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Links 11/12/2014: Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7.1 Beta, Firefox 35 Plans

GNOME bluefish



  • How Linux Works Is an OS Mechanic's Mainstay

  • Linux Ruled 2014, Codenames, and Steam Linux Sales
    There were lots of interesting tidbits in today's Linux feeds. Silviu Stahie wonders if Linux's advancements in 2014 were enough to finally declare it the "year of Linux." Elsewhere, Larry Cafiero laments Fedora's decision to forgo codenames and Kevin Fenzi explains what happened to Fedora servers yesterday after release. Jack M. Germain reviews How Linux Works: What Every Superuser Should Know and GOL explains how Steam computes Linux sales.

  • Joyent Offers Linux Branded Zones, Extends Docker Engine as Container Service
    Joyent, Inc., which has billed itself in several different ways over the years is now billing itself as "the container infrastructure company." The company is actually making a lot of smart moves. In November I reported on how Joyent has announced that it is open sourcing its core technology. Joyent's platform can compete with OpenStack and other cloud offerings, and facilitates efficienet use of container technologies like Docker.

  • About Linux Weekly News - 8th December 2014

  • Users Want Windows 10 Features That Are Already Available in Linux Systems
    Windows 10 brought some new features for its fans, but it's still under development. Its users already have a list of features they would like implemented, but it's funny to see how most of those features are already present in Linux installations.

  • Desktop

    • Was 2014 "The Year of Linux Desktop"?
      Linux has seen a lot of changes during 2014 and many users are saying that this was finally the year that really showed some real progress, but has it been enough to call it "the year of Linux desktop"?

    • Linux Mint 17.1 and the question of the "best" Linux desktop
    • Is Linux Mint 17.1 really the best desktop of 2014?
      Wow, that’s some high praise there for Linux Mint 17.1. I agree that the Linux Mint developers did a great job on it, but I’m not sure I’d call it the best available desktop today for the simple reason that no matter how good a distribution or desktop is, there are bound to be people out there who need something different. Linux Mint is a fine choice for many or even most desktop Linux users, but it’s not right for everybody.

      I’m not even sure there is a “best desktop” since the whole notion is so extremely subjective. I suppose you could say that there’s a “most popular” desktop if there is a huge majority of people using it that dwarfs all other desktops. But “best” implies that it is better than everything else and, as much as I like Linux Mint, I cannot say that it’s better than every other distribution or that Cinnamon or MATE beat out every other desktop environment.

      I suppose it’s the old “beauty is in the eye of the beholder” thing. If Linux Mint 17.1 meets all of your needs, and you can use Cinnamon or MATE then it may very well be the best desktop distribution for you. But there are far too many different Linux users to generalize and give it the crown of best desktop of 2014, particularly given all the other choices out there.

    • My Favorite Linux Applications and Desktops
      My main desktop remains KDE, although Cinammon, GNOME, Mate, and LXDE are also ready to run. However, my main environment remains KDE because of the work tools it provides, such as a multi-item clipboard, and the ability to group the applications I'm working with into a single tabbed window.

  • Server

    • Trusty Old Router

      In the past years, the device has been running OpenWRT, which is a really nice and very powerful little Linux distribution specifically for this kind of routers.

    • Parallels adopts Docker in next Cloud Server release
      Long, long before Docker made containers the cool server application virtualization tool, Parallels was making container technology work for enterprises with the commercial Virtiozzo and the open-source OpenVZ project. Now Parallels will be adding native support for Docker as well to the next version of its Parallels Cloud Server.

  • Kernel Space

    • OpenDaylight Member Spotlight: Intel
      Intel was a founding member of the OpenDaylight Project and recently increased its membership to Platinum, the highest tier. We had a conversation with Uri Elzur, Intel’s director of SDN architecture, to understand what drove the company’s decision and what we can expect to see from them in 2015 and beyond.

    • VirtIO & Xen Changes For Linux 3.19 Kernel
      The VirtIO changes for Linux 3.19 include infrastructure changes for providing VirtIO 1.0 support. There's also bug-fixes and other improvements with the VirtIO code for Linux 3.19. The VirtIO changes for Linux 3.19 can be found via this pull request.

    • EXT4 In Linux 3.19 Brings Lots Of Bug Fixes
      Ted Ts'o has sent in the EXT4 file-system changes for the Linux 3.19 kernel merge window.

      EXT4 changes for Linux 3.19 include "lots of bug fixes", including changes that should improve CPU utilization and potential soft lock-ups when under heavy memory pressure. There's also a random assortment of other changes with just around 500 lines of EXT4 file-system code being touched by 26 changes for this merge window.

    • Linux Foundation IoT standardisation effort AllSeen Alliance grows to more than 100 companies
      For those wo are not following IoT news all the time: you may have lost the foundation of this interesting alliance project that aims at fostering interoperability of IoT.

      This project is led and started by Linux Foundation and this is a great guarantee of openness and real community driven innovation. We all look forward to see where AllSeen will lead!

    • Many Sound Updates Queued For Linux 3.19 Kernel
      Takashi Iwai classifies the sound updates for Linux 3.19 as a fairly large pull request. There's ASoC improvements, new USB audio support improvements, a new OXFW Firewire audio driver for the FW970/971 chipset, support for new Intel x86 SoCs, and various other changes. The new Intel SoC support work is for some Cherry Trail and Braswell hardware.

