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Links 3/11/2015: Tails 1.7, Fedora 23





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GNU/Linux



Free Software/Open Source



Leftovers



  • The 2016 U.S. Presidential Race: A Cheat Sheet
    The Harvard Law professor and internet pioneer launched his campaign just after Labor Day, and from the start, it was clear that to call his bid quixotic was to sell Cervantes’ protagonist short. Lessig said he was running to win the Democratic nomination, but of course it was clear that his candidacy was more of a classic protest run. Having focused strongly on campaign-finance reform in recent years—including in a string of Atlantic articles—he made passing the Citizens Equality Act of 2017, which would enact universal voting registration, campaign-finance limits, and anti-gerrymandering provisions, the single issue of his candidacy.


  • Democrats Screw Over Larry Lessig To Keep Him Out Of The Debates; Forces Lessig To Drop His Campaign
    Ever since Larry Lessig announced his campaign for the Presidency a few months ago, we noted that it wasn't just a long shot, but seemed more like a gimmick to get the (very real) issue of political corruption into the debates. I like Larry quite a bit and support many of his efforts, but this one did seem kind of crazy. I'm glad that he's willing to take on crazy ideas to see if they'll work, because that's how real change eventually comes about, but the whole thing did seem a bit quixotic. That said, the last thing I expected was that the Democratic Party would be so scared of him as to flat out lie and change the rules to keep his ideas from reaching the public. Yet, that's what it did, and because of that, Lessig has dropped his campaign for the Presidency.


  • Our Campaign Finance Frankenstein
    How the Supreme Court built a monster out of America's campaign finance law.


  • Farewell to BorisWatch
    At the time social media offered a way for new political voices to be heard, and BorisWatch was one of those new voices: informed, focused, critical, often witty, and always happy to engage.


  • Science



    • Who is George Boole and why is he important? Today's Google Doodle explained
      George Boole was a British mathematician whose work on logic laid many of the foundations for the digital revolution. The Lincolnshire-born academic is widely heralded as one of the most influential mathematicians of the 19th century, devising a system of logic that aimed to condense complex thoughts into simple equations. His development of 'Boolean logic' paved the way for the computer age.




  • Security



    • The Rise of Political Doxing
      Last week, CIA director John O. Brennan became the latest victim of what's become a popular way to embarrass and harass people on the Internet. A hacker allegedly broke into his AOL account and published e-mails and documents found inside, many of them personal and sensitive.

      It's called doxing€­ -- sometimes doxxing€­ -- from the word "documents." It emerged in the 1990s as a hacker revenge tactic, and has since been as a tool to harass and intimidate people on the Internet. Someone would threaten a woman with physical harm, or try to incite others to harm her, and publish her personal information as a way of saying "I know a lot about you€­ -- like where you live and work." Victims of doxing talk about the fear that this tactic instills. It's very effective, by which I mean that it's horrible.


    • TalkTalk hack: Third suspect bailed as extent of the hack is outlined
      A THIRD SUSPECT in the TalkTalk hack has been released on police bail, as the telco provides more information about the scale of the attack, claiming that it was smaller than first thought.

      A 27-year-old man was arrested and released in Staffordshire under the Computer Misuse Act, as officers from several forces continue to close the net on the cyber criminals responsible.



    • Online Vigilantes: Hacking Sony for a Cause?
      And yeah, Heartbleed and Shellshock turned out to be much less of a threat than the tech world predicted. However, in various forums and other places where tech folks choose to hang out, Windows folks had a field day with all variants of “told-ya-so.” I pictured server admins running in circles with their hands flailing in the air, shouting that Armageddon was indeed here.

      [...]

      Fortunately, that rootkit was discovered fairly soon by Mark Russinovich, co-founder of Winternals. After the disclosure, Microsoft didn’t waste any time moving toward the acquisition of Russinovich’s company, although for complete disclosure, Russinovich had been offered a job by Microsoft years before. It is suggested in some circles that Microsoft purchased the company so quickly in order to quell the entire Microsoft/Sony duplicity rumors, as some believe that Microsoft would have to know about the rootkit, given how deeply it burrowed into Redmond’s proprietary code.




  • Defence/Police/Secrecy/Aggression



    • “Terming these as ‘isolated incidents’ will only embolden the terrorists”
      One after another, our citizens are being killed, but we are yet to see a proactive approach from the government. Maybe they don't realise that the blogger killings are damaging the country's stability. What the government must understand is that by killing the bloggers and publishers, the extremists are actually killing freedom of speech and freedom of expression. The question is: why is the government unable to look at this in a broader perspective? They should be looking at it in a much more strategic way.

