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Links 18/12/2016: Lenovo Embraces Chrome OS, Now Dock 0.5 Released

GNOME bluefish



  • Desktop

    • Linux 2016 – The Year of the Hard Shift
      I’m just going to come out and say it. This thing is being rushed because my thoughts are not exactly careening from stream-to-stream. I am so burned out waiting for the moment when Linux finally catches up with the rest of the tech industry.

      I know there are a lot of you out there right now, don’t deny it, who are saying “Well, welcome to Linux! You’ve finally got your citizenship!” That’s not good enough, nor will it ever be good enough for me–not even close. I apologize right away if it offends anyone’s sensibilities. But there are days when I feel like I’m the only one who sees what’s happening.

    • Lenovo's funky Yoga Book laptop will get a Chrome OS option next year
      The Yoga Book is definitely one of the most interesting and divisive laptop designs to come out in a while - users either love or hate its touchscreen/keyboard deck hook. To a digital artist its integrated "Create Pad" is a godsend, but a mechanical keyboard fan probably sees its integrated haptic key layout as sacrilege. Either way, you'll soon have more options if you want to check out that unique hardware: a Lenovo executive told a Tom's guide reporter that the Yoga Book would be sold in a Chrome OS model in 2017.

  • Server

    • Diversity Scholarship Series: My Programming Journey – Becoming a Kubernetes Maintainer
      On December 14, 2015, I got my first Pull Request merged. What a great feeling! I admit it was really small (a removal of 6 chars from a Makefile), but it was a big step personally to realize that the Kubernetes maintainers wanted my contributions. From January-March, I focused on getting the Kubernetes source code to cross-compile ARM binaries and release them automatically. Kubernetes v1.2.0 was the first release that shipped with “official” Google-built ARM binaries.

    • Docker Move Brings Universal Container Operations A Step Closer
      Docker has contributed a component of Docker Engine, Containerd, to the community; it will provide a key element of a universal runtime.

      Getting to a standard, shared runtime environment in which containers from different suppliers run predictably took a step closer to reality this week as Docker opened up a key feature of its Docker Engine, containerd.

    • Why Native Docker Orchestration is the Best Orchestration
      Why is this going to be an interesting talk and why should you care? asks Mike Goelzer of Docker in his LinuxCon North America presentation. The answer is that simple, robust, integrated container orchestration is key to successful containers management, and Goelzer believes that the native Docker orchestration, called Swarm, is the best orchestration. Goelzer gives a high-level overview of Swarm, and his colleague Victor Vieux goes into detail on the internals.

    • From 1 to N Docker Hosts: Getting Started with Docker Clustering

  • Kernel Space

    • Synaptics Input Being Better Enhanced With Linux 4.10
      The input driver updates for Linux 4.10 are most exciting for those with laptops having newer Synaptics technology.

      With Linux 4.6 came the Synaptics RMI4 support while in 4.10 it's being much improved. The Synaptics RMI4 with Linux 4.10 now has support for SMBus controllers, firmware update support, sensor tuning, and PS/2 guest support. Synaptics RMI4 is used by many newer touchpads and touch-screens.

    • Thwarting Unknown Bugs: Hardening Features in the Mainline Linux Kernel

    • Hardening the Kernel to Protect Against Attackers
      The task of securing Linux systems is so mind-bogglingly complex and involves so many layers of technology that it can easily overwhelm developers. However, there are some fairly straightforward protections you can use at the very core: the kernel. These hardening techniques help developers guard against the bugs that haven’t yet been detected.

      “Hardening is about making bugs more difficult to exploit,” explained Mark Rutland, a kernel developer at ARM Ltd, at the recent Embedded Linux Conference Europe 2016 in Berlin. There will always be dangerous bugs that manage to evade the notice of kernel developers, he added. “We do not yet know which particular bugs exist in the next kernel, and we probably won’t for five years,” he said, referring to Kees Cook’s recent analysis of kernel bug lifetimes.

    • The KVM & Xen Changes For Linux 4.10: Includes Intel GVT Work
      Earlier in the week the KVM and Xen updates were sent in for the Linux 4.10 kernel to add to the list of changes so far for Linux 4.10.

      On the KVM front within the x86 space there is now support for hiding nested VMX features from guest, nested VMX can now run Microsoft Hyper-V in a guest, there is support for more AVX512 extensions, and there is infrastructure support for virtual Intel GPUs.

    • Graphics Stack

    • Benchmarks

      • 10-Way AMD GPU Comparison For Team Fortress 2 With RadeonSI Mesa 13.1-dev
        In case you didn't hear, last week a nine year old Mesa bug was fixed that ended up causing stability issues for RadeonSI and was one of the reasons Valve's Team Fortress 2 game wasn't running stable on the open-source AMD driver in quite a while. With Mesa Git now running Team Fortress 2 on RadeonSI without any stability problems, here are fresh benchmarks of that game when using Mesa 13.1-dev and Linux 4.9.

        As mentioned in a few other articles already, a big year-end RadeonSI OpenGL performance comparison on many different graphics cards will be published in the days ahead. But given Team Fortress 2 back to running nicely on RadeonSI without stability concerns, I decided to run fresh benchmarks on ten different GCN graphics cards to show the performance difference.

      • EXT4, Btrfs, XFS & F2FS On Linux 4.6 Through 4.9
        For those curious how various Linux file-systems have evolved since Linux 4.6, here are some fresh benchmarks of the Btrfs, EXT4, F2FS, and XFS file-systems being tested on Linux 4.6 vs. 4.7 vs. 4.8 vs. 4.9 with a solid-state drive for looking at any performance changes.

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • What’s the Best Lightweight Linux Desktop Environment for you ?
      If you have old Windows XP PC or a netbook? Don’t throw away your old PC just yet and you can revive it with a lightweight Linux Desktop Environments.

      How ? Distributions are consuming more resources majorly on GUI (Graphical User Interface), when you are having old hardware first you have to decide the desktop environment then distribution. Some Linux users would prefer a more lean & slim environment.

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

      • Kdenlive 16.12 released

      • Plasma 5.9 Wallpaper “Canopee”
        It’s that time of the release cycle! Plasma 5.9 is getting a new wallpaper, “Canopee”, French for canopy. Like the last wallpaper, Bismuth, we are again shipping with a 4K version.

      • Looking Forward
        We have just released Krita 3.1, but we are already deep into coding again! We will continue releasing bug fix versions of Krita 3.1.x until it’s time to release 3.2 (or maybe 4.0…). And, as with 2.9, some bug fix releases might even contain new features, if they’re small and safe enough. But we’ll also start making development builds soon, and there’s also the daily build for Windows.

      • Made with Krita 2016 — the Krita Artbook

      • [Krita] Interview with Jabari Dumisani
        Actually I was looking for some GIMP update news online, ended up on a Blender 3D forum and heard about Krita from one of the posts, never hearing of it before. I nosed around, followed the trail to the .org website, and the rest was history. Krita and I have been buddies ever since.

      • Cutelyst 1.1.2 released
        Cutelyst the C++/Qt Web Framework just got a new release.

        Yesterday I was going to do the 1.1.0 release, after running tests, and being happy with current state I wrote this blog post, but before I publish I went to CMS (CMlyst) to paste the same post, and I got hit by a bug I had on 1.0.0, which at time I thought it was a bug in CMlyst, so decided to investigate and found a few other bugs with our WSGI not properly changing the current directory and not replacing the + sign with an ‘ ‘ space when parsing formdata, which was the main bug. So did the fixes tagged as 1.1.1 and today found that automatically setting Content-Length wasn’t working when the View rendered nothing.

      • KDE Applications 16.12.0 just out!
      • Marble in your CMake or qmake based project, now more easy

      • How input works – Keyboard input

      • Now Dock v0.5

      • Comparing Krita packaging size
        Every time a new version of Krita is released I see somewhere a post where someone lists the output of their distribtion package manager and complains about the number of dependencies and the installation size. In the past dependencies used to be a huge problem where the connections between the packages causes a chains of dependencies at which end you e.g. needed install a MySQL server.

  • Distributions

    • Bluestar Linux: A Beautiful Take on KDE and a User-Friendly Arch-Based Distribution
      Have you ever wanted a combination of Arch Linux and KDE but always seemed to get stumped at the Arch Linux portion of the combination? If that’s you, your days of being left out in the Arch Linux/KDE cold are over. Why? Bluestar Linux.

      This new(ish) kid on the block allows you to enjoy Arch Linux without having to jump through all the usual hoops of setting the distribution up manually, plus it offers a rather unique take on KDE, one that had me instantly nodding my head in agreement with their layout. In fact, what Bluestar did with KDE makes so much sense, it has me wondering why this isn’t the default layout of the “K” Desktop Environment (more on this in a bit).

    • Budgie 10.2.9 Released
      We’re happy to announce the release of Budgie 10.2.9. This is solely a bug fix release, tackling some niggling issues before our focus shifts to development of Budgie 11.

    • This Week In Solus - Install #40
      On the last This Week in Solus, I highlighted our roadmap, which includes our upcoming ISO snapshot. This ISO snapshot will feature the latest kernel, which at the time of this writing, is looking like 4.9. Additionally, since the writing of TWIS #39, we have landed an upgraded libinput and xorg libinput driver, thus those will see inclusion in the ISO as well.

    • I'm extremely pleased that +Solus​ and Ubuntu MATE are deepening our collaboration

    • Arch Family

    • OpenSUSE/SUSE

      • OpenSUSE Leap 42.2 - Forrest Gimp

        I do have to admit I've been waiting for openSUSE to release 42.2. Even though the much anticipated Leap version did not stun me, I still have a secret love for openSUSE, deep deep down, as it was my first proper distro, and it has always shown that level of professionalism you don't get elsewhere. Lately, it's been flaking, but still.