    • Graphics Stack

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

      • Interview with Sylvia Ritter
        A friend mentioned Krita in 2010, claiming that it was the best open source alternative to Photoshop. Had to try it and never stopped working with it. On a sidenode I’ve never worked with commercial art software before, but I’m not eager to either.

      • GCompris Joins the KDE incubator and Launches a Fundraiser
        GCompris has joined the KDE incubator. GCompris is the high quality educational software suite comprising numerous activities for children aged 2 to 10, and well known by parents and teachers all over the world.

        GCompris was started in 2000 by Bruno Coudoin as a Free Software project. Originally written in GTK+, the project developers decided in early 2014 to make a radical change and rewrite it in Qt Quick. The main motivation is the ability of the Qt platform to address the desktop and the tablet market from a single code base.

      • digiKam: Season of KDE Update
        To put it briefly, the gradient of the image patch gives us the differences in pixels. We then decompose the covariance matrix to get eigen values whose values represent the strength of the image patch. Specifically, the larger the maximum eigen value, the richer the texture is, in the dominant direction.

        I came across an OpenCV function which handles all of this and returns the eigen values (and vectors).

  • Distributions

    • Create a live system ISO for your Ubuntu-based Linux machines using Systemback
      You have that Linux desktop or server precisely how you want it and are interested in either creating a spot-on backup or a live ISO that you can then install on other (similar) hardware. How do you do it? You could go through the process of learning a number of commands to take care of the process, or you could install and use a handy tool called Systemback.

    • Reviews

      • An Everyday Linux User Review Of Puppy Linux Tahr 6.0 CE
        Puppy Linux continues to be a tremendous distribution. The performance is incredible and the amount of quality applications that are provided in such a small download is breathtaking.

        The default applications won't appeal to everyone and they are built for functionality over style but the Quickpet application makes it possible to install old favourites like LibreOffice and GIMP.

        It would be good if Puppy could get around booting on UEFI based machines but modern machines probably aren't the target market at the moment.

        I would definitely recommend Puppy Linux for netbooks, older laptops and for computers that have no hard drives. It proves once and for all that you can teach an old dog (of a computer) new tricks.

    • New Releases

    • Gentoo Family

    • Arch Family

    • Slackware Family

      • New chromium and chromium-dev packages
        For the curious among you, I have additionally refreshed my chromium-dev packages. Chromium-dev is the development release of the browser (there’s also a “beta” channel but I don’t care about that too much). By play-testing the development release from time to time, I am prepared and do not get nasty surprises when the stable channel jumps to a higher major release (the jump from 38 to 39 was quite intrusive in terms of SlackBuild script).

    • Red Hat Family

      • Red Hat secure, open source solutions

      • Red Hat secure, open source solutions overview
        For agencies and programs across government, open source solutions from Red Hat are delivering security as good as or better than proprietary solutions.

      • Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7.1 Beta Now Available
        In June, we announced the general availability of Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7, effectively raising the bar for enterprise IT infrastructure and pushing the operating system into the role of being a critical infrastructure platform for the enterprise. Featuring a broad spectrum of significant new features and enhancements, Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7 is designed to not only meet the demands of today’s modern datacenter but to tackle the next-generation IT requirements of tomorrow. From accelerating application delivery through containerization – to laying a stable foundation for the open hybrid cloud – Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7 continues to redefine the enterprise operating system.

      • Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7.1 Now In Beta

      • Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7.1 Enters Public Beta
        RHEL 7.1 is now available in beta. Improved security is a key focus in the new beta of Red Hat's flagship Linux platform.

      • Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) 7.1 Beta available now!
        Fans of Linux-based operating systems have been experiencing a deluge of quality releases in the last quarter of 2014 -- Ubuntu, Mint and Fedora to name a few. While I still think there are too many distros nowadays, the lesser-quality releases can be tuned-out as noise.

      • Fedora

        • Fedora Infrastructure release day retrospective
          Here’s what happened: For the last few weeks we had been seeing sporadic slowdowns in the bodhi application, but had been unable to isolate what was causing them. This last week was the Fedora Infrastructure Mirrormanager 2 / Ansible FAD, and there we added some more debugging in, but still couldn’t see where the problem was. It wasn’t in bodhi itself, but somewhere in it’s integration with the authentication system and getting to that via proxy01 (our main datacenter proxy). Proxy01 seemed busier than usual, but it gets a lot of traffic anyhow. We bumped memory up on it to make sure it could better cope with release day.

        • ​Say hi to Linux's future: Fedora 21 is here
          I've only started playing with Fedora so I don't have a firm opinion about it yet. I will say that while the Desktop, with its default GNOME 3.15.2 interface, works well, I still don't care for GNOME. Fortunately, Fedora comes with a wide variety of "spins," so you can run with KDE, Xfce, LXDE, or, my own favorite of the official Fedora variations, MATE.

