Links 24/1/2015: Zenwalk Linux Reviewed, Netrunner 14.1 Released

Posted in News Roundup at 6:35 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish



  • Server

    • Oracle Goes After Cisco UCS, with the ‘Whole Megillah’

      Oracle CTO Larry Ellison wants a bigger piece of the server market and is taking direct aim at Cisco’s UCS to grow share. Oracle’s new X5 Engineered Systems portfolio is a bid by the company to provide lower-cost two-socket converged infrastructure systems running Linux at very competitive price points.

  • Kernel Space

  • Applications

  • Distributions

    • Reviews

      • Zenwalk Linux – A Walk on the Quirky Side

        Fancy is not a part of Zenwalk Linux. Functionality and workable lightweight infrastructure are. As the developer states in his postings, only usability matters. I like the philosophy behind Zenwalk. I am less impressed with its lackluster desktop environment. Also, I ran out of patience trying to find a solution to the password-not-working issue. The developer needs to provide a quick response.

      • Zenwalk and Chakra Reviews, Another 32-Bit Voice

        zenwalkToday in Linux news, Jack Germain has a review of Zenwalk and Dedoimedo.com tries to review Chakra. With the pro-32 bit architecture folks seemingly winning the argument, Bruce Byfield weights in saying what’s surprising is that it’s taken so long to deprecate. Elsewhere, Softpedia.com is reporting that Linus Torvalds patched the kernel to fix a Witcher 2 issue.

    • New Releases

      • Netrunner 14.1 – Main Edition (Frontier)

        The “14.1” indicates an updated and polished release of Netrunner 14 LTS on the same underlying base. Since 14.1 is using the same base “trusty” like Netrunner 14, there is no need for users of 14 to migrate: Simply updating from the shared backports ppa of the Frontier release cycle should give the same result, while keeping customizations in place.

      • GParted Live 0.21.0 Beta 1 Is Now Based on Linux Kernel 3.16.7

        GParted Live, a small bootable GNU/Linux distribution for x86-based computers that can be used for creating, re-organizing, and deleting disk partitions with the help of tools that allow managing file systems, has been upgraded to version 0.21.0 Beta 1.

    • Slackware Family

      • Slack integration for Django

        I recently started using the Slack group chat tool in a few teams. Wishing to add some vanity notifications such as sales and user growth milestones from some Django-based projects, I put together an easy-to-use integration between the two called django-slack.

    • Debian Family

      • Derivatives

        • Canonical/Ubuntu

          • Ubuntu 15.04 Vivid Vervet Alpha 2 release date, features and where to download it

            The next version of the ever-popular Ubuntu Linux distribution is in development and it will be called Vivid Vervet. There are only a few letters left in the alphabet before Canonical will have to come up with a new naming convention, but for now, the alliteration can continue.

          • Meizu M1 Mini will have three OS versions, 5″ screen after all

            Meizu has already outed the first member of its new M1 family, the M1 Note. But the phablet has long been rumored to get a smaller sibling, ever since the M1 project was known just by its codename – Blue Charm.

            And Meizu is now quite close to unveiling the M1 Mini. The official introduction will take place on January 28 at a special event. In the meantime more details about the upcoming smartphone have been leaked.

          • Meizu M1 Mini Poses Next To The MX4 And M1 Note Handsets

            Meizu leaks and rumors were rather quiet for a while, but not anymore. Meizu’s January 28 event is getting closer and closer by the day, and we’re getting more and more information about Meizu’s upcoming products, well, alleged products. We’ve reported earlier today that Meizu might offer the upcoming M1 Mini handset in three different OS variants, running Flyme, YunOS and Ubuntu (Touch) OS. This leak actually sounds really interesting, as I already mentioned, and I’d love to see an Ubuntu-powered Meizu handset, which will happen sooner or later because Canonical and Meizu signed a partnership agreement a while back.

          • Ninja Blocks prepares to begin shipping, announces major Ubuntu IoT deal

            Ninja Blocks has begun shipping the Ninja Sphere and announced it has signed up as a key partner for Canonical’s Ubuntu Core embedded device operating system, as it opens its first office in the US.

            The startup launched in 2012, when it was selected to participate the Startmate accelerator program, and also smashed a Kickstarter campaign for its first product, which was also called Ninja Blocks.

  • Devices/Embedded

    • Linux-enabled sit/stand smart desk nudges you into action

      A Linux-based desk with WiFi, Bluetooth, and a 5-inch touchscreen automatically adjusts between sitting and standing, and tells you when it’s time to move.

    • Phones

      • Android

        • How to set up a VPN on Android – and why you should do it right now

          Surfing the web privately is something many web users are interested in, whether they’re doing it on a desktop, laptop or mobile device, but not many people know how to do it. Recently, a detailed WhoIsHostingThis infographic showed you how to secure your connection using a VPN — a virtual private network created on top of a public network to anonymize web traffic — on Windows, Mac and iOS, assuming the user already has access to a VPN service. Phone Arena has put together a similar step-by-step guide of enabling VPN connectivity on Android devices.

        • MakerBot Mobile 1.0 for Android Just Released — Luxuriate in Controlling 3D Printing From Afar

          It’s not enough to be able to come up with a concept, digitally or 3D design it, and then 3D print it. It’s not enough to be able to replicate and prototype items nearly out of thin air. It’s not enough to have sleek, mind-boggling technology. The question that nearly always follows is, “Yeah, cool — but can I do it from my phone?” It’s the obvious contemporary question that everyone has for the most part, including the guys who make these fantastical products.

        • Find the IMEI number for a lost or stolen Android device

Free Software/Open Source

  • Tata Elxsi joins Frog by Wyplay open source community

    Frog by Wyplay is an independent open source software platform for pay-TV operators. The initiative brings together a growing ecosystem of almost 80 companies across the entire digital TV technology value chain including chipset vendors, device manufacturers, independent software vendors, software development and integration services providers and operators.

  • New open source project to add virtual networking to Open vSwitch

    Some of the folks behind the development of Open vSwitch (OVS) are now working on a new project to add virtual networking for OVS users.

  • Open-Xchange Partners with ExtendASP on Open Source SaaS

    Open source SaaS vendor Open-Xchange gained another partner ally this week in its quest to offer an open source alternative to Microsoft Exchange. The partner, ExtendASP, will integrate the company’s OX App Suite into its customer and product manager solutions.

    The move, which the companies announced Jan. 21, promises to increase OX App Suite’s customer base. In that way, it strengthens the position of Open-Xchange as it competes with entrenched proprietary foes in the office-productivity suite market.

  • Web Browsers

    • Chrome

      • Unlock a Game Hidden in Chrome on Android or PC

        You’ve probably seen the cute little dinosaur that appears when Chrome can’t establish a network connection. Well he’s actually the star of his own endless runner game that you can play on PC and Android.

    • Mozilla

      • Get a free U2F Yubikey to test on Firefox Nightly

        Passwords are always going to be vulnerable to being cracked. Fortunately, there are solutions out there that are making it safer for users to interact with services on the web. The new standard in protecting users is Universal 2nd Factor (U2F) authentication which is already available in browsers like Google Chrome.

  • CMS

  • BSD


  • Openness/Sharing

  • Programming


  • Health/Nutrition

    • The CIA Haitian Connection and the Cocaine Smuggling Operation

      The following articles on the CIA Haiti sponsored narcotics smuggling by Dennis Bernstein, Howard Levine and Jim Lobe were published in the 1990s and republished by Global Research 25 February 2004. They shed light on the history of US interventionism in Haiti, focusing on the 1991 CIA led military coup. The coup was led coup by general Raul Cedras, resulted in the overthrow of the democratically elected government of President Aristide.

    • Anti-Vaxxers Brought Measles to the Happiest Place on Earth

      A measles outbreak has sickened 70 people at Disneyland, and could be the spark that brings the once-eradicated disease back in force.

