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01.13.15

Microsoft Wastes Taxpayers’ Money by Fighting IRS After Evading Tax for Decades

Posted in Finance, Fraud, Microsoft at 12:09 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

An accounting calculator

Summary: The nerve of Microsoft wasting taxpayers’ money in addition to evading tax, costing many billions of dollars to the US economy and countless billions outside the US while bullying regulators who dare to investigate the matter

ONE of Microsoft‘s very many abuses is avoidance of tax, not only in the US but also in Europe, Asia, and so on. The company hardly has a track record of obeying the law, so why make an exception when it comes to taxes?

“Microsoft continues to thrive in and promote lawlessness.”Microsoft really showed how arrogant it is when it attacked the IRS for merely investigating Microsoft (i.e. doing its job). It’s unprecedented bullying that one can expect from no company other than Microsoft because Microsoft has a past of criminal tax violations. It bribed people to make the charges go away and eventually settled with the investigators. Even Microsoft whistleblowers get bribed by Microsoft. Rich companies can get away with just about everything, provided they have government connections and enough money to bribe with.

Based on this new report, Microsoft is already abusing the IRS to the point where the IRS needs to spend millions of dollars on lawyers:

The software behemoth is battling the agency over whether it pushed profits offshore to skirt taxes. It’s the latest case to test IRS firepower in cracking down on similar tax maneuvers by other technology companies, which can save hundreds of millions using the tactics.

Both are playing hardball: The IRS, which is spending $2 million on outside legal guns to fight the case, also issued a summons to compel former CEO Steve Ballmer to testify, while Microsoft shot back with legal demands of its own, accusing the agency of hitting it with a “fusillade.”

The legal fees paid by the IRS are basically derived from tax budget. The bills are passed to the very same taxpayers which Microsoft deprived; so by attacking the enforcer over tax violations (over its own crimes) Microsoft basically wasted yet more tax money. How insidious is that? In Spain, a banker sued the judge who punished him for his crimes. This is even worse because the public pays the legal bills. Microsoft continues to thrive in and promote lawlessness.

01.12.15

Links 12/1/2015: Linux Mint 17.1 Xfce, Linux 3.19 RC4

Posted in News Roundup at 7:19 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

Free Software/Open Source

  • AllSeen Alliance Launches Open Source AllJoyn IoT Gateway Agent

    The AllSeen Alliance, a cross-industry collaboration created to advance the Internet of Everything (IoT) through the AllJoyn open source software project, has released the AllJoyn Gateway Agent, an extension of the AllJoyn framework that delivers remote access, device management and fine-grained security and privacy control.

  • How the rise of open source could improve software security
  • Ori: Another Open-Source Distributed File-System

    Ori is a project out of Stanford and its features include peer-to-peer support, the ability to work offline, secure data transfers over SSH, and instant access with background synchronization.

  • Open Source History, Or Why Sharing Trumps Proprietary Society

    Is history open source? Not always, it seems, as Jonathan Band recently pointed out in an essay about copyright and legal issues surrounding the reproduction of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s speeches for the film “Selma,” which parallels the key debates about open vs. closed software.

    Writing on Techdirt, Band observed that the producers of the film did not obtain the rights to King’s original Civil Rights-era speeches. Consequently, the speeches King is portrayed as giving in the movie are not those he actually delivered in the 1960s.

  • Events

    • Do You Work in the Data Center? Here Are Three Open Source Projects You Need to Know About

      For years, open source solutions have gained steam as programmers and decision makers began to see firsthand how they could benefit from the technology.

      From a coder’s point of view, open source solutions provide a foundation upon which new pieces of software can be built rather than starting from scratch. From a business manager’s perspective, open source tools will likely cost the company considerably less than proprietary solutions while at the same time providing a high level of security and functionality.

    • Boybanders ONE DIRECTION launch DoS attack on open-source bods

      One Direction has launched a denial of service attack on an open source coding conference in Cardiff, with the band maliciously pinging tens-of-thousands of its teenage fans at the city on the same day as DjangoCon 2015.

    • Lockheed Martin introduces open source software platform

      Simpler real-time analytics processing and analysis possible on web-based hosting service.

    • Announcing the Community Leadership Summit 2015!

      For those of you who are unfamiliar with the CLS, it is an entirely free event designed to bring together community leaders and managers and the projects and organizations that are interested in growing and empowering a strong community. The event provides an unconference-style schedule in which attendees can discuss, debate and explore topics. This is augmented with a range of scheduled talks, panel discussions, networking opportunities and more.

    • Drones, IoT, Containers and Cloud: CollabSummit 2015
  • Web Browsers

  • SaaS/Big Data

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice

    • Playing With Solaris In 2015

      This weekend when deciding what extra benchmarks to run and planning more tests for the week ahead, I decided to explore doing some fresh Oracle Solaris benchmarks since my most recent Solaris benchmarks were back in 2012. I also haven’t had much (any?) Solaris news to relay recently so wanted to see if there was anything new within the ex-Sun camp.

    • German City of Munich To Help Shape Future of LibreOffice

      Germany’s third largest city has a long history of using open-source software, much of it well documented.

      More than 16,000 PCs of public employees run the open-source “LiMux” Linux operating system, and the city makes heavy use of LibreOffice and its open file formats.

      The city will be represented on the board by Florian Haftmann, whose appointment swells the ranks to 17 members, among them Google, Intel, RedHat, and MIMO (‘Inter-Ministry Mutualisation for an Open Productivity Suite’ and made up of various French governmental departments).

    • LibreOffice 4.4 RC2 Is Now Ready for Testing

      The Document Foundation has just announced that the second Release Candidate for the new LibreOffice 4.4 branch has been made available and is now ready for testing.

  • BSD

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC

  • Project Releases

  • Licensing

    • Top 10 FOSS legal developments of 2014

      The litigation surrounding Android continued this year, with significant developments in the patent litigation between Apple Computer, Inc. (Apple) and Samsung Electronics, Inc. (Samsung) and the copyright litigation over the Java APIs between Oracle Corporation (Oracle) and Google, Inc. (Google). Apple and Samsung have agreed to end patent disputes in nine countries, but they will continue the litigation in the US. As I stated last year, the Rockstar Consortium was a wild card in this dispute. However, the Rockstar Consortium settled its litigation with Google this year and sold off its patents, so it will no longer be a risk to the Android ecosystem.

      The copyright litigation regarding the copyrightability of the Java APIs was brought back to life by the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) decision which overturned the District Court decision. The District Court had found that Google was not liable for copyright infringement for its admitted copying of the Java APIs: the court found that the Java APIs were either not copyrightable or their use by Google was protected by various defenses to copyright. The CAFC overturned both the decision and the analysis and remanded the case to the District Court for a review of the fair use defense raised by Google. Subsequently, Google filed an appeal to the Supreme Court. The impact of a finding that Google was liable for copyright infringement in this case would have a dramatic effect on Android and, depending on the reasoning, would have a ripple effect across the interpretation of the scope of the “copyleft” terms of the GPL family of licenses which use APIs.

  • Openness/Sharing

  • Programming

    • Go 1.5 Is Still Working Towards Being Written In Go

      The plan for the upcoming release of Google’s Go 1.5 language is to have its tool-chain be written in Go. In order to bootstrap the new Go compiler tool-chain, they’ll depend on Go 1.4 to compile the new code.

Leftovers

  • Scottish storms: Power supplies still not restored to hundreds of homes

    About 600 homes are still without power after the storms which have swept Scotland, according to Scottish Hydro.

    Its power distribution division, SHEPD, said it had restored electricity to more than 120,000 customers since gale force winds hit power lines on Friday.

    Areas where power has yet to be fully restored include the Western Isles and rural areas around Dingwall and Wick.

  • Security

    • Thoughts – Not All Encryption Methods Live Up to Their Promises

      One example is the encryption featured in Skype, a program used by some 300 million users to conduct Internet video chat that is touted as secure.(3) It isn’t really. “Sustained Skype collection began in Feb 2011,” reads a National Security Agency (NSA) training document from the Edward Snowden archive.(4) Less than half a year later, in the fall, the code crackers declared their mission accomplished.(5) Since then, data from Skype has been accessible to the NSA snoops.(6) Software giant Microsoft, which acquired Skype in 2011, said in a statement: “We will not provide governments with direct or unfettered access to customer data or encryption keys.”(7) The NSA had been monitoring Skype even before that, but since February 2011 the service has been under order from the secret U.S. Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC), to not only supply information to the NSA but also to make itself accessible as a source of data for the agency.(8)

    • Security is a Concern for The Internet of Things

      The Internet of Things (IoT) was big news at the recent Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, and many of the biggest tech companies had related announcements. Apple wan’t demonstrating, but partners had the first set of devices that are HomeKit certified, which is Apple’s protocol for allowing smart home devices to work with the iOS platform. And, Google announced 15 new partners in “Work With Nest,” its developer program for adding third-party devices to Nest devices and networks.

  • Defence/Police/Secrecy/Aggression

    • Police Arrest Four People During Drone Protests at Airfield in UK

      The protesters have hung banners on the perimeter fence of the Royal Air Force in Waddington, calling to stop launch and use of drones from the air base. They have pointed out civilian casualties caused by UAVs during the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

    • Peace activists protest ‘brutal UK drone warfare’ at RAF base, 4 arrests

      Four peace activists were arrested at a Royal Air Force (RAF) base in Lincolnshire, northern England, on Monday while protesting against Britain’s use of armed drones. The site hosts the control center for UK drones abroad.

    • With Call To ‘End The Drone Wars,’ Activists Cut Their Way Into UK Air Force Base

      Four demonstrators opposed to Britain’s prolonged participation in foreign wars and use of armed drones were arrested on Monday after cutting through a fence at the Waddington Royal Air Force base near Lincolnshire, UK.

