Microsoft Accounting Practices After Fire Again, After Previous Abuses and Book-Cooking

Posted in Finance, Microsoft at 5:41 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: After the infamous IRS brawl comes another confrontation between Microsoft and the SEC, which is unhappy with Microsoft for seemingly cooking the books again

AS OUR longtime readers may know, Microsoft’s financial fraud is a good example of how certain companies with strong government connections essentially exist above the law. According to this new SEC correspondence (regarding filings), Microsoft tricks — same ones as those we have covered here for years — upset the regulators. Robert Pogson has already written about it and it comes at a time when Microsoft is under investigation by the IRS too. “I’ve been reporting that for years now and the SEC is concerned that investors may not be getting the full story because of the layout and detail of Microsoft’s filings,” he wrote.

Microsoft got caught by the SEC even in the 1990s, whereupon it bribed the whistleblower to escape true accountability. It’s a “too big to jail” scenario. Microsoft’s financial practices have historically reaffirmed its status as a criminal, corrupt entity. Perhaps we are going to see more of that in months or years to come. Perhaps not, assuming Microsoft can pull some strings inside the government (with moles or nepotism, like those who help the Microsoft dodge tax).

Links 26/1/2015: Debian 8.0 “Jessie” RC1, Linux Kernel 3.19 RC6

Posted in News Roundup at 4:54 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish



  • Desktop

    • OEMs Adapt To The Decline In The Market For PCs

      ACER, for instance, is even diversifying ChromeBooks, cranking out small, medium and large sizes.

      Meanwhile, Qualcomm is rumoured to be shipping a 14nm, 8-cored, LPDDR4 RAMed monster “for mobiles”, and other processors with clocks in the 2-2.5gHz range, in late 2015. If you don’t think desktops/notebooks/tablets/smartphones will all shine with such power, you are living in a deep hole. OEMs will find a way to integrate ARM into every aspect of IT. We are no longer living in a time when */Linux or ARM were just “barely good enough”. They are perfect for many purposes. Consumers want them. OEMs will supply them. Shipped by the millions, these new solutions will cost much less than Wintel’s monopolistic prices.

    • Intel’s Education Content Access Point for Schools Runs Ubuntu

      It’s been a long time since Canonical’s Ubuntu Linux has made big headlines in the education market. Thanks to Intel (INTC), however, the open source operating system may soon have a new presence in classrooms as part of the Intel Education Content Access Point.

    • Intel readying first NUC mini-desktop PC with Core i7 Broadwell processor
  • Server

    • CERN and NI Collaborate to Define the Future of LabVIEW Support for Linux 64-Bit

      NI (Nasdaq: NATI), the provider of solutions that enable engineers and scientists to solve the world’s greatest engineering challenges, announced a collaboration with CERN, an intergovernmental research organization building the world’s largest and most advanced scientific instruments. The objective is to push the standardization of all CERN control systems to Linux 64-bit OSs, with goals to boost system performance, design cost-effective distributed control systems and enlarge opportunities for small and medium enterprises with expertise in NI and open-source technologies.

  • Kernel Space

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

      • KDE battery monitor

        In loosely related news, this old status is still valid. UMTS is stable-ish now but even though I saved the SIM’s PIN, KDE always displays a “SIM PIN unlock request” prompt after booting or hibernating. Once I enter that PIN, systemd tells me that a system policy prevents the change and wants my user password. If anyone knows how to get rid of that, I would also appreciate any pointers.

      • KDE Frameworks 5 based apps available in copr

        I have built RPM packages of some KDE applications frameworks branch, such as Konsole, Dolphin which are available in my copr. It is based on the Plasma-5.2 beta copr from Dan Vratil, you’d need to enable it first to pull dependencies. Packages are available for Fedora 20 and 21, i686 and x86_64 architectures.

  • Distributions

  • Devices/Embedded

    • MatchStick Hands-On: A Cheap Open Source Chromecast? Yes Please.

      Chromecast has largely caught on as a way to easily use services like Netflix on your computer. MatchStick is an open source HDMI stick for everyone who wants to use there TV for more than just watching movies.

    • Phones

      • Tizen

        • Why I prefer Samsung Gear’s Tizen to Android Wear

          A few months ago our US Senior Editor Andrew Grush offered his praise of the Moto 360, having spent a month with it. Despite the quality of the writing itself, I took issue with the core of the content: that Android Wear is a suitable platform for wearables. I have to disagree, at least as things now stand. Android Wear seems fundamentally broken due to its being chained to Google Now and a smartphone, something not so true of Samsung’s Gear products, which run on Tizen.

      • Android

        • Google Project Ara Modules Will Be Compatible with BLOCKS Modular Smartwatch

          A while ago we talked about the BLOCKS modular smartwatch platform, which is built according to rules similar to Google’s Project Ara, an initiative that aims to build a smartphone made out of swappable modules.

        • Microsoft, Adobe beat open source developers to Android
        • Cyanogen CEO says he wants to ‘take Android away from Google’

          Cyanogen is one of the most popular open source Android variants, running on the OnePlus One and and available for all to tinker with on their own phone.

          But CEO Kirt McMaster has bigger plans. He hopes to build it into a full-fledged Android rival with its own app store and a more “open” structure that recalls the early days of Android.

        • Sony SmartWatch 3 Review: Android Wear’s First Generation Champion

          Sony is both early to the smartwatch game, and late at the same time. The SmartWatch 3 puts aside some of the lessons of Sony’s previous wearables, but manages to learn some valuable lessons from the competition.

        • Conjuring Android’s best features

          GOOGLE’S LATEST ANDROID mobile operating system is incredibly powerful. Many of us don’t come close to touching its potential capabilities.

        • Google Updates Its Android Compatibility Definition Document For Lollipop

          Google’s compatibility definition document (CDD) is meant to provide guidelines, requirements, and recommendations to Android device manufacturers who want their devices to be “compatible” with the latest release of Android, allowing them to pass Google’s Compatibility Test Suite.

        • Android Lollipop UK release date, new features and upgrades: When will my phone get Android Lollipop?

          When will your phone get Android Lollipop? The final version of Android 5.0 Lollipop was unveiled only in October, yet Android 5.1 Lollipop is rumoured to be on its way. Here’s what you need to know about Android Lollipop’s release date, design and new features – plus when your phone will get the upgrade. Also see: When will my phone get Android Lollipop?

        • Galaxy S5 Android Lollipop update coming to the U.S. as early as next week

          Proud (or otherwise) owners of the Samsung Galaxy S5 are lucky enough to be among the first ones with Samsung phones to get Android 5.0 Lollipop on a carrier device. The update has started rolling out about a week ago, and people all over the world, except in America, are reporting that the OTA is hitting their phones. Good for you! It seems that only European and some Asian countries are getting the Galaxy S5 Android Lollipop update as of yet, but that means that the U.S. should follow soon.

        • This man wants to be Google’s new worst nightmare

          Android is the most popular operating system in the world, but can it be freed from Google’s clutches? Android Authority reports that Cyanogen CEO Kirt McMaster last week spoke at a special event dedicated to the “Next Phase of Android” and he revealed that his company has a plan to decouple Android from Google and make it the truly open-source mobile platform the world has been waiting for.

