Links 1/1/2015: Kodak on Android, Tizen on All Samsung TVs

Posted in News Roundup at 9:09 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish



  • Desktop

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • Ben Jennings on UN climate change talks – cartoon

      All leaders must rise to the challenge for December 2015, warns outgoing EU climate chief

    • Bonus: More from the deepest depths of Debian
    • Bonus: 2014 in review
    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

      • Yet another way to make your app support StatusNotifierItem
      • Round 2

        Well the first two laps of my first SoK is over and now I finally enter into the final lap. In the first month I had finished with the design of the site but it was just plain and simple HTML/CSS and as we all know that is not enough. So the next question that arises is – what do we need ? And the answer to that will be a framework.

      • [SoK] Cantor Python backend status update

        There were not many commits from my side to the Cantor project during the last month, but most of stuffs that are related to porting the Python 2 backend to Python 3 have been done.

      • MUP, a Markup Previewer

        MUP is a markup previewer. It supports multiple markup formats. You can use it to read markup text, but it is also useful when writing markup text to check how your work looks, thanks to its refresh-as-you-save feature.

      • What’s going on with measures in Marble

        Here in the Marble world, we are working hard on expanding the current functionality with new features. Today I would like to show you some stuff we’ve recently introduced as part of the Measure tool. The measure tool is basically a multifunctional georuler, that allows to perform a variety of measurements. For instance, now you can easily measure distances on trivial paths or areas of complicated polygon shapes.

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK

      • Builder, an IDE of our GNOME

        Bastian Hougaard and Jakub Steiner put together a wonderful video for the campain. Thanks guys!

        I’ve funded the last 4 months of development to give you and idea of what you are funding and reduce your risk. I also wanted to prove to you that I’m capable of taking on this project. I hope you agree and are willing to keep me going.

  • Distributions

    • New Releases

    • Screenshots

    • Red Hat Family

      • Fedora

        • Us Versus Them

          On some levels this makes sense. Red Hat is the single largest entity in Fedora and many (if not most) of the movers and shakers in Fedora are Red Hat employees. A quick glance at the Fedora 21 System Wide Changes shows many more Red Hat employees than not. Is it any wonder that individual contributors can feel a bit like a sailboat in the way of an aircraft carrier?

        • A good year for Ansible users

          Today I’d like to take a look at where Ansible is, a year later, using last year’s report as a benchmark. I think it’s fair to say that we’ve done pretty well for our users in 2014.

    • Debian Family

      • Status on Jessie (December 2014)

        The next timed change of the freeze policy will apply per January 5th. After that date, we will only accept RC bugs fixes. Which means it is final chance for translation updates.

      • Derivatives

        • Canonical/Ubuntu

          • These Are the Essential Apps for Tweaking Ubuntu and Unity

            Ubuntu can be easily tweaked and it’s not all that difficult to make some visual changes to it. People think that Unity is not all that flexible, but that’s definitely not the case and users need just two apps to make all the changes they want.

  • Devices/Embedded

    • Phones

      • Tizen

        • Samsung to use Tizen across ALL of its TV starting 2015

          The HOT News of the day is that Samsung have decided to start shipping Tizen on ALL of their upcoming Smart TVs starting 2015. According to industry sources, Samsung have taken this bold move following a meeting that took place on 29 December, and decided to only use Tizen across its complete upcoming TV line in an effort to boost its own Tizen TV ecosystem.

      • Android

        • Kodak focuses on Android-powered smartphone cameras

          After a lengthy corporate restructuring, the indomitable Kodak is applying its brand and expertise to a new market: smartphones. The imaging company announced its intention to launch a range of Android smartphones aimed at transitioning technophobes in partnership with mobile device manufacturer Bullitt Group.

        • The best Android phones of 2014

          This last year has been a big one for Android. Displays have started moving beyond 1080p, devices keep getting bigger, and Android 5.0 brings the most fundamental change the platform has seen in a very long time. Some of the phones that were released in 2014 were huge successes, and other fell short of expectations, but which one was the best? That depends on how you frame the question, so let’s split it up a few different ways and find out.

        • How Android beat iOS in 2014, and vice versa

          In most areas, Google is already beating Apple, or at least catching up to it. Yet Apple still has a stranglehold in specific areas, ones that aren’t easy to break, including the enterprise as well as the hearts of independent developers and startups.

        • Here’s what finally pushed a longtime Android fan to switch to an iPhone 6 Plus

          Earlier this week, we brought you the story of Jason Kallelis of Writing About Tech, a longtime Android fan who had grown so frustrated with Android’s user experience recently that he felt tempted to switch to the iPhone 6 Plus. Well, it’s just one day later and Kallelis has already decided to take the plunge and has bought himself Apple’s giant new phablet as an experiment to see if he likes it better.

        • Nexus 7 Android L 5.0.2 Update Released For Wi-Fi Edition, Fixing Memory Leak on Android Lollipop 5.0 and 5.0.1

          Android 5.0.2 has rolled out for Nexus 7 users, and the latest incremental update aims to fix a few lingering bugs that were still crawling around the Android 5.0 Lollipop operating system after launch.

        • Nexus Android 5.0 Lollipop Problem Fix Confirmed

          Google’s new Android 5.0 Lollipop operating system delivered tons of new features to Nexus smartphone and tablet users. However, it also delivered a number of Android 5.0 Lollipop issues to owners of the Nexus 4, Nexus 5, Nexus 6, Nexus 9, Nexus 10, and Nexus 7, Lollipop problems that Google’s been trying to iron out over the last month and a half.

        • Android 2.3 Gingerbread—Four years later, the OS just won’t die

          December was the fourth anniversary for Android 2.3 Gingerbread—an eternity for smartphones—yet the OS stubbornly refuses to die. The OS that originally shipped in 2010 is still clinging on to 9.1 percent of active devices, and in developing markets it still ships on new devices. Android 2.3 has even outlasted newer versions of Android, like 3.0 Honeycomb (0 percent) and 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich (7.8 percent).

        • HTC One M9 rumors: ‘Hima’ boasts Android 5.0 Lollipop with Sense 7 UI?

          Another reliable tipster confirmed that the HTC One M9 “Hima” will be released in March boasting the latest Android 5.0 Lollipop OS overlaced with the HTC Sense 7 user interface.

        • OnePlus Release Official Alpha Version Of Their Stock Android 5.0 Lollipop ROM – Download Included

          The news of a OnePlus ROM was not new news, as it had been reported months ago that the company was working on its own version of close-to-stock android. More recently, the company announced a competition in their forum asking members to suggest a name for their ROM. Well, if you have been waiting to see what OnePlus could bring to the ROM table then it looks like the wait is over. OnePlus today have released the first version of their very own ROM. At the moment, the ROM name has still not been decided (or at least made known) and instead is simply going by ‘Android Lollipop Alpha’. As the name suggests, this ROM is based on Android 5.0 (Lollipop) and is now available to download and install. However, before you all click download, you do need to know that this is a very early build. Quite often builds are referred to as “early” or “alpha”, but this is seriously early and OnePlus has therefore released this as a ‘community preview’ version (similar to what we saw from Google with the L preview a few months ago). OnePlus make this point in their blog post stating “It’s so early, in fact, that this build contains no extras beyond the stock features of AOSP Lollipop”. So you’ve been warned. You should expect things not to work, bugs and other nasties associated with early and alpha ROM builds.

        • OnePlus One Android 5.0 Lollipop Alpha Build Now Available
        • Android 5.0 Lollipop Update: Samsung May Send Out New Google Software To Galaxy S5 And Others In January

          Samsung Electronics Co. may be ringing in the New Year with a fresh new system update for its devices. The manufacturer reportedly plans to begin sending out the Android 5.0 Lollipop update to its devices in January, according to a Reddit user claiming to be a Samsung employee.

        • Amazon now has 33 paid Android apps available for free

          If the 40 free applications that Amazon gave away last week wasn’t enough to satiate your hunger for new apps, the company is back today with even more goodies for your Android device.

          Amazon is now offering 33 paid Android apps for free as part of its latest Free App of the Day Bundle. There are games and utilities packed inside of the bundle, including big names like Monopoly, République, Thomas Was Alone, Lyne, and Angry Birds Star Wars.

        • Google’s Efforts Could Soon Lead To Unlocking Android Riches In Google Play

          Android is the most used mobile operating system in the history of the world. Google’s mobile OS shipped on 84% of all global smartphones in Q3 2014, a level that has grown consistently over the last several years. In contrast, Apple’s iOS has lost quarterly share in a growing market, showing up in 11.7% of all smartphone shipments in the third quarter.

        • HTC One M7 Lollipop Update: Android 5.0.2 Available Via LiquidSmooth ROM

          While Google has yet to release the Android Lollipop for the HTC One M7, users of the smartphone can try out the latest version by installing the Android 5.0.2 Lollipop update on their phones thanks to LiqiudSmooth ROM.

        • Build a Wi-Fi Webcam from an Old Android Phone

          Instructables user depotdevoid took his old Droid Razr Maxx and decided to turn it into an always-on, internet-connected webcam he could monitor at any time. If you want to do the same, you’ll need a few things to make this project work. A copy of IP Webcam (Free, $4 Pro) from Google Play, and a soldering iron (if you don’t want to just use USB power—depotdevoid’s Maxx has a broken USB charging port) to add external power, and a mount for your phone are all it really takes. He uses his to watch his 3D printer when he’s not in his garage workshop, but you can use it to keep an eye on package deliveries, watch your pets during the day, or just see the view from your home window.