      Terming these as“isolated incidents” is one way of depoliticising them. Such statements will only embolden the terrorists to carry out more attacks. This government was involved in the Liberation War, so they must know how guerrilla tactics work. Terrorist attacks are always isolated incidents. The main point is whether or not the government is willing to take anti-terrorist strategies.


    • Bangladesh: Please Stop It
      The horrific cycle of killing of secular bloggers in Bangladesh, which has already claimed at least four lives this year, and the fresh murder of publisher Faisal Arefin Dipon, in Dhaka, the Bangladeshi capital, on October 31, is deeply disconcerting. The Ansar al-Islam, an Islamic extremist group, which identifies as the local affiliate of al-Qaeda, has claimed responsibility for the attack.


    • 2 Men Who Published Writings Critical of Extremism Are Stabbed in Bangladesh
      Two businessmen who had published the works of Avijit Roy, a Bangladeshi-American known for his critical writings on religious extremism, were stabbed on Saturday by groups of men in the Bangladeshi capital, Dhaka, the police said. The attack came eight months after Mr. Roy was himself stabbed to death with machetes.

      One of the publishers, Faisal Arefin Dipan, died of his wounds immediately, the police said. The other, Ahmed Rahim Tutul, was in critical condition late Saturday.




  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife



    • South-East Asia is choking on Indonesia’s forest fires
      THE annual haze that blankets swathes of South-East Asia usually begins to recede in October. This year however the smoggy conditions—caused by fires set to clear farmland in rural Indonesia—only got worse. On October 26th Joko Widodo, Indonesia’s president, cut short a state visit to America to handle the crisis, which has become one of the worst in memory. With the onset of this year’s rainy season delayed by the “El Niño” weather cycle, it could be a month or more before all flames are doused.


    • NPR Executive Editor: "NPR Should Have Reported On" What Exxon Knew About Climate Change
      NPR executive editor Edith Chapin and ombudsman Elizabeth Jensen agree it is "unfortunate" that NPR has thus far failed to cover groundbreaking reports documenting that ExxonMobil funded efforts to sow doubt about climate science for decades after confirming that burning fossil fuels causes climate change.


    • 10 Of The Worst Moments From Morning Joe's Fawning Koch Brothers Interview
      Morning Joe's interview "exclusive, first-ever joint interview" with industrialists Charles and David Koch was full of softball questions and worshipful praise. They also gave the Koch brothers a pass for claiming they oversee one of "the safest and environmentally protective" companies. The fawning interview follows months of pro-Koch coverage by the MSNBC hosts.






  • Finance



    • People in Sweden are hiding cash in their microwaves because of a fascinating — and terrifying — economic experiment
      Sweden is shaping up to be the first country to plunge its citizens into a fascinating — and terrifying — economic experiment: negative interest rates in a cashless society.

      The Swedish central bank held its benchmark interest rate at -0.35% today, the level it has been at since July.

      Although retail banks have yet to pass on that negative to rate to Swedish consumers, the longer it’s held there the more financial pressure there is for banks to pass the costs onto their customers. That’s a problem because Sweden is the closest country on the planet to becoming an all-electronic cashless society.




  • Privacy



    • So Google Records All The Microphone Audio All The Time, After All?
      It seems Google does record audio from microphones all the time, despite attempts to play down the situation. The “hotword” searching – when you initiate a search by saying “Ok Google” – has been criticized before, when it was downloaded to open-source browsers running Chromium. However, major privacy concerns remain as Google doesn’t start recording when you say “Ok Google”; it was recording before you said the hotword.


    • Letter from Facebook's Alex Schultz
      We require people to use the name on Facebook that their friends and family know them by, and we’ll continue to do so.


    • UK government (apparently) backs down on Snooper’s Charter: Gracious or mendacious?
      Proposals in the UK's imminent Snooper's Charter, which would allow police and security forces access to everyone's Web browsing history, have been dropped, according to The Guardian. In a statement, "senior sources" in the UK government apparently said that "rather than increasing intrusive surveillance, the [Investigatory Powers] bill would bar police and security services from accessing people’s browsing histories," and that "any access to internet connection records will be strictly limited and targeted." The Guardian also claims that other controversial options for the Investigatory Powers Bill, due to be published on Wednesday, have been shelved.

