03.25.16

Gemini version available ♊︎

Links 25/3/2016: KDE Applications 16.04 Beta and *buntu Betas

Posted in News Roundup at 10:03 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

Free Software/Open Source

  • How to hurdle community management obstacles

    Another risk organizations face when initiating a community support program is mistaking the community for a market or for customers. Although community members may also fit these roles, and traditional marketing and sales outreach techniques can be helpful at times, treating the community like anything other than a community can lead to resentment and ill-will from its members. Remember: A community is a self-organized and self-identified collection of people. Identification is a powerful thing, and treating someone contrary to their selected identification is arrogant and disrespectful. When an organization begins to think of the community it supports merely as a well-qualified market or as sales leads, it has lost connection with the community and risks public negative feedback and losing members.

  • An Open-Source Audit: Where Financial Firms Are Turning to Open Source

    Industry participants tell WatersTechnology about the use of open source among financial services organizations. Dan DeFrancesco highlights some of the specific work firms are embarking on in the open-source space.

  • Animation Software Used by Futurama and Studio Ghibli is Going Open Source

    The prayers of many starving animation artists out there may have finally been answered. Cartoon Brew reports that the same animation software used by Futurama and Studio Ghibli will soon be available for the low price of…nothing.

  • New open source software for high resolution microscopy

    With their special microscopes, experimental physicists can already observe single molecules. However, unlike conventional light microscopes, the raw image data from some ultra-high resolution instruments first have to be processed for an image to appear. For the ultra-high resolution fluorescence microscopy that is also employed in biophysical research at Bielefeld University, members of the Biomolecular Photonics Group have developed a new open source software solution that can process such raw data quickly and efficiently.

  • Events

  • Comms/Telecoms

    • Verizon SDN, NFV plans look to open source to counter challenges

      Telecom operators moving towards software solutions using software-defined networking and network functions virtualization technologies are finding a challenging environment. Traditional vendor support for such moves are being hindered by internal business models that are being overhauled by the move away from traditional hardware to commodity white boxes powered by software, which is forcing many telecom operators to search outside their usual vendor channels for support or turn internally to develop their own platforms.

    • Patton Enters SDN/NFV Arena with Virtual eSBC, Seeks Alpha Partners

      Implemented as a virtual machine (VM) within cloud infrastructure, Patton has tested its VNFs with VirtualBox, vmWare ESX, KVM, and OpenStack hypervisors to date.

    • Do What Providers Do; Open Source

      The Tier 1 providers use open source software. The providers use middleware to develop application for communications. Enterprises have now embraced open source software so they can create their own applications. Both providers and enterprises have realized that hardware has become a commodity, software rules.

      Open-source software has its source code available with a license in that the copyright holder provides the rights to study, change, and distribute the software to anyone and for any purpose. Open-source software can be developed in a collaborative manner.

  • Databases

    • Citus Unforks From PostgreSQL, Goes Open Source

      When we started working on CitusDB 1.0 four years ago, we envisioned scaling out relational databases. We loved Postgres (and the elephant) and picked it as our underlying database of choice. Our goal was to extend this database to seamlessly shard and replicate your tables, provide high availability in the face of failures, and parallelize your SQL queries across a cluster of machines.

      We wanted to make the PostgreSQL elephant magical.

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice

  • Pseudo-/Semi-Open Source (Openwashing)

  • BSD

    • Busy Week: UbuntuBSD, FreeNAS 9.10 Released

      Most of the attention this week has been around the release of UbuntuBSD, which in and of itself is a noble effort for those who want to escape from systemd, as the developers have dubbed it according to Phoronix. This manifestation joins Ubuntu 15.10 Wile E. Coyote — sorry, Wily Werewolf — to the Free BSD 10.1 kernel.

      To its credit, UbuntuBSD uses Xfce as its default desktop. It also joins a list of other marriages between Linux distros and the BSD kernel: Debian GNU/kFreeBSD, ArchBSD (now PacBSD), Gentoo/BSD and others along the FOSS highway. It’s worth a look and we’ll be giving it a test drive sometime soon.

      But for now, there’s a more interesting and significant development in the BSD realm rising on the horizon.

    • AMD Polaris Support Already Lands In LLVM
    • DragonFlyBSD’s Radeon Driver Code Up To Linux 3.18 State

      The DragonFlyBSD operating system with its AMD Radeon graphics driver ported from the Linux DRM/KMS code is up to a state equivalent to where it was in the Linux 3.18 kernel.

    • Why OpenBSD?

      Using OpenBSD as my operating system of choice is the conclusion of my now 20 years journey into UNIX-like systems. I’ve been using FreeBSD from 2000 to 2005 as my sole operating system at the time (both on servers and workstations), from 4.1 to the end of the 4.x series. I have fond memories of that period, and that’s probably the main reason why I’ve been diving again into the BSDs during the last few years. Prior to that, I had been running Slackware, which in retrospective was very BSD-like, since January 1996.

      When I first installed OpenBSD, two things struck me. The installation process was both easy and fast, as the OpenBSD installer, a plain shell script, is very minimalistic and uncluttered. It is in fact the fastest installation process I’ve ever experienced, and it made a really positive first impression. The second one is the quality of the documentation. Not only does the OpenBSD project produces high quality code, they are also very good at documenting it. And it’s not only man pages and documentation, presentations and papers also reflect that.

    • New routing table code (ART) enabled in -current

      With this commit, mpi@ enabled the new ART routing table implementation, which paves way for more MP network stack improvements down the line.

    • bsdtalk263 – joshua stein and Brandon Mercer
  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC

    • FSF to begin accepting scanned signatures for copyright assignments from India

      The Free Software Foundation is striving to provide more and simpler ways for hackers to contribute to the GNU Project. For projects that are assigned to the FSF (such as GNU Emacs or GCC), dealing with the paperwork for assigning contributions can sometimes be a bottleneck in the process. We are always working on ways to make assignment itself simpler. Our legal counsel at the Software Freedom Law Center recently gave us the all clear to begin accepting scanned assignments for contributors residing in India. We would also like to particularly thank Mishi Choudhary of SFLC and SFLC India for providing local counsel on this issue.

