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Links 8/1/2016: Polaroid, Freetel Android Devices, More From CES

Posted in News Roundup at 4:27 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish



  • Thinking Outside The (Linux) Box

    So, what does this have to do with Linux or computers in general? It illustrates an important truth about technology and that is that it is not and never will be perfect. Anyone who wants to use any technology to make life easier or to accomplish a task must be prepared to live with imperfection and learn how to work around it. If you can’t handle that concept then you will find yourself very frustrated. Sometimes a little analytical thinking and judicious application of pragmatic logic are necessary to get the most from a complex system. Anyone not prepared to roll with the changes is doomed to failure. The Linux ecosystem is vast and developers are constantly working to find new ways to get things done, deprecating the old and embracing the new. It will never be perfect, it will never be one-size-fits-all. The number of choices are dizzying and that is a good thing because it gives you options to deal with these little imperfections and stumbling blocks as the present themselves.

  • Server

    • Behind the scenes: How the FCC migrated to the cloud

      “We literally retired two Sun E25Ks, which as background, these systems each weigh one ton. We clearly did not want to load those into the trucks, and they were 11 years old. Those were moved to newer server blades that were lighter, more modular, etc., so that they could be more easily transported to the commercial data facility. Those one-ton systems could now be gracefully retired and disposed of as appropriate,” Bray said.

    • Introducing dumb-init, an init system for Docker containers

      At Yelp we use Docker containers everywhere: we run tests in them, build tools around them, and even deploy them into production. In this post we introduce dumb-init, a simple init system written in C which we use inside our containers.

      Lightweight containers have made running a single process without normal init systems like systemd or sysvinit practical. However, omitting an init system often leads to incorrect handling of processes and signals, and can result in problems such as containers which can’t be gracefully stopped, or leaking containers which should have been destroyed.

  • Audiocasts/Shows

    • Podcast Season 4 Episode 01

      In this episode: Ian Murdoch, creator of Debian, has died. AMD is overhauling its open source driver approach. Linux has been made to run on a PS4. IPv6 is now at 10% adoption, after only 20 years. And there’s an outbreak of common sense at the Dutch Government. All this plus our regular Finds, Brains and Voices sections. Plus, One. More. Thing.

  • Kernel Space

    • diff -u: What’s New in Kernel Development

      There’s an ongoing impulse among a diversity of developers to be able to compile some or all of the Linux kernel as a library, so that a piece of software could use kernel services and APIs while running under a different kernel entirely, or a different operating system.

    • FIXME and TODO comments in the Linux kernel source

      While looking at some code in the Linux Kernel this morning I spotted a few FIXME comments and that got me wondering just how many there are in the source code. After a quick grep I found nearly 4200 in v4.4.0-rc8 and that got me thinking about other similar comment tags such as TODO that are in the source and how this has been changing over time.

    • The Thousands Of FIXMEs & TODOs In The Linux Kernel

      Canonical’s Colin King has looked at the number of FIXME and TODO comments within the Linux kernel tree.

      King found that currently there are more than four thousand “FIXME” comments within the Linux 4.4 kernel source code. After becoming curious, he found almost 4,500 “TODO” comments in the kernel source code as well.

    • Automotive Grade Linux makes the grade with AGL UCB for Ford, Subaru, Mazda & Mistubishi

      Automotive Grade Linux , connected car open source software, announced that Subaru, Mitsubishi Motors, Mazda Motor Corporation and Ford Motor Company are joining The Linux Foundation and AGL. Ford Motor Company is the first U.S. car manufacturer to join AGL. These latest automakers join existing members Toyota Motor Corporation, Nissan Motor Company Ltd. and Linux Foundation board member Jaguar Land Rover to round-up the list of OEM supporters within AGL.

    • Graphics Stack

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

      • Akonadi – still alive and rocking

        It’s been a while since I wrote anything about Akonadi but that does not mean I was slacking all the time Wink The KDE PIM team has ported PIM to KDE Frameworks 5 and Qt 5 and released the first KF5-based version in August 2015 and even before that we already did some major changes under the hood that were not possible in the KDE4 version due to API and ABI freezes of kdepimlibs. The KF5-based version of Akonadi libraries (and all the other KDE PIM libraries for that matter) have no guarantees of stable API yet, so we can bend and twist the libraries to our needs to improve stability and performance. Here’s an overview of what has happened (mostly in Akonadi) since we started porting to KDE Frameworks 5. It is slightly more technical than I originally intended to, sorry about that.

      • KDE Plasma 5.5: The Quintessential 2016 Review

        It’s the start of 2016 and over the past year KDE developers have brought numerous new features and improvements to the Plasma 5 desktop, some tangible with others more under-the-hood.

        With the sun set on 2015 it marks the first full year since Plasma 4, a stable workhorse which many users still rely on for day-to-day computing, has been discontinued. Plasma 5 is on the clock for users who need to know if the widgets, settings, and some painful regressions have been sorted out to see if it’s safe to embrace modern Plasma in the new year.

        This review will cover the evolution of KDE Plasma and its applications since the release of 5.2, listing many of the biggest differences and examining if they have caught up with Plasma 4 to a satisfactory degree for everyday users looking for a supported daily driver. We will also look at the desktop from the viewpoint of users who are thinking of trying or returning to the KDE/Plasma ecosystem, and may not necessarily know about some of the core Plasma functionality.

        While I have avoided bias to the best of my ability, for full disclosure I am a member of the KDE Visual Design Group.

      • Updates on KBibTeX

        In this posting, I am going to tell about the changes and development done in KBibTeX during the last few months. Most notably, KBibTeX has been ported to KDE Frameworks 5, but also some effort has been spent into code quality.

      • Care to help test?
      • Creating lessons with Cantor

        As a student from the competition Google Code In, I saw that there is a task to create lessons in Cantor. Although I haven’t worked with this KDE software before, I accepted the task.

      • The Kubuntu Podcast team’s latest video is live
    • GNOME Desktop/GTK

      • GNOME’s Mutter Now Supports Screen Rotation On Wayland

        Thanks to work that landed today by GNOME’s Carlos Garnacho, there is now support on the GNOME desktop for supporting screen rotation on Wayland.

        Mutter has picked up native, DRM-based CRTC rotation based upon the modes exposed by the DRM kernel graphics driver. This implementation is only for drivers/hardware supporting rotation modes and is not yet a driver-independent solution. The other caveat, which isn’t anything really unique, is that when screen rotation takes place GNOME falls back to using a software cursor.

      • Watch: GNOME Desktop Environment Makes Appearance in Justin Bieber’s ‘Sorry’ Video

        It’s almost weekend, so we’re continuing our “Watch” series of articles with a really funny one, the latest video of Justin Bieber for the song Sorry, where you can see the GNOME Shell user interface of the GNOME desktop environment for GNU/Linux OSes.

  • Distributions

  • Devices/Embedded

    • Nvidia unveils Drive PX 2 platform for self-driving cars

      Nvidia unveiled a “Drive PX 2” platform for self-driving cars, an update to its earlier Tegra-based Drive PX automotive mainboard design.

      Nvidia and Qualcomm showed off new automotive platforms at CES that demonstrate the power of their advanced GPUs to achieve sophisticated computer vision capabilities. Qualcomm’s new Linux- and Android-ready Snapdragon 820a is an automotive spin on its quad-core 820 SoC, that targets in-vehicle infotainment (IVI) and advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS). Here, we look at Nvidia’s Drive PX 2 platform for self-driving cars, an update to its Tegra-based Drive PX automotive board with 16nm Tegras that haven’t even been announced yet.

    • Qualcomm aims new Snapdragon 820a SoC at smart cars

      Qualcomm announced the Snapdragon 820a, a version of its 64-bit Snapdragon 820 SoC targeting automotive applications including IVI and ADAS.

      Nvidia and Qualcomm showed off new automotive platforms at CES that demonstrate the power of their advanced GPUs to achieve sophisticated computer vision capabilities. Nvidia’s Drive PX 2 platform is aimed at self-driving cars, and updates the Tegra-based Drive PX automotive board with 16nm Tegras that haven’t even been announced yet. Here, we look at Qualcomm’s Linux- and Android-ready Snapdragon 820a, an automotive spin on its quad-core 820 SoC designed for in-vehicle infotainment (IVI) and advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS).

    • Augmented reality helmet moves to Skylake, RealSense, Linux

      Daqri has upgraded its augmented reality Smart Helmet, which now runs Linux on a 6th Gen Intel Core M7 processor, and includes an Intel RealSense camera.

      Daqri first announced its Daqri Smart Helmet in Sept. 2014, and rolled it out to aerospace, construction, oil & gas, and other industrial firms for pilot programs shortly thereafter. At CES this week, Daqri showed off a second generation model of the Linux-based augmented reality helmet that will ship commercially later this quarter.

    • Latest Intel Compute Sticks use Skylake and Cherry Trail CPUs

      With its relatively high, $89 (Linux) to $149 (Windows) price, middling Bay Trail processor, and one lonely USB port, the Intel Compute Stick was clearly in need of some improvements. At CES, Intel launched several second-gen versions that add more USB ports, faster 802.11ac 2×2 WiFi, and much faster processors.

    • Phones

Free Software/Open Source

  • Half of AT&T’s networks are controlled by open-source SDN code

    AT&T says it has replaced nearly half of the software in its vast operations with open-source software-defined networking (SDN) code.

    Speaking to developers just before this year’s CES conference kicked off on Tuesday, technology and operations veep John Donovan dropped that number as evidence that the operator’s SDN strategy is working.

  • Open-source ‘ecosystem’ central to fight against Ebola

    Harnessing open-source software and the voters’ roll solved the issue.

  • Embracing open source as a visual artist

    I’d heard about Linux, but I thought it was scrolling green terminal output on black monitors for Hollywood hackers and geeks. Reading Sennett write about Linux in such a way that connected free, open source software to craftsmanship (and radical, avant-garde politics) piqued my interest. Unhappy with the standard computing options and wanting a deeper understanding of the means of media production, I made a leap into the void and built a Linux desktop. It was my first rig and my first distro (Ubuntu). The learning curve was steep and the new environment put a serious hamper on my creative output as there was no 1:1 correlation between the tools with which I was familiar. I began working with openFrameworks and while a visualist-in-residence at The Institute of Cultural Inquiry, created my first truly open source art work.

  • Was 2015 the Year When Open Source Software Finally Won?

    Open source software has made huge strides in a short time. But do platforms like the cloud, IoT and Android help or hinder the mission of free and open source code?

  • The role the channel can play in managing open source security

    With the growing popularity of wearables providing determined hackers with yet another means of accessing the sensitive information they desire, this year will see a need for security to extend beyond the perimeter as these hackers continue to find ways into IT infrastructure through alternative, less prioritised routes.

  • Raspberry Pi-based home AI project open-sources key components

    Mycroft.ai, which is working to create a home AI platform based on Raspberry Pi, Arduino and an extensive in-house software stack, has opened an important part of that stack to developers everywhere as of Wednesday.

  • WD and ownCloud team up on consumer cloud device

    ownCloud started off as a humble ‘free software’ file syncing project from Germany. But that project has evolved into an open source company that is now headquartered in Boston, Mass. And ownCloud has become a platform that does much more than just file syncing: It has an online collaborative document like Office 365, it has apps like mail, it has calendar, and much more.

  • A new home AI system, an open-source AI engine, and Apple’s acquisition of AI company Emotient—SD Times news digest: Jan. 8, 2016
  • AT&T software plans gain steam, focus on cloud and open source

    AT&T continues to steadily march towards a virtualized future, which will see the carrier hit software control of 75% of its network by 2020 using software-defined networking and network functions virtualization technologies.

  • Mycroft Open Sources Artificial Intelligence Library for IoT Devices

    Mycroft says it aims to assure the future of open source artificial intelligence through its release this week of Adapt, an intent parser engine for embedded devices, as an open source project.

    Mycroft’s main product is a device of the same name that is designed to manage IoT devices in the smart home and office. The chief selling point of the Mycroft is its ability to predict and learn what users want in an intelligent way.

  • Events

    • The Linux Foundation Announces 2016 Events Schedule

      The Linux Foundation, the nonprofit organization enabling mass innovation through open source, today announced its 2016 events schedule. Linux Foundation events are where the creators, maintainers and practitioners of the world’s most important open source projects meet. Linux Foundation events in 2015 attracted nearly 15,000 developers, maintainers, sysadmins, thought leaders, business executives and other industry professionals from more than 3,100 organizations across 85 countries.

    • International Free Software Conference in Havana Cuba

      The 100 EUR (General Admission) Ticket is for people from economically developed countries (but if you happen to be rich in a poorer country, please stick to this category). The 20 EUR category is for people from economically developing countries (we are naming Africa, Middle- and South America – if you happen to come from another country, please contact us individually).

    • Spotlight! Call for Proposals and Event Suggestions!

      You, and your suggestions and proposals, are the heart of Penguicon’s programming. The deadline for all event proposals and suggestions is February 1st, 2016, in 3 short weeks! This is a great time to tell us what you’d like to present, or suggest ideas our track heads can use, using our forms.

    • Bad Voltage Live in Los Angeles: Why You Should Be There
    • We Need Your Answers
    • Speaking at SCALE 14x

      I’m working on my GIMP talk for SCALE 14x, the Southern California Linux Expo in Pasadena.

    • Developer: Tizen Community Dinner at FOSDEM 2016

      Last year the event attracted 5000+ attendees and its looks like a similar number for this year. There will be a number of Tizen talks and you will have the opportunity to meet and listen to Tizen developers from all over Europe (and further away). There will be a EFL / Tizen booth where developers can learn about the Tizen ecosystem, available devices and also about coding using EFL.

    • Design Hackfest in Rio de Janeiro

      In a week and a half, a bunch of us that are involved in GNOME design will be heading to Rio de Janeiro, in order to spend some time with the good people at Endless. (If you don’t know them yet, Endless are selling computers for the developing world, all of which run a GNOME-based operating system. Their latest device, the Endless Mini has been getting some good press recently.)

    • Shuttleworth at SCALE, Google Rolls Over & More…

      To SCALE or not to SCALE: If you live somewhere within driving distance of Southern California and you’ve been sitting on the fence trying to decide whether to attend SCALE 14X (that’s the Southern California Linux Expo for the jargon impaired), then we’re about to give you a tidbit that might help you make up your mind. FOSS Force has learned from a SCALE official that FOSS rocket man and Ubuntu founder Mark Shuttleworth will be giving the keynote address at SCALE on Saturday January 23. Although Shuttleworth’s scheduling has not been posted on the event’s website as we go to press, it’s presumed that he will speak at 10:00 a.m. According to our source, Shuttleworth will most likely discuss Linux on Internet of Things (IoT) devices.

  • Web Browsers

  • Databases

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice

    • Third bug hunting session for LibreOffice 5.1

      The LibreOffice community is working hard on the next major release of LibreOffice 5.1 – planned for early February – with a bug hunting session focused on new features and fixes for bugs and regressions, to test the second release candidate.

      The session will last 3 days, from January 15 to January 17, 2016. On those dates, mentors will be available from 08AM UTC to 10PM UTC to help volunteers to triage bugs, on the QA IRC channel and via email on the QA mailing list.

    • A first look at Collabora/LibreOffice online (and a little bit of frustration)

      Recently, I read a blog article by Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols about an initiative from Collabora, an “Open Source consulting” firm, OwnCloud, an Open Source Cloud solution and the well-known LibreOffice office suite (actually a fork of OpenOffice.org, which itself is a fork of StarOffice), to release an online version of LibreOffice. Finally!

  • CMS

    • How to perform Drupal 7 integration tests with Red Test

      The spotlight is back on Drupal with the 8.0.0 release. The successful launch is a testament to the hard work put in by members of the Drupal community, but Drupal 7 still has a huge install base and likely will for many years to come. To support Drupal 7 development, let’s take a look at a testing platform built exclusively for the platform. Red Test is an open source integration testing framework aimed at making life easier for Drupal developers.

    • Drupal sites at risk due to insecure update mechanism

      The update mechanism of the popular Drupal content management system is insecure in several ways, allowing attackers to trick administrators into installing malicious updates.

      Researcher Fernando Arnaboldi from security firm IOActive noticed that Drupal will not inform administrators that an update check has failed, for example due to inability to access the update server. Instead, the back-end panel will continue to report that the CMS is up to date, even if it’s not.

      This can be a problem, considering that hackers are quick to exploit vulnerabilities in popular content management systems like Drupal, WordPress or Joomla, after they appear. In one case in 2014, users had only a seven-hour window to deploy a critical Drupal patch until attackers started exploiting the vulnerability that it fixed.

  • Education

    • How students can get started contributing to open source software

      As a student, getting involved in open source is a great way to improve your programming skills. From my experience, it can even help kickstart your career. But where do you begin? And how do you get involved?

      I started my open source journey during my high school days when I had a lot more free time on my hands (and lived on IRC). It was through that experience that I learned how to contribute to open source through communication media like IRC and Usenet. Open source has grown since those olden days, and there are now more formal ways to get involved with open source as a student.

    • Rapid Router: why Ocado Technology turned to open source

      Ocado Technology has open-sourced its free coding education application to encourage a wider community of contributors.

      The firm’s free Rapid Router coding education resource is teaching 38,500 people across the UK to code.

  • Pseudo-/Semi-Open Source (Openwashing)

    • Facebook and Google Use Open Source To Recruit Developers

      Artificial Intelligence (AI)—technology that is adept at identifying images, recognizing spoken words and translating information from one language to another—is the hottest new topic in Silicon Valley. In fact, as of late, both Google and Facebook have found themselves in a race to secure the most brilliant software engineers to continuously improve upon this technology for their own purposes. Specifically, in an attempt to get a leg up on Google, Facebook recently opened sourced its AI software in an effort to draw in top-level developers.

    • How tech giants spread open source programming love

      “Go is a programming language designed by Google to help solve Google’s problems.” So said Rob Pike, one of the Go language’s designers.

      That may be the case, yet the open source language is increasingly being adopted by enterprises around the world for building applications at large scale.

  • BSD

    • Pre-5.9 pledge(2) update

      In a continuing series of pledge(2) reports, Theo de Raadt (deraadt@) gives us the latest update before the 5.9 freeze.


    • GnuTLS 3.4.8

      Released GnuTLS 3.3.20 and GnuTLS 3.4.8 which are bug fix releases in the previous and current stable branches.

    • The Licensing and Compliance Lab interviews Guillaume Roguez, Ring Project Director

      Ring is multi-media communication platform with secured multi-media channels, that doesn’t require centralized servers to work. It is developed by Savoir-faire Linux, a Canadian company located in Montréal, Québec. It is a potential free-software replacement for Skype, and possibly more.

  • Public Services/Government

    • Blackpool becomes third NHS trust to get open-source EPR

      Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust is the third UK health trust to decide to implement the open-source electronic patient record system (EPR) from supplier IMS Maxims.

      The trust began implementing the EPR in December and aims to go live within the next 12 months.

  • Openness/Sharing

    • Open Source Seed — the past meets the future

      Open-source seeds offer farmers and alternative to other types of seeds.

    • The Origins of Totalitarianism: Interlude on The Commons

      One of the primary goals of neoliberals is to take over the commons.

    • Open Hardware

      • Open Source RISC-V Core Designs, Why Google Cares and Why They Matter

        The CPU is one of the most crucial components of our computers, responsible of performing basic calculations, logical comparisons and moving data around. These simple tasks are the building blocks of any more complex operation, and make running our systems and programs possible.

        How these operations are done is not random: an Instruction Set Architecture (ISA) defines what they are and what computer processors are supposed to do.

        An ISA defines supported instructions and features, but not how these instructions are specifically carried out. Think of it like a cooking recipe — let’s say it’s for bagels: while the recipe is the same, each chef will carry it out differently, arranging the sesame seeds differently for instance. The chef cooking based on the recipe is, in our example, the computer processor carrying out instructions as per the defined ISA. The result will always be the same in theory, though: a tasty bagel.

  • Programming


  • Science

  • Hardware

  • Health/Nutrition

  • Security

  • Defence/Police/Secrecy/Aggression

    • North Korea’s Nuclear Ambition and the U.S. Presidential Campaign

      We must demand answers to these questions about the greatest imminent existential threat to our world. We cannot rely on the hope that someone else will take care of this or the notion that I cannot make a difference. In our democracy each of us has a duty and responsibility to be informed and to take action.

    • Media Demonstrate GOP Hypocrisy In Blaming Obama And Hillary Clinton For North Korea’s Nuclear Testing
    • Hillary Clinton Suggests She May Oppose Obama’s $1 Trillion Nuclear Arms Upgrade

      In October, the administration awarded Northrop Grumman a contract to develop next-generation long-range bombers capable of firing nuclear weapons, a project that analysts expect will swell to $80 billion.

    • To End North Korea’s Nuclear Program, End the Korean War

      Pyongyang’s latest nuclear test may be a last-ditch effort to get on the U.S. agenda before Obama leaves office and a hawkish new president comes in.

    • Taking on the Nuclear Goliath

      Say hello to the Marshall Islands, the tiny, heroic island nation in Micronesia, with a population just over 70,000. This former U.S. territory, which still bears the terrible scars of 67 above-ground nuclear blasts between 1946 and 1958, when this country used it as an expendable nuclear test site, has engaged the United States — and, indeed, all nine nations that possess nuclear weapons — in lawsuits demanding that they comply with the 1968 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and begin the process of negotiating global nuclear disarmament.

    • A lot of chatter about terrorism

      Tim Wilson (TW): Privacy is a human right, but there is a difference between privacy and secrecy. Private information is information that we don’t want publicly disclosed. But some of that information does need to be accessed by third parties such as the government. The issue and the challenge is, if the information is going to be disclosed, who gets to decide that and then who gets to access it, and under what circumstances.

      Think about it in terms of, for example, a data retention regime. If I use my phone now, I go through with my ISP and online content providers. At every point I have voluntarily said the trade-off for accessing information is that I have put out a certain amount of material about myself to these different companies. The question is how they long they store my information for, and who can access and on what terms.

    • New Research Explains Why Immigrants Are Fleeing Latin America

      In 2005, Mexico’s homicide rates was 9.5 homicides per 100,000 people. By 2010, that rate more than doubled to 22 per 100,000. Homicides have not subsided — May 2015 saw at least 1,621 homicides, marking one of the deadliest months since January 2014.

    • Saudi Arabia: the West’s Chosen Islamist Head-Cutters

      The latest executions in Saudi Arabia should make it very clear that the Western powers’ “war on terror” has nothing to do with opposition to chopping off heads and sectarian religious fanaticism. Instead of condemning this crime, the U.S., UK and other Western powers have continued to give the Saudi regime, if not their public political blessing, at least their practical backing – in the name of the necessary alliances they claim flow from that “war on terror”.

    • Why Is North Korea Our Problem?

      Why, then, are 25,000 U.S. troops still in South Korea?

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife

    • A Look Into the Future at How TPP Could Create Environmental Nightmares

      The TPP makes the rights of companies sacrosanct, including the right to mine. But what about the rights of people who live in the way of proposed mining sites?

    • ‘Environmental’ Comic Strip’s Author Wants Global Warming Believers to ‘Get Real’

      The leading environmental-themed comic strip in the United States, Mark Trail, is apparently written by a climate-change denier.

      The strip’s expanded Sunday editions are intended to be educational, and this week’s (1/3/16) featured a lesson about sulfur dioxide. “Sulfur dioxide is a major cause of acid rain!” the title character, a naturalist, exclaims. He notes that it’s “a byproduct of large-scale farms, power plants and other industries,” as well as “the burning of fossil fuels by large transportation vehicles.”

    • Republicans Are Pushing a Bill That Could Make It Much Harder to Sue Volkswagen

      Volkswagen will likely be spending a lot of time in court over the next few years. On Monday, the automaker was presented with a new lawsuit from the Justice Department over allegations that it had illegally rigged half a million cars sold in the United States to cheat on emissions tests. The suit is the first step the Obama administration has taken to hold VW accountable for the scandal, and it could leave the company on the hook for billions of dollars in fines. Federal criminal charges could also be forthcoming.

      Meanwhile, VW is also facing a torrent of outrage from some of the folks who bought those cars, which include the diesel-powered versions of Jetta and Golf models made since 2009. A court in Northern California is scheduled to decide this month whether to hear a group of more than 350 class-action lawsuits from VW customers who feel they were misled about the environmental benefits of the cars before buying them.

    • Warming fuels rise in methane threat

      Higher temperatures and permafrost thaw could cause an increase of up to 50 per cent in emissions of a key greenhouse gas from northern lakes and ponds by 2100.

    • Calls for Michigan Gov. Snyder’s Arrest as Flint Poisoning Scandal Implicates Top Staffers

      “The source of the Flint Water Crisis leads directly to Gov. Rick Snyder and the fiscal austerity policies that he and his Republican colleagues have been pushing for years on Michigan residents,” said Lonnie Scott, executive director of Progress Michigan,” in a statement released Thursday. “Families in Flint were forced to drink lead-tainted water while the administration scoffed at their concerns and cries for help. An entire generation of Michiganders now face an uncertain future because of Republican cuts to essential and life-giving services.”

    • How Michigan literally poisoned an entire city to save a few bucks

      You know what’s bad? Brain damage.

      Flint, Michigan, is finding this out after it accidentally gave its entire population at least a little bit of lead poisoning when it switched up their water supply. In an attempt to save money for a cash-strapped city, Flint started drinking water from the Flint River — but ended up contaminating children with a poisonous heavy metal. Governor Rick Snyder has declared a state of emergency, and the federal government is investigating.

    • Calls for Michigan Gov. Snyder’s Arrest as Flint Poisoning Scandal Implicates Top Staffers
    • The Geopolitics of Cheap Oil

      There are a number of reasons for the price drop, but it boils down to supply (more of it) and demand (less of it). The United States boosted oil production by 66 percent over the last five years, making it the largest oil and natural gas producer in the world in 2015. Other producers, like Saudi Arabia, also didn’t scale back, in part to stick it to a sanctions-hobbled Iran and snatch up its clients. Meanwhile, greater fuel efficiency and slower economic growth around the world (particularly in China) have reduced demand.

    • How the Koch Brothers’ ‘Bankers’ Snuck an Anti-Wind Op-Ed Past the New York Times

      Since 1997, the Kochs have given more than $79 million to groups that distort climate science and malign renewable energy.

    • TransCanada Goes Legal On US Government Over The Rejection Of Keystone; Will It Wake Obama To The Problems Of Corporate Sovereignty?

      Over the last few years, there’s been a big controversy over the Keystone XL pipeline project, a massive planned project to build an oil pipeline from Canada to the US that many folks had been protesting, and which (after years and years of debate), President Obama finally rejected a few months back. That’s not a topic that we’ve really covered here, other than a single mention when we questioned why the FBI had spied on activists protesting the potential pipeline.

    • The Company Behind Keystone XL Now Wants $15 Billion From US Taxpayers

      In its NAFTA complaint, TransCanada alleges that “the politically-driven denial of Keystone’s application was contrary to all precedent; inconsistent with any reasonable and expected application of the relevant rules and regulations; and arbitrary, discriminatory, and expropriatory.”

    • Trans-Canada Sue US Government for $15 Billion over Tar Sands Pipeline Cancellation
    • The EPA Finally Admitted That the World’s Most Popular Pesticide Kills Bees—20 Years Too Late

      Bees are dying in record numbers—and now the government admits that an extremely common pesticide is at least partially to blame.

    • Exposing the EPA’s Dark Side

      The federal agency has a broken process for regulating pesticides.

    • It’s Official: 2015 Was America’s Second-Hottest Year on Record

      It’s official. The United States roasted in 2015. All that unseasonably warm December weather that saw flowers blooming in Central Park and shirtless Christmas Day volleyball set a record, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), which released its year-end findings on Thursday. In fact, 29 states in the eastern half of the country experienced their hottest Decembers on record, a phenomenon that sealed 2015′s fate: It was the second-warmest year ever recorded in the contiguous United States.

    • Severe cold causing havoc on railway, public transport

      The deep freeze that has descended upon Finland is causing disruptions to train traffic in several areas of the country. On Wednesday night some trains were delayed by hours and problems appear to be continuing.

    • Governor declares state of emergency in connection with California methane leak

      On Wednesday evening, California Governor Jerry Brown declared a state of emergency in Los Angeles County in connection with a massive natural gas leak that’s ongoing at a Southern California Gas Company storage facility. The leak, which began on October 23, has been spewing methane into the air at a rate of tens of thousands of kilograms (PDF) per hour.

      Governor Brown’s declaration of a state of emergency requires that SoCal Gas and other gas storage facility operators throughout California start conducting daily inspections of well heads and implement infrared imaging technology to detect leaks. Facility operators will have to monitor the wells for mechanical integrity, gas pressure, and safety on an ongoing basis.

      The emergency declaration doesn’t earmark any state funds to help fund a cleanup, but it orders the California Public Utilities Commission to “ensure that Southern California Gas Company covers costs related to the natural gas leak and its response, while protecting ratepayers.”

  • Finance

    • Con man Chancellor George Osborne terrified game is up amid dire economic warnings

      Con man George Osborne screeching “Not me, Gov!” is the whine of a spineless Chancer of the Exchequer terrified the game is up.

      Blaming everything and everybody except himself for Britain’s faltering economic “recovery” – China, oil, Middle East, that big boy with a stick who ran away – is the spineless politics of a dishonest politician.

      Oh my how his tune has changed, not since an election when Osborne deliberately gave the impression we’d be wading knee deep in milk and honey to swindle voters, but also from just before Christmas when, boasted the Treasury chiseller, the country was “growing fast”.

      Spewing out alibis for the gathering storm after statisticians cut growth figures will convince only the criminally gullible.

    • Everything Is (Even More) Awesome!

      As we enter 2016, Americans are still feeling grouchy. Only one-fourth of the public believes the United States is heading in the right direction. The Republican presidential debates have been malaise-a-thons, competitions to portray American decline in the most apocalyptic terms possible, while Bernie Sanders is pursuing the Democratic nomination with a message so depressing that professional curmudgeon Larry David has basically played him straight. A year after I wrote an article only somewhat ironically titled Everything Is Awesome, cable news is an endless Debbie Downer loop of terrorism fears and market jitters, periodically interrupted by a weirdly coifed nativist blowhard promising to Make America Great Again.

    • K12 Inc. Tries to Pivot from Virtual School Failures to Profit from “Non-Managed” Schools

      Big, Big Payouts to Execs at Taxpayer Expense

      In its recommendation that shareholders vote against the pay proposal, the advisory firm Glass Lewis & Co. said K12 exemplifies a “substantial disconnect between compensation and performance results.” Glass Lewis gave the company an “F” for how it paid its executives compared to peers.

      In 2015, K12 CEO Nathaniel Davis was making $5.3 million and CFO James Rhyu was making $3.6 million. Their base salaries were $700,000 and 478,500, respectively, which were dwarfed by additional pay and stock for their “performance.” (See more details on their total compensation in the pdf uploaded below.)

      In all, K12′s five highest paid executives received a total of more than $12 million in compensation last year. That’s one of the reasons CMD has called K12 Inc.’s former CEO, Ron Packard, the highest paid elementary and secondary school educator in the nation.

    • This Map Shows How Student Debt Is Crushing Your Community

      Student debt is an elephant in the room of the American economy. Total educational debt has ballooned from $840 billion in 2010 to more than $1.3 trillion this year, according to the Federal Reserve. And yet the Education Department has been reluctant to share data on the federal government’s student loan portfolio, meaning that, until recently, there has been very little detailed information available on the burgeoning crisis.

    • Denials and devaluation as China’s currency tumbles to five-year low

      The phrase “currency war” speaks to a seemingly phoney battle between the world’s major trading powers over the price of exports. It has all the attributes of an illusory conflict because no one ever agrees that a genuine dispute has taken place. And as long as everyone denies they have drawn swords to slash their currency to compete with rival powers, talk of a war fizzles and dies.

    • Is a $15 an Hour Minimum Wage Adequate?

      Social movements calling for raising the minimum wage to $15/ hour with yearly adjustments for increases in the cost of living deserve support. However, earning $15/ hour will not guarantee a decent standard of living.

      An individual working forty hours a week at $15/ hour for an entire year earns $31,200, an income that is more than two and a half times the 2014 official poverty threshold of $12,316 for one adult. One might readily conclude that this individual is doing well since $15/ hour is also more than twice the federal minimum wage of $7.25/ hour.

    • Making America safer for predatory capitalism

      Forcing customers into arbitration makes it easier to rip them off

    • Bernie Sander’s Plan to Tame Wall Street Riles Team Clinton

      Sanders’ presidential campaign is making history in other ways. Sanders raised more than $33 million in the final three months of last year, $73 million for the year, compared to Clinton’s $37 million in the last quarter for a total of $112 million for the year. But the vast majority of Sanders big bucks came from very small donors. The 2,513,665 donations to Sanders’ campaign broke the record set four years ago by President Barack Obama’s re-election committee.

    • How Corrupt Officials Screwed Up An Extremely Poor Town’s Big Break

      But while the columns hearken back to the town’s prosperous times, Yanceyville has long been one of the poorest places in the country. More than half of the population lived below the poverty line in 2013 and the median household income was $14,500. Poverty falls harder on African-American residents, 64 percent of whom lived below the poverty line, compared to 29 percent of white residents. At the county level, African Americans suffer from an unemployment rate of 18 percent (although as recently as 2011, it was over 20 percent).

    • How Jeb Bush Plans To Destroy Anti-Poverty Programs
    • Turkey Seeks Inclusion in US-EU TTIP Free Trade Deal – Turkish Deputy PM

      Turkey hopes to renegotiate its current trade agreements with the European Union, so it can be included in the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) free trade deal between the United States and EU, Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Mehmet Simsek said.

  • PR/AstroTurf/Lobbying

    • Wash. Post Highlights How Trump’s Media Dominance “Obscure[s]” Ted Cruz’s Extremism — To His Benefit

      The Washington Post’s David Weigel highlighted how Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz “actually benefits from Trump’s full-spectrum dominance of the national media conversation,” which “obscure[s]” Cruz’s extreme positions.

    • Ted Cruz is a Natural Born Citizen

      May lightening not strike me, but I am going to help Ted Cruz now. Ted is a natural-born citizen and he can be president. There is no ambiguity, no legal question. It is very clear.

    • O’Reilly: Trump’s Attack Ad Against Hillary Clinton Is So Vile It Might Have Been Made By Hitler
    • The Problem With Hillary Clinton Using a Progressive Hero to Attack Bernie Sanders

      Hillary Clinton is using a prominent surrogate to attack Bernie Sanders’s emphatic proposals for reforming Wall Street: Gary Gensler, former chair of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission.

      Gensler, who is the Clinton campaign’s chief financial officer, has enormous credibility among financial reformers after his aggressive (and lonely) efforts to rein in banks during the early years of the Obama administration.

    • Feminism A Neo-Con Tool

      Catching up on a fortnight’s news, I have spent five hours searching in vain for criticism of Simon Danczuk from prominent or even just declared feminists. The Guardian was the obvious place to start, but while they had two articles by feminist writers condemning Chris Gayle’s clumsy attempt to chat up a presenter, their legion of feminist columnists were entirely silent on Danczuk. The only opinion piece was strongly defending him.

      This is very peculiar. The allegation against Danczuk which is under police investigation – of initiating sex with a sleeping woman – is identical to the worst interpretation of the worst accusation against Julian Assange. The Assange allegation brought literally hundreds, probably thousands of condemnatory articles from feminist writers across the entire range of the mainstream media. I have dug up 57 in the Guardian alone with a simple and far from exhaustive search. In the case of Danczuk I can find nothing, zilch, nada. Not a single feminist peep.

      The Assange case is not isolated. Tommy Sheridan has been pursuing a lone legal battle against the Murdoch empire for a decade, some of it in prison when the judicial system decided his “perjury” was imprisonable but Andy Coulson’s admitted perjury on the Murdoch side in the same case was not. I personally witnessed in court in Edinburgh last month Tommy Sheridan, with no lawyer (he has no money) arguing against a seven man Murdoch legal team including three QCs, that a letter from the husband of Jackie Bird of BBC Scotland should be admitted in evidence. Bird was working for Murdoch and suggested in his letter that a witness should be “got out of the country” to avoid giving evidence. The bias exhibited by the leading judge I found astonishing beyond belief. I was the only media in the court.

    • Wall Street Journal Flip-Flops To Attack Obamacare, Praise GOP

      Reversing on their past condemnation of the use of a budget procedure called “reconciliation,” The Wall Street Journal praised Republicans for using the tactic in their latest attempt to repeal Obamacare. The Journal also bashed, the law falsely claiming the Affordable Care Act (ACA) has resulted in “huge” premium increases, and showed little concern for the millions of Americans who would lose healthcare if the law is repealed.

    • Just Because Donald Trump Says It Doesn’t Mean You Have to Report It

      Stop it, stop it, stop it, STOP IT! Just because Donald Trump says something calculatingly stupid and provocative doesn’t mean it has to be reported as front-page news. Everyone knows that his “Cruz is a Canadian” thing is ridiculous—and he wouldn’t bother saying it if he didn’t know that it was going to get loudly amplified by a media that just can’t say no to him.

    • Washington Post Fact Checker Has A Double Standard On Gun Claims

      Washington Post fact checker Glenn Kessler ruled that a true statement by President Obama on how guns are sold was inaccurate because it was “confusing,” just weeks after writing that an unprovable claim about mass shootings made by GOP hopeful Marco Rubio was true.

    • Official Member Of Trump Campaign Joins Oregon Militia

      The co-chairman of Donald Trump’s New Hampshire “Veterans for Trump” group has arrived in Burns, Oregon, to assist the small cadre of armed men who are seeking to provoke a standoff with federal officials there.

      That not-quite-standoff began over the weekend when a handful of men led by Ammon Bundy decided to turn a much larger peaceful protest over a decision to send two ranchers back to jail for arson into an armed struggle. The group’s numbers are small – especially compared to the 300 who reportedly joined the peaceful protest of the re-sentencing – but they have now been reinforced by Jerry DeLemus, a former United States Marine living on the opposite side of the country.

  • Censorship

  • Privacy

  • Civil Rights

    • More Needs to be Done to Strengthen Protection of Human Subjects in Scientific Experiments

      The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has proposed a sweeping update to the federal regulations that govern scientific experiments involving human subjects, whether it’s studying behavior, testing biological specimens, or analyzing DNA. While the proposed policy [.pdf] generally moves in the right direction, EFF has filed formal comments outlining several serious concerns about how these rules will impact privacy.

      The “Federal Policy for the Protection of Human Subjects”—often referred to as the “Common Rule”—is the ethical framework for biomedical and behavioral research established in the wake of medical scandals that shook the nation, including the now infamous Tuskegee Syphilis Study, in which the U.S. government withheld treatment and medical information from rural African-American men suffering from the disease. Much of the Common Rule revolves around two concepts: informed consent and independent review. These principles reflect the need for people need to know the risks and benefits and what will happen to their specimens before agreeing to participate in an experiment and the idea that researchers will make better ethical decisions with the guidance of oversight bodies.

    • Fort Dix Five: Prosecuted by Christie, Muslim Brothers Get Rare Day in Court in FBI Entrapment Case

      In 2008, the Duka brothers—Shain, Dritan and Eljvir—were among five men from suburban New Jersey who were convicted of conspiring to kill American soldiers at the Fort Dix Army base. The three are serving life sentences, but their supporters say the men were entrapped by the FBI. On Wednesday, the three brothers appeared in a courthouse in Camden, New Jersey, for a rare court-ordered hearing to determine whether they received a fair trial and effective representation from their lawyers. We bring you voices from a rally organized in support of the three Duka brothers and speak with Robert Boyle, attorney for Shain Duka.

    • As Chris Christie Rises in Polls, Appeal of His Fort Dix Terrorism Case Moves Ahead

      A detailed investigation published last year by The Intercept suggested that the plot against the military base had actually been fomented by highly-paid government informants. Mahmoud Omar, one of the informants, told The Intercept that he believed the Dukas were innocent, describing them as “good people.”

    • U.S. Cops Already Killed More Since Xmas Than UK Cops Have Killed in Five Years

      In all of 2011, British police killed two people. In 2012, one. In 2013, a total of three shots were fired by British police, and no one was killed. In the last two years, a total of three people lost their lives because of British cops, bringing the total number of citizens killed in the UK to all of seven in the last five years.

    • Nebraska routinely holds children in solitary confinement, report finds

      Solitary confinement is a commonplace experience for children held in Nebraska juvenile detention facilities, a report has shown, with minors routinely detained in isolation for days, weeks, even months at a time.

      To varying degrees, in each of the state’s nine juvenile facilities children are placed in solitary confinement for “relatively minor offenses” such as keeping too many books, according to the report compiled by the state’s American Civil Liberties Union chapter. Other infractions triggering the “overused” practice included talking back to staff members or refusing to follow directions.

    • Report: Nebraska Lets Juveniles Be Locked in Solitary Confinement for 90 Days

      As a teenager, Jacob Rusher was detained at the Douglas County Youth Facility in Omaha, Nebraska. After he broke his ankle, he was told that he was being placed in “lockdown” — a form of solitary confinement — for “his own good.” He spent three months there, often pounding against the door begging to be released.

      “It was 23 hours a day alone, no TV or radio. You were in there with one book, a blanket, a mat, and a toothbrush. No art materials, no hobby items — everything was considered contraband,” he told the ACLU of Nebraska. “Nighttimes, you’d get a little crazy. They kept the light on and would wake us up every hour to check on you so you’d never get any good sleep.”

    • Washington’s Multi-Million-Dollar Saudi PR Machine

      Public image isn’t something one can always control, but Saudi Arabia is spending millions of dollars on Washington lobbyists and PR firms to improve the Kingdom’s reputation in the West. The execution of Shiite leader Sheik Nimr Baqr al-Nimr, followed by an attack on the Saudi embassy in Tehran and the Kingdom’s severing of diplomatic relations with Iran, would seem to offer few upsides for the Saudi government. Riyadh’s behavior comes across as a desperate Hail-Mary pass to isolate Iran at the expense of regional efforts to negotiate a de-escalation of the Syrian civil war and defeat the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq.

    • Two Years Behind Bars or 20? One Day, a Computer Formula May Have a Say

      Just looking at a defendant’s criminal record to decide a sentence could be racially biased, Ghandnoosh argues. “Criminal history measures criminal justice policies,” she said, adding that “people of color are more likely to be surveilled and arrested and convicted” for crimes, especially less serious ones. The fact that police departments tend to focus more on minorities means minorities are more likely to be arrested, which means members of these groups are more likely to have criminal records in the first place.

    • Tomgram: Rebecca Gordon, American War Crimes, Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow

      Yes, you read that correctly: tiny numbers of Americans live on a different tax planet from the rest of us. They’ve paid for the privilege, of course, and increasingly for the political class that oversees how our country runs. They’ve insulated themselves in a largely tax-free zone that ensures their “equality” before the law (such as it is) and your deepening inequality before the same — and before them. Their actions have garnered them the ultimate in impunity. In this election season in a country of more than 300 million people, for instance, a mere 158 families (and the companies they control) are putting their (largely tax-free) dollars where our mouths once were. By October, they had provided almost half the money thus far raised by presidential candidates in a move meant to ensure that American democracy becomes their system, their creature. (“Not since before Watergate have so few people and businesses provided so much early money in a campaign, most of it through channels legalized by the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision five years ago.”)

    • FBI Helps Shut Down Seattle Sex-Work Review Board

      So perhaps the only surprising thing about this Review Board situation is it produced a local TV news report (featuring Reason contributor Maggie McNeill) that doesn’t merely parrot police talking points. Newscasters actually allow sex workers to speak for themselves about the site’s shutdown and how it puts them at risk, while noting that Seattle recently received a $1.5 million grant from the Justice Department to help “eradicate human trafficking” and “end modern slavery.”

    • Don’t Fear the Refugees

      Americans are skeptical and afraid of allowing Middle East refugees into this country. Should they be?

    • The refugee question in Europe: ‘south’ vs ‘east’

      The refugee crisis has triggered a diplomatic row between Greece and certain ‘new’ member-states from Central and Eastern Europe. Does this tell us something about the various shades of Euroscepticism, whether ‘soft’ or ‘hard’, in the peripheries of the EU?

    • Govt Pays Millions in Reparations to 57 Victims of Worst Cop in History – Who Still Receives a Pension

      Former Chicago Police Commander received 13 commendations before his termination for torturing over 200 citizens.

    • Tunisia’s fight against its revolutionary youth

      The threat of terrorism has been exploited to justify anti-democratic laws and an escalation of arrests and detentions, apparently more focused on silencing dissent than anything else.

    • The illusion of security

      Jérémie Zimmermann (JZ): In the last year and a half, four security laws have been adopted in France in the name of combating terrorism. Now would be the right time to question their efficiency.

      Things did not start with Charlie Hebdo: in the last 15 years about fifteen other bills were adopted which closely followed the example of the US and some other European countries after 9/11. The most recent law, prolonging the state of emergency to three months and even renewable for longer, is the most striking because it coincides with the collective emotional shock and disorientation of French society as a whole after November 13. This state of emergency was adopted in an extremely rushed procedure, almost overnight, with no room for debate, so that one might surmise that most of the MPs did not have time to read the bill they voted for. It seems as if the political process has been poisoned by the intelligence agencies, who are given more power with less accountability requested every time they fail, so that this efficiency cannot even be assessed properly. We are in a downwards spiral, where policies that are driven by fear undermine the rule of law and fundamental rights, in favour of an illusion of more security.

    • 7 Myths About Gun Violence in America, Debunked

      On live television Thursday evening, President Barack Obama will hold a town hall meeting about gun violence. He will take questions from participants who support tighter gun laws and from others who want fewer restrictions on guns. It’s a prime-time moment for separating fact from fiction—so here’s a shortlist, with the data to back it up.

    • Wearing the Hijab in Solidarity Perpetuates Oppression

      Saturday night at the Dar Al Noor mosque in Manassas, Va., near Civil War battlefields, a girl of about 7 sat cross-legged in a dimly lit back corner of the prayer hall in the cramped “sisters’ section.” A tinted waist-high glass barrier separated the girl from the spacious “brothers’ section,” where about 50 men listened intently to a Saudi preacher who ignored the “sisters.”

      The girl’s hair was entirely covered by a scarf, per the mosque’s guidelines for “proper Islamic attire, including Hijab for girls, while boys dress modestly.”

      As mainstream Muslim women, we see the girl’s headscarf not as a signal of “choice,” but as a symbol of a dangerous purity culture, obsessed with honor and virginity, that has divided Muslim communities in our own civil war, or fitna, since the Saudi and Iranian regimes promulgated puritanical interpretations of Sunni and Shia Islam, after the 1970s Saudi oil boom and the 1979 Iranian Revolution.

    • Muslim cleric vows to behead anyone who speaks against Islam – Watch

      New Delhi: A Muslim cleric stirred a controversy recently when he announced on live TV that he would behead any person who speaks against Islam.

    • Saudi executions: beyond the numbers

      Freedom is the ability to speak out, including against the ruler, according to one’s opinions and beliefs, even—and especially—if those opinions and beliefs run counter to the ruling class or majority opinion.

    • Tears
  • Internet/Net Neutrality

    • Binge On Lite? Ask for the Truth about T-Mobile Video Throttling

      Now, T-Mobile is on the defensive. John Legere, CEO of T-Mobile, is hosting a Q&A on Twitter today, starting at noon Pacific time, in an attempt to quell concerns. That means concerned members of the digital public have an opportunity to discuss the issues directly with Mr. Legere. Just use the hastag #AskJohn.

    • T-Mobile Doubles Down On Its Blatant Lies, Says Claims It’s Throttling Are ‘Bullshit’ And That I’m A ‘Jerk’

      There were a bunch of problems with this, starting with the fact that favoring some partner traffic over others to exempt it from a cap (i.e., zero rating) is a sketchy way to backdoor in net neutrality violations. But, the bigger issue was that almost everything about T-Mobile’s announcement implied that it was only “partner” video that was being “optimized” while the reality was that they were doing it for any video they could find (even downloaded, not streamed). The biggest problem of all, however, was that the video was not being “optimized” but throttled by slowing down video.

      Once the throttling was called out, T-Mobile went on a weird PR campaign, flat out lying, and saying that what they were doing was “optimizing” not throttling and that it would make videos stream faster and save users data. However, as we pointed out, that’s blatantly false. Videos from YouTube, for example, were encrypted, meaning that T-Mobile had no way to “optimize” it, and tests from EFF proved pretty conclusively that the only thing T-Mobile was doing was slowing connection speeds down to 1.5 Mbps when it sensed video downloads of any kind (so not even streaming), and that actually meant that the full amount of data was going through in many cases, rather than an “optimized” file. EFF even got T-Mobile to admit that this was all they were doing.

