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Links 7/12/2015: Linux 4.4 RC4, Steam GNU/Linux Gaming at Almost 1,700 Titles

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Free Software/Open Source

  • Intel open-sources its Snap cloud visibility tool on GitHub
    Back in July, Intel launched its “Cloud for All” initiative aimed at foster inggreater enterprise adoption of public, private and hybrid clouds. Building on that effort, Intel last week said its open-sourcing a new tool called “Snap” that’s designed to help organizations gain better visibility into their cloud infrastructure.

  • Trusted Analytics Platform: Simplify Big Data Analytics with Open Source Software
    The Trusted Analytics Platform (TAP) is an open source project that Intel developed to make it easier for developers and data scientists to deploy custom big data analytics solutions in the cloud as well as reduce development costs and time to market. The company disclosed pilots with Penn Medicine, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, and Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU).

  • Implementing an Open Source Private Docker-based PaaS: A Q&A with Rancher Labs CEO Sheng Liang
    Rancher Labs have created RancherOS, a minimalist operating system (OS) built to explicitly run Docker, and also Rancher, an open source platform for building a private container service, much like Engine Yard’s Deis PaaS and VMware’s Photon platform. InfoQ sat down with Rancher Labs CEO, Sheng Liang, and asked about the Rancher platform, common container platform issues such as networking and storage, and how a container platform will fit into a standard development workflow.

  • It’s actually open source software that’s eating the world
    At Lightspeed we’ve been investing aggressively in open source software (OSS) businesses for the past 10 years. Recently, we’ve seen a significant increase in entrepreneurs pitching open source startups, and we’ve also seen greater competition for these deals. We pulled together some numbers in an attempt to measure the acceleration in interest in and funding for OSS businesses in the last few years. The results were staggering even to us.

  • Weather Company CIO says informed IT leaders are open to open source
    Just a few short years ago, there was a possibility you might lose credibility by bringing up open source as a possible solution for an IT problem. As 2015 draws to a close, it’s more likely that you will lose credibility for not bringing up open. This doesn’t mean the decisions or the outcomes are closer to being right, but at least there’s a respectable debate going on.

    I look at open source and take stock that we’ve come a long way as an industry, and I think that’s good. Apple has recently made some noise related to the platform they’re building out that is heavily open source-based. Google has just released a big part of its AI technology, and IBM is hard at work in the Spark community. As the consumerization of IT continues its march and as consumers begin to consume content from nontraditional sources as their new traditional means – the Netflixes of the world, the Hulus, the Amazon Instants, the HBO GOs – they’re starting to be more comfortable and familiar with less traditional and niche players as a part of their lives.

  • November: FOSS Activites
    This is the first time I have posted my monthly activities on my blog, but doing so serves two purposes. The first is that I hope to become a more active blogger. The second is that it will force me to review my activities monthly. The month of November marked the end of my term on the Ubuntu Community Council and a return to a focus on advocacy and local activity. I have included some activities that took place at the end of October since this is my first report.

  • CryptID open source identification system uses the blockchain to revolutionize ID
    Access control systems are an integral part of the security industry, which is vital across every campus, airport, corporate office, government building, and anywhere else the movement of people or their access to certain items or programs, is limited. Even the driver’s license in your wallet is a product of this industry, and it is likely laden with 45-year old magnetic stripe technology, and can be counterfeited by hundreds of different people around the world for an affordable fee on the dark web.

  • Robots not likely to take your job (at least not yet), says Open Source chief
    Stripped of its diplomacy and erudition, the message from Brian Gerkey, CEO of Open Source Robotics Foundation (OSRF), is simple:

  • Web Browsers

  • SaaS/Big Data

  • Pseudo-/Semi-Open Source (Openwashing)

  • BSD

    • Zapcc Is Showing Compile Times Even Faster Than LLVM Clang
      The Zapcc compiler stack is proving to be faster than LLVM/Clang at compiling C++ codes, which in turn is much faster already than GCC. The performance of the generated binaries from this LLVM-based compiler stack is on-par with what's offered by Clang.


    • GIMP Versus Old Thin Clients
      Take GIMP, for instance, the ubiquitous image-editing software that’s “not as good as…”. It works fine from a thin client except when you select something for “cut and paste” operations. Then, it calls out the selection with “marching ants”, actual animation on your screen. Not good. There is a workaround, however. In the “View” menu item, you can turn off “Show selection” and the ants go away. You can still see the selection as a thin line, so you’re good, no longer having to redraw a screen over that slow connection. The ants return on subsequent images though. So, to keep them away, go to “Edit/Preferences/Appearance” and uncheck “Show selection” in two places, normal window and full-screen.

    • GNUnet News: YBTI @ 32c3

  • Openness/Sharing


  • Health/Nutrition

    • Bye, bye, bananas
      Now, half a century later, a new strain of the disease is threatening the existence of the Cavendish, the banana that replaced the Gros Michel as the world's top banana export, representing 99 percent of the market, along with a number of banana varieties produced and eaten locally around the world.

      And there is no known way to stop it—or even contain it.

      That's the troubling conclusion of a new study published in PLOS Pathogens, which confirmed something many agricultural scientists have feared to be true: that dying banana plants in various parts of the world are suffering from the same exact thing: Tropical Race 4, a more potent mutation of the much feared Panama Disease.

  • Security

  • Defence/Police/Secrecy/Aggression

    • CIA-funded Afghan militia accused of killing civilians
      An Afghan militia paid and equipped by the CIA has been accused of killing civilians and torturing detainees in a secret war against the Taliban and al-Qaeda.

    • CIA-backed militias waging shadow war in Afghanistan
      Months after the Obama administration declared combat operations over in Afghanistan, the CIA continues to run a shadow war in the eastern part of the country, overseeing an Afghan proxy called the Khost Protection Force, according to local officials, former commanders of that militia and Western advisers.