        Anyhow, let's try to rekindle the emotion. OpenSUSE 42.2, also named Leap, is here, and currently, it comes as a mighty DVD-size ISO. Live editions ought to follow soon, but for me, it was time to bleed the network bandwidth. Testbed? The notorious if recently somewhat redeemed Lenovo G50 machine.

    • Slackware Family

      • New Slackware-current Live ISOs with latest Plasma
        I am ready with a new batch of packages for Plasma 5 and to showcase that in a Slackware Live Edition, I stamped a new version on ‘liveslak‘. Version 1.1.5 is ready, again containing only minor tweaks compared to the previous release. I made a set of ISO images for several variants of the 64bit and 32bit versions of Slackware Live Edition based on liveslak 1.1.5 and using Slackware-current dated “Thu Dec 1 08:49:20 UTC 2016“. These ISO images have been uploaded and are available on the primary server ‘bear‘. You will find ISO images for a full Slackware, Plasma5, MATE and Cinnamon (yes, I did one this time!) variants and the 700MB small XFCE variant.

    • Red Hat Family

      • Red Hat OpenStack Platform 10 targets private cloud
        Red Hat just announced that it is making Red Hat OpenStack Platform 10 available. This release is based upon the OpenStack ‘Newton’ release and is designed to increase system-wide scalability, simplify management and improve workload orchestration. It will also enhance both network performance and security.

        Additionally, Red Hat OpenStack Platform 10 introduces a new software life cycle, with optional support up to 5 years.

      • Red Hat OpenStack Platform 10 Extends Cloud Support
        While new releases of OpenStack debut every six months, organizations tend to want to run stable cloud deployments for longer period of time. As such, Red Hat is now providing its users with up to five years of support for its OpenStack Cloud Platform. Red Hat announced the official release of its OpenStack Platform 10 on December 15, providing users with the option for up to five years of support. The new Red Hat OpenStack Platform 10 release is based on the upstream open-source OpenStack Newton milestone that debuted on October 6.

      • Red Hat Pursues Microsoft SQL Server on Linux Partners, Customers
        Red Hat (RHT) is opening its arms to Microsoft SQL Server partners and customers, inviting those ecosystems to test the database on Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL). The move comes roughly one month after Microsoft launched a SQL Server on Linux public preview. General availability is expected in mid-2017.

      • [CentOS-announce] Release for CentOS Linux 7 (1611) on x86_64

      • systemd 231 in Centos 7 thx to Facebook
        So Centos7 currently has systemd version 219 installed which was released on 2015-02-16 (see NEWS).

        This is a huge problem, as we miss a lot of very important functions related to journald, networkd, machinectl, systemd-nspawn and so on.

      • Finance

      • Fedora

        • Fedora 25 Gnome review - A way to land
          All right. Brace yourselves. It's Fedora time. Throughout 2016, a gloomy year for the likes of us, Linux users, Fedora has been a friendly companion. It made me like and use Gnome again, plus it offered a pleasant, vibrant, practical desktop experience that nicely filled the gap left by Ubuntu. Almost like a dental crown.

          We also learned how to pimp it, and I have a whole bunch of surprises laid out ahead of us, including yet more elegant tweaking and taming, reviews on other hardware, some revolutionary usability tricks, and still more. But all that will happen in the future. Now, we should focus on Fedora 25, and see how it stacks against its predecessor, as well as the entire Linux ecosystem. No pressure.

        • Fedora 25 Release Party Beijing Report

          Last week we hold the Fedora 25 Release Party Beijing. As I am a little busy, Tonghui volunteered to be the event owner. I co-organise as coordinator and logistics.

          Since it’s near winter vacation of schools, as soon as Fedora 25 released, we decide to make this happen early December. Otherwise there will hardly any student attending. So I insists to hold in the university no later than Dec 17th. So this finally happened on Dec 10th.

        • Linux-modder's Tech Corner
          Attending Ambassadors, Fedora Contributors included: Corey Sheldon (linuxmodder), Nick Bebout (nb), Mike DePaulo (mikedep333), Beth Lynn (bethlynn), Matthew Miller (mattdm), Stephen Gallagher (sgallagh). Having a rather nice spread of the Fedora Community among us made for a very productive display and sidebar chats amongst ourselves and the Redhat / Centos Table folks we were with. Among us were several conference talk attendees and even a GPG Signing Party (as a BoF).

    • Debian Family

      • Freexian’s report about Debian Long Term Support, November 2016
        Like each month, here comes a report about the work of paid contributors to Debian LTS.

      • Derivatives

        • Canonical/Ubuntu

          • Ubuntu spotted during AMD Instinct announcement

          • Ubuntu Unity 8 snap - edge r283

          • Ubuntu Unity 8 update

          • Get 50% off Linux Foundation training and certification
            It’s been a great year for Ubuntu. More and more cloud users are turning to Ubuntu for their needs on public clouds. On the private cloud side you can find us on most production deployments of OpenStack, and we’re bringing you the latest bits of Kubernetes and other exciting cloud technologies, like fresh Docker packages. That’s a ton of new technology, it can be challenging to keep on top of things!
          • Flavours and Variants

            • SemiCode OS takes Ubuntu to next level
              While Canonical is keeping on expanding its presence in the world of open source, SemiCode OS has just emerged to take its Ubuntu to the next level. The platform uses Ubuntu 14.04 to deliver an advanced computing experience.

              SemiCode OS is designed as the Linux for programmers and web developers. As a replacement for Windows and macOS, the new operating system includes GNOME desktop environment. It also comes preloaded with IDEs of some popular programming languages.

              To nurture non-coders with some primary coding skills, the initial beta version of SemiCode OS has Scratch IDE. There are tools such as Slack and Git to support development teams.

            • Linux Mint 18.1 Cinnamon and MATE Released
              Clement Lefebvre today released Linux Mint 18.1 LTS in the Cinnamon and MATE flavors for 32 and 64-bit machines. Beta users can upgrade through the Update Manager, but 18.0 users will have to wait for until the end of the month. Today's release brought several updated components as well as new features.

              Linux Mint 18.1 features MATE 1.16 bringing additional GTK3 ports including the notification daemon, session manager, and MATE terminal. The Cinnamon version got a new screensaver application that looks and works much better. One can control multimedia from the screensaver screen without unlocking it, it can display the battery power level, and any missed notifications. Notifications can now have an accompanying sound if desired and panels can be set on the vertical. The sound applet can now control more than one device at a time and the keyboard applet can support more than one layout for the same language.

  • Devices/Embedded

    • Christmas-music-carousel-snap - with the Raspberry PiGlow!
      As part of our festive competition to build a seasonal snap on your RaspberryPi...we made an attempt ourselves!

    • Phones

      • Tizen

        • Vimeo coming soon to Samsung’s Tizen-powered TVs.
          Vimeo, a long-time competitor to YouTube, has today made the transition from small screen touchscreen to the big screen with new apps that have been developed for all the major viewing platforms Apple TV, Android TV, and also an HTML5 app for Samsung’s Tizen-based Smart TVs.

          This hasn’t been a simple case of up-scaling the smartphone app, but instead performing a complete “rebuild of the Vimeo TV experience”, that offers you the ability to customise it to your specific needs.

        • Smartphone Game: Little Birds Match is now Available Tizen Store

      • Android

        • The apparent end of CyanogenMod [Ed: Behind paywall until this week]
          The world is full of successful corporations built with free software and, as a general rule, the free-software community has benefited from the existence of those companies. But the intersection of corporate interest and free software can be a risky place where economic interests may be pursued to the detriment of the underlying software and its community. Arguably, that is what has happened with the CyanogenMod project, which is now faced with finding a new home and, probably, a new name.

          CyanogenMod is an alternative build of the Android operating system; it got its start in 2009. It quickly grew to become the most popular of the Android "mods", with a substantial community of contributors and support for a wide range of devices. Early users appreciated its extensive configurability, user-interface improvements, lack of dubious vendor add-on software, and occasionally, privacy improvements. For many users, CyanogenMod was a clear upgrade from whatever version of Android originally shipped on their devices.

          In 2013, CyanogenMod founder Steve Kondik obtained some venture capital and started Cyanogen Inc. as a vehicle to further develop the CyanogenMod distribution. The initial focus was on providing a better Android to handset manufacturers, who would choose to ship it instead of stock Android from Google. There was a scattering of initial successes, including the OnePlus One handset, but the list of devices shipping with CyanogenMod never did get that long.

          Recently there have been signs of trouble at Cyanogen; these include layoffs in July and, most recently, the news that Steve Kondik has left the company. Cyanogen Inc. will now proceed without its founder and, seemingly, with relatively little interest in the CyanogenMod distribution, which, arguably, has lost much of the prominence it once had. Devices running CyanogenMod were once easily found at free-software gatherings; now they are somewhat scarce. Anecdotally, it would seem that far fewer people care about the continued existence of CyanogenMod than did a few years ago.

        • Qualcomm To Bolster Android Things Efforts
          When Google announced that they planned to leverage the open and adaptable nature of Android to bring some much-needed order and unity to the wild west that is the internet of things, it didn’t take a genius, or even an insider, to know that nobody, not even Google, could do something like that alone. Thus, the wait began to see who all would come out of the woodwork to help bring Android Things into mainstream success. Industry watchers didn’t have to wait very long; the day after the official announcement of the Android Things IoT platform, processor maker and longtime Android platform Qualcomm has come forward as the first partner for Android Things.

        • 12 Android Apps You Should Have (But Probably Don't)
          The Google Play store has more than 2.4 million apps available, but most of us have a lot of the same apps on our smartphones or tablets. That is, after all, how those apps end up on the "most popular apps" lists.

