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01.26.17

Links 26/1/2017: KDE Slimbook Release, LibreOffice 5.2.5

Posted in News Roundup at 8:52 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • GoboLinux: Questioning the Linux File Hierarchy

    Sometimes, distinguishing one of the several hundred available Linux distributions from another seems impossible. That, however, is not the problem with GoboLinux. Admittedly, its main claim to uniqueness is its radical reorganization of the Linux file hierarchy may seldom be seen by casual users, but as a challenge to the accepted standards, it is definitely worth a closer look.

    This reorganization is not the only innovation in GoboLinux. Its call for a reconsideration of a single, all-powerful user, like Solaris’ use of roles, would improve basic security. Similarly, its renaming of /home as /Users and /usrs as /Programs seems a sensible clarification — although one or two name changes, such as using “gobo” for “root” seems pointless, an in-joke that should have been resisted. Such improvements prove that GoboLinux is more than an arbitrary system of changes, or the implementation of personal idiosyncrancies. In fact, many of its changes amount to a modernization of the traditional Linux file hierarchy that takes into account the much larger system resources of today compared to those of the era in which the file hierarchy began.

  • Plain Text Productivity Redux

    On Ubuntu, I can use Meld for this process; on OS X, I can use Kaleidoscope. Yes, it will take a couple of passes to converge, but the process is super-quick and quite easy. I haven’t found a comparison/merge tool for iOS or Android yet, but I do have an iOS text editor (Editorial) that supports the TaskPaper format (as well as Markdown). Given that it’s very likely I’d only need to use a mobile device when my primary laptop would be offline, I think I can get away with just editing the primary laptop text file from my mobile device. I haven’t tested that part yet, so some additional fine-tuning may be necessary.

  • Pink Slips From Microsoft and Oracle

    In what appears to be little more than some light housekeeping, this week Microsoft will be saying goodbye to about 700 employees. This is a routine move, and about the only reason this is getting any attention is…well, Microsoft and jobs. A little more serious are layoffs at Oracle. In both cases, however, the number of jobs being lost amounts to little more than a drop in the bucket for these two tech giants. Of course, that’s little consolation if you’re one of the people getting sacked.

    The layoffs at Microsoft are part of a plan announced in June to cut 2,850 jobs by the end of this fiscal year. According to Business Insider, this isn’t a cost cutting measure, but an attempt “to update skills in various units” — a pruning, in other words. Most of the scheduled cuts have already taken place.

  • Server

    • IBM Wants to be “Red Hat” of Deep Learning

      IBM today announced the addition of TensorFlow and Chainer deep learning frameworks to its PowerAI suite of deep learning tools, which already includes popular offerings such as Caffe, Theano, and Torch. It’s another step in IBM efforts to lay claim to leadership in the nascent deep learning market. Offering supported distributions of popular frameworks, said Sumit Gupta, IBM vice president, High Performance Computing and Analytics, is a natural next step in expanding and commercializing deep learning use.

  • Kernel Space

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • Budgie 11 Desktop Environment Development Kicks Off, Will Support GNOME Apps, Qt

      Solus Project leader Ikey Doherty is kicking off the development of the Budgie 11 desktop environment, which will be used by default for the main edition of the Solus operating system.

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

      • KDE and Slimbook Release a Laptop for KDE Fans

        Today KDE is proud to announce the immediate availability of the KDE Slimbook, a KDE-branded laptop that comes pre-installed with Plasma and KDE Applications (running on Linux) and is assured to work with our software as smoothly as possible.

        The KDE Slimbook allows KDE to offer our users a laptop which has been tested directly by KDE developers, on the exact same hardware and software configuration that the users get, and where any potential hardware-related issues have already been ironed out before a new version of our software is shipped to them. This gives our users the best possible way to experience our software, as well as increasing our reach: The easier it is to get our software into users’ hands, the more it will be used.

      • Slimbook
      • KDE Slimbook

        Naturally, as one of the neon developers, I was doing some software work to help this along. Last year already we switched to a more reliable graphics driver. Our installer got a face-lift to make it more visually appealing. The installer gained an actually working OEM installation mode. A hardware integration feature was added to our package pool to make sure the KDE Slimbook works perfectly out of the box.

      • Everything you need to know about the SLIMBOOK KDE laptop

        Founded by Alejandro López, Grupo Odín is a small business in Spain that sells high-quality laptops with Linux preloaded on them. Their goal is not to make a lot of money, but to bring Linux to more users.

        A majority of desktop Linux users buy Windows laptops, wipe the hard drive and install Linux on them. But then they are on their own with no support from the company that sold them the laptop. By contrast, López offers complete support for his hardware.

        Jens Reuterberg, an illustrator and designer who works with the KDE community, told me that the idea for the SLIMBOOK KDE came from Aleix Pol, vice president at KDE eV Board. Pol talked to López exploring the possibility of a KDE-powered SLIMBOOK and López was more happy to oblige. He worked with the KDE community members to create a laptop to their specifications.

      • KDE-Community veröffentlicht Laptop mit eigener Distro
      • There’s Now A KDE-Branded Laptop Running Neon With Plasma 5

        For KDE fans not interested in setting up a KDE-based Linux distribution on your own laptop and worrying about potential graphics driver bugs with Plasma or other possible headaches, there is now a “KDE laptop” backed by the KDE community.

        KDE has teamed up with Spanish computer hardware retailer Slimbook to offer the KDE Slimbook. It’s an Intel laptop preloaded with KDE Neon and thus running the latest KDE Frameworks 5 + Plasma 5 experience. This isn’t a laptop running Coreboot or the like or any other real innovations besides just being pre-loaded with KDE Neon and tested by KDE Developers to ensure you don’t run into any hardware troubles, etc.

      • Meet the KDE Slimbook, a Powerful Laptop Running KDE Neon

        On the hunt for a powerful new Linux laptop? You might be interested in this, the KDE Slimbbook.

        The KDE Slimbook is a KDE-branded laptop that comes pre-loaded with the Ubuntu-based KDE Neon Linux distribution. The device is not only packed full of the latest and greatest Plasma and KDE apps, but has been tested by KDE developers to ensure that everything runs super-y smooth out of the box, with all hardware support properly configured.

      • New developer features to come with iOS 10.3, KDE Slimbook released, and Node.js certified developer program—SD Times news digest: Jan. 26, 2017
      • KDE Slimbook is a Linux-powered laptop for $780 and up

        The developers of the KDE desktop environment for Linux-based computers have partnered with Spanish PC maker Slimbook to release a laptop that comes with KDE software pre-installed.

        The KDE Slimbook is 13 inch notebook that’s available with up to a Core i7 Skylake processor and which comes wit the KDE Neon operating system.

      • Would you pay $800 for a Linux laptop?

        KDE is one of the bigger Linux projects out there, and today the dev team behind it announced that it would be partnering with Slimbook (a Spanish PC company) to produce the KDE Slimbook, a laptop designed specifically for running KDE Neon.

        The driving idea behind the project was to help alleviate the biggest issue facing Linux distributions: hardware compatibility. Where a company like Apple simply can ensure that its hardware and software work in sync by controlling both of those aspects, and Microsoft’s Windows has hefty licensing fees and requirements to ensure that hardware partners provide proper drivers and support, Linux, by virtue of being an independent and open-source platform, can be far more difficult to get working on different hardware. The usual method for getting Linux on a computer typically involves trawling forums, following how-to guides, and hoping that another member of the community has tried the setup or encountered the issue that you’re working on.

      • Krita Devs Want to Know What Type of Hardware You’re Using for Digital Painting

        The Krita developers are currently working on a lot of goodies for the next major version of the popular, open-source, and multiplatform digital painting utility, which can be either Krita 3.2 or 4.0, depending on the amount of changes made.

        They are preparing exciting features like Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG) support, text tools, Python scripting, as well as on improving existing functionality like the Lazy Brush interactive colorizing tool and palette handling. However, they are also planning on fixing as many bugs as possible to stabilize the application.

      • KIO GDrive 1.1 released

        One problem with this new approach is that the Network “folder” is actually provided by a kioslave, which currently lives in plasma-workspace. This means that if you use Dolphin from, say, Gnome Shell then Network will probably not work.

        The proper fix is moving this ioslave from plasma-workspace to kio, but it’s not trivial because Plasma and Frameworks have different release schedules, and also because in general moving things around is painful. I already made a patch but it got stuck, possibly because of Plasma 5.9 deadlines. I’ll clean it up and revamp it in the next weeks, hopefully.

        I also want to thank Andreas for the new gdrive icon that you see in the screenshots above. You need breeze-icons 5.29 or later to get it.

      • Un-deprecate your Qt project

        I personally feel that this was caused fundamentally by a perceived threat: there is a cost associated to porting away a codebase from a well-known construct (Q_FOREACH) to a new and yet-undiscovered construct (C++11’s range based for), especially when the advantages are not that clear. (With stronger advantages, maybe people would be more keen to move away).

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK

      • GNOME’s Mutter Rolls Out New Monitor Configuration System

        GNOME developer Jonas Ådahl has begun landing his work on a new monitor configuration system in Mutter for the GNOME 3.24 desktop release.

        Of this new monitor configuration system, Jonas explained in this tracker bug, “moving all low level monitor logic (i.e. CRTC/connector/… things into mutter, hiding it behind a higher level configuration API). While the current API simply provides a getter and a setter for all KMS like state, the new will be placed a layer above, with a set of ‘monitors’ that can be placed in ‘logical monitors’. One will be able to rotate a logical monitor, set a scale, place multiple monitors inside one (i.e. mirroring).”

  • Distributions

    • More Linux on my new notebook: Fedora, Linux Mint and Ubuntu

      Three more Linux distributions installed on this notebook, and one failure. I should have anticipated the problem with Mint Debian because of the previous experience with Debian jessie, so I suppose that doesn’t count as much of a surprise. Everything else went pretty much as expected, though. As I said after installing the first three distributions on this notebook, it is very pleasant to use, and really amazingly good for the price that I paid.

    • New Releases

      • Netrunner 17.01.2 Desktop ISO Adds the Calamares 3.0 Installer, Fixes UEFI Bugs

        Netrunner Desktop 17.01 “Baryon” rolled out on the first day of 2017, based on the upcoming Debian GNU/Linux 9 “Stretch” operating system, and a new minor update is now available for download.

        The Netrunner 17.01.2 Desktop ISO image is here to offer users an enhanced installation experience if they want to deploy the GNU/Linux distribution on their personal computers. As the headline suggests, it ships with the recently released Calamares 3.0 distribution-independent system installer, along with the KPMCore 3.0.2 package.

      • New ISO images for LMDE 2 “Betsy” – BETA Release

        LMDE 2 received many updates in the last 2 years, including many improvements which were ported from Linux Mint as well as all the new versions of MATE, Cinnamon and the Xapps.

        This release provides a new set of installation images for LMDE 2 which includes all these updates.

      • Linux Mint releases BETA versions of refreshed Debian-based LMDE 2 ‘Betsy’ ISO images

        Linux Mint is widely known as an Ubuntu-based operating system, but that isn’t entirely true. Yes, the main version is based on Canonical’s distro, but one version, LMDE, is instead based on Debian. In fact, “LMDE” stands for Linux Mint Debian Edition. Of course, Ubuntu is based on Debian which makes the entire thing even more confusing for users, but I digress.

        Today, the Linux Mint Team releases refreshed BETA versions of the LMDE 2 “Betsy” ISO images. What does this mean? There have been many updates since the last version of the ISO was released in 2015, meaning that new installs were very outdated and needed many updates. The Linux Mint team is packaging all of those updates into the ISO so that it is more modern for those doing a fresh install.

    • OpenSUSE/SUSE

      • New Package in Tumbleweed Enhances Rolling Updates

        Snapshots of openSUSE Tumbleweed are becoming more frequent once again and a new package in the rolling release should make the handling of updates easier.

        The new package called transactional-update was announced on the openSUSE Factory Mailing List on Jan. 21 and it allows for more fluent handling of updates and upgrades for a rolling release. Tumbleweed user are encourage to read the email and thread because the package has potential consequences for those using it if not used correctly.

      • New GeckoLinux Rolling and Static Editions Include the Calamares 3.0 Installer

        The developers of the openSUSE-based GeckoLinux operating system announced on January 25, 2017, the availability of new, updated versions of all supported editions.

        GeckoLinux Rolling 999.170124 and GeckoLinux Static 422.170124 editions are now available for download, shipping with the recently released Calamares 3.0 graphical installer, which adds countless fixes and improvements over the 2.4 series used in previous versions of GeckoLinux.

      • OpenSUSE board election suspended

        The election to pick two members of the openSUSE board has been suspended due to “technical problems”. The problems do indeed appear to be technical in nature, with at least some voters being presented strange and confusing ballots. The election was restarted on the 21st in an unsuccessful attempt to fix the problems; now it is on indefinite hold. The current board will continue to serve, possibly deferring any major decisions, until the issue is resolved.

    • Red Hat Family

    • Debian Family

  • Devices/Embedded

    • Five ways the Raspberry Pi Foundation is supporting education in the UK

      Established in 2009, the Raspberry Pi foundation is a charity that aims to promote computer science in schools, while also putting fun back into computing.

      ComputerworldUK spoke to the Raspberry Pi Foundation CEO Philip Colligan to discuss the various ways it’s supporting computer science in education, from primary and secondary schools to teacher training and higher education partnerships.

      “We are an educational charity which owns a computer company, which is unusual. We describe our mission as putting the power of digital making in the hands of people all over the world,” explains Colligan.

      Here are five interesting ways the Raspberry Pi foundation is supporting education in the UK.

    • A Switch for Your RPi

      In a previous article, I talked about an add-on card for the Raspberry Pi called the ControlBlock. It allows game controllers to be connected as regular joystick devices, but it also has a really incredible power switch feature. The folks at petRockBlog have created an add-on board for the Raspberry Pi that strictly does the power feature for a cheaper price!

    • Trimming Power on an Oceanographic Lab in a Can

      At last October’s Embedded Linux Conference Europe, Brent Roman, an embedded software engineer at the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI), described the two decade-long evolution of MBARI’s Linux-controlled Environmental Sampler Processor (ESP). Roman’s lessons in reducing power consumption on the remotely deployed, sensor-driven device are applicable to a wide range of remote Internet of Things projects. The take-home lesson: It’s not only about saving power on the device but also about the communications links.

    • RPi expansion boards support up to 40-Pi clusters

      BitScope’s Blade carrier boards extend the Raspberry Pi in single to up to 40-unit clusters with 9-48V power for HATs and BitScope mixed signal gizmos.

      Australia-based BitScope Designs, which offers a line of BitScope mixed signal test, measurement and data acquisition systems, has developed a BitScope Blade platform that combines them with Raspberry Pi SBCs. Sold by Element14, the BitScope Blades also support third-party accessories such as HATs or the RPi Touchscreen. The Blade was originally revealed by Element14 at last year’s Raspberry Pi 3 launch.

    • OpenWRT Backfire on WRT54GL signal strength

      Because I wanted my home router to use at least decently supported software that provides complete out-of-the-box support for native IPv6, I recently got around upgrading my WRT54GL’s firmware from White Russian to Backfire, which is the most recent OpenWRT release that fits the hardware’s limited amount of flash memory.

    • Phones

Free Software/Open Source

  • In Search of an Open Source DNS Server

    Does it matter whether the DNS server you use is open source? Most of the good ones run proprietary code. But after some tedious shopping and testing, I finally found one that’s open source, community-owned, and (so far, at least) as reliable as its proprietary competitors.

    One day Web pages started loading slowly for me. Not just on one computer, but on Linux, Windows, Mac, a Chromebook, and two Android phones. All the devices on my home network were suddenly spending a crazy amount of time displaying things like the FOSS Force front page.

    It wasn’t my connection speed. I pay Frontier for 25 Mbps FIOS. I did a fast connection speed test and I was getting 30 down and 30 up. That’s fi

    Another problem I’ve had with ISPs over the years is their DNS servers, which can be highly variable in speed, plus there are often privacy issues. And I hate hate hate their “typo penalty,” as I call it, where if you type a character wrong in a URL they shove you onto a bullshit search page instead of leaving the mistyped URL in your search bar so you can correct it.

  • Target CIO discusses how IT evaluates new tech and looks to open source for innovation

    Target has remained cutting edge over the years, not only compared to other brick-and-mortar stores, but also compared to young startups as well. In the second of a two-part interview, Target CIO Mike McNamara shares how his team chooses the best tools for the job – and what CIOs need to know to thrive in the future.

  • Standards remain ongoing open source challenge for operators

    Carriers see open source as a way to break vendor-lock model, but standards and compliance remain key challenges to deployments.

    Telecommunication operators appear to be full on board in terms of the movement towards open source platforms, or at least those large enough to be at a point of driving software deeper into their operations. However, there remain numerous challenges for those operators in actually deploying open source-based solutions into their networks.

    Operators have for years denounced the dreaded vendor lock scenario that has shackled them to a dwindling equipment vendor community. But, those vendors are exceedingly familiar with the needs of telecommunication operators and have built a level of trust with the network operations folks in terms of comfort with equipment deployments.

  • Events

    • Building the world we want to have

      Pia Waugh has been a mainstay of the Australian free-software community for many years; among other things, she was one of the organizers of the 2007 linux.conf.au event. She is also known for her open government work. Ten years after running LCA, she returned to the conference as the opening keynote speaker. Nobody could possibly accuse her of thinking small as she outlined a somewhat utopian view of where the world is going and how the free-software community can help it to get there.

      We are, she began, at a tipping point where we can reinvent our world. But we have to do it carefully, or we risk reinventing the past with a few shiny new things added. We need to make active choices about the future that we want to have.

      Human society has evolved over hundreds of thousands of years, often helped by the “cooperative competitiveness” that causes us to try to outdo each other while working together. Early humans figured out their world and shared information through trade and travel; the latency tended to be high, but we collected a lot of information over time. Through continuous improvement, humanity was able to move far from its origins and occupy every continent on the planet.

    • Preparing for FOSDEM17

      The annual FOSDEM is nearing. This year I will be participating for the third time and I’m looking forward to it! It’s a great opportunity to meet GNOME users and mingle with the other free software projects. FOSDEM was the first free software conference I attended back 3 years ago and I still really enjoy it.

    • Camille Fournier, Donna Dillenberger, William ‘whurley’ Hurley to Speak at Open Source Leadership Summit Next Month

      Executives, experts, analysts, and leaders in open source at some of the world’s largest and most successful companies will speak at the invitation-only Open Source Leadership Summit next month in Lake Tahoe, The Linux Foundation has announced.

      AT&T, Cloud Foundry Foundation, Goldman Sachs, Google, IBM, IDC, Leading Edge Forum, Mozilla, and VMware are among the many organizations that will share insights on how to start, build, participate in and advance open source strategy and development.

    • 4Ccon – Second National Conference on Free Software

      4Ccon represents Collaboration, Contribution, Communities and Commons. There will be workshops, seminars and discussions on a wide range of topics that reflect the key issues around technology and its impact on India. The themes of the conference converge on aim to develop new understanding of what technology means in the rapidly evolving global and national contexts.

  • Web Browsers

    • Chrome

      • Chrome 56 rolling out to Mac, Windows, and Linux, full HTML5 by Default & ‘Not Secure’ label rollout

        Chrome 56 is rolling out now to Mac, Windows, and Linux with a number of features and security fixes. Beginning as a staged rollout in the previous version, HTML5 by Default is now enabled for all users. Additionally, all sensitive HTTP sites will be marked as unsecure in the address bar.

        With last month’s release, Chrome only defaulted to HTML5 for a small subset of users. Now, it is enabled by default, with the first visit to webpages prompting users about Flash usage. This deprecation of the Adobe plug-in should lead to a better and safer web browsing experience.

      • Google Promotes Chrome 56 to Stable with HTML5 by Default, 51 Security Fixes

        Google promoted today its Chrome 56 web browser to the stable channel for all supported platforms, including GNU/Linux, macOS, and Microsoft Windows, which comes about 55 days after Chrome 55 was released.

      • Google Chrome Now Defaults to HTML5 for All

        With the version 56 update, Google has enabled Chrome to default to HTML5-based rendering for better speed and security. This means that content still using Flash won’t display immediately and instead will require your manual authorization to run.

      • Chrome 56 Released With WebGL 2.0 By Default, FLAC Support

        Chrome 56 ships with HTML5 by default, WebGL 2.0 by default, sensitive pages (including those with password boxes) loaded over HTTP are now marked as insecure, support for FLAC audio is enabled by default (similar to the recent Firefox release), improves performance of the browser by throttling web-pages in background tabs, and a variety of other enhancements.

    • Mozilla

      • Firefox Focus Now Available in 27 Languages

        International Data Privacy Day is right around the corner and to mark the event we’re happy to announce that Firefox Focus, the privacy browser, is now available for iOS in 27 languages covering billions of users around the world. Mozilla’s community teams hustled to localize all these language versions in time to hit an aggressive launch timetable and we are so grateful for their help. This means that a huge chunk of the world’s population can use Firefox Focus in their language to browse privately, leaving no trace and keeping their thoughts and online activities confidential.

        Today’s version launch of Firefox Focus is part of our ongoing drive to give users more control over their web experiences. After we launched Firefox Focus, we saw there was a huge appetite for private web browsing that allows users to erase their web history with a single tap. After serving up many millions of searches on Firefox Focus, we wanted to give users the choice to use it in their native language.

      • Firefox 51 Improves Security Notifications for Insecure Forms

        Mozilla patches 24 security vulnerabilities in Firefox and now alerts users when they attempt to enter information into web forms that are not secure.

      • Designing for failure

        Nobody starts a free-software project hoping that it will fail, so it is a rare project indeed that plans for its eventual demise. But not all projects succeed, and a project that doesn’t plan for failure risks is doing its users harm. Dan Callahan joined Mozilla to work on the Persona authentication project, and he was there for its recent shutdown. At the 2017 linux.conf.au, he used his keynote slot to talk about the lessons that have been learned about designing a project for failure.

        Mozilla is a non-profit organization dedicated to the open Internet. It “does lots of stuff”, including the Firefox browser. Firefox helps to protect the net as an open resource in a number of ways, including giving Mozilla a place at the table in settings where the design of the web is under discussion. The web, he said, is too great to leave in the hands of corporations.

      • Are you Privacy Aware? Data Privacy Day, and Every Day

        In a world where apps, products and devices are all powered by your personal data, creating awareness and enabling people to protect their data privacy is more important than ever. Data Privacy Day is around the corner (January 28) and we’re happy to support this day dedicated to empowering individuals and asking businesses to respect privacy, safeguard data and enable trust.

        At Mozilla, every day is Data Privacy Day. What do I mean by this? Respecting privacy, safeguarding data and enabling trust are built into the core of Mozilla, our products and everything we do. This is because we aren’t your average tech company. We’re also the champions of the internet and protectors of internet health. We fight to advance and protect the internet as part of our mission because we believe that the internet is a shared global public resource that needs to remain open and accessible to all.

  • Databases

    • Enterprise open source growth and new release sets Severalnines up for 10 out of 10 year

      Severalnines, Europe’s leading provider of open source database management software, opens the year with the launch of a new release of ClusterControl, its award-winning, all-inclusive database management system. ClusterControl lets businesses easily deploy, manage, monitor and scale their open source databases to run their business on the technology stack of their choice.

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice

    • Announcement of LibreOffice 5.2.5

      The Document Foundation (TDF) announces LibreOffice 5.2.5 “still”, the fifth minor release of the LibreOffice 5.2 family. Based on the upcoming announcement of LibreOffice 5.3, all users are invited to update to LibreOffice 5.2.5 from LibreOffice 5.1.6 or previous versions.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

  • Licensing/Legal

    • Top Lessons For Open Source Pros From License Compliance Failures

      For companies using open source software in their commercial products, it is recommended to develop and maintain a good relationship with the members of the open source communities that create and sustain the open source code they consume. The communities of open source projects expect companies to honor the licenses of the open source software they include in their products. Taking steps in this direction, combined with an open and honest relationship, is very valuable.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

    • Open Access/Content

      • Digital and open-source options have advantages over books

        Once the guideposts for most classes, textbooks are increasingly being pushed to the side as digital technology expands its reach.

        In Jennifer King’s seventh-grade math and science classroom at La Crosse’s Logan Middle School, the textbook is just one of the resources students can use. Increasingly, they use digital tools such as online scientific articles or educational programs on their iPads.

    • Open Hardware/Modding

      • Mouser takes SparkFun’s open source hardware globally

        Mouser Electronics has signed a global distribution agreement with SparkFun Electronics, a leader in DIY electronics and open-source technology, to support the growth of the maker movement around the world.

        The agreement provides increased access to both Mouser’s and SparkFun’s extensive product ecosystems, enabling customers to easily shop for the right maker technology to support their projects. Mouser’s catalog now incorporates over 500 SparkFun products, including SparkFun’s signature Arduino Pro, RedBoard, and LilyPad tools, empowering customers at the industrial and enterprise level to utilize maker technology in their advanced projects.

  • Programming/Development

  • Standards/Consortia

    • NISO Publishes “Understanding Metadata” Primer

      The NISO Primer Understanding Metadata, like its series companions, is licensed for reuse under a Creative Commons-BY-NC 4.0 license. It is available as a free download from the NISO website at: http://www.niso.org/publications/press/understanding_metadata.

Leftovers

  • As a Nefarious Media Agent…

    Yes, sometimes my opinions go too far. Nobody works in a vacuum. I’ve said offensive things, and apologized for them. Usually this is a case of “it sounded better in my head.” That’s part of being human. It’s one reason I solicit feedback on books before they’re published, to catch these things before they get out in the real world.

    This colors my view of people complaining about the media. Yes, every media channel is biased. As citizens, it’s our job to pierce our own media bubbles. I get most of my political news from an aggregator with a bias that opposes my own, specifically to counter my own bias.

    So go ahead. Disagree with me. I don’t mind. Really, I don’t even care. The world is full of opinions. I’m not going to argue with you.

    Admittedly, if you sign a contract with Oracle I’m gonna snicker.

    But I’ll try to be polite, and do it behind your back.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Jeremy Hunt admits Brexit could mean the end of free medical treatment for travellers to the EU

      British citizens may lose their right to free or subsidised medical treatment when they visit the EU after Brexit, the Health Secretary has admitted.

      Jeremy Hunt told MPs he could give no guarantees that the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) will survive EU withdrawal.

      Giving evidence to a Commons committee, Mr Hunt agreed that the card was “a very positive thing” but warned any decision on its future must await the final Brexit deal.

    • Molly Scott Cato: “The single market means we know where food comes from”

      “Here we sit with tea and sweet cakes,” says the Green MEP Molly Scott Cato. “That comes from the period of history we are talking about.”

      We are sitting in the airy, retro back room of Drink Shop Do, a tea shop near London’s St Pancras station, where Scott Cato will catch the Eurostar back to Brussels. In front of us is a Chinese willow teapot, two cups of Yorkshire Tea, and cakes.

      I’ve challenged Scott Cato, an economist, to explain the single market in terms of having your cake and eating it. Now, she is midway through a lecture on the history of colonialism and trade.

      “Why do we have so much tea with sugar in it? Because it was part of the triangular trade,” she says, referring to the notorious system of trading slaves, sugar and manufactured goods between Europe, North America and the West African coast. “People were encouraged to consume more sugar.”

    • US Could Agree To Slight Funding Increase At WHO Despite Trump Threats

      President Donald Trump’s promise to cut US funding to United Nations agencies has sent shock waves around the UN, but in a budget discussion at the World Health Organization Executive Board meeting today, the US delegation did not reject outright a call by WHO to increase government contributions to the organisation. Meanwhile, the WHO budget shows a deficit and many WHO members asked the WHO how it plans to remedy the situation and find solutions to reach financial sustainability.

    • The Mysterious Kidney Disease That Became a Public Health Epidemic

      Chronic Kidney Disease of undetermined causes (CKDu) is prevalent in several Central American countries, Sri Lanka, Egypt, and now India. It’s a fatal progressive loss of kidney function that has killed 40,000 people in the last decade—and no one knows what causes it. CKDu mostly impacts poor, agricultural workers, and is virtually undetectable until its latest stages when kidney failure is inevitable. As villages in Southeastern India grapple with this hidden disease, it has a severe impact on families and their livelihoods.

    • Lead in Flint, Mich., water below federal limits, still not drinkable

      After years of tap water in Flint, Michigan, being too dangerous to drink, a state monitoring agency said Tuesday that lead levels have dropped below federal action levels, suggesting the water is on its way back to being drinkable — but not quite yet.

      Michigan’s Department of Environmental Quality announced Tuesday that 90 percent of water samples taken between July 2016 and December 2016 had levels of lead below 12 parts per billion, lower than the federal action level of 15 parts per billion.

    • EPA Announces That Lead Levels in Flint Water Have Dropped Below Federal Limits, but Residents Still Can’t Drink It

      It’s been almost three years since residents in Flint, Michigan, could drink their tap water, and even though officials announced this week that lead and copper levels there had finally fallen below federal limits, they cautioned that it could still be a year or more before residents could take a sip from their taps.

      Because forgetting the water itself, a maze of up to 20,000 lead-tainted pipes that run all across the area still need to be replaced. Until then, residents have been instructed to continue to drink bottled water or use filters.

      “We are not out of the woods yet,” Mayor Karen Weaver said in a statement. “We still need help and support from the state and federal government.”

      But those resources, the $100 million the city was promised in aid, are now potentially at risk. Local officials aren’t sure how the Trump administration’s decision to place a freeze on contracts and grants from Environmental Protection Agency will affect the funds Flint is supposed to receive. Press representatives in the office of Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder released a statement to MLive.com that said that officials “haven’t received any guidance from the federal government.”

    • Professor on Flint water crisis research team calls lead levels in Pittsburgh ‘worrisome’

      The lead levels discovered in some drinking water in Pittsburgh’s neighborhoods is drawing an alarming comparison to the water crisis in Flint, Michigan.

      William Clark of Pittsburgh’s North Side is one of 81,000 customers who got a letter this week from the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority that stated he had elevated lead levels in his water.

      “We all think about Flint,” he said.

    • WHO Director General Candidates Hold Colorful Meeting With The Press

      The three remaining candidates to be director general of the World Health Organization today met at length with UN journalists in the WHO and highlighted their plans for reform including finding new sources of funding for the continually cash-strapped UN agency that now could face threats from the US president to cut US funding.

  • Security

    • Thursday’s security advisories
    • Security advisories for Wednesday
    • Malware Authors Switch Focus from Windows to Linux, Thousands of PCs Infected

      Linux has always been considered a more secure operating system, but malware writers are now trying to take advantage of this premise with new forms of infections spreading across the web as we speak.

      Security firm Dr. Web warns that it has already discovered thousands of Linux computers infected with a malware called Linux.Proxy.10, which is used by cybercriminals to remain anonymous online.

    • Linux.Proxy.10 Trojan Infects a Few Thousand Linux Machines and Turns Them Into Proxy Servers

      When the backdoor is active, the hacker logs onto the machine that has been infected using an SSH protocol and then uses the Linux malware to install the SOCKS5 proxy server.

    • Tor Browser 7.0a1-hardened is released

      A new hardened Tor Browser release is available. It can be found in the 7.0a1-hardened distribution directory and on the download page for hardened builds.

      This release features important security updates to Firefox.

      Tor Browser 7.0a1-hardened is the first hardened alpha in the 7.0 series. Apart from the usual Firefox update (to 45.7.0 ESR) it contains the first alpha in the tor 0.3.0 series (0.3.0.1-alpha) and an updated HTTPS-Everywhere (5.2.9) + NoScript (2.9.5.3).

    • Disable Your Antivirus Software (Except Microsoft’s)

      Furthermore, as Justin Schuh pointed out in that Twitter thread, AV products poison the software ecosystem because their invasive and poorly-implemented code makes it difficult for browser vendors and other developers to improve their own security. For example, back when we first made sure ASLR was working for Firefox on Windows, many AV vendors broke it by injecting their own ASLR-disabled DLLs into our processes. Several times AV software blocked Firefox updates, making it impossible for users to receive important security fixes. Major amounts of developer time are soaked up dealing with AV-induced breakage, time that could be spent making actual improvements in security (recent-ish example).

    • Security Risks of the President’s Android Phone

      I’m not concerned about the data. Anything he reads on that screen is coming from the insecure network that we all use, and any e-mails, texts, Tweets, and whatever are going out to that same network. But this is a consumer device, and it’s going to have security vulnerabilities. He’s at risk from everybody, ranging from lone hackers to the better-funded intelligence agencies of the world. And while the risk of a forged e-mail is real — it could easily move the stock market — the bigger risk is eavesdropping. That Android has a microphone, which means that it can be turned into a room bug without anyone’s knowledge. That’s my real fear.

  • Defence/Aggression

    • Spiritual leader of Thailand’s southern insurgents dies

      More than a decade ago, Sapae-ing Basor was one of Thailand’s most wanted, his face plastered on posters around the south offering 10 million baht, more than $250,000, for his capture.

      But when the spiritual leader of many Muslims in insurgency-torn southern Thailand died at 81 in self-imposed exile in Malaysia Jan. 10, it wasn’t just thousands of his followers mourning in mosques that noted his passing.

    • Mikhail Gorbachev: ‘It All Looks As If the World Is Preparing for War’

      I think the initiative to adopt such a resolution should come from Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin – the presidents of two nations that hold over 90% of the world’s nuclear arsenals and therefore bear a special responsibility.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • EPA data under scrutiny by Trump administration’s political staff

      The Trump administration is mandating that any studies or data from scientists at the Environmental Protection Agency undergo review by political appointees before they can be released to the public.

      The communications director for President Donald Trump’s transition team at EPA, Doug Ericksen, says the review also extends to content on the federal agency’s website, including details of scientific evidence showing that the Earth’s climate is warming and man-made carbon emissions are to blame.

    • Trump’s Hiring Freeze Will Devastate Our National Parks

      President Donald Trump’s government-wide hiring freeze will devastate the nation’s public lands, including the National Park System, which is already overburdened with record attendance and staff shortages. The freeze is a nightmare scenario for the NPS and Bureau of Land Management, which is also understaffed.

      The hiring freeze, issued Monday in an official presidential memo to all of the executive branch’s agencies, is sweeping and resolute: The federal government will hire no new employees or contractors except for positions that agencies “deem necessary to meet national security or public safety responsibilities.”

    • Trump’s Pipeline Orders Challenge Protesters

      He is violating existing, government to government policies between the United States and tribes, as federally recognized tribes. He never consulted… no one in his administration consulted with the chairman of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe, nor any of the other federally recognized tribes, on this initiative that he is putting forward.

    • Pipeline leaks equivalent of 15 tanker trucks in Iowa

      An investigation is ongoing on how a pipeline leaked 138,600 gallons of diesel fuel about 15 miles from the Iowa-Minnesota border, according to the company that owns the line.

      The 3,300 barrels of diesel — the equivalent of about 15½ tanker trucks — leaked Wednesday morning out of Magellan’s 12-inch pipeline system near Hanlontown, Iowa, about 125 miles north of Des Moines, said Bruce Heine, spokesman for Magellan Midstream Partners.

      A portion of Wheelerwood Road will be closed for two days, according to the Worth County Sheriff’s Office.

      “It’s a big one. It’s significant,” said Jeff Vansteenburg, a field office supervisor for the Iowa Department of Natural Resources. “The responsible party is Magellan, so they’ll have to bear the cost of cleanup.”

    • The Keystone pipeline will create just 35 permanent jobs. Don’t believe the lies

      For those who still insist fossil fuels are the future, the Trump administration represents a new day for some old ideas. In an early sign of things to come, the president showed his faith in big oil when he signed documents Tuesday pressuring federal agencies to support construction of the Dakota Access and Keystone XL oil pipelines. Each of these projects faced enormous protests and was put on hold by the Obama administration because of legitimate environmental and due process concerns.

      Congressional Republicans frequently howled at far less heavy-handed exercises of executive power under the previous administration. Today, they applaud Trump’s move on the mistaken premise that these pipelines are good investments. Not only will these projects not create long-lasting jobs – as CNBC, not exactly an anti-corporate mouthpiece, has noted: “Pipelines do not require much labor to operate in the long term” – they will further delay the inevitable transition to clean, renewable energy our economy needs and the American people demand.

    • Get inspired by environmentalist Rachel Carson’s political fights

      If you’re feeling demoralized by the assault on our environment under the current administration, you might find inspiration in the PBS profile of environmentalist Rachel Carson.

    • What Would Censorship of the USDA Mean for America?

      Early Monday morning, the US Department of Agriculture sent out an email to staff members at the Agricultural Research Service (ARS)—the agency’s primary in-house research arm—informing the nearly 3,000 employees that they were henceforth barred from relaying information to the public.

      The department-wide email—which was first reported by BuzzFeed News and later by many other outlets including The Washington Post, The Independent, Mother Jones, and Scientific American—read as follows: “Starting immediately and until further notice, ARS will not release any public-facing documents.This includes, but is not limited to, news releases, photos, fact sheets, news feeds, and social media content.”

  • Finance

    • In Nebraska, New Bill Proposes Protections Against Rampant Debt Collection

      Last year we reported on a little-known hardship facing Nebraskans struggling to pay their medical debts: They were being sued over doctor bills of just a few hundred dollars. Unheard of in most states, such lawsuits are filed in Nebraska by the tens of thousands, typically against low-income workers, in part because filing fees are so inexpensive.

      Last week, a Nebraska lawmaker introduced a bill that would curb what collectors can take from debtors after filing suit and obtaining a court judgment. The bill would automatically protect the first $2,000 in a debtor’s bank account from garnishment, among other reforms. Currently, collectors are allowed to clean out debtors’ bank accounts.

      “Right now, working class folks in particular are not on a level playing field and are at the mercy of predatory debt collectors,” said state Sen. Adam Morfeld, a Democrat who cited ProPublica’s investigation as a key inspiration for the proposed reforms.

    • Here’s Another Way Wells Fargo Took Advantage Of Customers

      Wells Fargo, the largest mortgage lender in the country, portrays itself as a stalwart bank that puts customers first. That reputation shattered in September, when it was fined $185 million for illegally opening as many as 2 million deposit and credit-card accounts without customers’ knowledge.

      Now four former Wells Fargo employees in the Los Angeles region say the bank had another way of chiseling clients: Improperly charging them to extend their promised interest rate when their mortgage paperwork was delayed. The employees say the delays were usually the bank’s fault but that management forced them to blame the customers.

      The new allegations could exacerbate the lingering damage to the bank’s reputation from the fictitious accounts scandal. Last week, Wells Fargo reported declining earnings. In the fourth quarter, new credit card applications tumbled 43 percent from a year earlier, while new checking accounts fell 40 percent.

    • Dance on the Grave of the TPP

      The Trans-Pacific Partnership was effectively dead before Donald Trump’s inauguration but, somehow, it always seemed poised to emerge from the grave and walk among the living once more.

      But now it appears to be buried for good, and it was Trump who dealt the final, though largely symbolic, blow. And it is Trump who will seek credit for doing away with the agreement, even though he clearly doesn’t deserve it.

      So what? Did anyone expect Trump to do otherwise, to humbly divert the spotlight?

    • Trump’s First Test on Taxes

      Trump’s voters didn’t vote to make the richest richer, but the Republican Congress is about to.

    • Mrs. May goes to Washington

      When British Prime Minister Theresa May visits the White House Friday, she will be cheered on by Brexiteers hoping for a quickly rekindled special relationship under the loudly Anglophile U.S. President Donald Trump.

      For the U.K., and for British Conservatives in particular, no other international relationship occupies a more totemic place in the imagination than the one with the United States. And in the wake of the Brexit vote, there is nothing that proponents of leaving the European Union want more from their longtime ally than a trade deal proving the country won’t be left out in the cold.

      Whereas former U.S. President Barack Obama was clear Britain would be “at the back of the queue” for a trade agreement once it leaves the EU, his successor has promised a deal “very quickly,” appearing to confirm the Leave campaign’s promises of new economic opportunities outside Europe’s single market.

    • What you need to know about the tech pay gap and job posts

      The problem starts when professionals enter the field, and that means factors as early in the process as job posts can influence this trend. That’s right — job posts can launch and perpetuate the wage gap in tech. Here’s how.

    • Dutch justice minister resigns over payments scandal

      Dutch Justice Minister Ard Van der Steur resigned Thursday over a controversial deal in which his ministry paid a criminal €2.1 million in exchange for information, NOS reported.

      Van der Steur, a senior member of Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s liberal VVD party, came under fire over his involvement in the so-called Teeven deal, a scandal that led to his predecessor’s resignation in March 2015.

      Former Justice Minister Ivo Opstelten, along with his secretary of state Fred Teeven, resigned after admitting to misleading parliament about the payments when it emerged the amount in question was closer to €2.1 million than the previously disclosed €385,000.

    • Government proposes cuts to postal services in cities

      Finland’s Communications Ministry wants to shake up postal services, with reduced deliveries in towns and cities and lengthened delivery times for domestic mail. The proposal has gone to parliament for consideration and is intended to come into force this summer.

      The Ministry says that the reform will ensure postal services remain available across the country, and allow companies to start offering new, market-based services in the sector.

      The ministry wants to retain weekday deliveries in rural areas, where postmen double as newspaper delivery staff—thus ensuring countryside residents are still able to receive their newspaper subscriptions. In towns and cities, newspapers are delivered by separate, specialist companies.

    • Posti to shed dozens of administrative positions

      “Posti’s operations will not be profitable without rationalising and other corrective measures,” it states.

      The primary objective of the consultative negotiations is to clarify the operating procedures of the state-owned company, according to the press release.

    • Trump didn’t kill TPP, the people did

      Can everyone stop saying Donald Trump killed off the Trans-Pacific Partnership? He didn’t. It was already dead. Thanks to pressure from ordinary Americans – yes, it really does work – TPP already lay without a pulse on the floor of Congress. There is no need to congratulate Trump’s bigoted regime or pretend he has assembled a cabinet that isn’t teeming with corporate interests. The Republicans didn’t co-operate with Barack Obama, and it would surely be a mistake for Democrats to normalise a deeply unpopular demagogue who actively threatens an admittedly already compromised democracy.

      That Trump has any ownership over TPP is a travesty, and a damning indictment of the Democratic establishment. The new president’s rightwing populism combines xenophobia, protectionism and policies which directly enrich the Donald Trump class. Yes, American workers have suffered years of stagnating or falling wages and the decimation of industries, devastating the communities they sustained. Both Republicans and establishment Democrats are responsible, and never considered the possibility they were creating anger and resentment which one day a vulgar demagogue would exploit.

      If the Democrats had listened to the likes of Bernie Sanders and other progressives who opposed trade deals which benefit corporate elites at the expense of workers’ livelihoods, the United States might not be currently embroiled in one of the worst crises since its foundation. TPP underlined why Hillary Clinton – despite standing against a serial liar – was so widely distrusted. As secretary of state she backed the treaty, then sat on the fence, then belatedly opposed it, feeding a sense she lacked any firm beliefs and would shift positions for crude political advantage. Clinton’s supposedly inevitable victory was sunk by an industrially ravaged Rust Belt: if the Democratic candidate in the ballot had offered authentic opposition to TPP, the current trajectory of the United States and the world would not be so horrifying.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Peter’s Choice

      I wanted to meet him halfway, until he started talking about history.

      “The reason I used the Civil War and Reconstruction is because it isn’t a secret that Reconstruction failed,” Peter wrote. “It failed and left the South in an extreme poverty that it still hasn’t recovered from.” And besides, “slavery was expensive and the Industrial Revolution was about to happen. Maybe if there had been no war, slavery would have faded peacefully.”

      As a historian, I found this remarkable, since it was precisely what all American schoolchildren learned about slavery and Reconstruction for much of the 20th century. Or rather, they did until the civil rights era, when serious scholarship dismantled this narrative, piece by piece. But not, apparently, in Peter’s world. “Until urban liberals move to the rural South and live there for probably a decade or more,” he concluded, “there’s no way to fully appreciate the view.”

      This was where he left me plumb at a loss. Liberals must listen to and understand Trump supporters. But what you end up understanding from even the sweetest among them still might chill you to the bone.

    • What is happening to America?

      I still remember vividly my first visit to Europe, back in 2010. I had just barely gotten off a plane in Hamburg and on to a bus to Lubeck, and struck up a conversation with a friendly, well-educated German classical musician next to me. We soon started to discuss politics and religion. Over the course of the conversation, in response to his questions, I explained I had twice voted against George W. Bush, that I opposed the war in Iraq for many reasons, that I did thought there was an ethical imperative to work to defeat climate change, that I viewed health care as an important ethical and religious issue, that I thought evolution was well-established, and that I am a Christian.

    • A Little Respect

      Trump’s “newspeak” continues. He’s now defining “respect” as a victim folding to the demands of the extortionist… See, Trump is the extortionist here, the party to NAFTA who has no respect for an equal partner, Mexico. Trump is demanding Mexico agree to paying unknown $billions for a wall that is of no benefit to Mexico. For Trump to demand respect when Trump has no decency at all is simply abuse of us all, our common sense, our sense of right and wrong, custom, law and the Constitution. Trump does not have the power to destroy USA’s reputation as a law-abiding nation in the world. The Constitution was set up with checks and balances to prevent that. Extortion of a major trading partner, an ally in the war on drugs, and a neighbour closely integrated socially with USA is an impeachable offence and the sooner the Congress gets around to that the sooner USA’s rapidly deteriorating reputation can be repaired.

    • Why Republicans Won’t Break with Trump

      Appearing on Fox News on Wednesday morning, Karl Rove, the veteran Republican strategist, seemed a bit bemused. “We have two Presidencies under way,” he said. In one of them, Donald Trump was “looking strong and fulfilling his campaign promises,” Rove explained. He was referring to a series of executive orders that Trump had issued in policy areas ranging from health care to trade to the environment. While these edicts outraged many liberals and moderates, they were broadly in line with what the new President had pledged to do.

    • Trump cranks up the crazy to 11 in this ABC interview. Highlights and full transcript

      In the interview with ABC’s David Muir, the narcissist-in-chief couldn’t stop obsessively returning to the topic of his perceived grudges over inauguration crowd size, his vote count in the election, even his appearance at CIA last week, roundly criticized by those at the agency. Trump didn’t get the memo.

      “In fact, they said it was the biggest standing ovation since Peyton Manning had won the Super Bowl and they said it was equal,” he lied.

    • Do You Want A Police State? Because This Is How You Get A Police State
    • Lock Them Up! Trump Staff Still Using Private Republican National Committee Email Accounts

      Given the President’s ability to make markets move with a single tweet, leaving accounts like these unsecured is begging for catastrophe. The news that the VP and President are still using Gmail accounts is also a problem and not just because of the lack of two-factor authentication. It signals that the Trump Administration is planning to do some official business off the FOIA-able/archivable books. That third parties are disclosing these accounts suggests the administration is in no hurry to do so.

      Trump’s staff may want to engage in some public disavowals of these personal email accounts, especially considering all the noise the campaign made about Hillary Clinton’s private email server, its security issues, and the dubious legality of routing classified documents through unsecured servers.

      If not, well… that will be completely unsurprising. Not that Trump won’t hold himself and his staffers to the same standard he held Clinton, but because politicians are a mostly-hypocritical bunch who like to point fingers at everyone but themselves.

    • The worst things you’ll read about Trump come from his own aides

      Adding literal insult to injury, the social media accounts of several parts of the National Park Service took to social media in recent days to tweet out information about climate change— which Trump dismisses as a hoax — and retweet a photo distinctly showing that his inauguration drew a far smaller crowd than Barack Obama did in 2009. Trump responded by ordering the Interior Department to temporarily shut down its official Twitter accounts.

      In the runup to the election, pundits like the Washington Post’s Melinda Henneberger penned columns with titles like “How the government could resist President Trump’s orders.” Trump has been in office for less than a week, but there is more and more evidence that the resistance has already started.

    • Occupy is not the reason why Trump won

      Trump is a symptom of a reactionary response triggered when the problems requiring systemic transformation are blamed solely on the political establishment.

    • FBI reviewed Flynn’s calls with Russian ambassador but found nothing illicit

      The FBI in late December reviewed intercepts of communications between the Russian ambassador to the United States and retired Lt. Gen. Michael T. Flynn — national security adviser to then-President-elect Trump — but has not found any evidence of wrongdoing or illicit ties to the Russian government, U.S. officials said.

    • Intel Panel Member Calls For 9/11-Style Joint Investigation Into Russian Hacking

      The top Democrat on the House intelligence panel wants a joint congressional committee to investigate whether high-ranking Kremlin officials were involved in ordering the hacks of key American figures and institutions in an effort to influence the U.S. presidential election.

      Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., the ranking member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, suggested a joint investigation, not unlike the commission organized in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks.

    • Guantánamo in the Trump Era Moves Ahead in Slow Motion

      The prison at Guantánamo Bay has plenty of room if Donald J. Trump wants to send more people here, but the military commission hearing that began Wednesday is a perfect example of the potentially endless legal morass that would create.

      The first military proceedings to take place at Guantánamo since Trump took office were as uneventful as they were symbolic. After more than four years of pre-trial proceedings in a stop-and-start schedule, the judge was considering yet another delay.

    • States Move to Intervene in Federal Case on For-profit College Watchdog

      Democratic attorneys general from five states and the District of Columbia announced yesterday that they intend to intervene in a federal case involving an embattled for-profit college accreditor.

      The Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools, known as ACICS, filed a lawsuit last December after the former U.S. Education Secretary John King announced the department was severing ties with the troubled agency.

      It is unclear whether the Trump administration will decide to reverse King’s decision on ACICS, but some education experts view Tuesday’s motion as an important step in trying to continue the priorities of the education department under former President Obama.

      “You have an uncertain administration,” said Ben Miller, senior director for postsecondary education at the Center for American Progress, who views the action by the states as critical to protecting students and taxpayers. “The intervention serves as a form of insurance.”

    • Trump’s Voter Fraud Example? A Troubled Tale With Bernhard Langer

      On Monday, President Trump gathered House and Senate leaders in the State Dining Room for a get-to-know-you reception, served them tiny meatballs and pigs-in-a-blanket, and quickly launched into a story meant to illustrate what he believes to be rampant, unchecked voter fraud.

      Mr. Trump kicked off the meeting, participants said, by retelling his debunked claim that he would have won the popular vote if not for the three million to five million ballots cast by “illegals.” He followed it up with a Twitter post early Wednesday calling for a major investigation into voter fraud.

      When one of the Democrats protested, Mr. Trump said he was told a story by “the very famous golfer, Bernhard Langer,” whom he described as a friend, according to three staff members who were in the room for the meeting.

      In the emerging Trump era, the story was a memorable example, for the legislators and the country, of how an off-the-cuff yarn — unverifiable and of confusing origin — became a prime policy mover for a president whose fact-gathering owes more to the oral tradition than the written word.

    • It’s No Trump Tower, but White House Has ‘Beautiful’ Phones

      President Trump, who flew across the country on hundreds of nights during the 2016 campaign to sleep in his own bed, has now spent five straight days in the unfamiliar surroundings of the White House. His aides said privately that he seemed apprehensive about the move to his new home, but Mr. Trump has discovered there is a lot he likes.

    • Trump’s Still Using His Old Android Phone. That’s Very, Very Risky

      The attack may not even be so direct. Many apps request permission to track a phone’s location for legitimate purposes, and a hacker could compromise one of these accounts to determine where the phone, and potentially Trump himself, is at any given time.

    • The BBC is neither independent or impartial: interview with Tom Mills

      Tom Mills, a Lecturer in Sociology and Policy at Aston University and former Co-Editor of New Left Project, has just published his first book, The BBC: Myth of a Public Service. Using archival research, original interviews, autobiographies and secondary sources Mills examines the politics of the BBC, arguably the most influential and trusted news organisation in the UK.

      I asked Mills about the popular image of the BBC as independent and impartial, its Iraq War coverage and what changes he would like to see made at the Corporation.

    • Donald Trump set to ‘eliminate arts funding programs’, cutting off NPR and PBS

      President Donald Trump is believed to be planning on shutting down arts and heritage programs as part of a raft of budget-tightening measures.

      The Hill, whose source is an unnamed member of Trump’s transition team, reported that Trump will eliminate both the National Endowment For The Arts and the National Endowment For The Humanities, and privatise the Corporation For Public Broadcasting.