      According to the Guardian, RAF Waddington has been the growing focus of recent protests over Britain’s operation of unmanned aerial vehicles, which are controlled from the base.

      “Behind the rebranding, war is as brutal and deadly as it has always been with civilians killed, communities destroyed, and the next generation traumatized. And so we have come to RAF Waddington, the home of drone warfare here in the UK to say clearly and simply ‘End the Drone War’.”

    • Four peace campaigners arrested at drone protest

      The group: ‘ End The Drone Wars’ were Pax Christi executive member Chris Cole, 51, from Oxford, Katharina Karcher, 30, from Coventry, Gary Eagling, 52, from Nottingham and Penny Walker, 64, from Leicester. They are currently in police custody.

    • Drone protesters arrested at RAF base in Lincolnshire

      Four people campaigning against Britain’s use of armed drones have been arrested on suspicion of aggravated trespass.

      Lincolnshire police said two men in their early 50s and two women aged 30 and 64 were detained at RAF Waddington on Monday.

    • CIA Behind France Attacks, Says Ex White House Official

      Attacks carried out by alleged Islamic gunmen in France last week that left 17 dead were the work of the CIA, “designed to shore up France’s vassal status to Washington,” a former White House official has claimed.

      Former Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Economic Policy and editor of the Wall Street Journal, Paul Craig Roberts, wrote on his blog Thursday that the atrocities were a “false flag” operation, similar to those carried out after World War II to frame communists.

      “Muslims are going to be framed for an inside job designed to pull France firmly back under Washington’s thumb,” he wrote.

      The tragedy began when two heavily armed brothers burst into the Paris office of satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo Wednesday, killing 12. The drama continued with the murder of a policewoman, and two concurrent sieges, one in a kosher supermarket.

    • Raif Badawi and Saudi Arabia’s intolerance

      One would be to create a mechanism to fully expose the situation. Some kind of international commission of inquiry, similar to the one that investigated North Korea, would be a good place to start. It could take testimony and build a record about the kingdom’s repression of dissent and the absence of rights for women. Just the discussion would signal to the Saudi leaders that, despite their storied relationship with the United States, abuses of human rights will not be forgotten, or ignored, as they have been for too long.

    • Terrorist acts not cartoons provoke Islamophobia

      In response to the appalling attack on the offices of the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, the cry of Je suis Charlie (I am Charlie) has gone up in France, the rest of Europe and around the world.

      The idea, of course, was been to express complete solidarity, to the point of total identification, with the slain journalists and their right to publish provocative and even offensive material. However, almost immediately a dissenting voice also emerged in western discourse, condemning some of the material and refusing to identify with it.

    • Charlie Hebdo Attack Investigator Commits Suicide: Reports

      Helric Fredou, 45, suffered from depression and experienced burn out. Shortly before committing suicide, he met with the family of a victim of the Charlie Hebdo attack and killed himself preparing the report.

    • NY Times (Again) Carries Water for Government’s Post Hoc Drone Assassination Justifications

      American Anwar al-Awlaki has been dead for over four years now, but The New York Times is still giving substantial ink to the U.S. government’s self-serving meme that Awlaki was an “operational” terrorist,” even though we still don’t know whether ISIS or AQAP is responsible for the recent attack on the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo offices in Paris.

      I called out New York Times reporter Scott Shane for carrying the government’s water by pimping the “Awlaki was operational” narrative last year. Yesterday, Shane penned another lengthy article rehashing the U.S. government’s post hoc justification for targeting and assassinating Awlaki without due process.

    • Some European Bloodbaths Are More Interesting Than Others

      On July 24, 2011, two days after Anders Breivik slaughtered 77 people, mostly teenagers, in Norway to call attention to his view that Muslim immigration was a bad thing, NBC’s Meet the Press didn’t mention the words “Breivik” or “Norway.” Nor did CBS’s Face the Nation.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife

    • 72 Percent of Republican Senators Are Climate Deniers

      On Thursday, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) offered a simple amendment to the controversial bill that would authorize construction of the Keystone XL oil pipeline. Sanders’ measure, which he proposed to the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, would have declared it the “sense of Congress” that climate change is real; that it is caused by humans; that it has already caused significant problems; and that the United States needs to shift its economy away from fossil fuels.

  • Finance

    • Study: Students often clueless about how much they owe

      Terrance Mitchell knows. Rebecca Williams doesn’t. Eric Simon isn’t sure, but he thinks he might.

      Mitchell, a junior at the University of Michigan, owes $13,500 in federal student loans. Williams, a sophomore at Eastern Michigan University, has no clue how much she owes. Simon, a senior at Wayne State University, thinks he owes about $20,000, but isn’t real sure.

      That range of knowledge about student loans is common, a new study has found.

      The study, conducted by the Brown Center on Education Policy at Brookings, found that about half of all students in the U.S. underestimate how much debt they have and less than a third can come within a few thousand dollars of the correct total. About a quarter overestimate their level of federal debt.

      [...]

      A little more than 14% of Michigan students who started paying off their student loans in 2011 are already in default, just three years after they left college. That’s more than 25,000 borrowers who haven’t made a payment in at least 270 days. The national default rate for the class of 2011 is 13.7%, down from 14.7% for 2010.

    • Ivy League’s meritocracy lie: How Harvard and Yale cook the books for the 1 percent

      A special lottery is to be held to select the student who will live in the only deluxe room in a dormitory. There are 100 seniors, 150 juniors, and 200 sophomores who applied. Each senior’s name is placed in the lottery 3 times; each junior’s name, 2 times; and each sophomore’s name, 1 time. What is the probability that a senior’s name will be chosen?

    • Trial resumes for Swiss ex-banker charged with giving data to Wikileaks

      A former Julius Baer banker acknowledged that he passed confidential client data to WikiLeaks but argued his actions were not illegal, as his trial resumed on charges of breaching Swiss banking secrecy law.

      The trial of Rudolf Elmer, a self-described “Gandhi of Swiss tax law”, comes as banking secrecy in Switzerland is crumbling under international pressure from countries trying to recoup lost tax revenue.

  • PR/AstroTurf/Lobbying

    • For Fox News’ Steve Emerson, Factchecking Seems to Be a No-Go Zone

      Birmingham is Britain’s second-largest city; needless to say, non-Muslims go there all the time, given that only 20 percent of the city’s residents are Muslim (Guardian, 1/12/15).

    • Fox News ‘terror expert’ says everyone in Birmingham is a Muslim

      An American “terrorism expert” on the right-wing Fox News channel has declared that Birmingham is “a totally Muslim” city “where non-Muslims just simply don’t go”.

      Steve Emerson made the claim, which may come as a surprise to the hundreds of thousands of non-Muslim residents of Britain’s second-largest city, during a television discussion about no-go zones in Europe where Muslims are apparently in complete control.

    • Fox News pundit claims that Birmingham is ‘totally Muslim’ city

      Non-Muslims do not go to the British city of Birmingham, which has become a “totally Muslim” city, it has been claimed. Speaking on US news channel Fox News, Steven Emerson – who claims to be a “terrorism expert” – also said that gangs of religious police in parts of London beat up people who are not wearing Islamic clothes.

    • Enforcing with a smile

      Enforcers of China’s one-child policy are trying a new, gentler approach

  • Censorship

    • No, Mark Zuckerberg you do not stand with Charlie Hebdo

      You started out your entire narrative by outlining a Pakistani fanatic that wanted you dead for an offensive video. However, within Pakistan alone you censored over 1,773 pieces of progressive content. During the last half of 2013 and the first half of 2014, censorship on Facebook saw a 19% hike. Why is this relevant? Because the content you’re censoring in this country comes from left-wing liberal pages targeting extremism and oppressive state policies. On the other hand, pages with actual hate speech targeting both Muslim minorities and non-Muslims continue to push out their displaceable [perhaps you meant despicable] content with complete freedom and ease.

      Pakistan desperately needs a counter narrative to tackle issues relating to extremism and terrorism. This is a country that feeds on conspiracy theories and not facts. When the murders in Paris first took place people began analyzing images to see how fake they could be, because everything is a conspiracy against religion, it causes no trouble or damage on its own. Do you see what we are living with?

    • Je Suis Facebook? Mark Zuckerberg’s Post Raises Free Speech Questions

      It also includes Jillian York, director for international freedom of expression at the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

      “When Mark Zuckerberg says that, he doesn’t mean it,” York told NBC News from Berlin. “I don’t think Facebook stands for free speech at all.”

      She pointed specifically to Pakistan.

      As a result of government requests, Facebook removed 1,773 pieces of content in Pakistan in the first half of 2014, according to the company’s most recent transparency report. That trails only India and Turkey, where 4,960 and 1,893 pieces of content were removed, respectively, in the same time period.

    • Israel to demand apology for ‘anti-Semitic’ Netanyahu cartoon

      Israel is planning to demand an apology for a controversial cartoon that appeared in the British Sunday Times, Israel’s ambassador to London said Monday, while one minister mulled steps against the paper.

    • On Charlie Hebdo: A letter to my British friends

      Of course, freedom of speech has its limits. I was astonished to read from one of you that UK, as opposed to France, had laws forbidding incitement to racial hatred. Was it Charlie’s cartoons that convinced him that France had no such laws? Be reassured: it does. Only we do not conflate religion and race. We are the country of Voltaire and Diderot: religion is fair game. Atheists can point out its ridicules, and believers have to learn to take a joke and a pun. They are welcome to drown us in return with sermons about the superficiality of our materialistic, hedonistic lifestyles. I like it that way. Of course, the day when everybody confuses “Arab” with “Muslim” and “Muslim” with “fundamentalist”, then any criticism of the latter will backfire on the former. That is why we must keep the distinctions clear.

    • Legendary Cartoonist Robert Crumb on the Massacre in Paris

      You don’t have journalists over there anymore, what they have is public relations people. That’s what they have over in America now.

