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Links 13/1/2017: Linux 4.9.3 and Linux 4.4.42

GNOME bluefish



  • Linux People Should Say, ‘You’re Welcome, Windows Users’
    There was a time when a computer operating system called Windows totally dominated the market, and it sucked. I mean, really sucked. Blue screens of death, unexplained crashes, viruses and worms galore, re-re-reboots all the darn time…and still, despite all the problems, people used this Windows thing. Why? Because except for the artsy/hipster $MacOS, it was the only computer OS you could get for your desktop, and it was the one that ran all the 17 jillion programs businesses wanted their office workers to use. Luckily, Windows has gotten a lot better over the years. Except…was it luck or was it Linux that made Windows improve?

    Before we get into that, let’s talk about cars for a minute. Specifically Volkswagens, Renaults and Fiats. Once upon a time. American cars ruled our nation’s highways and byways. They were big. They had 738 cubic inch Hemiverberator V-8 engines, and loved to stop at gas stations. But hey! Gas was cheap. A couple of friends, maybe me and Indian Ron, could put $5 worth of premium into the big black Chrysler and cruise Van Nuys Boulevard all night or until we found honeys to ride with us, after which…. Sorry, this is a family website.

  • The reason why I can’t use GNU/Linux (for now)
    2) The migration to systemd.

    I won’t write something long here. Because this is not an anti-systemd post.

    I don’t really care if a distribution have or not systemd. If somebody tell me to try X distribution, I do without paying attention of the init.

    What I don’t really like about this is that a lot of distributions are moving to systemd as it was the best thing ever. Some of the did it even when most of the users were against the change. For example, Slackware had some users just because it had BSD-style init scripts. But since they moved to systemd, they are like any other distribution but without dependencies handling.

  • Insights on RedHat, SUSE & Canonical; The Major Linux Companies
    Open source software were always promisable. Thanks for the collaboration, opportunities and infrastructure that it provides to both end users and enterprises. Linux is an amazing example for a successful open source code which shapes future.

    The 25-years-old operating system has grown so fast. Today, it is used almost everywhere. From web servers, android devices, supercomputers and to IoT devices. Linux became more than just an operating system to run some lab servers. And because of this, it created huge opportunities for enterprises to benefit from. This market allowed great tech companies to be established to fulfill its needs. Which gave us the 3 major1) Linux companies: Red Hat, SUSE and Canonical.

    The business model for each of the major companies was similar; selling support services and subscriptions for their own open source and Linux-based products. It was the case for most business models in the open source world as well; profit from around the product, not the product itself.

  • 10 Top Companies That Are Powered By Linux
    Linux is one of the most popular operating systems used for many companies, in this article you are going to find 10 companies that use Linux.

  • Desktop

    • Papa's Got a Brand New NAS
      At the beginning of my search, I started down a more traditional route with a cheap 1U server and a modern motherboard, but I quickly started narrowing down the motherboards to small, lower-power solutions given this machine was going to run all day. As I started considering some of the micro ATX solutions out there, it got me thinking: could I use a Raspberry Pi? After all, the latest iteration of the Raspberry Pi has a reasonably fast processor, a decent amount of RAM, and it's cheap, so even if one by itself wasn't enough to manage all my services, two or three might do the trick and not only be cheaper than a standard motherboard but lower power as well.

    • Traditional PCs Continue To Decline
      I’m joining the 21st century by switching to GNU/Linux on ARM instead of what the remains of the Wintel monopoly ships. 2017 should be the last year an x86-based PC runs in my home, except for a print-server. I don’t have an ARMed driver for the damned printer, but that printer is getting old. Maybe it will die…

  • Server

    • What benefits do Open Source, SDN, NFV, and new cloud standards bring to the networking industry?
      Remember proprietary networks – where you were expected to buy everything from a single provider (and its certified partners)? Those were the good old days for those proprietary vendors’ shareholders and investors, but they were a nightmare for customers who wanted to be free to choose the best solutions, embrace cutting-edge innovation, mix-and-match different capabilities and price points, and avoid the dreaded vendor lock-in. The good news is that proprietary networks are dead, dead, dead.

    • Report: Agile and DevOps provide more benefits together than alone
      DevOps and agile are two of the most popular ways businesses try to stay ahead of the market, but put them together and they provide even more benefits. A new report, Accelerating Velocity and Customer Value with Agile and DevOps, from CA Technologies revealed businesses experienced greater customer satisfaction and brand loyalty when integrating agile with DevOops.

    • The Hard Truths about Microservices and Software Delivery – Watch our LISA16 Talk
      Everybody’s talking about Microservices right now. But are you having trouble figuring out what it means for you?

  • Kernel Space

    • Linux 4.9.3
      I'm announcing the release of the 4.9.3 kernel.

      All users of the 4.9 kernel series must upgrade.

      The updated 4.9.y git tree can be found at: git:// linux-4.9.y and can be browsed at the normal git web browser:

    • Linux 4.4.42

    • Linux Kernel 4.4.42 LTS Updates USB Drivers, Improves ARM64 Support
      Only three days after announcing the release of Linux kernel 4.4.41 LTS, renowned kernel maintainer Greg Kroah-Hartman is informing us today, January 12, 2017, about the immediate availability of the Linux 4.4.42 LTS kernel.

      If you're reading our reports on the latest Linux kernels, you should already be aware of the fact that Linux 4.4 is an LTS (Long Term Support) branch, used in various popular GNU/Linux distributions, including Ubuntu 16.04 LTS (Xenial Xerus), Arch Linux, and the security-oriented Alpine Linux. The new version, Linux kernel 4.4.42 LTS, it's pretty hefty and changes a total of 92 files, with 903 insertions and 410 deletions.

    • Linux Kernel 4.9.3 Rolls Out with Over 200 Changes, Lots of XFS Improvements
      You won't believe this, but Greg Kroah-Hartman announced today, January 12, 2017, the release of the third maintenance update to the Linux 4.9 kernel stable series, just three days after the release of Linux kernel 4.9.2.

      From the appended shortlog, it looks like there are a total of 201 files changed in this third point release of Linux kernel 4.9, with 1929 insertions and 945 deletions, so we can only think that all these patches were out for a while now, but they didn't make it into the mainline kernel because of the Christmas and New Year's holidays. However, they are more than welcome, and it's really great work.

    • New CloudLinux 7 Kernel Now in Beta, Disables Procfs Restricted Mode by Default
      CloudLinux's Mykola Naugolnyi is announcing today, January 12, 2017, the availability of a new kernel for the CloudLinux 7 series of enterprise-ready operating systems in the Beta channels.

      The updated CloudLinux 7 kernel, versioned 3.10.0-427.36.1.lve1.4.32, is now available from the company's "updates-testing" repository, and those brave enough to take it for a test drive to see if it fixes some issues that had with previous kernel version can use the command below to install it.

    • Heterogeneous Memory Management Aims For Linux 4.11
      Jerome Glisse published his sixteenth version of the patches for implementing Heterogeneous Memory Management within the Linux kernel.

      For those unfamiliar with the impact or new possibilities opened up by HMM, it's further explained here. HMM will make it easier to write code targeting GPUs in a manner more similar to CPUs, can use malloc'ed memory transparently on all supported devices by allowing device memory to be used transparently inside any process and for mirroring a process address space on a different device.

    • It's Now Possible To Disable & Strip Down Intel's ME Blob
      Many free software advocates have been concerned by Intel's binary-only Management Engine (ME) built into the motherboards on newer generations of Intel motherboards. The good news is there is now a working, third-party approach for disabling the ME and reducing the risk of its binary blobs.

      Via an open-source, third-party tool called me_cleaner it's possible to partially deblob Intel's ME firmware images by removing any unnecessary partitions from the firmware, reducing its ability to interface with the system. The me_cleaner works not only with free software firmware images like Coreboot/Libreboot but can also work with factory-blobbed images. I was able to confirm with a Coreboot developer that this program can disable the ME on older boards or devices with BootGuard and disable Secure Boot. This is all done with a Python script.

    • Graphics Stack

      • Google Developer Back To Working On Another Vulkan C++ Abstraction Library
        The proliferation of Vulkan abstraction libraries continues.

        After covering NVIDIA's Vulkan VkHLF framework that was released yesterday, it was pointed out to us that a Google developer is back to working on google/vulkan-cpp-library.

      • Valve Developer Posts New AMD GPU Debugging Tool, Part Of Improving Linux Driver
        Another Valve developer has begun contributing to the open-source AMD Linux graphics driver stack. Besides posting some RADV Vulkan patches last week, today he's announced a new GPU debugging tool he's been working on for AMD's driver/hardware.

      • A Valve developer has released a tool to debug AMD graphics cards on Linux
        Andres Rodriguez sent in a message to the mesa-dev mailing list announcing 'gputool' for debugging AMD graphics cards on Linux. It's also open source under the GPL, so that's awesome.

        It currently only supports "POLARIS 10", but hopefully with community help it can support more card generations from AMD.

      • AMD Has Been Working On An Open-Source GPU Debug Tool, To Be Released Soon
        Yesterday we noted the new open-source AMD GPU debugging tool being developed by a Valve engineer as part of their work on the open-source RADV/RadeonSI/AMDGPU code. It turns out AMD has officially been working on a GPU debugging tool too.

        As noted in that article yesterday it was sad that AMD hadn't to date worked on a full-featured debug tool, especially considering how good Intel's intel-gpu-tools is for debugging and testing, and how many years already AMD has been working on their open-source driver stack without having some official and public open GPU debug tool. Fortunately, it turns out that AMD has been working on such a utility.

      • OpenGL 4.3 Lands For Maxwell With Nouveau Gallium3D, Plus 1.5~3.5x Performance Boost
        It should be a busy end of week for Mesa with the Mesa 17.0 feature freeze being this weekend. In addition to Haswell hitting OpenGL 4.2, Nouveau's NVC0 Gallium3D driver has enabled OpenGL 4.3 support for newer Maxwell and Pascal hardware.

      • OpenGL 4.3 now available in Mesa for nouveau (NVIDIA) for Maxwell and above
        Samuel Pitoiset (Valve developer) just put some fresh work into Mesa-git that enables OpenGL 4.3 with nouveau (NVIDIA) for Maxwell and above.

      • Haswell should now see OpenGL 4.2 thanks to recent work in Mesa
        Mesa is continuing to progress rapidly, as of today Haswell should now support OpenGL 4.2 ready for the next release of Mesa. Only a few days ago Haswell gained OpenGL4, so this progress is amazing.

        Mesa 17 should arrive soon, which means this will be in the next stable release. Mesa switched their versioning, so Mesa 13.1 is now Mesa 17 as they are using a year-based version model.

      • OpenGL 4.2 Now Exposed For Intel Haswell On Mesa 17.0
        Days ago we mentioned the patches were lining up to get Intel's Haswell to OpenGL 4.2 and this morning those patches have landed in Mesa Git ahead of the branching for the Mesa 17.0 release.

      • Updated AMD DC/DAL Patches For Polaris 12, 5K VSR
        Harry Wentland of AMD on Wednesday posted updated DC (DAL) display patches for the AMDGPU code-base.

        This is just the latest of long-running work on getting the DC display stack into shape for hopefully merging into the mainline Linux kernel later this year.

      • X.Org Server 1.19 Gets First Point Release, Fixes XWayland and RandR Issues
        X.Org Foundation's Adam Jackson was happy to announce the other day the release of the first maintenance update to the X.Org Server 1.19 display server series for Linux-based operating systems.

        X.Org Server 1.19.0 launched almost two months ago, on the 15th of November 2016, and we still haven't seen a GNU/Linux distribution making the switch to the most advanced X.Org Server version to date, which brings many improvements for AMD Radeon (AMDGPU/Radeon) and Intel graphics cards.

    • Benchmarks

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

      • KDE Plasma 5.9 Beta Kicks off 2017 in Style
        Today KDE releases the beta of this year’s first Plasma feature update, Plasma 5.9. While this release brings many exciting new features to your desktop, we'll continue to provide bugfixes to Plasma 5.8 LTS.