        • OnePlus vs Micromax: Dream of Google-less Android now further away

          An obscure court case in India appears to have dented hopes of the mobile industry weaning itself off Google dependency – and has raised questions about the goals of Cyanogen and its backer, a Silicon Valley VC firm with close ties to Google.

          In the cosy world of Menlo Park VC firms, Andreessen Horowitz (or “A16Z”) is as close to Google as anyone. Together, they teamed up to create the “Glass Collective”, while its head, Netscape founder Andreessen, appear to go to battle in Google’s wars against media companies, as Michael Wolff reminded us this week.

        • Samsung Galaxy S4 and Note 2 to receive Android 5.0 Lollipop OS update
        • Lollipop’s memory leak bug confirmed, will finally be fixed in future Android release

          Although it can be exciting living on the bleeding edge of tech, sometimes being first to a software update can prove to be more harmful than good. Just ask Nexus (or even iPhone) owners who’ve, over the years, learned the hard way that initial updates — especially when it comes to major Android versions — can often times be riddled with bugs and other general weirdness. It’s this very reason it appears there was such a long delay in the rollout of Android 5.0 Lollipop for the Nexus 5.

        • Checking up on 2014’s crowdfunded Linux and Android devices

          What became of the crowdfunded projects we covered in 2014? Two earned more than $2 million each, about a third went unfunded, and half had shipping delays.

          Ten years ago if somebody were to tell you you’d soon be able to collect thousands and even millions of dollars for your product idea simply by posting a summary and some pictures on a web page, you might have been inclined to check their meds. Then Kickstarter launched in 2009, and small-scale investing changed forever.

        • Best Android Smartphones 2014: Your Favorite Devices And The Features That Made You Love Them

          While it may seem to most consumers that all smartphones are pretty much the same — and for Apple users, they are — Android phone manufacturers brought a diverse array of hardware to the market in 2014. The theme of the year was standout features, including large (and even curved) displays, water-resistant designs and powerful cameras. Manufacturers competed fiercely to win the favor of consumers, and many handsets stood out for very specific reasons. Below is a rundown of the best Android devices of 2014 and their best features.

        • Android KitKat x86 Updated With Linux 3.18, Better Suspend/Resume

          Android 4.4 “KitKat” has been ported to Intel/AMD x86 processors for a while in stable form while kicking off the New Year is the second stable release of Android-x86 4.4

          Android-x86 4.4-r2 is the second stable update to KitKat for Intel/AMD processors. This update has various x86-specific improvements targeted for tablets and netbooks.

        • Nokia N1 Android Tablet Release Date in China Set for January

          Nokia has confirmed the launch date of its first Nokia-branded Android tablet, the N1, which will first hit the Chinese market on Jan. 7, 2015.

    • Sub-notebooks/Tablets

      • News: OLPC releases a farm version.

        The One Laptop Per Child project, still going strong in 2015, provides a new version of the nearly indestructable XO laptop which is specifically geared toward children in farming communities.

        The XO Tablet is an Android tablet designed for children 3-12 years old that brings OLPC’s expertise to both the educational . It features a 7-inch screen and over 150 applications.

Free Software/Open Source

  • 2015: Open Source Has Won, But It Isn’t Finished

    At the beginning of a new year, it’s traditional to look back over the last 12 months. But as far as this column is concerned, it’s easy to summarise what happened then: open source has won. Let’s take it from the top:

    Supercomputers. Linux is so dominant on the Top 500 Supercomputers lists it is almost embarrassing. The November 2014 figures show that 485 of the top 500 systems were running some form of Linux; Windows runs on just one. Things are even more impressive if you look at the numbers of cores involved. Here, Linux is to be found on 22,851,693 of them, while Windows is on just 30,720; what that means is that not only does Linux dominate, it is particularly strong on the bigger systems.

    Cloud computing. The Linux Foundation produced an interesting report last year, which looked at the use of Linux in the cloud by large companies. It found that 75% of them use Linux as their primary platform there, against just 23% that use Windows. It’s hard to translate that into market share, since the mix between cloud and non-cloud needs to be factored in; however, given the current popularity of cloud computing, it’s safe to say that the use of Linux is high and increasing. Indeed, the same survey found Linux deployments in the cloud have increased from 65% to 79%, while those for Windows have fallen from 45% to 36%. Of course, some may not regard the Linux Foundation as totaly disinterested here, but even allowing for that, and for statistical uncertainties, it’s pretty clear which direction things are moving in.

  • Is Open Source Collaboration the Key to Better Communication?

    Is open source collaboration the key to communication? No silver bullet exists that provides organizations with everything they desire in a single solution. With that said, commercial open source collaboration solutions help companies future proof their investment and give them what is needed to fit their unique requirements. So, if what you are seeking is better security and privacy, improved flexibility and greater control over your collaboration solution, then you should consider open source.

  • Events

    • 2015: the Year of Open Source with Chinese Characteristics?

      The rise of China is hardly a secret – by some metrics, the Chinese economy is already the largest in the world. But in recent months, it has become clear that Chinese technology companies are also about to have a major impact on the rest of the planet – and that includes the world of open source.

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • Firefox private browsing directly

        I use the private mode of firefox quite often, for example when I want to test an application while being authenticated in one windown and not authenticated in another window.

  • SaaS/Big Data

    • 2014 and 2015

      In just a few hours 2014 ends. This is a great opportunity to look back at what happened this year in the ownCloud world and in my personal life. This was an absolutely crazy 12-month so this blog post is now way longer that I planed. A huge thanks you to everyone in the ownCloud community. It´s a blast to work together with so many clever and friendly people from all over the world.

  • Project Releases

    • GWorkspace 0.9.3

      New Year’s Eve Edition: GWorkspace 0.9.3 released!

    • rfoaas 0.0.5

      A new version of rfoaas is now on CRAN. The rfoaas package provides an interface for R to the most excellent FOAAS service–which provides a modern, scalable and RESTful web service for the frequent need to tell someone to eff off.

  • Openness/Sharing

  • Programming

    • Perl ‘issues’

      I just watched a CCC talk in which the speaker claims Perl is horribly broken. Watching it was fairly annoying however, since I had to restrain myself from throwing things at the screen.

  • Standards/Consortia

    • ODF Plugfest showcases innovations on document collaboration

      The ODF Plugfest that took place in London on 8 and 9 December showcased innovative ways to work with electronic documents. The most striking idea is the borrowing of techniques commonly used in software development, promising many news ways to create and collaborate on documents.

      At the two-day workshop in London, the Berlin-based ODF expert Svante Schubert proposed to borrow techniques commonly used in software development, to manage revisions from many different sources. He suggests to exchange only the changes made in a text, instead of the much more cumbersome sending back and forth of an entire document. “Using files for collaborating on documents is a relic from the era of floppy discs”, developer Schubert says. “It forces a recipient to read the entire document and try to understand what has been changed by others.”


  • Japan: ‘Solo weddings’ for single women

    A travel agency in one of Japan’s most beautiful cities, Kyoto, has started organising bridal ceremonies for single women.

  • Why Singles Should Say ‘I Don’t’ to The Self-Marriage Movement
  • Security

    • Lizard Kids: A Long Trail of Fail

      The Lizard Squad, a band of young hooligans that recently became Internet famous for launching crippling distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks against the largest online gaming networks, is now advertising own Lizard-branded DDoS-for-hire service. Read on for a decidedly different take on this offering than what’s being portrayed in the mainstream media.

    • FBI Waking Up To The Fact That Companies With Itchy Trigger Fingers Want To Hack Back Hacking Attacks

      It’s no secret that some in the computer security world like the idea of being able to “hack back” against online attacks. The simplest form of this idea is that if you’re a company under a denial-of-service attack, should you be able to “hack” a computer that is coordinating those attacks to stop them? More than two years ago, an LA Times article noted that some cybersecurity startups were marketing such services. Related to this, when the terrible CISPA legislation was being debated, one concern was that it would legalize such “hack backs” because, among other things, CISPA would grant immunity to companies “for decisions made based on cyber threat information.” Some interpreted that to mean that companies would have immunity if they decided to hack back against an attacker.

    • Security advisories for Wednesday
    • Security advisories for Monday
    • Tuesday’s security updates
    • Want to have your server pwned? Easy: Run PHP

      More than 78 per cent of all PHP installations are running with at least one known security vulnerability, a researcher has found.

      Google developer advocate Anthony Ferrara reached this unpleasant conclusion by correlating statistics from web survey site W3Techs with lists of known vulnerabilities in various versions of PHP.

  • Defence/Police/Secrecy/Aggression

    • Oliver Stone: Ukraine’s revolution was CIA ‘plot’

      US director Oliver Stone has called Ukraine’s Euromaidan revolution that ousted president Viktor Yanukovych a CIA “coup” and claimed that the West played a role in fostering anti-government protests in the country.

      The filmmaker, who is not new to conspiracy theories around world events, posted the bizarre theory on Facebook after a four-hour interview with Yanukovych, whom he called “legitimate president of Ukraine until he suddenly wasn’t on February 22 of this year”.