          For this slideshow, we went looking for hidden gems. It highlights 12 great Android apps that you won't find on any "10 most popular apps" list. However, many of these apps have won awards, received rave reviews and earned excellent ratings from users. These are apps you might have otherwise overlooked, but that you should really consider downloading.
        • Google's search-savvy keyboard comes to Android
        • Samsung Galaxy S7, S7 Edge Android 7.1.1 Nougat Update Imminent, S6, S6 Edge, S6 Edge Plus And Note 5 To Follow
        • Google Launches Android Chrome WebVR Support
        • Moto G4, Moto G4 Plus Android 7 Nougat Update Now Available in US; Moto G5, Moto G5 Plus 2017 Launching?
        • 10 Things To Know About Android Things - Google's Latest IoT Device OS
        • Android Pay supports 31 new banks and credit unions

        • Curve comes to Android
          Today we're delighted to announce the release of Curve 1.0 on Android! We've launched on Android with a brand new interface and a host of great features that current Curve users have been enjoying since we launched on iOS earlier this year, and we're excited to bring it to Android users.

        • Capcom to bring entire Mega Man NES series to Android
          Capcom has announced that it will bring its entire collection of 8-bit Mega Man games to Android. Mega Man 1 through to Mega Man 6 will be launched in Japan on January 6, however there’s no news on whether Capcom will give them a wider release.

        • BlackBerry stops making phones, licenses the BlackBerry name to TCL for Android phones
          The BlackBerry smartphone is dead: Long live the BlackBerry smartphone.

          A week after it officially pulled out of the smartphone market, BlackBerry has agreed to license its brand to handset manufacturer TCL.

          The Chinese company will make and market future BlackBerry handsets worldwide except for India, Indonesia, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Nepal, where BlackBerry has already struck local licensing deals.

          This is hardly new territory for TCL, which manufactured BlackBerry’s last two handsets, the Android-based DTEK50 and DTEK60.

          BlackBerry has taken a more direct route out of the handset manufacturing business than Nokia, another of the marquee phone brands of the early years of this century. When Nokia sold its smartphone business to Microsoft, it also gave that company the right to use the Nokia brand for a transitional period. When Nokia got its name back earlier this year, it promptly granted a 10-year license to HMD Global, a Finnish company, to use its name on new phones.

        • 'Ok Google' now works in Android Auto
        • Android Auto listens for your 'OK Google'
        • 16 Android tips and tricks you shouldn't miss from 2016
        • Android device updates: OnePlus pushes out updates, Samsung tries to kill off the Note7
        • Amazon's $50 Android Smartphone Is Back Following Malware Scare

Free Software/Open Source

  • Haiku OS Makes Progress In Booting With UEFI
    The BeOS-compatible Haiku operating system continues working on a big feature not present during the original BeOS days: UEFI.

    A few weeks back we wrote about Haiku OS working on UEFI support and in the time since they've made steady progress on supporting this standard. Haiku with QEMU can now boot all the way to the desktop using UEFI. But when it comes to using real hardware, such as a MacBook Air, Haiku can boot with UEFI but then freezes when hitting the desktop. But before they can figure out that situation, they need to add serial debugging support to be able to figure out what's happening.

    In addition to serial debugging support, they are also planning to expand the disk system support and other enhancements to its UEFI support. They are optimistic they may have UEFI booting in working shape for their upcoming OS beta release.

  • Events

    • OpenSource 101 Coming to Raleigh, N.C.
      There’s a new open source conference coming to Silicon Valley East. OpenSource 101 will be a single day event held Saturday February 4, 2017 on the campus of North Carolina State University in Raleigh. The event is being hosted by All Things Open, the organization behind the four-year-old All Things Open conference that’s held every October in downtown Raleigh.

      While All Things Open is one of the largest open source conferences in the country — this year’s event was attended by 2,400 — OpenSource 101 will be downsized by design, with attendance precapped at 500. That’s probably due to seating limitations at the university’s McKimmon Center where the event will take place. According to an email sent Wednesday, OpenSource 101 grew out of “the incredible demand we’ve seen for 101/Introductory level open source education” at this year’s ATO, where an introductory track was called “101.”

  • SaaS/Back End

    • Top 7 Videos from ApacheCon and Apache Big Data 2016
      It’s been two years since The Linux Foundation forged a partnership with the Apache Software Foundation to become the producer of their official ASF events. This year, ApacheCon and Apache Big Data continued to grow and gain momentum as the place to share knowledge, ideas, best practices and creativity with the rest of the Apache open source community.

  • Databases

    • MariaDB Releases an Open Source Columnar Storage Engine
      MariaDB Corporation, is launching MariaDB ColumnStore 1.0, an open source columnar storage engine that unites transaction and analytic processing to deliver seamless big data analytics.

      “Providing a single SQL front end for both your OLTP and analytics is valuable and important,” said David Thompson, VP of engineering at MariaDB.

    • MariaDB ColumnStore Adds Simultaneous Analytics, Transactional Processing
      MariaDB has released into general availability ColumnStore 1.0, a storage engine allows users to run analytics and transactional processes simultaneously with a single front end on the MariaDB 10.1 database.

      While the open source community pushed back against the licensing model of MariaDB’s MaxScale database proxy, ColumnStore is open source, licensed under GPLv2.

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice

    • LibreOffice 5.3 to Launch with a Microsoft Office-like Ribbon UI
      "LibreOffice is working on a pretty significant overhaul of its interface that would have the productivity suite adopt a new toolbar design similar to the Microsoft Office Ribbon UI."

      At this point, LibreOffice’s new Ribbon-inspired UI is still in the works, but it’s already available in experimental version 5.3 and anyone can see how it looks using the steps below.

  • Funding

    • Databricks Sparks Growth with $60M Series C
      Apache Spark has become a core element of the modern data analytics stack

      Databricks announced on December 15 that it has raised $60 million in Series C funding to help grow it commercial aspirations in support of the open-source Apache Spark project. To date, Databricks has raised a total of $107.5 million in funding since the company was first created in 2013.

  • BSD

    • watt time is left
      So Apple no longer knows how to make a battery meter. The good news is OpenBSD is still here for all your desktop needs. How does its battery meter work?

      The simplest interface to get battery status info is to run apm. This gives us both percentage and an estimate of time remaining.

  • Licensing/Legal

    • Oracle finally targets Java non-payers – six years after plucking Sun
      Oracle is massively ramping up audits of Java customers it claims are in breach of its licences – six years after it bought Sun Microsystems.

      A growing number of Oracle customers and partners have been approached by Larry Ellison’s firm, which claims they are out of compliance on Java.

      Oracle bought Java with Sun Microsystems in 2010 but only now is its License Management Services (LMS) division chasing down people for payment, we are told by people familiar with the matter.

      The database giant is understood to have hired 20 individuals globally this year, whose sole job is the pursuit of businesses in breach of their Java licences.

  • Programming/Development

  • Standards/Consortia

    • OpenID for authentication
      I've just registered on "yet another web site", which meant another scramble for a username that's not already in use, another randomly-generated and highly-unmemorable password, and another email address provided for account recovery in the event that it all goes wrong. Along with my flying car and jetpack, I'd rather hoped the 21st century would bring a better way of managing my identity on the internet; in 2005 it did just that with the release of the OpenID standard for distributed authentication. Sadly, OpenID has remained a fringe player in this field.


  • The Guardian view on Moomintroll: a hero for our time
    Few authors have managed to convey an open-hearted domesticity as well as Tove Jansson – Moominmamma is patron spirit of Christmas hospitality – but the idyll of Moomin Valley is surrounded by wilderness and constantly threatened by flood and fire, comet and the wandering Groke. Moomintroll wakes alone from hibernation and wanders in a sunless world of snow. “If only there was anyone here I knew from before!” he thinks, “someone who wasn’t full of secrets, but was altogether ordinary…”. But he must make his way through a strange, enchanted world without his old friends.

  • Science

    • Are we cleared to land?

      Airport runways play a major role in safe navigation. Pilots and air traffic controllers use the runway to guide planes for safe departures and arrivals, but few people realize how much work and preparation it takes to ensure passenger safety.

      The Aeronautical Survey Program administered through NOAA provides the highly accurate position, height, and orientation information needed for safe air navigation. NOAA's National Geodetic Survey has performed aeronautical surveys since the 1920s. The surveys provide critical information about airport features, obstructions, and aids to navigation.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • End of federal Flint water investigation brings more questions than answers
      The closure of Congress' year-long Flint water investigation has drawn very different reactions from both sides of the issue.

      Letters dated Friday, Dec. 16, from U.S. Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, chairman of the House Oversight Committee, indicated that the investigation had closed. Letters blamed both state officials and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for not detecting Flint water problems soon enough or taking proper action once problems were identified.

      Some Republicans, such as Gov. Rick Snyder, believe the investigation was thorough and resulted in proposed policy change.

    • House panel closes probe into Flint water crisis
      The House Oversight Committee Friday closed its investigation into the Flint, Mich., drinking water crisis, concluding that a “failure of government at all levels” caused and exacerbated the catastrophe.

      Chairman Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) closed the 11-month probe with a pair of letters to the chairmen of the House Energy and Commerce Committee and the House Appropriations Committee, summarizing the findings that pertain to each of their jurisdictions.

      “The documents and testimony show a series of failures at all levels of government caused, and then exacerbated, the water crisis. The committee found significant problems at Michigan’s Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ), and unacceptable delays in the Environmental Protection Agency’s response to the crisis,” Chaffetz wrote to Appropriations Chairman Hal Rogers (R-Ky.).

    • Antibiotic resistance will hit a terrible tipping point in 2017
      A major menace looms over us. In 2017, many more people could begin dying from common bacterial infections. As resistance to antibiotics booms, diseases from gonorrhoea to urinary tract infections are becoming untreatable – a situation that looks set to get worse as the world reaches a new tipping point next year.

      “We are about to reach the point where more antibiotics will be consumed by farm animals worldwide than by humans,” says Mark Woolhouse, at the University of Edinburgh, UK.