Free Software/Open Source

  • Open source software for quantum information

    NIST is a world leader in quantum information research, harnessing the strange properties of quantum mechanics (nature’s instruction book for atoms, photons, and other microscopic systems) to vastly improve computational power, make secure communications systems, and affect many other applications. Quantum information products are already coming to market, with much greater impacts expected in the future.

  • What leadership and community look like at Opensource.com

    Our team celebrated during an afternoon last week that focused on the growth our readership has seen since 2010, but most importantly, an afternoon that recognized the tremendous work of the publication’s Project Lead and Community Manager, Jason Hibbets.

  • 30 community managers in open source to follow on Twitter

    Here, I’ve compiled a list of 30 community managers in open source you should follow on Twitter. All of them have tremendous experience. And there’s a good chance, if you’re going to this year’s Community Leadership Summit, you’ll get to meet many of them in person.

  • How open source can be a gateway to your next job

    By my observation, the demand for people in open source is at an all-time high. Open source technologies such as programming languages, libraries, and tools are now mainstream. Participating in an open source community can help you learn those tools, and when you go on job interviews you can not only discuss your shiny new degree, but you can point to things you’ve actually done that made a difference.

  • Events

  • Web Browsers

  • SaaS/Big Data

    • Why Security May Be the Key Issue in the OpenStack Race

      Still. the competition going on between the remaining players is fierce, and it is becoming increasingly clear that security may be a giant differentiator in the OpenStack race. In fact, Red Hat’s Vice President of Customer Engagement and Experience, Marco Bill-Peter, recently made that issue plain in a blog post.

  • Public Services/Government

    • Portugal engineering lab: facts favour open source

      Open source should win. This type of software is more reliable, more stable and provides more flexibility than proprietary software, says João Marcelino, an engineer working for Laboratório Nacional de Engenharia Civil (National Laboratory for Civil Engineering, LNEC), a state-owned research and development institution. On top of that, the software lets organisations inspect and audit the code without restriction.

  • Openness/Sharing


  • Time for IT jobs to be set aside for women

    With women accounting for only a fraction of people studying computer science, there have been calls for gender-related quotas for IT roles.

  • IT Jobs More Lucrative, but Wage Satisfaction Dips

    U.S. technology professionals earned an average salary of $89,450 last year, up two percent from 2013, according to IT jobs portal Dice’s annual salary survey.

  • Security

    • David Cameron says hoax call did not breach security

      David Cameron has said a hoax call he received from someone claiming to be taking part in a high level conference call, did not “breach security”.

    • Security advisories for Monday
    • Digital Democracy? – Yes, Please; but Not Online Voting

      It is a sign of the times that the Speaker of the House of Commons – not the first person that comes to mind as being part of the digital age – has established a Digital Democracy Commission to look into ways to re-imagine democracy for the connected world. With one important exception – that concerning online voting – its recommendations are sensible and to be welcomed. What follows is a selection of some of the more relevant areas for the world of openness.


      For what it is worth, this is my view too, and I regard it as deeply regrettable that an otherwise welcome report should choose to ignore such a clear and strongly-worded warning to avoid online voting completely until its many problems are sorted out. In particularly, setting a specific and imminent date for its introduction is premature and extremely foolish. I hope others join me in urging the authorities to ignore this particular recommendation, while accepting the others.

  • Transparency Reporting

    • Google hands data to US Government in WikiLeaks espionage case

      The alleged offences are:

      Espionage: 18 U.S.C. § 793(d) – imprisonment up to 10 years
      Conspiracy to commit espionage: 18 U.S.C. § 793(g) – imprisonment up to 10 years
      The theft or conversion of property belonging to the United States government: 18 U.S.C. § 641 – imprisonment up to 10 years
      Violation of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act: 18 U.S.C. § 1030 – imprisonment up to 10 years
      (general) Conspiracy: 18 U.S.C. § 371 – imprisonment up to 5 years

    • The war on leaks has gone way too far when journalists’ emails are under surveillance

      The outrageous legal attack on WikiLeaks and its staffers, who are exercising their First Amendment rights to publish classified information in the public interest—just like virtually every other major news organization in this country—is an attack on freedom of the press itself, and it’s shocking that more people aren’t raising their voices (and pens, and keyboards) in protest.

    • Search Warrants Against WikiLeaks Staff: Justice Department, Google & US Media Silence Threaten Press Freedom

      The United States government served search warrants on Google in March 2012 and demanded that the company hand over data from WikiLeaks staff members for the purpose of an investigation into violations of the Espionage Act, Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA), a larceny statute and a “conspiracy to commit offense or to defraud the United States” statute.

      Sarah Harrison, investigations editor, Kristin Hrafnsson, spokesperson and Joseph Farrell, section editor, each had their accounts targeted.

      The warrants required the disclosure of: all contents of emails associated, “including stored or preserved copies of emails sent to and from the account, draft emails and deleted emails; all records or other information related to the identity of the account (associated phone numbers, IP addresses, types of services utilized, account status, log files, any credit or bank account numbers associated); all records or other information “stored at any time by an individual using the account; any communications the person had with Google.

    • [A bit older] Barrett Brown statement: ‘This is not the rule of law, it is the rule of law enforcement’
    • Where Are Silicon Valley’s Surveillance Whistleblowers?

      Last week, following the terrorist attacks in Paris, British Prime Minister David Cameron said—surprise!—that his government needed more power to monitor online communications. He went so far as to imply that encryption itself was a problem, and later said that American tech firms “have a social responsibility to fight the battle against terrorism.”

      There was an immediate backlash from tech commentators, who pointed out that Cameron’s “snoopers’ charter” makes little sense in light of recent high-profile data breaches. But the tech industry itself was noticeably quiet. Silicon Valley appears to be at a kind of crossroads: will it continue to be a silent (and occasionally paid-up) partner in government dragnet surveillance? Or will some of the people helping to facilitate this surveillance finally speak up?

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife

  • Finance

    • China’s 2015 GDP growth forecast at 6.8 pct: UBS

      China’s 2015 GDP growth forecast has been maintained at 6.8 percent, as further policy support and export recovery is expected to help bolster the sluggish economy, said UBS on Monday.

    • Greece, London, Scotland and Europe

      The citizens of the United Kingdom gave 45,000 pounds each, every man woman and child of them, direct to the bankers in bailouts. We will be paying off that money in taxes – with vast sums in interest to the same bankers, from whom we borrowed virtual money they did not have, to give to them as real money – for generations to come. Quantitive easing gives yet more money to the bankers, cash in place of risky bonds they wish to dump.

  • PR/AstroTurf/Lobbying

    • Saudi Dictator’s Death Shows NYT as Pawn of Power

      As Murtaza Hussain of The Intercept (1/23/15) observed, in addition to fomenting religious extremism and sectarianism, King Abdullah participated in various US crimes throughout the Middle East and encouraged the United States to commit more. George W. Bush’s war of aggression against Iraq relied upon secret, extensive Saudi military assistance (AP, 4/24/04). And a classified cable from the US embassy in Riyadh (Wikileaks, 4/20/08) noted “the king’s frequent exhortations to the US to attack Iran.”

