Bonum Certa Men Certa

Links 30/3/2017: Vivaldi 1.8, GNOME 3.26 Release Schedule

GNOME bluefish



Free Software/Open Source


  • Report: Oracle ponders massive acquisition of Accenture

    Why would Oracle want to buy Accenture? Well, the two companies are already partners, having launched a joint business group two years ago that aims to get customers to migrate their information technology infrastructure from on-premises into the cloud. {sic}

  • Microsoft

  • Health/Nutrition

    • What Reproductive Rights Advocates Can Learn From Texas (Yes, Texas)
      On March 20, a group of women dressed in red capes and white bonnets protested a collection of anti-abortion bills in the Texas Senate. The outfits were in tribute to characters from Margaret Atwood’s dystopian novel The Handmaid’s Tale, which portrays a near-future when some women are forced to bear children and abortion is outlawed. Grassroots activists in Texas spearheaded the colorful direct action, which was also organized and supported by the advocacy organization NARAL Pro-Choice Texas and the abortion fundraising group Texas Equal Access Fund. “The idea behind it was ... to show that these restrictions are walking us back,” said Alexa Garcia-Ditta, the communications and policy initiatives director at NARAL Pro-Choice Texas.

    • How Burger King's Palm Oil Addiction Is Devastating Local Communities—and Planet Earth
      Burger King is at the front of the pack of corporations abusing human rights and the environment to satisfy its appetite for palm oil.

    • Dakota Access puts oil in pipeline

      Energy Transfer Partners revealed the progress late Monday in a federal court filing.

      “Oil has been placed in the Dakota Access Pipeline underneath Lake Oahe,” the company said. “Dakota Access is currently commissioning the full pipeline and is preparing to place the pipeline into service.”

    • Oil Now In DAPL; Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe Say They Will Continue Fighting Pipeline

      Despite this development, the United States District Court for the District of Columbia has yet to rule on a pair of motions challenging the legality of the United States Army Corps of Engineers’ authorization of the pipeline. The Tribes allege that the Corps violated federal statutes, treaties, and its trust responsibility to the Tribes when it granted permission for the pipeline. The Court is expected to hear and rule on those motions very soon.

    • Monsanto meets its match as Hindu nationalists assert power in India

    • How an Indian seeds company and Hindu nationalists became Monsanto's nightmare

      Citing an Indian law that excludes seeds from being patented, Rao says Monsanto should never have been allowed to collect royalties after an initial payment to use its technology. Or, at the very least, he adds, prices should have been set by the government.

  • Security

    • Security updates for Wednesday

    • Cisco learned from Wikileaks that the CIA had hacked its systems
      When WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange disclosed earlier this month that his anti-secrecy group had obtained CIA tools for hacking into technology products made by U.S. companies, security engineers at Cisco Systems swung into action.

      The Wikileaks documents described how the Central Intelligence Agency had learned more than a year ago how to exploit flaws in Cisco's widely used Internet switches, which direct electronic traffic, to enable eavesdropping.

    • Exposed files on Microsoft's document-sharing site
      Confidential documents, passwords and health data have been inadvertently shared by firms using Microsoft's Office 365 service, say researchers.

      The sensitive information was found via a publicly available search engine that is part of Office 365.

      Security researchers said many firms mistakenly thought documents would only be shared with colleagues not globally.

      Microsoft said it would "take steps" to change the service and remove the sensitive data.

    • Russian Hacker Pleads Guilty for Role in Infamous Linux Ebury Malware

      The US Department of Justice announced yesterday that Maxim Senakh, 41, of Velikii Novgorod, Russia, pleaded guilty for his role in the creation of the Ebury malware and for maintaining its infamous botnet.

      US authorities indicted Senakh in January 2015, and the law enforcement detained the hacker in Finland in August of the same year.

    • New Ubuntu Kernel Update Patches a Single Vulnerability Affecting All Versions
      A few hours ago, Canonical published several Ubuntu security notices to inform users about the availability of new Linux kernel versions for all supported Ubuntu releases.

      The latest update is small but important, and appears to fix a recent security issue that could allow a local attacker to crash the vulnerable system or run programs as an administrator (root). Affecting Ubuntu releases include Ubuntu 12.04 LTS, Ubuntu 14.04 LTS, Ubuntu 16.04 LTS, and Ubuntu 16.10.
    • Changes coming to TLS: Part One
      Transport layer Security version 1.3 (TLS 1.3) is the latest version of the SSL/TLS protocol which is currently under development by the IETF. It offers several security and performance improvements as compared to the previous versions. While there are several technical resouces which discuss the finer aspects of this new protocol, this two-part article is a quick reference to new features and major changes in the TLS protocol.
    • Someone is putting lots of work into hacking Github developers [Ed: Dan Goodin doesn't know that everything is under attack and cracking attempts just about all the time?]
      Open-source developers who use Github are in the cross-hairs of advanced malware that has steal passwords, download sensitive files, take screenshots, and self-destruct when necessary.

    • Security Orchestration and Incident Response

      Technology continues to advance, and this is all a changing target. Eventually, computers will become intelligent enough to replace people at real-time incident response. My guess, though, is that computers are not going to get there by collecting enough data to be certain. More likely, they'll develop the ability to exhibit understanding and operate in a world of uncertainty. That's a much harder goal.

      Yes, today, this is all science fiction. But it's not stupid science fiction, and it might become reality during the lifetimes of our children. Until then, we need people in the loop. Orchestration is a way to achieve that.

    • Carbon Black warns of over reliance on 'nascent' machine learning security

      Security professionals cited high false positive rates and the ease with which machine learning-based technologies can be bypassed – at present – as the most serious barriers to adoption.

  • Defence/Aggression

    • Kulgam: Terrorists open fire on policemen deployed to handle stone pelting

    • FBI's Presence At The Garland, Texas Shooting Appears To Show It Prefers Easier Terrorism Arrests
      Given the FBI's skill at cultivating terrorists to arrest and indict, you'd think it would have done a better job handling the planned terrorist attack in Garland, Texas. The two shooters were killed by local police before they could kill any attendees at a "Draw Mohammed" event thrown by anti-Muslim activist (and bumbling litigant) Pam Geller.


      Faced with an actual terrorist attack, the FBI agent took off, leaving local police to fend off the well-armed attackers. The undercover agent was arrested at gunpoint by cops a short distance away.

      Now, there may be legitimate reasons for an undercover not to get involved in a shootout. He may not have had the proper training or the weapons on hand to make a difference. But it's definitely not a good look to arrive on scene of an attack featuring suspects you're intimately familiar with and drive away when the bullets start flying. Especially not when the agent has stopped long enough to see the suspects exit their vehicle with weapons and, for some reason, to take a cell phone photo of the two people who would be shot at first: a school security guard and a local police officer.

      The FBI won't explain what happened or why it happened. It refuses to discuss the closed investigation and claims no one at the agency had any advance knowledge of the planned attack -- which presumably includes the special agent working undercover and present at the scene.

    • Defense Contractor Shkrelis The US Government By Jacking Up Prices On Sole-Source Components
      Monopolies are everywhere, even in the Defending Americaâ„¢ business. Huffington Post's Zach Carter writes about a defense company that's being termed the "Martin Shkreli" of government contracting. In case you need reminding, Martin Shkreli is the hedge fund bro turned pharma kingpin who purchased a drug used by cancer and AIDS patients and raised its price from $14/pill to $750/pill. After an immense amount of backlash, Shkreli promised to lower the price, reneged on that promise, acquired the Wu Tang Clan's one-copy-only $1 million album, and otherwise engaged in personal and professional roguery, including smirking his way through a Congressional hearing on drug prices.

    • Bloodbath in West Mosul: Civilians Being Shot by Both ISIS and Iraqi Troops
      Civilians trying to flee the besieged Isis-held enclave in west Mosul are being shot dead by Isis and Iraqi army snipers as they try to cross the Tigris River, says an eyewitness trapped inside the city with his family.