      This will mean more resistant bacteria, which could be a big threat. The livestock industry has long played down any risk to human health caused by using antibiotics in farming, but the danger is now accepted, according to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

    • The US plans to ban smoking in public housing — but will it work?
      April Simpson has been living in the Queensbridge Houses, a public housing development in Queens, New York, her whole life. “From day one. I was born here,” she says, proudly.

      When she walks among the iconic six-story, red-brick buildings, passersby say hi to her and kiss her on the cheek. Everyone seems to know her. Simpson, a charismatic 54-year-old with buzzed short hair and a broad smile, is the Queensbridge tenants’ association president. She’s also a smoker. But come 2017, under a new federal rule, she won’t be allowed to light up one of her Newport cigarettes inside the housing development where she lives.

      Simpson is in favor of the smoking ban, but she also thinks it will be “extremely hard” to enforce. “You just can’t say, ‘You can’t smoke anymore’ to a person who’s been smoking for 20 years or even 10 years,” she says. “It’s like putting a lollipop in front of child and saying, ‘You can’t have it’ without giving them alternatives.”

  • Security

  • Defence/Aggression

    • China Makes New Move in South China Sea Fight

      China has placed weapons on all seven artificial islands it built in the South China Sea, a new report Thursday indicates.

      Images from the Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative, a U.S. think tank, show the apparent "significant" military buildup.

      "China appears to have built significant point-defense capabilities, in the form of large anti-aircraft guns and probable close-in weapons systems (CIWS), at each of its outposts in the Spratly Islands," according to the report from AMTI, a subsidiary of the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

      The reports adds that these "emplacements show that Beijing is serious about defense of its artificial islands in case of an armed contingency in the South China Sea. … They would be the last line of defense against cruise missiles launched by the United States or others."
    • War In The South China Sea
      Seizing a vessel on the high seas is an act of war. If China does not promptly return the vessel, USA can take punitive actions including attacking Chinese naval vessels in the area. This could rapidly escalate. China has been claiming most of the South China Sea as their territory. How far will they push this?

    • Pentagon: Chinese ship captures U.S. underwater drone from sea
      A U.S. Navy underwater drone operating in international waters was captured by a Chinese warship in the South China Sea, Pentagon Press Secretary Peter Cook said in a statement on Friday.

      The drone is not armed and is used for gathering weather and temperature data. The incident occurred Thursday.

    • Chinese warship seizes US underwater drone in international waters

      The Chinese navy has seized an underwater drone in plain sight of the American sailors who had deployed it in international waters, in a seemingly brazen message to the incoming Trump administration.

      According to a US defence official, the unmanned glider had come to the surface of the water in the South China Sea and was about to be retrieved by the USNS Bowditch, an oceanographic and surveillance ship, when a Chinese naval vessel that had been shadowing the Bowditch put a small boat in the water.

      Chinese sailors in the small boat came alongside the drone and grabbed it despite the radioed protests from the Bowditch that it was US property in international waters. The incident happened about 100 miles north-west of the Philippines’ port of Subic Bay.

    • Theresa May refuses to follow US in ending bomb sales to Saudi Arabia despite schools, hospitals and wedding parties being hit in Yemen
      Prime Minister Theresa May has rejected a call for the UK to stop selling weapons to Saudi Arabia – following the US’s decision to restrict arms sales to the autocracy.

      The US announced it would stop a shipment of precision-guided munitions to the country following evidence of “systematic, endemic problems in Saudi Arabia’s targeting”.

    • Aleppo
      The Morning Star has today come under massive criticism for hailing the near total recapture of Aleppo by pro-Government forces as a “liberation.” I would agree that the situation calls for more nuance. However a feeling of relief that the fighting that has ravaged Aleppo for four years is coming to a close, must form part of any sane reaction. If we are not allowed to feel relief at that, presumably it means that we must have wanted al-Nusra and various other jihadist militias to win the hot war. What do we think Syria would look like after that?

      I am no fan of the Assad regime. It is not a genuine democracy and it has a very poor human rights record. If Assad had been toppled by his own people in the Arab spring and replaced by something more akin to a liberal democracy, which kept the Assad regime’s religious toleration, protection of minorities and comparatively good record on women’s rights, and added to it political freedom, a functioning justice system and end to human rights abuse, nobody would have been happier than I. Indeed I strongly suspect I have in the past done much more to campaign against human rights abuse in Syria than the mainstream media stenographers who all decry the fall of rebel Aleppo now.

      But sadly liberal democracy, human rights and women’s rights are not in any sense what the jihadist militias the West is backing are fighting for.

    • Russian gas project splits Swedish politicians in Gotland
      Local parties in Gotland, a Swedish island in the Baltic Sea, are split over renting harbour facilities for the Russia's Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline.

      Representatives from Gotland and from Karlhamn, a municipality in southern Sweden that is also considering to rent port facilities, are to meet Swedish foreign minister Margot Wallstroem and defence minister Peter Hultqvist on Tuesday (13 December).

    • Swedish towns told to 'make preparations regarding the threat of war and conflict' with Russia

      Sweden’s towns and villages have been ordered to make preparations for a possible military attack in the latest sign of the country’s growing anxiety at its newly belligerent Russian neighbour.

      The country’s Civil Contingency Agency (MSB) last week sent a letter to local authorities across the country asking them to maintain operations centres in underground bunkers, ensure that a system of emergency sirens is in place, and to be open to cooperating on war exercises with the Swedish Armed Forces.

    • UK 'secretly selling arms to Saudi Arabia and elsewhere under opaque licencing system'
      The UK is secretly selling arms to Saudi Arabia and other countries under an opaque type of export licence, it has been reported.

      The military and defence industry is a major player in the UK economy, worth about €£7.7bn a year.

      But many of the countries buying British arms are run by governments with dubious human rights records, even though the destinations of such exports are supposed to meet human rights standards.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • Bianca Jagger
      Masoud Golsorkhi How did you first come across WikiLeaks? Bianca Jagger I first read about WikiLeaks about two years ago. I was shocked and revolted when I watched the “Collateral Murder” video, which was released to the world last April. It shows the killing of innocent civilians, including two Reuters journalists, by US soldiers in Iraq in the July 2007 attack of Baghdad. The video is shot from a US helicopter, and the soldiers are laughing while shooting at the people on the ground, as though it is a computer game. When a van drives up to pick up the wounded and the dead, the soldiers laugh and continue to shoot, gravely wounding two children in the van. Before WikiLeaks released the video, Reuters had been trying to obtain the footage under the Freedom of Information Act, but the US military refused to release it, claiming that the journalists were killed in crossfire between the army and militants.


      MG What led you to get involved in Julian Assange’s prosecution? BJ Having grown up under a dictatorship in Nicaragua, I am very sensitive to any attempts to weaken our democracies. Although I do not agree with everything WikiLeaks has done, I feel compelled to defend freedom of speech, freedom of the press and due process. I have voiced my support for Julian Assange because I suspect that what is on trial here is not just him, but freedom of speech itself. I fear that Mr. Assange is being punished for releasing information that reveals the misuse of power by the US and other governments. He is on trial for holding governments to account.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • Study Finds Oil Palm Certification Plays Limited Role in Curbing Fires
      Oil palm is in everything. From food to cosmetics to fuel, oil palm plays an integral role in our lives as the most popular and versatile vegetable oil product on the market. It is consumed and used by most people without giving it a second thought. Yet, oil palm cultivation is a large contributor to environmental and social problems, especially in places like Indonesia, where the business of oil palm cultivation has become the second largest export over the last decade.

      Oil palm agriculture comes with other problems as well, including malpractice issues such as oil plantations not consulting local communities before using land, people being displaced, and unsafe working conditions. Better regulation for the palm oil industry could help promote sustainable oil palm and agricultural practices. The Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil is currently the only organization able to certify that palm oil has been harvested and prepared in a sustainable manner.

    • WWF and Greenpeace break with Indonesia's pulp and paper giant

      The construction of a 3km canal in Indonesia has led Greenpeace and WWF to suspend its partnership with one of Indonesia’s biggest pulp and paper companies.

      Riau Andalan Pulp and Paper (Rapp), a subsidiary of Asia Pacific Resources International Limited (April), dug the canal through thick peat forest on the island of Pedang, just off the east coast of Sumatra.

      In doing so, April not only flouted its own sustainability standards but went against government regulations and a letter of instruction issued by the Ministry of Environment and Forestry last year asking companies to block existing canals.

    • The Oil Mystery Behind Saudi Arabia’s Production Cut
      Saudi Arabia surprised the world by helping to engineer an unexpectedly strong agreement from OPEC members to cut production by 1.2 million barrels per day, followed by additional cuts from non-OPEC members. While the two agreements incorporate cuts from a wide range of oil producers, Saudi Arabia will do much of the heavy lifting, cutting nearly 500,000 barrels per day and even promising to go further than that should the markets warrant steeper reductions.

    • We Need to Accept That Oil Is a Dying Industry
      The future is not good for oil, no matter which way you look at it.

      A new OPEC deal designed to return the global oil industry to profitability will fail to prevent its ongoing march toward trillion dollar debt defaults, according to a new report published by a Washington group of senior global banking executives.

      But the report also warns that the rise of renewable energy and climate policy agreements will rapidly make oil obsolete, whatever OPEC does in efforts to prolong its market share.

      The six-month supply deal brokered with non-OPEC members, including Russia, could slash global oil stockpiles by 139 million barrels. The move is a transparent effort to kick prices back up in a weakening oil market where low prices have led industry profits to haemorrhage.

      The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), whose members include major producers from Saudi Arabia to Venezuela, have been hit particularly badly by the weak oil market. In 2014, OPEC had a collective surplus of $238 billion. By 2015, as prices continued to plummet, so did profits, and OPEC faced a deficit of $100 billion.

    • World Energy Hits a Turning Point: Solar That's Cheaper Than Wind
      A transformation is happening in global energy markets that’s worth noting as 2016 comes to an end: Solar power, for the first time, is becoming the cheapest form of new electricity.

