01.02.15

Links 2/1/2015: AMD Catalyst Benchmarks, Krita Receives Artist Choice Award

Posted in News Roundup at 4:51 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • January 2015 Issue of Linux Journal: Security

    The Security issue of Linux Journal always makes me feel a little guilty. It turns out that although I have a fairly wide set of technology skills, I’m not the person you want in charge of securing your network or your systems. By default, Linux is designed with a moderate amount of security in mind. For that, I am incredibly grateful. If you struggle with maintaining security in your environment, this issue hopefully will encourage and educate as opposed to making you feel guilty. My goal this year is to learn and be encouraged by the Security issue, not just feel bad.

  • January 2015 Video Preview
  • Guilt by association: Linux Australia members slam others over Williams’ nomination

    At least two members of Linux Australia have criticised the attitude of members who have raised questions about an iTWire staff member who attempted to contest the organisation’s elections.

    Both Noel Butler and Russell Coker took a diametrically opposite position to that of others following the nomination for treasurer by David M. Williams, a columnist for iTWire in the past and an infrequent contributor for the last two or three years.

  • A FOSS Wish List for 2015
  • FOSS’ Shining Moments of 2014

    Well we’re into the last few days of 2014 here in the Linux blogosphere, and fortunately the tequila supplies down at the Broken Windows Lounge continue to hold strong.

    The weather outside may be frightful, but the refreshments — like the software — remain nothing short of delightful.

    It didn’t take long for bloggers to slip into a sentimental mood as they reminisced about the waning year, and a heartening post from Jim Zemlin over at Linux.com only helped things along.

    “2014 was a tipping point where companies decided there was too much software to write for any one company to do it by themselves,” Zemlin wrote. “They are shedding commodity software R&D by investing in ‘external R&D’ with open source.

  • “Average” Users

    Users of GNU/Linux don’t even need to read the GPL to be legal and can probably forget about malware and possibly even firewalls in their homes. They can leave that to the router if at all. The average user doesn’t have to install much software at all as most desktop distros include a web browser that people want to use, multimedia software and an office productivity suite like LibreOffice.

  • Kernel Space

    • Graphics Stack

      • Significant Performance Improvements For RadeonSI LLVM With New Patches

        Tom has landed some measurable RadeonSI LLVM performance improvements to his LLVM branch that provided important code generation features for Southern Islands GPUs and newer (Radeon HD 7000 series and newer). The important code generation features now implemented in his branched AMDGPU LLVM back-end are machine scheduling and sub-reg liveness support. With the current machine scheduler, the schedule model is not yet completed and could be improved further, according to Tom, but the results are already positive.

      • AMD Catalyst Linux OpenGL Driver Now Faster Than Catalyst Windows Driver In Some Tests

        Earlier this week I showed benchmarks of AMD’s incredible year for their open-source Linux driver and how the open-source Radeon Gallium3D driver moved closer to performance parity with Catalyst. One of the lingering questions though is how does the Catalyst 14.12 Omega Linux driver from December compare to the latest Catalyst Windows driver? Here’s some benchmarks looking at the latest open and closed-source drivers on Linux compared to the latest Catalyst Windows release.

        It’s been a while since last delivering a Windows vs. Linux Catalyst comparison at Phoronix, but found the time to be right for going along with our year-end recaps and performance reviews. Earlier this week I also posted the Intel Windows vs. Linux OpenGL performance comparison. The same Core i7 4790K Haswell system was used with this AMD Linux vs. Windows benchmarking. As shared in that Intel article, Windows 8 was being very unstable on this particular system so for all of the testing I had to revert to running Windows 7 rather than Windows 8.1.

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

      • digiKam Recipes 4.3.1 Released

        I ring in the new year with a digiKam Recipes update. This version features two new recipes: Remove Keywords from Photos and Add Web Interface to digiKam with digiKamWebUi. In addition to that, the updated and expanded Deal with Bugs in digiKam recipe now explains how to generate backtraces.

      • Retiring Plasma NN 0.9.0.x
      • Krita Receives Artist Choice Award from ImagineFX

        Make sure to check out the January 2015 issue of ImagineFX where Krita receives the Artist Choice award! That’s appreciation with a vengeance! ImagineFX is the #1 resource for concept artists and illustrators in the entertainment industry. It is a great resource if you are looking to level up your art skills.

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK

      • GNOME Software, GNOME’s App Store, Is Drawing Some Fresh Criticism

        Shouldn’t the GNOME Software “app store” include non-GUI (CLI) packages? That’s one of the questions being asked yet again by users.

        Starting in December and continuing into January are various Fedora development threads of users questioning various GNOME motives with their GNOME Software program. In particular, right now, the GNOME Software application center doesn’t like CLI-only packages for installation but only those with a GUI. Additionally, GNOME Software is limited in showing packages for non-GNOME desktop environments unless certain parameters are set.

      • Introducing GNOME MultiWriter

        I spent last night writing a GNOME application to duplicate a ton of USB devices. I looked at mdcp, Clonezilla and also just writing something loopy in bash, but I need something simple my dad could use for a couple of hours a week without help.

      • GNOME MultiWriter: Easy Duplication Of Many USB Devices

        Richard Hughes’ latest announcement isn’t of another open-source hardware project but rather a new GNOME software application.