      In an exclusive interview with The Independent, Jasim, a 33-year old Iraqi Sunni living in west Mosul near the 5th Bridge, said: “I want to rescue my mother and take her to the eastern part, but it is dangerous. Three people were killed in our neighbourhood trying to cross the river to the eastern side. They were shot dead by the snipers.”

    • War and Propaganda
      The U.S. has been at war throughout much of its history. Some wars were blatantly wars of conquest, e.g., the Indian Wars (the near genocide of Native Americans) and the Mexican-American War. Whatever the real reasons for our military actions, they were usually sold to the public as being defensive in nature and this practice still goes on.

    • Trump’s Incoherent Foreign Policy
      The recent North Korean missile tests raise questions about contradictions in President Donald Trump’s national security policies. During his campaign Trump implied that the United States should fight fewer wars overseas and demanded that U.S. dependents, Japan and South Korea, do more for their own defense, perhaps even getting nuclear weapons.

    • Behind Trump’s Bloody War in Yemen: A Saudi Offensive Against Iran
      As war flares in Yemen, the civilian victims are among the first to feel the difference between President Obama’s Middle East war policy and Donald Trump’s. In Sana'a, the capital, thousands of people marched in protest this week calling for an end to the Saudi airstrikes that have been supported by the U.S. military for the past two years. Saudi Arabia is seeking to oust a government dominated by the Houthi tribe, who are mostly Shia and more loyal to Iran than to Saudi Arabia.

      At least 4,125 civilians have been killed and 7,207 injured in the Saudi offensive, according to the United Nations. With just under half of the population under the age of 18, children have constituted a third of all civilian deaths.

    • Does Washington Want to Start a New War in the Balkans?
      If you needed more proof that US foreign policy is misguided, just look to what happened to Rand Paul after his earlier decision to block Montenegro’s accession. The Kentucky senator was subjected to a barrage of insults from fellow Republican John McCain, who flatly accused Paul of “working for Vladimir Putin.” McCain warned Paul that objecting to the tiny Balkan state becoming the 29th member of the alliance would play straight into the hands of the Russian president. While certainly unkind, Paul’s retort that the 80-year-old might be “past his prime” and perhaps “a little bit unhinged” was not entirely wide of the mark.

      [...]McCain represents a mercilessly hawkish wing of the Republican Party that would be quite happy to risk war with Russia and harm to U.S. interests over such a strategically irrelevant country. Paul, on the other hand, takes a more pragmatic position on the country’s NATO ambitions, as should anyone in full possession of the facts. To begin with, the Montenegrin people themselves display little interest in their country joining NATO. Polls there consistently show that no more than 40% of the public favor NATO membership, with support for accession dropping considerably below that figure among older people. Many remain suspicious of the alliance after it bombed Yugoslavia, of which Montenegro was part, in 1999. Distrust for the military alliance is so strong that anti-NATO demonstrations regularly take place across the country. To press ahead with Montenegro’s NATO accession would fly directly in the face of the will of its people.

    • The Unwinnable Vietnam War
      The Vietnam War was a historical turning point for the U.S., a moment when political leaders plunged the military into an unwinnable colonial struggle that killed millions and bred distrust of Washington’s word, as Fred Donner explains.

    • Life and Death in Vietnam’s ‘Television War’

      In February 1967, Japanese cameraman Tony Hirashiki along with a Vietnamese soundman and myself – then an ABC News correspondent – jumped from a hovering Huey helicopter onto Landing Zone C for Operation Junction City. We were with 25,000 lst Infantry troops for what was billed as the largest search-and-destroy operation since American forces took up a combat role in Vietnam.


      In his 10 years of work in Vietnam, Yasutsune “Tony” Hirashiki would become a legend among the news media covering the war. He thought little of his own safety and had a burning desire to show war as it was. His filmic brilliance helped turn a reporter’s work into vivid and striking stories about a complex conflict.

      While cameramen had recorded conflicts for generations – Matthew Brady revolutionized the public’s perception of warfare by capturing grisly Civil War scenes on his still camera a century earlier – the work of Hirashiki and others in Vietnam produced an intimacy and immediacy to the Vietnam War that had a similarly profound impact.


      Hirashiki remembers. “That day, it became my war. Even though I had been covering the war for many years, I had always kept a distance from it, trying to be neutral and unbiased. Whoever killed my brothers, Terry and Sam, was my enemy. I shouted and cried out for the loss of my best friends and cursed at the top of my lungs those who had taken away my hopes and dreams of the future.”

      On April 30, 1975, Tony Hirashiki shot his last story as Saigon fell to the advancing North Vietnamese Army. He took off in a U.S. Marine helicopter from the roof of the U.S. Embassy heading for the USS Blue Ridge in the South China Sea.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • Dairy is scary. The public are waking up to the darkest part of farming
      Photographs of industrial rows of cramped pens, each imprisoning a solitary calf, will shock those who still believe in the fairytale of the pastoral dairy farm, where blushing maidens milk smiling cows. Welfare legislation says that calves should only be held in solitary pens until they are eight weeks old, but Animal Equality claims that the battery calves it photographed at Grange Dairy in Dorset are up to six months old – too large for their hutches– and say that some have grazes on their backs. But trading standard officers say there is no evidence of any breach of animal welfare requirements. Marks & Spencer, which sells milk from the farm, said it was “disappointed” to see the report, but it has refused to drop the supplier.

    • Green software blacked out Australian State
      Something good is going to come out of last year's “Black System” in the Australian State of South Australia: the global wind power industry has learned how to do better modelling for systems under attack from repeated failures.

      South Australia last year experienced a vicious storm that uprooted high-voltage power and blew with sufficient intensity that wind turbine operators shut down their plant to protect them from damage.

    • 'Climate change is real': companies challenge Trump's reversal of policy
      In 2015, when Barack Obama signed the nation’s clean power plan, more than 300 companies came out in support, calling the guidelines “critical for moving our country toward a clean energy economy”. Now, as Donald Trump moves to strip those laws away, Mars Inc, Staples and The Gap are just a few of those US corporations who are challenging the new president’s reversal on climate policy.

    • Climate change: China calls US 'selfish' after Trump seeks to bring back coal
      Chinese state media has lambasted Donald Trump’s efforts to roll back many Obama-era environmental regulations, with a state-run tabloid saying that: “No matter how hard Beijing tries, it won’t be able to take on all the responsibilities that Washington refuses to take.”

      In an editorial highly critical of Trump’s retreat on environmental regulation, the Global Times made it clear Beijing was uncomfortable taking over leadership of the fight against climate change and could not fill the vacuum left by the US.

    • Bernie Sanders Unloads on Trump's Rollback of Climate Protections: 'It's an International Embarrassment'
      Sen. Bernie Sanders issued a damning video response to President Trump's rollback of Obama's climate regulations Tuesday. On Wednesday morning, he went in for seconds with the cast of "Morning Joe."

      Sanders, who had urged Trump to think of his children and grandchildren, called the president's obvious disregard for the planet "pathetic."

      "How crazy could it be that the largest oil company in this country understands more [about climate change] than the president of the United States?" he pointed out.

      According to the Financial Times, "ExxonMobil actually is calling on Trump to stick with the Paris Climate Accord," which President Trump has threatened to exit.
    • Sex, death and sperm whales in the Indian Ocean – in pictures
      I spent last week on a six-metre fishing boat in the Indian Ocean off Kalpitiya, on the west coast of Sri Lanka with the photographer Andrew Sutton and the marine biologist Ranil Nanayakkara. Andrew and I were diving in a marine conservation area under special licence from the Sri Lankan wildlife department. Here, I met a pair of young, sexually mature male sperm whales – cetacean teenagers.

    • Brexit: and now for something completely different – but what?
      British Prime Minister Theresa May has triggered Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, thereby giving the country 24 months to negotiate terms for leaving the EU. What will this mean for energy policy? Craig Morris has a tentative look with the help of an expert.


