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01.24.15

Apple — Like Microsoft — Not Interested in the Security of Its Operating Systems

Posted in Apple, Google, Microsoft, Security at 9:54 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

A big hole in Apple, but Apple doesn’t mind as long as the public doesn’t know

Foul apple

Summary: Apple neglected to patch known security flaws in Mac OS X for no less than three months and only did something about that vector of intrusion when the public found out about it

LAST year Apple admitted having back doors in iOS, conveniently dubbing them “diagnostics” (Orwellian newspeak). Apple did this only after a security researcher had found and publicised severe flaws that enabled remote intrusion into any device running iOS (there are unfortunately many such devices out there). This led us to alleging that not only Microsoft and the NSA worked to enable back doors for secret access into Windows. Both Apple and Microsoft are in PRISM and both produce proprietary software onto which it’s trivial to dump back doors, both undetectable and immutable.

Weeks ago we showed that Microsoft does not strive to make Windows secure, based on its very own actions whenever the public is unaware of the insecurities (only the NSA/GCHQ and the reporter/s are 'in the know'). Now we come to realise that Apple too — like Microsoft — did not close back/bug doors in Mac OS X for 90 days despite knowing about them. This isn’t a 0-day, it is a 90-day. It’s incompetence, negligence and might one even say deliberate sabotage by Apple. Apple just chose to leave the serious flaws in tact until it was too late because the public found out about it, owing to Google.

Do not let the Wintel-centric media blame Google for merely informing the public that proprietary operating systems like Windows and Mac OS X have holes in them that Microsoft and Apple refuse to patch. We should generally be thankful for this information. It says quite a lot about Microsoft’s and Apple’s priorities. It helps prove China right for banning Windows and Apple operating systems in government.

There is increasing consensus that Apple is going down the bin when it comes to users’ trust and browsing the Net these days I often read or hear from people who abandon Apple for GNU/Linux. Suffice to say, based on public appearances, the NSA is intimately involved in the build process of OS X (for a number of years now), which does make one wonder.

As Battistelli Breaks the Rules and Topić Silences Staff, New European Parliament Petition for Tackling the EPO’s Abuses is Needed

Posted in Europe, Law, Patents at 9:03 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Benoît Battistelli

Benoît Battistelli meets Siemens

Summary: The neglected (by EPO) Article 4a of the European Patent Convention (EPC) and the European Parliament petition/complaint against the EPO’s crooked management

Now that the internal communications person (i.e. PR) is out and things are heating up against the EPO Vice-President (never mind Benoît Battistelli, the EPO President), the corporate takeover of the patent system in Europe can be slowed down. We have just learned from this European patents maximalism blog that “Philips is among the top-10 Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) applicants and the top-3 European Patent Convention (EPC) applicants. Owning about 64,000 patents and filing approximately 1,500 patent applications each year (with a strong focus on the growth areas of health and well-being), much is at stake for the company with the introduction of a Unified Patent Court (UPC) and the Unitary Patent (UP). Philips’ principal IP Counsel Leo Steenbeek told Kluwer IP Law in an interview he hopes financial demands of UP member states won´t lead to unrealistic high renewal fees. Philips won’t opt-out patents when the UPC starts functioning.”

This helps remind us who the EPO really serves. It has become a “protection” apparatus for large corporations, largely at the expense of citizens of Europe. The Unified Patent Court would enable huge corporations to sue a lot of rivals or intimidate them. It would also help patent trolls.

Several months ago a source sent us some information about the neglected Article 4a of the European Patent Convention (EPC), which might be of interest. Article 4a of the EPC deals with very fundamental rules. If any rule it is violated, then there is legal basis on which to file complaints.

As our source put it: “Another example of how the current EPO management (meaning Battistelli and the Administrative Council) has managed to avoid political oversight can be seen by consulting Article 4a of the European Patent Convention according to which: “A conference of ministers of the Contracting States responsible for patent matters shall meet at least every five years to discuss issues pertaining to the Organisation and to the European patent system.”

“This Article,” explained our source, “was introduced into the revised version of the EPC (“EPC 2000”) which entered into force on December 13, 2007.

“However, despite the statutory requirement to hold a ministerial conference at least once every five years, no such conference has been convened since the entry into force of the revised EPC in 2007. The first five year period expired on in December 2012, i.e. on Battistelli’s watch. (He was appointed EPO President in 2010.)”

This would not be the first time that Battistelli dodges or eliminates oversight, as we showed numerous times before. “If you can read French,” said our source, “it may be worth having a look at an interview Battistelli gave to a French magazine in 2012.

“In this interview he boasts (in French) of the “independence” that he enjoys as EPO President.” To quote the interview: «Je n’ai jamais été aussi libre, insiste-t-il. Je n’ai pas de ministère de tutelle, de Parlement, de gouvernement. C’est nous qui fixons les règles, les discutons, les négocions.»

In English: “I have never been so free, he insists. I have no supervisory Minister above me, nor any Parliament or government. It is we who discuss, negotiate and decide on the rules.”

In other words, he has got himself a tyranny. He does not even need to obey rules. “The “we” referred to here seems to mean Battistelli himself and the AC,” remarked our source. As we have demonstrated time after time, the Administrative Council is basically in cahoots rather than independent from Battistelli. It’s a banana republic’s status quo.

“However,” he said, “as can be seen from Article 4a EPC, Battistelli’s arrogant boast that he is not subject to any oversight by ministerial or governmental authority betrays a serious misunderstanding of the legal framework established by the revised EPC.

“Obviously, the intention behind article 4a is to provide for some measure of political oversight of the EPO at ministerial level. It is only by ignoring this provision, i.e. by not taking any measures to convene a ministerial conference despite the statutory requirement to do so, that the EPO President and the AC have been able to evade this kind of political oversight.”

“We wish to revive the petition, preferably not just from Croatia.”The rejected complaint (in the form of a petition) to the European Parliament is worth revisiting in this context, given that some European politicians continue to pursue action against the EPO. We wish to revive the petition, preferably not just from Croatia. There is a certain stereotype and a myth that Topić and his ilk exploit; it’s the myth only Croats are upset at Topić, supposedly because of envy. We need more involvement from people outside Croatia and by providing information in English we hopefully make more people aware of the issues and thus more able to communicate them. Any such communication in support of the previous petition from members of the general public could be useful to encourage the Petitions Committee to investigate the abuse as it would indicate to the Committee that there is a public interest in the issues raised by the Petition outside of Croatia (from where the original petition originates).

We have already written several times about the first petition calling for an independent investigation of Topić’s appointment. The petition was submitted to the European Parliament by a Croatian NGO called Juris Protecta. It stated that an independent (outside) investigation was needed, but none ever took place, even two years later. The petition goes back to 2013 and the reference number for the petition was (and still is) 2848/2013. The original petition contained a request for confidential treatment. This request for confidential treatment was subsequently withdrawn which means that the petition is now a public document. In the mean time, Vesna Stilin (another Croat) had submitted an application to join the Petition as a co-petitioner and she was taking other actions to address these matters, as mentioned in several older articles of ours. The previous meeting of the Petitions Committee of the European Parliament was scheduled for 11 November 2014 and the next one is at the end of this month, so there may be time to submit new petitions, something along the lines of the following words of ours (please don’t just copy). Here is some draft text which could be used as a basis for communicating and conveying thoughts to the Petitions Committee:

Dear Sir/Madam,

I/we refer to Petition 2848/2013 [1] which has been filed with the Petitions Committee of the European Parliament and which calls for an independent investigation of the appointment of Mr. Željko Topić as a Vice-President of the European Patent Organisation. In December the petition was rejected not because it lacked merit but because it was claimed to be within the responsibility of other departments. This response is deeply problematic because the nature of the petitioner’s concerns and the core complaint is that those other departments have been gagged, suppressed, or even abolished by those who are supposed to be overseen. That, as some may argue, is how Topić got into his position in the first place. It means that the European Parliament is the last resort and the only body able to engage in a potent investigation. The European Parliament should consider revisiting these issues, among more issues such as the violation of the European Patent Convention (EPC) [see/refer above].

I/we hereby wish to express my/our support for the 2013 Petition and suggest that a new, more extensive investigation into these matters in undertaken. I/we would be grateful if you could acknowledge in due course that my/our support for the Petition has been registered with the Petitions Committee.

Yours sincerely,

[name/org]

___
[1] Ref: Petition No. 2848/2013 filed by Juris Protecta (Croatia).

This is just a suggested draft for a letter to the Petitions Committee of the European Parliament to express support for Petition No. 2848/2013 calling for an independent investigation of the appointment of Mr. Željko Topić as a Vice-President of the European Patent Organisation. We urge for expansion of the original complaint/petition, either by citation or by filing of a new petition (clarifying that it is a followup), as a lot more is known now than was known back in 2013. The European Parliament should be able to find plenty of relevant information in French, German, and English. Benoît Battistelli is quickly moving to crush any kind of oversight and if the European Parliament continues to refuse to intervene, it too would lose legitimacy and potentially be seen/perceived as complicit. Members of the European Parliament need to understand that.

For the moment we don’t know whether or not the petition 2848/2013 will ever be the agenda again. It might therefore be worth filing a fresh petition. We would like to point out here that, in principle, any EU citizen who is interested in this matter can write to the Petitions Committee to express support for petitions. Maybe some of our European readers would take leadership on this matter. Other readers would hopefully be interested in expressing their support for the petition or submitting a new one. Some contact details for the Petitions Committee are as follows:

Chairperson

  • Ms Cecilia WIKSTRÖM: cecilia.wikstrom@europarl.europa.eu

Vice-Chairpersons

  • Mr Pál CSÁKY: pal.csaky@europarl.europa.eu
  • Ms Rosa ESTARÀS FERRAGUT: rosa.estaras@europarl.europa.eu
  • Ms Roberta METSOLA: roberta.metsola@europarl.europa.eu
  • Ms Marlene MIZZI: marlene.mizzi@europarl.europa.eu

Secretariat of the Committee on Petitions

  • Mr David LOWE, Head of Unit: david.lowe@europarl.europa.eu

Postal Address

Petitions Committee
European Parliament
60 rue Wiertz / Wiertzstraat 60
B-1047 – Bruxelles/Brussels
BELGIUM

If you do choose to communicate with a petition, please consider sharing some information with us in the comments below, e.g. a reference number. Organising the action would make it more effective.

01.23.15

Links 23/1/2015: Red Hat on IBM Power, Meizu Leaks With Ubuntu

Posted in News Roundup at 7:46 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

Free Software/Open Source

  • MediaFire Launches Open Source Toolkit for Linux
  • ‘Windows Must Go Open Source’: What Happened?

    It was a bold prediction in 2009 that Microsoft would take its Windows operating system open source. The advent of Windows 10 says it hasn’t come true — yet.

  • It’s Windows *10*, Because It’s 10 Years Behind Open Source

    I don’t write about Microsoft much here. That’s largely because, as I noted recently, open source has won. Well, it’s won in the field of supercomputers, cloud computing, Web servers, mobile systems, embedded systems and the Internet of Things. Of course, it hasn’t won on the desktop – although there are some interesting indications that even there things may be changing. That means Wednesday’s launch of Windows 10 is still important, since it affects the daily lives of many people – far too many. Here, I want to focus on a few key aspects that emerged.

  • Events

    • Weekend Viewing: Catch up on LCA 2015

      With many of the videos from linux.conf.au now available, and a three-day weekend about to hit Australia, there’s no excuse not to watch the best talks from last week.

  • Web Browsers

  • SaaS/Big Data

    • Platform9 Claims its OpenStack Private Clouds Can Spin Up in Minutes

      Platform9, which many people have taken note of as a virtualization-focused startup, is making news this week after it announced the availability of Platform9 Managed OpenStack, a SaaS solution that leverages an organization’s existing servers into an AWS-like agile, self-service private cloud. Platform9 claims it can allow organizations to spin up an OpenStack private cloud deployment within minutes.

    • Hortonworks’ Hadoop Platform Now on Google Cloud Platform

      On the heels of its introduction as a hot new publlic company a few weeks ago, Hortonworks, which focuses on the open source Big Data platform Hadoop, is expanding its reach. Recently, Hortonworks extended its technology partner program with the addition of three new certifications it offers. Hadoop-related certification is a very hot commodity in the tech job market at the moment.

    • Federal Agencies Cautious of Cloud Commitment

      Meritalk’s new report, Cloud without Commitment, underwritten by Red Hat and Cisco, examined federal barriers to cloud adoption including migration, data portability, integration and future agility.

    • Federal Agencies Using Open Source Solutions More Satisfied with Cloud Security: MeriTalk

      Seventy-five percent of federal IT workers want to move more services to the cloud, but are held back by data control concerns, according to a survey released this week by MeriTalk. According to “Cloud Without the Commitment,” only 53 percent of federal IT workers rate their cloud experience as very successful, the same number as are being held back by fear of long-term contracts.

  • Healthcare

    • Living near more trees means fewer antidepressants

      Trees are incredibly smart. They run on sunshine, provide shade in summer and ever so kindly drop their leaves to allow the winter sun through. And now a team from the University of Exeter has determined that they are good for our mental health, too. Londoners who had more trees on their street popped fewer antidepressant pills.