  • Openness/Sharing

    • Mycroft – The World’s First Truly Open Home AI

      If you haven’t heard of Mycroft, there’s a good chance you’ve been living under a rock. And not one of those fancy under-a-rock condos either—the kind of under a rock without—horrors!—wifi! Mycroft is a project over at Indiegogo and Kickstarter that has the distinction of being the first truly open source, open hardware home AI to grace the technological landscape. And, of course, it runs GNU/Linux.

    • Open Hardware

  • Programming

    • Jenkins 2.0 eases automation for dev teams

      Jenkins 2.0, an upgrade to the popular continuous integration and continuous delivery platform for software development, is due in April with improvements to the delivery pipeline and user interface.

      In version 2.0, the Pipeline subsystem will enable users to automate processes and describe functions, such as for running tests and builds, said Kohsuke Kawaguchi, Jenkins founder and CTO at CloudBees. Users “can describe this choreography of automation,” he said. The capability can, for example, enable users to execute tests in parallel, he said. Pipelines will be developed by writing code in a script language that serves as a DSL on top of the Groovy language.

    • Rage-quit: Coder unpublished 17 lines of JavaScript and “broke the Internet”

Leftovers

  • Worker Blames Google Maps After Tearing Down Wrong House

    Two owners of a Texas duplex found their home destroyed after a demolition company accidentally tore down the wrong house. An employee of the company blamed the error on a false addressing listing on Google Maps, according to WFAA.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • On World Water Day, See Our Extended Interview with Flint Activists Nayyirah Shariff & Melissa Mays

      As communities mark World Water Day, we turn to Part 2 of our extended conversation with Flint water activists Nayyirah Shariff and Melissa Mays. We spoke to them after Michigan Republican Governor Rick Snyder testified for the first time before Congress about lead poisoning in the water supply of Flint, Michigan, which began after he appointed an unelected emergency manager who switched the source of the city’s drinking water to the corrosive Flint River. Snyder testified along with EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy and Flint’s former emergency manager, Darnell Earley, who refused to appear at last month’s hearing despite a subpoena from the U.S. House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. Melissa Mays is an activist and founder of Water You Fighting For?, a Flint, Michigan-based research and advocacy organization founded around the city’s water crisis. She and her three children suffer from long-term exposure to heavy metals because of the water supply. Nayyirah Shariff is a coordinator with the Flint Democracy Defense League.

  • Security

    • Thursday’s security updates
    • Secure code before or after sharing? [Ed: FUD season. US moving to FOSS, so parasites pop up]

      The White House wants federal agencies to share more of their custom code with each other, and also to provide more of it to the open source community. That kind of reuse and open source development of software could certainly cut costs and provide more able software in the future, but is this also an opening for more bugs and insecure code?

    • SMTP Strict Transport Security Standard Drafted for Email Security

      Love it or hate it, email remains a must-have tool in the modern Internet, though email isn’t always as secure as it should be. When users connect to email servers, those connections have the potential to be intercepted by attackers, so there is a need for standards, like the new SMTP Strict Transport Security (STS) standard, published March 18 as an Internet Engineering Task Force (IEFT) draft.

    • Certified Ethical Hacker website caught spreading crypto ransomware
    • Certificate pinning is a useful thing, says Netcraft. So why do hardly any of you use it?

      Venerable net-scan outfit Netcraft has issued what cliché would describe as “a stinging rebuke” to sysadmins the world over, for ignoring HTTP Public Key Pinning (HPKP).

      Pinning is designed to defend users against impersonation attacks, in which an attacker tricks a certificate authority to issue a fraudulent certificate for a site.

      If the attacker can present a user with a certificate for fubar.com, they can impersonate the site, opening a path for malfeasance like credential harvesting.

    • Oracle issues emergency Java patch for bug leading to system hijack

      Oracle has released an emergency patch for Java which fixes a critical bug leading to remote code execution without the need for user credentials.

    • Hospital Declares ‘Internal State of Emergency’ After Ransomware Infection [iophk: "The FBI needs to prosecute those that brought Windows into the hospital."]

      A Kentucky hospital says it is operating in an “internal state of emergency” after a ransomware attack rattled around inside its networks, encrypting files on computer systems and holding the data on them hostage unless and until the hospital pays up.

    • Judge Won’t Consider EFF’s Arguments in FBI Mass Hacking Case

      Earlier this month, digital rights group the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) filed a strongly worded amicus brief arguing that the warrant used by the FBI for its use of malware to identify visitors of a dark web child pornography site was “unconstitutional,” and qualified as a broad, “general warrant.”

      But on Tuesday, Robert J. Bryan, the district judge overseeing the case rejected the group’s argument, saying it contained allegations of fact not supported in the record, and that it was simply repeating arguments already made by the defense.

      “According to EFF, a self-proclaimed ‘recognized expert’ on the intersection of civil liberties and technology, the law enforcement techniques employed in this case present novel questions of Fourth Amendment law,” Bryan writes in his order. The brief was signed by Mark Rumold, Nate Cardozo, and Andrew Crocker from the EFF, and Venkat Balasubramani, an attorney who is representing the organization.

    • Security education outfit EC-Council dishes out ransomware online

      Senior threat intelligence man Yonathan Klijnsma says the website of the EC-Council, the organisation responsible for the Ethical Hacker certification, is serving the dangerous Angler exploit kit to infect PCs.

      Klijnsma of Dutch firm Fox-IT says the website was serving the world’s most highly-capable and dangerous exploit kit hours ago to users of Internet Explorer.

      Checks by this writer appear to show it is still serving the exploit at the time of publication.

    • Weak links in the blockchain: We’re neglecting the foundations

      Premature infatuation with blockchain overlooks security weaknesses in the platform that underlies Bitcoin digital currency.