    • ‘We vomit’ on Charlie’s sudden friends: staff cartoonist

      A prominent Dutch cartoonist at Charlie Hebdo heaped scorn on the French satirical weekly’s “new friends” since the massacre at its Paris offices on Wednesday.

      “We have a lot of new friends, like the pope, Queen Elizabeth and (Russian President Vladimir) Putin. It really makes me laugh,” Bernard Holtrop, whose pen name is Willem, told the Dutch centre-left daily Volkskrant in an interview published Saturday.

      France’s far-right National Front leader “Marine Le Pen is delighted when the Islamists start shooting all over the place,” said Willem, 73, a longtime Paris resident who also draws for the French leftist daily Liberation.

      He added: “We vomit on all these people who suddenly say they are our friends.”

      Commenting on the global outpouring of support for the weekly, Willem scoffed: “They’ve never seen Charlie Hebdo.”

    • Death threats follow publication of cartoon in Israeli newspaper

      In the wake of the Charlie Hebdo massacre in Paris last week Haaretz published a daring cartoon juxtaposing journalists* killed in Gaza by Israel during the brutal summer slaughter with the journalists killed at the office of the satirical magazine in Paris. This set off a chain reaction which ultimately led to calls for murdering Haaretz journalists after Ronen Shoval, founder of the neo-Zionist and proto-fascist Im Tirtzu movement, called for an investigation of the newspaper’s editors. – See more at: http://mondoweiss.net/2015/01/journalists-publication-newspaper#sthash.qjHQxhhJ.dpuf

  • Privacy

    • David Cameron says new online data laws needed

      David Cameron has promised a “comprehensive piece of legislation” to close the “safe spaces” used by suspected terrorists to communicate online with each other.

    • UK’s Cameron won’t “allow” strong encryption of communications

      The British prime minister David Cameron has suggested that if his Conservative Party wins the upcoming general election, it will not allow encrypted communications that cannot be read by the security services.

      On Sunday, Cameron told ITV News: “I think we cannot allow modern forms of communication to be exempt from the ability, in extremis, with a warrant signed by the home secretary, to be exempt from being listened to. That is my very clear view and if I am prime minister after the next election I will make sure we legislate accordingly.” He repeated the sentiment again on Monday (video embedded below.)

    • Response to renewed calls for the Snoopers Charter
    • EU’s Tusk to push for airline data sharing after attack

      European Council President Donald Tusk will press EU lawmakers next week to drop their objections to states sharing airline passenger data as part of efforts to tighten security after the attack on Paris newspaper Charlie Hebdo.

      Speaking in Latvia on Friday, the former Polish prime minister who now chairs meetings of EU leaders, said he had discussed the response to the attack with French President Francois Hollande and would put the matter on the agenda of the next scheduled summit in Brussels on Feb. 12.

    • F.B.I. Is Broadening Surveillance Role, Report Shows

      Although the government’s warrantless surveillance program is associated with the National Security Agency, the Federal Bureau of Investigation has gradually become a significant player in administering it, a newly declassified report shows.

      In 2008, according to the report, the F.B.I. assumed the power to review email accounts the N.S.A. wanted to collect through the “Prism” system, which collects emails of foreigners from providers like Yahoo and Google. The bureau’s top lawyer, Valerie E. Caproni, who is now a Federal District Court judge, developed procedures to make sure no such accounts belonged to Americans.

    • Edward Snowden’s Father Speaks

      Lon Snowden on his son, on the courage of John and Bonnie Raines, and the price activists pay for exposing national secrets.

    • Charlie Hebdo: And Out Come The Surveillance Services Demanding More Budget, Powers

      Following the terrorist attack on the Charlie Hebdo offices in Paris, everybody and their brother have come out in support of freedom of speech. The problem is, they don’t even know what it is when asked. Meanwhile, the surveillance services waste no time in trying to use the attack to claim more powers.

    • EU legal advisers cast doubt on data retention legality

      The European Parliament’s legal advisors have issued a report into the repercussions of last year’s ruling by the Court of Justice of the European Union, in which the CJEU struck down the E.U. Data Retention Directive. And the lawyers’ opinions suggest that surviving national data retention laws are on shaky ground.

    • EU response to free speech killings? More internet censorship

      In the wake of this week’s terrorist attacks in Paris, which began with the killing of 12 people at the offices of satirical publication Charlie Hebdo, the interior ministers of 12 EU countries have called for a limited increase in internet censorship.

    • Obama to Call for Laws Covering Data Hacking and Student Privacy

      President Obama on Monday called for federal legislation intended to force American companies to be more forthcoming when credit card data and other consumer information are lost in an online breach like the kind that hit Sony, Target and Home Depot last year.

    • Obama: Hackers pose a ‘direct threat’ to families

      President Obama on Monday unveiled a series of new bills designed to ratchet up cybersecurity protections in the wake of a massive data breach at Sony Pictures, warning the growing problem of online attacks “costs us billions of dollars.”

    • Why Your Websites And Email Newsletters Will Always Beat Facebook Pages

      Where should you focus your online marketing efforts during 2015? In previous year’s campaigns on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media sites would have been high up on the priority list. Thanks to new policies and a need to maximise their own revenue, everyone should be wary of handing over control of the conversations to the likes of Facebook and Twitter. This year should be the year you take back control of the conversation.

      [...]

      Imagine if the marketing budgets for the Facebook Pages had been spent on bringing the audience to a property that was under the complete control of a brand. It might seem old-fashioned in a world of social media and user-created content indexes, but if these consumers had signed up to an email newsletter a year ago, the brand would still have that direct one-to-one relationship today, there would be no reliance on a mysterious traffic algorithm showing the content, and no extra budget would have to be spent to promote the message to try to get it read.

      I personally use Facebook, but many of the posts that I make are actually mirrors of the posts I make on my personal blog. With years of links, comments, and thoughts, my personal blog belongs to me, is under my control, and I have all the data of the posts, and the readers eyeballs, for my own use.

    • Motorola Moto E modifications

      The Motorola Moto E (model: XT1021 and related devices) is an affordable modern Android cellphone. It may be purchased in cash at your local MediaMarkt for around 100 Euros. It is easy to modify for your everyday surveillance detection, counter-surveillance and anti-surveillance needs. This phone is popular as it is compatible with SnoopSnitch. Nearly full information about the chips used on the phone are available. A high resolution tear-down image of the mainboard is floating around as well.

    • Any Revolution Can Be Repurposed

      The July Revolution comprised three days of fighting in Paris, primarily on free speech grounds against state censorship. Charles X, France’s last hereditary monarch, had imposed the death penalty for blasphemy against Christianity. He also suspended the liberty of the press and dissolved the newly elected Chamber of Deputies.

      Today, the column is used as a platform for surveillance cameras. We must be on our guard against similar repurposing today.

    • BBW reaction to the JCHR report into the Counter Terrorism and Security Bill
    • JCHR Report into the Counter Terrorism and Security Bill

      The Joint Committee on Human Rights has today published a report providing legislative scrutiny of the Counter Terrorism and Security Bill. In November last year we provided a breakdown of what was going to be contained in the Bill and our initial analysis.

  • Civil Rights

    • Watch ‘The Internet’s Own Boy’ on the 2-Year Anniversary of Aaron Swartz’s Death

      January 11, 2015 marks the two-year anniversary of Aaron Swartz’s death. The Reddit co-founder took his life at age 26, at a time he was ensnared in a legal battle that could have cost him $1 million and up to 35 years in prison if convicted.

    • A Saudi Whipping

      Badawi, who is thirty, ran a Web site called Saudi Liberal Network, which dared to discuss the country’s rigid Islamic restrictions on culture. One post mocked the prohibition against observing Valentine’s Day, which, like all non-Muslim holidays, is banned in Saudi Arabia. (Even foreigners aren’t allowed to buy trees for Christmas.) Religious police, known as the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice, have reportedly patrolled flower shops and chocolate shops to warn against selling items that commemorate an infidel celebration. The Web site scoffed, “Congratulations to us for the Commission on the Promotion of Virtue for teaching us virtue and for its eagerness to insure that all members of the Saudi public are among the people of paradise.”

    • Saudi Arabia blogger flogged 50 times out of 1,000 for ‘insulting Islam’, to be continued weekly

      Saudi blogger Raif Badawi has received the first 50 lashes of public flogging out of 1,000 for “insulting Islam” via an online forum that he launched. Jailed for ten years in prison, he faces over $200,000 fine.

    • France asked Netanyahu not to attend Paris march: Report

      Hollande conveyed a message to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu over the weekend asking him not to come to Paris to take part in the march against terror on Sunday

    • One Tweet from J.K. Rowling Perfectly Shuts Down Rupert Murdoch’s Anti-Muslim Rhetoric

      While it should be blatantly obvious that the attackers’ actions in no way represent a religion of roughly 1.6 billion people, Murdoch’s 140 character analysis clearly failed to grasp even the basic idea that an entire religion cannot be blamed for these attacks.

    • Exposing the ‘Unidentified Queen of Torture’ | Interview with Ray Nowosielski
    • The rights of whistleblowers vs. the Federal Government

      When information about the danger cigarettes posed to health began to circulate, tobacco companies did everything possible to suppress the information.

    • The War On Dodd-Frank Whistleblowers — How Wall Street Gags, Intimidates And Fights The Fraud Fighters

      Fearing the power and effectiveness of the Dodd-Frank whistleblower programs, big business has stepped up offensive tactics to prevent employees from exposing misconduct to federal regulators.

    • Egyptian student gets 3 years in jail for coming out as atheist on FB

      An Egyptian court has sentenced a 21-year-old student to three years in jail for insulting Islam after police discovered he declared his atheism on Facebook. The young man had been harassed for his atheist views and had his own father testify against him.

