12.04.16

Links 5/12/2016: SparkyLinux 4.5 Released, Kondik Exits Cyanogen (Destroyed After Microsoft Deal)

Posted in News Roundup at 12:30 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

Free Software/Open Source

  • Did Amazon Just Kill Open Source?

    Back in the days, we used to focus on creating modular architectures. We had standard wire protocols like NFS, RPC, etc. and standard API layers like BSD, POSIX, etc. Those were fun days. You could buy products from different vendors, they actually worked well together and were interchangeable. There were always open source implementations of the standard, but people could also build commercial variations to extend functionality or durability.

    The most successful open source project is Linux. We tend to forget it has very strict APIs and layers. New kernel implementations must often be backed by official standards (USB, SCSI…). Open source and commercial implementations live happily side by side in Linux.

    If we contrast Linux with the state of open source today, we see so many implementations which overlap. Take the big data eco-systems as an example: in most cases there are no standard APIs, or layers, not to mention standard wire protocols. Projects are not interchangeable, causing a much worse lock-in than when using commercial products which conform to a common standard.

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

    • Linux & Open Source News Of The Week — Comma.ai, Patches For Firefox and Tor, And OSS-Fuzz
    • Open Source Malaria helps students with proof of concept toxoplasmosis pill

      A team of Australian student researchers at Sydney Grammar School has managed to recreate the formula for Daraprim, the drug made (in)famous by the actions of Turing Pharmaceuticals last year when it increased the price substantially per pill. According to Futurism, the undertaking was helped along by an, “online research-sharing platform called Open Source Malaria [OSM], which aims to use publicly available drugs and medical techniques to treat malaria.”

      The students’ pill passed a battery of tests for purity, and ultimately cost $2 using different, more readily available components. It shows the potential of the platform, which has said elsewhere there is, “enormous potential to crowdsource new potential medicines efficiently.” Although Daraprim is already around, that it could be synthesized relatively easily without the same materials as usual is a good sign for OSM.

    • Open Hardware/Modding

      • Growing the Duke University eNable chapter

        We started the Duke University eNable chapter with the simple mission of providing amputees in the Durham area of North Carolina with alternative prostheses, free of cost.

        Our chapter is a completely student-run organization that aims to connect amputees with 3D printed prosthetic devices. We are partnered with the Enable Community Foundation (ECF), a non-profit prosthetics organization that works with prosthetists to design and fit 3D printed prosthetic devices on amputees who are in underserved communities. As an official ECF University Chapter, we represent the organization in recipient outreach, and utilize their open sourced designs for prosthetic devices.

Leftovers

  • Science

    • Global Warming Research in Danger as Trump Appoints Climate Skeptic to NASA Team

      One of NASA’s most high-profile projects has been to track historical average global temperature. In January 2016, the agency released data that showed 2015 had been the hottest year on record. “Today’s announcement not only underscores how critical NASA’s Earth observation program is, it is a key data point that should make policy makers stand up and take notice — now is the time to act on climate,” said NASA Administrator Charles Bolden in a statement at the time. Since then, NASA’s monthly updates on temperature delivered a steady dose of dread as month after month was declared the hottest recorded.

      Now Donald Trump’s first NASA transition team pick is Christopher Shank, a Hill staffer who has said he is unconvinced of a reality that is accepted by the vast majority of climate scientists: that humans are the primary driver of climate change. Shank previously worked for Rep. Lamar Smith, a Republican congressman who played a key role in dragging out debates on the basic nature of climate change at a time when the science is settled and action is urgent.

      Shank has criticized the type of scientific data NASA regularly releases. As part of a panel in September 2015 at Arizona State University’s Consortium for Science, Policy, and Outcomes, he said, “The rhetoric that’s coming out, the hottest year in history, actually is not backed up by the science — or that the droughts, the fires, the hurricanes, etc., are caused by climate change, but it’s just weather.”

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Federal judge to Michigan: You must deliver bottled water to Flint

      On the same day that researchers said Flint’s water is improving with “amazing progress,” a federal judge delivered a legal blow to state officials in ordering them to deliver bottled water to Flint whether they like it or not.

      In a 12-page ruling, U.S. District Judge David Lawson ruled that Flint’s water is still unsafe to drink for certain residents and that the state must deliver bottled water to those households without properly installed or maintained filters until the problem is cleared up.

      Defendants in the case, Michigan Treasurer Nick Khouri and the state-appointed Flint Receivership Transition Advisory Board, had asked the court to stay that Nov. 10 order, arguing it was unreasonable, overly broad and too expensive — $10.5 million per month — to deliver bottled water door to door in Flint. Those officials, represented by attorneys from the office of Attorney General Bill Schuette, also had argued that bottled water can be picked up as needed at distribution centers and those who can’t pick it up can call 211 to arrange for delivery.

    • New Report Exposes “Patient Advocacy” Groups as a Big Pharma Scam

      “Patient advocacy” groups have a unique power on Capitol Hill. They claim to represent the true voice of constituents, untainted by special interest bias. Politicians and the Food and Drug Administration use their endorsements as reflective of genuine public support.

      But a new study shows that nearly all of these patient advocacy groups are captured by the drug industry.

      David Hilzenrath at the Project on Government Oversight (POGO) reports that at least 39 of 42 patient advocacy groups who participated in discussions with the FDA over agency review processes for prescription drugs received funding from pharmaceutical companies. And at least 15 have representatives of drug or biotechnology companies on their governing boards.

      The study is particularly notable now because Congress is poised to pass the 21st Century Cures Act, which trades temporary additional funding for the National Institutes of Health and the FDA for permanent weakening of the FDA’s approval process. Over 1,400 lobbyists have been working on this bill, which would be a major financial boon to the drug and medical device industries.

    • Jeremy Hunt wants to ‘Amazonise’ our pharmacies – and 3000 face the chop as a result

      The future of 3,000 community pharmacies hangs in the balance as a round of cuts starts to be imposed on them this month, despite earlier hints of compromise.

      The cutbacks to key pharmacy service subsidies – part of a 12% reduction in overall money allocated to the sector – were first announced in December 2015 and a row has been underway ever since. In September, minister David Mowat appeared to back away from the cuts. But the following month the reductions were confirmed.

      The cuts coincide with longer-term concerns over a planned online centralisation or ‘Amazonisation’ of high-street pharmacy care in England.

      Perplexingly, there appears to be no way of knowing which pharmacies will be forced to close, nor what the government’s rationale for the distribution of the reduced public pharmacy spending is. Rural practices are set to be hit particularly hard.

  • Security

    • What’s the most secure operating system?

      Deciding what operating system (OS) to keep your computer running smoothly—and with the highest level of security—is a controversial yet frequent question many business owners, government officials, and ordinary Joes and Janes ask.

      There are many different operating systems—the software at the base of every computer, controlling the machine’s array of functions—like Mac OS10, which comes pre-loaded on Apple laptops and desktops, and Microsoft Windows that’s on the majority of personal computers. Google’s Android and Apple’s iOS for mobile devices are designed specifically for devices with smaller touchscreens.

      Whatever OS you use—and many users are very loyal to their operating system of choice and will argue that their’s is the best—it’s not entirely secure or private. Hackers are still infiltrating systems every day, and they can easily target victims with malware to spy on users and disable their operating system altogether.

      Because of this, choosing a secure system is essential to staying secure online. Below are the top three secure operating systems that will help users take the next step to ensure proper cyber and hardware security.

    • New IoT Botnet, Attackers Target Tor, and More…

      Firefox’s emergency security patch: If you use Firefox at all, and I’m assuming that most of you do, you might want to run an update to get the latest security patch from Mozilla. The patch was rushed to market on November 30 to fix a zero day vulnerability that was being exploited in the wild to attack the Firefox based Tor browser.

      In a blog post on Wednesday, Mozilla’s security head Daniel Veditz wrote, “The exploit in this case works in essentially the same way as the ‘network investigative technique’ used by FBI to deanonymize Tor users…. This similarity has led to speculation that this exploit was created by FBI or another law enforcement agency. As of now, we do not know whether this is the case. If this exploit was in fact developed and deployed by a government agency, the fact that it has been published and can now be used by anyone to attack Firefox users is a clear demonstration of how supposedly limited government hacking can become a threat to the broader Web.”

    • Ransomware: Windows is the elephant in the room

      Ransomware has slowly become the most common and most difficult threat posed to companies and individuals alike over the last year.

      And there is one common thread to practically all ransomware attacks: Windows.

      Microsoft acolytes, supporters and astro-turfers can scream till they are blue in the face, but it is very rare to see ransomware that attacks any other platform.

      Of course, these Redmond backers are careful to say that ransomware attacks “computer users”, not Windows users.

