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Links 14/10/2016: 20th Birthday for KDE, Apache OpenOffice 4.1.3

Posted in News Roundup at 6:24 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish



Free Software/Open Source

  • Google offers baseball bat and some chains with which to hit open source software

    For a while now, Google’s Chrome team has had a fuzzing tool to help them find bugs in the browser before bounty hunters do. Now, Mountain View has decided the same techniques can be applied to open source software in general.

    The company’s emitted the first generalised version of its OSS-fuzz software at GitHub.

    A quick primer: fuzzing involves sending random data at a piece of software to crash it and capturing the conditions at the time of the crash.

    Chrome’s in-process fuzzing is described in this blog post, in which security engineer Max Moroz introduced libFuzzer.

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • Bringing the Power of the Internet to the Next Billion and Beyond

        At Mozilla, we believe the Internet is most powerful when anyone – regardless of gender, income, or geography – can participate equally. However the digital divide remains a clear and persistent reality. Today more than 4 billion people are still not online, according to the World Economic Forum. That is greater than 55% of the global population. Some, who live in poor or rural areas, lack the infrastructure. Fast wired and wireless connectivity only reaches 30% of rural areas. Other people don’t connect because they don’t believe there is enough relevant digital content in their language. Women are also less likely to access and use the Internet; only 37% access the Internet versus 59% of men, according to surveys by the World Wide Web Foundation.

        Access alone, however, is not sufficient. Pre-selected content and walled gardens powered by specific providers subvert the participatory and democratic nature of the Internet that makes it such a powerful platform. Mitchell Baker coined the term equal rating in a 2015 blog post. Mozilla successfully took part in shaping pro-net neutrality legislation in the US, Europe and India. Today, Mozilla’s Open Innovation Team wants to inject practical, action-oriented, new thinking into these efforts.

  • SaaS/Back End

    • 14 facts about Newton, OpenStack’s 14th release

      Last week the OpenStack community celebrated its 14th release, Newton. Packed with new features, fixes, and improvements, Newton offers substantial upgrades in a number of areas. The official software project page includes more detailed information about the specific changes with individual components.

  • Databases

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice

    • Apache OpenOffice 4.1.3 released

      12 October 2016 – Apache OpenOffice, the leading Open Source office document productivity suite, announced today Apache OpenOffice 4.1.3, now available in 41 languages on Windows, OS X and Linux.

      Apache OpenOffice 4.1.3 is a maintenance release incorporating important bug fixes, security fixes, updated dictionaries, and build fixes. All users of Apache OpenOffice 4.1.2 or earlier are advised to upgrade.

  • BSD


    • Friday ‘Skeleton GNU’ Directory IRC meetup: October 14th

      Participate in supporting the FSD by adding new entries and updating existing ones. We will be on IRC in the #fsf channel on freenode.

      Tens of thousands of people visit directory.fsf.org each month to discover free software. Each entry in the Directory contains a wealth of useful information, from basic category and descriptions, to providing detailed info about version control, IRC channels, documentation, and licensing info that has been carefully checked by FSF staff and trained volunteers.

      While the FSD has been and continues to be a great resource to the world over the past decade, it has the potential of being a resource of even greater value. But it needs your help!

      This week we’re the ‘Skeleton GNU’ looking to beef up bares bones entries with more information. While even the most skeletal entry can be useful, the best ones have robust description, links to documentation and other resources. We’ll be looking for entries with minimal information, adding as much as we can and making sure they’re up to date.

  • Public Services/Government

    • “Netherlands lagging in transition to open government”

      The Dutch government is not doing enough to further its transition to an open government. It should step up its ambition in this area and start working on implementation. This was the main message from a meeting that the Standing Parliamentary Committee of the Interior had last month with the substitute Minister of the Interior Stef Blok on the National Action Plan Open Government 2016-2017 and the National Open Data Agenda (NODA).

    • US federal source code repository about to be launched

      The portal will serve as a software repository, i.e. a catalogue of all software the US government is procuring or building, and as a central place from which to disseminate a collection of tools, best practices, and schemas to help government agencies implement the policy. That makes this initiative closely related to the objectives of the Open Source Observatory and Repository (OSOR) project of the European Commission, of which the publication of this news article is a part too.

      The source code for the code.gov portal itself has been made available under a Creative Commons Zero licence, thereby donating the code to the public domain. The public is invited to contribute to its (further) development.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

    • Digital Republic Bill Uses Crowdsourcing To Promote Data Protection, Net Neutrality And Openness In France

      As the population of Internet users ages, this is likely to become a major issue. It’s good to see France tackling it head-on with the Digital Republic Bill — one of the few countries to do so. The proposed law now passes to the French Senate, but is unlikely to undergo any major modifications there, not least because it has already been subject to unusually wide consultation thanks to the innovative approach used in drawing it up.

  • Programming/Development

    • GCC 7 & Clang Are Nearing Full C++1z/C++17 Support

      While C++17 hasn’t even been officially released yet, this specification also known as C++1z, has nearly all of the expected features implemented in the GCC 7 and Clang compiler releases.

      C++17/C++1z features had begun landing in the GNU Compiler Collection since GCC 5 while some functionality even dates back to GCC 4.8, but the GCC 7 SVN/Git code implements a majority of the new language features. Support for inline variables was the latest feature to be added while many other new language features were previously added to GCC 7 development that’s been open since April.

    • Taking PHP Seriously

      Slack uses PHP for most of its server-side application logic, which is an unusual choice these days. Why did we choose to build a new project in this language? Should you?

      Most programmers who have only casually used PHP know two things about it: that it is a bad language, which they would never use if given the choice; and that some of the most extraordinarily successful projects in history use it. This is not quite a contradiction, but it should make us curious. Did Facebook, Wikipedia, WordPress, Etsy, Baidu, Box, and more recently Slack all succeed in spite of using PHP? Would they all have been better off expressing their application in Ruby? Erlang? Haskell?

      Perhaps not. PHP-the-language has many flaws, which undoubtedly have slowed these efforts down, but PHP-the-environment has virtues which more than compensate for those flaws. And the options for improving on PHP’s language-level flaws are pretty impressive. On the balance, PHP provides better support for building, changing, and operating a successful project than competing environments. I would start a new project in PHP today, with a reservation or two, but zero apologies.

  • Standards/Consortia

    • Celebrating open standards around the world

      Today, October 14, is World Standards Day, an event reminding us both of the importance of standards in our day-to-day lives, and recognizing the efforts of the countless individuals and organizations around the globe who are working to create and promote these standards.


  • Hardware

    • VMS will be ready to run on x86 in 2019!

      VMS Software Inc (VSI), which became the custodian of the venerable OpenVMS in 2014, is getting close to its Holy Grail of running the OS on x86.

      HP had decided that the operating system it inherited from DEC was end-of-life back in 2013, but in 2014 signed over an exclusive licence to VSI.

      At that time, the company’s CEO Duane Harris said VSI’s “passion for taking OpenVMS into future decades” would see it ported to Itanium and then x86 architectures.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • FDA: Homeopathic teething gels may have killed 10 babies, sickened 400

      To practice homeopathy, one must master the skill of diluting things in water—an awe inspiring talent, no doubt.

      At its core, homeopathy is based on the idea that “like cures like,” and remedies are made by watering down selected poisons that cause or mimic the disease being treated. Practitioners must at least dilute those poisons until they’re safe for consumption, but often dilute them to the point that only plain water remains. Tossing aside the pesky rules of physics and chemistry, believers argue that water molecules have “memory.” Those liquefied ghosts of poisons can cure a wide range of ailments, from allergic reactions to HIV/AIDS, they say.

      Though Ars has previously pointed out that this pseudoscience is clearly a “therapeutic dead-end,” providing a placebo effect at best, Americans still spent $2.9 billion on them in 2007. Some may argue that such spending on expensive placebo water is harmless. But the discussion changes dramatically when federal regulators catch homeopaths that aren’t so skilled at the art of dilution.

    • Grand jury investigation sought over Snyder legal fees for Flint

      A former chairman of the Michigan Democratic Party has asked the Ingham County Circuit Court to appoint a one-person grand jury to investigate Gov. Rick Snyder charging taxpayers for his criminal defense legal fees related to the Flint drinking water crisis.

      Snyder’s office says the contract in dispute — a $2-million contract with Warner Norcross of Grand Rapids — is lawful because the legal advice relates to actions Snyder took in his official capacity as governor.

      Mark Brewer held news conferences in Lansing and Flint on Wednesday to announce he had filed a complaint Tuesday against Snyder on behalf of Flint resident Keri Webber, arising from the lead contamination of that city’s drinking water.

    • Swedish coffee culture: How to take a fika

      Autumn marks the end of Sweden’s brief but glorious summer, yet it’s still a great time to visit. Despite the notoriously fickle weather, moody skies provide an excellent excuse for hanging indoors, indulging in the Swedish tradition of a coffee break called fika. Along with its Scandinavian neighbors, Sweden is among the world’s top coffee consumers per capita, far exceeding the USA.

      All this coffee sipping has served to refine Sweden’s café culture, with traditional baked goods like cinnamon buns and cookies, perfectly matched to a fresh cup. The country even boasts a town devoted to the art of “taking a fika” or going “to fika.” (They use the word as both a noun and a verb).

