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Links 7/1/2017: Linux 4.9.1, Wine 2.0 RC4

Posted in News Roundup at 3:14 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish



  • 2017 And The FUD Still Flows

    Well, here it is 2017 and folks are still trotting out the arguments against GNU/Linux they were using fifteen years ago.

  • Do People Really Use That? 15 Weird Linux Operating System Names

    When you see the word Windows capitalized, do you even think about the glass panes that let you see outside your house? How often does the “mac” in macOS make you think of burgers? Once a name gets popular enough, we all collectively disregard how peculiar it is.

    Linux isn’t that popular, so it doesn’t get this pass. For those of you unfamiliar with the open source operating system, you don’t install Linux itself — you install one of its many versions, which are known as distributions (“distros”). Many of these distros have odd names.

    I’ve put together a list of 15 distros with odd or comical names, in no particular order. Some of them are relatively popular in the Linux world. Others, even if they were mainstream, would still sound downright silly. Tell me if you agree.

  • These Linux myths need to die

    A Reddit user recently started a thread in which they asked which myths and misconceptions about Linux annoy users the most.

    The post spawned a lively discussion with points being raised for and against Linux.

    The prominent myths raised in the Reddit thread, along with several which have been doing the rounds for a while, are listed below.

  • Linux Marketshare Up To 3% According To One Popular Website

    According to one popular NSFW web-site, the 53rd most popular web-site in the world ranked by Alexa, their Linux traffic went up 14% in 2016.

  • Desktop

    • $89 Pinebook Linux Laptop Expected to Launch in February

      If you’ve heard the name Pine64 before, it’s most likely in relation to the Pine A64 single-board computer sold by the company as an alternative to the Raspberry Pi$40.99 at Amazon. However, Pine64 is branching out and will launch a couple of extremely cheap laptops next month.

      The so-called Pinebook laptop will ship in two forms, both offering the same internal components while one has an 11.6-inch screen and the other a larger 14-inch panel. Inside you’ll find a 64-bit quad-core ARM Cortex A53 processor running at 1.2GHz coupled with 2GB DDR3 RAM. Graphics will be handled by the embedded dual-core Mali 400 MP2 GPU, and storage, as with most cheap laptops, is limited to a 16GB eMMC flash drive. According to OMG!Ubuntu!, power is provided by a 10,000mAh LiPo battery and there will be two USB 2.0 ports, a MicroSD card slot, headphone jack, and mini HDMI out.

  • Kernel Space

    • Linux 4.9.1

      I’m announcing the release of the 4.9.1 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 4.8.16
    • Linux 4.4.40
    • Heterogeneous Memory Management v15 For The Linux Kernel

      Jerome Glisse of Red Hat has published his first set of Heterogeneous Memory Management (HMM) revisions for 2017.

      This long-in-development work for the Linux kernel to implement Heterogeneous Memory Management allows device memory to be used inside any process transparently and without modification. The HMM patches also allow mirring a process address space on a device. NVIDIA is one of the vendors working on support for their binary NVIDIA Linux driver and Nouveau open-source to make use of HMM with their latest GPUs.

    • VMware joins Open-O project targeting NFV, SDN orchestration

      The Linux Foundation-based open source group Open-O snares VMware as “premier” member joining the likes of China Mobile, Huawei.

      The Open-O Project recently welcomed new member VMware to the open source organization hosted by The Linux Foundation.

    • 10 years with util-linux project!

      Yes, we had util-linux before (and many thanks to Adrian Bunk and Andries E. Brouwer), but I believe that with git and close collaboration between Linux distributions and Linux kernel community it better now :-)

    • Graphics Stack

      • AMD Kaveri vs. Intel Skylake With The Latest Linux/Mesa Open-Source Drivers

        I’m in the process of testing a lot of my different CPUs/APUs in preparation for some Kaby Lake Linux benchmarks next week with the Core i5 7600K and Core i7 7700K. Along the way with the different CPU benchmarks I’ve also been running some fresh integrated Linux graphics tests on the newer and interesting hardware.

        The integrated graphics tests are still early on and will have much more data when the weekend is through. But so far with numbers from an AMD A10-7850K “Kaveri” APU compared to Skylake-based Core i5 6500 and Core i5 6600K, those numbers alone were interested so I figured I’d share those early numbers this morning.

      • How AMD Kaveri’s Graphics Performance Has Evolved Under Linux

        As mentioned earlier when posting some fresh AMD Kaveri vs. Intel Linux graphics benchmarks, I have some fresh AMD A10-7850K “Kaveri” APU numbers with running the latest Ubuntu 16.10 + Linux 4.10 + Mesa 13.1-dev stack on many of my benchmarking systems in the basement server room. With having an A10-7850K Kaveri system running with the latest Linux open-source driver code, I figured I’d compare it to some of my older Kaveri results.


        Following these initial results in this article are some more numbers going back further to then look at the Ubuntu 14.10 and fglrx 14.20/14.50 performance. All of these OpenGL benchmarks were done in a fully-automated manner using the open-source Phoronix Test Suite benchmarking software.

      • AMD Developer Posts X.Org Modesetting “MS_ALL_IN_ONE” Patches
      • PlayStation 4 Running Linux Can Now Use AMDGPU-PRO With Vulkan

        The work to run Linux on the PlayStation 4 continues to advance and previously we reported on those behind it managing to exploit the Radeon graphics found on the AMD APU powering the PS4. The latest milestone is they now have Vulkan running on the PS4.

      • Deus Ex: Mankind Divided On Linux With Latest RadeonSI – Up To 2~3x Faster

        With Marek’s latest set of RadeonSI Gallium3D patches, which are said to improve the Deus Ex: Mankind Divided performance by around 70%, having landed in Mesa Git, here are some fresh benchmarks with a Radeon RX 480 and R9 Fury.

        The “before” results were from the Christmas-timed 31-Way NVIDIA GeForce / AMD Radeon Linux OpenGL Comparison – End-Of-Year 2016 and then the “new” results are using Linux 4.10 and Mesa 13.1-dev Git as of today. The RX 480 and R9 Fury were used for benchmarking.

      • There Are A Few More Performance Changes With RadeonSI From Mesa Git

        With Marek’s optimizations having landed in Mesa Git that targeted Deus Ex: Mankind Divided, I ran benchmarks and found Deus Ex: MD is generally much faster and can be 2~3x faster, much more than the 70% originally thought by Marek. Now that more time has passed, I have carried out some more Linux gaming tests.

      • Polaris 12 Support Being Sent In To Linux 4.10 Kernel

        AMD is looking to land initial support for upcoming “Polaris 12″ graphics processors into the in-development Linux 4.10 kernel.

        AMD published initial Polaris 12 open-source Linux driver support back in December. This new revision of Polaris is expected to be for lower-end GPUs while waiting for Vega on the high-end. Details on Polaris 12 remain scarce. But in terms of the Linux driver support, it’s basically adding in the new PCI IDs and sharing the existing code-paths with Polaris 10/11.

      • RADV Vulkan Driver Gets Its First Fix From A Valve Developer

        It appears Valve Linux developers are doing a bit more tinkering with the RADV Radeon Vulkan driver.

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

      • Plasma 5.8.5 and Applications 16.12 by KDE now available in Chakra

        The latest updates for KDE’s Plasma and Applications series are now available to all Chakra users, together with other important package upgrades.

        Plasma 5.8.5 provides another round of bugfixes and translation to the 5.8 release, with changes found mostly in the plasma-desktop, plasma-workspace and kscreen packages.

        Applications 16.12.0 is the first release of a new series and comes with several changes. kdelibs has been updated to 4.14.27.

      • KaOS 2017.01 released as new year’s gift
    • GNOME Desktop/GTK

      • Weather updates with OpenWeather GNOME Shell extension

        If you have ever wanted weather updates on your Desktop, one of the easiest and neatest ways with the OpenWeather GNOME Shell extension. This nifty extension provides an always-visible display of the current weather status and temperature in the top bar of Fedora Workstation. If you open up the weather status monitor, it will also provide you with more details on the current weather, including a forcast for upcoming days, wind, humidity, atmospheric pressure, and sunrise & sunset times for the current location.

  • Distributions

    • The Best Linux Distros for 2017

      The new year is upon us, and it’s time to look toward what the next 365 days have in store. As we are wont to do, Linux.com looks at what might well be the best Linux distributions to be found from the ever-expanding crop of possibilities.

      Of course, we cannot just create a list of operating systems and say “these are the best,” not when so often Linux can be very task-oriented. To that end, I’m going to list which distros will rise to the top of their respective heaps…according to task.

      With that said, let’s get to the list!

    • PCLinuxOS/Mageia/Mandriva Family

    • Red Hat Family

    • Debian Family

      • Release update: Soft freeze for stretch
      • Debian Stretch Enters Its Soft Freeze, Full Freeze In One Month

        The soft freeze is now upon us for Debian 9.0 “Stretch” while the full freeze will happen in February.

        The soft-freeze means that no new source packages will enter Stretch. The full freeze will then happen on 5 February, after which point all changes will require approval to land.

      • RFH: screen that hurts my eyes

        Two years ago, I bought myself a new fancy motherboard (a Asus B85M-G C2) with a new fancy Intel-based processor with built-in graphics (an Intel Core i7-4770) and memory to go with it. I installed it in the place of my old AMD-based motherboard, keeping everything else (my hoard of hard drives and such) excepted the graphics card, which was not needed anymore. I immediately noticed my eyes were aching when using the computer. I was quite surprised since I had been using the screen very heavily for almost 10 years before that, without any problems. I attributed that to Intel Graphics, so I tried putting back the old graphics card, but it did not help. The situation was very frustrating, since working on the computer for an hour or so was making my eyes hurt for several days. This problem was specific to this computer, I could keep on using my computer at work and my laptop without problems.

      • Getting to know diffoscope better

        Let me just say that I was a Debian user for years when I discovered it is taking part in Outreachy as one of organisations. Their Reproducible Builds effort has a noble goal and a bunch of great people behind it – I had no chances not to get excited by it. Looking for a place where my skills could be of any use, I discovered diffoscope – the tool for in-depth comparassion of files, archives etc. My mentor, Mattia Rizzolo, supported my decision to work on it, so now I am concentrating my efforts on improving diffoscope.

      • Derivatives

        • Canonical/Ubuntu

          • Flavours and Variants

            • Mint 18.1 Xfce Nearing, Weird Names, Die Linux Myths

              Clement Lefebvre today announced a beta release of Mint 18.1 Xfce with updated software, refinements, and “many new features.” MakeUseOf chuckled at some of the crazy names folks pin on Linux distributions and Jan Vermeulen picked up on a Reddit conversation discussing Linux myths that “need to die.” Elsewhere in Linux news, Bruce Byfield compared and contrasted Debian and Ubuntu while Mark Shuttleworth discussed Snappy vs. Flatpak.

            • Linux Mint 18.1 “Serena” Xfce – BETA Release

              This is the BETA release for Linux Mint 18.1 “Serena” Xfce Edition.

  • Devices/Embedded

Free Software/Open Source

  • What is Open Source Software and How Can You Use it For Business?

    Small businesses are always looking for ways to save time and cut the operating costs of their business. One way to do this is by using open source software (OSS) to run their business.

  • AT&T now an open source believer

    Networked data traffic will only grow moving forward, said Linux Foundation Executive Director Jim Zemlin, and making ECOMP open-source will allow the network to adjust.

    For many of those giants looking to modernize, open source has been the answer, as it allows for flexibility and a vast trove of material to draw from.

    Other legacy companies like GM and GE have also been working hard to reinvent themselves for the digital age, recognizing that they must evolve or face potential extinction. GE CEO Jeff Immelt wants to make GE a leading software company by 2020, while General Motors CEO Mary Barra is working to shift that company to become more of a tech innovator and incubator.

  • The impact of Open Source on operators, systems integrators and vendors

    Open source refers to the ability to access and modify source code, develop derived works, and sell or distribute software. Open source does not imply free of charge. In the context of telecom networks, open source builds on Network Function Virtualisation (NFV). While open source refers traditionally to software, it can apply to hardware in which case a reference design is shared in an open community. The construct of open source leads to collaborative communities, and a product development philosophy that is based on a relatively fast iterative process. This contrasts with the relatively slow ‘waterfall’ process used in the development of telecom network equipment and services.

  • Hyperledger Blockchain Project Announces ‘Technical Working Group China’ Following Strong Interest

    The Hyperledger Project, a cross-industry collaborative effort to study, develop and implement open-source blockchain solutions and standards has set up a working group as an extended arm in China.

  • In the 2017 Tech Job Pool, Open Source Skills Rule

    Here it is: 2017. As the year gets going, the cloud computing and Big Data scenes are absolutely flooded with talk of shortages in people with deployment and management expertise. There just are not enough skilled workers to go around. The OpenStack Foundation, the Cloud Native Computing Foundation and other organizations are now taking some important steps to address the situation.

    Here are some of the best ways to start the new year by getting certified for the open source cloud and Big Data tools that are makng a difference.

    As part of its efforts to grow the OpenStack talent pool and global community, the OpenStack Foundation has announced professional certification programs that are meant to provide a baseline assessment of knowledge and be accessible to OpenStack professionals around the world. Some of the first steps in advancing the program are taking place now, and Red Hat is also advancing OpenStack certification plans..

  • Ford, Toyota to challenge Apple CarPlay, Android Auto

    Wednesday’s announcement establishes the SmartDeviceLink Consortium, a non-profit group that will manage the open source software in SmartDeviceLink. Ford’s AppLink, a part of Ford Sync, is the underlying software in SmartDeviceLink. Ford deeded AppLink to the open source community in 2013. The idea is individual automakers can then build their own center stack display interfaces that look and feel different, while still retaining the voice and instrument panel controls already created by SDL. Right now, Apple CarPlay looks about the same on a $25,000 Chevrolet Cruze (image above) and a $60,000 Audi, to the annoyance of all automakers.

  • Riot: An open team collaboration tool for everyone

    How many times have you wished you had a quick access to a collaboration tool in the palm of your hands? And how many times have you wished that same tool could not only reach out to a team of your choosing, but to a community of similar users?

    Such is the way of Riot. This particular open source take on collaboration (available on Android, iOS, Mac, Windows, and Linux) makes working with others on ideas and issues as easy as possible. Not only can you join the myriad available rooms, you can create your own rooms and make them either public or private. Riot even allows for room encryption, to ensure security.

  • CyanogenMod’s death and rebirth, new open source automotive group, and more news

    In this edition of our open source news roundup, we take a look at Cyanogen Inc. pulling the plug on CyanogenMod, Toyota and Ford forming the SmartDeviceLink Consortium, and more.

  • Haiku OS Gaining Ground On UEFI, FreeBSD Compatibility Layer, Remote Debugging

    For those interested in the BeOS-inspired Haiku open-source operating system, they have issued their latest monthly progress report to end out 2016.

  • Events

    • Crossing the AI chasm

      I recently presented those learnings at ApacheCon, and in this article I’ll share my top four lessons for overcoming both the technical and product chasms that stand in your path.

    • Call for Presentations at LinuxFest NorthWest, May 6-7, 2017

      Freedom, Friends, Features, First. The theme of this years LinuxFest NorthWest is ‘The Mechanics of Freedom’.

      Artificial Intelligence and the Internet of Things are becoming even more integrated in the lives of regular citizens. Along with these changes comes concern over the trade-offs between convenience and privacy. For example: Privacy in the age of relentless online tracking, How bots can help you onboard new community members, Training driverless vehicles, How the Internet of Things took down DNS.

  • Web Browsers

    • 2016 sees Internet Explorer usage collapse, Chrome surge

      At the start of 2016, Microsoft’s Internet Explorer was still the most commonly used browser on the Web; it finished 2015 being used by about 46 percent of Web users, with 32 percent preferring Chrome, and 12 percent using Firefox. But Explorer’s days have been numbered ever since Microsoft essentially ended its development. While the venerable browser is still supported and still gets security updates, its features and standard support have been frozen since 2015. Instead, Microsoft shifted active development to Edge, its new browser. While Edge is faster, more secure, and boasts much better support for Web standards, it’s only available for Windows 10, which greatly limits its audience.

  • CMS

    • Launching a Site or Blog? Open Source Creation Tools Give You Many Choices

      Late last year, Datamation came out with an extensive evaluation of which open source content management systems (CMS) really stand out, which is a topic near and dear to us here at OStatic. Our site runs on Drupal, which is an open source platform that powers many sites around the web, but there are key differences between CMS offerings, and if you’re looking for the right solution, we have some good resources for you.

      The Datamation story provides a nice overview of the open CMS space, but here are some of our newly updated, favorite ways to go about evaluating which is the right CMS for you.

      Marking a true renaissance for tools that can help anyone run a top-notch website or manage content in the cloud, open source content management systems (CMS) have come of age. You’re probably familiar with some of the big names in this arena, including Drupal (which Ostatic is based on) and Joomla. As we noted in this post, selecting a CMS to build around can be a complicated process, since the publishing tools provided are hardly the only issue.

  • Microsoft Cuts


    • GNU Officially Boots Libreboot

      FSF and GNU decide to grant Libreboot lead developer Leah Rowe’s wishes. The project is no longer a part of GNU says RMS.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

    • Open Hardware/Modding

      • SiFive rolls out fully open source chip for IoT devices

        SiFive has also released an Arduino based software development board called HiFive1, along with the FE310 chip. In addition to that, the company has also released the RTL (register-transfer level) code for FE310 under an open source license that will allow chip designers to customize their own SoC on top of the base FE310.

        I talked with Jack Kang, VP of Product and Business Development at SiFive, to understand the chip’s impact on IoT world.

      • CES 2017 – Renault create world’s first open-source mass market vehicle

        The new vehicle POM, based on Renault’s popular Twizy, will be available to start-ups, independent laboratories, private customers and researchers, allowing them to customise the software and driving experience.

  • Programming/Development

    • Top 50 Developer Tools of 2016

      It took a bit of time to comb through the data, but there are some killer insights in here. To piece this list together, we aggregated usage from 40K+ tech stacks, over a million unique visits, and thousands of developer comments, reviews, and votes across all of 2016 (more on methodology below). Through it, we found some of the top tech trends coming into 2017 and what should be on your bucket list. Let’s get started!

    • Keynote: State of the Union: node.js by Rod Vagg, NodeSource

      During his keynote at Node.js Interactive in November, Rod Vagg, Technical Steering Committee Director at the Node.js Foundation talked about the progress that the project made during 2016.

    • Node.js: The State of the Union

      By all metrics, it has been a good year for Node.js. During his keynote at Node.js Interactive in November, Rod Vagg, Technical Steering Committee Director at the Node.js Foundation talked about the progress that the project made during 2016.

    • RcppTOML 0.1.0

      Big news: RcppTOML now works on Windows too!


  • Science

    • Finnish brain drain picks up speed, entire research groups now moving abroad

      Cuts to universities and state-funded research centres are contributing to growing brain drain from Finland and increasing unemployment among the highly educated, says Petri Koikkalainen, the head of the Finnish Union of University Researchers and Teachers.

      The incidence of highly-educated people moving abroad has increased by one-third in the last few years, while the increase in the number of researchers leaving Finland behind is only slightly behind this percentage. According to Statistics Finland, 2,223 individuals with top academic degrees moved abroad in 2016.

      This brain drain has grown steadily since 2011, the researcher and teacher’s union president Koikkalainen said in a Radio Suomi interview on January 5.

      “The problem is not that people are moving abroad from Finland; the problem is that they never come back. We can’t attract highly-educated international experts to Finland, either,” Koikkalainen said.

      “There’s no use debating whether the shrinking university resources are contributing to the growing brain drain. At this point, we should just concede the obvious.”

  • Health/Nutrition

    • China’s Airpocalypse Paves a Path for New Cancer Medicines

      The thick haze of pollution blanketing northern China this winter is a grim reminder of the nation’s new growth industry: lung cancer drugs.

      China logged more than 700,000 new cases of the disease in 2015, the product of a surge in air pollution, high smoking rates and unhealthy lifestyles as China has prospered in recent decades. Lung cancer is now the most common type of cancer in the country and its spread has spawned new listings as well as billion-dollar market values for Chinese companies like Betta Pharmaceuticals Co. and Hutchison China MediTech Ltd., which are attempting to build blockbuster treatments.

      Zhejiang, Hangzhou-based Betta Pharma, which sells just one lung cancer drug called Conmana, shot up to as much as $5.6 billion in market value late last year after raising about $110 million in a public offering on the Shenzhen exchange in November. Hutchison China MediTech, whose pipeline of experimental therapies is also heavily focused on lung cancer, also attracted $110 million in a new listing on the Nasdaq in March.

    • ‘Elephants are not the only victims’: the lament of China’s ivory lovers

      In a tiny workshop at his home in the Tai Po district of Hong Kong, 84-year-old Au Yue-Shung shows me an ivory carving he has been working on for months. Measuring just 5×10 inches, Nine Sages in Mount Xiang depicts the 9th-century poet Bai Juyi and eight of his peers in full creative flow in Henan province, far from the imperial court that Bai once served. The point of the story is that the sages tried to maintain their integrity by staying close to nature and art, and away from the ugly politics of the time. This is a piece that Au created for himself rather than a client. It is his statement about life after going through many ups and downs.

      Born during the Japanese occupation of China in the 1930s, Au joined Guangzhou’s Daxin ivory carving factory at the age of 13 as an apprentice. With only one year’s formal education and with no one caring to teach him, he taught himself drawing and carving in his spare time. Unable to afford drawing paper, he drew on toilet paper. His gift was soon recognised and by the late 1960s he had become a key carving artist at Daxin. Later, at the height of the Cultural Revolution, he decided that he had had enough of the political and artistic repression.

    • State cannot shut people out when it comes to Flint water crisis

      How many more insults can the state lob at the city of Flint?

      The latest came this week when the state Michigan Department of Environmental Quality tried to sneak through an invitation-only town hall meeting on the condition of Flint water.

      In a city where no one can safely drink the water without a filter, the state apparently thought it was perfectly acceptable to hold a public session with a handpicked selection of people.

      A city spokeswoman said the state dropped the invite-only rule Tuesday, Jan. 3, at Flint Mayor Karen Weaver’s urging after city and state officials were asked about the program by MLive-The Flint Journal.

    • 2016 was the worst year in NHS history – we must fight for its survival

      The last 12 months have been the worst in the history of the NHS. Our health system is under pressure like never before. The moment of crisis many warned of has arrived, and it is not clear that the NHS can be retrieved from this state of affairs.

      We used to say that flailing A&Es represented an early warning sign that the health service was under pressure. And so that has proven to be. England’s major A&Es are under record strain with black alerts being regularly sounded, and in some instances wards turning patients away. Last year the A&E crisis spread to other sectors.

    • The Breakthrough: The $2 Drug Test

      We’re calling it The Breakthrough. We’re kicking things off today with two ProPublica reporters, Ryan Gabrielson and Topher Sanders, talking about how they discovered police departments nationwide use a $2 test for detecting drugs that can send innocent people to jail.

  • Security

  • Defence/Aggression

    • FBI dispute with DNC over hacked servers may fuel doubt on Russia role

      The FBI may have been forced into a misstep when investigating whether Russia hacked the Democratic National Committee — the agency never directly examined the DNC servers that were breached.

      Instead, the FBI had to rely on forensic evidence provided by third-party cybersecurity firm CrowdStrike, which the DNC hired to mitigate the breach.

      “The FBI repeatedly stressed to DNC officials the necessity of obtaining direct access to servers and data, only to be rebuffed,” the agency said on Thursday in a statement.


      CrowdStrike didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. But it wasn’t the only private security firm to examine the breach. Fidelis Cybersecurity was brought in to look at the malware samples, and concluded that suspected elite Russian hackers were behind the intrusion.

      Nevertheless, the FBI should have conducted its own review of the hacked servers, Bambenek said. “This is a highly political case, and perception matters,” he said. “In this situation, they need to be building credibility.”

      Critics might now question if the FBI missed pieces of evidence in its investigation or if U.S. intelligence agencies rushed to blame Russia for the hack.

    • Fort Lauderdale shooting leaves ‘mutiple people’ dead, eight hospitalized: authorities

      As many as five people may have been killed and eight people wounded following a shooting by a reported lone gunman at the Fort Lauderdale/Hollywood Airport on Friday afternoon, according to law enforcement authorities, social media, and local and national media reports.

      The suspected gunman, who has not been identified, is in custody, according to the Broward Sheriff’s Office. It confirmed via Twitter that “multiple people are dead” and that “eight people were injured and transported to an area hospital.”

      BSO officials said they received a call around 12:55 p.m. about shots fired at the airport. Airport officials tweeted that “there is an ongoing incident in Terminal 2, Baggage Claim,” but gave no other details.

    • The Ft. Lauderdale Airport Shooter And How TSA Dumbthink Makes Us Less Safe

      And then there’s the photo of him making that one-fingered salute that’s the sign of the tawhid — “the absolute unity of the godhead.”

      If we actually had real security — security that was meaningful in any way — the guy wouldn’t be running around with a gun…checking his gun in at the airport, no less.

      So, we have this expensive, huge bureaucracy, and people being put on the no-fly list because they have the same name as some terrorist, but nobody thinks to put any little notiepoo in the TSA files about a guy who’s reportedly hearing voices from ISIS?

      Think about that, the next time some repurposed mall food court worker is (screw probable cause!) batting at your balls or sticking her hand up your hoohoo.

    • Alleged Target of Drone Strike That Killed American Teenager Is Alive, According to State Department

      The U.S. State Department confirmed on January 5 that the man the U.S. government once claimed was the target of the drone strike that killed American teenager Abdulrahman Awlaki in 2011 in Yemen is alive. The department announced that it has designated Ibrahim al Banna “a Specially Designated Global Terrorist (SDGT) under Executive Order (E.O.) 13224.” The U.S. is offering a $5 million reward for information leading to al Banna’s killing or capture.

      Al Banna’s name was floated by anonymous U.S. officials as the target of the October 14, 2011, drone strike that killed Awlaki, a 16-year-old U.S. citizen born in Colorado. Awlaki’s family insists he was having dinner with his teenage cousin and some others in Shebwah, Yemen, when they were killed in the strike. The Obama administration has never explained why Awlaki was killed, other than anonymous officials implying he was with a terror target at the time or that it was a lethal mistake. Awlaki’s estranged father, Anwar al Awlaki, was a radical pro-al Qaeda imam whose sermons influenced and inspired many terrorists in the English speaking world. The elder Awlaki, who was also a U.S. citizen, was an enigmatic figure who supported George W. Bush’s 2000 election campaign, spoke at the Pentagon shortly after 9-11, and went on to become an important propaganda figure for the growing radical Islamist movement after the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq. He was killed in a U.S. drone strike two weeks before his son was killed.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • ‘Hannity’ Exclusive: Wikileaks’ Assange: Governments ‘Hate Transparency. They Loathe It’

      “We’re in the business of publishing information about power,” Assange said. “Why are we in the business of publishing information about power? Because people can do things with power, they can do very bad things with power. If they’re incompetent, they can do dangerous things. If they’re evil, they can do wicked things.”

    • WikiLeaks or US Intelligence?: CNBC journalist trolled for asking ‘who Americans believe’

      CNBC Chief Washington Correspondent John Harwood, whose cosy relationship with the Clinton campaign was exposed in the Podesta Leaks, asked which source Americans believe regarding the hacking of the Democratic National Committee – WikiLeaks or US Intelligence.

      The Twitter poll comes as President-elect Donald Trump’s refusal to accept US Intelligence reports that claim Russia is behind the DNC hacking escalated tensions between the incoming and outgoing White House administrations.

    • Christmas tale from CIA, NSA and FBI: Elusive ‘Russian hacker’ is Putin
    • WikiLeaks Is What It Is Today Because Of U.S. Government And Media

      If a report from the United States intelligence community is to be believed and WikiLeaks knows the Kremlin used their organization to undermine a United States election, then the U.S. government and press bear some responsibility for the organization’s lack of concern about it.

      The U.S. government launched a grand jury investigation into the media organization and held the grand jury’s first session in 2011. According to a “Manhunting Timeline,” it encouraged Australia, the United Kingdom, Germany, and other countries to file criminal charges against the organization’s editor-in-chief, Julian Assange.

      WikiLeaks’ most prominent and arguably important source in the organization’s history, Chelsea Manning, was abused by the Marines in pretrial confinement and zealously prosecuted by the U.S. military as if she were a spy, who aided al Qaida terrorists. She was sentenced to 35 years in prison for Espionage Act-related offenses. Her disclosures were motivated by whistleblowing and yet, as her legal team argues, she received “far and away the most severe sentence ever adjudged.”

      For the most part, U.S. establishment media outlets went along with the U.S. government’s commitment to criminalizing and isolating WikiLeaks. Even with the revelation of Google search warrants against WikiLeaks staff, editorial boards and journalists remained largely silent about an investigation that could have profound implications for freedom of the press, particularly now that someone like Trump will be president for the next four years.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • London breaches annual air pollution limit for 2017 in just five days

      London has breached its annual air pollution limits just five days into 2017, a “shameful reminder of the severity of London’s air pollution”, according to campaigners.

      By law, hourly levels of toxic nitrogen dioxide must not be more than 200 micrograms per cubic metre (µg/m3) more than 18 times in a whole year, but late on Thursday this limit was broken on Brixton Road in Lambeth.

      Many other sites across the capital will go on to break the annual limit and Putney High Street exceeded the hourly limit over 1,200 times in 2016. Oxford Street, Kings Road in Chelsea and the Strand are other known pollution hotspots.

      NO2 pollution, which is produced largely by diesel vehicles, causes 9,500 early deaths every year in London. Most air quality zones across the country break legal limits and the crisis was called a “public health emergency” by MPs in April. This week scientists said that one in 10 cases of Alzheimer’s in people living near busy roads could be linked to air pollution.

    • US energy analysis sees renewable electricity passing coal by 2030

      Yesterday, the US Energy Information Administration released its energy outlook for 2017. These annual reports provide projections of current energy trends out to 2040, and they provide policymakers with a sense of where the country could be decades from now, should things continue as they have been.

      Anyone who’s up on current trends wouldn’t be surprised by many of the EIA’s results. With coal’s continued decline, natural gas becomes the dominant source of energy in the US, followed by renewable generation. Most of the scenarios the report considers see the continued growth in US energy production far outstripping a sluggish growth in demand. This pattern will transform the country into a net exporter of energy by the 2030s.

      But EIA reports are notoriously conservative in their projections, and this can lead to completely unrealistic results. In the past, for example, the EIA’s projections didn’t foresee the radical drop in photovoltaic prices, and so the organization had solar playing little role in US energy markets. This year’s version is no exception, as it suggests installation of wind power in the US will essentially stop once tax incentives run out in the early 2020s.

    • Giant iceberg poised to break off from Antarctic shelf

      A thread of just 20km of ice is now preventing the 5,000 sq km mass from floating away, following the sudden expansion last month of a rift that has been steadily growing for more than a decade.

      The iceberg, which is positioned on the most northern major ice shelf in Antarctica, known as Larsen C, is predicted to be one of the largest 10 break-offs ever recorded.

    • The Stuff You Buy Is Destroying Animals Around the World

      There are certain products that everyone knows are directly destructive to wildlife. As such, most people and countries around the world generally try to avoid them. Using ivory for trinkets causes elephant slaughter; eating shark fins—you guessed it—is not good for sharks. But those are easy to give up, because a.) we don’t need any of them, and b.) they very blatantly come from certain wild animals.

      Much of the things we use in daily life, however, from iPhones, to jeans, to Ikea furniture, also have negative impacts on endangered wildlife around the globe. But how can you tell? In an attempt to answer that question, scientists from Norway and Japan used a global trade model to trace consumer demands around the world to threats on endangered wildlife. They’ve created a series of maps based on their findings that show the threat “hotspots” around the world and what countries are endangering them. The rationale is that if you know where in the supply chain you’re doing the most damage, you can take steps to alleviate it. Their findings are published in the journal Nature Ecology and Evolution.

    • Warmer Winters
    • Another pipeline through Indian land – this time in Mexico

      The Yaqui community is less that pleased about the Agua Prieta pipeline’s projected route, which goes straight through their territory. Things went from bad to worse on October 21, when the pipeline’s supporters attacked a group of protesters, killing one, wounding eight, and causing substantial property damage.

      The Yaqui tribe, which has endured a long history of repression, has also a history of resistance. Like other indigenous communities in Mexico, several members of the Yaqui tribe have lost their lives fighting against invasive private companies and non-indigenous authorities. Just two years ago, before the conflict over the Agua Prieta pipeline, the Yaquis protested against a large-scale aqueduct that would have diverted what was left of their sacred river to the city of Hermosillo.

    • Exxon predicts 25% rise in energy demand

      The world’s biggest oil conglomerate says it expects global energy demand to increase by a quarter in the next 23 years.

      ExxonMobil is the largest of the world’s big oil companies, the supermajors. Up to the end of 2016, Rex Tillerson, who has been nominated by US President-elect Donald Trump as his Secretary of State, was Exxon’s chairman and CEO.

      In this year’s annual Outlook for Energy, a look-ahead to 2040, Exxon says: “Over the next 25 years, growing economies and an expanding middle class will mean better living standards for billions, through increased access to better education and health care as well as new homes, appliances and cars. This means the world will need more energy, even with significant efficiency gains.”

      With world population expected to grow by 1.8 billion people to a total of 9bn by 2040, the company believes global energy demand will increase by 25% – and that India and China together will account for 45% of that increase.

  • Finance

    • Farmers could ‘reap a post-Brexit bonus when Britain leaves the EU’

      Farmers will reap a post-Brexit bonus as Britain is liberated from “over-bureaucratic” European Union rules on agriculture, according to a new report.

      It argued that departure from the bloc will enable the government to better target financial help at the farmers who need it most.

      The report from the Centre for PolicyStudies (CPS) said that Theresa May has a “strong hand” to deploy in Brexit negotiations because of the UK’s £16.7bn annual deficit in food and drink with the EU.

    • Finland Will Give 2000 Unemployed People $590 Every Month, No Strings Attached, Even After They Get A Job

      As that indicates, this isn’t a universal basic wage, since it’s aimed at just a few of those receiving unemployment benefit, and the money will replace existing financial support. On the other hand, it isn’t just some kind of creative accounting, because they will continue to receive the monthly sum even if they find work. There are already plans to roll it out more widely.

      As the Guardian notes, other parts of the world, including Canada, Italy, the Netherlands and Scotland, are also looking to try out the idea. At a time when there are fears that automation may well reduce the total number of workers needed in industry, it’s great to see these experiments exploring an approach that could help to alleviate social problems arising from this shift.

    • Sir Ivan Rogers, UK’s ambassador to the EU quits

      Sir Ivan, the man who would play a main role in the negotiations with the EU during the UKs extraction has resigned, sending a 1400-word thank you letter to his staff setting out his problems with why he felt his position was untenable and the current Governments position with regards to leaving the EU.

    • Kamala Harris Fails to Explain Why She Didn’t Prosecute Steven Mnuchin’s Bank

      Former California Attorney General Kamala Harris on Wednesday vaguely acknowledged The Intercept’s report about her declining to prosecute Steven Mnuchin’s OneWest Bank for foreclosure violations in 2013, but offered no explanation.

      “It’s a decision my office made,” she said, in response to questions from The Hill shortly after being sworn in as California’s newest U.S. senator.

      “We went and we followed the facts and the evidence, and it’s a decision my office made,” Harris said. “We pursued it just like any other case. We go and we take a case wherever the facts lead us.”

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • NYT Makes the Case for Trump Via Racialized Rural Mythology

      Washington Post‘s Paul Farhi wrote a piece last month (12/9/16) reporting that “major newspapers, from the Washington Post to the New York Times, have struggled to find and publish pro-Trump columns for months.” Perhaps that explains why some of the Trump-sympathizing columns they do manage to turn up—like a piece that ran today in the Times (1/5/17)—leave a lot to be desired in terms of logic and accuracy.

      To be fair, the Times op-ed wasn’t written by a self-professed Trump fan, but by Robert Leonard, the news director for an Iowa country music station, who says, “I consider myself fairly liberal,” and confesses that he has “struggled to understand how these conservative friends and neighbors I respect—and at times admire—can think so differently from me.”


      Voting for Trump, though, with the idea that he will do something about the hospitals-too-far-away problem would be childish. If op-ed pages can’t find writers who can make a grown-up case for Trump, perhaps they should be willing to allow the case to go unmade.

    • Speaker Paul Ryan, After Passing Regulatory Rollback, Parties With Lobbyists at Fundraiser

      Just hours after passing the very first bill of the new Congress on Wednesday — one designed to roll back a range of environmental and consumer regulations — House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wisc., celebrated with a corporate lobbying firm at a fundraiser for his campaign committee.

      The vote on the Midnight Rules Relief Act of 2017 took place at 4:48 p.m. on Wednesday. The fundraiser, at the offices of the BGR Group, a major lobbying firm, started at 7 p.m.

      The bill would amend existing law to allow Congress to repeal en masse multiple regulations finalized since the end of May last year. The law is believed to be aimed at rolling back a rule designed to deter mining companies from polluting drinking water sources, rules designed to curb hazardous methane emissions from fracking sites, and a rule that extends the threshold for overtime pay to workers, among others.

    • Clinton quite effective at discrediting herself’ Ex-CIA analyst blasts hacking claims

      Larry C Johnson branded the newly declassified US intelligence report “as a farce and a charade”, adding Russian attempts to discredit the Democrat candidate Hilary Clinton were unnecessary because “she was quite effective at it herself”.

      On Friday, intelligence officials published their findings into alleged Russian hacking during November’s US election.

      The report claimed the Russian president personally ordered an online campaign to influence the outcome of the ballot in Trump’s favour.

      It said Mr Putin’s goal was to undermine the democratic process and denigrate Mrs Clinton, by using intermediaries such as DCLeaks.com, Guccifer 2.0 and WikiLeaks to publicly expose private emails acquired from the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and top level Democrats.

    • Trump Already Demanding Leak Investigation and He’s Not Even President Yet

      President-elect Donald Trump isn’t waiting until his inauguration to push for investigations of leaks to the press — an indication that he’ll emulate and possibly surpass President Obama’s practice of criminalizing disclosures to the media.

    • Underwhelming Intel Report Shows Need for Congressional Investigation of DNC Hack

      After President Obama and Donald Trump were briefed on a classified report explaining the United States Intelligence Community’s belief that Russia hacked the Democratic Party, the public has received its own, declassified version. Unfortunately for us, it appears virtually anything new and interesting was removed in the redaction process, leaving us without the conclusive, technical evidence we were hoping for — and that the American people are owed. Failing a last minute change of heart, the next best (and perhaps last) hope for the government to show us its work would be a formal, bipartisan probe.

    • Conservatives Plot Their Course on the Rising ‘Sea of Red’ in State Capitals

      The American Legislative Exchange Council — a nonprofit better known as ALEC — briefed its members and allied groups on the bright future for its agenda now that Republicans will effectively control 68 of the nation’s 99 state legislative bodies, as well as 33 governor’s mansions. Among other things, group members said they would push bills to reduce corporate taxes, weaken unions, privatize schooling and influence the ideological debate on college campuses.

    • Glenn Greenwald: Democrats Eager to Blame “Everybody But Themselves” for Collapse of Their Party

      As Director of National Intelligence James Clapper testifies at a Senate hearing on Russian cyberthreats ahead of a highly classified briefing today with President-elect Donald Trump, we speak with Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Glenn Greenwald, who has faced an onslaught of criticism for questioning the premise of Russian hacking of the U.S. election. “Because Democrats are so desperate to put the blame on everybody but themselves for the complete collapse of their party, they’re particularly furious at anybody who vocally challenges this narrative,” Greenwald says. “And since I’ve been one of the people most vocally doing so, the smear campaign has been like none that I have ever encountered. I have been accused of being a member of the alt-right, of being an admirer of Breitbart, of being supportive of Donald Trump, of helping him get elected and, of course, of being a Kremlin operative.”

    • Facebook’s New Head of News Partnerships, Campbell Brown, Has Deep Ties to Trump Nominee

      Facebook announced Friday that former CNN host and education reform activist Campbell Brown will be leading its news partnership team.

      Brown wrote in a statement on her Facebook page that she will “help news organizations and journalists work more closely and more effectively with Facebook. I will be working directly with our partners to help them understand how Facebook can expand the reach of their journalism, and contribute value to their businesses.”

      Brown’s hiring should raise eyebrows given her close ties to Betsy DeVos, the president-elect’s nominee to lead the Education Department. DeVos is a Michigan-based billionaire heiress who has poured millions of dollars into organizations supporting school vouchers and charter schools.

    • Donald Trump Demonstrating How Much Of Our Political System Is Based On Tradition & Custom, Not Rules

      And… that’s really quite interesting, because of how little many people — especially policy experts — have really stopped to consider how much of the way we do things is based on custom, and not actual rules. There are two ways of looking at this. First, there absolutely are serious problems with “the way things have always been done.” So there’s potential value in having someone who doesn’t feel hamstrung by traditions and customs that might not make sense. But, the flip side of that is that there are often really good reasons for the way many of these things are done. And, so far, the customs and traditions that Trump has been indicating he’ll ignore, are ones that do seem to be based on solid reasoning, rather than just silly legacy reasons. Intelligence reports, secret service protection, and anti-nepotism rules make sense.

    • The Internet Archive is building up a Trump presidential library — of everything he’s ever said, on video

      The Internet Archive launched Thursday a huge Trump Archive dedicated to housing videos of everything Trump’s said on video: in everything from broadcast speeches, debates, interviews, and newscasts about the President-elect. The archive currently contains more than 700 videos — that’s more than 520 hours of Trump — compiled by way of the TV News Archive, the Internet Archive’s broadcast tracking resource, and currently dates back to December 2009 (Trump formally announced his candidacy June of 2015).

    • Ignoring anti-Trumpers: Why we can expect media blackout of protests against Trump’s inauguration

      On Jan. 20 — 16 years ago — thousands of protesters lined the inauguration parade route of the incoming Republican president. “Not my president,” they chanted. But despite the enormity of the rally, it was largely ignored. Instead, pundits marveled over how George W. Bush “filled out the suit” and confirmed authority.

      “The inauguration of George W. Bush was certainly a spectacle on Inauguration Day,” marvels Robin Andersen, the director of Peace and Justice studies at Fordham University, in the 2001 short documentary “Not My President: Voices From the Counter Coup.”

      It’s nearly impossible not to anticipate the eerie parallels between George W. Bush’s inauguration and that of Donald Trump.

    • Drunk tweets? Foul-mouthed Vicente Fox challenges Trump, ‘I’m not paying for that f**kin’ wall’

      Fox tweeted: “I am not paying for that f*cken wall. Be clear with US taxpayers. They will pay for it.”

    • Betraying Campaign Promise, Trump Now Says US Taxpayers Will Pay for Wall

      Rep. Chris Collins (R-N.Y.), congressional liaison for the Trump transition team, doubled down on Trump’s position in comments to CNN: “When you understand that Mexico’s economy is dependent upon U.S. consumers, Donald Trump has all the cards he needs to play,” Collins said. “On the trade negotiation side, I don’t think it’s that difficult for Donald Trump to convince Mexico that it’s in their best interest to reimburse us for building the wall.”

      However, Mexico’s president has vociferously and repeatedly said that the country will not pay for Trump’s promised wall. “We’re not going to pay for that fucking wall,” former president Vicente Fox added last March, as Common Dreams reported.

    • ‘US intel community lost professional discipline’: Ex-NSA tech director on ‘Russia hacking’ report

      The undisguised and clearly politically motivated report on the alleged 2016 US “election hack” displays a severe lack of “professional discipline” in the intelligence community, former NSA technical director and whistleblower William Edward Binney told RT.

    • Poor People, Don’t You Know You Have Jobs?

      It’s not Trump you have to worry about. You’re thinking short-term.

      As people struggle to find third-parties to blame for Hillary Clinton’s defeat (pick one or more: Putin, Bernie Bros, Comey, The Media, Electoral Collegians, the Racist/Misogynist Hordes), an amorphous group has emerged as a popular domestic target: stupid poor white people who do not understand how much better they have had it over the last eight years.

      These slack-jawed yokels just can’t seem to grasp that they have great jobs in a growing economy. The numbers prove it: the U.S stock market is at record highs and unemployment at its lowest level since the Great Recession.

    • Circus of Liars: How Trump & GOP are Twisted into Pretzels over Putin Hack

      The US NSA hacked the whole world for many years until Ed Snowden blew the whistle on them.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Court Says 791 Days Of Warrantless Location Tracking ‘Unreasonable,” But Refuses To Toss Evidence

      A confusing and disturbing conclusion has been reached by a New York federal court. The court has decided that 791 days of location tracking with a GPS ankle bracelet is unreasonable, but somehow not worthy of evidence suppression. (via FourthAmendment.com)

      Kemal Lambus — the defendant challenging the evidence — was granted parole, but with certain conditions. One of those was imposed a few months after his release: wearing an ankle bracelet to ensure he abided by his curfew. This was in addition to the normal amount of diminished privacy afforded parolees, which includes any number of warrantless searches by parole officers.

    • Michael Rogers: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know

      Another reason that Rogers has drawn criticism is that he failed to prevent further security breaches in the wake of the Edward Snowden revelations.

      In August 2016, for example, the FBI arrested an NSA contractor named Harold T. Martin III who they believed had stolen and disclosed 50 terabytes of data, according to The New York Times.

    • NSA seeks pay bump for its ‘high-end, exquisite civilian talent’ [Ed: due to brain drain]

      NSA Director Michael Rogers recently authorized the introduction of a specially tailored compensation package for the spy agency’s “high-end” cybersecurity workers.

    • Belgium Wants EU Nations To Collect And Store Personal Data Of Train, Bus And Boat Passengers

      It’s become pretty common for the authorities to collect personal information about passengers from airlines, supposedly to ensure security. It’s a sensitive area, though, as shown by the many years of fraught US-EU negotiations that were required in order to come up with a legal framework for transferring this data to the US when EU citizens were involved. However, not all EU countries are so concerned about that privacy thing. Belgium, for example, thinks that the current approach doesn’t go far enough, and that it should be extended to include all forms of mass transport. As this EurActiv article notes, the Belgian parliament has already voted to bring in a national system for trains, buses and boats by May 2018, and the country is calling for the rest of the EU to follow suit…

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • FBI Dismisses Child Porn Prosecution After Refusing To Hand Over Details On Its Hacking Tool

      The FBI has decided to let one of its Playpen defendants walk rather than turn over information on its Network Investigative Technique. The NIT, deployed all over the world on the back of a single warrant obtained in Virginia, unmasked Tor users by dropping code on Playpen visitors’ computers that sent back IP addresses and other information about the user’s computer.

      The warrant itself has been ruled invalid by a number of judges presiding over Playpen prosecutions, although not all of them have determined that the evidence obtained by the NIT should be suppressed. The FBI not only sent malware to site visitors, but it also ran (and possibly improved) the child porn website for two weeks while pursuing its investigation.

      Michaud’s lawyer asked the court to force the FBI to hand over information on the NIT. The FBI countered, saying it wouldn’t turn over the information even if ordered to do so. Judge Bryan, after an in camera session with the agency, agreed with the government that there was a law enforcement need to keep the details of the tool secret. But he also made it clear the government couldn’t have both its secrecy and its evidence. He ordered all evidence suppressed.

    • Judge Tells DOJ It Can’t Un-Suppress Evidence By Starting The Indictment Process All Over Again

      Sure, we like the DOJ when it’s handing down scathing reviews of local law enforcement agencies and belatedly issuing warrant requirements for IMSI catchers, but we’re not nearly as thrilled when it argues against warrant requirements for cell phone searches, demands backdoors in phone encryption, or beats mild miscreants over the head with the CFAA.

      In fact, there’s very little to like about the DOJ outside of its civil rights division. Here’s yet another reason why the Department of Justice often seems like a misnomer. (h/t Brad Heath)

      A decision [PDF] has been handed down by a federal court in Puerto Rico, presumably with an eyeroll and an exasperated sigh.

      In 2014, Homeland Security agents searched Jose Silva-Rentas without reasonable suspicion, probable cause, or a warrant. Silva happened to be next to somebody HSI agents did search with probable cause. Rentas moved to suppress the evidence and the court agreed that the government’s theory of probable cause osmosis wasn’t enough to salvage the search.

    • Jenna Jameson, newly Jewish, launches anti-Islam rant: ‘I don’t care about your false prophet’

      Jenna Jameson launched into an anti-Islam rant on Twitter this week, slamming the religion as one that “promotes child rape, female genital mutilation, butchering non believers and polygamy.”

      The former porn legend, who converted to Judaism last year ahead of her upcoming marriage to Israeli boyfriend Lior Bitton, spent the better part of the week defending her attacks against Islam and “spending all [her] free time” watching YouTube videos about the Quran by Christian apologist David Wood.

    • Briton ‘jailed for adultery in Bahrain’ released from prison

      A British woman jailed in Bahrain after being accused of adultery has been released amid a fundraising appeal by her mother to bring her home.

      Hannah James, said to originally be from Fraserburgh, Aberdeenshire, moved to the country with husband Jassim Alhaddar and their young son, but her mother, Shelley James, claims she was a victim of domestic abuse and wanted to leave Bahrain.

    • Six essays on media, technology and politics from Data & Society

      danah boyd writes, “Yesterday, a group of us at Data & Society put out six essays on ‘media, technology, politics.’ Taken together, these pieces address different facets of the current public conversation surrounding propaganda, hate speech, and the US election. Although we only allude to specifics, we have been witnessing mis/disinformation campaigns for quite some time as different networks seek to manipulate both old and new media, shape political discourse, and undermine trust in institutions and information intermediaries. In short, we are concerned about the rise of a new form of propaganda that is networked, decentralized, and internet-savvy. We are also concerned about the ongoing development of harassment techniques and gaslighting, the vulnerability of old and new media to propagate fear and disinformation, and the various ways in which well-intended interventions get misappropriated. We believe that we’re watching a systematic attack on democracy, equality, and freedom. There is no silver bullet to address the issues we’re seeing. Instead, a healthy response is going to require engagement by many different constituencies. We see our role in this as to help inform and ground the conversation. These essays are our first attempt to address the interwoven issues we’re seeing.

    • Obama Picks Up the Pace on Commutations, But Pardon Changes Still in Limbo

      Near the start of his second term, President Obama had granted clemency at a lower rate than any president in recent history. He had pardoned 39 people and denied 1,333 requests. He had used his power to commute a prisoner’s sentence just once.

      But as Obama enters the final days of his administration, he has dramatically picked up the pace. He’s now issued commutations to 1,176 people since entering office — more than George W. Bush, Bill Clinton and Ronald Reagan put together. In December, Obama commuted the sentences of 231 people in a single day.

      Much of Obama’s increased activity can be attributed to an initiative begun in 2014 to shorten sentences of non-violent offenders who would likely have received less time for their crimes under current law and who had already served at least 10 years of their prison sentences. Low-level drug offenders have received most of the commutations, part of a broader push by the administration to reform sentencing guidelines.

    • Alleged Chicago Assault Reignites Issue of Hate Crimes Against Whites

      The meaning and enforcement of the Illinois hate-crimes statute seems destined for intense scrutiny with the arrest this week of four young black adults in Chicago in connection with the assault of a mentally disabled white man. The arrests by the Chicago Police Department resulted in part from what appeared to a livestreamed video of the disabled man being abused while bound and gagged. The recording captures one or more of the attackers making references to Donald Trump and white people.

    • Ellen Schrecker on the New McCarthyism

      This week on CounterSpin: The “what could possibly go wrong?” meme might be overused, but it’s hard not to think it, watching the government create new tools and powers for countering “disinformation” that will be handed to a president-elect who calls journalists “the lowest form of life.” Donald Trump didn’t create the present terrain, however, and pretending that fearmongering and watchlists and looking the other way are all newly minted will not serve us. In fact, we can look to history to help us understand what’s happening, and what we can do to resist it.

    • Signs Look Grim for Media Picking the Side of Liberty and Dissent

      This is a kind of “which side are you on?” moment for journalists. Will they defend the rights and liberties of the many communities under threat—Muslims, women, those reliant on government assistance? Will they keep alive a space for dissent and critical questioning in the face of a White House that declares itself indifferent to rules about conflicts of interest, among many other things, and that threatens revenge on those it calls “enemies”?


      USA Today solved the problem, we’re told, by getting Trump and Pence themselves to write for them. Maybe the New York Times will adopt that strategy, given its editor’s statement that his paper “could have done better.”

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • Canadian Regulators Declare 50 Mbps To Be The New Broadband Standard

      A few years back, the FCC here in the States bumped the base definition of broadband from 4 Mbps downstream, 1 Mbps upstream, to 25 Mbps downstream, 4 Mbps upstream. This was done in large part to highlight the lack of competition (two-thirds lack access to speeds of 25 Mbps from more than one provider) at faster speeds, largely thanks to telcos that no longer really want to be in the residential broadband business and are refusing to upgrade their networks at any scale. Needless to say, neither ISPs — nor the politicians paid to love them — were happy with the new standard.

      Recently the Canadian government took things further, announcing new rules that make 50 Mbps downstream, 10 Mbps upstream the new industry standard. In addition to declaring that this 50 Mbps option should be considered “basic telecom service” moving forward, the CRTC announced that it’s requiring that Canadian ISPs at least offer users the ability to purchase an uncapped, unlimited broadband connection.

    • Utterly Tone Deaf To Cord Cutting, Cable Contract Feuds And Blackouts Skyrocket

      We’ve noted for years that as broadcasters and cable companies bicker over new programming contracts, already-annoyed customers are left in a lurch. Usually these feuds go something like this: a broadcaster demands a huge rate increase for the exact same content. The cable company balks, and the content is usually pulled out of the cable lineup. Customers aren’t given any sort of refund for this missing content, they’re just inundated with PR pitches from both sides trying to get them pissed at the other guy. Ultimately a new, confidential contract is struck, and the rate hikes are then passed on to the consumer.

      In short, consumers are repeatedly punished with blackouts and petty PR bitching between companies incapable of responsibly signing new contracts, after which they get a lovely new price hike. It’s no wonder that 2016 was a record year for cord cutting.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • UN Establishes Technology Bank For Least-Developed Countries, Including An IP Bank [Ed: poor countries don’t need “IP”]

      The United Nations has established a “technology bank” for least-developed countries that aims to strengthen the science, technology and innovation capacity of LDCs that includes better management of intellectual property rights.

    • Trademarks

      • Bushy’s Brewery, Isle Of Man Govt. Have Trademark Hissy Fit Over Two Letters: TT

        If there is one lesson you take away from writing about trademark law and disputes, it’s how simple it would be to avoid a massive percentage of the conflicts by holding trademark applications to a far higher standard then they often are. If the world’s many trademark offices kept in mind that the entire point of this form of intellectual property is supposed to be keeping the public confident in their ability to determine the source of a given product or service by its trademarked branding, then it would be obvious that approved trademarks should be unique and distinct.

        As a counterexample to that line of thinking, consider the current dispute going on between Bushy’s Brewery, located on the Isle of Man, and the Manx government, all over the government’s trademark for exactly two letters: TT.

    • Copyrights

      • FACT Lawyer Reveals Challenges of Kodi Box Seller Prosecutions

        A lawyer who has worked on piracy cases for the Federation Against Copyright Theft has revealed the challenges posed by Kodi and IPTV box prosecutions. Ari Alabhai says that copyright can be complicated for a jury to understand, so prosecutions under the Fraud Act may be preferred. Even that has its complications, however.

      • Pirates across Europe… What can we expect in 2017?

        There are good reasons to keep an eye on the performance of the Pirates across Europe – as we know from the Icelandic experiance, strong showings in other countries can help support the UK Pirate Party as it brings knowledge of Pirate Politics to new people. There are also opportunities to ‘Pirate’ each others ideas and bring the best of what works in campaigns to the UK.

      • Polls suggest Iceland’s Pirate party may form next government

        The Pirate party, whose platform includes direct democracy, greater government transparency, a new national constitution and asylum for US whistleblower Edward Snowden, will field candidates in every constituency and has been at or near the top of every opinion poll for over a year.

