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01.28.17

Links 28/1/2017: New Plasma 5 for Slackware, Bodhi Linux 4.1.0 Released

Posted in News Roundup at 7:53 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • Server

    • Oracle Switching Solaris To A Continuous Delivery Model

      Last week talk of Solaris heated up again with Solaris 12 being removed from the Oracle road-map, after rumors of Oracle canning Solaris occurred in early December, meanwhile there are also more layoffs happening at Oracle. Oracle finally issued a blog post this week with a bit more clarification on the matter.

  • Kernel Space

    • Linux Performance

      This page links to various Linux performance material I’ve created, including the tools maps on the right. The first is a hi-res version combining observability, static performance tuning, and perf-tools/bcc (see discussion). The remainder were designed for use in slide decks and have larger fonts and arrows, and show: Linux observability tools, Linux benchmarking tools, Linux tuning tools, and Linux sar. For even more diagrams, see my slide decks below.

    • Shutting down FTP services

      Those of you who have been around for a while may remember a time when you used to be able to mount kernel.org directly as a partition on your system using NFS (or even SMB/CIFS). The Wayback Machine shows that this was still advertised some time in January 1998, but was removed by the time the December 1998 copy was made.

      Let’s face it — while kinda neat and convenient, offering a public NFS/CIFS server was a Pretty Bad Idea, not only because both these protocols are pretty terrible over high latency connections, but also because of important security implications.

    • Video: LCA 2017 – The Kernel Report

      It is that time of year again… linux.conf.au. They have been doing a great job getting the videos up fast and they are still uploading more. Here’s Jon Corbet’s talk, The Kernel Report.

    • Graphics Stack

    • Benchmarks

      • AMDGPU-PRO 16.60 Vulkan vs. Mesa 17.1-dev RADV Performance

        Given yesterday’s release of the AMDGPU-PRO 16.60 driver I’ve been busy running various benchmarks on this first AMD Linux hybrid driver release of 2017. A number of OpenGL benchmarks will be published this weekend compared to the latest Mesa RadeonSI Git driver while for your viewing pleasure today is a look at the Vulkan performance of AMDGPU-PRO 16.60 compared to the Linux 4.10 + Mesa 17.1-dev driver stack for Dota 2 and The Talos Principle.

      • Clear Linux vs. Ubuntu On An Intel Pentium CPU

        When we are usually running our cross-distribution/OS Linux comparisons, we are generally using Intel Xeon or Core i5/i7 CPUs and whatever else is the latest and greatest hardware, since that’s what excites us the most. But a Phoronix Premium member recently inquired whether Intel’s performance-oriented Clear Linux distribution would also be of benefit on lower-end hardware. So for some benchmarking fun this weekend, here are some Ubuntu 16.10 vs. Clear Linux results on an older Pentium system.

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

  • Distributions

    • Arch Family

      • New ISOs released!

        Today we released new BlackArch Linux ISOs. For details see the ChangeLog below.

    • Slackware Family

      • Plasma 5_17.01 for Slackware

        My previous post concerned itself with the question: what do I spend my time on? Keeping Plasma 5 working on Slackware 14.2 and -current, and for 32bit as well as 64bit architectures, is simply too time-consuming for a monthly release. I asked for your opinion and I was glad for all the feedback I have received. Predominantly, people are using 64bit Slackware and I saw both the stable 14.2 and the -current development tree mentioned. It looks like a small minority of people is running Plasma 5 on 32bit Slackware – not my target of choice but everyone has his or her own reasons and I am not here to doubt those.

    • Red Hat Family

      • Huawei Extends its Cooperation with Red Hat to Public and NFV Clouds
      • Finance

      • Fedora

        • Make Fedora fonts better

          Citizens of the Internet, welcome. Fonts in Linux are a rather neglected topic; there are things with a higher delight factor we could talk about, discuss, test, and indeed, write. But fonts be probably one of the most important elements of modern computing. Because we spend countless hours staring at monitors, and the precision of displayed information affects our productivity, health, mood, and ability to remain in front of a screen.

          It’s not all about fonts, but then, it is. Types of displays, pixel density, color calibration, screen resolution, lighting, viewing distance, and many other factors affect how we experience text before us. But for any given hardware and setup, there’s a drastic variation among operating systems. Windows and Linux. And then, each distro has its own way of showing text. We talked about this in my songesque-titled article, and one of the things I mentioned was the inferiority of Fedora fonts compared to Ubuntu. I want to focus on this claim some more today, and eventually, give you better fonts. Let’s do-oo-oo-oo it.

    • Debian Family

      • Debian at FOSDEM 2017

        On February 4th and 5th, Debian will be attending FOSDEM 2017 in Brussels, Belgium; a yearly gratis event (no registration needed) run by volunteers from the Open Source and Free Software community. It’s free, and it’s big: more than 600 speakers, over 600 events, in 29 rooms.

      • Derivatives

        • Am I a target now?

          While reading the Tails 2.10 changelog I stumbled upon the fact that Tails now supports exFAT. Since Tails is Debian based I just checked the image and indeed it contains the fuse-exfat package. Do I’ve to assume that I’ve now another set of crosshairs on my back just because it’s one possible maintainer you could attack to place malicious code into Tails?

        • Canonical/Ubuntu

          • Ubuntu 17.04 Opt-In Flavors Finally Get Their Alpha Release, Here’s What’s New

            Canonical today released the second Alpha of the upcoming Ubuntu 17.04 (Zesty Zapus) operating system, which, in fact, is the first Alpha of the new series.

          • Ubuntu 17.04 Spins Do Their Lone Alpha Release
          • Ubuntu 17.04 Alpha 2 Released, Available to Download Now
          • Flavours and Variants

            • Bodhi Linux 4.1.0 Released

              Today I am happy to announce the first scheduled update release of the Bodhi Linux 4 branch – Bodhi Linux 4.1.0. This release serves to package up the fixes for a few bugs that slipped through the cracks in the 4.0.0 release, as well as provided updated package sets for the install ISO images. Most notably these ISO images come with EFL 1.18.4, Linux Kernel 4.8, and a new Moksha Theme based on the “Arc Dark” theme. Existing Bodhi 4.0.0 users already have the bug fixes incorporated into these ISO images, but they will need to manually install the newer kernel and theme if they wish to utilize them.

            • Bodhi Linux 4.1.0 Released with New Moksha “Arc Dark” Theme, Linux Kernel 4.8
            • Bodhi Linux 4.1.0 Ubuntu-based distro now available with updated kernel and new theme

              There are so many Linux distributions nowadays, that it can be hard to be excited by them. Linux Mint, for example, releases too many versions of its operating system; news of an update can become rather ho-hum. Major Linux distributions, such as Ubuntu and Fedora, remain exciting, however.

              Some smaller Linux-based operating systems are still worthy of attention, however, and one such distro is Bodhi. Based on Ubuntu, the lightweight OS is very unique thanks to the Moksha desktop environment. Because of its familiarity, that DE makes Bodhi a smart choice for Windows users looking to switch to Linux. Today, Bodhi reaches version 4.1.0.

              “Today I am happy to announce the first scheduled update release of the Bodhi Linux 4 branch — Bodhi Linux 4.1.0. This release serves to package up the fixes for a few bugs that slipped through the cracks in the 4.0.0 release, as well as provided updated package sets for the install ISO images. Most notably these ISO images come with EFL 1.18.4, Linux Kernel 4.8, and a new Moksha Theme based on the ‘Arc Dark’ theme. Existing Bodhi 4.0.0 users already have the bug fixes incorporated into these ISO images, but they will need to manually install the newer kernel and theme if they wish to utilize them,” says Jeff Hoogland, Bodhi Linux.

            • Linux Mint 18.1 “Serena” Xfce And KDE Editions Available For Download

              The Linux Mint project has released Xfce and KDE version of its Linux Mint 18.1 operating system. Shipping with Xfce 4.12 and KDE Plasma 5.8.5 LTS desktop environments, these releases are based on Linux kernel 4.4 and Ubuntu 16.04 LTS. The users can download the 32-bit and 64-bit images of these versions via Linux Mint’s website.

  • Devices/Embedded

Free Software/Open Source

  • How communities in India support privacy and software freedom

    The free and open source communities in India, particularly Mozilla and Wikimedia communities, are leading two unique global events for better privacy and in support of free software.

    January Privacy Month is led by the Mozilla community in India to educate the masses about online privacy via both online and offline outreach events. And, Freedom in Feb is led by the Centre for Internet and Society to educate content producers like bloggers and photographers on how to donate their content under open licenses.

  • Who’s Responsible If An Open Source Software Powered Self-Driving Vehicle Kills Someone?

    Hotz recently wrote in an email that “It’s not my code, I did not release it” and that Comma.ai Inc. “released and maintains it.” Comma.ai Inc. includes the disclaimer, ““THIS IS ALPHA QUALITY SOFTWARE FOR RESEARCH PURPOSES ONLY. THIS IS NOT A PRODUCT. YOU ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR COMPLYING WITH LOCAL LAWS AND REGULATIONS. NO WARRANTY EXPRESSED OR IMPLIED.” Hotz is technically protected by the standard MIT open source license.

  • Open source challenges reduce menu choices in Docker data storage

    I don’t think the decision that we made indicts the whole industry. There’s a lot of momentum around Docker itself; Kubernetes is going crazy right now. There’s definitely lots and lots of uptake. But I still think it’s going to be tough for people to make significant money with open source software, because the difference between usage and revenue right now for everybody is a huge gap.

  • The hackers religion of open source: A manifesto (kind of)

    Technology can be seen as a religious experience. Tim Bradshaw from the Financial Times, in an interview with Founders Fund compared the first VR experience with discovering faith: “You either have that experience and you believe in God, and you then feel so strongly about it you want to convince other people that their life would be improved by having God in it.”

  • Events

    • gbgcpp

      Another interesting weeks has passed by. We held our first Gothenburg C++ meetup with a nice turn up. We met at the Pelagicore offices in Gothenburg (thanks for the fika) and decided on a format, the cadence and future topics for the group. If you want a primer in C++ and Qt in the next few months, make sure to join us! All the details are on the gbgcpp meetup page. For those of you not based in Gothenburg, there is a Sweden C++ group based in Stockholm.

    • There’s One Week Until FOSDEM 2017

      Next week is the annual Free Open-Source Developers’ European Meeting (FOSDEM) taking place in Brussels, Belgium.

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • Mozilla Firefox 51.0.1 and Thunderbird 45.7 Land in All Supported Ubuntu OSes

        If you’ve been waiting to install the recently released Mozilla Firefox 51.0 web browser on your Linux-based operating system, today we have some good news for you, especially if you’re using the popular Ubuntu.

      • Mozilla delivers browsing privacy to millions of Firefox users

        Mozilla’s contribution to Data Privacy Day 2017 centers on its privacy browser Firefox Focus is now available for iOS in 27 languages benefitting millions of users worldwide.

        The company said this launch is part of its on-going campaign to give users more control over their web experiences. In this case the ability to erase their web history. The initial rollout of Firefox Focus took place in November 2016 and from that the company said it realized there were a huge number of people who wanted to wander through the web anonymously.

      • I cannot continue working on my add-ons anymore. I’m sorry, but it’s time.

        Some time ago, Mozilla announced WebExtensions as the future of Firefox add-ons. At the time, it was not fully clear to me what this would mean for my add-ons, I was optimistic in that they would at least keep working in some way, but over this past year it became clear that this is not the case.

        WebExtensions are great for adding functionality to the browser, and without a doubt are versatile and easy to use. However, manipulation of the browser window’s interface and functionality will be extremely limited by definition, and even if it wasn’t, the implementation of such abilities is nearly impossible to achieve in WebExtensions.

      • Firefox Focus Now Available in 27 Languages for iOS
  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC

  • Public Services/Government

    • UK’s GDS to renew focus on reusable software

      The UK’s Government Digital Service (GDS) will renew its focus on the creation of reusable, open source software projects, says Anna Shipman, GDS’ Open Source Lead. It is a subtle shift from making source code publicly available – the default of the past five years, to creating real open source projects – getting a community involved and providing support for its reuse.

    • Germany and Italy to cooperate on standardisation

      The governments of Italy and Germany will intensify their cooperation on ICT standardisation, the two agreed on 18 January at a conference in Berlin. The countries want to advance the digital single market and set the pace for other European countries, announced the German government.

  • Programming/Development

    • GCC 7.0 vs. LLVM Clang 4.0 Performance With Both Compiler Updates Coming Soon

      LLVM Clang 4.0 is set to be released in February while GCC 7 will be released as stable in March~April. For those curious how both compilers are currently performing, here is our latest installment of GCC vs. LLVM Clang benchmarking on Linux x86_64.

      From an Intel Core i7 6800K Broadwell-E box running Ubuntu 16.04, I just wrapped up fresh GCC and Clang C/C++ benchmarks. On the GCC side were 4.9.4, 5.4.0, 6.3.0, and 7.0.0 snapshot. On the LLVM Clang side was Clang 3.9.1 and Clang 4.0.0 SVN.

Leftovers

  • Disqus Now Requires Either Ads or Paid Subscription for its Commenting Platform [iophk: “disqus is a common way to block comments in general while at the same time pretending to allow them”]

    You also used to be able to use Disqus for free, but that changed this past week when the company started telling websites that use Disqus that they had to either sign up for the paid service or turn on the Disqus ads.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • In fight for Americans’ health, Big Soda is winning

      Nearly two-thirds of kids (ages two- to 19-years-old) drink at least one sugary drink a day, according to a new report from the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS), part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Overall, kids and adults have stopped making progress in cutting back on their taste for sweet drinks. After a steady decline in the past decade, sugary beverage consumption appears to be hitting a plateau.

    • Antibiotic resistance on the rise: Superbug infections found in Chinese hospitals

      New research suggests a worrying number of people in China may be infected with bacteria resistant to an antibiotic used as a last resort.

      Researchers examined more than 17,000 samples from patients with infections of common bacteria found in the gut, in two hospitals in China’s Zhejiang and Guangdong provinces, over eight years. About 1 percent of those samples were resistant to colistin, often considered the last option in antibiotics.

      The study, published Friday in the Lancet journal, is one of the first to document the extent of drug-resistant infections in more than one Chinese province.

      For decades, China has used colistin in its agriculture industry to speed animals’ growth, but the drug was not used in people. Scientists say the latest work is further evidence that overuse in animals can spread to people. Chinese officials earlier this year approved colistin for use in hospitals, raising fears that it could worsen the resistance problem.

    • US Army Extends Comment Period On Proposed Exclusive Zika Licence

      The US Army has extended the comment period on the proposed licence to pharmaceutical company Sanofi on technology necessary to create a vaccine for the Zika virus. This is the second extension, and will permit public comments through 10 March 2017.

    • WHO-Netherlands To Hold Fair Pricing Forum In May

      The World Health Organization and The Netherlands government will co-host a meeting in the spring that brings experts together to look at high drug prices and government purchasing of medicines.

      The forum is planned for the first half of May in The Hague, according to Daniela Bagozzi of the WHO Department of Essential Medicines and Health Products, which is handling the initiative at the WHO.

    • SNP calls on PM not to lower food and safety standards in her bid to get US trade deal

      THERESA May has been called on by the SNP leadership not to lower Britain’s food and safety standards in her desire for a trade deal with America.

      The issue was raised during Prime Minister’s Questions by Angus Robertson, the Nationalist leader at Westminster, who asked Mrs May if she would be willing to make sacrifices on privatisation of healthcare or food safety to secure a deal with President Donald Trump.

      He told MPs: “The European Union, which we are still a part of, has amongst the highest food safety standards anywhere in the world and we are proud on our continent to have public national health systems.

  • Security

    • WordPress 4.7.2 Security Release

      WordPress 4.7.2 is now available. This is a security release for all previous versions and we strongly encourage you to update your sites immediately.

    • Alleged LinkedIn hacker is stuck between a Trump and a hard face

      PITY ALLEGED LINKEDIN HACKER Yevgeniy Nikulin. He is currently facing extradition requests from both the USA and Russia, suggesting that he is doomed for Putin or Trump style punishment.

      Nikulin is suspected of hacking LinkedIn, which is a glue-like social network for businesses and business people. If you are not on it, someone has probably still tried to connect you to it. If you are on it, you were probably hacked when it was. A lot of people were.

    • Security is now ‘number one priority’ in app development

      VESTED INTEREST AND APP TESTING COMPANY F5 Networks has advised that security is now a more important consideration than availability when it comes to application deployment.

      What a trade off to make. Security or availability? Surely there is equal room for both? We don’t make the rules and we don’t do the surveys. F5 does the latter, studying how the companies that buy and use apps decide where to spend their money.

      It produces this regular report called ‘The State of Application Delivery’. 2017′s is just out, and it finds that the whims of companies has changed because of the cloud and insecurity.

    • Securing MySQL DBMS

      MySQL, owned by Oracle since 2009, is the number one open source database for successful startups and Web-based applications, loved by such iconic social networks as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and many others. The database comes in two different editions: the open source MySQL Community Server and the proprietary Enterprise Server. Today, we will discuss the MySQL Community Server, and more specifically the basic security aspects of setting up this DBMS.

  • Defence/Aggression

    • How to make America great again? Bully Mexico.

      The inauguration of the new US President, Donald Trump, certainly carried some jingoistic overtones. His electoral success was to a great extent built on his promise to put America first and protect the interests of ‘our people’ and in doing so, he has organised a line-up of usual suspects: the political establishment, the CIA, radical Islam, the press, women’s rights, China, and of course, Mexico. As central points in his campaign, his short-term popularity as a president will be measured on his ability to get visible results in these areas. And anyone unconvinced by the President’s ability to put his words into action should only see his performance during his first week in office.