      Fika does not have a literal English translation; rather, it’s a concept of getting a coffee, having it with cake or cookies, enjoying it with friends or co-workers, and chatting about topics other than work. It’s about breaking mentally and physically from the day-to-day grind and socializing with one’s community. Americans have their version, too: stand up, walk over to the Keurig, push a button, and return to the desk with a paper cup. Not in Sweden. You’d get the death stare for failing to give proper pause and appreciation for your food, drink and each other. Fika is so ingrained in the population, some believe the government decreed that companies allow employees a certain number of breaks per day. (Like recent internet chatter over the advent of the six-hour working day, this seems to be urban legend, too.)

  • Security

    • Thursday’s security updates
    • Guile security vulnerability w/ listening on localhost + port
    • Akamai Finds Longtime Security Flaw in 2 Million Devices

      It’s well known that the Internet of Things is woefully insecure, but the most shameful and frustrating part is that some of the vulnerabilities that are currently being exploited could have been eradicated years ago. Now evidence of how these bugs are being used in attacks is calling attention to security holes that are long overdue to be plugged.

      New research released this week from the content delivery network Akamai takes a closer look at how hackers are abusing weaknesses in a cryptographic protocol to commandeer millions of ordinary connected devices—routers, cable modems, satellite TV equipment, and DVRs—and then coordinate them to mount attacks. After analyzing IP address data from its Cloud Security Intelligence platform, Akamai estimates that more than 2 million devices have been compromised by this type of hack, which it calls SSHowDowN. The company also says that at least 11 of its customers—in industries like financial services, retail, hospitality, and gaming—have been targets of this attack.

      The exploited protocol, called Secure Shell (SSH), is commonly used to facilitate remote system access and can be implemented robustly. But many IoT manufacturers either don’t incorporate it or are oblivious to the best practices for SSH when setting up default configurations on their devices. As makers scramble to bring their products to market, these oversights sow widespread insecurity in the foundation of the Internet of Things.

    • IoT Devices as Proxies for Cybercrime

      However, WPS also may expose routers to easy compromise. Read more about this vulnerability here. If your router is among those listed as vulnerable, see if you can disable WPS from the router’s administration page. If you’re not sure whether it can be, or if you’d like to see whether your router maker has shipped an update to fix the WPS problem on their hardware, check this spreadsheet.

      Finally, the hardware inside consumer routers is controlled by software known as “firmware,” and occasionally the companies that make these products ship updates for their firmware to correct security and stability issues. When you’re logged in to the administrative panel, if your router prompts you to update the firmware, it’s a good idea to take care of that at some point. If and when you decide to take this step, please be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions to the letter: Failing to do so could leave you with an oversized and expensive paperweight.

      Personally, I never run the stock firmware that ships with these devices. Over the years, I’ve replaced the firmware in various routers I purchased with an open source alternative, such as DD-WRT (my favorite) or Tomato. These flavors generally are more secure and offer a much broader array of options and configurations. Again, though, before you embark on swapping out your router’s stock firmware with an open source alternative, take the time to research whether your router model is compatible, and that you understand and carefully observe all of the instructions involved in updating the firmware.

      Since October is officially National Cybersecurity Awareness Month, it probably makes sense to note that the above tips on router security come directly from a piece I wrote a while back called Tools for a Safer PC, which includes a number of other suggestions to help beef up your personal and network security.

    • Microsoft says hackers have exploited zero-days in Windows 10′s Edge, Office, IE; issues fix

      Microsoft’s October Patch Tuesday fixes dozens of critical flaws, among them five affecting Internet Explorer, Edge, and Office that have already been under attack.

      Tuesday’s update addresses 49 vulnerabilities within 10 security bulletins. Five bulletins are rated as critical and concern remote code execution vulnerabilities affecting Edge, Internet Explorer, Adobe Flash Player, Office, Windows, and Skype for Business.

      According to Microsoft, there were four so-called zero-day flaws, or previously unknown bugs that were being exploited in the wild. However, none has been publicly disclosed before now.

      All these bugs serve as a reminder for users to be cautious when clicking on links or opening attachments from unknown sources.

    • Like it or not, here are ALL your October Microsoft patches

      Redmond kicks off the era of the force-fed security update


      Microsoft is kicking off a controversial new security program this month by packaging all of its security updates into a single payload.

      The October security release introduces Redmond’s new policy of bundling all security bulletins as one download. While more convenient for end users, who now get just one bundle, the move will irk many administrators, who had preferred to individually test and apply each patch to avoid compatibility problems.

    • A New Linux Trojan Called NyaDrop Threatens the IoT Landscape

      The Krebs DDoS attacks have proven that the IoT landscape is a fertile ground that can breed huge botnets capable of launching massive DDoS assaults. As such, it should be to no surprise that malware authors are now focusing their efforts on this sector and putting out new threats in the hopes of building the next Mirai botnet.

    • Amazon resets recycled user passwords out of precaution
    • Amazon Password Resets
    • As Amazon uncovers login credential list online, does controversial GCHQ password advice still stand?
  • Defence/Aggression

    • WikiLeaks reveals Hillary Clinton said US could ‘ring China with missile defense’

      Hillary Clinton privately said the US would “ring China with missile defense” if the Chinese government failed to curb North Korea’s nuclear program, a potential hint at how the former secretary of state would act if elected president.

      Clinton’s remarks were revealed by WikiLeaks in a hack of the Clinton campaign chairman’s personal account. The emails include a document excerpting Clinton’s private speech transcripts, which she has refused to release.

      A section on China features several issues in which Clinton said she confronted the Chinese while leading the US State Department.

    • Qatar gave Bill Clinton $1MILLION for his family’s foundation as a birthday present in 2012, WikiLeaks reveal

      Qatar, an Islamist state in the Persian gulf, gave former President Bill Clinton $1million for his birthday in 2012, according to emails released by WikiLeaks.

      According to a message that was released in the leak of Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta’s emails this week, Ami Desai, director of foreign policy for the Clinton Foundation, told several other staffers about the check.

      ‘[Qatar] Would like to see WJC “for five minutes” in NYC, to present $1 million check that Qatar promised for WJC’s birthday in 2011,’ Desai wrote. p

    • How Saudi Arabia spreads extremism — Medea Benjamin on the U.S. alliance and Yemen war

      Salon’s Ben Norton sat down with Medea Benjamin, the activist, author and co-founder of the peace group CODEPINK, to discuss her new book “Kingdom of the Unjust: Behind the U.S.-Saudi Connection.”

      Benjamin discusses the hypocrisy of the U.S. alliance with Saudi Arabia, an absolute monarchy that brutally represses internal dissent and refuses to grant basic rights to women.

      Saudi Arabia spreads its extremist state ideology known as Wahhabism throughout the world. Benjamin notes that ISIS shares a similar fundamentalist ideology. As Salon has previously reported, recently released emails from former secretary of state Hillary Clinton show that, according to U.S. intelligence sources, the monarchies of Saudi Arabia and Qatar have supported the Islamic State.

    • King of Thailand dead: World’s longest reigning monarch King Bhumibol Adulyadej dies aged 88

      The world’s longest-reigning monarch, King Bhumibol Adulyadej of Thailand, has died aged 88, the palace has confirmed.

      The palace said the King passed away peacefully on Thursday at Bangkok’s Siriraj Hospital after a 70-year reign.

      Bhumibol Adulyadej became king in 1946 and was revered in Thailand as a demigod. He anchored the South-east Asian country through violent upheavals at home and communist revolutions next door, as well as a period of rapid development.

    • 5 Time Bombs Our Grandparents Planted (Are About To Go Off)

      All of human history has been one gigantic, ruinous circle jerk, with Mother Nature crouching awkwardly in the center. Previous generations accidentally ruined the entire planet, and it was up to us to fix their many environmental blunders. Now that we’ve learned from their mistakes and put them behind us, we can finally begin the long, slow process of healing. But the problem with putting something behind you is that it’s the perfect position for that thing to kick you in the ass when you’re not looking.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • WikiTweaks

      The article was based on a 10 October 2016 piece penned by Eichenwald which went viral and has since been significantly edited. Daily News Bin asserted that Eichenwald “proved” the inauthenticity of “Podesta Emails” in his article, but what his piece actually claimed was that the Russian news outlet Sputnik had (deliberately) misreported the content of a leaked e-mail, and that Donald Trump’s repetition of that misreporting proved he was sourcing information fed to him by Russian propaganda outlets attempting to manipulate the 2016 election in Trump’s favor.

    • Hacked WikiLeaks emails show concerns about Clinton candidacy, email server

      WikiLeaks released yet another batch of hacked emails from inside Hillary Clinton’s campaign Wednesday, and with them came another round of embarrassing headlines and new glimpses of internal anxiety over the candidate’s weaknesses.

      Republican Donald Trump and his allies seized on the emails, which reveal comments by an aide about Catholics, a line from a paid speech in which Clinton might be seen as playing down the threat of terrorism and an internal dispute over potential conflicts of interest posed by the Clinton Foundation.