      The worst part of Brexit is the long period of uncertainty. The business world hates nothing more than uncertainty. As businesspeople in Texas say, “I can play it round, and I can play it square. Just tell me the rules.” For now, no one knows.

    • Trump presidency 'opens door' to planet-hacking geoengineer experiments
      Harvard engineers who launched the world’s biggest solar geoengineering research program may get a dangerous boost from Donald Trump, environmental organizations are warning.

      Under the Trump administration, enthusiasm appears to be growing for the controversial technology of solar geo-engineering, which aims to spray sulphate particles into the atmosphere to reflect the sun’s radiation back to space and decrease the temperature of Earth.

    • ‘No Agency Would Be Hit Harder Than EPA Under the President’s Budget Plan’

    • Firms Cited for Safety Violations Still Reap State Subsidies
      Craig Bernier had only been bagging grain at Harbor Point Minerals in Utica for a few months when the company started sending him inside its silos to “walk down” the grain to help it flow to the bottom.

      Bernier, 24, was claustrophobic and hated being in the dark, closed structure, but Harbor Point told him he would have to go back in, his father said.

      “He told his mother, ‘I don’t want to go to work,” Daniel Bernier recalled. “If he had to, he wanted to quit, he felt so bad. But I always told him, go find a job — have a job before you quit a job. And so he ended up going to work that day anyway.”

      On May 11, 2011, the animal feed gave way under Craig’s feet, swallowing him in the grain and suffocating him.

    • Global Anger and Dismay After Trump Slams Brakes on U.S. Climate Action
      The world reacted with dismay and anger as President Donald Trump issued an executive order Tuesday that dismantled critical U.S. climate policies, betraying the country's international climate commitments.

      While world leaders, scientists, and policy makers expressed outrage and skepticism about the president's move, they also vowed to step up and increase climate change mitigation in the absence of U.S. leadership.

      "If 'America First' means you want to lead, then you can't turn the clock back and rely on a century-old technology. You're missing the train," Thomas Stocker, a climate scientist at the University of Bern, Switzerland, told the New York Times about Trump's push to reinvigorate the coal industry.

    • US Media’s Global Warming Denialism
      Besides nuclear war, arguably the greatest threat to human civilization is global warming, but the U.S. news media virtually ignored the issue in 2016, bowing to economic and political pressures, writes Jonathan Marshall.

    • E.P.A. Chief Signals Death of Clean Power Plan, Paris Climate Agreement
      An Obama-era regulation seeking to reduce carbon pollution and slow global temperature increases is next on the chopping block for the Trump administration.

      Environmental Protection Agency head Scott Pruitt told ABC News over the weekend that the President will sign an executive order Tuesday to dismantle the Clean Power Plan.

      The order will “address the past administration’s effort to kill jobs across this country through the Clean Power Plan,” Pruitt said. He added that the move is “about making sure that we have a pro-growth and pro-environment approach to how we do regulation in this country.”

    • Noam Chomsky: Trump's Threat to Human Civilization Is More Immediate Than We Realize
      For Noam Chomsky, this is but one of the ways in which Trump's presidency poses an existential threat to human civilization. In a wide-ranging interview with Truthout, the renowned political scientist expounds on everything from the radicalism of the Republican Party to our troubling brinkmanship with Russia to the accelerated decline of American empire. Here are a few of the highlights.

    • Noam Chomsky: Trump's First 100 Days Are Undermining Our Prospects for Survival
      The first 100 days are considered to be a benchmark for presidential performance. This is part of the legacy of FDR, who managed to reshape the US government's role in the economy within the first 100 days of his administration. However, the fact of the matter is that usually, a first-time president doesn't have the slightest inkling of what governing from the Oval Office is all about. There's no better proof of that than the early records of the most recent US presidents, from Nixon to Obama. Nonetheless, no recent US president has demonstrated such an overwhelming ignorance about governing as the current occupant of the White House.

      But is Trump's apparent inability to govern and conduct himself in a remotely conventional manner an innate character flaw or part of a well-conceived strategy aimed at a society that loves reality TV? Is Trump's fondness for Putin simply an "infatuation" with a strongman and admiration for autocratic rule, or something of a more political and strategic nature? And what does Trump mean when he says "jobs?" In this exclusive Truthout interview, world-revered public intellectual Noam Chomsky shares for the first time his views about the first 100 days of the Trump administration.

  • Finance

    • Jeff Bezos Is Now the World's Second Richest Person [iophk: "and therefore cannot pay his employees"]

      Bezos has a net worth of $75.6 billion on the Bloomberg Billionaires Index...

    • Millennial poverty on the rise

      Statistics Finland reports that more than one in four 18–24-year-olds are poor, or have "low income".

    • May squandered her time before Article 50 - now she faces the consequences
      The Article 50 letter is on its way to Brussels. Theresa May's team have been desperately trying to get the details right. Tone is everything, they say. We need to set the right attitude from the start.

      If only they thought this way before. In the weeks after the referendum result, European leaders were shell shocked. They needed reassurances. They needed to know that Britain intended to pursue the divorce cautiously, respectfully and with as much consideration for their own project as its own.

    • The Rise of Corporate Power

    • A New Way to Close the Gender Pay Gap
      Once again, Equal Pay Day is approaching. Never heard of it? If you’re a working woman or someone who cares about the working women in your life, you need to study up.

      Equal Pay Day is the day in any given year when women working full-time, year-round catch up to men’s earnings from the previous year.

      Let’s say the average man made $35,000 last year, from January 1 to December 31. The average woman working the same amount of time made $27,300. It will take her until April 4 of this year to amass the same earnings the guy made by the end of last year. So Equal Pay Day is April 4 this year.

    • Trump Nominates ‘Alligator’ Clayton To Run SEC
      Saying on the campaign trail that Wall Street banks and hedge funds are “getting away with murder,” President Trump promised voters he would “drain the swamp” and “reduce the corrupting influence of special interests on our politics.” He was playing on the public’s sentiment that Washington is a swamp of Wall Street and corporate interests, connected insiders who feed off of taxpayers.

    • Brexit as a driver of modern slavery?
      The signing of Article 50 today marks the point of no return for the UK’s exit from the European Union. Although she inherited the Brexit decision, Theresa May’s political legacy as prime minister will stand and fall on how successfully she manages to steer the country through the turmoil.

      Without a doubt, Article 50 will bring untold changes to the political, economic and cultural landscape of the country. One change that will certainly be high on May’s radar is its effect on ‘modern slavery’ in the UK.

      Modern slavery has been May’s signature policy since she was home secretary. She introduced the landmark Modern Slavery Act in 2015 prior to becoming PM, and has since continued to champion the cause. In announcing a ramping up of government efforts to improve enforcement last year, she identified modern slavery as “the great human rights issue of our time” and heralded the UK as leading the way in defeating it.

    • Gorsuch’s Soft Style and Hard Line
      It turns out that elevating Gorsuch to the Supreme Court and achieving deregulation are inextricably linked. During Gorsuch’s confirmation hearing, Democratic members of the Senate Judiciary Committee challenged him on his pro-business positions.

    • Ireland, Brexit and our Disunited Kingdom

      Will Brexit ultimately result in a united federal Ireland in a confederation with Scotland, in the EU – with England and Wales outside it?

    • JP Morgan eyes Capital Dock for Brexit relocation

      US investment banking giant JP Morgan is understood to be considering the relocation of hundreds of its employees from London to Capital Dock, the 31,600 sq m (340,000 sq ft) office scheme currently being developed by Kennedy Wilson in Dublin's docklands. The site could potentially house around 1,000 employees.

      News of JP Morgan's potential post-Brexit move will be welcomed, coming as it does in the wake of the decision by two major insurance companies, Lloyd's of London and AIG, to choose Brussels and Luxembourg instead of Dublin for their respective European Union bases.