  • Defence/Police/Secrecy/Aggression

    • The Real Likelihood of a Nuclear War

      “When you destroy trust between nuclear powers you recreate the possibility of nuclear war, either by intent, or miscalculation. So this is a reckless and irresponsible act on the part of Washington….The information war that is going on now is to prepare the American population and NATO countries allies for military conflict with Russia. This is part of the preparation of that. We now have high level people in the US government and military who go to Congress and say that Russia is an existential threat. This is rubbish!…You have to remember that before the wars started in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, it was the constant demonisation of the leaders of the governments, against Gaddafi, Hussein. When you see these kinds of demonisation it fits a pattern.”

    • Glasgow mosque leader praises extremist killer

      The religious leader at Scotland’s biggest mosque has praised an extremist who was executed for committing murder in Pakistan, the BBC can reveal.

      Imam Maulana Habib Ur Rehman of Glasgow Central Mosque used the messaging platform WhatsApp to show his support for Mumtaz Qadri.

  • Transparency Reporting

    • Lost emails from Clinton server discovered

      Conservative legal watchdogs have discovered new emails from Hillary Clinton’s private email server dating back to the first days of her tenure as secretary of State.

      The previously undisclosed February 2009 emails between Clinton from her then-chief of staff, Cheryl Mills, raise new questions about the scope of emails from Clinton’s early days in office that were not handed over to the State Department for recordkeeping and may have been lost entirely.

    • Clinton Pressed NSA to Modify Unsecure Devices for Government Use

      Communications between the US National Security Agency (NSA) and then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton show she repeatedly tried to obtain unsecure devices for use in government business, according to emails released by the US Department of State.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife

    • After 115 Years, Scotland Is Coal-Free

      After some 115 years, Scotland has burned its last lump of coal for electricity.

      The Longannet power station, the last and largest coal-fired power plant in Scotland, ceased operations Thursday. What once was the largest coal plant in Europe shut down after 46 years before the eyes of workers and journalists, who gathered in the main control room.

      “Ok, here we go,” said one worker moments before pressing a bright red button that stopped the coal-fired turbines that generated electricity for a quarter of Scottish homes.

  • Finance

    • ‘Who’s Developing What for Who?’

      Our guest suggested instead that Chicago’s dreaded, ruinous red ink should be considered a mirage. Americans seem very accepting of the idea that we’re living in objectively dry economic times, and tough choices have to be made. But that tendency is precisely why it’s so important to hold a light on what, precisely, politicians and the press mean when they talk about public money we “don’t have” or “can’t spare.” Because a whole lot of human hardship gets predicated, gets accepted and normalized, on that assumption of scarcity.

    • Warren: ‘I’m still cheering Bernie on’

      Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) on Thursday said she has no desire for Bernie Sanders’s exit from the Democratic presidential primary.

      “He has put the right issues on the table both for the Democratic Party and for the country in general so I’m still cheering Bernie on,” she said while touring a community healthcare center in Quincy, Mass., according to The Associated Press.

      “He’s out there,” Warren added when asked if she thinks the independent Vermont senator should suspend his presidential campaign. “He fights from the heart. This is who Bernie is.”

      Warren refused comment on who she voted for in Massachusetts’s Democratic presidential primary earlier this month, AP reported. She also said she plans on making an endorsement but would not elaborate further on her pick.

  • PR/AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Member state offices in Brussels: wide open to corporate lobbyists

      Meanwhile, the report exposes the inadequacy of the current EU lobby transparency regime which is both voluntary and excludes lobbying directed at the permanent representations and the Council. The study shows that at least one in five lobby meetings at some national offices are with companies and organisations unregistered in the current EU register.

    • ALEC Exposed: Corporate Polluters Undermining Clean Power in Virginia

      Today, the Sierra Club Virginia Chapter and the Center for Media and Democracy released ALEC EXPOSED: Corporate Polluters Undermining Clean Power in Virginia, a report that reveals the influence that ALEC and its political allies have exerted to stymie state climate and clean energy policies.

    • Bernie Sanders Would Now Outraise Clinton Almost 2-to-1 With Small Donor Matching Funds

      Bernie Sanders would have raised almost twice as much money by the end of 2015 as Hillary Clinton for his presidential campaign if the U.S. had a system of public matching funds for small donors, according to a report by U.S. PIRG, a federation of the state-level activist groups founded by Ralph Nader in the 1970s.

      In addition, Sanders would also have far outraised any of the remaining Republican candidates.

      The U.S. PIRG report examines how 2016 presidential candidates would fare under a campaign financing system similar to that of New York City, which matches small donations to local candidates with additional public money at a six-to-one ratio. For example, if someone gives $10 to a candidate for the New York City Council, the city provides an additional $60, so the candidate receives $70 total.

    • Sanders Tip-toes in Criticizing Israel

      Sen. Sanders ventured hesitantly down the scary path of criticizing Israel, but even his timid approach looked heroic compared to the pro-Israel pandering from Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, says Joe Lauria.

      [...]

      Snubbing AIPAC requires a degree of courage in American presidential politics and almost no one dares do anything but pander to the hardest-line Israeli partisans. But Sanders, who is fighting for his political life in the campaign, hasn’t taken money from the kind of large donors that AIPAC coordinates. Plus, he could never match the other candidates’ fervor for Israel.

    • Most Americans Believe Palestinians Occupy Israeli Land

      Israel-AIPAC claims of ‘disputed lands’ are working

  • Censorship

    • How Rock Music (Mostly) Defeated Castro’s Censorship

      The Rolling Stones prepare their historic concert in a country that once banned the Beatles, and still harasses artistic free expression

    • Staging Shakespearean dissent: spring magazine 2016

      This year brings the 400th anniversary of William Shakespeare’s death and Index on Censorship is marking it with a special issue of our award-winning magazine, looking at how his plays have been used around the world to sneak past censors or take on the authorities – often without them realising.