  • Censorship

    • Internet filters block websites of sex abuse charities

      The adult content filters being rolled out by some internet providers under a scheme championed by David Cameron are blocking the websites of businesses and charities and are a “distraction” for parents seeking to protect children from online pornography, claim campaigners.

      TalkTalk announced this weekend that it would follow Sky and become the second of the UK’s four major internet providers to roll out automatic filters for all its customers unless they specifically ask for them to be turned off. It plans to begin applying the blocks to all users’ accounts next month.

  • Privacy

    • UK Legislators Hoping To Rush Through New ‘Snooper’s Charter’ In The Wake Of The Charlie Hebdo Attacks

      The UK legislators, law enforcement agencies and intelligence services looking to expand the government’s surveillance programs got a big boost from the attack on Charlie Hebdo. This violent attempt to place extremist religious ideology ahead of free speech was twisted by many into justification for expanded government powers. Prime Minister David Cameron even went so far as to suggest that no citizen’s communications should be beyond the government’s reach.

    • New Measures Against Terrorism: No Doublespeaking On Liberties!

      After the attacks of 7 and 9 January, French Prime Minister Valls announced this morning a series of measures to “fight against terrorism”. Given this long speech evoking increased information retention and surveillance, La Quadrature du Net recalls that many recent announcements prepare a further decline of civil liberties on the Internet, and calls for greater political and citizen alertness on the measures to be implemented.

    • ‘A very real violation of privacy,’ WikiLeaks editor says of Google email release

      WikiLeaks has accused Internet giant Google of handing over emails of the whistleblowing website’s senior staff to the US authorities – and keeping the release silent. DW talked to one of those staff about the release.

    • Chaos Computer Club contradicts EU, demands full encryption

      The leading German computer club has rejected EU anti-terror plans to tap online chatter, instead calling for all online communication to be encrypted. Politicians, meanwhile, are seeking ways to read encoded messages.

    • Counter-terrorism is supposed to let us live without fear. Instead, it’s creating more of it

      People think that catching terrorists is just a matter of finding them – but, just as often, terrorists are created by the people doing the chase.

      While making our film (T)ERROR, which tracks a single counter-terrorism sting operation over seven months, we realized that most people have serious misconceptions about FBI counter-terrorism efforts. They assume that informants infiltrate terrorist networks and then provide the FBI with information about those networks in order to stop terrorist plots from being carried out. That’s not true in the vast majority of domestic terrorism cases.

    • Tell Britain’s Lords: Don’t Let the Snooper’s Charter Sneak Past You!

      Their eighteen pages of amendments to the Counter-Terrorism and Security Bill would grant the UK government sweeping new powers to compel telecommunications companies to harvest and store data collected on their users, and for police and intelligence companies to obtain and analyze that data without warrants or effective oversight.

      The Lords’ proposals were introduced at short notice, without the usual explanatory notes that would let other peers decide for themselves whether they are appropriate. Britain’s House of Lords are expected to consider the new amendments on Monday, leaving them only this weekend to find out just how bad these amendments are.

  • Civil Rights

    • Top Tory Leon Brittan ‘photographed entering underage sex den during police investigation’

      Leon Brittan was photographed entering an underage sex den during a police investigation, it has been claimed.

      The Tory Lord, who died on Wednesday, is said to have been snapped by officers on a 1986 surveillance operation focusing on rent boy orgies run in North London buildings.

    • Rupert Murdoch and the police treat journalists like terrorists

      Murdoch’s great fear was that the hacking scandal would lead to a corporate prosecution of News International. As the journalists who hacked the phone of Milly Dowler and made Sienna Miller’s life a misery worked for News International, and as the executives of News International justified their princely incomes by saying that they were responsible for the organisation, a corporate prosecution was indeed essential. It would show that the Crown Prosecution Service wanted to punish the powerful, not just the hired help.

      At the trial of six Sun journalists, which ended last week with the jury acquitting two and failing to reach a verdict on the other four, defence lawyers quoted Gerson Zweifach, News Corp’s general counsel. He feared a corporate prosecution of News International in the UK would destroy its American interests. (The US authorities are a little more willing to punish wrongdoing than the indolent Brits.) He had emergency talks with the Met in 2012. According to Scotland Yard, he told the police: “The downstream effects of a prosecution would be apocalyptic. The US authorities’ reaction would put the whole business at risk.” If you can get past his atrocious jargon – why can’t the managers of communications business communicate? – you will hear the panic in his voice.

      He need not have worried. Murdoch cut a deal to save his wizened hide. The police had no more right to go into his offices on a fishing expedition than they have to come into your home. They would have needed a reasonable suspicion and a search warrant. Murdoch spared them the inconvenience. The team behind his clean-up campaign went through company records and threw out journalists and journalist sources to keep the cops happy.

    • Gaza in Arizona: How Israeli High-Tech Firms Will Up-Armor the US-Mexican Border

      It was October 2012. Roei Elkabetz, a brigadier general for the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), was explaining his country’s border policing strategies. In his PowerPoint presentation, a photo of the enclosure wall that isolates the Gaza Strip from Israel clicked onscreen. “We have learned lots from Gaza,” he told the audience. “It’s a great laboratory.”

    • Jewish outrage as ship named after SS war criminal arrives in Europe

      Leaders of Jewish communities and Holocaust memorial groups in Britain and the Netherlands have reacted with rage and despair at the arrival in Rotterdam of the world’s biggest ship, the Pieter Schelte, named after a Dutch officer in the Waffen-SS.

      The vice-president of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, Jonathan Arkush, said: “Naming such a ship after an SS officer who was convicted of war crimes is an insult to the millions who suffered and died at the hands of the Nazis. We urge the ship’s owners to reconsider and rename the ship after someone more appropriate.”

      Esther Voet, director of the Centre for Information and Documentation on Israel (Cidi), based in The Hague, said that the timing of the ship’s arrival, shortly before Jews were targeted and killed in Paris and the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, was “a coincidence, I’m sure, but a sign of the times. We lost our battle to have the ship’s name changed, and we are left eating dust.”

    • American student arrested for Arabic flash cards in airport after TSA freaked out settles lawsuit

      “Five years ago, the Philadelphia police thought that carrying Arabic-language flashcards was enough to warrant the arrest of an innocent traveler,” writes that traveler, Nick George.

      With help from the American Civil Liberties Union, he reached a settlement today in a lawsuit brought against the Philadelphia police department. America is safe once again for people who like to study foreign languages and read books on foreign policy in airports.

    • The No-Go Zone Myth Comes To America

      The rhetoric around the debunked right wing media meme about the existence of “no-go zones” throughout France, the United Kingdom, and the rest of Europe, ratcheted up last week. Driven by politics, viewers, listeners, and page views, even the multiple mea culpas from Fox News just last weekend haven’t stopped the myth.

      By the conservative telling, in these supposed “Muslim only” enclaves the population has “take[n] over parts of the country, entire portions, towns,” (allegedly more than 700 in France alone!), and outside police are forbidden as extremism and Sharia Law flourish. And now, they present an active threat to the United States and our American values.

    • Protectors or Offenders?