      These include the suggestion that companies would be restricted or perhaps banned from using encryption, and the requirement that UK telecoms would have to capture and store Internet traffic originating from US companies in order to allow UK intelligence agencies to access them even if the companies refused to hand over the data.

      However, as many experts have pointed out, neither idea was feasible: online business would become impossible without encryption, and end-to-end encryption means that storing traffic from US-based companies would be largely useless anyway.

      These facts raise the possibility that the UK government's latest "climbdown" is actually nothing of the sort; rather, it would appear that the UK government has been feeding journalists exaggerated stories of what might be the Snooper's Charter, so that it could then appear to back down graciously in the face of the inevitable outrage those ideas generated.


    • Internet firms to be banned from offering unbreakable encryption under new laws
      Companies such as Apple, Google and others will no longer be able to offer encryption so advanced that even they cannot decipher it when asked to under the Investigatory Powers Bill


    • Collect it all
      The bulk collection of communications data without targeted suspicion is mass surveillance. The bulk collection of global communications data should end. Surveillance should be targeted, necessary and proportionate.
    • EU Parliament Clears a Path to Give Snowden Asylum




  • Civil Rights



    • A Billionaire Sued Us. We Won. But We Still Have Big Legal Bills to Pay.
      It was a huge victory. We were up against a powerful billionaire and we won. But it came at a great cost: at least $2.5 million for us and our insurer, and $650,000 in out-of-pocket expenses for Mother Jones, to be precise. Everyone's been asking whether we can recoup our attorney's fees from VanderSloot, but unfortunately the answer is no.

      The win means a lot to me, personally, too. As someone who writes about rich and powerful people, it's good to know that the First Amendment is alive and well. And it makes me beyond proud to write for Mother Jones: Not too many other shops would have had the guts to fight back, but we knew you'd expect us to, and that you'd have our back if we took a stand.


    • Qwasie Reid: US paramedic suspended without pay for helping child who was choking
      A US paramedic has reportedly been suspended without pay for making an "unauthorised" stop to try to save the life of a choking little girl.

      Qwasie Reid, an EMT (Emergency Medical Technician) in New York City, was transporting a nursing home patient to a doctor’s appointment in an ambulance last week when he was flagged down by a "frantic man" near a Brooklyn school who said a student was choking.


    • The Judicial System May Be Bad, But The Privatized Judicial System Of Arbitration Is Worse
      Back in 2011, we wrote about a troubling ruling in the Supreme Court in AT&T Mobility v. Concepcion, the case which basically said that it's perfectly fine for businesses to put in place "binding arbitration" clauses, that take away people's rights to take a company to court over some sort of wrongdoing. As I noted at the time, ever since taking a series of classes on arbitration in college, I've been fascinated with the process, which sounds like a good idea. But it's yet another case where theory and reality don't necessarily match up.


    • Black Lives Matter? Not in an NYT Graphic
      Quick–who’s missing from this New York Times chart (11/2/15)?

      The point of the chart, based on one in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, is that US non-Hispanic whites aged 45-54 have a rising mortality rate, unlike the similarly aged groups included for comparison purposes: Hispanics in the US, and people in France, Germany, Britain, Canada, Australia and Sweden.

      The most obvious omission is African-Americans, who make up about 12 percent of the US population. They are left out of the chart not because they don’t support the point—they, too, have a falling death rate in the 45-54 demographic, unlike US whites—but presumably because they would require a larger graph, since the black mortality rate is still well above whites in this age group: 582 vs. 415 per 100,000.


    • How the F.B.I. Can Detain, Render and Threaten Without Risk
      AT exactly 5 p.m. on March 13, 2007, just as I was preparing to leave my cubicle in Washington for the day, I got a phone call from the journalist Jonathan Landay of McClatchy Newspapers. To this day, I remember his exact words.

      “One of your congressman’s constituents is being held in an Ethiopian intelligence service prison, and I think your former employer is neck-deep in this.”

      The congressman was Rush Holt, then a Democratic representative from New Jersey, for whom I worked for 10 years starting in 2004. The constituent was Amir Mohamed Meshal of Tinton Falls, N.J., who alleges that he was illegally taken to Ethiopia, where he was threatened with torture by American officials. My “former employer” was the Central Intelligence Agency, but it soon became apparent that the agency “neck-deep in this” was the Federal Bureau of Investigation.