  • BSD

    • PC-BSD 10.1.1 To Bring New System Updater, Qt5 Utilities

      The PC-BSD crew that base their desktop-focused BSD operating system off of FreeBSD put out their 10.1.1. release candidate this week.

      This quarterly update to PC-BSD (v10.1.1) is set to bring a new system updater that supports automatic background updating, improvements to the boot environments / GRUB support, GPT partition installation improvements, all PC-BSD desktop utillities have been converted to Qt5, OVA files for virtual machines, and various other improvements over the original PC-BSD 10.1 release.

    • PC-BSD Releases Updated Lumina Desktop Environment

      Besides working toward PC-BSD 10.1.1′s release, the PC-BSD crew have also been working on improving their Lumina Desktop Environment.

      Nearly a year ago I wrote about PC-BSD developing its own desktop environment and months later it was out in alpha form. The new PC-BSD desktop is called Lumina and it’s a homegrown environment catered toward the BSDs. The Lumina desktop is FreeDesktop.org/XDG-complaintand they’re hoping for it to be an alternative to GNOME or KDE.

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC

  • Openness/Sharing

    • Linus Torvalds on security, AI tools by Facebook, and more
    • Powering the Open-Source Cloud: What Tesla Motors Can Teach IT

      Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk posted a blog entry on June 12 that was far from typical, but not unexpected for those who know him. He discusses the “wall of patents” his company owns for the manufacturing of electric cars and argues that “these days they serve merely to stifle progress.” The result? Tesla has made all of its patents public, paving the way for an open-source electric car. There’s a similar movement underway in IT: The open-source cloud. What can IT professionals learn from Musk’s recent move?

    • Open Access/Content

      • Find a greater audience for your creative work

        There was a time not long ago when publishing was difficult and expensive. Thanks to services like Lulu.com and Lulujr.com, that’s changing. Open source and Creative Commons licensing has also opened the door for teachers and students to inexpensively and easily find a new and authentic audience for their work.

  • Programming

Leftovers

  • ‘It just works’? Not so for too many Apple users

    Apple’s journey from ‘it just works’ to ‘it just needs more work’ may undermine the company’s reputation for quality

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Ebola Was Only A Warm-Up: The Measles Outbreak Is For Real

      Nearly 80% of Americans — 80%! — even wanted doctors and nurses that treated Ebola patients to be locked into quarantines, despite lack of medical evidence.

      Of course, a mass Ebola outbreak in the United States never materialized.

      But a major measles outbreak is already here. And it’s only going to get worse.

  • Security

    • UK Firms’ Faith In Security Tools And Policies Is Misplaced

      Less than half of firms regularly take basic measures like installing patches and updating software, Cisco research finds

      Cisco has warned that many businesses’ faith in their security tools and policies is misplaced, as just 42 percent of UK firms have highly sophisticated measures in place – less than India, the US and Germany.

      The networking firm’s Annual Security Report found that 75 percent of Chief Information Security Officers (CISOs) believe their tools are ‘very’ or ‘extremely’ effective yet less than half take standard steps like patching and updating software to the latest versions, increasing their protection.

    • Adobe fixes Flash flaw in Windows, Mac and Linux

      Adobe has rushed out an emergency fix for a flaw that was affecting users of its Flash Player tool on Windows, Mac and Linux systems.

      Adobe said in a notification about the fix that it was aware that the flaw was being abused by criminals to carry out attacks against Flash Player.

      “Adobe is aware of reports that an exploit for CVE-2015-0310 exists in the wild, which is being used in attacks against older versions of Flash Player,” the firm said.

    • Friday’s security updates
  • Defence/Police/Secrecy/Aggression

    • ‘We Were Arrogant’: Interview with New York Times Editor Baquet

      SPIEGEL: One of the reasons Snowden didn’t approach the New York Times was that the paper had refused to publish the initial research about the NSA’s bulk collection in 2004. The story was only published almost a year later. Was it a mistake to have held back on that reporting?

      Baquet: I wasn’t even at the New York Times then and I don’t know what the discussions were like. It’s easy to look at it now and say, “how could the New York Times not have published the story,” but I won’t judge them because I wasn’t here, and I don’t know what the discussions were like. Bill Keller, the former editor in chief, has said the story was not as good as the one they published.

      SPIEGEL: There are other cases where the New York Times showed a lot of consideration for the US government. In 2011, for example, you didn’t print a story about drone bases in Saudi Arabia. Can you give us an insight into what your criteria are for not publishing those kinds of stories?

      Baquet: It was my decision not to publish the drone research — and it was a mistake. The circumstance was that the American-born radical cleric Anwar al-Awlaki had been killed by a drone strike. We were writing a story on deadline. A high-ranking CIA official called me up and made the case to leave out where the drone base was. It was Saudi Arabia. I accepted it. And I was wrong. I made a decision on deadline that I regretted almost the next day. We then published the information later. It taught me a lesson. But there are instances where I think you do have to hold things back, and I can think of some instances where I don’t regret it.

      SPIEGEL: For example?

      Baquet: During WikiLeaks, there was one specific instance in which there was a really remarkable cable. Moammar Gadhafi was still in power and it was a greatly detailed cable, which clearly came from somebody with firsthand knowledge of Gadhafi’s activities. It felt like a great thing to publish, but the government made the case that if we published it, it would be very clear to Gadhafi where it came from, and that the source would be killed. Once I reread that cable in light of that, I think it was pretty clear that the government was making a compelling case not to publish it. As I recall, everybody involved agreed not to use that particular cable.

    • Hollywood uses ‘American Sniper’ to destroy history & create myth

      The moral depravity into which the US is sinking is shown by the movie American Sniper glorifying the exploits of a racist killer receiving six Oscar nominations, whereas ‘Selma’ depicting Martin Luther King’s struggle against racism has received none.

      American Sniper is directed by Clint Eastwood, and tells the story of Chris Kyle, a US Navy Seal who served four tours of duty in Iraq as a sniper credited with 160 confirmed “kills”, and earning him the dubious honor of being lauded the most lethal sniper in US military history.

      [...]

      Anything resembling balance and perspective is sacrificed in American Sniper to the more pressing needs of US propaganda, which holds that the guys who served in Iraq were the very best of America, men who went through hell in order to protect the freedoms and way of life of their fellow countrymen at home. It is the cult of the soldier writ large, men who in the words of Kyle (Bradley Cooper) in the movie “just want to get the bad guys.”

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife

    • Memo To The Media: GOP-Led Senate Is Still Denying Climate Science

      On January 21, 98 U.S. senators voted to affirm that “climate change is real and not a hoax.” But the media should not misconstrue that vote as evidence that the Republican-led Senate is now seeing eye-to-eye with scientists on the issue. Moments later, 49 senators voted to deny that “human activity significantly contributes to climate change” – the position held by the vast majority of climate scientists.

    • A small Australian town hit with ridiculously hot temperatures

      The town, with a population in the low hundreds, was forecast to swelter through a whopping 49 degrees Celsius (120.2 degrees Fahrenheit), according to the Australian Bureau of Meteorology (BoM). By 1:30 p.m., Marble Bar had reached a high of 48.4 degrees Celsius. At 2:30 p.m. local time, the mercury dropped a measly point to 48.3 degrees Celsius, while by 4 p.m. it had only slid to 48.2 degrees Celsius.

    • Benzene found in Montana water supply after Yellowstone oil spill

      A cancer-causing component of oil has been detected in the drinking water supply of an eastern Montana city downstream from a crude oil spill

    • Montana Oil Spill Renews Worries

      Oil spill into Yellowstone River renews concerns about pipeline safety.

    • Big Coal Destroys the Great Barrier Reef and Caley Wetlands

      Instead of protecting it, the Queensland and Australian federal government have traded the crown jewel of the Seven Wonders of the World for exporting more heat-trapping gas and coal and more poisonous mercury vapor.

  • Finance

  • PR/AstroTurf/Lobbying

    • Muslim-Bashing Not a No-Go Zone for Bobby Jindal

      But Iftikhar was merely suggesting that there is prejudice based on skin color in our political culture–hardly a far-fetched claim–and that non-white politicians like Jindal may tend to bash other minorities (in this case, Muslims) in order to avoid the consequences of this prejudice. (Iftikhar’s use of the skin-scrubbing metaphor indicates that he finds this a futile endeavor.)

    • A Cheat Sheet For Obama’s 2015 State Of The Union Speech

      On the other hand, it’s equally hard to argue that Obama has done much to slow the boom down. The administration has resisted pressure from environmental groups to regulate hydraulic fracturing, and Obama’s current energy secretary, Ernest Moniz, has been a fairly outspoken defender of the technique. If anything is holding back drilling, it’s falling prices, not administration policies.

  • Censorship

  • Privacy

    • Privacy is dead, Harvard professors tell Davos forum

      That is the terrifying dystopian world portrayed by a group of Harvard professors at the World Economic Forum in Davos on Thursday, where the assembled elite heard that the notion of individual privacy is effectively dead.

      “Welcome to today. We’re already in that world,” said Margo Seltzer, a professor in computer science at Harvard University.

      “Privacy as we knew it in the past is no longer feasible… How we conventionally think of privacy is dead,” she added.

    • Abuse of Parliamentary procedure: introducing the Comms Data Bill into the Counter Terrorism and Security Bill

      Laying eighteen pages of clauses before the Lords to insert the Snoopers’ Charter into an already complicated bill is an abuse of procedure. The Lords cannot have time to properly consider the bill, and would deny the Commons the opportunity to consider the clauses as well.

    • Snooper’s Charter – the Zombie Bill that just won’t go away

      Four members of the House of Lords have attempted to bring back from the dead the Communications Data Bill – otherwise known as the Snoopers’ Charter. The entirety of the bill that had previously been rejected (or at least put on hold) by Parliament – some 18 pages in all – was added as a late ‘amendment’ to the Counter Terrorism and Security Bill currently passing through the Lords. This is utterly cynical at best, and a total abuse of parliamentary procedure at worst.

    • “Is this 21st Century farming?”

      The Technological boom has touched nearly every industry; it may now be taking over the farming industry. Monsanto and John Deere, two big Agribusiness giants, have started services that allow them to collect minute by minute data from farms as crops are being planted and harvested. Currently available to Midwestern farmers, both companies pledge that the data will benefit the farmers by increasing profits.

    • Wyden, Chaffetz Stand Up for Privacy with GPS Act

      In order to create clear rules about when law enforcement agencies can access and track Americans’ electronic location data Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., and Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, reintroduced the Geolocation Privacy and Surveillance Act (GPS Act) today.

      The bipartisan, bicameral bill is co-sponsored by Sen. Mark Kirk, R-Ill., and in the House by Reps. Peter Welch, D-VT and Jon Conyers Jr., D-MI.

  • Civil Rights

    • Anonymous hackers turn fire on global paedophile menace

      They are best known for hacking government and corporate websites, but in the wake of the Westminster child abuse scandal and allegations of establishment cover-ups, the Anonymous internet collective has a new target: exposing international paedophile networks.

    • US reporter jailed for linking to stolen data

      A journalist with connections to the hacking collective Anonymous has been sentenced to five years in jail after posting online links to stolen data.

      Barrett Brown originally faced charges punishable by more than 100 years in prison, but the sentence was reduced after he pleaded guilty last year.

      He said he broke the law to reveal details of illegal government activity.

      The case drew criticism from advocates of free speech and media rights organisations.

    • British Spy Agency Considers Journalists a Threat, Vacuums Up Their Emails

      Terrorists, hackers, and journalists. According to a recent Guardian article covering new Snowden documents, British spy agency GCHQ considers all of these individuals threats—various levels of threats, but threats nonetheless. One intelligence report goes so far as to say, “Of specific concern are ‘investigative journalists’ who specialise in defence-related exposés either for profit or what they deem to be of the public interest.”

      [...]

      It shouldn’t need to be said, but journalists’ communications need to be safe from government hands. And yet, we see example after example of the British government going after this important check to power. (The US has done its fair share of targeting journalists as well.) The Guardian, for example, was forced by GCHQ to destroy their hard drives containing Snowden documents. That was soon after David Miranda, partner of journalist Glenn Greenwald, was detained and interrogated at Heathrow for nine hours. England has notoriously abused its surveillance laws to spy on journalists, prompting over 100 editors to sign a letter to the British prime minister calling for a stop to the spying and passage of a strong freedom of expression law.

    • US government faces fine after spoofing a citizen’s Facebook profile

      THE US DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE (DoJ) will pay $134,000 to a woman who was the victim of a spoof Facebook page that featured her in varying states of dress.

      The fine relates to a case from 2010 when a waitress called Sondra Arquiett was arrested as part of a drugs bust.

      The BBC reports that Arquiett complained after she realised that images, including some with her in short shorts, had been posted online by a third party.

      She sued the government for its actions and the DoJ set about considering it. The DoJ has admitted what it did, but has not accepted that it acted improperly.

    • Sotomayor to Justice Department Lawyer: ‘We Can’t Keep Bending the Fourth Amendment to the Resources of Law Enforcement’

      The Supreme Court heard oral argument yesterday in the Fourth Amendment case Rodriguez v. United States. At issue is whether an officer “unnecessarily prolonged” an otherwise legal traffic stop when he called for backup in order to safely walk a drug-sniffing dog around the stopped vehicle. According to a previous Supreme Court ruling, the use of drug dogs during routine traffic stops poses no constitutional problems so long as the traffic stop is not “prolonged beyond the time reasonably required to complete that mission.”