      • KDE Plasma 5.9 Beta Released, Adds Global Menus & Better Wayland Support
      • KDE Kicks Off 2017 in Style with KDE Plasma 5.9 Beta, Brings Back Global Menus

      • KDE Applications 16.12 Gets Its First Point Release, over 40 Recorded Bugs Fixed
        Immediately after announcing the release of the KDE Plasma 5.9 Beta desktop environment, the KDE development team was pleased to unveil the first point release of the KDE Applications 16.12 software suite.

      • KDE releases Kirigami UI 2.0
        Soon after the initial release of Kirigami UI, KDE's framework for convergent (mobile and desktop) user interfaces, its main developer Marco Martin started porting it from Qt Quick Controls 1 to Qt Quick Controls 2, the next generation of Qt's ready-made standard controls for Qt Quick-based user interfaces. Since QQC 2 offers a much more extended range of controls than QQC 1, the port allowed the reduction of Kirigami's own code, while improving stability and performance. Kirigami 2 is kept as close to QQC 2's API as possible in order to extend it seamlessly.

      • KDE Kirigami UI 2.0 Released
        KDE developers are having a busy day with not only releasing the feature-packed Plasma 5.9 Beta but also publishing the KDE Kirigami UI 2.0.

      • 2017
        Carrying on the successful tradition of since 2011, we are moving to the north-east region of India for this year's Join us for 2017 on 10, 11, and 12 March at Guwahati in Assam, India. 2017 will focus on the promoting Free and Open source including but not limited to Qt and KDE software.

  • Distributions

    • Arch Family

      • Manjaro 17.0 alpha 2 is now available for public
        If you know Arch Linux, then you must have heard about Manjaro Linux too. A few hours ago Manjaro development team released Manjaro 17.0 alpha2. This release is made in two flavors, the main KDE flavor and Xfce flavor. Community releases are yet to get updated. The new version is named Gellivara. next releases will be codenamed differently rather than older month codenames.

    • OpenSUSE/SUSE

      • openSUSE Tumbleweed Now Powered by Linux Kernel 4.9, Gets KDE Plasma 5.8.5 LTS
        openSUSE Project's Douglas DeMaio informed those running the Tumbleweed rolling operating system about the latest software updates that landed in the official, stable repositories.

        openSUSE Tumbleweed is always getting the latest GNU/Linux technologies and Open Source applications, and today we're happy to inform you that the Linux 4.9 kernel finally made its way into the software repos of the distributions, along with cleaned up configuration settings for the Mesa 3D Graphics Library.

    • Red Hat Family

    • Debian Family

      • Modern and secure instant messaging
        I now have an XMPP setup which has all the features of the recent fancy chat systems, and on top of that it runs, client and server, on Free Software, which can be audited, it is federated and I can self-host my own server in my own VPS if I want to, with packages supported in Debian.

      • Derivatives

        • Canonical/Ubuntu

          • Canonical Will Soon Make It Easier to Enable Unity 7 Low Graphics Mode in Ubuntu
            Canonical's Eleni Maria Stea is reporting today on the upcoming availability of a new option that would allow users to easily enable the low graphics mode for the Unity 7 desktop environment in Ubuntu Linux.

          • Man, I Used To Think My Ubuntu Desktop Looked So Cool…
            It is crazy how fast — and how drastically — tastes change.

            The desktop screencast in the video player aboves my Ubuntu 8.10 desktop as it looked back in 2008, in all its gaudy over-glossed glory. AWN? Check. Screenlets? Check. Compiz cube? Ch-ch-check!

            Like an old photo of a bad haircut, this video is very much of its its time.

            But aside from being a bit cringe, it shows how far the Linux desktop aesthetic has come, and how far our own tastes have too.

          • Does Ubuntu Budgie Need a New Logo?
            Now that Ubuntu Budgie is an official Ubuntu flavor we're excited to see what developers plan to do this cycle — but could that mean a new logo?

          • Ubuntu Budgie Devs Would Like You to Vote for New or Old Logos of the Linux OS
            It would appear that the Ubuntu Budgie development team is now complete. They were looking for a graphics designer in December, and it looks like they found the right person for the job.

            We told you a while ago that Ubuntu Budgie, the GNU/Linux distribution formerly known as budgie-remix and based on the latest Budgie desktop environment and Ubuntu Linux operating system, achieved official Ubuntu flavor status from Canonical, and will join all the other editions as part of the Ubuntu 17.04 release in April.

          • Flavours and Variants

            • Why Mint's Not Best, Tumbling Tumbleweed, Fedora Elections
              It's that time of year again when all good blue hatters rush to the virtual polls to vote for their trusted leaders. The 2017 January Fedora elections are in full swing and Fedora account holders are urge to vote in the three categories this term. Elsewhere, Scott Gilbertson felt the need to explain his best distribution of the year choice and Douglas DeMaio is back from holiday with a report from Tumbleweed development. M.Hanny Sabbagh summarized Red Hat, SUSE, and Canonical today and VAR Guy contributor Christopher Tozzi concluded that the lines between Windows and Linux are blurring. Cynthia Harvey points out areas in everyday life that are already run by artificial intelligence and a cookie campaign convinced developers to bring Civilization 6 to Linux.

            • Mint 18.1 review: Forget about Wayland and get comfy with the command line
              All that changed a couple of years ago when Mint opted to stop chasing Ubuntu and built off the LTS cycle. Mint is no longer quite as cutting edge as it once was, which shows up in some important areas like the kernel (which is only at 4.4 even now). Mint is also still plagued by the some of the poorly implemented update and security issues that have dogged it for years. You can keep Mint up-to-date and secure, but Mint actively encourages users (especially inexperienced) users to avoid updates. That more than anything else would prevent me from picking Mint 18.1 over, well, any other distro.

            • Oi, Mint 18.1! KEEP UP! Ubuntu LTS love breeds a laggard
              The Linux Mint project dropped a last-minute gift during the Christmas period – Mint 18.1.

              Mint 18.1 builds on the same Ubuntu LTS release base as Mint 18.0, the result being a smooth upgrade path for 18.0 users and the relative stability of Ubuntu's latest LTS effort, 16.04.

              In keeping with Ubuntu's LTS releases, Mint isn't stuck chasing Ubuntu updates. Rather the project can pursue its own efforts like the homegrown Cinnamon and MATE desktops, and the new X-Apps set of default applications.

            • You Can Now Have a Single ISO Image with All the Essential Ubuntu 16.10 Flavors
              Softpedia was informed by Linux AIO developer Željko Popivoda about the availability for download of the Linux AIO (All-in-One) Ubuntu 16.10 Live DVD that contains all the essential Ubuntu 16.10 flavors.

            • Ultimate Edition 5.1 Final
              Welcome aboard Ultimate Edition 5.1, 2 Operating Systems released in a week, not to mention new software. A day of Vacation has paid off. Let’s do some math. 4.2 GB X 4,193 downloads in less then a week I believe is roughly 17610 Gigabytes of transfer, 17 Terabytes in 5 days, thanks Sourceforge once again. I look for Ultimate Edition 5.1 to fold that. No screenie, I am hoping to lessen their burden. This I did not know until today, I am the #1 downloaded KDE project on sourceforge. Did you know I hate KDE?

            • Ubuntu Budgie Devs Launch Wallpaper Contest for First Release as Official Flavor
              In the good tradition of "wallpaper contests" organized for various Ubuntu flavors, the Ubuntu Budgie team is informing the Linux community about their Ubuntu Budgie 17.04 (Zesty Zapus) wallpaper contest.

              If memory recalls, this is not their first rodeo, but it's the first wallpaper contest put together as official Ubuntu flavor. As usual, they are looking for talented artists and graphic designers who create the most fabulous and original images, and who would be proud to showcase their work in front of millions of Ubuntu users around the world.

  • Devices/Embedded

Free Software/Open Source

  • My first three contributions to open source
    Getting started with an open source project can be intimidating. I wanted to contribute to open source projects, but struggled with where to start. When the time came and I finally took the shot, I ended up having an excellent learning experience. Here is my experience with my first three open source contributions.

  • 5 ways to be successful with open source software
    The skills gap in big data will remain relatively constant in the next year, but this shouldn’t deter people from adopting Hadoop and other open-source technologies. As most of us know, when new technologies are created and vie for users, they are known by few.

    Only once a particular type of software is a mature standard part of the canon do we begin to have a substantial number of folks skilled in its use — but even then the skills gap can persist. It will disappear only when we stop seeing big improvements to the stack, which I doubt we want. In short, the skills gap is one of the primary factors gating the rate of platform change, but it’s also a sign innovation is at hand.

  • The 6 unwritten rules of open source development
    The sports world is rife with unwritten rules. These are the behaviors and rituals that are observed but rarely documented in an official capacity. For example, in baseball, unwritten rules range from not stealing bases when well ahead to never giving up an intentional walk when there’s a runner on first. To outsiders, these are esoteric, perhaps even nonsensical guidelines, but they are followed by every player who wants to be a valued teammate and respected opponent.

    Software development, particularly open source software development, also has an invisible rulebook. As in other team sports, these rules can have a significant impact on how an open source community treats a developer, especially newcomers.

  • Tips for non-native English speakers working on open source projects
    The primary language of most open source projects is English, but open source users and contributors span the globe. Non-native speakers face many communication and cultural challenges when participating in the ecosystem.

    In this article, we will share challenges, how to overcome them, and best practices for easing onboarding of non-native speakers, as non-native English speakers and contributors to OpenStack. We are based in Japan, Brazil, and China, and work daily with the huge OpenStack community that is spread around the world.

    The official language of OpenStack is English, which means we communicate daily as non-native speakers.

  • How companies can help employees contribute to open source
    I'm a part of the Drupal community, which has more than 100,000 active contributors worldwide. And among them is a growing group of employees who are encouraged by their employers to contribute to open source.

    These days, finding a seasoned developer whose resume or CV doesn't mention an open source contributionor two (or more) is rare. The best developers know it matters, and it's becoming normal for contributions to help you get, or keep, a job. If you're an employer in technology, you know that. So how can you help your employees contribute to open source?

  • Events

  • SaaS/Back End

    • Report Notes OpenStack Gaining Traction with Telcos, and In Europe
      The OpenStack cloud computing platform is evolving in a number of notable new directions, notes Forrester's report OpenStack's Global Traction Expands For Its Newton Release. In particular, the report notes that OpenStack is gaining traction as a public cloud solution, and much of that trend is playing out in Europe. Additionally, telcos are flocking to OpenStack, says Forrester.

      Here are more details.

      “In the past year, telcos like CableLabs, SK Telecom, and Verizon have shelved their previous objections to the Neutron networking project and flocked to the OpenStack community, contributing features like Doctor,” notes the report. “Leading infrastructure & operations (I&O) professionals, application developers, and CIOs at firms like American Express, Disney, and Walmart have embraced OpenStack for their digital businesses. It’s the foundation of many private (and, increasingly, of many public) cloud services that give your company the agility it needs to respond to customer demand, from core systems to the mobile apps that deliver differentiated customer experiences.”

    • Mirantis to Support and Manage OpenContrail SDN
      In 2016, the SDN (Software Defined Networking) category rapidly evolved, and it also became meaningful to many organizations with OpenStack deployments. IDC published a study of the SDN market earlier this year and predicted a 53.9% CAGR from 2014 through 2020, at which point the market will be valued at $12.5 billion. In addition, the Technology Trends 2016 report ranked SDN as the best technology investment for 2016.

  • Healthcare

    • Open source enlightenment needed to end 'dark ages' of health IT
      Your article - "Whatever happened to Open Source in 2016?" highlights the brief vogue that open source recently enjoyed in the NHS – 2014-15 – and now seems to have lost. It raises some good questions and important issues, though I sense some broader perspective may be worth adding here.