        As befits a movement dedicated to reinventing democracy through new technology, it also aims to boost the youth vote by persuading the company developing Pokémon Go in Iceland to turn polling stations into Pokéstops.

        “It’s gradually dawning on us, what’s happening,” Birgitta Jónsdóttir, leader of the Pirates’ parliamentary group, told the Guardian. “It’s strange and very exciting. But we are well prepared now. This is about change driven not by fear but by courage and hope. We are popular, not populist.”

        The election, likely to be held on 29 October, follows the resignation of Iceland’s former prime minister Sigmundur Davið Gunnlaugsson, who became the first major victim of the Panama Papers in April after the leaked legal documents revealed he had millions of pounds of family money offshore.


Links 6/1/2017: Irssi 1.0.0, KaOS 2017.01 Released

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

GNOME bluefish



  • There’s a Linux-powered car in your future

    Linux is everywhere. And, I mean everywhere. You name it, home electronics, smartphones, and, of course, computers. But, one place you probably didn’t think of Linux living is sitting in your driveway right now: Your car.

  • Watercooler won’t dispense until it finishes updating Windows

    Intel Director of Incident Response Jackie Stokes has captured the entirety of 2017 in a single image: a watercooler that won’t dispense water until it has installed a Windows upgrade (caption: “I just wanted some water…”).

  • Well, It’s One For The Money, Two For The Show….

    I was already a Linux user. My business and my home computers were both running Linux. So why did I bother to deploy these 15 XP machines? I did so on the advice of someone I respect greatly, and still do. His argument was, since the world ran on Microsoft Windows, I would be doing these kids a great disservice by putting Linux on their computers. They would have to fight with teachers and other students because the various formats and applications within Linux would not meld in with the Windows World.


    What is important to know is that the computers which are being given to Reglue Kids today are powered by the sheer will of a Global Community. The Linux and Open Source Communities drive these machines. The machines that will guide today’s kids into tomorrow’s Chemical, nuclear and aerospace engineering and physics positions. These kids will bring back the Thorium-based nuclear power plants. They will not only fuel our nation’s energy needs at a fraction of today’s cost, they will push us farther out into space, and at speeds that seem almost impossible today.

  • Desktop

    • Samsung’s new Chromebooks are Google’s answer to the iPad Pro and Surface Pro

      Following months of leaks, Samsung is today making its latest Chromebook official. The new computer is actually two models — the Chromebook Plus and Chromebook Pro — and is the first one built from the ground up with support for Android apps. It’s also the first Chromebook to come with a stylus and support on-screen inking. The Chromebook Plus will be available starting this February for $449; the virtually-identical-save-for-a-different-processor Chromebook Pro will arrive later this year for a to-be-determined-but-definitely-higher price.

  • Server

    • Understanding Open vSwitch, an OpenStack SDN component

      Open vSwitch is an open-source project that allows hypervisors to virtualize the networking layer. This caters for the large number of virtual machines running on one or more physical nodes. The virtual machines connect to virtual ports on virtual bridges (inside the virtualized network layer.)

      This is very similar to a physical server connecting to physical ports on a Layer 2 networking switch. These virtual bridges then allow the virtual machines to communicate with each other on the same physical node. These bridges also connect these virtual machines to the physical network for communication outside the hypervisor node.

  • Kernel Space

  • Applications

  • Distributions

    • New Releases

      • KaOS 2017.01

        Starting the New Year with a fresh new look. All parts of the Midna artwork have been updated, most notably a new sddm theme that uses a layered QML model. This makes selecting between the default regular Plasma session or optional Wayland much clearer. New is also a move to a right vertical panel as default.

        As always with this rolling distribution, you will find the very latest packages for the Plasma Desktop, this includes Frameworks 5.29.0, Plasma 5.8.5, KDE Applications 16.12.0 & not yet released ports of KDE Applications. All built on Qt 5.7.1.

    • PCLinuxOS/Mageia/Mandriva Family

      • Not a OpenMandriva Review, Integrated Steam, Endless Linux PCs

        Neil Rickert today shared his experiences with OpenMandriva Lx 3.01 leading to another account indicating 3.01 wasn’t quite soup yet. Elsewhere, Rajat Kabade reported that “Intel is all set to integrate Steam into its Clear Linux to make the existing gaming experience even better.” Endless Computers is bringing its Mission One and Mini Linux boxes to the US market and Michael Larabel reported today on the latest on DRM moving to user space.

      • OpenMandriva Lx 3.01 — not really a review

        Hmm, I have been neglecting this blog. It’s time to catch up. I’ve still been doing stuff, but have not recently blogged about it.

        There’s not much to report here, so this will be a short post.

        I saw the recent announcement from the OpenMandriva folk, and thought that I would give it a try. According to the announcement, this release comes with Plasma 5 with Wayland support.

    • Arch Family

      • Arch Linux 2017.01.01 Released, ISO Files And Torrents Available For Download

        Thanks to the hard-working Arch Linux developers, the first Arch Linux ISO images of 2017 are available for download. The latest release, i.e., Arch Linux 2017.01.01, is powered by Linux kernel 4.8.13. While the first time users can grab the ISO images and torrents from Arch’s website, the existing users can update their systems using `pacman -Syu.’

    • Red Hat Family

    • Debian Family

      • Debian vs. Ubuntu

        For the last four years, Debian and Ubuntu have been in the top three Linux distributions on Distrowatch. Since 2005, neither has been out of the top six. But which Linux distro is right for you? You can’t go seriously wrong either way, but a useful answer depends upon what you want in a distribution.

        You may have heard that Debian is a distribution for experts, and Ubuntu for beginners. That is true, so far as it goes. However, that distinction is more historic than contemporary.

        It is true that after Ubuntu burst on to the scene in late 2004, it spent several years making the desktop easier to use, especially for non-English speakers. However, thanks to free licenses, Ubuntu’s improvements have spread to most desktop environments.

        Moreover, Ubuntu’s days of interface innovations are largely in the past. Today, Ubuntu development is focused largely on convergence — the development of its Unity desktop into a common interface for phones, tablets, and desktops. But since Ubuntu phones and tablets have limited availability, convergence is largely irrelevant to many users. Similarly, Canonical, Ubuntu’s parent company, seems more focused on its successful OpenStack division than on desktop development.

      • Derivatives

        • Debian-Based BlankOn 10.0 Released for Indonesian Linux Users After Three Years

          Today, January 5, 2017, Ahmad Haris, the release manager of BlankOn, a Debian-based GNU/Linux distribution developed by and for the Indonesian Linux community, proudly announced the release of BlankOn Linux 10.0.

          Dubbed “Tambora,” BlankOn Linux 10.0 is here in its final, production-ready state approximately three years after the February 2014 release of BlankOn 9.0. As expected, there are numerous improvements, but the biggest new feature of BlankOn 10.0 is the in-house built Manokwari desktop environment, which is based on the GNOME 3 shell.

        • BlankOn 10.0 Tambora released

          Some time ago developers behind BlankOn Linux team released a new version 10.0 codenamed Tambora. BlankOn is based on Debian and originated in Indonesia. This is the tenth release of BlankOn which includes lots of changes and improvements.

        • Canonical/Ubuntu

          • Canonical Clarifies Ubuntu Phone State: Nothing Really Until Snap-Based Image Ready

            For those that shared your hopes for Ubuntu Phones in 2017, some of you were right: those that guessed nothing or very little. There isn’t going to be any new Ubuntu Phone releases or major OTA updates until there is a Snap-based image down the road.

            From all the frustrated Ubuntu Phone users begging for answers on the Ubuntu-Phone mailing list, Canonical’s Pat McGowan has responded to some of the comments.

            Pat shares that the Click-based Ubuntu Phone images are indeed on the way out, there will be no new Ubuntu Phone models until there is a “Snap image”, and they don’t plan to do an OTA-15 feature release. Canonical doesn’t plan to land any new features to the current stable PPA, but they will be providing security updates for important components.

          • Canonical Clarifies the Current State of Ubuntu Phones and Ubuntu Touch Updates

            In December 2016, a bunch of worried folks using various Ubuntu-based devices started an “Ubuntu Crickets” riot to force Canonical to reveal its upcoming plans for new Ubuntu Phone and Ubuntu Touch models/versions.

            It didn’t take long, and Canonical’s Pat McGowan joined the discussion earlier to inform the concerned community about general progress. Long story short, as many have already guessed, it would appear that there are no plans for an OTA-15 update of the Ubuntu Touch mobile operating system, for now.

            “We do not plan to land any features to the current stable PPA, although we will provide security updates as they are available for example for the webrowser/oxide,” said Pat McGowan in the mailing list statement, where he also confirmed the fact that there won’t be any new Ubuntu Phone models released until there’s a Snap image.

          • No New Ubuntu Phones on the Horizon, And No Major Updates for Existing Ones, Either

            If you were hoping to see a new Ubuntu phone released sometime soon, we’ve some bad news for you.

            And if you already own an Ubuntu phone and were hoping to see a new update released soon, we’ve some bad news for you too.

            Bad news for everybody, it seems — or is there some silver lining in the grey clouds casting over the project?

          • uNav 0.64 Turn-by-Turn GPS Navigation App Now Available for Ubuntu Phones

            Marcos Costales, the developer of the very popular uNav map viewer and turn-by-turn GPS navigator for Ubuntu Phone devices, released a new version of his application, uNav 0.64.

            uNav 0.64 comes four months after version 0.63, which was a minor update improving the simulator, adding support for skipping confirmation of routes, rounding off the distance to the nearest turn in guidance mode, fixing the ‘¿¿¿’ string in POI names, adding CartoDB layers, as well as a bash script to generate translations.

          • Flavours and Variants

            • Linux Mint 18.1 Xfce Edition Enters Beta, Based on Ubuntu 16.04 and Xfce 4.12

              A few moments ago, the Linux Mint team happily announced the release and general availability of the Beta milestone of the upcoming Linux Mint 18.1 “Serena” Xfce operating system for personal computers.

            • Linux Mint 18.1 ‘Serena’ Xfce Edition Beta operating system available for download

              Another day, and yet another version of Linux Mint with a different desktop environment. The operating system uses Mate and Cinnamon environments by default, but also offers KDE and Xfce editions as well.

              While some people — such as yours truly — think the project should redirect its focus by supporting fewer desktop environments, that apparently won’t be happening any time soon. Case in point, today, Linux Mint 18.1 ‘Serena’ Xfce Edition reaches Beta status. Will you download it?

            • Ubuntu Budgie 17.04 Daily Builds Are Now Available to Download, Screenshot Tour

              The Ubuntu Budgie devs are back from the Christmas and New Year’s break with a vengeance, and they’ve just announced the availability of daily build ISO images for the upcoming Ubuntu Budgie 17.04 (Zesty Zapus) operating system.

              At the end of 2016, they promised us that we’d be able to get our hands on the daily build ISO images of Ubuntu Budgie 17.04, and here they are, available for download as we speak for 64- and 32-bit hardware architectures from Canonical’s download servers, along with all the other official flavors.

              For your viewing pleasure, and ours, we downloaded the latest 64-bit Live ISO image to make a quick screenshot tour of the distribution, which is built around the lightweight Budgie desktop environment developed by the Solus Project (yes, the people behind the popular Solus distro).

            • Ubuntu GNOME 17.04 to Be Based on the GNOME 3.22 Stack, Now Ships Linux 4.9

              While the first Alpha development release of the upcoming Ubuntu GNOME 17.04 (Zesty Zapus) operating system was skipped, we’d like to tell you a little bit about what you should expect from the next Alpha build.

              First things first, we recommend reading our initial report if you want to familiarize yourself with the new or upcoming features of Ubuntu 17.04, but in this article we’d like to tell you all about the Ubuntu GNOME 17.04 flavor, which is now proudly based on the GNOME 3.22 Stack.

  • Devices/Embedded

Free Software/Open Source

  • Five Ways Open Source Software Can Benefit MSPs

    You know open source software, like Linux, is popular with geeks and enterprises. But do you know how it can help your managed services business? Here are five ways open source benefits MSPs.

    For the uninitiated, here’s a quick definition of open source: Open source software means programs whose source code is freely shared and can be viewed by anyone. Access to source code facilitates modification of the programs and provides users with other freedoms not available from closed-source software.

  • New in Open Source: Python-to-Go, Atom in Orbit, DeepMind Lab, More
  • Google, FCA Test-Drive New Open Source Infotainment System

    Google and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles this week showcased a new in-auto infotainment platform at CES in Las Vegas. The open source system combines Uconnect with Android Auto.

    The companies demonstrated their concept design inside a Chrysler 300 sedan at the show. The new system is built around Android 7.0, or Nougat, and an 8.4-inch Uconnect system.

    The integration of Android and Uconnect enables a system built for connectivity and compatibility with the universe of popular Android applications. The demo highlighted integration with Google Assistant, Google Maps, and popular Android apps including Pandora, Spotify, NPR One and Pocket Casts.

  • Apache Geode Spawns ‘All Sorts of In-Memory Things’

    Apache Geode is kind of like the six blind men describing an elephant. It’s all in how you use it, Nitin Lamba, product manager at Ampool, told a meetup group earlier this year.

    Geode is a distributed, in-memory compute and data-management platform that elastically scales to provide high throughput and low latency for big data applications. It pools memory, CPU, and network resources — with the option to also use local disk storage — across multiple processes to manage application objects and behavior.

  • Google’s Python Runtime Environment Goes Open Source

    Lots of organizations run Python code, but few run as much of it as Google does. The company runs millions of lines of Python code. The front-end server that drives youtube.com and YouTube’s APIs is primarily written in Python, and it serves millions of requests per second, according to Google engineers.

    Now, the company has open sourced Grumpy, the Python runtime environment for Go that was developed in-house to improve the performance of YouTube.

  • Voxeliens, a game I covered back in 2012 has gone open source

    The source is under the MIT license and hosted on bitbucket. The developers say it may be difficult to compile on Linux, as it was originally a commercial game and they haven’t really put much effort into compiling it on other platforms.

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • Firefox Developer Edition for Flatpak

        Our team maintains Firefox RPMs for Fedora and RHEL and a lot of people have been asking us to provide Firefox for Flatpak as well. I’m finally happy to announce Firefox Developer Edition for Flatpak.

      • Firefox Developer Edition Now Available as a Flatpak for Fedora 25, Ubuntu 16.10

        Red Hat’s desktop engineering manager Jiří Eischmann proudly announced today, January 5, 2017, the general availability of Mozilla’s Firefox Developer Edition web browser as a Flatpak package for various Linux distros supporting the technology.

      • Firefox Developer Edition Gets Flatpak’d

        Some great news for fans of distro-agnostic app distribution: Firefox Developer Edition is now available to install as a Flatpak! Yup, the dev-friendly flavour of the venerable open-source browser is available to install messing around with installers, RPMs or unpacking zip files to double-click on binaries tucked up inside.

      • Living Inside the Computer: Building Responsible IoT

        Today, we live online. The Internet intersects with everything from commerce and journalism to art and civic participation.

        But more and more, living online doesn’t mean sitting in front of a screen, mouse in hand. The Internet of Things — the networked computing environment that spans the globe — allows the web to permeate our clothes, our homes, our healthcare. The web is now made up of billions of connected devices and zettabytes of data. It’s pervasive.


        What do we do? Philanthropies like Mozilla, Ford, Knight, MacArthur and Open Society are on the front lines of building a better Internet. And IoT will be the first big battle of 2017. In our paper, we share six guiding principles for better IoT. We’re also planning research, grantmaking and salons to further chart the future. And NetGain is seeking more technologists, activists and entrepreneurs for the movement.

  • SaaS/Back End

    • Kubernetes tool saves eBay from its OpenStack woes

      Ebay’s work with OpenStack has yielded fruit: A new container administration tool that makes better use of Docker and Kubernetes.

      This is yet another thumbs-up for containers finding a place as as useful units of work within an organization, and for Kubernetes managing those workloads. But it’s also a sign that even the biggest and most engineer-heavy IT organizations that can bend OpenStack to their will are favoring other solutions out of developer convenience.

    • Open Source, Big Data, and the Governance Challenge

      Recently, John Schroeder, executive chairman and founder of MapR Technologies, Inc., one of the top players in the Big Data arena, was kind enough to give us his predictions on open source anb Big Data topics for 2017. He noted the following: “In 2017, the governance vs. data value tug of war will be front and center.”

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)


    • Richard Stallman: Goodbye to GNU Libreboot

      When Leah Rowe decided last year she wanted to withdraw Libreboot from being a GNU project, there was the ability for GNU to keep the project and appoint a new maintainer. There was a lot of fighting and rumors about what actually happened, but now Richard Stallman has written an email saying they are indeed going to drop Libreboot from the project.

    • Goodbye to GNU Libreboot

      When a program becomes a GNU package, in principle that relationship is permanent. The program’s maintainers undertake the responsibility to develop it on behalf of the GNU Project. Usually the initial maintainers are the developers that brought it into the GNU Project.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

    • Open Data

      • Open-source plant database confirms top US bioenergy crop

        Scientists have confirmed that Miscanthus, long speculated to be the top biofuel producer, yields more than twice as much as switchgrass in the U.S. using an open-source bioenergy crop database gaining traction in plant science, climate change, and ecology research.

        “To understand yield trends and variation across the country for our major food crops, extensive databases are available—notably those provided by the USDA Statistical Service,” said lead author Stephen Long, Gutgsell Endowed Professor of Plant Biology and Crop Sciences at the University of Illinois. “But there was nowhere to go if you wanted to know about biomass crops, particularly those that have no food value such as Miscanthus, switchgrass, willow trees, etc.”

    • Open Hardware/Modding

      • Pow! Renault Creates Twizy-Based Open-Source POM (It’s a Car, Sort Of)

        Renault is claiming that it has created the “world’s first open-source mass-market vehicle.” That sort of stretches the definition of mass market—the car, named POM (for Platform Open Mind), is based on the not-for-the-U.S. Twizy ultracompact EV—but the more pressing question is what Renault means when it calls this vehicle open source.

        Turns out the vehicle itself, which Renault introduced at the CES technology show, is not open source, but the software it runs on is. Renault partnered with software specialist OSVehicle and processor maker ARM to crack open the POM’s operating system and will offer the car to “startups, independent laboratories, private customers, and researchers.” The move allows “third parties to copy and modify existing software to create a totally customizable electric vehicle.” Sounds to us like any vehicle could be made to be open source—just take all the security measures off the software and declare it so! But maybe it’s not that simple.

      • Hands On With The First Open Source Microcontroller

        2016 was a great year for Open Hardware. The Open Source Hardware Association released their certification program, and late in the year, a few silicon wizards met in Mountain View to show off the latest happenings in the RISC-V instruction set architecture.

  • Programming/Development

    • Using Clang-format to ensure clean, consistent code

      Too often programmers underestimate the importance a consistent coding style can have on the success of a project. It makes the code base easier to read, reduces nonfunctional changes to fix inconsistent style, and outlines expectations for code submissions. Most large projects have a coding style, and once you have been working on code for a while you come to appreciate the consistency of a style. Some examples of specified style are where to place braces, whether tabs or spaces are used for indentation, how many spaces to indent by, and how to break up long lines.

  • Standards/Consortia

    • Users Can Now Access Files in OpenDocument Formats from Android Versions of Google Docs, Slides, and Sheets

      Google has announced that it will be enhancing its documents applications that are available on Android. With the enhancements in place, importing and exporting files will be easy for users.

      Google Docs will now support importing of files in the OpenDocument Text (.odt) format as well as export the files later in the same format. In a similar fashion, OpenDocument Spreadsheets (.ods) files and OpenDocument Presentations (.odp) files will from now on be supported for importation and exportation on the Android versions of Google Sheets and Google Slides, respectively.


  • Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg Says He’s No Longer an Atheist

    The pivot occurs the same year Mark Zuckerberg met with the Pope. In the past Zuckerberg has posted a photo of himself praying at a Buddhist pagoda and praised that religion. His wife, Priscilla Chan, practices Buddhism.

  • Is Mark Zuckerberg Eyeing the White House?

    Donald Trump may be the first U.S. president with no prior political or military experience, but clues from Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg suggest he might not be the last.

  • Zuckerberg could run Facebook while serving in government forever

    Mark Zuckerberg is not limited to just two years working in the government while still controlling Facebook, as has been widely misreported. A closer examination of SEC documents reveals Zuck only needs to still own enough Facebook stock or have the board’s approval to be allowed to serve in government indefinitely.

    Combined with Zuckerberg’s announcement yesterday that his 2017 personal challenge is to meet and listen to people in all 50 states, this fact lends weight to the idea that Zuckerberg may be serious about diving into politics.

    Without the limit, Zuckerberg has the opportunity to be appointed or elected to a more significant office and have as much time as he wants to make an impact, rather than just dipping in potentially as a cabinet member whose terms typically last less than two years.

  • Twitter Co-Founder Ev Williams’ Medium Cuts One-Third of Staff

    Medium, the online publishing company started by Twitter co-founder Ev Williams, is changing its business model and cutting a third of its staff.

    The company, which has raised $132 million in venture capital from investors including Greylock Partners and Andreessen Horowitz, relied on the same model as other media companies to make money: placing ads on articles. In a blog post Wednesday, Williams called that model “broken,” because it serves the goals of corporations and not the readers of content.

  • Twitter confirms that Vine will shut down on 17 January

    SOCIAL NETWORK Twitter has confirmed that its Vine video service will close on 17 January.

    The plan to close the video-looping service was announced last year, but this is the first time a set date for the closure has been confirmed.

    “On January 17 the Vine app will become the Vine Camera. We will notify you through the app before this happens,” Twitter said.

    The ‘Vine Camera’ that will still allow you to make videos of up to 6.5 seconds in length that can then be saved to the camera roll or posted to Twitter.

  • WhatsApp block about to stop older iPhones and Android handsets working with popular chat app

    Many WhatsApp users are about to find themselves cut off from using the hugely popular chat app.

    Users of older iPhones and Android handsets are to find the app has stopped working after it said it would stop support from the end of the 2016.

    WhatsApp said that the move had been made to ensure that the app could continue to introduce new features and stay secure, which relies on the app being used on newer operating systems. But it has been criticised by many users, particularly those in developing markets where both the app and older handsets are popular.

  • Fired Snap Employee Sues, Saying Company Inflated Growth Stats

    Snap Inc. was sued by a former employee who says the company, parent of the Snapchat social-media app, was inflating growth metrics ahead of a planned initial public offering.

    Anthony Pompliano, who was hired from Facebook Inc. in 2015 to focus on user growth and engagement, said he was fired after he refused to go along with the figures that made the company look better than it actually was, according to a complaint filed Wednesday in Los Angeles County Superior Court. The court document redacts information about the disputed metrics.

  • Science

    • Noam Chomsky: You can’t educate yourself by looking things up online

      Fake news has been around long before Facebook, but it was the tech company’s goal to appear like a newspaper that eventually misled its users far more than ever before.

      “Technology is basically neutral,” author Noam Chomsky explained. “It’s kinda like a hammer . . . the hammer doesn’t care whether you use it to build a house or a torturer uses it to crush somebody’s skull . . . same with modern technology [like] the internet. The internet is extremely valuable if you know what you’re looking for.”

      Unfortunately, that’s almost the antithesis of Facebook. And while Paper, the ad-free Facebook news feed app ultimately failed, the social media network had by then successfully developed tools like Smart Publishing. The latter tool for publishers aimed to boost stories on Facebook that were popular with the user’s own network, amplifying the performance of fake news in a scandal-obsessed hyperpartisan era. But until five weeks after the election, there was little distinction on the platform between “news” published by conspiracy theorists and actual trusted news sources.

  • Hardware

    • COM Express modules build on Intel’s Kaby Lake

      MSC announced a pair of Linux-ready COM Express Compact and Basic modules built around Intel’s 7th Gen “Kaby Lake” U and EQ/E series, respectively.

    • Qualcomm Says It Shipped More Than A Billion IoT Chips

      To this date, Qualcomm has shipped over a billion of Internet of Things (IoT) chipsets, the San Diego-based semiconductor manufacturer revealed on Tuesday. While speaking at the CES Unveiled press event yesterday, the company’s Senior Vice President of Product Management Raj Talluri said that the firm is already serving all segments of the IoT industry, from smart TVs and thermostats to connected speakers, wearables, and home assistants. Talluri specifically pointed out that smartphones and tablets aren’t included in the one billion figure.

    • Apple’s 2016 in review

      This has been the winter of our discontent. 2016 was the year the tone changed. There’s always been a lot of criticism and griping about anything Apple does (and doesn’t do — it can’t win) but in 2016 I feel like the tone of the chatter about Apple changed and got a lot more negative.

      This is worrisome on a number of levels and I’ve been thinking about it a lot. I’m used to watching people kvetch about the company, but this seems — different. One reason: a lot of the criticisms are correct.

      Apple, for the first time in over a decade, simply isn’t firing on all cylinders. Please don’t interpret that as “Apple is doomed” because it’s not, but there are things it’s doing a lot less well than it could — and has. Apple’s out of sync with itself.

      Here are a few of the things I think indicate Apple has gotten itself out of kilter and is in need of some course correction.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • GOP will strip Planned Parenthood of funding while repealing ACA

      As Republican lawmakers eagerly prepare to scrap President Obama’s signature healthcare legislation, the Affordable Care Act, they’ve announced that while doing so, they’ll also strip funding from Planned Parenthood.

      In a press conference Thursday, House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) confirmed that “Planned Parenthood legislation would be in our reconciliation bill” when asked about potential defunding. The reconciliation bill is the budgetary tool that Republicans plan to use to dismantle the ACA with a simple majority and without the potential for a filibuster. A straight repeal would require a 60-vote supermajority in the Senate, which the Republicans don’t have. A straight repeal would also open the possibility of a filibuster. (For more on how that process would work, check out Ars’ previous coverage on this matter.)

  • Security

    • KillDisk Ransomware Now Targets Linux, Prevents Boot-Up, Has Faulty Encryption
    • KillDisk now targeting Linux: Demands $250K ransom, but can’t decrypt
    • lecture: What could possibly go wrong with (insert x86 instruction here)? [Ed: video]

      Hardware is often considered as an abstract layer that behaves correctly, just executing instructions and outputting a result. However, the internal state of the hardware leaks information about the programs that are executing. In this talk, we focus on how to extract information from the execution of simple x86 instructions that do not require any privileges. Beyond classical cache-based side-channel attacks, we demonstrate how to perform cache attacks without a single memory access, as well as how to bypass kernel ASLR. This talk does not require any knowledge about assembly. We promise.

      When hunting for bugs, the focus is mostly on the software layer. On the other hand, hardware is often considered as an abstract layer that behaves correctly, just executing instructions and outputing a result. However, the internal state of the hardware leaks information about the programs that are running. Unlike software bugs, these bugs are not easy to patch on current hardware, and manufacturers are also reluctant to fix them in future generations, as they are tightly tied with performance optimizations.

    • 8 Docker security rules to live by

      Odds are, software (or virtual) containers are in use right now somewhere within your organization, probably by isolated developers or development teams to rapidly create new applications. They might even be running in production. Unfortunately, many security teams don’t yet understand the security implications of containers or know if they are running in their companies.

      In a nutshell, Linux container technologies such as Docker and CoreOS Rkt virtualize applications instead of entire servers. Containers are superlightweight compared with virtual machines, with no need for replicating the guest operating system. They are flexible, scalable, and easy to use, and they can pack a lot more applications into a given physical infrastructure than is possible with VMs. And because they share the host operating system, rather than relying on a guest OS, containers can be spun up instantly (in seconds versus the minutes VMs require).

    • Zigbee Writes a Universal Language for IoT

      The nonprofit Zigbee Alliance today unveiled dotdot, a universal language for the Internet of Things (IoT).

      The group says dotdot takes the IoT language at Zigbee’s application layer and enables it to work across different networking technologies.

    • $25,000 Prize Offered in FTC IoT Security Challenge

      It appears as if the Federal Trade Commission is getting serious about Internet of Things security issues — and it wants the public to help find a solution. The FTC has announced a contest it’s calling the “IoT Home Inspector Challenge.” What’s more, there’s a big payoff for the winners, with the Top Prize Winner receiving up to $25,000 and each of a possible three “honorable Mentions” getting $3,000. Better yet, winners don’t have to fork over their intellectual property rights, and will retain right to their submissions.

      Of course, the FTC is a federal agency, and with a change of administrations coming up in a couple of weeks, it hedges its bet a bit with a caveat: “The Sponsor retains the right to make a Prize substitution (including a non-monetary award) in the event that funding for the Prize or any portion thereof becomes unavailable.” In other words, Obama has evidently given the go-ahead, but they’re not sure how Trump will follow through.

    • LG threatens to put Wi-Fi in every appliance it releases in 2017

      In the past few years, products at CES have increasingly focused on putting the Internet in everything, no matter how “dumb” the device in question is by nature. It’s how we’ve ended up with stuff like this smart hairbrush, this smart air freshener, these smart ceiling fans, or this $100 pet food bowl that can order things from Amazon.

    • Ex-MI6 Boss: When It Comes To Voting, Pencil And Paper Are ‘Much More Secure’ Than Electronic Systems

      Techdirt has been worried by problems of e-voting systems for a long time now. Before, that was just one of our quaint interests, but over the last few months, the issue of e-voting, and how secure it is from hacking, specifically hacking by foreign powers, has become a rather hot topic. It’s great that the world has finally caught up with Techdirt, and realized that e-voting is not just some neat technology, and now sees that democracy itself is at play. The downside is that because the stakes are so high, the level of noise is too, and it’s really hard to work out how worried we should be about recent allegations, and what’s the best thing to do on the e-voting front.

    • Five things that got broken at the oldest hacking event in the world

      Chaos Communications Congress is the world’s oldest hacker conference, and Europe’s largest. Every year, thousands of hackers gather in Hamburg to share stories, trade tips and discuss the political, social and cultural ramifications of technology.

      As computer security is a big part of the hacker world, they also like to break things. Here are five of the most important, interesting, and impressive things broken this time.

  • Defence/Aggression

    • Gunshot wounds are contagious; bullets spread like the flu, study finds

      With our news reports speaking of gunfire epidemics, outbreaks, and plagues, firearm violence often sounds like a disease. But according to a new study, it often acts like one, too. In fact, catching a bullet may be a little like catching a cold—albeit a really bad one.

      Gun violence can ripple through social networks and communities just like an infectious germ, Harvard and Yale researchers reported Monday in JAMA Internal Medicine. This may not seem surprising, because earlier work has found that gun violence often clusters in certain areas and groups, particularly those steeped in gangs and drugs. But this study is the first to show that gun violence spreads directly from person to person after shootings—it’s not just about growing up in the same rough neighborhood or having the same risk factors.

      The finding is good news, because, after decades of research, scientists are pretty good at predicting how infections cascade through populations. Applying disease-based theories and simulations to gun violence could help health workers get ahead of bullets and intervene before violence spreads. A more informed strategy could also cut down on intervention tactics that “rest largely on geographic or group-based policing efforts that tend to disproportionately affect disadvantaged minority communities,” the authors argue.

    • US Special Operations Forces Deploy to 138 Nations, 70 Percent of the World’s Countries

      They could be found on the outskirts of Sirte, Libya, supporting local militia fighters, and in Mukalla, Yemen, backing troops from the United Arab Emirates. At Saakow, a remote outpost in southern Somalia, they assisted local commandos in killing several members of the terror group al-Shabab. Around the cities of Jarabulus and Al-Rai in northern Syria, they partnered with both Turkish soldiers and Syrian militias, while also embedding with Kurdish YPG fighters and the Syrian Democratic Forces. Across the border in Iraq, still others joined the fight to liberate the city of Mosul. And in Afghanistan, they assisted indigenous forces in various missions, just as they have every year since 2001.

      For America, 2016 may have been the year of the commando. In one conflict zone after another across the northern tier of Africa and the Greater Middle East, US Special Operations forces (SOF) waged their particular brand of low-profile warfare. “Winning the current fight, including against the Islamic State, al-Qaeda, and other areas where SOF is engaged in conflict and instability, is an immediate challenge,” the chief of US Special Operations Command (SOCOM), General Raymond Thomas, told the Senate Armed Services Committee last year.

    • Potential New FCC Boss Blames Obama For The Washington Post’s Botched Russian Utility Hacking Story

      We’ve noted how one of Trump’s top telecom advisors is Jeffrey Eisenach, a long-time Verizon consultant and aggressive opponent of net neutrality. Eisenach’s one of three Trump advisors who have made it clear their top priority in the new administration will be to not only gut net neutrality, but to defang and defund the FCC as a consumer watchdog on telecom issues. Eisenach isn’t just an advisor, he’s also on the shortlist to be the next head of an agency he doesn’t believe in.

      But when Eisenach isn’t busy dreaming about dismantling net neutrality, he can apparently be found writing logically incoherent op-eds over at the Wall Street Journal. In a strange little tirade posted on January 3, Eisenach quite correctly ridicules the Washington Post’s recent false claim that Russians were busy hacking U.S. utilities. In short, a piece of common malware was found on one PC, and because the Washington Post couldn’t be bothered to even call the company in question, the paper created a bogus narrative, based entirely on anonymous sources, that casually pushed the country closer to war.

    • ‘Jihad! Jihad!’ Migrant gang turns Swedish city into war zone

      Photographer Freddy Mardell was planning on enjoying an evening out on Saturday when the mob launched their rampage in Malmo.

      Describing scenes of horror, the Swede said one thug was calling for “jihad” while standing on top of a car in the city centre.

      Mr Mardell told Friatider: “An Arab jumped on the roof of a car and yelled ‘Jihad! Jihad!’ repeatedly.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • Emails were leaked, not hacked

      It has been several weeks since the New York Times reported that “overwhelming circumstantial evidence” led the CIA to believe that Russian President Vladimir Putin “deployed computer hackers” to help Donald Trump win the election. But the evidence released so far has been far from overwhelming.

      The long anticipated Joint Analysis Report issued by the Department of Homeland Security and the FBI on Dec. 29 met widespread criticism in the technical community. Worse still, some of the advice it offered led to a very alarmist false alarm about supposed Russian hacking into a Vermont electric power station.

      Advertised in advance as providing proof of Russian hacking, the report fell embarrassingly short of that goal. The thin gruel that it did contain was watered down further by the following unusual warning atop page 1: “DISCLAIMER: This report is provided ‘as is’ for informational purposes only. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) does not provide any warranties of any kind regarding any information contained within.”

    • Sputnik, RT – Grave Concern of Infamous Liar James Clapper
  • Finance

    • Fat Cat Wednesday: Top executives have already earned the average worker’s entire annual salary

      Senior executives have already made more money in 2017 than the average British worker will earn all year, new research shows.

      The High Pay Centre has dubbed today “Fat Cat Wednesday”, after finding that bosses will rake in the median salary of £28,200 by midday.

      With average hourly salaries of £1,000 an hour it has taken less than three days to out-earn the typical worker. Meanwhile the national living wage stands at £7.20 per hour.

    • EU’s Brexit strategy: Grab the popcorn

      Why should the European Union jump into the Brexit fight, when the United Kingdom is doing such a great job of fighting itself?

      For Brussels, the surprise resignation Tuesday of Sir Ivan Rogers, the U.K.’s seasoned and well-respected ambassador to the EU, provided the most dramatic and forceful validation yet of the bloc’s discipline in insisting that negotiations would not begin until the formal triggering of Article 50.

      Over the half-year since the vote in favor of Brexit, leaders of the remaining EU27 have watched, with dismay, and no small amount of disbelief, as Britain battled itself: the resignation of Prime Minister David Cameron; the messy in-fighting among Tories to replace him; the disintegration of the UKIP leadership, which led to a physical altercation in the European Parliament; and every manner of dispute and disagreement over whether Brexit should be hard or soft, quick or gradual, blah, blah, blah.

    • Corporations Prepare to Gorge on Tax Cuts Trump Claims Will Create Jobs

      The official line from U.S.-based multinational corporations is that if they get a huge tax break, they’ll bring home the trillions of dollars in profits they’ve stashed overseas and use it to hire tons of Americans. (Nearly 3 million, says the U.S. Chamber of Commerce!)

      But now that Donald Trump’s election means it might really happen, corporate executives are telling Wall Street analysts what they’ll actually use that money for: enriching their shareholders and buying other companies.

      The Intercept’s examination of dozens of earnings calls and investor conference talks since Trump won the presidential election finds that many executives are telling analysts at large banks that they are eager to take the money to increase dividends and stock buybacks as well as snap up competitors. They demonstrate considerably less if any enthusiasm for going on a domestic hiring spree.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Bernie Sanders Brings Giant Printout of a Donald Trump Tweet to Senate Floor

      Bernie Sanders spoke on the Senate floor on Wednesday to urge Donald Trump to veto any cuts to Social Security, Medicare or Medicaid—and used one of the President-elect’s own tweets to prove his point.

      As lawmakers debated the repeal of Obamacare, Sanders pointed out that Trump had previously said he would not cut the services through a giant printout of a tweet dating to May 2015.

      “I was the first & only potential GOP candidate to state there will be no cuts to Social Security, Medicare & Medicaid,” Trump claimed at the time. “Huckabee copied me.”

    • GOP-style obstruction won’t work for Democrats: Column

      On Inauguration Day in 2009, top Republican leaders and strategists gathered for a private dinner at the Caucus Room restaurant to discuss how they were going to obstruct and derail Barack Obama’s presidency. It wasn’t a policy dinner about their ideological concerns, Robert Draper wrote in his 2012 book about the GOP-run House. It was a political dinner about obstruction as a tactic.

      Today, many Democrats — myself included — are asking whether our party leaders need to have a similar dinner on Jan. 20 to discuss how we can obstruct and oppose every move by the Trump administration.

      The theory goes that Republican obstruction was successful at stymieing the Obama administration, and that the strategy led to the GOP’s electoral successes. Some feel we should take it straight from their playbook and use it against them. I get the feeling. It’s partially an emotional reaction to this election and to eight years of unmitigated and unjustified obstruction.

    • The Confirmation Process Is an Opportunity to Expose Trump’s Big Lie

      Donald Trump’s reign of ruin began even before his inauguration, when the GOP House caucus voted to geld the independent Office of Congressional Ethics before its members were even sworn in, only to retreat in the face of public outcry and (ironically) Trump tweets. Once Congress convenes, the first order of business will be a reconciliation bill that would begin the repeal of the Affordable Care Act without a plan to replace it. The first skirmishes will come as Senate committees commence hearings on the billionaires, generals, and ideologues that Trump has chosen for his cabinet.

      Trump’s choices—economist Simon Johnson characterizes them as rule by “extreme oligarchy”—personify the president-elect’s own bait-and-switch, from the fake populist of the campaign trail to country-club reactionary. Their shared priorities include deep top-end tax cuts, wholesale deregulation of public protections, and the privatization of public services. They claim these measures will spark growth and generate jobs. In fact, they’ll open up a new era of predation, with CEOs salivating at the chance to gorge themselves on the public dime. At risk are the essential public services and protections on which Americans depend.

    • Glenn Greenwald on “Dearth of Evidence” Linking Russia to WikiLeaks Release of DNC Emails

      We speak with Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter Glenn Greenwald as the Senate Armed Services Committee holds a hearing on alleged Russian cyber-attacks and top intelligence officials are briefing President Obama on a review of evidence that Russia hacked the email servers of the Democratic National Committee. President-elect Trump will be briefed on Friday. This comes as he is supporting statements by WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange that Russia was not the source for the mass leak of emails from the Democratic Party.

    • Debugging Democracy

      I began writing this column on November 9, 2016, on the balcony of a hotel in Istanbul, while a call to prayer echoed through the streets below. I took that as good advice, because a few hours earlier my country elected an Internet troll, Donald Trump, as its president Perhaps by now we’re calling this day 11/9, in the mold of 9/11. I’m an optimistic guy, but color me pessimistic about where my country is now heading, led by a world-class narcissist.

      And forgive me for obsessing not only about where this is going, but how we got here. Our country has been hacked, and that matters.

      Disclosure: I’m a political independent, and not a fan of Hillary Clinton, though I thought she was the only sensible choice, given Trump’s shortcomings, many of which should have disqualified him, flat out. But he won. Why?

    • The agony and the ecstasy of Kurt Eichenwald

      Amid the uproar of Donald Trump’s seemingly impossible rise to the highest office in the land, liberals hungered for an authoritative voice. They found it in Newsweek writer Kurt Eichenwald, a former Republican who regularly deals in histrionics, bombast, and questionable ethics. Eichenwald, whose self-hyped pieces have nary broken news, has become infamous both for his wrongness and for his regular Twitter meltdowns. And yet, he has more than 200,000 followers on Twitter, a legion of influential fans, and is a frequent guest on cable news. Why has a bad and possibly corrupt journalist become a voice of the left? In all of his essence, Kurt Eichenwald is the journalist that the left deserves, and maybe it’s time for his wild media ride to end.

      Eichenwald had a strong start as a newsman. He worked at The New York Times for more than 20 years, where he had a decorated career covering Wall Street, malpractice in kidney dialysis facilities, for-profit hospitals, and the fall of Enron. His run might have been remembered as a triumph of solid journalism, with Eichenwald cast as a modern Upton Sinclair. But, much like H. L. Mencken’s reporting on the Scopes Trial was later tarnished by his anti-Semitism, Eichenwald’s mainstream success led to a dramatic and tawdry fall that served to reduce his accomplishments to little more than a footnote.

    • FBI says Democrats refused access to hacked email servers

      The Democratic National Committee rebuffed requests by federal agents to inspect computer servers that had been breached last year during the presidential campaign, forcing them to rely on third-party cybersecurity data to investigate the hack, the FBI said.

      The revelation came hours before U.S. intelligence chiefs are set to brief President-elect Donald Trump on their assessment that Russia was behind the attack. On Capitol Hill Thursday, they rejected Trump’s repeated skepticism about their findings that senior Russian officials were to blame for the hacking and leaks of emails from Democratic officials and organizations backing Hillary Clinton.

    • Assange: Governments Lie & WikiLeaks Wants to Expose the Truth

      WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange says that governments, including here in the U.S., regularly lie and use propaganda to manipulate the minds of their citizens.

      In a “Hannity” exclusive interview, Assange said the goal of WikiLeaks is to expose that truth to people, without any political agenda.

      Assange explained that the media failed to do that during the U.S. election process because the majority of them felt like they were part of the same system as the Washington establishment.

    • Assange’s Advice for Trump: Learn From Democrats’ Mistakes

      WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange believes that the Democratic Party must have a “reformation” after a disastrous showing in the 2016 election.

      In an exclusive interview with Sean Hannity, Assange said that Democrats still haven’t come to terms with why they did so poorly.

      He said they must accept that they alienated voters by “rigging” the presidential primary process and not picking the strongest candidate.

    • The Coming State of Fear

      Despite not even being installed in office yet, the soon-to-be-leader of the United States brazenly deployed the platform to carry out government contracting cronyism, call for the imprisonment of flag-burners, and get death-threats rained down upon a unionist who contradicted one of the incoming administration’s best narratives.

      Trump, somehow, has managed to now top all these by using Twitter to announce the advent of a new nuclear arms race – a Cold War 2.0 against, oddly enough, Vladimir Putin.

      Every step Trump has taken since election day has confirmed many of the worst fears of anarchists and libertarians. This latest maneuver is a continuation, for nuclear arms build-up is one of the gravest threats to the possibility of a stateless society. It not only casts long-term doubts on the survivability of the human civilization (or even the species, for that matter); in the short-term it reinforces all the worst and repressive elements of the state. This stems from the undeniable fact that the mere presence of the nuclear weapon is little more than an act of state-sponsored terrorism. It exists solely to provoke fear, anxiety, existential dread. The crude and atrocious actions committed by the United States at the end of the Second World War hang like a pall over any arms build-up. To create a single nuclear weapon is to spell out a warning to the world: we will flatten your cities and incinerate your countryside. We will turn your citizens into dust.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • The End of Democracy in Turkey

      Following the New Year’s Eve attack in Istanbul, democracy in Turkey is likely to enter a death spiral. The issue isn’t the attack itself, terrible as it was. On New Year’s Eve, a lone gunman made his way into the Reina dance club, which was jammed with revellers, and opened fire with an assault rifle, killing thirty-nine people and wounding dozens. The shooter has not yet been identified, but, in an Internet posting, the Islamic State claimed that one of its soldiers had done the job. In its typical deranged language, the group said that it had happily struck the revellers, “turning their joy into sorrows.” The attack, the group said, was in retaliation for air strikes and other military operations carried out by the “Turkish apostate government” against ISIS in Syria.

      If the shooting were an isolated event, the effect on Turkish society would probably be minimal. But it was the latest in a series of violent attacks against the Turkish state, which has prompted sweeping retaliatory measures that have seriously undermined Turkish democracy. Sunday morning’s massacre will no doubt trigger another wave of detentions and arrests.

    • Italy Urges Europe To Begin Censoring Free Speech On The Internet

      First it was the US, then Germany blamed much of what is wrong in society on “fake news”, and not, say, a series of terrible decisions made by politicians. Now it is Italy’s turn to call for an end to “fake news”, which in itself would not be troubling, however, the way Giovanni Pitruzzella, head of the Italian competition body, demands the European Union “cracks down” on what it would dub “fake news” is nothing short of a total crackdown on all free speech, and would give local governments free reign to silence any outlet that did not comply with the establishment propaganda.

      In an interview with the FT, Pitruzzella said the regulation of false information on the internet was best done by the state rather than by social media companies such as Facebook, an approach taken previously by Germany, which has demanded that Facebook end “hate speech” and has threatened to find the social network as much as €500K per “fake” post.

      Pitruzzella, head of the Italian competition body since 2011, said “EU countries should set up independent bodies — co-ordinated by Brussels and modeled on the system of antitrust agencies — which could quickly label fake news, remove it from circulation and impose fines if necessary.”

      In other words, a series of unelected bureaucrats, unaccountable to anyone, would sit down and between themselves decide what is and what isn’t “fake news”, and then, drumroll, “remove it from circulation.” On the other hand, coming one week after Obama give Europe the green light to engage in any form of censorship and halt of free speech that it desires, when the outgoing US president voted into law the “Countering Disinformation And Propaganda Act”, it should come as no surprise that a suddenly emboldened Europe is resorting to such chilling measures.

    • Apple bows to government demands and removes the New York Times from Chinese App Store

      APPLE HAS bowed to the demands of Chinese authorities and removed the New York Times from its Chinese App Store.

      According to a report at, er, the New York Times, Apple removed both the English-language and Chinese-language apps from the App Store in China on 23 December, and said the move came as part of a wider attempt by the Chinese government to prevent readers in the country from accessing independent news coverage.

      “The request by the Chinese authorities to remove our apps is part of their wider attempt to prevent readers in China from accessing independent news coverage by the New York Times of that country, coverage which is no different from the journalism we do about every other country in the world,” a spokesperson for the newspaper said.

      Apple said they had been informed the app violated Chinese regulations but did not say what rules had been broken.

    • China Internet Censorship: New York Times Apps Removed
    • Apple removes New York Times app in China
    • New York Times App Removed From App Store in China
    • Apple pulls NYT apps from China’s App Store to comply with “local regulations”
    • Single Choke Point Problems: Apple Removes NY Times App From Chinese App Store After Chinese Gov’t Complains
    • Censorship tool built as Facebook eyes China: report
    • Self-Proclaimed Inventor of Email Files Defamation Lawsuit Against Techdirt’s Mike Masnick

      Techdirt founder Mike Masnick will be going toe-to-toe in court with Charles Harder, the Hollywood attorney who famously represented Hulk Hogan in the sex tape lawsuit that brought down Gawker.

      On Wednesday, Harder’s client Shiva Ayyadurai filed a $15 million libel lawsuit in Massachusetts against Masnick, Leigh Beadon and Techdirt parent company Floor64 Inc. over articles that doubted Ayyadurai’s claim to have invented email.

      Ayyadurai previously sued Gawker in a lawsuit that many suspected was funded by Silicon Valley billionaire Peter Thiel. Ayyadurai recently settled the claim for $750,000. He and Harder now have a new legal target.

      For Techdirt, Masnick writes a wonky tech policy blog that has earned a loyal following for taking strong stances on issues like copyright, net neutrality, security issues and other topics. His name provokes eye-rolling among many studio lawyers thanks to his frequently hostile attitude toward aggressive intellectual property actions. He was one of the noisiest antagonists toward the Stop Online Piracy Act a few years ago. He’s also credited with coining the term, “The Streisand Effect,” to describe the phenomenon of how attempts to censor information often lead to more awareness of the very information someone is trying to hide. The phrase came after entertainer Barbara Streisand aimed more than a decade ago to suppress photographic images of her Malibu, Calif., residence.

    • ‘Inventor of Email’ Slaps Tech Site With $15M Libel Suit for Mocking His Claim

      A self-proclaimed inventor of email, Dr. Shiva Ayyadurai, has taken exception to doubts about his accomplishment by a website called TechDirt, and chosen to file a $15 million defamation suit against the site and its founder, Mike Masnick.

      The case is likely to raise alarm in media circles because Ayyadurai is being represented by Charles Harder, a Beverly Hills attorney. Harder became famous by directing a stealth legal campaign—bankrolled by billionaire Peter Thiel—against Gawker Media that ultimately drove the website into bankruptcy with a $140 million Florida jury verdict.

      In the new lawsuit filed on Wednesday in Boston, Ayyadurai claims that a series of posts on TechDirt amount to libel—in part because the posts call Ayyadurai a “fake email inventor” and a “fraudster” and calls his claims to have invented the technology “bogus.”

    • Free Speech in 2017: Is the Town Square Model of Democracy Dead?

      A year ago, preparing to teach my undergraduate free speech class I found myself questioning free speech fundamentalism. Struck by the unseemly reality of free expression and the unsettling insights of Kelefah Sanneh in The Hell You Say, the simple comforting notion that more speech is always better than less speech seemed suspect.

      Now, one must question the very assumptions of U.S. First Amendment (1A) jurisprudence, which have been laid bare by “post-truth” politics, in which the very concepts of truth and reality have been trumped. In 2016, volume prevailed over reason, and feelings over facts (for more, see here). A cynical carnival barker hoodwinked the citizenry, begging the question: Is the town square model of democracy dead?

    • IMDb Asks Court to Prohibit Enforcement of Actor Age Censorship Law

      Internet movie hub IMDb is asking the court to prohibit the enforcement of a new law that bars it from displaying an actor’s age on its site if the actor doesn’t want it posted.

      The controversial law was signed by California Gov. Jerry Brown in September. Its goal is to mitigate age discrimination in a youth-obsessed Hollywood, but since its passing it has been widely criticized as unconstitutional. IMDb sued California Attorney General Kamala Harris in November, arguing that the law chills free speech rather than addressing the root causes of age discrimination.

    • Sen. Tom Cotton Slams Apple Over China Censorship And FBI Dispute
    • When Facebook nixed a naughty Neptune
    • Facebook bans image of 16th-century statue’s buttocks for being “explicitly sexual”
    • Shoddy Facebook censorship strikes again as an image of sea god Neptune is deemed innapropriate
  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • FTC takes D-Link to court citing lax product security, privacy perils

      The FTC, in a complaint filed in the Northern District of California charged that “D-Link failed to take reasonable steps to secure its routers and Internet Protocol (IP) cameras, potentially compromising sensitive consumer information, including live video and audio feeds from D-Link IP cameras.”

      For its part, D-Link Systems said it “is aware of the complaint filed by the FTC. D-Link denies the allegations outlined in the complaint and is taking steps to defend the action. The security of our products and protection of our customers private data is always our top priority.”

    • WikiLeaks data reveals close cooperation between German intelligence and NSA

      The German foreign secret service (BND) has not only delivered data to the US intelligence services on a massive scale, it has also worked directly with the NSA in developing detection software. This has been confirmed by extensive data published by the WikiLeaks platform at the beginning of December. It documents the close cooperation between German and American intelligence agencies and reveals new details.

      The data contains about 90 gigabytes of information. It consists of a total of 2,420 files, which were forwarded in 2015 to the German parliamentary committee that is currently investigating the activities of the intelligence services. According to WikiLeaks, the data originates from several German federal authorities, including the Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND), the Federal Office for Constitutional Protection (BfV) and the Federal Office for Information Security (BSI).

    • Top NSA defender departs agency

      Curtis Dukes, the top cyber defender at the National Security Agency, is leaving the agency for a leadership post at the Center for Internet Security, a not-for-profit cybersecurity organization.

      Dukes, who headed up the NSA’s Information Assurance Directorate, was bumped down the NSA org chart a bit during a recent reorganization – one of the biggest in its history – that combined the agency’s offensive and defensive capabilities and personnel.

    • NSA: Russia Is the Top U.S. Competitor in Cyberspace
    • It’s Now Clearer Than Ever That Snowden’s No Hero and Deserves No Pardon From Obama
    • Snowden and Vanunu: Spies, Whistleblowers, Movies and Books
    • Why President Obama Can’t Pardon Edward Snowden

      On September 14, 2016, days before the premiere of Oliver Stone’s hagiographic movie Snowden, Human Rights Watch, the American Civil Liberties Union and Amnesty International launched a well-funded campaign, with full-page ads in The New York Times, imploring President Barack Obama to pardon Edward Snowden, a former contract worker at the National Security Agency, for stealing a vast number of secret documents. “I think Oliver will do more for Snowden in two hours than his lawyers have been able to do in three years,” said Snowden’s ACLU lawyer, Ben Wizner.

    • 29 Percent Of Americans Say Snowden Should Be Prosecuted

      A poll by the Economist indicated Wednesday only 29 percent of Americans want to see National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden prosecuted for stealing secrets, and 30 percent would support pardoning him.

      Snowden has been in Russian exile since 2013 when he leaked hundreds of classified documents published by the Guardian, Washington Post, Der Spiegel, the New York Times and WikiLeaks. He faces two counts of violating the Espionage Act of 1917.

    • End-to-End Encrypted group chats via XMPP

      It’s been over a year since my colleagues and I at the Progressive Technology Project abandoned Skype, first for IRC and soon after for XMPP. Thanks to the talented folks maintaining conversations.im it’s been a breeze to get everyone setup with accounts (8 Euros/year is quite worth it) and a group chat going.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Open letter to the European Parliament on Oettinger hearing

      Next week, you are asked to reply to European Commission President Juncker’s proposal to put Commissioner Günther Oettinger in charge of supervising the EU budget and managing the Human Resources of the European Commission.

      As organisations working towards equality, non-discrimination and campaigning for transparency and ethics, we do not think that Commissioner Oettinger is suitable to oversee Human Resources at the European Commission.

      Commissioner Oettinger has made racist, sexist and homophobic remarks on several occasions in the past, most recently at a speech he gave in an official capacity in Hamburg on 26 October.

      At this crucial moment for the EU, it is more vital than ever to have a strong and credible commitment from the European Commission to counter discrimination and act for equality for all. The Commissioner in charge of human resources must lead by example. He or she should have clear plans for action to make equality for all a reality and speak out against racism, sexism, xenophobia, homophobia and transphobia. How else would they be expected to inspire others to do the same? In our view, Commissioner Oettinger is not the right person for this task.

    • Man killed in Malmö shooting

      Police were called to the Docentgatan street in the southern Swedish city at around 8.30pm on Tuesday after residents in the area reported hearing the sound of gunshots.

    • Woman, 18, found with gunshot wounds in Malmö

      An 18-year-old woman has been taken to hospital after she was found with gunshot wounds in the Rosengård district of Malmö in the early hours of Tuesday.

      Police were called to a shooting at around 3.30am at a falafel restaurant at Västra Kattarpsvägen road in Malmö. When they arrived at the scene they found a woman with gunshot wounds.

    • Image insulting Islam not uploaded on Facebook using Hindu fisherman’s phone: PBI

      The image which led to the attacks on Hindus at Nasirnagar was not uploaded on Facebook from the phone used by a Hindu fisherman accused of ‘insulting Islam’, an investigation has revealed.

      The image was edited on the computer used by one Jahangir Alam, a cyber cafe owner in Harinberh Bazar, according to the Police of Bureau of Investigation.

      But the detectives were not sure if the same computer was used to upload it on the social media site.