    • Sen. Burr is wrong to recall CIA torture report

      It didn’t take long for North Carolina Republican Sen. Richard Burr to stir up his Democratic colleagues on the Senate Intelligence Committee he now chairs. He has sent the White House a letter, The New York Times reports, demanding that copies of an internal CIA report on torture be “returned immediately.”

      Burr and some other Republicans didn’t like the report released under the previous Intelligence Committee chair, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, a California Democrat. In it, the CIA’s use of torture was detailed and documented, and it embarrassed the agency and, for that matter, the country.

    • SSCI Chairman to CIA: We’ll Hide Your Documents if You Hide Ours

      Shortly after he became chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence in January, Senator Richard Burr told reporters in his home state that he had no intention of trying to rewrite the committee’s 6700-page, $40 million torture report. Burr said that despite his disagreements with the report, he wanted to “look forward and do oversight in real time.”

      It turns out that Burr’s statement was half true: he doesn’t want to rewrite the torture report. But he does want to help the CIA slip it into a memory hole—along with the Panetta Review, an internal CIA study that confirms the Senate report’s conclusions.

    • Saudi Arabia: King’s Reform Agenda Unfulfilled

      King Abdullah’s reign brought about marginal advances for women but failed to secure the fundamental rights of Saudi citizens to free expression, association, and assembly.

    • Greek leftists Syriza extend poll lead two days before election

      Greece’s anti-bailout Syriza party has widened its lead over the ruling conservatives to 6.7 percentage points from six points previously, a survey showed on Friday, two days before a national election.

    • The lesson of the Charlie Hebdo murders is to double down on the Bill of Rights

      The British, forever bragging about how attuned to irony they are, are responsible for some of the most hilariously ironic free speech and privacy violations in the world. There was the man charged with a “Racially Aggravated Crime” because he made a statement criticizing Islam—which turned out to be a direct quote from Winston Churchill. There’s the flat in London surrounded by 32 CCTV cameras—it once belonged to George Orwell.

    • FBI Agent: No Direct Evidence Ex-CIA Man Leaked to Reporter

      There is no direct evidence that an ex-CIA officer leaked details of a classified mission to a journalist, but phone and email records show the two were in frequent contact, an FBI agent testified Wednesday.

      Prosecutors wrapped up their case with a web of circumstantial evidence based on the phone and email contacts.

      Former CIA man Jeffrey Sterling, 47, of O’Fallon, Missouri, is charged with leaking information about a purportedly botched operation to thwart Iran’s nuclear program to New York Times reporter James Risen, who wrote about the mission in the 2006 book “State of War.” Risen has refused to disclose his sources.

    • Compare and Contrast: Obama’s Reaction to the Deaths of King Abdullah and Hugo Chávez

      Hugo Chávez was elected President of Venezuela four times from 1998 through 2012 and was admired and supported by a large majority of that country’s citizens, largely due to his policies that helped the poor. King Abdullah was the dictator and tyrant who ran one of the most repressive regimes on the planet.

      The effusive praise being heaped on the brutal Saudi despot by western media and political figures has been nothing short of nauseating; the UK Government, which arouses itself on a daily basis by issuing self-consciously eloquent lectures to the world about democracy, actually ordered flags flown all day at half-mast to honor this repulsive monarch.

    • Saudi Arabia’s Tyrant King Misremembered as Man of Peace

      It’s not often that the unelected leader of a country which publicly flogs dissidents and beheads people for sorcery wins such glowing praise from American officials. Even more perplexing, perhaps, have been the fawning obituaries in the mainstream press which have faithfully echoed this characterization of Abdullah as a benign and well-intentioned man of peace.

      Tiptoeing around his brutal dictatorship, The Washington Post characterized Abdullah as a “wily king” while The New York Times inexplicably referred to him as “a force of moderation”, while also suggesting that evidence of his moderation included having had: “hundreds of militants arrested and some beheaded”. (emphasis added)

      While granting that Abdullah might be considered a relative moderate within the brazenly anachronistic House of Saud, the fact remains that he presided for two decades over a regime which engaged in wanton human rights abuses, instrumentalized religious chauvinism, and played a hugely counterrevolutionary role in regional politics.

      Above all, he was not a leader who shied away from both calling for and engineering more conflict in the Middle East.

    • The best story about the Queen and King Abdullah you will read today

      King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia died yesterday aged 90, and there has been some controversy over the tributes paid by world leaders to the ruler of a repressive regime that carries out public beheadings and bans women from driving.

      [...]

      You are not supposed to repeat what the Queen says in private conversation. But the story she told me on that occasion was one that I was also to hear later from its subject – Crown Prince Abdullah of Saudi Arabia – and it is too funny not to repeat. Five years earlier, in September 1998, Abdullah had been invited up to Balmoral, for lunch with the Queen. Following his brother King Fahd’s stroke in 1995, Abdullah was already the de facto ruler of Saudi Arabia. After lunch, the Queen had asked her royal guest whether he would like a tour of the estate. Prompted by his Foreign Minister, the urbane Prince Saud, an initially hesitant Abdullah agreed. The royal Land Rovers were drawn up in front of the castle. As instructed, the Crown Prince climbed into the front seat of the front Land Rover, with his interpreter in the seat behind. To his surprise, the Queen climbed into the driving seat, turned the ignition and drove off. Women are not – yet – allowed to drive in Saudi Arabia, and Abdullah was not used to being driven by a woman, let alone a queen. His nervousness only increased as the Queen, an Army driver in wartime, accelerated the Land Rover along the narrow Scottish estate roads, talking all the time. Through his interpreter, the Crown Prince implored the Queen to slow down and concentrate on the road ahead.

    • Emails show FBI investigating Sen. Bob Menendez for sleeping with underage Dominican prostitutes

      Documents published online for the first time Thursday indicate that the FBI opened an inquiry into New Jersey Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez on August 1, 2012, focusing on repeated trips he took to the Dominican Republic with longtime campaign contributor and Miami eye doctor Salomon Melgen. TheDC reported in November that Menendez purchased the service of prostitutes in that Caribbean nation at a series of alcohol-fueled sex parties.

    • Saudi Arabia: Activist Raif Badawi ‘may not serve whole 10-year prison sentence’

      Saudi Arabian activist blogger Raif Badawi, sentenced to 1,000 lashes and 10 years in prison for advocating free speech, may not have to serve the full decade in prison.

      Badawi family’s spokesperson, Dr Elham Manea, who is also an associate professor specialising in the Middle East at University of Zurich, said on Facebook that the news was delivered by a Saudi ambassador in Germany.

      She wrote: “Saudi ambassador in Germany informed NDR-TV that flogging will not continue and ‪#‎RaifBadawi‬ maybe not have to serve the whole time in prison.”

    • Barrett Brown Sentenced to 5 Years in Prison After Reporting on Hacked Private Intelligence Firms

      A journalist and activist accused of working with Anonymous has been given a five-year prison term and ordered to pay nearly $900,000 in restitution and fines. Barrett Brown was sentenced on Thursday after pleading guilty last year to charges of transmitting threats, accessory to a cyber-attack, and obstruction of justice. Supporters say Brown has been unfairly targeted for investigating the highly secretive world of private intelligence and military contractors. After his sentencing on Thursday, Brown released a satirical statement that read in part: “Good news! — The U.S. government decided today that because I did such a good job investigating the cyber-industrial complex, they’re now going to send me to investigate the prison-industrial complex.” We discuss Brown’s case with Kevin Gallagher, a writer, activist and systems administrator who heads the Free Barrett Brown support network. He says that the public should not believe what the government says about Brown.

    • Families of disabled men slam Legoland in the Trafford Centre for decision to ‘ban’ adults without children

      Campaigners blast policy as ‘discrimination’ but attraction cites ‘child protection’ rules after turning away adults and their carers

    • In Victory for Gov’t Whistleblowers, Supreme Court Sides with Fired TSA Air Marshal Who Spoke Out

      A major U.S. Supreme Court decision has upheld the right of federal employees to become whistleblowers. The case centers on former Transportation Security Administration Federal Air Marshal Robert MacLean. In July 2003, MacLean revealed to an MSNBC reporter that the Department of Homeland Security had decided to stop assigning air marshals to certain long-distance flights in order to save money, despite warnings of a potential plot to hijack U.S. airplanes. MSNBC’s report on the story sparked outcry, and the policy was quickly reversed. MacLean was fired three years later after admitting to being the story’s source. He filed a lawsuit over his dismissal, sparking a multi-year legal battle that ended earlier this week when the Supreme Court ruled on his behalf in a 7-to-2 decision. At issue was whether MacLean’s actions could be protected by the U.S. Whistleblower Protection Act, a law that protects employees if a disclosure exposes unlawful conduct, gross mismanagement or threats to public safety. We speak to Robert MacLean and attorney Neal Katyal, who argued MacLean’s case before the Supreme Court. Katyal is the former acting solicitor general of the United States.

    • Lagarde calls King Abdullah ‘advocate of women’ – despite ban on driving

      Christine Lagarde, the head of the International Monetary Fund, has praised King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia as a “strong advocate of women”, but human rights campaigners said his reign only brought marginal advances for women, while failing to secure fundamental rights of free expression, association, and assembly.

      In paying tribute to the king who died on Thursday aged 90, Lagarde – who has expressed her concerns over gender inequality – described the monarch as a great leader who implemented many reforms.

      “In a very discreet way, he was a strong advocate of women. It was very gradual, appropriately so probably for the country. I discussed that issue with him several times and he was a strong believer,” said Lagarde, who is attending the Davos economic forum in Switzerland.

    • Louise Mensch Just Told David Cameron And The Queen To ‘F**k Off’ Over Saudi King Abdullah

      Former Conservative MP Louise Mensch has unleashed an extraordinary tirade on Twitter, instructing both David Cameron and the Queen to “fuck off”.

      Mensch became enraged after the British Government declared all UK flags be flown at half mast to mourn the death of King Abdullah on Thursday.

      She began by criticising US President Barack Obama for paying tribute to the late royal, whom Mensch said “whipped women for driving & is currently starving his daughters.”

  • Internet/Net Neutrality

    • Apple must make BlackBerry apps under net neutrality laws, claims BlackBerry CEO

      The chief executive of BlackBerry has claimed that Apple should be forced to make apps for BlackBerry users under net neutrality laws currently being debated in the US.

    • The Cobweb

      Two weeks before the crash, Anatol Shmelev, the curator of the Russia and Eurasia collection at the Hoover Institution, at Stanford, had submitted to the Internet Archive, a nonprofit library in California, a list of Ukrainian and Russian Web sites and blogs that ought to be recorded as part of the archive’s Ukraine Conflict collection. Shmelev is one of about a thousand librarians and archivists around the world who identify possible acquisitions for the Internet Archive’s subject collections, which are stored in its Wayback Machine, in San Francisco. Strelkov’s VKontakte page was on Shmelev’s list. “Strelkov is the field commander in Slaviansk and one of the most important figures in the conflict,” Shmelev had written in an e-mail to the Internet Archive on July 1st, and his page “deserves to be recorded twice a day.”

    • Blogger who uncovered GOP leader’s white supremacist ties had home Internet lines cut

      Earlier this month, Lamar White, Jr. woke up to discover his Internet connection wasn’t working. He had just gotten a new cable box installed at his Dallas, Texas, home and figured his lines should still be in ship shape because it hadn’t been long since they were last checked.

      Rather than just assume he had crappy Internet service, like you or I might, he thought his home computer system was on the receiving end of a denial of service attack. White, you see, is something of a major figure in the political media. And there are a good many people who may want revenge for the things he’s dug up.

    • Media Shouldn’t Be Fooled By Fake Neutrality Bill Backed By Broadband Industry

      What The Media Should Know About The GOP Bill That Is Net Neutrality In Name Only

    • Net Neutrality: the Member States and Commission about to turn their back on the Parliament’s Vote!

      On January 20th, La Quadrature du Net along with other European organisations co-signed an open letter [pdf] calling once more the EU’s Member States to adopt clear and strict rules to protect Net Neutrality. However, a negociation document shows that at the same moment, Member States were one towards the end of a free Internet. It is time for the European Parliament to get back to work on this issue and defend a real protection of Net Neutrality, against oligopolistic strategies of the large Internet actors backed by governments.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Copyrights

      • Torrent Site Blockades Are Disproportional, Greek Court Rules

        A Greek anti-piracy group has lost its bid to have various torrent sites blocked by local Internet providers. The Athens Court ruled that barring access to torrent sites such as KickassTorrents and The Pirate Bay is disproportionate and unconstitutional, while hindering the ISPs’ entrepreneurial freedoms.

      • Bomber Tries Copyright Troll Argument to Unmask Critic

        A man jailed for 50 years in the United States for multiple bombings, drug smuggling and felony perjury, is attempting to leverage copyright troll cases to his advantage. Brett Kimberlin says that since a court has already revealed the identities of BitTorrent users, it should also unmask his critics.