    • ISIS 2.0: Meet the New Extremist Group the CIA is Paying to Kill Innocent Civilians in Afghanistan
      While American bureaucrats claim that heavy interventions in the Middle East are somehow beneficial for the increasingly volatile region, the US military continues its decades-old tradition of creating more terrorists than it kills.

    • Column: War on Terror is creating more terror
      The interventionists will do anything to prevent Americans from seeing that their foreign policies are perpetuating terrorism and inspiring others to seek to harm us. The neocons know that when it is understood that blowback is real – that people seek to attack us not because we are good and free but because we bomb and occupy their countries – their stranglehold over foreign policy will begin to slip.

      That is why each time there is an event like the killings in Paris earlier this month, they rush to the television stations to terrify Americans into agreeing to even more bombing, more occupation, more surveillance at home, and more curtailment of our civil liberties. They tell us we have to do it in order to fight terrorism, but their policies actually increase terrorism.

      If that sounds harsh, consider the recently-released 2015 Global Terrorism Index report. The report shows that deaths from terrorism have increased dramatically over the last 15 years – a period coinciding with the “war on terrorism” that was supposed to end terrorism.

    • Sadly, Terrorism Is Easy
      Because, sadly terrorism is easy. As I stated recently, if I were crazed enough to want to kill somebody tomorrow, and did not care how I did it, who I killed or if I died myself, I could kill a few people without too much effort or planning. That is why the continual propaganda about “seven foiled ISIS terrorist plots” or “4,000 active Islamic terrorists in the UK” is quite simply untrue. If all those terrorists existed, they would not be so entirely unproductive. What the authorities do catch continually are fantasists, often children, boasting and “plotting” online about being terrorists. That is quite a different thing. It is worth noting that nobody has been charged over any of these seven foiled ISIS plots. Strange that, isn’t it?

    • ‘Targets Have Very Different Values in the US Media System’ - CounterSpin interview with Jim Naureckas on ISIS Attacks
      Janine Jackson: The Paris attacks were barely over before people began using them for their own purposes. They were a reason to reject Syrian refugees, though no refugees appear to be implicated. They were a reason to increase government surveillance, although the suspects were already on the French government’s radar and there’s no indication more surveillance would have made any difference. Some even used the attacks as a cause to demean antiracism activists on college campuses.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife

    • Global Protests Demand Climate Action Ahead of Paris Summit
      More than half a million people took part in rallies around the world ahead of today’s opening of the 21st United Nations Climate Change Summit here in Paris, France. World leaders have arrived for two weeks of negotiations aimed at reaching an accord on global warming. In London, the musician and artist Peter Gabriel said citizens around the world are calling out for a binding and just agreement.

    • Indonesia’s fires need to be smothered for good
      Every year, forest fires ravage Indonesia, causing massive environmental, social and economic devastation. This year’s fires are the largest in nearly 20 years, destroying three million hectares of land and causing an estimated US$14 billion (about 500 billion baht) in losses related to agriculture, forest degradation, health, transportation, and tourism.

      Perhaps even more alarming is the climate impact. Indonesia is already among the world’s biggest carbon emitters. Thanks to the fires, its daily average emissions this September and October were 10 times higher than normal.

    • Climate and consumption come to a head in Indonesia forest fires
      As Western Washington settles into its rainy season, Indonesia is welcoming the rains as well, clearing the air after two months of forest fires that are the worst the country has seen in decades.

      In the most affected areas, the smoke was so bad that schools and offices were closed in Indonesia. The fires had a human toll: more than half a million people suffered respiratory problems and 21 died.

      “Even when it got rain, it was not enough to eradicate the fire smoke,” Wahyu Riawanti, a political science lecturer who lives in Jakarta, said in an email. “It needed a whole two days rain to completely clean the air.”

      When the fire was finally quenched, over 8,000 square miles of forests and other land had burned, according to reports from the Associated Press. Economic losses are estimated to be $9 billion. The fires have also taken the lives of endangered animals, like the orangutan, and devastated some of the earth’s most biodiverse forests.

    • Indonesia Burning
      As much as 79% of Indonesia’s greenhouse gas emissions result from the destruction of its carbon-rich tropical forests and peat bogs.

    • Everyone can be a target
      We are at the dawn of an environmental crisis that will end humanity. Every human on this planet is concerned. People get beaten up when they march to pressure governments to do something about it. We need to unite and resist. And yes, we are going to get hurt but freedom is not free.

  • Finance

    • Zuckerberg’s crafty donation
      This gives Zuckerberg more flexibility to invest in for-profit enterprises and to support political causes, something charities cannot easily do. He will not have to disclose details of the company’s financial affairs and can disburse a profit if he chooses.

    • Billionaire Bonanza: The Forbes 400 and the Rest of Us
      This report exposes the extreme wealth concentrated within the fortunes of the 400 wealthiest Americans and compares this wealth to the much more meager assets of several different segments of American society.

      The report proposes several solutions to close the growing gap between the ultra wealthy and the rest of the country. These policies include closing offshore tax havens and billionaire loopholes in the tax code that the wealthy exploit to hide their wealth.

  • PR/AstroTurf/Lobbying

  • Censorship

    • Calvin Cheng and Amos Yee: Where should we draw the line on freedom of speech?
      Cheng’s case is troubling as it further enables Islamophobia that we’ve seen come from the West. Amos’ case continues to entrench misogyny and the practice of objectifying women. And since both are seen as public figures in Singapore (even Amos seems to agree with this on his social media accounts), they are more likely to face scrutiny for such remarks. So there’s a consequence that they can’t run away from – public outcry.

    • Channel 4 axes Prince Charles interview over 'censorship'

      Britain's Channel Four News has reportedly axed a planned interview with Prince Charles after the heir to the throne demanded absolute control over the questions asked and subsequent editing of the program.