      Jerry Maynard is reported to have been assaulted by a responding officer after calling paramedics. Maynard had called the paramedics after experiencing some chest pains while consuming liquor. The responding paramedics checked him over and determined that he was fine, so they left. A short time later the chest pains returned to Maynard causing him to call for a second dispatch of paramedics. This time, two county sheriffs accompanied the ambulance. The two deputies proceeded to yell at Maynard telling him that if he called again, they were going to kill him. One of the deputies then is seen by a neighbor’s surveillance camera shoving Maynard onto to the ground. The officer was put on administrative leave while the incident was investigated, but there has been no comment on whether actions or reprimands will be taken against him.

    • Sexual Abuse of Children by Ministers and Youth Pastors

      A pastor named Albert Young, who had been a minister for nine years in Philadelphia, was accused of fondling his 15-year-old, mentally challenged niece, all during his time in his office while running the ministry. This reverend who is a wolf clothed in a sheep disguise at Total Deliverance Ministries, was charged with using his leadership as the pastor of the church to be able to sexually abuse his niece. Allegedly, Young was placed into custody a week prior after being accused of enticing this young girl into his lap while in his office. On that night, once the girl was on top of him, young touched her, putting his hands inside the girl’s pants, kissing her neck, and fondling her buttocks as well as pressing his genitals against her and guiding her hands to his penis. As officials reported, the minor did report him and even stated to the police that he threatened her and ordered her to keep silent. Young eventually was arrested on the following Thursday afternoon, and was charged with unlawful sexual contact with a minor, corruption of minors, and indecent assault of a child. Yet he was released on $50,000 bail on Friday and his next court issue was on November nineteenth.

    • Open source empowers city archive Hospitalet

      Open source has modernised the archive of the Catalan city of Hospitalet de Llobregat (Spain). The software helps manage the administrative records, but also allows easy access to historical records. This facilitates research and education, and enables public information dissemination. For its historical records, the Hospitalet city archive implements ICA-Atom, a web-based and open source archive solution.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Copyrights

      • Copyright Reform: The European Parliament Must Follow the Reda Report!

        Yesterday, MEP Julia Reda presented in the Committee on Legal Affairs (JURI) of the European Parliament a report on the harmonization of copyright in Europe. She tables modest but welcome proposals for a reform of copyright, several of which have been supported by La Quadrature du Net.


Links 25/1/2015: Android Wear 5.0, Tizen in Bangladesh

Posted in News Roundup at 5:47 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish



  • Desktop

    • Google makes it easier to run Linux on a Chromebook via a USB drive…sort of…

      I have to give Google a lot of credit here. I noted in my earlier post how Chromebooks were all over , but now Google has potentially added even more value to them with these changes. The ability to easily run a Linux distribution would certainly add even more appeal to Chromebooks, particularly given their low price compared to the cost of some Linux-based laptops sold by certain vendors.

    • Forums Have Matured

      In craigslist people actually suggest installing GNU/Linux to fix things in the computer forum. No longer are they shooed away to the Linux forum. Well, there are some rude people but they don’t seem to get their way. It’s seems GNU/Linux is much more accepted than five years ago.

    • Completely open source, high-end laptop gets closer to reality

      If you’ve wanted a laptop where all the software is free and open source (FOSS), you’ve usually had to settle for mediocre hardware. Even FOSS champion Richard Stallman is making do with a ThinkPad that’s several years old. At last, though, it looks like you won’t have to compromise your ideology for the sake of keeping up with the Joneses. Purism has successfully crowdfunded the Librem 15, a portable PC that combines modern parts (such as a 3.4GHz Core i7 and an optional 4K display) with software that’s accessible from head to toe. The operating system (a variant of Trisquel GNU/Linux), hardware drivers and included apps are all free and open — Purism is even trying to loosen up the BIOS and firmware.

  • Kernel Space

    • Adventures in Embedded UEFI with Intel Galileo

      At one of the Intel Technology Days conferences a while ago, Intel gave us a gift of a Galileo board, which is based on the Quark SoC, just before the general announcement. The promise of the Quark SoC was that it would be a fully open (down to the firmware) embedded system based on UEFI. When the board first came out, though, the UEFI code was missing (promised for later), so I put it on a shelf and forgot about it. Recently, the UEFI Security Subteam has been considering issues that impinge on embedded architectures (mostly arm) so having an actual working embedded development board could prove useful. This is the first part of the story of trying to turn the Galileo into an embedded reference platform for UEFI.

    • Linus Torvalds diversity gaffe brings out the best (and worst) of the open source world

      Diversity is going to characterize a lot of the conversations about technology in 2015. The arrow of history is pointing towards greater inclusiveness, and the participatory nature of the open-source world places it in an excellent position to lead the way. But there’s a lot of friction, and a lot of pushback. It’s really up to the community to decide what it wants to be — and who it wants to represent its ideals to the world.

    • Benchmarks

      • Intel Broadwell HD Graphics 5500: Windows 8.1 vs. Linux

        Linux graphics tests of Intel’s Broadwell hardware are finally here! Going back to November of 2013 is when Intel began putting out open-source Broadwell HD Graphics code. Since the initial Broadwell code drop, I’ve written dozens of articles to date covering the Linux kernel work, Mesa DRI OpenGL driver progress, Beignet OpenCL compute support, and other key Linux components work on Intel Broadwell support. A few days ago I received the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon with Core i7 Broadwell CPU to finally see how the Linux support has panned out for this next-generation line-up succeeding Haswell.

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

      • Help test KDE Bomber game

        As Laurent mentioned we are moving some KDE games from kdelibs4-based to kf5-based for the next KDE Applications 15.04 relase.

  • Distributions

    • New Releases

      • 4MLinux 11.0 Allinone Edition FINAL released.

        The status of the 4MLinux 11.0 series has been changed to STABLE. Major changes in the core of the system, which now includes GNU C Library 2.20 and GNU Compiler Collection 4.9.2. The development of some of the 4MLinux editions has been dropped, but at the same time new 4MLinux spins have been announced. The most important one is 4MRescueKit, which has started its journey to become a lightweight alternative to other system rescue live CDs (there’s a detailed description on the 4MLinux Blog).

      • [IPCop Release]

        The latest stable IPCop version is 2.1.8, released on 2015-01-25.

      • IPFire 2.15 – Core Update 86 released

        This is the official release announcement of IPFire 2.15 – Core Update 86 which brings various security fixes across several packages. Hence we recommend installing this update as soon as possible and to execute a reboot afterwards.

      • Netrunner 14.1 OS Features a Different and Cool KDE Experience – Gallery

        Netrunner 14.1, a GNU/Linux distribution based on Kubuntu, featuring KDE as the default desktop environment, is now available for download and it comes with a number of important improvements.

    • Screenshots

    • Debian Family

  • Devices/Embedded

    • Phones

      • Tizen

        • Tizen Samsung Z1, made in India and soon to be available in Bangladesh

          As we have reported Samsung has been sending the parts for its Samsung Z1 SM-Z130H/DS to be assembled at its Noida plant in India, which has the capacity to produce over 4 million handsets per month. The Samsung Z1 was launched in India as the first Tizen based commercial handset at a competitive price of 5,700 INR.

      • Android

        • Signs of progress: One month with Android Wear 5.0

          We take a look at how Android Wear works, and even manage to break some stuff.
          Android Wear 5.0 came out last month—it was the third noteworthy update to the wearable OS, following versions 4.4W.1 and 4.4W.2. It’s not a significant enough update to merit its own standalone review, but it’s been a while since our last check-in with the platform. Plus, the launch of the Apple Watch is just a few months away at most.