    • Lloyd's of London moving EU business to Brussels after Article 50 triggered, according to reports
      As the UK waits for Theresa May to trigger Article 50 and kick off the Brexit process, Lloyd's of London has reportedly come to a decision on where to move its EU business.

      Update: Lloyd's has now confirmed the news

      The insurance giant will locate its new EU subsidiary in Brussels, according to a report by The Insurance Insider, which revealed the Lloyd's Franchise Board has decided to recommend that its council ratify a decision to launch a capitalised subsidiary in the Belgian capital.

      Lloyd's confirmed that a meeting will take place today, with a view to making an announcement tomorrow but declined to comment further.

    • Lloyd’s of London to open Brussels office after UK officially triggers Brexit
      Lloyd’s of London will open a new Brussels subsidiary in early 2019, the historic insurance market said Thursday in the first fallout from Britain’s decision to trigger Brexit.

      The group, which has insured against earthquakes, shipwrecks and revolutions, is now in the eye of the Brexit storm and seeking to ensure access across the European Union once Britain leaves the bloc.

      Lloyd’s announced the news one day after British Prime Minister Theresa May activated the two-year countdown to the nation’s EU divorce.

    • Brexit is a monumental act of self-harm which will bewilder historians

      William Hazlitt’s advice to travellers was “take your common sense with you, and leave your prejudices behind”. It’s not bad guidance for Theresa May as she sends her Article 50 missive to Brussels.

      We know there are many among the Prime Minister’s closest advisors – Liam Fox, for example – whose prejudices have always been for rupture, rather than a deal, with the EU. The question today is: does Theresa May secretly agree?

      Why else choose to put Brexit Britain as far away from our neighbours as possible? Why else the foolish early threat to walk out if we didn’t perfectly get our way (thank goodness, the government is now backtracking on this)? Why else all the insult-laden invective against the 48 per cent of Remainers, which left our country more divided today than we were on the morning that the Leavers won?

    • Theresa May’s Empty Brexit Promises
      Brexit has begun. On Tuesday evening, Theresa May, the British Prime Minister, signed a letter formally giving notice that the United Kingdom intends to leave the European Union. On Wednesday, Sir Tim Barlow, the U.K.’s Ambassador to the E.U., delivered the letter to Donald Tusk, the president of the European Council. Next up: a long set of talks about the terms of Britain’s exit.

      “When I sit around the negotiating table in the months ahead, I will represent every person in the United Kingdom—young and old, rich and poor, city, town, country, and all the villages and hamlets in between,” May told the House of Commons on Wednesday. “It is my fierce determination to get the right deal for every single person in this country. For, as we face the opportunities ahead of us on this momentous journey, our shared values, interests, and ambitions can—and must—bring us together.”

      “We all want to see a Britain that is stronger than it is today,” she added. “We all want a country that is fairer so that everyone has the chance to succeed. We all want a nation that is safe and secure for our children and grandchildren. We all want to live in a truly global Britain that gets out and builds relationships with old friends and new allies around the world.”

    • 'Great repeal bill' will create sweeping powers to change laws for Brexit
      The government’s “great repeal bill” will create sweeping temporary powers to allow ministers to tweak laws that would otherwise not “work appropriately” after Brexit, David Davis is expected to tell the Commons.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • The Sovietization of the American Political-Media Establishment?

      In order to spread and safeguard that orthodox narrative, and others, Kremlin newspapers and broadcast media employed several well-known practices. Some of them seem to be appearing, at least to some degree, in American mainstream media today. Cohen discusses four of them [...]

    • On becoming the worst president
      A bare couple of months after Trump’s inauguration, he is being widely touted as the worst president in US history. His bombast, splenetic tweets, unsavoury remarks about women, and scapegoating of minorities provide plenty of ammunition for opponents to vilify the new leader of the free world. Moreover he has had the temerity – no other word suffices – to assault the media for disseminating fake news, a risky activity even for so powerful a figure as the president.

      They have responded in kind by spearing some of Trump’s outlandish misstatements and, more significantly, by doing their best to undermine his senior cabinet nominations and to suggest that either he or his cronies or both are engaging in covert skulduggery with Russia and its supposedly villainous leader Vladimir Putin. One of the ironies of this spat is that while the president’s “alternative facts" are easily spotted and readily seized upon as evidence of his flakiness, the long, continuing and disgraceful story of media lying passes largely without comment. Where fake news is concerned, Trump is in diapers compared with mainstream media.

    • Cyber Firm Rewrites Part of Disputed Russian Hacking Report
      U.S. cybersecurity firm CrowdStrike has revised and retracted statements it used to buttress claims of Russian hacking during last year's American presidential election campaign. The shift followed a VOA report that the company misrepresented data published by an influential British think tank.

      In December, CrowdStrike said it found evidence that Russians hacked into a Ukrainian artillery app, contributing to heavy losses of howitzers in Ukraine's war with pro-Russian separatists.

      VOA reported Tuesday that the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS), which publishes an annual reference estimating the strength of world armed forces, disavowed the CrowdStrike report and said it had never been contacted by the company.

      Ukraine's Ministry of Defense also has stated that the combat losses and hacking never happened.

    • Misrepresenting Stone’s Prescience
      Rep. Adam Schiff laid out a series of “coincidences” to build a circumstantial case that President Trump’s campaign associates may have colluded with the Russians during the 2016 presidential campaign. But one of his “coincidences” is not an established fact.

      “Is it a coincidence that Roger Stone predicted that [Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman] John Podesta would be a victim of a Russian hack and have his private emails published, and did so even before Mr. Podesta himself was fully aware that his private emails would be exposed?” Schiff, the ranking Democrat on the House intelligence committee, said in his opening statement at a March 20 hearing.

      There is nothing in the public record so far that proves Stone, a political operative and longtime Trump associate, predicted the Podesta email hack.

    • Bush’s Former CIA and NSA Director Slams Trump For ‘Delegitimizing’ Facts
      A former U.S. intelligence chief who served a Republican president warned President Donald Trump was engaged in an unprecedented campaign to “delegitimize” facts — and by extension the intelligence community that delivers them.

    • Conspiracy Theorists Welcome in Corporate Media–if They Have the Right Targets
      Former British Conservative MP Louise Mensch has become something of a celebrity of late in anti-Trump media. In the past two weeks, Mensch has been touted by former head of the Democratic National Committee Donna Brazile and prominent Harvard Law Professor Laurence Tribe, and appeared on MSNBC (3/11/17), the New York Times op-ed page (3/17/17) and HBO’s Real Time With Bill Maher (3/24/17). All this despite the fact that she routinely traffics in the most bizarre and unfounded conspiracy theories.

    • Donald Trump and Steve Bannon: Real Threats More Serious Than Fake News Trafficked by Media

      The United States faces a threat. The danger is potentially existential. Imagine a force that could take the United States into ruinous wars with major powers. Simultaneously, this same threat promises to erode the cultural, regulatory, scientific and social infrastructure upon which the United States’ future prosperity depends. That’s precisely what the US faces under the presidency of Donald Trump, with the grey cardinal figure of Steve Bannon directing policy. The threats posed by Trump and Bannon are both domestic and foreign, and are deadly serious.

      On the foreign policy front, Steve Bannon is a military buff. Many are, including myself. The difference, however, is that most who are fascinated by war become repulsed by the reality of it as adults. Not so with Bannon, an impulsive figure with a documented history of violent spousal abuse. China’s footprint in the South China Sea and Indian Ocean is big and will get bigger. The good news is that China sees stability and mutually beneficial trade as the keys to its power. Essentially, this is an extension of the Middle Kingdom strategy present during the Ming and Qing Dynasties. That said, China is returning to its historic role as the world’s greatest power. It is becoming increasingly assertive in areas historically part of China (e.g., the South China Sea), yet is largely disinterested in imperial projection of hard power. Moreover, it has taken the lesson from the former Soviet Union that over investment in the military and Khrushchev adventurism abroad are the paths to ruin rather than stability. Yet China will not tolerate being policed by the United States. China will defend its national interests, and as its power grows, will not kowtow to US military power projected in the South China Sea. War with China, however, is neither inevitable nor desirable, as Bannon asserts on the former and by implication suggests with the latter. China wants trade, not war. A true “America First” policy would not militarily confront China, but would challenge it on the terrain of meeting its obligation to international labor agreements.