      The latter partially funds National Public Radio (NPR) and Public Broadcasting Service (PBS), currently receiving $445.5 million a year from the government, around half of which goes to the US’ approx. 350 public television stations.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • Prominent Iranian Directors Decry Censorship After Minister Bans Films From Tehran Fajr Festival

      Less than three months into his new post as culture and Islamic guidance minister, Reza Salehi Amiri boasted about banning ten films from entering the Tehran Fajr International Film Festival, “in line with the policies of the supreme leader,” on January 19, 2017.

      “For the first time, we cut out films with feminist and inappropriate themes and supported 30 films made by young directors about the sacred defense (Iran-Iraq War),” he said during a meeting with Ayatollah Nasser Makarem Shirazi, a senior Qom-based theologian.

      Amiri did not name the films, but the Campaign for Human Rights in Iran has learned that they included productions by directors who focused in part on controversial topics like the hijab, which the Islamic Republic forces all women to cover their hair with in public, and domestic violence.

    • Government Scientists at U.S. Climate Conference Terrified to Speak with the Press
    • Will Trump scrub climate-change information?
    • Presidents Before Trump Have Meddled With The EPA — It Didn’t Go Well
    • Trump’s Web Makeover Softened After Bureaucratic Backlash
    • Trump team scrutinizing EPA climate science, grants in agency review
    • Trump Administration Will Review EPA Climate Change Web Page After Rumors It Might Be Deleted
    • Environmentalists warn of censorship: Trump gags scientists
    • Selective censorship

      And yet, when a couple of folks in Millheim put up an “F– Trump” sign in their yard on Inauguration Day, the wrath came down. Neighbors phoned code enforcement; a borough official arrived and called the sign-makers’ good parenting into question; passersby were, evidently, damaged for life. Based on the outrage, you’d have thought we live in a realm of muffins and white-picket fences, rather than the cussing, truck-testicle-swinging place that it is.

      Isn’t it funny that all the “b—-”-hurling, the caged women, the “historical” memorabilia and the nasty jokes haven’t merited censor? That folks are suddenly batting their eyelashes, concerned about “good parenting”?

      It’s cowardly to invoke “families” and “parenting” instead of naming and standing by inconsistent, retributive policies. It’s cowardly to drop your commitment to the First Amendment when it doesn’t suit. And hey, my neighbors — where’s all the bellyaching about “PC” censorship now, and whence does your hysterical fragility arise?

    • China Bolsters The Great Firewall, Cracks Down Harder On VPN Use

      It sometimes takes a little while, but sooner or later most governments engaged in ham-fisted internet censorship get around to taking aim at VPNs. While VPNs certainly have numerous, legitimate uses (including an additional layer of security when on public WiFi), they’re also great tools when it comes to preventing your government, ISP, or anybody else from nosily tracking your online behavior. As such, you’ll see broadcasters or even Netflix quick to villify their use to enforce increasingly pointless geographical viewing restrictions.

    • Lawyer for “inventor of e-mail” sends threat letter over social media posts

      Shiva Ayyadurai, the man who says he invented e-mail, has already sued two different tech publications for writing about his controversial claims. Now he also wants posts that he believes are defamatory to be removed from at least one social media network.

      Charles Harder, the attorney representing Ayyadurai, sent an e-mail on Tuesday to Diaspora, an open-source social network, demanding that three allegedly defamatory posts be removed. The posts were written by Roy Schestowitz, who also writes the blog Techrights.org.

    • Legal Threats By Charles Harder & Shiva Ayyadurai Targeting More Speech

      Let’s say right upfront: if you are unaware, Shiva Ayyadurai is currently suing Techdirt for our posts concerning Ayyaduria’s claims to have invented email. Ayyadurai’s lawyer in this matter is Charles Harder, the lawyer who filed multiple lawsuits against Gawker, and is credited by many with forcing that company into bankruptcy and fire sale.

      Now Harder, on behalf of Ayyadurai, has sent a demand letter to try to have social media comments posted in response to the lawsuit against us taken down. We are writing about this — despite the lawsuit against us — because we believe it is important and we do not intend to have our own speech chilled. This is also why we believe it is so important to have a federal anti-SLAPP law in place, because the chance to chill speech with threats or actual litigation is not a hypothetical problem. It is very, very real.

      Harder’s letter is to Diaspora, and it demands that certain posts by Roy Schestowitz be removed (which appears to have happened). Schestowitz is the guy behind the Techrights blog, which frequently covers issues related to things like free v. proprietary software and software patents. Harder’s letter to Diaspora claims that Schestowitz’s posts are defamatory, violate Diaspora’s terms of service, and “constitute harassment and intentional infliction of emotional distress.”

    • Outside Looking In: A Russian Filmmaker Fights Censorship from Abroad

      From his base in Latvia, Russian filmmaker Vitaly Mansky hopes to break the state media spell that has gripped post-Soviet audiences. The documentary filmmaker is president of Russia’s biggest and most controversial documentary film festival Artdocfest. Sitting in his office last fall, Mansky cut a figure that is half media mogul, half political operative. Earlier in the day Artdocfest’s e-mail addresses that are hosted on Russian servers appeared to be have been compromised, causing the festival team to scramble to set new passwords. As Mansky’s technical staff pored over their computers their boss fielded questions about Russia-Ukraine relations from a reporter at radio station Echo of Moscow via Skype.

    • Twitter search for “asshole,” “dickhead,” “racist” serve up Trump’s profile

      By Thursday morning, however, all of those results had vanished from Twitter. But, when quizzed by Ars, the Jack Dorsey-run firm declined to comment on whether it had scrubbed the results clean.

      A similar search on Wednesday night via the Twitter app for the word “crooked” didn’t lead to Hillary Clinton being recommended to users, despite Trump trying to ridicule his presidential campaign rival by repeatedly describing Clinton as “crooked Hillary.”

      But the word “corrupt”—another jibe heavily used by Trump last year—did return Hillary Clinton’s Twitter profile as a recommendation to users.

      And a Twitter search for “tiny hands” is still returning a recommendation for Trump’s personal Twitter profile.

    • The Alt-Right Is Trying to Crowdfund Twitter’s Destruction

      WeSearchr, a crowdfunding platform for the so-called “alt-right,” is threatening to sue Twitter for discrimination against conservatives and violations of antitrust regulation.

      “Twitter hates us, folks. And they’re $#@!ing us. It’s time to $#@! them back,” WeSearchr states on the funding page. “We’re going to sue Twitter for its discrimination against conservatives, its censorship, its violation of antitrust regulation, and for everything else that we can. We’re going to make Twitter the next Gawker.”

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • 6 Shocking Ways The World Works (Nobody Told You About)

      We all know how big corporations make their money, right? They offer a service or product to us, the consumer, and we pay for it with our hard-earned money. It’s the cornerstone of capitalism, and why we no longer have to hunt, build fires, or whittle anything for ourselves. But in reality, the buying and selling of stuff only accounts for part of a corporation’s revenue stream. Big businesses have all sorts of tricks and schemes to increase their profit shares, and almost all of them make them look like waxily mustachioed cartoon villains. Like how …

      6 – AT&T Makes Bank By Selling Your Information To The Cops

      The reputation of telecommunications behemoth AT&T is roughly as positive as a recommendation letter for a baby-shaking nanny. They’re notorious for annoying customers with things like dropped calls, charging its poorest customers higher rates for slow-ass internet, and for generally not giving a single flat fuck. But they’ve managed to make at least one loyal friend through it all who doesn’t care so much about their service issues or sluggish connections: the police. And their cop buddies only want one thing out of this relationship: information on you.

    • Trump signs ‘no privacy for non-Americans’ order – what does that mean for rest of us?

      US President Donald Trump may have undermined a critical data sharing agreement between the United States and Europe that internet giants rely on to do business overseas.

      In an executive order focused on illegal immigrants that was signed by the president this week, one section specifically noted that privacy protections would not be extended past US citizens or permanent residents in America.

    • The NSA Has Found a New Way to Categorically Deny FOIA Requests

      The notoriously secretive National Security Agency is raising “security concerns” to justify an apparent new policy of pre-emptively denying Freedom of Information Act requests about the agency’s contractors.

      The policy was cited by John R. Chapman, the agency’s chief FOIA public liaison officer, in a letter to Gizmodo on January 17, 2017, three days before Donald Trump’s inauguration. In explaining that the agency had declined to even conduct a search for records about a company called SCL Group, Chapman wrote, “Please be advised that due to changing security concerns, this is now our standard response to all requests where we reasonably believe acquisition records are being sought on a contract or contract-related activity.”

      The response appears to indicate that the NSA will no longer release—or even search for—any records pertaining to the private contractors it works with. SCL Group is a U.K.-based behavioral research firm that has reportedly worked with the Department of Defense in the past; its subsidiary Cambridge Analytica was a central component of the Trump campaign’s winning strategy.

    • Court Says Location Of FBI’s Utility Pole-Piggybacking Surveillance Cameras Can Remain Secret

      Last June, the FBI engaged in a public records lawsuit on its own behalf, seeking to prevent the city of Seattle from disclosing the locations of cameras the agency had mounted on city-owned utility poles. At the center of the case (for a short while) was privacy activist Phil Mocek, whose public records request for this information had spurred the FBI into action.

      In its arguments against the city’s disclosure of this information, the government posited the novel theory that revealing the cameras’ locations would violate the privacy of those the FBI was actively surveilling.

    • Stingray: A New Frontier in Police Surveillance

      Police agencies around the United States are using a powerful surveillance tool to mimic cell phone signals to tap into the cellular phones of unsuspecting citizens, track the physical locations of those phones, and perhaps even intercept the content of their communications.

      The device is known as a stingray, and it is being used in at least 23 states and the District of Columbia. Originally designed for use on the foreign battlefields of the War on Terror, “cell-site simulator” devices have found a home in the arsenals of dozens of federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies.

      In addition, police agencies have gone to incredible lengths to keep information about stingray use from defense attorneys, judges, and the public. Through the use of extensive nondisclosure agreements, the federal government prevents state and local law enforcement from disclosing even the most elementary details of stingray capability and use. That information embargo even applies to criminal trials, and allows the federal government to order evidence withheld or entire cases dropped to protect the secrecy of the surveillance device.

    • State Appeals Court Says Unlocking A Phone With A Fingerprint Doesn’t Violate The Fifth Amendment

      As was hinted heavily three years ago, you might be better off securing your phone with a passcode than your fingerprint. While a fingerprint is definitely unique and (theoretically…) a better way to keep thieves and snoopers from breaking into your phone, it’s not much help when it comes to your Fifth Amendment protections against self-incrimination.

    • More than 8M people own an Amazon Echo as customer awareness increases ‘dramatically’ [Ed: A lot of stupid people willingly put an always-on, send-all-data-to-CIA-Webmaster device because it says “smart”.]

      A new report from Consumer Intelligence Research Partners (CIRP) estimates that there are now 8.2 million customers who own an Amazon Echo device, which first went on sale in late 2014 to Prime members and became generally available in June 2015.

    • Microsoft is making it easier for the Thai government to break web encryption

      The Thai government is looking to take greater control over its citizens’ web encryption, according to a new report from Privacy International, and Microsoft is part of the problem.

      At issue is the Thai government’s root certificate, which is used to verify HTTPS-enabled websites. Windows automatically trusts the certificate, but many competing operating systems do not. Used maliciously, the root certificate could allow the government to smuggle malware into otherwise legitimate pages, or present counterfeit versions of entire websites. Privacy International cites Thailand’s history of government surveillance as good reason to be suspicious.

      The report also claims that a 2014 Facebook outage in Thailand, which occurred amid a military coup, was orchestrated not only to censor users but to circumvent the social network’s encryption, as well.

    • Researchers Issue Security Warning Over Android VPN Apps

      A research team has issued a warning over the lack of security in many VPN apps available from Google Play. A worrying 38% of the apps tested contained some kind of malware while 67% featured at least one third-party tracking library. More than eight out of ten leaked IPv6 traffic.

    • Dutch secret service tries to recruit Tor-admin

      Recently a Dutch man with an MSc (Master of Science) at the Delft University of Technology and admin of Tor-exit nodes was approached by two agents of the Dutch intelligence service, the AIVD. They wanted to recruit the man as an informant or undercover agent, who would also infiltrate foreign hacker communities. The person tells his story.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Bodycam footage leaks, resisting arrest charges dropped

      Texas police on Thursday dropped resisting arrest and other charges leveled against a mother and two daughters, ages 19 and 15, the same day leaked bodycam footage of the incident surfaced. The video shows a Fort Worth police officer manhandling the children, questioning the mother’s parenting skills, and not taking any action against a man the mother accused of assaulting her seven-year-old son.

      The video, leaked to the Associated Press by the family’s attorney who declined to say where he got it, shows Officer William Martin responding to mother Jacqueline Craig’s call to police. The woman had accused her neighbor, Itamar Vardi, of assaulting her son because he threw some trash on the ground by his residence.

      The officer, according to the video, grills the mother on her parenting skills, and she erupts in anger. That set the stage for the officer to pull a Taser, order her and others in the area to the ground, and to use force to quell the situation. The development is the latest example of how the publication of body cam footage or cell phone video is altering the criminal justice system at a time when more and more police agencies are deploying these video recorders.

    • Departing District Attorney To DOJ: Albuquerque Police Department Is A ‘Continuing Criminal Enterprise’

      District Attorney Kari Brandenburg is done with Albuquerque. More to the point, she’s decided not to seek re-election because she’s especially done with the city’s police force. On her way out the door, Brandenburg — who found herself locked out by the PD after bringing murder charges against two officers for shooting a homeless man — is letting the Department of Justice knows its work with the PD isn’t done yet.

      In early 2014, the DOJ released its report on the Albuquerque Police Department. In it were descriptions of the department’s indiscriminate, unchecked uses of force.

    • Outgoing DA slams APD in letter

      “Frankly, if any other group of individuals were acting the way APD has allegedly been acting, some of us in law enforcement might refer to them as a continuing criminal enterprise and/or engaged in the act of racketeering. I appreciate how bold a statement that is.”

      Albuquerque’s outgoing district attorney, in her final days in office, slammed the Police Department one last time – accusing it of cover-ups and other problems.

    • Draft executive order would begin ‘extreme vetting’ of immigrants and visitors to the U.S.

      The Trump administration plans to start vetting would-be immigrants and visitors to the United States based partly on their opinions and ideology, and will immediately cease the resettlement of Syrian refugees in the United States, according to a draft executive order leaked Wednesday to civil rights advocates and obtained by The Washington Post.

      The order, if enacted, would signal the beginning of the “extreme vetting” that President Trump promised on the campaign trail, as well as partial implementation of the “Muslim ban,” according to civil rights advocates.

    • Trump to Order Mexican Border Wall and Curtail Immigration

      President Trump on Wednesday will order the construction of a Mexican border wall — the first in a series of actions this week to crack down on immigrants and bolster national security, including slashing the number of refugees who can resettle in the United States and blocking Syrians and others from “terror prone” nations from entering, at least temporarily.

      The orders are among an array of national security directives Mr. Trump is considering issuing in the coming days, according to people who have seen the orders. They include reviewing whether to resume the once-secret “black site” detention program; keep open the prison at Guantánamo Bay; and designate the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist organization.

    • In Report, Watchdog Points to Growing Repression in Malaysia, Thailand

      Governments from South to Southeast Asia last year behaved repressively or failed to do enough to translate rhetoric about democratic values and freedoms into real action, Human Rights Watch said in a scathing assessment in its World Report 2017.

      The 697-page report, released Thursday, assessed the state of human rights in more than 90 countries. It pointed to deepening repression in Malaysia and Thailand, and criticized Bangladesh, Indonesia and India – the world’s most populous democracy – for problems ranging from extrajudicial disappearances and killings, to restrictions on free speech, or not doing enough to defend minorities and secular thinkers from attacks or discrimination.

    • Donald Trump says torture ‘absolutely’ works: ‘we have to fight fire with fire’

      Donald Trump has used his first TV interview as president to say he believes torture “absolutely” works and that the US should “fight fire with fire.”

      Speaking to ABC News, Trump said he would defer to the defence secretary, James Mattis, and CIA director, Mike Pompeo, to determine what can and cannot be done legally to combat the spread of terrorism.

      But asked about the efficacy of tactics such as waterboarding, Trump said: “absolutely I feel it works.”

    • Lying Once Again, Trump Declares Torture ‘Absolutely’ Works

      President Donald Trump doubled down on his embrace of torture on Wednesday, saying that it “absolutely works.”

      He made the fallacious claim in interview with ABC News, an excerpt of which was released before its airing on Wednesday evening.

      Trump said that he asked top intelligence officials whether waterboarding and other forms of torture work, and “the answer was yes, absolutely.”

      Ultimately, he said he is “going to go with” the opinions of Defense Secretary James Mattis and CIA Director Mike Pompeo as to whether to reinstate torture.

      Asked by interviewer David Muir, “Do you want waterboarding?” he replied: “I don’t want people to chop off the citizens’ or anybody’s heads in the Middle East, OK, because they’re Christian or Muslim or anything else.”

    • White House Distances Itself from ‘Black Site’ Order After Outrage

      White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer on Wednesday said he had “no idea” where a controversial executive order that seemed poised to reinstate secret overseas CIA prisons came from, stating that President Donald Trump had not seen it.

      The draft, titled “Detention and Interrogation of Enemy Combatants,” copies of which were obtained by the Associated Press and the Washington Post, would revoke former President Barack Obama’s decision to ban torture techniques and end the CIA program that allowed “interrogation of high-value alien terrorists to be operated outside the United States.” It would also send “enemy combatants” to the U.S. military prison in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba.

    • Two Afghan migrants revealed as those arrested over horrific three-hour rape streamed on Facebook Live in Sweden

      TWO migrants from Afghanistan have reportedly been arrested over the three-hour gang rape of a woman that was broadcast on Facebook Live.

    • Theresa May will not confirm she will tell Donald Trump torture is unacceptable

      Theresa May has refused to say whether she will raise the issue of torture with Donald Trump when she meets him at the White House on Friday.

      During Prime Minister’s Questions, Ms May was quizzed on whether she would “make clear” to the US President that the UK would “under no circumstance” facilitate torture if he brings it back into US policy.

      While the Prime Minister reaffirmed Britain does not sanction torture and that that position would continue, she did not say whether she would make this clear to Mr Trump.

    • US could face human rights crisis after Trump’s xenophobic immigration orders

      Donald Trump is now effectively at war with undocumented migrants inside the US and those who attempt to cross the southern border without paperwork.

      Advisers and analysts alike have long suggested that Trump ought to be taken “seriously but not literally”, but Wednesday’s two executive orders on immigration show that he is living up to the blustering rhetoric of the 2016 election trail.

      It was a promise he made throughout an election campaign characterised by xenophobia, and one he has now underlined with a few flicks of the presidential pen.

      Attention focused upon Trump’s banner promise to erect a wall across an additional 1,200 miles of the US southern border – an order that will undoubtedly meet with stiff opposition when Congress is lobbied into funding the multibillion-dollar construction project that has, by Trump’s homeland security secretary’s own admission, limited effectiveness in deterring entry. There was also coverage of the aggressive declaration of intent to withdraw some funding to hundreds of sanctuary cities – those jurisdictions which offer protection to undocumented migrants – which will probably meet with vigorous legal opposition. However, Wednesday’s orders went further and carried instantaneous repercussions through dramatic immigration policy reversals that have been somewhat overlooked in the flurry of executive action.

    • Exclusive: Expecting Trump action, U.S. suspends refugee resettlement interviews

      The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has temporarily halted trips by staff to interview refugees abroad as it prepares for a likely shakeup of refugee policy by President Donald Trump, two sources with knowledge of the decision said on Thursday.

      The decision effectively amounts to a pause in future refugee admissions, given that the interviews are a crucial step in an often years-long process.

      The DHS leadership’s decision to halt the interview trips was communicated to those involved in the U.S. refugee admission process on Wednesday, one of the sources said.

      It means that though Trump has not yet ordered a temporary halt to the refugee program, future admissions are likely to be delayed.

    • Trump Strategist Steve Bannon Says Media Should ‘Keep Its Mouth Shut’

      Stephen K. Bannon, President Trump’s chief White House strategist, laced into the American press during an interview on Wednesday evening, arguing that news organizations had been “humiliated” by an election outcome few anticipated, and repeatedly describing the media as “the opposition party” of the current administration.

      “The media should be embarrassed and humiliated and keep its mouth shut and just listen for a while,” Mr. Bannon said during a telephone call.

      “I want you to quote this,” Mr. Bannon added. “The media here is the opposition party. They don’t understand this country. They still do not understand why Donald Trump is the president of the United States.”

      The scathing assessment — delivered by one of Mr. Trump’s most trusted and influential advisers, in the first days of his presidency — comes at a moment of high tension between the news media and the administration, with skirmishes over the size of Mr. Trump’s inaugural crowd and the president’s false claims that millions of illegal votes by undocumented immigrants swayed the popular vote against him.

    • Steve Bannon pretty much declares war on the free press

      In an outrageous interview with the New York Times, Steve Bannon declared the press an “opposition party” and suggests it “keep its mouth shut.”

    • Steve Bannon Tells NY Times The Media Should ‘Keep Its Mouth Shut’

      Steve Bannon, the Breitbart News-chairman-turned-White-House-chief-strategist, said in a Wednesday interview that the media “is the opposition party” for President Trump and should “keep its mouth shut.”

      “The media should be embarrassed and humiliated and keep its mouth shut and just listen for awhile,” he said in an interview with the New York Times.

    • Will Trump’s immigration blitz hit Singaporean teen blogger Amos Yee’s asylum bid?

      US President Donald Trump’s sweeping plans for an immigration clamp down, as made public on Wednesday, are unlikely to dramatically affect the asylum bid of Singaporean teenage dissident Amos Yee, his lawyer said, as the blogger’s stint in a US jail entered its 40th day.

      “It’s too early to tell what the impact would be of the president’s plans for refugees,” Sandra Grossman, the US-based pro-bono lawyer representing the 18-year-old, told This Week in Asia.

      Draft executive orders circulating on Wednesday showed Trump would “drastically cut the amount of Syrian refugees that the United States will submit,” Grossman said.

    • Trump’s Tough-Guy Talk on Torture Risks Real Lives

      In an interview with his biographer Michael D’Antonio, Donald Trump explained that although he received a medical deferment rather than serving in the war in Vietnam, “I always felt that I was in the military.” This was, as D’Antonio reported in “Never Enough: Donald Trump and the Pursuit of Success,” because he spent his high-school years at a military-themed boarding school, not far from West Point.

      Last Saturday, President Trump trumpeted his military expertise during a visit to the C.I.A.’s headquarters, in Langley, Virginia, where he praised his nominee to direct the C.I.A., Michael Pompeo, for being first in his class at West Point. Then he digressed, noting, “I know a lot about West Point. . . . Trust me, I’m, like, a smart person.”

      One difference between serving in the military and being a pretend soldier at the New York Military Academy, where Trump proudly led mock drills in snappy faux military uniforms, is that, in the real thing, officers are drilled not just in marching formations but also in the laws of war. These include the Geneva Conventions and the Convention Against Torture, which impose absolute, unconditional bans on torture and other forms of cruel and inhumane treatment of enemy combatants, categorizing such conduct, under any and all circumstances, as a war crime.

    • WATCH: Minnesota protesters erupt after Republicans pass bill to charge demonstrators for police overtime costs

      Protesters on Tuesday shut down a Minnesota House of Representatives hearing after lawmakers voted to pass a GOP-led measure that would charge activists for law enforcement costs associated with disruptive demonstrations.

      Tuesday’s committee meeting ended abruptly after the bill to allow local police departments to charge protesters for the costs associated with demonstrations passed nine-to-six along party lines in the House Civil Law and Data Practices Policy Committee — with every Republican on the committee voting for it, and every Democrat against.

      Citizens at the hearing shouted “Shame, shame!” after the vote, prompting lawmakers to walk out without taking up a second measure.

      The bill was proposed by Republican Rep. Nick Zerwas of Elk River, who said local law enforcement has spent $2.5 million dealing with protests in the last 18 months. Zerwas said he arrived at his total policing cost by adding up estimates in media reports — figures that cannot be independently verified. His bill has 27 co-sponsors.

    • Resisting arrest can now be considered a hate crime in Louisiana

      In May of 2016, Louisiana’s Democratic Governor John Bel Edwards signed the “Blue Lives Matter” bill, which protects police officers, firefighters and EMS officials under the state’s hate crime statute. The law went into effect in August, and now at least one police chief is ready to apply it to anyone resisting arrest.

      “We don’t need the general public being murdered for no reason and we don’t need officers being murdered for no reason. We all need to just work together,” St. Martinville Police Chief Calder Herbert told a local ABC affiliate. “Resisting an officer or batter of a police officer was just that charge, simply. But now, Governor Edwards, in the legislation, made it a hate crime.”

      While the bill does not specifically list resisting arrest as a qualifying offense, it empowers police officials to pursue more draconian punishments of crimes deemed to be motivated by animus towards the police. The Huffington Post’s Julia Craven offers a chilling scenario: “If a police officer grabs a protester’s arm during a demonstration and that person makes a movement the officer considers aggressive, a minor trespassing or disturbing the peace charge could be bumped up to assault and possibly considered a hate crime.”

    • Austrian expert says Islam is unsustainable in its current form

      A leading professor and expert on Islam has warned that the religion is “not sustainable” in its current form and called for more critical thinking.

      Ednan Aslan, 57, a professor for Islamic religious education at the University of Vienna in Austria and a frequent guest on German-language TV shows, said that in Islam too little is being questioned and too much simply taken for granted.

      He warned: “Islam, as it is now, is not sustainable,” and said he wanted to “reshape the face” of his religion.

    • Mario Silva: Persistence of anti-Semitism shows world has yet to learn lessons of the Holocaust

      This year marks the 72nd anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp. Sadly, the liberation of the camp on Jan. 27, 1945 did not put a stop to the mass killing of innocent Jewish men, women and children. Nor did it stop after the Canadian 2nd Infantry Division liberated the Westerbork concentration camp in Holland in April 1945. The Nazis continued their slaughter until the last moments of their murderous machine, which was put to an end when Nazi Germany surrendered on May 7, 1945.

      Nazism subscribed to theories of a “master race” — a racial hierarchy where superior people have a right to dominate others and purge society of so-called inferior elements.

      By the time the war ended, Nazi Germany and its many collaborators had exterminated one-third of the Jewish people, six million Jews. Those of us who look back at that dark period history become traumatized by the ease and speed with which the killing took place. Nowhere is this more evident that in Babi Yar, Ukraine, where from Sept. 29–30, 1941, over just two days, 33,771 Jews were killed in a single operation.

    • A sinister British Sharia court and one girl’s tireless hunt for her father’s killer: How a brutal murder in Pakistan uncovered revenge killings in Lancashire

      The Muslim council of elders, or Sharia court, listened intently as the plaintiff outlined his case. He’d been disrespected by a neighbour, he told them, and in such a small Pakistani community, people talk.

      As atonement for that disrespect, the neighbour had agreed to the plaintiff’s demand that their children would marry each other. But when the neighbour’s children objected to the idea, he reneged on that promise.

      The plaintiff before the makeshift court was therefore demanding retribution.

      The price for that broken promise was clear, he argued: his neighbour’s recalcitrant children had dishonoured him as well, and what’s more, they were consorting with white people.

      As they were already promised to his own children, that constituted adultery: they should pay with their lives.

      The council of elders deliberated, then issued their judgment.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • Neutrality fear over Trump appointee

      President Donald Trump has chosen Ajit Pai as the new head of the US Federal Communications Commission, the government agency which regulates telecoms issues.

      The appointment has raised concerns among internet rights activists that laws ensuring net neutrality are now under threat.

      Net neutrality is the term given to the view that all traffic on the internet should be treated equally – rather than, for instance, internet service providers being allowed to charge more for a “fast lane” for people wanting to use data-heavy services such as Netflix.

    • FCC Chairman Pai vows to close broadband “digital divide”

      On his first full day as Federal Communications Commission Chairman, Republican Ajit Pai yesterday spoke to FCC staff and said one of his top priorities will be bringing broadband to all Americans.

      “One of the most significant things that I’ve seen during my time here is that there is a digital divide in this country—between those who can use cutting-edge communications services and those who do not,” Pai said (transcript). “I believe one of our core priorities going forward should be to close that divide—to do what’s necessary to help the private sector build networks, send signals, and distribute information to American consumers, regardless of race, gender, religion, sexual orientation, or anything else. We must work to bring the benefits of the digital age to all Americans.”

    • Google and Netflix join fight against municipal broadband restrictions

      Google and Netflix joined a handful of advocacy groups and other companies lobbying against a proposed Virginia state law that would make it far more difficult for municipalities to offer Internet service.

      As we previously reported, the “Virginia Broadband Deployment Act” would prohibit municipal broadband deployments except in very limited circumstances. For example, localities wouldn’t be allowed to offer Internet service to residents if an existing network already provides 10Mbps download and 1Mbps upload speeds to 90 percent of potential customers. Even if that condition is met, municipalities would have to jump through several legal hoops before being allowed to build a network.

    • Cable’s Congressional Allies Quickly Urge New FCC Boss To Kill Cable Box Competition Plan

      Last year, the FCC unveiled a new plan that would require cable operators make their content available via app for third-party cable boxes and other streaming hardware. The goal was to bring a little added competition and openness to the clunky old cable box. But because the FCC’s plan would have not only eroded the cable industry’s walled-garden control over content — but $20 billion in annual cable box rental fees — the cable industry, broadcasters, Congressional allies and even the US Copyright Office got right to work lying about the plan — repeatedly.

    • A Republican FCC Means You Will Have to Keep Renting Your Cable Box Forever

      Republicans in Congress want to force consumers to keep renting clunky, outdated cable “set-top” boxes, sending billions of dollars annually into the corporate coffers of Comcast, Charter and other industry giants.

      GOP lawmakers on Wednesday urged new Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai to formally kill a FCC plan to increase competition in the pay-TV market that would save consumers an estimated $20 billion every year.

      Big cable companies and their allies in Hollywood hate the proposal, which would require cable operators to offer software “apps” giving consumers access to content like ESPN on the device of their choice. Many cable operators already offer mobile apps, but the FCC proposal would require them to make such apps available on Android, iOS, Amazon and other third-party devices—without the need to rent a set-top box from the cable company.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Copyrights

      • The (Viral) Ripple Effect of Ripping Off Journalism

        If you’d been strolling past my office last Tuesday and happened to glance in through the window, you would have been greeted by an odd sight: me at my desk crying and eating slice after slice of my daughter’s pink-frosted birthday cake. Six slices in total.

        In that moment, I was swamped with an immense feeling of fear and of powerlessness.

        Two days earlier, I’d published a devastating investigation about mothers who sexually abuse their sons. It was the result of weeks of painstaking work – academic reading, long and difficult interviews, fact checking, legal advice, writing and re-writing and discussion with my editor.

01.25.17

Links 25/1/2017: Managed Kubernetes Service, Wine 2.0

Posted in News Roundup at 7:20 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • Desktop

    • Chrome OS tablets with Android apps are coming soon

      Get ready for Chrome OS to get a lot more pervasive and a lot more interesting this year, if only because it’s going to show up in new kinds of hardware. Google has been talking up the latest round of Chromebooks — the Samsung Chromebook Pro from CES and today’s new education-focused Chromebooks — but it’s also looking ahead to the next thing: tablets.

      Google’s Rajen Sheth, director of product for Android and Chrome for education and enterprise, held a conference call yesterday to talk about Chromebooks for the education market. But he also couldn’t help but note that these 2-in-1 form factors are just the start for Chrome OS.

    • Android apps will make Chromebooks worth buying this year

      While Chromebooks have always been a great low-cost option for basic tasks like browsing and watching videos, they’re about to get a lot more useful, as Google is introducing support for Android apps on them this year.

      The company announced that it was working to bring its massive Google Play app store to Chromebooks in May 2016, and rolled out a preview on Chrome OS for three models last September. Now, it’s confirmed that all new Chromebooks launching in 2017 and from here on out will support Android apps, along with a long list of existing devices.

    • Endless Code and Mission Hardware Demo

      Recently, I have had the pleasure of working with a fantastic company called Endless who are building a range of computers and a Linux-based operating system called Endless OS.

    • Mac sales declined nearly 10% last year as Lenovo, Dell and others gained ground

      It’s not surprising that Mac sales dropped for Apple in 2016 as they experienced their first year over year sales decline since 2001. What is interesting, however, is that as Mac sales dropped roughly 10% and personal computers overall dropped 5.7% for the year, the top four leaders in the market all saw growth as Apple was pushed to number five.

      Although Mac sales were up in Q4 2016 compared to Q4 2015, an analyst note today from Bloomberg’s Anand Srinivasan and Wei Mok has revealed Apple has dropped to the fifth largest PC vendor, with ASUS (ASUSTeK) overtaking fourth place. The top four vendors are now Lenovo, HP, Dell, and ASUS.

  • Servers/Containers

  • Audiocasts/Shows

  • Kernel Space

    • Hitachi Increases Investment in Open Source With Linux Foundation Platinum Membership

      We are thrilled to announce that Hitachi has become the latest Linux Foundation Platinum member, joining existing Platinum members Cisco, Fujitsu, Huawei, IBM, Intel, Microsoft, NEC, Oracle, Qualcomm and Samsung. Hitachi has been a supporter of The Linux Foundation and Linux since 2000, and was previously a Linux Foundation Gold member. The company decided to upgrade its membership to Platinum in order to further support The Linux Foundation’s work, and open source development in general.

    • Hitachi Expands Open Source Leadership by Becoming a Linux Foundation Platinum Member
    • Hitachi steps up open source game with Linux Foundation

      Tokyo-headquartered Hitachi has become a Platinum member of the Linux Foundation to tap into the opportunities of open source developments.

      The foundation is a nonprofit advancing professional open source management organisation that seeks to get industry players collaborating to develop new technologies and solutions.

    • 10 Things You Should Know about Blockchain

      If you read technology publications, blogs and analyst reports on a regular basis, you’ve undoubtedly come across some mentions of blockchain technology. Many experts say blockchain could revolutionize the way business is conducted. For example, James Wester, research director at IDC Financial Insights, said blockchain “represents a complete shift in the way electronic transactions have been handled for decades, and participants in the market should begin thinking about how they will adapt to it.” And Microsoft predicts that blockchain “will fundamentally change the way we think about exchanging value and assets, enforcing contracts, and sharing data across industries.”

    • A Complete Beginner’s Guide To Blockchain
    • Graphics Stack

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • Budgie Desktop To Begin Decoupling From GNOME, Will Use Qt

      The Solus desktop environment has delivered innovations on a number of fronts, including its work on the Budgie desktop that has a growing following. While Budgie Desktop started off as being based upon GNOME, now the developers are working to decouple from GNOME and begin making use of the Qt tool-kit.

      Developer Ikey Doherty wrote a blog post today on the development work going into Budgie 11, the next major version of their desktop. They are working to “deGNOME” their desktop due to consistently hitting API/ABI breakage and other changes with each GNOME release.

    • Kicking Off Budgie 11

      With the Budgie website now up and running, let us turn our focus to the development of Budgie 11 itself. It’s no secret that we’ve been very busy over in Solus land, focusing on the base layers of the operating system. We did also promise we’d be kicking off the year with a focus on the next major release in the Budgie Desktop project, with version 11.

    • Budgie Desktop Is Moving to Qt

      Tossing a startled cat amidst a proverbial flock pigeons, Budgie creator and Solus Project lead Ikey Doherty dropped word of the switch in a lengthy blog post that details the technical reasoning behind their plans for Budgie going forward.

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK

      • GXml 0.13.90 Released

        With lot of work to do on XSD, but certainly happy to see GXml.Gom* classes taking shape, fixed lot of bugs since last 0.13.2 and starting to port some projects to this new version, I hope to soon release 0.14, just after most translation are in place.

        This new version, will provide a better supported XML GObject wrapped, using DOM4 API and initials of other technologies like XPath and XSD.

  • Distributions

    • BlankOn Linux explained

      Hi guys, welcome to the 15th segment of “Introduction with Linux Distro”. We have made quite a few introductions from the start of this website, every segment has something unique to itself. So this time we will be having a Linux distribution which have pure philosophy and creativity, as our guest. Let’s get to know more about BlankOn Linux.

    • Best Distro, systemd Exploit, KDE neon Scare

      The Linux world keeps on turning and while I’ve been under the weather a KDE neon download scare rocked users recently as well as a newly discovered exploit in systemd. The exploit is said to “open the door to privilege escalation attacks, creating a means for hackers to root systems.” Elsewhere, FOSS Force is running their annual Readers’ Choice Awards Poll for the best Linux desktop distribution for the year ended a few weeks ago. Firefox 51.0 was released with a new logo and Arch is deprecating the 32-bit architecture images. Jamie Watson test several more distros on his new notebook and Jesse Smith reviewed GoboLinux saying, “I applaud the developers’ efforts in making something unusual and interesting.”

    • Brisk Menu Gets Basic Keyword Filtering in v0.3.0, Enables Internationalization

      Solus developer Ikey Doherty is announcing today the availability of stable version 0.3.0 of the modern and efficient Brisk Menu applications menu used for the MATE edition of the Solus operating system.

    • Mangaka OS (32-bit)

      With the seemingly great obsession with Manga and Anime there should be a Linux distribution dedicated to the topic. Great news! There is! The Operating System (OS) is called Mangaka which is the name of the creators of Manga. This article covers only the 32-bit versions, but another article will cover the 64-bit versions.

    • 10 best Linux distros for privacy fiends and security buffs in 2017

      The awesome operating system Linux is free and open source. As such, there are thousands of different ‘flavours’ available – and some types of Linux such as Ubuntu are generic and meant for many different uses.

      But security-conscious users will be pleased to know that there are also a number of Linux distributions (distros) specifically designed for privacy. They can help to keep your data safe through encryption and operating in a ‘live’ mode where no data is written to your hard drive in use.

    • Reviews

      • KaOS-2017.01 — a review

        I have previously reported on KaOS, in 2015. I have actually kept it installed since August 2015. When I saw the announcement for 2017.01, I decided that it was time for a re-install. I’ll note that I could have just updated the already installed version, but it seemed like time for a fresh start.

    • New Releases

      • SparkyLinux 4.5.3 Rescue Edition Implements New Redo Backup and Recovery Tool

        The developers of the Debian-based SparkyLinux operating system are announcing today the general availability of SparkyLinux 4.5.3 Rescue Edition, which brings a new and exciting tool.

        The new tool we’re talking about is called Redo Backup and Recovery, which some of you might have used in the past to recover your computer from a complete disaster. The tool can be run standalone from a USB flash drive or CD disc, allowing for a bare-metal restore, which can be the ultimate antivirus solution for PCs.

      • SolydXK Linux OS Gets First ISO Respins for 2017, Raspberry Pi Build Also Out

        The developers of the SolydXK (SolydX with the Xfce desktop environment and SolydK with the KDE desktop) GNU/Linux distribution are announcing the immediate availability of new ISO respins.

    • Arch Family

    • OpenSUSE/SUSE

      • GeckoLinux “Rolling” and “Static” editions updated to fix bugs

        I’m pleased to announce a set of updated spins for the GeckoLinux Rolling editions, now at version 999.170124. These are live installable DVD / USB images based on the well tested and highly stable openSUSE Tumbleweed rolling distribution, combined with driver and multimedia support from the Packman project. After installation, GeckoLinux Rolling systems can be easily updated in sync with the updates that openSUSE Tumbleweed and Packman offer.

        There are also updated spins of the GeckoLinux Static editions, now at version 422.170124. These are live installable images based on the enterprise-grade openSUSE Leap distribution, currently at version 42.2, combined with driver and multimedia support from the Packman project. After installation, GeckoLinux Static systems can be easily updated in sync with the updates that openSUSE Leap and Packman offer.

        The current set of updated GeckoLinux spins focuses on releasing the new Calamares 3.0 installer, with significant bug fixes and new features. Additionally, the old yast2-live-installer is now offered again as an alternative for those that prefer it. Also, users of the Rolling editions that experienced difficulties booting to a graphical Xorg system are invited to try this new release with bug fixes in that area. Finally, the Budgie spins have been updated after a long hiatus, now featuring the latest 10.2.9 release of the Budgie desktop.

    • Slackware Family

      • Poll: who needs 32bit packages for latest Plasma 5?

        During the past week I have been spending time on getting the latest KDE Frameworks, Plasma and Applications built. The new Applications 16.12 was quite a bit of work due to the splitting of tarballs in many smaller ones. Also, the Slackware 14.2 and -current versions have now diverged sufficiently that the packages I compile on 14.2 are no longer guaranteed to work on -current, so that introduces additional work.

    • Red Hat Family

      • BU and Red Hat Forge $5 Million Partnership

        Red Hat, the world’s leading provider of open source enterprise software, is joining in a five-year-long partnership with Boston University, an arrangement aimed at advancing research into emerging and translational technologies, such as cloud computing and big data platforms. The collaboration, celebrated Monday evening at a dinner at the home of Robert A. Brown, BU president, will involve researchers from both Red Hat and BU, and will provide opportunities for students, staff, and faculty to drive new ideas and new technologies.

      • Finance

      • Fedora

        • Fedora Cloud Base Image has a new home!

          When the Fedora Board (the precursor to the current Fedora Council) set up the three-edition strategy for Fedora, we chose three broad areas, and asked interested people in our contributor community to develop focused editions aimed at a target in each area. These were server, desktop, and emerging computing — resulting in Fedora Server, Fedora Workstation, and Fedora Cloud Base Image.

        • Fedora upgrade – Does this work?

          I do have to admit I am surprised – but also quite pleased – with the outcome of my upgrade test. I was expecting it to succeed, true, but then, I also thought there would be some errors, some small bugs or leftovers. Nothing at all. Like a glove. This is a smooth, clean procedure, and Fedora excelled in delivering a professional result. Given that it has significantly improved in stability and quality, this does not come as a complete shocker, then again, it’s a short-lived fast-paced testbed for Red Hat technologies, it’s meant to be brittle and dangerous and living la vida loca.

          This is not the end of this experiment – I need to continue running and testing the system, and make sure Wayland is behaving. Moreover, we should repeat the test on a laptop with an Nvidia card, and that will obviously be a more difficult one, and lo and behold, just recently, I installed Fedora 24 on an older HP laptop, hue hue. We will indeed need to see what the results will come out like. Perhaps horrible. So far though, it would seem the Red Hat family delivers some very consistent, very pleasant results, with CentOS having a spotless record, and Fedora now barging in with its fleeting yet meaningful existence. It also gives me confidence in future endeavors of this kind, and it does show that the world of Linux is trying to embrace quality alongside all the innovation, hecticness, schisms, and re-forking of the cutlery cabinet.

          If you are keen on using Fedora as your day-to-day distribution but do dread the ultra-quick support cycle but also do not feel that interested in CentOS, then you will be most pleased to learn that you can continue to play with Fedora without losing support. All it takes is an occasional (and safe) upgrade. Ubuntu and Mint are still valid options, but with my recent annual score highlighting lots of good stuff in the Fedora world, this is one more reason to hang around with this distribution. Fedora be good. Have fun.

    • Debian Family

      • Stretch preparations before the freeze

        These are the last hours when we can update packages and they migrate to testing after 10 days right before the full freeze on 5 February.

        The latest Wireshark upstream version, 2.2.4 has been released on Monday and it is waiting patiently to be part of next Debian stable.

      • Derivatives

        • Tails 2.10 Amnesic Live System Adds OnionShare Tool for Anonymous File Sharing

          Edward Snowden’s favorite amnesic incognito live system, Tails, has been updated today to major version 2.10, a release that comes with numerous new features, updated components, and the latest technologies for accessing the Tor anonymity network.

        • Worried about your online privacy? Download Linux distro Tails 2.10

          Donald Trump is US president now, and maybe you are happy about that. More power to you. Some folks, however, are terrified of the man. True, he only just started the job, but he has already declared war on the truth by lying about both inaugural crowd size and voter fraud. He has even publicly attacked the press for doing its job. Heck, Trump’s FCC appointee, Ajit Pai, is a known opponent of net neutrality. With all of that said, it can be hard to feel that your privacy will be safe with such a curious administration.

        • Canonical/Ubuntu

          • The Ubuntu Web Browser App Is Getting a New Icon

            The Ubuntu web-browser app is getting a brand new icon after community members said the existing icon looked too similar to the Safari web browser.

          • Do You Still Use The Ubuntu HUD? [Poll]

            Five years ago today Ubuntu introduced the HUD, a (for the time) revolutionary new way of interacting with application menus on the desktop.

            The HUD (which stands for ‘Heads Up Display’) aims to make finding menu items faster using keywords instead of clicks, the idea being to help speed up our workflows by letting us find and use menu commands faster.

          • Ebook: Beginner’s Guide to Ubuntu Package Management
          • Ubuntu 17.04 Continues Prepping For Linux 4.10

            Ubuntu 17.04, the Zesty Zapus, is still planning to ship Linux 4.10 for its kernel when the OS ships in April.

            Linux 4.9 is still in the Zesty repository for now, but via the kernel team’s unstable repository they are tracking upstream and have re-based to Linux 4.10-rc5.

  • Devices/Embedded

Free Software/Open Source

  • Intel Leafhill & ThinkPad L520 Added To Coreboot

    There are some new boards now supported by mainline Coreboot.

    First up, Intel’s “Leafhill” development motherboard is now supported. Leafhill is the codename for this customer reference board (CRB) for Intel Apollo Lake. Going back to last February was initial Apollolake support in Coreboot with FSP 2.0 support.

    Initial Leafhill support was added with this commit and the changes to program it different from the Google “Reef” board where this Coreboot port was based. There are some changes with regards to handling of firmware blobs on this newer hardware, “Apollo Lake silicon requires a boot media region called IFWI which includes assets such as CSE firmware, PMC microcode, CPU microcode, and boot firmware.”

  • WebP 0.6 Coming With Performance Improvements

    For those interested in Google’s WebP lossy/lossless image format that tends to deliver much superior compression vs. quality results to JPEG, a new release is on approach.

    On Tuesday libwebp 0.6-rc1 was imported to Chromium. That was my first time seeing WebP 0.6 references with the current stable release being v0.5.2.

  • Happy birthday to Opensource.com: 7 years of open source

    On our lucky 7th birthday, the Opensource.com team decided to get visual.

  • Designing a Race Car with Open Source Tools
  • Announcing the 2016 Open Source Yearbook: Download now
  • Open Source Year in Review Roundups Now Available

    The year 2016 was a momentous one for open source. From cloud computing platforms to big data and machine learning toolsets, transformative open source tools made more of a difference than ever for organizations large and small.

    Now, some interesting collections of 2016 open source year in review materials are taking shape. Here are a couple of year in review options worth checking into.

  • Technology of the Year 2017: The best hardware, software, and cloud services

    Looking over the winners of the 2017 Technology of the Year Awards, you can’t help but be struck by the startling number of open source projects. For several years now, we’ve watched as the more groundbreaking projects — like Hadoop and MongoDB and AngularJS — leapt from our Best of Open Source Software Awards packages into the rarified air of the Technology of the Year Awards, taking their place not only among the best open source software but among the best products period.

    This year, open source has finally tipped the balance. Among the 32 winners, at least 20 are either open source projects, cloud versions of open source projects, or commercial products with an open source core. The true number is probably higher, considering that many of the other winners are cloud services, which undoubtedly stand on open source foundations and may use open source in their secret sauce.

  • Web Browsers

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice

    • LibreOffice contributor interview: Tamás Bunth

      LibreOffice developers, testers, translators and documentation authors are working hard on LibreOffice 5.3, which is due for release in early February. One contributor to the project, Tamás Bunth, has been helping to improve Base, the database front-end of the suite. We caught up with him to ask how he got involved with LibreOffice and what the community is like…

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

    • Open Access/Content

      • Digital and open source resources open La Crosse classrooms to learning

        Unlike some states, such as Texas, which require school districts to choose from an approved lists of textbooks, Wisconsin leaves the decision in the hands of school districts. When making textbook decisions, La Crosse School District supervisor of instruction and staff development Rob Tyvoll said the discussion starts with state standards.

        Textbook adoption committees identify concepts that need to be taught and bring in vendors to see what they offer. Committee members decide which of the options best fits the needs of the course.

        Textbook review and adoption happens on a cycle, Tyvoll said, which can be expedited in special circumstances, such as when the state adopted the Common Core State Standards in 2010. But Tyvoll said the internet gives teachers access to resources that are much more current than textbooks, allowing classes to stay up to date.

  • Programming/Development

    • 24 Pull Requests challenge encourages fruitful contributions

      In 2012, Andrew Nesbitt was inspired by the 24 Ways to impress your friends advent calendar to start a new project: 24 Pull Requests, an open source contribution event. Participants are challenged to open one pull request for an open source project on GitHub every day from December 1 through December 24.

    • New to Programming? Check out these Outstanding Open Source Programming Books

      Computer programming offers a fascinating career path. It’s full of challenges, a great way of collaborating, teaches you how to think, and most importantly offers a way to improve your life. Become more productive, efficient, and effective in life by learning the discipline of coding.

  • Standards/Consortia

    • A WebRTC-like Standard for the Internet of Things? It’s Complicated

      Building the connections for the Internet of Things (IoT) is challenging, since applications, services, and devices of all different shapes, sizes, and requirements have to seamlessly communicate. In an ideal world, we would have a WebRTC-like interface standard accessible through HTML, but it’s not going to be that simple, says the Open Connectivity Foundation (OCF).

    • OCI’s Push For Open Container Standards Continues in 2017

      As we kick off 2017 and look ahead to the coming year, I want to take some time to reflect back on what the Open Container Initiative (OCI) community accomplished in 2016 and how far we’ve come in a short time since we were founded as a Linux Foundation project a little over a year ago.

Leftovers

  • Hardware

    • ASUS PRIME Z270-P Kabylake Motherboard Works Fine On Linux

      The ASUS PRIME Z270-P is a modestly-priced Z270 motherboard at around $130 USD, it’s not on the cheap end but also not close to being one of the more expensive Z270 series boards. The PRIME Z270-P I picked up for its combination of price and features, including dual M.2 slots, plenty of USB 3.0 connectivity, ready for Intel’s forthcoming Optane Memory, and all of the other essentials for being a solid Kabylake motherboard.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • WaPo Factcheck Attack on Sanders’ ACA Warning at Odds With Actual Facts

      With the New York Times finally agreeing to name politicians’ lies where they belong—in the headlines of the stories where they first occur—it’s time to end the failed experiment of factchecking columns. Not only do these projects give the false impression that checking facts is a sidelight rather than central to the journalistic mission, they are fatally compromised by corporate media’s interest in maintaining the illusion of impartiality.

    • Dutch government to set up international abortion fund, to counteract Donald Trump’s aid ban

      The Netherlands is seeking to set up an overseas abortion fund to counteract Donald Trump’s recent ban against funding international groups which give women information about terminations.

      Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation Lilianne Ploumen for the Dutch government has announced she intends to establish an international fund which would finance projects relating to access for birth control, abortion and women’s education, throughout developing countries.

      Ms Ploumen announced the plan in reaction to an extensive memorandum signed by Mr Trump to restrict access to information on abortion for women who are in receipt of aid from international development groups.

    • Medicines Patent Pool TB Deal Praised But Raises Concerns Of Affordability

      The Medicines Patent Pool announced today that it has signed a license agreement with Johns Hopkins University for a candidate tuberculosis treatment. Although seen as a major step forward by public health groups, they said the agreement does not include guarantees that the treatment that could be brought to the market would be affordable for all.

    • Judge cites “persuasive evidence” that Aetna withdrew from ACA exchanges to evade regulatory oversight

      In a federal court decision that blocked its planned merger with Humana, health insurance giant Aetna has been called out for withdrawing from most Affordable Care Act exchanges in order to evade regulatory oversight.

      U. S. District Judge John Bates wrote there is “persuasive evidence” that Aetna left the Affordable Care Act exchanges in 17 counties in 11 states not “for business reasons, but instead to follow through on the threat that it made earlier,” according to a CNN Money report on Tuesday. The decision, Bates argued, was made “specifically to evade judicial scrutiny” in connection with its planned Humana deal.