      The conditions are contained in a detailed 15-page contract, which reportedly even gave Charles – potentially the future King of Australia – the right to pull the program if he was unhappy with it.

    • Sign a 15-page contract if you want to interview me, says Charles: Prince in censorship row over demands to broadcasters

    • No One Is ‘Censoring’ Michael Moore
      Of my many pet peeves, the one that might annoy me the most is when a filmmaker claims that the MPAA is “censoring” him because it gives his work a rating he doesn’t like. Usually, this complaint is leveled by a director who receives the NC-17 rating because such a rating not only requires theaters to keep children out of theaters but also precludes the picture from being shown in certain chains or advertised on certain networks/in certain newspapers.

    • 'Fefka to head protest against censorship'
      On Day 2 of IFFK, the larger cliques of 2013 festival seem to have been replaced by a smaller group of delegates. The crowd is slowly trickling in as the festivities are yet to begin.

      Be that as it may, the dignitaries are making their presence felt. Onmanorama caught up with director B. Unnikrishnan for a quick chat.

    • Watch Filmmaker Anand Patwardhan Talk About His 40-Year-Long Battle With Censorship
      Filmmaker Anand Patwardhan is widely known for raising issues through his films that can be seen as ‘testing the limits’ of freedom of expression. He is not afraid to focus on matters that might make anyone flinch, which can be seen in many of his films, starting from the very first ‘Waves Of Revolution‘ (1974), which followed the JP movement started in Bihar, to the last ‘Jai Bhim Comrade‘ (2012), that explores the lives and politics of Dalits in Mumbai.

      With his film ‘Father, Son And Holy War‘, released in 1994, Patwardhan engaged in a long drawn legal battle with Doordarshan. Despite winning several awards, the state-sponsored telecaster refused to broadcast the film that delved into the history and psychology of communalism in India in light of the Babri Masjid demolition.

      He recently returned his National Award to protest growing intolerance in India and penned a powerful open letter expressing his dismay and emphasising the need of eternal vigilance. 65-year-old Patwardhan has been at war with various forms of censorship, including the CBFC (central board for film certification) and right-wing groups. His website is blocked often and can then only be accessed via proxy servers. He believes that all governments are equally responsible for attacking freedom of expression, but censorship is worse in the BJP-led government.

    • Melizarani T.Selva on how spoken words is free of censorship, unlike journalism
      I have always seen spoken words as an instrumental freedom. As a journalist, I report about every issue in the society. Journalism has censorship which always prevents me from expressing myself freely, but the world of spoken words does not. It is a free platform and I feel very open and safe. There are no hurdles as such, but sometimes I feel tied down when I have to write about something very personal, as you need to keep in mind that you have to share your story without revealing too much about your life. There is a constant challenge in maintaining that balance.
    • 'Safe space' or censorship?

    • “Safe Space” The new word for blasphemy and censorship

    • Film Censorship at Its Darkest Under Leadership of Pehlaj Nihalani
      If there is one thing the politically divided industry is generally at a consensus about, it is the vagaries of the censors, a recurring sore for decades, that has seemingly reached the nadir in 2015 under the stewardship of producer Pehlaj Nihalani as chairman of the Central Board of Film Certification.

    • Saraki Defends Social Media Censorship Bill, Says People Must Be Held Responsible For Their Action
      In spite of criticism trailing the ongoing bill by the Senate to censor social media in the country, Senate President Bukola Saraki on Thursday vowed that the Red Chamber would not back down from passing the proposed law.

    • Social media censorship bill: ‘Senate can’t be intimidated’ to surrender’
      AS criticisms continue to trail the ongoing bill by the Senate to censor social media in the country, the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, has said no amount of attacks arising from it would make the Red Chamber abandon the proposed law.

    • Social Media Censorship Bill Dangerous To Nigeria’s Democracy – Gani Adams

    • Nigeria’s lawmakers are about to pass a bill which could gag citizens on social media
      Nigeria’s senators and house representatives are not exactly a popular bunch. Widely criticized for their high salaries and luxurious lifestyles, Nigerians have a frosty relationship with their senators. That relationship could get even worse with the introduction of a bill which is seen as aiming to gag free speech on social media.

    • Self-Censorship Rampant in Albanian Media, Study Says
      Links between politics, business and media have undermined journalistic excellence in the Albanian media and generated censorship or self-censorship among journalists, said the BIRN Albania study published on Tuesday.

      The study, based on interviews with 121 journalists, media owners and media experts, concluded that owners’ economic interests, their political links and media outlets’ financial inadequacy are the key factors pushing journalists toward self-censorship.

    • Censorship costs should be grounds for refusing FoI requests says watchdog
      Public bodies should be able to refuse Freedom of Information requests on the basis it would take them too long to censor material, the MPs’ expenses watchdog has said.

      The Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (Ipsa) has suggested the move to the Government’s controversial commission reviewing the Freedom of Information Act.

      Under existing rules, Whitehall departments can turn down FoI requests if they would cost more than €£600 to answer. The limit for other public bodies is €£450.

    • When Is Censorship Okay? Answer: never
      I predict that this strange new power dynamic emerging on college campuses, where students leverage mostly reasonable grievances for patently unreasonable ends, will weaken the university as the last remaining bastion of free speech—at risk of culturally appropriating a word from the activist community, the last remaining “safe space.” Unlike the office, the church, and even the Thanksgiving table, as last week’s episode of SNL pointed out, the campus has not been a place where we fear getting silenced. I pray it stays that way.

    • Racism a subject suppressed due to censorship
      Censors have disguised themselves as sincere reformers, and their success could produce disastrous consequences.

