Privacy, Spying on Congress, Drones, Ukraine Intervention, and More

Posted in News Roundup at 1:14 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz


  • Careless.data

    The authorities must take the necessary time to remedy the slapdash introduction of a database containing the medical records of the entire population of England.

  • Care.data is in chaos. It breaks my heart

    Medical data has huge power to do good, but it presents risks too. When leaked, it cannot be unleaked. When lost, public trust cannot be easily regained

  • Why you should delete your Facebook account

    Facebook still gets a lot of press these days, and it supposedly has more than a billion users. But I’ve pretty much given up on it for business and personal use. Over the last couple of years I’ve found that Facebook just wasn’t worth the effort and time that I was putting into it.

    First I deleted the Facebook pages for my blogs, and then I eventually deleted my Facebook account altogether.

Illegal Surveillance on Surveillance Oversight


  • Karzai, Corruption, and CIA Bags of Cash

    You’ve got to hand it to Hamid Karzai. He is nothing if not brazen. Other world leaders might be embarrassed if caught accepting bags of cash from the CIA. Not Karzai. Instead, he is bragging to reporters that the CIA money was “an easy source of petty cash” and reassuring anyone who will listen that he will continue on the CIA payroll.

    The question is: What is the CIA getting for its (read: our) money? I am not opposed in principle to the CIA paying off the leaders of other countries; it has certainly done so before. If intelligently used, cash can be a valuable part of an influence operation; it can be a vital source of support for strong pro-American leaders such as Ramon Magsaysay, the president of the Philippines from 1953 to 1957.

  • Karan Casey Concert to Support Anti-Drone Protests

    Have you heard about the Ithacans in Dewitt court battles, sentenced to jail for peaceful demonstrations against drone warfare at Hancock Field? And wondered if there was any way you could help?

  • Civilian fatalities caused by US-drone attacks significantly higher than estimated

    Concretely, the figures did not include injured individuals that died after been transported as wounded to other localities, such as hospitals or camps. The demise occurring after, even long afterwards, and as consequence of injures received in the combats or air strikes. In other words, media reports on “war casualties”– in the context of the given combat or air-strike event which is the subject in the report – invariably refer as fatalities only to those who perished in situ and at that very occasion.

Civil Rights

  • Attorneys for Barrett Brown want case on linking to hacked material dismissed
  • Journalist Barrett Brown Wins a Victory in His Case as Government Dismisses Charges Related to Link-Sharing
  • Ed: iophk commented on this saying that “The rationale for the arrest, the hyperlink, is interesting in the context of the EU consultation which ended today. Some of the questions pertained to possible changes to copyright law disallowing hyperlinking to external objects.”
  • Feds Dismiss Charges Against Barrett Brown For Linking After Realizing They Had No Case

    Well, well, well. We were about to put up the post below, describing the arguments that Barrett Brown’s lawyers filed about why the criminal charges against him for sharing a link (which they claimed was trafficking in stolen credit card details) were completely bogus… and it appears that the DOJ itself was convinced. Just hours after Brown’s lawyers filed their comprehensive argument, the DOJ has filed a motion to dismiss the criminal charges that stem from the cutting and pasting of the link. The other charges, concerning threatening acts (described below) and “obstruction of justice” (for hiding his laptop in a cabinet) remain, meaning that he is still facing significant jail time. But the core charge, concerning cutting and pasting a link, is now being dismissed. Of course, it’s still a travesty that the DOJ ever included that in the indictment in the first place.

  • A Few Surprises in the New Guantánamo Prisoner List

    This latter category, comprising 48 of the prisoners, was profoundly troubling to those of us who had looked closely at what purported to be the evidence against the prisoners, and had concluded, with good reason, that it was profoundly unreliable. This is because it consisted, to an alarming degree, of self-incriminating statements made by the prisoners themselves, often in circumstances in which coercion, or other forms of pressure were used, or of statements made by other prisoners, even though many of these prisoners had been identified as unreliable by personnel at Guantánamo, and also, in some cases, by judges reviewing the supposed evidence in the prisoners’ habeas corpus petitions.