    • How Fat The World Is, Visualised

      Obesity has hit Australia hard in recent years — but how do our waistlines compare to those around the world? This map, put together from recent obesity data obtained by the CIA, shows that Australia is not alone.

      The map, put together by Clinic Compare, shows that the percentage of the population that is clinically obese. Sure, a quarter of Australians are obese, so too Britons. But there are some surprises on the map: 33 per cent of Saudi Arabians, 32 per cent of Mexicans and 30 per cent of Argentinians and are dangerously overweight, for instance.

  • Security

    • Internet attack could shut down US gas stations

      A device used to monitor the gasoline levels at refueling stations across the United States—known as an automated tank gauge or ATG—could be remotely accessed by online attackers, manipulated to cause alerts, and even set to shut down the flow of fuel, according to research to be published on Thursday.

    • Cyber warfare: Capitol staffers aren’t ready

      The Hill’s networks are under constant attack. In 2013 alone, the Senate Sergeant at Arms’ office said it investigated 500 potential examples of malicious software, some from sophisticated attackers and others from low-level scammers. And that’s just the serious cases — in a different measurement, the House IT security office said in 2012 it blocked 16.5 million “intrusion attempts” on its networks.

  • Defence/Police/Secrecy/Aggression

    • Genocides, Not Wars

      Yes, the Empire’s leaders really believe that they have become gods. And now we only hear their twisted propaganda slogans, and their self-glorifying lies. They have become like those preachers and priests of the bygone eras: sadistic but constantly frightened, brutal and suspicious.

    • CIA on Trial in Virginia for Planting Nuke Evidence in Iran
    • Freedom Rider: Jeffrey Sterling: A Black Man and the CIA

      “Everything changed for Sterling when he filed a discrimination complaint in 2000.”

    • “Operation Merlin”: Another self-serving CIA project

      The jury is still out in the trial of former CIA officer Jeffrey Sterling for allegedly having leaked the story of “Operation Merlin” – the covert CIA effort to lure Iran into working on phony plans for a key component of a nuclear weapon – to New York Times reporter James Risen.

    • CIA Found No Magic in Operation Merlin

      The jury is still out in the trial of former CIA officer Jeffrey Sterling for allegedly having leaked the story of “Operation Merlin” – the covert CIA effort to lure Iran into working on phony plans for a key component of a nuclear weapon – to New York Times reporter James Risen.

      But “Operation Merlin” itself was also on trial. The CIA was hoping that testimony by prosecution witnesses and a series of declassified CIA cables introduced as evidence would show that Risen’s account was wrong in recounting that the CIA’s human asset “Merlin” had immediately spotted a flaw in the plans to be turned over to Iran that Iranian engineers might be able to spot as well.

    • What’s Driving the CIA Leak Trial?

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

    • CIA pursues ‘damage control’ amid whistleblower trial over flawed Iranian nuclear designs

      In a trial that whistleblower advocates have called “damage control” for the CIA, federal prosecutors are pursuing espionage charges against whistleblower Jeffrey Sterling. The case stems from the agency’s attempts to feed Iran flawed nuclear schematics.

    • The CIA in Latin America: From Coups to Torture and Preemptive Killings

      Thus they are plotting revenge by simultaneously destabilizing «populist» states and inciting civil war in Venezuela. The fresh troops arriving at the CIA stations are already diving into these new jobs.

    • Channel 4 Regrets Letting Ex-CIA Agent Claim Baghdad Massacre Would Have Been ‘Ideal’

      Channel 4 News has admitted it could have “challenged more strongly” the views of an ex-CIA officer, who told the programme the best solution to violence in the Middle East was for Muslims to kill each other until they “bleed each other white”.

      Michael Scheuer, who was in the CIA from 1982 and 2004 and was involved in the hunt for Bin Laden, said Sunni and Shia Muslims should be left to fight each other, adding the situation was “ideal” when the brutal Islamic State (IS) was advancing on Baghdad and poised to carry out a massacre.

    • Sterling Prosecution Long on Rhetoric, Short on Evidence
    • Prosecutors: Ex-CIA man had motive to leak classified info
    • CIA’s Spying Chief Plans to Retire
    • Head of Operations Division of the CIA resigns
    • Head of CIA’s Spy Division Calls It Quits
    • The CIA’s Top Spy Is Stepping Down

      Frank Archibald, the director of the CIA’s National Clandestine Service, plans to retire from his position within the CIA. Archibald was 57 when he took the position in 2013.

    • Exclusive: CIA’s Top Spy Steps Down

      The secretive head of the agency’s National Clandestine Service is retiring amid reports of infighting over a reorganization of the intelligence service.

      The director of the CIA’s National Clandestine Service, the storied home of the agency’s most secretive intelligence operations, has announced that he plans to retire, The Daily Beast has learned.

      CIA spokesman Dean Boyd confirmed that the director announced his retirement “after a long and distinguished career at CIA. We thank him for this profound and lasting contributions to both CIA and to our nation’s security.”

      As a practice, the CIA doesn’t identify the head of the clandestine service by name. But Frank Archibald was outed in a Twitter post in 2013, and details of his biography were known to some journalists. Archibald, who was 57 when he took the job that year, reportedly served tours in Pakistan and Africa and also headed the CIA’s Latin America division. The Associated Press reported that Archibald “once ran the covert action that helped remove Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic from power.”

    • Litvinenko inquiry: the proof Russia was involved in dissident’s murder

      American spies secretly intercepted communications between those involved in the murder of Alexander Litvinenko and provided the key evidence that he was killed in a Russian-backed “state execution”, The Telegraph can disclose.

      The National Security Agency (NSA) obtained electronic communications between key individuals in London and Moscow from the time that the former spy was poisoned with radioactive material in central London. The evidence was passed to the British authorities.

    • Alexander Litvinenko inquiry: NSA intercepts provide ‘proof’ Russia ordered London murder

      As the start of the public inquiry into the poisoning of Alexander Litvinenko in London approaches, an investigation has claimed to reveal “proof” Russia was behind the dissident’s murder.

      Scotland Yard found the former Russian spy had consumed a fatal dose of polonium-210 during a meeting with two former KGB contacts at the Millennium Hotel eight years ago but Russia denied any involvement and refused to extradite the suspects.

    • Fort Hood Could Not Have Foreseen 2014 Gun Attack, Army Says

      Officials at the Fort Hood Army base in central Texas could not have prevented a shooting rampage last year in part because the troubled soldier behind the attack gave no clear warning that he posed a threat, according to an Army report released Friday.

    • The CIA Dipped Our Flag into the Dirt

      If you think this is too harsh, please remember that anyone convicted could be freed by presidential pardon. But the world would know Americans are against torture and our flag can go back up the pole to the top.

    • The Hidden Hand Behind American Foreign Policy

      Mr. Kissinger hired Mr. Marshall away from Rand, telling him that the intelligence the White House was receiving was “lousy” and “even worse than what one could find in the national press.” He asked the 48-year-old analyst to study the problem.

    • Did Nixon blow off his daily CIA reports?

      In their new book “The Last Warrior,” defense analysts Andrew Krepinevich and Barry Watts detail the career and legacy of Andrew Marshall, who recently retired as director of the Pentagon’s Office of Net Assessment after four decades in the job. (See my review.) Early on, they explain why Marshall left his longtime job at the Rand Corp. and moved to Washington in late 1969. President Richard Nixon and National Security Advisor Henry Kissinger had decided that the information they were receiving from the intelligence agencies was “sorely lacking” — and they brought in Marshall to take a look at the problem.


      Nixon didn’t believe CIA analyses of Soviet military capabilities and intentions…

    • Morocco Crushed Dissent Using a U.S. Interrogation Site, Rights Advocates Say

      After landing at the Rabat airport in 2010, Zakaria Moumni, a former kickboxing world champion, was distressed when he was taken aside by security agents, arrested, blindfolded and taken on a ride under a blanket in the back seat of a car to a secret facility. He says he was held there for four days, during which he was deprived of food and water.

