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Links 15/2/2016: Zorin OS 11 Lite and Business, Meizu Pro 5 Ubuntu

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  • Windows 10 calls home a lot; Russia hikes tech tax and intends to switch to Linux
    When it comes to high tech, American companies dominate the Russian market and, perhaps not surprisingly, that doesn’t site well with the Russian government which would prefer to see homegrown offerings such as Yandex and get more market traction. The consequence, according to Bloomberg, is a plan by the Russian government to increase the taxes the American tech giants by 18 percent.

  • Unixstickers sent me a package!
    There's an old, popular saying, beware geeks bearing gifts. But in this case, I was pleased to see an email in my inbox, from, asking me if I was interested in reviewing their products. I said ye, and a quick few days later, there was a surprise courier-delivered envelope waiting for me in the post. Coincidentally - or not - the whole thing happened close enough to the 2015 end-of-the-year holidays to classify as poetic justice.

    On a slightly more serious note, Unixstickers is a company shipping T-shirts, hoodies, mugs, posters, pins, and stickers to UNIX and Linux aficionados worldwide. Having been identified one and acquired on the company's PR radar, I am now doing a first-of-a-kind Dedoimedo non-technical technical review of merchandise related to our favorite software. So not sure how it's gonna work out, but let's see.

  • Linux goes to Washington: How the White House/Linux Foundation collaboration will work
    No doubt by now you've heard about the Obama Administration's newly announced Cybersecurity National Action Plan (CNAP). You can read more about it on here and here.

    But what you may not know is that the White House is actively working with the Linux and open source community for CNAP. In a blog post Jim Zemlin, the executive director of the Linux Foundation said, “In the proposal, the White House announced collaboration with The Linux Foundation’s Core Infrastructure Initiative (CII) to better secure Internet 'utilities' such as open-source software, protocols and standards.”

  • Why Linux?
    Linux may inspire you to think of coders hunched over their desks (that are littered with Mountain Dew cans) while looking at lines of codes, faintly lit by the yellow glow of old CRT monitors. Maybe Linux sounds like some kind of a wild cat and you have never heard the term before. Maybe you have use it every day. It is an operating system loved by a few and misrepresented to many.

  • These 3 things are trying to kill Linux containers
    For nearly two years, Linux containers have dominated the world of enterprise IT, and for good reason — among others, they take on issues that virtualization simply cannot within application development and computing at scale and allow for the enterprise world to truly embrace concepts like devops and microservices (the Service Oriented Architecture dream from years gone by). That sound you hear is IT vendors stampeding towards the container bandwagon, but, as with every emerging tech trend, this isn’t always a good thing, as not everyone is walking the walk, regardless of what the business might actually say.

  • Desktop

  • Kernel Space

    • Linux kernel bug delivers corrupt TCP/IP data to Mesos, Kubernetes, Docker containers
      The Linux Kernel has a bug that causes containers that use veth devices for network routing (such as Docker on IPv6, Kubernetes, Google Container Engine, and Mesos) to not check TCP checksums. This results in applications incorrectly receiving corrupt data in a number of situations, such as with bad networking hardware. The bug dates back at least three years and is present in kernels as far back as we’ve tested. Our patch has been reviewed and accepted into the kernel, and is currently being backported to -stable releases back to 3.14 in different distributions (such as Suse, and Canonical). If you use containers in your setup, I recommend you apply this patch or deploy a kernel with this patch when it becomes available. Note: Docker’s default NAT networking is not affected and, in practice, Google Container Engine is likely protected from hardware errors by its virtualized network.

    • Performance problems
      Just over a year ago I implemented an optimization to the SPI core code in Linux that avoids some needless context switches to a worker thread in the main data path that most clients use. This was really nice, it was simple to do but saved a bunch of work for most drivers using SPI and made things noticeably faster. The code got merged in v4.0 and that was that, I kept on kicking a few more ideas for optimizations in this area around but that was that until the past month.

    • Linux 4.5-rc4
      It's Valentine's day, so here I am, making a valentine for everybody in the form of the usual rc release.

      Things look fairly normal - there's some pending and yet unexplained problem with some of the VM changes in this release cycle (the transparent huge-page cleanups in particular), but at least for now it seems to be s390-specific, so it shouldn't hold up testing for anybody else.

