employs more than 5,000 non-union workers at its Fremont, California-based factory. Moran wrote that the workers are often faced with “excessive mandatory overtime” and earn between $17 and $21 hourly, compared with the national average of $25.58 hourly for most autoworkers in the US. The Tesla employee noted that the astronomical cost of living in the Bay Area makes $21 an hour difficult to live on.

    • Betsy DeVos Teaches the Value of Ignorance

      “Government really sucks.” This belief, expressed by the just-confirmed education secretary, Betsy DeVos, in a 2015 speech to educators, may be the only qualification she needed for President Trump.

      Ms. DeVos is the perfect cabinet member for a president determined to appoint officials eager to destroy the agencies they run and weigh the fate of policies and programs based on ideological considerations.

      She has never run, taught in, attended or sent a child to an American public school, and her confirmation hearings laid bare her ignorance of education policy and scorn for public education itself. She has donated millions to, and helped direct, groups that want to replace traditional public schools with charter schools and convert taxpayer dollars into vouchers to help parents send children to private and religious schools.

    • Betsy DeVos Has Been Confirmed. Now the Fight Really Begins.

      Several years ago, billionaire Republican donor Betsy DeVos wrote that she’d “decided to stop taking offense at the suggestion that we are buying influence.” Instead, she and her family would concede the point: “We expect a return on our investment.”

    • Congressman: Rarely used law could make Trump tax returns public

      A New Jersey congressman says a rarely invoked 1924 law could be used to examine President Donald Trump’s tax returns for possible conflicts of interest and Constitutional violations.

      Rep. Bill Pascrell, a Democrat who serves on the Ways and Means Committee, has asked the committee’s chairman, Rep. Kevin Brady of Texas, to order the Treasury Department to provide tax returns to the committee. Brady’s office did not respond to a request for comment Friday.

    • Tories to ‘secretly’ pass Ceta treaty

      CAMPAIGNERS protested outside Parliament yesterday against a government “cover-up” for refusing a Commons debate on a trade deal that puts “democracy and public services up for sale.”

      The Comprehensive Economic Trade Agreement (Ceta) is a “secretly negotiated” trade deal between Canada and the European Union that will “undermine our democracy and destroy our basic rights,” campaign group Ceta Blockers argued.

    • Feeling ‘Pressure All the Time’ on Europe’s Treadmill of Temporary Work

      After graduating with degrees in accounting and finance from a university in Finland, Ville Markus Kieloniemi thought he would at least find an entry-level job in his field. He studied potential employers, tailoring his applications accordingly.

      He wound up churning through eight temporary jobs over the next three years. He worked variously as a hotel receptionist and as a salesman in men’s clothing stores, peddling tailored suits and sportswear.

      “It’s hard to manage your finances or even get housing, let alone start a career,” said Mr. Kieloniemi, 23, who added depth to his résumé by accepting unpaid office jobs and internships in New York and Spain, mostly at his own expense. “You feel pressure all the time.”

    • The tiny bank running Saudi Aramco’s world record IPO

      Moelis & Company is about to become a very big name on Wall Street.

      The small investment bank has been hired by Saudi Aramco, the world’s biggest oil company, to be the sole independent advisor on its huge public offering, according to two people familiar with the matter.

      In winning the lucrative and prestigious assignment, Moelis will have beaten off competition from some of Wall Street’s biggest banks.

      Moelis (MC) will advise Aramco on who to pick as underwriters for what is expected to be the biggest IPO in history if it happens, as expected, next year.

      Saudi Aramco and Moelis declined to comment.

    • Islamic finance body drafts new standard for centralised sharia boards

      Feb 9 A global body for Islamic finance has issued a draft standard on centralized sharia boards, aiming to improve corporate governance in the industry and increase the consumer appeal of sharia-compliant financial products.

      The proposed rules come at a time when Islamic banks are trying to widen their appeal to consumers in core markets of the Middle East and Southeast Asia, while opening up entirely new ones – particularly across Africa.

      Islamic banks have traditionally established internal sharia boards, employing scholars to rule on whether their products are religiously permissible.

    • Brexit four times worse for UK economy than previously believed, say MIT economists

      Britain’s departure from the European Union could cause output losses of as much as 9.5 per cent, according to new research.

      Calculations using models that incorporate productivity measures show a negative impact on gross domestic product per capita of almost four times that of previous estimates, according to John Van Reenen, a professor of applied economics at the MIT Sloan School of Management who supported the campaign for the UK to remain in the EU.

    • Who are you calling Malthusian?

      My concept of a Malthusian economy involves two characteristics. First, living standards are negatively related to the size of population. This would occur if we had some sort of fixed factor of production. Typically, one might say it was agricultural land, but you could just say resources if you like. It isn’t even important that they are truly fixed. So long as the resources are inelastic, whether due to a physical limit or because bringing them into use is prohibitively expensive, you’d satisfy the first characteristic of a Malthusian economy.

    • Mexico ready to retaliate by hurting American corn farmers

      Mexico is ready to hit the U.S. where it hurts: Corn.

      Mexico is one of the top buyers of American corn in the world today. And Mexican senator Armando Rios Piter, who leads a congressional committee on foreign relations, says he will introduce a bill this week where Mexico will buy corn from Brazil and Argentina instead of the United States.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Sales of Margaret Atwood’s Handmaid’s Tale have soared since Trump’s win

      When Kellyanne Conway went before NBC’s Meet the Press and described statements made by Press Secretary Sean Spicer as “alternative facts”, it had the unintended consequence of driving up sales of George Orwell’s dystopian novel 1984. Since President Donald Trump has been sworn in as the 45th president of the United States, another dystopian novel has begun climbing the charts: Margaret Atwood’s Handmaid’s Tale.

    • Want to Make a Lie Seem True? Say It Again. And Again. And Again

      You only use 10 percent of your brain. Eating carrots improves your eyesight. Vitamin C cures the common cold. Crime in the United States is at an all-time high.

      None of those things are true.

      But the facts don’t actually matter: People repeat them so often that you believe them. Welcome to the “illusory truth effect,” a glitch in the human psyche that equates repetition with truth. Marketers and politicians are masters of manipulating this particular cognitive bias—which perhaps you have become more familiar with lately.

    • Newspaper Accidentally Uses Alec Baldwin ‘SNL’ Photo Instead of Donald Trump

      Dominican newspaper El Nacional apologized on Saturday after mistakenly using a photo of Baldwin dressed as President Trump on “Saturday Night Live,” instead of the president himself.

      The photo appeared in the paper next to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

      The photo “was placed as if it were the one of Trump,” the paper wrote. “El Nacional apologizes to the readers and to all those who felt affected by the publication.”

    • Russia Considers Returning Snowden to U.S. to ‘Curry Favor’ With Trump: Official

      U.S. intelligence has collected information that Russia is considering turning over Edward Snowden as a “gift” to President Donald Trump — who has called the NSA leaker a “spy” and a “traitor” who deserves to be executed.

      That’s according to a senior U.S. official who has analyzed a series of highly sensitive intelligence reports detailing Russian deliberations and who says a Snowden handover is one of various ploys to “curry favor” with Trump. A second source in the intelligence community confirms the intelligence about the Russian conversations and notes it has been gathered since the inauguration.

    • Key lawmakers seek probe of Kellyanne Conway’s ‘go buy Ivanka’s stuff’ message

      In a rare bipartisan move, the top Republican and Democrat on a key congressional panel Thursday sharply rebuked White House adviser Kellyanne Conway for publicly promoting Ivanka Trump’s fashion line and asked the federal government’s chief ethics official to review her conduct.

      “What she did was wrong, wrong, wrong,” Utah Rep. Jason Chaffetz, the Republican chairman of the House Oversight and Reform Committee, tweeted Thursday afternoon as he and Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., released the letter questioning Conway’s actions.

    • Russia may turn Snowden over to U.S. as ‘gift’ to ‘curry favor’ with Trump (who wants to kill the NSA leaker)
    • Russia considers sending Edward Snowden back to U.S., report says

      An NBC News report citing U.S. intelligence sources says Russia may consider handing over Edward Snowden, the National Security Agency contractor turned whistle-blower, to the United States as a favor to President Trump.

      NBC News, the only major news outlet to report the development so far, wrote that “highly sensitive intelligence reports detailing Russian deliberations” suggest Russia is mulling over sending Snowden back to the U.S. as a favor to Trump. NBC News reported it is one of several tactics Russia could use to cozy up to the president.

    • Donald Trump has successfully buried the story that worries him most
    • John Oliver Returns to Out-News the News—by Ignoring Trump

      If it were up to John Oliver, this sentence will be the last time “Last Week Tonight” and “President Donald Trump” are mentioned in the same story. It’s not that he doesn’t want to take on the administration. Far from it. But he also knows everyone from CNN to his former coworker Stephen Colbert is already doing that on a daily basis, and covering Trump’s tweets just won’t cut it for a weekly show. Instead, he’s going to double down—not on the news, but on everything else.

    • Warren seizes spotlight after GOP rebuke

      Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-Ky.) decision to rebuke the Senate’s most prominent liberal woman has significantly raised the temperature in what was already a ­red-hot chamber of Congress.

      The partisan back-and-forth between McConnell and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) was the culmination of weeks of simmering tension over President Trump’s Cabinet nominees and the latest indication that bipartisanship will be elusive in 2017.

      Senate Republicans aren’t regretting the unusual Tuesday night vote to suspend Warren from the debate on Sen. Jeff Sessions’s (R-Ala.) nomination to serve as attorney general, even though it caused a media firestorm and energized the Democratic base.

      For McConnell, it was about defending a colleague and friend with whom he has served since 1997 and firing a warning shot at Democrats.

    • Trump attacks Nordstrom over daughter’s clothing line

      The White House became embroiled in a feud with retail giant Nordstrom Wednesday, highlighting the first family’s potential business conflicts and President Trump’s penchant for attacking businesses he perceives as foes.

      Nordstrom stopped carrying Ivanka Trump’s line of clothing and accessories from its stores last week, saying that it will sell its remaining inventory but will not renew its agreement to sell products in her brand.

      The retailer said the decision was based on poor product sales, although critics have noted that outside groups threatened to boycott stores that carry Trump family products on their shelves.

      Nordstrom’s decision provoked the president to blast the company in a Wednesday tweet.

    • Want to Talk to the President? Advertise Here

      Donald Trump watches a lot of television. It is not mere entertainment for him, but also a means to power and a guide to policy. Anonymous aides have said it can be difficult to wrest Trump from the screen to fulfill the duties of his office.

      To anybody interested in a competent executive branch, this falls somewhere between mild and full-blown crisis. But every crisis is an opportunity, of sorts. If Trump gets his talking points, policy ideas, and legislative focus from a handful of advertising-supported television shows, it’s only a matter of time until these show’s advertisers and producers recognize they potentially have enormous power over national policy—or, at the very least, they can tell advertising companies that they do. Got a point to make? Don’t spend a fortune on lobbying and white papers. Just buy an ad on Hannity.

    • Shouldn’t We Know Who Else Is at the ‘Winter White House’?

      President Trump departed Friday for his second consecutive weekend at his Mar-a-Lago resort, which administration officials have labored to dub the “Winter White House.” He will be hosting the prime minister of Japan for the weekend as a “personal gift” while the two leaders discuss the US-Japanese relationship amidst rounds of golf.

      White House staff has told reporters to prepare for a presidential trip to Florida every weekend this month—a getaway, perhaps, from the cold humdrum of White House life. But Trump’s retreats also appear to be an escape from the routine transparency and ethics laws of his normal residence. Mar-a-Lago, though now treated as a satellite White House, isn’t being subjected to the same rules as 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

    • Noam Chomsky’s “Responsibility of Intellectuals” after 50 years: It’s an even heavier responsibility now

      There are determining events, especially when we’re young and formulating our sense of the world: Times when we learn how to take ourselves, where to stand, how to move forward in a fresh way. For me, a key moment was stepping into the periodicals room of my college library in late February of 1967 — I was a sophomore — and reading an article in the New York Review of Books that caught my eye. It was “The Responsibility of Intellectuals,” written by Noam Chomsky.

      Nothing was quite the same for me after reading that piece, which I’ve reread periodically throughout my life, finding things to challenge me each time. I always finish the essay feeling reawakened, aware that I’ve not done enough to make the world a better place by using whatever gifts I may have. Chomsky spurs me to more intense reading and thinking, driving me into action, which might take the form of writing an op-ed piece, joining a march or protest, sending money to a special cause, or just committing myself to further study a political issue.

    • Why Elizabeth Warren was accused of ‘impugning’ Jeff Sessions

      Sen. Elizabeth Warren had to cut short her speech during the debate over Sen. Jeff Sessions’ nomination for U.S. attorney general. The reason? She read a scathing 1986 letter by Coretta Scott King condemning the Alabama Republican’s response to blacks’ voting right efforts.

      Warren read the eight-page letter in full, including the following passage: “Anyone who has used the power of his office as United States Attorney to intimidate and chill the free exercise of the ballot by citizens should not be elevated to our courts.”

    • Leaks from inside Trump’s White House suggest staff are alarmed by his volatile and erratic conduct

      The Huffington Post reports tonight that President Donald Trump recently phoned up General Mike Flynn at 3 AM to ask him whether a strong or weak dollar is good for the American economy. The question is one thing, as you’d expect someone who managed to scam his way in to the presidency might know basic economics and civics stuff. More alarming is the report that Trump called his Secretary of Defense nominee for the economic information.

    • Ivanka Trump Was a Trustee for Rupert Murdoch’s Daughters

      President Donald Trump’s daughter Ivanka helped to oversee a trust fund worth nearly $300 million on behalf of Fox owner Rupert Murdoch’s two youngest daughters, the Financial Times reported Wednesday.

      The FT quoted a spokesman for the President’s daughter as saying that she had stepped down from a five-person trustee board at the end of December, pre-empting suggestions of any improper association with one of the U.S.’s most powerful media moguls.

      However, Ivanka Trump had previously sat on the trust’s board for “several years,” administering nearly $300 million in shares in 21st Century Fox (fox) and News Corp (nws), on behalf of Grace and Chloe Murdoch, aged 15 and 13 respectively. Grace and Chloe are Murdoch’s children by his third wife, Wendi Deng.

    • Trump Tower In Toronto Is Up For Sale And Facing Legal Woes

      The official address of Toronto’s Trump International Hotel and Tower is 325 Bay St., in the middle of the city’s financial district. Think of it as Canada’s answer to Wall Street. But the hotel’s entrance is actually around the corner. So instead of seeing a grand facade bearing the Trump name, what you see from the prestigious Bay Street side is a loading dock.

      This is just one of the many miscalculations that have undermined the Trump International Hotel and Tower, even before construction began in 2007. The soaring, 65-story glass and granite building has been plagued by financial setbacks, construction problems and legal woes. Investors have lost millions of dollars and have sued Donald Trump and the hotel’s developers.

    • Donald Trump’s criticism of Nordstrom raises ethical concerns, senator says

      Donald Trump should be referred to the federal ethics office for his tweet attacking department store Nordstrom for dropping his daughter’s clothing line, a Democratic senator has suggested.

      Bob Casey pointed the US Office of Government Ethics towards Trump’s message in a tweet, which read: “My daughter Ivanka has been treated so unfairly by @Nordstrom. She is a great person — always pushing me to do the right thing! Terrible!” Trump’s message was later retweeted from the official presidential account, @potus.

    • White House says Conway has been ‘counseled’ after touting Ivanka Trump’s products

      The White House on Thursday said that a top adviser to President Trump had been “counseled” after using a television appearance from the West Wing to promote the clothing and jewelry line sold under the brand of Trump’s daughter.

      The endorsement, in which Kellyanne Conway told Fox News Channel viewers to “go buy Ivanka’s stuff,” appeared to violate a key ethics rule barring federal employees from using their public office to endorse products. The White House reaction was a rare acknowledgment of an ethical misstep.

    • The resistance: 1, Ivanka Trump: 0

      Ivanka Trump spent the election trying to pull off a delicate balancing act: campaigning for an authoritarian demagogue while simultaneously hawking sensible office clothes to women. Now, those contradictions have caught up with her: Nordstrom and others have dropped her toxic brand. Her father’s reaction, predictably, was: so unfair!

      But it’s not.

      Back in October, Fast Company reported that traffic to her site was up 275% from the previous year and online searches for her products were up 335% from April. Ivanka’s frequent appearances on the campaign trail might have been “controversial” in the fake America, but they were paying off at the bank, as clear a sign as any that the people were with her.

    • Trump Vows to Get Endorsement for Jeff Sessions from Frederick Douglass

      Infuriated after Senator Elizabeth Warren read a scathing letter from 1986 about Jeff Sessions by Coretta Scott King, Donald Trump vowed on Wednesday to secure an endorsement for Sessions from Frederick Douglass.

      “I know Frederick Douglass will write a great letter, much better than that bad letter Coretta Scott King wrote,” Trump said. “I said really nice things about Frederick Douglass last week, so I’m sure he will do this for me.”

      Visibly angered by the King letter, Trump contrasted the “great job Douglass has done” with the “terrible, very bad job that Coretta Scott King has done.”

    • Microsoft, Google and Amazon gave cash for Trump inauguration

      Big US technology companies Amazon, Google and Microsoft donated both cash and services to the ceremonies around the swearing-in of US President Donald Trump on 20 January.

      The same companies, and a host of others, have put their names to a letter requesting that the ban on travel to the US by citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries be rescinded.

      The website Politico reported that the cash and services were quietly donated to the Trump administration.

      Microsoft contributed US$250,000 in cash and a similar amount in services on 28 December to the Presidential Inauguration Committee, according to federal ethics records.

    • Trump spreads debunked story about CNN cutting off Sanders for calling the network ‘fake news’

      President Donald Trump tweeted Sunday morning that “Bernie Sanders was cut off” of CNN “for using the term fake news to describe the network” — but CNN quickly responded that Sanders had used the term jokingly, and that he had not been cut off.

    • Trump isn’t killing the bull market. Here’s why

      More and more business leaders and Wall Street strategists are expressing their worries about what President Donald Trump’s protectionist policies and unpredictable nature might do to the markets and economy.

    • Trump posts fake Lincoln quote on Instagram
  • Censorship/Free Speech

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Open letter to the MEPs: don’t haggle over the right to privacy

      Tonight the Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) of the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE) will have to decide which political group will be in charge of the draft report and thus to supervise the negotiations over the future ePrivacy regulation concerning respect for private life and the protection of personal data in electronic communications. The choice of political group, and therefore of the rapporteur, is often neglected in following up a legislative dossier, and yet it has substantial implications for the negotiations to come, because this person will set the general orientation and have a preponderant weight in these negociations.

      La Quadrature du Net wishes to remind Members of the LIBE Committee, that the ePrivacy rule’s rapporteur should be aware of the text’s importance so as to respond to the expectations of millions of Europeans.

    • NSA Withholding Intelligence From ‘Untrustworthy’ Trump Administration, Former Analyst Claims
    • NSA so concerned over Donald Trump’s ties to Russia they’ve ‘withheld information from presidential briefings’

      A website that until very recently was published by Donald Trump’s son-in-law has claimed that US spies are withholding their most sensitive intelligence from the White House.

      For the past three weeks, according to a former National Security Agency (NSA) analyst and counter-intelligence officer, some the America’s spy agencies have begun withholding intelligence from the Oval Office amid fears “the Kremlin has ears inside” the White House situation room.

    • Bundestag grills Merkel subordinates on NSA spying

      The German parliament is asking tough questions about what the Chancellery knew about US spying. Members of Angela Merkel’s staff are on the spot this week. Merkel will be questioned on Thursday.

    • Donald Trump’s national security adviser Mike Flynn reported to NSA as White House refuses to offer backing

      Donald Trump’s national security adviser has been reported to the National Security Agency over claims he violated the Foreign Agents Registration Act.

      Mike Flynn has been accused by the Democratic Coalition Against Trump (DCAT) of carrying out political activities seeking to influence the White House on behalf of Turkey and its president, Recep Erdogan, while failing to register as an agent with the Department of Justice.

    • Donald Trump’s Cabinet: Michael Flynn resigns as NSA under a month into his stint

      President Donald Trump’s embattled national security adviser Michael Flynn resigned late Monday night, following reports that he had misled Vice President Mike Pence and other officials about his contacts with Russia. His departure upends Trump’s senior team after less than one month in office.

      In a resignation letter, Flynn said he held numerous calls with the Russian ambassador to the U.S. during the transition and gave “incomplete information” about those discussions to Vice President Mike Pence. The vice president, apparently relying on information from Flynn, initially said the national security adviser had not discussed sanctions with the Russian envoy, though Flynn later conceded the issue may have come up.

    • Man jailed 16 months, and counting, for refusing to decrypt hard drives

      Francis Rawls, a former Philadelphia police sergeant, has been in the Philadelphia Federal Detention Center for more than 16 months. His crime: the fired police officer has been found in contempt of court for refusing a judge’s order to unlock two hard drives the authorities believe contain child pornography. Theoretically, Rawls can remain jailed indefinitely until he complies.

    • American Spies: how we got to mass surveillance without even trying
    • How to legally cross a US (or other) border without surrendering your data and passwords
    • US Secret Service Prefers Belt Sanders And Third-Party Vendors To Cell Phone Encryption Backdoors

      The Christian Science Monitor has posted an interesting article detailing some (but certainly not all) of the ways the US Secret Service can obtain data from locked phones. In all the cases discussed in the article, the data itself wasn’t encrypted, but was otherwise inaccessible without the password.

      In addition to using third-party forensic software and hardware (like that of recently-hacked Cellebrite), the Secret Service also engages in a lot of manual labor to recover phone data. In one instance, the Secret Service was able to pull out the phone’s flash memory and grab data from it — although this process took it nearly a week.

    • Ex-GCHQ whistleblower attacks plans to extend dragnet of secrecy law

      A former GCHQ whistleblower has condemned plans by government lawyers to increase prison sentences and expand the definition of espionage for the digital age.

      Katharine Gun, a former translator for the monitoring agency who leaked details of an operation to bug United Nations offices before the 2003 invasion of Iraq, has spoken out following the publication of Law Commission plans suggestingthat maximum jail terms for those leaking information should rise from two years to 14 years.

      In the past, Gun has called for a public interest defence to be introduced into the Official Secrets Act (OSA) to protect whistleblowers and prevent governments from hiding politically embarrassing information.

    • NSA Withholding Intelligence From ‘Untrustworthy’ Trump Administration, Former Analyst Claims

      The National Security Agency has been withholding information from the White House, fearing that President Donald Trump and his staff cannot be trusted not to leak sensitive information, a former NSA analyst claims.

      In a column written by John R. Schindler for The Observer, the security expert and former professor at the U.S. Naval War College claims that the NSA has stopped its decades-old practice of preparing special reports for U.S. presidents since Trump took office.

      Schindler added that the NSA’s concerns were shared across the American intelligence community, and it appears that other agencies are withholding intelligence from the White House as well.

    • National Security Adviser Mike Flynn, Security Risk
    • National Security Adviser Mike Flynn, Security Risk
    • Top Flynn deputy denied high-level clearance, off NSA team
    • Cyberbullying Bill Would Grant Power To Strip Online Anonymity Before Legal Proceedings Begin

      The Texas legislature’s proposed cyberbullying bill is gathering more opposition. As we covered here last month, the “for the children” bill was meeting resistance from groups actually concerned about the welfare of the state’s children.

      According to the Texas branch of the National Association of Social Workers, the bill would put more students in harm’s way by trimming back counseling and other resources in favor of dumping the problem in the lap of law enforcement. Not only that, but the bill would expand the jurisdiction of school disciplinary procedures to cover actions taken by students off-campus.

      The bill has additional problems that need to be addressed before it’s passed, as the EFF points out. One of the more dangerous aspects of the proposed legislation is its presumptive stripping of anonymity. Rather than let a court decide whether the party bringing charges has earned the right to uncover the identity of an online commenter, the law hands that power to the aggrieved person before any legal proceedings have commenced.

    • Android privacy assistant seeks to stop unwanted data collection

      Not sure what your phone is collecting about you? A free Android app is promising to simplify the privacy settings on your smartphone, and stop any unwanted data collection.

      The English language app, called Privacy Assistant, comes from a team at Carnegie Mellon University, who’ve built it after six years of research studying digital privacy.

    • Apple is storing your ‘deleted’ Safari search history in iCloud

      A RUSSIAN HACKING TEAM has shown evidence that Apple is storing records of users’ browser history even after it has been ‘deleted’.

      Elcomsoft has sounded the alarm bells and has warned that users of Safari, the default browser for Mac, iPhone and iPad, may find that the list of sites they’ve visited is being stored in iCloud for a year or more even if they have opted to delete it.

      Elcomsoft boss Vladimir Katalov explains that the deleted data is kept in a file called Tombstone which iCloud uses to sync with other devices, ironically, in order to tell them what to delete off the device.

      Elcomsoft makes a software package called Phone Breaker which they used to find the information which they came upon by accident. We previously reported on how Phone Breaker was able to extract your previous call history via your iCloud account, as well as your backups to iTunes.

    • Cortana now reminds you to do the things you promised in emails [Ed: Microsoft not only records you 24/7 and stores it for government; it also reads your mail]
    • Homeland Security Secretary: Travel Vetting Could Include Passwords, Tweets

      Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly says the U.S. needs to “do a better job to vet” residents of seven majority-Muslim countries that the Trump administration has temporarily banned from entering the U.S.

      In an interview with Morning Edition host Rachel Martin, the retired Marine Corps general said the ban, which has been blocked by a district court order that is now being reviewed by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, “is not based on religion in any way.”

    • China to take fingerprints of foreign visitors as security step

      China is to begin taking fingerprints of all foreign visitors as it steps up security on its borders, the Ministry of Public Security said on Thursday.

      The fingerprinting of foreigners will be introduced at Shenzhen airport in the south from Friday, and it will then be gradually rolled out at other entry points around the country, the ministry said in a statement.

    • House Passes Long-Sought Email Privacy Bill

      The U.S. House of Representatives on Monday approved a bill that would update the nation’s email surveillance laws so that federal investigators are required to obtain a court-ordered warrant for access to older stored emails. Under the current law, U.S. authorities can legally obtain stored emails older than 180 days using only a subpoena issued by a prosecutor or FBI agent without the approval of a judge.

    • Uber wants to use Facebook data to show what you have in common with other UberPool passengers

      The company also seems to want the increased social integration to run both ways.

      The filing outlines an “Uber there” feature that could be embedded into an event invitation. For example, you could be looking at a Facebook invite to a friend’s birthday at a bar, hit the embedded “Uber there” button, and share a ride there with friends of friends who may live nearby, all without leaving Facebook.

      It’s worth noting Uber has filed but not been granted the patent, meaning the data mining feature may never see the light of day.

      If it does, all of this might make UberPool more palatable to anyone worried about sharing a car with strangers. At the end of last year, Uber had to issue rules for carsharing passengers, warning them not to flirt with or vomit on fellow riders.

    • If Facebook makes billions from my data, I deserve the basic income as a dividend for my work

      ​“Why do I exist?”: a question that has preoccupied the greatest minds, and the rest of us after a heavy night out, since time immemorial. Today, it appears the answer is to simply make a lot of money for Google and Facebook.

      You and I are the raw material for these social media companies. Those baby photos, the birthday party invites and the self-indulgent status updates are the coal, iron and steel of the fourth industrial revolution.

      Facebook, Google and other major technology firms harvest the raw data you produce – the pages you like, the time and location stamps on your tagged photographs, your planned travel routes, and so on. Then they analyse this information and use it to sell advertising space to third parties. Last year those two brands alone made 96 and 89 per cent of their revenues respectively from advertising. In short, they made a hell of a lot of money from you. These figures are set to increase as the two platforms push for more users to access their services via apps, be it Facebook Messenger or Google Maps, so that they can bypass browser-hosted ad blockers.

    • Why the Facebook case matters to you

      Last June the Irish Commercial Court admitted a case initiated by Data Protection Commissioner Helen Dixon against Facebook Ireland and Maximillian Schrems to its fast track and case managed commercial lists.

      The commissioner is seeking legal clarity over three European Commission decisions dealing with the transfer of data to and from the United States under what have been termed standard contractual clauses – SCCs. The legal clarity sought could see the case being referred to the Court of Justice of the European Union should the High Court approve.

    • A School Librarian Caught In The Middle of Student Privacy Extremes

      As a school librarian at a small K-12 district in Illinois, Angela K. is at the center of a battle of extremes in educational technology and student privacy.

      On one side, her district is careful and privacy-conscious when it comes to technology, with key administrators who take extreme caution with ID numbers, logins, and any other potentially identifying information required to use online services. On the other side, the district has enough technology “cheerleaders” driving adoption forward that now students as young as second grade are using Google’s G Suite for Education.

      In search of a middle ground that serves students, Angela is asking hard, fundamental questions. “We can use technology to do this, but should we? Is it giving us the same results as something non-technological?” Angela asked. “We need to see the big picture. How do we take advantage of these tools while keeping information private and being aware of what we might be giving away?”

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Pre-clearance bill would give U.S. border agents in Canada new powers

      U.S. border guards would get new powers to question, search and even detain Canadian citizens on Canadian soil under a bill proposed by the Liberal government.

      Legal experts say Bill C-23, introduced by Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale, and likely to pass in the current sitting of Parliament, could also erode the standing of Canadian permanent residents by threatening their automatic right to enter Canada.

      The bill would enshrine in law a reciprocal agreement for customs and immigration pre-clearance signed by the governments of Stephen Harper and Barack Obama in 2015. Both houses of Congress passed the U.S. version of the bill in December.

      Michael Greene, an immigration lawyer in Calgary, says C-23 takes away an important right found in the existing law.

    • Indonesia’s Aceh Authorities Lash Hundreds Under Sharia Statutes

      Authorities in Indonesia’s Aceh province imposed the Sharia, or Islamic law, punishment of multiple lashes of a cane against 339 people in 2016, the first full-year of implementation of Aceh’s Sharia’s Criminal Code since it went into effect in September 2015.

      The Institute for Criminal Justice Reform, an Indonesian nongovernmental organization that compiled the statistics, warned the abusive practice will “continue to rise” in 2017.

    • Revealed: FBI terrorism taskforce investigating Standing Rock activists

      The FBI is investigating political activists campaigning against the Dakota Access pipeline, diverting agents charged with preventing terrorist attacks to instead focus their attention on indigenous activists and environmentalists.

      The Guardian has established that multiple officers within the FBI’s joint terrorism taskforce have attempted to contact at least three people tied to the Standing Rock “water protector” movement in North Dakota.

      The purpose of the officers’ inquiries into Standing Rock, and scope of the task force’s work, remains unknown. Agency officials declined to comment. But the fact that the officers have even tried to communicate with activists is alarming to free-speech experts who argue that anti-terrorism agents have no business scrutinizing protesters.

    • Construction resumes on Dakota pipeline despite tribe’s challenge

      The company building an oil pipeline that has fueled sustained public protests said on Thursday it has started drilling under a North Dakota lake despite a last-ditch legal challenge from a Native American tribe leading the opposition.

    • Veterans unite for second ‘deployment’ against Dakota Access Pipeline

      Fireworks lit the sky at the Oceti Sakowin Camp near Cannon Ball, North Dakota on December 4, 2016, after the Army Corps of Engineers halted the Dakota Access Pipeline route. An executive order by President Donald Trump in January allowed work to resume.

    • Jeff Sessions confirmed as Attorney General under Trump, despite protest of his racist legacy

      The U.S. Senate just confirmed noted racist Jeff Sessions as our next attorney general, following a widely viral debate in the chambers last night in which Republicans led by Mitch McConnell (R-KY) formally silenced Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) for reading the words of civil rights hero and widow Coretta Scott King to criticize her colleague from Alabama as unfit for nomination.

    • Senate confirms Jeff Sessions as attorney general

      The Senate on Wednesday confirmed Jeff Sessions as the next attorney general, following a bitter debate in the chamber that saw Republicans formally rebuke Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) for the manner in which she criticized her colleague from Alabama.

      Sessions, a four-term U.S. senator, was the first senator to endorse Trump in February 2016, and his conservative, populist views have shaped many of the administration’s early policies, including on immigration.

    • Federal agents conduct immigration enforcement raids in at least six states

      U.S. immigration authorities arrested hundreds of undocumented immigrants in at least a half-dozen states this week in a series of raids that marked the first large-scale enforcement of President Trump’s Jan. 25 order to crack down on the estimated 11 million immigrants living here illegally.

      Officials said the raids targeted known criminals, but they also netted some immigrants without criminal records, an apparent departure from similar enforcement waves during the Obama administration. Last month, Trump substantially broadened the scope of who the Department of Homeland Security can target to include those with minor offenses or no convictions at all.

    • Indonesians at mass prayers urged to vote for Muslims

      Tens of thousands of Indonesians gathered at the national mosque in the capital on Saturday for mass prayers urging people to vote for a Muslim governor of the city as the country prepares for regional elections next week.