      The drip-drip-drip of damaging attention is likely to continue. WikiLeaks, the anti-secrecy organization, began releasing new messages last Friday from the personal email account of Clinton’s campaign chairman, John Podesta, and has promised to issue tens of thousands more.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • [Older] Bees Added To U.S. Endangered Species List For 1st Time

      The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has given endangered status to seven species of yellow-faced bees native to the islands. These are “the first bees in the country to be protected under the Endangered Species Act,” according to the Xerces Society, which advocated for the new designation.

    • New pictures show Great Barrier Reef is not repairing itself as it should

      New images of the Great Barrier Reef have revealed the extent of the damage climate change has caused to the coral.

      The world’s largest reef system, which stretches for over 1,400 miles off the coast of Australia, has been severely affected by rising water temperatures.

      In May, researchers found more than a third of corals in central and northern parts of the reef had been killed and 93 per cent of individual reefs had been affected by a condition known as coral bleaching, where too warm water causes corals to expel algae living in their tissue and turn completely white. Corals depend on a symbiotic relationship with algae-like single cell protozoa, so when these are expelled they stop growing and often die.

  • Finance

    • Data Reveals the American Dream Is Alive and Well—in Canada

      If Donald Trump is to be believed, the so-called American dream—the one where you can start at the bottom of life’s proverbial ladder and wind up at the top—is dead. But take a closer look at the data: the story’s much more nuanced than that. Turns out that whether the American dream is dead or alive depends a whole lot on where you live.

      For instance, the American dream is alive and well—in Canada.

      Raj Chetty, an economist at Stanford University who studies economic mobility, described the American dream’s geography today at the White House Frontiers Conference, inspired by WIRED’s November issue guest-edited by Barack Obama. Chetty studies people’s movements up and down the economic pyramid and compares their trajectories to where they grew up. And in one way, he’s found that Trump is right. The United States is one of the toughest places to achieve economic mobility.

    • MPs urge ministers to ‘get a grip’ in midst of Southern strike woes

      MPs have attacked the government’s handling of rail franchises, saying passengers have been let down badly.

      A Transport Select Committee report cited the “woeful” experience of Southern passengers, who have faced months of industrial action and staff shortages.

      Ministers were urged to “get a grip” on monitoring rail franchise agreements.

      The Department for Transport (DfT) said improving Southern services was a priority for the government.

      The RMT union, which is locked in a bitter dispute with the rail operator over the future role of conductors, said the report was an indictment of the failure of rail privatisation.

      It was published as Southern timetables returned to normal after a three-day strike by union members.

      A further 11 days of strikes are planned before Christmas.

      Southern’s owners, Govia Thameslink Rail (GTR) said the report covered many issues already in the public domain.

    • Finance Ministry mulls further corporate tax cuts [iophk: "it's not working so do it more!"]

      The Finnish government is considering a further reduction in corporate tax rates. Three years ago, the previous administration attempted to boost business competitiveness by dropping the rate from 24.5 percent to 20 percent. Although the move would take a big bite out of government’s tax take, it hopes that a dynamic effect on the corporate sector will make up for the losses.

    • Barroso ‘Goldman Sachs’ petition handed to EU officials

      A petition started by EU employees against former European Commission President José Manuel Barroso with more than 150,000 signatures has been handed to officials in Brussels.

      They want action to be taken against Barroso for joining Goldman Sachs, a bank that helped Greece hide the true extent of its budget deficit and sold toxic subprime mortgage products in the run-up to the 2008 financial crisis.

      The petition says he should be stripped of his EU pension and other perks awarded to former leaders of the institution.

      Officials who signed the petition have called Barroso’s appointment to the US investment bank as “a gift for eurosceptics.”

      Amid the Barroso uproar, former Commissioner Neelie Kroes was found to be listed as a director of an offshore fund in Bahamas during her tenure in Brussels.

      There is no suggestion either have done anything illegal, but it underlines the blurry EU ethics rules.

    • EU staff blocked from delivering Barroso petition

      The European Commission has refused to accept a petition drafted by EU employees urging it to end the “revolving door” between its top management and big business.

      The appeal was launched after former commission president Jose Manuel Barroso landed a top job at US investment bank Goldman Sachs, and has now been signed by 152,000 people.

    • The Most Important WikiLeaks Revelation Isn’t About Hillary Clinton

      The most important revelation in the WikiLeaks dump of John Podesta’s emails has nothing to do with Hillary Clinton. The messages go all the way back to 2008, when Podesta served as co-chair of President-elect Barack Obama’s transition team. And a month before the election, the key staffing for that future administration was almost entirely in place, revealing that some of the most crucial decisions an administration can make occur well before a vote has been cast.

      Michael Froman, who is now U.S. trade representative but at the time was an executive at Citigroup, wrote an email to Podesta on October 6, 2008, with the subject “Lists.” Froman used a Citigroup email address. He attached three documents: a list of women for top administration jobs, a list of non-white candidates, and a sample outline of 31 cabinet-level positions and who would fill them. “The lists will continue to grow,” Froman wrote to Podesta, “but these are the names to date that seem to be coming up as recommended by various sources for senior level jobs.”

      The cabinet list ended up being almost entirely on the money. It correctly identified Eric Holder for the Justice Department, Janet Napolitano for Homeland Security, Robert Gates for Defense, Rahm Emanuel for chief of staff, Peter Orszag for the Office of Management and Budget, Arne Duncan for Education, Eric Shinseki for Veterans Affairs, Kathleen Sebelius for Health and Human Services, Melody Barnes for the Domestic Policy Council, and more. For the Treasury, three possibilities were on the list: Robert Rubin, Larry Summers, and Timothy Geithner.

    • WikiLeaks: Clinton Called Common Core a ‘Political Failure’ in Speech

      Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton called the Common Core State Standards a “political failure” in a speech to an education technology company, according to excerpts published by WikiLeaks earlier this week.

      And in the same speech, Clinton expressed skepticism that most politicians actually will be able to exert a lot of influence on K-12 policy.

      Clinton gave the speech about the common core to Knewton, an adaptive-learning company, in 2014, according to the document posted by WikiLeaks, an organization that published information the group says points to government and corporate misconduct. The Clinton campaign has not confirmed the authenticity of the speech excerpts and other material posted by WikiLeaks, and has charged that hackers linked to the Russian government illegally obtained the material related to Clinton and the campaign. We reached out to Knewton to see if it would confirm that Clinton delivered the speech excerpts published by WikiLeaks, and we’ll update this post if we hear back.

    • Austerity Fan Olli Rehn Appointed to Bank of Finland Board

      Olli Rehn was named to the board of the Bank of Finland, putting the former chief advocate of European austerity on track for a spot in the decision-making body of the European Central Bank.

      The 54-year-old, who was the EU’s economic and monetary affairs commissioner before becoming economy minister in Finland, will take up his new position on Feb. 1, 2017, the Helsinki-based Parliamentary Supervisory Council said in a statement. Marja Nykanen, the current deputy director general of Finland’s Financial Supervisory Authority, was also appointed to the board for a five year term.

      As board member of Finland’s central bank, Rehn will be able to shape the Nordic country’s stance on ECB monetary policy. He will also be in a good position to replace Bank of Finland Governor Erkki Liikanen after his second and final seven-year term expires, in 2018.

    • Ex-EU economic chief Rehn chosen for Finnish central bank board

      Oct 14 Finland’s Olli Rehn, the former top economic official of the European Union, has been selected for a board seat at the Bank of Finland, a move which means he must resign from the country’s government, the central bank’s supervisory council said.

      Rehn is currently Finland’s minister of economic affairs.

    • “Ahtisaari and Holmsröm seem to have an elitist view of labour markets”

      Peace Prize Laureate Martti Ahtisaari has warned that the stubbornness of trade unions has become a threat to the welfare state.

      Heikki Taimio, a senior researcher at the Labour Institute for Economic Research (PT), has pointed out that both of the two recent Nobel Prize Laureates from Finland, Martti Ahtisaari and Bengt Holmström, have, on the one hand, expressed their support for the welfare state and, on the other, criticised the trade union movement.

      Taimio points out that studies conducted in several countries have found a link between income inequality and declining trade union membership.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Media Bias And The Death Of Intellectual Honesty, Doubling Down

      Yesterday we wrote about the bizarre story of Newsweek reporter Kurt Eichenwald completely overselling his story about Trump repeating some misinformation that was printed by a Russian news site. I won’t replay the whole thing, but the short version: WikiLeaks released a cache of Clinton campaign boss John Podesta’s emails. In them was an email from Clinton friend Sidney Blumenthal, with a link and text of an Eichenwald piece. Some people — first on Twitter, apparently, and then in an article on the Russian site Sputnik News — misrepresented the email in two ways. First, they took a single sentence of the long article out of context and second, they attributed that one sentence to Blumenthal instead of Eichenwald. Then, Donald Trump, at a rally, repeated the false claim that Blumenthal had said this. Again, there is a story here: Trump is willing to repeat false information from sketchy sources (whether Twitter or a Russian news organization). That’s interesting (though, perhaps not a new revelation).

      But Eichenwald massively oversold the piece, with a massive tweetstorm repeatedly suggesting that it proved a connection between Russia and the Trump campaign — even falsely claiming that “only” the Russians and Trump had the same info, despite it being public on WikiLeaks. He also kept claiming that this showed the email was “manipulated.” Except it wasn’t. It was just misrepresented, perhaps on purpose, or perhaps just being oversold by those in search of a good story — just like Eichenwald did. Eichenwald had also suggested that this proved WikiLeaks was connected to the Russians as well, though it appears he’s since deleted those tweets.