    • Linus Torvalds Announces a Valentine's Day Linux Kernel 4.5 Release Candidate 4
      Another week has passed and it's once again Sunday afternoon here in the US, which means that Linus Torvalds has prepared yet another RC (Release Candidate) build of the upcoming Linux 4.5 kernel.

    • Linux 4.5-rc4 Is A Valentine's Day Kernel
      Linus Torvalds has announced the release today of the Linux 4.5-rc4 kernel.

      Linux 4.5-rc4 remains rather a normal release and comes with a number of AMDGPU DRM fixes, Btrfs fixes, audio tweaks, and more.

    • Linux Kernel 3.2.77 LTS Has Crypto, x86, and CIFS Improvements, Updated Drivers
      Linux kernel maintainer and developer Ben Hutchings was happy to announce this past weekend the release and immediate availability for download and update of the seventy-seventh maintenance build of the long-term supported Linux 3.2 kernel.

    • New Open Source Project Offers IO Services Framework for Network and Storage Software
      The newly launched (“Fido”) initiative is an open source project to provide an IO services framework for the next wave of network and storage software. The project is also announcing the availability of its initial software and formation of a validation testing lab.

    • Graphics Stack

      • Compute Shader Code Begins Landing For Gallium3D
        Samuel Pitoiset began pushing his Gallium3D Mesa state tracker changes this morning for supporting compute shaders via the GL_ARB_compute_shader extension.

        Before getting too excited, the hardware drivers haven't yet implemented the support. It was back in December that core Mesa received its treatment for compute shader support and came with Intel's i965 driver implementing CS.

      • Libav Finally Lands VDPAU Support For Accelerated HEVC Decoding
        While FFmpeg has offered hardware-accelerated HEVC decoding using NVIDIA's VDPAU API since last summer, this support for the FFmpeg-forked libav landed just today.

        In June was when FFmpeg added support to its libavcodec for handling HEVC/H.265 video decoding via NVIDIA's Video Decode and Presentation API for Unix interface. Around that same time, developer Philip Langdale who had done the FFmpeg patch, also submitted the patch for Libav for decoding HEVC content through VDPAU where supported.

      • More Nouveau GL4 Feature Patches Published

      • It Looks Like AMD Will Support FreeSync With Their New Linux Display Stack
        While NVIDIA has long supported G-SYNC on Linux as their adaptive sync technology for eliminating screen tearing, AMD hasn't supported their FreeSync tech via their open or closed-source Linux drivers. Fortunately, it's looking like that will change.

      • Got tearing with proprietary NVIDIA? Try this.
        If you're using a reasonably modern NVIDIA graphics card on your Linux box with the proprietary driver, there's a fair chance you may encounter that nasty thing called 'screen tearing'. There is a little setting worth trying in NVIDIA's blob driver called 'ForceCompositionPipeline' that can severely reduce tearing to a minimum, perhaps even completely. Here's how to do it.

      • R600g+SI Dota 2 Benchmarks With Mesa 11.2, Linux 4.5 Show Open Driver Progress
        With now having a workaround for Dota 2 for my benchmarking needs, here are some benchmarks finally of this popular multiplayer online battle arena under Linux when using the R600g and RadeonSI Gallium3D drivers with the latest Linux 4.5 and Mesa 11.2 components.

      • Prevent Horizontal Tearing for NVidia GPUs on KDE Plasma

      • AMDGPU's xf86-video-amdgpu vs. Mode-Setting DDX Performance

      • VIA OpenChrome X.Org Driver Getting Ready For First Release In Over Two Years
        With a new developer stepping up to the plate, it's looking like the OpenChrome DDX driver will see its first release in more than two and a half years.

        For those still relying upon the OpenChrome X.Org driver for VIA x86 graphics hardware support, Kevin Brace is hoping to soon release a new version. Kevin started a new mailing list thread to encourage interested VIA hardware enthusiasts to begin testing the latest driver code and reporting their feedback.