      • Transparency is Necessary to Ensure the Copyright Industry Won’t Sneak Policies Through the Back Door

        Policy makers intending to promote creativity have always overemphasized the importance of “copyright protection” without addressing the wide range of other concerns that are necessary to consider when making comprehensive innovation policy. In an era where everyone, with the use of their computer or mobile device, can easily be a consumer, creator, and a critic of art, we can not afford to ignore this digital ecosystem of artistry and innovation. Yet copyright remains completely out of touch with the reality of most creators today, while the rules that do pass seem to stray even further from addressing their needs.

01.22.15

Links 23/1/2015: Plasma 5.2, Manjaro 0.9-pre1

Posted in News Roundup at 10:05 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • The most obvious user for Linux isn’t who you think

    And then it dawned on me … just who the ideal candidate for Linux should be. It’s not the developer (though they probably get more benefit out of the platform than any user type), it’s not the gamer, it’s not the geek, and it’s not the administrator. The ideal candidate is the average user.

  • Designing with Linux

    3-D printers are becoming popular tools, dropping in price and becoming available to almost everyone. They can be used to build parts that you can use around the house, but more and more, they also are being used to create instruments for scientific work. Although a growing library of objects are available in several on-line databases, there is nearly an infinite number of possible things you might want to build. This means you likely will want to design and build your own creations.

  • Desktop

    • Librem 15, the first free software GNU/Linux laptop, makes funding goal

      Purism, the company behind the Librem 15, promises that it will ship an Intel CPU fused to run unsigned BIOS code. The hope is that this will allow a future where free software can replace the proprietary, digitally signed, BIOS binaries.

    • Acer Designs Chromebooks for Students’ Rough Handling

      Acer on Wednesday announced two new ruggedized Chromebooks geared for classroom use. Both will go on sale in February.

      The Acer Chromebook C910 and C740 have a durable design built around reinforced covers and hinges. The new models support multiple user sign-ons and offline file access.

  • Kernel Space

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

      • Plasma 5.2 – The Quintissential Breakdown

        KDE is one of the oldest open-source desktop projects which can be found today, and over the years it has established a rich history of highs and lows. During some points it has been the undisputed ruler of the desktop world, while other times it had fallen behind or faced hard trials.

        A memory everything but forgotten, just over 6 years ago KDE tore itself apart in spectacular fashion to assemble itself anew. Brave users who wandered through the rubble and wreckage saw developers rebuild the KDE before their eyes, witnessing the birth of ‘Plasma Desktop’ and it’s sister project ‘KDE Development Platform’. It was universally understood that this twisted gnarled creature of a computing experience was both hideous yet full of potential, and over 5 years of refining Plasma it had struggled, crawled, hobbled, walked, run, and eventually mature into a fine desktop.

      • KDEGames kf5

        My objective was to release some games for the ’15.04′.

      • GSoC student digikam sprint experience
      • Season of KDE 2014 Post #2: Nearing Completion
    • GNOME Desktop/GTK

      • GNOME Makes Progress On Sandboxed Applications

        GNOME has quietly been working on sandboxed applications support and for GNOME 3.16 they hope to ship an initial reference runtime implementation of their new technology.

        Matthias Clasen wrote a lengthy blog post tonight detailing the sandboxed applications for GNOME. The goal of sandboxed applications is to make it easy for third-parties to distribute applications that work on multiple distributions, give the applications as little access as possible to the host system, and to also make it easier to write applications.

      • GNOME 3.15.4

        GNOME 3.15.4 is out. This is a development snapshot, so use it with caution.

      • Cinnamon 2.6 Will Be Systemd-Compatible

        Not long ago, the Linux Mint team has decided to change their release policy and adopt only the LTS versions of Ubuntu, the systems released between to LTSs being only point releases that update the main components. Also, they have moved Linux Mint Debian Edition’s (LMDE) code base from Debian Testing to Debian Stable.

  • Distributions

    • A Look at Pentoo Linux and Its Security Analysis Tools

      There is no shortage of security-focused Linux distributions on the market, and among them is Pentoo Linux. While some security-focused Linux distributions concentrate on privacy, like Tails, others like Kali Linux and Pentoo focus on security research, providing tools that enable research and penetration testing. Pentoo Linux differentiates itself from other security Linux distributions in a number of ways. The primary difference is the fact that Pentoo is based on Gentoo Linux, which is a source-based Linux distribution that uses the Portage package-management system. Gentoo has capabilities known as “Hardened Gentoo,” which Pentoo also inherits, providing users with additional security configuration and control for the Linux distribution itself. Pentoo 2015 RC 3.7 was released Jan. 5, providing updated tools and features. Among the new features is the integrated ability to verify that the distribution files have not been corrupted. Pentoo provides many applications for security analysis, including wireless, database, exploit, cracking and forensic tools. In this slide show, eWEEK looks at key features and tools in the Pentoo 2015 RC3.7 release.

    • New Releases

    • Red Hat Family

      • Red Hat: Security Makes Paying for Open Source Software Worth It

        Open source software vendors do something akin to selling air: They get people to pay for something that easily, and perfectly legally, can be had for free. But added security is becoming an increasingly important part of the value proposition, as Red Hat (RHT), maker of one of the leading Linux enterprise distributions, emphasized this week in a statement on its software subscriptions.

      • Red Hat Is Hiring More Developers To Work On Wayland, Open-Source Graphics

        Red Hat is hiring more developers that will focus on Fedora, especially the Fedora Workstation product, that in turn will flow back into RHEL and Red Hat Enterprise Linux Workstation. Among the type of work that Red Hat is looking for in the candidates include experience with Wayland, LLVMpipe, X.Org, compiler optimizations, graphics driver enablement, etc.

      • Why A Maturing OpenStack Platform Will Lift Red Hat

        OpenStack is an open-source IaaS cloud platform that was developed through the collaborative efforts of Rackspace Hosting (NYSE:RAX) and NASA with the objective of countering the dominance of Amazon.com’s (NASDAQ:AMZN) AWS. The platform has AWS-like features including EC2 and S3 compatibility that allows businesses to build their own Amazon-like cloud services in their datacenters.

      • Fedora

        • More Changes Are In The Works For Fedora 22

          Ahead of evaluation by the Fedora Engineering and Steering Committee (FESCo), more of the planned changes for Fedora 22 are being discussed on the Fedora developers’ list. Here’s some more of the likely Fedora 22 changes that haven’t been covered by our earlier articles on F22 feature work.

    • Debian Family

  • Devices/Embedded

    • Phones

      • Tizen

        • Samsung Z1 SM-Z130HWRD Listed in Samsung India estore

          The Samsung Z1 is the first Tizen based Smartphone to be launched and we are hoping it is the first of many Tizen Smartphones to come. The Z1 has now made its way to the Samsung eStore in India and can be yours for the price of 5,700 INR, which is a very competitive price for such tech.

        • Tizen OS 2.3 Samsung Z1 Review

          This is an Interesting little video that I found on the net. Created by YouTube user TheGarchaHD, it walks you through the User Interface of the Tizen based Samsung Z1 and shows you some of the features of the Tizen 2.3 Operating System.

        • WhatsApp now has a Chrome web client

          Messaging apps these days don’t have to just live in your smartphone or your tablet, they need to be with you wherever you are, and that might be sitting with you at your computer. Messaging apps like facebook, WeChat and Line already have this option and it seems to be the best you really do need to include the PC in your platform choices.

      • Android

Free Software/Open Source

  • Newsrooms see the light of open source

    Have you heard the one about the big media house whose new, proprietary content management system (CMS) handles its every need, worked straight out of the box and with which all the journalists are in love? No?

  • Web Browsers

    • Chrome

      • Google Pays Big Bug Bounties in Chrome 40 Fix

        Google is out with its first stable Chrome browser update of 2015, with security vulnerabilities fixes topping the list of improvements in the new release. In total, Google is patching 62 different security flaws in the update.

        In contrast, Microsoft has yet to provide a single security patch for its Internet Explorer browser in 2015, while Mozilla’s Firefox 35 had nine security advisories attached to it.

      • Chrome 41 Beta: New ES6 Features and Improved DevTools for Service Workers and Web Animations

        Today’s Chrome Beta channel release includes new Javascript ES6 features and improved workflows for debugging Service Workers and Web Animations. Unless otherwise noted, changes described below apply to Chrome for Android, Windows, Mac, Linux, and Chrome OS.

  • SaaS/Big Data

    • Has IBM made (hard) Hadoop easier?

      IBM pays analyst firm Evans Data Corporation for what are widely regarded as worthy reports — in this role, Evans has cited IBM as an “industry leader” for making Hadoop more accessible, scalable and reliable for developers in a new analyst survey.

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC

  • Public Services/Government

    • Danish open source early warning system for schools

      A system for smartphones, tablet computers and PCs that can warn students, teachers and school personnel of emergencies is to be developed for the Norwegian Akerhus county. The solution will be built by the Danish ICT service specialist Magenta, using open source components.

  • Openness/Sharing

    • Mirantis Broadens OpenStack Training, Certification

      Mirantis, focused on the OpenStack cloud computing platform, has expanded its ambitious Mirantis Training for OpenStack course collection with two new courses and a Certificate Verification portal. Mirantis’ training platform has been running since 2011, and is differentiated from some other training platforms in that the coursework is OpenStack distribution-agnostic. According to Mirantis, Eighty eight percent of students rate it as better than other professional industry training offerings due to the quality of its instructors, its hands-on format, and its curriculum that is removed of vendor bias.

Leftovers

  • Science

    • Moscow to Beijing in 2 days: China to build $242bn high-speed railway

      The railway will be 7,000 kilometers long and go through Kazakhstan, reports Bloomberg citing Beijing’s city government on the social networking site Weibo, China’s alternative to Twitter. The railway will make travel easier between Europe and Asia, the statement said.

  • Security

    • Our South Korean Allies Also Hack the U.S.—and We Don’t Seem to Care

      South Korea’s online espionage program may be primarily focused on the North, but it’s also targeting the United States—and the U.S. government isn’t making a stink about it.

    • Thursday’s security advisories
    • Just WHY is the FBI so sure North Korea hacked Sony? NSA: *BLUSH*

      The NSA wasn’t much interested in North Korea at the time but that changed – partly because the spy agency managed to get its hands on useful zero-day exploits used against the Norks, according to recently disclosed files. NBC News adds that US intel agencies had no forewarning of the Sony hack. After Sony reported the breach to the FBI’s cyber unit on 24 November, it became possible to trace back the attack.

      So even after comprehensively bugging North Korea’s ‘net connection, the best the spy agency had was the equivalent of a CCTV camera rather than a burglar alarm capable of detecting a crime in progress.

    • Doubts Persist Over North Korean Link to Sony Hack Despite NSA Claim

      “The pieces don’t add up,” said Tal Klein, vice president of strategy for Internet-security firm Adallom. “I cannot dispute the fact that the NSA hacked the North Koreans, because that is the ultimate trump card—there’s empirical evidence that I will never be able to see. But the attack does not fit the mold of a nation-state attack, but of a revenge-oriented attack.” – See more at: http://www.eweek.com/security/doubts-persist-over-north-korean-link-to-sony-hack-despite-nsa-claim.html#sthash.8k1lwUtf.dpuf

    • Steptoe cyberlaw podcast – interview with David Sanger

      Our guest for Episode 50 of the Steptoe Cyberlaw Podcast is David Sanger, the New York Times reporter who broke the detailed story of Stuxnet in his book, Confront and Conceal: Obama’s Secret Wars and Surprising Use of American Power. David talks about his latest story, recounting how North Korea developed its cyberattack network, and how the National Security Agency managed to compromise the network sufficiently to attribute the Sony attack. We talk about how understanding the White House helped him break a story that seemed to be about NSA and the FBI, North Korean hackers’ resemblance to East German Olympic swimmers, and the future of cyberwar.

  • Defence/Police/Secrecy/Aggression

    • US Trainers To Deploy To Ukraine

      American soldiers will deploy to Ukraine this spring to begin training four companies of the Ukrainian National Guard, the head of US Army Europe Lt. Gen Ben Hodges said during his first visit to Kiev on Wednesday.

    • Video: Hillary Does a Putin Impression

      Did you hear the one about Hillary doing an impression of Vladimir Putin in Canada? Because it actually happened, Jackie Kucinich reports. During a wide ranging policy speech to the Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce, Hillary answered a question about the American electoral system with an impression. The moderator began asking her “if for some reason you decided to be president” and then quickly corrected himself, “actually run for that because there is a process.”

      “There is a process, it’s not like Putin,” she said.

      Cue the laugh track.

    • The Threat of an Imploding Yemen

      It has taken decades of deteriorating politics and security for Yemen to reach its current level of crisis, though now the costs might come not just in the form of the suffering of the Yemeni people but also in regional instability and the proliferation of international terrorism. While the causes of Yemen’s crisis are intensely local—having to do with longstanding issues of corruption, tribal and North-South differences, and a constitution in need of amending—it is being amplified both by meddling regional actors and a menacing terrorist group with international reach.

    • Hezbollah, Iran threats to avenge ‘Israeli strike’ have Lebanon on edge

      The tensions in the North that have been heightened following this week’s alleged Israeli airstrike that killed senior Hezbollah officials in the Golan Heights are also being felt in Lebanon, where apprehension is growing over the specter of another cross-border war.