        • Which Android device works with Now TV?

          If you want to explore the world of TV streaming you may be better off spending a little more on a budget Android tablet with an HDMI output, says Rick Maybury

        • Android 5.0.2 Lollipop to roll out for Samsung Galaxy Note 4
        • Cyanogen Wants to Wrestle Android Away From Google

          Cyanogen, the company behind the popular open source operating system and the OS of choice for last year’s OnePlus One, wants to be even more independent from the Google-based software that lies at its foundation. According to Cyanogen’s CEO, Kirt McMaster “We’re attempting to take Android away from Google.”

Free Software/Open Source

  • Your simple guide to Open Source technology

    What does this mean in practice? First and foremost, it means that unlike traditional software development that is done behind closed doors and with the windows barred and by a small team, Open Source software development by its nature has many eye balls on it all of the time. Anyone can submit bug fixes or improvements and this generally translates into fixes and improvements happening at a much faster rate. Security vulnerabilities and exploits are usually fixed quickly too, which is good for everyone.

  • LZHAM 1.0 Lossless Data Compression Codec Released

    Version 1.0 of LZHAM has been released, the lossless data compression codec spearheaded by Rich Geldreich, the former Valve developer involved in their Linux and OpenGL activities.

  • Web Browsers

    • Chrome

      • Linux Users Upset By Chromium’s Busted HiDPI Support

        While Chromium is usually quick to advance technology-wise and the Chrome/Chromium developers tend to be caring toward Linux, the support for HiDPI displays with the web-browser on Linux appears to be in bad shape.

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice

  • BSD

  • Project Releases

    • Rcpp 0.11.4

      A new release 0.11.4 of Rcpp is now on the CRAN network for GNU R, and an updated Debian package will be uploaded in due course.

      Rcpp has become the most popular way of enhancing GNU R with C++ code. As of today, 323 packages on CRAN depend on Rcpp for making analyses go faster and further; BioConductor adds another 41 packages, and casual searches on GitHub suggests dozens mores.

  • Openness/Sharing

    • Open Hardware

      • Build Your Own Open-Source SmartWatch

        If you’re not up for spending your money on one of the less advanced smart watch models, you may want to check out maker Jonathan Cook’s DIY Open-Source SmartWatch, part of which is 3D printed, something the prognosticators of future tech surely didn’t forecast. Cook shared instructions for making his SmartWatch on the webzine “Make:” and also on his own website, DoNothingBox. You can download the STL files on the DNB site, too. For around $125 or less you can make your own smart phone and you can customize it, something that you wouldn’t be able to do with a store-bought version.


  • Health/Nutrition

    • Harper’s Planned Military Splurge Comes At The Expense Of Health Care

      Ottawa’s deficit is soon to be turned into a surplus, which could be used for a number of important purposes. For instance, some such purpose is to help bring tax relief or to help make their unaffordable health care more affordable. However, Canada’s Prime Minister, Stephen Harper, has decided that instead of spending the surplus money on health care, this extra money will be used for military purposes. Even though Canadians would prefer that this additional money be funded towards their health care. This plan that Harper has laid out was not announced until he secured his majority to be elected as Prime Minister again. The plan will cut in half Canada’s rate of growth of federal health transfers to the provinces at an estimated amount of thirty-six billion dollars in over ten years. Thus, it will make Canadians pay more for their health care, when health care could instead be made affordable for all people regardless of their income status. This is true notwithstanding that the Canadian health care system is the second most expensive in the world. Considering all this, chances are that not every Canadian knows or even heard about Prime Minister Harper’s plan due to other irrelevant subjects clogging the media pipeline such as the new iPhone or another future royal baby.

  • Security

    • OpenSSL 1.0.2 Released

      OpenSSL 1.0.2 features Suite B support for TLS 1.2 / DTLS 1.2, support for DTLS 1.2, TLS automatic EC curve selection, TLS Brainpool support, ALPN support, CMS support for more ciphers, and a number of other changes.

    • OpenSSL 1.0.2 Branch Release notes

      The major changes and known issues for the 1.0.2 branch of the OpenSSL toolkit are summarised below. The contents reflect the current state of the NEWS file inside the git repository.

  • Defence/Police/Secrecy/Aggression

    • After Long Legal Fight, Inquest Is Set to Begin in Death of Putin Critic

      It has consumed more than eight years of maneuvering, obstruction and a widow’s dogged legal campaign, fought often on a shoestring. But finally, on Tuesday, a public inquiry is set to begin its quest for an answer to the question that has driven the whole process: Why did Alexander V. Litvinenko have to die?

    • Germany halts arms exports to Saudi Arabia

      Germany has decided to stop arms exports to Saudi Arabia because of “instability in the region,” German daily Bild reported on Sunday.

      Weapons orders from Saudi Arabia have either been “rejected, pure and simple,” or deferred for further consideration, the newspaper said, adding that the information has not been officially confirmed.

  • Transparency Reporting

    • Cyber questions for Obama’s AG nominee [attack on truth itself]

      Edward Snowden and perhaps co-conspirators in the conversion of 1.7 million classified government files for his use and that of his associates, or the media internationally, are also beyond the reach of the criminal law. Snowden remains in Russia and other infamous media figures associated with him, scattered around the globe. Wikileaks and Julian Assange have remained a menace to the United States over unauthorized disclosure of classified information also beyond the realm of a criminal prosecution. Ditto North Korea’s involvement with the Sony hacking incident.

      Worse is the chain of custody and control of stolen government property which is at best uncertain in the international cyber world. Last summer, FISA Court Judge Reggie Walton ruled that the NSA can’t keep metadata more than 5 years. However, no such injunction exists for Snowden, Assange, North Korea, the PLA, and the media in possession of stolen government information.

    • Google hands data to US Government in WikiLeaks espionage case

      Today, WikiLeaks’ lawyers have written to Google and the US Department of Justice concerning a serious violation of the privacy and journalistic rights of WikiLeaks’ staff. Investigations editor Sarah Harrison, Section Editor Joseph Farrell and senior journalist and spokesperson Kristinn Hrafnsson have received notice that Google had handed over all their emails and metadata to the United States government on the back of alleged ‘conspiracy’ and ‘espionage’ warrants carrying up to 45 years in prison.

    • Google provided Wikileaks journalists’ metadata in Julian Assange investigation

      Google secretly gave the emails of WikiLeaks journalists to the US government in response to an espionage investigation targeting Julian Assange, according to documents disclosed by the internet giant.

    • WikiLeaks demands answers after Google hands staff emails to US government

      Google took almost three years to disclose to the open information group WikiLeaks that it had handed over emails and other digital data belonging to three of its staffers to the US government, under a secret search warrant issued by a federal judge.

      WikiLeaks has written to Google’s executive chairman, Eric Schmidt, to protest that the search giant only revealed the warrants last month, having been served them in March 2012. In the letter, WikiLeaks says it is “astonished and disturbed” that Google waited more than two and a half years to notify its subscribers, potentially depriving them of their ability to protect their rights to “privacy, association and freedom from illegal searches”.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife

  • Finance

    • ‘It’s like a ghost town’: lights go out as foreign owners desert London homes

      Racine had everything a west London restaurant could ask for: beaming reviews, great cooking and an enviable location opposite the V&A on the Brompton Road. For 12 years it served immaculate French standards to discerning diners and from the outside it looked like an institution to last a century.