      But statistics tell the truth. In 2015, the average number of infections hitting Windows users was between 23,000 and 35,000, according to Symantec.

      In March, this number ballooned to 56,000 with the arrival of the Locky ransomware. And in the first quarter of 2016, US$209 million was paid by Windows users in order to make their locked files accessible again.

    • GCC Tackling Support For ARMv8-M Security Extensions

      GCC developers have been working to support the compiler-side changes for dealing with ARMv8-M Security Extensions.

  • Defence/Aggression

    • Man Who Claimed to be CIA Asset Sentenced to Ten Years in Prison in Arms Deal Sting

      Flaviu Georgescu arrived at U.S. District Court in Manhattan Friday afternoon in a beige prison jumpsuit, shackled around the waist and hands, with his head bowed.

      Earlier this year, a jury convicted Georgescu in this same courtroom on terrorism charges. Federal prosecutors accused Georgescu of helping organize a complex weapons deal involving DEA informants posing as members of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), a designated terrorist organization.

      Since his arrest, Georgescu has maintained his innocence, claiming that he had been working undercover for the CIA and pointing to phone calls he had made to the agency as proof of his cooperation.

      Georgescu faced a possible life sentence.

    • The Coming War on China

      When I first went to Hiroshima in 1967, the shadow on the steps was still there. It was an almost perfect impression of a human being at ease: legs splayed, back bent, one hand by her side as she sat waiting for a bank to open. At a quarter past eight on the morning of 6 August, 1945, she and her silhouette were burned into the granite. I stared at the shadow for an hour or more, unforgettably. When I returned many years later, it was gone: taken away, “disappeared”, a political embarrassment.

      I have spent two years making a documentary film, The Coming War on China, in which the evidence and witnesses warn that nuclear war is no longer a shadow, but a contingency. The greatest build-up of American-led military forces since the Second World War is well under way. They are in the northern hemisphere, on the western borders of Russia, and in Asia and the Pacific, confronting China.

      The great danger this beckons is not news, or it is buried and distorted: a drumbeat of mainstream fake news that echoes the psychopathic fear embedded in public consciousness during much of the 20th century.

    • Clinton’s ‘Russia Did It’ Cop-out

      The Clinton machine – running on fumes after Hillary Clinton’s failed presidential bid – is pulling out all remaining stops to block Donald Trump’s inauguration, even sinking into a new McCarthyism.

      In joining a recount effort with slim hopes of reversing the election results, Clinton campaign counsel Marc Elias cited a scurrilous Washington Post article that relied on a shadowy anonymous group, called PropOrNot, that issued a “black list” against 200 or so Internet sites, including some of the most respected sources of independent journalism, claiming they are part of some Russian propaganda network.

    • A Trump Plus: Reduced Tensions with Russia
    • Trump Ponders Petraeus for Senior Job

      President-elect Trump’s promise to “drain the swamp” of Washington seems forgotten — like so many political promises — as he meets with swamp creatures, such as disgraced Gen. David Petraeus, says ex-CIA analyst Ray McGovern.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • The trolling of Elon Musk: how US conservatives are attacking green tech

      He is the charismatic Silicon Valley entrepreneur who believes his many companies – including the electric car manufacturer Tesla Motors, solar power firm Solar City, and SpaceX, which makes reusable space rockets – can help resist man-made climate change.

      South African-born Elon Musk is a billionaire green evangelist, a bete noire of the fossil fuels industry who talks about colonising Mars and believes it may be possible that we’re living in a computer simulation.

      But having been feted by the Obama administration, he now faces an extraordinary barrage of attacks from rightwing thinktanks, lobbyists, websites and commentators. The character of the assault says much about which way the political wind is blowing in Washington – something that will have consequences that stretch far beyond the US.

      One of Musk’s most trenchant critics has been the journalist Shepard Stewart, who writes for a clutch of conservative online news sites. In several articles in September, not long after a SpaceX rocket exploded, Stewart attacked Musk for receiving billions in government subsidies “to make rockets that immediately self destruct” and branded him “a national disgrace”. As Musk fought back on Twitter, it became apparent that Stewart was an invention. Even his photo byline had been doctored from a LinkedIn profile of a tech entrepreneur. “Definitely a fake,” Gavin Wax, editor-in-chief of the Liberty Conservative, one of the websites that published Stewart, admitted to Bloomberg.

    • Indonesia VP blames foreign countries for destroying forests

      Indonesian Vice President Jusuf Kalla has blamed foreign countries for destroying Indonesia’s forests, and wants them to pay to help restore the damaged land.

      “What happens here is not only our problem. The foreign people also destroyed our forests,” said Kalla when officiating the Indonesia Forest Congress in Jakarta on Wednesday (Nov 30).

      Kalla said he has brought up this point at various international forums, and is angry with those who accused Indonesia for not managing its forest well.

      “During a big conference in Tokyo, someone said that Indonesia has forests, but they are damaged and should be restored,” said Kalla. “I became angry in front of thousands of people. I said, ‘this is a chair, this is a door, this is a window from my country. You take, and pay $5, and you bring it here, and sell for $100. Indonesian companies just get $5’.

      “There is Mitsubishi from Japan, Hyundai and others, they finished what we have. I told them, ‘you have to pay, if not we will cut down all the trees, and let the world feel the heat’. So, the world must also be responsible.”

    • US House Science Committee tweets Breitbart climate misinformation

      The current leadership of the US House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology has a fraught relationship with climate science. Congressman Lamar Smith (R-Tex.), who chairs the committee, has used its subpoena powers to target NOAA climate scientists whose temperature dataset he does not like. He has also gone after the attorneys general of New York and Massachusetts, who are pursuing a securities fraud investigation of ExxonMobil related to its public denial of climate change.

      On Thursday, the committee’s Twitter account hopped on this anti-climate-science bandwagon. It tweeted a link to a story titled “Global temperatures plunge. Icy silence from climate alarmists” that was published by Breitbart—the hard-right, white-nationalist-supporting news outlet that saw its chairman, Steve Bannon, become President-elect Donald Trump’s chief strategist.

      The article was written by James Delingpole, a columnist who has made a career out of insult-laden polemics against climate science. (In an episode of BBC’s Horizon, Delingpole famously admitted that he never reads scientific papers and called himself “an interpreter of interpretations.”) In this case, Delingpole mostly tacked a few put-downs onto quotes from a Daily Mail story written by David Rose—who also has a long history of writing deeply misleading stories about climate science.

    • Kinder Morgan pipeline: Canadians intensify huge opposition to expansion

      Opponents of a contentious Canadian pipeline project are preparing for a lengthy, multifaceted battle that will see thousands take to the country’s streets, courts and legislatures to contest the government’s recent approval of the project.

      Prime minister Justin Trudeau announced on Tuesday that the Liberal government had cleared the way for Kinder Morgan’s C$6.8bn Trans Mountain Expansion project. Designed to transport Alberta’s landlocked bitumen to international markets via Vancouver’s harbour, the project will expand an existing pipeline to nearly triple capacity on the artery to 890,000 barrels a day.

    • Standing Rock Sioux Issue Emergency Proclamation

      The Standing Rock Sioux issued an emergency proclamation in support of Oceti Sakowin Camp in the face of ongoing threats by law enforcement.

      On Wednesday, Standing Rock Sioux Tribe Chairman Dave Archambault II issued an emergency proclamation calling on the United Nations and U.S. President Barack Obama to take “immediate action” to defend the water protectors at the Oceti Sakowin camp from “retaliatory actions and practices” by state law enforcement agencies, and to defend activists’ “rights to free speech and peaceable assembly.”

    • Police Attack on DAPL Demonstrators: A Hell of Ice and Tear Gas

      Hundreds of “water protectors” marched at dusk from Oceti Sakowin Camp toward police barricades on Highway 1806. Some in the crowd held plastic shields. Many wore googles and had scarves wrapped around their mouths. They massed in front of a barricade on a bridge. It consisted of a barbed-wire fence, a line of militarized police, the burned remains of a massive truck and at least one tank.

      Darkness had fallen when the first tear gas was fired. Spotlights, mounted by law enforcement on a ridge, illuminated the clouds that had started to engulf the crowd. Several people panicked. They were screaming.

      “Stand your ground! Stand your ground! Stand your fucking ground!” someone yelled.

      Amid the clouds and choking tear gas, people began to turn and run. The police kept lobbing tear gas canisters. They fired stun grenades at those running for safety. Overhead, planes and helicopters circled.

    • Naomi Klein, Tulsi Gabbard Travel to Standing Rock Alongside Thousands of Veterans

      The number of veterans traveling to North Dakota to support the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe in its stand against the Dakota Access Pipeline has swollen to over 3,000, an astonishing show of solidarity that aims to shield the water protectors from police violence.