      Karim Ashraf Mohammed Al-Banna was tried in Idku city in northern Egypt. The student was arrested last November when he came to police to file a harassment complaint. It was revealed that Al-Banna was harassed in public for announcing he was an atheist online.

    • NY Times (Again) Carries Water for Government’s Post Hoc Drone Assassination Justifications
    • Hicks officially innocent, Pentagon admits

      The government lie that claimed David Hicks committed any crime is now done and dusted, officially.

      Hicks was, and is, innocent of any crime he has been charged with.

      The lie that he was a terrorist who had committed a crime was promoted by the Howard government, notably Prime Minister John Howard and Attorney-General Philip Ruddock, and by the Pentagon and US Administration. It has been perpetuated by the Abbott government, notably by AG George Brandis. But all their claims have now been officially admitted to be false and wrong in law.

    • Paris attacks: David Cameron to discuss greater spying powers with UK security chiefs as calls to revive ‘snooper’s charter’ grow

      David Cameron is to meet with UK security chiefs on Monday to discuss whether Britain will give greater powers to its police and spies in the wake of the Paris terror attacks.

      The Prime Minister said there were “things to learn” from the wave of violence that saw 17 killed across northern France from Wednesday to Friday – and he has faced pressure to revive the so-called “snooper’s charter” that would make it easier for GCHQ to monitor online communications.

    • Far too many Western Muslims speak of freedom as a sin

      Ill with flu last week, I watched the events unfolding in Paris with dread, rage and disbelief – feelings that surge every time there is an Islamicist atrocity. To kill so many over line drawings or as an expression of religious zeal? What drives these fanatics? In normal circumstances, I would have been on TV and radio channels providing immediate responses, soundbite explanations. Bedbound, I had time to reflect more deeply on this carnage and the question of freedom: what it means, how precious it is and how fragile. That fundamental human impulse and right has now become one of the most volatile and divisive concepts in the world today.

    • Lacey photographer refuses to turn over camera, gets arrested

      A freelance journalist for a local online news site was arrested Thursday while covering a motor vehicle crash, after he refused to turn over his camera to a detective from the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office.

      Andrew P. Flinchbaugh, 23, of Lacey, working for The Lacey Reporter, was charged with obstructing administration of law, which is a disorderly persons offense. He was taken into custody after he was repeatedly ordered by a detective to turn over the camera so whatever pictures or video Flinchbaugh had captured could be reviewed as potential evidence in the crash investigation.

    • Man arrested after refusing to give camera to police at crash scene

      “This is not a negotiation. Do I sound like I’m negotiating with you?”

      When you hear those words spoken by a police officer, their intention seems unmistakable. They mean: “Do what I tell you or I’ll arrest you.”

      This, indeed, is what happened when 23-year-old Andrew Flinchbaugh filmed the aftermath of a single-vehicle accident in Ocean County, N.J.

      Flinchbaugh, who has contributed in the past to a local news Web site, claims he was given permission to film by those first on the scene. However, one police officer seems to have taken exception to Flinchbaugh’s presence.

    • Careless Stereotyping

      So when we in the west who are not adherents to Islam speak of “Muslims”, who are we talking about? We are doing the same thing my acquaintance in the Levant did; taking countless unfamiliar people who we consider “different” and tagging them with a word that doesn’t mean much to us but does allow the application of a stereotype.

      More than that, it’s a bad stereotype. Just like calling everyone in the western world “Christian”, I have a problem with the attribution of any motive or collective responsibility to the 1.6 billion people who actually are Muslims, or of a unified strategy by the 49 countries where they are the majority, let alone to the others caught up in the stereotype’s dragnet (many of whom are in fact Christians, as well as other religions).

    • Dianne Feinstein, Strong Advocate of Leak Prosecutions, Demands Immunity For David Petraeus

      When WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange released his latest document trove—more than 250,000 secret State Department cables—he intentionally harmed the U.S. government. The release of these documents damages our national interests and puts innocent lives at risk. He should be vigorously prosecuted for espionage.

  • DRM

IRC Proceedings: December 21st, 2014 – January 10th, 2015

Posted in IRC Logs at 6:43 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

IRC Proceedings: December 21st – December 27th, 2014

GNOME Gedit

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#techrights log

#boycottnovell log

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#boycottnovell-social log

#techbytes log

IRC Proceedings: December 28th, 2014 – January 3rd, 2015

GNOME Gedit

GNOME Gedit

#techrights log

#boycottnovell log

GNOME Gedit

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#boycottnovell-social log

#techbytes log

IRC Proceedings: January 4th – January 10th, 2015

GNOME Gedit

GNOME Gedit

#techrights log

#boycottnovell log

GNOME Gedit

GNOME Gedit

#boycottnovell-social log

#techbytes log

Enter the IRC channels now

01.11.15

The EPO Connection Now a Liability as Administrative Council Has Become a Laughing Stock, Jesper Kongstad to be Targeted by EPO Staff Protests

Posted in Europe, Patents at 12:29 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: How the EPO constructed an unaccountable tyranny through which to act without any outside scrutiny, not even internal scrutiny, e.g. from the Administrative Council (AC)

OUR MANY ARTICLES about misconduct and misbehavior at the EPO go several years back. The EPO is not only emulating the USPTO‘s corporate patriarchy (things get better in the US these days) but is also borrowing a page from totalitarian regimes by appointing crooks to top positions while assaulting oversight. It’s like a state within a (super)state, the European Union. There is no accountability, definitely not to European citizens, let alone their elected officials.

Our coverage about EPO corruption wasn’t the first of its kind. Battistelli’s Jesper Kongstad connection was even noted in an article from the middle of last year — an article that said:

Back in 2010, when Benoît Battistelli was first appointed as President of the European Patent Office (EPO), there was a certain lack of transparency in the election process. As a blog post by IAM Magazine reported at the time, mischievous rumours quickly emerged from the EPO staff union newsletter (PDF link) to fill the vacuum of information regarding the circumstances of Mr Battistelli’s appointment.

Battistelli’s original contract was negotiated in secret with Mr Jesper Kongstad, the then Acting (and now actual) Chairman of the Administrative Council. It was rumoured, intriguingly, that the contract specified that Mr B’s place of employment was the Parisian suburb of Saint Germain-en-Laye (the town of which he was deputy major, the spiritual home of football team Paris Saint-Germain and the birthplace of Louis XIV, the Sun-King), and that it contained an annex granting him full pension rights at the end of his five-year contract. While Merpel, whose nine lives invariably make any sort of pension annuity unaffordable since the pension must last so much longer than expected, can see the attraction of having full pension rights after a relatively short employment stint, she wonders what advantage or reason could lie behind deeming Mr Battistelli’s place of employment to be 700 km west of where his office is actually located, if there is any substance behind that improbable rumour. The union newsletter, SUEPO Informs, also reported that Mr Kongstad refused to show the final contract negotiated with Mr Battistelli to the Administrative Council (‘AC’), despite repeated requests by its apparently quite powerless members

“Google, for instance, has been stuffed using some puff piece of both Battistell and Kongstad.”Florian Müller, who insists that it has been a while since Microsoft last paid him, recently wrote that the Administrative Council of Kongstad is a sham. “Instead of exercising oversight,” he wrote, “that body is largely responsible for the banana republic that the EPO has become.”

He also told us that “on [SUEPO] they’ve announced a new demo, this time in front of Kongstad’s country’s embassy” (Denmark).

“I just checked,” he added, “it’s the Munich consulate to be precise (embassy would be in Berlin). I may go there, take pictures and report.”

Here is the original announcement.

Searching the Web for information about the Battistelli-Kongstad connection isn’t too helpful. Google, for instance, has been stuffed using some puff piece of both Battistell and Kongstad. “Managing IP,” says one activist site, “is the magazine which published the controversial interview of Mr Battistelli and Mr Kongstad on 19 December 2014.”

They have a lot to cover up or lie about. We have already refuted many of their claims (responses to softball questions). The relationship between Battistelli and Kongstad, as evidenced by the joint interview, helped reaffirm if not expose a complete conflict. Merpel at IP Kat recently said: “Even the renominations in the December AC meeting, announced in the 12 December Communique, were, Merpel understands, only those for members whose term would expire before the next AC meeting. According to Article 11(3) EPC, second sentence **, these re-appointments require only the consultation, not a proposal, from the President. Previously, these re-appointments have been confirmed well in advance of the 5-year deadline. What is the cause, or intended effect of this brinkmanship? A worrying but plausible conclusion is that it is to make the Members concerned more biddable as their term comes up. Any such pressure, whether subtle or overt, would of course completely conflict with accepted principles of judicial independence.”

This speaks not only about the AC but also the Boards of Appeal. Basically, the EPO now has merely an illusion of separation of powers.

The EPO is something that acts a bit like the Kremlin. It hides behind European flag, symbolism, etc. and has among its staff people from different nations; in practical terms, it’s like a country (or cult) within a country and it is run by crooks who work hard to eliminate anyone not belonging to the cult. We urge our readers in Germany and EPO staff to attend protests until the issues are rectified and the EPO regains some sense of legitimacy.

Links 11/1/2015: Forgetting Munich, Firefox KDE Wallet

Posted in News Roundup at 12:05 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • ‘Linux Advocates’ Throws in the Towel

    Under Schmitz, the site was nothing if not eccentric. Although it lost its “mainstream” appeal (as much as a site focusing on FOSS can be said to be mainstream), it seemed to have gained a following of readers who appreciated Schmitz’s often confrontational style.

  • Desktop

  • Kernel Space

    • Graphics Stack

      • X.Org Is Formally Invited To Become An SPI Project

        Following last month’s failed vote due to not having a quorum, SPI on Thursday voted to officially invite the X.Org Foundation to become an SPI associated project. X.Org would live under the SPI umbrella and let the organization take care of its managerial tasks so the X.Org Foundation board and members could focus more on the actual development.