      The crowds overflowed from Istiqlal Mosque in the heart of Jakarta into the surrounding streets. Clerics gave sermons calling on people to protect Islam and vote for Muslim candidates.

      Police denied hard-line groups permission to march through the city. Jakarta police spokesman Argo Yuwono estimated the crowd at 60,000 to 70,000 people in the morning.

      Protests against the minority Christian governor of Jakarta drew hundreds of thousands of people to the city’s streets in November and December and shook the government of President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo.

    • Why Islam Likely Can’t Be Reformed

      What it would take — as I have said in numerous blog posts and what ex-Muslim Hamed Abdel-Samad, an author and political scientist, says in this two-minute video.

      As @TarekFatah tweeted from Samad’s words in the video: “I don’t believe in reform of Islam. I believe in the reformability of thinking Muslims.”

      In short, Samad says — and is surely right — that to reform Islam, Muslims must put aside Mohammed and the Quran.

      This is why I think Islam cannot be reformed.

    • Georgetown Professor Jonathan Brown Defends Slavery as Moral and Rape as Normal in Virginia Lecture

      Last night I attended a lecture by Georgetown Islamic Studies professor Jonathan Brown at the International Institute of Islamic Thought in Herndon, Virginia. I’d never met Brown and don’t know really much about him other than a brother was amused he scheduled a recent lecture during the Super Bowl.

      Not knowing what to expect from Brown I was shocked when he basically went into a 90 minute defense of slavery which included an explicit endorsement of non-consensual sex.

      While the lecture was supposed to be about slavery in Islam Brown spent the majority of the lecture talking about slavery in the United States, the United Kingdom and China. When discussing slavery in these societies Brown painted slavery as brutal and violent (which it certainly was). When the conversation would briefly flip to historic slavery in the Arab and Turkish World slavery was described by Brown in glowing terms. Indeed, according to Brown, slaves in the Muslim World lived a pretty good life.

    • Fourth Muslim group rejects federal grant to fight extremism

      A California Islamic school wanted to keep an open mind before Donald Trump took office. But less than a month into Trump’s presidency, the school rejected $800,000 in federal funds aimed at combatting violent extremism.

      The decision made late Friday night by the Bayan Claremont graduate school’s board to turn down the money — an amount that would cover more than half its yearly budget — capped weeks of sleepless nights and debate. Many there felt Trump’s rhetoric singling out Islamic extremism and his travel ban affecting predominantly Muslim countries had gone too far.

      It also marked the fourth organization nationwide under the Trump administration to reject the money for a program created under President Barack Obama known as countering violent extremism, or CVE, which officials say aims to thwart extremist groups’ abilities to recruit would-be terrorists.

    • Child veiling is child abuse, By Gina Khan

      A few Tweets after I raised questions about the actions of a senior Labour Councillor in Birmingham City Council, Waseem Zafar, it became national news.

      I was furious when I saw some Facebook posts where he was discussing with someone, allegedly a male relative seeking support from him, about how he had called on a Catholic Infant and Primary school in Birmingham to immediately change its policy on forbidding hijab. Zaffar is Cabinet Member for Transparency, Openness and Equality for Birmingham City Council; if he wants an immediate change, that’s quite a demand from a powerful man using religion.

      I challenged him publicly. I Tweeted: “Hijab isn’t compulsory for a child in Islam, but patriarchal biraadari power used to control Muslim school girls”.

    • The blogger jailed for visiting a country that ‘doesn’t exist’

      A popular travel blogger known more for his wry observations than his political views has ended up in jail – and at the centre of a geopolitical row – after visiting a disputed territory and thumbing his nose at the authorities.

      Alexander Lapshin writes the blog “Life Adventures”, where he details his transport woes, his visits to odd and unusual sites, and his thoughts on the beauty of local women.

      His popular posts hosted on the website LiveJournal feature international politics considerably less often. But his latest trip has landed the 40-year-old Lapshin in a Belarusian jail, and politicians from four countries – including the Russian foreign minister and the President of Belarus – have weighed in on his case.

    • Malaysia seizes pig-hair brushes after Muslims complain

      Malaysian authorities have seized thousands of paint brushes suspected of containing pig bristles after consumers in this Muslim-majority nation demanded a crackdown, officials said on Wednesday (Feb 8).

      Pigs and dogs are considered unclean by many Muslims, who make up some 60 per cent of Malaysia’s 30 million people. It is illegal in the country to sell products made from any part of a pig or a dog, unless the goods are labelled and kept separately.

    • Trump questions lawmakers’ efforts to curb asset seizures by police

      President Donald Trump said on Tuesday there was “no reason” to curb law enforcement agencies that seize cash, vehicles and other assets of people suspected of crimes, a practice that some lawmakers and activists have criticized for denying legal rights.

    • Saudi Arabia ‘steps up’ crackdown on human rights activists, watchdog claims

      The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is persecuting prominent activists and other dissidents with renewed zeal so far into 2017, a human rights monitor has claimed.

      Two people were sentenced to lengthy jail terms and two more detained without change in January alone, New York-based Human Rights Watch (HRW) says.

      The four were arrested after being accused of contact with international media and rights organisations, detentions which HRW says fit a “pattern of ongoing repression against peaceful advocates and dissidents, including harassment, intimidation, smear campaigns, travel bans, detention, and prosecution.”

    • Alleged gang rape shown on Facebook shocks Sweden

      Outrage and shock are spreading across Sweden over a case against three men of foreign origin arrested on suspicion of raping a woman and broadcasting it live on Facebook.

      Swedish authorities said Wednesday that the case against the unidentified men was “growing stronger” amid an increasing backlash against immigrants in a country that took in more asylum seekers per capita than any other nation in Europe last year.

    • TSA knows its airport behavior detection program is ineffective

      The reliability of the Transportation Security Administration’s program to weed out terrorists based on their behavior among travelers is coming under scrutiny. Doubts about the program are coming directly from within the TSA, according to documents the ACLU obtained from the agency via the Freedom of Information Act.

      The ACLU report (PDF) says that the TSA’s own files were loaded with research questioning the behavior detection program. The program has cost taxpayers more than $1.5 billion to deploy 3,000 detection officers at 176 airports nationwide over the last decade.

      “Academic research and other documents in the TSA’s own files reinforce that behavior detection is unscientific and unreliable,” the ACLU said. “The TSA repeatedly overstated the scientific validity of behavior detection in communications with members of Congress and the Government Accountability Office.”

    • Court Unanimously Keeps Lower Court’s Injunction Against Trump’s Immigration Order In Place

      Let’s start this out by being quite clear: this is still the beginning of a fairly long legal process. But, the 9th Circuit appeals court has just unanimously ruled that the lower’ court’s injunction barring Donald Trump’s executive order on immigration should remain in place. In short: the federal government remains barred from actually carrying out the order. This does not mean, as our President has wrongly suggested, that people are free to randomly enter the country in droves. They still have to go through the already thorough vetting and visa process. It just means that the blanket ban that caused so much havoc cannot be used to bar entry into the country. We were among those who signed onto an amicus brief for the wider tech industry, asking the court to rule this way, so we’re happy they did.

    • Muslim youth killed by friends over ‘religious differences’
    • Court Orders Small Ohio Speed Trap Town To Refund $3 Million In Unconstitutional Speeding Tickets

      The state of Ohio has had its problems with speed cameras. Back in 2010, the city of New Garfield refunded $100,000 in fines collected in violation of its speed camera policy. The city told the public that drivers would only be ticketed for driving more than eleven mph over the speed limit [... which makes one question the purpose of its speed limits]. Plenty of drivers got dinged for exceeding the speed limit by less than the arbitrary cutoff, resulting in the mass refund.

      Not that this will necessarily keep anyone from being ticketed, speeding or not. In the same year, an Ohio court ruled that an officer’s guesstimate of someone’s speed is just as reliable as radar or speed cameras when it comes to testimony. Given how many speed cameras have ticketed parked cars and brick walls, this is somewhat of a “close case” when it comes to testimonial accuracy.

    • Ohio Town Ordered To Repay Every Speed Camera Ticket Issued

      “If the government has created an unconstitutional law/ordinance that has taken people’s money without affording them the necessary due process protections, should not justice demand, and the law require, restitution of that money to the people?” Oster asked at the opening of his ruling. “Once the complexities of the law are analyzed, the answer is simple: Yes.”

    • Chris Christie Says Asset Forfeiture Transparency Is Bad For Law Enforcement, Vetoes Unanimously-Supported Bill

      Part of the reason asset forfeiture is such a problem is the lack of transparency. The funds obtained through this process are frequently hidden from the public and used to purchase everything from margarita makers to Stingray devices. The procedure through which the government takes control of citizens’ assets is also shrouded in secrecy. Cases are filed against property, not the persons formerly in possession of them. The process for retrieval is purposely impenetrable, designed to make it almost impossible for petitioners to reclaim their assets.

      Law enforcement officials claim that all parts of this opaque process are there to prevent drug dealing and/or terrorism, hence their reluctance to divulge the inner details of this particular mean/method. Legislators in New Jersey were hoping to end this unofficial tradition with a bill that would have demanded far more transparency from agencies involved in asset forfeiture.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • FCC Commissioner Thinks Ultra-Fast Broadband Just a ‘Novelty’

      One of the hallmarks of Tom Wheeler’s FCC was a renewed focus on competition at higher broadband speeds. It’s one of the reasons the last FCC bumped the standard definition of broadband from a measly 4 Mbps down, 1 Mbps up, to 25 Mbps down, and 3 Mbps up. That higher benchmark allowed the FCC to point out that roughly two-thirds of American homes lack access to more than one ISP at 25 Mbps or better, highlighting a growing cable monopoly over broadband as DSL providers like AT&T and Verizon shift their attention toward giant media acquisitions and away from residential broadband.

      Needless to say, large broadband providers (and the politicians paid to love them) quickly threw a hissy fit, insisting that nobody really needs that much bandwidth. This idea that you don’t really need faster speeds falls in line with the industry’s (and again, many politicians’) ongoing refusal to acknowledge that the broadband market isn’t all that competitive. After all, if you admit there’s a problem, then you’ve admitted that somebody may just have to fix it.

    • A Little Something Called Competition Forces Verizon To Bring Back Unlimited* Data

      Despite the rising competitive threat of T-Mobile, Verizon Wireless has spent the last few years simply refusing to seriously compete on price. That stubbornness has extended to the company’s refusal to match T-Mobile’s unlimited data plans, eliminated by Verizon back in 2011. In a truly competitive market, you’re supposed to listen to your customers and try to provide whatever they’re clamoring for. But Verizon’s tack has been the exact opposite; the company spending the last few years trying to tell consumers they don’t really want simpler, unlimited data options — and that these plans are unnecessary and unviable.

    • You’re Really Going to Miss Net Neutrality

      The internet is currently in its “wild west” phase. Illegal downloads, cyber attackers, and unregulated content roams free through this vast digital dystopia. Governments and corporations have widely debated the best ways to curb this unchecked power held by smartphone wielders and keyboard warriors. The answer has been within reach for years, but net neutrality advocates have successfully blocked any attempt to regulate the last truly free space in the world. But with the political landscape shaping up to be more unsettling than ever, the internet’s wild west phase could be coming to a close.

    • The six terrible ways your life will change when Net Neutrality dies

      We’ve been debating Net Neutrality for more than 20 years. In that time, the internet’s gone through substantial changes, and maybe those old concerns about an open and equal internet might no longer be a concern?

    • Most of the web really sucks if you have a slow connection

      A couple years ago, I took a road trip from Wisconsin to Washington and mostly stayed in rural hotels on the way. I expected the internet in rural areas too sparse to have cable internet to be slow, but I was still surprised that a large fraction of the web was inaccessible. Some blogs with lightweight styling were readable, as were pages by academics who hadn’t updated the styling on their website since 1995. But very few commercial websites were usable (other than Google). When I measured my connection, I found that the bandwidth was roughly comparable to what I got with a 56k modem in the 90s. The latency and packetloss were significantly worse than the average day on dialup: latency varied between 500ms and 1000ms and packetloss varied between 1% and 10%. Those numbers are comparable to what I’d see on dialup on a bad day.

    • How Net Neutrality could get reversed (and what that means to you)

      Net neutrality looks like it’s headed for an overhaul. For consumers, that could mean more clogged Internet speeds on some providers — but the chance of freebies from others.

      Since President Trump’s election, the conventional wisdom has been that the administration will find a way to overturn the 2015 regulations passed by the Federal Communications Commission, then headed by Chairman Tom Wheeler.

      Under those net neutrality regulations, Internet service providers cannot slow or block legal content that their paying subscribers want to reach. Content providers also cannot pay ISPs to make their Web sites or services flow faster than those of competitors. However, ISPs can set aside fast lanes for some exceptions, including public services, like remote heart monitoring.

    • The end of net neutrality is nigh—here’s what’s likely to happen

      The concept of net neutrality holds that telecom carriers may not treat some content differently than other content, depending on who owns it, for example. The idea’s merits have been hotly debated for years, eventually coming to serve as a technological/ideological litmus test.

      Liberals, typically, favored the concept, believing it is necessary to ensure equal, unfettered access to all kinds of online content. Conservatives mostly disagreed with it, claiming it unfairly and unnecessarily regulated telecom carriers.

    • Future of “net neutrality” in question under Trump

      Several Democratic senators, including Massachusetts Senator Edward Markey, met Tuesday to fight any federal plans to stop net neutrality.

      The term “net neutrality” means that Internet providers cannot discriminate when it comes to websites, and are not allowed to make certain websites faster than others. They all have to function at the same speed, no matter what their content is.

      Markey and the other Democratic senators gathered at the meeting support regulating the Internet like a public utility.

    • Wyden, Other Senators Warn That Net Neutrality Repeal Will Make SOPA Backlash Look Like A Fireside Snuggle

      We’ve repeatedly noted how for some stupid reason, net neutrality is treated as a partisan issue in Washington — with Democrats (generally) in support, and Republicans (generally) opposing the idea. It’s an absurd, myopic paradigm given the fact that net neutrality has broad, bipartisan consumer support. Most people want the internet to function as a relatively-level playing field. Everybody wants to be able to access the content and services of their choice without interference from the likes of Comcast and AT&T, who seem hell bent on using their monopoly over the last mile to their anti-competitive advantage.

      With the looming specter of a net neutrality rule repeal under Trump, the GOP, and new FCC Boss Ajit Pai, a number of Democratic Senators (including Ron Wyden and Ed Markey) held a press event (video) warning that if the GOP and FCC try to repeal net neutrality, it will result in a “political firestorm” they may not be entirely prepared for. The Senators were quick to recall that roughly 4 million consumers reached out in support of the FCC’s net neutrality rules a few years ago, a number Markey proclaimed would look “miniscule” in comparison to the looming backlash against the rules’ repeal.

  • DRM

    • Radio Lockdown Directive

      Since June 2014 we face an EU directive that threatens all wireless devices. The Radio Equipment Directive requires all devices that are able to send and receive radio signals to be locked down. This goes much further than the FCC lockdown in the US since it doesn’t only affect routers but also mobile phones, GPS receivers, and amateur radio operators.

      From June 2017 hardware manufacturers will be forced to install technical measurements to protect the devices from being flashed with “non-compliant” software: firmware that hasn’t been checked by the manufacturer to comply with applicable radio regulations (e.g. signal strenght, frequences). Many European states already have implemented the directive in national law without many ways how to circumvent the major lockdown.

    • The World Wide Web Consortium wants to give companies a veto over warnings about browser defects

      Since 2013, when the W3C decided to standardize DRM for web videos, activists, security researchers and disabled rights advocates have been asking the organization what it plans on doing about the laws that make it illegal to bypass DRM, even to add features to help blind people, or to improve on browsers, or just to point out the defects in browsers that put billions of web users at risk.

      EFF proposed that the W3C should get out of the legal arms-dealing business by making its members promise not to use DRM standardization as a way to get new legal rights to sue people for legitimate, legal activities like reporting security defects, or shifting the gamut in videos for color-blind people, or adding innovative features to browsers.

    • Indefensible: the W3C says companies should get to decide when and how security researchers reveal defects in browsers

      The World Wide Web Consortium has just signaled its intention to deliberately create legal jeopardy for security researchers who reveal defects in its members’ products, unless the security researchers get the approval of its members prior to revealing the embarrassing mistakes those members have made in creating their products. It’s a move that will put literally billions of people at risk as researchers are chilled from investigating and publishing on browsers that follow W3C standards.

    • A battle rages for the future of the Web

      The W3C, led by Sir Tim Berners-Lee, looks set to standardise DRM-enabling Encrypted Media Extensions (EME) in browsers, a move that betrays the founding principles of the open Web.

      When Berners-Lee invented the Web, he gave it away. His employer at the time, CERN, licensed the patents royalty-free for anyone to use. An open architecture that supported the free flow of information for all made it what it is today.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Trademarks

      • Fashion Law – New US/EU Legislation And Retailers: Customer Data And Trademarks

        With the prospect of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) being renegotiated, Anthony V. Lupo of Arent Fox LLP in New York reported that some clients are looking into alternatives for sourcing supply in Latin America. Panama and Costa Rica are both attractive options, Lupo said. But a presentation by Maricruz Villanea Villegas, partner at Ideas, Trademarks and Patents in San Jose, Costa Rica, highlighted the difficulties retailers face in registering trademarks in these locations.

    • Copyrights

      • First Look At UK Piracy Alert System: Mostly Benign, Except ISPs Are Requesting Filesharing Software Be Removed By Clients

        Earlier in the year, the public learned ISPs in the UK were partnering with the entertainment industries to send out “educational notices” to internet users suspected of copyright infringement. Having seen this type of “education” take many forms in the past, from silly to threatening, we have since waited to see what form this iteration would take. Well, TorrentFreak got in touch with someone who was notified through the system, and it appears this version is relatively benign.

      • Google Has Received Takedown Notices For a Million Websites

        It’s no secret that online pirates have plenty of websites to choose from. This is also exemplified by a new milestone just reached by Google. According to the search engine, rightsholders have asked the company to remove content from a million different sites. The targets include some unusual suspects, including The White House, NASA, and the New York Times.

      • Search Engines & Copyright Holders Ready Voluntary Anti-Piracy Code

        Google and other search companies are close to striking a voluntary agreement with entertainment companies to tackle the appearance of infringing content links in search results. Following roundtable discussions chaired by the UK’s Intellectual Property Office, all parties have agreed that the code should take effect by June 1, 2017.

      • Internet Backbone Provider Cogent Blocks Pirate Bay and other “Pirate” Sites

        Several Pirate Bay users from ISPs all over the world have been unable to access their favorite torrent site for more than a week. Their requests are being stopped in the Internet backbone network of Cogent Communications, which has blackholed the CloudFlare IP-address of The Pirate Bay and many other torrent and streaming sites.

      • How the copyright industry works methodically to erode your civil liberties and human rights

        In a previous column, I outlined how the copyright monopoly is fundamentally, irreparably incompatible with privacy at the conceptual level. While the copyright industry may appear behind the times — even outright dumb — it is a mistake to believe they’re unaware of this incompatibility. To the contrary, their persistent and consistent actions show they’re trying to erode privacy at every level and every turn in order to tip the balance toward preserving their distribution monopoly at the expense of civil liberties and human rights.

        To talk of human rights and civil liberties are at risk when you’re doing something that’s technically illegal – such talk can easily come across as exaggerated and hyperbolic, even objectively false. In this case, there would be no shortage of people who dismissed people who share knowledge and culture — file-sharers and streamers – as mere criminals trying to excuse something illegal. It’s a little reminiscent of people who yell “that’s against the Constitution” at every corner when they see something they either don’t like or insist they have a right to do.


Links 12/2/2017: Microsoft-Connected ‘Study’ on Munich, Chromebooks are Spreading

Posted in News Roundup at 4:31 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish



Free Software/Open Source

  • How I became a project team leader in open source

    As an idealistic young university undergraduate I hung around with the nerds in the computer science department. I was studying arts and, later, business, but somehow I recognized even then that these were my people. I’m forever grateful to a young man (his name was Michael, as so many people in my story are) who introduced me first to IRC and, gradually, to Linux, Google (the lesser known search engine at the time), HTML, and the wonders of open source. He and I were the first people I knew to use USB storage drives, and oh how we loved explaining what they were to the curious in the campus computer lab.

  • Sandstorm is returning to its community roots

    Most people know Sandstorm as an open source, community-driven project aiming to enable self-hosting of cloud services and to make it possible for open source web apps to compete with today’s cloud services.

  • AT&T open sourced the heart of their network
  • OPNFV Nearing Commercial Deployment

    It also signals a stage where the OPNFV Project’s software platform could be ready for commercial deployment — dates for which the organization is not setting directly. “We’ll defer to the vendors on that,” says Heather Kirksey, OPNFV director. But she expects to start collecting deployment data this year. Queries to a couple of the involved vendors have not yet produced responses, but stay tuned.

  • ‘Night in the Woods’ Improving Games by Open Sourcing Code

    Game software developer Jon Manning has created a very well-done 60-second promo for his upcoming talk at the Games Developer Conference in San Francisco, Feb 27-March 3, 2017 – Making Night-in-the-Woods Better with Open Source.

  • Lessons from a brief career in open source

    I wasn’t making much headway in the cybersecurity field or in computer forensics. However, I did notice that many postings used words like “Linux” and “open source.” I thought that might be a better path to take. So, I enrolled in several free, online courses to improve my skills and to build my credentials. You can find free courses at Cybrary.it, edX.org, and others. I have since been certified in Linux, Java, HTML, e-marketing, Google Analytics, and even FEMA emergency response.

  • FOSS February: A month to celebrate open source

    Open source remains a competitive means of distribution—one that delivers exceptional software to new and devoted users. Despite this, open source, its methodologies, practices, code, and the communities behind them, can be overlooked or misunderstood if they are inadequately communicated. As a professional in tech marketing in the open source space, I often find that my conversations begin by highlighting the key takeaways of open source before I can begin to graze the surface of product-specific impact.

    Open source software has come a long way over the past several years, primarily due to the contributions of active open source communities. Still, convincing an enterprise’s influencers, IT leaders, and developers of the merits of open source remains a challenge in certain spaces. While it is important that organizations take an honest, objective look at the total cost of ownership of any solution, open source or commercial, it became clear to me that impressions of open source were not always reflective of the extraordinary work and talent that can be found in the space.

  • Intel open sources deep learning with BigDL for Apache Spark
  • Intel, Cloudera open source tech unleashes power of artificial intelligence workloads

    Intel and data management company Cloudera have jointly launched a solution aimed at speeding up the process of machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence (AI) workloads.

  • Wyatt Emmerich: State should lean on open source software to save money, reduce brain drain
  • Open source code could save money, spur tech growth [Ed: as above]

    Mississippi spends $250 million a year on software to run its government. Much of this software is proprietary code with big national companies. We get locked in to the software. Switching becomes impossible. Steep price increases follow. Taxpayers lose.

    Garrett proposes a better way. Working with our university computer departments, the Legislature should create a Center for Collaborative Software Development. A portion of our state IT spending should be set aside to support this. Student teams could design and compete for state software contracts using open source under university supervision. The winners could go on to found successful software companies based in Mississippi.

  • Inclusive Development gets open source tools from IBM

    IBM is embarking on a new era of open source accessibility by releasing tooling, samples and design patterns to help streamline the development of inclusive web and mobile applications.

    They have recently released two new projects on the developerWorks/open community, AccProbe and Va11yS, to help alleviate accessibility roadblocks during the agile development process, strengthen the user experience by adhering to industry standards, and reduce costs by ensuring accessibility is done right from the beginning.

  • Business applications: the next hurdle for open source adoption

    Is open source finally overcoming the long-held reservations that still persist among some non-technical executives, and even a sizeable number of business technology professionals?

    According to Matthew Lee, regional manager for Africa at SUSE, the German-based, multinational, open-source software company, the answer is both yes – and no.

    “There is no question that open source has become mainstream in many areas. It has more than proven itself in the infrastructure space after hanging around on the periphery of the enterprise providing non-critical functions such as firewalls and Web servers. Now it is starting to move up the enterprise stack but it still faces a significant challenge when it comes to business applications,” he said.

  • Circulate on Fridays: Farming from shipping containers and open source

    Get all your circular economy relevant reading and viewing in one place every weekend with Circulate on Fridays. Today, we’re focusing on open source, the potential impact of a new EU circular economy finance platform, and why the future of farming is in shipping containers!

  • Events

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • Struggling for Relevance: Is Mozilla Really Killing Off Firefox? [Ed: Misleading and inane headline; does not say FirefoxOS]

        Mozilla has announced that it is abandoning its efforts to develop a new operating system for smartphones and other connected devices. The decision to shut down the connected devices division will affect about 50 Firefox employees, including Ari Jaaksi, the senior vice president who had headed the initiative.

  • SaaS/Back End

    • New Benchmarks Show Big Increases in Spark Graph Processing

      Companies focused on Big Data have remained very focused on Apache Spark, an open source data analytics cluster computing framework originally developed in the AMPLab at UC Berkeley. According to Apache, Spark can run programs up to 100 times faster than Hadoop MapReduce in memory, and ten times faster on disk. When crunching large data sets, those are big performance differences.

      The race is also on to speed up Spark-driven workloads. Now, Diablo Technologies and Inspur Systems have announced the release of benchmark data showcasing the benefits of the Memory1 solution for Apache Spark workloads. By increasing the cluster memory size with Memory1, Diablo and Inspur claim they were able to cut processing times for graph analytics by half or more.

  • Databases

    • MariaDB North American Roadshow Supports Accelerating Adoption of Open Source Relational Databases in the Enterprise
    • Leaders in Data Management and Open Source Innovation to Gather in Boston for Postgres Vision 2017
    • RethinkDB joins The Linux Foundation

      When the company behind RethinkDB shut down last year, a group of former employees and members of the community formed an interim leadership team and began devising a plan to perpetuate the RethinkDB open-source software project by transitioning it to a community-driven endeavor. Today’s announcement by the Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF) marks the culmination of that effort. The CNCF purchased the rights to the RethinkDB source code and contributed it to The Linux Foundation under the permissive ASLv2 license.

    • The liberation of RethinkDB

      There was just one small hiccup with RethinkDB, though it felt forgivable at the time: RethinkDB is open source, but licensed under the AGPL. Whatever your own feelings for the AGPL, it is indisputable that its vagueness coupled with its rarity and its total lack of judicial precedent makes risk-averse lawyers very nervous (especially in companies that have substantial intellectual property to protect) — to the point that it’s not uncommon for companies to ban the use of AGPL-licensed software entirely. This makes the AGPL anti-collaborative, and worse, it’s often the point: when companies license software under the AGPL that they also make available commercially (that is, under a license palatable to the enterprise), they are exhibiting the corporate open source anti-pattern of dual-licensing for profit. (Viz.: Oracle’s infamous relicensing of BerkeleyDB as AGPL.)

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

  • Funding

    • HackerOne Professional, Free for Open Source Projects

      For some time now I have been working with HackerOne to help them shape and grow their hacker community. It has been a pleasure working with the team: they are doing great work, have fantastic leadership (including my friend, Mårten Mickos), are seeing consistent growth, and recently closed a $40 million round of funding. It is all systems go.

  • BSD


    • grep-3.0 released [stable]
    • grep-2.28 released

      This is to announce grep-2.28, a stable release. Thank you especially to Paul Eggert and Norihiro Tanaka for all of their improvements, both in the grep repository and via gnulib.

    • The GNU C Library version 2.25 is now available
    • Meet the GNU Health team at SCALE15x !
    • Looking for Work after 25 Years of Octave

      TL;DR: Reflecting on the last 25 of Octave, it’s been a great experience. I would love to continue as the Octave BDFL but I also need to find a way to pay the bills.

      It’s hard to believe that almost 25 years have passed since I started the Octave project. It’s been a great experience. I’ve met many interesting and talented people along the way. I’m grateful for everyone[1] who has made Octave the successful project that it is today. There is no way that the project would be as successful as it is without their many contributions.

      As I’ve said many times, I thought the project would last a year or two. I never intended for it to be a career, but now it is hard to imagine doing anything else. There are still many projects I would like to tackle. I want to continue refactoring the interpreter so that it is easier to understand, simpler to work with, and more reliable. I want to improve the performance of the interpreter and make the GUI more useful. I’d love to be able to devote my full attention and energy to these projects for as long as I am able.

  • Public Services/Government

    • Luxembourg University sponsors open source developers

      “We have been using Debian in our HPC infrastructure since 2007 which has grown to 100 servers and more than 500 computing nodes”, says HPC staff member Hyacinthe Cartiaux. The department is part of the Grid5000 initiative which is also mainly based on Debian.

      “We want to extend the lifespan of the Debian releases to at least 5 years in order to provide a stable and safe environment for our researchers”, system administrator Cartiaux says. In February 2016, the department began sponsoring Freexian, a French company that partners with well-known contributors in the free software community to offer long term support. This includes both individual developers and companies specialised in free and open source.

    • France updates IT project evaluation tool Mareva

      The IT project management solution was first made available in 2005, by ADAE, the precursor to DINSIC. Support for free and open source software was added sometime after August 2007, when Mareva supported its use in OpenOffice. In 2014, it switched to support LibreOffice, a much more rapidly developing open source office suite.

  • Licensing/Legal

    • Three new FOSS umbrella organizations in Europe

      Last year, three new umbrella organizations for free and open-source software (and hardware) projects emerged in Europe. Their aim is to cater to the needs of the community by providing a legal entity for projects to join, leaving the projects free to focus on technical and community tasks. These organizations (Public Software CIC, [The Commons Conservancy], and the Center for the Cultivation of Technology) will take on the overhead of actually running a legal entity themselves.

      Among other services, they offer to handle donations, accounting, grants, legal compliance, or even complex governance for the projects that join them. In my opinion (and, seemingly, theirs) such services are useful to these kinds of projects; some of the options that these three organizations bring to the table are quite interesting and inventive.

    • The Linux Foundation Offers Free Open Source Licensing Course: “Compliance Basics for Developers”

      Open Source has grown from a mere idea to a philosophy that drives some of the most crucial innovations around the world. The concept of reviewing code made by others, introducing your own changes, and then distributing the code back to the community creates a feedback loop that helps individual developers accomplish much more as a community than what they can do alone.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

    • Open Data

      • A new open source dataset links human motion and language

        Researchers have created a large, open source database to support the development of robot activities based on natural language input. The new KIT Motion-Language Dataset will help to unify and standardize research linking human motion and natural language, as presented in an article in Big Data, a peer-reviewed journal from Mary Ann Liebert, Inc., publishers. The article is available free on the Big Data website until March 9, 2017.

    • Open Hardware/Modding

      • AtCore: Printing with threads

        When connect to a 3d printer with your compuer you are really just connecting to a serial device. There are some commads you can send it in the form G# and M# commands . These commands do all kinds of stuff every thing from homing the axises to feeding filment and moving the head around. When you slice your model and generate that gcode file you are making generating basicly a long list of comamnds for the printer to follow. The gcode files are plain text and have to be sent out thru a serial device to the printer. Its not complicated to parse the file you just send a command and wait for the printer to return a message indicated its finished the comamnd and then send the next command. We have had this working for some time using a QEventLoop and a while to keep the loop going until the printer is ready for a new command. This was working wonderfully Untill we realized that we were having some blocking problems when printing. After some discussion tomaz , patrick and I decided the best way to fix this is for us to split the printing to its own thread so it can no longer block other parts by hyjacking the main event loop while printing.

  • Programming/Development

    • RSPIRV: Google’s Rust Implementation Of SPIR-V

      Google developers have been working on a number of open-source projects in the Vulkan space and one of their latest is SPIR-V processing with Rust.

      RSPIRV is another project under the Google umbrella on GitHub. RSPIRV is a Rust implementation of SPIR-V module processing functionalities. SPIR-V, of course, being the intermediate representation/language used by Vulkan as well as OpenCL 2.1+ and can also be used in OpenGL.

    • Optimize PHP with finely tuned IT resources and settings

      More than 90% of PHP-based websites still use PHP version 5. Of those websites, less than one quarter run the latest supported version, PHP 5.6. Despite the release of PHP 7 in December 2015, which has been documented and benchmarked as up to two times faster than PHP 5.6, the adoption rate is only around 3% among websites that use the language. The first step — before optimizing PHP using the following tips — is to upgrade to version 7.

    • Node for Java Developers

      The biggest audience for my Node.js workshops, courses and books (especially when I’m teaching live) is Java developers. You see, it used to be that Java was the only language professional software developers/engineers had to know. Not anymore. Node.js as well as other languages like Go, Elixir, Python, Clojure, dictate a polyglot environment in which the best tool for the job is picked.