      But two weeks ago owner Henry Harris announced that Racine had moutarded its last lapin and would close. Qu’est-ce qui s’est passé?

      “It was inevitable. The site had become unsustainable,” says Harris. “A rent renewal was the catalyst, but the main cause was the shrinking residential population in what should be a saturated area. My original clients, who were 50 or 60 when we opened, were that bit older. Some of them couldn’t afford to eat out as often after the recession, but others saw what their houses were worth and decided to realise that asset. They were replaced by non-doms who didn’t live there. In some apartment blocks 20% were unoccupied – one in five of my potential client base. It makes a big difference. In the block behind the restaurant it even became easier to park. You never expect to hear that in Knightsbridge.”

    • London needs homes, not towers of ‘safe-deposit boxes’

      London is gloriously un-plannable and horribly unplanned. From the Romans to the Romanians, the immigrant tribes who now call themselves English have been drawn to our uniquely cosmopolitan capital. This heterogeneous cultural mixture may help to explain the lack of appetite for plan-led “improvements” or urban reshaping. There is no common cultural foundation upon which to create a formal grand plan.

      On my bedroom wall hangs an artist’s perspective of the plan Wren touted for the City after the Great Fire of 1666, fleshed out with buildings of classical design, looking like a beaux arts continental city. It is the first thing I see when I wake every morning andprovides a constant reminder of the dangers of “master-planning”. If Wren, or any other planner, had had their way London would have ended up like Paris, Bath or Milton Keynes – architecturally inspired, but difficult to adapt to changing and unforeseeable future needs. Paris is formally planned, lacking in cultural diversity and inward-looking – no one can become a Parisian. London is unplanned, culturally diverse and a world business centre – anyone can become a Londoner.

    • Syriza stood up to the money men – the UK left must do the same

      ‘When you study the successful experiences of transformative movements,” said Pablo Iglesias of Podemos, the new party of the Spanish left, “you realise that the key to success is to achieve a connection between the reality you have diagnosed and what the majority actually feels.”

  • PR/AstroTurf/Lobbying

    • When Calculus of Loss Doesn’t Add Up

      IF you start from the premise that every human life is of equal importance, then the judgments of news organizations will often be confounding.

      Because when it comes to coverage, some violent deaths — to misquote Orwell — are more equal than others.

      Such was the case earlier this month, when the Western news media, including The Times, was fixated on the attacks that left 17 victims and three gunmen dead in Paris. Coverage was wall to wall: In The Times, not a day went by, for 10 consecutive days, without at least one front-page story, usually two.

      Meanwhile, in a much more remote part of the world, the radical group Boko Haram had devastated the town of Baga in rural Nigeria. Early reports said that as many as 2,000 had been slain.

    • Ex-spies infiltrate Hollywood as espionage TV shows and movies multiply

      The place in Brooklyn looks like a CIA safehouse. Red brick office building with peeling metal awning. No sign. Inside, writers are plotting out the popular Cold War espionage show “The Americans” — one of an assortment of Hollywood spy and national security dramas being driven by ex-spies.

      The show’s creator and co-head writer, Joe Weisberg, is a former CIA officer who never fathomed that he would one day sit in an office with Soviet propaganda posters and a cutout figure of President Ronald Reagan, concocting television fiction.

    • Major Media Outlets Fail To Accurately Tell the Entire Story

      Brittany Maynard, a 29-year-old woman who was terminally ill decided to terminate her life on November 1, 2014. Maynard was diagnosed with brain cancer on January 1, 2014 and was told she still had some years left to live. When Maynard started getting more headaches that kept getting more severe over time, she went to get another check up and found out she had Glioblastoma multi forma which is the most severe type of brain cancer and only gave her about six months to live.

  • Censorship

    • Charlie Hebdo Chief on Censorship of Controversial Cartoons: ‘They Blur Our Democracy’

      Appearing on “Meet the Press” Sunday, Charlie Hebdo Editor-in-Chief Gerard Briard claimed media who censor his satirical magazine’s cartoons are part of the problem.

      “This cartoon is not just a little figure. It’s a symbol. It’s the symbol of freedom of speech, of freedom of religion, of democracy and secularism,” he told Chuck Todd. “When they refuse to publish this cartoon, when they blur it out, when they decline to publish it, they blur out democracy, secularism, freedom of religion and they insult the [citizenry].”

    • Military censorship is serving Likud

      UN observers on Sunday noticed two drones crossing the border from Israel into Syria, and shortly afterward saw columns of smoke rising from the Syrian side of the Golan Heights. It turned out those drones had attacked a convoy, killing Hezbollah commanders and fighters and a general from Iran’s Revolutionary Guard.

      Israel took responsibility via messages conveyed by semiofficial sources — government mouthpiece Israel Hayom, which praised the “precise and surprising action by our forces,” and a half-apology by a “security source” for the killing of the Iranian officer, delivered to a foreign media outlet.

    • Sky to censor customers’ broadband by default

      Sky will censor the internet connections of its 5.3 million broadband customers, unless they specifically choose to switch off the company’s Broadband Shield. The company, like all of Britain’s major broadband providers, has been offering the network-level content filters as an optional extra to customers since last year.

    • Sky Is The Limit For Pornography

      Internet provider TalkTalk is to block pornographic sites, leaving BT and Virgin as the only major internet service providers not to have filters for adult material turned on by default. UK Internet giant blocks porn by default to protect children, but IT security firms warn the move could create a new set of problems…

    • Freedom of speech campaigners claim automatic porn blocking ‘censorship by default’

      Freedom of speech campaigners and independent internet firms have issued a stark warning that the automatic blocking of pornographic websites is “censorship by default” and constitutes a “blunt tool” for dealing with inappropriate content.

      On Tuesday it was revealed that Sky had become the first major internet service provider (ISP) to start automatically blocking pornographic websites by default.

      The move, which has been condemned as a danger to freedom of expression by campaigners, was prompted by pressure from Prime Minister David Cameron for ISPs to make online filtering mandatory, saying that it was the best way to protect children online.

      According to Sky its customers will see a message reminding them to make a choice about filtering when they visit a page deemed unsuitable for children under the age of 13. At this point they can choice to accept the current setting or turn the filter off to visit the page.

    • Censorship is more dangerous than offence

      Twelve people were shot allegedly because of a picture of Mohammed. Much of the horror and outrage that we have since seen in the media comes from the horrific nature of the shooting. Yet much can also be attributed to the idea that just because people disagree with you, they can silence you – that just because you have spoken freely and offended somebody, your voice can be taken away. Vast crowds have come together – including more than a million in Paris, to condemn this assault on one of the most hard-won and treasured values in our society.