      It’s worth remembering that healthcare is a well-established science – the first medical school established in the 9th century. While information technology is still a young science – the first MSc in software engineering dates from 1979.

      We know that the relatively risk averse culture of healthcare differs very significantly from the frenetic pace of innovation we see in the software world.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

  • BSD

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

    • Proof that openness scales
      Recently I've had the immense pleasure of discovering Slalom Consulting, and I was fascinated to learn how they do open. Aaron Atkins and Shannon Heydt, both working in talent acquisition for Slalom, sat down with me to share challenges related to scalability—and explain how recruiting and talent management play a strong part in shaping company growth.

      Slalom's case is rich and illustrative. But to understand it, we must first understand scabaility.

      Scalability is the ability of something to adapt to increasing demands. Meeting your business demands starts with your people and frameworks far before you fulfill a service or product.

    • Why open source seeds could be vital for the future of food
      Open source, a movement most commonly associated with tech, coding and hacking, is now becoming an increasingly important issue for food according to a recent article published on Ensia and GreenBiz. It might be somewhat surprising, for example, to learn that more than one-third of all carrot growing material has been patented and is protected by intellectual property rights (IPs). This raises a host of new challenges for small scale, independent breeders, who are responding by endorsing an “open source movement for seeds”, and could become a critical topic for those advocating a vision for a regenerative, more distributed food system with greater resilience designed in.

    • Open Hardware/Modding


  • Yahoo May Be In Transition But Its Software Troops Forge Ahead

  • Health/Nutrition

    • We’re Suing to Keep Kentucky Politicians Out of the Exam Room
      The Kentucky legislature had hardly been gaveled into session on January 3 when lawmakers rushed to pass the latest offensive abortion restriction into law. HB 2 forces doctors to describe an ultrasound to a women seeking an abortion in detail, even if she objects, even if the doctor believes that forcing the description on the woman would be harmful, and—most absurdly—even if the woman is covering her eyes and ears.

    • Cory Booker Joins Senate Republicans to Kill Measure to Import Cheaper Medicine From Canada
      Bernie Sanders introduced a very simple symbolic amendment Wednesday night, urging the federal government to allow Americans to purchase pharmaceutical drugs from Canada, where they are considerably cheaper. Such unrestricted drug importation is currently prohibited by law.

      The policy has widespread support among Americans: one Kaiser poll taken in 2015 found that 72 percent of Americans are in favor of allowing for importation. President-elect Donald Trump also campaigned on a promise to allow for importation.

      The Senate voted down the amendment 52-46, with two senators not voting. Unusually, the vote was not purely along party lines: 13 Republicans joined Sanders and a majority of Democrats in supporting the amendment, while 13 Democrats and a majority of Republicans opposed it.

    • Flint Residents Barred From Closed-Door Water Quality Meeting
      Residents of Flint, Michigan who traveled to Chicago were barred from attending a private meeting Tuesday between Michigan Governor Rick Snyder and other officials, who advocates say are rushing to declare the city's water supply safe.

      Outrage over the closed-door meeting prompted protests in Flint and Chicago, where residents held signs outside the Water Quality Summit asking for their detailed water quality report.

      Inside the summit, officials from the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) and the Environment Protection Agency (EPA), as well as Virginia Tech professor Marc Edwards, who is credited with exposing the lead contamination crisis, met with Snyder to discuss current sample data, ignoring testimony from residents.

      "My eyes are still burning. I can't breathe when I get out of the shower...we're still melting here," Flint resident Tony Palladeno said in a recording aired on The Young Turks (TYT). Many residents have reported similar symptoms, particularly in regards to the city's shower water, which TYT host Cenk Uygur notes was not tested.

    • NHS England chief says May 'stretching it' to say NHS getting more extra money than it asked for
      Simon Stevens, the NHS England chief executive, has undermined Theresa May’s claim to be funding health properly by flatly contradicting her assertion that the service has been given all the money it wants. He made the point during an assertive appearance before the Commons public accounts committee during which he also disagreed openly with Chris Wormald, permanent secretary at the Department of Health. Wormald said spending on health in the UK was in line with the OECD average. Stevens said that that was misleading because the OECD figures included countries like Mexico, that the UK spent less than on health than comparable advanced nations, and that it spent 30% less on health per head than Germany. May has repeatedly said that the NHS was given more than Stevens requested when he set out his five-year plan. But Stevens denied this.

    • Trump Asks Anti-Vaccine Activist Robert Kennedy Jr. to Lead Panel on Vaccine Safety
      Donald Trump, who promoted the debunked conspiracy theory that vaccines cause autism during his presidential campaign, asked a fellow skeptic of the scientific consensus on the issue, Robert Kennedy Jr., to chair a commission on “vaccine safety and scientific integrity” during a meeting at Trump Tower on Tuesday.

    • Make your own meat with open-source cells – no animals necessary
      IMAGINE producing meat at home without killing animals. With a few cells and a keg, the process could be no more complicated than brewing your own beer or pickling vegetables. That’s the vision of Isha Datar, the CEO of New Harvest, a non-profit organisation aiming to create everything from burgers to silk from cell cultures. “It’s like designing a new universe,” she told Hello Tomorrow, an event that brought together technology entrepreneurs in Paris last year.

  • Security

    • Security updates for Wednesday

    • Third Party Patch Roundup – December 2016

    • The MongoDB hack and the importance of secure defaults
      If you have a MongoDB installation, now would be the time to verify that it is secure. Since just before Christmas, over 28,000 public MongoDB installs have been hacked. The attackers are holding the hacked data ransom, demanding companies pay using Bitcoins to get their data back. From the looks of it, at least 20 companies have given in and paid the ransom so far. This post explains the hack, how to protect yourself, and what we can learn from it.

    • Implantable Cardiac Devices Could Be Vulnerable to Hackers, FDA Warns
      Low-level hackers can play with your heart. Literally. Pacemakers, defibrillators and other devices manufactured by St. Jude Medical, a medical device company based in Minnesota, could have put patients’ lives at risk, the US Food & Drug Administration warned on Monday, the same day a new software patch was released to address these vulnerabilities.

      There are several confirmed vulnerabilities that could have granted hackers remote access a person’s implanted cardiac device. Then, they could change the heart rate, administer shocks, or quickly deplete the battery. There hadn’t been any report of patient harm related to these vulnerabilities as of Monday, the FDA said.

    • Thursday's security updates

    • CVE-2016-9587: an unpleasant Ansible vulnerability

    • Docker 1.12.6 Fixes Privilege Escalation Vulnerability

      It's great to see Docker move quickly to patch security issues like this. Let's hope that users, patch quickly too, before Proof of Concept exploit code shows up in the wild (or worse - in Metasploit so script kiddies can point/click escape..).

    • Don't Pay the MongoDB Ransom
    • WordPress 4.7.1 Updates for 8 Security Issues

      Just over a month after the first WordPress 4.7 release, new incremental update debuts fixing 62 bugs, including a security flaw in the popular PHPMailer email library that was first publicly reported in December 2016. WordPress 4.7.1 was officially released on Jan. 11, providing users of the popular open-source content management system with an incremental update fixing 62 bugs and 8 security issues.

    • After Lawsuits And Denial, PaceMaker Vendor Finally Admits Its Product Is Hackable
      So we've noted how the lack of security in the Internet of Things is a bit of a problem. Initially, many of us thought that easily hacked smart tea kettles and smart refrigerators were kind of cute. Then we realized that this same, paper-mache grade security is also apparently embedded in everything from automobiles to medical gear. Then, more recently, we realized that all of these poorly-secured devices were being quickly compromised and used in botnets to help fuel massive, historically unprecedented, new DDoS attacks. The warnings were there all along, we just chose to ignore them.

      For more than a decade people had been warning that the security on pacemakers simply wasn't very good. Despite these warnings, many of these devices are still vulnerable to attack. This week the FDA was forced to issue a warning, noting that security vulnerabilities in the St. Jude Medical implantable cardiac device and corresponding Merlin@home Transmitter could be a serious problem. It's notable as it's the first time we've seen the government publicly acknowledge this specific type of threat.

  • Defence/Aggression

    • Kolkata Cleric Threatens to Slit Tarek Fatah’s Throat on a TV Show

      Two days after issuing a 'fatwa' against Prime Minister Narendra Modi, a Kolkata cleric on Monday threatened to slit the throat of Pakistan-born author and political commentator Tarek Fatah, with whom he appeared on a television programme.

    • Devastated Swede brands city 'lawless' after thugs set her car on fire
      Lejla Heco was left traumatised after she was forced to watch as her vehicle was targeted by vandals, who have been wreaking havoc across the city.

      The shocking incident happened just 50 minutes after the 28-year-old parked the car outside her father’s house in Malmo last Monday.

    • Obama’s Unkept Promise on Nuclear War
      By ratcheting up tensions with Russia, U.S. national security is raising risks of accidental nuclear war with missiles still on hair-trigger alert — despite President Obama’s promises, writes Jonathan Marshall.

    • How Obama Spread the Mideast Fires
      With President Obama down to less than two weeks in office, everyone is busy assessing his legacy. So let’s begin with the Arab world. Not since the Vietnam War, we can safely say, has an administration left a region in ruins the way Obama has left the Middle East (although it’s true that George W. Bush contributed mightily to the mess).

    • The seeds of the next Arab Spring
      The 2016 Arab Human Development Report (AHDR) by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) was focused on the region’s youth – those aged between 15 and 29 – a significant group that keeps on growing. This is the first report of its kind to be released after the Arab Spring, and details how young people are more politically aware and motivated to achieve their civil and human rights. Yet they face considerable challenges, primarily economic and security-related. The poor economic planning by the existing regimes is only prolonging and worsening these problems, as a more politically-conscious population grows.

    • Rex Tillerson Wants to Provide Saudi Arabia With More Help to Bomb Yemen
      For 21 months, a coalition of nations led by Saudi Arabia has been relentlessly bombing Yemen, using U.S.- and U.K.-produced weapons and intelligence in a war that has devastated Yemen and killed well over 10,000 civilians.

      There is abundant evidence that the high civilian death toll in Yemen is the result of deliberate — not accidental — strikes by Saudi Arabia. During its air campaign, Saudi Arabia has bombed endless civilian targets — including homes, farms, markets, factories, water infrastructure, hospitals, and children’s schools — and has even gone so far as to use internationally banned cluster weapons, which are designed to inflict damage over a wide area and often remain lethal years after being dropped.

      But when secretary of state nominee and former Exxon CEO Rex Tillerson was asked about Saudi Arabia’s use of cluster weapons during his confirmation hearing Wednesday, he declined to answer, and suggested that the way to discourage Saudi Arabia from hitting civilians in Yemen is to provide them with additional targeting intelligence.

    • Pompeo Goes Dark in CIA Nomination Hearing
      The darkness that fell over a roomful of senators, reporters, and onlookers on Thursday thanks to an unexpected power outage was fitting for a discussion of the future of the Central Intelligence Agency under Rep. Mike Pompeo, a nominee few career intelligence veterans know much about.

      The Republican lawmaker from Kansas donned two hats while trying to convince the Senate Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence he deserves to be the next spy chief: the congenial small business owner whose license plate reads “EAT BEEF,” and the tough-talking former soldier, first in his class at West Point, ready to defend the country at any cost.

      While he promised to abide by current legislation on surveillance and intelligence collection — even suggesting he didn’t intend to seek any policy changes in those areas — his views on making maximum use of government authorities to collect and analyze sensitive personal data alarmed some members of the committee.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • WaPo’s Factcheck of WikiLeaks Highlights Paper’s Strange View of Facts

      WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange (Fox News, 1/3/17) again denied that the leaked e-mails he published during the election came from Russia—an assertion contradicted by many anonymous US intelligence officials. “We can say, we have said repeatedly over the last two months, that our source is not the Russian government, and it is not a state party,” Assange told Sean Hannity.