      On Mexico, Trump will continue the policy trend set by his two previous incumbents of heightened security on the US-Mexico border and deportations. “We’re going to build that wall” brought Trump’s controversial character into the international spotlight during the Republican primaries. Yet this is a symbolic policy, radical and controversial for the unacceptable prejudice and slurs against Mexicans with which it was delivered, rather than offering a new solution to the challenges of migration.

    • Food scarcity caused by terrorists will take time to fix – Lai Mohammed

      Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed has said that the food crisis caused by Boko Haram in the North East will take a while to resolve.

      Mohammed made the comment on Thursday, January 26, while receiving members of the Presidential Committee on the North-East Initiative in Abuja.

      “The Boko Haram insurgency affects seven countries and more than 20 million people are also affected. The food security or scarcity caused by the Boko Haram will take time to fix, this is because, for six years, people could not go to their farm,” Mohammed said.

    • FGM clinic hailed as ‘life-changing’ to close after losing funding

      A “life changing” clinic which helps women and girls subjected to female genital mutilation (FGM) could be forced to close in March after losing its council funding.

      The Acton FGM Community Clinic in West London – where FGM figures are the highest in the country – is the only facility in the country to offer reversal of the practice.

      Ealing Council and Imperial NHS Trust have funded the service for the past decade, but the council is withdrawing money for rent of the space and other costs – and health commissioners have refused to plug the gap.

      The procedure, also known as female circumcision or “cutting” is considered child abuse under UK law, where it has been illegal since 1985.

    • Malmö police chief: ‘Help us’

      After a wave of violence in Sweden’s third city, police boss Stefan Sintéus has appealed to residents in Malmö: “Help us. Help us to tackle the problems. Cooperate with us.”

      In an opinion piece published by regional newspaper Sydsvenskan, he describes an “upward spiral of violence of great proportions” in the city, where police are currently dealing with 11 ongoing murder investigations and around 80 attempted murders.

    • American Muslims Stop More Terror Attacks Than The NSA

      An entry ban on the residents of seven Muslim-majority countries and refugees was touted by President Donald Trump’s administration as a vital part of an effective counterterrorism policy.

      On January 27, he signed an executive order that temporarily banned refugees and indefinitely suspended resettlement for all Syrian refugees. The order reportedly targeted citizens of Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, and Yemen for “extreme vetting” if they would like to come to the United States.

      “I’m establishing new vetting measures to keep radical Islamic terrorists out of the United States of America. We don’t want ’em here,” Trump proclaimed, when signing the order. “We want to ensure that we are not admitting into our country the very threats our soldiers are fighting overseas. We only want to admit those into our country who will support our country and love deeply our people.”

      Previously, Trump promised a “Muslim registry” and increased surveillance of Muslims.

      Yet, experts warn that this policy will be seen by American Muslims as discriminatory and could actually undermine one of the U.S.’s major counterterrorism assets: Muslims themselves.

    • Kamala Harris: ‘Make no mistake — this is a Muslim ban’

      Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) is ripping President Trump for his executive order on refugees, saying it is nothing short of a Muslim ban.
      Trump’s order declares that “the entry of nationals of Syria as refugees is detrimental to the interests of the United States” and suspends their entry until the president has determined they have been sufficiently changed.

      “On Holocaust Memorial Day, Trump restricted refugees from Muslim-majority countries. Make no mistake — this is a Muslim ban,” Harris said in a statement.

    • Islamophobia is alive in America

      Alaa Ibrahim spends most of her free time at school socializing and relaxing with her friends in the Student Center. Never could she have thought that her peaceful time could turn into a battleground of hate.

    • Editorial: Stop ignorance; Embrace understanding

      Since 9/11 and the initiation of the War on Terror, Muslims have become easy targets for discrimination in Western society. This is especially true for Muslim women who are easily identified as Muslim by their headscarf, known as a hijab, worn by certain practitioners.

      Despite what many people think, Muslim is not a race of people, but rather a name for practitioners of the religion of Islam.

    • Race politics: Racializing Islam and seeing beyond stereotypes

      In today’s political climate, many people overlook the difference between the “religious” and the “fanatical”, as the media often hastily interlaces those terms when it comes to Islam.

      Western media have regularly designated persons who allegedly follow Islam and have committed atrocious crimes as Muslims in headlines, while criminals and terrorists who follow other faiths are not branded by their religions.

    • In Trump Era, Young Muslims Question Respectability Politics of Mosques

      Possibly this week, President Trump might sign yet another executive order, this time restricting entry to the United States from majority Muslim countries [read a draft obtained by HuffPo here]. This, on the heels of the executive orders he just signed to ramp up immigration enforcement and enable the building of the U.S.-Mexico border wall he promised during his campaign. Muslim and immigrant groups, especially youth, are mobilizing against these actions, with a major protest taking place last night in New York City’s Washington Square Park.

    • Visit a mosque

      About half of Americans think at least “some” U.S. Muslims are anti-American, which is roughly the same amount of Americans who do not personally know a Muslim. Next to not knowing a Muslim, one of the other bigger shifts in opinion on Islam is due to age — according to FiveThirtyEight, a respondent was more likely to express negative sentiments towards Muslims the older they were. There is clearly a disconnect between what we Americans think we know about Islam and the actual facts.

    • A mix of despair and resolve for US Muslims in Trump era

      Four days after President Donald Trump was inaugurated, mental health counsellors hosted a webinar on how their fellow American Muslims could cope. They surveyed the political landscape: a White House framing Islam itself as a threat, a surge in anti-Muslim hostility and suspicion of immigrants in general.

      The counsellors offered tips such as limiting time on social media. And they cautioned against withdrawing in discouragement, worried about losing whatever foothold Muslims have gained in public life since the crucible of Sept. 11.

    • Nobel Peace winner Malala ‘heartbroken’ by Trump order

      Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani student activist and Nobel Peace laureate, said Friday she was “heartbroken” by Donald Trump’s order on refugees and urged the US president not to abandon the world’s “most defenseless.”

      “I am heartbroken that today President Trump is closing the door on children, mothers and fathers fleeing violence and war,” said the 19-year-old, shot in the head by the Taliban in 2012 after publicly advocating education for girls in her home country.

      “In this time of uncertainty and unrest around the world, I ask President Trump not to turn his back on the world’s most defenseless children and families,” she added in a statement just moments after Trump signed the decree.

    • Nuclear ‘Doomsday Clock’ ticks closest to midnight in 64 years

      Atomic scientists reset their symbolic “Doomsday Clock” to its closest time to midnight in 64 years on Thursday, saying the world was closer to catastrophe due to threats such as nuclear weapons, climate change and Donald Trump’s election as U.S. president.

      The timepiece, devised by the Chicago-based Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists and displayed on its website, is widely viewed as an indicator of the world’s vulnerability to disaster.

      Its hands were moved to two minutes and 30 seconds to midnight, from three minutes.

      “The Doomsday Clock is closer to midnight than it’s ever been in the lifetime of almost everyone in this room,” Lawrence Krauss, the bulletin’s chair, told a news conference in Washington.

      The clock was last set this close to midnight in 1953, marking the start of the nuclear arms race between the United States and the Soviet Union. Thursday’s reset was the first since 2015.

    • From Tweet to Trade War, Trump Shreds US-Mexico Relations in 24 Hours

      President Donald Trump has bragged throughout his career that he makes “great deals—the best deals,” but it took him less than a week to create a major international rift with one of the nation’s neighbors and chief trading partners.

      [...]

      Amid the dust-up about the border wall, it emerged Thursday that U.S. Border Patrol chief Mark Morgan is leaving the agency, the Associated Press reported, although it is unclear whether he resigned or was asked to leave.

    • Tomgram: William Astore, A Violent Cesspool of Our Own Making

      I came of age during America’s Cold War with the Soviet Union, witnessing its denouement while serving in the U.S. military. In those days, the USSR led the world’s weapons trade, providing arms to the Warsaw Pact (the military alliance it dominated) as well as to client states like Cuba, Egypt, and Syria. The United States usually came in second in arms dealing, a dubious silver medal that could, at least, be rationalized as a justifiable response to Soviet aggression, part of the necessary price for a longstanding policy of “containment.” In 1983, President Ronald Reagan had dubbed the Soviet Union an “evil empire” in part because of its militarism and aggressive push to sell weaponry around the globe, often accompanied by Soviet troops, ostensibly as trainers and advisers.

      After the USSR imploded in 1991, dominating the world’s arms trade somehow came to seem so much less evil. In fact, faced with large trade deficits, a powerful military-industrial complex looking for markets, and ever more global military commitments, Washington actively sought to promote and sell American-made weaponry on a remarkable scale. And in that it succeeded admirably.

      Today, when it comes to building and exporting murderous weaponry, no other country, not even that evil-empire-substitute, Vladimir Putin’s Russia, comes faintly close. The U.S. doth bestride the world of arms production and dealing like a colossus. According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, U.S. arms contractors sold $209.7 billion in weaponry in 2015, representing 56% of the world’s production. Of that, $40 billion was exported to an array of countries, representing “half of all agreements in the worldwide arms bazaar,” as the New York Times put it. France ($15 billion) was a distant second, with Putin’s Russia ($11 billion) earning a weak third. Judged by the sheer amount of weapons it produces for itself, as well as for others, the U.S., notes Forbes, is “still comfortably the world’s superpower — or warmonger, depending on how you look at it.” Indeed, under President Obama, in the five-year period beginning in 2010, American arms exports outpaced the figures for the previous Bush-Cheney years by 23%.

    • The media–technology–military industrial complex

      Mills, like Eisenhower, reflected on the exponential growth and consolidation of corporations, the military establishment and government bureaucracy during the post-war period, along with the rapid development of communication technologies and infrastructures. These were not coincidental and autonomous processes but mutually constitutive of an ever more integrated elite power structure; and one that transcended the formal checks and balances of the political system.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • DOJ Blows Redaction Effort; Exposes Immigration Judges Accused Of Misconduct

      Some more inadvertent transparency has resulted from a FOIA lawsuit. Two years ago, the DOJ released a bunch of heavily-redacted documents containing complaints about immigration judges to the Public Citizen Litigation Group and the American Immigration Council. Withheld at the time — or so the DOJ thought — were the names of the judges named in the complaints.

      But that’s all history now. Even though the DOJ and the American Immigration Council are still litigating over the legality of redacting the judges’ names, those arguments have been rendered irrelevant. As Betsy Woodruff of The Daily Beast reports, additional research work by an immigration lawyer has uncovered the judges’ supposedly redacted names.

      [...]

      Understandably, these judges aren’t happy that complaints have been linked to their mistakenly-unredacted names. This has led to talk of a possible lawsuit against the DOJ for doing an inadequate job of protecting the judges’ privacy.

      On the other hand, government agencies are well-known for doing everything they can to ensure the public knows as little as possible about misconduct or illegal activity committed by government employees. No matter how egregious the violation, the names are withheld for as long as possible — in some cases indefinitely. Meanwhile, the merest accusation of illegal activity committed by a taxpayer tends to result in the release of that person’s name in full — along with any background info that can be dredged up. If these judges are worried about their reputations as the result of unsubstantiated allegations… well, hey, welcome to the world the rest of us live in.

      But underlying all of this is an error that undoes months of litigation and thousands of taxpayer dollars. The government — at least until recently — has been arguing this information should be withheld. Right or wrong, the information hasn’t been, but constituents are still on the hook for the costs of this particularly futile legal battle.

  • Finance

    • Gov. Cuomo’s New Affordable Housing Proposal Would Make Some Rents Less Affordable

      Earlier this month, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo unveiled a proposal that he dubbed the “Affordable New York Housing Program.” Turns out, one of its provisions would likely increase rents for most New York City tenants who move into buildings constructed under the program.

      Cuomo’s initiative, included in his budget proposal for the state’s upcoming fiscal year, would water down the rent regulations associated with a $1.4 billion tax break for real-estate developers. This program, known as 421-a, has historically required developers who accept the benefit to cap rent hikes in new apartments — a policy aimed at slowing the explosive growth of the city’s housing costs. Developers who built in certain high-demand areas, such as Manhattan, also had to set aside 20 percent of their units for low-income renters. The program was suspended last year and is now closed to new applicants.

    • Senator Demands Treasury Nominee Steve Mnuchin Tell the Truth About Robo-Signing

      Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa., has angrily responded to treasury secretary nominee Steven Mnuchin’s false responses to questions submitted for the record to the Senate Finance Committee, stating that Mnuchin’s “answers to basic questions are at war with facts.” The Intercept called attention to those responses on Wednesday.

      Casey had asked Mnuchin if OneWest Bank, which Mnuchin led from 2009 to 2015, engaged in “robo-signing” — a process by which employees rapidly signed off on affidavits and other documents in foreclosure cases without proper reviews, creating false evidence submitted to courtrooms and county offices.

      Mnuchin claimed that OneWest did not robo-sign documents, despite abundant evidence to the contrary, including an admission of guilt from a OneWest employee in a 2009 deposition.

      “This seems to be part of a pattern with Mr. Mnuchin,” Casey said in a statement emailed to The Intercept.

    • Mnuchin Lied About His Bank’s History of Robo-Signing Foreclosure Documents

      Treasury secretary nominee Steven Mnuchin lied in his written responses to the Senate Finance Committee, claiming that “OneWest Bank did not ‘robo-sign’ documents,” when ample evidence proves that they did.

      Mnuchin ran OneWest Bank from 2009 to 2015 in a manner so ruthless to mortgage holders that he has been dubbed the “Foreclosure King” by his critics.

      The robo-signing scandal involved mortgage companies having their employees falsely sign hundreds of affidavits per week attesting that they had reviewed and verified all the business records associated with a foreclosure — when in fact they never read through the material and just blindly signed off. Those records, in many cases, were prepared improperly, but the foreclosures went ahead anyway because of the fraudulent affidavits.

    • Md. Democrat wants to ban local governments from boosting minimum wage

      A top Democratic lawmaker in Maryland wants to ban counties and cities from increasing minimum wage in their individual jurisdictions, a proposal that is likely to pit progressive Democrats who have embraced a national push for a $15 hourly wage against the party’s center- and right-leaning members.

      Del. Derek E. Davis (D-Prince George’s), the chairman of the House Economic Matters Committee, has introduced a bill that would put the General Assembly in charge of setting minimum wage even for cities and counties.

    • Theresa May’s Brexit Plan Will Leave Britain Subject To Secret Global Trade Courts

      Theresa May’s plan for Brexit could leave the UK exposed to a network of secret international courts able to rule in corporations’ favour over the NHS, food standards, environmental rules and more, leading trade experts have told BuzzFeed News.

      In a detailed speech in January, May set out a plan for Brexit which would see the UK becoming a pioneer of free trade, signing deals with countries across the world, and leaving the jurisdiction of the EU’s highest court, the Court of Justice (ECJ). May and her ministers have said they want to sign deals quickly to show the UK can be a “great, global trading nation” after Brexit.

      But trade experts have warned that signing such deals without the EU judicial system will almost inevitably mean signing up to systems known as “ISDS” (Investor State Dispute Settlement) – secretive, binding arbitration systems that can force countries to overturn their laws when it hurts corporate interests. These formed the core of international opposition to trade deals such as TTIP (between the EU and US) and CETA (between the EU and Canada).

    • How to Cut Infrastructure Costs in Half

      Americans could save $1 trillion over 10 years by financing infrastructure through publicly-owned banks like the one that has long been operating in North Dakota.

    • Why Trump’s Meetings With CEOs Seeking Mergers Trouble Observers

      When the CEOs of Monsanto and Bayer met now-President Donald Trump earlier this month, eager for a nod of assent for their controversial merger into an agrochemical and seed giant, they promised jobs and investment.

      Sure enough, a week later, the companies and a Trump spokesman announced that the combined company would create several thousand new U.S. jobs. Trump himself Twitter-touted the companies’ pledge.

      But as Trump talked with the CEOs from his perch on Fifth Avenue, antitrust experts shook their heads.

    • Get Ready for the First Shocks of Trump’s Disaster Capitalism

      We already know that the Trump administration plans to deregulate markets, wage all-out war on “radical Islamic terrorism,” trash climate science and unleash a fossil-fuel frenzy. It’s a vision that can be counted on to generate a tsunami of crises and shocks: economic shocks, as market bubbles burst; security shocks, as blowback from foreign belligerence comes home; weather shocks, as our climate is further destabilized; and industrial shocks, as oil pipelines spill and rigs collapse, which they tend to do, especially when enjoying light-touch regulation.

      All this is dangerous enough. What’s even worse is the way the Trump administration can be counted on to exploit these shocks politically and economically.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Executive Orders Are Normal; Trump’s Are Only Appalling Because of What They Say

      With President Trump issuing a flurry of executive orders in his first week in office, it’s important for everyone who opposes him to understand the history of this political tool.

      Unfortunately for those appalled by Trump’s directives, it cannot be said that the mere issuance of the orders is an outrageous departure from tradition. The truth is that previous presidents have successfully used executive orders to make significant policy changes.

      Prior experience also suggests that while it won’t necessarily be impossible to successfully challenge Trump’s executive orders in court — several of George W. Bush’s were — it will be quite difficult, since judges usually interpret presidential power broadly, especially if the legislative branch isn’t objecting.

    • WHEN GOING TO BED WITH DOGS IS NEWS, GETTING UP WITH FLEAS IS A SCOOP – HERE’S THE ONE ABOUT TRUMP’S BED, PUTIN’S BED

      Almost everyone goes to bed at night. Some get up to urinate. The older, less continent ones can’t get up easily, so they urinate on themselves. If properly cared for, they do so in what is known in the geriatric product market as roll-ups.

      A small minority arrange to be urinated upon by others, though not usually on the bed they aim to sleep in. This may be an erotic pleasure for you, a perversion to the next man. The name for it is Golden Showers. If conducted between consenting adults, it’s not a crime. Paying for it may be a crime, depending on the local law on procuring. In the Russian criminal code it’s not a felony but a misdemeanour with a fine so small it usually isn’t enforced by the police; certainly not in expensive big-city hotels.

