Bonum Certa Men Certa

Links 13/3/2017: Linux 4.11 RC2, SteamVR Experiments on GNU/Linux

GNOME bluefish



Free Software/Open Source

  • How to grow healthy open source project infrastructures
    In 2013 I joined the OpenStack Infrastructure team. In the four years I spent with the team, I learned a considerable amount about the value of hosting an infrastructure for an open source project in the open itself.

    In 2014 I gave a talk at All Things Open and was interviewed by Jason Baker about how we'd done our systems administration in the open. My involvement on this team led me to advocate for systems administrators to use revision control and learn about tools for working with a distributed team. At the OpenStack Summit in Austin in 2016, our team did a talk on navigating the open source OpenStack Infrastructure.

    The leadership of the OpenStack project in the space of open source infrastructures inevitably led us to encounter other open source projects that were similarly open sourcing their entire, or portions of, the infrastructure used in their project. In February of 2016, I launched to begin tracking these infrastructures. The source for this site is hosted on GitLab, and we've seen a steady increase in merge proposals to add new projects over the past several months.

  • Events

  • Web Browsers

    • Surf Demystified

      Surf is a simple, lightweight browser from Suckless Tools, the same people who brought you dmenu and dwm. When compiled and configured right, Surf is incredibly robust and stable, able to handle most websites extremely well, and it has a clean and simple layout without buttons and bars to encroach on the web material you're reading. Unfortunately, Surf is underdocumented, so most who try Surf give up after a few minutes, moving on to Firefox or Chromium or Palemoon or Midori. This web page serves as the needed documentation to make Surf a pleasure to work with.

      Surf gains a new credibility and significance now (2017), because in 2017, most browsers have declined in stability and performance, over the last several years, to the point where several of them are unusable on various distros. ...

    • Chrome

    • Mozilla

      • When the memory allocator works against you
        Cloning mozilla-central with git-cinnabar requires a lot of memory. Actually too much memory to fit in a 32-bits address space.

        I hadn’t optimized for memory use in the first place. For instance, git-cinnabar keeps sha-1s in memory as hex values (40 bytes) rather than raw values (20 bytes). When I wrote the initial prototype, it didn’t matter that much, and while close(ish) to the tipping point, it didn’t require more than 2GB of memory at the time.

        Time passed, and mozilla-central grew. I suspect the recent addition of several thousands of commits and files has made things worse.

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice

    • Collabora Rolls Out CODE 2.0 Update
      Collabora has announced an update to their Online Development Edition 2.0 platform.

      Collabora Online Development Edition 2.0 is part of the consulting firm's effort around improving LibreOffice Online. CODE 2.0 can be deployed via Docker for easily hosting your own online office suite. Those unfamiliar with CODE and its relation to LibreOffice Online can learn more via the project page.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

  • Funding

    • GNU Toolchain now accepting donations with the support of the Free Software Foundation
      The Free Software Foundation (FSF) is now accepting donations to support the GNU Toolchain, a collection of foundational freely licensed software development tools. Many pieces of software depend upon the GNU Toolchain, including the GNU/Linux family of operating systems which runs the majority of Web servers, millions of personal devices and the most advanced supercomputers.

    • SPI Inc Ended 2016 Managing 2.48 Million USD For Open-Source Projects
      For those curious, here is how much various open-source projects have in the bank.

      SPI Inc, Software in the Public Interest, is the non-profit organization serving as the organizational steward for many open-source projects from Arch Linux and Debian to recently X.Org. SPI Inc also manages the finances for smaller projects like Drizzle, GNUstep, YafaRay, HeliOS, Fluxbox, and many others. Those that somehow never heard of SPI Inc can learn more about their efforts via

  • BSD

    • DragonFlyBSD 4.8 Up To Release Candidate Phase
      A few hours ago, DragonFlyBSD 4.8 RC was tagged. This is a significant update with the changes to DragonFly since the 4.6 release last August. DragonFly in this time has seen improved UEFI installation support, NUMA-awareness and memory changes, updated DRM graphics driver code, expanded LibreSSL support, dropped PulseAudio, and many other changes.

    • Intel To Increase Engagement With FreeBSD, Makes $250k Donation
      Intel is going to more actively engage with the FreeBSD project and they've also made a hefty donation to the FreeBSD Foundation.


    • GNU Health, openSUSE Pioneer Shift in Healthcare Management
      The GNU Health Project is one of many noble open-source projects and the openSUSE Project is pleased to announce it has donated 10 Raspberry Pis to help expand the use and development of the project on affordable ARM hardware.

      GNU Health, which is a non-profit, non-government organizations (NGO), delivers free open-source software for health practitioners, health institutions and governments worldwide.

  • Programming/Development

    • Favored Swift hits the charts: Now in top 10 programming languages
      In March, the Swift programming language rose to became the 10th most popular, at least by the measure of TIOBE Software.

      Open-sourced by Apple in 2015, Swift has been touted as an appealing alternative to better-established programming languages because of its safety, speed, and approachable syntax. It combines modern language features like garbage collection and type safety with readability, not to mention decent documentation.

      Swift is also ranked 10 in the PYPL Index, which derives its data from Google Trends. RedMonk's ranking from 2016 shows Swift a bit further back in the pack.


      Swift also happens to top GitHub's list of programming languages being actively developed on the site (which of course omits development activity elsewhere).


  • [Old] Daylight Saving Time is hot garbage

    This story was originally published on March 12, 2016. It has been updated to include video but has not otherwise been edited as Daylight Saving Time remains trash.

  • EMU students: Don't spend tuition money on new football facility [iophk: "dumbing down of USA continues"]

    "Over the course of the last several years Eastern Michigan University has been forced to make a series of incredibly tough cuts to many academic and student programs," the student government letter said. "Meanwhile, the athletics department has enjoyed generous increases to its budget. These priorities are misplaced."

  • [Old] Why Nothing Works Anymore

    Most of these failures don’t seem like failures, because users have so internalized their methods that they apologize for them in advance.

  • [Old] Code-Dependent: Pros and Cons of the Algorithm Age

    Algorithms are often elegant and incredibly useful tools used to accomplish tasks. They are mostly invisible aids, augmenting human lives in increasingly incredible ways. However, sometimes the application of algorithms created with good intentions leads to unintended consequences. Recent news items tie to these concerns ...

  • Eight major announcements at Google Cloud Next 2017: Customer wins, partnerships, machine learning and more

  • Science

  • Health/Nutrition

    • 6 Ways Living In The Big City Is Secretly {sic} Killing You

      Research by the Center For Disease Control shows "over 40 percent of the states that reported lead test results in 2014 have higher rates of lead poisoning among children than Flint." And the good news doesn't stop there. According to the World Health Organization, exposure to lead causes irreversible and significant behavioral and developmental problems in children that affect them throughout their lives.

    • Americans’ sex lives have gone limp—lovemaking fell ~15% since the ’90s
      American adults reported having nine fewer romps a year in the early 2010s than they did in the late 1990s—dropping from an average of about 62 times a year between 1995 and 2000 to around 53 a year between 2010 and 2014. Researchers saw declines across ages, races, religions, education levels, employment statuses, and regions. They linked the sagging numbers to two trends: an increase in singletons over that period—who tend to have less sex than married or partnered people—plus a slow-down in the sex lives of married and coupled people. But the drivers of those trends are still unclear.

      The study is based on data from a long-standing national survey called the General Social Survey (GSS). It involves a nationally representative sample of Americans over 18 years old, surveyed most years between 1972 and 2014. The new study involved responses from 26,620 Americans.

    • Industry tracker: Bottled water overtakes pop in U.S.

    • Nestle wants more Michigan water

      some experts note that because Ice Mountain water is shipped out of state, it's not returned to the water table

    • WHO: Environmental Pollution Kills 1.7M Children Under Five Every Year
      Environmental pollution kills more than 1 in 4 children under the age of five every year - that's 1.7 million children worldwide.

      The World Health Organization warns these child deaths will increase dramatically if action is not taken to reduce environmental risks.

      WHO examines the impact of harmful environments on children’s health and offers solutions in two new studies, “Inheriting a Sustainable World: Atlas on Children’s Health and the Environment” and a companion report, “Don’t pollute my future! The impact of the environment on children’s health.”

      The authors agree that air pollution is the biggest killer and is responsible for 6.5 million premature deaths every year, including nearly 600,000 deaths among children under age five.

    • Up to two years for Flint to have clean water
      It could take another two years to end the water crisis in Flint, Michigan.

      Mayor Karen Weaver wrote this week that the city won't be able to treat its drinking water until August 2019.

      Flint's drinking water contained dangerous levels of lead after the city switched its water source three years ago.