    • Jakarta governor lambasts hardliner at blasphemy trial

      Jakarta’s Christian governor today shouted at an Islamic hardliner testifying against him in dramatic scenes at his blasphemy trial, seen as a test of religious tolerance in the world’s most populous Muslim-majority nation.

      Hundreds of supporters and opponents of governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama rowdily traded insults as they rallied outside the hearing in the Indonesian capital, with thousands of police deployed to prevent clashes.

      The first Christian to govern the capital in more than 50 years, Purnama is on trial accused of blasphemy over remarks he made about the Quran while campaigning ahead of February elections for the Jakarta governorship.

      Hundreds of thousands of conservative Muslims have protested against the leader, known by his nickname Ahok, in recent months in the largest demonstrations in Indonesia in years, but he denies insulting Islam and his supporters say the case is politically motivated.

    • Bosnia’s main university suspends classes during Muslim prayers

      Bosnia’s main university will not hold classes during Muslim Friday prayers, prompting criticism from some that it represents a step towards Islamisation.

      The University of Sarajevo this week adopted a plan to halt activities for about an-hour-and-a-half each Friday during Muslim prayers.

    • Bahrain NSA powers limited to terror crimes
    • Bahrain, reversing reform, restores arrest powers to spies
    • Bahrain suspends, investigates 3 officials over prison break
    • Japan to recall envoy from South Korea over ‘comfort women’ statue

      Japan said on Friday it was temporarily recalling its ambassador to South Korea over a statue commemorating Korean women forced to work in Japanese military brothels during World War Two which it said violated an agreement to resolve the issue.

      The two nations agreed in 2015 that the issue of “comfort women”, which has long plagued ties between the two Asian neighbors, would be “finally and irreversibly resolved” if all conditions of the accord – which included a Japanese apology and a fund to help the victims – were met.

      The statue, which depicts a young, barefoot woman sitting in a chair, was erected near the Japanese consulate in the southern South Korean city of Busan at the end of last year.

    • Obama, Deporter in Chief, Should Pardon the Undocumented

      Donald Trump will soon sweep into the office of the U.S. presidency, buttressed by both houses of Congress firmly in Republican control. A wave of regressive executive orders and legislation are already being prepared to ensure that Trump’s first 100 days effectively erase the Obama presidency. Where Trump was once the most prominent “birther,” attempting to deny President Barack Obama’s legitimacy with a racist campaign accusing him of being born in Kenya, Trump now will wield a pen to legally undermine Obama’s legacy. But Barack Obama is still the president of the United States until Jan. 20, and retains the enormous executive powers that the office bestows. That is why a swelling grass-roots movement is now urging Obama to use executive clemency and the presidential pardon to protect the nation’s millions of undocumented immigrants from the mass deportations Trump repeatedly promised on the campaign trail.

    • In the Best Interest of Justice: Former Peltier Prosecutor Joins Urgent Activist Calls For Clemency

      In a “truly extraordinary” and evidently unprecedented act, a former prosecutor of Native American activist Leonard Peltier, now 72, ill, and in his 41st year in prison for a shooting he has unceasingly denied committing, has joined the decades-long demands of legal experts, indigenous leaders and rights advocates to free one of this country’s most high-profile political prisoners. Peltier’s conviction stems from the American Indian Movement’s 1973 siege at South Dakota’s Pine Ridge Reservation, site of the Wounded Knee massacre of Lakota in 1890. After a long occupation protesting the federal government’s unjust treatment and broken treaties, two FBI agents and one Native American were killed. Peltier was eventually found guilty of shooting the agents, and sentenced to two life sentences.

      Peltier remains in prison despite years of legal battles and repeated claims that federal agents lied, coerced witnesses and withheld evidence at his trial; ultimately, the prosecution admitted they couldn’t prove who shot the agents. Peltier attorney and former federal prosecutor Cynthia Dunne calls the FBI’s case “yesterday’s equivalent of a Trump tweet that has lasted for 40 years.” Calling his ongoing imprisonment “one of the greatest injustices in the American justice system,” Dunne and other attorneys filed a clemency request last year to President Obama in hopes he will include Peltier in a final flurry of pardons. Their plea was one of many on behalf of Peltier, from Amnesty International to Standing Rock Sioux Chief Dave Archambault. If Obama fails to act, his attorneys say Peltier will die in prison.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • AT&T Already Backing Off Its Biggest Time Warner Merger Promise: Cheaper TV

      AT&T has spent the last few months fending off critics of its planned $100 million acquisition of Time Warner. Most critics say the company’s ownership of Time Warner will make it harder for streaming competitors to license the content they need to compete. Others warn that AT&T’s decision to zero rate (cap exempt) its own content gives the company’s new DirecTV Now streaming TV service an unfair advantage in the market. That’s before you get to the fundamental fact that letting a company with the endless ethical issues AT&T enjoys get significantly larger likely only benefits AT&T.

    • Ad Industry Wants New FCC Broadband Privacy Rules Gutted Because, Uh, Free Speech!

      We’ve noted repeatedly how Trump’s incoming telecom advisors have made it very clear they not only want to gut net neutrality, but defund and defang the FCC. That means rolling back all manner of other recent FCC policies, like the agency’s recently approved broadband privacy rules. While ISPs and advertisers threw a collective hissy fit about the rules, they really were relatively fundamental; simply requiring that ISPs not only make it clear what’s being collected and who it’s being sold to, but requiring they provide working opt-out tools to broadband subscribers.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Trademarks

      • Trademark Dispute Between Coffee Companies Over ‘Detroit’ Trademark Demonstrates The USPTO’s Carelessness

        It bears repeating: far too many of the trademark disputes we cover here at Techdirt are in large part the fault of a USPTO all too willing to grant trademarks on terms that are overtly either broad or based on geography. One would hope that it went without saying that trademarks, designed to inform the public as to the source of the products they buy, cannot work to that end if the identifying marks are not specific or original within the marketplace. Yet the Trademark Office too often doesn’t seem to consider this when rubber-stamping applications.

    • Copyrights

      • Indian High Court Blocks Rent-Seeking Collection Societies From Seeking Any More Rent

        Once again, we have an entity supposedly looking out for artists doing what it can to prevent artists from earning a living. This is what they won’t be able to do now, thanks to a change in the nation’s copyright law.

        Blocking these societies from collecting performance royalties won’t do much for the artists signed to them. But then again, the collection societies weren’t doing much for artists in the first place. IPRS has been particularly shady. Many royalty collection societies are known for their extremely limited distribution of funds. Those that do pay out more regularly still tend to hand the bulk of it to charting artists, no matter who actually earned it.

      • Court: Fan-Funded Star Trek Film is Not ‘Fair Use’

        The lawsuit between Paramount Pictures and the crowdfunded Star Trek spin-off “Prelude to Axanar” is gearing up for a trial. This week the court ruled on motions for summary judgment from both parties. While the case could still go both ways, the court has decided that the fan-film is not entitled to a fair use defense.

      • What Could Have Entered the Public Domain on January 1, 2017?

        Current US law extends copyright for 70 years after the date of the author’s death, and corporate “works-for-hire” are copyrighted for 95 years after publication. But prior to the 1976 Copyright Act (which became effective in 1978), the maximum copyright term was 56 years—an initial term of 28 years, renewable for another 28 years. Under those laws, works published in 1960 would enter the public domain on January 1, 2017, where they would be “free as the air to common use.” Under current copyright law, we’ll have to wait until 2056.1 And no published works will enter our public domain until 2019. The laws in other countries are different—thousands of works are entering the public domain in Canada and the EU on January 1.


Links 5/1/2017: Inkscape 0.92, GNU Sed 4.3

Posted in News Roundup at 11:27 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish



  • Torturing Tech Support Phone Scammers With Linux

    Darn Linux! I have Windows, too, but I obviously don’t use it nearly enough. When I tell people like Paul I run Linux, they can’t get away from me fast enough. Obviously, if I ran Windows more often, they’d want to keep talking with me and I wouldn’t be so lonely.

    I guess that’s my 2017 New Year’s resolution: to run more Windows so I can make lots of friends who are in the business of supplying bogus computer tech support.

    Or maybe I’ll just go on using Linux most of the time, and if I want to make new friends I’ll go have a drink or two at the Drift Inn, where nobody really cares what operating system I like best. One or the other, anyway.

  • Desktop

    • Snappy vs. Flatpak: Unified Linux Packaging Systems

      Getting Linux applications to run on servers is not always as easy as it should be, thanks to the myriad software packaging formats that various Linux distributions use. Over the course of 2016, two efforts really ramped up to help solve that challenge in the form of Snappy and Flatpak.

      The promise of both Snappy and Flatpak is to deliver an approach that enables software developers to build software once and then have it bundled in a package that can run on multiple distributions. Mark Shuttleworth, founder of Ubuntu Linux, is a big advocate of Snappy.

    • $89 Pinebook Linux Laptop To Go On Sale Next Month

      New details about the $89 Linux ARM laptop have emerged, including a tentative shipping date and warranty details.

    • Endless is bringing its cheap, user-friendly Linux PCs to the US

      The dream of a Linux computer for normal humans is relatively dead. Sure, Google put Linux in billions of hands and homes with Android and Chrome OS, but neither OS is very much like the desktop Linux flavors well-meaning open-source developers have been crafting for decades.

    • Endless introduces Linux mini desktop PCs for American market

      For the past few years Endless Computers has been making inexpensive Linux-based computers designed for use in emerging markets. Last summer the company also started working with PC makers to load its Endless OS software on some computers.

      Now Endless is launching its first products designed specifically for the United States.

    • Endless Unveils Mission Mini and Mission One Computers as the Endless Experience Comes to America
    • Endless expands into the U.S. with $129 Mission Mini and $249 Mission One computers

      Computers have become an important part of our world, especially in the classrooms and at home, but while many can afford these devices — often costing hundreds, if not thousands of dollars — there are still those left behind. Endless Mobile was founded five years ago with the mission to make computing universally accessible, creating an operating system initially targeted toward emerging markets.

    • Closer look at the Mission line of mini PCs from Endless Computers

      The Endless Mission One and Mission Mini desktop computers will be available for pre-order in the US starting January 16th.

      They’re both small, fanless desktop computers that ship with Endless OS, a Linux-based operating system that’s designed to be easy to use, and which comes with tools to help kids (or adults) learn to write code.

    • Endless has a mission: Bring its charmingly cheap Mission One computers to the US

      You and I have a nearly limitless array of computer choices, from massive desktops to slim laptops to entire computers build into something the same size as a USB stick. But in emerging markets, the options are much more limited, both in the hardware available and even in the availability of internet access.

      That’s why I liked the Endless Mini desktop PC we reviewed last year. It was a $79 (approximately £54 or AU$110) desktop in a charming spherical red plastic case, running a custom Linux-based OS. More importantly, it included a ton of educational content pre-loaded, making it a useful tool for students, even without reliable or fast internet access.

    • 2016 The Year Of GNU/Linux On Many Desktops

      It’s not as spectacular as I would like but GNU/Linux has been growing steadily and particularly on weekends at home, I presume, all over 2016. Chrome OS GNU/Linux has really taken share globally. Yes, those are global numbers to the right.

  • Server

    • The DevOps Engineer Is An Optical Illusion

      Developers aren’t the same as operations staff. Financial analysts aren’t engineers, and salespeople aren’t accountants. Transparent communication, the ability to fail safely, and a structure that drives cross-team cooperation will bring everyone together to support the ultimate outcome: happy customers.

    • Keynote: Backstage with Kubernetes by Chen Goldberg, Google
    • How the Kubernetes Community Drives The Project’s Success

      Kubernetes is a hugely popular open source project, one that is in the top percentile on GitHub and that has spawned more than 3,000 other projects. And although the distributed application cluster technology is incredibly powerful in its own right, that’s not the sole reason for its success.

      “We think it’s not just the technology, we think that what makes it special is the community that builds the technology,” said Chen Goldberg, Director of Engineering, Container Engine and Kubernetes at Google, during her keynote at CloudNativeCon in Seattle last November.

    • Does the Container Ecosystem Need a Map?

      At last month’s KubeCon in Seattle, members of the Cloud Native Computing Foundation put forth a chart depicting the various projects, both commercial and open source, that either individually or collectively contributed to its perception of the “cloud native” ecosystem. You might call it, for lack of a more original phrase, a new stack.

    • 6 Container Themes to Track in 2017

      The container craze will turn four next year. Yes, Linux containers have been around longer than that, but the rise of Docker—first released to the public on March 20, 2013—has sparked the surge of interest we’re riding right now.

      It’s a fascinating adolescent phase, as containers not only roll into production but also get acclimated to enterprise needs and bigger-money investors. Here’s a glance at the major themes that surrounded containers in 2016 and are likely to continue into 2017.

  • Audiocasts/Shows

    • FLOSS Weekly 416: FreeDOS

      Jim has been involved in free software / open source software since 1993, when he was still an undergraduate physics student. His first experience was with GNU Emacs, and later he contributed a few patches for GNU Emacs on Apollo/DOMAIN. In 1994, Jim created the FreeDOS Project, and wrote many of the early FreeDOS utilities, extensions, and libraries – including the Cats/Kitten library that provides international language support for many FreeDOS programs. (Cats is short for the Unix Catgets library, and Kitten is an even smaller version of Cats. Get it?)

  • Kernel Space

    • Automotive Grade Linux Moves to UCB 3.0

      The Linux Foundation’s Automotive Grade Linux (AGL) project has released version 3.0 of its open source Unified Code Base (UCB) for automotive infotainment development. Unlike AGL’s UCB 2.0, which was released in July, UCB 3.0 is already being used to develop in-vehicle infotainment (IVI) products, some of which will ship in cars this year.

      The AGL is not saying which companies will ship products first, but notes that UCB 3.0 “has several strong supporters and contributors including Toyota, Mazda, Aisin AW, Continental, Denso, Harman, Panasonic, Qualcomm Technologies, Renesas and many others.” More than 40 new companies have joined AGL in the past year, bringing the member total to more than 80. In addition to Toyota and Mazda, AGL automotive manufacturer members include Ford, Honda, Jaguar Land Rover, Mitsubishi Motors, Nissan, Subaru, and as of last month, Suzuki.

    • Daimler Advances Connected Car Technology through Open Source and Automotive Grade Linux
    • CES 2017: Automotive Grade Linux OTA Solution Ready for Renesas R-Car platform
    • Linux 4.10′s ath9k Driver Should Have Lower Latency & Less Bufferbloat

      As part of the ongoing battle with bufferbloat are some improvements to the ath9k WiFi driver with the Linux 4.10 kernel.

      Bufferbloat is the excess buffering of packets resulting in high latency, jitter, and lower network throughput. We’ve been looking forward to some more bufferbloat improvements with the Linux kernel and its network drivers while there were some ath9k improvements I hadn’t noticed until being pointed out this week by a Phoronix reader.

    • ‘Hackable’ hypervisor provides lightweight virtualization for Windows and Linux

      Linux kernel developer Ahmed Samy has released an open source hypervisor project that aims to be “simple and lightweight.” Thus, he presents KSM, an option for Linux and Windows developers to create everything from software sandboxing tools to more full-blown hypervisor applications.

      In a brief announcement on the Linux kernel development email list, Samy stated that KSM’s purpose “is not to run other kernels” (typically the case with hypervisors), “but more of researching (or whatever) the running kernel, some ideas would be sandboxing, debugging perhaps.”

    • KSM: A Hackable x86_64 Hypervisor For Linux/Windows

      Being announced today on the kernel mailing list is the KSM hypervisor, what’s self-described as “a hackable x86-64 hypervisor.”

      KSM is an out-of-tree x86_64 VT-x hypervisor. The developer Ahmed Samy announced of the project, “KSM’s purpose is not to run other kernels, but more of researching (or whatsoever) the running kernel, some ideas would be sandboxing, debugging perhaps.”

    • A New Proposal For Supporting DRM Linux Drivers In User-Space

      The discussion has come up before about supporting Direct Rendering Manager (DRM) drivers in user-space rather than having to be tied within the Linux kernel while that outlook was reignited today with a new patch series wiring in said support.

    • Graphics Stack

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • Lumina 1.20 Desktop Released

      Lightweight Qt-based Lumina desktop environment is kickstarting its new year in style with a brand new release. We look at what’s new and improved.

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK

      • GTK’s Vulkan Renderer Now Working On Wayland

        The GTK toolkit’s Vulkan renderer continues making quick progress.

        Besides already being faster than their OpenGL renderer, supporting this Vulkan renderer on Windows too, and other improvements, the latest now is that GTK4 with the Vulkan back-end works on Wayland.

      • Librsvg 2.41.0 is released

        This is the first version to have Rust code in it. The public API remains unchanged. Apologies in advance to distros who will have to adjust their build systems for Rust – it’s like taking a one-time vaccine; you’ll be better off in the end for it.

      • GNOME’s SVG Rendering Library Migrating To Rust

        The librsvg library for SVG rendering is up to version 2.41.0 and with this milestone it’s their first release to port some code to Rust while maintaining the same public API.

        The GNOME project’s Librsvg 2.41.0 implements some parts of the library in the Rust programming language rather than C. The developers decided to do this partial Rust migration for better memory safety, nicer built-in abstractions, and easier for unit testing.

  • Distributions

    • New Releases

      • SystemRescueCd 4.9.1 Rescue & Recovery Live CD Lands in 2017 with Linux 4.8.15

        SystemRescueCd creator François Dupoux is also kicking off the new year with a brand-new release of his popular live system developed for system recovery and rescue operations.

        SystemRescueCd 4.9.1 is the first point release to the 4.9 series, which was initially announced at the end of October 2016, and it ships with new kernels. While the standard one was updated to the long-term supported Linux 4.4.39 kernel for both rescue32 and rescue64 editions, the alternative kernel is now Linux 4.8.15.

      • BusyBox 1.26.1 Swiss Army Knife of Linux Hits the Streets as New Stable Series

        When the BusyBox 1.26.0 unstable release launched last month, just before the Christmas holidays, we told you that it would hit the stable channel as soon as the first point release is announced.

        And it happened! BusyBox 1.26.1 was unveiled on January 2, 2017, and it’s now the newest stable series of the Swiss army knife for embedded systems and GNU/Linux distributions. But don’t get too excited because this release is just a formality to inform OS vendors that they can finally update the BusyBox packages, and it looks like it only adds various tweaks to defconfig and addresses issues with single-applet builds.

      • Solus Devs to Focus on Linux Driver Management and Budgie 11 Desktop for Q1 2017

        Now that they’ve launched the long anticipated first ISO snapshot of the Linux-based Solus operating system, which brought many enhancements and updated technologies, the Solus devs announce the roadmap for 2017.

        After reviewing everything they’ve accomplished in 2016, which appears to have been a great year for them, the development team announces that their efforts will be invested in the development of the Linux Driver Management tool with a focus on Nvidia hybrid laptops, as well as the upcoming Budgie 11 desktop environment.

    • Arch Family

    • OpenSUSE/SUSE

      • Life, the universe & openSUSE Leap 42.2

        In the wake of a handful of Linux projects pushing ever closer to consumer desktop adoption (think Ubuntu, Mint Cinnamon, Solus, Arch and Chrome OS)… members of the openSUSE Project have announced the next minor version of Leap — a professional Linux distribution for developers, system administrators… oh and yes, users too.

    • Slackware Family

      • Linux Calculated, Faint Shadow of OpenMandriva, Big Bother Absolutely

        Today in Linux news Blogger DarkDuck said that OpenMandriva has become a faint shadow of its namesake. That was despite getting it to work fairly well. Elsewhere, Techphylum offered a brief overview of Calculate Linux and Jack Germain said Absolute Linux was “the equivalent of driving a stick shift automobile with a crank-to-start mechanism.” OMG!Ubuntu! reported on that 13 foot robot, that was said to be the “soldier of the future” somewhere, is programmed using Ubuntu and Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols warned Linux will become more and more a target of hackers.

    • Red Hat Family

    • Debian Family

      • My Free Software Activities in December 2016

        My monthly report covers a large part of what I have been doing in the free software world. I write it for my donors (thanks to them!) but also for the wider Debian community because it can give ideas to newcomers and it’s one of the best ways to find volunteers to work with me on projects that matter to me.

      • Derivatives

        • Canonical/Ubuntu

          • Overcoming Ubuntu Wi-Fi Not Working

            One of the biggest issues I still see cropping up for Ubuntu (and other distributions) are challenges connecting to Wi-Fi networks. This article will provide actionable solutions to overcome common Ubuntu Wi-Fi issues.

          • Open Source Pioneer Mark Shuttleworth Says Smart “Edge’ Devices Spawn Business Models

            Ubuntu, a version of the Linux computer operating system, runs on many of the servers that power cloud computing. Ubuntu pioneer Mark Shuttleworth founded Canonical Ltd. to sell support for Ubuntu, which is open source software that anyone can use for free. Given the popular use of Ubuntu, Mr. Shuttleworth is in good position to […]

          • Flavours and Variants

            • Redesigned Bluetooth Settings Pane Coming Soon to elementary OS Linux Distro

              elementary OS founder and developer Daniel Foré reports today, January 4, 2017, on the upcoming availability of a revamped, native Bluetooth settings pane that’ll land as a drop-in replacement for GNOME Control Center’s one in the Ubuntu-based distro.

              elementary OS always innovates itself and offers its users all brand-new technologies and a beautiful graphical user interface for various tools. Lately, it would appear that the development team has been working on redesigning the Bluetooth settings pane that can be accessed through the built-in Control Panel inherited from the GNOME Stack. After more than 20 revisions, the new Bluetooth settings pane looks pretty sleek.

  • Devices/Embedded

Free Software/Open Source

  • Toyota and Ford Create Automaker Group to Promote Open Source Smartphone Interfaces

    Ford and Toyota have formed a four-automaker consortium to speed up the deployment of open source software for connected in-car systems, according to a report by Bloomberg on Wednesday.

  • Strange Appfellows: Ford and Toyota Form Open-Source Software Consortium
  • Ford and Toyota release open source tools for in-car apps
  • Ford, Toyota back open-source platform for in-car apps
  • A consortium forms for “open source” vehicle software
  • What storytellers can teach open leaders
  • 5 Ways to Be Successful with Open-Source Software: Hadoop Creator Doug Cutting’s Advice for 2017

    Because of my long-standing association with the Apache Software Foundation, I’m often asked the question, “What’s next for open source technology?” My typical response is variations of “I don’t know” to “the possibilities are endless.”

    Over the past year, we’ve seen open source technology make strong inroads into the mainstream of enterprise technology. Who would have thought that my work on Hadoop ten years ago would impact so many industries – from manufacturing to telecom to finance. They have all taken hold of the powers of the open source ecosystem not only to improve the customer experience, become more innovative and grow the bottom line, but also to support work toward the greater good of society through genomic research, precision medicine and programs to stop human trafficking, as just a few examples.

    Below I’ve listed five tips for folks who are curious about how to begin working with open source and what to expect from the ever-changing ecosystem.

  • 10 steps to innersource in your organization in 2017

    In recent years, an increasing number of organizations, often non-technology companies, have kept a keen eye on open source. Although they may be unable to use open source to the fullest extent in their products and services, they are interested in bringing the principles of open source within the walls of their organization. This “innersource” concept can provide a number of organizational benefits.

    As a consultant who helps build both internal and external communities in companies, I find the major challenge facing organizations is how to put an innersource program in place, deploy resources effectively, and build growth in the program.

  • The 10 Coolest Open Source Products Of 2016

    In 2016, open source products were front-and-center. A number of new offerings in containers, networking, storage and other major areas were among those that debuted during the year.

    During the Red Hat Summit in June – where the theme was “The Power of Participation” – Red Hat president and CEO Jim Whitehurst described the open source movement this way: “Our ability to harness and distill the best ideas will determine human progress for the next century … Our future depends on participation.”

    Here are the 10 coolest open-source products we’ve tracked in 2016.

  • Open Source is Helping to Drive the Artificial Intelligence Renaissance

    We’re only a few days into 2017, and it’s already clear that one of the biggest tech categories of this year will be artificial intelligence. The good news is that open source AI tools are proliferating and making it easy for organizations to leverage them. AI is also driving acquisitions. As Computerworld is reporting, in the past year, at least 20 artificial intelligence companies have been acquired, according to CB Insights, a market analysis firm.

    MIT Technology Review is out with its five big predictions for AI this year. Here is a bit on what they expect, and some of the open source AI tools that you should know about.

  • Is Blockchain the Ultimate Open Source Disruptive Technology?

    Fred Wilson of Union Square Ventures has been talking a lot about the blockchain recently, so I decided to learn more about it. I read the Marketing the Blockchain e-book, watched The Grand Vision of a Crypto-Tech Economy video and the video keynote of Overstock CEO Patrick Byrne at the Bitcoin 2014 conference, and did some more research on my own. While far from an expert, I do see some interesting similarities to the adoption of open source software. Here’s what I’ve learned — please comment and tell me if I’m wrong:

  • Events

  • BSD

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

    • Open Hardware/Modding

      • 9 reasons to certify your products as open source hardware

        The Open Source Hardware Association Certification was created in response to an overwhelming demand for a clearer and more transparent method of identifying and marketing open source hardware products. The purpose of this certification is to provide an easy and straightforward way for producers to indicate that their products meet a uniform and well-defined standard for open source compliance, benefiting both creators and users of these products.

  • Programming/Development

    • Hot Functions for IronFunctions
    • Google Develops Experimental Python Runtime In Golang

      Google’s open-source team today announced Grumpy, a Python runtime written in the Go programming language.

      Google makes use of Python extensively and with concurrent workloads not being a strong suit for CPython and other Python runtimes having their own shortcomings, Google decided to develop the “Grumpy” runtime.

    • Grumpy: Go running Python!

      Google runs millions of lines of Python code. The front-end server that drives youtube.com and YouTube’s APIs is primarily written in Python, and it serves millions of requests per second! YouTube’s front-end runs on CPython 2.7, so we’ve put a ton of work into improving the runtime and adapting our application to work optimally within it. These efforts have borne a lot of fruit over the years, but we always run up against the same issue: it’s very difficult to make concurrent workloads perform well on CPython.

  • Standards/Consortia


  • Science

    • Why Machine Learning Is Hard to Apply to Networking

      Machine learning is becoming a buzzword—arguably an overused one—among companies that deal with networking. Recent announcements have touted machine learning capabilities at Google, Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE), and Nokia, for instance.

    • Expect Deeper and Cheaper Machine Learning

      Last March, Google’s computers roundly beat the world-class Go champion Lee Sedol, marking a milestone in artificial intelligence. The winning computer program, created by researchers at Google DeepMind in London, used an artificial neural network that took advantage of what’s known as deep learning, a strategy by which neural networks involving many layers of processing are configured in an automated fashion to solve the problem at hand.

      Unknown to the public at the time was that Google had an ace up its sleeve. You see, the computers Google used to defeat Sedol contained special-purpose hardware—a computer card Google calls its Tensor Processing Unit.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Bluefin tuna sells for £500,000 at Japan auction amid overfishing concerns

      A bluefin tuna has fetched 74.2m yen (£517,000) at the first auction of the year at Tsukiji market in Tokyo, amid warnings that decades of overfishing by Japan and other countries is taking the species to the brink of extinction.

      The 212kg fish, caught off the coast of Oma in northern Japan, was bought by Kiyomura, the operator of the Sushi Zanmai restaurant chain, after its president, Kiyoshi Kimura, outbid rivals for the sixth year in a row.

  • Security

    • 50 ways to avoid getting hacked in 2017

      “You don’t need to be coy, Roy”

    • Nextcloud 11 Cloud Server Bolsters Security

      NCC Group, a global expert in cyber security and risk mitigation, reviewed the addition of Nextcloud’s new features and noted they “enrich the security layers with minimum impact on the user” and are developed using industry standard security processes (assessed against ISO27001 clause 14 controls). You can read more and download their independent security assurance online and learn more details about the new features in Nextcloud’s blog on security in Nextcloud 11.

    • Android January Security Update Rolling Out Now
    • Android, Debian Linux and Ubuntu Linux top 2016 list of most vulnerable product charts
    • Data: More vulnerabilities found in Google Android than any other program in 2016 [Ed: what about secret patching?]
    • Report Reveals Android had the Most Security Vulnerabilities in 2016
    • Man Has To Beg LG To Uncripple His ‘Smart’ TV After Ransomware Attack

      We’ve noted repeatedly how “smart” television sets have the same security issues plaguing the rest of the internet of broken things: namely there often isn’t any security to speak of. The net result has been TVs that spy on you by recording in-home audio, and in some cases transmitting that data unencrypted around the internet. But we’ve also noted how these TVs — like the rest of the Internet of Things — can be compromised in a matter of moments by some rather rudimentary hacking, then incorporated into the historically unprecedented DDoS attacks we’re now seeing around the world.

      As an added bonus, your smart TV can now be infected by ransomware, too. Software engineer Darren Cauthon found this out the hard way when he awoke on Christmas Day to find that his family’s LG 50GA6400 had been infected with a version of the Cyber.Police ransomware — aka FLocker, Dogspectus, or Frantic Locker. That particular ransomware posts an image to the screen of the television pretending to originate with the FBI, and claiming that users must pay a $500 penalty to return full functionality to the television.

    • Security updates for Wednesday
    • MongoDB Data Being Held For Ransom

      If you’re using MongoDB, you might want to check to make sure you have it configured properly — or better yet, that you’re running the latest and greatest — to avoid finding it wiped and your data being held for ransom.

      A hacker who goes by the name Harak1r1 is attacking unprotected MongoDB installations, wiping their content and installing a ransom note in place of the the stolen data. The cost to get the data returned is 0.2 bitcoin, which comes to about $203. If that sounds cheap, it isn’t. Not if you’re deploying multiple Mongo databases and they all get hit — which has been happening.

  • Defence/Aggression

    • In Syria, Western Media Cheer Al Qaeda

      The Syrian government—a dictatorship known for imprisoning, torturing and disappearing dissidents—is easy to vilify. And over the last five years of Syria’s civil war, it has committed its share of atrocities. But there is more than one side to every story, and US media coverage has mainly reflected one side—that of the rebels—without regard for accuracy or basic context.

      As the Syrian government recaptured East Aleppo from rebels in recent weeks, media outlets from across the political spectrum became rebel mouthpieces, unquestioningly relaying rebel claims while omitting crucial details about who the rebels were.

      Almost always overlooked in the US (and UK) media narrative is the fact that the rebels in East Aleppo were a patchwork of Western- and Gulf-backed jihadist groups dominated by Jabhat Fateh al-Sham (formerly Jabhat al-Nusra)—Al Qaeda’s affiliate in Syria—along with its ally, Ahrar al-Sham (Daily Beast, 8/8/16; Foreign Policy, 9/1/16). These groups are explicitly anti-democratic and have been implicated in human rights violations, from mass execution and child beheadings to using caged religious minorities as human shields.

    • Danger in Democrats Demonizing Putin

      With the Clintons’ corporate money machine floundering after a devastating election defeat, Democrats are desperate to find someone to blame and have dangerously settled on Vladimir Putin, writes Norman Solomon.

    • Requiem for a UN ‘Yes Man’

      Even as much of the world bridled at the U.S. pretensions of “unipolar” power, U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon toed Washington’s line and further undercut the U.N.’s supposed evenhandedness, writes Joe Lauria.

    • Netanyahu Wants Pardon for IDF Soldier Who Shot Defenseless, Wounded Palestinian in the Head

      Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday called for the pardon of an Israel Defense Forces (IDF) soldier who had just been convicted of manslaughter for fatally shooting a wounded Palestinian man last year in the occupied West Bank city of Hebron.

      “Sgt Elor Azaria, 20, shot Abdul Fatah al-Sharif, 21, in the head while he was lying immobile on a road,” as BBC News writes. Al-Sharif was allegedly involved in a knife attack against another Israeli soldier and had already been shot, though he remained alive.

    • Obama’s Deadly Afghan Acquiescence

      From his first days, President Obama showed a lack of guts when confronted by powerful insiders. He backed down even when that meant squandering U.S. soldiers in the futile Afghan War “surges,” says ex-CIA analyst Ray McGovern.

    • The U.S. Government Thinks Thousands of Russian Hackers May Be Reading My Blog. They Aren’t.

      After the U.S. government published a report on Russia’s cyber attacks against the U.S. election system, and included a list of computers that were allegedly used by Russian hackers, I became curious if any of these hackers had visited my personal blog. The U.S. report, which boasted of including “technical details regarding the tools and infrastructure used by Russian civilian and military intelligence services,” came with a list of 876 suspicious IP addresses used by the hackers, and these addresses were the clues I needed to, in the end, understand a gaping weakness in the report.

      An IP address is a set of numbers that identifies a computer, or a network of computers, on the internet. Each time someone loads my website, it logs their IP address. So I searched my web server logs for the suspicious IP addresses, and I was shocked to discover over 80,000 web requests from IPs used by the Russian hackers in the last 14 months! Digging further, I found that some of these Russian hackers had even posted comments (mostly innocuous technical questions)! Even today, several days after publication of the report (which used a codename for the Russian attack, Grizzly Steppe), I’m still finding these suspicious IP addresses in my logs — although I would expect the Russians to stop using them after the U.S. government exposed them.

    • Senators Threaten to Cut Worldwide Embassy Security If U.S. Doesn’t Move Its Israeli Embassy to Jerusalem

      A trio of GOP senators have introduced legislation that would cut security, construction, and maintenance funds for U.S. embassies around the world in half until the president moves the American embassy in Israel to Jerusalem.

      In 1995, Congress passed a law requiring the federal government to move the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama all campaigned on relocating the embassy and executing this law. But once in office, every one of them invoked a waiver in the law that allows them to hold off on the move if they deem it necessary to the national security interests of the United States to do so.

      Moving the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem would be seen as a green light to some Israeli government officials, such as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who seek to make Jerusalem the undivided capital of the state of Israel. That, in turn, would preclude the Palestinians from establishing a state that includes East Jerusalem. Most international observers believe that this would render the two-state solution impossible and thus be damaging to peace.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • SEE IT: CNN apologizes to Julian Assange after commentator calls him ‘a pedophile’

      CNN issued an apology after one of its paid commentators called WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange “a pedophile” during a live broadcast Wednesday morning.

      Phil Mudd, a counterterrorism analyst for the network, slipped out the incorrect accusation while discussing Assange’s controversial anti-secrecy site on the network’s “New Day” show.

      “I think there’s an effort to protect WikiLeaks (and) a pedophile who lives in the Ecuadorian embassy in London — this guy is not credible,” Mudd said, referring to Assange.

    • Ex-CIA spokesman: Trump believes Julian Assange over the CIA

      A former Pentagon and CIA spokesman on Wednesday slammed Donald Trump for giving credit to WikiLeaks Founder Julian Assange and warned that America will be less safe when the President-elect takes office later this month.
      “Let’s stare this reality square in the face: PEOTUS is pro-Putin and believes Julian Assange over the @CIA. On Jan. 20 we will be less safe,” tweeted George Little, who served under former President George W. Bush and President Barack Obama.

    • Sarah Palin Apologizes to Julian Assange for Comparing Him to Terrorists

      Late Tuesday night, former Alaska Governor turned 2008 Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin made a rare apology on her Facebook page, the intended audience of which was Wikileaks founder Julian Assange. Over six years ago in December 2010, Palin took to her Facebook page to castigate Assange for publishing her emails, which were obtained illegally by hackers, even going so far as to compare him to terrorists. Having changed her tune in light of the hacks of the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton campaign Chairman John Podesta, Palin did an about-face, going back to Facebook to issue an olive branch to the controversial Wikileaks founder.

    • In a U-turn, some Republicans now see WikiLeaks’ Assange in positive light

      WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, once considered a traitor by conservatives, is suddenly finding some love in important corners of the Republican Party.

      Assange, who sought refuge in the Ecuadorean embassy in London in 2012 and has remained there since, gave a high-profile interview Tuesday night to Sean Hannity, the conservative Fox News commentator. The accolades then started pouring in.

      Sarah Palin, the Republican vice presidential candidate in 2008, took back her previous suggestions that the U.S. military should hunt down and kill Assange, whose group published tens of thousands of secret U.S. war and diplomatic documents in 2010.

    • The FBI Never Asked For Access To Hacked Computer Servers

      The FBI did not examine the servers of the Democratic National Committee before issuing a report attributing the sweeping cyberintrusion to Russia-backed hackers, BuzzFeed News has learned.

      Six months after the FBI first said it was investigating the hack of the Democratic National Committee’s computer network, the bureau has still not requested access to the hacked servers, a DNC spokesman said. No US government entity has run an independent forensic analysis on the system, one US intelligence official told BuzzFeed News.

      “The DNC had several meetings with representatives of the FBI’s Cyber Division and its Washington (DC) Field Office, the Department of Justice’s National Security Division, and U.S. Attorney’s Offices, and it responded to a variety of requests for cooperation, but the FBI never requested access to the DNC’s computer servers,” Eric Walker, the DNC’s deputy communications director, told BuzzFeed News in an email.

    • Trump and Julian Assange, an Unlikely Pair, Unite to Sow Hacking Doubts

      Just a year ago, they might have seemed the oddest of couples. But now President-elect Donald J. Trump and Julian Assange, the WikiLeaks founder, have formed a united front against the conclusion of American intelligence agencies that Russian intelligence used hacked emails to interfere in the presidential election.

      Mr. Assange, long reviled by many Republicans as an anarchist lawbreaker out to damage the United States, has won new respect from conservatives who appreciated his site’s release of Democratic emails widely perceived to have hurt Hillary Clinton’s campaign. And Mr. Trump has been eager to undercut the conclusion of the F.B.I., the C.I.A. and other agencies that those emails were provided to WikiLeaks courtesy of Russian government hackers.

    • New Analysis of Swedish Police Report Confirms Julian Assange’s Version in Sweden’s case

      Author and investigative reporter Celia Farber has prepared for publication in The Indicter, an updated analysis of the Swedish Assange case. The in-depth analysis concludes that the police reports confirm Julian Assange’s testimony, as given to the prosecutor in her questioning conducted at the Ecuadorian embassy in London. It has also been established that the crucial allegations against Mr Julian Assange, as have appeared in the Swedish and international media, in fact were constructed by the police and were not what the complainants really said or wished to achieve.

      It has been discovered that it was the police, or the prosecutor’s office, which unlawfully and/or unethically leaked the “allegations” to the evening paper “Expressen”, which is clearly known for its declared NATO sympathies. Regrettably, but also predictably, this was an opportunity for Western mainstream media to create a scandal around the founder of WikiLeaks. Likewise, it was an occasion used by the MSM to insidiously attack the organization that had partly exposed the corruption of the governments they represent, and partly surpassed them in journalistic efficacy and objectivity.

      But it was more than purely vendetta-time; it was a well-articulated campaign which started that day in August 2010 when –according to the Snowden documents– the US government asked the countries participating in the military occupation of Afghanistan under US command to prosecute Julian Assange. Sweden obeyed; others cooperated.

      Nevertheless, the Afghan Logs and the Iraq Logs exposed by WikiLeaks remained published. The WikiLeaks founder did not surrender. The Assange case, already politically in its origins, turned into a spiral of increasing geopolitical dimensions.

      Our position has always been that the above-described political aspect has always been present in the ‘Assange case’ and we could hardly be –in principle– interested in furthering a discussion on details pertaining the intimacy of Mr Assange or of other people around the constructed ‘legal case’.

      However, we regard this analysis of Ms Celia Farber –A Swedish-born and America-based journalist familiar with the intricacies of the Swedish culture and language– as important material, which we hope will help to end the overblown discussion on the ‘suspicions’ or ‘allegations’ against Mr Assange. These allegations have constituted the essence of the artificial debate that the Swedish prosecutors periodically orchestrate, through press releases or erratic press conferences of the type “we have nothing new to communicate”.

      We have also published – in the same spirit of clarification– the statement of Mr Julian Assange given to the Swedish prosecutor during the interview in London. In the context of this new analysis by Celia Farber, we also recommend the reading of “The answer given by Julian Assange to the Swedish prosecutor in the London questioning of 14-15 November 2016.”

    • Donald Trump backs Julian Assange over Russia hacking claim
    • US obtained evidence that Russia leaked emails, say officials

      The officials declined to describe the intelligence obtained about the involvement of a third-party in passing on leaked material to WikiLeaks, saying they did not want to reveal how the US government had obtained the information.

      In an interview with Fox News, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange said he did not receive emails stolen from the DNC and top Hillary Clinton aide John Podesta from “a state party.” Assange did not rule out the possibility that he got the material from a third party.

      Trump on Wednesday sided with Assange and again questioned the US intelligence community’s conclusion that Russia tried to help his candidacy and hurt Clinton’s.

    • CIA Director Brennan Casts Doubt on Assange’s Credibility

      WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange insists that Russia was not his source for hacked election-related emails, but CIA Director John Brennan isn’t so sure.

      During a PBS NewsHour interview, Brennan said that those who doubt the connection between Russia and the hacking of Democratic Party email accounts should withhold judgment until they read the forthcoming intelligence report.

      He also said that Assange is “not exactly a bastion of truth and integrity.”

    • Assange Is Vastly More Reliable Than The Elite U.S. Media

      In January 2011, the people of Tunisia effectuated an uprising which led to the ouster of Ben Ali, who had ruled the country for 23 years. Many Tunisians were well aware that the regime was autocratic and corrupt, but they were provided additional gory details about its decadent opulence by none other than WikiLeaks, the organization whose founder and editor is currently being slimed by self-important U.S. liberals. In the aftermath of the revolution, WikiLeaks was widely hailed for its role in supplying previously-concealed information to Tunisian dissidents, and with that Assange cemented for himself a place in the pantheon of great journalistic trailblazers.

    • Sarah Palin Now Thinks Julian Assange Is A Really Nifty Guy

      While many support the idea of Wikileaks, many now worry that the organization’s supposed goal of total transparency often plays second fiddle to Julian Assange’s ego and the group’s often inconsistent behavior. But whatever you think of Assange as a human being, it’s important to remember that the group wouldn’t be necessary if the established media actually did its job. Groups like Wikileaks are just symptoms of a broader disease: the larger media’s shift to banal infotainment, and the failure of these giant media conglomerates to hold companies and governments accountable to the truth.

      That said, it’s becoming downright comedic to watch Assange, Wikileaks and whistleblowers become increasingly vilified or deified — depending entirely on what’s being said, who it’s being said about, or what color-coded partisan jumpsuit you’re wearing.

      For example, Assange was a hero to Democrats after exposing government misdeeds during the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, but was demonized incessantly in the wake of the DNC hack (to the point where the actual data revealed was thoroughly ignored). Similarly, Assange was derided by Republicans as the very worst sort of scoundrel for the better part of the last decade, a position that has, well, softened in the wake of the Clinton campaign-crippling DNC hack. After all, the enemy of my enemy is my friend, for now, right?

      In fact Assange has bizarrely become a temporary folk hero to many of the same folks that wanted his head on a pike just a few months ago. Sarah Palin, for example, in 2010 got very close to advocating that Assange be hunted down and killed, likening him to an “anti-American operative with blood on his hands.” That position was forged, in part, after Wikileaks leaked Palin’s Yahoo e-mails back in 2008 after a hacker gained access to the Alaskan government documents Palin had been storing on a private server.


      And while this positional flip flop on a certain front is incredibly entertaining in a David Lynch sort of way, transparency and truth don’t work that way. While leaking organizations and whistleblowers themselves are certainly fallible, the truths they reveal are non-negotiable, and don’t care about partisan patty cake. In other words, these same folks suddenly lavishing praise on whistleblowers now because it’s tactically convenient, will be back arguing for assassination by drone strike the moment the next whistleblower reveals truths they’d prefer remain hidden.

    • Julian Assange’s claim that there was no Russian involvement in WikiLeaks emails
  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • Record-breaking extreme weather in Australia in 2016 devastates ecosystems

      Australia’s weather was extreme in 2016, driven by humankind’s burning of fossil fuels as well as a strong El Niño, according to the Bureau of Meteorology’s annual climate statement.

      That extreme weather led to devastated ecosystems both on land and in the sea, with unprecedented bushfires in regions that don’t usually burn, the worst coral bleaching on record, and has been attributed as the cause of damage to vast tracts of crucial kelp forests, oyster farms and salmon stocks across southern Australia.

    • Rick Perry’s Texas Giveaways

      The soon-to-be U.S. energy secretary doled out billions in grants and tax incentives for corporations while governor of Texas. One $30 million grant went to an energy group that turned out to be a phantom.

    • Endangered Species Under GOP? Climate Change Information on the Web

      James Rowen, a longtime Wisconsin journalist and environmental blogger, recently discovered a stark remaking of a state Department of Natural Resources web page on climate change and the Great Lakes.

      Until December, the page, dating from the Democratic administration of former Gov. James Doyle, had this headline — “Climate Change and Wisconsin’s Great Lakes” — and a clear description of the state of the science, including this line reflecting the latest federal and international research assessments: “Earth’s climate is changing. Human activities that increase heat-trapping (“green house”) gases are the main cause.”

      The page described a variety of possible impacts on the lakes and concluded, “The good news is that we can all work to slow climate change and lessen its effects.” Nine hyperlinks led readers to other resources.

    • James Delingpole article calling ocean acidification ‘alarmism’ cleared by press watchdog

      A magazine article claiming “marine life has nothing whatsoever to fear from ocean acidification” has been deemed neither misleading nor inaccurate by the UK’s press regulator.

      The feature, written by journalist and climate-change sceptic James Delingpole, appeared in the Spectator under the headline “Ocean acidification: yet another wobbly pillar of climate alarmism”.

      Seawater is becoming more acidic as the oceans absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, where rising concentrations are the cause of global warming. Many scientists are concerned about the impact of acidification on marine life.

  • Finance

    • Margrethe Vestager’s top 10 cases in 2017

      Standing too long under the spotlights can get uncomfortable and this year Margrethe Vestager may begin to feel the heat.

      The European commissioner for competition shot to international fame in 2015 with back-to-back charges against Google and Gazprom. In 2016 she cemented her reputation as the world’s foremost corporate policewoman with the stunning order that Apple reimburse some €13 billion of alleged illegal state aid to Ireland’s taxman.

    • CETA Costs Jobs, Worsens Inequality, Social Tensions: EU Committee

      The trade deal that Canada and the EU signed in October will cause a loss of jobs and threaten to increase already high social tensions in Europe, a European Parliament committee has concluded.

      The Committee on Employment and Social Affairs voted against CETA in December, meaning it is recommending that the European Parliament vote down the deal. It’s one of many committees that have to vote on a recommendation to parliament.

      The full EU parliament is slated to vote on CETA in early February.

    • Great: Now Wall Street Is Funding Speculative Corporate Sovereignty Claims For A Share Of The Spoils

      Techdirt first wrote about corporate sovereignty four years ago — although we only came up with that name about a year later. Since then, a hitherto obscure aspect of trade deals has become one of the most contentious issues in international relations. Indeed, the investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) measures in both TPP and TTIP played an important part in galvanizing resistance to these so-called “trade” deals, and thus in their defeat, at least for the moment (never say “never”.)


      This is a crucially-important point about corporate sovereignty: governments never win ISDS cases; at best, they just don’t lose them. All the upside is with the corporates that bring the claim, and all the downside with nations that are defending their actions and regulations. The new wave of third-party funding will accentuate that skewed nature, and make corporate sovereignty even more of a scourge than it is today, regardless of whether it is ever included again in any new deal.

    • Venezuela on the Brink

      The crisis engulfing Venezuela appears to have reached the point of no return. Inflation is heading for 1000% while shortages of food and other essentials are now widespread. It has prompted many to speculate that it is just a matter of time before President Maduro is forced from office and Chavism is consigned to the dustbin of history.

    • Treasury Nominee Steve Mnuchin’s Bank Accused of “Widespread Misconduct” in Leaked Memo

      OneWest Bank, which Donald Trump’s nominee for treasury secretary, Steven Mnuchin, ran from 2009 to 2015, repeatedly broke California’s foreclosure laws during that period, according to a previously undisclosed 2013 memo from top prosecutors in the state attorney general’s office.

      The memo obtained by The Intercept alleges that OneWest rushed delinquent homeowners out of their homes by violating notice and waiting period statutes, illegally backdated key documents, and effectively gamed foreclosure auctions.

      In the memo, the leaders of the state attorney general’s Consumer Law Section said they had “uncovered evidence suggestive of widespread misconduct” in a yearlong investigation. In a detailed 22-page request, they identified over a thousand legal violations in the small subsection of OneWest loans they were able to examine, and they recommended that Attorney General Kamala Harris file a civil enforcement action against the Pasadena-based bank. They even wrote up a sample legal complaint, seeking injunctive relief and millions of dollars in penalties.

    • For Head of SEC, Trump Taps Another Fox to Guard Wall Street Henhouse

      Wall Street lawyer Jay Clayton, who defended big banks against regulators during the financial crisis, is President-elect Donald Trump’s pick to head the federal agency charged with policing Wall Street.

      Clayton, a partner with the New York law firm Sullivan & Cromwell, is Trump’s nominee for chair of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). In that role, the Washington Post reports, Clayton “would play a key role in Trump’s efforts to usher in a period of deregulation, including undoing parts of 2010′s financial reform legislation, known as the Dodd-Frank Act.”

    • UK’s lack of negotiating experience may lead to ‘very hard Brexit’

      Britain’s four-decade membership of the EU has left it lacking experience in international negotiations, which will hamper it in trade talks and may lead to “a very hard Brexit”, Norway’s prime minister has said.

      “We do feel that sometimes when we are discussing with Britain, that their speed is limited by the fact that it is such a long time since they have negotiated” on their own, Erna Solberg told Reuters at a meeting of Bavaria’s centre-right CSU party in Germany.

      Solberg said she hoped the UK would be able to negotiate an agreement that kept it close to the EU, but it would not be easy. “I fear a very hard Brexit, but I hope we will find a better solution.”

      The remarks reinforce those made by Sir Ivan Rogers, who resigned as Britain’s EU ambassador this week.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Trump’s Neo-Fascism will be built on Neo-Fascism of Obama and Democrat Party

      Late on the evening of December 23, when the attention of the public was fixed on the consumerist excesses of the holiday season, President Obama signed into law the Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). Like the other NDAAs that President Obama signed into law during his administration, this one further strengthened the repressive capacities of the state.

      Buried deep in the provisions of the NDAA was language from a bill introduced by Sen. Rob Portman ostensibly to protect the public from the effects of “foreign propaganda.” As previously reported by Black Agenda Report, the bill, originally introduced last March, was passed by the Senate on December 8 as the “Countering Disinformation and Propaganda Act” and then inserted into the NDAA.

    • The Dark Side of Obama’s Legacy

      The administrations of Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama tilted too far in the direction of the military, which already plays far too large a role in the policy process and the intelligence cycle. Strategic intelligence has suffered from the Pentagon’s domination of a process that is now geared primarily to support the warfighter in an era of permanent war. The strategic intelligence failures during the Obama administration include the absence of warning regarding events in Crimea and the Ukraine; the “Arab Spring;” the emergence of the Islamic State; and Russian recklessness in Syria.

    • Donald Trump’s Debt to Willie Horton

      A precursor of Donald Trump’s race-messaging campaign can be found in George H.W. Bush’s exploitation of the Willie Horton case in 1988, an ugly reminder of America’s racist heritage, writes JP Sottile.

    • Risks of Trump’s ‘Winning’ Obsession

      Donald Trump’s more pragmatic approach to foreign policy may be an improvement over the recent ideological obsessions but his own obsession with “winning” could cause trouble, says ex-CIA analyst Paul R. Pillar.

    • Never Trust a Man without a Waistcoat

      Contrary to the usual mainstream media inaccuracy, Sir Ivan Rogers has not resigned from the FCO as he was a Treasury civil servant. The clue is in the phrase “resigned on principle”. FCO people are not big on principles.

    • NAACP Sit-In at Sen. Sessions’ Office Puts AG Pick’s Worrisome History in Crosshairs

      Since his nomination in November, Sessions has been criticized by advocacy groups as “one more way the Trump administration shows its racist, xenophobic, homophobic, and misogynist colors,” and his nomination described as “a direct attack against” the nation’s minorities. Democratic lawmakers are also gearing up to show their opposition to Sessions’ leading the Justice Department.

      Outlining its opposition to Sessions, the NAACP in an earlier statement pointed to the senator’s “record on voting rights that is unreliable at best and hostile at worse; a failing record on other civil rights; a record of racially offensive remarks and behavior; and dismal record on criminal justice reform issues.”

      Speaking to CNN from Sessions’ office on Tuesday, Brooks said the senator should withdraw his name from the nomination or be prepared to arrest the group.

      Explaining the motivations for the action, Brooks said that “in the midst of rampant voter suppression, this nominee has failed to acknowledge the reality of voter suppression while pretending to believe in the myth of voter fraud, and we need at the helm of the Department of Justice somebody who acknowledges the reality of voter suppression, someone who is going to stand at the side of people who need the defense of the attorney general, and a Justice Department that works for everyone.”

    • WashPost Is Richly Rewarded for False News About Russia Threat While Public Is Deceived

      In the past six weeks, the Washington Post published two blockbuster stories about the Russian threat that went viral: one on how Russia is behind a massive explosion of “fake news,” the other on how it invaded the U.S. electric grid. Both articles were fundamentally false. Each now bears a humiliating editor’s note grudgingly acknowledging that the core claims of the story were fiction: The first note was posted a full two weeks later to the top of the original article; the other was buried the following day at the bottom.

    • Civil rights activists arrested protesting Trump’s Attorney General pick

      Police in Alabama arrested six civil rights activists staging a sit-in at Senator Jeff Sessions’ office on Tuesday to protest his nomination for U.S. Attorney General, criticizing his record on voting rights and race relations.

      Sessions, 70, has a history of controversial positions on race, immigration and criminal justice reform.

      Members of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) had vowed to occupy Sessions’ Mobile, Alabama office until the conservative Republican lawmaker either withdrew as a candidate or they were arrested.

      In the end, Cornell Brooks, president and CEO of the NAACP, and Stephen Green, national director of the youth division of the NAACP, were among those arrested, according to a post on the Twitter page of the civil rights organization.

    • Year of the cock

      It’s not the first time that PEOTUS Trump has been compared to a fowl in China. Back in mid-November, he literally became the pheasant-elect as photos of him juxtaposed to a golden pheasant (Wikipedia article in Chinese) went viral on the Chinese internet.

    • End of the World, Progressive Article Edition

      For those who would like to become a progressive columnist in the world of Trump, here’s a guide for your first and every subsequent article…


      First of all, points for the “bang and whimper” cliche, followed by the happy bullsh*t about how wonderful America was last month as described by phony Hamilton the musical lyrics. I bet the show’s cast could make values, morals, compassion, tolerance, decency, common purpose, and identity rhyme.

      Dude, we are a helluva people! Exceptional!

      Because prior to the election results we weren’t a nation founded on a slave economy, which 250 years later still has its cops imprison and murder Blacks, who doesn’t have the highest incarceration rate in the world, mostly for small amounts of weed that has been long legalized in other western nations. Our compassion is set to full, except if you are different than me in your race, religion, or views on guns, gays or abortions. Of course we don’t really do much for women, and unlike say India, Israel, the UK, Burma, and a whole mess of other places, have never had a female chief executive.

      Yeah, whatever, all that.

      And lovely, that bit about American becoming an international pariah. Could happen. Luckily the world has overlooked so far that we are the only nation to have used atomic weapons (twice, on civilians), stayed at war, spied and overthrown governments in their countries pretty steadily for 70 years, set the Middle Easton on fire over fake WMDs, drone kill wherever we like, torture people, and run an offshore penal colony right out of Les Miserables. Man, Trump, amiright?

    • WaPo Spreading Own Falsehoods Shows Real Power of Fake News

      The putative scourge of “fake news” has been one of the most pervasive post-election media narratives. The general thrust goes like this: A torrent of fake news swept the internet, damaging Hillary Clinton and possibly leading to a Donald Trump victory.

      A primary problem with this convenient-to-some narrative is that “fake news” has yet to be clearly defined by anyone. Vaguely conceptualized as misleading or outright fabricated stories, it can mean anything—as FAIR has noted previously (12/1/16)—from outlets that align with “Russian viewpoints” to foreign spam.