      This has happened in isolated projects in the past: an especially competitive auction in the Middle East, for example, resulting in record-cheap solar costs. But now unsubsidized solar is beginning to outcompete coal and natural gas on a larger scale, and notably, new solar projects in emerging markets are costing less to build than wind projects, according to fresh data from Bloomberg New Energy Finance.

      The chart below shows the average cost of new wind and solar from 58 emerging-market economies, including China, India, and Brazil. While solar was bound to fall below wind eventually, given its steeper price declines, few predicted it would happen this soon.

    • High Tide Bulletin: Winter 2016
      When you may experience higher than normal tides from December 2016 through February 2017.

    • Please Write to Your MPs Asking Them To Support Fossil Fuel Divestment
      We must do everything in our power to accelerate that move away from fossil fuels. Once the business world gets the message that investing in fossil fuels is not just a bad idea, but potentially disastrous, the shift to renewable energy will happen rapidly, regardless of what Trump does.

      Here in the UK, there's an opportunity to encourage a key group of decision makers to tell their pension fund to divest from fossil fuels: MPs. In fact, there's an entire campaign to encourage them. If you are a UK citizen, I would like to urge you to contact your MP asking them to support this campaign.

    • Oil company withdraws application for New Mexico pipeline
      The Bureau of Land Management says an oil company with plans to build a pipeline in New Mexico capable of moving 50,000 barrels of crude oil a day has withdrawn its application for the project.

  • Finance

    • The Inside Story of Apple's $14 Billion Tax Bill
      “The Maxforce” is the European Union team that ordered Ireland to collect billions of euros in back taxes from Apple Inc., rattled the Irish government, and spurred changes to international tax law. You’d think it might have earned the name by applying maximum force while investigating alleged financial shenanigans. It didn’t. It’s just led by a guy named Max.

      A European Commission official gave the nickname to the Task Force on Tax Planning Practices in honor of its chief, Max Lienemeyer, a lanky, laid-back German attorney who rose to prominence vetting plans to shore up struggling banks during Europe’s debt crisis. Since its launch in 2013, the Maxforce has looked at the tax status of hundreds of companies across Europe, including a deal Starbucks Corp. had in the Netherlands, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV's agreement with Luxembourg, and -- its largest case -- Apple in Ireland.

    • ‘For Whites, Fewer Jobs’: NYT Chart Divides and Deceives

      Eduardo Porter used his column (New York Times, 12/13/16) to point out that Donald Trump got support from many whites who felt that they were being left behind. While there is evidence to support this view, one item in the piece may have misled readers.

      The column includes a table showing the change in employment since the start of the recession for white, African-Americans, Hispanics and Asian-Americans. While the latter three groups all had increases in employment of at least 2 million, employment for whites fell by almost 1 million.

      This can be misleading, since the main reason for the difference is that the number of working-age whites actually fell during this period, while the number of working-age people in these other groups rose. The Census Bureau reported that there were 125.2 million non-Hispanic whites between the ages of 18 and 64 in 2010. In 2015, this number was down to 122.9 million.

    • Daily Kos Founder Gleefully Celebrates Coal Miners Losing Health Insurance
      Daily Kos publisher and Vox Media co-founder Markos “Kos” Moulitsas, an influential voice in liberal politics, published a blog post (Daily Kos, 12/12/16) that captures just how terribly leading Democratic pundits are taking Hillary Clinton’s unexpected defeat. In the wake of this loss, some of the more hardcore Clinton partisans have chosen, in lieu of self-examination and internal criticism, to simply lash out at the voters they failed to win over.


      Missing from this equation is that US democracy, and working people’s relationship to it, are not pristine and incorruptible. The influence of money in politics, especially post–Citizens United, is tremendous. As The Intercept’s Lee Fang warned nine months before the election, the billionaire Koch brothers have spent years working from the grassroots up to turn the Rust Belt red.

      Billionaire-backed Rust Belt Republican governors, as The Atlantic notes, worked for decades to undermine the Democratic Party’s primary voter turnout mechanism—unions. In addition to their evergreen exploitation of white racism, billionaire-backed Fox News fed voters misleading stories about Clinton wanting to “put coal miners out of work.” (Clinton announcing at a West Virginia town meeting, “We’re going to put a lot of coal miners and coal companies out of business,” didn’t help.)

    • NPR Guest Warns Against Living Wages With Fantasies of $16 Apples
      To comment on Donald Trump’s naming retired Marine Gen. John Kelly as his Department of Homeland Security secretary, NPR‘s Morning Edition (12/9/16) brought on George W. Bush’s Homeland Security chief, Michael Chertoff.

      A more independent observer might have brought up Kelly’s oversight of the US’s Guantánamo internment camp, where he has defended the force-feeding of hunger-strikers, a procedure condemned by human rights groups as torture.

    • Fast Food Automation, an Old Idea, Gets New Life to Bash Fight for 15

      But there’s no reason to think these experiments wouldn’t have happened without Fight for 15. Indeed, as mentioned above, these announcements predate Fight for 15, and have been “announced” in some form or another several times.

      Does this mean McDonald’s isn’t rolling out kiosk technology in earnest? Of course not; corporations are always looking for new technologies to reduce labor costs. But would this roll-out somehow not occur if workers struggling to stay above the poverty line hadn’t taken to the streets to demand a living wage? Predictably, this is not a question Lee feels a need to explore, much less answer.

    • Demonetisation, Indian state and world
      I dunno if people heard or didn’t hear about the demonetisation of INR 500 and INR 1000 which happened in India on 8th November 2016 with new currency designed in India of INR 2000 and INR 500.


      Each of these theories/myths/facts has been contested. Every day we are seeing and reading reports of people being caught with new currency in absurd numbers while RBI , our central bank and Lender of Last Resort has had to play multiple roles such as policing along with the country’s Income Tax Department as well as pumping in new notes of the NEW INR 2000/- and INR 500/- into ATM’s and Bank branches around the country.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Detroit to get new voting machines as city clerk blames state, human error
      Five weeks after a national scandal involving broken Detroit voting machines and ineffective poll workers, state Elections Director Chris Thomas said Wednesday evening that the city will get all new voting machines in time for the 2017 mayoral and City Council elections.

      But broken machines were not the biggest problem Detroit endured election night. Citing a memo he just received, Thomas said there were dozens of other problems that occurred Nov. 8.

      “I got an e-mail yesterday from Wayne County showing me what the issues were on (Detroit) polling places and precincts, and quite frankly, it was somewhat shocking,” he said.

    • Supervisor says some Detroit poll workers not capable of doing the job
      Janice Winfrey should have called a news conference last January and said Detroit could not run its 2016 elections effectively without people stepping up to replace aging, incapable poll workers.

      Had she done that, the Detroit city clerk, who was widely praised for transforming the department when she ousted former Clerk Jackie Currie in 2005, would not be facing a firestorm of criticism over mishandled voter ballots and malfunctioning machines.

      She also wouldn’t have had some precincts where capable veterans worked alongside some people who could not read, weren’t properly trained, weren’t mobile and didn’t know how to use new electronic polling books that long ago replaced paper sheets, one veteran polling supervisor who has worked the polls for 30 years asserted Thursday.

    • Coup: North Carolina Republicans convene a special session to strip incoming Democratic governor of executive powers
      Thomas writes, "Shortly after closing a post-election special session to fund relief for counties afflicted by flooding from Hurricane Matthew or mountain wildfires, North Carolina GOP legislative leaders announced a second special session to begin the same day with an open agenda. The docket was filled with 21 House bills, some of which stripped Democratic Governor Elect Roy Cooper of substantial control over the executive branch. This is a coup attempt, an effort to undermine the results of a highly scrutinized election."

    • Special Session Part II: "This Is as Serious as It Gets in North Carolina"
      The House and Senate convened for the second special session of the day, and the fourth of the year, at 2 p.m. The House rules set a filing deadline of 7 p.m. for new bills to be filed (later amended to 7:30), while the Senate set a deadline of 3 p.m.

      Here is the running list of bills filed. They include: a dog breeding bills, a bunch of education bills, a (very good) anti-racial profiling bill, and a few bills taking aim at the controversial I-77 toll.

      Here's a big one: HB 17 requires Senate confirmation of Cooper cabinet appointees, among other UNC-related issues.

    • My Priorities for the Next Four Years

      Like many, I was surprised and shocked by the election of Donald Trump as president. I believe his ideas, temperament, and inexperience represent a grave threat to our country and world. Suddenly, all the things I had planned to work on seemed trivial in comparison. Although Internet security and privacy are not the most important policy areas at risk, I believe he -- and, more importantly, his cabinet, administration, and Congress -- will have devastating effects in that area, both in the US and around the world.

    • Trump adviser says science gets “a lot of things wrong”
      The term “anti-science” gets thrown around too loosely. Even though people are generally not opposed to the institution of science, most of us will stick to the positions of our cultural team when politics rub up against science. While science may be an effort to objectively evaluate the workings of the cosmos, human behavior is not.

      Some arguments, however, come pretty close to a general antipathy toward science. On Wednesday, Trump transition team advisor Anthony Scaramucci made one of those arguments in a CNN appearance.

      Scaramucci runs an investment firm, hosts Fox Business News’ “Wall Street Week” program, and has written books like The Little Book of Hedge Funds: What You Need to Know About Hedge Funds but the Managers Won’t Tell You. He is part of the Executive Committee for President-elect Trump’s transition—a group that includes Peter Thiel and Trump’s children, among others.

    • Electors won’t get intelligence briefing: report
      Voters in the Electoral College will not receive an intelligence briefing about Russian meddling in the U.S. presidential election, according to a new report.

      Sources told NPR the electors would not receive any national intelligence before they cast ballots this Monday.

      Fifty-four of the 232 Democratic electors had signed a letter asking for a briefing before the Electoral College’s vote, according to reports.