    • Flint water cost to rise as state ends subsidy
      In Flint, Michigan, residents still must use a filter to drink tap water, but the cost of that water will soon increase. The state is ending a subsidy program that reduced customers’ water bills after Flint's water was contaminated with lead in 2014. Michigan Radio reporter Steve Carmody joins Hari Sreenivasan from Flint to discuss.

  • Security

    • Apache Struts Vulnerability Under Attack
      An easy to exploit remote code execution flaw discovered in the widely used open-source Apache Struts 2 framework has been patched, but that's not stopping attackers from attempting to exploit vulnerable systems.

      The open-source Apache Struts 2 technology is a widely used framework component in Java applications and it's currently under attack. The attacks follow the March 6 disclosure by the Struts project for a Remote Code Execution (RCE) vulnerability identified as CVE-2017-5638.

    • An insecure mess: How flawed JavaScript is turning web into a hacker's playground
      An analysis of over 133,000 websites has found that 37 percent of them have at least one JavaScript library with a known vulnerability.

      Researchers from Northeastern University have followed up on research in 2014 that drew attention to potential security risks caused by loading outdated versions of JavaScript libraries, such as such as jQuery, and the AngularJS framework in the browser.

    • The Big Hack - the Day Cars Drove Themselves Into Walls and the Hospitals Froze

      I have decided to submit a story from the hypothetical future, published by New York Magazine 9 months ago, one that I picked while browsing whatever I missed since my last visit on Schneier on security.

    • Pennsylvania Senate Democrats resist ransom in cyberattack [iophk: "Microsoft on site to prevent defection"]

      Microsoft was doing a forensic audit to try to figure out who penetrated the network and how...

    • Security firm issues patch for another Windows 0-day

      A security firm that issued a patch for a Windows zero-day vulnerability last week has done a repeat, this time for a vulnerability that potentially allows arbitrary remote code execution in Internet Explorer 11.

    • Students to go head to head in cyber games competition [iophk: "cyber, cyber, cyber, cyber, ..."]

    • SCALE 15x Keynote: Karen Sandler - In the Scheme of Things, How Important is Software Freedom?

    • Church of England puts a stop to ransomware with Darktrace
      Attackers certainly were getting in: up until Jennings bumped into Darktrace at a trade show, the Church was being hit with ransomware attacks, as many as three or four in the space of six to eight weeks. In all instances the problem was internal – Jennings admits that IT literacy is not particularly high in the organisation – usually through a malicious email.

    • Australian start-up testing new online voting system [Ed: Another terrible idea; see Vault 7; everything has back doors. Use paper.]

      An Australian start-up that is currently testing what it says is the biggest dry run of an electronic voting system is confident that it can gradually make headway into getting its system taken up in the country.

      XO.1 is in the process of running a 24-hour stress test of its SecureVote system using the bitcoin blockchain network. The test began at 2am AEST this morning.
    • The Nintendo Switch already hacked through a known vulnerability?
      It appears that the not-so-well hidden Nintendo Switch browser shipped with a bunch of old vulnerabilities that hackers were able to leverage. Yesterday, hacker qwertyoruiop (known for Jailbreaks of multiple iOS versions, and who also contributed to the PS4 1.76 Jailbreak) posted a screenshot of what seems to be a Webkit exploit running on the Nintendo Switch.

    • Linux: fix an existing bug for 11 years in the Kernel
    • Security, Consumer Reports, and Failure
      As one can imagine there were a fair number of “they’ll get it wrong” sort of comments. They will get it wrong, at first, but that’s not a reason to pick on these guys. They’re quite brave to take this task on, it’s nearly impossible if you think about the state of security (especially consumer security). But this is how things start. There is no industry that has gone from broken to perfect in one step. It’s a long hard road when you have to deal with systemic problems in an industry. Consumer product security problems may be larger and more complex than any other industry has ever had to solve thanks to things such as globalization and how inexpensive tiny computers have become.

    • Consumer Reports to Begin Evaluating Products, Services for Privacy and Data Security

      The standard as it’s now written is a first draft. We hope that everyone from engineers to industry groups to concerned parents will get involved in shaping future versions of it. We’ve placed the standards on GitHub, a website that’s widely used by software developers to share ideas and work on group projects. Because GitHub can be hard for newcomers to navigate, we’ve also built a website that has the same information.

  • Defence/Aggression

    • ICE detainees are asking to be put in solitary confinement for their own safety

      The logs show that life inside the facilities can be so dangerous and hostile that numerous detainees have voluntarily admitted themselves to solitary confinement just to seek refuge from the general population.

    • The Coming War On China
      Peter and Mickey spend the hour looking at “The Coming War On China,” the latest film from the prolific documentarian John Pilger. The film looks at the untold history of U.S.-China relations, the Pacific military buildup by both countries, and life in China today. The first half of this week’s show presents audio excerpts from the film, then in the second half, John Pilger joins the program for an interview.

    • Dreams of ‘Winning’ Nuclear War on Russia
      Official Washington’s anti-Russian hysteria has distorted U.S. politics while also escalating risks of a nuclear war as U.S. war planners dream of “winning” a first-strike attack on Russia, reports Jonathan Marshall.

    • Assad's Control Erodes as Warlords Gain Upper Hand
      On a cool morning, an elderly man is standing at his espresso machine on a street in eastern Aleppo. It's shortly after 8 a.m., and this part of the city -- destroyed in the war and reconquered by the regime in December -- is waking up. Green grocers arrive and set out their boxes of produce on the rubble piled in front of their stores. Others are shoveling debris from the roads.

      The name of the man with the espresso machine must go unmentioned, otherwise he would soon be dead. A fire is burning in a metal drum next to his improvised coffee counter, and he is using it to periodically warm his hands. Several weeks ago, just after the neighborhood was retaken, he returned to the small workshop where he had run a motorcycle repair shop -- but it was already too late. He immediately saw that someone had shot open the lock.

    • The Deep State and the Dark Arts
      We should note the importance of the media in all this storyline, albeit fictional. The dark arts of propaganda aren’t overtly mentioned, but they are the pivotal tools that will animate the destruction of Bob’s career. All sound strangely familiar? It should. It’s pretty much the script the intelligence community uses as its modus operandi when it needs to deal with an inconvenient public servant.

    • New Evidence Contradicts Pentagon’s Account of Yemen Raid, But General Closes the Case
      The Pentagon’s top Middle East commander told Congress on Thursday that he found no signs of “poor decision-making or bad judgment” in a January raid in Yemen that killed 10 children and at least six women, as well as Navy SEAL William “Ryan” Owens.

      “I made the determination that there was no need for an additional investigation into this particular operation,” said Gen. Joseph Votel.

      Earlier on Thursday, The Intercept published its own investigation of the raid based on eyewitnesses, including a 5-year-old who described how his mother was gunned down while trying to flee what other family members said was indiscriminate gunfire from a helicopter.

    • Rocks thrown through local pastor's window after Zoning Board knocks down Muslim community center

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • Earth's oceans are warming 13% faster than thought, and accelerating

      One main outcome of the study is that it shows we are warming about 13% faster than we previously thought. Not only that but the warming has accelerated. The warming rate from 1992 is almost twice as great as the warming rate from 1960. Moreover, it is only since about 1990 that the warming has penetrated to depths below about 700 meters.

    • Pruitt Emails Reveal Communications with ALEC and Koch Groups
      Emails released to the Center for Media and Democracy (CMD) reveal close ties between Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, the Koch-funded American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), and the fossil fuel interests that fund ALEC, including the Kochs' Americans for Prosperity Group.

      The emails were obtained after the Center for Media and Democracy filed an open records lawsuit against Pruitt for his two-year-long failure to respond to our open records requests for his email correspondence with major fossil fuel corporations. The court ordered Pruitt to release thousands of emails which are now online and available for public inspection, but CMD is still in court seeking to obtain 1,600 pages withheld and responses to eight additional open records requests.

    • iGreenpeace to take Indonesian forestry ministry to Supreme Court over environmental data

      Greenpeace wants the ministry to release a range of data pertaining to the management of the country’s natural resources, especially in the forestry, agribusiness and mining sectors. Much of the data is already available as PDF and JPEG files, but Greenpeace is specifically seeking it in the [original] shapefile (SHP) format.

    • The climate change lawsuit the Trump administration is desperate to stop going to trial

      The lawsuit – the first of its kind – argues the federal government has violated the constitutional right of the 21 plaintiffs to a healthy climate system.

    • Standing Rock’s Next Stand

      It’s worth noting that the same afternoon officers cleared the camp, North Dakota governor Doug Burman signed into law three bills that will seriously impact future protests: they expanded criminal trespass laws, scaled up criminal penalties for rioting, and criminalized wearing masks and hoods while violating the law (though nearly everyone covers their faces and heads outdoors during the long and frigid Dakota winter).