    • John Legere asks EFF, “Who the f**k are you, and who pays you?”
    • T-Mobile’s John Legere Goes Off The Deep End: ‘Who The Fuck Are You, EFF?’
    • T-Mobile Confirms It Slows Connections to Video Sites
    • T-Mobile CEO to EFF: ‘Who the Fuck Are You?’
    • Friends, Please Tell T-Mobile’s CEO About EFF

      We think the best response comes from the community of people who support our work. As a member-funded organization, EFF exists because of the donations of tens of thousands of regular people. And as an advocacy organization fighting for civil liberties in the digital world, we are able to influence powerful entities—from heads of state to elected officials to tech giants—because so many people stand with.

    • As Its CEO Continues To Claim It Doesn’t Throttle, T-Mobile Spokesperson Confirms Company Throttles

      And yet now the company is admitting that they are, in fact, slowing down YouTube, not “optimizing” it or making the resolution lower. As I said at the time, T-Mobile is flat out lying. And now two statements from the company directly contradict each other, and the company’s CEO is still insisting that the company isn’t doing what the company admits it’s doing.

      I’ve seen some corporate snafu meltdowns before, but this is reaching epic levels — and that’s bad news for a company that had spent so much time building up a reputation as a “straight shooter.” Good reputations are hard to build, but easy to let slip away….

    • Streaming Video Company Drops Out Of BingeOn To Protest John Legere’s Attack On EFF; It Will Still Get Throttled, Though

      Well, this has really turned into quite a week for T-Mobile CEO John Legere, huh? First, his lies about BingeOn throttling were exposed. Then he doubled down on the lie insisting that BingeOn wasn’t throttling despite clear evidence that it is. Then, he attacked EFF for exposing his lie. All the meanwhile, T-Mobile spokespeople were confirming that the company is, absolutely, slowing down all video traffic.

      And it appears the fallout from this keeps spreading. Legere keeps touting the number of partner video companies that have signed up for BingeOn, but it appears that number needs to go down by one.

  • DRM

    • Warner Bros and Intel Sue 4k Content Protection “Stripper”

      Warner Bros. and Intel’s daughter company Digital Content Protection have sued a hardware manufacturer that creates devices enabling consumers to bypass 4K copy protection. The devices, sold under the HDFury brand, can be used by pirates to copy 4k video from streaming platforms as well as other HDCP 2.2 protected content.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Target cleared in Rosa Parks image rights dispute

      Rosa Parks may be best known for her refusal to move from her seat on the bus, but her many years of campaigning for equality places her at the centre of the civil rights movement story in the US.

      And according to a judgment handed down by the US Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit yesterday, January 4, it is important that the story continues to be promoted without too many restrictions.

    • New Year Brings New Faces To IP World, Bids Others Farewell

      The New Year brings some new faces in the intellectual property world as several changes were announced at the end of 2015, in particular at the European Commission, in the private sector and non-governmental organisations. In Geneva, the coordination of the Group of Latin American and Caribbean countries changes, and the UN Plant Treaty is working on intersessional committees. And a leading light in the IP publishing world has retired.

    • Cartoonist Who Claimed ‘Kung Fu Panda’ Ripped Off His Work Might Be Headed To Prison

      Jayme Gordon, the other person to sue Dreamworks for allegedly copying his work has won the Worst Outcome Ever sweepstakes. The cartoonist claimed Dreamworks ripped off his sketches and he seemingly had the evidence to prove this — including a rarity in many of these little-guy-sues-big-studio lawsuits: actual registered works.

      Gordon demanded $12 million and a cut of the proceeds. He survived a motion to dismiss and seemed ready to take a serious run at the studio. Two years after he filed the lawsuit, Gordon suddenly dismissed it with prejudice and received no settlement for doing so.


      That’s the bogus part of this prosecution. Sure, perjury is a given, considering the evidence uncovered by Dreamworks’ lawyers. But wire fraud? That’s just charge stacking. This office, however, isn’t exactly shy about trumping up charges to make itself seem more impressive. It’s the same US Attorney’s Office that was behind the investigation and prosecution of Aaron Swartz, so this could go very, very badly for Gordon.

    • Trademarks

      • Australian Federal Court Prevents Registration of the Word ‘Yellow’ As Trade Mark

        Yellow is one of this writer’s least favourite colours. Garish, sickeningly bright, and forever tarnished by its association with both liver disease and the band Coldplay, yellow is highly, highly overrated. But, credit where credit is due, it does tend to make things stand out. For this reason, it is the colour of choice for school buses, road signs, and, for historically anomalous reasons, telephone business directories – commonly known as Yellow Pages. This phrase, as well as its accompanying ‘Walking Fingers’ logo, are registered trade marks in many countries around the world, including the UK, Canada, and Australia – though curiously not the United States.

    • Copyrights

      • NY Public Library Embraces The Public Domain Big Time: Releases 180,000 High Resolution Images

        There’s some wonderful news from the NY Public Library, which has released over 180,000 high resolution digital images of public domain works that it found in its collection. We’ve seen too many organizations, mainly museums, try to claim copyright over public domain works, or otherwise limit access. The NY Public Library, on the other hand, is going the other direction. Not only are they releasing these works and making it clear that the works are in the public domain, but they’re releasing them as high resolution images and actively encouraging people to make use of them.

      • ‘Monkey selfie’ copyright claim rejected

        A US court has dismissed a claim filed by the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) in which the organisation claimed that the copyright to the ‘monkey selfie’ photograph should belong to a macaque ape.

        Judge William Orrick of the US District Court for the Northern District of California rejected PETA’s claim yesterday, January 6, stating that it is a matter for Congress not the courts.

      • German Publishers Still Upset That Google Sends Them Traffic Without Paying Them Too; File Lawsuit

        Oh boy. Remember VG Media? That’s the consortium of German news publishers who were so damn angry that Google News sends them all sorts of traffic without also paying them. A year and a half ago, they demanded money from Google. That failed, so they went crying to German regulators who laughed off the request. After there were some concerns that a new “ancillary copyright” right regime in Germany might require payment for posting such snippets, Google properly responded by removing the snippets for those publishers, who totally freaked out and called it blackmail.

      • Techdirt Reading Club: The Boy Who Could Change The World: The Writings Of Aaron Swartz

        We’re back again with another in our weekly reading list posts of books we think our community will find interesting and thought provoking. Once again, buying the book via the Amazon links in this story also helps support Techdirt.
        This week we have a brand new book, but one I’m disappointed needs to be a book. It’s the collected writings of Aaron Swartz, called The Boy Who Could Change the World: The Writings of Aaron Swartz. As I’ve noted in the past, I knew Aaron as we worked in similar circles and interacted on a bunch of occasions, though I didn’t know him well. But, more importantly, I’d actually been following Aaron’s writings on his personal blog and elsewhere from a very early age (I particularly remember following his writings about his experience as a freshman at Stanford). As you probably know by now, Aaron committed suicide almost three years ago, while dealing with a ridiculous federal prosecution for downloading too many academic papers from a computer system at MIT, where the license was clear anyone could download as much as they wanted.

      • The New York Public Library Just Unleashed 180,000 Free Images. We Can’t Stop Looking at Them.

        The New York Public Library just digitized and made available more than 180,000 high resolution items, which the public can download for free.

        The images come from pieces in the library’s collection that have fallen out of copyright or are otherwise in the public domain. This includes botanical illustrations, ancient texts, historical maps–including the incredible Green Book collection of travel guides for African American travelers in mid-1900s. They’ve also released more than 40,000 stereoscopes, Berenice Abbott’s amazing documentation of New York City in 1930s and Lewis Hines’ photos of Ellis Island immigrants, as well as the letters of Alexander Hamilton, Thomas Jefferson and James Madison, among other political figures.


Links 7/1/2016: Linux Mint 18 Previews, Android-based Remix OS

Posted in News Roundup at 3:23 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish



  • Desktop

    • 10 Places To Buy A Laptop With Linux Preloaded

      I want a Linux system without having to pay a Microsoft tax. The hardest part of using Linux is to find out the correct hardware. Hardware compatibility and drivers can be a big issue. But where one can find Linux desktops or Laptop for sale? Here are ten places to buy a preinstalled Linux Desktop and Laptop in alphabetical order.

  • Server

    • IBM’s Watson Now Powers AI For Under Armour, Softbank’s Pepper Robot And More

      From its debut to the world as a Jeopardy champion in 2011, IBM’s Watson has made a name for itself as a powerful artificial intelligence platform for large enterprise applications, from medical research through to finance. Now IBM is aiming to take Watson to the consumer.

    • Microservices are not the same thing as components

      Mention cloud, mention DevOps and it won’t be long before microservices enters the discussion.

      But what is, or are, microservices? The name implies something small – but what? Is it a part of a bigger thing or a piece of discrete functionality? And how are microservices different to application components? And why should we care?

  • Kernel Space

  • Applications

    • Fotoxx Open-Source Image Editor Gets Its First Release for 2016 with New Features

      Michael Cornelison or Kornelix, the developer of the Fotoxx open source image editor application for GNU/Linux operating systems proudly announced the release of the first Fotoxx version for 2016.

    • 3 open source personal finance tools for Linux

      With the start of the new year, many people take this time to resolve to get a better handle on their personal finances. Whether this means making and sticking to a budget, reducing unnecessary expenses, or simply getting a better understanding of their financial situation, pretty much any approach to person finance is dependent on having a good idea of the numbers inside their bank accounts, where they come, and where they go.

      Which tools allow you to take the best to approach organizing your finances depends a little bit on your situation. Do you primarily make purchases electronically, or do you rely heavily on cash? Is the archiving and organization of receipts going to be important for you come tax time? Do you operate a small business and need a more powerful tool which can manage the more complex finances of sales, customers, employees, and business expenses? Or do you use multiple currencies (perhaps BitCoin?) and want to keep track of those values as well?

    • Longing to bin Photoshop? Rock-solid GIMP a major leap forward

      Despite its relatively obscure version number, GIMP 2.9.2, released recently, represents a major leap forward for the popular image editing suite.

      Like all odd-numbered GIMP releases, 2.9.2 is considered a technical preview, but the features here will form the base of the stable release GIMP 2.10.

      In the mean time, I’ve found 2.9.2 to be very stable, though you will need to compile it yourself in most cases.

    • ownCloud 9 Will Be a Cool Release, Says Frank Karlitschek

      It looks like the ownCloud developers will have a great year in 2016, as the company’s CTO, Mr. Frank Karlitschek, has just announced on his Twitter account that ownCloud 9 is shaping up really nicely and that it will be a cool release.

    • In Search of a Linux Calendar

      When all is said and done, a calendar app is a calendar app is a calendar app. Except for Sunrise’s propensity for sharing secrets with its cloud based parent calendar, there’s not a nickle’s difference between any of these apps; they all do the same thing in basically the same way. I’ve put my affinity for KOrganizer aside for the time being and have settled in with Lightening, mainly because of its tight integration with Thunderbird. Among other thing, that means I won’t have to remember to open it, as it’ll be there automatically as a tab on Thunderbird, so I might even find myself using it.

      I’m not uninstalling KOrganizer however. I might yet change my mind.

    • Instructionals/Technical

    • Games

      • A Quake 2 Game Might Get Ported To Linux

        Berserker@Quake2 has been around since about 2005, but only supported on Windows. Now though the Russian developer behind this game mod has finally published his code in hopes of someone porting it to Linux.

      • PlayStation 4 Linux Hack Now Supports 3D Acceleration, USB Support Coming Soon

        We reported on the last days of 2015 that a group of talented hackers that go by the name of fail0verflow managed to hack Sony’s PlayStation 4 gaming console to run the Gentoo Linux operating system.

        The hack was made possible due to a broken NOP command on the integrated AMD Radeon GPU (Graphics Processing Unit), something that Sony might not be able to fix anytime soon.

      • Feel like fragging? You can do that in your browser with QuakeJS

        Here’s an interesting thing I stumbled upon while I was looking up ioquake3 stuff. QuakeJS is a port of the ioquake3 engine to Javascript and WebGL and it plays original Quake 3 maps.

      • Oculus Rift Pre-Orders Start, But Linux Support Is Still Halted

        Oculus Rift pre-orders opened up this morning for $599 USD and an anticipated ship date of April. However, the Facebook-owned company isn’t yet back to providing Linux support.

        With today’s pre-order launch, I was curious to see whether they would comment on restoring Linux (and OS X) support, but they have not. Oculus suspended Linux and OS X support last year in order to focus on their Windows support with no timeline for when they planned to come back to providing Linux support. However, now that everything is ready to go, they apparently aren’t yet ready to jump back into the VR scene for Linux gamers. There’s also nothing new with regards to Linux via the Oculus developer area.

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK

      • The importance of Keywords for the software center

        So, what do I want you to do? If you have no existing keywords, I would like you to add some keywords in the desktop file or the AppData file. If you want the keywords to be used by GNOME Shell as well (which you probably do), the best place to put any search terms is in the keywords section of the desktop file. This can also be marked as translatable so non-English users can search in their own language. This would look something like Keywords=3D;printer; (remember the trailing semicolon!)

  • Distributions

    • The Linux Setup – Ikey Doherty, Solus

      Ikey is living the dream—he made his own desktop environment. Perhaps even more impressive, he made it for his own distribution! Perhaps most impressive of all, Solus, Ikey’s distribution, is built from scratch, meaning it’s not based upon another distribution. It’s a lot of work, but Ikey doesn’t seem to mind it. Ikey also flags git as his essential tool-of-choice. I’m using git to submit chapters for my book and it’s a pretty amazing piece of software. It’s impacting all kinds of work.

    • New Releases

    • Ballnux/SUSE

      • Another look at NetworkManager and Tumbleweed

        I last looked at NetworkManager when it was at version 1.0.0. It is now at version 1.0.6, and with some changes that persuaded me to do some more testing.

        To test, I setup a connection and then did some tests. I repeated this for KDE/Plasma 5, for Gnome and for XFCE. It is also possible to run “nm-applet” and a polkit daemon in Icewm, where configuring the network is similar to what happens with XFCE (which also uses “nm-applet”).

      • Highlights of development sprint 13

        As promised in the previous post on this blog, we’ll try to keep you updated about what is happening in the YaST world. Before Christmas we finished an specially short sprint, interrupted by another successful Hackweek. Although we always reserve some time for bug fixing, the last two sprints has been quite focused in looking into the future, implementing new solutions for old problems and trying to prepare replacements for some legacy stuff we have been carrying on for too long. Here you are the highlights.

      • Suse Linux Enterprise 12 Service Pack 1 adds full Docker support and extended availability

        Linux firm Suse has released the first service pack for Suse Linux Enterprise 12, adding full Docker support for operating containerised applications and enhanced capabilities to improve uptime and disaster recovery.

        Suse Linux Enterprise 12 is the most recent version of the firm’s Linux distribution for operating mission-critical applications and services, and the Service Pack 1 (SP1) release is the first major update since it shipped in October 2014.

    • Red Hat Family

      • Why Red Hat, Inc. Gained 20% in 2015

        Of course, Red Hat paved the way toward that touchstone moment by building a strong reputation and rising sales over the years.

      • Agree To Buy Red Hat At $65, Earn 8.9% Using Options

        Investors eyeing a purchase of Red Hat Inc (Symbol: RHT) stock, but tentative about paying the going market price of $81.25/share, might benefit from considering selling puts among the alternative strategies at their disposal. One interesting put contract in particular, is the January 2018 put at the $65 strike, which has a bid at the time of this writing of $5.80. Collecting that bid as the premium represents a 8.9% return against the $65 commitment, or a 4.4% annualized rate of return (at Stock Options Channel we call this the YieldBoost ).

      • Red Hat Inc (RHT) Posts Quarterly Earnings Results, Beats Expectations By $0.02 EPS

        Red Hat Inc (NYSE:RHT) posted its earnings results on Thursday. The open-source software company reported $0.48 earnings per share (EPS) for the quarter, topping the Thomson Reuters’ consensus estimate of $0.46 by $0.02, ARN reports. During the same quarter in the previous year, the company earned $0.42 EPS. The firm earned $523.60 million during the quarter, compared to the consensus estimate of $521.66 million. The business’s revenue was up 14.8% compared to the same quarter last year. Red Hat updated its Q4 guidance to $0.47 EPS.

      • Fedora

        • Fedora 24 Will Likely Be Delayed

          While we are not even up to the alpha release yet of Fedora 24, there’s a call to already push back the entire schedule by up to a few weeks.

          The current schedule puts the alpha freeze / software string freeze / change checkpoint on 16 February, Fedora 24 Alpha on 1 March, Fedora 24 Beta on 12 April, and the final release on 17 May. However, a proposal being pushed to the Fedora Engineering and Steering Committee would end up pushing back all of the F24 milestones by a few weeks: up to three or four weeks.

        • It’s Possible To Run Fedora 23 With A Mainline Kernel On A Tegra K1 Chromebook

          While the Tegra X1 is the latest and greatest NVIDIA SoC out there currently, the Tegra K1 is still a beauty and still blows many other ARM boards out of the water. If you happen to have a Tegra K1 Chromebook, it’s possible to get Fedora 23 Linux running on there with a bit of hacking.

          Fedora developer Kushal Das has written a blog post about getting Fedora 23 running on a Tegra K1 Chromebook. The particular Chromebook is the Acer CB5311. With a bit of work and following the Fedora ARM Wiki for Chromebooks, he was able to get the latest version of Fedora Workstation running on the device. He was also able to build a mainline kernel on the Tegra K1 Chromebook itself for getting the wireless support to work.

    • Debian Family

      • 7 Reasons Why Debian is the Dominant Linux Distro

        I first installed Debian sixteen years ago. Since then, I have tried countless other Linux distributions, and even used one or two regularly for several months, but my main distribution has always been Debian, or at least one of its many derivatives.

        Familiarity probably explains some of my preference. However, most of my preference comes from comparing other distributions unfavorably with Debian.

      • In memory of Ian Murdock

        In an entertaining read on his blog Ian recounts how in the winter of 1992 he met Linux

      • Debian Domination, Unstable Fedora, Simple Elementary

        The loss of Ian Murdock is still making the headlines, but not much new has come to light. The police did issue a public statement, but didn’t really say anything new. They acknowledged Murdock’s arrests and subsequent suicide, but claim there is no connection and Murdock’s injuries were self-inflicted. Murdock’s family is still silent and requesting privacy. The Debian project yesterday posted a second memorial (third if you count the mention in last week’s project news) to Murdock, this time remembering his contributions to Linux and the Open Source philosophy.

      • Debian Founder And Open Source Visionary Ian Murdock Dies At 42
      • Debian Project mourns the loss of Ian Murdock

        The Debian Project sadly announces that it has lost the founder of its community and project, Ian Murdock.

        Debian is only a part of Ian’s legacy but perhaps the one that he is most known for.

        Ian was introduced to computers early in his life, and his curiosity turned to familiarity which led him to start actively programming at nine years of age. Later as a young adult at the Krannert School of Management a mandatory programming class rekindled his fascination with computer programming along with an idea and an opportunity to make something better.

        Ian started the Debian Project in August of 1993, releasing the first versions of Debian later that same year. At that time, the whole concept of a “distribution” of Linux was new. Inspired as he said by Linus Torvalds’ own sharing of Linux, he released Debian with the intention that this distribution should be made openly, in the spirit of Linux and GNU.

      • Derivatives

        • Debian-Based DebEX GNOME Linux OS Now Includes MATE 1.12.1 and GNOME 3.18.3

          After announcing the release of a new build for his DebEX KDE GNU/Linux distribution, today, January 6, 2016, Arne Exton informs Softpedia about the immediate availability for download of DebEX GNOME Build 160105.

        • Canonical/Ubuntu

          • Flavours and Variants

            • Linux Mint 18 “Sarah” to Have a New Look and Feel

              The leader of the Linux Mint project, Clement Lefebvre, has confirmed today that the name Linux Mint 18 will be “Sarah.”

              The information that Linux Mint 18 was going to be named “Sarah” was revealed a few months ago by Clement Lefebvre in one of his monthly updates, but he didn’t say anything after that. Now, the Linux Mint leader decided to confirm the name, but he also talked a little about what’s coming in the new version.

              One of the things we knew for sure, since the launch of Linux Mint 17.x, was that all new major versions of the OS were going to be based solely on Ubuntu LTS versions. The switch was made with the 17.x branch, which used Ubuntu 14.04 LTS as a base. It was obvious that Ubuntu 16.04 LTS was going to be the base for Linux Mint 18.x.

            • Linux Mint 18 details revealed — code name, release date, and more!

              When it comes to desktop computing, I love me some Linux. While Ubuntu is my favorite distro of the moment, I use many others from time to time, such as Fedora, deepin, and Linux Mint. My desktop environment preference is Unity or Gnome, but I understand the love for Mint’s Cinnamon or MATE. If you are coming from Windows, and prefer the “Start Menu” approach as an interface, both of those primary Mint DEs will make you comfortable.

            • Upgrade path to 17.3 now open for all editions

              The upgrade path from Linux Mint 17, 17.1 and 17.2 to Linux Mint 17.3 is now open for all editions (Cinnamon, MATE, KDE and Xfce).

            • Linux Mint 18: Powered By Ubuntu 16.04, Coming This Summer
  • Devices/Embedded

Free Software/Open Source

  • 2015 – Year of Open Source explosion

    Open source software – software freely shared with the world at large – is an old idea, dating back to the 1980s when Richard Stillman started preaching the gospel calling it free software. Then Linus Torvalds started working on Linux in the early 1990s. Today, Linux runs our lives. The Android operating system that runs so many Google phones is based on Linux. When you open a phone app like Twitter or Facebook and pull down all those tweets and status updates, you’re tapping into massive computer data centers filled with hundreds of Linux machines. Linux is the foundation of the Internet.

  • Does Open Source Have a Place in DevOps?

    Open source software (OSS) is generally considered to be an integral part of DevOps, and for a couple of good reasons. It has led to the rapid emergence of innovative tools to meet the requirements of those leading the automation charge, and has also made those tools freely available. DevOps practitioners can adopt solutions to try new ideas and approaches without going through the usual investment justification and procurement process, or even seeking management permission.

  • From emergency fix to business backbone

    The words I hear some clients ask when they first see my Linux set up is: “Is it that unix thing?.” If they know it well-enough to ask that question, I’m usually on the verge of going full geek mode.

    Before I impart words of wonder and inspiration, I think about how awesome it will be to open this person’s eyes to the world of possibilities outside proprietary software, and how excited they will be to discover how Linux and open source software are the foundation of the World Wide Web as they know it. As it turns out, its really difficult to sum up why open source is so great in a single sentence.


    Giving back to the open source community is such an important part of what makes open source software amazing and so powerful. Each year we strive to improve our efforts in this area.

  • Mycroft Releases Key AI Component as Open Source

    The Mycroft team has released the Adapt Intent Parser as open source, which is a piece of code that converts natural language into instructions that can be understood by a machine.

    Why is this parser so important? There are at least a couple of reasons why Mycroft chose to release this important piece of code as open source. To make it clearer, the Adapt Intent Parser transforms what the user speaks into something that can be interpreted by an application on a device, like a phone or a desktop.

  • Hour of Code Volunteer: Kids See No Barriers to Open Source Coding

    In December, the Linux Foundation joined many organizations in support of Hour of Code (HoC). This program, which is sponsored by Code.org, provides children with a one-hour introduction to computer science using tutorials designed to explain code in a simple way and show that anyone can be involved. The program offers tools that both teachers and volunteers can use to present basic coding ideas to children. This year’s tutorials aimed to engage young coders using examples from Minecraft and Star Wars, and also featured Anna and Elsa from Frozen.

  • Greenpeace makes 7 shifts toward open

    If you’ve been following Opensource.com and the Open Organization Ambassadors there, then you’ll know that I’ve been working to help Greenpeace internalize the principles of an open ethos. But to do this, we’ve had to distill this ethos into a few concrete principles, actionable items the organization can more easily grasp. On its journey to becoming an open organization, Greenpeace has set seven cultural “waypoints,” some guideposts for its transition to an open organization. In this article, I’d like to explain them.

  • Social Justice Warriors Wreaking Havoc In Open Source Software

    Throughout 2015, social justice warriors were repelled on a number of fronts. Gaming. Sci-fi & fantasy writing. Reddit. One fight that hasn’t been covered yet — but which definitely should be — is the world of open source software development.

  • Two kinds of kernel bugs

    As I am sure many of you are aware, bugzilla generates a lot of email. While the web interface does have some interesting search capability, email is the main method of getting notified of new bugs. The better those initial emails (your bug reports) are worded, the more likely we can have a real understanding of the nature or priority of that bug.

  • NORDUnet announces CrypTech open source web security

    Scandinavian research network NORDUnet has announced the development of CrypTech to improve internet security. It said software developers and electronics designers from around the world are uniting their efforts in the CrypTech project, building open source hardware securing the authenticity of digital content transmitted through the internet. The project allows a maximum donation per donor of USD 100,000 per year to ensure diversity of influence.

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • Mozilla hastily backpedals on SHA-1 ban after impact larger than thought

        The impact of Mozilla’s decision to depreciate SHA-1 at the start of 2016 with the release of Firefox 43 turned out to be larger than it anticipated. As a result, Mozilla hastily released an update on Wednesday that re-enabled support for SHA-1 certificates as it seeks to better evaluate how many users might be affected.

        Firefox 43 was supposed to ratchet up security for its users as part of Mozilla’s roadmap by dropping support only for new SHA-1 certificates, while continuing to support older SHA-1. The rationale behind this move was to present a clear disincentive for certificate providers to move away from SHA-1 without penalizing – as yet – existing SHA-1 certificates that are already in use.

      • Firefox’s ban of SHA-1 certs causing some security issues, Mozilla warns

        Mozilla has warned Firefox users that its decision to reject SHA-1 certificates has caused an unfortunate side effect: some man-in-the-middle devices, such as security scanners and antivirus products, are failing to connect to HTTPS sites.

        The browser maker advised any netizens affected by the interference to install the latest version of Firefox, which reinstates support for SHA-1.

      • Firefox 43.0.4 Fixes Folder Creation on Linux and Brings Back SHA-1

        Mozilla has released a new version of Firefox, 43.0.4, which is just a maintenance release that happens to have an important fix for the Linux platform.

      • Mozilla: 40 Percent of Firefox Users Don’t Have Add-Ons Installed

        According to an internal analysis, Mozilla staff estimates, based on anonymous telemetry data, that around 40% of its userbase does not have add-ons installed on their browser.

  • SaaS/Big Data

    • ProphetStor Leverages Mellanox Tech for Next-Gen Cloud Computing

      Today ProphetStor Data Services rolled out a reference cloud computing platform with Mellanox based on the open-source projects OpenStack and Ceph. The solution leverages each company’s respective strength in software-defined-storage, state-of-the-art server hardware, and high-speed networking. Based on ProphetStor Federator SDS, this joint project addresses the key issues of OpenStack’s storage management solution as well as improving the functionality and performance of Ceph, the de facto storage backend for OpenStack.

  • Databases

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice

    • LibreOffice 5.1 Arrives in February with Awesome New Features, Here’s What’s New

      The Document Foundation non-profit organization teased users on Twitter about the upcoming features of the LibreOffice 5.1 open-source office suite, due for release in the first week of February 2016.

    • LibreOffice Bug Hunt Organized for Major 5.1 Update

      The LibreOffice community is preparing for the launch of the first major update for LibreOffice 5.x, and they are organizing a bug hunt.

      The LibreOffice bug hunts are done before the launch of each big update for the office suite. They are a sort of development sprint which allows devs to concentrate on the biggest problems or to fix some of the easy-to-identify issues.

  • CMS

    • WordPress 4.4.1 Updates for XSS (and 52 other issues)

      The first WordPress update of 2016 is out and like many other incremental updates, it is being triggered by a security vulnerability. The single security issue being patched in WordPress 4.4.1 is a cross site scripting vulnerability that could have potentially enabled a site compromised.

      From a general usability and bug perspective there are 52 bugs that WordPress developers are addressing in the 4.4.1 update that spans multiple area of the popular open-source content management system including.

  • Pseudo-/Semi-Open Source (Openwashing)

  • Funding

  • BSD

    • FreeBSD Foundation Takes Right Steps

      First things first: I’m the new kid on the BSD block. While in the process of still figuring things out on PC-BSD — dang that Synaptics! — and finding a place to contribute in the community, I have no real handle on the nuances of the inner workings of the wider BSD community. To my self-promoting credit, I am a quick study and the learning curve is not as difficult as I imagined. On the whole, I like what I see in those contributing to BSD, especially in the way of eagerness to help new users.

      However, when Randi Harper decided to bail on participation in FreeBSD as she outlined in her blog, it raises the question, “Where have we seen this before?” Taking a step back, it raises the question, “Why does this keep happening in FOSS communities?”

      Before we begin to answer those questions — and answers to those questions extend far beyond this commentary — I’m less interested in the “he said, she said” of the past than in finding workable solutions to permanently removing the 500-pound gorilla in the room — the quarter-ton simian of harassment and lack of proper channels to adequately address it.

    • LLVM 3.7.1 Released, Restores API/ABI Compatibility With LLVM 3.6/3.8

  • Public Services/Government

  • Licensing

  • Openness/Sharing

    • Open Access/Content

      • Textbook of the future: Free, open, remixable

        Recently the Office of Educational Technology of the United States Department of Education stated that it believes “creating an open education ecosystem involves making learning materials, data, and educational opportunities available without restrictions imposed by copyright laws, access barriers, or exclusive proprietary systems that lack interoperability and limit the free exchange of information.” What’s more, according to the FCC, “the U.S. spends more than $7 billion per year on K-12 textbooks, but too many students are still using books that are 7-10 years old, with outdated material.”

    • Open Hardware

      • Richard Sapper, Designer Of IBM ThinkPad, Has Died

        Richard Sapper passed away at the age of 83 on New Year’s eve. While this German-born Italy-based industrial designer created a variety of products ranging from household goods to cars, he was best known for designing the first IBM ThinkPad in 1992. He served IBM as the chief design consultant for many years.

      • Open-Source Firmware for a Mini Quadrotor

        The Eachine H8 is a typical-looking mini-quadcopter of the kind that sell for under $20. Inside, the whole show is powered by an ARM Cortex-M3 processor, with the programming pins easily visible. Who could resist? [garagedrone] takes you through a step-by-step guide to re-flashing the device with a custom firmware to enable acrobatics, or simply to tweak the throttle-to-engine-speed mapping for the quad. We had no idea folks were doing this.


  • Wall Street thinks Twitter’s 10,000 character plan is ‘desperate’ and so do you

    Good news, Twitter: you’ve finally accomplished the impossible, getting Wall Street and your user base to agree about something.

    Bad news: they both agree you’re acting desperate.

    Twitter is reportedly planning to move beyond the 140 character limit that has defined the social network for nearly a decade as part of a continued effort to re-think its fundamentals and reverse its flailing user numbers. The move was first reported by Re/code on Tuesday and seemingly confirmed later by cryptic (and lengthy) comments by CEO Jack Dorsey.

  • Apple’s Wi-Fi Assist feature blamed for teen’s $2,000 phone bill

    Ashton Finegold didn’t think much of the text message he received from his mobile phone service saying that he was nearing his data limit.

    But the San Francisco teen was shocked when he received a phone bill totaling $2,021.07.

    “I thought my dad was going to kill me,” he told CBS News.

    “It’s usually $250 a month — and this was over $2,000,” the teen’s father, Jeff Finegold, said.

    The outrageous overcharge was due to “Wi-Fi Assist,” a new feature on Apple’s IOS 9 operating system. Wi-Fi Assist automatically switches the phone to draw on cellular service when a user is in an area with a weak Wi-Fi signal.

  • Does Donald Trump Think Paris Is In Germany?

    Presidential hopeful Donald Trump seemingly flunked geography if his latest Twitter gaffe is anything to go by.

    The Republican candidate for the top job was reacting to the news that a man wearing a fake suicide belt was shot dead in Paris while running towards a police station.

    But his rant seemed to mistake the capital of France for another country altogether.

  • Hardware

    • ​CES 2016: Fasetto Link, 2 TB NAS in the palm of your hand

      We all know that there are a lot of silly gadgets at CES. Sometimes, though, we stumble over a small company with a big idea. That was the case with me with Fasetto and its tiny, 48 by 23 millimeter Network Attached Storage (NAS) device, Link.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • This Controversial Pesticide Is Harming Honeybees

      The Environmental Protection Agency has finally begun to answer a major question on honeybee health.

      This week, the EPA released its first findings on neonicotinoids, a widely-used class of pesticides that many think play a role in the staggering honeybee losses over the last few years. The agency examined imidacloprid — one of four neonic pesticides that the EPA plans to assess, and the most commonly-used neonicotinoid in the United States — and found that it is harmful to bees when applied to certain crops, like cotton or citrus, but not when applied to others, like corn and berries.

      That’s because, the assessment found, the main thing that mattered when determining whether or not the pesticide would harm bees was the concentration of the pesticide in the nectar the bees brought back to their hives. If bees returned to their hives with nectar that contained more than 25 parts per billion (ppb) of imidacloprid, it negatively impacted the hive — meaning, as the AP reports, fewer bees and less honey. But if the concentration was less than 25 ppb, the bees fared OK. Some crops contained nectar with higher concentrations than others — while others produce no nectar at all — which explains the difference in danger from crop to crop.

    • Toxic chemical discovered in San Francisco’s fog

      Scientists who studied the fog along the coast of California found that it deposits a neurotoxin called monomethyl mercury — at a concentration about 20 times that of rain — as it sweeps across the city.

      The scientists said the finding reveals a new pathway to land of a compound that comes largely from burning coal and other fossil fuels.

  • Security

    • Twitter Community Helps Create Improved Linux Encoder Ransomware

      November 2015 saw the emergence of Linux.Encoder.1, the first piece of ransomware to target vulnerable Linux web servers. A programming flaw allowed Bitdefender researchers to obtain the decryption key and provide victims with a free recovery utility.

    • Plain cruelty: Boffins flay Linux ransomware for the third time

      Probably the world’s most tragically determined blackhat developers have had their revitalised Linux.Encoder ransomware pwned again by meddling BitDefender whitehats.

      The third iteration of the Linux.Encoder ransomware was unleashed on the world, infecting a paltry 600 servers before a crack team of security analysts returned to rip it apart.

    • Windows and Linux Malware Linked to Chinese DDoS Tool

      Similar-looking malware targeting both Linux and Windows computers has been linked to a DDoSing toolkit sold by Chinese hackers via the ddos[.]tf service, Malware Must Die! reports.

      The malware, codenamed Linux/DDOSTF (or Linux/MrBlack) targets mainly Linux machines running Elasticsearch servers, but it also attacks and infects Windows systems, particularly older Windows XP and Windows 2003 Server instances.

    • Exploiting Silent Circle’s Secure Blackphone

      The highly secure device could have been exploited, were it not for the responsible disclosure by a security researcher.

      Any modern device is made up of multiple hardware and software components, any one of which could represent a potential risk. That’s a reality that secure mobile phone vendor Silent Circle has learned with its Blackphone, thanks to the responsible security disclosure from Tim Strazzere, director of mobile research at SentinelOne.

    • Severe Silent Circle Blackphone vulnerability lets hackers take over

      Researchers have revealed a severe vulnerability in Silent Circle’s Blackphone which could allow attackers to take control of the device’s functions.

      Silent Circle’s Blackphone, born after former US National Security Agency (NSA) contractor Edward Snowden exposed the intelligence agency’s spying practices on the global stage, is a phone peddled to the privacy-conscious. The Blackphone grants users complete control of app permissions and includes encrypted services such as Silent Phone and Silent Text, designed to prevent surveillance and eavesdropping.

      The device runs on PrivatOS, a custom Android build with a set of security-focused tools.

    • Security Notification and Linode Manager Password Reset

      The entire Linode team has been working around the clock to address both this issue and the ongoing DDoS attacks. We’ve retained a well-known third-party security firm to aid in our investigation. Multiple Federal law enforcement authorities are also investigating and have cases open for both issues. When the thorough investigation is complete, we will share an update on the findings.

    • How Hackers Invaded 30 Million Web Servers On The Internet With A Poem

      From an IP address associated with 32nd Chaos Communication Congress (32c3) taking place in Germany, some unknown hackers sent a poetic message to all the IPv4 addresses on the Internet who left with their web servers port open. Later, the hackers said that they didn’t mean to harm anybody and wished to remind the people the importance of keeping the Internet open and decentralised.

  • Defence/Police/Secrecy/Aggression

    • Politicians Use North Korea H-Bomb Fears to Pitch Wasteful Missile Defense Projects

      Republican politicians responded almost reflexively to the North Korean nuclear test on Tuesday by demanding more spending on missile defense programs that have historically proved ineffective at preventing an enemy strike — but are built by companies that have lavished policymakers with campaign cash and political support.

      Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., released a statement calling for the country to “reinvest in missile defense and our military presence in the Pacific.” Mike Rogers, R-Ala., called for Obama to “dramatically enhance trilateral missile defense” and declared that Obama should deploy a Lockheed Martin missile defense system in South Korea. Raytheon and Lockheed Martin are among his top donors. Rep. Mac Thornberry, R-Tex., issued a statement specifically calling for spending on that same program; Lockheed Martin is by far his biggest donor over the course of his congressional career.

      Since the early 1990s, politicians of both parties have cited the threat of North Korea to demand funding for an array of missile defense programs that quickly became monumental examples of government waste. Meanwhile, the contractors involved in these projects, including Lockheed Martin, Boeing, and Raytheon, among others, have manipulated the politics around these programs by funding politicians, pundits, think tanks, and lobbyists behind the never-ending spiral of taxpayer spending.

    • Why North Korea’s Nuclear Test Isn’t Business as Usual

      There’s still plenty of doubt about whether North Korea did in fact detonate a sophisticated hydrogen bomb on Wednesday local time, or if the explosion that triggered a 5.1-magnitude earthquake was a nuclear test more akin to previous ones in 2006, 2009, and 2013. Even as the UN Security Council held an emergency session on Wednesday, the White House said initial US findings were “not consistent with North Korean claims of a successful hydrogen bomb test”—something that would have represented a major ramp-up in North Korea’s nuclear capabilities.

      But this test was not business as usual for North Korea in one important way, believes Charles K. Armstrong, a leading expert in Korean history and politics at Columbia University: “It’s not clear that they are really interested in using this as a negotiating tactic.”

    • South Korea says it will resume anti-North broadcasts

      South Korea on Thursday said it will resume cross-border propaganda broadcasts, after its northern neighbor claimed it successfully tested its first hydrogen bomb.

      Seoul said the broadcasts, which North Korea considers an act of war, will begin Friday.

      Cho Tae-yong, deputy chief of South Korea’s presidential office of national security, told reporters that the test is a “grave violation” of a deal reached between the two neighbors in August to defuse tensions after a landmine at the border injured two of the South’s soldiers.

    • FBI Turns 18-Year-Old With An IQ Of 51 Into A Terrorist; Dumps Case Into Laps Of Local Prosecutors

      County Judge Alan Furr set Pruitt’s bail at $1 million and refused to lower it, despite evidence surfacing that the young man is developmentally-disabled (IQ estimated at 52-58, last tested at 51) and the total amount of “support” was “less than $1,000″ — a Class C felony, which normally results in much lower bail amounts. (The guidelines in the state’s criminal procedure rules suggest a $5,000-$15,000 range, although judges are free to depart from this recommendation.)

      Judge Alan Furr must not like alleged terrorist sympathizers. Two accused murderers and a teacher charged with sexual misconduct involving a student who previously faced Judge Furr combined for less than half the amount set for Pruitt ($450,000).

    • Ruqia Hassan Mohammed: The activist and citizen journalist that Isis murdered – and then posed as for three months on social media to entrap other opponents

      Isis jihadists hijacked the Facebook account of a captured female activist in Raqqa in a bid to lure other opponents into a trap, according to a member of Syria’s most prominent anti-Isis resistance group.

      It has emerged that Ruqia Hassan Mohammed, a vocal Isis opponent with a dry sense of humour, was killed by the jihadists three months ago in punishment for her outspoken social media posts. But they continued to operate her social media accounts until very recently.

    • Saudi Arabia funds and exports Islamic extremism: The truth behind the toxic U.S. relationship with the theocratic monarchy

      “Everybody’s worried about stopping terrorism. Well, there’s a really easy way: stop participating in it.” So advised world-renowned public intellectual Noam Chomsky, one of the most cited thinkers in human history.

      The counsel may sound simple and intuitive — that’s because it is. But when it comes to Saudi Arabia, the U.S. ignores it.

      Saudi Arabia is the world’s leading sponsor of Islamic extremism. It is also a close U.S. ally. This contradiction, although responsible for a lot of human suffering, is frequently ignored. Yet it recently plunged back into the limelight with the Saudi monarchy’s largest mass execution in decades.

    • Why Experts Doubt That North Korea Tested a Hydrogen Bomb

      North Korea claimed on Wednesday that it had tested a hydrogen bomb, the most powerful kind of nuclear weapon. Related Article

      But the yield, or total energy released by the weapon, was close to that of North Korea’s previous three tests of atomic bombs, which are simpler.

      It is possible that North Korea tested a boosted atomic bomb, a weapon whose destructive power is increased by injecting tritium, a radioactive form of hydrogen. This would be an advance in the country’s nuclear capabilities.

      But a boosted atomic bomb has nowhere near the destructive power of a hydrogen bomb, and it is not considered a thermonuclear weapon. Here is the energy released by two large hydrogen bombs.

    • The single most important fact for understanding North Korea

      North Korea: There is probably no other country on Earth that draws such obsessive fascination from Americans yet is so widely misunderstood.

      You can see it in the (many) portrayals of North Korea in American popular culture. The country and its leader, Kim Jong Un, are almost always presented either as comically ridiculous cartoon villains or as certifiably insane. But neither really makes sense: Cartoon villains and crazy people don’t hold on to power for decades while ruling over a broken economy, a miserable population, and a weak military surrounded by enemies.

      The North Korean system and leadership, as popularly portrayed, would seem to be impossible and doomed. But clearly it’s survived for some time. So what’s going on?


      That fact is this: While we typically talk about North Korea as a holdover of Soviet-style hard-line communism, and sometimes we indulge North Korea’s own propaganda that claims it follows a bizarre and unique ideology known as “juche,” neither of those is really correct. In fact, the country is best understood as a holdover of 1930s-style Japanese fascism, left over from Japan’s early colonization of the peninsula.

    • One Map That Explains the Dangerous Saudi-Iranian Conflict

      The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia executed Shiite Muslim cleric Nimr al-Nimr on Saturday. Hours later, Iranian protestors set fire to the Saudi embassy in Tehran. On Sunday, the Saudi government, which considers itself the guardian of Sunni Islam, cut diplomatic ties with Iran, which is a Shiite Muslim theocracy.

      To explain what’s going on, the New York Times provided a primer on the difference between Sunni and Shiite Islam, informing us that “a schism emerged after the death of the Prophet Muhammad in 632” — i.e., 1,383 years ago.

    • Ending the Gun Lobby’s Con Game

      The apologists for the weapons industry—they pass themselves off as the gun rights movement—demonstrate their intellectual bankruptcy by regularly contradicting themselves with a straight face.

    • Knife-wielding man shot dead at Paris police station

      A man wielding a knife and wearing a purportedly fake explosives vest was shot dead by officers Thursday at a police station in Paris on the one year anniversary of the terror attack on the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo, French officials said.

      Luc Poignant, a police union official, said the man cried out “Allahu Akbar” or ‘God is great’ in Arabic, as he tried to enter the station in the 18th arrondissement in northern Paris. the Associated Press reported.

      The attack occurred only minutes after French President Francois Hollande, speaking at police quarters in another district, had paid homage to police officers killed in the line of duty, including three police shot to death last January during the Charlie Hebdo attack.

    • Meat cleaver-wielding man shot dead after trying to attack Paris police station
    • Charlie Hebdo anniversary: Paris police shoot man dead

      French officials say the man shouted “Allahu Akbar!” (God is Great) outside a police station in Goutte d’Or, near Montmartre, where police shot and killed him.

    • Kosovo: NATO’s Success Story?

      The argument is entirely fallacious. One obvious difference between the NATO bombing of Kosovo in 1999 and the British bombing of Syria today is the contrast in their stated aims. NATO were ostensibly bombing Yugoslavia to achieve a limited goal – the secession of Kosovo. In Syria today, however, the ostensible aim of airstrikes against ISIS is the destruction of ISIS. In other words, whilst the first aimed to force a concession from the force it was targeting; the other apparently aims at the total elimination of its target. Whilst enough punishment might persuade someone to concede a demand, it will not persuade anyone to agree to their own eradication. There is, thus, no parallel in the logic behind the two campaigns, and anyone trying to draw one is being entirely disingenuous.

    • Why Is David Brooks So Very Afraid?

      The conservative columnist and the whole GOP field can’t stop wildly exaggerating the threat of terrorism.

      For 21st century conservatives, “fear” is not an authentic feeling of actual concern for your safety, but an ideological pose struck to justify the darker, more sadistic urges that motivate the Republican base.

      In our day and age, declaring you want war for the pleasure of conquest or that you support racist policies out of unvarnished bigotry is socially unacceptable. So fear is donned as a costume to conceal the hate. The shivering coward is a more sympathetic figure than the snarling bigot, and so no matter how laughably implausible their posture of fear is, conservatives will strike it.

    • Academic activism against the Arms Fair

      Every two years, DSEi sets up shop at London’s ExCel centre, not just tolerated but also explicitly welcomed by the British government, who provide the event with both financial and personal support. This September, 32,000 arms dealers descended on East London for what TripAdvisor reviewer Ian W, giving a mark of 4 out of 5, describes as the ‘Largest display of Big Boys Toys around!’. Defence Secretary Michael Fallon rather more soberly described DSEi as ‘a truly global event… [one that] ensure[s] that the nations represented here can continue to prosper’.

    • Ghost Squad Hackers Hack Ethiopian Websites In Response To Killing Of Protesting Students

      Ghost Squad Hackers group has taken down multiple .gov websites in Ethiopia. The collective has blamed the government for killing “students for opposing the ‘master plan’ to expand the main city Addis Ababa”. Talking to fossBytes, the group has said, “we need the government to stop this madness or we will hack more sites.”

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife

    • In pictures: Snow in Scotland through the years

      With snow forecast for parts of Scotland tonight, we take a look back at the country’s bigger snowfalls over the years

      There are plenty of jokes made about Scotland and snow, given the country’s reputation as a cold place. But there are also some quite astonishing facts.

    • Police Scotland have issued a warning to Perthshire residents to only travel if it’s essential, as another amber weather warning hits the big county

      Police have advised Perthshire residents in flood affected areas to only travel if it’s absolutely essential, as the area prepares for another period of adverse weather.

      Heavy rain is forecast to fall until around 8am on Friday January 8, with temperatures expected to drop in the next few days.

    • A single gas well leak is California’s biggest contributor to climate change

      The single biggest contributor to climate change in California is a blown-out natural gas well more than 8,700ft underground, state authorities and campaign groups said Monday.

      The broken well at the Aliso Canyon natural gas storage site has released more than 77,000 metric tons of the powerful climate pollutant methane since the rupture was first detected on 23 October, according to a counter created by the Environmental Defense Fund.

    • Dear Gov. Snyder: You Have to Go to Jail

      Thanks to you, sir, and the premeditated actions of your administrators, you have effectively poisoned, not just some, but apparently ALL of the children in my hometown of Flint, Michigan.

      And for that, you have to go to jail.

      To poison all the children in an historic American city is no small feat. Even international terrorist organizations haven’t figured out yet how to do something on a magnitude like this.

    • Snyder may request federal aid for Flint water crisis

      Gov. Rick Snyder on Tuesday declared a state of emergency in Flint because of its contaminated drinking water, setting the stage for a possible request for federal assistance in the city’s crisis.

      Snyder’s declaration makes available all state resources in cooperation with local response and recovery operations and authorizes the Michigan State Police, Emergency Management and Homeland Security Division to coordinate the state’s efforts.

    • Oklahoma Fracking Company Defies Plan To Reduce Earthquakes

      Wastewater is an issue across the industry. During fracking, chemical-laced water is injected at high pressure into the ground, allowing pockets of trapped oil and gas to loosen and be captured. The process creates a huge amount of wastewater, which cannot be reused due to the chemical content and contamination from elements in the ground, often including oil itself. It is possible to truck the water to treatment plants, but it is more expensive.