    • Debian Family

      • Derivatives

        • Canonical/Ubuntu

          • The truth about the thick skin of a community manager
            What drove the creation of that book was partially inspired from my experience in the Ubuntu community. There is no doubt about that. The reason why I wrote that book is because I have seen people contribute things of value to the world, and then they get frustrated because they see this negative input and feedback, and it is awful because these are good people trying to do good things and are treated like shit.

          • Ubuntu Core Linux Gets 'Snappy' for Docker Container Security
            A new approach for enabling a highly secured and optimized host for container deployment enters public beta. Canonical, the lead commercial sponsor behind the Ubuntu Linux distribution, is building new tools to make updating cloud container applications "snappier."

          • Canonical Unveils ‘Snappy’ Ubuntu Core

          • Canonical makes Ubuntu more snappy with Docker

          • Ubuntu 15.04 Is Now Using Kernel 3.18. The First Alpha Version Will Be Released Next Week.
            Recently, Canonical has announced that Ubuntu 15.04 has switched to Kernel 3.18, which is the newest stable Kernel available.

          • Ubuntu Core slimmed down for cloud, frameworks sold separately
            Canonical has launched Ubunto Core, a slimmed-down, re-architected version of the Ubuntu operating system the company claims will bring some pretty significant benefits to cloud users of the popular Linux OS.

          • Flavours and Variants

            • Xubuntu 14.10 Utopic Unicorn - Quite brilliant
              Time to try another Ubuntu derivative. Xubuntu has been kind of a second league player for many years, but then it suddenly got awesome, and it grew on me like fungus only in a good way, and it's been getting better and better and slicker all the time. For real.

              Trusty was truly excellent. But now we need to make sure there's no regression, the kind of like what happened with Unicorn in its official flavor. Remember, Xfce has become a beautiful and highly viable alternative to most other desktops out there. So let's commence the testing, shall we.

  • Devices/Embedded

    • Hackable Roomba integrates Raspberry Pi
      iRobot’s hackable $200 “Create 2″ version of its Roomba robot for STEM education can be programmed with a laptop, or via an onboard Arduino or Raspberry Pi.

      iRobot’s Roomba was the first — and still one of the few — major successes in consumer robots. Unlike more advanced iRobot designs, such as the Linux-based Ava 500 telepresence robot, the modest, vacuuming Roomba runs on a simple Motorola HC12 microcontroller. Now, iRobot has released a $200, non-vacuuming hacker version of the Roomba 600 called the Create 2 designed for K12 and college-level STEM education.

    • Phones

Free Software/Open Source

  • Why your organisation will thank you for going open source
    With all the information available on the internet and on websites like FutureGov, it’s no longer difficult to know the merits of open source and how other government agencies have been benefiting from it. The bigger challenge would be how to convince your finance department to believe in these merits enough that they would reallocate their budget to back it.

  • VMware is nuts for clusters (and containers)
    VMware has announced a batch of integrations with a number of technology entities as it strives to create a common platform for building and operating applications at scale.

  • TYPO3 Updates Open Source Web CMS Neos
    Open source web content management (WCM) provider TYPO3 released a new version of Neos that officials there say improves the user experience for digital marketers in a "smoother" and more "time-saving" way.

  • Five open source PaaS options you should know
    An open source Platform as a Service (PaaS) allows developers and users to contribute and share source code and extensions. The PaaS is either vendor-driven or standard-based.

    A vendor-driven open source PaaS locks the developers and users to a vendor. The developers have limited controls over transferring applications from a vendor-driven open source platform to another one.

    The standard-based open platform is vendor-agnostic and is more flexible; it aims to standardize the orchestration of automatic processes of life cycle management. Developers can transfer applications across the cloud.

  • UPDATE: XRDPConfigurator Is Now Open Source!
    I have just released XRDPConfigurator – a GUI application to configure your Xrdp server – as Open Source, under the Apache License version 2.0.

    I had originally intended for it to be a commercial product whereby a user would have to purchase a license in order to use it.

  • SOS Open Source is Now Open Source!
    We are glad to inform you that the European funded initiative PROSE eventually enhanced the SOS Open Source methodology, re-engineering the tools and making them available to the general public as open source. Now everyone can run an educated open source software procurement process by using SOS Open Source tools and methodology.

  • ARTIST Open Source Software Release
    If you belong to an open source community or are a passionate developer check out our ARTIST OS package to test it now! Our source code is available for modification or enhancement by anyone.

  • Intel and SwiftKey Update, Will Open Source, Stephen Hawking’s Speech Program

  • OPNFV Adds New Members to Open Source SDN/NFV Project
    The Linux Foundation has announced that four new industry partners—Array Networks, Midokura, Ooredoo and Sonus Networks—are backing OPNFV, the open source software-defined networking (SDN) and network functions virtualization (NFV) platform.

  • Events

    • Open Hardware Summit 2014 – Rome #OSHW

    • Web Engines Hackfest 2014
      During the last days I attended the Web Engines Hackfest 2014 in A Coruña, which was kindly hosted by Igalia in their office. This gave me some time to work again on WebKit, and especially improve and clean up its GStreamer media backend, and even more important of course an opportunity to meet again all the great people working on it.

  • Web Browsers

  • SaaS/Big Data

    • What OpenStack women are saying about the community
      It's a problem that the tech industry struggles with in general, and OpenStack is no different: How do we create an environment that is open, inviting, and friendly to women, and how do we get more women involved?