    • Living above a century-old coal fire, Jharia residents pay the price for India’s mining ambitions

    • EPA chief clings to his own fantasy by denying overwhelming evidence on CO2 and climate change

      For years, the fossil fuel industry has worked to stir doubt about climate science, give credibility to climate deniers, and sway public opinion — much like the tobacco industry did with lung cancer. Pruitt has done the same.

    • Protesters urge LA to sever ties w/ Wells Fargo over Dakota Access Pipeline

      "We're encouraging the city of L.A. to end their relationship with Wells Fargo and to adopt a new responsible banking ordinance that will raise a higher standard for the kind of banks that we do business with," protester David Calvillo said.

    • Cops get warrant to search an anti-Dakota Access Pipeline Facebook page

      On February 16, the Whatcom County Sheriff’s Department obtained a search warrant from the county to search the Bellingham NoDAPL Coalition’s Facebook page. In particular, the department wants “messages, photos, Videos, wall posts and Location information (IP address login)” connected to the account.

    • Poachers kill rhino for his horn at French zoo

    • Poachers intercept tagging signals to hunt down endangered animals

    • 'Parched' Chinese city plans to pump water from Russian lake via 1,000km pipeline [iophk: "removed from the watershed region means drained forever"]

      ...facing a calamitous shortage thanks to urbanisation, over-use, wastage and pollution.

    • [Older] The Dakota Access Pipeline, Environmental Injustice, and U.S. Colonialism

    • Suppressed memo shows many failings in Corps review of Dakota Access plan

      Their data indicates that since 1996, there has been an average of over 283 such incidents per year, with total annual incidents trending upward since 2013.

    • American Indians gather in D.C. for four-day protest against Trump, Dakota Access pipeline

      Starting Tuesday, tribal members and supporters plan to camp each day on the National Mall, with teepees, a ceremonial fire, cultural workshops and speakers. Native American leaders also plan to lobby lawmakers to protect tribal rights.

      On Friday, a march of about 2 miles is planned from the Army Corps of Engineers office to the White House, where a rally is scheduled.

    • Indonesian Palm Oil’s Stranded Assets: 10 Million Football Fields

    • Indonesia’s Palm Oil Landbank Expansion Limited By Proposed Moratorium And NDPE Policies
      After 25 years of aggressive palm oil development, which saw concession areas grow from 1 million ha to 21 million ha, the Government of Indonesia is now taking steps to limit further landbank expansion. These measures come at the same time that compliance with No Deforestation, No Peat, No Exploitation (NDPE) is increasingly becoming a condition for market access and that public monitoring capacities are rapidly improving. These trends increase pressures within the Indonesian palm oil industry to seek other growth strategies.

    • Water-Bombing Choppers Bound for Riau's Forest Fires
      The National Disaster Mitigation Agency, or BNPB, will send water-bombing helicopters to Riau in Sumatra as soon as possible since dozens of fire hot spots have been detected in the province last week.

      An MI-171 helicopter, which can carry up to 5,000 liters of water, will be used to help aerial firefighters in Riau, BNPB head Willem Rampangilei said in Pekanbaru on Tuesday (28/02).

    • Satao II: One of Africa's last giant tusker elephants is killed 'with poison arrow' in Kenya
      One of Kenya’s last tusker elephants has been killed by poachers, conservationists have said.

      Satao II's body was found during a routine aerial reconnaissance by the Kenyan Wildlife Service (KWS) near the Voi river in Tsavo East National Park, according to the Tsavo Trust, a non profit conservation group which helps manage the park.

      While the cause of death is unknown, the trust said it was "believed to be from poisoned arrow".

    • With White House Embracing Climate Denial, Will Corporate Media Treat It as Science?
      If the public rollout of the Trump administration’s new EPA administrator, Scott Pruitt, is any indication, the Earth’s climate will suffer even greater, irreversible damage during the next four years. And the corporate media’s coverage of it may only make it worse.

    • Another Sign Just Came in That Tar Sands Operations Are on Life Support
      Royal Dutch Shell announced Thursday that it is selling off the majority of its tar sands assets, as its chief executive noted dwindling "societal acceptance of the energy system as we have it."

      Of the $7.25 billion deal with energy company Canadian Natural, Shell said in a statement that it will "sell all of its in-situ and undeveloped oil sands interests in Canada and reduce its share in the Athabasca Oil Sands Project (AOSP) from 60 percent to 10 percent."

    • Zoos are prisons for animals – no one needs to see a depressed penguin in the flesh
      That a zoo in Cumbria is having its licence revoked as a result of nearly 500 animals dying there over a two-year period comes as no shock – but it still slightly surprises me that anybody thinks that we should have zoos at all. The animals always look miserable in captivity. If you don’t believe me, visit a farm park. It’s as likely as not that you will see a goat, pleading with its eyes to be euthanised, while a sign on the enclosure says: “Gerry the goat is quite the character – he often plays a game in which he looks like he has been crying for many, many hours!”

      A lot of zoos play the conservation angle, which is a rationale that has been reverse engineered. That’s not really why zoos exist. Zoos exist so that we can wander round with our children and say: “No, don’t bang the glass, Timothy, he’s getting agitated,” before going home to post on Facebook about the educational day that we have had.

      The argument that zoos have educational merit might have once seemed convincing, but there is less reason to see animals in captivity than ever before. David Attenborough’s Planet Earth shows you all the animals you could ask for in their natural habitat, with added drama and narrative arcs. We are surely only a few series away from filming inside the animals, with Attenborough using his dulcet tones to give the origin story of an elephant turd. Why, then, do we need to see them in prison?

  • Finance

    • Uber Deal Giving Drivers $1 Each Fails to Win Over Judge

      Uber Technologies Inc. failed to persuade a judge to approve a settlement offering 1.6 million California drivers an average of $1.08 each to dispense with alleged labor-code violations that their lawyer earlier claimed might have been worth billions of dollars.

    • How to keep Uber from becoming a terrifying monopoly
      Uber is having a terrible spell of bad press. First came the #DeleteUber campaign, in which hundreds of thousands of users deleted their accounts after the company undermined a pro-refugee protest among taxi cab drivers at JFK airport in New York City. Then came harrowing allegations, which Uber denies, about a culture of grotesque sexism and sexual harassment from a former female Uber engineer. Then Google sued Uber for alleged patent infringement as part of its driverless car program. Then Uber CEO Travis Kalanick had to apologize after getting caught on video fighting with a driver. Most recently, The New York Times reported the company uses a tool called "Greyball" to prevent local politicians and regulators from collecting data on its service. Outrage against the company has reached a fever pitch.

    • Uber's Silicon Valley Employees May Be Looking to Jump Ship

    • Will the TPP Live on in NAFTA and RCEP?
      The collapse of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) was the worst defeat suffered by big content since we killed SOPA and PIPA five years ago. But our opponents are persistent, well-funded, and stealthy, and we can't expect them to give up that easily. So, just as they have continued to push for SOPA-like Internet censorship mechanisms in various other fora, so too we have been keeping a watchful eye for the recycling of TPP proposals into other trade negotiations. It hasn't taken long for that to happen.

    • 'The millennial side hustle,' not stable job, is the new reality for university grads

      Even though economic indicators that track employment reveal a trend toward more precarious jobs, Ellis-Hale says most of her students don't see that as their future. She didn't either, but that's how things turned out.

    • Old world squanders opportunity to tame bitcoin a little

      The American SEC, which oversees financial institutions, has rejected a bid to create a traditional trading fund (an ETF) based on bitcoin.


      It should be noted that other similar constructs, with non-American names, exist elsewhere since some time ago. For example, bitcoin is already traded as a security like this on the Stockholm Nasdaq exchange, where it was first to launch.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • There Really Was A Liberal Media Bubble

    • Trump and Brexit hurt Hungary, says liberal presidential candidate
      Donald Trump’s election and the prospect of Brexit have weakened democracy and civil society in Hungary just as campaigners are fighting against a rising tide of authoritarianism, the liberal candidate for the country’s presidential election has said.

      László Majtényi said the psychological impact of Trump’s arrival in the White House represented a greater setback for civil groups in Hungary and other former communist eastern European countries than it did in the US, where he said democracy was probably robust enough to survive.

    • Senators to White House: How Will Kushner Avoid Overlap Between Business Empire and Government Work?
      Two senators and a congressman are pressing the White House to disclose exactly how Jared Kushner will comply with conflict of interest laws.

      Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., Sen. Tom Carper, D-Del., and Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., sent a letter to the Trump administration Wednesday, prompted by our recent story that detailed how Kushner, a top aide to President Trump, is keeping parts of his family real-estate empire.