      A claim is being widely reported in the US media which supported Hillary Clinton for president that President-elect Donald Trump paid for at least two ladies to urinate on the bed in the presidential suite of the Ritz Carlton Hotel of Moscow. A former British Secret Intelligence Service (MI6) agent named Christopher Steele has reported the episode in a memorandum dated June 20, 2016, because he was paid by a US client to do it; and also because he was paid to speculate that the Russian Security Service (FSB) filmed it, and has been blackmailing Trump ever since.

    • Trump called Park Service over inauguration crowd photos, report says

      The day after his inauguration, President Trump ordered the National Park Service to provide photographs of the National Mall crowds in hopes that they would corroborate his belief that the media misrepresented the inaugural crowd sizes, The Washington Post reported Thursday.

      According to the Post, acting National Park Service director Michael T. Reynolds provided the White House with additional aerial photographs after receiving personal orders from Trump last Saturday. The Post report also adds that Trump expressed displeasure over a tweet shared by the agency’s account, comparing his inauguration crowdto that of former president Barack Obama’s in 2009.

      Trump, who has become fixated with crowd-size totals since his presidential campaign, used his speech at the CIA headquarters — just hours after his inauguration — to claim that “one of the networks” had shown “an empty field,” while Trump felt the crowd he saw looked “like a million-and-a-half people” and “went all the way back to the Washington Monument” — a claim contradicted by aerial photos.

    • In world first, Denmark to name a ‘digital ambassador’

      Saying that tech giants like Google and Apple now have more influence than many countries, Denmark will become the first nation in the world to appoint a so-called digital ambassador.
      Foreign Minister Anders Samuelsen revealed the plans in an interview with Politiken newspaper on Friday, saying that companies like Google, Apple and Microsoft “affect Denmark just as much as entire countries”.

    • ‘Calexit’ supporters can start work to make ballot

      Californians who want their state to secede from the United States can now start collecting signatures to put the initiative on the 2018 ballot.

      The Yes California Independence Campaign has been around for at least two years, but the election of President Trump only saw increased momentum for the so-called Calexit cause. Trump lost California by more than 4 million votes, fueling interest in a Calexit — a play on the United Kingdom’s “Brexit” campaign that saw that country’s voters decide to leave the European Union.

      The California secretary of state’s office announced that the group could begin collecting signatures on Thursday.

      The group needs 585,407 signatures from registered voters over the next 180 days to qualify for the ballot.

    • Tesla CEO Elon Musk joins President Trump’s new manufacturing council, again getting closer to the new administration

      Tesla CEO Elon Musk was already on President Trump’s Strategic and Policy Forum, but the White House announced today that he will also be joining the administration’s new manufacturing council, a private sector group that advises the U.S. secretary of commerce.

      Dow Chemical CEO Andrew Liveris was nominated as the head of the council by Trump last month.

      He headed a meeting on Monday at the White House. Musk was present along with several other industry leaders who are now also formally joining the manufacturing council. CNBC reports:

    • An open source insurgency against Trump?

      First of all it’s true, as many Leftist critics say, that Trump’s hardcore fascist voters simply don’t care if liberal commentators, mainstream journalists or fact-check websites prove his statements to be lie; they just laugh. And they just laugh at repeated statements that “this is not normal,” from liberals who judge the behavior of Trump and his henchmen from traditional civics textbook standards of legitimate behavior.

    • Trump says US will prioritize Christian refugees

      President Donald Trump said in a new interview Friday that persecuted Christians will be given priority over other refugees seeking to enter the United States, saying they have been “horribly treated.”

      Speaking with the Christian Broadcasting Network, Trump said that it had been “impossible, or at least very tough” for Syrian Christians to enter the United States.

    • After Denying Christian Refugees Refuge, Trump Promises Them Priority…

      I wasn’t planning to write anything more about Trump. I thought I’d seen it all… Today takes the cake however. After banning all refugees Christians, Muslims, Martians, all of them, he turns around and gives an interview promising to give Christians priority. He’s hurting all kinds of immigrants, even ones who already have started their travels to USA with a visa. He’s hurting families who have one or more members in USA and others being stuck in limbo somewhere else. He’s endangering refugees who are still mired in war somewhere. He’s endangering Christians who are targets of the murdering bastards. He’s destroying the long tradition of USA accepting refugees. What he’s done is not too different from banning Jews fleeing Hitler in WWII, yet now Trump claims to be a supporter of Israel, the country guilt built because of that.

    • How the Media Sowed the Seeds of Its Own Post-Trump Irrelevance
    • Donald Trump’s Muslim ban ‘means Iranian film director nominated for an Oscar won’t be able to attend ceremony’
    • Oscar-nominated Iranian director is blocked from attending awards ceremony, seven U.S.-bound migrants are stopped in Cairo and two refugees are held in JFK as Trump’s immigration ban kicks in
    • Oscar-nominated Iranian director Asghar Farhadi to miss this year’s ceremony after President Trump’s Muslim ban
    • Oscar nominee Asghar Farhadi to miss Academy Awards due to Trump immigration order
    • Oscar-nominated director can’t attend awards because of Trump ban: Iranian group
    • Donald Trump didn’t come up with the list of Muslim countries he wants to ban. Obama did.

      President Donald Trump is expected to sign an executive order Friday that would impose a 30-day ban on entry to the United States for visa holders from seven Muslim-majority countries: Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.

      After word of Trump’s pending executive order spread, the administration faced a lot of pushback — especially the early stages of his Muslim ban.

      The executive order is widely viewed as the first step to fulfill a campaign promise to ban Muslims from immigrating to the United States.

      “We are excluding certain countries,” Trump said of visa issuances during a Wednesday interview with ABC News.

    • Google Parts With Podesta Lobbying Firm as Trump Enters Washington

      After at least 12 years together, Alphabet Inc., the parent of Google, won’t be represented by one of Washington’s most prominent lobbying groups, a firm with long-standing ties to the Democratic party and Hillary Clinton.

      The Podesta Group — whose chairman, Tony Podesta, is a major Democratic fundraiser and the brother of Clinton’s former campaign manager — is no longer lobbying on behalf of Google, public disclosures show. The change coincided with Google’s bid to hire someone for “conservative outreach,” according to a December job advertisement.

      Veteran lobbyists say it’s not unusual to see such shifts after an election. U.S. companies are responding to a power shift in Washington that put Republicans in charge — but with a president who sometimes departs from party orthodoxy on issues like taxes and trade. President Donald Trump’s practice of calling out companies for cost-overruns on government contracts and decisions to move jobs overseas has also changed the stakes for corporate lobbyists.

    • Top Trump Adviser Stephen Bannon and Tiffany Trump Are Each Registered to Vote in Two States

      Early Wednesday, President Trump took to Twitter to call for “a major investigation” into voter fraud during the 2016 election. He specifically noted that this “include[s] those registered to vote in two states.”

      It seems that Trump’s investigation should start close to home, as one of his top advisers and his own daughter are currently registered to vote in two states. Stephen Bannon, former executive chair of Breitbart news, was registered in both Florida and New York during the 2016 election, and Tiffany Trump, the president’s youngest daughter, is also registered in two states: New York and Pennsylvania.

    • Lawyer Who Defended Racial Gerrymandering Picked for A Top Civil Rights Job

      John Gore, an attorney who has worked to defend laws that critics say are designed to weaken the voting rights of African-Americans and other minorities, was selected by President Donald Trump to serve as a senior civil rights official at the Department of Justice.

      Gore’s new role as Trump’s choice for deputy assistant attorney general of the Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department is notable because he will lead the division that oversees civil rights laws, including voter suppression issues. Trump and his nominee to lead the Justice Department, Sen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama, are strong supporters of voting restrictions such as voter identification.

      The appointment of Gore represents a dramatic break from the the civil rights legacy of the outgoing Obama Justice Department, which has filed suits against voter restrictions in Wisconsin, Texas, North Carolina, and other states. Under Obama, the civil rights division was restructured to take on more cases, with former Attorney General Eric Holder describing the team as the agency’s “crown jewel.”

      In stark contrast, Gore has worked to defend Republican redistricting laws in Virginia, South Carolina, New York, and Florida — including maps that opponents say were drawn to maximize Republican seats in Congress and frequently employed a strategy of packing African-American voters into a single district to dilute their voting power in neighboring districts.

    • Trump’s Ego-Driven Lies

      The practice involves the President’s disdain for truth, but it is not just a matter of the volume of lies and how he has built his political career on falsehood, as disturbing as that is. Rather it is the more specific technique of unrelentingly repeating a lie so often and with such apparent conviction, while ignoring all contrary evidence and refutations, that through sheer repetition many people are led to believe it to be true.

      The technique has been demonstrated by authoritarian regimes elsewhere. Many results of modern opinion polling suggest that now, in the post-truth era, there is even greater potential for making the technique work than for dictatorships of the past. Even a fact-checking free press cannot stop it; the fact-checking gets shoved aside amid the repetition.

    • Ignoring the Voice of the People

      The massive protests that followed the inauguration should have reminded Donald Trump that he is a minority president with a slim-to-none popular mandate, as Michael Winship describes.

      [...]

      It sure didn’t sound like the troll we’ve come to know. A couple of days in, maybe the awesomeness of becoming the leader of the free world had penetrated his roiling psyche and settled him down. Nah. Clearly, he hadn’t written it. Because just two hours before, in a tone far more like the narcissistic whine we’re used to, the Trump account tweeted, “Watched protests yesterday but was under the impression that we just had an election! Why didn’t these people vote? Celebs hurt cause badly.”

      Not voting? Celebs? That sound you heard was my cognitive dissonance alarm hitting DEFCON 1. In both instances, the bad and not-quite-as-bad Trump personas were writing about Saturday’s worldwide protests, women’s marches in more than 500 cities in the United States — at least 3.7 million Americans — and more than another hundred demonstrations internationally, from London and Paris to that handful of hearty souls who displayed their protest signs in Antarctica.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • How to Protect Your Digital Privacy in the Era of Public Shaming

      Every January, I do a digital tune-up, cleaning up my privacy settings, updating my software and generally trying to upgrade my security. This year, the task feels particularly urgent as we face a world with unprecedented threats to our digital safety.

      We are living in an era of widespread hacking and public shaming. Don’t like your political rivals? Beg Russia to hack them, and their emails mysteriously show up on Wikileaks. Don’t like your ex-spouse? Post a revenge porn video. Don’t like your video game opponents? Find their address online and send a SWAT team to their door.

      And, of course, the US government has the capability to do even more. It can spy on much of the globe’s Internet traffic and has in the past kept tabs on nearly every American’s phone calls. Like it or not, we are all combatants in an information war, with our data under constant siege.

      So how can ordinary people defend themselves? The truth is you can’t defend everything. But you can mitigate threats by reducing how much data you leave exposed for an intruder to grab. Hackers call this minimizing your “attack surface.”

    • Interesting times

      I usually don’t write political blog posts, especially if it relates to a country of which I’m not a citizen off nor live in. While I definitely have very clear opinions and views, I want to stay neutral in this blog and only talk about the technology side of things.

      It seems that the new US administration is in the process of shaking-up a lot of traditions and regulations, while also redefining the relations between the USA and the rest of the world. Even though a lot of these changes are very relevant to a lot of people on this planet, I want to focus on three topics that directly affect the IT, the free software world and especially my work at Nextcloud.

    • Column: Pardoning Manning doesn’t cover for new NSA powers

      Several days before leaving office, President Barack Obama did something few believed possible under his administration: He commuted Chelsea Manning’s sentence. Manning was found guilty of stealing and disseminating 750,000 pages of documents and videos to Wikileaks.

      Like Edward Snowden, she was praised for doing so by multiple rights advocacy agencies and groups. This is a shocking outcome because the Obama administration has used the Espionage Act of 1917 more than any other administration, using more power to silence whistleblowers and their journalist contacts. From a public persona perspective, it may appear that the Obama administration is attempting to back its notion of being the “most transparent” administration, but one could argue the opposite after what was signed on Jan. 3.

    • NSA Keeps Contractor Records Secret Over ‘Changing Security Concerns’

      National Security Agency (NSA) officials refuse to release any information about its private contractors or even conduct search for related records.

      NSA Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) chief liaison John Chapman denied a records request regarding the U.K.-based behavioral research company SCL group without searching for any responsive documents.

    • The Privacy Act Executive Order

      I teach internet law – and so I’m working through the Privacy Act statement in President Trump’s recent Executive Order: Enhancing Public Safety in the Interior of the United States.

      [...]

      I may still be stuck in the globalist view of civil liberties, but my perspective is that the US should not take the general stance of providing civil liberties to its citizenry while affirmatively trampling those same civil liberties for non-citizens. Exceptions may arise, but as a general matter, no.

    • Twitter Reveals Two National Security Letters After Gag Orders Lifted; Rightly Complains About Gag Orders

      In the last few months, we’ve seen multiple internet companies finally able to reveal National Security Letters (NSLs) they had received from the Justice Department, demanding information from the companies, while simultaneously saddling those companies with gag orders, forbidding them to speak about the orders. It started last June, when Yahoo was the first company to publicly acknowledge such an NSL. In December, Google revealed 8 NSLs around the same time that the Internet Archive was able to reveal it had received an NSL as well. Earlier this month, Cloudflare was finally able to reveal the NSL it had received (which a Senate staffer had told the company was impossible — and the company’s top lawyer was bound by the gag order, unable to correct that staffer).

      And now we can add Twitter to the list. On Friday, the company announced that the gag order on two NSLs had been lifted. There’s one from 2015 and another from June of last year. Twitter appears relieved that it’s finally able to reveal these, but quite frustrated that it was gagged at all.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Muslim Women’s March Organizer Attacks Female Genital Mutilation Survivor Hirsi Ali: I Would Take Her ‘Vagina Away’

      Linda Sarsour, the executive director of the Arab American Association of New York who was co-chair of the Women’s March protesting against Donald Trump, calls herself a “racial justice & civil rights activist.”

      Right.

      Sarsour is the same woman who tweeted one of the most vile attacks on a woman in the history of Twitter in 2011, when she targeted the heroic and outspoken champion of Islamic women seeking freedom, Ayaan Hirsi Ali.

    • “A Hostile Act”: Mexico Braces for Trump’s Border Wall

      Less than one week into his presidency, Donald Trump has taken the first steps in making his vision of a massive barrier between the U.S. and Mexico a reality, signing an executive order Wednesday afternoon calling for the “immediate” construction of a sprawling border wall to separate the two nations.

      Though the move is likely to appeal to his core supporters north of the border, one place where Trump’s efforts are not playing well is Mexico, despite the president’s dubious assertion Wednesday afternoon that “our relationship with Mexico is going to get better.”

      By Thursday morning, less than 24 hours after his order was signed, Trump’s dubious optimism suffered a public blow when Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto announced that he would not be attending a meeting in Washington, D.C., scheduled for next Tuesday.

      Peña Nieto’s decision followed escalating tensions between his government and the newly empowered Trump administration that appear to have reached a critical point following Wednesday’s signing.

      Throughout his campaign, Trump insisted the Mexican government could be forced into paying for the wall, which would likely cost billions of dollars. He has walked that back in recent weeks, asserting instead that Mexico would reimburse the U.S. for the project.

    • Theresa May refuses to condemn Donald Trump’s immigration controls

      Theresa May has refused to condemn Donald Trump when asked by Sky News about his new ban on refugees and controls on travellers from seven predominantly Muslim countries.

      The Prime Minister tried to avoid commenting on the controversial policy during a news conference with her Turkish counterpart Binali Yildirim.

      On Friday Mrs May became the first foreign leader to visit the White House since Mr Trump’s inauguration – and talked stateside about their shared values.

      The new controls were announced after the PM left Washington DC and she was asked by Sky News whether she still believed she shared the values of President Trump.

      But while Mr Yildirim criticised the visa restrictions, Mrs May at first dodged the question.

    • ‘Sanctuary cities’ undaunted by Trump move to cut funding

      In New York, Trump’s hometown, city officials said the administration’s action could take away over $150 million in law enforcement funding mainly for counterterrorism efforts, protecting international missions and dignitaries and, arguably, safeguarding Trump Tower, city officials said.

    • New Bill in Illinois Would Increase Temp Worker Protections

      An Illinois lawmaker is set to introduce a bill in the state legislature today to increase protections for the growing army of temporary workers.

      The bill was prompted in part by a 2013 ProPublica investigation that highlighted the instability and dangers faced by temp workers nationwide and comes as President Donald Trump begins to address the economic anxieties that helped propel him to the Oval Office.

      Trump’s economic plans have focused on the effects of trade deals, but he has said little about other forces affecting blue-collar workers, such as the growth in temporary and contract jobs. His nominee for labor secretary, Andrew Puzder, and others leading the transition have been outspoken opponents of regulation of the “gig” economy or policies that would hold large employers, like fast-food restaurants, responsible for what happens to temp and franchise workers.

    • ACLU and Other Groups Challenge Trump Immigration Ban After Refugees Detained at Airports Following Executive Order

      One of the men, Hameed Khalid Darweesh, was traveling on an Iraqi special Immigrant Visa and had worked as an electrical engineer and contractor for the U.S. government from 2003–2010. Brandon Friedman, a former Obama administration official who commanded a platoon during the invasion of Iraq, said Mr. Darweesh had worked for him as an interpreter. He said on Twitter yesterday that Mr. Darweesh “spent years keeping U.S. soldiers alive in combat in Iraq.”

      The other, Haider Sameer Abdulkhaleq Alshawi, had been granted a Follow to Join Visa. His wife and 7-year-old son are lawful permanent residents residing in Houston, Texas, and were eagerly awaiting his arrival. Mr. Alshawi’s son has not seen his father for three years.