  • Distributions

    • Happy New Year & Browser and OS stats for 2014

      LQ ISO recently surpassed 55,000,000 Linux downloads

    • New Releases

      • 4MRescueKit

        4MRescueKit provides its users with software for antivirus protection, data backup, disk partitioning, and data recovery. It is distributed in the form of a multiboot CD, which includes four (extremely small) operating systems. Each of the systems tries to follow the UNIX philosophy (Small is beautiful. Make each program do one thing well).

    • Ballnux/SUSE

    • Red Hat Family

      • Red Hat Work On Improving Glibc Math Performance

        Siddhesh pushed into glibc-2.18 upstream performance improvements of about eight times for the slowest path of the pow function inside glibc. Other functions received significant performance improvements too thanks to improving the multi-precision code-path.

      • Improving math performance in glibc

        Mathematical function implementations usually have to trade off between speed of computation and the accuracy of the result. This is especially true for transcendentals (i.e. the exponential and trigonometric functions), where results often have to be computed to a fairly large precision to get last bit accuracy in a result that is to be stored in an IEEE-754 double variable.

      • Fedora

        • Resolving my slow booting in Fedora 21
        • Let’s Plan Events in EMEA!

          At EMEA FAD in Leverkusen, we started planning events and activities in EMEA for the fiscal year 2016 (starts on March 1, 2015). Right after that, I asked others, who couldn’t attend the FAD, to provide their input. Today, I put it all together on a new wiki page that should help us organize events where we want to promote Fedora in the next year.

    • Debian Family

      • My Debian Activities in December 2014
      • UEFI Debian installer work for Jessie, part 3

        If you have appropriate (U)EFI hardware, please try this image and let me know how you get on, via the debian-cd and debian-boot mailing lists.

      • Derivatives

        • Canonical/Ubuntu

          • Ubuntu-Powered Meizu Smartphone Might Launch This Month

            Much like Xiaomi, Meizu has had a great 2014. The company has launched several great devices which are very affordable at the same time, which let this China-based smartphone manufacturer to sell tons of units. The company has launched not one, but two flagship handsets this year, the Meizu MX4 (September) and MX4 Pro (November). The latest handset this company has launched is the M1 Note handset, or the Blue Note, as it’s called in China. This device was launched quite recently actually and surprised many people by what it has to offer. This is a rather powerful mid-high end handset which costs only 1,999 Yuan (16GB version) in China, which is about $322.

  • Devices/Embedded

    • Phones

      • Tizen

      • Android

        • 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.

        • OnePlus One gets official Android 5.0 Lollipop alpha ROM

          OnePlus has been quietly developing its own Android 5.0 Lollipop based ROM for the OnePlus One. Following the controversy with Cyanogen licensing in India, the company had announced that it will be providing an early build to customers, which will replace the Cyanogen OS on their devices.

        • 16 Essential Apps For Your New Android And iPhone 6

          So you’ve unwrapped, unboxed and cuddled your new smartphone to death. Candy Crush? Check. Instagram? Check. Staring at the screen wide-eyed and full of excitement but have no idea what to do next? Check.

        • How To Migrate From iPhone iOS to Android Without Losing Your Files
        • Verizon Announces Android 4.4.4 KitKat Update is Now Available for Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 10.1

          Android 4.4.4 KitKat update is now available for Verizon’s Samsung Galaxy Tab 4.10.1.

          Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 10.1 owners can now enjoy the perks that comes with the new update. Verizon shared the improvements that come along with the firmware.

          The tablet has now a self activation support and ICC ID information added to Settings. The bugs such as VPN and Chrome cast connectivity issues are fixed. There are also pre loaded applications and services such as Find My Mobile, Kids Mode Widget, Email Widget and My Verizon (10.0.710).

        • One important area where top Android phones crush the iPhone 6

          The iPhone 6 is a spectacular smartphone. I reviewed the iPhone 6 earlier this year and while there are a few things that could certainly be improved, I said that the phone was clearly one of the best smartphones in the world. And it still is. From handset design and build quality to performance and the supporting third-party app ecosystem, the iPhone 6 is a class leader in almost every key area.

Free Software/Open Source

  • Broadwell Support Marching Along For Coreboot

    For months now there’s been Coreboot developers working on Intel Broadwell support (primarily from Google and focused on future Chromebook support). With the start of the new year and hopefully seeing more Broadwell hardware on the market soon, that support is coming along in Coreboot.

  • Events

    • Typoday 2014 At Pune

      This blog was pending on me from long time. I got a chance to attend typoday.in 2014 conference At Symbiosis International University, Viman Nagar, Pune in February. This was the my second conference specifically on typography domain after National workshop on calligraphy and typography in 2007.

  • SaaS/Big Data

    • A year in the life of OpenStack

      What a year for OpenStack! With two shiny new releases, two excellent summits on opposite sides of the Atlantic, countless new features, and an ever-growing community of users and developers, it truly has been a year of progress for OpenStack.

    • Big Data Becomes a Market Force, Ushering in Change

      As reported here earlier, a new KPGM study on cloud computing trends at enterprises shows that executives are very focused on extracting business metrics from their cloud computing and data analytics platforms. That suggests that we’re going to continue to see the cloud and the Big Data trend evolve together this year.

    • How Open Source Can Fix 2015′s Data Entropy

      This will not be a good year for those that believe in human progress. At least, not if enterprise software is any indication.

  • Databases

    • MemSQL adds open-source connector to external data sources

      MemSQL Inc. has returned to the limelight four months after its landmark funding round with the release of an open-source connector for its namesake database that simplifies the process of importing data from external sources. The launch is the latest milestone in the startup’s efforts to remove the barriers that keep information siloed in the enterprise.

