11.16.14

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Links 16/11/2014: Xfdesktop 4.10.3, GNU Hello 2.10

Posted in News Roundup at 5:26 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

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Contents

GNU/Linux

Free Software/Open Source

Leftovers

  • Science

    • Japan: Train fans experience super-fast maglev speed

      One hundred passengers whizzed along a 42.8km (27 mile) route between the cities of Uenohara and Fuefuki, reaching speeds of up to 500km/h (311mph), The Asahi Shimbun website reports. The Central Japan Railway Company is running eight days of testing for the experimental maglev Shinkansen train on its test track in Yamanashi Prefecture. In total, 2,400 people will take part in the tests after winning tickets in a raffle. They represent a lucky minority – there had been more than 100 times that number of applications, the report says. “I applied for my nephew who is a big railway fan, but now I am more excited than he is,” one passenger, who was travelling with his parents and two young nephews, tells the website.

    • Stunning fossil shows pregnant mare and fetus

      Forty-seven million years ago, a pregnant mare and its unborn foal lost their lives, perhaps chased into a lake, where they drowned. Where they died, however, was a stroke of luck for 21st century paleontologists. Their fossilized remains were discovered in the Messel Pit, a former coal and oil shale mine near Frankfurt, Germany, that is famous for its exquisitely preserved fossils. The mare and her fetus are now giving scientists an unprecedented glimpse into the anatomy and reproduction of this early horse species, Eurohippus messelensis. Like other early horses, the mare was small, only about the size of a fox terrier, says Jens Franzen, a paleontologist at the Senckenberg Research Institute and Natural History Museum in Frankfurt, who presented the prepared fossil for the first time yesterday at the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology annual meeting here.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Dutch authorities identify highly contagious bird flu strain

      Dutch authorities said on Sunday they had found a highly contagious strain of bird flu at a poultry farm in the central Netherlands and set about destroying 150,000 chickens.

      The strain, H5N8, has never been detected in humans, but an outbreak in South Korea meant millions of farm birds had to be slaughtered to contain the outbreak. Cases have also been reported in China and Japan, although the strain was first reported in Europe, on a German farm, in early November.

  • Defence/Police/Secrecy/Aggression

    • Massachusetts School Installs Military-Style Shooter-Detection System

      A technology adapted from a U.S. military “smoke alarm for gunfire” was installed recently in a Massachusetts school, a protective measure implemented weeks after a deadly high school shooting in Washington State.

    • Selling Fear: The First US School Installs A Shooting Detection System

      Congratulations, America. A defense contractor tried to sell you on the idea that our schools are war zones and you bit like a musky on a minnow. The manufacturer’s website, along with most of the accompanying news articles, are filled with statistics all about how school and mass shootings are on the rise. Obviously this serves as evidence that such shooter detection systems are needed. That way, the $100k per school systems can alert authorities when these increasingly common shootings occur. The most common figure you’ll hear from these contractors and in the news is the same one authorities used in buying this detection system: there have been 88 school shootings in America since the Sandy Hook tragedy in 2012. The claim comes from Everytown.org, an organization dedicated to gun control and safety. And if that statistic sounds shocking to you, there’s a very good reason for that: it’s complete bullshit.

    • Obama administration considering ramping up CIA’s role in training Syria rebel fighters: report

      The CIA currently vets and trains about 400 fighters a month, the same number expected to be trained by the Pentagon when its program reaches capacity by late next year, The Post reported.

    • Present at the creation: ‘America’s Great Game: The CIA’s Secret Arabists and the Shaping of the Modern Middle East’

      The period in question is the end of World War II until the Kennedy administration was, to say the least, formative and what happened then is clearly relevant to the circumstances in which the United States finds itself now.

      Current tensions foreshadowed in the 1950’s include the U.S. approach to the Israeli-Palestinian imbroglio, unrest in cornerstone Egypt, monarchic rule in Saudi Arabia, and perhaps most important of all, the role of Persian, Shiite Muslim Iran in the region.

    • Could relationship between CIA, military be at risk?

      He said the CIA and military started working together after 9/11. Before that, there was little partnership between the two. Because of budget cuts, both are at risk of losing the progress they have made, said Oakley (pictured), who is working on his doctorate in security studies from Kansas State University.

    • The CIA Won the Midterms

      Incoming intel committee chair Richard Burr will end any hope of holding out of control spy agencies accountable.

