11.16.16

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Links 16/11/2016: X.Org Server 1.19, Firefox 50

Posted in News Roundup at 8:27 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

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Contents

GNU/Linux

Free Software/Open Source

Leftovers

  • Health/Nutrition

    • 75,000 children in Nigeria could starve to death within months, says UN

      In Nigeria, 75,000 children risk dying in “a few months” as hunger grips the country’s ravaged north-east in the wake of the Boko Haram insurgency, the United Nations warned on Tuesday.

      Boko Haram jihadists have laid waste to the impoverished region since taking up arms against the government in 2009, displacing millions and disrupting farming and trade.

      Nigeria’s president, Muhammadu Buhari, has reclaimed territory from the Islamists but the insurgency has taken a brutal toll, with more than 20,000 people dead, 2.6 million displaced, and famine taking root.

      UN humanitarian coordinator Peter Lundberg said the crisis was unfolding at “high speed”.

  • Security

  • Defence/Aggression

    • Donald Trump’s Drone War

      My new book, The Drone Memos, will be published by The New Press today. The Guardian is running a 4000-word slice of the 20,000-word introduction on its website this morning. The introduction is unsparing in its criticism of the Obama administration. I argue that the administration claimed too much power, and that its efforts to shield that power from congressional, judicial, and public review were irresponsible and short-sighted. I blame the administration for normalizing extrajudicial killing and for turning over to the next administration authorities that are breathtakingly broad and not subject to any meaningful constraint that can’t be lifted by a stroke of the next president’s pen.

      I began writing the introduction a year ago and finished it several months ago, when the world looked very different than it does today. I have complicated feelings about the release of the book at this particular historical moment. Obama has been a great president in many ways, and the United States is a stronger, more humane, and more just country now than it was when he took office. If Donald Trump tries to fulfill even a small fraction of his campaign pledges, the next four years will be a true test of our democratic institutions, and I’m sure I’ll look back on the Obama years nostalgically.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • Trump’s Denial of Catastrophic Climate Change Is a Clear Danger

      Donald Trump’s stunning victory has left millions in dread and moved thousands into the streets. Fear has spread among immigrants and Muslims. The 20 million who have received health insurance under Obamacare worry about Trump’s vow to repeal it. The media speculate about what he might do: Will he really tear up the Iran nuclear deal or order the CIA to start torturing people again? But it is Trump’s denial of catastrophic climate change—he has repeatedly said he considers it a “hoax”—and his vow to reverse all of the progress made under President Obama to address it that pose some of the most chilling and potentially irreversible threats.

    • Noam Chomsky: Donald Trump’s election will accelerate global warming and humanity’s ‘race to disaster’

      The renowned American linguist and philosopher Noam Chomsky has warned the US Republican party is now “the most dangerous organisation in world history” because of the denial of climate change by President-elect Donald Trump and other leading figures.

      Following the US elections, Professor Chomsky said it appeared humans planned to answer what he called “the most important question in their history … by accelerating the race to disaster”.

      Mr Trump has already appointed a prominent climate change denier to run his transition team covering the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and other advisers include people with close links to the fossil fuel industry.

  • Finance

    • Michael Gove raises question of ‘quickie divorce’ for UK from EU

      Michael Gove, the former cabinet minister and leading Brexit campaigner, has pressed experts on how the UK could achieve a “quickie divorce” with the EU regardless of the economic consequences, as he raised concerns that civil servants were over-complicating the process.

      The ex-justice secretary, who led the Vote Leave campaign with Boris Johnson, questioned why the UK cannot just leave the EU without having settled its future relationship with the bloc after having sorted out “housekeeping” related to outstanding payments.

      Speaking at the newly formed Commons Brexit committee, he said there was a tendency for civil servants to think any problem requires more civil servants and suggested “Occam’s razor” should be applied, implying the simplest solution is the best one.

    • EU-US trade deal “not realistic” under Trump presidency, says Germany

      There is no chance of completing the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) under US president-elect Donald Trump, a senior German official has said.

      “We don’t harbour any hopes of a transatlantic trade deal,” the unnamed official told the Guardian, adding: “That’s not realistic.”

      Along with the UK, Germany has been the main supporter of TTIP in Europe. Now that the UK is set to leave the European Union after June’s Brexit vote, the admission by Germany that TTIP is not going to happen is effectively the death-knell for the deal.

      But the comments are hardly surprising in the wake of the earlier news, reported by Ars, that the US would abandon the similar Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement (TPP). However, Germany’s acknowledgement represents a huge setback for the European Commission, which was still trying to persuade Trump to proceed with TTIP last week.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Google Gets a Seat on the Trump Transition Team

      Google is among the many major corporations whose surrogates are getting key roles on Donald Trump’s transition team.