      Our special report explores how different countries use different plays to tackle difficult themes. Hungarian author György Spiró writes about how Richard III was used to taunt eastern European dictators during the 1980s. Dame Janet Suzman remembers how staging Othello with a black lead during apartheid in South Africa caused people to walk out of the theatre. Kaya Genç tells of a 1981 production of A Midsummer’s Night Dream in Turkey that landed most of the cast in jail. And Brazilian director Roberto Alvim recounts his recent staging of Julius Caesar, which was inspired by the country’s current political tumult.

    • Report Shows Arts Censorship Reached Unprecedented Levels in 2015

      A new report on artistic freedom by the Danish free speech advocacy group Freemuse has found that global censorship and threats on artistic freedom increased significantly in 2015, according to the Art Newspaper.

      The report, which analyzes artistic freedom in over 70 countries, gathered data from media sources as well as partner organizations, such as the Copenhagen-based civil society network Artsfex. The findings show a 20 percent increase in registered killings, attacks, abductions, imprisonments, and threats related to artists worldwide, as well as a 224 percent increase in acts of censorship.

    • HK government is toeing PRC line: Nonsensemakers

      Members of the Hong Kong performance troupe Nonsensemakers on Monday accused the Hong Kong government of political bias over demands they claimed had been placed on the group as it prepares for an event.

    • Hong Kong lawmakers from all sides urge home affairs chief to explain missing word ‘national’

      Lawmakers from across the political spectrum urged Secretary for Home Affairs Lau Kong-wah to give a detailed explanation of the government’s controversial decision to prohibit a local artiste from publishing the full name of her Taiwanese alma mater in a drama programme leaflet.

    • Unnecessary fuss turns a cultural event into a political drama

      A government-sponsored cultural drama has unnecessarily been thrust onto the political stage, all because of the innocuous word “national”. A misguided sense of political correctness within the Leisure and Cultural Services Department is being blamed. Officials seem so eager to screen out perceived unacceptable content that even an artiste’s biography in a house programme is not spared. The alleged censorship is not just a threat to artistic freedom; it also undermines the city’s image as an arts hub and risks upsetting ties with other places.

    • Home affairs minister continues to evade questions over Taiwan censorship controversy

      The government’s home affairs minister has continued to avoid questions over the recent controversy whereby the word “national” was removed from the names of Taiwanese institutions by a government department.

      The Leisure and Cultural Services Department (LCSD) allegedly removed the word on different occasions – an act criticised by the affected Taipei National University of the Arts and by the Hong Kong Federation of Taiwan Universities Alumni Association.

    • ‘Insulting’: Taiwan alumni group in HK condemn gov’t over university naming row

      A Hong Kong alumni group of Taiwanese universities has “strongly condemned” a government department over a controversy whereby the word “national” was removed from the names of schools. The group called the incident “insulting”.

      On Monday, the Leisure and Cultural Services Department (LCSD) was criticised for allegedly demanding the word “national” be deleted from the biography of a member of a drama company which performed at a public theatre last week. The member graduated from the Taipei National University of the Arts. Other similar cases have since emerged.

    • Politicians slam Facebook for censorship of Yeni Şafak

      Ministers, deputies and lawyers condemn Facebook’s ban on Turkey’s most popular newspaper pages, called on social media platform to rectify mistake as soon as possible

    • After Withholding Mail, Army Allows Chelsea Manning to Read EFF Writing

      EFF is pleased to announce that the U.S. Army has allowed Chelsea Manning to receive a packet of news articles, EFF blog posts, and a regulatory filing related to prisoner free speech rights that it had previously withheld. Manning is currently imprisoned at the U.S Disciplinary Barracks (USDB) at Ft. Leavenworth for her role in the release of military and diplomatic documents to Wikileaks.

      As we reported last month, the Army had rejected the mail from a Manning supporter citing regulations limiting printouts from the Internet. Initially, the mail had been withheld under provisions that both limited the number of pages an inmate can receive from the Internet and allowed the prison to block Internet pages that it believed may violate copyright laws. The information provided to Manning made the actual basis for withholding unclear, and EFF wrote to the Army pointing out that printing the materials for Manning would not infringe our copyright. We also sent the materials to Manning directly.

  • Privacy

    • Hottest job? Data scientists say they’re still mostly digital ‘janitors’

      Data scientists are considered to have the hottest job right now, but a new study suggests they’re little more than “digital janitors” who spend most of their time cleaning data to prepare it for analysis.

      That’s according to CrowdFlower, a crowdsourcing company, which surveyed 80 data scientists with varying levels of experience.

    • Internet providers have built huge data systems to track every move you make online

      Web users face an even greater threat to their privacy as large ISPs align themselves more closely with data brokers to track their customers, an advocacy group said.

      Several large ISPs have either formed partnerships with, or acquired, data tracking and analytics firms in recent years, giving them a “vast storehouse of consumer data,” according to a report Wednesday from the Center for Digital Democracy.

      “ISPs have been on a shopping spree to help build their data-targeting system across devices and platforms,” the report says. “Superfast computers analyze our information … to decide in milliseconds whether to target us for marketing and more.”

      Through digital dossiers that merge all of this information, we can be bought and sold in an instant — to financial marketers, fast-food companies, and health advertisers — all without our knowledge.”

    • The NSA is trying to create a virtual clone of me

      It seems there’s a Twitter account that has been copying my tweets, along with the tweets of half a dozen other tech people who follow me. I don’t mean stealing our jokes; I mean only tweeting paraphrases of our tweets, even fairly mundane ones. It’s a shame that I can’t show you the account in full, because after an hour of our trying to figure out what was going on, I finally made a public tweet about this — and the account instantly vanished. A couple people verified by user id that the account was actually deleted, not just renamed.

      [...]

      It looked like the account of an average nerd named “Nikki V.” Except that it had 1600 followers, yet never garnered a single like or retweet. And seemingly everything it wrote was a paraphrase of someone else.