      • The GTX 970/980 Maxwell GPUs Light Up With Nouveau On Linux 3.19

        This weekend I got around to trying out the GeForce GTX 970 and GTX 980 “Maxwell” graphics cards with the Linux 3.19 kernel now that there’s initial support for these new GPUs via the open-source Nouveau DRM driver.

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

      • Firefox KDE Wallet for KF5

        I have a good news for Firefox and Plasma 5 users: I ported KDE Wallet password integration extension to KDE Frameworks 5!

        It seems to me that this plugin is unmaintained because both the released version and the SVN one do not support Firefox 33 or newer. So, as first step I took Guillermo’s code and bumped the Firefox version.

      • KDE Version Of Linux Mint 17.1 Released

        In late November was when the MATE and Cinnamon editions of Linux Mint 17.1 were released while today finally marks the official availability of the KDE spin of Linux Mint 17.1 Rebecca.

      • Using Krita for ARC comics

        First off we want to thank all the work put in by developers to maintain Krita, and the community that helps to fund and push Krita. At the risk of sounding really cliché, you all help to make our dreams, and many others’dreams, come true!

      • Curses! … I mean, Cursors!

        In the upcoming release of Plasma we’ve done some work on the humble cursor; we’ve added a few missing states, and there will also be a brand new “snow” version, along with minor tweaks to the existing Breeze cursors. But me being lazy and the merge window having closed, there are a great many more cursors which haven’t made it into this release, so I’m putting them here for everyone to use and redistribute.

      • Foursquare checkins via KDE tools

        This post was inspired by another article written by Damián Nohales. During his GSoC work at the GNOME project in the previous year he integrated the Foursquare service into this environment so users can make checkins from their laptop or PC.

      • KDE Frameworks 5.1 & Plasma 2.1 – First Impressions

        Today I took the plunge into the next-generation KDE desktop, performing a dirty upgrade from Kubuntu 14.04 to 14.10 before installing the plasma-5-desktop package; and this is my first impression of KF5.x and Plasma 5. This is also a bit of a primer, because when Plasma 5.2 enters the stage I’m interested to see the comparison and do a second write-up, using my experience in both 5.1 and 4.x as points-of-reference.

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK

      • FreeBSD Finishes Switching Over To GNOME 3.x

        FreeBSD GNOME developers have had various GNOME 3.x components in the FreeBSD Ports repository for months, and with GNOME 2.x now being decommissioned by this BSD operating system, the GNOME3 X11 desktop has replaced GNOME2 on the DVD install media script.

  • Distributions

    • PCLinuxOS/Mageia/Mandriva Family

    • Arch Family

      • Manjaro Linux – Works For Me!

        Enter Manjaro Linux. This was one of the last distros I’d tried during my hopping days that I really thought had some potential. Based on Arch, which has a lot going for it to begin with, and with extremely well written and maintained documentation and helpful forums, Manjaro is an attractive option, maybe even for the Linux neophyte. I liken it to what Mint does for Ubuntu, in that it polishes things up nicely, adds some useful software out of the box, and makes the installation a breeze. Arch itself can be a scary install requiring lots of reading and step by step, piece by piece building of your system. Manjaro does most of the dirty work for you, especially if you know which desktop you want from the get-go. I knew I wanted KDE, so I grabbed that and was off to the races.

    Leftovers

    • Science

      • Hard landing scutters intended reusable rocket

        The Falcon rocket landed too heavily on the barge and broke apart, according to SpaceX founder Elon Musk, while the unmanned Dragon cargo capsule went into orbit.

        [...]

        “Rocket made it to drone spaceport ship but landed hard,” he wrote on Twitter, adding “no cigar this time,” so that the 14-story rocket could be reused unscathed for future launches.

        [...]

        NASA has generally had to rely on Russia’s Soyuz capsules to ferry astronauts to the ISS since retiring its aging shuttle fleet in 2011.

        Last month, the agency successfully tests a version of its next-generation, long-distance Orion spaceship on a short flight.

        On board ISS is a crew of three Russians, two Americans and an Italian.

      • ‘Close, But No Cigar’: SpaceX Rocket Lifts Off and Lands With a Crash

        SpaceX launched a Falcon 9 rocket that successfully put a Dragon cargo capsule in orbit on Saturday, but its unprecedented attempt to land the uncrewed rocket’s first stage at sea ended with a crash.

    • Security

    • Defence/Police/Secrecy/Aggression

      • France’s most wanted woman, Hayat Boumeddiene ‘on the run’ in Syria: Reports

        The mugshot provided by the police shows a sleepy-eyed young woman, her face and brown hair showing, whom they had questioned in 2010 about Coulibaly.

        She is suspected of being Coulibaly`s accomplice in the murder of a policewoman in southern Paris on Thursday, during a massive manhunt for two brothers who a day earlier massacred 12 people at the offices of the satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo.

        Police also suspect she might have been involved in Coulibaly`s supermarket hostage-taking, though she was not identified among the dead or wounded.

      • George Zimmerman Arrested, Allegedly Threw Wine Bottle at Girlfriend

        Florida authorities say George Zimmerman, whose acquittal of murdering an unarmed black teen sparked a national debate on race and self-defense laws, has been arrested for allegedly throwing a wine bottle at his girlfriend.

        The Seminole County Sheriff’s Office says the 31-year-old Zimmerman was arrested for aggravated assault in Lake Mary about 10 p.m. Friday and is being held at the John E. Polk Correctional Facility.

        Zimmerman was released on a $5,000 bond Saturday afternoon. At a court appearance earlier Saturday, he was ordered to avoid contact with the woman, who was not identified.

      • The Day CIA Failed to Un-beard Castro in His Own Den

        But, as art imitates life from a bygone era, the plan to kill the North Korean leader harkens back to the days in the late 1960s and 1970s when scores of attempts were made by U.S. intelligence services to kill Cuban leader Fidel Castro, including by hired Sicilian Mafia hitmen.

        The hilarious plots included an attempt to smuggle poisoned cigars into Castro’s household and also plant soluble thallium sulphate inside Castro’s shoes so that his beard will fall off and make him “the laughing stock of the socialist world.”

      • President Obama’s New Policy on Cuba Could Be a Good Start

        In 1992 Miami Herald commentator Andrés Oppenheimer won a Pulitzer Prize for his book Castro’s Final Hour, thus giving “new meaning to the words final and hour,” as the late filmmaker and writer Saul Landau would wryly remark many years later. Fidel Castro would survive 11 U.S. presidents, at least eight [PDF] CIA plots to assassinate him, and a few premature obituaries, and live to see world’s most powerful country finally give in and recognize — in principle, at least — Cuba’s right to national self-determination.

      • When the United States Government Broke Relations with Cuba

        From December 1959, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) worked on numerous projects to assassinate Fidel Castro, even before Eisenhower approved a military invasion. By early February 1960, the United States government had given the CIA the green light to organize an invasion force to be trained in Guatemala and Nicaragua, then ruled by two brutal right-wing dictatorships. Meanwhile, counterrevolutionaries inside the island received training and resources such as incendiary bombs from the CIA to stage terrorist attacks in Havana and other urban areas while fast boats and airplanes engaged in constant sabotage of economic and coastal facilities from bases in south Florida. The Cuban authorities continuously denounced the incursions, the plots and the policy of violence and harassment.

      • Conservative Hypocrisy on the Cuban Embargo

        We are witnessing classic conservative hypocrisy with their predictable opposition to the lifting of the 54-year-old U.S. embargo against Cuba. That includes many Latin American conservatives who have come to view the U.S. government as their “papasito” and who are now lamenting that the U.S. government might no longer be intervening on their behalf in Cuba.

      • Former Commander of Army Special Operations Moves to CIA

        A former commander of Army Special Operations and the officer who led the first Green Berets on the ground in Afghanistan has joined the CIA.

        Lt. Gen. John F. Mulholland Jr. is the new associate director for military affairs at the nation’s top intelligence agency, the CIA announced in a statement from Director John Brennan.

      • America needs to blow up its entire intelligence infrastructure and rebuild from scratch

        We have the Windows 95 of intelligence. We need Linux.

      • US Drones, Pakistani Warplanes Kill Dozens in Tribal Areas

        The ones killed in the US strike were reportedly ethnic Uzbeks, while the ones killed in the Pakistani campaign were apparently local tribesmen. As usual, no names were provided for the slain.

        This is standard operating procedure for both Pakistan and the US in strikes in the area, as they offer little more than a vague assurance of suspicion in their killings, and never follow through except on the rare occasions when they managed to kill someone they’ve heard of.

      • The Year in Drones

        In October, the US celebrated (if that is the word) its 400th drone strike on Pakistan.

      • Drone Rules in Afghanistan Go Unchanged, And Other Reasons the War Isn’t Really Over

        Though many Americans may not have realized it, December 28th marked what the U.S. government called the official end of the war in Afghanistan. That war has been the longest in U.S. history – but despite the new announcement that the formal conflict is over, America’s war there is far from finished. In fact, the Obama administration still considers the Afghan theater an area of active hostilities, according to an email from a senior administration official – and therefore exempts it from the stricter drone and targeted killing guidelines the president announced at a major speech at the National Defense University in 2013.

      • ‘Good Kill’ Trailer: Ethan Hawke Controls Drones In New War Drama [WATCH]
      • Ethan Hawke Pilots Drones in Andrew Niccol’s First ‘Good Kill’ Trailer

        Early this year, the time travel thriller Predestination with Ethan Hawke hits theaters, but it looks like we might get a double dose of the Boyhood star because the drone pilot drama Good Kill just released an international trailer. Hit or miss sci-fi director Andrew Niccol (Gattaca, In Time) is at the helm of this film that follows Hawke as a fighter pilot who has adapted with technology and become a drone pilot. However, the task of piloting a drone for 12 hours a day and carrying out targeted kills from thousands of miles away just doesn’t feel right for the Air Force veteran. It looks like we might get some provocative political commentary on drones, not unlike what Niccol delivered with Lord of War before.