    • #ExxonKnew About Climate Change And ExxonKnows How To Use Trade Deals To Get Its Way

      Public outrage has been brewing about the fact that ExxonMobil—one of the the world’s biggest oil companies—knew about climate change as early as 1977 and yet promoted climate denialism and actively deceived the public by turning “ordinary scientific uncertainties into weapons of mass confusion.”

      A little-known fact, however, is that while ExxonMobil was misleading the public about climate disruption, it was also using trade rules to increase its power, to bolster its profits, and to actively hamper climate action.

    • Donald Trump’s Swamp: Meet Ten Potential Energy and Climate Cabinet Picks and the Pickers

      One of President-elect Donald Trump’s most pressing current tasks is selecting who will serve in his new administration, especially his transition team and cabinet, though there are over 4,000 political appointees to hire for federal jobs in all.

      Much of the mainstream media attention so far has centered around Trump’s choices of Republican National Committee head Reince Priebus as White House chief of staff and former Breitbart News CEO Steve Bannon as chief strategist and senior counselor. Congressional Democrats have called for Bannon to be banned from the White House, citing his personal bigotry and the bigotry often on display on Breitbart.com. Meanwhile, Bannon’s hire was praised by the American Nazi Party and KKK.

      Yet, perhaps just as troubling is the army of climate change deniers and fossil fuel industry lobbyists helping to pick or court a spot on Trump’s future climate and energy team.

      Trump is a climate change denier and so is Priebus, who recently told Fox News that climate denial will be the “default position” of the Trump administration.

  • Finance

    • Senate takes aim at ‘bots’ that snap up concert seats

      The Senate is cracking down on computer software used by ticket brokers to snap up tickets to concerts and shows.

      Senators passed legislation by voice vote Wednesday that would make using the software an “unfair and deceptive practice” under the Federal Trade Commission Act and allow the FTC to pursue those cases. The House passed similar legislation in September, but the bills are not identical so the Senate legislation now moves to the House.

      The so-called “bots” rapidly purchase as many tickets as possible for resale at significant markups. They are one of the reasons why tickets to a Bruce Springsteen concert or “Hamilton” performance can sell out in just a few minutes.

    • The True Cost of Your Uber Ride Is Much Higher Than You Think

      Uber’s become the generic trademark—right up there with Kleenex and “Google it”—for using your phone to get into strangers’ cars.

      But like most cheap commodities, what you’re paying for the sausage might not reflect the actual cost it takes to make it.

      Transportation industry expert Hubert Horan is building a case for why Uber will never become a profitable company on the Naked Capitalism blog. One of the most eyebrow-raising statistics, as gleaned from investor reports, is how little riders are paying of the true cost of their trips: “Uber passengers were paying only 41% of the actual cost of their trips; Uber was using these massive subsidies to undercut the fares and provide more capacity than the competitors who had to cover 100% of their costs out of passenger fares.”

    • How Many People Are In The Labor Force? Unemployment Rate Falls To 9-Year Low, But Participation Stays Down

      The unemployment rate hit 4.6 percent in November, its lowest level since August 2007, according to monthly data released Friday by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, but that figure only tells part of the story.

    • Trump’s Trickle-Down Populism

      Last Thursday President-elect Donald Trump triumphantly celebrated Carrier’s decision to reverse its plan to close a furnace plant and move jobs to Mexico. Some 800 jobs will remain in Indianapolis.

      “Corporate America is going to have to understand that we have to take care of our workers,” Trump told The New York Times. “The free market has been sorting it out and America’s been losing,” Vice President-elect Michael Pence added, as Trump interjected, “Every time, every time.”

      So what’s the Trump alternative to the free market? Bribe giant corporations to keep jobs in America.

      Carrier’s move to Mexico would have saved the company $65 million a year in wages. Trump promised bigger benefits. The state of Indiana will throw in $7 million, but that’s just the start.

    • Race and Class in Trump’s America

      Americans don’t do political introspection well for a reason. The ‘founding’ myth poses an improbable starting point before which history was erased and after which it was subsumed by the imposed unity of ‘nation.’ As Malcolm X put it, “We didn’t land on Plymouth Rock, the rock landed on us” for American Blacks in particular, but in other dimensions of social relations as well. ‘Freedom’ in its Constitutional sense was / is the privilege to impose European property relations on people who were never asked for their consent and whose lives were overwhelmingly diminished and / or destroyed by it.

      The historical dodge that Malcolm X called to account was the tendency to ‘universalize’ the dominant culture’s history and interests as a means of subsuming contrasting experiences under an umbrella of implied consent. In most meaningful ways the interests of slave ‘masters’ and slaves were antithetical— slavers took the most by providing the least in return. This historicized formulation of capitalist ‘efficiency’ found its apologies in the imperial language of ‘the White man’s burden’ and through modern economists’ assertions that capital serves us all no matter how much human misery went into its accumulation.

    • Trump Effectively Gave Carrier Corp. a Tax Cut for Sending 1,300 Jobs to Mexico (Video)

      Donald Trump took credit for persuading the air conditioner manufacturer Carrier Corp. to keep more than 1,000 jobs in the U.S. But he effectively gave the company a tax cut for sending another 1,300 jobs to Mexico.

    • Everything you need to know about Trump and the Indiana Carrier factory

      Donald Trump scored an early public relations win this week as he took the credit for persuading a US firm not to outsource jobs to Mexico. But the case – and its implications – are more complex than they first appeared.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Three Men in a Room: The D.C. Edition

      For years, New York’s dysfunctional state government has been derisively called “Three Men in a Room.” The three men were the Governor, the New York State Senate Majority Leader and the New York State Assembly Speaker. The three have nearly unparalleled control of New York’s government. But as corrupt as Albany has been, the Governor never offered a job to the Speaker’s or Majority Leader’s wives.

      Now it looks like the country will have “Three Men in a Room” on a national scale. Starting in January, the three men will be President Donald Trump, House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. And the room is oval shaped. And two of the three are already off to a debauched start.

      As all three are Republicans, if they can agree on a legislative agenda, then federal laws could change quite rapidly as they pass the House and the Senate and are signed by the new President.

    • Trump and His Betraying Makeover

      Attention workers who voted for Trump, either eagerly or as a vote against the hawkish, Wall Street favorite, Hillary Clinton: Donald Trump, less than a month after the election, has already begun to betray you.

      You can often see where a president-elect is going by his nominations to high positions in his forthcoming administration. Across over a dozen crucial posts, Mr. Trump has chosen war hawks, Wall Streeters (with a former Goldman Sachs partner, Steven Mnuchin, as his pick for Treasury Secretary) and clenched teeth corporatists determined to jettison life-saving, injury and disease preventing regulations and leave bigger holes in your consumer pocketbooks.

      In addition to lacking a mandate from the people (he lost the popular vote), the president-elect continues to believe that mere showboating will distract from his breathtaking flip-flops in his campaign rhetoric. Remember his last big TV ad where he blasted “a global power structure” responsible “for robbing the working class” with images of Goldman Sachs flashing across the screen?

    • Deepening Contradictions: Identity Politics and Steelworkers

      Stein, it turns out, is a “pwogwessive” as Alexander Cockburn would have put it. She has written for In These Times, Dissent and The Nation—pillars of support for the Sanders campaign and uniting workers on a class basis. Such unity in her eyes precludes affirmative action since it would divide Black and white steelworkers. All lawsuits directed at the union and the corporations designed to promote equality were rejected by her since they were a plot by “Elite whites, possessing a potent brew of concern, guilt, and a desire to retain control of the social order. . .”

      Tired of being relegated to second-class citizenship in steel mills as janitors and other menial positions, Blacks supported affirmative action that would afford them preferential treatment to make up for discrimination endured in the past.

    • A Bare-Knuckle Fight Over Recounts

      The lobbying effort to blame Russia and get the electors to flip their votes is being accompanied by an intense media campaign.

      In the announcement that the Clinton campaign would join the recount, campaign counsel Elias aligned the campaign with an unverified Washington Post article based largely on a shadowy, anonymous group that blamed a list of 200 alternative media sites and political groups for spreading Russian propaganda to influence the election, without providing any evidence.

      “The Washington Post reported that the Russian government was behind much of the ‘fake news’ propaganda that circulated online in the closing weeks of the election,” Elias wrote.

      A Huffington Post article said one of the eight reasons the electors should overturn the election is because “Russian covert action influenced the election.”

      The staunchly pro-Clinton Daily Kos wrote that “Even if they never touched a voting machine, there’s absolutely no doubt: Russia hacked the election.”