    • San Gabriel High School’s shameful censorship continues
      How quickly they are learning what professional journalists all around the world learn over time, in a hard school: The powers that be, even in our nation that theoretically treasures free speech, only truly value press freedom when it serves to bolster their authority.

    • Social media censorship in Bangladesh hints at long-term problems for publishers
      Two weeks have passed since the government in Bangladesh blocked access to Facebook, WhatsApp, Viber, and other social media sites. In Dhaka, some people have crowded into hotel lobbies to access private networks, while others are gaining access through proxy servers. The reason for the ban, according to the government, has to do with security, in light of the recent terrorist attacks and local political violence, but there is concern that it’s part of a creeping pattern of censorship that’s having a negative impact on publishers, especially after the temporary block in January and reports of journalists being harassed.

    • Saudi Arabia’s Art Scene Is Horrified by the Death Sentence Given to Poet Ashraf Fayadh
      Ashraf Fayadh, a poet recently sentenced to death in Saudi Arabia by beheading, relayed a simple but grim message to the world from his prison cell.

      "I'm an artist and I want my freedom," Fayadh, 35, said over the telephone last week as he spoke with colleagues from the art collective Edge of Arabia, who have been advocating for his release along with a number of other artistic and human rights groups.

      Fayadh is charged with blasphemy for penning a book of love poems allegedly containing atheistic writings and uttering religiously blasphemous comments in an Abha café in 2013.

    • Time to Speak Out Against Censorship
      Saudi Arabia has condemned Palestinian poet and artist Ashraf Fayadh to death, charging that, as an apostate, he has insulted Islam, the Custodian of the Two Holy Shrines (the Saudi monarchy) and the Wahhabi sect. Saudi Arabia’s Wahhabi tenets have been stirring fanatical religious fervor from as far away as Bangladesh, across North and central Africa, and into central Asia and the Caucasus.

    • Venezuelan Elections: journalists face challenges such as censorship and lack of access to information
      Covering parliamentary elections occuring on Dec. 6 in Venezuela has become a major challenge for national and international journalists.

      Allegations of censorship, lack of access to public information, excessive rumors, fear of an Internet blackout, violence against reporters and confiscation of equipment are part of the environment in which journalists are working while covering the 6D, as this day has become known in social networks.

    • Measuring millennials’ support for censorship
      My Tuesday column, about the use of trigger warnings, mentions some other survey data suggesting that millennials may be more amenable to limits on speech than earlier generations were. Here are the sources I was referring to.

    • “I hate censorship”: Larry King on his journey from prime time TV to Russia Today
      The first celebrity interview Larry King did was by chance, in a Miami Beach restaurant. He was a 26-year-old local radio presenter, and had set up his mid-morning show to broadcast from the popular Pumpernik's deli. In walked the singer Bobby Darin, famous for his hit version of “Mack the Knife” released that year, 1959, and gave the young journalist his first showbiz interview. King has been asking questions ever since.

    • Florida Cops Issue Secret Police Censorship Training Manual, Call Photography a Crime
      A free speech chilling memo by the general counsel for a Florida police department advises cops that they can choose when to arrest citizens who record them in public, if those officers happen to be working undercover.

      Lakeland Police Department‘s ironically named “Crime Analysis & Intelligence Center” disgorged the secret police censorship manual memo labeled “14-0193” during a recent public records request by a member of the PINAC Newsroom, as shown below.

      Lakeland PD‘s memo acknowledges the public’s right to record police in public, while performing their official duties in passing on page one, and then crafts a tortured, Rube Goldberg’s police manual with unclear powers to undercover police.

    • New York Times Runs with Blank Pages Due to Censorship
      The New York Times’ international edition ran with widespread blank holes on its front page on Tuesday following pressure from the Thai government, which objected to the paper’s critical coverage.

    • Thai printer replaces International New York Times article with blank space
    • RSF deplores Thailand’s censorship of New York Times
    • Thailand printer censors International New York Times article on sagging economy
    • Printer refuses to run International New York Times story (again)
    • International New York Times' Thai Printer Refuses To Run Front-Page Story
    • NYT has front page story blanked out in Thailand
    • Thai Printer Refuses to Publish US Paper’s Article on Thailand
    • Thailand: “New York Times” appears with a white spot on the title

    • Anonymous Hacks Thailand Police Server Against Internet Censorship
      The server breach allowed Anonymous to leak private information regarding Thai officers and some evidence records.

    • New York Times censored again as Thailand marks birthday of fragile king
    • Living in a void of white wilderness
    • Thai printer removes NYT content, again
    • NYT decries curbs on press freedom in Thailand
    • NYT Decries Censorship in Thailand as Article Again Redacted
    • Thailand: “New York Times” appears again whitened

    • Israel requests Google to block Palestinian videos from YouTube
    • Google Denies Online Censorship Deal with Israel
    • Google Denies Israel’s Claims That It Will Allow Censorship Of Palestinian Videos
    • Five Years After Revolution, Internet Censorship Is Creeping Back into Tunisia
      Tunisia has made great improvements in promoting a culture of internet freedom in the five years since the Tunisian Revolution.

      Unfortunately, internet activists are saying that the climate of fear and self-censorship is starting to creep back—and unless the Tunisian Parliament passes new laws protecting free speech on the internet, the country’s internet freedom could regress in the coming years.

      Before the revolution in January 2011, the North African country of approximately 11 million was governed by a tightly controlled dictatorship led by President Zine El Abeddine Ben Ali.

    • Full text of SA’s censorship bill published: ISPA wants to know more
      When the South Africa’s Film & Publication Board (FPB) released a draft set of regulations designed to regulate online content in South Africa earlier this year, it was met with a hail of criticism, which included it being called unconstitutional and “the worst censorship law in Africa”.