      The “threat” that Judge Bates can be traced back to last summer. In July the Department of Justice blocked Aetna’s planned $34 billion merger with Humana because the government claimed the move would violate antitrust laws. Prior to this, however, CEO Mark Bertolini had written a letter to the Department of Justice warning that “it is very likely that we would need to leave the public exchange business entirely . . . should our deal ultimately be blocked.”

    • WHO Director Candidates Down To Three, Europe Drops In Ranking

      The outcome was hard to predict as voting is secret and governments were generally tight-lipped about who they were supporting, though they were lobbied by the various candidates at receptions and other locales during the week. The only WHO member states voting in this round were the 34 members of the Executive Board, and each voted for their top three choices.

      The results held some surprises but given the unpredictability, people would be unsurprised by almost any outcome. Today’s vote showed a dramatic shift in support for Bustreo, who dropped from 33 yesterday to 12 votes today. This was not explained at press time. It is also interesting that yesterday the four European candidates garnered a total of 104 votes and today this dropped to a total of 44 with three candidates, the bottom three finishers.

  • Security

    • New Tor Security Updates Patch DoS Bug That Let Attackers Crash Relays, Clients

      Two new Tor security updates have been published recently, stable version 2.9.9.9 and development release 0.3.0.2 Alpha, patching a few important vulnerabilities discovered lately.

    • Security updates for Tuesday
    • Wireshark 2.2.4 Open-Source Network Protocol Analyzer Released with Bug Fixes

      Wireshark, the world’s most popular network protocol analyzer software, has been updated today to version 2.2.4, the fourth bugfix and security update to the stable 2.2 series.

      Wireshark 2.2.4 comes approximately five weeks after maintenance update 2.2.3 and provides patches for two recently discovered vulnerabilities, namely wnpa-sec-2017-01 and wnpa-sec-2017-01. While the first one could make the ASTERIX dissector go into an infinite loop, the second could make the DHCPv6 dissector go into a large loop.

    • Penguins force-fed root: Cruel security flaw found in systemd v228

      Some Linux distros will need to be updated following the discovery of an easily exploitable flaw in a core system management component.

      The CVE-2016-10156 security hole in systemd v228 opens the door to privilege escalation attacks, creating a means for hackers to root systems locally if not across the internet. The vulnerability is fixed in systemd v229.

    • Linux Systemd Flaw Gives Attackers Root Access

      Security researcher Sebastian Krahmer has recently discovered that a previously known security flaw in the systemd project can be used for more than crashing a Linux distro but also to grant local attackers root access to the device.

    • Bad bots account for 30 per cent of all web traffic

      OH LORD, THE INTERNET HAS A BAD TIME OF IT. According to a report from Imperva, it spends around a third of its time trafficking bot crap that no one wants.

      The Imperva Incapsula Bot Traffic Report is a regular thing from the firm, and it bases its study on more than 16.7 billion visits to some 100,000 randomly-selected domains on its Incapsula network. It has found, for an almost consistent five years, that bots account for more traffic than actual bloody people, though only by a slight margin and not in 2015.

      “In 2015 we documented a downward shift in bot activity on our network, resulting in a drop below the 50 per cent line for the first time in years. In 2016 we witnessed a correction of that trend, with bot traffic scaling back to 51.8 per cent—only slightly higher than what it was in 2012,” explains the firm.

    • Trojan Transforms Linux Devices into Proxies for Malicious Traffic
    • Linux nasty kicks weak, hacked gadgets when they’re already down

      Several thousand Linux devices have been infected with a new Linux-based trojan, Russian security software firm Doctor Web warns.

      The Linux-Proxy-10 Trojan infects network devices running Linux, turning them into a platform for cybercrime that allows crooks to remain anonymous online. Black hats run freeware code called the Satanic Socks Server on infected devices.

      Miscreants hack into devices that are running with default passwords or are already infected with Linux malware in order to plant the malware.

    • A note about security after a possible security issue was discovered

      In future I would appreciate being told in private about any possible security issues. It’s standard procedure to notify people in private to give them time to fix it. Putting it out in public right away, to be blunt, is a completely irresponsible thing to do. Luckily, we aren’t a bank or anything that stores any sensitive information.

    • Tips and Tricks for Making VM Migration More Secure

      A challenge for any cloud installation is the constant tradeoff of availability versus security. In general, the more fluid your cloud system (i.e., making virtualized resources available on demand more quickly and easily), the more your system becomes open to certain cyberattacks. This tradeoff is perhaps most acute during active virtual machine (VM) migration, when a VM is moved from one physical host to another transparently, without disruption of the VM’s operations. Live virtual machine migration is a crucial operation in the day-to-day management of modern cloud environment.

    • Apollo Lake thin Mini-ITX board focuses on security

      Kontron’s “mITX-APL” thin Mini-ITX board offers Intel Apollo Lake SoCs with triple displays, dual GbE, dual SATA 3.0, mini-PCIe, and Kontron Secure Solution.

    • 7 ways we harden our KVM hypervisor at Google Cloud: Security in plaintext

      Google Cloud uses the open-source KVM hypervisor that has been validated by scores of researchers as the foundation of Google Compute Engine and Google Container Engine, and invests in additional security hardening and protection based on our research and testing experience. Then we contribute back our changes to the KVM project, benefiting the overall open-source community.

    • Look before you paste from a website to terminal

      Malicious code’s color is set to that of the background, it’s font size is set to 0, it is moved away from rest of the code and it is made un-selectable (that blue color thing doesn’t reveal it); to make sure that it works in all possible OSes, browsers and screen sizes.

      This can be worse. If the code snippet had a command with sudo for instance, the malicious code will have sudo access too. Or, it can silently install a keylogger on your machine; possibilities are endless. So, the lesson here is, make sure that you paste code snippets from untrusted sources onto a text editor before executing it.

  • Defence/Aggression

    • The Unknown Enemy in Plain Sight

      A survey conducted in fourteen Muslim states revealed the indigent were considerably less supportive of terrorism than those who were affluent.[iv] An MI5 report determined that at least 60% of terror suspects were highly educated and economically well off.[v] Much the same picture emerged from a study undertaken by France’s Center for Prevention Deradicalization and Individual Monitoring which concluded that two-thirds of those who had left France to fight for the Islamic State hailed from middle-class families.[vi] Having interviewed 250 surviving Palestinian suicide bombers, scholar Nasra Hassan noted that “none of them were uneducated, desperately poor, simple-minded, or depressed. Many were middle class and, unless they were fugitives, held paying jobs…two were sons of millionaires.”[vii] What did characterize each and every one of them was that they were “all deeply religious.”[viii] As Alan Kreuger of Princeton University and Jitka Maleckova of Charles University, Prague, determined, there is little direct connection between poverty and terror.[ix]

    • 50% Indian IS recruits follow this EXTREME school of Islam

      Officials from the National Investigation Agency who are probing all IS-related cases say out of those arrested for ties with the outfit, only 20 per cent had studied in a madrasa. The rest had gone to regular schools and colleges and are also highly-qualified.

      This shows that it is not the old school of thought which has driven youth towards the IS. The IS has successfully managed to capture the imagination of several Muslim youth through propaganda. The dream of the Caliphate or the virgins in heaven are some of the points that have been driven into the minds of youth who took to the IS.

    • [Old] Did Manning Help Avert War in Iran?
    • Trump’s Muslim Immigration Executive Order: If We Bombed You, We Ban You

      An executive order that President Trump is expected to sign shortly restricts visits and immigration from seven Muslim-majority countries: Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Yemen, and Iran.

      The draft text of the order was leaked to the Huffington Post and Los Angeles Times. Titled “Protecting the Nation from Terrorist Attacks by Foreign Nationals,” it would suspend the issuance of visas for at least 30 days to most people in the seven countries while the administration revamps its vetting procedures. Most citizens of foreign countries must first obtain a visa before being allowed to enter the United States.

      “In order to protect Americans, we must ensure that those admitted to this country do not bear hostile attitudes toward our country and its founding principles,” the draft reads, justifying this blanket prohibition.

      The draft relies on Division O, Title II, Section 203 of the 2016 Consolidated Appropriations Act, which lays out security-related exemptions to the visa waiver program, to derive that list of seven countries. In the 2016 law, Iraq and Syria are explicitly listed, Iran and Sudan are included as state sponsors of terrorism, and Libya, Somalia, and Yemen are in the “area of concern” as designated by the Department of Homeland Security.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • Database CIA Claimed Too Difficult To Compile For FOIA Requesters Released In Full On CIA Website

      The CIA has millions of declassified records stashed away in Maryland — something it claimed was accessible to the public. Actual access, however, resembles something out of Terry Gilliam’s “Brazil,” rather than what any reasonable person would call “accessible.”

      This so-called “publicly accessible” database — known as CREST — has been the target of MuckRock contributor Mike Best, who kickstarted an effort to liberate records from the vault through the use of manual labor. The records can be accessed by computer, but only certain computers, and only if you know exactly where to find them.

      This is the CIA’s “publicly available” records system front-end.

    • DOJ, DOS, DHS, DOD, SEC, EEOC, EPA, And NSA Sued For Records On Trump’s Attorney General Nominee, Jeff Sessions

      Multiple federal agencies are in violation of the Freedom of Information Act. Investigative journalist Jason Leopold and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) PhD candidate/Harvard Klein Center for Internet & Society research affiliate, Ryan Shapiro, filed a lawsuit this morning against the Department of Justice (DOJ), Department of State (DOS), Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the Department of Defense (DOD), the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission (EEOC), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the National Security Agency (NSA). The suit is over the agencies’ failure to comply with Shapiro and Leopold’s Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request for records on President Trump’s nominee for Attorney General, Jeff Sessions.

    • Lawsuit filed to get information on Sessions

      A lawsuit has been filed against eight federal agencies seeking records on President Trump’s nominee for attorney general, Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.).

      Journalist Jason Leopold and Ryan Shapiro, a doctoral candidate at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), filed the lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia on Tuesday.

      They assert that the agencies have failed to comply with their request for documents under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • Standing Rock may be the first battle site in Trump’s war on the environment
    • Trump approves pipelines as a way to put ‘America First.’ But will they really?
    • Dakota Access protesters demonstrate outside White House against Donald Trump expediting pipeline projects
    • President Trump Says the Dakota Access Pipeline ‘Serves the National Interest,’ Yet It Threatens Indian Rights and the Drinking Water of 18 Million People

      President Trump’s decision to fast-track the Dakota pipeline will likely steamroll over Indian rights.

      STANDING ROCK INDIAN RESERVATION, N.D. — President Trump’s executive order yesterday has an impressive-sounding title: “Expediting Environmental Reviews and Approvals for High-Priority Infrastructure Projects.” What the title really should say, however, is: “How to Make Money for Big Oil Real Fast Despite the Human and Environmental Costs.”

      The executive order makes no reference to the Dakota Access Pipeline, the 1,100-mile pipeline being constructed to carry nearly 500 million gallons of fracked crude oil from North Dakota to Illinois each day. Yet expediting the construction of DAPL is the obvious goal of the executive order. In fact, Trump signed a presidential memorandum at the same time he signed the executive order, stating his belief that construction of the pipeline would “serve the national interest.”

      Unfortunately, Trump doesn’t mention in either the executive order or the memorandum that completing the construction of DAPL will require the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to issue a permit allowing the pipeline to be constructed underneath the Missouri River, just north of the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation in North Dakota. He doesn’t mention that the route of the pipeline was first planned to traverse land further north until white landowners complained, causing a change in the route. He doesn’t mention that a leak of oil in the Missouri River would not only threaten federally protected water rights belonging to the Standing Rock Sioux but would pollute water used by some 18 million persons. He doesn’t mention that completion of DAPL would destroy sacred sites of the tribe. And, finally, he doesn’t mention that the owner of the company building DAPL contributed more than $100,000 to his election campaign.

    • How Keystone XL and Dakota Access went from opposition to resurrection
    • The Dakota Access Water Protectors Were Leaving—Then Came Trump’s Order
    • A Bad Day for the Environment, with Many More to Come

      Tuesday began with news that the Trump Administration had imposed a comprehensive gag order on employees of the Environmental Protection Agency. According to a leaked memo, “no press releases,” “no blog messages,” and “no social media will be going out,” and “no new content can be placed on any website” until further notice—perhaps an attempt to camouflage the other big E.P.A. announcement, which was that the agency’s grants and contracts had been temporarily frozen, effectively halting its work. Then, at nine o’clock, the President had breakfast with a group of beaming auto executives. Trump told them that he was “to a large extent an environmentalist,” but apparently his long participation in that movement had persuaded him that “environmentalism is out of control.” The last time Detroit’s C.E.O.s came to the White House, in 2011, President Obama got them to agree, grudgingly, to increase average fuel economy to 54.5 miles per gallon, a pledge they now hope to recant. The day went on. Just before noon—surrounded by his increasingly familiar cast of white guys in suits—Trump signed an executive order expediting approvals for the Keystone and Dakota Access pipelines, thus overturning perhaps the two biggest environmental victories of the Obama years, both of which the advocacy organization I helped found, 350.org, fought for vigorously.

    • Action Alert: NYT Turns to Oil Consultant to Minimize Trump’s Climate Damage

      Donald Trump’s orders to “revive” the Keystone and Dakota Access pipeline projects, whose progress had been slowed by the Obama administration, are much ado about nothing, the New York Times (1/24/17) reported: “The pipelines were more about symbol than substance but generated enormous passion on both sides of the debate,” wrote the Times‘ Peter Baker and Coral Davenport.

      [...]

      But for the sake of the argument, let’s go with the Times‘ energy analyst-approved estimate of “less than 1 percent” of total US greenhouse emissions. Imagine that percentage in the jobs discussion: With 123 million full-time employees in the US at present, “less than 1 percent” would be roughly a million jobs. If there were credible claims that the pipeline would create a million jobs, year after year, would the Times claim that that was not a “momentous effect” on jobs? That such an impact on employment would be “more about symbol than substance”?

      Yet the New York Times is making exactly those assertions about Keystone’s impact on the climate, in the service of false balance and downplaying the impact of Trump’s anti-environmental moves.

    • Trump silences government scientists with gag orders

      Less than a week after the inauguration, the Trump administration has already gagged employees at two federal agencies. Memos obtained by various media outlets show that scientists at the Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Agriculture are now blocked from communicating with the public and the press.

      At the EPA, whose grants and contract budget have also been frozen, employees are not allowed to talk about this change to reporters or on social media. The EPA is responsible for passing and upholding regulations on issues such as clean air and water and the carbon emissions responsible for global warming. The nominee for EPA head, Scott Pruitt, has made a career out of suing the EPA and trying to weaken its environmental regulations.

      Scientists at the research division of the US Department of Agriculture are no longer allowed to communicate with the public about taxpayer-funded research. In general, the USDA is less politically sensitive than the EPA, though it does do some research into genetically modified food and pesticides. That said, it has used research money to investigate how to cut down methane, a greenhouse gas that is a major cause of climate change.

    • Trump administration freezes EPA grants, bans employees from giving updates via social media

      The Trump administration has frozen grants and contracts by the Environmental Protection Agency, according to ProPublica, and blocked employees from providing updates on this change via social media. This could have big effects on the agency’s budget and severely undercut its efforts.

      In an email obtained by ProPublica, one EPA contractor writes that: “The new EPA administration has asked that all contract and grant awards be temporarily suspended, effective immediately. Until we receive further clarification, this includes task orders and work assignments.”

      Also, employees have been banned from providing updates to reporters or on social media. The internal memo specifies that no press releases will go out to external audiences, there will be “no blog messages” and media requests will be carefully screened. (Interestingly, the Department of Energy, a fellow federal agency, recently released new guidelines that specifically protects contractors and ensures that they can state their personal opinions.)

    • Donald Trump claims ‘environmentalism is out of control’

      President Donald Trump has claimed that “environmentalism is out of control”.

      Mr Trump spent the morning meeting with auto executives as part of a push to bring jobs back to the US. Mr Trump told his guests at the White House that he was looking to ease regulations to help car companies and other businesses wishing to operate in the US.

      Among the attendees at the breakfast meeting were Ford chief executive Mark Fields, Fiat Chrysler chairman Sergio Marchionne and General Motors chief executive Mary Barra.

    • Trump clears Keystone XL, Dakota Access pipelines

      US President Donald Trump has signed two executive actions to advance the building of the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines.

    • Commerce nominee Ross promises to protect “peer-reviewed research” at NOAA

      Under Wilbur Ross, President Trump’s nominee to lead the Department of Commerce, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) will continue to provide accurate and factual data to the public, including peer-reviewed research, without political filters, Ross wrote last night in a letter to Senator Bill Nelson (D–FL), the ranking member of the Senate’s Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation.

    • Trump nominee pledges to shield NOAA climate scientists from intimidation, censorship

      Climate scientists throughout the federal government are fearing an onslaught of budget cuts and censorship policies from the President Donald Trump administration, with sweeping changes expected governing how climate science is funded and communicated to the public.

      Some of this has already begun. On Monday, scientists at the Environmental Protection Agency were told not to talk to the press, and a similar order was reportedly sent out to employees of the Agriculture Department, which includes the U.S. Forest Service.

    • Trump Administration Imposes Freeze On EPA Grants and Contracts

      The Trump administration has imposed a freeze on grants and contracts by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, a move that could affect a significant part of the agency’s budget allocations and even threaten to disrupt core operations ranging from toxic cleanups to water quality testing, according to records and interviews.

    • Breaking: White House Implies DAPL, Keystone XL, Are On

      President Donald Trump plans to overturn the U.S. Department of the Army’s denial of the last easement for the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) to be drilled under the Missouri River at Lake Oahe, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer implied on January 23.

      Spicer “gave first hints that the new administration would move forward” with both the DAPL and the Keystone XL pipeline, projects that were halted or put on hold after fierce grassroots opposition, reported The Independent.

    • Trump orders revival of Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines

      Donald Trump was sharply criticised by Native Americans and climate change activists on Tuesday after he signed executive orders to allow construction of the Dakota Access and Keystone XL oil pipelines.

      Both pipe projects had been blocked by Barack Obama’s administration, partly because of environmental concerns. But Trump has questioned the science of climate change and campaigned on a promise to expand energy infrastructure and create jobs.

    • Americans overwhelmingly support clean energy, even if their new president doesn’t

      Throughout his campaign to become president of the United States, Donald Trump promised to bring back coal jobs and pump up fossil fuel production. The promises won him points in some constituencies, but his plans are in direct confrontation with the opinion of a majority of Americans—especially young people—who overwhelmingly prefer to focus on renewable power, and are increasingly getting jobs in clean energy.

      Just 27% of Americans surveyed this month by the Pew Research Center, a think tank, said they thought the US should prioritize expanding the coal, oil, and gas industries, while 65% thought alternatives like wind and solar should be the priority. (The remainder of the 1,502 US adults Pew surveyed didn’t express an opinion.)

    • Social Media Made the World Care About Standing Rock—and Helped It Forget

      A thousand protesters stayed put. The snow piled up around their tepees, but they dug in as caravans of supporters and journalists drove away. The Dakota Access Company planned to run the last segment of an oil pipeline under Lake Oahe, but the Army Corps of Engineers had given the protesters a reprieve when it ordered an an environmental review of the project in early December. Still, this core group of Standing Rock Sioux seemed to know that when the spotlight faded and the hashtags stopped trending, their fortunes could change. They knew what could happen if the world stopped watching—and the world did, thanks in no small part to the platforms that made the protests so visible in the first place.

    • Trump takes action to move forward with Keystone, Dakota Access pipelines

      President Trump on Tuesday moved two controversial pipeline projects forward by signing a pair of executive actions that could speed up approval of the Keystone XL and Dakota Access projects.

      In an Oval Office ceremony, Trump said the actions would create new jobs in the United States, and that the pipelines should be built with U.S. steel and labor.

      “We will build our own pipeline, we will build our own pipes, like we used to, in the old days,” Trump said as he held up one of his actions to television cameras brought into the Oval Office to broadcast the event.

  • Finance

    • We broke the Panama Papers story. Here’s how to investigate Donald Trump

      Donald Trump is now president. This challenges many of us, not least members of the press. Countless reporters are still shaken and stunned by how he singled out a CNN reporter, one of the most respected news outlets in the world, to attack and humiliate him during his first press conference since winning the elections. Worryingly, none of his fellow journalists in the room stood up for him at the time.

      This wasn’t Trump’s first attack on the press, and it certainly won’t be his last. The first White House press briefing, held on Saturday, featured bullying, threats and unproven claims. That is why a new level of solidarity and cooperation is needed among the fourth estate.

      American journalists should stop him from dividing their ranks – however hard their professional competition may be. They should do the opposite: unite, share and collaborate. Even if doing so would mean embracing something quite unfamiliar and new to American journalism.

      [...]

      And if Trump stops this reporter, too, then the next one should repeat the original question, and so on. This would be a new, unusual approach. But if the media doesn’t want to see more press conferences like the disastrous one we saw recently, they will need to be bold.

      The next level of solidarity and cooperation is even more challenging. Let us assume a source approaches a reporter of the Washington Post with important information which is hard for them to corroborate. Why not reach out to a colleague who already did work on this topic, even if at a rival publication – the New York Times, CNN, ProPublica, Fox News or where ever – for help? They might have the missing piece of the puzzle, they might have the vital second source and they might have what it takes to publish the story. So why not collaborate?

    • China’s richest man buys Nordic cinema firm for $930m

      Chinese conglomerate Wanda Group said its US-based AMC Theatres chain will buy the Nordic region’s largest cinema operator for $930 million, further expanding the company’s world-beating cinema empire.

      Wanda said late Monday the acquisition of Stockholm-based Nordic Cinema Group Holding AB, which owns Sweden’s largest cinema chain SF Bio, brings the Chinese property-to-entertainment giant “one step closer to reaching the goal of taking 20 percent of (the) world’s film-market share”.

    • Supreme Court rules Act of Parliament is needed to initiate UK leaving the EU

      Yesterday, sitting in an unprecedented composition of all 11 judges, the UK Supreme Court ruled by an 8 : 3 majority that the Government cannot initiate the process for the UK leaving the EU (the notification under Article 50 of the TEU) by itself using the Royal Prerogative, but instead an Act of Parliament is needed. The decision itself and the press summary can be found on the Supreme Court website.

      This is the constitutional case of a generation, and the result was eagerly awaited. The hearing, held over four days, had been live streamed and so attracted huge attention. This Kat feels he should blog about it, having covered the earlier decision of the Divisional Court that unanimously reached the same conclusion. But he finds himself strangely unexcited by the Supreme Court decision, in large part because the majority decision reaches the same conclusion on the main issue for similar reasons as the earlier judgment. It is clearer and more thoroughly argued, because the case was more thoroughly and better presented at the Supreme Court than at first instance, where it seemed to this Kat that the Government was barely arguing its position but instead assuming the result that it sought to persuade.

      There has already been written a host of blogposts and newspaper articles on the Supreme Court decision – interested readers have probably read some already, but if not you can do worse than start here for a short account. So instead this Kat will record some perhaps peripheral reflections after a day of consideration.

    • Trump’s wall: Mexican construction firms likely to be biggest winners

      The biggest winners from the construction of Donald Trump’s “big, beautiful, powerful” wall along the US-Mexico border are likely to be Mexican cement companies and construction workers.

      The US president was expected to sign executive orders on Wednesday laying the groundwork for the construction of his signature policy multibillion-dollar wall, which he has promised will keep out “Mexican rapists and drug dealers” and will be paid for by Mexico.

    • Indonesia Scraps Plan to Join TPP

      The Indonesian government is likely to scrap its plan to join the Trans-Pacific Partnership if the United States withdraws from the forum, Dewi Fortuna Anwar, deputy for government policy supports at the Vice Presidential Secretariat said on Wednesday, January 25, 2017.

      “So, the focus is to build a mutual bilateral relationship,” Dewi said after welcoming the US Ambassador to Indonesia Joseph Donovan at the Vice Presidential Office in Jakarta on Wednesday, January 25, 2017.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Trump Orders Crimes Against Humanity By USA

      USA is a signatory to the 1967 Protocol on the status of refugees. USA agreed not to discriminate against refugees, to assist them in many ways including providing travel-documents. There is an exception for “national security” but refugees generally are no threat whatsoever.

    • Trump Is Said to Keep James Comey as F.B.I. Director

      The F.B.I. director, James B. Comey, told his top agents from around the country that he had been asked by President Trump to stay on the job running the federal government’s top law enforcement agency, according to people familiar with the matter.

      A decision to retain Mr. Comey would spare the president another potentially bruising confirmation battle. It would also keep Mr. Comey at the center of the F.B.I.’s investigation into several Trump associates and their potential ties with the Russian government.

      Retaining Mr. Comey could also help calm the bureau’s work force, which has been rattled after a tumultuous few months in which the F.B.I. and the director himself were sharply criticized for moves that many felt influenced the outcome of the presidential election.

    • Donald Trump’s watching a lot of television, and it’s worrying his aides: reports

      President Donald Trump is obsessed with the media — consuming it, reacting to it and desiring positive depictions in it. That obsession arises not only out of egotism but also, as recent reports have revealed, from a seemingly uncontrollable fixation on them. (The word “addiction” is not being used here literally but when reading about his media consumption habits, a fitting substitute is difficult to come up with.)

      “Print copies of three newspapers,” wrote Mike Allen and Jim VandeHei of Axios in a Tuesday article describing the president’s media habits on Tuesday. “When Billy Bush was on, ‘Access Hollywood’ every night. TiVo of the morning and evening news shows so he can watch the tops of all of them. Always ’60 Minutes.’ Often ‘Meet the Press.’ Lots of New York talk radio.”

    • Trump is reportedly still using his unsecured Android phone
    • Trump is apparently still using his unsecured Android phone

      Last week, we reported that Trump had somewhat begrudgingly trading his beloved Android phone in for something more secure. An unnamed encrypted device with a phone number that “few people possess.” At the time, it seemed to put to rest the question of whether the new president would finally abandon his personal Twitter machine for the sake of national security.

    • There’s Nothing Stopping Trump From Using His Personal Phone

      It’s impossible to overstate the inseparability of Donald Trump and his Android phone. The 70 year-old doesn’t email, and once said that “computers have complicated lives very greatly.” But for someone who doesn’t really get how the internet works, Trump has disproportionately relied on his phone to communicate with the outside world, primarily through Twitter.

      So when it came time for Trump to surrender his Android for a government-sanctioned device, he was allegedly, yet predictably, unhappy. The headlines swiftly poured in. Some outlets likened the physical transfer of power to a child having their favorite toy taken away.

    • Why Trump’s Staff Is Lying

      One of the most striking features of the early Trump administration has been its political uses of lying. The big weekend story was the obviously false claim of Donald Trump’s press secretary, Sean Spicer, that Trump pulled in the largest inauguration crowds in American history. This raises the question of why a leader might find it advantageous to promote such lies from his subordinates.

      First and most obviously, the leader wishes to mislead the public, and wants to have subordinates doing so, in part because many citizens won’t pursue fact-checking. But that’s the obvious explanation, and the truth runs much deeper.

      By requiring subordinates to speak untruths, a leader can undercut their independent standing, including their standing with the public, with the media and with other members of the administration. That makes those individuals grow more dependent on the leader and less likely to mount independent rebellions against the structure of command. Promoting such chains of lies is a classic tactic when a leader distrusts his subordinates and expects to continue to distrust them in the future.

    • Seymour Hersh Blasts Media for Uncritically Promoting Russian Hacking Story

      Hersh denounced news organizations as “crazy town” for their uncritical promotion of the pronouncements of the director of national intelligence and the CIA, given their track records of lying and misleading the public.

      “The way they behaved on the Russia stuff was outrageous,” Hersh said when I sat down with him at his home in Washington, D.C., two days after Trump was inaugurated. “They were just so willing to believe stuff. And when the heads of intelligence give them that summary of the allegations, instead of attacking the CIA for doing that, which is what I would have done,” they reported it as fact. Hersh said most news organizations missed an important component of the story: “the extent to which the White House was going and permitting the agency to go public with the assessment.”

    • A Mosque and an Islamic School Now Stand in the Place of the Armenian Church of Samsun

      In a short TV report, the local “Samsun Haber TV” station (samsunhaber.tc) recently covered the Armenian past of the Selahiye neighborhood in the northern Turkish city of Samsun.

      In the report, Emin Kirbiyik, the head of the Samsun Local History Community, said that the 30 August Islamic Imam-Hatip Middle School, which offers an Islamic curriculum to pupils, and the Selahiye mosque in the neighborhood, were built on the property that housed an Armenian church before 1915. The church Kirbiyik refers to is the Surp Nigogayos Armenian Apostolic Church.

    • Donald Trump dogged by insecurity over popular vote, media coverage

      Donald Trump holds the most powerful office in the world. But he’s dogged by insecurity over his loss of the popular vote in the election and a persistent frustration that the legitimacy of his presidency is being challenged by Democrats and the media, aides and associates say.

      Trump’s fixation has been a drag on the momentum of his opening days in office, with his exaggerations about inauguration crowds and false assertions about illegal balloting intruding on advisers’ plans to launch his presidency with a flurry of actions on the economy. His spokesman Sean Spicer has twice stepped into the fray himself, including on Tuesday, when he doubled down on Trump’s false claim that he lost the popular vote because 3 million to 5 million people living in the U.S. illegally cast ballots.

    • Dawn of the Resistance

      There is deep popular opposition to the legitimacy of a presidency occupied by this toxic, twittering human smokestack of polluted right-wing demagoguery. Indeed, Trump faces widespread antipathy for his racist border wall plan, proposed Muslim registry, and planned attacks on health care rights. His history of demeaning women as some sort of patriarchal birthright, coupled with an entitled silver spoon mentality that he thinks gives him free rein to insult, threaten, and bully anyone who challenges him, evoke for many only public revulsion. For many Trump is now perceived as the ultimate concierge of corrupt capitalism, a man whose economic orientation in office will translate into angling for every possible “deal” to further enrich the super-wealthy corporate class.

      Unlike former president Obama or candidate Clinton, many tens of millions of ordinary Americans are not asking everyone to give Trump a chance or wishing him “success.” They’re not talking about how as Americans we’re “all on the same team.” Nor are they clamoring to assist Trump’s advisory Strategic and Policy Forum on economic issues, as many of Clinton’s most influential corporate supporters are doing.

      We have to “throw sand in the gears of everything,” instead declares Frances Moore Lappe in a recent Nation essay. Good idea. That means escalating the defiance, escalating the resistance, stoking the fires of mass protest everywhere they smolder. The moment cries out for new political leadership, for grassroots working-class activism, and for a way out of the stagnant swamp of the corporate two-party system.

    • David Brooks’ Anti-PC Screed: Women’s March Edition

      David Brooks gets paid extremely well, by an extremely influential media organization, to have extremely banal opinions. This much is known.

      What isn’t known is why the New York Times keeps allowing him to publish the same banal opinions over and over again. For the tenth time in as many months, the Times let Brooks (1/24/17) take a current issue—in this case, the worldwide Women’s March—and jam it into his boilerplate grievance against what he perceives as ineffectual, harmful “identity politics.”

    • Resistance to the New Trump Regime

      Recorded on Inauguration Day, this edition includes interviews with three organizers of opposition or resistance to the new Trump regime. Also on the program, the hosts discuss recent important stories not reported — or misreported — by corporate media.

    • Punch Early, Punch Often – Smashing the Far Right

      In the article, Van Buren says that if you condone the act of punching a Nazi then you must condone the act of ripping a hijab off a woman’s head. That he considers these two things equivalent speaks volumes of the ‘moderate’ tendency to empty acts, and indeed words, of their meaning. Ripping a hijab off a woman’s head is an act of oppression. It says that this woman, who has said or done nothing to threaten anyone is a legitimate target for hatred and violence. Punching a Nazi on the other hand, is an act of self defence. Nazi’s are not just using words to get their point across, they are organising physical violence against people of colour, Muslims, LGBT folk and left wing radicals; They are actively threatening the lives of people who are different or who disagree with their world view. Their world view is to eradicate freedom in it’s entirety for the vast majority of human beings. That’s why they should be physically confronted, that’s why their movement must be smashed before it can wreak too much havoc.

      [...]

      In Britain, France, Germany, Austria, Greece and the USA, the far right is a tangible threat to the freedom of the vast majority of humanity. Constitutional rights won’t stop them, only an organised anti-fascist movement that is well organised, prepared to take the fight to the fascists, to snuff out their ideas in their infancy and keep fighting until their movement is back in the dustbin of history where it belongs. We will be harshly judged by the future generations if we let them rise again.

    • Trump’s perverse populism

      How Trump’s “America First” platform distorts populism to protect the powerful.

    • Recidivism Watch: Spicer uses repeatedly debunked citations for Trump’s voter fraud claims

      Spicer cited repeatedly debunked research to support Trump’s claim that millions of people voted illegally during the 2016 presidential election. These studies do not support Trump’s Four-Pinocchio claims of “millions” of people voting illegally — as we’ve covered here, here, here, here and here.

      Spicer claimed Trump believes there was widespread voter fraud, based on studies that were presented to him. Then Spicer cited a Pew study that — as we noted before — does not support this claim. Moreover, Spicer conflated the Pew study with another study that — again — does not support this claim.

    • Jill Stein, Chase Iron Eyes and Tim Canova Trace the Path Forward for Progressives

      On Saturday, 2016 presidential candidate Jill Stein spoke with law professor Tim Canova at the Green Party’s Inaugurate the Resistance event at the Hamilton Crowne Plaza in Washington, D.C. They considered whether the Democratic Party is reformable and debated the importance of its progressive wing. Their discussion also covered the future of the two dominant parties and the importance of grass-roots movements.

      At that same event, Chase Iron Eyes, an American Indian activist and member of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, explored the importance of nonviolent resistance, the assault on Native American culture and women, and the situation on the ground in North Dakota concerning the Dakota Access pipeline.

    • Why Trump brings clapping, laughing sycophants to his press events and appearances

      The press reported cheering at Donald’s press conference and at his address at the CIA memorial, and it turned out to be his staffers, an entourage of fawning sycophants paid to clap. It’s funny, at first. Then you realize that it’s a grotesque headgame that is only going to get worse.

    • This is Psychological Warfare

      The clapping and laughing you hear in both instances are Trump’s own people, who initiate and get the crowd to follow. They are sycophants who he brings to cheer him on and make it seem like what he’s saying is being well-received. And it’s working.

      The laugh track was invented to cue the audience to the jokes and encourage laughter in response. But it has another effect: if you hear people laughing and you’re not, you start to question if maybe there’s something wrong with you for not getting it. You might even impulsively start laughing just to fit in, not because you think anything is funny.

    • How many metro rides were taken during Women’s March Vs Trump inauguration

      1,001,616 paid rides were taken on the DC Metro on the day of the Women’s March on Washington. Compare that to 570,557 rides taken on the day Trump was sworn into office, which is even less than the number of rides taken on the average weekday.

    • I Was at Trump’s Inauguration. It Was Tiny.

      On Friday, I spent roughly nine hours—from 6 am to 3 pm—on the streets of drizzling Washington, DC, inside and outside the Secret Service checkpoints at Donald Trump’s inauguration. I have been to every inauguration since 1997, gauging the size and enthusiasm of the crowds. It’s fun and a perk of living in DC.

      I wasn’t planning to write about what I saw on Friday until I saw White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer say on Saturday, “This was the largest audience ever to witness an inauguration, period, both in person and around the globe.” Then, as his voice shook and his face became mottled, he shouted, “These attempts to lessen the enthusiasm of the inauguration are shameful and wrong.” The next day, Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway said that Spicer was merely stating “alternative facts.”

    • “Claque”: how Trump revived the ancient practice of paid applauders

      Trump launched his campaign in front of an “audience” of actors paid $50/each to wear campaign shirts and cheer wildly, and he’s brought his paid cheering section with him into the presidency, bringing along staffers to applaud at key moments during his press conferences and other appearances.

      The practice has its origin in ancient Rome, where the Emperor Nero deployed his own crowds, called “Augustiani,” to cheer at his indifferent poetry and lyre playing. It was revived in 17th and 18th century opera circles, where “claques” were used to “huzzah or hiss their favorite performers.”

    • A Day With the Women Scientists Protesting Trump

      Jane Zelikova is not a “protest person.”

      “I’m so anti-protest, and so anti-demonstration,” she told me. “Growing up in the U.S.S.R., I always have that sense that protest is theater.”

      Even after she moved to the United States, she retained her suspicion of demonstrations large and small. They seemed to rarely achieve their goals, and they reminded her of the government-planned pageantry of her youth. As a graduate student at the University of Colorado Boulder, she attended a protest during the run-up to the Iraq War—only to leave before it ended out of personal unease.

      Since then, her research into community ecology has taken her to the tropical rainforests of Costa Rica and the high-elevation deserts of Utah. It let her spend months studying leafcutter ants, a colony-dwelling creature that grows fungus for its food; and it introduced her to Pseudobombax septenatum, a tree sheathed in photosynthetic bark that can store water in its trunk for months at a time.

    • America, You Look Like an Arab Country Right Now

      Dear America,

      We have been watching the drama of your presidential elections with much interest and curiosity for some time now. It’s hard not to notice the many similarities between our own countries and yours. From fiery inauguration protests and bitter disputes about crowd size, to the intelligence service’s forays into politics and the rise of right-wing extremists, it appears that you are traveling very much in our direction—and at the same time, like us, becoming a curiosity for foreign correspondents trying to explain what’s happening in your region to the world. You might be distraught about where you are headed, but we aren’t! Perhaps this will be an opportunity to put our differences aside and recognize how similar we are.

      Let’s start at the beginning. During the campaign we were surprised to learn of the influence that the head of the American mukhabarat (state security, i.e. your FBI) can wield over the election process, simply by choosing to pursue a certain line of investigation. As you may know, this has been a constant feature of our politics since independence. Our surprise turned to astonishment when we started to witness the blossoming feud between the then-president-elect and the American mukhabarat, another important feature of Arab politics.

    • Media Caught Publishing Fake News About WikiLeaks’ Position On Trump Tax Returns

      It’s a hard lesson to consumers that sometimes what you read in the news isn’t news at all. Just conveniently timed, targeted information that media elites seized an opportunity to put their spin on.

      WikiLeaks did send out a call for a whistleblower to submit the returns so that they can be released to the public. But it was not the first time WikiLeaks had made such a request, or even the second.

      Yet many wrongly assumed that interest in Trump’s tax returns was a shift in position for Wikileaks when it has in fact been after them all along.

    • Democrats Try To Find A Future Post-Obama With Fault Lines Along Economics, Race

      David Betras realized Hillary Clinton’s odds of winning the presidency were in peril — back in March of last year.

      Betras, the chairman of the Mahoning County Democratic Party, lives in an area of Ohio that traditionally votes for Democrats. But during the Ohio primary, Betras saw 18 people on his own precinct committee defect and cross party lines to vote Republican.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • Donald Trump’s escalating war against the media

      Less than 24 hours being sworn in, Donald Trump declared the first war of his presidency—on the media.

      Going to the CIA’s headquarters on Saturday morning, Trump immediately brought up the “dishonest media,” transitioned into praise for the agency that he said was going to destroy ISIS, and then resumed trashing the press: first for saying he didn’t get along with America’s spies (he called “Nazis” last week), and then for the inaugural coverage.

      “And the reason you’re my first stop is that, as you know, I have a running war with the media,” Trump said. “They are among the most dishonest human beings on Earth… We had a massive field of people. You saw them. Packed. I get up this morning, I turn on one of the networks, and they show an empty field…”

    • Government Employees Get to Have Opinions, Too

      Federal government employees: Know your First Amendment rights.

      In the midst of widespread reports of a clampdown on federal agencies’ public communications by the Trump administration, lots of people are asking about what rights federal government employees have to continue speaking to the public. The short answer? It depends.

      The new administration is entitled to use the official channels of government – whether they be press briefings or websites or social media accounts – to put out its own messages, and it can decide what federal employees are allowed to communicate when they are on the job. But the First Amendment still protects those employees’ ability to speak in their private capacities, on their own time, about matters that concern the public.

      At the moment, different federal agencies have reportedly imposed different restrictions, from the Department of Agriculture to the Environmental Protection Agency. These restrictions vary, from limiting social media posts and press releases to preventing communications with Congress. It is unclear how long the freezes will last or whether some of the directives were properly authorized.

    • Cameroon Cuts Internet in English-speaking Regions

      In Cameroon, internet connections appear to have been cut in the major towns of the country’s two English-speaking regions. The action comes as a months-long strike by local lawyers and teachers intensifies.

      Agbor Gideon owns a shop that provides internet services to students and researchers at the University of Bamenda in the northwest region of Cameroon. He says his suppliers disconnected internet connection to his neighborhood Tuesday.

      “They are stepping on our rights. They are stepping on the rights of the people to use internet because it blocks so many things,” said Gideon. “There are people whose businesses are based on the internet so it is going to add to the hardship.”

    • Don’t Expect the First Amendment to Protect the Media

      When President Trump declared on Saturday that reporters are “among the most dishonest human beings on earth,” it was not the first time he had disparaged the press. Nor was it out of character when, later that same day, his press secretary threatened “to hold the press accountable” for reporting truthful information that was unflattering to Mr. Trump. Episodes like these have become all too common in recent weeks. So it’s comforting to know that the Constitution serves as a reliable stronghold against Mr. Trump’s assault on the press.

      Except that it doesn’t. The truth is, legal protections for press freedom are far feebler than you may think. Even more worrisome, they have been weakening in recent years.

      The First Amendment provides only limited protection for the press. Over the centuries, courts have affirmed that it prohibits government censorship and offers some protection against defamation lawsuits. But journalists themselves have few constitutional rights when it comes to matters such as access to government sources and documents, or protection from being hounded by those in power for their news gathering and reporting. In those respects, journalists are vulnerable to the whims of society and government officials.

    • Chinese Artists Confront Censorship, Memory, and History at the Guggenheim

      Censorship can look at lot different depending on your vantage point. To observers in the West, the policies of the Chinese government — the routine harassment of journalists and activists, the suppression of internet access, the wholesale erasure of certain words and events from the nation’s history — are abhorrent. The fact that the country’s most internationally celebrated contemporary artist is Ai Weiwei, whose years-long house arrest galvanized the art world, is a case in point. But within China’s borders, life continues, if not flourishes: Facebook can be accessed with simple VPN software, and political discourse carries on, with prohibited words replaced by puns to circumvent the restrictive firewall.

    • Brian Stokes Mitchell Weighs In on RAGTIME Censorship: ‘It’s a Great Disservice’

      The Cherry Hill High School East community is approaching the production of this show from a learning disposition. Within our educational community we have been engaging in a dialogue regarding the offensive language in the show. We are indebted to the Cherry Hill African American Civic Association as well as individuals in our community for joining us in this discussion regarding the use of bigoted language in the script. After a very open and productive meeting between representatives from the East Staff and the Cherry Hill African American Civic Association, we confirmed the decision to remove offensive language from the enacted script. In addition, all students at Cherry Hill High School East will participate in learning activities stemming from Ragtime in an effort to use our history to further expose the ugliness of racism. We apologize for any negative impact that the potential inclusion of the racist language had on members of our community and we are thankful that we have educational leaders, student leaders, and community leaders with whom we can partner when concerns arise.

    • New Jersey Production of Ragtime Faces Language Censorship

      Ragtime, the award-winning musical from Lynn Ahrens, Stephen Flaherty, and Terrence McNally about the immigrant experience at the turn of the 20th century, is scheduled to play Cherry Hill High School East in New Jersey—but with a censored script.

      According to NJ.com, the March production will be replacing or eliminating the n-word and other racial slurs in the script of Ragtime. The decision was made by school officials from the Cherry Hill High School East with approval from the Cherry Hill African American Civic Association and the Camden County East NAACP.

    • NJ school board to discuss censoring student production of ‘Ragtime’

      A high school presentation of the racially charged musical “Ragtime” will be discussed by a South Jersey board of education meeting on Tuesday.

      The Cherry Hill High School East Drama Department is scheduled in March to perform the show set in the decades before the outbreak of World War I.

      The choice of musical has prompted debate about just how the play, which includes frequent use of a racial slur, should be presented: in an unaltered form, an edited form or not at all.

    • Trump bans agencies from ‘providing updates on social media or to reporters’

      The Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Agriculture have been placed under de facto gag orders by the Trump administration, according to documents obtained by news organizations.

      The president has banned EPA employees from “providing updates on social media or to reporters,” according to interagency emails first obtained by the Associated Press, and barred them from awarding new contracts or grants as well.

    • Policing criticism of Islam: the new Star Chamber

      ‘We are happy to make clear that Islam as a religion does not support so-called “honour killings”.’ Last August that sentence appeared in the corrections pages of both the Sun and the Mail Online. Why had these newspapers suddenly felt inclined to weigh in on this contentious theological debate? Because a complaint had been made against them to the Independent Press Standards Organisation (IPSO), the non-state-backed press regulator set up after Leveson. It was lodged by Miqdaad Versi, the assistant general secretary of the Muslim Council of Britain, acting in a personal capacity.

    • Amos Yee’s mom: I encouraged him to leave Singapore

      Teen blogger Amos Yee’s mother, Mary Toh, has taken to Facebook to say that she encouraged him to leave Singapore and that she is glad that he is highlighting Singapore’s anti-free speech laws and the flawed immigration policies in the USA.

      Yee landed in Chicago O-Hare Airport on 16 Dec with a tourist visa and was detained by the US authorities when they discovered text messages between him and a US-based Singaporean activist, Melissa Chen, about his bid for political asylum in America.

    • White House Comment Line Shut Down, Tells Callers to Use Non-Existent Facebook Messenger Account Instead

      The White House has shut down its public comment line some time in the past few weeks, instead telling callers, with an automated message, that they should contact the administration via Facebook Messenger instead. There’s only one problem: Neither the new White House administration nor President Donald Trump seem to currently maintain an active Facebook Messenger account.

      The White House had long kept a public comment line, which in recent years had been staffed by volunteers of the Obama administration. In addition, it also offered a number to reach the White House switchboard, where paid staffers would pick up the phone and take messages for the administration.

    • National Parks Employee Defies Trump Censorship Order
    • Trump’s War On Environment Begins Anew With Censorship, Halting EPA Funding, & Revitalizing Keystone XL & Dakota Access Pipelines
    • Censorship, political meddling has no place in science, weather group says
    • Is Trump ‘censoring’ federal agency accounts? [Ed: This author thinks that Trump now has King-like powers]

      Earlier today, the Badlands National Park’s official Twitter feed sent out four tweets about climate change. They were subsequently deleted.

      [...]

      The Park Service is an executive branch agency. It has no pretense to independence from the president’s authority. And in fact, our constitutional system depends on such agencies obeying the competent authority. They don’t get to have a life of their own outside of what the Congress permits and the president demands. Elected officials make these decisions — this is what democracy looks like.

    • Trump Muzzles Federal Employees; Reporters Start Asking For Leaks

      Of course, it quickly became clear that this was not just for the EPA. The USDA received similar marching orders. Same with the Department of Health & Human Services and possibly others as well, including the Department of Commerce, being told it can’t even publish the basic research it releases for US companies.

      It’s possible to say that this is just the Trump administration hitting the pause button to figure out what’s going on before moving forward again, but many in these agencies are quite worried that they’re going to be muzzled for political reasons. Most of the people working in these agencies are civil servants, not political appointees, and their work is not at all political. The press releases and blog posts are generally to release new findings, research and data from taxpayer funded studies. This shouldn’t be controversial or reviewed for political motives.

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Stop Trump getting our data

      Open Rights Group has called on the Prime Minister to ensure that the UK is not complicit with human rights abuses if President Trump keeps his promises to reinstate waterboarding and torture.

    • EFF Asks Massachusetts High Court to Require Clear Limits Before Allowing Searches of Digital Devices and Information

      Along with several other advocacy groups, EFF signed on to an amicus brief this week in the case of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts v. James Keown, in support of requiring courts to set pre-search limits on the method of digital searches by law enforcement pursuant to judicially authorized warrants.

      Keown was charged with murdering his wife after she died of an apparent poisoning. The evidence against him included a forensic search of his laptop, which revealed web searches for homemade poison. Although the police got a warrant to do this forensic examination, it allowed them to conduct a nearly unfettered search of the computer.

    • Messaging App Has Bipartisan Support Amid Hacking Concerns

      Signal, a smartphone app that allows users to send encrypted messages, is gaining popularity in the political world amid rising fears about hacking and surveillance in the wake of a tumultuous election year.

    • New CIA Director Mike Pompeo Sparks Privacy Concerns

      The U.S. Senate confirmed Kansas Republican Rep. Mike Pompeo to be the Director of the CIA late on Monday over concerns from several congressional Democrats, who warned that putting Pompeo at the head of the intelligence agency would threaten civil liberties.

      In an impassioned floor speech, Sen. Bernie Sanders called it “vital to have a head of the CIA who will stand up for our constitution, stand up for privacy rights.” He continued, “Unfortunately, in my view, Mr. Pompeo is not that individual.”

    • UK Government Refuses To Impose Privacy Rules On Surveillance Cameras In Hospitals

      Reasonable enough, you might say. Except that the Commissioner had previously explained to the UK government that he had already tried asking for “voluntary compliance”, only to be told by the hospitals that “they could not enforce compliance with guidance that was not mandatory”. A cynic might almost think the UK government doesn’t really care what its Surveillance Camera Commissioner recommends.

    • New Mexico Legislators Looking To Add Warrants To The Stingray Mix, Curb Electronic Surveillance

      The bill does contain a few warrantless exceptions, but they’re the expected exceptions (consensual searches, exigent circumstances) and they’re limited to those two. Otherwise, deployment of a Stingray device requires a warrant or wiretap order. Law enforcement agencies will no longer be able to hide Stingray use behind pen register orders or wander into providers’ offices without any paperwork and ask for historical cell site location info.

      The bill also requires that any collected information be destroyed within ninety days. Information unrelated to the device targeted must be destroyed within thirty days. Any extended retention must be approved by a judge after the agency has shown cause for the additional storage and use of collected information.

      Additionally, restrictions are placed on the sharing of collected information, limiting access only to those who will comply with the boundaries contained in the court order authorizing the collection. These entities will be subject to the same data destruction periods.

    • Attorney General Nominee Sessions Backs Crypto Backdoors

      As the presidential campaign was in full swing early last year, now-President Trump made his feelings on encryption clear. Commenting on the Apple-FBI fight in San Bernardino, Trump threatened to boycott Apple if they didn’t cooperate: “to think that Apple won’t allow us to get into [the] cell phone,” Trump said in an interview. “Who do they think they are? No, we have to open it up.”

      For that reason, we were curious what Trump’s nominee for Attorney General, Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) would say about the role of encryption.

    • A Character Sounding A Lot Like Edward Snowden May Be Coming To CBS

      As TV pilot season kicks off and networks decide which scripts should become full shows for all of us to watch, CBS has ordered a familiar-sounding pilot, per The Wrap.

      Called “Perfect Citizen,” the drama centers around the former general counsel for the NSA who was involved in “an international scandal.” As he begins a new career at a powerful Boston law firm, he is forced to contend with half the country believing him a patriot and the other half, a traitor.

    • ‘How America Lost Its Secrets’ paints picture of Edward Snowden — whistleblower and spy

      A catastrophic data breach. Russian complicity. Blundering institutions. Distrust of government. Reading Edward Jay Epstein’s gripping and devastatingly even-handed account of Edward Snowden, “How America Lost Its Secrets,” provides a Faulknerian reminder, during these days ringing with the same themes, that “the past is never dead. It’s not even past.”

    • ‘Pay Back’ Snowden: Whistleblower’s Lawyers Call on EU States to Offer Asylum

      Lawyers for Edward Snowden have once again pushed for the whistleblower to be granted legal protection in the EU, saying that member states should “pay back” the American for uncovering the widespread surveillance practices of the US government.

      Speaking to the European Parliament, Snowden’s Berlin-based lawyer Wolfgang Kaleck said EU officials needed to take a stand against his client’s situation.