    • Libertarians and Greens Can Win—Even If They Lose

      Gary Johnson and Jill Stein have a difficult task—though this election year it might be easier than most. The trick for third parties in American politics is convincing voters that they aren’t “wasting” ballots by supporting the Libertarian or Green Party candidate, since neither will make it to the White House.

    • 8 Less Known Trump Stories That’d Derail Any Other Campaign

      During an election cycle in which the Republican nominee has urged voters to check out a nonexistent sex tape, accused Mexico of sending us rapists, slyly hinted that Second Amendment fans should “handle” his opponent (with their guns), and — oh yeah — admitted to being a zealous “pussy”-grabber, it’s easy to forget that those horrific moments were only the tip of the shit-stained iceberg that’s been the Trump campaign. Funny story: Trump’s own staff wanted to hire a private investigator to get a heads up on this stuff ahead of time, and Trump was too cheap / arrogant / busy planning his next gaffes to pay for it.

    • A Modest Proposal for an Immodest Campaign
  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • Blogger Amos Yee starts serving 6-week jail term

      Blogger Amos Yee on Thursday (Oct 13) surrendered himself at the State Courts to begin serving a six-week jail term – his second prison sentence for wounding religious feelings.

      The 17-year-old was sentenced two weeks ago, on Sept 29, but was allowed to defer his jail term.

      He had pleaded guilty to eight charges – two for failing to turn up at a police station and six for intending to wound the feelings of Muslims and/or Christians.

      On July 6 last year, Yee was given four weeks’ jail for making remarks that were derogatory and offensive to Christians in an online video and for uploading an obscene image on his blog.

      But he was released the same day as the punishment was backdated to include his time in remand. He had spent about 50 days in prison after repeatedly breaching bail conditions.

    • Beijing said Facebook and Google are welcome back to China as long as they “respect China’s laws”

      Will Facebook and Google come back to China? The Chinese government says they can, as long as they “respect China’s laws.”

      Yesterday at a press conference held in preparation for the upcoming World Internet Conference, a Bloomberg reporter asked Ren Xianliang, deputy director of the Cyberspace Administration of China (which oversees internet governance) if the government would permit the two American internet giants to re-enter China. Both companies still have business-facing services in China, but Google effectively closed its consumer-facing search engine there in 2010, and authorities have blocked Facebook’s social network since 2009.

    • Charles Harder Sends Ridiculous Threat Letter To People On Behalf Of Melania Trump

      Oh Charles Harder. You just keep supplying more and more fodder for Techdirt stories. You may remember Harder as the lawyer thrust into the public realm after Peter Thiel allegedly bankrolled him to start a new law firm with a focus on taking on any lawsuit that might help bring down Gawker. Having succeeded in bringing down Gawker through dubious lawsuits, Harder has moved on (well, not entirely) to bigger fish, including Roger Ailes and Melania Trump.

      And while Donald Trump has been focusing his defamation threats mostly on the NY Times, Melania and Harder have decided to focus on People Magazine. As you probably have heard by now, among the fairly long list of articles that came out on Wednesday and Thursday involving women saying that Donald Trump sexually assaulted (or engaged in other sketchy behavior) was a really disturbing story at People Magazine, where People writer Natasha Stoynoff wrote about Trump pushing her against the wall and kissing her, while she was there to interview both Donald and Melania. In fact, Stoynoff claims that the assault happened during a break in the interview with the couple, while a pregnant Melania had gone upstairs to change.

      Some people had been asking how Melania had been reacting to this story, which (unlike many of the other accusations) much more closely involved her, in that it took place while she was in the home and happened to a reporter who was writing a story on the couple. Well, now we know. Melania tweeted out a retraction demand to People written by Charles Harder. And it’s even more ridiculous that Harder’s usual threat letters. The crux of it is that Melania denies a few unimportant side details of the article around Stoynoff’s claim that she ran into Melania a year or so later, after she’d left the Trump beat (because of Trump’s actions).

    • As Donald Trump Ramps Up Threats To Sue Newspapers, A Reminder Of Why We Need Free Speech Protections

      Just last week, we discussed Donald Trump’s ridiculous and almost instinctual reaction to threaten to sue the media any time they write something about him that he dislikes. That’s now how defamation law works, and Trump should know since he’s sued for defamation a few times in the past, and lost. Of course, Trump has also flat out admitted that he sometimes sues for defamation just to cost opponents money, which is the classic definition of a SLAPP (Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation) lawsuit.

      This is all quite relevant today, seeing as a whole bunch of stories broke in the past 24 hours or so about Trump, mainly focusing on claims by women of (frankly) horrific things he’s accused of doing to them (and, again, we’re not a political site, and I’d really, really appreciate it if the comments on this post don’t go down a political path, even if I know such a request is unlikely to be respected). Trump and his lawyers immediately started threatening to sue. The main target so far is the NY Times, which published the first major story, focusing on the allegations of two women.

    • Academic freedom lecture explores ‘the right to be forgotten’

      Personal privacy and free expression in the online world often are seen as competing interests, but they are not incompatible and actually work together, according to a leading scholar and advocate in electronic privacy law.

      Marc Rotenberg, president and chief executive officer of the Electronic Privacy Information Center, made that case Thursday when he delivered the 26th annual University Senate Davis, Markert, Nickerson Lecture on Academic and Intellectual Freedom.

      “My view has always been that privacy and freedom of expression are deeply intertwined, that you can’t actually have true intellectual freedom without the ability to protect privacy,” said Rotenberg, who also is a professor at the Georgetown University Law Center.

      Acknowledging his view is controversial, he walked his audience in the Law School’s Honigman Auditorium through the details of a 2014 case before the European Court of Justice — Google vs. Spain, which Rotenberg referred to as “the right to be forgotten.”

      In that case, a Spanish citizen had filed for bankruptcy and subsequently paid off his debts, but not before the bankruptcy was reported in a local newspaper. Many years later, after the paper’s archives had been digitized online, the man asked that the information be removed, arguing it was no longer relevant.

    • Love, language and censorship – the bittersweet appeal of Lemons Lemons Lemons Lemons Lemons
    • Good-time Censorship of Language and Your Brain

      En.M.Wikipedia.org: “Orwell explains that the Party [State] could not protect its iron power without degrading its people with constant propaganda. Yet knowledge of this brutal deception, even within the Inner Party itself, could lead to the implosion of the State. Although Nineteen Eighty-Four is most famous for the Party’s pervasive surveillance of everyday life, this control means that the population…including the ruling elite – could be controlled and manipulated merely through the alteration of everyday thought and language. Newspeak is the method for controlling thought through language; doublethink is the method of directly controlling thought.”

      With the shockingly apparent “dumbing down” of Americans everywhere—from so-called, university ‘stoonts’, to uneducated, or de-educated, street rioters, the usable, traditional language is reduced, corrupted, and replaced.

    • Gitmo Judge Approves Retroactive Censorship of Open-court Hearings

      The 9/11 trial judge has ruled that government censors can retroactively seal public war court testimony, saying state secrets sometimes slip through Camp Justice’s special national security screening system.

      In doing so, Army Col. James L. Pohl, the judge, rejected a challenge brought last year by 17 news organizations to a Pentagon transcript of an Oct. 30, 2015, hearing that blacked out swaths of open-court testimony.

      “Given the scope of classified information involved in this case, occasional unintentional disclosure of classified information during commission proceedings is inevitable. Spillage, however, does not equal declassification,” Pohl wrote in a 12-page ruling. It was dated Oct. 3 but recently made public on the Pentagon war court website.

      At issue was five hours of uncontested open-court testimony by a Colorado National Guard soldier about restrictions on using female guards in the 9/11 case. Reporters, Sept. 11 families and other members of the public heard a soldier called “Staff Sgt. Jinx” testify on a 40-second audio delay designed to let the judge or a court security officer mute the sound if anyone spilled national security secrets.

    • Liberals decry arts censorship

      Opposition politicians Thursday heaped blistering criticism on President Park Geun-hye and her ruling camp over the allegation that the presidential office created a blacklist of dissenting artists to deny them state support.

      Seoul Mayor Park Won-soon, whose supporters in art circles were allegedly included in the blacklist, urged the National Assembly to investigate the scandal, saying that if found to be true, President Park should be impeached.

      “I can’t tolerate it anymore. If the same thing had happened in western democracies, their Cabinet would have stepped down,” said Park on his Facebook account. “It reminded me of Watergate. It is the epitome of power abuse.”

      The main opposition Minjoo Party of Korea’s former leader Moon Jae-in joined the criticism, denouncing the scandal as something that makes the government “feel ashamed” and shows “how ignorant” the Park administration has been about cultural affairs.

    • Sultan al-Qassemi: Arab artists are key amid censorship

      UAE-based commentator says artists are key in absence of civil society, free media and political parties in Arab world.

      “To Be Continued,” a 2009 video installation by the Palestinian artist Sharif Waked, features a young, handsome fighter sitting at a table with an assault rifle and a book. Behind him, a flag adorned in Quranic text and images of two guns is pinned to the wall.