    • Self-censorship is biggest threat to free speech in Japan
    • Instagram Admits Pube Censorship Was a Mistake; Women’s Bodies Continue to Confound Them
    • Instagram pubic hair ‘censorship’ ignites sexism row
    • China blocks VPN services that skirt online censorship amid wider crackdown
    • China blocks VPN services that skirt online censorship
    • Guantanamo’s Detainee Library Won’t Carry a Guantanamo Detainee’s Acclaimed New Book

      A Guantanamo detainee who just published a critically acclaimed book about his life in captivity won’t get the opportunity to see his own book. Nor will 121 of the detainee’s fellow inmates.

      Guantanamo spokesman Captain Tom Gresback told VICE News that “at this time” the detainee library has no intention of purchasing Mohamedou Ould Slahi’s memoir Guantanamo Diary, which cracked Amazon’s top 100.

    • Air Force Maj. Gen. Attempts to Prevent Officers from Communicating with Congress

      Some in Congress are calling for an investigation into an Air Force major general who reportedly attempted to prevent officers from communicating with Congress and told them they are committing treason by doing so, according to the Air Force Times.

    • Censorship at the highest ranks of the U.S. military and the growing divide between the military and civilians
    • Inspector general rips TSA over redaction of JFK airport audit

      The Transportation Security Administration abused its authority to classify information as too sensitive for release when it blocked sections of a recent audit report from being published, according to the agency’s independent watchdog.

      Department of Homeland Security Inspector General John Roth protested TSA’s actions on Friday, saying in a statement that he suspects that agency officials wanted to “conceal negative information.”

    • V&A in row over self-censorship after Muhammad image is taken down

      The Victoria and Albert museum has attempted to conceal its ownership of a devotional image of the prophet Muhammad, citing security concerns, in what is part of a wider pattern of apparent self-censorship by British institutions that scholars fear could undermine public understanding of Islamic art and the diversity of Muslim traditions.

    • V&A removes depiction of Prophet Mohamed from website amid ‘severe security alert’

      The Victoria & Albert museum has removed a depiction of the Prophet Mohamed from its website amid security concerns just three weeks after the Charlie Hebdo attacks.

      The gallery mistakenly claimed not to have had any depictions of the prophet in its collection following the violence by extremists in Paris earlier this month.

      But after a US expert drew attention to a poster with an Iranian artist’s view of the prophet in the V&A’s collection it was quickly removed.

  • Privacy

    • Even When Sharing Top Billing with Edward Snowden, the NSA Is Unrepentant

      The only testy moment came during the question period, when a student forced the issue with DeLong and asked him whether he thought the public debate triggered by Edward Snowden’s whistleblowing had social merit. As DeLong responded, “With regard to Snowden, all I will say is that we need to let the wheels of justice turn in his case.”

    • Who Can Control N.S.A. Surveillance?

      Since Edward Snowden revealed the extent of the N.S.A.’s activities in the summer of 2013, there have been a number of official reports on the troubled relationship between surveillance and privacy—one from the President’s Review Group, two from the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board, and another, last week, from the National Academy of Sciences. In August, 2013, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence started a Tumblr, on which they’ve posted many interesting and useful documents, including redacted orders from the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISA).

    • NIST pledges transparency in NSA dealings over crypto standards
    • Kim Dotcom’s NSA-Dodging MegaChat is HERE And It Wants To DESTROY Skype

      Kim Dotcom is BACK and he’s got a new Skype-killing tool for the masses. Ladies and gentlemen, meet Mega Chat

    • ‘Anti-NSA’ messaging service MegaChat debuts in beta version

      Registered Mega users can try the platform for free at mega.

    • Shut it Down: Utah Bill Would Turn Off Water to NSA Data Center

      A bill filed in the Utah state house yesterday would deny critical resources – like water – to the massive NSA data center there should it pass.

    • Indiana Action Alert: Help Stop NSA Spying, Support SB458
    • Utah Bill Would Turn Off Water to NSA Data Center

      House Bill 150 (HB150), introduced by Rep. Marc Roberts, would require that the water being supplied to the NSA’s data center in Bluffdale be shut off as soon as the city’s $3 million bond is paid off.

    • Netherlands not the NSA’s lapdog: Interior Minister

      The Dutch intelligence services AIVD and MIVD are not the whipping boys of the American intelligence community, in particular the NSA, states the Dutch Minister of Interior, Ronald Plasterk. The statement is a response to an accusation made by former NSA employee and US whistleblower Edward Snowden, who said Dutch intelligence services walk on an American leash and are “extremely docile.”

    • China to look at Apple products, fears NSA tampering

      China is concerned about the potential for NSA backdoors in Apple devices. To address that possibility, the Chinese government plans to scan products when they are imported. Apple has agreed to let China look at a device’s security, as Apple CEO Tim Cook has reportedly been more than willing to accommodate the Chinese government.

    • China will screen all Apple products for NSA backdoor

      Apple has agreed to accept the Chinese government’s demands to run network safety evaluations on all Apple products before they can be imported into the country.

    • The Many Problems with the DEA’s Bulk Phone Records Collection Program

      Think mass surveillance is just the wheelhouse of agencies like the NSA? Think again. One of the biggest concerns to come from the revelations about the NSA’s bulk collection of the phone records of millions of innocent Americans was that law enforcement agencies might be doing the same thing. It turns out this concern was valid, as last week the government let slip for the first time that the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) had also been collecting the phone records of Americans in bulk since the 1990s.

    • Gormley: Nothing to fear but all those fearful things

      More terrifying than hackers, and only slightly less terrifying than terrorists, are investigative journalists.

    • Congressman Submits Bill To Prevent Police and Spy Agency From Tracking Americans Via Phone Locations

      The location function on smartphones is surprisingly strong. Having the ability to track an individual’s location via a pocket-sized is a tempting tool for police and other agencies, but a new bill from Congress could change that.

    • DOJ Pays $134,000 To Settle Case Of DEA Agents Impersonating A Woman On Facebook

      Back in the fall, we wrote about how the DEA impersonated a woman on Facebook, even posting photographs of her young children (which they had taken off of her phone), in order to try to track down drug dealers. The woman, Sondra Arquiett, had dated a guy who was convicted of drug dealing, and had herself been charged with letting her boyfriend store some drugs in her apartment, leading to a sentence of probation. DEA agent Timothy Sinnegen then took the photos off of her phone, set up a fake Facebook page pretending to be Arquiett and tried to “friend” people she knew, in trying to track down other drug dealers. Arquiett was totally unaware of this until a friend brought it up, leading her to sue the DEA.

    • How the CIA made Google

      Inside the secret network behind mass surveillance, endless war, and Skynet

    • Former Head of GCHQ Warns Of ‘Ethically Worse’ Kinds Of Spying If Unbreakable Encryption Is Allowed

      That’s remarkable for its implied threat: if you don’t let us ban or backdoor strong encryption, we’re going to start breaking into your homes. And it’s striking that Omand regards eavesdropping on all the Internet traffic flowing in to and out of the UK, or collecting thousands of sexually-explicit webcam pictures, as less reprehensible than a tightly-targeted operation against a few suspects. His framing also implies that he thinks those pesky civil liberties groups will protest more about the latter than the former. In fact, what defenders of privacy and liberty generally want is simply a proportionate response with judicial oversight — something that is straightforward with targeted “close access” work, but impossible with the blanket surveillance currently employed.