    • Morocco’s First Open Source ERP Uses Java EE 7!
    • Hazelcast’s Parallel Streaming Engine Targets Java/Big Data Programmers

      In-memory data grid (IMDG) specialist Hazelcast Inc. yesterday launched a new distributed processing engine for Big Data streams. The open-source, Apache 2-licenced Hazelcast Jet is designed to process data in parallel across nodes, enabling data-intensive applications to operate in near real-time.

    • On new zlib breaking perl
    • anytime 0.2.1


  • Private Eye hits highest circulation in 55-year history ‘which is quite something given that print is meant to be dead’

    Private Eye hit its biggest ever print circulation in the second half of 2016 – up 9 per cent year on year, according to ABC.

    The title has also revealed that the 2016 Christmas issue achieved the biggest sale in the title’s 55-year history, 287,334 copies.

  • Science

    • Hijacking bacteria to kill cancer

      Scientists have recruited modified bacteria to help fight cancer, which successfully infiltrated tumors and activated the immune system to kill malignant cells, a new study reports. Tumors size decreased below detectable limits in 11 out of 20 mice that received injections of a strain of bacteria designed to be innocuous, yet able to effectively suppress the growth of cancerous masses. Despite the fact that Salmonella strains have been harnessed to deliver different types of therapeutic agents, these strategies often require multiple injections of microbes, and relapse is common. In search of a better method, Jin Hai Zheng and colleagues used attenuated Salmonella typhimurium bacteria as “Trojan horses,” which infiltrated the low-oxygen environments found within tumors and secreted an immune response-triggering signal – from a protein named FlaB, involved in the locomotion of the marine microbe Vibrio vulnificus — that stimulated the cancer-eliminating activities of protective macrophages. The FlaB-expressing bacteria was proven to be nontoxic, and importantly, didn’t invade non-cancerous tissue in rodents. After three days post-administration, the numbers of bacteria inside tumors were 10,000-fold greater than those found in vital organs. What’s more, the combination of Salmonella and FlaB synergistically shrank tumors, prolonged survival and also prevented metastasis in a mouse model of human colon cancer. While mice receiving non-FlaB producing microorganisms displayed some reductions in cancer burden, their tumor masses tended to regrow. The authors speculate that its good safety profile makes the engineered bacteria a promising potential anticancer strategy.

  • Security

    • Newly discovered flaw undermines HTTPS connections for almost 1,000 sites

      Encrypted connections established by at least 949 of the top 1 million websites are leaking potentially sensitive data because of a recently discovered software vulnerability in appliances that stabilize and secure Internet traffic, a security researcher said Thursday.

    • Introducing Capsule8: Container-Aware, Real-time Threat Protection for Linux
    • Docker Secures Container Secrets in Datacenter Update

      Docker releases updated versions of its open-source and commercial container platforms, adding new security features to help safeguard privileged access information.

      Docker is advancing its open-source container engine as well as its commercially supported Docker Datacenter platform with enhanced capabilities designed to help safeguard container secrets.

    • After Linux; Mirai Botnet is Available for Windows

      Antivirus firms Dr.Web’s researchers have identified a new variant of Mirai bot, the infamous IoT malware. This new variant is capable of targeting Windows systems and can take on more ports than its Linux version. Dr.Web researchers have dubbed the new version as Trojan.Mirai.1.

    • Windows Trojan hacks into embedded devices to install Mirai
    • ​Google Project Zero: How we cracked Samsung’s DoD- and NSA-certified Knox

      Google’s Project Zero hackers have detailed several high-severity flaws that undermined a core defense in Samsung’s Knox platform that protects Galaxy handsets in the enterprise.

      Since launching Knox in 2013, the platform has been certified for internal use by UK and US government departments, including the US DoD and NSA. Given these certifications, defense-in-depth mechanisms should be rock solid.

    • Mirai Botnet Spreads With Help From Infected Windows Computers
    • Lovely. Now someone’s ported IoT-menacing Mirai to Windows boxes

      The Mirai malware that hijacked hundreds of thousands of IoT gadgets, routers and other devices is now capable of infecting Windows systems.

    • Finding Ticketbleed

      Ticketbleed (CVE-2016-9244) is a software vulnerability in the TLS stack of certain F5 products that allows a remote attacker to extract up to 31 bytes of uninitialized memory at a time, which can contain any kind of random sensitive information, like in Heartbleed.

    • Cybersecurity firms pilloried by GCHQ technical director over “witchcraft”

      “we are allowing massively incentivised companies to define the public perception of the problem”.

    • Wire’s independent security review

      Ever since Wire launched end-to-end encryption and open sourced its apps one question has consistently popped up: “Is there an independent security review available?” Well, there is now!

      Kudelski Security and X41 D-Sec published a joint review of Wire’s encrypted messaging protocol implementation. They found it to have “high security, thanks to state-of-the-art cryptographic protocols and algorithms, and software engineering practices mitigating the risk of software bugs.”

    • Practical Steps for Protecting IoT Devices

      The security of IoT devices is a high priority these days, as attackers can use Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks to target them and wreak havoc on a system.

      “Due to the sheer volume of unconnected devices, it can take hours and often days to mitigate such an attack,” says Adam Englander, who is a Senior Engineer of the LaunchKey product at iovation.

    • IoT Cybersecurity Alliance Will Collaborate on Standards, Education

      A new IoT Cybersecurity Alliance formed by AT&T, IBM, Palo Alto Networks, Symantec, and Trustonic promises to help solve one of the most critical elements of the Internet of Things (IoT) — security. The group says its goal is to work on IoT security standards as well as raise awareness about the topic.

      There are numerous IoT-related associations working to promote different segments of IoT and streamline the fragmentation that exists in the industry. However, this is the first group to focus solely on security. AT&T, which was an early advocate for IoT, said it has seen a 3,198 percent increase in attackers scanning for vulnerabilities in IoT devices.

    • Security updates for Friday
    • Capsule8 Launches Linux-Based Container Security Platform

      Cybersecurity startup Capsule8 this week announced that it has raised US$2.5 million to launch the industry’s first container-aware, real-time threat protection platform designed to protect legacy and next-generation Linux infrastructures from existing and potential attacks.

      CEO John Viega, CTO Dino Dai Zovi and Chief Scientist Brandon Edwards, all veteran hackers, cofounded the firm. They raised seed funding from Bessemer Venture Partners, as well as individual investors Shandul Shah of Index Ventures and ClearSky’s Jay Leek.

  • Defence/Aggression

    • NYT: Unlike Russian Wars, US Wars ‘Promote Freedom and Democracy’

      A rough look at the actions in question since Putin has been in office reveals this outrage to be, at best, misplaced. One tally by Airwars, a Western nonprofit, puts the total number of Syrian civilians killed by Russia since it entered the war in September 2015 at just over 4,000, or 0.8–0.4 percent of the 500,000 to 1 million civilians who died due to George W. Bush’s unilateral invasion of Iraq in 2003. Add to this the thousands of other civilians killed in other theaters of the “War on Terror” under the Bush and Obama administrations, including Afghanistan, Libya and Syria itself, and the idea of pointing to respect for civilian lives as something that elevates the United States above Russia seems a little absurd.

      But the addition of stifling dissent and allegedly killing journalists takes Russia over the line into Bad Guy territory, the Times suggests—ignoring the US’s own harsh punishment for whistleblowers, infiltration of dissident groups and bombing of foreign journalists. Not to mention the US’s sprawling, unprecedented incarceration system, or its unmatched institutional racism–all human right abuses leveled at home.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • Planned Espionage Act could jail journos and whistleblowers as spies

      Proposals for a swingeing new Espionage Act that could jail journalists as spies have been developed in haste by legal officials, The Register has learned.

      The proposed Act is an attempt to ban reporting of future big data leaks.

      The government has received recommendations for a “future-proofed” new Espionage Act that would put leaking and whistleblowing in the same category as spying for foreign powers.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • Welcome to the Madhouse: Scientist says Trump could destroy the world

      A WORLD-leading scientist has warned Donald Trump may signal the end of the world — and Australia could be first to face the catastrophic consequences.

      Michael Mann claims Mr Trump’s relationship to “post-truth” politics and “alternative facts” is much more than just embarrassing for the US and has the potential to destroy civilisation.

      Sitting in an office at the University of Sydney Business School ahead of his sold-out talk this week, the Penn State professor says one only has to look at the city’s record January temperatures for proof of how dangerous the President’s attitude is.

    • Huw Parkinson: Trumpocalypse Now (with Malcolm Turnbull)

      Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull is sent deep into the jungle of the United States of America to try and smooth things over with newly elected President Donald Trump and quickly discovers how things get… “confused out there”. Huw Parkinson explores this harrowing tale.

  • Finance

    • May’s Brexit Law Faces Lords Challenge After Passing Lower House

      U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May faces a fresh challenge to a law allowing her to trigger Brexit after the opposition Labour Party said it’ll propose eight amendments when the legislation is debated in the House of Lords later this month.

      Labour peers will seek to enshrine in the law a parliamentary vote on May’s final deal with her European counterparts on the terms of the country’s departure from the EU, the party said in an e-mailed statement on Thursday. While the government pledged to grant such a vote during the bill’s passage through the House of Commons, it hasn’t detailed it in the bill. Seven other amendments would cover a range of other matters, from Britain’s membership of Euratom, a nuclear cooperation agreement, to the rights of EU citizens resident in Britain.

    • Donald Trump calls NSA at 3am to clear doubt on US economy

      The US President called National Security Advisor Mike Flynn at 3am seeking clarity on what a rising or falling currency actually means for the US economy.

    • Let’s dump CETA once and for all!

      On 15 February, the European Parliament will decide whether to ratify the Canada-EU Trade Agreement (CETA). In choosing to back this agreement, MEPs would allow its partial implementation and would open the door for the next steps of the legislative process, which could lead to its complete and definitive implementation. On the other hand, rejecting it would be a death-blow for the agreement, just as it was for ACTA in July 2012. Beyond the unacceptable procedure of its elaboration, CETA is a grave threat to our liberties and fundamental rights. Therefore, La Quadrature du Net calls upon MEPs to oppose it strongly.

    • Please Write to Your MEPs About Next Week’s Critical – and Final – CETA Vote

      Next Wednesday, the European Parliament will have its final vote on the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement, or CETA. If you were hoping to influence your UK MP on this, it’s too late: last week, the government sneaked through a vote on CETA without anyone noticing. It passed, of course, but given the absence of real democracy – or an opposition party – in the UK, that’s no surprise.

    • Labour’s Failure and Institutional Analysis

      Jeremy Corbyn’s failure to oppose Brexit in Parliament is as culpable as Harriet Harman’s failure to oppose welfare cuts. It will haunt Labour just as much. The job of opposition is to oppose. We currently have a more right wing government than I imagined the UK would ever see in my lifetime, and it is riding a tide of racist populism in England and Wales, barked on by a far right media whose ownership and world view is ever more concentrated. This is no time to drop the duty of resistance.

      Corbyn’s view of the EU is ambivalent. Both major English and Welsh parties are led by people who are at least highly sympathetic to Brexit. That is a democratic failure when 47 per cent of the English and Welsh voters supported the EU.

      The problem with the EU as a cause is that it is supported by some extremely unpleasant people. Straw (father and son), Mandelson, Osborne. The EU has nobody given media coverage to speak for it in the UK that is not amongst the most despised members of the political class. And in criticising Corbyn’s failure to oppose Brexit, I find myself echoing Blairites, which is uncomfortable.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Obama’s Lost Army

      The question of why—why the president and his team failed to activate the most powerful political weapon in their arsenal—has long been one of the great mysteries of the Obama era. Now, thanks to previously unpublished emails and memos obtained by the New Republic—some from the John Podesta archive released by WikiLeaks, and others made available by Obama insiders—it’s possible for the first time to see the full contours of why Movement 2.0 failed, and what could have been.

    • Saudis foot tab at Trump hotel

      A lobbying firm working for Saudi Arabia paid for a room at Donald Trump’s Washington hotel after Inauguration Day, marking the first publicly known payment on behalf of a foreign government to a Trump property since he became president.

      Qorvis MSLGroup, a communications firm that lobbies for the Saudis, has been organizing veterans and other activists to come to Washington to urge Congress to repeal the law letting 9/11 victims’ families sue the kingdom. Between 20 and 40 veterans, with the assistance of the advocacy group NMLB, stayed at the Trump International Hotel on Pennsylvania Avenue in December and January.

    • Lift A Rock – Find Creepy Crawlies

      Where does Trump find these crackpots? He’s invited a guy who has fought against every reasonable attempt by government to preserve the environment for later generations to take over the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency). This isn’t about Free Speech, having an opinion, etc. It’s about propagandizing harm to the environment.

      See also Myron Ebell: Paris Agreement ‘a dead end’ where this guy spouts lies about going to renewable energy being a burden on the economy. He even denies China is busy adopting renewable energy. That’s absolute crap. China is the world’s biggest producer of renewable energy and they are intent on taking a serious dent out of fossil fuel usage.

    • Spread it on Reddit

      On December 23, German Chancellor Angela Merkel was given an unexpected early Christmas present: a conspiracy theory accusing her of deliberately allowing Islamic State terrorists to operate in Europe so that she could unleash an “EU Army” against fellow EU member states.

      The story was a flimsy fake, and failed to penetrate beyond a handful of conspiracy and disinformation sites. It is nonetheless worth studying, as it illustrates the methods which far-right commentators are using to spread disinformation ahead of this year’s German and French elections, especially on Reddit.

    • Trump vexed by challenges, scale of government

      The new president’s allies say he has been surprised that government can’t be run like his business.

    • President Trump’s White House Reaching New Lows In Accountability And Transparency

      It’s still very early in the Trump presidency, but so far, things aren’t looking good. Overt and implicit threats to freedom of speech continue to linger in the air. Recent comments suggest Trump will look to roll back the few measures taken over the last few years to curb asset forfeiture abuse. Wording in one of President Trump’s first presidential statements suggests the administration is going to value “law and order” over citizens’ rights. Then there’s the travel ban, which is being contested in federal courts.

      We’re now seeing a rollback of the few transparency and accountability objectives the supposed-Most Transparent President Ever managed to accomplish over eight years of generally making things worse on both fronts.

      This follows Trump’s secrecy during his presidential campaign, where he shrugged off over four decades of precedent by refusing to release his tax returns. He’s made it clear on multiple occasions — while standing in front of a memorial to dead CIA operatives and during his Black History Month speech — that he does not trust the media. But the actions taken during the first few weeks of his presidency suggest he also does not trust the general public.

    • In a first, Wikipedia has deemed the Daily Mail too “unreliable” to be used as a citation
    • Wikipedia editors ban Daily Mail as source
    • Daily Mail branded “fake news” by Wikipedia
    • Daily Mail Hits Back At Wikipedia After It Bans Tabloid As Source, Calling It Unreliable
    • Wikipedia’s Daily Mail Ban Is a Welcome Rebuke to Terrible Journalism
    • Prepare your popcorn: Wikipedia deems the Daily Mail unreliable
    • Wikipedia bans Daily Mail as ‘unreliable’ source
    • Can’t Judge Fake News in the Dark

      This isn’t about Trump. It’s about judging the media, whoever and whatever they report on. It is about reading critically when so much out there is just simply inaccurate. Not maybe inaccurate, pure dead solid perfect stupid. So don’t call me a nazi.

      Step One is to note if the story you’re reading/seeing is all or mostly unsourced, or anonymously sourced. Red flag.

    • On Iran, SPLC’s ‘Extremist’ Is NPR’s ‘Expert’

      Last week, the Trump administration began ratcheting up hostilities with Iran, nominally in response to a ballistic missile test in late January. NPR (2/2/17) dutifully reported Trump’s announcement of new sanctions on Iran, framing the issue as the Trump White House responding to an Iranian “provocation” in regards to Iran’s agreement with the UN, rather than simply executing long-held plans. A follow-up explainer by international correspondent Peter Kenyon (2/3/17) would muddy the waters further and use an incredibly dodgy source to do so.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Merkel to Testify Before German Parliament Panel Probing NSA

      German Chancellor Angela Merkel is scheduled to testify before a German parliamentary panel investigating U.S. intelligence activities in the country.

      The inquiry was launched a year after former NSA contractor Edward Snowden revealed details of secret U.S. eavesdropping programs in 2013. The panel is investigating alleged eavesdropping in Germany by the U.S. National Security Agency and its relationship with German counterparts.

    • Ex-CIA analyst: Pentagon has files that ‘completely vindicate’ NSA whistleblower Thomas Drake

      Former CIA analyst Pat Eddington is suing the Department of Defense over a 2010 case in which a former National Security Agency employee was charged with espionage after speaking to a reporter with the Baltimore Sun. Thomas Drake faced charges in 2010 after speaking with the reporter about an intelligence program that he believed was a violation of Americans’ civil liberties.

    • Former CIA Analyst Sues Defense Department to Vindicate NSA Whistleblowers

      In 2010, Thomas Drake, a former senior employee at the National Security Agency, was charged with espionage for speaking to a reporter from the Baltimore Sun about a bloated, dysfunctional intelligence program he believed would violate Americans’ privacy. The case against him eventually fell apart, and he pled guilty to a single misdemeanor, but his career in the NSA was over.

      Though Drake was largely vindicated, the central question he raised about technology and privacy has never been resolved. Almost seven years have passed now, but Pat Eddington, a former CIA analyst, is still trying to prove that Drake was right.

    • Court Says Microsoft Can Sue Government Over First Amendment-Violating Gag Orders
    • Ohio Arsonist Gets Busted By His Own Pacemaker

      When we talk about pacemakers here at Techdirt, the focus is usually on how the devices have paper-mache grade security, allowing anybody to assassinate the cardiac-challenged with relative ease. In fact we’ve reached the point where the FTC had to recently issue its first ever warning against a pacemaker vendor when it announced that hackers could comprmise pacemakers made by St. Jude Medical, sending “commands to the implanted device, which could result in rapid battery depletion and/or administration of inappropriate pacing or shocks.”

      But your pacemaker may just betray you in other ways, too. In Ohio a man was indicted this week on arson and insurance fraud charges after his Pacemaker data contradicted the story he was telling authorities. When the man’s home burned down on September 19, Middletown resident Ross Compton told authorities he quickly packed some belongings in a suitcase and some bags, broke a window with his cane, and quickly fled through the window before carrying his belongings back to the car. The man also acknowledged at the time that he had a pacemaker.

    • DHS Secretary Says Agency Is Planning On Demanding Foreigners’ Social Media Account Passwords

      Last summer, the DHS started asking visitors to the US to supply their social media handles. It was all on a strictly voluntary basis, of course. But that doesn’t mean some immigrants and visa seekers didn’t do exactly as they were asked, either due to a language barrier or figuring that turning down this request might harm their chances of entering the country.

      Six months later, the DHS made it more official, unofficially. An “optional” section in the DHS’s online visa application process asked for account info for multiple social media platforms, including (strangely) Github and JustPasteIt. Again, officials assured everyone this was optional and the information was to be used to assess the threat levels of incoming foreigners. Again, the DHS probably harvested a fair amount of information despite the optional nature of the request. Like any cop asking if you’d “mind if they look around the car a little bit,” the request carried unspoken threats that things might be a bit more difficult if the request was denied.

    • Fake Intelligence

      Here’s a recent interview I did for RT UK’s flagship news programme, Going Underground with Afshin Rattansi, about the whole fake news, fake intelligence allegations swirling around President Trump’ administration at the moment…

    • UK Train Operators Plan To Charge Passengers Using Their Biometrics

      At least Bluetooth signals have the virtue of operating quite quickly, and from a certain distance. It’s hard to see how fingerprints or iris scans will be so slick in practice. As we’ve noted before, there are serious problems with getting fingerprint scans for the general public to work on a large scale, and those difficulties are likely to be exacerbated when people are in a hurry to catch a train.

      Iris scans typically require the subject to stand on a certain spot and to keep still while their eye is checked. As anyone who has been through some airports around the world knows, iris scans often take several attempts to recognize someone, and may fail altogether, which requires a manual check elsewhere. In the context of a busy station, this seems a recipe for disaster.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Secretive anti-subversion police units are no way to combat Britain’s far right

      Of course I wanted to cheer when I heard the news that the government is paying M&C Saatchi to combat hate campaigners, along with an anti-subversion unit targeting violent rightwingers as part of a £60m budget to fight extremism. I wanted to cheer but didn’t. Does this sort of advertising work? Has it been tested?

      I have always thought the government and police have a blind spot when it comes to rightwing ideologues and their followers. However, having spent years as an environmental activist and Green party politician – part of a movement that is still on the receiving end of repressive police tactics – I’ve learned the value of being clear about definitions. As a democrat and advocate of civil rights for all, I don’t want people being locked up for having vile opinions, or any kind of thought crime.

    • U.S. Court of Appeals Upholds Suspension of Immigration Executive Order

      We are pleased with today’s decision by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals to uphold the District Court of Washington’s suspension of the U.S. Executive Order on immigration.

    • Trump Says There’s ‘No Reason’ To Scale Back Asset Forfeiture; Threatens Career Of Senator Backing Forfeiture Reform

      Here comes some more law and order, courtesy of our new law and order President. President Trump met with a group of sheriffs on Tuesday and offered to start rolling back civil asset forfeiture reforms. Apparently, it’s time to reset the clock on forfeiture, bringing us back to a time when the process wasn’t so heavily-criticized. But Trump’s not offering to curb abuse. He just fails to see why so many people think it’s a bad idea.

    • Confirmed: TSA’s Behavioral Detection Program Is Useless, Biased, And Based On Junk Science

      Thanks to FOIA requests (and lawsuits), the ACLU has gathered enough documents to provide a comprehensive report [PDF] on the worthlessness of the TSA’s “Behavioral Detection” program. Meant to give the agency a better way of proactively thwarting acts of terrorism, the program instead opts for lazy profiling, dubious readings of behavioral cues, and junk science.

    • UK Police Spy On Journalists At Small Town Paper, Gather One Million Minutes Worth Of Call Data

      The UK’s top spy agencies have been known to place journalists under surveillance. Leaked Snowden documents showed GCHQ collected emails from news organizations such as the New York Times, BBC, and Washington Post. More accusations of spying were raised by UK journalists, detailing what appeared to be a clear abuse of the country’s anti-terror laws — laws particularly prone to exploitation thanks to generous loopholes and a minimum of oversight.

      It wasn’t just spy agencies doing the spying. In the case of the UK journalists, it was also local law enforcement digging through their emails and phone calls in hopes of identifying sources and leakers. More evidence of police surveillance of journalists has come to light, as reported by the Associated Press. Once again, it’s law enforcement looking to uncover sources and whistleblowers, rather than terrorists or criminals.

    • Trump Issues Executive Orders To Make A Safe Nation Safe And Protect Cops Who Don’t Need Protection

      More Executive Orders have been issued by Donald Trump. The latest skew heavily in favor of Trump’s recent conversational partners: members of law enforcement.

      Earlier this week in a meeting with several sheriffs, Trump voiced his support for asset forfeiture and made an off-hand comment about ruining the careers of legislators engaged in reform efforts. Great fun was had by all… mostly Trump and perhaps a sheriff or two.

      One order does nothing more than what large bureaucracies do best: institute task forces. Trump’s task force is charged with “crime reduction and public safety.” The DOJ will head this up and ask for cooperation from local law enforcement agencies. The public safety priorities are definitely Trump’s, though.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Trademarks

      • KYLIE trade mark battle spinning around

        The dispute began back in April 2015 when Kylie Jenner (a member of the Kardashian family) attempted to register KYLIE in the USA for advertising and endorsement services.

        Kylie Minogue opposed the application. It is rare for oppositions to be quoted in the press, but the description of Jenner as a “secondary reality television personality” has been repeated in almost every report of the dispute.

    • Copyrights

      • The top US copyright plaintiffs since 2015 revealed

        The Central District of California and Southern District of New York are the top districts for US copyright litigation since 2009, a Lex Machina report reveals. In the past year, textile pattern litigation has increased greatly, while file-sharing cases have dropped


Links 9/2/2017: Atom 1.14, Wine-Staging 2.1, Sailfish OS 2.1.0

Posted in News Roundup at 7:56 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish



  • Back Yard Linux

    My how times have changed.

    It wasn’t long ago that Linux users couldn’t get any respect. People on the street had absolutely never even heard of Linux, and if you needed the services of technical support, like from your ISP, you might as well forget it. Back in the day, the help desk’s favorite thing to say was “we don’t support Linux.”

    What they meant, of course, was that they had no clue on how to do anything in Linux. They were skilled at guiding users through arcane parts of Windows to determine whether the problem was with the company’s servers or with the customer’s computer. If the truth be known, they didn’t really know anything about Windows either, but they had a script.

  • Desktop

    • Fwupd Updated With New Support, Developer Endorses Dell For Linux

      Longtime GNOME developer Richard Hughes has announced a new release of fwupd, the open-source utility for updating firmware on Linux in a safe, automatic, and reliable manner.

      Fwupd continues advancing for making it much easier to upgrade firmware for many systems from the Linux desktop. Fwupd supports UEFI capsule updates and other interfaces while for end-users it can be run from the command-line or via front-ends like with GNOME Software integration. With today’s first new release on their fwupd-0.8 branch, there are not only fixes but also new features.

    • New fwupd release, and why you should buy a Dell
  • Server

  • Kernel Space

    • Linux 3.18.48

      I’m announcing the release of the 3.18.48 kernel.

      Wait, what? Yeah, 3.18.48, you read that right.

      Turns out there was a bug in 3.18.47 in one of the backports. And a bug
      in 3.18.27 as well, with one of the backports there. And a very minor
      issue in the 3.18.28 release, but no one cares about the debug messages
      for a specific scsi driver, so you can just ignore that issue…

    • Open Source MANO Interoperates with 10 NFV Infrastructures

      At NFV Plugtests hosted by ETSI last week, the Open Source MANO (OSM) group tested its code for interoperability with various network function virtualization (NFV) infrastructures and virtual network functions (VNFs).

      Participants at the Plugtests were provided with different combinations of VNFs, NFV infrastructures, and orchestrators, and they were given about an hour-and-a-half to make it all interoperate. OSM’s orchestrator software interoperated successfully with all 10 of the NFV infrastructures and all of the 15 “official” VNFs (5 additional VNFs were considered “test” VNFs).

    • Blockchain: The Invisible Technology That’s Changing the World

      Blockchain isn’t a household buzzword, like the cloud or the Internet of Things. It’s not an in-your-face innovation you can see and touch as easily as a smartphone or a package from Amazon. But when it comes to our digital lives—every digital transaction; exchange of value, goods and services; or private data —blockchain is the answer to a question we’ve been asking since the dawn of the internet age: How can we collectively trust what happens online?

      Every year we run more of our lives—more core functions of our governments, economies, and societies—on the internet. We do our banking online. We shop online. We log into apps and services that make up our digital selves and send information back and forth. Think of blockchain as a historical fabric underneath recording everything that happens exactly as it occurs. Then the chain stitches that data into encrypted blocks that can never be modified and scatters the pieces across a worldwide network.

    • Linux 4.9.9

      I’m announcing the release of the 4.9.9 kernel.

      All users of the 4.9 kernel series must upgrade.

      The updated 4.9.y git tree can be found at:
      git://git.kernel.org/pub/scm/linux/kernel/git/stable/linux-stable.git linux-4.9.y
      and can be browsed at the normal kernel.org git web browser:


    • Linux 4.4.48
    • Linux Kernel 3.18 Reaches End of Life, Users Urged to Move to Linux 4.9 or 4.4

      Today, February 8, 2017, renowned Linux kernel maintainer Greg Kroah-Hartman put an end to the release cycle of the long-term supported (LTS) Linux 3.18 kernel series by releasing what appears to be the last hotfix.

      Linux kernel 3.18.48 LTS is here and is the last in the series, which was marked for a January 2017 extinction since mid-April last year. According to the appended shortlog, the new patch changes a total of 50 files, with 159 insertions and 351 deletions.

    • Inside Real-Time Linux

      Real-time Linux (RTL), a form of mainline Linux enabled with PREEMPT_RT, has come a long way in the past decade. Some 80 percent of the deterministic PREEMPT_RT patch is now available in the mainline kernel itself. Yet, backers of the strongest alternative to the single-kernel RTL on Linux — the dual-kernel Xenomai — continue to claim a vast superiority in reduced latency. In an Embedded Linux Conference Europe presentation in October, Jan Altenberg rebutted these claims while offering an overview of the real-time topic.

    • Introduction to Realtime Linux
    • Graphics Stack

      • Threaded GL Dispatch Code For Mesa Sent Out For Review

        Marek Olšák volleyed the 26 patches needed for Mesa supporting threaded OpenGL dispatch onto the Mesa mailing list for some additional public review.

        For the background to the story, read Mesa Threaded OpenGL Dispatch Finally Landing, Big Perf Win For Some Games. Long story short, the RadeonSI developers are interested in merging the OpenGL threaded dispatch support into core Mesa. The code has been floating around for a few years un-merged but has the potential for affecting some Linux games with greater performance, such as Borderlands 2 as one example where it can be as much as 70% faster.

      • Samsung Exynos DRM Changes Queued For Linux 4.11

        Inki Dae has submitted the Exynos DRM driver changes to DRM-Next as material for the upcoming Linux 4.11 cycle.

      • RadeonSI Patches Emerge For ARB_sparse_buffer
      • GDC sounds like it will be fun this year with AMD, NVIDIA, Khronos, Unity & Croteam all talking Vulkan

        This year’s GDC sounds like it might be quite interesting! AMD, NVIDIA, Khronos, Unity, Croteam and more have announced they will be doing a bunch of talks and some of them will be about Vulkan.

      • Watch this video of David Airlie (Redhat) talking about Vulkan and other bits

        Something that sadly got buried in my inbox is this video of David Airlie (Redhat) talking about the Vulkan Graphics API.

      • Another Potential CPU Optimization For Mesa: Quadratic Probing

        Mesa developer Thomas Helland is looking at reviving an old set of Mesa patches that could help out in some CPU-bound scenarios.

        Helland re-discovered some old Mesa patches from April 2015 for implementing quadratic probing in hash tables for being faster rather than the linear re-probing hash table as is used currently. Helland explained further in the patch, “This will allow us to remove the large static table and use a power of two hash table size that we can compute on the fly. We can use bitmasking instead of modulo to fit our hash in the table, and it’s less code. By using the algorithm hash = sh + i/2 + i*i/2 we are guaranteed that all retries from the quad probing are distinct, and so we should be able to completely fill the table.”

      • Libinput X.Org Driver Updated With New Capabilities

        Libinput is the input handling library that originated with Wayland but has since been adopted by Mir as well as X.Org when using the xf86-input-libinput handling driver. This xf86-input-libinput adaptation for X.Org Servers has seen a new release today.

        Last month marked the libinput 1.6 release with new features to the input library. Now xf86-input-libinput has been upgraded for improving the support for this generic input handling implementation on xorg-server systems.

      • RadeonSI Working Toward Better Rocket League Performance

        Marek Olšák has posted a set of patches today to the Mesa mailing list and they should help some Linux games, at least Rocket League.

      • Wayland’s Weston 2.0 Beta Released

        One day after the Wayland 1.13 Beta, the reference Weston compositor is updated to its 2.0 beta state.

        Wayland’s reference compositor, Weston, is moving to version 2.0 rather than version 1.13 since its new output configuration ABI has broken Weston’s ABI. In addition to the new output handling API, Weston 2.0 has seen work on DRM compositor improvements, support for using EGL_KHR_swap_buffers_with_damage, initial window positioning for XWayland apps, desktop shell refinements, and other improvements.

    • Benchmarks

      • Intel Celeron/Pentium/Core i3/i5/i7 – NVIDIA vs. AMD Linux Gaming Performance

        Five AMD/NVIDIA graphics cards tested on five different Intel Kabylake processors from a low-end $40 Celeron CPU to a high-end Core i7 7700K is the focus of today’s Linux benchmarking. Various OpenGL and Vulkan Linux gaming benchmarks were run to see how the RadeonSI and NVIDIA Linux performance evolves from a Celeron G3930 to Pentium G4600 to Core i3 7100 to Core i5 7600K to Core i7 7700K.

      • Mesa 13.0 vs. 17.0 Performance For RADV/RadeonSI: Big Gains For Vulkan, OpenGL Boosts

        With Mesa 17.0 due to be released in the days ahead, I’ve been running fresh benchmarks of this latest user-space 3D driver stack on Intel, Radeon, and Nouveau. For your viewing pleasure this Thursday are the RadeonSI benchmarks comparing the Mesa 17.0 Git code to that of the latest Mesa 13.0 branch with a few different AMD graphics cards. There are also some tests of the RADV Vulkan driver.

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

      • KDE Plasma Leaning Towards Focusing On Flatpak Over AppImage/Snaps

        Veteran KDE developer Sebastian Kügler has written a blog post following the Plasma Sprint that just happened recently in Stuttgart. A few interesting details were shared.