    • South Africa: Call for More Transparency On Online Censorship Policy
      The policy, which was published on March 4, attracted controversy because it sought to regulate all online content in SA, including any "film, game or certain publication" that would include classification of material on international platforms such as Facebook and Google.

    • Censorship negates freedom of the press
      The Bill of Rights: the first 10 Amendments of the U.S. Constitution. Amendments that protect the rights of everyone, including journalists. Freedom of speech is a part of the First Amendment, yet freedom of the press which is also a part of the First Amendment is rarely recognized as valid when one is in a debate.

    • Chicago Sheriff Tried To Censor Backpages By Threatening Visa, Court Rules won its fight with the Chicago sheriff over intimidating letters that led Visa V +2.50% and MasterCard MA +3.06% to cut ties with the adult-services website, a victory against censorship in a climate where government officials seem more inclined than ever to use the threat of financial ruin to change corporate behavior.

      The decision by a three-judge panel of the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals was written by the always-entertaining Judge Richard Posner, a nominal conservative who last month angered Republicans by striking down Wisconsin’s anti-abortion law for masquerading as a women’s health measure.

    • MDA not officially classifying Eric Khoo's sex drama does not help nanny state image
      "The film was classified R21 uncut for the SGIFF. More leeway is given to film festivals as they play to a niche audience and have limited screenings."

    • Telstra Bans Swear Words From Text Messages Sent Through Its Network
      Carrier Telstra bars off sailor talk on voice-to-text messages from its network, replacing the F and C bombs of the English language with long dashes.

      Such censorship is not unprecedented, as Apple has been changing the F word to "duck" on preemptive text messages since the iPhones emerged. But the Australia-based carrier had bigger plans, completely blocking out expletives.

      Back in June 2012, Telstra banned certain words, and then in July 2013, the carrier added more to its growing list of naughty words, where more words are thrown in on a yearly basis.

      "A small number of offensive words are omitted from our voice to text translations. This practice has been in place for a number of years and is based on feedback from our customers," a Telstra spokesperson says.

    • Christian College President Slams Speech Censorship: 'College Is Not Day Care'
      The president of a Christian college in Oklahoma has condemned the rise of political correctness on college campuses and told students who seek to silence speech that offends them that they are "self-absorbed" and "need to grow up."

    • University President Delivers Tough Message to PC Students: School ‘Is Not a Safe Space’

    • Comment: Legal victory will stop the censorship of non-religious views in schools
      This week the High Court ruled in favour of three parents and their children who challenged the government over the exclusion of non-religious worldviews from the school curriculum as a result of the new Religious Studies GCSE.

      The Religious Education Council (REC) has naturally followed the legal proceedings extremely closely, and we have been clear that we fully support the court's ruling. Our efforts have always focused on the need to ensure the subject is as comprehensive, intellectually challenging, and as socially beneficial as possible, and we look forward to working with the Department for Education, as well as schools and teachers, to bring in the changes the ruling entails.

      For now though, I want to be very clear about why we support the judgement. With good religious education (RE) children can become skilled inter-cultural navigators, better able to understand and relate to their future neighbours, friends, work colleagues and fellow citizens. This means that a wide range of faiths and beliefs ought to be options for study within RE. Part of this means that young people should have the opportunity to learn about the large number of people who describe themselves as being of no religious belief.

    • Poland: Worrying implications of defamation through the criminal code
      The company, which is based in Warsaw, provides information and communication services to well-known clients, such as the major Polish bank Pekao. Jakimczyk’s questions pertained to discs of private client data that, according to his information, there was proof of a transaction of sale between the two parties. When Jakimczyk received a response from Qumak’s press office in late September, the denial of any wrongdoing on their part was followed swiftly by something rather unexpected: Qumak was now pressing charges against Jakimczyk for defamation under article 212 of the Polish penal code.

    • University 'safe space' policies stifle freedom of expression, warns human rights activist
    • The liberal racism faced by ex-Muslims

    • This article is guilty of spreading panic and disorder
      IN THE middle of August Zhao Shaolin, a retired Communist Party boss of Jiangsu province in eastern China, was carted away by the country’s anti-corruption commission. Nothing unusual there. Dozens of local party bosses have fallen foul of a national anti-bribery campaign. What was surprising were the charges levelled against him. These usually stress the vast wealth the accused is said to have squirrelled away by his or her nefarious activities. Mr Zhao’s crime, according to Beijing News, a party newspaper, was to flout party discipline by criticising government policies. Some people, Xie Chuntao of the Central Party School sniffed, think “they are cleverer than the Party, which cannot be allowed.”

      Mr Zhao was not the only one. In mid-October the anti-corruption commission arrested two serving provincial party chiefs, in Hebei near Beijing and Guangxi in the south. Their list of crimes also included criticising the party. On October 12th the Politburo approved a new edition of the party’s rules. It was, Xinhua, the state news agency, said, “the most complete and stringent code of conduct” in the history of the Communist Party. It bans party members from making “negative comments” or “irresponsible remarks” about policy. Members may debate issues—but only if they say nice things.

    • Top court to decide on CHP petition over Internet censorship
      Parliament on Feb. 5 of last year approved the government-backed Internet bill that has caused outrage in Turkey and has received heavy condemnation abroad, granting even more rights to the chief of the telecommunications body and raising the specter of censorship on the Internet as the government was trying to contain the fallout from a graft scandal that became public in 2013.

    • Battle Brewing in Quebec Over Online Gambling Censorship
    • Quebec Lottery’s Censorship Plan Receives More Legislative Support
      An Internet censorship plan championed by Québec’s government-run lottery agency, Loto-Québec, continues to be part of financial legislation providing the framework for the province’s 2016-17 fiscal budget. Language within Québec’s ongoing budget proposal includes a modification to the province’s existing Consumer Protection Act that would force most Canadian ISPs (Internet Service Providers) to block access to what would likely be a lengthy list of online-gambling websites.