      It is perfectly reasonable for the media and the public to be skeptical of Assange’s claims, just as they should be of the anonymous intelligence officials who say otherwise. How can we know what the truth is, absent any evidence? This is an especially pressing question since the release of a declassified Intelligence Community Assessment on the matter (1/6/17) which, as released to the public, is big in bold assessments but lacking in forensic evidence. “The message from the agencies essentially amounts to ‘trust us,’” as the New York Times observed (1/6/17).

      But thanks to the Washington Post’s dutiful commitment to verifying facts through its “Fact Checker” column, the mystery should be over. Assange’s claim that there no connection between Russia and the leaked documents were put through the Post’s rigorous factchecking criteria (1/5/17) and subjected to its penetrating “Pinocchio Test” scale, earning a damning “three Pinocchio” grade. This, according to the Post’s methodology, means that Assange’s assertion contains “significant factual error and/or obvious contradictions.
    • What Impact Will Trump Presidency Have on Freedom of Edward Snowden & Julian Assange?

    • Julian Assange Not Charged With Anything
      Contrary to mainstream media fake news, Julian Assange has never been charged with any sexual offence. His status was that he was wanted for questioning. But the questioning by Swedish police and prosecutors took place exactly two months ago in the Ecuadorean Embassy, at length over several days. So he is no longer wanted for questioning, yet is still not charged. The pretence there is any kind of genuine criminal investigation in progress, already transparently thin, is now in shreds.

      The Swedish police and prosecutors have had over six years to gather and assess all the evidence. The only missing piece was the further interrogation of Assange, which happened in November. After six years of preparing the jigsaw, they have had two months to slot the last piece into place. Policemen are used to having to prepare a case for charging within days, not months. What is more, the remaining charge (the minor ones having time expired) is a single, extremely simple incident in which there is nothing else left to investigate.
    • How Wikileaks Keeps Its 100% Accuracy Record
      When I resigned as Ambassador to blow the whistle on UK/US complicity in torture and extraordinary rendition, I had a number of official documents I wished to leak to prove my story. They were offered to WikiLeaks through two friends, Andrew and Jonathan. WikiLeaks declined to publish them because they could not 100% verify them.

      Their reasons were firstly that they were suspicious of me and whether I was a plant; British ambassadors are not given to resigning on principle. Secondly a few of the copies were my own original drafts of diplomatic communications I had sent, not the document as it printed out at the other end.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • Dakota Access protest policing costs exceed $22M
      The cost of policing the Dakota Access pipeline protests in North Dakota has surpassed $22 million — an amount that would fund the state Treasury Department for two decades and $5 million more than the state set aside last year.

      Protest-related funding decisions will be made by state lawmakers during the 2017 session. Leaders of the House and Senate appropriation committees say more funding will be approved, though the amount and method isn't known.

      Rep. Jeff Delzer says state officials also still hope the federal government will help with funding.

    • Rex Tillerson is big oil personified. The damage he can do is immense
      In one of the futile demonstrations that marked the run-up to the Iraq war, I saw a woman with a sign that read “How Did Our Oil End Up Under Their Sand?” In nine words she managed to sum up a great deal of American foreign policy, back at least as far as the 1953 coup that overthrew Mossadegh in Iran and helped toss the Middle East into its still-boiling cauldron.

      If the Senate approves Rex Tillerson after his testimony on Wednesday, they’ll be continuing in that inglorious tradition – in fact, they’ll be taking it to a new height, and cutting out the diplomats who have traditionally played the middleman role.

    • A Brief Guide to Rex Tillerson's Controversial Foreign Ties
      When Rex Tillerson goes before the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations on Wednesday for his confirmation hearings to become the next secretary of state, he’ll likely face standard questions a range of international issues including the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, Syria, and tensions in the South China Sea. But the committee has perhaps never assessed a pick like Tillerson, who spent his 10 years as the CEO of the energy multinational ExxonMobil focused on long-term shifts in the energy market and their impact on geopolitics.

    • Tillerson’s Hearing Seals It: the US Won’t Lead on Climate Change
      Protesters at Wednesday’s senate confirmation hearing for Donald Trump’s Secretary of State nominee, former ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson, had one thing on their mind: climate change. One woman yelled that her house had been destroyed by Hurricane Sandy. “Reject Rex Tillerson and honor the earth!” a man cried.

      Tillerson, a 40-year veteran of one of the world’s largest oil companies, is up for the country’s most powerful diplomatic position at a time when climate change threatens global security. From food scarcity and drought to migration and war, climate change is one of the great destabilizers that will plague the Trump era.

    • Tillerson Time-Warp
      I suppose it could be a failure of recollection but it just made no sense. These events were just two years ago. $3.44 million spent lobbying EPA is not just a visit. It’s a campaign. We don’t know what they spent lobbying over sanctions, yet… Lobbying is what Trump’s “Swamp” is all about and Trump said he understood it well and that he would drain it. Presumably one of the reasons he chose Tillerson was to have another man on the team who knew the swamp well. Perhaps not.

    • Trump won't drop ownership of business
      President-elect Donald Trump plans to relinquish management of his businesses, but he still intends to retain an ownership stake in his sprawling real-estate and branding empire.

      Trump’s adult sons, Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump, will run the company, along with a Trump Organization executive. Trump will not make any corporate decisions during his time in the White House, his aides said.

      Trump will put his business assets into a trust, and an ethics adviser will join the company’s management team. The adviser, who has not yet been named, will review and sign off on any new business deals that raise potential conflicts of interests, lawyer Sheri Dillon announced Wednesday. The company also will hire a chief compliance counsel to police potential conflicts.

    • Pesticide ban: New evidence shows 'strong case' for ban on chemicals linked to bird and bee deaths
      Evidence that controversial pesticides linked to “large-scale population extinctions” of bees should be banned has got stronger since a moratorium on their use was introduced three years ago, according to a new report.

      Scientists at Sussex University carried out a review of the scientific studies since the European Union restricted the use of neonicotinoid pesticides on flowering plants in 2013.

      In their report, published by environmental campaign group Greenpeace, they concluded there was greater evidence that wild plants near fields of crops treated with the chemicals were being contaminated.

    • Will Trump’s Climate Team Accept Any ‘Social Cost of Carbon’?
      President-elect Donald Trump and members of his proposed cabinet and transition team have taken aim at many of President Obama’s climate and clean-energy policies, programs and legacies — from the Paris Agreement to the Clean Power Plan.

      But there’s probably no more consequential and contentious a target for the incoming administration than an arcane metric called the “social cost of carbon.”

      This value is the government’s best estimate of how much society gains over the long haul by cutting each ton of the heat-trapping carbon-dioxide emissions scientists have linked to global warming.

    • The Future Of The Green Investment Bank Is In Peril
      The Green Investment Bank is a publicly-owned institution that funds low-carbon projects across the UK. From financing vast offshore wind farms to supporting innovative energy efficiency projects, the GIB is playing a crucial role in the transition the UK needs to make to a zero-carbon economy. With the Government talking boldly about leading the world on combatting climate change you might expect them to be guarding this institution and building it up but, instead, they're planning to flog it off.

      The government's preferred buyers, Macquarie, have a deeply regressive approach to environmental issues, and, in selling off its stake without the appropriate safeguards, the Government is placing the GIB at risk of being dismantled - putting at risk all the green projects it has invested in.
    • Rex Tillerson Would Put the Dollar Sign on the American Flag
      Norris, La Follette and the courageous foes of US involvement in World War I—most of them Midwestern progressive populists—recognized the profound danger that arose when US foreign policy became intertwined with the pecuniary demands of plutocrats and profiteers.

      It is not just in matters of war and peace that those dangers arise, of course. When CEOs are calling the shots, everything from trade policy to energy policy and responses to climate change are warped by unenlightened self-interest. The potential for the corruption of America’s foreign policy expands dramatically when businessmen with international interests assume positions of power. This is one of the reasons Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren, Wisconsin Senator Tammy Baldwin, and 21 of their colleagues, in December, urged President-elect Donald Trump to follow the advice of the nonpartisan Office of Government Ethics and divest his business holdings before taking office.
    • Tidal lagoons are one step closer to powering Britain

      Once the first lagoon is generating power in Swansea, a fleet of other projects harnessing electricity from the rise and fall of the tide will be possible at Cardiff, Newport, Colwyn Bay in north Wales, the Cumbrian coast and off Bridgwater Bay Somerset.

      The price of generating electricity from tidal lagoons means that we can have a good-value source of power here in the UK for many years to come.
    • Rex Tillerson Doesn’t Sound Like a Climate Denier, But He Acts Like One
      The U.S. Senate will soon decide whether Rex Tillerson, the longtime leader of the world’s largest oil and gas company, Exxon Mobil, is qualified to serve as the U.S. secretary of state.

      His confirmation hearings this week came at a moment of climate emergency, when scientific studies indicate that dramatic international action is required to avoid massive deterioration of coastlines, intensification of drought, increased frequency of big storms, acidification of oceans, and all the other problems associated with climate change: mass migrations, violent conflicts, loss of languages, and species extinctions.

      Although Tillerson faced a few tough questions from members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee about his climate change record on Wednesday, he was also shown deference for his allegedly scientific views on climate, with senators particularly praising his perspective on the issue as that of an engineer.

      And news stories favorably juxtaposed Tillerson’s acknowledgment of climate change with Trump’s 2012 tweet that the whole thing is a Chinese hoax.

  • Finance

    • William Carroll, Sunsara Taylor, and Rafael Caderas
      For the first half of the program, Peter and Mickey speak with sociologist William Carroll, about his latest research into the “transnational corporate class” — top corporate board members and executives — who wield vast influence over public policy.

    • What DeVos Might Do to Public Schools
      Donald Trump is stocking his administration with fellow rich people including “school voucher” advocate Betsy DeVos as Education Secretary, a choice that makes many public school defenders nervous, reports Dennis J Bernstein.

    • The Illegitimacy of Brexit
      What we may call constitutional ‘populism’ has thrown the British constitution into a state of confusion. Old certainties about the supremacy of parliament, the role of parties and the independence of the civil service and the courts are being challenged. Alarmingly, the nebulous idea of a remote and ‘illegitimate’ establishment seems now to include our democratic representatives in parliament, as well as the civil service and the courts. Theresa May, who, ironically, is an unelected prime minister who won office through the internal processes of her party, said in a speech last October that those that challenged the legality of the Article 50 notification were ‘subverting democracy’.

    • Democrats can’t win until they recognize how bad Obama’s financial policies were
      During his final news conference of 2016, in mid-December, President Obama criticized Democratic efforts during the election. “Where Democrats are characterized as coastal, liberal, latte-sipping, you know, politically correct, out-of-touch folks,” Obama said, “we have to be in those communities.” In fact, he went on, being in those communities — “going to fish-fries and sitting in VFW halls and talking to farmers” — is how, by his account, he became president. It’s true that Obama is skilled at projecting a populist image; he beat Hillary Clinton in Iowa in 2008, for instance, partly by attacking agriculture monopolies .

      But Obama can’t place the blame for Clinton’s poor performance purely on her campaign. On the contrary, the past eight years of policymaking have damaged Democrats at all levels. Recovering Democratic strength will require the party’s leaders to come to terms with what it has become — and the role Obama played in bringing it to this point.

    • An argument as to why a “hard Brexit” will be the natural and direct consequence of an Article 50 notification
      This post sets out in summary form an argu

      ment I have set out at the FT (here and here) and on Twitter.

      My argument is that, regardless of the express statements of the prime minister and her government, the UK is bound to have a “hard Brexit”.

      By “bound” I mean that it will be the natural and direct consequence of an Article 50 notification.

      By “hard Brexit” I mean that, once the United Kingdom leaves the European Union (either at the end of the Article 50 period of two years (or as extended) or at the end of any transitional/adjustment period) the United Kingdom will not be part of the “single market”.

    • Puerto Rico Turns to Lewandowski to Lobby Trump on Debt
      The hedge funds and insurance companies that want financially strapped Puerto Rico to pay them back in full may have found a new ally: Donald Trump’s former campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski.

