Bonum Certa Men Certa

Links 17/1/2016: 4MLinux 16.0 Beta, Black Lab Linux 8 Alpha

GNOME bluefish



Free Software/Open Source

  • git outta here, GitHub
    What a relief! I just deleted my GitHub account. Life is already looking brighter. ’cause you know, GitHub is Facebook. And you don’t want a Facebook account.

  • Nobody is using your software project. Now what?
    Working with open source software is an amazing experience. The collaborative process around creation, refinement, and even maintenance, drives more developers to work on open source software more often. However, every developer finds themselves writing code that very few people actually use.

  • How I Stumbled Upon The Internet’s Biggest Blind Spot
    Open source infrastructure refers to all the tools that help developers build software. On a deep level, it includes physical things like servers, but closer to the surface, it also includes things like programming languages, frameworks, and libraries.

    If you’ve ever built an app before, maybe you used Rails, Django or Node.js. Maybe your app was written in Ruby or Python. Maybe it made use of something like jQuery or React. All of these projects are open source.

    There is no question that these developer tools are vital to startups and technology: we couldn’t build anything without them. There is also no business model in many cases. You couldn’t charge people to use Python, for example, any more than you could charge someone to speak English.

  • AI research lab releases code to help with speech recognition
    Yesterday, Baidu Research’s Silicon Valley AI Lab (SVAIL) released open-source code called Warp-CTC to GitHub. The goal is for this code to be used in the machine learning community.

    Warp-CTC is a tool that can plug into existing machine learning frameworks to speed up the development of artificial intelligence, and according to SVAIL, it will speed up development by 400x compared to previous versions.

  • Events

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • Thunderbird 38.5.1 Brings Fixes Only
        As you may know, Thunderbird is an open-source e-mail client and chat client developed by Mozilla. Among others, it has support for email addresses, newsgroup, news feed and chat (XMPP, IRC, Twitter) Client, managing multiple accounts. Also, it has support for different themes and its power can be extended by plugins.

      • Firefox to convert old YouTube Flash code to HTML5 Video
        Mozilla has added a feature to Firefox 46 that will convert old YouTube Flash code to HTML5 Video automatically under certain circumstances.

        When YouTube started out, Flash was the dominating technology used to stream video on the Internet, and the first player that YouTube made available to webmasters to embed videos on third-party sites used Flash exclusively.

        YouTube changed the code later on to reflect changes in streaming technologies. From a technical perspective, YouTube started to offer embed codes as iframes instead of objects.

  • SaaS/Big Data

    • Startup takes on Dropbox, Box, using cloud and local storage
      Right now, access to Infinit Drive and Infinit Cloud, the small-business and enterprise versions of the product, are restricted to invitations only, but it's possible to sign up for early access. The open source pieces haven't all been released yet, but the first of them have started to show up on Infinit's GitHub site.

    • An introduction to OpenStack clouds for beginners
      This year, SCaLE 14x attendees will have the opportunity to hear Anthony Chow speak on how to get started contributing to OpenStack.

      Anthony is network engineer with a passion for sharing and promoting technologies that enable community growth. He's currently working on Docker and OpenStack Magnum.

      In this interview, Anthony explains what OpenStack is, how it works with containers, and how an enterprise might want to use it.

    • OpenStack Foundation 2016 Directors Announced
      The OpenStack Foundation election of Individual Directors to the Board of Directors has now completed and the winning candidates have been announced.

    • Lessons learned (the hard way) doing DevOps at scale
      I had the chance to talk to Ticketmaster's Victor Gajendran who will be attending (and speaking) for the first time at SCaLE 14x this year, which is taking place on January 21 and 22 in Pasadena, California. He'll speak to attendees about how his company uses open source and how to empower your small teams to be part of a large, effective whole.

  • BSD


  • Openness/Sharing

    • Kiev tests open budget process
      Through this new initiative SocialBoost partnered with Open North, a Canadian company, which has developed a ready-to-use portal called Citizen Budget. This portal was adapted for the Kiev project.

    • Civil society plays a key role in policy shaping in Europe
      The main theme of this debate, organised by the NGO Support Centre, under the European U-Impact project (From Citizen Involvement to Policy Impact) was “Civil Society and the EU”. The U-Impact project basically gathers citizens’ views on EU policies and explores the relationship and engagement between civil society and EU.

    • Open Hardware


  • Mr Cameron, the renegotiation and evidence-based policy making
    The outcome of the British government’s attempt to renegotiate the UK’s terms of membership of the European Union and the referendum that will follow are highly uncertain but the renegotiation reveals quite a lot about David Cameron.

  • Celine Dion's brother Daniel dies two days after her husband
    The older brother of Canadian singer Celine Dion has died of cancer, two days after her husband also died.

    Daniel Dion, 59, died on Saturday near Montreal, a statement by the singer's spokeswoman said.

    Ms Dion's family paid tribute to the father-of-two, calling him "a gentle and reserved man of many talents".