    • Edward Snowden Latest: Is NSA Leaker Leaving Russia For Iceland, Spain Or Germany? European Union Must Act, Lawyer Says

      Former NSA contractor Edward Snowden should be rewarded with asylum in the European Union for leaking to the world how the U.S. spies on its allies and enemies alike, his lawyer said Monday. Snowden, who faces charges in the U.S. of leaking confidential information, has asylum in Russia through 2020, but has long sought a friendlier haven in the West.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Why Making A Peace Sign In Public Is Now A Security Risk

      The British have a number of traditions. Some, such as drinking tea, are famous around the world. Less well-known is a habit of revealing highly-confidential information by carrying pieces of paper in public that photographers using long-focus lenses are able to snap and then magnify to read. The Guardian wrote an entire article on the subject, detailing how numerous embarrassing leaks occurred in the UK because people forgot to put the documents they were holding in some kind of opaque folder. On one occasion, an anti-terror operation had to be brought forward when Britain’s most senior counterterrorism officer walked around with top secret documents on display — a blunder that cost him his job.

      This mistake is so common that there are notices by the door of the UK Prime Minister’s residence at Number 10 Downing Street reminding people not to walk out with confidential material that is exposed. The fact that there is a photographer with a long-focus lens who hangs around outside No 10 in the hope that they do precisely that shows how often they ignore this warning.

    • Bus driver sexually assaulted while driving on Lougheed Highway

      A man is in custody after he allegedly sexually assaulted a bus driver while she was driving east along Lougheed Highway last week.

      According to transit police the suspect, Mohammed Sahib, allegedly first harassed and then groped the driver between the legs.

      The Coast Mountain driver fended off the suspect, pushed the alarm, and continued to the Production Way SkyTrain Station.

    • Trump Poised to Lift Ban on C.I.A. ‘Black Site’ Prisons

      The Trump administration is preparing a sweeping executive order that would clear the way for the Central Intelligence Agency to reopen overseas “black site” prisons, like those where it detained and tortured terrorism suspects before former President Obama shut them down.

      President Trump’s three-page draft order, titled “Detention and Interrogation of Enemy Combatants,” and obtained by The New York Times would also undo many of the other restrictions on handling detainees that Mr. Obama put in place in response to policies of the Bush administration.

      If Mr. Trump signs the draft order, he would also revoke Mr. Obama’s directive to give the International Committee of the Red Cross access to all wartime detainees in American custody – another step toward reopening secret prisons outside of the normal wartime rules established by the Geneva Conventions.

    • Trump to order Mexico wall in national security crackdown

      Donald Trump is due to sign off a volley of executive orders on national security, including measures to start the construction of a wall on the Mexican border and the imposition of a ban on refugees from the Middle East.

      The new US president is expected to sign orders setting out federal funding for the wall during a visit to the Department of Homeland Security on Wednesday, two administration officials told the Associated Press.

    • 5 Movies And TV Shows With Bizarre Real-Life Repercussions

      Most people understand that fiction is just that — an important but imaginary divergence from reality. The real world inspires our stories, not the other way around. Unless it is the other way around. And it is. So very, very often. We don’t know why we even bothered to pretend otherwise. It’s just … we get lonely, sometimes, up here in the intro. Most people skip over it. Thank you — thank you for staying with us. To show our gratitude, here’s an article about bizarre ways fiction influenced reality …

    • Four more journalists get felony charges after covering inauguration unrest

      Four more journalists have been charged with felonies after being arrested while covering the unrest around Donald Trump’s inauguration, meaning that at least six media workers are facing up to 10 years in prison and a $25,000 fine if convicted.

    • Police Names Ade Armando Suspect for Breaking IT Law

      Ade Armando, communication expert and lecturer at University of Indonesia’s Social and Political Science Faculty, has been named as a suspect by the Jakarta Police’s cyber crime department.

      The Jakarta Police’s spokesman Sr. Comm Prabowo Argo Yuwono said Ade is charged with violating the Information Technology and Electronics Law (UU ITE) for the statements and opinions he posts online.

    • Obama’s Legacy: Refining System Of Secrecy, Cracking Down On Leaks

      President Barack Obama’s administration will hand President-elect Donald Trump’s administration a system for secrecy, especially when it comes to concealing military and national security programs and policies, that is stronger than ever.

      Eight years were spent by the Most Transparent Administration Ever™ refining this system. It succeeded marvelously because administration officials took actions that gave citizens the illusion of transparency as it transparently engaged in acts intended to protect government officials from accountability and scrutiny.

      Part of this system involved doing the bare minimum when it came to the Freedom of Information Act, including frustrating momentum to reform the law. That included censoring or preventing a record number of files from disclosure under FOIA.

      Another aspect involved litigation in federal courts to ensure documents and were not released—torture photos, “targeted killing” or drone documents, videos of force-feeding of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay military prison, etc.

    • Six Journalists Arrested, Charged While Covering Trump Inauguration Protests

      We’re in something of an era of firsts here in America. We have our first billionaire President, for instance. Add to that that, on his first day as President Elect, Donald Trump saw fit to take to Twitter to take aim at the First Amendment. Fears for what a Trump presidency means for the rights of the press and for free speech rights have compounded since then, supercharged by Trump himself, who has constructed a narrative in which the press is his foil, either because he truly believes that’s the case or out of pure political expediency. Whichever the case, we had another first as on the very day of Trump’s inauguration, his first day officially as President of the United States, police managed to arrest and charge six journalists for the crime of covering the protests coinciding with the ceremony.

    • Court Orders Prosecutors To Stop Dragging Feet On 20k Convictions Resulting From Faked Drug Lab Tests

      In 2012, it was discovered that Annie Dookhan, a Massachusetts state drug lab technician, had falsified thousands of drug test results. Perhaps this would have been discovered before it became catastrophic, but supervisors seemed impressed with her productivity and dumped even more of the testing workload on her.

      The end result of Dookhan’s fakery was a caseload of well over 40,000 convictions that needed to be reexamined. It also resulted in Dookhan being sent to jail for three years. Dookhan is out now, but more than 20,000 of the possibly-tainted convictions still haven’t been addressed. This makes it likely there are people still falsely incarcerated while the person who helped put them there is back on the streets.

      Presiding over what’s left of Dookhan’s mess is Massachusetts’ highest court. It has been weighing various solutions to expedite the processing of more than 20,000 possibly wrongful convictions. One suggestion is that all remaining convictions be immediately vacated, with the option left to state prosecutors to reopen any they feel are still legitimate.

    • Sen. Jeff Sessions, Trump’s Nominee for Attorney General, Stands by His Support for Sweeping Anti-LGBT Bill

      Sen. Sessions can try to mask the true intent of the First Amendment Defense Act, but it’s tax payer-funded discrimination.

      As the Senate Judiciary Committee prepares to vote on the nomination of Jeff Sessions to be attorney general of the United States, it is telling that Sen. Sessions continues to stand by his support for the most sweeping anti-LGBT bill in Congress.

    • I’m Paralyzed From the Collarbone Down, and My Time in Prison Revealed a System That Robs Prisoners of Their Rights and Dignity

      In prison, Dean Westwood was deprived of necessary medical care required by law.

      I have a spinal cord injury in my neck, which rendered me paralyzed from the collarbone down. When I was sentenced to prison, my physical disability should have been taken into account by the corrections officers and staff. But it wasn’t. Instead I was deprived basic care and necessary services, which put my health at risk and caused me great harm.

      While incarcerated with the Oregon Department of Corrections, I was needlessly isolated in an infirmary at three different institutions, despite having no medical condition that would warrant my being confined there. In the first institution, I was confined to my cell for 23 to 24 hours a day, which didn’t immediately make sense. I didn’t break any rules, and I was classified at the lowest security level.

      While I was confined to the infirmary, they were aware of the medications I needed due to my disability, but they withheld them from me. They denied me a medication that keeps my bladder sphincter closed, so I don’t urinate on myself. I didn’t get that, so I uncontrollably urinated all over myself on a regular basis. They denied me the medication that keeps my body from locking up in terrible muscle spasms. Without it, my entire body would spasm like a fish out of water squeezing the air from my lungs as I lay helplessly on my bunk. When I asked why they weren’t giving me the medication I needed to maintain my basic health, the staff told me they wanted me to “have a holiday from my medications.”

    • EFF to Santa Clara County: Improve Police Body Camera Rules

      EFF sent a letter to the Santa Clara County Board suggesting ways to improve the proposed policy of that county’s Sheriff for use of body-worn cameras (BWCs). We did so with our allies the ACLU of California and the Bay Area chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations.

      BWCs may help protect civil liberties, but only if they are adopted with robust community input and are subject to strong policies that ensure they promote police transparency and accountability. Without appropriate policies, BWCs may instead become another police tool of street-level surveillance.

      Our letter addresses, among other issues, limits on when deputies may record at protests; discipline for deputies who fail to record their law enforcement activities, such as arrests or use of force; when deputies may review their BWC footage; when the Sheriff’s Office must release BWC footage to the public; and when BWC footage should be deleted.

    • GOP Attack on Women Continues With House Vote to Deny Abortion Coverage

      Anti-choice House Republicans on Tuesday voted to further curtail U.S. women’s healthcare access, passing a draconian bill that permanently bans the use of federal funds for abortion and prohibits anyone who receives subsidies to buy insurance through the Affordable Care Act (ACA) from purchasing a plan that covers abortion.

    • Draft Executive Order on Secret CIA Prisons Signals a Return to the Darkness of the Post-9/11 Period

      A draft presidential order being circulated in the Trump administration could signal a return to the executive-branch lawlessness that followed September 11, 2001.

      A draft of the executive order obtained by the New York Times and Washington Post calls for senior officials to consider re-opening the CIA’s network of secret prisons, where terror suspects were disappeared and deprived of their rights.

      And by rescinding President Obama’s 2009 executive order that banned torture and closed the CIA’s prisons — where many of the worst abuses of CIA’s post-9/11 torture program took place – it paves the way for illegal torture to take place in secret.

    • Sisi’s neoliberal assault: context and prospects

      Only a radical distribution of wealth, in the opposite direction to the current Sisi-IMF policies and a democratic state representing the majority of Egypt’s population, and not a handful of monopoly capitalists and generals, can solve Egypt’s endemic economic woes.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • Trump Works For The Working Class! Oh Wait, He’s Undermining Net-neutrality…

      O deluded ones. I keep hearing that Trump will fight the big corporations to support the working class, cutting taxes and creating jobs, jobs, jobs… Then why is he putting a monopolist in charge of the FCC so that ISPs can charge higher prices and/or tax content-providers??? [IRONY, eh?]

      Think the ISPs are the big employers? Nope. It’s the likes of Google and others who dump content onto the web. Trump is going to tax jobs…

    • Outgoing FCC Boss Reminds Trump Supporters That Net Neutrality Is Good For Them, Too

      We’ve repeatedly noted how the idea of a healthy and open internet, free from the meddling of incumbent giants like Comcast, is a good thing. We’ve also noted that until we bring some real competition to bear on the broadband sector, the FCC’s inconsistent protection is about the only thing separating you from a hearty “servicing” from Comcast corporation (whether that’s usage caps or abysmal service). As such, the nation’s net neutrality rules (which are really quite basic and if anything didn’t go far enough) have broad, bipartisan support, and holding Comcast accountable is a bipartisan, very popular idea.

      And while Trump’s Presidential campaign endlessly promised Trump would focus on bringing power back to the people, Trump’s new FCC boss Ajit Pai — a former Verizon lawyer — effectively represents the complete opposite of that. He’s yet to seriously stand up to Comcast or any other ISP, adores media consolidation, wants to kill net neutrality, is incapable of admitting the broadband market lacks competition, and has promised to dismantle the FCC’s consumer watchdog functions solely at AT&T, Comcast, Verizon and Charter’s behest.

    • New Protectionist Virginia Law Would Keep Residents From Better Broadband

      For years now we’ve noted how incumbent ISPs have written and purchased protectionist state laws in roughly twenty states. These laws were quietly passed by AT&T, Verizon, Comcast and other large ISPs as a response to communities that began considering building their own broadband networks. Granted these efforts only emerged because these communities were frustrated by the lack of competition, poor service, and high prices (aka market failure). Instead of shoring up service and competing, these ISPs found it more economical to simply buy legislation overriding local community rights.

      Virginia is just the latest state to happily do the bidding of incumbent telecom giants with a new proposal that would hamstring towns and cities with all manner of restrictions should they decide to build their own networks, or strike a public/private partnership to that same end.

    • Net Neutrality Advocates Blast Trump’s New FCC Boss Ajit Pai

      Not so fast Ajit.

      Public interest groups, political organizers and free speech advocates expressed anger and alarm on Monday about President Trump’s decision to elevate Ajit Pai, a right-wing opponent of net neutrality, to lead the Federal Communications Commission.

      Pai, a 44-year-old Republican and former Verizon lawyer who has served as a FCC commissioner since 2012, has repeatedly opposed the agency’s recent pro-consumer free speech reforms. Last month, Pai vowed to take a “weed whacker” to the FCC’s policy protecting net neutrality, the principle that all internet content should be equally accessible to consumers.

      “Ajit Pai has been on the wrong side of just about every major issue that has come before the FCC during his tenure,” Craig Aaron, President and CEO of DC-based public interest group Free Press, said in a statement. “Pai has been an effective obstructionist who has always been eager to push out what the new presidential administration might call alternative facts in defense of the corporate interests he used to represent in the private sector.”

    • Google, Ting, Netflix Dare To Suggest That Maybe Giant, Anti-Competitive ISPs Shouldn’t Be Writing State Telecom Laws

      For years now, we’ve noted how state legislatures are so corrupt, they quite literally let giant ISPs like AT&T and Comcast write state telecom law. These laws, as you might expect, do everything in their power to keep the pricey, abysmal customer service broadband status quo in place by hamstringing any and every attempt to bring competition to bear on these complacent duopolists. That’s particularly true of the anti-community broadband bills passed in more than 20 states that prevent towns and cities from upgrading their own local telecom infrastructure — even in instances where incumbent providers refuse to.

      This kind of protectionism is precisely what’s going on right now in Virginia, where incumbent broadband providers have convinced (read: thrown a lot of money at) state Delegate Kathy Byron to propose HB 2108, aka the “Virginia Broadband Deployment Act.” The act does nothing to improve broadband deployment; in fact it does the exact opposite, preventing ad-hoc community broadband solutions in light of market failure. It also saddles towns and cities with all manner of restrictions, forcing them to get approval by committees stocked with incumbent ISP lobbyists if they want to even strike public/private broadband partnerships.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Trademarks

      • Trump Campaign Wants To Trademark ‘Keep America Great’

        It appears that Donald Trump — or, more specifically, whatever remains of the organization that was his Presidential campaign — has asked the US Patent and Trademark Office (US PTO, which Donald Trump now controls, as President) to give the campaign a trademark on the phrase “Keep America Great!” for use on bumper stickers, signs, placards, pamphlets, clothing, campaign buttons and more. One imagines that they are already gearing up for the expected campaign slogan of the 2020 re-election campaign. Of course, as Paul Levy at Public Citizen points out, someone else had already tried to trademark that phrase last year, and had it rejected by the PTO on the (correct) grounds that a “slogan” can’t be taken out of the public domain and trademarked. Indeed, the rejection letter notes many examples of the slogan already in widespread use, recognizing that giving one guy the trademark on it wouldn’t make any sense.

      • KEEP AMERICA GREAT

        Predicting success in his effort to MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN, President Donald Trump has filed a new trademark application – focusing on his 2020 presidential campaign. The new slogan: KEEP AMERICA GREAT.

    • Copyrights

      • President Trump Told That Strong Copyright Laws Are in His Interest

        President Trump has been reminded that strong copyright laws are not only in the nation’s interests, but in his too. A letter from the Copyright Alliance notes that among US leaders, Trump’s copyright portfolio is unprecedented, while warning that high piracy rates run counter to his mission to “Make America Great Again.”

      • Usenet Provider Giganews Wins Landmark Copyright Battle

        Giganews is celebrating a hard-fought legal battle against adult publisher and serial copyright litigant Perfect 10. The Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit handed the Usenet giant a comprehensive victory in the long-running case, one that will prove so financially damaging to Perfect 10 that the company will go into liquidation.

      • Canadian Stock Exchange Blocked Megaupload 2.0 Plans

        Late last week, Kim Dotcom was getting ready to make a major announcement about Bitcache and the new Megaupload 2.0 service. However, just before going public the news was halted due to a “roadblock.” Today, Dotcom reveals that he planned to announce a merger with a publicly listed Canadian company, but the stock exchange got in the way.

      • Perfect 10 Loses Once Again, Sets More Good Copyright Precedent

        One of the core elements of a Perfect 10 copyright trolling operation is that it rarely sends legitimate DMCA notices. Sometimes it just sends screenshots of images and basically says “take this down” without ever pointing to the actual location of the content. That’s yet another reason why many have argued it’s little more than a troll. Someone truly looking to protect its own content would actually follow the DMCA and tell service providers where the content was hosted, rather than tap dancing around such questions… and then filing lawsuits. I’m sure that some who Perfect 10 threatens just settle, but when cases go to court, Perfect 10 not only loses, but loses in impressive fashion, setting all sorts of useful and valuable precedents around the DMCA and how service providers should respond to takedowns. Among the useful cases:

01.24.17

Links 24/1/2017: New Release of SMPlayer, Arch Dropping i686 Support Soon

Posted in News Roundup at 3:48 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

Free Software/Open Source

  • Telecom organizations boosting support for open source

    Organizational support for open source initiatives is easing the integration of platforms into the telecom world.

    One key challenge for growing the support of open source into the telecommunications space is through various organizations that are looking to either bolster the use of open source or build platforms based on open source specifications. These efforts are seen as beneficial to operators and vendors looking to take advantage of open source platforms.

  • Google’s Draco: Another Open Source Tool That Can Boost Virtual Reality Apps

    With 2017 ramping up, there is no doubt that cloud computing and Big Data analytics would probably come to mind if you had to consider the hot technology categories that will spread out this year. However, Google is on an absolute tear as it open sources a series of 3D graphics and virtual reality toolsets. Last week, we covered the arrival of Google’s Tilt Brush apps and virtual reality toolsets.

    Now, Google has delivered a set of open source libraries that boost the storage and transmission of 3D graphics, which can help deliver more detailed 3D apps. “Draco” is an open source compression library, and here are more details.

  • Unpicking the community leader

    Today is Community Manager Appreciation Day. Now, I have to admit, I don’t usually partake in the day all that much. The skeptic in me thinks doing so could be a little self-indulgent and the optimist thinks that we should appreciate great community leaders every day, not merely one day a year. Regardless, in respect of the occasion, I want to delve a little into why I think this work is so important, particularly in the way it empowers people from all walks of life.

    In 2006 I joined Canonical as the Ubuntu Community Manager. A few months into my new role I got an email from a kid based in Africa. He shared with me that he loved Ubuntu and the traditional African philosophy of Ubuntu, which translated to “humanity towards others,” and this made his interest in the nascent Linux operating system particularly meaningful.

  • Open-source oriented RISELab emerges at UC Berkeley to make apps smarter & more secure

    UC Berkeley on Monday launched a five-year research collaborative dubbed RISELab that will focus on enabling apps and machines that can interact with the environment around them securely and in real-time.

    The RISELab (Real-time Intelligence with Secure Execution) is backed by a slew of big name tech and financial firms: Amazon Web Services, Ant Financial, Capital One, Ericsson, GE Digital, Google, Huawei, Intel, IBM, Microsoft and VMWare.

  • Berkeley launches RISELab, enabling computers to make intelligent real-time decisions
  • Amazon, Google, Huawei, and Microsoft sponsor UC Berkeley RISELab, AMPLab’s successor
  • Brotli: A new compression algorithm for faster Internet

    Brotli is a new open source compression algorithm designed to enable an Internet that’s faster for users.

    Modern web pages can often be made up of dozens of megabytes of HTML, CSS, and JavaScript, and that’s before accounting for images, videos, or other large file content, which all makes for hefty downloads. Such loads are why pages are transferred in compressed formats; they significantly reduce the time required between a website visitor requesting a web page and that page appearing fully loaded on the screen and ready for use.

    While the Brotli algorithm was announced by Google in September 2015, only recently have the majority of web browsers have adopted it. The HTTP servers Apache and nginx now offer Brotli compression as an option. Besides Google, other commercial vendors (such as Cloudflare and DreamHost) have begun to deploy support for Brotli as well.

  • New Year’s resolution: Donate to 1 free software project every month

    Free and open source software is an absolutely critical part of our world—and the future of technology and computing. One problem that consistently plagues many free software projects, though, is the challenge of funding ongoing development (and support and documentation).

    With that in mind, I have finally settled on a New Year’s resolution for 2017: to donate to one free software project (or group) every month—or the whole year. After all, these projects are saving me a boatload of money because I don’t need to buy expensive, proprietary packages to accomplish the same things.

  • Toyota and Ford 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.

    The SmartDeviceLink Consortium, which includes Mazda, PSA Group, Fuji, and Suzuki, aims to prevent Apple and Google from controlling how drivers connect smartphones to their vehicles. Suppliers Elektrobit, Harma, Luxoft, QNX, and Xevo have also joined the organization, which is named after an open source version of Ford’s AppLink connectivity interface, a system used in over 5 million vehicles globally.

  • What your code repository says about you

    “You only get one chance to make a first impression,” the old saying goes. It’s cliche, but nevertheless sound, practical advice.

    In the realm of open source, it can make the difference between a project that succeeds and a project that fails. That’s why making a positive first impression when you release a repo to the world is essential—at least if your motivations involve gaining users, building a community of contributors, and attracting valuable feedback.

  • The Open Source Way of Reaching Across Languages

    I don’t speak Spanish, but that doesn’t mean I can’t learn some important things from this video. The visuals alone are quite instructive. At my public library job, I mentor a number of wonderful Latino youth. One of them might ask me about open source CAD software — and I’ll direct them right to this FOSS Force article. Of course, I subscribed to the YouTube channel of the creator of this video, and also clicked on its like button. If the screencast creator comes back to look at this video in February, they’ll find that they have a number of new subscribers, a number of likes for the video and the video view count might be more than 100. All those indicators will be encouragement for them to make their next open source screencast. And so it goes. That’s how we support each other in the open source world.

  • [The founder of Linux Malta] Ramon Casha, chairman of the humanist association, passes away

    Tributes are flowing in this evening for Ramon Casha, chairman of the Malta Humanist Society, civil rights campaigner and a frequent commenter on Times of Malta, who has passed away.

    Michael Briguglio, former chairman of Alternattiva wrote in a Facebook post: Rest in peace Ramon Casha: honest, free-thinking and non-partisan civil society campaigner within Malta Humanist Association and so many causes.

  • The best open source software 2017

    The term ‘open source’ refers to software whose source code is freely available to download, edit, use and share. There are different types of open source license, which give users different degrees of freedom, but the main aim of open source is to encourage collaboration.

    Open source software has lots of advantages over other ‘free’ options you’ll come across – even if you’re not a developer yourself. It’s usually maintained by a community and updated frequently to patch vulnerabilities or squish bugs as soon as they’re identified; there are no restrictions on commercial use, so you can happily use it for your home business; and the ability to edit the source means there’s often a wealth of user-created plugins available to download.

  • Sneak Peek: Endless Code and Endless Mission Computers

    One of my clients that I have been working with is Endless based in San Francisco. They are building a phenomenal set of computers and an Open Source platform that teaches people how to code.

  • Events

    • Code for Pakistan to host Open Source Day for Women

      Open source refers to software with its source code publicly available for people to modify and share. However, it does not simply mean to write a source code and make it publicly available, it is also about collaborative participation, transparency, rapid growth and community-oriented development.

      The Open Source Day is an opportunity for women with a background in Computer Science to get started on Open Source Projects and network with mentors in the tech industry. It provides them an opportunity to come together and hone their tech skills.

    • Open Source Software Strategies for Enterprise IT

      Enterprises using open source code in infrastructure must understand both the risks and benefits of community-developed software. Professional open source management is a discipline that focuses on minimizing risk and delivering the benefits of open source software as efficiently as possible.

      For successful open source management, enterprises must adopt clear strategies, well-defined policies, and efficient processes. Nobody gets all this right the first time, so it’s also important to review and audit your policies for continuous improvement. Additionally, successful open source initiatives for enterprise IT must provide real ROI in acquisition, integration, and management.

    • The World of 100G Networking

      Capacity and speed requirements keep increasing for networking, but going from where are now to 100G networking isn’t a trivial matter, as Christopher Lameter and Fernando Garcia discussed recently in their LinuxCon Europe talk about the world of 100G networking. It may not be easy, but with recently developed machine learning algorithms combined with new, more powerful servers, the idea of 100G networking is becoming feasible and cost effective.

    • The World of 100G Networking by Christoph Lameter

      The idea of 100G networking is becoming feasible and cost effective. This talk gives an overview about the competing technologies in terms of technological differences and capabilities and then discusses the challenges of using various kernel interfaces to communicate at these high speeds.

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • Firefox 51 Released With FLAC Audio Support, WebGL 2.0 By Default

        Firefox 51.0 just hit Mozilla’s FTP servers for those wanting the latest version of this open-source web-browser.

        Firefox 51 isn’t a big feature release for end-users but notably does have support for FLAC audio, at long last! Great to see the web browsers finally shipping support out-of-the-box for this open-source audio codec.

      • Firefox 51 Released with FLAC Support, Better CPU Usage

        A new month means a new release of the venerable Mozilla Firefox web browser. Firefox 51 ships with FLAC support, WebGL 2, and a whole heap more — come see!

      • Mozilla Firefox 51.0 Now Available for Download, Supports FLAC Playback, WebGL 2

        It’s not yet official, but the binary and source packages of the Firefox 51.0 web browser are now available for download on your GNU/Linux, macOS, or Microsoft Windows operating system.

        Mozilla will have the pleasure of unveiling the Firefox 51.0 release tomorrow, January 24, according to the official schedule, but you can already get your hands on the final version of the web browser by downloading the installers for your favorite OS right now from our website (links are at the end of the article).

      • Firefox Gets Better Video Gaming and Warns of Non-Secure Websites

        Today’s release of Firefox includes various features for developers and users that enable a richer and safer experience on the web.

  • Education

    • Open Source Mahara Opens Moodle Further Into Social Learning

      Designers, managers and other professionals are fond of Open Source, digital portfolio solution Mahara. Even students are incorporating their progress on specific competency frameworks, to show learning evidence. Mahara and Moodle have a long and durable relationship spanning years, ―so much so that the internet has nicknamed the super couple as “Mahoodle“―. A recent post on Moodlerooms’ E-Learn Magazine documents the fruitful partnership as it adds value to New Zealander Catalyst IT’s offerings.

    • School systems desperate for standards-aligned curricula find hope

      Open Up Resources is a nonprofit collaborative formed by 13 U.S. states that creates high-quality, standards-aligned open educational resources (OERs) that are openly licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0. Unlike other providers, Open Up Resources provides curriculum-scale OER options; they believe that while many people seem to know where to find supplemental materials, most curriculum directors would not know where to look if they were planning a textbook adoption next year.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

  • BSD

    • BSD Mag: Understanding Unikernels by Russell Pavlicek

      The number of tasks which lend themselves to being unikernels is larger than you might think. In 2015, Martin Lucina announced the successful creation of a “RAMP” stack. A variant of the common “LAMP” stack (Linux. Apache, MySQL, PHP/Python), the “RAMP” stack employs NGINX, MySQL, and PHP each built on Rumprun. Rumprun is an instance of a Rump kernel, which is a unikernel system based on the modular operating system functions found in the NetBSD project. So even this very common solution stack can be successfully converted into unikernels.

    • Summary of the preliminary LLDB support project

      Operating systems can be called monitors as they handle system calls from userland processes. A similar task is performed by debuggers as they implement monitors for traced applications and interpret various events that occurred in tracees and are messaged usually with signals to their tracers. During this month I have started a new Process Plugin within LLDB to incept NativeProcessNetBSD – copied from NativeProcessLinux – implementing basic functionality and handling all the needed events in the MonitorCallback() function. To achieve these tasks, I had to add a bunch of new ptrace(2) interfaces in the kernel to cover all that is required by LLDB monitors. The current Process Plugin for NetBSD is capable to start a process, catch all the needed events correctly and if applicable resume or step the process.

    • NetBSD Making Progress On LLDB Debugger Support

      NetBSD developers have been implementing the relevant interfaces needed for the LLVM debugger to effectively monitor and work on the operating system. As part of that they have also improved some of their own documentation, provided new ptrace interfaces, and more.

      Those interested in LLDB and/or NetBSD can learn more about this debugging work via this NetBSD.org blog post.

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC

    • GCC 7.0 Lands The BRIG Frontend For AMD’s HSA

      GCC 7 moved on to only bug/documentation fixes but an exception was granted to allow the BRIG front-end to land for AMD’s HSA support in this year’s GNU Compiler Collection update. As of this morning, the BRIG front-end has merged.

      BRIG is the binary form of the Heterogeneous System Architecture Intermediate Language (HSA IL). This BRING front-end also brings the libhsail-rt run-time into GCC. So far BRIG in GCC has just been tested on Linux x86_64.

  • Public Services/Government

    • Don’t let Microsoft exploit Bangladesh’s IT talent

      Open-source software is effectively a public good and owned by everyone who uses it.

      So there is no conflict of interest in the Bangladesh government paying programmers to fix bugs and security holes in open-source software, because the Bangladesh government would be as much an owner of the software as anyone else, and benefit from the increased use-value of the improved software as much as any other user.

    • Competition authorities first to implement DMS services

      The DRS are published as open source software using the European Union’s open source software licence EUPL, and are available on Joinup. The software provides connectors for most commonly-used document management systems, and includes scripts to create a database to implement the connecting web services.

  • Licensing/Legal

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

  • Programming/Development

    • Oh, the things Vim could teach Silicon Valley’s code slingers

      Vim text editor turned 25 late last year – the first public iteration was launched on November 2, 1991, a couple of weeks after Linus Torvalds announced Linux. To celebrate Vim’s anniversary, creator Bram Moolenaar recently dropped version 8.0.

      Ordinarily the update of a text editor wouldn’t be worth mentioning, but this is the first major Vim release in ten years. In today’s world, where web browsers drop major point updates (what they consider major, anyway) several times a year, Vim’s lack of major updates is not just refreshing, but speaks of an entirely different approach to developing software.

      Even leaving aside the absurd version system of today’s web browsers, eight releases in 25 years would be considered slow by today’s software development standards. Interestingly, though, Vim’s biggest rival, GNU Emacs, has a roughly similar development pace. GNU Emacs began life in the 1970s and is currently at version 25, which means it averages two releases to Vim’s one, but still definitely on the slow side.

    • Learn to code site Code.org loses student work due to index bug

      Learn-to-code site Code.org is apologising to its students after being caught by a database table maxing out, and dropping progress for an unknown number of participants.

      In its mea-culpa blog post, the group says it was burned by a database table with a 32-bit index.

Leftovers

  • Baltimore Ravens Owner Has Ingenious Solution For NFL Ratings Drop: Stop Annoying Fans With Too Many Ads

    For a long time, the narrative du jour in cable and broadcast circles was that sports would save cable TV from the unholy threat of cord cutting and the associated ratings drop. Live sports and sports analysis was, the argument usually went, the one true piece of bedrock in the cable and broadcast empire that could protect the industry from sagging ratings and defecting customers. But as we’ve see by the NFL’s 2016 ratings dip and ESPN’s stumbling face-plant, sports simply isn’t the panacea industry executives pretended it was. Of course, the industry likes to attack any messenger that points this out, but it doesn’t make the underlying reality any less true.

  • Museum of London move gets £180m funding boost

    The Museum of London’s plan to move to Smithfield market has moved a step closer thanks to a funding boost.

    The City of London Corporation and mayor of London have pledged a total of £180m towards the £250m project.

    The museum first announced its plan to move from its current location last year, citing a lack of space at its Barbican site.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • WHO Board Trims Candidates For Director To Five; Two More Cuts Tomorrow

      World Health Organization members took the first step toward choosing the next director general of the UN health agency today as they narrowed the candidates to five. There will be interviews held with the remaining candidates tomorrow, after which the list will be reduced to three until the May World Health Assembly.

    • WHO Board: UN Report On Medicines Too Hot; DG Candidates To Be Narrowed

      At the opening of the World Health Organization Executive Board meeting today, a call by India for an agenda item on the report of the United Nations Secretary-General’s High-Level Panel on Access to Medicines was denied. Meanwhile, WHO’s director general underlined the success of the organisation over the last year, including new financing arrangements with industry groups to finance the WHO Prequalification Programme. But all eyes are riveted to the election process for the new WHO director general, as three out of the six candidates are expected to be short-listed this week.

    • It’s Official: TRIPS Health Amendment In Effect, First Ever To A WTO Agreement

      More than a decade after World Trade Organization member states approved the first-ever legal amendment to a WTO agreement, the change to the international intellectual property agreement has entered into effect. Five more members ratified the amendment in recent days, bringing supporters over the minimum needed to put into effect for the amendment aimed at boosting exports of medical products made under compulsory licence.

    • Prior Censorship Of Medical Advertisement Found Unconstitutional In Korea – But Criminal Sanction For False Medical Advertising Found Constitutional

      On December 23, 2015, the Korean Constitutional Court, the final arbiter of constitutional disputes in Korea, issued a pair of companion decisions that clarify the bounds of medical advertisement regulation in Korea. In one of the two decisions, the Constitutional Court struck down as unconstitutional the statutory provisions requiring prior review and clearance for all medical advertisements and providing for criminal sanction in case of non-compliance. In the other decision, however, the Court upheld the constitutionality of the statutory provision under which criminal sanction may be imposed for false medical advertising. In both decisions, the statute at issue was the Medical Services Act.

    • Take back our water: How Trump’s appetite for privatization threatens your drinking water

      The Trump administration is pushing infrastructure privatization. But private, for-profit corporations are not good bets for managing municipal drinking water systems in the public interest.

      Cash-strapped local governments that can ill afford maintaining and managing them may see selling them off to private firms as an attractive option, and under Trump, more communities are likely to take that step. But let the seller beware. A recent New York Times investigative report found private equity firms typically make 8-18 percent profit from water privatization, while ratepayer bills skyrocket. In Bayonne, N.J., for example, rates rose almost 28 percent after a private equity firm took over.

      Often privatization brings thorny water quality and supply issues the companies have little incentive to solve. Private water management is fundamentally governed by what economists call a vertical cost curve. Rational prices get set by the intersection of supply and demand, but if you need an appendectomy, demand is absolute or “vertical,” and you’ll pay whatever it costs. Water is like that, especially when one company monopolizes your access to it. The notion that the market can optimally deliver water is wrong-headed, as many communities are discovering. Increasingly, cities and towns that have lived to regret privatization are “remunicipalizing” their water. That should give municipal governments pause about Trump’s push to privatize infrastructure.

  • Security

  • Defence/Aggression

    • South Korea Joins The Club That Uses Video Game Footage To Proclaim Themselves Awesome At War

      This seems to be something of a regular occurrence now. In the recent past, several foreign countries have celebrated how stunningly real video game graphics have become by using them to pretend they are really great at war. The Egyptians did it to pretend that Russia was fighting ISIS, the Iranians did it to pretend that their forces could shoot people from a really long way away, and the North Koreans did it to pretend that they could deliver a nuclear ICBM to our soil.

      Well, perhaps there is some synergy to be found over Korea’s DMZ, because the South Koreans recently released footage detailing how super-awesome their new fighter jet program is, and that footage included several clips from both Battlefield 3 and Ace Combat.

    • Trump administration threatens response to Beijing’s South China Sea territory grab

      The standoff between China and the US looks set to reach new highs, as the Trump administration promises steps to prevent Beijing’s takeover of “international territories” in the strategic waterway in the South China Sea.

      “The US is going to make sure that we protect our interests there,” White House spokesman Sean Spicer said Monday. Journalists asked him if he agreed with the statement delivered by Secretary of State nominee Rex Tillerson on January 11, that Washington will from now on take a tougher stance with Beijing over its actions in the South China Sea.

    • How Clinton Defeat Derailed Syrian War

      Hawkish think tanks had laid plans for escalating the U.S. “regime change” war in Syria after Hillary Clinton’s expected election, but a different result has forced them to repackage their scheme, says Gareth Porter.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • “Wir hätten gern auch etwas über Trump veröffentlicht”
    • Julian Assange – FULL INTERVIEW
    • Assange Talks Brennan, CIA and the Future of Journalism

      Imagine being asked if the Director of the CIA has a personal vendetta against you. Few could contemplate being in that boat. Yet it’s just another day in Julian Assange’s remarkable existence.

    • FBI Seeks To Massage Lousy FOIA Response Times, Deter Requesters By Calling All Responses Over 50 Pages ‘Complex’

      The FBI has reams of documents of interest to the public. And it knows it. That’s why it plays keepaway with so much of them. Sometimes it releases tons of fully-redacted pages to requesters — a middle finger to government transparency that also serves as a “response” on the FOIA balance sheets, ensuring the agency fulfills the letter of law while spitting on its spirit.

      Other times it just drags it feet. Requesters are often moved to sue the agency, thanks to its tendency to spend a year or four responding to FOIA requests. And that’s only if it hasn’t attempted to short-circuit the FOIA process by asking requesters for a small fortune in advance of its search for documents.

      The FBI’s internal search mechanisms are deliberately broken, forcing FOIA requesters to become intimately familiar with the FBI’s multiple databases and search methods, none of which seem to overlap. And when documents are finally delivered, a vast array of exceptions are deployed to ensure the public is given only the murkiest version of transparency.

      So, it comes as no surprise that the FBI has quietly decided to make it even more difficult for requesters to get their hands on documents. Michael Best of MuckRock explains.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • So you want to be a climate campaigner? Here’s how

      The planet is getting hotter, leaving people hungry and fuelling wars around the world and you want to do something about it. But with a green movement to cater for every age, location, and type of plastic recycling, how do you turn your enthusiasm into action?

      We talked to campaigners and politicians to glean their top tips for getting started as a climate activist.

    • 67 hours above freezing a record January thaw for Winnipeg

      It’s a record-breaking January in Winnipeg — and not because of the cold.

      A stretch of mild weather that significantly shrank the city’s monstrous snowbanks and turned roads and sidewalks into a sodden mess also marked the longest January period of above 0 C temperatures since 1873.

      And the only reason the record stops there is because no one knows what happened before that. Records only started being kept that year.

    • NOAA designates 29th National Estuarine Research Reserve

      He’eia National Estuarine Research Reserve—the 29th NERR in the national system and first new reserve in more than six years—includes unique and diverse upland, estuarine, and marine habitats within the He’eia estuary and a portion of Kaneohe Bay, protecting a stream, coral reefs, sand flats, and important cultural components. The cultural sites include traditional agricultural and heritage lands.

    • Trump to advance Keystone, Dakota Access pipelines

      President Trump will sign orders Tuesday to advance construction of the controversial Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines, The Hill has confirmed.

      The orders will not grant the final permits needed for the oil pipelines, but will move both projects toward approval, a person familiar with the action said.

      The Trump administration began to inform lawmakers starting late Monday that the orders were coming.

      The orders will fulfill Trump’s campaign promises to approve both pipelines, which have staunch support from the oil industry and the GOP but are strongly opposed by Democrats and environmentalists.

      The White House said Trump plans to sign executive orders at 11 a.m. Tuesday morning, but did not provide more details.

    • Resurrection of Keystone and DAPL cements America’s climate antagonism

      Contrary to all evidence, the new US president will ignore climate change science and proceed with aggressive pro-oil and gas policies

  • Finance

    • Hawaiians call Mark Zuckerberg ‘the face of neocolonialism’ over land lawsuits

      A few days after Christmas, Mark Zuckerberg shared a series of photographs of his family at their $100m, 700-acre property in Kauai. The Facebook CEO and his wife “fell in love with the community and the cloudy green mountains”, he wrote, and decided to “plant roots and join the community ourselves”.

      Two days later, Zuckerberg’s lawyers filed lawsuits against hundreds of Hawaiians who may own an interest in small parcels within the boundaries of Zuckerberg’s estate. The “quiet title” suits, first reported by the Honolulu Star-Advertiser, are used to clarify the often complicated history of land ownership in Hawaii and can result in owners being forced to sell their land at auction. In some cases, defendants are even required to pay the legal fees of the plaintiff – in this case, the world’s fifth richest man.

      Zuckerberg’s lawsuits have prompted a backlash from locals who place the billionaire within a long, painful history of western conquest and Native Hawaiian dispossession.

    • With the TPP and the TTIP gone, what threat to liberty comes next?

      Asia Nikkei has just reported that the Trump administration has formally withdrawn from the TPP, the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a protectionist agreement masquerading as a free trade agreement. This also indicates certain termination of the corresponding TTIP agreement. Before the champagne pops open, though, it’s important to realize that something else will happen instead, and we don’t know what: these policies go back a full four decades.

      Since the late 1970s, the United States has projected industrial dominance across the world by tying aggressive trade negotiations to its foreign policy. This was a bold and unusually aggressive move in the 1970s which was recommended by the ACTN, the Advisory Committee on Trade Negotiations, a committee which was headed by Edmund Pratt Jr – the head of Pfizer – and which reported straight to President Carter.

    • Microsoft mulls cutting UK datacenter investment amid Brexit concerns

      Microsoft UK hosted an online event to discuss the impact of the UK’s likely departure from the European Union on the tech industry. The event was spotted by OnMSFT.

      The company currently has two large datacenters in the UK, and it is expanding these in response to vigorous demand for cloud services. But Brexit could throw a spanner in the works. Owen Larter, Microsoft’s UK Government Affairs Manager, said that if import tariffs were imposed on the UK—one likely consequence of the UK leaving the EU’s single market and customs union—then the company would have to reconsider.

    • It’s Austerity, Not Globalization, That Pulls European Workers to the Right – By Dean Baker

      Both the Washington Post (1/22/17) and New York Times (1/22/17) had pieces about declining support for the left in France and the rise of a nationalist right in both Italy and France. Both pieces attributed the rise in support for the right to people losing from globalization, implying that this is some impersonal process that is causing these people to be losers.

      In fact, the losers are suffering because of the insistence of the European Union that its members pursue austerity policies. These policies have led to almost a full decade of near-zero per capita GDP growth in France and a drop of more than 10 percent in per capita GDP in Italy. There is nothing inevitable about these policies; they are conscious choices of the political leaders in Europe.

    • Donald Trump’s “Public” Inaugural Balls Divided High-Dollar, Low-Dollar Donors, Documents Show

      Donald Trump’s team billed the Liberty and Freedom inaugural balls as populist celebrations, open to the general public for as little as $50 a ticket. The balls were supposed to be “the most affordable in recent history, ensuring that they are accessible to the American people,” according to a January 17 release from the President’s Inaugural Committee.

      But internal documents obtained by The Intercept show that the Liberty Ball was a more exclusive affair for high-dollar donors. Smaller donors were diverted to the much larger Freedom Ball.

      The Liberty Ball’s 8,000 attendees were listed as “Donors over $TBD/ Foreign Diplomats/ Cabinet Officials & Appointments/ US Senators and Congressmen/ Family and Friends.”

      The Freedom Ball’s 22,000 attendees were listed as “Campaign Staff, Volunteers, Low Dollar Donors and supporters.”

    • Observable Reality 1, Trump White House 0

      SOCIAL NETWORKS FILLED with laughter and derision on Sunday, in response to the bizarre claim by Donald Trump’s aide, Kellyanne Conway, that the new White House press secretary, Sean Spicer, had not lied to the nation about the size of the crowd at Friday’s inauguration, but merely presented “alternative facts.”

    • ‘What Communities Are Doing Is Making Homelessness Less Visible’ – CounterSpin interview with Megan Hustings on Food-Sharing

      When seven people were arrested recently in Florida for serving free food to homeless people in a public park, it got a smattering of news coverage. One wire report began by explaining that what many see as a charitable act is “actually a legally complicated matter that could violate laws and even send you to jail.”

      The piece contends that the Florida activists “found this out” after the event; but of course those people, members of the group Food Not Bombs, knew just what they were doing, along with the reasons that would be presented, this time, for their arrests.

    • Does Trump’s Withdrawal From TPP Signal a New Approach to Trade Agreements?

      Today, President Trump signed an executive order fulfilling his campaign promise to withdraw the signature of the United States from the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement (TPP). Although EFF was a strong opponent of the TPP, President Trump’s reasons for withdrawal from the agreement are not EFF’s reasons for opposition to it. Whereas the President contended in his inauguration address that previous U.S. trade policies had “enriched foreign industry at the expense of American industry,” he had nothing to say about EFF’s concerns such as the secrecy with which the pact was concluded, and its impacts on digital rights.

      This means that the President’s withdrawal from the TPP may not have achieved a long-lasting victory on those underlying issues. In other words, when future trade deals led by the Trump administration come up—such as a revision of NAFTA, and new bilateral agreements—they may be just as secretive, and equally harmful to Internet users’ rights, as the TPP.

    • Brexit: government will introduce article 50 bill ‘within days’ following supreme court ruling

      Davis says the UK has already passed “the point of no return” in terms of leaving the EU.

    • Canada-Europe Trade Agreement: One More Vote To Clear

      European Union Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstroem who had appealed to the INTA members to vote in favour of CETA yesterday, today spoke (full speech available here) at the Bruegel Lunch Talk where she warned against using trade deals as “handy scapegoats” for job loss and inequality.

    • Will New York get a Brexit boost to cancel out feared ‘Trump slump’?

      New York and London function as two prongs of one global economy. Banks and other financial companies headquartered in New York usually have their second biggest offices in the British capital, and vice versa.

      For years, that’s made economic sense. For London-based companies, New York provides an unparalleled density of financial firms, a regulatory framework in which to do business, and access to non-European markets. London provides much of the same for New York-based companies who need access to European markets.

      Unfortunately – for London, at least – Brexit could change all of that: an isolated UK could mean financial firms would have a hard time accessing and doing business with other European markets. And while several EU rivals, from Frankfurt to Paris to Madrid to Amsterdam, are waging campaigns for London’s financial businesses, New York – with its already established financial sector and finance-friendly regulatory environment – could get the majority of Brexit’s financial runoff, according to some experts.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • We’re Still Here, 1/20/17, Consumed Most of All by Our Fears

      One of my favorite quotes includes the lines “I awoke this morning to find that it was not judgment day – only morning. Morning: excellent and fair.” I think that sums up a part of my thinking, but certainly not all.

      A nuclear reckoning, war with China, or anything else quite so violently apocalyptic is imminent, or even underway, as far too many of us think. I live in one of those bubbles, the sum of which make up America now. Many of the people I talk to, in person and here online, seem to believe, truly believe, the world is coming to something of an end. These are by and large educated, once-rational people, some of whom have been voices of reason in the past. They are not that way now.

    • Should We Punch Nazis in the Head?

      No, we should not.

      Condoning, applauding or giggling over the idea of punching people in the head whose political positions, however abhorrent, we don’t agree with is so wrong I am not even sure why it is necessary to talk about it. However, given the events of this weekend, it seems we have to talk about it.

      “Is it OK to punch a Nazi for what he said?” is a question bouncing around the media and the Internet after an attack on Richard Spencer following the Trump inauguration. Spencer created the term alt-right. On video, he was explaining the meaning of Pepe the Frog, a silly cartoon figure somehow adopted as a mascot by the racist, far-right fringe movement Spencer promotes as anti-immigrant, anti-Semitic and anti-feminist.

    • The Media and Martin Luther King – A CounterSpin special featuring Gary Younge, Rick Perlstein, Jim Naureckas and Brandi Collins

      Quite a few newspapers carried conservative columnist Jonah Goldberg’s complaint that the inauguration boycott by Rep. John Lewis and others “is exactly what the Russians probably wanted from the beginning.” (Goldberg’s proof that Lewis’ stance is mere partisanship is that he also boycotted George W. Bush’s 2001 inauguration.)

      Still, when Donald Trump greeted the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday, if you will, with a swipe at Lewis, many in corporate media expressed ready disapproval for what Washington Post columnist Michael Gerson called Trump’s “disregard for the American narrative,” in which Lewis is an undeniable hero. (For Gerson, Lewis’s challenge to the 2000 election is merely a sign of his “disturbing habit of hyperbole.”)

    • Trump and the Media

      I am thankfully too clear-headed to like Trump because of the extraordinary campaign of vilification to which he has been subjected. Freedland has no shame about repeating the lie that Trump kept Hitler’s speeches by his bedside. I was in a position to know for sure that the “Russian hacking” elements of the extraordinary “Manchurian candidate” rubbish which the entire establishment threw at Trump was definitively untrue. I had the background and training to see that the Christopher Steele dossier was not only nonsense, but a fake, not in fact produced seriatim on the dates claimed. The involvement of the US security services in spreading lies as intelligence to undermine an incoming President will go down as a crucial moment in US history. We have not yet seen the denouement of that story.

      But none of that makes Trump a good person. He could be an appalling monster and still be subjected to dirty tricks by other very bad people. There is much about Trump to dislike. His sensible desire for better relations with Russia is matched by a stupid drive to goad China.

    • Trump’s Inauguration and the Legitimacy Fetish

      So Goldberg’s argument is that you should not question the legitimacy of a president who, through “Russian meddling,” likely “did not win fair and square”—because, otherwise, the Russians win? Got it.

      Goldberg noted as “a sign of Lewis’ partisanship that he also boycotted George W. Bush’s first inauguration because he didn’t think Bush was legitimate either.” That’s the Bush, you may recall, who lost the popular vote, but was awarded the presidency when a partisan majority of the Supreme Court ordered a halt to the recount in Florida. That George W. Bush.

      (Goldberg also cited, as an example of “poisonous cynicism,” Lewis’ “insinuating that voting for Mitt Romney might lead America to ‘go back’ to the days of fire hoses, police dogs and church bombings.” Those who have followed the struggle against the Dakota Access Pipeline are aware that the use of water cannon and attack dogs against protesters is alive and well in 21st century America. As for church bombings, the BATF has reported at least 2,378 cases of arson at houses of worship over the past 20 years—if you’ll pardon my cynicism.)

    • Hey, NYT–the ‘Relentless Populist’ Relented Long Ago

      In the New York Times‘ lead news analysis after Donald Trump’s inauguration (1/20/17), White House correspondent Mark Landler wrote of Trump, “It remains an open question whether he will continue to be the relentless populist who was on display on Friday.”

      Really? Looking at Trump’s nominations and appointments—the clearest indication during the transition period of how a president-elect actually intends to govern—it’s hard to discern any signs of populism whatsoever…

    • Trump’s Inauguration: Hail Caesar!

      At the close of his inauguration speech, Trump stood in front of the US Capitol Building and raised his right fist in the air. In keeping with a speech that combined bombast and fury, he appeared at that moment more conquering king than elected president. Indeed all that was needed to complete the image was a giant sword in his left hand.

      As to the contents of his speech, we had classic right wing tropes of national renewal seasoned with a populist leftist tinge in the form of a pledge to prioritize the interests of American labor. “America First” was the overarching message of one of the most remarkable inauguration speeches the American people have ever been treated to, one that began with a declaration of war against the Washington establishment on behalf of ‘the people’, thus ramping up rather than tamping down the populism that had fueled his election campaign.

      For too long, a small group in our nation’s Capital has reaped the rewards of government while the people have borne the cost. Washington flourished — but the people did not share in its wealth. Politicians prospered — but the jobs left, and the factories closed. The establishment protected itself, but not the citizens of our country.

    • Trump’s Holy War against Islam

      There are three points worth consideration to understand Trump’s speech on radical Islamic terrorism. Each point is rooted in history and academic literature, and each point carries serious implications for the peace and security of the United States and the world.

      First, radical Islamic terrorism is presented as a threat to “the civilized world.” Historically, the phrase “civilized world” was coined in the era of colonialism to refer primarily to the European nations and by implication to the “uncivilized world” referred to Native Americans in Americas, slaves from Africa, and the colonized populations in Asia. Under contemporary standards of global discourse, the phrase “civilized world” is rarely used by diplomats, heads of states, or academic scholars. There is a new understanding that the world is blessed with numerous diverse civilizations, including the Islamic civilization that spans over centuries in all continents of the world. It is unclear whether President Trump includes fifty-six (56) Muslim countries as part of the civilized world.

    • Trump’s Bait and Switch

      Donald Trump has portrayed himself as a billionaire for the common people but his early presidency has the look of a flock of plutocrats feathering their own nests, write Michael Winship and Bill Moyers.