      The ability to act on real-time events without any logistical delays is useful in applications ranging from ad optimization to signal intelligence processing. The real-time analytics capability is one of the reasons MemSQL received a capital infusion from the Central Intelligence Agency’s investment arm as part of its September round.

    • MongoDB Set to Gain Additional Momentum in 2015

      With more than 10,000 downloads of MongoDB now occurring daily, many organizations are using MongoDB to consolidate a raft of proprietary document repositories using an inexpensive open source platform that scales significantly higher than its counterparts.

  • BSD

    • FreeBSD Ports 2015Q1 To Bring Many Changes

      The Ports package management system in FreeBSD has seen 6024 commits from 160 individuals in the past quarter. Among the updates for users to find with the FreeBSD Ports 2015Q1 state compared to the last quarterly snapshot is pkg 1.4.3, new keywords and USES, a dependency on LLVM Clang 3.4, Firefox 34, Chrome 39, Python 2.7.9, Ruby 2.0.0.598, GCC 4.8.3, GNOME 3.14, Cinnamon 2.4.5, and X.Org 1.14.

    • Deciso Launches OPNsense, a New Open Source Firewall Initiative

      OPNsense combines the best of open source and closed source firewalls. It brings the rich feature set of commercial offerings with the benefits of open and verifiable sources combined with a simple BSD license. This makes OPNsense the platform of choice for users, developers and commercial partners.

      Companies that want to use OPNsense to create a branded version, extend its features, or even create a fork and build upon the same codebase are allowed to do so under the 2-clause BSD license.

  • Project Releases

    • man-pages-3.76 is released

      I’ve released man-pages-3.76. We’ve just passed 12k commits in the project, and this release, my 158th, marks the completion of my tenth year as maintainer of the man-pages project.

  • Openness/Sharing

Leftovers

  • Sarah Palin posted a photo of her son stepping on their dog for New Year’s

    Palin’s son, Trig, was just trying to help wash the dishes. The dog was lying in front of the sink, so he did what a lot of other kids would probably do. Palin saw a sort of “overcoming all obstacles” message in this and decided to share.

  • Tram delays Manchester’s New Year fireworks
  • Tram delays New Year’s Eve fireworks spectacular

    New Year fireworks in Manchester were delayed by an excruciating four minutes after a tram got in the way of the display.

    Videos show an excited crowd counting down to midnight only for the sky above Picadilly to remain dark.

    “Five, four, three, two one: Let’s have the fireworks!” announces the show’s host – but none follow.

  • New Year’s Eve London fireworks: BBC loses 1.4m viewers in 12 months
  • New year fireworks add sparkle to 12 million viewers’ nights

    More than 12 million viewers watched Big Ben ring in the new year amid a spectacular fireworks display on BBC1 – but it failed to hit the highs of last year’s celebrations.

    The 15-minute New Year’s Eve Fireworks programme had an average of 12.3 million viewers (63%) from 11.55pm, down from 13.7 million viewers (67.5%) for the same broadcast in 2013.

  • Science

    • 7 things Back to the Future predicted for 2015

      In the cult film Back to the Future 2, Doc Brown and Marty McFly land in 2015, a futuristic land of flying cars and hovercrafts. As the New Year dawns, which of their predictions were hits – and misses?

  • Security

    • North Korea/Sony Story Shows How Eagerly U.S. Media Still Regurgitate Government Claims

      The identity of the Sony hackers is still unknown. President Obama, in a December 19 press conference, announced: “We can confirm that North Korea engaged in this attack.” He then vowed: “We will respond. . . . We cannot have a society in which some dictator some place can start imposing censorship here in the United States.”

      The U.S. Government’s campaign to blame North Korea actually began two days earlier, when The New York Times – as usual – corruptly granted anonymity to “senior administration officials” to disseminate their inflammatory claims with no accountability. These hidden “American officials” used the Paper of Record to announce that they “have concluded that North Korea was ‘centrally involved’ in the hacking of Sony Pictures computers.” With virtually no skepticism about the official accusation, reporters David Sanger and Nicole Perlroth deemed the incident a “cyberterrorism attack” and devoted the bulk of the article to examining the retaliatory actions the government could take against the North Koreans.

    • Doxing as an Attack

      Doxing is not new; the term dates back to 2001 and the hacker group Anonymous. But it can be incredibly offensive. In 2013, several women were doxed by male gamers trying to intimidate them into keeping silent about sexism in computer games.

      Companies can be doxed, too. In 2011, Anonymous doxed the technology firm HBGary Federal. In the past few weeks we’ve witnessed the ongoing doxing of Sony.

  • Defence/Police/Secrecy/Aggression

    • JFK and the Cuban Embargo

      Already, we’re hearing that President Obama is a traitor, that he is surrendering America to Fidel Castro and the communists, and betraying the Cuban people and the cause of freedom and democracy for wanting to lift the 54-year-old Cold War-era U.S. embargo against Cuba.

      That is precisely the way that the national-security establishment felt about Kennedy and actually much worse.
      Already, we’re hearing that President Obama is a traitor, that he is surrendering America to Fidel Castro and the communists, and betraying the Cuban people and the cause of freedom and democracy for wanting to lift the 54-year-old Cold War-era U.S. embargo against Cuba.

      That is precisely the way that the national-security establishment felt about Kennedy and actually much worse.