    • Democrats Now Demonize the Same Russia Policies that Obama Long Championed
      One of the most bizarre aspects of the all-consuming Russia frenzy is the Democrats’ fixation on changes to the RNC platform concerning U.S. arming of Ukraine. The controversy began in July when the Washington Post reported that “the Trump campaign worked behind the scenes last week to make sure the new Republican platform won’t call for giving weapons to Ukraine to fight Russian and rebel forces.”

    • Over 19,300 arrested in China for telecom frauds

    • Nigel Farage visits Ecuadorian Embassy, home of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange

      Farage went to the embassy Thursday morning and stayed for roughly 40 minutes, leaving around noon, according to a report by BuzzFeed. When a reporter from the site confronted Farage, he claimed that he didn’t remember why he had been at the embassy.

    • Sessions asks 46 Obama-era US attorneys to resign

    • Meet the Hundreds of Officials Trump Has Quietly Installed Across the Government

      around 520 staffers were being hired for the beachhead {sic} teams."


      The list is striking for how many former lobbyists it contains

    • Purple America Has All But Disappeared

      Of the nation’s 3,113 counties (or county equivalents), just 303 were decided by single-digit margins — less than 10 percent. In contrast, 1,096 counties fit that description in 1992, even though that election featured a wider national spread.

    • Geert Wilders labels Turkey's President Erdogan a 'dictator' as he steps back in front of the cameras

      Turkish Minister of Foreign Affairs Mevlut Cavusoglu was planning to campaign in the Netherlands to encourage Dutch-Turkish dual nationals to vote in an April referendum to expand Mr Erdogan's powers.

    • ErdoÄŸan accuses Germany of 'Nazi practices' over blocked political rallies
      The Turkish president, Recep Tayyip ErdoÄŸan, has lashed out at Germany for blocking several rallies on its soil in the run-up to a referendum in Turkey, likening its stance to Nazi practices.

      “Your practices are not different from the Nazi practices of the past,” he said of Germany at a women’s rally in Istanbul before the referendum on changes to the constitution that would bolster his powers as president.

      “I thought it’s been a long time since Germany left [Nazi practices]. We are mistaken,” he added.

    • George W. Bush Now on Right Side of Press Corps’s Nostalgia Machine

      As numerous commentators in independent media pointed out, Bush’s record in the White House should hardly be whitewashed. The Trump policies and ideologies Bush criticized were often ones his own administration had winked at or openly promoted.

      This type of post-presidency image rehabilitation is nothing new in American politics; US news media have been massaging the images of Oval Office alumni for decades. Last-guy normalization is used as a cudgel to cajole or shame the current president into adapting or rejecting any number of political policies or priorities.

    • ‘We Are Conditioned by Mass Media to Choose Up Sides’ - CounterSpin interview with Norman Solomon on Trump and Russia

    • During his political rise, Stephen K. Bannon was a man with no fixed address
      In the three years before he became Donald Trump’s chief strategist, Stephen K. Bannon lived as a virtual nomad in a quest to build a populist political insurgency.

      No presidential adviser in recent memory has followed such a mysterious, peripatetic path to the White House. It was as though he was a man with no fixed address.

    • The U.S. Government Did Not Revoke Khizr Khan’s ‘Travel Privileges’
      You remember Khizr Khan (above), the guy who used his soldier son, killed in Iraq, as a prop at the Democratic National Convention to criticize Trump’s immigration policy and help elect Hillary Clinton? Well, like all good Americans, Khan exploited his exploitation into a minor media career. He was booked to talk in Canada by a speaker’s bureau called Ramsey Talks. A decent gig — tickets ran $89 a seat.

    • Ten Things the Media Will Get Wrong About Trump’s New Executive Order on Immigration
      As Trump issues a revised Executive Order on immigration, the media is almost certain to get many things wrong in its reporting; they did with the earlier order in late January. After 24 years of doing visa and immigration work for the Department of State,

      Short version: most of what people will be very upset about this week has been U.S. policy for some time and is actually unrelated to the Trump Executive Order.

    • NY Daily News: Broken Windows ‘Works,’ and if It Hurts Immigrants–‘Too Bad’

      Unfortunately, New York–area newspapers haven’t been kind enough to return the love of demonstrators, whose defense of Trump’s media enemies is grounded in opposition to Trump and his ideas. Take the New York Daily News editorial board, which recently (3/6/17) professed its affection instead for “Broken Windows,” a controversial policing strategy that has been at the heart of a national debate around policing (, 7/3/16)—and which is now being cited as a backdoor channel for deportations, even in liberal cities like the Big Apple (, 3/1/17).

      This isn’t the first time the editorial board has jumped to defend aggressive policing tactics. The News has, to its credit, offered apologies (8/8/16) for being wrong in the past for its gloomy predictions (“City at Risk,” 8/13/13) that a 2013 federal ruling against the NYPD over its Stop and Frisk program would lead the city “back toward the ravages of lawlessness and bloodshed.” Apparently not the type of news organization to take an error as an opportunity to reflect and approach public policy more carefully, the editorial board’s latest position makes a claim it can’t back up: “Broken Windows Works and Don’t Undo It.”

    • Trump’s Talk and Anti-Semitic Acts
      Many of these threatening calls turn out to be “unprecedented” in that they used “sophisticated voice masking technology.” They also warned of bombs made with specific types of explosives. Now, white supremacist organizations with military and security professionals among their members would, plausibly, have the technology and weapons experience used in these incidents. Of course, that does not prove they are responsible, but it does put them on what must be a rather short list of possibles.

      In this regard, President Trump’s response to this affair is a curious one. In a recent press conference, he vehemently declared that “I am the least anti-Semitic person that you’ve ever seen in your entire life. [And also] the least racist person.” Then, later, he suggested that recent anti-Semitic acts were “false flag” operations coming from his “political opponents.” In other words, Trump, and his close advisers too, are suggesting that the culprits are “Democrats” who are trying to make the President and his supporters “look bad.”

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • Google eyes remote content controls for parents in YouTube Kids app

      Currently, any content restrictions need to be made in the app itself, but this new feature will seemingly let parents manage their child’s search and content settings and block videos from their own device. That means if you’re at work and your child is with a babysitter, you’ll presumably be able to see what they’re watching and shut it down if you don’t think it’s appropriate.

    • Tim Berners-Lee calls for tighter regulation of online political advertising

    • €£24,000 for a tweet? What a dark day for free speech

      And so Monroe sued. Over. A. Tweet. Someone needs to get a life, pronto. Incredibly – or not, given how skewed and authoritarian the libel laws are – she won. Today the court ordered Hopkins to pay €£24,000 in damages.

    • Jack Monroe wins Katie Hopkins libel tweet case

      Food blogger Jack Monroe has won €£24,000 damages, plus legal costs, in a libel action against columnist Katie Hopkins after a row over two tweets.

    • Facebook is still failing to remove images of child exploitation, investigation reveals
      A BBC investigation has revealed that Facebook users are continuing to exchange sexualized images of children through online groups, and the social network has come under criticism for failing to remove the obscene content. Of the 100 images that the BBC reported, Facebook removed only 18, saying that the remaining 82 did not violate its community standards. After the news organization alerted Facebook to the content, the company reported the journalists to police and cancelled an interview scheduled for last week, the BBC reports.

      Facebook said it would improve its moderation systems after a 2016 BBC investigation showed that pedophiles were exchanging child pornography through secret groups. The BBC followed up by flagging 100 images using Facebook’s “report” button. The images included photos of minors in sexualized poses, groups where users posted stolen photos of children, and pages that were created for men interested in such content. Another image showed a comment asking for child pornography under a video of child abuse.


      According to the BBC, Facebook agreed to an interview about the matter last week, on the condition that the news outlet provide examples of content that was reported and not taken down. After the BBC provided the material, Facebook reported the journalists to the UK's National Crime Agency.

    • BBC Tells Facebook About Child Porn on the Network, Facebook Reports BBC to Police

      The BBC has been investigating secret child porn rings on Facebook for years. And last week a representative from Facebook, Simon Milner, finally agreed to sit down for an interview about moderation tools on the network. There was just one condition: Facebook asked that the BBC reporters send the company images that they’d found on Facebook’s secret groups that the BBC would like to discuss.

      The BBC journalists sent Facebook the images they had flagged from private Facebook groups. And not only did Facebook cancel the interview, the company reported the journalists to the police.

    • Data Firm Says ‘Secret Sauce’ Aided Trump; Many Scoff [iophk: "every last person who fed data into FB is part of the problem"

      ...warn of a blizzard of high-tech, Facebook-optimized propaganda aimed at the American public, controlled by the people behind the alt-right hub Breitbart News...

    • Oil Company Files Bogus Libel Lawsuit Over 'Substantially True' Facebook Comment By Local Activist
      Company [allegedly] does bad stuff. Gets busted. Someone points it out online. Company sues commenter for pointing out facts because details are slightly off. That's just how oil company SG Interests rolls apparently.