  • Health/Nutrition

    • In 1993 Meeting, Hillary Clinton Acknowledged “Convincing Case” for Single-Payer
      Two doctors who met privately with Hillary Clinton during the 1993 health reform debate say she agreed that single-payer healthcare would be good for Americans. Their recollections raise questions about both the motive and the sincerity of Clinton’s recent assault on Democratic presidential rival Bernie Sanders for supporting such a system.

      Until Clinton’s pivot, the accepted Democratic view was that single-payer was the best solution in theory, but that it was politically unrealistic. Clinton’s new critiques, by contrast, are an attempt to make Sanders’s single-payer proposals sound costly and destructive.

    • Sanders' Courageous Stand for Universal Coverage
      The Clinton campaign just made a serious mistake.

      They sent Hillary and Bill Clinton’s daughter Chelsea out on behalf of her mother to bash Senator Bernie Sanders on the issue of health care.

      What’s so wrong with that? Don’t all candidates use family surrogates when and where they can? The Kennedys, for example, deployed a horde of kinfolk for Jack’s campaign for president, then Bobby’s, then Teddy’s.

    • This is how toxic Flint’s water really is
      The city of Flint, Mich., is in the midst of a water crisis several years in the making. The city opted out of Detroit's water supply and began drawing water from the Flint River in April 2014, part of a cost-saving move. Eighteen months later, in the fall of 2015, researchers discovered that the proportion of children with above-average lead levels in their blood had doubled.

    • This Bee-Killing Pesticide Is Terrible at Protecting Crops
      In 2011, agrichemical giants Monsanto and Bayer CropScience joined forces to sell soybean seeds coated with (among other things) an insecticide of the neonicotinoid family. Neonics are so-called systematic pesticides—when the coated seeds sprout and grow, the resulting plants take up the bug-killing chemical, making them poisonous to crop-chomping pests like aphids. Monsanto rivals Syngenta and DuPont also market neonic-treated soybean seeds.

      These products—buoyed by claims that the chemical protects soybean crops from early-season insect pests—have enjoyed great success in the marketplace. Soybeans are the second-most-planted US crop, covering about a quarter of US farmland—and at least a third of US soybean acres are grown with neonic-treated seeds. But two problems haunt this highly lucrative market: 1) The neonic soybean seeds might not do much at all to fight off pests, and 2) they appear to be harming bees and may also hurt other pollinators, birds, butterflies, and water-borne invertebrates.

      Doubts about neonic-treated soybean seeds' effectiveness aren't new. In 2014, the Environmental Protection Agency released a blunt preliminary report finding that "neonicotinoid seed treatments likely provide $0 in benefits" to soybean growers. But the agrichemical industry likes to portray the EPA as an overzealous regulator that relies on questionable data, and it quickly issued a report vigorously disagreeing with the EPA's assessment.

    • All Flint's children must be treated as exposed to lead
      In order to address the public health crisis in Flint, every Flint child under 6 years of age -- 8,657 children, based on an analysis of Census data -- should be considered exposed to lead.

      The direction came earlier this week from the doctor who forced the state to acknowledge Flint’s lead problem and the state itself.

      The exposure began in April 2014 after the city switched from using Detroit’s water system, which pumps water out of Lake Huron, to its own treatment plant, which drew water from the Flint River.

    • 'Ludicrous' as Flint Tells Residents: Pay for Poisoned Water or We'll Cut You Off
      Amid a crisis that has poisoned the water supply of an entire city, authorities in Flint, Michigan are under renewed fire on Friday for sending out shut-off notices to residents who are behind on paying their water bills.

      Slammed as "ludicrous, the move comes as Republican Governor Rick Snyder finally asked President Obama to step in and declare a federal state of emergency.

      Following a short holiday reprieve, Finance Director Jody Lundquist announced Wednesday that officials will resume sending an unspecified amount of shut-off notices to past-due accounts. According to Lundquist, the city already sent out 1,800 notices in November.

    • Bernie Sanders Calls For Michigan Governor To Resign Over Poisoned Water Scandal
      Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders urged Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder to step down in light of his state’s ongoing and fatal water crisis that has sickened thousands of residents and left more than 30,000 Flint, Michigan households with undrinkable tap water.

      “There are no excuses. The governor long ago knew about the lead in Flint’s water. He did nothing. As a result, hundreds of children were poisoned. Thousands may have been exposed to potential brain damage from lead. Gov. Snyder should resign,” Sanders said in a statement Saturday.

    • Russia's 'state sponsored doping' endangered athletes lives
      Sessions also focused on organizational issues that are necessary to quickly consider doping cases, investigating problems mentioned in the report by the World Anti-Doping Agency's (WADA) Independent Commission, collecting information about the location of athletes and comprehensive testing of Russian athletes before WADA restores the Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA), as well as educational and other measures necessary for introducing zero tolerance policy for doping in Russian athletics.

      Part one revealed state-sponsored doping in the country which resulted in them being suspended by the IAAF.