      • Pentagon Doesn’t Know How Many People It’s Killed in the ISIS War

        The American military may have launched hundreds of airstrikes on Iraq and Syria. But it’s not so sure who was on the receiving end of those bombs.

      • U.S. drone strikes continue in several countries in 2014

        The Bureau of Investigative Journalism claims that 2,379 people were killed by the strikes. The Bureau also says that only 12 percent of the victims actually identified have been linked to any militant organizations. The victims are routinely described as suspected militants.

        In October of last year Rafiq ur Rehman, a school teacher and his two young children testified before the US Congress about the death of his 67 year old mother as she gathered okra in her garden a year earlier when she was killed by a drone strike. Only five members of Congress bothered to show up.

      • Wrapping the world in war

        President Obama promised to end our ‘forever war,’ but he could leave office having wrapped the entire world in war.

        The Obama administration has adopted the view that the United States should use deadly force against its enemies wherever they are. That’s the terrifying and all-encompassing characteristic of America’s war. If enemies of the United States go to Pakistan, or Morocco, or the Philippines, the war can follow them.

      • US drone war: 2014 in numbers

        While there have been more strikes in the past six years, the casualty rate has been lower under Obama than under his predecessor. The CIA killed eight people, on average, per strike during the Bush years. Under Obama, it is less than six. The civilian casualty rate is lower too – more than three civilians were reported killed per strike during the past presidency. Under Obama, less than one.

      • Shrinking targets: Drone hits declined by 32%, says report

        The number of drone strikes carried out in Pakistan by the United States dropped by more than 32 per cent in 2014 as compared with the previous year, according to the Pakistan Institute of Peace Studies’ (PIPS) Pakistan Security Report 2014. A total of 21 strikes were reported last year, killing an estimated 144 and wounding 29 over a period of six months.

      • New book eyes drone impact

        Cohn said many people don’t realize that attacks authorized by President Obama have “killed more people with drones than died on 9/11,” and that only “a tiny percentage” were al-Qaeda or Taliban leaders.

      • Opinion: Shine a light on U.S. policy of drone warfare

        An estimated 3,500 people – hundreds of them children – have been killed by drones. While some of those killed were undoubtedly violent terrorists, fewer than 50 (2 percent) were confirmed to be high-level targets, according to a study undertaken by Stanford Law School and New York School of Law. There are numerous allegations, some confirmed by reliable news sources, of entire wedding parties and extended families killed by U.S. drones.

        Also troubling is the blowback these strikes create. They may in fact produce more terrorists, more angry young people who see their families and their countries torn apart by U.S. violence. We can’t help but wonder if U.S. policy may contribute to destabilization and recruitment of terrorists.

      • Will the US Drone War End?

        With the formal conclusion of US-led hostilities in Afghanistan, new attention has been focused on the role the US will play as trainers and advisers to the Afghan National Security Forces. Specifically, what the US counterterror (CT) mission against terrorist organizations such as al-Qaeda and the Taliban will look like. President Obama has already increased the residual force for 2015 adding 1,000 extra troops to the previously stated 9,800. Interestingly, commentators have been examining how the US will continue its CT campaign, which relies heavily on controversial drone strikes against known terrorist actors and their positions.

      • Drone Guidelines to Protect Civilians Do Not Apply to Afghanistan: White House Official

        Despite the December 28th “official” end of the U.S.-led war in Afghanistan, a new Rolling Stone article provides more proof that armed combat is nowhere near over: the Obama administration still considers the country to be an “area of active hostilities” and therefore does not impose more stringent standards aimed at limiting civilian deaths in drone strikes.

        At issue are the Presidential Policy Guidelines (pdf), passed in May 2013 in response to widespread concerns about the killing and wounding of non-combatants by U.S. drone strikes. The new guidelines impose the requirement that “before lethal action may be taken,” U.S. forces are required to attain “near certainty that non-combatants will not be injured or killed.” It is impossible to verify the impact of this reform on civilian deaths and injuries, because U.S. drone attacks are shrouded in near total secrecy.

    • Finance

    • Privacy

    • Civil Rights

    • Intellectual Monopolies

      • Copyrights

        • Chilling Effects DMCA Archive Censors Itself

          The much-praised Chilling Effects DMCA archive has taken an unprecedented step by censoring its own website. Facing criticism from copyright holders, the organization decided to wipe its presence from all popular search engines. A telling example of how pressure from rightsholders causes a chilling effect on free speech.

01.10.15

Software Patents in an Age of Political Corruption and Corporate Domination

Posted in America, Europe, Patents at 12:24 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Flags

Summary: The patent systems and their peripheral enforcers continue to put so-called ‘rights’ of corporations before interests of citizens

Political corruption and unlimited scope of patents seem to have a correlation. When large businesses want infinite protectionism they tend to massage copyright and/or patent laws, completely oblivious to the interests of the residents who supposedly elect politicians to serve them. Such is the case not only in the US (see USPTO) but also in Europe, especially in recent years because new governance bodies are forming and some unite or harmonise laws. We end up being captives of multinationals such as Philips and Siemens. The EPO goes as far as hiring very corrupt individuals and the current Presidency of the EU Council, Latvia, is sponsored by BMW, Microsoft, etc. It is basically a corporate Presidency, just like the political parties in the United States (funded and controlled by large corporations). One doesn’t need to be a cynic to talk about what’s wrong about the Presidency of nearly a whole continent being sponsored by Microsoft. The EU has basically inherited ‘Russian oligarchs’ standards and is no longer trying to even hide it (not so well anyway). It helps explain how we get all these ‘trade’ collusions and other nonsense-based legislation in Europe. The FFII actively works in this area and so are other groups from Europe. There is activism all the time, but will the population win?

“There is activism all the time, but will the population win?”Florian Müller (Microsoft Florian) appears to have joined our cause in reforming the EPO or ousting its management. He says that “pressure mounts on EPO president and administrative council over suspension of patent judge”. Linking to Techrights he notes: “Having watched various political scandals over the years, I consider it a rule of thumb that an affair that results in statements and actions even during the Holiday Season, and that continues with undiminished force after the Holiday Season, tends to result in someone’s resignation or ousting. Smaller issues go away and are not carried over into the new year. But the really big issues do survive the Holiday Season.”

We have a real problem in Europe right now because the legal ‘industry’ has basically taken over much of the political system. Gérald Sédrati-Dinet, who is close to the FFII and April (France), says that “during Unitary Patent procedure, Wikström was the representative of the patent microcosm” (meaning the patent lawyers and other pro-patents maximalists).

Across the Atlantic in the US (and across the Pacific for Asia) there remains a xenophobic embargo agency (for US companies only) called the ITC. It is still active and this report explains how. To quote the new article:

When making their case against alleged infringers, patent-holders have two options in the US legal system: filing a case in federal court, or petitioning for an investigation at the International Trade Commission (ITC).

We live in an unfair world where unfair competition is standard. People who head large corporations, i.e. managers, acquire monopolies through lawyers-dominated systems (where scientists are dominated and intimidated by corrupt managers) and these monopolies are in turn used against science and technology, all in the name of profit (for the few). It’s like a kind of coup against hard-working people. Whether it’s the EPO, USPTO, ITC or some other state-run or state-sanctioned entities (not private companies or patent trolls), we are surrounded by many who are trying to harm us while throwing around words like “innovation”, “protection”, etc. In many cases, private firms exploit these supposedly public bodies for private profit (externally/peripherally). It’s a massive swindle enabling transfer of wealth and control.

Toyota deserves some credit this week for following the path of Tesla and throwing patents out of its arsenal (it's misleading to call this "open source", it is merely disarmament). If only more companies did that…

The Art of Lying About Android’s (Linux-based Platform) Growth

Posted in Apple, Google, Microsoft at 11:54 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

The only platform that is losing market is the corporate press

Pen

Summary: The Microsoft- and Apple-friendly press is bending backwards to make Android look like a losing platform

APPLE vs. Google (or iOS vs. Android) fan wars are boring because rarely do they focus on ethics, freedom, etc. Nevertheless, we often see anti-Android bias coming from Apple-oriented or pro-Microsoft sites. It’s what should be expected and where facts are being distorted we need to weigh in.

“There is no denying that Android is gaining quickly at Apple’s expense, not only in phones but also in tablets.”The other day we were reminded of severe security flaws in Apple operating systems (more here, not to be confused with security issues in underlying ‘apps’ [1]) and one influential Apple booster said that Apple’s software quality had taken “a nosedive” lately. As BGR put it: “Instapaper creator Marco Arment is certainly one of the most read and widely influential Mac and iOS developers around. And when he says that there’s something seriously wrong with the way things have been going with Apple’s software lately, many people will take note.

“In a new essay posted on his website, Arment offers a blistering critique of Apple’s latest software releases and then delivers the ultimate insult that would have made Steve Jobs weep: He compares some of the latest iOS and OS X software flubs to the mistakes that Microsoft repeatedly made with Windows.”