      After FAIR and others pointed out the error, Rampell’s article was changed, but this episode shows how quickly an entirely bogus premise—that Russia had hacked, or even attempted to hack, an American public utility—can spread without an ounce of skepticism. At the time her column was published, the only “evidence” of an “attempted” Russian hack was some malware code that could have been used by anybody. Rampell, likely influenced by the initial erroneous reporting by her colleagues, made an assumption that this was evidence of an “attempted hack,” a false assumption debunked by the Post itself (1/2/16) two hours after she published. In all cases, everything is rounded up to the most sensational, most Cold War–panic inducing conclusion. “Mistakes” rarely, if ever, happen in favor of less hysteria.

    • Beyond Anti-Trump

      Let’s be careful about the phrase “anti-Trump coalition.” The phrase leaves the door open for everything being about the Big Bad Donald and for progressives to get sucked/suckered once again into the ruling class politics of the Democrats. We need to take on the unelected deep state dictatorships of money, class, race, empire, militarism, sexism, and ecocide – the reigning oppression structures that have ruled under Barack Obama as under previous presidents. As the activist-artist Brian Carlson recently wrote me from Buenos Aires, Donald Trump is the latest “bobble head doll on the dashboard of real [U.S.] power.” The thin-skinned tyrant Trump is the most terrifying and noxious such doll yet, perhaps, but the point stands.

      And dreary corporate-Democratic presidents like Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, and Obama are no small part of the explanation for the ever more right-wing Republican presidencies of the long neoliberal era. Their serial populism-manipulating betrayals of the working-class majority in service to the wealthy Few open the door for Republicans to sweep in and take over for a term or two (2001-2009) or three (1981-1993). (Please see my forthcoming Truthdig essay “Obama’s Neoliberal Legacy”) for a discussion of how Obama begat Trump.)

    • Anti-Trump Coalition Shows Cracks

      Somewhat surprisingly, a genuine grassroots, broad-based movement has emerged to oppose the incoming Trump administration, but perhaps less surprisingly – given the American left’s self-marginalizing tendencies – the nascent efforts may already be descending into sectarianism, finger-pointing and divisive identity-based politics.

    • Battlelines Drawn as GOP Readies ‘To Make America Sick Again’

      Republicans, “beside themselves” with excitement over their new power in Congress and, in less than three weeks, the White House, announced on Wednesday their plans for a swift attack on the Affordable Care Act (ACA), or Obamacare.

      Repealing the ACA, said Vice President-elect Mike Pence after meeting with House Republicans, will be the incoming administration’s “first order of business,” with a goal of getting legislation to President-elect Donald Trump by Feb. 20. House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) also spoke at the news conference, and said that the program, which allowed over 20 million Americans to gain health insurance coverage, “is a story of broken promise after broken promise after broken promise.”

      The Senate on Wednesday also voted “to take the first official step toward repealing President Barack Obama’s signature health care law,” as CNN reports. The chamber “voted 51-48 Wednesday to begin debating a budget that, once approved, will prevent Democrats from using a filibuster to block future Republican legislation to scuttle the healthcare law,” the Associated Press adds.

    • New McCarthyism Targets Trump

      Official Washington’s New McCarthyism is painting President-elect Trump as almost a “traitor” for seeking détente with Russia, a moment when peace-oriented Americans face a complex choice, says John V. Walsh.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • Activist who aided Amos Yee’s bid for political asylum in USA being reported to Department of Homeland Security

      Melissa Chen, a US-based Singaporean civil activist involved in Amos Yee’s asylum bid said in her Facebook that she has been reported to the United States’ (US) Department of Homeland Security for the ‘crime’ of abetting the teen blogger seeking refuge in that country. They are hoping the activist would be deported.


      In the exchange between them they discussed making arrangements for Amos’ bid for political asylum in the United States of America. Amos was therefore compelled to tell the truth. Amos is unlikely to be released from detention until a hearing is convened.

      Amos has said that the he has no intention of returning to Singapore as he does not want to do National Service.

    • New Chinese Law on Cybersecurity Will Increase Censorship & Data Surveillance

      The Chinese government passed a new set of regulations that will tighten existing policies on censorship and data surveillance. From June 1 and onward, outflow of any kind of personal and important data will be restricted and censored by key information infrastructure operators (KILO).

      Network operators and internet service providers also fall under the newly proposed regulatory regime, and as a result are obligated to impose new security and data protection systems.

    • Confirmed Horrible Person James Woods Continues Being Horrible In ‘Winning’ Awful Lawsuit To Unmask Deceased Online Critic

      So… Hollywood actor James Woods continues to make it clear that he’s a complete and total asshole. As you may or may not recall, last year, Woods sued an anonymous Twitter user who went by the name Abe List, for mocking Woods on twitter. Specifically, List called Woods “clownboy” and later tweeted: “cocaine addict James Woods still sniffing and spouting.” Woods sued Abe List claiming that the “cocaine addict” statement was defamatory, and (the important part) demanding the name and identity of Abe List. The fact that Woods, himself, has a long (long, long, long) history of spouting off similarly incendiary claims to people on Twitter apparently wasn’t important.

    • Google Apparently No Longer Humoring Court Orders To Delist Defamatory Content

      That timing seems to coincide with Paul Alan Levy/Public Citizen’s intervention in a case where an order to delist traced back to a dentist unhappy with an online review. The eventual delisting by Google came as the result of a bogus lawsuit — filed with or without the knowledge of the dentist Mitul Patel — against a bogus defendant. The fake “Matthew Chan” signed a document agreeing to remove his review and the court ordered Google to take it down.

    • Putin’s Adviser Says Russia Must Be Ready To Disconnect Itself From The Global Internet

      Klimenko’s comments were made before the US announced its response to claims of Russian interference in the presidential election process. His analysis of “tectonic shifts” in US-Russia relations now looks rather prescient, although US threats to hack back made it a relatively easy prediction. And even though his call for Russia to ensure its critical infrastructure cannot be “turned off” by anyone — in particular by the US — may be grandstanding to a certain extent, it is not infeasible.

      The Chinese have consciously made their own segment of the Internet quite independent, with strict controls on how data enters or leaves the country. Techdirt reported earlier that Russia was increasingly looking to China for both inspiration and technological assistance; maybe Klimenko’s comments are another sign of an alignment between the two countries in the digital realm.

    • Facebook Censors Art Historian’s Photo Of Neptune’s Statue-Penis
    • Facebook under fire after it censors ‘explicitly sexual’ statue of Neptune
  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • NSA’s top cyber-defender leaves after reorganization

      Curtis Dukes, the NSA official who headed up its cyber-defenders, the famed Information Assurance Directorate, has left the agency — a few months after IAD was merged with the offensive, eavesdropping side of the house, the Signals Intelligence Directorate.

    • NSA Director to Head Up CIS Controls Group
    • Someone bid $9,000 worth of bitcoin for supposed NSA exploits

      In August, a group of supposed hackers calling themselves the Shadow Brokers leaked a trove of outdated NSA-linked cyber-weapons and encouraged observers to bid on software exploits they had stolen. On Wednesday, someone paid the group $9,000 worth of bitcoin, based on publicly visible transaction records. The mysterious payment represents the single largest deposit made to a bitcoin wallet previously listed by the Shadow Brokers.

      While the aforementioned bitcoin wallet had seen past activity in the form of small deposits ranging from just a few cents to several hundreds of dollars, Wednesday’s payment is by far the largest contribution. Bitcoin is an anonymous digital currency that is sold, traded, accepted and tracked online.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Even Leonard Peltier’s Prosecutor Calls for Clemency

      The former prosecutor of Indigenous activist Leonard Peltier joins thousands calling for clemency saying it is “in the best interests of justice.”

      The former Iowa United States attorney in charge of the widely-condemned prosecution and conviction of Indigenous activist Leonard Peltier wrote to President Obama saying granting clemency to the 72-year-old, considered by many the longest-held political prisoner in the U.S., would be “in the best interests of justice.”

    • Defense Department Oversight Finds More Evidence Of Retaliation Against Whistleblowers

      More evidence has surfaced showing the US government really doesn’t care for whistleblowers. A Defense Department Inspector General’s report [PDF] obtained by MuckRock contains details of Air Force supervisors turning against a civilian employee who reported time card abuse.

    • Inside the Scorpion: a Journalist’s Ordeal in Egypt’s Most Notorious Prison

      To interview a jihadi is one thing, to live among jihadis quite another. To share their prison cells and their jail trucks on the way to a dictatorship’s trials is both a journalist’s dream and a journalist’s nightmare. Which makes Mohamed Fahmy a unique figure: in a prison bus, he hears his fellow inmates rejoicing at the beheading of a captured journalist in Syria. “They won’t let us out,” a voice shouts at Fahmy in Egypt’s ghastly Tora prison complex. “We haven’t seen the sun for weeks.” And he hears the rhythmic voices of prisoners reciting the Koran.

      Fahmy, who is an Egyptian with Canadian citizenship, is the Al Jazeera English TV reporter who spent almost two years in his native country’s ferocious prison system, as a guest of President al-Sisi, locked up with two colleagues for being a pro-Muslim Brotherhood “terrorist”, fabricating news and endangering the “security” of the state.

    • Planes and ships hampering road transport’s climate efforts

      The extent to which transport is falling behind in reducing its CO2 emissions is highlighted in a new report by the Dutch consultancy CE Delft. It shows that emission reductions from land-based transport are still significantly behind what they need to be, and nearly half of the forecast reductions are set to be wiped out by the growth in emissions from aviation and shipping.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Trademarks

      • Chicago Field Museum Decides To Embrace Cross-Promotion Instead Of Trademark Protectionism With Brewery

        When it comes to trademark issues, we tend to keep our pages filled with stories about disputes, bullying, and over-protectionism. While we try to highlight good-actors on matters of trademark, those stories are too few and far between for our tastes. With that in mind, why not start off the new year with one such example?

        Toppling Goliath is a brewery in Iowa with a number of regular and seasonal beers. One of those is PseudoSue, an ale with a label that features a roaring Tyrannosaurus rex. Anyone from the Chicago area is likely already thinking of our beloved Field Museum and the enormous T. rex fossil skeleton of Sue, who the museum tends to dress up like some kind of prehistoric barbie doll whenever one of our local sports teams has themselves a particularly good season. The museum has a trademark registration for Sue that covers all kinds of mechandise and initially reacted as readers of this site will have come to expect.

    • Copyrights

      • RIAA Still Pushing Its Bogus Message Of A ‘Value Gap’ And ‘Fair Compensation’

        The “value gap” is a completely made up concept by the RIAA and friends, arguing that internet platforms aren’t paying the record labels (not the artists) enough. It’s based on a series of out and out lies, including the simply false claim that artists make more from vinyl record sales than from online streaming.

        The “value gap” is the RIAA cherry picking misleading numbers to argue that internet platforms aren’t paying them enough. Note that they don’t make any effort to improve what they’re doing — they’re just demanding more money from platforms… just because.


Links 4/1/2017: Cutelyst 1.2.0 and Lumina 1.2 Desktop Released

Posted in News Roundup at 7:07 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish



  • Fail0verflow Demos Linux & Steam Running on PlayStation 4 Firmware 4.05 at 33C3

    2016 ended in big style for hackers and security researchers from all over the world, who gathered together at the well-known Chaos Communication Congress (33c3) annual event organized by the Chaos Computer Club (CCC) of Germany

  • Linux 2017: With great power comes great responsibility

    Even the one exception, the end-user, is moving to Linux. Android is now the most popular end-user opearating system. In addition, Chromebooks are becoming more popular. Indeed, even traditional Linux desktops such as Fedora, openSUSE, Mint, and Ubuntu are finally gaining traction. Heck, my TechRepublic Linux buddy Jack Wallen even predicts that “Linux [desktop] market share will finally breach the 5-percent mark”.

  • Desktop

    • Finding an Alternative to Mac OS X

      This is a team that values the same things I do. The interface is clean and refined. The pre-installed application selection is minimal and each one feels like a perfect piece of the system.

      The main drawback of Elementary to me is that it’s built on top of Ubuntu LTS. As time goes on all the packages get further from the current versions published upstream. I’d much rather a regular release like Fedora (6 months) or a rolling release like Arch.

    • Kreative Mediabook Pro A156 Open Source Laptop Running ARTISTX 2.0 (video)

      For more information on the new Kreative Mediabook Pro jump over to the Kickstarter website for details and to make a pledge from $460 by following the link below.

    • Your stupidest mistake when running Linux?

      Linux has much to offer any computer user, but we’re all human and everybody makes mistakes. A user in a recent thread on the Linux subreddit asked folks what their dumbest mistake was when using Linux, and he got some funny answers.

  • Server

    • eBay builds its own tool to integrate Kubernetes and OpenStack

      Intent on keeping its developers happy, the e-commerce company has developed a framework for deploying containers on its large-scale OpenStack cloud.

    • Guide to the Open Cloud: The State of Micro OSes

      What are micro operating systems and why should individuals and organizations focused on the cloud care about them? In the cloud, performance, elasticity, and security are all paramount. A lean operating system that facilitates simple server workloads and allows for containers to run optimally can serve each of these purposes. Unlike standard desktop or server operating systems, the micro OS has a narrow, targeted focus on server workloads and optimizing containers while eschewing the applications and graphical subsystems that cause bloat and latency.

      In fact, these tiny platforms are often called “container operating systems.” Containers are key to the modern data center and central to many smart cloud deployments. According to Cloud Foundry’s report “Containers in 2016,” 53 percent of organizations are either investigating or using containers in development and production. The micro OS can function as optimal bedrock for technology stacks incorporating tools such as Docker and Kubernetes.

    • In-Memory Computing for HPC

      To achieve high performance, modern computer systems rely on two basic methodologies to scale resources. Each design attempts to bring more processors (cores) and memory to the user. A scale-up design that allows multiple cores to share a large global pool of memory is the most flexible and allows large data sets to take advantage of full in-memory computing. A scale-out design distributes data sets across the memory on separate host systems in a computing cluster. Although the scale-out cluster often has a lower hardware acquisition cost, the scale-up in-memory system provides a much better total cost of ownership (TCO) based on the following advantages:

  • Kernel Space

  • Applications

    • 7 Awesome Open Source Analytics Software For Linux and Unix-like Systems

      Google Analytics is the most widely used cloud-based web analytics service. However, your data is locked into Google Eco-system. If you want 100% data ownership, try the following open source web analytics software to get information about the number of visitors to your website and the number of page views. The information is useful for market research and understanding popularity trends on your website.

    • Cutelyst 1.2.0 released

      Cutelyst the C++/Qt web framework has a new release.

    • Ubuntu Podcast App Podbird Celebrates Birthday With New Release

      Ubuntu podcast app Podbird has marked its 2nd birthday with an all-new release.

      Podbird 0.8 is said to bring a number of “major improvements” to the fore, chief among them the ability to queue podcasts so that they play one after another.

      Elsewhere, the update sees the episodes page gain a “downloaded” tab, which groups together all previously downloaded episodes (and any in progress) from one page, and a new setting allows cached podcast artwork to be refreshed.

    • digest 0.6.11

      A new minor release with version number 0.6.11 of the digest package is now on CRAN and in Debian.

    • By Jove! It’s a lightweight alternative to Vim

      Some people like Vim as a text editor, and other people like Emacs. Having such different opinions are the way of the UNIX world.

      I’m an Emacs user through and through. Sure, I spent a few obligatory years in my early days of UNIX using Vim, but once I learned Emacs properly, there was no going back. The thing about Vi(m) is that it’s on nearly every UNIX box because it’s been around forever, and it’s pretty small. It’s the obvious choice for a default editor that people can use in a pinch.

    • DVDStyler 3.0.3 Free DVD Authoring Tool Disables Copy Option on Non-MPEG2 Videos

      It looks like many open-source software developers kicked off 2017 with new releases of their applications. DVDStyler, the cross-platform, free, and open-source DVD authoring tool was updated to version 3.0.3.

      DVDStyler is quite a popular application amongst nostalgics who still adore to watch movies or create their own with the DVD-Video format. Besides the fact that it makes it possible for these DVD-Video enthusiasts to create professional-looking DVDs, DVDStyler works on all major platforms, including GNU/Linux, macOS, and Windows.

    • darktable 2.2.1 Open-Source RAW Image Editor Adds Support for Canon EOS M5

      On Christmas Day 2016, the developers of the popular, open-source and multiplatform darktable RAW image editor proudly unveiled the major 2.2 release, which just got its first point release the other day.

      Yes, you’re reading it right, darktable 2.2.1 is already here, one week after the release of the 2.2 series, which brought countless improvements, but it’s a small maintenance update adding a couple of new features, such as the ability to display a dialog window that informs the user when locking of the library and database fails.

    • LFTP 4.7.5 Linux CLI FTP Client Recognizes Apache Listings with ISO Date & Time

      LFTP, the free, open-source, and sophisticated command-line file transfer program (FTP) supporting a wide range of network protocols, including FTP, SFTP, HTTP, FISH, and Torrent, was updated on the first day of 2017 to version 4.7.5.

      LFTP 4.7.5 arrives one and a half months after the release of version 4.7.4 on November 16, 2016, and promises to add detection of Apache listings with ISO date and time to the HTTP protocol support, implements a new setting for logging, namely log:prefix-{recv,send,note,error}, and improves the help manual and documentation a bit.

    • Opera 12 Clone Otter Browser Beta 12 Improves KDE Plasma 5 and Unity Integration

      Lots of open-source software developers were busy to announce new versions of their applications on GNU/Linux distributions on the first day of 2017, and today we’d like to tell you a little bit about the latest release of the Otter Browser.

      For those unfamiliar with Otter Browser, it’s a cross-platform and open-source clone of the old-school Opera 12.x web browser series beloved by most of you out there. The project’s aim is to recreate the best aspects of Opera 12′s user interface using the newest Qt 5 technologies, and works on Linux, macOS and Windows platforms.

    • Portainer – An Easiest Way To Manage Docker

      Portainer is a lightweight, cross-platform, and open source management UI for Docker. Portainer provides a detailed overview of Docker and allows you to manage containers, images, networks and volumes via simple web-abed dashboard. It was originally the fork of Docker UI. However, the developer has rewritten pretty much all of the Docker UI original code now. Also, he changed the UX completely and added some more functionality in the recent version. As of now, It caught the user attention tremendously and it has now had over 1 million downloads and counting! It will support GNU/Linux, Microsoft Windows, and Mac OS X.

    • Instructionals/Technical

    • Games

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • Version 1.2.0 Released

      Happy New Year! 2016 was a really big year for Lumina with the release of version 1.0.0, TrueOS adopting Lumina as it’s only supported desktop environment, the newfound availability of Lumina in many Linux distributions, and so much more. By the same token, 2017 is already shaping up to be another big year for Lumina with things like the new window manager on the horizon. So let’s start this year on the right foot with another release!

    • Lumina 1.2 Desktop Lets You Transform It into an Xfce, MATE, OSX or Windows UI

      Ken Moore, the creator of the TrueOS BSD-based distribution that was formerly known as PC-BSD, kicks off 2017 with a new stable release of his lightweight Lumina desktop environment.

      Primarily an enhancement release, Lumina 1.2.0 desktop environment is here a little over two months after the release of version 1.1.0, and promises to bring a whole lot of goodies, including new plugins, a brand-new utility, as well as various under-the-hood improvements that users might find useful if they use Lumina on their OS.

    • Lumina 1.2 Desktop Environment Released

      A new release of Lumina is now available to ring in 2017, the BSD-first Qt-powered open-source desktop environment.

      With today’s Lumina 1.2 desktop environment, the libLuminaUtils.so library is no longer used/needed, the internal Lumina Theme engine has been separated from all utilities, there are new panel and menu plug-ins and a new Lumina Archiver utility as a Qt5 front to Tar. The new plug-ins are an audio player, JSON menu, and a lock desktop menu plugin for locking the current session.

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

      • KDE’s Kirigami 2.0 Framework for Convergent UIs Enters Beta with New Features

        2017 kicked off for KDE user with the first Beta release of the upcoming Kirigami 2.0 UI framework for building convergent user interfaces that work on mobile and desktop platforms, as announced by Thomas Pfeiffer.

        While the first public preview of the Kirigami UI framework hit the streets at the beginning of August 2016, and reached the 1.1 milestone two months later, at the end of September, it looks like the Beta of the major 2.0 release is ready for developers interesting in test driving it to produce convergent UIs.

  • Distributions

    • New Releases

      • 4MLinux 20.2 Distro Out Now with Linux Kernel 4.4.39, New Broadcom Wi-Fi Drivers

        4MLinux developer Zbigniew Konojacki is yet another GNU/Linux distribution maintainer that kicked off 2017 in style, with the release of the second maintenance update to the 4MLinux 20 operating system.

        That’s right, 4MLinux 20.2 has landed, as the latest and most advanced ISO respin of the 4MLinux 20.0 stable series of the independently-developed Linux distro, shipping with the long-term supported Linux 4.4.39 kernel, as well as up-to-date software applications and the proprietary Broadcom Wi-Fi driver called “wl driver.”

        “This is a minor maintenance release in the 4MLinux STABLE channel. The release ships with the Linux kernel 4.4.39,” said Zbigniew Konojacki in the release announcement. “This is the first 4MLinux live CD that includes the Broadcom proprietary WiFi driver (aka ‘wl driver’).”

    • Gentoo Family

    • OpenSUSE/SUSE

    • Slackware Family

      • Absolute Linux Caters to the Slackware Crowd

        Absolute Linux is a distro that raises the question: Is it really worth the bother?

        Any version of this Slackware-based Linux OS is just that — a really big bother — unless you love Unix-like systems that give you total control. It likely would be especially bothersome for less experienced users and for folks comfortable with Debian distros such as Ubuntu, Linux Mint and such.

        Some Slackware-based distros are easier than others to use — but the text-based installation and mostly manual operating routine makes using Absolute Linux a challenge. Once you get beyond the configuration steps, you still face a considerable learning curve to keep it running smoothly.

        Clearly, I am not overly impressed with the Absolute flavor of Slackware Linux. I see it as the equivalent of driving a stick shift automobile with a crank-to-start mechanism instead of an automatic model with keyless ignition. That said, once you have the engine purring, it drives fast and furious along the highway.

        I like to offer unique computing options in these weekly Linux Picks and Pans reviews, so I set my comfort zone aside and rolled up my sleeves to get my hands a little scraped reaching under Absolute Linux’s hood.

    • Red Hat Family

    • Debian Family

      • Derivatives

        • Debian-Based Neptune 4.5.3 Linux OS Rebases the Graphics Stack on Mesa 13.0.2

          The Neptune team was proud to announce the release of Neptune 4.5.3 on the first day of the year, which appears to be a minor maintenance update bringing various updated applications and a newer Linux kernel version.

          Neptune is a GNU/Linux distribution developed for desktop computers and fully based on the Debian GNU/Linux 7.0 “Wheezy” operating system and KDE Plasma 5. Neptune 4.5 is currently the latest stable release of the Linux OS, but from time to time, it gets up-to-date ISO snapshots featuring recent technologies and updated packages.

        • Canonical/Ubuntu

          • Watch This Terrifying 13ft Robot Walk, Thanks To Ubuntu [Ed: many say it's fake]
          • Flavours and Variants

            • Ubuntu-Based Exton|OS Distro Now Ships with MATE 1.16 Desktop & Linux Kernel 4.9

              Our dearest Arne Exton ended 2016 in big style with the release of a new build of his Ubuntu-based Exton|OS computer operating system running the latest MATE desktop environment and Linux 4.9 kernel.

              Exton|OS Build 161231 launched on December 31, 2016, based on the stable Ubuntu 16.10 (Yakkety Yak) operating system and MATE 1.16 desktop environment. However, the most exciting thing about the new release is the implementation of a custom and fully patched Linux kernel 4.9.0-11-exton build.

  • Devices/Embedded

Free Software/Open Source

  • Open Source Software’s Top Five Challenges for 2017

    It’s a new year, and open source software is more popular than ever. But the open source community is also confronting a new set of challenges. Here’s what open source programmers and companies will need to do to keep thriving in 2017.

  • Open Source: 2017′s impetus

    Contrary to popular belief, open source is neither a company nor a product. It is a way of innovating and collaborating to create ground breaking ideas. Today’s most innovative technologies, from the Internet of Things (IoT) to machine learning, are all being driven by open source. All across Asia Pacific, we’re seeing exceptionally strong growth in the open source movement, as the open source ecosystem increasingly plays a key role in offering customers broader choice.

    Open source has the potential to impact people from all strata of society, and significantly enrich the way we live. Growing from just a coding method to a value philosophy, open source is currently being used to drive innovation and solve big national questions in emerging economies across the region. For example, open source has greatly benefited the development of smart city initiatives, such as Singapore’s Smart Nation vision. Without open source, these projects will become beholden to proprietary technology which can potentially hold back progress.

    Aside from that, we have also witnessed many organizations in Singapore being receptive to the idea of embarking on a digital transformation journey by using new ways of developing, delivering and integrating applications as a response to digital disruptions we are seeing across industries.

  • Can Automation Simplify Open Source for the Enterprise?

    An open source environment has long been enticing in theory to the enterprise but rather difficult to implement in practice.

    The idea of compiling your own data environment from legions of low-cost, interoperable components is indeed compelling, particularly when support is lacking from a proprietary vendor. But integration issues and the fairly substantial in-house expertise required to support an open environment are not to be dismissed.

    But that might not be the case for much longer. Along with the increased prevalence of open source solutions in the IT market today, there is also an accelerated trend toward greater automation and intelligent management that just might remove many of the headaches that accompany open architectures.

  • DronePan: An app that captures panorama views with your aircraft

    DronePan is a mobile-based autopilot app for DJI drones that automates the process of shooting aerial imagery for spherical panoramas. Users fly their aircraft to the desired panorama location and then launch DronePan, which temporarily takes control of the aircraft heading and camera angle. After a simple tap or two, DronePan begins shooting 15 to 25 photos automatically with the proper overlap required for an aerial spherical panorama. When the panorama is complete, users resume manual control and can fly to other locations to shoot more panoramas.

    DronePan started as an experiment in early 2015, and it has since gone through countless iterations based on constant testing by the now 30,000-strong user base. It is compatible with most DJI drones, and the most recent project added support for the newly released and ultra-portable drone known as the DJI Mavic.

  • OpenAi and Alphabet Open Up New Artificial Intelligence Tools

    DeepMind, Alphabet’s artificial intelligence group, announced announced recently that it is open sourcing DeepMind Lab, its 3D gameified platform for agent-based AI research.

  • Events

  • Web Browsers

    • Microsoft’s browsers may have hit rock bottom

      Microsoft’s Internet Explorer (IE) and Edge browsers may be near the bottom of their unprecedented crash in user share, measurements published Sunday show.

      Analytics vendor Net Applications reported that the user share of IE and Edge — an estimate of the proportion of the world’s personal computer owners who ran those browsers — dropped by seven-tenths of a percentage point in December, falling to a combined 26.2%.

      That seven-tenths of a point decline was notable because it was less than half that of the browsers’ average monthly reductions over the last 12, six and three months, which were 1.9, 1.8 and 1.5 points, respectively. The slowly-shrinking averages over the three different spans supported the idea that IE and Edge may be reaching rock bottom.

    • Mozilla

      • Mozilla Welcomes Ashley Boyd, VP of Advocacy

        Ashley was most recently Vice President & Chief Field Officer for MomsRising, a national grassroots organization in the U.S. As a founding staff member, she was instrumental in building MomsRising into an organization of one million grassroots supporters, 200 partner organizations and over 20 funding partners.

      • Mozilla Gets Strong Early Marks for Firefox Focus Privacy Protection

        Are you concerned about the amount of tracking you seem to experience online? Mozilla knows that a lot of people are, and we recently reported on a potential solution to the issue for iPhone users. Mozilla has launched a browser for iOS users that offers security features that block unwanted trackers.The new browser, called Firefox Focus, secures the users’ privacy by blocking web trackers, including analytics, social, and advertising trackers.

        Mozilla is taking the stance that many users are losing control of their digital lives and seeing their privacy compromised. Now, early reviews of Firefox Focus are rolling in, and they are quite positive.

      • Jamey Sharp On Whether You Should Translate Your Code To Rust

        Often times whenever mentioning a new security vulnerability in any piece of open-source/Linux software, it generally gets brought up in our forums “they should write that software in Rust” or similar comments about how XYZ project should see a rewrite in Rust for its memory-safety features. But is it really worthwhile porting your codebase to Rust?

        Jamey Sharp, the long-time open-source developer known for his X.Org contributions and recently developing Corrode as a way to translate C code into Rust code, has written a lengthy blog post about the subject of whether it’s worth it to translate — and hopefully with somewhat automated assistance of Corrode — push your project into Rustlang.

  • Public Services/Government

    • GDS pushes open source code to software stage

      Programme will involve selecting code to develop to software in effort to promote reusability

      The Government Digital Service (GDS) has begun to shift its work on open source towards producing more software rather than simply releasing code.


      The Government recently stepped up its involvement in the international open source community in signing up to the Paris Declaration as part of the Open Government Partnership. This commits it to promoting the transparency and accountability of the relevant code and algorithms “wherever possible and appropriate”.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

    • Are ‘open source’ seeds necessary for a resilient food system?

      Frank Morton has been breeding lettuce since the 1980s. His company offers 114 varieties, among them Outredgeous, which last year became the first plant that NASA astronauts grew and ate in space.

      For nearly 20 years, Morton’s work was limited only by his imagination and by how many kinds of lettuce he could get his hands on.

      But in the early 2000s, he started noticing more lettuces were patented, meaning he would not be able to use them for breeding. The patents weren’t just for types of lettuce, but specific traits such as resistance to a disease, a particular shade of red or green, or curliness of the leaf.

    • Open Hardware/Modding

      • RooBee One Open Source SLA/DLP 3D Printer

        Aldric Negrier, a Portuguese Maker and owner of RepRap Algarve, has unveiled a new SLA/DLP 3D printer he has created in the form of the RooBee One.

        Watch the demonstration video below to learn more about the new 3D printer which has been constructed using an aluminium frame that offers an adjustable build volume from 80 x 60 x 200 mm up to a maximum 150 x 105 x 200mm

  • Standards/Consortia

    • ZigBee’s Dotdot language is the latest bid for IoT harmony

      As consumers watch another wave of home IoT devices emerge from CES this week, they’ll still be waiting for one technology that can make all those products work together.

      The ZigBee Alliance, a group of more than 400 companies that make things with the ZigBee wireless protocol, made a bid to provide that unifying technology right before the annual consumer electronics gathering kicks off.

      On Tuesday, ZigBee announced Dotdot, which it calls a universal language for IoT. Even though ZigBee is best known as an open wireless communications protocol used in many home IoT products, Dotdot is intended for use with any wireless technology. It defines things like how devices tell each other what they are and what they can do, which is important for making different objects around a home do things together.


  • Family Sues Apple for Not Making Thing It Patented

    A lawsuit filed against Apple this week argues that, by not actually making a product that it patented, the company is partly responsible for an automobile accident. According to Jalopnik, James and Bethany Modisette are suing the tech company after a car crash two years ago that killed one of their daughters and injured the rest of the family. The driver of the car who hit them had been using Apple’s FaceTime video chat at the time.

    The patent in question was first applied for in 2008, and describes “a lock-out mechanism to prevent operation of one or more functions of handheld computing devices by drivers when operating vehicles,” such as texting or video chatting.

  • Apple’s FaceTime blamed for girl’s highway crash death in new lawsuit

    Apple, maker of the ever-popular iPhone, is being sued on allegations that its FaceTime app contributed to the highway death of a 5-year-old girl named Moriah Modisette. In Denton County, Texas, on Christmas Eve 2014, a man smashed into the Modisette family’s Toyota Camry as it stopped in traffic on southbound Interstate 35W. Police say that the driver was using the FaceTime application and never saw the brake lights ahead of him. In addition to the tragedy, father James, mother Bethany, and daughter Isabella all suffered non-fatal injuries during the crash two years ago.

  • A Christmas Wish (List) Gone Wrong

    My wife’s family are nice people. They’ve kind of gotten used to me hanging around. It’s been over a quarter century, I guess you can eventually get used to anything.

    My sister-in-law, DR, and her family always get me a gift at Christmas. It’s usually something practical and clearly well-intended, if not something I’d pick out for myself.

    This year, DR’s seven-year-old twins are really excited about the present I’m getting this year. It’s a big box. It’s heavy. And they tell me I’m going to love it. They’re quite sure of this. I’ve had a few more Christmases than those two, so I’m not quite as excited. But they’ve gone into this frenzy of anticipation, so I let them help me rip the paper off.

  • Hardware

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Japan Copes with the Disappearing Eel

      One hot evening last July, I visited the Michelin-starred unagi, or eel, restaurant Nodaiwa, which sits in a quiet basement beneath Tokyo’s glamorous Ginza shopping district. Next door is the world’s most famous sushi restaurant, Sukiyabashi Jiro, which was the subject of a documentary from 2012 called “Jiro Dreams of Sushi.” The restaurant is now so famous that a sign, written in English, sits outside its entrance, asking visitors not to take photographs.

      In recent years, less benign developments have forced Nodaiwa to place a sign at its entrance as well. Whenever I visit, I count myself lucky to find the following message written on it, in Japanese: “Today we have natural Japanese eel.”

  • Security

    • Android, Debian & Ubuntu Top List Of CVE Vulnerabilities In 2016[Ed: while Microsoft lies]

      On a CVE basis for the number of distinct vulnerabilities, Android is ranked as having the most vulnerability of any piece of software for 2016 followed by Debian and Ubuntu Linux while coming in behind them is the Adobe Flash Player.

      The CVEDetails.com tracking service has compiled a list of software with the most active CVEs. The list isn’t limited to just operating systems but all software with Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures.

    • Using systemd for more secure services in Fedora

      The AF_PACKET local privilege escalation (also known as CVE-2016-8655) has been fixed by most distributions at this point; stable kernels addressing the problem were released on December 10. But, as a discussion on the fedora-devel mailing list shows, systemd now provides options that could help mitigate CVE-2016-8655 and, more importantly, other vulnerabilities that remain undiscovered or have yet to be introduced. The genesis for the discussion was a blog post from Lennart Poettering about the RestrictAddressFamilies directive, but recent systemd versions have other sandboxing features that could be used to head off the next vulnerability.

      Fedora project leader Matthew Miller noted the blog post and wondered if the RestrictAddressFamilies directive could be more widely applied in Fedora. That directive allows administrators to restrict access to the network address families a service can use. For example, most services do not require the raw packet access that AF_PACKET provides, so turning off access to that will harden those services to some extent. But Miller was also curious if there were other systemd security features that the distribution should be taking advantage of.

    • Tuesday’s security updates
    • Musl 1.1.16 Released, Fixes CVE Integer Overflow, s390x Support

      A new version of the musl libc standard library is available for those interested in this lightweight alternative to glibc and others.

      Musl 1.1.16 was released to fix CVE-2016-8859, an under-allocation bug in regexec with an integer overflow. Besides this CVE, Musl 1.1.16 improves overflow handling as part of it and has also made other noteworthy bug fixes.

    • musl 1.1.16 release
    • Looks like you have a bad case of embedded libraries

      A long time ago pretty much every application and library carried around its own copy of zlib. zlib is a library that does really fast and really good compression and decompression. If you’re storing data or transmitting data, it’s very likely this library is in use. It’s easy to use and is public domain. It’s no surprise it became the industry standard.

    • Deprecation of Insecure Algorithms and Protocols in RHEL 6.9

      Cryptographic protocols and algorithms have a limited lifetime—much like everything else in technology. Algorithms that provide cryptographic hashes and encryption as well as cryptographic protocols have a lifetime after which they are considered either too risky to use or plain insecure. In this post, we will describe the changes planned for the 6.9 release of Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6, which is already on Production Phase 2.

    • lecture: Million Dollar Dissidents and the Rest of Us [Ed: video]

      In August 2016, Apple issued updates to iOS and macOS that patched three zero-day vulnerabilities that were being exploited in the wild to remotely install persistent malcode on a target’s device if they tapped on a specially crafted link. We linked the vulnerabilities and malcode to US-owned, Israel-based NSO Group, a government-exclusive surveillance vendor described by one of its founders as “a complete ghost”.

      Apple’s updates were the latest chapter in a yearlong investigation by Citizen Lab into a UAE-based threat actor targeting critics of the UAE at home and around the world. In this talk, we will explain how Citizen Lab discovered and tracked this threat actor, and uncovered the first publicly-reported iOS remote jailbreak used in the wild for mobile espionage. Using the NSO case, we will detail some of the tools and techniques we use to track these groups, and how they try to avoid detection and scrutiny. This investigation is Citizen Lab’s latest expose into the abuse of commercial “lawful intercept” malcode.

    • Class Breaks

      There’s a concept from computer security known as a class break. It’s a particular security vulnerability that breaks not just one system, but an entire class of systems. Examples might be a vulnerability in a particular operating system that allows an attacker to take remote control of every computer that runs on that system’s software. Or a vulnerability in Internet-enabled digital video recorders and webcams that allow an attacker to recruit those devices into a massive botnet.

      It’s a particular way computer systems can fail, exacerbated by the characteristics of computers and software. It only takes one smart person to figure out how to attack the system. Once he does that, he can write software that automates his attack. He can do it over the Internet, so he doesn’t have to be near his victim. He can automate his attack so it works while he sleeps. And then he can pass the ability to someone­ — or to lots of people — ­without the skill. This changes the nature of security failures, and completely upends how we need to defend against them.

  • Defence/Aggression

    • Far-right Israeli minister plans bill to annex one of biggest settlements

      The far-right Israeli education minister, Naftali Bennett, has vowed to introduce a bill this month to formally annex Maale Adumim, one of Israel’s largest settlement blocks in the occupied Palestinian territories.

      In remarks made at a museum in the city of 40,000 located outside Jerusalem, Bennett said: “After being here for 50 years, the time has come to end military rule.”

      The hardline leader of the Jewish Home party also made clear that he saw the annexation of Maale Adumim as a first step in annexing all of “area C”, the part of the occupied territories still under full Israeli control.

      “For this reason,” said Bennett, “by the end of the month, we will submit the bill for applying [Israeli] law to Judea and Samaria [the name used by Israelis for the occupied territories] and will embark on a new path. We will present to the cabinet a bill for applying Israeli law in Maale Adumim.”

    • Whether Or Not You Believe Russia Interfered In The Election, We Should All Be Worried About Escalation Based On Secret Info

      So, we just wrote about Obama administration’s tepid response to claims that Russians “interfered” with the Presidential election. In that post, we noted our concerns about the fact that we seem to be escalating a situation based on claims where we’re not allowed to see any of the actual evidence. I’ve seen a bunch of people arguing that anyone who won’t automatically accept that Russia interfered in the election should be dubbed either Putin supporters or, at the very least, “useful idiots” but we should be very, very careful about where this leads. I certainly think that there’s a tremendous possibility that Russian forces did intend to interfere with our election, but I’d certainly like to see some actual evidence — and the “evidence” provided so far shows no such thing.

      And this should scare you. Not because it means that anyone is lying, but because it’s setting the stage for very dangerous things. If we’re setting the precedent that the US government can escalate situations based on purely secret knowledge, what’s to stop them from doing so over and over again? Put another way: for those who dislike Trump, but are happy about the White House calling out and sanctioning Russia, how will you feel when President Trump makes similar claims about some other country (perhaps one blocking a new Trump hotel?), and proceeds to issue US government sanctions on that country — but without releasing any actual evidence of wrongdoing beyond “government agencies say they did bad things.” Won’t that be concerning too?

      Matt Taibbi, over at Rolling Stone, has an excellent article comparing this to when we started the war in Iraq — noting the similarities, in that the government (and the press) kept insisting that because certain government agencies said something (“Iraq has WMDs”), it must be true…

    • Leaked audio: Obama wanted ISIS to grow

      As President Obama reflects on his legacy, a recording of Secretary of State John Kerry conversing with leaders of Syrian opposition groups is casting more light on his approach to ISIS, indicating his administration believed that allowing the Islamic State to grow would serve the White House’s objective of ousting Syrian President Bashar Assad.

    • Russian government hackers do not appear to have targeted Vermont utility, say people close to investigation

      As federal officials investigate suspicious Internet activity found last week on a Vermont utility computer, they are finding evidence that the incident is not linked to any Russian government effort to target or hack the utility, according to experts and officials close to the investigation.

      An employee at Burlington Electric Department was checking his Yahoo email account Friday and triggered an alert indicating that his computer had connected to a suspicious IP address associated by authorities with the Russian hacking operation that infiltrated the Democratic Party. Officials told the company that traffic with this particular address is found elsewhere in the country and is not unique to Burlington Electric, suggesting the company wasn’t being targeted by the Russians. Indeed, officials say it is possible that the traffic is benign, since this particular IP address is not always connected to malicious activity.

    • Washington Post Falsely Claims Russia Hacked Vermont Utility, Because OMG RUSSIANS!

      When a mainstream press that isn’t always good at what it does meets technology it doesn’t understand, the end result is often frustrating, if not comedic. Hacking is certainly no exception, given it’s a realm where perpetrators are difficult to identify, hard proof is often impossible to come by, and hackers worth their salt either leave false footprints — or no footprints at all. Throw in a press that’s incapable of identifying and avoiding its own nationalism, and often all-too-gullible to intelligence industry influence, and you’ve got a fairly solid recipe for dysfunction when it comes to hacking-related news coverage.

      Some of the resulting coverage has been highly entertaining — such as CNN using a screen shot from the popular game Fallout 4 in a story about hacking and hoping nobody would notice. Other examples have been decidedly more troubling, such as the Washington Post’s epic face plant over the holiday break.

  • Finance

    • Finland trials basic income for unemployed

      Finland has become the first country in Europe to pay its unemployed citizens a basic monthly income, amounting to €560 (£477/US$587), in a unique social experiment that is hoped to cut government red tape, reduce poverty and boost employment.

      Olli Kangas from the Finnish government agency KELA, which is responsible for the country’s social benefits, said on Monday that the two-year trial with 2,000 randomly picked citizens receiving unemployment benefits began on 1 January.

    • Trump Still Falsely Taking Credit For Sprint Jobs He Had Nothing To Do With

      Last month, we noted how Donald Trump proudly implied he was single-handedly responsible for Japan’s Softbank bringing 50,000 jobs and $50 billion in investment to the United States. The problem, of course, is that it’s not clear those numbers are entirely real, and there’s absolutely no evidence suggesting they had anything to do with Donald Trump. The jobs were first unveiled back in October as part of a somewhat ambiguous $100 billion global investment investment fund between Softbank and Saudi Arabia aimed at boosting technology spending worldwide.

    • Ambassador to EU quits and warns staff over ‘muddled thinking’

      Britain’s ambassador to the European Union Sir Ivan Rogers dealt a blow to the UK’s Brexit negotiations by quitting and urging his fellow British civil servants in Brussels to assert their independence by challenging “ill-founded arguments and muddled thinking”.

      Sir Ivan Rogers said, in an email explaining his reasons for his abrupt departure to the UK’s Brussels diplomatic staff at UKRep, that he was leaving now to give time for his successor to take charge of the lengthy negotiations process which starts in March. But he also made it clear that he had been frustrated by politicians who disliked his warnings about the potential pitfalls in the Brexit process.

      He also revealed that the basic structure of the UK Brexit negotiating team had not yet been resolved, let alone a negotiating strategy.

    • The meaning of Brexit

      “Brexit means Brexit” has quickly passed from a convenient political slogan to something approaching a national joke.

      Any discussion of the meaning of Brexit is haunted by what is now a stock catchphrase.

      Like a game show host, one only has to ask what Brexit means to get the Pavlovian, chucklesome response of “Brexit means Brexit”.

    • The resignation of Sir Ivan Rogers

      The announcement today of the resignation of Sir Ivan Rogers as the UK’s ambassador to the EU is significant.

      Coming just weeks before the planned Article 50 notification, the resignation is a setback on any sensible view.

      During the run up to the notification, when the government (we are told) is finalising its negotiation strategy, the UK is likely not to have a lead negotiator in place in Brussels, let alone one helping shape the Brexit strategy.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • WikiLeaks’ Assange: Our Source Is Not the Russian Gov’t — They Are Trying to Delegitimize Trump

      In an interview with Fox News Channel host Sean Hannity, WikLeaks founder Julian Assange doubled down on a claim he had made last month on Hannity’s radio show, which was the Russian government nor any state party of Russia were the source of hacks that exposed thousands of confidential Democratic Party emails.

      “We can say – we have said repeatedly over the last two months, our source is not the Russian government and it is not the state party,” Assange said.

    • Congressman Goodlatte Decides To Refill The Swamp By Gutting Congressional Ethics Office… But Drops It After Bad Publicity

      Well, we’re into a new year, and the promised “swamp draining” in Washington DC continues to move in the other direction. Rep. Bob Goodlatte (whose name you may remember from the fact that he’s leading the charge on copyright reform (but who has a history of being terrible on copyright), or perhaps from the fact that he’s also bad on surveillance) has made the surprise move of completely gutting the Office of Congressional Ethics, and basically taking away its independence from Congress.

    • Ex-MI6 boss warns over electronic voting risk

      The former head of MI6 has warned against adopting electronic voting systems owing to fears about international cyber warfare.

      Sir John Sawers told the BBC that casting a ballot with pencil and paper was “actually much more secure”.

      He warned: “The more things that go online, the more susceptible you are to cyber attacks.”

      But campaigners for electronic voting said there was “no evidence” it was more open to fraud.

      Electronic voting allows people to make their choices via a computer or smartphone, instead of people having to go to a polling station.

    • Ford’s US Expansion Is a Victory for Trump’s Trolling Tactics

      President-elect Trump and green jobs advocates rarely find themselves on the same side. Today is an exception. All it seems to have taken was a little trolling.

      Ford Motor Company said this morning that it’s spending $700 million to expand its Flat Rock, Michigan, plant to develop a new generation of electric and autonomous vehicles. The expansion will add 700 production jobs, according to the company’s official announcement.

    • Schumer: Trump ‘really dumb’ for attacking intelligence agencies

      New Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said Tuesday that President-elect Donald Trump is “being really dumb” by taking on the Intelligence Community and its assessments on Russia’s cyber activities.

      “Let me tell you, you take on the intelligence community, they have six ways from Sunday at getting back at you,” Schumer told MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow.

      “So even for a practical supposedly hard-nosed businessman, he’s being really dumb to do this.”

    • House GOP scraps plan to gut ethics watchdog after emergency meeting

      House Republicans abruptly withdrew a proposal to weaken an independent ethics watchdog on Tuesday, in a rocky start to the new Congress.

      The 115th session hadn’t even formally gaveled in before House GOP leaders held an emergency conference meeting to discuss blowback against the party’s vote to gut the chamber’s independent ethics watchdog.

      The reversal of course came hours after President-elect Donald Trump issued a series of tweets questioning the timing of the changes, which would put the independent Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE) under oversight of the House Ethics Committee.

      Even before Trump weighed in, a barrage of negative headlines and public outcry made it difficult for Republicans to stand by the measure, especially given that the Republican president-elect had campaigned on a promise to “drain the swamp” of Washington, D.C., of corruption.

      “We shot ourselves in the foot,” Rep. Mike Simpson (R-Idaho) told reporters after the conference meeting.

    • Welcome to the One-Party State

      Republicans control the House, Senate, and presidency. It’s time we start calling this what it is.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • New year, same old censorship issues for Facebook

      Just a couple of days into the new year, Facebook has already apologized for censorship — it blocked a photo of a nude statue of Neptune, the sea god.

      It was a mistake for the social network to tell an Italian art historian that the image of the statue was “explicitly sexual” and “excessively shows the body or unnecessarily concentrates on body parts,” the company said in a statement to Mashable.

    • Tackle Internet censorship directly — not through antitrust law

      Sewlyn Duke’s recent op-ed for The Hill, “Antitrust should be used to break up partisan tech giants like Facebook, Google,” addresses the serious problem of how a few privately owned internet companies have unprecedented control over the distribution of information.

      As Jeffrey Rosen has noted, “lawyers at Google, YouTube, Facebook, and Twit­ter have more power over who can speak and who can be heard than any president, judge, or monarch.”

      However, using antitrust laws to address this would be ineffective and likely illegal without new legislation.

    • Facebook Is Sorry for Taking Down a Photo of a Nude Neptune Statue

      Facebook has apologized for mistakenly blocking a photo of a famous statue for being “sexually explicit.”

      The social media giant flagged a photograph of a 16th-century statue of the sea god Neptune in the Italian city of Bologna, Mashable reported. The picture of the sculpture—which was created in the 1560s—was featured on the Facebook page of local writer and art historian Elisa Barbari called “Stories, curiosities and view of Bologna.”

    • Delete Everything! Torch Your Facebook Account and Walk Away

      Hoo, boy. It’s a world-eating tech company that arguably threatens a free press and a democratic society in the U.S. and wants to fly laser drones over developing countries. Run by a founder who is at turns both ruthless and clueless in a way that would be funny if it weren’t also terrifying. Gave shit-poster supporter Palmer Luckey $2 billion. Many, very bad media companies wouldn’t exist without it. Jokes about it being the place where all your racist classmates from high school hang out are well-trodden territory, but, you know, also true? Changing the color of your profile pic to support [FILL IN THE BLANK]. “Maybe” attending events. Trending topics. Untagging yourself.

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Mark Zuckerberg’s 2017 plan to visit all US states hints at political ambitions

      Mark Zuckerberg has given more weight to the idea that he could move into politics with the announcement of a statesmanly personal challenge for 2017.

      In previous years the Facebook CEO has learned Mandarin, pledged to run at least a mile each day and built a virtual assistant called Jarvis to control his home. This year he wants to have visited and met people in every state in the US. He’s already visited about 20 states, which means he has to travel to about 30 states by the end of the year.

      “After a tumultuous last year, my hope for this challenge is to get out and talk to more people about how they’re living, working and thinking about the future,” he said in a Facebook post announcing the challenge.

      “For decades, technology and globalization have made us more productive and connected. This has created many benefits, but for a lot of people it has also made life more challenging. This has contributed to a greater sense of division than I have felt in my lifetime. We need to find a way to change the game so it works for everyone.”

    • The Real Name Fallacy

      People often say that online behavior would improve if every comment system forced people to use their real names. It sounds like it should be true – surely nobody would say mean things if they faced consequences for their actions?

      Yet the balance of experimental evidence over the past thirty years suggests that this is not the case. Not only would removing anonymity fail to consistently improve online community behavior – forcing real names in online communities could also increase discrimination and worsen harassment.

      We need to change our entire approach to the question. Our concerns about anonymity are overly-simplistic; system design can’t solve social problems without actual social change.

    • Facebook buys data on users’ offline habits for better ads

      At this point, it’s well-known that Facebook is as much an advertising company as it is a social network. The company is probably second only to Google in the data it collects on users, but the info we all share on the Facebook site just isn’t enough. A report from ProPublica published this week digs into the vast network of third-party data that Facebook can purchase to fill out what it knows about its users. The fact that Facebook is buying data on its users isn’t new — the company first signed a deal with data broker Datalogix in 2012 — but ProPublica’s report nonetheless contains a lot of info on the visibility Facebook may have into your life.

      Currently, Facebook works with six data partners in the US: Acxiom, Epsilon, Experian, Oracle Data Cloud, TransUnion and WPP. For the most part, these providers deal in financial info; ProPublica notes that the categories coming from these sources include things like “total liquid investible assets $1-$24,999,” “People in households that have an estimated household income of between $100K and $125K and “Individuals that are frequent transactor at lower cost department or dollar stores.” Specifically, the report notes that this data is focused on Facebook users’ offline behavior, not just what they do online.

    • Build your own NSA [Ed: video]

      When thinking about surveillance, everyone worries about government agencies like the NSA and big corporations like Google and Facebook. But actually there are hundreds of companies that have also discovered data collection as a revenue source. We decided to do an experiment: Using simple social engineering techniques, we tried to get the most personal you may have in your procession.

      When thinking about surveillance, everyone worries about government agencies like the NSA and big corporations like Google and Facebook. But actually there are hundreds of companies that have also discovered data collection as a revenue source. Companies which are quite big, with thousands of employees but names you maybe never heard of. They all try to get their hands on your personal data, often with illegal methods. Most of them keep their data to themselves, some exchange it, but a few sell it to anyone who’s willing to pay.

    • Malcolm Gladwell’s Ridiculous Attack On Ed Snowden Based On Weird Prejudice About How A Whistleblower Should Look

      There was a time when I was a fan of Malcolm Gladwell. He’s an astoundingly good story teller, and a great writer. But he’s also got a pretty long history of… just being wrong. Over the years, Gladwell’s willingness to go for the good story over the facts has become increasingly clear. Famously, Steven Pinker ripped Gladwell’s serial problems many years ago, but it hasn’t really stopped Gladwell since then. If you’ve ever quoted “the 10,000 hour rule” or suggested that someone can become an expert in something if they just spend 10,000 hours doing it, you’ve been fooled by Gladwell. Even the guy whose one study Gladwell based the idea on loudly debunked the claim, and just this past year put out his own book that is basically trying to rectify the false beliefs that have spread around the globe from people believing Gladwell’s incorrect spin.

      So, suffice it to say I was already skeptical of Gladwell’s recent piece attacking Ed Snowden as not being a “real” whistleblower. But the piece is much, much worse than even I expected. The short, Gladwellian-style summary of it might be: real whistleblowers have to look the part, and they need to be part of an Ivy League elite, with clear, noble reasons behind what they did. Here’s how Gladwell describes Daniel Ellsberg, the guy who leaked the Pentagon Papers, and to whom Gladwell has given his stamp of approval as a “Real Whistleblower™”

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • UN expert on extreme poverty and human rights to visit Saudi Arabia

      United Nations Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, Philip Alston, will undertake an official visit to Saudi Arabia from 8 to 19 January 2017 to consider the Saudi Government’s efforts to eradicate poverty and how such efforts relate to its international human rights obligations.

      “Saudi Arabia is a rich country in many respects, but as in all countries, challenges relating to poverty still exist,” noted the independent expert designated by the UN Human Rights Council to monitor, report and advise on extreme poverty and human rights.

    • The Unbelievers: Muslims who leave Islam

      When Sadia left her faith at 15, she faced abandonment, now she lives a life completely detached from her childhood. Jessica Langton reports

    • Most imams in France (and Belgium) forbid greetings at Christmas and New Year

      Most imams in France (and Belgium) forbid the faithful from celebrating Christmas and the New Year and call on Muslims not to extend holidays greetings. This is what French imam Hocine Drouiche wrote on his Facebook page. He is one of the most open-minded French Muslim clerics opposed to extremism. A tireless promoter and supporter of dialogue between different faiths, he condemns those who repeat the “mantra” that Islam is a religion of peace but then consider expressing season’s greetings “as an insult” because “this is not our religion.”

      For him, the Islam professed by these imams, who are the majority in France, in Belgium, and in many other countries, “is not a true Islam of peace and shared life”. Qurʾānic schools in the West are places that extol political Islam based on jihad and hatred of the “enemies.” Fortunately, there are also “open-minded Muslims, who greet you with a big smile and wish you a Happy New Year.”

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • CloudFlare Gets Caught Out By 2016 Leap Second

      The leap second caused CloudFlare’s RRDNS software to “panic,” but the error was quickly identified

      The extra leap second added on to the end of 2016 may not have had an effect on most people, but it did catch out a few web companies who failed to factor it in.

      Web services and security firm CloudFlare was one such example. A small number of its servers went down at midnight UTC on New Year’s Day due to an error in its RRDNS software, a domain name service (DNS) proxy that was written to help scale CloudFlare’s DNS infrastructure, which limited web access for some of its customers.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Copyrights

      • Our Unfortunate Annual Tradition: A Look At What Should Have Entered The Public Domain, But Didn’t

        Each year, at the beginning of January, we have the unfortunate job of highlighting the works that were supposed to be entering the public domain on January 1st, but didn’t (in the US at least) thanks to retroactive copyright term extension. As we’ve noted, copyright term extension makes absolutely no sense if you understand the supposed purpose of copyright. Remember, the idea behind copyright is that it is supposed to be an important incentive to get people to create a work. And the deal is that in exchange for creating the work, the copyright holder (who may not be the creator…) is given an exclusive monopoly on certain elements of that work for a set period of time, after which it goes into the public domain. That means that any work created under an old regime had enough incentive to be created. Retroactively extending the copyright makes no sense. The work was already created. It needs no greater incentive. The only thing it serves to do is to take away works from the public domain that the public was promised in exchange for the original copyright holder’s monopoly. It’s a disgrace.