    • Landing In The Cloud – The Open Source Arena
      Open source by its very nature is more free-flowing and open to others, making it that much more affordable, especially when it’s free. Since open source software usually isn’t a product made by a large corporation or eager upstart, the cost to use it is usually quite low. That means a low barrier of entry for businesses to adopt it for their operations. The low monetary barrier makes it so small businesses with limited budgets that might have shied away from more expensive cloud solutions before can actually use the technology and embrace the benefits that come with it.

    • OpenStack Leverages Its Higher Profile To Lead Open Source Cloud Survey
      There’s a strange situation within the open source cloud sector. CloudStack, the initiative that is now supported from within Citrix has a far longer history, and more early customer success than OpenStack. However OpenStack, with its huge following by large vendors (including Rackspace, HP, IBM and Oracle ) has taken the lion’s share of attention.

    • Big Data Source Code: Getting Better All The Time

  • Databases

    • MongoDB gets its first native analytics tool
      Most companies realize they need to become more data driven in order to make better decisions and identify new opportunities. Many also recognize the need for new tools to analyze their data, much of it stored in operational systems.

      At the same time, for their operational systems, a growing number of companies have adopted NoSQL databases, the most popular of which is the document database MongoDB. Unfortunately, document databases are nobody’s first choice for analytics, so people end up using ETL to move data from MongoDB to an RDBMS or Hadoop for analysis. ETL processing adds latency, however -- perhaps too much latency if you want your business to be "data driven."

    • How do you solve a web-scale deployment problem with MariaDB?
      MariaDB Corporation (the artist formerly known as SkySQL) is polishing up its open source database products this month.

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice

  • Business

    • Zimbra releases new report highlighting greater trust in open source among IT professionals than proprietary software
      The report findings confirm a changing perception of open source, to a platform for the development of quality software that enhances privacy and security. Findings from the survey, which was conducted in 18 countries across Europe, the Middle East and Africa as well as the United States, show that 66% of EMEA respondents agreed that commercial backing and code transparency reduces applications' privacy risks, and 67% agree these improve application security.

    • 6 of the Best Open Source Holiday Gifts for SMBs
      'Tis the season to look beyond the usual humdrum small business gear and give your favorite small business owner something new and unusual. In this roundup we'll look at a little flying and rolling camera drone, a mobile library and Webserver, a new-generation 3D printer, a clever customizable key organizer that you can print with the 3D printer, a cutting-edge programmable LED flashlight, and an Android smartwatch.

      Some of these picks should be useful for your small business, and they all make superior gifts for employees and customers. Forget the Christmas hams—give cool gadgets instead.

  • Funding

    • Hachicorp Raises $10M to Advance Open Source DevOps Vision
      HashiCorp today announced that it has secured a $10 million Series A round of funding. The company will use the money to continue to evolve its application development and deployment technology, including the development of a new commercial service known as Atlas.


  • Openness/Sharing

    • Build and Share Your Own 3D Printer with Open-Sourced ‘Bolt’ by Edu3d.Org
      It’s often the case that we set out to inspire our kids, teach them, and encourage them to do things in the world, but when we give them the tools to work independently, they end up turning the tables and inspiring the older generations with new ideas that can be very surprising, and even startling with innovation and relevance. Kids’ brains are still new, much more open, and not yet quite so worried about what an academic or peer set will think of a ‘crazy new idea’ for something that just might work — or change the world altogether.

    • Open Hardware

      • Open Source Hardware Companies Blend Altruism With Bottom Line
        It's very easy for open source users around the world to collaboratively share data and files to modify software. Everyday examples include products like Mozilla Firefox and Chromium which allow users to modify, study, deconstruct and even distribute the programs in a collaborative way with no worry of patent or warranty infringement.

  • Programming

    • Go 1.4 is released
      Today we announce Go 1.4, the fifth major stable release of Go, arriving six months after our previous major release Go 1.3. It contains a small language change, support for more operating systems and processor architectures, and improvements to the tool chain and libraries. As always, Go 1.4 keeps the promise of compatibility, and almost everything will continue to compile and run without change when moved to 1.4. For the full details, see the Go 1.4 release notes.

    • Google's Go 1.4 Officially Released

  • Standards/Consortia

    • Cabinet office Plugfest builds momentum for ODF
      On Monday and Tuesday, 8th-9th December, a group of technologists, SMEs, corporations, individuals, and representatives of Governments gathered in Bloomsbury, London over two days to collectively improve the implementation of Open Document Format (ODF).


  • Security

    • Linux Turla Malware Infection? Not Going to Happen.
      This code simply isn't in any Linux repository.

      That means one must intentionally deviate and go outside of the keyring-protected repo of applications 'into the wild' to obtain this rogue software.

      By definition, a trojan, requires one to install the application and then explicitly run it to have its 'payload' execute.

    • Multiple X.Org Vulnerabilities Found, One Is from 1987
      One of the most important features of the open source development community is its ability to self-correct, even if it takes a very long time. A number of issues in X servers have been corrected recently, and some of them were actually very old. The record holder is a bug introduced back in 1987.