      If evidence of hacking is found in the recounts, the Clinton campaign would be greatly aided in lobbying electors with confirmation from the Obama administration that Russia was behind it. But on the day before the Clinton team joined the recount, the Obama administration appeared to throw a wrench into the plan to blame Russia.

    • Trump Allies in Battleground States Rush to Stop Jill Stein’s Recount Efforts

      President-elect Donald Trump’s allies are trying to block the ballot recount being pushed by the Green Party’s Jill Stein.

      Late Thursday, two super PACs and a team of Trump attorneys filed lawsuits in Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, respectively, to try to block the efforts in those states. And on Friday morning, Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette followed suit, filing a lawsuit to stop the recount that is set to begin today.

      In Wisconsin, where the process is already underway, the Great America PAC, the Stop Hillary PAC, and an individual voter claimed the recount request Stein filed last week violates the due process of voters in the state, and could “unjustifiably cast doubt upon the legitimacy of President-Elect Donald J. Trump’s victory.” They also say the short window for the process could result in errors.

      Meanwhile, the lawsuit in Pennsylvania argues that Stein lacks a valid claim and only “alleges speculative illegality.”

    • As Hate Incidents Rise, Rights Groups Urge Trump to Denounce Bigotry

      Since the election of Donald Trump, an increased number of hate incidents have targeted minority groups in America, and the election results are having a negative impact on America’s schoolchildren, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC).

      On Tuesday, the SPLC revealed these findings at a press conference held in conjunction with a number of human rights and education leaders, calling on Trump to denounce racism and bigotry and to reconsider some of the high-level appointments he has made since the election.

    • Can Trump be checked and balanced?

      The US presidential system has been much heralded for its system of checks and balances. But Trump’s victory has given rise to a number of questions about the future of US democracy and world politics. The most important of these questions is arguably this: what checks and balances in the US political system will Trump face during his presidency? Based purely on the institutional setup of the US presidential system, how much damage can Trump cause? The answer, unfortunately, is quite a bit.

    • Steve Mnuchin: Evictor, Forecloser and Our New Treasury Secretary

      Throughout his presidential campaign, Donald Trump criticized Wall Street bankers for their excessive political influence and attacked hedge-fund managers for getting away with “murder” under the current tax code. “The hedge-fund guys didn’t build this country,” Trump said on Face the Nation. “These are guys that shift paper around and they get lucky.”

      Now, however, Trump has tapped Steve Mnuchin, a 53-year-old Wall Street hedge-fund and banking mogul — and, since May, his campaign finance chair — to be the nation’s secretary of the Treasury.

    • Trump’s Treasury Secretary Pick is a Lucky Man. Very Lucky.

      The former Goldman Sachs banker nominated to become Donald Trump’s treasury secretary had the perspicacity to purchase a collapsed subprime mortgage lender soon after the financial crisis, getting a sweet deal from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation. Now, if he’s confirmed, he will likely be able to take advantage of a tax perk given to government officials.

      Mnuchin was born into a family of Wall Street royalty. His father was an investment banker at Goldman Sachs for 30 years, serving in top management. He and his brother landed at the powerful firm, too. After making millions in mortgage trading, Mnuchin struck out on his own, creating a hedge fund and building a record of smart and well-timed investment moves.

    • Why Trump Would Almost Certainly Be Violating the Constitution If He Continues to Own His Businesses

      Far from ending with President-elect Trump’s announcement that he will separate himself from the management of his business empire, the constitutional debate about the meaning of the Emoluments Clause — and whether Trump will be violating it — is likely just beginning.

      That’s because the Emoluments Clause seems to bar Trump’s ownership of his business. It has little to do with his management of it. Trump’s tweets last Wednesday said he would be “completely out of business operations.”

      But unless Trump sells or gives his business to his children before taking office the Emoluments Clause would almost certainly be violated. Even if he does sell or give it away, any retained residual interest, or any sale payout based on the company’s results, would still give him a stake in its fortunes, again fairly clearly violating the Constitution.

    • [Old] How Democrats Killed Their Populist Soul

      It was January 1975, and the Watergate Babies had arrived in Washington looking for blood. The Watergate Babies—as the recently elected Democratic congressmen were known—were young, idealistic liberals who had been swept into office on a promise to clean up government, end the war in Vietnam, and rid the nation’s capital of the kind of corruption and dirty politics the Nixon White House had wrought. Richard Nixon himself had resigned just a few months earlier in August. But the Watergate Babies didn’t just campaign against Nixon; they took on the Democratic establishment, too. Newly elected Representative George Miller of California, then just 29 years old, announced, “We came here to take the Bastille.”

    • Intelligence Committee Senators Call On Obama To Declassify Evidence Of Russian Election Interference

      Of course, it needs to be noted that this will clearly be seen as a partisan effort. Of the seven Senators who signed on to the letter, six are Democrats, and the other, Senator Angus King, is an Independent who caucuses with the Democrats. Basically it’s all of the Democrats on the Senate Intelligence Committee except for Dianne Feinstein and Harry Reid. So, it’s easy for some to spin this as a case of sour grapes about the Democrats not winning the election, and even the idea that they’re now clinging to stories of Russian interference to explain what happened.

      But… that spin holds somewhat less weight when you look at the details. First off, the letter itself was put together by Senator Ron Wyden. And, yes, his name comes up a lot around here, but that’s because he has a pretty long history of being right on lots and lots of stuff. And that’s especially true when Wyden says that there’s some secret info that the public deserves to know about. He’s been right on that every single time he’s said it. So the track record is there. When Wyden says the public deserves to know something, pay attention.

      The second thing that provides more confidence here is that this isn’t just random conspiracy theories about “rigged” voting or whatever that some have been spewing. This is a specific request for more transparency by asking for specific information to be released to the public — specific information that the Senate Intelligence Committee members have seen.

    • Trump’s Taiwan phone call preceded by hotel development inquiry

      The woman, known only as Ms Chen arrived from the US in September to meet the mayor of Taoyuan, Cheng Wen-tsan, one of the senior politicians involved in the Aerotropolis project, a large urban development being planned around the renovation of Taiwan’s main airport, Taoyuan International.

      “She said she was associated with the Trump corporation and she would like to propose a possible investment project in the future, especially hotels,” said an official familiar with the project, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

      The official described the talks, conducted in both English and Mandarin, as a routine meeting with a potential investor. It took place in Taoyuan city hall, on the outskirts of the capital, Taipei, and lasted 15-20 minutes. Chen had not been in touch since.

      “One thing quite sure from her side was that she would like to bring the Trump corporation here to build the hotel,” said the official, who did not know if Chen had a Trump Organization business card.

    • Trump Kicks Off ‘Thank You’ Tour, Reveling in Crowd and Campaign Themes

      He boasted about himself in the third person. He sneered at the opponents he had vanquished. He disparaged journalists and invited angry chants from the crowd, grinning broadly at calls of “lock her up” and “build the wall.” He ridiculed the government’s leaders as stupid and dishonest failures.

    • Yes, you can blame millennials for Hillary Clinton’s loss

      Hillary Clinton’s campaign has lots of excuses for losing. There’s the electoral college, James Comey, the media’s alleged over-exuberance in digging into Clinton’s email server, etc. But Clinton campaign manager Robby Mook said Thursday that one particular group is especially to blame: millennials.

    • The Latest: Stein urges federal judge to get recount moving

      Green Party candidate Jill Stein is asking a federal judge to order Michigan to quickly start a recount of presidential votes.

      It’s another legal action in the dispute over whether Michigan will take a second look at ballots from the Nov. 8 election. The recount could start Wednesday because officials say state law requires a break of at least two business days.

      Stein’s attorney, Mark Brewer, filed a lawsuit Friday. He says the law violates the U.S. Constitution. He says the delay means the recount might not be finished by a Dec. 13 deadline.

    • Disney’s Bob Iger Among Donald Trump’s ‘Strategic and Policy’ Advisory Committee

      Walt Disney Co. chairman and CEO Bob Iger is among the list of business leaders who will make up President-elect Donald Trump’s strategic and policy forum, with the first meeting slated for February at the White House.

    • The Real Risk Behind Trump’s Taiwan Call

      If you work in foreign affairs, you learn that a highly unexpected event is often the result of intent or incompetence. (You also learn that what looks, at first, like intent often turns out to be incompetence.) In the Donald Trump era, we may need a third category—exploitation—which has elements of both.

      In his first semiofficial act of foreign policy, President-elect Trump, on Friday, lobbed a firework into the delicate diplomacy of Asia by taking a phone call from Taiwan’s President, breaking thirty-seven years of American practice in a way that is sure to upset relations with China. It wasn’t clear how much he intended to abruptly alter geopolitics, and how much he was incompetently improvising. There is evidence of each; in either case, the way he did it is very dangerous.

