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Links 21/9/2014: xorg-server 1.16.1, Linux Kernel 3.16.3



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Contents





GNU/Linux



Free Software/Open Source



Leftovers



  • Health/Nutrition



  • Defence/Police/Secrecy/Aggression



    • What happened to the budget crisis?
      It appears that the much-talked up budget crisis has disappeared because Tony Abbott’s government is spending big on war.

      The Coalition government has quickly allocated half a billion dollars a year to join the new war on Iraq by another US-led “coalition of the willing”, or — if we call it what it is — a “coalition for the killing”.

      The ABC's 7.30 program said on September 15 that the Australian government has "invested a billion dollars buying into a state-of-the-art military satellite system".


    • Letter from America: Western Invaders were no liberators
      The western invaders of Muslim lands have never been their liberators and, bluntly speaking, are responsible for the majority of the problems plaguing those nation states today. Their interest has never been stability of those former colonies but the existence of a dynamic balance of power in which all players are effectively paralyzed so that no one would threaten them. Thus, they would rather have murderous criminals like Assad and Sisi rule those former colonies than someone who is perceived as a threat to western interest and hegemony. Period!


    • DECLASSIFIED: CIA intelligence official describes spending 9/11 with the US President
      “HE PUT DOWN the newspaper and said, “Anything of interest this morning?”

      Those were the actions of US President George W Bush on the morning of 11 September 2001, before any news of disturbances on domestic flights emerged.


    • Looking back at secret war in Afghanistan
      In the Reagan 1980s, I often attended the annual gatherings of the Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington. Several days of meetings featuring speeches by the most influential (domestic) thinkers on the right were capped off by a formal dinner that was often attended by President and Mrs. Reagan.

      Among the 1,000 or so attendees in an ornate ballroom were a few tables of men who stood out because of their native dress. They were all male, wore turbans, and had beards. Despite their discordant appearance, when they were recognized from the dais, they were greeted with thunderous applause.

      They were introduced as Afghan freedom fighters, representing the front lines in their war against the Soviets in the midst of our Cold War. And those of us gathering in the glow of the Gipper wanted desperately for them to succeed against communism.


    • Letter: Don’t return to Cold War relations with Russia
      In a recent article in The American Conservative titled “Does the CIA believe Obama?” former CIA officer Philip Giraldi stated: “I know of no former or current intelligence official who believes that the expansion of NATO into Eastern Europe is a good idea, that toppling Bashar al-Assad would bring anything but chaos, or that bombing ISIS will actually accomplish anything.” Intelligence pros are far more skeptical of government claims than their bosses let on.

      As a fellow CIA retiree, I have to agree that Giraldi’s observations are absolutely correct. Having been invaded at least seven times in its history, a Russia with few natural barriers needs a protective collar of friendly or neutral states as a buffer, and an aggressive NATO pushing ever-closer to its border constitutes a threat Russia cannot afford to tolerate.


    • Threat magnified
      All I was saying was that the threat of terrorism has been magnified and amplified, if not created, to justify war. I did not make this up myself, I got it from a BBC documentary that quotes CIA sources in challenging and rubbishing the perceived image of Al Qaeda.


    • More of the same
      US intellectual and commentator Noam Chomsky explains the likely consequences of US plans to attack Iraq to Nermeen Al-Mufti


    • Ex-CIA Chief Hayden: 5,000 Covert 'Boots on Ground' in Syria by Year's End


    • U.S. boots already on the ground
      Here's a national-security riddle: How can President Obama provide limited military support on the ground to help "degrade and ultimately destroy" the Islamic State without formally violating his pledge not to send U.S. combat troops? The answer may lie in the legal alchemy known as "Title 50."

      Title 50 of the U.S. Code regulates the activities of the Central Intelligence Agency. An often-cited passage is section 413b, which deals with presidential approval and reporting of "covert actions." In essence, this statute gives the president authority, with a proper "finding," to send U.S. special forces on paramilitary operations, under command of the CIA. The best-known example was the 2011 raid on Abbottabad, Pakistan, that killed Osama bin Laden.

      Talking with U.S. and foreign military experts over the past week, I've heard two consistent themes: First, the campaign against the Islamic State will require close-in American training and assistance for ground forces, in addition to U.S. air power; and, second, the best way to provide this assistance may be under the command of the Ground Branch of the CIA's Special Activities Division, which traditionally oversees such paramilitary operations.


    • Focus: Wining Hearts
      The U.S. is trying to win a war for the hearts and minds of Africa.