    • In First of Many, ACLU FOIA Request Seeks Information About the New President’s Conflicts of Interests

      The Trump transition has exposed potential conflicts of interest that could already be violating the Constitution.

      During the Trump administration, our country faces an unprecedented constellation of threats to the regular oversight processes that keep the powers that be in check. Faced with attacks on journalists critical of the president as perpetrators of “fake news,” an era of one-party rule threatening healthy competition between the branches of government, the constant subversion of democratic and ethical norms, and more, the ACLU and the citizenry will unfortunately have many opportunities to provide a public check to keep our government honest.

      Well, we just couldn’t wait: on Thursday, we filed our first Freedom of Information Act request of the Trump Era, seeking documents relating President Trump’s actual or potential conflicts of interest relating to his business and family connections.

      Since the election, it has become clear that during the Trump administration the public’s relentless focus on government transparency will be critical to documenting and pushing back against government violations of civil liberties. While Trump has, both during the election campaign and since his Electoral College victory, threatened to violate the Constitution in numerous ways, the presidential transition brought to the fore a host of potential ethical and financial conflicts of interest that undermine the Constitution in a pervasive way: by casting doubt on the longstanding American value of the impartiality in government decisionmaking.

    • Trump’s “Culture of Fear” Descends on Washington

      A chill of sorts is sweeping through Washington, D.C., and it’s not just the executive order President Donald Trump is expected to sign this week freezing most federal hiring. For the more than 2 million employees of the federal government, the Trump administration represents a threat unlike anything since Ronald Reagan took office in 1981. Sources close to his transition team tell Politico that the White House is finalizing plans to downsize agencies focused on domestic policy. Trump’s Republican allies recently introduced legislation that would allow them to cut the size of any federal employee’s salary to as low as $1, triggering fears of a bureaucratic purge. And, of course, Trump has nominated a cast of Cabinet members who seem dead set on eviscerating the very agencies they will likely soon lead.

      “What I am hearing from federal employees is a degree of apprehension that I have not heard since the Reagan transition,” Jeffrey Neal, the former H.R. director for the Department of Homeland Security, told Politico. Though federal employees have learned over the decades to adjust to incoming administrations and political shifts—and yes, even budget cuts from Republican presidents like Ronald Reagan—the Trump administration’s open antipathy toward their work, combined with Congress’s new proposal to target their livelihoods via spending legislation, is “basically creating an environment of fear within the government,” said a current federal employee. “In creating that culture of fear, it’s probably going to suppress some of the people from standing up to the administration.”

    • Sources say Trump’s CIA visit made relations with intel community worse

      An official said the visit “made relations with the intelligence community worse” and described the visit as “uncomfortable.”

      Authorities are also pushing back against the perception that the CIA workforce was cheering for the president. They say the first three rows in front of the president were largely made up of supporters of Mr. Trump’s campaign.

      An official with knowledge of the make-up of the crowd says that there were about 40 people who’d been invited by the Trump, Mike Pence and Rep. Mike Pompeo teams. The Trump team originally expected Rep. Pompeo, R-Kansas, to be sworn in during the event as the next CIA director, but the vote to confirm him was delayed on Friday by Senate Democrats. Also sitting in the first several rows in front of the president was the CIA’s senior leadership, which was not cheering the remarks.

    • CIA Starts Recruiting Its Newest Asset: Donald Trump

      After a brutal start, the CIA is set to mend fences and win over “Customer Number One,” President Donald Trump, putting aside his awkward address to the agency on Saturday and doing what they do best: recruit him to their way of thinking.

      “Congratulations, he’s already recruited. Where is first place he showed up? His main intelligence agency,” said one former senior CIA official whose job used to be cultivating foreign sources.

      The CIA’s main job overseas is to get into the mind of foreign leaders, and to recruit foreign intelligence assets to help them do that, wooing and winning them into becoming useful to the CIA and the United States. Intelligence officials current and former say that’s what they’re now doing with Donald Trump, though slightly in reverse: studying what’s important to him to learn how best to get through to him, and how the intelligence agency can be a useful tool to his presidency.

    • Meet the people leaving Trump’s America

      When people first started talking about Donald Trump running for president, Sarah thought it was a joke and not something she had to take seriously. But then on 8 November, she says the “unthinkable” happened; Trump won the election.

      Sarah, who asked that we only use her first name out of concern for her safety, immediately called her husband, who was out of the country on business, and told him, “That’s it. I want to go, and I’m not kidding.” His response, she says: “I know. We can go.”

      So, next month, Sarah, 43, her husband, 45, and their two school-aged daughters will uproot themselves from the small Midwest town where they have lived for the past three-and-a-half years, and leave the US for a country thousands of miles away. They have no plans to come back.

    • Leaving Trump’s “America”

      It happens too often that some leader arises to power in a country to lead it into the abyss. Trump may be the guy to do that to USA. He has no moral compass, no respect for history nor forethought, and can’t do maths. He’s just charging ahead figuring that he will make it up as he goes along and fix things. If the first few days of his presidency are any indication the burden of responsibility has broken like a dropped teacup. His nominees for positions of power are getting through the filters of Congress. They are almost all old white men who want to make USA great again while enriching themselves and their friends. He’s attacked the free press in a cynical and disgusting manner. He’s demanded attention in places of memorial to true patriots and unashamedly lied to the public. He’s asserted that reproductive choice should not be available to women all over the world and he’s threatened a trade war with the world. He’s asserted that his vision is USA bullying every country worth trading with to gain advantage while calling the process “free trade”.

    • Here Is the ACLU’s 7-Point Plan of Action to Take on the Trump Administration

      After it became clear that Donald Trump would be the Republican nominee for president, the ACLU got to work digging into his policy statements. In July, we released “The Trump Memos,” which was the first comprehensive constitutional analysis of his public statements and policy proposals regarding immigration enforcement, Muslim rights, torture, and freedom of the press. Our conclusions were alarming. According to our analysis, then-candidate Trump articulated policies that would flagrantly violate the First, Fourth, Fifth, Eighth, and 14th Amendments to the U.S. Constitution.

    • In Trump’s America, the Future of Police Reform Will Be Forged at the City and County Level

      One of the hardest things I’ve done in my career is to sit with the family of a man whose life has been taken by the police. In those meetings, as both a civil rights attorney and as and elected official, I have listened to a mother cry for the loss of her beloved son. Stories of a compassionate son, who made some mistakes in life, but did not deserve to prematurely die permeate the room.

    • Selectivity in Trashing Trump

      For instance, in his Inaugural Address, President Trump made clear that he would break with the orthodoxy of neoconservatism and liberal interventionism that has led to endless wars in the Middle East and a dangerous New Cold War with Russia.

      Trump declared: “We will seek friendship and goodwill with the nations of the world, but we do so with the understanding that it is the right of all nations to put their own interests first. We do not seek to impose our way of life on anyone, but rather to let it shine as an example. We will shine for everyone to follow.

    • Trump reinstates ban on US funds promoting abortion overseas

      President Trump on Monday reignited the war over abortion by signing an executive order blocking foreign aid or federal funding for international nongovernmental organizations that provide or “promote” abortions.

      The so-called Mexico City policy, established by Republican President Ronald Reagan in 1984, blocks federal funding for international family planning charities that provide abortions or “promote” the procedure by providing patients with information about it, including by offering referrals to abortion providers.

    • Trump’s New York real estate buddies descend on DC

      When Donald Trump raises his right hand and puts his other on the the Lincoln Bible, his real estate friends from New York City will be standing nearby.

      [...]

      Inaugural attendees from the real estate world were major financial backers during Trump’s campaign as well. Roth and LeFrak each individually donated $250,000 to the Trump Victory Fund, and Lorber and Witkoff each gave $200,000, according to the latest filings from the Federal Election Commission. Catsimatidis gave $100,000, Joe Cayre donated $50,000 and Ziel Feldman chipped in $25,000.

      LeFrak and Feldman confirmed through representatives that they would attend the inauguration. Cayre had a vacation commitment with his grandchildren that will keep him away from the festivities. Stan Gale Jr. said he, his father and sister will be at the inauguration. Catsimatidis, who when asked last summer which candidate he would support for president told TRD “I’m very friendly with both people running,” is also attending.

    • Trump Lost $1.2 Million at Hotel He Should Sell, Democrats Say

      President Donald Trump’s Washington hotel lost almost $1.2 million during its first two months of operation, before he was elected president, according to a letter released Monday by four congressional Democrats who say the president is violating the hotel’s lease with the federal government.

      Trump’s company had projected $397,000 in net income for September and October, according to the Jan. 23 letter. The lawmakers cited information from the General Services Administration, which oversees government real estate, in a letter to the agency that sought more information. Before the Nov. 8 election, business analysts suggested that the hotel had suffered as Trump lagged Democrat Hillary Clinton in polling.

    • Schumer to GOP: Push back against Trump’s ‘alternative facts’

      Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) tore into the Trump administration and congressional Republicans on Monday over a top adviser using “alternative facts.”
      “We have to be able to agree on a baseline of facts. Facts aren’t partisan,” Schumer said. “They don’t have ‘alternatives.’ The alternative to fact is fiction.”

      He added that if the Trump administration is going to be “ignoring the facts on the ground — we’re going to have huge problems” and he said Republicans should join their Democratic colleagues in speaking out.

      “The need for Republicans to speak out when President Trump engages in the kind of rhetoric he engaged in this weekend,” he said. “A White House that presents ‘alternative facts’ needs to be called out for doing so – by both parties.”

    • Donald Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway gets shut down by dictionary for calling lies ‘alternative facts’

      Donald Trump’s inauguration has been marred by a row over whether one of his key advisors told falsehoods or “alternative facts”.

      As the controversy spread, the social media team at the Merriam-Webster Dictionary clarified the definition of the word.

      “A fact is a piece of information presented as having objective reality,” the company said in a tweet.

    • Sorry, Kellyanne Conway. ‘Alternative facts’ are just lies

      I just bought my first official souvenir of the Trump era. No, it wasn’t a pink pussycat hat. It’s a black T-shirt with white typography that says “Alternative Facts are Lies”.

    • ‘The Veil Has Come Off’—Jill Stein Rallies Occupiers After Trump Inauguration

      Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein told a crowd of supporters last night that President Donald Trump’s inauguration on Friday represented a “scary” moment in the country’s history—but said she was glad that the “veil has come off” and people are starting to turn against the“predatory bipartisan political system.”

      Stein made the remarks at Occupy Inauguration‘s “Inaugurate the Resistance” event at Almas Temple. Just hours before, 500,000 people turned up in the nation’s capital for the Women’s March on Washington to protest the Republican agenda on healthcare, immigrant and the rights of racial and sexual minorities.

      The Massachusetts physician, who did not attend the demonstration, called it a “revolution” that has been “in the cards for quite some time”—and that both major parties are to blame.

    • Sanders: I’ll work with Trump on trade

      Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) praised President Trump Monday for pulling out of a massive Asia-Pacific trade deal, offering to work with him on the issue in the future.

      On Monday, Trump signed an executive order to end U.S. participation in the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), former President Obama’s top trade priority during his second term. The Trump administration is expected to focus instead on bilateral trade deals with the countries included in the deal.

      “Now is the time to develop a new trade policy that helps working families, not just multi-national corporations,” Sanders said in a statement. “If President Trump is serious about a new policy to help American workers then I would be delighted to work with him.”

      Sanders hailed the move, saying the TPP is “dead and gone.”

    • US Is Officially Out Of The TPP, Though Not For Any Of The (Many) Good Reasons

      We’ve been quite vocal for more than six years about the problems of the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement, and why it would do really bad things for intellectual property laws and expand the concept of corporate sovereignty over national laws. Throughout the campaign, both major candidates, Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, campaigned against the agreement, though many people (quite reasonably) doubted Clinton’s sincerity over that position.

      On the flip side, no one doubted Trump’s sincerity — but many of us disagreed with his reasons. Still, it’s at least marginally good news to have Trump officially get us out of the TPP negotiations, effectively killing the agreement.

    • Two days, two marches and very different hopes under a Trump presidency

      The demonstrators at the women’s march in St. Paul joined with others in cities and towns across Minnesota — in places like Mankato, Bemidji, Grand Marais and Morris. And they joined millions of other demonstrators around the world. They demanded protection for immigrants, the right to legal abortion and equal pay for women.

      Demonstrator Mohamed Yakub of Minneapolis said they’re issues that affect the whole of society.

      “It may be a women’s march, but women’s rights are human rights, everyone’s rights,” said Yakub. “We’re all in this together. I don’t see them as women’s rights. They’re rights for everyone.”

      A day later, the state Capitol grounds were host to another protest, this one to mark the 44th anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion. Several thousand people gathered for the annual anti-abortion demonstration.

    • From war to more war

      Well, it’s over … and good riddance. What began with a purchased Nobel Peace Prize and a lecture to the Middle East, under the then omnipotent eyes of Hosni Mubarak, has ended with a parting bang … yet another round of massive US air strikes in Libya and Syria.

      Forgive my cynicism, but if history is, in fact, a fair guidepost of what comes to be, Barack Obama’s parting shots at so-called “jihadi” camps most likely did little more than slaughter civilians … thereby enticing 10 times as many others to pick up a gun or a bomb and strike back, however possible, wherever feasible.

      Eight years ago the world held its collective breath for what would prove to be an all-too-brief moment with the election of a self-professed anti-war “liberal” to the most powerful and deadly office in the world.

    • Lawmakers in Eight States Have Proposed Laws Criminalizing Peaceful Protest

      Over the weekend, millions of demonstrators took to streets across the country to mobilize against the new president and his agenda, assembling in a national turnout that organizers call the beginning of a reinvigorated protest movement. But in states home to dozens of Saturday’s demonstrations, Republican lawmakers are moving to criminalize and increase penalties on peaceful protesting.

      Last week, I reported that such efforts were afoot in five states: In Minnesota, Washington state, Michigan, and Iowa, Republican lawmakers have proposed an array of anti-protesting laws that center on stiffening penalties for demonstrators who block traffic; in North Dakota, conservatives are even pushing a bill that would allow motorists to run over and kill protesters so long as the collision was accidental. Similarly, Republicans in Indiana last week prompted uproar over a proposed law that would instruct police to use “any means necessary” to clear protesters off of a roadway.

    • US: Reject Pompeo for CIA Director

      United States Senators should vote against the confirmation of Rep. Mike Pompeo as director of the Central Intelligence Agency due to overriding concerns that he would use the agency’s surveillance and other powers in ways likely to violate rights on a broad scale, Human Rights Watch said today.

    • Donald Trump’s team defends ‘alternative facts’ after widespread protests

      Donald Trump began his first full week as US president firmly on the defensive, after millions of Americans took to the streets to protest against his election and the White House came under fire for brazenly lying to the public.

    • We Are Dissidents; We Are Legion

      On Friday, Donald J. Trump, the embodiment, instrument and provocateur of American animus, was installed — and I use that word with purpose and displeasure — as America’s 45th president. He delivered a particularly inauspicious speech to a seemingly sparse crowd, presenting a vision for America that would best be described as aggressive atavism, a retrograde positioning of policy that threatens to drag the country back to a time of division and fear and hostility, when some stand in the light by casting others into darkness.

      The speech was replete with phrases never before uttered in an Inaugural Address. Bleed, carnage, depletion and disrepair. Ripped, rusted and stolen. Tombstones, trapped and windswept. Urban, sad and Islamic. It felt at times as though he were reading aloud from a post-apocalyptic movie script.

      Indeed, some have pointed out that portions of the speech sounded eerily familiar to one delivered by the movie villain Bane in the Batman movie “The Dark Knight Rises.” Bane, too, promises: “We take Gotham from the corrupt! The rich! The oppressors of generations who have kept you down with myths of opportunity, and we give it back to you, the people,” even as he plunges the fictitious city into chaos.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • Amos Yee buckles under pressure from detention in US – lashes out against country he seeks asylum in

      Amos’ rant against the American system is a U-Turn from his earlier post where he said that incarceration in the US “is far better than Singaporean jail.”

      Yee landed in Chicago O-Hare Airport on 16 Dec with a tourist visa and was detained by the US authorities when they discovered text messages between him and a US-based Singaporean activist, Melissa Chen, about his bid for political asylum in America.

      Ms Chen has started a petition demanding the immediate release of Amos from American jail. She claimed that his detention highlighted the flaws of USA’s immigration policy and is contradictory to the principles of free speech America professes to hold. The petition has over 200 signatures.

    • China cracks down on tools used to get around web filters

      China is beefing up a campaign to root out services that circumvent the government’s internet censorship with a 14-month-long “clean-up” of the internet industry.

      The Ministry of Industry and Information Technology said in a directive that it forbids the operation of virtual private networks (VPNs) or leased lines that allow users and businesses to access blocked overseas websites without government permission.

    • China declares unauthorised VPNs illegal

      The great Firewall of China just got higher, stronger, thicker and longer, with any VPN now requiring prior government approval. Why – because it’s one party communist system allows supreme political control over the state, military, and media.

      A notice released by the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology on Sunday said that all special cable and VPN services in China required prior government approval – a move effectively making consumer “cross-border” VPN service providers illegal. “China’s internet connection service market … has signs of ­disordered development that ­require urgent regulation and governance.”

    • China cracks down on VPNs, making it harder to circumvent Great Firewall
    • Memorial Drive series looks at the unexpurgated history of film censorship in Atlanta

      Memorial Drive is a collaborative series about the history of the arts in Atlanta. Putting a fresh spin on the old phrase “memory lane,” the series title also honors its namesake, the long road that runs from downtown Atlanta to Stone Mountain. The series explores the theme of memory, holding that, in order to move forward as a creative community, we also need to look backward. We invite readers to comment on social media and to offer ideas for further topics.

    • Yandere Simulator Dev Warns Other Developers About Twitch’s Censorship

      Twitch.tv runs an opaque ship when it comes to why some games get banned and others don’t. The support staff are extremely reticent when it comes to press statements; and the topic of censorship is never directly addressed by them. Well, one developer whose game was banned for nebulous reasons – and it was never explained why – decided to warn other developers about the issue.

    • A Year Later, Yandere Simulator’s Dev Says Twitch Still Hasn’t Explained Ban

      The developer of Yandere Simulator, a game about a sociopathic high school girl who murders her classmates, is demanding answers from Twitch, which banned the game exactly one year ago. Today, he posted a YouTube video describing his year of begging Twitch for a reason, which he says has led to nothing.

    • EFF to Court: Protect Free Speech From Overbroad Use of DMCA

      In order to make remix videos, do computer research, or make e-books accessible, people often need to bypass access controls on the media they own. This week, EFF explained to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit that the government cannot prohibit such speech without running afoul of the First Amendment, in a friend-of-the-court brief filed in the case of VidAngel v. Disney.

      VidAngel provides a service that allows customers to view movies minus the parts it identifies as offensive. Disney and other entertainment companies, including Fox and Warner Brothers, argued that providing this service violates copyright law and the related law against bypassing access controls in Section 1201 of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.

    • Bill to protect student journalists from censorship returns

      Witnesses urged the state to stand on the side of student press rights Monday evening, as members of a Missouri House of Representatives committee listened to testimony about a bill that would increase protections for high school and college student journalists.

      HB 441, the Cronkite New Voices Act, would prevent school administrations from censoring what student journalists can publish. Schools could limit the content if it is deemed libelous or slanderous, invades privacy, violates federal or state law or violates school policy or disrupts school.

    • Facebook must be wary of viewpoint censorship in fake news battle

      Facebook faced harsh criticism after people became aware that fake news stories were circulating on the social media platform during the recent presidential election, spreading false information to many voters. Prompted by widespread criticism that fabricated stories might have influenced presidential election results,

      Facebook’s Director of Product Fidji Simo said in a Jan. 11 press release that Facebook would be teaming up with journalists and multiple news organizations to create mechanisms to detect fake news and prevent it from circulating.

      A Dec. 17, 2016, Guardian article describes fake news as “completely made up, manipulated to resemble credible journalism and attract maximum attention and, with it, advertising revenue.”

    • China cracks down on bids to bypass online censorship
    • China Tightens Great Firewall By Declaring Unauthorised VPN Services Illegal
    • China Just Made It Even Harder to Get Around the Great Firewall
    • China cracks down on tools used to get around web filters
    • French internet censorship rose sharply in 2016
  • Privacy/Surveillance

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Will the Momentum to Stop Solitary Grind to a Halt Under Trump?

      I spent 11 consecutive months in a cell that was the size of a parking space — and though I consider myself one of the lucky ones for making it out — the cost of solitary confinement still weighs heavily on me. For many years after my release, I couldn’t adjust to life on the outside. My relationships suffered greatly because the moment someone got too close to me, I would push them away. I was living in a crowded solitude, even though I was now ostensibly free. It took me many years to overcome the deep scars caused by my time in confinement. I am not alone in this, and I know that there are men and women with long-lasting or permanent damage to their mental health after solitary confinement.

    • On Donald Trump’s First Full Day in Office, Millions Showed the President That ‘Dissent Is Patriotic’

      As inauguration ceremonies commenced for President Trump, I was aboard the Amtrak 2117 from New York to Washington, D.C. Almost everyone on the train was female, and there was no need to ask anyone where they were going. The train was a river of pink pussy hats. Amy Schumer was in the next car over, with a running commentary on the inaugural, which a fellow passenger was streaming.

    • Faces From the Women’s March on Washington

      Hundreds of thousands of women and men crowded the streets of Washington in an anti-Donald Trump rally and march on Saturday. Photographer Polina Yamshchikov (@polinavy) shared faces and voices from the street for @theintercept on Instagram. As she followed along the route of the Women’s March on Washington, she asked the people that she met the same question: What are you marching for?

    • Proposed CIA Chief Seems Happy To Spy On Americans, Even If Using Info Hacked By Russians

      Last Friday, the first three of Donald Trump’s appointments were up for vote — with his DOD and DHS nominees sailing through with an easy vote. However, the Senate blocked Mike Pompeo, Trump’s nominee for CIA. As we’ve discussed in the past, Pompeo is not concerned with violating civil liberties. In the past, we’ve noted that Pompeo put forth a sneaky fake amendment that pretended to defund NSA metadata collection, but which really reinforced it. He’s further defended spying on Americans’ metadata as the way government is supposed to operate. Oh, and did we mention that he angrily denounced SXSW for daring to have Ed Snowden speak there.

      That’s all quite concerning. But in opposing Pompeo for the CIA slot, Senator Ron Wyden has raised even more concerns — including about Pompeo’s willingness (or even eagerness) to use information hacked by the Russians to spy on Americans (and not just the Russians, but anyone else as well). That… should be concerning. As Marcy Wheeler explains, there were a long series of questions all leading up to the basic idea that Pompeo has no problem using whatever info is given to him to spy on people domestically, even if it comes from foreign hacking.

    • California Man Brings Class Action Lawsuit Against Apple For Not Preventing Drivers From Doing Stupid Stuff

      There’s lots of “me too” litigation flying right now. Multiple plaintiffs have advanced the theory that because terrorists kill people and terrorists use social media platforms to communicate, it somehow follows that social media platforms are at least partially responsible for terrorists killing people.

      Bed legislation tends to follow tragedies. So does bad litigation. In the aftermath of a car accident that killed a five-year-old girl, a lawsuit was brought against Apple for supposed negligence — solely because it has yet to implement a patented lockout mechanism that might have prevented the driver who killed the plaintiff’s daughter from using Facetime while driving.

    • FBI Decides It’s Finally Time To Do A Terrible Job Of Defending Civil Asset Forfeiture

      Perhaps sensing the wave of civil asset forfeiture reform might eventually come crashing against the seized beach houses of the federal government, the FBI has decided to post a defense of the oft-abused process at its website.

      The post speaks in warm terms about federal partnerships with state law enforcement agencies — partnerships often abused by local authorities to route around restrictive state laws governing forfeiture. Of course, there’s no mention of this particular facet of federal partnerships in the FBI’s post. Instead, the post does all it can to portray it as a legitimate tool of law enforcement, rather than the analogue for legalized theft it’s become.

      The FBI tries to spin this as a limited-use tool that only affects convicted criminals. But even in its defense of the process, it can’t help but enthuse about the near lack of limitations it enjoys.

    • An unwanted touch. Two lives in free fall. A dispatch from the drive to stop sexual assault on campus.

      The facts are largely undisputed: Two college students on summer break – he’s a sophomore; she, a freshman – make a date. It’s Memorial Day weekend, 2014, and their intentions are explicit. They meet and have sex – consensual, enthusiastic – when a passerby interrupts them.

      A few hours later, still together, the male student attempts to resume the sexual encounter. He reaches under her shirt to touch her breast. He stops immediately when she asks him to. They agree about these facts.

      Yet this “one-time, non-consensual touching,” as university documents summarize it, is the crux of a startling Michigan State University sexual misconduct case. It has generated a thick stack of legal documents, months of MSU administrator time, and tens of thousands of dollars in legal bills since the female student, known here as Melanie, formally complained on Sept. 25, 2015 – almost 16 months after the incident.

      More importantly, though, the case – which has traveled through an internal appeals process, exhausting the now-22-year-old man’s hope for reversal of sanctions at the university level – challenges what some might see as common-sense assumptions about sex and dating behavior. MSU’s findings draw sharply etched lines into the blurry world of dating intimacy and reveal the power of university administrators to mark a student as a sexual offender – for touching a lover’s breast after sex, miles from campus, without any accusations of violence, intimidation or stalking behavior.

      Deborah Gordon, the Bloomfield Hills lawyer representing the man, says she intends to file a federal lawsuit against the university. She calls the case “beyond ridiculous.”

    • Arrested Flag Burner Sues Arresting Officers

      Last summer, we brought to you the story of how Bryton Mellott, a young man in Urbana, IL, was arrested for posting a picture of himself burning the American flag on his social media accounts. The story was strange on a variety of levels. First, the law utilized to arrest him, one of many flag-burning prohibitions that exist in laws at the state level, had been declared unconstitutional decades prior to it having ever been enacted. Burning the flag has been codified as a form of protected free speech, no matter how stomach-turning any individual might find it. It was for that reason that the local State’s Attorney’s office requested that the police let Mellott go and didn’t even attempt to bring any kind of charges against him, because they couldn’t. The police report also noted that Mellott had been taken in for disorderly conduct, referencing the backlash his actions caused, which is insane. Blaming a victim of threats for receiving those threats as a reaction to protected speech ought to be beneath the common citizen, nevermind those we actually entrust to enforce the law.

      But perhaps the strangest part of the story, previously un-noted by us in our original post, the impetus for Mellott’s arrest was one officer’s apparent desperate search to find something for which to arrest him.

    • CIA Nominee Leaves Door Open to Torture, Making Senate Vote a Test of Principles

      CIA director nominee Mike Pompeo — whose confirmation vote in the Senate is set for Monday — has said he is open to changing the rules governing the interrogation of detainees, which could mean re-authorizing the use of the torture technique called waterboarding.

      The vote is shaping up as a test for Senate Democrats, who will have to choose between letting Donald Trump fill a key national-security post, on the one hand, and support for basic human rights on the other.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • IPv6 Transition: A Quick Guide

      Despite the much-anticipated depletion of public IPv4 addresses, adoption of network address translation (NAT) has led most enterprises to continue using IPv4 both internally and at the internet edge. But as companies refresh their networks and IoT begins to pick up steam, many network administrators are finally making the choice to incorporate IPv6 in their network in some capacity. Here are some fundamentals when it comes to an IPv6 transition.

    • Trump’s FCC Pick Doesn’t Bode Well For Net Neutrality

      President Donald Trump has tapped Ajit Pai, the Federal Communications Commission’s senior Republican member, to head the regulatory agency. The appointment, announced by the FCC today, does not require congressional approval since Pai is already an FCC commissioner.

      Pai replaces Tom Wheeler, who announced last month that Inaugeration Day would be his last with the FCC. His departure gave Republicans a two-to-one majority in the FCC.

    • Trump’s new FCC chief is Ajit Pai, and he wants to destroy net neutrality

      Donald Trump has elevated Ajit Pai to chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, giving control over the agency to a reliable conservative who’s been opposed to pretty much every big action the commission has taken in recent years, from establishing net neutrality to protecting consumer privacy to restricting major cable mergers.

      Pai has been a commissioner at the FCC since 2012, when he was appointed by then-President Obama and confirmed by the Senate. Though an Obama appointee, Pai does not share Obama’s progressive views and is by no means someone Obama would have chosen to lead the commission. Rather, there’s a tradition of giving two out of the FCC’s five seats to the minority party; in nominating Pai — at the recommendation of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Republican — Obama was sticking to that tradition.

    • Trump just made a vocal opponent of today’s ‘open internet’ laws the next FCC boss

      President Donald Trump has named Ajit Pai as the 34th chairman of the Federal Communications Commission.

      Pai confirmed the appointment on Twitter on Monday. Politico’s Alex Byers and Tony Romm first reported the news last week.

    • SNMP

      How would you find out how much RAM is free on your Linux desktop? That’s a really easy question with a lot of answers—free, any of the implementations of top and Glances all are valid responses. How would you find out how much RAM is free on 200 Linux instances, which are running on a mixture of real and virtual hardware, in dozens of physical locations spread out around the globe? That’s a much bigger problem, and there is a tool to make the job easier. However, the lack of upkeep on the standards and lack of development support for the Linux implementation are resulting in proprietary standards creeping in where there once was a more open standard.

      SNMP (Simple Network Management Protocol) was designed in 1990 to read and write structured data on devices attached to a network, such as how much free RAM there is. Yes, and this is important, the M in SNMP really does stand for “Management”, not “Monitoring”. Although SNMP is usually used to request operational status information, the SNMP “write” functionality can be used to change the configuration on remote devices. Given the lack of security and authentication in the SNMP protocol, SNMP “write” functionality almost always is disabled on the modern internet, and I will not be discussing it here.

  • DRM

    • Amazon offers to scrap e-book clauses to settle EU antitrust probe [Ed: Many other issues exist. DRM, deletes (burns) your books etc.]

      U.S. online retailer Amazon (AMZN.O) has offered to alter its e-book contracts with publishers in a bid to end an EU antitrust probe and stave off a possible fine, the European Commission said on Tuesday.

      Amazon, the biggest e-book distributor in Europe, proposed to drop some clauses in its contracts so publishers will not be forced to give it terms as good as those for rivals, the Commission said.

      Such clauses relate to business models, release dates, catalogs of e-books, features of e-books, promotions, agency prices, agency commissions and wholesale prices.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Trademarks

      • US Supreme Court examines many angles in Slants oral arguments

        Supreme Court justices grappled with issues including whether trade marks are commercial speech rather than expressive speech, in oral arguments in Lee v Tam. Natalie Rahhal examines the arguments made and how the court may rule

      • The Michael Jordan case in China – to be continued

        You may find the Gif file (left, showing a courtroom demonstration of the identity between silhouettes) shocking, however, the SPC upheld the former decision regarding this silhouette, i.e. Michael Jordan cannot enjoy the right of portrait on it. We may all feel the impulse to say something cynical about it, but think twice, the grounds might be shaking: without seeing the Gif file, will you still recognize the figure is Michael Jordan? Can’t it be other basketball players? Which part of the figure makes you firmly and exclusively believe that it is Michael Jordan? Let’s be fair, it could be any muscular man that has a similar figure and happens to hold a basketball… It is not a slam dunk, or any other motion that require high skills, is it?

    • Copyrights

      • Hollywood Doesn’t Represent All Creators

        One of the biggest pitfalls in copyright policymaking is to treat creators of copyrighted content as a monolithic entity with identical interests and concerns. When massive entertainment companies ask for dangerous new types of copyright protection, they imply that all artists share the same set of interests (which allegedly line up with those of the big companies themselves). It would be a mistake even to accept the entertainment industry’s interpretation of the will of the artists it represents, let alone extend it to the community of artists in general. Copyright should take into account the needs of artists and creators of all stripes, reflecting the differences among their tactics, their goals, their business models, and how they go about creating new works.

01.23.17

Links 23/1/2017: Wine Releases, Microsoft Layoffs

Posted in News Roundup at 8:27 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

Free Software/Open Source

  • Wikimedia in Google Code-in 2016

    Google Code-in 2016 has come to an end. Wikimedia was one of the 17 organizations who took part to offer mentors and tasks to 14-17 year old students exploring free and open source software projects via small tasks.

  • Events

    • All the videos from Linux.conf.au 2017
    • Keeping Linux Great
    • Building communities

      This week, I finally got time to start pushing forward with this year’s edition of foss-north. It will be held on April 26 in Gothenburg and it is a great opportunity to visit Sweden and Gothenburg and mingle with the FOSS community. We’ve already confirmed Lydia Pintscher and Lennart Poettering as speakers. If you want to speak the call for paper has just opened and will run until March 12. Tickets sales will open shortly too, as well as the call for sponsors.

  • SaaS/Back End

    • So you want to create a new official OpenStack project…

      OpenStack development is organized around a mission, a governance model and a set of principles. Project teams apply for inclusion, and the Technical Committee (TC), elected by all OpenStack contributors, judges whether that team work helps with the OpenStack mission and follows the OpenStack development principles. If it does, the team is considered part of the OpenStack development community, and its work is considered an official OpenStack project.

      The main effect of being official is that it places the team work under the oversight of the Technical Committee. In exchange, recent contributors to that team are considered Active Technical Contributors (ATCs), which means they can participate in the vote to elect the Technical Committee.

    • Why you should hire upstream
    • The OpenStack Interoperability Challenge Update: Phase Two Progress

      In 2016 the OpenStack Interoperability Challenge was originally announced by IBM GM Don Rippert at the OpenStack Austin Summit. This effort was the first initiative to use the deployment and execution of enterprise workloads using automated deployment tools as the means of proving interoperability across OpenStack cloud environments. The first phase of the OpenStack Interoperability Challenge culminated with a Barcelona Summit Keynote demo comprised of 16 vendors all running the same enterprise workload and automation tools to illustrate that OpenStack enables workload portability across public and private OpenStack clouds. Here is a short trip down memory lane:

    • OpenStack’s Stewardship Working Group and what it can do for you

      Stewardship is defined as the careful and responsible management of something entrusted to one’s care. OpenStack Foundation community members formed a Stewardship Working Group to ensure that “people at the bottom and the boundaries of the organization choice over how to serve a customer, a citizen, a community.”

    • Tips for instance configuration, creating a new project, and more OpenStack news
  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

  • BSD

    • TrueOS Making Use Of OpenRC Init System, Faster Boot Times

      For those still looking to escape systemd, the BSDs remain free and the FreeBSD-based TrueOS is currently working on making use of OpenRC.

      OpenRC is the dependency-based init system used by NetBSD, Alpine Linux, Gentoo, and other select operating systems. TrueOS is using OpenRC for managing system services rather than FreeBSD’s RC.

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC

    • Charlie Shrem and Richard Stallman to Speak at Central European Bitcoin Expo

      The Central European Bitcoin Expo (CEBE) is setting up to be one of the largest conferences to take place in Central Europe. Taking place in Vienna from May 31 to June 1, the expo will feature notable speakers from within the cryptocurrency space, which will provide insight into technology, international legislation and the future of virtual currency in Europe and abroad.

      Recently added to the list of speakers for the event were Charlie Shrem and Richard Stallman. These two virtual currency advocates will be joined by the already extensive list of speakers to be featured at the expo including, Dan Held, Adam Vaziri, David Johnson, Kingsley Edwards, Vitalik Buterin and many more.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

  • Programming/Development

Leftovers

  • Why Tolkien’s fantastic imaginary languages have had more impact than Esperanto

    JRR Tolkien began writing The Fall of Gondolin while on medical leave from the First World War, 100 years ago this month. It is the first story in what would become his legendarium – the mythology that underpins The Lord of the Rings. But behind the fiction was his interest in another epic act of creation: the construction of imaginary languages.

  • It’s time to spring-clean your IT contracts

    The start of a new year is a time for review and planning, in business, as well as in our personal lives. It’s likely that you will be focused on finalising your company’s objectives and strategy for the year ahead. But it’s also important to consider whether the tools and processes that you have in place remain fit for purpose – and that includes your contract templates and contractual risk and compliance processes.

    When it comes to the law, “the only thing that is constant is change”. Without fail, each year brings the introduction of new legislation, case law and regulatory guidance that may have an impact on your contracts – whether it’s the terms of use or privacy policy for your website or app, or the contract terms that you use when supplying or purchasing technology services. Therefore, it’s important to carry out a regular review of your contract terms (and any existing contracts) to make sure that they remain compliant with law and are future-proofed as much as possible in terms of new legal and regulatory developments that you know are around the corner.

  • Chinese investors buy owner of PCWorld, IDC

    International Data Group, the owner of PCWorld magazine, several other tech journals and the IDC market research organisation, has been bought by two Chinese investors.

    China Oceanwide Holdings Group and IDG Capital (no affiliate of IDG) have paid between US$500 million and US$1 billion for IDG sans its high-performance computing research businesses.

    The two Chinese entities had made separate bids but were told by investment banker Goldman Sachs to join hands. The sale of IDG has been cleared by the US Committee on Foreign Investment and should be completed by end of the first quarter this year.

    China Oceanwide Holdings Group, founded by chairman Zhiqiang Lu, is active in financial services, real estate, technology, and media among others.

  • Oracle lays off more than 1,000 employees

    According to the Mercury News, Oracle is laying off approximately 450 employees in its Santa Clara hardware systems division. Reports at The Layoff, a discussion board for technology business firings, claim about 1,800 employees company-wide are being pink-slipped.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • City devastated by OxyContin use sues Purdue Pharma, claims drugmaker put profits over citizens’ welfare

      A Washington city devastated by black-market OxyContin filed a first-of-its-kind lawsuit against the painkiller’s manufacturer Thursday, alleging that the company turned a blind eye to criminal trafficking of its pills to “reap large and obscene profits” and demanding it foot the bill for widespread opioid addiction in the community.

      The suit by Everett, a city of 100,000 north of Seattle, was prompted by a Times investigation last year. The newspaper revealed that drugmaker Purdue Pharma had extensive evidence pointing to illegal trafficking across the nation but in many cases did not share it with law enforcement or cut off the flow of pills.

    • On his first day in office, Trump’s top issues don’t include health care

      President Trump’s election campaign focused on the repeal of the Affordable Care Act, nicknamed “Obamacare.” But on his first day as president of the United States, health care didn’t appear to be a priority — at least, not according to his website or inaugural address.

      In fact, it wasn’t until the news broke on Friday evening that Trump signed an executive order to “minimize the economic burden” of Obamacare that we got even a hint of his plans. What those might be, though, are still far from clear.

    • 1,000 days of toxic drinking water in Flint

      It was later determined that the Flint River water was not being treated properly, and that lead from aging water pipes was bleeding into the water supply. Lead is a deadly neurotoxin, and exposure is especially dangerous for children, who may experience stunted growth, behavioral problems and neurological damage. During the crisis, 12 people died from Legionnaires disease, while residents, including young children, were continually exposed to dangerous levels of lead.

      If phosphate had been place in the water at a cost of $200 a day, the leaching would not have occurred, according to Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette. The city would switch back to the Detroit-supplied Lake Huron water in October 2015.

      The city’ drinking water supply is improving, according to Marc Edwards, a researcher at Virginia Tech who was instrumental in first identifying the contamination issues.

    • Scott Pruitt Is Bad for Your Health

      On Wednesday, during the confirmation hearing for Scott Pruitt, Trump’s nominee to lead the Environmental Protection Agency, there was a good deal of talk about “balance.” Pruitt, who sued the agency he’s slated to lead 14 times during his tenure as Oklahoma attorney general, spoke of a “false paradigm” stipulating “that if you’re pro-energy you’re anti-environment, and if you’re pro-environment you’re anti-energy.” His record, he insisted, revealed a public servant who’d stood up for his state’s interests—which at times meant suing federal regulators, and at other times meant taking on polluters. He promised to uphold the EPA’s “core mission” of “protecting the American people through common sense and lawful regulations.”

      But Pruitt was hard-pressed to identify cases in which he’d stood up for environmental and health protections and against corporations. One of the environmental successes he cited in his opening statement concerned pollution in the Illinois River watershed from chicken manure. When he assumed office, Oklahoma was suing several major poultry producers in an attempt to get them to pay for the damage and change their waste-dumping practices. Pruitt, who’d received at least $40,000 from executives at the poultry companies in question during his election campaign, told the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee that he resolved the lawsuit by crafting “an historic agreement to clean up that river.” In reality the agreement was toothless, as The New York Times reported recently, amounting to a decision to “conduct a study of the appropriate level” of pollutants in the watershed.

      Pruitt was asked repeatedly about his cooperation with energy companies in suing federal agencies, and in sending letters they’d written under his own name, while also collecting significant campaign contributions from those same businesses. In his defense, Pruitt argued that what was good for industry was good for Oklahoma’s economy and its people. It was New Jersey Democrat Cory Booker who challenged him most successfully on this point. Booker asked if Pruitt knew how many children in Oklahoma have asthma; he didn’t. The figure is 111,000, or one in 10. Booker pointed out that the vast majority of lawsuits Pruitt filed against the EPA were efforts to undermine limits on air pollution, which directly affects asthma.

    • Burned toast can increase risk of cancer, UK scientists say

      Potatoes and bread cooked at high temperatures for a long time could increase the risk of cancer in people who eat them regularly, British government scientists said on Monday.

      The UK Food Standards Agency (FSA) said a substance called acrylamide, produced when starchy foods are roasted, fried or grilled for too long at high temperatures, has been found in animal studies to increase the risk of cancer.

  • Security

    • Your Computer’s Clipboard is a Security Problem – Fix it in Linux With xsel and cron

      Any program you run can read your clipboard, and its contents linger until another copy event or a reboot. Modern browsers enable multiple ways for malicious websites to read the clipboard contents (or add items in), so eliminate the worry by using a script with cron that auto-clears your clipboard regularly.

    • The long road to getrandom() in glibc

      The GNU C library (glibc) 2.25 release is expected to be available at the beginning of February; among the new features in this release will be a wrapper for the Linux getrandom() system call. One might well wonder why getrandom() is only appearing in this release, given that kernel support arrived with the 3.17 release in 2014 and that the glibc project is supposed to be more receptive to new features these days. A look at the history of this particular change highlights some of the reasons why getting new features into glibc is still hard.

    • Maintainers for desktop “critical infrastructure”

      That work is great, but it is limited by a number of factors: funding and the interests of its members, primarily. Few of the companies involved have much, if any, interest in the Linux desktop. Some might argue that there aren’t any companies with that particular interest, though that would be disingenuous. In any case, though, desktop Linux is a community-supported endeavor, at least more so than server or cloud Linux, which likely means some things are slipping through the cracks.

      Kaskinen left his job in 2015 to be able to spend more time on PulseAudio (and some audio packages that he maintains for OpenEmbedded). For the last four months or so, he has been soliciting funds on Patreon. Unlike Kickstarter and other similar systems, Patreon is set up to provide ongoing funding, rather than just a chunk of money for a particular feature or project. Donors pledge a monthly amount to try to support someone’s work going forward.

    • Important CentOS 7 Linux Kernel Security Patch Released, 3 Vulnerabilities Fixed

      CentOS developer and maintainer Johnny Hughes is announcing the availability of a new, important Linux kernel security update for the CentOS 7 series of operating systems.

      CentOS 7 is derived from the freely distributed source code of the commercial Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7 operating system series, which means that it also benefits of its security patches. According to the recently published RHSA-2017:0086-1 security advisory, which was marked as important, three security vulnerabilities are patched.

    • Trump’s New Cyber-Security Advisor Runs a Very, Very Insecure Website

      According to Phonos Group founder Dan Tentler, Giuliani’s security company website runs a very, very old Joomla distribution, an open-source, free-to-use CMS.

      That’s Joomla 3.1.1, released in April 2013. Since then, two major zero-days have plagued Joomla, so grave that they could allow attackers to take full control over a Joomla installation. Those are CVE-2016-9838 and CVE-2015-8562.

      But that’s not the worse of it. The Joomla admin panel login page is also freely available, meaning anyone could access it and attempt to brute-force the admin password.

    • Reminder: Microsoft to no longer update original Windows 10 release after March 26 [Ed: Microsoft will leave even more Vista 10 back doors open, unless you install the latest doors]

      As Microsoft noted last year, the company plans to update only two Current Branch for Business versions of Windows 10 at any given time.

    • St. Louis’ public library computers hacked for ransom [iophk: “Those who installed Windows on them have not been brought to justice”]

      Hackers have infected every public computer in the St. Louis Public Library system, stopping all book borrowing and cutting off internet access to those who rely on it for computers.

      The computer system was hit by ransomware, a particularly nasty type of computer virus that encrypts computer files.

      This form of attack renders computers unusable — unless victims are willing to pay an extortion fee and obtain a key to unlock the machines.

    • Microsoft Targets Chrome Users With Windows 10 Pop-up Ad

      Microsoft really wants you to use its software products as well as running Windows 10, and that includes the Edge browser. But it can’t stop you choosing to use an alternative web browser. However, if you opt to use Chrome, then expect to start seeing adverts right on your Windows desktop.

    • United Airlines Domestic Flights Grounded for 2 Hours by Computer Outage

      All of United Airlines’ domestic flights were grounded for more than two hours Sunday night because of a computer outage, the Federal Aviation Administration said as scores of angry travelers sounded off on social media.

    • There’s no glory in patching

      Regular patching is essential but not without risks. Missing a critical patch is an easy way of getting your service compromised but insufficient testing is an even easier way of getting it to fall over. Here at drie we talk a lot about why trying to build your own infrastructure around AWS can be, to put it mildly, a bit of a pain. Today I’d like to go a little deeper on one issue most people encounter when going it alone in AWS and why you’re better off making it someone else’s problem. While it may seem like a mundane concern, keeping up to date with the latest patches and security fixes for your dependencies is a significant undertaking and neglecting server patches is a swift route to getting your infrastructure hacked.

  • Defence/Aggression

    • Theresa May ‘faith’ in Trident after test ‘malfunction’

      Theresa May says she has “absolute faith” in the UK’s nuclear weapons system despite reports that an unarmed missile went off course during a test.

      The Sunday Times says the missile, fired in June, veered off course, weeks before a crucial Commons vote on Trident’s future.

      When questioned by the BBC, Mrs May repeatedly refused to say if she knew about the misfire ahead of the vote.

      Nicola Sturgeon said it was a “hugely serious issue”.

      Scotland’s First Minister, who is a passionate opponent of Trident, tweeted: “There should be full disclosure of what happened, who knew what/when, and why the House of Commons wasn’t told.”

      Meanwhile Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn said it called for “a serious discussion”.

      He told Sky News: “It’s a pretty catastrophic error when a missile goes in the wrong direction, and while it wasn’t armed, goodness knows what the consequences of that could have been.”

    • Downing Street ‘covered up serious Trident missile malfunction’ weeks before crucial Commons vote

      Downing Street has been accused of covering up a Trident missile malfunction weeks before a crucial Commons vote on the future of the submarine-based missile system.

      The Sunday Times reports that a Trident II D5 missile test ended in failure after it was launched from the British submarine HMS Vengeance off the coast of Florida in June last year.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • Solar Employs More Workers Than Coal, Oil and Natural Gas Combined

      U.S. solar employs more workers than any other energy industry, including coal, oil and natural gas combined, according to the U.S. Department of Energy’s second annual U.S. Energy and Employment Report.

      6.4 million Americans now work in the traditional energy and the energy efficiency sector, which added more than 300,000 net new jobs in 2016, or 14 percent of the nation’s job growth.

    • All References to Climate Change Have Been Deleted From the White House Website

      At 11:59 am eastern, the official White House website had a lengthy information page about the threat of climate change and the steps the federal government had taken to fight it. At noon, at the instant Donald Trump took office, the page was gone, as well as any mention of climate change or global warming.

      It’s customary for www.whitehouse.gov to flip over to the new administration exactly at noon, but the only mention of climate on President Trump’s new website is under his “America First Energy Plan” page, in which he vows to destroy President Obama’s Climate Action Plan, which is a government-wide plan to reduce carbon emissions and address climate change. To reiterate: It is normal that the site is completely new; it is notable that climate change is not mentioned on any one of Trump’s new pages.

    • Sea levels ‘could rise higher than a three-storey building due to climate change’

      The last time ocean temperatures were this warm, sea levels were up to nine metres higher than they are today, according to the findings of a new study, which were described as “extremely worrying” by one expert.

      The researchers took samples of sediment from 83 different sites around the world, and these “natural thermometers” enabled them to work out what the sea surface temperature had been more than 125,000 years ago. This revealed that over the course of some 4,000 years the oceans had got about 0.5C warmer, reaching about the same temperatures as are found now – after a similar increase achieved largely as a result of human-induced climate change in little over a century.

    • Indonesia to fight against forest fires starting early this year

      January is not over yet, but two regencies in Riau province have already declared emergency alert statuses to tackle any potential forest fires, which could get out of control when the weather gets drier in upcoming months. The decision made by Rokan Hulu regency and Dumai city to raise their alert statuses, which would allow the central government to send aid to the regions, has been lauded by government officials in Jakarta. Indonesia has learned the hard way that failing to act as fast as possible to address forest fires would cost it dearly. In 2015, massive forest fires ravaged Sumatra and Kalimantan and caused diplomatic tensions as cities in Malaysia and Singapore, were covered by smoky haze for weeks. With the weather in 2017 expected to be drier than in 2016, the country could not afford to risk another disaster. The National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB) has called on other fire-prone regions in Sumatra and Kalimantan to follow the initiatives of Rokan and Dumai before the dry season starts in late January and runs until the end of March, the period hot spots could quickly turn into fires if treated late. A break from fires is expected to take place between April and May this year when rain pours down on the country, but threats of fire could recur from June to late October in haze-producing regions like Sumatra, Riau and Kalimantan, said BNPT spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho. By setting emergency standby statuses early, regions could ask for aid…more detail

    • CU Boulder professor helps assess danger of primates’ extinction

      Three-quarters of the world’s primates are declining in population and 60 percent are threatened with extinction, according to a new study to which a University of Colorado professor is a contributing author.

      “At the rate we’re going, we’re not taking care of our home very well,” said study coauthor Joanna Lambert, a professor in CU’s Department of Biological Anthropology. “The next few years will be critical.”

      The study, “Impending extinction crisis of the world’s primates: Why primates matter,” was published Wednesday in Science Advances.

    • Government ‘tried to bury’ its own alarming report on climate change

      The Government has been accused of trying to bury a major report about the potential dangers of global warming to Britain – including the doubling of the deaths during heatwaves, a “significant risk” to supplies of food and the prospect of infrastructure damage from flooding.

      The UK Climate Change Risk Assessment Report, which by law has to be produced every five years, was published with little fanfare on the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs’ (Defra) website on 18 January.

      But, despite its undoubted importance, Environment Secretary Andrea Leadsom made no speech and did not issue her own statement, and even the Defra Twitter account was silent. No mainstream media organisation covered the report.

  • Finance

    • HUD suspends FHA mortgage insurance rate cut an hour after Trump takes office

      An hour after Donald Trump assumed the presidency Friday, his administration indefinitely suspended a pending rate cut for mortgage insurance required for FHA-backed loans, which are popular with first-time home buyers and those with poor credit.

      The move by the Department of Housing and Urban Development — one of the first acts of Trump’s administration — reversed a policy announced in the waning days of the Obama presidency that would have trimmed insurance premiums for typical borrowers by hundreds of dollars a year.

      Some Republicans expressed concern that the rate cut could cost taxpayers if the loans started to go sour and the Federal Housing Administration was unable to cover the losses. The agency needed a $1.7-billion bailout from the U.S. Treasury in 2013 after it expanded its role last decade after the collapse of the subprime mortgage market.

    • Cross-party group of MPs plots to halt hard Brexit plans

      A powerful cross-party group of MPs is plotting to thwart Theresa May’s attempts to drive through a hard Brexit amid rising fears that UK businesses could soon have to pay huge export tariffs on goods they sell to the EU.

    • Lloyds of London are leaving London

      After three centuries, the Lloyds of London will no longer be “of London.” The company is moving its headquarters, its CEO Inga Beale confirmed on Friday.

      Talking to Bloomberg TV on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Beale confirmed that following Prime Minister May’s announcement last Tuesday, Lloyds was going ahead with its contingency plan.