      “There is no worse feeling than this hopelessness of being blindfolded and handcuffed naked without being able to control anything,” said Mr. Moumni, 34, who spoke from Paris, where he now lives. “They told me that I was in a slaughterhouse and that I was going to leave in small pieces.”

    • White House says drone strikes in Yemen continue despite Houthi coup

      The Pentagon and the White House are pushing back on reports that the Obama administration is pausing drone strikes and other counterterrorism operations in Yemen, amidst the abrupt collapse of a critical partner government.

    • US halts some counterterror efforts in Yemen

      The Obama administration has been forced to suspend certain counterterrorism operations with Yemen in the aftermath of the collapse of its government, according to U.S. officials, a move that eases pressure on al-Qaida’s most dangerous franchise.

    • LETTER: ‘Torture report’ exposed brutality of our leaders

      What is revealed is the ways that the highest-ranking officials in America sanctioned actions that we usually think of as occurring under brutal dictators and leaders who are brought up on charges of war crimes at the International Criminal Court at The Hague.

    • Mark Mansfield, the (almost) public face of a secretive agency, dies at 56

      As the chief spokesman for the CIA, Mark Mansfield was not the first to refer to his position as “the ultimate oxymoron.” He became the not-quite-public face of a secretive agency, tasked with the job of neither confirming nor denying anything publicly.

    • Truth Revealed: McCain’s ‘Moderate Rebels’ in Syria ARE ISIS

      Poor John McCain and Lindsey Graham, Washington’s original first couple. They only wanted to arm the ‘moderate opposition’ in Syria. Three years on, how come their master plan isn’t working, while ISIS has grown so strong?

    • Drone Theory by Grégoire Chamayou review – a provocative investigation

      In using drones in this way, the Americans seemed to sacrifice the very “precision” that supporters of drone warfare have always argued is one of its principal advantages: after all, there is nothing “targeted” about a “signature strike”. And in any case, “precision” is a rather elastic term when employed in this context. The Hellfire missiles fired by Predator drones, for example, have a “kill zone” of 15 metres (in other words, nothing inside a 15-metre radius survives), whereas the successor to the Predator, the Reaper, is able to fire something called the “Small Smart Weapon”, which can kill an individual while leaving the people in the next room unscathed. Chamayou reports that American strategists expect that in 25 years’ time they will be using “nano-drones”, tiny robotic insects capable of operating in very confined spaces with unimaginable precision.

    • Indian press: Obama skipping Taj Mahal because he couldn’t use The Beast

      The site said the provincial government refused special permission for Obama’s car, called the Beast, as well as his motorcade, inside the gates of the famous Taj Mahal in Agra, India.

    • Obama to travel to Saudi Arabia

      Just before Obama left Washington for New Delhi, the White House announced that he will no longer travel to the Taj Mahal on Tuesday. Instead, he will stop in Riyadh on his way home.

    • Admiral: U.S. could have ousted Gadhafi peacefully

      As the allied bombing of Libya began in 2011, the Obama administration rejected an offer by Moammar Gadhafi to engage in negotiations to abdicate, according to a retired U.S. Navy officer who says he was prepared to broker the deal.

    • Fox News apologises for claiming Birmingham is ‘no-go zone’ for non-Muslims

      Emerson’s comments drew widespread ridicule, and led to prime minister David Cameron describing him as “a complete idiot.”

      The pundit formally apologised and donated £500 to a Birmingham children’s hospital.

    • 5 Ways the US is Interfering in Venezuela

      There is hard evidence that the United States government has been trying to destabilize Venezuela since the election of socialist President Hugo Chavez in 1998 to the current government of President Nicolas Maduro. Let’s count down the top 5 ways.

    • Tomgram: Engelhardt, Washington’s Walking Dead

      More tax dollars consumed, more intrusions in our lives, the further militarization of the country, the dispatching of some part of the U.S. military to yet another country, the enshrining of war or war-like actions as the option of choice — this, by now, is a way of life. These days, the only headlines out of Washington that should surprise us would have “narrowing” or “less,” not “broadening” or “more,” in them.

    • U.S. Drone Strikes Killed at Least 874 People in Hunt for 24 Terrorists

      U.S. drone strikes that hit their intended targets only 21% of the time have resulted in the killings of hundreds of civilians, including children, in America’s hunt for terrorists in Yemen and Pakistan.

      According to a data analysis by human rights group Reprieve, CIA drone strikes in Pakistan killed as many as 221 people, including 103 children, in the hunt for just four men on President Barack Obama’s secret Kill List, the Express Tribune reported. The Kill List is a covert program that selects individual targets for assassination and requires no public presentation of evidence or judicial oversight.

    • US counts enemy dead and it’s not reassuring

      The armed forces seem to be reassuring themselves that the violence they inflict — and the violence the enemy inflicts in return — is definitely worth it, according to David Axe

    • Drones And The New Ethics Of War – OpEd

      If Guantanamo was the icon of President George W. Bush’s anti-terror policy, drones have become the emblem of the Obama presidency. Indeed, Chamayou maintains that President Barak Obama has adopted a totally different anti-terror doctrine from his predecessor: kill rather than capture, replace torture with targeted assassinations.

    • Review: Prescient professor Chomsky more right than wrong

      If North Americans were asked, “Which country do you think is primarily responsible for supporting terrorism in the Middle East?” the answers would most probably be Iran, or Syria, or maybe Pakistan.

      In fact, it is U.S. ally Saudi Arabia which is “the primary source for the funding of radical Islamist groups,” as Noam Chomsky has recently pointed out. (In fact, the U.S. government has itself reached the same conclusion.)

      When it comes to the rise of the fanatical terrorist group, ISIS, Chomsky says that it “is a natural result” of the invasion of Iraq ordered by George W. Bush and Tony Blair: “One of the grim consequences of U.S.-U.K. aggression was to inflame sectarian conflicts … that have spread over the whole region.”

    • Is the Concept of Terrorism Still Useful?

      The invocation of terrorism is a relatively recent phenomenon, even if the practice of politically-oriented violence is not. A Google Ngram search of the keyword ‘terrorism’ shows that the word virtually did not exist before the 20th century:

    • The Troops Are Destroying Our Country

      The truth is that the troops, through what they’re doing over there, are indirectly destroying our country, our rights and freedoms, our safety and security, and our economic well-being.

    • Air Force Turns to Supersonic Mercenaries

      The U.S. Air Force fleet of planes and pilots is stretched so thin, the service is considering hiring private military corporations flying supersonic jets to train its fighter jocks in mock air combat.

    • Rand Paul Doubles Down on Anti-ISIS Strikes

      The likely presidential candidate is doubling down on on his support for anti-ISIS air strikes, despite new evidence that they aren’t working.

    • Big Pharma and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD): The Deadly Toll that Permanent War Takes on US Soldiers, Awaits the Rest of Us

      My own father, a decorated Navy war hero on US submarines during World War II and Korea, was tortured by his post-war “sins” that he carried for over 70 years all the way to his grave. His particular war sins were the result of being forced at gunpoint by US naval command to comply with America’s racist war policy to kill every Asian man, woman and child in Pacific waters during World War II, even innocent non-Japanese civilian families peacefully eking out a modest living in their small fishing boats. At one point when my machine gunner father couldn’t bear committing any more of his racist nation’s sins, after defiantly throwing his .50 caliber bullet belt to the deck and retreating down below deck to his bunk, his submarine captain charged after him with his revolver drawn ready to murder my father until several of my father’s shipmates talked the raging Medal of Honor winning skipper out of it. For the next seven decades my father agonized over the haunting images of gunning down little children and their mothers laying lifeless in their slowly sinking boats, turning the Pacific blue red with white man’s inhumanity toward yellow race people. But this is what the last “justified,” red, white and blue American war did to my father’s fragile human psyche. Rather than placing the blame squarely on United States war policy in the Pacific theater, he always blamed himself for murdering those innocent families whose only crime was being born with slanted eyes. His PTSD symptoms persisted the next 70 years, countless times suddenly jarred awake in the middle of the night in cold sweat moaning in agony over his nightmares of those haunting, indelible images from so many years before. Then on weekends he would regularly put on his treasured “Victory At Sea” records, and the lilting music like a trance would morosely place him right back into reliving his war trauma, wrestling with his inner demons hundreds of times over while drowning himself in alcohol, futilely self-medicating numbness amidst his lingering, unshakable pain. This is what war does. From any end of the gun, war is always wrong.