      Some background: Taiwan broke away from mainland China in 1949, and the two sides exist in a tense equilibrium, governed by decades of diplomatic agreements that serve to prevent war in Asia. Under that arrangement, the U.S. maintains friendly relations with Taiwan, while Presidents since Ronald Reagan have deliberately avoided speaking directly with Taiwan’s President because the U.S. formally recognizes only the Beijing government.

    • So We’re Gonna Stop Thinking for Four Years?

      So we’re really going to do this? Years of not thinking?

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • Media bigwigs converse about ratings and censorship

      Pakistan’s first and only production and entertainment conference, Focus PK ’16, kicked off on Saturday at a Karachi hotel, where discussions were held about the media industry and its future, with a tinge of nostalgia for the bygone days.

    • We need to resist censorship of cyberspace

      The hacking effort – aimed at prominent thinkers including New York Times Pulitzer laureate Paul Krugman , Stanford professor and former diplomat Michael McFaul, Newsweek political editor Matthew Cooper, New York Magazine writer Jonathan Chait, and others – comes after Democratic National Committee and Clinton campaign emails were stolen by Russian hackers and amid a new effort to create a national “watchlist” of liberal professors. Questions have also surfaced over whether the US presidential election was hacked.

      Together, these developments suggest something even more chilling: The halcyon WikiLeaks era when our chief fear was that the whole truth might emerge online is officially over. Cyberspace is rapidly becoming censored.

    • Sweden’s pioneering free press act turns 250

      Today marks the 250th anniversary of Sweden’s Freedom of the Press Act, and at a time where both freedom of information and questions over what the media publish are increasingly in the spotlight, the pioneering document is particularly relevant. Here are five facts you should know about it.

    • Thai Activist Arrested for Facebook Share About New King

      Police in Thailand arrested a student pro-democracy activist Saturday for sharing a story about the country’s new king that was posted on Facebook by the Thai-language service of the BBC.

      The arrest was apparently the first under the country’s tough lese majeste law since King Vajiralongkorn Bodindradebayavarangkun took the throne on Thursday, succeeding his late father, King Bhumibol Adulyadej. Lese majeste, or insulting the monarchy, carries a penalty of three to 15 years in prison.

      Duangthip Karith of Thai Lawyers for Human Rights said that law student Jatupat “Pai” Boonpattararaksa was arrested while attending a Buddhist ceremony in the northeastern province of Chaiyaphum. Jatupat posted that he was being arrested and briefly broadcast the police reading the charge on a Facebook Live video stream.

    • Taslima Nasrin on being a writer in exile: Bans and censorship hurt; but banishment hurt the most

      Bangladeshi writer Taslima Nasrin is back with a new book — this time, a memoir called Exile. Published by Penguin Randomhouse, Exile has Nasrin disclosing the series of events during the seven-month struggle that led to her ouster from West Bengal, Rajasthan and India; the time she spent under house arrest and the “anxious days (she) had to spend in the government safe house, beset by a scheming array of bureaucrats and ministers desperate to see (her) gone”.

    • The “fake news” furor and the threat of Internet censorship

      In the weeks since the November 8 election, US media reports on the spread of so-called “fake news” during the presidential campaign have increasingly repeated unsubstantiated pre-election claims that the Russian government hacked into Democratic Party email servers to undermine the campaign of Hillary Clinton. There is more than a whiff of McCarthyism in this crusade against “fake news” on social media and the Internet, with online publications critical of US wars of aggression and other criminal activities being branded as Russian propaganda outlets.

      A case in point is an article published in the November 24 edition of the Washington Post headlined “Russian propaganda effort helped spread ‘fake news’ during election, experts say.” The article includes assertions that Russian “botnets, teams of paid human ‘trolls,’ and networks of web sites and social media accounts” were used to promote sites across the Internet “as they portrayed Clinton as a criminal hiding potentially fatal health problems and preparing to hand control of the nation to a shadowy cabal of global financiers.”

    • Political correctness debate centers around respect, not censorship

      The political correctness debate is no small misunderstanding. According to the Pew Research center, 59 percent of Americans believe that “too many people are easily offended these days over the language that others use.”

    • We Won’t Let You Forget It: Why We Oppose French Attempts to Export the Right To Be Forgotten Worldwide

      One country’s government shouldn’t determine what Internet users across the globe can see online. But a French regulator is saying that, under Europe’s “Right to be Forgotten,” Google should have to delist search results globally, keeping them from users across the world. That’s a step too far, and would conflict with the rights of users in other nations, including those protected by the laws and Constitution of the United States.

      EFF joined Article 19 and other global free speech groups in a brief to the Conseil d’Etat asking it to overturn that ruling by France’s data protection authority, the Commission Nationale de l’Informatique et des Libertés’ (CNIL). The brief, filed Nov. 23, 2016, argues that extending European delisting requirements to the global Internet inherently clashes with other countries’ laws and fundamental rights, including the First Amendment in the U.S.

      The European Union’s Court of Justice ruled in 2013 that Europeans have the right to demand that certain links be taken out of search engine results. But the French CNIL vastly expanded the effect of these requests when it said in 2015 that Google must remove links from not just search results returned within the EU, but from search results for everyone, anywhere in the world. This interpretation of the Right to be Forgotten runs contrary to policy and practice outside Europe, will harm the global Internet, and inherently undermines global rights, including those protected by the Constitution in the United States. For an in depth analysis, read our legal background document.

    • Senate Responds to Trump-Inspired Anti-Semitism By Targeting Students Who Criticize Israel

      After Donald Trump’s election emboldened white supremacists and inspired a wave of anti-Semitic hate incidents across the country, the Senate on Thursday took action by passing a bill aimed at limiting the free-speech rights of college students who express support for Palestinians.

      By unanimous consent, the Senate quietly passed the so-called Anti-Semitism Awareness Act, only two days after it was introduced by Sens. Bob Casey, D-Pa., and Tim Scott, R-S.C.

      A draft of the bill obtained by The Intercept encourages the Department of Education to use the State Department’s broad, widely criticized definition of anti-Semitism when investigating schools. That definition, from a 2010 memo, includes as examples of anti-Semitism “delegitimizing” Israel, “demonizing” Israel, “applying double standards” to Israel, and “focusing on Israel only for peace or human rights investigations.”

    • The Orwellian War on Skepticism

      Under the cover of battling “fake news,” the mainstream U.S. news media and officialdom are taking aim at journalistic skepticism when it is directed at the pronouncements of the U.S. government and its allies.

      One might have hoped that the alarm about “fake news” would remind major U.S. news outlets, such as The Washington Post and The New York Times, about the value of journalistic skepticism. However, instead, it seems to have done the opposite.

    • Q&A: Russia, China Swapping Cybersecurity, Censorship Tips

      A series of joint events by Russia and China on cybersecurity has prompted speculation that Moscow is looking to the architect of the Great Firewall of China for inspiration on how to censor and otherwise regulate the Internet. But it’s a two-way street, and Beijing is learning from Moscow, too, says Andrei Soldatov, co-author of the book Red Web: The Struggle Between Russia’s Digital Dictators And New Online Revolutionaries.

    • Qatari news site says website blocked, blames state censorship

      An independent English-language news site in Qatar accused the Gulf state of censorship on Thursday, saying two internet service providers had blocked access to its website.

      The Doha News, which stirred a debate about the limits of tolerance in the conservative country in August with an opinion column on gay rights in Qatar, said the two internet firms had simultaneously barred access to its website on Wednesday.

    • Qatari news website raises ‘censorship’ concerns
    • Blocked Qatari news site blames government censorship
    • Qatar accused of censorship after Doha News website blocked
    • Putin Promises to Halt Censorship of Artists in Russia
    • Vladimir Putin warns Russian artists against offending religious believers after Charlie Hebdo attack
    • Putin CRACKS DOWN on ART in Russia, warning against ‘DANGEROUS’ freedom of expression
    • Putin warns artists against ‘dangerous behavior’
    • Social media site Reddit censors Trump supporters
    • Reddit is censoring the pro-Donald Trump community
    • Reddit Censoring Donald Trump Subreddit From Front Page?
  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • The Snowden Movie Illustrates Why I’m So Pessimistic About The Future

      Last night the cybersecurity firm F-Secure hosted a screening of Oliver Stone’s latest film, Snowden – a dramatisation of how the eponymous hero went from working deep inside the American Intelligence apparatus, to becoming an internationally famous whistleblower who has been lionised and demonised in equal measure. Essentially, F-Secure probably couldn’t have asked for a better sales pitch.