    • Security updates for Thursday

  • Defence/Police/Secrecy/Aggression

    • Another Perspective on the US, China, and Containment
      Writing on the occasion of President Obama’s November 2014 trip to Beijing for the Asian Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit, John V. Walsh asks whether China might contain the United States. Walsh inverts the conventional question—Can the U.S. contain China?—and observes that, as far as East Asia is concerned, “History tells us that the West with its missionaries and soldiers, Obama’s predecessors, bathed the region in suffering and bloodshed.” In that expanded context, Walsh considers whether China might “restrain the U.S. from doing more damage in East Asia” and elsewhere in the developing world. Due to its economic and military powers, Walsh writes, “China should be able to provide to the world alternatives to the diktats of the West.”

    • U.S. Troops Out, Private Contractors Stay in Afghanistan
      In May 2014, President Obama announced a plan to keep at least 9,800 U.S. troops in Afghanistan until 2016. He neglected to inform the country about the massive army of private contractors that will also remain deployed in Afghanistan. A PowerPoint document obtained by Salon from Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC), one of the country’s biggest military and intelligence contractors, spells out the contractor’s ongoing role in Afghanistan, which dates back to 2009. The document also shows the company’s $400 million contract with the U.S. Army Research Laboratory, which is on a five-year plan.

    • Top Gun Violence Researchers Criticize Pew's "Outlier" Gun Rights Survey Result
      Media outlets are heavily touting a poll from Pew Research Center supposedly showing "growing public support for gun rights," but Pew's polling question is flawed because it presents a false choice between regulating gun ownership and protecting gun rights. In response to the Pew poll, a prominent gun violence researcher said, "I could not think of a worse way to ask questions about public opinions about gun policies."


      According to experts, the question is flawed because respondents have to pick between support for gun regulation or gun rights, as if those premises were mutually exclusive.

    • US drone strikes kill 13 alleged militants in Pakistan and Afghanistan
      A suspected US drone strike on a Pakistani Taliban compound in North Waziristan tribal region killed at least four alleged militants on Sunday, officials said.

    • US drones kill 13 'militants'
      A suspected US drone strike on a Pakistani Taliban compound in North Waziristan tribal region killed at least four alleged militants on Sunday, reports The Guardian quoting officials.


      The officials said Pakistani Taliban linked to commander Hafiz Gul Bahadur used the compound, but it wasn’t immediately known whether Bahadur was there at the time of the strike.

    • Scarborough: I Can’t Wait for the Report on Obama’s Drone Strikes
      Morning Joe host Joe Scarborough diverted a discussion about the CIA torture report with drones on Tuesday, took a day off, then reprised his act Thursday, simultaneously dismissing the Senate Intelligence Report on the CIA’s terror funplex enhanced interrogation techniques while salivating for the details of some future report on President Barack Obama’s drone program.

    • Torture "Architect" Mistaken in Claim Nobody's Punished for Drone Murders
      A psychologist who played a key role in a U.S. torture program said on a video yesterday that torture was excusable because blowing up families with a drone is worse (and nobody's punished for that). Well, of course the existence of something worse is no excuse for torture. And he's wrong that no one is punished for drone murders. The protesters are. Latest example:

    • Drone operator made long-distance war from close to home

    • LETTER: People that are retired still contribute to society in Derbyshire
      I object to my taxes being used to buy bombs and drones to kill Afghan, Iraqi and Syrian children, and for adventures in Afghanistan and Libya and subsidising bankers who’ve robbed us but still get their bonuses, and life long silver spoons for royal offspring, but as a taxpaying pensioner I don’t get the chance to opt out.

    • Planet Politics: America's Bloody Conscience
      America can be a brutal superpower, especially when -- as rarely happens -- it is attacked. Yet it likes to think of itself as a country with more lofty rules of combat and behavior than the run of imperia that have come before it.

    • America Trades Torture for Drones
      The release Tuesday of the executive summary of a report from the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, which reviews the CIA's detention and interrogation practices between 2001 and 2009, was for all its gruesome detail greeted in some official quarters as a kind of catharsis. "This," said Secretary of State John Kerry in a statement, "marks a coda to a chapter in our history"—a chapter, he went on, that is now "more than five years behind us," since President Obama ended the CIA's detention program during his first week in office. Obama, for his part, acknowledged that "some of the actions that were taken were contrary to our values" but expressed hope that "today’s report can help us leave these techniques where they belong—in the past."

    • Question use of lethal drones
      The age of innocence is long gone. We're far beyond the nonthreatening play of remote-controlled model planes, or even Cold War spying. By beginning this conversation in the religious community, we hope to take a long and hard look at the use of lethal drones and then make policy recommendations to the U.S. government. We will seek to determine what the religious community can do about lethal drones at every level: congregations, regional bodies, ecumenical and interfaith bodies, and nationwide coalitions.

    • Editorial: U.S. must defend itself, but torture is not the way
      The Senate Intelligence Committee’s torture report released Tuesday details the depths to which the Central Intelligence Agency reached in its efforts to coerce terror suspects to reveal secrets and potential plots against the United States in the wake of the 911 attacks.

      And Obama is correct: That’s not what America is.

      Indeed, the shocking report discloses what will certainly go down as a dark and hidden period in U.S. history. It gives the U.S. a black eye in the world community and our enemies ammunition for retaliation – not that they ever seem to need any reasons.