    • Who are the Terrorists?
  • Transparency Reporting

    • ‘Plight for whistleblowers in US a lot worse now’ – Snowden’s lawyer

      Despite public perception of whistleblowers changing for the better, the plight of those who choose to expose wrongdoings “has gotten a lot worse” in the US, former ethics adviser to Justice Department and Edward Snowden’s lawyer, Josselyn Radak, told RT.


      JR: Public perception of whistleblowers is changing. You see both Edward Snowden and Bill Binney featured in the documentary Citizenfour by Laura Poitras, which has now been nominated for an Oscar award. People are beginning to realize the public value of the information brought forward by whistleblowers who were being persecuted and prosecuted for exposing illegality.

    • Sam Adams Award 2015: Whistleblowers Warn of Dangers to Democracy

      Binney is probably the most senior intelligence whistleblower in recent history. To give you an idea of his seniority – he designed most of the programmes that Edward Snowden leaked details about. So when William Binney talks about the dangers of mass surveillance, it pays to listen. It’s a bit like hearing Josef Goebbels talk about the risks of propaganda. The guy knows his stuff.

  • Finance

    • ‘Poor,’ ‘Middle Class’–What’s the Difference to the 1 Percent?

      But the Times piece, by Jonathan Weisman and Ashley Parker, seems to treat the poor and middle class as almost interchangeable. Thus “Mitt Romney, vowing a campaign to ‘end the scourge of poverty’ if he runs for president a third time,” is presented as an example of the same phenomenon as “Mitch McConnell…encourag[ing] the Republican troops to refocus policy on the stagnant middle class.”

      Yet these are very different political approaches, with different policy implications. The “middle-class tax cuts” Obama is said to favor wouldn’t do much for the poor, whereas the earned-income tax credit, whose expansion Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) advocates, is designed to help the working poor rather than middle-income families.

      Indeed, traditionally, the Republicans have accused Democrats of favoring the poor at the expense of the middle class (a charge that has led the Democrats for decades to declare their allegiance to the middle class).

    • Prof. Wolff Explains Our Staggering Level of Inequality on The Big Picture RT

      The wealthy elite are getting even richer, and a new report says that by 2016, the top 1% will control more than half of the world’s wealth. What explains this staggering level of inequality, and is there any way to buck this trend? Prof. Wolff explains.

    • GOP senator who boasted about her family’s self-reliance received $460K in federal subsidies

      Iowa Republican senator Joni Ernst gave her party’s official response to the State of the Union address by boasting self-righteously about her humble origins and how her self-reliant, heartland-state family pulled themselves up by their own bootstraps, but conveniently failed to mention that her family’s farm was the beneficiary of nearly half a million dollars in federal subsidies.

    • Independent Greeks emerge as Syriza coalition option

      Tsipras has unnerved financial markets with a pledge to overturn austerity and demands a debt write-off from European partners. But his message has resonated with Greeks struggling with unemployment over 25 percent and wage and pension cuts.

    • Greek political parties for a Commons-oriented society

      With the chance of the oncoming Greek elections EEL/LAK, an Athens-based NGO focused on the promotion of FLOSS and the Commons, has recently asked the political parties about their agenda in relation to Open Governance and the Commons. In total, four political parties replied -according to the polls three of them will succeed in electing MPs- proving that there has been a growing interest over the Commons discourse in Greece.

    • Tory Government betrays our elderly with £1bn social care cuts

      Vital services such as meals on wheels and home visits have been hit particularly badly since the ConDems came to power in 2010

  • PR/AstroTurf/Lobbying

    • Media Ethicists Savage Wash. Post’s “Troubling” And “Dishonest” Disclosure Standard For Writer/Lobbyist

      The Washington Post claims that broadly disclosing that one of its opinion writers is a Republican lobbyist is sufficient even when he is advocating for positions that specifically benefit his firm’s unmentioned clients, a standard media critics say is “troubling” and “dishonest.”

    • Distorted reality in American TV series

      On the one hand, in a fictional universe there is the Pakistani government that collaborates with the Taliban to attack the U.S. Embassy; on the other hand, in real life, there are children who are killed by the Taliban on the grounds that the Pakistani government organizes attacks in collaboration with Western powers. Here is the difference between fiction and reality for the U.S.

    • Every movie rewrites history. What American Sniper did is much, much worse.

      That’s not a story that’s limited to Clint-Eastwood-directed warsploitation movies. You’ll hear the same thing on Fox News, where this month Jeanine Pirro delivered a bloodthirsty rant calling for mass murder as a solution to the problem of Muslim extremism, and the network repeatedly made the false claim that radical Islamists had taken over parts of European cities, turning them into Muslim-only “no-go” zones.

      That’s its own form of dangerous extremism. Its premises are wrong, and its results are dangerous. By feeding that narrative, American Sniper is part of the problem.

  • Privacy

    • NHS: Big Brother Knows Best, Your Decisions Mean Nothing.

      In yet another act sure to increase the speed of George Orwell’s rotations in his grave, the NHS has decided that the opt-out forms I pointed out to many of you a year ago are not worth the paper they are printed on or emails they are sent in. Because, you see, you might have not understood fully the implications of opting out of your data being shared with private companies.

    • Why Mass Surveillance is Different

      In the wake of the Paris murders, and the subsequent arrests in Belgium, the question of cyber-security and surveillance has again risen to the top of the news agenda. I’m not going to add to the debate here, beyond pointing out that I have a libertarian viewpoint on this; I’ll leave it for others more articulate than myself to make the argument for me.


      A more realistic analogy is this: the government simply tell the Post Office (the UK national delivery service) to steam open every letter, from anyone to anywhere, photocopy the contents, file them away, and then send the letter on. Keeping the contents so that they can refer back to them retrospectively. And whilst the Post Office are busy filing your records, BT (UK national landline carrier) is busy recording every single phone conversation you make. It’s the equivalent of having that message “Your call may be recorded for training purposes” built in to the telephone network.

    • Encryption will lead to ‘ethically worse’ behaviour by spies, says former GCHQ chief

      The increasing use of encryption technologies in everyday emails and messaging services will lead to “ethically worse” behaviour by the intelligence agencies, a former head of GCHQ has predicted.

      Sir David Omand warned there would be greater intrusion on individuals’ privacy, not less, if agencies are unable to intercept communications – because they will be forced into more direct spying methods.

    • Bill would underscore warrant requirement for Stingray use

      Fifteen state representatives have signed onto a bill that would require police to get a warrant before using surveillance technology that mimics cellphone towers to identify nearby phones.

      David Taylor, R-Moxee, introduced House Bill 1440 this week to promote electronic privacy, he said.

      His legislation doesn’t appear to propose changes for the Tacoma Police Department, the only Washington police agency known to possess the device commonly called a Stingray. The device finds suspects by the cellphones they carry. Once connected, the police can capture precise locations of a suspect’s phone and metadata — who he or she calls or texts, when and for how long.

    • Alabama School System Spies on Black Students

      This story has been posted on other social media. Its main focus is on how an Alabama school system (Huntsville city schools) paid a former FBI agent the sum of $157,000 to direct security of their schools but the main purpose was to actually spy on the social media activity of the black students in the schools. The agent was brought in to oversee the Students Against Fear program (SAFe). This program allows students and teachers to submit anonymous tips to security personnel. According to the paperwork provided by the school administration system, the SAFe program does not work directly for the school system. Instead, it is employed by T&W Operations. T&W Operations, which is a service-disabled, veteran-owned, small business in Huntsville, Alabama, provides labor and support services for logistics operations with government and commercial clients. Over 600 students attending these schools had their social media monitored in the year 2013. Students who were expelled due to certain social media issues were mostly African-Americans.