    • Obama’s State of the Union sidesteps mounting foreign policy setbacks

      Since Barack Obama’s previous State of the Union address, the US president has relaunched the Iraq war – this time with a Syrian appendix – ensured the presence of US troops in Afghanistan through 2024 and continued drone strikes in Yemen and Pakistan. Yet if Obama’s 2015 State of the Union is to be believed, “tonight, we turn the page”.

      On foreign policy and national security, Obama cannot be blamed for wanting the page turned. Unlike in his previous States of the Union, there is no dead Osama bin Laden or Muammar Gaddafi to tout. His strongest foreign achievement in 2014 – an admittedly historic one – has been to normalize relations with Cuba, though, as with all things Obama does, congressional Republicans vow opposition.

    • Dirty Harry Goes To Iraq

      A similar observation might be made of Clint Eastwood’s American Sniper about Iraq. Like the Iraq War itself, Eastwood’s movie begins by exploiting a historically inaccurate delusion and, then, sustains itself for two hours on the mission to protect US soldiers against the insurgency that arose in opposition to the US invasion and occupation based on the initial delusion.

    • Flogging of Saudi blogger delayed again on medical grounds

      The planned flogging of a Saudi blogger convicted of insulting Islam has been delayed for a second straight week, a leading international rights group said Thursday, a move that comes amid mounting pressure from Saudi Arabia’s Western allies for authorities to cancel the punishment.

      The London-based Amnesty International said that around eight doctors carried out medical tests on Raif Badawi, 31, and recommended that he not be flogged this Friday. Saudi authorities postponed his flogging last week after a doctor concluded that his wounds from the first 50 lashes had not yet healed, according to Amnesty.

    • Saudi King Abdullah dies aged 91

      The announcement, made early on Friday, said his brother, Salman, had become king.

    • The drone operator who said ‘No’

      He was told that he helped to kill more than 1,600 people, but as time went by he felt uneasy with what he was doing. He found it hard to sleep and started dreaming in infra-red.

    • Drone attacks have become a hallmark of Barack Obama’s presidency, and the talk of ‘precision’ is deeply problematic

      In May 2009, a former adviser to General David Petraeus named David Kilcullen wrote an op-ed in the New York Times calling for a moratorium on drone strikes carried out by the United States against al-Qaida and its associates in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen. The military advantages of using drones (the US Army defines a drone as a “land, sea or air vehicle that is remotely or automatically controlled”) are outweighed, Kilcullen argued, by their costs.

    • GUEST OPINION: Shining light on U.S. drone policy

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

    • Federal Prison Sentence Begins for Anti-Drone Activist

      On January 23, Kathy Kelly, co-coordinator of Voices for Creative Nonviolence, a campaign to end U.S. military and economic warfare, will begin a three-month jail sentence in federal prison for a protest against drones (also known as “unmanned aerial vehicles”) at Whiteman Air Force Base in Missouri. I had a chance to interview her before she had to turn herself in.

    • ‘We didn’t even really know who we were firing at’ – former US drone operator

      Former US drone sensor operator Brandon Bryant admits he “couldn’t stand” himself for his participation in the country’s drone program for six years – firing on targets whose identities often went unconfirmed.

    • The 2014 Drone Wars Death From the Sky

      In closing, here is a quote from the ACLU regarding the use of drones:

      “The executive branch has, in effect, claimed the unchecked authority to put the names of citizens and others on “kill lists” on the basis of a secret determination, based on secret evidence, that a person meets a secret definition of the enemy. The targeted killing program operates with virtually no oversight outside the executive branch, and essential details about the program remain secret, including what criteria are used to put people on CIA and military kill lists or how much evidence is required.

    • Mystery motive for Qunaitra drone strike

      While Lebanon and Israel await Hezbollah’s response to Sunday’s deadly Israeli drone strike in the Golan Heights, the motive for the provocative attack, which could yet trigger further violence, remains shrouded in confusion.

      The continued silence from the Israeli government and military over the airstrike combined with some ambiguous comments in the media from Israeli security sources have only added to the puzzlement and drawn criticism in Israel.

    • Despite ambiguity, Netanyahu must answer for Syria attack

      The Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee devoted itself to an important issue on Tuesday: the Israel Defense Forces’ decision to stop stationing soldiers in communities near the Gaza Strip. But if these Knesset members aren’t too busy with the election campaign, perhaps they should also make some time in the near future to discuss what is beginning to look like a major security crisis: the open threats by Iran and Hezbollah to take revenge for Sunday’s assassination of senior officials from both Hezbollah and the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, which they attribute to Israel.

    • Obama’s YouTube Interview Highlights: From Cyberbullying to SportsCenter

      The president said it was important to have legal constraints on the controversial drone program but that the program was aimed at minimizing casualties. “Under that our goal has always been: how do we target very specific terrorists who are proven to be trying to kill us — or more frequently kill innocent Muslims in their home countries,” he said.

    • Drone Warfare

      Yet there is something about drone warfare that is profoundly disturbing. How do our military and intelligence officials know if someone is a potential terrorist? Do we know the criteria by which a person or persons are targeted? Is it someone who is poised to kill, or is it someone who once killed? Is it prevention or revenge?

    • America’s Counterterrorism Policy Is Failing

      Our tactics produce more dangerous, more committed extremists

    • Don’t believe the U.S. military when it says it doesn’t keep body counts

      Since the Vietnam War, with its gruesome and inflated U.S. tallies of enemy dead, the Pentagon has denied keeping body counts. But, in fact, the military does add up the number of enemy fighters it believes it has killed — and proudly boasts of the totals in official documents that it never intends for public circulation.

    • American Sniper mirrors the war on terror propaganda

      American Sniper retells the story about four Iraq combat tours of the most lethal sniper in US military history, Chris Kyle. Despite having been nominated for six Academy Awards, including Best Picture, the Clint Eastwood directed film was better than I expected, and I still hated it.

      With a record breaking $105 million in box office earnings in its opening weekend, the film has arguably generated more controversy in the US than any movie I can recall.

      Much of the controversy has centred on the portrayal of the late Chris Kyle himself. Veterans who served with Kyle have praised the accuracy of actor Bradley Cooper’s impersonation, but a number of liberal journalists have lambasted the film for not staying true to Kyle’s autobiography. In fact, the film came close to portraying Kyle as a reluctant warrior. You know, the whole “I’m just doing my job” routine. In the book and in Kyle’s own words, however, killing 160 Iraqis, who were mostly the “civilian by day, soldiers by night” type, was something Kyle actually took great satisfaction from.

      “I don’t shoot people with Qurans. I’d like to but I don’t,” Kyle told a military investigator after being accused of killing an unarmed Iraqi civilian. In other parts of his book, Kyle writes: “I couldn’t give a fuck about the Iraqis” and “I hate the damn savages.”

    • American Justice?
    • Nick Turse, A Shadow War in 150 Countries

      From the point of view of the U.S. military and the national security state, the period from September 12, 2001, to late last night could be summed up in a single word: more. What Washington funded with your tax dollars was a bacchanalia of expansion intended, as is endlessly reiterated, to keep America “safe.” But here’s the odd thing: as the structure of what’s always called “security” is built out ever further into our world and our lives, that world only seems to become less secure. Odder yet, that “more” is rarely a focus of media coverage, though its reality is glaringly obvious. The details may get coverage but the larger reality — the thing being created in Washington — seems of remarkably little interest.

      That’s why websites like TomDispatch matter. They offer the larger picture of a world that’s being built right before our eyes but is somehow seldom actually seen — that is, taken in meaningfully. America’s Special Operations forces are a striking example of this phenomenon. The commando is, by now, a national culture hero, the guy who stands between Hell and us. But what special ops forces really do all — and I mean all — over the planet, doesn’t seem of any particular interest to Americans in general or the mainstream media in particular. The way those “elite” forces have parlayed their popularity into a staggering growth rate and just what that growth and the actions that go with it actually mean in terms of, say, blowback… well, that’s something you’re simply not going to read much about, other than at a website like this one.

    • As Fox News Apologizes, Jeremy Scahill on Fake “Terror Experts” & Challenges of Real War Reporting

      Fox News has apologized for broadcasting false information about Muslims in the wake of the Paris attacks. Last weekend, self-described terrorism expert Steve Emerson claimed on air that parts of Europe, including the entire English city of Birmingham, were totally Muslim areas where non-Muslims do not go. Emerson was forced to apologize, but the claim about so-called “no-go zones” was repeated by other Fox guests and anchors. On Saturday, according to a CNN Money tally, Fox News took time out of four broadcasts to apologize for reports on Muslims. Jeremy Scahill, co-founder of The Intercept, discusses the rise of so-called “terrorism experts” by Fox News and other major cable networks. In two recent interviews with CNN, Scahill has criticized the news giant and others for their use of “on-air analysts who also work in the private sector and make money on the idea that we should be afraid.” He also responds to blistering criticism from FBI chief James Comey of using an anonymous al-Qaeda source in reporting on the Charlie Hebdo massacre, and analyzes what al-Qaeda’s claim of responsibility will mean for the U.S. drone war in Yemen.

    • Who speaks for an anti-war position?

      War, then, is to be sustained and expanded. Put simply, Western governments with large-scale militaries and jihadist organizations with violence central to their strategies are engaged in an asymmetric exchange of violence, wherein killing of both combatants and civilians is routine. Drone strikes and bombing raids over Iraq and Syria generate reciprocal responses from al-Qaeda and groups now associated with ISIS in the form of beheadings, kidnappings and killing of civilians through various means.

      It is an “a-symmetric” conflict because Western states’ strikes are far more lethal than those of jihadi organizations and ISIS. For every innocent civilian murdered by ISIS, U.S. drones and air strikes — and now French bombing raids — kill many, consequently rallying new recruits against the United States and France with each raid.

      [...]

      Who among our congressional leaders speaks for an anti-war position? Will we see an anti-war presidential candidate in 2016? It seems unlikely.

    • UK to launch enhanced “anti-terror measures” and domestic use of troops

      The former head of Britain’s intelligence agency MI5, Lord Evans, has added his voice to demands for a clampdown on the Internet and e-communications in the wake of the terror assaults on the Charlie Hebdo office in Paris and a Jewish supermarket, in which 17 people were killed.

    • Charlie Hebdo: A Missed Bottom-Up, Kumbaya, Opportunity?

      We have allowed fear and hate to foster the rise of paranoiacs, demagogues, opportunists and fools, driving our attention and resources away from immediate, dire situations: climate change, globalism, economic inequality and the degradation of education and the national infrastructure.

    • Foreign Policy and the State of the Union: What to Expect, or Not

      White HouseWhite HouseWhat can we expect in President Obama’s State of the Union with regard to U.S. foreign policy in 2015? Not much. As in every every State of the Union since 2002, the president is expected to address foreign policy largely within the framework of the war on terror and counterterrorism operations. But the State of the Union is largely a vehicle for rhetoric, not honest explanations of policy. President Obama mentioned drones in a State of the Union for the first time last year, claiming his administration had “imposed prudent limits” on their use.

  • Finance

    • Ex-Swiss banker found guilty in WikiLeaks trial, avoids jail

      Tethong said she would appeal the ruling.

      During the trial, which began in December but was halted when Elmer collapsed outside the Zurich courtroom, Tethong argued that Elmer had not broken any Swiss laws because he had not obtained the information as an employee of a Swiss bank.

    • Inequality is at top of the agenda as global elites gather in Davos

      A new report from the anti-poverty group Oxfam has helped put inequality back near the top of the global agenda, just in time for the World Economic Forum’s annual gathering of global elites in Davos, Switzerland. In particular, one striking claim from the Oxfam report has generated headlines: By next year, the top 1% of the world’s population could own more wealth than the other 99%. The Oxfam report – just one of many attempts at measuring worldwide economic disparities – fits into a broader pattern of growing interest in, and concern about, inequality.

    • Braintree now lets all U.S. merchants accept Bitcoin

      Braintree first announced the v.zero SDK back in July last year. The SDK allowed automatic shopping cart integration with PayPal among other payment types. In September, Braintree revealed a partnership with Coinbase to accept Bitcoin, but this is the first implementation of their collaboration.

    • Oil jumps after Saudi king’s death amid huge market shifts

      Oil prices jumped in early Asian trading on Friday as news of the death of Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah added to uncertainty in energy markets already facing some of the biggest shifts in decades.

      Abdullah died early on Friday and his brother Salman became king, the royal court in the world’s top oil exporter and birthplace of Islam said in a statement carried by state television.

  • PR/AstroTurf/Lobbying

    • 5 Years After Citizens United, Newspapers Fail To Cover Its Impact On Judicial Elections

      Five years after the Supreme Court opened the floodgates of campaign spending with its Citizens United decision, top newspapers in the three states with the most expensive judicial campaigns, Ohio, Alabama, and Texas, have largely failed to connect Citizens United with major changes in these races. The influx of money into state judicial elections following the decision has accelerated negative advertisements and campaign financing that may influence judges’ decisions.

    • Progressive Policies Are Popular–So Why Should Democrats Be Afraid of Them?

      CNN’s post-speech discussion of Barack Obama’s State of the Union address included anchor Wolf Blitzer’s reaction to colleague Jake Tapper’s view that the president had outlined a liberal economic agenda. Blitzer’s analysis illustrates the logic behind corporate media’s longstanding efforts to dissuade politicians from advocating for progressive policies…

    • Poll Finds Agenda Gap Between Leaders, American People

      Republicans are trying to burnish their party’s image–and Congress’–by promising to “get things done” now that the GOP controls both the House and Senate. But a new Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll shows that the public doesn’t care much about some of the first things the GOP, or President Barack Obama, is trying to do.