NSA vs. Privacy

Nobel Peace Prize is a Joke



  • Nick Mutch talks journalism and Julian Assange with Chris Hedges

    Chris Hedges is among the last of a dying breed: the war correspondent that has spent his life with society’s outcasts and the faceless victims of conflcit. I ask how he came into journalism and what he thinks are the crucial attributes for a journalist. “I originally came to journalism through the priesthood actually. I was studying at Harvard Divinity school, originally intending to become a minister when I met a fantastic guy named Robert Cox. Robert had been editor of the Buenos Aires Herald during the dirty war in the late 70’s. He was a very brave man. The government at the time’s way of disposing of its enemies was ‘disappearing them’; they’d simply vanish into the night, usually never to be seen again. Bob used to print the names of those who had been disappeared the previous day above the fold in his newspaper.

    “Eventually, he himself was disappeared, although his life was saved by the intervention of the British and American governments. He really opened my eyes to the possibility of journalism, and what journalism can do.”

    He emphasises a balanced approach. “One of the most important things you can do as a journalist is have a strict sense of objectivity and wish to stick to the truth. Orwell is the absolute epitome of this aspect of our profession, particularly in books such as Homage to Catalonia. I’ll illustrate with an example from my own career. When I covered the war in Kosovo, I spent the vast majority of my time covering the atrocities of the Serbian security forces, who, if they hadn’t been stopped by a NATO intervention, would have committed murder, massacre and rape on a huge scale. But when they withdrew, their role was replaced by that of Albanian thugs who instead starting beating and murdering elderly Serb couples who had nothing whatsoever to do with Milosevic and his crimes


  • Senate rejects Obama nominee who defended cop killer

    Seven Democrats voted against moving forward with President Obama’s nomination of Adegbile, which the Fraternal Order of Police and other groups opposed because of his involvement in the defense of Mumia Abu-Jamal, who was convicted of killing a Philadelphia police officer in 1981.

  • Video Shows Man Suffering Deliverance-Style Treatment by Small-town Texas Cops (Video)

    That’s when Electra police officers Matt Wood and Gary Ellis approached Nesin, setting off a series of actions that will leave your blood boiling. The pair engaged in unethical police behavior starting off with asking Nesin for his identification even though he had broken no laws, all the way to Electra city attorney Todd Greenwood admitting that they do not follow the Constitution in their town, with a lot of strong-armed bullying taking place in between.

A Parade of (GNU/)Linux-powered Mobile Operating Systems

Posted in GNU/Linux at 11:34 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Firefox OS

  • Linux Video of the Week: Hands-On with the $25 Firefox Phone

    Mozilla has designed a phone that’s even more affordable for emerging markets and thus redefines the entry level for smartphones. Mozilla engineers were able to accomplish this by adjusting the hardware requirements of the operating system to run on a 1 GHz CPU, single core Spreadtrum chipset with only 128 MB of RAM. That’s only 25 to 50 percent of the RAM found in existing entry-level devices on the market, said Joe Cheng, product manager at Mozilla in this video demonstration of the prototype phone, below.

  • Nokia Delivers Android Phones, Mozilla Talks Up $25 Phones
  • New $25 Firefox OS Phones Make Waves in Barcelona

    At the Mobile World Congress show in Barcelona this week, there was much news on the open source phone front. As we repoorted, Nokia announced the Nokia X and X+, four-inch phones running Android that will become part of Microsoft’s mobile portfolio when its acquisition of Nokia closes soon. The other interesting aspect of the Nokia phones is that they are inexpensive, but Mozilla also made headlines at Mobile World Congress for its take on low cost phones. The company is talking up $25 smartphones based on Firefox OS, and the first ones have already been shown.

  • To avoid Android pitfalls, Mozilla shoulders Firefox OS update burden

    Mozilla will take over some responsibility for issuing Firefox OS updates that carriers today have, a move that could help users avoid the fate of Android phone owners saddled with older operating system versions.