      Being generous, it seems officials weren't ignoring Russian doping but rather were seeking expedient ways of dealing with the large number of cases thrown up by the IAAF's "blood passport" anti-doping program before the 2012 London Games.

  • Security

    • Hacking Team’s Leak Helped Researchers Hunt Down a Zero-Day
      The vulnerability, which Microsoft called “critical” in a patch released to customers on Tuesday, would allow an attacker to infect your system after getting you to visit a malicious website where the exploit resides—usually through a phishing email that tricks you into clicking on a malicious link. The attack works with all of the top browsers except Chrome—but only because Google removed support for the Silverlight plug-in in its Chrome browser in 2014.


      In July 2015, a hacker known only as “Phineas Fisher” targeted the Italian surveillance firm Hacking Team and stole some 400 GB of the company’s data, including internal emails, which he dumped online. The hack exposed the company’s business practices, but it also revealed the business of zero-day sellers who were trying to market their exploits to Hacking Team. The controversial surveillance firm, which sells its software to law enforcement and intelligence agencies around the world—including to oppressive regimes like Sudan, Bahrain, and Saudi Arabia—uses zero-day exploits to help sneak its surveillance tools onto targeted systems.

    • Flexible, secure SSH with DNSSEC
      With version 6.2 of OpenSSH came a feature that allows the remote host to retrieve a public key in a customised way, instead of the typical authorized_keys file in the ~/.ssh/ directory. For example, you can gather the keys of a group of users that require access to a number of machines on a single server (for example, an LDAP server), and have all the hosts query that server when they need the public key of the user attempting to log in. This saves a lot of editing of authorized_keys files on each and every host. The downside is that it's necessary to trust the source these hosts retrieve public keys from. An LDAP server on a private network is probably trustworthy (when looked after properly) but for hosts running in the cloud, that’s not really practical.

  • Defence/Police/Secrecy/Aggression

    • They Make Cheney Look Like Chomsky: Cruz, Trump, Rubio and the Frightening Bellicosity of Today's GOP
      They want to "carpet bomb," "bomb the shit" out of them and make "sand glow." The GOP field somehow makes Cheney seem moderate.

    • U.S. Radically Changes Its Story of the Boats in Iranian Waters: to an Even More Suspicious Version
      When news first broke of the detention of two U.S. ships in Iranian territorial waters, the U.S. media — aside from depicting it as an act of Iranian aggression — uncritically cited the U.S. government’s explanation for what happened. One of the boats, we were told, experienced “mechanical failure” and thus “inadvertently drifted” into Iranian waters. On CBS News, Joe Biden told Charlie Rose, “One of the boats had engine failure, drifted into Iranian waters.”

    • After Me, the Jihad

      The West was then gearing up to use unrest in Libya as a pretext for military intervention and regime change. Gaddafi desperately tried to convey through Blair the folly of such a war, pleading that he was trying to defend Libya from Al Qaeda, which had set up base in the country.

    • US Foreign Policy Discussions Need a Colossal Dose of Humility
      According to an apocryphal Russian proverb, it’s easy to turn an aquarium into fish soup, but much harder to turn fish soup into an aquarium. The US political class has served up plenty of fish soup over the past decade, and much of it was created in the belief that each aquarium just wasn’t good enough without our help.

      A prime example of US-created fish soup would be Iraq. It’s a steaming bowl of it, and no amount of firepower is going to change that. Societal cohesion was destroyed, it’s not something that can be put back together through force of arms.

    • Thanks to Donald Trump, Police Brutality and Guns, the United States’ Reputation Is Plummeting
      Donald Trump’s bewildering popularity in the presidential race has been exceedingly hard to bear for many Americans, particularly those who belong to one or more of the communities that he openly disparages, like African-Americans and Muslim Americans.

      Yet if even some citizens wrestle to make sense of Trump’s rise to power, how do non-Americans view the strange state of politics in the world’s most powerful nation?

      While on a recent visit to Dubai, United Arab Emirates—where I was born and raised and where my parents still live—Trump’s name cropped up as a topic of conversation within the first few minutes of nearly every interaction I had, so I decided to gather a group of my friends together to answer that question.

      Dubai is home to myriad immigrant communities, and while the city of more than 2.4 million struggles with its own unique social problems, the United States remains hugely influential there when it comes to both pop culture and politics.

    • Implementation Day: Full Description From JCPOA Text
      As can be seen from the incredibly long and detailed list of actions Iran has taken to dismantle much of its nuclear technology, Implementation Day represents a remarkable movement away from any capability to produce a nuclear weapon. A devastating array of economic sanctions has been put into place by the West, and many of these are dropped on this historic occasion.

      Diplomacy has won.

    • GOP Debates Are Pure Hawk Without a Paul

      Former Texas Congressman Ron Paul was not the perfect antiwar candidate sent down from above, but you would be forgiven for thinking so if you compare the 2008 and 2012 presidential races to the 2016 one.