      • Rightscorp Rings In The New Year By Vowing To Find New Ways To Lose Money In 2017

        Rightscorp is doing some aggressive whistling in the dark. The company that thought it could tackle piracy with threatening letters, threatening robocalls, and suing ISPs for contributory infringement has been bleeding money since its inception.

        By the middle of 2015, Rightscorp’s letter-writing campaign to torrenters had led to nothing resembling a viable business model.

      • Research: Piracy ‘Warnings’ Fail to Boost Box Office Revenues

        A new academic study shows that graduated response policies against file-sharers fail to boost box office revenues. The empirical research, which looked at the effects in various countries including the United States, suggests that these anti-piracy measures are not as effective as the movie studios had hoped.


Links 3/1/2017: Microsoft Imposing TPM2 on Linux, ASUS Bringing Out Android Phones

Posted in News Roundup at 9:28 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish



  • 4 hot skills for Linux pros in 2017

    One of the problems with becoming a Linux expert is the definition is constantly changing. When I started in the Linux world, to be considered a Linux professional, you had to be able to compile your own kernel. Heck, if you wanted to use Linux on a laptop, you had to compile a custom kernel to even be a user. These days, compiling your own kernel is usually a waste of time. That’s not to say it isn’t important, but in the open source world we build on the successes of others, and Linux distributions provide us with kernels that work well. Although not always that drastic, the demands on IT professionals change every year.

  • Kernel Space

    • Ridiculously small Linux build lands with ridiculously few swears

      The latest Linux 4.10-rc2 build nearly didn’t happen because L-triptophaniac developers were Christmassing, but Linux Torvalds decided to set it free as a New Year treat.

      Explaining the build, Torvalds wrote that “rc2 is ridiculously and unrealistically small. I almost decided to skip rc2 entirely, but a small little meaningless release every once in a while never hurt anybody”.

    • Linus Torvalds Announces Ridiculously Small Second Linux 4.10 Release Candidate

      The first day of 2017 starts off for Linux users with the release of the second RC (Release Candidate) development version of the upcoming Linux 4.10 kernel, as announced by Linus Torvalds himself.

      As expected, Linux kernel 4.10 entered development two weeks after the release of Linux kernel 4.9, on Christmas Day (December 25, 2016), but don’t expect to see any major improvements or any other exciting things in RC2, which comes one week after the release of the first RC, because most of the developers were busy partying.

    • TPM2 and Linux

      Recently Microsoft started mandating TPM2 as a hardware requirement for all platforms running recent versions of windows. This means that eventually all shipping systems (starting with laptops first) will have a TPM2 chip. The reason this impacts Linux is that TPM2 is radically different from its predecessor TPM1.2; so different, in fact, that none of the existing TPM1.2 software on Linux (trousers, the libtpm.so plug in for openssl, even my gnome keyring enhancements) will work with TPM2. The purpose of this blog is to explore the differences and how we can make ready for the transition.

    • The definitive guide to synclient

      This post describes the synclient tool, part of the xf86-input-synaptics package. It does not describe the various options, that’s what the synclient(1) and synaptics(4) man pages are for. This post describes what synclient is, where it came from and how it works on a high level. Think of it as a anti-bus-factor post.

    • Graphics Stack

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

      • KDE Kirigami UI 2.0 Beta Released: Better Android Integration, QQC2 Focus

        Kirigami is KDE’s set of UI components and philosophy / patterns announced last year for developing “intuitive and consistent apps that provide a great user experience” and do have convergence applications in mind. Now ringing in 2017, the first beta of Kirigami 2.0 is now available.

      • KDevelop 5.1 Beta 1 released

        We are happy to announce the release of KDevelop 5.1 Beta! Tons of new stuff entered KDevelop 5.1, a bigger blog post show-casing all the features in 5.1 will follow when we release the final version. Here’s a brief summary of what’s new in this version:

      • KDevelop 5.1 Beta 1 Released With LLDB Debugger Support
      • Interview with Ismail Tarchoun

        There are some features I want to see in Krita, for example: a small preview window: it’s essential to get a feeling of the painting in general, otherwise it might turn out weird. I also wish Krita could import more brushes from other programs. But nothing is really that bothersome about Krita, there are some bugs, but they are constantly being fixed by the awesome devs.


        First, I made a rough sketch, then I started laying in some general colors using a large soft brush (deevad 4a airbrush by David Revoy) without caring about the details, only basic colors and a basic idea of how the painting is lit. Then I started going into details using a smaller sized brush (deevad 1f draw brush). I usually paint new details in a separate layer, then merge it down if I’m happy with the results, if not I, I delete the layer and paint a new one. I use the liquify tool a lot to fix the proportions or any anomaly. For the hair I used the brush (deevad 2d flat old) and the hair brush (vb3BE by Vasco Alexander Basque) which I also used for the hat. When the painting is done I use filters to adjust the colors and contrast, I then make a new layer for final and minor tweaks here and there.

  • Distributions

    • New Releases

    • PCLinuxOS/Mageia/Mandriva Family

      • OpenMandriva Lx 3.01 review

        OpenMandriva is a Linux distribution whose roots and traditions date back to the Mandrake/Mandriva Linux era, what it has in common with with ROSA Linux and Mageia. The latest edition of the desktop distribution – OpenMandriva Lx 3.01, was released on December 25 2016, so it was a nice Christmas present to OpenMandriva fans.

      • OpenMandriva Lx 3.0: a faint shadow of name

        The general feel of OpenMandriva Lx 3.0 was fast and solid.

        However, that was only on the surface. As soon as you start to look just a little bit deeper, issues go out here and there. High memory usage, keyboard layout glitch, inadequate size of notification area icons, problems with updates – all of that leave a bad taste after the Live Run of OpenMandriva Lx 3.0.

        Will it ever gain the popularity its parent had just few years ago? I have a very big doubt.

      • The January 2017 Issue of the PCLinuxOS Magazine
    • Arch Family

      • Arch-based Bluestar Linux Makes Plasma 5 Usable

        Last week I mentioned that I liked Bluestar Linux very much and was probably going to go ahead and take the leap to it and Plasma 5. I had been testing Plasma 5 on various distributions in 2016 with poor results until I tested Arch-based Bluestar 4.8.13. Preliminary tests indicated it might be possible to migrate. So, I learned a bit more about Bluestar this passed weekend and thought I’d share. I’ve also rounded up the best Linux tidbits from today’s headlines as well.

        First up, yes there is a graphical package manager. PacmanXG to be exact. I’d run into PacmanXG a few times over the years, but it appears it too has matured and seems to work rather well. The sort by groups could be better, but otherwise it’s quite capable complete with history, log, and the command-line outputs. Updates come fairly routinely in Bluestar, although most are from Arch. I’ve been applying the recommended updates without any negative side-effects as of yet.

    • Red Hat Family

      • Avoid echo chambers and make open decisions

        The Open Decision Framework (a model for applying open source principles to business decisions) is nuanced. On the one hand, it’s a set of guidelines you can use to operate in a more open manner when you’re making decisions that affect others. On the other hand, more holistically, it represents the essence of the culture described in Jim Whitehurst’s The Open Organization. Usually, making open decisions isn’t as easy as following a recipe. Every situation is unique, and given the pace of activity in a typical, busy work day, it takes a concerted effort to check your actions against a set of principles–even if you are well steeped in them.

      • Industry Spotlight: Red Hat Powers the API Economy

        APIs are the building blocks of today’s digital economy. Businesses are using them to fuel innovation between departments and to share company data and content with customers or partners at scale. They’re also using APIs to drive new revenue streams and to enable cross-enterprise agility. Although more organizations are building APIs with the goal of driving more value from their digital assets, many of those companies have trouble managing their APIs effectively, especially at scale. Red Hat brings order to API chaos so software teams can spend more time creating tangible business value.

        “You can’t just create an API and think you’re done with it,” said Sameer Parulkar, product marketing manager, Enterprise Middleware, at Red Hat, Inc. “You may create an API for a particular purpose today, but what about when requirements change tomorrow? How will you manage and secure that API? You need a scalable, enterprise-class way of doing all that.”

      • Red Hat OpenStack Platform 10 now available

        Red Hat, Inc. has announced the availability of Red Hat OpenStack Platform 10, the company’s massively-scalable and agile cloud Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) solution.

        Based on the upstream OpenStack ‘Newton’ release, Red Hat OpenStack Platform 10 drives new features that increase system-wide scalability, ease infrastructure management, and improve orchestration, while also enhancing network performance and platform security.

      • Finance

    • Debian Family

      • ScreenLock on Jessie’s systemd

        Something I was used to and which came as standard on wheezy if you installed acpi-support was screen locking when you where suspending, hibernating, …

        This is something that I still haven’t found on Jessie and which somebody had point me to solve via /lib/systemd/system-sleep/whatever hacking, but that didn’t seem quite right, so I gave it a look again and this time I was able to add some config files at /etc/systemd and then a script which does what acpi-support used to do before

      • Happy New Year – My Free Software activities in December 2016
      • Derivatives

        • Canonical/Ubuntu

          • Ubuntu 17.04 Skips First Alpha for Opt-In Flavors, GCC 6.3.0 Hits the Repository

            You should know that we’re always monitoring the development cycle of every new Ubuntu Linux release, as well as that Ubuntu 17.04 is open for development as of October 20, 2016, when the toolchain got uploaded.

            Daily build images were published a few days later after that date and were initially based on the Ubuntu 16.10 (Yakkety Yak) repository, but as Canonical’s engineers never rest, they manage to bring all the latest Open Source software applications and GNU/Linux technologies to Ubuntu 17.04 (Zesty Zapus).

            These include Linux kernel 4.9.0, Mesa 13.0.2 3D Graphics Library, systemd 232, GCC (GNU Compiler Collection) 6.3.0, support for IPP Everywhere Apple AirPrint compatible printers a.k.a. driverless printing, various improvements to the Unity 8 interface, which is still available as a preview, and some packages from the GNOME 3.22 Stack.

          • Flavours and Variants

            • Distro Review Of The Week – Ubuntu MATE 16.10

              Ubuntu has been the focus of Linux world for a long time. But, it received a lot of criticism when it shifted to Unity interface. The interface came kind of a shock to many devoted users of the old Ubuntu. This caused many users either to shift to other distributions or flavors of Ubuntu itself. Now, there is a similar story which many new users don’t know about.

            • What Are The Differences Between Ubuntu Official Flavors?

              For most new users, the fact that there are more than 8 official “editions” of one Ubuntu operating system is hard to understand. It’s particularly similar with Microsoft having some editions for Windows XP, and the users would ask “what are the differences?”. This article mentions the differences of nine Ubuntu official “editions” (called flavors) based on the desktop interface, specific purpose, and LTS duration. This article also provides more information such as Wikipedia entries and other important resources to make it simpler to understand. I write this article in January 2017 and the number of flavors can be increased or decreased later.

  • Devices/Embedded

    • Tiny COM runs Android Nougat on a Snapdragon 820

      Intrinsyc’s 50 x 25mm “Open-Q 820 µSOM” expands upon the Snapdragon 820 with Android 7.0, 3GB LPDDR4, 32GB UFS storage, WiFi, BT, and extended temps.

      Intrinsyc has launched the smallest Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 based computer-on-module to date for $239, as well as an Open-Q µ820 Development Kit selling for $579. The Open-Q 820 µSOM module measures 50 x 25mm compared to Intrinsyc’s year-old, 82 x 42mm Open-Q 820 module. It also edges out other contenders we’ve seen in the Snapdragon 820 COM market, at least as far as size is concerned. These include the 53 x 25mm eInfochips Eragon 820 SOM and 50 x 28mm Inforce 6601 Micro SOM.

    • Ringing in 2017 with 90 hacker-friendly single board computers

      Our New Year’s guide to hacker-friendly single board computers turned up 90 boards, ranging from powerful media playing rigs to power-sipping IoT platforms.

      Community backed, open spec single board computers running Linux and Android sit at the intersection between the commercial embedded market and the open source maker community. Hacker boards also play a key role in developing the Internet of Things devices that will increasingly dominate our technology economy in the coming years, from home automation devices to industrial equipment to drones.

    • Phones

Free Software/Open Source

  • Tapitoo OpenCart: An open source e-commerce mobile app

    Tapitoo OpenCart is an open source online store app designed to help online stores increase their visibility and make a greater impact in their most competitive markets. We decided to develop and app that can make the integration with the biggest e-commerce backend solutions, as well as with custom stores, as seamless as possible.

    CyberMonday and CyberWeek aside, millions rely on the mobile purchasing channel, a preference that has revolutionized online commerce. Currently, mobile accounts for 40% of all e-commerce revenue and industry experts expect it to grow to 70% in just a few years. Today mobile apps are not just recommended for any e-commerce effort, but they are required for a retailer’s survival. According to Google, “Not having a mobile optimized site is like closing your store one day each week.”

  • Open Source Enterprise Trends for 2017

    Nothing ever goes completely according to plan. That being said, it’s both tempting and necessary at the beginning of the year to look ahead to where things are going. Here’s a short list of things to consider as we look at the road ahead for Linux, open source and the enterprise.

  • Events

    • Circo loco 2017

      Due to popular demand I’m sharing my plans for the upcoming conference season. Here is a list of events I plan to visit and speak at (hopefully). The list will be updated throughout the year so please subscribe to the comments section to receive a notification when that happens! I’m open to meeting new people so ping me for a beer if you are attending some of these events!

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • Firefox’s “Delete Node” eliminates pesky content-hiding banners

        It’s trendy among web designers today — the kind who care more about showing ads than about the people reading their pages — to use fixed banner elements that hide part of the page. In other words, you have a header, some content, and maybe a footer; and when you scroll the content to get to the next page, the header and footer stay in place, meaning that you can only read the few lines sandwiched in between them. But at least you can see the name of the site no matter how far you scroll down in the article! Wouldn’t want to forget the site name!

        Worse, many of these sites don’t scroll properly. If you Page Down, the content moves a full page up, which means that the top of the new page is now hidden under that fixed banner and you have to scroll back up a few lines to continue reading where you left off. David Pogue wrote about that problem recently and it got a lot of play when Slashdot picked it up: These 18 big websites fail the space-bar scrolling test.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

  • Programming/Development

    • What does cross stitch have to do with programming? More than you think

      Arts and crafts. Creativity and diligence. Taking the mundane and adding that touch of genius and individuality. A needleworker spends hours creating artwork with simple threads of many colors, and programming is the same—words and numbers woven over hours to create something with a purpose.

      Recently, I’ve started learning JavaScript, and around the same time I also started teaching myself cross stitching. As I’ve learned both I’ve experienced the parallels between learning a traditional craft like cross stitching and a modern craft like programming. Learning traditional crafts can teach us new ways for learning coding efficiently as the techniques and skills acquired when learning traditional crafts are easily transferable to modern crafts like programming.

    • Dawn-CC: Automatically Adding OpenACC/OpenMP Directives To Programs

      The DawnCC project is out of the UFMG University and aims to provide automatic parallelization of code for mobile devices and other supported software/hardware of OpenACC and OpenMP.

      DawnCC attempts to automatically add OpenACC and OpenMP directives to C and C++ code-bases. The Dawn compiler makes use of LLVM IR to analyze memory chunks, dependencies within loops, etc, in order to be able to automatically produce code that makes use of OpenMP and OpenACC where relevant.


  • One Pig Of A Year

    The latest ugly online tantrum by our sociopathic toddler-elect – Best concise response: “You’re an awful human being” – marks the perfect end to a perfect shitstorm of a year, from Aleppo to electoral carnage to Bowie/Cohen/Fisher/et al to Istanbul. Alas, given what might be coming, any mindful welcome to a new year has to encompass some dread with hope. So we have both, as do many others. Among some brilliant, brutal, occasionally sanguine videos summarizing the year is Friend Dog Studio’s “trailer” for the horror movie of the year, “2016: The Movie,” and Tom and Hubert’s portrait of an oblivious guy who slept through it. Somehow it all brought to mind Michael Jackson’s extraordinary gathering of artists for “We Are The World.” A middling song but a buoyant spirit, which is needed now. And those faces! Peace to all. May we stand together.

  • 2016 What Have You Wrought?

    Holy shit, what a year, huh? A friend keeps reminding me she knew it was going to be a bad one when David Bowie died in the first few days. Even if one wasn’t a fan, the impact of his death was felt across the planet, especially in the imperial zones. It’s hard to argue that things improved from that news. Musically and politically, there was plenty more bad news to come. The death of Fidel Castro, one of the world’s oldest revolutionaries, saddened the hearts of millions while providing his ideological enemies a moment of delight. The future of one of the world’s most successful revolutions is now uncertain. Capitalists are salivating at the opportunity to make a buck while various fascist and other right-wing elements look forward to exacting some kind of revenge. Their sanguinary lust is barely concealed. Fidel’s social conscience and fearlessness will be missed. His revolutionary determination must be replicated a billion fold.

  • The Land of Smiling Children

    “Kom ins Land der lachelenden Kinder,” “Come to the land of smiling children,” intones a voiceover to the tune of Kim Wilde’s “Kids in America” at the beginning of a popular German YouTube video. The video is a montage of some of the most grotesque elements of American culture: a smiling JonBenét Ramsey in full beauty queen regalia, children using firearms, police beatings and shootings of unarmed citizens, celebrations of conspicuous consumption and contempt for the environment juxtaposed with videos of street people combing trash cans, an execution chamber, a row of Klansmen, and, finally, a man accidentally shooting himself in the leg.

    “Alles spitz in Amerika!” “Everything’s great in America,” the refrain announces over and over again as one horrific scene after another assaults the viewer. The video, “Ein Leid für die USA,” or “A Song for the USA” begins and ends with someone accidentally shooting himself. One could argue that it’s heavy handed, but it makes a devastating point: We are destroying ourselves.

    We have arguably always lacked the veneer of civility that typically characterizes older cultures, and yet it seems that public discourse has recently taken a particularly savage turn. The left is as responsible for that as the right. Trump didn’t become “evil” until he ran for office. Before that, he was merely a buffoon. Now, suddenly, he’s “Hitler” and his supporters are uniformly denounced as “racists” and “fascists.” Don’t get me wrong, Trump was not my candidate. He’s not who I want to see in the White House, but he’s not Hitler. Obama said himself that Trump’s a pragmatist, not an ideologue. Democrats dismissed well-reasoned arguments against Clinton’s candidacy, or her positions on various issues, not with similarly well-reasoned counter arguments, but with charges of “mansplaining.” Nothing shuts down dialogue so quickly as hurling invectives at your opponents. British comedian Tom Walker makes this point brilliantly in the viral video of his alter ego U.K. newsman Jonathan Pie’s commentary on the election.

  • Netanyahu Questioned by Police Over Gifts; AG: Evidence Has Mounted Over Last Month

    Police found enough evidence to support the questioning of Netanyahu under caution, attorney general says. ‘Don’t celebrate yet,’ Netanyahu said earlier.

  • Science

    • Virginia Politicians and the Slow Strangulation of Its Famous State University

      After 3 weeks of inconclusive toing and froing on Sullivan’s resignation, the then Republican governor Bob McDonnell, with his own corruption scandal looming on the horizon, said he would use his gubernatorial prerogative and replace the entire board if the matter was not resolved forthwith.

      Sullivan was reinstated. Dragas remained on the Board and was appointed by McDonnell for a second term, this fiasco notwithstanding. Her reprieve was attributed to her high-level political connections.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • All Women Deserve Access to Tampons, Period

      In the supposedly enlightened United States, millions of women lack proper access to menstrual supplies.

    • Canada-China FTA talks to begin in February 2017 could have massive implications on water use

      CBC reports, “International Trade Minister Chrystia Freeland says Canada is tentatively booked to begin talks with China in February as the two countries explore a free trade agreement.”

      While the Harper government expressed support for a free trade agreement with China in 2007, there is a new momentum behind these talks. In December 2015, China’s ambassador to Canada, Luo Zhaohui, stated, “At the policy level, we need to start the negotiation and conclusion of a free trade agreement sooner rather than later.” In June 2016, The Globe and Mail reported, “[Trudeau] has made re-engagement with China a key foreign policy initiative as his government presses for a free-trade deal with the world’s second-largest economy.” And in August 2016, the Canadian Press reported, “After meeting with Trudeau, [Chinese premier Li Keqiang stated] that Canada and China will launch a feasibility study on an eventual free-trade deal.”

    • For our food system’s sake, let’s say “no” to corporate consolidation

      The food system is one of the largest forces impacting our planet’s environment and people’s health. The choices about what crops are grown, where and how they are produced, who gets access to that food and who makes those decisions all have global consequences.

      One of the challenges to achieving a more sustainable and fair food system is cor­porate consolidation in the food sector. Consider the latest proposed merger be­tween global giants Bayer and Monsanto pending antitrust approval. And remem­ber, DuPont-Dow, Syngenta–Chem China and Monsanto-Bayer (if the mergers go through) aren’t agriculture companies first — they’re chemical companies.

    • How Trump can help working-class Americans: Keep funding Planned Parenthood

      Can Congress stop harassing Planned Parenthood? That would be my wish for the new year. Unfortunately, the harassment may increase in a Trump administration. But it doesn’t have to. It is within President-elect Donald Trump’s power to put a stop to it.

      Past congressional attempts to defund Planned Parenthood have failed because President Obama has vetoed them. This is all part of a congressional effort to punish the healthcare provider for also providing legal abortions. Of course, no federal funds that Planned Parenthood receives go to abortion, anyway. By law, no federal money can be spent on abortion. (Which is unfair — but that’s another story.)

    • The Cory Booker Dilemma for Progressive Animal Activists

      During the 2016 Democratic primary, I was very much a Bernie Sanders partisan. The candidate was so much on my mind, that when I was writing my biography of Ronnie Lee, founder of the Animal Liberation Front, my subject emailed me on more than one occasion to say I’d accidentally substituted his name with that of the Vermont senator’s in the manuscript draft!

      Now, there was a period during the primary in which it seemed that the animal activist group Direct Action Everywhere was only protesting at Sanders’ rallies. This made me very angry! It made me even more angry when the group was challenged on this and essentially said — a pox on both the Clinton and Sanders; vote for Cory Booker in 2020. While the New Jersey senator is vegan, he’s very much aligned with the Clinton wing of the Democratic Party. As Frederik deBoer pointed out, Booker has “criticized unions, pushed for lower corporate taxes and undermined public schools.”

    • Jeremy Hunt accused of compromising weekday hospital care

      The health secretary, Jeremy Hunt, has been accused of compromising the care patients receive during the week by not taking forward his pledge to hire more junior doctors to help deliver a seven-day NHS.

      The Liberal Democrats’ health spokesman, Norman Lamb, said that with juniors now having to work more at weekends, already under-staffed hospitals had fewer medics on duty on weekdays.

      He said Hunt had done little to make good on the hiring pledge he made in parliament during the year-long dispute over junior doctors’ contracts.

  • Security

    • Security advisories for Monday
    • Penetration Testing and Ethical Hacking Parrot Security OS 3.4.1 Includes GNUnet

      The ParrotSec project kicked off 2017 with the release of Parrot Security OS 3.4 on the first day of the year, followed the next day by a point release that brought improvements to the installer.

      Launched on January 1, 2016, Parrot Security OS 3.4 shipped with various updated packages and new features, among which we can mention the addition of the GNUNet open-source framework for secure peer-to-peer (P2P) networking, an early preview of the Freenet installer, as well as brand-new mirror servers for the netboot images.

    • Future Proof Security

      Are there times we should never make a tradeoff between “right” and “now”? Yes, yes there are. The single most important is verify data correctness. Especially if you think it’s trusted input. Today’s trusted input is tomorrow’s SQL injection. Let’s use a few examples (these are actual examples I saw in the past with the names of the innocent changed).

    • Linux Journal January 2017

      There have been epic battles over whether “insecure” or “unsecure” should be used when referring to computer security. Granted, those epic battles usually take place in really nerdy forums, but still, one sounds funny and the other seems to personify computers. Whichever grammatical construct you choose, the need for security is greater now than ever. As Linux users, we need to make sure we’re not overconfident in the inherent security of our systems. Remember, they all have a weak link: us.

    • Lockpicking in the IoT

      “Smart” devices using BTLE, a mobile phone and the Internet are becoming more and more popular. We will be using mechanical and electronic hardware attacks, TLS MitM, BTLE sniffing and App decompilation to show why those devices and their manufacturers aren’t always that smart after all. And that even AES128 on top of the BTLE layer doesn’t have to mean “unbreakable”. Our main target will be electronic locks, but the methods shown apply to many other smart devices as well…

    • Photocopier Security

      A modern photocopier is basically a computer with a scanner and printer attached. This computer has a hard drive, and scans of images are regularly stored on that drive. This means that when a photocopier is thrown away, that hard drive is filled with pages that the machine copied over its lifetime. As you might expect, some of those pages will contain sensitive information.

    • OpenPGP really works

      After a day of analysis, PGP is used and significantly at various layers of my day-to-day activities. I can clearly said “PGP works”. Indeed, it’s not perfect (that’s the reality of a lot of cryptosystems) but PGP needs some love at the IETF, for the implementations or even some financial support.

  • Defence/Aggression

    • Russian Hacking Report: All Hat, No Cattle

      How long can we expect to wait for the National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center to admit that its report, “GRIZZLY STEPPE — Russian Malicious Cyber Activity” — pre- hyped as providing “evidence” of Russian government interference in the 2016 US presidential election — is a reprise of Powell’s UN speech?

    • Dylann Roof Himself Rejects Best Defense Against Execution

      Twenty-two pages into the hand-scribbled journal found in Dylann S. Roof’s car — after the assertions of black inferiority, the lamentations over white powerlessness, the longing for a race war — comes an incongruous declaration.

      “I want state that I am morally opposed to psychology,” wrote the young white supremacist who would murder nine black worshipers at Emanuel A.M.E. Church in Charleston, S.C., in June 2015. “It is a Jewish invention, and does nothing but invent diseases and tell people they have problems when they dont.”

      Mr. Roof, who plans to represent himself when the penalty phase of his federal capital trial begins on Tuesday, apparently is devoted enough to that proposition (or delusion, as some maintain) to stake his life on it. Although a defense based on his psychological capacity might be his best opportunity to avoid execution, he seems steadfastly committed to preventing any public examination of his mental state or background.

    • Fantasies About Russia Could Doom Opposition to Trump

      The same Democrats who found the one nominee who could lose to Trump will find the one argument for impeachment that can explode in their own faces.

      To many Democrats for whom killing a million people in Iraq just didn’t rise to the level of an impeachable offense, and who considered Obama’s bombing of eight nations and the creation of the drone murder program to be praiseworthy, Trump will be impeachable on Day 1.

      Indeed Trump should be impeached on Day 1, but the same Democrats who found the one nominee who could lose to Trump will find the one argument for impeachment that can explode in their own faces. Here’s a “progressive” Democrat:

    • Michigan Bans Banning Plastic Bags Because Plastic Bag Bans Are Bad For Business

      As communities across the country explore new ways to curb single-use plastics, including all-out bans on plastic shopping bags, Michigan has taken a step that ensures it continues to add to plastic pollution.

      This week, with Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder out of town, Lt. Gov. Brian Calley signed into law a prohibition on local governments banning plastic bags and other food and retail containers. That’s right, a ban on bans.

      Introduced by state Sen. Jim Stamas, a Republican, the measure preempts local ordinances from “regulating the use, disposition, or sale of, prohibiting or restricting, or imposing any fee, charge, or tax on certain containers,” including those made of plastics. It effectively kills a measure passed in Washtenaw County, in southeastern Michigan, that would have imposed a 10-cent tax on both plastic and paper grocery bags beginning in April 2017.

    • The Global Assassination Grid

      Cian has spent a great deal of time thinking about the issues of responsibility in, and how communications technology has been used to distance people from the act of killing. Rising superpowers around the world are working day and night to build the next stealth drone that can penetrate air defense systems. The automation of target selection processes, navigation and control are incentivized by the vulnerability posed by the signals drones rely upon to operate.

    • [Video] The Global Assassination Grid
    • Arms Trade Treaty Falling Down in Yemen

      Two years after the UN Arms Trade Treaty entered into force many of the governments which championed the treaty are failing to uphold it, especially when it comes to the conflict in Yemen.

      “In terms of implementation, the big disappointment is Yemen,” Anna Macdonald, Director of Control Arms, a civil society organisation dedicated to the treaty, told IPS.

      “The big disappointment is the countries that were in the forefront of calling for the treaty – and indeed who still champion it as a great achievement in international disarmament and security – are now prepared to violate it by persisting in their arms sales to Saudi Arabia,” she added.

      The Saudi-led international coalition has been responsible for thousands of civilian deaths in Yemen, and Saudi Arabia is known to have violated humanitarian law by bombing civilian targets, including hospitals.

    • If you thought 2016 was bad in the Middle East – brace yourself for 2017

      It is difficult to be optimistic about the Middle East in 2017.

      With the bloodshed in Aleppo, Mosul, Yemen and elsewhere in the region, the anger, hatred and sectarian divides have only grown deeper.

      Indeed, while some point to Tehran celebrating its victory in Aleppo, success on the battlefield is coupled with even deeper divisions between Iran and some of its Arab or Sunni neighbours, paving a path towards greater conflict rather than reconciliation.

    • Crosses Marking Chicago Death Toll

      Gang violence has fueled a staggering death toll in Chicago, much as military violence has spread death and chaos over large swaths of the world, reminding Kathy Kelly of the need for an “eternal hostility” toward killing.

    • Israel’s Above-the-Law Behavior

      Despite stern warnings from the U.N. and even the U.S., Israel continues its steady march toward becoming an apartheid state that relies on anti-Arab racism to justify its behavior, as Lawrence Davidson describes.

    • Kerry’s Belated Israel Truth-telling
    • A Simpler Way: Crisis as Opportunity
    • ACLU & CAIR Use Gold Star Father to Claim War on Iraq Was for Bill of Rights

      Are you old enough to remember when liberal groups openly admitted that the war on Iraq was illegal and fraudulent, based on oil and profit and sadism?

      Well, can you recall when the proponents of the war claimed it was a defense against nonexistent ties to terrorists and nonexistent weapons?

      Even if you’ve wiped those memories, let me assure you, NOBODY ever claimed that attacking and destroying Iraq was necessary to protect civil liberties in the United States (which have been seriously eroded during the course of the war).

      Yet, in recent months the generic defense of murdering large numbers of people far away has taken over as the explanation for the war on Iraq.

      The ACLU on Friday used the voice of my fellow Charlottesvillian Khizr Khan to claim that attacking Iraq was done “in defense of our country’s ideals.”

      Also on Friday, CAIR — which I can recall supporting Dennis Kucinich for president because he opposed the war — claimed (also through the voice of Khan) that Iraq was destroyed “to continue to have the freedoms guaranteed in the pages of our Constitution.” CAIR even suggests that participating in such activities as attacking Iraq — killing over a million people — is a duty of American Muslims.

    • America’s Major Challenges in Middle East Policy, 2017

      The incoming Trump administration is riven by a profound division between those determined to avoid deep entanglements in the Middle East, such as Donald J. Trump himself, and the hawks he is putting in key positions, who desperately want to overthrow the Islamic Republic of Iran. This division is made more difficult to interpret by Trump’s own erratic pronouncements, such that he sometimes speaks of, e.g., putting 30,000 US troops into the fight against Daesh (ISIS, ISIL). It is impossible to know whether Trump will disengage even more than President Obama did, or whether the hawks will win out and intervene with covert operations or perhaps more explicitly against Iran. Yet another complication is that Moscow now views Iran as a Russian client in the region, and would really mind if the US did interfere in Iran. Trump is obviously close to President Vladimir Putin, but his cabinet is full of saber-rattlers against the Russian Federation.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • Video: The Guardian faces claims it distorted Assange interview
    • Consigned to the memory hole: the content of the DNC leaks

      Amidst the blame Russia hysteria, the actual content of the the Democratic National Committee (DNC) hacks has been consigned to the memory hole. In a veritable tidal wave of false narratives, the mainstream media has succeeded in drowning the legacy of the leaks in (not terribly convincing) accusations of Russian culpability. Erased from this narrative is the fact that the highest levels of the Democratic Party—supposedly neutral arbiters of the candidate selection process—sabotaged the Bernie Sanders campaign, and detest vast swaths of the Democratic Party constituency.

      The first leaks appeared on July 22nd, when WikiLeaks released a collection of emails from the accounts of seven top DNC officials. The initial leaks confirmed what Sanders supporters had alleged for months, which was that the DNC was conspiring to sabotage the Sanders campaign. Emails implicated top officials such as DNC CFO Brad Marshall, who discussed planting a media story about Sanders’ religious beliefs in an effort to undermine his campaign.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • Dieselgate – A year later

      At 32C3 we gave an overview on the organizational and technical aspects of Dieselgate that had just broken public three months before. In the last year we have learned a lot and spoken to hundreds of people. Daniel gives an update on what is known and what is still to be revealed.

    • How much would it cost to geoengineer thicker Arctic sea ice?

      There are a couple different ways to come at the problem of climate change—you can focus on eliminating the cause, or on mitigating the symptoms. The latter approach includes obvious things like preventing flooding from rising sea levels. But it also ranges into “geoengineering” schemes as radical as injecting sunlight-reflecting aerosol droplets into the stratosphere. Such schemes are band-aids rather than cures, but band-aids have their uses.

      One worrying change driven by the climate is the loss of Arctic sea ice. The late-summer Arctic Ocean is on track to become ice-free around the 2030s. The rapid warming of the Arctic has serious implications for local ecosystems, but it also influences climate elsewhere in ways we’re still working to fully understand. One frequently mentioned effect is the increased absorption of sunlight in the Arctic as reflective snow and ice disappears—a positive feedback that amplifies warming.

      What if we could slap a sea ice band-aid on the Arctic? In a recent paper, a group of Arizona State researchers led by astrophysicist Steven Desch sketch out one hypothetical band-aid—a geoengineering scheme to freeze more ice during the Arctic winter.

    • Dakota Access Opponents Stage Dramatic Protest Against U.S. Bank

      Continuing a strategy to target the project’s financial backers, a small team of Dakota Access Pipeline opponents on Sunday pulled off a dramatic banner-drop from the rafters of the U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis as the Minnesota Vikings played the Chicago Bears.

      Above the crowded stadium, which can hold nearly 70,000 attendees at capacity, the two individuals—later identified as Karl Zimmerman, 32, and Sen Holiday, 26—rappelled from large steel girders during the second quarter of the game alongside an expansive banner reading, “US Bank, DIVEST, #NoDAPL.”

    • PHOTOS: Louisiana’s Oil and Gas Industry Continues Growing Along the Coast It’s Helping Shrink

      The Louisiana coast loses a football field’s worth of land every 38 minutes. This staggering rate of land loss has been brought on by climate change and coastal erosion accelerated by human activities, including water diversion projects and damage done by the oil and gas industry.

      It is also a problem that is best seen from the sky. Thanks to the nonprofit conservation organization SouthWings, I was able to photograph the state’s troubled coast for DeSmog during a flight on November 15, 2016.

      “Flying out along the Louisiana coast and seeing the tattered wetlands from above with your own eyes make the scale of the threat posed by coastal land loss feel strikingly real and immediate,” Meredith Dowling, SouthWings associate executive director, told me while discussing the group’s work.

    • “Green” Governor Jerry Brown Appoints Oil Industry Loyalist to Public Utilities Commission

      While many mainstream media outlets have fawningly depicted Governor Jerry Brown as “the Resistance” to incoming President Donald Trump, an appointment of a Big Oil-friendly regulator to the California Public Utilities Commission today appears to further taint the Governor’s already controversial environmental legacy.

      Governor Jerry Brown today appointed two Brown administration staffers, Clifford Rechtschaffen and Martha Guzman Aceves, to the scandal-ridden California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC). They will replace Catherine Sandoval and Michael Florio, whose six-year terms expire on January 1, 2017.

    • Indian firm makes carbon capture breakthrough

      A breakthrough in the race to make useful products out of planet-heating CO2 emissions has been made in southern India.

      A plant at the industrial port of Tuticorin is capturing CO2 from its own coal-powered boiler and using it to make soda ash – aka baking powder.

      Crucially, the technology is running without subsidy, which is a major advance for carbon capture technology as for decades it has languished under high costs and lukewarm government support.

    • Standing Rock protesters unfurl banner over field at Minneapolis NFL game

      In Minneapolis on Sunday protesters unfurled a banner protesting the Dakota Access oil pipeline, high above the field during an NFL game between the Minnesota Vikings and the Chicago Bears.

    • World’s Fastest Land Animal is Now Racing Extinction

      Cheetahs are the fastest land animal on earth, but conservationists are raising serious concerns about a threat they can’t outrun: extinction.

      While the plight of big cats around the world has gained growing awareness, it’s been mostly focused on lions and tigers. Now cheetahs are taking the spotlight, but it’s unfortunately over concerns that these amazingly fast animals are going to disappear forever unless urgent action is taken.

      According to a new study just published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, which was led by a team from the Zoological Society of London (ZSL), Panthera and the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), there are only an estimated 7,100 cheetahs left in existence in the wild globally – and they’re all in trouble.

  • Finance

    • Let’s Make a Deal: Donald Trump and the Monte Hall Problem

      How should compassionate and rational people respond to the fact that a narcissistic, racist, misogynist, sociopathic, mindless, scapegoating demagogue will soon have his finger on the button of a nuclear arsenal that could put an end to the struggle of every one of our selfish genes to pass copies of themselves on to succeeding generations?

      No Toto, we’re not in Kansas anymore.

      In the film the Wizard of Oz, Dorothy, played by 16-year-old Judy Garland and her dog, Toto, are picked up by a tornado and dropped in a land ruled by a wicked witch. Then with the help of the Munchkins she sets out along a yellow brick road in search of a Wizard who can show her the way home. Along the way she meets a scarecrow (Ray Bolger) that complains he hasn’t got a brain.

      “How can you talk if you haven’t got a brain?” Dorothy asks him.

      “I don’t know,” the scarecrow replies, “but some people without brains do an awful lot of talking.” And we might add today, twittering. Ergo Donald Trump.

      Well until recently we westerners were on our own yellow brick road in search of a wizard who could show us the way home to a world based on the enlightenment values we cherish: a world of democratically ruled social welfare states governed by international laws. But unfortunately Donald Trump together with his demagogic clones in Europe has knocked us way off course.

    • UK ambassador to EU quits amid Brexit row

      Britain’s ambassador to the EU is reported to have quit his post less than a month after it was revealed that he said a post-Brexit trade deal with the bloc could take up to a decade to achieve.

      Government sources confirmed that Sir Ivan Rogers, one of the UK’s most experienced EU diplomats, told staff on Tuesday that he was stepping down early from his role, just a few months before Britain begins its formal exit negotiations with the EU. His resignation, first reported by the Financial Times, came almost a year before his scheduled departure in November.

    • False Unities: Brexit in the New Year

      As for broader sentiments of unity, very little of that liquor is available for consumption, especially with May behind the bar. ‘This is the year’, suggested William Keegan rather grumpily in The Guardian, ‘when our politicians and the so-called “people” – all 28 percent of the population who voted to leave the European Union – will reap what they have sown.’

      So, as the booze inflicted headaches wear off this morning, Britain remains fractured and disillusioned, marked by a government of enormous confusion and inconsistencies. As this continues, the biggest barker in favour Brexit, Nigel Farage, continues to draw an EU salary. A most compromised political attack dog, if ever there was one.

    • China Gets Strict on Forex Transactions to Stop Money Exiting Abroad

      At risk of capital flight, China marked the new year with extra requirements for citizens converting yuan into foreign currencies.

      The State Administration of Foreign Exchange, the currency regulator, said in a statement Dec. 31 that it wanted to close loopholes exploited for purposes such as money laundering and illegally channeling money into overseas property.

      While the regulator left unchanged quotas of $50,000 of foreign currency per person a year, citizens faced extra disclosure requirements from Jan. 1.

      The annual limits for individuals’ currency conversions reset at the start of each year, potentially aggravating outflow pressures that intensified in 2016 as the yuan suffered its steepest annual slump in more than two decades. An estimated $762 billion flowed out of the country in the first 11 months of last year, according to a Bloomberg Intelligence gauge, pumping up residential property markets from Vancouver to Sydney. Some money also spilled across the border into Hong Kong insurance products.

    • Chinese investment in the US skyrocketed last year

      Chinese foreign direct investment (FDI) in the US rocketed to $45.6 billion in 2016, triple that of 2015, although that surge and future investment faces a “major downside risk” under a Donald Trump presidency, a new report by the research firm Rhodium Group predicts.

    • ‘This is the biggest issue in Australia’: Centrelink debacle gets worse

      THE Centrelink debacle is getting worse, with more Australians each day revealing they have been slugged with demands to pay back tens of thousands of dollars they don’t owe.

      Furious Aussies, many of whom were on the dole for only a brief period years ago, are demanding action from the Government, which is denying a problem exists.

      Michael Griffin, a filmmaker from Brisbane, told news.com.au he would go so far as to call what is happening “extortion”.

    • Reports round-up: Bullying Royal Mail boss gets the boot after walkouts in Accrington

      Striking postal workers in Accrington, Lancashire, forced Royal Mail bosses onto the back foot in the run-up to Christmas.

      Members of the CWU union at the Accrington delivery office struck against bosses’ refusal to remove a bullying manager.

      A change of manager had been recommended in August, but nothing had been done.

      Martin Berry, branch secretary of the CWU’s East Lancs Amal branch told Socialist Worker, “There’s a manager who’s been bullying the staff for some time. Now they’ve had enough.

      “The manager was using foul and abusive language, and there’s also instances of non-payment of overtime.”

    • Royal Mail workers stop strike action after ‘bullying and harassment’ claims

      WORKERS at the Accrington Royal Mail delivery office have agreed to call off strikes over ‘bullying and harassment’ claims.

      Members of the Communications Workers Union have returned to work after Royal Mail confirmed that the ‘management situation’ will be resolved in the New Year.

      Staff had previously taken industrial action at the Infant Street office on Saturday, December 10, and Saturday, December 17.

    • Royal Mail predicts ‘Take-Back Tuesday’ will see biggest jump in returns

      Royal Mail has predicted that today, coined ‘Take-back Tuesday’, will be the busiest day for online shopping returns through the post, as shoppers rush to send back unwanted Christmas gifts.

      Today (Tuesday 3rd January), returns of online purchases are predicted to jump by more than 50 per cent in a single day, versus the average number of return parcels per day in December. The prediction is based on the number of returns parcels handled by Royal Mail through its Tracked Returns service, which is used by more than 1000 e-retailers for the return of unwanted online purchases. Last year, the month of January saw the highest returns volumes of the financial year.

    • Bitcoin breaks $1,000 level, highest in more than 3 years

      The price of bitcoin has breached the $1,000 mark, hitting a more than three-year high on Monday.

      The cryptocurrency was trading at $1,021 at the time of publication, according to CoinDesk data, at level not seen since November 2013, with its market capitalization exceeding $16 billion.

      Bitcoin has been on a steady march higher for the past few months, driven by a number of factors such as the devaluation of the yuan, geopolitical uncertainty and an increase in professional investors taking an interest in the asset class.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • The right is emboldened, yes. But it’s not in the ascendancy

      Britain did back Brexit – no sugarcoating that. But voters didn’t reject the case for the EU because it was never really made. Nor was it a rejection of the case for immigration, because that was never made either. I don’t know whether remain would have prevailed if those cases had been made. Probably not. But since they weren’t made they could hardly have been defeated. Instead people were fed a diet of fear of the unknown from a political class that has failed them and gagged.

    • My New Year’s Wish for Donald Trump

      Donald Trump issued the following tweet on the last day of 2016: “Happy New Year to all, including to my many enemies and those who have fought me and lost so badly they just don’t know what to do. Love!”

      The man who is about to become President of the United States continues to exhibit a mean-spirited, thin-skinned, narcissistic and vindictive character.

      Trump sees the world in terms of personal wins or losses, enemies or friends, supporters or critics.

    • Resistance Mobilizes as GOP Licks Chops Over Regressive Agenda

      From slowing President-elect Donald Trump’s Cabinet confirmations to hampering GOP attempts to repeal Obamacare or defund Planned Parenthood, Democrats and allied progressive forces stand ready to resist the looming Republican agenda.

      Ahead of Congress reconvening on Tuesday, news publications outlined what’s in store—and at stake.

    • Preparing for the Normalization of a Neofascist White House

      It is 2017, and shortly the White House will be inhabited by an unscrupulous, corrupt narcissist who has shamelessly mobilized the Neo-Nazi fringe of the Republican Party to get into power.

      Despite all the cries of ‘no’ to normalization on the left, Trump will be normalized by the same corporate media that virtually boycotted Bernie Sanders. He will be respectfully called “the president” and his wishes and goals will be praised on cable news, and not just on Rupert Murdoch’s Fox Fake News. He’ll flash a smile and be friendly and anchors will treat him like a buddy (despite his having threatened their colleagues with bodily harm at his rallies and despite his having pledged to weaken the first amendment and sue reporters for libel). Rupert Murdoch’s Wall Street Journal is already pledging never to call Trump out when he is obviously lying. Since Trump is, like Dick Nixon, a pathological liar, this is like pledging not to cover his presidency.

    • Noam Chomsky: With Trump Election, We Are Now Facing Threats to the Survival of the Human Species

      On December 5, over 2,300 people packed into the historic Riverside Church here in Manhattan to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Democracy Now! Speakers included Noam Chomsky, world-renowned political dissident, linguist, author, institute professor emeritus at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. “We now face are the most severe that have ever arisen in human history. They are literal threats to survival: nuclear war, environmental catastrophe. These are very urgent concerns,” Chomsky said. “They cannot be delayed. They became more urgent on November 8th, for the reasons you know and that I mentioned. They have to be faced directly, and soon, if the human experiment is not to prove to be a disastrous failure.”

    • Henry A. Giroux on Trump’s Cabinet, the Church of Neoliberal Evangelicals

      In this interview with The Real News Network, I argue that while it may seem hard to believe that Trump has appointed to high government positions a number of religious fundamentalists, conspiracy-theory advocates, billionaires, misogynists, climate-change deniers and retrograde anti-communists, this should come as no surprise given the anti-democratic conditions that produced Trump in the first place. Not only do these individuals uniformly lack the experience to take on the jobs for which they were nominated, they are unapologetic about destroying the government agencies in which they have been put in charge.

    • What Does Trump’s Proposed Cabinet Tell Us About The Next Four Years?

      Donald Trump will not be sworn in as President until January 20, 2017 (although you wouldn’t know it from his tweets). But his choice of staff and cabinet members gives us insight into the shape of his policies for the next four years.

    • How Do Republicans Get Away With Voter Suppression?

      From busted voting machines intentionally placed in precincts where people of color vote to fraudulent interstate purging of likely non-Republican voters through a process called “caging,” Greg Palast has been sleuthing down the details of GOP voter suppression for more than 15 years. He’s an investigative reporter who is not easily deterred, because it’s often a lonely beat — given that the mainstream corporate media is more interested in the final vote count, not who was intentionally not allowed to vote due to discrimination. Truthout recently interviewed Palast about this expanding scam that often has more impact on electoral outcomes than the actual vote tabulation margin of victory.

    • Cyber security takes on new urgency for groups targeted by Trump

      With under a month to go until Donald Trump’s inauguration as president, activists from the grassroots to large organizations like the ACLU are working to fortify their digital platforms against potential government intrusions. Many fear that a Trump presidency will usher in an age of greater government surveillance and the suppression of civil rights.

      “We can’t trust Trump with the NSA,” argued John Napier Tye, who served in the U.S. State Department’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor from 2011 to 2014. “There are simply not enough safeguards in place to protect Americans from our own National Security Agency.”

    • Don’t Blame Jon Stewart for Donald Trump: Comedy Central Didn’t Make America Fall For ‘Fake News’ And ‘Post-Truth’

      Well before the results of the presidential election were clear, the blame game was in full gear. If Hillary Clinton didn’t win, it was the Bernie supporters and the misogynists who were at fault. Or it was the narcissistic and clueless millennials and the stupid and desperate white working class. Then and now the Russians were at the top of the list. After the election, there were the pollsters. And, of course, who couldn’t resist blaming the fake news? But in the latest twist on the blame game, we now have a new set of culprits: Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert.

    • Democrats Aim to Slam Brakes on Key Members of Trump’s “Rigged Cabinet”

      Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has been warned that Senate Democrats are planning to “aggressively target” eight of President-elect Donald Trump’s Cabinet nominees, aiming to delay as long as possible the confirmation hearings slated to start next week.

      “President-elect Trump is attempting to fill his rigged cabinet with nominees that would break key campaign promises and have made billions off the industries they’d be tasked with regulating,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said in a statement Sunday reported by the Washington Post.

      “Any attempt by Republicans to have a series of rushed, truncated hearings before Inauguration Day and before the Congress and public have adequate information on all of them is something Democrats will vehemently resist,” Schumer said. “If Republicans think they can quickly jam through a whole slate of nominees without a fair hearing process, they’re sorely mistaken.”

    • Majority of Americans Unconvinced Trump Can Handle Nation’s Top Job

      With his inauguration now less than three weeks away, a new survey shows a majority of the American people are far from confident that Donald Trump, a former reality television star who won the Electoral College but lost the popular vote by nearly 3 million votes, is up to the major tasks entrusted to the President of the United States.

      According to results released by Gallup on Monday, “less than half of Americans are confident in [Trump's] ability to handle an international crisis (46%), to use military force wisely (47%) or to prevent major scandals in his administration (44%).”

    • Trump ‘knows things’ others don’t about Russian hacking

      If Russian hackers are fiddling around with America’s electricity grid, then that would be extremely alarming. It is also what was reported by the Washington Post on the heels of the Obama Administration announcing sanctions against Russia for interfering in a US election.

      The original headline read, “Russian hackers penetrated U.S. electricity grid through a utility in Vermont, U.S. officials say.” The Washington Post reported, “A code associated with the Russian hacking operation dubbed Grizzly Steppe by the Obama administration has been detected within the system of a Vermont utility, according to U.S. officials.”

    • U.S. Attributes Election Hacks to Russian Threat Groups

      While some industry experts applauded the GRIZZLY STEPPE indicators provided by the U.S. Government, some experts urged caution for those quickly integrating them into their cyber defense measures.

      “Be careful using the DHS/FBI GRIZZLY STEPPE indicators. Many are VPS, TOR relays, proxies, etc. which will generate lots of false positives,” Robert M. Lee, founder and CEO of Dragos Security and a former member of the intelligence community, Tweeted.

      Via a series of tweets, FireEye’s Chris Sanders also cautioned those eager to quickly implement the list of IPs into network security defenses. “If you try to make an IDS rule out of all those IP’s you’re gonna generate a TON of alerts and have a bad time,” he tweeted. “Don’t build IDS rules from lists of IPs w/o context. This is # of matches for a group of avg size networks over ~30 days for DHS report IPs. “That said, if you want to practice some hunting, go wild. This is a good opportunity to practice your mass triage/search workflow,” he added in a separate tweet.

    • Fake news of Russians hacking our election

      The mainstream media narrative regarding “fake news” is awash with duplicity, and frankly, they seem to be the main purveyors of it. Case in point, fully half of Hillary Clinton voters have been deceptively convinced by the media, that Russia “tampered with vote tallies in order to get Donald Trump elected President,” according to a poll conducted by YouGov and The Economist last week.

    • Proof that Russia didn’t hack DNC ignored by Obama

      “For one, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange – whose hacktivist organization released the thousands of emails that shed damaging light on Hillary Clinton and her allies – denied the Russians were the source,” WND reported. “In addition, the Obama administration has developed a reputation for manipulating intelligence for political purposes.”

    • WPost’s New ‘Fake News’ on Russian ‘Hack’

      The Democratic National Committee (DNC) has been hacked – cue a national American trauma, allegations of dirty tricks, fears that democracy has been subverted, all leading to what the next U.S. president would call “our long national nightmare.”

    • Oliver Stone Accuses Mainstream Media Of Reporting Fake News About Russia

      Oliver Stone claims that “disgraceful” mainstream media Cold War-style “groupthink” is behind news reports that Russia hacked the U.S. presidential election and the “hysteria” could lead to war between our two countries.

      Stone urged his readers to “stay calm” and consult the alternative news sources that he provided on his social media page.

      President Obama expelled 35 Russian diplomats last week as part of sanctions for alleged interference in the election. President-elect Trump has expressed some degree of skepticism that the Russians played a role in Hilary Clinton’s loss on November 8, an outcome that came as a complete shock to poll-driven news outlets and political pundits.

    • So, did Russia help Obama win in 2012?

      Obama’s hissy fits are as petulant and selective as they are pathetic. His latest charade of a “leader” came when he announced sanctions against Russia for supposedly influencing the 2016 presidential election. The translation is that Russia worked to rig the election so that Donald Trump would win.

      He used an executive order to carry out his schizophrenic temper tantrum, which also included declaring 35 Russian diplomats persona non grata, giving them 72 hours to leave the country with their families. This in addition to shuttering two Russian compounds in Maryland and New York.

    • ‘Tis the season for whining

      They should really stop whining about Russia allegedly hacking the emails that proved Hillary was colluding with the Democratic National Committee to defeat Bernie Sanders, her team colluded with major media to, ironically, promote Trump as the Republican candidate, and her foundation colluded with colossal colluders internationally to enrich herself.

    • Politics on the Cheap: The Russians Hijacked the Election Part I
    • Politics on the Cheap: The Russians Hijacked the Election II
    • Another attack on U.S. freedoms

      Russia waged a major attack against the United States in the past year. The attack came as a cyber attack, the newest weapon in the war chests, with the explicit purpose of interfering with our elections and our democratic process. The attack was direct hit, with Russia gaining and then releasing information meant to confuse, embarrass and discredit one candidate over another.

    • Rebecca Ferguson Invited To Play Trump’s Inauguration

      Rebecca Ferguson has turned down the chance to play Donald Trump’s Presidential inauguration.

    • House Republicans vote to rein in independent ethics office

      Defying the wishes of their top leaders, House Republicans voted behind closed doors Monday night to rein in the independent ethics office created eight years ago in the wake of a series of embarrassing congressional scandals.

      The 119-to-74 vote during a GOP conference meeting means that the House rules package expected to be adopted Tuesday, the first day of the 115th Congress, would rename the Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE) as the Office of Congressional Complaint Review and place it under the oversight of the House Ethics Committee.

      Under the proposed new rules, the office could not employ a spokesperson, investigate anonymous tips or refer criminal wrongdoing to prosecutors without the express consent of the Ethics Committee, which would gain the power to summarily end any OCE probe.

    • With No Warning, House Republicans Vote to Gut Independent Ethics Office

      House Republicans, overriding their top leaders, voted on Monday to significantly curtail the power of an independent ethics office set up in 2008 in the aftermath of corruption scandals that sent three members of Congress to jail.

      The move to effectively kill the Office of Congressional Ethics was not made public until late Monday, when Representative Robert W. Goodlatte, Republican of Virginia and chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, announced that the House Republican Conference had approved the change. There was no advance notice or debate on the measure.

    • NPR’s Michele Norris: ‘Make a America Great Again’ Is Deeply Encoded ‘Promise of White Prosperity’

      NPR host Michele Norris pointed out over the weekend that President-elect Donald Trump’s campaign slogan, “Make America Great Again,” is a “deeply encoded” message that troubles minorities while promising prosperity to white Americans.

      During a Face the Nation panel discussion on resisting Trump’s agenda, conservative columnist David Frum offered a sobering assessment about how the new president would impact the country.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • The State of Crypto Law: 2016 in Review

      This year was one of the busiest in recent memory when it comes to cryptography law in the United States and around the world. But for all the Sturm und Drang, surprisingly little actually changed in the U.S. In this post, we’ll run down the list of things that happened, how they could have gone wrong (but didn’t), how they could yet go wrong (especially in the U.K.), and what we might see in 2017.