    • The battle for minds, and role of human behaviour in generating plutocracies

      Just as there are mainstream media, mainstream narratives, mainstream academia, and mainstream organizations, so there are also ‘mainstream ethics’. These widespread and established ethical strands assert, for example, that humans are naturally egotistical, competitive and nationalistic and prone to sexism and racism and other similar mindsets that result in polarization among non-elites and their submission to elites.

    • US Immigration Ban

      The executive order ignores the single truth that we have come to know; talented immigrants have had outsized contributions to the growth and prosperity of the United States and countries around the world. Diversity in all of its forms is crucial to growth, innovation and a healthy, inclusive society.

      We recognize the rights of sovereign nations to protect their security, but believe that this overly broad order and its implementation does not create an appropriate and necessary balance. It’s a bad precedent, ignores history, and is likely to do more lasting harm than good.

    • WELCOME TO CANADA!

      There is a simple and effective solution for Web 2.0 firms distressed by the unpredictable harmful effects of Trumpism. Move to Canada.

    • Apple, Google, Uber, Microsoft And Others React To Trump’s Refugee Ban

      Intel, Oracle, Tesla, and Hewlett-Packard did not respond to multiple requests for comment. Amazon declined to provide one. Oracle CEO Safra Catz and Tesla CEO Elon Musk both serve on Trump administration advisory committees.

    • “But I have a valid visa:” An Iranian researcher barred from flying to US for new job

      Samira Asgari had spent months planning her move from Switzerland to the United States. The 30-year-old Iranian woman had secured a post-doctoral fellowship at the Harvard-affiliated Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. She’d won a prestigious award for her research in genomics that would even pay her salary at her new, American lab. “I was really happy, and it felt like everything was going right,” she said.

      But everything changed this morning, when Asgari flew from Geneva to Frankfurt. There, she attempted to board her second flight to Boston.

      “A gentleman stopped me from boarding the plane,” she said. “He told me he was a consulate of the American government in Frankfurt and not allowing anybody with a number of nationalities to board planes to the United States. They had already unloaded my luggage and everything.”

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • Me And My ISP

      So, We are a lot more dependent on our ISP than I knew. Oh, how the Internet has changed. Almost nothing is flat HTML any more. Huge data, images and JavaScript pour down on us. I used to run a whole school on dial-up…

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Trademarks

      • Jose Cuervo Loses Bid To Block Trademark Registration For Il Corvo Wine

        When it comes to trademark disputes involving alcohol companies, we should all agree by now that things tend to get really, really silly. Too often a reversion to protectionism causes company lawyers to stretch the plain meaning of words on matters of similarity and the potential for customer confusion. The latest example of this comes to us from South Africa, where the company behind Jose Cuervo tequila attempted, and failed, to block the trademark registration for Il Corvo branded wine.

    • Copyrights

      • Not guilty plea in landmark Kodi box trial

        Brian Thompson, a shopkeeper from Middlesbrough, has pleaded not guilty in a landmark case, challenging the legality of video-streaming set-top boxes that provide subscription content for free.

        Mr Thompson is accused of selling “fully loaded” Kodi boxes, modified with software that allowed users to watch pirated content.

      • ISPs Don’t Have Blanket Immunity From Piracy, BMG Says

        Music rights group BMG has asked a New York federal court to dismiss a lawsuit filed by Internet provider RCN. The ISP requested a declaratory judgment on their potential liability for pirating subscribers. However, according to the music group, ISPs don’t have “blanket immunity” against secondary infringement claims.

An Unexpected Reality: The Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit Emerged as a Champion in Fighting Software Patents in the US

Posted in America, Courtroom, Patents at 10:17 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Software patents impose a “deadweight loss on the nation’s economy”, said Circuit Judge Haldane Mayer a few months ago

Haldane Robert Mayer

Summary: How the highest court below the Supreme Court lends a hand to the destruction of software patents in the United States (and by extension perhaps the entire world)

THE Federal Circuit (CAFC) has been growingly supportive of patent reform. CAFC even eliminated a lot of software patents, in lieu with the ruling on Alice.

CAFC is far from perfect, but it used to be one of the worst and now it’s actually one of the best. From being a big proponent of software patents (back in the Rader days) it’s now an opponent of them. Even Mayer, traditionally the proponent of software patents, is now strongly against these. The longer it goes on for, the lower the certainty software patents enjoy. See this new article titled “Federal Circuit Continues The Case-By-Case Approach For Determining Patent Eligible Subject Matter”.

“CAFC even eliminated a lot of software patents, in lieu with the ruling on Alice.”According to this new article, changes are afoot. “Since a preliminary injunction is ordinarily awarded well before any final judgment on the merits,” Patently-O explained the other day, “nobody actually knows which side will win the case. Because of the powerful nature of injunctive relief, the courts have long required that the party seeking relief to at least prove that it will likely win the case. Although termed a “factor” in the four factor analysis, it is actually a necessary element that must be proven before relief will be granted. “The movant must establish both “likelihood of success on the merits and irreparable harm” for the court to grant a preliminary injunction.””

As Patently-O points out further down: “With the broader construction, the Federal Circuit remanded to consider whether the presented prior art creates an invalidity problem.”

“What we don’t wish to end up pursuing is some kind of a system which, rather than reward, simply punishes inventors and makes their lives harder.”There are two principal criteria for invalidation: one is prior art and another is triviality or abstractness tests. With both ‘tools’ at hand, software patents are in a rather weak position at this Federal level. What happens a lot post-Alice is, companies attempt to sue others using software patents and merely burn their own pockets. IAM has this new “report” titled “Monetary consequences for falsely alleging patent infringement” and Patently-O, writing again about CAFC, mentions pre-AIA law in relation to a particular case which is deems likely the “Last Inventorship Case”. To quote: “Based upon these (and a few other) facts, Mylan argues that (1) the ’patent had been derived from someone at the FDA – and therefore the patentee was not the “inventor” as required by pre-AIA law, 35 U.S.C. 102(f); and (2) the invention would have been obvious in light of the FDA communications. On appeal, however, the Federal Circuit affirmed the lower court holding siding wholly with the patentee.”

While we are still waiting to see what happens to AIA and the USPTO Director under Trump (there are conflicting rumours about that) we sure hope to see more of the same progress — something along the lines of reducing patent scope. Red Hat’s OpenSource.com published “making-us-patent-system-useful-again” only a few days ago. “In the U.S. patent system,” it said, “if maintenance fees are not paid, an issued patent goes into the public domain. Find out how to search the database.”

Remember that the original purpose of patents was exactly that. The temporary monopoly was a reward or compensation for doing that.

What we don’t wish to end up pursuing is some kind of a system which, rather than reward, simply punishes inventors and makes their lives harder. That is exactly what software patents have done to programmers. Take Compuverde for example; based on its new press release, it has nothing to brag about except software patents (which are rather useless in the US these days).

As we noted earlier in the week, software patents do get accepted by CAFC on rare occasions, but one cannot rely on any of this. In almost 80% of the cases last year CAFC agreed with PTAB, which is still killing a lot of patents and certain firms — not law firms of course — are loving it enough to pay for press releases about it.

Good Luck to Apple in Its Fight Against Qualcomm’s Patents (Some of Them Software Patents), Not Just Against Nokia

Posted in Apple, GNU/Linux, Google, Patents at 9:54 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Qualcomm still one of the worst companies and most lethal patent aggressors out there…

Qualcon

Summary: OEMs that actually manufacture/sell phones rather than slap a patent fine on them need to (re)group around Apple and help ensure that the patent thicket is removed (or made a lot thinner)

“No One Should Listen to Qualcomm About Patents,” Matt Levy wrote yesterday, having pushed for patent reform for a number of years, striving to improve patent quality at the USPTO and put an end to patent trolling (which would be an outcome of the former, as there’s a direct correlation). To quote Levy:

Why No One Should Listen to Qualcomm About Patents

Qualcomm is a major opponent, perhaps the strongest opponent, of patent litigation reform. It’s becoming pretty obvious why. A few weeks ago, the Korean Fair Trade Commission went after Qualcomm for its anti-competitive licensing practices. This time, it’s the U.S. Federal Trade Commission going after Qualcomm for its licensing practices.

[...]

With the FTC complaint, we find a little bit more about Qualcomm’s practices. For example, we learn why requiring companies to take a separate patent license in order to purchase chips is abusive. Normally, the purchase of the chips would be enough without a license, because, under the first sale and patent exhaustion doctrines, a seller automatically gives a license to the purchaser for any of the seller’s relevant patents.

Qualcomm, however, forces its customers to take a separate patent license that entitles Qualcomm to a percentage of the price of the entire device that uses its chips. That is, a smartphone manufacturer has to pay Qualcomm a percentage of the price of the entire phone for each phone sold, in addition to paying for the chips. That’s essentially extortion.

On the other side of the debate we have trolls- and aggressors-friendly sites like IAM, which is actually funded by them. Watch this:

Barnett’s work is particularly timely given the spate of lawsuits that have recently been brought against Qualcomm by, among others, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and Apple, over the chipmaker’s FRAND licensing. Those cases frame the argument around a dominant patent owner and technology supplier abusing its position to block out competitors and extract licences from manufacturers.

Qualcomm will no doubt counter with a robust defence; but, as Barnett’s research shows, like many licensors the company is on the wrong side of a set of theories that continue to shape much of the licensing narrative in the US.

So even those whom we expect to be very sympathetic to Qualcomm appear to have lost hope. Florian Müller has meanwhile told me that “one day that U.S. Apple v. Qualcomm case will go to the appeals court and Android OEMs will file pro-Apple amicus briefs” (it’s one rare situation where Apple and Android have a common cause and we believe that, inadvertently, Apple helps Android OEMs too in this case).

“So it sounds as though Apple takes its fight against Qualcomm even further.”Going back to IAM (which seems to believe readers care patent applicants at SIPO, in spite of the appalling patent quality), here is a recent translation/interpretation of reports that are typically published in Mandarin alone. “According to media reports,” IAM says, “Apple lodged two separate complaints against Qualcomm with the Beijing IP Court. One alleges violations of China’s Antimonopoly Law, to the tune of 1 billion yuan ($145 million). The other is a challenge to the chipmaker’s licensing practices, which are described as “unfair and unreasonable”. The new move comes on the heels of a similar suit in the United States by Apple, that itself followed the FTC complaint covered in this blog last week. Qualcomm has dismissed Apple’s actions as a meritless effort to pay less for the technology it uses.”

So it sounds as though Apple takes its fight against Qualcomm even further. This would, once again, be beneficial to Android OEMs, and not just Chinese ones. Remember that some of these Qualcomm patents are software patents.

“Nokia, in spite of returning to Linux and Android, represents a threat to Android OEMs in the patent sense.”At the same time Apple continues fighting back against Nokia, which became very aggressive just before Christmas. See these new reports [1, 2, 3, 4] about the ITC investigating Nokia’s patent claims against Apple. The ITC is not unbiased (typically favours US companies, as one might expect), so we suspect it will favour Apple (US) over Nokia (Finland). Nokia, in spite of returning to Linux and Android, represents a threat to Android OEMs in the patent sense. The same is true for BlackBerry.

In other news about Apple, the “Federal Circuit Invalidates Ameranth’s Menu Software Patents as Unpatentable Abstract Ideas,” so there is growing hope that Qualcomm’s and Nokia’s software patents too will be thrown aside, leaving only patents on physical things. To quote the latest report:

The Federal Circuit’s recent decision in Apple, Inc. v. Ameranth, Inc. highlights the potential impact of characterization of recited features as conventional, routine, generic, or known in the field without further discussion of an innovation that goes beyond these features. Employing the two-step analytical framework of Mayo/Alice to evaluate subject matter eligibility under 35 U.S.C. § 101, the Federal Circuit affirmed in part and reversed in part Patent Trial and Appeal Board (“Board”) determinations in Covered Business Method (“CBM”) reviews regarding the patentability of U.S. Patent Nos. 6,384,850 (“’850 patent”), 6,871,325 (“’325 patent”), and 6,982,733 (“’733 patent”).

Remember that software patents die 70-80% of the time at the Federal Circuit (CAFC) and PTAB is widely supported/honoured by CAFC.

CAFC, however, will be the subject of our next post.

The Supreme Court Could Soon Deal a Death Blow to Rodney Gilstrap’s Trolls-Friendly Court, So Gilstrap Does Something Exceptional

Posted in America, Patents at 9:29 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Rodney Gilstrap

Summary: 2017′s Supreme challenge to the Eastern District of Texas is imminent and Gilstrap (above) finally digs a little deeper into the business model of patent trolls, inducing liability further up the ‘chain’

THE Eastern District of Texas is everything that’s wrong with the US patent system and it makes the USPTO look bad. It’s where patents get converted into racketeering tactics and proxy battles.

As noted in this site last year (and beforehand [1, 2, 3, 4]), we have absolutely no idea why Gilstrap is still seen as fit for his job, having been the patent trolls’ go-to guy. This judge oversees just about every case in the most notorious patent court, perhaps occasionally having to give the sense of justice, somehow…

According to this new report from Patently-O, 3 days ago Gilstrap did something unusual:

In an unusual order dated January 25, 2017 in Iris Connex v. Dell (E.D. Tex 2:15-cv-1915-JRGJ) (here), after finding no infringement, Judge Gilstrap allowed post-judgment discovery and concluded that the case was exceptional. Stripping it way down, because the infringement contention was frivolous (and other things), Judge Gilstrap imposed joint and several liability among the corporate plaintiff, its parent company and the plaintiff’s sole officer (a lawyer) (in effective, piercing the corporate veil) for the fees awarded under 285.

This seems like good news, for a change.

Juve Survey: Stakeholders Want Benoît Battistelli Out

Posted in Europe, Patents at 8:02 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

But will Benoît Battistelli’s chinchilla listen and belatedly take action?

Benoît Battistelli in Juve

Summary: A new survey reveals that EPO stakeholders, such as applicants, attorneys etc., are just about as fed up with the abusive autocracy of Benoît Battistelli as staff of the EPO has been

A LEADING Web site for lawyers/attorneys in Germany wrote about the EPO a few days ago, as we pointed out last night, kindly asking for a translation of it. Someone stepped up to the challenge and produced the following (the rest is behind a paywall):

PATENT-SURVEY

Precise Mandate

The new patent system of the European Union shall start in 2017. After considerable arguments about the European Patent Office (EPO) and the planned Unified Patent Court (UPC), the way thereto is clear now. But industry remains concerned and expresses clear expectations to the responsible parties in the 2016 JUVE Patent Survey. It wants a functioning and uniform court system, as well as a a different style of leadership at the EPO – if necessary without its current president Benoît Battistelli.

Unfortunately, this introduction promotes the myth of UPC becoming a reality soon. Leaving that aside for today, the interesting part is about Battistelli, who rumours used to say wanted to become the head of the UPC (once he is done destroying the EPO and making a lot of examiners redundant).

01.27.17

The European Spam Office: 37% of Twitter ‘Followers’ Are Fake, Maybe Even Paid For (Waste of EPO Budget)

Posted in Europe, Patents at 7:37 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Twitter audit for EPO

Summary: It seems as though around 37% of the EPO’s ‘followers’ in Twitter are fake, which raises all sorts of potentially legitimate questions about the EPO’s media team

THE EPO has almost as many Twitter ‘followers’ as the USPTO‘s Twitter ‘followers’ (we believe it used to be the opposite), but who are those ‘followers’ and how did they get there?

“Has the EPO resorted to these dirty tricks too?”Look at the so-called ‘followers’ of the EPO to spot a large bunch of “egg heads” (default icons) with no real names, barely any activity, etc. These are often used by so-called ‘SEO experts’, i.e. spammers. Such paid-for spam (“Followers Farming”) is used by some insecure individuals and organisations to create an illusion of magnitude/importance/clout/size, but they sort of rely on people not checking where the numbers come from. Has the EPO resorted to these dirty tricks too? In other words, is the EPO supplying money to spammers and scammers? We don’t know for sure, but a very large proportion, well over a third in fact, are dummy/spam accounts, based on this Twitter audit carried out by Petra Kramer from the Netherlands. We have not checked what the EPO is up to in LinkedIn, Facebook etc. Maybe readers can tell us…

The EPO openly bragged about these numbers not too long ago, which means it’s very conscious of such ‘vanity’ numbers. Judging by the low level of interaction/engagement with EPO tweets, we were already very sceptical of the legitimacy of these so-called ‘followers’.

“Well, we already know, based on leaks, that the EPO wastes millions of Euros interjecting itself into the media. So why not so-called ‘social media’ too?”If anyone out there has further information about this, please supply it to us confidentially.

The EPO is not exactly enjoying positive publicity right now. We need an English translation of this new page in German; SUEPO says it’s a “[s]ummary only, press article requires registration and payment.”

Well, we already know, based on leaks, that the EPO wastes millions of Euros interjecting itself into the media. So why not so-called ‘social media’ too?

Links 27/1/2017: Kodi 17.0 RC4, Alpine Linux 3.5.1 Released

Posted in News Roundup at 6:57 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • Server

    • IBM: We’re the Red Hat of Deep Learning

      IBM today took the wraps off a new release of PowerAI, the prepackaged bundle of deep learning frameworks that debuted last fall. With the addition of Google’s TensorFlow framework, the company says its AI business model is starting to resemble the Linux distributor Red Hat.

      “In a sense, PowerAI makes IBM the Red Hat of deep learning,” Sumit Gupta, the vice president of IBM‘s High Performance Computing & Data Analytics business, told Datanami. “You don’t go to Linux.org to download Linux. You go to Red Hat. In the same way, instead of going to TensorFlow or Caffe or other websites [for deep learning frameworks], they want an enterprise-level distribution.”