    “We are pushing that envelope,” Chief Technology Officer Brendan Eich told CNET. “We think we can get people on Wi-Fi upgrading through Mozilla.”

  • Is a US$25 smartphone possible?

    Mobile World Congress (MWC) kicked off with a bang, with Mozilla announcing a US$25 smartphone built around a turnkey solution that features silicon from China-based Spreadtrum and software from Firefox.

  • Firefox OS Unleashes the Future of Mobile
  • Mozilla plans ‘$25 smartphone’ for emerging markets
  • Firefox OS gains reference devices, $25 phone



  • Putting Tizen in Context

    From the very start, Tizen has had the concept of device profiles, where there’s a common set of core software components (kernel, coreutils, networking stack, etc.) that are applicable to every type of device, and there are specializations specific to whatever it is you’re using. Take your hand and open it flat. Ok? Good. Your palm is the core software stack, and your fingers are the device-specific profiles – handset, IVI, TV, etc. Chances are good that many elements of the core stack will be the same, and in all cases you want to optimize for lower power consumption and better performance, but what a smartphone presents to the user is generally quite different from an IVI system, or a wearable device, or a camera, or a TV, or a refrigerator, or… I’m sure you get the point. One size doesn’t fit all, but you certainly can be smart about not reinventing the wheel for each product class.


  • Pluses and minuses in Android, iOS rivals Ubuntu, Sailfish, Firefox (now titled “A case for Android, iOS rivals”)

    When it comes to smartphones, consumers have an array of choices from Apple to… well, Android.

    The impression you get stepping into most phone carriers’ showrooms is that the programmers behind Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android are driving most of the innovation in smartphones. You’ll find few phones on display that run other software systems.

  • Review: Firefox OS, Sailfish OS, Ubuntu for phones (as above)
  • Mobile Linux OSes Innovate, Cut Costs as Smartphone Market Slows

    Even Microsoft’s Nokia went lower end with new X and X+ phones running a modified Android build and selling for just 89 and 99 euros, respectively. The irony works on many levels here, including the fact that before Nokia went high-end with Windows Phone, it dominated feature phone sales. Nokia phones are still the most commonly seen phones in developing nations.

Links 6/3/2014: Games

Posted in News Roundup at 11:27 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Links 6/3/2014: Applications

Posted in News Roundup at 11:26 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Links 6/3/2014: Instructionals

Posted in News Roundup at 11:25 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GoDaddy, Go Away: How This SOPA Backer is Censoring the Internet Despite SOPA’s Death

Posted in Law at 11:09 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: Political censorship now in the West, but overlooked by statistics that omit domain-level cutoffs

Remember the boycott against GoDaddy over SOPA (pro-censorship bill) support? Well, guess what? Even without SOPA GoDaddy is censoring Web sites and the EFF is up in arms [1]. iophk says that it’s “like when ODF sites were censored in 2008 via a different registrar. Back then it was blamed on a contract dispute but somehow got cleared up within hours of the critical deadline having gone.”

The last thing we need on the Internet is censorship and we wrote many posts about the reasons. Here in the UK we have paedophiles claiming that we need censorship to protect us from paedophiles [2] and in central Europe too politicians like Neelie Kroes continue to pretend adults are children [3] and require government supervision on the Web.

This new Internet censorship world map [4] totally fails to take into account the type of ‘soft’ censorship we now have in the UK, including domain-level interception of Web sites without due process. It’s really quite bad and Reddit too is not in the censorship business [5,6], basically burying stories that reveal government interference in Web sites. Twitter is also censoring sites now (at domain level even [7]), YouTube continues to facilitate censorship through bogus copyright claims [8,9] or utterly fictional claims [10] (iopkh says that “the film was blamed after the fact and that the actual violence had the hallmarks of long and careful planning, including selection and casing of the target”), and in India domain-level censorship was achieved (hiding political corruption) only after a court had gotten involved [11]. What a disgusting trend. How long before many ISPs in Western nations block sites like Wikileaks (some parts of the US public sector have done this for years)? If we don’t protect free speech, then the rich and powerful will continue to take it away, eliminating the advantage of the Web (speaking truth to power, bypassing gatekeepers).