      Joseph Gordon-Levitt stars as Snowden, and the film skips back and forth between the tense days spent in a Hong Kong hotel room after he leaked his insider knowledge to Glenn Greenwald, Laura Poitras and The Guardian, and flashbacks through his career and his relationship. It’s hard to know exactly what was real and what was a dramatic invention by the filmmaker – but it makes for a very powerful explanation of exactly what programmes the NSA is running, and what they are capable of, and the potential human consequences of such actions.

    • Tech Companies, Fix These Technical Issues Before It’s Too Late
    • Malware and Mysteries: Secret Surveillance in Argentina
    • Law Enforcement’s Secret “Super Search Engine” Amasses Trillions of Phone Records for Decades

      Although the government still hides too much information about a secret telephone records surveillance program known as Hemisphere, we have learned through EFF’s Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuits that police tout the massive database of private calls as “Google on Steroids” [pdf].

      Hemisphere, which AT&T operates on behalf of federal, state, and local law enforcement, contains trillions of domestic and international phone call records dating back to 1987. AT&T adds roughly four billion phone records to Hemisphere each day [.pptx], including calls from non-AT&T customers that pass through the company’s switches.

      The Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) and other federal, state and local police use Hemisphere to not only track when and who someone is calling, but to perform complicated traffic analysis that can dynamically map people’s social networks and physical locations. This even includes knowing when someone changes their phone number.

      And federal officials often do it without first getting permission from a judge.

      Indeed, Hemisphere was designed to be extremely secret, with police instructed to do everything possible to make sure the program never appeared in the public record. After using Hemisphere to obtain private information about someone, police usually cover up their use of Hemisphere by later obtaining targeted data about suspects from phone providers through traditional subpoenas, a process the police call “parallel construction” and that EFF calls “evidence laundering.”

    • The IP Act: UK’s most extreme surveillance law

      The Investigatory Powers Act will come into force at the start of 2017, and will cement ten years of illegal surveillance into law.

      It includes state powers to intercept bulk communications and collect vast amounts of communications data and content. The security and law enforcement agencies – including government organisations such as HMRC (Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs) – can hack into devices of people in the UK.

    • How to Protect Yourself From Government Surveillance and Criminal Hackers

      Even if you like to share thoughts and photos on social media, there are certainly plenty of things that you’d like to keep between yourself and a select few. ACLU Speech, Privacy, and Technology Project Director Ben Wizner sat down with our principal technologist Christopher Soghoian for a Facebook Live video Q&A on how to keep the government and other snoopers out of your private digital business.

    • CREDO Confirms It’s at Center of Long-Running Legal Fight Over NSLs

      Mobile Provider Battled Gag Order That Forced It to Keep Customers in the Dark

      San Francisco – CREDO Mobile representatives confirmed today that their company was at the center of the long-running legal battle over the constitutionality of national security letters (NSLs), and published the letters the government sent three years ago.

      The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has represented CREDO in this matter since 2013—and the case, bundled with two other NSL challenges, has reached the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. Until now, CREDO was under a gag order, preventing CREDO officials from identifying the company or discussing their role in the case. In March, a district court found that the FBI had failed to demonstrate the need for this gag, and struck it down pending an appeal by the government. But earlier this month, the government decided to drop its appeal of that order, leaving CREDO free to talk about why the legal challenge is important to the company and its customers.

    • Fighting NSL Gag Orders, With Help From Our Friends at CREDO and Internet Archive

      Thanks to our clients and friends at CREDO Mobile and the Internet Archive, EFF was able to shine a rare light on national security letters (NSLs) this week. The FBI uses NSLs to force Internet providers and telecommunications companies to turn over the names, addresses, and other records about their customers. NSLs almost always come with a secrecy provision that bars the companies—in violation of the Constitution—from publicly disclosing the requests. Worse still, NSL gags generally last forever and are imposed by the FBI without any mandatory court oversight.

      The FBI has issued hundreds of thousands of NSLs since 9/11, and because of their secrecy, NSLs have become a totemic representation of the government’s overreaching surveillance powers.

    • The Problem of Our Surveillance Laws: Report Exposes Deeply Rooted Governmental Secrecy—Underscoring Why Obama Should Act Now

      Kafka wrote in his parable The Problem of Our Laws, “It is an extremely painful thing to be ruled by laws that one does not know.”

      By this standard, America has long been in pain. Secret law runs rampant in the United States, particularly when national security is concerned. It may be legitimate for the government to keep some information secret, like targets of investigations and specific intelligence strategies, but this should be a relatively short list. And it should not, except in the most extreme circumstance, extend to the law itself. A recent report by the Brennan Center for Justice’s Liza Goitein, however, exposes just how deep the problem of keeping even the law secret runs—with over-classification fostering constitutionally suspect legal reasoning and the rapid erosion of any meaningful check on governmental power.

      The Brennan Center report also confirms something we’ve been arguing for years—it’s time for some transparency and accountability in our laws. With only 48 days left in Obama’s presidency, the call to shed some light on the law purportedly supporting the government’s secret surveillance programs is all the more urgent. Opening the blinds is a practical step for protecting the democratic principles this country was founded on—especially as the power to invoke secrecy and surveil Americans is posed to pass into new and untested hands. President Obama, the time is now.

    • P/C Industry Warns China’s New Cybersecurity Law Could Hamper Foreign Business

      China’s new wide-ranging cybersecurity law is drawing some serious apprehension from the U.S. property/casualty insurance industry. Trade associations and experts alike caution that it will create business obstacles in the world’s second-largest economy.

      “Most insurers already find China a difficult market in which to get a toehold,” Michael Barry, vice president of media relations with the Insurance Information Institute, told Carrier Management via email. “This action will not make things easier.”

      As reported by Bloomberg and others, the new law was recently passed by China’s main legislative body, the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress. It takes effect in June and will implement a number of new requirements, such as mandatory testing and certification of computer equipment. Companies are also required to give government investigators complete access to their data if there is suspected wrong-doing, and Internet operators must cooperate in any national security or crime-related investigation.

    • WhatsApp to cut off support for millions of phones, tells people to buy new ones instead [Ed: better surveillance by Facebook]

      WhatsApp is about to stop working on millions of phones.

      Older devices are going to have their support cut off so that they’ll no longer be able to use the free chat app.

      Phones including the iPhone 3GS and Android handsets are about to stop being supported by WhatsApp’s engineers. And when that happens, owners will no longer be able to send or receive messages.

      WhatsApp first announced the change early this year. But it said then that it would be implemented by the end of the year, and so there are only relatively few days left before it happens.

    • Uber knows where you go, even after ride is over

      As promised, Uber is now tracking you even when your ride is over. The ride-hailing service said the surveillance—even when riders close the app—will improve its service.

      The company now tracks customers from when they request a ride until five minutes after the ride has ended. According to Uber, the move will help drivers locate riders without having to call them, and it will also allow Uber to analyze whether people are being dropped off and picked up properly—like on the correct side of the street.

    • Snapchat Maker Expands in London Ahead of Public Offering [Ed: proprietary. The British government will demand back doors. Avoid.]

      Snap Inc. recently posted nearly 20 job openings in London in areas including advertising, software engineering and legal, according to its website. The vacancies come after the company in February signed a 10-year lease on a four-story, 12,570-square-foot (1,168-square-meter) property in the U.K. capital. In October, Snap also opened an office in Paris for staff working on advertising and partnerships with French-language media organizations.

    • Families who sheltered Edward Snowden in Hong Kong say NSA whistleblower ‘gave them hope’

      The three groups of individuals who sheltered American whistle-blower Edward Snowden in Hong Kong after he leaked sensitive intelligence files in 2013, dream of leaving the city and being received by a third country, where they can find safety and rebuild their broken lives.

      “I don’t like staying here, because we are not ­allowed to have a life,” Nadeeka Dilrukski Nonis, an asylum seeker from Sri Lanka, said, holding her ­seven-month-old boy, still too small and fragile to understand his mother’s concerns. “We just want a place where my children can have a future. It can be anywhere, if there’s safety and freedom.”

      Some two months after their photos and names were plastered all over the world press, the families who housed Snowden for a couple of weeks in 2013 told the Sunday Morning Post they had no regrets about helping the former National Security Agency contractor. Although they are still facing the consequences of the exposure that came with it, they said their contact with Snowden gave them something that had been taken from them while in limbo in Hong Kong: hope.

    • GCHQ: from two old sites to one shiny new Doughnut

      When someone in Cheltenham says they work at GCHQ, you know where they mean – that big round building on the A40 – there’s a sign and everything – it’s even on the bus blinds.

    • Explosive document could REVEAL WikiLeaks whistleblowers behind German NSA paper release

      German experts claim one single document holds the key to every single person that helped Wikileaks, which notoriously publishes private and classified information, unveil papers which threaten to derail Angela Merkel’s hopes of dominating the EU.