There is no denying that Android is gaining quickly at Apple’s expense, not only in phones but also in tablets. ZDNet, a technology tabloid of CBS, tries to warp the facts using a very misleading headline and an article that is quite baseless. As this tabloid continues its US-only propaganda (extrapolating from US to the whole globe) against Android — and by extension Google — it is willing to draw conclusions even based on a poll with sample size of just 112. We have seen other such misinformation before. People from Microsoft love to spread it, just like Microsoft itself. CBS staff from Microsoft last month used US-only figures that tacitly insinuated that Android was losing globally. False. CBS is doing it again this month (the guy from Microsoft also advertises Microsoft and Microsoft’s lock-in/trap for Android). To be fair, not only CBS did it as others advertised this trap and the US-only propaganda (like that from CBS) could also be found in US-based sites/networks like America Online (AOL), Time, CNBC, Business Insider, eWeek, and BGR. These very misleading headlines and claims leave one with the impression that Apple is now beating Android and the tide as a whole has turned. Relative to the entire world Apple has always had somewhat of an edge in the US, so none of it is news. The US-based EFF sure prefers Android [2], regardless of the trend in the US. As for the promotion of Microsoft inside Android, a reader of ours labeled it “Fighting against ODF, not that ODF support on Android is adequate yet.”

We can generally say that a lot of the press remains hostile towards Android. Maybe not enough ads and product placements?

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. Android apps ask for too many intrusive permissions, Zscaler analysis finds

    In the economy of mobile apps, you are less a consumer of software than consumed by it. That’s according to security firm Zscaler that has analysed the surprisingly intrusive permissions demanded by many popular Google App store apps before they will allow a download to start.

  2. The EFF’s New App Is Android-Only, As Organization Calls Out Apple For “Outrageous” Developer Terms

    Non-profit digital rights organization EFF rolled out a new mobile application this morning, which allows users to more easily access the group’s “action center” from their smartphone. However, the new app is only being made available to Android users, the EFF explains, because the group has issues with Apple’s Developer Agreement. The EFF says it could not agree to its terms, which it calls “outrageous” and “bad for developers and users alike.”

Links 10/1/2015: Mirantis OpenStack 6.0, Linux Mint 17.1 KDE, Linux Leap Second

Posted in News Roundup at 11:19 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

Free Software/Open Source

Leftovers

  • Science

  • Security

  • Defence/Police/Secrecy/Aggression

  • Censorship

    • In Solidarity With a Free Press: Some More Blasphemous Cartoons

      Defending free speech and free press rights, which typically means defending the right to disseminate the very ideas society finds most repellent, has been one of my principal passions for the last 20 years: previously as a lawyer and now as a journalist. So I consider it positive when large numbers of people loudly invoke this principle, as has been happening over the last 48 hours in response to the horrific attack on Charlie Hebdo in Paris.

    • Who’s Afraid of Wikileaks? Missed Opportunities in Political Science Research

      Leaked information, such as WikiLeaks’ Cablegate, constitutes a unique and valuable data source for researchers interested in a wide variety of policy-oriented topics. Yet political scientists have avoided using leaked information in their research. This article argues that we can and should use leaked information as a data source in scholarly research. First, I consider the methodological, ethical, and legal challenges related to the use of leaked information in research, concluding that none of these present serious obstacles. Second, I show how political scientists can use leaked information to generate novel and unique insights about political phenomena using a variety of quantitative and qualitative methods. Specifically, I demonstrate how leaked documents reveal important details about the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations, and how leaked diplomatic cables highlight a significant disparity between the U.S. government’s public attitude towards traditional knowledge and its private behavior.

    • Unmournable Bodies

      Rather than posit that the Paris attacks are the moment of crisis in free speech—as so many commentators have done—it is necessary to understand that free speech and other expressions of liberté are already in crisis in Western societies; the crisis was not precipitated by three deranged gunmen. The U.S., for example, has consolidated its traditional monopoly on extreme violence, and, in the era of big data, has also hoarded information about its deployment of that violence. There are harsh consequences for those who interrogate this monopoly. The only person in prison for the C.I.A.’s abominable torture regime is John Kiriakou, the whistle-blower. Edward Snowden is a hunted man for divulging information about mass surveillance. Chelsea Manning is serving a thirty-five-year sentence for her role in WikiLeaks. They, too, are blasphemers, but they have not been universally valorized, as have the cartoonists of Charlie Hebdo.

    • Another Day, Another Bogus Set Of DMCA Takedowns Based Solely On Keywords (This Time Hiding Legit GitHub Projects)

      For many years we’ve seen DMCA takedowns that were clearly based on little more than quick keyword searches. There are so many of these cases that it’s difficult to keep track of them, but a few examples: Fox demanded a takedown of an article on the SF Chronicle’s website… because Fox owns the rights to the movie Chronicle. Some companies, like LeakID seemed to specialize in sketchy takedowns based on just keywords and not actually looking at the content. A story getting attention on Headline News (with followup from TorrentFreak) details just the latest example.

    • We Are Not All Charlie

      The police are evacuating the Gare du Nord station in Paris as my train from Brussels arrives; a suspicious package, I learned later. The rain is coming down quite hard. I resist the urge to interview my taxi driver about the current mood.

      [...]

      I wish President Obama had not said this, for a number of reasons, not the least of which is that the Holocaust is an historical fact, and church desecrations are physical crimes against property; neither vandalism nor the denial of historical reality compare to the mocking of unprovable religious beliefs. (And yes, I find attacks on the principles of my faith painful, but I would defend the right of people to make such attacks; I’m opposed, for instance, to the criminalization of Holocaust denial.)

      Mainly, Obama’s statement is troubling because it should be the role of the president of the United States, who swears an oath to defend the Constitution, to explain to the world the principle that free speech is sacred—painful, sometimes, but sacred. If the future does not belong to those who slander the prophet of Islam—in other words, to people who speak freely and offensively—then it belongs to those who would suppress by force any criticism of religion. This is not an American idea, and it certainly isn’t Charlie.

    • Every geek is Charlie

      Terrorism isn’t just performing a terrifying act. It’s provoking society’s immune system into attacking itself, making its defense systems attack the values and people they are supposed to be defending. Terrorism is like an autoimmune disorder of democracy. When we focus on the violence instead of the subtlety of the infection, it is easy to succumb as it seeks to provoke us into destroying ourselves.

    • Danish mosque doubles down on Isis support

      In a newly-aired documentary, leaders of the Grimhøj Mosque said that they want to see Isis win, that a Danish suicide bomber is a hero and that they do not believe in democracy.

    • Saudi Arabia: Free Speech Doesn’t Apply Here

      Just two days after issuing a condemnation of the terror attack on the Charlie Hebdo office in Paris, the government of Saudi Arabia began carrying out a public flogging against blogger Raif Badawi, who in May was sentenced to ten years in prison and 1,000 lashes for insulting Islam.

    • Charlie Hebdo – Defending Freedom of Speech

      The horrifying murders of cartoonists at the Charlie Hebdo offices in Paris have been a grim start to the new year. In our connected world we hear of atrocities all the time. But the thought that people are willing to deliberately target freedom of speech has been particularly chilling. This is at the heart of our society – the freedom to debate, criticise, laugh, disagree, be angry, fall out and make up again.

      [...]

      To me if the attack was about destroying freedom of speech our response has to be really acting to protect it. Stop default web blocking. Encourage democratic debate. Question regimes that oppose freedom even if they happen to be allies like Saudi Arabia. Stop casual police monitoring of social media. Resist knee jerk reactions to tabloid fear headlines.

  • Privacy

    • Spanish Judge Says Use Of ‘Extreme Security Measures’ For Email Is Evidence Of Terrorism

      After a series of moves that include introducing copyright laws that threaten the digital commons and open access, as well as criminalizing online calls for street demonstrations, Spain is fast emerging as a serious rival to Russia when it comes to grinding down the digital world. Unfortunately, it seems that lack of understanding extends to the judiciary too, as shown by recent events reported by Rise Up, an “autonomous body based in Seattle”, which aims to provide secure and private email accounts for “people and groups working on liberatory social change”.

    • UK Intelligence Boss: We Had All This Info And Totally Failed To Prevent Charlie Hebdo Attack… So Give Us More Info

      What’s especially sickening about this is that this argument “works” for surveillance state opportunists whether they succeed or fail. If they actually do stop terrorist threats (and in the same speech Parker claims they have stopped a few planned attacks in “recent months” but fails to provide any details), they use that to claim that the surveillance works and they need to do more. Yet when they fail to stop an attack — as in the Charlie Hebdo case — they don’t say it’s because the surveillance failed, instead, it’s because they didn’t have enough data or enough powers to collect more data. In other words, succeed or fail, the argument is always the same: give us more access to more private data.

    • PEN America: “The Harm Caused by Surveillance…is Unmistakable”

      PEN America published a report this week summarizing the findings from a recent survey of 772 writers around the world on questions of surveillance and self-censorship. The report, entitled “Global Chilling: The Impact of Mass Surveillance on International Writers,” builds upon a late 2013 survey of more than 500 US-based writers conducted by the organization.

    • Media Matters staff: Fox Guest Suggests A “Muhammad Law,” Similar To Megan’s Law, To Monitor Muslims Who Support Sharia
    • Cloud App Policy Violations Are a Growing Concern

      The January 2015 Netskope Cloud Report shows an increasing use of cloud applications by enterprises.

      The race to the cloud is continuing to accelerate, with more cloud apps than ever now being used by enterprises, according to the January 2015 Netskope Cloud Report.

    • A sober Snowden deems life in Russia ‘great’

      “They talk about Russia like it’s the worst place on earth. Russia’s great,” the former NSA contractor told journalist James Bamford during an interview in Moscow for the PBS program “NOVA,” which released a transcript of the conversation Thursday.

    • At CES, privacy is a growing business

      Whenever I say the word “privacy” to many of the presenters at International CES, there’s a little sigh before they answer. The thing to get excited about at this year’s show, after all, is the connection of everything to the internet, so you can track how much energy your lightbulbs use or how you hold your toothbrush.

  • Civil Rights

    • How Did TV News Talk About Torture in Coverage of the Torture Report?

      Indeed, as the study explains, “Representatives of human rights groups and experts on international law were notable for their absence.” Out of the 104 guests surveyed in the study, only two lawyers who represented torture victims–Joseph Margulies (12/9/14) and Meg Satterthwaite (12/14/14)–appeared as part of the torture discussion. This was perhaps the closest the media got to emphasizing human rights.