      Furthermore, Trump and Bannon see Islamic fundamentalism as an existential threat to the US. Concerns regarding Iran should not be discounted, yet the wrong responses, including overreactions, can cause more harm than not. Bannon, a naval officer during the Iran hostage crisis under the Carter administration, still sees Iran as a direct threat to the United States. This view is shared by Sen. John McCain, who only half-jokingly in the past called for bombing Iran. Iran represents a challenge to Saudi (Wahhabi) dominance in the Middle East. It supports Syria’s Alawite Shia government as an ally that can host its natural gas transit pipeline to the European Union. Moreover, through Hezbollah, Iran supports opposition to Israel. While Iran clearly is no friend to the United States, over time, its mullahs have morphed into “mullahgarchs,” whose interests have become anchored as much in the desire to become rich by controlling key sectors of Iran’s economy as they are in imposing religious law and sponsoring Islamic revolution. Furthermore, its burgeoning youth have become increasingly secular in outlook, while increasingly frustrated with a “revolution” that failed to deliver prosperity or personal fulfillment. Iran’s youth are arguably the Middle East’s Islamic population most favorably disposed toward the United States. If the United States backed off from rhetoric suggesting Iran was a potential target of possible US military action, its theocracy would increasingly lose legitimacy at home. In short, the United States should not play the villain from central casting that Iran uses to legitimize its domestic rule.

    • Trump’s Dangerous Government of No

      For any administration that thinks more in terms of what it wants rather than what it opposes, such similarities are not necessarily a problem. The continuities are accepted, while asserting responsible stewardship of the nation’s interests and openness to adjustments and improvements in existing polices where appropriate.

      But for an administration of No, the similarities are a problem. With its coming to power based overwhelmingly on rejection of what came before, how can it defend continuation of what it rejected?

      A resulting hazard is the temptation on the part of such an administration to go out of its way to pursue policies that look new and different even though they are not prudent or effective. Such a hazard may be materializing with moves to become more deeply immersed in the Yemeni civil war on the side favored by the Saudis and Emiratis, whose intervention in the conflict has multiplied the human suffering without bringing the war any closer to a conclusion.

    • As Perez Shakes Up Staff, Sanders Urges 'Total' Overhaul for Democratic Party

      A review committee is already underway looking at new potential staffers "to help decide not only who will stay and who will go, but how the party should be structured in the future," NBC News writes. And that transition committee's make-up, as the Washington Post's PowerPost blog wrote earlier this month, is being met with skepticism by some Sanders backers.

      A full overhaul is exactly Sen. Bernie Saners, (I-Vt.) who had backed Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) in the DNC race, thinks is in order.

      Speaking Wednesday to MSNBC's "Morning Joe," Sanders, who sits on the leadership of the Senate Democrats, charged that it is "absolutely" necessary.

    • People Want Melania Trump to Be Forced to Leave NYC
      The exorbitant cost of keeping Melania and Barron Trump in their gold-plated penthouse in New York City has inspired thousands to sign a petition asking that they be forced to leave town. The viral request, titled "Make Melania Trump Stay in the White House or Pay for the Expenses Herself," already has more than 175,000 signatures. The petition is a response to the drain on city dollars brought on by the stunning security costs—up to $146,000 a day—of keeping Melania and Barron in Trump Tower, according to New York City Police estimates given to the New York Times.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • The uncrackable problem of end-to-end encryption
      The UK government has said it wants access to messages sent via encrypted communications apps such as WhatsApp, re-igniting the debate over end-to-end encryption.

      "We need to make sure that organisations like WhatsApp, and there are plenty of others like that, don't provide a secret place for terrorists to communicate with each other," Home Secretary Amber Rudd told the BBC, following the attack on Westminster in which four people were killed. It is believed the attacker's phone had connected to WhatsApp two minutes earlier.

      "We need to make sure that our intelligence services have the ability to get into situations like encrypted WhatsApp," she added.

    • Orleans Cultural Council disputes censorship charges
    • Report: Obama Aides Routinely Saw NSA Intel [Ed: That's a Bush era thing, but rightwing sites lie about it for political gain. See below also.]

    • Obama's rule changes opened door for NSA intercepts of Americans to reach political hands
    • Obama’s NSA Rule Changes Enabled Political Hacking
      The new rules both dramatically increased the number of people legally allowed to identify the Americans and the details swept up, and also gave way to a policy in which White House aides, including political ones, were routinely given access to the “intelligence reports” containing that information.
    • Circa: Obama Intel Changes Could Have Allowed NSA Intercepts Of Americans To Fall Victim To 'Political Espionage'

    • No, You Can't Buy Congress's Internet Data, Or Anyone Else's
      In the wake of yesterday's unfortunate Congressional vote to kill broadband privacy protections (which had only just been put in place a few months ago, and hadn't yet taken effect) we've been seeing a lot of... bad ideas. People are rightfully angry and upset about this. The privacy protections were fairly simple, and would have been helpful in stopping truly egregious behavior by some dominant ISPs who have few competitors, and thus little reason to treat people right. But misleading and misinforming people isn't helpful either.

    • To Serve AT&T and Comcast, Congressional GOP Votes to Destroy Online Privacy
      Clarifying events in politics are often healthy even when they produce awful outcomes. Such is the case with yesterday’s vote by House Republicans to free internet service providers (ISPs) – primarily AT&T, Comcast and Verizon – from the Obama-era FCC regulations barring them from storing and selling their users’ browsing histories without their consent. The vote followed an identical one last week in the Senate exclusively along party lines.

      It’s hard to overstate what a blow to individual privacy this is. Unlike Silicon Valley giants like Facebook and Google – which can track and sell only those activities of yours which you engage in while using their specific service – ISPs can track everything you do online. “These companies carry all of your Internet traffic and can examine each packet in detail to build up a profile on you,” explained two experts from the Electronic Frontier Foundation. Worse, it is not particularly difficult to avoid using specific services (such as Facebook) that are known to undermine privacy, but consumers often have very few choices for ISPs; it’s a virtual monopoly.

    • Anger as US internet privacy law scrapped
      US internet service providers will soon no longer need consent from users to share browsing history with marketers and other third parties.

      On Tuesday the House of Representatives voted to repeal an Obama-era law that demanded ISPs have permission to share personal information - including location data.

      Supporters of the move said it would increase competition, but critics said it would have a “chilling effect” on online privacy.

    • Repealing Broadband Privacy Rules, Congress Sides with the Cable and Telephone Industry
      Putting the interests of Internet providers over Internet users, Congress today voted to erase landmark broadband privacy protections. If the bill is signed into law, companies like Cox, Comcast, Time Warner, AT&T, and Verizon will have free rein to hijack your searches, sell your data, and hammer you with unwanted advertisements. Worst yet, consumers will now have to pay a privacy tax by relying on VPNs to safeguard their information. That is a poor substitute for legal protections.

      Make no mistake, by a vote of 215 to 205 a slim majority of the House of Representatives have decided to give our personal information to an already highly profitable cable and telephone industry so that they can increase their profits with our data. The vote broke along party lines, with Republicans voting yes, although 15 Republicans broke ranks to vote against the repeal with the Democrats.

    • AP EXPLAINS: What the death of broadband privacy rules means

    • The 265 members of Congress who sold you out to ISPs, and how much it cost to buy them

      So here is a list of the lawmakers who voted to betray you, and how much money they received from the telecom industry in their most recent election cycle.