      It began with the CIA’s plan to invade Cuba at the Bay of Pigs in 1961, an invasion that would be carried out by Cuban exiles but secretly funded and directed by the CIA in order to provide U.S. officials with “plausible deniability” with respect to their role in the operation.

      What did that mean? It meant that the CIA would lie to the American people and the world about the U.S, government’s role in the operation. And it would also mean that under the CIA’s plan, the newly elected president would immediately become the nation’s liar-in-chief, a secret that the CIA would obviously have over his head for the rest of his time in office.

      Keep in mind that the CIA plan was concocted before Kennedy got into office. Once Kennedy was sworn in, the CIA presented him with the plan. Kennedy was dumb to go along with it, a point that he later acknowledged. But the fact is that he fell hook, line, and sinker for the CIA’s assurances to him that the invasion would be a smashing success, that the Cuban people would rally against Castro, and that no air U.S. support would be needed.
      It began with the CIA’s plan to invade Cuba at the Bay of Pigs in 1961, an invasion that would be carried out by Cuban exiles but secretly funded and directed by the CIA in order to provide U.S. officials with “plausible deniability” with respect to their role in the operation.

      What did that mean? It meant that the CIA would lie to the American people and the world about the U.S, government’s role in the operation. And it would also mean that under the CIA’s plan, the newly elected president would immediately become the nation’s liar-in-chief, a secret that the CIA would obviously have over his head for the rest of his time in office.

      Keep in mind that the CIA plan was concocted before Kennedy got into office. Once Kennedy was sworn in, the CIA presented him with the plan. Kennedy was dumb to go along with it, a point that he later acknowledged. But the fact is that he fell hook, line, and sinker for the CIA’s assurances to him that the invasion would be a smashing success, that the Cuban people would rally against Castro, and that no air U.S. support would be needed.

    • Austrian filmmaker uncovers apparent secret Nazi nuclear complex

      Documentary filmmaker discoveres 1944 CIA report that revealed the existence of underground atomic weapon program in the area of St. Georgen an der Gusen, according to local media.

    • Secret Nazi nuclear bunker discovered in Austria by filmmaker
    • Nazi nuclear bunker discovered in Austria

      A network of underground tunnels and bunkers used by the Nazis to develop an atomic bomb has been discovered in Austria by a filmmaker.

    • Secret Nazi nuclear weapons testing bunker unearthed in Austria

      An underground weapons bunker built by Nazis to test nuclear and chemical weapons has been unearthed in Austria.

    • Nazis’ vast, secret WMD facility uncovered in Austria

      A huge, secret, underground Nazi weapons factory, believed to have been built for the development and planned manufacture of nuclear weapons and other WMDs, has been uncovered in Austria.

    • Vast secret Nazi ‘terror weapons’ site uncovered in Austria

      A SECRET underground complex built by the Nazis towards the end of World War II that may have been used for the development of weapons of mass destruction, including a nuclear bomb, has been uncovered in Austria.

    • Secret WWII WMD factory found — Was Hitler testing nuclear bomb?

      St. Georgen an der Gusen is a small market town in Upper Austria. Quiet and picturesque, it’s hard to imagine that during WWII, it was selected to be the business center for the SS in exploiting slave labor. Now another secret have been unearthed.

    • Secret Nazi Nuclear Complex Used to Try to Build Atomic Bomb Discovered in Austria

      A Nazi nuclear bunker was discovered in Austria under a large weapons factory.

      The complex, which features a network of tunnels and bunkers used by the Nazis to try to to build an atomic bomb, was discovered in Austria by filmmaker Andreas Sulzer.

    • Filmmaker Finds Nazi Atomic Bomb Research Bunker

      A filmmaker has found a secret network of underground bunkers used by the Nazis to develop an atomic bomb.

      Located in the hills surrounding the Austrian town of St. Georgen an der Gusen, the vast site covers an area of up to 75 acres. It is believed that it could be connected to the nearby Bergkristall factory, an underground facility where Nazi scientists and engineers developed the Messerschmitt ME 262, the world’s first jet powered fighter plane.

    • Secret Underground Nazi WMD Factory Found: Report

      Suspiciously high radiation levels around the Austrian town of St. Georgen an der Gusen had long fueled theories that there was a buried bunker nearby where Nazis had tested nuclear weapons during WWII. Those suspicions came one step closer to being confirmed last week after the opening of a 75-acre underground complex was dug out from below the earth and granite used to seal off the entrance, the Times of Israel reports. The excavation team was led by Austrian filmmaker Andreas Sulzer, who says the site was “likely the biggest secret weapons production facility of the Third Reich”—a facility that probably relied on forced labor from the nearby Mauthausen-Gusen concentration camp and may have even been the testing location for a nuclear bomb, the Daily Mirror reports.

    • Filmmaker says he uncovered Nazis’ ‘biggest secret weapons facility’ underground near concentration camp

      An Austrian filmmaker believes he has discovered a huge Nazi “secret weapons facility” in an underground complex near the remains of the Mathausen-Gusen concentration camp in Austria, where thousands of Jews were killed.

    • Secret Nazi Nuclear Plant Discovered in Austria

      Austrian documentary filmmaker Andreas Sulzer found the 75-acre complex just outside the small town of St. Georgen an der Gusen, near Linz. This site is not far from the Bergkristall factory, where the Messerschmitt Me 262 — the first operational jet-powered fighter — was invented.