    • Europe is wrong to take a sledgehammer to Big Google

      It is the continent’s favourite hobby, and even the European Parliament cannot resist: having a pop at the world’s biggest search engine. In a recent and largely symbolic vote, representatives urged that Google search should be separated from its other services — demanding, in essence, that the company be broken up.


      The problem with Google is not that it is too big but that it hoovers up data that does not belong to it.

    • ​Oakland cops’ license cams follow drivers everywhere

      EFF obtained and analyzed records from the Oakland Police Department’s secretive automatic license plate readers, showing that the department has mounted a program of incredibly intrusive, highly racialized secret surveillance of an entire city.

    • NSA whistleblower William Binney wins 2015 Sam Adams award

      William Binney, former technical director of the NSA turned whistleblower, last night received the Sam Adams Award for Integrity in Intelligence.

      The ceremony in Berlin featured a powerful line-up of fellow whistleblowers and former intelligence officers, who honoured Binney for “shining light into the darkest of corners of secret government and corporate power”.

      Edward Snowden, the NSA whistleblower who won the Sam Adams Award in 2013, joined the event via video link from Moscow, to congratulate and thank Binney. “Without Bill Binney, there would be no Edward Snowden,” he said.

      Snowden spoke of the “civic duty to say something” that he felt when he saw unlawful surveillance programs in action. Programs that, as technical director of the NSA, Binney himself helped to build.

      In accepting the award, Binney said that he resigned from the NSA back in 2001 after he realised the agency was “purposefully violating the Constitution” with its “bulk acquisition of data against US citizens… first against US citizens by the way, not foreigners”.

    • Spying in the German Banana Republic

      The incident involving a CIA spy uncovered within the BND ranks was perceived by most Europeans as total nonsense: a total of 218 top secret documents were stolen from BND by a 31-year-old employee Marcus R. over a period of two years while he was cooperating with the ”friendly” CIA. The White House was paying “the loyal agent” according to the “banana republic,” rates up to and including 25 thousand euros, omitting glass beads and colored feathers.

    • Urgent: Please Help Stop Underhand Attempt to Sneak in the Snooper’s Charter

      In an act of extraordinary contempt for both the public and democracy, four lords are attempting to insert the bulk of the Snooper’s Charter in the Counter Terrorism and Security Bill in a way that means there will be almost no opportunity to debate it. We have only two days to stop this disgraceful move by writing to members of the House of Lords, and asking them to object to this disturbing attempt to circumvent the proper procedures “because terrorism”.

    • Illinois schools can demand students’ social media logins

      A new anti-cyberbullying law in Illinois effectively allows schools to force students to hand over their social media passwords if they are suspected to have been the victim of or otherwise involved in cyberbullying. While the law doesn’t explicitly say schools can request passwords, it gives school officials broad scope to act even when alleged bullying occurs using “technology or an electronic device that is not owned, leased, or used by a school district or school.”

    • Bruce Schneier and Edward Snowden @ Harvard Data Privacy Symposium

      Bruce Schneier, Harvard Berkman Center Fellow, talks with Edward Snowden about government surveillance and the effectiveness of privacy tools like encryption to an audience at Harvard’s School of Engineering and Applied Sciences.

  • Civil Rights

    • These are the 12 worst ideas religion has unleashed on the world

      Some of humanity’s technological innovations are things we would have been better off without: the medieval rack, the atomic bomb and powdered lead potions come to mind. Religions tend to invent ideas or concepts rather than technologies, but like every other creative human enterprise, they produce some really bad ones along with the good.

    • Offense for Offense’s Sake

      Many of the world leaders who came to Paris for the event were among the world’s worst violators of the principles the masses of demonstrators were there to defend. But even their hypocrisy, revolting as it was, could not deflect the demonstration’s positive impact.

    • Fetus Lawyers, Baby Daddies and ‘Legitimate Rape’: America’s Craziest Abortion Bills

      Lawmaking officially began last week in most states, and it should surprise no one that abortion is again high on the list of priorities for a number of legislatures going into 2015.

      Since the 2010 election tipped statehouses Republican, states adopted 231 new abortion restrictions. Last year alone, 15 states enacted 26 new abortion controls, according to the Guttmacher Institute.

      With all those news laws on the books, one might ask, just what’s left to curb? Yet armed with hundreds of pre-written bills—drawn up by model legislation organizations Americans United for Life and the National Right to Life Committee—state lawmakers are finding new ways to make an abortion even harder to get in the new year.

    • Op-Ed: The analysis of questioning torture

      Contrary to the spirit of the Enlightenment, torture had gradually disappeared in the West since the eighteenth century, and only the Nazi and Soviet totalitarianism have reintroduced it in Europe. Once that door opened, it managed to infiltrate the heart of the French Republic. A few years after the end of the Second World War, torture was practiced during the wars in Indochina and Algeria, even if the rulers did never publicly admitted it. To intellectuals like Pierre Vidal-Naquet (The Torture in the Republic, Minuit, 1972) or the Communist Henri Alleg, who had himself suffered to torture (La Question, Minuit, 1958) protested, with others, against this process.

    • The Terrifying Reality Of The US Torture Program And Why It Matters To You

      Now that the world is done stating “Je suis Charlie,” it’s time to turn its collective gaze back to the US government’s torture program. One of the beautiful things about the world having such a short attention span is that it is possible to refocus after a distracting event.

    • US Torture Tactics Go Global: Is Gitmo Just The Tip Of The Iceberg?

      Closing Gitmo while not tackling the root problem of its associated archipelago and the ‘exceptional’ US mindset that set it into force would be nothing but a symbolic victory. As is seen by the CIA black sites, barely any information has emerged about each location except for a few notable ones like in Poland. This means that it is unknown exactly what kind of human rights abuses may have been carried out there, demonstrating that the US government has actually done a particularly good job at covering its tracks in these cases. This should serve as a dire warning, however, even if Gitmo is closed, other more secretive ‘detention facilities’ may be opened to replace it, given the ‘need’ that certain influential members of the national and military spheres say there is for keeping it open in the first place. Just as one weed can quickly spread throughout an entire garden, it may be that Gitmo’s final legacy will be that it spread a network of near-identical camps all throughout the world.

    • Guantanamo lawyer: be careful after Paris attacks

      The lawyer for a Guantanamo inmate says fear after the Paris attacks risks giving governments a licence to implement the sort of anti-terror legislation that saw her client wrongly detained.


      In the book the 44-year-old documents how he was subjected to brutal treatment, including being kept in a “frozen room” for hours on end, forced into group sex with prison guards and repeatedly tortured.

    • College dean recounts plight in former Czechoslovakia as Senate report likens CIA interrogations to torture

      With the recent release of the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee report affirming aggressive post-911 CIA interrogations that many critics liken to torture, Mikula, a professor of Eastern European History and acting dean of the College of Liberal Arts at Benedictine University, has been reliving her harrowing childhood experiences in the dual context of an expatriate and American citizen.

      She finds it ironic today that the same agency which helped her family escape communism is accused of using some of the same harsh interrogation tactics as the totalitarian regime.

      “The idea that you would torture people who you didn’t know were enemies or not – that you would torture (innocent) people in order to identify suspects – it makes me think of all we went through to get away from that,” Mikula said.

      Mikula, named Zuzana in her native country, is the daughter of Edith Martonik and Jozef Mikula. Her father, who was an outspoken critic of communism, left Czechoslovakia for Austria when it was clear the communists were going to assume control. His hope was to fight communism from afar and foment a change that would allow his return.

    • Thatcher Protégé Leon Brittan Was a Pedophile Suspect

      One of Margaret Thatcher’s most senior ministers died Thursday amid a swirl of accusations that he was personally involved in the abuse of children and the subsequent coverup of a Westminster pedophile ring.