    • Surveillance in Latin America: 2016 in Review

      Throughout 2016, EFF and our civil society partners have been closely following digital rights developments throughout Latin America. You can see some of the results in Unblinking Eyes, our exhaustive survey of surveillance law and practice across the Americas, as well as multiple countries’ localized versions of Who Has Your Back (Mexico, Colombia, and Brazil), our guide to how companies respond to government data requests. Both projects were led by an increasingly strong network of local digital rights groups in Latin America, who, together with some investigative work by the region’s incredibly brave journalists, have been keeping up the fight against mass surveillance.

    • In science fiction, robot witnesses to crime are seen as normal. Nobody considered the privacy implications for present day.

      The Police wants the cooperation of a robotic witness to a murder case, requesting Amazon’s help in recalling what the domestic robot “Echo” heard in the room. Robotic witnesses have been a theme in science fiction for a long time — and yet, we forgot to ask the most obvious and the most important questions. Maybe we just haven’t realized that we’re in science fiction territory, as far as robotic agents go, and explored the consequences of it: what robot has agency and who can be coerced?

      People were outraged that the Police would consider asking a robot – the Amazon Echo – what happened in the recent murder case, effectively activating retroactive surveillance. Evenmoreso, people were outraged that the Police tried to coerce the robot’s manufacturer to provide the data, coercing a third party to command the robot it manufactured, and denying agency to the people searched.

      In Isaac Asimov’s The Naked Sun, a human detective is sent off to faraway Solaris to investigate a murder, and has to interview a whole range of robot servants, each with their own perspective, to gradually piece together how the murder took place. A cooking robot knows about the last dinner of the victim, and can provide details only of that, and so on. Still, each and every robot have a perfect recollection of their particular perspective.

    • Snowden document suggests NSA could have proof of Russian hack

      The FBI, CIA and President Barack Obama all agree that Russia hacked the DNC and asserted its will on the US presidential election — but the winner of that contest isn’t so sure. “It could be somebody else.” Donald Trump told reporters over New Years. “Hacking is a hard thing to prove.” Except, as it turns out, US intelligence has a pretty good track record of tracing security breaches back to the Kremlin. According to a new document leaked by Edward Snowden, the NSA has successfully traced a hack back to Russian intelligence at least once before.

    • GOP Congressman’s Tweet Suggests Election Hacks Were Actually ‘Insider Leaks’

      The eight-term Iowa congressman seemed to suggest in his tweet that the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and National Security Agency (NSA) “leaked” information about the involvement of Russian hackers in the 2016 election. The tweet included a link to a story headlined “US Intel Vets Dispute Russia Hacking Claims” from an obscure website called consortiumnews.com. Founded in 1995 by journalist Robert Parry, the website claims to be an independent online investigative journalism magazine “meant to be a home for important, well-reported stories and a challenge to the inept but dominant mainstream news media of the day.”

    • GOP rep suggests CIA, NSA leaked info on Russian hacking

      Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) suggested Monday that the National Security Agency (NSA) and Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) leaked information about Russia interfering in the U.S. election.

      “Russian hackers controlling our election? We ‘know’ this because the CIA & NSA leaked it, right?” King wrote on Twitter, including a link to a website called Consortiumnews.com.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Mexico’s war on crime: A decade of (militarized) failure

      On December 11, 2006, days after being sworn in, Mexico’s then-President Felipe Calderón announced that his administration was deploying thousands of federal troops to combat organized crime in his home state of Michoacán.

      Interior Minister Francisco Javier Ramírez Acuña said at the time that “the battle against organized crime is only just beginning, and it will be a fight that will take time.”

      Ten years later, Michoacán remains one of Mexico’s most violent states.

      Vigilante groups — which have long posed a dilemma for local authorities — continue to operate in the area. Several such groups are suspected of participating in criminal activities, rather than combating them.

    • NSA Whistleblower Reveals U.S. Torture Horrors

      We know a lot about the torture policies of the US government during the Iraq War, but there’s still a lot that we don’t know. Luckily, a new book by a former NSA expert shines an even brighter spotlight on just how bad the torture was during those years. The issue of torture has also been covered extensively by The Intercept, and Ring of Fire’s Farron Cousins talks to Cora Currier from The Intercept about it.

    • Mohammad Kaif faces fire on Twitter for doing Surya Namaskar

      However, this attracted a barrage of tweets from some who said that the yoga pose was “not Islamic”.

      However, Kaif’s response to the tweets would have stumped even the staunchest of critics.

      Kaif said: “In all 4pics,I had Allah in my heart. Cant understand what doing any exercise, Surya Namaskar or Gym has to do with religion.It benefits ALL. (sic)”

    • British woman jailed in Iran released from solitary confinement

      A British-Iranian woman being held in an Iranian prison has been released from solitary confinement, her husband has said.

      Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, 37, was sentenced in September to five years in prison on secret charges related to a “soft overthrow” of the country’s government that were not revealed in open court.

      She had been restricted from any contact with fellow inmates at Tehran’s Evin prison until a week ago, when she was moved to a general ward, Richard Ratcliffe, her husband, told the BBC.

      However, Ratcliffe also criticised the lack of action from the British government, which has never publicly called for his wife to be released. Insisting his wife is innocent, he accused officials of allowing his family to be “caught up as a bargaining chip in international politics”.

    • French workers win ‘right to disconnect’

      French companies will be required to guarantee a “right to disconnect” to their employees from Sunday as the country seeks to tackle the modern-day scourge of compulsive out-of-hours email checking.

      From January 1, a new employment law will enter into force that obliges organisations with more than 50 workers to start negotiations to define the rights of employees to ignore their smartphones.

      Overuse of digital devices has been blamed for everything from burnout to sleeplessness as well as relationship problems, with many employees uncertain of when they can switch off.

    • Orange Crush: The Rise of Tactical Teams in Prison

      Since Ferguson, there has been a public outcry over militarized police who shoot down African Americans on the streets of our cities, but less is known beyond prison walls about guards who regularly brutalize those incarcerated. In Illinois, there is a notorious band of guards called the “Orange Crush” who don orange jumpsuits, body armor and riot helmets to conceal their identity. They carry large clubs and canisters of pepper spray, which they use liberally. A recent lawsuit names a list of horrific abuses that includes strip searches, beatings and mass shakedowns of cells.

      In the decades since the 1971 prison rebellion at Attica in New York, there has been a gradual build-up of these “tactical teams,” also known as “tac teams” or Special Operations Response Teams (SORTs). Today, they are routinely used for anything from fights to reports of contraband. Only within the Illinois Department of Corrections (IDOC) have they earned the infamous name of “Orange Crush.” Anyone who has been incarcerated in the men’s state prison system has a story about these abusive guards.

    • “I Don’t Think We’re Free in America” – An Interview with Bryan Stevenson

      Although the United States has just elected a new president whose promise to make America great “again” evoked an unspecified, presumably more glorious past, Americans’ appreciation of their own history, and particularly its most damning chapters, is limited at best.

      The country’s long history of racial violence can hardly be denied, but that history is regularly erased from public commemoration. Some civil rights victories are celebrated, but the violence that preceded them is seldom acknowledged.

      Aiming to confront and reclaim that history, the Equal Justice Initiative, led by civil rights attorney and author Bryan Stevenson, launched its “Lynching in America” initiative, a years-long effort to compile the most comprehensive record of racial terror lynchings between 1877 and 1950. The project includes a detailed report of more than 4,000 lynchings in 12 states in the South, including 800 that were previously unreported, as well as plans for a museum in Montgomery, and an effort to erect markers in the places where lynchings took place.

    • Welcome to another year of transformation

      On a winter’s night in 1955, a young preacher named Martin Luther King climbed into the pulpit of the Holt Street Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama. Once there, he delivered a speech that would eventually lead to his own assassination, while breathing new life into the struggle to transform the world in the image of love and social justice.

      If his words are remembered at all these days it’s because of what they helped to launch—the Montgomery Bus Boycott, which heralded a decisive turn in the movement for civil rights. What King said has largely been forgotten, yet the content of his speech was revolutionary in ways that stretch far beyond the context in which it was delivered.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • This Is the Year Donald Trump Kills Net Neutrality

      2015 was the year the Federal Communications Commission grew a spine. And 2017 could be the year that spine gets ripped out.

      Over the past two years, the FCC has passed new regulations to protect net neutrality by banning so-called “slow lanes” on the internet, created new rules to protect internet subscriber privacy, and levied record fines against companies like AT&T and Comcast. But this more aggressive FCC has never sat well with Republican lawmakers.

      Soon, these lawmakers may not only repeal the FCC’s recent decisions, but effectively neuter the agency as well. And even if the FCC does survive with its authority intact, experts warn, it could end up serving a darker purpose under President-elect Donald Trump.

  • DRM

    • The Year We Went on Offense Against DRM: 2016 in Review

      A decade ago, DRM seemed like it was on the ropes: it had disappeared from music, most video was being served DRM-free by YouTube and its competitors, and gamers were united in their hatred of the technology. But by 2016, DRM had come roaring back, finding its way into voting machines, insulin pumps, and car engines.

      Like all invasive species, DRM is hardy, and in the years since the mid-2000s, it has gone on to colonize nearly every category of software-enabled device, from thermostats to voting machines to cars and tractors to insulin pumps. Companies have worked out that since section 1201 of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act provides penalties for breaking DRM, they can simply design their products so that using them in ways that the manufacturer dislikes requires breaking DRM first, and then they can claim that using your property in ways that displease the company that made it is a literal felony.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Copyrights

      • RightsAlliance Forces Ten-Year-Old Site to Delete All Torrents

        A private tracker that has been plagued with all kinds of legal trouble over a decade has finally succumbed to copyright holder pressure. The Internationals weathered the storm of its owner being arrested four years ago but has just been forced to delete all of its torrents.

      • North American Box Office Hits Record $11.4 Billion

        The North American box office closed out the year with $11.4 billion in ticket sales, ComScore said Sunday. That marks a new record for the industry, bypassing the previous high-water mark of $11.1 billion that was established in 2015.


Links 2/1/2017: Neptune 4.5.3 Release, Netrunner Desktop 17.01 Released

Posted in News Roundup at 11:38 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish



  • A Guide To Buying A Linux Laptop

    It goes without saying that if you go to a computer store downtown to buy a new laptop, you will be offered a notebook with Windows preinstalled, or a Mac. Either way, you’ll be forced to pay an extra fee – either for a Microsoft license or for the Apple logo on the back.

    On the other hand, you have the option to buy a laptop and install a distribution of your choice. However, the hardest part may be to find the right hardware that will get along nicely with the operating system.

    On top of that, we also need to consider the availability of drivers for the hardware. So what do you do? The answer is simple: buy a laptop with Linux preinstalled.

  • The Open-Source / Linux Letdowns Of 2016

    Last year I had written about the The Open-Source Linux Letdowns of 2015 and then Other Letdowns For Linux / Open-Source Users From 2015, which ended up being among the most viewed articles of 2016. So I figured I’d once again share a list of what personally was disappointing not to see happen in 2016 within the Linux/open-source space.

  • Desktop

    • Lenovo ThinkPad T460 – A Good Linux Laptop For Development

      After several years with my Dell Latitude E6400 I was searching for a new, more powerful Linux machine for my coding and performance tweaking tasks. And although the Dell XPS line sounded interesting due to the “native” Linux support, it was also expensive with 16GB RAM (>2200€) and several users reported problems with CPU whining. I didn’t want to risc this and also reviews of the Lenovo T460 suggested a more silent and longer lasting experience. So I finally bought the T460 and was just hoping to get a good Linux support. Here are my experiences after a usage for a few months. Keep in mind that everyone has different requirements so maybe the title should be “a good Linux laptop for a certain subset of development tasks”. E.g. I’ve not yet tested 3D suff / hardware acceleration.

  • Kernel Space

    • WireGuard Secure Network Tunnel Is Eyeing Mainline, Running On Android

      Back in June we reported on WireGuard as a next-generation secure network tunnel for the Linux kernel. We haven’t heard much on WireGuard in recent months, but this New Year’s morning we received a message from their lead developer with a status update.

      WireGuard creator Jason Donenfeld emailed into Phoronix an update on the WireGuard project with their accomplishments for 2016 and a look ahead to 2017.

    • A Look Back At Some Of The Best Features Added To The Linux Kernel In 2016
    • Linux 4.10-rc2 Released To Kick Off Kernel Testing For 2017

      Linus Torvalds has issued the second test release of the in-development Linux 4.10 kernel. Linux 4.10-rc2 marks the first kernel release of 2017.

    • Linux 4.10-rc2

      Hey, it’s been a really slow week between Christmas Day and New Years
      Day, and I am not complaining at all.

      It does mean that rc2 is ridiculously and unrealistically small. I
      almost decided to skip rc2 entirely, but a small little meaningless
      release every once in a while never hurt anybody. So here it is.

      The only even remotely noticeable work here is the DAX fixups that
      really arguably should have been merge window material but depended on
      stuff during this merge window and were delayed until rc2 due to that.
      Even that wasn’t big, and the rest is trivial small fixes.

      I’m expecting things to start picking up next week as people recover
      from the holidays.


    • Graphics Stack

      • GLSL Copy Propagation Optimizations For Mesa

        A developer has published a set of 14 patches providing copy propagation optimizations for Mesa’s GLSL/Nir code.

        Thomas Helland on Sunday sent out the set of optimizations to lower the overhead of the copy propagation pass in GLSL. This code isn’t yet ready to be merged but is at a “request for comments” stage.

    • Benchmarks

      • Intel Iris Pro OpenGL Benchmarks On Debian 9 Testing

        Debian Testing is currently making use of the Linux 4.8 kernel, GNOME Shell 3.22.2 as the default desktop environment, xf86-video-modesetting as the DDX over xf86-video-intel, X.Org Server 1.19.0, and Mesa 13.0.1.

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

      • Elementary icons for kde

        in my last post I’ll present two new icon themes La Capitaine and Papirus icon they are really sexy and work very well with Plasma and KDE Applications. As this two icon set’s are sort of monochrome icon set’s I’d like to resent you an non monochrome icon set like oxygen.

      • Summary of 2016

        So, 2016 has been a great year to me. Interesting in many aspects, but most has turned out to be for the better. I’ve gotten to know a bunch of awesome new people, I spoken about open source, Qt and Linux in Europe and USA, I’ve helped hosting an open source conference in Gothenburg, I’ve learned so much more professionally and as a person, and I’ve really enjoyed myself the whole time.

      • KDE releases beta of Kirigami UI 2.0

        Soon after the initial release of Kirigami UI, KDE’s framework for convergent (mobile and desktop) user interfaces, its main developer Marco Martin started porting it from Qt Quick Controls 1 to Qt Quick Controls 2, the next generation of Qt’s ready-made standard controls for Qt Quick-based user interfaces. Since QQC 2 offers a much more extended range of controls than QQC 1, the port allowed the reduction of Kirigami’s own code, while improving stability and performance. Kirigami 2 is kept as close to QQC 2′s API as possible in order to extend it seamlessly.

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK

      • A Look At The GTK4 Development In Early 2017

        Prolific GNOME developer Matthias Clasen has written a blog post about recent and ongoing work for GTK4 at the start of 2017.

      • GTK+ Happenings

        I said that I would post regular updates on what is happening in GTK+ 4 land. This was a while ago, so an update is overdue.

  • Distributions

    • Some of the smallest Linux distributions

      A lot of time and digital ink is dedicated to talking about features, new capabilities and ease of use. This week I want to go in another direction and talk about minimal Linux distributions, projects with low resource requirements and small (less than 100MB) installation media. Some people have limited Internet connections and/or lower-end equipment and this week I want to explore some of the distributions which are designed to require as few resources as possible.

    • New Releases

      • Neptune 4.5.3 Release

        We are proud to announce the third Neptune 4.5 service release.

        This version comes with the newest updates like Chromium 55 & Icedove 45.5 aswell as an upgraded graphicsstack based on Mesa 13.0.2. Besides that this version comes by default with the LTS Kernel 3.18.45. (Newer 4.4 based kernel releases can be found in our repository)

      • Netrunner Desktop 17.01 released

        The Netrunner Team is happy to announce the immediate availability of Netrunner Desktop 17.01 – 64bit ISO.

        Netrunner Desktop adds the usual selection of software applications like KDEnlive, Gimp, VLC, Libreoffice, Audacious, Steam, Skype, Transmission, Virtualbox, Krita, Inkscape and many more.

      • Solus Releases ISO Snapshot 2017.01.01.0

        We’re happy to be kicking off the new year with the release of our first ISO snapshot, 2017.01.01.0, across our Budgie and MATE editions.

      • OpenELEC 7.0 Linux OS Released Based On Kodi 16 Media Center

        This week a new and stable version of OpenELEC 7.0 Linux operating system has been released by its development team which is based on the Kodi 16 Media Center.

        OpenELEC 7.0 is a lightweight distro that is capable of running on older and lower specification PC systems breathing life into them once again and supports Intel, AMD, or ARM chips.

    • PCLinuxOS/Mageia/Mandriva Family

      • Progress Report

        After a lot of effort, I made significant progress with the Epson XP 231 in PCLinuxOS. Today, I managed to get it to work as it should. Some people are reporting my same problem with Steam on that OS, though…

        OpenMandriva Lx 3.1 pretty much does everything, except that Insync, which I believed was running, must be reinstalled every time to get it to work. You close the session and it’s gone. Bad.

        Mageia 5.1′s problem is the scanner. XSane reports that the usb port where it is found fails to open the device. I originally thought it was the file epwoka.conf at /etc/sane.d, but it does not seem to be the problem.

    • Red Hat Family

    • Debian Family

      • !$##@%%%!!! UBUNTU!!!

        A notebook that TLW uses was the last machine in our house to run Ubuntu GNU/Linux.


        The solution was simple. I installed Debian GNU/Linux over top of the crapware. The only real problem with that was I could not find a USB-drive anywhere. I had “loaned” them all out to various ladies who come and go here so they could do “this and that”. Finally, I remembered that the MP3 player I often used while hiking or working in my classroom up North also functioned as a USB-drive. I copied onto it as root (dd if=debian-8.6.0-amd64-netinst.iso of=/dev/sd.. bs=1024k) a “net-install” image of the Debian-installer and booted the notebook from that. I also verified the download against its SHA512SUM (sha512sum debian-8.6.0-amd64-netinst.iso and grep … SHA512SUM). Worked like a charm. Further, there was a means to extricate the backup files from the notebook via a scripted web-server built in to Debian-installer. Cute.

  • Devices/Embedded

Free Software/Open Source

  • 3 tips for effectively using wikis for documentation

    Using a wiki for documentation isn’t a new idea. Countless open source projects do. If you’re looking for a way to write and publish documentation quickly, a wiki can be a viable alternative to the many technical writing tools out there.

  • What is your open source New Year’s resolution?
  • Databases

    • SQLite 3.16 Released, Uses Less CPU Cycles & Adds Experimental PRAGMA Support

      SQLite 3.16.0 was released today and it’s quite a feature-packed release for being the first update of 2017.

      SQLite 3.16.0 now uses about 9% fewer CPU cycles, adds experimental support for PRAGMA functions, enhancements to date and time functions, changes to the look-aside memory allocator, faster LIKE and GLOB when using multiple wildcards, and various other changes.

  • Licensing/Legal

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

    • Hungary government withdrawing from OGP

      This month, the government of Hungary has sent the Steering Committee of the Open Government Partnership (OGP) a letter announcing its immediate withdrawal from the partnership. The move was a response to an invitation by the OGP Criteria and Standards Subcommittee to discuss concerns regarding the deterioration of civil space in Hungary at the OGP Global Summit that took place earlier this month in Paris.

    • Open Data

      • Survey: open data already a reality for scientific researchers

        Open data is already a reality for scientific researchers, especially for those in Social Sciences. Researchers are making data openly available and — in turn — are re-using open data from others in their research. For a lot of researchers, a data citation has a much value as an article citation. These are some of the conclusions of a survey of over 2,000 researchers about their attitude and experiences in working with data, sharing it and making it open. The results were published this fall in the Figshare Digital Science Report ‘The State of Open Data’.

    • Open Hardware/Modding

      • RooBee One, an open-source SLA/DLP 3D printer

        [Aldric Negrier] is no stranger to the 3D printing world. Having built a few already, he designed and built an SLA/DLP 3D printer, named RooBee One, sharing the plans on Instructables. He also published tons of other stuff, like a 3D Printed Syringe Pump Rack and a 3D Scanning Rig And DIY Turntable. It’s really worth while going through his whole Instructables repository.


  • Science

    • Languages still a major barrier to global science, new research finds

      English is now considered the common language, or ‘lingua franca’, of global science. All major scientific journals seemingly publish in English, despite the fact that their pages contain research from across the globe.

      However, a new study suggests that over a third of new scientific reports are published in languages other than English, which can result in these findings being overlooked – contributing to biases in our understanding.

    • Open sourcing Lucy, the world’s most famous fossil

      Forty years after she was discovered, Lucy, the world’s most famous fossil australopithecine, just might have a cause of death. In August of this year, a team of paleoanthropologists led by John Kappelman argued in Nature that Lucy died 3.2 million years ago by falling out of a tree. Their conclusion has been met with skepticism among fellow researchers, and Lucy’s death-by-tree-fall hypothesis has generated no shortage of debate within the scientific community of paleoanthropology.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Quietly, Trump and Republicans Are Gunning to Destroy Medicaid

      Medicaid, the nation’s healthcare program for the poor and disabled, is on the chopping block under President-elect Donald Trump and a Republican-controlled Congress—and it will take “intense focus by progressives” to ensure it doesn’t meet a dire fate.

      In fact, former National Economic Council director Gene B. Sperling wrote Sunday in a New York Times op-ed, “if Democrats focus too much of their attention on Medicare, they may inadvertently assist the quieter war on Medicaid—one that could deny health benefits to millions of children, seniors, working families, and people with disabilities.”

      As Democrats prepare for battles over the two programs, “the Republican effort to dismantle Medicaid is more certain,” Sperling warned—a prediction echoed this week by multiple news outlets.

    • The Sled Dogs that Stopped an Outbreak

      On a dawnless morning in the winter of 1925, a sled dog named Balto became an American hero. Nome, an Alaskan mining town past its heyday, teetered on the brink of a diphtheria outbreak. Children had begun to succumb to the disease, a bacterial infection that coats the esophagus in a suffocating layer of necrotic tissue. The city’s meager supply of antitoxin serum had passed its expiration date. Desperate, the only doctor in town placed sick children into quarantine and radioed for help.

    • France introduces opt-out policy on organ donation

      France has reversed its policy on organ donations so that all people could become donors on their death unless they join an official register to opt out.

      The new law presumes consent for organs to be removed, even if it goes against the wishes of the family.

  • Security

    • Smart electricity meters can be dangerously insecure, warns expert

      Smart electricity meters, of which there are more than 100m installed around the world, are frequently “dangerously insecure”, a security expert has said.

      The lack of security in the smart utilities raises the prospect of a single line of malicious code cutting power to a home or even causing a catastrophic overload leading to exploding meters or house fires, according to Netanel Rubin, co-founder of the security firm Vaultra.

      “Reclaim your home,” Rubin told a conference of hackers and security experts, “or someone else will.”

      If a hacker took control of a smart meter they would be able to know “exactly when and how much electricity you’re using”, Rubin told the 33rd Chaos Communications Congress in Hamburg. An attacker could also see whether a home had any expensive electronics.

    • London Ambulance Service hit by ‘computer system crash’ on New Year’s Eve

      Officials confirmed there was a systems fault in the early hours, though staff are trained for such situations, and they continued to prioritise responses as normal.

      Calls were reportedly logged manually between 12.30am GMT and 5:15am.

    • 33c3 notes

      Some notes and highlights from #33c3. In particular, some talks I found worth watching. I intentionally don’t mention any of the much interesting self-organized sessions and workshops I participated since these are not recorded. I’m just listing some interesting projects at the bottom. I wrote these notes quickly, so I’m certainly missing some stuff.

  • Defence/Aggression

    • Five Dead After ‘Terror Attack,’ Explosion in China’s Xinjiang

      Chinese police have shot dead three suspects who they said killed two people in a “terrorist” attack on a branch office of the ruling Chinese Communist Party in the troubled northwestern region of Xinjiang, official media reported on Thursday.

      The “rioters” detonated an explosive device during the attack on Wednesday afternoon, as well as launching a knife attack, the official Xinhua news agency reported.

      “At around 4:50 p.m. Wednesday … rioters entered the yard of Moyu County Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC) in a vehicle, attacked workers with knives and detonated an explosive device,” it cited the ministry of public security as saying.

      The attack killed an official and a security worker and injured three others, the report said, adding that three people were shot dead at the scene and that the case is now under investigation.

    • The Lauded Russian Hacker Whose Company Landed on the U.S. Blacklist

      The blacklist includes two people suspected of cybercrimes, and four others who are military intelligence officers. All are the kinds of figures one might expect to be on a list of people targeted by the Obama administration in retaliation for Russia’s malfeasance, including efforts to influence the 2016 election.

      Then there is the one who calls herself “mishacker,” a globe-trotter with a rebellious online persona who is perhaps the most intriguing of the newly revealed Russian spies.

      On what appears to be her personal website, called “Hello, stranger,” that person, Alisa Shevchenko, introduces herself and expounds on some of her digital accomplishments, including setting up a work space for hackers in Moscow.

    • Make Russia great again? Aleppo and a plea from another world

      During the last days of December, Russia will host a round of diplomatic talks with Iran and Turkey to try and find a definitive solution to the Syrian civil war. If Putin wants to “make Russia great again,” he should endeavor to honor that tradition. By doing so at least Russia will more probably err on the side of hypocrisy rather than on that of cynicism, and people who suffer the consequences of war would still have a chance to find solace behind the aegis of international law.

    • Trump and Israel’s Anti-Semitic Zionists

      Zioinism was supposed to liberate Israel from these old Jewish complexes. We were supposed to become a normal nation, Israelis instead of “exile” Jews, admired by other nations. Seems we have not quite succeeded.

      But there is a great hope. Actually, a giant hope. It has a name: Donald Trump.

      He has already tweeted that after he assumes power, everything regarding the UN will change.

      But will it? Does anyone – including himself – really know what he has in mind? Can Netanyahu be quite sure?

      True, he is sending a rabid Jewish-American ultra-right Zionist as his ambassador to Tel Aviv (or to Jerusalem, we shall see.) A person so right-wing that he makes Netanyahu himself almost look like a leftist.


      Some time after the war, in Israeli captivity, Eichmann wrote down his memories. He stated that he believed that the Zionists were the “biologically positive” element of the Jewish race.

      Mahmood Abbas, by the way, as a student at Moscow University, wrote his doctoral thesis on Nazi-Zionist cooperation.

      Can Trump’s assistants now include rabid Zionists and rabid anti-Semites at the same time?

      Of course they can.

    • Thanks to Congress, Trump Will Have Nearly Unlimited Power to Wage War

      The failure of U.S. Congress to pass a formal authorization for the war against the Islamic State (ISIS) means incoming President Donald Trump—whose brash and impulsive approach to foreign policy has raised alarms—will have effectively unlimited war powers, Politico reported Thursday.

      In the absence of such a resolution, President Barack Obama has relied on the existing Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF), passed in the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, as justification for military action in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Pakistan, Somalia, Syria, and Yemen. Attempts to replace or rein in the AUMF have failed.

    • Putin’s Real Long Game

      A little over a year ago, on a pleasant late fall evening, I was sitting on my front porch with a friend best described as a Ukrainian freedom fighter. He was smoking a cigarette while we watched Southeast DC hipsters bustle by and talked about ‘the war’ — the big war, being waged by Russia against all of us, which from this porch felt very far away. I can’t remember what prompted it — some discussion of whether the government in Kyiv was doing something that would piss off the EU — but he took a long drag off his cigarette and said, offhand: “Russia. The EU. It’s all just more Molotov-Ribbentrop shit.”

      His casual reference to the Hitler-Stalin pact dividing Eastern Europe before WWII was meant as a reminder that Ukraine must decide its future for itself, rather than let it be negotiated between great powers. But it haunted me, this idea that modern revolutionaries no longer felt some special affinity with the West. Was it the belief in collective defense that was weakening, or the underlying certitude that Western values would prevail?

    • We Are Still Alive (Non-Hacked Russian Stooge and Terrorism Edition)

      This is a version of last year’s January 1 article, updated to reflect the new fears of the World’s Most Frightened Nation.

      I survived. America, and the world, and you, survived. We awoke the first day of 2017 to find that once again, using the extraordinary power of fear, we again held off the terrorists. And Putin. And Trump, nationalists, racists, hackers, alt-Right fascists, CNN, persons of all colors, genders, shapes, sizes, and goddamn religions.

    • What is the Obama Regime Up To?

      Obama has announced new sanctions on Russia based on unsubstantiated charges by the CIA that the Russian government influenced the outcome of the US presidential election with “malicious cyber-enabled activities.”

      The US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has issued a report “related to the declaration of 35 Russian officials persona non grata for malicious cyber activity and harassment.”

      The report is a description of “tools and infrastructure used by Russian intelligence services to compromise and exploit networks and infrastructure associated with the recent U.S. election, as well as a range of U.S. government, political and private sector entities.”

      The report does not provide any evidence that the tools and infrastructure were used to influence the outcome of the US presidential election. The report is simply a description of what is said to be Russian capabilities.

    • Istanbul new year Reina nightclub attack ‘leaves 39 dead’

      At least 39 people, including at least 15 foreigners, have been killed in an attack on a nightclub in Istanbul, Turkey’s interior minister says.

      A gunman opened fire in Reina nightclub at about 01:30 local time (22:30 GMT), as revellers marked the new year.

      Suleyman Soylu said efforts were continuing to find the attacker, who was believed to have acted alone.

      At least 69 people were being treated in hospital, the minister added. Four were said to be in a serious condition.

    • Reliving Agent Orange: What if casualties don’t end on the battlefield, but extend to future generations?

      There are many ways to measure the cost of U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War: in bombs (7 million tons), in dollars ($760 billion in today’s dollars) and in bodies (58,220).

      Then there’s the price of caring for those who survived: Each year, the Department of Veterans Affairs spends more than $23 billion compensating Vietnam-era veterans for disabilities linked to their military service — a repayment of a debt that’s supported by most Americans.

    • ISIS Will Lose the Battle of Mosul, But Not Much Will Remain

      Winners and losers are beginning to emerge in the wars that have engulfed the wider Middle East since the US and UK invaded Iraq in 2003. The most striking signs of this are the sieges of east Aleppo in Syria and Mosul in Iraq, which have much in common though they were given vastly different coverage by the Western media. In both cities, Salafi-jihadi Sunni Arab insurgents were defending their last big urban strongholds against the Iraqi Army, in the case of Mosul, and the Syrian Army, in the case of east Aleppo.

      The capture of east Aleppo means that President Bashar al-Assad has essentially won the war and will stay in power. The Syrian security forces advanced and the armed resistance collapsed more swiftly than had been expected. Some 8,000 to 10,000 rebel fighters, pounded by artillery and air strikes and divided among themselves, were unable to stage a last stand in the ruins of the enclave, as happened in Homs three years ago, and is happening in Mosul now.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • Online calculator cuts farms’ emissions

      It’s called the Cool Farm Tool (CFT) – an easy-to-use online calculator that helps farmers monitor their emissions of greenhouse gases.

      Agriculture accounts for about 15% of total global greenhouse gas emissions, though when fertiliser manufacture and use and the overall food processing sector are included in calculations, that figure is considerably higher.

      The land can also act as a vital carbon sink, soaking up or sequestering vast amounts of carbon: when soils are disturbed the carbon is released, adding to greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.

    • Thin Green Line: 20 Groups Standing Between You and Doom

      Finally, Sanders snapped back: “You know what? Hillary Clinton has been around there for a very, very long time. Some of these groups are, in fact, part of the establishment.”

      These groups responded with mock outrage, clustering before the cameras of MSDNC to denounce Bernie. How could Sanders possibly call us part of the “Establishment”! It’s ridiculous! He should be ashamed of himself!! He must apologize!!!

      But Sanders was absolutely right, of course. The Beltway network of liberal NGOS–from the Sierra Club to NOW–have become little more than dutiful subsidiaries of the Democratic Party. Many of them have enabled and abetted the party’s wholesale lurch toward neoliberalism without so much as a bleat, while howling against almost every minor infraction made by a Republican politician.

    • Top climate stories to watch in 2017

      2016 was something of a mixed bag for the global climate. On the one hand, renewable energy use has never been higher — but on the other hand, 2016 brought with it news of record fossil fuel consumption, as well.

      Meanwhile, the Paris Climate Agreement went into force on November 4, far sooner than anyone ever expected, signaling a new era of international climate action — but just a few days later, the U.S., the second-largest emitter in the world, elected a new president who has called global warming a hoax and pledged to withdraw the U.S. from the Paris Climate Agreement as soon as possible.

    • Record 3.5 tons of pangolin scales seized in China

      Pangolin scales, like rhinoceros horns, are just made of keratin, but that doesn’t stop traditional medicine practitioners from claiming they cure cancer and what-not. It’s why pangolins are the most trafficked animals in the world. China stopped a shipment worth around $2 million that required killing around 7,500 of the cure little anteaters.

    • The Fires of Standing Rock: How a New Resistance Movement was Ignited

      On Sunday, November 6, in Redwood Valley, California several hundred people gathered to listen to activists report back from Standing Rock where they had stood in solidarity with Native American Tribes, known as Water Protectors, opposing the Dakota Access Pipeline.

      One such speaker was Jassen Rodriguez, a Mishewal Wappo tribal member whose ancestral landbase includes much of Sonoma, Napa, and southern Lake counties. He had just returned from a three-week sojourn to North Dakota, where had had stayed at Oceti Sakowin, or Seven Council Fires, an encampment named for the seven bands of the Sioux people where a ceremonial fire has remained burning for many months.

  • Finance

    • Jean-Claude Juncker blocked EU curbs on tax avoidance, cables show

      The president of the European commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, spent years in his previous role as Luxembourg’s prime minister secretly blocking EU efforts to tackle tax avoidance by multinational corporations, leaked documents reveal.

      Years’ worth of confidential German diplomatic cables provide a candid account of Luxembourg’s obstructive manoeuvres inside one of Brussels’ most secretive committees.

      The code of conduct group on business taxation was set up almost 19 years ago to prevent member states from being played off against one another by increasingly powerful multinational businesses, eager to shift profits across borders and avoid tax.

    • Reducing Inequality in the Trump Era

      With Washington looking hopeless, it’s up to local communities to close the gap between the richest and the rest.


      So if we can’t expect the Trump administration to work to stem rising inequality, how will we move forward?

      The victories of 2016, which involved organizing at the state and local levels to lift up workers and expand opportunities for all, show the type of innovative campaigns we’ll need. There are no illusions that change will come from Washington — the new team in town has made clear they’re not interested.

      That’s no reason to sit back and wait for another election. Progress can come from working within our own communities to push forward smart ideas that don’t need a sign-off from Congress or Trump.

      That work should start now. It remains, after all, the defining challenge of our time.

    • Trump Takes Credit for New Sprint Jobs He Had Nothing To Do With

      President-elect Donald Trump wasted no time taking credit for the thousands of new and returning American jobs announced by Sprint on Wednesday—opportunities which, as many are pointing out, the real estate mogul had very little to do with.

      Speaking to reporters from his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida, Trump said Wednesday: “Because of what’s happening and the spirit and the hope I was just called by the head people at Sprint and they’re going to be bringing 5,000 jobs back to the United States.”

      “Also,” he continued, “OneWeb, a new company is going to be hiring 3,000 people so that is very exciting.”

      Later, he doubled down on that claim saying: “Because of me they’re doing 5,000 jobs in this country.”

    • What U.S. Tech Giants Face in Europe in 2017

      For American tech behemoths like Google and Facebook, Europe can be both a blessing and a curse.

      The region and its 500 million consumers are one of the companies’ most important overseas markets. And in cities from Lisbon to Ljubljana, people often can’t get enough YouTube videos, Amazon purchases and Twitter messages.

      Yet policy makers in the 28-member European Union have also become some of the most ardent critics of how Silicon Valley companies dominate much of the digital world. The criticisms include the companies’ perceived failure to pay local taxes and their collection of reams of personal information.

    • Defying Donald Trump’s Kleptocracy

      The final stages of capitalism, Karl Marx predicted, would be marked by global capital being unable to expand and generate profits at former levels. Capitalists would begin to consume the government along with the physical and social structures that sustained them. Democracy, social welfare, electoral participation, the common good and investment in public transportation, roads, bridges, utilities, industry, education, ecosystem protection and health care would be sacrificed to feed the mania for short-term profit. These assaults would destroy the host. This is the stage of late capitalism that Donald Trump represents.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • We Do Not Live in “Post Truth” World, We Live in a World of Lies and We Always Have

      We do not live in a “post-truth” world, neither in the Middle East nor in the West – nor in Russia, for that matter. We live in a world of lies. And we always have lived in a world of lies.

      Just take a look at the wreckage of the Middle East with its history of people’s popular republics and its hateful dictators. They feast on dishonesty, although they all – bar the late Muammar al-Gaddafi – demand regular elections to make-believe their way back to power.

      Now, I suppose, it is we who have regular elections based on lies. So maybe Trump and the Arab autocrats will get on rather well. Trump already likes Field Marshal/President al-Sissi of Egypt, and he’s already got a golf course in Dubai. That he deals in lies, that he manufactures facts, should make him quite at home in the Middle East. Misogyny, bullying, threats to political opponents, authoritarianism, tyranny, torture, sneers at minorities: it’s part and parcel of the Arab world.

      And look at Israel. The new US ambassador-to-be – who might as well be the Israeli ambassador to the US – can’t wait to move the American embassy to Jerusalem. He seems to feel more antagonism towards the Jewish left in America than the Palestinians who claim East Jerusalem as a capital and whose state he has no interest in. Will Trump enrage the Arabs? Or will he get away with a little domestic rearrangement of the Israel embassy on the grounds that the Gulf Arabs, at least, know that Israel’s anti-Shiism – against Syria, Iran and Hezbollah – fits in rather well with the Sunni potentates who’ve been funding Isis and Jabhat al-Nusrah and all the other jolly jihadis?

    • Trump’s Tweets Take a Turn for the Worse

      That Donald Trump is erratic, emotionally immature, and stunningly ignorant is hardly news. Neither is his fondness for communicating with the world via Twitter. What could be more fitting? One hundred forty characters are all that he can string together, and all his thoughts deserve.

      Lately, though, there is news about the Donald — not just because everything a President-elect does is newsworthy, but also because his tweets have taken a turn for the worse: from merely worrisome to downright alarming.

      Even the fools who voted for the Donald “to make America great again” must be noticing.

      All they ever wanted was the level of social and economic security of the years before the neoliberal (Clintonite) turn. They wanted to live in a world in which a man (always a man) could earn a family wage and in which “the American dream,” whatever that means (it seems to have something to do with upward social and economic mobility) is within every good (white) American’s reach; and in which troops, marching under the banner of Old Glory, always win the wars they fight. USA, Number One!

      Sore losers say Hillary lost because Trump voters were xenophobic and racist. Many of them were concerned about immigration — for dubious, but not entirely “deplorable,” reasons. Only a few were overtly racist, however. They weren’t even all white.

    • A Sour Holiday Season for Neocons

      Regarding Clinton’s defeat, her embrace of the neocon/liberal-hawk “regime change” obsessions siphoned off enthusiasm among the peace faction of the Democratic Party, a significant and activist part of the progressive movement.

      Clinton’s alignment with the neocon/liberal hawks may have helped her with the mainstream media, but the MSM has lost much of its credibility by making itself a handmaiden in leading the nation to wars and more wars.

      Average Americans also could feel the contempt that these elites had for the rest of us. The neocons and liberal hawks had come to believe in the CIA’s concept of “perception management,” feeling that the American people were items to be controlled, not the nation’s sovereigns to be informed and respected. Instead of “We the People,” Official Washington’s elites treated us like “Us the Sheep.”

    • Obama’s Support for International Law Draws Bipartisan Ire

      Here’s one way to look at it: The United States was the only country in the fifteen-member U.N. Security Council that did not support a resolution passed last week criticizing Israel for continuing to expand illegal settlements in the occupied territories.

      On the other hand, the Obama administration refused to veto the resolution—for which it is now drawing fire from both Republicans and Democrats. This opposition has come despite the resolution also calling on both the Israeli and Palestinian governments to prevent violence against civilians, condemn and combat terrorism, refrain from incitement, and comply with their obligations under international law.

    • Donald Trump victory sparks global women’s rights marches

      After a year of seismic shocks comes the protest and fightback. At least that is what activists plan with the first major demonstration of the year – the women’s march – planned for 30 cities around the world on 21 January, the day after Donald Trump’s inauguration as president of the US.

      The women’s march on Washington has been given permission by state authorities to go ahead. Tens of thousands of women (and men, who are also welcome to join it) have already pledged to take part and plans for a sister rally in London are gaining support from writers, musicians and politicians.

      Organisers say the US election proved a “catalyst for a grassroots movement of women to assert the positive values that the politics of fear denies”.

    • Could It Have Been Different?

      Trump’s grandest promise — to “Make America Great Again” — is a resurrection of Ronald Reagan’s original 1980 campaign slogan and, remarkably, it worked yet again nearly four decades later. Little acknowledged, Reagan – along with the millions who voted for him – knew back then that the U.S. was no longer “great.” In the years separating the Reagan and Trump campaigns, the nine intervening administrations – Reagan (2 terms), Bush I (1 term), Clinton (2 terms), Bush II (2 terms) and Obama (2 terms) – failed to address the reasons for the nation’s loss of “greatness.” More troubling, each contributed to ending this alleged greatness.

      Trump won the election promising to break with the old – and failed – domestic and international policies of the inside-the-Beltway establishment symbolized by Hillary Clinton. His Cabinet picks suggest he plans to take the nation — and its people — in a new direction, one based on shortsightedness and self-serving opportunism. The nation faces enormous and radical challenges; Trump can be expected to significantly falter after an initial period of spectacular misdirection.

    • The War Against Alternative Information

      The U.S. establishment is not content simply to have domination over the media narratives on critical foreign policy issues, such as Syria, Ukraine and Russia. It wants total domination. Thus we now have the “Countering Foreign Propaganda and Disinformation Act” that President Obama signed into law on Dec. 23 as part of the National Defense Authorization Act for 2017, setting aside $160 million to combat any “propaganda” that challenges Official Washington’s version of reality.

    • Days of Moderate Democratic Party ‘Are Over,’ Analyst Declares

      According to political commentator Van Jones, it’s a moment when the progressive wing of the party is going to rise.

      Speaking on Sunday to CNN, Jones told host Jake Tapper that the future stars of the party may be surprising, and pointed to Senator-elect for California Kamala Harris as an example.

      Harris, Jones, said, “is unreal.”

      “She’s going to be out there defending those DREAMer kids because they’re a big part of her constituency, but she’s got African-American roots. She’s got Asian roots. She’s female. She’s tough. She’s smart. She’s going to become a big deal,” he said.

      Indeed, The Hill described Harris, currently the state’s attorney general, as among the “10 incoming lawmakers to watch.”

    • As a Trump Administration Fast Approaches, Cities and Towns Gear Up for Political Resistance

      Back in March, when Donald Trump was facing off with two now-forgotten candidates for the Republican Party’s presidential nomination, the small town of Barnstead, New Hampshire, was quietly protecting its citizens. At their annual town hall, residents voted unanimously for a city ordinance establishing the right to freedom from forced religious identification.

    • Fascism can’t be stopped by fact-checking

      Arendt, a German-born Jewish philosopher, wrote these words trying to make sense of Hitler’s Germany. The ways in which they resonate in today’s U.S. context is chilling. Arendt’s analysis here reminds me why fascism—including nascent neo-fascist forms—can’t be fact-checked.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • Community Voices: On art and censorship, Junauda Petrus’ open letter to the city of Minneapolis

      I give thanks to the sacred, indigenous ancestors to this land and the ways they are influencing spirits in these times as we continue the journey to light and justice. I gives thanks to the ancestors of my blood, who guide my heart and have paved the way for my life as a healer through the realm of art. May I honor their memory by living into my truth.

    • 2016’s Assault On The Internet Was Brutal. Will 2017 Be Worse?

      Nothing may have had as bad of a year as the Internet.

      The Internet has been hit with an onslaught of criticism and suffered several setbacks in 2016: from relinquishment of American control over web address management, introduced surveillance measures in the United Kingdom, social media backlash for users’ hate speech and terrorist affiliations, to censorship and fake news.


      The U.K. passed a surveillance bill in November that significantly expands the government’s spying powers, namely over the Internet. The Investigatory Powers Bill is considered so expansive, it’s informally called the “snoopers’ charter.” The European Union’s top court ruled the measure was illegal because it calls for the “general and indiscriminate” retention of people’s online web traffic, but it remains to be seen if the ruling will ultimately matter.

    • Press freedom organisation condemns tough censorship in Venezuela

      The Inter American Press Association (IAPA) has expressed regret that the old year ended with the toughest censorship and restriction of the Venezuelan press following the announcement by the South American country’s oldest newspaper, El Impulso, that in 2017 it will no longer circulate in its print edition.

      The paper, founded in January 1904, announced in an editorial on its website that it would be circulating only until December 31 due to the lack of newsprint. It blamed the state-owned Alfredo Maneiro Editorial Corporation, which has a monopoly in the distribution of newsprint.

      The chairman of the IAPA’s Committee on Freedom of the Press and Information, Roberto Rock, condemned “the insolence with which the Venezuelan government is applying censorship in a manner that is as subtle as it is gross.”

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Pirates: You Can Click But You Can Hide

      In a big publicity campaign targeting all types of media and even paying cinema-goers, in 2004 the MPAA warned torrent users that being anonymous online wasn’t possible. You Can Click But You Can’t Hide, their famous slogan read. Now, coming up for an unlucky 13 years later, nothing could be further from the truth.

    • Corporate surveillance, digital tracking, big data & privacy
    • lecture: Corporate surveillance, digital tracking, big data & privacy

      Today virtually everything we do is monitored in some way. The collection, analysis and utilization of digital information about our clicks, swipes, likes, purchases, movements, behaviors and interests have become part of everyday life. While individuals become increasingly transparent, companies take control of the recorded data.

    • Privacy showdown: divorce lawyers could see your web history

      Australia’s new mandatory data retention scheme is headed for a big confrontation, as the Turnbull government moves to allow civil litigation lawyers access to the web, phone and email sessions of every private user.

      Since October 13, 2015, all telephony and internet service providers have been required by law to retain for two years all their clients’ metadata, including voice, text and email communications, time, date and device locations and internet sessions.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Not Working for Us

      The benefits extended to the personal as well. Jake invited me to sex parties, and I enthusiastically attended, and made friendships there that persist to this day. Some of those parties didn’t have any problems (that I noticed). But sometimes I saw interactions that made me uncomfortable. Sometimes I participated in questionable activities. Everybody in the room said “yes” in the moment — sometimes after discussion, sometimes with their body language screaming “no”. Jake and I never talked about those situations.

      Benefits accrued to organizations as well. It became routine for CCC to be mentioned above the fold in the NYT each Congress season. Noisebridge (co-founded by Jake) attained a certain fame, then a notoriety. It was exciting, but we saw the problems. We even called them out occasionally, but for years I said to myself, “he’s problematic but he does good work and his negative behavior is part and parcel of the special gift that makes him so effective.” Many others excused what they saw with a similar calculus.

      Being friends with Jake had worked for me. But “Works For Me” isn’t good enough. I’d privately warned women not to date him, but I wasn’t confronting the problems. I was covering them, hiding from them.

    • Rare Track Record: NYPD’s History Chronicling Hate Crimes

      As of Dec. 18, 2016, there had been 373 hate crimes reported to the New York Police Department. Crimes against Muslims were up 50 percent from the same time last year, rising to 33 from 22. Crimes involving sexual orientation were also up — to 101 from last year’s 74. Whites have been victims, too, the source of 16 reported crimes.

      The numbers reflect a distinctive effort by a law enforcement agency to track crimes driven by intolerance, for hate crimes are notoriously poorly reported across the country. Since 1980, however, the New York Police Department has operated a hate crime task force, and since 1994 it has diligently sent off its data on such crimes to the FBI.

    • Why ‘White Genocide’ is Key to the Earth’s Survival: White Genocide From Baldwin to Ciccariello-Maher

      White genocide would not only be good, it is necessary and even unavoidable; that is, if we are interested in the survival of the planet, humanity, and all life forms – though to be clear the phrase ‘white genocide’ is a bit of a misnomer. Perhaps most accurate would be the concept of collective mass “white” ontological suicide or more simply put: the end of white supremacy. To clarify, a 140-character tweet cannot do justice to a necessary and timely analysis, so my intent is to do so here…. “White genocide” has little to do with violence or the physical death of actual living “white” people – or as renowned poet James Baldwin preferred to call them since 1979: “people who think they’re white” – but rather with the collective disinvestment amongst “people who think they’re white” from all forms of racial thinking and their own holding on to the benefits accrued directly and indirectly through a persistent global structure of white supremacy over the last 500 years.

      In the 1984 essay, “On Being White,” James Baldwin also stated (as others before and after him have as well) that “no one was white before he/she came to America. It took generations, and a vast amount of coercion, before this became a white country.” That coercion was twofold: wreaked upon the bodies of indigenous inhabitants of these lands and the souls kidnapped, transported and enslaved through the Atlantic slave trade, on the one hand; but also through the legal and extralegal sanctioning and expectation that eastern and southern Europeans and Jews who were not initially


Links 1/1/2017: KDE Plasma 5.9 Coming, PelicanHPC 4.1

Posted in News Roundup at 8:35 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish



  • Kernel Space

    • Germany’s 1&1 Still Working On MARS For The Linux Kernel, Still Hoping For Upstream

      At the end of last year was an update on MARS Replication System Still Being Worked On For Upstream Linux Kernel and like clock work, the German web hosting provider has issued another update on the in-development MARS replication system and is still hoping to mainline it, maybe next year.

      MARS’ tag-line at the 1&1 web hosting company is “replicating petabytes over long distances” and “has replaced DRBD as the backbone of the 1&1 geo-redundancy feature as publicly advertised for 1&1 Shared Hosting Linux (ShaHoLin). MARS is also running on several other 1&1 clusters. Some other people over the world have also seemingly started to use it.”

    • Graphics Stack

      • Skylake Iris Pro Graphics: Ubuntu, Fedora, openSUSE, Antergos, Clear Linux Benchmarks

        For those craving some more end-of-year Linux distribution benchmarks, this morning I finished carrying out a fresh Linux distro comparison focusing upon the Intel OpenGL performance when making use of “Skylake” Iris Pro hardware. For this New Year’s Eve benchmarking fun was Ubuntu, Fedora, openSUSE, Antergos, and Clear Linux.

      • Mesa Saw More Than 10,000 Commits This Year From Record Number Of Contributors

        Unless Marek delivers another one of his big patch-sets to provide some new feature/improvement to RadeonSI, the OpenGL shader cache magically lands, or some other big surprise to end out the year, here are some final statistics about Mesa’s impressive developments in 2017.

      • AVC VDENC Video Encoding Enabled For Intel Broxton & Kabylake

        For those that don’t recall, VDENC is a low-power, high-performance video encode engine added originally to Intel Skylake hardware. That aforelinked article covers the big benefits of using VDENC and the patches published earlier this year for enabling this Intel video encode engine on Linux.

      • Multiseat systems and the NVIDIA binary driver (update)

        Last month I wrote about using the NVIDIA binary driver with multiseat systems. There were a number of crazy tweaks that we had to use to make it work, but with some recent updates, the most egregious are no longer necessary. Hans de Goede posted about an Xorg update that removes the requirement for a separate Xorg configuration folder for the NVIDIA card, and I’ve created a pull request for negativo17.org’s NVIDIA driver that uses the updated Xorg configs in a way that’s friendly to multiseat systems.

    • Benchmarks

      • Early Benchmarks Of Linux 4.10 Show Some Improvements & Regressions For Core i7-6800K

        This New Year’s Eve I finished up some benchmarks of the Linux 4.5 through Linux 4.10 Git kernels on a powerful Core i7 6800K “Broadwell-E” system. I found some improvements with 4.10 Git, but there are also some evident regressions.

        I’ll have more benchmark results in the New Year as time allows and the 4.10 development settling down, but from the tests I did so far on the Core i7 6800K system there is some concern over what appears to be some definite and noticeable regressions.

  • Applications

    • FLAC 1.3.2 (01-Jan-2017)
    • StreamTuner2 v2.2 Released For Internet Radio/Video Browser

      It’s been a long time since I last heard of StreamTuner2 as an open-source Internet radio station and video browser, but a major update was released today.

    • Avidemux Open-Source Video Editor Updated To End Out 2016

      If the recent releases of Kdenlive, OpenShot, Pitivi, and others haven’t satisfied your needs, perhaps you may want to try out the latest build of Avidemux.

      For those in need of a basic cross-platform, open-source video editor, Avidemux 2.6.16 is now available. Avidemux 2.6.16 is coming just one month after the previous release and together provide a modestly-sized bundle of updates. Avidemux 2.6.16 updates its FFmpeg library, adds a resizer to VA-API, improvements to its Qt user-interface, fixed sub-titling on macOS, re-emabled NVENC video encoding support, and build system improvements.

    • Instructionals/Technical

    • Games

      • Happy New Year from GamingOnLinux

        GOL itself is now seven and a half years old, and hopefully we will be around for another seven at least!

      • Godot Continues Major Work On Its 3D Renderer For Release In 2017

        Open-source game engine Godot has been working on a multi-month project to vastly improve (and largely rewrite) its 3D renderer to make it as great as its 2D renderer. This work is being done for the Godot 3.0 engine and so far this 3D renderer is seeing a lot of movement.

        Godot 3.0 is aiming for a modern, clustered renderer that supports graphics features similar to other modern game engines like a physically based renderer, global illumination, shadow mapping, and more.

      • Intel’s Clear Linux Is Working On Steam Support

        For those planning to do Linux gaming with Intel graphics hardware, you might soon have a new choice with the performance-oriented Clear Linux distribution out of Intel’s Open-Source Technology Center.

        Clear Linux developers are currently working on bringing up support for Steam in Clear Linux, something that isn’t trivial to do as the operating system tends to be 64-bit focused while Steam still depends upon a mess of 32-bit packages, among other challenges. But Intel developer Arjan van de Ven has shared a photo on Twitter showing the basics of Steam appearing to work on Clear Linux.

      • Former Valve Developer: Steam Linux Project Was The Hardest

        Getting games on Linux and improving OpenGL drivers was the hardest challenge one veteran game developer has come across.

        Rich Geldreich who had worked at Valve for five years shared the most difficult work he’s done: Steam for Linux. That’s on top of his time at Valve he worked at Microsoft, served as an adjunct professor, was a head researcher for a company since acquired by Google, was CTO for a mobile games company, formerly a principal software engineer at Unity, now an independent consultant / software engineer, and an expert on data compression.

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

      • KDE Plasma 5.9 Being Released In One Month With Many New Features

        One month from today, KDE Plasma 5.9 will officially meet the world.

        Among the work on the menu for Plasma 5.9 are many Wayland improvements, possibly the return of the global menu, and a lot of bug fixes. The Wayland improvements are the main area I am looking forward to with Plasma 5.9 with seeing it become a more usable alternative to X11 and closer to GNOME’s Wayland session support.

      • Discover more in 2017

        With 2017 starting, we’re getting ready for the next Plasma 5.9 release and with it a new Discover release.

        This will be a special release for two main reasons: further add-ons integration and Kirigami.

  • Distributions

    • New Releases

      • PelicanHPC v4.1

        December 30, 2016: PelicanHPC v4.1 is released with two desktop (xfce and gnome), it is based on Debian 8.6 (Jessie) and live-build 4.x. The default login information are (user= user, password= PelicanHPC). For security purpose, please change your password after login.