    • ​Web encryption leads to ‘unethical’ spy practices – ex-GCHQ chief

      The increased use of encryption technologies, particularly in everyday services such as email, will lead spy agencies to commit “ethically worse” behavior, such as hacking individual computers, a former GCHQ boss has warned.

      Speaking at the London School of Economics (LSE), Sir David Omand said increasingly secure encryption technologies, which currently allow users to message and email in private, mean agencies are unable to intercept mail, and could be forced into more direct spying methods, report the Bureau of Investigative Journalism.

    • UK government sneaks surveillance laws inside Counter Terrorism bill

      The UK government has been trying to impose new surveillance laws on the internet at large, but for the past four years privacy activists have thwarted attempts by Labour and the Conservatives.

      In a recent push, the government secretly added 18-pages to the Counter-Terrorism and Security Bill (CTSB), including a mirror image of the Communications Data Bill, rejected in 2012 for the potential of national surveillance on every person.

    • GOP faces Patriot Act choice

      Critics of the spy agency were quick to question Boehner’s take on the Capitol plot.

  • Civil Rights

    • The Jindal-Hate Group Relationship You Won’t Hear About This Weekend

      Louisiana Governor and GOP presidential hopeful Bobby Jindal is the keynote speaker for a rally funded and organized by an anti-LGBT group that has blamed gay people for causing the Holocaust and advocated imprisoning homosexuals. So why isn’t his appearance garnering national media attention?

    • Standing Up for Secularism

      In Saudi Arabia this week, doctors advised that the next phase of the punishment of liberal blogger Raif Badawi be postponed until he has healed from the first. Badawi has been sentenced to ten years in prison, and 1,000 lashes, for openly advocating secularism on his blog “Free Saudi Liberals.” Badawi has received only 50 of those lashes so far, and it has already put his life in danger.

    • High court protects federal whistleblowers in case that had broad implications

      Winning a Supreme Court case can be like winning a championship football game without cheating.

      It’s exciting and thrilling, but Robert MacLean said he isn’t planning on visiting Disneyland anytime soon.

    • Supreme Court Rules in Favor of Federal Air Marshal Whistleblower & Upholds Whistleblower Law

      “Federal air marshal whistleblower Robert MacLean’s 7-2 victory means that, after defending his rights for more than eight years, he will have a chance to achieve justice. The only issue left is whether MacLean was reasonable to believe that the government’s decision to remove air marshals from targeted flights endangered the public, since the Department of Homeland Security had planned to go AWOL in the face of a more ambitious rerun of 9/11.”

    • Supreme Court: Feds can’t fire whistleblowers for preserving public safety

      In the 7-2 decision in DHS v. MacLean, the court ruled that Robert MacLean, a former federal air marshal, shouldn’t have been fired from the Department of Homeland Security for revealing that marshals were being pulled from flights in 2003. Due to budget concerns, for nearly two months the law enforcement agents were kept off flights deemed high-risk targets for terrorist attacks.

    • Justices Rule Dismissal of Air Marshal Unlawful

      The Supreme Court ruled on Wednesday in favor of a fired air marshal, saying he was covered by a federal law protecting whistle-blowers.

      Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., writing for the majority in the 7-to-2 decision, said that the ruling might create security problems by entrusting the confidentiality of sensitive security information to “the idiosyncratic judgment” of each of the Transportation Security Administration’s employees, but that Congress could address the issue by amending the law. The president could also prohibit disclosure of the information by executive order.

    • High court sides with whistle-blowing ex-air marshal

      Robert MacLean was an air marshal on commercial flights whose job was to protect passengers and crew from terrorism. When the government reduced overnight flights to save money, MacLean took his objection to supervisors who took no action. So he leaked the information to the media out of concern for passenger safety.

    • In Victory for Gov’t Whistleblowers, Supreme Court Sides with Fired TSA Air Marshal Who Spoke Out
    • BBG’s Andrew Lack ‘should be fired from his job’ – WikiLeaks spokesperson

      Comparing RT to a terrorist organization is “absurd” and “shameful” for a person in a position like BBG’s Andrew Lack, WikiLeaks spokesperson Kristinn Hrafnsson told RT, adding that its “understandable” given how WikiLeaks was treated.

      Hrafnsson was refereeing to comments made earlier this week by the CEO of the Broadcasting Board of Governors, Andy Lack.

    • Introducing Mrs. Merlin: To Prosecute Jeffrey Sterling, CIA Exposed an Asset

      The government engaged in a great deal of security theater during the Jeffrey Sterling trial, most notably by having some CIA witnesses — including ones whose identities weren’t, technically, secret — testify behind a big office divider so the general public couldn’t see the witness.

      But along the way, the government revealed a great number of secrets, including a number of secrets about how its counterproliferation programs work.

      Perhaps most ironically, in a trial aiming to convict Jeffrey Sterling for revealing that the Russian scientist referred to as Merlin during the trial was a CIA asset, the government revealed that Merlin’s wife was also an asset.

    • David Hicks: US government agrees former Guantanamo Bay detainee is innocent, lawyer says

      The United States has agreed that former Guantanamo Bay detainee, Australian David Hicks, is innocent, his lawyer has said.

      Mr Hicks pleaded guilty in 2007 to providing “material support for terrorism” but his legal team claimed that he did so under duress and filed an appeal last year.

      Mr Hicks’s lawyer was confident his name was set to be cleared after the change of position by the US government.

    • Kippa-wearing Swedish reporter assaulted in Malmo

      A Swedish reporter who walked around Malmo while wearing a kippa to test attitudes toward Jews was hit and cursed at by passersby before he fled for fear of serious violence.

    • New Utah Law Instructs Cops To Seize Uninsured Vehicles

      Does the government really even need excuses to seize the assets of its citizens, especially for relatively minor crimes? Apparently it does, at least according to the state of Utah.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Copyrights

      • Why We Still Can’t Really Put Anything In The Public Domain… And Why That Needs To Change

        More than five years ago, we wrote about just how difficult it was to actually put something into the public domain legally. For years, we’ve said that all of our Techdirt posts (where we have the right to do so) are subject to a public domain dedication, but there’s nothing specifically in the law that says how or if you can really put something into the public domain. While you can make a public domain dedication or (more recently) use the Creative Commons CC0 tool to do so, there’s no clear way within the law to actually declare something in the public domain. Instead, the public domain declarations are really more of a promise not to make use of the exclusionary rights provided under copyright.

      • Zombie Pirate Bay Tracker Fuels Chinese DDoS Attacks

        On November 2009 The Pirate Bay announced that it would shut down its tracker for good.

        Trackers were outdated according to the site’s owners. Instead, they encouraged BitTorrent users to rely on DHT, PEX and other trackerless technologies.

        Despite the fact that the tracker is no longer functional, many old and some new torrents still include the tracker.thepiratebay.org announce address.

        While the tracker hasn’t responded to these calls for five years, for some server admins it has now risen from the dead.

IRC Proceedings: January 11th, 2015 – January 24th, 2015

Posted in IRC Logs at 9:09 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

IRC Proceedings: January 11th – January 17th, 2015



#techrights log

#boycottnovell log



#boycottnovell-social log

#techbytes log

IRC Proceedings: January 18th – January 24th, 2015



#techrights log

#boycottnovell log



#boycottnovell-social log

#techbytes log

Enter the IRC channels now


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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