    • Oliver Stone Says Ukraine’s Revolution Was Actually A CIA Plot

      Acclaimed film director Oliver Stone on Tuesday claimed that the overthrow of Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych earlier this year was the result of an American plot.

      Stone, who is known for his left-wing politics, made the claim via a post on his Facebook page. In it, he revealed that he’d spoken to the ousted ruler for “4 hours in Moscow for new English language documentary produced by Ukrainians.” Stone did not provide many details on the documentary but said it “seems clear that the so-called ‘shooters’ who killed 14 police men, wounded some 85, and killed 45 protesting civilians, were outside third party agitators.”

    • ‘CIA fingerprints’ all over Kiev massacre – Oliver Stone

      The armed coup in Kiev is painfully similar to CIA operations to oust unwanted foreign leaders in Iran, Chile and Venezuela, said US filmmaker Oliver Stone after interviewing Ukraine’s ousted president for a documentary.

    • Oliver Stone Meets Toppled Ukrainian President Yanukovych, Accuses CIA of Sparking Coup
    • Mashable: Oliver Stone says CIA was behind Ukraine revolution in bizarre Facebook rant
    • Ukraine Massacre has CIA Fingerprints Says Oliver Stone
    • Oliver Stone: U.S. Behind Ukraine Revolt, Has ‘CIA Fingerprints on It’
    • Famous US Director Oliver Stone to Shoot a Documentary on 2014 Ukraine Coup

      Hollywood film producer Oliver Stone has said he wants to make a four-hour documentary telling the “dirty story” of the overthrow of former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych in what he believes was a “coup” organized with the help of the United States’ Central Intelligence Agency.

    • Ukraine Wants Action, But U.S. Sends Hashtags Instead

      As Russian troops amass along the Ukraine border and take over military facilities in the Crimea region, the United States has distanced itself from any boots-on-the-ground intervention.

      The U.S. won’t send troops or weapons, but it will send hashtags.

      While Congress approved an aid package for Ukraine and sanctions against Russia this week, the State Department pushed a Twitter campaign under the hashtag #UnitedForUkraine, which calls on people to share their support for the country.

      President Obama had great success using social media during his campaigning days, but does that same mindset work for foreign affairs?

      “I don’t know what effect this is supposed to have,” said former State Department diplomat James Lewis. “It’s a hashtag. What’s it going to do? For this situation, it’s not a useful tool.”

      To get the momentum going on the hashtag, top officials posted their own photos. Among the most notable was the State Department’s chief spokesperson Jen Psaki, who was once in the running for the Obama’s press secretary.

    • Idaho woman shot dead by two-year-old son was nuclear scientist

      The woman who was accidentally shot dead by her two-year-old son in an Idaho Walmart is described by those who knew her as a gun lover, a motivated academic and a successful nuclear research scientist.

      “She was a beautiful, young, loving mother who was taken much too soon,” Veronica Rutledge’s father-in-law, Terry Rutledge, told the Spokesman-Review. “She was out on what was supposed to be a fun-filled day with her son and nieces.”

      Rutledge was shot at about 10.20am on Tuesday, in the electronics department of the Hayden, Idaho, Walmart. Kootenai County sheriffs said her son, sitting in the front of a shopping cart, reached into Rutledge’s purse, found her weapon and shot his mother.

      “I mean, this is a pretty tragic incident right now that we’re dealing with,” Kootenai lieutenant Stu Miller told reporters on Tuesday. “When you have young children, small people, holiday season – it’s not a pleasant experience.”

      While shopping with her son and nieces in the store, Rutledge carried a loaded small-caliber handgun zippered in a pocket in her purse. The purse was a Christmas gift from her husband, Colt Rutledge, one designed specifically for concealed carry, the Washington Post reported.

    • Killer Drones Are a Lethal Extension of American Exceptionalism

      In his 2009 acceptance speech for the Nobel Peace Prize, President Barack Obama declared, “Where force is necessary, we have a moral and strategic interest in binding ourselves to certain rules of conduct. And even as we confront a vicious adversary that abides by no rules, I believe the United States of America must remain a standard bearer in the conduct of war.” By the time Obama accepted the award, one year into his presidency, he had ordered more drone strikes than George W. Bush had authorized during his two presidential terms.

      The Bush administration detained and tortured suspected terrorists. The Obama administration has chosen to illegally assassinate them, often with the use of drones. The continued indefinite detention of men at Guantánamo belies Obama’s pledge two days after his first inauguration to close the prison camp there. However, Obama has added only one detainee to the Guantánamo roster. “This government has decided that instead of detaining members of al-Qaida [at Guantánamo] they are going to kill them,” according to John Bellinger, who formulated the Bush administration’s drone policy.

    • Congress AWOL on predator drone killings

      Evidence in the public domain suggests that predator drone strikes are doing more harm than good.

      That is not surprising. The Senate Intelligence Committee report released recently similarly showed that post-9/11 torture did not work on al Qaeda detainees and facilitated international terrorist recruitment.

      Yet Congress has been derelict in failing to conduct comprehensive oversight hearings to appraise the predator drone program. They would probably provoke legislation to terminate the professedly targeted killings because they create more terrorists or terrorist sympathizers than they eliminate.

    • Opinion: The dirty side of ‘clean’ warfare

      The German public has reacted with surprise to headlines that the Bundeswehr passed on so-called “kill lists” of Afghan “terrorists” to the US. Admitting the truth can be painful at times, says Kersten Knipp.

    • Noor was ‘on NATO kill list’: Spiegel
    • Merkel pressured over targeted killings in Afghanistan

      German weekly Der Spiegel published secret NATO documents revealing a list of around 750 suspected Taliban officials, some of whom were killed without charge or trial.

      Opposition parties demanded an explanation from Chancellor Angela Merkel Tuesday after a German newspaper published secret documents suggesting Germany had provided intelligence for targeted killings of Taliban members in Afghanistan.

    • Merkel pressured over targeted killings in Afghanistan
    • Renaming Afghan War, renaming murder

      The U.S.-led NATO war on Afghanistan has lasted so long they’ve decided to rename it, declare the old war over, and announce a brand new war they’re just sure you’re going to love.

      The war thus far has lasted as long as U.S. participation in World War II plus U.S. participation in World War I, plus the Korean War, plus the Spanish American War, plus the full length of the U.S. war on the Philippines, combined with the whole duration of the Mexican American War.

    • Social Control in America, Police Enforcement of “Minor Crimes”

      In the United States in 2014, you may be arrested for selling loose cigarettes, jumping turnstiles, dancing on the subways, and having small amounts of marijuana, but not for assassination, torture, anal rape, illegal surveillance, or invading, occupying and bombing sovereign countries.

    • “Distancing Acts:” Private Mercenaries and the War on Terror in American Foreign Policy

      At the time, Weiss was one of at least 48,000 corporate soldiers working in Iraq for more than 170 private military companies (PMCs), with another 30,000 to 100,000 serving in Afghanistan at any given point during the war along with thousands more who performed menial tasks like cooking and cleaning for marginal pay.2 Though the Pentagon claims not to keep records on mercenary fatalities, over 1,000 mercenaries are estimated to have been killed in Iraq and another 2,500 in Afghanistan, including eight who worked for the CIA, with thousands more wounded.3 A 1989 UN treaty, which the U.S. did not sign, prohibits the recruitment, training, use and financing of mercenaries, or combatants motivated to take part in hostilities by private gain, with PMCs claiming exclusion on the grounds that they play a combat support role.4 This essay details the role of PMCs in America’s long Iraq War in light of a century-long history of U.S. use of mercenary and clandestine forces throughout the world. It shows the multiple ways of mercenary war as a means of concealing military intervention from public view. The Bush administration carried these practices to extreme levels, particularly in financing organizations which profit from war and hence are dedicated to its perpetuation.

    • It’s Not the Koran, It’s Us

      The corporate media chorus willfully ignores that U.S. actions, not Islam, fuel jihadism.

    • Ukraine’s Year of Precarious Triumph [Revisionism]
    • 153 killed by drone strikes in Pakistan in 2014

      At least 153 people have been killed in 25 U.S. drone strikes in Pakistan’s restless tribal belt in 2014, according to figures from a Pakistan-based think tank.

    • Peace Activist Kathy Kelly Heads to Prison for Protesting U.S. Drone War

      Peace activist Kathy Kelly is about to begin a three-month prison sentence for protesting the U.S. drone war at a military base in Missouri earlier this year. Kelly, along with another activist, was arrested after offering bread and an indictment against drone warfare. Kelly is the co-coordinator of Voices for Creative Nonviolence, a campaign to end U.S. military and economic warfare.

    • Gaza’s children struggle to overcome nightmares of war

      Muntasser survived an Israeli strike on Gaza this summer which killed his young brother and three cousins. Five months and a suicide attempt later the Palestinian boy remains haunted by the memory.

      Just a week into the deadly 50-day July-August war, two Israeli missiles slammed into a beach in Gaza City where Muntasser Bakr, 11, was playing football with relatives.