    • Wanna Protect Your Online Privacy? Open a Tab and Make Some Noise

      Schultz says the main point of Internet Noise for now is to raise awareness, though the open source project has the potential to evolve into a real privacy tool.

    • US House votes to strip users' Net privacy protections

      Internet users in the US have had privacy protections voted in by the Obama administration stripped away, with the House voting 215-205 to pass the measure.

      Last week, the Senate approved the move 50-48 and it now is left to President Donald Trump to sign it into law.

    • Your privacy, for sale – part 2

    • I Spent a Week Trying To Make the Broadband Lobby Answer a Simple Question About Selling Your Data
      House Republicans last night voted to overturn an FCC rule that bars your internet provider from telling advertisers which websites you visit and what you search for in exchange for money; the Senate voted along the same lines last week. The decisions were immediately praised by lobbying groups like the NCTA, which represents broadband companies like Verizon and Comcast — and which for some reason framed the gutting of federal privacy regulations as good for privacy, a choice that the organization seemingly cannot explain, no matter how many times you ask.

    • How the Republicans Sold Your Privacy to Internet Providers
      On Tuesday afternoon, while most people were focused on the latest news from the House Intelligence Committee, the House quietly voted to undo rules that keep internet service providers — the companies like Comcast, Verizon and Charter that you pay for online access — from selling your personal information.

      The Senate already approved the bill, on a party-line vote, last week, which means that in the coming days President Trump will be able to sign legislation that will strike a significant blow against online privacy protection.

      The bill not only gives cable companies and wireless providers free rein to do what they like with your browsing history, shopping habits, your location and other information gleaned from your online activity, but it would also prevent the Federal Communications Commission from ever again establishing similar consumer privacy protections.

    • Privacy advocates plan to fight Congress' repeal of Internet privacy rules

      Privacy groups will continue to push to protect consumers, said Katharina Kopp, policy director at the Center for Digital Democracy. They will enlist allies in the European Union to push the U.S. to project privacy, she said.

    • VPN Searches Soar as Congress Votes to Repeal Broadband Privacy Rules

      Of course, for those looking for a more workable solution, VPNs – Virtual Private Networks – can provide a much greater level of encrypted protection, especially among providers who promise to keep no logs.

    • 'Just Use A VPN' Isn't A Real Solution To The GOP's Decision To Kill Broadband Privacy Protections
      Not too surprisingly, VPN providers say they're seeing an interest spike in the wake of lawmakers' full frontal assault on consumer broadband privacy protections. The attack on the rules comes as the broadband industry is suffering from an overall decline in competition, something of notable concern to privacy advocates. Some VPN providers were quick to use the debate as a marketing opportunity, with VPN provider Private Internet Access taking out a front page ad in the New York Times shaming the 50 Senators who sold consumer welfare down river in exchange for AT&T, Comcast, Verizon and Charter campaign contributions.


      Long story short, you're going to hear a lot of people say "just get a VPN" in the wake of Congress' decision to sell your privacy down river for ISP campaign contributions. But a VPN isn't a silver bullet that magically compensates for fading regulatory oversight of an uncompetitive (and anti-competitive) telecom sector, where neither regulatory authority nor competition impede these companies' hoovering up of consumer data. A VPN is just one tool for anybody hoping to protect their traffic from the ever-expanding, watchful gaze of your now unshackled broadband provider, and it may not even be a very good one. And it's a problem if people jump on VPNs thinking that it's "the solution." It is not.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Row after Norway Muslim group appoints spokeswoman in full-face veil

      A Muslim organisation in Norway has been criticised for hiring a communications officer who wears a full-face veil, or niqab.

    • Pointless "Security" With A Sex Offender Flair: TSA Gropedowns Are Now More "Intimate" -- On Your 12-Year-Old

      Let's be clear: As I've noted many times before, the TSA is not about security. Beyond the lobbyist and all the others cleaning up from the equipment sales to the TSA, the TSA is about showing the public who's got the power -- and yes, it's the man touching your 12-year-old's genitals.

    • Muslim personal law board defends triple talaq, polygamy

      All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) on Monday defended the practices of triple talaq, polygamy and nikah halala, saying the Supreme Court cannot consider the constitutional validity of the principles of Muslim Personal law.

    • Seeing the myth in human rights
      To call human rights a “myth” would appear to discredit them, but myth was central in drafting the Universal Declaration.

    • Brexit: yes, you will suffer as well
      It is official now. The United Kingdom has invoked Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty and will leave the European Union. Don’t take it lightly -- this is not fake news, this is a historic event which will change Europe and your own situation dramatically. Disintegration of the continent is moving at full speed and it will generate many losers.

      You may not feel it yet, but life will be harder for a long time before it will get any better. The damage is largely self-inflicted; thanks to poor political craftsmanship on the two sides of the English Channel. It did not need to be this way. This is the irony of the current predicament.

      I look at Brexit as an academic and as a citizen. As an academic I feel fairly happy: Brexit is a fascinating case to study and it increases the audience for my work. As a citizen, however, I feel deeply unhappy. I grew up in Silesia, behind the Iron Curtain, and a Europe without borders was my dream. Today this dream is being destroyed; I don’t want to see new walls, beg immigration officers for a visa; apply for a work permit in a Europe which I consider my home.

    • Brexit is racist
      We are facing the biggest, most overarching, racist attack on immigration in generations.

      Here it is embodied in Brexit, which has propelled Theresa May to power. In the US it is embodied in Trumps election. Across Europe it is embodied by electoral successes of fascist parties and the militarisation of borders against people.

      It is up to a new movement and a new generation to organise, with the conscious programme needed to fight back and win: speaking the plain truth about racism, standing for real equality and dignity for all of our communities, including the right to be here, to live, work and study here – for every one of us.

      That is why MFJ exists: we have a program, we speak the truth about racism, sexism and bigotry, and we fight to win.

    • Brexit: If it looks like racism, if it smells like racism and if it feels like racism, who else but a politician could argue it isn't?

      The reality is, whether you like politics or not, political leaders have a significant impact on society and the massive rise in UK hate crimes, including deaths of Polish workers, is a direct reflection of the leadership (or profound lack of it) coming down from Westminster. Maybe you don't mean to sound racist, but if this is the impact your words are having, maybe it's time to shut up?

    • Amos Yee still detained despite U.S. judge granting him asylum – Trump’s executive orders blamed

      The News Lens, a Hong Kong based publication, reported today that Amos Yee is still being detained at the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) centre in Chicago. This despite the ruling of a United States Immigration Judge stating that the 17-year-old was eligible for release.

      The U.S. judge determined that Yee’s treatment in Singapore amounted to political persecution. Yee is still being detained because the U.S. Department of Homeland Security has decided to appeal the immigration judge’s ruling said that newspaper.

    • Singapore Establishment Licks its Wounds after US Court says Amos Yee Persecuted for Political Views

    • Is the U.S. Becoming a Corporate Authoritarian State Like Singapore?
      DHS has 30 days to appeal the immigration court’s decision, and undoubtedly it’s deciding right now whether to do so. An appeal, which DHS would file through its Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency’s Office of Chief Counsel, could reinforce ICE’s image as Trump’s presidential security force. And it would bolster the authoritarian regime in Singapore that has beguiled tourists and foreign investors with gleaming skyscrapers, obedient migrant workers and efficient management that reflect only a small part of its much harder, darker reality.

    • Amos Yee remains detained in the US despite being granted asylum
      Singaporean teen blogger Amos Yee remains detained in the United States despite being granted asylum last Friday, the law firm representing him said.

      Amos, 18, has been detained in the US since Dec 16 last year.

    • What freedom of speech really means
      Let’s take a trip now, to a country where that isn’t the case. In March 2015, Singapore teenage blogger, Amos Yee, uploaded a video criticizing Singapore’s long-time Prime Minister Lee Kwan Yew. He was arrested and, at age 16, tried as an adult on counts of “deliberate intention of wounding the religious or racial feelings” and “threatening, abusive or insulting communication.”