        While right now we’ve seen some KDE efforts around Flatpak (formerly XDG-App) and Snaps along with some in the AppImage space, KDE developers are looking to center their efforts around one next-gen packaging solution moving forward. With focusing around one app bundling solution, they hope to be able to deliver their software to more end-users directly across the distribution spectrum.

      • Plasma Meeting: Web, browsers and app bundles

        This year’s Plasma Sprint is kindly being hosted by von Affenfels, a software company in Stuttgart, Germany, focusing on mobile apps. Let me try to give you an idea of what we’re working on this week.

      • Finally, a Linux laptop worthy of KDE

        These are Macbook Air-like machines that are (as the name would imply) slim, light, and modern. The weight of Slimbook with an installed 120GB SSD, and 4GB of RAM, comes in at 1.39 kg (3.06 pounds). Considering my Chromebook Pixel 2 weighs in at 3.4 pounds, I would happily accept that encumbrance.

      • KDE Plasma 5.9.1 – Here is the First Bugfix Release

        Today, the Kde team announced the first minor release for Kde Plasma 5.9 including various little but important bugfixes and translation updates. Certainly, this first small bugfix release will improve the stability and usability of the desktop environment.

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK

      • Top 9 GNOME shell extensions to customize your desktop Linux experience

        Everyone has a list of customizations that they absolutely must make when they first set up a new computer. Maybe it’s switching desktop environment, installing a different terminal shell, or something as simple as installing a favorite browser or picking out the perfect desktop wallpaper.

        For me, towards the top of my list when setting up a new Linux machine is installing a few extensions to the GNOME desktop environment to fix a few quirks and allow it to better serve my daily use. I was originally a slow and reluctant GNOME 3 convert, but once I found the right combination of extensions to meet my needs, and found the GNOME Tweak Tool settings that changed a few other basic behaviors, I’ve been a happy GNOME 3 user for a few years now.

  • Distributions

    • 6 Best Linux Distributions For Programming

      Do you need a Linux distro for programming? For starters, there aren’t any distros that are specifically targeting programmers per se. It doesn’t really matter, as a Linux distribution is mostly the same as the next one in regards to what software you’ll be able to use on it. But then again, there are a few distros available that will be preferable due to the way they have been built up. You should also consider the kind of programming you’re into, whether web-based or system or application programming.

    • 10 of the best lightweight Linux distros

      Modern Linux distros are designed to appeal to a large number of users who run modern hardware. As a result, they have become too bloated for older machines, even if cut down by hand – if you don’t have several gigs of RAM to spare and an extra core or two, these distros may not deliver the best performance for you. Thankfully, there are many lightweight distros, trimmed and tweaked by expert hands, which can be used to breathe new life into older hardware.

    • Reviews

      • Hands-On: Solus Linux and the Budgie desktop

        I have heard from a number of people recently suggesting that I take a look at Solus Linux. Since I have not tried a completely new distribution in a while, and I don’t want to get bored or stale, I decided this would be a good time to give it a try.

        A quick perusal of the Solus web page seems promising. I like the fact that Solus is built from scratch, not just another Ubuntu (or whatever) derivative. I am also impressed by the fact that the Solaris team has developed the Budgie Desktop to suit their own needs and preferences. I think that says a lot about their competence and ambition.

      • Remix OS: Is This the Droid You Were Looking For?

        Ever wanted to try Android on your PC but there weren’t any really usable projects? Now you can. Remix OS is an Android based operating system that’s designed to offer a full-fledged desktop PC-like experience. The developers have done a lot of work to implement many desktop-centric features such as multi-window multi-tasking. It offers a very familiar interface inspired by Windows, so the learning curve is not that steep. If you have used Android before, you will find yourself at home.

        Remix OS is being developed by Jide Technologies, a company founded by three ex-Googlers, “with a mission to unlock the potential of Android in order to accelerate a new age of computing,” reads the “about us” page.

    • Arch Family

      • Arch Linux pulls the plug on 32-bit

        If you’re reading this article on a PC, it’s quite likely the processor under the hood is 64-bit. Most computers these days run 64-bit CPUs, and most computers run 64-bit operating systems. Arch Linux is acknowledging that fact by making February the last month the distribution will include an i686 (32-bit) download option.

    • OpenSUSE/SUSE

      • openSUSE Tumbleweed Users Get Linux 4.9.7, GCC 6.3.1, Wine 2.1, and New Vulkan

        If you’re using the openSUSE Tumbleweed operating system on your personal computer, we’d like to inform you today about the latest software updates that arrived in the distro’s repositories during last week and the first days of this one.

      • Tumbleweed Snapshots Bring Users New Vulkan, 4.9.7 Kernel

        Six Tumbleweed snapshots this week brought users newer versions of GStreamer, Wine, Vulkan, and a new Linux Kernel.

        The new 4.9.7 kernel arrived over the weekend with the 20170204 snapshot.

        The new kernel sources updated config files and fixed a build failure specific to DWARF (Debugging with Attributed Records Format). The snapshot added support for the Perl client ddclient to version 3.8.3 and yast2-installation 3.2.20 added an all-in-one installation overview for SUSE’s new Container as a Service Platform product. More information about CaaSP and transactional updates can be found in a video presented by Thorsten Kukuk at FOSDEM.

      • OpenSUSE Leap 42.2 Gnome – Better but not really

        It is time to give Leap a second chance. Let me be extra corny. Give leap a chance. Yes. Well, several weeks ago, I reviewed the Plasma edition of the latest openSUSE release, and while it was busy firing all cannon, like a typical Stormtrooper, most of the beams did not hit the target. It was a fairly mediocre distro, delivering everything but then stopping just short of the goodness mark.

        I will now conduct a Gnome experiment. Load the distro with a fresh new desktop environment, and see how it behaves. We did something rather similar with CentOS recently, with some rather surprising results. Hint. Maybe we will get lucky. Let’s do it.

    • Red Hat Family

    • Debian Family

      • Derivatives

        • Canonical/Ubuntu

          • UBports Community Successfully Ports Canonical’s Ubuntu OS to the Fairphone 2

            We were informed by Canonical a few moments ago that the UBports community initiative lead by Marius Gripsgard has sucessfully launched the Ubuntu mobile OS for Fairphone 2 devices.

            The UBports project is well known among members of the Ubuntu Phone community, as they are porting Canonical’s Ubuntu Touch mobile operating system on a bunch of devices that are a lot more popular than what Canonical currently offers.

          • Ubuntu to support ethical smartphone Fairphone 2

            The Ubuntu Community UBports aims to see open source software Ubuntu on every device, starting with smartphones, through developers’ collaborative development. During Mobile World Congress in Barcelona at the end of February UBports will show a very special combination: Ubuntu on the Fairphone 2, combining sustainability and open source.

          • Here’s Ubuntu 16.04 LTS (Xenial Xerus) Running on Microsoft Surface Pro 4

            Guess we’ve missed this last year, but YouTube user John Cuppi has made a demo video to showcase the Ubuntu 16.04 LTS (Xenial Xerus) operating system running on a Microsoft Surface Pro 4 tablet and laptop device.

          • Turns Out Ubuntu 16.04.2 Is Shipping with Mesa 12.0.6, Here’s How to Use Mesa 13

            After it has been delayed twice, the highly anticipated Ubuntu 16.04.2 LTS update is finally launching today, February 9, 2017, but it will include an older version of the Mesa 3D Graphics Library.

          • Open source smart home platform gains Ubuntu snap packages

            Canonical has released a Snap package mechanism for running Ubuntu apps under the openHAB smart home stack, complete with Azul’s Zulu Embedded Java Runtime.

            Canonical’s snap package management mechanism can now run on the open source, Java-driven openHAB home automation framework, enabling easier deployment and secure updating of Ubuntu apps. Last June, Canonical spun off the secure Ubuntu snap format from its container-like Snappy Ubuntu Core IoT distribution, proposing it as an open source, universal package management solution for all Linux distributions. For now, however, it essentially provides an easy, secure way to download, run, and maintain Ubuntu apps packaged under snap.

          • Ubuntu 16.04.2 LTS Has Been Delayed Once Again, Should Land on Monday Now

            Canonical announced today that they are not ready to release the long-anticipated Ubuntu 16.04.2 LTS (Xenial Xerus) operating system because there are still some minor issues that need to be addressed.

          • Ubuntu 16.04.2 LTS Struck By A Last-Minute Delay
  • Devices/Embedded

Free Software/Open Source

  • Do you know where that open source came from?

    Last year, while speaking at RSA, a reporter asked me about container provenance. This wasn’t the easiest question to answer because there is a lot of nuance around containers and what’s inside them. In response, I asked him if he would eat a sandwich he found on the ground. The look of disgust I got was priceless, but it opened up a great conversation.

    Think about it this way: If there was a ham sandwich on the ground that looked mostly OK, would you eat it? You can clearly see it’s a ham sandwich. The dirt all brushed off. You do prefer wheat bread to white. So what’s stopping you? It was on the ground. Unless you’re incredibly hungry and without any resources, you won’t eat that sandwich. You’ll visit the sandwich shop across the street.

  • Open source users: It’s time for extreme vetting

    Open source software is the norm these days rather than the exception. The code is being written in high volumes and turning up in critical applications. While having this code available can offer big benefits, users also must be wary of issues the code can present and implement proper vetting.

    Josh Bressers, cybersecurity strategist at Red Hat, emphasized this point during a recent talk with InfoWorld Editor at Large Paul Krill.

  • Hazelcast release Jet, open-source stream processing engine

    Hazelcast are primarily known for their open-source in-memory data grid (usually referred to as Hazelcast IMDG, or just Hazelcast). However, over the last 2 years, they have been working on a major new open-source project, called Hazelcast Jet, and this week have announced a release of this new technology.

  • Keymetrics is a Node.js monitoring tool for your server infrastructure

    French startup Keymetrics just raised $2 million from Alven Capital and Runa Capital to build the best monitoring tool for your Node.js infrastructure. The startup’s founder and CEO Alexandre Strzelewicz also created the popular open source Node.js process manager PM2.

    How do you turn a popular open source project into a successful startup? This question has so many different answers that sometimes it’s hard to find the right one from the first try, and Keymetrics is no exception.

    A few years ago, when Strzelewicz developed PM2 while living in Shanghai, he was just trying to create a better process manager for Node.js because existing solutions were lacking. He didn’t expect that his open source release would take off on Hacker News, attracting contributors working from Google and living in Brazil and Japan.

  • Ranger Joins Many Big Data Projects Graduating at Apache

    Over the past couple of years, we’ve steadily taken note of the many projects that the Apache Software Foundation has been elevating to Top-Level Status. The organization incubates more than 350 open source projects and initiatives, and has recently squarely turned its focus to Big Data and developer-focused tools. As Apache moves Big Data projects to Top-Level Status, they gain valuable community support. Recently, the foundation announced that Apache Kudu had graduated as a Top-Level project. Then, the news came that Apache Geode had graduated from the Apache Incubator as well. It is a very interesting open source in-memory data grid that provides transactional data management for scale-out applications needing low latency response times during high concurrent processing.

  • Udacity open sources its self-driving car simulator for anyone to use

    Self-driving cars require self-driving car software, and Udacity’s helping to feed that need with its nanodegree program in the field. Now, the online education company is also making available its self-driving car simulator via open source license, allowing anyone with a working knowledge of Unity to gab the assets, load its preexisting scenes and create their own tracks for virtual testing.

    If you weren’t already aware, a lot of the ‘education’ of self-driving vehicle software happens in virtual environments, since it’s still relatively expensive to build an actual self-driving test vehicle, and a bit complicated on the regulatory side to find somewhere willing to let you test in real-world conditions – plus you have to prove you can do so with a reasonable expectation of safety. That’s a steep hurdle for tinkerers working independently, and for companies just starting out.

  • Open source vs. COTS: 8 integration considerations

    Nothing is moving faster to the top of IT wish lists than hybrid integration platforms. They offer agencies the ability to use application programming interfaces to integrate on-premises, cloud and mobile applications. However, IT managers face a critical decision when it comes to choosing between an open-source or commercial-off-the-shelf enterprise service bus (ESB) for integration to support that hybrid environment. Below are eight considerations for deciding which digital initiative to implement.

  • 2016 Open Source Yearbook: Print edition now available
  • The benefits of tracking issues publicly

    A public issue tracker is a vital communication tool for an open organization, because there’s no better way to be transparent and inclusive than to conduct your work in public channels. So let’s explore some best practices for using an issue tracker in an open organization.

    Before we start, though, let’s define what we mean by “issue tracker.” Simply put, an issue tracker is a shared to-do list. Think of scribbling a quick list of errands to run: buy bread, mail package, drop off library books. As you drive around town, it feels good to cross each item off your list. Now scale that up to the work you have to do in your organization, and add in a healthy dose of software-enabled collaboration. You’ve got an issue tracker!

  • 4 must-read books for open source career seekers

    Finding a good job can be stressful and finding your dream job even more so. Even in the open source world, with its many opportunities for making a name for yourself by volunteering, it takes effort to make the connection between what you have to offer as a job seeker and what employers are looking for in an employee. One thing that can help set you apart from other applicants is having a solid understanding of yourself and what you bring to the table.

  • The most popular JavaScript front-end tools

    Choosing a development tool based on its popularity isn’t a bad idea. Popular tools are usually more stable, and they often have more resources and community support than less popular tools. Developer satisfaction is another key indicator of a good tool, and for the JavaScript ecosystem, I’m going to show you some significant research on both of these criteria.

    The list that follows contains all of the main tooling categories for a modern JavaScript developer. It includes the most popular tools for each category according to developer popularity and user satisfaction.

  • Netflix Open Sources a Slack Bot for Tracking GitHub Repositories

    Not many organizations have the technology expertise that Netflix has, and it may come as a surprise to some people to learn that the company regularly open sources key, tested and hardened tools that it has used for years. We’ve reported on Netflix open sourcing a series of interesting “Monkey” cloud tools as part of its “simian army,” which it has deployed as a series of satellite utilities orbiting its central cloud platform.

  • Events

    • ACLU Massachusetts Technology for Liberty Director Kade Crockford at LibrePlanet 2017

      Kade Crockford is the Director of the Technology for Liberty Program at the ACLU of Massachusetts. Kade works to protect and expand core First and Fourth Amendment rights and civil liberties in the digital 21st century, focusing on how systems of surveillance and control impact not just society in general but their primary targets — people of color, Muslims, immigrants, and dissidents.

      The Information Age produces conditions facilitating mass communication and democratization, as well as dystopian monitoring and centralized control. The Technology for Liberty Program aims to use the unprecedented access to information and communication to protect and enrich open society and individual rights by implementing basic reforms to ensure new tools do not create inescapable digital cages limiting what people see, hear, think, and do. Towards that end, Kade researches, strategizes, writes, lobbies, and educates the public on issues ranging from the wars on drugs and terror to warrantless electronic surveillance. Kade has written for The Nation, The Guardian, The Boston Globe, WBUR, and many other publications, and regularly appears in local, regional, and national media as an expert on issues related to technology, policing, and surveillance.

    • Watch Camille Fournier, Donna Dillenberger, William ‘whurley’ Hurley Live at Open Source Leadership Summit Next Week
    • Open Networking Summit to Hold Private “Think Tank” Event for Industry Leaders

      Joshipura: No. It is closed to press to allow for open discussions specifically as several enterprise verticals like FinTech, healthcare, travel and hospitality, retail and of course communications will be sharing use cases, best practices, and lessons learned.

    • FOSDEM 2017: People, RISC-V and ChaosKey

      Apart from that, I have witnessed a shady cash transaction in a bus from the city centre to FOSDEM in exchange for hardware, not very unlike what I had read about only days before.

      So I could not help but to get involved in a subsequent transaction myself, to get my hands laid upon a ChaosKey.

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • Mozilla binds Firefox’s fate to the Rust language

        Mozilla always intended for Rust to be used in building key parts of the Firefox browser. Now the company is committing to that vision in a significant manner.

        After version 53, Firefox will require Rust to compile successfully, due to the presence of Firefox components built with the language. But this decision may restrict the number of platforms that Firefox can be ported to—for now.

      • Launching an Independent OpenNews Program

        At Mozilla, one of our essential roles is convener: working to identify, connect and support like-minded people who are building a healthier Internet.

        An early — and strong — example of that work is the OpenNews program. Six years ago, Mozilla and Knight Foundation created an initiative to combine open-source practices with journalism. Our aim: strengthen journalism on the open web, and empower newsroom developers, designers and data reporters across the globe.

        The program flourished. Since 2011, OpenNews has placed 33 fellows in 19 newsrooms, from BBC and NPR to La Nacion and the New York Times. It built a global community of more than 1,100 developers and reporters. It spawned the annual SRCCON conference, bolstered newsroom diversity and gave way to innovative newsgathering tools like Tabula. OpenNews has also played a key role in building the annual MozFest in London and Mozilla’s nascent leadership network initiative.

        Mozilla is immensely proud of OpenNews — and immensely grateful to the team behind its success. And today, we’re announcing that OpenNews is spinning out as an independent organization. Going forward, OpenNews — with the support of nonprofit fiscal partner Community Partners — will build on the success it achieved when incubated at Mozilla. OpenNews will continue to play an active role in MozFest and Mozilla’s leadership network.

  • SaaS/Back End

    • Understand Your Distributed Apps with the OpenTracing Standard

      Microservices and services-oriented architecture are here to stay, but this kind of distributed system destroys the traditional type of process monitoring. Nonetheless, companies still need to understand just what’s happening inside the flow of an application. Ben Sigelman, Co-founder of LightStep, said at his keynote at CloudNativeCon that by adopting a new standard for distributed applications called OpenTracing can tell those stories without building complex instrumentation, or fundamentally changing the code of your application.

    • Keynote: OpenTracing and Containers: Depth, Breadth, and the Future of Tracing – Ben Sigelman
    • State of Application Delivery Survey Finds the Cloud Driving IT Plans

      How influential has the rise of cloud computing been on the state of application delivery? Hugely influential, according to a new survey of of 2,197 IT executives and technologists on topics including DevOps and security application services and standards.

    • What’s next for open-source Spark?

      A conference focused on a single open source project sounds like the sort of event that will feature a lone keynote speaker speaking to maybe 100 interested parties in a lecture hall at a local college. Spark Summit East was very much the opposite.

      A total of 1,503 people watched the five keynote speakers in a cavernous ballroom at the Hynes Convention Center lay out the future of Spark, the big data processing engine originally developed at the University of California – Berkeley by Matei Zaharia. Spark underlies huge data-driven applications being used by major players like Salesforce, Facebook, IBM and many others, helping organize, analyze, and surface specific grains of sand from beach-sized databases.

    • Cloudera and Intel Team on Accelerating Machine Learning Workloads

      In recent months, countless new machine learning tools have been open sourced, including tools from tech giants such as Google. Both machine learning and AI tools tend to place tough demands on hardware resources, though. With that in mind, Cloudera has announced a jointly tested solution with Intel to advance capabilities for machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence (AI) workloads.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

  • Public Services/Government

    • Experts: ‘Swedish govt. cloud should use open source’

      The key IT principles for Sweden’s government cloud services should be vendor-independence, open standards and open source, experts recommend. On Tuesday, the government shared service centre (Statens servicecenter, SSC) published an advisory report, containing the opinions of management at government data centres. Sweden’s public administrations would profit immensely from national, reliable and secure cloud services, these experts agree.

    • CLARITY project- enhancing take-up of open eGovernment services in Europe

      The CLARITY project is a two year project, funded by the European Commission under the Horizon 2020 framework. Grant Agreement number: 693881. The project will support European Member States in their pursuit for greater trust, transparency and efficiency within their open eGovernment initiatives and highlight best practice within this field.

  • Licensing/Legal

    • The 7 Elements of an Open Source Management Program: Teams and Tools

      A successful open source management program has seven essential elements that provide a structure around all aspects of open source software. In the previous article, we gave an overview of the strategy and process behind open source management. This time we’ll discuss two more essential elements: staffing on the open source compliance team and the tools they use to automate and audit open source code.

  • Kodi


  • Merriam Webster updates tech word list—and you will believe which ones were added

    The announcement is paired with a promotion that wants to pair the database’s newest words with animated GIFs, but Merriam-Webster did not take that opportunity to draw an important line in the sand. The dictionary still lists two pronunciations for the word, which it spells out as “gif” and “jif”—a fact that itself is confusing, considering a phonetic approximation for the hard-G sound is better typed as “ghif.” My incredibly educated guess is that Merriam and Webster must be two real people who cannot agree on this point. Pick a side, people.

  • Security

  • Defence/Aggression

    • Records show how Air Force nominee skirted lobbying restriction

      Former Rep. Heather Wilson, President Donald Trump’s nominee to be Air Force secretary, advised defense giant Lockheed Martin after she left Congress on how to nab a new multibillion-dollar deal from the Department of Energy without participating in a routine competition with other firms, according to recently obtained emails from her time as a contracting consultant.

      Wilson, who left Congress in 2009 and went to work the same month for Lockheed subsidiary Sandia Corp., says she didn’t lobby herself.

    • Yemen Withdraws Permission for U.S. Antiterror Ground Missions

      Angry at the civilian casualties incurred last month in the first commando raid authorized by President Trump, Yemen has withdrawn permission for the United States to run Special Operations ground missions against suspected terrorist groups in the country, according to American officials.

      Grisly photographs of children apparently killed in the crossfire of a 50-minute firefight during the raid caused outrage in Yemen. A member of the Navy’s SEAL Team 6, Chief Petty Officer William Owens, was also killed in the operation.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • The BBC just tried to call out WikiLeaks. It did not end well.

      Alexander then interviewed the four “expert witnesses”. The first was Suelette Dreyfus, the co-author of a book with Assange. Ex-WikiLeaks volunteer Daniel Domscheit-Berg‘s interview followed. Then Alexander spoke to journalist James Ball, who also worked with WikiLeaks. And finally Foreign News Desk Editor at The Age Chris Zappone featured.

      Of these four ‘experts’, three have had documented fallouts with WikiLeaks and/or Assange. So while Dreyfus highlighted Assange’s “strong innate sense of the importance of justice”, Domscheit-Berg asserted that “sometimes there was basically no fact checking [of the leaked documents] at all apart a plausibility check”. While Ball cast Assange as a difficult person.

      Yet Domscheit-Berg did say that WikiLeaks has “a very good record” for not making mistakes. And Ball acknowledged that Assange’s stated
      motivation in publishing “what he gets” is “transparency”. So, even these largely hostile “experts” could not put WikiLeaks’ authenticity – or ‘believability’ – in doubt.

    • Britain eyes up its own Espionage Act

      The United Kingdom already has some of the strictest rules on official secrecy in the world. As Ian Cobain details in his recent book The History Thieves, Britain’s strong secrecy culture has ben used to keep information about colonial policy and foreign policy, and even entire military campaigns from the British public. Large archives held by UK government departments in contravention of public records laws, containing some information that is centuries-old, have come to light in the past few years.

      Proposals announced in the Telegraph last week are now suggesting broadening of the scope, and increasing the severity of the penalties for those who disclose government information under a new “Espionage Act” to a potential 14 years imprisonment. Given the increasing use of the 1917 Espionage Act in the United States to enforce a blanket official-secrets-like prohibition of information disclosures, even when done in the public interest, the proposed name change should not be taken as a coincidence.

    • Ecuador’s FM calls on compliance with UN ruling on WikiLeaks founder

      “A year since the UN working group on arbitrary detention ruled (WikiLeaks founder Julian) Assange was a victim of arbitrary detention … certain countries say they will not comply, that it is not binding,” Ecuador’s Foreign Affairs Minister Guillaume Long said in his twitter post Tuesday.

      Though Long did not specifically name the countries, British and Swedish authorities have prevented Assange from taking advantage of political asylum offered by Ecuador, effectively trapping him inside the Ecuadorian embassy in London for the past five years.

    • Anti-Whistleblower Provision Buried In Germany’s New Data Retention Law Challenged In The Courts

      Back in 2015, we noted that there was a global move to strengthen laws governing trade secrets. Enhanced protection was something that was included in the mercifully dead TPP agreement, and may well crop up again in the bilateral trade deals that the US administration says it now wants to pursue in TPP’s stead. One of the many problems with enhanced trade secret protection is that it can make whistleblowing more risky, since companies might try to claim that their right to preserve embarrassing secrets outweighs any public interest in revealing their dubious activities.

    • FBI Changes FOIA Policies, Tries To Route More Requesters To Fax Machines, Mailboxes

      The FBI’s relationship with the FOIA is, at the very least, contentious. The agency clearly would rather follow the letter of the law than its spirit… but only the letters it likes. It will technically release documents — sometimes years after the request is made — even if said documents are nothing more than a mostly blank paper telling the requester that all 509 pages have been withheld.

      To the FBI — and to its official FOIA stats — this release of nothing counts as a “response.” Even cutting itself this much slack on “responses” hasn’t helped the FBI’s FOIA stats. This has led to it preemptively declaring any response that may include more than 50 pages as “complex,” in hopes of massaging its clearly awful response times.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • Not scared: The end of climate self-censorship

      Reducing carbon emissions within the United States is far more important than the little bit of money that Washington provides for international climate finance.

      The big bad wolf will come—for so long, this threat has dictated the global narrative about climate change. The world has tiptoed around curtailing carbon emissions at the necessary speed and scale. Global agreements have been bent out of shape to appease climate deniers. In Paris, nations negotiated a weak, unambitious agreement for the sake of reaching any agreement at all. All this—because the world believed that attempting more would rile up those, particularly in the United States, who oppose climate action.

    • ‘This is not over’: Dakota Access pipeline work restarts amid tribe’s legal challenge

      Dakota Access pipeline workers have begun the final phase of drilling across the Missouri river despite massive international protests and a legal challenge from the Standing Rock Sioux tribe.

      The restarting of the drilling operation, which a pipeline spokeswoman confirmed on Thursday morning, began soon after after the US government gave the oil corporation the green light to proceed on Wednesday. The controversial pipeline could be transporting crude oil from North Dakota to Illinois within three months.

    • Australia weather: heat threatens power outages and ‘catastrophic’ fire danger – live

      Parts of New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia and Victoria at risk as heatwave pushes temperatures into the mid-40s. Energy firms are warning of potential blackouts in NSW.

  • Finance

    • The Number Of Hungry And Homeless Students Rises Along With College Costs

      There’s no way to avoid it. As the cost of college grows, research shows that so does the number of hungry and homeless students at colleges and universities across the country.

      Still, many say the problem is invisible to the public.

      “It’s invisible even to me and I’m looking,” says Wick Sloan. He came to Bunker Hill Community College in Boston more than a decade ago to teach English full time. He says it felt like he quickly became a part-time social worker, too.

      “When I first got here, I was always told that we should never miss a chance to give students food,” he says. “I foolishly thought at the time they meant Doritos and cookies. It’s protein that they’re after. It’s crazy.”

      Bunker Hill is home to one of 25 food assistance programs on Massachusetts’ public college campuses. That leaves just four public campuses across the state without one.

    • Brexit, inequality and Ken Clarke’s legacy

      Ken Clarke is right to suggest that economic inequality contributed to the Brexit vote (Report, 6 February). Indeed, by convincing millions that the bogeyman of Europe was responsible for the loss of jobs, erosion of our overstretched public services and a housing crisis, the hard right achieved one of the most successful of political coups. It was their ideology that led to the loss of 1 million well-paid public sector jobs, and now their Brexit threatens to increase poverty and inequality by reducing regional aid.

      Clarke is wrong that no politicians have ideas on how to address inequality though. I can only assume he has never read a Green party manifesto. Greens have a range of policies to redistribute wealth, including a wealth tax on those with assets of more than £3m; a maximum pay ratio of 10:1 between the highest paid and lowest paid in every organisation, and raising corporation tax on large firms to at least 28%. Greens were also the first party to support a policy that has now become positively trendy: a basic income for all – guaranteed and non-means-tested. This is currently being trialled in Finland and is central to France’s Socialist presidential campaign.

    • Concerns raised over Brexit impact on free movement of horses

      Usually, when it comes up in the Brexit debate, freedom of movement relates to the passage of human beings. Usually, but not always.

      Britain’s decision to leave the EU also threatens the free movement of horses, potentially dealing a blow to the racing community in the UK and Ireland, industry experts and an MEP have said.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Donald Trump: a man so obnoxious that karma may see him reincarnated as himself

      America has gone from the Obama Years to the Trump Years, like going from the West Wing to a sitcom where the incidental music involves a tuba. I actually think Donald Trump is going to prove a lot of people wrong, but sadly not George Orwell, Margaret Atwood, or whoever wrote the Book of Revelation. It says a lot about the man that building a giant wall isn’t even in the top five most Game of Thrones things about him. Of course, presidents always enter office with something to prove, it’s just rarely their sanity.

      You look into Trump’s eyes and you see the fear and confusion of a man who has just been told he’s got stage-four cervical cancer. He is a super-villain in a world without heroes, a man so obnoxious and unhappy that karma may see him reincarnated as himself. You kind of wish he’d get therapy, but at this stage it’s like hiring a window cleaner for a burning building. It’s still difficult to classify him exactly: he’s not a classic Nazi, but would burn books if his supporters knew how to read. Hillary Clinton was obviously the preferred establishment candidate, and whoever was on the rota for this election cycle at the Illuminati really dropped the ball, but Trump is still very much someone that the permanent powers have assessed they can work with.

    • Supreme Court nominee Gorsuch says Trump’s attacks on judiciary are ‘demoralizing’

      President Trump’s escalating attacks on the federal judiciary drew denunciation Wednesday from his Supreme Court nominee, Neil Gorsuch, who told a senator that the criticism was “disheartening” and “demoralizing” to independent federal courts.

      Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) said Gorsuch made the comments during their private meeting Wednesday, and the account was confirmed by Ron Bonjean, a member of the group guiding the judge through his confirmation process.

      Trump on Wednesday morning declared that an appeals court’s hearing Tuesday night regarding his controversial immigration executive order was “disgraceful” and that judges were more concerned about politics than following the law.

    • Trump blasts retailer Nordstrom, raising new concern on business ties

      President Donald Trump blasted department store chain Nordstrom Inc (JWN.N) on Wednesday for dropping his daughter Ivanka’s clothing line, prompting critics to accuse him of misusing public office to benefit his family’s sprawling business empire.

      After Trump’s highly unusual move to use a White House platform to intervene in a commercial matter involving his daughter, Nordstrom reiterated that its action last week was based on declining sales of the Ivanka Trump products. But White House spokesman Sean Spicer characterized the move as a “direct attack” on the president’s policies.

      “My daughter Ivanka has been treated so unfairly by @Nordstrom. She is a great person – always pushing me to do the right thing! Terrible!” Trump wrote on Wednesday on both his personal and official presidential Twitter accounts.

    • The Biggest Advocates For An Imperial Executive Branch Are Suddenly Freaking Out Over Trump

      For many, many years, we’ve pointed out why there are problems with an executive branch that is too powerful. As we noted, laws should be designed as if the people you trust the least are in power. Of course, in an era of partisan red team/blue team politics, very few people seem to care or listen. Or, worse, their positions on executive power seem to shift based on whether “their guy” is in power or “the other guy” is in power. But in a situation that would be amusing if it weren’t quite so terrifying, some of the biggest advocates for expanded executive power are suddenly freaking out about the very thing they helped bring about now that there’s a President Trump.

      Ryan Lizza, over at the New Yorker, has a post detailing the ways in which Trump could seize more power following a terrorist attack. And there are lots of ways. That, by itself, may be interesting, but what strikes me as even more interesting is that the people who he quotes are some of the very people who helped create this kind of world where the President has almost unlimited power in certain areas.

      First up, he quotes Jack Goldsmith. Goldsmith worked for George W. B

    • Trump vows law and order crackdown to combat ‘menace’ of crime

      President signs orders that include focus on protecting police and promises ‘new era of justice’ despite violent crime rates that remain near historic lows

    • President Trump’s Unlikely Effect on the U.S.-EU Tech Relationship

      The contrast between the early days of the Trump and Obama administrations could not be greater. President Obama started with record high approval ratings around the world, including in Europe. President Trump began by cozying up to the anti-establishment nationalist Nigel Farage and set the United States on a course toward greater nationalism and protectionism. “America first” will rattle the transatlantic relationship and blunt the ability of United States and Europe to jointly lead in setting global rules based on universal values of open societies, rules-based trade, and human rights.

      But those looking back to the Obama years as a high point of value-based cooperation are viewing history through rose-colored glasses. The U.S.-EU relationship was rocky, especially with respect to tech policy and ensuring that the rule of law is respected and transposed to online life. Whereas Europeans tend to consider privacy rights as non-negotiable, Americans are often quick to dismiss European concerns as over-regulation not in their economic interest.

    • Trump’s immigration ban cost business-travel industry $185M: report

      President Trump’s immigration ban — which was put on hold after one week — may have cost $185 million in business-travel bookings, according to a new report from the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA).