      Interrogation tactics such as waterboarding, sleep deprivation and tight confinement were authorized by the Justice Department in 2002. But, the report says, CIA tactics went beyond what was approved by former President George W. Bush. It says the CIA misled top U.S. officials and Congress about the full extent of its treatment of detainees and the effectiveness of the program. The CIA did not brief Bush with details until 2006, the report says.

      Some Republicans and current and former CIA directors say the tactics did help stop attacks here and abroad, capture terrorists and save American lives.

      But that raises the troubling question posed by the debate: Does success derived from immoral acts make those acts moral? The answer is no, which is why Americans should find them revolting. Which is why they are not who we are. Or at least not who we aspire to be.

    • For We Know Not What We Do
      While we’re on the subject of knowledge gaps, Micah Zenko of the Council of Foreign Relations notes that the CIA never measured the effectiveness of their covert programs. Take interrogation. A memorandum by the CIA dated June 27, 2013 — but only released today — responds to “the SSCI’s conclusion that the ‘CIA never conducted its own comprehensive analysis of the effectiveness of the CIA’s enhanced interrogation techniques’”.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife

  • Finance

    • Congress to Reinstate Taxpayer Subsidies for Reckless Derivatives Trading
      The New York Times called it "a textbook Washington play: use a must-pass bill, on the eve of the holidays, as a vehicle for changing unrelated policies."

      The liberal Senator from Massachusetts, Elizabeth Warren, called it "the worst of government for the rich and powerful."

      The conservative Senator from Lousiana, Dave Vitter, called it "a Christmas presents to the megabanks and Wall Street."

      Firebrand Florida Representative Alan Grayson told the Huffington Post's Zach Cater who broke the story, that it was "a good example of capitalism's death wish."

    • Democrats Revolt Against 'Wall Street Giveaway' In Deal To Prevent Government Shutdown
      Democrats on Wednesday raged against a government funding bill that would provide taxpayer subsidies to risky Wall Street derivatives trading.

      "The House of Representatives is about to show us the worst of government for the rich and powerful," said Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) on the Senate floor. She urged her colleagues not to support a "deal negotiated behind closed doors that slips in a provision that would let derivatives traders on Wall Street gamble with taxpayer money and get bailed out by the government when their risky bets threaten to blow up our financial system."

      News of the deal, first reported by HuffPost on Monday, has prompted a bitter bicameral feud. The dispute highlights a major divide among Democrats leading up to the 2016 elections over Wall Street's role in the party platform.

  • PR/AstroTurf/Lobbying

    • Investigative Reporting = Working With Ad Partners to Monetize the Audience

    • As US media awake to a ‘nightmare’ Israel, NYT brings Blumenthal in from the cold
      We’re in the midst of a sea change in the American mainstream’s treatment of the conflict. US media are beginning to reflect the awareness that the two-state solution is over and that violence around Jerusalem and the West Bank is caused by occupation and fostered by rightwing intolerance inside Israeli political culture– the “nightmare” of greater Israel. There are countless examples of the shift. Last night on MSNBC Richard Engel said many people are angry at the US because of torture and drones, but also “because of Israel/Palestine, and Gaza.” When Israeli finance minister Naftali Bennett was confronted by Khaled Elgindy at the Brookings Institution last Saturday to explain why Palestinians are “the only group of humans in the world that do not have the right to self-determination,” the Beltway audience was evidently on Elgindy’s side. Leon (AIPAC) Wieseltier is gone from the New Republic. The New York Times is publishing Max Blumenthal. And the New Yorker‘s David Remnick is staying in East Jerusalem.


      The Times gave Max Blumenthal a platform to explain that Israel has always been rightwing...

  • Censorship

    • IFC Center Rejects MPAA's 'R' Rating On Snowden Documentary, Says It Should Be 'Essential Viewing'
      Many people still have no idea that the MPAA "rating system" for movies is a totally voluntary system. Any official system like that would be unconstitutional as a violation of the First Amendment (which is why a legal attempt to rate video games got killed by the Supreme Court). It's pretty rare for theaters to ignore MPAA ratings -- though it does very rarely happen. Back in 2012, we noted that AMC theaters defied the MPAA by letting students see the documentary Bully, even though the MPAA wanted to rate it as "R" (which restricts anyone 17 and under from seeing the film without an adult).

    • GCHQ to help tackle 'dark net' child abuse images
      Intelligence experts and organised crime specialists will join forces to tackle child abuse images on the "dark net", David Cameron has said.

    • Web Index: 4.3B People Offline Globally, 1.8B Face Internet Privacy Challenges
      Later today, Tim Berners-Lee will be making an appearance in London to talk about how well the world is doing at making the Internet accessible to everyone and a place safe from commercial and political interference, themes that have been strong for the inventor of the World Wide Web. Ahead of that, the World Wide Web Foundation — an organisation started by Berners-Lee — has released its Web Index annual report, a global pulse check on these issues over the past year.

  • Privacy

  • Civil Rights

    • President George W Bush 'knew everything' about CIA interrogation
      Former US President George W Bush was "fully informed" about CIA interrogation techniques condemned in a Senate report, his vice-president says.