      Joshua Wright has been put in charge of transition efforts at the influential Federal Trade Commission after pulling off the rare revolving-door quadruple-play, moving from Google-supported academic work to government – as an FTC commissioner – back to the Google gravy train and now back to the government.

    • Was Steve Bannon, Donald Trump’s Attack Dog, Paid Illegally?

      A campaign watchdog group filed a complaint with federal election officials that alleges Stephen Bannon—recently named one of Donald Trump’s top White House advisers—may have gotten paid illegally during Trump’s campaign by pro-Trump billionaires.

      And now, a new set of Federal Election Commission filings that haven’t yet been reported on may give the group’s case some additional heft.

      At issue are payments of nearly $200,000 that a super PAC called Make America Number 1 made to a company tied to Bannon. On Aug. 17, Bannon left his post as chairman of Breitbart News and became the Trump campaign’s CEO. Available FEC filings show the campaign didn’t pay Bannon a salary. Larry Noble, General Counsel for the Campaign Legal Center, said he believes the super PAC covertly paid Bannon for his campaign work through his moviemaking company. Neither the super PAC nor Bannon provided a response to Noble’s comment.

    • GOP rushes to embrace Trump

      Some Republicans acknowledged there had been a sea change since Trump surprised Democrats and some in his own party by defeating Hillary Clinton.

      Republicans on Capitol Hill “are so excited. People are coming up to me, telling me they’ve been with Trump since day one,” Collins explained to reporters.

      “And I kind of look and say, ‘Well, OK, if you say so.’

      “Donald Trump has accomplished for us something no one thought possible. … Everything is red, and we’ve got four solid years to get this right.”

      After winning the GOP nomination to be Speaker for the next two years, Ryan gave yet another shout-out to Trump — the second of the day.

    • How Bannon flattered and coaxed Trump on policies key to the alt-right

      Soon after terrorist attacks killed 130 people in Paris last year, Donald Trump faced sharp criticism for saying the United States had “no choice” but to close down some mosques.

      Two days later, Trump called in to a radio show run by a friendly political operative who offered a suggestion.

      Was it possible, asked the host, Stephen K. Bannon, that Trump hadn’t really meant that mosques should be closed?

      “Were you actually saying, you need a [New York City police] intelligence unit to get a network of informants?” Bannon asked. He continued: “I guess what I’m saying is, you’re not prepared to allow an enemy within . . . to try to tear down this country?”

    • Let Them Eat Facts: Why Fact Checking Is Mostly Useless In Convincing Voters

      Last week I wrote a bit about the ridiculous and misguided backlash against Facebook over the election results. The basis of the claim was that there were a bunch of fake or extremely misleading stories shared on the site by Trump supporters, and some felt that helped swing the election (and, yes, there were also fake stories shared by Clinton supporters — but apparently sharing fake news was nearly twice as common among Trump supporters than Clinton supporters). I still think this analysis blaming Facebook is wrong. There was confirmation bias, absolutely, but it’s not as if a lack of fake news would have changed people’s minds. Many were just passing along the fake news because it fit the worldview they already have.

      In response to that last post, someone complained that I was arguing that “facts don’t matter” and worried that this would just lead to more and more lies and fake news from all sides. I hope that’s not the case, but as I said in my reply, it’s somewhat more complicated. Some folks liked that reply a lot so I’m expanding on it a bit in this post. And the key point is to discuss why “fact checking” doesn’t really work in convincing people whom to vote for. This doesn’t mean I’m against fact checking, or think that facts don’t matter. Quite the reverse. I think more facts are really important, and I’ve spent lots of time over the years calling out bogus news stories based on factual errors.

    • Let’s Get Uncomfortable, Election Edition

      For the people now protesting, good for you to make your views known. It is important.

      May I also suggest you use the remaining time to protest Obama’s refusal to prosecute torture, curtail the NSA, fail to close Gitmo, his jailing of whistleblowers, his decision not to use his Justice Department to aggressively prosecute police killers of young Black men under existing civil rights laws, his claiming of the power to assassinate Americans with drones, and his war on journalists via gutting of FOIA?

      Because silence on those issues means Trump inherits all of that power.

      May I also suggest volunteering for some of: homeless shelters, LGBTQ and vet’s crisis lines, Planned Parenthood, Congresspeople who will work for these causes, ACLU, Occupy (who addresses the economic inequality that drove many Trump voters) and the like?