      Ron Paul was not without fault (early immigration fearmongering, the vote for the Afghanistan Authorization for Use of Military Force) but he was the rare politician who got better and more interested in peace and freedom the longer he stayed in office. The 2012 election was basically a victory lap for him, but one that involved the vital message of peace and nonintervention. There’s a reason that he’s so beloved, and that YouTube videos with titles that call Paul a seer for predicting more terrorist attacks on the US back in 1998 are amusingly common.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife

    • Why is the Guardian letting Shell fill its pages with dubious spin?
      Oil sponsorship is pretty controversial. Where companies like BP and Shell have paid to have their logos displayed in museums, art galleries and theatres, they have been met with a torrent of protest performances and artistic antipathy.

      Groups like BP or not BP, Liberate Tate, BP out of Opera and Art Not Oil have found numerous high profile and creative ways to challenge oil company sponsorship of institutions including the Royal Shakespeare Company, The British Museum, the Tate and Tate Modern, the Science Museum, the Royal Opera House, the National Portrait Gallery, the Edinburgh Festival and the Louvre.

    • Things Just Got Even Worse For Coal
      About 40 percent of all US coal extraction takes place on federal land, much of that in Wyoming, the nation's top coal producer. For years, environmentalists have complained that the coal industry enjoys royalty rates much lower than offshore oil or other publicly owned fossil fuels. Those low rates make it cheaper for coal companies to operate and may also be a raw deal for the public that has to deal with the impacts, from local environmental degradation to global climate change. While offshore oil companies typically pay a royalty rate of about 18 percent, Jewell said, the rate for coal is only 8-10 percent. A Government Accountability Office report in 2014 found that undervalued coal leases cost the US Treasury nearly $1 billion per year in lost revenue.

    • Coal Ash Wastewater Will Be Dumped Into Virginia Rivers
      Millions of gallons of treated wastewater from coal ash ponds can be disposed in two major Virginia rivers — one a tributary of the Potomac River — the Virginia Water Control Board ruled Thursday.

      The decision comes as some residents and environmentalists questioned the stringency of permits that allow Dominion Virginia Power to release wastewater with some levels of arsenic, lead, copper, and other substances into nearby waterways rich in wildlife. Wastewater will come from the Possum Point Power Plant located by Quantico Creek, and the Bremo Power Plant located by the James River.

    • 22 Mind-Blowing Catastrophes That Are Just A Matter Of Time

    • Asia is imperiled by COP21’s climate cop-out
      The nations of the world gathered at the Paris Climate Conference (COP21) last month to come to an agreement on the urgent mission of reducing greenhouse gas emissions. However, all they produced was an attractive vision statement that is more sham than solution.

      It is imperative that the world invests significantly and quickly in climate mitigation strategies to reduce the human and economic cost of climate change, which is where COP21 fell short. The vague wording of the final declaration gives too much wiggle room for nations to avoid painful choices.

      “This agreement is a great escape for the big polluters, and a poisoned chalice for the poor,” concludes Asad Rehman from the Global Campaign to Demand Climate Justice. “We’ve got some warm words about temperature levels, but no concrete action.”


      Indonesia is also in the process of increasing harmful emissions and pollutants as it develops. Anyone visiting the main cities on the island of Java will come away convinced that Indonesia is zooming toward environmental disaster, while its destruction of rainforest through the deliberate setting of fires to clear land in Sumatra and Kalimantan for palm oil plantations is devastating the environment and subjecting citizens of Singapore and Malaysia to high levels of unhealthy smoke. Indonesia already emits more carbon dioxide per capita than India.

  • Finance

    • Whiny Ragequitting
      I characterized Mike Hearn’s farewell essay as a ‘whiny ragequit’. I did this because it is, well, a whiny ragequit. He attempted a hostile takeover of Bitcoin with Bitcoin-XT, and now that he’s predictably been made to feel like persona non grata in Bitcoin development he’s throwing a tantrum on his way out.

      There are of course real howlers in Hearn’s essay which I can explain, although truth be known I shouldn’t have to. There is overwhelming alignment among people doing Bitcoin development on the path forward. The popular perception of internal division is caused by having a camp consisting of Mike Hearn, Jeff Garzik, and Gavin Andresen who are doing a good job of whipping up popular support and talking to the press. They have a simplistic plan which appeals to people who don’t know any better or want to be told that technical problems can be made to magically go away with a simple fix. On the other side are the people doing actual development, who aren’t particularly good at talking to the press or whipping up support on reddit and have a plan which requires real engineering work moving forwards.

    • ‘Bitcoin Has Failed’, Says Lead Developer Who Just Quit
      Once again Bitcoin has been declared dead. This time, the announcement has come from a prominent developer Mike Hearn who just quit the project. In a long blog post on Medium, he called Bitcoin an ‘experiment’ that has now failed.

    • BTC dev: 'Strangling' the blockchain will kill Bitcoin
      The destiny of Bitcoin, like that of Apollo 13, shall never be realised, at least according to one of the cryptocurrency's most well-known developers, who has announced that "the experiment has failed".