      Many insurance companies will be moving a big part of their operations, since passporting rights and licensing are key to the sectors’ business in Europe. Lloyds stands to lose as much as 11% of its premiums that come from Europe or little under 1bn Euros.

    • Sneak Preview Of Trumpism In Action

      Trump can break trade deals and impose tariffs but businesses can relocate to continue enjoying free trade and avoiding tariffs. Trump urged UK to jump off a cliff with Brexit and now UK is reaping their own whirlwind.

    • Trump reportedly wants to cut cultural programs that make up 0.02 percent of federal spending

      A report in the Hill details the extent to which the incoming administration of Donald Trump wants to slash the federal budget. Big cuts to major government departments are mentioned, as are cuts to cultural programs that receive federal funding.

      “The Corporation for Public Broadcasting would be privatized,” the Hill’s Alexander Bolton reports, “while the National Endowment for the Arts and National Endowment for the Humanities would be eliminated entirely.” In total, the administration aims to cut spending by $10.5 trillion over the next decade.

    • Trump team prepares dramatic cuts

      Donald Trump is ready to take an ax to government spending.

      Staffers for the Trump transition team have been meeting with career staff at the White House ahead of Friday’s presidential inauguration to outline their plans for shrinking the federal bureaucracy, The Hill has learned.

      The changes they propose are dramatic.

      The departments of Commerce and Energy would see major reductions in funding, with programs under their jurisdiction either being eliminated or transferred to other agencies. The departments of Transportation, Justice and State would see significant cuts and program eliminations.

    • President Trump’s first White House petition: release your tax returns

      That didn’t take long. A petition for new US president Donald Trump to release his tax returns has already appeared on whitehouse.gov, the administration’s official website. In fact, it’s the first petition to appear on the newly-updated website.

    • The Great Trump Heist Is Underway

      Donald Trump, the real-estate mogul and reality-television superstar, descended the steps of the Capitol around 11 am to take the oath of office as president of the United States. An audacious looting of the country had begun.

      In attendance were several corporate titans on the verge of the biggest merger and acquisition of all time—the ExxonMobil CEO who may soon take control of the country’s foreign relations, the fast-food CEO ready to take over the Labor Department, and the handful of powerful Wall Street titans who have been appointed to almost every critical economic post. Not least is Trump himself, who brazenly decided to essentially remain in control of his corporation while simultaneously directing the affairs of the country.

      In true Trump style, he painted a picture perfectly at odds with this reality during his inauguration speech. “For too long, a small group in our nation’s Capital has reaped the rewards of government while the people have borne the cost,” Trump declared. “Washington flourished—but the people did not share in its wealth. Politicians prospered—but the jobs left, and the factories closed.” “That all changes—starting right here, and right now,” Trump declared.

    • Dollar slump; Samsung’s blame game; McDonald’s earnings

      U.S. stock futures are declining.

      Investors are putting their money into safe haven sovereign bonds, causing yields to fall across the board.

      Markets had been rallying since Trump’s election in November. All the main U.S. indexes hit all-time highs earlier this year.

    • Putting Rubber On The Road

      Trump is serious about wrecking the world’s trading system. After all, his business largely doesn’t import or export, so what does he care? Here is the first evidence of a critical conflict of interest. While he’s actively sabotaging world trade and global businesses, he’s more concerned that the press report extravagant claims about attendance at his inauguration than dealing with important issues, like running the government.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Trump begins with action on Obamacare, regulation freeze and confirmations

      resident Trump spent the evening of his first day in office ordering all federal departments and agencies to find ways to ease the economic burden of President Obama’s health care plan as Congress works to repeal and replace it.

      Vice President Pence swore in Defense Secretary James Mattis and Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly, and Chief of Staff Reince Priebus ordered government agencies to freeze any regulations that haven’t already been published.

      “Thank you, it’s a great day,” Trump said after the signings in the Oval Office, before leaving for a set of inaugural balls.

      The first-day executive actions served to signal a marked departure from the policies of the Obama administration but provided little indication of the direction Trump would chart.

    • Trump draws far smaller inaugural crowd than Obama

      Far fewer people attended President Donald Trump’s inauguration Friday than his predecessor’s swearing-in eight years ago.

      Photos of the National Mall from President Barack Obama’s inauguration in January 2009 show a teeming crowd stretching from the West Front of the US Capitol all the way to the Washington Monument. Photos taken from the same position on Friday show large swaths of empty space on the Mall.

    • From Obama to Trump: No Ordinary Lurch

      One thing to remember about Trump’s flagrant defiance of institutional norms is that it has worked for him. Whether or not he’s correct that he could shoot someone on Fifth Avenue without losing any votes, it’s certainly true that his supporters on the Mall today saw his political incorrectness as a feature rather than a bug. “He’s not the most polished guy we’ve ever had, but he says it like it is, and for a lot of us that’s a breath of fresh air,” says Gerald Turner, who owns an asphalt business in Knoxville. Turner suggested that Trump’s unorthodox style could even help him unite the country in a way that Bush and Obama couldn’t: “I know the press doesn’t think that, but the press has been wrong a few times, hasn’t it?”

    • NAFTA

      The complete inability of Trump to remember the bad old days of trade wars means USA is bound to bring them back and we all lose. Those who ignore history are bound to repeat it. What a waste of time. I was there. Those weren’t the good old days. The enemy of jobs these days is lack of education and an inability of products of the USAian education system which cranks out people suited to the old economy rather than the future. I’m sure DeVos will wreck the rickety education system with her war on universal public education. Already teachers aren’t paid enough and she wants to pay them less unless they are working in schools reserved for her rich friends. Expect some circling of the drain before USA goes down hard with self-inflicted wounds.

    • Pamela Anderson: Hillary’s ‘Truthful Words’ Influenced Election, Not WikiLeaks

      Actress Pamela Anderson said President-elect Trump should pardon WikiLeaks editor-in-chief Julian Assange, adding that Hillary Clinton and John Podesta, Clinton’s campaign chairman, influenced the outcome of the presidential election, not the document-leaking website.

      WikiLeaks posted hacked emails from the Democratic National Committee and Podesta’s account during the presidential race between Clinton and Trump.

      Earlier this month, Anderson wrote a letter to President Obama asking him to pardon Assange.

      “He is protecting and informing us all. He has no agenda but to help end corruption of governments and empower people,” she wrote to Obama.

    • Trump claims media ‘dishonest’ over crowd photos

      President Donald Trump has accused the media of dishonesty over the number of people attending his inauguration.

      Mr Trump was speaking after photographs were published appearing to show more people attended the inauguration of his predecessor Barack Obama in 2009.

      Mr Trump’s press secretary said it had been “the largest audience to ever see an inauguration” even though figures he cited add up to under 750,000 people.

      He said the new US administration would hold the media accountable.

      On Saturday, millions in the US and around the world took part in protests to highlight women’s rights, which activists believe to be under threat from the new administration.

    • We could’ve avoided President Donald Trump. Now, we must learn the lessons

      The road to President Trump was long and bumpy. There were many turns not taken, countless alternative routes that would have spared us this outcome. Instead, we kept going, corruption, infighting and sheer obliviousness stopping us changing course.

      What could have been different? There are a thousand possibilities. You could start with the long decay of the US news media into a branch of the entertainment industry, primed to seize on Trump’s celebrity. A wiser society would have demanded better, resisted more vocally, criticised more intelligently.

      Or the rise of Silicon Valley, its hypercapitalist, libertarian ethos helping to weaken traditional sources of information. We now suffer pandemic attention deficit disorder, fake news, hackable everything, cyberwar, and social media bullies, of whom Trump is bully-in-chief. An internet run as a public commons rather than an ad-driven free-for-all would have had very different social consequences. We missed that turning long ago.

    • Donald Trump Quoted Batman Villain Bane in Speech, Briefly Swiped 2009 Barack Obama Inauguration Photo

      Bane lives?! Donald Trump accidentally quoted Batman villain Bane during his inauguration speech in Washington, D.C., on Friday, January 20. Watch the mashup in the video above!

      Trump’s remarks were similar to what Bane (Tom Hardy) said to the people of Gotham before he viciously took control of their city.

    • Donald Trump Plagiarized Bane in His Inaugural Speech

      Donald Trump officially became president today, and in an inaugural address he promised many things, some of which may sound familiar, because they were directly lifted from the D.C. comics villain Bane.

      Compare Trump’s declaration that, “Today’s ceremony, however has very special meaning. Because today, we are not merely transferring power from one administration to another or from one party to another. But we are transferring power from Washington D.C. and giving it back to you… the people. For too long a small group in our nation’s capital has reaped the rewards of government while the people have born the cost. Washington flourished but the people did not share in its wealth. Politicians prospered but the jobs left and the factories closed. The establishment protected itself but not the citizens of our country. Their victories have not been your victories. Their triumphs have not been your triumphs and while they celebrated in our nation’s capital, there was little to celebrate for struggling families all across our land. That all changes starting right here and right now because this moment is your moment. It belongs to you.”

    • Some Trump protesters to face rioting charges

      Federal prosecutors say most of the approximately 230 protesters arrested on Inauguration Day will be charged with felony rioting.

      The U.S. Attorney’s Office says the offense is punishable by up to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000. The people who were arrested are appearing in court on Saturday in Washington.

    • Some things never change! Obama heads back out on the golf course for a round on exclusive estate owned by billionaire Larry Ellison on his first full day of retirement (at least he’ll have time to work on his putting)
    • With False Claims, Trump Attacks Media on Turnout and Intelligence Rift

      President Trump used his first full day in office on Saturday to unleash a remarkably bitter attack on the news media, falsely accusing journalists of both inventing a rift between him and intelligence agencies and deliberately understating the size of his inauguration crowd.

      In a visit to the Central Intelligence Agency intended to showcase his support for the intelligence community, Mr. Trump ignored his own repeated public statements criticizing the intelligence community, a group he compared to Nazis just over a week ago.

      He also called journalists “among the most dishonest human beings on earth,” and he said that up to 1.5 million people had attended his inauguration, a claim that photographs disproved.

    • White House press secretary attacks media for accurately reporting inauguration crowds

      “That’s what you guys should be writing and covering,” new White House press secretary Sean Spicer angrily lectured reporters on Saturday during his first remarks from the podium of the press briefing room.

      He was referring to the delay in Senate confirmation for President Donald Trump’s pick to lead the CIA, Congressman Mike Pompeo, but the comment came after a long digression about how many people had shown up to watch Trump be sworn in as president.

    • Trump’s Flack Said a Lot of Wrong Stuff. Nerds Ain’t Having It

      Excuse me, are you the incoming spokesperson for President Donald Trump? You are? Great. You should hear this: If you try to mislead the American people you will incur the ridicule of Twitter, period. They will take you to task—and they’ll do it with Star Trek references.

      First off, some background: Earlier today, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer held a press conference—or, maybe more properly, issued a statement—and instead of discussing Trump’s speech to the CIA or the Women’s March events worldwide, Spicer attacked the media for their reporting of the crowd numbers from Inauguration Day. He said magnetometers kept crowds off the Mall in Washington (not true) and that newfangled, never-before-used ground coverings made the empty spaces look more sparse (also not true). And Spicer added that “this was the largest audience to ever witness the inauguration, period, both in person and around the globe.”

    • Trump team doubles down on media criticism

      Members of Donald Trump’s team continued Sunday to blast the media for its coverage of the crowd sizes at the president’s inauguration.

      Trump’s top aide and the White House chief of staff took to the Sunday show circuit to defend the president and White House press secretary Sean Spicer, both of whom accused the press of lying about the number of people who attended the inauguration.

      Trump’s team hit the media Sunday for focusing on crowd sizes, and accused members of the press of trying to delegitimize his presidency.

      Top White House aide Kellyanne Conway told NBC’s “Meet the Press” Sunday that Spicer provided “alternative facts” to reporters during his press briefing on Saturday afternoon.

    • Donald Trump’s presidential counsellor Kellyanne Conway says Sean Spicer gave ‘alternative facts’ at first press briefing

      When questioned on why Mr Spicer provided a ‘falsehood’ about crowd size at the Inauguration, Ms Conway responded that the press were being ‘overly dramatic’

    • Kellyanne Conway: lies are “alternative facts” and if the press says otherwise, there’s gonna be trouble

      Donald Trump’s press secretary Sean Spicer inaugurated his first day on the job by telling easily falsifiable lies about the relative sizes of the Trump inauguration crowds and those of the Obama administration.

      To its credit, the press has responded with vigor: the New York Times called Spicer’s statements false claims (though stopped short of calling them lies).

      When asked to explain why Spicer devoted the president’s first press conference to lying about petty bullshit like crowd-sizes, Trump counselor Kellyanne Conway insisted that Spicer’s remarks were not lies, but were, rather, “alternative facts.” She then threatened the press if they failed to accept this, saying “If we’re going to keep referring to the press secretary in those types of terms I think we’re going to have to rethink our relationship here.”

    • White House website touts Melania Trump’s modeling and jewelry line

      Visitors to the newly revamped White House website get more than a simple rundown of first lady Melania Trump’s charitable works and interests — they also get a list of her magazine cover appearances and details on her jewelry line at QVC.

    • Donald Trump Fires All Foreign US Ambassadors

      Shortly after Donald Trump was sworn into office as the 45th President of the United States, all foreign ambassadors were fired and with no concrete replacement ambassadors lined up.

      Mr Trump had demanded that every ambassador in countries all over the world, who had been appointed by former President Barack Obama, were told to leave their offices by midday on 20 January and with no grace period.

      His transition team had said on 23 December there would be “no exceptions” for ambassadors requesting to extend their postings past Inauguration day, in contrast with other Presidents, even for ambassadors with young children.

    • The campaign to impeach President Trump has begun

      The effort to impeach President Donald John Trump is already underway.

      At the moment the new commander in chief was sworn in, a campaign to build public support for his impeachment went live at ImpeachDonaldTrumpNow.org, spearheaded by two liberal advocacy groups aiming to lay the groundwork for his eventual ejection from the White House.

      The organizers behind the campaign, Free Speech for People and RootsAction, are hinging their case on Trump’s insistence on maintaining ownership of his luxury hotel and golf course business while in office. Ethics experts have warned that his financial holdings could potentially lead to constitutional violations and undermine public faith in his decision-making.

    • There’s Already a Campaign to Impeach President Donald Trump

      Two civil rights groups trying to boot President Donald Trump from the nation’s highest office have launched an online campaign to get the brand new commander-in-chief impeached.

      Their website, www.impeachdonaldtrumpnow.org, went live on Friday just as Trump was officially sworn in. It is run by two groups, Free Speech for People and RootsAction, which believe Trump’s possible conflicts of interest are grounds for his ouster, the Washington Post reports.

      “The nation is now witnessing a massive corruption of the presidency, far worse than Watergate,” the campaign’s website says. “From the moment he assumed the office, President Donald Trump has been in direct violation of the U.S. Constitution. The President is not above the law. We will not allow President Trump to profit from the presidency at the expense of our democracy.”

    • The Women’s March movement is taking place on every continent, even Antarctica

      Today, millions of women across the world are taking part in the Women’s March movement, to “send a bold message to our new government on their first day in office, and to the world that women’s rights are human rights.” The marches are taking place in over 60 countries, spanning every continent — even Antarctica.

    • Women’s marches draw huge crowds as Trump takes office

      Hundreds of thousands of protesters took to the streets in the nation’s capital and cities across the country Saturday in protest of Donald Trump on the first full day of his presidency.

      Dubbed the Women’s March on Washington, the event spurred by a Facebook page led to “sister marches” in major cities around the world, including Paris, London and Sydney.
      More than 2.5 million people participated in marches across the U.S. on Saturday, according to a review of official and unofficial estimates from the nation’s largest cities.

    • Massive Women’s March on Washington Gives Voice to Roar of ‘Resistance’

      It was a call to action, a primal scream, an arts and crafts project and a massive group therapy session all rolled into one.

      The Women’s March on Washington brought an estimated 500,000-plus women and men to Independence Avenue near the National Mall to raise voices and fists against the policies and the personal behavior of the nation’s newly minted president, Donald Trump.

      Speakers during the marathon five-hour rally that preceded the march to the Washington Monument included actresses America Ferrera, Ashley Judd, Scarlett Johansson and veteran activists Gloria Steinem and Angela Davis. Filmmaker Michael Moore led attendees in a recitation of the telephone number for the main Congressional switchboard as he urged them to call their representatives every day on various action items.

    • Ex-CIA director: Trump should be ashamed of himself

      Former CIA Director John Brennan was reportedly “deeply saddened” by President Trump’s remarks at the Central Intelligence Agency on Saturday.

      According to former CIA deputy chief of staff Nick Shapiro, Brennan believes that Trump “should be ashamed of himself” for his “display of self-aggrandizement.”

      “Former CIA director Brennan is deeply saddened and angered at Donald Trump’s despicable display of self-aggrandizement in front of CIA’s Memorial Wall of Agency heroes. Brennan says that Trump should be ashamed of himself,” Shapiro said in a pair of tweets.

    • We need an alternative to Trump’s nationalism. It isn’t the status quo

      A clash of two insurgencies is now shaping the west. Progressives on both sides of the Atlantic are on the sidelines, unable to comprehend what they are observing. Donald Trump’s inauguration marks its pinnacle.

      One of the two insurgencies shaping our world today has been analysed ad nauseum. Donald Trump, Nigel Farage, Marine Le Pen and the broad Nationalist International that they are loosely connected to have received much attention, as has their success at impressing upon the multitudes that nation-states, borders, citizens and communities matter.

      However, the other insurgency that caused the rise of this Nationalist International has remained in the shadows: an insurrection by the global establishment’s technocracy whose purpose is to retain control at all cost. Project Fear in the UK, the troika in continental Europe and the unholy alliance of Wall Street, Silicon Valley and the surveillance apparatus in the United States are its manifestations.

    • Watchdog group to file lawsuit over foreign payments to Trump businesses

      A liberal watchdog group plans to file a lawsuit Monday, contending that President Trump is violating the Constitution by continuing to accept payments from foreign governments at the businesses operated by his family.

      “It was our hope that President Trump would take the necessary steps to avoid violating the Constitution before he took office,” said Noah Bookbinder, the executive director of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington or CREW. “He did not. His constitutional violations are immediate and serious, so we were forced to take legal action.”

      At issue: The foreign “Emoluments Clause” of the Constitution, which bans payments or gifts from foreign governments.

    • Even the firm that hired actors to cheer Trump’s campaign launch had to wait to be paid

      On the morning of his inauguration, a remarkable coda to Donald Trump’s presidential campaign.

      Carrie Levine of the Center for Public Integrity found a report from the Federal Election Commission examining an under-reported aspect of Trump’s campaign launch. Trump’s announcement, held on the lower level of the Trump Tower lobby, was framed by cheering crowds watching from the floors above. Some of the members of that crowd, it was soon reported, were apparently paid to be there.

      The Hollywood Reporter sussed out the evidence. An email from a firm called Extra Mile, soliciting people to be paid $50 to attend “an event in support of Donald Trump and an upcoming exciting announcement he will be making.” Instagram photos of an actor in attendance that day. A reference in that email to Gotham Government Relations, the firm that hired Extra Mile and which Trump had used in the past.

    • Pussy Power Fights Back

      Nearly 3 million Americans, women and plenty of men, cared enough to turn out in dozens of cities across the country to march for a broad human-rights agenda. Hundreds of thousands more marched worldwide, from Antartica to Canberra to Dublin and Nairobi. In Washington, where I marched, organizers expected 200,000 women; they got an estimated 1 million—four times as many people as showed up for Trump’s inauguration here on Friday. You know those parade stands that sat empty along Trump’s parade route? Today many of them were full, as marchers made good use of them, to sit and rest, or take a moment to watch the incredible crowd, every race, every age, every religion, and men—so many men!—protest our sad new president. Where Occupy Wall Street protesters once chanted, “We are the 99 percent,” marchers today adopted the rhythm to yell, “We are the popular vote!” And it felt good.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • Amos Yee: the childish thinker trying to rock a nation [Ed: Calling a 15-y-o “childish” and pretending Singapore is some king of Heaven rather than an autocracy of gagging]

      His belief that free speech should be unbridled, and his hope to continue criticising Singapore and the government without fear of persecution, is driving his attempt to seek political asylum in America. Indeed, it is no secret that Yee was persecuted for the content of his online posts, but the good order of Singaporean society practically required that to be the case.

    • Ark: Survival Mod That Replaces Dinos With Pokemon DMCA’d, Possibly By Another Rival Modding Group

      This story is a rather fast-moving, so let’s dig in. Ark: Survival is a survival game in which you hunt dinosaurs. Being a PC game, there is a fairly healthy modding community working with the game to expand it, make slight alterations to it, and even inject other instances of pop culture into it. Case in point is the Pokemon Evolved mod, which replaces the dinos that are to be hunted with, you guessed it, pokemon. As you probably also have already guessed, the mod was hit with a DMCA notice and was briefly taken out of the Steam Workshop.

      You would be forgiven at this point if you immediately assumed that it was the folks at either Nintendo or The Pokemon Company, both of which have been noticed policing the Pokemon IP aggressively. It was therefore head scratching that much of the reporting was peppered with caution over assigning blame for the DMCA, such as was the case in the original PC Gamer post linked above.

    • N.J. judge holds hearing in press censorship case

      A court hearing on press censorship unfolded over more than two hours on Friday, pitting a newspaper’s right to publish sensitive information against the state’s right to keep it secret.

      Superior Court Judge Lawrence DeBello heard arguments in Trenton over a temporary court order barring The Trentonian newspaper from publishing articles based on a confidential child-abuse complaint obtained by one of its reporters.

    • The “Fake News” Censorship Industry
    • Correctiv Will Help Facebook Detect Fake News

      The social network commissioned the Correctiv research network to identify the false news. But does Facebook assume its editorial responsibility?

      Criticism for the spread of fake news rained on Facebook without stopping, and now that company responds with a concrete proposal to stop them, at least in Germany with the help of Correctiv research network.

      This is a precautionary measure in the run-up to Germany’s general elections in October 2017. After the massive fake news scandals in the US, Germany fears a similar phenomenon that could influence the outcome of the election.

    • The real secret of Chinese internet censorship? Distraction

      If you ever want to annoy western policymakers or politicians, then here is a surefire way to do it. Tell them that the only government in the world that really understands the internet is the Chinese communist regime. And if you want to add a killer punch, add the assertion that almost everything we think we know about Chinese management of the net is either banal (all that stuff about the great firewall, paranoia about keywords such as “Falun Gong”, “democracy”, etc) or just plain wrong. Having thus lit the fuse, retreat to a safe distance and enjoy the ensuing outburst of righteous indignation.

    • Cheong Wa Dae’s censorship

      President Park Geun-hye lashed out at the independent counsel, Sunday, for its investigation into an alleged blacklist of cultural figures who are critical of her policies.

      In a statement through her lawyers, Park denied she gave instructions to create such a list. She even vowed legal action against the media that reported that she gave orders to create the list of anti-government cultural figures a month after the 2014 Sewol ferry sinking.

      Park’s furious reaction came after two former key presidential aides Kim Ki-choon and Cho Yoon-sun were arrested Saturday for their alleged involvement in creating the list. Kim was Park’s chief of staff and Cho, who resigned as culture minister after being arrested, was senior presidential secretary for political affairs at the time.

    • Amos Yee complaining he’ll be detained in US longer than being jailed in S’pore

      Amos Yee, the 18-year-old teenager who ran away from Singapore to seek political asylum in the United States, is facing the prospect of a prolonged detention that exceeds the number of days he had been jailed in Singapore.

      This was after he came face-to-face with the reality that the world doesn’t care about him or his case.

      In a Facebook post published on Jan. 22, 2017, Yee ranted that he will be kept in detention in the US longer than he was jailed in Singapore as the court takes its time deciding on his case.

    • President Donald Trump parades through Washington as unprecedented clashes erupt just a few blocks away

      When Donald Trump made his way to the White House after he had been sworn in as the country’s 45th President, he may, or may not, have been able to detect the whiff of burning.

      Just a couple of hours before Mr Trump sat and watched a military parade and prepared to head off to the traditional inaugural balls, protesters had clashed with riot police in streets not far away, an event unprecedented at a presidential inauguration. Protesters set fire to at least one vehicle and smashed windows, while police fired tear gas and pushed people back with shields. More than 200 people were arrested and six police officers were hurt.

      When he spoke to the nation on Friday afternoon for the first time after taking the 35-word oath with which he became president, Mr Trump delivered a populist, nationalist rallying cry in which he vowed that “this moment on, it’s going to be America first”.

    • Fighting Censorship with ProtonMail Encrypted Email Over Tor

      As part of our efforts to continue protecting user privacy, we are launching a Tor hidden service to combat censorship and surveillance of ProtonMail users.

      In the past two years, ProtonMail has grown enormously, especially after the recent US election, and today we are the world’s largest encrypted email service with over 2 million users. We have come a long way since our user community initially crowdfunded the project. ProtonMail today is much larger in scope than what was originally envisioned when our founding team met at CERN in 2013.

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • 1-in-10 people do not own a single book, but UK households have 8 web-connected devices

      New research shows that one-in-10 people in the UK do not own any books, although many households have over eight devices connected to the internet.

      Technology has become so intertwined with domestic life that almost 50% of households with children say they often send texts to each other, even when they are all at home.

      Research by the National Literacy Trust found that 85% of those aged 8-15 own a games console, and 81% have a mobile phone.

    • How to Protest Without Sacrificing Your Digital Privacy

      There will be many watchful eyes taking notice of your activities this weekend. On Thursday, several days of planned protests started in Washington DC in anticipation of the inauguration of President-elect Trump. Tomorrow, the Women’s March on Washington will kick off, with thousands expected to turn up.

      Naturally, law enforcement will likely be heavily surveilling these protests and others with all sorts of tech and spying gear. And it’s not just the cops: when much of a protest is broadcast via tweets or live-steaming, those watching may also want to digitally target protesters, perhaps by identifying them publicly.

    • Your ‘anonmyized’ web browsing history may not be anonymous

      Researchers have written computer programs that found patterns among anonymized data about web traffic and used those patterns to identify individual users. The researchers note web users with active social media are vulnerable to the attack.

    • Edward Snowden Tweet Hints That The NSA Can Access Your ‘Secret Thoughts & Feelings’ – Telepathy?

      As most of you know, Edward Snowden is the former intelligence contractor who leaked the NSA’s mass surveillance program and discovered some of the most solid evidence for the existence of clandestine black budget operations. But did we really need the leak in order to believe this? Prior to his leaks, the issue was still considered a conspiracy theory by many, despite the fact that there was still good evidence for these programs prior to Snowden’s revelations.

    • Locations are hard

      Turns out that figuring out people’s locations is hard, especially if you want to try to reduce the amount of work someone has to do or if they are likely to be using a mobile phone.

      For some reason, I’d thought that this was already a solved problem, so was somewhat surprised when feedback on a mockup made me question that assumption. After pinging Máirín Duffy to find out if we had access to a database of countries, and how they break down into cities/states/provinces/etc, she realized that we needed a longer discussion.

    • A response to ‘Strong Encryption and Death’

      To be honest, I didn’t actually go through with this project as there were just too many variables that I hadn’t figured out. There is a lot of trust involved in this that potentially requires a very small number of people (2) to really hose things up. It’s not that I wouldn’t trust my “trusted friends” with the responsibility but it potentially makes them targets and two is just a really low threshold for an adversary to recover this information.

      What really threw me was that the author also included a copy of his private key in case they couldn’t locate it on his computer to, I’m assuming here, access other data. I have one word for this: NOPE!

      Okay, short of the private key thing, what was proposed was quite logical. Like I said above, I had a very similar idea a while back. Springboarding from that idea, I’d like to propose another layer of security into this whole process.

    • Lavabit relaunches secure email service, encrypted mail goes open-source

      Lavabit has resurrected itself from the ashes to once again provide secure email services in a post-Snowden world.

      Ladar Levison, CEO and owner of Lavabit, chose the US Inauguration Day to announce the firm’s relaunch, saying in a statement to users that the email service will once again become available in order to protect “freedom, justice, and liberty,” as secured by the US Constitution.

    • Lavabit Reloaded

      Former Lavabit users will be able to access their accounts in “Trustful” mode and update their credentials to the new DIME standard. Anyone who wants a future Lavabit account can pre-register for our next release available in all security modes. Anyone can access our free, open source library, and associated command line tools capable of creating, and handling the new DIME standard. Anyone with a domain can deploy Magma or implement their own encrypted DIME compatible server. These are just the first steps of many as our implicit goals are to build the graphical clients for Windows, Mac OS X/iOS, and Linux/Android and help others implement this new technology.

    • Encrypted Email Service Once Used by Edward Snowden Relaunches

      In 2013, Ladar Levison, founder of the encrypted email service Lavabit, took the defiant step of shutting down the company’s service rather than comply with a federal law enforcement request that could compromise its customers’ communications.

      The FBI had sought access to the email account of one of Lavabit’s most prominent users — Edward Snowden. Levison had custody of his service’s SSL encryption key that could help the government obtain Snowden’s password. And though the feds insisted they were only after Snowden’s account, the key would have helped them obtain the credentials for other users as well.

      Lavabit had 410,000 user accounts at the time.

    • Android permissions and hypocrisy

      There’s no reason to assume that they’re being malicious here. The reasons that these permissions exist at all is that there are legitimate reasons to use them, and Kaspersky may well have good reason to request them. But they don’t explain that, and they do literally everything that their blog post criticises (including explicitly requesting the phone’s IMEI). Why should we trust a Russian company more than a Chinese one?

      The moral here isn’t that Kaspersky are evil or that Meitu are virtuous. It’s that talking about application permissions is difficult and we don’t have the language to explain to users what our apps are doing and why they’re doing it, and Google are still falling far short of where they should be in terms of making this transparent to users. But the other moral is that you shouldn’t complain about the permissions an app requires when you’re asking for even more of them because it just makes you look stupid and bad at your job.

    • Android apps, IMEIs and privacy

      There’s been a sudden wave of people concerned about the Meitu selfie app’s use of unique phone IDs. Here’s what we know: the app will transmit your phone’s IMEI (a unique per-phone identifier that can’t be altered under normal circumstances) to servers in China. It’s able to obtain this value because it asks for a permission called READ_PHONE_STATE, which (if granted) means that the app can obtain various bits of information about your phone including those unique IDs and whether you’re currently on a call.

      Why would anybody want these IDs? The simple answer is that app authors mostly make money by selling advertising, and advertisers like to know who’s seeing their advertisements. The more app views they can tie to a single individual, the more they can track that user’s response to different kinds of adverts and the more targeted (and, they hope, more profitable) the advertising towards that user. Using the same ID between multiple apps makes this easier, and so using a device-level ID rather than an app-level one is preferred. The IMEI is the most stable ID on Android devices, persisting even across factory resets.

    • About backdoors in Signal and other apps

      tl;dr: There is a “backdoor” in Signal nobody cares about, only Google can use it.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • How We Can Work Together To Keep Our Nation’s Youth Out Of The Prison System

      Last summer on July 19, a then 14 year-old Bresha Meadows was arrested for the alleged homicide of her father. On January 20, she’ll stand in a hearing as a 15 year-old who has spent 175 days in jail. According to her relatives, Bresha responded in self-defense to her father Jonathan Meadows’s menacing abuse on his family, specifically Bresha’s mother Brandi. In 2011, she filed a civil domestic violence protection order against her husband for fear that he would continue to torment her and her children.

      Despite a history of abuse, Bresha Meadows is being tried for aggravated murder. If convicted, the maximum sentence she would serve would order for her to be released at the age of 21. Although she no longer faces the possibility of a life sentence, activists are dedicated to an agenda that demands her freedom.

    • Protesters Face Increasing Criminalization in Trump Era

      Changes aim to hit protestors with criminal records and beefed up fines and pardoning their accidental killing.

      Donald Trump was officially sworn in Friday as one of the most unpopular U.S. presidents in recent history, sparking off widespread protests around the world. Resistance through protest and mass organization in the U.S. is likely to become more difficult and increasingly regarded as a criminal act. Trump has voiced his intolerance for peaceful protest and a number of Republican-backed state laws have been proposed to crack down on peaceful demonstrations.

    • Commuting Chelsea Manning’s sentence is not enough

      In early July 2016, Chelsea Manning was found to be unresponsive in her cell at the prison barracks of Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, where she was serving a 35-year prison sentence for leaking secret military archives and diplomatic documents to WikiLeaks. She barely survived.

      The military responded by punishing her with solitary confinement, which led to another unsuccessful suicide attempt. For people who had long followed Manning’s case, one thing was becoming clear: she was likely to take her own life if President Barack Obama didn’t commute her sentence.

      During her trial in 2013, it was obvious that Ms Manning was clearly suffering from gender dysphoria. She had been struggling with it while being deployed in Iraq during the war at a time when being openly gay was grounds for discharge from the US military. Her conviction meant that she could finally be seen as Chelsea Manning, but her struggle to get gender reassignment surgery, which included a hunger strike, and being forced to cut her hair to male standards owing to prison rules, continued to affect her mental health.

    • Policing For Dummies: DOJ/Baltimore PD Edition

      Apologies to everyone in America. The Department of Justice can’t fix what’s wrong with the nation’s police departments. It’s up to those departments to make the changes and stick to them. There has to be a desire to change, otherwise all we’ll end up with is better documentation of police misconduct and excessive force.

      A police department has to fall pretty far before the DOJ is willing to step in. Consent agreements follow reports — all of which can be described as “scathing”. These follow DOJ investigations in which it’s routinely discovered the officers employed by the police department either don’t know the first thing about constitutionally-compliant policing… or just don’t care.

    • Jogger punched into Acocks Green canal by thug, escaped by speaking ARABIC

      A jogger has told how he was almost drowned by a canal-path thug – and only escaped by speaking to them in Arabic.

      Dad-of-two Lee Skinner, 38, was punched in the face and knocked into the freezing water as he ran past five hooded youths in Acocks Green .

    • SWEDEN CRUMBLING: Demands for military intervention as thugs turn Malmo into ‘no-go zone’

      Launching a seething attack on the red-green parties in Malmo, Magnus Olsson said it was time to call in the military to end the surge in violent crimes that have been sweeping the city.

      Painting a blake picture of Sweden’s third largest city, the opposition politician blasted Malmo has lost enough of its citizens to shootouts, grenade attacks and murders.

      Speaking to Expressen, Mr Olsson also said there was a great lack of police officers in Sweden, which means officers could benefit from the armed forces’ resources.

    • Michael Moore and Mark Ruffalo Lead Inauguration Protest at Manhattan’s Trump Hotel

      With organizers and speakers taking to a stage set up in front of the Trump International Hotel at Columbus Circle, crowds funneled onto Central Park West bearing signs that read “Hate Ain’t Great,” “Not My President” and “This Is Not Normal,” among other slogans. The gathering stretched some four blocks deep, with one estimate pegging the number of attendees at as much as 20,000. A big screen broadcast the speeches for people too far back to see.Baldwin broke out the Trump impression he’d honed on “Saturday Night Live,” riffing on Trump’s ties to Russia and on some of the seamier claims in the intelligence dossier that hit the press last week. Imagining Trump standing in the middle of the rally with no access to a bathroom, Baldwin-as-Trump told the crowd, “When I get to the Russian consulate after this, I’m gonna have a really, really long pee.”

    • How Unworldly Are The Pretend Security People Of The TSA Who Grope You At The Airport?

      It seems the repurposed mall food court workers now providing “security” (aka a massive, pointless slowdown and search of passengers) need a memo instructing them in the most basic basics…

    • Texas lawmaker polls mosque leaders on Sharia law support

      A Texas lawmaker is asking state mosque leaders to pledge support for the “safety” of former Muslims in a mailed survey being condemned by Islamic civil rights groups.

      A spokesman for the Council on American-Islamic Relations said Thursday that he told mosque leaders to ignore Republican state Rep. Kyle Biedermann.

      One question asks respondents to renounce any possible persecution that those leaving Islam could face. Others inquired about renouncing “institutionalized Sharia law” and gauged support for having the U.S. State Department label the Muslim Brotherhood a foreign terrorist organization.

    • Muslim clerics attack rally for missing Pakistani activists

      Pakistani police say Muslim clerics attacked a rally calling for the release of five anti-Taliban activists and bloggers who went missing earlier this month.

      Police official Niaz Kundi says the clerics hurled bricks at the rally in the southern city of Karachi on Thursday without wounding anyone, and were later dispersed by police.

    • Europe’s Islam problem and U.S. immigration policy

      I come from the American Left. I am a feminist. I am a gay rights activist. These commitments form the core of my professional and personal life. Consequently, the argument I am about to make for tighter U.S. controls on the immigration of Muslims may surprise some readers. It shouldn’t. Islam is endemically antithetical to the well-being of gay people—primarily the people about whom and for whom I write. American liberals don’t want to hear this argument, however, because they share, ironically, with American conservatives a rather unreflective commitment to the defense of religion at all costs. Conservatives think the answer to most any problem is their religion. Increasingly, liberals seem to think that the answer is simply more religion—something they like to call diversity.

    • Piers Akerman: Unholy matrimony and the Islamic culture’s hidden stain

      In the 2015-16 financial year alone, the Australian Federal Police investigated 69 ­incidents of forced marriage, more than double that investigated the previous year.

      Just last week, an imam, a Muslim religious leader, faced a Melbourne court after allegedly forcing a child into marriage, while the 34-year-old “husband” of the minor appeared via videolink charged with sexually penetrating a child under the age of 16.

      Ibrahim Omerdic, 61, appeared before the Melbourne Magistrates Court on Friday over an alleged forced marriage at Noble Park, in Melbourne’s southeast, along with the husband, who cannot be identified. The latter is also charged with being a party to a forced marriage.

    • The Saudi women afraid to go home

      “This is it,” Arwa said as she sat in the US immigration office on the outskirts of Houston, Texas last month. Having fled Saudi Arabia two years earlier, her 7 a.m. appointment would reveal if her application for asylum had been successful or whether she would be forced to leave America.

      “What I really want is just to live normally without fear and not have to pretend to be somebody else, that’s all I ever want,” Arwa told CNN on the eve of her appointment.

      “What really scares me is that I wouldn’t get this asylum, and I would be returned and I would die young, and that I would lose everything that I tried to build, that I would just fail.”

    • Man in Sweden ‘live-streamed gang rape on Facebook’

      The men have been arrested in Sweden on suspicion of gang-raping a woman, after one allegedly live-streamed the crime on a closed Facebook page.

      According to Sweden’s Aftonbladet tabloid, the alleged crime took place in an apartment in the city of Uppsala early on Sunday morning. The victim was reportedly close to unconscious.

    • Sweden gang rape ‘live-streamed on Facebook’

      A gang rape that was reportedly live-streamed on Facebook has led to the arrest of three people.

      The trio was detained after the alleged attack in an apartment in Uppsala, Sweden, on Saturday night.

      The crime was broadcast on a closed Facebook group, according to Swedish tabloid, Aftonbladet.

    • Another teenager shot in Malmö on Saturday night

      Yet another teenager has been shot in Sweden’s third city of Malmö — but this time the youth’s life was saved because he was wearing a bullet-proof jacket.
      According to police, the man was shot several times, suffering severe but not life-threatening injuries to his leg.

      The police were called at around a quarter to eight on Saturday evening by a man working at a grocery shop in the area around the Lindängen housing estate.

    • Man dies after coming to Stockholm hospital with gunshot wounds

      A man has died in Stockholm after turning up at a hospital in the Swedish capital with gunshot wounds.

      The 25-year-old came injured to Karolinska University Hospital on Sunday evening, but died later that night.

      Police have been cautious in releasing details about the incident, saying only that he was shot “in the Stockholm area” and came to the hospital without the help of the police or an ambulance.

    • I Had All of My Electronics (That I had at the time) Seized by U.S. Customs and Border Protection

      After my trip in Hamburg, Germany, for the 33rd Chaos Communication Congress, I left Germany for the United States for a short vacation to visit family and friends. Upon my arrival in the United States, I was detained by Customs and Border Protection (CBP) where my belongings were picked apart and I was asked lots of strange, some offensive questions about my personal life. I refused to answer any questions and instead gave them the contact information for my lawyer. They demanded I decrypt my phone so they could “make sure there isn’t any bad stuff on there”. When I told them no, they said they would seize all of my electronics and search all of them for “contraband”. I persisted and they seized about $2,000 worth of electronics and told me I would “get them back”. We’ll see about that. In total I was detained over 3 hours by CBP alone, and despite that CBP documentation says that I can notify someone of my detainment if I have been detained for more than 2 hours, I was not allowed to even after that point. This seems to have been a violation of CBP policy.

    • Anupam Kher dedicates poem for Kashmiri Hindu and Pandits’ 27 Years of Exile.

      Kashmiri Pandits are a minority in the Muslim majority Valley. Many reportedly started being killed by militants in 1990, prompting fearful Pandits to migrate to the plains of the peaceful Jammu region of the state. Every day, dozens of Pandit families would pick up whatever little they could and cross the Banihal tunnel to reach Jammu, where they had to live in camps and tents and in inhuman conditions.

    • UK woman imprisoned in Iran has conviction upheld in appeals court

      A British-Iranian woman sentenced to five years in jail in Iran on unspecific charges relating to national security has had her conviction upheld in the appeals court, according to judiciary officials.

      Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, a project manager with the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the news agency’s charitable arm, appealed against her sentence earlier this month in what was her last legal opportunity to challenge it.

      “Her sentence has been confirmed,” Gholam-Hossein Mohseni-Ejei, the judiciary spokesperson, told reporters in Tehran on Sunday, the semi-official Isna news agency reported.

    • Central Java city renames Pork Festival after protests by Muslim groups

      Organisers of a culinary event named the Pork Festival in the Central Java city of Semarang have been forced to rename it following protests from Islamic groups.

      The event will now be known as Imlek Culinary Festival. Imlek is the local name for Chinese New Year, which falls on Jan 28 this year.

      The Islamic groups met the festival’s committee at the Semarang Police station to discuss the event, which will be held at the Sri Ratu Supermarket in Semarang on Jan 23 to 29.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Disruptive Technologies Pose Challenge To IP Protection, Speakers In Thailand Say

      He said the court has already adapted to new environments by allowing use of video conferencing, digital audio and video records of witness’ testimonies, and electronic filings in its court proceedings.

    • Copyrights

      • Mystery as controversial list of predatory publishers disappears
      • Powerful Copyright Alliance Mulls its Own Anti-Piracy Service

        The powerful pro-copyright organization Copyright Alliance appears to be mulling its own anti-piracy service. In a survey published this week, the organization, which counts the MPAA, RIAA and dozens of other large groups as members, asked if copyright holders would use such a service if one was available.

      • UK Police Threats Fail to ‘Impress’ Pirate Site Operator

        City of London Police’s Intellectual Property Crime Unit is targeting online piracy on multiple fronts. Besides pressing advertisers and hosting companies, pirate site owners are also being contacted directly. This week some fresh letters were sent out, urging operators to shut down or go legit. However, not all recipients are impressed by the latest enforcement action.

      • Netflix VPN Crackdown, A Year of Frustrations

        Last year Netflix launched an aggressive campaign to prevent its users from bypassing geo-blockades through VPN services. The crackdown has met fierce resistance around the world but is still in effect. Today we review the current state of affairs with some prominent VPN providers, many of whom voice concerns about the ongoing blocking efforts.

      • Megaupload 2.0 News Delayed By ‘Expected’ Roadblock

        A few hours ago Kim Dotcom was gearing up to make an important announcement about a new version of the defunct Megaupload service. However, with minutes left to go, the Megaupload 2.0 plans hit an “expected” roadblock, which means that the wait continues.

      • London Has Fallen Copyright Trolls Test Norway After US Retreat

        The copyright trolls behind the action movie London Has Fallen are testing out the Norwegian market after things got tricky in the US. In November, LHF Productions backed away from suing a US citizen after they were threatened with exposure, but now they’re demanding money in Europe.

      • CBS & Paramount Finally Settle With Fan Film Axanar

        A little over a year ago, we first wrote about the unfortunate situation in which CBS & Paramount had sued a group of people trying to make a fan film in the Star Trek universe, called Axanar. Beyond the basic legal questions, there was a bigger issue here. Paramount has actually been pretty good about allowing fan films. The difference with Axanar was that it was shaping up to be a really good fan film, with professional level actors, sets and staff. And that was what set off Paramount and CBS, who jointly hold the copyrights on Star Trek. The big question then is what’s the line between a fan film… and an unauthorized derivative work? This wasn’t necessarily a question in the past, but today with the ease of making films (and funding them through platforms like Kickstarter), it becomes a much bigger question.

        Something of a wrench was thrown into the proceedings last May, when JJ Abrams and Justin Lin — who are involved in the official new Star Trek films — claimed on stage that they were quite upset with Paramount for going after Axanar, and claimed that they’d gotten word from the company that it was going to settle the lawsuit. Of course, in the intervening months, no settlement showed up, and the filings back and forth between the parties got more and more rancorous. Things were finally heading towards a trial in just a few days… but now a settlement has finally been reached.

01.20.17

Links 20/1/2017: Docker 1.13, Linux 4.4.44 LTS

Posted in News Roundup at 8:12 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • What is Linux?
  • Anatomy of a Linux distribution
  • Anatomy of a Linux distribution 1
  • Anatomy of a Linux distribution 2
  • Anatomy of a Linux distribution 3
  • Desktop

    • Desktop environments in my computer

      I started my Linux journey with Gnome, as it was the default desktop environment in RHL. I took some time to find out about KDE. I guess I found out accidentally during re-installation. It used to be fun to have a desktop that looks different, behaves differently than the normal. During the earlier years in college while I was trying to find out more about Linux, using KDE marked me as a Linux expert. I was powered with the right syntax of mount command to mount the windows partitions and the xmms-mp3 rpm. I spent most of my time in the terminal.

  • Server

    • Distributed Fabric: A New Architecture for Container-Based Applications

      There’s a palpable sense of excitement in the application development world around container technology. Containers bring a new level of agility and speed to app development, giving developers the ability to break large monolithic apps into small, manageable microservices that can talk to one another, be more easily tested and deployed, and operate more efficiently as a full application. However, containers also demand a new architecture for the application services managing these microservices and apps, particularly in regards to service discovery — locating and consuming the services of those microservices.

    • DevOps trends emerging for 2017 and beyond

      Finally, one of the biggest trends for 2017 will not be just a focus on engaging and implementing some of these DevOps best practices into your enterprise, but a sweeping adoption of the DevOps/agile culture. This is because one of the most important – if not the absolute most key –tenets to a successful DevOps organization is culture. The enterprises that most espouse the shared responsibility, the empowered autonomous teams, the can-do attitudes, and the continuous learning environment in which DevOps thrives will see the biggest benefits.

    • Introducing Docker 1.13

      Today we’re releasing Docker 1.13 with lots of new features, improvements and fixes to help Docker users with New Year’s resolutions to build more and better container apps. Docker 1.13 builds on and improves Docker swarm mode introduced in Docker 1.12 and has lots of other fixes. Read on for Docker 1.13 highlights.

    • Docker 1.13 Officially Released, Docker for AWS and Azure Ready for Production

      Docker announced today the general availability of Docker 1.13, the third major update of the open-source application container engine for GNU/Linux, macOS, and Microsoft Windows operating systems.

      Docker 1.13 has been in development for the past couple of months, during which it received no less than seven RC (Release Candidate) versions that implemented numerous improvements for the new Swarm Mode introduced in Docker 1.12, a few security features, as well as a new Remote API (version 1.25) and Client.

    • Docker 1.13 Prunes Containers, Improves Security

      The Docker 1.13 release introduces multiple new commands including prune and squash, which can help containers to use disk space more efficiently.

      Docker officially announced its 1.13 release on Jan. 19, with new capabilities to help build, manage and secure containers.

    • Who’s cashing in on containers? Look to the cloud

      Docker-style containers are so hot they’ve broken the scale ETR uses to measure CIO intent to purchase enterprise technology, registering “the strongest buying intention score ever recorded in [its] six-year history.”

      While that data is more than a year old, more recent analyses peg Docker adoption up by a factor of 2.6 in 2016 over 2015, yielding a market worth $762 million in 2016, projected to bloat to $2.7 billion by 2020, according to 451 Research.

    • Serverless Computing Is the Stack Reimagined [Ed: Serverless=you have less control over the computer you use. Cloud=you have no ownership of the computer you use. Serverless Cloud=suicide.]

      In Ho’s own words, “Serverless computing is the code execution model that the cloud provider abstracts the complexity of managing individual servers.” This basically means the provider worries about the servers. You just run your code on them.

  • Kernel Space

    • Optimizing Linux for Slow Computers

      It’s interesting, to consider what constitutes a power user of an operating system. For most people in the wider world a power user is someone who knows their way around Windows and Microsoft Office a lot, and can help them get their print jobs to come out right. For those of us in our community, and in particular Linux users though it’s a more difficult thing to nail down. If you’re a LibreOffice power user like your Windows counterpart, you’ve only really scratched the surface. Even if you’ve made your Raspberry Pi do all sorts of tricks in Python from the command line, or spent a career shepherding websites onto virtual Linux machines loaded with Apache and MySQL, are you then a power user compared to the person who knows their way around the system at the lower level and has an understanding of the kernel? Probably not. It’s like climbing a mountain with false summits, there are so many layers to power usership.

      So while some of you readers will be au fait with your OS at its very lowest level, most of us will be somewhere intermediate. We’ll know our way around our OS in terms of the things we do with it, and while those things might be quite advanced we’ll rely on our distribution packager to take care of the vast majority of the hard work.

    • Long-Term Maintenance, or How to (Mis-)Manage Embedded Systems for 10+ Years

      In this presentation, kernel hacker Jan Lübbe will explain why apparently reasonable approaches to long-term maintenance fail and how to establish a sustainable workflow instead.

    • Linux 4.9 Is the Next Long-Term Supported Kernel Branch, Says Greg Kroah-Hartman

      Linux kernel maintainer Greg Kroah-Hartman confirmed today, January 19, 2017, in a short message, on his Google+ page, that the Linux 4.9 branch is now marked as “longterm,” or as some of you know as LTS (Long-Term Support).

      The story behind Linux kernel 4.9 becoming the next long-term supported series dates from way before it’s launch last month, on December 11, when Linus Torvalds officially announced the new branch. It all started back on August 12, 2016, when Greg Kroah-Hartman dropped a quick Google+ post to say “4.9 == next LTS kernel.”

    • Maintainers Don’t Scale

      First let’s look at how the kernel community works, and how a change gets merged into Linus Torvalds’ repository. Changes are submitted as patches to mailing list, then get some review and eventually get applied by a maintainer to that maintainer’s git tree. Each maintainer then sends pull request, often directly to Linus. With a few big subsystems (networking, graphics and ARM-SoC are the major ones) there’s a second or third level of sub-maintainers in. 80% of the patches get merged this way, only 20% are committed by a maintainer directly.

      Most maintainers are just that, a single person, and often responsible for a bunch of different areas in the kernel with corresponding different git branches and repositories. To my knowledge there are only three subsystems that have embraced group maintainership models of different kinds: TIP (x86 and core kernel), ARM-SoC and the graphics subsystem (DRM).

    • Linux Kernel 4.9.5 Released with Updated Radeon Drivers, KVM and PPC Fixes

      A new maintenance update of the Linux 4.9 kernel series was announced today by renowned Linux kernel maintainer and developer Greg Kroah-Hartman, versioned 4.9.5.

      Coming only five days after the previous point release, Linux kernel 4.9.5 appears to be a big milestone that changes a total of 132 files, with 1515 insertions and 821 deletions. There are numerous improvements implemented in this fifth Linux 4.9 maintenance update, but first we’d like to remind you that Greg Kroah-Hartman recently marked this kernel branch as long-term supported (LTS), yet this is not apparent from kernel.org.

    • Linux Kernel 4.4.44 LTS Brings Some x86 Improvements, Various Updated Drivers

      After informing us about the availability of the fifth maintenance update of the Linux 4.9 kernel series, which has recently become a long-term supported branch, Greg Kroah-Hartman is today announcing the availability of Linux 4.4.44 LTS.