    • The latest blockbuster from CIA Pictures: The Interview

      Co-directors Seth Rogen (who also plays a leading role) and Evan Goldberg and screenwriter Dan Sterling have created a work that consists largely of a series of unconnected vulgar jokes and gags strung over a plot that glorifies state murder. One of the sharper characterizations of the film is to be found in the emails from Sony executives, who panned The Interview as “desperately unfunny and repetitive.” The studio officials termed the film “another misfire” by Rogen and [actor James] Franco, in which “Franco proves once again that irritation is his strong suit.”

    • Stranger than Fiction: The Interview and U.S. Regime-Change Policy Toward North Korea

      Representations of North Korea as a buffoon, a menace, or both on the American big screen are at least as old and arguably as tired as the George W. Bush-era phrase, “the axis of evil.” Along with the figure of the Muslim “terrorist,” hackneyed Hollywood constructions of the “ronery” or diabolical Dr. Evil-like North Korean leader bent on world domination, the sinister race-bending North Korean spy, the robotic North Korean commando, and other post-Cold War Red/Yellow Peril bogeymen have functioned as go-to enemies for the commercial film industry’s geopolitical and racist fantasies. Explaining why the North Korean leader was the default choice for the villain in his 2014 regime-change comedy, The Interview, Seth Rogen has stated, “It’s not that controversial to label [North Korea] as bad. It’s as bad as it could be.”1 Indeed, one-dimensional caricatures of North Korea flourish in the Western media in no small part because “[w]acky dictators sell.”2 Yet when it comes to Hollywood’s North Korean regime-change narratives, the line between fact and fiction, not to mention the distinction between freedom of expression and government propaganda, is revealingly thin. Whether in Hollywood or Washington, the only permissible narrative for North Korea is what Donald Macintyre, former Seoul bureau chief for Time magazine, has called “the demonization script.”3 Not only have the dream machines of the entertainment industry long played an instrumental role within American theaters of war, but also, U.S. officials and political commentators often marshal the language of entertainment—for example, the description of U.S.-South Korea combined military exercises as “war games” and the Obama administration’s references to the Pentagon’s “playbook” with regard to North Korea—when describing U.S. military maneuvers on and around the Korean peninsula.

    • CIA releases statement on the 5 year anniversary of the murder of seven CIA agents in Afghanistan

      The suicide bomber had been recruited as a CIA informant and taken to Afghanistan to infiltrate the upper ranks of al-Qaeda. For months, he provided the Agency with independently verifiable intelligence on the terrorist network, and he promised to lead the CIA to the group’s most senior members. Instead, the asset was an al-Qaeda double agent…”

    • Ecuador: CIA justifies Reyes ‘targeting’ in 2008

      According to a secret study released by the WikiLeaks group on Dec. 18, the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) considers the killing of Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) second-in-command Raúl Reyes by Colombian forces in Ecuadorian territory on Mar. 1, 2008 an example of ways that assassinations of rebel leaders “can play a useful role.” In addition to the Reyes case, the paper reviews the use of “high-value targeting (HVT)”—the killing or capture of top leaders—in fighting rebels in Afghanistan, Algeria, Colombia, Iraq, Israel, Peru, Northern Ireland and Sri Lanka. HTV can have “negative effects,” the study concludes, but the practice can “contribute to successful counterinsurgency outcomes” if used strategically. The July 9, 2009 study, marked “secret” and “NOFORN” (“no foreign nationals”), is entitled “Making High-Value Targeting Operations an Effective Counterinsurgency Tool”; it apparently forms part of a “Best Practices in Counterinsurgency” series.

      Reyes, the FARC’s chief spokesperson and negotiator, was killed when the Colombian military launched a nighttime air raid and then an incursion against a rebel encampment in Ecuador’s northeastern Sucumbíos province about three kilometers from the Colombian border. Some 19 FARC members were killed in the operation, as were four Mexican students who had been visiting the encampment while in Ecuador to attend a leftist conference. Although the Colombian government and the media treated the attack as a simple raid against a group of rebels, the CIA study refers to it as part of a number of “successful HVT strikes against top insurgent leaders in early 2008, in conjunction with earlier strikes against second and third-tier leaders and finance and logistics specialists.” Reyes’ death “is likely to have seriously damaged FARC discipline and morale, even among its leadership, according to a CIA field commentary.” As an example of the operation’s success, the CIA noted that “[p]ublic support for the Colombian government solidified in the wake of the killing…with President Alvaro Uribe’s approval rating increasing from the mid-70% range to as high as 84%.”

  • Finance

    • Police dismantle soup kitchen for London homeless, evict activists

      Social justice activists determined to feed the homeless have faced eviction for the second time following their attempts to open a soup kitchen in Westminster, in the heart of London. They were forcibly ousted by police Tuesday night.

      Following their eviction from a listed Victorian building near Trafalgar Square they had been occupying in the run-up to Christmas, the group decided to set up a soup kitchen outside.

      Since December 25, they had been distributing food, coffee and tea outside the vacant offices to people sleeping rough on the streets of London.

    • American Democracy Under Threat for 250 Years

      But these old works do invite us to live questions that they lived, which many of us had complacently forgotten, and which Pikettymania was an effort to remember. These are the inescapable questions of a world where the economy, including global ecology, does not take care of itself, and where it may come into conflict with democracy. They are questions for a world where we need to get clearer on what we mean by democracy, and what we lose when we neglect or betray it.

    • French ‘rock-star’ economist Thomas Piketty refuses country’s highest honor

      France’s star economist Thomas Piketty, who shot to fame and topped best-seller lists in 2014 with his controversial book on wealth and inequality, has declined the country’s highest award, the Legion d’Honneur, local media said on Thursday.

      “I refuse this nomination because I don’t think it’s up to a government to say who is honorable,” Piketty told AFP news agency. “They would do better to focus on reviving growth in France and Europe.”

  • PR/AstroTurf/Lobbying

    • Brands pay Twitter to falsely appear in your following list

      A Twitter advertising technique is perturbing people. Promoted brands like MasterCard and IFC are appearing in the list of accounts some users follow, even if they don’t actually follow them.

      Sources familiar with the company’s advertising strategy tell me this has been occurring since early 2013, but the public has only just now cottoned onto it thanks to actor William Shatner (of Star Trek fame). Shatner brought attention to it after he saw that “MasterCard” appeared in his following list despite the fact that he didn’t follow it. He did a little investigation and discovered that the same promoted account appeared on Dwayne Johnson’s follower list, looking a little out of place given “The Rock” only followed one other account.

    • Murdoch, Scaife and CIA Propaganda

      The rapid expansion of America’s right-wing media began in the 1980s as the Reagan administration coordinated foreign policy initiatives with conservative media executives, including Rupert Murdoch, and then cleared away regulatory hurdles, reports Robert Parry.

  • Censorship

    • Air Canada Blocks Access To Any Google Hosted RSS Feed (Including Techdirt) For No Good Reason

      The block here is clearly not directed at Techdirt, but rather at Google’s Feedproxy service — which was formerly Feedburner, a company Google bought years ago. Many, many, many sites that have RSS feeds use Google’s service as it makes it much easier to manage your RSS feed and to do some basic analytics on it.

      In this case, it appears that Air Canada has (for reasons unknown) wasted good money on a company called “Datavalet” which offers “Guest Access Management” for companies who offer WiFi access to customers. Datavalet proudly highlights Air Canada and famed Canadian donut chain Tim Hortons among its customers.

    • China Echoes America’s NSA in Fresh Crackdown on Gmail

      Some users were also able to access Gmail via cell phone clients on Google’s Android, the top mobile operating system in China.

  • Privacy

    • The Android Apps That Collect the Most Data on You

      Apps often need permission to access other stuff on your phone to work. What is less obvious is the breadth of information collected, and why it gets scooped up. Vocativ put together a list of common permissions from popular Android apps, calling it a “barometer of what app makers think they can get away with.”

    • How Facebook Killed Our Class Reunion

      I remember being excited senior year of high school when thinking about our future class reunion. My excitement stemmed from a movie I had watched. In the movie, the star was the ugly duckling growing up. When he arrived at his class reunion, he was a rich hunk with a gorgeous bride. I couldn’t wait to be “that guy”. I also couldn’t wait for all of the “popular kids” to show up at this future class reunion fat and strung out. It was going to be GREAT.

      As it turns out, I was entirely wrong. NOBODY showed up at our class reunion. Because we never had one. And I blame Facebook. The social media giant has helped us all become closer apart.

    • Tor de farce: NSA fails to decrypt anonymised network

      A new round of NSA documents snatched by master blabbermouth Edward Snowden appeared online late on Sunday, revealing spooks’ internet security pet hates.

      The latest dump of PDFs published by Der Spiegel appeared to show what the Five Eyes surveillance buddies – the USA, the UK, Australia, Canada and New Zealand – see as obstacles posed by internet security protocols.

    • Snowden files reveal NSA had ‘major problems’ tracking Tor dark web users and cracking encryption

      Although it’s now well known that US spy agency NSA and its British cousin GCHQ were able to monitor, collect, and analyse our digital communications, a new report reveals which encrypted programmes gave the spy agencies a headache.

    • Leaked NSA Documents Reveal The Best Way To Stay Anonymous Online

      It’s not easy to truly be anonymous online. Sure, there are plenty of chat apps and secret-sharing sites that claim to offer you privacy, but it’s tricky to know whether US intelligence agencies have a backdoor in them or not.

      The best way to stay anonymous online has been to use Tor, a special kind of web browser developed to help US government employees hide their tracks online.