      Mike Hearn was a senior software engineer at Google up until 2014, when he left to focus his full-time attention on Bitcoin development. In a blog post on Thursday, Hearn announced he would longer be taking part in Bitcoin development and had sold all of his coins.

    • Walmart to Close 269 Stores, Most of Them in the United States

    • Walmart to shutter 269 stores, with most located in the US
      The retail giant announced it is working to transfer 10,000 US employees to nearby stores, as CEO said closings are ‘necessary to keep the company strong’

  • PR/AstroTurf/Lobbying

    • Hillary Clinton: Israel First
      Although the United States is still ten months from its next exercise in electoral futility, most polls do not indicate what former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is most anxious to see: a runaway victory for her candidacy. It is a good sign that, despite the fact that she has no real contrasting opponent on the Democratic side, the coronation she expected isn’t going to happen.

    • The Good, Bad and Ugly in Oregon Standoff Coverage
      Unraveling the Gordian knot of media issues in the Oregon standoff between federal authorities and a Patriot/Militia alliance of building occupiers is a daunting task. Some journalists have written excellent, thoughtful articles, and some have wasted wood pulp and bandwidth. Most early reporting sat between those extremes.

    • Trump's Muslim Ban is a Vile Joke That GOP Condenders Don't Have the Guts to Take On
      You obviously can’t try and explain such intricacies to a nasty hare-brain who trucks in inflammatory bromides. So what do you do? Condemn him? Ignore him? The first would be the most honorable course and the second understandable. But what the GOP luminaries actually did – i.e. sing and dance to Trump’s tune – was neither. The only exception was Jeb Bush.

    • Review: Michael Bay's 13 Hours Is A Coded Message To Benghazi Conspiracy Theorists
      Shortly before Michael Bay's latest movie, 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi, hit theaters, The Hollywood Reporter published a long report on how the film had been carefully marketed to conservative pundits. In return, the film was praised as "riveting" and "extraordinary" by people the studio could use to validate the movie to their hoped-for audience.

    • How Corporations and Politicians Use Numbers to Lie — and How Not to Be Fooled
      Americans, as P.T. Barnum once noted, are not all that difficult to fool, and our nation’s somewhat weak math skills don’t help. A Pew Research Center report issued last year, which studied test results of 15-year-olds, ranked the United States 35th in the world in math. Not only has this weakness in understanding numbers created opportunities for mass exploitation by Big Pharma and other industries, it has led to needless and mostly unwarranted fear. While Americans don’t understand math, be assured that corporations do, and they happily use it to mislead and obfuscate in the name of selling their products.

  • Censorship

    • Letter: Censorship can deny all opinion
      Tears flow down my cheeks as I read of the torture some readers go through when they read Thomas Sowell’s weekly column. Their pleading for The Columbian to stop carrying his column tears at my heart. The anguish the writers go through detailing point by point of where they disagree with him is almost too much to bear.

    • Is The Internet Evolving Away From Freedom of Speech?
      Yesterday Motherboard published a fascinating look back at how Twitter’s rules have evolved over the past decade and how its own experiences as flag bearer of the social media revolution have influenced and changed the accepted wisdom of the juxtaposition of freedom of speech and commercial reality. From its founding principles that guided the site through the end of last year that enshrined “because of these principles, we do not actively monitor and will not censor user content except in limited circumstances” to its new rules, published last month that clarify “there are some limitations on the type of content and behavior that we allow,” Twitter has evolved along with the web itself.

    • How Twitter quietly banned hate speech last year
      But that wasn't all. More links to outside documents appeared in the company rules. In August, Twitter clarified that it would include "indirect threats" under its definition of "hateful conduct." It would also censor people who "incited" harassment, for example by urging their followers to send harassing messages to another user.

    • My Experience With the Great Firewall of China

      When I recently visited China for the first time, as an InfoSec professional I was very curious to finally be able to poke at the Great Firewall of China with my own hands to see how it works and how easy it is evade. In short I was surprised by:

      Its high level of sophistication such as its ability to exploit side-channel leaks in TLS (I have evidence it can detect the "TLS within TLS" characteristic of secure web proxies)

      How poorly simple Unix computer security tools fared to evade it

      1 of the top 3 commercial VPN providers uses RSA keys so short (1024 bits!) that the Chinese government could factor them

    • Censorship still works — just not the way you think
      But top-down approaches don’t work so well when anyone can get online and fight back. Then-Prime Minister Recep Tayyip ErdoÄŸan was widely ridiculed for the heavy-handed YouTube ban. Similar backfires occurred in 2010 when WordPress was blocked in Venezuela, and in China the same year when a man with political connections tried to censor news of his hit-and-run killing of a college student. Egyptian authorities turned off the whole country’s internet during 2011 protests there, but it didn’t save President Mubarak. The old ways do not work as well anymore. Effective censorship is done not by deletion, but by confusion.

  • Privacy

    • Apple has patented a way to track your digital 'skeleton' using a camera
      Apple has been granted a patent for software that can work out information about a person's "skeleton" by looking at it through Microsoft Kinect-style hardware.