    • Gentoo Family

    • OpenSUSE/SUSE

      • Another openSUSE Board candidate ;-)

        I use openSUSE since years (actually it was still „SuSE Linux“ with lowercase „u“ back then), started annoying people in bugzilla, err, started betatesting in the 9.2 beta phase. Since then, I reported more than 1200 bugs. Later, OBS ruined my bugzilla statistics by introducing the option to send a SR ;-)

        More recently, I helped in fighting the wiki spam, which also means I‘m admin on the english wiki since then, and had some fun[tm] with the current server admin. I‘m one of the founding members of the Heroes team (thanks to Sarah for getting the right people together at oSC16!) Currently, I work on the base server setup (using salt) for our new infrastructure and updating the wiki to an up-to-date MediaWiki version.

    • Red Hat Family

    • Debian Family

      • Debian 8: The Clean Install

        Procrastination can only take you so far. After putting it off last year, I finally had to upgrade my wife’s operating system. She had been using reliable but elderly Linux Mint 14, and she was encountering more web sites that needed an updated browser…which means either a lot of painful manual installation, or an updated Linux with an up-to-date repository.

        She liked the MATE desktop, and I like the Debian ability to upgrade to a new version without reinstalling, so now that Debian officially supports MATE, I decided to install Debian rather than Mint on her computer. The downside is that I’ll have to install much of the non-free compatibility stuff (like Flash player) the hard way. The upside is that, after I upgrade my computer, we’ll be running the same distro.

        So, off to debian.org to grab the latest official version, 8.6.0. There does not seem to be a CD image for MATE, so I downloaded what I knew to be a lightweight desktop: LXDE. (Specifically, CD image debian-8.6.0-i386-lxde-CD-1.) I knew I could install MATE from the repository.

      • So I’m gonna start doing arduino-things

        My plan is to start exploring Arduino-related projects. It has been years since I touched hardware, with the exception of building a new PC for myself every 12-48 months.

        There are a few “starter kits” you can buy, consisting of a board, and some discrete components such as a bunch of buttons, an LCD-output screen, some sensors (pressure, water, tilt), etc.

      • My free software activities, November and December 2016

        Those were 8th and 9th months working on Debian LTS started by Raphael Hertzog at Freexian. I had trouble resuming work in November as I had taken a long break during the month and started looking at issues only during the last week of November.

      • Free software activities in December 2016

        Whilst anyone can inspect the source code of free software for malicious flaws, most software is distributed pre-compiled to end users.

        The motivation behind the Reproducible Builds effort is to permit verification that no flaws have been introduced — either maliciously or accidentally — during this compilation process by promising identical results are always generated from a given source, thus allowing multiple third-parties to come to a consensus on whether a build was compromised.

  • Devices/Embedded

Free Software/Open Source

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • Tor at the Heart: Firefox

        If you’ve used Tor, you’ve probably used Tor Browser, and if you’ve used Tor Browser you’ve used Firefox. By lines of code, Tor Browser is mostly Firefox — there are some modifications and some additions, but around 95% of the code in Tor Browser comes from Firefox. The Firefox and Tor Browser teams have collaborated for a long time, but in 2016, we started to take it to the next level, bringing Firefox and Tor Browser closer together than ever before. With closer collaboration, we’re enabling the Tor Browser team to do their jobs more easily, adding more privacy options for Firefox users, and making both browsers more secure.

      • Rust-Based Redox OS Had A Busy Year With Rewriting Its Kernel, Writing A File-System

        Redox OS started development mid-way through last year while this year things really took off for this Rust-written operating system from scratch. The project has provided a recap of all of their OS accomplishments for 2016.


  • Health/Nutrition

    • President to Help Dem Lawmakers Strategize on Saving Obamacare

      Aiming to stave off Republican efforts to swiftly repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA) upon returning to Capitol Hill next week, President Barack Obama will meet with congressional Democrats on Wednesday morning for an urgent strategy session.

      The January 4 meeting in the Congressional Visitors Center auditorium was called in a notice sent to lawmakers on Friday; it will reportedly last for “at least one hour.”

      A White House official said Obama will use the meeting to “share his perspective about the dangers posed by Congressional Republicans’ stated strategy to repeal the ACA before proposing any replacement, creating chaos in the health system in the short run—and holding hostage Americans’ health care—while Republicans develop their plan.”

    • 19 States Passed 60 New Abortion Restrictions in 2016

      More than 60 new restrictions on access to abortion were passed by 19 states in 2016, according a year-end report from the Center for Reproductive Rights. The regulations run the gamut from attempts to ban abortion altogether, to excessive paperwork requirements for providers and measures that would restrict the donation of aborted fetal tissue for medical research.

      In sum, 2016 was a just another normal year for advocates who have battled to protect women’s reproductive autonomy. Notably, however, state or federal courts ultimately blocked many of the onerous provisions, a circumstance that underscores how important the judiciary is in protecting women’s rights.

    • Drug test manufacturer repackages old, error-prone chemical formula as cutting-edge product

      Heroin overdoses killed thousands nationwide last year — some 75 over just three days in Chicago. The central culprit in many of the fatalities was fentanyl, a lethally powerful compound often added to drugs sold on the street. As a result, health officials have called fentanyl a new public menace, and police forces across the U.S. are searching their neighborhoods for the dangerous painkiller.

      Sirchie, a leading law enforcement equipment supplier, has found its own way to respond to the crisis. The company now markets an addition to its popular line of drug field tests, NARK II. Police officers use the inexpensive chemical kits to make drug arrests by the thousands every year. The new kits, Sirchie claims, are “designed” so that police can quickly identify fentanyl, and lock up those selling or buying it, potentially rescuing heroin and pain pill users from overdose.

  • Security

    • Ex-student charged with cyberattack on school’s internet

      A Connecticut juvenile has been charged with launching cyberattacks against a school’s internet service in connection with outages that happened in 2015 and earlier this year.

      Shelton police say the former Shelton High School student, whose name and age haven’t been released, was arrested Thursday on a charge of computer crimes in the third-degree. He’s due in juvenile court on Friday.

    • 5 signs we’re finally getting our act together on security

      The high-water line in information security gets higher each year. Just as we think we’ve finally figured out how to defend against attacks, then attackers come up with something new and we are right back to trying to figure out what to do next.

    • You have one second extra tonight!

      Official clocks will hit 23:59:59 as usual, but then they’ll say 23:59:60, before rolling over into 2017. This is known as a ‘leap second’ and timekeepers slip them in periodically to keep our clocks in sync with the Earth’s rotation. The laboratory with responsibility for maintaining the equipment to measure time interval (or frequency) in Ireland is the NSAI’s National Metrology Laboratory.

  • Defence/Aggression

    • Russia Hysteria Infects WashPost Again: False Story About Hacking U.S. Electric Grid

      The first sentence of the article directly linked this cyber-attack to alleged Russian hacking of the email accounts of the DNC and John Podesta – what is now routinely referred to as “Russian hacking of our election” – by referencing the code name revealed on Wednesday by the Obama administration when it announced sanctions on Russian officials: “A code associated with the Russian hacking operation dubbed Grizzly Steppe by the Obama administration has been detected within the system of a Vermont utility, according to U.S. officials.”

    • France ramps up security and deploys 90,000 police and soldiers for New Year’s Eve

      There will be a staggering 52,600 police officers and 36,000 members of the regional gendarmes around the country this New Year’s Eve to keep people safe from any possible terror atacks.

      Police chiefs will be particularly concentrating on those areas where large crowds will be drawn.

      Police are on hight alert after a truck ploughed into a Christmas market in Berlin killing 12 people and injuring a further 49.

    • Israel’s Netanyahu et al. Throw Trump-like Tantrums after UNSC Slam

      PM Binyamin Netanyahu of Israel and his cabinet ministers are trying to punch above their weight. He wants to punish the UN, and apparently even the United States. Netanyahu has forbidden Israeli officials to travel to 12 of the countries on the UN Security Council who voted last Friday to condemn Israeli squatter settlements in the Palestinian West Bank (including in East Jerusalem, which Israel illegally has tried to annex).

    • What Israel Fears

      The tone of Israel’s rejection came when Ambassador Danny Danon said that Tel Aviv has the right to build “homes in the Jewish people’s historic homeland”. The settlements, for the Israeli government, are essential for their own project. They see nothing short of — as Ambassador Danon put it — “a Jewish State proudly reclaiming the land of our forefathers”. Ambassador Danon is fully in agreement with Washington’s incoming Ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, who believes in a Greater Israel and denies the existence of Palestine. U.S. President-elect Donald Trump has vowed to undo the resolution and threatened to end U.S. funding to the UN.

      António Guterres, the UN’s new Secretary-General has indicated that he will send a UN Support Mission to push for a two-state solution. Mr. Guterres and Ms. Bensouda will have to thread the needle between the consensus of the international community (a two-state solution) and Israel’s own illegal territorial ambitions. Optimism for progress would be unwarranted.

    • NYT on Iraq and Russia: Newspaper of Record or Journalistic Home to Intelligence Sources and Warmakers

      On May 17 of this year, PBS Frontline broadcast a program titled, “The Secret History of Isis,” which it described as “the inside story of the radicals who became the leaders of ISIS.”

      As a companion piece, Frontline also posted an interview with former U.S. secretary of state Colin Powell about his speech on February 5, 2003, to the United Nations, where he presented the Bush administration’s most authoritative case that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction.


      The Times editorial team chose not only to accept Powell’s assertions, but it trumpeted them with dramatic flair, with disastrous consequences, featuring the invasion and occupation of Iraq and the formation of ISIS.

      Nearly fourteen years later, as if no calamitous partnership between opaque intelligence reports and journalistic subservience had ever occurred, the ritual was repeated yesterday. This time, by the Obama administration, with its publicly issued report on Russian hacking titled, “Grizzly Steppe – Russian Malicious Cyber Activity,” and by the New York Times, which accepted the unconfirmable claims from the report at face value.

      Thus, on December 29, under the headlines “Obama Punishes Russia for Hacking” and “Obama Strikes Back at Russia for Election Hacking,” the Times’ David Sanger, a lead reporter at the Times on Iraqi WMD and the lead writer today on Russian hacking, wrote: “President Obama struck back at Russia on Thursday for its efforts to influence the 2016 election, ejecting 35 suspected Russian intelligence operatives from the United States and imposing sanctions on Russia’s two leading intelligence services.”

    • Summing Up Russia’s Real Nuclear Fears

      If a new Trump administration wants to peacefully reset relations with Russia, there’s no better way to start than by canceling the deployment of costly new ballistic missile defense systems in Eastern Europe. One such system went live in Romania this May; another is slated to go live in Poland in 2018. Few U.S. actions have riled President Putin as much as this threat to erode Russia’s nuclear deterrent.

      Only last month, at a meeting in Sochi with Russian military leaders to discuss advanced new weapons technology, Putin vowed, “We will continue to do all we need to ensure the strategic balance of forces. We view any attempts to change or dismantle it, as extremely dangerous. Our task is to effectively neutralize any military threats to Russia’s security, including those posed by the newly-deployed strategic missile defense systems.”

    • US Heads for Political Showdown with UN

      And a new report released recently by the Office of the New York city Mayor points out that the UN generates $3.69 billion in total economic output to New York city’s economy.

      The 15,890 individuals directly employed by the UN Community took home household earnings of approximately $1.64 billion. These household earnings and the operating expenses of the UN Community helped create and sustain 7,940 jobs for New Yorkers.


      He said evidence is also now emerging of the blatant US manipulation of the global media, including with manufactured news, with the objective of influencing diplomatic outcomes.

      The current Secretary-General, whose interventions, have generally been on the side of the US, also tends to be influenced by the US and the New York media.

      His home being in New York is a factor in this outcome. Perhaps the Secretary-General should rotate his residence around the capitals of the P-5, including in the UK, France, China and Russia.

    • Vladimir Putin Won’t Expel U.S. Diplomats as Russian Foreign Minister Urged
    • UN Security Council approves Russian-drafted resolution on Syria ceasefire

      Security Council members welcomed the agreements reached through the mediation of Russia and Turkey, and stressed the importance of its “full and immediate implementation.”

      The Security Council also expressed its support for the “efforts taken by Russia and Turkey and aimed at stopping violence in Syria and launching a political process.” Council members stressed that they see the Astana meeting as an important step in the process toward the reconciliation of the Syrian conflict.

    • Syria conflict: UN welcomes Russia-Turkey truce efforts

      The UN Security Council has voted to back efforts by Russia and Turkey to end fighting in Syria and plans for fresh peace talks next month.

      The resolution, drafted by Russia, also calls for rapid access for humanitarian aid to be delivered across the country.

      Turkey and Russia led a ceasefire deal that has mostly held since Thursday.

    • U.S. Special Operations Numbers Surge in Africa’s Shadow Wars

      Africa has seen the most dramatic growth in the deployment of America’s elite troops of any region of the globe over the past decade, according to newly released numbers.

      In 2006, just 1% of commandos sent overseas were deployed in the U.S. Africa Command area of operations. In 2016, 17.26% of all U.S. Special Operations forces — Navy SEALs and Green Berets among them — deployed abroad were sent to Africa, according to data supplied to The Intercept by U.S. Special Operations Command. That total ranks second only to the Greater Middle East where the U.S. is waging war against enemies in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, and Yemen.

      “In Africa, we are not the kinetic solution,” Brigadier General Donald Bolduc, the chief of U.S. Special Operations Command Africa, told African Defense, a U.S. trade publication, early this fall. “We are not at war in Africa — but our African partners certainly are.”

    • Mystery as NATO Auditor General is found shot dead in suspicious circumstances

      And more bizarrely it has been reported locally that the gun which killed him was found in the glovebox of the vehicle.

      Local news reports say Mr Chandelon’s family are concerned about the circumstances of the case.

      They say initial suggestions that it was a possible suicide are incorrect.

    • Istanbul nightclub attack: police hunt gunman who killed 39 on New Year’s Eve – live

      At least 15 foreign nationals confirmed dead as Turkish interior minister says gunman is still on loose despite earlier reports attacker had been killed

    • Security Risks of TSA PreCheck

      These solutions completely ignore the data from the real-world experiment PreCheck has been. Hawley writes that PreCheck tells us that “terrorists pick clean operatives.” That’s exactly wrong. PreCheck tells us that, basically, there are no terrorists. If 1) it’s an easier way through airport security that terrorists will invariably use, and 2) there have been no instances of terrorists using it in the 10+ years it and its predecessors have been in operation, then the inescapable conclusion is that the threat is minimal. Instead of screening PreCheck passengers more, we should screen everybody else less.

    • Rethinking The Cost of War

      There are many ways to measure the cost of U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War: In bombs (7 million tons), in dollars ($760 billion in today’s dollars) and in bodies (58,220).

      Then there’s the price of caring for those who survived: Each year, the Department of Veterans Affairs spends more than $23 billion compensating Vietnam-era veterans for disabilities linked to their military service — a repayment of a debt that’s supported by most Americans.

      But what if the casualties don’t end there?

      The question has been at the heart of reporting by The Virginian-Pilot and ProPublica over the past 18 months as we’ve sought to reexamine the lingering consequences of Agent Orange, the toxic herbicide sprayed by the millions of gallons over Vietnam.

      We’ve written about ailing Navy veterans fighting to prove they were exposed to the chemicals off Vietnam’s coast. About widows left to battle the VA for benefits after their husbands died of brain cancer. About scores of children who struggle with strange, debilitating health problems and wonder if the herbicide that sickened their fathers has also affected them.

    • The Agent Orange Widows Club

      Pegi Scarlett had just returned from her husband’s grave this past Memorial Day — the first since his death — when, on a whim, she decided to search online whether other Vietnam vets had died of the same aggressive brain cancer.

      With a few keystrokes, she found a Facebook group with a couple hundred widows like herself, whose veteran husbands had died of glioblastoma. She also found an intriguing article: A widow in Missouri had fought for almost eight years before convincing the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs that she was entitled to benefits for her husband’s fatal brain cancer because of his exposure to the toxic defoliant Agent Orange.

      “Shocked is probably the word,” Scarlett said, describing her reaction to what she found. “Story after story after story.”

    • Long List of Agent Orange Decisions Awaits VA in 2017

      With 2016 drawing to a close and a new presidential administration poised to take over, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs faces an array of decisions related to the herbicide Agent Orange, which contained the toxic chemical dioxin and was used to kill vegetation during the Vietnam War.

    • Top Eight Mideast Stories of 2016 that Shaped our World

      In 2016, the Middle East continued to be a major focus of the US public, and it often came up in the primary and presidential debates. Alas, the Middle East referenced by US politicians and many pundits does not actually exist, and the American fixation on this region has a creepy stalker-like quality to it. If we set aside the glib talking points, what were the big Middle East stories this year that actually did or likely will deeply affect the American public?

    • Clashes break out in Syria hours after ceasefire implemented

      Clashes between rebels and Syrian government forces took place less than two hours after a ceasefire took effect on Friday, a monitoring group and a rebel official said, in the first violations of a deal backed by Russia and Turkey.

      The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group said rebels had violated the truce deal and taken over a position in Hama province.

      Mohammed Rasheed, a spokesman for the Jaish al-Nasr rebel group, said government forces had violated the truce, shelling areas in Atshan and Skeik villages in Idlib province, which borders Hama.

      The ceasefire brokered by Russia and Turkey went into effect in war-ravaged Syria at midnight local time, a potential breakthrough in the six years of fighting that have left more than a quarter-million people dead and triggered a refugee crisis across Europe.

    • Even as Global Trade Dropped, US Arms Sales Boomed in 2015

      The U.S. sold more weapons than any other country in 2015 despite a drop in the global arms trade, according to a new congressional report.

      At $40 billion, the U.S. signed more than half of all arms agreements last year, and more than double the next-highest seller, which was France at $15 billion. American weapons sales included bombs, missiles, armored tanks, Apache attack helicopters, F-15 fighter jets, and other items.

    • Escalating the Risky Fight with Russia

      The neocons and their liberal-interventionist chums never seem to think through one of their “regime change” schemes. It’s enough that they wrote the plan down in some op-ed article or reached a consensus at a think-tank conference. After that, all there is to do is to generate the requisite propaganda, often accompanied by intelligence “leaks” and maybe some heartbreaking photos of children, to rile up the American people so they can be easily herded into the next slaughterhouse.

    • How Israel Misuses the Bible

      So in this hallucinatory theology, just as God gave Paris to France the Zionist deity gave Palestine to Jews including the right to build whatever they want wherever they want it. If the Zionist god posted a “Jews only” sign on Palestine, the presence of non-Jews is a sacrilege and their land claims are specious. If nothing is intelligible outside its history, as the Jesuit paleontologist Teilhard de Chardin put it, Ambassador Danon’s French allusion can only be understood against this theological backdrop.

    • On Loving Another Country

      “I love Israel.” So declared Donald Trump while campaigning for the presidency. A candidate professing to love Poland or Canada might meet with raised eyebrows. Yet especially during presidential election years, over-the-top expressions of regard for Israel have become de rigueur. Like promising to take care of vets and protect social security, it’s what you do to raise money, reassure key constituencies, and ultimately win votes.

    • Nixon’s Vietnam Treachery

      Richard M. Nixon always denied it: to David Frost, to historians and to Lyndon B. Johnson, who had the strongest suspicions and the most cause for outrage at his successor’s rumored treachery. To them all, Nixon insisted that he had not sabotaged Johnson’s 1968 peace initiative to bring the war in Vietnam to an early conclusion. “My God. I would never do anything to encourage” South Vietnam “not to come to the table,” Nixon told Johnson, in a conversation captured on the White House taping system.

      Now we know Nixon lied. A newfound cache of notes left by H. R. Haldeman, his closest aide, shows that Nixon directed his campaign’s efforts to scuttle the peace talks, which he feared could give his opponent, Vice President Hubert H. Humphrey, an edge in the 1968 election. On Oct. 22, 1968, he ordered Haldeman to “monkey wrench” the initiative.

      The 37th president has been enjoying a bit of a revival recently, as his achievements in foreign policy and the landmark domestic legislation he signed into law draw favorable comparisons to the presidents (and president-elect) that followed. A new, $15 million face-lift at the Nixon presidential library, while not burying the Watergate scandals, spotlights his considerable record of accomplishments.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • Chipping Away at National Security Letters: 2016 in Review

      When Congress passed the USA FREEDOM Act in 2015 as part of the country’s reckoning with the post-9/11 surveillance state, comparably little attention was paid to amendments the law made to national security letters (NSLs). At the time, EFF said that these changes stopped far short of the NSL reform we’d hoped for, and we predicted only superficial improvements in how the FBI issues NSLs. In 2016, we saw how these changes played out in real cases—some involving EFF clients—and it looks as if our assessment was appropriately measured. Overall, the revised law has allowed for the FBI to engage in selective transparency about NSLs on a modest scale, all the while seeking to expand the scope of NSLs and stand in the way of independent oversight. In 2016, EFF notched a few victories on behalf of our clients, but we’re still looking to achieve total victory and have the NSL statute declared unconstitutional.

    • Congress Gives FOIA a Modest but Important Update For Its 50th Birthday: 2016 in Review

      Year after year, federal agencies worked behind the scenes to thwart any attempt to reform the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). In 2016, Congress finally came through and successfully amended the 50-year-old transparency statute with the goal of improving our ability to oversee our government.

      For FOIA’s golden anniversary, EFF and other transparency advocates were hoping for a comprehensive set of reforms (our wishlist is here). Although what Congress ultimately passed wasn’t half as robust, the FOIA Improvement Act of 2016 represents some of the most pronounced changes to the law in roughly a decade.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • 2017: Trump Peddles Climate Doubt in a World Sold on Action

      President-elect Donald Trump may dismiss the Paris Agreement and pack his cabinet with climate deniers, but once he takes office, he will face a world that takes the climate crisis as seriously as he does not.

      He will enter a complex web of diplomatic relations, where issues like trade, finance, migration, security, poverty, food aid and disaster relief are all intertwined and all have important links to the climate agenda. It’s a world already dealing with significant climate impacts and sold on climate action.

      “I am struck by the shift over the last few years in how the global community puts climate change on its agenda,” Jonathan Pershing, President Obama’s special envoy on climate, told InsideClimate News. “It is now virtually everywhere.”

    • Setting Stage for Major Climate Battle, Dem AGs Put Trump on Alert
    • sHumanity may self-destruct, but the universe can cope perfectly without us

      In a Scandinavian hotel a few years ago, I came across a documentary I didn’t expect to watch for more than a minute or two, but at least it was in English. It was past time to go to bed, but I ended up watching the whole thing. Aftermath: Population Zero imagines that overnight humanity vanishes from the planet.
      The 13 impossible crises that humanity now faces | George Monbiot
      Read more

      You may have seen it. The immediate effects of human departure are sentimentally saddening: pets die, no longer competent to fend for themselves. Some livestock fares poorly, though other domesticated animals romp happily into the wild. Water cooling fuel rods of nuclear power plants evaporate, and you’d think that would be the end of everything – but it isn’t.

      Radioactivity subsides. Mankind’s monuments to itself decay, until every last skyscraper has rusted and returned to dirt. Animals proliferate, flora thrive, forests rise. Bounty, abundance and beauty abound. Antelopes leap from wafting golden grasses. It was all very exhilarating, really. I went to sleep that night with a lightened heart.

    • The Emoluments Clause: Its text, meaning, and application to Donald J. Trump

      Foreign interference in the American political system was among the gravest dangers feared by the Founders of our nation and the framers of our Constitution. The United States was a new government, and one that was vulnerable to manipulation by the great and wealthy world powers (which then, as now, included Russia). One common tactic that foreign sovereigns, and their agents, used to influence our officials was to give them gifts, money, and other things of value. In response to this practice, and the self-evident threat it represents, the framers included in the Constitution the Emoluments Clause of Article I, Section 9. It prohibits any “Person holding any Office of Profit or Trust under [the United States]” from accepting “any present, Emolument, Office, or Title, of any kind whatever, from any King, Prince, or foreign State.” Only explicit congressional consent validates such exchanges.

    • Trump and the Climate: His Hot Air on Warming Is Far From the Greatest Threat

      Trump, who has called climate change a hoax, has frightened many with his embrace of fossil fuels. What’s truly scary, scientists and others say, is how much larger the problem is than one American president.


      “This very expensive GLOBAL WARMING bullshit has got to stop,” Trump tweeted a year ago.

      In recent weeks, Trump doubled down, nominating champions of fossil fuels to several cabinet positions and peppering his transition team with longtime opponents of environmental regulations.

      Both the rhetoric and the actions have provoked despair among many who fear a Trump presidency will tip the planet toward an overheated future, upending recent national and international efforts to stem emissions of heat-trapping carbon dioxide from burning coal, oil and natural gas.


      The real risk for climate change in a Trump presidency, according to close to a dozen experts interviewed for this story, lies less in impacts on specific policies like Obama’s Clean Power Plan and more in the realm of shifts in America’s position in international affairs.

      Even if he doesn’t formally pull out of the climate treaty process, Trump could, for example, cancel payments pledged by the United States to a Green Climate Fund set up in 2010 to help the poorest developing countries build resilience to climate hazards and develop clean-energy systems.

    • Perth Zoo losing breeding recommendations, in favour of open range zoos

      Perth Zoo is no longer getting breeding recommendations for a number of animal species because of its limited size.

      The zoo’s chief executive Susan Hunt said this was preventing WA from making a real difference to wildlife conservation, but this would change once an open range zoo planned for Lower Chittering was operating.

      The State Government announced plans for the open range zoo in November, and Premier Colin Barnett said on Sunday an initial environmental assessment of the 700-hectare site in Perth’s north-east was very positive.

      Ms Hunt said the existing Perth Zoo was still suitable for some breeding programs.

    • Paris warming limit will increase fish catches

      Swiss and Canadian scientists have worked out a simple way to save more fish for the supper table: sticking to the Paris Agreement to limit global warming to 1.5°C above the historic average should be enough to increase fish catches by six million tonnes a year.

      But if the world’s nations go on as they have done – burning fossil fuels, releasing greenhouse gases, and inexorably changing the climate – then global average temperatures will rise by 3.5°C and global fish catches will fall dramatically.

      A new study in Science journal calculates that for every degree Celsius that the Earth does not warm, fish catches could increase by 3 million tonnes. So holding warming to two degrees below the rise predicted under a business-as-usual scenario would net the additional six million tonnes.

    • We Have Released a Monster: Previously Frozen Soil Is “Breathing Out” Greenhouse Gases

      A study published in the journal Nature has revealed an alarming new climate feedback loop: As Earth’s atmosphere continues to warm from anthropogenic climate disruption (ACD), soils are respirating carbon — that is, carbon is being literally baked out of the soils.

      Microorganisms in soil generally consume carbon, then release CO2 as a byproduct. Large areas of the planet — such as Alaska, northern Canada, Northern Europe and large swaths of Siberia in Russia — have previously been too cold for this process to occur. However, they are now warming up, and soil respiration is happening there. As a result, these places are contributing far, far more CO2 and methane to the atmosphere than they ever have.

      This phenomenon is already evidenced by a recently released study led by the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), which Truthout reported on recently.

    • ‘The Greatest Single Step’ to Help Elephants Was Just Taken

      In a development widely described as game changing for the ecosystem engineers, China has announced it will enact a total ban on its domestic ivory trade by the end of 2017.

      The news on Friday, as Agence France-Press reports, “follows Beijing’s announcement in March to widen a ban on imports of all ivory and ivory products acquired before 1975, after pressure to restrict a trade that sees thousands of elephants slaughtered every year.”

      Reuters adds: “The State Council said in a notice a complete ban would be enforced by Dec. 31, 2017. A first batch of factories and shops will need to close and hand in their licenses by March 31, 2017.”

      It is indeed a significant step, as “China is currently the biggest buyer and seller of ivory in the world,” as BBC News notes, and the thirst for ivory is driving the slaughter of elephants.

    • How Standing Rock solved my 2016, First World problems

      2016 was a rough year. After Nov. 8, it became almost unlivable. In my case, a sustained state of anxiety and depression erupted occasionally into nausea and panic. Behaviors buried since the Bush era made their reappearance, and I even did some brand-new things, like physically threaten someone who called me a faggot. It was as if something — myself, I guess — was trying to figure out how to exist in this new reality.

      Before the election, I hadn’t always been at peace, but I’d settled into a homeostasis in which I felt at least possibly useful, based on the idea that action at the bottom could affect things at the top — like Obama with the Keystone XL pipeline, for example. But now what? Under power that would clearly never give a flying fuck about any progressive pressure unless it actually stopped the whole system, my psychic bedrock seemed to be crumbling.

      First World problems, of course. Most people in the world have recently known, or currently know, exactly what it’s like to live under power that’s indifferent to their lives and desires. Even many Americans know this — for example, the Lakota Sioux of Standing Rock, who are seeing the last shreds of their world threatened by the “Black Snake,” as they call the oil industry trying to build a pipeline right through their watersheds. For them and other First Nations, our coming autocracy is just a new flavor of authoritarian disregard.

    • [Older] How Many Law Enforcement Agencies Does It Take to Subdue a Peaceful Protest?

      Earlier this month, the Morton County Sheriff’s Department briefed the public via Facebook on the scope of law enforcement presence that was helping confront protesters of the Dakota Access Pipeline at Standing Rock.


      The ACLU assembled the names of law enforcement agencies below from the Morton County Sheriff’s Department and from media accounts. The Morton County Sheriff’s Department confirmed the cities and counties in North Dakota that sent officers as well as the 10 states that contributed, and where there was a news story about a particular force, we included a hyperlink. Where there was mention of the number of officers deployed, we noted that as a minimum — though more may have been deployed later.

    • Crony Capitalism Made Rick Perry Our Energy Secretary

      Rick Perry has taken quite a tumble since being governor of Texas. He was a twice-failed GOP presidential wannabe and then ended up being a rejected contestant on Dancing with the Stars, the television show for has-been celebrities.

      But now, having kissed the ring of Donald Trump, Perry is being lifted from the lowly role of twinkle-toed TV hoofer to — get this — taking charge of our government’s nuclear arsenal.

      That’s a position that usually requires some scientific knowledge and experience. But as we’re learning from Trump’s other cabinet picks, the key qualification that Trump wants his public servants to have is a commitment to serve the private interests of corporate power.

      That’s why Perry — a devoted practitioner of crony capitalism and a champion of oligarchy — has been rewarded with this position.

  • Finance

    • New York City and State Step Up Enforcement of Wage Rules For Luxury Building Workers

      New York City and state regulators have joined forces on a previously undisclosed effort to enforce wage rules for service workers at luxury apartment buildings whose owners receive taxpayer subsidies under the city’s massive 421-a tax break.

      The New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development, the City Comptroller and the New York Attorney General’s Office sent out joint letters to landlords receiving the tax break. They asked for certified statements and evidence that they had paid their workers the legally required wages or an explanation of why they were not required to do so.

      The letters went out in August to “hundreds” of properties, according to details of the enforcement effort disclosed in response to a public records request by ProPublica. Additionally, the comptroller is investigating several cases of owners not paying workers proper wages, which are set by New York City.

    • Goldman Sachs ordered to pay $120 million penalty for rate manipulation: CFTC

      Goldman Sachs has been ordered to pay a $120 million civil penalty to settle charges that it often tried to manipulate a global dollar benchmark for interest rate products over a five-year period, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission said on Wednesday.

    • Old lady denied exchanging life savings in old banknotes for new issue; could not prove innocence of money; dies

      Ethel Hülst had saved for some old-age luxury all her life, cash-in-mattress style, and wanted to exchange her old-issue-note savings for new-issue banknotes. Faced with demands of proving where her cash came from, she could not produce receipts that would have been older than a decade. The Central Bank denied her an exchange of issue, having her life savings expire into invalidity.

      The Swedish Central Bank is in the middle of an exchange of issue, changing old-issue banknotes and coins for new issue. This is something that happens regularly in most or all monetary systems – an upgrading of the banknotes and coins in circulation, supposedly done via a fair and controlled process.

      But when Ethel Hülst, 91, tried to exchange her life savings in cash of 108,450 Swedish krona ($12,000; €11,300), she was denied the new issue in exchange for her old notes. The justification was that she was unable to prove that the money had been earned in an honest way, as defined by the government, with the burden of proof on old Ethel.

    • Factory Near Carrier Sends Jobs to Mexico, But Trump Just Tweets

      Just a few miles away from the Carrier plant in Indianapolis where President-elect Donald Trump celebrated his role in stopping 730 jobs from moving to Mexico earlier this month, another corporation is shutting its factory and moving it to Mexico.

    • Why Developers of Manhattan Luxury Towers Give Millions to Upstate Candidates

      A first-of-its-kind analysis shows just how tactical the real-estate industry is about bankrolling state legislators who will protect its $1.4 billion tax break and weaken rent laws.

    • Cuomo Said He’d Return 50,000 Apartments to Rent Regulation. He Didn’t Come Close.

      A push by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo to return 50,000 apartments to the city’s stock of rent-regulated housing has fallen far short of its goal as hundreds of landlords appear to have ignored the state’s plea to comply voluntarily with laws limiting rent increases.

      The Cuomo administration’s effort stemmed from a 2009 court decision which said landlords cannot charge market-rate rent increases while collecting a popular tax break known as J-51. Instead, the state’s highest court ruled that apartments must be subject to rent stabilization — state laws limiting rent increases — as long as owners receive the benefit.

      As we reported in July, the state had ignored requests from tenant groups to enforce this landmark ruling, known as Roberts vs. Tishman Speyer. That was supposed to change in January, when Gov. Cuomo unveiled his effort to make owners comply with the Roberts ruling.

    • Trump’s Treasury Pick Excelled at Kicking Elderly People Out of Their Homes

      In 2015, OneWest Bank moved to foreclose on John Yang, an 80-year-old Korean immigrant living in Orange Park, Florida, a small suburb of Jacksonville. The bank believed he wasn’t living in his home, violating the terms of its loan. It dispatched an agent to give him legal notification of the foreclosure.

      Where did the bank find him? At the same single-story home the bank had said in court papers he did not occupy.

      Still OneWest pressed on, forcing Yang, a former Christian missionary, to seek help from legal aid attorneys. This year, during a deposition, an employee of OneWest’s servicing division was asked the obvious question: Why would the bank pursue a foreclosure that seemed so clearly unjustified by the facts?

    • The costs of ignoring China

      Dussel Peters speaks about the costs of not understanding the nexus of public sector relations within China, its environmental footprint in Mexico, and why it is fast becoming the FC Barcelona of international trade.

    • Universal basic income trials being considered in Scotland

      Scotland looks set to be the first part of the UK to pilot a basic income for every citizen, as councils in Fife and Glasgow investigate trial schemes in 2017.

      The councillor Matt Kerr has been championing the idea through the ornate halls of Glasgow City Chambers, and is frank about the challenges it poses.

    • I’ve been BANNED from giving out food to the homeless

      A homeless campaigner has been BANNED by the council from handing out food to the needy who congregate near the outdoor markets.

      Rik James has been told that he might create a mess if he helps the needy – as he has been doing for the last seven years.

      53-year-old Mr James set up Birmingham Homeless Outreach in 2010, and with a band of almost 300 volunteers, patrols the city centre every night handing out hot pies and pasties as well as clothing, to those most in need.

      Former homeless person Mr James told the Birmingham Mail: “Where’s the harm in feeding them?

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Tories ‘masking true scale’ of political cronyism with quiet rule change

      The Conservatives have been accused of an attempt to hide party cronyism after quietly switching the way that the political affiliations of people given top public-sector roles are recorded.

      Ministers have admitted it will make it impossible to compare figures released in the future with those from the final year of David Cameron’s administration, which has already been marred by a damaging cronyism row.

      Critics claimed the switch in the way affiliations are recorded will mean Tories could “hand top jobs to their mates”, just months after officials blocked part of Mr Cameron’s resignation honours list in which aides and friends were handed baubles including a peerage and knighthoods.

    • The horrors of 2016 could have been stopped – with better defenses

      There’s always a narrative. This year, it’s that 2016 saw a massive surge for the reactionary far-right. The world, we are told, has suddenly become very suspicious of itself: millions gnaw their way down into the soil to blot out everything around them.

      Reaction and nativism are on the rise everywhere. There was Brexit, there was Trump. Kalashnikov-brandishing Salafists left bodies and wreckage across the Mediterranean from Syria to the Côte d’Azur. There were the petty micro-tyrannies of French mayors ordering Muslim women to strip off at the beach. Then there were the vaster, more sprawling macro-tyrannies, as nominally democratic systems from Turkey to the Philippines started to crumble under the stomping weight of strong men.

      All this is true, but it’s not the complete picture. This is not, entirely, a surge for the right wing. What we saw in 2016 were the consequences of a political order that’s done everything it can to exclude the left.

    • Donald Trump: America’s Berlusconi (or Thaksin, or Hariri, or…)

      Tycoons offer politics-as-business as an alternative to politics-as-usual.

      Tycoons run as insurgents against faltering political systems and old economic oligarchies. The implosion of Italy’s ruling Christian Democrat party in the early 1990s “Clean Hands” anti-corruption campaign opened the gates for Berlusconi. Lebanon’s civil war cleared the way for Hariri. Thaksin entered politics in the wake of the 1997 Asian financial crisis. The aftershocks of the 2008 financial crisis played a similar role for Trump. He channelled the discontent of America’s white middle class outside the major coastal metropolitan areas by mixing economic nationalism with xenophobia, racism, sexism, and Islamophobia.

      Tycoons offer politics-as-business as an alternative to politics-as-usual. They run family businesses where top-down decisions are taken in a tight-knit circle of advisors. Berlusconi put a school friend at the head of his media holding company while Hariri made a school friend head of one of his banks and later finance minister. They both relied on former employees or associates to fill positions of state. Trump is also filling key government posts with people who stayed loyal even when his campaign foundered, and his son-in-law Jared Kushner appears set to be a key advisor. Yet tycoons’ background in business does not equip them to deal either with the bureaucratic Leviathan that is the modern state, nor with the give-and-take of democratic politics.

    • Trump and Revenge of the ‘Realists’

      The question of Henry Kissinger’s possible designation as a foreign policy adviser to President Donald Trump and specifically as intermediary between Trump and Vladimir Putin for normalization of relations arose after the 93-year-old Kissinger gave a series of interviews to the German newspaper Bild and other media in the days before Christmas.

      In the less serious media outlets, we heard about Kissinger’s special rapport with Putin with whom, we are told, he has met often. These same gossips tell us that in Moscow Kissinger’s expertise and experience are held in high regard. All of these glib statements are deeply flawed, however. They are more appropriate to society pages or People magazine than to serious discussion of where former Secretary of State Kissinger can and should fit into the evolving foreign policy team that President-elect Trump is assembling, and to what that foreign policy should reasonably resemble.

      The superficial comments also ignore the record of Henry Kissinger’s policy recommendations on Russia in the decades since the end of the Cold War, which place him squarely among those responsible for getting us into the confrontation with Russia that reached its climax under Barack Obama.

    • Fascism, SB 1070 and the Arizonafication of the US

      By signing Kris Kobach to his transition team, President-elect Donald Trump sent a message to the US. An architect of the notorious “papers please” bill, Arizona’s SB 1070, Kobach stands to prepare the way for Trump’s promise to deport 3 million migrants in his first year in office. While SB 1070-like bills were passed in other states around the US, it would likely have to be universalized through congressional legislation for such an increase of deportations to occur.

      SB 1070 effectively required police to inquire into legal residency when noticing possible indicators of foreign citizenship, such as Mexican flags, skin color and foreign accents. It was known as the “papers please” bill because its hard line on immigration seemed comparable to many a fascist policy. This comparison was not exactly off target.

      Kobach himself is tied to the white nationalist Tanton network, which runs a whole system of groups that fund and lobby in favor of anti-immigration and population control efforts. It was through his work with this network and the “model legislation” group, the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), that SB 1070 was produced. Then-president of the Arizona State Senate Russell Pearce sat on ALEC’s board, and sponsored SB 1070 through the Arizona legislature in 2010.

    • A Resolution for 2017: Keep Reminding Trump That He Has No Mandate

      When Paul Ryan and top congressional Republicans gathered on the evening of January 20, 2009, to plot a strategy of absolute and unrelenting opposition to Barack Obama presidency, and to the House and Senate Democrats who had received a mandate from the American people to work with the enormously popular president-elect, California Congressman Kevin McCarthy told the group: “If you act like you’re the minority, you’re going to stay in the minority. We’ve gotta challenge them on every single bill and challenge them on every single campaign.”

      That determination to resist the Obama agenda offended Democrats and thrilled Republicans. But, at the most fundamental level, it was nothing more than Politics 101. An opposition party exists to oppose the party in power. Ryan and his fellow partisans understood this in 2009.

      Yet, now, Ryan and the Republicans are whining about the failure of Democrats to play the role of a “loyal opposition” that willingly compromises and cooperates with President-elect Donald Trump and the wrecking crew the incoming administration has assembled to destroy essential programs – beginning with Medicaid – while redistributing wealth to the billionaire class that is its core constituency.

    • Media Fell for Nazi-Manufactured ‘White Genocide’ Scandal

      “Twitter controversy” broke out on Christmas Day after leftist Drexel University professor George Ciccariello-Maher tweeted out, “All I Want for Christmas Is White Genocide” to his 11,000 followers. The tweet–since deleted–was a play on the white supremacist myth of a “White Genocide,” a canard that whites are under threat from interracial dating and diversity.

      Online Nazis (sometimes euphemistically referred to by their prefered marketing descriptor, the “alt-right”) quickly pounced. The faux Twitter outrage was further stoked by the far-right online tabloid Breitbart (12/25/16), which ran the story without any of the essential context (though it took the opportunity to denounce Venezuela’s “communist government,” for some reason). Before one could catch up to the substance of the “controversy,” it was asserted to be a controversy as such.

    • Breitbart Is Leading a Smear Campaign Against a Scholar for Mocking White Supremacy, and His University Isn’t Defending Him

      Breitbart Media initiated a smear campaign against a radical scholar of international politics and decolonization for a satirical tweet he published December 24 mocking white supremacists.

      Instead of coming to the aid of George Ciccariello-Maher, who has received death threats, Drexel University issued a statement on Christmas condemning the scholar’s tweet. The official reaction spurred concerns that the post-election climate has opened political space for far-right attacks on leftist and anti-racist academics.

      On December 24, Ciccariello-Maher, an associate professor at Philadelphia-based Drexel, published a tweet stating, “all I want for Christmas is white genocide.” He then tweeted, “To clarify: when the whites were massacred during the Haitian revolution, that was a good thing indeed.” Ciccariello-Maher later deleted the first tweet and has since secured his account by making it private.

      In a public statement, Ciccariello-Maher explained the meaning of the tweets. “On Christmas Eve, I sent a satirical tweet about an imaginary concept, ‘white genocide,’” he said. “For those who haven’t bothered to do their research, ‘white genocide’ is an idea invented by white supremacists and used to denounce everything from interracial relationships to multicultural policies (and most recently, against a tweet by State Farm Insurance). It is a figment of the racist imagination, it should be mocked, and I’m glad to have mocked it.”

    • My Wishes for Obama’s Parting Shots

      President-elect Donald Trump is accusing President Obama of putting up “roadblocks” to a smooth transition.

      In reality, I think President Obama has been too cooperative with Trump.

    • Militant Hope in the Age of the Politics of the Disconnect

      The United States stands at the endpoint of a long series of attacks on democracy, and the choices faced by the American public today point to the divide between those who are committed to democracy and those who are not. Debates over whether Donald Trump was a fascist or Hillary Clinton was a right-wing warmonger and tool of Wall Street were a tactical diversion. The real questions that should have been debated include: What measures could have been taken to prevent the United States from sliding further into a distinctive form of authoritarianism? And what could have been done to imagine a mode of civic courage and militant hope needed to enable the promise of a radical democracy? Such questions take on a significant urgency in light of the election of Donald Trump to the presidency.


      Large segments of the American public, especially minorities of class and color, have been written out of politics over what they view as a failed state and the inability of the basic machinery of government to serve their interests. As market mentalities and moralities tighten their grip on all aspects of society, democratic institutions and public spheres are being downsized, if not altogether disappearing. As these institutions vanish—from public schools to health care centers– there is also a serious erosion of the discourses of community, justice, equality, public values, and the common good. This grim reality has been called a “failed sociality”– a failure in the power of the civic imagination, political will, and open democracy. As the consolidation of power by the corporate and financial elite empties politics of any substance, the political realm merges elements of Monty Python, Kafka, and Aldus Huxley. With the election of Donald Trump, the savagery of neoliberalism has been intensified with the emergence at the highest levels of power of a toxic mix of anti-intellectualism, religious fundamentalism, nativism, and a renewed notion of American exceptionalism. Mainstream politics is now dominated by hard-right extremists who have brought to the center of politics a shameful white supremacist ideology, poisonous xenophobic ideas, and the blunt, malicious tenets and practices of Islamophobia.

    • Elegy for a Year of Death in America

      I don’t want to dwell too much on the perhaps-terminal decline of American democracy, which this publication and everyone else in the media has been worrying over for the last year and a half, like a dog with an old mutton bone. It’s not as if people who supported the incoming president are incapable of grief and sorrow (although I suspect they are underrepresented in the Bowie and Prince fanbases). But for many of us the inexplicable political events of 2016, which remain difficult to believe, even now that they have happened, are at once the atmosphere, the subtext and the inner meaning of all this death. I was not an especially avid supporter of Hillary Clinton, but for many American women (and men) the perverse tale of how she was denied the presidency yet again in her final campaign is another of this year’s great losses.

    • 6 Compelling Executive Actions Obama Has Taken That Are Targeted by Trump

      For years, progressives have wrung their hands over President Obama’s reluctance to more aggressively use executive authority to overcome congressional gridlock—even as Republicans sued and blocked his actions on immigration and climate change. But as the incoming Trump administration threatens to reverse nearly everything Obama has done, it’s worth recalling his priorities.

      President Obama, notably, is not going quietly into the night. Even as Trump called this week for vetoing a U.N. resolution condemning Israeli settlements, the White House abstained on that vote on Friday—implicitly criticizing Israel. A day earlier, the Obama administration announced it was dismantling a federal registry of Muslims visiting from “high-risk” countries that was created after the 9/11 attacks; a registry Trump would have to reinstate. Days before that, the White House banned new oil and gas drilling in the Arctic and mid-Atlantic, citing a 1953 law the administration said could not be undone by Trump.

    • Will Trump Make 1984 Look Like a Nursery Tale?

      Can you doubt that we’re in a dystopian age, even if we’re still four weeks from Donald Trump entering the Oval Office? Never in our lifetimes have we experienced such vivid previews of what unfettered capitalism is likely to mean in an ever more unequal country, now that its version of 1% politics has elevated to the pinnacle of power a bizarre billionaire and his “basket of deplorables.” I’m referring, of course, not to his followers but to his picks for the highest posts in the land. These include a series of generals ready to lead us into a new set of crusades and a crew of billionaires and multimillionaires prepared to make America theirs again.

      It’s already a stunningly depressing moment — and it hasn’t even begun. At the very least, it calls upon the rest of us to rise to the occasion. That means mustering a dystopian imagination that matches the era to come.

      I have no doubt that you’re as capable as I am of creating bleak scenarios for the future of this country (not to speak of the planet). But just to get the ball rolling on the eve of the holidays, let me offer you a couple of my own dystopian fantasies, focused on the potential actions of President Donald Trump.

    • Mike Pence’s Neighbors Show Their Disgust with Hostile Lawn Signs

      Gearing up to become VP, Mike Pence rented a house in Chevy Chase, Maryland, just north of Washington, D.C. Little did he know, he would be moving into enemy territory, as less than 10 percent of the precinct voted for him and the one we don’t speak of to run the country, according to the DCist. To make it extremely clear how unwanted he is, Pence’s new neighbors put up “this neighborhood trusts women” signs everywhere. Welcome to the hood, Mikey!

      The signs came from NARAL Pro-Choice America, which vehemently opposes the VP-elect obsessed with defunding Planned Parenthood. In an Instagram post showing off the signs, the group wrote, “We canvassed Mike Pence’s new neighborhood in NW DC—and wouldn’t you know it, most of his neighbors #TrustWomen!”

  • Censorship/Free Speech

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Secure Messaging Takes Some Steps Forward, Some Steps Back: 2016 In Review

      This year has been full of developments in messaging platforms that employ encryption to protect users. 2016 saw an increase in the level of security for some major messaging services, bringing end-to-end encryption to over a billion people. Unfortunately, we’ve also seen major platforms making poor decisions for users and potentially undermining the strong cryptography built into their apps.

    • Facebook Doesn’t Tell Users Everything It Really Knows About Them

      Facebook has long let users see all sorts of things the site knows about them, like whether they enjoy soccer, have recently moved, or like Melania Trump.

      But the tech giant gives users little indication that it buys far more sensitive data about them, including their income, the types of restaurants they frequent and even how many credit cards are in their wallets.

      Since September, ProPublica has been encouraging Facebook users to share the categories of interest that the site has assigned to them. Users showed us everything from “Pretending to Text in Awkward Situations” to “Breastfeeding in Public.” In total, we collected more than 52,000 unique attributes that Facebook has used to classify users.

    • Does What Happened to This Journalist at the US-Canada Border Herald a Darker Trend?

      The recent abusive border search of a Canadian photojournalist should serve as a warning to everyone concerned about press freedom these days.

      Ed Ou is a renowned photographer and TED senior fellow who has traveled to the United States many times to do work for The New York Times, Time magazine, and other media outlets. Last month, Ed was traveling from Canada to the U.S. to report on the protests against the Dakota Access pipeline in Standing Rock, North Dakota, when he was taken aside for additional inspection.

    • Watch out! Spies at GCHQ can now spy on your phone as the Snooper’s Charter comes into force today

      Official bodies including GCHQ will now be able to access your phones and check your browsing history after the Snoopers’ Charter came into force at midnight.

      While critics have cited it as an attack on privacy, the Government believes the charter is essential for combating terrorism and organised crime.

    • Understanding the Snooper’s Charter

      Roughly a year ago then home secretary Theresa May presented the ‚Investigative Powers Bill‘ or the so-called Snooper’s Charter. Law enforcement and intelligence agencies will enjoy new powers like bulk hacking while having reinforced their existing rights of mass surveillance. At the same time, a proper form of oversight is all but missing. Other countries such as China have even defended their own terrorism bills pointing at this very piece of legislation.

    • Understanding the Snooper’s Charter

      The ‚Investigative Powers Bill‘ is about to become law in the UK. Its provisions, from looking up Internet connection records without a warrant to forcing communication service providers to assist with interception and decryption of data, have caused an outcry in the Western world. But how and why did British politics get here? And, most importantly of all: How could we fight back?

    • lecture: Talking Behind Your Back

      This ecosystem remained almost unknown to the general public until recently, when a newly-founded company faced the nemesis of the security community and the regulators (e.g., the Federal Trade Commission) for its controversial tracking techniques. However, there are many more “traditional players” using ultrasound tracking techniques for various purposes, raising a number of levels of security and privacy issues with different security and privacy models.

    • Talking Behind Your Back

      In the last two years, the marketing industry started to show a fast increasing interest in technologies for user cross-device tracking, proximity tracking, and their derivative monetization schemes. To meet these demands, a new ultrasound-based technology has recently emerged and is already utilized in a number of different real-world applications. Ultrasound tracking comes with a number of desirable features (e.g., easy to deploy, inaudible to humans), but alarmingly until now no comprehensive security analysis of the technology has been conducted. In this talk, we will publish the results of our security analysis of the ultrasound tracking ecosystem, and demonstrate the practical security and privacy risks that arise with its adoption. Subsequently, we will introduce some immediately deployable defense mechanisms for practitioners, researchers, and everyday users. Finally, we will initiate the discussion for the standardization of ultrasound beacons, and outline our proposed OS-level API that enables both secure and effortless deployment for ultrasound-enabled applications.

    • Investigatory Powers Act goes into force, putting UK citizens under intense new spying regime

      The UK’s Investigatory Powers Act is now in effect, placing Britain under some of the widest-ranging spying powers ever seen.

      The law – passed last month but going into effect on 30 December – is intended as an update to Britain’s often unwieldy surveillance legislation. But it also includes a large set of new powers – including the ability to collect the browsing records of everyone in the country and have them read by authorities as diverse as the Food Standards Agency and the Department for Work and Pensions.

      Most of the central parts of the act are now in force. That includes new powers to gather and retain data on citizens, and new ways to force technology companies and others to hand over the data that they have about people to intelligence agencies.

    • FBI/DHS Joint Analysis Report: A Fatally Flawed Effort

      The FBI/DHS Joint Analysis Report (JAR) “Grizzly Steppe” was released yesterday as part of the White House’s response to alleged Russian government interference in the 2016 election process. It adds nothing to the call for evidence that the Russian government was responsible for hacking the DNC, the DCCC, the email accounts of Democratic party officials, or for delivering the content of those hacks to Wikileaks.

      It merely listed every threat group ever reported on by a commercial cybersecurity company that is suspected of being Russian-made and lumped them under the heading of Russian Intelligence Services (RIS) without providing any supporting evidence that such a connection exists.

    • Hacker Lexicon: What Is the Attribution Problem?

      After months of news about Russian meddling in this year’s US presidential election you’re probably sick of speculation and ready for answers: What exactly did Russia do and why? It sounds simple enough, but a fundamental concept in cybersecurity and digital forensics is the fact that it is sometimes extremely difficult after a cyberattack to definitively name a perpetrator. Hackers have a lot of technical tools at their disposal to cover their tracks. And even when analysts figure out which computer a hacker used, going from there to who used it is very difficult. This is known as the attribution problem.


      When the Obama administration placed blame for the 2014 Sony Pictures hack on North Korea, for example, much of the security community agreed with the consensus, but there was also some prominent skepticism. Part of this was because Obama did not disclose that the US had the direct ability to spy on North Korean internet activity before and during the attack on Sony. These details were later reported by the New York Times. But inconsistent access to full evidence can make it difficult for individuals and civilian security firms to vet government attributions.

    • No real proof in ‘Russian hacking’ report, as it lacks crucial details – ex-NSA tech director to RT

      The FBI report supposedly bursting with evidence that Russian hackers breached US servers contains no real proof, computer experts say – among them former NSA technical director and whistleblower William Edward Binney.

      The report was meant to provide the American public with much-delayed proof that Russia had hacked the DNC to influence the US election. While it failed to do this, it did serve as the Obama administration’s justification for expelling 35 Russian diplomats and their families from the United States.

    • No, Russia didn’t hack Vermont’s power grid

      Here’s what really happened: in the aftermath of the US government’s statements about Russian state-implicated hacking of the US election, government departments across the country audited their systems, looking for instances of the malware that was implicated in the DNC hack. One laptop at the Vermont utility — not connected to the grid — was found to have been infected by this malware, which is available for purchase by anyone through the criminal, underground marketplaces for hacking tools.

    • Details Still Lacking on Russian ‘Hack’

      Amid more promises of real evidence to come, the Obama administration released a report that again failed to demonstrate that there is any proof behind U.S. allegations that Russia both hacked into Democratic emails and distributed them via WikiLeaks to the American people.

      The New York Times, which has been busy flogging the latest reasons to hate Russia and its President Vladimir Putin, asserted, “The F.B.I. and Department of Homeland Security released a report on Thursday detailing the ways that Russia acted to influence the American election through cyberespionage.”

    • Experts Aren’t Convinced by FBI and Homeland Security Report on Alleged Russian Hacking

      The U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the FBI released a summary of their inquiry into the alleged hacking of Democratic Party servers during the 2016 elections by groups working at the behest of the Russian government.

      Veteran intelligence analyst and NSA whistleblower William Binney, who has criticized as inadequate the CIA’s public case arguing Russian responsibility for the hacking, does not find the new report convincing.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • New Year’s Message: No One Said It Would Be Easy…

      Since 2008, my final post of the year tends to be a post where I take a step back and reflect on how the year went. It started, back in 2008, as a response to multiple people asking me why I always seemed so optimistic about the future, despite writing all sorts of articles highlighting all sorts of bad behavior and threats to innovation, free speech and civil liberties. And my argument, in short, has always been that I strongly believe in the forward march of progress and innovation — and that any anger you see coming through in my writing comes from being annoyed and frustrated at people and events that slow it down. That is, my anger is at the pace of change, but my optimism is at the inevitability of change.