      Using industry data, the GBTA compared business-travel transaction levels in the week before and the week after Trump signed the executive order on immigration and refugees.

      The research found that travel bookings increased 1.2 percent the week before the travel ban, but decreased by 2.2 percent the week after, for a net decrease of 3.4 percent. That amounts to an estimated $185 million loss for the business-travel industry, the report says.

      The countries targeted in the temporary travel ban — Iraq, Syria, Sudan, Iran, Somalia, Libya and Yemen — make up a small fraction of incoming travel to the U.S. and don’t crack the top 20 travel markets to the country, according to the U.S. Travel Association.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • Australian Guy Demands Techdirt Story Be Blocked In Australia Over Comments

      I will admit that Australia’s defamation law is fairly baffling, in that it seems to repeatedly allow individuals who have had mean stuff said about them to demand all sorts of content be completely blocked from existence — based solely on the claims of the aggrieved, and prior to any court ruling. It’s a “right to be forgotten” gone mad. The latest such example of this… involves us. We recently discovered that an Australian guy by the name of Michael Roberts is demanding that an entire Techdirt page be removed from Google’s index. Having not recalled ever writing about anyone named Michael Roberts, I went to look at the article and discovered… it doesn’t mention anyone named Michael Roberts and doesn’t seem to involve him at all.

      Instead, it’s an article from about a year and a half ago about a preemptive lawsuit filed by Ripoff Report against a prosecutor in Iowa who has been aggressively pursuing Ripoff Report for quite some time. As we noted in the article, the judge in the case found no one to like and spends plenty of time pointing out the problems of everyone who is a party to the lawsuit. As the judge noted, the prosecutor pursing Ripoff Report, Ben Smith, appeared to focus on investigating Ripoff Report for “retaliatory reasons.” Meanwhile, Ripoff Report was clearly no angel as well, potentially trying to stretch Section 230 of the CDA to cover content written by someone hired by the company (CDA 230 is clearly limited to user generated content, and not to works directed by the company).

    • GOP Senate Streisands Elizabeth Warren And Coretta King In Attempt To Silence Her

      We’ll get to that last bit in just a moment, but let’s not fail to point out how silly the application of this rule is and what it means for the prospect of sitting Senators filling cabinet positions. If Senate rules prohibit another Senator form impugning a cabinet appointee during the debate over that appointee’s cabinet nomination, what would be the point of the debate? And keep in mind that Warren was not going on some self-authored tirade. She was reading a letter from the widow of the single most recognized civil rights leader, which was sent to Congress in the past — though Senator Strom Thurmond refused to put it into the Congressional record. That letter still had a hand in defeating a previous nomination of Sessions to judgeship. In February, which is Black History Month. This is banal as it gets.

      Separately, Senators complained about Warren quoting former Senator Ted Kennedy on his opposition to Sessions back in 1986. So, apparently the rule is that even if you’re quoting former Senators and people closely associated with the civil rights movement, you can’t say anything that might upset a sitting Senator, even if it was discussed previously in the Senate and now as part of the debate over his own nomination to be Attorney General.

      Of course, by invoking this rarely used Senate rule, one which has previously been ignored, Senator Warren and King’s letter is splashing headlines all over the place. On top of that, Warren and others rushed to social media circles to make sure the letter was heard by everyone who would listen. Which, given the way all of this is trending on social media, was a great many people.

    • Self-censorship and security reports

      Several instances abound where self-censorship, through systematic collaboration between the media and security agencies contributed to the success of military operations in Nigeria. Such restrictions serve common interest, especially in promoting best practices, moral standards as well as protecting life and property. For instance, when Nigerian troops had misunderstanding with their GOC in Maimalari Barracks on May 14, 2015, intelligence officers privately appealed to the media to be mindful of the danger of using the strong word ‘Mutiny’ as against a lighter word ‘Protest.’ Mutiny, according to them, is punishable by long jail-terms or death. At least a section of the media was considerate enough to substitute the word in an attempt to save the career and lives of the soldiers.

    • Kannywood: Censorship board frowns at rising immorality in hausa music
    • Violent censorship: Banned on Facebook – defending free speech.

      I’ve been drawing cartoons professionally for 11 years. I’ve drawn somewhere between 5 000 and 7 000 published cartoons, a large chunk of which has been political.

      Every label imaginable has been slapped onto me, from ‘racist’ to sexist’ to ‘Islamophobe’ to a vast array of boring adjectives, all of which come with zero supporting evidence. (Not that evidence matters, since narratives matter more.) One or two of South Africa’s biggest newspapers refuse to publish anything containing my signature, despite their editors knowing nothing about me and having never spoken to me. That I am able to yield such emotive responses from people who have never met me, is pretty amazing.

      All because of a drawing on a piece of paper.

      Or, perhaps, a one-liner on Facebook.

    • Censorship and the government blacklist sends shock waves through South Korean artists

      When a documentary opened on the deep sea divers who retrieved around 300 bodies, mostly schoolchildren, from a South Korean ferry disaster, tickets sold out – but it played to half-empty cinemas.

    • Former South Korea’s culture minister charged over artist blacklist
    • Spectre of censorship haunts S. Korea artists
    • Australian Scientists Who Faced Censorship Have Advice for Dealing With Trump

      Australian scientists are rallying behind their counterparts in the United States amid fears that President Donald Trump could ram through a damaging anti-science agenda over the next four years.

      Trump’s moves to censor federal government scientific departments and undermine the integrity of climate research have triggered sympathy and anger in Australia, where many scientists believe the country’s conservative government has conducted a similar assault on science over the past few years.

      “My sense is that morale among the science fraternity in the U.S. is extremely low at the moment,” said Associate Professor Stuart Khan, a water researcher at the University of New South Wales and one of the organizers of the Australian March for Science. “We want to show that we understand what is going on and we stand in solidarity.”

    • Science activism is on the rise – here’s what you can do to help

      Scientific activism is on the rise. Whether the result of the recent U.S. election, or fatigue from constantly fighting against science censorship, it is becoming increasingly obvious how important discourse between the scientific community, citizens, and politicians is.

      Certainly, this rise in rebellion is not unfounded – for example, during Stephen Harper’s time as prime minister, several procedures were put into place that made it increasingly difficult for scientists to be transparent with the media and general public about their work. Furthermore, critical research centres were shut down and defunded. While many of the procedures set by Harper’s government have since been rescinded, Canadians are not unfamiliar with control, suppression, and censorship of the science community.

    • Landmark Court Decision Means Canada Has Now Joined The ‘Right To Be Forgotten Globally’ Club

      The details of the case are rather unusual. They involve a website in Romania that obtained and posted Canadian judicial and tribunal decisions. These were all public documents, but they were not previously indexed by Google, which meant their contents were effectively hidden. The Romanian site allowed its copies to be indexed by Google, which made the decisions and the Canadian citizens involved visible for the first time — something the people affected were not happy about. They complained to the Privacy Commissioner of Canada, who ruled that the Romanian site violated Canadian privacy law. The case then moved to Canada’s federal court, which ruled that it had jurisdiction over the website in Romania, since it had strong connections with Canada through its holdings.

    • Fear cited behind self-censorship in the north

      Journalists on Wednesday cited fear, self-censorship and lack of resources as major hurdles to investigative journalism in the country’s north.

      They said threats from powerful individuals forced journalists into self-censorship and kept them away from conducting investigative reports.

    • Twitter still hasn’t learnt to tread that fine line between censorship and freedom of speech
    • Twitter Moves Again To Clamp Down on Abuse, Hate Speech
    • Twitter Announces Censoring Search Results, ‘Low-Quality Tweets’ to Combat ‘Abuse and Harassment’
    • Censorship in China “immoral”, says the Dalai Lama
  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Iowa Appeals Court Doubles Down On Curbing Police Abuse Of ‘Inventory Search’ Warrant Exceptions

      As we’re well aware, the minute you get behind the wheel of your vehicle, your Fourth Amendment protections take a nosedive. Having a vehicle on a public street makes everything viewed through the windows a perfectly acceptable warrantless search. Add to that the number of traffic violations — real or imagined — that can act as a pretense for an investigative stop, and driving becomes a warrantless search waiting to happen.

      While the Supreme Court did scale back some extracurricular law enforcement exploration with its Rodriguez decision, all it takes is an unconfirmable “smells like marijuana” or some other indicator of suspicion (talking too much, talking too little, making eye contact, not making eye contact, interstate travel, etc.) to turn a stop that shouldn’t have been prolonged past the point of issuing a ticket into a full-fledged search of a vehicle.

      Then there’s this wrinkle. If you’re arrested or otherwise told to leave your vehicle, law enforcement is allowed to take the vehicle into custody (so to speak). At some point, the officer having the vehicle moved performs an inventory of the vehicle’s contents. This is to make sure that when the vehicle is returned to the driver, there’s no dispute as to whether or not your Creedence tapes and “business papers” went missing while in the hands of law enforcement.

    • NSA Executive Explains Logistics of Possible Cyber Command Split

      If the National Security Agency and Cyber Command were to split, NSA Executive Director Corin Stone explained that any disagreements between the agencies would be decided by the secretary of defense and the director of national intelligence, to ensure fair judgment.

    • UK government’s huge citizen data grab is go—where are the legal safeguards?

      The government’s long-awaited digital strategy that knits together plans for the opening up of vast quantities of citizen data across the public sector and beyond with promises—once again—to improve online public services for Brits landed with a thud on Thursday morning.

    • Former NSA Director to Join Japan’s Cybersecurity Agency

      According to the NHK television channel, Alexander will share his professional experience in preventing data leakage from Japanese companies and agencies.

      The former NSA director is expected to train 100 employees of Japanese companies to counteract cybercriminals through a special system, which imitates cyberattacks, the broadcaster reported.

    • Former NSA contractor may have stolen 75% of TAO’s elite hacking tools
    • Report: NSA contractor allegedly stole armory of elite hacking tools
    • Former NSA contractor followed in Snowden’s footsteps?
    • US Visa Applicants Could Be Required To Hand Over Social Media Passwords

      US visa applicants could be required to hand over their social media passwords before being allowed into the country.

      Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly said on Tuesday that the measure was being considered as part of an effort to screen people who could pose a security threat.

      Like Donald Trump’s travel ban, the move would primarily be under consideration for visitors from seven predominantly Muslim countries.

      These include Syria, Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen.

    • U.S. Visitors May Have to Hand Over Social Media Passwords: DHS

      People who want to visit the United States could be asked to hand over their social-media passwords to officials as part of enhanced security checks, the country’s top domestic security chief said.

      Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly told Congress on Tuesday the measure was one of several being considered to vet refugees and visa applicants from seven Muslim-majority countries.

      “We want to get on their social media, with passwords: What do you do, what do you say?” he told the House Homeland Security Committee. “If they don’t want to cooperate then you don’t come in.”

      His comments came the same day judges heard arguments over President Donald Trump’s executive order temporarily barring entry to most refugees and travelers from Syria, Iraq, Iran, Somalia, Sudan, Libya and Yemen.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Barrett Brown’s Donors Sue DOJ/FBI For Monitoring Their Donations

      We’ve written numerous stories about Barrett Brown, the reporter who was sentenced to 63 months in jail after being pressured into signing a plea deal. If you don’t recall, Brown’s “crime” was trying to get a bunch of people together to crowdsource an investigation into the famous Stratfor email hack. The feds went after him for posting a link (yes, posting a link) to a group to investigate, and because some of the Stratfor info included credit card data, the feds argued that Brown was trafficking in stolen credit cards. Really. And while the feds eventually dismissed the specific charges related to the links, the judge justified the long sentence against him because he copy/pasted that link.

      The whole thing was a travesty. Brown is thankfully out of jail now, but earlier this week, Kevin Gallagher, who helped organize a legal defense fund for Brown, sued the Justice Department over claims that the DOJ illegally tracked and monitored everyone who donated to support Brown. Gallagher is looking to make this a class action lawsuit. You can read the full complaint here.

    • Dark Threads of Immigration in America

      For those who say “This is not who we are,” well, look again. It all seems to be exactly who we are and have been.

      President Donald Trump’s executive order banning travelers, immigrants and refugees from seven predominantly Muslim countries is only the latest twist of dark threads that have always been present in America and its immigration policy. The executive order is not unprecedented. It is evolutionary, predictable, nearly an inevitable step.

    • ‘Informal’ network helping refuge seekers get to Manitoba, U.S. officials say

      The rising number of people illegally crossing the U.S. border into Manitoba has not escaped the notice of the Department of Homeland Security.

      Officials in the U.S. say that “informal” networks of family members and friends, rather than criminal profiteers, are helping refuge seekers get to the border.

      “What we’ve seen hasn’t fit the profile of hardened criminals or organized crime types,” says Eric Kuhn, a U.S. border patrol officer in Pembina, N.D.

    • Court Refuses to Reinstate Travel Ban, Dealing Trump Another Legal Loss

      A three-judge federal appeals panel on Thursday unanimously refused to reinstate President Trump’s targeted travel ban, delivering the latest and most stinging judicial rebuke to his effort to make good on a campaign promise and tighten the standards for entry into the United States.

      The ruling was the first from an appeals court on the travel ban, and it was focused on the narrow question of whether it should be blocked while courts consider its lawfulness. The decision is likely to be quickly appealed to the United States Supreme Court.

      That court remains short-handed and could deadlock. A 4-to-4 tie in the Supreme Court would leave the appeals court’s ruling in place.

    • Trump Executive Order Sets Agenda For Police To Further Criminalize Protesters

      Executive orders signed by President Donald Trump set in motion an agenda for escalating the criminalization of citizens, who engage in protest. This agenda will likely have a disproportionate impact on Black Lives Matter activists, immigrant rights activists, and Native Americans engaged in protest against pipeline projects like the Dakota Access Pipeline.

      The executive order aimed at “preventing violence” against police officers calls for a review of existing laws. Following the review, recommendations are to be made to Trump for legislation to protect the safety of police.

      “If warranted,” the review may propose “legislation defining new crimes of violence and establishing new mandatory minimum sentences for existing crimes of violence against federal, state, tribal, and local law enforcement officers, as well as for related crimes.”

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • New FCC Boss Decides It’s Cool If Phone Monopolies Want To Rip Off Inmate Families

      For decades, inmate calling service (ICS) telcos have charged inmates and their families upwards of $14 per minute for phone calls without anybody giving much of a damn. Because these folks are in prison, and as we all know everybody in prison is always guilty, drumming up sympathy to convert into political momentum had proven difficult. But after decades of activism, the FCC intervened in 2013 and again in 2015, voting to cap the amount companies can charge the incarcerated for intrastate phone calls. This resulted in a firestorm of complaints from these companies, which not only get to rip off inmates, but have all too cozy and often not particularly legal relationships with law enforcement.

      One of the more vocal ICS outfits, Securus, quickly sued the FCC, going so far at one point as to claim that inmates would riot if the company wasn’t allowed to continue overcharging inmates and their families. Securus, Global Tel*Link and other providers challenged the FCC’s intrastate rate caps in the US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit, claiming the agency lacked the adequate authority to set caps and that the rates were too low. And for the last several years, the FCC had been working to defend its actions in court.

    • Tom Wheeler: Trump Plan To ‘Modernize’ The FCC A ‘Fraud’

      So we’ve noted a few times how former FCC boss Tom Wheeler surprised many of us (myself included) simply for basing his telecom policy decisions on actual facts. That doesn’t sound like much, but for more than fifteen years, both parties had stocked the agency with a rotating crop of either sector apologists like Michael Powell (now the cable industry’s top lobbyist) — utterly incapable of even admitting the broadband industry had competition problems — or wishy-washy folks like Julius Genachowski, who basically just told everybody what they wanted to hear, and just hoped things worked out for the best.

      Wheeler wound up being a notably different animal for the FCC. He based many of his policy decisions on real-world data collected from actual customers (shocking!), repeatedly highlighted the lack of real broadband competition in many markets (blasphemy!), and, as evident on his shift toward Title II reclassification and net neutrality, actually changed his mind when confronted with evidence that challenged his world view (what insolence!).

  • DRM

    • Funcom Responds Well To Mixup Over Denuvo DRM Resulting In Piracy Of Conan Exiles Game

      With the way the past couple of weeks have gone for Denuvo, the DRM that was supposed to end piracy but instead only ended the industry’s brief resurgence in faith in DRM, you would be forgiven if you thought this was going to be yet another post about another Denuvo-protected game being cracked and released to the pirating masses. This isn’t that kind of story. Instead, it’s the story of game publisher Funcom accidentally stripping Denuvo out of the latest build of its early access game, Conan Exiles, and having that be released to the pirating masses.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Leadership Rotation For Fight The Fakes Campaign [Ed: What happens when you call your competition, e.g. generics, "fakes" (like Trump's "fake news" about CNN)? You collapse.]

      The International Federation of Pharmaceutical Wholesalers (IFPW) took over the secretariat of Fight the Fakes, which in little over 3 years has grown to include over 30 organisations, including healthcare professionals, academia, NGOs, the generic and research-based pharmaceutical industry, healthcare distributors, and consumer protection organisations, according to a release.

    • Copyrights

      • BREAKING: AG Szpunar advises CJEU to rule that The Pirate Bay makes acts of communication to the public

        Is there a communication to the public within the meaning of Article 3(1) of the InfoSoc Directive by the operator of a website [The Pirate Bay, TPB], if no protected works are available on that website, but a system exist by means of which metadata on protected works which is present on the users’ computers is indexed and categorised for users, so that the users can trace and upload and download the protected works on the basis thereof?

        This is the principal question that the Dutch Supreme Court (Hoge Raad der Nederlanden) referred to the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) in Stichting Brein, C-610/15.


Links 8/2/2017: LinuxQuestions Members Choice Award Winners, OpenSUSE Site Cracked

Posted in News Roundup at 9:22 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish



  • 2016 LinuxQuestions.org Members Choice Award Winners

    Desktop Distribution of the Year – Slackware (16.03%)
    Server Distribution of the Year – CentOS (23.86%)
    Mobile Distribution of the Year – Android (68.24%)
    Database of the Year – MariaDB (41.29%)
    Office Suite of the Year – LibreOffice (89.60%)
    Browser of the Year – Firefox (51.74%)
    Desktop Environment of the Year – Plasma Desktop – KDE (28.57%)
    Window Manager of the Year – Openbox (24.04%)
    Audio Media Player Application of the Year – VLC (33.60%)
    Video Media Player Application of the Year – VLC (64.36%)
    Network Security Application of the Year – Wireshark (26.09%)
    Host Security Application of the Year – SELinux (36.62%)

  • Desktop

    • How Linux Helped Me Become an Empowered Computer User

      If you were to ask any of my friends, they could readily attest to my profound passion for Linux. That said, it might surprise you to know that hardly two years ago, I barely knew what Linux was, let alone had any earnest interest in switching to it from Windows.

      Although a shift as dramatic as this seem astonishing when considered in hindsight, analyzing my path from one push or influence to the next paints a more telling picture. It is with this approach that I want to share my story of how I came to not only use, but indeed champion, the Linux desktop.

    • Which Linux Operating Systems We Use and Why

      We really want you to start using Linux. But as there are so many Linux operating systems to choose from, some of which we’ve featured here, it can be tricky to decide which one to get started with.

      Which is most productive? What about games? Should you choose a Linux distro that focuses on media production? What about programming? Or is there one that covers all bases?

      In the end, it comes down to personal preference, but if you’re looking for a recommendation, the MakeUseOf Linux contributors all run Linux either as their main OS or as a dual-boot alternative. While we already have a list of the top Linux distros, here you can see which Linux operating systems we’re actually using in 2017.

  • Server

    • Q&A: MapR’s Jack Norris on the Converged Data Platform for Docker

      Today, MapR, one of the leaders in the Big Data space has announced a new environment that is optimized for Docker and container-based architectures, which the company bills as “critical for today’s modern architectures that require application development agility, fast time-to-value, and scale.” The company claims it is “the industry’s first persistent storage for containers that offers complete state access to files, database tables, and message streams from any location.” The MapR Converged Data Platform for Docker includes the MapR Persistent Client Container (PACC) that lets stateful applications and microservices access data for application agility.

    • Report: Docker and the Linux container ecosystem

      Our library of 1700 research reports is available only to our subscribers. We occasionally release ones for our larger audience to benefit from. This is one such report. If you would like access to our entire library, please subscribe here. Subscribers will have access to our 2017 editorial calendar, archived reports and video coverage from our 2016 and 2017 events.

  • Kernel Space

    • Graphics Stack

      • TGSI On-Disk Shader Cache For Mesa: Caching Comes To R600g/RadeonSI

        Timothy Arceri of Collabora has sent out his latest patches to Mesa in regards to the ongoing work for shader caches. The 40 patches published over night do benefit RadeonSI and R600g.

        Up to now Arceri’s GLSL shader cache has been about having a cache of the compiled shaders on-disk for the hardware being targeted and that focus up until recently was just for the Intel i965 driver. The shader cache effort being worked on now is adding support for caching of TGSI (Gallium3D’s IR) for drivers with RadeonSI caching now on his radar. With the TGSI effort, basically allowing an on-disk cache of the intermediate representation that is then consumed by the Gallium3D hardware drivers for generating their hardware-specific code.

      • Intel Linux Graphics Stack Certified for OpenGL 4.5, OpenGL ES 3.2 & Vulkan 1.0

        Intel’s Imad Sousou proudly announced that the open-source Intel Graphics Stack for Linux is now fully certified for the latest Khronos 3D industry-defined 3D graphics APIs, which include OpenGL 4.5, OpenGL ES 3.2, and Vulkan 1.0.

      • The Debate Over GLVND In Fedora 25 Is Still Going On

        The roll-out of GLVND support in Mesa as a Fedora 25 update was arguably botched, but it’s an important feature and is still being discussed.

        For those that haven’t been reading Phoronix the past few years, GLVND is the OpenGL Vendor Neutral Dispatch Library and is a NVIDIA-backed effort but with support from the upstream Mesa community for basically forming a new “Linux OpenGL ABI,” as it’s been referred to as over the years. Working to address the situation of different drivers competing for the libGL.so.1, and when installing NVIDIA/AMDGPU-PRO drivers currently, they clash with the current OpenGL library. This new ‘Linux OpenGL ABI’ takes care of it in simple terms by postfixing the driver’s name to each supplied libGL so they can happily co-exist on the same file-system while the central (GLVND-supplied) libGL.so.1 effectively works as a dispatcher so applications/games end up using the right driver. It’s roughly along the lines of how OpenCL and Vulkan drivers are implemented, but sadly it’s taken many years to improve the situation for OpenGL drivers on Linux.

      • RADV Fast Clears Land In Mesa Git, Fresh Vulkan Linux Benchmarks Imminent

        As a quick update to yesterday’s article about RADV fast clears by default was being proposed, that change-over just happened in Mesa 17.1-devel Git.

      • Wayland 1.13 Beta Released

        Bryce Harrington at Samsung’s Open-Source Group has announced the release of the Wayland 1.13 beta.

      • Mesa 17 3D Graphics Library Could Land By the End of the Week, RC3 Is Out Now

        Collabora’s Emil Velikov announced the availability of the third RC (Release Candidate) development snapshot of the upcoming Mesa 17.0.0 3D Graphics Library for GNU/Linux distributions.

        The Mesa 17.0.0 RC3 milestone comes two weeks after the release of the second RC build, and it brings numerous improvements across all the supported graphics drivers included in the stack. According to the release notes, a total of 66 changes have been implemented in this third, and probably the last Release Candidate.

      • Apple Proposing A New, Lower-Level Graphics API For The Web
  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

      • KDE Plasma 5.9 Desktop Environment Gets First Point Release, over 60 Bugs Fixed

        A few moments ago, the KDE project announced the general availability of the first point release of the KDE Plasma 5.9 desktop environment for Linux-based operating systems.

        That’s right, we’re talking about KDE Plasma 5.9.1, the first bugfix release to the latest stable series of the acclaimed and modern desktop environment for GNU/Linux distributions. This maintenance update comes only one week after the launch of KDE Plasma 5.9, and it fixes a total of 62 issues discovered or reported by users since then.

      • KDE Plasma 5.9.1, Bugfix Release
      • KDE Plasma 5.9.1 Released With Fixes

        For those that wait until point releases before upgrading your KDE desktop stack, Plasma 5.9.1 is now available.

        KDE Plasma 5.9.0 was released last week with a variety of new features while coming out today is the first point release.

      • QtWebKit Updated With WebGL Support, MinGW On Windows

        Qt WebEngine remains the primary module on modern Qt5 tool-kit versions for having web capabilities provided by Chromium. The migration from Qt WebKit to WebEngine happened around four years ago but there still are some developers pursuing out-of-tree support for Qt WebKit.

        In 2016 we covered a few times the work being done to revive Qt WebKit while coming out this week is a fresh “technology preview” release of the Qt WebKit code for those interested in this alternative to the Chromium-based Qt WebEngine.

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK

      • Apt Update Indicator For GNOME Shell Keeps You Informed About Available Updates [Ubuntu GNOME / Debian]

        Apt Update Indicator is a GNOME Shell extension that keeps you informed about available updates in Ubuntu GNOME / Debian.

        Using it, you get a new icon on the GNOME Shell Top Bar which displays the number of package updates, while from its menu you can see exactly which updates are pending, apply the updates, and more.

      • On Epiphany Security Updates and Stable Branches

        One of the advantages of maintaining a web browser based on WebKit, like Epiphany, is that the vast majority of complexity is contained within WebKit. Epiphany itself doesn’t have any code for HTML parsing or rendering, multimedia playback, or JavaScript execution, or anything else that’s actually related to displaying web pages: all of the hard stuff is handled by WebKit. That means almost all of the security problems exist in WebKit’s code and not Epiphany’s code. While WebKit has been affected by over 200 CVEs in the past two years, and those issues do affect Epiphany, I believe nobody has reported a security issue in Epiphany’s code during that time. I’m sure a large part of that is simply because only the bad guys are looking, but the attack surface really is much, much smaller than that of WebKit. To my knowledge, the last time we fixed a security issue that affected a stable version of Epiphany was 2014.

      • This week in GTK+ – 33

        The past two weeks we’ve had DevConf and FOSDEM back to back, so the development slowed down a bit. Expect it to pick up again, now that we’re close to the GNOME 3.24 release.

        In these last two weeks, the master branch of GTK+ has seen 34 commits, with 20973 lines added and 21593 lines removed.

      • Maps at FOSDEM

        I went to FOSDEM again this year, my fourth year running. I go with a great group of friends and it is starting to become quite the tradition.

  • Distributions

    • Best Linux distros for 2017

      These are some of the best distributions out there, in my opinion. For better or for worse, the Linux world is full of distributions and there are passionate people who like ‘their’ distributions over others. Let us know which distribution you prefer for your own use case and why.

    • Reviews

      • MX-16 Xfce: very close to the ideal

        The MX Linux distribution is a relatively new name in the Linux world. However, its predecessors MEPIS and antiX were both popular some time ago. I even reviewed SimplyMEPIS 11.0 KDE back in 2012.

        I am not very sure what MX means. Is it a reference to Mexico? Or to Moto-cross? Of just a hybrid of Mepis and antiX? You can comment your ideas below.

        Debian Stable is the backbone of this distribution. It is Debian 8 Jessie version that was used as a base for the latest MX release.

      • Solus 2017.01.01.0: Impressive newcomer

        Solus is an independent Linux distribution where the rising Budgie desktop was born. Despite the fact it is relatively a new Linux distribution, Solus brings many stunning features. The most interesting feature is, of course, the superstar Budgie desktop that has catalyzed another important project called Ubuntu Budgie. The newest version of Solus, Solus 2017.01.01.0, was released on January 2017 and offers us plenty of new and interesting things to look around.

    • New Releases

    • Gentoo Family

    • Arch Family

      • Arch Linux: A simpler kind of Linux?

        Arch Linux certainly has its share of fans, with some being quite passionate about their favorite distribution. Recently a writer at Linux.com wrote a post about Arch and considered it to be a “simpler kind of Linux.”

    • OpenSUSE/SUSE

      • Kurdish Hacker Posts Anti-ISIS Message on openSUSE’s Website, Data Remains Safe

        Softpedia was informed by Dr. Roy Schestowitz that the openSUSE News (news.opensuse.org) website got defaced by Kurdish hacker MuhmadEmad on the day of February 6, 2017.

        It would appear that the server where the news.opensuse.org website is hosted is isolated from the rest of openSUSE’s infrastructure, which means that the hacker did not have access to any contributor data, such as email and passwords, nor to the ISO images of the openSUSE Linux operating system.

        We already talked with openSUSE Chairman Richard Brown, who confirms for Softpedia that the offered openSUSE downloads remain safe and consistent, and users should not worry about anything. The vigilant openSUSE devs immediately restored the news.opensuse.org website from a recent backup, so everything is operating normally at this time.

      • OpenSUSE site hacked; quickly restored

        The openSUSE team acted quickly to restore the site. When I talked to Richard Brown, openSUSE chairman, he said that “the server that hosts ‘news.opensuse.org’ is isolated from the majority of openSUSE infrastructure by design, so there was no breach of any other part of openSUSEs infrastructure, especially our build, test and download systems. Our offered downloads remain safe and consistent and there was no breach of any openSUSE contributor data.”

        The team is still investigating the reason for the breach so I don’t have much information. The site ran a WordPress install and it seems that WordPress was compromised.

        This site is not managed by the SUSE or openSUSE team. It is handled by the IT team of MicroFocus. However, Brown said that SUSE management certainly doesn’t want any such incident to happen again and they are considering moving the site to the infrastructure managed by SUSE and openSUSE team.

      • Best Distros, openSUSE Whoops, Debian 9 One Step Closer

        In the latest Linux news, the news.opensuse.org got hacked and displayed “KurDish HaCk3rS WaS Here” for a while Monday and while the site has been restored, no comment on the hack has been issued. Elsewhere, Debian 9.0 has entered its final freeze in the last steps in preparations for release. FOSS Force has named their winner for top distro of 2016 and Swapnil Bhartiya shared his picks for the best for 2017. Blogger DarkDuck said MX-16 Xfce is “very close to the ideal” and Alwan Rosyidi found Solus OS is giving Elementary OS a run for its money. Phoronix.com’s Michael Larabel explained why he uses Fedora and Jeremy Garcia announced the winners of the 2016 LinuxQuestions.org Members Choice Awards.

    • Red Hat Family

    • Debian Family

      • Derivatives

        • Parsix GNU/Linux 8.15 and 8.10 Get Linux Kernel 4.4.47 LTS, New Security Updates

          It’s been a month since we’ve told you about the newest security updates that landed in the stable software repositories of the Debian-based Parsix GNU/Linux operating system, and it’s time to keep you guys up to date with what’s going on.

        • Canonical/Ubuntu

          • Ubuntu OTA-15 Now Available With Minimal Changes

            While the Ubuntu Phone efforts are basically on-hold until migrating to a Snap-based Ubuntu Phone/Touch image, OTA-15 was released today.

            Ubuntu OTA-15 is rolling out today to Ubuntu Phone users, but it’s not worth getting too excited about.

          • Ubuntu Touch OTA-15 Has Been Officially Released for Ubuntu Phones and Tablets

            We’ve been informed earlier by Canonical’s Łukasz Zemczak, via an email announcement, that the Ubuntu Touch OTA-15 software update has been officially released for all supported Ubuntu Phone and Ubuntu Tablet devices.

            Ubuntu Touch OTA-15 is now the latest software version for any officially supported Ubuntu-powered device, but it’s a small hotfix that only addresses three issues reported by users since OTA-14 and updates the oxide-qt web browser engine for Qt (QML plugin) to version 1.19.7 to address some security flaws.

          • Ubuntu OTA-15 Is Now Rolling Out to Ubuntu Phones, Tablets

            Ubuntu OTA 15 has been released, and is being rolled out to all supported Ubuntu Touch devices. As we previously reported, Ubuntu OTA-15 is primarily bug fix and security update, and addresses issues with loading HTTPS sites in the stock Ubuntu web-browser.

          • 5 Ubuntu Unity Features You May Not Have Known About

            Ubuntu Unity has been around for a while and debuted in release 11.04. Since then Canonical has been introducing new features in each release. Some features have been embraced by the Ubuntu community at large. As a result, these features are still talked about to this day. Other features are not so lucky.

            In this article we’ll talk about a few Ubuntu Unity features that you might not know exist. These aren’t hidden features by any means, just some useful aspects of Unity that are small but aren’t really talked about much anymore. Here are five Ubuntu Unity features you may not have known about!

  • Devices/Embedded

Free Software/Open Source

  • How to Manage the Security Vulnerabilities of Your Open Source Product

    The security vulnerabilities that you need to consider when developing open source software can be overwhelming. Common Vulnerability Enumeration (CVE) IDs, zero-day, and other vulnerabilities are seemingly announced every day. With this flood of information, how can you stay up to date?