    • Leaked NSA Documents Reveal How To Hide From The NSA

      If you want a truly anonymous life, then maybe it’s time you learned about Tor, CSpace and ZRTP.

      These three technologies could help people hide their activities from the National Security Agency, according to NSA documents newly obtained from the archive of former contractor Edward Snowden by the German magazine Der Spiegel.

    • Latest Snowden Revelations Expose Scope Of NSA Interceptions

      But perhaps more significantly, the revelations culled from the trove of documents leaked by Edward Snowden show the forms of encryption the NSA struggled to break (at least at the time of the documents in 2012). That list includes PGP, Tor, CSpace, OTR and ZRTP.


      Another alarming statistic from the article is the number of https connections, the type of secure connections used by sites like Facebook, that the agency intercepts. One document showed that by late 2012, the NSA was cracking 10 million such connections a day.

    • EFF: What we learned about NSA spying in 2014 and what we’re fighting to expose in 2015

      After a banner year for shedding light on the NSA’s secret surveillance programs in 2013, the pace of disclosures in 2014 — both from whistleblowers and through Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuits — slowed significantly.

    • Google tells WikiLeaks about emails it handed to NSA two years ago

      Google delivered a boob of a Christmas present to WikiLeaks by informing the organisation that it turned over an email account to the National Security Agency [NSA] following a request over two years ago.

      A Twitter post by WikiLeaks stated that Google contacted the group on Christmas Eve to inform them the Gmail mailboxes and account metadata of an employee were handed over to law enforcement authorities after a US federal warrant had been issued, Ars Technica reports.

    • If the Supreme Court tackles the NSA in 2015, it’ll be one of these five cases

      Roughly a year and a half since the first Snowden disclosures, there’s already been a judicial order to shut down the National Security Agency’s bulk metadata collection program.

      The lawsuit filed by Larry Klayman, a veteran conservative activist, would essentially put a stop to unchecked NSA surveillance. And at the start of 2015, he remains the only plaintiff whose case has won when fighting for privacy against the newly understood government monitoring. However, it’s currently a victory in name only—the judicial order in Klayman was stayed pending the government’s appeal.

    • This privacy-protecting app cocktail is the NSA’s worst nightmare

      The agency has identified one anonymity method that’s impossible to crack. By combining several services including Tor, VPNs, CSpace and ZRTP, Internet users would give the NSA a “catastrophic” headache, as their communications would be virtually impossible to intercept.

      This cocktail leads to a “near-total loss/lack of insight to target communications, presence,” as the NSA explains.

    • NSA has VPNs in Vulcan death grip—no, really, that’s what they call it

      The National Security Agency’s Office of Target Pursuit (OTP) maintains a team of engineers dedicated to cracking the encrypted traffic of virtual private networks (VPNs) and has developed tools that could potentially uncloak the traffic in the majority of VPNs used to secure traffic passing over the Internet today, according to documents published this week by the German news magazine Der Speigel. A slide deck from a presentation by a member of OTP’s VPN Exploitation Team, dated September 13, 2010, details the process the NSA used at that time to attack VPNs—including tools with names drawn from Star Trek and other bits of popular culture.

    • NSA’s Vulcan Death Grip on VPNs
    • What’s in the files the NSA dribbled out after its Xmas dump?

      Patrick writes, “The NSA dumped its IOB reports on Christmas Eve, except that it was short 15 files, I pointed that out, next dump was silent but an additional 12 files, I pointed out the three missing files, and as of today, the three extra files were added, but the extra 3 files have a different naming convention.”

    • NSA IOB Dump Finally Complete!

      The “Christmas Eve” NSA file dump that you will see reported at: NSA Waited Until Christmas Eve To Release Details Of Its Illegal Surveillance On Americans, What you need to know about the NSA document dump, and, U.S. Spy Agency Reports Improper Surveillance of Americans, repeated by various other sources, which never mentioned the dump being incomplete, is now complete.

      I reported in Merry Christmas From the NSA! Missing Files about 15 missing files, which by my report of: NSA IOB Report Dump – Still Missing Files had become 3 missing files and when I checked today, the NSA file dump is complete, all being silent corrections to the file dump.

    • The NSA’s Ongoing Efforts to Hide Its Lawbreaking

      Every quarter, the National Security Agency generates a report on its own lawbreaking and policy violations. The reports are classified and sent to the President’s Intelligence Oversight Board. It’s unclear what happens once they get there.

    • A New Year’s resolution for Obama: Dismantle the NSA

      Here’s a perfect New Year’s resolution: Let’s abolish the National Security Agency and prosecute its agents for spying on us. It’s perfect because it’s the right thing to do — and because it’s a promise that’s probably impossible to keep.

      On Christmas Eve, the NSA, complying with a Freedom of Information Act request from the American Civil Liberties Union, released documents showing that intelligence agents used the incredible resources of the NSA to spy on their wives, husbands, and girlfriends.

    • New Documents Reveal What the NSA Can’t Crack Yet
    • Tor, TrueCrypt, Tails topped the NSA’s ‘most wanted’ list in 2012

      Three out of three? That could be the score for the U.S. National Security Agency’s cryptographic “most wanted” list of 2012.

      In January 2012, it saw Internet traffic anonymizing tool Tor (The Onion Router), Linux distribution Tails (The Amnesic Incognito Live System) and disk encryption system TrueCrypt as the biggest threats to its ability to intercept Internet traffic and interpret other information it acquires.

      Since then, flaws have been found in Tor and the FBI has unmasked Tor users and a vulnerability was found in Tails allowing attackers to determine users’ IP addresses.

      And while a source-code audit gave TrueCrypt a relatively clean bill of health in April, TrueCrypt’s anonymous developers inexplicably abandoned the software a few weeks later, warning it was insecure.

    • Tor, TrueCrypt, Tails topped the NSA’s ‘most wanted’ in 2012, per newly revealed Snowden leaks
    • New Snowden Documents Reveal That The NSA Can’t Hack Everyone
    • New NSA leaks: does crypto still work?

      Some of the new leaks imply that the NSA is able to compromise core cryptographic Internet protocols like TLS and IPSEC. This is scary news indeed: if the underlying mathematics of crypto are compromised, then in some important sense, all bets are off. But as Green shows, the NSA does not appear to be attacking the math: instead, it has infiltrated and subverted big companies in order to steal their cryptographic certificates, which means that the companies can’t be trusted, but the math can be (probably).

    • Infiltrate the NSA

      The story of John Ashcroft and James Comey’s hospital-bed heroics has by now been told many times. On March 10, 2004, President Bush’s White House counsel, Alberto Gonzales, and chief of staff, Andrew Card, went to the intensive care unit of George Washington University Hospital to try to persuade the ill attorney general, Ashcroft, to sign off on continuing massive collection of Americans’ Internet “metadata,” a program started in October 2001. Comey, then the deputy attorney general, had refused to reauthorize the program; its most recent authorization was scheduled to expire the next day. Comey got to his boss first, and Ashcroft refused to sign. Though pushed hard by Gonzales and Card, and also by Vice President Dick Cheney and his counsel, David Addington, Comey and several of his Department of Justice colleagues stood their ground and declined to ratify this domestic metadata collection based on the president’s bare say-so.

    • NSA spying in Vienna detailed at Chaos meet

      Austrian journalist Erich Möchel delivered a presentation in Hamburg at the annual meeting of the Chaos Computer Club on Monday December 29, detailing the various locations where the US NSA has been actively collecting and processing electronic intelligence in Vienna.

    • Despite Backlash, German Govt Still Working With NSA

      The Edward Snowden leaks and the revelation of wholesale NSA surveillance of the entire planet hit a lot of people hard, but particularly in Germany, where the public knows all too well the dangers of a surveillance state. The backlash was huge, and the German government promised major changes to their relationship with the US spies.

    • Backlash in Berlin over NSA spying recedes as threat from Islamic State rises

      In a crescendo of anger over American espionage, Germany expelled the CIA’s top operative, launched an investigation of the vast U.S. surveillance programs exposed by Edward Snowden and extracted an apology from President Barack Obama for the years that U.S. spies had reportedly spent monitoring German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s cellphone.

    • Online privacy and the Edward Snowden documentary

      Laura Poitras’ new documentary about mega-leaker Edward Snowden, “Citizenfour,” makes no pretense at being evenhanded. It’s a polemic against the National Security Agency’s effort to spy on people in the United States and around the world – innocent, guilty, or simply suspect – all in the name of national security.

    • Topeka man, 89, files suit against Edward Snowden, documentary producers

      When Horace Edwards saw a recent showing of the documentary “Citizenfour,” which chronicles former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden’s leak of classified documents, he was aghast.

    • Secret report cited in NSA surveillance lawsuit, gov’t silent on its existence

      Civil rights and federal attorneys sparred at a hearing over a case involving domestic dragnet surveillance by the federal government. The plaintiffs argued the searches are illegal, while the government said opponents don’t have enough evidence to know.

      The hearing, requested by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) for a partial summary judgment, concerns the class action lawsuit, Jewel v. NSA, which was filed six years ago. It claims the National Security Agency (NSA) acquired AT&T customers’ e-mail and other data using surveillance devices attached to the company’s network.