    • Ex-US officials criticise Obama ‘micromanagement’

      He compared the Obama administration to that of Lyndon Johnson, who personally chose military targets in the Vietnam war. “It was the micromanagement that drove me crazy,” Gates said. The former defence chief said that Obama’s administration stands in contrast to both Bush administrations, where once a decision was made, there was no micromanagement.

    • Germany regrets diplomat’s expulsion from Moscow

      A German diplomat working in Moscow has been expelled, a German government official said, shortly after a Russian diplomat working in Bonn was expelled amid media reports he was a spy.

      “We regret this unjustified action and expressed that to the Russian government,” a German official said in a statement late on Saturday after Der Spiegel magazine reported the German was expelled in retaliation for the Russian’s explusion.

    • Former navy Seal says public has right to know how he killed Osama bin Laden

      After helicoptering to the compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, assaulting the house and killing three men and a woman, some of the Seals reached the third floor, where a CIA analyst had told O’Neill that Bin Laden would be. O’Neill followed an unnamed point man into Bin Laden’s bedroom, he told the AP, and the point man tackled two women, believing they had a bomb, in what O’Neill calls an incredibly selfless act.

    • Contras and drugs, three decades later

      …Reagan administration had illegally aided a stateless army known as the Contras in Central America.

    • Historic photos of dead Che Guevara resurface in Spain

      Hunted by the CIA, he was captured by the military in Bolivia on October 8, 1967, and executed the following day.

    • Looming US Ground Wars in Iraq and Syria

      Thirteen years post-9/11, out-of-control violence replaced regional stability. Prospects ahead look worse, not better.

    • THE WORLD GETS THE WARS AMERICANS DESERVE

      But the primary thing the U.S. government does is wage wars, and it wages them against other people who had no say in the matter. Of course I don’t want wars waged against Americans either, but the general impression one gets from traveling around and speaking and answering questions at public events in the United States is not so much that people are indifferent to the destruction of the globe as long as they don’t miss their favorite television show, as that people are unclear on what destruction means and can’t identify a globe when it’s placed in a lineup with six watermelons.

    • Obama Has No Good Options for Ending the War in Syria

      The US has also faced criticism from Turkey and Gulf states because of its focus on fighting Islamist militias rather than Assad.

    • What Dick Cheney’s lies on 9/11 has cost the US and impacted the world

      In a documentary The World According to Dick Cheney,” Dick Cheney then Vice-President of the USA admits that it was he and not President Bush who ordered the shooting down of the plane that fell into a field in Pennsylvania in September 2001. He also admits that he falsely linked Iraq with 9/11 and influenced Justice Department to legalize torture. He admits too that he used 9/11 to enable spying on Americans, start the Afghan and Iraq war and the ‘war on terror’ which were all planned before 9/11 which in other words has to leave us to deduce that 9/11 itself was pre-planned as well!

    • Delimiting presidential war powers

      The Constitution strongly disfavors war except in self-defense because it bloats executive power, cripples liberty, celebrates secrecy and risks blowback. Mr. Obama’s current war against IS is many things, but it is not self-defense. The tighter the limits of any new AUMF, the less the U.S. Constitution will be wrenched and challenged.

  • Transparency Reporting

    • The Siege of Julian Assange is a Farce

      The persecution of Julian Assange must end. Even the British government clearly believes it must end. On 28 October, the deputy foreign minister, Hugo Swire, told Parliament he would “actively welcome” the Swedish prosecutor in London and “we would do absolutely everything to facilitate that.” The tone was impatient.

    • A guy walks into the Ecuadorian embassy … Assange inspires new BBC comedy
    • Novak in Assange-inspired comedy

      The BBC4 show, called Asylum, is described as “a satirical comedy about a government whistle-blower and a millionaire internet entrepreneur trapped together in a London embassy”.

    • Wikileaks founder Julian Assange inspires new comedy show

      The comedy is one of a string of shows created to mark the 800th anniversary of Magna Carta which was one of the first attempts to limit the powers of the monarchy and develop a functioning legal system and parliamentary democracy.

    • Russell Brand, PJ Harvey, Susan Sarandon & dozens of A-listers support Snowden, Manning

      Dozens of celebrities, including musicians, filmmakers, actors and intellectuals have signed their names to a statement of support published Monday to show solidarity for Edward Snowden, Chelsea Manning and Jeremy Hammond.