      Popehat's Ken White has caught another case -- a First Amendment-rustling libel lawsuit filed in hopes of shutting a critic up. The Popehat Signal hasn't been lit, but the defendant does have a legal fund supporters can contribute to as he goes up against a presumably very well-funded opponent.

      The comment that started the whole thing actually quotes a DOJ press release, so there's a substantial amount of factual basis for the commenter's allegations -- even if the allegations aren't completely on the nose in terms of the company's settlement with the feds.

      An article about the Bureau of Land Management's cancellation of oil leases appearing on a local news site drew the attention of Peter Kolbenschlag, an activist and PR strategist. The comment SGI is suing over claims the company was fined for collusion and bid rigging.

    • Censorship at Middlebury College
      Serbian experts were not being invited to present their side. Self-described pseudo-intellectual “experts” on the Balkans who weren’t even from Yugoslavia (and in many cases had not even visited the region) were instead regurgitating US State Department agitprop to demonize the Serbian people. And there were so many of them: dermatologist (!) Philip Cohen MD, NYT columnist Anthony Lewis, journalist (later US ambassador to the UN) Samantha Power, “historian” and journalist Noel Malcolm, columnist Georgie Anne Geyer etc. etc. etc., who were giving biased/distorted presentations at esteemed academic institutions against the Serbs and advocating military action against them with little or no counterpoint. We tried in vain to challenge their distorted arguments only to find hostile conference organizers who would allow maybe a two minute response - and it had to be in the form of a question (for an hour long talk) - if we were lucky - and then shut us down once they saw that we were disrupting their carefully constructed web of distorted “information.”

    • No censorship
      On Thursday, Federal Minister for Interior Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan threatened to block all social media websites that hosted blasphemous content against Islam. He emphasised that the government would go to any extent in blocking such sites if they refused to cooperate. Nisar’s statement came soon after the Islamabad High Court (IHC) ordered to remove blasphemous content from digital media.

    • Trump Didn’t Teach Foreign Regimes to Cry ‘Fake News’–Corporate Media Did
      The general thesis of these pieces is that by taking the otherwise useful term “fake news” and haphazardly ascribing it to any media he didn’t like, Trump had opened the floodgates for “authoritarian governments” to do just that, thus watering down the “fake news” label and providing cover to oppressive regimes worldwide to do the same.

    • Why is Melanie Phillips Mainstream Acceptable?
      I have often pointed to Melanie Phillips to illustrate the fact that while left wing radical thought is excluded from mainstream media, you can be as completely mad, raving off the wall right wing as you wish, and yet still get invited onto every BBC panel or discussion series in existence. She still justifies the Iraq War. She thought Saddam did indeed have those WMDs and they were hidden in secret underground chambers underneath the Euphrates.

      Less harmlessly, Phillips employs hate speech and was praised by Anders Breivik. Sweeping anti-Muslim Phrases such as “the Islamic enemies of civilisation” come easily to her.

    • China’s internet censorship under fire – but proposal against controls gets ... censored
      Calls by members of China’s legislature and itstop advisory body for the mainland to allow more open access to the internet have increased this year, amid mounting frustration.

      During this month’s meetings of the National People’s Congress (NPC) and the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) – annual events more commonly referred to as the “two sessions” – deputies and delegates criticised the central government’s tightening of internet restrictions, despite political sensitivities ahead of a key Communist Party meeting this autumn.

    • Milo Yianoppoulos’ Own Speech Hurt him More than Censorship Ever Could
      Stopping Milo from speaking is what gave him the bizarrely subservient cult like support which he commands. It stopped his voice from becoming hoarse and him running out of opposition or ridiculous stances to take. Milo’s own messages, often a little vapid and designed to be reviled by the minorities and those who defend them, became slowly dwarfed by opposition to those on campuses who decided that he should not have the right to speech.

    • Is Google another step closer to being unblocked in China?

    • Google in talks with China to stage a comeback, says Report

    • Google is all set to enter China, after a seven year gap following disagreements over censorship rules

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Why Won’t Trump Declassify Evidence of Obama’s Wiretap? Sean Spicer’s Response Makes No Sense.
      For the past several weeks I’ve been asking the Trump White House (and nudging other reporters to ask) a simple question:

      Since presidents have the power to declassify anything, will President Trump use this power to make public any evidence that exists of Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election, including whether former President Obama ordered a wiretap on Trump Tower?

    • Digital Privacy at the U.S Border: A New How-To Guide from EFF
      Increasingly frequent and invasive searches at the U.S. border have raised questions for those of us who want to protect the private data on our computers, phones, and other digital devices. A new guide released today by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) gives travelers the facts they need in order to prepare for border crossings while protecting their digital information.

      “Digital Privacy at the U.S. Border” helps everyone do a risk assessment, evaluating personal factors like immigration status, travel history, and the sensitivity of the data you are carrying. Depending on which devices come with you on your trip, your gadgets can include information like your client files for work, your political leanings and those of your friends, and even your tax return. Assessing your risk factors helps you choose a path to proactively protect yourself, which might mean leaving some devices at home, moving some information off of your devices and into the cloud, and using encryption. EFF’s guide also explains why some protections, like fingerprint locking of a phone, are less secure than other methods.
    • Expert Panel Explores Tech Policy at the White House

    • Want To Know About Racially Motivated Policing? Ask Literally Any Person of Color in Milwaukee
      Racial profiling in Milwaukee is an unofficial standard that negatively affects multiple generations of people.

      Racial profiling in Milwaukee is as common to Black men as manhood itself.

      I’m a lifelong Milwaukeean and a Black man. Born at the old Mount Sinai, raised in the Rufus King and Sherman Park neighborhoods, I’m a unicorn — a Black man between 14 and 40 years old who does not have a felony, misdemeanor, or record of any kind. I’m the exception to a rule that should have long ceased to exist.

      Since 2012, over half of Milwaukee’s Black men in their 30s are, or have been, locked up. I won’t go into the horrible details of socioeconomic and political disenfranchisement, but let’s just say we started from the bottom, and, for a lot of people, we’re still there.

      Being Black in Milwaukee means having the constant specter of police haunting your life.
    • I was a Muslim Teen Under NYPD Surveillance. But Now I Have More Hope Than Ever.
      I sued the biggest police department in the country in a stand for my community. My fight is just beginning.

      When I was 20 years old, I sued the largest police force in the country over its blanket surveillance of countless New York Muslims — me among them.

      The decision to join the lawsuit was a difficult one, to say the least. I was terrified that going public about my experience would open me up to suspicion and backlash from my community and beyond, and that my budding academic and professional career could be damaged forever.

    • Secret Court Orders Aren't Blank Checks for General Electronic Searches
      Agents were authorized by the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court ("FISC") to search for evidence that Gartenlaub was spying for the Chinese government. There’s only one problem with that theory: the government has never publicly produced any evidence to support it. Nevertheless, Gartenlaub now sits in jail. Not for spying, but because the FBI’s forensic search of his hard drives turned up roughly 100 files containing child pornography, buried among thousands of other files, saved on an external hard drive.
    • Hey CIA, You Held On To Security Flaw Information—But Now It's Out. That's Not How It Should Work
      The worst thing that could happen is for users to lose faith in encryption-enabled tools and stop using them. The releases do reaffirm that users should make sure they are using the most current version of the apps on their devices. And vendors should move quickly to patch these flaws to protect users from both government and criminal attackers.

    • EFF Applauds Amazon For Pushing Back on Request for Echo Data
      The number of Internet-enabled sensors in homes across the country is steadily increasing. These sensors are collecting personal information about what’s going on inside the home, and they are doing so in a volume and detail never before possible. The law, of course, has not kept up. There are no rules specifically designed for law enforcement access to data collected from in-home personal assistants or other devices that record what’s going on inside the home, even though the home is considered the heart of Fourth Amendment protection. That’s why it’s critical that companies push back on requests via currently existing rules for data collected via these new in-home devices.[1] EFF applauds Amazon for doing just that—pushing back on a law enforcement request for in-home recordings from its Echo device.

    • Consumers are wary of smart homes that know too much
      Nearly two-thirds of consumers are worried about home IoT devices listening in on their conversations, according to a Gartner survey released Monday.

      Those jitters aren’t too surprising after recent news items about TV announcers inadvertently activating viewers’ Amazon Echos, or about data from digital assistants being used as evidence in criminal trials. But privacy concerns are just one hurdle smart homes still have to overcome, according to the survey.