    • Cheney on torture report: 'Full of crap'
      “The report’s full of crap, excuse me,” Cheney said in an interview with Fox News after calling the report a “terrible piece of work” and “deeply flawed.”

    • ABC Makes US the Victim in CIA Torture Report Story
      There's an unfortunate impulse, when you or someone you're close to does something wrong, to turn the situation around so that you can seem like the victim. That ugly human defense mechanism was on display on ABC's nightly newscast for two days running as the network previewed the release of the Senate Intelligence Committee's report on the CIA's torture program.

    • Are Rush Limbaugh And Fox News Still Laughing About Torture?
      Last spring, Palin appeared before an NRA convention crowd and laughed about how liberals supposedly coddle America's mortal adversaries. "Oh, but you can't offend them, can't make them feel uncomfortable, not even a smidgen," said Palin. "Well, if I were in charge, they would know that waterboarding is how we baptize terrorists," The NRA audience roared with approval, but even some conservative commentators who saw the tape of Palin's wisecrack took offense, upset that she had linked bodily torture with a Christian sacrament. ("It's disgusting.")


      "If you look at what we are calling torture, you have to laugh," Rush Limbaugh once announced, and claimed "if somebody can be water-tortured six times a day, then it isn't torture." At the time of the Abu Ghraib scandal, Limbaugh routinely mocked the claims of prisoner abuse, which were confirmed by horrific photographs: "Here we have these pictures of homoeroticism that look like standard good old American pornography, the Britney Spears or Madonna concerts or whatever." Limbaugh dismissed the prison torture as a "fraternity prank," suggesting "Maybe the people who executed this pulled off a brilliant maneuver. Nobody got hurt. Nobody got physically injured."

    • Right-Wing Media Evokes Controversial Rolling Stone Story To Discredit Senate Torture Report

    • Creative writing teacher resigns after student writes about Jesus, pot
      The assignment was to take a fairy tale or legend and rewrite it in modern times. One student changed the biblical story about Jesus handing out bread and fish to the poor to Jesus handing out marijuana to the sick.

    • C.I.A. First Planned Jails Abiding by U.S. Standards
      Just six days after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, President Bush signed a secret order that gave the Central Intelligence Agency the power to capture and imprison terrorists with Al Qaeda. But the order said nothing about where they should be held or how the agency should go about the business of questioning them.

      For the next few weeks, as the rubble at ground zero smoldered and the United States launched a military operation in Afghanistan, C.I.A. officials scrambled to fill in the blanks left by the president’s order. Initially, agency officials considered a path very different from the one they ultimately followed, according to the newly released Senate Intelligence Committee report on the C.I.A.’s harsh interrogation program.
    • Dick Cheney Says CIA Torture Report Is 'Full Of Crap' -- Then Admits He Hasn't Read It
      It's no secret that those most closely responsible for the CIA's torture program are pulling out all the stops to attack the Senate Intelligence Committee's report on the program, trying out a variety of defenses from "it actually saved lives" to "it's just a partisan hack job." So it should come as no surprise that former Vice President Dick Cheney has been making the cable TV news appearances to help attack the report. After all, many have argued that the real person behind the torture program was Cheney and his staff -- and to date, Cheney has insisted that everything that was done was perfectly reasonable and he'd do it again. Thus there's no surprise when Cheney appears on Fox News (because, of course), to claim that the report is "a bunch of hooey" and "full of crap" and "deeply flawed" only to then admit " I haven't read the report."

    • Architects of brutal methods had little experience
      When the CIA set out to design a program to elicit intelligence from captured terrorists, it turned to two former Air Force psychologists with no practical interrogation experience and no specialized knowledge of al-Qaida, according to a Senate investigation released this week.
    • Pay and Suffering: Psychologists Made $80M From CIA Interrogation Program
      The two psychologists contracted by the CIA to design the enhanced interrogation techniques used against al Qaeda suspects were paid more than $80 million, even though they were never themselves interrogators, according to the Senate Intelligence Committee’s “torture report,” released today -- a report that one of the psychologists told ABC News was "bulls**t."

    • The Architect
      The Senate Intelligence Committee has released a blistering, 500-page report on the CIA's controversial detention and interrogation program, a document that committee chairwoman Dianne Feinstein said represents the most significant oversight effort in the history of the US Senate.
    • Mormon church appointee aided CIA on terror
      A Spokane psychologist who helped develop controversial interrogation methods, which some human rights groups say amount to torture, became the new spiritual leader of a Mormon congregation on the South Hill this week.

      Bruce Jessen was proposed by Spokane Stake President James Lee, or “called” in the terminology of the Mormon faith, to be the bishop of Spokane’s 6th Ward, approved by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints hierarchy in Salt Lake City and presented to the congregation on Sunday. He was unanimously accepted by some 200 in attendance, Lee said.

    • CIA torture report: The doctors who were the unlikely architects of the CIA's programme
      They are the most unlikely architects of the CIA’s programme of torture. Two psychologists who swore to heal not harm.

      Now it has been revealed that two doctors, identified by the pseudonyms Dr Grayson Swigert and Dr Hammond Dunbar, were paid $81 million by the CIA to help develop and implement a seven-year programme that included "enhanced interrogation techniques" such as waterboarding, placing detainees in stress positions and sleep deprivation.