    • Brand and Žižek lead celebrity call for greater whistleblower protections

      It also comes at a moment where the US government is perceived to be taking a particularly aggressive approach to official leakers. Including Snowden and Manning, there have been a total of eight prosecutions by the Obama administration relating to leaks under the 1917 Espionage Act – more than those that were brought by all previous presidents combined.

      [...]

      The list of those who have backed the whistleblower statement also includes movie directors Alfonso Cuarón, Terry Gilliam and Ken Loach; musicians Robbie Charter of the Avalanches, PJ Harvey and Thurston Moore of Sonic Youth; and writers Roddy Doyle and Hanif Kureishi.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife

    • Shale fail

      ON NOVEMBER 25th, fracking experts from across the continent will convene in Warsaw for the Shale Gas World Europe conference. The gathering is a reminder of the heady days, just a few years back, when the Polish government promised to wean the country from dependence on Russian fossil fuels by imitating America’s successful exploitation of shale. Poland would become “a second Norway”, as Radek Sikorski, the former foreign minister, put it in 2010. All that was needed was to open the country to foreign drilling firms, set up a regulatory and profit-sharing structure, open the taps, and watch the methane (and the dollars) flow.

      [...]

      Perversely, Moscow may now hold the key to galvanising the Polish shale industry. While Russian gas continues to flow cheaply, exploring for Polish shale gas is risky and expensive. But with the risk of renewed military conflict in Ukraine rising, the situation could change. “There is certainly gas in Poland, but is the current system able to extract it? I don’t think so.” says Grzegorz Pytel, an energy expert with the Sobieski Institute, a think tank. “However, if Russia cuts off gas exports that would revive shale. The hope is in Moscow.” Shale enthusiasts who once hoped to free Poland from Russian gas have been reduced to hoping that Russia will turn off the gas, or raise prices sharply, to make Polish shale viable.

  • Finance

  • Censorship

    • ISPs criticised over deal to filter extremist material online

      British internet service providers have been accused of rushing into an ill-thought-out attempt to block political material online, after agreeing with the government on a system of filters for websites espousing extremist views.

      The four largest ISPs have independently agreed with the government to implement a system of blocks, similar to that used to keep child abuse material off the net. But civil liberties campaigners expressed fears that the move opened up a risk of political censorship.

      Jim Killock, executive director of the Open Rights Group, said: “We need transparency whenever political content is blocked, even when we are talking about websites that espouse extremist views. The government must be clear about what sites they think should be blocked, why they are blocking them and whether there will be redress for site owners who believe that their website has been blocked incorrectly.”

  • Privacy

    • Justice Department Admits It Lied To Appeals Court Concerning Companies’ Ability To Talk About National Security Letters

      Back in October, we wrote about the appeal on the legality of National Security Letters (NSLs), which are secretive filings from law enforcement demanding information with a perpetual gag order. In 2013, a district court had declared that NSLs were unconstitutional, but stayed that decision pending appeal. While the appeals court judges seemed skeptical, it still wasn’t clear how they would rule. So it’s interesting to see that the Justice Department has just admitted that it misled the court on some rather important points during the oral arguments.

    • Unsealed Filing Shows DOJ Misled Appeals Court About National Security Letter Gag Orders

      A court filing unsealed late Wednesday shows that the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) made a highly misleading argument to an appeals court in October during a hearing on the constitutionality of National Security Letters (NSLs).

    • Major hurdles await NSA reform bid

      Yet Sens. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.) — the two leaders of the Senate Intelligence Committee — have both expressed reservations, worrying that it would go too far.

    • Data retention: Divining the metadata of the Govt’s true intention

      Data retention is a hot topic, so much so that the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights has included several pages examining the proposed legislation in its fifteenth report of the 44th Parliament. Suggestions put forward are that TIA Amendment Data Retention bill invades privacy, doesn’t properly define data, goes too far and needs further amendment.

    • Facebook: You post it, we can see it, and that’s that

      Facebook lets its users control whether other people can see the information they post, but when it comes to controlling what Facebook itself gets to see, privacy-conscious users are out of luck.

    • British Spying Is Our Problem, Too

      We learned last week that GCHQ – the U.K. equivalent of the NSA – permits its employees to target the communications of journalists and lawyers. That revelation has serious implications for the work of both groups.

    • The sci-fi future of lamp-posts

      Street lighting has always been a form of social control. As ‘smart’ lamp-posts start to adapt to our needs, are we entering a brave new world of big city lights?