      In fact, Gartner found that most consumers don’t feel they need what smart homes offer. Consumer IoT is still in an early-adopter phase, Gartner concluded from the online survey, which was conducted in the second half of last year in the U.S., U.K., and Australia. Nearly 10,000 people responded.
    • Facebook Doesn't Understand German, at Least Not in Court
      A German lawsuit over a photo showing a Syrian refugee with Chancellor Angela Merkel has put Facebook Inc.’s hate-speech policies under scrutiny. But the high-profile case has also shed light on complaints that the company tries to avoid and delay lawsuits in the country.

    • Big Brother Capitalism Strikes Back
      In classic capitalist fantasy, the “private” marketplace is a land of liberty and the state is a dungeon of oppression. Modern social democrats have tended to invert the formula, upholding the state as a force for social protection against the tyranny of the capitalist market.


      The common worker and citizen faces a double whammy under the U.S. profit system. She must rent out her critical life energy – her labor power – and subject herself to the despotic, exploitative (surplus value-extracting) direction of “free” market-ruling capital to obtain the means of exchange required to obtain basic life necessities sold on the market by capital. To make matters worse, she must contend with a government that functions not so much to protect her and the broader community from capital (including capital as employer) as to deepen capital’s political, social, and market power over and against her, other workers, and the common good.

    • Smartphones, PCs and TVs: the everyday devices targeted by the CIA
      The trove of information on alleged CIA hacking tools released by Julian Assange’s WikiLeaks organisation, which reveals that the agency maintains the capability to hack consumer devices, will raise many questions for users and technology companies alike.

      Everyday consumer devices including smartphones running iOS and Android operating systems, Windows and Mac computers, and even smart TVs made by manufacturers such as Samsung have all been targeted by the CIA.

    • Smart bulbs that work with Amazon's Alexa
      What’s cooler than turning on your lights with your smartphone? Turning on your lights hands free, using just your voice. Smart lighting control is one of the best features that Alexa, Amazon’s cloud-based digital assistant, has to offer. Fortunately, the barrier to entry into the home of the future is extremely low. We’ll show you everything you need to be able to do enjoy this wonderful convenience.

      First up, you’ll need an Alexa-compatible device. Amazon offers several: The Echo Dot is the least expensive at just $50, and it’s the one we recommend for most people. You can also summon Alexa from some Amazon Fire TV devices, including the 4K Amazon Fire TV. Amazon also allows third-party manufacturers to tap into its Alexa Voice Service with their own devices (such products were all over the CES show floor earlier this year).
    • Vault 7: Ecuador poll runoff has influenced date of dump

      The prospect of Ecuador expelling WikiLeaks founder and publisher Julian Assange from its London embassy after its elections are decided appears to have played a role in the organisation deciding to dump Vault 7, a massive trove of CIA documents, overnight.

    • Buzzfeed Caught By Wikileaks Falsifying Information About Response To Vault 7 Release
      In the wake of Wikileaks’ Vault 7 revelations, Buzzfeed has been caught by Wikileaks publishing false claims purportedly made by Apple that it had “patched the vulnerabilities mentioned in the Wikileaks dump of CIA cyber tools.” Wikileaks tweeted that Apple had not fixed any newly discovered vulnerabilities, labelling the claim “fake news.”
    • Despite Stream Of Leaks Exposing Tremendous Gov't Surveillance Capabilities, James Comey Still Complaining About 'Going Dark'

    • Proposed Bill Would Let You 'Hack Back' [Ed: When clueless politicians who don't grasp how difficult attribution can be (see Vault 7 for examples) come up with bills]
      This should put a smile on the lips of anyone who's spending the day hardening servers against the Apache Struts vulnerability that's being exploited all over the place. There's a congressman who wants victims of computer attacks to be able to return the favor and hack back.

    • Amazon shares data with Arkansas prosecutor in murder case

      Amazon dropped its fight against a subpoena issued in an Arkansas murder case after the defendant said he wouldn't mind if the technology giant shared information that may have been gathered by an Amazon Echo smart speaker.

    • [Old] Facebook = Spyware : Facebook as a Giant Database about Users

    • Fitbit tracks your steps; now it wants to chart your Zs, too

      Fitbits already track how much sleep people get and use sensors to measure periods of being awake or restless while in bed. Now, using a built-in heart-rate monitor, the devices will break sleep into clinically defined stages.

    • The House GOP is pushing a bill that would let employers demand workers' genetic test results

      There is a big exception, however: As long as employers make providing genetic information "voluntary," they can ask employees for it. Under the House bill, none of the protections for health and genetic information provided by GINA or the disabilities law would apply to workplace wellness programs as long as they complied with the ACA's very limited requirements for the programs. As a result, employers could demand that employees undergo genetic testing and health screenings.


      They sometimes sell the health information they collect from employees.

    • Trump’s Mar-a-Lago is heaven — for spies

    • Inspector Gadget: CIA-Infected Smartphones 'Help Spy on Their Hosts'

    • Windows 10 users complain about intrusive new OneDrive adverts

      The adverts pop up while a user is trying to manage files in a dedicated pane at the top of the Quick Access view within File Explorer, and are part of what Microsoft calls “sync provider notifications”.


      This is not the first time Microsoft has displayed ads within its Windows operating system.

    • Microsoft is adding 'adverts' for OneDrive in Windows 10's File Explorer

    • Microsoft now puts ads in Windows 10 File Explorer, because of course

      The ad appears as a banner at the top of File Explorer, reminding you that OneDrive and Office 365 can be had for a mere $6.99 per month. You can take Microsoft up on the offer or dismiss it. It may just reappear at a later date, though. Some users reported seeing this a few months ago, but the incidence has ticked upward in the last week or so. This is not the first time Microsoft has crammed ads into the Windows UI ...

    • Geohot’s new automated-driving device can only be redeemed by coughing up data

      Hotz said that his company's new business plan revolves around aggregating driving data from users across the world—in particular, combining GPS and camera footage to accurately map and track car a huge swath of driving patterns—and then eventually making that data available as part of a service that will be called "Comma Premium."

    • Smart meters can overbill by 582% [Ed: Even worse, they're spying machines inside people's homes, totally for "dumb" people]

      A team from the University of Twente and the Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences have published a paper demonstrating gross overbillings by smart energy meters, ranging from -32% to +582% of actual power consumption.

    • [tor-relays] "wubthecaptain1" relay a year later, or why running a Tor exit at home is discouraged

      A year and a month later, I suppose it's a good time to share the experiences of running "wubthecaptain1" [1] exit relay from a residential IP-address.

    • Want to chat securely? Here's what to look for in an app

    • If the government won’t protect your online privacy, you’ll have to do so yourself

    • TheDigitalStandard

      The Digital Standard is an ambitious, community-led effort to build a framework to test and rate products and services on the basis of privacy, security, and data practices.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • How the ACLU is training protesters in the 'resistance' movement

      A town hall-style event hosted by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), dubbed "The Resistance Training," aimed to encourage organized protest and educate attendees on their rights as protesters. In a series of speeches, ACLU leaders and other guests spoke of the importance of resisting policies that threaten the civil liberties of marginalized groups and outlined various ways to take action.

    • Ending The Battle For Carry-On Space And ThePlane-Boarding Ugliness It Leads To

    • TSA's new "pat-downs" are so invasive, airports are pre-emptively warning cops to expect sexual assault claims
      If the TSA thinks that you're suspicious -- or if you opt out of the "optional" full-body scanner -- you get a junk-touching "secondary screening" in which the screeners "pat you down" by rubbing the backs of their hands on your genitals and other "sensitive areas" (they can be pretty rough -- a screener at ORD once punched me in the balls to retaliate for me asking him not to rest the tub containing my bags on top of my unprotected laptop).

      But it's about to get much worse. Under new TSA rules, screeners will be able to lovingly cup and fondle your genitals and "sensitive areas" during a secondary search. The new guidelines call for searches so invasive, local TSA outposts have been told to notify local cops to expect accusations of sexual assault from fliers.

    • Bali won`t cover up statues for Saudi king

      Indonesia's Hindu resort island of Bali on Wednesday defended a decision not to cover up any of its ubiquitous statues of deities and semi-naked women during a visit by the Saudi king.

    • Indonesia jails leaders of 'deviant sect' for blasphemy

      An Indonesian court has jailed three leaders of a group that Islamic clerics had called a deviant religious organization for up to five years for blasphemy, sparking condemnation from human rights groups over the targeting of minorities.

      The now disbanded Gafatar hit the headlines after dozens of people, who had been reported missing by relatives, were believed to have joined. Last year, hundreds of members had to be evacuated from their West Kalimantan base after being attacked by residents who opposed their beliefs.

    • MSU banning whiteboards due to bullying

      The ban is limited to hanging whiteboards on dorm doors; students will still be permitted to use the items inside their rooms.

    • Couple arrested in the United Arab Emirates for 'having sex outside marriage'

      The South African man and his Ukranian fiancee were reportedly arrested after a doctor in Abu Dhabi who treated Ms Nohai for stomach cramps discovered she was pregnant.