  • Internet/Net Neutrality



    • Facebook’s Free Basics isn’t good for India and Zuckerberg still doesn’t understand why
      Facebook has been trying to get India to fall in love with its Free Basics service for several months since it launched in February. CEO Mark Zuckerberg even visited the capital of New Delhi last week and attempted to address concerns about it during a Townhall Q&A session.

      But he still doesn’t get why Indians are opposed to the social network’s zero-rating service.

      More than 330,000 people signed a petition to oppose zero-rating and uphold net neutrality principles in the country and numerous Web and media companies dropped off Facebook’s offering in support of the initiative.

      Zuckerberg still thinks that Free Basics will serve India well, and believes that campaigns against it don’t factor in the benefits it brings to those who are still offline.


    • Is Pentagon deciding the Norwegian negotiating position on Internet governance?
      In Norway, all government offices are required by law to keep a list of every document or letter arriving and leaving their offices. Internal notes should also be documented. The document list (called a mail journal - "postjournal" in Norwegian) is public information and thanks to the Norwegian Freedom of Information Act (Offentleglova) the mail journal is available for everyone. Most offices even publish the mail journal on their web pages, as PDFs or tables in web pages. The state-level offices even have a shared web based search service (called Offentlig Elektronisk Postjournal - OEP) to make it possible to search the entries in the list. Not all journal entries show up on OEP, and the search service is hard to use, but OEP does make it easier to find at least some interesting journal entries .




  • Intellectual Monopolies



    • WTO Decision on Least Developed Country (LDC) Drug Patent Waiver
      The World Trade Organization is poised to announce this Friday its approval of a limited 17-year extension of a 2001 waiver of obligations in the TRIPS Agreement, set to expire at the end of this year, the terms of which exempt Least Developed Countries (LDCs) from requirements to grant patents or related intellectual property rights on pharmaceutical products.

      The decision to grant the 17-year waiver represents a compromise between the United States, which had asked for a ten-year waiver, and Least Developed Countries, which wanted an indefinite extension of the waiver that would have lasted for as long as a country remained least developed per UN classification. An indefinite waiver would have been a clear victory for LDCs, as it would have recognized their needs above the United States’ continuing promotion of more restrictive intellectual property rules.


    • Copyrights



      • The Latest Twist in the Megaupload Case Hinges on a German Translation
        Lawyers for Megaupload founder Kim Dotcom accused the United States of misrepresenting evidence and of trying to "contort the law" in a bid to persecute their client.

        This is do-or-die time for Dotcom and three other former Megaupload execs at the now defunct Megaupload. On Monday, their attorneys began arguments at an extradition hearing in Auckland on why the New Zealand government should not hand them over to the United States on criminal copyright violations.

        The US Department of Justice claimed in a 2012 indictment that Megaupload's leadership generated $175 million by helping users pirate movies, and wants them brought to the US to stand trial.

        The hearing began with at least one serious allegation made by Dotcom's lawyer, Ron Mansfield. The way Mansfield tells it, either DOJ attorneys speak very poor German or they intentionally misrepresented the meaning of Dotcom's internal communications to blacken his image before the public and the court.

        Throughout the six-week hearing, New Zealand prosecutors, arguing on behalf of the United States, have told presiding Judge Nevin Dawson that Dotcom referred to himself and several other former Megaupload managers as "evil."


      • Kim Dotcom Finally Launches Extradition Defense


        After proceedings began in September, Kim Dotcom began his extradition hearing defense in New Zealand today. His legal team argued that U.S. prosecutors cherry-picked evidence, intentionally mis-translated discussions to make the entrepreneur look bad, and created criminal liability for service providers where none exists.


      • RIAA Wants $17 Million Damages From ‘New’ Grooveshark


        The RIAA is asking a New York federal court to issue a default judgment against the 'reincarnation' of the defunct Grooveshark music service. The record labels are demanding more than $13 million in piracy damages plus another $4 million for willful counterfeiting.


      • US gov’t grants limited right to revive games behind “abandoned” servers [Updated]
        After nearly a year of debate and deliberation, the Library of Congress (LoC) has granted gamers and preservationists a limited legal method to restore access to games that are rendered unplayable thanks to defunct, abandoned authentication servers.

        In new guidelines published today, the Librarian of Congress said that gamers deserve the right to continued access to "local play" on games that they paid for, even if the centralized authentication servers required for that play have been taken down. So if Blizzard, for instance, decides to take down the authentication servers required to verify a new copy of StarCraft II online, players will now be legally allowed to craft a workaround that allows the game to work on their PCs.








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