      The scene is reminiscent of dozens of videos to emerge in recent years of fighters who recite their will or deliver a political message before an attack. But listen carefully. He is reading a familiar tale, not declarations of war. Played by the Palestinian actor Saleh Bakri, the fighter reads an excerpt from One Thousand and One Nights.

      As the story goes, queen Scheherazade spent each night recounting the folk tales to her husband, who planned to execute her the following morning. To prolong her life, she broke off the story each night before it ends. By depicting the “living martyr” as Scheherazade, Waked jolts the viewer into questioning the dominant narrative of the moment of sacrifice.

      The artwork, acquired last year by the Guggenheim Museum, was one of around 60 pieces discussed by Sultan al-Qassemi at Virginia Commonwealth University in Qatar’s capital on Thursday.

    • YouTube censoring videos from conservative group

      In the latest example of bias against conservatives, YouTube is censoring videos from conservative group PragerU by placing them on “restricted mode.”

      The category, which is applied to videos that may contain “potentially objectionable content,” was applied to 21 PragerU videos, the group announced on its Facebook page on Tuesday.

      The group has created a petition to get YouTube to stop the censorship, and has already received more than 20,000 signatures. The 21 videos account for 10 percent of PragerU’s video collection, and include videos asking: “Are the Police Racist?” “Are 1 in 5 Women Raped at College?” and “Is America Racist?”

      PragerU, or Prager University, is the brainchild of radio host Dennis Prager, and offers short, five-minute videos about a range of topics presented from a Judeo-Christian and conservative perspective. The videos use slick graphics and statistics to summarize complex issues such as racism and foreign policy.

    • Is YouTube censoring Prager University?
    • Why Is YouTube Censoring 21 Educational Videos From PragerU?
    • YouTube Has Blacklisted Dozens of Educational Videos From Conservative PragerU
    • Group Claims YouTube Is Restricting PragerU Educational Videos
    • When fascism comes to America
    • The absurd face of China’s censorship: Bookstore tears out Taiwan page from Webster’s
    • The absurd face of China’s censorship: Bookstore tears out Taiwan page from dictionaries
    • Strict censorship: Pakistan bans Christian TV channels, hits religious freedom in country
    • Pakistan bans 11 Christian TV channels in ‘sweeping attack on religious freedom’
    • Pakistan Bans 11 Christian TV Stations, Leaving Believers With No Media Presence
    • Pakistan Steps Up Persecution With Ban On 11 Christian TV Stations
    • Christian TV networks in Pakistan ordered to close over lack of permits
    • Pakistani archbishop says Christians fight persecution with dialogue
    • Changing Faces of Censorship
    • Free-speech panelists say college campuses need dialogue
    • ‘The K2′ Called Out By Censorship Board For Controversial Scenes; Series Still Going Strong With Higher Weekend Ratings
    • Is Censorship Curbing Innovation In Southeast Asia?

      The outlook of the Southeast Asian startup market so far in 2016 is best described as “evolving”.

    • The demonisation of Louis Smith: This is how a de facto blasphemy law works

      The castigation of a British gymnast for ‘mocking Islam’ is illustrative of a troubling return of blasphemy, argues Stephen Evans.

      If you’ve been following the hounding of British Olympic gymnast Louis Smith this week, you’d be forgiven for forgetting that blasphemy laws were abolished in England back in 2008.

      The very public castigation of the British gymnast is illustrative of the troubling return of blasphemy. As the former Strictly Come Dancing winner has discovered – and to his immense cost – Britain’s bourgeoning ‘culture of offence’ is ensuring that any action deemed likely to offend religious sensibilities, but particularly Muslim sensibilities, is strictly taboo.

      The ‘offending’ footage, published by The Sun shows him with fellow gymnast Luke Carson drunkenly goofing around yelling “Allahu Akbar” and mocking aspects of Islamic belief.

      Condemnation came swiftly from Mohammed Shafiq, the chief executive of the Ramadan Foundation, who asserted “our faith is not to be mocked” and called on Smith to “apologise immediately”.

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Facebook shuts down ads for an entire country

      The social network said it has turned off ads in Thailand following the death of the country’s deeply revered king. It’s the first time Facebook has imposed an ad blackout for a whole country.

      King Bhumibol Adulyadej’s 70-year reign came to an end on Thursday when he died at the age of 88. Facebook (FB, Tech30) said in a post that removing ads is “a cultural custom” during the mourning period.

      It admitted that it doesn’t yet know how long Thailand will be mourning the king, whose unifying appeal stretched across Thai society.

    • Tor Project and Mozilla Making It Harder for Malware to Unmask Users

      Generally, the Tor network provides a high level of protection and anonymity for its users. So much so that law enforcement agencies, instead of attacking the network itself, have opted to hack individual users’ computers, or end-points. This way, investigators have learned Tor users’ IP addresses.

      But the Tor Project, the nonprofit that maintains the Tor software, and the team behind Mozilla’s Firefox, have quietly been working on improvements that, they say, should make such attacks more difficult. By tweaking how the browser connects to the Tor network, malware designed to unmask users may have a harder time doing so.

      “We’re at the stage right now where we have created the basic tools and we’re working on putting them together to realize the security benefits,” Richard Barnes, Firefox Security Lead, told Motherboard in an email.

      As Barnes explained, the Tor Browser is basically made up of two parts: a modified version of Firefox, and the Tor proxy, which routes the browser’s traffic into the Tor network. Usually, the Firefox part also has network access, as it needs this to talk to the proxy.

    • Open Sorcerers: Can you rid us of Emperor Zuck?

      Back in the dot com heyday, around 1999 and 2000, Linux and open source conferences were huge events: they were packed and brimming with excitement. There was optimism, new initiatives in every conceivable direction, and anything seemed possible. Move over, Grandad: everything traditional was going to be up-ended by open source.

      The logic that innovation gets “sedimented” (the great buzzword of the day) into open protocols and code was very seductive at the time. (“Sedimented” really meant “copied”, but has a geological flavour to make it look inevitable, like a natural element.)

      Some of us wanted to believe it – but we couldn’t put aside a few nagging doubts. There was no shortage of talent, but we wondered how you’d motivate a developer to do the really boring stuff like write and maintain whatever-the-open-source-equivalent-of-SAP would be. Bug-fixing is tedious on sexy software – who’d want to do it for dull commercial data processing? Not only was the whatever-the-open-source-equivalent-of-SAP not there, but nobody in the room knew what it was.

    • EFF’s Challenge Of NSL Gag Orders Reaches The Ninth Circuit Court Of Appeals

      In a rather quick turnaround, the EFF has had its brief [PDF] it filed under seal in September unsealed by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. The brief challenges the FBI’s use of gag orders with its National Security Letters — the administrative subpoenas the FBI issues to recipients without having to run them by a judge.

      Unfortunately, the brief has been heavily redacted and both the appellee and appellant remain undisclosed. The filing challenges NSL gag orders, claiming them to be unconstitutional infringements on the First Amendment. The EFF is arguing on behalf of its redacted clients, both “electronic communications providers.”

      Beyond preventing the providers from informing the FBI’s targets that their communications/data are being turned over to the government, the EFF points out that the gag orders have been stopping them from discussing these limitations with Congress — even to the point of correcting bad information given to legislators by the FBI itself.

    • No Matter Who’s Elected, Surveillance Powers And Programs Unlikely To Be Scaled Back

      The Times is far too kind to Clinton. (No one really needs to rehash Trump’s inability to form coherent sentences when discussing policy…) Clinton may be more measured, but what she has discussed suggests a return to form when Obama exits office. A return to GEORGE W. BUSH form, really — basically another 4-8 years of post-2001 fear-based legislating, like her predecessor engaged in.

      After the attack in Orlando, Clinton joined Trump in calling for expanded watchlists and denial of Constitutional rights to those placed on them. She has occasionally hinted at vague surveillance reform, but has also made it clear Snowden should hop on the next plane home and spend some time in prison. She has also suggested tech companies partner with the government to create backdoors in encryption — but in an imaginary “safe” way that won’t threaten their customers’ security. And she’s made it clear that deploying the military is a perfectly acceptable response to state-led cyberattacks.

      Either way the election goes, the surveillance business will remain as usual. This is troubling, due to the fact that Section 702 — which authorizes the NSA’s internet backbone-based surveillance dragnet PRISM — is up for renewal at the end of next year. With recent revelations about Yahoo’s very proactive surveillance assistance generating some interesting questions about what the NSA can or can’t do under this authority, it would be nice to have someone in the White House that would amplify these concerns, rather than help drown them out.

    • Verizon Wants $1 Billion Discount After Yahoo Scandals, Still Fancies Itself The New Google

      With wireless and fixed-line broadband growth slowing, Verizon has been steadily expanding into new growth territories to try and please insatiable investors. So far, that apparently includes buying failed 90s internet brands like Yahoo and AOL in the belief that it can somehow become a Millennial advertising juggernaut. Except that hasn’t been going particularly well, as the stodgy old telco realizes that it’s kind of hard to innovate when you’ve spent the last thirty years bumbling about as a government-pampered telecom monopoly almost solely focused on turf protection.