      If you’re reading our regular reports on the Linux kernel, you should be aware of the fact that the Linux 4.4 kernel branch is a long-term support (LTS) one that should get security patches for one more year, until February 2018. This branch is currently available in several popular GNU/Linux distributions, including Ubuntu 16.04 LTS, Alpine Linux, and Arch Linux, and Linux 4.4.44 LTS is now the most advanced release.

    • Linux 4.9 Confirmed As The New Long-Term Supported Kernel
    • Graphics Stack

      • RADV Vulkan Driver Has Geometry Shader Support For Testing

        David Airlie has published a set of 31 patches for testing that provide initial support for geometry shaders within the RADV Radeon Vulkan driver.

        While RadeonSI has long supported geometry shaders, it’s been a bigger work item bringing it to this open-source Radeon Vulkan driver within Mesa. The patches are enough for Vulkan geometry shaders to get working on RADV, but Airlie explains that the support isn’t gold: “This is a first pass at geometry shader support on radv, all the code should be here in reviewable pieces, it seems to mostly pass CTS tests but triggers some llvm 3.9 bugs around kill, and there might still be a GPU hang in here, but this should still be a good place to start reviewing.”

      • libinput 1.6.0

        This release fixes the slow touchpad acceleration on touchpads with less than 1000dpi, a missing call to normalized the deltas was the source of the issue.

      • Libinput 1.6 Released With New Touchpad Acceleration

        Libinput 1.6.0 was announced a short time ago on wayland-devel.

      • Mesa 17 Gets a First Release Candidate, Final Planned for Early February 2017

        Collabora’s Emil Velikov announced today, January 19, 2017, the availability of the first of many Release Candidate (RC) development versions of the upcoming and highly anticipated Mesa 17.0.0 3D Graphics Library.

        Mesa 17 is shaping up to be a huge milestone that should dramatically improve the performance of the bundled open-source graphics drivers for Intel, AMD Radeon, Nvidia graphics cards on a Linux-based operating system. Just the other day it enabled OpenGL 4.5 support for Intel Haswell GPUs, which is already a big achievement.

      • More Radeon & AMDGPU Fixes Line-Up For Linux 4.10

        Alex Deucher has sent in another batch of fixes for the Radeon and AMDGPU DRM drivers for the Linux 4.10 kernel.

        These fixes include support for a few peculiar Southern Islands graphics processors in AMDGPU and Radeon drivers. The affected SI GPUs now supported are those needing the “si58″ memory controller microcode. Unfortunately, haven’t been able to find much other details on the particular SI chips affected.

      • Mesa 17.0 Saw Less Code Changes Than Earlier Releases, But More Notable Features

        With Mesa 17.0 up to its release candidates and being under a feature freeze, I explored this morning how the size of the changes for Mesa 17.0 compare to earlier Mesa milestones.

        Mesa 17.0 ships with many exciting end-user changes such as OpenGL 4.5 for RadeonSI, OpenGL 4.5 for Haswell, many RADV and ANV Vulkan driver improvements, improved OpenGL 4.x Nouveau support, and many other features I’ll recap shortly in a Mesa 17.0 feature overview article.

      • The open source Vulkan driver ‘radv’ for AMD on Linux has patches for geometry shader support

        Dave Airlie sent in a massive patch-set of 31 patches for ‘radv’, the open source AMD Vulkan driver, to support geometry shaders.

      • ARB_transform_feedback_overflow_query For Intel’s Mesa Driver
      • Mesa’s Libdrm Gets USB DRM/KMS Device Detection

        Libdrm has some new patches this morning from a NVIDIA developer.

        Thierry Reding of NVIDIA landed xf86drm USB support so that DRM/KMS devices hosted via USB can be detected via Mesa’s DRM device infrastructure.

      • Mesa 13.0.3 Headed to Ubuntu 16.04 LTS

        Mesa 13.0.3 will shortly be available to Ubuntu 16.04 LTS users to install, without needing to add any additional PPAs.

    • Benchmarks

      • Intel Kabylake: Windows 10 vs. Linux OpenGL Performance

        For those curious about the current Kabylake graphics performance between Windows 10 and Linux, here are some OpenGL benchmark results under each operating system. Windows 10 Pro x64 was tested and the Linux distributions for comparison were Ubuntu 16.10, Clear Linux, Antergos, Fedora 25 Xfce, and openSUSE Tumbleweed.

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

      • Qt Speech (Text to Speech) is here

        I’m happy that with Qt 5.8.0 we’ll have Qt Speech added as a new tech preview module. It took a while to get it in shape since the poor thing sometimes did not get the attention it deserved. We had trouble with some Android builds before that backend received proper care. Luckily there’s always the great Qt community to help out.

      • Text To Speech Goes In As A Tech Preview For Qt 5.8

        With Qt 5.8 that’s due to be released next week there is the new Qt Speech as a “tech preview” of text-to-speech for this tool-kit.

      • 5 Linux Desktop Environments on the Rise for 2017

        With each passing year, the Linux desktop ecosystem shifts and morphs from one darling to the next. Although it’s sometimes challenging to tell, from month to month, which desktop will reign as the fan favorite, there are always signs that a particular desktop is going to rise in market share.

        Three trends I always examine are evolution, usability, and modernity. I prefer my desktops to have evolved along with the needs of current trends and users, to be easily used, and have a modern design aesthetic. Bonus points are generally awarded for a high range of flexibility.

        Currently, the Linux desktop environment is dominated by Cinnamon, Xfce, GNOME, and Ubuntu Unity. Of those four, I believe only one will see a sharp rise in market share in 2017. Which one? Let’s dive in and see which five desktops, I think will climb the rank and file.

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK

      • GNOME 3.23.4 released

        The fourth snapshot of GNOME 3.23 is now available!

        Probably one of the most important features of this release is the inclusion of a pre-release of GTK+4 for the first time.

      • GNOME 3.23.4 Released

        The latest development release is now available of the work leading up to the GNOME 3.24 desktop in March.

        GNOME 3.23.4 is today’s new development. Core changes to GNOME 3.23.4 include memory leak fixes for EOG, Epiphany browser improvements, GJS now supports JavaScript ES6 Promises, GNOME Calendar now supports online calendars being downloaded offline and synchronized, Librsvg begins making use of Rust, Mutter Wayland fixes, and various other fixes throughout the core GNOME components.

      • Revamped Cinnamon Desktop Add-ons Website Is Now Live

        A revamped version of the Cinnamon Spices website is now live, showcasing the latest and most popular add-ons for the Linux Mint desktop.

      • Emoji Picker GNOME Extension

        You folks must think that I’m obsessed with Emoji, but you’d be …No, you’d be absolutely right about that. Actually, I don’t overuse the popular pictorial glyphs that dominate daily communication. But I do appreciate being able to find the one I want to use in a timely manner.

  • Distributions

  • Devices/Embedded

Free Software/Open Source

  • ISS Federal Lead Rob Rogers on Agencies’ Open Source Moves & ‘Information Advantage’ Efforts

    ExecutiveBiz recently caught up with ISS Federal Systems Vice President Rob Rogers for this interview to discuss ongoing data-related trends in government and where he sees agencies prioritizing efforts in that arena, plus his ideas for how the government should approach open source methodology.

    [...]

    We have seen a significant shift in the past five years around agencies adopting and embracing open source methods. For one, open source technology is the primary catalyst behind some of the most significant progress related to the evolution of “big data” and analytic capabilities, which is used pervasively in the intelligence community.

    Certain agencies have contributed major projects to the open source community, which further solidifies their position on supporting open source. One notable example is NSA’s contribution of NiFi and Accumulo to the Apache Software Foundation in 2014. If these types of actions are an indicator of the direction that the IC agencies are heading in their support of open source, then the future is bright.

  • Davos 2017: China unites 25 countries to establish Global Blockchain Business Council

    On January 17, the governmental and industrial representatives from China and 25 other countries gathered in Davos, Switzerland for the Davos Forum.

    According to the latest update provided by Tai Cloud Corporation to EconoTimes, Jamie Elizabeth Smith, the former spokesperson and special assistant of the U.S. president Obama, announced that the Global Blockchain Business Council (GBBC) is formally established. The first national team members include senior executives of World Bank Mariana Dahan, former Estonian President Toomas Hendrik Ilves, former Prime Minister of Haidi Laurent Lamont, former Economy Minister of Ukraine Aivaras Abromavičius.

  • Intel’s BigDL deep learning framework snubs GPUs for CPUs

    Last week Intel unveiled BigDL, a Spark-powered framework for distributed deep learning, available as an open source project. With most major IT vendors releasing machine learning frameworks, why not the CPU giant, too?

    What matters most about Intel’s project may not be what it offers people building deep learning solutions on Spark clusters, but what it says about Intel’s ambitions to promote hardware that competes with GPUs for those applications.

  • How is your community promoting diversity?

    Open source software is a great enabler for technology innovation. Diversity unlocks innovation and drives market growth. Open source and diversity seem like the ultimate winning combination, yet ironically open source communities are among the least diverse tech communities. This is especially true when it comes to inherent diversity: traits such as gender, age, ethnicity, and sexual orientation.

  • Walmart’s Contributions to Open Source

    You might first think about open source in the context of outstanding tools for lean startup companies, but open source also finds a welcome home in behemoth, established companies, such as Walmart. In this O’Reilly OSCON video interview with Walmart Lab’s Alex Grigoryan, learn how Walmart both benefits from and contributes back to open source. The key takeaway? Open source allows you to reuse software components in labor saving ways.

  • Librecore: Aiming To Be A Better Libre Spin Of Coreboot

    Librecore is a new project aiming to be a new Coreboot downstream with a focus remaining on providing fully-free system firmware. Separately, Minifree/Libreboot has been accused (and admitted by Leah Rowe) to not paying a vendor for a completed contract.

    Librecore was formed due to “[Libreboot lead developer Leah Rowe] alienating large portions of the community, plus the stagnant and hard to use libreboot firmware and build system.” With Librecore, they are aiming to use industry-standard tools and build environments. Another different design decision is pursuing Petitboot as the payload for a more modern and useful interface over GRUB as a payload.

  • Use of open source software growing across telecom

    Open source software may still be a new model for the telecommunications industry, but it’s rapidly gaining traction as operators look to mimic computing world.

    While the open source community has quickly gaining ground in the computing space, the traditional telecommunications industry has a history of hardening its siloed approach to networking technology. This was especially apparent at a time when most mobile telecom networks were 2G-based, with 3G technology just coming online in more advanced markets.

  • Options for Open Source Support

    If you’ve been following the work we’re doing around open source at Rogue Wave Software, you’ve probably heard us say that open source software (OSS) has “crossed the chasm” or is “eating the enterprise.” Although the open source enterprise landscape is still truly nascent, there is no question that open source development principles and the products themselves have “won.” That begs the question: “Now what do we do?”

    You’re leveraging free software, perhaps even without knowing it! Your developers are seeking out open source libraries to meet your business demands before writing the code themselves. You’re using an open source application server, middleware solution, or operating system instead of an expensive and locked-in commercial alternative. You’ve shortened your development cycles, you’re releasing things faster, and you’ve gained a competitive edge by embracing community developed solutions in your enterprise.

  • Google’s VR art app is open source and ready to get weird

    Google’s Tilt Brush is capable of some pretty impressive results. But what if those 3D paintings and projects you made while strapped into virtual reality could escape into the real world?

  • Google’s open-source Tilt Brush: Now you can create 3D movies in VR
  • Google Is Quietly Turning VR Into A Real Creative Tool
  • ‘Tilt Brush’ Toolkit Turns Artists Into Animators With Unity Integration
  • Tilt Brush creations can now be exported to other projects
  • Tilt Brush Toolkit helps artists make their VR paintings interactive
  • Google creates Tilt Brush Toolkit to help 2D artists work better in 3D
  • Google Open Sources More Virtual Reality Tools
  • Events

  • Web Browsers

  • SaaS/Back End

    • EIT Digital begins work on Hadoop open source product and start-up to take innovation to market
    • EIT Digital to Launch Hadoop-Based Software Framework, and a Startup

      While not everyone in the U.S. is familiar with it, EIT Digital is a leading European open innovation organization, and it has just launched a new innovation program called HopsWorks to work on a next-generation Hadoop open-source software framework for distributed storage and processing of very large data sets.

      The idea is to leverage Hadoop’s Big Data strengths in a new type of software framework, and a whole new startup comany will be created to take it to market.

      Dr. Jim Dowling, Senior Researcher at the Swedish Institute of Computer Science (SICS Swedish ICT) and the leader of EIT Digital HopsWorks Innovation Activity, said: “Hadoop is an open-source software framework for storing data and running applications on clusters of commodity hardware. Our product, dubbed ‘Hops’, will provide the first truly multi-tenant, elastic Hadoop distribution service with unified batch and streaming.”

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice

  • Education

    • What Do You Do? ‘I Run An Open Source Learning System Used By Millions’

      I’m CEO of Moodle, a learning management system. It’s a piece of software that is like an operating system for education. You can add and remove tools, and you can build an environment for learning. The teacher usually controls it. The students are usually going through activities set by the teacher, although that’s not always the case. It doesn’t just have to be like that. It’s ultimately a place where you’ll collaborate and work together and learn from each other.

      I started off making up this job because I was solving problems, bit by bit. There’s a lot of things involved in that, but ultimately, it’s glueing together a lot of different skills that I learned from a lot of different people, and solving problems in a bigger way.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

  • Licensing/Legal

    • The GPL in Layman’s Terms – Free as in What?

      Through the glazed-over eyes of friends and family, past that painful look of well-intended but feigned interest, I can clearly see a fundamental lack of understanding about this free software I’m constantly going on about.

    • Open Source Software: What Every In-House Counsel Should Know

      Open source software (OSS) is ubiquitous in software development today, enabling technical innovation, productivity gains, and touching everything from big data and cloud to mobile and embedded. Control modules on the market today commonly include OSS components such as real-time operating systems, libraries, data interfaces, firmware, and display software.

    • 4 Common Open Source License Compliance Failures and How to Avoid Them

      Companies or organizations that don’t have a strong open source compliance program often suffer from errors and limitations in processes throughout the software development cycle that can lead to open source compliance failures.

      The previous article in this series covered common intellectual property failures. This time, we’ll discuss the four common open source license compliance failures and how to avoid them.

  • Programming/Development

    • GCC 7 Moves Onto Only Regression/Doc Fixes, But Will Accept RISC-V & HSA’s BRIG

      The GNU Compiler Collection (GCC) is entering its “stage four” development for GCC 7 with the stable GCC 7.1 release expected in March or April.

      Richard Biener announced today that GCC 7 is under stage four, meaning only regression and documentation fixes will be permitted until the GCC 7.1.0 stable release happens (yep, as per their peculiar versioning system, GCC 7.1 is the first stable release in the GCC 7 series).

    • 5 ways to expand your project’s contributor base

      So many free and open source software projects were started to solve a problem, and people began to contribute to them because they too wanted a fix to what they encountered. End users of the project find it useful for their needs, and the project grows. And that shared purpose and focus attracts people to a project’s community.

    • Weblate 2.10.1

      This is first security bugfix release for Weblate. This has to come at some point, fortunately the issue is not really severe. But Weblate got it’s first CVE ID today, so it’s time to address it in a bugfix release.

Leftovers

  • Science

    • EU MEPs Call Again For ‘Robot Rules’ To Get Ahead Of The AI Revolution

      Questions about how we approach our new robotic friends once the artificial intelligence revolution really kicks off are not new, nor are calls for developing some sort of legal framework that will govern how humanity and robots ought to interact with one another. For the better part of this decade, in fact, there have been some advocating that robots and AI be granted certain rights along the lines of what humanity, or at least animals, enjoy. And, while some of its ideas haven’t been stellar, such as a call for robots to be afforded copyright for anything they might create, the EU has been talking for some time about developing policy around the rights and obligations of artificial intelligence and its creators.

      With AI being something of a hot topic, as predictions of its eventual widespread emergence mount, it seems EU MEPs are attempting to get out ahead of the revolution.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • ProPublica Files Lawsuit Seeking VA Correspondence Related to Agent Orange

      ProPublica and the Virginian-Pilot filed a lawsuit today in federal court against the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, accusing the agency of stonewalling requests for documents under the Freedom of Information Act.

      The lawsuit, ProPublica’s second against the VA in two months, seeks a preliminary injunction compelling the government to immediately release correspondence about Agent Orange, an herbicide used to kill vegetation during the Vietnam War, including documents sent to and received by Dr. David Shulkin, the VA’s undersecretary for health. Shulkin has been nominated to be VA secretary by President-elect Donald Trump.

      ProPublica and the Pilot have been reporting about Agent Orange for 18 months, documenting ongoing effects on veterans and their families. The FOIA requests at issue in today’s lawsuit date back to May and September 2015.

    • When a Study Cast Doubt on a Heart Pill, the Drug Company Turned to Tom Price

      The $3 pill known as BiDil was already a difficult sell when a Georgia-based pharmaceutical company bought the marketing rights a few years ago. A treatment for African Americans suffering from heart failure, BiDil had never really caught on, forcing the drug company that developed it to take a buyout offer. One strike against the drug was a 2009 study that raised questions about its safety and effectiveness.

      So last summer, the new owner of the drug, Arbor Pharmaceuticals LLC of Atlanta, sought to get the study taken down from a government website. For help, the company turned to the office of a congressman to whom the CEO had given the maximum $2,700 campaign donation — Rep. Tom Price, the Georgia Republican nominated by Donald Trump to become head of the Department of Health and Human Services.

  • Security

    • After MongoDB Debacle, Expect More Ransomware, Open Source Attacks in 2017 [Ed: Black Duck is at it again]

      “Black Duck’s Open Source Security Audit Report found that, on average, vulnerabilities in open source components used in commercial application were over 5 years old,” Pittenger said. “The Linux kernel vulnerability discovered 8/16 (CVE-2016-5195) had been in the Linux code base since 2012. Most organizations don’t know about the open source vulnerabilities in their code because they don’t track the open source components they use, and don’t actively monitor open source vulnerability information.”

    • Mirai: Student behind IoT malware used it in Minecraft server protection racket, claims Krebs

      SECURITY BLOGGER BRIAN KREBS has suggested that “Anna Senpai”, the reprobate behind the Mirai Internet-of-shonky-Things (IoT) botnet, is a student studying at Rutgers University in the US.

      Krebs made his disclosure after conducting an in-depth investigation and finding out that Mirai had been developed and deployed over the past three years or so – it didn’t suddenly emerge last year.

      Krebs believes that Mirai has been used a number of times in connection with what looks suspiciously likes an online protection racket: companies running, for example, Minecraft servers being offered distributed denial of service (DDoS) protection, on the one hand, just before being taken offline in massive DDoS attacks on the other.

    • Gmail phishing scam has everyone reaching for 2FA

      STOP WHAT YOU ARE DOING, unless you don’t have a Gmail account. Carry on if that is the case.

      If you do use Gmail you apparently really, really, need to be aware of a crafty phishing scam that will have you hooked, lined, sinkered, gutted, covered in batter and served with curry sauce before you have a chance to realise that anything is happening.

      The scam that has everyone in a lather uses a deceptive URL, and quite a sneaky one. People probably won’t even notice it because, for the most part, it looks fine. It is only once it is clicked and the bastard gateway is broken through that the phishing and the stealing begins.

    • Sonatype: 1 in 15 open source app components has at least one security vulnerability
    • Friday’s security updates
    • The flatpak security model – part 2: Who needs sandboxing anyway?

      The ability to run an application sandboxed is a very important feature of flatpak. However, its is not the only reason you might want to use flatpak. In fact, since currently very few applications work in a fully sandboxed environment, most of the apps you’d run are not sandboxed.

  • Defence/Aggression

    • Supreme Court Weighs Whether Bush Officials Can Be Sued Over Post-9/11 Abuse

      The federal government’s frantic response to the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, sparked renewed debate Wednesday at the Supreme Court, as justices considered whether top officials in the George W. Bush administration could be held responsible for abuses against Muslim immigrants and others rounded up after the attacks.

      Conservatives on the court, citing the extraordinary peril of that time, appeared willing to give the officials legal protection from lawsuits arising from the detention policies they approved after the attacks.

      But some of the more liberal justices did not appear so forgiving.

      Even in a time of national emergency, government officials sometimes “can go too far,” Justice Stephen G. Breyer said. “And if they have gone too far, it is our job to say that.”

    • Obama files parting appeal to protect drone secrecy

      President Barack Obama has pulled back the curtain on aspects of the U.S. drone killing program, but as he prepared to leave office this week his administration made a legal move to prevent a judge from pulling the curtain back even further.

      Last July, a federal judge in New York issued a 191-page legal opinion resolving an American Civil Liberties Union lawsuit demanding dozens of Justice Department, Defense Department and CIA documents relating to the use of armed drones to kill individuals abroad. U.S. District Court Judge Colleen McMahon’s ruling appears to have largely favored the government’s right to keep the records under wraps.

      However, McMahon seemed to accept the ACLU’s arguments for disclosure in a few areas and she accused the government of “chutzpah” over some of its contentions. Because the government declared much of her opinion “top secret,” it’s difficult to assess.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • Chicago Mayor Promises To Turn Over Emails From His Private Accounts Following Courtroom Losses

      Not only is the use of private email accounts to route around public records requests a common practice, it’s also an accepted practice. Politicians aren’t going to sell out their own in the name of transparency, so there’s likely as many private email accounts handling official business as there are government employees. Everyone from former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg to Gen. Colin Powell has used private email accounts to handle government communications they’d rather not be made public.

      The same goes for Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel. For years, journalists and government transparency groups have been trying (and suing) to get the mayor to turn over city-related emails contained in his personal accounts. To date, the city of Chicago hasn’t budged.

      But we’re living in a “new” era of Chicago-brand transparency — the aftermath of the city’s concerted cover-up of police recordings of the Laquan McDonald shooting. The mayor pledged the city would be more open and forthcoming in the future — not a difficult promise to make considering there was nowhere to go but up.

    • Wikileaks’ founder Assange says stands by U.S. extradition offer

      WikiLeaks’ founder Julian Assange, who has been holed up at Ecuador’s London embassy since 2012, said on Thursday he stood by his offer to be extradited to the United States providing his rights were protected.

      Assange said last week he would accept extradition if former military intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning were freed and on Wednesday U.S. President Barack Obama commuted Manning’s 35-year sentence, meaning she will be released in May.

  • Finance

    • Mark Zuckerberg sues over 100 Hawaiians to force them to sell them their ancestral land

      In 2015, Mark Zuckerberg (who insists that privacy is dead) bought 100 acres of land around his vacation home in Hawaii to ensure that no one could get close enough to spy on him.

      The Zuckerberg estate on Kauai North Shore engulfs several smaller pieces of land deeded in the 1800s — kuleana lands that were granted to native Hawaiians. The owners of this land are entitled to easements through Zuckerberg’s property, so they can reach their own.

      Zuckerberg has filed “quiet” lawsuits to force the owners of more than 100 of these parcels to sell to him. His lawyer says it’s the easiest way to figure out who has title to these family lands so he can make them an offer. Hey, when I want to find out who someone is, I always sue ‘em.

    • Mark Zuckerberg sues hundreds of Hawaii families to force them to sell their land

      Mark Zuckerberg is reportedly suing Hawaiian families who have ancestral rights to land within his $100 million (£81.2 million) property in a bid to force them to sell their plots.

      The Facebook founder has launched the legal action in an attempt to make his 700-acre beachfront estate on the Island of Kuai more private.

      Under legislation dating back to 1850 known as the Kuleana Act, almost a dozen native families currently have the right to live on small sections of land within the billionaire’s property on the island, according to the Honolulu Star Advertiser.

    • Democrats Missed an Opportunity to Expose Steve Mnuchin as a Predator

      Treasury-secretary nominee Steven Mnuchin came to the Senate Finance Committee hearing room prepared to fight a war about foreclosures issued by OneWest Bank when he served as CEO. His only weapons were half-truths and outright lies. But you go to war with what you have.

      A funny thing happened on his way to the hearing room, however. Democrats got distracted by information uncovered by their staff that Mnuchin left off his financial disclosure, that he was director of investment funds incorporated in tax havens like the Cayman Islands and Anguilla. Mnuchin called it an oversight, and that the forms are hard work. To quote Cristina Clifford, a OneWest homeowner subject to wrongful foreclosure, “Paperwork can be hard. It’s really hard when someone like Steve Mnuchin is foreclosing on your home. OneWest repeatedly lost my paperwork, and they foreclosed on me anyway.”

      But instead of taking up this line of argument, Democratic committee members pummeled him over the tax haven, asking again and again about why he would have to incorporate the fund overseas and whether he personally benefited from tax evasion.

      Mnuchin’s answer on this was a little weak. He admitted that he didn’t have an office, employees, or customers in these tax havens, but he seemingly argued that he incorporated in the Caymans only to benefit other groups like nonprofits and pension funds, as if that makes it all better. But it got bogged down into an arcane discussion of hedge-fund rules and tax law, when there were literally thousands of human stories, of people who lost everything they had at the hands of Steve Mnuchin’s bank, waiting to be discussed. Too few Democrats took the opportunity. And this is a familiar pattern, because of the troubling failures of the Obama administration to deal with foreclosures. Yesterday’s unofficial forum with foreclosure victims was the first appearance of homeowners on the Hill in years.

    • Treasury Pick Steve Mnuchin Denies It, But Victims Describe His Bank as a Foreclosure Machine

      Treasury Secretary nominee Steve Mnuchin kicked off his confirmation hearing Thursday with a defiant opening statement, mostly defending his record as CEO of OneWest Bank. He cast himself as a tireless savior for homeowners after scooping up failed lender IndyMac. “It has been said that I ran a ‘foreclosure machine,’” he said. “I ran a loan modification machine.”

      But in stark contrast to his fuzzy statistics about attempted loan modifications, the victims of OneWest’s foreclosure practices have been real and ubiquitous.

      A TV advertising campaign that’s been running in Nevada, Arizona, and Iowa features Lisa Fraser, a widow who says OneWest “lied to us and took our home” of 25 years, right after her husband’s funeral.

    • Trump’s 10 Troubling Deals with Foreign Power-Players

      Incoming President Donald Trump’s business deals span the globe. Trump-branded skyscrapers, golf courses and hotels stretch from Dubai to Azerbaijan to the Philippines.

      Government ethics experts have strongly criticized Trump’s refusal to divest ownership of any of his businesses. But they point to his ongoing foreign deals with those connected to power as the most troubling.

      “These foreign deals are fertile ground for corruption,” Norman Eisen, the White House chief ethics lawyer under President Obama, told ProPublica. “When there’s a pre-existing relationship, there can be wink, wink, nod, nod, or even a private whisper that turns into a quid pro quo.”

      “He has to get rid of his foreign deals,” said Matthew T. Sanderson, an attorney at Caplin & Drysdale who has served as legal counsel on three Republican presidential campaigns.

    • Obama Leaves U.S.A $9,335,000,000,000 Deeper in Debt

      President Barack Obama will leave the federal government approximately $9,335,000,000,000 deeper in debt than it was when he took office eight years ago, according to data released today by the U.S. Treasury.

      The increased debt incurred under Obama equals approximately $75,129 for every person in the United States who had a full-time job in December.

      The $9,334,590,089,060.56 that the debt had increased under Obama as of the close of business on Wednesday is far more debt than was accumulated by any previous president. It equals nearly twice as much as the $4,889,100,310,609.44 in additional debt that piled up during the eight years George W. Bush served as president.

    • US Government To Start Working On NAFTA 2.0 Immediately; What Will It Do On Corporate Sovereignty?

      There’s plenty of sound logic to be found in this analysis. However, if we have learned anything over the last few months, it is that old-fashioned logic is relatively unimportant in the new political landscape. Since it looks like moves to renegotiate NAFTA are going to be made quickly, we should find out soon enough what the Trump administration’s new line on ISDS will be.

    • Chinese investors gobble up owner of PCWorld, Macworld etc

      Two Chinese investors are buying the owner of PCWorld magazine and the IDC market research outfit – International Data Group (IDG) – but IDC’s high-performance computing research businesses are not included in the sale.

      The two Chinese investors are China Oceanwide Holdings Group Co, Ltd and the confusingly named IDG Capital. They were apparently bidding separately several months ago, but joined forces under the encouragement of Goldman Sachs, IGC’s banker.

      They are paying a sum estimated between $500m and $1bn. The American Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) has cleared the sale, which should complete by April.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • For Donald Trump, faith has become the perfect alibi for greed

      You may have paused over it at the airport and wondered if it might be worth a guilty read on a long flight. After all, it has sold over 5m copies and spent 186 weeks in the New York Times bestseller list. Maybe you then thought better of it, suspecting there is something a little bit overly needy about people who go in for self-help books. Wise choice; it’s a terrible book. Nonetheless, if you want to understand the psychology of Donald Trump, it might be worth steeling yourself for an hour. For Normal Vincent Peale’s The Power of Positive Thinking was one of the formative influences on the young Trump. And Peale’s philosophy of positive thinking explains much about the internal workings of Trump’s maddening self-belief.

      Norman Vincent Peale was for over half a century the minister of Marble Collegiate church on New York’s Fifth Avenue, and he made it one of the most influential pulpits in the country, railing against communism and un-American activities. It was to there in the 1960s that Fred C Trump took his family, moving over from the First Presbyterian Church in Jamaica, Queens, where they lived, drawn by Peale’s theology of how to be winner. Donald Trump says he attended Marble church for decades and that he was much influenced by Peale’s sermons. Norman Peale married Donald to his first wife, Ivana, at Marble in 1977.

    • Michael Moore leads massive anti-Trump protest in NYC

      Documentary director Michael Moore held a massive protest Thursday night outside Trump’s New York City International Hotel featuring speeches from public figures including actors Robert De Niro and Mark Ruffalo.

      The protest started at 6 p.m. with De Niro poking fun at Trump by reading imagined tweets from the president-elect. It was followed by speeches from Moore, Alec Baldwin, New York Mayor Bill De Blasio, Ruffalo and the Rev. Al Sharpton, and others.

    • Trump team wanted tanks, missile launchers in parade: report

      Donald Trump’s inauguration team wanted to show off the U.S. military during inauguration weekend and even suggested including tanks and missile launchers in his inaugural parade, The Huffington Post reported Thursday.

      “They were legit thinking Red Square/North Korea-style parade,” an inauguration team source told The Huffington Post, referring to massive military parades in Moscow and Pyongyang that are often interpreted as displays of aggression.

      According to the report, the military shot down the request because of concerns about how it would look to have tanks and missile launchers in the parade, as well as the possible damage the tanks, which can weigh over 100,000 pounds, would do to the roads.

      “I could absolutely see structural support being a reason [not to use tanks],” a Department of Defense official told The Huffington Post. “D.C. is built on a swamp to begin with.”

    • The idea of girls growing up in a world where a leader can talk about groping women turns my stomach

      We do know, however, what a Trump Presidency will mean for the campaign to end violence against women and girls – and it’s not positive.

      The most powerful man in the world has repeatedly and deliberately demeaned women. “When you’re a star” he said, “they let you do it. You can do anything …Grab them by the p***y … You can do anything.” He has gloated about sexual assault and argued that objectifying 50 per cent of the human race is exactly what the other 50 per cent do privately. even if they pretend otherwise in public.

      Trump’s election campaign and professional track record are distinguished by sexism and misogyny. There is very little he could say or do now to reverse the damage he has already caused, the consequences of which resonate beyond the US and beyond women and girls.

    • NYT Ignored Reality at 2001 Bush Inauguration; Now Ignorance Is History

      The link in that passage goes back to the Times‘ 2001 coverage of the inauguration—coverage that was critiqued by FAIR at the time under the headline “Ignoring Reality at the Inauguration”…

    • Who’s Paying for Inauguration Parties? Companies and Lobbyists With a Lot at Stake

      Corporate interests that were largely reluctant to embrace Donald Trump during the presidential campaign last year are finally opening their checkbooks to underwrite the festivities sweeping Washington, D.C., to welcome his incoming administration.

      Firms with a great deal riding on the major policy agenda items of the next four years have lined up to sponsor the endless parade of hors d’oeuvres and open bars at parties across the city.

      Topping the list are firms with interests in pharmaceuticals, oil, and defense contracting — highly regulated industries that have much at stake with ongoing policy discussions over drug pricing, environmental regulations, and the defense sequester.

      Several events list ride-sharing companies Lyft or Uber as special transportation partners. Both firms face regulatory hurdles to accessing municipal markets and in terms of gaining approval for the next generation self-driving car technologies.

    • Major Fake News Operation Tracked Back to Republican Operative

      Cam Harris, a recent college graduate hoping to build a career as a political consultant, received an unwelcome email from a New York Times reporter this month. As the reporter, Scott Shane, recounted on the front page of Thursday’s Times, he had discovered that Harris was the publisher of a fake news site dedicated to smearing Hillary Clinton.

      So Harris did what came naturally. He started to spin. First, he admitted that he had written the hoax news articles casting Clinton as a criminal on his site, ChristianTimesNewspaper.com. Eight of his stories attracted enough attention on social networks to merit debunking by Snopes, the fact-checking site, and one of them, published a month before the election, attracted six million readers with the headline, “BREAKING: ‘Tens of thousands’ of fraudulent Clinton votes found in Ohio warehouse.”

      But when he was asked about his motives for posting elaborate disinformation about Clinton online over the course of 11 months, Harris was a little more economical with the truth. Even though he had attacked Clinton relentlessly on Twitter during the campaign, and voted for Donald Trump, Harris told The Times that his goals were purely financial. He had focused on potentially damaging fabrications about Clinton, he claimed, simply because those pieces generated more clicks and so more ad revenue than attacks on Trump.

    • Donald Trump has assembled the worst Cabinet in American history

      Any time a new administration comes into office, there will be some complaining about the new president’s cabinet picks. But we’re seeing something extraordinary happening now. Donald Trump’s cabinet brings with it a combination of ethical problems, inexperience, hostility to the missions of the departments its members are being called to lead, and plain old ignorance that is simply unprecedented.

      This is shaping up to be nothing less than the worst cabinet in American history.

    • Welcome to the Wipe House: President Trump shreds climate change, privacy, LGBT policies from WhiteHouse.gov

      With Donald Trump taking over the presidency Friday morning, a different type of transition has also taken place: a digital transition.

      A novel approach was taken with respect to the Twitter accounts of the president, vice-president and first lady: the accounts were both retained and cloned to new accounts – if you followed @POTUS, you will continue to do so but will also be added as a follower to @POTUS44 (Obama was the 44th president of the United States). The same goes with @VP and @FLOTUS.

    • A morning with ‘adorable deplorables’: why Trump supporters are optimistic

      On the bus, in the morning darkness, Steph and Brandi put on their makeup, using a phone as a mirror.

      Stephanie Friess and Brandi Tillman have been friends since high school, and now they were on their way from Wilmington, Delaware, to Washington to celebrate the man who had given them a brand new country.

      On election night, Steph stayed up past 3am to see Trump’s victory being announced. The next morning, remembering the night before while driving her car, the 24-year-old felt jubilant to be living in Trump’s America.

      The two women made matching Trump caps – blue and black – decorated with sequins and the slogan “Adorable Deplorable” in honor of the inauguration. Hillary Clinton had tried to attack Trump for lifting up the most “deplorable” among his followers: “the racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamaphobic – you name it”. Trump’s followers had proudly reclaimed the term, and now Brandi and Steph bedazzled it.

    • Bowe Bergdahl’s lawyers say new president’s criticism threatens fair trial

      Donald Trump’s scathing criticism of Army Sgt Bowe Bergdahl will prevent the soldier from getting a fair trial on charges he endangered comrades by walking off his post in Afghanistan, Bergdahl’s attorneys said on Friday.

      In a motion filed shortly after Trump was sworn in, defense lawyers asked a military judge to dismiss the charges against Bergdahl and argued the Republican violated his due process rights and military law against unlawful command influence.

      Trump’s negative comments about Bergdahl, including calling him a traitor, take on new importance now that he is commander-in-chief. Defense attorneys argue that potential military jurors may feel obligated to agree with their new leader. They prepared a video exhibit of Trump’s criticism.

    • Trump’s ‘cyber tsar’ Giuliani among creds leaked in mass hacks

      Passwords used by Donald Trump’s incoming cybersecurity advisor Rudy Giuliani and 13 other top staffers have been leaked in mass hacks, according to a Channel 4 investigation.

      Giuliani, incoming national security advisor Lt Gen Michael Flynn and various cabinet members of Trump’s administration had their details included in website mega breaches… like millions upon millions of others. This doesn’t mean that we (or they) have been hacked and there’s no indication that it’s their current credentials that have been compromised. They may have changed their passwords since, for instance, the LinkedIn breach.

      “The passwords of the appointees were hacked in mass breaches of websites like LinkedIn, MySpace, and others between 2012 and 2016,” as Channel 4 puts it.

      An appearance of someone’s records in Have I Been Pwned? should not imply that they have been hacked, contrary to Channel 4′s breathless headline.

    • Nigel Farage hired by Fox News as a political analyst

      Nigel Farage has been hired as a commentator for American TV network Fox News, the broadcaster has announced.

      The former UKIP leader will provide political analysis for the main channel, and the Fox Business Network’s daytime and primetime programmes.

    • At His Inauguration, Trump Signals No Break From His Politics of Fear and Loathing

      Today, as of noon, the president of the United States is a man who boasted of sexually assaulting women. The nation’s leader is a purveyor of fake news and conspiracy theories who led the racist birther campaign. The commander in chief in charge of the US nuclear arsenal is a fellow who was unfamiliar with the nuclear triad but who is obsessed with revenge. The head of the federal government is a businessman who vowed to “drain the swamp” but who has taken office loaded with troubling conflicts of interest and flouting multiple ethics norms. The defender of the Constitution is a record-setting prevaricator and fabulist who has repeatedly attacked journalists who challenge his false assertions. The guy who oversees national law enforcement is a dishonest developer who was sued for racially based housing discrimination and who lied about his mob ties. The person in charge of US national security is a foreign policy novice who has called for enhancing relations with a foreign power that covertly worked to subvert American democracy in order to benefit him and whose associates are under investigation by agencies he now oversees for possible contacts with that foreign power. The most powerful man in the world is a thin-skinned, arrogant, name-calling, bullying, narcissistic hotelier.

    • Donald Trump Really Believes All Those Things He Said During the Campaign

      There was no recognition, and probably beneath it no awareness, that America’s security and prosperity have rested all these years on the liberal international order, which our wiser leaders created in the wake of World War II and which Trump now deprecates.

      Quite apart from the ignorance of history and economics that leads him to say, and probably believe, that protectionism will make America stronger and richer, this speech is likely to set off a cascade of consequences around the world. (Give the new president this: He penned a truly historic inaugural address—just not in the way that word is usually meant.)

    • Trump’s Speech Gave Us America the Ugly. Don’t Let It Become Prophesy.
    • The Government Secrets Trump Is About to Discover
  • Censorship/Free Speech

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Brits don’t trust Donald Trump with the surveillance powers President Obama left him

      BRITS DON’T TRUST incoming US president Donald Trump to be able to resist using state surveillance powers, handily expanded by outoing President Obama, for personal gain.

      That’s according to a survey by Privacy International, which seems to suggest that Brits will be up all night with worry over what, exactly, Trump will do after he’s sworn in.

      According to the survey, four-fifths expect Trump to use his surveillance powers in some way for personal gain, while half claimed that they have “no trust” in Trump only using the US government’s surveillance and information-gathering powers for “legitimate purposes”.

    • Android apps, IMEIs and privacy

      There’s been a sudden wave of people concerned about the Meitu selfie app’s use of unique phone IDs. Here’s what we know: the app will transmit your phone’s IMEI (a unique per-phone identifier that can’t be altered under normal circumstances) to servers in China. It’s able to obtain this value because it asks for a permission called READ_PHONE_STATE, which (if granted) means that the app can obtain various bits of information about your phone including those unique IDs and whether you’re currently on a call.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • New Jersey court upholds firing of corrections officer who wore hijab to work

      Hijab, burqas and other religious symbols have been a controversial subject. Last year a Canadian Superior Court justice ruled that a decision to deny a woman’s case in court because she refused to remove her hijab went against [JURIST report] the fundamental principles of Canadian law. In 2013 a Quebec official proposed a bill [JURIST report] banning religious headwear for public workers. Belgium officially banned [JURIST report] burqas in July 2011. France’s ban on burqas took effect [JURIST report] in April 2011. Some commentators have suggested that the rationales behind the European burqa bans are weak [JURIST op-ed] and that the true purpose of the bills is societal discomfort.

    • Judge bluntly warns of contempt if he doesn’t get ‘torture report’

      A judge has bluntly rejected the Obama administration’s effort to avoid giving the court an unabridged copy of the Senate report on CIA war-on-terror interrogation tactics — a compendium better known as the “torture report.”

      In late December, U.S. District Court Judge Royce Lamberth granted a request from lawyers for Guantánamo prisoner and alleged Al Qaeda mastermind Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri to have the highly classified report preserved in court files.

      Earlier this month, the Justice Department asked Lamberth to reconsider, noting that President Barack Obama decided to make the report part of his presidential records and that a military judge ordered the Defense Department to preserve a copy of the review.

    • Turkish parliament approves more constitutional reform articles

      Turkey’s parliament approved the first seven articles in a second round of voting overnight on a constitutional bill that will extend President Tayyip Erdogan’s powers, keeping the reform on course for a spring referendum.

      The two largest opposition parties in parliament say the 18-article bill, which could enable Erdogan to rule until 2029, will fuel authoritarianism in the NATO member and European Union candidate country.

      The ruling AK Party, backed by the nationalist MHP, says it will bring the strong executive leadership needed to prevent a return to the fragile coalition governments of the past.

    • Graphic CCTV footage appears to shows blind and mentally ill man being shot dead by California police

      A video appearing to show police cornering a mentally ill and blind man before he was shot dead has been released by the victim’s family.

      The CCTV footage purportedly shows James Hall surrounded by heavily armed officers in a petrol station and then collapsing to the ground as he is gunned down.

      The clip was released after his family announced it was suing the police department in California for using “excessive force”.

      “James was not observed by family, friends, or those who knew him as having violent tendencies because of his mental illness,’ said attorney Ben Meiselas, of Geragos & Geragos in Los Angeles.

    • In parting letter, Obama asks Congress one last time to shutter Guantanamo

      On his last day in office, President Obama repeated an eight-year request to Congress: Close the military prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

      “There is simply no justification beyond politics for the Congress’ insistence on keeping the facility open,” Obama wrote in a letter to Speaker of the House Paul D. Ryan that was released by the White House on Thursday. “Members of Congress who obstruct efforts to close the facility, given the stakes involved for our security, have abdicated their responsibility to the American people.”

    • Why Chelsea Manning’s Release Will Make Us All Safer

      As one of his final acts, President Barack Obama responded to widespread public outcry and commuted the bulk of Chelsea Manning’s prison sentence. Instead of serving 35 years in a military prison, she will be released on May 17, after nearly seven years behind bars, including months in conditions that the United Nations considers to be torture.

      Pardons and commutations are often controversial. But on balance, this decision should be seen as major victory for free speech and human rights—a move that will make all of us safer, and strengthen our democracy.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • Netflix is so big that it doesn’t need net neutrality rules anymore

      Netflix has long been an outspoken supporter of net neutrality rules, but the streaming video provider says it is now so popular with consumers that it wouldn’t be harmed if the rules were repealed.

      The potential of reversing net neutrality rules increased the moment Donald Trump became president-elect, as Republicans in the Federal Communications Commission and Congress want to get rid of the rules. But in a letter to shareholders yesterday, Netflix reassured investors that this won’t affect the company’s financial performance or service quality.

      “Weakening of US net neutrality laws, should that occur, is unlikely to materially affect our domestic margins or service quality because we are now popular enough with consumers to keep our relationships with ISPs stable,” Netflix wrote.

      The FCC’s rules prohibit ISPs from blocking or throttling traffic or giving priority to Web services in exchange for payment. Because of the rules, small video providers that aren’t as popular as Netflix don’t have to worry about being blocked or throttled by ISPs or having to pay ISPs for faster access to customers. ISPs would prefer that customers subscribe to the ISPs’ own video services, and thus have incentive to shut out competitors who need access to their broadband networks.

    • Through Price Hikes And Annoyance, AT&T Still Waging War On Unlimited Data Users

      Back in 2011 AT&T and Verizon killed off their unlimited wireless data plans, instead replacing them with usage caps and steep (up to $15 per gigabyte) over fees. And while these companies grandfathered the existing unlimited data users at the time, they’ve spent the lion’s share of the last six years waging a not-so-subtle war on these users in an attempt to get them to switch to metered plans. This ranged from AT&T’s decision to block Facetime completely for users on unlimited plans, to covertly throttling these users only after a few gigabytes of usage, then lying about it. Repeatedly.

      Of course AT&T has also used vanilla rate hikes on these unlimited data plans to drive users to metered options.

    • Report: President Trump Picks Former Verizon Lawyer Ajit Pai To Head FCC

      As many expected, Donald Trump has chosen former Verizon lawyer and current FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai to head the FCC, according to a report by Politico. According to two anonymous insiders “familiar with the decision,” Pai, who met with Trump on Monday, should be formally announced as FCC boss in short order. Pai recently proclaimed that net neutrality’s “days are numbered” under Trump, while stating that the reformed FCC would be taking a “weed whacker” to “unnecessary regulations” like the FCC’s net neutrality rules and its new consumer broadband privacy protections.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Red Cross Claims Makers Of ‘Prison Architect’ Violated The Geneva Conventions By Using A Red Cross

      Let’s start this off by stipulating that the Red Cross is an organization well known for doing very real humanitarian work. While some have raised questions as to exactly how ethically it spends donor money, the organization is still on the front lines in helping those suffering from natural and man-made disasters. All that being said, the Red Cross has also shown itself to wander over the line of sense when it comes to both video games and policing some of its iconography. Recall that the Red Cross insisted, for instance, that games that allowed players to commit what would constitute war crimes also be required to include virtual punishments for those actions. On policing the use of its icons, the organization has suggested in the past that the use of its red cross symbol on theatre costumes constitutes a violation of The Geneva Conventions.

      These two realms in which the Red Cross likes to play crazy have now converged, with Mark Morris and Chris Delay, makers of the notorious video game Prison Architects, having received notice that the game’s inclusion of an ambulance emblazoned with a red cross constituted a violation of The Geneva Conventions.

    • Trademarks

      • Supreme Court Delves Into Question Of Whether Or Not You Can Trademark ‘Disparaging’ Terms

        A little over a year ago, we wrote about an appeals court ruling saying that the US Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) could not reject a trademark based on the fact that it was “disparaging” towards an individual or group. The case focused around whether or not a Portland band named “The Slants” could trademark its name. The band, which is fronted by an Asian American named Simon Tam, had its trademark rejected by the PTO on the claim that it was disparaging to Asians.

        As I noted at the time, I had struggled with my own opinion on this question as well — initially arguing that this shouldn’t be a First Amendment issue, because refusing to grant a trademark registration in no way interfered with anyone’s freedom of expression. Instead, it did the opposite, and made it clear that anyone could make use of the content without restriction or fear of infringing on someone’s registered mark (though, a common law trademark may still be an issue). Over time, and after lots of discussions with lots of people on all sides of this issue, I eventually came down on the other side. The key issue was not whether or not speech was blocked, but rather that there’s a law that determines something based on the content of speech, and it’s that point that makes it a First Amendment issue.

    • Copyrights

      • Struggling Canadian News Agencies Ask Government For A ‘Google Tax’

        It never fails (although the proposed solution often does): when faced with the struggles of operating news organizations in the internet era, far too many industry leaders suggest someone else should pay for their failing business models.

        The favorite target is Google. Google has somehow destroyed the profitability of news media companies by creating an incredibly successful search engine. Even though its search engine directs users to news agencies’ websites, there are those in the industry that believe incoming traffic isn’t enough to offset their perception that the search engine somehow piggybacks off their success, rather than the other way around.

        So-called “Google taxes” have been passed into law in countries around the world. In every case, they’ve been a disaster. In Spain, new agencies begged to have the law rolled back after losing traffic from Google searches. Having seen what didn’t work in Spain, Austrian lawmakers floated the same idea, proposing a tax on SINGLE WORDS in search results. The latest bad idea is an EU-wide “snippet tax,” because it worked so well in Spain, Spanish newspapers begged the EU to step in and block Google from killing its news article search results in Spain in response to the proposed tax.

      • Is A ‘Fattened’ Version Of A Famous Jorge Luis Borges Story Artistic Re-Creation, Or Copyright Infringement?

        As the Guardian reports, the legal action has been brought by the widow of Borges, María Kodama. Theoretically the case could lead to a six-year jail sentence for Katchadjian, although nobody seriously expects him to end up in prison if he loses. Kodama’s lawyer is unimpressed with the argument that “The Fattened Aleph” is just another of Katchadjian’s literary experiments. Previously, the author rewrote an epic 19th-century poem about gauchos called “Martín Fierro,” by placing the poem’s lines in alphabetical order. “Martín Fierro” is also the name of a 1920s Argentinian literary magazine that published work by Borges, amongst others.

      • What the Five Year Anniversary of the SOPA/PIPA Blackout Can Teach Congress About Tech

        Five years ago this week, Americans opened their internet browsers and saw darkness.

        Google, Wikipedia, Reddit, the Consumer Technology Association (CTA) and other major websites had banded together and gone dark to make a then-obscure piece of legislation infamous. Wikipedia shut down completely for 24 hours and a black band masked the Google logo.

        These internet giants and other online sites joined millions of Americans in protesting the 2012 Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and PROTECT IP Act (PIPA) legislation in a historic grassroots movement. More than four million people signed Google’s online petition linked to the blacked-out homepage. Eight million people looked up how to contact their representative when prompted to by Wikipedia. Tumblr alone produced 87,000 calls to representatives. The vast numbers led most congressional sponsors to rescind their support of the bill.

        SOPA and PIPA were well intended but ill-advised attempts on the part of Congress to protect the American copyright industry. But the legislation was so broad that it had the potential to harm or eradicate entire websites or online services, instead of specifically targeting individuals who uploaded illegal content.

        The New York Times called the SOPA/PIPA protests a “coming of age for the tech industry,” and at CTA, we were proud to help lead this vital growth. It was a bipartisan and cross industry effort: venture capitalists and law professors, computer scientists and human rights advocates, progressives and tea partiers teamed together to fight the bills. Still, the bills progressed through Congress and appeared to have the momentum necessary to become law.

01.19.17

Links 19/1/2017: PulseAudio 10.0, Linux 4.9 Longterm Kernel

Posted in News Roundup at 5:44 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

Free Software/Open Source

  • What is open source software?

    The term open source when connected to software may today seem like it’s been around forever, but you would be surprised how new of a concept it is.

    The transformational nature of the telecommunication industry’s march towards a software future should not be under estimated. What for most of its history has been an industry based on live, physical hardware is quickly turning into a future where hardware will still be there, but it will be the software inside that is truly running the game.

  • Get to know Tuleap for project management

    Tuleap is a unique open source project management tool with great momentum right now, ever month they have one major release. It’s also been listed it in both the Top 5 open source project management tools in 2015 and the Top 11 project management tools for 2016.

    “Tuleap is a complete GPLv2 platform to host software projects. It provides a central place where teams can find all the tools they need to track their software projects lifecycle successfully. They will find support for project management (scrum, kanban, waterfall, hybrid, etc.), source control (git and svn) and code review (pull requests and gerrit), continuous integration, issue tracking, wiki, and documentation,” said Manuel Vacelet, co-founder and CTO of Enalean, the company behind the Tuleap project.

  • ATTYS Open-Source Biosignal Acquisition Device Helps Developers Build Wearable Gadgets

    The software within the ATTYS is open source and the idea for the device came out of Dr. Bernd Porr who has devoted his efforts to education the public about applications and techniques for measuring various biosignals. In the process he decided to build a manufactured device that can help developers bypass the difficult step of building such component themselves.

  • Be a force for good in your community
  • Deepgram open sources Kur to make DIY deep learning less painful

    Deepgram, a YC backed startup using machine learning to analyze audio data for businesses, is open sourcing an internal deep learning tool called Kur. The release should further help those interested in the space get their ideas off the ground more easily. The startup is also including 10 hours of transcribed audio, spliced into 10 second increments, to expedite the training process.