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. Mexican Protest Site Censored by GoDaddy — with the U.S. Embassy’s Help
  2. Top UK official involved in national porn filter arrested for child porn

    A top British government aide who helped create 10 Downing Street’s controversial policy to censor online pornography for the majority of British Internet users has resigned from his post on Monday after being arrested last month on charges of possessing child pornography.

  3. A free media needs regulators to be independent

    In each EU country, audiovisual services like TV benefit from oversight by independent regulators. And yesterday we convened the first ever meeting of all those regulators, from across the EU.

  4. The most important thing you’ll see today: Internet censorship world map
  5. Why Reddit mods are ‘censoring’ Greenwald’s latest bombshell

    In the article, Greenwald provides images from a Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) documents that show how the clandestine agency has tried to “control, infiltrate, manipulate, and warp online discourse, and in doing so, are compromising the integrity of the Internet itself.”

    Greenwald also provides a great deal of context and explanation in his article, comparing it to similar programs allegedly carried out by the National Security Agency (NSA). Greenwald’s story was subsequently picked up on Boing Boing, RT.com, Daily Kos, Zero Hedge, and Der Speigel.

    The removals have been the subject of numerous threads on r/subredditdrama (where redditors discuss “Internet fights and other dramatic happenings from other subreddits”) and r/undelete (home to submissions that moderators remove from the top 100 in r/all). Redditors are calling it an act of censorship.


    Moderator BipolarBear0 responded to the Daily Dot to add that Greenwald’s original story was removed because “it breaks our preexisting rules as to analysis and opinion.”

    “As it stands, the Firstlook story is almost entirely comprised of analysis and a lack of objectivity. Not to say that’s necessarily a bad thing—in fact, the Firstlook story by Greenwald is, at least in my opinion, a great piece of investigative journalism.”

  6. Reddit Censors Big Story About Government Manipulation and Disruption of the Internet

    The moderators at the giant r/news reddit (with over 2 million subscribed readers) repeatedly killed the Greenwald/Snowden story on government manipulation and disruption of the Internet … widely acknowledged to be one of the most important stories ever leaked by Snowden.

  7. Twitter Blocks Kickass.to Links, Says They’re Unsafe

    Twitter is refusing to link users to Kickass.to, the second largest torrent index on the Internet. People who attempt to access the site through Twitter get a warning that the site may be unsafe and potentially harmful. Questions to Twitter about the reason for this unusual blockade remain unanswered.

  8. YouTube Ordered to Remove ‘Illegal’ Copyright Blocking Notices
  9. Bad Facts, Really Bad Law: Court Orders Google to Censor Controversial Video Based on Spurious Copyright Claim

    It’s an old legal adage that bad facts lead to bad legal decisions, and today we’ve got a classic example in Garcia v. Google—the “Innocence of Muslims” case. Based on a copyright claim that is dubious at best, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has ordered Google to take offline a video that is the center of public controversy. We can still talk about it, but we can’t see what we are talking about. We’re hard-pressed to think of a better example of copyright maximalism trumping free speech.

  10. YouTube ordered to remove film that sparked violence in Middle East

    US appeals court said anti-Muslim video infringed actress Cindy Lee Garcia’s copyright to her role and she could order its removal

  11. Court blocks Tamil ‘Assange’ Shankar’s website savukku.net

    Justice CT Selvam of the Madras High Court has ordered the Chennai City Police to block the website www.savukku.net immediately. He has directed all those affected by savukku.net to file complaint with police. Senior Tamil Nadu police officer Jaffer Sait is likely to be the first complainant in the case. Savukku.net, which is known as a Tamil Wikileaks is likely to face a huge trouble after this order.