    • Snowden reveals how to go ‘level 5′, give the NSA fits

      Civil rights and federal attorneys sparred at a hearing over a case involving domestic dragnet surveillance by the federal government. The plaintiffs argued the searches are illegal, while the government said opponents don’t have enough evidence to know.

      The hearing, requested by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) for a partial summary judgment, concerns the class action lawsuit, Jewel v. NSA, which was filed six years ago. It claims the National Security Agency (NSA) acquired AT&T customers’ e-mail and other data using surveillance devices attached to the company’s network.

    • Prying Eyes: Inside the NSA’s War on Internet Security

      When Christmas approaches, the spies of the Five Eyes intelligence services can look forward to a break from the arduous daily work of spying. In addition to their usual job — attempting to crack encryption all around the world — they play a game called the “Kryptos Kristmas Kwiz,” which involves solving challenging numerical and alphabetical puzzles. The proud winners of the competition are awarded “Kryptos” mugs.

  • Civil Rights

    • The law will protect any member of Congress who releases the full torture report. Someone needs to step up

      In 1971, I entered the full text of the top-secret Pentagon Papers – a history of how the US became mired in the swamp of the Vietnam War – into the Congressional Record, even as the Federal Bureau of Investigation was hunting for Daniel Ellsburg (who gave the papers to the New York Times) and President Richard Nixon and his Justice Department were filing injunctions against newspapers to prevent their publication. Subsequent case law affirmed that members of Congress may reveal any government “secret” to the public without fear of prosecution because of the “Speech and Debate” clause of the constitution, from which members derive their duty to inform the people about the actions of their government.

    • Off-Duty Cop Wrestles, Slams Woman Into Car After Fender-Bender

      After video of a man wrestling a woman and throwing her against a car came to light Tuesday, the San Jose Police Department issued a warrant – for the woman’s arrest.

      Of course the man “being assaulted” was none other than an off-duty San Jose Cop in plainclothes. The officer reportedly approached the woman – without identifying himself as a police officer – after a fender bender between their cars.

    • The Dissenter’s Top Films of 2014

      Steve Rogers, who is Captain America (Chris Evans), awakens from decades of suspended animation, to find himself in the present day when the global war on terrorism is being waged. He works for SHIELD, a powerful paramilitary spy agency that now has military drones called “hellicarriers,” which allow for assassination. As Rogers says, “I thought the punishment usually came after the crime.” Part of the reason why the agency has turned to assassination is because the agency was infiltrated, and Captain America spends the movie dealing with this.

    • Police: Man was locking, not stealing from cars

      It seemed an unlikely excuse from a man suspected of breaking into cars at an auto yard. But police say it appears a Norwalk man was being truthful when he insisted he was just checking the vehicles to make sure they were locked.

      Employees at Coating’s Auto Body caught 20-year-old Alexander Louis Friday and held him for police.

    • An Open Letter to People Who Think the Police Accountability Movement is Built on Hate

      This is a message to Allen Clifton, co-founder of Forward Progressives, and anyone else who labels the police accountability movement dangerous and hateful. Us “anti-government activists” as you called us, protesters, cop watchers, cop blockers, members of the civil rights movement; we are not hate groups as you recently proclaimed, despite being thoroughly told you are wrong in the comment section of your own article. You join the ranks of other “journalists” like Bill O’Reilly who recently attacked Cop Block and others who film the police.

    • The CIA Phoenix Program: US Government is No Stranger to Torture

      From 1967 to 1971, the Central Intelligence Agency ran a secret government operation called Phoenix. (4) At the time, the program was classified and, due to the unpopularity of the Vietnam War, it received wide public scrutiny. In fact, many war protesters called it an illegal assassination program. (5)

      The Phoenix Program’s official stated purpose was to gather intelligence on the communist Viet Cong and share that information with South Vietnamese military and government leaders. The program has been heralded a success due to its ability to “gain detailed knowledge about the Viet Cong and to disrupt that organization”. (5) So what does “disrupt” mean, exactly?

      To many detractors, it means exactly what it sounds like: assassination. In fact, the program is known to have resulted in about 20,000 deaths. (4)

      One of those is a South Vietnamese interpreter by the name of Thai Khac Chuyen. (6) Chuyen was accused of being a double agent and killed by six Special Forces soldiers in 1969, but those soldiers were never held accountable for their actions because U.S. political leaders didn’t want key witnesses to testify. Therefore, a trial for the soldiers could not be staged. This event led to Daniel Ellsberg copying key documents and releasing them to the press.

      Rightly or wrongly, the U.S. developed a reputation for murder on the battlefield, an irony not lost on political conservatives who have criticized journalists for losing the Vietnam War merely by reporting on ugly incidents like Chuyen’s assassination, and his treatment prior, and the My Lai Massacre. (7)

    • Report Implicates U.S. In Brazilian Dictatorship’s Torture Practices

      The scope of CIA torture revealed in this week’s Senate Intelligence Committee report has come as a shock to many, but America’s involvement with torture predates the terrorist attacks on 9/11. This week Brazil published its very own torture report as part of an investigation into the crimes perpetrated during the country’s 21 year-long U.S. backed military dictatorship. It confirms what historians have been writing about for years: that torture and other human rights abuses were systemic within the regime, and that the military received extensive training by the U.S. and the U.K. on torture and other repressive techniques.

    • CIA Torture’s Immeasurable Damage to U.S. Global Leadership

      Last month’s revelations about CIA torture have hurt U.S. credibility worldwide. The Senate Intelligence Committee’s report on CIA Interrogation concluded the program “created tensions with U.S. partners and allies…complicating bilateral intelligence relationships.” It said the program caused “immeasurable damage to the United States’ public standing, as well as to the United States’ longstanding global leadership on human rights in general….”

    • Udall Urged to Disclose Full Torture Report

      Sen. Mark Udall has called for the full release of the Senate Intelligence Committee’s report on torture. However, as a still-sitting member of Congress, he has a constitutional protection to read most of the still-secret report on the Senate floor — and a group of intelligence veterans urges him to do just that.

    • The Secret CIA Document That Could Unravel Case For Torture

      As the public grapples with the gruesome realities put forth in the Senate Intelligence Committee’s damning report on the CIA’s torture program, the agency has dug in to defend itself. The CIA claims the torture tactics it used in the years following 9/11 were legal and saved American lives. And despite what the Senate study alleges, the agency insists it never lied about the torture program.

    • Outgoing senator urged to release full CIA torture report

      Calls for Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colorado) to reveal the entire, unredacted CIA torture report have increased, with a group of former intelligence analysts issuing a memo that urges the outgoing legislator to read the report on the Senate floor.

    • Britain’s murky role in CIA torture

      Not long ago, in a bid to find out how effective the CIA really was at counterterrorism, U.S. President Barack Obama released a rabbit into a forest and challenged the agency to find it. The CIA spent months planting informers in the forest, interviewing forest creatures, and examining all the forest intelligence. Nothing. Finally the agency went into the forest and dragged out a soaking wet, badly beaten brown bear screaming: “Okay, okay! I’m a rabbit, I’m a rabbit!”


      For years, the British government denied that its territory had been used for so-called “rendition” flights, in which terror suspects were illegally transported across the globe by the CIA to countries where they could be tortured. It also denied that British intelligence agencies had any involvement or knowledge of the CIA’s brutal program. The denials were supported by an ISC investigation in 2007 that gave the intelligence agencies and government a clean bill of health. The ISC reiterated its findings in 2010. – See more at: http://www.dailystar.com.lb/Opinion/Commentary/2014/Dec-30/282569-britains-murky-role-in-cia-torture.ashx#sthash.I6TN3xGP.dpuf

    • Our New Politics of Torture

      New York Review contributor Mark Danner has been writing about the use of torture by the US government since the first years after September 11. Following the release this month of the Senate’s report on the CIA torture program, Hugh Eakin spoke to Danner about some of the most startling findings of the investigation and what it reveals about the continued political debate surrounding the program.

    • The CIA’s Torture Program Breeds Hate

      Norman Pollack: The antecedent question, not did the CIA deceive these administrations about the efficacy of EITs, but, as the Senate Report claims, were the administrations even aware of the programs? The Senate Report is seeking to give Obama deniability—i.e., that he was kept in the dark—lest he be held accountable for war crimes. I am in no position to judge whether EITs yielded relevant information. But on solidification of security, no; if anything, torture has turned much of the world against America, and has created the basis for the rise of militant groups and the desire for retribution.

    • Nothing ‘awesome’ about CIA torture – Ramzy Baroud

      But CIA torture being a “stain” on an otherwise flawless record doesn’t suffice either. In fact, in some way, this logic is the heart of the problem, since it blocks any attempt at honest reading of whatever “values” Washington stands for, and tries to achieve, using “soft diplomacy” of “rectal feeding.”

      What is equally worrying to what the report has contained is the existing mindset in the US, among the ruling class and the media.

      This reality can be best summarised in the words of a Fox News show co-host, Andrea Tantaros: “The United States of America is awesome, we are awesome,” she exclaimed.

      “The reason they want to have this discussion is not to show how awesome we are. This administration wants to have this discussion to show us how we’re not awesome.”

      With such overriding thoughtless mindset, there is little evidence to show that such “awesomeness” will cease any time soon, even if at the expense of many innocent people. – December 27, 2014.