      The SandRidge case could spark the first real test of the earthquake-fracking connection. Another case, in which a homeowner is suing another natural gas company for injuries she sustained in an earthquake, has not yet been heard.

      Some say that finding the companies at fault for damages would be devastating for Oklahoma’s fracking industry, but the industry’s official position is that it supports the commission’s attempts to protect the public.

    • TransCanada Announces It Will Sue U.S. Over Keystone XL Denial

      TransCanada, the company behind the Keystone XL pipeline, announced Wednesday it is filing a claim under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), saying that the project’s permit denial was “arbitrary and unjustified.” TransCanada is seeking $15 billion in costs and damages due to the denial, and has also filed a separate lawsuit against the U.S. in federal court.

      Under NAFTA, companies can sue governments that put investments at risk through regulation. If it proceeds, the case will go in front of an international tribunal. (A U.S. company sued Montreal in 2013 over a fracking ban, using the same rationale). The tribunal cannot overturn the permit denial, but it can force payment of damages.

  • Finance

    • 10 More Reasons Wall Street Will Hate Bernie Sanders

      Some of Sanders’ suggestions: Break up banks. Tax speculators. Cap interest rates.

      Bernie Sanders has declared war on the biggest players in Wall Street’s financial sector. He says they are overrun with “greed, fraud, dishonesty and arrogance,” and criticizes his top rival for the Democratic nomination, Hillary Clinton, as being naïve about what needs to happen to create a financial system that “works for all Americans.”

      On Tuesday, he upped the ante. “To those on Wall Street who may be listening today, let me be very clear,” Sanders said in a midtown Manhattan speech. “Greed is not good. In fact, the greed of Wall Street and corporate America is destroying the fabric of our nation. And here is a New Year’s resolution that I will keep if elected president: If you do not end your greed, we will end it for you.”

      Sanders laid out a 10-point program to deeply change the nature of the financial sector, while occasionally digressing to emphasize how much more sweeping his proposals are compared to Clinton’s. As always, he started by recounting how the “20 richest people own more wealth than the bottom 150 million Americans”—and said the finance industry has spent “billions” to get Congress and federal agencies to deregulate almost all areas of the financial industry while weakening consumer protection laws.

    • Bernie Sanders Attacks Hillary Clinton’s Refusal to Take On Wall Street

      In a fiery speech detailing his plan to break up “too big to fail” banks, Sen. Bernie Sanders issued his sharpest criticism of Hillary Clinton yet, pointing to the large fees she has collected giving speeches to a financial industry she is conspicuously reluctant to regulate.

      “My opponent says that as a senator, she told bankers to ‘cut it out’ and end their destructive behavior,” Sanders said of Clinton. “But, in my view, establishment politicians are the ones who need to cut it out. The reality is that Congress doesn’t regulate Wall Street. Wall Street and their lobbyists regulate Congress. We must change that reality, and as president, I will.”

    • Bernie Sanders Attacks Hillary Clinton Over Regulating Wall Street

      Mr. Sanders said that Mrs. Clinton was “wrong” to oppose his plan to reinstitute the Glass-Steagall Act, which would legally separate commercial banking, investment banking and insurances services. And the senator implicitly criticized Mrs. Clinton for being a patron of bankers when he pointed to their huge campaign donations and noted that they “provide very generous speaking fees to those who go before them.”

    • Sen. Elizabeth Warren Cheers Bernie’s Fight to “Hold Big Banks Accountable”

      Sen. Bernie Sanders got a shout-out from big bank critic Sen. Elizabeth Warren on Wednesday a day after the presidential hopeful gave a policy speech laying out his tough on Wall Street stance.

    • Ex-Obama Aide Known As “Hedge Funds’ Secret Weapon” Assails Bernie Sanders’ Wall Street Overhaul

      But Goolsbee is hardly an unbiased observer. Since leaving government, he’s become a valuable tool for Wall Street.

      Here are some of his tweets:

      Goolsbee is now a partner at 32 Advisors, a financial strategy and government relations firm that works with Wall Street. He touts, on his company’s website, a 2014 CNBC profile where he was dubbed “hedge funds’ secret weapon.”

    • George Osborne warns of ‘dangerous cocktail’ of economic risks

      George Osborne has re-found his gloomy boots. After a relatively positive Autumn Statement, in which the Chancellor said that the UK was “growing fast”, Mr Osborne will today lay out a litany of risks the UK economy faces over the next 12 months.

      And a Happy New Year to you all, you can almost hear him saying.

      Tensions in the Middle East, slowing growth in China, low prices for commodities such as oil and copper are all weighing on global confidence, he will say in a speech.

    • Iceland Has Jailed 29 Bankers. Why Can’t the UK and US Do the Same?

      Just before Christmas, the former CEO of Iceland’s Glitnir bank and two other senior bankers were sentenced to jail terms of up to five years for market manipulation and breach of fiduciary duties. This brings the total number of senior Icelandic bankers so far sentenced for crimes in the run-up to the 2008 banking crash to 29.

      By contrast not a single senior banking executive in the US or the UK has been jailed for their role in the financial crisis. Whilst banks – such as the five found to be rigging the Libor rate – have been hit with substantial fines, the individual bankers behind the fraud, market rigging and irresponsible lending that led to the economic meltdown have all avoided time behind bars.

      On top of this came news last week that Britain’s financial watchdog, the Financial Conduct Authority, has shelved a planned inquiry into the culture of banking. Whilst this inquiry was never going to hold the guilty to account, it was hoped that it might at least provide a level of transparency and analysis to help shape more rigorous future regulation.

    • [Older] Three Icelandic Bankers to Prison

      Former CEO of Glitnir bank Lárus Welding was sentenced yesterday to five years in prison for breach of trust in the so-called Stím Case, RÚV reports.

      Jóhannes Baldursson, former director of capital markets at Glitnir, received a two-year prison sentence, and Þorvaldur Lúðvík Sigurjónsson, former head of Saga Capital, was sentenced to 18 months in prison, both for breach of trust. The sentences were announced in the Reykjavík District Court. The defendants are also to pay defense costs.

    • Detroit Public Schools Face Bankruptcy: ‘We’re Running Out Of Money In April’

      A little over a year after the city emerged from the largest municipal bankruptcy in American history, Detroit’s public schools are still so mired in debt that they are redirecting nearly half of the money they get for students toward paying back creditors.

      And unless something changes soon, even that radical redistribution of cash won’t be enough to save the Motor City’s schools from going broke by the time the class of 2016 graduates.

      In February, the school system must begin paying $26 million per month to service over $260 million in loans taken out to keep schools open over the the past few years. That’s a giant jump from the roughly $15 million in monthly debt payments the district faced last year, according to the Detroit News. It also only covers a sliver of the system’s total debts: $1.5 billion or more that would become Michigan’s responsibility if the school district goes bankrupt.

    • Why Bernie Sanders Deserves More Attention Than Hillary Clinton

      Have the media stopped feeling “the Bern”? Or has the Democratic Party, which should probably be renamed the Clintoncratic National Committee, extinguished the fire?

      It’s both.

      Sen. Bernie Sanders deserves far more attention than he’s getting. The 74-year-old frowzy-haired Democratic Socialist from Brooklyn by way of Vermont raised $33 million in the fourth quarter of 2015. That’s just $4 million less than Hillary Clinton.

      People vote with dollars, as any tearful hater of money in politics will tell you. When it comes to Sanders, lots of folks throw in small amounts of cash. So when he raises $33 million in three months, it means a lot of people care.

      Beyond the fundraising, poll numbers in early primary states justify a much brighter spotlight on Sanders than the media shine.

    • Poor People Really Get Screwed By Ben Carson’s Tax Plan

      There’s still no reason to care about this since Carson is obviously doomed to return to the book promotion racket at this point. Still, just for the record, I figure this deserves a chart to memorialize it for posterity. So here it is.

    • Carl Icahn’s Utterly Dishonest Case for Big Corporations Not to Pay Taxes They Owe

      Corporate predator Icahn is crying poverty for poor superrich chieftains of profiteering giants.

      Carl Icahn, noted corporate predator and takeover specialist who made billions of dollars in corporate deals, has recently begun pushing a charitable cause involving a group of people who, through no fault of their own, are being forced out of America. Syrian migrants who’ve lost everything, you ask? Or maybe Central American children fleeing the horrors of drug wars? Nope, none of those foreign sob stories for Icahn. Rather, he weeps for the incomprehensible suffering of a small tribe of Americans, namely: the CEOs of several U.S.-based multinational corporations.

      You see, Carl is fronting for CEOs of a small group of huge multinational conglomerates who are demanding that Congress drastically slash the taxes they owe on foreign sales of their products. This “reform” would let them escape paying most of the $600 billion in taxes that U.S. law assesses on some $2.6 trillion in profits they’ve been hiding in foreign bank accounts and offshore tax havens. Three-fourths of these hidden profits belong to only 50 enormously profitable corporations.

    • George Osborne warns mortgage holders: Be prepared for interest rates rise this year

      George Osborne has hinted that interest rates could soon rise and warned that the UK must be prepared for the prospect of the first increase since 2007.

    • Why George Osborne is wrong about household debt

      This morning George Osborne, amidst warnings about the ‘dangerous cocktail’ of threats faced by the British economy, claimed this is ‘not a debt fuelled recovery’ and ‘overall levels of household debt have fallen in our country over the last five years’.

      This is not true. A number of reports point to increases in the UK household debt burden over recent years, from the Centre for Social Justice’s report which outlines the ‘growing issues of problem debt’ to the Money Charity’s December 2015 Debt Statistics, which claimed that ‘people in the UK owed £1.456 trillion at the end of October 2015… up from £1.42 trillion at the end of October 2014 – an extra £706.71 per UK adult’.

      The Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) predicts that these increases will continue over the current parliament, and by 2020 household debt is set to have risen to 167% of household income.

  • PR/AstroTurf/Lobbying

    • Trump Amazes WaPo Columnist by Drawing 60% Fewer People Than Sanders

      The headline of Cillizza’s Sanders crowd piece is: “20,000 People Came to See Bernie Sanders in Boston. Why Aren’t We Talking More About It?” That’s a good question. Like, why aren’t we talking about it when we’re getting excited three months later about Trump drawing 60 percent fewer people?

      I guess the answer to that is implicit in a piece Cillizza posted a little more than a week later (10/14/15), headlined “Why Bernie Sanders Isn’t Going to Be President, in Five Words.” The five words, if you’re wondering, are “I am a democratic socialist.” And that makes you ineligible to be president, in Cillizza’s view, since only 3 in 10 people say they have a favorable opinion of socialism and 61 percent express an unfavorable opinion of it.

      As it happens, those were almost exactly the favorable/unfavorable numbers for the Republican Party the last time CBS polled about it (10/4-8/15)—32 percent favorable, 59 percent unfavorable—but nobody says that means it’s impossible for a Republican to be elected president.

      The beyond-the-pale status of “socialism” does mean, however, that Sanders comes up in relation to Trump’s crowd numbers only as a reason not to get too excited about Trump’s crowd numbers: “After all,” writes Cillizza (1/5/16), “if crowd size at rallies was determinative, Bernie Sanders, not Hillary Clinton, would be the heavy favorite to be the Democratic presidential nominee.”

    • Fox’s Katie Pavlich: If Obama Wants To Do Work On Guns, He Should Work With NRA [Ed: well…]
    • The difficulty of ‘neoliberalism’

      This is not a new critique. ‘Neoliberalism’ is a term that has attracted a remarkable degree of frustration and fury, in politics, the media and within academia. Journalists such as Independent columnist John Rentoul and Newsnight policy editor Christopher Cook have expended some energy on twitter and in print dismissing the term as vacuous. Orthodox economists, who do not encounter the term in their microeconomics training, dismiss it as useless. In academia, ‘neoliberalism’ has been criticised by historians and some social scientists as over-determined. Since Jeremy Bentham, the English tradition of positivism has rested on the notion that only acutely defined terms are politically valid – a premise that can quickly flip into the idea that if I don’t know exactly what you mean, then you are talking nonsense.

  • Censorship

    • Serbia: Independent media increasingly targeted as spies

      It was a Wednesday morning in early November when investigative journalist Slobodan Georgijev opened Informer, one of Serbia’s notorious tabloids. He had just arrived at his office, the newsroom of Balkan Investigative Reporting Network (BIRN), one of Serbia’s few independent media outlets. When he turned the page he was shocked by what he saw; a picture of his own face amongst two others, in an article calling three media outlets known for critical reporting of the Serbian government, including BIRN, “foreign spies”.

      “It was funny and unpleasant at the same time,” Georgijev recalled, speaking to Index on Censorship. “Funny because I knew that this is just a campaign by Informer to undermine the credibility of independent journalists.” More importantly, he had begun worry about his own safety. “It’s also unpleasant because you never know how people will interpret such defamations.”

    • Stories On Cologne Assaults Face Censorship On Reddit

      Moderators on the link-sharing and discussion site Reddit deleted dozens of links and comments about immigrant gang violence and sexual assault in Cologne, Germany in an apparent attempt to clamp down on “vileness.”

    • German mayor blames victims for sex attacks by 1,000 Muslims: Media coverup

      The Mayor of Cologne, Germany, blamed the victims of a mass sexual assault/rape, saying they should follow a “code of conduct” to ensure they don’t get raped again. Over 90 women have filed police reports so far, saying they were attacked by 1,000 Muslim men of “Arab or North African origin” at a New Year’s Eve celebration in the Cologne city square.

    • Art says rationale for censorship a ‘load of bullshit’

      Lawyer says the Film Censorship Board’s decision to mute the word “binatang” in a documentary for fear it could be a security threat is insulting to Malaysians.

    • Malaysian Censorship Board says good reason to mute word in Singaporean documentary

      The Malaysian Censorship Board (LPF) says the decision to mute the words binatang-binatang (animals) from a scene in a Singaporean documentary was taken to avoid turning it into a controversy.

      LPF chairman Datuk Abdul Halim Abdul Hamid said the censorship board’s decision was in accordance with the Film Censorship Guidelines.

    • Poet Yang Lian: ‘There are cracks and holes in China’s censorship’

      In Hong Kong publishers are going missing, while a book that cannot be published in Beijing may appear in Shanghai. In an interview with DW, Chinese poet Yang Lian discusses the current fight for freedom of expression.

    • US Copyright Office is taking comments about how well the DMCA is working

      The 1998 Digital Millennium Copyright Act is the law that allows content owners to remove copyrighted material from the Internet, and it’s made just about no one happy. Content owners are bitter that their material tends to keep popping up, even when they’ve asked for it to be removed hundreds or even thousands of times. Internet platforms that host large amounts of user-generated content must cope with millions of infringement allegations, mass-produced by software. When those algorithms make mistakes, it’s often users who pay the price—told they’re copyright scofflaws because there was background music in their home video or they shared a photo of a toy they bought.

    • The Charlie Hebdo Massacre: One Year Later, Still Misunderstood

      Christine Boutin, the head of France’s conservative Christian Democrat Party felt “this tragedy deserved better” than to be sullied by Charlie Hebdo’s current cover art depicting an old, bearded white guy (supposedly depicting the Euro-centric representation of God) strapped with a Kalashnikov rifle, blood on his hands and clothes, crouching beneath the words “One year on: The assassin is still out there.” Boutin wrote that Hebdo’s hostility to religion is “becoming an obsession.”


      In both the immediate aftermath of the massacre and throughout the year, the slain journalists were both lionized as free speech martyrs and also vilified as racists and Islamophobes because of their usage of crude and ribald imagery, particularly when it came to the Prophet Muhammad.

    • The truth about Charlie: one year after the 7 January attacks

      Meanwhile, the campaign to support the presentation of the PEN award to Charlie Hebdo was led by Salman Rushdie, who is of Muslim heritage, and whose name is derived from a great 12th century Andalusian Muslim philosopher Ibn Rushd who likely would not have been terribly troubled by provocative cartoons, and whose own books on philosophy and theology were burned by Muslim fundamentalists while his Christian followers were slain by the Inquisition.

      So, we must remember that January 7, 2015 was one in a long line of far right attacks on creativity, and part of a history of fundamentalist assaults against artists and intellectuals who have defied them. And, sadly, it was only one of the first armed Islamist salvos of 2015 which will be remembered as the year of endless, expanding jihad. Charlies and Ahmeds, Ceciles and Samiras died in many regions of the world at the hands of those seeking a free ticket to paradise.

    • Charlie Hebdo attack survivor says ‘Je suis Charlie’ slogan has been ‘misused’ in year since atrocity

      One of the cartoonists who survived the Charlie Hebdo massacre has said the slogan that united the world in the aftermath of the atrocity has been “misused”.

      Corinne Rey, known as Coco, said “Je suis Charlie” was originally used to express solidarity but has lost its way.

      “It’s a phrase that was used during the march as a sign of emotion or resistance to terrorism,” she told France Inter radio.

    • Permanent State of Emergency? France Seeks Alarming Expanse of Police Powers

      Citing last year’s Paris attacks as justification, the French government is seeking to expand police powers permanently—relaxing rules around the firing of weapons, enabling nighttime raids, and loosening restrictions on searching and detaining suspected terrorists, according to a draft bill seen by the newspaper Le Monde.

    • Occupy-linked DJs dumped as Hong Kong broadcaster RTHK rejects censorship accusations
    • A threat to whom? Some implications of the rise of “extremist rhetoric”

      It is through the use of the nebulous term “extremism”, which remains undefined in the Bill itself, that the oppressive policy logic of the Prevent strategy is grounded. Extremism is identified vaguely in the original Prevent guidance as “vocal or active opposition to fundamental British values including democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty and mutual respect and tolerance of different faiths and beliefs”. Building on this troubling definition, the guidance goes on to propagate that extremism is not always violent, and not always illegal. In fact, the crux of its argument is that non-violent and legal extremism is what needs to be tackled first and foremost. In fact, the crux of its argument is that non-violent and legal extremism is what needs to be tackled first and foremost. This assertion then provides the rationale for those employed in the education and community sectors to act as an arm of government surveillance. Under the Bill, those working in schools and universities have a duty to “create an environment where extremism cannot operate” and as such to report any students suspected to be “at risk”, with the threat of legal penalties for individual employees if they cannot prove that they are taking steps to do this.

    • One Year After Charlie Hebdo, More Censorship Than Ever In Europe

      It took a week for German authorities to admit Muslim rape gangs were running wild in the streets on New Year’s Eve, and the police are still mumbling about having insufficient resources to follow up on leads, but apparently they’ve got infinite resources to crack down on “hate speech” against the new occupants.

    • Charlie Hebdo anniversary: free-speech groups unite in defence of ‘right to offend’
    • On the anniversary of the attack on Charlie Hebdo we must defend the right to blaspheme
    • On the anniversary of the Charlie Hebdo massacre
    • The Mystery Of The Disappearing Book Publishers

      If Chinese authorities kidnapped Lee from Hong Kong, they will have encroached on its independence. Since 1997, Hong Kong and China have been ruled by a “one country, two systems” principle which affords those in Hong Kong civil liberties that those in China do not enjoy. Chief among them is the freedom of expression, which is why many Chinese tourists stocked up on Causeway Bay Bookstore’s scandalous titles while on the island.

  • Privacy

    • NSA Did Not Spy On Congress Members During Iran Nuclear Debate, Top Intel Officials Say: Report

      Top U.S. intelligence officials told the House Intelligence Committee Wednesday that the National Security Agency (NSA) did not spy on Congress members during last year’s Iran nuclear debate, CNN reported. The testimony came in the wake of a Wall Street Journal report that alleged that the NSA had maintained surveillance of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other U.S. allies, even though two years ago President Barack Obama had promised to end the practice. It also purported that communications between Congress members and Netanyahu might have also been inadvertently picked up.

    • House Committee to Consider Safeguards for Handling Communications Intercepted by NSA

      The U.S. House Intelligence Committee will consider whether new safeguards are needed for handling communications intercepted by the National Security Agency that involve U.S. lawmakers or other Americans, the top Democrat on the panel said on Wednesday.

    • First on CNN: Top intel officials say NSA didn’t spy on members of Congress

      Top U.S. intelligence officials told the House Intelligence Committee Wednesday that the National Security Agency did not spy on any members of Congress during last year’s contentious Iran nuclear debate.

    • Fingerprints For Food: Venezuela Shows How Not To Use Biometrics

      Venezuela is clearly the country to watch if you want to see how not to use biometrics.

    • Your fingerprint for a kilogram of flour: biometric and privacy in Venezuela

      In Caracas or Maracaibo’ supermarkets and drugstores, buying a kilogram of grain or a pack of cookies has become a complex procedure: it’s required for you to deliver an ID, full name, phone number, address, date of birth and to slide both thumbs in a device: the emblematic “fingerprint scanner”; a device which usage by stores was originally voluntary, but which evolution, months afterwards, is one of omnipresent machinery, kind of a necessary toll for the acquisition of a simple pack of gum in any chain store.

    • Pioneer In Internet Anonymity Hands FBI A Huge Gift In Building Dangerous Backdoored Encryption System

      I first came across cryptography pioneer David Chaum about a decade ago, during the debates about online voting. Many in the technology world were insisting that such things were impossible to do safely, but Chaum insisted he had come up with a way to do online voting safely (he’d also tried to do electronic money, DigiCash… unsuccessfully). Many people disagreed with Chaum and it led to some fairly epic discussions. It appears that Chaum is again making moves that are making many of his colleagues angry: specifically creating a backdoored encryption system.

    • TOR Anonymity: Things Not To Do While Using TOR

      TThe internet is awe-inspiring, but it has its nightmares for the ones who get stalked and harassed in the digital world. They can’t really get away from the predicament, one possible recourse is to go anonymous while using the internet with the help of various tools available. Name it, VPN, TOR, or you can use a proxy server for your anonymity needs.

      Apart from all these available options, clearly, TOR stands out first in the line when we compare the level of anonymity provided by sundry tools. The Onion Router project has been regarded as the best cloak for those people who want to hide on the internet. Edward Snowden, who came into light after he acted as the whistleblower and exposed NSA’s unethical surveillance activities, used TOR browser in order to do so. He was also inculpated by the federal agencies that his disclosure of confidential information was the impetus behind the Paris death massacre.

      The Onion Router has the forte to protect you and hide you from all those stalkers and malevolent minds, who follow you on the internet. Even if you want to be another Edward Snowden, you can very well do so, by using TOR browser. But you just can’t turn a blind eye on the fact, little of your mistake will contribute to divulging your identity on the internet, no matter how secure do you consider yourself. TOR doesn’t magically read your mind and prevent any of the foolish activities that you may perform. So, there are a few things you need to keep in mind and it will help you to be anonymous online.


      Don’t use TOR with Windows

      Microsoft’s Windows is the world’s most used operating system for desktops, but it doesn’t seem to do well when you would like to use TOR browser on it. The credits are bagged by the vulnerabilities that exist on the operating system and may reveal your identity even if you are using the TOR to access the internet.

      Linux systems will serve you well for this purpose. Linux distributions like Tails and Whonix are pre-configured with TOR or you can configure it manually on any distribution you may like.

    • Former NSA Official Tells UK Politicians Mass Surveillance Risks Citizen Safety

      What if mass surveillance was not only ineffective, but a potential danger to the safety of citizens?

      That’s the argument made by one former intelligence official. As the UK’s proposed new surveillance law looms, several evidence hearings with experts, government officials and activists have taken place in front of the Joint Select Committee that is vetting the draft Investigatory Powers Bill. In one session on Wednesday, retired NSA technical director turned whistleblower William Binney argued that mass surveillance, and particularly forms of it executed by the US and British governments, is fundamentally flawed, and may even result in the loss of life.

    • Former NSA Whistleblower Bill Binney Warns UK Lawmakers Mass Surveillance Will ‘Cost Lives In Britain’
    • Microsoft shows off just how much data it’s collecting from Windows 10 users

      “The statistics indicate that Microsoft may be collecting more data than initially thought,” writes Brinkmann. “While it is unclear what data is exactly collected, it is clear that the company is collecting information about the use of individual applications and programs on Windows at the very least.”

    • DHS Issues Process and Privacy Guidance on State and Local Drones

      One of the most timely aspects of the best practices is their recognition of the value of encryption. Despite self-serving claims by intelligence officials that encryption represents a threat to national security, DHS’ 2015 guidance on drones explicitly advises local and state authorities to employ encryption to ensure the security of data they collect and retain.

      By recognizing that encryption enhances security, the DHS guidance could undermine half-baked FBI proposals to subvert encryption by mandating back doors for intelligence agencies and instead reinforce a common sense consensus uniting the tech community and privacy advocates.

    • Do you own your phone or does it own you?

      Turning it off is a powerful act of showing who is in charge. If you feel you can’t live without it, then you are putting your life in the hands of the people who expect an immediate answer of their calls, your phone company and the Silicon Valley executives who make all those apps you can’t stop using.

      As security expert Jacob Appelbaum puts it, cell phones are tracking devices that also happen to make phone calls. Isn’t that a chilling thought to reflect on the next time you give one as Christmas gift?

    • NSA ‘confident’ in new system at center of Rubio-Cruz fight

      The National Security Agency said on Thursday that it was “confident” in its powers under a new phone records collection scheme, in a claim that backs up assertions from Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas).

      In a post on the influential legal blog Lawfare, NSA general counsel Glenn Gerstell addressed the operations of the spy agency’s new program, which began in November following a tough congressional fight last summer.

    • Top Democrat says no evidence of NSA spying on US lawmakers

      A key House Democrat said Thursday there is no evidence the intelligence community was spying on members of Congress, following a report that the National Security Agency swept up some conversations with lawmakers in the course of spying on Israel.

  • Civil Rights

    • Judge Doesn’t Buy CBP’s Argument That Dog Can ‘Smell’ The Difference Between Concealed And Unconcealed Humans

      If there’s an unreasonable, warrantless search happening, there’s a good chance Deputy (literal) Dog is on the case. Cops love their K9 buddies, mainly because nearly any motion or noise a police dog makes can be construed as an “indication” or an “alert.” It’s a blank permission slip, signed with a paw print.

    • Oregon Militia
    • Cologne New Year gang assaults: Mayor says women should have code of conduct to prevent future assault

      The Mayor of Cologne said today that women should adopt a “code of conduct” to prevent future assault at a crisis meeting following the sexual attack of women by 1000 men on New Year’s eve.

      Mayor Henriette Reker attended an emergency meeting with Chief of Police Wolfgang Albers and Wolfgang Wurm to discuss how to deal with the attack, where dozens of women were repeatedly touched and groped, with one case of alleged rape in the center of town.

    • IBM union calls it quits

      After trying since 1999 to turn IBM into a union shop, the Alliance@IBM, a Communications Workers of America local, is “suspending” its organizing efforts.

      “Years of job cuts and membership losses have taken their toll,” said the Alliance in a statement Tuesday.

      The Alliance, which had 400 dues-paying members at its peak, now has about 200. But this figure doesn’t tell the real story about the Alliance’s accomplishments.

    • More religion?

      It is an error for politicians and institutions to invite British Muslims to think about extremism as Muslims, rather than as citizens.

    • An Act of Terror: Deporting a Kurdish Activist Back to Turkey

      In the quaint tourist town of Harbert, Michigan sits an unassuming restaurant that has been owned and operated by a man who is considered a pillar of his community. Cafe Gulistan is owned by Ibrahim Parlak. He is, by almost all appearances, a classic example of the immigrant success story. There is just one problem: The U.S. government is trying to deport him to Turkey, where he has a well-founded fear of imprisonment, torture and possibly death. After a quarter of a century here in the United States, he now has about 75 days left to fight deportation.

      Parlak is Kurdish, born in the region of Turkey called Anatolia, in 1962. His childhood was marred by increasing government repression of Turkey’s Kurdish ethnic minority. Turkey banned the Kurdish language, Kurdish cultural expression, and attempted to forcibly assimilate the Kurdish people to destroy their heritage. Resistance to that assimilation included protests and grass-roots organizing, but also, by the 1980s, armed resistance from the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK. In the late 1970s, Parlak, as a teenager, was jailed for three months for engaging in peaceful protests. He then moved to Germany to avoid further repression from the Turkish government. He remained active in the movement for Kurdish autonomy, hosting cultural events and raising funds for the political, nonmilitary wing of the PKK, known as the National Front for the Liberation of Kurdistan. After seven years in Germany, Parlak decided he could better support the Kurdish cause back home.

    • Keys Case Spotlights Flaws of Computer Hacking Law

      Old laws can cause confusion and unduly harsh consequences, particularly when courts confront situations Congress did not anticipate. This is particularly true for the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, 18 U.S.C. § 1030—the federal “anti­hacking” statute prompted in part by fear generated by the 1983 techno­thriller “WarGames.” The CFAA was enacted in 1986, and the government’s current prosecution of journalist Matthew Keys—who faces sentencing on Jan. 20 for three counts of violating the CFAA—illustrates the 30-­year­-old statute’s many problems.

      The CFAA makes it illegal to intentionally access a “protected computer”—which includes any computer connected to the Internet—”without authorization” or in excess of authorization. But the CFAA does not define “without authorization.” This has given overzealous prosecutors broad discretion to bring criminal charges against individuals for behavior that simply doesn’t rise to the culpability Congress had in mind when it passed this serious criminal law, such as doing something on a computer network that the owner doesn’t like. (There is currently a circuit split on whether violations of employer­imposed use restrictions can give rise to CFAA liability, with the U.S. Courts of Appeal for the Second, Fourth and Ninth Circuits finding that they cannot, and the First, Fifth, Seventh and Eleventh finding that they can.)

      The Keys case centers on behavior that essentially amounts to Internet vandalism. After being fired from the Tribune Company, Keys shared the username and password of the Tribune Company’s content management system in an online chat room. Another individual then used the credentials to log into the CMS and make some juvenile but relatively innocuous changes to a Los Angeles Times article, including modifying the title of the article to read “Pressure builds in House to elect CHIPPY 1337″ (from “Pressure builds in house to pass tax­cut package”). The changes were live for only about 40 minutes, after which the Tribune Company restored the original article and effectively blocked outside access to its CMS.

    • State Trooper Who Arrested Sandra Bland Indicted on Perjury Charge

      Brian T. Encinia, the Texas State Trooper who made the initial and violent arrest of Sandra Bland during a routine traffic stop just days before she was found dead in a jail cell last summer, was indicted on charges of perjury by state prosecutors on Wednesday for making false statements regarding his behavior during the incident.

    • BREAKING: Officer Who Arrested Sandra Bland Charged For Lying In His Police Report

      Texas Department of Public Safety Trooper Brian Encinia was indicted by a grand jury Wednesday for perjury, based on a statement he made in his report on his encounter with 28-year-old Sandra Bland.

      Encinia’s traffic stop and arrest of Bland went viral after she was found hanging in her cell three days later. Video of the arrest showed Encinia pointing a Taser at Bland yelling “I will light you up!” after he pulled her over for failing to signal a lane change. Encinia got more and more heated after Bland refuses to put out her cigarette, at one point trying to pull her out of the car. Bland can be heard saying “you knocked my head in the ground and I got epilepsy.” “Good,” Encinia responds.

      Before the video went public, Encinia claimed that Bland had assaulted him by swinging her elbows at him and kicking him in the shin. The perjury charge reportedly stems from his statement that he pulled Bland out of her car in order to continue the investigation.

    • The Texas Trooper Who Pulled Over Sandra Bland Was Just Indicted

      Trooper Brian Encinia pulled over Bland in Prairie View on July 20, citing an improper lane change. Dash cam footage later released by county officials showed that the encounter quickly escalated after Encinia ordered Bland out of her car. In the video, Encinia can be heard saying, “I’m going to drag you out of here,” as he reached into Bland’s vehicle. He then pulled out what appeared to be a Taser, yelling, “I will light you up!” Encinia eventually forced Bland to the ground as she protested the arrest. Encinia arrested Bland for “assault on a public servant” and booked her into the Waller County jail, where she was found dead three days later.

    • DHS Immigration Raids Reverse Policy of Deporting Felons, Not Families

      Despite Donald Trump’s ignorant comments to the contrary, it is not possible to detain and deport every undocumented immigrant. It’s not even a simple matter to determine who is deportable and who isn’t – evinced best, perhaps, by the overworked dockets of immigration judges across the country. That’s why there must be sensible prioritization of removals.

    • Oregon Tribal Leaders Say Militant Group Needs To ‘Get The Hell Out’

      The Oregon tribe that once inhabited the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge has made its stance clear on the militant group now occupying refuge headquarters: They’re not welcome.

      “We as Harney County people can stand on our own feet,” said Jarvis Kennedy, a member of the Burns Paiute Tribal council. “We don’t need some clown to come in here and stand up for us.”

      Kennedy joined other tribal leaders at a Wednesday press conference representing the 200 tribal members living on the Burns Paiute Reservation, located 30 miles from the refuge.

      “They say they don’t want to bother the community,” he said. “But you know what? Our kids are sitting at home right now when they should be in school.”

  • Internet/Net Neutrality

    • With Fixed Costs And Fat Margins, Comcast’s Broadband Cap Justifications Are Total Bullshit

      For a while Comcast tried to pretend that its slowly-expanding usage cap “trials” were about managing network congestion. At least until leaked Comcast documents, the company’s top engineer, and the cable industry’s top lobbyist all confirmed that justification was bullshit (caps don’t really help manage congestion anyway). Since then, Comcast has veered away from any hard technical explanation for the glorified price hike, instead focusing on the ambiguous claim that these new “flexible” pricing models bring “fairness” to the broadband industry.

    • What you need to know about IPv6 in 2016

      Right now, a lot of content and services are only available on IPv4. Content providers haven’t seen demand and they’ve actually been worried about making user experience worse by making content available over IPv6. As IPv6 support in operating systems and applications has increased, and as networks devices start to support it, devices obtain IPv6 addresses automatically. So-called “dual stack” devices with both IPv4 and IPv6 addresses are more common, but just because a device has an IPv6 address doesn’t mean that it can reach everywhere on the IPv6 Internet. In these early deployment days, sometimes IPv6 works only on the local network because the ISP or larger enterprise network doesn’t support IPv6. In such scenarios, an application can receive an IPv6 address in a DNS response and try to connect, only to frustrate users with timeouts or other failures.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • UN Initiative On Access To Medicines Calls For Contributions

      The United Nations Secretary-General’s newly formed High Level Panel on Access to Medicines launched a call for contributions by stakeholders at the end of December, in an effort it says could transform millions of lives.

      The High-Level Panel seeks to address “one of the greatest public health challenge of our time,” which is “how to promote innovation and increase access to medicines, vaccines, diagnostics and related health technologies in low-, middle-, and high-income countries,” according to a press release.

    • How 3-D Printing Threatens Our Patent System

      Patents will have even more trouble with 3-D copies than copyright law had with digital music sales

    • Copyrights

      • Monkey selfie case: judge rules animal cannot own his photo copyright

        A federal judge in San Francisco has ruled that a macaque monkey who took now-famous selfie photographs cannot be declared the copyright owner of the photos.

        US district judge William Orrick said in a tentative opinion Wednesday that while Congress and the president can extend the protection of law to animals as well as humans, there is no indication that they did so in the Copyright Act.

        The lawsuit filed last year by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals sought a court order allowing Peta to administer all proceeds from the photos for the benefit of the monkey, which it identified as six-year-old Naruto.

        The photos were taken during a 2011 trip to Sulawesi, Indonesia, by British nature photographer David Slater, who asked the court to dismiss the case. He says the British copyright obtained for the photos by his company, Wildlife Personalities Ltd, should be honored worldwide.

      • Judge In Nutty PETA Monkey Copyright Trial Skeptical Of PETA’s Argument, But Let’s Them Try Again

        We’d been covering the story of that selfie for years, since first noting that it was almost certainly in the public domain, as copyright law only recognizes human authors. This discussion spurred not one, but two, separate legal threats made against us by representatives of David Slater, the guy whose camera the monkey used. It’s also gotten Wikipedia involved (after Slater asked the site to not allow the image to be used, while Wikipedia agreed with us that the image is public domain).

      • Ninth Circuit Appeals Court Decision On Fair Use And Right Of First Sale Fails To Budge The Needle On Either Issue

        A ruling on fair use, the right of first sale and the limits of trademark protection has been handed down by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals panel. Normally, I’d proceed the word “ruling” with an adjective like “important,” or “terrible,” or “wonderful.” But this ruling is none of those. It’s a ruling, and I suppose it does set some sort of precedent, but thanks mainly to Adobe’s inept handling of the case, it does very little to clarify any of the above issues.

      • Richard Prince Finally Sued (Again) For Copyright Infringement Over His ‘Instagram’ Art

        Remember Richard Prince? He’s the well-known “appropriation artist” who was involved a few years ago in a key fair use case concerning his artwork. That case involved him taking photographs taken by another photographer, Patrick Cariou, of a bunch of Jamaican Rastafarians, and adding some minor modifications, blowing the images up and selling them as “art.” Whether or not you appreciate Prince’s art, the lawsuit raised some serious questions about whether or not it’s appropriate for judges to determine what is art and what is not. A district court determined that the works were infringing, but, thankfully, the appeals court overturned most of that ruling, declaring that the majority of Prince’s artowrk was fair use. Unfortunately, before the case could go any further, the case settled, so there was some murkiness over the precedent.


Links 6/1/2016: CES Focus, Firefox OS in Panasonic UHD TVs

Posted in News Roundup at 6:31 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish



  • Server

  • Kernel Space

    • Ford, Mazda, Mitsubishi, and Subaru get on board with Linux Foundation

      The Linux Foundation began a new initiative in 2012 called Automotive Grade Linux as an open-source project to develop common Linux-based software cores for connected cars. Now major automakers like Ford, Mazda, Mitsubishi, and Subaru have joined AGL alongside existing members Toyota, Nissan, and Jaguar Land Rover.

    • High schooler awarded Linux Foundation scholarship

      RJ Murdok spends his days studying Linux and contributing to bug reports, and he’s only 15 years old.

      Recently, he received a Teens-in-Training scholarship from the Linux Foundation. In the past five years, the Foundation’s Training Scholarship Program has awarded 34 scholarships totaling more than US$100,000 in free training to students and professionals.

      Murdok, who is legally blind, started studying Linux in 2012. He became interested in it when his older brother introduced him to the system. And a year year ago he started using openSUSE Tumbleweed.

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

      • Kubuntu 15.10 Gets Plasma 5.4.3 and Applications 15.08.3

        Even if Ubuntu and its flavors don’t usually receive big updates after an official release, Kubuntu doesn’t subscribe to this policy and get big updates for the Plasma desktop and other KDE components.

      • KDE Plasma 5.6 to Land on March 22, 2016, Will Have Five Point Releases

        We reported earlier today, January 6, 2016, the availability of the third maintenance release for the KDE Plasma 5.5 desktop environment, and we’ve promised to share some details about the release schedule of the next major version, KDE Plasma 5.6.

      • KDE Plasma 5.5.3 Desktop Environment Brings the First Plasma 5 Bugfixes for 2016

        The third maintenance release of the KDE Plasma 5 open source desktop environment for GNU/Linux operating systems was supposed to be released on Tuesday, January 5, 2016, according to the official release schedule.

      • Plasma 5.4.3 and Applications 15.08.3 for Kubuntu 15.10

        In the last months after the 15.10 release, developers have been very busy updating and improving our workflows and documentation which left little time for packaging. But we’re getting back on track, so here’s the missing announcement for Plasma 5.4.3 and KDE Applications 15.08.3.

        Many of you have been asking for Plasma 5.5. We are working on it and are close to finishing the packages for the development release, 15.10 packages will follow soon after.

      • conf.kde.in 2016

        Building on the success of conf.kde.in 2014 at Dhirubhai Ambani Institute of Information and Community Technology (DA-IICT) in the land of Gujarat and 2015 at Amritapuri in Kerala, India, the horizon of the KDE Community is broadening and shifting to north India. conf.kde.in 2016 takes place on the 5th and 6th of March at Jaipur in Rajasthan, India. As in previous years of the conference, conf.kde.in 2016 will promote the spirit of free and open source software (FOSS) and offer ideas to build awareness about FOSS culture at the college level, when most technology students have their first experience with Open Source. The emphasis will be on KDE technology and Qt, the popular cross-platform application framework.

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK

      • GNOME Maps Will Allow Users to Add POIs on OpenStreetMap

        The GNOME Maps developers continued to provide really interesting updates for the application, and now they are working on a new feature that will allow users to add POIs on OpenStreetMap.

      • Add your local joint to the map
      • More NX & Chrome Books

        The most recent end point offering is using a ChromeBook. This is not yet in production, and being tested mostly by me at this point. We purchased a HP 14 inch ChromeBook with 4GB memory for around $250. It boots immediately. After opening the Chrome browser, you just put in the right URL and credentials and after a few seconds the GNOME desktop appears. The experience is then the same as the other platforms and this platform will resume sessions started on other types of devices. This ChromeBook is full 1920×1080 and provides an excellent canvas space for running software.

  • Distributions

    • New Releases

    • PCLinuxOS/Mageia/Mandriva Family

      • The January 2016 Issue of the PCLinuxOS Magazine

        The PCLinuxOS Magazine staff is pleased to announce the release of the January 2016 issue. With the exception of a brief period in 2009, The PCLinuxOS Magazine has been published on a monthly basis since September, 2006. The PCLinuxOS Magazine is a product of the PCLinuxOS community, published by volunteers from the community. The magazine is lead by Paul Arnote, Chief Editor, and Assistant Editor Meemaw. The PCLinuxOS Magazine is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-Share-Alike 3.0 Unported license, and some rights are reserved.

    • Arch Family

      • Manjaro Update 2016-01-05 (stable)

        We are happy to announce our second update for Manjaro 15.12 (Capella)!

        Packages of the new major version of PHP have been released into all our repositories. Besides the new PHP 7 features there are the following packaging changes. In general the package configuration is now closer to what was intended by the PHP project. Also refer to the PHP 7 migration guide for upstream improvements.

        Read more

      • PHP 7 and Linux Kernel 4.4 RC8 are Now Available in Manjaro Linux 15.12 (Capella)

        On January 5, the Manjaro development team, through Philip Müller, announced the general availability of the second stable update for the Manjaro Linux 15.12 (Capella) computer operating system.

        The “Manjaro Update 2016-01-05″ update is here to upgrade all the PHP packages to the latest stable and most advanced version of the world’s most popular server-side programming language, PHP 7. With this occasion, the Manjaro devs made a few adjustments for better integration of PHP 7 in Manjaro Linux, such as to remove the php-pear, php-mssql, php-ldap, php-mongo, php-xcache, and graphviz packages.

    • Ballnux/SUSE

    • Red Hat Family

      • Red Hat Updates CloudForms Hybrid Cloud Management Platform; Adds Support for Microsoft Azure, Containerization

        Red Hat’s latest upgrade to its CloudForms hybrid cloud management platform expands its collection of managed platforms to include Microsoft Azure, following the recent Red Hat / Microsoft partnership. CloudForms 4 also adds management support for container architectures and even self-service features.

      • JPMorgan Chase & Co. Reiterates Overweight Rating for Red Hat Inc (RHT)

        Red Hat Inc (NYSE:RHT)‘s stock had its “overweight” rating restated by equities research analysts at JPMorgan Chase & Co. in a research report issued to clients and investors on Monday, MarketBeat reports. They currently have a $89.00 price objective on the open-source software company’s stock, up from their previous price objective of $85.00. JPMorgan Chase & Co.’s target price indicates a potential upside of 8.66% from the company’s previous close.

      • Top Stocks of the day: Red Hat, Inc. (NYSE:RHT)
      • Fedora

        • Sylvia Sanchez: How do you Fedora

          Sylvia Sanchez is a Fedora user and contributor living in Uruguay. She started using Linux ten years ago when she bought her first computer. Sanchez recalls, “My first computer came with Guadalinex, an Ubuntu-based distribution, promoted by the government of Andalusia, Spain.” In an odd twist, Sylvia was converted to Fedora at an Ubuntu release party. She has been a Fedora user since Fedora 16. Her childhood heroes are Wonder Woman and Spiderman. Milanesas with salad and fried potatoes is her favorite food. She is an aviation enthusiast who loves airplanes and studying history. She recently started a personal blog called Crossing the Air.

        • Does Fedora Linux need to be more stable?

          Fedora Linux is one of the best known Linux distributions, and it’s proven to be quite popular with some users. But is Fedora stable enough or does it need some additional improvement in that area?

          A developer at Red Hat recently shared his thoughts about Fedora Workstation and the ongoing work of improving its stability.

        • Fedora 23 on Tegra K1 Chromebook

          Last year during Flock I got myself an Acer CB5 311 Chromebook with Nvidia Tegra K1 ARM board, and 2 GB ram. It is a very nice machine to run ChromeOS, but my goal behind getting the hardware was all about running Fedora on it. With the great help from Jon Disnard (IRC: masta) on #fedora-arm channel, I finally managed to do that this morning.

    • Debian Family

      • The birth of Debian, in the words of Ian Murdock himself

        Fast forward to 2016 and we now know just how prescient Murdock’s words were: a recent family tree of GNU/Linux distributions (pictured above) makes clear the absolutely key role played by the Debian project in the world of free software, and the enduring contribution of the man who created it.

      • Derivatives

        • TeX Live security improvements

          Today I committed a set of changes to the TeX Live subversion repository that should pave the way for better security handling in the future. Work is underway to use strong cryptographic signatures to verify that packages downloaded and installed into a TeX Live installation have not been tinkered with.

        • Canonical/Ubuntu

  • Devices/Embedded

    • Dueling Raspberry Pi drone autopilots ship in Q1

      Erle Robotics unveiled a Dronecode-ready “PXFmini” drone autopilot for the Raspberry Pi, and Emlid updated its Pi autopilot to a HAT-ready “Navio2.”

      In 2014, Emlid launched a Navio drone autopilot shield for the Raspberry Pi. Last month, the company unveiled a Navio2 update with HAT compatibility, and now Spanish drone firm Erle Robotics has launched a competitor called the PXFmini. The shield works with any Raspberry Pi, but is optimized for the Raspberry Pi Zero.

    • The Rokos Core OS Turns Your Raspberry Pi Into A Bitcoin Node

      The Rokos Core, now in its fourth version, is a disk image for Raspberry Pis that can turn your single-board computer into a full bitcoin node. The system will allow you to hold a bitcoin wallet and mine, send, and receive bitcoin over the network.

      Understand that without specialized hardware this thing is essentially the way to actively waste electricity and/or hold bitcoin. However, because it is a full BTC node, you’ll be doing the bitcoin world a favor while learning a bit about mining.

    • Raspberry Pi Raspbian Cross Compiler Toolchains on 64-bit Linux

      It might be obvious if you’re more familiar with gcc and cross compiler toolchains, but in the Raspberry Pi tools project there’s 32 bit and 64 bit versions of the tools. Trying to use the 32 bit versions on 64 bit Linux does not work. Rather than some useful error though, trying to execute any of the 32 bit versions from a shell gives a rather un-useful “No such file or directory” error.

    • Raspberry Pi Closes December on Up Note

      With the holidays and all, the month of December wasn’t as action packed as some of the past months have been concerning the Raspberry Pi, but there were still some interesting stories that occurred. Let’s take a minute to reflect back on the Raspberry Pi and December.

    • Intel, Qualcomm stake claims in Linux drones

      In Linux-related drone news at CES: Intel acquires AscTec, ZeroTech tips a Snapdragon Flight based “Ying” UAV, and DJI and Ford launch a $100K app contest.

    • Phones

      • Android

        • Android N switches to OpenJDK, Google tells Oracle it is protected by the GPL

          The Oracle v. Google legal battle over the use of Java in Android keeps on going, but this week Google made a change to Android that it hopes will let the company better navigate its current legal trouble.

          Google told VentureBeat that it in “Android N,” the next major version of Android, it is swapping Android’s Java libraries from its own Apache Harmony-based implementation to one based on Oracle’s OpenJDK—yes that Oracle, the same company suing Google. OpenJDK is the “official” open source version of the Java Platform, and Oracle makes it available under the GPL with a linking exception.

        • 2016 Technology of the Year Finalist: Android Auto

          Ever wonder why the tiny little Android-powered computer constantly riding around with you in your car is subjected to a life as a dust collector while you struggle to comprehend the terribly designed infotainment system that resides in the center of your car’s dashboard? We feel your pain. Which is why we’re so excited by the promise offered up by Android Auto and Apple CarPlay.

        • Android has a serious bug that looks a lot like Stagefright
        • Casio’s first smartwatch brings Android Wear outdoors

          For all the talk of smartwatches over the past year-plus, it’s been difficult to convince most people that it’s worth wearing one every day. Casio thinks it has a solution, though — while you definitely won’t want to wear its first smartwatch seven days a week, you might find it genuinely useful for one or two.