    • Austrian Pirate Bay Blockade Censors Slovak Internet
      Many Slovak Internet subscribers have been unable to access The Pirate Bay in recent days due to an unintended consequence of an injunction handed down in an entirely different country. An Austrian blockade of The Pirate Bay spread to Slovakia because a local ISP uses a datacenter in Vienna for its DNS server.
    • Japanese government cancels visit from UN free speech representative
      The UN’s principal global monitor of freedom of expression, David Kaye, was due to visit Japan between 1 and 8 December. In mid-November, the Japanese government cancelled the trip.

      Kaye said of the cancellation: “The Japanese government indicated that relevant interlocutors would be preoccupied with the budget process. That was disappointing to hear, particularly since we had been organising a broad set of meetings with officials, civil society, academic experts, journalists and others.”

      During the visit, Kaye planned to address basic aspects of freedom of expression, including the public’s right to access information, the freedom and protection of independent media, online rights and restrictions on marginalised communities.

  • Privacy

    • New software watches for license plates, turning you into Little Brother
      We now live in a world where if you have an IP-enabled security camera, you can download some free, open-source software from GitHub and boom—you have a fully functional automated license plate reader (ALPR, or LPR).

      Welcome to the sousveillance state: the technology that was once was just the purview of government contractors a few years ago could now be on your own street soon.

    • NSA's shuttered program was 'a sacrificial lamb' in U.S. mass surveillance
      The change is "not going to be a big blow" to the NSA, says David Murakami Wood, the Canadian Research Chair in surveillance studies at Queen's University in Kingston, Ont.

      "The fact that they've allowed it to be cancelled probably suggests it's a bit of a sacrificial lamb."

    • Senate NSA bill would expand requirements of phone companies
      A new Senate bill would require phone companies to notify the government if a change is made in how customer records are stored. This comes as the NSA’s bulk data collection expires but calls to increase surveillance intensify following recent attacks.

    • Senate bill adds new fuel to NSA debate
    • Republican unveils new bill to stall NSA reforms
    • New legislation aims at stalling NSA reform

    • No, NSA Phone Spying Has Not Ended
      Instead, telecom companies will retain and access the data on their customers. The NSA may then seek warrants from the secretive courts created by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) in order to compel these companies to hand over pertinent information on terrorism suspects and affiliates. The requests are not done in bulk, but rather require “specific selectors” such as the phone number of an individual. The NSA then has up to 180-days to query the telecom companies for more data—on socially connected persons of interest, so-called one-to-two degree “hops” on their networks—before seeking a renewed authority from a FISA court.

    • No, NSA HASN’T Stopped Mass Spying On American Citizens
      WILLIAM BINNEY: The only thing that ended was the general warrants issued by the FISC [Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court] for companies to give all their call records to NSA for processing.
    • WATCH: Despite What You’ve Read, NSA Hasn’t Stopped Spying on You

    • Surprise! The NSA Is Still Spying On You
      The bulk phone records collection program was banned in the USA Freedom Act, a law that curbed some domestic spying. This program allowed the NSA to collect metadata from American citizens’ calls en masse. Now, instead of collecting phone metadata in an expansive dragnet, the USA Freedom Act requires the NSA to first make a “specific query,” like a name, or a device number.
    • The end of NSA’s phone-record dragnet? That’s marginal change.
      By all accounts, these are pretty good times for advocates of privacy rights in the face of creeping government surveillance. Edward Snowden’s whistle-blowing sent shockwaves across the international community about who knew what. Just last week, the NSA finally shut down its bulk telephone records collection, and it is no longer allowed to directly hold information about the phone calls of millions of U.S. citizens. Here in Canada, the Liberals took power, with promises to reform the previous government’s controversial Bill C-51.

    • NSA can still collect your phone records through legal loopholes
      Verizon and AT&T were both forced to hand over their records to the authorities on a rolling basis.

    • FBI won’t discuss how shuttered NSA program would have affected San Bernardino investigation
      "I won't answer, because we don't talk about the investigative techniques we use," Comey said Friday, according to the Associated Press. "I'm not going to characterize it."

    • NSA documents leaker Edward Snowden speaks in Park City
      The world's most famous -- or infamous -- leaker made his way to Utah Saturday evening.

      Edward Snowden spoke in Park City from an undisclosed location, over the Internet. He is presumed to be in Russia as he was granted asylum there in 2013 after leaking sensitive documents shedding light on secret government surveillance programs.

      Hundreds turned out to the Park City Institute to hear Snowden speak.
    • The next version of the web has a message for the NSA
      The language of the web is the Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP) and like a lot of really important technology it’s actually more than a little, um, unexciting.

      HTTP is maintained by the IETF (The Internet Engineering Task Force) and it’s so sensible and unexciting that it’s remained almost unchanged for about 25 years. In technology terms it’s a time capsule from the same era as Windows 3.1 (ask your Dad.)

    • Will the NSA Spy on COP21 Paris Climate Talks?
      The U.S. agency spied on foreign climate negotiators at the 2009 Copenhagen climate talks and funneled the information to U.S. delegates.

      As the Paris COP21 climate change talks begin Monday a question remains on the minds of many: Will the U.S. spy on its rivals and sabotage negotiations?

      This may seem farfetched, but it is exactly what National Security Agency documents, leaked by whistleblower Edward Snowden, revealed to have happened in 2009. The NSA spied on member states before and during the inconclusive Copenhagen talks, viewed as a failure by many for the member states’ inability to reach a meaningful and binding climate agreement.
    • Here’s how Larry Klayman celebrates victory — but then, maybe the NSA already knew?
      The photo is just another sign that Klayman is back in the game after a career of ups and downs since he first made a reputation suing the Clinton administration in the 1990s. Rather than declare victory in the NSA matter and move on, he’s doubling down. He says he’s going to ask Leon to award damages to the plaintiffs to compensate them for the constitutional violation. And — even as some politicians are calling for a return to the discarded NSA program in the wake of recent terrorist attacks — Klayman also plans to ask Leon to monitor the NSA to make sure the government follows the new, more restrictive law.