    • “Code of Silence” Revisited: An Update on the Watts Investigation

      On October 6, The Intercept published “Code of Silence,” a four-part investigation of a far-reaching criminal enterprise within the Chicago Police Department. For more than a decade, a team of gang tactical officers led by Sgt. Ronald Watts were major players in the drug trade radiating out from public housing developments on Chicago’s South Side. In exchange for a “tax,” Watts and his gang protected drug dealers from interference by law enforcement, targeted their competition, and fed the drugs they seized to dealers aligned with them. In pursuit of their criminal ends, they routinely framed those who did not cooperate by planting drugs on them and are rumored to have had a hand in the murders of two drug dealers who defied them.

      Over the course of Watts’s career, he and his team were investigated by multiple agencies — CPD’s Internal Affairs, the FBI, the Drug Enforcement Agency, and the States Attorney’s Office. For several years, two Chicago police officers, Shannon Spalding and Danny Echeverria, participated in a joint FBI-Internal Affairs investigation, which they claim was ultimately derailed by senior CPD officials. Among other things, they allege that deputy superintendent Ernest Brown, long rumored to be an ally and protector of Watts, made it known within the department that they were engaged in an internal investigation, prompting other CPD brass to order officers under their commands to retaliate against them as “Internal Affairs rats.”

    • Trump’s Homeland Security Pick Falsely Claimed “Narcoterrorism” Has Killed 500,000 Americans

      For many parts of the world, it is hard to predict which Donald Trump will enter the White House on January 20. Will it be the Donald Trump who promised to decimate ISIS in 100 days, or the Donald Trump who promised to avoid an Iraq-like quagmire? Will it be the Donald Trump who campaigned on building up a decrepit U.S. military, or the Donald Trump who said he would slash military spending to balance the budget? Will it be a Donald Trump who is eager to strong-arm China at the negotiating table, or the Donald Trump who promised to discard the Trans-Pacific trade deal designed to increase American leverage over the region?

      While Trump continues to regularly contradict his own supposed views on U.S. foreign policy, his approach to the U.S. southern border is clear. He talked a lot about building a wall while running for president. Since winning, he’s repeatedly emphasized the seriousness of his promise.

    • Bias in Criminal Risk Scores Is Mathematically Inevitable, Researchers Say

      The racial bias that ProPublica found in a formula used by courts and parole boards to forecast future criminal behavior arises inevitably from the test’s design, according to new research.

      The findings were described in scholarly papers published or circulated over the past several months. Taken together, they represent the most far-reaching critique to date of the fairness of algorithms that seek to provide an objective measure of the likelihood a defendant will commit further crimes.

      Increasingly, criminal justice officials are using similar risk prediction equations to inform their decisions about bail, sentencing and early release.

      The researchers found that the formula, and others like it, have been written in a way that guarantees black defendants will be inaccurately identified as future criminals more often than their white counterparts.

    • [Older] The incarceration of Japanese Americans in World War II does not provide a legal cover for a Muslim registry

      Carl Higbie, a prominent supporter of Donald Trump, said recently that the mass internment of Japanese Americans during World War II was a “precedent” for the president-elect’s plans to create a registry for immigrants from Muslim countries. He said the plan would be legal, that it would “hold constitutional muster.”

      That claim betrays a misreading of history. It rests on a wartime Supreme Court decision that was based on falsehoods and suppressed evidence, a decision that is regarded as a stain on American jurisprudence.

    • North Carolina is no longer classified as a democracy

      In 2005, in the midst of a career of traveling around the world to help set up elections in some of the most challenging places on earth – Afghanistan, Burma, Egypt, Lebanon, South Africa, Sudan and Yemen, among others – my Danish colleague, Jorgen Elklit, and I designed the first comprehensive method for evaluating the quality of elections around the world. Our system measured 50 moving parts of an election process and covered everything from the legal framework to the polling day and counting of ballots.

      In 2012 Elklit and I worked with Pippa Norris of Harvard University, who used the system as the cornerstone of the Electoral Integrity Project. Since then the EIP has measured 213 elections in 153 countries and is widely agreed to be the most accurate method for evaluating how free and fair and democratic elections are across time and place.

    • Our Fight to Rein In the CFAA: 2016 in Review

      Laws enacted out of fear, not facts, are a recipe for disaster. That’s what happened with the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA)—the federal statute that makes it illegal to break into computer systems to access or alter information. The law’s notoriously vague language has confused courts, chilled security research, and given overzealous prosecutors broad discretion to bring criminal charges for behavior that in no way qualifies as breaking into a computer. And it’s out of touch with how we use computers today. We were hard at work in 2016 pushing courts to limit the CFAA to what Congress intended and advocating for reform that would rein the law back in. We’ve seen some minor victories as well as a few setbacks, but we anticipate a big fight next year against efforts to expand the law without correcting its many problems. We stand ready.

      The CFAA was passed back in 1986—in the very early years of the Internet, long before the vast majority of people were even using email—after a House of Representatives report cited WarGames, a 1983 techno thriller staring Matthew Broderick and Ally Sheedy, as a “realistic representation of the automatic dialing and access capabilities of the personal computer.” And because Congress was trying to solve a problem it didn’t fully understand, it gave us a law with incredibly vague language. The CFAA makes it illegal to intentionally access a “protected computer”—which includes any computer connected to the Internet—“without authorization” or in excess of authorization. But it doesn’t tell us what “without authorization” means. This language is so vague that, if not applied narrowly, it could criminalize routine online behavior like checking the weather while at work or using a family member’s Netflix password.

    • NC Republicans’ “Power Grab” Hits Last-Minute Roadblock

      A North Carolina judge on Friday put a temporary block on a Republican-backed law that would have limited the power of Democratic Governor-elect Roy Cooper.

      Cooper, set to take his oath just minutes into the new year, filed suit on Friday to block the law, which was passed two weeks ago as part of “unprecedented power grabs” by Republican lawmakers.

      It was set to take effect Sunday, and “amounts to a sweeping redesign of the panel that administers and regulates elections in a state that has been steeping in political conflict,” the New York Times writes.

    • Report: After Legislative Coup, North Carolina Can No Longer Be Considered a Democracy

      In North Carolina, a new report finds the state’s democratic institutions are so flawed, the state should no longer be considered a functioning democracy. The report by the Electoral Integrity Project, or EIP, points to extreme gerrymandering, voter suppression of communities of color and the recent stripping of power of incoming Democratic Governor Roy Cooper by Republicans. EIP gave North Carolina an electoral integrity score of 58 out of 100 points—similar to the scores of Cuba, Sierra Leone and Indonesia. We speak to Andrew Reynolds, professor of political science at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He is one of the founders of the Electoral Integrity Project.

    • Digital rights in 2016

      The Digital Economy Bill, which is currently going through parliament, will compel porn sites to verify that their users are over 18. The proposals, which don’t include privacy protections, are largely unworkable because foreign porn sites could refuse to comply. Undeterred, the Government has now proposed to force ISPs to block sites that don’t apply age verification – potentially blocking thousands of legal websites in the UK. And just last week, they confirmed that Twitter accounts that link to blocked websites could also be blocked.

      ORG is working to get the Government to amend the Digital Economy Bill so that privacy rights are protected. Over 18,000 people have already signed our petition against web blocking and this is going to be one of our big fights in 2017.

    • IBM Employees Launch Petition Protesting Cooperation with Donald Trump

      IBM employees are taking a public stand following a personal pitch to Donald Trump from CEO Ginni Rometty and the company’s initial refusal to rule out participating in the creation of a national Muslim registry.

      In November, Rometty wrote Trump directly, congratulating him on his electoral victory and detailing various services the company could sell his administration. The letter was published on an internal IBM blog along with a personal note from Rometty to her enormous global staff. “As IBMers, we believe that innovation improves the human condition. … We support, tolerance, diversity, the development of expertise, and the open exchange of ideas,” she wrote in the context of lending material support to a man who won the election by rejecting all of those values. Employee comments were a mix of support and horror. Now, some of those who were horrified are going public, denouncing Rometty’s letter and asserting “our right to refuse participation in any U.S. government contracts that violate constitutionally protected civil liberties.”

    • Las Vegas prosecutors want help in identifying convictions won with faulty drug tests

      The Clark County district attorney’s office established a conviction review unit in October. In what appears to be one of its first efforts, the unit has been seeking information about problematic convictions resulting from one of the office’s routine practices: accepting guilty pleas in drug cases that rely largely on the results of field tests done by police that can be unreliable.

      Daniel Silverstein, head of the newly formed unit, in November asked a statewide organization of defense lawyers for any information they had on cases that might have involved inaccurate field tests, and thus resulted in potentially wrongful convictions.

      Police place suspicious material into a pouch of chemicals that are supposed to change color to indicate the possible presence of illegal drugs. The $2 tests are used by police departments nationwide, and over nearly 30 years in Clark County they have helped produce tens of thousands of drug convictions for the possession or sale of cocaine, methamphetamine and marijuana. In the vast majority of those cases, the field test results are never confirmed in a formal crime lab.

    • António Guterres: The Ninth Man

      How will UN Secretary-General António Guterres demonstrate the UN’s intention to resist the rising tide of misogyny in the US and the global wave of misogynistic nationalism?

    • Ringing in the New Year with Resistance: 2016 in Review

      Since the Electronic Frontier Alliance launched this spring, dozens of grassroots groups across the country have found common cause. United by digital rights principles including freedom of expression, access to knowledge, and privacy, they independently pursue a vast array of activities from public education and policy advocacy to hackathons and projects creating digital infrastructure.

      In 17 states plus the District of Columbia, dozens of local groups are bringing together grassroots digital rights activists to raise awareness, spread information, share skills, and push their universities, cities, and states to reconsider their policies on issues from domestic surveillance to patent reform.

      Wherever local activists have joined the Alliance, they have successfully brought together neighbors to learn from each other and begin the long and difficult process of shifting policy, law, and culture. In the following half dozen locations, they have gone even further by making palpable progress towards those goals.

    • Campaign to free Arash Sadeghi

      Iranian civil society activists Arash Sadeghi and Golrokh Ebrahimi-Iraee are victims of the regime’s emboldened judiciary.

    • Theresa May Seeks to Pull UK from European Convention on Human Rights

      British Prime Minister Theresa May will campaign to withdraw the United Kingdom from the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) in 2020, according to new reports.

      May is expected to make the withdrawal a central mandate of her campaign to be formally voted into office in 2020. She became the unelected leader of the U.K. after former Prime Minister David Cameron stepped down in July following the Brexit referendum.

      The new conservative government is also separately seeking to replace its current Human Rights Act—the U.K.’s implementation of the ECHR—with a new set of rules which critics say actually cracks down on free speech and peaceful protest.

    • Noam Chomsky’s Bold Request Before President Obama Leaves Office (Video)

      Donald Trump has promised to immediately deport 2-3 million undocumented immigrants. Meanwhile the White House has shut down House Democrats’ request for Obama to pardon DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival) recipients through his executive power.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • p2p dreams

      In one of the good parts of the very mixed bag that is “Lo and Behold: Reveries of the Connected World”, Werner Herzog asks his interviewees what the Internet might dream of, if it could dream.

      The best answer he gets is along the lines of: The Internet of before dreamed a dream of the World Wide Web. It dreamed some nodes were servers, and some were clients. And that dream became current reality, because that’s the essence of the Internet.

      Three years ago, it seemed like perhaps another dream was developing post-Snowden, of dissolving the distinction between clients and servers, connecting peer-to-peer using addresses that are also cryptographic public keys, so authentication and encryption and authorization are built in.

      Telehash is one hopeful attempt at this, others include snow, cjdns, i2p, etc. So far, none of them seem to have developed into a widely used network, although any of them still might get there. There are a lot of technical challenges due to the current Internet dream/nightmare, where the peers on the edges have multiple barriers to connecting to other peers

    • Shining a Spotlight on Shadow Regulation of the Internet: 2016 in Review

      Over the past few years, Internet users have found their voice in the halls of power. Through legal challenges, speaking to legislators, and effective online organizing, we’ve beat back many attempts to create mechanisms of censorship and strip speakers of their privacy. We defeated the SOPA/PIPA Internet blacklist bills, and the ACTA and TPP agreements, and stood up for net neutrality as a free speech principle. But these victories had a side effect: corporate and government interests who seek to edit the Internet and regulate others’ speech have turned to private agreements. These agreements can create restrictions that are as effective as any law, but without the need for approval by a court or parliament. Sometimes they are even initiated by government officials, who offer companies the Hobson’s choice of coming up with a “voluntary” solution or submitting to government regulation.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Trademarks

      • Jaguar Land Rover DEFEND[ER]s its trade mark

        Bombardier argued that Jaguar Land Rover had no intention to use the term DEFENDER in relation to any other land vehicle, motor vehicle etc than the iconic Defender series which they characterised as a single car product whose essential features have remained the same since 1948 and consequently the EU application was made in bad faith. This led the court to an interesting consideration of whether an EU trade mark is liable to be declared invalid for bad faith where an applicant had no intention of using it for the full specification at the time of registration.

    • Copyrights

      • Happy Public Domain Day!

        In many jurisdictions, copyright works (with some exceptions) expire after 70 years from the end of the calendar year in which the creator died. This means that from 1 January 2017 many works will enter the public domain. This blog celebrates these creators. It is by no means comprehensive so please do add any omissions to the comments section.

      • Pirate Bay Will Continue to ‘Stick it to The Man’ in 2017

        The Pirate Bay, widely considered as the bastion of piracy, plans to keep growing in 2017. TorrentFreak spoke with one of its crew members who says the site will continue to help unselfish file-sharers stick it to the man while protesting copyright exploitation.

      • Fighting for Fair Use and Safer Harbors: 2016 in Review

        After 9 years of battling it out in the lower courts, Stephanie Lenz, represented by EFF, has taken her fight for Internet fair use to the United States Supreme Court. In August, Lenz filed a petition asking the Court to overturn a part of the 2015 ruling from the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit that undermines the Digital Millennium Copyright Act’s safeguards for users.

        In 2007, Lenz first filed the “Dancing Baby” lawsuit after her YouTube video was taken down as the result of a bogus copyright infringement notice from Universal Music. Lenz’s video was a 29 second recording of her toddler dancing in her kitchen while Prince’s “Let’s Go Crazy” played, barely audible, in the background. Lenz argued that Universal’s takedown notice was precisely the kind of abuse that the DMCA’s safeguards are designed to prevent.

        In 2015, the Ninth Circuit issued an important decision holding that copyright holders must consider whether alleged infringement is a fair use before sending a takedown notice. But the court also applied an entirely subjective standard that, we fear, will be read to allow rights holders to target content “based on nothing more than an unreasonable hunch, or subjective criteria they simply made up[.]” We don’t think this is what Congress intended, and Lenz has asked the Supreme Court to protect users’ fair use rights and overrule this part of the decision.


Links 31/12/2016: Firefox 52 Improves Privacy, Tizen Comes to Middle East

Posted in News Roundup at 8:59 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish



  • Server

    • 10 Linux System Administrators New Year’s Resolutions (2017)

      As we prepare to bid 2016 a more than deserved farewell, it is a time to make our New Year’s resolutions. Regardless of your experience level as a Linux system administrator, we think it is worthy and well to set goals for growth for the next 12 months.

      In case you are out of ideas, in this post we will share 10 simple professional resolutions that you may want to consider for 2017.

    • A Look Back at 8 IBM Strategic Acquisitions in 2016

      Big Blue expanded its analytics, disaster recovery and security capabilities in 2016 through a series of strategic acquisitions.

  • Kernel Space

    • The Development Pace Of Systemd Fell Sharply This Year

      With systemd having the most commits ever in 2015 for this project, I was curious to see how the statistics for 2016 compared… To some surprise, the number of commits to systemd fell sharply and the code churn is also down to a point not seen in a few years.

      In 2015 there were 5,528 commits to systemd while this year there have been 3,768 commits — a low not seen since 2012 when there were 2554 commits. But then when it comes to new code, this year were 156,491 added (and 94,288 lines removed), a low since 2011. Last year in comparison there were more than double that for lines added: 333k vs. 156k, though last year they also removed a lot of code too.

    • Linux Reboot System call and Linus’ Birthday

      Today (28-Dec) is Linus Torvald, Linux creator’s birthday and I wanted to share with you an easter egg hidden in the Linux reboot() system call.

    • Benchmarks

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

      • Season of KDE

        December, is near to its end and 2017 is finally coming. The last month was hectic though. I had my semester exams in the first half of the month and I didn’t get much time in between to concentrate on my project. But the later half was quite productive. Half time has already passed by and this month was important as I made couple of changes to my UI and code which were important and required for long-term benefits. Another important news for this month is that GCompris had its 0.70 version release this month and we have finally replaced the GTK+ version in Windows with the Qt version. :smile:

      • Whew, what a year!

        This is not the place to present an opinion on all the other things that have happened in 2016, but when it comes to Krita, 2016 was perhaps the most intense year ever for the project. Let’s step back for a moment and do a bit of review!

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK

      • Cinnamon Desktop – The Best Desktop Environment For New Linux User

        Cinnamon is a DE(Desktop Environment). DE is a collection of software, which collectively provide you a seamless Desktop experience. They are the reason, normal people who have no knowledge about the internal working of computer are able to use computers for a wide variety of purposes. Cinnamon is one such collection which is different. Different how? We will see, But for now, let’s just say that Cinnamon played a decisive role in making Linux mint, the most popular distro in the Linux world.

  • Distributions

    • The 6 Linux Distros We’re Most Excited For in 2017

      When I decided to write a list of Linux distributions 2017 will see grow and improve, I didn’t realise what a task I’d set!

      For while our name has Ubuntu in it, Ubuntu is not the only Linux distro we like to keep an eye on.

      Over the past few weeks we’ve been asking you to tell us which Linux distributions you are excited by, and the ones you think/hope will do well in 2017.

      Now it’s our turn.

    • Solus Announces First Release Of Brisk Menu

      We are happy to announce the first release of Brisk Menu, our implementation of a clean, efficient, and modern menu for the MATE Desktop. Brisk Menu 0.1.0 enables quick launching of applications, as well as access to session controls (such as logout, suspend, hibernate) and the system’s Control Center.

    • Distro Excitement 2017, Image Viewers, LibO Calendar

      Today in Linux news The Document Foundation offered a 2017 wall calendar to print off and hang on your wall. Elsewhere, OMG!Ubuntu! shared their picks for distros to watch in 2017 and Fedora has 17 image viewers for 2017. Sourceforge and TecMint have resolutions for administrators and developers as Google heads to Linux.conf.au 2017.

    • And the best distro of 2016 is …

      It is time for the final vote. I have already given you my opinion on the finest performers when it comes to individual desktop environments – Plasma, Xfce and even Gnome, but now, following in the best of our annual traditions, we need to vote on the most complete, most successful distribution of the year.

      Unlike the desktop environment votes, it will not be purely based on the final score. I will also incorporate other elements – how deeply has a particular distro charmed me, whether I have continued using it after the initial review, how it has evolved, and of course, the critical stability, support and friendliness parameters. And then, there’s your vote, too. So let’s run through the coveted shortlist. To wit, the 2016 elite.

    • New Releases

    • PCLinuxOS/Mageia/Mandriva Family

      • [Rosa] Happy New Year 2017

        We’re proud to wish you a good luck in new 2017 year.

        We’ll try our best to continue developing our linux distributions even much better in new 2017 year.

    • Gentoo Family

      • Gentoo-Based Calculate Linux 17 Launches with KDE Plasma 5.8.5 LTS and MATE 1.16

        Today, December 30, 2016, Alexander Tratsevskiy had the great pleasure of announcing the release and general availability of Calculate Linux 17, a Russian desktop-oriented computer operating system based on Gentoo.

        Calculate Linux 17 comes seven months after the Calculate Linux 15.17 release and promises great new features, including the latest KDE Plasma 5.8.5 LTS, MATE 1.16, and Xfce 4.12 desktop environments, along with the long-term supported Linux 4.4.39 kernel.

    • OpenSUSE/SUSE

      • Will SUSE Bring SBCs to Datacenters?

        Is the Raspberry Pi destined to be coming to your datacenter? If not the Pi, then something like it — maybe Arduino or a single board computer we haven’t seen yet, perhaps developed by one of the OEMs? Unless I miss my guess, a Pi-like device is soon going to make up the guts in a new breed of server.

        Back in November, SUSE announced that it has ported SLES, its flagship Linux operating system, to run on the Raspberry Pi 3, and has released it under the somewhat predictable name SUSE Linux Enterprise Server for Raspberry Pi. According to the announcement, as well as an accompanying blog post by jayk, this is no big deal. It was done mainly just for the fun of it, with its only practical application being “that it would be really a cool way for our field team to demonstrate SLES at trade shows.”

      • GeckoLinux “Rolling” and “Static” editions updated

        The Rolling spins of GeckoLinux have been updated to a newer openSUSE Tumbleweed base system, together with some configuration improvements. Additionally, the GeckoLinux Static spins have also been updated with similar improvements.

        GeckoLinux offers live installable Rolling spins based on openSUSE Tumbleweed, and live installable Static spins based on openSUSE Leap 42.2. GeckoLinux currently offers customized spins for the Cinnamon, XFCE, Gnome, Plasma, Mate, and LXQt desktop environments.

    • Red Hat Family

    • Debian Family

      • Derivatives

        • Canonical/Ubuntu

          • Tux4Ubuntu: Tuxify Your Ubuntu Linux This New Year

            Tux is the official mascot of Linux. He is named so because the penguin looks as if he is wearing a tuxedo. Tux isn’t much visible on various distributions that borrow the Linux kernel as their base. Tux4Ubuntu is a project aimed at bringing Tux to the never before places in the Ubuntu Linux distribution.

            “We want to bring Tux, the Linux penguin, to Ubuntu! From boot to desktop we’ve created themes that include Tux in all the right places,” says the team behind the Tux4Ubuntu project.

          • Ubuntu 16.04 Unity 8 current state

            Ubuntu 16.04 Unity 8 current state
            qt5, gtk3 native on mir, snaps, ubuntu snap store, system settings etc

  • Devices/Embedded

Free Software/Open Source

  • 2016: Open source grows, but conflict remains

    Depending on where you stand, 2016 was either the best year ever for open-source software, or it was a year of controversy and danger. While it’s undeniable that 2016 saw more contributors to open source and more open-source projects than any prior year, it’s also true that this was a year of strife for communities, developers and users alike.

    Chief among those problems would have to be the Dirty COW local privilege escalation attack, a major vulnerability that seems to have been hiding inside the Linux kernel for the past nine years. The discovery of this exploit isn’t necessarily a knock against open-source software as a whole: The bug might never have been found if the sources weren’t also available.

  • 7 New Year’s Resolution Ideas for Open Source Project Developers

    It seems like only yesterday that 2016 begun and we were just about to see great changes happening with SourceForge. Now we’re at the end of it, readying ourselves for yet another year.

    As fond as we are of the year that was, now is not just a time for remembering “Auld Lang Syne”, but also a time to prepare for what comes next. For open source project developers that means not only reflecting upon decisions and actions made, but also coming up with new resolutions that will define the future of open source projects.

  • Business model as a variable to consider when choosing Open Source software.

    Any analytic report about who writes the code in open and collaborative environments will reflect how corporations involvement is increasing in Open Source software development at every level. More and more companies are transitioning from becoming FLOSS consumers to producers and almost every new software company out there has Open Source as a core strategy or even as part of their DNA.

    But who is sustaining the development of that key piece of software that will be a core part of your future product? Who pays those developers? Why? How does the key stakeholders benefit from the outcome of the ecosystem and the software they produce? How much do they invest in the production of that software? For how long? How do they get their income? What is the relevance of the software produced by the ecosystem they feed in their business models?

    These and similar basic questions need to be fully understood before a specific software becomes part of your key product or business. Knowing the answers to the above questions might not prevent you from surprises in the future but at least can prepare you for the potential consequences. What it is clear to me is that these answers are becoming more complicated to find and understand over time, specially for those companies who do not have a strong background on Open Source.

    Choosing a specific piece of software based on purely technical variables or even present healthiness of the community around the project/organization, expectations of the number of contributors or impact in general might not be enough any more. A specific community or project will become “your provider” so the business model behind it is equally important.

  • Events

    • Open source down under: Linux.conf.au 2017

      It’s a new year and open source enthusiasts from around the globe are preparing to gather at the edge of the world for Linux.conf.au 2017. Among those preparing are Googlers, including some of us from the Open Source Programs Office.

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • Firefox 52 Borrows One More Privacy Feature from the Tor Browser

        Mozilla engineers have added a mechanism to Firefox 52 that prevents websites from fingerprinting users using system fonts.

        The user privacy protection system was borrowed from the Tor Browser, where a similar mechanism blocks websites from identifying users based on the fonts installed on their computers.

        The feature has been active in the Tor Browser for some time and will become active in the stable branch of Firefox 52, scheduled for release on March 7, 2017.

        The font fingerprinting protection is already active in Firefox 52 Beta.

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice

    • 2017 TDF and LibreOffice calendar

      2017 is just around the corner, so here’s a shiny calendar from The Document Foundation and the LibreOffice community. Print it out, hang it on your wall, and here’s to a great 12 months ahead!

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

    • Hungary withdraws membership from Open Government Partnership

      Hungary has decided to withdraw its membership from the OGP, following a disagreement with the OGP Steering Committee on a report.

    • Scotland published its first action plan as OGP “Pioneer“

      Scotland published its first Open Government National Action Plan since it has been selected by the Open Government Partnership (OGP) as one of the fifteen “Pioneer” governments in April 2016.

    • Germany and Luxembourg joined OGP

      During the Paris OGP Summit 2017, Germany and Luxembourg were among the European countries that announced their intent to join the Open Government Partnership. Portugal said it will “soon” become a member of the institution.

    • Contracting 5 initiative officially launched at Paris OGP Summit
    • OGP countries shifting commitments from basics to innovations

      The countries participating in the Open Government Partnership (OGP) are shifting their attention from “getting the basics right” to innovative measures and reforms that translate into actions capable of generating real change. After ‘public service delivery’, the areas ‘fiscal openness’ and ‘access to information’ are the most prevailing in the commitments for 2015-2016.

    • Paris Declaration to promote collective actions in open government

      The Paris Declaration, which was presented at the OGP Paris Summit in December, will encourage cooperation between countries and civil societies to promote open government on a global scale. The Declaration lists twenty-one collective actions in which governments can take part and share experiences. “Actions are concrete cooperation, output-orientated and will produce tangible results”, the text of the Declaration states.

    • Open Data

      • French to test Sirene data in a hackathon

        Etalab, the French agency in charge of Open Data in France, and INSEE (Institut National de la Statistiques et des Etudes Economiques) – the French national agency for statistics, organised in November a hackathon to test and use the data of the SIRENE (Système informatique pour le répertoire des entreprises et des établissements) database which will be published as open data in January.

    • Open Hardware/Modding

      • ‘Open Source’ Robo-Car in ’17?

        The year 2016 opened the door to a new phase of highly automated driving, moving the discussion away from “wouldn’t it be nice-to-have-a-robo-car” to a more immediate “to-do list” with which regulators, car OEMs and technology companies must grapple if they hope to make self-driving cars commercially viable and safe.

        Gone are days of early-adapter giddiness over the Google car, or an “Autopilot” Tesla with over-the-air software upgrades.

        Reality sank in 2016. The industry is now aware Autopilot’s limitations. The automotive engineering community is taking a crash course in Artificial Intelligence (AI) that’s far beyond today’s computer vision. Engineers are taking note of challenges in machine learning (how do you certify the safety of AI-driven cars?). Many automakers are scrambling for a holistic approach toward cybersecurity.

        So, what’s in the auto industry 2017 agenda that could change the course of robotic car development?


  • Checking email as soon as you wake up could be ruining your day

    If you’re like most people, you wake up to an alarm ringing on your smartphone. Then you probably roll over and check your work email.

    That’s a dangerous way to start the day, according to a woman who studies happiness for a living.

    Reading just one negative email could lead you to report having a bad day hours later, says Michelle Gielan, former national CBS News anchor turned psychology researcher and best-selling author.

  • Deprecated: The Ars 2017 tech company Deathwatch

    This year’s Deathwatch was meticulously curated. After an ad-hoc process for candidate selection—including pleas for input from our secret cabal of Ars readers, editors, and covert operators—our Deathwatch electoral college scientifically assessed each nominated candidate. There was some heavy ballot stuffing for candidates like “the Environmental Protection Agency” and “the United States of America” in this year’s reader balloting. We suspected voter fraud, so we threw all that out and just went with our gut.

    This year, we’ve picked a magnificent seven companies for the Deathwatch. 2017′s list includes two (well, three, sort of) returning champions and a whole bunch of new contenders. Let’s kick things off by noting that it’s a bad year for companies whose names start with “Y.”

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Nightmare of Flint water crisis is far from over

      Flint can’t turn the calendar on 2016 fast enough.

      But will 2017 be any better?

      If history is any indicator, Flint’s situation may only get worse if those guiding the water crisis recovery are not very careful.

      It was nearly a year ago that the Flint water crisis exploded on the national scene.

    • Newly appointed “settlement master” could change government response to Flint water crisis

      A judge has appointed a mediator in a federal case that could dramatically change how the state of Michigan responds to the Flint water crisis.

      Last month, U.S. District Judge David Lawson ordered the state to immediately begin delivering safe bottled water to Flint residents. Right now the state provides water and filters but residents have to pick it up or call a hotline to get it delivered.

      Flint officials argue in court documents the city simply cannot afford to deliver supplies to everyone. The state filed documents saying water tests show Flint’s water is meeting federal standards. The state is asking Judge Lawson to dissolve this order.

  • Security

    • Security updates for Friday
    • Washington Post Publishes False News Story About Russians Hacking Electrical Grid

      A story published by The Washington Post Friday claims Russia hacked the electrical grid in Vermont. This caused hysteria on social media but has been denied by a spokesman for a Vermont utility company.

      The Post story was titled, “Russian hackers penetrated U.S. electricity grid through a utility in Vermont, officials say.”

    • Recount 2016: An Uninvited Security Audit of the U.S. Presidential Election

      The 2016 U.S. presidential election was preceded by unprecedented cyberattacks and produced a result that surprised many people in the U.S. and abroad. Was it hacked? To find out, we teamed up with scientists and lawyers from around the country—and a presidential candidate—to initiate the first presidential election recounts motivated primarily by e-voting security concerns. In this talk, we will explain how the recounts took place, what we learned about the integrity of the election, and what needs to change to ensure that future U.S. elections are secure.

    • Malware Purveyor Serving Up Ransomware Via Bogus ICANN Blacklist Removal Emails

      Fun stuff ahead for some website owners, thanks to a breakdown in the registration process. A Swiss security researcher has spotted bogus ICANN blacklist removal emails being sent to site owners containing a Word document that acts as a trigger for ransomware.

  • Defence/Aggression

    • Something About This Russia Story Stinks

      In an extraordinary development Thursday, the Obama administration announced a series of sanctions against Russia. Thirty-five Russian nationals will be expelled from the country. President Obama issued a terse statement seeming to blame Russia for the hack of the Democratic National Committee emails.

    • Obama’s Dive into the Syrian Abyss

      The bloody Syrian war got bloodier when President Obama allowed U.S. Mideast allies and hawkish U.S. officials to supply weapons to Sunni jihadists including those fighting alongside Al Qaeda’s affiliate, reports Gareth Porter.

    • Donald Trump’s New Nuclear Instability

      President-elect Donald Trump exploded a half-century of U.S. nuclear-arms policy in a single tweet last week: “The United States must greatly strengthen and expand its nuclear capability until such time as the world comes to its senses regarding nukes.” With that one vague message, Donald Trump, who hasn’t even taken office yet, may have started a new arms race.

      Trump’s statement set off alarms around the world, necessitating a cadre of his inner circle to flood the airwaves with now-routine attempts to explain what their boss “really meant.” On MSNBC, Rachel Maddow confronted former Trump campaign manager and newly appointed Trump counselor Kellyanne Conway about the shocking tweet:

      Maddow: “He’s saying we’re going to expand our nuclear capability.”

      Conway: “He’s not necessarily saying that—”

      Maddow: “… He did literally say we need to expand our nuclear capability—”

      Conway: “…What he’s saying is…we need to expand our nuclear capability, really our nuclear readiness, our capability to be ready for those who also have nuclear weapons.”

    • Imagine A World Without Islam

      I am an atheist, but I have been reading in and about Islam since 9/11, and I see that it is not like other religions. It is a violent, totalitarian system masquerading as a religion. And because the Quran is said to be the word of Allah — handed down from Allah through the Angel Gabriel to Mohammed — it is supposed to be unquestionable and unchangeable. This likely means there is no reforming Islam.

    • Five Afghan teenagers are convicted of gang-raping a boy at knife-point in Sweden – but NONE will be deported because their homeland is ‘too dangerous’

      The court said that the boys would have been ‘hit very hard’ by deportation because of the security situation in Afghanistan.

      Four of the defendants received jail terms of 15 months while the fifth was given 13 months, Expressen reports.

      Prosecutors had claimed that one of the attackers filmed parts of the assault, overnight on October 24 and 25, and posted the footage on social media.

      The victim, also from Afghanistan, went to police before five suspects were detained on child rape charges, it has been reported in Sweden.

    • Underage girls trapped in Pakistan bride exchanges

      The 36-year-old Ramzan smiles, eager to please, as he uses his fingers to count out her age when they married. One, two, three . . . until 13, and then he stops and looks at her, points and nods several times.

      The girl’s father, Wazir Ahmed, says she was 14, not 13, but her age was beside the point. It mattered only that she had reached puberty when he arranged her marriage as an exchange: his daughter for Ramzan’s sister, whom he wanted to take as a second wife.

    • FGM in Kenya: ‘Girls are being paraded openly in the streets’

      In Kuria, public ceremonies celebrating the illegal season of female genital cutting have been allowed to take place unchallenged

    • Kenyan girls ‘to stay at school to avoid FGM over holidays’

      It has been reported that hundreds of girls in Kenya will spend the holiday season in schools instead of going home to avoid being subjected to female genital mutilation (FGM) by their parents.

      BBC News has revealed that although many schools should have closed over a month ago, they have remained open to shelter the girls, while some churches are doing the same.

    • Exit Obama in a Cloud of Disillusion, Delusion and Deceit

      Of course Russian hackers exist. They attack this blog pretty well continually – as do hackers from the USA and many other countries. Of course there have been attempted Russian hacks of the DNC. But the report gives no evidence at all of the alleged successful hack that transmitted these particular emails, nor any evidence of the connection between the hackers and the Russian government, let alone Putin.

    • Hypocrisy Over Alleged Russian ‘Hacking’

      As Official Washington rages over alleged Russian hacking of Democratic emails, a forgotten back story is how the U.S. government pioneered the tactics of cyber-war and attacked unsuspecting countries, recalls Michael Brenner.

    • Barack Obama Wasn’t Nearly As Tough on Israel as Republican Presidents

      The Obama administration’s final moves on the Israeli-Palestinian issue — a symbolic resolution allowing the United Nations Security Council to condemn Israeli settlements and a speech by Secretary of State John Kerry warning that the settlement project could permanently end the two-state solution — has sparked a critical backlash from the country’s supporters.

      These reactions range from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu calling the resolution “shameful” to right-wing members of Congress threatening to defund the United Nations.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • FOIA Requesters Sue Government Agencies Over Non-Responses To Requests For Election-Related Documents

      Two of the nation’s foremost FOIA enthusiasts — Jason Leopold and Ryan Shapiro — are suing a variety of federal agencies for their failure to respond to requests for documents related to the 2016 election.

      The first lawsuit, filed a couple of weeks ago, concerns records pertaining to FBI director James Comey’s actions in the last few weeks before Election Day. Most of the documents sought relate to the FBI’s on-again, off-again investigation into Hillary Clinton’s private email server. The pair also seeks a variety of communications between Comey and the rest of the FBI, as well as any internal FBI discussions about the number of leaks that accompanied Comey’s last-minute dive back into the email investigation.

      Shapiro and Leopold are also seeking unredacted copies of Clinton email investigation documents previously released by the FBI. They also would like to see what the FBI has on hand that references a variety of right-wing news sites, including Breitbart News and alternativeright.com.

    • FBI Says It Has 487 Pages Of James Comey Talking Points, Refuses To Release Any Of Them

      Leopold had requested FBI Director James Comey’s talking points for a variety of subjects, including “going dark,” the terrorist attacks in Paris, the “Ferguson Effect,” and encryption. The FBI responded with two things, both of which add up to nothing.

      The letter Leopold received noted that the FBI had found 487 pages responsive to his request. Of those, the agency will be releasing a grand total of zero pages. All 487 have been withheld under FOIA exemptions b(5) through b(7)(E).

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • China to ban ivory trade by the end of 2017

      China will ban all domestic ivory trade and processing by the end of 2017, state media reported on Friday, in a move hailed by activists as a gamechanger for Africa’s elephants.

      African ivory is highly sought after in China where it is seen as a status symbol and prices for a kilo (2.2 pounds) can reach as much as $1,100 (£890).

      “China will gradually stop the processing and sales of ivories for commercial purposes by the end of 2017,” the official Xinhua news agency said, citing a government statement.

      The announcement follows Beijing’s move in March to widen a ban on imports of all ivory and ivory products acquired before 1975 after pressure to restrict a trade that sees thousands of elephants slaughtered every year.

      Xinhua said the complete ban would affect “34 processing enterprises and 143 designated trading venues, with dozens to be closed by the end of March 2017”.

    • Climate researcher’s defamation suit about insulting columns is on

      Several years back, some conservative columnists wrote pieces that accused a prominent climate researcher of having fraudulently manipulated data, phrasing it in a way that made comparisons with a convicted child molester. The researcher demanded the columns be removed; when the publishers refused, he turned to the courts. His suit, filed in the District of Columbia’s Superior Court, has been kicking around ever since, as motions to get it dismissed have ended up languishing amidst more filings and an appeal.

    • Buoyed by DAPL Fight, Canadian Chiefs Launch Legal Battle Against Enbridge Pipeline

      Buoyed by the success of Indigenous resistance to the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL), a coalition of Canadian First Nation chiefs have launched legal action against the Trudeau government for its recent approval of the Enbridge Line 3 expansion.

      Derek Nepinak, grand chief of the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs, wrote on Facebook Wednesday that the group’s legal team filed an appeal in federal court challenging the approval, which Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced late last month in tandem with the expansion of Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline.

      Condemnation of both projects was swift, with First Nations vowing to fight back. “Just as Indigenous Peoples are showing unwavering strength down at Standing Rock, our peoples are not afraid and are ready to do what needs to be done to stop the pipelines and protect our water and our next generations,” Nepinak said at the time.

  • Finance

    • The Coming Assault on Social Security

      The first assault of the new Trump administration and Republican Congress upon Social Security has been launched. It comes in the form of release of a new report by the Congressional Budget Office, which of course these days is a wholly owned subsidiary of the Republican Congressional Caucus.

      Using some financial sleight-of-hand, this CBO report pushes forward by two years the date at which its ideologically driven experts claim Social Security benefits will exhaust the Trust Fund, and since the Social Security program is required to be self-financing, the date at which, barring adjustments by Congress in the program’s funding and/or benefit payment levels, promised benefits would have to be cut by what the CBO claims will have to be 31%.

      Such a cut would clearly be a staggering blow to the finances and livelihoods of nation’s retirees, dependents and the disabled.

      This end-of-the-year CBO report is at odds with a report issued earlier this year by the Trustees of the Social Security Administration, which projected that the Trust Fund, barring any changes in taxes or benefit payments, would be tapped out in 2033, and that at that point benefits, barring some fixes in Social Security financing, would have to be cut by an also horrific but far lower 21% (with the remaining 79% of benefit payments being covered by current employee FICA taxes being paid into the system).

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • False Media Reporting on Trump’s Request to State Dept for Info on Gender Equality Programs

      The Washington Post, quickly followed by the New York Times and NPR and many others, headlined a story that Trump’s transition team asked the State Department for a list of programs and jobs aimed at promoting gender equality.

    • Ralph Nader

      On this week’s program, we hear a speech by Ralph Nader, recorded in Berkeley CA this past October, and hosted by Mickey Huff. Nader spoke on some of the themes of his latest book, “Breaking Through Power,” and explained his proposal for a public-interest lobbying organization with a presence in all 435 Congressional districts.

    • Mormon Tabernacle Choir member quits, refuses to sing for Trump

      Another member of a group selected to perform at Donald Trump’s inauguration is protesting.
      Jan Chamberlin, a member of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, is quitting the group and saying that she could never sing for Trump.

      She sent a resignation letter to the choir president this week.
      “I’ve tried to tell myself that it will be all right and that I can continue in good conscience before God and man,” Chamberlin wrote in a Facebook post. “I only know I could never ‘throw roses to Hitler.’ And I certainly could never sing for him.”

    • Deplorability

      How badly did those who survived worshipping Adolf Hitler in the early days must have felt when they learned the truth, that just about everything the “fuhrer” told them was a lie… How badly will a performer feel when this great adventure turns out badly? How badly will those foolish voters feel in a few years when the economy is in the tank and the world hates what USA is doing even more than they do now?

    • Ridiculous Congressional Proposal Would Fine Reps Who Live Stream From The Floor

      It would be nice if we weren’t remind daily just how petty politicians can be (on all sides of the aisle… so don’t go making this about one party or the other). Over the summer, we wrote about a situations in which House Democrats tried to stage a protest on the House floor — and House Republicans responded by gavelling the House out of session and turning off the live feed on C-SPAN so that the protest could not be easily seen (again, this isn’t partisan: the House Dems did the same to House Repubs eight years ago). In response, some of those participating in the protest started using Periscope and Facebook Live to livestream online from the floor.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • Russia’s Five Most Memorable Censorship Moments of 2016

      Roskomnadzor, the Kremlin’s federal censorship agency, is responsible for regulating the Internet in Russia, which includes enforcing police orders and court decisions to ban websites and online services deemed “harmful” or “illicit.”

      According to figures released in April 2016, Roskomnadzor has blocked more than 25,000 websites, though the actual number of sites affected by these bans is more than 600,000, say activists at RosKomSvoboda, because they share the same IP addresses as sites blacklisted officially.

      Today, the number of banned websites in Russia is still rising steadily. As 2016 comes to a close, RuNet Echo looks back at the five most controversial, infamous, and even ironic actions this year by Russia’s federal censors.

    • Internet Censorship: Governments Shut Down The Internet More Than 50 Times In 2016

      As internet access becomes more prevalent around the world, so too do attempts to suppress it. According to digital rights organization Access Now, there were more than 50 attempts by governments to shut down the internet during 2016.

      Access to internet was cut for a variety of reasons throughout the year, including several attempts to stifle dissent and affect outcomes of the democratic process.

      Deji Olukotun, the senior global advocacy manager at Access Now, told the Inter Press Service an internet shutdown was imposed in Uganda by President Yoweri Museveni–including a blackout of social media sites like Facebook and Twitter —on the morning of election day.

    • Governments Shut Down the Internet More Than 50 Times in 2016
    • Facebook temporarily bans author after he calls Trump fans ‘nasty fascistic lot’

      A journalist was temporarily banned from Facebook after a post in which he called Trump supporters “a nasty fascistic lot”, in the latest example of the social media platform’s censorship of journalists.

      Facebook “reviewed and restored” the post by Kevin Sessums after being contacted by the Guardian and dropped the posting ban.

      “We’re very sorry about this mistake,” a spokesman said. “The post was removed in error and restored as soon as we were able to investigate. Our team processes millions of reports each week, and we sometimes get things wrong.”

      Sessums, who is well known for his celebrity profiles for Vanity Fair and two best-selling memoirs, says that he shared a Facebook post from ABC political analyst Matthew Dowd that read: “In the last few hours I have been called by lovely ‘christian’ Trump fans: a jew, faggot, retard. To set record straight: divorced Catholic.”


      “It’s chilling. It’s arbitrary censorship,” Sessums said. “I was like, ‘Wait a minute, do I have to be careful about what I say about Trump now?’”

    • Google Removed Over 900 Million ‘Pirate’ Links in 2016

      Google removed over 900 million pirate site URLs from its search results in 2016. The staggering number is an increase of nearly 100% compared to the year before. While Google has taken some steps to make pirate sites less visible, it continues to disagree with rightsholders on how to move forward.

    • Ban Trump, Twitter and Free Speech

      Chief among those opposing ideas they want silenced are Donald Trump’s. His remarks — from the silly, labeled unpresidential, to the more extreme labeled racist/sexist/misogynist/hateful — have attracted a surprising group of otherwise intelligent people demanding he be shut up.

    • Singapore teen blogger seeks US asylum
    • Singapore teen blogger seeks US asylum
    • Singapore activist blogger, 18, seeks U.S. asylum
    • Controversial Singapore teen blogger seeks U.S. asylum
    • James Woods, Culture Warrior, Returns to Fight
    • Conservative Actor James Woods Returns to Twitter Six Weeks After Quitting Over Political Censorship
  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • The Government didn’t install cameras and microphones in our homes. We did.

      It begins: Amazon’s constantly-listening robotic home assistant was near a domestic murder case, and now the Police wants access to anything it might have heard. There have been similar cases in the past, but this is where it starts getting discussed: There are now dozens of sensors in our house. Do we still have an expectation of privacy in our home?

      A recurring theme in the dystopic fiction of the 1950s was an everpresent government watching everything you did, as witnessed in the infamous Nineteen Eighty-Four and many others. Adding to the dystopia, starting in the 1970s with movies such as Colossus, computers are typically added to the mix of watching everything all the time.

      However, these fictional dystopias all got one critical thing wrong in predicting the future: the government never installed cameras and microphones in everybody’s home. We did. We did it ourselves. And we paid good money for them, too. A smart television set — with infrared cameras built in, watching the people watching the television set as well as listening to them — costs good money that we happily paid.

    • Creator of NSA’s Global Surveillance System Calls B.S. On Russian Hacking Report

      We’ve previously documented that the hacking evidence against Russia is extremely weak, and the new report on Russian hacking doesn’t say much.

      Indeed – if Russia hacked the Democratic party emails (from the DNC and top Clinton aide John Podesta) – the NSA would have all of the records showing exactly who did it.

    • UK Councils Used Massive Surveillance Powers To Spy On… Excessively Barking Dogs & Illegal Pigeon Feeding

      Over in the UK, we’ve highlighted many of the problems of massively expanding surveillance through the (most likely illegal) “DRIPA” (Data Retention and Investigatory Powers Bill) and the new Snooper’s Charter. And yet, the government there keeps insisting that such powers would never be abused. But, that’s ridiculous. As we’ve seen in the past, it’s difficult to find examples of surveillance powers not being expanded and abused over time. And, now the UK is realizing exactly how that works. The Guardian, via Freedom of Information requests, has discovered that local British councils were given the ability to use surveillance powers under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA) to spy on all sorts of people for what appear to be minor infractions…

    • Signal for Android now circumvents censorship in Cuba and Oman

      Open Whisper Systems, the company that makes the Signal encrypted messaging app and that contributed to the encryption in Facebook-owned WhatsApp, today updated its Signal app for Android with the ability to avoid being censored in two more countries: Cuba and Oman.

    • Encrypted chat app Signal sidesteps censorship in Cuba and Oman

      Last week it was Egypt, and now users in Cuba and Oman can send messages without fear of them being intercepted and altered by lawmakers.

    • Signal Desktop Beta: Convenience Added to Security

      Signal Private Messenger has been simplifying the encryption of voice and text messages for several years now. Not only is it a drop-in replacement for existing Android and iOS contract and messaging apps, but its handling of encryption handshakes is invisible to the user, making encrypted messages no harder from the end-user’s perspective than non-encrypted ones. That is an accomplishment in itself, but Signal has gone one step further, releasing a beta version of Signal Desktop for Android, allowing users to text and play calls from a laptop or workstation synced to a phone.

      Signal has come in for some criticism, which I should probably answer before going further. First, the rumor persists that its server code is proprietary. According to Open Whisper Systems, the non-profit that develops Signal, that was true until June 2016 because restrictions on the Apple store were incompatible with the GNU General Public License. However, changes in those restrictions now make it possible to license Signal’s server code under the Affero General Public License, which the Free Software Foundation recommends for on-line services.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Fatal shootings by police remain relatively unchanged after two years

      Despite ongoing national scrutiny of police tactics, the number of fatal shootings by officers in 2016 remained virtually unchanged from last year when nearly 1,000 people were killed by police.

      Through Thursday, law enforcement officers fatally shot 957 people in 2016 — close to three each day — down slightly from 2015 when 991 people were shot to death by officers, according to an ongoing project by The Washington Post to track the number of fatal shootings by police.

      The Post, for two years in a row, has documented more than twice the number of fatal shootings recorded by the FBI annually on average.

    • Saudi Arabia jails man for a year after he publically called for end of male control over women

      A Saudi man has been jailed for a year after he called for an end to the ultra-conservative Islamic kingdom’s male guardianship system.

      The unnamed man was also fined 30,000 riyals (£6,500) after being convicted of “inciting to end guardianship of women”, the daily Okaz newspaper reported.

      He was arrested while putting up posters inside mosques which called for the government to abolish strict rules giving men control over women.

      The man admitted to pinning up posters in several mosques and said he solely launched an “awareness campaign” after finding some “female relatives were facing injustice at the hands of their families,” the daily newspaper said, according to the AFP news agency.

    • If Donald Trump Targets Journalists, Thank Obama

      If Donald J. Trump decides as president to throw a whistle-blower in jail for trying to talk to a reporter, or gets the F.B.I. to spy on a journalist, he will have one man to thank for bequeathing him such expansive power: Barack Obama.

      Mr. Trump made his animus toward the news media clear during the presidential campaign, often expressing his disgust with coverage through Twitter or in diatribes at rallies. So if his campaign is any guide, Mr. Trump seems likely to enthusiastically embrace the aggressive crackdown on journalists and whistle-blowers that is an important yet little understood component of Mr. Obama’s presidential legacy.

      Criticism of Mr. Obama’s stance on press freedom, government transparency and secrecy is hotly disputed by the White House, but many journalism groups say the record is clear. Over the past eight years, the administration has prosecuted nine cases involving whistle-blowers and leakers, compared with only three by all previous administrations combined. It has repeatedly used the Espionage Act, a relic of World War I-era red-baiting, not to prosecute spies but to go after government officials who talked to journalists.

    • French workers gain ‘right to disconnect’

      A new law forcing French companies to give their workers the right to ignore their smartphones outside of work hours takes effect Sunday.

      The measure — introduced as part of a controversial overhaul of the French labor code earlier this year that is the first of its kind in the world — will oblige companies that employ more than 50 people to negotiate a set of rights with their staff about when they have to work outside of contracted work hours.

      In 2015, Labor Minister Myriam El Khomri commissioned a study that warned about the dangers of “info-obesity,” suggesting that using a smartphone to check work emails at all hours of the day can cause burnout, sleeplessness and relationship problems.

    • Dark Days and the Coming of Fascism in the New America

      Today, there is nothing stopping the American republic, which has already devolved into a plutocracy and is recognized as such by even some mainstream political science scholars, from disintegrating further. For certain, after first sparking a democratic revolt (which seems to be happening right now) but later descending into a chaotic political order, the American republic will eventually degenerate into a dictatorship – or “rule by the criminal” – where US society would be guided by those exhibiting only the basest of human emotions.

    • Throwing Roses To Hitler

      Poor poor Drumpf. Turns out he is unbeloved not just by the Rockettes, most Americans and almost every other country – see China’s shiny new Trump rooster and an international cascade of horrified, belittling images – but by many Mormons. Despite a long tradition of political neutrality and conservatism, many Mormons are reportedly upset at the planned appearance of their iconic Mormon Tabernacle Choir at the inauguration of a sexist, racist, intolerant, moronic alleged president-elect who “DOES NOT reflect the values of Mormonism and does not represent its diverse 15+ million members worldwide.” Charging that Trump betrays the church’s principles and values, almost 30,000 Mormons have signed a petition to protest the scheduled performance and demand it be cancelled.

    • California Blames Incarcerated Workers for Unsafe Conditions and Amputations

      In September, after months of organizing via smuggled cellphones and outside go-betweens, prisoners across the country launched a nationwide strike to demand better working conditions at the numerous facilities that employ inmate labor for little or no pay.

      The strike, which spread to dozens of institutions in 22 states, briefly called attention to a fact about prison labor that is well-understood in America’s penal institutions but scarcely known to the general public: Inmates in America’s state prisons — who make everything from license plates to college diploma covers — are not only excluded from the U.S. Constitution’s prohibition on slave labor, but also exist largely outside the reach of federal safety regulations meant to ensure that Americans are not injured or killed on the job. Excluded from the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s mandate of protecting American workers, these inmates lack some of the most basic labor protections other workers take for granted.

    • Ukraine’s corrupt counter-revolution

      Corruption remains Ukraine’s biggest problem. According to polls conducted in December 2016, 89% of the country’s population considers the current government’s battle against corruption to be a failure. As Petro Poroshenko reaches the halfway mark of his first term as president, these figures don’t bode well.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • Dutch Regulators Demand T-Mobile Stop Zero Rating, Remind Users That Free Data Isn’t Really Free

      We’ve talked a lot about how the FCC’s refusal to outright ban “zero rating” here in the States opened the door to all manner of net neutrality violations and anti-competitive behavior. Thanks to this omission, we’ve now got gatekeepers like AT&T, Verizon and Comcast all exempting their streaming content from usage caps, while penalizing competing services. Consumers also now face T-Mobile and Sprint plans that throttle video, music and games by default — unless users pony up an additional monthly fee. Some folks, like VC Fred Wilson, saw this coming a long way off.

      And while the FCC only this month acknowledged this kind of behavior is anti-competitive and problematic, the “enforcement” (which is a pretty generous term for the weak-kneed letters the agency is sending out) comes too late as the FCC appears poised to be scheduled for a defunding and defanging under the incoming Trump administration.

  • DRM

    • DRM vs. Civil Liberties: 2016 in Review

      Imagine a world where your Internet-connected car locks you in at the behest of its manufacturer—or the police. Where your media devices only let you consume mass media, not remix it to publish a counter-narrative or viral meme. Where your phone is designed to report on your movements and communications. Where your kid’s toy tells them it’s their friend, then talks about how much it loves sponsored products and transmits everything it hears in your home back to its manufacturer. Where your phone stops working if the police or the manufacturer ask it to. Where these backdoors are vulnerable to hacking, so anyone with the right resources can take advantage of them.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Copyrights

      • Prenda’s Paul Hansmeier Now Under FBI Investigation For His ADA Lawsuits

        The wheels of justice have turned to the point where Team Prenda copyright trolling efforts have netted John Steele and Paul Hansmeier federal indictments. The list of charges the pair face is ugly: mail fraud, wire fraud, conspiracy to commit money laundering, and suborning perjury.

        After Prenda’s many copyright lawsuits fell apart, Paul Hansmeier decided to start trolling small, local businesses with ADA lawsuits, hoping to turn what little legal expertise he has into profitable settlements. During this time, Hansmeier was also facing the dismantling of an attempted bankruptcy filing — one that very much looked like an attempt to avoid paying judgments resulting from Prenda’s years of bullshit. To avoid having his assets turned over to creditors, Hansmeier engaged in some creative accounting, like handing off money to a newly-formed trust and… dumping cash into a cardboard box.

      • EU’s Departing Internet Commissioner Leaves Behind Copyright Plan That Will Outlaw Basic Internet Functions

        We’ve written quite a few times about EU Commissioner Gunther Oettinger, a bigoted luddite, who bizarrely was put in charge of internet regulations for no clear reason at all. His main focus seemed to be on putting in place policies whose sole goal was to harm the internet because many key internet companies are American. Oettinger, who seems to be magnetically connected to all sorts of scandals has failed upward to a new job as the EU’s budget chief, but as EU Parliament Member Julia Reda notes, he’s still leaving a trail of internet destruction in his wake. In particular, she highlights ten everyday internet activities that would be outlawed if Oettinger’s copyright and internet proposals become law. It’s a pretty eye-opening list, and should raise serious questions about why Oettinger was ever put in charge of anything having to do with the internet.

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