        • Huawei made a 10-inch Android tablet with a stylus

          Huawei didn’t spend too much time talking about this one at its CES press conference today, but the Chinese smartphone maker revealed a new 10-inch Android tablet called the MediaPad M2, a larger version of the 8-inch M2 it shipped last year.

        • New Balance is making an Android Wear smartwatch, and Intel is putting chips in its shoes

          New Balance is now a gadget company. The athletics giant has created a Digital Sport division that will focus on devices, embedded technology (e.g. sensors in New Balance shoes and apparel), and performance sport (e.g. sensors in sports equipment).

          Its first product? An Android Wear-powered smartwatch that will “track runners’ routes via GPS and also enable them to run with music” without the need to bring along a smartphone. Unfortunately that’s about all we know at the moment. New Balance’s smartwatch launches this holiday season.

        • Haier Launches New 9.7-inch Android Tablet

          Haier might not be a brand many are familiar with, but if you have been keeping up with the tech scene for a while, you might have heard their name pop up once or twice. The company has launched a variety of products in the past, like smartwatches for kids, and just last year during CES, they even unveiled a 105-inch TV.

        • Google Announces New Chromecast Audio And Android TV Hardware Partners

          You could be forgiven if you had already forgotten about Android TV, but Google’s one-year-old Android-based successor to its ill-fated Google TV project is still around and kicking. Today, Google announced a number of new hardware partners for Android TV, as well as a number of new partners who plan to build Chromecast Audio — it’s recently launched audio version of Chromecast — directly into their speakers.

          Soon, you will find Android TV on screens from brands like Arcelik, Vestel, RCA, Hisense, TCL and Bang & Olufsen. Google is also working with Indonesian cable and broadband provider Linknet to offer an Android TV-based set-top box. Previously, the only Android TV sets were available from Sony, Sharp and Philips.

        • Casio launches Android Wear smartwatch that lasts a month per charge

          Casio has launched the G-shock of smartwatches with its first Android Wear device that can last a month between charges.

          The Smart Outdoor Watch, which was launched at CES 2016 in Las Vegas, is the first true smartwatch aimed at the outdoors that can run apps but is waterproof and shockproof to US military MIL-STD-810 standards. That means the watch will be fine in water up to 50m deep – most smartwatches can manage up to 1.5m – and will probably survive a tumble down a rocky outcrop.

        • The excellent Remix OS is bringing Android to every old x86 PC (and Mac) for free

          When I first tested the Remix Mini at the end of last year, I was blown away. Sure, the hardware is interesting and portable, but it’s the fork of Android adapted to make the Remix Mini into something resembling a desktop system that really took me by surprise.

          It’s what Chrome OS should be, in some ways: productivity-focused and instantly familiar, with full support for Android apps from the Google Play store.

        • Nvidia’s Shield Android TV gets a little more customizable with Marshmallow upgrade

          Android 6.0 Marshmallow is coming to the Nvidia Shield Android TV, bringing with it a handful of small and useful updates. Nvidia hasn’t said exactly when the upgrade will be available, but released a video yesterday outlining the new features. These include more customization for the home screen, greater control over external storage, and a hands-free, first time setup process that lets you add your Google account to the Shield just by telling your smartphone: “OK Google, set up my device.”

        • Android’s latest version is still hard to come by
        • More than 4x as many people are running Gingerbread than Marshmallow

          Do you remember when Gingerbread came out? This would have been December 2010: more than five years ago. Do you remember your excitement and anticipation as you waited for Android 2.3 to finally arrive on your device? You might be feeling the same way about Marshmallow now, eagerly awaiting its eventual appearance.

        • Android needs a bit of growing up for productivity

          Tablets were initially designed for consuming content, like web pages, videos, and ebooks. They were, to some extent, larger but somewhat dumber cousins of smartphones. Advancements in mobile technology as well as the pervasiveness of the Internet, however, eventually introduced tablets to new use cases. People now compose documents, make great arc, and even compose music or edit videos on their tablets. In other words, tablets have become devices for productivity aside from entertainment.

        • Android is ousting Windows from its last mobile bastion

          They’re everywhere, but you rarely notice them: the millions of handheld devices — often equipped with scanners — that delivery people, store clerks, and hospital staff responders often carry to manage inventory, process orders, and verify delivery.

          Nearly all of these supply chain-oriented devices run a version of the Windows Embedded operating system, which has had many names over the last decade. But within five years, the companies using these devices will have ditched Windows and moved to Android in one of the biggest industry platform shifts ever.

        • Android Set Top Box Lets You Stream and Record via HDMI Input

          While on the hunt for some hardware that would let him stream video throughout his LAN [danman] got a tip to try the €69 Tronsmart Pavo M9 (which he points out is a re-branded Zidoo X9). With some handy Linux terminal work and a few key pieces of software [danman] was able to get this going.

        • Sun, Oracle, Android, Google and JDK Copyleft FUD

          I have probably spent more time dealing with the implications and real-world scenarios of copyleft in the embedded device space than anyone. I’m one of a very few people charged with the task of enforcing the GPL for Linux, and it’s been well-known for a decade that GPL violations on Linux occur most often in embedded devices such as mobile hand-held computers (aka “phones”) and other such devices.

        • ZTE launches two inexpensive Android phones at CES 2016

          If you’re tuned into our CES coverage, these new ZTE smartphones might not be your first choice for a handset. But they’re aimed at a critical market for phone makers; consumers who don’t want to spend flagship prices or get pulled into a monthly financing plan with US carriers. First is the $129.99 Grand X3, an Android 5.1.1 Lollipop handset with a 5.5-inch HD (720p) display, 1.3GHz Qualcomm quad-core processor, and 16GB of storage, which can be expanded up to 64GB with microSD cards. It’s got an 8-megapixel camera, with a 2MP sensor on the front. It’s not going to win any performance awards, and at this size, 720p is noticeably less crisp than 1080p. It’s not a terrible looking display though, and the amount of bloatware is minimal. That’s nice to see. This one’s headed for Cricket.

        • New Balance announces Android Wear smartwatch for running smartphone-free

          Smartwatches can be hugely convenient tools when it comes to tracking runs and workouts. But the vast majority require that you also bring your smartphone along for the run or ride which, for some, limits the appeal of a wrist-mounted tracker.

Free Software/Open Source

  • OpenSSL’s teachable moment: Secure Shell key management in light of open source vulnerabilities

    Imagine an Internet without encryption. Credit card numbers would flow in the clear from point to point. Social Security numbers and other personally identifiable information would be sitting ducks for any cyber criminal to make off with. And government secrets wouldn’t stay secret for long.

  • Events

    • FOSDEM and Devconf.cz trip

      As two years and year ago I plan to make conference combo: FOSDEM in Brussels and then Devconf.cz in Brno. Weekend after weekend. But this time I want to make it different.

      First I thought that will skip devconf.cz one. But this is quite important Fedora conference so checked how to make it cheaper that in previous years. And found out few deals and setup a trip which should be interesting.

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • Firefox OS will Power New Panasonic UHD TVs Unveiled at CES

        Panasonic announced that Firefox OS will power the new Panasonic DX900 UHD TVs, the first LED LCD TVs in the world with Ultra HD Premium specification, unveiled today at CES 2016.

        Panasonic TVs powered by Firefox OS are already available globally, enabling consumers to find their favorite channels, apps, videos, websites and content quickly and pin content and apps to their TV’s home screen.

      • CES 2016: Firefox OS Still Alive, Powering New Panasonic UHD TV

        The open source Firefox OS will be used to power new Panasonic DX900 UHD TVs, Mozilla and Panasonic have announced.

  • Databases

    • UK spies publish NoSQL database system as open source

      Last month, the British intelligence agency GCHQ (Government Communications Headquarters) published its first public project under the Apache 2 open source license.

    • Oracle fends off open source to stay top rated database

      Oracle is maintaining its place at the top of the database software rankings, according to new data that has been released by website DB-engines.

      The numbers show that the company is still successfully managing to hold off open source challengers, and ranks higher than MySQL and Microsoft SQL Server, despite its rating being slightly down from last month.

  • Pseudo-/Semi-Open Source (Openwashing)


    • Christopher Allan Webber: Goodbye 2015, Hello 2016

      The reduced time spent coding on MediaGoblin proper has been deceptive, since most of the projects I’ve worked on have spun out of work I believe is essential for MediaGoblin’s long-term success. I took a sabbatical from MediaGoblin proper mid-year to focus on two goals: advancing federation standards (and my own understanding of them), and advancing the state of free software deployment. (I’m aware of a whiff of yak fumes here, though for each I can’t see how MediaGoblin can succeed in their present state.) I believe I have made a lot of progress in both areas. As for federation, I’ve worked hard in participating in the W3C Social Working Group, I have done some test implementations, and recently I became co-editor on ActivityPump. On deployment, much work has been done on the UserOps side, both in speaking and in actual work. After initially starting to try to use Salt/Ansible as a base and hitting limitations, then trying to build my own Salt/Ansible’esque system in Hy and then Guile and hitting limitations there too, I eventually came to look into (after much prodding) Guix. At the moment, I think it’s the only foundation solid enough on which to build the tooling to get us out of this mess. I’ve made some contributions, albeit mostly minor, have begun promoting the project more heavily, and am trying to work towards getting more deployment tooling done for it (so little time though!). I’m also now dual booting between GuixSD and Debian, and that’s nice.

  • Openness/Sharing

    • Mayor Bowser Just Made DC’s Economic Data Open-Source
    • How the Open Source Car Could Change the Auto Industry

      Show-stopping rims, subwoofers that make your license plate rattle, razor-sharp decals — custom car modifications that regular people can still do themselves are getting fewer and farther between, and even updates like these take considerable effort and skill and might be beyond the reach of most car owners. In the not-so-distant past, car owners who were so inclined could make all sorts of changes to their cars. Open an engine on a current model, though, and you have to practically be a technology expert to do anything. But what if all the technology, all the blueprints and patents, were readily available to everyone? What if, instead of purchasing a pre-made car manufactured by an industry veteran, you could set up a microfactory and actually build your own car? And, what if car manufacturers, rather than spending years and years and untold sums racing to be the first to discover and perfect the latest technologies, instead shared their findings, encouraging rapid development, the likes of which we can now only imagine?

    • Open Hardware

      • How to build an open hardware amplifier in 5 steps

        ElectroSmash just released an open hardware guitar amplifier called the 1Wamp. Designed as a small and portable 1 watt amplifier loaded with all the features of big amps, the project was fully developed using only open source tools—like KiCAD, a design suite to create schematics and layouts in any platform.

  • Programming

    • Build a web browser with 20 lines of Python

      The Qt graphical toolkit has been at the heart of the KDE desktop since its inception, and it’s used by many other cross-platform applications. It’s a great because it does so much of the hard work for you, even at a low level. There’s a Qt class for dealing with string manipulation, for example, or sorting lists. There’s exceptional networking support and transparency, file handling, native XML and image handling. Using Qt to perform all these tasks means you don’t have to re-invent the wheel or import yet another library into your project. But Qt is still best known for it’s high level user-interface design, where you can quickly construct an application from buttons, sliders, forms and images and tie them all together from your code.

    • PHP 5 Support Timeline

      With the new year starting the PHP project is being asked to decide about the PHP 5 support timeline.

      While Aligning PHP 5.6 support timeline with the release date of PHP 7.0 seems like common sense to keep the support schedule continuous, there’s a big question whether to extend it further to an additional one year of security support till the end of 2018. This would make PHP 5.6, the last of the PHP 5 branch, to have 2 years of security support and de facto getting the same life span as PHP 7.0 would (ending support of both in Dec 2018).

    • Java loses no luster in popularity index

      Java is coming off a banner year in language popularity indexes, and it looks to continue its momentum in 2016.

      Named the Programming Language of the Year on the Tiobe index and scoring the largest increase in popularity, Java remains in the top spot for the first month of this year as well. Tiobe’s index is calculated based on a formula assessing searches on languages in a variety of different search engines.


  • Bulgaria reports eGovernment progress

    The Bulgarian government is making good progress in offering electronic government services. The country’s Ministry for ICT in December reported on progress in providing online validation of documents, and making these documents available online.

  • Science

  • Health/Nutrition

    • These 19 Big-Name Toothpastes and Face Scrubs Will Be Forced to Ditch Tiny Bits of Plastic

      Just before Christmas, Congress passed a law banning microbeads—those tiny pieces of plastic that act as exfoliants in face washes, toothpastes, and other personal-care products.

    • As If Slavery Weren’t Enough, 6 Other Reasons to Avoid Shrimp

      Ah, shrimp. Americans can’t get enough of it: Per capita consumption has doubled since the early ’80s, and we now eat on average about four pounds per year of the briny crustacean. Not even tuna and salmon (about 2.3 pounds each) outshine the shrimp on the US dinner table.

      But the all-you-can-eat specials and fish counter fire sales ride on a massive shrimp-farming boom in the developing world, mainly in South Asia. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization, global farmed shrimp production leapt from 154,00 metric tons in 2000 to 3.3 million metric tons in 2013. Imports now account for 90 percent of the shrimp we eat.

  • Security

    • Security updates for Wednesday
    • Third try is no charm for failed Linux ransomware creators

      Getting cryptographic implementations right is difficult. A group of malware creators is currently experiencing that hard truth, to the amusement of security researchers.

      For the past several months, a group of cybercriminals have been infecting Linux systems — primarily Web servers — with a file-encrypting ransomware program that the security industry has dubbed Linux.Encoder.

    • Indian Hackers Attack Pakistani Websites In Response To Pathankot Terror Attack

      An Indian hacking collective named Indian Black Hats has defaced multiple Pakistani websites. This Kerala-based group has dedicated the attack to the little daughter of a Pathankot terror attack martyr. The group told fossBytes, “Harming is not our aim..but if anyone pick their eyes on our mother India..we stand for it”.

  • Defence/Police/Secrecy/Aggression

    • Saudi Coalition Just Bombed a Center for the Blind in Yemen

      THE NEW YEAR seems to have brought little change for civilians living under bombs in Yemen. Early Tuesday morning, missiles reportedly fired by aircraft supporting the Saudi-led and U.S.-backed coalition damaged a center for the blind in the capital city of Sanaa, as well as the city’s chamber of commerce, a wedding hall, and at least one residential area.

      Multiple outlets reported that the attacks caused no casualties, though one local report, citing an unidentified security official, claimed “at least three people” were wounded at the al Noor Center for Care and Rehabilitation of the Blind in Sanaa. Footage from the capital, published by the International Business Times, showed images of crumbled buildings, collapsed rooftops, and a young man weeping in the street. A spokesperson for UNICEF in Sanaa told Vice News that the al Noor Center offers classes for visually impaired students.

      In an email to The Intercept Tuesday, Rupert Colville, spokesperson for the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, confirmed that his office had received reports of airstrikes in Yemen indeed hitting the al Noor Center, as well as the other reported sites. The Saudi Embassy in Washington, D.C. and the U.S. Central Command, which oversees operations in the region, did not respond to requests for comment.

    • The 18-Minute Gap

      Frankly, I’m more interested in why the FBI doesn’t have cell phone tracking data from this period, especially given that they clearly have it from after the 18 minute gap. I asked on Twitter today but none of the journalists who covered this presser seem to have asked that obvious question (though there seems to be a map indicating some kind of cell tracking).

      If they shut off their phones or otherwise hid their tracks, it would suggest some importance to whatever they were doing in that 18 minute gap.

      One thing the FBI didn’t say, nor any of the crack reports I saw covering the press conference, is that the 18 minute gap — from 12:59 p.m. to 1:17 — happens to coincide with a period when Farook’s now arrested buddy, Enrique Marquez, was not captured on his employers’ closed circuit video.

    • New Hillary Emails Reveal Propaganda, Executions, Coveting Libyan Oil and Gold

      The New Year’s Eve release of over 3000 new Hillary Clinton emails from the State Department has CNN abuzz over gossipy text messages, the “who gets to ride with Hillary” selection process set up by her staff, and how a “cute” Hillary photo fared on Facebook.

    • For a Return to Normalcy

      The economic “emergency” required that we surrender the very concept of economic freedom, the foreign “crisis” meant we had to mobilize the nation, impose conscription, institute rationing, and turn industry over to the cartels. The social and economic life of the country was militarized, and dissent was crushed, along with the Constitution: hundreds of thousands of Japanese-Americans were interned, antiwar activists were prosecuted for “sedition,” and the Supreme Court itself was besieged by the enemies of liberty.

    • Saudi-Iran Crisis Spells a Long Syrian War

      The Saudi decision to start the new year with mass executions bore the hallmarks of a calculated move. Riyadh doubtless anticipated that the Basij would do to Saudi diplomats what had been done to previous representatives of governments who had incurred the Ayatollah’s wrath. The Saudis were prepared to cut diplomatic relations, and ensure that other Arab states followed suit.

      Not for the first time in recent months, an Iran which prided itself on anticipating the next step of its enemies and on outsmarting them, found itself wrong-footed by the Saudi move. Just as it was when Riyadh announced its military offensive against the Houthi takeover of Yemen, Iran still worked on old assumptions that Saudi Arabia moved cautiously and behind a bead curtain.

    • North Korea Claims It Just Detonated a Hydrogen Bomb For the First Time

      This doesn’t mean that North Korea has actually detonated a real hydrogen bomb, however, and experts are already suggesting that it’s unlikely the country has done what it claims. At least one U.S. official has already told ABC News that the U.S. does not believe North Korea has developed hydrogen bomb tech yet.

    • There’s No Evidence North Korea Has an H-Bomb–but NYT Knows Fear Sells Papers

      Fusion-based hydrogen bombs have more explosive power than nuclear fission bombs that rely on uranium or plutonium. “If the North Korean claim about a hydrogen bomb is true, this test was of a different, and significantly more threatening, nature,” the Times reports. It’s not made clear, though, what if anything North Korea could achieve by having a bomb that could destroy a city and its suburbs rather than just a city, or how the response by the US and its allies to such a threat would be in any way different.

    • Wednesday Morning: Otherwise Known as Mike-Mike-Mike Day

      NK’s Kim Jong Un later confirmed a “miniaturized hydrogen nuclear device” had been successfully tested. Governments and NGOs are now studying the event to validate this announcement. The explosion’s size calls the type of bomb into question — was this a hydrogen or an atomic weapon?

    • When Will China Finally Abandon the Loons in North Korea?

      There’s something a little hard to understand about China’s continued sponsorship of North Korea. Historically it’s easy enough to understand, but for the past couple of decades it’s surely been nothing but a huge millstone around their necks. Are they really that worried about problems on the border with North Korea? Would they really lose that much face if they abandoned North Korea for good? And surely that would be more than made up for by the goodwill it would generate with the West.

    • The Deceptive Debate Over What Causes Terrorism Against the West

      Ever since members of the U.K. Labour Party in September elected Jeremy Corbyn as party leader by a landslide, British political and media elites have acted as though their stately manors have been invaded by hordes of gauche, marauding serfs. They have waged a relentless and undisguised war to undermine Corbyn in every way possible, and that includes — first and foremost — the Blairite wing of his party, who have viciously maligned him in ways they would never dare do for David Cameron and his Tory followers.


      Beyond such studies, those who have sought to bring violence to Western cities have made explicitly clear that they were doing so out of fury and a sense of helplessness over Western violence that continuously kills innocent Muslims. “The drone hits in Afghanistan and Iraq, they don’t see children, they don’t see anybody. They kill women, children, they kill everybody,” Faisal Shahzad, the attempted Times Square bomber, told his sentencing judge when she expressed bafflement over how he could try to kill innocent people. And then there’s just common sense about human nature: if you spend years bombing, invading, occupying, and imposing tyranny on other people, some of them will want to bring violence back to you.

    • New ‘Jihadi John?’ ISIS Video Features English-Speaker

      For those who still don’t get why the War of Terror continues to fail after 14+ years, here is another lesson.

      We all remember “Jihadi John,” who of course was never called that except in the western media. John (real name: Mohammed Emwazi) was a British citizen who became radicalized, joined ISIS and went on to do horrible things, including beheadings. The media, in hand with the White House and Downing Street, fluffed this one loser guy up into an international super villain. So, when eventually the world’s most powerful nation finally killed him in November 2015 with million-dollars air sorties and drones, we were all supposed to go full-out-bin-Laden-celebration, on the road to victory over Islamic State, with a little old fashioned Wild West vengeance thrown in for the feel good.

      And so now guess what?

      There’s a new guy to replace Jihadi John. He doesn’t have a stupid nickname yet, so let’s be the first and call him Haji Hank. He executed five persons claimed to be British spies, creating the video you see above in the process.

    • Does the media say too much when reporting on terrorism?

      efore committing their heinous acts, terrorist-minded individuals will be sure to wipe out all the information on their cell phones after learning in the media how the damaged handsets found near the San Bernardino shootings in early December helped the FBI track a confidante. They may also decide not to use phone communication altogether after reading precise media reports on how, in January last year, Belgian police were able to kill two jihadists after intercepting suspicious calls originating in Athens. The same ill-intentioned individuals will tear to pieces their receipts after finding out in the mass media how French police linked one of the terrorists of the Paris bloodbath to Brussels, thanks to parking tickets issued in Molenbeek, a district in the Belgian capital.

    • ISIL/ Daesh Threatens to attack Saudi Arabia after Executions
  • Transparency Reporting

    • UK Government Spends Three Years And Large Sums Of Money To Avoid Revealing The Number ’13′

      Nothing very threatening there, you might think, but the UK government refused on the basis that disclosing this magic number would “impinge on cabinet collective decision-making”. So Buchanan appealed — first, to the Cabinet Office, the department he had made the request to, where he was turned down, and then to the UK Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), which oversees this whole area of government transparency.

    • Red tape and a three year FOI battle with Cabinet Office

      Journalism is, at least in part, the art of delivering new information in a timely manner.

      In which case, I have to admit a failure.

      It’s important to point out that I wasn’t wholly to blame, what with the government taking me to court and all that.

      Nonetheless what I’ve finally learned isn’t a story now – and probably wouldn’t have been when I thought it might have been.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife

    • Tensions flare over environmental threat of Canadian gold mine in Kyrgyzstan

      The remote Issyk Kul province in eastern Kyrgyzstan, on the border with China, is home to some of the most stunning vistas of the rugged Tian Shan mountain range that cuts through much of Central Asia. Mountain goats and endangered snow leopards roam the rocky slopes, while rare species of dandelion and wild tulip bloom in alpine meadows.

    • VW Lawyer
    • Here’s what David Cameron’s Flood Resilience Review must do

      This is starting to feel a bit like Groundhog Day. Two years ago, the UK experienced horrendous floods during its wettest winter ever. Back then, David Cameron charged Oliver Letwin with reviewing our flood defences. But his report was never published.

      Two years on, and the Met Office have just confirmed that December 2015 was the wettest month on record, ever. Storms Desmond, Eva and Frank broke new rainfall records and have devastated the North of England and Scotland with floods. And David Cameron has… ordered another flooding review, led by Oliver Letwin.

      This time, if the Government’s Flood Resilience Review is to be at all meaningful, it needs to tackle four crucial issues: climate change, land management, budgets and governance.

    • America’s Food System Could Be More Vulnerable to Climate Change Than We Thought

      For billions of people around the world, the most immediate threat posed by climate change is at the dinner table, as staple crops face a steadily worsening onslaught of drought, heat waves, and other extreme weather events. The United States certainly isn’t immune to these challenges; for proof, just look at California, where an unprecedented drought has cost the state’s agriculture industry billions.

      Still, the conventional thinking among many scientists is that developing countries, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa and Southeast Asia—where people are typically hit harder by food price spikes and generally more reliant on agriculture as a primary source of income—are the most vulnerable to food-related climate impacts.

      A paper published today in Nature may add a wrinkle to that assumption. Scientists often track the impact that an individual weather disaster has on crops (again, see California), but the new research takes it a step further.

    • Energy boost for Russia and neighbours

      Renewable energy could supply Russia and Central Asian countries with all the electricity they need by 2030 − and cut costs significantly at the same time.

    • Midwest Flooding Damage Assessment Imagery

      NOS’s National Geodetic Survey (NGS) continues to collect damage assessment imagery of flooding along the Mississippi and Arkansas River. A team of NOAA aviators began collecting the photographs on January 2, flying above the area at around 7,500 feet aboard NOAA’s King Air aircraft equipped with specialized remote-sensing cameras. Imagery is available online to view and download.

    • If Obama is a Climate Leader, Why Is US Oil Industry Booming?

      Despite President Barack Obama’s claims of climate leadership, the U.S. oil industry is booming under his watch.

      Bloomberg Business journalist Jennifer Dlouhy reported on Tuesday that “U.S. oil production has surged 82 percent to near-record levels in the past seven years and natural gas is up by nearly one-quarter.”

      The domestic fracking surge—a pillar of Obama’s “all of the above” energy policy—is key to this trend.

    • VP Kalla Slams Neighboring Countries Over Haze Complaints

      Vice President Jusuf Kalla has denounced neighboring Singapore and Malaysia for complaining about the severe haze caused every year by Indonesian forest fires. He said he took note of the way the neighboring countries had kept complaining when toxic haze from adjacent areas in Indonesia, Riau in particular, fouled their air.

      “For 11 months, they enjoyed nice air from Indonesia and they never thanked us. They have suffered because of the haze for one month and they get upset,” Kalla said on Tuesday.

      Environmental group Greenpeace Indonesia reported forest fires in Riau have worsened from 6,644 hotspots in 2011 to 15,112 hotspots in 2013.

    • Oklahoma Is Now the Earthquake Capital of America

      Earthquakes in Oklahoma increased by 50 percent in 2015, surpassing the previous year’s record and sounding new alarms over the risks of oil and gas operations like hydraulic fracturing, or fracking.

    • EPA Releases the First of Four Preliminary Risk Assessments for Insecticides Potentially Harmful to Bees

      The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced a preliminary pollinator risk assessment for the neonicotinoid insecticide, imidacloprid, which shows a threat to some pollinators. EPA’s assessment, prepared in collaboration with California’s Department of Pesticide Regulation, indicates that imidacloprid potentially poses risk to hives when the pesticide comes in contact with certain crops that attract pollinators.

  • Finance

    • VIDEO: Bernie Sanders Inveighs Against Wall Street in Major Address on Economic Policy Proposals

      We need a banking system that is part of the productive economy – making loans at affordable rates to small- and medium-sized businesses so that we create decent-paying jobs. Wall Street cannot continue to be an island unto itself, gambling trillions in risky financial instruments, making huge profits and assured that, if their schemes fail, the taxpayers will be there to bail them out.

    • Work less, play more

      Time is perhaps the most precious commodity of all. While we can buy more possessions and work new jobs, we can never make more time or recapture what has already been spent. But considering how much work dominates our lives, we question concepts around working and time relatively little.

      While paid employment can provide security, for many, jobs are a means of putting “food on the table” within a work culture that feels more enslaving than natural or joyful. But now there is growing recognition that traditional working patterns no longer serve us. More and more people are searching for freedom from bosses, wages, commuting and consuming, seeking instead the lives we truly want to lead.

    • Thomas Piketty Ran The Numbers On Income Inequality. Here’s What He Found.

      Some of the top experts on income inequality released a study of new, more accurate data this week, revealing that Americans in the top 1 percent have done far better than everyone else for the last half century — and why they’ve gotten so far ahead.

      At the American Economic Association conference this week, economists Emmanuel Saez, Gabriel Zucman, and Thomas Piketty released their preliminary research that uses a new analysis of tax, survey, and national accounts data. That’s more accurate, they say, than just looking at tax data, which misses huge chunks of the actual income people bring home.

    • The cracks begin to show: a review of the UK economy in 2015 (part one)
    • The cracks begin to show: a review of the UK economy in 2015 (part two)

      Thus, the ultra-flexible UK labour market (“with employers in the driving seat”, in the government’s own charming words) – to be enhanced by the repressive new Trade Union Act – has had the effect of causing productivity to fall.

    • Convincing the Young to Blame the Old, Not the Rich

      First, Rampell’s comparison is misleading, since there are few married couples with single breadwinners turning age 65. Most women have been in the workforce for the last four decades. If we look to the same study referenced by Rampell, and take the more typical case of a couple with an average earner and low earner, we find that the value of the Medicare benefit is roughly four times (rather than six) times the taxes paid.

      Most of the reason the value of Medicare benefits exceeds the value of the taxes paid is not the generosity of the benefits received by our seniors. The main cause is the fact that we pay our doctors twice as much as doctors in Canada, Germany and other wealthy countries. We also pay twice as much for our drugs and medical equipment. This is a case of upward redistribution from the rest of us to members of the 1 Percent. (Almost all doctors are in the richest 1 or 2 percent of the income distribution.) But rather than talking about how the rich raise the cost of our healthcare, Rampell wants us to be upset at seniors.

    • Surprise! Corporate America Is Throwing Down for the TPP

      American big business has now officially endorsed the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), giving many all the proof they need that the 12-nation deal—poised to be the largest ever—is bad news for people and the planet.

      An association of Chief Executive Officers known as the Business Roundtable (BRT) announced its formal backing on Tuesday, indicating that it plans to use its muscle to press Congress to approve the deal this year. In fact, BRT president John Engler told The Hill that the association wants the TPP to pass as quickly as possible—before the summer.

    • Ben Carson Has a Tax Plan!

      This is great! At a guess, your average zillionaire would have an effective tax rate of about 8 percent compared to about 20 percent today. Ka-ching!

    • Lots of Rich People Seem to Be in Tough Financial Straits

      I’m not sure what to make of this. Either there are a whole lot of rich people who manage their money really badly, or else this is some kind of statistical artifact. Or maybe rich people consider separate summer and winter getaway homes to be among the things they “need.” It’s a headscratcher.

    • How Bernie Sanders And Hillary Clinton Differ On Wall Street

      Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) unveiled a comprehensive financial reform plan in a speech Tuesday just a few miles from Wall Street itself, vowing to break up large financial institutions that pose a threat to the economy and complete the “unfinished business” of reform which began under President Obama.

    • Greece’s Varoufakis to Launch Pan-European Progressive Movement

      Hoping to show Europeans they have an alternative to the prevailing system of “authoritarianism” and austerity, former Greek finance minister Yanis Varoufakis has announced a new cross-continent movement with a “simple, common agenda:” To democratize Europe.

      The movement, known as the Democracy in Europe Movement 2025 (or DiEM 25), will be launched on February 9 at Berlin’s Volksbühne theater.

  • PR/AstroTurf/Lobbying

    • Ted Cruz Knows What His Followers Want

      The president is the one on the right, of course. He’s the menacing one who looks more like a stormtrooper than the actual Nazi, but still retains plausible deniability in case someone like me happens to point out the entirely coincidental resemblance. It comes to us courtesy of the Ted Cruz campaign, which is apparently fully adopting Trumpism as its guiding vision.

    • Ted Cruz: Obama Is Putting On Commando Gear And Coming For Your Guns
    • 2016 Will Be a Test for Super PACs

      What do Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump have in common? Pause for requisite awful hair joke. No really. From a campaign finance perspective, they have one distinctive thing in common: they have no Super PACs propping up their candidacies.

    • Would a privatised Channel 4 still be a serial risk-taker?

      Why do we care so much about Channel Four? After all, as a supplier (I’ve worked for Channel Four on and off since 1984, that’s, scarily, more than three decades) it can be truly infuriating. And, every few years, there’ll be an article in the broadsheets, or a session at Edinburgh, about how Channel Four ‘isn’t what it used to be’. But, isn’t that the point? It keeps changing and it’s always the same. It’s as much part of Britain and its media landscape as the BBC – and that’s saying something. It is the place where most of the new stuff happens – formats, styles of documentary, new shapes of different types of content. It’s one of the reasons networks all around the world see Britain as a player.

    • The Most Chilling Political Appointment That You’ve Probably Never Heard Of
  • Censorship

  • Privacy

    • An Open Letter to Mark Zuckerberg

      But why should any of us take relationship advice from you? Because you founded Facebook? That isn’t a qualification. Because you run a massively popular website and can broadcast such advice to millions (even through third-party news outlets)? That doesn’t automatically make it good advice. Our relationships, on any level, are not for you to judge. In this case, your so-called “advice” is worthy only of contempt. And so, in reponse I say:

      Piss off, you sexist hypocrite.

    • NSA hacked two key encryption chips

      None of the documents in the Snowden archive identify all or even most of the encryption standards that had been targeted, and there was a concern that if an attempt were made to identify one or two of them, it could mislead the public into believing that the others were safe. There also seemed to be a concern among some editors that any attempt to identify specific encryption standards would enable terrorists to know which ones to avoid.

    • UK mass surveillance ‘totalitarian’ and will ‘cost lives’, warns ex-NSA tech boss

      Planned surveillance laws in the UK are “totalitarian” and the bulk collection of people’s data makes people “more vulnerable” to terrorist attacks, a National Security Agency (NSA) whistleblower has said.

    • GCHQ mass spying will ‘cost lives in Britain,’ warns ex-NSA tech chief

      Plans by the UK’s Conservative government to legitimize the mass surveillance of Brits won’t work, and will cause lives to be lost to terrorism.

      That’s the view of a former senior US National Security Agency (NSA) staffer, who will sound off on blanket snooping at a parliamentary hearing this afternoon (Wednesday).

      William Binney, the former technical director of the NSA’s Analytic Services Office, will give evidence before the Investigatory Powers Bill committee, which is scrutinizing proposals to grant fresh spying powers to British agencies.

    • Neocons Protest US Spying on Israel

      U.S. neocons are livid over a report that U.S. intelligence spied on Israeli efforts to sabotage the Iran nuclear talks, though they are curiously silent on evidence that Israel spies on the U.S. Ex-CIA analyst Paul R. Pillar says it would be a mistake to let this pressure blind U.S. leaders on what Israel is up to.

    • The FBI’s ‘Unprecedented’ Hacking Campaign Targeted Over a Thousand Computers

      In the summer of 2015, two men from New York were charged with online child pornography crimes. The site the men allegedly visited was a Tor hidden service, which supposedly would protect the identity of its users and server location. What made the case stand out was that the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) had used a hacking tool to identify the IP addresses of the individuals.

      The case received some media attention, and snippets of information about other, related arrests started to spring up as the year went on. But only now is the true extent of the FBI’s bulk hacking campaign coming to light.

    • Selective outrage at NSA snooping

      The U.S. has been caught spying on foreign heads of state – again. And just as with the tapping of German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s cellphone, revealed in 2013 by the Edward Snowden documents, the target was the leader of a supposed ally: in this case, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

      Despite President Barack Obama’s promise two years ago to limit spying on heads of state of friendly nations, a Wall Street Journal report last week described National Security Agency spying on Mr. Netanyahu and other Israeli officials while the U.S. was negotiating a nuclear arms agreement with Iran and trying to sell the resultant agreement to a fairly skeptical Congress.

    • Why privacy is important, and having “nothing to hide” is irrelevant

      The governments of Australia, Germany, the UK and the US are destroying your privacy. Some people don’t see the problem…
      “I have nothing to hide, so why should I care?”

      It doesn’t matter if you have “nothing to hide”. Privacy is a right granted to individuals that underpins the freedoms of expression, association and assembly; all of which are essential for a free, democratic society.

    • UK Legislators Want To Toss Tech Company Officials In Jail If They Inform Users About Government Surveillance Efforts

      Default mode at tech companies these days is to inform users of government surveillance. Unless explicitly forbidden to do so, multiple companies have stated they will inform users of requests for data or suspected state-sponsored hacking attempts.

      The mechanisms inherent in US law usually prevent notification. Requests made by foreign governments, however, operate in a much grayer area. UK legislators are trying to close perceived loopholes with new legislation that would make it illegal to notify users of UK agencies’ requests for data.

    • UK government wants to send tech execs to jail for disclosing surveillance

      Ministers are lobbying to make it a criminal offense for a tech company to inform a user that the UK government is spying on them.

  • Civil Rights

    • New Zealand’s Raid On Investigatory Journalist Was Illegal

      This reminds me of the raids on Kim Dotcom’s house as well, which involved a bogus warrant. Though, in that case, the High Court, after admitting that the warrants were not drafted properly, decided they were “good enough.” Either way, those are the only two law enforcement raids in New Zealand, and both came under sketchy circumstances, where the police couldn’t be bothered to actually follow the rules. What’s going on down there?

    • Fox Host On Obama’s Emotional Response To Child Victims Of Gun Violence: “Check That Podium For A Raw Onion”
    • As Obama Issues Executive Orders, Gun Stocks Explode

      Stocks for two major gunmakers skyrocketed as President Obama unveiled a long-awaited series of executive orders intended to reduce gun violence.

      Gunmaker Smith & Wesson’s stock price closed at $25.86, higher than at any point in 2015. A year ago, on January 7th, 2015, it closed at just $9.93.

    • The Many Hypocrisies of the Oregon Standoff

      The militia members purportedly are “defending” father and son ranchers sentenced for two separate arsons of public lands. The corporate media has been portraying these arsons as some unfortunate accident, when the reality is quite different.


      The grandson, a ThinkProgress article reports, had good reason to “keep his mouth shut” out of fear of his family. He later told a sheriff’s deputy that he had been abused multiple times, being punished by blows, forced to eat cans full of chewing tobacco, being driven 10 miles away and forced to walk home, and after carving two letters into himself with a paper clip having the letters removed with sandpaper.

    • Hundreds rally against sexual violence after NYE attacks in Cologne

      Protesters held aloft a sign reading, “Arm Cologne” as up to 500 people rallied against attacks by members of the migrant community during the city’s New Year celebrations, and the authorities’ failure to stop dozens of sexual assaults which took place.

    • Why It’s Scary That the Mall of America Can Crush Dissent

      ON DECEMBER 23, the day before Christmas Eve, the United States’ largest mall moved to shut down a potentially landmark Black Lives Matter demonstration before it even really began.

      Management at the shopping center, Mall of America, located just outside Minneapolis, had stores lower their metal security gates about half an hour before the protest started, part of a “lockdown” that cleared shoppers from that wing of the mall. Only moments after Black Lives Matter organizers entered the mall’s east rotunda, the cousin of Jamar Clark, whose death at the hands of police was the center of the protest, was led away by a throng of police. Organizers directed demonstrators to exit the mall toward the light-rail station. As protesters walked out, the mall broadcast a looping announcement in a friendly Midwestern voice: “Mall of America is now going into lockdown. Seek shelter in the nearest store, and follow employee instructions.”

    • From Waco to Burns: Chicken Wings and Militiamen

      Nearly 25 years ago, on Feb. 28, 1993, preacher David Koresh and his 125 live-in congregants, the “Branch Davidians,” exchanged fire outside Waco with agents of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms. Six of their number and four ATFers were felled. After encircling it for 51 days, the FBI assaulted the Davidian compound, Mt. Carmel, with volatile CS gas and Army tanks, leading to a fire that took more than 80 lives, including those of two dozen children. In retribution for their deaths, thinking that his action would spark a revolution, “patriot” Timothy McVeigh on April 19, 1995 planted a fertilizer bomb at the curbside of the Murrah federal building in Oklahoma City, killing 168; again, some of the victims were toddlers. In anybody’s book, all of that was tragedy.

      But today’s standoff by armed “patriots,” “Constitutionalists” and “sovereign citizens” outside Burns, Ore., will most likely be in accord with Marx’s dictum that history first presents itself as tragedy—and then as farce.

      The practices and preconditions for another bloodbath are simply not present at the Malhueur National Wildlife Refuge, where a dozen buildings have been seized by a group that calls itself a militia.

      The apparent organizers of the occupation are Ammon and Ryan Bundy, sons of Cliven Bundy, who with a little help from his friends held federal forces at bay in Nevada in April, 2014. Ammon Bundy has proclaimed that “I know the Lord is involved” in the Oregon occupation, but neither he nor his brother, like Koresh, is a guru of a passionate church. Their accomplices are not in agreement about God, without whose blessing, it seems, few members of our species are today prepared to face martyrdom.

    • Judge Helps Ensure That The More Ignorant Law Enforcement Officers Are, The More They’ll Be Able To Get Away With

      Why? Because probable cause is whatever a cop says it is. This is an ongoing issue in states where marijuana has been partially legalized. In California, medical marijuana is legal. The cops can’t seem to deal with this new reality. So, they find bogus reasons to raid houses, relying on multiple law enforcement-friendly exceptions to the Fourth Amendment to keep their busts intact… or at least minimize the number of times judges will find them culpable for violations. Cops say “upon information and belief” and magistrate judges nod in approval.

  • Internet/Net Neutrality

    • HTTP/2.0 — The IETF is Phoning It In

      A very long time ago —in 1989 —Ronald Reagan was president, albeit only for the final 19½ days of his term. And before 1989 was over Taylor Swift had been born, and Andrei Sakharov and Samuel Beckett had died.

      In the long run, the most memorable event of 1989 will probably be that Tim Berners-Lee hacked up the HTTP protocol and named the result the “World Wide Web.” (One remarkable property of this name is that the abbreviation “WWW” has twice as many syllables and takes longer to pronounce.)

      Tim’s HTTP protocol ran on 10Mbit/s, Ethernet, and coax cables, and his computer was a NeXT Cube with a 25-MHz clock frequency. Twenty-six years later, my laptop CPU is a hundred times faster and has a thousand times as much RAM as Tim’s machine had, but the HTTP protocol is still the same.

    • IPv6 non-alternatives: DJB’s article, 13 years later

      With the world passing 10% IPv6 penetration over the weekend, we see the same old debates coming up again; people claiming IPv6 will never happen (despite several years now of exponential growth!), and that if they had only designed it differently, it would have been all over by now.

      In particular, people like to point to a 2002–3 article by D. J. Bernstein, complete with rants about how Google would never set up “useless IPv6 addresses” (and then they did that in 2007—I was involved). It’s difficult to understand exactly what the article proposes since it’s heavy on calling people idiots and light on actual implementation details (as opposed to when DJB’s gotten involved in other fields; e.g. thanks to him we now have elliptical curve crypto that doesn’t suck, even if the reference implementation was sort of a pain to build), but I will try to go through it nevertheless and show how I cannot find any way it would work well in practice.

  • Intellectual Monopolies


Links 5/1/2016: NVIDIA Shows Linux Some Love, Black Lab Enterprise Linux 8.0 DP3

Posted in News Roundup at 7:59 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish



Free Software/Open Source


  • Science

  • Hardware

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Residents Sue Over ‘Negligent’ Practices By Gas Company, As Pipeline Leak Goes Into Third Month

      For more than two months, methane has been escaping from a storage well in Los Angeles, causing the evacuation of thousands of homes and dumping more than six coal plants’ worth of greenhouse gas into the atmosphere.

      Now, residents are suing, alleging that Southern California Gas Company took out and never replaced a safety valve that could have shut off the leak, and generally failed to maintain the site.

    • Thousand of Californians Are Fleeing an Enormous Methane Leak. Here Are 8 Things You Need to Know.

      For more than two months, California has experienced a slow-moving environmental disaster: Methane leaking from a faulty natural gas well near Los Angeles neighborhood Porter Ranch has displaced thousands of families and is releasing the greenhouse gas equivalent of driving 7 million cars each day.

    • The GOP’s ‘First Priority Of 2016’ Is Pretending They Can Repeal Obamacare

      Republicans in Congress have wasted no time in establishing their lead battle of the new year: repealing Obamacare. House Speaker Paul Ryan calls it his “first priority of 2016,” and the Senate promises a bill repealing the health law will hit President Barack Obama’s desk no later than Tuesday.

      For now, the GOP’s threat is purely symbolic. Obama will undoubtedly veto any move to quash his landmark health care law. But, with an election on the horizon, this may be the point. This is the first time that a bill seeking to repeal Obamacare will actually reach the White House — and, for conservative members of Congress, the fact that a bill will make it that far is a success.

    • Organic Farmers Score New Victory in ‘David and Goliath’ GMO Fight

      Jackson County, Oregon wins new protections against cultivation of genetically engineered crops

  • Security

  • Defence/Police/Secrecy/Aggression

    • Bribery over Humanity: The UK, Saudi Arabia and the UN Human Rights Council

      Wither human rights – especially when it comes to strategic partnerships. The UK-Saudi Arabia relationship has been one of a seedier sort, filled with military deals, mooted criticism and hedging. When given the John Snow treatment as to what Britain’s role behind securing Saudi Arabia its position on the UN Human Rights Council was, Prime Minister David Cameron fenced furiously before embellishing Riyadh’s value in its relations with the West.

    • Ottawa going ahead with Saudi arms deal despite condemning executions

      But the biggest Saudi mass execution in decades – delivered by beheading and in a few cases firing squad – is not moving Ottawa to reconsider a massive deal to supply the Mideast country with armoured fighting vehicles. The transaction will support about 3,000 jobs in Canada for 14 years.

    • Canada Condemns Saudi Executions, But Arms Sales Speak Louder Than Words

      Despite condemning Saudi Arabia’s recent mass executions and raising concerns about human rights abuses, the Canadian government said this week it is moving forward with a controversial $15 billion weapons sale to the Gulf state.

      Reportedly Canada’s largest-ever arms export contract, the deal was confirmed amid growing condemnation of ongoing western support for Saudi Arabia, despite mounting evidence of atrocities committed by the state, from neighboring Yemen to its own soil.

    • The Refugee Conundrum

      This past summer, Germany suspended the Dublin regulation, requiring refugees to remain in their port of entry, unfairly burdening certain countries with a staggering number of refugees.

    • US Enabled Saudi Arabia’s Crackdown on Pro-Democracy Protesters

      Just days before Saudi Arabia performed a mass execution of 47 people, including four pro-democracy protesters; the US approved tens of millions in military contracts to the Saudi government. The contracts include $24 million to Raytheon Company for equipment relating to Patriot missiles, $12 million to Advanced Electronics Co. for electronics updates to F-15 fighter jets, and tens of millions of dollars to Boeing Co. for implementation of a laser guided, air-to-ground weapons system.

    • Iraqi Shiites up in Arms, claim Saudi “Spying on behalf of ISIL/Daesh”

      Saudi Arabia’s execution on Saturday of prominent Shiite cleric Nimr Baqir al-Nimr has so far not created a crisis between Riyadh and the Shiite-dominated Baghdad government. But Saudi Arabia’s name with the rank and file Shiites and parliamentary backbenchers is mud.

      On Tuesday, thousands (or perhaps only hundreds) of demonstrators from the Muqtada al-Sadr bloc came out in front of the walled-in Green Zone to demand that the Saudi embassy be closed. Alarmed, al-Jubeir called his counterpart, expressing fears that the mission might be overwhelmed by angry crowds. The Iraqi foreign minister, Ibrahim Jaafari, pledged to Riyadh that his government would protect the Saudi embassy. Contrary to some reports, it has not been attacked.

    • Saudi Arabia, Our Great and Good Ally

      One way or another, there’s not much question that this was a calculated move by Saudi Arabia. They knew how Iran would react—and they hoped that it might scuttle the Syrian peace talks, maybe the Iranian nuclear deal too, and at the very least, create some chaos that they could take advantage of.

      Ladies and gentlemen, this is our great and good ally. They flog apostates. They export Sunni extremism. They treat women as chattel. They flog and imprison gays. They import slave labor from abroad. They have no truck with freedom of religion or freedom of speech. Their royal family is famously corrupt. And they really, really want to start up a whole bunch of wars that they would very much like America to fight for them.

    • The Saudis Go Full ISIS

      Saudi Arabia has perpetrated a mass execution that puts ISIS’s beach beheadings to shame. Forty-seven heads rolled on Saturday. One of them belonged to Nimr al-Nimr, a revered Shi’ite cleric who had been sentenced to death for sermons in which he criticized the government (especially for its persecution of the country’s Shi’ite minority). His brother has been sentenced to be crucified.

    • US Should Stop Supporting Likely Saudi War Crimes

      Yemen is a small, poor, and insignificant (from the perspective of US vital interests) country just South of Saudi Arabia. It doesn’t even produce much oil; but of course Saudi Arabia does – and that’s why the Saudis are getting so much US support, despite Saudi Arabia’s despicable foreign and domestic policies. The US government ousts dictators in Iraq and Libya and loudly criticizes Iran’s bad human rights policies; in contrast, the United States mutes its criticism of Saudi Arabia’s atrocious human rights record, sweeps under the under the rug that the 9/11 attackers were mostly Saudi nationals, and ignores that Saudi Arabia is the biggest exporter of militant Sunni Islamism by its support for radical schools around the Islamic world. Why does the world’s only superpower tolerate a major ally supporting potential US enemies (the US has the same toleration for Pakistan doing a similar thing)?