    • Upgrade your jail cell - for a price

      ... allowing some defendants to avoid the region’s notoriously dangerous county jails has long rankled some in law enforcement who believe it runs counter to the spirit of equal justice.

      The region’s pay-to-stay jails took in nearly $7 million from the programs from 2011 through 2015, according to revenue figures provided by the cities. In attracting paying customers, some cities openly tout their facilities as safer, cleaner and with more modern amenities.

    • Indonesian Buddhists caned under sharia for first time

    • Hadi’s bill will affect non-Muslims, says Kelantan lawyer

      ... events showed that shariah laws were being imposed on non-Muslim citizens in the PAS-led state.

      For example, she said a non-Muslim owner of a watch shop had been fined for displaying a poster of Bollywood actress Aishwarya Rai with her hair uncovered.

    • On This ‘Day Without a Woman,’ Don’t Leave Women Oppressed by Sharia Law Behind

      International Women’s Day should be a day to raise our voices on behalf of women with no recourse to protect their rights. Yet I doubt Wednesday’s protesters will wave placards condemning the religious and cultural framework for women’s oppression under Sharia law. As a moral and legal code, Sharia law is demeaning and degrading to women. It requires women to be placed under the care of male guardians; it views a woman’s testimony in court as worth half that of a man’s; and it permits a husband to beat his wife. It’s not only women’s legal and sexual freedoms that are curtailed under Sharia but their economic freedoms as well. Women generally inherit half of the amount that men inherit, and their male guardian must consent to their choosing education, work, or travel.

    • I was tortured beyond limits: Pakistani blogger Ahmad Waqass Goraya

      From 2013 to 2016, almost 14 bloggers and writers were killed in Bangladesh by the Islamist groups.

    • Rebels with a cause: Africa's whistleblowers need urgent protection

      Not just in Africa but worldwide, citizens are becoming aware of the dark and oppressive political, economic and financial powers being exercised over their daily lives. Thanks to the revelations of whistleblowers, we can better fight back.

    • '93% of Pakistani women experience sexual violence'

      ... 93% women experience some form of sexual violence in public places in their lifetime.

      This was stated by founder of Madadgaar National Helpline 1098 and national commissioner for children, Zia Ahmed Awan, while quoting the statistics of international organisations during a press conference at their office on Tuesday.

    • Imams to be told to preach in English at mosques

      Debate about whether imams, who lead prayers at mosques, should use English has been making headlines for more than a decade. A survey of 300 mosques in 2007 found that just 8 per cent of imams were born in the UK and only 6 per cent of them spoke English as a first language.

    • How the UK police can coerce journalists into surrendering photographs

      That’s what it had all been about. I don’t believe the Fiscal had ever wanted to seize my cameras or computer, he just wanted the threat of it to use as a bartering tool: The police couldn’t legally force me to hand over the photos but if I didn’t do so then they would execute the warrant and put me out of business.


      As for the warrant, it remains active, with no time limit.

    • Police arrest 11 in riot at central Swedish school: report

      Eleven people were arrested after a violent brawl at a school in Hallsberg in central Sweden where masked youths threw stones and glass bottles at police and reporters, national TV reported on Monday.

    • Nine on trial for honour killing and abduction

    • Carson compares slaves to immigrants coming to ‘a land of dreams and opportunity’
      Ben Carson compared slaves to immigrants seeking a better life in his first official address Monday as Housing and Urban Development secretary, setting off an uproar on social media.

    • Ben Carson incorrectly suggests African slaves were 'immigrants' to US
      Housing and Urban Development secretary portrayed enslaved people’s forced migration to Americas as journey to ‘land of dreams and opportunity’ in speech

    • India will be home to world's largest Muslim population by 2050, but is the country ready for the change?

      India is already a Sharia-compliant State in many respects, notably on the issues of marriage, divorce, inheritance and a host of religious institutions as well as a large number of madrassas funded by the secular Indian State.

    • VHP calls for equal population policy to check Jihad and demographic imbalance.

    • World Must Formulate Muslim Population Policies to Restrict Islamic Growth.

      ...if the projected report of Pew Research Center becomes true...

    • [Old] Fermi paradox

    • Pakistan considers social media ban due to blasphemous content online

      Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui also wants people found to have posted blasphemous content online to have their names added to the Exit Control List, thereby prohibiting them from leaving the country.


      The blasphemous pages are being removed with the help of Facebook officials.

    • Muslim's trial for 'glorifying terrorism' moved because it falls during Ramadan

    • Attack Against Minorities: Hindu Woman Killed In Pakistan

      According to South Asia Partnership-Pakistan, a local human rights group in Pakistan, Muslim men are take away and forcibly convert about thousand girls — mostly from Hindu community, almost each year.

    • Software results in mistaken arrests, jail time? No fix needed, says judge

      However, since then, the public defender’s office has filed approximately 2,000 motions informing the court that, due to its reportedly imperfect software, many of its clients have been forced to serve unnecessary jail time, be improperly arrested, or even wrongly registered as sex offenders. As recently as this month, the Portland Press Herald reported that courts in Maine had recently hired Tyler amidst similar complaints nationwide.

    • Austrian govt criticises headscarf advice for Muslim women
      Austrian government officials are criticizing a recommendation by the country's Islamic leaders that Muslim women wear a headscarf with the onset of puberty.

      Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz, who also is the country's integration minister, says the stance is "an attack on the freedom and self-determination of women." State Secretary Maria Duzdar says such restrictions on the freedom of women are "unacceptable."

    • Trafficked and abused: Indonesia's Middle East maid ban backfires
      Dian Permata Sari was determined to escape when she was brought to the maid recruitment office in Saudi Arabia for the sixth time and paraded in front of potential employers alongside 14 other women.

      "We were made to stand in a line while the employers pick the maid they like, it was like shopping for goods," said the 19-year-old Indonesian woman.

    • In Women’s Strike, Media Miss a Moment to Look in Mirror
      March 8 was International Women’s Day, this year marked by a Women’s Strike—a coordinated day of action, not limited to work stoppage, that organizers said was intended to highlight how women’s work, contributions and humanity continue to be undervalued.

      With an avowed misogynist in the White House, the day got more media attention than it usually does. We saw stories about events around the world and interviews with participants. Some women-focused websites offered no new content as a show of support; we’re told MTV‘s nearly all-female social media staff stayed out, and the network turned its logo upside down, making the M a W. And, the Washington Times (3/8/17) reports, women anchors on MSNBC and CNN “showed their leftist leanings by wearing red.”

    • In a First, the Trump Administration Moves to Invoke Secrecy Claims in Torture Lawsuit
      As a landmark case surrounding the CIA’s Bush-era torture program approaches its trial date, the government is seeking to block the release of certain information it claims must be kept secret. Yet unlike previous cases in which the government successfully blocked torture lawsuits from moving ahead, even the government’s new claims make clear this case can go forward and CIA torture survivors should finally have their day in court.
    • The upsurge of xenophobic nationalism – threat, and opportunity
      The 2008 financial crisis opened up a window of opportunity for challengers to the political status quo: there was the Icelandic pots and pans revolution, the Greek anti-austerity movement, and the Spanish 15-M movement – eventually leading to the emergence of parties such as the Pirate Party, Syriza and Podemos. There were also actors clearly on the other side of the ideological spectrum: PEGIDA and the AfD in Germany, Party for Freedom in the Netherlands, People’s Party in Denmark, the National Front in France, and the Freedom Party in Austria, among others. Of course, one should also add UKIP and its successful Brexit campaign to the list, as well as the election of Donald Trump in the US – and with it, the reinvigoration of the North American ‘alt-right’.

      The argument that the 2008 economic crisis and its (mis)management is to blame for the rise in these movements does go a long way in accounting for the turmoil. But the extent of this, and exactly how, remains unclear.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • If Trump Fans Love Freedom, They Should Love Net Neutrality

      But equating the two gets both wrong. The FCC adopted the Fairness Doctrine in 1949 to require that broadcasters present both sides of news stories. The end of that rule in 1987 enabled the rise of right-wing talk radio shows such as the The Rush Limbaugh Show. But unlike the Fairness Doctrine, the FCC’s net neutrality rules don’t dictate what content websites or apps can or can’t publish. Quite the opposite: Instead of insisting that carriers include specific points of view, it bans them from excluding any legal content subscribers may wish to access. Net neutrality and the Fairness Doctrine are comparable only because of their FCC origins. But the “neutrality” of “net neutrality” hardly requires a politically neutral point of view.

    • Verizon Wireless wades right back into the net neutrality debate with Fios deal
    • 25 years since first email attachment
      It is 25 years since the invention of Mime, or Multipurpose Internet Mail Extensions - the system that made it possible to send attachments.