    • Prelude to war
      The old trick, a trial balloon, while POTUS sits pretty and has deniability. The important thing, build war sentiment, feed the public a steady diet of war propaganda. It is working.


    • Fighting ISIS and the Morning After
      Driven by ideological hubris, the Bush administration on the eve of the Iraq war rejected any suggestions that the war could destabilize the whole region and rock the foundations of the Arab nation-state system.
    • Fox Leaves Out Important Context Of Leon Panetta's Statement On Iraq Troop Withdrawal
      Fox News' Special Report left out necessary context when previewing former Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta's upcoming interview with 60 Minutes in which he stated, "it was important for us to maintain a presence in Iraq."

      During his September 19 coverage of Panetta's statement, host Bret Baier depicted Panetta's account of the 2011 withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq as the latest in "a very public back-and-forth between the White House and the Pentagon." Baier added, "Now this weekend, 60 Minutes has an interview with former CIA director and former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, in which he will say the U.S. should not have pulled out all of its troops out of Iraq in 2011"...
    • Obama signs bill to train, arm Syrian rebels
      President Barack Obama has signed into law a bill authorizing the military to arm and train Syrian rebels fighting the Islamic State group.

      Obama signed the bill Friday in the Oval Office. The Senate gave its final approval Thursday, a day after the legislation drew strong bipartisan support in the House.


    • Risky bet on Syrian rebels
      President Obama’s new strategy for routing ISIS, the extremist Sunni group that controls large areas of Iraq and Syria, rests substantially and precariously on having rebels in Syria fight ISIS, even as they battle the forces of the Syrian president, Bashar Assad. The plan is full of hope and fraught with obstacles.


    • House Poised To Vote On Arming, Training Syrian Rebels


    • After A Long Wait, Syrian Rebels Hope The Weapons Will Now Flow
      President Obama has long been reluctant to provide substantial aid to Syria's so-called moderate rebels, often dismissed as weak and disorganized. But the rapid rise of the group that calls itself the Islamic State has changed many calculations.

      The CIA has been running a small-scale covert weapons program since early this year, according to rebels who have been trained and are now receiving arms shipments. The modest program has strengthened moderate battalions, according to Western and regional analysts, even as rebel commanders complain about the meager arms flow.


    • Why Everyone in Iraq Believes Islamic State is a CIA Invention?
      Even as the United States, post initial hiccups, enters into an all-out war to destroy Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, many Iraqi still believe in the conspiracy theory that ISIS is a CIA invention.


    • Assad Calls to Stop Funding Armed Groups in Syria, Iraq
      The fight against terrorism must begin by placing more pressure on those countries which are supporting and financing insurgents in Syria and Iraq, Syrian President Bashar Assad said while speaking with an Iraqi security official in Damascus.


    • West to blame for rise of Islamic State, says UK spy chief ["chaos in Syria that opened the door"]
    • US Senate Approves $500 Million To Arm Syrian Militants
      Lawmakers back president's plan to expand new war in the Middle East.
    • Paul Slams Obama's Plan To Arm Syria Rebels In Senate Floor Speech


    • ISIS Crisis, Inc.
      The Guardian, as I did, had a certain amount of difficulty coming up with the suitable nomenclature for this force. I don’t think “proxy army” cuts it, because I expect this army, though composed of Syrians and not a US military unit, will be under the day to day command of the CIA and it will not be allowed to slip the leash and pursue its own political, strategic, and tactical agendas as happened with the feckless Free Syrian Army.


    • After 47 years, the US is still pretending Israel doesn't have nuclear weapons
      Former CIA director Robert Gates said so during his 2006 Senate confirmation hearings for secretary of defense, when he noted — while serving as a university president — that Iran is surrounded by “powers with nuclear weapons,” including “the Israelis to the west.” Former president Jimmy Carter said so in 2008 and again this year, in interviews and speeches in which he pegged the number of Israel’s nuclear warheads at 150 to around 300.
    • Perpetual Fear under Empire
      Think about all the official enemies that have scared the dickens out of the American people since the advent of the national-security state.


    • ‘US, UK disgusted only when their enemies chop people’s heads off’


    • What Washington doesn’t know
      It’s dangerous to demonize a country. Washington can repeat its painful and costly mistakes from Iraq.




  • Transparency Reporting



    • What's next for WikiLeaks?
      Anti-government secrecy organisation struggling for relevance without Julian Assange at the helm.