    • Google’s ‘Inbox’: Should Privacy Advocates Be Concerned?
      Google is getting ready to migrate all Gmail users to Inbox, which should be something of a concern for those worried about privacy, but no one seems to be noticing. The current efforts seem to be directed at users of the Gmail mobile app, but it’s my guess that desktop users of Gmail will be getting be getting the same treatment soon.

    • Let's Encrypt free digital certificate project opens doors for public beta
      Let’s Encrypt, the project offering free digital certificates for websites, is now issuing them more broadly with the launch of a public beta on Thursday.

      The beta label will eventually be dropped as the software they’ve developed is refined, wrote Josh Aas, executive director of the Internet Security Research Group (ISRG), which runs Let’s Encrypt.

      “Automation is a cornerstone of our strategy, and we need to make sure that the client works smoothly and reliably on a wide range of platforms,” he wrote.

      Digital certificates use the SSL/TLS (Secure Sockets Layer/Transport Layer Security) protocols to encrypt traffic exchanged between a user and a service, adding a higher level of privacy and security.
    • Will the Paris terror attacks push the French government to compromise data protection for security?
      On 13 November 2015, terrorists conducted simultaneous attacks at several locations in Paris, leaving more than 130 people dead. The French government responded by enacting a state of emergency, which allows the agencies of the government to search homes without warrants and block websites.

    • Millions of Internet Explorer users must update, or lose patches
      Millions of Internet Explorer users have just five weeks to upgrade to a newer browser before security patches dry up.
    • Talk: Mass surveillance and a crisis of social responsibility
      He will discuss ethical issues of mass surveillance activity carried out by the United States government as revealed by former CIA employee and NSA contractor Edward Snowden. Professor Rogaway asks why computer scientists, who developed the technology for mass data-gathering, have not more strongly condemned it.

    • BlackBerry pulls out of Pakistan after refusing the governments demands for unrestricted data access
      Even though Pakistan remains an important mobile market, BlackBerry has announced that they will be formally withdrawing from the country. This development has come about as a result of Pakistan’s government insisting that BlackBerry grant them backdoor access to encrypted services earlier this year.

      BlackBerry is a company that touts the value of security pretty vocally. The CEO even said that the BlackBerry Priv was given its name in-part because it was short for “Privacy.” In an era in which companies seem more than willing to fold on their values for financial gain, it’s encouraging to see BlackBerry’s unconditional refusal. The company has taken a firm stance on the side of their users’ personal privacy, and the Pakistani government wasn’t thrilled.
    • HTTP/2 opens every new connection it makes with the word ‘PRISM’
      British programmer and writer John Graham-Cumming has spotted something interesting in the opening protocol of any HTTP/2 connection: an array of explicitly formatted code which spells the word PRISM, in an apparent reference to the NSA’s primary program for mass-surveillance of the internet, as disclosed by Edward Snowden in 2013.

    • Editorial: Sen. Wyden wins his long struggle with the NSA
      Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden played a leading role over 10 years to bring the NSA’s secret operation into the open. In the wake of the NSA announcement last week, Sen. Wyden brought the recent terrorist attacks on Paris and Mali into the discussion. “After every such attack, politicians who would play to Americans’ fears call for liberty to be sacrificed in the name of security. I reject those calls. And as long as Americans continue to demand that their government protect both their security and their liberty, I am confident that our country can deal with these threats without sacrificing our most cherished rights and values.”
    • Edward Snowden, Deep Throat and the NSA
      The more you study Edward Snowden—what he actually did and did not do, and his concerns for our country—you have to admire his bravery. If you saw the Oscar award-winning documentary, CitizenFour, you understand the enormous sacrifice and risk. When you understand his military family background and his own military service, you shift again. And when you see his Twitter feeds, you understand he also has a quick sense of humor. I think we will come to view Edward Snowden as we once did Deep Throat or Daniel Ellsberg. We will discover we initially misjudged him and come to understand him as a remarkable patriot. He deserves amnesty and a return to the United States and there are increasing calls for this to happen from New York Times editorials to former Attorney General Eric Holder suggesting we re-consider bringing him home and suggesting to make a deal to do so.

    • NSA Whistleblower Edward Snowden to Headline Free State Project’s Liberty Forum
      Edward Snowden, the former CIA intelligence officer and NSA contractor who leaked information about illegal government surveillance in 2013, is coming to New Hampshire–live from Russia–during the Free State Project’s 9th annual Liberty Forum.

  • Civil Rights

    • [EFF] Join the 2015 Power Up Your Donation Campaign for 2× the Impact

    • WaPo Attacks Unions for Seeking Higher Wages for Their Members
      The piece starts out by acknowledging that the AFL-CIO opposes tax provisions and trade agreements (wrongly called free trade agreements — apparently Lane has not heard about the increases in patent and copyright protection in these pacts) that encourage outsourcing. He could have also noted that it has argued for measures against currency management and promoted labor rights elsewhere, also measures that work against outsourcing. And it would be appropriate to note in this context its support for measures that help the workforce as a whole, like Social Security, Medicare, unemployment insurance and the Affordable Care Act.

    • US must investigate Bush, aides in CIA torture, rights group says
      US President Barack Obama must investigate his predecessor George W. Bush and allies over the CIA's torture of terror suspects, or stand complicit in a government "cover-up," Human Rights Watch said Tuesday.

      In a scathing report, the international rights group decried the lack of prosecutions of those involved in the Central Intelligence Agency's secret program to torture detainees in the wake of the September 11, 2001 attacks.