      The newly elected governor of Puerto Rico is in discussions to hire Lewandowski’s lobbying firm, at a time when the island’s creditors are hoping that the incoming Trump administration will be more sympathetic to them than the Obama administration has been. Such a shift would add to concerns that the new administration’s tight ties to banks and investment funds could tilt its policies in favor of Wall Street.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Russian tech expert named in Trump report says US intelligence never contacted him

      A Russian venture capitalist and tech expert whose name and company are mentioned in the now-notorious document alleging connections between the Donald Trump campaign and Russian hackers says no intelligence officers have ever contacted him about the accusations, which he says are false.

      A report compiled by a former Western intelligence official as opposition research against Trump was made public Tuesday when BuzzFeed posted its 35 pages. The document included unsubstantiated claims of collusion between the Trump campaign team and the Kremlin.

      It also alleged that global tech firm XBT Holding, with operations in Dallas, was instrumental in the hack of leaked Democratic Party emails that embarrassed Hillary Clinton and fellow Democrats.

    • Obama's legacy: eight years of not holding executives criminally responsible for their companies' misdeeds
      The most remarkable criminal justice story of 2017 is that the FBI has arrested a real corporate criminal, a VW executive who tried to engineer a coverup of the Dieselgate scandal, and that he might go to jail -- it's remarkable because the Obama administration spent eight years resolutely not sending criminal executives to jail, preferring instead to let their corporations buy their way out of criminal sanctions with huge fines, a doctrine pioneered by Obama Attorney General Eric Holder back when he worked for Bill Clinton's administration. But while Clinton rejected this idea, Obama put it into practice.

      Holder believes that jailing executives -- and exacting other forms of significant criminal justice against criminal corporations -- is fundamentally unjust, because of all the collateral damage to investors, employees and customers. Instead, Holder preferred to fine companies very large sums (but not so large that the companies were jeopardized), effectively turning criminal lawbreaking into a predictable line item, one of the costs of doing business. Meanwhile, the collateral damage from the jailing of poor people -- damage to their families and their communities -- was considered an unavoidable and tolerable result of a functional criminal justice system.

    • Donald Trump in angry exchange with CNN reporter after President-elect refuses question
      Donald Trump refused to take a question from CNN - the organisation that had reported US intelligence officials had briefed the tycoon about unverified claims about his relationship with Russia.

      On Tuesday, CNN reported that officials had provided a summary of a dossier of information that was apparently generated by political opponents. The information claimed Mr Trump had been compromised by “salacious” information about his personal and business dealings in Russia.

      Mr Trump had tweeted that the claims were not correct and amount to nothing more than “fake news”. At a news conference he refused to take a question from CNN. He also criticised BuzzFeed News, which had published the allegations in their entirety.

    • Dear Meryl Streep, About That Golden Globe Speech

      And Trump is an ass, he did indeed mock a disabled person, hate breeds hate. Thank you, Meryl, for saying those truths.

      However, by confining your criticism, and not speaking out against Obama and his NSA, drones, Gitmo, wars (Libya, Syria, Iraq, etc), use of the Espionage Act, poor record on Freedom of Information Act requests, shielding CIA torturers from prosecution, never mind just making nice speeches while doing nothing practical to curb racism and mass killings, you leave all those bad things on the table. Silence insulates Trump from criticism for, for example, future drone terror, because he’ll be able to say “Well, Obama did it and no one complained.”

    • Evaluating “Sources” in Fake News Like You’re in the CIA
      The use of anonymous sources was once a major line for a journalist to cross.

      By not naming a source, the journalist insists you trust them. Did they talk to an intern or a policymaker? Every source has an agenda; if we don’t know the source we have no idea of the agenda. Was the journalist trying to act carefully, but was fooled themselves? Remember the run-up to the 2003 Iraq War, and the way the press facilitated that via articles based on unnamed sources we now know were Bush administration officials with fake tales of Weapons of Mass Destruction.

      Anonymous sources have their place. With Deep Throat during the Watergate scandal, the Washington Post tried to use his information as a tool to work backwards to verifiable truths, or to allow them to reach people who would go on the record. Part of Edward Snowden’s credibility came from his named status.

    • The Hitler Diaries Mark II – or I Hope They Changed the Mattress

      The mainstream media’s extreme enthusiasm for the Hitler Diaries shows their rush to embrace any forgery if it is big and astonishing enough. For the Guardian to lead with such an obvious forgery as the Trump “commercial intelligence reports” is the final evidence of the demise of that newspaper’s journalistic values.

      I suspect that we are supposed to “conclude” falsely that the reports were written by Mark Allen at BP.

    • In Absence of Evidence, Media Evoke ISIS in Jerusalem Attack

      Despite headlining its piece “Jerusalem Lorry Attacker ‘Was IS Supporter,’” the BBC’s very first sentence would concede, “Although Benjamin Netanyahu did not give evidence for the claim….” Lack of evidence, evidently, is no reason not to frame your reporting around an official charge.

      The BBC would rationalize this by claiming ISIS has “threatened” Israel in the past, while ignoring the far more material reality that ISIS has never attacked Israel—a rather glaring piece of historical context that was left unmentioned.

      Netanyahu, it’s worth noting, has much incentive to inflate the threat as an ISIS one. Aside from needing a distraction from the ongoing investigation by the Israeli attorney general over bribery and corruption, Netanyahu has long-sought to conflate Israeli security threats with those to of Western Europe and the United States to garner sympathy and support. Despite the lack of ISIS attacks on Israel, and the hostility the militant group has received from Palestinians, Netanyahu has frequently evoked their specter, once even insisting “Hamas is ISIS, and ISIS is Hamas.” (Hamas, which is Islamist but not Salafist, has frequently arrested Palestinians suspected of being sympathetic to the Islamic State.)

      The conflation also serves to distract from legitimate Palestinian grievances, including preeminently the decades-long occupation by the IDF, massive displacement by settlements in the West Bank (likely to increase with a new wave of settlement construction) and periodic large-scale bombings of Gaza.

    • Donald Trump Contradicts Himself, and Reality, at Press Conference
      Donald Trump, who will be sworn in as president of the United States next week, to the delight of 37 percent of the nation, held his first news conference since July on Wednesday. The raucous event in New York was supposed to have been devoted to Trump’s explanation of how he intends to dodge the many and varied conflicts of interest he will face as president, without selling off his businesses and putting his assets in a blind trust.

      Instead, the main topic of discussion was the fallout from the explosive and entirely unsubstantiated claims in a private intelligence dossier compiled by a former intelligence agent working for Trump’s political opponents, which was published by Buzzfeed on Tuesday night. Buzzfeed published the dossier after CNN reported that both President Obama and President-elect Trump were briefed last week on the allegations contained in it — chiefly that Trump’s campaign collaborated with the Russian government and that, according to anonymous sources, Russia has compromising personal information about Trump.

    • ‘We’re Seeing the Result of a 40-Year Assault on the Liberal Mainstream’ - CounterSpin interview with Ellen Schrecker on the New McCarthyism
    • ‘We Need to Give Voice to the People Who Feel Terrified’
      There are pundits who still say we should wait and see what a Trump White House will do before expressing concerns. But that ignores how Trump’s media-assisted prominence, the mainstreaming of his brand of brazen hatred, has encouraged and emboldened racist, sexist xenophobes around the country already. Donald Trump didn’t invent hate crime, but he has put the relationship between legitimizing talk and violent action on a plate for media. So how will a press corps that still talks about “race relations” when they mean white supremacy deal with the particular brew now concocted?

    • The Deep State Goes to War with President-Elect, Using Unverified Claims, as Democrats Cheer
      In January, 1961, Dwight Eisenhower delivered his farewell address after serving two terms as U.S. president; the five-star general chose to warn Americans of this specific threat to democracy: “In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.” That warning was issued prior to the decadelong escalation of the Vietnam War, three more decades of Cold War mania, and the post-9/11 era, all of which radically expanded that unelected faction’s power even further.

      This is the faction that is now engaged in open warfare against the duly elected and already widely disliked president-elect, Donald Trump. They are using classic Cold War dirty tactics and the defining ingredients of what has until recently been denounced as “Fake News.”

      Their most valuable instrument is the U.S. media, much of which reflexively reveres, serves, believes, and sides with hidden intelligence officials. And Democrats, still reeling from their unexpected and traumatic election loss as well as a systemic collapse of their party, seemingly divorced further and further from reason with each passing day, are willing — eager — to embrace any claim, cheer any tactic, align with any villain, regardless of how unsupported, tawdry and damaging those behaviors might be.

      The serious dangers posed by a Trump presidency are numerous and manifest. There are a wide array of legitimate and effective tactics for combatting those threats: from bipartisan congressional coalitions and constitutional legal challenges to citizen uprisings and sustained and aggressive civil disobedience. All of those strategies have periodically proven themselves effective in times of political crisis or authoritarian overreach.
    • Pharma and Lockheed Martin Stocks Tumble After Trump Criticizes Overpayments
      President-elect Donald Trump lashed out at overspending on drugs and fighter jets during his press conference on Wednesday, giving progressives something to hope for but sending stocks in related companies diving.

      First, he took aim at the drug industry, complaining that it is making too many of its products overseas and that the government does not negotiate with the industry for prices for the Medicare program.

      “We have to get our drug industry coming back. Our drug industry has been disastrous, they’ve been leaving left and right,” he said. “The other thing we have to do is create new bidding procedures for the drug industry because they’re getting away with murder. Pharma, Pharma has a lot of lobbyists — a lot of lobbyists — a lot of power, and there’s very little bidding on drugs. We’re the largest buyer of drugs in the world and yet we don’t bid properly and we’re going to start bidding and we’re going to save billions of dollars over time.”
    • Maybe This Is How Democracy Ends
      The election of Donald Trump has triggered as much wonderment abroad as it has in the United States. David Runciman, a professor of politics at the University of Cambridge, has written in the London Review of Books a provocative reflection on the nature of democracy in the age of Trump: “Is this how democracy ends?” There is much to praise in his essay, including his heavy qualification that we really don’t know for sure if what we are seeing is the end phase of mature Western democracies since we do not have the appropriate historical precedents to be certain.

      Runciman is correct; as an admirer of Karl Popper, I believe that there is no such thing as historical determinism, either in the form of the Marxist dialectical process, or in the guise of its mirror image, the invisible hand of laissez-faire. Accordingly there is no surefire way to tell in advance whether Trump, Marine Le Pen or Geert Wilders would spell the end of democracy as we have known it. History, as Popper would tell us, is an open system, full of contingency. Waterloo, the Battle of Britain and Stalingrad were all close-run things.
    • A War on Regulations
      Are we going to let interest group politics undermine public safety?
    • Intel agencies ask Americans to 'trust, don't verify' in new Cold War
      Just as the first casualty of war is said to be the truth, the first casualty of the new Cold War is irony. Our most prominent journalists seem to have missed the Orwellian irony of Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) asking Director of National Intelligence (DNI) James Clapper at Friday's Senate hearings if Julian Assange has any credibility. Assange has maintained that the hacked or leaked emails of Democratic Party officials did not come from the Russian government, or any other government.

      As is well-known, Clapper lied to Congress about a serious violation of the constitutional rights of tens of millions of Americans. This lie is a crime for which he actually could have been prosecuted. In March 2013, Clapper falsely answered, "No, sir" to the question, "Does the NSA [National Security Association] collect any type of data at all on millions, or hundreds of millions of Americans?"

      He later admitted that his answer was untrue.