    • Georgia License Plate Reader Bill: Bad for the Public, Bad for the Police

      H.B. 93 began with good intentions. Georgia legislators saw a need to protect privacy by regulating how law enforcement agencies use automated license plate reader (ALPR) technology and limiting how long police can store location data collected on everyday drivers.

      Unfortunately, the version of the bill currently on the fast track to passage is rife with problems that would not only harm the public, but threaten security research and hinder law enforcement’s ability to ensure the integrity of ALPR systems. It could be voted upon by the Georgia Senate as early as Thursday.

    • Obama Has Gotten 3,000+ Tweets about Encryption. Let’s Double That.

      EFF, ACLU, and Access Now released a statement in support of Apple and its stance on encryption last week. We called on the President to reject any attempt to force backdoors like the one the FBI was seeking to Apple’s operating system. We asked our communities to help by tweeting at the President.

      Over three thousand people have joined us, sending a stream of tweets to the President.

      Since then, the FBI has at least temporarily backed off its attempts to strong-arm Apple into defeating its own security. But the backdoor battle isn’t over: Obama still must answer our petition on encryption, signed by over 100,000 people.

    • NSA Isn’t the Going Dark Solution, Part II: There’s No Such Thing As Magic

      Still, that outcome is not nearly as bad as the alternative. Paradoxically, things would be even worse in the universe that Richard Clarke believes we live in: the one in which NSA does, in fact, have superpowers. I turn to that world in the final post in this series.

    • NSA Isn’t the Going Dark Solution, Part III: “Beat Me If You Can”

      Turning to the intelligence community as a solution to the Going Dark problem increases the interaction between the classified world and the criminal justice system at a time when there are good reasons to support more separation, not less.

    • NSA Isn’t the Going Dark Solution, Part I: Richard Clarke Gets It Wrong

      Clarke’s allegation that the FBI is more interested in legal precedent than in solving the problem appears to have been soundly refuted by this week’s events. Not only has the FBI actively sought alternative methods to unlock the phone, but it has apparently found such a method. And it is apparently willing to use it as an alternative to compelling Apple’s assistance under the All Writs Act.

      [...]

      What federal agencies cannot loan one another is legal authorities; to the contrary, in providing technical assistance, they adopt one another’s legal constraints.

    • DOJ Steps In To Salvage The DEA’s Toxic, Possibly Illegal Wiretaps

      Late last year, USA Today’s Brad Heath and Brett Kelman uncovered a massive DEA wiretap program — one that was being run almost exclusively through a single California state court judge and being signed off on by a single DA’s office. The wiretaps were likely illegal, seeing as the warrants weren’t being run by federal judges. They also weren’t being signed by the top prosecutor in the area, as is required federal law.

    • Parliamentary Evidence on the UK Investigatory Powers Bill

      My written evidence to the Scrutiny Committee in the UK Houses of Parliament that is currently examining the much-disputed Investigatory Powers Bill (IP)…

    • “Snowden has done a service”: Former Bush official Lawrence Wilkerson applauds the whistleblower

      “I try to stay up with Snowden,” said Lawrence “Larry” Wilkerson. “God, has he revealed a lot,” he laughed.

      A retired Army colonel who served as the chief of staff to Secretary of State Colin Powell in President George W. Bush’s administration, Wilkerson has established himself as a prominent critic of U.S. foreign policy.

      He sat down with Salon for an extended interview, discussing a huge range of issues from the war in Syria to climate change, from ISIS to whistle-blower Edward Snowden, of whom Wilkerson spoke quite highly.

      “I think Snowden has done a service,” Wilkerson explained. “I wouldn’t have had the courage, and maybe not even the intellectual capacity, to do it the way he did it.”

      Snowden’s reputation in mainstream U.S. politics, to put it lightly, is a negative one. In the summer of 2013, the 29-year-old techno wiz and private contractor for the NSA worked with journalists to expose the global surveillance program run by the U.S. government.

      His revelations informed the public not only that the NSA was sucking up information on millions of average Americans’ private communications; they also proved that the U.S. government was likely violating international law by spying on dozens of other countries, and even listening to the phone calls of allied heads of state such as German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who subsequently compared the NSA to the Stasi, East Germany’s secret police.

    • Appeals Court Sends Smith v. Obama NSA Lawsuit Back to the Trial Court

      One of EFF’s three cases against the NSA, Smith v. Obama, has been sent back to the trial court by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. The lawsuit was brought by an Idaho neonatal nurse, Anna Smith, who was outraged to discover that the NSA was engaging in bulk collection of telephone records. This same program is challenged in our First Unitarian Church of Los Angeles v. NSA case and has also always been a part of our long-running Jewel v. NSA case.

    • Congressional Reps Tell NSA To Cease Sharing Unminimized Data With Domestic Law Enforcement Agencies

      The FBI announced (without going into verifiable detail) that it had implemented new minimization procedures for handling information tipped to it by the NSA’s Prism dragnet. Oddly, this announcement arrived nearly simultaneously with the administration’s announcement that it was expanding the FBI’s intake of unminimized domestic communications collected by the NSA.

    • Remember, It Was A ‘Lawful Access’ Tool That Enabled iCloud Hacker To Download Celebrity Nudes

      You may have heard, recently, that the guy who was apparently behind the celebrity nudes hacking scandal (sometimes called “Celebgate” in certain circles, and the much more terrible “The Fappening” in other circles) recently pled guilty to the hacks, admitting that he used phishing techniques to get passwords to their iCloud accounts. But… that’s not all that he apparently used. He also used “lawful access” technologies to help him grab everything he could once he got in.

    • Keystroke Fingerprinting Is Raising Concerns, Possible Kernel/Wayland Solution

      With companies like Google and Facebook having developed keystroke fingerprinting technology to identify users based upon how long they press keys on the keyboard and the time between key presses, this poses new challenges for those wanting to stay completely anonymous on the Internet. A developer is trying to come up with a solution down to the display server or kernel level.