    • IBM Adds TensorFlow Support for PowerAI Deep Learning

      Today IBM announced that its PowerAI distribution for popular open source Machine Learning and Deep Learning frameworks on the POWER8 architecture now supports the TensorFlow 0.12 framework that was originally created by Google. TensorFlow support through IBM PowerAI provides enterprises with another option for fast, flexible, and production-ready tools and support for developing advanced machine learning products and systems.

    • IBM’s Spark-Driven Data Science Experience Cozies Up to GitHub

      A few months ago, we caught up with Kavitha Mariappan, who is Vice President of Marketing at Databricks, for a guest post on open source tools and the rapidly evolving field of data science. She noted that Apache Spark supports complete data science pipelines with libraries that run on the Spark engine.

    • Serverless Front-End Deployments Using npm – Charlie Robbins, GoDaddy
    • Serverless Front-End Deployments at GoDaddy

      At GoDaddy, Charlie Robbins is heading the Warehouse.ai project, a framework that enforces a coherent workflow for serverless front-end deployments. In his talk at Node.js Interactive, Robbins said that deployments are all about serving new functionalities to visitors. Most Node.js front ends have some code asset — an app written using React, Angular, JQuery, or whatever. You push the code asset onto the server, and it ends up co-located with the server. Then it is served to users/visitors.

    • Oracle Officially Migrates Solaris to Continuous Delivery Approach

      For decades, Sun Microsystems updated its Solaris Unix operating system with new major releases on a semi-regular release cycle. When Oracle acquired Sun in 2010, the early expectation was that Solaris would continue to evolve in a similar manner, but that’s no longer the case.

    • Huge Growth Expected for OpenStack and Hadoop, Despite Skills Gap

      Now, Technavio researchers are out with a new study forecasting that the global cloud management for OpenStack market will grow at a CAGR of 30.49% over the next four years. In both the Hadoop report and the OpenStack one, though, there are citations referring to a skills gap, where organizations are having trouble hiring skilled OpenStack and Hadoop technologists.

    • 8 Resolutions Linux System Admins to Follow in 2017

      So we have entered into a wonderful New Year and it’s time to take our resolutions. We’ve put together a list of resolutions which every Linux system admin may consider following in 2017.

    • Platform9 pumps ‘programmatic DevOps’ with Managed Kubernetes
    • Platform9 Building Open-Source AWS Lambda Alternative

      Platform9 officially launches its managed Kubernetes service and pushes forward on development of its Fission open-source effort, enabling serverless application capabilities.

      The emerging world of serverless computing could soon see another viable option if the open-source Fission effort that Platform9 is helping to lead is successful.

    • Rethinking Monitoring for Container Operations

      Monitoring is not a new concept, but a lot has changed about the systems that need monitoring and which teams are responsible for it. In the past, monitoring used to be as simple as checking if a computer was still running. Dave Charles, chief technology officer of Cobe.io, remembers monitoring as simple instrumentation that came alongside a product.

  • Audiocasts/Shows

    • Podcast Season 5 Episode 1

      In this episode: Sayonara cyanogenmod, hello Dell, open source Pi and KillDisk. Plus some awesome finds and a fresh new VotM.

  • Kernel Space

    • Google Touts Security Measures for Its Open Source Hypervisor

      Main among them is efforts to reduce attack surface, ensure code integrity and find vulnerabilities.

      Google has often touted the various management and security capabilities available with its cloud services as part of an ongoing campaign to convince businesses about the enterprise readiness of its hosted offerings.

    • Self-protection is key to Linux kernel security

      Linux has quietly taken over the world. The operating system now powers the large datacenters that make all our cloud applications and services possible, along with billions of Android devices and internet-connected gadgets that comprise the internet of things (IoT). Even the systems that handle the day-to-day operations on the International Space Station run Linux.

    • Linux Kernel 4.4.45 LTS Is Another Small Patch, Introduces ARM Improvements

      Immediately after announcing the release of Linux kernel 4.9.6, kernel maintainer Greg Kroah-Hartman announced today, January 26, 2017, the release of the long-term supported Linux 4.4.45 kernel.

    • Linux Kernel 4.9.6 Rolls Out with ARM and AArch64 Improvements, Updated Drivers

      Another week, another Linux kernel surfaces the web in an attempt to improve the security and performance of your GNU/Linux distribution and the hardware that power’s your personal computer.

      Linux kernel 4.9.6 is the sixth maintenance update to the Linux 4.9 branch, which was recently declared as LTS (Long Term Support) by renowned Linux kernel maintainer Greg Kroah-Hartman. These days, most Linux-based operating systems are still in the process of migrating to the Linux 4.9 series from Linux 4.8, which reached end of life earlier this month.

    • Linux 4.9.6 released

      Just few moments back, Linux Kernel going well under 4.9.y stable versions got an update as Linux Kernel 4.9.6.Linux Kernel maintainer Greg Kroah-Hartman announced the same with a list of changes been made in this particular release.

    • Lennart Poettering on systemd’s Tumultuous Ascendancy in the Linux Community

      Lennart Poettering is one of those few extremely prolific and brilliant engineers who have literally changed the design of Linux-based operating systems. In this interview, we discuss his first interaction with the Linux community, why Canonical’s Upstart initialization daemon failed to gain traction and why Poettering created his own initialization software, systemd. He also talks about what he feels is wrong with Docker containers, and much more.

    • Take Linux From Zero to Boot in Less Than a Second

      Some of us here at FOSS Force don’t mind waiting for a computer to boot. It reminds us of the old days when, after turning on the TV, radio or record player, we had to wait for the tubes to warm up.

    • Graphics Stack

      • An Even Easier Introduction to CUDA
      • AMDGPU Changes Queued For Linux 4.11: Power/TTM Changes, No DC/DAL

        Alex Deucher of AMD sent in the Radeon/AMDGPU DRM driver changes today to DRM-Next for then merging into the Linux 4.11 kernel a few weeks down the road.

        There are some notable additions to the AMDGPU DRM driver for this next kernel cycle. But for those looking forward to the DC (DAL) display code rework as the stepping stone towards HDMI 2.0 / atomic mode-setting / HDMI/DP audio / FreeSync / much more, that code isn’t yet ready. We weren’t quite expecting it to be for Linux 4.11, but we could always have hoped, especially some Linux gamers/users are waiting rather anxiously for this support. Hopefully we’ll see it happen for Linux 4.12?

      • RadeonSI / Gallium3D Wires In Support For 64-bit Integers

        Within Mesa Git this morning is another feature flipped on for the RadeonSI Gallium3D driver: ARB_gpu_shader_int64.

        The ARB_gpu_shader_int64 extension provides 64-bit integer support in the driver, just as ARB_gpu_shader_fp64 is for floating-point data types. All the technical details on it via the Khronos registry.

    • Benchmarks

      • AMDGPU/RadeonSI Linux 4.10 + Mesa 17.1-dev vs. NVIDIA 378.09 Performance

        For those curious about the latest Linux gaming performance numbers for the latest Linux 4.10 Git kernel plus Mesa 17.1-devel on Git master for Radeon GPUs compared to the latest NVIDIA Linux driver release (378.09 beta), here are some fresh benchmarks. A range of OpenGL and Vulkan performance tests showing the latest NVIDIA and AMD Linux graphics performance with the newest drivers as of this week.

      • Early Benchmarks Of The Intel Core i7 7700K On Linux

        For those curious how Intel’s flagship Core i7 7700K “Kabylake” processor is performing under Linux, my sample arrived yesterday and I’ve begun putting the CPU through its paces.

        The Core i7 7700K has four physical cores plus Hyper Threading, 4.2GHz base frequency, 4.5GHz turbo frequency, and 8MB smart cache. This CPU has HD Graphics 630 that clock up to 1.15GHz. The Core i7 7700K retails for about $350 USD.

      • Shadow of Mordor benchmarks old vs new on Linux

        Since Feral Interactive noted performance fixes in the recent Shadow of Mordor [Steam, Feral Store] patch I went ahead and test some benchmarks on my testing box for you.

        These are in comparison to my original results, run on the same hardware but with a newer NVIDIA driver and the latest Shadow of Mordor patch. I would have compared it directly with the original NVIDIA driver I used, but back then I didn’t list it. The old version also isn’t available to opt in, so I have to go by the original results (the machine setup is exactly the same, minus driver). This is essentially a dual test of newer drivers + latest patch optimizations.

        Of course, these were run multiple times to ensure of their accuracy. The game was also restarted after each setting change to allow things to get properly refreshed.

      • Solus Linux Experimenting With Automated Profiling/Optimizations

        Not only are Solus Linux developers busy porting the Budgie desktop away from GNOME and switching to Qt but they are also continuing to work on more performance optimizations.

        Solus Linux has long been working on tuning for greater performance and also taking advantage of some of the Linux performance work done by Intel’s Clear Linux project. This week they have some more to report on for squeezing greater performance.

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

      • An Interview with Krita Maintainer, Boudewijn Rempt

        I’ve always held a deep admiration for the open source movement ever since I first stumbled upon the free 3D creation suite, Blender, many years ago. I’m just really in awe of the many impassioned volunteers who work tirelessly to share in the vision of creating software that is freely available to everyone. One particular program that caught my eye a few years ago was Krita, a free and open source painting program that can be enjoyed by concept artists, matte painters, illustrators, comic artists, and anyone who has ever wanted to dabble in digital painting.

        Krita has grown immensely since I first took notice of it. And now, with Krita in version 3.1 and sporting an excellent new animation feature, it was time I learned more about the work going on behind the scenes to make Krita the stellar free program that it is. I recently spoke with Boudewijn Rempt, who has been the maintainer of Krita since 2004. Here he shares with us what it took to get Krita to where it is now.

      • Size matters not: KDE Slimbooks measure 0.70 inches with sixth-gen Intel CPUs

        The international free software community KDE announced the launch of a KDE-branded laptop on Thursday called the KDE Slimbook. Built for KDE fans across the globe, the new Slimbook promises a highly stable computing experience given that KDE developers are using an identical hardware and software configuration when testing their apps. That means apps and hardware issues are resolved before a new version of KDE’s software is distributed to end users.

      • Meet the KDE branded Slimbook – prices start at €729
      • KDE Slimbook — KDE Launches Its First Dedicated Laptop For Linux Lovers
      • KDE Slimbook Linux Laptop Now Available for Pre-Order with KDE Neon Distro

        KDE’s Thomas Pfeiffer was proud to announce today, January 26, 2017, the immediate availability for pre-order of the KDE Slimbook Linux laptop, which comes pre-installed with the latest KDE Plasma 5 desktop and related applications.

        KDE Slimbook is a notebook created by and for the KDE community, for all fans of the KDE desktop environment. The KDE project celebrated 20 years of existence last year in October, and in this honor, they collaborated with Spanish hardware manufacturer Slimbook to create the perfect laptop powered by KDE and GNU/Linux.

      • The KDE Slimbook is a sleek Linux laptop designed around KDE Neon

        KDE and Spain-based Slimbook are teaming up to sell a 13-inch Skylake laptop loaded with Linux, but this beauty with an aluminum shell does not come cheap.

        The KDE Slimbook is available for pre-order now with prices starting at €729 (about $770). At this writing, KDE Slimbooks were scheduled to start shipping after March 15. Slimbook ships to countries outside the European Union for an extra €99 ($106).

        The KDE Slimbook is designed to offer a KDE-branded laptop that gives fans of the desktop environment the “best possible way to experience” KDE. It comes in two major variants with either a Core i5 or Core i7 processor. The base specs include 4GB of RAM, a 120GB mSATA SSD, two USB 3.0 ports, and a 13.3-inch 1080p display. The laptop is fairly slim at 0.71-inch thick and 2.87 lbs.

  • Distributions

    • Best Lightweight Linux Distros for 2017

      Operating systems are like cars: you can get a power-hungry Humvee that guzzles gas, leaving you with a few miles to drive, or you can get a super-efficient smart car that barely sniffs gas and gives you hundreds of miles of range. You can also get a monster OS that devours all system resources (CPU and RAM) or you can choose one that barely sips resources. The only difference between cars and operating systems is that lightweight operating systems, unlike lightweight cars, can do all of the heavy lifting that a Humvee can do.

    • Dedoimedo interviews: Bodhi Linux team

      Bodhi Linux and I never quite saw eye to eye. I had tested the distribution a couple of times, and in all cases, I found the somewhat spartan, DIY approach to be quite limiting. My need from Linux distributions is very simple, I expect everything to work out of the box.

      However, some professional bickering does not mean we cannot enjoy ourselves. After all, we’re all in this together, we few, we happy few, we band of penguins. Or Tuxpeople, if you prefer. To this end, I wanted to interview the project manager for the Bodhi Linux operating system, so we can get some exposure the other side of this coin. Today, we have Jeff Hoogland as our guest, and he will tell us more about his work, his passion, his community, and a few other things besides. After me.

    • Reviews

      • TrentaOS Is an Elegant Desktop Linux with a Few Rough Edges

        It appears we have another Linux desktop renaissance on our hands. Back in the late 1990s, it seemed like everyone was creating a new Linux distribution—each with its own unique take on the platform—until there were so many to choose from, one never knew where to begin. This time around, we have a growing number of distributions, each making slight variations to something already in existence. And that, I believe, is a good thing. Why? Refinement and specificity.
        Consider TrentaOS, for example. Here we have a new platform (still very much in alpha), based on Ubuntu, with a decidedly Mac feel, by way of GNOME. If you look at the landscape of Linux, you’ll find several distributions already doing the Mac-like desktop quite well (Elementary OS and ZorinOS immediately come to mind). So why another? What can TrentaOS offer that differs from what others are doing?

    • New Releases

      • Alpine Linux 3.5.1 Released with Linux Kernel 4.4.45 LTS, New Security Updates

        Alpine Linux developer Natanael Copa today announced today, January 27, 2017, the immediate availability of the first point release to the Alpine Linux 3.5 operating system series.

      • Alpine Linux 3.5.1 released

        The Alpine Linux project is pleased to announce the immediate availability of version 3.5.1 of its Alpine Linux operating system.

        This is a bugfix release of the v3.5 musl based branch, based on linux-4.4.45 kernels and it contains bugfixes.

    • OpenSUSE/SUSE

      • openSUSE Tumbleweed – Review of the Week 2017/03 & 04

        As I did not publish an update last week, we have to span two weeks now. A lot has happened, many of those things are already shipped to you or are going to happen shortly. This review will touch the snapshots 0112, 0117, 0118, 0120, 0121, 0123, 0124 and 0125. A total of 8 snapshots.

      • openSUSE Devs Enhance Tumbleweed’s Rolling Updates with New Package, Add RADV

        On January 26, 2017, openSUSE Project’s Douglas DeMaio informed the Tumbleweed community about the latest package versions that landed last week through a total of five snapshots.

        Before we dwell on the details of the new updates for openSUSE Tumbleweed, we’d like to tell you about a new package called transactional-update, which the openSUSE developers added in the repositories of the GNU/Linux distribution to boost the rolling updates that are offered to users multiple times per week.

    • Red Hat Family

    • Debian Family

      • Debian Linux Is Now Available For NVIDIA’s Jetson TX1

        Debian Linux is now available for running on NVIDIA’s Jetson TX1 developer board powered by their Tegra X1 SoC.

        The Jetson TX1 has been available for more than a year while now there’s finally a good Debian ARM image available for this powerful developer board.

      • Derivatives

        • Canonical/Ubuntu

          • Install The New Dekko Email App on Ubuntu Desktop

            To install the Dekko Snap on your Ubuntu (Unity 7) desktop you need… Nope, you don’t need anything; you’ve got everything you need already.

          • The Old Dekko App Will Get ‘No Further Updates’

            The current Dekko email app for Ubuntu phone is no longer supported, and no further updates will be released. Work is to continue on a Snap-based version.

          • Flavours and Variants

            • Linux Mint 18.1 “Serena” Xfce and KDE Editions Are Officially Out, Download Now

              It didn’t take very long for the Linux Mint developers to finish the Xfce and KDE editions of the Linux Mint 18.1 “Serena” operating system, and users can now download and install them on their personal computers.

            • New Linux Mint Debian Edition 2 “Betsy” ISOs Released After Almost Two Years

              Linux Mint project leader Clement Lefebvre today announced the availability of new ISO images for those who want to install the Debian-based LMDE (Linux Mint Debian Edition) 2 “Betsy” operating system.

              Linux Mint Debian Edition 2 “Betsy” is the rolling flavor of the popular Linux Mint distribution, but using Debian GNU/Linux packages instead of Ubuntu’s. It was first introduced to the world almost two years ago, in April 2015, as a computer OS targeted at experienced users.

              Because it follows a rolling release model, LMDE 2 offered its users all the latest package versions from the upstream Debian Jessie repositories, but the install mediums were outdated if you wanted to reinstall the OS or deploy it on new PCs, requiring you to download a large number of updates.

  • Devices/Embedded

    • ARM And Intel Go Head To Head In UK

      This is interesting. I’ve chosen ARM for my next generation of clients and servers based on advertised specs and history but ARM is still new to many people in production systems and folks want to test hardware. In UK, an HPC setup is going to allow scientists to test both ARM and Intel running the same software. Cool. There’s no doubt Intel has advantages when raw power is the only consideration but in the real world folks want to consider computation per unit volume/energy/time/price/whatever. With such a setup as long as the software is not optimized for one architecture or the other it could be an objective test. Stay tuned.

    • Rugged embedded box gets tough with Kaby Lake

      Axiomtek’s “eBOX640-500-FL” offers 7th Gen Core CPUs with up to 32GB DDR4 in an IP40-rated box PC with -10 to 55°C support and vibration resistance.

      The Intel Kaby Lake fueled eBOX640-500-FL embedded PC comes fast on the heels of the 6th Gen Skylake based eBOX565-500-F system announced in December. The eBOX640-500-FL has a somewhat similar boxy desktop design, but is significantly larger (230 x 180 x 82mm) and more feature rich — more along the lines of the Skylake based, 280 x 190 x 70mm eBOX670-891-FL announced in November.