      Lord Leon Brittan, who was appointed Home Secretary in 1983, always denied the allegations, some of which can be published for the first time now that he has died. Police sources also confirm that at the time of his death, he was being investigated over allegations that he had raped a woman as a young man. Brittan died in his sleep at home with his family at the age of 75. He had suffered from cancer and heart problems.

    • Here Is Pedophile Billionaire Jeffrey Epstein’s Little Black Book

      An annotated copy of the address book, which also contains entries for Alec Baldwin, Ralph Fiennes, Griffin Dunne, New York Post gossip Richard Johnson, Ted Kennedy, David Koch, filmmaker Andrew Jarecki, and all manner of other people you might expect a billionaire to know, turned up in court proceedings after Epstein’s former house manager Alfredo Rodriguez tried to sell it in 2009. About 50 of the entries, including those of many of Epstein’s suspected victims and accomplices as well as Trump, Love, Barak, Dershowitz, and others, were circled by Rodriguez. (The existence of the book has been previously reported by the Daily Mail. Gawker is publishing it in full here for the first time; we have redacted addresses, telephone numbers, email addresses, and the last names of individuals who may have been underage victims.)

    • Guantanamo Diary Takes Readers Inside Life in the Detention Center

      Slahi had fought alongside the mujahadeen in Afghanistan in the 1990s. This was a war in which the United States aided and even armed members of the mujahadeen against the Soviet-controlled government that had been installed in Afghanistan. However, by working with the mujahadeen, and even pledging support to a then-grassroots Al Qaeda, Slahi later found himself a wanted man.

    • A voice from Guantanamo: ‘I can’t breathe…’

      Mohamedou Ould Slahi has been detained in Guantanamo for 13 years without ever facing trial. From his cell, he wrote “Guantanamo Diary,” a unique account of the conditions in the US detention centre.

    • Lawyer: US ‘will clear’ Australia ex-Guantanamo man David Hicks

      The United States has accepted that the former Guantanamo inmate, Australian citizen David Hicks, is innocent, his lawyer says.

      Lawyer Stephen Kenny told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) that he expected Hicks’s 2007 conviction “to be set aside”.

      Hicks’s lawyers appealed his conviction last month, saying it was unsound.

      Hicks had pleaded guilty to terrorism charges in a deal that allowed him to complete his sentence in Australia.

    • The case for a judicial inquiry into Libyan rendition is now undeniable

      The evidence is clear that MI5 and MI6 were involved in the abduction and torture of Gaddafi’s opponents – someone must be held to account

    • Exonerating The CIA: Establishment Investigates Itself

      Exonerating spooks for improper conduct is a regular feature of the establishment. After all, you don’t convict your own, turning your nose at activities pursued under the grand, catch-all term of national security. From the start, the CIA review, established to investigate its own activities into spying on the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, was always predictably constituted, with predictable outcomes.

    • Terrorist extradition to US blocked after CIA kidnapping, torture

      Andre Seebregts, K.’s lawyer, wanted the judge to prohibit the extradition because the role played by the US secret service (CIA) in the arrest and torture of K. in Pakistan has not been clarified. The judge agreed with him.

    • How Animal Experiments Paved the Way for the CIA’s Torture Program

      Fact: The CIA’s torture program was directly inspired by animal experiments.

      In the 1960s, dogs were subjected to random electric shocks from which they could not escape. Eventually the dogs gave up trying to avoid the painful shocks, not even escaping when a path to escape was finally presented to them.


      What concerns me most as a medical doctor is the fact that two psychologists hired by the CIA, James Mitchell and Bruce Jessen, directed these human torture experiments. The psychologists were curious about whether the theories of animal “learned helplessness” might work on humans.

    • Bad, Bad Barrett Brown

      The sentencing of someone who couldn’t hack his way out of a paper bag is the latest sign that we’re in the middle of a nerd scare.

    • We Should All Step Back from Security Journalism

      I started studying the computer underground back when I worked in tech, as an early web developer, in the mid 1990s. I found the world fascinating, and I interviewed people and wrote about it, initially for myself. I never participated much. At first this was because I didn’t have much to contribute, but in time I came to understand that I wanted to remain on the disinterested side of law enforcement. This was not only because of what it meant for my own long-term prospects, but because it would let me build more understanding of the culture I was studying, and ultimately let me share what I learned of that culture with more people.

    • Autistic schoolboy hanged himself after falling for scam ‘police’ email saying he had looked at indecent websites

      An autistic schoolboy hanged himself after receiving a bogus “police” email claiming he had been looking at illegal websites and must pay a £100 fine.

      Joseph Edwards was more susceptible to believing the scam was genuine because of his disability, a coroner heard today.

      The 17-year-old A-level student was found hanged at his home by his mum, who has since launched a campaign to make children more aware of the dangers from internet scams.

      Joseph received the online spam message, claiming to be from Cheshire Police, which said he had been visiting illegal websites with indecent images on his computer and would have to pay a large sum of money to avoid officers taking action.

    • WTF! It Should Not Be Illegal to Hack Your Own Car’s Computer

      I spent last weekend elbow-deep in engine grease, hands tangled in the steel guts of my wife’s Mazda 3. It’s a good little car, but lately its bellyachings have sent me out to the driveway to tinker under the hood.

      I regularly hurl invectives at the internal combustion engine—but the truth is, I live for this kind of stuff. I come away from each bout caked in engine crud and sated by the sound of a purring engine. For me, tinkering and repairing are primal human instincts: part of the drive to explore the materials at hand, to make them better, and to make them whole again.

      Cars, especially, have a profound legacy of tinkering. Hobbyists have always modded them, rearranged their guts, and reframed their exteriors. Which is why it’s mind-boggling to me that the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) just had to ask permission from the Copyright Office for tinkerers to modify and repair their own cars.

    • Barrett Brown Went to Jail for My Sins

      This– THIS LINK– could have sent me to jail. Another link came very, very close to sending Barrett Brown to jail. Brown was just sentenced to five years in jail on other charges that the government could make stick, in another step towards the criminalization of everything.

    • Barrett Brown Sentenced to 63 Months in Prison, Looks Horrible in Mustard Yellow Jail Togs

      Yesterday at the Earle Cabell Federal Building, in the fine city of Dallas, Texas, a fellow named Andrew Blake wore a curious t-shirt to Judge Sam Lindsay’s court for a hearing to determine how much longer Barrett Brown ought to stay in prison. Blake got his shirt while covering the trial of Chelsea Manning. It was black, with one word, in white, printed across its chest: “truth.” Before things got started yesterday, a federal marshal approached Blake and told him he had to cover up the word. In case you missed that: he had to cover up “truth.” In a courtroom. That’s how it went for much of yesterday, like a script for a bad movie that any reasonable studio executive would read and reject because no way could the plot transpire in real life.

    • Barrett Brown Sentenced to Five Years, Vows to Keep Investigating Government Wrongdoing

      But first, Brown expressed regret. He regretted having recorded and posted videos in which he threatened an FBI agent who was investigating Brown, calling the videos “idiotic” and the product of a “manic state” brought on by a withdrawal from drugs used to control his heroin addiction. He admitted that he “stupidly” tried to hide laptop computers from FBI agents when they arrived at his mother’s home with a search warrant. He said he had crossed the line from journalist to collaborator when he contacted security firm, Strategic Forecasting (Stratfor) with an offer to redact sensitive material from a major 2011 hack, diverting attention from hacker Jeremy Hammond. “I have never denied I was involved with Anonymous,” Brown said. “But that means different things at different times.”

    • Barrett Brown’s Prison Time Raises Cybersecurity, Journalism Concerns

      But critics of the sentence, including Brown himself, say he has done nothing that many mainstream journalists haven’t also done in their work and that he is being persecuted because he does not have the protection of a large media organization. Reporters for outlets like the Washington Post, the New York Times and the Guardian, for example, have not faced the same prosecution efforts from the government for their part in publishing documents stolen from the National Security Agency by former contractor Edward Snowden.