    • WikiLeaks releases copies of FinFisher ‘malware’


    • Wikileaks releases FinFisher files to highlight government malware abuse
      Germany has been criticised by the whistleblowing site for failing to block a ‘weaponised malware’ dealer selling to regimes with poor human rights records
    • WikiLeaks reveals Nigeria and SA’s huge spend on ‘weaponised surveillance malware’


    • Wikileaks: Singapore firm with government ties bought cyber snooping software
      On September 15, Wikileaks released copies of invoices and support tickets from Germany-based software company FinFisher. This revealed the names of most of their clients, and how much they’ve paid for their technology. If you’re wondering why they deserve this, you should know that this particular firm deals in weaponized surveillance malware that reportedly includes the following:
    • WikiLeaks releases weaponised malware as government test
      Whistleblowing organisation hits out at German government for not blocking developers from downloading the software
    • WikiLeaks posts the software governments use to spy on dissidents
      WikiLeaks' all-or-nothing approach to revealing shady government activity just took a new (if decidedly risky) turn. Julian Assange and crew have posted FinFisher and FinSpy PC, the intrusion software that Australia, Italy, Pakistan and other countries use to break into and spy on people's devices, no matter what platform they're running. The leak site hopes that privacy-minded developers will use the code to improve security and prevent governments from easily cracking down on dissidents; it also puts pressure on Germany to clamp down on FinFisher and live up to its anti-surveillance principles. The strategy may pay off, although there is a worry that unscrupulous downloaders may use the code for more sinister purposes, such as keylogging or webcam monitoring. Let's hope the tools don't fall into the wrong hands.


    • WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange May have Saved Bitcoin


    • Assange: Bitcoin and WikiLeaks Helped Keep Each Other Alive


    • Julian Assange lawyers lodge appeal against Swedish ruling


    • Julian Assange lodges appeal against Swedish arrest warrant


    • Lawyers For Julian Assange Appeal Swedish Court Decision


    • Assange Appeals Swedish Court Decision to Uphold Arrest Warrant: Reports


    • Fighting for Which Future? When Google Met Wikileaks
      Finally, the fourth struggle rages over transparency. Tim Berners-Lee, one of the founding fathers of the World Wide Web, open code developers, and multiple forces in civil society and business sectors all have been working on making information more open and publicly accessible. For some, information openness has become a means to an end. The boundaries of openness have become a critical issue in the struggle for shaping the image of cyberspace and society in general. What are the checks and balances involved? Is the revealing of sensitive information at a security cost justifiable solely based on the freedom of information principle? Does blowing the whistle on systematic surveillance and tracking of civilians and users justify any means? And if limits are drawn, who should determine the boundaries? Information can be open, but its flows will certainly not be equal.


    • WikiLeaks cables show how US lost Ecuador
      Cables sent from the US Embassy in Quito during Rafael Correa’s first three years as president document rising tensions between Ecuador and the US.

      Correa’s government, first elected in 2006, increasingly rejected US hegemony and asserted control over Ecuador’s economic and political development.

      The cables highlight the embassy’s preoccupation with Ecuador’s “difficult investment climate”, with many reports attempting to assess and predict Correa’s economic policies.

      The embassy worried the Correa government would exclude the private sector from decision-making, and implement economic policies that would negatively affect US and other foreign investors in Ecuador.

      To encourage Correa to “follow responsible and sustainable macroeconomic policies”, the embassy reported in December 2006 that it would ramp up “efforts to explain to the broader public the need to improve competitiveness and take advantage of globalization”.


    • Ecuador: WikiLeaks cables show how US used 'democracy promotion' to push corporate interests
      Ecuador's pro-US neoliberal president Lucio Gutierrez was ousted in 2005. Since then, relations between Ecuador and the United States have deteriorated, with the Andean nation’s increasing rejection of US hegemony.
    • Ecuador: WikiLeaks exposes how US sought to stop democratic process
      Despite the US’s failure to undermine Correa’s candidacy, as shown by diplomatic cables published by WIkiLeaks, further US cables suggest the US Embassy in Quito believed it could hold sway over the new government.
    • WikiLeaks' Quito cables show how US worked against Correa
      In the months leading up to Ecuador’s October 2006 presidential election, the US Embassy in Quito claimed to be impartial.

      Rather than supporting one particular candidate, then-US ambassador Linda Jewell said the embassy only wanted to help facilitate “a fair and transparent electoral process”.

      However, diplomatic cables published by WikiLeaks show that behind the rhetoric of “democracy promotion”, the embassy sought to stop the election of “dark horse populist, anti-American candidate Rafael Correa”.