    • Singapore blogger remains in custody after granted US asylum
      A teenage blogger from Singapore who was granted U.S. asylum remains detained in a Wisconsin facility with few clues of when he'll be released.

      A Chicago immigration judge granted Amos Yee's asylum request Friday. The 18-year-old came to the U.S. after blog posts criticizing his government landed him in jail.

      The judge ruled there was evidence showing Yee suffered persecution in Singapore and had a "well-founded fear" of being persecuted upon return.
    • Trump’s Big Boost to Law Enforcement Won’t Make Us Safer — It Will Make Corporations Richer

      Back in August, the Obama administration issued a memo that many hoped signaled an end to the government’s use of for-profit prison corporations. That memo, issued by then-Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates, stated that the Justice Department would stop contracting with CoreCivic (formerly Corrections Corporation of America) to run 13 federal prisons. This directive was a symbolic win for many of us who opposed these contracts, and we were thrilled when stocks in CoreCivic and GEO Group, another for-profit prison corporation, plummeted as a result.

    • Trump Wants to Slash Medical Research Funding to Help Pay for Border Wall
      Lawmakers, scientists, and advocacy groups are decrying President Donald Trump's proposed cuts to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), saying they represent another broken campaign promise and a "heartless" attack on critical medical research.

      In keeping with his war on science, Trump's "skinny budget" released earlier this month outlined a 20 percent cut to the NIH; a specific proposal put forth this week would cut an additional $1.23 billion from the agency's 2017 fiscal year budget. The reduction is part of $18 billion in cuts Trump is requesting "from medical research, education, and other programs for the remainder of the current fiscal year to finance construction of a border wall and build up the military," as Bloomberg reported.

    • Another Journalist Killed in Mexico
      Mexico has earned the reputation of a dangerous place for journalists, a grim reality underscored by the murder last week of Miroslava Breach Velducea, a correspondent for the national newspaper La Jornada from the northern Mexican state of Chihuahua.
    • Undocumented Filipinos Are Living a Special Nightmare in Trump’s America

      Donald Trump distinguished himself last year by calling Mexicans rapists and vowing to build a wall along the southern border. Elected into office, he ante-ed up on the anti-Mexican demagoguery with a travel ban on Arab and African Muslim travelers. But promises to end undocumented immigration target so-called “model minorities” too.

      In fact, in addition to having the fastest-growing documented immigration rate in the United States, Asian Americans also have the fastest growing rate of undocumented immigration. A sizable number of these, like the nervous residents of Lledo’s community, are Filipino.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • Trump’s Net Neutrality-Hating FCC Chair Is Already Gutting Public-Interest Regulations
      Donald Trump, who has never been shy about demanding that the media do his bidding, now has the power to shape the rules that define the future of newspapers, broadcast media, and the Internet. Trump’s appointees are already employing the regulatory-agency equivalent of executive orders to gut programs that would ensure net neutrality, expand broadband access, guard against consolidation of media ownership, and enforce disclosure of sources of spending on political ads. “This is what government by billionaires and special interests looks like,” says former Federal Communications Commission chairman Michael Copps.

    • Why Silicon Valley isn't fighting to save the Internet (yet)

      The FCC has reversed a net-neutrality transparency rule and looked the other way as providers treat their own video services more favorably by not counting video streaming activity toward data plans.

    • FCC to halt expansion of broadband subsidies for poor people

      The Federal Communications Commission is dropping its legal defense of a new system for expanding broadband subsidies for poor people, and it will not approve applications from companies that want to offer the low-income broadband service.

  • DRM

    • Saskatchewan farmer hacks his 'smart' tractor to avoid costly dealer fees

      But some farmers have found a way around the company sale agreements so they can continue to repair their own tractors — by buying hacked software online.

      One farmer in Saskatchewan uses these underground solutions and agreed to speak with As It Happens host Carol Off. He asked to conceal his identity to avoid getting in trouble with tractor companies — or the law.

    • Farmers in Canada are also reduced to secretly fixing their tractors, thanks to DRM

    • Tractor Owners Using Pirated Firmware To Dodge John Deere's Ham-Fisted Attempt To Monopolize Repair
      We've been noting for a while how numerous states have been pushing so-called "right to repair" bills, which would make it easier for consumers to repair their own products and find replacement parts and tools. Not surprisingly, many tech companies have been working overtime to kill these bills. That includes Apple, which recently proclaimed that Nebraska's right to repair bill would turn the state into a nefarious playground for hackers. Opposition also includes Sony and Microsoft, which both tend to enjoy a repair monopoly on their respective video game consoles.

      Whether coming from Apple, Sony, or Microsoft, opposition to these bills usually focuses on the three (false) ideas: the bills will make users less safe, somehow "compromise" intellectual property, and open the door to cybersecurity theft.

      But it's easy to lose track of what started the recent groundswell of consumer support for these bills: the lowly tractor.

      It was John Deere's decision to implement a draconian lockdown on "unauthorized repairs" that has magically turned countless ordinary citizens into technology policy activists. A lengthy EULA the company required customers to sign last October forbids the lion-share of repair or modification of tractors customers thought they owned, simultaneously banning these consumers from suing over "crop loss, lost profits, loss of goodwill, loss of use of equipment … arising from the performance or non-performance of any aspect of the software."

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • [Older] The compulsive patent hoarding disorder

      It takes money to make money. CSIR-Tech, the commercialisation arm of the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), realised this the hard way when it had to shut down its operations for lack of funds. CSIR has filed more than 13,000 patents — 4,500 in India and 8,800 abroad — at a cost of ₹50 crore over the last three years. Across years, that’s a lot of taxpayers’ money, which in turn means that the closing of CSIR-Tech is a tacit admission that its work has been an expensive mistake — a mistake that we tax-paying citizens have paid for.

    • New Draft Work Programme On GIs At WIPO; Industrial Design Pushed To General Assembly
      A tentative way to continue conversing about geographical indications (GIs) at the World Intellectual Property Organization committee on trademarks and GIs was tabled by the committee chair today. The suggested approach includes a questionnaire to member states on the different ways GIs are addressed by national and regional systems. Meanwhile, a potential design law treaty was pushed off to the next WIPO General Assembly, held in autumn.

    • Berry on IP

      He writes:

      “Intellectual property” names the deed by which the mind is bought and sold, the world enslaved.

      Some Further Words

      I have no “intellectual property,” and I think that all claimants to such property are thieves.

      Sex, Economy, Freedom, and Community: Eight Essays (1993).

    • Judge Alsup Wants Uber & Waymo To Teach Him How To LiDAR Prior To Self-Driving Car Case
      Judge William Alsup certainly continues to make himself known for how he handles technology-intensive cases. In techie circles, he's mostly known for presiding over the Oracle/Google Java API copyright case, and the fact that he claimed to have learned to program in Java to better understand the issues in the case (in which he originally ruled, correctly, that APIs were not subject to copyright protection, only to be overturned by an appeals court that simply couldn't understand the difference between an API and functional code). He's also been on key cases around the no fly list and is handling some Malibu Media copyright trolling cases as well.

      And, last month, he was handed another big high-profile case regarding copying and Google: the big self-driving car dispute between Google's (or "Alphabet's") Waymo self-driving car company and Uber. In case you weren't following it, Waymo accused a former top employee of downloading a bunch of technical information on the LiDAR system it designed, only to then start his own self-driving car company, Otto, which was then bought up by Uber in a matter of months. Most of the lawsuit is focused on trade secrets, with a few patent claims thrown in as well.

    • Copyrights

      • Naturalis must halt refurbishment on grounds of architect’s copyright
        In recent interlocutory proceedings a judge ordered Naturalis, a museum in Leiden, to stop the refurbishment of its building. The building's architect had opposed the refurbishment on the grounds of his copyright in the original design.