    • US Military Leadership Resisted Obama’s Bid for Regime Change in Syria, Libya

      Seymour Hersh’s recent revelations about an effort by the US military leadership in 2013 to bolster the Syrian army against jihadist forces in Syria shed important new light on the internal bureaucratic politics surrounding regime change in US Middle East policy. Hersh’s account makes it clear that the Obama administration’s policy of regime change in both Libya and Syria provoked pushback from the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS).

    • Does Bernie Sanders’ Imperialism Matter?

      When Sanders attempted to frame Hillary as “pro-regime change” in relation to the catastrophe she created in Libya, Hillary pointed out that Sanders voted “yes” to support that regime change. As the war machine rolled into Libya Sanders wasn’t a speed bump; he was a lubricant. Clinton and Sanders both have Libyan blood on their hands.

      Sanders has Afghan blood on his hands too, having voted for the invasion of the now-endless Afghan war that triggered the beginning of the flurry of Middle East wars. And while Sanders brags about voting “no” for the 2003 Iraq war, his vote soon morphed into a “yes,” by his several votes for the ongoing funding of the war/occupation.

      Sanders also voted “yes” for the U.S.-led NATO destruction of Yugoslavia, and supports the brutal Israeli military regime that uses U.S. weapons to slaughter Palestinians.

      When it was announced that Obama was choosing sides and funneling guns to the Syrian rebels — thus exacerbating and artificially extending the conflict — Bernie was completely silent; a silence that helped destroy Syria and lead to the biggest refugee crisis since World War II.

    • Saudi Arabia ‘Torpedoes’ American Middle East Policy With Execution Of Shia Cleric

      The execution of Nimr has already raised sectarian tensions in the Middle East between Iran, a country ruled by Shia Ayatollahs, and a few Sunni-majority states. The execution led to protests by Shia in Baghdad, Al Awamiyah in Saudi Arabia, Srinagar and Lucknow in India, and Tehran. A crowd stormed and torched the Saudi embassy in Tehran over the weekend, leading Sunni-ruled states Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Sudan, and Bahrain to suspend diplomatic ties with Iran.

    • Donald Trump Displays Profound Foreign Policy Incoherence on O’Reilly Factor

      First off, the US is already plenty involved in Yemen, with more than a billion dollars in sales of munitions (including internationally-banned cluster bombs) to the Saudis, as well the use of US military personnel offering direct “targeting assistance” for the relentless Saudi-led bombing campaign against the Iranian-backed Houthi rebels who overthrew the Saudi-backed Yemeni government last year.

    • Agh Scary Dark Hordes Are Coming!

      So fetid real Donald Trump has released his first TV ad, a stunningly unsavory mess of race-baiting, fear-mongering and lies that highlights the long, dark, mournful plunge this country has taken from our better angels. The grainy=sinister black and white ad begins with images of Obama and Hillary quickly and subtly morphing into photos of the San Bernardino shooters – get it?!? – and goes downhill from there. The real Trump says Muslim terrorists are everywhere which is why we need a “temporary shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until we can figure out what’s going on” – the most coherent policy proposal and Bestest Line Ever – and then Donald will “quickly cut the head off ISIS and take their oil,” even though actually it’s not theirs, and then he’ll “stop illegal immigration by building a wall on our southern border that Mexico will pay for.” This promise is accompanied by overhead video of ant-like brown folks swarming toward a wall that turns out to be Moroccan migrants trying to cross the border into Spanish territory in 2014; his campaign said “No shit, but that’s what our country is going to look like” – even though actually illegal immigration has steadily dropped – and the “Pants on Fire” lie was “1,000% on purpose,” so it’s all good. Or, umm, not.

    • Pentagon Slush Fund is Draining the Economy and Militarizing Foreign Policy

      Late last year, Congress authorized $514 billion in baseline defense spending for fiscal year 2016. However, on top of the baseline budget, another $59 billion was authorized for the war budget, also known as the Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) fund. These budgets combined give the Pentagon a total of $573 billion to spend this fiscal year.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife

    • Power Imbalances in Ukraine

      The western press is ginning up alarm because hackers caused a power outage in Ukraine.


      While the physical attack did get coverage, there seemed to be little concern about the implications of an attack aiming to undercut Russian control of the peninsula. Whereas here, the attack is treated as illegitimate and a purported new line in the sand.

    • US gives meat producers a pass on climate change emissions

      If the Paris climate pact is going to succeed at staving off climate change disaster, the 195 participating countries will need to achieve a difficult feat – trust.

      Yet the U.S. government already is failing to implement its own rules on tracking emissions. It is not collecting emission reports from one of the country’s largest sources of greenhouse gases: meat production.

    • ‘Volcanic’ Porter Ranch Gas Leak May Take Months to Close

      The gas leak in Porter Ranch, California that has been pumping tens of thousands of kilograms of methane into the air every hour since October 23 may take months to close up, according to state officials.

      Thousands of residents in the San Fernando Valley community, roughly 30 miles northwest of Los Angeles, have been forced to relocate due to health problems caused by the fumes—including, in some cases, bleeding eyes and gums.

      However, officials recently announced that fixing the broken pipe will take more time than initially planned, with emergency crews unlikely to finish closing it up before March or April due to unexpected safety concerns.

      Methane emissions are up to 87 times more polluting than carbon dioxide over a 20-year span. Advocates for the residents warned there could be untold public health consequences, while environmentalists note that the size of the leak, which continues full force, is roughly a quarter of California’s total annual methane emissions.

    • Sanders Blasts Trump On Weird Climate Change Claim

      Bernie Sanders is apparently fed up with Donald Trump’s offhand and often outlandish claims. On Monday night, the Democratic candidate blasted Trump’s claim that climate change is a hoax perpetrated by the Chinese.

      “What an insight,” the independent senator from Vermont told the audience at a New Hampshire rally. “How brilliant can you be? The entire scientific community has concluded that climate change is real and causing major problems, and Trump believes that it’s a hoax created by the Chinese. Surprised it wasn’t the Mexicans.”

    • Tomgram: Engelhardt, The Fate of Our Earth

      It’s clear that neither of these true terrors of our planet and our age has to happen (or at least, in the case of climate change, come to full fruition). To ensure that, however, we and our children and grandchildren would have to decide that the fate of our Earth was indeed at stake and act accordingly. We would have to change the world.

  • Finance

    • Trade negotiators won’t face the truth: investors don’t need special treatment

      The year started with a bang in the trade world. The Commission published initial findings from a 2014 public consultation on the reform of ISDS, or investor-state dispute settlement. The report found that less than 3% of the 150,000 participants supported this reform agenda. The remaining 97% opposed either ISDS reform or the mechanism altogether.

    • How The TPP Is Trouble: Public Interest Explicitly Tossed In Favor Of Corporate Interests

      Michael Geist is counting down the days to when the TPP can first be signed in the US (February 4th) by going through and highlighting problematic aspects of the agreement. He’s started with the simple fact that the TPP’s intellectual property section is explicitly designed to favor corporations over the public. We’ve obviously discussed some of this ourselves, such as the fact that the only reference to things like the public’s rights (such as fair use) is to recommend that countries consider them, but when it comes to stronger copyright and patents, the TPP requires them.

    • Wall Street Kicks Off 2016 With a Faceplant

      While the proximate cause of the current turbulence is China’s flagging manufacturing sector, the underlying reasons are even more important, like the dismal state of the US economy which continues to languish in a long-term coma. Here’s a brief recap from economist Jack Rasmus at CounterPunch:

    • Why Sanders’ Economic Plan Is Best For The 99 Percent

      Sanders would increase the public investments in jobs-creating infrastructure by $1 trillion over the same five-year period – creating one million new jobs, while helping to retool the U.S. economy to reduce carbon emissions.

    • ‘Break Em Up!’: Sanders Speech Takes Aim at Big Bank Greed
    • U.S. Laws Criminalizing Sleeping in Public Have Grown as Much as 60 Percent in Just a Few Years

      There is a war on, and it concerns the homeless’ right to sleep. Across the United States, recent years have seen a spate of municipal laws that criminalize the act of sleeping in public places. These laws often target the act of sleeping in private vehicles under the guise of “anti-camping” legislation.

    • People My Age Have Had Their Aspirations Crushed by Austerity – It’s Time to Change That

      We know the devastating impact austerity has had on our most vulnerable, but what we don’t talk about is how it has resulted in crushed aspirations for a whole generation.

    • Ghoulish Wall Street Speculators Pour Money Into Gun Companies

      Even before President Obama began explaining a slate of executive actions to tighten background checks for gun buyers on Tuesday morning, Wall Street speculators delivered a late Christmas present to gun manufacturers.

      Stocks in Smith & Wesson and competitor Sturm Ruger leapt dramatically in morning trading as investors flocked to the firms, anticipating that gun sales will spike in response to the modest tightening of background check rules.

    • Top bosses will earn ‘more than UK average salary’ by end of today

      Top FTSE 100 bosses will have earned more money by Tuesday afternoon than the average British worker will do in the entire year, a think tank has claimed.

      The High Pay Centre (HPC) compared the earnings of top executives with the average salary of UK workers and found that bosses would only need to work 22 hours to reach the median full-time employee salary.

    • Happy 2016! These CEOs Have Already Banked An Average Worker’s Salary

      By lunchtime Monday, Canada’s top chief executives had already banked an average worker’s annual salary.

      To put that another way, in 2014, the country’s top-paid CEOs took home 184 times as much as the average Canadian worker, according to an annual report on publicly-traded companies released Monday by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives.

      According to the report, the average take-home for a CEO in the country was $8.96 million, accumulated through salaries, stock options, bonuses, and share grants. Meanwhile, the average worker earned a total of $48,636, while the average minimum wage worker got $22,010.

    • Who’s Being Fined? Not Corporate Criminals

      One way to check on government action against corporate crime is to type into Google News the word “fined.”

      Who is getting fined for wrongdoing?

      Five years or so ago, if you did this, you would get a smattering of corporate criminals on the first page.

      But let’s look and see what we get today.

      First story up out of the NBA — Paul George, Marcus Morris fined for Saturday’s altercation.

      Second story up also out of the NBA — Bucks’ Mayo fined $25,000 by NBA for dispute with referee.

      Then you have a story out of Thailand — Western tourists fined for flashing their breasts on Thai island of Phuket.

    • The ‘Pink Tax’ Is a Myth

      During the height of holiday shopping season, a consumer report stoked ample ill-will toward American manufacturers after purporting to show that women’s products are priced higher for completely arbitrary reasons. This so-called “pink tax,” said the New York City Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA), affects almost every product marketed at American females, “from cradle to cane.”

    • Dow Plunges 276 Points in First Trading Day of 2016

      Global stocks kicked off 2016 with a stumble, as a disappointing report on China’s economy rekindled concerns over slowing global growth and tempered hopes for a better year.

    • Forget the Market Plunge. This Year, the Global People Plunge Continues

      Though global stocks peformed gymnastics on Monday, the real problem for working- and middle-class people: The economy is rigged.

    • The Economy in 2016: On the Edge of Recession

      Consider: The median wage is 4 percent below what it was in 2000, adjusted for inflation. The median wage of young people, even those with college degrees, is also dropping, adjusted for inflation. That means a continued slowdown in the rate of family formation—more young people living at home and deferring marriage and children – and less demand for goods and services.

  • PR/AstroTurf/Lobbying

    • O’Reilly Lets Trump Off The Hook For His Misleading TV Ad That Misrepresented US Southern Border
    • 12 Craziest Things About Trump’s Spokeswoman Katrina Pierson

      Pierson’s most recent act of provocation was wearing a necklace of bullets for a CNN interview, to show her love and support for the NRA. When she was criticized, she said she’d wear a necklace of fetuses next time, to bring “awareness to 50 million aborted people that will never [get] to be on Twitter.” She did not stop there, adding “the liberals freaking out about my accessories are sexist. They only approve of women in pantsuits and jackets. Oh, and tampon earrings.” That last bit was a reference to MSNBC host Melissa Harris-Perry’s unusual accessories in a July 2013 broadcast.

    • Debate Schedule Is Allowing GOP To Frame Election Narrative

      The last Democratic presidential debate was buried on a Saturday night up against the opening of Star Wars. Naturally it drew a fraction of earlier Republican debate audiences – and even of the earlier Democratic debates. The next debate is scheduled, astonishingly, on a Sunday night, January 17, the middle day of a three-day weekend. But just in case that might still draw an audience, it is also up against NFL playoff games. What is going on?

    • Jeb Bush May Seek a Campaign Boost From His “Very Popular” Brother

      With Hillary Clinton bringing her husband (and 42nd US president) Bill Clinton on the campaign trail with her in New Hampshire, Jeb Bush may soon follow suit with his presidential kin. The former Florida governor appeared on Fox & Friends Tuesday morning, and host Brian Kilmeade asked whether he would follow Clinton’s lead and recruit his brother, former president George W. Bush, to boost his struggling campaign for the Republican presidential nomination.

  • Censorship

    • Schools’ PC censorship strangles the free mind

      In the face of spiraling campus demands for trigger warnings, safe spaces, mandatory diversity training and sanctions against offensive words, some pundits are asking where today’s college students learned to be so fearful of competing viewpoints.

      One answer that has escaped scrutiny could lie in our public schools, where principals and school boards too often fail to teach and respect students’ speech rights.

      Writing in 1943, while the nation was at war, in a case on the right of students to refuse to say the Pledge of Allegiance, Justice Robert Jackson proclaimed that individual rights must be respected even in grade schools “if we are not to strangle the free mind at its source.”

    • Turkey Has Released VICE News Journalist Mohammed Rasool On Bail

      VICE News journalist Mohammed Ismael Rasool has been released on bail in Turkey after spending more than four months behind bars on terrorism charges.

      Rasool was detained alongside two VICE News colleagues on August 27 and sent to a maximum security prison.

      A document issued by a court in Diyarbakir stated that no bail payment was made, that Rasool was detained “as a protective measure,” and he cannot leave the country. He must also report twice a week to a police station near where he lives.

    • US Copyright Office Asks For Public Comments On DMCA’s Notice And Takedown

      What comes out of this may certainly be interesting, but it’s not difficult to predict that there will be two huge piles of responses that are more or less diametrically opposed: a group of content creators who are obsessed with the fact that they have to send takedown notices and that their works still keep popping up will complain about all of this, and say that the notice and takedown process is too onerous for content creators, and that we should move instead to a world where platforms have to pro-actively monitor things, such as with a “notice and staydown” procedure. On the flip side, you’ll have plenty of people and internet platforms talking about how onerous things are from the other side: platforms are inundated with piles of requests, many of which are completely bogus, but which companies often feel compelled to take down to avoid liability. And end users face tons of censorship due to bogus and abusive takedowns.

    • ‘ISIS New Years Eve Terror Plot’ Story Is Totally Bogus

      Another major holiday, another sensational ISIS terror plot the FBI takes credit for preventing. This time, the case splashed across the news is that of Emanuel Lutchman, a 25-year-old panhandler in Rochester, New York who allegedly plotted to attack a restaurant on New Years Eve. All major network broadcasts lead with the story and it was breathlessly featured everywhere from The New York Times to CNN. There’s only one problem: the way the story is being presented is wildly inaccurate and in many ways factually false.

      Like almost all 11th hour FBI terror busts, the only thing the media has to go off is a DOJ criminal complaint that’s released to the press. Statements from the accused or their lawyer very rarely reach the public. And he criminal complaint and FBI press release are framed to deliberately deceive the media.

      Let’s run down some of the key claims made by the media and why they’re either factually incorrect or misleading.

  • Privacy

  • Civil Rights

    • Man Charged With Planning (Non-) Attack on Behalf of ISIS

      New York governor Andrew Cuomo said in an interview that “the arrest of Emanuel Lutchman is an important reminder of the new normal of global terrorism.”

    • Out of Options, California Ships Hundreds of Troubled Children Out of State

      At 14, Deshaun Becton’s life is a roadmap to California’s faltering efforts to care for its most troubled children.

      Over more than a dozen turbulent years, he lived with a half-dozen foster families and in five different group homes. Now he is among the more than 900 children that California sends to out-of-state residential facilities, most of them in Utah, a ProPublica analysis shows.

      Each of these children represents a surrender of sorts: a tacit acknowledgement that California — the nation’s biggest and, by some measures, richest state — somehow has no good answer for them.

    • Children Caught In Sweep as Feds Begin Mass Deportations
    • More Than 120 Central Americans Taken Into Custody In Large-Scale Deportation Raid

      Don’t open your door. Ask for a warrant when a stranger knocks on your door. Memorize the phone numbers of relatives and lawyers.

      These are just some of the pieces of advice that immigrant advocates have been giving Central Americans who entered the country after May 2014, now that the Obama administration has begun an aggressive immigration operation targeting them for deportation in the new year.

      Over the weekend, at least 121 Central American individuals primarily from Texas, Georgia, and North Carolina were taken into custody and are now in the process of being repatriated to their countries of origin.

    • Cliven Bundy’s Neverending War

      A year and a half after television news crews departed Cliven Bundy’s Nevada ranch, the revolution he hoped to spark against federal stewardship of public lands is still going. But it’s hard to say it’s going strong.

    • It’s Not Just Militia Members Who Want to Take Over Federal Land

      Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) has also endorsed state or private control of federal land. “You run into problems now with the federal government being, you know, this bully,” Paul told a crowd in June before meeting with Cliven Bundy, the Nevada rancher who refused to pay more than $1 million in fees for grazing his cattle on federal land. The meeting, Bundy said, helped show Paul “the difference between Cliven Bundy’s stand and Ken Ivory’s stand.” Bundy’s son Ammon is currently leading the armed occupation in Oregon.

    • The Rule Of Law No Longer Exists In Western Civilization — Paul Craig Roberts

      Bundy and militiamen, whose count varies from 15 to 150 in the presstitute media, have seized an Oregon office of the BLM as American liberty’s protest against the frame-up of the Hammonds on false charges. As I write the Oregon National Guard and FBI are on the way.

    • The Bundy Siege is a Wake-Up Call: American Extremists Are Getting Desperate and Dangerous

      Something scary is happening in the so-called libertarian west. Armed terrorists have taken over a federal building in Oregon. By now, you know the story, even as it plays out in real time. It’s an escalation of an ongoing battle that started with the Cliven Bundy Ranch fiasco, wherein a gutless Federal government let a bunch of armed kooks run roughshod over basic law enforcement. Bundy refused to pay his grazing fees, and instead decided to make his private profit with stolen public resources, threatening violence if authorities attempted to correct his infractions. This latest dustup is superficially about a couple of ranchers given five-year prison sentences for setting fires that destroyed public land, but that is only a flimsy pretext; this is another round of antisocial behavior by a group of (mostly) men who are watching the decline—if not outright elimination—of their power and influence in the west.

    • What’s Wrong With Laughing & Labeling Oregon Militants “Terrorists”

      There are others, who have made similar funny remarks. Cliff Schechter, a Daily Beast columnist, suggests, “Could be much worse. Could be group of 12 year-old African American kids wielding toy guns in Oregon. Then we’d use napalm.” And various others believe they are clever as they compose variations of, when will leaders in the White community renounce this violence?

      I have a joke of my own. Good thing these militants aren’t in North Waziristan. Otherwise, President Kill List would have an armed drone flying over their heads faster than one could say white caliphate.

      However, there is one issue with all of this humor: it is predicated on concepts of identity, which are reinforced through disproportionate actions of the State.

      The language is a product of understandable frustration and cynicism toward a government, which fails to apply a system designed to fight “terrorism” equally against all people regardless of their skin color or religion. It is rooted in a powerlessness, a recognition that there is no movement to meaningfully unravel a system, which fuels the disparity in law enforcement. But the target appears to be the government for failing to criminalize all people to the same extent as the government would criminalize brown or black people, who engaged in similar acts.

    • These Two Photos Are Worth a Million Words in Explaining Oregon Militia Leader Blain Cooper

      These two photos are pretty much all you need to know about the leader of the armed white men who have taken over the federal building in Oregon, a group the Internet has dubbed Y’all Qaeda.

    • Terrorism, American Style

      We in America thus must deal with the unfortunate fact that domestic terrorism is becoming a serious national security threat, greatly helped by the provocative rhetoric of the leading Republican presidential candidates. Since 9/11, “non-Islamic extremists” actually account for more lives lost than “Islamic extremists,” by 48 to 45. Yet, this predominantly white, male, Christian terrorism invariably escapes being labeled as such. Instead, the mass media uses more polite language, such as “militia men” and “armed activists”—words that probably would not be applied if the terrorists were American Indians, African Americans, Jews, or of course Muslims. As Janell Ross writesin the Washington Post, “The descriptions of events in Oregon appear to reflect the usual shape of our collective assumptions about the relationship between race and guilt—or religion and violent extremism—in the United States.”

    • Take a Bite Out of Crime

      Henderson, Nevada, officials have agreed to pay $13,000 to settle a lawsuit brought by the family of a 17-month-old girl mauled by a police dog.

    • Confusion, language barrier contribute to Henderson police dog biting child — VIDEO
    • Who Killed Sammy Younge Jr.? SNCC, Vietnam, and the Fight for Racial Justice

      Issued more than a year before Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s famous Riverside Church speech against the war, SNCC faced repercussions for its dissent. For example, the Georgia legislature denied SNCC spokesperson and elected state representative Julian Bond his seat because he stood by the statement. As he fought for his elected office, Bond wrote an educational comic book on the history of U.S. involvement in Vietnam and the connection between the struggles of the Vietnamese and the struggles of African Americans for self-determination and human rights.

    • Attacks on Hoffman Report From Military Psychologists Obfuscate Detainee Abuse

      In the wake of the July 2015 Hoffman Report, which found that the American Psychological Association (APA) colluded with the Department of Defense (DOD) to ensure that no APA policy would constrain psychologists’ participation in DOD’s “enhanced interrogation” program, the APA Council of Representatives passed an historic ban on the involvement of psychologists in national security interrogations and at detention sites that operate outside or in violation of international law, including Guantánamo Bay Detention Center.

    • “Speed Trap Town” Dissolves Entire Police Dept After Years of Officials Getting Rich from Fines

      Despite issuing and collecting a record number of traffic fines, the money from those fines never found its way to the village bank account. The clerk of courts and the deputy clerk of courts, with the help of the ticket writing cops, enriched themselves to the tune of $260,000 before they were finally caught in October.

    • Report Finds Juvenile Program Failed to Reduce Robberies, but Police Are Expanding It

      For years, the New York Police Department has tried to stop robberies before they might happen by intervening in the lives of some young offenders. The approach was heralded by the author Malcolm Gladwell in a best-selling 2013 book as an innovative way to shake up the criminal justice process. Elected leaders gave $2 million over the last two years in support.

    • Upholding Power of the People, Court Says Voters Can Weigh In on Citizens United

      When it ruled Monday that California lawmakers can ask for voters’ opinions on campaign-spending laws, the state Supreme Court underscored “that the ultimate power of our government is vested in the people,” Common Cause senior vice president Karen Hobert Flynn declared in the wake of the decision.

      By upholding the legality of Proposition 49—which would ask voters whether Congress should propose an amendment overturning the 2010 U.S. Supreme Court decision known as Citizens United—the court spoke “directly to the question we have faced since the Citizens United ruling,” Hobert Flynn continued. “Are we a democracy of, by, and for the people, or are we to be ruled by an elite, moneyed class, where the power of government rests in the hands of a few wealthy special interests?”

    • California Supreme Court backs advisory ballot measures

      The unprecedented legal test stems from Proposition 49, a measure removed from the November 2014 ballot by the state’s high court that sought voter views on whether Congress should be asked to overturn the U.S. Supreme Court’s controversial 2010 Citizens United ruling on unlimited independent campaign spending.

    • California Supreme Court Says Voters Can Advise on Citizens United

      A California Supreme Court ruling will let the state’s voters offer their collective opinion on political campaign financing. The court decision, which was handed down Monday, allows Californians to urge their members of Congress to pass a constitutional amendment overturning Citizens United.

    • Conservatives Mock Obama For Crying About Child Victims Of Gun Violence During Speech

      Several conservative media figures attacked President Obama for crying as he spoke about child victims during a speech detailing executive actions designed to reduce gun violence.

    • ISIS’ War On Children

      Grace “Khadija” Dare’s camo-clad child might be one of the youngest to appear in an ISIS propaganda video, but the militant group has been eerily inclusive when it comes to children. Perhaps more than any other militant group, ISIS has made children into war machines. Children have long been brainwashed, drugged, and threatened children into picking up arms. ISIS has elevated their place in conflicts, given them revered roles as trained executioners, guards, and recruiters. The United Nations has confirmed that children as young as 12 are being trained by ISIS.

    • You Can’t Report Truthfully on Israel Without Facing Its Wrath

      Makarim Wibisono has announced his resignation as UN special rapporteur on human rights in the occupied Palestinian territories, the position I held for six years until June 2014.

      The Indonesian diplomat says that he could not fulfill his mandate because Israel has adamantly refused to give him access to the Palestinian people living under its military occupation in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

      “Unfortunately, my efforts to help improve the lives of Palestinian victims of violations under the Israeli occupation have been frustrated every step of the way,” Wibisono explains.

      His resignation reminds me in a strange way of Richard Goldstone’s retraction a few years ago of the main finding in the UN-commissioned Goldstone report, that Israel intentionally targeted civilians in the course of Operation Cast Lead, its massive attack on Gaza at the end of 2008.

    • Entire Florida Police Dept Busted Laundering Tens of Millions for International Drug Cartels

      The latest revelations show that at least 20 people in Venezuela were sent drug money from the Florida cops, including William Amaro Sanchez, the foreign minister under Hugo Chavez and now special assistant to President Nicolas Maduro.

      They wired a total of $211,000 to Sanchez, even while the U.S. government was investigating Venezuelan government leaders involved in the drug trade. Instead of reporting their knowledge of Sanchez to federal agencies, the cops went on laundering money, taking their cut, and all the while aiding Sanchez in his machinations, which likely included political corruption.

    • Cologne sex attacks: Merkel disgust at New Year gang assaults

      Women have made at least 90 criminal complaints to police about the harassment by gangs at Cologne’s main railway station on Thursday night.

      Germans have been shocked by the scale of the attacks, involving many groups of drunk and aggressive young men.

      Witnesses and police said the men were of Arab or North African appearance.

      Mrs Merkel called Cologne Mayor Henriette Reker on Tuesday and expressed her “outrage over these disgusting attacks and sexual assaults”.

      The chancellor said everything must be done “to find the perpetrators as quickly and comprehensively as possible and punish them, regardless of their origin or background”.

      Up to 300 women demonstrated against the violence near the scene of the attacks on Tuesday evening. One placard read: “Mrs Merkel! Where are you? What do you say? This alarms us!”

      There is an intense debate in Germany about refugees and migrants, who arrived in record numbers last year. But Mayor Reker urged people not to jump to conclusions about the Cologne assailants.

      “It’s completely improper… to link a group that appeared to come from North Africa with the refugees,” she said, after crisis talks with the police.

    • Two Arab-Israeli passengers deplane following demands of Israelis on-board

      “The whole episode , which did indeed delay the flight for more than 1 hour and 30 minutes, is indeed very unfortunate and we are grateful that the two Israeli passengers affected did agree to fly the next day. We thank again the two Israeli passengers that agreed to disembark for their understanding and collaboration and we apologize for the whole episode which was indeed extremely unfortunate.”

      The Director of Amnesty International in Israel Yonatan Gher said the incident on the plane reflected the Israeli government’s incitement against the Arab Israeli community following the Tel Aviv shooting attack last week in which two people were killed.

    • Imagine If They Were Black: How Oregon Reveals the Real Story About Race and Whiteness in America

      I recently wrote two pieces on white privilege and the occupation of federal property in Oregon by a gun-toting terrorist insurrectionist “militia” that is led by the sons of Cliven Bundy—the Nevada rancher who, with the aid of an armed group of anti-government protesters, stood down federal authorities in 2014 because he did not want to pay his back taxes and grazing fees.

    • Families are taken into custody as push to deport immigrants denied refuge begins

      After searching the house, the agents showed Gutierrez a photo of her niece, 30-year-old Ana Lizet Mejia. Mejia fled Honduras when her brother was killed by gangs. She entered the U.S. illegally with her son as part of a wave of Central American migrants seeking refuge from violence in the summer of 2014.

  • Internet/Net Neutrality

    • DSL Users Still Can’t Get Advertised Speeds They Pay For, Nation’s Telcos Couldn’t Care Less

      And that 12 Mbps mark is rather generous. There are tens of millions of DSL customers who are lucky to nab 3 Mbps downstream on a good day, thanks to phone companies that face no serious competitive incentive to upgrade. Worse, some of these companies (like AT&T and Verizon) are actively trying to drive these unwanted customers away with apathy and price hikes so they can focus on more-profitable wireless. Others, (like Frontier, Windstream and CenturyLink) are buying these aging assets up, but wind up being so saddled with debt meaningful upgrades aren’t possible (assuming they had competitive incentive to do so).

    • What Is P2P File Sharing And How It Works?

      The rudimentary internet was more like a peer-to-peer network – “Tim Berners-Lee’s vision for the World Wide Web was close to a P2P network in that it assumed each user of the web would be an active editor and contributor, creating and linking content to form an interlinked “web” of links”,” writes Wikipedia.

  • DRM

    • Warner Brothers, Intel Begin Futile Legal Assault To Defend Ultra HD And 4K DRM

      Believing it can keep the lid on HDCP 2.2 stripping technology, Warner Brothers and Intel’s daughter-company Digital Content Protection have filed suit (pdf) against LegendSky. According to the lawsuit, the company’s technology violates not only the DMCA’s anti-circumvention provisions, but also the Lanham Act by falsely claiming that its HDFury hardware complies with HDCP’s license requirements.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Copyrights

      • Understanding David Lowery’s Lawsuit Against Spotify: The Insanity Of Music Licensing

        We generally don’t talk much about musician David Lowery around here any more. We covered a few stories about him a few years ago, and he seemed to take it ridiculously personally, and continues to attack me with false and misleading claims. Every so often someone sends me a link to a blog post he’s written and it’s almost always laughably wrong (for example, in one recent story he falsely claimed that “Google” is on Spotify’s board — because a former Google exec who is no longer at the company also happens to be on Spotify’s board). So, take the following with that caveat in mind. I tried to be objective in the analysis, but some will likely suggest that’s impossible given his years-long attacks on me.

      • Daughters Sue ‘Big Bang Theory’ Over Infringing Use Of Mother’s 82-Year-Old Poem ‘Warm Kitty’

        A copyright infringement lawsuit has been filed against a long list of defendants — all of it related to the hit sitcom “The Big Bang Theory.” Supposedly, a poem written in 1933 is being used without permission of the putative rights holders (the author’s daughters) and making everyone involved with the show a lot of money.

        The poem, titled “Warm Kitty,” is often sung by one of the main characters. It has been used often enough to become its own cultural force, resulting in a pile of Big Bang Theory merchandise featuring the words and/or title.

      • Celebrate Aaron Swartz in Seattle (or Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, NYC, SF)

        I’m organizing an event at the University of Washington in Seattle that involves a reading, the screening of a documentary film, and a Q&A about Aaron Swartz. The event coincides with the third anniversary of Aaron’s death and the release of a new book of Swartz’s writing that I contributed to.

Links 4/1/2016: DNF 1.1.5, *ubuntu 16.04 Alpha 1

Posted in News Roundup at 8:08 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish



Free Software/Open Source


  • What We Can Do with Ad Blocking’s Leverage

    The titles of ad blocking research studies also tell a story (see Resources for links). First came Ad-Blocking Measured, published by ClarityRay (later acquired by Yahoo) in 2012. Then PageFair brought us The Rise of Adblocking, Adblocking goes mainstream and The Cost of Adblocking, in 2013, 2014 and 2015.

    The catch-all term for tracking-based advertising is adtech, and nobody has studied or written more wisely about it than Don Marti, former Editor-in-Chief of Linux Journal.

  • The Technology That Made Nathalie Cole So Unforgettable

    For the album Unforgettable…With Love, Cole recorded versions of songs that had been made famous by her father, Nat “King” Cole, a huge figure in mid-20th-century popular music and culture. Among other things, he became the first black to host a TV show in 1956 and his versions of “The Christmas Song,” “Route 66,” and “Mona Lisa” and other songs are still standards. On that 1991 album, which ultimately sold around 7 million copies worldwide, Nathalie Cole used various types of overdubbings on the title track to sing a “duet” with her father, who had died in 1965.

  • There’s one great reason to see Quentin Tarantino’s The Hateful Eight in theaters
  • Science

  • Hardware

    • Richard Sapper, Designer Of IBM’s ThinkPad, Has Died

      Richard Sapper died New Year’s eve at the age of 83, his daughter Carola Sapper confirmed in an email to Co.Design. The German-born, Italy-based industrial designer created all manner of products, from household goods to cars, but is arguably best known for being the chief industrial design consultant for IBM and masterminding the first ThinkPad in 1992.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • How Denmark Dumped Medical Malpractice and Improved Patient Safety

      It was a distressingly close call. A patient had been sent home from the hospital with instructions to take a common medication at a dose that would have poisoned her.

      When Dr. Ole Hamberg heard about the mistake, he decided to investigate.

      Hamberg, the head liver specialist at Rigshospitalet, the Danish national hospital, soon found something troubling. The hospital’s electronic prescribing system was mistakenly prompting doctors to give the drug, methotrexate, for daily use when it is safely taken only once or twice a week.

    • Jeremy Hunt has torn up social contract between junior doctors and the state

      As doctors, we embark on a 40-year-plus career in the NHS knowing full well that work life is going to be tough. Long hours, a low starting salary compared to other professions (earning £23,000 a year, compared with the national average salary of £27,000), high levels of stress, regularly doing extra work for no extra pay, and emotionally difficult experiences with sick and dying patients await us.

      Although it is also extremely rewarding and a privilege to serve and be trusted by the public, a medical career takes its toll on work-life balance. Doctors have high rates of mental health problems and alcohol dependency. Family breakdown is common.

    • New junior doctors’ strike WILL go ahead after crunch talks with NHS break down

      Tens of thousands of junior doctors will stage their first strike in 40 years after crunch talks broke down.

      Medics confirmed today they will walk out three times including next Tuesday, January 12, over new contracts for Jeremy Hunt’s 7-day NHS.

      Striking doctors will provide emergency care only for 24 hours from 8am, followed by another 48-hour period of emergency care only from 8am on Tuesday, January 26.

      A full strike involving all doctors will then take place from 8am to 5pm on Wednesday, February 10 unless the crisis is resolved.

    • Enough With the Middle-Age Whites, Already

      These cohorts might change if you examine the data using different age buckets, different diseases, and a different timeframe. Who knows? Regardless, if you’re going to put forward an explanation about why this is happening, it better account for all three age groups. You can’t just pretend the data points only to “middle-age” whites and then spin your theories from that.

    • For More Than 50 Years, DuPont Concealed the Cancer-Causing Properties of Teflon

      Internal company reports have revealed that DuPont had for many years either known or suspected that Teflon contained a harmful ingredient.


      On October 7, after less than a day of deliberations, the jury found DuPont liable for Bartlett’s cancer, agreeing with the defendant that the company had for years negligently contaminated her drinking water supply in Tuppers Plain, Ohio with a toxic chemical formerly used to make its signature brand of nonstick coating: Teflon.

  • Security

    • Microsoft Got Hacked And Didn’t Tell Anyone

      Microsoft knew that Chinese spies hacked people using Hotmail accounts for years — and didn’t tell any of the people who were hacked.

    • Are You Ready For Linux Ransomware? [Ed: Are you ready for Linux FUD? Here you go… ]
    • Secure Boot — Fedora, RHEL, and Shim Upstream Maintenance: Government Involvement or Lack Thereof

      Note that there are parts of this chain I’m not a part of, and obviously linux distributions I’m not involved in that support Secure Boot. I encourage other maintainers to offer similar statements for their respective involvement.

    • Security advisories for Monday
    • I am Using Let’s Encrypt on my server now

      I just moved my web server’s SSL/TLS certificates to Let’s Encrypt and I am positively surprised how relatively easy it was.

      In all honesty, it started as a simple “Hullo! What’s this all about?” and after toying with it a bit, I decided to simply use it to replace all my CAcert.org and StartSSL certificates.

    • Dutch govt says no to backdoors, slides $540k into OpenSSL without breaking eye contact

      The Dutch government has formally opposed the introduction of backdoors in encryption products.

      A government position paper, published by the Ministry of Security and Justice on Monday and signed by the security and business ministers, concludes that “the government believes that it is currently not appropriate to adopt restrictive legal measures against the development, availability and use of encryption within the Netherlands.”

      The conclusion comes at the end of a five-page run-through of the arguments for greater encryption and the counter-arguments for allowing the authorities access to the information.

  • Defence/Police/Secrecy/Aggression

    • Militants Attack Several Towns in Anbar; 198 Killed in Iraq

      Eight suicide bombers attacked a base outside Camp Speicher, where they killed 19 security members and wounded at least 18 more. Many of the casualties were police recruits in training.

    • About That ISIS Plan to Attack Munich…

      Now, in the clearer light of morning, we learn more about that “very concrete” tip that set all this off.

      According to Reuters, a German policespokesperson said “We received names. We can’t say if they were in Munich or in fact in Germany. At this point we don’t know if these names are correct, if these people even exist, or where they might be. We have no information that these people are in Munich or in Germany.”

      Germany’s interior minister added “Security forces anticipate the high threat of international terrorism to persist.” Who knew?

      The train stations were reopened by morning and the police presence significantly reduced, apparently because the vague tip from the night before was seen as even more vague a little while later. I guess “very concrete” tips have limited life spans, or Germany is really sure terrorists are always right on time with their suicide bombs. Heck, maybe they missed their bus or something, or their watches were still set to Syrian time.


      Time to get a new catchphrase Mr. War of Terror — “out of an abundance of caution” has worn out its welcome and means little more than over reaction. Yes, yes, of course something could always happen somewhere. But that’s the point, and panic, overreacting and crying wolf does nothing to protect against that.

    • Hans Blix – a diplomatic life

      Hans Blix ponders his long career in international politics and diplomacy, the state of the Middle East…

    • Assassins Were Paid Less Than $30,000 to Kill Mexican Mayor

      GISELA RAQUEL MOTA OCAMPO, the first woman elected mayor of Temixco, a city in the central Mexican state of Morelos, was expected to take on organized crime directly. She never got the chance. The 33-year-old assumed office on New Year’s Day. Less than 24 hours later she was dead, murdered in her own home by an alleged crew of paid assassins.

    • Saudi Arabia was omitted from UK’s death penalty strategy ‘to safeguard defence contracts’

      The British Government left Saudi Arabia off a list of thirty countries to be challenged by diplomats over their continued use of the death penalty – despite executing over 90 people a year.

      The Kingdom is the only major death penalty state to be omitted from a 20-page Foreign Office document setting out the UK’s five-year strategy to reduce the use of executions around the world.

    • The Execution of Nimr Al-Nimr: One More Reason to Re-evaluate the Toxic US-Saudi Alliance

      The brutal Saudi execution of Shia cleric Sheikh Nimr Al-Nimr has led to protests around the globe, as well as the burning of the Saudi Embassy in Tehran, followed by the Saudi severing of relations with Iran. This exacerbation of Sunni-Shia tensions is the result of the reckless Saudi action against a popular, nonviolent Shia leader. Also reckless is the US government’s response, which has failed to condemn the Saudi government and distance itself from the abusive regime.

      On January 2, the Saudi government executed 47 people, most of them by beheading. Those executed included Sunnis convicted of Al Qaeda-affiliated attacks, as well as Shia opponents—Sheik Nimr Al-Nimr and three others arrested when they were still juveniles. The killing of Al-Nimr has sparked a massive reaction because he was a prominent religious leader who defended the Shia minority and criticized the abuses—both domestic and foreign—of the Saudi regime. He supported the 2011 anti-government protests in the Eastern Province, protests that erupted in the wake of the Arab Spring. The oil-rich Eastern Province is home to some 2 million Shiites, who have long complained of discrimination by the Sunni government.

    • After Executing Regime Critic, Saudi Arabia Fires Up American PR Machine

      Saudi Arabia’s well-funded public relations apparatus moved quickly after Saturday’s explosive execution of Shiite political dissident Nimr al-Nimr to shape how the news is covered in the United States.

      The execution led protestors in Shiite-run Iran to set fire to the Saudi Embassy in Tehran, precipitating a major diplomatic crisis between the two major powers already fighting proxy wars across the Middle East.

      The Saudi side of the story is getting a particularly effective boost in the American media through pundits who are quoted justifying the execution, in many cases without mention of their funding or close affiliation with the Saudi Arabian government.

      Meanwhile, social media accounts affiliated with Saudi Arabia’s American lobbyists have pushed English-language infographics, tweets, and online videos to promote a narrative that reflects the interests of the Saudi regime.

    • Saudi Arabia Has Little to Worry About – No State Has the Moral Authority or Will to Attack This Butchery

      When Saudi Arabia was elected to the UN Human Rights Council in 2013 – with Dave Cameron’s help – we all regarded it as farce. Now, only hours after the Sunni Muslim Saudis chopped off the heads of 47 of their enemies – including a prominent Shia Muslim cleric – the Saudi appointment is grotesque. Of course, the world of human rights is appalled – and Shia Iran is talking of the “divine punishment” that will destroy the House of Saud. Crowds attack the Saudi embassy in Tehran. So what’s new?

    • Britain Has Sold £5.6 Billion Of Arms To Saudi Arabia Since David Cameron Came To Power

      David Cameron’s governments have overseen the sale of over £5.6 billion of military licences to Saudi Arabia since 2010, according to new research published by Campaign Against Arms Trade.

      The kingdom is by far the largest buyer of arms from the UK, and the UK is the largest military supplier in the world to the Saudis, selling them equipment including night sights, fighter jets, bomb components, machine guns, and tear gas. Some of these weapons have been used by the Saudi-led coalition in bombing raids in Yemen that have raised war crime concerns.

    • Riyadh’s Sectarian Move: Executing Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr
    • The cold war between Saudi Arabia and Iran that’s tearing apart the Middle East, explained

      Only a few days into the new year, the Middle East has already taken a significant turn for the worse. The region’s greatest rivalry, between Saudi Arabia and Iran, has become rapidly and significantly more toxic in the past few days, and it could have repercussions across the Middle East.

      On Saturday, protesters in Tehran attacked the Saudi embassy, ransacking and burning it as Iran ignored or refused Saudi requests to protect the building. Saudi Arabia formally broke off diplomatic relations with Iran on Sunday, on Monday saying it would cut commercial ties and ban Saudi travel to Iran as well. Sudan and Bahrain, both Saudi allies, severed ties as well.

    • Fresh Concerns for Saudi Juveniles After Mass Execution

      Three Saudi juveniles remain at grave risk of execution, international human rights NGO Reprieve has warned, as fresh details emerged of the cases of several young protestors who were executed on Saturday.

      Ali Saeed al-Rebh and Mohammad Faisal al-Shioukh, two protestors who were teenagers when they were arrested in 2012, were among 47 prisoners executed across Saudi Arabia on Saturday (2nd). They were killed alongside a third young man, Mohammad Suweimal, and the prominent activist Sheikh Nimr.

    • Saudi Executions, Weapons and Influence

      He criticized U.S. political figures across the political spectrum for not meaningfully challenging Saudi Arabia and argued that money from Saudi Arabia and wealthy individuals from there had purchased influence in U.S. institutions including the Clinton Foundation. In contrast, the new leader of Labor in the UK has seriously challenged that country’s support for the Saudi regime, see: “Corbyn’s honourable record on Saudi Arabia puts Cameron to shame.” Also, see from the British Independent: Exclusive: UK Government urged to reveal its role in getting Saudi Arabia onto UN Human Rights Council.”

    • US ‘Regime Change’ Madness in the Middle East

      Seymour Hersh’s recent revelations about an effort by the US military leadership in 2013 to bolster the Syrian army against jihadist forces in Syria shed important new light on the internal bureaucratic politics surrounding regime change in US Middle East policy. Hersh’s account makes it clear that the Obama administration’s policy of regime change in both Libya and Syria provoked pushback from the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS).

      That account and another report on a similar episode in 2011 suggest that the US military has a range of means by which it can oppose administration policies that it regards as unacceptable. But it also shows that the military leadership failed to alter the course of US policy, and raises the question whether it was willing to use all the means available to stop the funnelling of arms to al-Nusra Front and other extremist groups in Syria.

    • FBI Closes Out 2015 With Another Questionable Terrorism Bust

      The mental hygiene arrests suggest Lutchman could be a dangerous person — not because of his allegiance to ISIL — but in general. Mental hygiene arrests occur when a person is considered to be a danger to themselves or others. He may have been a threat, thanks to his mental issues, but a terrorist? Certainly, the mental instability could have made Lutchman much more susceptible to outside suggestions that he commit violence, but his arrest record suggests Lutchman didn’t have the mental (and, apparently, financial) capacity to provide much “support” for the Islamic State’s violent aims.

    • Saudi Arabia Mass Executions Include Shiite Cleric, Iranian Protesters Attack Saudi Embassy, Sparking Regional Dispute
    • Saudi Mass Executions Provoke Region-Wide Escalation
    • Everything You Need to Know About the Iran-Saudi Arabia Crisis
    • Israeli Youth Lightly Wounded by Police Bullet in Aborted Jerusalem Stabbing Attempt

      One of the policemen shoved the would-be assailant. Another shot him, hitting him in the leg. The police chased him, shooting him in the legs again.

      None of the police officers were hurt in the incident, but the teenage girl was hit by what the police believe to be ricocheting bullet fragments.

    • Ecological Meltdown And Nuclear Conflict: The Relevance Of Gandhi In The Modern World

      A few months ago, entrepreneur Charles Devenish contacted me to tell me about his plans to develop various mining enterprises across India. He spoke about the massive amounts of untapped mineral resources lying beneath India that is just lying there and has been for a long time. What he thought I might find appealing were his plans for how small-scale mining could dovetail with a model of agriculture aimed at restoring Indian soils, which have been seriously degraded by decades of ‘green revolution’ chemical poisoning, and a rolling back of the increasing and harmful corporate control of farming.

      Devenish wants to set up co-operative mining enterprises in rural areas that would involve local farmers, who would then have a say and a stake in these local mines (see this report). The farmers would also benefit from the profits that would supplement their farming income and also be funnelled into investment in research and knowledge, which would enable them to restore their soils and move towards organic agriculture that would be in harmony with the local ecology.

  • Transparency Reporting

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife

    • Singaporean smog and Indonesian fires
    • Thinking beyond the Age of Fire

      In December, in an unprecedented demonstration of international unity, 195 countries adopted the first-ever, universal, legally-binding agreement to take action on climate change.


      Humans cannot go back to the beginning and start again, but if they had to, Walt Patterson’s new book would be as fundamental a guide to the challenges as any.

    • The Question isn’t of Saving the World via Renewables but of how Much can be Saved

      Humanity is not abandoning fossil fuels fast enough to avoid some massive changes to our world’s climate, with all the implications that change has for sea level, coastal erosion, extreme weather, and desertification and drought. There have been impressive advances in adoption of solar and wind technology in 2015, but compared to the crisis, it is not nearly enough. I say this not to provoke despair but simply to underline that the crisis can be bad, or worse, or the absolute worst. We get to decide for future generations the kind of world they will live in.

    • The Feds Just Sued Volkswagen Over Its Emissions Scandal
    • ‘Unlawful Pollution’: Volkswagen Charged With Crimes Against Climate
    • United States Files Complaint Against Volkswagen, Audi and Porsche for Alleged Clean Air Act Violations

      The U.S. Department of Justice, on behalf of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, today filed a civil complaint in federal court in Detroit, Michigan against Volkswagen AG, Audi AG, Volkswagen Group of America, Inc., Volkswagen Group of America Chattanooga Operations, LLC, Porsche AG, and Porsche Cars North America, Inc. (collectively referred to as Volkswagen). The complaint alleges that nearly 600,000 diesel engine vehicles had illegal defeat devices installed that impair their emission control systems and cause emissions to exceed EPA’s standards, resulting in harmful air pollution. The complaint further alleges that Volkswagen violated the Clean Air Act by selling, introducing into commerce, or importing into the United States motor vehicles that are designed differently from what Volkswagen had stated in applications for certification to EPA and the California Air Resources Board (CARB).

    • Volkswagen Cheated On Its Emissions Tests. Now, It’s Getting Sued.

      The lawsuit, filed Monday by the U.S. Department of Justice, alleges that Volkswagen violated the Clean Air Act by finding ways to evade emissions standards on hundreds of thousands of its vehicles. It comes about four months after news of the emissions cheating scandal first broke in September.