    • Trump renominates FCC Chair Ajit Pai for another five-year term
      President Donald Trump has renominated Ajit Pai to serve another term at the Federal Communications Commission, Axios reported today. The move requires Senate approval, but it is basically a formality that ensures Pai will remain on the commission throughout Trump's four-year term as president.

      Pai's term on the FCC technically expired in June 2016, but the FCC's rules allow him to stay until the end of 2017 even if he isn't confirmed by the Senate for another term. The president doesn't need Senate approval to elevate an existing commissioner to the chairmanship, so Trump was able to appoint Pai chairman of the commission in January. If the Senate approves the renomination, Pai would have a new five-year term with the beginning date retroactive to July 1, 2016.
    • Net neutrality hurts health care and helps porn, Republican senator claims

    • The tale of the fight for transparency in the EU Internet Forum

      Its actors: something of a “secret society” consisting of almost exclusively US internet companies (Microsoft, Facebook, Twitter, Google and, government officials and law enforcement agencies.

      Its modus operandi: meetings behind closed doors to discuss undefined “terrorist material” and badly defined “hate speech”, creating pressure on industry to monitor and censor online communications without any accountability for the outcome.

    • ICANN's Special Privileges for Trademark Owners are The.Worst
      If gaining control of hundreds of Internet domains that resemble your business name at a single stroke sounds like a trademark lawyer's wet dream, you may be surprised to learn that this is just one of the special powers that brand owners have under a little-known ICANN mechanism, the Trademark Clearinghouse. A letter released today by twenty-one law professors and practitioners exposes this and other privileges that ICANN bestows on brand owners, and sounds an urgent note of caution to the ICANN working group that is currently reviewing these special powers.

      One of the flaws in ICANN's complex multi-stakeholder structure is the deference paid to private commercial interests. Within ICANN's Generic Names Supporting Organization (which is responsible for developing policy for most Internet domains), there are no fewer than five separate constituency groups representing commercial interests, and only two representing the interests of non-commercial and not-for-profit interests. One of the commercial constituencies is the influential and well-funded Intellectual Property Constituency, which promotes the interests of trademark and copyright holders within ICANN.

  • DRM

    • A right to repair: why Nebraska farmers are taking on John Deere and Apple
      There are corn and soy fields as far as the eye can see around Kyle Schwarting’s home in Ceresco, Nebraska. The 36-year-old farmer lives on a small plot of land peppered with large agricultural machines including tractors, planters and a combine harvester.

      Parked up in front of his house is a bright red 27-ton Case tractor which has tracks instead of wheels. It’s worth about $250,000, and there’s a problem with it: an in-cab alarm sounds at ten-minute intervals to alert him to a faulty hydraulic connector he never needs to use.

    • [Old] RFC 3271 : The Internet is for Everyone [iophk: "ban DRM and those promoting it"

      Internet is for everyone - but it won't be if we are not responsible in its use and mindful of the rights of others who share its wealth. Let us dedicate ourselves to the responsible use of this new medium and to the proposition that with the freedoms the Internet enables comes a commensurate responsibility to use these powerful enablers with care and consideration. For those who choose to abuse these privileges, let us dedicate ourselves to developing the necessary tools to combat the abuse and punish the abuser.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Google Tries to Run Uber Off the Road—in Court

      According to the injunction, Waymo wants Judge William Alsup, who’s overseeing this case, to first compel Uber to hand over those 14,000 allegedly lifted documents. This will be the easiest get for Waymo, says Reichman, though Alsup may decide to keep them until the case is resolved. Second, Waymo lawyers want the judge to force Uber to stop using the circuit board and lidar sensor systems, given that the tech is the alleged product of stolen trade secrets. Third, they want the judge to temporarily prevent Uber from using any tech derived from Waymo’s patents, too.

    • Alphabet’s Waymo asks judge to block Uber from using self-driving car secrets

      Brown says Levandowski downloaded the files, which total 9.7GB of material, including 2GB of LIDAR subdirectories, in December 2015. LIDAR is a laser-guided sensor used to map the 3D environment, a key element in autonomous driving. Levandowski left Google in January 2016 to form Otto, a self-driving truck startup. In August 2016, Otto was acquired by Uber for $680 million. Uber then launched a public test of its self-driving cars in Pittsburgh in September.

    • Copyrights

      • Leaked Report Slams European Link Tax and Upload Filtering Plans
        Earlier this week we explained how the tide is turning against the European Commission's proposal for Internet platforms to adopt new compulsory copyright filters as part of its upcoming Directive on Copyright in the Digital Single Market. As we explained, users and even the European Parliament's Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection (IMCO) have criticized the Commission's proposal, which could stifle online expression, hinder competition, and suppress legal uses of copyrighted content, like creating and sharing Internet memes.

      • #STEMPiratenPartij - With 1 week till polling day, let's support the Dutch Pirates
        The way in which the Dutch voting system works with Proportional Representation across the country means that you are trying to get your message spread as far and wide across the country as a whole - there is no 'targetting' of very local areas as we have in the UK. It means that a digital social media campaign has the potential to be very effective as you are trying to reach as many people as possible, but requires that people actually follow through and cast a vote for you, rather than just hit 'Like' on Twitter.

      • EU Internet Advocates Launch Campaign to Stop Dangerous Copyright Filtering Proposal
        In the wake of the European Commission’s dangerous proposal to require user-generated content platforms to filter user uploads for copyright infringement, European digital rights advocates are calling on Internet users throughout Europe to stand up for freedom of expression online by urging their MEP (Member of European Parliament) to stop the #CensorshipMachine and “save the meme.”

        Last year, the European Commission released a proposed Directive on Copyright in the Digital Single Market, Article 13 of which would require all online service providers that “store and provide to the public access to large amounts of works or other subject-matter uploaded by their users” to reach agreements with rights holders to keep allegedly infringing content off their sites – including by implementing content filtering technologies.

      • UK Govt Refuses to Back Down Over Criminalization of File-Sharers

        As part of the Digital Economy Bill winding its way through parliament, there will be a harmonization of penalties for offline infringements with those carried out online. With up to ten years imprisonment on the table, the Open Rights Group asked for a threshold to be put in place, to separate petty and serious offenders. Sadly the government doesn't appear to be interested.

      • It’s finally over: Mastermind behind Prenda Law porn trolls pleads guilty
        One of the attorneys behind the Prenda Law "copyright trolling" scheme has pleaded guilty to federal charges of fraud and money laundering.

        After years of denial, John Steele admitted Monday that he and co-defendant Paul Hansmeier made more than $6 million by threatening Internet users with copyright lawsuits.

        It's perfectly legal to sue Internet pirates—but not the way Steele did it. Steele and Hansmeier set up "sham entities" to get copyrights to pornographic movies, "some of which they filmed themselves," according to the Department of Justice's statement on the plea. Steele and Hansmeier then uploaded those movies to file-sharing websites such as The Pirate Bay and then sued the people who downloaded the content.

      • Canada Rejects Flawed and One-Sided “Piracy” Claims From US Govt.

        “Canada does not recognize the validity of the Special 301 and considers the process and the Report to be flawed,” the Government memo reads.

        “The Report fails to employ a clear methodology and the findings tend to rely on industry allegations rather than empirical evidence and objective analysis.”

      • UK Court Dismisses Case Against Torrent Site Proxy Operator [iophk: "why don't they use any of those resources to fight spam? It costs 20 billion to 50 billion USD per year? It's even trackable by just following the money."

        More than two-and-a-half years ago, City of London Police arrested a man for operating several reverse proxies for torrent sites, including The Pirate Bay and KickassTorrents. Facing counts of money laundering and fraud, the operator risked a hefty prison sentence, but it didn't go that far. Nottingham Crown Court has dismissed the case, and police opted not to appeal the verdict.

      • KickassTorrents Defense Fights Extradition and Human Rights Violations

        Last week a Polish court ruled that Artem Vaulin, the alleged owner of KickassTorrents, can be extradited to the United States.

      • Canada Says It Won't Attend Special 301 Hearing Because USTR Prefers Industry Allegations To Facts And Data

        The US Trade Representative's annual Special 301 Report repeatedly points out how other countries are "failing" US IP industries by not doing enough to prevent piracy. The "name and shame" approach hasn't done much to curb piracy, although it has generated a few pressure points to leverage during trade negotiations.

        Countries appear to be tiring of the annual shaming. Michael Geist reports the Canadian government has issued a rebuttal ahead of this year's Special 301 hearing.

      • New Automated DMCA Notices Hit Movie Pirates With $300 Fines

        The company is operated by lawyer Carl Crowell, who is best known for his work with various notorious copyright trolls.


        These ties appear to be still intact

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