  • Censorship/Free Speech

  • Privacy/Surveillance

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Home Secretary signs Lauri Love extradition order

      The Home Secretary Amber Rudd has signed an order for Lauri Love to be extradited to America where he’s accused of hacking into US government computer networks.

    • Chelsea Manning petitions Obama for clemency

      The legal team for Chelsea Manning, imprisoned WikiLeaks whistleblower, has petitioned US President Barack Obama to reduce her prison sentence to time served. Chelsea has already spent six years in confinement, longer than any other US leaker in history. In 2013, she was sentenced to 35 years in prison after being convicted on several counts under the Espionage Act and the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act.

    • Harsher Security Tactics? Obama Left Door Ajar, and Donald Trump Is Knocking

      As a presidential candidate, Donald J. Trump vowed to refill the cells of the Guantánamo Bay prison and said American terrorism suspects should be sent there for military prosecution. He called for targeting mosques for surveillance, escalating airstrikes aimed at terrorists and taking out their civilian family members, and bringing back waterboarding and a “hell of a lot worse” — not only because “torture works,” but because even “if it doesn’t work, they deserve it anyway.”

      It is hard to know how much of this stark vision for throwing off constraints on the exercise of national security power was merely tough campaign talk. But if the Trump administration follows through on such ideas, it will find some assistance in a surprising source: President Obama’s have-it-both-ways approach to curbing what he saw as overreaching in the war on terrorism.

    • Chagos Islanders denied right to return home

      The long-awaited decision – expected to cause enormous disappointment – follows more than 40 years of campaigning, court cases and calls for the UK to right a wrong committed by Harold Wilson’s Labour government.

      Hundreds of Chagos islanders living in the UK and Mauritius have been waiting for an announcement for more than two years. But cost, economic viability and objections from the US military have been significant obstacles.

      It is expected that the British government will provide a further package of compensation to the islanders and that the announcement will be accompanied by an official apology for the forced movement of 1,500 people. Half of the exiles have since died.

    • Government set to make announcement on plight of exiled Chagos Islanders

      The government is expected to make an announcement about the resettlement of Chagos Islanders who were expelled 40 years ago to make way for a US air base.

      Chagossians were forced to leave the territory in the central Indian Ocean by 1973 to make way for a major US air base on Diego Garcia.

      The expulsions are regarded as one of the most shameful parts of Britain’s modern colonial history and a lengthy campaign has taken place to give Chagossians the right to resettle in the British territory.

      In June, former residents of the islands lost their legal challenge at the Supreme Court.

      But the Foreign Office is now understood to be preparing to make an announcement on the Chagos Islands, also referred to as the British Indian Ocean Territory.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Trademarks

      • How Trademark Law Harms Peoples’ Lives and Wealth

        Trademark, copyright, and patent law are three segments of the same basic concept: protecting businesses from unlawful use of their property. Unfortunately, a system that arose during Roman times has not been satisfactorily updated for the digital age. Particularly with issues regarding patent and trademark law, updates will be necessary to make sure that laws remain enforceable and do their work of protecting businesses.

        [...]

        In the United States, patent laws date back to Colonial times and the United States Constitution. Patents have been viewed favorably and unfavorably at different times in American History. In general, during healthy economic times, patents are viewed as driving investment, innovation, and economic growth. During depressions, patents are viewed as economically unhealthy, and geared towards creating monopolies.

        While patent law has worked to prevent inventors for many years, in 2011, This American Life did an episode of their show on a particular Silicon Valley phenomenon called “patent trolls.” Patent trolls are companies which do not conduct any kind of business of their own, but simply buy patents from inventors, and then threaten companies which are using those patents with lawsuits. Since American courts have been very pro-patent since the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act of 2011, companies generally have no choice but to pay the patent trolls fees, or stop using patented technology.

        According to Perry Clegg, founder of Trademark Access, patents are actually hurting innovation and harming economic growth. “Because so many technological developments piggyback on each other, it is sometimes impossible to create the next big innovation without incorporating previously patented technology.” When big innovations were decades apart, this might not have made as much difference. At the rapid pace of modern technological development, patent trolling can discourage companies from innovating, if they feel it likely that they will have to pay exorbitant fees to companies who exist only to prosecute based on perceived infringement.

        [...]

        Trademark and patent laws must be updated
        A generation ago, it was mostly big businesses that were concerned about protecting patents and trademarks. Now, as many more small companies are entering the technological fray, it is necessary for patent, trademark, and copyright laws to be updated to keep up with the digital times.

        Especially as we move towards the age of the Internet of Things, these changes will only continue to accelerate. If government officials are not careful, outdated laws run the risk of stifling growth and harming innovation.

    • Copyrights

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