    • Climate Change Is Taking A Toll On Farmers’ Mental Health

      The success or failure of a farming operation depends hugely on the vagaries of weather and climate. For a farmer, a single intense rain event or prolonged dry period can mean a year of lost crops and income.

    • China Isn’t Approving Any New Coal Mines For The Next 3 Years

      China, the largest coal producer in the world, won’t be approving new mines for the next three years as it grapples with alarming pollution and pursues other energy sources, including nuclear plants.

      The country announced the move last week, according to the state-run Xinhua News Agency. This ban on new mines is unprecedented, published reports note, though mines have been closed in the past and will continue to be shut down in the coming year.

    • Outdoor Burn Ban Lifted for Western Washington Tribal Reservations on January 4th (WA)

      EPA requests that reservation residents reduce all sources of air pollution as much as possible, including excess driving and idling of vehicles, and the use of woodstoves and fireplaces, unless they are the only adequate source of heat.

  • Finance

    • US Department Of Agriculture TAFTA/TTIP Study: Small Gains For US, Losses For EU

      As we are constantly reminded by its supporters, the TAFTA/TTIP agreement currently being negotiated between the US and the EU is huge: together, the two regions account for around half of global GDP. Given that scale, and the impact that TTIP is likely to have on both the US and EU, you might expect there would be dozens of detailed studies looking at the likely effects — and whether, on balance, it would be a good idea. And yet such studies are very thin on the ground.

    • Even in expensive cities, the sharing economy may just have its limits

      I’ve never been a fan of the “sharing economy”. Not that there’s anything intrinsically wrong with Uber, Airbnb and their peers, it’s just that there doesn’t really seem to be much “sharing” going on. It’s more like adding a technological middleman to a rental market.

      Now having shaken up the taxi and hotel market, the sharing economy has its eyes on a new market: housing for the digital workforce. This time it may have gone too far.

      Leading the charge is WeWork, a company that has turned the yawn-inducing business of leasing office space into a $10bn valuation by trendifying the office experience and attracting like-minded businesses to “share” its spaces. Sounds so much better than a lease, right? (Full disclosure: the Guardian’s New York office is in a WeWork building).

      The strategy has paid off for the startup real estate company. It is now bigger than all but the three largest publicly traded office management firms, if only in terms of the value its investors place on it: it manages only a fraction of the number of square feet of office space.

    • Why Small Debts Matter So Much To Black Lives

      If you are black, you’re far more likely to see your electricity cut, more likely to be sued over a debt, and more likely to land in jail because of a parking ticket.

      It is not unreasonable to attribute these perils to discrimination. But there’s no question that the main reason small financial problems can have such a disproportionate effect on black families is that, for largely historical reasons rooted in racism, they have far smaller financial reserves to fall back on than white families.

    • University President Explains Why His School Doesn’t Have Football

      “At Drexel we recognize the benefits of sports but are not burdened by the distractions that come with maintaining a football program,” Fry wrote in an op-ed for The Wall Street Journal on Sunday. “Drexel hasn’t fielded a team since 1973 when administrators realized its budget burden.”

    • Bernie Sanders vs. the Corporatocracy

      We are no longer a nation of self-governing people. Our democracy has been captured by American corporate enterprise, and now we confront a documented plutocracy in its place. If we intend to challenge this and contest it, we will need a President Sanders in the White House.

    • Sanders Breaks Fundraising Records as His Contest with Clinton Heats Up

      Sanders raised more than $33 million in the last three months of the year, bringing his 2015 total to $73 million “from more than 1 million individuals who made a record 2.5 million donations,” the campaign said in a release. “The 2,513,665 donations to Sanders’ campaign broke the record set four years ago by President Barack Obama’s re-election committee. Through Dec. 31, 2011, Obama chalked up 2,209,636 donations.”

    • The GOP and the Myth of Capitalism

      However, along with the other pretty banners behind which political candidates hide their true nefarious intentions, the word capitalism bears no relation to reality in how it governs the behavior of those who claim allegiance to it. The billionaire bankers certainly were not restrained by sacred free market principles when they accepted billions in government bailout money, and allegiance to capitalism doesn’t deter fat cat sports team owners from accepting public welfare to build new stadiums. Furthermore, adherence to laissez-faire philosophy never has amounted to much with the elected advocates of big business. From its inception that Grand Old Party that serves as the sword and shield of the rich has incorporated policies based upon those same insidious, destructive socialist ideas they decry in Bernie Sanders. Strangely enough, when and where they have done this the result has been prosperity for millions; not necessarily for billionaires but for the masses.

    • Did Minimum Wage Increases Hurt Employment During the Great Recession?

      Here’s the problem: as near as I can tell, the world is awash in minimum wage studies. With no disrespect intended toward Clemens—whose conclusions sound reasonable—a single study just isn’t that meaningful these days.

    • Paul Krugman: How Bad America Could Get If a 1%-Loving Republican Won in 2016

      Paul Krugman now has some official numbers on his side to make the case that having Obama in the White House instead of Mitt Romney has made a serious difference to the country. In Monday’s column, Krugman looks at the IRS’s tax tables for 2013, which were released last week, and concludes that elections have real consequences. His argument is directed to people on the left, who are disappointed with Obama and argue that there is no major difference between the two parties (except Bernie Sanders) and that the wealthy will always dominate.

    • Glenn Reynolds: Chicago sings blue-model blues

      For starters, look at Rahm Emanuel’s Chicago. Rahm Emanuel, a major inner-circle supporter of both Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, is not a stupid man. Nonetheless, he’s finding it harder and harder to hold things together.

    • Three Middle-Class-Killing Industries for 2016

      Capitalist enterprises have little incentive to work for ordinary people, and instead they do whatever is necessary to enrich the owners of their corporate stock. Choosing the leading job-killing industry is a difficult task with so many candidates. But technology, pharmaceuticals, and the “sharing economy” are clearly in the running.

      The companies in the spotlight are specialists in the disdainful business practices that permeate their industries.

    • IRS Identity Fraud Prevention Specialist Arrested For Identity Fraud, Filing Fraudulent Tax Returns

      In late spring of last year, more than 100,000 taxpayers had their personally-identifiable information accessed by criminals. It wasn’t a security breach, nor was it accomplished by “hacking.” Instead, it was the result of the IRS using common static identifiers to verify accounts — information that could easily be found elsewhere. These were deployed to access transcripts of taxpayers’ filing histories. The transcripts gave criminals the information they were actually seeking: Social Security numbers, birth dates and current addresses.

  • PR/AstroTurf/Lobbying

    • WaPo: GOP Presidential Candidates Who Are Silent Over Oregon Standoff Previously Praised Cliven Bundy’s Cause

      The Washington Post highlighted how Republican presidential candidates “are staying mum as an armed group has taken over part” of the Malheur National Wildlife Headquarters in Oregon, even those candidates who previously championed the same cause as the protesters by criticizing federal land ownership.

    • Trump’s First TV Ad Embraces His Most Controversial Ideas
    • Donald Trump’s Border Ad Shows Chaotic Morocco, Not Boring America
    • MSNBC Points Out That Trump’s Misleading TV Ad Uses Morocco Border Images Instead Of US Southern Border
    • This Anti-Immigrant TV Ad Is Hitting The Airwaves This Week, Courtesy Of Donald Trump

      Republican frontrunner Donald Trump’s first television ad relies on the same anti-immigrant sentiment that has characterized his positions on the campaign trail. In the ad, Trump promises to “make America great again” by banning Muslim immigration and building a southern U.S. border wall that he assures that Mexico will pay for.

      “He’s calling for a temporary shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until we can figure out what’s going on,” a narrator states in the television spot. “He’ll quickly cut the head off ISIS and take their oil. And he’ll stop illegal immigration by building a wall on the southern border that Mexico will pay for.”

    • Donald Trump Puts His Ridiculous Campaign Promises in TV Ad Form

      Donald Trump, who is currently leading the GOP primary field by an average of a little more than 15 points,* released his first TV ad this morning, after previewing it to The Washington Post yesterday. The tone of the ad is aggressively doomy and gloomy, with darkened images of masked men carrying the ISIS flag and grainy shots of what are supposed to look like crowds of immigrants, presumably streaking across the U.S. border. At the end, there’s a shot of Trump himself, standing at a rally, declaring his intention to “make America great again.”

    • Why Sanders Will Not be the Democratic Nominee, No Matter What Happens in the Primaries

      If you think Bernie Sanders will be the Democratic nominee for President in 2016, you’re out of your mind.

      There is no way the Democratic Party will allow that to happen, for two main reasons.

      First, this is Hillary’s turn to be the nominee. And although that’s pretty distasteful for many of Bernie’ supporters, it’s the truth and has been decided by people who actually matter in the party’s hierarchy (read: not you).

      Second, it is simply impossible that a neoliberal, right-wing political party like the Democrats in a country with a nominally right-leaning electorate will allow their standard bearer to be a self-described socialist.

    • All they want to do is screw over the president: Ryan, McConnell confirm they have no real agenda in ’16 besides blocking Obama

      Since President Obama took office, Congressional Republicans have made it their business to obstruct everything he does. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said it best in 2012: “Our top political priority over the next two years should be to deny President Obama a second term.”

      And that’s how they’ve governed in the Obama era. Like political arsonists, they’ve pursued no real positive agenda, choosing instead to undermine the president and stage symbolic protest votes to appease a disillusioned base. This is a big reason why something like 13 percent of the country approves of the job Congress is doing.

      For a brief moment, when Paul Ryan was elected Speaker of the House, there was hope that things might change, if only a little. Although Ryan is hardly a moderate, he is nonetheless a serious legislator. His victory, one hoped, was a sign that House Republicans finally saw the light, finally realized that obstructionism wasn’t a viable governing philosophy.

  • Censorship

    • Denmark: Facebook blocks Little Mermaid over ‘bare skin’
    • Facebook censors Little Mermaid photo for nakedness and sexual suggestiveness
    • Facebook reverses Little Mermaid censorship
    • Unless a film can cause a riot, there should be no censorship: Shyam Benegal

      Artistic and cultural freedom was at the centre of a heated political debate throughout 2015. And the Censor Board was under the scanner in many controversies, thanks to a chairman with clear political leanings enforcing a range of arbitrary bans.

    • Pakistani Censorship ‘Runs Counter’ to Times Values
    • 14 Years of Censored News Coverage Denies Americans Context to Understand ISIL Attacks

      Fourteen years ago, after the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Center, the United States government initiated its “war on terror,” with the invasions of Afghanistan in 2001, which expanded into Pakistan, and of Iraq in 2003. The conventional methodology of American politics emphasizes American financial, strategic, and human costs. Since then, the corporate media has occasionally acknowledged the 6,800 American soldiers, and the 7,000 contractors who died in Iraq and Afghanistan. However, corporate media and the American government have consistently ignored Iraqi and Afghani deaths, which exceed one million. Without acknowledging this modern “reign of terror,” the western public has no context to understand the current attacks lead by the Islamic State in Syria and Levant (ISIL).

    • The Significance of Miscegenation: Israel Bans Arab-Jewish Romance Novel Because We Can’t Have Both Sides Loving Each Other Now Can We?

      The Education Ministry of Israel – you know, the People of the Book – has banned an award-winning young adult novel of love between an Israeli translator and a Palestinian artist because it “threatens the separate identity” of Jews. Explaining their disqualification of Dorit Rabinyan’s “Gader Haya” (published in Hebrew as “Hedgerow,” but “Borderlife” in English), officials cited the need to maintain “the identity and the heritage of students in every sector,” worrying that “young people of adolescent age don’t have the systemic view that includes considerations involving maintaining the national-ethnic identity of the people and the significance of miscegenation.” Ministry officials, including one who’s boasted he’s “killed lots of Arabs in my life and (has) no problem with it,” argued that young readers don’t have “the full tools to weigh the decisions” of inter-racial love – Translation: “They’re not quite sure yet who to hate” – and that “many parents… would strongly object to having their children study the novel” – Translation: “They’re racist, too, so let’s go with it.” The book was recommended for advanced curricula by the literature head of secular state schools and a committee of academics, and had been requested by multiple teachers.

    • ‘Censorship is nonsensical’

      Singaporean film director Tan Pin Pin withdrew her film from a festival celebrating Singapore-Malaysia ties this month after Malaysia’s Film Censorship Board insisted that a scene be amended as it was a “security threat”.

      The director of Singapore GaGa said the board wanted a scene where a character says “binatang-binatang” (Malay for animals) to be removed from the film, liberal news portal Malaysian Insider reported.

    • Tan Pin Pin pulls documentary Singapore GaGa from Malaysia festival after censors demand cut

      It was the first made-in-Singapore documentary to get a theatrical release here and has been shown in festivals around the world.

    • Where Has the Media Been? How Campus Censorship Never Went Away
  • Privacy

    • WeeChat – WeeChat Relay and Let’s Encrypt

      I decided to enable the WeeChat Relay plugin. Until now, I only used the ZNC IRC bouncer because it allows me to use any standalone IRC client. Now, I also want to have acces to weechat-android and Glowing-bear so I enabled the Relay plugin.

    • A Redaction Re-Visited: NSA Targeted “The Two Leading” Encryption Chips

      On September 5, 2013, The Guardian, The New York Times and ProPublica jointly reported – based on documents provided by whistleblower Edward Snowden – that the National Security Agency (NSA) had compromised some of the encryption that is most commonly used to secure internet transactions. The NYT explained that NSA “has circumvented or cracked much of the encryption, or digital scrambling, that guards global commerce and banking systems, protects sensitive data like trade secrets and medical records, and automatically secures the e-mails, Web searches, Internet chats and phone calls of Americans and others around the world.” One 2010 memo described that “for the past decade, NSA has led an aggressive, multipronged effort to break widely used Internet encryption technologies.”

      In support of the reporting, all three papers published redacted portions of documents from the NSA along with its British counterpart, GCHQ. Prior to publication of the story, the NSA vehemently argued that any reporting of any kind on this program would jeopardize national security by alerting terrorists to the fact that encryption products had been successfully compromised. After the stories were published, U.S. officials aggressively attacked the newspapers for endangering national security and helping terrorists with these revelations.

      All three newspapers reporting this story rejected those arguments prior to publication and decided to report the encryption-cracking successes. Then-NYT Executive Editor Jill Abramson described the decision to publish as “not a particularly anguished one” in light of the public interest in knowing about this program, and ProPublica editors published a lengthy explanation along with the story justifying their decision.

    • House Intelligence Committee Orders Investigation Into Surveillance Of Congress That It Authorized

      So, yes, it was just revealed that, of course, the NSA spied on Congress as it was intercepting phone calls of foreign leaders, leading to hypocritical bloviating from folks in Congress who regularly support the NSA.

    • Government Officials Think NSA Spying That ‘Incidentally’ Swept Up Congressional Phone Calls Still Not Enough Spying

      The Wall Street Journal’s recent revelation that the NSA swept up Congress members’ communications in a dragnet, which had been assumed to have shut down, has provoked a variety of reactions from Capitol Hill. Some Congress members have angrily expressed their displeasure at being spied on like so many citizens of so many nations (including ours).

  • Civil Rights

    • Migrant crisis: Sweden border checks come into force

      Sweden has introduced identity checks for travellers from Denmark in an attempt to reduce the number of migrants arriving in the country.

      All travellers wanting to cross the Oresund bridge by train or bus, or use ferry services, will be refused entry without the necessary documents.

    • The Latest: Sudanese man who walked the Channel Tunnel to England granted asylum

      A Sudanese man who was arrested after walking through the 31-mile (50-kilometer) Channel Tunnel from France to England has been granted asylum in Britain.

      Police detained Abdul Rahman Haroun in August near the British end of the tunnel at Folkestone in southeastern England. He was charged with “obstructing a railway carriage or engine” under the Malicious Damage Act.

    • When He Was 16, This Man Threw One Punch—and Went to Jail for Life

      One was Louisiana, where Taurus exemplified how mandatory sentencing could render a defendant’s youth meaningless. Once he was charged with second-degree murder, Taurus was automatically tried as an adult because he was over the age of 14. If convicted, he would automatically be sentenced to life without parole.

    • Undercover Cop Disgracefully Tricks Autistic Student into Selling Weed, Court Denies Family Justice

      Riverside County, CA — Simply put, the War on Drugs is a war on people. One of the more despicable ways in which it manifests is the manipulation of vulnerable school kids by undercover cops. These “drug stings,” better known as entrapment, typically prey on special needs students who have a hard time making friends.

    • How We Found the People Who Were Sent to Prison for Life as Kids

      From May to October of 2015, the Phillips Black Project collected information about people sentenced to life without parole for crimes they committed as juveniles. Using this data, we recently issued a report concluding that juvenile life-without-parole sentences are clustered in a handful of counties, and that these sentences are disproportionately handed to people of color.

    • 3 Anger-Inducing Charts About Kids and Prison
    • A Man Slaughtered And Burned 3 Of His Neighbor’s Dogs. Now The Police Are Coming To His Defense.

      The release references the Indiana criminal code regarding the killing of domestic animals. Under Indiana law, it is legal to kill a domestic animal if someone “reasonably believes” that killing the animal is necessary to “protect the property of the accused person from destruction or substantial damage.”

    • Edward Herman and Willy Nyamitwe

      Edward Herman is professor emeritus at the University of Pennsylvania; he writes about politics and media, and is best known as the co-author (with Noam Chomsky) of “Manufacturing Consent.”

    • It’s official: There never was a ‘war on cops’

      This year will go down in the record books as one of the safest for police officers in recorded history, according to data released this week from the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund. There were 42 fatal shootings of police officers in 2015, down 14 percent from 2014, according to the organization.

    • Washington Post’s Christopher Ingraham: 2015 Data Contradicts Right-Wing Media’s “War On Cops” Myth
    • Erdoğan loses the game show
    • Turkish Pres. Erdogan cites Hitler in case for Presidential System

      Turkish president Tayyip Erdogan on Thursday cited Hitler in support of his contention that a presidential system can coexist with a “unitary state,” i.e., with a non-federal government. The United States has a presidential system, but the presidency’s powers are limited because it is a federal system with enormous rights and prerogatives retained by the state. I suppose the context is that people are arguing to Erdogan that if he takes Turkey into a presidential system, it could break up the country because there would be regionalist responses to this concentration of power. He was trying to deflect this critique, and what his mind happened on was the example of fascist Germany!

    • Erdogan and Hitler
    • Saudi Arabia’s Mad Head-Choppers

      Saudi Arabia’s binge of head-choppings – 47 in all, including the learned Shia cleric Sheikh Nimr Baqr al-Nimr, followed by a Koranic justification for the executions – was worthy of Isis. Perhaps that was the point. For this extraordinary bloodbath in the land of the Sunni Muslim al-Saud monarchy – clearly intended to infuriate the Iranians and the entire Shia world – re-sectarianised a religious conflict which Isis has itself done so much to promote.

    • Beheadings
    • Chicago Needs More Tasing

      The impetus for the change is a series of fatal shootings by cops. One of the most infamous involved 17-year-old Laquan McDonald, who was carrying a pocketknife and walking away from police when Officer Jason Van Dyke shot him 16 times. The other officers at the scene had called for a Taser and were waiting for it to arrive.

    • The War on Women Is About to Get a Whole Lot Worse

      Between the shooting deaths of three people at a Colorado Planned Parenthood, the Supreme Court’s decision to hear its first abortion-related case in nine years, and the more than 50 new abortion restriction laws enacted by state governments, abortion access was one of the most important issues of 2015. With presidential politics and ongoing legal challenges in the states, abortion rights will continue to be under fire in 2016.

      “Last year’s big events, like the Planned Parenthood videos and the Supreme Court case, have actually ginned up even more interest in restricting abortion,” Elizabeth Nash, a senior state issues associate at the Guttmacher Institute, tells Mother Jones. “If it was possible, they’ve actually added more energy to decreasing abortion access.”

      And that is despite the fact that even-numbered years are generally slow when it comes to legislative pushes—elections cut off the legislature calendars, and general assemblies in many states don’t even meet. But Nash says next year will be different.

    • Saudi Arabia’s reckless regime

      SAUDI ARABIA’S King Salman has dedicated his first year on the throne to bold and sometimes reckless moves to shore up the royal family’s power both at home and abroad. Now he has taken a step that was as risky and ruthless as it was unjustified: the execution of a leading Shiite cleric who had spoken out for the kingdom’s repressed minority sect. It was an act that appears bound — and maybe was intended — to further inflame conflict between Shiites and Sunnis across the Middle East.

    • Fox Promotes Conspiracy Theorist Who Threatened Sexual Violence Against Hillary Clinton As Militia Spokesperson
    • Fox News Contributor Defends Armed Occupation Of Government Building By Militants

      On Saturday, a group of heavily armed anti-government militia members, including three members of the notorious Bundy family, seized a government building in Oregon. They are still occupying the building and say they are prepared to stay “for years.”

      But according to Fox News Contributor Deneen Borelli, any criticism of these actions is the result of dishonesty by the “the left-wing media.” During the segment, which aired Monday morning, the chyron on Fox News was “DEBATE SPARKED OVER WHETHER MILITIA IS TERRORIST GROUP OR PATRIOTIC.”

    • Ballots Not Bullets Coalition Calls for Laws to Be Enforced in Oregon Standoff

      The Ballots Not Bullets Coalition, a group of organizations from across the country concerned by the increasing use of violence—and threats of violence—to affect public policy in the United States, is deeply concerned about the takeover of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge by sons of Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy and other heavily armed anti-government radicals. In response, the Coalition is calling on federal authorities to enforce the laws and hold the occupiers accountable for their criminal actions.

    • What’s Happening in Oregon Is Nothing Less Than Armed Sedition

      And, in related news, of course, Tamir Rice is still dead.

    • How the Leader of the Oregon Armed Protest Benefited From a Federal Loan Program
    • Meet The Child-Abusing Arsonists That Inspired The Oregon Militia Standoff
    • The Absurdly Harsh Penalties That Sparked the Oregon Rancher Protest

      As Ed Krayewski noted yesterday, the armed men who are occupying an office building at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon broke off from a demonstration protesting the sentences received by two ranchers, 73-year-old Dwight Hammond and his 46-year-old son Steven, who in 2001 and 2006 set fires on their own property that spread to public land. In addition to the long-running conflict between ranchers and the federal government over control of land in the West, the case illustrates the practical impossibility of challenging harsh mandatory minimum sentences as violations of the Eighth Amendment’s ban on “cruel and unusual punishments.”

    • Militants continue occupation of Oregon refuge, police keep low profile

      Law enforcement agencies are remaining mum about plans to end militiamen’s occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge headquarters.

      A splinter group of militia in town to support a local ranching family took over the federal office Saturday afternoon in a development that stunned the community and visiting militia.

    • Tennessee Lawmaker Wants To Support Armed Militia Occupying Federal Building

      Tennessee state Rep. Andy Holt (R) tweeted on Sunday evening asking how to “send support” for an armed militia occupying a federal facility in Oregon.

    • D.M. officer fires gun while practicing ‘quick draw’

      Officer Brady Pratt, 23, was inside an office at the airport Wednesday around 4 p.m. when he drew his gun from his holster to practice “his quick draw skills,” according to a police report. Pratt, who joined the force in 2013, “unknowingly” had his finger on the trigger and fired a round from the gun, the report states.

    • Rightwing Terrorism on Display as Militants in Oregon Beckon Reinforcements

      Senator Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) said the FBI has been monitoring the situation and is in “close coordination” with the state police and the Harney County Sheriff’s Office.

    • Why Aren’t We Calling the Oregon Occupiers ‘Terrorists’?

      The sometimes-coded but increasingly overt ways that some Americans are presumed guilty and violence-prone while others are assumed to be principled and peaceable unless and until provoked — even when actually armed — is remarkable.

    • Inside The Backwards Ideology Driving The Right-Wing Militiamen Who Captured A Federal Building

      Two interlocking issues drove what appears to be slightly more than a dozen armed men to seize control of a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service building in Oregon on Saturday evening. The first was the incarceration, release and eventual reincarceration of two men convicted of arson by a federal court. The second is a much broader dispute over whether ranchers are free to encroach upon federal lands without interference by the federal government itself.

    • Cops: Too Crazy to be Trusted With Guns

      We’re not supposed to question juries. They’re our peers. They put in long hours, working hard essentially for free. Most of all, they see all the evidence. We don’t. We have to assume that they know what they’re doing.

      Sometimes, however, a jury verdict relies on so many false assumptions, baseless assignments of privilege and twisted logic that you have to call it out. The decision of a Cleveland grand jury not to indict the cop who shot 12-year-old Tamir Rice to death is one such time.

    • Should Used Tea Leaves Give Probable Cause for Drug Raids?

      Former CIA employees Robert and Adlynn Harte, along with their 7- and 13-year-old children, were held at gunpoint by sheriff’s deputies for several hours as a search for drugs was conducted in their home. The probable cause that led to the raid? A visit to a hydroponics store for a horticultural project and wet tea leaves in the family’s garbage bin.

    • Venice tenants complained to the city, then wished they hadn’t

      Worried that their new landlord was trying to turn their Venice apartment building into a kind of illegal hotel, Phyllis Murphy and her neighbors wrote a letter to city officials.

      The residents complained that some of the units were being rented out to tourists for short stays, bringing a revolving door of strangers into the complex on a tranquil stretch of Third Avenue. Murphy said her landlord once asked her, not-so-subtly, what it would take to get her out of the building.

      The landlord denies saying that. He also said that a tenant, not he, was responsible for the rentals. But the city housing department nonetheless ordered him to make sure they came to a halt.

    • The Origins of Totalitarianism Part 3: Superfluous Capital and Superfluous People

      The driving force of imperialism the search for profits, The people pushing it were the bourgeoisie, the principal capitalists. Until the 1870s, the bourgeoisie were content to leave politics to others, and focus on manufacturing and infrastructure in the home country. Politicians were generally wary of the push into foreign countries.

      Beginning in the 1870s as the money invested in foreign lands increased, the risks to the bourgeoisie and their money increased, as nations expropriated their assets or refused to cooperate, or threw them out. The bourgeoisie liked the enormous profits of these investments, but were not interested in taking the risks. They demanded that the nation-state provide the armed forces necessary to protect their profits, and the nation-states complied. Arendt says that this demand for intervention was its assertion of control of the government. She dates the Imperialist period to 1889-1914.

      The goal of imperialism was neither assimilation nor integration.

    • Welcome to Cop Land

      Beyond the storm of commentary and criticism, however, quite a different reality presents itself. In the simplest terms, there is no war on the police. Violent attacks against police officers remain at historic lows, even though approximately 1,000 people have been killed by the police this year nationwide. In just the past few weeks, videos have been released of problematic fatal police shootings in San Francisco and Chicago.

    • FBI data show assaults on police officers dropped sharply in 2014

      The FBI recently released its data on assaults on police officers in 2014. The good news is that reported assaults are down sharply. Unarmed and assaults with guns both dropped, while assaults with knives and edged weapons went up slightly. But overall, as this chart tweeted by University of South Carolina law professor Seth Stoughton shows, assaults on cops are at their lowest point since 1996 and have been dropping consistently since 2008.

    • The Dividing Lines of Race, Ethnicity and Religion

      What do you think the response would be if a bunch of black people, filled with rage and armed to the teeth, took over a federal government installation and defied officials to kick them out? I’m pretty sure it wouldn’t be wait-and-see.

      Probably more like point-and-shoot.

      Or what if the occupiers were Mexican-American? They wouldn’t be described with the semi-legitimizing term “militia,” harking to the days of the patriots. And if the gun-toting citizens happened to be Muslim, heaven forbid, there would be wall-to-wall cable news coverage of the “terrorist assault.” I can hear Donald Trump braying for blood.

    • America’s Real Racial Double Standard: How the Law (and White People) Turn “Race-Neutral” Into “Pro-White”

      In 2011, high school senior Taylor Bell, a local rapper in Itawamba County, Mississippi, made a song in support of several female classmates who claimed they had been inappropriately touched and subjected to harassing comments by two male coaches. In Bell’s song, he rapped: “Looking down girls’ shirts / drool running down your mouth / Going to get a pistol down your mouth.” For these remarks, school officials accused Bell of harassment and intimidation. He was suspended and sent to another school. In the next few weeks, the Supreme Court will decide whether to hear the case of Bell v. Itawamba County School Board.

    • If the Oregon Militiamen Were Muslim or Black, They’d Probably Be Dead By Now

      Extremism comes in different colors, ethnicities, beards and head coverings – which is why racial profiling cannot protect us from all extremist violence.

    • How Media Turned Right-Wing ‘Willing to Kill’ Extremists Into Peaceful ‘Rancher’s Rights Protesters’

      AP published a more detailed follow-up piece on the night of January 3 with the ambiguous, contextless headline, “Oregon Standoff Latest in Dispute Over Western Lands.” This article did point out in the opening line that the right-wing occupiers are armed and motivated by “anti-government sentiment.”


      NBC (1/3/16) characterized the militants as “rancher’s rights protesters.” It headlined its report on the story “Ammon Bundy, Rancher’s Rights Protesters Occupy Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon.”


      The infamous “terrorism” double standard was sometimes remarked upon in corporate media itself. The Washington Post (1/3/16) published an op-ed asking “Why Aren’t We calling the Oregon Occupiers ‘Terrorists?’” CNN (1/3/16) ran a more forceful opinion piece, “Face it, Oregon Building Takeover Is Terrorism.”

      Media double standards vis-à-vis far-right extremism are a commonplace by this point. The hands-off response of the government—which said it had no plans to deal with the armed occupation—is striking, if not unexpected; the response of the media even more so.

      As much as the right complains about the US media’s supposed “liberal bias,” news outlets were enormously euphemistic and gracious in their portrayal of the Oregon occupation. Such graciousness is not extended to other extremist groups.

    • Police Should Be Able to Accept Constructive Criticism

      Did last month’s mistrial of an officer charged in connection with the death of Freddie Gray, the Baltimore man who died of a severed spine while in police custody, reveal a paradox that limits the potential of achieving serious police reform through the legal process?

    • Here’s What Happened When Black People Tried Armed Occupation

      And 30 years ago, a similar standoff between police and a black anti-government group in Philadelphia played out very differently. Armed members of a fringe liberation group called MOVE were bombed and burned alive for directing their weapons at police. The bombing highlighted the stark contrast in the way cops treat black and white radicals.

    • The Bundy Militia Raid on Burns: What the Media Left Out
    • The Bundy Family’s Odd Mormon Connection, Explained

      Bundy’s family reportedly fasted and prayed for the “spirit of their forefathers to be with them” during the 2014 incident, and Bundy’s son, Ammon Bundy, articulated a similar vision to explain his involvement in the recent takeover in Oregon. In a video posted on January 1, Ammon — whose name is the same as a famous figure from the Book of Mormon — explained that it was God who called him to leave his home and campaign on behalf of the Hammond family in Oregon.

    • More Than 200,000 Petition for Release of Making a Murderer Star Steven Avery

      This wrongful rape conviction wasn’t the result of some vengeful ex or whatever else stereotypes might conjure. A wealth of evidence suggests Avery was failed by the Manitowoc County Sheriff’s Office’s single-minded commitment to proving and maintaining his guilt. By fall 2005, Avery was in the midst of a major lawsuit against Manitowoc County, with individual liability at stake for various local officials.

    • Cops getting away with murder: It’s a warped legal system and law enforcement culture that lets them do it

      It seems fitting that 2015 would end with yet another example of our justice system failing to hold police accountable for killing an unarmed African-American. The Tamir Rice case was especially poignant because the victim was only 12 years old. He was playing in the park with a toy gun — like millions of kids do all over the country. And the video that everyone saw with their own eyes showed that police rolled up and within seconds shot him dead. The prosecution and a grand jury decided they were justified in doing that for reasons that make little sense to rational people.

    • Death of man who was put in restraints at a D.C. hospital ruled a homicide

      The D.C. medical examiner’s office said Monday that McBride’s cause of death was “blunt force injuries” of the neck. It also said the injuries involved “cervical spinal cord transection” and “vertebral artery compression.” They did not offer a further explanation.

    • Preventing the return of Europe’s authoritarian right

      So now it’s Poland. For the last five years Hungary’s prime minister Viktor Orban has dismantled democratic checks and balances and declared the end of the liberal aspect of liberal democracy.

      The other EU member states and Brussels huffed and puffed, but did not want to take any serious action against the erosion of democracy.

    • Turkey’s religious body says engaged couples should not hold hands

      The Directorate of Religious Affairs (Diyanet), Turkey’s top religious body, has stated that engaged couples should not hold hands or spend time alone together during their engagement period.

      “In this period, it is not inconvenient for couples to meet and talk to get to know each other, if their privacy is considered. However, there could be undesired incidents with or without their families’ knowledge … such as flirting, cohabitating or being alone [with one another]. This encourages gossip and holding hands, which Islam does not allow,” the Diyanet said, responding to a public question.

      It urged couples to fulfil their engagement period “in line with Islamic norms,” encouraging couples not to have a religious marriage unless a civil marriage had been decided upon.

      The Diyanet – which is one of Turkey’s best funded state institutions, largely provided for by public taxation – has previously made headlines with controversial rulings on the usage of toilet paper and cleaning products containing alcohol.

    • The Good, the Sad and the Ugly

      The use of cattle chutes has been developed by our police since 9/11 and it now is a weapon in their arsenal used unabashedly to divide and control the population when there is some volatility in the air. Interestingly, the city of Philadelphia virtually shut the city down when Pope Francis was here recently. Many felt the control was way over the top. The most absurd use of metal cattle chutes is to create “first amendment zones” in an out of the way place where those in power won’t be bothered by discordant voices. But their use in something so humanly joyful as the Two Street Mummers Parade — something that’s about the interaction between performers and citizens — seems a particularly distasteful omen for Philadelphia’s future.

  • Internet/Net Neutrality

    • IPv6 celebrates its 20th birthday by reaching 10 percent deployment

      Twenty years ago this month, RFC 1883 was published: Internet Protocol, Version 6 (IPv6) Specification. So what’s an Internet Protocol, and what’s wrong with the previous five versions? And if version 6 is so great, why has it only been adopted by half a percent of the Internet’s users each year over the past two decades?

    • EFF Confirms: T-Mobile’s Binge On Optimization is Just Throttling, Applies Indiscriminately to All Video

      The first result of our test confirms that when Binge On is enabled, T-Mobile throttles all HTML5 video streams to around 1.5Mps, even when the phone is capable of downloading at higher speeds, and regardless of whether or not the video provider enrolled in Binge On. This is the case whether the video is being streamed or being downloaded—which means that T-Mobile is artificially reducing the download speeds of customers with Binge On enabled, even if they’re downloading the video to watch later. It also means that videos are being throttled even if they’re being watched or downloaded to another device via a tethered connection.

    • T-Mobile Is Flat Out Lying: It’s Throttling Video Even Though It Says It’s Not

      Big companies often have a way of tap dancing around the truth. It’s rarely lying, because they will choose their words carefully, in a manner that clearly misleads or distorts, but is not necessarily outright lying. T-Mobile, however, appears to be flat out lying. We recently wrote about the charges from YouTube that T-Mobile was throttling YouTube videos as part of its Binge On program that zero rates video on mobile phones so it doesn’t count against data caps. We noted the problems with this program when it launched, but YouTube’s claims take it even further.

    • Facebook’s ‘Free’ Internet Program Had a Rough Week

      Up to 3 million Egyptians lost their connection to the internet last week when Facebook’s Free Basics program was shut down on Wednesday. The reason for the shutdown of Facebook’s controversial Free Basics program, which launched in Egypt in October, is still not clear.

    • T-Mobile’s Binge On Indiscriminately Throttles All Video Content

      The more we learn about T-Mobile’s “Binge On” video streaming program, the more it seems to violate one of the basic tenets of the open internet: the idea that service providers shouldn’t have any control over what their connections are used to access.

      A new investigation by the Electronic Frontier Foundation has found that T-Mobile is throttling data speeds for videos from services that are not Binge On participants.

    • Everything You Need To Know About New Wi-Fi for the Internet of Things

      So far, the Wi-Fi Alliance is being pretty vague on the details about the new standard in terms of how much power it will consume, how far it will travel, and how much data it will be able to transfer (and how quickly). It does say that the new standard will use the 900 megahertz spectrum, which is currently unlicensed and used by microwave ovens, baby monitors and all sorts of other wireless devices. This means Wi-Fi will now work in three bands; the 2.4 GHz band, the 5 GHz band and the 900 MHz band.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • University Students Energise Global Campaign For Medical R&D Agreement

      UAEM, the international student organisation, has turned its attention to narrowing the gap in access to affordable medicines, especially those affecting developing countries, by calling for a new model for delinking the cost of R&D from prices of medical products.

    • Trademarks

      • ‘Le Journal d’Anne Frank’: sufficiently distinctive to be a trade mark, says OHIM Fourth Board of Appeal

        In a decision issued last summer that has so far escaped the IPKat’s attention, the Board overturned the earlier decision of the examiner and allowed designation of the European Union (EU) in respect of the international registration of the word mark ‘Le Journal d’Anne Frank’.

        The following analysis provided by IP enthusiast Nedim Malovic (Stockholm University) – also to be published as a Current Intelligence note for the Journal of Intellectual Property Law & Practice (Oxford University Press) – explains what happened.

    • Copyrights

      • And Of Course: Authors Guild Asks Supreme Court To Overturn Fair Use Ruling On Google Books
      • The Authors Guild files to take Google to the Supreme Court

        The Authors Guild has officially asked the Supreme Court to hear its case against Google — a long-running dispute over whether copyright law allows for Google to scan and post excerpts from books for its Google Books service. The group filed a writ of certiorari with the Supreme Court Thursday.

      • Homeland Security Admits It Seized A Hip Hop Blog For Five Years Despite No Evidence Of Infringement; RIAA Celebrates

        Last month, we were actually the first publication to report that Homeland Security had very quietly “returned” two domains that it had “seized” five years ago based entirely on totally bullshit claims from the RIAA. We focused our story on the search engine torrent-finder, but also mentioned that it appeared that DHS had returned OnSmash.com as well. As we had noted, back when the domain was first seized, OnSmash was a popular hip hop blog that many in the industry purposely sent their music to, because it was great for marketing and publicity. In fact, Kanye West had been known to promote OnSmash himself. That doesn’t sound like a site “dedicated to infringement” as Homeland Security’s ICE division claimed in the affidavit used to seize the website.

      • Here We Go Again: All The Works That Should Now Be In The Public Domain, But Aren’t

        Each year, for the past few years, the wonderful Center for the Study of the Public Domain at Duke University publishes a blog post highlighting key works that should have entered the public domain on January first, but did not. And each year, we write about it again. Here is the list for 2016. These are mostly works that were published in 1959. Under the law at the time they were created, the maximum copyright term was 56 years, and that apparently was more than enough of a bargain for the work to be created. That we retroactively extended those works, taking away the public domain for no actual benefit, remains a travesty. The list includes books like Robert Heinlein’s Starship Troopers, William Burroughs’ The Naked Lunch, Richard Condon’s The Manchurian Candidate, and Strunk and White’s famed The Elements of Style. Films that should be in the public domain today include Ben-Hur, North by Northwest, and Some Like It Hot. The original season of the seminal Rocky and Bullwinkle show would also be in the public domain.

      • ‘Mein Kampf’ copyright expires

        “Mein Kampf”, the manifesto of Adolf Hitler, will be available to buy in Germany for the first time in 70 years after the book’s copyright expired.

      • Anne Frank’s Diary… And Hitler’s Mein Kampf Hit The Public Domain In Europe – Despite Concerns About Both

        Anne Frank and Adolf Hitler both died in 1945 — with Frank’s death being caused by Hitler. European law (for now) says that copyright lasts 70 years “after death” of an author, and that means that the published writings of each of those individuals are now in the public domain in Europe — though there’s serious controversy about both. Even though we won’t see any new public domain works here in the US for quite some time, over in Europe, at least some works are able to enter the public domain each January 1st.

      • Dropbox Scores Patent for Peer-to-Peer Syncing

        Dropbox has obtained a patent for peer-to-peer synchronization. The technology allows users to securely share files across different devices without uploading these to Dropbox’s centralized servers. According to the company this should improve download speeds while cryptographic keys ensure that there are no sync conflicts.


Links 4/1/2016: Jolla Tablets, 4MLinux 15.0, Budgie Desktop

Posted in News Roundup at 7:48 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish



Free Software/Open Source

  • Meshed Again In 2016

    As of January 1st 2016, my main work focus is once again Meshed Insights Ltd., which we’ve kept ticking over during 2015. Working at Wipro was an interesting experiment, but frankly I did not enjoy it at all. I could have probably have lingered there indefinitely if I’d wanted, but leaving on December 31st was entirely my own decision. The company is simply not ready to speak up for software freedom or encourage its clients to set themselves free from the proprietary vendors Wipro loves and from which it profits.

  • My biggest benefit of open source wasn’t what it was supposed to be

    Earlier this year I built my first real Open Source Software (OSS) project. I saw a problem that hadn’t been solved and I decided to fix it. It took some long nights, but eventually I released it. Other people eventually ran into the same problem I had and decided to use my project for their solution. Now, this project isn’t huge by any means. It’s not Redux, Babel, or React Router. You’ve probably never even heard of it. However, it’s big enough that I’ve learned many things about building an open source project that people rely on for their production apps. Surprisingly, my biggest and most valuable take away wasn’t what I thought it would be because it’s not in the usual “the benefits of building an OSS project” list.

  • OS.js Is A New Javascript Based Open Source Operating System Running In Your Browser

    OS.js is a free and open source operating system that runs in your web browser. Based on Javascript, this operating system comes with a fully-fledged window manager, ability to install applications, access to virtual filesystems and a lot more. Read more to know about the OS in detail.

  • My 2015 and looking at 2016

    Today 2015 end and 2016 begins. So I want to use the opportunity to look back what happened in the ownCloud world in the last 12 month but also in my personal life.

    I’m very thankful to work with so many skilled, friendly and dedicated people in the ownCloud community to push this idea and product forward. This is just amazing.

  • Reverse Engineering the GoPro Cineform codec

    Following the fine traditions of great codec reverse engineers it has now become the norm to write-up the trials and tribulations of the process.

  • Five Reasons To Upgrade Your ownCloud

    I know, upgrading can be a pain, it is work and all that. But so are problems in old versions of software you’re running and even more so is security. We’re working on a new upgrade process for 9.0.

  • libusb: Maintainer fail

    In 2010 I was asked by the second maintainer in a row to take over as new maintainer of the libusb project. The first time I had declined.

  • Events

    • Access Without Empowerment (LibrePlanet 2015 Keynote)

      At LibrePlanet 2015 (the FSF’s annual conference), I gave a talk called “Access Without Empowerment” as one of the conference keynote addresses. As I did for my 2013 LibrePlanet talk, I’ve edited together a version that includes the slides and I’ve posted it online in WebM and on YouTube.

  • Web Browsers

    • 32-bit vs 64-bit browsers: which version has the edge?

      The majority of web browsers are offered as 32-bit and 64-bit version nowadays, and it is up to the user to decide which version to run on the computer.

      This comparison guide analyzes the performance of select browsers to find out which version of it performs better.

    • Mozilla

      • W^X JIT-code enabled in Firefox

        Back in June, I added an option to SpiderMonkey to enable W^X protection of JIT code. The past weeks I’ve been working on fixing the remaining performance issues and yesterday I enabled W^X on the Nightly channel, on all platforms. What this means is that each page holding JIT code is either executable or writable, never both at the same time.


        Last but not least, thanks to the OpenBSD and HardenedBSD teams for being brave enough to flip the W^X switch before we did!

  • SaaS/Big Data

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice

    • LibreOffice finally making it to the cloud

      LibreOffice is the best free and open-source standalone office suite. But these days, people like their office suites on the cloud, not on their PCs. Just look at the success of Google Docs and Office 365 and you’ll see what I mean.

      Since 2011, LibreOffice has been trying to make a software-as-a-service (SaaS) cloud version. Finally, in March 2015, Collabora was successful in creating a SaaS version of LibreOffice. That was the good news. The bad news? It wasn’t ready for primetime.

    • The way you write

      These two different approaches do not necessarily highlight the superiority of the word processor; after all one could imagine an html template instead of one in OpenDocument Format or proprietary one. What it shows, however, is that a word processor deals with documents in a visual way. A text editor sticks pretty much to the text itself. The rest can be dealt with in other ways, either externally or in a programmatic method (with LaTex for instance). My point here is to stress that the two kind of tools rely on broadly different approaches.

  • Education

    • DigiVita uses Blender to teach girls to code

      The field of computer graphics has continued to prove itself as fertile ground for getting kids interested in code and technology. It isn’t just about the extremely gratifying feeling of creating cool-looking visuals on a computer. Since so many digital content creation programs (especially open source ones like Blender) feature built-in scripting support, it’s a natural avenue for fostering curiosity in code and software development.

  • Pseudo-/Semi-Open Source (Openwashing)

  • BSD

    • The Developer Formerly Known as FreeBSDGirl

      I’m still sad I had to leave. That is a heartbreak that will probably never go away. I’ll miss the conferences and hanging out with so many incredibly talented people to discuss an operating system and open source project that I loved. This project helped me get to where I am today. I’m not advocating that minorities don’t join FreeBSD, but I hope those in charge of the project read this and understand that they’ve got to do better. I hope someone else helps them find their way.

    • randi vs xmj

      If a volunteer project has a volunteer who is honestly so dysfunctional that he doesn’t understand why he is offensive, the project does not need him. And the volunteer needs to get help until he’s capable of behaving in a civilized manner.

    • The Empathy Gap, and Why Women are Treated Badly in Open Source Communities

      Some years ago, I contributed $1000 to be one of the seed funders of the Ada Initiative, which worked to assist women in participating in Open Source projects. That worked out for several years, and the organization had sort of an ugly meltdown in their last year that is best forgotten. There was something really admirable about the Ada Initiative in its good days, which is that it stuck to one message, stuck to the positive in helping women enter and continue in communities in which they were under-represented, and wasn’t anti-male. That’s the way we should do it.

    • Women, Let This Email Plugin Teach You to Be Confident Like A Man

      Sorry, I’m no expert, but have you ever, like, just noticed that women inject many kind of undermining phrases in their day-to-day speech?

    • Initial FreeBSD Core Team comments on concerns about harassment in the FreeBSD community

      A brief comment on the Code of Conduct. The Project’s committer guide has long required that developers treat each other with respect. Community members will hopefully be aware of the more recent (and concrete) Code of Conduct (CoC). This document, already under development, was rushed into service (leading to less feedback sought than we would have liked) in July 2015 as a result of Randi’s report — and has since been updated several times following community (and legal) feedback. This CoC is critical to both documenting — and enforcing — community standards. It is, of necessity, a living document, and in October 2015 we appealed to the FreeBSD developer community for volunteers to assist with further improvements. We also solicited a number of independent reviewers from broader open-source, corporate, and academic communities to assist with updating it further (as well as auditing it for implicit bias). The FreeBSD developer community was this week (re-)invited to contact the Core Team about joining that committee, which had its most recent teleconference in the last week of December.


    • GIMP & GEGL Made Much Progress In 2015

      Alexandre Prokoudine of GIMP has written an annual report on the project and its GEGL port.

      In 2015 much progress was made on GEGL, painting improvements were made, improved file format support happened, and much more. Lots of progress was made and can be found right now in the GIMP 2.9 test releases though it will culminate with the GIMP 2.10 stable release in the future.

    • GIMP and GEGL in 2015

      The GIMP project has released its annual year-end retrospective, looking back on development on the GIMP editor itself, project infrastructure, and closely related software projects like the Generic Graphics Library (GEGL). Highlights from the past twelve months include the conversion of more tools to using GEGL operations, support for a new perceptual color space, and improvements to image-blending modes. Several new features were added to support painting (including on-screen-canvas flipping and rotation), and work was put into the UI themes.

    • GIMP and GEGL in 2015

      We hope you are having great holidays. Here is our annual report about project activities in 2015.

  • Openness/Sharing

    • Perl 6, EFF’s reading and watching lists, and more open source news

      In this fortnight’s edition of our open source news roundup, we take a look at the first official release of the Perl 6 language specification, a reading and watching list from the EFF, and more!

    • Best of Opensource.com: Interviews
    • Open Access/Content

      • Open Access Movement Demands More: 2015 in Review

        In October 2015, all six editors of the linguistics journal Lingua quit at once, along with its 31-member editorial board. The walkout brought mainstream attention to a debate that has been brewing for years over the future of academic publishing.