      Microsoft Kinect is a hardware accessory for the Xbox that uses cameras to the track movements of people in the room, helping control a video game.

    • Why is Apple starting to patent light fittings?
      Apple has been granted a patent for the ceiling lighting system it has developed for its new-look stores in a move that has again raised the issue of the company’s intentions in the lighting market.

    • Theresa May's snooping defence remains inherently contradictory
      The UK government doesn't want backdoors to encrypted messages. But it wants companies to decrypt messages on demand anyway.

      That apparently contradictory policy remains at the heart of the Investigatory Powers Bill, Home Secretary Theresa May has told MPs.

      May, who is overseeing the creation of the IP Bill and saw similar plans blocked in 2012, told a group of MPs and Lords that companies will be required to remove electronic protection on messages and information when a warrant is issued.

    • No, the European Court of Human Rights did NOT just greenlight spying on employees
      Reports that say the European Court of Human Rights ruled bosses can peek into their employees' personal communications are hogwash.

    • German data surveillance includes Finland
      According to leaked German intelligence documents, German intelligence agency BND monitored phone calls and possibly Internet traffic to and from Finland in the 2000s -- possibly at the behest of the American security agency, the NSA.

    • FISC Still Sitting on Government Proposal for EFF Data
      When last we checked in with the new-and-improved post USA Freedom Act FISA Court, amicus Preston Burton had helped the Court finish off the Section 215 dragnet with a strong hand, in part by asking a bunch of questions that should have been asked 9 years earlier. And in a reply to the government (the reply was released belatedly), Burton made an argument that led first to a hearing on the issue and then a briefing order for ways the government might stipulate to something in the EFF lawsuits so as to permit the FISC to lift the protection order requiring all Americans’ phone records to be kept indefinitely.

  • Civil Rights

    • Laura Carlsen on the Arrest of ‘El Chapo,’ Omar Shakir on Closing Guantanamo

    • What’s Your Threat Score?
      Police have found a new way to legally incorporate surveillance and profiling into everyday life. Just when you thought we were making progress raising awareness surrounding police brutality, we have something new to contend with. The Police Threat Score isn’t calculated by a racist police officer or a barrel-rolling cop who thinks he’s on a TV drama; it’s a computer algorithm that steals your data and calculates your likelihood of risk and threat for the fuzz.

    • First Member Of Bundy Militia Arrested
      The first members of the militia illegally occupying a federal building in Oregon have been arrested. The occupation has gone on for nearly two weeks, costing the state more than $133,000 per day.

      Two members of the militia were finally arrested when they took federal vehicles stolen from the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge and drove them to a local Safeway.

    • America Is a Dystopian Hellhole and Don't You Forget It
      And the surprise? There's nothing on this list from Ted Cruz. He had plenty of criticisms of Obama, but I looked at everything he said last night and there was really no hint of America going to hell in a handbasket. I didn't expect that, but I'll bet it's deliberate. Maybe he knows something the rest of field doesn't?

    • Poor and Seeking Justice in Louisiana? Get in Line.
      Taking aim at Louisiana's "chronic underfunding" of its public defender system—which has forced at least four parishes in the state to create "waiting lists" for appointed counsel—the American Civil Liberties Union and the ACLU of Louisiana filed a class-action lawsuit Thursday evening on behalf of criminal defendants in Orleans Parish who are unable to afford an attorney.

      "So long as you're on the public defender waiting list in New Orleans, you're helpless," said Brandon Buskey, staff attorney with the ACLU's Criminal Law Reform Project. "Your legal defense erodes along with your constitutional rights."

      What's more, he added in an op-ed published Friday, "The people the public defender is making wait in line are most at risk in our justice system: usually poor, often a person of color, and facing severe sentences. [T]hese are the people who most need the public defender's help investigating the state's case against them and quickly uncovering favorable evidence before it is lost."

    • Justice Has a Waiting List in New Orleans

    • Terrorism In Europe is Less Common and Less Deadly Than in the Recent Past -- And Doesn't Justify Expanded Repressive Surveillance
      International security researcher: "Western Europe is safer now than it has been for decades and is far safer than most other parts of the world."

    • Dr. King’s legacy still relevant

    • server seized again by German prosecutor, service moves to Romania's Vincent Canfield said that he had initially chosen a German data host because the country has a reputation for "good data privacy laws."

      "Of course, though the facts of the case are yet to be seen since no one in Germany is talking to us, I will definitely never host anything in Germany ever again," he told Ars in an encrypted chat.

      The same Zwickau authorities previously seized one of's hard drives in late December 2015. That first seizure came shortly after was reportedly used to send a bogus bomb threat e-mail from "" to several school districts in the United States, which led to the closure of all schools in the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD). The New York City Department of Education, however, dismissed the e-mail as an obvious hoax. (The LAUSD has refused to provide Ars a copy of this original message under the California Public Records Act, a decision that we have appealed.)