      Sulzer noticed that an Austrian physicist who was recruited by the Nazis had mentioned about the subterranean site in his diary.

      It was built by slave labourers who lived in the nearby Mauthausen-Gusen concentration camp.

      The exact location of this Nazi factory was determined with the help of intelligence reports and radiation tests that revealed that the radioactivity levels at the site were higher than normal.

    • ‘Biggest secret Nazi weapons factory of the Third Reich’ discovered underground near sleepy Austrian town

      The 75-acre facility, located near the town of St Georgen an der Gusen, is believed to have been used to create and test weapons of mass destruction and was deemed so important to the Nazis that the head of the SS and Hitler’s right hand man Heinrich Himmler, even oversaw its development.

    • Underground lab where Nazis worked on secret nuclear bomb is uncovered

      An underground Nazi labyrinth where slaves laboured on high-tech weapons including a secret nuclear missile programme has been uncovered in Austria.

      The 75-acre facility near the town of St Georgen an der Gusen is described as the ‘biggest secret weapons facility of the Third Reich,’ after it was unearthed by documentary maker Andreas Sulzer.

    • Secret Nazi ‘weapons of mass destruction factory’ discovered underground in Austria
    • Hitler’s secret ‘nuke plant’

      A labyrinth of secret underground tunnels believed to have been used by the Nazis to develop a nuclear bomb has been uncovered.

      [...]

      Excavations began on the site after researchers detected heightened levels of radiation in the area – supporting claims that the Nazis were developing nuclear weapons.

    • Vast, secret Nazi nuclear testing facility unearthed in Austria

      Huge web of tunnels covering area of 75 acres reinforces claims Nazis were working on developing WMDs

    • Researchers Discover Suspected Secret Nazi Nuclear Development Site

      The facility, which spans an area up to 75 acres, is thought to be an extension of the underground Bergkristall factory, where the world’s first operational jet fighter was produced. According to the Sunday Times, the Nazis took pains to hide the research facility, even as Bergkristall was inspected after the war.

    • Mission Ends in Afghanistan, but Sacrifices Are Not Over for U.S. Soldiers

      On Wednesday, as 2014 came to a close, the United States and allied forces formally turned over combat operations in Afghanistan to Afghans, officially ending the longest war in America’s history, and starting a new struggle for recognition among many military families who say they already feel forgotten.

    • New U.S. Stealth Jet Can’t Fire Its Gun Until 2019

      America’s $400 billion Joint Strike Fighter, or F-35, is slated to join fighter squadrons next year—but missing software will render its 25mm cannon useless.

    • The Tragedy of the American Military

      The American public and its political leadership will do anything for the military except take it seriously. The result is a chickenhawk nation in which careless spending and strategic folly combine to lure America into endless wars it can’t win.

    • Did You Know We Won the Afghan War This Weekend?

      Now, there is no journalism without fact-checking, so let’s dig in on the president’s statement. Afghanistan no longer is under threat from the Taliban, and all terrorism has been taken care of. Instead of an economy based on corruption, smuggling and opium production, Afghanistan is a thriving consumer society. Women walk the streets in mini-skirts, and elections happen without incident. An American can stroll among Kabul’s cafes and quaint bazaars with his head held high and his safety guaranteed by grateful Afghans. America and its allies’ investment of over 3,400 lives and four trillion dollars has paid off. Also, all the dead Afghans, whatever.

      Oh, wait, none of that is true.

  • Transparency Reporting

    • Supreme Court, in Big Leap, Plans to Put Filings Online

      The Supreme Court will soon join other federal courts in making briefs and other filings available electronically, Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. announced Wednesday.

      The changes will come “as soon as 2016,” the chief justice wrote in his annual year-end report on the state of the federal judiciary.

    • Exclusive: Julian Assange on “When Google Met WikiLeaks” While He was Under House Arrest

      In a holiday special, we feature an exclusive Democracy Now! interview with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. In July, Amy Goodman spoke to Assange after he had just entered his third year inside Ecuador’s embassy in London, where he has political asylum. He faces investigations in both Sweden and the United States. In the United States, a secret grand jury is investigating WikiLeaks for its role in publishing a trove of leaked documents about the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, as well as State Department cables. In Sweden, he is wanted for questioning on allegations of sexual misconduct, though no charges have been filed. During his interview, Assange talked about his new book, which at that time had not yet been released, titled, “When Google Met Wikileaks.” The book was later published in September.

  • Finance

    • Police suspect fraud took most of Mt. Gox’s missing bitcoins

      Nearly all of the roughly US$370 million in bitcoin that disappeared in the February 2014 collapse of Mt. Gox probably vanished due to fraudulent transactions, with only 1 percent taken by hackers, according to a report in Japan’s Yomiuri Shimbun newspaper, citing sources close to a Tokyo police probe.

    • Finns Party, SDP say poor can’t take more austerity

      Finnish politicians reacted to President Sauli Niinistö’s appeal for leadership on structural reforms with their own suggestions of what might be cut from the government’s budget. The SDP and the Finns Party say there is no room to cut spending that goes to support low-income Finns.

  • PR/AstroTurf/Lobbying

    • NBC’s Chuck Todd explains why journalists so rarely ‘bark’ at politicians

      An open secret in Washington, D.C., journalism was unexpectedly shared with frustrated voters across the country on Sunday’s edition of NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

      Anyone who’s ever watched an elected official from either major political party be interviewed by a serious journalist has probably angrily asked aloud, “Why don’t they ask him about XYZ?!” Or, “Why did they let him get away with that answer?!”