        Any new work is automatically entitled to copyright protection, and it is therefore unnecessary to register this copyright. While not everything is protected by copyright, but the conditions are quite relaxed. In general, copyright tends to relate to music, films and books, but it is also relevant to architectural works. Thus, sketches, construction plans and the ultimate design may be protected by copyright.

      • The Copyright Industry's So-Called "Value Gap" Is Actually an Innovation Gap
        The is a crucial year for the Internet in Europe, because 2017 will see key decisions made about the shape of copyright law in the EU. That matters, because copyright is in many ways the antithesis of the Net, based as it is on enforcing a monopoly on digital content, whereas the Net derives its power from sharing as widely as possible. The stronger copyright becomes, the more the Internet is constrained and thus improverished.

        There are three key areas in the proposed revision to the EU's Copyright Directive where the Internet and its users are under threat from attempts to strengthen copyright. First, there is the panorama exception, which allows people to take pictures in the street without needing to worry about whether buildings or public objects are subject to copyright. Despite this being little more than common sense – imagine having to check the legal status of everything in view before taking a photo – copyright maximalists are fighting to stop a panorama exception being added to EU law.

        The second point of contention concerns the link tax, also known as the snippets or Google tax. The last of these explains the motivation: publishers want Google to pay for linking to their articles using snippets of text. Despite the obvious folly of charging for the ability to send traffic to your site, the copyright world's sense of entitlement is such that two countries have already introduced a link tax, with uniformly disastrous results.

      • Register of Copyrights selection bill clears House Judiciary Committee
        A bill that would require that the head of the US Copyright Office is a presidential nominee has been approved by the US House of Representatives judiciary committee. Bob Goodlatte, the committee’s chairman, says this is “the first initial legislative step” of wider copyright reform

      • GS Media and its implications for the construction of the right of communication to the public within EU copyright architecture: a new article
        In its 2016 decision in GS Media [Katposts here] the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) sought to clarify under what conditions the provision of a link to a work protected by copyright made available on a third-party website (where it is freely accessible) without a licence from the relevant rightholder falls within the scope of the right of communication to the public within Article 3(1) of the InfoSoc Directive.

        In its decision the CJEU held that whether linking to unlicensed content falls within or outside the scope of Article 3(1) of the InfoSoc Directive depends – crucially – on whether the link provider has a profit-making intention or knowledge of the unlicensed character of the work linked to.

        In this new article that I have written and will be published in Common Market Law Review, I attempt to assess the implications of the GS Media decision: (1) in respect of linking, and - more generally - (2) the construction of the right of communication to the public.

      • Trump Is About to Gain Full Control Over the US Copyright Office

        Currently, pending Congressional legislation seeks to shift authority over the US Copyright Office to the president. Trump had trouble gutting Obamacare despite a majority Republican congress. But this is probably going to be an easier one (for a number of reasons).

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[Meme] KISS, not SAAS
Gemini Protocol turns 5 in exactly 2 days
Hostageware: The Threat of Clown Computing (or 'SaaS', Another Misnomer or Buzzword) to Computer Users Everywhere
This problem isn't limited to Free software adopters
Jean-Pierre Giraud, Possible Forgeries & Debian: elections, judgments, trademark already canceled, archaeologist
Reprinted with permission from Daniel Pocock
Six on the Beach: After Losing Six Continents Microsoft is Losing Oceania Too
Based on the 6- or 7-continent view of the world
Links 17/06/2024: Mass Layoffs Accelerating in Tech, Concerns About Impact of the Net
Links for the day
Gemini Links 17/06/2024: Hyprland Analysed and No Use for Betrusted
Links for the day
Microsoft Can Never Make a Comeback Anymore, the Community is Shutting It Out
We're relying on the real community, not fake ones or coopted ones
The World is Becoming (or Has Already Become) Linux
An intercontinental success story
Georgia: Bing Share Fell by Half Since 'Bing Chat' (LLM Hype), Fell Behind Yandex As Well
Georgia's situation is interesting
[Meme] SPI and 'FSFE': Sponsored by Microsoft to...
women's instincts do not matter to these strongmen
[Meme] Shitburger of an LLM
IBM and the Hololens
Links 17/06/2024: Chatbot Nonsense Thrown Under the Bus (Severe Failure, Pure Hype), How to Finance Free Software 'Hackers'
Links for the day
Debian's Personal Attacks Are Upsetting Women, Too
Female Debian Developer: "I Believe Daniel [Pocock] is On the Right Track."
Microsoft's Bing is So Irrelevant in Moldova (1%) That Russia's Yandex is About 5 Times Bigger
How much longer before Microsoft throws in the towel?
12 Days Have Passed Since the Edward Brocklesby Revelations and Debian Project Has Said Absolutely Nothing About That
One must therefore assume they have nothing to say in their defence (covering up severe security failings)
Yes, You Can
Unless you live somewhere like Russia...
[Meme] Listen to the Experts
Bill Gates didn't even finish university]
Roy and Rianne's Righteously Royalty-free RSS Reader (R.R.R.R.R.R.) and the Front-End Interfaces
As the Web deteriorates the availability, quality and prevalence of RSS feeds is not improving, to put it mildly
Algeria Shows High GNU/Linux and Android Adoption, All-Time High and Almost Three-Quarters of Web Requests
GNU/Linux was below 3%, now it is above 3%
Mass Layoffs at Microsoft-owned GitHub (About 80 Percent of the Staff in India Laid Off)
It's not just in India
Over at Tux Machines...
GNU/Linux news for the past day
IRC Proceedings: Sunday, June 16, 2024
IRC logs for Sunday, June 16, 2024
Gemini Links 16/06/2024: Scarecrows, Moles, Ham Radio, and No IPs
Links for the day
Africa is Android and Green (Chrome, Not Just Android Logo)
In Africa Firefox is almost below 1% now
Coercion From the "Consent" and "CoC" Crowd is a Self-Defeating Tactic
Freedom of the press; Nothing less
Covering Abuses and Corruption
We'll never surrender to blackmail
According to statCounter, GNU/Linux Increased From 3.77% to 3.89% This Month (Worldwide), Windows Now Below 20% in 78 Nations, Below 10% in 27 Nations
Highest since March (for GNU/Linux)
Ubuntu Running Out of Energy
Its planet too is deteriorating
Links 16/06/2024: In Defence of Email and Why Recycling Symbol Lost All Meaning
Links for the day
Gemini Links 16/06/2024: Computer Science Course Union and Potentiometer
Links for the day
Cross border crime: sale of Swiss insurance in France and European Union without authorisation
Reprinted with permission from Daniel Pocock
Letting Microsoft systemd Manage /home Was a Terrible Idea All Along
systemd-tmpfiles, deleting /home
Patriotism is OK, But We Need Facts and Reason, Not Blind Obedience to Authority
Very seldom in the history of human civilisation has groupthink proven to be of real merit
When You Touch One of Us You Touch All of Us
We have a principled, uncompromising stance on this matter
Links 16/06/2024: New Sanctions Against Russia, Fentanylware (TikTok) Causing More Problems
Links for the day
Social Control Media in Japan: Twitter (X) Has Collapsed, YouTube Rising (Apparently)
What a genius Mr. Musk is!
Windows Cleansed in South Africa (Already Hovering Around 10% Market Share)
Plus Microsoft's mass layoffs in Africa
[Meme] Satya Nadella's Windows PC RECALLS Not What He Did
Satya got lucky
Usage of Let's Encrypt in Geminispace Has Collapsed (That's a Good Thing!)
Ideally, or eventually, all capsules will sign their own certificates or have their own CA
North Macedonia: Windows Down From 99.2% to 28.5%
Last year it was even measured at 26%
Over at Tux Machines...
GNU/Linux news for the past day
IRC Proceedings: Saturday, June 15, 2024
IRC logs for Saturday, June 15, 2024
Gemini Links 16/06/2024: Hand Held Maneuvering Unit and Hugo Static Files
Links for the day