    • We Asked NSA’s Privacy Officer If U.S. Spying Powers Are Safe With Donald Trump. Here’s What She Said.

      A QUESTION ABOUT the potential of Donald Trump wielding power over the country’s eavesdropping capabilities evoked nervous laughter, and eventually a careful answer from the National Security Agency’s recently installed director of privacy and civil liberties.

      Becky Richards, who was appointed to the newly created position in January 2014, insists the “checks and balances” on the intelligence community are strong — to protect employees so they can brainstorm new ideas without fear of reprisal, while also being properly monitored to prevent abuse.

      At an event last week on Capitol Hill hosted by the Just Security law blog and NYU’s Brennan Center for Justice, a reporter for The Intercept asked Richards, “Would you trust someone — such as, let’s say, a Donald Trump — to oversee these sorts of powers?”

      “I’m going to edit that question,” said Deborah Pearlstein, associate professor at the Cardozo School of Law and a moderator for the panel.

      “No matter who becomes president of the United States, you would want these exact same constraints in place?” she asked.

  • Civil Rights

    • Prison Telco Claims Prisoners Will Riot If Company Can’t Keep Overcharging Inmate Families

      For many, many years interstate inmate calling service (ICS) companies have charged inmates and their families upwards of $14 per minute for phone calls. Because these folks are in prison, and as we all know everybody in prison is guilty, drumming up sympathy to convert into political momentum had proven difficult. But after decades of activism the FCC intervened last year, voting to cap the amount companies can charge the incarcerated. According to the FCC’s updated rules, ICS companies can no longer charge more than twenty-two cents per minute — depending on the size of the prison. Caps were also placed on the fees companies could charge those trying to pay these already bloated bills.

    • Philip Hammond, the World’s Sleaziest Man and the Ultimate Corrupt and Undemocratic British State

      His second wife, Christina Estrada, a Pirelli calendar model, is divorcing him because he married (concurrently) a third wife, a Lebanese supermodel. Divorce in the UK is potentially expensive to billionaires. In September 2014 Juffali therefore acquired diplomatic immunity in the UK by becoming – wait for it – the Ambassador of the Caribbean island of St Lucia to the International Maritime Organisation, a UN agency located next to Lambeth Palace.

      As Juffali has no connection to St Lucia or to international maritime affairs, the High Court in London ruled that the appointment was a “transparent subterfuge” and that Juffali does not have diplomatic immunity. This incensed Philip Hammond who argued that the courts have no right to question his “actions under the Royal Prerogative”.

      [...]

      If the United Kingdom were a democracy, the Court of Appeal would defy Hammond and the police would be investigating him.

    • Hot Summer GOP Convention Coming Up After Appalling DOJ Report on Cleveland PD

      This July the GOP (Gasping Old Party) is going to hold its nominating convention in Cleveland, Ohio. Given the way things are headed, this may turn out to be a contested convention, where everyone but Donald Trump tries to make sure Donald Trump is not the Republican nominee. Trump, in a classy move, has suggested if he is not anointed there will be riots.

    • An Interview with Paul Craig Roberts

      For example, if a country has a law against GMOs (genetically modified organisms) the US corporation Monsanto can sue the country for “restraint of trade” in a tribunal that consists solely of corporations. The country’s own courts are bypassed. In short, the TPP permits corporations to negate any law in the countries that sign the “partnership” that does not serve the interest of the corporation.

    • Horror Persists, From Brussels to Cuba — Guantanamo, Cuba, That Is

      Islamic State militants attacked a European city this week, setting off three bombs in Brussels that killed 31 and injured 260. In the United States, the response was immediate, first with the outpouring of support from the public, then, unsurprisingly, with a flurry of bellicose pronouncements from most of the remaining major-party presidential candidates.

      The violence overshadowed what might well be one of the most enduring and significant accomplishments of the Obama presidency: the reopening of relations with Cuba, cemented when he became the first president in 88 years to visit the island nation.

      After the bombings in Brussels, Republican candidate Ted Cruz said, “We need to empower law enforcement to patrol and secure Muslim neighborhoods before they become radicalized.” Donald Trump told NBC regarding Salah Abdeslam, the suspect in the November Paris massacre who was captured in Brussels last Friday, “If they could expand the laws, I would do a lot more than waterboarding.” On CNN, Trump said, “He may be talking, but he’ll talk faster with the torture.” Give Trump credit for calling it what it is, torture. But actually advocating for torture?

    • Lawful but Awful: Texas Law Enforcement Agencies Must Find Alternatives to Lethal Force

      On March 13, 2016, off-duty Farmer’s Branch police officer Ken Johnson confronted two youths — 16-year-old Jose Raul Cruz and his friend Edgar Rodriguez — as they were allegedly attempting to break into a car. The youths fled, and Johnson pursued them, ramming the teens’ vehicle and forcing it to spin out of control. According to the officer’s account, an “altercation” ensued, during which Johnson drew his service weapon and fired, wounding Rodriguez and killing Cruz.

    • Two Lawyers Walk Into a Bar. And Get Kicked Out for Being Black.

      When the police arrived, several customers explained to the officers that the bar staff were enforcing the rule against us only. Some told the police that a one-drink rule did not exist. Others even tried to buy us drinks. But the bartenders wouldn’t let them.

      And still, the police forced us  —  two Black women in the bar  —  to leave.

      Police departments are supposed to enforce criminal laws and threats to public safety, not enforce personal biases.

    • Israeli Rights Group Releases Video of Soldier Executing Wounded Palestinian Suspect

      An Israeli soldier was arrested on Thursday after a rights group published clear video images of him shooting a wounded, immobilized Palestinian suspect in the head following a knife attack in the West Bank city of Hebron earlier in the day.

      The graphic, distressing video was posted online by B’Tselem, an Israeli group that provides cameras to Palestinians to help them document human rights abuses in the West Bank territory that has been under military rule since Israel first occupied it in 1967.