    Similar to Keras, Kur further abstracts the process of building and training deep learning models. By making deep learning easier, Kur is also making image recognition and speech analysis more accessible.

  • Events

    • Linux is part of the IoT security problem, dev tells Linux conference

      The Mirai botnet? Just the “tip of the iceberg” is how security bods at this week’s linux.conf.au see the Internet of Things.

      Presenting to the Security and Privacy miniconf at linux.conf.au, embedded systems developer and consultant Christopher Biggs pointed out that Mirai’s focus on building a big DDoS cannon drew attention away from the other risks posed by insecure cameras and digital video recorders.

    • The Linux Foundation Brings 3 New Open Source Events to China

      LinuxCon, ContainerCon, and CloudOpen will be held in China this year for the first time, The Linux Foundation announced this week.

      After the success of other Linux Foundation events in the country, including MesosCon Asia and Cloud Foundry Summit Asia, The Linux Foundation decided to offer its flagship LinuxCon, ContainerCon and CloudOpen events in China as well, said Linux Foundation Executive Director Jim Zemlin.

      “Chinese developers and businesses have strongly embraced open source and are contributing significant amounts of code to a wide variety of projects,” Zemlin said. “We have heard the call to bring more open source events to China.”

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • How to get started contributing to Mozilla

        Open source participation offers a sea of benefits that can fine-tune and speed up your career in the tech, including but not limited to real-world technical experience and expanding your professional network. There are a lot of open source projects out there you can contribute to—of small, medium, and large size, as well as unknown and popular. In this article we’ll focus on how to contribute to one of the largest and most popular open source projects on the web: Mozilla.

      • Digital Citizens, Let’s Talk About Internet Health

        Today, Mozilla is launching the prototype version of the Internet Health Report. With this open-source research project, we want to start a conversation with you, citizens of the Internet, about what is healthy, unhealthy, and what lies ahead for the Internet.

        When I first fell in love with the Internet in the mid-1990s, it was very much a commons that belonged to everyone: a place where anyone online could publish or make anything. They could do so without asking permission from a publisher, a banker or a government. It was a revelation. And it made me — and countless millions of others — very happy.

        Since then, the Internet has only grown as a platform for our collective creativity, invention and self expression. There will be five billion of us on the Internet by 2020. And vast swaths of it will remain as open and decentralized as they were in the early days. At least, that’s my hope.

        Yet when Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg shows up on the cover of The Economist depicted as a Roman emperor, I wonder: is the Internet being divided up into a few great empires monopolizing everyday activities like search, talking to friends or shopping? Can it remain truly open and decentralized?

      • Mozilla ditches the dinosaur, unveils new branding only a nerd could love

        The old Netscape browser had a dinosaur named Mozilla as its mascot and codename. When the browser was open sourced in 1998, it used the dinosaur’s name and visage as its branding.

      • Mozilla releases The Internet Health Report, an open-source document with version 1.0 coming by year end
      • Mozilla Dinosaur Now Extinct as Curl-like Logo Debuts

        Mozilla officially debuted its new logo, after an intensive open process that helped to select the new brand. Surely the new logo is a step forward away from the archaic dinosaur, but it’s not entirely a unique type of brand-mark either.

  • SaaS/Back End

    • Brush Up on Your Big Data Skills, Including Free Training Options

      In the tech job market race these days, hardly any trend is drawing more attention than Big Data. And, when talking Big Data, the subject of Hadoop inevitably comes up, but Spark is becoming an increasingly popular topic. IBM and other companies have made huge commitments to Spark, and workers who have both Hadoop and Spark skills are much in demand.With all this in mind, several providers are offering free Hadoop and Spark training.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

  • Funding

    • Open source organizations can now apply for Google Summer of Code 2017

      Open source ideology is changing the world. What was once (wrongfully) viewed as something just for hobbyists, is now a billion dollar industry. In other words, closed source is not the only way to make profits. Open source code is found in many places, including mainstream consumer electronics — look no further than Android smartphones.

      Speaking of Android, its creator — Google — is a huge proponent of open source. In fact, every summer, the search giant holds its “Summer of Code” program. This initiative partners inspiring developers (in college, age 18+) with organizations as a way to further the open source movement. Today, Google announces that organizations can begin applying for the program.

  • Public Services/Government

    • Open-source voting is the answer to hacking concerns

      Will we ever have a voting system that is completely error-proof and impenetrable from malicious forces? Not likely. But the security breaches that are increasingly a part of daily life serve as a call to action.

      Every day brings a new report of hacking or suspicious activity, and increasingly with fingers pointing to international actors. Whether it is statewide voter registration databases (Illinois and Arizona; some say more); national party organizations (the Democratic National Committee); utilities (Vermont’s Burlington Electric); or Russia’s state-run television station (RT) suddenly interrupting C-SPAN last week — the incident is still under investigation and not confirmed as a hack — it is all very unsettling and leaves us feeling vulnerable.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

    • SugarPill, Substantial create open-source designs for civic action

      SugarPill owner Karyn Schwarz is used to customers coming in and asking for help with depression and anxiety. After Donald Trump won the presidency, she said she realized what she wanted to prescribe were ways to take effective action against intolerance and injustice.

  • Programming/Development

    • Java Performance Monitoring: 5 Open Source Tools You Should Know

      One of the most important things for any application is performance. We want to make sure the users are getting the best experience they can, and to know that our app is up and running. That’s why most of us use at least one monitoring tool.

      If you’re looking for something a little different in the performance monitoring market, one option you can choose is going for an open sourced tool. In the following post we’ve gathered some open source APM tools that are available today as an alternative to the paid tools, so you’ll be able to see if it’s the right choice for you.

Leftovers

  • Google & Facebook ad traffic is 90% useless.

    You Exec is a side-project that is very different from my 9-5 job, I use it as an excuse to try different services and do different consumer experiments. Recently, I have been using Fullstory to view how my visitors behave on my landing page – and boy does it make a huge difference when that visitor comes from Google or Facebook ads.

  • Fifa technical director Marco van Basten suggests scrapping offside as part of his radical plans for football

    Restricting players to 60 games a year. Replacing penalty shootouts with eight-second run-ups. Introducing orange cards and sending players to sinbins for 10 minutes.

    Former Milan and Netherlands forward Marco van Basten is using his role as technical director at Fifa to propose a series of changes to soccer to stir a debate.

    Rather than using his job to meddle, Van Basten highlights the need to preserve soccer as the world’s most popular sport.

  • Phone ban means pupils have to talk

    Gregg Davies, headmaster of Shiplake College, says students now talk to each other a lot more rather than spending their time on social media.

    He decided to restrict the use of mobiles at the 460-pupil independent school at the beginning of last term.

    Pupils caught using their phones between 8.15am and 5.45pm are given a detention. Staff can use their phones only in their offices.

    Mr Davies said: “While the accessibility of education and learning is heightened with the use of technology, increasingly I had noticed that our pupils were losing the key skill of social intercourse.

    “Connectivity was getting in the way of experiencing and communicating in real life and pupils were losing the ability to engage in social dialogue.

    “The subtle nuances of conversation are lost within electronic communication. It is simply not enough to read information, one has to see and hear intonation and gestures.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Nestlé Will Pay 13,500% More to Pump Ontario’s Water for Bottling

      Today, Nestlé pays just $3.71 per every million litres of water the company pumps out of the ground in Ontario, so that it can bottle it and then and sell it back to thirsty customers for profit. But that won’t last for much longer.

      The provincial government, which sets the price rates for water, is set to propose a sharp increase in the amount that companies like Nestlé pay, the Canadian Press reported on Wednesday. The proposed fee will be $503.71 per million litres of water, an increase of roughly 13,500 percent.

    • 3 Critical Questions Tom Price Didn’t Answer at the Health and Human Services Hearing

      Republican congressman and orthopedic surgeon Tom Price, President-elect Trump’s nominee for secretary of Health and Human Services, spent as much time this morning defending his character as he did defending his vision of healthcare for all Americans. Nothing he said precluded the Senate committee conducting his hearing from recommending that he get the job, although several key questions remain—and must be raised before the Senate confirms him.

      Democrats on the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions committee were particularly interested in Price’s desire to privatize Medicare and replace the Affordable Care Act with something less comprehensive, and they harshly criticized him for drafting legislation that favored companies he’d invested in.

    • Bernie Sanders Just Showed the Country How Wrong Tom Price Is for HHS

      It has been argued with some validity that budgets are moral documents, as the priorities they outline reveal the values of the political figures who draft, debate, and enact them. And if this is the case then, surely, presidential cabinets must be understood as moral constructs, as the men and women who are nominated reveal not just the personalities but the values that will guide the incoming administration.

      Yet debates about cabinet picks often fail to reflect on the moral values of the nominees and the agendas they advance. That’s unfortunate, because those who propose to guide a government should be forced to confront the morality—and the immorality—of their own choices.

      The process by which senators offer their advice and consent with regard to cabinet nominations should weigh those choices, and the policies that extend from them. But only a few legislators are genuinely willing to hold nominees to account on fundamental matters of right and wrong.

      That is why the questioning by Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders of President-elect Donald Trump’s nominee to serve as secretary of health and human services, Georgia Congressman Tom Price, was so vital.

      Price is an indefensible pick for an essential position. A longtime lackey of health-care industry profiteers, whose own investments are now the subject of scrutiny, the congressman has made it his mission to shred not just the Affordable Care Act but the whole of the safety net that provides what minimal protections are available to low-income Americans, working families, people with disabilities, and retirees. “If confirmed,” argue leaders of the National Nurses United health-care union, “it is clear that Rep. Price will pursue policies that substantially erode our nation’s health and security—eliminating health coverage, reducing access, shifting more costs to working people and their families, and throwing our most sick and vulnerable fellow Americans at the mercy of the health-care industry,”

    • Industry Initiative Against Non-Communicable Diseases Launched At WEF

      Nearly two dozen top biopharmaceutical companies have launched a global initiative intended to increase access to prevention and care of non-transmitted diseases in low and lower-middle income countries.

      At the World Economic Forum in Davos on 18 January, 22 companies launched a collaborative initiative called Access Accelerated in partnership with the World Bank Group and the Union for International Cancer Control.

    • Flint’s Water Crisis Still Isn’t Over. Here’s Where Things Stand a Year Later

      Residents still can’t drink the water

      A year ago, Flint, Mich., was engulfed in crisis. After officials belatedly acknowledged that the city’s water supply had been contaminated with lead and had poisoned local children, both Michigan and the federal government declared a state of emergency. Furious residents questioned what government officials knew about the dangers of the drinking water and why they didn’t act sooner.

  • Security

  • Defence/Aggression

    • Why Donald Trump’s Pro-Assad Stance Won’t End Syria’s Turmoil

      AFTER NEARLY SIX YEARS, the Syrian civil war is heading towards a possible conclusion. High-profile talks organized by the Russian government are set to commence later this month, seeking to bring a negotiated end to the brutal conflict. The U.S. has been encouraging these talks as a step towards a broader political settlement that will require American participation.

      While President-Elect Donald Trump and Bashar al-Assad, the Syrian leader, have both publicly flirted with the idea of partnering in the future, any normalization of U.S. relations with Syria should occur only if major reforms and a transition of power are carried out, according to many experts on the region. Any other outcome would not end the country’s instability, only postpone it.

      “The attitude of the United States towards the upcoming talks is very important,” says Gilbert Achcar, Professor of Development Studies and International Relations at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London. “Donald Trump has said he prefers Bashar al-Assad over any alternatives, but the reality is that any outcome that doesn’t result in guaranteed political transition and reform in Syria will not end the conflict there.”

    • Obama’s Bombing Legacy

      President Obama has joked he still doesn’t know why he won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2009, but his record of waging war was no joke to thousands at the receiving end of U.S. bombs…

    • SEAL Team 6 Responds to The Intercept’s Investigation of Its War Crimes

      The commander of SEAL Team 6 has circulated a memo, obtained by The Intercept, to members of the command in response to The Intercept’s two-year investigation into the unit’s war crimes and subsequent cover-ups. In the memo, the commander claimed the article was “full of grievous, accusatory claims” and allegations that had been “previously investigated and determined to be not substantiated.”

      “The article alleges involvement of ST-6 personnel in law of armed conflict violations, including accusations of cover up by senior officials,” the memo continued. “The 41-page online article goes into great detail on various operations naming specific people and operations dating back to 2002 up to 2011.”

      “While this article appears damning on many members of our team and most likely evokes strong emotions,” the commander wrote, “we must be mindful about what a journalist can do who latches on to unfounded claims and is willing to print based on limited evidence.”

      The commander’s letter does not dispute any facts or details in our January 10 report, which describes, in detail, accounts provided by former SEAL Team 6 leaders of what they believed were war crimes committed by members of the unit in Afghanistan and Iraq that were largely ignored or covered up by senior officers.

    • America’s Russian Problem

      Russian-American relations over the past several years have taken on some of the most familiar aspects of the Cold War. The conventional wisdom is extremely one-side, concluding that Russian President Vladimir Putin is entirely responsible for the setback as a result of his actions in Georgia, Crimea, Ukraine and Syria, and that the Russian leadership is not trustworthy on any diplomatic or political level. This is a simplistic view.

      Before there can be any progress in resolving the considerable differences between Moscow and Washington, it is paramount that the U.S. contribution to the imbroglio is recognized. Since the collapse of the Soviet Union twenty-five years ago, a brace of American presidents (Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama) have taken advantage of Russia’s considerable geopolitical weakness. Clinton was the first to do so with the expansion of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, which marked a betrayal of U.S. commitments not to do so.

    • The whole Pravda about Russian propaganda

      Russian engineers prepare to investigate whether the Americans really landed on the moon. Sergey Lavrov declares that US diplomats were frequently among the protesters on Moscow’s streets. These claims aren’t from the draft of a forgotten Tom Clancy novel – they’re the reality of today’s newsfeeds.

      Over the past few weeks, the Russian word kompromat [incriminating material] has entered the English language alongside babushka, vodka and sputnik. Alongside the scandal of “fake news”, European states are even more wary of Russian interference on their electoral processes. How should Europe respond? How should any state approach pro-Kremlin propaganda being broadcast to its citizens? And aren’t we exaggerating the force of the “Kremlin’s hidden hand”?

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • Stunning Admission from Obama on Wikileaks

      Most crucially of all Obama refers to “The DNC emails that were leaked”. Note “leaked” ad not “hacked”. I have been repeating that this was a leak, not a hack, until I am blue in the face. William Binney, former Technical Director of the NSA, has asserted that were it a hack the NSA would be able to give the precise details down to the second it occurred, and it is plain from the reports released they have no such information. Yet the media has persisted with this nonsense “Russian hacking” story.

      Obama’s reference to the “the DNC emails that were leaked” appears very natural, fluent and unforced. It is good to have the truth finally told.

    • WikiLeaks Founder’s Fate Uncertain Following Chelsea Manning Commutation

      President Barack Obama’s decision to commute the bulk of former U.S Army soldier Chelsea Manning’s 35-year sentence for leaking classified materials places WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange in the spotlight.

      Just five days prior, Assange offered to face criminal charges in the United States if Manning—who provided WikiLeaks with hundreds of thousands of documents exposing secrets about the Iraq War—went free.

      “If Obama grants Manning clemency Assange will agree to US extradition despite clear unconstitutionality of DoJ case,” the official Wikileaks account tweeted on January 12.

      Melinda Taylor, one of Assange’s attorneys, told the AP on Tuesday that he is “standing by” his promises. Assange confirmed through the official Wikileaks Twitter account he is “happy to come to the US provided all his rights are guaranteed,” on Wednesday.

      It’s unclear whether the U.S. Department of Justice has even charged Assange with a crime, let alone demanded Assange’s extradition. There is, however, an outstanding warrant for his arrest in Sweden, where he faces allegations of sexual assault.

      British police have vowed to arrest Assange if he steps foot outside the Ecuador’s embassy in London, where he fled over four years ago, and has remained ever since.

    • For first time, CIA publishes guidelines for handling Americans’ info

      Two days before Donald Trump takes office, the CIA on Wednesday published for the first time its guidelines for how it collects, stores, searches and shares information about Americans. New rules put limits on those who can search it and require they give a reason.

      While some of the policies haven’t been updated since 1982, others have been changed, reflecting radical developments in technology over the past three decades and the CIA’s effort to be more transparent and protect Americans’ privacy and civil liberties, the spy agency said. The changes will go into effect on March 18.

    • CIA documents expose internal agency feud over psychologists leading interrogation program

      Newly released CIA documents expose a bitter internal feud over the qualifications and ethics of two former military psychologists who pushed the agency to adopt interrogation methods widely condemned as torture.

      A series of internal emails reveal that the CIA’s own medical and psychological personnel expressed deep concern about an arrangement that put two outside contractors in charge of subjecting detainees to brutal measures including waterboarding, then also evaluating whether those methods were working or causing lasting harm.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • Videos of starving sun bears in a zoo begging for food spark outrage

      Gaunt sun bears in an Indonesia zoo, so hungry they’ve taken to begging visitors for food and eating their own faeces, have been captured on video by animal rights activists.

      Footage shot by the Scorpion Wildlife Trade Monitoring Group showed several emaciated bears at a zoo in the Indonesian city of Bandung.

      While bears in enclosures very rarely beg for food, you can see the bears rushing for pieces of fruit thrown in, and begging visitors for more.

    • Let’s make Donald Trump’s swearing-in a call to action for the environment

      Just five months after the devastating result of the European Union referendum, and the struggle against the forces of darkness seemed to have just become even harder. Donald Trump’s election left the many in the United States reeling. In particular his success has left women, people of colour and those with disabilities feeling more vulnerable than ever. The land of the free seems a lot less free than before.

      Americans aren’t the only ones who fear a Trump presidency. His win reinforced a right-wing populism that is resurgent across the western world, but also threatens to slow down the global movement against climate change. Not only does the president-elect not believe that climate change is man-made, but his cabinet level appointments show an utter disregard for our environment.

    • Indonesia: 18 hot spots detected in Sumatra

      Forest and land fires have begun to reappear in Sumatra, with 18 hot spots detected on Wednesday morning, the highest number in the wet season of early 2017.

      Pekanbaru Meteorology and Geophysics Agency (BMKG) head Sugarin said Terra and Aqua satellites detected hot spots in West Sumatra (1 spot), Riau (7), North Sumatra (1) provinces.

      In Riau, most of the hot spots were detected in Rokan Hulu (3 spots) followed by Pelalawan (2). The rest were detected in Bengkalis and Kuantan Singingi regencies.

    • HSBC financing tied to deforestation, rights violations for palm oil in Indonesia

      Loans and credit from the British bank HSBC have helped support the unsustainable clearing of forests for oil palm plantations in Indonesia, Greenpeace said in a report published Tuesday.

      The world’s sixth-largest bank has helped marshal $16.3 billion in financing for six companies since 2012 that have illegally cleared forests, planted oil palm on once-carbon-rich peatland, and failed to secure the support of local communities for their operations – all of which run counter to HSBC’s own environmental commitments, according to Greenpeace.

      “HSBC claims it’s a respectable bank with responsible policies on deforestation,” said Annisa Rahmawati, senior forest campaigner for Greenpeace Southeast Asia, in a statement. “But somehow these fine words get forgotten when it’s time to sign the contracts.”

    • Forest and land fires reappear in Riau

      Forest and land fires have begun to threaten Riau again with an increasing number of hot spots detected.

      Pekanbaru Meteorology Climatology and Geophysics Agency (BMKG) head, Mr Sugarin, said the hot spots were first detected by satellites on Sunday.

      “At that time, six hot spots were detected. The following day the number increased to seven, with hot spots in Siak, Pelalawan and Kuantan Singingi,” he told The Jakarta Post on Wednesday.

      He said more hot spots were detected in Rokan Hulu, Rokan Hilir and Siak, with another on Meranti Island.

      “Four of the hot spots were indicated as fire-linked hot spots with a reliability level of over 70 per cent,” Mr Sugarin said, adding that hot spots were also detected in other provinces in Sumatra.

      The reappearance of the hot spots, Mr Sugarin said, might be caused by high temperatures, which hit 34.5 deg C, and rampant slash-and-burn practices.

    • How local elites earn money from burning land in Indonesia

      According to the report, land cleared by fire carries a higher price tag than that cleared through cut-and-slash techniques, as it is ready for immediate planting, saving the buyer from any land preparation.

      The trade of burned land is known locally as terima abu, or receiving the ashes, which fertilize the soil.

      The trading value of such land is $856 per hectare, compared to $665 per hectare for cut-and-slashed land, the report notes. Land already burned and planted with oil palm is even more lucrative, with a reported value of $3,800 per hectare.

      “Buyers came from various levels: colleagues and family members, resident immigrants, company staff, village officials, business people and residents from nearby district towns,” the study says. “Networks also involved buyers from other islands, for example, medium-scale investors from Jakarta, Bogor or Surabaya.”

    • It’s Time to Stand Up for the Climate—and for Civilization

      During his campaign for president, Donald Trump promised to end action on climate change and kill the climate treaty adopted in 2015 in Paris. To truly understand why that’s such a big deal—perhaps the biggest deal ever—you need to think about a few things.

      Yes, you need to think about the oft-repeated but nonetheless true and alarming statistics: 2014 was the hottest year ever recorded till 2015 snatched the crown—till 2016 obliterated the record. Last summer featured some of the hottest days ever reliably recorded on this planet: 128 degrees Fahrenheit in cities like Basra, Iraq—right at the edge of human endurance. Global sea ice has been at a record low in recent months.

    • Scientology’s UK HQ angers residents by felling trees in conservation area

      The church of Scientology has angered neighbours at its UK headquarters by expanding its facilities without planning consent and felling trees in a designated area of outstanding natural beauty.

      Residents close to the sprawling HQ near East Grinstead in West Sussex have accused the church of “selfishly and arrogantly” carrying out “destructive development plans before authorisation” by building a coach and minibus park before securing planning permission.

      People in the hamlet of St Hill Green are objecting to noise and light pollution and what they say is the destruction of wildlife habitats, including the cutting down of 22 trees. A planning application has now been lodged for retrospective consent.

    • History of Earth’s surface temperature 1880-2016

      2016 is officially the new warmest year on record, edging out previous record holder 2015 by 0.07°F, according to NOAA. It is the third year in a row that global average surface temperature set a new record, and the fifth time the record has been broken since the start of the twenty-first century.

      This animation shows annual temperatures each year since 1880 compared to the twentieth-century average, ending with record-warm 2016. Because of global warming due to increasing greenhouse gases, the maps from the late 1800s and the early 1900s are dominated by shades of blue, indicating temperatures were up to 3°C (5.4°F) cooler than the twentieth-century average.

    • U.S. Marine Biodiversity Observing Network: Building Global Connections

      One of the best ways to understand how our ocean is changing is to closely monitor the health and diversity of marine life. Armed with this knowledge, researchers can better track the health of ocean ecosystems. This, in turn, helps us make better decisions to protect marine resources and support the people and businesses who depend upon the ocean for their lives and livelihood. But monitoring marine life is no easy task. Through the U.S. Integrated Ocean Observing System, NOAA is developing a U.S. Marine Biodiversity Network through three pilot programs around the nation to create a better long-term system to monitor changes in marine life.

      At the same time, U.S. MBON researchers are growing relationships with marine biodiversity networks around the world. Why? The ocean doesn’t recognize borders. While NOAA and partners are working to strengthen local and regional networks in the U.S., researchers are also looking past our nation’s borders to help ensure marine life data is shared around the globe.

    • EPA Nominee Pruitt’s Hearing Shows Him Poised to Be “Every Polluter’s Ally”

      Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt) and his Democratic colleagues on the Senate Environment and Public Works committee dug into Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) nominee Scott Pruitt on Wednesday, blasting his record of suing the very agency he’s been selected to lead, and putting his fossil fuel industry ties front and center.

      As Ben Jervey and Steve Horn reported for DeSmog Blog, the morning hearing unfolded in something of a pattern, with “Republican members complimenting the [Oklahoma] attorney general and lobbing him softball questions, and the Democrats grilling him on his stance on climate science, his ties to the fossil fuel industry, and his perspective on what role the EPA has in actually, well, protecting the environment.”

    • Interior Pick Ryan Zinke Vows to Review Obama’s Safeguards Against Fossil Fuel Extraction

      During his confirmation hearing Tuesday, Rep. Ryan Zinke, a Republican from Montana, promised not to hand over federal land to state control when he takes on the role of secretary of the interior.

      By standing firm against that one nightmare promise from the 2016 Republican platform, Zinke seems to have avoided the kind of fury Democrats have directed at President-elect Donald Trump’s Environmental Protection Agency pick Scott Pruitt and his Energy Department nominee Rick Perry.

      But although Zinke says he won’t hand federal land to states, he is likely to lease vast tracts to the oil, gas, and coal industries — and flip green the yellow light that Obama’s administration put on federal lands fossil fuel development.

      Although Zinke repeatedly invoked Teddy Roosevelt on Tuesday, and promised to strike a balance between conservation and energy development, he also indicated he would support efforts to review or overturn a list of Obama administration rules including the ban on drilling in parts of the Alaskan Arctic, the moratorium on coal extraction on public land, new stream protections, and rules preventing methane flaring during oil and gas extraction.

  • Finance

    • Hundreds of thousands of retired Britons in EU ‘may be forced to return’

      Hundreds of thousands of elderly Britons living in Europe may be forced to return to the UK unless the government guarantees that their healthcare will continue to be reimbursed by the NHS, campaigners for British people settled in Spain and France have warned.

      The House of Commons Brexit select committee was told on Wednesday that an unintended consequence of Brexit could be a surge in immigration of British migrants both working and retired.

      Groups campaigning for the rights of Britons settled in Europe told the committee that many pensioners in countries such as Spain and France would not be able to afford private health insurance if the current system was jettisoned post-Brexit.

    • Four hundred jobs to go in Clydesdale and Yorkshire bank branch closures

      The owner of Clydesdale and Yorkshire banks has announced it is shutting more than a third of its branches with the loss of 400 jobs.

      It came on a gloomy day for smaller lenders as Airdrie Savings Bank, the UK’s last remaining independent savings bank, said it was to close after 182 years – at the cost of 70 roles.

      Each bank partly blamed changes in the sector, including a shift to online banking and away from using branches for day-to-day transactions.

    • Senate’s Closer Look at Steven Mnuchin Reveals Much More

      At first blush, Mr. Mnuchin was a busy enough man, with his investment business and his Hollywood endeavors listed on a Dec. 19 questionnaire for the Senate Finance Committee that he swore was “true, accurate and complete.”

      But when pushed by committee aides, Mr. Mnuchin conceded there was more. In a revised questionnaire to the committee this month, he disclosed that he was also the director of Dune Capital International Ltd., an investment fund incorporated in the Cayman Islands, a tax haven. He also revealed his management posts in seven other investment funds, which he said he “inadvertently missed,” according to Finance Committee documents obtained by The New York Times.

    • Davos Elite Fret About Inequality Over Vintage Wine and Canapés

      You have perhaps noticed that in many countries, history-altering numbers of people have grown enraged at the economic elite and their tendency to hog the spoils of globalization. This wave of anger has delivered Donald J. Trump to the White House, sent Britain toward the exit of the European Union, and threatened the future of global trade.

      The people gathered here this week in the Swiss Alps for the annual World Economic Forum have noticed this, too. They are the elite — heads of state, billionaire hedge fund managers, technology executives.

      They are eager to talk about how to set things right, soothing the populist fury by making globalization a more lucrative proposition for the masses. Myriad panel discussions are focused on finding the best way to “reform capitalism,” make globalization work and revive the middle class.

      What is striking is what generally is not discussed: bolstering the power of workers to bargain for better wages and redistributing wealth from the top to the bottom.

    • 5 Things You Only Learn About America Foreclosing On Homes

      Hey, remember the giant economic crash of 2007? No? You drank that one away, along with your failed marriage, and the ending of Lost? We’ll help you out: It started with the collapse of the housing bubble. It turned out appraisers had been overvaluing houses for years, and banks had been giving people mortgages they couldn’t actually afford. Then all those mortgage holders started missing their payments, the cascade of defaults nearly killed several banks, and more than 7 million Americans had their homes foreclosed upon. While the bankers responsible for it all were out blowing their multi-million dollar bonuses on leather-wrapped Lamborghinis, people like our source for today’s article, Sarah, had to do all the actual legwork of ruining people’s lives. She told us…

    • Centrelink staff told not to fix mistakes in debt notices – whistleblower

      Centrelink’s compliance teams are being told not to correct errors with its flawed debt recovery program, allowing the “unjust system” to generate millions of dollars in bogus debts, a new whistleblower has alleged.

      The explosive claims are detailed in a lengthy letter anonymously sent by a Centrelink compliance officer to the progressive political group GetUp, which released it publicly alongside the Community and Public Sector Union on Thursday.

      The department of human services has dismissed the letter as inaccurate, and general manager Hank Jongen said it did not “accurately represent how the system works”.

    • Centrelink systematically ripping off clients: whistleblower

      Another whistleblower has come forward with an insider’s account of how the “debts” are being pursued, alleging that glaring errors are being deliberately ignored by Centrelink to allow it to extract money from its clients.

      Others are being told they must repay “fictitious payments”; money that they never even received, according to the allegations.

    • Trump Education Nominee Betsy DeVos Lied to the Senate

      There are many reasons Betsy DeVos’s nomination to serve as Donald Trump’s education secretary could be justifiably quashed by the U.S. Senate. Her long public record indicates she is a religious Christian zealot who does not believe in the actual separation of church and state, wants public monies funneled into religious schools, and has contributed through family foundations to bigoted groups with a militant anti-gay agenda. During her confirmation hearing she gave disturbing answers to questions about her views of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, standardized tests, and school vouchers. She also suggested guns have a place in American schools, though her claim that they were necessary to defend students from grizzly bear attacks was not very compelling.

      DeVos is married to Richard DeVos, the heir to the Amway Corporation fortune. She is also the sister of Blackwater founder Erik Prince, who is secretly advising the Trump team on intelligence matters, as The Intercept reported Tuesday. The Prince and DeVos families’ merger through marriage was reminiscent of the monarchies of old Europe, and since the 1980s they have funneled hundreds of millions of dollars into Republican campaign coffers and the war chests of far right religious organizations, at least one of which — the Family Research Council — has been designated an anti-LGBTQ hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

    • Six astonishing things Betsy DeVos said — and refused to say — at her confirmation hearing

      At her contentious confirmation hearing as Donald Trump’s nominee to be education secretary on Tuesday, Betsy DeVos was asked a question by Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) about an important education debate involving how student progress should be measured. The query essentially rendered her speechless as she appeared not to know how to answer. When Franken told her he was upset she didn’t understand it, she did not protest.

      That was just one of several moments during the hearing in which DeVos either displayed a lack of knowledge about education fundamentals or refused to answer questions that Democratic members of the Senate Education Committee believe are critical to her fitness for the job.

    • Betsy DeVos: Unprepared, and undeterred to serve as education secretary

      Even a truncated confirmation hearing designed to limit the nominee’s exposure couldn’t conceal the myriad ways in which Republican mega-donor Betsy DeVos is unprepared for the responsibility she is about to assume as President-elect Donald Trump’s choice to head the U.S. Department of Education.

      Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tennessee, who chairs the committee responsible for vetting the nomination, allotted Democratic committee members just 5 minutes each to grill DeVos. But even that abbreviated scrutiny revealed some disturbing deficits in her basic knowledge of the department’s responsibilities and authority:

      She said it should be “up to the states” to make sure public schools meet the needs of disabled students, and appeared to be unaware of the federal law that establishes both requirements and penalties for schools that fail to meet them.

    • Four Takeaways from Trump’s Latest Tweet Tantrum

      1. As usual, Trump has his facts wrong. Analysts say Ford’s decision to expand in Michigan rather than in Mexico had mostly to do with the company’s long-term plans to invest in electric vehicles. It’s easier for companies to find highly skilled workers to build new products, such as electric cars, in the United States than in Mexico.

      GM said its plan was approved before the election, but it was “accelerated” under pressure from Trump. Relatedly, Sergio Marchionne, CEO of Fiat Chrysler chief executive, said Chrysler’s plan to build some cars in the U.S. had been in the works for more than a year and had nothing to do with Trump. Marchionne credited the decision to talks with the United Auto Workers.

      2. Once again, the tweet reveals Trump’s pathological narcissism. All Trump can think of about is “TRUMP,” which he capitalizes, then insists that the jobs “Came back because of me!” This is the rant of a child wanting attention and praise, not someone who will shortly be President of the United States.

      3. It’s also dangerous. Although Trump’s outrage at NBC – like his condemnation of other specific media outlets that don’t report what he wants – is harmless now, it could threaten press freedom when Trump has power over regulators at the FCC and antitrust division who could make life difficult for targeted media outlets.

      4. It’s intended to divert attention from the big stuff. Trump’s specific deals with particular companies diverts attention from his larger initiatives that will hurt working Americans.

    • UK post-Brexit trade deal with India threatened by Theresa May’s visa crackdown

      One of Britain’s most important post-Brexit trade partnerships could be at risk due to Theresa May’s refusal to reform visa restrictions for Indian citizens.

      The Prime Minister has insisted leaving the EU would allow Britain to find other partners abroad and India, the world’s fastest growing major economy, was the first country she visited, accompanied by a large business delegation, outside Europe after the referendum.

      But as the offensive to secure a trade deal continued on Wednesday, senior diplomats and Indian government officials warned Ms May’s refusal to reform visa restrictions could scupper her hopes.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • The first-ever close analysis of leaked astroturf comments from China’s “50c party” reveal Beijing’s cybercontrol strategy

      The Harvard Institute for Quantitative Science team that published 2016′s analysis of the Chinese government’s ’50c Party’, who flood social media with government-approved comments has published a new paper, How the Chinese Government Fabricates Social Media Posts for Strategic Distraction, not Engaged Argument, in which they reveal their painstaking analysis of a huge trove of leaked emails between 50c Party members and their government handlers.

      The research refutes the widely held view that the 50c Party is a group of paid piece-workers who pile on to people who post negative comments about the government; rather, the 50c Party is a closely coordinated group of government workers whose messages are part of their normal, salaried duties, and consist largely of upbeat talk about upcoming government initiatives — or issues that distract from scandals.

    • How the Chinese Government Fabricates Social Media Posts for Strategic Distraction, not Engaged Argument

      The Chinese government has long been suspected of hiring as many as 2,000,000 people to surreptitiously insert huge numbers of pseudonymous and other deceptive writings into the stream of real social media posts, as if they were the genuine opinions of ordinary people. Many academics, and most journalists and activists, claim that these so-called “50c party” posts vociferously argue for the government’s side in political and policy debates. As we show, this is also true of the vast majority of posts openly accused on social media of being 50c. Yet, almost no systematic empirical evidence exists for this claim, or, more importantly, for the Chinese regime’s strategic objective in pursuing this activity. In the first large scale empirical analysis of this operation, we show how to identify the secretive authors of these posts, the posts written by them, and their content. We estimate that the government fabricates and posts about 448 million social media comments a year. In contrast to prior claims, we show that the Chinese regime’s strategy is to avoid arguing with skeptics of the party and the government, and to not even discuss controversial issues. We infer that the goal of this massive secretive operation is instead to regularly distract the public and change the subject, as most of the these posts involve cheerleading for China, the revolutionary history of the Communist Party, or other symbols of the regime. We discuss how these results fit with what is known about the Chinese censorship program, and suggest how they may change our broader theoretical understanding of “common knowledge” and information control in authoritarian regimes.

    • The Creepy Religion That Explains All Of Trump’s Actions

      America may not have an official religion, but you’d have to be crazy to think that politicians aren’t expected to fit in a certain spiritual mold. While there might be a few exceptions, like JFK’s Catholicism, Mitt Romney’s Mormonism, and Barack Obama’s dastardly secret Muslim agenda, if you want to run for president in this country, you usually need to belong to a mainstream branch of Protestantism. And a study by Pew Research Center found that two-thirds of Americans think it is important for the president to have “strong religious beliefs.” That’s why when Donald Trump entered the political arena, people suddenly started asking for proof that he gave a shit about God.

    • ‘The Running Man’ Is the Perfect Dystopian Movie For Trump’s Inauguration

      The Running Man, a 1987 sci-fi action film starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, is having a brief resurgence of relevance this year—though not in the way its stars and writers ever really envisioned.

      The film is replete with all the cheesy 80s music and smug, action-hero one liners that one might expect from a Schwarzenegger flick (yes, he even drops an “I’ll be back”). But the movie about a dystopian America pacified by a deadly reality show in the then-futuristic year of 2017 is still incredibly unsettling to watch on the eve of President Donald Trump’s inauguration on January 20, 2017.

    • This ‘paid protestor’ service is likely fake, but the online conspiracy machine doesn’t care

      “Demand Protest is the largest private grassroots support organization in the United States,” the ads read. “We pay people already politically motivated to fight for the things they believe. You were going to take action anyways, why not do so with us!” The post claims to offer $2,500 per month “retainers” plus $50 hourly payments to protestors aligned with the organization. The logo for demandprotest.com is a raised black first, and the site includes photos of young, chanting protestors, some wearing Anonymous masks.

      If there’s any doubt about the target of protests, the ad is titled, “Get paid fighting against Trump!” For those enticed by the ads, an anonymous “recruitment” form on demandprotest.com asks potential protestors for personal information, covering areas including, “Do you have any family in government?” and “Would you say that your relationships are simple or complicated?”

    • The Unbelievable Baby-Man!
    • Trump’s pick for Commerce secretary assures lawmakers he is not anti-trade

      Wilbur Ross, the billionaire financier selected to be the new Commerce secretary, made clear Wednesday that Donald Trump’s campaign promise to reopen the North American Free Trade Agreement was not just an empty threat.

      At his confirmation hearing, the 79-year-old Ross, who like his future boss has long expressed concerns about NAFTA, said that renegotiating the 23-year-old pact with Mexico and Canada would be “very, very early” as a matter of priority for him and the Trump administration.

      Ross also signaled that his agency was likely to take steps to impose duties on Chinese steel and possibly other goods that have been dumped at unfairly low prices or subsidized by the state.

      At the same time, he struck a more measured tone overall than Trump, whose populist attacks on trade throughout the campaign had raised worries among businesses and leaders in the Republican Party who favor free trade.

    • FBI, CIA, NSA and others have been probing alleged Russian money aiding Trump for months

      Law enforcement and intelligence services in the US have been collaborating to investigate possible Russian money covertly be used to aide the Trump campaign for months, McClatchy reported.

      Two sources told McClatchy that the FBI, CIA, NSA, Justice Department and the Treasury Department’s Financial Crime Enforcement Network have been involved in an inquiry that started in spring 2016, long before allegations of Russian links to Trump were gathered by a former MI6 agent and released in an unverified document by Buzzfeed.

    • Ex-CIA chief rejects report Israel was warned of sharing intel with Trump

      Former CIA and NSA director Gen. (ret.) Michael Hayden rejected a recent report that Obama administration intelligence officials told Israeli officials to be wary of sharing intelligence with the incoming Trump administration.

    • How RT became the star of CIA, FBI & NSA’s anticlimactic ‘big reveal’

      The eagerly awaited Director Of National Intelligence’s (DNI) report “Assessing Russian Activities and Intentions in Recent US Elections” didn’t need such a long winded title. They could have just called it: “We Really Don’t Like RT.”

      Almost every major western news outlet splashed this story. But it was probably the New York Times’ report which was the most amusing. America’s “paper of record” hailed the DNI’s homework as “damning and surprisingly detailed.” Then a few paragraphs later admitted the analysis contained no actual evidence.

      Thus, in a few column inches, the Gray Lady went from describing the DNI’s release as something conclusive to conceding how it was all conjecture. “The declassified report contained no information about how the agencies had collected their data or had come to their conclusions,” the reporter, one David E. Sanger, told us. He then reached further into his bag of tricks to warn how it is “bound to be attacked by skeptics.”

    • The DNC Contenders Are Not Interested In Your Populist Moment
    • DNC Chair Candidate Tom Perez Refuses to Support Ban on Corporate Money and Lobbyists

      Labor Secretary Tom Perez, one of the leading candidates for chair of the Democratic National Committee, has stumbled in recent days when asked about his position on money in politics.

      Asked at a DNC forum in Phoenix last Saturday whether he will “revive President Obama’s ban on corporate donations to the DNC” and a ban on appointing lobbyists as party leaders, Perez demurred.

      “It’s actually not that simple a question,” Perez responded, adding that such a move might have “unintended consequences.” Perez argued that such a ban might impact “union members who are lobbyists,” though the question explicitly only addressed corporate lobbyists.

      Speaking to the Huffington Post, Perez has refused to clarify his position on resurrecting President Obama’s ban on lobbyist donations to the DNC, which was overturned by former DNC Chair Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., during Hillary Clinton’s bid for the presidency.

    • Trumpology With a Twist

      The fervent thousands who streamed in Mobile’s football stadium for a campaign appearance by quirky celebrity candidate Donald Trump in August 2015 surprised even his vain self. That was his first mega rally, and it showed he might actually be running for president rather than staging a self-promotional tour. As thanks for that he made a return to Mobile the final stop on his victory lap around the country last month.

      Some adult fans treated his approach shortly before Christmas like kids following the route of Santa’s sleigh from the North Pole: Yesterday he was in Pennsylvania, today Florida, tomorrow Mobile!

      A co-worker from a job years ago was following events closely on local news. Soon after Trump One touched down in the city, he reported on Facebook: Our next President in his motorcade to his rally right now.

      I replied that you can believe he’s your president if you like, but he and the fellow billionaires he’s packing into the cabinet are going to treat you as a subject.

    • Throw Sand in the Gears of Everything

      As many are saying, we woke from a nightmare to find it was our new reality. A gaggle of inflated far-right self-promoters and operatives, big businessmen and their toadies, and homegrown fascists will control the presidency and determine the Supreme Court majority, maybe for a generation or more. The Congress is firmly in Republican hands, save for the uncertain possibility that Senate Democrats will muster the gumption to filibuster. And that possibility could also evaporate with the 2018 midterm elections, when as many as 20 or more Democrats will have to defend their seats. No wonder that everyone I speak with searches for someone to blame—Clinton or Comey or white women or the white working class or the Bernie troops—and then asks plaintively: What do we do now?

      [...]

      Chanting crowds are the familiar insignia of movements. And I think movement politics may even make resistance to a Trump regime possible. But while the great movements of American history were the crucial determinant of our most important democratic reforms—from the basic electoral elements of representative democracy, to Emancipation, to labor rights, to women’s and LGBTQ rights—none of these movements achieved their successes simply through the gathering of people to show their commitment. People gathered, of course, but what makes movements a force—when they are a force—is the deployment of a distinctive power that arises from the ability of angry and indignant people to at times defy the rules that usually ensure their cooperation and quiescence. Movements can mobilize people to refuse, to disobey, in effect to strike. In other words, people in motion, in movements, can throw sand in the gears of the institutions that depend on their cooperation. It therefore follows that movements need numbers, but they also need a strategy that maps the impact of their defiance and the ensuing disruptions on the authority of decision-makers.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Facebook to build new data centre in Denmark

      Social media behemoth Facebook announced on Thursday that it will establish a new data centre in Odense, Denmark’s third largest city.
      The data centre will result in at least 150 permanent jobs and as many as “a couple thousand” jobs in the construction stage, Facebook’s director of data, Niall McEntegart, said at a joint press conference with Odense Mayor Peter Rahbæk Juel.

      “Odense is not just a great site for a data centre. It’s also a great city that we look forward to living in,” he said.

    • Facebook, Google Refuse to Help Bundestag Inquiry Into NSA Activity in Germany

      US IT giants Facebook, Microsoft, Google and Apple refused to attend the hearing organized by the German Parliamentary Committee investigating the US National Security Agency (NSA) spying scandal, the committee’s working group spokesman said Thursday.

    • Verizon Claims Its Millennial Ad Pivot Has Been Slowed By Its Breathless Dedication To Consumer Privacy

      So we’ve noted repeatedly how Verizon really wants to pivot from stodgy, old protectionist telco to Millennial-focused media and advertising juggernaut. The company desperately wants in on Facebook and Google advertising cash, and apparently believes this is possible by ceasing network fiber upgrades and gobbling up failed 90s internet brands like Yahoo and AOL.

      Except Verizon’s brand revolution so far hasn’t been much to write home about.

      Verizon began its pivot with a short-lived website that imploded after writers revealed they couldn’t talk about net neutrality or mass surveillance. The company’s acquisition of Yahoo has also been plagued with issues, from Yahoo’s mammoth, undisclosed hacking scandal to revelations of the company’s wholesale spying on user e-mail accounts for the government (not that this latter issue bothered Verizon much). And Verizon’s Go90 streaming video service, the cornerstone of Verizon’s effort, has been derided as “a dud” by Verizon’s own media partners.

    • Why Finding The Best VPN For Your Needs Matters

      Finding the right VPN service provider for one’s needs can prove to be quite the challenge. Most people are well aware of the benefits brought to the table by using a VPN, including bypassing geo restrictions and circumventing censorship. These powerful and essential tools can be used for all types of online activity, ranging from online gaming to accessing websites otherwise blocked from being accessed.

    • A look at the proposal for the ePrivacy Regulation

      As a result, on January 10, 2017, the European Commission published a proposal for a Regulation (ePrivacy Regulation), in view of the economic and social importance of digital services, the development of Internet of Things (i.e. connected devices and machines communicating through electronic communications networks, also known in literature as “Enchanted Objects”) and the rise of the so-called Over-the-Top communications services (i.e. services provided in the form of applications running over an internet access service, such as Skype, WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, Imessage, and Telegram; Gmail, Facetime and Viber), all of which currently fall outside of Directive 2002/58/EC [for more details on OTT services and the scope of protection of the ePrivacy Regulation, see WP240, Article 29 Data Protection Working Party's opinion 3/2016 on the evaluation and review of the ePrivacy Directive (2002/58/EC)].

    • Encrypted email service ProtonMail now supports Tor to thwart meddling governments
    • Encrypted email service ProtonMail opens door for Tor users
    • To combat online censorship, encrypted email provider ProtonMail launches Tor hidden service
    • ProtonMail Launches Tor Onion Site to Evade State Censorship
    • ProtonMail adds Tor onion site to fight risk of state censorship
    • ProtonMail launches Tor hidden service to dodge totalitarian censorship
    • ProtonMail Is Now Available via a Tor Address to Avoid Global Censorship
    • ProtonMail Over Tor Can Now Increase Privacy, Security, And Censorship Resilience
    • Trump’s Homeland Security Team Likely to Emphasize Facial Recognition and Biometric Surveillance

      The backgrounds of the members of the team that President-elect Donald Trump is picking to shape the Department of Homeland Security suggests he will aggressively pursue surveillance using the latest technological advancements.

      Trump, on the campaign trail, suggested that his law-and-order agenda would include mass surveillance of certain targets. “I want surveillance of certain mosques,” Trump declared at a rally in Birmingham, Alabama. “I want surveillance,” he added, “I will absolutely take [sic] database on the people coming in from Syria.”

    • DMARC Secured Your Email Identity, But See How it Ruined Mailing Lists

      Email was originally designed for messages to be stores and forwarded multiple times before they got the their destination. Servers would just have to trust that the From header was correct. For many years, there was no real way to verify that you really got the email the person that the From header states.

    • Chicago Lawyer Sues City, Police Department Over Stingray Cellphone Surveillance

      What’s undisputed is that the Chicago PD is in possession of regular IMSI catchers, as well as souped-up versions known as DRTboxes. Thanks to crowd-sourced FOIA activity, it’s also known this equipment has been purchased with asset forfeiture funds in an effort to keep the PD’s surveillance purchases from leaving as wide of a paper trail.

      What can also be inferred from the allegations is that the Chicago PD deployed its surveillance equipment on participants in First Amendment-protected activity, which may only add to the Constitutional fallout of this lawsuit. This surveillance also occurred more than a year before state legislation was passed requiring court orders for Stingray deployments.

    • Why I Am Switching To Private Messaging — And You Should Too

      Starting January 20, I will be turning off Facebook Messenger, Skype, WhatsApp and every other chat app I have been using in the past decade. I will switch to Signal for private messaging and to ProtonMail for my private emails.

    • The Post-Snowden Cyber Arms Hustle

      Just after lunchtime one day in February 2015, Manish Kumar entered the presidential palace in the Mauritanian capital of Nouakchott via the side gate—the one reserved for private business. His government SUV was driven by a gregarious man in a loose-fitting white robe, who navigated the vehicle toward the back of the compound, away from the main palace building’s soaring glass atrium and modern-looking turrets, which give it a Martha Stewart-meets-Gunga Din look. The driver pulled up to a smaller structure with a massive satellite dish on top, where Kumar was to meet Ahmed Bah dit Hmeida, an official with the innocuous-sounding title of counsellor to the president.

      A month earlier, Bah, whose responsibilities include overseeing an electronic spying apparatus aimed at his boss’s enemies, had transferred half a million dollars to an account in the British Virgin Islands, as a down payment for a sophisticated technology suite offered by Kumar’s company, Wolf Intelligence. The full contract was worth $2.5 million, plus an annual service agreement. It was the biggest score of Kumar’s blossoming career as a globe-trotting cyberweapons dealer.

      A native of India, Kumar was no more than a competent coder, who mostly hired out bug-hunting and other demanding tasks essential to the success of a digital spy contractor. And Wolf Intelligence was still an upstart with little reputation to speak of. But Kumar was ambitious, and his timing was good. Two years after Edward Snowden had revealed the extent of National Security Agency espionage around the globe, most every country on earth wanted to develop its own mini-NSA.

    • All metadata is not personal, Federal Court rules

      The Australian Federal Court has effectively ruled that all an individual’s metadata stored by telecommunications companies does not constitute personal data and therefore need not be handed over to said individual.

      Today’s verdict, delivered by a full bench of the court, was the latest step in a long-running saga for former Fairfax Media technology journalist Ben Grubb.

      Back in 2013, he had asked Telstra for access to the metadata that the telco was retaining about him, and that it would hand over to government agencies. His request was knocked back by Telstra’s privacy department.

    • Europe: Dangerously disproportionate: The ever-expanding national security state in Europe

      Hundreds of people were killed and wounded in violent attacks in the European Union in 2015 and 2016. The need to protect people from such wanton violence is obvious and urgent. This report gives a bird’s eye view of the national security landscape and shows just how widespread and deep the “securitization” of Europe has become. It focuses on eight themes: states of emergency, principle of legality, right to privacy, freedom of expression, right to liberty, freedom of movement, stripping of nationality, and the prohibition on sending people to places where they risk torture.

    • Dangerously disproportionate

      Amnesty International’s research richly documents the disturbing “Orwellian” trend sweeping across Europe, where states’ growing unchecked powers to tackle terrorism are trampling freedoms.

      The boundaries between the powers of the state and the rights of individuals are being redrawn and Europe’s human rights framework, which was so carefully constructed after the Second World War, is being rapidly dismantled.

    • Leaked transport plan would replace new car tax with road usage fee

      Yle has obtained an advance copy of a government white paper calling for a sweeping overhaul of the nation’s road traffic system. Transport Minister Anne Berner is to present the report on Thursday morning. If the plan goes through, it would bring significant changes for motorists. The current tax on new cars would be replaced by an annual customer fee, averaging 500-600 euros a year. Drivers could pay for road use by the week, month or year.

    • Russia Allows Edward Snowden to Remain Through 2020
    • Will Edward Snowden stay in Russia? Officials confirm asylum extended until 2020

      Snowden will be allowed to apply for Russian citizenship, his legal team confirmed.

    • Snowden’s stay in Russia has been extended by the Russian government

      U.S. National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden will be allowed to stay in Russia for “another couple of years,” according to a spokeswoman for the government there.

      The Russian government has extended the residence permit for Snowden, the former NSA contractor charged with espionage for leaking details of U.S. surveillance operations, said Maria Zakharova, a spokeswoman for Russia’s Foreign Ministry. Zakharova announced the extension on her Facebook page late Tuesday.

      Zakharova’s post came in response to a column by Michael Morell, the former deputy director of the U.S. CIA, who said Russia can return Snowden to the U.S. as a “perfect inauguration gift” to President-elect Donald Trump.

    • Whi