      Clapper lied again in Friday’s testimony, saying that Assange was "under indictment" for "a sexual crime." In fact, Assange has not been indicted for anything, and the government of Sweden has never even charged him with a crime. (He was initially questioned by Swedish police but allowed to leave the country.)
    • Did Trump Kill ‘Liberal Democracy’?
      Donald Trump’s victory has spurred commentary about the “death of liberal democracy,” but the seeds of that demise were planted in the 1980s amid elite orthodoxy in favor of neoliberal economics, argues Mike Lofgren.
    • Pulling a J. Edgar Hoover on Trump
      The decision by the U.S. intelligence community to include in an official report some unverified and salacious accusations against President-elect Donald Trump resembles a tactic out of FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover’s playbook on government-style blackmail: I have some very derogatory information about you that I’d sure hate to see end up in the press.

    • The Lobby
      36 hours after I first asked the FCO Media Department for a statement clarifying Shai Masot’s immigration and visa status, given that he was not on the Diplomatic List, the FCO has still not responded, despite my putting my request in writing as they asked. I am going to phone the FCO again in a few minutes, and I am very much afraid I may become heated and impolite.

    • Homeland Security Nominee Gen. John Kelly Failed to Disclose Position at Lobbying Firm on Ethics Disclosure
      John F. Kelly, the retired Marine Corps general nominated by Donald Trump to be secretary of homeland security, did not disclose his position as a vice chairman at a lobbying firm called the Spectrum Group on his federal ethics forms made public this week.

      The failure to disclose the position may run afoul of federal law requiring Senate-confirmed nominees to reveal potential conflicts of interest to the lawmakers and the public.

      “He came on as a vice chairman in the end of last year,” said Esther Lofgren, the vice president of the Spectrum Group, when reached for comment.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • Woman blogger from Bangladesh faces threat to life, seeks international help
      A college student from Bangladesh, who is a secularist-feminist blogger has sought assistance from the international community after facing life threats at home. A few months ago, after the Gulshan cafe attack, she travelled to India in search of help. When she returned to Bangladesh, the situation had worsened.


      My Facebook ID was banned twice because of the campaign launched against people like me by fundamentalists.


      According to fellow blogger Zobaen Sondhi who has fled to Germany, groups like Ansar Al Islam, Ansarullah Bangla Team (ABT), Al Qaeda in Indian Subcontinent, IS, Jamaat-ul-Mujahidin Bangladesh (JMB), New JMB, Ittehad-Ul-Mujahidin have published multiple hit lists with names of bloggers and writers they plan to kill. "The Bangladesh government is unwilling to ensure safety for secular bloggers and the fundamentalist organisation Hefajat-E-Islam operates with impunity. The Bangladeshi Cabinet Committee for Law & Order, headed by minister of industries Amir Hossain Amu, decided at its meeting on August 9, 2015, to declare atheist authors as criminals, thereby making them liable to prosecution; and intelligence agencies were asked to monitor blogs to trace them. Recently, one of the most powerful politicians of the country, MP Selim Osman vowed to punish atheist bloggers in the presence of high profile police officers."

    • New Facebook project aims to strengthen ties with media
      Facebook has a message for the media: Let's be friends.

      A new Facebook journalism project aims to strengthen the giant social network's ties with the media by collaborating more closely on publishing tools and news products, helping the advertising-supported organizations find new readers and training journalists to more effectively use the platform.

      "We want to work with publishers to build products that enable them to tell better stories, connect with their audiences in richer ways and support emerging business models for publishers," Justin Osofsky, Facebook's vice president of global operations and media partnerships, told USA TODAY.

    • Port: Anti-porn activist flips out after censorship bill gets withdrawn from N.D. legislature
      Today on my radio show I had on as a guest anti-porn activist Chris Severe to talk about that “pornography vending machine” censorship legislation which was withdrawn in the state House earlier today.

      Severe is part of a group that’s been pushing similar legislation in a number of states, calling it the “Human Trafficking Prevention Act.” Which seems entirely misleading. While there’s no question that human tracking, and stuff like child pornography, are real problems the idea that mandating censorship hardware/software in every internet-capable device we own is the way to solve those problem is ridiculous.
    • Facebook bows to Thai censorship demands
      Facebook has given in to demands from the government of Thailand to censor content that it deems unsuitable, gagging a number of individuals from discussing the royal family and the ongoing transition to a new king.

    • Facebook Is Already Flirting With Censorship

    • Facebook is censoring posts in Thailand that the government has deemed unsuitable
      For millions of people, Facebook is the internet — but many of those who rely on the social network for news and views may not be aware that Facebook isn’t immune to internet censorship itself.

      That’s become apparent in Thailand, where Facebook is blocking content from a number of users following an apparent request from the government. Thailand’s lèse-majesté law prevents criticism of the country’s royal family, and it looks like it is being used to suppress postings from a number of high-profile users who are writing about the transition to a new king, including journalist Andrew MacGregor Marshall. The former Reuters correspondent, now a lecturer at Edinburgh Napier University, is already well known to Thai authorities. His 2014 book on the Thai royal family was banned and branded a “danger to national security and peaceful and orderly society.”

      TechCrunch has independently confirmed that, as MacGregor Marshall noted, at least one of his posts is not available in Thailand but can be read outside of the country. Marshall McGregor’s profile and the rest of his feed remain visible in Thailand. The post in question is from late December and, while it isn’t clear when it was blocked, a reposting made this week was visible in Thailand at the time of writing.

    • EFF to Court: Don’t Let the Right of Publicity Eat the Internet
      Imagine if every depiction of a real person on social media could support a lawsuit. That’s the strange and dangerous logic of a recent lower court decision from California. In that case, Cross v. Facebook, a superior court judge ruled that any “use” of a person’s identity on a site that also included advertising could support a right of publicity claim. If allowed to stand, this ruling could destroy long-settled immunity for hosts of user-generated content. Today EFF filed an amicus brief urging the California Court of Appeal to overturn the lower court’s decision. Our brief explains that the ruling is inconsistent with right of publicity law, CDA 230, and the First Amendment.

      The case was brought by a country-rap artist named Jason Cross who performs under the stage name Mikel Knight. He promotes his music using “street teams” who sell his CDs out of vans. After a fatal accident involving one of these vans, Knight’s sales practices began getting unfavorable media attention. He has been accused of pushing his sales teams too hard and created an unsafe environment. A Facebook page called ‘Families Against Mikel Knight’ was created where ex-street team members and others could comment on Knight’s operation.

      Knight filed a lawsuit against Facebook asserting a collection of claims ranging from negligent interference with prospective business relations to right of publicity. Facebook filed an anti-SLAPP motion seeking to dismiss the complaint. Since Knight was effectively trying to hold Facebook liable for content posted by users, the court correctly dismissed most of Knight’s claims as barred under CDA 230 (which protects online intermediaries that host or republish speech against a range of claims that might otherwise be used to hold them legally responsible for what others say and do).

    • Amos Yee’s asylum bid could last between weeks & years
      Amos Yee will have his first hearing at the Chicago Immigration Court on Jan. 30, 2017.

      Grossman Law, the legal firm representing the 18-year-old Singaporean, said an initial asylum application will be filed at the hearing along with evidence.

      How the case proceeds will depend on the judge.

    • Amos Yee’s US asylum application could take years: Lawyers
      Amos Yee, the teenage blogger who is applying for asylum in the United States, will have his first hearing at the Chicago Immigration Court on Jan 30.

      Grossman Law, the legal firm acting for the 18-year-old Singaporean, said that his lawyer will file an initial asylum application at the hearing along with evidence.

      If the judge finds that a legitimate claim for asylum or protection under the United Nations Convention Against Torture exists, a further hearing will be scheduled, according to a statement by Grossman Law on Wednesday (Jan 11).

      If Yee remains in custody, the hearing could be scheduled within eight to 10 weeks of the initial hearing.

    • Getty's French Office Sends Out Letters To US Websites Demanding They Take Down Anything Linking It To 'Legalized Extortion'
      Getty Image's long history of copyright thuggery can be found all over Techdirt. This litany of uncivil public discourse finally resulted in it being force-fed its own medicine by a plaintiff who demanded $1 billion from the image licensing service for taking her public domain photos and adding them to the Getty library.

      Thanks to some serious misjudgment, and incomplete knowledge of how national laws work, Getty has now (briefly) earned a reputation for another form of thuggery: censorship.

      Matthew Chan runs Extortion Letter Info (ELI), a site that specializes in collecting threatening letters for various entities (usually copyright-related) and gives guidance on how to fight back against this form of speculative invoicing.

      Chan, along with others, has been loudly critical of Getty's tactics. Getty likes to send out threatening letters and demand licensing fees for images it happens to see in use around the web. Visitors to ELI's forums are no less disdainful of the company than Chan is. And, the internet being the great communicator it is, this sort of criticism isn't limited solely to Chan's site.

    • Trump Not Even Waiting To Get Into Office Before Threatening The First Amendment, Press Freedoms

      During the campaign and after his win, President Elect Donald Trump has been remarkably consistent on his calls for curtailing the rights afforded to the American people and our news organizations by the First Amendment. Between threatening lawsuits over campaign ads, suggesting that political protests ought to be stopped, and mocking free speech in more general terms, the soon-to-be President has positioned himself to be a challenger to long-held freedoms for which very real blood has been shed to protect.

      But it seems the President Elect is not content to wait to enter office to try to begin this erosion of the First Amendment. Amidst a week of turmoil over the publication of comments about the classified briefing he, amongst others, received detailing intelligence findings about Russian involvement in the previous election cycle, Donald Trump has called upon Congress to investigate how this information was leaked to NBC News.

    • Publications forced to join state-approved regulator

    • Ryan Confident Student’s ‘Disgusting’ Ferguson Painting Will Be Removed

    • Dem Rep Accuses Ryan Of ‘Vigilante Censorship’ Over Anti-Cop Painting

    • The Weird War Over Congress’s Pig-Cop Painting

    • Op-Ed: Expensive data is a new form of censorship in Zimbabwe

    • Turkish Politicians Livestream Censored Political Power Grab

    • Age Checks on UK Porn Sites Against 'Free Speech' - UN Rapporteur

    • Child blocks on porn breach adults' rights, says the UN: Official claims new laws interfere with the right to freedom of expression and privacy

    • UK: Child block on porn sites breaches adults' rights, says UN official

    • Porn censorship & age checks breach human rights, says UN official

    • UN free speech advocate criticises UK plan to curb access to online porn

    • Dissent Is Patriotic. It’s Also a Powerful Antidote to Propaganda.
      Fifty-five years ago this January, the ACLU of Northern California was busy filling orders from across the country for copies of its recently produced film, “Operation Correction.” The film was a response to a piece of Red Scare propaganda, “Operation Abolition,” which was produced by the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) and depicted civil liberties activists in San Francisco as violent “communist agents” bent on destroying the fabric of America.

      In those days, the federal government was deeply concerned with the political affiliations of ordinary Americans — if those affiliations were left-leaning.

      My own grandfather, who was a World War II veteran and affiliated with the Communist Party in San Francisco, was under FBI surveillance. In 1950, he was fired from a good union job at a glass company after FBI agents paid his employers a visit and informed them of his history as a labor organizer before the war.

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • New Video on Encrypting the Web
      Encrypting the web is a more important challenge than ever. Now, EFF has teamed up with Sandwich Video and Baratunde Thurston to explain and promote this mission via video. Sandwich is the production company behind some of the best product launch videos in tech, and you may know Baratunde from his work on The Daily Show, The Onion, and New York Times bestseller How To Be Black. We brought these creative forces together to show you why we need to continue moving from non-secure HTTP to more secure HTTPS, and how you, with EFF tech tools HTTPS Everywhere and Certbot, can help us get there.

    • Court Documents Appear To Confirm The FBI Is Using Best Buy Techs To Perform Warrantless Searches For It
      As we covered last week, the FBI has apparently been paying Best Buy Geek Squad members in exchange for tips about illegal material discovered on customers' computers. This is problematic for a couple of reasons.

      First, adding a financial incentive could lead to Best Buy employees digging around in users' computers in hopes of finding something to turn in, rather than limiting themselves to the job at hand: repairing the device.