    • Fox News Shows Ignore Scott Walker’s ACA Remarks After Months Of Gruber Coverage

      Despite dedicating numerous segments to comments made by MIT economist Jonathan Gruber about tax credits established under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) that appear to support a right-wing challenge to their legality, Fox News’ programming on weeknights has ignored remarks made by Gov. Scott Walker (R-WI) that undermine the legal theory behind this upcoming Supreme Court case.

  • Censorship

    • Charlie Hebdo, The Interview, and Censoring Torture Photos

      In France and the United States, there seems to be near-universal agreement that to self-censor because of threats of violence is unwise and cowardly. The slogan “Je Suis Charlie,” which millions adopted in the wake of the Paris attacks, meant different things to different people, but its core, defiant message was that terrorists shouldn’t get to decide the boundaries of our political debate.

      This was also the perspective of many Americans when, at the end of last year, a mysterious group said to be associated with North Korea threatened to wreak havoc if Sony didn’t cancel “The Interview,” a comedy about a plot to assassinate Kim Jong-un. Political leaders of both national parties criticized Sony for withdrawing the film. Some particularly outraged Americans urged their fellow citizens not just to watch the film but to pay for the privilege on the theory that their doing so would convey an appropriate message to the dictator. President Obama weighed in, too, saying, “we cannot have a society in which some dictator someplace can start imposing censorship here in the United States.”

  • Privacy

    • German TV documentary on the hunt for Edward Snowden

      The revelations of Edward Snowden have exposed to the world a massive breach of democratic rights by the US intelligence agencies and their allies. They have also unleashed protests and expressions of sympathy for Snowden’s efforts among broad social layers.

      [...]

      The documentary begins with a dramatic statement by US Senator Dianne Feinstein (Democrat, California). The Senate Intelligence Committee chairman declares: “I want him to be captured. The hunt is on!” The programme assumes the guise of a spy thriller. The measures taken by the US authorities to remove Snowden from circulation are extraordinary and menacing. This is not only the view of the documentary, but of the protagonists themselves: Edward Snowden, as well as Julian Assange and Sarah Harrison of WikiLeaks.

    • Banning encryption is digital equivalent of banning books

      The widespread dissemination of ideas can disrupt society and subvert the power of those at its top.

      Gutenberg’s printing press, for example, helped spur the Protestant Reformation that over time helped overturn the religious and political order of Europe.

      In an often-bloody process that took about 400 years, the authoritarian empires that ruled the continent gave way to modern, democratic nation-states.

      Books have been banned (and burned) precisely because new ideas are a threat to the people in charge.

    • Sam Adams Award

      I am in Berlin for the annual Sam Adams Award – this time to William Binney, formerly Technical Director of the NSA. There will be an address by Edward Snowden (and a short contribution from me). It really is a tremendous event, with some very senior former intelligence professionals making revelations about the extent to which the security state is out of control, a tool of immoral governments dominated by corporate interests.

    • Snowden Documents Show NSA Can’t Keep Its Eyes On Its Own Papers; Harvests Data From Other Surveillance Agencies

      Another pile of Snowden documents has been released by Der Spiegel, detailing more of previously revealed NSA/GCHQ activities — like the harvesting of exploits and hardware shipment “interdiction” — along with some new stuff, including the NSA’s piggybacking on other countries’ surveillance to further buttress its massive haystacks.

    • NSA: We’re in YOUR BOTNET

      The NSA quietly commandeered a botnet targeting US Defence agencies to attack other victims including Chinese and Vietnamese dissidents, Snowden documents reveal.

    • Chris Christie, Port Authority Official Abused E-ZPass Data For Their Own Ends

      What data is harmless in the hands of the government? Apparently, not much. Case in point: the data collected by E-ZPass transponders. While the system helps alleviate traffic congestion, it also tracks drivers’ movements. If you thought it just triggered toll payments, you’re drastically underestimating the government’s desire for data.

    • A Little Snooping Never Killed Nobody: South Korea Spying on the US

      Edward Snowden, the infamous former NSA employee, leaked a number of secret documents. Just recently Der Spiegel released another one, revealing that South Korea’s cyber espionage program has been targeting the US for a while now, despite officially being aimed against North Korea.

    • New Snowden documents show that the NSA and its allies are laughing at the rest of the world

      A team of nine journalists including Jacob Appelbaum and Laura Poitras have just published another massive collection of classified records obtained by Edward Snowden. The trove of documents, published on Der Spiegel, show that the National Security Agency and its allies are methodically preparing for future wars carried out over the internet. Der Spiegel reports that the intelligence agencies are working towards the ability to infiltrate and disable computer networks — potentially giving them the ability to disrupt critical utilities and other infrastructure. And the NSA and GCHQ think they’re so far ahead of everyone else, they’re laughing about it.

    • How The NSA Gets Around Oversight

      Whistle-blowers like Bill Binny, Thomas Drake, and Edward Snowden, along with wrongly accused U.S. citizens, have been fighting for their rights. Not from terrorists, but from the U.S. government.

      While they fight, many Americans have become complacent with their diminished rights and lack of privacy.

      The Patriot Act passed 6 weeks after 9/11 in a climate of fear and imminent threat. It diminished freedom in the U.S., providing the government sweeping powers to spy on, arrest, and detain individuals. The original legislation provided little oversight. Since 2001, there has been a major struggle between protecting constitutional rights and increasing government powers to battle imminent terror.

    • Obama promises to release new NSA spying report next month
    • Obama: I haven’t forgotten NSA reform
    • Guest column: The NSA is hurting more than helping
    • Kim Dotcom launches NSA-proof MEGAchat with E2EE to take on Skype
    • ‘Anti-NSA’ messaging service MegaChat debuts in beta version
    • America’s Surveillance State: Docu-series exposes NSA’s long reach
    • Four and Counting: States Consider Bills to Turn off Resources to NSA
    • Alaska Bill Would Ban Material Support or Resources to NSA

      A bill filed in Alaska late last week would ban “material support or resources” to the NSA. This would not only support efforts to turn off NSA’s water in Utah, but have practical effects on federal surveillance programs if passed.

      Alaska Sen. Bill Wielechowski prefiled SB13 on Jan. 16. The legislation would prohibit the state and its municipalities from using assets, including personnel, to assist a federal agency in collecting certain telephone records or electronic data without a warrant, making it the fourth state to introduce legislation similar to a bill up for consideration in Utah this year.

    • NSA Cyber War Will Use Internet of Things as Weapons Platform; Your Home is the Battlefield

      “World War III is a guerrilla information war with no division between military and civilian participation.” – Marshall McLuhan, Culture is Our Business, 1970

      New Snowden documents recently revealed that the NSA is getting ready for future digital wars as the agency postures itself in an aggressive manner towards the world. “The Five Eyes Alliance“, a cooperation between United States, Canada, Britain, Australia, and New Zealand, is working hard to develop these weapons of Cyber Warfare.

      So called “D” weapons, as reported by Der Spiegel, will paralyze computer networks and infrastructure that they monitor. Water supplies, factories, airports, as well as the flow of money are all potential targets.

    • The Latest Rules on How Long NSA Can Keep Americans’ Encrypted Data Look Too Familiar

      Does the National Security Agency (NSA) have the authority to collect and keep all encrypted Internet traffic for as long as is necessary to decrypt that traffic? That was a question first raised in June 2013, after the minimization procedures governing telephone and Internet records collected under Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act were disclosed by Edward Snowden. The issue quickly receded into the background, however, as the world struggled to keep up with the deluge of surveillance disclosures. The Intelligence Authorization Act of 2015, which passed Congress this last December, should bring the question back to the fore. It established retention guidelines for communications collected under Executive Order 12333 and included an exception that allows NSA to keep ‘incidentally’ collected encrypted communications for an indefinite period of time. This creates a massive loophole in the guidelines.

    • ‘Citizenfour’ Hinted to the 2nd NSA ‘Whistleblower’

      The new Documentary ‘Citizenfour’ revealed the existence of another ‘whistleblower,’ someone even higher ranking than Snowden who came forward.

    • Surveillance Is Just First Phase as NSA Plans ‘Guerilla’ Tactics for Global Cyberwar

      As the team of journalists reporting for Der Spiegel describe it, “the US government is currently undertaking a massive effort to digitally arm itself for network warfare.” And, they report, the NSA—along with its intelligence partners around the world—”have adopted ‘plausible deniability’ as their guiding principle for Internet operations.”

    • ‘Snooper’s charter’: four Lords in bid to pass changed version before election

      A cross-party alliance of former defence ministers, police chiefs and intelligence commissioners will try to force a revised “snooper’s charter” into law before the general election.

      The proposals to amend the counter-terrorism bill currently in the Lords and due for debate on Monday have been tabled by a group led by former Conservative defence secretary Lord King. The other supporters are the Liberal Democrat former reviewer of counter-terror laws, Lord Carlile, the former Labour defence minister, Lord West, and the former Metropolitan police commissioner, Lord Blair.

    • Dutch secret services work for America: Edward Snowden

      Dutch intelligence services AIVD and MIVD walk on the leash of USA’s National Security Agency (NSA) and are “extremely docile” and seen as “subordinates”, says former NSA and CIA employee Edward Snowden in an interview to Volkskrant and Nieuwsuur.

    • Dutch security services ‘work for the US’, says whistleblower Snowden

      The Dutch security services AIVD and MIVD do whatever the US security service NSA tells them, according to whistleblower Edward Snowden in an interview with the Volkskrant.

    • ‘Social media encourages people to live lives online and accept Big Brother’s all seeing-eye’

      RT: Are people taking their privacy more seriously after all the Snowden revelations? Or are they just making a joke of it?

      AM: Yes, one of the jokes, of course, is “GCHQ is always listening to its customers.” I think people are beginning to take their privacy more seriously. It depends on which country you live in though because depending on the media coverage and the degree of media coverage people are more or less aware of what’s going on.

      For example, in Germany there is a historic understanding of the importance of privacy as the last defense against sliding towards tyrannical government. And also people are very conscious still of more recent history, things like the Stasi secret police. So they take these issues very seriously and in fact there are a number of initiatives in Germany to up the protection of citizens’ rights.

      However in places like the UK for example where the media has been largely censored around reporting some of the very serious disclosures which Mr. Snowden produced, there is less awareness; there is more a sort of complacency that the spies are always the good guys, that … if you do nothing wrong you have nothing to hide. But I think even in the UK people are waking up to this, so all we can do is thank Edward Snowden for all he has done for raising awareness of these various issues around the world.

    • A Spy in the Machine

      How a brutal government used cutting-edge spyware to hijack one activist’s life

    • Snowden: French spying didn’t stop terror attacks

      Edward Snowden is pointing to the recent terror attacks in Paris as proof that government surveillance can’t stop terrorism.

      “The problem with mass surveillance is that you’re burying people under too much data,” the government leaker said in an interview with a Dutch public broadcaster.

      “We see that France passed one of the most intrusive, expansive surveillance laws in all of Europe last year, and it didn’t stop the attack,” he added. “This is consistent with what we’ve seen in every country.”

  • Civil Rights

    • Press release: Barrett Brown will finally be sentenced tomorrow

      Concluding a controversial case that has dragged on for over two years, on Thursday morning the jailed journalist Barrett Brown will go before a federal judge to receive his sentence. He faces up to 8.5 years in prison.

    • EFF Statement on Barrett Brown Sentencing

      The charges relating to the hyperlink represented a serious threat to press freedom. EFF and other press organizations planned to file an amicus brief supporting Brown’s motion to dismiss eleven of the hyperlinking charges, noting that journalists routinely link to documents that, while illegally obtained, are of interest to the public. Thankfully, the government came to its senses in March 2014 and (before we could file our brief), dismissed eleven of the charges based on hyperlinking. The next month, Brown signed a sealed plea agreement that significantly reduced the remaining charges. Ultimately, he pleaded guilty to three crimes: being an accessory after the fact to the unauthorized access to Stratfor’s computers; interfering with the execution of a search warrant by hiding a laptop; and, most seriously, threatening an FBI agent.

    • European Court fast-tracks decision on challenge to state surveillance of journalists

      A campaign to stop the UK Government spying on journalists and their sources has today been given “priority” by the European Court of Human Rights (pictured, Shutterstock).

      The Bureau of Investigative Journalism submitted a legal challenge to the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act prompted by Edward Snowden’s revelations over state mass electronic surveillance.

      It claims that the UK state is breaching European law by accessing the electronic communications and telecoms records of journalists.

      Today the Bureau learned that the ECHR has prioritised its legal challenge, meaning a judgment is expected with around a year rather than the usual four or five years.

    • Every UK national newspaper editor urges Prime Minister to stop RIPA spying on journalists

      Every national newspaper editor has backed the Press Gazette Save Our Sources campaign and signed a joint letter of protest to Prime Minister David Cameron over police spying on journalists’ phone records.

      Around 100 editors have signed a letter co-ordinated by Press Gazette and the Society of Editors to warn that the draft code of practice on use of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act puts journalists’ sources at risk.