Bitcoin Increasingly Adopted, Increasingly Smeared

Posted in Finance, FUD at 9:25 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: A look at one of the latest smears against Bitcoin, courtesy of Britain’s Internet Watch Foundation (IWF)

WE DON’T OFTEN write about Bitcoin, but sometimes we do. Bitcoin is becoming a huge phenomenon and with its growth it gathers enemies. “Someone is really threatened by bitcoin that they have to disparage it so much and so often,” writes iophk. “Use in nefarious activities could easily be said of other currencies I expect, yet bitcoin is consistently singled out in the media. And, unlike cash, bitcoin is not anonymous,” he says in reference to this new smear. This strategy is not unusual; just ask Torrent sites, Craigslist, etc. how they suffered demonisation by association (copyright infringement, prostitution, drugs, etc.) just so that people can shut down down or at least marginalise them. Bitcoin has some other bad press [1], usually revolving around Mt Gox although it is only one of many players in the area of Bitcoin.

Most people, even in the Western world, are ‘poor’ in the sense that they have negative balance [2]. Young people are the most common victims [3,4]. The older generation often evades tax [5] and gets away with it. No wonder the young (future) generation is gradually turning to alternative currencies whose value cannot be rigged to the same degree commonly used currency is. A lot of people tend to forget that money derives its value from the belief/assumption that it will be honoured by merchants and be possible to swap for real goods; when hyperinflation kicks in, then money can become just paper, unlike Bitcoin, which some say it more resilient and resistant to abuse. Mt Gox may be having a crisis, but let’s not forget how many of the banks out there (all around the world) reached virtual bankruptcy (like my bank at the time — a bank that’s heading there again) and then looted taxpayers for bailouts that devalue money, increase national debt, and generally show that the ‘mainstream’ currencies are no safe haven.

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. Mt Gox confirms 750,000 Bitcoin theft, opens call centre for concerned miners

    BITCOIN EXCHANGE Mt Gox has confirmed the loss of 750,000 Bitcoins, and opened a call centre for people who want to know more about that.

  2. Three Of Every Four Americans Are Living Paycheck-To-Paycheck

    According to a new survey, more than three-quarters of Americans are living paycheck-to-paycheck in order to make ends meet.

    The study, conducted by Bankrate.com, found that 76 percent of citizens had less than six months’ worth of savings to their name. Half of Americans had less than three months emergency savings and more than a quarter had no savings at all.

  3. Student Loans Are Ruining Your Life. Now They’re Ruining the Economy, Too

    American students are well over $1 trillion in debt, and it’s starting to hurt everyone, economists say

  4. Thousands of young people forced to go without food after benefits wrongly stopped under ‘draconian’ new sanctions regime

    A sanction can mean having welfare payments cut off entirely for a minimum of a month and as much as three years for “repeat offenders”. The hardline system, which means people can end up cast adrift for accidentally missing an appointment, is thought to be one of the reasons behind the vast numbers turning to food banks.

    Experts say young people are being unfairly singled out by the strict new system of penalties. Despite making up only 27 per cent of Jobseeker’s Allowance claimants, 18- to 24-year-olds have accounted for 42 per cent of all sanctions handed out.

  5. Credit Suisse ‘cloak-and-dagger’ tactics cost US taxpayers billions – senators

    John McCain and Carl Levin say offshore schemes operated by Swiss firm helped 22,000 Americans hide billions from taxman

You Know That Microsoft is Finished When Even Rupert Murdoch Dumps Microsoft

Posted in Google, Microsoft at 8:48 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Rupert Murdoch with Bill Gates

Summary: Rupert Murdoch’s special relationship with Microsoft and Bill Gates seems to be coming to an end

“News Corp dumps Microsoft for Google Apps,” says this report’s headline, shocking the world somewhat. So the Murdoch press itself (The Australian) announces that it is ditching Microsoft, and even more surprisingly for Google, which Murdoch famously hates (we covered many examples to that effect before, even a few years ago, noting Gates connections). Murdoch also hates net neutrality and the Internet/Web in general because it's competition (the Web has just turned 25 [1,2] and some worry about excessive control by few people [3,4], the erosion of basic principles [5], and the death of net neutrality in the US [6-10], rendering the Web not much more than a DRM and surveillance engine [11]). “I would have rather seen a move to Kolab or Citadel but this is a start,” says iophk about the news. “They’re still locked into Microsoft Office. It seems that LibreOffice should interest them.”