      "We live in an age where anonymous messages can be sent with extreme ease." Because the novelty e-mail host was configured as a RAID1 (mirrored) setup, the e-mail service continued operating until Friday. It is unclear why there was a weeks-long delay between the first and second seizure.

    • The report which could destroy Britain’s immigration prisons
      Entrance to healthcare, The Verne Immigration Removal Centre (HMIP)

      The Home Office never wanted this report. It was only after a string of stories about abusive guards and sexual attacks that Stephen Shaw’s inquiry into Britain’s immigration detention centres was even commissioned.

      Even then, they tried to narrow its remit. It was limited to assessing detainees’ welfare and there was to be no discussion about the principle of detention itself.

      As if that weren’t restrictive enough, officials also didn’t want Shaw, a former prisons ombudsman, addressing the issue of how long detainees are held. Under the current system, they never know how long they’ll be imprisoned. It could be hours or it could be years. That uncertainty can sometimes drive them mad. It is a uniquely bureaucratic form of mental torture.

    • What Accounts for the Saudi Regime’s Hysterical Belligerence? The Agony of Death

      The Saudi rulers find themselves in a losing race against time, or history. Although in denial, they cannot but realize the historical reality that the days of ruling by birthright are long past, and that the House of Saud as the ruler of the kingdom by inheritance is obsolete.

      This is the main reason for the Saudi’s frantically belligerent behavior. The hysteria is tantamount to the frenzy of the proverbial agony of a prolonged death. It explains why they react so harshly to any social or geopolitical development at home or in the region that they perceive as a threat to their rule.

      It explains why, for example, they have been so intensely hostile to the Iranian revolution that terminated the rule of their dictatorial counterpart, the Shah of Iran, in that country. In the demise of the Shah they saw their own downfall.

    • 12-year-old girl suspended because she lent her inhaler to a gasping classmate
      A 12-year-old honor student from Texas got suspended from school for giving her asthama inhaler to another girl who was wheezing and gasping in gym class. She could also be tranferred to an "alternative school" for up to 30 days. The girl told Fox 4 News she feels the punishment is not fair. “I was just trying to save her life. I didn't think I was trying to do anything bad,” she said.

    • Garland girl suspended, potential alternative school time for sharing inhaler

    • Apple Shrugs Off Diversity Push, Calling It ‘Unduly Burdensome’
      Apple’s board and senior management teams are dominated by white men. But its leadership still feels that speeding up efforts to change that makeup are “unduly burdensome and not necessary.”

      Antonio Avian Maldonado, II, one of the company’s shareholders, has put forward a proposal that would force the company’s board to adopt an “accelerated recruitment policy” for diverse senior management and board seat positions, “bodies that presently fails [sic] to adequately represent diversity (particularly Hispanic, African-American, Native-American and other people of colour).” By Apple’s own count, the company’s leadership team is 72 percent male and 63 percent white, while it’s just 6 percent Hispanic and 3 percent black. Of the eight people on its board, just two are women and only two are people of color.

    • The FBI’s Two-Pronged Investigation of Hillary Clinton
      Later, as a member of a secret Presidential committee to investigate the CIA’s view of the Soviet Union’s ability to withstand an arms race, I had very high clearances as the committee had subpoena power over the CIA. If the Kremlin had had access to the top secret documents, all the Kremlin would have learned is that the CIA had a much higher opinion of the capability of the Soviet economy than did the Kremlin.

      Distinguished law professors have concluded that the US government classifies documents primarily in order to hide its own mistakes and crimes. We see this over and over. The US government can escape accountability for the most incredible mistakes and the worse crimes against the US Constitution and humanity simply by saying “national security.”

    • Saudi Arabia’s foreign affairs minister Adel al-Jubeir urges Britain to ‘respect’ the kingdom’s use of the death penalty
      Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister has urged Britain to “respect” his country’s use of the death penalty, two weeks after the oil-rich kingdom executed 47 people in one day.

      Adel al-Jubeir, responding to a question over the kingdom’s “terrible image problem”, put to him by Channel 4 News’ Jonathan Rugman, said: “Well on this issue we have a fundamental difference. In your country, you do no execute people, we respect it. In our country the death penalty is part of our laws and you have to respect this as it is the law, part of the law, in the United States and other countries.”

    • A Few Keystrokes Could Solve the Crime. Would You Press Enter?
      The discovery would surely help in the prosecution of the laptop’s owner, tying him to the crime. But a junior prosecutor has a further idea. The private document was likely shared among other conspirators, some of whom are still on the run or unknown entirely. Surely Google has the ability to run a search of all Gmail inboxes, outboxes, and message drafts folders, plus Google Drive cloud storage, to see if any of its 900 million users are currently in possession of that exact document. If Google could be persuaded or ordered to run the search, it could generate a list of only those Google accounts possessing the precise file — and all other Google users would remain undisturbed, except for the briefest of computerized “touches” on their accounts to see if the file reposed there.