    • UN to investigate claims that UK spies infiltrated climate talks

      Reports that GCHQ snooped on other countries at two climate summits will be investigated, says UN secretary general

    • Ambassador thrown out of Ecuador after WikiLeaks scandal will talk about her life and times at Kirtland event

      The fascinating background of being the only U.S. ambassador expelled during the global WikiLeaks scandal will be a large part of her presentation to the Nov. 16 Millennium Salon set for East Shore Unitarian Universalist Church in Kirtland. The salon, part of the church’s social justice committee, presents topics that examine various issues and discuss their impact on society.

    • Phone and web data plan under fire for interfering with privacy

      Human rights committee finds the plan to retain data for two years could have a ‘chilling effect’ on journalists

    • USPS Bemoans Massive Data Breach But Continues Surveillance Program

      While such data breaches are lamentable, it is a bit ironic that an agency that has been carrying out an extensive secret surveillance operation for years would be so vigorous in its vendetta against the alleged hackers who exposed sensitive data of employees and customers.

    • Consciousness in the Age of Digital Dystopia

      It’s Monday morning and you’re preparing your first cup of coffee when the tanks roll into your neighborhood. Phone lines are cut, curfew is activated and doors are broken down.

      You sigh. It’s another “cleanout day” in the not-too-distant future.

      The War on Terror has infiltrated every layer of society. Internet sites track the spread of extremism like the CDC tracks a lethal virus. The threat is pandemic and online news sources agree: In order to keep you safe, weekly cleanout campaigns must ramp up all across the nation – yet again.

      Today you just happen to be in the red zone.

      The main annoyance about being in a red zone is usually the loss of your phone signal. But today is different.

    • AT&T stops adding Web tracking codes on cellphones, Verizon says it still uses ‘super cookies’

      AT&T Mobility, the nation’s second-largest cellular provider, says it’s no longer attaching hidden Internet tracking codes to data transmitted from its users’ smartphones. The practice made it nearly impossible to shield its subscribers’ identities online.

    • Amnesia: A mad Aussie dash through history, hacking and the CIA

      Never has the long shadow of America across the world been so ominous and so ephemeral as it is in the wake of Edward Snowden’s NSA revelations and Wikileaks. Data surveillance and the huge US presence in the tech and internet worlds have contributed to a sense of America as the omnipresent, unseen superpower in a way that no world leading country has ever been before.

      This ownership of the web is what lets the US suggest, with no apparent sense of irony, that people like Julian Assange, an Australian citizen, are “traitors”, though what patriotism or loyalty they owe a country they have nothing to do with is unclear.

      It is this long shadow that Peter Carey takes to task in his hacker conspiracy thriller Amnesia.

    • First Snowden. Then tracking you on wheels. Now spies on a plane. Yes, surveillance is everywhere

      US government-owned airplanes that can cover most of the continental United States are covertly flying around the country, spying on tens of thousands of innocent people’s cellphones. It sounds like a movie plot, but in a remarkable report published on Thursday, the Wall Street Journal exposed that these spy planes are part of an actual mass surveillance program overseen by the Justice Department (DOJ). And it’s been kept secret from the public for years.

    • U.S. government set to use airplanes to collect information
    • Mobile Phones Data Intercepted by U.S. Marshals
  • Civil Rights

  • Internet/Net Neutrality

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Copyrights

      • Hey UK: Jailing File-Sharers for Years is Shameful

        Admins and uploaders know the risks, but when otherwise good citizens go to jail for sharing files it’s a horrible moment for all involved. This week two young men from the UK were locked up for years, one for his acts as a teenager several years ago. What a complete and utter waste of life.

      • Mega Terminates Kim Dotcom’s Account For Repeat Infringements

        Dotcom has been using Mega to share his first music album “Good Times” with everyone who wants to give it a spin. While he holds all the rights, several prominent music labels kept informing Mega that the album was “infringing.”

        A few weeks ago we learned that the takedown requests were all inaccurate, and triggered by a prankster. However, that apparently didn’t stop them from coming in and as a result Dotcom has now had his Mega account terminated for repeatedly violating the terms of service.

      • Anti-Piracy Firm Rightscorp On The Brink of Bankruptcy?

        Rightscorp, a prominent piracy monitoring firm that sends settlement requests for Warner Bros. and other copyright holders, may soon go out of business. The publicly listed company is losing millions of dollars per year and says it desperately needs a fresh cash injection to survive.

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