      One of the most obvious and serious reasons is time constraint. Reporters, whether on TV or print, are almost always only allowed a small window of time to ask elected officials a set of questions.

      But one of the other lesser known reasons is access. Competition in political journalism is fierce and having access to big names in D.C. is everything. If a congressman thinks he’s treated unfairly or too aggressively by a reporter, he may simply choose to give his time to someone he thinks is more fair (i.e., more “friendly”).

    • The Shadow Lawmakers

      While the public believes the people they elect to Congress create legislation and policies, their role is increasingly theatrical.

  • Censorship

    • Three Al Jazeera Journalists Remain in Jail After Egyptian Court Orders a Retrial

      Egypt’s highest appeals court on Thursday ordered a retrial for three imprisoned journalists from Al Jazeera’s English-language service, implicitly acknowledging critical procedural flaws in a case that rights advocates have described, from the men’s arrests to their convictions, as a sham.

      But the decision offered no guarantees that the journalists, who have been imprisoned for more than a year and now face a potentially lengthy second trial, would be freed anytime soon.

    • India bans Open Source Sites

      The Indian government has blocked a clutch of Open Saucy websites including Github because they were carrying “anti-India” content from the head-lopping terror group ISIS.

    • India Illustrates The Risks Of Censorship Laws

      Next time you see your government proposing internet censorship laws of any kind, remember this incident where the Indian government crippled their own software industry so they could be seen to be doing something about terrorism. Their department of telecommunications has blocked 32 web sites — including archive.org and Github — as if to illustrate why it’s bad to allow anyone the power to block web sites arbitrarily (ETI claims it’s 60+). They’ve blocked entire slices of multi-purpose web infrastructure because one of their functionaries found something about ISIS somewhere on it, according to TechCrunch.

  • Privacy

    • UK wants hot tech grads to do spy work before building startups

      The British government is considering a program that would see the most promising tech graduates spend some time working for the GCHQ signals intelligence agency, the U.K.’s equivalent to the NSA, before they move into the private sector.

      As per a Thursday article in The Independent, confirmed to me by the Cabinet Office on Friday, the scheme would give the U.K. a rough equivalent to the system in Israel, where many tech entrepreneurs have come out of Unit 8200 of the Israel Defence Force. Unit 8200 is also a signals intelligence operation, and the cybersecurity firm Palo Alto Networks is a notable spinout.

    • What We Learned About NSA Spying in 2014—And What We’re Fighting to Expose in 2015: 2014 in Review

      In fact, some of the most significant information about the NSA’s surveillance programs still remain secret. Despite one of the most significant leaks in American history and despite a promise to declassify as much information as possible about the programs, nearly two years later the government still refuses to provide the public with the information it needs. For example, government officials still have not answered a simple, yet vitally important, question: what type of information does the NSA collect about millions, or hundreds of millions, of Americans (or the citizens of any other country, for that matter)? And the government still refuses to release some of the most significant decisions of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court—the secret court tasked with monitoring the government’s surveillance programs.

    • The IOB Reports on the Internet Dragnet Violations: “Nothing to Report”

      I’ve been working through the NSA’s reports to the Intelligence Oversight Board. Given that we know so much about the phone and Internet dragnets, I have been particularly interested in how they got reported to the IOB.

      By and large, though, they didn’t. Even though we know there were significant earlier violations (some of the phone dragnet violations appear in this timeline; there was an Internet violation under the first order and at least one more of unknown date), I believe neither gets any mention until the Q1 2009 report. These are on the government’s fiscal year calendar, which goes from October to September, so this report covers the last quarter of 2008. The Q1 2009 reports explains a few (though not the most serious) 2008-related phone dragnet problems and then reveals the discovery of the alert list, which technically happened in Q2 2009.

    • NSA Obfuscated to Congress about Back Door Searches in 2009

      The NSA got a lot of criticism for releasing its IOB reports on December 23, just as everyone was preparing for vacation. But there were three reports that — at least when I accessed the interface — weren’t originally posted: Q3 and Q4 2009 and Q3 2010 — all conveniently important dates for the Internet dragnet (I’ll have more on what they didn’t disclose soon).

    • Leahy & Grassley Press Administration on Use of Cell Phone Tracking Program Print Share

      Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and Ranking Member Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) pressed top Obama administration officials on the use of cell-site simulators, which can unknowingly sweep up the cell phone signals of innocent Americans.

    • How ABC Investigative Reports Turn into NSA Briefings to the SSCI

      First, this is ABC News, one of the outlets notorious for laundering intelligence claims; indeed, it is possible this is a limited hangout, an attempt to preempt one of the most alarming revelations in Bamford’s book. While the report doesn’t say it explicitly, it implies the claims of whistleblowers Kinne and Faulk prove Hayden to have lied in his CIA Director confirmation hearing, in response to the softball thrown by Hatch. In any case, the briefing about this disclosure appears to have gone exclusively to SSCI (with follow-up briefings to both intelligence oversight committees afterwards), the committee that got the apparently false testimony (and not for the last time, from Michael Hayden!). But by briefing the Committee, it also gave Jello Jay an opportunity — and probably, explicit permission — to sound all stern about a practice the Committee likely knew about.

    • Email Encryption Grew Tremendously, but Still Needs Work: 2014 in Review

      What if there were one thing we could do today to make it harder for the NSA and other intelligence agencies to eavesdrop on millions of people’s email communications, without users having to change their habits at all?