      The letter asked Director of National Intelligence James Clapper for information on what role, if any, Russia had in helping elect Donald Trump.

    • FBI and CIA now agree that Russia hacked to help Trump win [Ed: they don’t need evidence, only agenda]

    • Washington Post automatically inserts Trump fact-checks into Twitter
      In an apparent first for any American news outlet, the Washington Post released a Chrome plug-in on Friday designed to fact-check posts from a single Twitter account. Can you guess which one?

      The new "RealDonaldContext" plug-in for the Google Chrome browser, released by WaPo reporter Philip Bump, adds fact-check summaries to selected posts by President-elect Donald Trump. Users will need to click a post in The Donald's Twitter feed to see any fact-check information from the Washington Post, which appears as a gray text box beneath the tweet.

    • {Older] Foreign Donors Begin Pulling Out From Clinton Foundation
      Clinton Foundation scandals emerged as a major blow to Hillary Clinton’s campaign this past election, as emails released by WikiLeaks and from FOIA requests revealed pay-to-play schemes and overt conflicts of interest between the Foundation and Clinton’s State Department. Though the Clintons and their supporters staunchly defended the Foundation, pointing to the charitable work it produced to defend any criticisms, such claims of corruption were proven correct.

    • Detroit vote: 95 poll books late, 5 still missing
      Detroit's election paperwork was in such disarray that the Wayne County Board of Canvassers almost missed its two-week deadline to certify the presidential election.

      Ninty-five poll books, lists of people who cast ballots, were delivered late to the board. Five of those precincts never did turn in a poll book, according to a memo from the Wayne County Clerk's Office to state election officials.

      "We had to delay the start of the meeting," said Krista Hartounian, chairwoman of the Board of Canvassers. "Staff was still working as we called the meeting to order."

    • You Opened the Box…
      Attempts to overturn the results of our election, or to delegitimize a president before he even takes office, are attempts to overturn the system of transfer of power that has served America since its earliest days. There is no measure of exaggeration here; Americans are questioning the results of the election because roughly half don’t like the guy who won.

      Somehow things are… special this year. In most elections, a good-sized group of us see our candidate lose, grumble, and move on to some degree. I don’t think Trump will be a good president, but I also do not think he will burn civil rights to the ground, destroy life on the planet, sell Alaska back to Russia, or invade China with Omarosa some drunk weekend.

    • NYT’s False Choice for Democrats: Move to the Right or Divide by Race
      So what are the two sides of this debate heatedly suggesting we do? On the one hand, we have Democrats who say the party has to focus on “winning back white voters of modest means.” How do you do that? “Focusing more on rural America,” says Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “Be more open to pursuing moderate and conservative voters,” suggests Rep. Gwen Graham (D.-Fla.). Not “ceding too much territory to Republicans in whiter, more conservative areas,” say “some Democrats”—exemplified by Labor Secretary Thomas Perez, who notes that “we got our ass kicked in a lot of these rural pockets.”

      Vice President Joe Biden is said to be in camp that wants Democrats to do more “to reach white working-class voters,” telling CNN (12/11/16): “I mean, these are good people, man! These aren’t racists. These aren’t sexists.”

      On the other hand, you have Democrats who argue that “the party must tailor a platform and strategy that explicitly appealed to younger and nonwhite voters on issues like policing, climate change and immigration.” Pollster Cornell Belcher says “this mythical unicorn white swing voter” is “a shrinking, increasingly resistant market.” “Demographically, the Electoral College is heading in the right direction,” insists former Obama adviser Dan Pfeiffer.

      So a strategy that goes after rural, whiter, more conservative voters—presumably by being more conservative—vs. a strategy of counting on demographics to deliver victory to a party focused on social and environmental issues.

    • The Electoral College: A Civics Lesson
      We have and have had for 224 years an Electoral College system. The popular vote is not and has never been how we elect a president.

      This is the 6th time in U.S. history the candidate chosen has lost the popular vote, nothing new. The country has muddled on, with some of those presidents being better than others.

      In addition, because of the electoral college system, candidates campaign for electoral votes, not the popular vote. That is the basis for their strategizing how to allot their limited time and resources.

      So, for example, knowing he had little chance to win Democratic strongholds California and New York, Trump did not campaign extensively there even though they are big states. That’s how Clinton won the popular vote, because her campaign aimed at those (big) states where she thought she would win the electoral vote. The size of the popular vote garnered is more a reflection of the way the system works than it is a gauge of popularity.

    • Pirate Party UK now hosts two councillors
      Pirate Party UK now hosts two councillors. Kev Young, an Independent councillor on the Parton Parish council in Cumbria has joined the Pirate Party UK and was successful in being immediately co-opted back on to the council after standing down.

    • Venezuela Brings Toys to Poor Kids, Gets Called ‘Grinch’ on CNN

      Turning facts on their head, CNN transformed the Venezuelan government’s act of helping the poor into the complete opposite.

      In the article “Venezuelan President Called a ‘Grinch’ After Government Toy Seizure” (12/11/16), CNN reporters Rafael Romo and Jorge Luis Pérez liken President Nicolás Maduro to a dastardly Grinch who is stealing toys from under children’s Christmas trees — while he is doing precisely the contrary.

      On Sunday, December 11, the Venezuelan government confiscated nearly 4 million toys from the country’s largest toy company. Venezuela’s consumer protection agency said the company was hoarding the toys and planning to sell them at inflated prices in order to maximize profits during the Christmas season. The head of the consumer protection agency charged that executives at the toy company, Kreisel-Venezuela, “don’t care about our children’s right to have a merry Christmas.”

    • Rather Than Exposing Propaganda, WaPo Shows How It’s Done
      As the Hillary Clinton campaign slogged toward victory in the long primary campaign against Sen. Bernie Sanders, word came from WikiLeaks that it had scored a trove of hacked emails to and from the Democratic National Committee. Among other things, they proved that DNC chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz and Clinton campaign chair John Podesta, along with their organizations, had been working hand-in-glove to skew the primaries in Clinton’s favor.

      The day before the party’s convention opened in Philadelphia on July 24, Wasserman-Schultz had to resign her post or face a floor revolt. Sanders delegates were so angry at what they were learning from WikiLeaks about the sabotage of their candidate that hundreds walked out on the second day of the convention, tossing away their delegate credentials over the security fence and vowing never to support Clinton.

      In short order, the DNC and the Obama administration-led intelligence establishment began claiming, with no hard evidence, that the source of WikiLeaks’ explosive emails was “the Russians.” While denied by WikiLeaks, it was a charge that Clinton made ad nauseum on the campaign trail and in her three televised debates with Trump, using it as an all-purpose excuse for tough questions about her self-dealing as secretary of State, her lucrative off-the-record speeches to Wall Street bankers, or the DNC’s thumb on the scale in the primaries.

    • Credibility Tips for Journalists
      The working journalists of America sh*t the bed with their election coverage this year.

      For the most part, the media as a whole fetishized the Clinton candidacy (first woman ever! most experienced candidate ever! dynasty!) and treated Trump as an oaf when they weren’t calling him Hitler and parading any person who wished to accuse him of something before the cameras. That pattern continues now, though the accusations have changed from sexual harassment to near-treason on behalf of Putin.

      Alongside this circus were scum stories on all facets of the campaign attributed to… no one. “Sources close to the campaign said,” or “Officials who could not be identified” and so forth. It almost gave the impression reporters were just making stuff up. Alongside that were many media outlets that simply reprinted others’ stories, so that a piece of journalistic garbage flew around the Internet without anyone asking any questions or verifying the contents.

    • Campuses Don’t Need Affirmative Action for Trumpism
      Nicholas Kristof comes off as a decent man, self-effacing, earnest. But when he’s not engaging in high-brow poverty tourism, or calling for the US to bomb Libya and Syria in the name of saving lives, he’s browbeating the excesses of perceived liberal bias on college campuses, pushing back against what he views as “liberal intolerance” in academia.

      His latest iteration, “The Dangers of Echo Chambers on Campus” (New York Times, 12/10/16), dropped on Sunday and, like the version from last May (New York Times, 5/28/16), it evoked the specter of political correctness run amok...
    • Trump and Social Media: Welcome to the New World

      The latest online thrust by Trump has been a series of tweets directed personally against a reporter who said the president-elect claimed without evidence his popular vote total suffered because of extensive voter fraud. Jeff Zeleny, CNN’s chief Washington correspondent, said Trump was a “sore winner,” adding the president-elect had “zero evidence” to back his claim he won the popular vote. Commentators agreed with Zeleny, saying Trump’s ego couldn’t accept the insult of losing the popular vote.

      Trump responded with a series of tweets and retweets condemning Zeleny. All of the tweets saw “likes” in the tens of thousands, and endless websites excerpted and embedded them out to an even larger audience. Just another episode in the Trump reality show, right?
    • Hypocrisy of Russia-Did-It Stories Is Hard to Stomach

      It is, of course, worth knowing what involvement any other country might have had in the US election, but elite media’s consumption with the Russia-did-it storyline so far is discouraging to say the least.

      The Intercept‘s Sam Biddle (12/14/16) has a breakdown of what public evidence there is that Russia was behind hacks of DNC email accounts. He concludes that while it’s plausible that Russians or even Russia was involved, it’s a very long way from proven, different agencies dispute it, all the sources we’re reading are anonymous and the assessments themselves are secret.
    • Michael Moore: NC offers 'a coming attraction' of how GOP will govern
      Liberal filmmaker Michael Moore says this week's power grab by North Carolina Republicans is a preview of how the GOP will exercise power nationally in the coming weeks.

      In an interview with MSNBC’s “All in with Chris Hayes” on Friday night, Moore said the developments in North Carolina demonstrate that the GOP no longer feels restrained by longstanding political customs.