    • King Abdullah’s Saudi Arabia: Slavery, Terror & Women as Property

      Abby Martin speaks with Ali al-Ahmed, Director of the Institute for Gulf Affairs about the death of Saudi Arabian monarch, King Abdullah, and why the media is covering him as a ‘reformer’.

    • Our Ally Saudi Arabia Beheaded 10 People This Month

      American diplomats pay lip service to human rights while tens of billions of dollars in arms are shipped to the Kingdom of Hate, where you can be executed for ‘sorcery’ or tweeting about Islam.

    • Civil and Human Rights Coalition Troubled by Deletion of “Civil Rights and Human Rights” from Senate Constitution Subcommittee

      Nancy Zirkin, executive vice president of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, issued the following statement in response to the Senate Republican Majority’s decision to remove the words “Civil Rights and Human Rights” from the name of the Senate Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Human Rights. This subcommittee of the Judiciary Committee has jurisdiction over civil rights oversight:

    • The obscenity of calling Saudi King Abdullah a “reformer”

      Saudi Arabia’s deceased King Abdullah, according to just about every obituary in major Western publications, was a reformer. The New York Times, Washington Post, BBC, and NPR all describe Abdullah as a ruler committed to reforming Saudi Arabia’s notoriously repressive practices. Sen. John McCain called Abdullah an advocate for peace; IMF head Christine Lagarde called him a “strong advocate for women.”

      But Abdullah did not, in fact, make any fundamental reforms to the Saudi state, which remains one of the most oppressive and inhumane on earth. It punishes dissidents, including currently with multiple rounds of publicly lashing a blogger, amputates hands and legs for robbery, and enforces a system of gender restrictions that make women not just second-class citizens, but in many ways the property of men. Abdullah’s reputation as a reformer comes from some relatively limited policy shifts he made. Praising Abdullah as a reformer, in addition to being misleading, seems to imply that Saudi Arabia should be held to a lesser standard than the rest of humanity, and that its citizens should be somehow grateful for Abdullah’s minor adjustments to a system that remains cruelly unjust.

    • King Abdullah, a feminist? Don’t make me laugh

      The constraints and restrictions on Saudi women are too notorious and too numerous to itemise. Right now, two women are in prison for the offence of trying to drive over the border in to Saudi Arabia. It is not just the ban on driving. There is also the ban on going out alone, the ban on voting, the death penalty for adultery, and the total obliteration of public personality – almost of a sense of existence – by the obligatory veil. And there are the terrible punishments meted out to those who infringe these rules that are not written down but “interpreted” – Islam mediated through the conventions of a deeply conservative people.

    • North Korea seeks U.N. probe of ‘CIA torture crimes’

      North Korea called on Thursday for the top United Nations human rights body to investigate allegations of Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) torture in the George W. Bush era, that were contained in a recent Senate report.

      The move, announced by So Se Pyong, ambassador of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to the U.N. in Geneva, puts more strain on ties with Washington, following U.S. accusations that Pyongyang was behind a cyber attack on Sony Pictures. North Korea denies those accusations.

    • North Korea seeks U.N. probe of “CIA torture crimes”

      So Se Pyong, ambassador of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to the U.N. in Geneva, said that the issue of the “CIA torture crimes” should be put on the agenda of the U.N. Human Rights Council which meets from March 2-27

    • NKorea asks top UN rights body to probe CIA torture

      “This morning … I sent a letter to the president of the Human Rights Council … requesting that the council take up the issue of CIA torture crimes committed by the United States,” said So Se Pyong, North Korea’s ambassador to the UN in Geneva.

    • CIA torture report architect denounces Republican attempt to claw back copies

      The architect of the Senate’s landmark inquiry into Central Intelligence Agency torture is denouncing an unusual demand from her successor to return all classified copies of the investigation.

    • This is what happens when you put a CIA apologist in charge of CIA oversight

      When it comes to the CIA’s torture of innocent people, or unconstitutional dragnet surveillance, or assassination of American citizens, Republicans are eager to enable the executive branch. No fiddling with immigration regulations, because tyranny. But go ahead and kill whoever you want. We trust you.

      Witness Senator Richard Burr (R-N.C.), the brand-new chair of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. Instead of carrying out the oversight functions that are the very reason the committee exists, he is being every bit the CIA lickspittle that I said he was going to be last March.

    • Open thread for night owls: Sen. Richard Burr is acting more like a CIA asset than as its overseer
    • CIA Torture Report Sinks A Little More, As Agencies Don’t Bother To Read It

      When the new Senate Intelligence Committee chairman, Richard Burr (R-N.C.), announced that, allegedly unbeknownst to him, the former chairwoman had widely distributed the panel’s study of CIA torture, he said he was perturbed. A sensitive document — one whose validity he has vehemently challenged — now being spread within the executive branch? Concerning, Burr said, to say the least.

      Except most of the recipients that Burr is concerned about never even opened their copy.

      In response to a Freedom of Information Act request for the full, still-classified 6,900-page torture report, government lawyers wrote that most of the executive agencies that had been copied on the transmission of the full report to the White House from then-Chair Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) hadn’t opened their sealed copy — and in one case, never even picked it up.

    • Burr’s CIA stumble

      With this petty action, Burr signals that his time in this important chairmanship will be stridently partisan. It’s not a promising sign for a tenure that ought to be marked by constructive debate.

    • NEW: Sen. Wyden: Foolish to Return CIA Torture Report
    • GOP Senator Wants to Make Sure the Full CIA Torture Report Never Sees the Light of Day

      The new Republican chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee wants to make sure that a scathing 6,900-page report about the CIA’s torture of terrorism suspects captured after 9/11 is never publicly released.

    • Europeans should come clean on CIA torture

      Nearly 10 years ago, allegations were raised against some European states for colluding with the CIA in post-9/11 anti-terror measures. Amnesty International is now calling on these nations to come clean.

    • Report: Torture is a European problem too
    • Amnesty: Europe must admit to co-operation in CIA torture

      Rights group Amnesty International urged European countries on Tuesday to come clean on alleged co-operation with the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) in torture, and to help bring those responsible to justice.

      “Governments can no longer rely on unsubstantiated ‘national security’ grounds and claims of state secrecy to hide the truth about their roles in the torture and disappearance of people,” said Amnesty counter-terrorism and human rights expert Julia Hall.

    • Europe Must Face Up to Its Role in CIA Torture, Campaigners Say

      When the US Senate released the report on CIA torture in December, the world reacted with shock and outrage. The document detailed the “program of indefinite secret detention and the use of brutal interrogation techniques” that the agency embarked upon in the wake of the 9/11 attacks. These techniques included mock executions, waterboarding, and “rectal rehydration,” along with threats to family members, sleep deprivation, and forced nudity. One detainee is thought to have died from excessive cold.

    • Amnesty calls on European countries to admit CIA cooperation

      Rights group Amnesty International urged European countries on Tuesday to come clean on alleged cooperation with CIA operations involving torture and help bring those responsible to justice.

    • Amnesty Int’l Insists Those Responsible for CIA Torture Must Be Punished
    • Moscow Calls on European Countries to Investigate CIA Torture Practices

      Earlier on Tuesday, Amnesty International published its report outlining Europe’s role in secret CIA torture operations. The governments cited in the report include Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Germany, Macedonia and the UK, the last has been described as the “most important US ally” in CIA operations.

    • Europe Complicit With CIA ‘War On Terror’ Says Amnesty International

      European governments that cooperated with the CIA’s secret detention, interrogation, and torture operations as part of the USA’s global “war on terror” must act urgently to bring those responsible to justice following a US Senate report containing new details said Amnesty International in a new briefing paper.

    • Why is Hollywood Rewarding Claire Danes and Mandy Patinkin for Glamorizing the CIA?

      The Screen Actors Guild has nominated Claire Danes of “Homeland” for its Best Actress Award. It has also nominated Danes, Mandy Patinkin and the rest of the “Homeland” cast for the Outstanding Ensemble Award.

    • Exonerating the CIA

      Exonerating spooks for improper conduct is a regular feature of the establishment.