  • Finance



    • Financial Criminals Have Been Fined Billions, but They Rarely Pay
      On a plane earlier this week, I watched The Wolf of Wall Street. The film’s outsized antics—public masturbation, the tossing of little people, lots and lots of Quaaludes—seemed too big for a seatback screen, or, for that matter, reality. As despicable as some of Jordan Belfort’s behavior was, I was able to occasionally laugh at Leonardo DiCaprio's version of him knowing that, by now, more than 10 years after his real-life sentencing, Belfort has been sufficiently punished.

      But in fact, that’s hardly the case: After pleading guilty to fraud and money laundering, Belfort was ordered in 2003 to pay out about $110 million to those he wronged. Since then, he’s only paid $11.8 million. He was also sentenced to four years in federal prison, but he only ended up serving just shy of two years.


    • Luxury brands in a quandary as China's wealthy young develop resistance to bling
      Gucci and Prada's financial results are disappointing and there's a fear that the west can't provide what sophisticated Chinese shoppers want




  • PR/AstroTurf/Lobbying



    • Ex-Gov. convicted
      In this Thursday Sept. 18, 2014 photo, former Connecticut Gov. John G. Rowland arrives at federal court in New Haven, Conn. A jury convicted Rowland Friday, Sept. 19, 2014 on all charges that he conspired to be paid for work on two political campaigns while disguising those payments in business deals. It is the second felony conviction for Rowland, who resigned as governor a decade ago in a scandal over illegal gifts he received while in office. (AP Photo/Jessica Hill)




  • Censorship



    • Fight censorship – read a banned book
      Banned Books Week begins tomorrow and runs through Sunday, bringing focus to the censorship of books throughout America. The event began in 1982 in response to a sudden surge in the number of challenges to books in schools, bookstores and libraries. You might remember in the 1984 film, "Footloose," a group of citizens burning books in front of the library.

      [...]

      Banned Books Week is sponsored by the American Library Association, the American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression, the American Society of Journalists and Authors, the Association of American Publishers, the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, the National Association of College Stores, the National Coalition Against Censorship, the National Council of Teachers of English, PEN American Center and Project Censored.


    • Book review: ‘Censors at Work: How States Shaped Literature,’ by Robert Darnton
      In this provocative study of censorship as it was practiced in three different places at three different times, the distinguished scholar Robert Darnton argues that it can be a considerably subtler and more nuanced undertaking than it is generally assumed to be. He has not written a defense of censorship — far from it — but he emphasizes that when the state sets itself up as arbiter of what goes into books and what does not, the results are not always predictable, but are sometimes surprising and even — occasionally — beneficial to authors and their publishers.


    • The Soul of the Censor
      If the concept of censorship is extended to everything, it means nothing. It should not be trivialized. Although I would agree that power is exerted in many ways, I think it crucial to distinguish between the kind of power that is monopolized by the state (or other constituted authorities such as religious organizations in some cases) and power that exists everywhere else in society. Censorship as I understand it is essentially political; it is wielded by the state.




  • Privacy



  • Civil Rights



  • Internet/Net Neutrality



  • Intellectual Monopolies



    • Copyrights and NZ



      • NZ First secures 'wonderful' result
        Mr Peters also suggested NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden and US journalist Glenn Greenwald are "thoroughly credible witnesses" in recent mass spying allegations.


      • [Washington Post attacks Dotcom et al.] Snowden fatigue is spreading abroad
        If you think Edward Snowden and Glenn Greenwald have stopped attacking NSA, you haven’t been following them closely enough. While American media have largely lost interest in Snowden and Greenwald, the pair continue to campaign outside the United States against the intelligence agency.


      • [Another example] Kim Dotcom falls short in New Zealand elections
        The opposition Labor Party received just under 25 percent of the vote, its lowest vote total since taking 24 percent in 1922. The left-leaning Green Party took 10 percent, with the populist anti-immigration New Zealand First Party taking 9 percent. The results were disappointing for Labor and the Green Party, Jennifer Curtin, an assistant professor of politics and international relations at the University of Auckland, said in an e-mail. Both parties had expected better results.


      • Dotcom’s Internet Party Fails to Enter New Zealand Parliament


        Kim Dotcom's Internet Party has scored just over 1.2% of the vote in New Zealand's parliamentary elections. It's a disappointing result that doesn't come close to the 5% required for a seat in Parliament. Dotcom takes full responsibility for the failure which he attributes to his "poisoned brand."


      • Harre mum on Internet Party's future
        Internet Party leader Laila Harre will not say if she will stay on with the political movement after it failed to win a seat in parliament.


      • Road ends for Internet-Mana
        Dotcom spent big on the party, ploughing just shy of $4 million into a political marriage of convenience.


      • Kim Dotcom's Internet Party bombs out of New Zealand election








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