    • Responding to terrorism

      This was without doubt intended as an act of terrorism. But I refuse to be terrorised and decline the opportunity to hate. What does that mean practically? Terrorism is like a pernicious auto-immune disease to which it is easy to succumb. It seeks to provoke us into destroying ourselves.

    • White House Responds To Petition About Aaron Swartz By Saying Absolutely Nothing

      Soon after the unfortunate suicide of Aaron Swartz, a lot of anger was directed at Carmen Ortiz, the US Attorney who was the key figure behind the ridiculous prosecution of Swartz for daring to download too many documents (that he had legal access to, as did anyone connecting to MIT’s network). Ortiz showed no concern at all that either she or her office had done anything improper in threatening Swartz with over 30 years in jail for downloading (legally) some academic papers. As a result some people set up one of those “We the People” White House petitions, asking the Obama administration to remove Ortiz from her job.

    • Non-lethal force is still abuse: Police officers tackle, cuff Tamir Rice’s sister in her moment of grief

      Cleveland city officials have released a video showing police officers tackling the 14-year-old sister of Tamir Rice in the moments after officer Timothy Loehmann fatally shot her 12-year-old brother. In the footage, Rice’s sister can be seen running to the scene. As she approaches, an officer forcefully brings her to the ground. Another officer approaches and continues to hold her down. She’s handcuffed and put into the back seat of the patrol car. Loehmann, meanwhile, stands idly nearby Rice’s bleeding, dying body.

    • No to Securitarian Instrumentalisation

      Without even waiting for the end of investigations on the despicable attack against Charlie Hebdo on January 7th, the government is set on increasing counter-terrorist arsenal, first by notifying Brussels the decree implementing “terrorists” or child pornography websites blockade but also by announcing new counter-terrorism measures. La Quadrature du Net calls on citizens to reject this absurd escalation and show determination in defending the freedom of expression and information.

    • Obama & Counterterror: The Ignored Record

      As he has in matters of environmental protection, immigration reform, and normalization of diplomatic relations with Cuba, Obama can take significant steps under his executive authority, without the need for legislation. These would include allowing criminal investigation of the officials who authorized the CIA’s torture, shutting Guantánamo, ending the military commissions, announcing clear rules for drone use, and embracing effective limits on intrusions into privacy by electronic surveillance. With his legacy at stake, it is still not too late for Obama to demonstrate that our security indeed does not depend on abandoning our rights.

    • Government wants to know potential Sterling jurors’ opinions about whistleblowers

      “Do you have any positive or negative beliefs or opinions regarding the term ‘whistleblower’ or individuals who act in the role of a ‘whistleblower’?” the government wants to have Judge Leonie Brinkema ask potential jurors in CIA whistleblower Jeffrey Sterling’s trial next week. “Do you have any opinion, favorable or unfavorable, about organizations or individuals who release to the public government documents and information without authorization, including the news media, government employees, or private persons?” the government offered as another proposed question for jurors.

      Sterling, meanwhile, is more interested in what potential jurors think of Condoleezza Rice. As National Security Adviser, she convinced the New York Times not to publish James Risen’s story on Operation Merlin, the dubious plot to deal Iran flawed nuclear blueprints. Prosecutors had wanted to submit the talking points she used to do so, without calling her to testify, but Judge Brinkema ruled that Rice would have to take the stand to enter those talking points. The government objects to questions specifically directed to opinions about Rice, finding it “inflammatory.”

    • Markings of a Citizen

      I saw the gravity of the whole situation. The huge amount of trust that Edward had to make towards Glenn Greenwald and Laura to be able to get the information out in a right way by adhering to the CHARACTERS that Mr. Greenwald and Ms. Poitras have consistently portrayed with immense integrity. More so the fact that Glenn and Laura had no idea who Mr. Snowden was or if he was even telling the truth. In typical spy-novel fashion, Ed could have been the bait to trap some journalists being thorns in somebody’s side.

    • James Clapper’s Dystopian Novel about North Korea’s Hack

      I noted the other day how centrally James Clapper foregrounded his recent trip to North Korea in his discussion of the alleged North Korean hack of Sony. Now that the transcript is up, I see the trip was even more central in his discussion than reports had indicated. After noting that Jim Comey (whom he called “the senior expert on the investigative side of cybersecurity”) and Admiral Mike Rogers (whom he called “the senior expert on how cybersecurity ops actually happen”) would say more in following speeches, Clapper launched into a description of his trip, as if it were central to the discussion of the hack.

    • Australian special forces work with Iraqi security group accused of killing prisoners, torture

      Australian Special Forces in Iraq are working with an elite Iraqi security force accused of killing prisoners and other human rights violations.

      Prime Minister Tony Abbott has confirmed that the 200-strong Australian Special Operations Task Group in Iraq has begun providing “training and assistance” for the Iraqi Counter-Terrorism Service (CTS) in its battle against Islamic State.

      Military experts regard the service as the most capable and resilient element of the Iraqi security forces. However, former Australian defence intelligence officers say the service has “unquestionably been responsible for major war crimes and unnecessary civilian casualties”.

    • China uses long-range intimidation of U.S. reporter to suppress Xinjiang coverage

      The Chinese government has imprisoned the three brothers of a Washington-based reporter for Radio Free Asia, apparently intensifying its suppression of free speech and coverage of the troubled province of Xinjiang.

      Ethnic Uighur journalist Shohret Hoshur left China in 1994, after he ran into trouble with the authorities for his reporting. He has since become a U.S. citizen and a mainstay of Radio Free Asia’s coverage of Xinjiang, offering one of the only independent sources of information about events in the province.

    • Feds won’t call Risen at leak trial

      Federal prosecutors won’t call New York Times reporter James Risen as a witness at a leak trial set to get underway next week for one of his alleged confidential sources, several people close to the situation said.

      The decision appears to bring to an end a six-year battle to get him to provide testimony against former CIA officer Jeffrey Sterling, who is facing ten felony charges in connection with alleged disclosures to Risen about an operation aimed at undermining Iran’s nuclear program.

    • Mexican Students Didn’t Just ‘Disappear’

      The forced disappearance of 43 students from a rural teachers college in Mexico has catapulted the security crisis that the US’s southern neighbors are living into northern headlines. However, the majority of English-language news accounts have failed to provide a deeper context concerning the failed war on drugs and the use of forced disappearances as a repressive state tactic, and employ language that often criminalizes the disappeared students.

  • Internet/Net Neutrality

    • New year brings new hope for Net neutrality supporters

      FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler reverses course, makes a strong statement in support of Title II regulation and against fast lanes

    • Only 25Mbps and up will qualify as broadband under new FCC definition

      FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler today is proposing to raise the definition of broadband from 4Mbps downstream and 1Mbps upstream to 25Mbps down and 3Mbps up.

      As part of the Annual Broadband Progress Report mandated by Congress, the Federal Communications Commission has to determine whether broadband “is being deployed to all Americans in a reasonable and timely fashion.” The FCC’s latest report, circulated by Wheeler in draft form to fellow commissioners, “finds that broadband is not being deployed to all Americans in a reasonable and timely fashion, especially in rural areas, on Tribal lands, and in US Territories,” according to a fact sheet the FCC provided to Ars.

    • Hey Everyone, CISPA Is Back… Because Of The Sony Hack, Which It Wouldn’t Have Prevented

      This isn’t a huge surprise, but Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger, the NSA’s personal Rep in Congress (NSA HQ is in his district), has announced that he’s bringing back CISPA, the cybersecurity bill designed to make it easier for the NSA to access data from tech companies (that’s not how the bill’s supporters frame it, but that’s the core issue in the bill). In the past, Ruppersberger had a teammate in this effort, Rep. Mike Rogers, but Rogers has moved onto his new career as a radio and TV pundit (CNN just proudly announced hiring him), so Ruppersberger is going it alone this time around.

    • The Switchboard: A controversial cybersecurity bill, CISPA, is back

      House Dem revives major cyber bill. The Hill reports: “The measure — known as the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA) — has been a top legislative priority for industry groups and intelligence officials, who argue the country cannot properly defend critical infrastructure without it.”

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • TTIP Update XLVII

      As long-suffering readers of this column will have noticed, the dominant theme of the discussions around TTIP so far has been the investor-state dispute settlement provisions (ISDS). We are still waiting for the European Commission’s analysis of the massive response to its consultation on the subject – it will be fascinating to see how it tries to put a positive spin on the overwhelming public refusal of ISDS in TTIP.

      The issue that crops up most often after ISDS is probably transparency – or rather the almost complete lack of it. Yes, it’s true that there have been some token releases of documents: initial position papers in 2013, and some more in 2014; but these don’t really tell us much that we didn’t already know, or could guess. The main obstacle to greater openness was Karel De Gucht, the European Commissioner for Trade when TTIP was launched. As he showed time and again during the ACTA fiasco, he had little but contempt for the European public and its unconscionable desire to know what the politicians whose salaries it pays are up to in Brussels. That made his retirement at the end of last year an important opportunity to bring more openness to trade negotiations.

    • Copyrights

      • Authors Guild Gives Up Trying To Sue Libraries For Digitally Scanning Book Collection

        Back in June we wrote about how the Second Circuit appeals court totally demolished the Authors Guild’s arguments against a bunch of university libraries for scanning their book collections digitally, in order to enable better searching of the contents. The lawsuit was against Hathitrust, an organization set up to manage the book scanning program for a group of university libraries. In 2012, a district court said that what the libraries/Hathitrust were doing was obviously fair use and the appeals court re-enforced that strongly. The Authors Guild is basically giving up in this case, saying that should the libraries change their practices, it may want to revisit the issue. But for now, it’s giving up the case while “reserving” its position.

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