    • New GCHQ unit: Psst, breached biz bods. We won’t rat you out to the ICO

      The new National Cyber Security Centre is pitching itself to CEOs as a friendly government organisation which won’t get the regulators involved after data breaches.

      Those gathered this morning on the 18th floor of 125 London Wall heard one of the NCSC’s deputy directors address CEOs on how they should lead their businesses’ recovery from cyber attacks—and it was primarily by contacting NCSC, a part of GCHQ.

      Peter Yapp, the deputy director for the incident management directorate, explained how his role worked: “If something [regarding a cyber incident and your company] breaks in the press, I’ll get a call from someone in government,” he said, and he would be expected to explain what the incident meant.

      “If you haven’t phoned me and told me about it, I will phone you,” stated Yapp.

      “It is worth telling me about the most serious incidents,” he told his audience, acknowledging that these were difficult to define, before comforting them: “We do not tell the ICO what you tell us.”

    • Scotland Yard, Terrorism, and Encryption: How wording of charges contain hidden layers designed to shape public opinion

      Several people objected to the claim that “Scotland Yard says HTTPS is terrorism” by asserting that Scotland Yard is following the law to the letter. Maybe they are, but that wasn’t the point of the rather harsh (and admittedly oversummarizing) headline the other day – the point is that the terrorism case discussed has very nasty undertones that need to be understood, addressed, and countered. This is best understood through examples from other times.

      Two days ago, I posted about Scotland Yard’s case against an alleged terrorist, and how part of the terrorism charges were for the act of “developing an encrypted version of a blog site”, which sounds like publishing a WordPress over HTTPS. It probably is publishing a WordPress over HTTPS, but even if it weren’t, those charges could easily describe that act going forward, once this case is settled.

    • Police Use Surveillance Tool to Scan Social Media, A.C.L.U. Says

      A Chicago company has marketed a tool using text, photos and videos gleaned from major social media companies to aid law enforcement surveillance of protesters, civil liberties activists say.

      The company, called Geofeedia, used data from Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, as well as nine other social media networks, to let users search for social media content in a specific location, as opposed to searching by words or hashtags that would be less likely to reveal an exact location.

      Geofeedia marketed its abilities to law enforcement agencies and has signed up more than 500 such clients, according to an email obtained by the American Civil Liberties Union. In one document posted by the organization, as part of a report released on Tuesday, the company appears to point to how officials in Baltimore, with Geofeedia’s help, were able to monitor and respond to the violent protests that broke out after Freddie Gray died in police custody in April 2015.

    • US start-up Geofeedia ‘allowed police to track protesters’

      Facebook, Twitter and Instagram have revoked access to their data to an analytics firm accused of selling information that allowed US police to track activists and protesters.

      The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) said Chicago-based Geofeedia had allowed police to “sneak in through a side door” to monitor protests.

      Geofeedia said it was committed to the principles of personal privacy.

      It comes amid growing concern about government access to social media.

      ACLU said Geofeedia had been marketing its services to police agencies to help track activists using location data and social media posts.

      The group said it had seen internal documents in which Geofeedia said that it “covered Ferguson/Mike Brown nationally with great success,” referring to protests which erupted in 2014 after an unarmed African-American man was shot dead by police.

      “The ACLU of California has obtained records showing that Twitter, Facebook and Instagram provided user data access to Geofeedia, a developer of a social media monitoring product that we have seen marketed to law enforcement as a tool to monitor activists and protesters,” the group said in a statement.

      “We know for a fact that in Oakland [California] and Baltimore [Maryland], law enforcement has used Geofeedia to monitor protests.”

    • Your Social Media Fingerprint

      Without your consent most major web platforms leak whether you are logged in. This allows any website to detect on which platforms you’re signed up. Since there are lots of platforms with specific demographics an attacker could reason about your personality, too.

    • Verizon expresses doubts about Yahoo! deal

      Yahoo! has said it is confident about its value after Verizon expressed doubts that the deal to acquire the search pioneer could collapse in the face of the data breach that saw 500 million accounts exposed.

      On Thursday, Verizon’s general counsel Craig Silliman told a group of reporters that the data breach could trigger a clause in the US$4.83 billion deal that would allow his employer to back out.

      This clause says Verizon can pull out if a new event “reasonably can be expected to have a material adverse effect on the business, assets, properties, results of operation or financial condition of the business”.

      Yahoo! said in a statement: “We are confident in Yahoo!’s value and we continue to work toward integration with Verizon.”

    • The Attention Merchants: a deep dive into the origins of the surveillance economy

      Tim Wu is a multiple threat: the originator of the term “net neutrality”; a copyfighting lawyer who cares about creator’s rights; a fair use theorist; Zephyr Teachout’s running mate in the NY gubernatorial race; an anti-monopolist who joined the NY Attorney General and used open source to catch Time Warner in the act; a lifelong deep nerd who was outraged by the persecution of Aaron Swartz, and the author of one of the seminal books on telcoms policy and human rights.

      Now, he’s back with his best book yet: The Attention Merchants: The Epic Scramble to Get Inside Our Heads, an erudite, energizing, outraging, funny and thorough history of one of humanity’s core undertakings — getting other people to care about stuff that matters to you.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Documentary Filmmaker Faces Up to 45 Years in Prison for Covering Pipeline Protest

      In the same week that activist and celebrity Shailene Woodley was arrested while protesting the Dakota Access Pipeline, a documentary producer was arrested at yet another pipeline protest and charged with conspiracy.

      Deia Schlosberg, producer of the 2016 film “How to Let Go of the World and Love All the Things Climate Can’t Change,” was following the actions of activists in North Dakota who were protesting against a pipeline. Both activists and documentarian Schlosberg were arrested by police and charged with conspiracy to commit theft of property and services.

      Protesters were attempting to take matters into their own hands and planned to physically stop the flow of crude oil through valve stations at five locations on Tuesday. Schlosberg attended the event in order to document the protest – something a journalist often does.

      The filmmaker continues to be held in jail and all three arrested appeared in court on Thursday for a bond hearing. None were bailed and they all remain in police custody.

    • Asia Bibi blasphemy appeal adjourned in Pakistan as judge pulls out

      The long-awaited final appeal of a Christian woman sentenced to death under Pakistan’s controversial blasphemy laws has been adjourned after a judge said he could not hear the case.

      Justice Muhammad Iqbal Hameed-ur-Rehman, one of three judges who met amid heightened security in Islamabad to hear the appeal, said he could not rule on whether Asia Bibi’s 2010 conviction for insulting the prophet Muhammad should stand because of his involvement in a related case.

      The supreme court judge said he had overseen the appeal hearing of Mumtaz Qadri who was convicted of murdering Salmaan Taseer, a leading liberal politician who had campaigned for Bibi to be released.

      Bibi’s laywer, Saif-ul-Mulook, said it would probably take weeks or months for a replacement judge to be found and for the appeal to be rescheduled.

      Bibi was accused of blasphemy after rowing with two Muslim women in her village in Punjab in 2009. The lawyer said the case against her was weak, not least because the testimony of the women was contradicted by other witnesses and did not meet the high standard of proof demanded by Islamic law.

    • Pakistan delays Christian woman’s blasphemy appeal after judge steps down

      Pakistan’s Supreme Court delayed an appeal into the infamous blasphemy case against Asia Bibi, the Christian mother on death row, on Thursday after one of the judges stepped down.

      Security was beefed up in Islamabad with police and troops stationed across the capital as the court readied to hear a final appeal in the case of Asia Bibi, who has been on death row since 2010. Observers had warned of “tremendous” repercussions in the case.

      But one of the three-judge bench, Justice Iqbal Hameed ur Rehman, told the court he had to recuse himself, claiming a conflict of interest.

      “I was a part of the bench that was hearing the case of Salmaan Taseer, and this case is related to that,” he told the court, which was overflowing with journalists, lawyers, activists and clerics.

    • Dr. Walter Rodney: Revolutionary Intellectual, Socialist, Pan-Africanist and Historian

      Walter Rodney demonstrated that it is not inevitable for intellectuals to perpetuate exploitation. They have the option of committing “class suicide.”

    • Journalist Amy Goodman to Turn Herself in to North Dakota Authorities

      October 13, 2016 – Award-winning journalist Amy Goodman, charged with criminal trespassing for filming an attack on Native American-led pipeline protesters, will turn herself in to North Dakota authorities on October 17.

      Amy Goodman will surrender to authorities at the Morton County–Mandan Combined Law Enforcement and Corrections Center at 8:15 a.m. local time (CDT).

    • Documentary Filmmaker Faces Up to 45 Years in Prison for Covering Pipeline Protest

      In the same week that activist and celebrity Shailene Woodley was arrested while protesting the Dakota Access Pipeline, a documentary producer was arrested at yet another pipeline protest and charged with conspiracy.

      Deia Schlosberg, producer of the 2016 film “How to Let Go of the World and Love All the Things Climate Can’t Change,” was following the actions of activists in North Dakota who were protesting against a pipeline. Both activists and documentarian Schlosberg were arrested by police and charged with conspiracy to commit theft of property and services.

      Protesters were attempting to take matters into their own hands and planned to physically stop the flow of crude oil through valve stations at five locations on Tuesday. Schlosberg attended the event in order to document the protest – something a journalist often does.