    • ​Gitmo command ordered inmates chained to ceiling, degraded, tortured – ex-FBI specialist

      The recent CIA torture report revealed the agency’s inhumane practices of interrogation during the War on Terror. However, some people claim the information gathered through torture proved valuable and saved lives – but is that so? Is information gathered this way even reliable? Will the CIA stop its practices now the truth is out? And what about the inmates of Guantanamo Bay? What has been done to them? To find answers to these questions and many more, we speak to former FBI criminal profiler Jim Clemente on Sophie&Co today.

    • View from abroad: US loses moral high ground after CIA report

      When the US Senate report on the CIA’s torture campaign was released recently, the State Department sent out a warning to US missions abroad to beware of a possible backlash. In the event, beyond indignant newspaper editorials, the international reaction has been somewhat muted.

    • There is no debate about torture

      The Senate Intelligence Committee’s scathing torture report not only described the brutality of the CIA’s interrogation methods, but also demonstrated their ineffectiveness. Led by ex-Vice President Dick Cheney, former Bush administration officials have rushed to the airwaves to defend the CIA.

      “I would do it again in a minute,” Cheney said on NBC’s Meet the Press, claiming that Enhanced Interrogation Techniques (EITs) produced “actionable intelligence that kept us safe from attacks”.

    • He was tortured for three years. Now he’s fighting against it — and denouncing the CIA

      Nearly four decades later, Perico Rodriguez recalls his torture. He fought to breathe. Prison guards had blindfolded him and chained him to a bunk-bed. They tied his hands behind his back and shoved his face into a bucket of water.

      The technique was known as El Submarino, a cousin of waterboarding used during Argentina’s “Dirty War”. His lungs, he said, never recovered.

    • Ministers STILL won’t tell truth about torture: Foreign Office refuses to give details of UK meetings with team behind CIA dossier

      Ministers faced fresh accusations of a cover-up last night after refusing to reveal crucial details of British meetings with US politicians investigating CIA torture.

      Home Secretary Theresa May was one of several British politicians and envoys who paid 24 visits to senior members of the Senate Intelligence Committee as it investigated barbaric techniques used on terror suspects.

      The disclosure has fuelled claims that the Government desperately lobbied to keep allegations of Britain’s complicity in torture out of the committee’s damning report

    • Letter: CIA and torture

      Mr. Olszewski states that millions of Americans who died protecting our freedom would have no problem with a little physical and psychological torture.

      I would like to know who or how many of these Americans who died elected him to act as their spokesman regarding their mindsets about torture.

      For your edification, Mr. Olszewski, these fun and games the CIA played resulted in a detainee meeting his death by drowning from hypothermia while being waterboarded. A second detainee died from hypothermia while being handcuffed to his cell wall without any clothing in freezing temperatures.

      We hanged German leaders who were responsible for torturing people, after they were found guilty of these crimes at the Nuremberg trials.

    • Numbers Game: What CIA Torture Report Has Shown (Other Than Torture)

      ‘American people have a right – indeed, a responsibility – to know what was done in their name; how these practices did or did not serve our interests; and how they comported with our most important values,” says John McCain. But he seems to be alone among pro-torture, CIA-supporting politicians.

      Indeed, McCain’s views on the subject seem highly unpopular in the Republican Party. Reactions pretty much sum up to various forms of denial, fear mongering and finger-pointing. ‘This release could endanger the lives of Americans overseas, jeopardize U.S. relations with foreign partners, potentially incite violence, create political problems for our allies, and be used as a recruitment tool for our enemies,’ say Republican Senators Marco Rubio and Jim Risch. One might argue that most of the world suspected the CIA of torture anyways, not to mention a level of anti-American notions in certain parts of the world that have been stable for a long time, but who cares, let’s panic.

    • The Prosecution of the CIA Whistleblower Who Revealed Waterboarding to the World

      CIA Torture Program Whistleblower John Kiriakou was sentenced to 30 months in prison while those he exposed still remain free.

    • Human rights act stops CIA abuses, says former Attorney General
    • Senior Tory defends Human Rights Act as a bastion against abuses like those exposed in the CIA torture report

      Former attorney general Dominic Grieve has said “egregious” behaviour like the CIA torture techniques would not occur in Britain because of the European Convention on Human Rights.

      His intervention comes amid a bitter dispute within the Conservative party over the leadership’s plan to stop British laws being overruled by European judges.

      Mr Grieve has criticised his party’s proposals for a new Bill of Rights which proponents said would give UK courts and Parliament the final say over Europe.

    • European Convention on Human Rights ‘stops egregious acts’
    • Employees who expose wrongdoing pay a price

      When Ilana Greenstein blew the whistle on mismanagement at the CIA, she tried to follow all the proper procedures.

      First, she told her supervisors that she believed the agency had bungled its spying operations in Baghdad. Then, she wrote a letter to the director of the agency.

    • CIA whistleblower being treated like ‘traitor’

      A former CIA case officer has gone public with claims of retaliation against her from the bureau after she tried to report her concerns over the misconduct of colleagues in the intelligence service.

      “I don’t believe in breaking the law, I don’t believe in leaks, I don’t believe in divulging classified information,” stated Ilana Greenstein in a video interview released by McClatchy DC, a Washington-based journalistic bureau on Tuesday. “What I believe in is a good internal system, where people who have concerns can voice those concerns without recrimination.”

    • New developments concerning report on CIA torture

      Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson, who was chief of staff to Secretary of State Colin Powell from 2002 to 2005, accused the CIA of having operated this torture-based conditioning program to fabricated the evidence that provided the rationale for going to war against Iraq [2].

    • Ireland seeks clarification from US on Shannon flights

      Foreign Affairs Minister Charlie Flanagan is seeking clarification from the US government on whether evidence was uncovered in a recent US Senate intelligence committee report of Shannon Airport being used by the CIA for extraordinary rendition.

    • Ireland seeks clarification from US over Shannon

      The Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade has confirmed he is seeking clarification from the US Government whether any evidence of Shannon Airport being used by the CIA for extraordinary rendition was uncovered in a recent U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee report.

      Minister Charlie Flanagan had been asked by Dublin South West Sinn Féin TD Seán Crowe whether he was aware of the report and revelations about CIA torture of detainees.

    • CIA rendition flights and Shannon

      Simon Carswell’s article on Shannon Airport and renditions (“Bush assured Irish State Shannon not used for rendition flights”, December 22nd) provides an important insight into the concerns that two former Irish ministers had in relation to the CIA’s torture and renditions programme.

      Dermot Ahern was minister for foreign affairs and Michael McDowell was minister for justice when a report by Dick Marty for the parliamentary assembly of the Council of Europe identified Ireland and Shannon as a stopover point for rendition flights. Nonetheless the government failed to take decisive action, apart, it would seem, from asking the US government if it was taking prisoners through Shannon. The US government’s response to such questions can hardly have been a surprise to the ministers.

    • U.S. policy hypocrisy evident in CIA torture

      We practiced tortures that we have prosecuted after real war and condemned when used by other countries that could as legitimately claim “national security” as we did. So, it’s not a question of Congress not clearly prohibiting torture, it’s we as a nation allowing our representatives to turn a blind eye to it.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Copyrights

      • What Could Have Entered the Public Domain on January 1, 2015?

        Current US law extends copyright for 70 years after the date of the author’s death, and corporate “works-for-hire” are copyrighted for 95 years after publication. But prior to the 1976 Copyright Act (which became effective in 1978), the maximum copyright term was 56 years—an initial term of 28 years, renewable for another 28 years. Under those laws, works published in 1958 would enter the public domain on January 1, 2015, where they would be “free as the air to common use.” Under current copyright law, we’ll have to wait until 2054.1 And no published works will enter our public domain until 2019. The laws in other countries are different—thousands of works are entering the public domain in Canada and the EU on January 1.

Microsoft’s Attacks on Android and GNU/Linux Not Over Yet, But They Are Definitely Failing

Posted in Apple, Microsoft, Patents at 12:35 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Sleight of hand and litigation by proxy don’t work

A performer

Summary: The Rockstar patents sale and the final defeat suffered by SCO serve to show that Microsoft cannot beat Free/libre software using aggression and underhanded tactics

Microsoft’s attempts to crush GNU/Linux culminated with the Novell deal in 2006. Microsoft tried to make the competition its own, but it never worked because people antagonised Novell and no large company really followed Novell’s footsteps. Novell is now essentially dead, much like other Microsoft ‘partners’.

“This isn’t happening because Apple and Microsoft decided to play nicer.”Over a decade ago Microsoft paid SCO when it attacked Linux. This was similar to what Novell later did with Microsoft because both used a form of monopoly, either copyrights or patents. Microsoft subsidised anti-GNU/Linux campaigns that did cause a lot of damage. In neither case, however, were the claims valid and both campaigns failed after years or endless struggle, hinged to a great degree on the goodwill of the Free software community.

Simon Sharwood from The Register wrote about a fortnight ago about Groklaw, which had silently become a bit active again, for the first time in many months. Sharwood wrote: “IBM has had a win in its long court battle with SCO over just who owns Unix and, by extension, whether Linux is an unauthorised clone.