      A German parliament spokesman warned a lead to informants could spark a criminal investigations, according to local reports.

      It comes after Wikileaks published a 90GB cache containing almost 2,500 top-secret documents, which sheds light on the murky relationship between Germany’s Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND) and America’s National Security Agency (NSA).

    • Court Rubber Stamps IRS’s Demand To Get All Coinbase User Data

      A couple weeks back, we wrote about a ridiculous and massively overbroad demand from the IRS that virtual currency exchange/online wallet host Coinbase turn over basically all info on basically all Coinbase users. They did this because they saw evidence of a single person using Bitcoin to avoid paying taxes. Coinbase expressed concern over this, but Judge Jacqueline Scott Corley didn’t seem too concerned, and has granted the IRS’s request by literally rubber stamping the DOJ’s request. I know it’s not all that uncommon for judges to accept “proposed orders” but it’s still a bit disturbing to see it happen on something with potentially massive consequences.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • I, Barrett Brown, Have Returned

      Four years ago, after my overly dramatic arrest by the FBI, I vowed to return to Dallas at the time of its greatest peril, or anyway I meant to vow this. Now I have fulfilled the promise I definitely intended to make; my sentence complete, on Tuesday I rode from a South Texas prison with my mom and dad and Alex Winter for some reason to a halfway house 20 minutes south of downtown. I live in a room with five drug dealers. We have a TV and an Xbox 360. When I came in, they were watching the 1990 Charlie Sheen vehicle Navy Seals, a film of extraordinary obnoxiousness. Further reports will follow.

    • Drunk men screaming Trump’s name try to rip off Muslim student’s hijab as straphangers stand idly by on East Side subway, cops say

      Straphangers stood by and watched as three drunk white men repeatedly screamed “Donald Trump!” and hurled anti-Islam slurs Thursday at a Muslim Baruch College student before trying to rip her hijab off of her head on an East Side subway, the woman told the Daily News.

      Yasmin Seweid said she was stunned by the assault — and the fact that no one in the subway car came to her aid.

      “It made me really sad after when I thought about it,” she said. “People were looking at me and looking at what was happening and no one said a thing. They just looked away.”

      The terrified 18-year-old recounted her harrowing encounter with the hate-spewing trio.

    • Senator Feinstein Asks President Obama To Declassify Senate’s CIA Torture Report

      Could President Obama actually declassify and release the full 6,800 page report on the massive failures of the CIA’s torture program from a decade ago? While it seems unlikely, Senator Dianne Feinstein is urging the President to release the document, fearing that the massive report may disappear into the memory hole soon.

      Some background: While Feinstein has been historically awful on basically anything having to do with reining in the US intelligence community, the one area that really seemed to get her attention and raise concerns was the CIA’s torture regime. She assigned Senate Intelligence Committee staffers to work on a massive and detailed report on the CIA’s torture program after it came out that a key official involved in the program had deliberately deleted videotape evidence about the program. The research and writing of the report went on for years and cost millions of dollars, and then resulted in another big fight over releasing a heavily redacted version of just the executive summary of the report (not to mention that the CIA also broke into the staffers’ computers after it realized it had accidentally given the staffers a really damning document). The fight over releasing the paper was really, really ridiculous.

      There were fights over what ridiculous things to redact, and then the White House put on a full court press against releasing the document, insisting that publicly releasing even a heavily redacted executive summary would inspire terrorist attacks. Even after an agreement was reached on the redactions, John Kerry still tried to block the release, again warning of potential attacks in response.

    • How do you call something dystopic when dystopia keeps upgrading itself to something worse?

      Civil rights activists have a PR problem. When calling a bad development out as the worst seen in a democracy, that’s the strongest you can condemn something. The development thus called out may legitimately be the worst ever seen, and be rightfully called out as such, as a dystopia coming true. But next week, another law proposal appears which is even worse, and so you say again that this is the worst ever seen, again correctly. But when people just hear you saying that everything is the worst, all the time, it becomes a big communications problem and needs to be reframed.

      Every time you think the surveillance hawks have hit rock bottom and can’t possibly sink any lower, they surprise you with new levels of shamelessness. The problem here is the rapidly shifting window of normality.

    • These Big Native American Facebook Pages Are Actually Being Run By People In Kosovo And Vietnam

      As pipeline protesters at Standing Rock prepare to dig in for the winter, a growing network of dubious Native American Facebook pages is cashing in on the movement by selling stolen No DAPL T-shirt designs and by driving traffic to dubious clickbait websites, a BuzzFeed News investigation has found.

      The owners of these pages and websites reside in faraway countries such as Vietnam and Kosovo, and they are capitalizing on online interest in Standing Rock, and Native American culture in general, to make money. BuzzFeed News identified more than 60 Facebook pages with more than 6 million fans that are generating money either by selling counterfeit Native American merchandise, or by driving traffic to ad-filled websites that in some cases have little or nothing to do with Native American issues.

    • Liberal Moroccan Writer Said Nachid: Raif Badawi Is Forced to Pray and Attend Religious Classes in Prison

      Liberal Moroccan writer Said Nachid talked, during a conference of the Adhoc organization of liberal modern thought, held in Rome, about his friend Raif Badawi, who was arrested in 2012 and later sentenced to 10 years in prison and 1,000 lashes for “insulting Islam through electronic channels.” Nachid said that in the early days of Badawi’s incarceration, when he still had his mobile phone, he used to call him and tell him about the religious guidance one is forced to attend, including mandatory prayers and lessons in the teachings of Ibn Hanbal and Ibn Taymiyya. The video was posted on Adhoc’s social media channels on November 13.

    • Slovakia bars Islam from becoming state religion by tightening church laws

      The government in Slovakia has approved a law effectively preventing Islam being registered as a state religion for a number of years.

      The bill was proposed by the Slovak National Party (SNS), and requires a religion to have at least 50,000 followers before it qualifies for state subsidies.

      According to the most recent census, there are currently around 2,000 Muslim people living in Slovakia out of a population of 5.4million, and there are no registered mosques.

    • Norway frees radical Islamist as Italy ends extradition bid

      Italy has cancelled a request for the extradition from Norway of controversial Iraqi Kurdish fundamentalist preacher Mullah Krekar, the Norwegian prosecution agency said on Wednesday, ordering his immediate release.
      The prosecution agency did not provide any explanation for Italy’s move, saying simply that the Italian justice ministry had informed its Norwegian counterpart in a letter that the request would be “withdrawn.”

    • Urgent Action Update: Jailed Filmmaker At Risk Of Flogging (Iran: UA 19/16)

      Iranian filmmaker Keywan Karimi was jailed on 23 November after being summoned to start serving his prison sentence. The authorities have told Keywan Karimi they also intend to carry out his flogging sentence of 223 lashes. He is a prisoner of conscience.

      Iranian filmmaker Keywan Karimi, from Iran’s Kurdish minority, began serving his prison sentence on 23 November. Although he had never received an official written summons, the Office for the Implementation of Sentences had repeatedly telephoned him since February 2016, ordering him to present himself to Tehran’s Evin Prison to begin serving his sentence. The authorities have also told him that they intend to implement his flogging sentence of 223 lashes.

    • UN to pursue further inquiry into death of Dag Hammarskjöld

      What caused the 1961 plane crash that killed former UN secretary general Dag Hammarskjöld? A Swedish-led UN inquiry the following year concluded that the plane, the Albertina, had crashed in northern Rhodesia (now Zambia) as a result of “pilot error”. But this failed to satisfy many who have long suspected foul play.

      There were claims that the Albertina, which was carrying Hammarskjöld and a 15-strong team seeking to negotiate a ceasefire in the breakaway African republic of Katanga, was riddled with bullets. Several witnesses said they saw as many as eight white men, armed and in combat fatigues, at the crash site.

    • Thanks To Months Of Doing Nothing, Senate Allows DOJ’s Rule 41 Changes To Become Law

      The FBI and others will be able to take advantage of the removal of jurisdictional limits to search computers anywhere in the world using a single warrant issued by a magistrate judge. It will also be granted the same power for use in the disruption of botnets — in essence, searches/seizures of devices owned by US citizens suspected of no wrongdoing.

    • Of 8 Tech Companies, Only Twitter Says It Would Refuse to Help Build Muslim Registry for Trump

      Every American corporation, from the largest conglomerate to the smallest firm, should ask itself right now: Will we do business with the Trump administration to further its most extreme, draconian goals? Or will we resist?

      This question is perhaps most important for the country’s tech companies, which are particularly valuable partners for a budding authoritarian. The Intercept contacted nine of the most prominent such firms, from Facebook to Booz Allen Hamilton, to ask if they would sell their services to help create a national Muslim registry, an idea recently resurfaced by Donald Trump’s transition team. Only Twitter said no.