    “If you shipped a product that was built on top of Linux kernel 4.4.1, between the release of that kernel and now, there have been nine CVEs against that kernel version,” says Ryan Ware, Security Architect at Intel, in the Q&A below. “These all would affect your product despite the fact they were not known at the time you shipped.”

  • 5 Open Source Software Defined Networking Projects to Know

    Throughout 2016, Software Defined Networking (SDN) continued to rapidly evolve and gain maturity. We are now beyond the conceptual phase of open source networking, and the companies that were assessing the potential of these projects two years ago have begun enterprise deployments. As has been predicted for several years, SDN is beginning to redefine corporate networking.

    Market researchers are essentially unanimous on the topic. IDC published a study of the SDN market earlier this year and predicted a 53.9 percent CAGR from 2014 through 2020, at which point the market will be valued at $12.5 billion. In addition, the Technology Trends 2016 report ranked SDN as the best technology investment for 2016.

  • Easier data center SDN deployments would enable private clouds
  • ‘Open Source’ Is Now a Word?

    “Open source” is now officially a word according to Merriam-Webster, according to my good friends at Ars Technica. Actually, I don’t know anybody at Ars Technica, but whenever you’re stealing news from another news source, you’re traditionally allowed to refer to everyone who works there as “my good friends.” The theory is that if they think you’re a friend of theirs, they won’t sue you.

    I say “according to Ars” because I can’t find proof anywhere that “open source” was indeed just added to the dictionary, as it’s not included as an example in the article my good friends at Merriam-Webster posted announcing the introduction of 1,000 new words on Tuesday. Or, if it’s there, the “find” function on my browser couldn’t find it, which would be really strange since the browser is designed and built by my good friends at Google.

  • 10 trends that will impact open-source tech in Saudi Arabia

    OPEN source has become an integral piece of every developer’s arsenal. The power of the community, the wisdom of many, and the ability to hook into various systems and solutions make open source incredibly powerful.

    At A10, we contribute to and embrace open-source solutions and provide APIs to empower developers to integrate their tools into our systems.

  • Netflix open-sources a Slack bot that helps devs manage GitHub repos [Ed: What good is "Open Source" that requires proprietary software to do anything?]

    Netflix announced today the release of HubCommander, an open source Slack bot to track and manage GitHub organizations and repositories.

    Netflix is the second large company to launch a Slack bot today. Earlier in the day, PayPal released its Slack bot for peer-to-peer payments.

  • IBM pushes accessibility with open-source projects

    Today, IBM began a new push to make applications accessible to users with disabilities. The company announced that is has made two accessibility projects available under open-source licenses. These projects are designed to help developers determine if their applications support the needs of those with limited mobility or vision.

    The two new projects are AccProbe and Va11yS. AccProbe is a standalone Eclipse RCP application designed to help developers test and debug accessible applications.

  • Events

    • Speak at The Linux Foundation’s Open Source Summit and Automotive Linux Summit in Japan

      More than 600 open source professionals, developers and operators will convene in Tokyo this year to collaborate, share information, and learn at Open Source Summit Japan. The technical conference will cover the latest in open source technologies, including Linux, containers, cloud computing, software-defined networking, and more.

      This year Open Source Summit Japan will also be co-located with Automotive Linux Summit, to be held May 31 – June 2 at the Tokyo Conference Center. Automotive Linux Summit gathers the most innovative minds from the automotive arena including automotive systems engineers, Linux experts, R&D managers, business executives, open source licensing and compliance specialists and community developers. The event connects the developer community with the vendors and users providing and using the code in order to drive the future of embedded devices in automotive.

    • FOSDEM 2017 Day 3: Talks & Chats

      Today I got early up, going with Andreas to the venue, arriving at 8.30 AM. He was going there to open the Open Source Design room, I was going there to open the GNOME booth. After the shift I then decided to wandered around to collect stickers and speak to various projects at their booths.

    • syslog-ng at FOSDEM 2017

      I spent the weekend at Free and Open Source Software Developers’ European Meeting, or as it is better known: FOSDEM – as I did in the past several years as well. This time I delivered two presentations on syslog-ng, and as usual, I spent the rest of the time in devrooms and in the exhibition areas.

    • DebConf17: Call for Proposals

      The DebConf Content team would like to Call for Proposals for the DebConf17 conference, to be held in Montreal, Canada, from August 6 through August 12, 2017.

      You can find this Call for Proposals in its latest form at: https://debconf17.debconf.org/cfp

      Please refer to this URL for updates on the present information.

    • Speak at ApacheCon 2017: 4 Days Left to Submit a Talk

      ApacheCon gathers attendees from over 60 countries to learn about core open source technologies directly from the Apache developer and user communities.

  • SaaS/Back End

    • New Options for Valuable Hadoop and Spark Training

      Metis, which bills itself as “an accredited intensive data science bootcamp,” is steadily moving forward with its big data processing courses, which teach students how to work with Hadoop and Spark, two of today’s most widely used distributed computing paradigms. As we’ve reported, enterprises are finding tools like Hadoop hard to work with. Gartner, Inc.’s Hadoop Adoption Study, involving 284 Gartner Research Circle members, found that only 125 respondents who completed the whole survey had already invested in Hadoop or had plans to do so within the next two years. The study found that there are difficulties in implementing Hadoop.

  • CMS

    • Migrated blog from WordPress to Hugo

      My WordPress blog got hacked two days ago and now twice today. This morning I purged MySQL and restored a good backup from three days ago, changed all DB and WordPress passwords (both the old and new ones were long and autogenerated ones), but not even an hour after the redeploy the hack was back. (It can still be seen on Planet Debian and Planet Ubuntu. Neither the Apache logs nor the Journal had anything obvious, nor were there any new files in global or user www directories, so I’m a bit stumped how this happened. Certainly not due to bruteforcing a password, that would both have shown in the logs and also have triggered ban2fail, so this looks like an actual vulnerability.

    • WordPress 4.7.2

      When WordPress originally announced their latest security update, there were three security fixes. While all security updates can be serious, they didn’t seem too bad. Shortly after, they updated their announcement with a fourth and more serious security problem.

      I have looked after the Debian WordPress package for a while. This is the first time I have heard people actually having their sites hacked almost as soon as this vulnerability was announced.

    • 4 open source tools for doing online surveys

      Ah, the venerable survey. It can be a fast, simple, cheap, and effective way gather the opinions of friends, family, classmates, co-workers, customers, readers, and others.

      Millions turn to proprietary tools like SurveyGizmo, Polldaddy, SurveyMonkey, or even Google Forms to set up their surveys. But if you want more control, not just over the application but also the data you collect, then you’ll want to go open source.

      Let’s take a look at four open source survey tools that can suit your needs, no matter how simple or complex those needs are.

  • Education

    • Charlie Reisinger’s ‘The Open Schoolhouse’

      Charlie Reisinger is the IT Director of the Penn Manor School District, in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. He recently finished writing a spellbinding book describing how his school district decided to adopt open source software and methods. When reading this book, I sent an email to Charlie saying: “This book reads as if it’s your doctoral thesis — it’s a multiyear capstone project.” Charlie responded, “It felt in some way like that while writing the book.” Charlie went on to tell me that the reason he wrote the book was to help other school districts make the plunge into open source. “Come on in – the water is warm!” is the reassuring tone throughout the book.

      Here is my video review of this book. Note — at 27-minutes long, it’s much longer than my other video book reviews. I had no choice but to give the book its due. It’s a masterful piece of storytelling that offers hope to students and teachers everywhere.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

  • BSD

    • openbsd changes of note 6

      In a bit of a hurry, but here’s some random stuff that happened.

      Add connection timeout for ftp (http). Mostly for the installer so it can error out and try something else.

  • Licensing/Legal

    • What to know before jumping into a career as an open source lawyer

      Advising clients on open source issues is a ton of fun—you often get to do deep dives into the technology to understand how it works, you can have a huge impact on their products and bottom line, and you can also help build healthy communities of paid developers and volunteers who are creating better tech.

    • Don’t Send An Engineer To Do A Lawyer’s Job

      A thread on an open source project mailing list offers seven lessons on how to engage an open source community over legal issues.

      A thread on an Apache mailing list (Now safely in the past) provides a great illustration of what not to do when your employer’s interests seem to need engagement in an open source community. Instead of asking a suitably-trained lawyer to directly engage, the company asked an engineer to engage when they wanted special terms for a contribution. They went on to propose custom terms, a custom CLA and even implied that they wanted private bilateral negotiations. This session runs through the thread and draws seven lessons for approaching an open source community with your legal issues.

    • Is the GPL a copyright license or a contract under U.S. law?

      In this talk I will summarize the case law on the contract or license question in the U.S. Certain obligations under the GPL may be merely contractual, meaning there are less damages and enforcement mechanisms available to a plaintiff, while other obligations may have more teeth. I will use this analysis to help the community think about how it might craft software licenses in the future.

    • Looking for a job? 6 questions to ask your recruiter

      Who owns the copyright to my open source contributions? You should carefully review any employment contract because some companies may claim ownership of anything you create while employed by them, regardless of whether it was created during your personal time. There is no right or wrong, but it is good to know before you start. Understanding the equipment and time that you can use for your personal open source contributions is of the upmost importance when signing any contracts.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

    • 5 elements for getting teams organized

      In his book The Open Organization, Dr. Philip Foster defines governance as “the system and process by which power is managed and thus instills order where potential conflict threatens the opportunities to realize mutual gains which is essential for open organizations.” According to Dr. Foster, open governance models for 21st Century businesses should contain five core elements: independence, pluralism, representation, decentralized decision making, and autonomous participation.


  • Oracle Policy Change Raises Prices on AWS

    News came last week that Oracle has, in effect, doubled the price for running its products on Amazon’s cloud. It has done so with a bit of sleight-of-hand on how it counts AWS’s virtual CPUs. It also did so without fanfare. The company’s new pricing policy went in effect on January 23, and pretty much went unnoticed until January 28, when Oracle follower Tim Hall stumbled on the change in Big Red’s “Licensing Oracle Software in the Cloud Computing Environment” document and blew the whistle.

  • 25 things you didn’t know about ‘Wayne’s World’ on its 25th anniversary

    Believe it or not: Oddball comedy Wayne’s World made its debut on the big screen 25 years ago on Feb. 14. The movie, adapted from the Saturday Night Live sketches with Wayne Campbell (Mike Myers), the enthusiastic host of a public access cable show from his parents’ couch, and Garth Algar (Dana Carvey), his socially inept and genius sidekick, went on to surpass $100 million at the box office and develop a cult following.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Sailing Towards An Iceberg – Let’s Not Settle For Food Rationing In Britain

      Lettuce rationing probably wasn’t in most pundits’ predictions for 2017. But this winter our supermarket shelves have been emptying of the green vegetables we take for granted.

      An extreme weather cocktail of drought, flooding and freezing conditions has wiped out crops in Southern Spain, while Italy, Turkey and Greece are struggling with poor conditions. Lettuce is currently the main casualty, with spinach, aubergines and broccoli also under threat.

      Everyone’s having great fun tweeting about the #lettucecrisis and the earlier #courgettecrisis. Complaining about price rises, sharing photos of shortage signs, listing all the supermarkets they’ve trekked to, searching for a humble aubergine.

    • Republicans Are Using Big Tobacco’s Secret Science Playbook to Gut Health Rules

      Much of the country has been watching in horror as Donald Trump has made good on his promises to eviscerate the Environmental Protection Agency — delaying 30 regulations, severely limiting the information staffers can release, and installing Scott Pruitt as the agency’s administrator to destroy the agency from within. But even those keeping their eyes on the EPA may have missed a quieter attack on environmental protections now being launched in Congress.

      On Tuesday, the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology is expected to hold a hearing on a bill to undermine health regulations that is based on a strategy cooked up by tobacco industry strategists more than two decades ago. At what Republicans on the committee have dubbed the “Making EPA Great Again” hearing, lawmakers are likely to discuss the Secret Science Reform Act, a bill that would limit the EPA to using only data that can be replicated or made available for “independent analysis.”

    • 50,000 women in Germany have suffered genital mutilation: report

      Thousands of girls in Germany face genital mutilation on top of the tens of thousands of women who have already suffered it, a new government report claims.

      The study, published on Monday by the Family Affairs Ministry, found that 48,000 woman and girls living in Germany have been victims of female genital mutilation (FGM), an increase of 30 percent since 2014.

      According to the authors, between 1,600 and 5,700 girls in Germany are faced with undergoing the illegal operation to remove external parts of their genitalia.

    • Shift work and heavy lifting may reduce women’s fertility, study finds

      Women who work at night or do irregular shifts may experience a decline in fertility, a new study has found.

      Shift and night workers had fewer eggs capable of developing into healthy embryos than those who work regular daytime hours, according to researchers at Harvard University.

      There was also a reduction of around 15 per cent in the number of eggs ready for fertilisation in women with jobs requiring heavy lifting, including nurses and interior designers, they said.

  • Security

    • Lynis – Security Auditing and Hardening Tool for Linux/Unix Systems

      First i want to tell you about system security before going deeper about Lynis. Every system administrator should know/understand about system security, Hardening, etc,. So that we can make our system up and running smoothly without any issues otherwise we have to face so many issues.

    • Security Hygiene for Software Professionals

      As software makers, we face a unique threat model. The computers or accounts we use to develop and deliver software are of more value to an attacker than what ordinary computer users have—cloud service keys can be stolen and used for profit, and the software we ship can be loaded with malware without our knowledge. And that’s before we consider that the code we write has a tremendous value of its own and should be protected.

    • AI isn’t just for the good guys anymore

      Last summer at the Black Hat cybersecurity conference, the DARPA Cyber Grand Challenge pitted automated systems against one another, trying to find weaknesses in the others’ code and exploit them.

      “This is a great example of how easily machines can find and exploit new vulnerabilities, something we’ll likely see increase and become more sophisticated over time,” said David Gibson, vice president of strategy and market development at Varonis Systems.

      His company hasn’t seen any examples of hackers leveraging artificial intelligence technology or machine learning, but nobody adopts new technologies faster than the sin and hacking industries, he said.

      “So it’s safe to assume that hackers are already using AI for their evil purposes,” he said.

    • MongoDB And Open Source: Super-Sized Vulnerability? [Ed: TopSpin Security is spinning and lying. MongoDB didn’t have a vulnerability, it was the fault of bad setup.]
    • Secdo adds Linux support

      Security vendor Secdo has added Linux to the list of operating systems supported by its Pre-emptive Incident Response product. It has provided a short list of supported versions of Linux including RHEL, Ubuntu and CentOS. While it doesn’t name SUSE Enterprise Server (SES) it does say that it is also supporting other versions of Linux.

    • An Update on WebKit Security Updates
    • 5 security tips for shared and public computers

      For many of us, the most important part of security is making our personal data safe. The best security will withstand any abuse, theoretically. However, in the real world, you can’t cover all possible situations of abuse. Therefore, the best strategy is to use multiple techniques for increasing security. Most normal people don’t need complicated schemes and cryptography to be safe. But it’s good to make it hard for intruders to get access to your data.

    • Tuesday’s security advisories
    • Windows SMB zero-day exploit published after Microsoft fails to fix issue

      A Windows Server zero-day security vulnerability has been released into the wild after Microsoft failed to issue a patch, despite having been warned of the problem three months ago.

  • Defence/Aggression

    • Up to 13,000 secretly hanged in Syrian jail, says Amnesty

      As many as 13,000 opponents of Bashar al-Assad were secretly hanged in one of Syria’s most infamous prisons in the first five years of the country’s civil war as part of an extermination policy ordered by the highest levels of the Syrian government, according to Amnesty International.

      Many thousands more people held in Saydnaya prison died through torture and starvation, Amnesty said, and the bodies were dumped in two mass graves on the outskirts of Damascus between midnight and dawn most Tuesday mornings for at least five years.

    • The media is ignoring leaked US-government documents on Syria

      Discussing western reporting of the Syrian war, veteran Middle East correspondent Patrick Cockburn recently noted “fabricated news and one-sided reporting have taken over the news agenda to a degree probably not seen since the First World War”.

    • Our Articles on the Terror Attacks the White House Says Weren’t Covered

      The White House has released a list of 78 terrorist attacks that it says were underreported. The Trump administration, under fire for immigration restrictions and other policies it says are designed to curb terrorism, has portrayed the media and other institutions as playing down the threat.

      But the list, which was released on Monday night and details episodes from September 2014 to December 2016, includes dozens of attacks that were heavily covered in the press, including The New York Times. (Examples are included in the list below.)

      Just as striking was what the list excluded: attacks targeting Muslims, the overwhelming majority of Islamist terrorism victims.

    • How Corporate Media Paved the Way for Trump’s Muslim Ban

      President Donald Trump’s executive order banning travel from seven predominantly Muslim nations justifiably led to much outcry from activists, politicians and foreign leaders. The list—currently struck down by a federal judge in Seattle—was arbitrary, motivated by disjointed racist panic and was reportedly causing deaths worldwide. But while it’s important to lay primary blame for the ban at the feet of the man who signed it, years of Islamophobic coverage in corporate media—right-wing, centrist and “liberal”—laid the propaganda groundwork to get us here.

      Surveys have found support for Trump’s Muslim ban ranging from 42 to 47 percent. This in line with the 43 percent of Americans willing to admit to having at least some prejudice against Muslims. Trump’s order exploits an irrational fear that media have spent at least 15 years conditioning.

      Attention has rightly been paid to the Islamophobia industry—a loose consortium of professional far-right trolls such as Pam Geller, Frank Gaffney, Steve Emerson, Breitbart, Infowars, etc. And while these forces certainly were major factor in creating the Trump-friendly Muslim-fearing climate, it’s important not to lose sight of at least three other media phenomena that also had a major role: 1) the presentation of “terrorism” as a unique, existential threat, arbitrarily defined as applying almost exclusively to Muslim violence, 2) New Atheist liberal bigots and 3) disproportionate news coverage of the ISIS spectacle.

    • As Netanyahu and May Chat, a Large Nest of Israeli Spies in London Exposed

      Shai Masot, the Israeli “diplomat” who had been subverting Britain’s internal democracy with large sums of cash and plans to concoct scandal against a pro-Palestinian British minister, did not appear in the official diplomatic list.

      I queried this with the FCO, and was asked to put my request in writing. A full three weeks later and after dozens of phone calls, they reluctantly revealed that Masot was on the “technical and administrative staff” of the Israeli Embassy.

      This is plainly a nonsense. Masot, as an ex-Major in the Israeli Navy and senior officer in the Ministry of Strategic Affairs, is plainly senior to many who are on the Diplomatic List, which includes typists and personal assistants. There are six attaches – support staff – already on the List.

    • Yemen withdraws permission for US ground raids after Donald Trump’s first botched military operation

      Yemen has withdrawn its permission for the US to conduct special operations missions in the country after the raid on an al-Qaeda base last month which killed up to 30 civilians and a US Navy Seal.

      There has been widespread anger in Yemen at the reported loss of life in a ground raid in which “almost everything went wrong,” as one US military official described it, leading Yemeni officials to suspend the counter-terror programme.

      Neither Yemen nor the US have officially announced the decision, which was reported by the New York Times, citing unnamed American officials.

    • Stephen Kinzer: America’s Empire State of Mind

      Why are we everywhere in the world, so often with guns drawn? The provocative reporter Stephen Kinzer has covered a number of our “regime-change” interventions in the world, from Guatemala to the Middle East. And in book after book, he’s sharpened the question: how did our country that was born in proud rebellion against the British Empire become the mightiest empire of them all — taking on the sorrows and burdens and expenses that come with most of a thousand military bases around the world. And how has the instinct to intervene persisted through so many bitter mistakes and losses, from the first de-stabilization of democratic Iran in the 1950s to Vietnam in the 60s to Iraq yesterday and Afghanistan today?

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • The WikiLeaks-inspired war for the Mormon Church’s deepest secrets

      Nine years ago, Karger helped expose the Mormon Church’s role in Proposition 8, the successful ballot initiative that struck down same-sex marriage in California. The Church of Latter-day Saints, a religion founded in the mid-19th century by Joseph Smith, a merchant’s son turned prophet, donated millions of dollars to the effort. The church also offered volunteers and considerable resources to Project Marriage, the anti-LGBT group backing Prop 8. After the church became involved, the campaign was pulling in $500,000 a day in donations.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • Corps to issue DAPL easement as soon as Wednesday afternoon

      The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has finished its review of the Dakota Access Pipeline and will issue an easement under the Missouri River/Lake Oahe as early as Wednesday afternoon, but the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe has pledged to challenge the decision in court.

      The decision comes two weeks after President Donald Trump asked federal agencies to speed up their review of the crude oil pipeline that tribal and environmental activists have protested for months.

      In a memo called “Compliance with Presidential Memorandum” and dated Tuesday, a senior Army Civil Works official said he reviewed all the corps study of the pipeline and decided the easement was warranted.

    • Floods and erosion are ruining Britain’s most significant sites

      Climate change is already wrecking some of Britain’s most significant sites, from Wordsworth’s gardens in Cumbria to the white cliffs on England’s south coast, according to a new report.

      Floods and erosion are damaging historic places, while warmer temperatures are seeing salmon vanishing from famous rivers and birds no longer visiting important wetlands.

    • Europe escalates action against UK for breaching air pollution limits

      An EU review has revealed multiple failings by the UK in applying environmental law, on the same day that the commission escalated its action against Britain for breaching air pollution limits.

      Britain has been in breach of EU nitrogen dioxide (NO2) limits since 2010, with London overshooting its annual air pollution limit for the whole of 2017 in just the first five days.

      The Guardian understands that a “reasoned opinion” will now be sent on 15 February to the UK and four other countries: Germany, France, Italy and Spain. If a satisfactory response is not received within two months, a case at the European court could follow.

    • A Crack in an Antarctic Ice Shelf Grew 17 Miles in the Last Two Months

      A rapidly advancing crack in Antarctica’s fourth-largest ice shelf has scientists concerned that it is getting close to a full break. The rift has accelerated this year in an area already vulnerable to warming temperatures. Since December, the crack has grown by the length of about five football fields each day.

    • Florida Republican Proposes Bill to Abolish the EPA

      There’s been much outrage over the Republican party’s disdain toward the Environmental Protection Agency. On Friday, Florida Republican congressman Matt Gaetz presented the most radical idea yet—eliminate the agency entirely. He proposed HR 861, a bill “to terminate the Environmental Protection Agency.”

    • Standing Rock Sioux Tribe says they will continue to fight DAPL despite Corps’ decision to issue easement

      Archambault II said he knows the Standing Rock movement has inspired people around the world to shape their world at home and abroad.

    • Controversial Dakota pipeline to go ahead after Army approval

      The U.S. Army will grant the final permit for the controversial Dakota Access oil pipeline after an order from President Donald Trump to expedite the project despite opposition from Native American tribes and climate activists.

      In a court filing on Tuesday, the Army said that it would allow the final section of the line to tunnel under North Dakota’s Lake Oahe, part of the Missouri River system. This could enable the $3.8 billion pipeline to begin operation as soon as June.

      Energy Transfer Partners is building the 1,170-mile (1,885 km) line to help move crude from the shale oilfields of North Dakota to Illinois en route to the Gulf of Mexico, where many U.S. refineries are located.

    • Welcome to Sumatra, Indonesia, an environmental genocide in the making

      Outside Southeast Asia, few people know of Palembang, a city on Sumatra, the sixth largest island in the world. A gloomy and immense city, with almost two million inhabitants, most of them living in cramped and squalid conditions.

      The tropical River Musi bisects the city, a desperately polluted waterway, bordered by slums built on stilts and a few old colonial buildings.
      Vessels of all types use the Musi, hauling everything that can be sold abroad or to the rest of Indonesia. The river is jammed with enormous barges filled with coal, oil tankers, makeshift boats carrying palm oil fruit bunches, as well as countless ships carrying timber.

      Plunder is done openly; there is no attempt to conceal it.

      Ms. Isna Wijayani, a Professor at Bina Darma University in Palembang, laments on the situation.

      “There is no primary forest left in a wide area around Palembang,” she says. “However, illegal logging doesn’t get reported in the local media. It is because powerful forces, including police and the army (TNI) are involved or directly behind much of the illegal logging and other profitable commercial activities in South Sumatra.”

    • Saudi Aramco

      The world’s most valuable company isn’t Apple or Google’s owner, Alphabet. It’s an outfit in a league of its own: Aramco, as Saudi Arabian Oil Co. is better known. This sprawling state-owned producer, sitting atop one-fifth of the globe’s petroleum reserves, pumps more crude than the top four publicly traded oil companies combined. It’s valued at more than $2 trillion — or about four times the biggest technology giants — though no one really knows what it’s worth because its profits are shrouded in secrecy. The veil could soon be lifted as the Saudi government is planning a partial privatization of Aramco to create a war chest and prepare the country for the post-hydrocarbon age.

    • There are now twice as many solar jobs as coal jobs in the US

      Putting solar panels on rooftops and arrays is a labor-intensive process. You need people to design and manufacture the panels. Then people to market the panels to homes, businesses, and utilities. Then people to come and install them.

      It all adds up to a lot of jobs. Even though solar power still provides just a fraction of America’s electricity — about 1.3 percent — the industry now employs more than 260,000 people, according to a new survey from the nonprofit Solar Foundation. And it’s growing fast: Last year, the solar industry accounted for one of every 50 new jobs nationwide.

  • Finance

    • Government to tweak planning laws to solve housing crisis

      The Government is to outline a series of tweaks to planning laws it says will help solve the housing shortage.

      Ministers want to require councils to come with a local plan to meet housing demand in an area, give them more powers to speed up developments, and require developers to use land more efficiently.

      Crucially, the Government’s long awaited housing white paper includes measures that would effectively scrap the Coalition 2010 housebuilding planning framework and return to a system that bears stronger similarities to the one they inherited from Labour in 2010.

    • Universities minister announces sale of student loan book

      The government has begun its controversial sale of the student loan book, which it expects to recoup £12bn in the long run for the exchequer, and assured graduates that they will not have to pay more.

      The universities minister, Jo Johnson, said the move would have “no impact” on student borrowers paying off loans, as terms and conditions would remain the same after the sale was completed.

      Critics, however, were sceptical of the minister’s assurances, noting that the government had already moved the goalposts once on student loan repayments. Others raised doubts that the sale would result in value for money for taxpayers.

    • After I Lived in Norway, America Felt Backward. Here’s Why.

      One night I tuned in to the Democrats’ presidential debate to see if they had any plans to restore the America I used to know. To my amazement, I heard the name of my peaceful mountain hideaway: Norway. Bernie Sanders was denouncing America’s crooked version of “casino capitalism” that floats the already-rich ever higher and flushes the working class. He said that we ought to “look to countries like Denmark, like Sweden and Norway, and learn from what they have accomplished for their working people.”

    • Betsy DeVos likely to get education post despite all-night Democratic protest

      Betsy DeVos, the education secretary in waiting who has emerged as Donald Trump’s most controversial cabinet nominee, is likely to be confirmed in a dramatic vote on Tuesday. But opponents of the Republican megadonor insist the fight has only just begun.

      Democrats mounted a marathon 24-hour takeover of the Senate floor that was still continuing on Tuesday morning, marking a show of overnight resistance against Trump’s divisive choice to head the Department of Education. With the chamber currently split 50-50, mostly along party lines, on DeVos’s nomination, Vice-President Mike Pence is expected to cast a rare tie-breaking vote in her favor on Tuesday after two Republicans came out against her confirmation last week.

    • Betsy DeVos confirmed Education secretary; Pence casts deciding vote

      The Senate confirmed Betsy DeVos as the nation’s 11th Education secretary Tuesday in a historic vote, ending a tumultuous battle over her nomination.

      DeVos, 59, has long been a polarizing figure in Michigan’s political and education circles for her support of school vouchers and charter schools. In the weeks since a rocky confirmation hearing, she became a cause celebre for opponents who say she is unfit and unqualified to serve. Congressional offices were inundated with angry calls urging her to be rejected, she was the subject of angry teacher protests nationwide, and her performance as a nominee was ridiculed on Saturday Night Live.

    • May to put Brexit deal to MPs’ vote before it goes to European parliament

      Theresa May will allow MPs to vote on any proposed Brexit deal before it is put to the European parliament, in a move designed to see off the threat of a Conservative backbench rebellion.

      David Jones, a Brexit minister, made the announcement on Tuesday in the House of Commons at the start of a four-hour debate on how MPs will be asked to approve the final form of a deal with the EU, after two years of talks.

    • Government-Financed R&D Declining; Private Sector, Tax Incentives Rise, OECD Finds

      A new set of science and technology indicators shows that the business sector is expected to remain the driving force behind research and development growth, according to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). The OECD released its main science and technology indicators today and found that government-financed research and development expenditures have been declining for some years.

      The Main Science and Technology Indicators (MSTI) database “provides a set of indicators that reflect the level and structure of efforts in the field of science and technology undertaken from 1981 onwards by OECD Member countries and seven non-member economies: Argentina, China, Romania, Russian Federation, Singapore, South Africa, Chinese Taipei [Taiwan],” according to the OECD website. The OECD consists of 35 wealthier countries.

    • ‘If trade stops, war starts,’ warns Alibaba founder Jack Ma

      “Everybody is concerned about trade wars. If trade stops, war starts,” he said in Melbourne, where the e-commerce giant Alibaba opened its Australia and New Zealand headquarters.

      “But worry doesn’t solve the problem. The only thing you can do is get involved and actively prove that trade helps people to communicate,” said Alibaba’s CEO, as quoted by Business Insider Australia.

      The globalized economy is more than just transactions of money and goods, according to Ma.

      “We have to actively prove that trade helps people to communicate. And we should have fair trade, transparent trade, inclusive trade,” he said.

      “Trade is about a trade of values. Trade of culture,” said the billionaire, stressing that he felt a personal responsibility to fly more than a hundred thousand kilometers in the past month to promote global commerce.

    • Uber sues Seattle over law allowing drivers to unionize

      Late last month, Uber sued the city of Seattle, challenging the city’s authority to implement a landmark law allowing drivers in the gig economy to unionize. It was an opening shot in what is likely to be a long and costly legal battle.

      Uber’s legal challenge comes at an awkward time for the ride-hailing juggernaut. The company recently named 2017 “the year of the driver” and has said it will devote energy and resources to improving its relationship with the hundreds of thousands of people who drive on its platform. But the company’s bungled response to a taxi strike during the recent JFK protests led to a grassroots #DeleteUber campaign that saw 200,000 riders canceling their accounts. This latest situation in Seattle may further complicate Uber’s attempts to reverse the negative effects of that campaign.

    • It used to take 3 years for a British family to save for a home down-payment; now it takes 20 years

      The Resolution Foundation’s Living Standards 2017 is an eye-opening look at the current state of the British experiment in allowing wealth inequality to expand without any check, to use a combination of austerity, the elimination of protection for tenants, reckless lending, offshore money-laundering and public subsidies for speculators to turn the human necessity of shelter into the nation’s leading asset-class.

      The result is that normal working people who bought property before hyperinflation in housing prices are now richer than they could have dreamed, and everyone else is much, much poorer. Meanwhile, the offshore investors — including many criminals who are laundering their ill-gotten gains through the London property market — are inflating the bubble to unheard-of size. Combine that with wage stagnation (which is really wage reduction, when your shelter bill is undergoing hyperinflation) and you have a recipe for wealth disparity that makes Dickens look like Karl Marx.

    • Betsy DeVos Confirmed as Education Secretary; Pence Breaks Tie

      “It’s telling that even when Trump had full control of the legislative and executive branches, he could only get DeVos confirmed by an unprecedented tiebreaking vote by his vice president,” Ms. Weingarten said. “That’s because DeVos shows an antipathy for public schools, a full-throttled embrace of private, for-profit alternatives and a lack of basic understanding of what children need to succeed in school.”

    • Betsy DeVos confirmed as Education Secretary thanks to ‘historic tiebreaking vote’ from VP Mike Pence

      Another day, another grim historical first for America. The Senate just confirmed Betsy DeVos as education secretary after a ‘historic tiebreaking vote’ from Vice President Mike Pence.

      Both DeVos and Pence are fans of widely discredited LGBT ‘conversion therapy,’ a damaging and inhumane bullshit practice we’ll probably see a lot more of now, along with guns in schools to protect kids from grizzly bears and jihadists.

      Just two Senate Republicans voted against DeVos: Senators Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, both of whom came out as opposed to the nominee last week. Lawmakers gave continuous speeches on the Senate floor late into the night Monday, arguing that DeVos was unqualified because she knows nothing about public schools or basic laws of our country that protect the rights of students, among many other well-documented reasons that mean nothing anymore because facts don’t matter and there is no God.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • This White House List Contradicts Trump’s Claim The News Media Ignores Terror Attacks

      President Donald Trump on Monday falsely claimed the “dishonest press” has failed to report on terrorist attacks, asserting the media deliberately ignores attacks for unspecified “reasons.”