Using an office suite on the Web is a huge and unnecessary privacy mistake. It even tracks clicks. It’s worse than proprietary software that one installs locally in some ways.

Anyway, one must admit that when even Google’s big enemy is dumping Microsoft for Google, it means that Microsoft is going the way of the dodo.

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. Web at 25 – it’s only just begun
  2. Nearly all US adults are online for Web’s 25th anniversary

    As the 25th anniversary of the World Wide Web approaches, 87 percent of U.S. adults use the Internet, according to a Pew Research Center survey.

  3. The Internet Is Actually Controlled By 14 People Who Hold 7 Secret Keys

    The people conducting the ceremony are part of an organization called the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN). ICANN is responsible for assigning numerical Internet addresses to websites and computers and translating them into the normal web addresses that people type into their browsers.

  4. Meet the seven people who hold the keys to worldwide internet security
  5. The internet is fucked

    Here’s a simple truth: the internet has radically changed the world. Over the course of the past 20 years, the idea of networking all the world’s computers has gone from a research science pipe dream to a necessary condition of economic and social development, from government and university labs to kitchen tables and city streets. We are all travelers now, desperate souls searching for a signal to connect us all. It is awesome.

    And we’re fucking everything up.

    Massive companies like AT&T and Comcast have spent the first two months of 2014 boldly announcing plans to close and control the internet through additional fees, pay-to-play schemes, and sheer brutal size — all while the legal rules designed to protect against these kinds of abuses were struck down in court for basically making too much sense. “Broadband providers represent a threat to internet openness,” concluded Judge David Tatel in Verizon’s case against the FCC’s Open Internet order, adding that the FCC had provided ample evidence of internet companies abusing their market power and had made “a rational connection between the facts found and the choices made.” Verizon argued strenuously, but had offered the court “no persuasive reason to question that judgement.”

  6. Five things you should know about the Netflix-Comcast deal
  7. Comcast gets paid by Netflix and might still want money from Cogent
  8. With Netflix deal, Comcast hangs ‘Kick Me’ sign on net neutrality

    The Internet service provider and the streaming video service announced on Sunday that they had struck a deal that speeds up streaming of Netflix content into the homes of Comcast subscribers. In a joint statement, Netflix and Comcast hailed this “mutually beneficial interconnection agreement” that provides “a more direct connection between Netflix and Comcast, similar to other networks, that’s already delivering an even better user experience to consumers, while also allowing for future growth in Netflix traffic.”

  9. Verizon CEO says he expects Netflix will sign deal to pay them as well

    It was revealed over the weekend that Netflix and Comcast had struck a historic deal: for the first time the streaming-video service would pay the cable giant in order to ensure that the huge volume of data it was sending would arrive swiftly and smoothly in customers’ homes. This came after months of Netflix traffic performing increasingly poorly on Comcast’s network. Also at issue is the massive increase in the last few years of Netflix’s size; it grew to encompass roughly one-third of all internet data piped across the United States during prime-time video-viewing hours.

  10. Watchdogs have ‘grave concerns’ over Netflix deal with cable giant Comcast

    Consumer groups and media watchdogs on Monday expressed “grave concerns” about Netflix’s landmark pact with cable giant Comcast for improved internet service.

    Netflix, the world’s largest video on demand service, announced at the weekend that it had made an undisclosed payment to Comcast for direct access to the cable company’s broadband network, in order to ensure smooth delivery of its content.

  11. The Web At 25? Indispensable. Social Media? Not So Much.

    It’s hard to believe the World Wide Web has already been around for 25 years — the time since Tim Berners-Lee proposed a system that would allow computers to access files on other computers via the Internet.

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