      There is. It’s called STARTTLS for email, a standard for encrypting email communications. 2014 saw more and more email providers implementing it.

    • Stingrays Go Mainstream: 2014 in Review

      We’ve long worried about the government’s use of IMSI catchers or cell site simulators. Commonly known as a “Stingray” after a specific device manufactured by the Harris Corporation, IMSI catchers masquerade as a legitimate cell phone tower, tricking phones nearby to connect to the device in order to track a phone’s location in real time. We’re not just worried about how invasive these devices can be but also that the government has been less than forthright with judges about how and when they use IMSI catchers.

      This year the public learned just how desperately law enforcement wanted to keep details about Stingrays secret thanks to a flurry of public records act requests by news organizations across the country. The results are shocking.

    • FISA “Physical Searches” of Raw Traffic Feeds, Hiding in Plain Sight?

      I’m still trudging through NSA’s reports to the Intelligence Oversight Board, which were document dumped just before Christmas. In this post, I want to examine why NSA is redacting one FISA authority, starting with this section of the Q1 2011 report.

    • French Government Quietly Enacts Controversial Surveillance Law On Christmas Eve

      Techdirt has noted that the NSA chose to release embarrassing details of its illegal surveillance of Americans on Christmas Eve. By an interesting coincidence, the French government picked the same date to enact a hugely controversial new surveillance law, which had been passed back in 2013, and will now enter into operation almost immediately, at the start of 2015. One of its most troubling aspects is the vagueness of its terms. As reported by Le Point, here’s what can be collected (original in French)…

  • Civil Rights

    • United States of Emergency
    • Prince Andrew named in lawsuit over underage sex allegations
    • Prince Andrew denies allegations in underage sex lawsuit filed in U.S.
    • Prince Andrew sex case claim: Duke of York is named in underage ‘sex slave’ lawsuit over claims of forced sexual relations
    • Palace denies Prince Andrew ‘underage sex’ claim
    • Police Chief Accuses Secret Service Of Misconduct

      Nashville’s police chief is raising stunning new allegations regarding the U.S. Secret Service, saying local agents once asked his officers to fake a warrant.

      Even more disturbing, Chief Steve Anderson said he complained to top Secret Service officials in Washington, and they did not seem to care.

    • And the Winner of the ‘War On Terror’ Financed Dream Home 2014 Giveaway Is…

      Oceanfront views, 24-hour doorman, heated pool, and perhaps best of all, a “private tunnel to the beach.” This $3 million Palm Beach, Florida penthouse could be yours, but unfortunately it isn’t because this prize has already been claimed by a former high-level U.S. official who helped pave the way for the over decade-long “war on terror,” which has been a near complete catastrophe.

      Iraq is aflame, the Islamic State is on the rampage, the situation in Afghanistan worsens by the day, and thousands of Americans—and many more Iraqis and Afghans—have died during the post-9/11 conflicts. Meanwhile, the combined cost of the “war on terror” comes to an estimated $1.6 trillion.

      But if the American people got screwed on the deal, a lot of former senior government officials who played important roles in this debacle have done quite well for themselves. It’s New Year’s Eve and I need to write a final sendoff to 2014, so I thought I’d take a look at the fortunes (literally) of some of these figures: Former CIA director George Tenet and former FBI director Louis Freeh (I’ll cover former Department of Homeland Security chief Tom Ridge in a New Year’s post).

      Consider Tenet. As head of the CIA, he missed multiple signs of a major Al Qadea attack directed against the United States, called the case against Saddam building Weapons of Mass Destruction a “slam dunk,” and approved the Bush administration’s torturing of terror suspects.

      In any fair world Tenet would be tried for criminal incompetence. Instead, he got the Presidential Medal of Freedom and after resigning in 2004 (at which point his agency salary was south of $200,000), he received a $4 million advance to write a memoir. In it, he confessed to “a black, black time” a few months after 9/11 when he was sitting at home in his favorite Adirondack chair thinking about the tragedy that killed 3,000 Americans on his watch and asked, “Why me?”

    • Disclose the full torture report, Senator Udall

      Colorado’s U.S. Sen. Mark Udall can perform yeoman’s service in upholding the rule of law and government accountability before his term concludes on Saturday.

      Protected by the Constitution’s Speech or Debate Clause, the senator can publicly disclose the already redacted 6,700-page “Study of the Central Intelligence Agency’s Detention and Interrogation Program.”

    • These Charts Show How Ronald Reagan Actually Expanded the Federal Government

      One of the many, many problems Jeb Bush faces in his quest for the Oval Office is his break from Republican orthodoxy on president Ronald Reagan’s legacy. In 2012, Bush told a group of reporters that, in today’s GOP, Reagan “would be criticized for doing the things that he did”— namely, working with Democrats to pass legislation. He added that Reagan would struggle to secure the GOP nomination today.

    • Web Freedom Is Seen as a Growing Global Issue

      Government censorship of the Internet is a cat-and-mouse game. And despite more aggressive tactics in recent months, the cats have been largely frustrated while the mice wriggle away.

      But this year, the challenges for Silicon Valley will mount, with Russia and Turkey in particular trying to tighten controls on foreign-based Internet companies. Major American companies like Facebook, Twitter and Google are increasingly being put in the tricky position of figuring out which laws and orders to comply with around the world — and which to ignore or contest.