    • A Former FBI Special Agent Says The CIA Kept Him From Helping To Stop 9/11

      An FBI special agent who lost his job in 2008 told Newsweek columnist Jeff Stein his story about how the 9/11 hijackers slipped through the cracks at the FBI and CIA more than a decade ago.

      Mark Rossini said the CIA prevented him from going to FBI headquarters with the information that two known terrorists, who later went on to carry out the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center, had entered the US.

      Government reports on 9/11 blame a vague “intelligence failure” for the terrorist attack that killed about 3,000 people in 2001 and provide little clarity on why the CIA didn’t communicate crucial information about the hijackers to the FBI. This information, in theory, could have helped the US to prevent the attacks.

      Rossini said that after 9/11, when congressional investigators started asking him questions about his work with the CIA’s Osama bin Laden unit, he and another FBI agent stayed quiet at the direction of CIA officers.

    • CIA report indicates value of brutal torture was inflated

      That internal review found that the CIA had consistently overstated the value of intelligence gained during the cruel and brutal interrogations of some of its detainees, The New York Times reports.

    • CIA report: The CIA repeatedly exaggerated the effectiveness of torture
    • CIA Knew Torture Claims Were Inflated

      While the CIA and former members of the Bush administration have been waging a campaign in defense of the spy agency’s actions, its own internal report found that they were overstating how helpful torture had been. According to The New York Times, an internal review commissioned by former Director Leon Panetta found that the agency continuously exaggerated the intelligence it obtained during the brutal interrogations of detainees. According to the review, the CIA knew that information used to track down operatives from al Qaeda and stop terror plots did not come from interrogation of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, who was waterboarded 183 times.

    • Case Against CIA’s Jeffrey Sterling Raises Concerns of Press Freedom and Whistleblower Rights

      A major trial is underway in a federal courtroom in Virginia that, at its heart, is tackling issues of CIA interference in other countries, but also the Espionage Act, and the sanctity of journalists’ secret sources. Former CIA operative Jeffrey Sterling is on trial for several violations of the Espionage Act, that involves revelations of a bizarre secret operation called the Merlin Project.

    • Murder in Guantanamo

      The deaths of Yasser Al Zahrani, Salah Ahmed Al Salami, and Mani Shaman Al Utaybi were never accepted as suicides by their families, two in Saudi Arabia and one in Yemen, or by former prisoners who knew them, especially as autopsies showed the men’s necks had been removed. But the official narrative prevailed. It was “an act of asymmetric warfare waged against us,” Rear Admiral Harry B Harris Jr, the commander of the camp, told a press conference about the deaths. He described a “mystical belief” at Guantanamo that three men had to die at the camp for all of the prisoners to be released.

  • Internet/Net Neutrality

    • Google boss predicts that the internet will ‘disappear’

      GOOGLE CEO Eric Schmidt has predicted that the internet as we know it today will disappear in the future.

      Schmidt said at the World Economic Forum in Davos that the internet could become a thing of the past as online connections become ever smarter and personalised thanks to the growth of the Internet of Things.
      When quizzed as to his views on the future of the web, Schmidt said: “I will answer very simply that the internet will disappear.”

      “There will be so many IP addresses, so many devices, sensors, things that you are wearing, things that you are interacting with that you won’t even sense it,” Schmidt said, according to the Hollywood Reporter.

    • Google Chairman Expects Internet To ‘Disappear’ Soon

      Google chairman Eric Schmidt expects the internet as we know it to ‘disappear’ in the next few years as our online connections become ever more smarter and personalised.

      “I will answer very simply that the Internet will disappear,” Schmidt said at the Speaking at the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland when asked about his predictions for the future of the web.

      “There will be so many IP addresses…so many devices, sensors, things that you are wearing, things that you are interacting with that you won’t even sense it.”

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Copyrights

      • Men Tried for Extortion After Porn Download Threats

        Six men went on trial this week accused of blackmail and extortion after thousands were sent threats demanding cash payments for alleged adult video downloads. Former Pirate Bay spokesman Peter Sunde hopes for a conviction, but wonders if Hollywood content would’ve been handled differently.

The Latest ‘Microsoft is Open Source’ Propaganda a Parade of Lies

Posted in Deception, Free/Libre Software, Microsoft at 10:10 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

A ‘reformed’ Microsoft just a myth perpetrated and propagated by corporate media


Summary: Microsoft myth makers continue their assault on what is objectively true and try to tell the public that Microsoft is a friend of “Open Source”

Calling Microsoft “Open Source” anything is like calling King Abdullah a proponent of women’s rights or pro-women anything (as some elites already shamelessly claim). Microsoft is a strong opponent of “Open Source” and as with Abdullah, those claiming otherwise are either bribed or on the same boat as Abdullah/Microsoft.

We were disgusted to see a very misleading headline from Condé Nast yesterday. The latest propaganda from a Condé Nast publication reads like a puff piece from beginning to end, truly complete and moreover decorated with a highly misleading headline whose aim is openwashing the most anti-FOSS (Open Source) company in the world. Microsoft is doing nothing FOSS here; quite the contrary in fact, as it locks something behind a so-called ‘cloud’. To quote the opening paragraphs of the propaganda piece: “Microsoft has agreed to acquire open-source software company Revolution Analytics, heavily embracing the R programming language, a data analysis tool widely used by both academics and corporate data scientists.”

Revolution Analytics is not an “Open Source” company (the headline misuses this brand). The term “open-source” with a dash serves to highlight that the author is misusing brands (the OSI controls this brand and can potentially take action if it chooses to). Last night we checked all the new articles other than the afore-linked article and all these article did not use the spin. Not even known Microsoft boosters with a long track record did this. To name all which were published around the same time (mostly from Microsoft boosters):

Going through ~30 articles about Revolution Analytics helps reaffirm suspicions that Condé Nast is now in the Microsoft propaganda business. We already highlighted such a trend before.

Now that Microsoft boosting sites are trying hard to paint Microsoft as “Open Source” the last thing we need is a paper like “Wired” (to Microsoft?) pushing this agenda, carrying water for a serial abuser that bribes journalists and misleads the world’s technical community through journalists.

A roundup from Jim Lynch has responded to another recent propaganda piece from Condé Nast (by Microsoft Peter), citing in response to it this call to destroy Internet Explorer (which Condé Nast is openwashing). To quote Slate: “Internet Explorer has become a liability, and I’m happy to report that Microsoft seems to know that.”

Another article worth highlighting is this piece from Andy Patrizio, who has a long history of shilling for Microsoft although we have not seen much of him in recent years. He now works for Microsoft’s propaganda section of the Microsoft-friendly NetworkWorld, carrying water for the Moodle "embrace extend and extinguish" move by Microsoft.

While we expect this kind of openwashing from allies of Microsoft, bribed authors (publications that are run on Microsoft money), etc. we don’t typically expect it from “Wired” because historically, before Condé Nast acquired “Wired”, the paper had covered Microsoft properly, especially in the antitrust days. Condé Nast basically shattered any illusion of neutrality. “Wired” is now reduced to the churnalism business, as a recent statement from its head of operations served to confirm (this quickly reached the media and went viral).

Microsoft does not “love Linux” and it does not “March Toward Open Source” as “Wired” wants us to believe. Microsoft embraces patent abuse and aggression against Open Source because it’s the company’s last resort. Microsoft also tries to infiltrate (to destroy) Open Source and it’s easy to see why, especially now that Microsoft suffers more layoffs (see context). A report from this week “noted that both HP and Microsoft announced plans to cut payrolls by 59,523, a combined 69 percent increase from the 35,136 job cuts by these companies in 2013.”

Microsoft is going down. Don’t let Microsoft drag FOSS down with it.

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

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

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

Foul apple

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Benoît Battistelli

Benoît Battistelli meets Siemens

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dear Sir/Madam,

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

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

Yours sincerely,


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

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

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


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


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

Secretariat of the Committee on Petitions

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

Postal Address

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

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

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