      Second, while companies are legally obligated to report the discovery of child porn to law enforcement, this occurs as a "private search." As such, it's perfectly legal and can result in the probable cause needed to perform a forensic search of the computer, as well as (possibly) any other electronic devices the customer owns. But when the FBI turns Best Buy employees into confidential informants -- paid or not --it's no longer a private search. It's a third-party search at the government's request. The government can't task private individuals with performing warrantless searches on its behalf -- at least not if it wants to hold onto the evidence.

    • It's Official: Sixteen Government Agencies Now Have Access To Unminimized Domestic NSA Collections
      The NSA can now be used for second-hand domestic surveillance, thanks to new rules approved by President Obama that went into effect on January 3rd. Those unhappy to see Trump in control of these expanded powers have no one to thank but their outgoing president for this parting gift.

      This was first reported early last year, gathered from anonymous intelligence community sources and the now-useless PCLOB's report on the FBI's use of unminimized intelligence passed on to it by the NSA. At that point, it was mostly speculation, with the PCLOB's report being the only thing in the way of factual information. The administration was confirmed to be working towards loosening restrictions on data sharing, even as the FBI was swearing it was tightening up control of its own use of unminimized data.

      As the New York Times reports, this change in rules on data-sharing is now in place, as confirmed by a declassified copy of the new procedures [PDF] released to the paper.
    • ePrivacy: Commission's weak proposal forecasts harsh debates
      On Tuesday 10 January, the European Commission put forward a series of new texts on personal data protection in the EU. It includes the upcoming ePrivacy Regulation which will frame the confidendiality and security of our electronic communications, as well as the famous internet cookies, among other things. Before the legislative process had even started, lobbies from the digital industry and telecom operators collaborated closely to water down as much as possible the reform that was supposed to not only provide better security and confidentiality to electronic communications, but also to give users control of their data back. Nonetheless, civil society has not had its last word just yet. In the coming months, we are set to engage in a harsh legislative battle to make the ePrivacy a really ambitious Regulation that protects our rights and freedoms.

    • New Windows 10 privacy controls: Just a little snooping – or the max
      Microsoft has built an online dashboard of privacy controls in an attempt to soothe lingering anger over Windows 10 and its ability to phone home people's private information.

      The new web portal lists some of the personal data that is collected from PCs and devices and sent back to Redmond, and allows people to somewhat limit the snooping. Meanwhile, Microsoft will also tweak Windows 10's built-in privacy controls, giving Home and Pro users a choice between some system surveillance or full-blown system surveillance.

      It's the software giant's way of dampening last year's outcry over its silent slurping of telemetry data from people's machines. The changes are also a result of Switzerland's data protection watchdog threatening to prosecute Microsoft for allegedly breaking Swiss privacy law with its Windows telemetry. Redmond promised to modify its software worldwide to avoid any trouble, and that has satisfied the Swiss: the privacy regulator this week dropped its investigation.

      "We are continuing this commitment to make it as easy as possible for you to make informed choices about your privacy with Windows 10," Terry Myerson, executive veep of Microsoft's Windows and Devices group, blogged on Tuesday. "With that in mind, in the Creators Update, we are making some changes by simplifying the privacy settings themselves and improving the way we present the privacy settings to you."
    • Obama Just Made It Easier For Trump To Use NSA Data Against Americans
      With just over a week left until Inauguration Day, the Obama administration has alarmed privacy advocates by significantly weakening rules that prevent the troves of raw data collected about American citizens by the National Security Agency’s dragnet surveillance programs from being shared with other U.S. agencies.

    • Thanks, Obama: NSA to stream raw intelligence into FBI, DEA and pals

    • Obama expands the NSA's ability to share data with other agencies

    • Just in Time for Trump, the NSA Loosens Its Privacy Rules

    • NSA reportedly to share intercepted communications with other agencies

    • Obama Expands Surveillance Powers on His Way Out
      With mere days left before President-elect Donald Trump takes the White House, President Barack Obama’s administration just finalized rules to make it easier for the nation’s intelligence agencies to share unfiltered information about innocent people.

      New rules issued by the Obama administration under Executive Order 12333 will let the NSA—which collects information under that authority with little oversight, transparency, or concern for privacy—share the raw streams of communications it intercepts directly with agencies including the FBI, the DEA, and the Department of Homeland Security, according to a report today by the New York Times.
    • N.S.A. Gets More Latitude to Share Intercepted Communications
      In its final days, the Obama administration has expanded the power of the National Security Agency to share globally intercepted personal communications with the government’s 16 other intelligence agencies before applying privacy protections.

      The new rules significantly relax longstanding limits on what the N.S.A. may do with the information gathered by its most powerful surveillance operations, which are largely unregulated by American wiretapping laws. These include collecting satellite transmissions, phone calls and emails that cross network switches abroad, and messages between people abroad that cross domestic network switches.

      The change means that far more officials will be searching through raw data. Essentially, the government is reducing the risk that the N.S.A. will fail to recognize that a piece of information would be valuable to another agency, but increasing the risk that officials will see private information about innocent people.

    • Finally Revealed: Cloudflare Has Been Fighting NSL for Years
      Like EFF’s other client, CREDO, Cloudflare took a stand against the FBI’s use of unilateral, perpetual NSL gag orders that resulted in a secret court battle stretching several years and counting. The litigation—seeking a ruling that the NSL power is unconstitutional—continues, but we’re pleased that we can at long last publicly applaud Cloudflare for fighting on behalf of its customers. Now more than ever we need the technology community to stand with users in the courts. We hope others will follow Cloudflare’s example.
    • Cloudflare's transparency report reveals secret FBI subpoena

      Tech titans like Google and Apple aren't the only ones that receive government requests for customer information -- lesser-known companies like Cloudflare get them, as well. The service, which makes websites load faster, has revealed that it's been fighting a national security letter (NSL) from the FBI since 2013 in its latest transparency report. NSLs are subpoenas the government hands out when it wants to gather information for national security purposes. It also comes with a gag order, which is why the company wasn't able to include the information in previous transparency reports.

    • Florida PD's Stingray Documents Oddly Don't Mention Stingrays Once
      Curtis Waltman, filing his public records request through MuckRock, has obtained several hundred pages of documents related to IMSI catchers/Stingray devices from the Sarasota (FL) Police Department. There are a handful of interesting aspects about this haul, not the least of which is the fact that US Marshals basically raided the Sarasota PD's office in 2014 to remove Stingray-related documents ahead of the ACLU's scheduled examination of the files.

      What's been obtained by Waltman is presumably part of the stash the Marshals didn't take. The other interesting fact is that there is no reference whatsoever to Stingray devices or IMSI catchers in the documents, despite that being specifically what was requested.
    • Indonesia’s First Billion-Dollar Startup Races to Kill Cash [Ed: war on anonymity]
      Go-Jek became Indonesia’s first billion-dollar startup by offering ride-hailing services that became ubiquitous in the country. Now the company is planning a second act in digital payments amid rising competition from local rival Grab and Uber Technologies Inc.

      Go-Jek, backed by Sequoia Capital, KKR & Co. and Warburg Pincus, rolled out the technology in April to let customers pay for rides and other services with digital payments instead of cash. Since then, the Go-Pay service has grown to account for more than 50 percent of the company’s transactions, according to Chief Executive Officer Nadiem Makarim.

    • Regulators criticize banks for lending Uber $1.15 billion
      Federal regulators criticized several Wall Street banks over the handling of a $1.15 billion loan they helped arrange for Uber this past summer, according to people with knowledge of the matter.

      Led by Morgan Stanley, the banks helped the ride-sharing network tap the leveraged loan market in July for the first time, persuading institutional investors to focus on its lofty valuation and established markets rather than its losses in countries such as China and India.

    • Mystery Hackers Blow Up Secret NSA Hacking Tools in ‘Final F--k You’

    • Shadow Brokers give up NSA tools auction and opts for January sale instead

    • NSA-leaking Shadow Brokers lob Molotov cocktail before exiting world stage

    • Shadow Brokers abandon NSA cyberweapons sale publicly leaking hacking tools

    • Hacking Group Releases Files, Says It Is Ceasing Operations

    • Hacker group Shadow Brokers retires after failing to sell NSA exploits

    • Shadow Brokers Announce Retirement After Failed Attempts to Sell Their Hacking Tools

    • NSA hackers to stop selling stolen cyber weaponry

    • Shadow Brokers Calls It Quits After Failing To Get Buyers For NSA Exploits

    • NSA Exploit Peddlers The Shadow Brokers Call It Quits

    • Suspected NSA tool hackers dump more cyberweapons in farewell

    • The Shadow Brokers call it quits, release free Windows hacks

    • Shadow Brokers leak NSA-linked Microsoft hacking tools

    • Shadow Brokers quit operation; giving away free Windows hacking tools

    • Shadow Brokers spew Windows hack tools after exploit auction flop

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Chelsea Manning on Obama's 'shortlist' to commute prison sentence – report
      Chelsea Manning, the army soldier who leaked state secrets in 2010 and has been imprisoned longer than any other official leaker in US history, has called on President Obama to show her clemency in the final days of his presidency, saying that this amounts to her last chance for freedom “for a very long time”.

    • Center Victorious in ‘Clockboy’ Lawsuit Aimed at Suppressing Free Speech, Defeating Sharia-Supremacism
      The Center for Security Policy commended today the judiciary of Texas for upholding that state’s commitment to freedom of speech by dismissing a frivolous lawsuit aimed at punishing the Center for Security Policy and its Executive Vice President, Jim Hanson for exercising that constitutional right.

      The suit alleging defamation was brought last year by Mohammed Mohammed, the father of Ahmed, widely known as the “Clock Boy,” after the latter brought a clock device resembling a bomb to his school in 2016. It sought damages from the Center and its EVP in response to public statements made by Mr. Hanson, a former Green Beret, noting the resemblance of the younger Mohammed’s self-declared “invention” to a bomb. The plaintiffs also took exception to Mr. Hanson’s opinions regarding the potential motivations of the Mohammed family and Islamist groups like the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) that actively promoted the Clock Boy’s claims that he was a victim of discrimination and Islamophobia.

    • Federal Agents Arrest a Former Guatemalan Soldier Charged With Massacring Civilians
      Advancing an investigation that has spanned two continents and three decades, U.S. federal agents have arrested a Guatemalan immigrant suspected of involvement in the massacre of about 250 villagers in 1982 during Guatemala’s civil war.

      Jose Mardoqueo Ortiz Morales, 54, was arrested at his home in Hyattsville, Maryland, last Friday, Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials said Tuesday. Ortiz is a legal permanent resident of the United States who worked in a mail room at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, authorities said. He faces charges in U.S. immigration court and potential deportation to Guatemala to stand trial for one of the worst massacres in Latin American history, the officials said.

      Ortiz becomes the fifth suspect arrested in the United States for the slaughter of men, women and children in the hamlet of Dos Erres in northern Guatemala more than three decades ago. Five veterans of an elite Guatemalan commando force known as the “kaibiles” have been convicted by courts in Guatemala on charges arising from massacre. But six others have eluded capture, some of them aided by Guatemalan security forces whose power has impeded the quest for justice, according to Guatemalan and U.S. investigators.

    • Britain’s Most Undesirable Immigrant: Why Was Shai Masot Given a Visa?
      Astonishingly, the Israeli Embassy’s Senior Political Officer Shai Masot, implicated in a plot against the Deputy Foreign Minister, was not on the Foreign and Commonwealth Office’s Diplomatic List, the Bible for the status of accredited diplomats. This opens up a number of extremely important questions. Who was he, what was his visa status and why was he resident in the UK? It is very plain that the work he was doing as “Senior Political Officer” would equate normally to senior diplomatic rank.

      He was a major in the Israeli Navy – in the FCO’s own table of equivalent rank, Major equates to Second Secretary in the Diplomatic Service. After that he went on to apparently executive positions in the Ministry for Strategic Affairs, before moving to the Israeli Embassy in London. There he held many recorded meetings with politicians, including giving briefings in parliament and at party conferences, and acted in a way that in general would accord with a rank around First Secretary to Counsellor.