    • North Dakota needs to immediately drop its outrageous charges against journalist Amy Goodman

      Award-winning journalist and the host of Democracy Now, Amy Goodman, has been facing an outrageous arrest warrant in North Dakota for “criminal trespass” since early September—the result of her merely doing her job as a reporter and covering police violence against oil pipeline protesters in North Dakota.

      Today, she announced she would return to the state in order to turn herself in and contest the charges on Monday.

      “I will go back to North Dakota to fight this charge,” she said. “It is a clear violation of the First Amendment,” said Goodman. “I was doing my job as a journalist, covering a violent attack on Native American protesters.”

    • North Dakota must drop outrageous charges against journalist Amy Goodman of “Democracy Now”

      Today, she announced she would return to the state in order to turn herself in and contest the charges on Monday.

      “I will go back to North Dakota to fight this charge,” she said. “It is a clear violation of the First Amendment,” said Goodman. “I was doing my job as a journalist, covering a violent attack on Native American protesters.”

    • Filmmaker Arrested At Pipeline Protest Facing 45 Years In Felony Charges

      documentarian arrested while filming an oil pipeline protest on Tuesday has been charged with three felony conspiracy charges ― and could face decades in prison if convicted.

      Deia Schlosberg, the producer of the upcoming documentary “How to Let Go of the World and Love All Things Climate Can’t Change,” was detained while filming a protest against TransCanada’s Keystone Pipeline in Walhalla, North Dakota. Activists at the event, associated with the group Climate Direct Action, shut down the pipeline, which carries oil from Canadian tar sands to the U.S, for about seven hours.

      Two of the protestors, Michael Foster and Samuel Jessup, were also charged and Schlosberg’s equipment and footage from the event was confiscated. Schlosberg said shortly after being released on bond that she couldn’t comment on her arrest until she spoke to a lawyer.

      She has been charged with three felonies: conspiracy to theft of property, conspiracy to theft of services and conspiracy to tampering with or damaging a public service. Together, the charges carry 45 years in maximum prison sentences.

    • How Not to Think About Drone Policy

      Today, The Oklahoman published an editorial that serves as a good example of how not to think about drone policy. According to The Oklahoman editorial board, a proposed drone weaponization ban was a solution in search of a problem, and concerns regarding privacy are based on unjustifiable fears. This attitude ignores the state of drone technology and disregards the fact that drones should prompt us to re-think privacy protections.

    • How Soon Before Armed Drones Are Overhead in America? Time Now.

      Protocols exist allowing the president to select American citizens, without a whit of due process, for drone killing.

      Only overseas, he says, but you can almost see the fingers crossed behind his back. Wouldn’t an awful lot of well-meaning Americans have supported an aerial drone killing in San Bernardino, or at the Pulse club in Orlando? Didn’t many support using a robot to blow up a suspect in Dallas?

      How soon before armed drones are over our heads?

    • Judge Tears Apart Law Enforcement’s Ridiculous Assertions About ‘Suspicious’ Behavior

      This opinion — written by Texas appeals court judge Brian Quinn — is a breath of fresh air for those of us who have watched as courts have continually deferred to law enforcement officers and their declarations that nearly everything drivers do — or DON’T do — is “suspicious.”

      It’s also a slap in the face of those same law enforcement officers — the ones who use their “experience and training” to find nearly any action, or lack thereof, to be supportive of a warrantless search.

    • High court overturns lifetime bans for Trojan horse teachers

      The high court has thrown out the lifetime bans imposed by the Department for Education on two teachers caught up in the Trojan horse controversy.

      The decision is a latest setback for the DfE in its handling of allegations of Islamic influence at Park View secondary school in Birmingham dating back to 2014, and may hinder disciplinary hearings against others still under way.

      In Birmingham’s high court the judge, Stephen Phillips, overturned the ban imposed against two former Park View teachers, Inamulhaq Anwar and Akeel Ahmed, on the grounds of “serious procedural impropriety”, because of the DfE’s failure to reveal evidence used in other cases to the pair.

      The two teachers were appealing against findings of unacceptable professional conduct by a disciplinary panel of the National College of Teaching and Leadership (NCTL), and their lifetime bans from teaching which were imposed by the education secretary earlier this year.

    • How Iran’s war on internet freedom saw a web developer branded a paedophile and jailed for life

      October 4 marked eight years since the life of Iranian web developer Saeed Malekpour turned into a nightmare. Saeed Malekpour is a graduate of Iran’s prestigious Sharif University, and a permanent Canadian resident who was pursuing a PhD in Canada.

      On that day in 2008, while visiting Iran to see his sick father, Saeed was snatched from a Tehran street in broad daylight and stuffed into the back of a car. He was blindfolded, beaten, and then taken to a detention centre to be brutally tortured both physically and psychologically. His torturers said they wouldn’t stop torturing him until he “confessed”. The bizarre crime he was asked to confess to? “Running a network of porn sites”.

      Saeed had no idea what they were talking about, or why they would accuse him – in particular – of such a thing. He was unfortunate enough to be a freelance web developer and open-source programmer in 2008 – the same year in which the blogging scene peaked in Iran, and the same year the Iranian regime decided to “fight back” against the right of Iranians for free expression, by creating their own “cyber army”.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • Facebook plans to extend Free Basics internet service to Americans – report

      Facebook is planning to extend its controversial Free Basics service, which offers a free but limited internet access to people who don’t have it, to the US.

      The social networking company has been in talks with the White House and wireless carriers about introducing the program in a way that doesn’t attract the criticism and regulatory scrutiny it has faced elsewhere, according to a report in the Washington Post.

      Free Basics, which started life as Internet.org, is an app that provides users with access to Facebook-curated online services, such as news, employment and health education. These services are “zero-rated”, which means that users don’t get charged for the data.

      The company intended to provide a means for the world’s poorest people to access the benefits of the internet without having to pay for expensive data plans, but it attracted criticism for cherry-picking websites instead of giving people unfettered access to the web.

      Proponents of net neutrality, who say that internet service providers should not get to pick and choose which online services count against data caps because it gives an unfair advantage to those that are zero-rated. Free Basics was banned in India under net neutrality rules following a 11-month public debate – an expensive blow for Facebook.

    • Dutch net neutrality law goes too far say critics

      The Dutch Senate has passed the revised Net Neutrality Law as part of an amendment to the country’s Telecommunications Act. The strict new law seeks to ensure that telcos and ISPs treat all internet traffic equally and cannot favour one internet app or service over another. Opponents, however, say the legislation, which was approved by the lower house of parliament in May this year, is overly severe and is out of line with the EU’s own open internet standards.

      Afke Schaart, Vice President Europe at mobile industry body the GSMA, commented: ‘We are greatly disappointed with the outcome of today’s vote. We believe that the Dutch Net Neutrality Law goes far beyond the intent of the EU regulation. We therefore call on the European Commission to ensure the harmonised implementation of Europe’s Open Internet rules.’ The GSMA says the tighter laws in the Netherlands will ‘hinder development of innovative services and consumer choice’.

    • Verizon Punishes Techs That Try To Repair DSL Customers It No Longer Wants

      For decades Verizon has enjoyed billions in tax breaks and subsidies in exchange for fiber optic upgrades the telco either partially or never actually deploys. Now, for the last half decade or so, the telco has been trying to hang up on these unwanted, un-upgraded DSL customers entirely as it shifts its focus to more profitable (read: usage capped) wireless service. Well, that and buying up old and uninteresting 90s internet brands in a quest to become the next media and advertising juggernaut (note: it’s not going all that well).

      While it’s understandable that Verizon executives want to migrate to higher-growth sectors, there’s a few problems. Most of these networks were built on the backs of taxpayers, and the “burdensome regulations” governing them exist in many instances to ensure nobody can unceremoniously disconnect phone service from the elderly. And Verizon has been far from ethical as it tries to back away from networks that should have been upgraded years ago, even going so far as to refuse to repair them after natural disasters like Hurricane Sandy.

      Pennsylvania is one of several states where Verizon nabbed billions in subsidies, didn’t do all that much with it, and now wants to just walk away from frustrated broadband customers.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Trademarks

      • A close look at survey methodology for proof of acquired distinctiveness

        The grounds for the German Federal Court of Justice’s decision in the Sparkassen Group/Banco Santander dispute over the validity of Sparkassen’s colour mark “red” (HSK 13) for financial services, namely retail banking, have been published last week. The 46-page judgment takes a very close look at the proper methodology of consumer surveys designed to prove acquired distinctiveness. Since no less than four surveys were submitted by the parties, two by each side, the Court had a wealth of material to work with.

    • Copyrights

      • Who’s On (The) Second (Circuit)… And Why Are They Screwing Up Copyright Law?

        So, last year, we wrote about the ridiculous situation in which the heirs of Abbott and Costello had sued for copyright infringement over a broadway play, Hand to God. In that play, which is a dark drama, and not a comedy, about a puppeteer, there’s a scene in which the puppeteer performs a bit of the famous “Who’s On First?” routine with puppets. The district court wasted little time in dumping the lawsuit. As we detailed in our first post, the copyright issues here were already somewhat complex for a variety of reasons. The short version is that (1) lots of comedy teams performed the same basic act before Abbott & Costello, and (2) the “copyright” is not actually for the whole routine, but rather two separate performances in two separate movies, where Abbott & Costello did (different) versions of the act. It is true that Universal Pictures transferred whatever copyright interest it might have in those two scenes to the heirs of Abbott & Costello in 1984, but it was never clear what copyright they could actually claim in those particular scenes & whether or not it had been properly registered and renewed.