      Shortly after the election, IBM CEO Ginni Rometty wrote a personal letter to President-elect Trump in which she offered her congratulations, and more importantly, the services of her company. The six different areas she identified as potential business opportunities between a Trump White House and IBM were all inoffensive and more or less mundane, but showed a disturbing willingness to sell technology to a man with open interest in the ways in which technology can be abused: Mosque surveillance, a “virtual wall” with Mexico, shutting down portions of the internet on command, and so forth. Trump’s anti-civil liberty agenda, half-baked and vague as it is, would largely be an engineering project, one that would almost certainly rely on some help from the private sector. It may be asking too much to demand that companies that have long contracted with the federal government stop doing so altogether; indeed, this would probably cause as much harm and disruption to good public projects as it would help stop the sinister ones.

    • In Stunning Reversal, Law Enforcement, Military, and Security Advisors Urge Homeland Security to Shift Away from Private Prisons

      In a surprise development, the Homeland Security Advisory Council (HSAC), an expert panel of law enforcement, national security, military, and other experts who advise the secretary of the Department of Homeland Security voted on Thursday to recommend that the agency shift away from using private prisons to detain immigrants.

    • If Cops Don’t Turn on Their Body Cameras, Courts Should Instruct Juries to Think Twice about Their Testimony

      Since 2014, at least 14 people have been killed by police officers wearing body cameras that were either not turned on or not operational. Roughly two months ago, an officer in Charlotte failed to activate his body camera before fatally shooting Keith Lamont Scott. (On Wednesday, news broke that the officer who killed Scott will not face charges.) Days earlier, an officer in Washington, D.C., failed to turn on his body camera before fatally shooting Terrence Sterling. And this past July, an officer in Chicago failed to activate his body camera before fatally shooting Paul O’Neal in the back.

      These unrecorded killings threaten to undermine confidence in body cameras. If these cameras are only as good as the police officers and departments responsible for deploying them, then their contributions to police accountability will depend on the very people they are supposed to hold accountable.

      But it doesn’t have to be this way. As explained in “No Tape, No Testimony,” a new report by the ACLU of Massachusetts and the Samuelson Law, Technology & Public Policy Clinic at UC Berkeley’s School of Law, police officers and departments are not the only ones who can ensure that body cameras are used responsibly. Courts can do it, too.

      Courts can influence body camera usage through a tool that is unique to courts: jury instructions. Consistent with provisions the ACLU recommends that state legislators put into law, the new report proposes a model instruction that would discourage body camera mishaps by empowering juries to devalue or even disregard a police officer’s testimony if, in the jury’s view, the officer unjustifiably failed to record an interaction with a civilian. Courts should consider trying it, for at least three reasons.

    • Internet Archive Successfully Fends Off Secret FBI Order
    • Internet Archive Received National Security Letter with FBI Misinformation about Challenging Gag Order

      Potentially Thousands of Communication Providers Received Bad Instructions for Fighting Secrecy Provisions

      The Internet Archive published a formerly secret national security letter (NSL) today that includes misinformation about how to contest the accompanying gag order that demanded total secrecy about the request. As a result of the Archive’s challenge to the letter, the FBI has agreed to send clarifications about the law to potentially thousands of communications providers who have received NSLs in the last year and a half.

      The NSL issued to the Archive said the library had the right to “make an annual challenge to the nondisclosure requirement.” But in 2015, Congress updated the law to allow for more than one request a year, so that communications providers could speak out about their experience without unneeded delay. Represented by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), the Archive informed the FBI that it did not have the information the agency was seeking and pointed out the legal error. The FBI agreed to drop the gag order in this case and allow the publication of the NSL.

      “The free flow of information is at the heart of the Internet Archive’s work, but by using national security letters in conjunction with unconstitutional gag orders, the FBI is trying to keep us all in the dark,” said Brewster Kahle, founder and digital librarian of the Internet Archive. “Here, it’s even worse: that secrecy helped conceal that the FBI was giving all NSL recipients bad information about their rights. So we especially wanted to make this NSL public to give libraries and other institutions more information and help them protect their users from any improper FBI requests.”

      The Archive received this NSL in August, more than a year after Congress changed the law to allow more gag order challenges. In its letter removing the gag order, the FBI acknowledged that it issued other NSLs that included the error, and stated that it will inform all recipients about the mistake. Given that the FBI has said that it issued about 13,000 NSLs last year, thousands of communications providers likely received the false information, and potentially delayed petitioning the court for the right to go public.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • The Trans-Pacific Partnership Is Dead, and That’s Good for Internet Freedom

      The controversial Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement is on its deathbed. After international outcry and intense grassroots organizing, US lawmakers from both parties rejected the 12-country deal, including every leading presidential candidate. The president-elect has said he’ll withdraw from the pact on day one.

    • Presidential Commission Sounds Warning Over Botnet Threat

      The next U.S. administration should take immediate steps to prevent and, when possible, eliminate computer attacks like one that recently crippled some of the key systems that run the internet, a presidential commission recommended on Friday.

    • A blow against net neutrality: AT&T’s DirecTV Now service could trigger a sponsored-data arms race

      AT&T unleashed this week one of the most ambitious TV streaming service yet, and one that has piqued the interest of millions of cord cutters who are fed up with satellite and cable service providers, high-priced programming bundles and cumbersome set-top boxes.

      For an introductory offer of $35 a month, DirecTV Now’s “Go Big” 100-channel package gives subscribers access to ESPN and Fox Sports, cable news broadcasters CNN and MSNBC, basic cable channels like TNT and Discovery and popular programs like “The Walking Dead,” “Grey’s Anatomy” and “Empire,” all delivered to the digital screens of your choice. The company is also offering three larger bundles for up to $70 a month with programming from Univision, NBA TV and the Travel Channel.

      But critics of how AT&T is marketing DirecTV Now argue that America’s second-largest telecommunications company has just upped the ante in an ongoing effort to keep the Internet a level playing field.

    • After Zero Rating Backlash, Facebook Returns With New, Somewhat Murky ‘Express WiFi’ Initiative

      You might recall that earlier this year there was a massive backlash against Facebook for its often clumsy attempts to try and dominate emerging developing nation ad markets through what many saw as bogus altruism. The entire fracas bubbled over in India, where regulators banned Facebook’s attempt to create a sort of zero-rated, net neutrality-violating walled garden of Facebook-curated content under the pretense of helping the nation’s farmers. Facebook didn’t help itself by trying to drum up fake support for its initiatives while labeling those worried about the plan as extremists.

      Under the original idea, low-income families got access to a limited crop of Facebook-approved content; sort of a glorified AOL for poor people. However, net neutrality advocates and critics like Mozilla were (justly) concerned with this giving Facebook too much power over content, so they consistently argued that if Facebook was so desperately interested in helping the poor — the company and its Internet.org initiative should focus on providing actual broadband connectivity.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Copyrights

      • Mandatory Piracy Filters May Violate EU Law, Scholars Warn

        A group of prominent legal scholars has warned that the EU Commission’s plans to modernize copyright law in Europe appear to be incompatible with EU law. One of the main problems is the mandatory piracy filter Internet services are required to use, which largely ignore existing case law and human rights.

      • Antigua Says It Will Certainly, Absolutely, Definitely Use WTO Permission To Ignore US Copyright And Set Up A Pirate Site, Maybe

        One of the longest-running, and most extraordinary, sagas on Techdirt concerns the island of Antigua. Over 13 years ago, the country filed a complaint at the World Trade Organization (WTO) over the US ban on online gambling, which Antigua said violated a trade agreement between the two countries. Long story short, the WTO not only agreed, but said that the Caribbean country could ignore US copyrights, and set up a WTO-authorized pirate site to obtain the $21 million in WTO sanctions that the US was refusing to pay as compensation for blocking Antigua’s online gambling sites. In 2013, Antigua was still saying it was definitely going to do this if it couldn’t come to some agreement with the US on the matter, and the US was still refusing to settle.

      • Third time lucky? Iceland’s Pirate party given chance to form government

        Iceland’s Pirate Party leader Birgitta Jonsdottir has been asked by the president to try to form a new government, local media reported on Friday, after the two largest parliamentary parties each failed to put together a coalition.

        Speaking to reporters after a meeting with President Gudni Johannesson, Jonsdottir said: “I am hopeful that we will find a way to work together.”

        The anti-establishment Pirate Party, which came third in an October election, will continue talks with four other parties represented in parliament, the Left-Greens, Social Democrats, Bright Future and the Reform Party.

        The Left-Greens suspended coalition negotiations last week. The Independence Party, which as the biggest party was given the first chance to form a governing coalition, said on Nov. 15 that it had failed to do so.

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