      "While the program officially ended in 2009, the cover-up of these crimes appears to be ongoing," said the report, which argues there is enough evidence for the attorney general to order criminal probes.

    • Obama should probe Bush, others over CIA torture: rights group

    • In Pursuit of Investigation and Prosecution of CIA Torture Program Perpetrators
      President Barack Obama has walked away from pursuing those involved in the CIA’s torture program, but human rights advocates are demanding the administration take legal action against them.

      Obama and his top officials say there is not enough evidence to pursue prosecution of CIA agents and contractors or former members of the George W. Bush administration who authorized the secret renditions and torture of suspected terrorists.

      But Human Right Watch (HRW) argues “sufficient evidence exists” for Attorney General Loretta Lynch to carry out criminal investigations of “senior United States officials and others involved in the post-September 11 CIA program for torture, conspiracy to torture, and other crimes under U.S. law.” HRW says its new report provides evidence to support criminal charges against those responsible for state-sanctioned torture, and it discusses legal obligations to provide redress to victims of torture.

    • Interview: Torture and the CIA
      In the years after 9/11, the US basically abducted or were handed scores of men throughout the world, held them in secret locations, and tortured or otherwise mistreated them. Yet there’s been zero accountability for these crimes.

    • Cruz: 'America Does Not Need Torture to Protect Ourselves'

    • Why the CIA torture techniques aren't a reliable way of extracting information
      If Ant and Dec had read the “torture memos” released by Barack Obama in 2009, they might not find I’m a Celebrity . . . Get Me Out of Here! quite so funny. Food and sleep deprivation are standard fare for the CIA but one of the “enhanced interrogation techniques” under consideration was to place a suspected al-Qaeda terrorist “in a cramped confinement box with an insect”. Abu Zubaydah was believed to have a fear of insects. Being at close quarters with one was supposed to be a route to “breaking” him.

      That CIA torture techniques are also employed as entertainment on prime-time television is ironic: many of the CIA’s best ideas come from watching TV. Lieutenant Colonel Diane Beaver has said that staff at Guantanamo Bay watched 24 on cable while at the base, for instance – and that its maverick hero, Jack Bauer, “gave people lots of ideas”.
    • George W. Bush and Dick Cheney should face prosecution over CIA’s secret torture program, group says
    • Outspoken Miss World Canada denied entry to China
    • Chinese newspaper says banned Miss World contestant is aligned with 'hostile' forces
    • Miss World Canada Says China’s Censorship is ‘An Assault on Humanity’

    • Turkey: Index condemns killing of lawyer during press conference
      Elci, was briefly detained and questioned last month for saying during a live news program that the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, is not a terrorist organisation. According to The Guardian newspaper, he was charged soon after with making terrorist propaganda and was facing more than seven years in prison.
    • CIA torture, NSA spying will return
      The New York Times recently drew attention (Nov. 10) to the fact that Richard Burr (R-N.C.), chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, has succeeded in locking up – unread – in government vaults across Washington, from the Justice Department to the Pentagon, the full, classified, U.S. Senate report on the Central Intelligence Agency’s detention, interrogation, and torture program.

    • After Paris Attacks, Proposed French Law Would Block Tor and Forbid Free Wi-Fi
      After the recent Paris terror attacks, the French government is proposing to forbid and block the use of the Tor anonymity network, according to an internal document from the Ministry of Interior seen by French newspaper Le Monde.

      That document lays out two proposed pieces of legislation, one around the state of emergency, and the other concerning counter-terrorism.

      In the former, the French government is considering to “Forbid free and shared wi-fi connections” during a state of emergency. This comes from a police opinion included in the document: the reason being that it is apparently difficult to track individuals who use public wi-fi networks.

      The latter piece of legislation, meanwhile, says the government is considering “to block or forbid communications of the Tor network.” The legislation, according to Le Monde, could be presented as early as January 2016.
    • How Many Inmates Have Died in Sheriff Joe Arpaio's Jails? Who Knows, But it's a Big Number.
      Last week, Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio concluded a contempt of court hearing that revealed what we’ve always known about the old coot: his office engages in racial profiling, he thinks he’s above the law enough to ignore court orders, and he’ll use the power of his office, and the taxpayer’s coin, to investigate and harass his enemies—in this case a judge and his wife!

    • Unarmed man who lost quarter of his skull after being shot in the head by cop while he was out for a walk sues LAPD
      An unarmed man who lost a quarter of his skull after being shot by a Los Angeles police officer notified the city and police department on Wednesday that he plans to sue, claiming the shooting was part of a broad, disturbing pattern in the police force of the nation's second-largest city.

      Attorneys for Walter DeLeon, 49, filed the notice of claim in Los Angeles County Superior Court.
    • Lord Janner unfit to stand trial, judge rules
      Lord Janner is unfit to stand trial over allegations of child sexual abuse spanning three decades, a High Court judge has ruled.

      Mr Justice Openshaw told the Old Bailey the 87-year-old peer had "advanced and disabling dementia".

      Both prosecution and defence barristers had agreed at a previous hearing that Greville Janner was not well enough to take part in a criminal trial.

      Lord Janner is accused of 22 counts of sex offences against boys.

  • Internet/Net Neutrality

    • Net neutrality has its day in court – with lawyers, Christians and the Cheshire Cat
      Net neutrality is on trial, and everyone from white-shoe-firm lawyers to Christian internet activists showed up to watch oral arguments in the US Telecom Association v the FCC on Friday in a packed Washington DC courtroom, where an exasperated bailiff threatened to toss out reporters who wouldn’t stop using their phones to access the technology in question.

      From the moment in February when the FCC voted to reclassify internet providers as “common carriers”, paving the way for net neutrality protections, a bitter fight in the courtroom was inevitable.

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