      Politicians promised new controls in the code, but instead the new draft guidance states that police can continue to secretly view journalists’ phone records provided they give “special consideration” to the “proportionality” of doing so.

      The joint letter (full text below), submitted as part of the RIPA code consulation, states that the draft code “provides wholly inadequate protection for journalists’ sources”.

      And it warns that there is nothing in the new code to stop police again targeting the phone records of journalists in order to uncover lawful sources, as they did with The Sun.

      The draft code appears to encourage police to access journalists’ phone records by stating that they are not “privileged information”.

    • Israeli Government Watchdog Investigates Military’s Conduct in Gaza War

      Israel’s government watchdog, the state comptroller, said on Tuesday that he had opened an investigation into decisions made by military and political leaders during last summer’s 50-day war with the Hamas militant group in Gaza.

      The announcement was Israel’s latest effort to head off an International Criminal Court inquiry into its conduct during the war, and came days after prosecutors at the court opened a preliminary examination of possible war crimes committed in the Palestinian territories, the first formal step that could lead to charges against Israelis.

    • Your Home Is Your Prison

      On January 27th, domestic violence survivor Marissa Alexander will walk out of Florida’s Duval County jail — but she won’t be free.

      Alexander, whose case has gained some notoriety, endured three years of jail time and a year of house arrest while fighting off a prison sentence that would have seen her incarcerated for the rest of her life — all for firing a warning shot that injured no one to fend off her abusive husband. Like many black women before her, Alexander was framed as a perpetrator in a clear case of self-defense. In November, as her trial date drew close, Alexander accepted a plea deal that will likely give her credit for time served, requiring her to spend “just” 65 more days in jail. Media coverage of the development suggested that Alexander would soon have her “freedom,” that she would be “coming home.”

    • CIA leak trial enters final showdown

      But earlier Wednesday, the seventh day of the trial, defense attorneys poked holes in the government’s case. Hunt testified that around the time Risen began asking questions about the program in May 2003, she believed the most likely source for the leak was someone on the Senate Intelligence Committee. Sterling had talked to the panel’s staffers in March of that year about his concerns that Iran might be able to take advantage of flaws in the designs, in part because they were too obvious.

    • ISIS v. Saudi Arabia, Implementation of Sharia Law

      One is an enemy of America, a group of evil Sunni terrorists who ruthlessly employ their own twisted vision of Islamic Sharia Law to behead people, punish homosexuality and criminalize adultery.

      And the other’s one of America’s staunchest Sunni allies in the Middle East, on the road to democracy, albeit one that employs its own twisted vision of Islamic Sharia Law to behead people, punish homosexuality and criminalize adultery.

    • The CIA’s Most Important Overseer Is Abetting Its Torture Coverup

      Senator Richard Burr is acting like a man who doesn’t understand the role or duties that he now has. With the Republican Party assuming control of Congress, the North Carolinian is chairman of the Senate intelligence committee, the body charged with overseeing the CIA. His responsibilities are momentous. All senators are called to act as power-jealous checks on the executive branch. And the particular mission of the Senate intelligence committee, created in the wake of horrific CIA abuses, obligates Burr to “provide vigilant legislative oversight over the intelligence activities of the United States” and “to assure that such activities are in conformity with the Constitution and laws.”

    • ‘US govt trying to pursue those who show courage’ – Former CIA officer
    • ‘Politicians use the attacks in Paris for their own benefits’

      Edward Snowden blames politicians who ask for more powers for intelligence services after the Paris attacks of ‘seizing a catastrophe for their own benefits’. They need to remember recent history, he says, pointing to the Patriot Act as the American response after 9/11. ‘A quick law is never a good law’, Snowden says in an interview with Dutch daily newspaper De Volkskrant.

    • Thoughts – How is the NSA preparing the U.S. for a digital arms race and future battles?

      According to top secret documents from the archive of NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden seen exclusively by SPIEGEL, they are planning for wars of the future in which the Internet will play a critical role, with the aim of being able to use the net to paralyze computer networks and, by doing so, potentially all the infrastructure they control, including power and water supplies, factories, airports or the flow of money.

    • Government Tries to Convict Jeffrey Sterling for Retroactively Classified Documents about Rotary Phones

      A court officer handed out a packet of these same documents with bright red SECRET markings on the front to each juror (the government had tried to include such a warning on the binders of other exhibits, but the defense pointed out that nothing in them was actually classified at all). Judge Leonie Brinkema, apparently responding to the confused look on jurors’ faces, explained these were still-classified documents intended for their eyes only. “You’ll get the context,” Judge Brinkema added. “The content is not really anything you have to worry about.” The government then explained these documents were seized from Jeffrey Sterling’s house in Missouri in 2006. Then the court officer collected the documents back up again, having introduced the jurors to the exclusive world of CIA’s secrets for just a few moments.

    • CIA leak trial now in jury’s hands

      Prosecutors asked a federal jury Thursday to convict former CIA officer Jeffrey Sterling on leak charges to send a message that the spy agency’s secrets can be protected and that those who cooperate with the U.S. intelligence can be confident the government will do all it can to keep their identities under wraps.

      But in its closing statement, the defense argued that government lawyers were long on conjecture and short on proof — and a lawyer for Sterling presented an alternative theory of who leaked top-secret details of a CIA operation aimed at undermining Iran’s nuclear program.

    • Leak Trial Shows CIA Zeal to Hide Incompetence

      Six days of testimony at the trial of former CIA officer Jeffrey Sterling have proven the agency’s obsession with proclaiming its competence. Many of the two-dozen witnesses from the Central Intelligence Agency conveyed smoldering resentment that a whistleblower or journalist might depict the institution as a bungling outfit unworthy of its middle name.

    • ‘Guantánamo Diary,’ by Mohamedou Ould Slahi

      “Guantánamo Diary” is the most profound account yet written of what it is like to be that collateral damage. One fall day 13 years ago Mohamedou Ould Slahi, a 30-year-old electrical engineer and telecommunications specialist, received a visit at his house in Noakchott, Mauritania, from two officers summoning him to come answer questions at the country’s intelligence ministry. “Take your car,” one of the men told him, as Slahi stood in front of his house with his mother and his aunt. “We hope you can come back today.” Listening to these words, Slahi’s mother fixed her eyes on her son. “It is the taste of helplessness,” he writes, “when you see your beloved fading away like a dream and you cannot help him. . . . I would watch both my mom and my aunt praying in my rearview mirror until we took the first turn and I saw my beloved ones disappear.”

    • Family Seeks Release of a Guantánamo Detainee Turned Author

      On one of the roughest days in Mohamedou Ould Slahi’s 14 years of captivity at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, an American interrogator initially suggested that he pray out loud, then ridiculed him when he began reciting the Quran.

      Chained, barefoot and wearing only a thin uniform in an interrogation room chilled to 49 degrees, Mr. Slahi found himself on the receiving end of a barrage of questions. “Yes or no?” one interrogator shouted at him.

    • C.I.A. Report Found Value of Brutal Interrogation Was Inflated

      Years before the release in December of a Senate Intelligence Committee report detailing the C.I.A.’s use of torture and deceit in its detention program, an internal review by the agency found that the C.I.A. had repeatedly overstated the value of intelligence gained during the brutal interrogations of some of its detainees.

      The internal report, more than 1,000 pages in length, came to be known as the Panetta Review after Leon E. Panetta, who, as the C.I.A.’s director, ordered that it be done in 2009. At least one of its authors won an agency award for her work, according to a recent briefing that the agency’s inspector general gave to staff members of the Senate Intelligence Committee.

    • Cooperation between British spies and Gaddafi’s Libya revealed in official papers

      Britain’s intelligence agencies engaged in a series of previously-unknown joint operations with Colonel Muammar Gaddafi’s government, and used the information extracted from rendition victims as evidence during partially-secret court proceedings in London, according to an analysis of official documents recovered in Tripoli since the Libyan revolution.

      The exhaustive study of the papers from the Libyan government archives shows the links between MI5, MI6 and Gaddafi’s security agencies to have been far more extensive and than previously thought, and to have involved a number of joint operations in which Libyan dissidents were unlawfully detained and allegedly tortured.

    • NY Attorney General Proposes Not Terrible Cybersecurity Legislation

      Most legislation that includes the word “cyber” is nothing more than an excuse to give the government a larger piece of the action — generally by redefining the term “information sharing” to mean a one-way street of data collection running from private companies (and their customers) to various law enforcement and security agencies.

    • ‘US government was subverting entire US constitution’ – NSA whistleblower

      Award winning whistleblower William Binney says his new job is to make the US government honest, make them face the truth publically, and to prevent further violation of the rights which America has never intended to stand for.

      The Sam Adams Award for Integrity and Intelligence is to be given in Berlin this Thursday. This is an annual ceremony where intelligence professional are rewarded for their contribution in sharing light on governments’ wrongdoings. Such whistleblowers as Edward Snowden and Chelsea Manning have got this award in the past. This year the prize goes to William Binney, retired NSA technical director. He left his high profile job in order to try to bring the NSA to account.

    • Snowden files reveal how GCHQ spies tracked iPhone users

      Former NSA contracter-turned-whistleblower, Edward Snowden gave the documents to a team of nine journalists including Laura Poitras, who directed the documentary Citizenfour, and they were published by Der Spiegel.

    • Here’s Why Edward Snowden Refuses To Use An iPhone
    • NSA leaker Edward Snowden refuses to use Apple’s iPhone over spying concerns – report
    • Edward Snowden News: NSA Whistleblower Reportedly Believes the Apple iPhone Spies on Users
    • Playing NSA, hardware hackers build USB cable that can attack

      Just over a year ago, Jacob Appelbaum and Der Spiegel revealed pages from the National Security Agency’s ANT catalog, a sort of “wish book” for spies that listed technology that could be used to exploit the computer and network hardware of targets for espionage. One of those tools was a USB cable with embedded hardware called Cottonmouth-I—a cable that can turn the computer’s USB connections into a remote wiretap or even a remote control.

    • Journalist Barrett Brown sentenced to 63 months in federal prison, must pay $890K in restitution

      A court in Dallas has sentenced Barrett Brown to 63 months in federal prison, minus 28 months already served. For count one in the case, he receives 48 months. For count 2, he receives 12 months. And for count 3, he receives 3 months. He is also ordered to pay $890,000 in restitution.

      The government’s charges against the intelligence and security reporter stemmed from his relationship with sources close to the hacker group Anonymous, and the fact that Brown published a link to publicly-available copies of leaked Stratfor documents.

    • Here’s the speech Barrett Brown will deliver at his sentencing

      His original indictment carried a maximum sentence of 105 years. But as per the terms of a 2014 plea deal, the journalist and firebrand now faces a maximum sentence of eight and half years in prison.

    • The Sterling Closing Arguments: Who Is the Hero, Who Is the Storyteller?

      “Jeffrey Sterling was the hero of Risen’s story,” prosecutor Eric Olshan finished his closing argument in the Jeffrey Sterling trial. “Don’t let him be the hero of this one.”

      “They are patriots,” prosecutor Jim Trump ended his remarks, speaking of the many CIA officers the jury had heard from. “They do their work without accolades.” He then compared Sterling with those patriots. “Sterling is not a patriot,” he described after accusing Sterling of betraying the CIA and his colleagues. “He is the defendant, he is guilty.”

    • British spy agency intercepted emails of journalists, considers them ‘threats’ alongside terrorists and hackers

      This is yet another outrageous violation of press freedom by the British government, which has increasingly shown contempt for newsgathering and the rights of journalists.

    • British Spy Agency Swept Up Emails of Major U.S. and UK Media Outlets; Investigative Journalists Viewed as Threat

      Britain’s cyber intelligence agency collected emails from numerous media outlets from Britain, the United States and other countries while also declaring in internal communications that investigative reports should be considered a threat to government operations.

      With documents provided by National Security Agency (NSA) whistleblower Edward Snowden, The Guardian reported that Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) intercepted emails from journalists working for American and European news sources. Those affected by the email sweep included the BBC, Reuters, The Guardian, The New York Times, Le Monde, The Sun, NBC and The Washington Post.

    • Obama will fundamentally reshape the internet. But he hasn’t said how

      The president will have to address net neutrality, the Patriot Act and cybersecurity this year. The platitudes in the State of the Union aren’t reassuring

    • Barrett Brown sentenced to 63 months for ‘merely linking to hacked material’

      In a rebuke to a legion of online supporters and what the journalist and one-time member of Anonymous called a “dangerous precedent”, Barrett Brown was sentenced to 63 months in prison by a federal judge in Dallas on Thursday.

      Brown’s backers from across the web had hoped he would be able to walk free with his 31 months of time served for what they insist was “merely linking to hacked material”. But the 33-year-old, who was once considered something of a spokesman for the Anonymous movement, will face more than twice that sentence. The judge also ordered him to pay more $890,000 in restitution and fines.