    • Humanitarian Groups Refuse to Partake in ‘Mass Expulsion’ of Refugees

      In a stinging rebuke to Europe’s political leaders, four prominent humanitarian groups are ceasing operations in refugee camps on several Greek islands this week because of what they characterize as human rights violations in the wake of the controversial EU-Turkey refugee deal.

      “We will not allow our assistance to be instrumentalized for a mass expulsion operation, and we refuse to be part of a system that has no regard for the humanitarian or protection needs of asylum seekers and migrants,” said Marie Elisabeth Ingres, the head of the Doctors without Borders (MSF) mission in Greece, on Tuesday.

    • The Fight Against Female Genital Mutilation in Somalia

      Somali Prime Minister Omar Abdirashid Ali Sharmarke is joining a campaign to end female genital mutilation (FGM) in Somalia.

      Sharmarke signed an online petition proposing a federal ban of the long-standing practice that 98 percent of Somali women undergo. Ifrah Ahmed, an anti-FGM activist, who herself underwent the procedure as a child, told the BBC she persuaded Sharmarke to sign the petition. Sahra Samatar, Somalia’s minister of women and human rights, said Sharmarke’s support is a “huge boost” to the campaign for a national anti-FGM legislation.

    • Brussels attacks: How Saudi Arabia’s influence and a deal to get oil contracts sowed seeds of radicalism in Belgium

      But the mosque remains a concern for the Belgian government: in August, a WikiLeaks cable revealed that a staff member of the Saudi embassy in Belgium was expelled years ago over his active role in spreading the extreme so-called Takfiri dogma. The cable – between the Saudi King and his Home Minister – referred to Belgian demands that the ICC’s Saudi director, Khalid Alabri, should leave the country, saying that his messages were far too extreme, and that his status as director meant he should not be preaching anyway.

    • The Obama Doctrine

      It appeared as though Obama had drawn the conclusion that damage to American credibility in one region of the world would bleed into others, and that U.S. deterrent credibility was indeed at stake in Syria. Assad, it seemed, had succeeded in pushing the president to a place he never thought he would have to go. Obama generally believes that the Washington foreign-policy establishment, which he secretly disdains, makes a fetish of “credibility”—particularly the sort of credibility purchased with force. The preservation of credibility, he says, led to Vietnam. Within the White House, Obama would argue that “dropping bombs on someone to prove that you’re willing to drop bombs on someone is just about the worst reason to use force.”

    • The Swedish Academy, which selects the winners of the Nobel Prize in literature, has condemned an Iranian death warrant against British writer Salman Rushdie, 27 years after it was pronounced

      The Swedish Academy, which selects the winners of the Nobel Prize in literature, has condemned an Iranian death warrant against British writer Salman Rushdie, 27 years after it was pronounced.

      Two members quit the academy in 1989 after it refused to condemn Ayatollah Ruholla Khomeini’s fatwa, or religious edict, against Rushdie for allegedly blaspheming Islam in his book “The Satanic Verses.” Citing its code against political involvement, the academy issued a statement defending free expression but without explicitly supporting Rushdie.

    • UK seeks review of UN Julian Assange ‘arbitrary detention’ finding

      The British government has formally asked a United Nations panel to review its finding that Julian Assange is “arbitrarily detained” in the Ecuadorian embassy in London, calling the opinion “deeply flawed”.

      In its first formal response to the finding of the UN working group on arbitrary detention, which published its opinion in February, the Foreign Office confirmed it would contest the finding, saying: “The original conclusions of the UN working group are inaccurate and should be reviewed.”

      In a statement, the Foreign Office minister Hugo Swire said: “We want to ensure the working group is in possession of the full facts. Our request for a review of the opinion sets those facts out clearly.

    • a simple (local) solution to the pay gap

      International Working Women’s Day was earlier this month, a day that reminds the world how far it has yet to go to achieve just treatment of women in the workplace. Obviously there are many fronts on which to fight to dismantle patriarchy, and also cissexism, and also transphobia, and also racism, and sometimes it gets a bit overwhelming just to think of a world where people treat each other right.

      Against this backdrop, it’s surprising that some policies are rarely mentioned by people working on social change. This article is about one of them — a simple local change that can eliminate the pay gap across all axes of unfair privilege.

  • Internet/Net Neutrality

    • Angolans Turning Zero-Rated Wikipedia, Facebook Into Ad Hoc File Sharing Services

      Zero-rating — the nifty trick companies use to edge around net neutrality rules — is being offered to developing countries as a way to provide cheap internet access to their citizens. There’s a bit of altruism in the offerings, but there’s also a lot of walls surrounding gardens. Facebook’s “Free Basics” is a zero-rated platform that functions like a twenty-first century AOL, funneling users into Facebook’s version of the internet.

  • DRM

    • LibrePlanet 2016 – Freedom Sympatico

      The interesting thing about the EME spec is that it doesn’t describe DRM – it just seems to describe an intricately shaped hole in which the only thing that will fit is DRM.

    • Memories of a march against DRM

      I participated in a rally against the W3C endorsing DRM last Sunday. I know it was recorded, but I haven’t seen any audio or video recordings up yet, and some friends have asked what really happened there. I thought I’d write up what I remembered.

      First, some context: the rally (and subsequent roundtable discussion) wasn’t officially part of LibrePlanet, but it did happen right after it. This was one of the busiest free software focused weeks of my life, and just earlier in the week I had been participating in the Social Web Working Group at the W3C, trying to hammer out our work on federation and other related standards. I’m so excited about this work, that it stands out in an interesting contrast to my feelings on a different “standards in the W3C” issue: the real danger that the W3C will endorse DRM by recommending the Encrypted Media Extensions specification.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

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DecorWhat Else is New


  1. Links 27/10/2021: Murena for /e/ and Red Hat Condemned for Its Nationalism/Racism

    Links for the day



  2. [Meme] EPO Presidential Surveys

    The 'social democracy' of Benoît Battistelli and António Campinos as demonstrated by a controlled survey (controlled by the subject of the survey, EPO governance)



  3. 'Shaping the New Normal' Survey at the EPO Got 5,554 EPO Staff to Participate, But It Was Controlled by Liars With an Agenda

    Last year’s EPO ‘study’ (hogwash about “quality” and other unscientific junk) was likely biased by virtue of autocrats controlling it and exploiting it for nefarious agenda and brainwashing of national delegates. The Staff Union of the EPO (SUEPO) has a new survey in the making.