    • Open Hardware

      • The Hovalin: Open Source 3D Printed Violin Sounds Great

        Yes, there have been 3D-printed instruments before, but [The Hovas] have created something revolutionary – a 3D printed acoustic instrument that sounds surprisingly good. The Hovalin is a full size violin created to be printed on a desktop-sized 3D printer. The Hovas mention the Ultimaker 2, Makerbot Replicator 2 (or one of the many clones) as examples. The neck is one piece, while the body is printed in 3 sections. The Hovalin is also open source, released under the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share Alike license.

  • Programming

    • PHP 7.0 packages released

      Packages of the new major version of PHP have been released into the stable repositories. Besides the new PHP 7 features there are the following packaging changes. In general the package configuration is now closer to what was intended by the PHP project. Also refer to the PHP 7 migration guide for upstream improvements.

    • PHP 7.0 Enters Arch Linux Stable Repository

      PHP 7 entered the stable repositories and these packages now use a package configuration closer to upstream PHP.net. Some of the nice changes to the Arch packages are no longer setting open_basedir by default and building the OpenSSL, Phar, and POSIX extensions by default. These Arch changes will also make it easier running the Phoronix Test Suite out-of-the-box on Arch.

    • Moving some of Python to GitHub?

      Over the years, Python’s source repositories have moved a number of times, from CVS on SourceForge to Subversion at Python.org and, eventually, to Mercurial (aka hg), still on Python Software Foundation (PSF) infrastructure. But the new Python.org site code lives at GitHub (thus in a Git repository) and it looks like more pieces of Python’s source may be moving in that direction. While some are concerned about moving away from a Python-based DVCS (i.e. Mercurial) into a closed-source web service, there is a strong pragmatic streak in the Python community that may be winning out. For good or ill, GitHub has won the popularity battle over any of the other alternatives, so new contributors are more likely to be familiar with that service, which makes it attractive for Python.

    • Python Is Moving From Mercurial To GitHub

      For those that didn’t hear, Python developers will be abandoning their Mercurial-based repository and development workflow in favor of using a Git repository via GitHub.


  • Arriva trains in Wales hit by strike

    Arriva trains across Wales will not run on Monday because of a strike by drivers over terms and conditions.

    Aslef union members at Arriva Trains Wales are walking out for 24 hours, with all of the company’s services expected to be cancelled.

    Arriva’s Gareth Thomas said the company was “extremely disappointed” that the “latest offer of improvements to terms, conditions and pay” had been rejected.

  • What’s Your State’s Favorite F**king Expletive?

    Cursing is an almost universal pleasure. Why else would so many people learn the curse and slang words in different languages before learning any other phrases? But as U.K. linguist Jack Grieve recently found out, in the U.S., the way you curse depends on where you live.

  • iOS 9 kludged our iPhones, now give us money, claims new lawsuit

    Lawyers in New York have filed a class action lawsuit against Apple, saying that the iOS 9 operating system upgrade slowed their older iPhone 4S handsets into uselessness.

    “Plaintiff and other class members were faced with a difficult decision: use a buggy, slow device that disrupts everyday life or spend hundreds of dollars to buy another smartphone,” reads the lawsuit spotted by Apple Insider.

  • Helmet reading challenge 2016

    Both the participants of the 2015 reading challenge and library staff have suggested new items and many of them made it also to the list. The aim has been to create a reading challenge that will broaden your worldview, inspire, and surprise. And just like last year it’s open for everyone to come and join in the fun!

  • Welcome to another year of transformation

    Unfortunately, such boundary-breaking experiments are in short supply, constantly constrained by the mantra that change is impossible because of (insert your favorite bogeyman): the world economy, footloose corporations, human nature, the weakening of governments, corruption in politics, the decline of the public, too much TV and far too much Rupert Murdoch. If we believe that only small changes are possible in our political and economic systems, then small change is all we’re going to see—another turn of the wheel with little or no forward movement.

  • Science

    • Arne Duncan: Testocracy Tsar. Educational Alchemist. Corporate Lackey.

      For example, in order for states to compete for grant money under Race to the Top, Duncan required them to increase the use of standardized testing in teacher evaluations. Duncan’s championing of the Common Core State Standards—and the tests that came shrink-wrapped with them—has ushered in developmentally inappropriate standards in the early grades that punish late bloomers, while further entrenching the idea that the intellectual and emotional process of teaching and learning can be reduced to a test score. For many, Duncan will be remembered as an educational alchemist who attempted to turn education into “testucation”—with the average student today subjected to an outlandish 112 standardized tests between preschool and high school graduation. The highest concentration of these tests are in schools serving low-income students and students of color.

    • Happy 1.5 Billion Unix Seconds

      On Jan. 1, 1970, Unix time was born. It didn’t actually exist on that day; the Unix operating system only kind of/sort of existed then anyhow. But when the first edition of the Unix manual was released in 1971, it was thus declared that the beginning of Unix time—the Unix epoch, correctly—hath began on New Year’s Day, 1970.

      Maybe you’ve heard of the Unix epoch. Simply, it’s the reference date that Unix-based computers use to tell time. It is just a count of the number of seconds that have elapsed since the beginning of the epoch. If you’re running a Unix or Unix-like machine, you can get this count in its raw form by entering “date +%s” at the command line/terminal. (“Date” by itself will just give you the boring old date-date.) As of this writing, we’re at 1,451,688,846 seconds.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Congress Did Not Legalize Medical Marijuana

      Contrary to what you may have heard, the federal ban has not been lifted.

    • Venezuela Passes Law Banning GMOs, by Popular Demand

      The National Assembly of Venezuela, in its final session before a neoliberal dominated opposition takes the helm of legislative power on January 5, passed one of the most progressive seed laws in the world on December 23, 2015; it was promptly signed into law by President Nicolas Maduro. On December 29, during his television show, “In Contact with Maduro, number 52,” Maduro said that the new seed law provides the conditions to produce food “under an agro-ecological model that respects the pacha mama (mother earth) and the right of our children to grow up healthy, eating healthy.” The law is a victory for the international movements for agroecology and food sovereignty because it bans transgenic (GMO) seed while protecting local seed from privatization. The law is also a product of direct participatory democracy –the people as legislator– in Venezuela, because it was hammered out through a deliberative partnership between members of the country’s National Assembly and a broad-based grassroots coalition of eco-socialist, peasant, and agroecological oriented organizations and institutions. This essay provides an overview of the phenomenon of people as legislator, a summary of the new Seed Law, and an appendix with an unofficial translation of some of the articles of the law.

    • The Shockingly High Number of Casualties of America’s Nuclear Weapons Program

      This point is borne out by a recently-published study by a team of investigative journalists at McClatchy News. Drawing upon millions of government records and large numbers of interviews, they concluded that employment in the nation’s nuclear weapons plants since 1945 led to 107,394 American workers contracting cancer and other serious diseases. Of these people, some 53,000 judged by government officials to have experienced excessive radiation on the job received $12 billion in compensation under the federal government’s Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Program. And 33,480 of these workers have died.

  • Security

  • Defence/Police/Secrecy/Aggression

    • Outside the box: a Sunni endgame in Syria, Iraq?

      In October, a group of 53 Saudi imams unaffiliated with the government called for a jihad against the Russian, Iranian and Syrian governments. The group went even further than official condemnation and likened the Russian intervention to the 1980 war in Afghanistan—which led to the birth of Al Qaeda, in case anyone has forgotten. It is significant that the Saudi government allowed or was not able to stop the communication; the former would indicate approval of the intensified message while the latter would imply weakness and the desire of the Saudis to avoid internal dissension from the more radical clergy.

    • Man charged with setting Houston mosque fire says he was a devout attendee

      A Houston man has been arrested in connection with a suspected arson at a mosque on Christmas Day, but the motive for the crime remains a mystery, with the suspect maintaining he was a regular at the mosque.

    • Refugee Crisis Leaves the Deepest, and Cruelest, Mark on 2015

      A few things happened in 2015 that changed lives for the better. But not many in a year that ended with mass murder and the mean, sneering Donald Trump a top contender for the presidency.

      There wasn’t even much pleasure from watching pharmaceutical villain Martin Shkreli, in hoodie and facial stubble, perp-walked out of his Manhattan apartment to face security fraud charges. The pleasure was mean-spirited, hardly worthy of an essay on the year that was. And his worse transgression—making vital medicines virtually unaffordable—goes unpunished.

    • 74 Killed in Iraq; ISIS Attacks Ramadi Army Base

      At least six suicide bombers were killed during an attack on an army base near Ramadi. The army was forced to pull out due to an undisclosed number of casualties. With the help of airstrikes, the army was able to retake the desert base later.

    • Back to the 1930s: Hitler, Da’esh and the West

      Whilst Da’esh are constantly being compared to the Nazis, the real parallel – the West’s willingness to build up fascism in order to cripple Russia – is often forgotten.

    • Syria ­- A Light to the World

      Many Syrians are traumatized and in shock and ask ‘how did this happen to our country’? Proxy wars are something they thought only happened in other countries, but now Syria too has been turned into a war-ground in the geo-political landscape controlled by the western global elite and their allies in the Middle East.

    • Taliban Rising

      The resurgence of the Taliban in Afghanistan, where they recently mounted a major military operation in Helmand province in the south and where throughout the rest of the country they are increasingly active, is emphatic evidence that NATO’s prolonged military mission there has been a dismal failure. This failure is not however a measure of the failure to impose a liberal democracy in the country but in the lives destroyed in the attempt.

    • Slouching Toward Global Disaster

      In such circumstances, it is difficult to find much hope in the current cosmodrama of world politics.

    • Hard roads across Iraq, Syria and beyond: Freedom and safety are scarce five years after the Arab Spring

      I was planning to visit Baghdad last summer and stay with my friend Ammar al-Shahbander, who ran the local office of the Institute for War and Peace Reporting. I had stayed with him for 10 days in June 2014, just after Isis forces had captured Mosul and Tikrit and were advancing with alarming speed on the capital.

      Ammar was a good man to be with in a moment of crisis because he had strong nerves, an ebullient personality and was highly informed about all that was happening in Iraq. He was sceptical but not cynical, though refreshingly derisive as the Iraqi government claimed mythical victories as Isis fighters approached ever closer to the capital. He did not believe that they could successfully storm Baghdad, but that did not mean they would not try – and one morning I found him handing over a Kalashnikov to somebody to have its sights readjusted.

    • Value of gun manufacturers’ stocks almost doubled in 2015

      Stock markets around the world closed down on the last trading day of 2015, with the Dow suffering its first annual drop since 2008. But for the two largest stock market-listed gun manufacturers 2015 has been another great year – their value has doubled.

      In a year marred with gun violence and peppered with calls for tougher gun control measures, Smith & Wesson and Sturm, Ruger and Company have been two of the best performing stocks in the US.

    • Fox’s Ingraham Denies Reality Of Gun Show Loophole And Public Support For Gun Background Checks
    • We Are Still Alive (Non-Terrorism Edition)

      Hard as it is to persuade a constantly re-frightened American public, there have been only 38 Americans killed inside the Homeland by so-called Islamic terrorism since 9/11.


      We are not terrorists. No one was hurt. No bombs went off. Almost all of our homegrown lone wolves are all Google and no game. It was all panic, designed to keep us in a state of fear. Fearful people are easy to manipulate.

      Stop being afraid.

    • The Year in Gun Massacres

      Most of the 2015 mass shooters were clearly unbalanced, violent and some had police records or issued threats. Anyone could see the murders coming. Yet the gunmen had sailed through their background checks and were the “law-abiding” gun owners whose “rights” the gun lobby defends.

    • The Year in Drones: 2015

      Israel is the world’s number one exporter of drones, followed by the US, then China.

    • Gallup: Ukrainians Loathe the Kiev Government Imposed by Obama

      Gallup reports, “fewer Ukrainians now say their leadership is taking them in the right direction than before the revolution,” but that statement calling this coup a ‘revolution’ embodies the propaganda-lie of one of Gallup’s main clients, the U.S. government itself, which calls the U.S. coup in Ukraine in February 2014 a “revolution,” when every honest and knowledgeable person now knows that this U.S. government claim — that it had helped install democracy instead of having ended it in Ukraine on 20 February 2014 — to have been a lie. Even the founder of the “private CIA” firm Stratfor has called the overthrow of Yanukovych “the most blatant coup in history.” It had been that because it was the first coup to be videoed by numerous people from many different angles with their cellphones and by TV cameras, uploaded to the Web by even anti-Yanukovych countries such as the UK’s BBC; and those videos, the best compilation of which is here, make clear that this was, indeed, a coup d’etat, no authentic revolution at all, such as the U.S. government claims.

    • The War Against the Cowboys

      The Oregon stand off and US imperialism

    • CNN Analyst: White Militiamen Aren’t a Threat Like Black Protesters Because ‘They’re Not Looting Anything’
    • On #OregonUnderAttack and #YallQaeda: Stop Calling Everyone a Terrorist
    • The Great Oregon Standoff Enters Its First Day
    • Armed Militia Occupies National Wildlife Refuge
    • As The Bundy Brothers Occupy Federal Building, Here Are The GOP Candidates Who Supported Their Dad
    • What You Need To Know About The Current Militia Standoff In Oregon
    • Chuck Todd Doesn’t Ask Rand Paul About Militia Takeover Involving Sons Of Ally Cliven Bundy
    • Media Coverage of Oregon Militia Standoff Raises Eyebrows — and Ire

      After members of a rightwing militia—many armed with assault rifles—seized the headquarters of a federal wildlife refuge in Oregon on Saturday afternoon, observers questioned the corporate media’s treatment of the event, pointing to a double standard in coverage compared to other recent protests.

    • Armed Protesters in Oregon Occupy Remote Federal Outpost at Wildlife Refuge After Marching Against Sentence of Father and Son Ranchers

      Yesterday afternoon, as many as 300 demonstrators gathered in Burns, Oregon, to protest a federal appeals court’s decision to extend the length of a sentence handed down by a district chief judge in the arson case of ranchers father and son Dwight and Steven Hammond.

      The two started a series of range fires on their private property which eventually spread onto federal land. The federal government prosecuted them in 2012 on an array of charges, from conspiracy to attempting to damage property through fire. They were found guilty on only two arson counts, which covered activities (setting fires) the Hammonds admitted to. As part of their plea deal, they agreed not to appeal their sentences. 73-year-old Dwight Hammond was sentenced to three years in prison and his 46-year-old son Steven to 11 months, below the mandatory minimum of five years, which the judge, Michael Hogan, called “grossly disproportionate” and said would “shock his conscience.”

    • Large Group Of Armed Militia Members Take Over Federal Building

      A large group of armed militia members have broken into and occupied a federal building in Oregon. The group reportedly includes three sons of Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy, who had a tense standoff with federal officials in 2014.

    • Armed Militia Seized A Federal Building. The Media Called Them ‘Peaceful.’

      After an armed militia seized a federal building in Oregon — and proclaimed they’re willing to kill and be killed if necessary — the initial headlines about the incident suggested they’re simply peaceful protesters exercising their right to assemble.

      This weekend, radical militia members descended on an Oregon town to protest the conviction of two local ranchers facing multiple years in prison for setting fire to federal land. The right-wing protesters say that the federal government shouldn’t have so much jurisdiction over land use.

      In order to provoke a standoff with federal officials over this point, at least a dozen “heavily armed men” broke into the empty headquarters of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Harney County, Oregon on Saturday evening and refused to leave. Ammon Bundy, a spokesman for the group, told reporters that the militia “would not rule out violence” if officials attempt to remove them from the refuge building.

    • US warns Saudi Arabia’s execution of prominent cleric risks inflaming sectarian tensions

      Saudi Arabia’s execution of prominent Shia cleric Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr risks worsening sectarian tensions, the US has warned, joining a chorus of critics from the west and the Middle East who have condemned the killing.

      As protesters in Tehran reacted with fury by setting fire to the Saudi embassy, US state department spokesman John Kirby said in a statement that the US was “particularly concerned” that al-Nimr’s execution risked “exacerbating sectarian tensions at a time when they urgently need to be reduced.”

    • Unidentified Bodies Found; 88 Killed in Iraq
    • Top Investigator Says British Soldiers May Face Prosecution for Iraq Crimes

      “The ICC is looking at more than 1,200 cases of alleged ill-treatment and unlawful killing,” the paper reported, “including almost 50 Iraqis who reportedly died in British custody.”

      Meanwhile, the Chilcot Inquiry into Britain’s involvement in the Iraq War—which itself has been blasted as a “whitewash”—began in 2009 but has yet to issue its findings.

    • British soldiers could face prosecution for crimes committed during Iraq conflict, investigators confirm

      Exclusive: The unit established to test allegations of torture and unlawful killings has been overwhelmed with cases

    • Turkey’s President Erdogan cites ‘Hitler’s Germany’ as example of an effective form of government

      Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has defended his push for a presidential system of government by citing “Hitler’s Germany” as an historic example.

      The President has pushed ahead with efforts to increase the stature of his own position, despite fears it would split the country’s seat of power in two.

    • A-Z of Drones 2015 – Part Three

      The normalisation of drone targeted killing took a step forward in 2015 as the UK wholeheartedly embraced the tactic. Parliamentarians, US Senators, the United Nations and civil society groups continue to struggle to, at the very least, limit such activity and gain some oversight of the process. Transparency, however, is in short supply and government contempt for proper public oversight, never mind curbing the practice, is obvious. Meanwhile BAE Systems’ Taranis combat drone continued its test programme with a third (and reportedly final) set of flight tests in November. The drone, or a derivative of it, is likely to be a contender for the UK’s Future Combat Air System (FCAS) likely to see some funding decision in 2016.

    • The GOP Plan to Bring Back a Unipolar World

      Republicans seem to think that by banging the drum for increased defense spending, they can restore America’s greatness. They’re wrong.

    • Hearing the Russian Perspective

      The neocons and liberal hawks who dominate the U.S. foreign policy and media establishment are pushing the world toward a nuclear showdown with Russia as few people hear a comprehensive response from the other side, an imbalance that a new Russian documentary addresses

    • Al-Qaeda or ISIS? Al-Shabab’s loyalty dilemma

      In the decades following the anti-Soviet resistance in Afghanistan in the 1980s, al-Qaeda represented the primary face of the global jihadi movement. Daniel Bynum, a senior fellow at the Center for Middle East Policy at Brookings Institution, argues that Osama Bin Laden sought to capitalise on the network of fighters they had built in Afghanistan to “create a vanguard of elite fighters who could lead the global jihad project and bring together the hundreds of small jihadist groups struggling, often feebly, against their own regimes under a single umbrella.” By the mid-1990s the orientation of this network shifted from local regimes to what they perceived to be their source of sustenance: the United States and the west. Over the next decade, al-Qaeda employed a franchising strategy, which was most attractive to smaller groups on the brink of failure who required much needed financial assistance, a steady stream of recruits, training and logistical support. In return, franchises provide a potential local haven for al-Qaeda members and enable them to remain relevant. This franchise model continues to be attractive for al-Shabab despite the rise of ISIS.

    • How False Stories of Iran Arming the Houthis Were Used to Justify War in Yemen

      The allegation of Iranian arms shipments to the Houthis – an allegation that has often been mentioned in press coverage of the conflict but never proven – was reinforced by a report released last June by a panel of experts created by the UN Security Council: The report concluded that Iran had been shipping arms to the Houthi rebels in Yemen by sea since at least 2009. But an investigation of the two main allegations of such arms shipments made by the Yemeni government and cited by the expert panel shows that they were both crudely constructed ruses.

    • The American Empire: Murder Inc.

      Terror, intimidation and violence are the glue that holds empire together. Aerial bombardment, drone and missile attacks, artillery and mortar strikes, targeted assassinations, massacres, the detention of tens of thousands, death squad killings, torture, wholesale surveillance, extraordinary renditions, curfews, propaganda, a loss of civil liberties and pliant political puppets are the grist of our wars and proxy wars.

      Countries we seek to dominate, from Indonesia and Guatemala to Iraq and Afghanistan, are intimately familiar with these brutal mechanisms of control. But the reality of empire rarely reaches the American public. The few atrocities that come to light are dismissed as isolated aberrations. The public is assured what has been uncovered will be investigated and will not take place again. The goals of empire, we are told by a subservient media and our ruling elites, are virtuous and noble. And the vast killing machine grinds forward, feeding, as it has always done, the swollen bank accounts of defense contractors and corporations that exploit natural resources and cheap labor around the globe.

  • Transparency Reporting

    • LETTER: No democracy as council bans public and media

      Perhaps Arun should consider acting more like a democracy and less like a totalitarian regime?

    • EFF Fights for the Public’s Right to Know: 2015 in Review

      2015 was a busy year for transparency at EFF. We are currently litigating 10 different public records cases—the highest number of transparency cases EFF has had pending at one time in our 25 year history. The majority of the cases are in federal courts (in San Francisco and Washington, D.C.), although we have two cases pending in California state courts.

      Here’s a brief, year-end rundown of each case, including what we’re after, who we sued, and the status of the case.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife

    • China clamps down on coal

      China says it will not approve any new coal mines for the next three years. The country’s National Energy Administration (NEA) says more than 1,000 existing mines will also be closed over the coming year, reducing total coal production by 70 million tons.

    • Court website hacked in protest over dismissed haze lawsuit

      The website of a district court in a South Sumatran city has been hacked as a protest against a ruling it made last week rejecting a government lawsuit against PT Bumi Mekar Hijau, which was accused of failing to prevent fires that blanketed South-east Asia in toxic haze.

      The hacker or hackers wrote on the website of the Palembang District Court of the disappointment with the panel of judges, led by presiding judge Parlas Nababan.

      The words were written in white against a black background on the website.

    • Palembang District Court finds no damages after forest fires

      Delivering the decision on Wednesday, the court said that the evidence collected in the case against PT Bumi Mekar Hijau (BMH, failed prove its alleged criminality in the burning of 20,000 hectares of its concession in Ogan Komering Ilir, South Sumatra, in 2014.

    • Red Lake Nation Agrees to $18.5 Million Settlement with Enbridge
    • Even Tumbling Fossil Fuel Prices Can’t Deter Clean Energy Revolution

      One of the biggest stories of 2015 was the sharp decline of oil prices, which fell this year to levels not seen in more than a decade.

      “After plunging from more than $100 a barrel to nearly $50 a barrel last year, U.S. oil prices fell 30 percent in 2015 to $37.04 a barrel,” the Wall Street Journal reported Thursday.

    • Double dilemma for Paris climate deal

      The UN’s achievement last month in persuading world leaders to agree on measures to tackle climate change leaves two prominent climate scientists far from convinced.

    • I Was Wrong: Big Banks Actually Were Exactly Like Counterfeiters

      In a recent post about the new movie The Big Short, I argued that it’s not actually necessary to decipher the abstruse jargon of the 2008 financial crisis — i.e., credit default swaps, mezzanine tranches, synthetic collateralized debt obligations, etc. — in order to understand what happened. What the big banks did during the housing bubble of the mid-2000s was in essence straightforward counterfeiting. The difference between what they did and regular counterfeiting was simply the kind of fake paper; regular counterfeiters print fake, valueless cash, while the banks were printing fake, valueless bonds.

    • During Paris Climate Summit, Obama Signed Exxon-, Koch-Backed Bill Expediting Pipeline Permits

      Just over a week before the U.S. signed the Paris climate agreement at the conclusion of the COP21 United Nations summit, President Barack Obama signed a bill into law with a provision that expedites permitting of oil and gas pipelines in the United States.

  • Finance

    • At Stake in 2016: Ending the Vicious Cycle of Wealth and Power

      Billionaires like Donald Trump can use bankruptcy to escape debts but average people can’t get relief from burdensome mortgage or student debt payments.

    • 2016: The Year of the Billionaire
    • The Great Malaise Continues

      At the same time, the US suffers from a milder form of the fiscal austerity prevailing in Europe. Indeed, some 500,000 fewer people are employed by the public sector in the US than before the crisis. With normal expansion in government employment since 2008, there would have been two million more.

    • Sanders: Billionaires won’t ‘rule this nation’

      Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) is making a New Year’s resolution not to let the billionaire class take control of the nation — starting with Donald Trump.

      “I say to Mr. Trump and his supporters that the billionaires in this country will not continue to rule this nation,” Sanders said at an Amherst, Mass., rally on Saturday, according to the Washington Examiner.

      The Democratic presidential hopeful said his fourth-quarter fundraising haul of $33 million, announced Saturday, is a sign that a political revolution is underway.

      “What is revolutionary about all of that is we are showing you that you can run a national campaign … without being dependent on big money,” he said.

    • The shocking, unacceptable levels of hunger and homelessness in American cities

      The U.S. Conference of Mayors today released its 2015 Hunger and Homelessness Survey, which gathered information on 22 cities around the country between Sept. 1, 2014, and Aug. 31, 2015. The cities reported on are led by mayors who serve on the U.S. Conference of Mayors’ Task Force on Hunger and Homelessness.

    • Privilege, Pathology and Power

      Modern America is a society in which a growing share of income and wealth is concentrated in the hands of a small number of people, and these people have huge political influence — in the early stages of the 2016 presidential campaign, around half the contributions came from fewer than 200 wealthy families. The usual concern about this march toward oligarchy is that the interests and policy preferences of the very rich are quite different from those of the population at large, and that is surely the biggest problem.

      But it’s also true that those empowered by money-driven politics include a disproportionate number of spoiled egomaniacs. Which brings me to the current election cycle.

    • Chris Christie Refuses To Help Unemployed New Jersey Residents Hold Onto Food Stamps

      About 11,000 New Jersey residents are set to lose their food stamps after Gov. Chris Christie (R)’s administration said it won’t seek any waivers from the program’s work requirements.

      Since 2009, state governors have been encouraged to get waivers from the federal government for the requirement that able-bodied, childless adults work at least 20 hours a week to enroll in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), or food stamps, thanks to a weak economy where jobs have been scarce. Those waivers are now being rescinded in states with unemployment levels below 10 percent.

    • The Final Days of the Bitcoin Foundation?

      With support dwindling, funds almost depleted, and ex-board members under criminal investigation, bitcoin’s pioneering advocacy group is a symbol for the digital currency’s growing pains.

    • Should the Fed Issue Its Own Bitcoin?

      Economic exchange depends critically on secure and trustworthy payment systems. Because payment systems are fundamentally about recording and communicating information, it should come as no surprise that payment systems have evolved in tandem with advancements in electronic data storage and communications.

      One exciting development of late is Bitcoin–an algorithmic-based, communally-operated money and payment system. I thought I’d take some time to gather my thoughts on Bitcoin and to ponder how central banks might respond to this innovation.

    • Kshama Sawant: For Many Millennials, the Dirty Word Is ‘Capitalism,’ Not ‘Socialism’
    • Of course ‘socialism’ was most-searched term of 2015: its ideas fit our times

      There is a decisive mood of resistance in America – a backlash to the status quo. The Bernie Sanders campaign for president is capturing that mood, and it is no surprise that ‘socialism’ was the most looked-up word in 2015.


      There is deep anger against gaping income inequality and systemic racism. People are hungry for political alternatives that will serve their interests for a change instead of the insatiable greed of Wall Street.

    • Israel Exported $400,000 of Gold to North Korea Despite UN Sanctions

      So what do you call it when America’s bestest friend violates UN sanctions the U.S. pushed for by helping enrich America’s bestest enemy? And all the while the U.S. remains dead silent over the whole thing?

  • PR/AstroTurf/Lobbying

    • Sheldon Adelson’s Purchase of Las Vegas Paper Seen as a Power Play

      Sheldon Adelson’s Purchase of Las Vegas Paper Seen as a Power Play – The New York TimesTwo days after Sheldon Adelson’s lawyers lost in their attempts to have a judge removed from a contentious lawsuit that threatens his gambling empire, a call went out to the publisher of this city’s most prominent newspaper.

      Almost immediately, journalists were summoned to a meeting and told they must monitor the courtroom actions of the judge and two others in the city. When the journalists protested, they were told there was no choice in the matter.

      It is unclear whether Mr. Adelson, who was then in talks to buy the newspaper, The Las Vegas Review-Journal, or his associates were behind the directive or even knew about it. But it was an ominous coincidence for many in the city who worry what will become of the paper now that it is owned by Mr. Adelson, a billionaire casino magnate and prominent Republican donor with a history of aggressively pursuing his interests.

    • Ringing in New Year, Sanders Urges Iowans to Make ‘Political Revolution’ Happen

      The Sanders campaign also released a statement on Thursday at the end of a three-day swing through the state trumpeting the over 34,000 people that have come to Sanders-sponsored campaign events since his White house bid began in April.

      “I am very pleased that the turnouts at our meetings have been large and seem to be getting larger every day,” Sanders said in a media statement.

      “We sense real growing momentum here in Iowa and we think we have a great opportunity to win,” he added.

    • Why Isn’t the Media Feeling the Bern?

      Polls show that Bernie Sanders would trounce Donald Trump, but you’d never know that from watching TV news.

    • Identity Berned

      These books don’t make me like Bernie Sanders any more or less, or for that matter take seriously any more or less the idea that a likable personality is particularly relevant. But they do inform me about Sanders and about his supporters. Bunch’s is the most substantive, best researched, and most coherent book of the bunch so far.


      Yes, I agree that Bernie’s injecting of a little bit of sense into corporate television is important and very hard to measure. Yes, I have no doubt that there’s a bit more integrity and relevance in Bernie’s background than there was in the legend of the African-American community-organizing author come to save us while shrewdly pretending not to. But Bernie holding the biggest political rallies in some big cities since Eugene McCarthy may not be an unmixed blessing.

    • News Media Infatuated With Donald Trump, Part 4,387

      Would the Post do this for any other candidate doing something as routine as airing an ad? Has it really been long-awaited? Or hotly anticipated? And shouldn’t that last line say “cable news and print media offered ‘exclusive’ looks”?

      I know it’s tedious to complain about the mainstream media going gaga over everything Donald Trump says, but WTF? It’s an ad. There’s nothing special about it. It’s just a narrator saying the same stuff Trump has been saying forever. It’s not raising the temperature of anything. So why not just write a short blog post about it and move on?

    • Behind the Ronald Reagan myth: “No one had ever entered the White House so grossly ill informed”

      No one had ever entered the White House so grossly ill informed. At presidential news conferences, especially in his first year, Ronald Reagan embarrassed himself. On one occasion, asked why he advocated putting missiles in vulnerable places, he responded, his face registering bewilderment, “I don’t know but what maybe you haven’t gotten into the area that I’m going to turn over to the secretary of defense.” Frequently, he knew nothing about events that had been headlined in the morning newspaper. In 1984, when asked a question he should have fielded easily, Reagan looked befuddled, and his wife had to step in to rescue him. “Doing everything we can,” she whispered. “Doing everything we can,” the president echoed. To be sure, his detractors sometimes exaggerated his ignorance. The publication of his radio addresses of the 1950s revealed a considerable command of facts, though in a narrow range. But nothing suggested profundity. “You could walk through Ronald Reagan’s deepest thoughts,” a California legislator said, “and not get your ankles wet.”

    • The Obama Report Card: The Good, the Bad and the Incomplete
    • Carly Fiorina Wins 2016 Pandering Championship After Only 11 Hours

      What really puts this over the top is the fact that it’s so chuckleheaded. No real Iowa fan would have anything but contempt for a Stanford grad who abandoned her school just for a chance to become president of the United States.

    • CNN Commentator Blames Hillary Clinton For Terrorist Recruitment Video Featuring Donald Trump
    • Dear Republican Party, Here’s Why You’re Stuck With Donald Trump

      The conservative establishment will never figure out Trump unless they start talking honestly about their base and race.

    • Donald Trump Featured In New Terrorist Recruitment Video

      Presidential candidate Donald Trump is featured in a new recruitment video from the terrorist group Al-Shabab, according to numerous experts.

    • NSA spying on Israel: This is how you treat your enemies
    • Why Tell the Israeli Spying Story Now?

      This may, in part, be an effort to get those implicated in the intercepts to exercise some more caution. But it also seems to be a victory dance, just as Russia ships away Iran’s uranium stockpiles.

    • What It’s Like To Ring In The New Year With Fox News

      If you are less ambitious, there is TV. Last night offered a bevy of options. Ryan Seacrest and anti-vaxxer Jenny McCarthy hosted the festivities on ABC, with performances by Demi Lovato, Wiz Khalifa and One Direction. On CNN, Anderson Cooper rang in the New Year with Kathy Griffin, who apparently took her shirt off. NBC’s programming started at 8PM with Kathie Lee Gifford and Hoda Kotb, before Carson Daly took over the reins at 10PM.

    • Opportunistic Islamophobia

      If, as he and other true believers think, George W. Bush really does have to meet his Maker someday, and if He (sic) really is just and good, and if the point of the meeting is to decide whether George will spend eternity in Heaven or Hell, then that man should be thanking the alleged divinity every moment of his waking life for making ignorance bliss.

  • Censorship

    • Sin in the time of Technology

      Technology companies now hold an unprecedented ability to shape the world around us by limiting our ability to access certain content and by crafting proprietary algorithm that bring us our daily streams of content.

    • Gareth Philippou: Censorship of expression is still with us

      Gareth Philippou from Mapperley Park says censorship of expression is still an issue for artists.

    • ‘The Dress’ Is Back, But This Time It’s A Debate About Censorship on Russian TV

      “The Dress” is back. Whether you call it Dressgate, #thedress, or something else—the viral photo meme has returned. Only this time, it’s not a dress. It’s also not a question of color perception, but a matter of seeing (or not seeing) a halo in a movie still. The film in question is The Diamond Arm, the 1969 Soviet comedy classic that has aired countless times on Russian television.

    • Governments Taking Techies Offline: 2015 in Review

      The real test of whether you have rights is not what the law says: it’s what happens when you try to exercise them. For too many bloggers and technologist around the world, the price of using the Net in innovative, legitimate ways, has been jail. Some of the cases of imprisonment around the world that we’ve tracked the most closely were freed in 2015, but others continue to languish in need of our support.

    • What to Expect From Russia’s State Censor in 2016

      Alexander Zharov isn’t often credited with being one of Russia’s most powerful state officials, and yet he is the head of Roskomnadzor, the government agency tasked with regulating and censoring the media (including the Internet). In the past, Zharov’s own deputy, Maxim Ksenzov, has outshined him publicly, making headlines for various controversial claims and threats, such as a remark in May 2014, when Ksenzov said regulators could block Twitter or Facebook “in a matter of minutes.”

    • ‘We, the general public, have become our own censors’

      As a nation, we celebrate the freedom that comes from being able to celebrate diversity, freedom of expression, human rights and personal liberties. After all, such beliefs lie at the cornerstone of our democracy.

      It is not surprising, therefore, that the idea of censorship, filters, random searches and restrictions of movement, can make us nervous and fearful that rights are being diluted or undermined.

      Social libertarians are quick to speak out if they feel our freedom is under threat (and they are right to do so), but the reality is that a more insidious, more pervasive censorship is happening every day and we are not only complicit in it, but responsible for it.

    • Novel about Jewish-Palestinian love affair is barred from Israeli curriculum

      A novel about a love affair between a Jewish woman and a Palestinian man has been barred from Israel’s high school curriculum, reportedly over concerns that it could encourage intermarriage between Jews and non-Jews.

      The rejection of Dorit Rabinyan’s novel Borderlife, which was published in 2014, created an uproar in Israel, with critics accusing the government of censorship.

    • Novel About Jewish-Palestinian Love Affair is Barred From Israeli Curriculum
    • Israel bans novel on Arab-Jewish romance from schools for ‘threatening Jewish identity’
    • Israel blocks book on love affair between Jew, Arab from schools
    • Education Ministry under fire for excluding novel about Jewish-Arab love story
    • Israel’s Ethical Terrorism and Special Brand of Morality

      “The banality of evil does not exist,’” wrote Jewish writer and Auschwitz survivor Jean Améry, “and Hannah Arendt, who writes about that in her book ‘Eichmann in Jerusalem,’ knew this enemy of mankind from rumors alone and only viewed him through a glass booth.”

      Like Arendt, who only saw Eichmann while he was in custody in Israel’s capital, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sounded once again this week like someone viewing the Israeli reality through a glass booth.

    • China’s Top 5 Censored Posts in 2015

      Chinese President Xi Jinping rounded off 2015 by posting his first message on Weibo, China’s version of Twitter, in the form of a new year’s greeting to the People’s Liberation Army. His post received 52,000 comments, mostly fawning messages of support featuring thumbs-up and smiling emoticons. This short message symbolizes the official taming of Weibo, whose early promise as a freewheeling platform for criticism and debate has been choked off by censorship, intimidation, a raft of new legislation, and a virtual army of commentators, known as the “fifty-cent party,” paid to influence online opinion.

    • The Guardian view on the foreign press in China: expelling the messenger

      It is not a new charge that authoritarianism has grown in China since president Xi Jinping came to power in 2013. Mr Xi’s strongman style has sometimes been compared to that of Mao Zedong. Under him, China has not only reasserted itself on the international stage, it has cracked down on all forms of domestic dissent. Now, Mr Xi’s government is turning the screws on the international media.

      The expulsion of the French journalist, Ursula Gauthier, the longtime Beijing correspondent for the weekly L’Obs (formerly Le Nouvel Observateur) who flew out of China on Friday after her press visa was not renewed, is an intimidatory tactic aimed at discouraging all independent, critical coverage by foreign media organisations. It comes as China’s internal tensions are on the rise, many linked to social, environmental and ethnic issues. And it sends a message that foreign journalists should think twice before contradicting the official Chinese line.

    • [India] Attacks, threats to journalists galore in 2015: Report

      The report said there were 81 cases of defamation, 26 cases of sedition and eight cases of surveillance against journalists and people belonging to the creative community.

    • New Arabic short story prize meets with cautious welcome

      Censorship further undercuts a state-sponsored prize’s role in cultural promotion. In Qatar, the ongoing imprisonment of poet Mohammed al-Ajami is particularly troubling. Al-Ajami’s 15-year prison term was the reason celebrated translator Humphrey Davies gave for withdrawing from a conference that accompanied the launch of Qatar’s giant new translation award.

    • A New Year resolution: let’s be less angry online

      In 2015, if you expressed your opinion online, you ran the risk of being waterboarded under a faucet of verbal slurry. If I could suggest one resolution for the coming year, it would be to be less angry: 2016 could be the year in which we start channelling that wasted energy. If there was a way to repurpose the effort thrown away on internet anger, Cecil the lion’s death might have landed men and women on Mars.

    • Newspapers: an intellectual legacy of the Ottoman Empire

      However, following the censorship law approved by the Party of Union and Progress (CUP), opposition voices emerged everywhere as the regime of Sultan Abdülhamid was missed. For the first time, differences in political opinion were reflected in newspapers. Hasan Fehmi and Ertuğrul Şakir, two authors for “Serbesti” (Liberty) newspaper, a prominent opposition publication, were shot on Galata Bridge by a pro-CUP group. Fehmi was killed and his funeral attracted thousands who turned out in a show of strength against the CUP. Journalist Ali Kemal, who was later known for his stance against the government in Ankara, encouraged many students at the Faculty of Political Science by saying: “These bullets were fired against freedom of thought.” Thousands marched to Bab-ı Ali (the Sublime Porte) to find the murderers. Also attracting public attention, the crowd did not find what they want at Bab-ı Ali or the Turkish Assembly, and instead, the soldiers fired into the crowd.

    • “I stand for absolutely no censorship”: Rakeysh Mehra, censor board revamp committee
    • Certification much better than censorship
    • ‘Censorship in India is Based on the Paternalistic Idea that Citizens are Not Mature’
    • Safe spaces, the void between, and the absence of trust
    • In Israel, Hitler’s ‘Mein Kampf’ an enduring taboo

      The controversy over the upcoming re-publication of Adolf Hitler’s “Mein Kampf” in Germany is having particular resonance in Israel, where memories of the Holocaust run deep and the book remains taboo.

      Hitler’s anti-Semitic rant, which he wrote from prison in the early 1920s, loses its copyright in Germany on Friday, and the country’s first release of it since 1945 is due out soon in the form of an extensively annotated version.

    • In Russia, political engagement is blossoming online

      In late November, the number of websites being blocked in Russia reached 1 million, according to Roskomsvoboda, the country’s independent Internet censorship watchdog. This did not surprise the Russian online community, which is used to bad news. The Kremlin’s offensive against Internet freedom has intensified dramatically over the past three years, including the creation of website blacklists, the updating of an advanced national system of online surveillance and increased pressure on international Internet companies to share data with Russian security services.

    • Plenty left to discover in Indonesia – Mary Farrow

      The controversy of censorship over not only the 1965 genocide events but also the Bali mangrove landfill discussion only increased the public’s collective interest as reflected by the abundant attendance and the crescendo from social media.

    • Why would the whole world’s book industry gather in booze-free Sharjah?

      Because it originated in a book bazaar, the fair is also open to the general public. Schoolchildren are seen scampering down the aisles with plastic bags full of books. Through the vast halls wander local TV crews, various dancing mascots (on stilts; draped with coloured cloth; waddling and waving in giant fuzzy-felt costumes) representing who knows what, and a very Emirati mix of ladies in chic modern dress and grave, goateed men in kanduras with iPhone 6s clamped to their ears.

    • Ethiopia Censors Satellite TV Channels as Student Protests Draw Global Media Attention

      The Ethiopian government is reportedly undertaking a massive clampdown on dissenting citizen voices in relation with the ongoing Oromo student protests in Oromia, Ethiopia’s largest administrative region.

      The regional political party known as the Oromo Federalist Congress reports that upwards of 80 people have been killed over the past four weeks by government forces. The government has yet to release its own updated numbers, but said on December 15 that five people had died.

      Alongside increasing tensions around protests, security forces have arrested two opposition politicians, two journalists, and summoned five bloggers — all members of the Zone9 collective, who were acquitted of baseless terrorism charges just two months ago — to appear in court on December 30.

    • Activists Deface Statues that Jackie Chan Gifted to Taiwan

      Two statues donated by Hong Kong-born actor Jackie Chan to a museum in Taiwan were vandalized with anti-China slogans on Wednesday night, reflecting the growing chasm between the two countries, the Guardian reports.

      Chan, famous for his starring roles in Rush Hour and Shanghai Noon , is close to China’s Communist party and has been criticized for defending government censorship while calling Taiwanese democracy “the biggest joke in the world.” His gifts to the National Palace Museum’s branch in the southern city of Chiayi are replicas of Imperial Chinese relics, one representing a bronze dragon and the other a horse head. The originals for both were made under the Qing Dynasty, the state that preceded both Taiwan and China’s current governments.

    • Singapore’s shifting social landscape

      The second challenge is the growing stridency of conservative Christians over public morality issues such as homosexuality and censorship. In the past two years alone conservative Christians have lobbied for the removal of children’s books that dwelt on alternative families from public libraries, protested LGBT events like the Pink Dot and petitioned against the hosting of openly gay international artists. The government prefers not to intervene in matters pertaining to morality, so such protests are likely to grow shriller.

    • Editorial: Free expression is solution to problems, not the cause

      The impulse to censor has roots in legitimate complaints and fears. The protests by students about racism’s lingering toll and their elders’ failure to address it ring important and true. And the way terrorists have used the Web to recruit or inspire would-be jihadists to slaughter innocent people from Syria to San Bernardino provides legitimate cause for alarm.

    • Russia Is Banning Country’s 15 Most Popular Torrent Websites

      The Russian telecom regulator Roskomnadzor has decided to ban the country’s 15 most popular torrent from early 2016. This extreme step is being seen as a way to tackle the widespread piracy problem and ban these websites that aid the pirates.

    • Calls For Censorship Are Making a Comeback

      Oxford Dictionaries defines “censorship” as “the suppression or prohibition of any books, films, news, etc. that are considered obscene, politically unacceptable, or a threat to security.” As I’ve noted recently here at Reason, calls for censorship, based on the supposed existential threat to the US’ national security posed by ISIS, are on the rise.

    • Charlie Hebdo editor: Censorship must not win
    • Charlie Hebdo, The Licensed Anarchist Clowns Of French Society

      SIMON: You say when you first read Charlie Hebdo in the 1970s it just wasn’t to your taste.

      GOPNIK: No. I was a kid and it was kind of scabrous, and it wasn’t the sacrilege that bothered me so much as the obscenity that challenged a 14-year-old American. But over the years, I came to have a keen appreciation of Charlie Hebdo and what it did. That was partly, Scott, because I became a pedant of the form. I did my graduate work in art history and particularly in the history of French satirical cartooning. And that made me aware of what a rich and resilient tradition this seemingly scabrous sacrilegious magazine still represented in French life.

    • Censors say S’pore film’s dialogue a ‘security threat’

      A Singapore film director withdrew her film from a festival to celebrate Malaysian-Singaporean ties this month, after the Film Censorship Board insisted that a scene be amended for being a “security threat”.

      Tan Pin Pin, director of ‘Singapore GaGa’, said the censorship board wanted a scene where a character says “animals” in Bahasa Malaysia, to be removed from the film.

    • Singapore GaGa – Another Tan Pin Pin movie cannot clear censor hurdle
    • ‘Animals’ a security threat, say Malaysian censors over Singaporean film
    • ‘Animals’ a security threat, say Malaysian censors over Singaporean film
    • ‘Animals’ a safety menace, say Malaysian censors over Singaporean movie
    • Singapore GaGa pulled from Malaysia event after film censored
    • How my run-in with Chinese censorship shows the country as more than a global Big Brother

      The People’s Republic’s burgeoning power is not all bad. Its potential for good was demonstrated at the recent climate conference in Paris, where its about-turn made the difference between success and failure. Faced with ecological Armageddon, China has grasped the dangers of galloping economic growth. And because it is an authoritarian state, we can be fairly confident that it will now go on to do something about it – on a scale that can make a difference.

      But China’s actions and policies are often not as clear and decisive as its government would like the world to believe. Because it is a one-party state with a neutered mainstream media, emerging from the historic culture of East Asia where discretion, tact and “face” have always been valued highly, China succeeds in giving the impression of a vast nation acting like a single awesome machine. But in my own experience the reality is rather different.

    • Art according to the rules: Self-censorship in Turkey

      Private investors are welcome in Turkey when it comes to arts and culture. But freedom for artists and journalists is largely restricted. The alternative arts scene has slipped into the background.

  • Privacy

    • Safe Harbor
    • In 2015, promising surveillance cases ran into legal brick walls

      To us, 2015 appeared to be the year where major change would happen whether pro- or anti-surveillance. Experts felt a shift was equally imminent. “I think it’s impossible to tell which case will be the one that does it, but I believe that, ultimately, the Supreme Court will have to step in and decide the constitutionality of some of the NSA’s practices,” Mark Rumold, an attorney with the Electronic Frontier Foundation, told Ars last year.

      The presumed movement would all start with a lawsuit filed by veteran conservative activist Larry Klayman. Filed the day after the initial Snowden disclosures, his lawsuit would essentially put a stop to unchecked NSA surveillance. In January 2015, he remained the only plaintiff whose case had won when fighting for privacy against the newly understood government monitoring. (Of course, it was a victory in name only—the judicial order in Klayman was stayed pending the government’s appeal at the time).

    • Media Coverage and the Public in the Surveillance Society

      Findings from a Research Project on Digital Surveillance Post-Snowden

    • Iran’s blogfather: Facebook, Instagram and Twitter are killing the web

      Hossein Derakhshan was imprisoned by the regime for his blogging. On his release, he found the internet stripped of its power to change the world and instead serving up a stream of pointless social trivia

    • In a First, NSA Advertises Opportunities on Monster.com of Federal Contracting

      The National Security Agency has begun recruiting spy-tech inventors on the Monster.com of Beltway contractor jobs.

      The agency posted a special notice to FedBizOpps.gov, right before the holidays, advertising work for small companies that develop “innovative technologies.”

      An NSA spokesman told Nextgov on Wednesday afternoon, “NSA’s posting on FedBizOpps is intended to reach out to vendors that may not know how to do business with the agency and to direct vendors to NSA’s website for more information.”

    • GCHQ spy boss Sir Brian Tovey has died aged 89
    • Sir Brian Tovey, former director of GCHQ, dies
    • Former GCHQ director Sir Brian Tovey dies aged 89
    • GCHQ spy boss Sir Brian Tovey has died aged 89
    • Forget anonymity, we can remember you wholesale with machine intel, hackers warned

      Anonymous programmers, from malware writers to copyright infringers and those baiting governments with censorship-foiling software, may all be unveiled using stylistic programming traits which survive into the compiled binaries – regardless of common obfuscation methods.

    • These Public Comments Saved a Library’s Tor Server From a Government Shutdown

      In August, the Department of Homeland Security pressured a public library in the small town of Lebanon, New Hampshire to shut down a Tor node it was hosting on the popular anonymous browsing network. The unbridled support of dozens of citizens from both Lebanon and the entire country, including off-the-books support from an FBI computer scientist, empowered the town to turn it back on, according to emails obtained by Motherboard.