      [...]

      Unlike these two Skylake eBoxes, there’s no Linux support listed with the eBOX640-500-FL, which supports Windows 10 IoT and WE8S. It should not be much trouble running Linux, however.

    • RaspBerry BerryBoot: Fixing “cannot find my data partition”
    • Australia’s coal power plan twice as costly as renewables route, report finds

      A plan for new coal power plants, which government ministers say could reduce emissions from coal-generated electricity by 27%, would cost more than $60bn, a new analysis has found.

      Achieving the same reduction using only renewable energy would cost just half as much – between $24bn and $34bn – the report found.

      The resources minister, Matthew Canavan, and the energy and environment minister, Josh Frydenberg, have been arguing for new coal power plants to be built in Australia.

    • Arduino-driven IoT platform supports Grove and MikroBus

      PatternAgent’s “thingSoC Grovey” family of Arduino and ESPx-driven IoT hubs connect to Grove and MikroBus Click IoT modules, as well as an RPi or Edison.

      On CrowdSupply, Portland, Oreg. Based PatternAgents, LLC, has begun selling an open source family of Arduino-compatible thingSoC Grovey boards, adapters, and hubs built around a common “thingSoC” socket system for easy prototyping of IoT designs. The CrowdSupply campaign is offering a $10 adapter that supports the Teensy Arduino clone, as well as thingSoC compatible hubs for I2C, GPIO, ADC, and LEDs.

    • Zynq-based SDR module sells for $549

      Avnet launched a cheaper, single-channel version of its dual-channel PicoZed SDR COM. The Linux-driven Zynq-7020 COM operates in the 70MHz to 6GHz range.

      Avnet’s PicoZed SDR 1×1 SOM is a more affordable, single-channel version of the dual-channel PicoZed SDR 2×2, a software defined radio version of the PicoZed computer-on-module. This $549, single-channel module supports the same 70MHz to 6GHz frequencies, with tunable channel bandwidth of more than 200kHz to 56MHz, but it lacks the wideband 2×2 MIMO receive and transmit paths of the dual-channel 2×2.

    • Phones

Free Software/Open Source

  • Meet Karen Sandler, a force in open source

    Karen Sandler is one of the most influential voices in the open source world.

    I met with her last year and we talked about how free software affected and changed her life and how she is working to change the lives of others. It was a wide-ranging and inspirational conversation.

  • Apache Eagle keeps an eye on big data usage

    Apache Eagle, originally developed at eBay, then donated to the Apache Software Foundation, fills a big data security niche that remains thinly populated, if not bare: It sniffs out possible security and performance issues with big data frameworks.

    To do so, Eagle uses other Apache open source components, such as Kafka, Spark, and Storm, to generate and analyze machine learning models from the behavioral data of big data clusters.

  • Why open source is core to Target CIO’s tech strategy

    McNamara has been an advocate of open source since he joined Target in 2015, two years after a data breach compromised 40 million credit- and debit-card accounts at the company.

    Enterprises are turning to open source and third party software components to decrease the amount of code they have to write, which helps accelerate deployment cycles. In fact, the dramatic rise of open source means very little software is written from scratch anymore. With open source, developers can use other code as a base and build upon it.

  • How to successfully enter the FOSS emerging market

    When businesses are unable to participate in FOSS, doors close for everyone. It deprives companies of the benefits of FOSS participation, including faster development and innovation, more efficient recruiting, word-of-mouth marketing, and lower total cost of ownership. The community or project becomes deprived of the benefits of corporate support, such as wages for maintainers, support for essential infrastructure, and sponsorship of events and participants.

  • Events

    • Open Source 101 event: A one-day introduction to Open Source

      Open Source 101, a one-day conference designed to teach the fundamentals of open source, will take place on Saturday, February 4 at The McKimmon Center on the campus of NC State University.

      With corporate open source participation and usage now at all time highs, along with the demand for open source skills, many current and future technologists want and need to learn more. The event is a perfect opportunity for current technologists working in a proprietary environment and technology students at the university and high school level to do just that.

    • Next Linux/UNIX System Programming course in Munich: 15-19 May, 2017
    • Sumana Harihareswara’s keynote will close LibrePlanet 2017

      “Sumana’s talk at LibrePlanet 2016 dealt with ways to make the free software community more welcoming, with humor, sharp insights, and deep conviction,” said the FSF’s Program Manager, Georgia Young. “We are very pleased to have her generous, thoughtful voice bring this year’s conference to a close.”

      Sumana Harihareswara first started using GNU/Linux in the late 1990s. Since then, she has contributed to a number of projects (including GNOME, MediaWiki, Zulip, and GNU Mailman), and become a leader, speaker, and advocate for free software and communities. From 2014-2015, she served as a member of the Ada Initiative Board of Directors. Within the software industry, she has been a community manager, writer, and project manager, working with Collabora, GNOME, QuestionCopyright.org, Fog Creek Software, Behavior, and Salon.com.

  • Databases

    • Give me a MySQL and Make it Snappy!

      MySQL is available for a huge variety of platforms, in a wide range of packaging formats and through many channels. Part of our mission is to keep up with the times by making sure that all MySQL products are available where people expect and need them to be. As part of that we have invested a lot of work in modernizing our Linux packaging and distribution, improving our story on Windows and introducing strong support for new and exciting deployment formats such as Docker.

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice

    • LibreOffice 5.2.5 Released, On the Road to 5.3

      For those wishing to update to 5.2.5 in hopes your bug is fixed, can download from the usual outlet. Unfortunately, you’ll have to just upgrade to see because today’s release didn’t get its accompanying changelogs posted. There are plans for one more incremental update, 5.2.6 due sometime around the beginning of May. Today’s announcement urged all users still using 5.1.* to make the upgrade to 5.2.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

    • Open Data

    • Open Hardware/Modding

      • Getting started with my new LulzBot Mini 3D printer

        Recently, I won a LulzBot Mini 3D printer in an Opensource.com giveaway. What good fortune! Here’s how I got started learning how to use it, and what I made with it.

        Spoiler: This printer is a top-quality product, and ready to go out of the box. It is also open hardware and supports a full open source programming chain.

        First, I read some reviews and more about the specifications. Then I decided to buff up on learning how to use design software so I could do more than print pre-made designs from sites like Thingiverse.com, though this is a great resource! They have over 600,000 designs ready to download and print.

  • Programming/Development

Leftovers

  • Science

    • 2012 Research Paper Linking Video Games And Violence Finally Retracted Over Massaged Data Accusation

      For all of the studies that often appear almost fervent in their attempts to find any thread of a link between violent video games and real life tendencies to violence, one of the standouts in the crowd has been Brad Bushman. Bushman last graced our pages showing how some combination of candy and loud noises showed that teenagers who had played a violent video game ate more bad food and were aggressive towards others in the immediate aftermath. This was used to essentially claim that violent video games were bad for teenagers, despite longer-term studies involving more participants coming to the opposite conclusion.

      More to the point for this post were accusations from Bushman’s peers that his research methods were generally flawed and that he was known to pick and choose which results from his experiments he wanted to include in the final analysis. It seems the study we discussed in that last post wasn’t the only study in which Bushman has done this, as a 2012 research paper Bushman authored, delightfully entitled Boom, Headshot!?: Effect of Video Game Play and Controller Type on Firing Aim and Accuracy, has finally been retracted by the journal Communication Research.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • The NHS – Theresa May’s dowry gift to Donald Trump?

      Our Prime Minister is so desperate for a Brexit-salvaging marriage of convenience with Trump, she’s suggested the NHS could be part of a rushed trade deal – and her vows about it being ‘free at the point of use’ leave too much unsaid.

    • Drug Distributors Penalized For Turning Blind Eye In Opioid Epidemic

      As the toll of the opioid epidemic grows, scores of doctors have lost their licenses and some have gone to prison. Pharmacies are being sued and shuttered. Pharmaceutical manufacturers are under investigation and face new rules from regulators.

      But penalties against companies that serve as middlemen between drug companies and pharmacies have been relatively scarce — until recently.

      In the past month, two major drug distributors, also known as wholesalers, have formally agreed to pay millions of dollars to settle claims that they failed to report suspicious orders for controlled substances to the Drug Enforcement Administration, as required by law.

      McKesson Corp., the largest such company in the U.S., last week agreed to pay a $150 million fine. And late last month, Cardinal Health reached a $44 million settlement with the federal government. That’s on top of another $20 million that Cardinal Health agreed this month to pay the state of West Virginia, which has been among the hardest hit by opioid overdoses. Other distributors have also agreed to pay smaller amounts to West Virginia within the past few months. AmerisourceBergen, for instance, will pay $16 million.

    • WHO Fine-Tunes Work On Epidemics In Debates On IHRs, R&D Blueprint

      The Ebola outbreak spurred actions from the World Health Organization in terms of how to deal with emergencies and also getting medicines and vaccines to patients in emergency situations. The secretariat presented an implementation plan for the International Health Regulations, and a report on its recent blueprint on research and development for potentially epidemic diseases at its Executive Board meeting this week. The United States sought to limit the scope of WHO’s work on R&D in this context.

    • Belgians, Dutch join in opposing Trump’s anti-abortion plans

      Belgium is joining the Netherlands in backing the creation of an international fund to finance access to birth control, abortion and sex education for women in developing countries in an attempt to make up for U.S. President Donald Trump’s ban on U.S. funding.

      Alexander De Croo, Belgium’s minister for foreign trade and development, says he is fully behind the initiative of his Dutch counterpart to set up an international fund for safe abortions. De Croo says Wednesday that “this decision of the White House has an immediate impact on the lives of millions of girls and women in developing nations.”

      Trump’s executive memorandum signed Monday reinstituted a ban on U.S. funding to international groups that perform abortions or even provide information about abortions.

    • Theresa May suggests UK health services could be part of US trade deal

      Theresa May has left the door open for the greater involvement of US corporations in British healthcare as she arrives in America to lay the groundwork for a future trade deal.

      Ms May would only say that she was committed to a health service that is free at the point of delivery, but made no comment on whether the NHS would be off the table in any future talks.

      Trade and the UK’s economic relationship with the US will be one of the key pillars of the Prime Minister’s visit to Philadelphia and Washington DC.

    • Big Sean Raises $100,000 to Fight Flint Water Crisis

      “It’s not even close to being over,” Big Sean said. “That situation wasn’t a natural disaster. It’s something that should’ve been prevented and could’ve been prevented, so it’s just disgusting to think about the damages that these families and even kids have to go through with the lead poisoning.”

      The rapper noted that his mother suffered from a degree of lead poisoning, but was able to reverse the symptoms through homeopathic and holistic medicine. He added that the money raised by the Sean Anderson Foundation will help people with lead poisoning seek out proper care and will provide them with clean water.

      Sean also revealed that the last song on his new album, I Decided, will feature the Flint Chosen Choir, saying he wanted to “reach out and show some support from that side, creatively. It’s a song called ‘Bigger Than Me’ and once you hear it you’ll see why I wanted them to be on it. But I was just happy to have Flint be a part of my album in that way as well.”

    • Pig-human hybrid brings us closer to barnyard organ factories

      Scientists have successfully created pig embryos that contain a small fraction of human cells, according to a study published Thursday in Cell.

      The study, led by researchers at the Salk Institute in California, represents a significant step toward human-animal hybrids that could one day grow whole new human organs for transplant. Right now, the pig hybrids only contain about one human cell to 100,000 pig cells and were very tricky to make. And due to ethical guidelines, the researchers only let them develop for about a month. But researchers are optimistic that they’ll be able to tackle the technical—and ethical—challenges moving forward.

      They certainly have a lot of hints that they’ll be successful.

      To show that cells from two different species can share one body in harmony, the researchers also created mice with rat organs. They used a snazzy new genetic engineering tool called CRISPR/Cas9 to break a few genes in mouse embryos that dashed their ability to develop several organs properly, including the pancreas, heart, and eye. Next, the researchers injected the embryos with rat stem cells, then transferred the embryos into a mouse’s uterus to develop. The embryos developed into healthy animals with hybrid mouse-rat organs, the researchers found. In fact, the rat cells even developed into gall bladders in the mice, despite the fact that rats don’t have these organs. The animals all lived normal mouse lives of up to two years.

  • Security

    • Best Linux Server Security Tutorials on Linux.com

      The first rule of Linux server security is to keep your server lean and mean. Only install the packages and run the services that you really need, writes Swapnil Bhartiya in his Linux.com tutorial on making your server more secure.

      “Even the most hardened servers can be hijacked by exploiting any unpatched or vulnerable component running on that server,” he writes.

    • Friday’s security updates
    • Guest View: The perils of open-source software security [Ed: Citing Microsoft-connected Black Duck to badmouth FOSS again. Does FOSS rely on third-party libraries (that may have flaws)? Yes. Do blobs rely on proprietary libraries (that may have flaws)? Yes.]
    • Federal lawmakers introduce bipartisan bill to study cyber security in connected cars

      Connected cars are the future for the automotive industry, with more than 90 percent of vehicles expected to have built-in connectivity by 2020. But, as more vehicles link up to the internet, lawmakers are worried about their security.

      On Wednesday, lawmakers introduced a bipartisan bill in the U.S. House of Representatives that would direct the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to study cyber security in vehicles. Rep. Joe Wilson, R-SC, and Rep. Ted Lieu, D-Calif., co-sponsored The Security and Privacy in Your Car Study Act, which hopes to create a standard for safety in connected cars.

  • Defence/Aggression

    • Trump to Sign Executive Orders Restricting Immigration From Several Middle East, African Countries

      U.S. President Donald Trump is expected to sign executive orders starting on Wednesday that include a temporary ban on most refugees and a suspension of visas for citizens of Syria and six other Middle Eastern and African countries, say congressional aides and immigration experts briefed on the matter.

      Trump, who tweeted that a “big day” was planned on national security on Wednesday, is expected to ban for several months the entry of refugees into the United States, except for religious minorities escaping persecution, until more aggressive vetting is in place.

    • The Empire Has No Clothes

      Harsh realities have long mocked United States “elites’” ritual description of their nation state as a benevolent beacon and agent of freedom, democracy, and justice at home and abroad. The mythology doesn’t square with stark disparities and oppressions inflicted by the nation’s unelected and interrelated dictatorships of money, class, race, and empire.

    • How America’s rejection of Jews fleeing Nazi Germany haunts our refugee policy today

      Desperate people, fleeing a terrifying, bloodthirsty regime, try to find refuge in the US. But the American government and the public don’t want to accept them. They worry that accepting refugees would put citizens at risk, and they don’t see the refugee crisis as their problem to fix. So they are turned away.

      This is what President Donald Trump is about to sign America up for, if widespread reports are correct that he’s on the verge of signing an executive order that would ban all refugees from settling in the US for 4 months and ban Syrian refugees indefinitely.

      We’ve been here before.

      The US (and other countries in the Western Hemisphere) could have saved thousands of Jews from the Nazis. They didn’t. At one point, the US literally turned away a ship of 900 German Jews. Shortly afterward, it rejected a proposal to allow 20,000 Jewish children to come to the US for safety.

    • China ‘steps up preparedness for possible military conflict with US’

      China is stepping up preparedness for a possible military conflict with the US as the Donald Trump presidency has increased the risk of hostilities breaking out, state media and military observers said.

      Beijing is bracing itself for a possible deterioration in Sino-US ties, with a particular emphasis on maritime security.

      The People’s Liberation Army said in a commentary on its official website last Friday, the day of Trump’s inauguration, that the chances of war have become “more real” amid a more complex security situation in Asia Pacific.

    • Death of the Syrian ‘Moderate’ Fantasy

      Washington think-tank warriors and editorial writers have long looked to the FSA as America’s natural allies in the Syrian conflict — so-called “moderates” unblemished by the Assad regime’s cruel record of repression, or the Islamists’ preference for cutting the throats of apostates.

      In her memoir Hard Choices, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton recounted her hope that “if the United States could train and equip a reliable and effective moderate rebel force, it could help hold the country together during a transition . . . and prevent ethnic cleansing and score settling.”

      In much the same way, the Reagan administration hoped — and failed — to cultivate “moderate elements” in Iran’s army through its covert arms deals with Tehran in the mid-1980s. The truth of the matter — exposed again this week — is that the FSA and other “moderates” never had the popular support or the grit to take on more fanatical warriors in Syria.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • Judge Says Lawsuit Over PACER Fees Can Continue… As A Class Action

      Working (and looking) like outdated crap is one thing. Being charged by the federal government for pages your tax dollars helped create is another. PACER keeps working like crap and the US court system’s administration keeps pretending the documents are stored in file cabinets and are being copied by hand for members of the public at a library-copy-machine rate of 10 cents a page.

      In December, the presiding judge denied the government’s attempt to dismiss the case. The government argued that members of the public agreed to whatever PACER felt like charging through some bureaucratic clickwrap.

    • The battle over MormonLeaks — two websites with one name and one goal: target the LDS Church

      Craig Criddle and Ryan McKnight have a lot in common.

      Both are former LDS missionaries. Both have stopped believing in their church. Both have resigned their membership. Both have become critics of the faith. And both have a website called MormonLeaks.

      That’s where the differences begin.

      One of the sites attempts to debunk the official LDS narrative by posting historical materials. The other offers an inside peek at the contemporary church by publicizing private or little-known Mormon documents acquired from anonymous sources.

      The question has become: Which website should own the name?

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • Clean Energy In The Wind

      Here’s an example where an island may be powered by dirty diesel generators or the sea breezes. Having choice is good. Taking the alternative choice is even better. I hope current initiatives can survive the deadly reign of Trump who seems intent on enriching his already rich friends instead of doing what’s right for the environment.