    • Will Dylann Roof’s Execution Bring Justice? Families of Victims Grapple With Forgiveness and Death
      The first thing you see when you walk into the home of Arthur Stephen Hurd is a row of oversized photographs of his wife, Cynthia. They are displayed along the wall on the right, placed on chairs and propped against the fireplace. In one corner is a portrait taken around the time they met. She’s in her early thirties, radiant in a colorful high-neck sweater and gold earrings. Further down is a picture from their wedding day – they wear dark, formal outfits; Cynthia beams, holding a red bouquet. Leaning on the fireplace is a photo of the pair boarding a Carnival cruise ship a year later – a trip to celebrate their anniversary. In the middle of the display is a framed picture of the luminous stained glass windows above the pulpit at Charleston’s historic Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church. This is where Cynthia died, shot to death alongside eight fellow parishioners by 21-year-old Dylann Roof in 2015.

    • James Burns Chose to Go Back Into Solitary Confinement for 30 Days, and He Livestreamed His Experience to Show the World Its Cruelty
      James Burns suffered through solitary confinement as a young man. He went back between the walls to push for its abolition.

      For the last 30 days, I was worried about James Burns.

      He was once again in solitary confinement, only this time it was of his own accord and live-streaming on VICE. As a kid and a young man, Burns repeatedly was put in solitary, and it hurt him badly. Now a journalist, Burns volunteered to go back between those four lonely walls to raise awareness and push for an end to solitary confinement in America.

      Today, Burns gets out. Today the isolation ends. Today he goes home.

    • Why President Obama Should Commute Chelsea Manning’s Sentence
      Chelsea Manning has suffered long enough. It’s time for President Obama to do the right thing and send her home.

      This morning, NBC News reported that Chelsea Manning is on President Obama’s “short list” to receive a commutation of her sentence. Chelsea applied for clemency in November, urging the president to commute her sentence to time served and give her a chance “to live [her] life outside the USDB as the person [she] was born to be.”

      With nine days left in office, action by Obama may be Chelsea’s last chance for survival.

      Seven years into her 35-year sentence, Chelsea has already served longer than any person in United States history for disclosing information to the news media. The information she disclosed served a clear public interest, helping raise awareness regarding the impact of war on innocent civilians.
    • After 15 Years, Prisoners at Guantánamo Face More Uncertainty Than Ever
      “With respect to Guantánamo,” President Obama told reporters in November, “it is true that I have not been able to close the darn thing.”

      Wednesday marks the 15th anniversary of Guantánamo’s use as a detention facility for terrorism suspects. On Inauguration Day, the prison will pass to its third president, almost eight years after Obama ordered it closed within 12 months.

      After a transfer of four Yemeni captives to Saudi Arabia last week, Guantánamo — which held nearly 780 people under President Bush — now holds 55 men. Nineteen have been approved for release to other countries, while 26 are held in indefinite detention: “forever prisoners” of the war on terror. Only 10 have been charged with a crime.

    • Top UK Cop Says Hackers Should Be Punished Not With Prison, But With Jammed WiFi Connections
      Here's a story that starts out well. One of the UK's top police officers, Chief Superintendent Gavin Thomas, has said that putting people in prison for offenses like hacking into computers makes no sense. He points out that it costs around $50,000 a year to keep someone in a traditional prison, and that education programs are likely to be a far more cost-effective solution, especially in terms of reducing recidivism. This is absolutely right, and it's great to hear a senior officer admit it. Unfortunately, things go downhill from here.


      Given his belief that jamming bracelets would stop convicted computer criminals from using the Internet, the worry has to be that he shares the mistaken view that tech companies can create a safe system of crypto backdoors or "golden keys" that only the authorities can use. Let's hope he takes some expert advice before offering an opinion on that one.
    • Cop Objects To Editorial About Community Policing, Sets Fire To 20-Year Career In Response

      Well, that would appear to align with Wolff's stated desire to be fired. With twenty years on the force, Wolff likely has a pension locked up and would probably be given the option to resign, which means taxpayers will continue paying a former public servant that has zero respect for them for the next several years.

      As for the article that started it all, it simply makes the same point that could be made in nearly any major city: it's tougher to build relationships with the communities you serve while living as far away as you can from them. It's a problem everywhere and frankly, there's not much to be done about it. Coaxing, pleading, offering housing, etc. are about the limit of what city governments can do to help close this gap between the police and the policed. Anything else places tremendous restrictions on officers' freedoms. True, communities may be better served by officers with closer ties to the people they police, but mandating this would create larger rifts by adding a whole bunch of resentment and anger to the mix. In other words, the public would get Officer Wolff, who somehow maintains this level of anger and resentment despite living miles away from the neighborhood he works in.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • Why Marsha Blackburn’s Rise Is Bad News for Net Neutrality and Science
      Big Telecom’s best friend in Congress just got a very big promotion.

      Rep. Marsha Blackburn, the arch-conservative Tennessee Republican who has received mountains of campaign cash from the telecom industry, has been chosen by the GOP to lead a key Congressional subcommittee with broad jurisdiction over cable, phone, and internet issues.

      For years, Blackburn has worked tirelessly to undermine pro-consumer policies advanced by the Federal Communications Commission—policies that have invariably been opposed by the very corporate giants that have poured hundreds of thousands of dollars into her campaign coffers.

      In particular, Blackburn has waged a relentless campaign against the FCC’s policy safeguarding net neutrality, the principle that all internet content should be equally accessible, which she has disparaged as “socialistic.” She has also opposed efforts to promote community broadband networks, to make internet access more affordable for underserved communities, to increase competition in the video “set-top box” market, and to protect consumer privacy from broadband industry abuses.

    • FCC Report Clearly Says AT&T & Verizon Are Violating Net Neutrality -- And Nobody Is Going To Do A Damn Thing About It
      When the FCC was crafting net neutrality rules, it refused to ban zero rating -- or the practice of giving an ISP's own content an unfair advantage by exempting it from usage caps. At the time we noted how this would open the door to all manner of anti-competitive shenanigans, and that's precisely what happened. Before we knew it, AT&T, Verizon and Comcast were all zero rating their own content while still penalizing streaming competitors, documenting how companies can abuse the lack of broadband competition to impose unnecessary and arbitrary caps -- then use those caps as an anti-competitive weapon.

      This is not "free market competition." It's duopolists using their domination over the broadband last mile to hamstring emerging new markets and competitive threats. Caps aren't necessary. They don't actually even help manage congestion. Caps and overage fees are glorified, confusing and arbitrary price hikes that let incumbent broadband mono/duopolists extract additional revenues from captive customers, with the added bonus of hamstringing streaming market competitors.

  • DRM

    • Wireless Headphone Sales Soared After Apple Dropped Headphone Jack
      Apple's decision to remove the headphone jack from new iPhones last year prompted lots of consumers to switch to wireless headphones, according to a new report on holiday shopping.

      Three-quarters of all headphones sold online in December were wireless models, up from 50% a year earlier, according to shopping tracker Slice Intelligence. Apple was the biggest beneficiary of the shift, as both its new AirPods earphones and models from its Beats subsidiary led the sales charts.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Copyrights

      • Software Copyright Litigation After Oracle v. Google
        Many observers, including me, predicted that the 2014 decision of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (“CAFC”) in Oracle America v. Google would provoke a new wave of litigation concerning copyright and interoperability. In particular, we worried that the decision would encourage dominant vendors to bring copyright claims against competitors that replicated interface specifications for the purpose of interoperating with the dominant vendors’ products. We were right.

        Sure enough, Oracle America has factored into at least four cases so far. One of these cases settled, one is on appeal, and the other two likely will be appealed in the near future. The latter two cases also involve patent claims, so appeals will be heard by the CAFC. (The CAFC has nearly exclusive appellate jurisdiction over cases with patent claims.) One can assume that the plaintiffs added the patent claims to ensure CAFC jurisdiction.

      • La Quadrature du Net calls to support the campaign #SaveTheLink!
        A group of MEPs of all political orientations, including Julia Reda, representative of the Pirate Party, calls on citizens to mobilize to prevent the introduction of dangerous measures in European copyright reform. Their campaign "Save the Link!" aims to preserve our ability to share information on the Internet, by preserving the freedom to make hypertext links and preventing widespread automated filtering of contents. La Quadrature du Net calls for support of this campaign to prevent the copyright reform from leading to further incursion on our freedoms.

      • “Everyone Made Themselves the Hero.” Remembering Aaron Swartz
        On January 18, 2012, the Internet went dark. Hundreds of websites went black in protest of the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the PROTECT IP Act (PIPA). The bills would have created a “blacklist” of censored websites based on accusations of copyright infringement. SOPA was en route to quietly passing. But when millions of Americans complained to their members of Congress, support for the bill quickly vanished. We called it the Internet at its best.

        As we approach the fifth anniversary of the blackout, we also note a much sadder anniversary. A year after we beat SOPA, we lost one of the most active organizers behind the opposition. While being unfairly prosecuted under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, Aaron Swartz took his own life on January 11, 2013.

        When you look around the digital rights community, it’s easy to find Aaron’s fingerprints all over it. He and his organization Demand Progress worked closely with EFF to stop SOPA. Long before that, he played key roles in the development of RSS, RDF, and Creative Commons. He railed hard against the idea of government-funded scientific research being unavailable to the public, and his passion continues to motivate the open access community. Aaron inspired Lawrence Lessig to fight corruption in politics, eventually fueling Lessig’s White House run.

      • Aaron Swartz and me, over a loosely intertwined decade
        I don’t remember the first time I heard about Aaron Swartz. It probably was from reading Dave Winer’s blog more than 10 years ago when I was an undergraduate at UC Berkeley. The guy effused glowingly about Swartz as a young teenager.

        “Aaron is the brightest 13 year old I've ever met on the Internet,” Winer wrote in February 2001. “It's not just bit smarts, he marshals power very well and is persistent. Eventually you come around to his way of thinking, or he comes around to yours. These are the essential ingredients in good technology. We're looking for the right answer, not to be proven right, or to prove the other guy wrong.”

      • The entire modern copyright was built on one fundamental assumption that the Internet has reversed
        When copyright was reinstated in 1710, the justification was that of publishing being many orders of magnitude more expensive than authoring, and so without it, nothing would get published. But the Internet has reversed this assumption completely: publishing is now many orders of magnitude cheaper than writing the piece you want to publish.

        The copyright monopoly, as we know, was created on May 4, 1557, when Queen Mary I introduced a complete censorship of dissenting political opinions and prevented them from being printed (and thus the “right to copy” was born as a privilege within a guild, by banning all wrongthinkers of the time from expressing ideas). This stands in contrast to France’s attempt at banning the printing press entirely by penalty of death in at least two aspects: One, England’s suppression was successful, and two, the suppression has survived (albeit mutating) to present day.

      • Public consultation on Building the European data economy
        Data has become an essential resource for economic growth, job creation and societal progress. Data analysis facilitates better decision-making, innovation and the prediction of future events. Europe aims to exploit this potential without infringing the rights and freedoms of people or damaging economic investments made into generating data. Within this context, the Commission aims to foster an efficient, competitive single market for data services including cloud-based ones. It needs to identify the legal, economic, and regulatory challenges, and to launch a discussion with stakeholders on future action.

      • No ‘copyright’ on raw data!
        In its Communication on Building a European Data Economy, the European Commission is taking steps towards a new copyright-like protection for raw data (“Data producer’s right”, pg. 13). This is the final bad idea Günther Oettinger submitted as parting digital Commissioner – it would have far-reaching dire consequences and must be rejected.

        This idea would protect any series of ones and zeros like creative works are protected today. This would create immense transactional costs and huge legal uncertainty for anyone creating and re-using data, such as researchers or innovative startups. Dealing with pure data such as access logs, sensor data or measurements would become as complex as dealing with copyrighted works is today.

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