    • When back doors backfire

      Some spy agencies favour “back doors” in encryption software, but who will use them?

    • Is Facebook the enemy of truth and civic unity?

      Every new technology threatens to kill off some revered institution. But in the waning months of 2015, more than a few smart and tech-savvy commentators began suggesting a radical hypothesis: that the rise of social media threatened to deliver a death blow to civic consensus and even to truth itself.

      “The news brims with instantly produced ‘hot takes’ and a raft of fact-free assertions,” Farhad Manjoo observed in the New York Times. “The extremists of all stripes are ascendant, and just about everywhere you look, much of the internet is terrible.”

      In the Washington Post, Anne Applebaum went so far as to demand that Mark Zuckerberg donate the entirety of his fortune to undo the damage Facebook has done to democracy. “If different versions of the truth appear in different online versions; if no one can agree upon what actually happened yesterday; if fake, manipulated or mendacious news websites are backed up by mobs of internet trolls; then conspiracy theories, whether of the far left or far right, will soon have the same weight as reality. Politicians who lie will be backed by a claque of supporters.”

    • Privacy activists notched wins in 2015 but fear shift in tide

      2015 was a mixed bag for digital privacy advocates on Capitol Hill.

      Civil libertarians took one step forward this summer, reforming the National Security Agency (NSA) in the first major rollback of U.S. surveillance powers in a generation.

    • Majority of US citizens in favour of warrantless surveillance – poll

      AP-NORC also broke down the results based on how people vote. It found that Republicans (67 percent) and Democrats (55 percent) were mainly in favour of warrantless surveillance. However, it was only supported by 40 percent of Independents. The results also show that just one-in-three under-30s support warrantless surveillance.

    • Trevor Paglen: What lies beneath

      We all live under constant covert surveillance. The American photographer’s work seeks to reveal this hidden world

    • Department of Defense Nudges Contractors to Patch Juniper Backdoor

      In December, everyone was starkly reminded of the dangers posed by backdoors in security products: Juniper Networks, a massive company that creates popular networking equipment, found “unauthorized” code in its ScreenOS software which would allow an attacker to take total control of Juniper NetScreen firewalls, or even, with enough resources, passively decrypt VPN traffic.

    • What The Juniper Breach Teaches Us About The Domestic Dangers Of Backdoors

      A common refrain amongst all the conversation about encryption the last few months has been the need for technical “backdoors” to be built into encryption and communications platforms that allow authorized law enforcement to intercept and monitor civilian communications. The argument goes that without such backdoors, criminal and terrorist actors will increasingly “go dark” using encryption to organize their activities and attacks. One commonly recommended solution is the weakening of encryption by inserting secret backdoors accessible only to law enforcement. In such a model all communications are encrypted to prevent criminal actors or foreign states from being able to listen to communications, but American law enforcement and their allies will be able to access such communications using a master decryption key.

    • The Biggest Security Threats We’ll Face in 2016

      The year ended with a startling revelation from Juniper Networks that firmware on some of its firewalls contained two backdoors installed by sophisticated hackers. The nature of one of the backdoors—which gives an attacker the ability to decrypt protected traffic running through the VPN on Juniper firewalls—suggested a nation-state attacker was the culprit, since only a government intelligence agency would have the resources to intercept large amounts of VPN traffic in order to benefit from the backdoor. Even more startling was news that the backdoor was based on one attributed to the NSA.

    • In 2016, terror suspects and 7-Eleven thieves may bring surveillance to US Supreme Court

      It has now been 2.5 years since the first Snowden revelations were published. And in 2015, government surveillance marched on in both large (the National Security Agency) and small (the debut of open source license plate reader software) ways.

      Within the past year, Congress voted to end Section 215 of the Patriot Act—but then substituted it with a similar law (USA Freedom Act) that leaves the phone metadata surveillance apparatus largely in place even if the government no longer collects the data directly. Even former NSA Director Michael Hayden admitted in June 2015 that this legal change was pretty minor.

    • In 2015, promising US surveillance cases ran into legal brick walls

      Today, the first Snowden disclosures in 2013 feel like a distant memory. The public perception of surveillance has changed dramatically since and, likewise, the battle to shape the legality and logistics of such snooping is continually evolving.

    • NSA Rats Out Republicans, Proves Netanyahu Bribed Them Against Iran Nuclear Deal

      In this spy versus spy world, longtime bosom buddies Israel and America have been spying on each other for decades, even as they help each other spy on the rest of the world. As former Republican chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Mike Rogers once stated, “Intelligence professionals have a saying: There are no friendly intelligence services.” Proving that Rogers was absolutely correct in his statement, the Wall Street Journal just uncovered hard evidence that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attempted to bribe Republicans for nay votes on America’s nuclear deal with Iran.

    • Report From the Student Privacy Frontlines: 2015 in Review

      This year the fight to protect student privacy hit a boiling point with our Spying on Students campaign, an effort to help students, parents, teachers, and school administrators learn more about the privacy issues surrounding school-issued devices and cloud services. We’re also working to push vendors like Google to put students and their parents back in control of students’ private information.

    • The fallacies of surveillance

      First, the costs of surveillance are asymmetrical. This essentially means that the cost of imposing surveillance is much greater than what it would cost for a moderately tech-savvy villain to effectively defeat this surveillance. A useful analogy here is that of a needle in a haystack — it is orders of magnitude easier for a villain to hide the needle in the hay and near impossible for the government to find it.

    • A Wake-Up Call To Fight Government Surveillance

      Look around any crowded place nowadays and it’s quite clear that many of us have literally become prisoners of our own devices: smartphones, tablets, laptops — anything and everything with an Internet connection. Our lifestyles practically require us to always be on, and connected to everyone else.

      That means at any point in the day, and at any point in the world, individuals freely exchange massive amounts of personal information among each other: names, email addresses, phone numbers, photos, bank account and credit card numbers, Social Security numbers, insurance details and so on.

      Looking at that list, it’s clear why some are calling data the oil of the digital world — data has effectively become its own currency, something we trade to either share updates about our lives or make a purchase.

    • How to Protect Your Family From Government Snooping

      If you have found yourself questioning whether you wish to participate in a surveillance state, then a TOR and VPN enabled router is an essential tool. I installed one such router myself once Australia started discussing its data retention laws (which went into effect recently), and after spending a year protecting my family’s digital privacy I thought I would share the results.

    • Contra Costa Times editorial: Spending bill slips in erosion of privacy rights for cybersecurity

      Congress just slipped another ill-conceived cybersecurity bill past Americans, removing basic privacy rights in the name of fighting terrorism.

      No one at the highest levels of government has ever been able to demonstrate that ratcheting up government surveillance of Americans has led to blocking a terrorist threat. The sad truth is that lawmakers are instead using security fears to remove the very freedoms that those who would do us harm hold in scorn.

      The cybersecurity legislation was slipped into the massive $1.1 trillion federal spending bill that passed Congress last week and was signed into law by President Barack Obama.

    • Canadians’ Internet traffic at risk

      Canadian researchers find that a large amount of Canadians’ internet traffic is routed through the United States, making it vulnerable to interception.

  • Civil Rights

    • 4 Things That Were Supposed To Happen By 2016 Because Obama Was Reelected
    • New Guantánamo policy: Psychologists can treat troops, not captives

      The U.S. military has sharply curtailed the use of psychologists at the prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, in response to strict new professional ethics rules of the American Psychological Association, Pentagon officials said.

      Gen. John F. Kelly, the head of the U.S. Southern Command, which oversees Guantánamo, has ordered that psychologists be withdrawn from a wide range of activities dealing with detainees at the prison because of the new rules of the association, the nation’s largest professional organization for psychologists. The group approved the rules this past summer.

    • Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr: Saudi Arabia executes top Shia cleric

      Sheikh Nimr was a vocal supporter of the mass anti-government protests that erupted in Eastern Province in 2011, where a Shia majority have long complained of marginalisation.

    • Outrage Follows Saudi Arabia’s Execution of Nearly 50 Prisoners

      According to Reuters, the executions took place in 12 cities in Saudi Arabia, with four prisons using firing squads and the others beheading.

    • Saudi Arabia says 47 executed on terror charges, including Shi’ite cleric Nimr al-Nimrits

      Saudi Arabia executed 47 people on Saturday for terrorism it said, an apparent message to both Sunni Muslim jihadists and Shi’ite anti-government protesters that the conservative Islamic kingdom will brook no violent dissent.

      The deaths come amid a growing war of words between Saudi Arabia and the militant group Islamic State, which called for attacks in the kingdom. But it may also raise tensions with Iran over the execution of prominent Shi’ite cleric Nimr al-Nimr.

    • Saudi Arabia executes 47 people in one day including Shia cleric
    • [Older] UK Government attempting to keep details of secret security pact with Saudi Arabia hidden from public
    • His Aim Is True

      Hill was responding to a domestic disturbance at Steel’s home and he says her dog attacked him. He shot at the dog but missed it and hit Steele instead. Prosecutors declined to file any charges against Hill

    • Young Black Men Killed by U.S. Police at Highest Rate in Year of 1,134 Deaths

      Young black men were nine times more likely than other Americans to be killed by police officers in 2015, according to the findings of a Guardian study that recorded a final tally of 1,134 deaths at the hands of law enforcement officers this year.

    • Protecting Human Rights Is Not A Gift, It’s A Given

      Back in 2008, one thousand of Australia’s “best and brightest brains” met at the 2020 Summit to map out a strategy for Australia’s long-term future. They made three key recommendations for constitutional reform: Indigenous recognition, becoming a republic and the creation of a bill of rights. All three are essential for Australia to come of age as a modern and independent democracy that lives its values — respecting and protecting the rights of all its citizens.

    • New Documents Expose Texas ‘Cop of the Year’ as Member of Mexico’s ‘Most Dangerous’ Cartel

      Caught on video illegally selling assault rifles and sensitive information to undercover informants, a former officer of the year has also been accused of secretly working for Los Zetas cartel in a drug trafficking conspiracy in operation since 2006. Although the cop allegedly provided the cartel with firearms, bulletproof vests, luxury vehicles, police scanners, and database access, recently filed court documents revealed at least two convicted cocaine traffickers are cooperating with the government against the disgraced cop.

      On September 2, 2014, Efrain Grimaldo, the nephew of Houston Police Officer Noe Juarez, was sentenced to 33 years in federal prison after caught smuggling 1,640 kilograms of cocaine throughout the southern states and east coast. On June 24, 2014, Efrain’s brother, Sergio Grimaldo, was extradited from Mexico and later charged along with Officer Juarez for participating in a conspiracy to distribute five or more kilograms of cocaine. Juarez was also charged in a separate conspiracy to possess firearms in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime.

    • Germans and their love of freedom

      Freedom of art matters a lot to most Germans – so much so that it is protected by law. But even in Germany’s democracy and with its liberal outlook, there are certain legal and moral limitations to artistic expression.

    • Cosby Accuser Slimed For Spending Settlement Money On An Apartment

      The New York Post has some shocking news: a woman who accused Bill Cosby of sexual assault used money from a previous settlement with him to buy an apartment.

      Andrea Constand, a former Temple University employee, brought a civil suit against Cosby in 2005 saying he gave her pills and wine until she was unable to move and then sexually assaulted her after authorities declined to press charges. Her case then was settled out of court in 2006.

    • ‘The Washington Post’ Fired Lefty Columnist Harold Meyerson

      Fred Hiatt, the Washington Post’s editorial page editor, has fired columnist Harold Meyerson, one of the nation’s finest journalists and perhaps the only self-proclaimed socialist to write a weekly column for a major American newspaper during the past decade or two.

      At a time when America is experiencing an upsurge of progressive organizing and activism — from Occupy Wall Street, to Black Lives Matter, to the growing movement among low-wage workers demanding higher minimum wages, to Bernie Sanders’ campaign for president — we need a regular columnist who can explain what’s going on, why it’s happening, and what it means.

      More than any other columnist for a major U.S. newspaper, Meyerson provided ongoing coverage and incisive analysis of the nation’s labor movement and other progressive causes as well as the changing economy and the increasing aggressiveness of big business in American politics. He was one of the few columnists in the country who knew labor leaders and grassroots activists by name, and who could write sympathetically and knowledgeably about working people’s experiences in their workplaces and communities.

    • The Rumble from the People Can Work

      If only the people who engage in “road rage” would engage in “corporate rage” when they are harmed by cover-ups or hazardous products and gouging services, aloof CEOs would start getting serious about safety and fair play. With press report after press report documenting how big business stiffs millions of its consumers and workers, why is it that more of these victims do not externalize some of their inner agonies by channeling them into civic outrage?

    • 2015 a Deadly Year as Journalism ‘Put Daily to the Sword’

      At least 109 journalists and media workers were slain by ‘targeted killings, bomb attacks, and cross-fire incidents,’ new report finds

    • A Case of Bribery

      A lower court had found him guilty of a much more serious bribery accusation and condemned him to a much longer prison term. The Supreme Court, after dragging his case out for as long as possible, reduced the offense and the prison term from 6 years to a mere year and a half. As usual in Israel, a third will be remitted for good behavior in prison, so he will probably “sit” for one year only.

      Hallelujah. The former Prime Minister will spend only one year in prison, where he will join a former President of Israel who has been sent there for rape.

    • Why Is Congress Undercutting PCLOB?

      As I noted last month, the Omnibus budget bill undercut the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board in two ways.

      First, it affirmatively limited PCLOB’s ability to review covert actions. That effort dates to June, when Republicans responded to PCLOB Chair David Medine’s public op-ed about drone oversight by ensuring PCLOB couldn’t review the drone or any other covert program.

      More immediately troublesome, last minute changes to OmniCISA eliminated a PCLOB review of the implementation of that new domestic cyber surveillance program, even though some form of that review had been included in all three bills that passed Congress. That measure may have always been planned, but given that it wasn’t in any underlying version of the bill, more likely dates to something that happened after CISA passed the Senate in October.

    • Hundreds Demand Prosecutor In Tamir Rice Case Resign

      Protests continued on Friday following a grand jury’s recent decision not to indict the two white police officers who fatally shot 12-year-old Tamir Rice.

      More than 100 activists marched to the home of the prosecutor who handled Rice’s case, Timothy McGinty, on New Year’s Day and demanded his resignation. Chanting “New year, no more!” and “McGinty has got to go,” protesters called on the prosecutor be removed from his position and demanded a federal investigation into the shooting.

    • Happy New Year From the TSA!

      The huddled masses at airports will no longer be able to opt out of going through body scanners (which might be unlawful in the first place, but who’s counting?). Also, if you have the misfortune of living in one of nine of states that have objected to the feds’ REAL ID scheme, you may not even be able to use your driver’s license to get on a plane. At least the DHS now says the TSA will give you 120 days’ notice before invalidating your ID. Happy (first four months of) 2016!

    • Exclusive: UK Government urged to reveal its role in getting Saudi Arabia onto UN Human Rights Council

      The Government has been called upon to clarify the role it played in voting Saudi Arabia’s onto the UN Human Rights Council, after the kingdom executed 47 people in a single day sparking a backlash across the Middle East.

      Diplomatic cables released by Wikileaks last year purported to show that the UK was involved in a secret vote-trading deal to help ensure both countries a place on the influential panel.

      The exchanges, related to the November 2013 vote in New York, were published by The Australian newspaper and have never been commented on by UK officials. Both Britain and Saudi Arabia were later named among the 47 member states of the UNHRC, following the secret ballot.

    • Kurt Vonnegut’s POW nightmare: Inside the World War II battle that shaped “Slaughterhouse Five”

      At the bottom of a snowy hollow, he fixed his bayonet and waited, huddled in a group of roughly fifty soldiers. Their unit, the 423rd, had been at battle for three days, since December 16. They’d been lost for most of it. They must be somewhere in Luxembourg, someone said. Now they were surrounded, herded into a small depression in the unfamiliar land. Kurt hunched into his coat—he had a tall man’s habit of hunching—but he couldn’t get warm. That December—1944— was one of the coldest and wettest ever recorded in Europe.

    • Cameron’s renegotiation speech and intra-EU migration: how the web reacted

      Our analysis provides interesting information about the nature of Twitter and its reaction to Cameron’s proposals. In the first place, it is clear that Cameron’s speech triggered an attitudinal discussion on Twitter. Approximately 40 thousand tweets (roughly half of the tweets relevant to Cameron’s speech) can be interpreted as containing an attitude of some sort. Of these, more than a fifth, as shown, focused on the intra-EU migration issue.

    • Police Couple Wakes Up and “Accidentally” Fires 27 Rounds at Own Mom, Who Lives with Them

      The officer claimed that the 27 rounds were fired “accidentally” and so the department said there is no need for charges.

      Of course, shooting at an intruder in your home is a justified measure. However, what does it say about the trigger-happy nature of this officer who would unleash 27 rounds at her own mom, who had to have been screaming for her life upon hearing the first round being fired?

  • Internet/Net Neutrality

    • In net debate, many views on Free Basics

      A joint statement by IIT and IISc professors said that allowing a private entity to define for Indian Internet users what is “basic” and to have access to the personal content created and used by millions of Indians is a lethal combination which will lead to total lack of freedom on how Indians can use their own public utility, the Internet.

      “In fact, it has defined itself to be the first ‘basic’ service, as evident from Reliance’s ads on Free Facebook. Now, it will require quite a stretch of imagination to classify Facebook as ‘basic’,” said the statement.

    • Website Obesity

      This is the text version of a talk I gave on October 29, 2015, at the Web Directions conference in Sydney.

    • Net Neutrality in Europe

      After two years the fight for net neutrality in Europe about the Telecom Single Market Regulation has come to a close. In this talk we will analyse the new net neutrality law and it’s consequences and we give you the lessons learned from two years of EU campaigning.

    • Net Neutrality and More: 2015 in Review

      When it comes to net neutrality, 2015 started off with a blast. In February the FCC reclassified retail broadband Internet service as a telecommunications service, and issued strong new net neutrality rules while forbearing from almost all the other Title II regulations. In other words, Team Internet started the year off with a huge victory (with a few caveats, which we’ll return to at the end).

      Of course, the rules were quickly challenged by the ISPs in court. In order to help defend the rules, we gathered an all-star list of computer science professors and Internet engineers to explain to the court just how vital net neutrality has been in helping the Internet grow and flourish. The case itself was heard by the court in early December; it will likely be many months before we find out whether or not the court was persuaded.

      In the meantime, net neutrality wasn’t the only issue that brought the FCC onto EFF’s radar this year.

    • Facebook’s Free Web-India: Kindness Or Neo-Imperialism? [Ed: Forbes is the billionaires' most notable mouthpiece, so it's hardly surprising that it protects Zuckerberg from those he exploits]

      The problem isn’t Mark Zuckerberg’s vision per se, but the tag that comes along with it–Internet comes through Facebook and includes a limited Facebook approved list of sites.

      That raises the sensitive issue of Internet censorship for some, and the potential for exploitation of the poor, for others.

      The concern here is that Facebook is using its free web offer to expand its overseas membership base and eventually monetize a market with an enormous potential—the fortune at the bottom of the pyramid—to use C.K. Prahalad’s expression.


      The trouble is this: where marketers and managers see potential opportunities, others see the potential for neo-imperialism, especially in countries like India — which has been through that experience before.

    • The Year in Technology Policy: It Wasn’t All That Bad!

      In the spring, the Federal Communications Commission enacted sweeping regulations to prevent Internet providers from blocking or slowing certain sites or apps. What’s surprising is how little has happened since then.

      ISPs did not all put down their tools in protest and stop investing in their networks. In fact, two of the biggest — AT&T and Comcast — ended the year bragging about how they’re expanding their gigabit Internet services.

      (Unfortunately, these new high-speed ventures rarely involve competing with other incumbent providers. And as the FCC’s latest broadband-survey results show, the phone-based DSL you can usually get anywhere has become increasingly uncompetitive with faster cable and fiber.)

    • Happy 20th Birthday IPv6 – The Hero To Save Our Internet?

      We have just completed the 20 years of the IPv6 launch. This standard was developed by IETF to replenish the drying pool of IP addresses and bring numerous performance improvements. However, the adoption numbers of the IPv6 protocol hasn’t been very encouraging.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Pending Supreme Court Patent Cases for 2016
    • TTIP Update II

      As I noted in my first TTIP Update about the current negotiations between the EU and US over a massive trade agreement that is far from being only about trade, it is probably true that it will not include many of the more outrageous ideas found in ACTA last year. But that is not to say that TTIP does not threaten many key aspects of the Internet – just that the attack is much more subtle.

      The problem is the inclusion of “investor-state dispute settlement” (ISDS). This began as a perfectly reasonable attempt to ensure that investments in developing countries were not unlawfully expropriated by rogue governments. The idea was that if such an event occurred, and the local government refused to compensate the investor, the latter had recourse to independent international courts that considered the case and awarded damages that could be levied against the government in question in other ways – for example, seizing their assets abroad.

    • The Rise and Fall of TTIP, As Told in 51 Updates

      This year will be make or break for the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). It is already years behind its original, hopelessly-optimistic schedule, and is now running into immovable political events in the form of the US Presidential elections, and the general elections in Germany. If TTIP isn’t wrapped up this year, it is probably dead until whenever the next attempt to push through such a global takeover of democracy begins, as it surely will.

      From July 2013 until April 2015 I wrote a series of irregular TTIP Updates, which charted the latest developments of the negotiations. They form the most detailed description of how TTIP emerged and developed during the first two years of the negotiations. Although superseded by more recent events, they nonetheless offer a historical record of what happened during that time, and may help people understand the strange beast that is TTIP somewhat better.

    • The Deathbed of the WTO

      When the World Trade Organization (WTO) met in Seattle, Washington in 1999, the Africa paper[1] carefully prepared by the Kenya representatives to the WTO in Geneva, had set the stage for the rejection of the strict intellectual property rights which the Western countries’ pharmaceutical companies desired. Sixteen years later at the 10th WTO Ministerial Conference that was held in Nairobi, Kenya in December 2015, the United States Trade Representatives had pressured the Kenyan leadership to exclude “African issues” from the agenda while simultaneously pushing through the Expansion of the Information Technology Agreement (ITA), which benefits US corporations. That Kenya could be caught in a position where it had to please the United Stated and thus turn its back on India, Indonesia, China and Brazil was an expression of the country’s lack of consultation with Africa and the other countries of the Global South that had been pushing for the Doha Development Agenda. At the end of the meeting, most international media outlets proclaimed the death of the Doha Development Agenda.

    • Copyrights

      • The Boy Who Could Change the World: The Writings of Aaron Swartz

        The New Press has published a new collection of Aaron Swartz’s writing called The Boy Who Could Change the World: The Writings of Aaron Swartz. I worked with Seth Schoen to introduce and help edit the opening section of book that includes Aaron’s writings on free culture, access to information and knowledge, and copyright. Seth and I have put our introduction online under an appropriately free license (CC BY-SA).

      • Most Pirated Films of 2015 Show That Stealing is Great for Hollywood

        Movie piracy, like music piracy and to a lesser degree book piracy, is here to stay for the simple reason that it is technologically easy to do and virtually impossible to stop. More than two decades after the first mass panics about internet-enabled entertainment piracy, it should be clear to legacy companies that such a state of affairs is hardly a death sentence.

      • Four Persistent Online Piracy Misconceptions Busted

        While regular visitors to these pages are probably extremely tuned into the way the file-sharing world operates, more casual readers may have one or two things they’d like clearing up. Here are four of the most common and persistent piracy-related misconceptions of recent years, busted for your convenience.

      • Google received requests to remove 558 million pirate links in 2015

        Google received requests from copyright owners to remove as many as 558 million links to material, which allegedly infringed on copyrights, from its search engine in 2015. The latest figure shows a surge of 60% compared to 2014.

        Google was flooded with Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) takedown notices. The notices are issued to search engines or web hosts to remove links to copyright-infringing material. The majority of the requests came from the music and movie industries.

        Torrent Freak recently found that the URLs submitted by copyright-holders numbered 558,860,089 compared to 2014 when Google processed 345 million pirate links. The majority of the links were removed though Google sometimes takes “no action” if the links do not infringe on copyright material or if they had already been taken down earlier.

      • When Hollywood Raids Pirates, What Do They Search For?

        During December five men from the UK received sentences totaling 17 years after leaking thousands of movies onto the Internet. In an earlier article we revealed how the men were tracked down. Today we’ll look more closely at what police and the Federation Against Copyright Theft were looking for when the men were raided.

      • The First Ten Years of the Pirate Party: Lessons Learned and Road Ahead

        Exactly ten years ago, on January 1 2006 at 20:30 CET, the Swedish and first Pirate Party was launched by me setting up an ugly website. Since then, we delivered on the proof of concept on June 7, 2009, and the movement grew from there. We weren’t always successful, though, and it’s important to be humble and do a little retrospection.

      • Movie Studios Sue Fan-Funded Star Trek Spin-Off

        Paramount Pictures and CBS Studios are suing the crowdfunded Star Trek spin-off “Prelude to Axanar.” The makers initially aimed for a $10,000 budget to start the project, but have raised close to a million since. According to the Hollywood studios they are entitled to any and all profits, claiming that the project infringes on their copyrights.

      • Full text of “The Diary Of Anne Frank”
      • Anne Frank’s diary is in the public domain; editors aren’t co-authors
      • Anne Frank’s diary is now free to download despite copyright dispute

        Anne Frank’s famous Diary of a Young Girl entered the public domain today, making it free to download, read, and distribute, 70 years after her death. Copyright on the diary, written while the young Frank was hiding in an attic with her family from soldiers during the Nazi occupation of Amsterdam, was scheduled to run out on January 1st, 2016. Within a few hours of the clock striking midnight on the new year, the full text was available to read — in its original Dutch — online.

      • Anne Frank foundation fights plans to publish diary online on 1 January

        An academic and a French MP have said they will go ahead with plans to publish the diary of Anne Frank online on Friday, despite the organisation holding publication rights threatening legal action.

      • Anne Frank foundation threatens legal action after activists vow to publish her diary online in its entirety from tomorrow – 70 years after her death

        An academic and a French MP are planning to publish Anne Frank’s diary online for free tomorrow.

        University lecturer Olivier Ertzscheid and French MP Isabelle Attard say New Year’s Day marks 70 years after the author’s death, and therefore European copyright laws have expired.

        But they have been met with opposition by the diary’s publisher – The Anne Frank Fund – who argues copyright for the translators of the diary is still in effect.

        European copyright laws protect the author’s rights to their work for 70 years after their death.

      • What Could Have Entered the Public Domain on January 1, 2016? Under the law that existed until 1978 . . . Works from 1959


Links 1/1/2016: WebGL2 in Firefox Nightly, Gentoo on PS4

Posted in News Roundup at 7:10 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish



Free Software/Open Source

  • MuseScore 2.0.2 Brings A Bunch Of New Features

    As you may know, MuseScore is an open-source music composition and notation software, allowing the users tp create, edit and print music in an WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) environment.

  • How software developers helped end the Ebola epidemic in Sierra Leone

    A team of open source software developers solved the problem that most urgently needed solving: distributing wages to healthcare workers

  • 2015 at a glance: Open Source Yearbook

    For our first Open Source Yearbook, we reached out to dozens of open source organizations and community members and asked them to contribute articles that help provide a feel for 2015. What were a few of the LibreOffice extensions that stood out in 2015? Which Drupal modules were notable? Which books would publishers highlight if they could only pick a handful from the past year? What did open source wearables and 3D printing look like in 2015? And how in the world could we pick one best couple for our yearbook without offending all the other fabulous open source couples in the world? The 2015 Open Source Yearbook answers all these questions, and many more.

  • Open source means choice

    In the late 90s I was ensconced in the Microsoft ecosystem. With the introduction of Windows, personal computer users were being pushed away from the command line. But I stubbornly kept an MS-DOS terminal close by. For reasons now lost to the receding tide of memory, one day I found myself installing Cygwin, a suite of commonly used software and command-line tools that ran within a terminal or X-Window. My introduction to a unix-like environment impressed me. The day I typed “startx” and my screen exploded with tiny x’s sealed the deal. At that time (around 1998), anyone familiar with unix had become aware of the upstart unix-like operating system, Linux, developed around Linus Torvalds’ college software project. When Red Hat Linux 5.2 became available I rushed to my local computer store, intrigued by the new operating system that cost half the price of Windows.

  • Events

    • Closing the Book on Linux and FOSS for 2015

      Sarah Sharp Joins SCALE Keynote Roster: While the SCALE Team is still busy with preparations for SCALE 14X, the first-of-the-year FOSS event worldwide in Pasadena in three weeks, one specific development is that Sarah Sharp joins the list of keynoters. Sharp will speak on “Improving Diversity with Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs” on Sunday morning, Feb. 24. She joins Cory Doctorow, who is the Friday keynoter at SCALE 14X, with the Saturday keynote yet to be determined. Watch this space.

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • WebGL2 enabled in Firefox Nightly
      • Firefox Turns On Its WebGL 2 Support

        For users of Firefox Nightly builds, WebGL 2 support is now enabled.

        Jeff Muizelaar mentioned that WebGL 2 is now enabled within Firefox nightly builds. The WebGL 2 implementation isn’t yet fully complete, but is at least to a point that it’s working well enough for most modern content written against the provisional specification. Jeff mentioned it in this blog post.

  • Education

  • Pseudo-/Semi-Open Source (Openwashing)

  • BSD

    • BSD: A Brief Look Back at 2015

      This is the time of year when we look back and go, “Wow. How did this all ever happen?” Or something to that effect. And after about a month of PC-BSD daily use, the verdict so far (subject to appeal) is overwhelmingly positive with a couple of bumps (e.g., someday I will turn off tap-to-click on my touchpad).

      Of course when I look back on the year, I can only look back as far as the time I have been using BSD. It wouldn’t be fair to go all the way back — one time back in the aughts, by some miracle, I got NetBSD to run on a PowerBook G3 until I updated the system and then poof — so this retrospective goes as far back as the month I’ve been using PC-BSD.


    • November/December 2015 – Gent and Mexico

      RMS gave his speech “Copyright vs Community” at the Quetelet auditorium, Sint Pietersplein, in Gent, Belgium, on November 17th, to a diverse student audience.

    • Happy GNU Year! Last chance to give in 2015

      Thanks to the free software community’s giving, we have already raised more than $250,000 toward our goal of $450,000 by January 31st, 2016. As we look to the new year, we at the Free Software Foundation are feeling optimistic about our plans for 2016.d

  • Openness/Sharing

    • Glass Half – Brilliant and Hilarious short from the Blender Institute.

      Directed by Beorn Leonard and produced by Ton Roosendaal, Blender’s original founder and chairman of the Blender Foundation, the film is reminiscent in tone of Pixar’s shorts, with the key difference that all assets, including tutorials for some of the techniques used in the film, are free and can be downloaded from Blender’s Cloud storage service.

    • France’s first Digital Law co-created with citizens

      The French draft law Loi Numérique will be presented to the French Parliament on 19 January, after being co-created with citizens through an online public consultation. This is the first law in France resulting from a co-design process.

    • Open Data

      • Northern Ireland launches its open data portal

        Northern Ireland has officially launched its open data portal, OpenDataNI, the goal of which is to provide a global platform where public services and all governmental agencies can publish data.

        This CKan-based portal is now accessible through NIDirect, the official governmental portal for Northern Ireland citizens, which states that it provides ‘a single point of access to public sector information and services’.

    • Open Hardware

  • Programming


  • Cloudy With a Chance of Lock-In

    Software as a service to many people is the way to convert what used to be licensed software into a repeat revenue stream and in principle there is nothing wrong with that if done properly (Adobe almost gets it right). But if the internet connection is down and your software no longer works, if the data you painstakingly built up over years goes missing because a service dies or because your account gets terminated for no apparent reason and without any recourse you might come to the same conclusion that I came to: if it requires an online service and is not actually an online product I can do just fine without it.

  • Hysteria on social media as BBC websites go offline

    The BBC experienced a major technical issue on Thursday morning, with all of its websites and several of its digital services offline.

    “We’re aware of a technical issue affecting the BBC website and are working to fix this now. We’ll update you as soon as we can,” the BBC press office said on Twitter.

    The internet did not cope well with this news.

  • A knighthood for Lynton Crosby: government under fire for political honours

    The government has been accused of turning the honours system into an “old boy’s club” after Lynton Crosby, the political strategist who ran the Conservatives’ 2015 election campaign, was awarded a knighthood.

  • Creationism Evangelist: God Put Contradictions in the Bible to ‘Weed Out’ the Atheists

    Young Earth creationism evangelist Kent Hovind asserted this week that God had purposefully put contradictions in the Bible to “weed out” non-believers.

  • Science

    • Heartfelt rationality

      The various branches of the alternative industry make a lot of claims, and a lot of money off these claims. We looked into homeopathy, healing, detox, acupuncture and strange panacea machines supposedly utilizing bio-resonance or quantum mechanics. (Astrologists, psychics and mediums got a showing too, but let’s leave them alone to lick their wounds for now.)

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Dad Arrested, His 2-yo Daughter Taken, for Successfully Treating Her Cancer with Cannabis Oil

      As cannabis is taken more seriously as a medicine and a treatment, more people are taking a chance and using it as a treatment for terminal illnesses. This treatment has had overwhelmingly positive results for countless people who had no other hope of recovery. Every day more stories and scientific studies are appearing from all over the world where people of all ages, even young children, are cured of life-threatening illnesses with cannabis oil.

    • Australia’s big win in Philip Morris plain packaging arbitration

      Plain packaging has been a hot topic on the Kat this year, most recently with Guest Kat Niko’s post on the topic here. But if you thought that would be the last on the matter in 2015, think again. From the AmeriKat’s colleague, Jin Ooi (Allen & Overy), comes news of the latest development concerning Australia’s tobacco plain packaging legislation. The latest news saw a “win” for the Australian government against Philip Morris Asia Limited (“PM Asia”) in which the arbitral tribunal seated in Singapore issued a unanimous decision that it has no jurisdiction to hear Philip Morris’ claim.

  • Security

    • Don’t believe the hype: That GRUB backspace bug wasn’t a big deal

      You can hack any Linux system just by pressing the backspace key 28 times! That’s what some sites would have you believe after an unfortunate GRUB bug was recently made public. But this won’t actually allow you to easily own any Linux system.

    • Researcher criticises ‘weak’ crypto in Internet of Things alarm system

      Security shortcomings in an internet-connected burglar alarm system from UK firm Texecom leave it open to hack attacks, an engineer turned security researcher warns.

      Luca Lo Castro said he had come across shortcomings in the encryption of communication after buying Texecom’s Premier Elite Control Panel and ComIP module and assembling it.

      To be able to remote control the alarm system remotely, you open a firewall port in the router and do a port forwarding to the internet. But this allows the mobile app to directly connect to the ComIP module over an unencrypted connection, Lo Castro discovered.

      Using WireShark, he said he had discovered that data traffic between the mobile app and the control panel is done in clear text or encoded to BASE64. That means potentially confidential information like the alarm control panel (UDL) password, device name and location are exposed, as a blog post by Lo Castro explains.

    • New Year’s Eve security updates
    • The current state of boot security

      I gave a presentation at 32C3 this week. One of the things I said was “If any of you are doing seriously confidential work on Apple laptops, stop. For the love of god, please stop.” I didn’t really have time to go into the details of that at the time, but right now I’m sitting on a plane with a ridiculous sinus headache and the pseudoephedrine hasn’t kicked in yet so here we go.

  • Defence/Police/Secrecy/Aggression

    • Sorry Bro, Maybe Next Week: Keep Calm and Troll ISIS

      Reminding us the Revolution may well be tweeted if not televised, ISIS again used its much-vaunted social media savvy this weekend to broadcast the first new online rallying cry since May. In the 24-minute address delivered through ISIS-aligned media accounts, leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi told his audience, “Be confident that God will grant victory to those who worship him, and hear the good news that our state is doing well. We urgently call upon every Muslim to join the fight, especially those in the land of the two shrines (Saudi Arabia).” The message was re-tweeted in English by Iyad El-Baghdadi, a prominent human rights activist and ISIS foe initially confused by many online with al-Baghdadi himself. Soon after posting the ISIS message, he started getting mock replies from folks who preferred to join a growing, deft flurry of online anti-ISIS activity aimed at proving that “making fun of the enemy is the best way of defeating them.”

    • Erdogan’s Family Caught in New Scandal

      The clan relations principle has been a prime factor in business affairs for centuries in numerous Islamic and Middle Eastern countries. Unfortunately, in recent months we’ve often witnessed evidence that in Turkey the family of Tayyip Erdogan has been transformed in some sort of carnivorous octopus that has not simply entangled the Turkish economy and politics, but has also extended its tentacles far beyond the state.

      It is hardly necessary to remind anyone of all the scandals in which the members of this family have been engaged. Here are just some examples of its connections with the Islamic State (ISIL) and other terrorist groups:

      Erdogan’s daughter – Sümeyye Erdogan – has been running a covert military hospital, which is treating Islamic State militants.

    • Syria Rebel Leader’s Assassination a Major Blow to US Agenda

      News of the death of prominent anti-Assad commander (or ‘terrorist,’ ‘rebel,’ ‘opposition commander,’ etc.) Zahran Alloush has the potential to radically alter the nature of the war in Syria.

    • Prior to San Bernardino Attack, Many Were Trained to Spot Terrorists; None Did

      These behavioral indicators have become central to the U.S. counterterrorism prevention strategy, yet critics say they don’t work. “Quite simply, they rely on generalized correlations found in selectively chosen terrorists without using control groups to see how often the correlated behaviors identified occur in the non-terrorist population,” Michael German, a former FBI agent who is currently a fellow at the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law, told The Intercept.

      The trainings are based on flawed theories that just don’t stand up to empirical scrutiny, according to German. “The FBI, [National Counter-Terrorism Center], and [Department of Homeland Security] promote these theories despite the fact they have been refuted in numerous academic studies over the past 20 years,” he said.

    • Fire engulfs Dubai hotel ahead of New Year celebrations

      A huge fire has engulfed a 63-storey hotel in central Dubai ahead of a New Year’s Eve firework display.

      Despite the blaze at the Address hotel, the display at the nearby Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the world, started as planned at midnight.

    • New Year’s Eve Pyrotechnics Go On Despite Raging Hotel Fire in Dubai

      A massive fire was blazing at a 63-story hotel in downtown Dubai on Thursday night, near where tens of thousands of people had gathered for the world’s largest New Year’s Eve fireworks display.

      According to the Associated Press, “It was not immediately clear what caused the fire, which ran up at least 20 stories of the building, which would likely have been packed with people because of its clear view of the 828-meter (905-yard) tall Burj Khalifa.”

    • Iraq’s ‘Liberated’ Ramadi: 80% Destroyed, 30% Still ISIS-Held

      The vital capital of Iraq’s Anbar Province, once a city of half a million people, Ramadi has in the past seven months fell to ISIS, was surrounded and bombarded, and now (mostly) recovered by Iraq. As Iraqi officials tout their victory, however, it seems what they really won is a big repair bill.

    • Over 51,000 Killed in Iraq during 2015

      Antiwar.com has found that at least 51,738 people were killed across Iraq during 2015, while at least 19,651 were wounded. The number of fatalities reported was slightly higher than in 2014, but the number of wounded was substantially lower. These figures should be taken as very rough estimates and probably low estimates at that.

  • Transparency Reporting

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife

    • Ten Weather Extremes That Defined Hottest Year Ever Recorded

      From droughts to floods to mega-storms, extreme weather over the past 365 days raises disturbing questions about future of climate chaos

    • Erin Brockovich: California Methane Gas Leak Is Worst U.S. Environmental Disaster Since BP Oil Spill

      Runaway natural gas leak above Los Angeles has emitted more than 150 million pounds of methane since late October.

    • Sick of El Niño? You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet, Warns NASA

      The El Niño currently wreaking havoc around the world is forecast to only worsen in 2016 — and NASA experts fear it could get as bad as the most destructive El Niño ever.

      A new satellite image of the weather system “bears a striking resemblance to one from December 1997″ — the worst El Niño on record — which was blamed for extreme weather, including record rainfall in California and Peru, heat waves across Australia, and fires in Indonesia. The severe conditions resulted in an estimated 23,000 deaths in 1997 and 1998.

    • BP partially evacuates North Sea Valhall oil field

      BP is partially evacuating an oilfield in the North Sea because a barge has broken loose and is drifting out of control in rough weather.

      BP says it employs 235 people in the Valhall oilfield but it cannot confirm the number of people who were being evacuated Thursday.

    • One dead and two injured after huge wave hits North Sea oil platform

      One worker has died and two others have been injured after huge waves hit a North sea platform. Statoil today confirmed the news after initially reporting three workers had been injured.

    • North Sea workers airlifted as barge drifts near Valhall field

      The barge was 110m in length and 30m wide and there were fears that it could ram one of the rigs.

    • BP Evacuates Employees From Oilfield in North Sea as Barge Detaches

      Oil and gas giant British Petroleum (BP) is partially evacuating its Valhall oilfield in the North Sea as one of its barges is drifting in the sea uncontrolled, local media reported Thursday.

    • Forests of southwest US face mass die-off by 2100

      California’s drought has already imperilled many of its trees, and within 80 years climate change could destroy the evergreen forests of the entire US southwest.

    • Freak storm pushes North Pole 50 degrees above normal to melting point

      This story has been updated to include buoy measurements that confirm the North Pole temperature climbed above 32 degrees on Wednesday.

    • The 5 Worst Fracking Moments of 2015

      Once again, in 2015 the oil and gas industry showed us the ludicrous lengths they will go to in order to frack more communities. In the process, they created ample fodder for Comedy Central, and the likes of John Oliver, John Stewart, Trevor Noah and Larry Wilmore. Here are a few of the worst head-shaking stunts that made the news in 2015:

    • El Niño and war drive aid agencies to the brink

      Governments must act immediately to end conflicts and counter the impact of climate disruption so as to avoid a humanitarian catastrophe affecting millions.

    • The Paris Climate Agreement: Hope or Hype?

      Perhaps the most realistic assessment was posted by Guardian columnist George Monbiot on the day of the final deal. “By comparison to what it could have been, it’s a miracle,” he wrote. “By comparison to what it should have been, it’s a disaster.” It is clear that those who are praising the agreement and those who emphasize its shortcomings live in almost entirely different worlds.


      Still, the means for limiting average warming to 1.5 or 2 degrees are largely aspirational, and this is reflected in the agreement’s language throughout. Words like “clarity,” “transparency,” “integrity,” “consistency,” and “ambition” appear throughout the text, but there’s very little to assure that these aspirations can be realized. UN staff are to create all manner of global forums, working groups and expert panels to move the discussions forward but, as was clear prior to Paris, the main focus is to instill a kind of moral obligation to drive diplomats and their governments to take further steps. Article 15 of the agreement proposes a “mechanism to facilitate implementation and promote compliance,” but this takes the form of an internationally representative “expert-based” committee that is to be “transparent, non-adversarial and non-punitive.” This compliance “mechanism” is described in three short sentences in the main Agreement and another couple of paragraphs in the Adoption document; as predicted, there’s nothing to legally pressure intransigent countries or corporations to do much of anything.

    • 5 New Year’s Resolutions For Reporting On Climate Change

      Whether they were covering extreme weather events or presidential campaign events, media outlets often came up short in their reporting on climate change this year. But 2016 will be a fresh opportunity for improved climate coverage. With that in mind, here are five resolutions for reporters looking to provide better coverage of climate change in the new year.

  • Finance

  • PR/AstroTurf/Lobbying

    • Donald Trump Thanks Conspiracy Site For ‘Amazing Honor’ Of Being Its Man Of The Year

      WorldNetDaily’s founder and editor Joseph Farah is one of the nation’s leading purveyors of “birther” conspiracy theories — the repeatedly debunked notion that President Barack Obama was born in Kenya — publishing more than 600 posts on the topic. Even after Obama released his long-form birth certificate indicating his birth in Hawaii, Farah claimed that this proved nothing. Trump has frequently repeated these claims and Politico reported in 2011 that Farah frequently advised the billionaire investor and former reality show host.

    • Putin’s Magnificent Messaging Machine

      This is the new reality that I helped research while working with Columbia Journalism School’s “ RT Watch” project. For the better part of 2015, the project compiled RT’s output, attempting to examine how, or whether, RT deserves its reputation as a bulwark for Kremlin-friendly programming. Alongside a group of other Columbia graduate students, we watched, read, and consumed RT for hours a day, months on end. We piled our findings—the deceits, the distractions, the direction RT takes—over at the RT Watch blog, along with assorted social media accounts. As one observer said, we watched RT so you didn’t have to. After subsuming ourselves in the entire RT gestalt, I’d like to share some of the things I found.

  • Censorship

    • No, ISIS Isn’t Worth Sacrificing the First Amendment Over

      But America’s principles should be why we hold the nation to such a high standard, not give it a pass for good intentions and high-minded ideals. We say we’re for free speech, so we should mean it. Unfortunately, as we bomb and invade, so we sometimes violate free speech. For most of our history, we’ve managed to at least be better than the rest of the world when it comes to allowing free expression.

    • Twitter tightens rules on trolling and terror talk

      TWITTER IS CLOSING OFF 2015 with updated guidance on what it will and will not stand for on its microchatting pages.

      The Twitter rules have been updated and blogged about. The message is that change is necessary if the firm is to manage free speech and keep people happy.

      “We believe that protection from abuse and harassment is a vital part of empowering people to freely express themselves on Twitter,” said Megan Cristina, who is dubbed a Twitter director for Trust + Safety.

    • Twitter clarifies rules on banned content, abusive behavior

      Twitter Inc has clarified its definition of abusive behavior that will prompt it to delete accounts, banning “hateful conduct” that promotes violence against specific groups.

    • Google Asked to Remove 558 Million “Pirate” Links in 2015

      Copyright holders asked Google to remove more than 560,000,000 allegedly infringing links from its search engine in 2015. The staggering number is an increase of 60% compared to the year before. According to Google the continued surge is a testament that the DMCA takedown process is working, but some copyright holders disagree.

    • Ursula Gauthier: foreign media must fight China censorship, says expelled journalist

      French magazine journalist – ousted by Beijing after writing about repression of the Uighur minority – says reporters must find a way around barriers

    • Expelled French journalist ‘surreal’ ahead of China departure

      A French reporter forced to leave China by authorities after she criticised government policy in violence-wracked, mainly Muslim Xinjiang, said she had been left with a feeling of “surreality” Thursday ahead of her departure.

    • Expelled French journalist prepares to leave China

      A French reporter forced to leave China after she was accused of supporting terrorism for criticising government policy in violence-wracked, mainly Muslim Xinjiang, was preparing to leave on Thursday.

    • French journalist expelled from China for ‘supporting terrorism’ prepares to leave

      A French reporter forced to leave China after she was accused of supporting terrorism for criticising government policy in violence-wracked Xinjiang was preparing to leave on Thursday.

      Ursula Gauthier wrote an article in the magazine L’Obs questioning official comparisons between global terrorism and the unrest in Xinjiang.

    • China passes controversial counter-terrorism law

      China’s parliament passed a controversial new anti-terrorism law on Sunday that requires technology firms to hand over sensitive information such as encryption keys to the government and allows the military to venture overseas on counter-terror operations.

      Chinese officials say their country faces a growing threat from militants and separatists, especially in its unruly Western region of Xinjiang, where hundreds have died in violence in the past few years.

  • Privacy

    • BREAKING: The United States Spies on Israel

      So that’s that. The NSA spied on Netanyahu. That’s a nothingburger. Of course they spied on Netanyahu. And the NSA says that they properly minimized the congressional end of any conversations between Netanyahu and a member of Congress. Since conservatives insist that we should take their word for this in general, why shouldn’t we take their word for it now? Wake me up if it turns out there’s anything more to this story.

    • EXCLUSIVE: Rubio Defends NSA Spying on Netanyahu In Private, Condemns It In Public

      Republican presidential candidate Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) privately defended the National Security Agency’s (NSA) spying on Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, even as he publicly condemned the practice.

    • Ben Carson: NSA Spying on Israel ‘Is Truly Disgraceful’
    • Lawrence Lessig: Technology Will Create New Models for Privacy Regulation

      The latest chapter of Lawrence Lessig’s career ended in November, when the Harvard Law School professor concluded his bid for the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination. That effort centered on his campaign to reform Congressional politics. Prior to that, Prof. Lessig’s scholarship, teaching and activism focused on technology policy and the Internet. He has argued for greater sharing of creative content, the easing of restrictions in areas such as copyright, and the concept of Net Neutrality. Prof. Lessig, who founded the Center for Internet and Society at Stanford Law School, is the author of numerous books on technology, including “Code: and Other Laws of Cyberspace,” and “The Fut