    • Did A Former National Parks Employee Violate The CFAA By Tweeting About Climate Change?

      Those tweets have since been deleted, but they certainly caused quite a stir, and there’s even what claims to be a private rogue National Parks Service twitter feed that won’t be silenced at @AltNatPartSer. That’s apparently inspired other government employees to set up similar “rogue” Twitter accounts. As I write this, there are about two dozen such accounts on this list, with some personal favorites being the @Alt_FDA, the @RogueNASA and @AltFedCyberz. Now, it’s important to state that there’s no direct proof that these are actually run by federal employees, but the whole thing is fascinating to watch.

    • Trump’s Team at EPA Vetting ‘Controversial’ Public Meetings and Presentations

      President Donald Trump long ago announced his provocative intentions for the Environmental Protection Agency, pledging during the campaign to get rid of the agency “in almost every form,” with only “little tidbits left.”

      So far, Trump’s remodeling efforts have been both dramatic (nominating Oklahoma attorney general and fossil-fuel ally Scott Pruitt to head the agency) and quietly tactical (freezing all EPA contracts and grants).

      On Tuesday, the new administration’s efforts to take hold of the EPA continued, this time with a memo from EPA headquarters requiring all regional offices to submit a list of “all external meetings or presentations by employees planned through February 17.” The memo demanded the offices provide a short description of each event and a note explaining “whether it is controversial and why.”

      The memo was shared with ProPublica by an employee in an EPA regional office and verified by another EPA employee at headquarters in Washington, D.C.

    • Defiant as Ever, Water Protectors Vow to Continue the Fight Against the Dakota ‘Black Snake’ Pipeline

      On his fourth day in office, President Trump took executive action that signaled his desire to complete the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline. He signed a memorandum ordering the Army secretary and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to “review and approve in an expedited manner…requests for approval to construct and operate the DAPL” as well as an executive order to “streamline and expedite” the environmental review and approval process for so-called “high priority infrastructure projects.”

    • Trump administration: EPA studies, data must undergo political review before release

      The Trump administration is mandating that any studies or data from scientists at the Environmental Protection Agency undergo review by political appointees before they can be released to the public.

      The communications director for Donald Trump’s transition team at the EPA, Doug Ericksen, said on Wednesday the review also extends to content on the federal agency’s website, including details of scientific evidence showing that the Earth’s climate is warming and manmade carbon emissions are to blame.

      Former EPA staffers said on Wednesday the restrictions imposed under Trump far exceed the practices of past administrations.

    • Government Scientists at U.S. Climate Conference Terrified to Speak with the Press

      While Donald Trump was reviving both the Dakota Access and Keystone XL pipelines, muzzling federal employees, freezing EPA contracts, and first telling the EPA to remove mentions of climate change from its website — and then reversing course — many of the scientists who work on climate change in federal agencies were meeting just a few miles from the White House to present and discuss their work.

      The mood was understandably gloomy at the National Conference and Global Forum on Science, Policy, and the Environment. “I don’t know what’s going to happen. No one knows what’s going to happen,” one EPA staffer who works on climate issues told me on Tuesday, as she ate her lunch. She had spent much of her time in recent weeks trying to preserve and document the methane-related projects she’s been working on for years. But the prevailing sense was that, Trump’s claims about being an environmentalist notwithstanding, the president is moving forward with his plan to eviscerate environmental protections, particularly those related to climate change, and the EPA itself.

  • Finance

    • Uber hasn’t taken taxi drivers’ jobs but has slashed their wages

      Uber’s arrival has led to more taxi jobs, but the transport firm’s model means drivers at traditional cab firms now earn less.

      That’s according to a working paper from University of Oxford researchers, which finds no evidence that the rollout of Uber and its ride-hailing app has led to fewer jobs for traditional taxi drivers since it introduced its “sharing economy” model in the US in 2010. But the number of self-employed drivers, including those who work for Uber, has increased almost 50 per cent since the app’s introduction in US cities.

      “Employment, if anything, expands,” says Carl Benedikt Frey, one of the paper’s co-authors.

      Drawing on statistics from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the paper also finds that traditional taxi drivers in cities where Uber operates have seen their earnings decline. The researchers found that such drivers have seen their hourly income fall by up to 10 per cent on average. Meanwhile, the hourly takings of self-employed drivers have risen by the same amount.

    • I won’t capitulate to the Tories on Brexit—and neither should Labour MPs

      Next week MPs will begin a short series of debates on the triggering of Article 50. The timeframe is short, the Bill we’re debating is extremely brief and the consequences of our decision cannot be overstated.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Jason Miller to Join Clinton-Tied Teneo Strategy

      Donald Trump’s former chief campaign spokesman, Jason Miller, announced Friday he’s going to work for a company founded by Bill Clinton’s longtime aide Doug Band. Teneo Strategy is known for its deep Clinton ties—the ex-president previously served in an advisory capacity to the company, but, Teneo said in 2012, “His advisory board role at Teneo transitioned at the end of 2011, when he asked the company to represent him going forward in a personal capacity.” In his new role with Teneo, Miller will reportedly advise Fortune 500 CEOs on corporate communications, media relations, and crisis communications.

    • ‘The Economist’ Just Downgraded the US From a ‘Full Democracy’ to a ‘Flawed Democracy’

      The United States is no longer a full democracy, according to the highly regarded Economist Intelligence Unit, which each year compiles a Democracy Index that “provides a snapshot of the state of democracy worldwide for 165 independent states and two territories.”

      “The US, a standard-bearer of democracy for the world, has become a ‘flawed democracy,’ as popular confidence in the functioning of public institutions has declined,” explains the introduction to the freshly released Democracy Index.

      That would be a troubling announcement in any week.

    • Trump’s Obsession with Faux Election Fraud Sets the Stage for Federal Voter Suppression

      In a 24-hour news cycle in which Donald Trump decreed the construction of a new border wall with Mexico and draft executive orders emerged suggesting an impending ban on refugees and the return of post-9/11 interrogation techniques, the president also hinted at more to come — from sending “the Feds” to Chicago to a Department of Justice investigation into voter fraud. White House press secretary Sean Spicer confirmed the latter on Thursday, telling reporters that the president plans to sign an executive order “to better understand” voter fraud and voter registration.

      The latest development, coming from a sitting president who just won an election, might seem like an odd priority, but it could be the most dangerous of all. In fact, while the president’s insistence on delegitimizing an election that put him in the White House seemed ironic to some, Trump’s decision to double down once again on one of his favorite and most demonstrably false lies — that millions of voters illegally cast ballots on November 8 — should spell trouble to anyone hoping this election is the last one he wins.

      Trump, a sore loser even in victory, might have been simply obsessing over the 2.8 million ballots by which he lost the popular vote to Hillary Clinton when he announced Wednesday that he would seek “a major investigation into VOTER FRAUD,” which remains virtually non-existent. Although Trump is a master of political distraction, his often preposterous tweets have also been a reliable indicator of policies to come.

    • Just 5 Clicks on an Internet Survey Inspired Trump’s Claim Millions Voted Illegally

      For two months now, Donald Trump has appeared unable to accept the verdict of November’s election: that he is more popular than many of us wanted to believe, but less popular than Hillary Clinton.

      As a result of this fixation, he is now promising “a major investigation” into the election that made him president, putting the full weight of the federal government behind his quest to prove that at least three million ballots were cast against him by “those registered to vote in two states, those who are illegal and even, those registered to vote who are dead.”

    • Resist Trump and Pence, But Watch Out for the Dems

      Four years of Trump? Eight? Could the future be that bleak?

      With Trump, all bets are off; probabilities don’t matter anymore, or so it seems.

      If they did, George W. Bush could still be confident that his reign as the worst President ever would not be about to end after eight measly years. Having broken a large part of the world and wrecked what we now call “the homeland,” he had every right to expect a longer reign.

      What were the chances, after all, that a real estate finagler with political juice who turned the chunk of money his father gave him into a heap of ill-gotten gains, a thin-skinned egotist with the dignity and gravitas of a playground bully, a reality TV star, an ex-casino mogul, a builder of vulgar luxury resorts for the nouveau riche and a peddler of over the top schlock would be elected President of the United States?

    • Where We Go From Here: 5 Key Ways to Build a Movement

      Millions of people marched throughout the United States and abroad last Saturday to protest Donald Trump’s first day in office and to affirm women’s rights and human rights. The demonstrations were inspiring—full of energy, witty signs, slogans and chants—and brought into the streets a diverse multitude, many of whom were not normally politically active. But a demonstration is not a movement. The key question for many is how does all this energy, outrage and action get channeled into a movement not simply against the Trump Presidency, not only to defend our rights, but for basic societal change.

    • Mayors and Activists Revolt Against Trump’s ”Muslim Ban” Executive Order

      Ever since November 8, 2016, when Donald Trump was elected, Thania Hussain has gone to nearly every protest organized in New York City. Wednesday night in Washington Square Park was no different. Hussain, an undergraduate student at Fordham University, was one of thousands of people who came to take part in a protest organized by Muslim groups in response to President Donald Trump’s proposed de facto ban on Muslims entering the United States.

      “Every time I come out [to protests] I see the same sentiments,” Hussain told me in an interview following the event. “Everyone wants social justice and equality for all. People don’t care if you have a headscarf. It’s wonderful.” She’s not part of the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR), the lead organization that called for the evening’s demonstration. “But I want to be, that’s why I’m here tonight,” she says. “Right now I’m just an undergrad fighting for justice.”

    • Trump appointees are violating the law that prevents them from regulating their former bosses

      A 2009 rule created by Obama in his first days in office says that former executives and lobbyists can’t be hired to work for the government in a capacity that gives them oversight over their former employers; they must wait for two years after leaving such employment before working in a regulatory capacity that relates to it.

      The Trump administration is flouting this legal obligation with its appointees, as well as the weaker federal law that requires a one-year cooling off period. Former Exxonmobil CEO Rex Tillerson is in line to recieve a $180,000,000 bonus from Exxon as a goodbye gift before he takes over the State Department, and that’s not all — there’s a whole raft of these conflicts in Trump’s billionaire cabinet, where there’s a fox for every henhouse.

    • Trump pressured parks chief for photos to prove ‘media lied’ about inauguration crowd – report

      In a Saturday phone call, the president told Michael Reynolds, acting NPS director, that he wanted to see more photos because he thought they could show that the attendance at his Friday swearing-in ceremonies at the National Mall was above average, three sources with knowledge of the conversation told the Post.

      Parks spokesman Tom Crosson told the Guardian in an email on Thursday night, “I can confirm the call happened … but I’m not discussing the content of the call.”

      The account from the Post comes as reports in the first week of Trump’s administration have repeatedly suggested that the president has been obsessed with the flurry of news stories that accurately pointed out that the inauguration had a noticeably smaller crowd than the equivalent event in 2009 when Barack Obama was sworn in.

    • Trump tried to force National Park Service to verify his false numbers about crowd size: report

      New President Donald Trump is so preoccupied with the size of his inauguration crowd that he reportedly asked the National Park Service to back him up on his estimations.

      According to a report from The Washington Post, three people with knowledge of the conversation alleged that Trump called National Park Service director Michael Reynolds on Saturday and asked for new aerial photographs of the crowd during the inauguration.

      The Post reports that Trump believed other photos were inaccurate and there might be others that could prove his personal estimations. Saturday was also the day that Trump made a speech at CIA headquarters that discussed the size of his inauguration.

    • A 20% Mexico tariff would pay for the wall. But it would hurt Americans

      The math works. The U.S. imported $303 billion from Mexico in 2015 and 20% of that is about $60 billion — more than enough to pay for President Trump’s wall on the border.

      But it’s not that simple. American companies and consumers would bear the brunt of such a tariff.

      On Thursday, Trump’s press secretary, Sean Spicer, told reporters that Trump would propose a 20% tariff on all goods shipped from Mexico to the U.S. to pay for the wall. The White House later clarified that it is just one option.

      Experts say a tariff would raise a mountain of concerns about U.S. jobs, the prices of products, and who actually pays for the wall.

    • I Don’t Think Everything is Different

      Any panic that Trump will start a nuke war is based on nothing but fear based on fear; hell, if it makes you feel better, he won’t start a nuclear war because it’ll be bad for his business. On the other hand, the last two presidents started and/or continued plenty of wars. And hey, maybe some reassuring news, Trump has made his first drone strikes, on Yemen, continuing Obama’s policy. He plans to keep Gitmo open, just as Obama did for eight years. He wants to restart torture, like Bush did and Obama silently allowed to pass without prosecutions.

    • Those ‘Resignation’: What Really Happened at the State Department

      Yesterday at the State Department five officials resigned or retired. Another one today.

      The media has gone near-insane, claiming State is crumbling in protest under the Trump administration. This is not true. What happened at State is very routine.

      Leaving the Department are head of the Management Bureau Pat Kennedy (above), Assistant Secretary of State for Administration Joyce Anne Barr, Assistant Secretary of State for Consular Affairs Michele Bond, Ambassador Gentry O. Smith, director of the Office of Foreign Missions, arms control official Tom Countryman, and Victoria Nuland.

    • The traditional way of reporting on a president is dead. And Trump’s press secretary killed it.

      The presidency is not a reality show, but President Trump on his first full day in office made clear that he’s still obsessed with being what he once proudly called “a ratings machine.”

      He cares enough about it to send his press secretary, Sean Spicer, out to brazenly lie to the media in his first official briefing.

      “This was the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration — period — both in person and around the globe,” Spicer said. And he added a scolding about widespread reports that differ from his evidence-free assessment: “These attempts to lessen the enthusiasm of the inauguration are shameful and wrong.”

    • NYT Apologies Depend on Whose Lives Are Distorted

      That was not the reaction that a Times editor had when the paper was criticized for misrepresenting the lives, not of couples in upper-middle-class Montclair, but of impoverished food-stamp recipients. That story’s headline captured the tone: “In the Shopping Cart of a Food Stamp Household: Lots of Soda” (1/13/17)—along with the photograph of a shopping cart filled with almost nothing but Coca-Cola and orange pop.

      Originally, the piece—based on a USDA report on food-buying habits of families that did or did not receive food stamps from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program—claimed that SNAP recipients spent “about 10 percent” of their food budget on soft drinks; this was later corrected to the actual figure of 5 percent, with an explanation that 9.3 percent—not 10 percent—went to “sweetened beverages,” which includes juice.

    • NPR’s No-‘Lie’ Policy and the Limits of Impartiality in the Trump Era

      This is a definition of “lying” that renders the very concept of lying meaningless. As The Intercept’s Sam Biddle noted, “by this definition, you could literally never say someone is lying unless you’re talking about yourself.” So unless an NPR reporter can prove Trump’s state of mind beyond a reasonable doubt, they have to be intent-agnostic about the falsehood. Even if the lie in question—that millions of people voted illegally—has been shown to be false dozens of times, including directly to Trump’s press secretary.

      Further clarification by NPR seemed to imply the issue was also about not wanting to appear partisan or anti-Trump.

      [...]

      NPR is notorious for bending over backwards to avoid the appearance of a liberal bias, even refusing to carry an opera program in 2011 after its host participated in an Occupy protest. But, in the age of Trump and his unprecedentedly loose relationship with reality, its strict adherence to “both sides” journalism does a great disservice to their listeners—to say nothing of the truth.

      Federal funding, according to NPR’s own website, is “essential” to its ability to operate, comprising roughly 6 percent–10 percent of its total revenue, depending on how one parses it. Given Trump’s capricious, vengeful disposition; his already overtly hostile relationship with non-compliant government agencies; and the Republican Party’s existing hatred of publicly funded media, the stir that would be caused by using the L-word may be seen as too great a risk.

    • Trump Vows to Make Paul Ryan’s Nightmarish Budget Vision a Reality

      Since Ryan assumed control of the Budget Committee in 2011, his budget proposals have been met with howls of alarm, described as dangerous for women; “the most extreme version” of austerity economics; and a “path to more adversity.”

      “It calls itself a ‘blueprint for American renewal’ while systematically trampling the American dream,” Robert Borosage of the Campaign for America’s Future wrote of the 2012 version.

    • The leaks coming out of the Trump White House cast the president as a clueless child

      All White Houses leak. Sometimes the leaks are big, sometimes small. But there are always people willing to talk to reporters about the “real” story or about why the chief executive made a mistake in regard to some decision he made.

      That said, I’ve never seen so much leaking so quickly — and with such disdain for the president — as I have in the first six days of Donald Trump’s presidency.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • Germany Finally Dumps Law That Says It’s A Crime To Insult Foreign Leaders

      Last year, we wrote about a bizarre situation in Germany, in which the incredibly thin-skinned Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, had discovered a little-used, mostly forgotten German law, saying that it was illegal to insult a foreign leader, and used it to go after a German comedian. Erdogan, of course, had been filing thousands of lawsuits within Turkey against people who mocked or insulted him, which resulted in people around the globe mocking and making fun of Erdogan. But the fact that he dug up this mostly forgotten law created a bit of a diplomatic mess at the time for German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who was trying to play nice with Erdogan diplomatically, for the sake of helping with the flood of refugees from the Middle East. The weak “compromise” was that Merkel allowed the case to move forward, leading to a sad ruling from a German court, barring the comedian from mocking Erdogan, though a federal investigation was later dropped for “lack of evidence.”

    • Rogue National Park Accounts Emerge On Twitter Amid Social Media Gag Orders

      If Twitter accounts fall silent in the woods, can they still make a sound? Turns out, yes — lots.

      Tuesday afternoon, a new Twitter account called “AltUSNatParkService” appeared and began tweeting out facts about climate change, support for the National Parks and comments in opposition of President Trump, who has called climate change a hoax created by China.