      “It’s a good coming attraction to how the Republicans are going to use power in the next — not few years — few weeks and months,” he said.
    • Trump Chooses Hard-Liner as Ambassador to Israel
      President-elect Donald J. Trump on Thursday named David M. Friedman, a bankruptcy lawyer aligned with the Israeli far right, as his nominee for ambassador to Israel, elevating a campaign adviser who has questioned the need for a two-state solution and has likened left-leaning Jews in America to the Jews who aided the Nazis in the Holocaust.

      Mr. Friedman, whose outspoken views stand in stark contrast to decades of American policy toward Israel, did not wait long on Thursday to signal his intention to upend the American approach. In a statement from the Trump transition team announcing his nomination, he said he looked forward to doing the job “from the U.S. embassy in Israel’s eternal capital, Jerusalem.”

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • Will Europe stand for freedom or submission? Ask Wilders
      The writer, an Italian journalist with Il Foglio, writes a twice-weekly column for Arutz Sheva. He is the author of the book "A New Shoah", that researched the personal stories of Israel's terror victims, published by Encounter and of "J'Accuse: the Vatican Against Israel" published by Mantua Books.. His writing has appeared in publications, such as the Wall Street Journal, Frontpage and Commentary. More from the author â–º

      The lowest point in Geert Wilders’ life in hiding was when he was forced to live in a state prison, the Zeist, after the killing of Theo van Gogh. Wilders lost his freedom and since then, for ten years, he lives under police protection 24/7. Wilders could go to a restaurant with his wife, but the police would check it first. When they go to the cinema, they enter through the back door. Now a Dutch court has found him guilty of “discrimination” for having called to close the Netherlands to Muslim migrants.


      If he had criticized Christianity or Judaism, they would not have banned him in the UK.

    • Clinton mega donor George Soros leads line-up of liberal billionaires who are funding Facebook's fake news fact checker
      Billionaire Clinton donor George Soros is among a line-up of wealthy liberal figures who will fund Facebook's fake news fact checker.

      The 86-year-old Hungarian financier's Open Society Foundation is listed among organizations which are backing The International Fact Checking Network, the body tasked with flagging bogus news stories to social media users, on its website.

      Soros, a staunch Democrat who tried to block George W. Bush's campaign in 2004, has given $25million to Clinton and causes dear to her.

      Other donors involved in the new fact checking feature include eBay founder Pierre Omidyar who has committed more than $30million to the Clintons and their charities.
    • Facebook Announces Its Pilot Plans To 'Deal' With Fake News -- Not With Censorship, But With More Info
      Facebook is now taking clear steps to try to address what some are calling its "fake news" problem. As someone who has argued that the fuss over this is massively overhyped and misleading, I actually find Facebook's steps here to be fairly sensible, and not a cause for concern -- but let's dig into the details.

      We've made it clear that we think that people freaking out about fake news on Facebook are overreacting, when they try to "blame" the results of the election, or even how people feel about certain candidates on Facebook. And, we've also warned that the end result of much of the complaining is inevitable calls for censorship, which is dangerous. In fact, we've already seen that both China and Iran are using the hubbub over "fake news" to justify their own draconian censorship and surveillance efforts.

      But, that doesn't mean that Facebook should do nothing about it. "Fake news" is unlikely to be influencing the election, but that doesn't mean it's not a nuisance -- though, if we're going to talk about "fake news" at the very least we should divide it into more accurate subgroupings: there's outright made up false news, there's propaganda (those first two can overlap, admittedly), there's erroneous (but well-intentioned) reporting and then there's actually good reporting that people dislike. That last one some may argue is not fake news, but trust me when I say that some people are using this "fake news" storm to lump in those kinds of articles too -- which does a good job of showing why the label "fake news" is a real risk of being abused for censorship.

    • Western countries cling on to censorship to save 'democracy'
      Some Western leaders, alongside their media allies, take a peculiar approach toward free speech and democracy, one seemingly predicated on how these reconcile with their own foreign policy objectives and who is affected - friend or foe.We see how the US and its allies avoid criticising the Saudi regime’s lack of democracy and free speech, alongside what is arguably the worst human rights record of any nation in the 21st century. Saudi Arabia’s leaders also escape judgement for their role in permitting the spread of the reactionary Wahhabi/Salafist doctrine that forms the bedrock of Jihadi terror.

    • Support grows for fight to reverse censorship of ‘Militant’ at Attica
      More than one month after the Militant appealed the impoundment of its Oct. 3 issue by Attica prison authorities, the New York State Department of Corrections has still not responded. Attica officials banned a second issue, the Oct. 31 Militant, claiming that allowing an article reporting on the appeal to get into the prison “could incite disobedience.”

      The Militant subscriber, Jalil Muntaqim (formerly Anthony Bottom), has faced other arbitrary acts of censorship and violation of his constitutional rights by Attica prison authorities.

      Last year Attica officials banned four books sent to him, including one of poems that he wrote, and have been interfering with his mail.

    • Professor Watch List: A Racist Violation of Free Speech
      Turning Point USA is biased against black faculty and freedom of speech. Turning Point is 501(c)3 non-profit organization founded on June 5, 2012. They sponsor Professor Watch List a website meant to expose and document college professors who allegedly discriminate against conservative students and advance leftist propaganda in the classroom. Listed on this watch list are 147 US college professors who have supposedly expressed leftist perspectives. Turning Point accept tips for new additions to the Professor Watch List, but claims to only publish profiles on incidents that have already been reported somewhere else.

    • Twitter and Facebook Censorship and Mainstream Media Denial
      I had never heard of ghost banning until I was ghost banned by twitter. That of course is the idea – they censor you without realising you are censored. People no longer get notifications when I post, and the tweet only turns up in the twitter line of followers who happen to be logged in at the time my tweet goes out. Those logging in later will no longer see tweets I issued while they were away. Most of my tweets no longer show up on twitter searches, and further restrictions are applied when people retweet my tweets.

      Since ghost banning, traffic to this website from twitter has fallen 90%.

      As twitter do not inform you that you have been ghost banned, it is hard to know exactly what prompted it, but I believe it immediately followed this tweet.

    • A brief history of film censorship in Egypt
      In 1986, a police officer filed a case to demand the ban of the film Lil-hub Qissa Ukhra (Love Has Another Story, by Raafat al-Mihi), because he believed a sex scene it contained showed actual intercourse and not just acting. Actors Yahia al-Fakharany and Maaly Zayed were interrogated by the vice crimes prosecution, as was Mihi, but they were all released. The officer had probably been troubled as an adolescent by a difficult existential question: are kisses in films real or simulations? The conviction that all kisses must be real saved him from an existential labyrinth. And it seems that he wasn’t the only troubled mind: the prosecution, which followed up on the case, shared his conviction. Indeed, so do all censorship officials in Egypt.

    • UK's Ridiculous Internet Porn Crackdown Can Be Used To Kill Social Media Accounts
      Last month, the UK moved forward with the latest version of its ridiculous "Digital Economy Bill" which will put in place mandatory porn filtering at the ISP level -- requiring service providers to block access to sites that don't do an age verification check. But it was at least somewhat vague as to which "ISPs" this covered. The bill has moved from the House of Commons over to the House of Lords, and apparently we now have at least something of an answer -- and it's that social media sites like Twitter and Facebook will be covered by this regulation.

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • The importance of cryptography for the digital society
      Following the Council meeting on 8th and 9th December 2016 in Brussels, ENISA’s paper gives an overview into aspects around the current debate on encryption, while highlighting the Agency’s key messages and views on the topic.
    • Berlin whistleblower behind German-NSA secret data leak, not Russian hackers – sources
      Russian hackers are not the source behind the recent WikiLeaks release of leaked secret data on German-US intelligence cooperation and a parliamentary inquiry into it, Der Spiegel reports, citing unnamed security officials who have indicated it’s an inside job.

    • Letters: tech companies must take responsibility for algorithms
      Carole Cadwalladr is absolutely right to highlight how Google’s autocomplete and algorithmic search results can reinforce hate speech and stereotypes (“Google is not ‘just’ a platform”, Comment).

      But she is less right to claim I tried to absolve Google of responsibility by tweeting: “I’m sure @google will argue they aren’t responsible for the results” in support. What I actually tweeted was that plus – “but they reap advertising revenue from the search. Is that ethical?”

      Google and others argue their results are a mirror to society, not their responsibility. As a chartered engineer, I strongly agree with Ms Cadwalladr that companies such as Google, Facebook and Uber need to take responsibility for the unintended consequences of the algorithms and machine learning that drive their profits. They can bring huge benefits and great apps but we need a tech-savvy government to minimise the downside by opening up algorithms to regulation as well as legislating for greater consumer ownership of data and control of the advertising revenue it generates.
    • Live by the Cloud, Die by the Cloud 1
      Longtime readers know that I’m not a fan of most cloudy services. Not just about the privacy sucking aspects, but also about the inability to control your own data.

      This week, we’ve seen two huge cloud providers do dumb things. Dropbox disabled public folders. Seems they didn’t like people transferring files? I dunno. The other was a change in ToS for Evernote. They wanted to clarify that their people could read your notes. Gee – put stuff on someone else’s server and wonder if they can read it? Duh.

      Remember Google Reader? They weren’t able to make money off it, so after years of happy users, they shut it down.

      I’m not including links for these things because I’ve learned those will disappear quickly.

    • FBI, NSA staff among Yahoo hack victims: Report
      The personal data stolen from one billion accounts run by US internet giant Yahoo in 2013 included personal data belonging to the employees of government agencies like the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the National Security Agency (NSA).

      The data also included sensitive information like phone numbers, passwords, security questions and backup email addresses of White House officials as well as some British authorities, the CNN reported Friday, citing Andrew Komarov, chief intelligence officer at InfoArmor.
    • ‘Furious’ German spies frozen out by UK intelligence after ‘leaking to WikiLeaks’
      German requests for Britain to release details of the secret operations to a committee investigating the NSA’s activities were refused, in part because the UK fears a debate in the Reichstag that would publicise the country’s spycraft.