      “All across Europe you’ve seen what happened in Paris and Nice,” Trump said in a speech to troops at MacDill Air Force Base in Florida. “All over Europe it’s happening. It’s gotten to a point where it’s not even being reported. And in many cases the very, very dishonest press doesn’t want to report it.”

      “They have their reasons, and you understand that,” he said without elaborating.

      After questions were raised about his unsubstantiated claim, the White House released a long list of attacks — the majority of which have been extensively covered by major US news organizations.

    • Debbie Wasserman Schultz Continues to Rise in Congress After DNC Flop

      While she’s no longer in charge of the Democratic National Committee (DNC), U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, D-Fla., continues to move up her party’s ranks in Congress.

      Wasserman Schultz took over the DNC in 2011 and helped then President Barack Obama win a second term in 2012. But Democrats suffered some major losses in 2014 and, after Wikileaks released emails indicating Wasserman Schultz and the DNC helped ensure former U.S. Sec. of State Hillary Clinton would defeat U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., for the party’s presidential nomination, she resigned that post back in July. Sanders backed law professor Tim Canova against Wasserman Schultz in a congressional primary at the end of August but she took 57 percent to win renomination and went on to beat Republican Joe Kauffman in November.

    • Mike Pence, a man of the House, becomes Trump’s eyes and ears in the Senate

      During his House tenure Pence wasn’t particularly influential. The former radio talk show host was always known more for communication skills than policy chops. But he was generally well liked and trusted, developing long-standing friendships with rabble rousers who now hold powerful posts, particularly Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.).


      Even Democrats, so far, don’t mind having Pence around so much. Sen. Thomas R. Carper (D-Del.) said Trump’s “propensity for alternative facts” might mean Pence has to translate: “Mike Pence could probably come over, clearly as anybody, and say: This is what’s really going on. “

    • What Slobodan Milosevic Taught Me About Donald Trump

      During his inaugural address, Donald Trump deployed rhetoric that was familiar to anyone who spent time in the Balkans in the 1990s. “You will never be ignored again,” Trump thundered, with Congress as his backdrop. He expanded on the idea a few days later, during a visit to the Department of Homeland Security, where he said, “To all of those hurting out there, I repeat to you these words, we hear you, we see you, and you will never, ever be ignored again.”

      Trump’s message was a variation, directed at his largely white constituency, of the you-shall-not-be-beaten-again rhetoric used with malignant effect by Slobodan Milošević during the collapse of Yugoslavia. Trump is not Milošević and the United States is not Yugoslavia, of course, but the echoes between these paragons of national shamelessness reveal the underlying methods and weaknesses of what Trump is trying to pull off.

      In 1987, Milošević was sent to Kosovo to soothe angry Serbs who felt threatened by Albanians who dominated the province. A low-profile communist official at the time, Milošević visited a municipal office and spoke to a crowd of unhappy Serbs who had gathered outside. Milošević was uncertain as he addressed them, but everything changed when he voiced a nationalist message they had never heard before: “No one will be allowed to beat the Serbs again, no one!” he said.

    • White House ramping up search for communications director after Spicer’s rocky start
    • Warren Is Silenced by GOP Senate for Breaking Rule

      Sen. Elizabeth Warren has earned a rare rebuke by the Senate for quoting Coretta Scott King on the Senate floor.

      The Massachusetts Democrat ran afoul of the chamber’s arcane rules by reading a three-decade-old letter from Dr. Martin Luther King’s widow that dated to Sen. Jeff Sessions’ failed judicial nomination three decades ago.

      [NEWS OF THE DAY: Dakota Access Pipeline Protesters Dig In, as Army Halts Construction]

      The chamber is debating the Alabama Republican’s nomination for attorney general, with Democrats dropping senatorial niceties to oppose Sessions and Republicans sticking up for him.

    • Senate GOP votes to silence Warren after speech against Sessions

      The Senate voted to bar Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) from speaking on the floor Tuesday night, after Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said her blistering comments about fellow Sen. Jeff Sessions, President Trump’s pick for attorney general, broke Senate rules.

      Senators rebuked Warren in a 49-43 party-line vote, rejecting Warren’s push to overturn a ruling by Senate Republicans that she had violated the rules during a Senate floor speech.

      Warren needed a simple majority to overturn the ruling by Sen. Steve Daines (R-Mont.), who was presiding over the the Senate during the Massachusetts Democrat’s speech.

    • BuzzFeed vs. Trump

      It happened fast. Just like everything else in Trumpland.

      On January 10th, CNN published an explosive story: a dossier alleging President-elect Donald Trump had been embarrassingly compromised by the Russian government had been circulating among high-ranking government officials and journalists for months. But CNN, along with a number of other organizations that had access to the dossier, stopped short of publishing it. Their reasoning? They couldn’t confirm any of the file’s salacious details or damning allegations.

      An hour later, BuzzFeed went ahead and published the documents. BuzzFeed described the dossier’s allegations as “unverified” and pointed out some obvious errors that suggested sloppy work, such as misspellings and easily debunked claims, but didn’t weigh in on the truthfulness of its most damning charges

    • House Republicans Just Voted to Eliminate the Only Federal Agency That Makes Sure Voting Machines Can’t Be Hacked

      In a little-noticed 6-3 vote today, the House Administration Committee voted along party lines to eliminate the Election Assistance Commission, which helps states run elections and is the only federal agency charged with making sure voting machines can’t be hacked. The EAC was created after the disastrous 2000 election in Florida as part of the Help America Vote Act to rectify problems like butterfly ballots and hanging chads. (Republicans have tried to kill the agency for years.) The Committee also voted to eliminate the public-financing system for presidential elections dating back to the 1970s.

      “It is my firm belief that the EAC has outlived its usefulness and purpose,” said Committee chair Gregg Harper (R-MS), explaining why his bill transfers the EAC’s authority to the Federal Election Commission.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • Twitter finally moves to ban serial harassers

      Every few months, it seems like Twitter execs swear that the company will do a better job at shutting down abusive trolls. And yet, hate and harassment continue to plague the platform, making it impossible for some high-profile users to remain active. This week, Twitter is making three changes to ramp up its efforts, and they might actually make a huge difference.

      First up: Twitter will now identify repeat offenders—people whose accounts have been permanently banned—and will keep them from creating new accounts. Trolls who churn through accounts to terrorize others will no longer be able to do so. This is major.

      Twitter is also building a “safe search” tool that won’t show potentially offensive tweets, or tweets from accounts you’ve muted or blocked, in your search results anymore.

    • Beware of Self-Censorship

      Such ripple effects, even if unintended, are especially potent when their target belongs to an already vulnerable group. After 9/11, for example, journalists and activists reported extensive fear throughout Arab and Muslim communities in the United States, inspired by the detention of 1,200 to 5,000 Muslim and Arab men. This was a fear not just of detention, deportation, or vigilante violence, but of speaking out on politically controversial issues of American foreign policy, which might—and often does—attract scrutiny, surveillance, or harassment from the federal government and police. “There’s fear in the Arab community,” reported Mino Akhtar. “What I hear Arabs and Muslims saying is, ‘Let’s keep a low profile. Don’t step out there. We need to stay quiet and let this blow over,” a claim confirmed by numerous press reports.

    • Russian filmmakers stand up against Soviet-style censorship
    • Arrested #ThisFlag Zimbabwean pastor Evan Mawarire listed for 2017 Index on Censorship award

      A Zimbabwean pastor arrested after leading an anti-Robert Mugabe campaign which went viral has been shortlisted for the 2017 Index on Censorship Freedom of Expression Awards.

      Pastor Evan Mawarire’s #ThisFlag protest movement won widespread support among Zimbabweans on social media last year after he called on President Mugabe’s government to address a failing economy and to respect human rights.

    • Melania Trump Sues Daily Mail for Hurting “Once-in-a-Lifetime Opportunity” to Monetize Her Brand

      The Maryland suit against Mail Media was dismissed on jurisdictional grounds earlier this month. Trump’s new suit has been filed with the New York State Supreme Court in Manhattan. She is seeking at least $150 million in damages. Her lawyer, Charles Harder, successfully represented another high-profile figure in a suit against a media organization: Harder’s client Hulk Hogan won $140 million and bankrupted Gawker Media last year.

    • Court Tells Melania Trump She Can’t Sue The Daily Mail In Maryland, So She Refiles In New York

      Of course, what changed between the first complaint and the second complaint was Melania’s husband becoming President of the United States. Thus, the clear implication — that many in the media are making — is that the “once in a lifetime” opportunity is to somehow cash in on the Presidency. Of course, I do wonder how much damage to her brand could really be attributed to those articles, which have since been deleted, seeing as her reputation — and the fact that she will now be “one of the most photographed women in the world” — certainly seems to have massively boosted her reputation and massively increased her areas of opportunity if she does choose to cash in (i.e., it seems that she might have had a stronger case if she had not become First Lady). Separately, in an era where people like Kim Kardashian and Paris Hilton have become massive licensing juggernauts, I’m curious how much damage the Daily Mail reports could actually do to potential brand/licensing deals.

      Either way, Harder and Trump will continue pushing forward in their lawsuit against the Daily Mail, just in New York, rather than Maryland. And, yes, if you were wondering, New York has an unfortunately weak anti-SLAPP law.

    • Uzbekistan: Emboldened Media Shedding Self-Censorship

      As headlines go, this one might not look especially exciting; “What Can We Expect from the Liberalization of the Foreign Currency Market?”

      But the article, by respected economist Yuliy Yusupov, became an instant sensation when it was published January 17 by the Uzbekistan-focused online business news outlet Kommersant.uz.

      Tight official controls over currency and trade — and the flourishing of a black economy in both these areas — had made the subject off-limits for any local media in the days of the late President Islam Karimov. Thus, it is no surprise that the January 17 article touched off a flurry of social media chatter among Uzbek news consumers.

    • Russian Filmmakers Protest Attempts To ‘Censor’ Film About Young Tsar

      An independent group of Russian filmmakers is protesting what it says are efforts by a State Duma deputy from Russia-annexed Crimea to “censor” a controversial film centered on a love affair between the future Tsar Nicholas II and a young ballerina.

      Kino Soyuz (Union of Filmmakers) on February 7 published an open letter protesting Duma Deputy Natalya Poklonskaya’s calls for investigations of the unreleased film, Matilda, by director Aleksei Uchitel.

      The protest letter, signed by more than 40 Russian directors, also charges that nationalists belonging to a group called “Orthodox State — Holy Russia” have been threatening “arson attacks and violent acts against theaters that would dare to show the film.”

    • COMMENT: No censorship at the Compton Herald, no sir!

      Censorship does not trump the First Amendment, not in Compton, not anywhere; mute the voice and this might as well be North Korea

    • Book Review: Trickle-Down Censorship

      A chilling development of recent years has been an effort by Beijing to buy or bully the right to apply its censorship rules or spread propaganda across borders. This can be seen from state media produced “China Watch” pullouts inserted into mainstream newspapers such as The Washington Post and The Telegraph in London, to denying visas to journalists from publications that report on dubious wealth acquisitions at the top of the Chinese Communist Party leadership.

    • Librarians take up arms against fake news

      Librarians are stepping into the breach to help students become smarter evaluators of the information that floods into their lives. That’s increasingly necessary in an era in which fake news is a constant.

    • Georgia police captain got his ex-wife jailed for her Facebook comment about him

      According to a lawsuit, Corey King, a police captain in Washington County, Georgia, conspired with his friends magistrate Ralph O. Todd and Sheriff’s Investigator Trey Burgamy to arrest King’s ex-wife, Anne King, and her friend, Susan Hines, for a Facebook exchange in which they commiserated over Captain King’s refusal to pick up medicine for his sick children.

      Both women were jailed (Ms King was handcuffed!) and then released by a real judge (as opposed to a dipshit, small-town magistrate) who blasted all three for the two women’s arrest (“I don’t even know why we’re here”) and the state’s attorney dropped the charge. Captain King has threatened to re-arrest his ex-wife, saying, “don’t make the mistake of going to Facebook with your little shit you found to fuss about” and suggesting she could face “willful contempt” if she does so.

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Lawsuit accuses Justice Department of illegally monitoring political donations

      The Justice Department was sued in federal court Tuesday on behalf of hundreds of donors whose otherwise anonymous political contributions were secretly monitored by the FBI.

      Attorneys filed the class-action complaint in San Francisco federal court this week on behalf of individuals who previously contributed to a now-defunct legal fund established for Barrett Brown, a Texas-based journalist who was arrested in September 2012 and subsequently indicted on more than a dozen counts related to the FBI’s investigation of a 2011 cyber intrusion, among other charges.

      Hundreds of contributors from throughout the United States ultimately donated more than $40,000 towards the journalist’s legal fund through Free Barrett Brown, an online crowdfunding campaign launched shortly following his arrest by Kevin Gallagher, a San Francisco-based systems administrator. According to Tuesday’s lawsuit, however, the Justice Department violated the constitutional rights of those contributors when it secretly obtained information about Mr. Brown’s supporters from the internet company that hosted the fundraising site.

    • reclaiming conversation

      Turkle is an anthropologist who interviews people from different generations about their communication habits. She has observed cross-generational changes thanks to (a) the proliferation of instant messaging apps such as WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger; and (b) fast web searching from smartphones.

      Her main concern is that conversation is being trivialised. Consider six or seven college students eating a meal together. Turkle’s research has shown that the etiquette among such a group has shifted such that so long as at least three people are engaged in conversation, others at the table feel comfortable turning their attention to their smartphones. But then the topics of verbal conversation will tend away from serious issues – you wouldn’t talk about your mother’s recent death if anyone at the table was texting.

    • Girl On The Net: Leading UK sex blogger reveals how maintaining anonymity helped lead to a mental breakdown

      On the face of it, there do not appear to be many parallels between being a sex blogger and a secret service agent. However, there is one key similarity: maintaining anonymity at all times and thus leading a double life.

      For Girl On The Net, remaining anonymous is a constant source of consternation, angst and exhaustion. From using a burner phone which can’t be traced, to fastidiously wiping the internal location data for every photo she uploads, to keeping her job a secret from friends and relatives, there is the always omnipresent, never shakeable fear that someone is going to come along and uncover her identity.

      The 24 hour task of maintaining anonymity has had a knock-on effect on GOTN’s mental health. After her panic attacks became daily occurrences and her anxiety became unmanageable, the stress eventually culminated in a breakdown.

    • Maybe the US does have the right to seize data from the world’s servers

      Can the US government demand that it be able to reach into the world’s servers with the tech sector’s assistance? International relations issues aside, the answer to that legally thorny question depends on which US court is asked.

      Consider that a federal magistrate judge in Philadelphia answered that question Friday in the affirmative, ordering Google to comply with US warrants and transfer e-mail stored overseas to the US so the FBI could examine it as part of a criminal probe. Yet just two weeks ago, a New York-based federal appeals court let stand its highly publicized July decision that allowed Microsoft to quash a US court warrant for e-mail stored on its servers in Dublin, Ireland.

    • NSA rejections hint at lingering secrets surrounding Cold War codebreakers

      VENONA, a Signals Intelligence (SIGINT) and decryption program run by the NSA and its predecessor, the U.S. Army’s Signal Intelligence Service, intercepted and ultimately decrypted thousands of Soviet messages, most infamously helping to finger the Rosenbergs. These decrypted messages have been a useful resource to historians, and the NSA boasts that “over the course of five more releases, all of the approximately 3,000 VENONA translations were made public” and put on their website.

    • Congress Tries Once Again To Require Warrants To Search Emails

      The efforts to reform ECPA — the Electronic Communications and Privacy Act — have been going on for basically two decades at this point. The law, which was passed in 1986, has a whole bunch of problems, with the biggest one (as we’ve discussed dozens of times) being that it considers any email that’s been on a server for more than 180 days “abandoned,” and thus freely searchable by law enforcement without a warrant. That’s because there was no concept of cloud computing back in 1986. People who got email “retrieved” those emails off of a server and downloaded them to local storage. Many in Congress have been trying to fix this for so, so, so many years. And it always gets blocked. The IRS and the SEC have both been fairly proactive in trying to block ECPA reform bills that will require a warrant (funny: I thought it was the 4th Amendment that made such a warrant necessary, but, silly me, no one cares about the 4th Amendment any more).

      Last year, a plan to fix ECPA, called the Email Privacy Act, with an astounding 315 co-sponsors, passed the House unanimously. As we noted at the time, this is fairly incredible. In these contentious times — especially on issues related to surveillance and law enforcement — to have a unanimous vote on a law that says “get a warrant” if you want access to emails, is quite incredible. But, of course, even with that much support on that side of Congress, the Senate has a way of killing ECPA reform each and every year. Last year, a few Senators — including Jeff Sessions, who is likely to be our next Attorney General — tried to bury it with ridiculous amendments that would expand surveillance.

    • Cloud and IoT will be big in Thailand this year – but not blockchain, says Microsoft [Ed: Why are people surprised that Microsoft is spying on everyone and gives this data to deadly regime? Microsoft a company of crooks and liars.]

      Disruptive.Asia asked Microsoft to comment on a recent publication on the state of surveillance in Thailand by Privacy International, in which they discovered that Windows 10 was recently updated to include the Thai government’s root CA in its list of trusted certificates. This would allow anyone controlling the certificate to perform a man-in-the-middle attack and intercept SSL encrypted websites and email traffic to spy on Thai citizens.

      The Microsoft country manager shuffled round uncomfortably and said that he had heard about the Privacy International allegations in briefings but he does not know the technical aspects and is not qualified to answer.

      “I dare not answer. I am not the expert. It is too complex. But I am sure that your data with us is secure,” he said.

    • Most smart TVs are tracking you — Vizio just got caught

      Vizio got in trouble with the FTC this week and had to pay $2.2 million to settle charges around having monitored the viewing habits on more than 11 million TVs without consent over the course of two years.

      The main problem was that Vizio TVs had tracking features turned on by default, instead of an opt-in setting like many other manufacturers use (and, as you’ll see, sometimes hide or trick you into accepting). Newer Vizio TVs that run the company’s SmartCast system have the tracking turned off by default.

      It was a bad practice that people had been complaining about for years — a possible class action lawsuit was even filed in 2016 — but the situation is now a relatively good one for Vizio TV owners: the company is specifically prohibited from tracking your viewing habits without explicit permission.

    • Vizio Fined $2.2 Million For Not Telling Customers Their TVs Were Spying On Them

      Security isn’t the only thing being ignored as hardware vendors rush to connect televisions, toasters, and tea kettles to the internet. Consumer privacy and data-collection transparency has also become a distant afterthought as companies rush to cash in on the ocean of data these connected-devices collect. The “smart” television sector has been notably problematic, with Samsung busted a few years back for not only recording customer living room conversations, but transmitting that data unencrypted back to the company mothership.

      These are lessons that hardware vendors appear incapable or unwilling to learn. Case in point: this week the FTC announced that it had struck a $1.2 million settlement with discount TV vendor Vizio. According to the full FTC complaint (pdf), Vizio began using the company’s smart televisions to track user behavior in 2014, without informing customers that this was happening. The FTC notes that Vizio for years heavily advertised a “Smart Interactivity” feature that “enables program offers and suggestions.” But the complaint notes this feature never provided customers with a single suggestion.

    • Surveillance in the Age of Populism

      Surveillance laws should always be written as if the government we most fear is in power. It is one of the most insidious controls authorities can wield and, if unchecked, can corrode democratic institutions and give governments a sinister degree of power over their citizens.

      Yet the exact opposite has happened in Europe since Edward Snowden revealed mass surveillance abuses by the United States. Despite the outrage he sparked, governments across Europe have steadily adopted the US “collect it all” approach. With growing support for populist extremist parties, now is not the time to abandon privacy protections. Doing so risks enabling abusive surveillance by future illiberal governments.

    • The Fight Over Email Privacy Moves to the Senate

      The House passed the Email Privacy Act (H.R. 387) yesterday, bringing us one step closer to requiring a warrant before law enforcement can access private communications and documents stored online with companies such as Google, Facebook, and Dropbox. But the fight is just beginning.

      We’ve long called for pro-privacy reforms to the 1986 Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA), the outdated law that provides little protection for “cloud” content stored by third-party service providers. H.R. 387 would codify the Sixth Circuit’s ruling in U.S. v. Warshak, which held that the Fourth Amendment demands that the government first obtain a warrant based on probable cause before accessing emails stored with cloud service providers. While imperfect—the House-passed bill doesn’t require the government to notify users when it obtains their data from companies like Google—the reforms in the Email Privacy Act are a necessary step in the right direction.

    • Windows DRM: Now An (Unwitting) Ally In Efforts To Expose Anonymous Tor Users

      The $10k price tag for proper licensing is a deterrent to small-time malware purveyors. But it would only be a drop in the bucket for a well-funded government agency and/or any NGOs they employ. It’s basically the Network Investigative Technique the FBI deployed in the Playpen cases — only one able to be buried inside media files which could be scattered around like mini-honeypots.

      The DRM-based attack certainly wouldn’t be limited to law enforcement agencies. It would also be deployed by spy agencies for use against terrorists (who love to share media files) and, unfortunately, by governments every bit as malicious as the software they’re deploying. The exploit could just as easily be deployed to target dissidents, journalists, and other “enemies of the state” through booby-trapped, DRM-laden files that strip away anonymity while delivering information these entities might find intriguing/useful.

      Underneath it all is Microsoft’s apparently misplaced faith in properly-signed media files put together with its development kits. Rather than warn users that the redirect to the codec installer may still be risky despite the proper signature, Windows will automatically open a new browser instance and download the file with no further user interaction.

    • AI, NSA and Facebook

      Fighting ISIS with Facebook. “Sometime today, a teenager in Tunis will check his smartphone for the latest violent video from the Islamic State. But the images that pop up first will be of a different genre: young Muslims questioning the morality of terrorists who slaughter innocents and enslave girls for sex. ‘Don’t you kill our own Muslim brothers?’ a mop-haired youth asks a terrorist recruiter in one animated video showing up on Arabic Facebook accounts in North Africa. ‘So much of this, it doesn’t seem right.’”

    • Will Your Old Emails Finally Get Fourth Amendment Protections?

      Once again, legislation that would give American citizens better privacy protections for their emails has passed the House of Representatives, but we’re going to have to see what happens in the Senate.

      The Email Privacy Act aims to correct a flaw in federal Electronic Communications Privacy Act of 1986. Passed in the relatively early days of home computer use, it established a policy that private electronic communications held by third parties that were more than 180 days old could be accessed by law enforcement and government investigators without the need for a warrant. A subpoena delivered to the communication provider was enough. A law this old obviously preceded the arrival and dominance of private email communications, and tech privacy activists and tech companies have been pushing for reform. The way the system stands now can result in people having their old private communications searched and read by authorities without the citizen’s knowledge.

    • D.C. police demand Facebook hand over data on Trump protesters

      Police in Washington, D.C. want Facebook to hand over data on protesters.

      The D.C. police department subpoenaed Facebook for information regarding several protesters arrested while demonstrating against the inauguration of President Donald Trump on Jan. 20.

      A document obtained on Monday by CityLab shows the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia issued a subpoena to Facebook on Jan. 27, which was signed by an officer at the police department. The document appears to show D.C. police are looking for the social data of several protesters.

    • The Internet of Things: 10 types of enterprise deployments

      Once you connect any device to a network, it has the potential to become a valuable tool for data collection and becomes a candidate for easier management. Some of the 451 Research respondents noted that they were utilizing IoT in their security systems.

      “Predominantly, they have cameras and electronic systems like doors and sensors that they are then bringing back into a monitoring scheme,” Renaud said. “Video analytics with the cameras, [and] occasionally we’ll hear facial recognition and more esoteric things like that.”

    • Trump’s FBI doubles down on hostility to transparency, switches to fax and snailmail for FOIA requests

      The FBI has always been hostile to Freedom of Information Act requests: it habitually violates the law by allowing these requests to go more than 30 days without a response, and maintains a lab full of 1980s-vintage computers that it uses to (badly) fulfill public records request, so that it can reject requests on the basis that it lacks the technology to respond to them. But it’s about to get a whole lot worse.

      The FBI has announced that, as of March, it will no longer accept FOIA requests by email. If you want to get FOIA documents, you’ll have to mail or fax them Bureau, or, if you want, you can use their web portal, which will only accept a single request per person, per day, and which makes you sign off on a long set of terms of service through which you surrender your statutory rights.

    • FBI axes FOIA requests by email, so dust off your fax machine

      As tech-savvy government efforts like 18F and the USDS take technological strides forward, other parts of the government are abandoning modern technology altogether.

      Starting next month, the FBI will no longer accept Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests by email. In lieu of its popular email service, the FBI suggests sending a fax or snail mail, a procedural change that has more to do with obstructing the law than a dearth of resources.

    • The FBI Can Engage In All Sorts Of Surveillance And Snooping Without Actually Placing Someone Under Investigation

      It’s unclear how many Americans are under surveillance by the FBI. Not only would the agency be extremely unwilling to even provide a broad estimate, but the underlying basis for a preliminary investigation is so thin it could conceivably cover a majority of US residents.

      A previously-classified document [pdf] obtained by The Intercept gives more insight into the FBI’s use of “assessments” — an investigation the agency doesn’t consider an investigation.

    • NHS urged to share data so patients can be deported

      If an NHS doctor divulged personal information about a patient, they could be struck off. But the government pays the NHS to do just this. A patient’s name, date of birth and address are among the data which are passed on to the Home Office. If you are in the UK illegally, they can find you and force you onto a secret chartered plane before your lawyer has even had breakfast.

      Buried in the recent constitutional uproar over the triggering of Article 50 and President Donald Trump’s flurry of objectionable executive orders, was the news that the NHS has been passing on data to the Home Office so it can track down people who are living in the country illegally and deport them.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • FBI posed as journalists to get evidence on Bundys. Now it could hurt their case

      FBI agents posed as journalists and tricked the Bundy ranching family and their supporters into giving on-camera interviews that prosecutors may use in upcoming trials, according to defense attorneys and court records.

      The FBI’s “fake film production company” and “wide-reaching deceptive undercover operation”, as lawyers described it in a court filing, is one of multiple controversies that some say could derail the government’s prosecution of Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy, his four sons and a dozen of their followers. A recent Bureau of Land Management (BLM) ethics scandal involving tickets for the popular Burning Man festival could further hinder prosecutors in the high-profile trial, which began this week in Las Vegas federal court.

    • Putin approves change to law decriminalising domestic violence

      Vladimir Putin has signed into law a controversial amendment that decriminalises domestic violence.

      The amendment, which sailed through both houses of Russian parliament before Tuesday’s presidential signing, has elicited anger from critics who say that it sends the wrong message in a country where one woman dies every 40 minutes from domestic abuse.

      From now on, beatings of spouses or children that result in bruising or bleeding but not broken bones are punishable by 15 days in prison or a fine, if they do not happen more than once a year. Previously, they carried a maximum jail sentence of two years.

    • David Talbot and Arif Humayun

      Recently, University of California Berkeley officials cancelled a planned speech by right-wing writer Milo Yiannopoulos following vigorous protests, prompting President Trump to suggest withdrawing federal funds from the campus. In light of Trump’s connections to the ultra-right, what will be the nature of political protest in the Trump years? Author and columnist David Talbot examines this issue. Then Arif Humayun summarizes the principles of Islam, and explains why the advocacy of terror has no basis in authentic Islamic doctrine.

    • Court Leaders Nationwide Send Message to Debtors’ Prisons: Courts Are Not ATMs.

      Being poor shouldn’t be a crime. New guidelines direct judges to make sure it isn’t.

      Last week, state court leaders from across the nation took critically important action against debtors’ prisons to ensure that people are not locked up simply because they are poor.

      Following reports of the devastating effects of debtors’ prisons across the country — including in Ferguson, Georgia, Washington, Michigan, Mississippi, and Colorado — the top national organizations of state court leaders formed the National Task Force on Fines, Fees, and Bail Practices in 2016. This task force has now issued a bench card on the Lawful Collection of Legal Financial Obligations — a step-by-step guide for state and local judges to use to protect the rights of poor people who cannot afford to pay court fines and fees.

      The principle of fairness enshrined in the Constitution and the way courts treat the poor are too often separate things in America. The Supreme Court ruled more than 30 years ago that people should never be locked up behind bars solely because they are unable to pay court fines and fees they cannot afford. But we have seen time and again that despite this ruling debtors’ prisons are a reality, with devastating impact on low-income people and their communities.

    • Violating Terms of Use Isn’t a Crime, EFF Tells Court—Again

      Have you ever violated a website’s terms of use, such as by using something other than your real name on a website that requires one, or by sharing your account password with a family member when doing so is prohibited? Probably. Have you ever clicked “I agree” without actually reading the terms in full? Again, highly likely. Violating corporate terms of use agreements should not be a crime—not only because people rarely read these agreements, but because the bounds of criminal law should not be defined by the preferences of website operators. And criminalizing terms of use violations would turn millions of people—practically all Internet users—into criminals on the basis of innocuous conduct.

      We’ve convinced the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals that the federal Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA) shouldn’t be read to criminalize corporate computer use restrictions, such as terms of use agreements. But last year, a federal district court in Nevada found a defendant guilty under both the California and Nevada state computer crime statutes for nothing more than that—violating Oracle’s website’s terms of use.

      The case, Oracle v. Rimini Street, is on appeal to the Ninth Circuit, and we just filed an amicus brief explaining to the court why an overbroad interpretation of the state computer crime statutes would have the exact same disastrous outcome as an overbroad interpretation of the CFAA. The Ninth Circuit should listen to its own reasoning and avoid an interpretation of these statutes that turns innocent Internet users into criminals.

    • Flying Home From Abroad, a Border Agent Stopped and Questioned Me … About My Work for the ACLU

      Last week, I was flying home from a work trip and faced Customs and Border Protection questioning unlike anything I’ve ever experienced in over 25 years of travel into and out of this country, including more than 10 years of travel for my work as an attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union and other rights groups.

      Compared to the hardship and suffering of the tens of thousands of people impacted by President Trump’s Muslim ban executive order, it was nothing. But it said something personal to me about the tenor of these dark times.

    • Islamist groups: Remove High Court sculpture

      Islamic political parties and Hefazat-e-Islam Bangladesh are planning to launch a movement demanding the removal of a sculpture of Lady Justice from the High Court premises.

      Speaking to the Dhaka Tribune, leaders of several Islamic political parties and Hefazat-e-Islam called the sculpture a “Greek idol” and demanded its immediate removal, claiming it was in violation of Islamic principles.

      They threatened to launch a movement against the government if their demand is not met.

      Secretary General of Islami Oikkaya Jote (IOJ) and the convener of Dhaka city unit of Hefazat Mufi Fayzullah said: “We will go for a strong movement against the government to compel them to remove the Greek idol. We do not know why the government installed that idol there.”

      Three top Islamist leaders were working to unite various Islamist parties and organisations to make the movement a success, the Dhaka Tribune found.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • New FCC Boss Ajit Pai Insists He’s All About Helping The Poor, Gets Right To Work Harming Them Instead

      Not to be outdone, Pai also actually made it harder for poor people to get discounted broadband by unnecessarily disqualifiying nine, already approved small ISPs (Spot On, Boomerang Wireless, KonaTel, FreedomPop, AR Designs, Kajeet, Liberty, Northland Cable, and Wabash Independent Networks) from participating in the FCC’s Lifeline program. That program, founded by Reagan and expanded by Bush, doles out $9.25 per low-income household for them to use on phone or broadband service. Last year the FCC expanded it marginally so low-income homes could use that money to pay for stand-alone broadband, cellular, or fixed-line phone service (Pai, digital divide closer extraordinaire, voted down that effort).


      So yes, when your definition of “helping the poor” includes ensuring cable boxes stay expensive and closed, allowing duopolies to abuse net neutrality and drive up service costs, protecting prison monopoly telcos that have price-gouged families for years, and preventing smaller ISPs from actually helping the poor you profess to love — you have to wonder what it looks like when Pai actively wants to harm something.

    • Trump’s F.C.C. Pick Quickly Targets Net Neutrality Rules

      In his first days as President Trump’s pick to lead the Federal Communications Commission, Ajit Pai has aggressively moved to roll back consumer protection regulations created during the Obama presidency.

      Mr. Pai took a first swipe at net neutrality rules designed to ensure equal access to content on the internet. He stopped nine companies from providing discounted high-speed internet service to low-income individuals. He withdrew an effort to keep prison phone rates down, and he scrapped a proposal to break open the cable box market.

      In total, as the chairman of the F.C.C., Mr. Pai released about a dozen actions in the last week, many buried in the agency’s website and not publicly announced, stunning consumer advocacy groups and telecom analysts. They said Mr. Pai’s message was clear: The F.C.C., an independent agency, will mirror the Trump administration’s rapid unwinding of government regulations that businesses fought against during the Obama administration.