      Until now, little was known about the pair, who the New York Times has named as James Mitchell and Bruce Jessen.

      According to the declassifed documents, they created the programme in 2002 when the CIA took custody of Abu Zubaydah, a Saudi arrested in Pakistan and suspected of being an al-Qaeda lieutenant.

    • Meet the Psychologists Who Helped the CIA Torture
      So how did these two men come to play such an outsized role in developing and enacting the CIA’s torture program? Much of the story is captured in a 2009 Times article by Scott Shane. Shane writes that Mitchell, who after retirement “had started a training company called Knowledge Works” to supplement his income, realized that the post-9/11 military would provide business opportunities for those with his kind of experience and started networking with his contacts to seek them out.
    • The American Mengeles: Drs. Bruce Jessen and James Mitchell
      We like to think of evildoers as easily recognizable cartoon characters. We want them to be different from us to reassure ourselves they aren't anything like us. But when you consider the man pictured here, and the truly bestial things he did, you have to accept the fact the face of evil is a lot like our own. If that makes you uncomfortable, don't worry. It should bother you. If it didn't, there would be something wrong with you.

      The man in the old photo is tidy, professional, and clearly in control. Even without a stethoscope slung around his neck, you know the man in the white coat is a cultured, educated, intellectual man of science.

      You may not recognize him, but you certainly know his name. He's (in)famous for his experiments. In fact, he's so extraordinary I think he deserves a medal. I don't mean he should get one; he should get one named after him. I think Dr. Jessen and Dr. Mitchell deserve to be the first to get this medal.

    • Psychologist defends harsh CIA tactics he designed

      But Mitchell declined to detail his experience, other than to point out he spent 30 years with the Air Force and other government organizations.
    • Battle Rages Over Senate Report on CIA Interrogation Techniques
      One day after a Senate panel’s report on interrogation tactics employed by American spies, a furor erupted at home and abroad as top Central Intelligence Agency officials prepared a detailed public response.

      Democratic senators issued fresh denunciations from the chamber floor Wednesday, Poland’s former president said the CIA misled him, and Afghanistan’s new leader demanded accountability for any mistreatment of detainees there.

      Meanwhile, a group of former CIA officials and GOP senators on the panel fiercely defended the agency against what they called a one-sided report, saying the interrogation program was legal and effective.

    • Spokane psychologists helped craft CIA’s harsh interrogation tactics
      From their office in Spokane, two psychologists who once worked with an Air Force survival school there launched an extraordinary covert business that, after the 2001 terror attacks, offered one-stop shopping for a CIA wanting to use harsh interrogation tactics.
    • Senate Report Put Obama at Odds With Brennan, Longtime Security Adviser
      Tuesday’s release of the report criticizing the Central Intelligence Agency’s post-Sept. 11 detention and interrogation program puts an unusual public strain on the close relationship between the president and his CIA director.

    • The CIA chained him to the floor and froze him to death. But who was Gul Ruhman?
      It wasn’t that bad, we’ve been told, over and over again, for more than a decade. “We only waterboarded three people” goes the line American officials have been force-feeding the world for years.

      “We tortured some folks,” Barack Obama admitted recently, still downplaying war crimes committed in America’s name. But we now know those statements do not even begin to do justice to the horrific activities carried out by the CIA for years – atrocities that now have been exposed by the US Senate’s historic report on the CIA’s torture program, finally released on Tuesday after years of delay.

      There are stories in the CIA torture report of “rectal rehydration as a means of behavior control”, threats to murder and “threats to sexually abuse the mother of a detainee” – or cut a mother’s throat. There are details about detainees with broken bones forced to stand for days on end, detainees blindfolded, dragged down hallways while they were beaten. There were even torture sessions that ended in death. The list goes on and on, and on and on.
    • The 10 most harrowing excerpts from the CIA interrogation report

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Copyrights

      • Piracy is a crime - really!

        The Australian government has today confirmed that it will not tolerate online content piracy – site blocking and a graduated response scheme backed by legal action is soon to be legislated.

      • Develop anti-piracy scheme or we’ll do it for you
        The Government has issued an ultimatum to ISPs to work with content owners and distributors to develop a code that will enable digital pirates to be prosecuted.

        Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Attorney General George Brandis have written to ISPs, telcos, copyright owners and content distributors telling them to develop an anti-piracy code or have one forced upon them.

        The letter is published here. It tells all parties they have until 8 April 2015 to develop a code that will enable the enforcement of sanctions against people who infringe copyright by downloading content from illegal sources.

      • Google Pulls Out The Nuclear Option: Shuts Down Google News In Spain Over Ridiculous Copyright Law
        Back in October, we noted that Spain had passed a ridiculously bad Google News tax, in which it required any news aggregator to pay for snippets and actually went so far as to make it an "inalienable right" to be paid for snippets -- meaning that no one could choose to let any aggregator post snippets for free. Publishers have to charge any aggregator. This is ridiculous and dangerous on many levels. As we noted, it would be deathly for digital commons projects or any sort of open access project, which thrive on making content reusable and encouraging the widespread sharing of such content.

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