      The Daily Mail reports there are claims in Germany that a tranche of 500,000 sides of files published by WikiLeaks this month were secret GCHQ documents on covert cell phone policy for British spies from 2010.

    • Anti-Snowden NSA official could lose job for hypocritical retaliation against another whistleblower
      An NSA inspector general who strongly criticised Edward Snowden in 2014 for not coming to him with his concerns about NSA's domestic eavesdropping practices is facing termination for having retaliated at another whistleblower who followed protocol.

      Dr George Ellard, a Yale-trained lawyer and former prosecutor, was tasked with overseeing the NSA for nine years.

      During a panel discussion at Georgetown University Law Center in Washington in 2014, Ellard argued if Snowden had come to him with his concerns – instead of leaking thousands of classified documents – he would have received the same protections as other NSA employees. The NSA has a special complaints hotline which receives about a thousand reports annually from employees.
    • Your wearable-tracked health data is for sale, according to a new study
      If you sport a Fitbit or Apple Watch on the regular, you probably love the health insights you get from your wearable. You know how much you move, how well you sleep and have likely started tracking patterns and trends as soon as you have enough time logged.

      But you're not alone. There are tons of advertisers and big pharma companies interested in your personal health data almost as much as you are — and, according to researchers, they can get it almost as easily as you can.

    • Hello, this is 33C3 „works for me“

      Feeling isolated and threatened, we turn further against each other, take less care of each other and worry even more about ourselves. And yet, we are never alone: Excessive surveillance is now politically normalized, if not for all then at least for those who are different, intractable, foreign.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Cops shoot and kill someone about 1,000 times a year. Few are prosecuted. What can be done?
      Millions of people have seen the video from North Charleston, S.C. Walter Scott was running away from police Officer Michael Slager when the officer shot him in the back, killing him instantly. Yet after watching the video many times, a jury was unable to reach a verdict in the officer’s recent murder trial. This is a story that has become all too familiar.

      I’ve been keeping track of these incidents, and my best estimate is that on-duty police officers across the country shoot and kill someone about 1,000 times each year. Almost all the cases end with a determination by a prosecutor that the police shooting was legally justified. Since 2005, only 78 police officers across the country have been charged with murder or manslaughter resulting from an on-duty shooting. To date, just 26 of those officers have been convicted of manslaughter or a lesser offense, and only one was convicted of murder. (It was an extraordinary situation: James Ashby, a police officer in Rocky Ford, Colo., saw a man skateboarding on a highway, followed the man into his home, shot him in the back in front of his mother, and then pepper-sprayed him as he lay dying. Ashby was convicted of second-degree murder.)

    • Tunisian child rapist who impregnated his cousin is ordered to MARRY her by judge
      The 20-year-old depraved sex fiend, from Tunisia, was not given a custodial sentence by the judge, who instead decided the best course of action would be to trap the tragic victim with her attacker forever.

      The judge justified his decision by claiming it complies with Article 227 of a law initiated in 1958 which states a man who rapes a child younger than 15 will receive either six years in prison or "may resort to marrying her to commute the sentence".

      He said the girl as "mature enough" to have consented to sexual intercourse with her cousin.

    • Victim Shaming, Yasmin Seweid, and the Critical Need for Skepticism in a Volatile Time
      Police now say Yasmin made the whole thing up. Everyone who wrote hate mail to me and posted hateful things on my Twitter and Facebook can apologize now.

    • Ilhan Omar’s Hate Crime

      The pattern is near-identical: a Muslim woman who has very publicly made defeating Islamophobia part of her political work suffers a hate crime after Trump’s election.

      She reports the crime only through the media, who sends what she says viral without asking any critical questions, despite some issues that might be worth questioning. The story is added to the tally of such crimes, as another example of what people want to believe.

      At issue? If a hate crime is real, it must be prosecuted publicly and aggressively. We live in a vulnerable, volatile time. Anyone who would commit a hate crime needs, within the law, to be made an example of, lest the next one be the spark that starts a larger fire. At the same time, if a hate crime did not occur, that too must be prosecuted fully. Every false or exaggerated report adds to the arsenal of false reports that negate real reports.

    • Obama Loses His War on Whistleblowers
      Obama has waged a vicious War on Whistleblowers, the details of which are insufficiently known to the public. High level security officials, true American patriots like Thomas Drake and John Kiriakou have been handcuffed, dragged through the courts and jailed. William Binney had guns pointed at himself and his wife in their home. Chelsea Manning endures constant persecution and humiliation which meets the bar of cruel and degrading punishment. Edward Snowden pines in exile. These are just the highest profile examples. Hillary Clinton was the driving force behind Obama’s hard line attacks on whistleblowers.

      Under Obama, whistleblowers face a total of 751 months behind bars — compared to 24 months for all other whistleblowers combined since the American Revolution. The protection of free speech and truth-telling has been wrenched away under Obama.

      I am proud to be a whistleblower myself, and like Drake, Kiriakou, Binney, Manning and Snowden a recipient of the annual Sam Adams award. We have another recipient – Julian Assange – who is a most useful ally indeed.

      Whistleblowers seemed a soft target. Indeed seven years into his Presidency Obama seemed to be winning the War on Whistleblowers hands down, leaving them serving time or marginalised and cast out from society.

    • Opposing Apartheid, or When I Was Clever
      If you live long enough, your past catches up with you and this year for the first time highly classified papers I wrote in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office are starting to be released under the 30 year declassification rule.

      My first FCO job was in the South Africa Section as the South Africa (political) officer, at a time when Apartheid was in full sway in South Africa. It was the official policy of Her Majesty’s Government to oppose international sanctions efforts, and the Thatcher government’s official line was that Mandela was a terrorist properly in jail after a fair trial. There was a huge tension between the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and 10 Downing Street.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Copyrights

      • Australia’s Pirate Site Blockade Boosts Demand For VPNs

        The Pirate Bay and other sites must be blocked by local Internet providers, an Australian court ruled this week. While the measures have yet to be implemented, many pirates are already trying to find ways around them. Data from Google shows a big surge in "VPN" searches and VPN services also report a significant increase in Aussie interest.

      • The Music Industry Shouldn't Be Able To Cut Off Your Internet Access
        EFF, Public Knowledge, and the Center for Democracy and Technology Urge The United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit to Protect Internet Subscribers in BMG v. Cox.

        No one should have to fear losing their internet connection because of unfounded accusations. But some rights holders want to use copyright law to force your Internet service provider (ISP) to cut off your access whenever they say so, and in a case the Washington Post called “the copyright case that should worry all Internet providers,” they’re hoping the courts will help them.

      • Fair Use Is Essential to a Free Press

        When copyright law and the First Amendment come into conflict, the First Amendment must win. The fair use doctrine—the idea that there are certain ways that you can use a piece of copyrighted work regardless of whether you have the rightsholder’s permission—was written into copyright law to help ensure that copyright holders’ wishes are never elevated above free speech. As such, it’s been an essential tool for defending a free press: without fair use protections, people and companies in the public eye could use copyright law to ban coverage that’s critical of them. It’s alarming, then, to see an association that represents news companies asking the Trump transition team (and presumably Congress) to change the law and weaken fair use.

        The News Media Alliance (formerly the Newspaper Association of America) recently released a whitepaper addressed to the Trump transition team (PDF). NMA asks for “strong copyright protection” that will “[allow] for a return on [the news media industry’s] massive investment.” In essence, it claims that Google News and similar aggregators steal newspapers’ profits.

        It’s unclear exactly how NMA wants news aggregators regulated. A copyright law that would bar websites from linking to and posting short excerpts of news articles? When similar laws have been proposed and passed in Europe, they’ve been shown to hurt newspaper revenues and keep new voices out of the journalism market.

      • KickassTorrents Brought Back to Life by Original Staffers (Updated)

        A large group of original KickassTorrent staffers has launched a reincarnation of the infamous torrent site, hoping to restore it to its former glory. The new site uses a fresh and secure database, but the look and feel of the platform remains the same.

      • Team Prenda Finally Goes To Jail: Hansmeier & Steele Indicted & Arrested
        For many, many, many years, we've been saga of Prenda Law -- a legal operation set up to file tons of shakedown copyright infringement lawsuits in an effort to get as many people as possible to just pay up and settle. The scam got deeper and deeper the more you looked, including forged signatures, clear evidence that the main actors behind Prenda -- John Steele and Paul Hansmeier -- were uploading their own works as a honeypot, while pretending to represent clients that they themselves owned through various shell companies -- which they denied owning. It went on and on and on. And on and on and on. Things really went sideways almost four years ago when Judge Otis Wright in California was the first judge to put much of this together, and called all of them to court, where everyone pleaded the fifth (yes, lawyers were pleading the fifth in a case they themselves brought). In response, Judge Wright referrred the case to law enforcement, leading many people to ask over the past four years how it was these guys weren't in jail (and, in fact, they continued to file lawsuits, reprising the same scheme but with ADA shakedowns.

        Court after court after court has slammed Prenda, and ordered Hansmeier and Steele (partner 3, Paul Duffy, died in the middle of all of this) to pay up lots of money. Of course, in response to that, there were further accusations of illegally hiding money, bogus trusts, a questionable bankruptcy claim and more. And, yet, they still were not in jail. Oh, and we didn't even mention the various ethics investigations that recently suspended Hansmeier's license.

      • Prenda Copyright Trolls Arrested and Charged With Fraud and Extortion

        For years Prenda Law extracted millions of dollars in cash settlements from alleged BitTorrent pirates, leaving misery in its wake. While the firm no longer exists, two of its principals have now been arrested. The duo hafe been charged with conspiracy to commit fraud, money laundering, and perjury. Interestingly, The Pirate Bay plays a key role in the case.

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