    • Trump’s F.C.C. Pick Quickly Targets Net Neutrality Rules

      Mr. Pai took a first swipe at net neutrality rules designed to ensure equal access to content on the internet. He stopped nine companies from providing discounted high-speed internet service to low-income individuals. He withdrew an effort to keep prison phone rates down, and he scrapped a proposal to break open the cable box market.

      In total, as the chairman of the F.C.C., Mr. Pai released about a dozen actions in the last week, many buried in the agency’s website and not publicly announced, stunning consumer advocacy groups and telecom analysts. They said Mr. Pai’s message was clear: The F.C.C., an independent agency, will mirror the Trump administration’s rapid unwinding of government regulations that businesses fought against during the Obama administration.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Copyrights

      • Accused File-Sharer Beats ‘Copyright Trolls’ in Finnish Court

        The wave of so-called ‘copyright-trolling’ piracy lawsuits in Finland has resulted in the first win for an accused file-sharer, totaling €28,000 in legal fees. A local court ruled that the copyright holders lacked sufficient evidence to show that the person in question downloaded the files, in part because the Wi-Fi network was open to the public.


Links 7/2/2017: RethinkDB at the Linux Foundation, Kodi 17.0 Release

Posted in News Roundup at 4:05 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish



Free Software/Open Source

  • Open source object storage startup OpenIO adds hardware

    Up to 96 nano nodes fit in OpenIO’s SLS-4U96 chassis. Each ARM CPU manages a single high-capacity disk and a small amount of flash storage for fast metadata access.

  • Gluster Founder Has Big Plans for Container Storage

    The founder of Gluster is ready to push storage further, as his new startup, Minio, is announcing general availability of its container-based object storage yesterday.

    The catch is that it’s not really about storage — not in the long term. Minio founder Anand Babu (AB) Periasamy — who wrote the open source GlusterFS file system and also founded the startup Gluster, now owned by Red Hat — says his Palo Alto, California-based company is about data — specifically, using the data to help pay for the storage.

  • An inside look at why Apache Kafka adoption is exploding

    Apache Kafka, the open source distributed streaming platform, is making an increasingly vocal claim for stream data “world domination” (to coin Linus Torvald’s whimsical initial modest goals with Linux). Last summer I wrote about Kafka and the company behind its enterprise rise, Confluent. Kafka adoption was accelerating as the central platform for managing streaming data in organizations, with production deployments of Kafka claiming six of the top 10 travel companies, seven of the top 10 global banks, eight of the top 10 insurance companies, and nine of the top 10 US telecom companies.

  • A graduate degree could springboard you into an open source job

    Tech companies often prefer hiring those who have open source experience because quite simply open source experience is more valuable. This preference is only growing stronger now that open source software dominates the industry and free and open source hardware is gaining momentum. For example, a Indeed.com salary analysis shows that jobs with the keywords “Microsoft Windows” have an average salary of $64,000, while jobs with the keyword “Linux” have an average salary of $99,000. Enough said.

    There are many good open source jobs available to those with Bachelor’s degrees, but if you want to control your destiny, a higher degree will give you the freedom to be paid more for following your interests.

    This was very important to me when deciding what education I would choose, and I think it is true of most other PhDs. However, even if you do not put much stock in intellectual freedom, there is a pretty easy case to be made for “doing it for the Benjamins.”

  • Google is Set to Open Source Google Earth Enterprise

    With 2017 ramping up, Google is on an absolute tear as it open sources impactful new projects. Just recently, it open sourced a series of 3D graphics and virtual reality toolsets. And, we covered the arrival of Google’s Tilt Brush apps and virtual reality toolsets as open source contributions.

    Now, in a post on the Geo Developers blog, Google has announced that it plans to open source Google Earth Enterprise (GEE), the enterprise product that lets developers build and host their own maps and 3D globes.

  • Events

    • DevConf.cz 2017

      Another edition of DevConf.cz took place last week. It was already the second edition I didn’t organize. This year, I was involved in the organization even less, just helping with the program and serving as a session chair for one day. So I could enjoy the conference more than ever before.

    • PyLadies Pune Meetup – February 2016

      The PyLadies Pune February Meetup was held on 6th Feb at reserved-bit. Kushal took a session on MicroPython on the MicroBit boards. Thanks to @ntoll for sending over the MicroBits for workshops.

    • PyCon India 2016

      Heya! First of all I’m really sorry for such a delay with PyCon India 2016 blog post.

    • Using Mesos to Drive Devops Adoption at Scale at GSShop
    • From Yawn-Driven Deployment to DevOps Tipping Point

      GS Shop is one of the largest TV shopping networks in Asia, and one of the largest e-commerce sites in Korea with more than 1000 employees and 1.5 million users daily. Vivek Juneja of GS Shop’s Container Platform Team, at MesosCon Asia 2016, shares how he and his team moved this behemoth to the new agile way of running the datacenter.

      We know that change is not easy, and Juneja shares many valuable insights in how to successfully manage completely revamping your IT department. Progress is hard even when the old way is difficult. Juneja describes their old practice of “yawn-driven deployment”: “We practice something called Yawn-Driven Deployment, deploying at 3:00 a.m. That’s what we were doing for a long time. Everybody gets together at 3:00 a.m. It’s a party. We deploy, and we have a lot of yawns, and that code goes to production.” Nobody really like working this way, but it’s what they are used to.

    • Redox OS, MINIX, Hurd & Genode Had Their Time At FOSDEM Too

      While Linux is the most prominent operating system each year at the Free Open-Source Developers’ European Meeting (FOSDEM), it’s not a conference limited to just Linux. Once again there was a developer room dedicated to other operating systems like the Rust-written Redox OS.

    • FOSDEM 2017 is finished…

      One big job that needs to happen after the conference is to review and release the video recordings that were made. With several hundreds of videos to be checked and only a handful of people with the ability to do so, review was a massive job that for the past three editions took several months; e.g., in 2016 the last video work was done in July, when the preparation of the 2017 edition had already started.

    • [diaspora] The state of diaspora* and the decentralized social world

      The decentralized social world is on. It’s been four years since the project was transferred to its community. Discover with us what we accomplished and where we’d like to go.

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • Mozilla Files Brief Against U.S. Immigration Executive Order

        Mozilla filed a legal brief against the Executive Order on immigration, along with nearly 100 other major companies across different industries.

        We joined this brief in support of the State of Washington v. Trump case because the freedom for ideas and innovation to flow across borders is something we strongly believe in as a tech company. More importantly it is something we know is necessary to fulfill our mission to protect and advance the internet as a global public resource that is open and accessible to all.

  • Databases

    • Stratoscale Snaps Up Tesora, Focused on Database-as-a-Service

      For quite some time now, as the OpenStack cloud computing arena has grown, a whole ecosystem of tools is growing along with it. Tesora, familiar to many as the leading contributor to the OpenStack Trove open source project, has focused very heavily on Database-as-a-Service tools for OpenStack deployments. The company has also developed a promising partnership with OpenStack heavy-hitter Mirantis.

      Now, Stratoscale, a startup focused on AWS-compatible environments within enterprise data centers, has acquired Tesora. The terms of the deal aren’t announced, but it could take Tesora in new directions.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

  • BSD

    • My BSD sucks less than yours

      Instead of speaking about successful parts of the projects, this talk will focus on the weakness of both OpenBSD and FreeBSD, exploring conceptual differences between them and also exploring directions where motivated contributors can start working on to improve the projects. While being general purpose operating systems we will see that one size doesn’t fit all and how one or the other may be a better solution to a particular problem. Trolls are to be left at the door.


    • RISC-V Port Lands In GCC 7 Codebase

      Last month the RISC-V GCC port was approved for landing in GCC 7 while today that merge finally happened.

      The RISC-V GCC port has been a work in progress for a long time and was held up by university lawyers while that was all cleared up, the code went through a few rounds of code revisions, and the steering committee approved landing RISC-V support even as the codebase has moved onto only bug/regression fixes. Today all of that code finally was merged into the GCC7 code-base.

    • GNU’s ddrescue For Disk Recovery Updated With New Options

      GNU ddrescue continues work on being a capable data recovery tool for copying data from a file or block device to another, doing more than just the dd command. GNU ddrescue 1.22 was released over the weekend as the newest version of this tool.

    • ZeroStack’s plans for self-driving in the cloud, Loom Systems’ analytics platform, and GNU C Library releases version 2.25—SD Times news digest: Feb. 6, 2017

      GNU C Library v2.25 available

      The GNU C Library, which is the library in the GNU system and in the GNU/Linux systems, released version 2.25 yesterday.

      The library is primarily designed to be a portable and high-performance C library. The news that comes along with this release includes the “feature test macro __STDC_WANT_LIB_EXT2__, from ISO/IEC TR 24731-2:2010, is supported to enable declarations of functions from that TR. Note that not all functions from that TR are supported by the GNU C Library,” according to its release notes.

    • GNU C Library 2.25 released
    • Wilber week 2017: our report

      I’ll talk more on this later in a dedicated post, detailing what is there or not, and why, with feedback on the Flatpak project.
      Bottom line: GIMP will have an official Flatpak, at least starting GIMP 2.10!


  • Hardware

    • About Cheap Junk…

      Intel won’t even tell its shareholders how much the damage is. Lots of ordinary customers are probably past their guaranteed lifetime and SOL. Meanwhile, I pay lower prices for stuff that isn’t from Intel and I’m OK.

    • Intel’s Atom C2000 chips are bricking products – and it’s not just Cisco hit

      Intel’s Atom C2000 processor family has a fault that effectively bricks devices, costing the company a significant amount of money to correct. But the semiconductor giant won’t disclosed precisely how many chips are affected nor which products are at risk.

      On its Q4 2016 earnings call earlier this month, chief financial officer Robert Swan said a product issue limited profitability during the quarter, forcing the biz to set aside a pot of cash to deal with the problem.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • EU nurses ‘need clarity’ after registrations fall by 90%

      The NHS could not cope without EU nurses and the government must offer clarity over their working rights, the Royal College of Nursing says.

      The number of European nursing staff registering in the UK has fallen by 90% since the Brexit referendum, figures from the Nursing and Midwifery Council show.

    • Green Party: Health tourism is not the real threat to our NHS, underinvestment is

      “It was also revealed today that nine in 10 hospitals have reached unsafe levels of overcrowding so far this winter [2] and one in six A&Es may be closed or downgraded over the next few years [3]. It’s clear our NHS is in a dire state but the Government seems more interesting in pushing the blame for this crisis onto foreign patients.

      “Health tourism is not the real threat to our NHS, underinvestment is. The biggest impact that foreign born people have on our NHS is as doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals. It’s time the Government owns up to its own failure rather than attempting to shift the blame elsewhere.”

    • Pharma Joins Atomic Energy Agency On Cancer Treatment Training In Poor Countries

      Seeking to address the growing issue of cancer, and in particular the lack of access to diagnosis and treatment in low and middle-income countries, the International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers & Associations (IFPMA) and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) have entered into a collaboration.

      IFPMA said in a press release that it will support the IAEA Programme of Action for Cancer Therapy (PACT).

      This is the first collaboration of its kind and “will open new avenues for joint public-private efforts to curb cancer,” according to the release

    • Online mapping tool gives FGM runaways a path to help

      An online crowdmapping tool being used to chart unmarked villages in remote parts of Tanzania is helping young runaways escaping female genital mutilation (FGM) find their way to safety.

      Last month global mappers, working with people on the ground in Tanzania, caused the disruption of a planned FGM ceremony on a teenage girl by using open-source maps and smartphones to find her. The 16 year old was freed from the home in which she had been locked ahead of the ceremony, which though illegal under Tanzanian law is still practised in some regions. An estimated 15% of women and girls aged between 15 and 49 in the country have undergone the procedure.

    • Anti-FGM campaign launched in UK to mark global day of opposition

      A national campaign carrying the symbol of a red triangle will be rolled out across the UK to mark the International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation.

      The National Police Chiefs’ Council has partnered with the Freedom charity to encourage people to provide the police with information that can help detect and prevent FGM in the UK and abroad.

    • Bristol anti-FGM video is an online hit

      A youth-led charity has had online success with a music video that rejects claims that there are “minor” forms of female genital mutilation (FGM). Integrate UK created #MyClitoris to educate on the impact of Types I and IV FGM. The video has praised by Lily Allen and Caitlin Moran.

      The video, which has over 15,000 views was initially inspired by an article in The Economist, which suggested there were “minor” forms of FGM – the partial or full removal of the female genitalia for non-medical reasons.

  • Security

    • Security advisories for Monday
    • There are no militant moderates in security
    • Exploit for Windows DoS zero-day published, patch out on Tuesday?
    • Ransomware Attack Left DC Police Surveillance Blind Shortly Before The Innauguration

      Once exclusively the domain of hospitals with comically-bad IT support, crippling ransomware attacks are increasingly beginning to impact essential infrastructure. Just ask the San Francisco MTA, whose systems were shut down entirely for a spell last fall after a hacker (with a long history of similar attacks) managed to infiltrate their network, forcing the MTA to dole out free rides until the threat was resolved. Or you could ask the St. Louis public library network, which saw 16 city branches crippled last month by a bitcoin-demanding intruder.

      We’ve also seen a spike in ransomware attacks on our ever-expanding surveillance and security apparatus, DC Police acknowledging this week that 70% of the city’s surveillance camera DVRs were infected with malware. The infection was so thorough, DC Police were forced to acknowledge that city police cameras were unable to record much of anything during a three day stretch last month…

    • Hackers hit D.C. police closed-circuit camera network, city officials disclose

      Hackers infected 70 percent of storage devices that record data from D.C. police surveillance cameras eight days before President Trump’s inauguration, forcing major citywide reinstallation efforts, according to the police and the city’s technology office.

    • Network protection laws ‘may have opposite effect’

      Laws that have been proposed by the Australian Government to guard communications networks and businesses from cyber attack and sabotage may have the opposite effect from that intended, a coalition of industry groups has warned.

      The warning came jointly from the Australian Industry Group, the Australian Information Industry Association, the Australian Mobile Telecommunications Association and Communications Alliance in a submission to the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security.

    • Russians Engineer a Brilliant Slot Machine Cheat—And Casinos Have No Fix

      In early June 2014, accountants at the Lumiere Place Casino in St. Louis noticed that several of their slot machines had—just for a couple of days—gone haywire. The government-approved software that powers such machines gives the house a fixed mathematical edge, so that casinos can be certain of how much they’ll earn over the long haul—say, 7.129 cents for every dollar played. But on June 2 and 3, a number of Lumiere’s machines had spit out far more money than they’d consumed, despite not awarding any major jackpots, an aberration known in industry parlance as a negative hold. Since code isn’t prone to sudden fits of madness, the only plausible explanation was that someone was cheating.

      Casino security pulled up the surveillance tapes and eventually spotted the culprit, a black-haired man in his thirties who wore a Polo zip-up and carried a square brown purse. Unlike most slots cheats, he didn’t appear to tinker with any of the machines he targeted, all of which were older models manufactured by Aristocrat Leisure of Australia. Instead he’d simply play, pushing the buttons on a game like Star Drifter or Pelican Pete while furtively holding his iPhone close to the screen.

    • SSL or IPsec: Which is best for IoT network security?

      Internet of Things (IoT) devices are soon expected to outnumber end-user devices by as much as four to one. These applications can be found everywhere—from manufacturing floors and building management to video surveillance and lighting systems.

    • The barriers to using IoT in healthcare: What’s stopping the Internet of Things from transforming the industry?

      Big things are expected of the Internet of Things (IoT) in a plethora of industries, and healthcare is no exception. The market is poised to reach $117 billion by 2020 according to business intelligence company MarketResearch.com.

      IoT covers a broad spectrum of interconnected devices communicating across the net that together can have benefits for the treatment of patients, the workloads of practitioners, and the wealth of the nation.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • Mail on Sunday launches the first salvo in the latest war against climate scientists

      In this new political era, climate scientists and their science are under attack. The attack is from multiple fronts, from threats to pull funding of the important instruments they use to measure climate change, to slashing their salaries and jobs. But there is a real fear of renewed personal attacks, and it appears those fears are now being realized. What the attackers do is identify and isolate scientists – a process termed the “Serengeti Strategy” by well-known and respected scientist Michael Mann who suffered these types of attacks for years.

    • Green party councillor arrested at Sheffield tree protest

      A Green party councillor was among seven people arrested after a standoff with police during the latest protest against tree-felling in Sheffield.

      Alison Teal and six others were detained on suspicion of preventing workmen from chopping down a tree in Chippinghouse Road, Nether Edge, at about 9.30am on Monday.

      Teal’s partner, Simon Crump, accused the police of “ramping up the situation” and “turning a peaceful demonstration into a mass arrest”.

      South Yorkshire police said four women and three men had been arrested on suspicion of preventing lawful work under section 241 of the Trade Union and Labour Relations Act 1992.

      The protest was the latest in an increasingly bitter dispute over the city council’s plans to remove hundreds of roadside trees deemed to be dangerous. A total of 12 people have now been detained by police over tree-felling protests in Sheffield since November.

    • Standing Rock Sioux Speak Out Following Violent Removal Of Water Protectors

      The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe is set to press on in its legal battle against the Dakota Access pipeline Monday after leaders issued statements over the weekend condemning recent violence against demonstrators and clarifying that they don’t want to see activists forcibly removed from the protest site.

      They also have called on allies to join the tribe in demanding a fair legal review of the multi-billion dollar project that U.S. President Donald Trump plans to usher through to completion.

      On Wednesday, law enforcement officers arrested 76 protesters who were camped on land owned by the Dakota Access pipeline’s developer, Energy Transfer Partners. While the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe said leaders were working with federal authorities to stabilize the situation at the protest site, they indicated that they did not want protestors to be arrested or ousted from the spot by force.

    • Trump and Climate Catastrophe
    • Toxic Wildfires Causing Pollution, Climate Disruption, Etc. Funded by Big Banks & US Investors in Palm Oil

      Unfortunately, as the article points out, the truth is that HSBC is one of the lenders responsible for funding that led to a massive deforestation of Indonesia’s tropical rain forests without the “free, prior and informed consent” of local communities.” Their claims they did not act “knowingly” ring hollow.

    • Some notes on the worst-case scenario

      Confession time: I’m an optimist, especially about the ideas of social progress that emerged in Europe at the end of the middle ages and became mainstream in western politics in the early 20th century. I called the outcome of the Brexit referendum wrong (by underestimating the number of racist bigots and Little Englanders in the UK population: Brexit is a proxy for English nationalism, which is absolutely not the same as British nationalism), and I called the US presidential election wrong (underestimating the extent of gerrymandering and micro-targeted black propaganda driven by data mining in the campaign).

      Since January 20th we’ve seen a degree and type of activity emanating from the new US administration that is markedly different from anything in my politically aware lifetime (loosely: since Reagan). Blanket bans on entry to the USA by anyone associated with certain nationalities, mass firings at the State Department, a president railing against a “so-called judge”, the head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff being booted off the National Security Council and replaced by a white nationalist ideologue, and a former CEO of Exxon in the Cabinet: what’s going on?

    • Thousands Turn Out in Downtown L.A. to Protest Trump’s Orders on Keystone, Dakota Pipelines

      Thousands of people converged on downtown Los Angeles on Sunday to protest the proposed $3.8-billion Dakota Access pipeline, which activists across the country say threatens the water supply and sacred sites of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe in North Dakota.

    • Standing Rock Sioux want ‘no forcible removal’ of protesters from Dakota Access pipeline site

      Standing Rock Sioux Tribe officials said this weekend that although they were working with federal authorities to stabilize the situation at the Dakota Access Pipeline protest site, they were not calling on law enforcement to forcibly remove activists there.

      After months of protests, both tribal officials and residents in the town of Cannon Ball, N.D., have asked those opposed to completion of the controversial, 1,170-mile pipeline to leave. A few hundred activists remain, both on the Standing Rock Sioux’s reservation and on neighboring land.

  • Finance

    • The High Cost of a Home Is Turning American Millennials Into the New Serfs

      American greatness was long premised on the common assumption was that each generation would do better than previous one. That is being undermined for the emerging millennial generation.

      The problems facing millennials include an economy where job growth has been largely in service and part-time employment, producing lower incomes; the Census bureau estimates they earn, even with a full-time job, $2,000 less in real dollars than the same age group made in 1980. More millennials, notes a recent White House report, face far longer period of unemployment and suffer low rates of labor participation. More than 20 percent of people 18 to 34 live in poverty, up from 14 percent in 1980.

    • The End Of The Level Playing Field

      I am old enough to remember the gogo days of cable TV when entrepreneurs who wanted to launch a new cable channel would go, hat in hand and cap table in tow, to the big cable companies and beg to get distribution on their networks.

      When the Internet came along in the early 90s, we saw something completely different. Here was a level playing field where anyone could launch a business without permission from anyone.

      We had a great run over the last 25 years but I fear it’s coming to an end, brought on by the growing consolidation of market power in the big consumer facing tech companies like Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon, etc, by the constricted distribution mechanisms on mobile devices, and by new leadership at the FCC that is going to tear down the notion that mobile carriers can’t play the same game cable companies played.


      It is sad to see this era ending. It was a lot of fun and quite profitable too. I am hopeful that some new competitive vector, like the Internet, will come along and make all of this moot and we are spending a lot of our time looking for it. Because backing startups on a field tilted in the favor of the incumbents is not fun and not particularly profitable either.

    • Brexit: British workers ‘facing explosion of zero-hours contracts and fewer rights’

      British workers face “cut-rate, bottom-of-the-league protections” after Brexit, with more zero-hours contracts and fewer guarantees over holiday and equal pay, the TUC has warned, as it publishes a damning report highlighting the soaring number of insecure jobs in the UK.

      The number of workers without guaranteed hours or basic employment rights has risen by more than 660,000 in the past five years, the study found.

      Labour said an “explosion” of insecure jobs was likely unless fundamental workers’ rights were protected.

      And the dire situation many employees now face is predicted to intensify once the Government drags the UK out of the EU.

    • Watch Mister Rogers Defend Public Programming In This Vintage Video

      Decades ago, Fred Rogers, host of the classic show “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood,” gave a moving speech to the U.S. Senate defending public programming, and his words seem more important now than ever.

      After being elected in 1968, President Richard Nixon showed his support for cutting federal funding in half for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB). Rogers responded to the president’s proposal in 1969 with a passionate speech in front of the Senate’s Subcommittee on Communications.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Trump might regret this tweet when he goes to meet the Queen

      During what seemed to be a successful visit with UK Prime Minister Theresa May at the White House Friday, Trump announced he had accepted an invitation from Queen Elizabeth II for a state visit later this year with first lady Melania.

      But Trump’s tweeting past might make the royal visit trip slightly uncomfortable. More than four years ago, Trump tweeted out some thoughts on Kate Middleton sunbathing in the nude and his thoughts on her looks.


      The sunbathing incident Trump was tweeting about refers to photographers, who are now on trial, who allegedly took photos of a topless Middleton. The photos were then leaked to the press.

    • The House can start impeachment against Trump now

      Much of the public is eager for the impeachment of President Trump. A poll last week found that 40 percent of Americans already “support” impeaching him, and the same survey — by highly regarded Public Policy Polling — found that another 12 percent are “not sure.”

      From the outset of his presidency, Trump has been violating the U.S. Constitution in a way that we have not seen before and should not tolerate. It’s time for members of Congress to get the impeachment process underway.

      The Constitution states that to start impeachment proceedings, a document or “resolution calling for a committee investigation of charges against the officer in question” must be introduced in the House of Representatives. Such a move would have been appropriate from the moment that Trump became president.

      As documented in depth on the ImpeachDonaldTrumpNow.org website — where more than 600,000 people have already signed a petition for impeachment — the president continues to violate two “emoluments” clauses in the Constitution. One prohibits any gifts or benefits from foreign governments, and the other prohibits the same from the U.S. government or any U.S. state.

    • Skynet: Trump campaigned like a crappy AI, and now he’s governing like one, too

      Cathy “Weapons of Math Destruction” O’Neil nailed Trump’s tactics when she compared him to a busted machine-learning algorithm, throwing a ton of random ideas out, listening for his base to cheer the ones that excited their worst instincts, and then doubling down on them.

      Now, in office, Trump has doubled down on that tactic, but while his feedback mechanism during the campaign was the crowds of angry racists who came to his rallies, today, he mostly plays for a single racist, Steve Bannon, who serves as surrogate for all the xenophobes and frightened people whose adulation steered Trump during the campaign.

    • Donald Trump Is the Singularity

      There’s been some controversy over when Donald Trump decided to run for president. Some say it was at the 2011 White House Correspondents’ Association dinner, when he was roasted by both Seth Meyers and President Obama. I think it happened much earlier: August 29th, 1997, the date that Skynet became self-aware.

    • Trump Really IS Creating Jobs! – ACLU To Hire 200 Lawyers & Staff Thanks to Massive Donations

      Trump promised that he would create jobs once president, but he could have never guessed that the jobs he would create would be those in stark opposition of everything he stands for.

      Thanks to the massive influx of donations to the ACLU, the legal organization has announced that they will be hiring 200 additional staff members, most of them attorneys, to join their team and fight for Americans’ civil liberties.

    • Europe Must Defend Itself Against A Dangerous President

      There are times in life that really do count. Times when a person’s character is revealed, when the important is separated from the unimportant. Soon decisions are taken that will determine the further path a person takes. With some, this can be tragic, and the moment comes too soon in their youth at a time when they aren’t mature enough yet to foresee all the potential consequences. They make the decisions cheerfully and they lead to either luck or bad luck. But countries and governments are seldom as innocent when it comes to their decisions.

      That’s the kind of situation now approaching. The people who will soon have to decide are already grown up. They now have to start preparing, even if it will be painful.

      Germany must stand up in opposition to the 45th president of the United States and his government. That’s difficult enough already for two reasons: Because it is from the Americans that we obtained our liberal democracy in the first place; and because it is unclear how the brute and choleric man on the other side will react to diplomatic pressure. The fact that opposition to the American government can only succeed when mounted together with Asian and African partners — and no doubt with our partners in Europe, with the EU — doesn’t make the situation any easier.

    • Trump administration is radicalizing Democratic voters, creating a challenge for the party, Rep. Adam Schiff says
    • Alaska Sen. Sullivan takes a new shot at breaking up the 9th Circuit court

      Alaska Sen. Dan Sullivan is hoping this is the year to bring to fruition a decades-long desire of Western Republicans: splitting up the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit.

      They say it’s overloaded and overly liberal. But they’ll still face the difficulty of getting a plan past California Democrats, who have traditionally wanted nothing of it.

      Sullivan and Republican Sen. Steve Daines of Montana have introduced two bills. One establishes a commission to study the appeals court system and find a quick and effective way to divide up the 9th Circuit’s caseload. The other would split the court into two: the 9th Circuit and a newly created 12th Circuit. The 9th Circuit would include California, Guam, Hawaii and the Northern Mariana Islands. The new circuit would include Alaska, Arizona, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon and Washington.

    • Trump’s lies are not the problem. It’s the millions who swallow them who really matter

      Compulsive liars shouldn’t frighten you. They can harm no one, if no one listens to them. Compulsive believers, on the other hand: they should terrify you. Believers are the liars’ enablers. Their votes give the demagogue his power. Their trust turns the charlatan into the president. Their credulity ensures that the propaganda of half-calculating and half-mad fanatics has the power to change the world.

      How you see the believers determines how you fight them and seek to protect liberal society from its enemies. And I don’t just mean how you fight that object of liberal despair and conservative fantasies, the alternately despised and patronised white working class. Compulsive believers are not just rednecks. They include figures as elevated as the British prime minister and her cabinet. Before the EU referendum, a May administration would have responded to the hitherto unthinkable arrival of a US president who threatened Nato and indulged Putin by hugging Britain’s European allies close. But Brexit has thrown Britain’s European alliance into crisis. So English Conservative politicians must crush their doubts and believe with a desperate compulsion that the alleged “pragmatism” of Donald Trump will triumph over his undoubted extremism, a belief that to date has as much basis in fact as creationism.

    • Sanders on Trump: ‘This guy is a fraud’

      Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders accused President Donald Trump of falling short of commitments to middle-class voters, pointing to his Cabinet and senior advisers’ ties to Wall Street.
      “This guy is a fraud,” Sanders told CNN’s Jake Tapper on “State of the Union” Sunday.

      “This guy ran for president of the United States saying, ‘I, Donald Trump, I’m going to take on Wall Street — these guys are getting away with murder.’ Then suddenly, he appoints all these billionaires,” Sanders said.

      Trump selected Steve Mnuchin, a former Goldman Sachs trader and hedge fund manager, as his treasury secretary nominee; Wilbur Ross, a billionaire former banker, to lead the Commerce Department; and Gary Cohn, a top Goldman Sachs executive, to lead his National Economic Council.

    • A reminder: SchoolHouse Rock’s ‘Three Ring Government’
    • An Insanely Depressing Day In The Life Of Donald Trump

      While we’ve been selfishly worried about human rights and the economy, everyone forgot how truly terrible the Trump presidency must be on Trump himself. Luckily, I’ve managed to compile a definitive look into our brave new POTUS’s hour-by-hour struggle. Prepare for the seriously researched, definitive schedule of Donald Jamillah Trump that is in no way designed to antagonize him or his supporters …

    • Michael Moore trolls ‘so-called President Trump’ over his attack on judge

      There’s been a certain trend of late of attempting to insult hired professionals by placing “so-called” in front of their job title.

      A completely meaningless phrase, yet that hasn’t deterred Donald Trump from using it to attack the (definitely called, as it is his profession) federal judge who temporarily blocked Trump’s executive order banning entry into the United States from seven Muslim-majority countries.

      US District Judge James Robart, who was appointed by President George Bush in 2003, issued a temporary restraining order against the Trump administration’s restrictions, ruling that the ban would be immediately stopped nationwide.

    • Senate set for high-noon vote to confirm DeVos

      The Senate is poised to vote on Betsy DeVos’s confirmation as secretary of Education at noon Tuesday, with Vice President Pence possibly casting a tie-breaking vote backing President Trump’s controversial Cabinet pick.

      Republicans have only 50 votes behind DeVos with the defections of GOP Sens. Susan Collins (Maine) and Lisa Murkowski (Alaska), which could lead to a historic moment for Pence.

      He would be the first vice president to ever cast a decisive vote in a 50-50 tie over confirming a Cabinet nominee.

      Pence would also be the first vice president to break a Senate tie since 2008, when then-Vice President Dick Cheney cast a vote on a tax adjustment plan.

      No Democrats are backing DeVos, and no other Republicans are expected to break with her, despite a last-ditch effort by the minority party to put pressure on the GOP.

    • MPs back John Bercow’s call for Donald Trump to be blocked from addressing Parliament

      MPs from across the political divide have voiced their support for Speaker John Bercow after he spoke out against Donald Trump addressing Parliament.

      In an extraordinary piece of political rhetoric in the Commons, Mr Bercow said he would not be inviting the US President to speak to the House because of its opposition to “racism and sexism”.

      “Before the imposition of the migrant ban I would myself have been strongly opposed to an address by President Trump in Westminster Hall,” Mr Bercow said. “After the imposition of the migrant ban by President Trump I am even more strongly opposed to an address by President Trump in Westminster Hall.”

    • Your Guide to the Sprawling New Anti-Trump Resistance Movement

      The election of Donald Trump was a catastrophe for progressive America, but the damage may be mitigated over the long term by a remarkable surge of energy on the left in response to his election. As many as 5.2 million people participated in hastily organized Women’s Marches across the country, senators’ phones have reportedly been jammed with calls protesting Trump’s cabinet nominees and other early moves, and, according to a poll conducted by The Washington Post, more than one in three Democrats say they plan to become “more involved in the political process in the next year” as a result of the election. That’s true of 40 percent of Democratic women, and almost half of self-identified liberal Democrats.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Inauguration Protesters Targeted for Facebook Searches

      On Wednesday, one of the individuals who was arrested at protests over the inauguration of Donald Trump received an email from Facebook’s “Law Enforcement Response Team.” (CityLab obtained the email from the individual’s attorney on the condition of anonymity for both the client and their representative.)

    • US House approves new privacy protections for email and the cloud

      The U.S. House of Representatives approved on Monday the Email Privacy Act, which would require law enforcement agencies to get court-ordered warrants to search email and other data stored with third parties for longer than six months.

      The House approved the bill by voice vote, and it now goes the Senate for consideration.

      The Email Privacy Act would update a 31-year-old law called the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA). Some privacy advocates and tech companies have pushed Congress to update ECPA since 2011. Lax protections for stored data raise doubts about U.S. cloud services among consumers and enterprises, supporters of the bill say.

    • Your Browsing History Alone Can Give Away Your Identity

      Advertisers would give just about anything to be able to lurk over your shoulder as you browse the internet. They want to know what sites you visit, how you get to them, how long you spend on them, and where you go next—along with as much personal