    • Demonstrators March Against Police Brutality In Oakland and San Francisco On New Year’s Eve

      A number of downtown Oakland transit lines were detoured due to a protest against police brutality that took place in the area on Wednesday evening.

      Protesters met at Frank Ogawa Plaza in Oakland around 9 p.m. for the New Year’s Eve march.

      Reports on Twitter suggested somewhere around 100 to 200 people were marching, accompanied by a large police presence.

    • Letter: Grand jury results damage justice

      The grand jury decisions not to indict police officers Darren Wilson and Daniel Panteleo in the killings of Michael Brown and Eric Garner can be seen as another example of the racist and criminal history of United States justice.

    • Anti-brutality activists aim to ‘evict’ St. Louis police from headquarters

      Scores of protesters at the helm of the ongoing nationwide movement against police violence stormed the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department Wednesday, aiming to “evict” officers they accused of “perpetrating police brutality on our citizenry.”

      Five of the roughly 25 demonstrators who linked arms in the lobby of the police department were arrested in the headquarters, the St. Louis Police Department told Al Jazeera. Police pepper-sprayed and forced other protesters off the premises.

    • Fox affiliate fires reporter and cameraman who deceptively edited video of police brutality protesters

      Fox 45 fired the reporter and cameraman involved with a story that claimed protesters against police brutality were shouting “to kill a cop,” the Baltimore City Paper reports.

    • Congressmen admit to not reading NDAA before voting for it: ‘I trust the leadership’

      US House members admitted they had not read the entire $585 billion, 1,648-page National Defense Authorization Act, which predominantly specifies budgeting for the Defense Department, before it was voted on Thursday in Congress.

    • Mike Lee Thwarted In Bid To Strip Government’s Ability To Detain Americans Indefinitely

      Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) mounted a largely symbolic bid Friday to end the White House’s authority to indefinitely detain Americans without trial.

      The conservative Republican senator offered an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act that was immediately blocked.

      “The bottom line is that there is simply not enough time left before we adjourn to debate even a single amendment, and surely not a single amendment of this complexity,” said Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.), chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, who objected to Lee’s request to debate his amendment. Levin added that he had previously supported a similar measure.

    • Levin Is Leaving Congress Disappointed the NDAA Doesn’t Do More
    • US Congress Gives Native American Lands to Mining Company

      The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) sanctioned giving federal lands belonging to indigenous Americans to Resolution Copper, a subsidiary of the British Australian multinational, Rio Tinto.

    • The International Criminal Court on shaky ground

      A DOZEN years after its creation, the International Criminal Court is foundering. So far it has brought just 21 cases in eight countries, all of them in Africa. Only two have resulted in convictions — of relatively obscure Congolese rebel leaders. Though 139 countries signed the founding treaty, the United States, Russia, China, India, Israel and every Arab nation but Jordan have declined to join. The most horrific crimes against humanity perpetrated in the world in the past decade — in North Korea, Syria and Sri Lanka, among other places — remain outside the ICC’s reach.

      [...]

      Pending such opportunities, the court may be tempted to pursue more quixotic initiatives. This month chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda reported that she was “assessing available information” on “enhanced interrogation techniques” by U.S. forces in Afghanistan, which is an ICC member. This month’s Senate Intelligence Committee report on cases of torture may increase the impetus behind that probe. But the alleged crimes committed by U.S. personnel, though shocking, are not grave enough to meet the ICC’s high bar for prosecution — and it would be politically foolish for the court to pursue U.S. targets.

  • Internet/Net Neutrality

    • Marriott plans to block personal wifi hotspots

      The hotel chain and some others have a petition before the FCC to amend or clarify the rules that cover interference for unlicensed spectrum bands. They hope to gain the right to use network-management tools to quash Wi-Fi networks on their premises that they don’t approve of. In its view, this is necessary to ensure customer security and to protect children.

    • Google Fiber, Net Neutrality & More…

      Reclassifying ISPs as common carriers is seen by many as the easiest way to bring back Net Neutrality.

  • DRM

    • Watch Netflix video in your chromium browser – this time for real

      Apparently, having a functional Widevine CDM support will allow you to watch Youtube Movies as well, but since I already pay for Netflix I did not want to test these Youtube rentals. Another test which failed was my attempt to watch television on horizon.tv, the content streaming network of my provider (UPC/Liberty Global). Even with a UserAgent spoofer and all browser cookies removed, that site still detected that I was visiting using a Chrome/Chromium browser and kept presenting an annoying popup to force me to switch to a different browser because Chrome does not support Silverlight anymore (on Mac OSX and Windows 64-bit at least, remember their NPAPI depreciation). No way around that, even though I was fairly sure that Horizon TV also used Widevine for Digital Rights Management (DRM) in the past. Guess I still have to use Firefox with Pipelight for that, then.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Copyrights

      • Rental Car Stereos Infringe Copyright, Music Rights Group Says

        STIM disagrees. The collection society says that previous cases involving hoteliers have ended with licenses being obtained which enable hotel guests to listen to music while on the premises. Furthermore, other car rental companies in Sweden have already agreed to pay a per-stereo levy so Fleetmanager should also pay, STIM argues.

        This is not the first music-related copyright case to hit the car sector this year. In July, the Alliance of Artists and Recording Companies launched a class action lawsuit against Ford and General Motors over the CD-ripping capability of their cars. In November the group followed up with fresh legal action against Chrysler and technology partner Mitsubishi.

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