  4. Many of the National Delegations (or Delegates) in the EPO's Administrative Council Have No Understanding of What They Vote on

    One must consider the possibility that ignorance or gullibility (which lack of qualifications may entail) possibly became a contributing factor — malice and bribery aside — in systemic failure of the EPO’s governance



  5. The EPO’s Overseer/Overseen Collusion — Part XXV: The Balkan League - Fresh Blood or Same Old, Same Old?

    We take stock of "captured states" that voted in favour of unlawful "Strike Regulations"



  6. IRC Proceedings: Tuesday, October 26, 2021

    IRC logs for Tuesday, October 26, 2021



  7. Beatriz Busaniche Speaks Up in Defense of Richard Stallman

    Beatriz Busaniche sent us this comment in July 2021. She wrote it originally in Spanish. Here are both the original text and our translation to English.



  8. Links 26/10/2021: SUSE Linux Enterprise Micro 5.1 and Multi-Distro Benchmarks

    Links for the day



  9. Links 26/10/2021: Vulkan 1.1 Conformance for Raspberry Pi 4 and Tor Browser 10.5.10

    Links for the day



  10. [Meme] Sounds Legit

    When not cheating on the wife, the EPO‘s “doyen” cheats in the exams and makes it into the epi Council, in effect working “[t]owards a common understanding [sic] of quality” with “patent attorneys nominated as “assessors” by the EPO, epi and BusinessEurope” (notorious lobbyists for dictators, litigation, and monopolies, neither business nor science)



  11. [Meme] Mayoral Patent Office Chief

    As it turns out, political 'double-dipping' isn't just a thing in North Macedonia, Austria, and EPOnia



  12. Romania's Patent Office (OSIM): Nine Different Chiefs in Just Eight Years

    The Romanian State Office for Inventions and Trademarks (OSIM), being the equivalent of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) in the sense that it covers both patents and trademarks, is a very flaky institution with no shortage of scandals; for our English-reading audiences we now have a summary of a decade’s worth of blunders and leadership changes



  13. The EPO’s Overseer/Overseen Collusion — Part XXIV: The Balkan League - Romania

    Romania’s patent office has been in flux this past decade, occasionally led by people with no relevant experience, but rather political connections (like EPO President António Campinos) and sometimes forged documents and fake degrees



  14. IRC Proceedings: Monday, October 25, 2021

    IRC logs for Monday, October 25, 2021



  15. [Meme] “Social Democracy” at the EPO

    Some comments on the current situation at the European Patent Office from Goran Gerasimovski, the new EPO Administrative Council delegate for North Macedonia and Social Democratic candidate for mayor of Centar (a municipality of Skopje)



  16. [Meme] António Campinos Visits the OSIM

    António Campinos visits OSIM Director-General Ionel Muscalu in February 2014



  17. [Meme] [Teaser] Meet the President

    Later today we shall see what Romania did for Battistelli



  18. Links 26/10/2021: Latte Dock 0.10.3 and Linux 5.15 RC7

    Links for the day



  19. Gemini Protocol's Originator: “I Continue to Care About This Project and I Care About the Community That Has Formed Around It.”

    'Solderpunk' is back from a long hiatus; this bodes well for Geminispace, which grew fast in spite of the conspicuous absence



  20. Bulgarian Like Bavarian Serfdom

    Bulgarian politics seem to have played a big role in selecting chiefs and delegates who backed Benoît Battistelli‘s unlawful proposals, which treat workers almost like slaves and ordinary citizens as disposable ‘collaterals’



  21. The EPO’s Overseer/Overseen Collusion — Part XXIII: The Balkan League - Bulgaria

    Today we examine the role of Bulgaria in Benoît Battistelli‘s liberticidal regime at the EPO (as well as under António Campinos, from 2018 to present) with particular focus on political machinations



  22. Links 25/10/2021: New Slackware64-current and a Look at Ubuntu Budgie

    Links for the day



  23. Links 25/10/2021: pg_statement_rollback 1.3 and Lots of Patent Catchup

    Links for the day



  24. Microsoft GitHub Exposé — Part III — A Story of Plagiarism and Likely Securities Fraud

    Today we tread slowly and take another step ahead, revealing the nature of only some among many problems that GitHub and Microsoft are hiding from the general public (to the point of spiking media reports)



  25. [Meme] [Teaser] Oligarchs-Controlled Patent Offices With Media Connections That Cover Up Corruption

    As we shall see later today, the ‘underworld’ in Bulgaria played a role or pulled the strings of politically-appointed administrators who guarded Benoît Battistelli‘s liberticidal regime at the EPO



  26. IRC Proceedings: Sunday, October 24, 2021

    IRC logs for Sunday, October 24, 2021



  27. Links 25/10/2021: EasyOS 3.1 and Bareflank 3.0

    Links for the day



  28. The Demolition of the EPO Was Made Possible With Assistance From Countries That Barely Have European Patents

    The legal basis of today's EPO has been crushed; a lot of this was made possible by countries with barely any stakes in the outcome



  29. The EPO’s Overseer/Overseen Collusion — Part XXII: The Balkan League - North Macedonia and Albania

    We continue to look at Benoît Battistelli‘s enablers at the EPO



  30. Links 24/10/2021: GPS Daemon (GPSD) Bug and Lots of Openwashing

    Links for the day


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