    • Barrett Brown Sentenced To 63 Months In Jail For Daring To Do Journalism On Hacked Info

      We’ve written a few times about the ridiculous case against Barrett Brown, a journalist who took a deep interest in Anonymous and various hacking efforts. As we noted, a key part of the initial charges included the fact that Brown had organized an effort to comb through the documents that had been obtained from Stratfor via a hack. The key bit was that Brown had reposted a URL pointing to the documents to share via his “Project PM” — a setup to crowdsource the analysis of the leaked documents. Some of those documents included credit card info, so he was charged with “trafficking” in that information. Brown didn’t help his own cause early on with some immensely foolish actions, like threatening federal agents in a video posted to YouTube, but there were serious concerns about how the government had twisted what Brown had actually done in a way that could be used against all kinds of journalists.

    • Police to probe Leon Brittan’s alleged Westminster paedophile cover-up beyond the grave

      Child sex abuse campaigners have spoken of their fury that Leon Brittan has taken secrets of an alleged Westminster paedophile cover-up to his grave.

      The former Tory Home Secretary has died after a long fight with cancer – leaving unanswered questions about his role in the disappearance of a dossier said to reveal the existence of an abuse network at the top of government.

      And detectives declared they would still be investigating claims Lord Brittan raped a teenager in 1967.

      The dossier was handed to him in 1983 by Tory MP Geoffrey Dickens and the row over its “loss” led to Home Secretary Theresa May launching a wide-ranging public inquiry into the allegations of a paedophile ring.

    • British Company under Investigation for Offering Services to Guantanamo Base

      Internationally recognized agencies such as Amnesty International and Scotland Yard have undertaken an investigation into individuals who allegedly participated in acts of torture carried out in Cuba.

      I came across this startling bit of news in the British newspaper The Independent on January 14. There, I read that the British human rights group Reprieve submitted a report to the renowned police agency, asking that it investigate a British company for alleged complicity in extremely serious human rights violations.

      The accused company is named “G4S.” The British government, the newspaper adds, has been investigating G4S for some time to determine whether it has violated principles established by international conventions. According to the charges, the company offered administrative services to a harrowing prison, notorious for its abuses and for confining human beings without previous or due process: the United States’ Guantanamo Naval Base.

  • DRM

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Copyrights

      • MPAA Boss Chris Dodd Talks About Sony Hack & Free Speech… Ignoring How It Revealed MPAA’s Plan To Undermine Free Speech

        First of all, I’m not quite clear on how the Sony Hack was really an “attack on free speech” unless you really believe the point of the hack was to get Sony to not show The Interview (a storyline that only showed up well after the hack). But, considering that some of the only real news to come out of the hack was an elaborate mulit-pronged strategy by the MPAA to censor the internet by twisting various laws, that statement is kind of ridiculous.

      • UK Prime Minister’s special advisor wants prison for people who watch TV programmes the wrong way

        The UK Conservative MP Mike Weatherley spoke at a second reading of the Intellectual Property Bill in Parliament and called for prison sentences for “persistent” downloaders. Mr Weatherley is a former entertainment industry executive and is Prime Minister Cameron’s Intellectual Property advisor. He also defended the idea of disconnecting families from the Internet if their router is implicated in accused acts of copyright infringement.

Microsoft is Dying Due to Free Software, Tries to Infect GNU/Linux With .NET and to Infect Moodle in Schools With Microsoft Office and OOXML Lock-in

Posted in Free/Libre Software, GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Open XML at 12:57 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

“They’ll get sort of addicted, and then we’ll somehow figure out how to collect sometime in the next decade.”

Bill Gates

Drugs

Summary: ‘Free’ drugs (a proprietary software analogy) the new strategy of Microsoft in its latest battle against Free software, especially in schools where choice is a rarity (if not an impossibility), with the premeditated intention of forming dependency/addiction among young people

The Microsoft marketer from the CBS-run ZDNet says that GNU/Linux has now successfully pushed the price of Windows down to $0. No wonder the company is laying off many employees and fighting with the IRS over its tax violations. Microsoft is a company in rapid decline and there are many ways to show this. Just because Microsoft pressures and even bribes people to pay lip service to Vista 10 doesn’t mean it’s real news or that FOSS sites should cover it too (but some do). It’s more of a distraction or a decoy amid a lot of negative publicity for Microsoft. Vista 10 is not ‘free’, neither gratis nor libre. That’s a lie perpetrated by Microsoft and propagated by Microsoft-friendly media. As Pogson put it in his rebuttal: “Freedom isn’t just about the price. An operating system isn’t a service. One needs software on a device to make it seem intelligent, nothing more. Bundling that other OS with every kind of device on the planet doesn’t make any sense at all.”

Microsoft has been trying to infiltrate the FOSS community and even infiltrate GNU/Linux (the winners at Microsoft’s expense). Here we have Microsoft’s proxy Xamarin producing yet another Microsoft entrapment for GNU/Linux users (Mono) and here we have Microsoft trying to repurpose Free software as Microsoft lock-in. When Microsoft says “open source” it means proprietary plus some exploitation of FOSS in the Trojan sense, based on its silly press releases that it pushed even into CNN, (i.e. paid for by Microsoft handsomely). For those who missed it, Microsoft is now trying to push proprietary software with OOXML lock-in, which Microsoft committed crimes for, into Moodle. Microsoft’s ally in schools, Blackboard (proprietary), also tried to accomplish that when it acquired the competition (Moodlerooms). It is capture by proxy (Microsoft uses its own proxy) and it serves to highlight an inherent vulnerability in the ‘openness’ of Free software (it leaves itself open to Trojan horses unless it is willing to put up some resistance). Microsoft did the same thing to Linux (proprietary Hyper-V through Novell as the bribed proxy) and it is becoming a serious issue. The media too plays a role in it (see the paid press releases above) and Bill Gates’ bribes to The Guardian are clearly paying off because this wicked paper is now portraying Gates as a champion of education with another mindless advertisement/puff piece. This is often about imposing Microsoft software on schools. Gates has already made it explicitly clear that he views children the same way drug dealers view them. It’s market share. It’s money. “In other news,” wrote a reader to us, “he is attacking Moodle quite heavily. I guess the goal is to make it 100% tied to MS Office, Sharepoint, Exchange and all the other crap.”

“Microsoft has been been trying to infiltrate the FOSS community and even infiltrate GNU/Linux (the winners at Microsoft’s expense).”“Wired still sucks up to Bill,” he added, linking to this latest puff piece. Gates has spent over a billion dollars so far bribing news sites, blogs, etc. so we have grounds for suspicion that Wired too (Condé Nast) has an unstated conflict of interest. Another news site of Condé Nast has employed full-time Microsoft boosters and one of them, Peter Bright (Microsoft Peter), is now openwashing Internet Explorer despite admitting that “Internet Explorer is closed from end to end.”

Watch out as Microsoft and Bill Gates try to hijack school curriculum to impose Microsoft as part of what’s obligatory (imposed from above). The attempt to make Moodle connected to the NSA PRISM-complying (Microsoft was first in PRISM) OOXML-spreading Microsoft Office is just the first step.

Microsoft Symptoms of a Dying Company: More Boosters Depart, Back Doors Revealed, Microsoft’s Outlook Cracked

Posted in Microsoft, Security, Vista 10, Windows at 12:15 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Journalists currently under heavy barrage from Microsoft marketing (outsourced and in-house)

Office of telemarketing

Summary: Bad news for Microsoft shortly before the marketing extravaganza served to cover much of it up

IF YOU believe the hype (Microsoft has been talking about it for nearly 2 years), you will easily believe that Vista 10 is the return of Windows monopoly and supposed OS ‘leadership’, even though Microsoft is shrinking along with its notorious back doors and criminal behaviour (less Microsoft means less crime).

Those of us who have watched Microsoft closely for years saw a lot of the company’s boosters ebbing away. Microsoft laid off a lot of marketing people. It’s a ‘luxury’ it cannot afford anymore as breaking/infiltrating the media is not cheap. Last week we learned that Paul Thurrott left as well; he had been one of Microsoft’s leading boosters and now, according to a source of ours, he “[p]robably moved to be able to change focus, adding FUD against non-Microsoft stuff in the guise of coverage. This is how far he has gone.” (notice the usual and typical propaganda we have been seeing for weeks now).

Some falsely claim that Android is losing share and others try to paint Windows as running Android apps even though it cannot. That is the type of FUD we have been debunking here for years. This FUD is not dead yet. Just notice the patterns, part of the PR campaign perhaps. If many people repeat the same lie in unison, then the lie gains legitimacy. Just watch Microsoft’s propaganda network 1105 Media trolling FOSS yet again over ‘security’ (only yesterday). A lot of this PR/FUD started last April when a Microsoft-connected firm gave a name and a logo to a bug in OpenSSL. It did it exactly when Windows XP ran out of support (i.e. left totally vulnerable to crackers).

“A lot of this PR/FUD started last April when a Microsoft-connected firm gave a name and a logo to a bug in OpenSSL.”Either way, Microsoft boosters continue to be dissolved. We used to see many more FUD attacks on GNU/Linux or Free software several years ago and as Soylent News put it: “Longtime Microsoft-centric journalist and blogger Paul Thurrott has left Supersite for Windows, and the website he founded sixteen years ago, and its sister site Windows IT Pro, for reasons explained in his farewell post. The sites (the former of which is still branded ‘Paul Thurrott’s SuperSite for Windows’ for now, but that will surely change) will be maintained by a staff of journalists employed by Penton, an information services conglomerate.”

Microsoft very much relies on propaganda agents who blame Google for Microsoft's failings and incite against Microsoft’s top competitors (Chromebooks seem to be Microsoft’s nightmare at the moment, not just Google Docs and ODF). Consider this rebuttal from Thom Holwerda:

First, this article makes the usual mistake of calling these vulnerabilities “zero day”. They are not zero day. They are 90 day. A huge difference that changes the entire context of the story. Microsoft gets 90 days – three months – to address these issues.

The accusations against Google were repeated later, at around the beginning of last week (second time) and the end of last week (third wave). This is totally insane an accusation to make, but given that those blaming Google are longtime Microsoft boosters, one can expect it.

In other news, a new Bloomberg puff piece glamourises Microsoft privacy violations, milking the Paris shootings for Microsoft PR. What an unbelievably shallow puff piece; then again, it’s Bloomberg. In similar news, Outlook has been cracked [1]. Even Microsoft cannot maintain a state of security. “Clumsily done” labelled it our source. Maybe the back doors have taken their toll in the wrong country. That won’t be good for business.

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. Microsoft Outlook hacked following Gmail block in China

    Microsoft’s Outlook email service was subject to a cyberattack over the weekend, just weeks after Google’s Gmail service was blocked in China.

    On Monday, online censorship watchdog Greatfire.org said the organization received reports that Outlook was subject to a man-in-the-middle (MITM) attack in China. A MITM attack intrudes on online connections in order to monitor and control a channel, and may also be used to push connections into other areas — for example, turning a user towards a malicious rather than legitimate website.

The Collapse of European Patent Office Management Culminates With Resignations

Posted in Europe, Patents at 11:28 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Benoit Battistelli

Summary: No blood is spilled, but even the management of the EPO is falling apart as the Director of Internal Communication is said to have just resigned

Battistelli does not have a monopoly on deciding which people must leave the EPO. He does not even need to throw people out because some are leaving on their own volition, at least based on what we can gather from our sources. Perhaps they realise that leaving the scandalous embarrassment that is EPO management would be better for their career.

Latest rumours from the EPO serve to show and at the very least reaffirm that the EPO is “burning”, as some have told us months ago. One source told us: “The latest rumour that we have heard is that the recently recruited Director of Internal Communication has “resigned”. We don’t have any details of the exact circumstances so we can’t say at this point whether he jumped or whether he was pushed.

“The person in question is Vincent Bénard who was formerly Head of Corporate Internal Communications at the Airbus Group. He had been widely tipped to take over from Oswald Schroder who departed under mysterious circumstances in October last year.

“If you look carefully at the recent internal EPO announcement concerning the “Public Apology to Zeljko Topic” you will see that it doesn’t bear any name for the “Author” which just given as “Internal Communication”.”

“Perhaps they realise that leaving the scandalous embarrassment that is EPO management would be better for their career.”For some background, see our recent articles about it. The censorship is backfiring. Mike Masnick dubbed it the “Streisand Effect”.

“The “Internal Communication” department is part of Directorate-General 4 and thus it comes under Topic’s direct control,” told us a source. “We suspect that Bénard had some kind of a “disagreement” with his boss i.e. Topic, over the publication of the “Public Apology” announcement on the EPO Intranet.”

This publication already led to some action that embarrasses Željko Topić and meanwhile, in response, Vesna Stilin is working hard to revoke the apology and restore the article from Zeljko Peratovic's 45lines.com. Imagine the size of the audience after restoration. The article that Topić wants to hide can be read here in English.

“All of this is just speculation on our part,” said our source, “but the rumour of Bénard’s departure at this particular juncture is a clear indication that all is not well on the upper floors of the EPO’s headquarters.”

We welcome sources to come forth with information if they have any that is relevant. We have never — in our history of nearly a decade — let down or got in trouble a source. The goal here is justice; if embarrassing those in positions of unjust power helps restore justice, then so be it.

New LCA Talk: Open Invention Network’s Deb Nicholson on Software Patents and Patent Trolls

Posted in Patents, Videos at 10:57 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: Deb Nicholson’s LCA talk is now publicly accessible

Talk by the Open Invention Network’s Deb Nicholson; see “Software Patents: Trolls and Other Bullies” and this schedule. Direct YouTube link (for downloading applications).

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