    • Censorship Is Free Speech? It Must Be the Class of 1984

      Higher education’s suppression of speech is well-publicized. But in an odder and less well-known twist, campuses are increasingly co-opting the language of free speech and using it to justify censorship. One example: The designated “free speech zones” that exist on roughly 1 in 10 U.S. college campuses, according to a report released last month by the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education.

    • Cut & Paste: What constitutes censorship in art — and how it affects artists and the community

      St. Louis-area artist Fabio Rodriguez was devastated when a very personal piece of his work was removed from an exhibition. But did that action rise to the level of censorship?

    • Leaked Memo Silences Department of Interior

      A memo leaked today orders all of the bureaus of the Department of Interior, which includes the Bureau of Land Management, US Fish and Wildlife Service, National Park Service, Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM), Bureau of Indian Affairs, and others, to clear nearly every decision or correspondence with the Office of the Executive Secretariat and Regulatory Affairs (OES). Other departments such as the EPA have instituted similar gag orders. This sweeping gag order stops the bureaus from corresponding with entities ranging from tribal leaders, governors, and even Congress.

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • New Attorney General Loves Him Some Encryption Backdoors, Which Should Pair Up Nicely With FBI Director’s Plans For The Future

      It looks as though this administration may be the Decrypto Party. Trump’s pick for Attorney General has already made it clear he thinks asset forfeiture is a damn good thing for the American public, even if it often deprives the public of their property without evidence of criminal wrongdoing or providing a valid avenue of recourse.

      Now, he’s (once again) confirmed encryption shouldn’t keep law enforcement from accessing devices. The EFF reports that Sessions strongly hinted he’s in favor of encryption backdoors during his confirmation hearing.

    • How easy is it to securely leak information to some of America’s top news organizations? This easy

      The Trump administration, in its first full week in office, moved to restrict how a number of federal agencies communicate with the public, including the media. And while at least some of those restrictions appear to have been loosened, the new administration’s stance on the media is quite clear. “The media here is the opposition party,” chief White House strategist and longtime New York Times reader Steve Bannon said Thursday, adding that the media should “keep its mouth shut” for a while.

      The week’s events and the new climate of uncertainty spurred a number of news organizations to remind readers that they are ready and willing to accept leaks, via regular mail and also online with secure tools like SecureDrop, the encrypted anonymous communication software maintained by the Freedom of the Press Foundation.

    • New Trump Executive Order Says Federal Agencies Should Exclude Foreigners From Privacy Protections

      It’s America first, everyone else second. That’s the new administration’s message. An executive order full of disturbing mandates contains a proposed rollback of privacy protections extended to foreign residents’ personal information, as ProPublica’s Julie Angwin pointed out on Twitter.

      Here’s the section detailing the clawback of privacy rights from President Trump’s “Enhancing Public Safety in the Interior of the United States” executive order.

    • Donald Trump Is Using a Private Gmail Account to Secure the Most Powerful Twitter Account in the World

      The new American president’s Twitter account isn’t a means of communication as much as it is a tool for confusion, propaganda, and unceasing assault. But Donald Trump has shown his tweets can move the stock market, provoke foreign powers, and dominate news cycles, so the account’s potential to shake the world is unprecedented. And all that’s stopping an outsider from seizing control of @POTUS could be someone’s personal Gmail password.

    • Before Obama Left Office, He Gave Domestic Agencies Warrantless Access to NSA Surveillance

      By allowing access to NSA data, the FBI and other agencies can look for criminal activity without reasonable suspicion or going to a judge, says The Intercept’s Alex Emmons

    • One More Time With Feeling: ‘Anonymized’ User Data Not Really Anonymous

      As companies and governments increasingly hoover up our personal data, a common refrain to keep people from worrying is the claim that nothing can go wrong — because the data itself is “anonymized” — or stripped of personal detail. But time and time again, we’ve noted how this really is cold comfort; given it takes only a little effort to pretty quickly identify a person based on access to other data sets. As cellular carriers in particular begin to collect every shred of browsing and location data, identifying “anonymized” data using just a little additional context has become arguably trivial.

    • Data Privacy Day 2017: Solutions for everyday privacy

      Privacy, especially online privacy, is hard to define. It’s a term that means something slightly different to each person, and each person has a different tolerance level for what’s acceptable and what’s unacceptable. One thing can generally be said of it, though—in a free society, people ought to be in control of their own privacy.

      If people want to give up a little privacy to receive additional conveniences, then they ought to be allowed to do so, but that doesn’t mean everyone should be required to do the same. In this way, when we ponder matters of online privacy, we’re usually not actually talking about privacy, we’re talking about independence.

      A lot is said about Facebook, Amazon, and Google, and how they assault individual privacy on a daily basis. For the most part, people using those kinds of services do so voluntarily. If you sign up for Facebook, you’re presumably at peace with becoming the marketable asset of Facebook in exchange for the convenience of gaining access to what you consider an audience of critical mass. If you sign up for Google, you’re presumably happy to have Google’s bots read all of your email and track your online habits. For those of us interested in avoiding such services, the solution is simple—don’t sign up for them.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Trump Prepares to Shut Door on Refugees, Ending Long U.S. Tradition

      PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP is expected to sign an executive order on immigration that will be a radical departure from decades of U.S. policy on refugees, all but ending an era in which the United States was a haven for people fleeing war and oppression.

      A leaked copy of the draft order indicates that Trump will halt all refugee resettlement to the United States for the next four months, while indefinitely banning the resettlement of Syrians. The proposal will also halt immigration entirely for 30 days from a list of Muslim-majority countries.

    • I Was a Child, But My Prison Guards Treated Me Like a Dog in Solitary Confinement

      As a teenager, I made some bad decisions. I got into trouble with the law. When I was 15, I was sentenced to a year at the Lincoln Hill School for Boys, a juvenile prison. I didn’t have a great idea what that meant at the time. I didn’t know they’d be sending me four hours away to Irma, Wisconsin, where I would be surrounded by guards who treat the kids there like dogs. They put us in cages, causing us more trauma. I ended up spending two years there after my sentence was extended.

      There are about 160 kids aged 14-17 at Lincoln Hills. A lot of drama happened there with guards beating kids, making them fight each other, and that sort of thing. But maybe the worst thing is solitary.

      I’ve spent most of my time at Lincoln Hills in solitary confinement. They’ve sent me about 10 times for a bunch of reasons. Honestly, I feel like the guards intentionally provoke kids to get them to react so they can put them there and not have to worry about them.

    • Fear Materialized: Border Agents Demand Social Media Data from Americans

      The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) recently filed complaints against U.S Customs and Border Protection (CBP) for, in part, demanding social media information from Muslim American citizens returning home from traveling abroad. According to CAIR, CBP accessed public posts by demanding social media handles, and potentially accessed private posts by demanding cell phone passcodes and perusing social media apps. And border agents allegedly physically abused one man who refused to hand over his unlocked phone.

      CBP recently began asking foreign visitors to the U.S. from Visa Waiver Countries for their social media identifiers. Last fall we filed our own comments opposing the policy, and joined two sets of coalition comments, one by the Center for Democracy & Technology and the other by the Brennan Center for Justice. Notably, CBP explained that it was only seeking publicly available social media data, “consistent with the privacy settings the applicant has set on the platforms.”

    • California Databases Must Not Be Used to Target Immigrants and Muslims

      The California State Legislature is now considering two bills that would build a database firewall to block the flow of personal information from state and local government to federal efforts to deport immigrants and register people based on their religion, ethnicity, or national origin. EFF supports both bills because they would prevent abuse of law enforcement and other government databases to target vulnerable communities.

      The strongest way to protect civil liberties is to fight for privacy protections for all Californians, regardless of their national origin or immigration status. Please support S.B. 54 and S.B. 31 today.

    • Congress scrambles to make sense of Trump plan to tax Mexico to pay for border wall

      Lawmakers in Congress scrambled Thursday to try to make sense of news that President Donald Trump wants to use a 20 percent tax on goods imported from Mexico to pay for the cost of constructing wall on the Southern border.

      “We’re working on a tax reform bill that will reduce our trade deficits, increase American exports and will generate revenue from Mexico that will pay for the wall if we decide to go that route,” Trump announced at a GOP policy retreat in Philadelphia.

    • Liz Cheney Wants to Make Torture Great Again

      When Liz Cheney returned to her ancestral home state of Wyoming in 2012, she expected to be greeted as a liberator. She moved into a house in Jackson Hole, not far from her parents, Dick and Lynne; she bought a horse for her 13-year-old daughter; and she began laying the foundation for a Senate run.

      But in the rush to jump-start her political career, Cheney neglected to inform the man she was angling to replace—Mike Enzi, her father’s fly-fishing buddy and the state’s senior senator. Enzi had been planning to retire after 2014, and had Cheney asked for his blessing, he might have stepped aside. When she surprised him by jumping into the race, he decided his retirement could wait.

      [...]

      Then Donald Trump blew up everything. With Trump, the GOP coalesced around a candidate who’d lambasted George W. Bush for invading Iraq (despite once supporting the invasion) and flirted with 9/11 truthers. He played footsie with Vladimir Putin and, according to the National Security Agency’s director, got an intentional boost from Russian hacking—all while chastising Hillary Clinton for not being tough enough. He opposed military intervention in Syria but promised to “bomb the shit” out of ISIS and, for good measure, to take its oil. He enthusiastically defended torture and said Edward Snowden should be killed. Several veterans of the Bush administration, including Colin Powell, endorsed Clinton. (The ex-president himself said he did not vote for Trump.)

    • Donald Trump Backs Away From His Campaign Pledge to Resurrect Torture

      Throughout his presidential campaign, Donald Trump repeatedly said that torture works, and that should he enter the White House he would utilize techniques such as waterboarding and “much worse” against ISIS fighters. But at a short press conference with UK Prime Minister Theresa May on Friday, Trump said that though he still thinks torture “works,” he will allow newly confirmed Secretary of Defense Gen. James Mattis to “override” him on this point.

      Trump was questioned about his views on torture and other controversial matters by a BBC reporter, who asked, “Mr. President, you’ve said before that torture works, you’ve praised Russia, you’ve said you want to ban some Muslims from coming to America, you’ve suggested there should be punishment for abortion. For many people in Britain, those sound like alarming beliefs. What do you say to our viewers at home who are worried about some of your views and worried about you becoming the leader of the free world?”

      In typical Trumpian fashion, the new president lashed out at the slightest bit of media criticism. “This was your choice of a question,” he said, clearly perturbed. “There goes that relationship,” he darkly joked.

    • Trump to Sign Executive Orders Restricting Immigration From Several Middle East, African Countries

      U.S. President Donald Trump is expected to sign executive orders starting on Wednesday that include a temporary ban on most refugees and a suspension of visas for citizens of Syria and six other Middle Eastern and African countries, say congressional aides and immigration experts briefed on the matter.

      Trump, who tweeted that a “big day” was planned on national security on Wednesday, is expected to ban for several months the entry of refugees into the United States, except for religious minorities escaping persecution, until more aggressive vetting is in place.

    • The lure of New Zealand for jaded Americans

      According to Immigration New Zealand, in November 2016 when the US presidential election was held, 17,584 people registered their interest to study, work or invest in the country, compared with 1,272 in November 2015.

      In the two days following the election, the agency said its website received 88,353 visits from the United States – compared to a usual daily average of 2,300 visits a day.

    • Trump’s Advisor Moving To New Zealand

      Peter Thiel has bought some nice lakefront property in New Zealand and has jumped to the head of the queue to get out while the getting is good. It’s interesting that Trump would have a New Zealander as an executive of Trump’s transition team, eh?

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • Verizon Eyes Charter Megamerger, Because Who Likes Broadband Competition Anyway?

      Charter Communications just got done spending $79 billion to acquire Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks. And like most telecom megamergers, the promises made before the deal (more jobs! better service! incredible new innovation!) have only a fleeting resemblance to what’s actually happening in the real world. Instead, acquired markets have enjoyed frozen broadband deployments, rate hikes and scaled back social media support. With Charter already having among the worst customer service in any industry in America, support in the wake of the merger has been precisely what you’d expect.

  • DRM

    • Won’t someone please think of the bikers?

      If there’s anything more remarkable than the fact that five states are debating “Right to Repair” bills that make it legal for you to fix your own property, it’s that these bills are needed in the first place. Can it really be true that you aren’t allowed choose how to configure, repair, and service the things you own?

      Weirdly enough, the answer is yes. Section 1201 of the 1998 Digital Millennium Copyright Act makes it unlawful to tamper with software locks that control access to copyrighted works — more commonly known as “Digital Rights Management” or DRM. As the number of products with software in them has exploded, the manufacturers of these products have figured out that they can force their customers to use their own property in ways that benefit the company’s shareholders, not customers. All they have to do is design those products so that using them in other ways requires breaking some DRM, then invoke the DMCA to stop anyone from using products in unapproved ways.

      The conversion of companies’ commercial preferences into legally enforceable rights has been especially devastating to the repair sector, a huge slice of the US economy, as much as 4% of GDP, composed mostly of small mom-n-pop storefront operations that create jobs right in local communities, because repair is a local business. No one wants to send their car, or even their phone, to China or India for servicing.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Copyrights

      • Copyright Trolls Overplay Their Hand In Finland, Bringing A Government Microscope To Their Practices

        Copyright trolls operate on a precarious edge.They have to find enough people willing to fall for their threat settlement letters to be profitable, while at the same time not causing enough of a stir to be noticed by the general public or risk backlash. Quite often, copyright trolls do indeed cross this line. It’s not all that often, however, that they cross it in spectacular fashion.

        Yet that appears to be exactly what they’ve done in Finland, where so many internet account holders have been sent threat letters that both local law enforcement groups and the national government have been forced to respond.

      • Finnish Government Investigates as Tens of Thousands Face Piracy ‘Fines’

        The Finnish government will launch an investigation after it was revealed that tens of thousands of citizens are facing demands for cash settlements for alleged piracy offenses. With both police and parliament now involved, the Ministry of Education and Culture says that copyright legislation is not designed for the public to be “milked”.

Ray Niro’s Troll Firm Has Collapsed, the Patent Microcosm Scrambles to Stop Patent Reform and Even Attacks Michelle Lee (USPTO Director)

Posted in America, Patents at 9:02 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Make Watchtroll great again?

Watchtroll great againSummary: Progress is being made to the point where the father of patent trolling and his firm are both gone; The ‘Watchtroll clan’ and other circles that are sympathetic to patent trolls continue to attack the system which attempts to stop the trolls (in order to make litigation great again, and make lawyers richer)

LAST night I was approached by journalists and interviewed for an hour over the telephone because of attacks on my free speech (details in [1, 2]) and in the process it turned out that one of them, Mr. Mullin, wrote that Ray Niro‘s troll firm is finally as dead as him. For the uninitiated, Niro was the father of patent trolling and he was connected to the world's biggest troll, Intellectual Ventures. Here is what Mullin wrote a few days ago:

The Chicago law firm that became synonymous with “patent troll”-type litigation is shutting down, following the death of founding partner Raymond Niro.

The remaining partners of the Niro Law Firm are shuttering the firm, according to a report in Crain’s Chicago Business. A core group, including Niro’s son Dean Niro, will launch a new firm called Vitale Vickrey Niro & Gasey.

These are inconvenient truths (e.g. to IAM), so we’re not exactly surprised that nobody but Mullin properly covered this major news (as far as we can tell). The market for patent trolling in the US is nosediving, yet yesterday all that IAM was able to say is: “growing confidence in the US patent market” (right there in the headline!).

“What about the collapse of patent trolls? Has IAM been paid enough by patent trolls to refrain from reporting that?”Really? So taking 12 staff on board (maybe after bankruptcy/liquidation) is “sign of growing confidence in the US patent market”? That is hilarious a misinterpretation, maybe misreporting too. To quote: “Last week it was announced that investment bank Houlihan Lokey had acquired Black Stone IP in another sign that financial giants are taking a closer look at the patent space. The deal will see Black Stone’s US-based staff of 12 join Houlihan, including CEO Elvir Causevic and managing director Edmund Fish who will co-head the group at their new home. A Bosnian-based operation is not part of the deal, but will retain connections with Houlihan.”

What about the collapse of patent trolls? Has IAM been paid enough by patent trolls to refrain from reporting that?

In other news, the Director of the USPTO will reportedly remain Michelle Lee, but Watchtroll and similar bullies are attacking the Trump administration or trying to shame it into canning her. Neal Solomon, for example, writing in Watchtroll yesterday, chose a very dramatic headline: “The Disintegration of the American Patent System”

Wow. So fixing the system is “Disintegration”?

This is, by our count, the third (if not fourth [1, 2, 3]) attack in a week by Watchtroll against the patent system and Lee in particular, personally. So much for diplomacy and professionalism… they already attack her for her past employment at Google. What next? Attack her for her Asian heritage, claiming it introduces some sort of conflict or corruption? They already use the word “swamp” too, thereby flirting with the racist Alt-Right crowd.

According to this letter shown by Patently-O yesterday, there are even more attacks on Lee, courtesy of the patent microcosm. It calls Lee a “swamp”. How impolite. Prof. Dennis Crouch wrote: “If I were a patentee, I would certainly have great concern that the next director may be far worse.”

More from his post:

With conflicting media reports and no statement from the USPTO or Department of Commerce, we are left guessing as to whether Michelle Lee continues-on as USPTO Director and Undersecretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property. The Commerce Department leadership has been substantially filled – but the IP position remains blank. My request for clarification from the office have also been denied. I have also submitted a FOIA request, but that process tends to be slow. We will likely have to wait for the Confirmation of Wilbur Ross as Commerce Secretary before stakeholders are informed of the state-of-affairs.

We certainly hope that Lee’s tenure will be confirmed some time soon and that aggressive lobbying by the patent microcosm will backfire badly. We need trolls like Niro to go away (he himself, along with his firm, are already dead) and denying software patents will certainly contribute to that.

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