“Some quick and simplified history: SCO – short for The Santa Cruz Operation – was a software company that offered a version of Unix for x86 chippery. When Linux came along in the late 90s and started turning into a business, SCO more or less sank and it attacked both Novell and IBM for their role in helping to spread Linus Torvalds’ brainchild. At stake was whether those who distribute and profit from Linux should share some of their bounty with SCO. If a court had found in SCO’s favour, it would have been bad news for Linux.

“The Novell suit ran for about six years, but SCO lost. After that, SCO endured all manner of financial strife, but managed to crawl from the crypt more than once. Last year, SCO managed to secure approval to re-open the case against IBM.”

Robert Pogson wrote about that too:

It’s nice to know that GROKLAW is not dead, just hibernating. Maybe spring will wake it up. Surely there’s some legal case interesting enough to fire it up, like world v Obamacare, or world v N. Korea, or … Of course, now that M$ loves */Linux and Apple has acknowledged that round corners are not innovative there are fewer lawsuits in the world but until all those who fought GNU/Linux for two decades die of old age, there’s still hope they will seek to humiliate themselves in the courts.

This serves to remind us that the Microsoft-backed copyright attack on Linux took well over a decade to be over. This induced a huge toll and Microsoft continues to attack Linux, usually by proxy. Here for example is the Microsoft booster Ina Fried attacking Linux again. He or she (used to be called Ian) has found a way to make the most popular OS (Android) sound like a failure. It’s ugly spin like that which we see other Microsoft boosters spreading in the media (some of them used to work directly for Microsoft or are still working for Microsoft). Watch BGR trolling (clickbait) with one person’s account to make Android sound undesirable [1, 2]. These are fights that are fought with words, but Microsoft goes much further than this. A couple of years ago Microsoft and its proxies tried to cause Android to come under antitrust trouble, but they have failed based on reports. To quote The Register: “A US District Court judge has cast doubt on an antitrust lawsuit filed against Google, describing the damages sought as “speculative.”

“The class-action suit filed earlier this year alleges that Google engages in illegal anti-competitive behavior by requiring makers of Android smartphones to bundle its search app on their devices.”

Remember that this all came from Microsoft. We wrote several articles to show this and so did other sites. In addition to legal attacks through regulators Microsoft has been attacking Android through patent trolls (Microsoft has just given another $23,000,000 to patent troll VirnetX) and patent holders which still have some products. Several examples have been given over the years and the legal assaults are far from over.

The Open Invention Network, which defends Linux (and other related projects) from patent attacks, recently gave this interview to ECT. The Open Invention Network’s CEO Keith Bergelt said that “we had to create channels for collaboration. Otherwise, we would have hundreds of entities spending billions of dollars on the same technology.” It’s not “technology” that he is alluding to when he talks about it; it’s a parable for patents.

As GNU/Linux is becoming a massive player in the fastest-growing markets, notably mobile, no wonder Microsoft now mostly attacks Android and strives to derive revenue from it (or create fear through perception that Microsoft derives revenue from it). Windows is a complete disaster in this area. Ahonen explains how bad things are in his article that he titled “Microsoft (and Nokia) have only achieved 50M Lumia activations? Seriously? Out of 76M shipments? What happened to the other 26M? Seriously! Tossed into garbage by retail?”

Ahonen, a Nokia expert, says that “30% of all Windows Phone based Lumia smartphones shipped have not been activated. That must be an industry record for futility. [...] the product line was a sales disaster. ”

Microsoft’s patent strategy against Android is clearly not succeeding. Even a Microsoft lobbyist, Florian Müller, wrote about the poor success rates of patent lawsuits against Android and told me today that Rockstar too is part of it all.

“The interesting part about Rockstar is that since they sold 2K patents to shareholders, hard to prove devaluation of rest,” he said to me, “but one can certainly suspect that if they bought 6K patents for $4.5B, sell two thirds for $900M, that there *was* devaluation” (take with a grain of salt given the messenger’s connection to Microsoft and Apple).

There was recently a lot of press coverage about telecom patents and Android because Verizon announced that it entered into a patent licensing agreement with Google (more in [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29]), but a bigger story, especially in FOSS-friendly circles, was the Rockstar story. As FOSS Force put it: “Perhaps the most telling sign of the sinking value of software patents came just a week ago, when the patent trolling company Rockstar, jointly owned by Apple, Microsoft, BlackBerry, Sony, and Ericsson, offloaded it’s approximately 4,000 remaining patents for $900 million — representing about two thirds of the patents it purchased in 2011 for $4.5 billion in a bidding war with Google. Google would seem to have the last laugh here, as it’s a member of RPX, the company buying the patents, meaning they’ll will be available to the search company as protection against patent litigation, which is why they had been a bidder in the first place.”

BlackBerry is becoming a patent troll and RPX is pretty much a troll, albeit one that is not so hostile towards Free software because of its members. Mike Masnick said about the news that the “Stupid Costly Patent Nuclear War By Microsoft & Apple Against Android [was] Averted”. He put it in context as follows: “Last year, Rockstar launched its massive patent attack on Android, suing basically all the major Android phone makers and Google. While some have argued that big company v. big company patent attacks aren’t a form of patent trolling, some of us disagree. This, like most patent trolling, is just trying to extract money from companies and has nothing to do with actual innovation. In the tech world, some have referred to this kind of thing as “privateering” in which a big company puts the patents into a shell company to hide their trolling activity.”

Joe Mullin said that “Apple and Microsoft spent $4.5 billion on a patent attack, sold it at a loss.”

“Another skirmish in the ongoing dirty war by the legacy technology & media industry against Google bites the dust,” wrote Simon Phipps, adding to many more articles (even some from Android-hostile networks) that framed this — quite correctly — as an assault on Android:

Apple- and Microsoft-backed patent group ends its war on Android

And just like that, the Rockstar Consortium’s lawsuit campaign against Android is over. The patent holding group (backed by Apple, BlackBerry, Ericsson, Microsoft and Sony) has sold all of its commonly held patents to clearinghouse RPX for $900 million, or a fraction of the $4.5 billion the total patent pool was worth a few years ago. Rockstar will accordingly drop the lawsuits that it still had left, including those leveled against HTC, LG and Samsung. Don’t worry that RPX will promptly turn around and sue someone else, either. It already has a deal to license those patents for defensive purposes to a group of 30-plus companies, including Google and Cisco, while the Rockstar companies get to keep their licenses.

This isn’t happening because Apple and Microsoft decided to play nicer. It is happening because they repeatedly fail to defeat Android/Linux using patents, especially now that software patents are becoming a lot weaker in the United States — a subject we shall cover in our next post.

The Threat of Mono is Not Entirely Over Yet

Posted in Deception, Free/Libre Software, GNOME, Microsoft, Mono, Novell at 11:38 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

The risk of Microsoft’s interjection into Free/Open Source software (FOSS) persists

A syringe

Summary: Attempts to put Mono in GNOME still exist (Xamarin behind it) and the openwashing of .NET continues months after the Big Lie

MONO has been a thorn in the side of Free software for nearly a decade, shortly after it had been conceived by a Microsoft fan who used it to promote Microsoft APIs with associated patent risk and lock-in. It wasn’t too shocking to see the Microsoft-tied Novell joining in the ‘fun’. We have spent many years fighting back against Mono, which was an embodiment of Microsoft’s interests and an attempt to assimilate FOSS to Microsoft. The Microsoft proxy now known as Xamarin is still threatening to bring Microsoft APIs to GNOME. We thought GNOME had already salvaged itself from this risk, but the risk persists and it needs to be stopped. It was already defeated before (GNOME was close to becoming Mono-dependent whereupon we wrote many articles to create protests).

The unfortunate thing is that Microsoft bamboozled many journalists into stating that .NET is "open source" (it is not) and a Dice site is trolling again using that same old .NET spin. Do not let the lie be spread so easily. Microsoft’s .NET is proprietary and it still is a patent threat that favours Windows and Microsoft, i.e. proprietary software with back doors.

“It is a propaganda campaign just like “Scroogled” and the goal is to crush software freedom, not just companies like Google.”IDG recently hired a longtime Microsoft booster, Mary Branscombe, letting her spread these lies every week or so. She was openwashing Microsoft the other day as well as several times last month. She used to write in the CBS-owned ZDNet (very poor-quality Microsoft ads disguised as ‘articles’), but now she escapes the boundaries of tabloids and is really doing a lot of damage not only to Free software but to truth itself.

This whole ‘movement’ which tries to ‘sell’ Mono to GNU/Linux, promote the notion that .NET is ‘open’ and Microsoft is wonderfully ethical needs to be crushed. It is a propaganda campaign just like “Scroogled” and the goal is to crush software freedom, not just companies like Google.

EPO Under Fire From European Patent Lawyers Association (EPLAW)

Posted in Europe, Patents at 5:15 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: Even patent lawyers are upset at Benoît Battistelli and his out-of-control tyranny in the European Patent Office

Guillaume, known as EPpatent in Twitter, has drawn our attention to this letter [PDF] from the start of the week. This letter is very important because it shows us that the corrupt EPO is now under fire also from patent lawyers in Europe. They express concern about the way Benoît Battistelli runs the EPO. The Office is rapidly losing its legitimacy. If someone wishes to help by OCR’ing the document below, that would be helpful, albeit EPLAW is mostly rehashing arguments we saw already. Expect Battistelli to be ousted (or step down) soon. His clients and staff both hate him.

EPLAW letter

EPLAW letter

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