        The district court sided with the producers of Hand to God based on fair use, skipping over the more thorny question of whether or not there was a copyright at all. Basically, the court (correctly) noted at the motion to dismiss stage that it needed to interpret things in the most favorable manner to the plaintiff, and thus it would just assume that the copyrights were valid, and said that even if the copyrights were valid, fair use would lead the case to be dismissed.

      • US Chamber Of Commerce Complains About People ‘Pirating’ The Presidential Debate

        The US Chamber of Commerce is somewhat infamous for its dishonest and misleading claims about copyright, which are often so ridiculous as to be laughable.

      • NATO Chief Sounds Alarm Over Netflix Deal With iPic
      • Theater Association Boss Reminds Theater Owners, Netflix To Stay In Their Own Lanes

        There’s probably a tad more defensiveness than usual in NATO’s statement. Now that there’s a group containing respected directors and producers backing a day-and-date release startup, the “threat” is more substantial than a few streaming providers whose libraries have been stripped to nearly nothing by major studios over the last few years.

        Theaters aren’t going to go away completely. Under-performers who can’t offer an experience worth leaving the house for will fall by the wayside, but day-and-date releases will only slightly hasten their demise. If there were more experimentation, everyone involved might find new ways to make money. But as long as people like Fithian are in charge, nothing will move forward. It a small roll out of Netflix films to theaters — solely for the purpose of allowing the streaming company to get some entries in the Oscar race — results in these sorts of statements, any chance of studios and theaters moving on from traditional windowed releases is still a long way off.

      • Insanely Popular YouTuber KSI Goes F****ing Ballistic at Movie Pirates

        One of the most popular YouTubers on the planet has launched a prolonged, four-letter word-laden attack on fans who pirated his movie. Olajide “JJ” Olatunji, Jr., aka KSI, went off the deep end after people started tweeting him links of Laid in America on torrent sites. Trouble is, KSI is also a pirate.

      • RIAA: CloudFlare Shields Pirates and Frustrates Blocking Efforts

        The RIAA has submitted its most recent overview of “notorious markets” to the U.S. Government. As usual, the music industry group lists various torrent sites, download portals and stream ripping sites as direct threats. In addition, it points out that these sites are becoming harder to take enforcement action against, since they increasingly use CloudFlare.

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DecorWhat Else is New

  1. Links 30/03/2023: LibreOffice 7.5.2 and Linux 6.2.9

    Links for the day

  2. Links 30/03/2023: WordPress 6.2 “Dolphy” and OpenMandriva ROME 23.03

    Links for the day

  3. Sirius is Britain’s Most Respected and Best Established Open Source Business, According to Sirius Itself, So Why Defraud the Staff?

    Following today's part about the crimes of Sirius ‘Open Source’ another video seemed to be well overdue (those installments used to be daily); the video above explains to relevance to Techrights and how workers feel about being cheated by a company that presents itself as “Open Source” even to some of the highest and most prestigious public institutions in the UK

  4. IRC Proceedings: Wednesday, March 29, 2023

    IRC logs for Wednesday, March 29, 2023

  5. [Meme] Waiting for Standard Life to Deal With Pension Fraud

    The crimes of Sirius ‘Open Source’ were concealed with the authoritative name of Standard Life, combined with official papers from Standard Life itself; why does Standard Life drag its heels when questioned about this matter since the start of this year?

  6. Former Staff of Sirius Open Source Responds to Revelations About the Company's Crimes

    Crimes committed by the company that I left months ago are coming to light; today we share some reactions from other former staff (without naming anybody)

  7. Among Users in the World's Largest Population, Microsoft is the 1%

    A sobering look at India shows that Microsoft lost control of the country (Windows slipped to 16% market share while GNU/Linux grew a lot; Bing is minuscule; Edge fell to 1.01% and now approaches “decimal point” territories)

  8. In One City Alone Microsoft Fired Almost 3,000 Workers This Year (We're Still in March)

    You can tell a company isn’t doing well when amid mass layoffs it pays endless money to the media — not to actual workers — in order for this media to go crazy over buzzwords, chaffbots, and other vapourware (as if the company is a market leader and has a future for shareholders to look forward to, even if claims are exaggerated and there’s no business model)

  9. Links 29/03/2023: InfluxDB FDW 2.0.0 and Erosion of Human Rights

    Links for the day

  10. Links 29/03/2023: Parted 3.5.28 and Blender 3.5

    Links for the day

  11. Links 29/03/2023: New Finnix and EasyOS Kirkstone 5.2

    Links for the day

  12. IRC Proceedings: Tuesday, March 28, 2023

    IRC logs for Tuesday, March 28, 2023

  13. [Meme] Fraud Seems Standard to Standard Life

    Sirius ‘Open Source’ has embezzled and defrauded staff; now it is being protected (delaying and stonewalling tactics) by those who helped facilitate the robbery

  14. 3 Months to Progress Pension Fraud Investigations in the United Kingdom

    Based on our experiences and findings, one simply cannot rely on pension providers to take fraud seriously (we’ve been working as a group on this); all they want is the money and risk does not seem to bother them, even when there’s an actual crime associated with pension-related activities

  15. 36,000 Soon

    Techrights is still growing; in WordPress alone (not the entire site) we’re fast approaching 36,000 posts; in Gemini it’s almost 45,500 pages and our IRC community turns 15 soon

  16. Contrary to What Bribed (by Microsoft) Media Keeps Saying, Bing is in a Freefall and Bing Staff is Being Laid Off (No, Chatbots Are Not Search and Do Not Substitute Web Pages!)

    Chatbots/chaffbot media noise (chaff) needs to be disregarded; Microsoft has no solid search strategy, just lots and lots of layoffs that never end this year (Microsoft distracts shareholders with chaffbot hype/vapourware each time a wave of layoffs starts, giving financial incentives for publishers to not even mention these; right now it’s GitHub again, with NDAs signed to hide that it is happening)

  17. Full RMS Talk ('A Tour of Malicious Software') Uploaded 10 Hours Ago

    The talk is entitled "A tour of malicious software, with a typical cell phone as example." Richard Stallman is speaking about the free software movement and your freedom. His speech is nontechnical. The talk was given on March 17, 2023 in Somerville, MA.

  18. Links 28/03/2023: KPhotoAlbum 5.10.0 and QSoas 3.2

    Links for the day

  19. The Rumours Were Right: Many More Microsoft Layoffs This Week, Another Round of GitHub Layoffs

    Another round of GitHub layoffs (not the first [1, 2]; won’t be the last) and many more Microsoft layoffs; this isn’t related to the numbers disclosed by Microsoft back in January, but Microsoft uses or misuses NDAs to hide what’s truly going on

  20. All of Microsoft's Strategic Areas Have Layoffs This Year

    Microsoft’s supposedly strategic/future areas — gaming (trying to debt-load or offload debt to other companies), so-called ‘security’, “clown computing” (Azure), and “Hey Hi” (chaffbots etc.) — have all had layoffs this year; it’s clear that the company is having a serious existential crisis in spite of Trump’s and Biden’s bailouts (a wave of layoffs every month this year) and is just bluffing/stuffing the media with chaffbots cruft (puff pieces/misinformation) to keep shareholders distracted, asking them for patience and faking demand for the chaffbots (whilst laying off Bing staff, too)

  21. Links 28/03/2023: Pitivi 2023.03 is Out, Yet More Microsoft Layoffs (Now in Israel)

    Links for the day

  22. IRC Proceedings: Monday, March 27, 2023

    IRC logs for Monday, March 27, 2023

  23. Links 27/03/2023: GnuCash 5.0 and Ubuntu 20.04 LTS on Phones

    Links for the day

  24. Links 27/03/2023: Twitter Source Code Published (But Not Intentionally)

    Links for the day

  25. IRC Proceedings: Sunday, March 26, 2023

    IRC logs for Sunday, March 26, 2023

  26. Links 26/03/2023: OpenMandriva ROME 23.03, Texinfo 7.0.3, and KBibTeX 0.10.0

    Links for the day

  27. The World Wide Web is a Cesspit of Misinformation. Let's Do Something About It.

    It would be nice to make the Web a safer space for information and accuracy (actual facts) rather than a “Safe Space” for oversensitive companies and powerful people who cannot tolerate criticism; The Web needs to become more like today's Gemini, free of corporate influence and all other forms of covert nuisance

  28. Ryan Farmer: I’m Back After WordPress.com Deleted My Blog Over the Weekend

    Reprinted with permission from Ryan

  29. Civil Liberties Threatened Online and Offline

    A “society of sheeple” (a term used by Richard Stallman last week in his speech) is being “herded” online and offline; the video covers examples both online and offline, the latter being absence of ATMs or lack of properly-functioning ATMs (a growing problem lately, at least where I live)

  30. Techrights Develops Free Software to Separate the Wheat From the Chaff

    In order to separate the wheat from the chaff we’ve been working on simple, modular tools that process news and help curate the Web, basically removing the noise to squeeze out the signal

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