  • Internet/Net Neutrality

    • Why Americans Should Pay Attention to What Facebook Is Doing in India
      If you live in India, or happen to have visited in the past month, you probably noticed the seemingly-ubiquitous advertising for something called Free Basics. It's what you might call a full-court press: full-page ads in newspapers, billboards, and movie theater trailers. Also, if you were to log into Facebook, you'd be presented with an ad (and possibly if you were in the US, too).

      The first thing to understand is that Free Basics is Facebook, and Facebook is Free Basics, and they're both basically Perhaps more accurately, if expressed in matryoshka dolls, Free Basics is inside which is inside Facebook. First, Facebook launched the initiative, which covers various projects aimed at spreading internet access to developing countries. One of the first projects was a free service that offers limited access to the internet, including ad-free Facebook and other sites. Then, in September, Facebook rebranded that service from to Free Basics.

    • outrageous roaming fees
      Unexpected roaming fees are the worst. You’re just cruising along, having a jolly old time, and then boom. $20 per megabyte??? Should have read the fine print. Of course, if you had known to read the fine print, you probably would have already known about the roaming fees, and therefore not needed to read the fine print. And so it goes, in life and in ssh.

      What, ssh has roaming??? Should have read the fine print. The Qualys Security Advisory is more than thorough. Now that we’ve read the fine print, what can we do differently?

    • 'Poor internet for poor people': India's activists fight Facebook connection plan

      India is having its internet uprising, and many western activists can’t figure out what to do about it.

      Since the spring of 2015, Indian activists have built ferocious momentum against Facebook’s bid to take charge of the nation’s internet through a program called Free Basics.

      Formerly called “Internet Zero,” Free Basics’s pitch has been: we’ll get “the next billion internet users” (that is, poor people in developing nations) connected by cutting deals with local phone companies. Under these deals, there will be no charge for accessing the services we hand-pick. We will define the internet experience for these technologically unsophisticated people, with our products at the centre and no competition. It’s philanthropy!

  • DRM

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Trademarks

      • Yosemite to Rename Several Iconic Places
        Can a private company trademark public property? That's the question the feds are scrambling to answer after a longtime concessionaire in Yosemite claimed rights to the names of some of the park's most iconic locations.

    • Copyrights

      • Summary of ‘Cinematic Bricoleurs’ Remix Conference, King’s College, London (Jan.2016)
        After tea, a panel was assembled for a Q&A session, featuring Prof. Charlotte Wealde, Julia Reda (Pirate Party MEP), Elizabeth Gibson (BBC), Richard Misek, Dan Herbert and myself, chaired by Helen Kennedy. The focus of the panel was ‘the currently shifting sands of territory specific intellectual property legislation, set against the wider backdrop of the global digital economy.’ Each panelist discussed their own position in relation to this issue, as well as suggesting where the leading edge is in terms of influencing changes to current IP legislation and what needs to happen to make those changes. From the floor, questions were fielded in relation to the identity and personality of the author with regard to moral rights and individual self-expression, as well as the challenge of identifying the most important issues and problems in this debate. Some of the answers yielded genuine insights, such as when Julia Reda described how recent attempts to change the EUCD to allow greater freedoms for transformative works were met with great resistance, on the grounds that such exemptions would only serve to benefit large US tech companies. It was suggested that the gathering of evidence and lots of different examples of remix should be prioritized to assist with the changing of copyright legislation and to support the case for such changes. A number of times during the discussion, reference was made to Christian Marclay and especially his found footage work ‘The Clock’ (2010), which was hailed as a superb example of the form.

      • Croatian cake pirates threatened with lawsuits
        As Harlan Ellison once said about Disney, "Nobody fucks with The Mouse." Even if you live in Zagreb, Croatia, the long hand of The Mouse can reach in and change your birthday party plans. That's what several bakers in Zagreb discovered when they received cease-and-desist letters warning them to stop making cakes featuring popular Disney characters from Star Wars, Frozen, and more.

        According to Croatian paper Jutarnji, the letters came from a law firm representing the Zagreb chain Fun Cake Factory, which has an exclusive license to make Disney-themed cakes via its partnership with British confectioner Finsbury Food Group. Ana Marcelić, a local Zagreb confectioner who received one of the cease-and-desist letters, told the paper it would be a "huge loss" for her financially and difficult to explain to customers requesting Disney-themed cakes.

      • Pastry Shops Targeted Over Copyright Infringing “Star Wars” and “Minion” Cakes

        Pastry shops in Croatia are receiving legal threats over their use of popular cartoon and movie characters on children's birthday cakes. Baking cakes with a Star Wars or Minions theme is off-limits, as a local pastry chain has secured the rights from copyright owners.

      • Don’t Terrorize The Public Over Piracy, Putin’s Adviser Says

        The man just appointed as Vladimir Putin's key adviser on Internet related affairs has suggested that copyright holders should consider the state of the economy before being aggressive with the public. Speaking on local TV, Herman Klimenko says the time is not right for "terrorizing" citizens over piracy.

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