    • Benchmarks

      • Radeon vs. Nouveau Gallium3D Driver Performance On Mesa 11.2-dev, Linux 4.5
        Here are some fresh comparison benchmarks on Linux 4.5 and Mesa 11.2 when comparing the Radeon and Nouveau (NVIDIA) open-source Linux driver performance.

        Following on from the Nouveau vs. NVIDIA comparison using the latest code and the AMDGPU/Radeon vs. Proprietary Driver benchmarks on the latest code, here are some Radeon vs. Nouveau results using the Linux 4.5 kernel with Mesa 11.2 Git code for a bleeding-edge experience. The NVIDIA hardware tested for this article included the GeForce GTX 460, GTX 550 Ti, GTX 650, GTX 680, and GTX 780 Ti. With all of the NVIDIA GeForce 600/700 Kepler graphics cards, they were re-clocked to their highest power-state manually prior to testing. Unfortunately, there still isn't any working GeForce 400/500 Fermi re-clocking support with this open-source driver.

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK

      • GNOME: Maps shaping up for 3.20
        So, we're soon approaching the UI freeze for GNOME 3.20. It's looking quite good when it comes to OpenStreetMap editing in Maps (among other things).

        But first I thought I was going to show-case another improvement, namely the expanded place bubbles (show information about places you search for on the map).

      • GNOME Maps Is Looking Better In GNOME 3.20
        While not yet as versatile as say Google Maps, GNOME Maps for GNOME 3.20. is looking to be a nice upgrade.

        Maps in GNOME 3.20 is making progress with OpenStreetMap editing, expanded place bubbles, adding new places to OSM, support for printing routes, and more.

      • GNOME Maps 3.20 to Allow for OpenStreetMap Editing
        GNOME 20 is almost upon us, and it's going to be a really impressive release, especially since many of its components are getting important upgrades, like GNOME Maps, for example.

      • My Updated 3.18 Packages for GNOME Extensions
        I started releasing extension updates in 2014 due to a lot of extensions being unmaintained and seemingly break every time GNOME releases a new version of the Desktop Environment (DE). This is my third batch release post for GNOME extensions and these extension packages are for GNOME 3.18.

  • Distributions

    • Distro Wars: It's All Linux
      This is likely a topic covered plenty of times, and as such I won't make this a too in-depth article, but I feel it's something always worth reiterating and remembering that no matter what distribution of Linux (or GNU/Linux if you prefer) you use... it's all Linux.

      You only have to whiz around the internet in message boards, YouTube comments and the like in regards to any Linux topic and you'll probably come across a "distro war" often enough. It can happen easy enough - someone mentions their distro of choice, someone else then mentions theirs and then comparisons start. From there, with personal experiences being shared, which quite frankly can differ quite a bit depending on one's hardware, software choices (or sometimes even luck) a discussion can quite quickly descend into a flame war over 'my distro is better than your distro'.

    • Reviews

      • RebeccaBlackOS 2016-02-08 Review. Why? Because it’s Friday.
        These are the types of problems found in an independent distro build from scratch. I cannot understand how a system built on Debian could be this buggy and apparently have zero VM support which Debian comes with by default. I can take some solace in the fact that it was built by one person and that one person is a Rebecca Black fan but as far as a Linux Distribution is concerned there is not much here. Some could say “Well its not supposed to be taken as a serious Distribution.” True except it is listed and kept up with on DistroWatch therefor it should be held as a system ready distribution especially when it was not released as a beta or an RC. If this distribution is ever going to be considered a real platform it has a long way to go. I give it about as many thumbs down as the Rebecca Black Friday video.

    • New Releases

      • Welcome to Parsix GNU/Linux 8.5r0 Release Notes
        Parsix GNU/Linux is a live and installation DVD based on Debian. Our goal is to provide a ready to use and easy to install desktop and laptop optimized operating system based on Debian's stable branch and the latest stable release of GNOME desktop environment. Users can easily install extra software packages from Parsix APT repositories. Our annual release cycle consists of two major and four minor versions. We have our own software repositories and build servers to build and provide all the necessary updates and missing features in Debian stable branch.

      • Parsix GNU/Linux 8.5 (Atticus) Officially Released, Based on Debian 8 "Jessie"
        The development team of the Debian-based Parsix GNU/Linux computer operating system has announced today, February 14, 2016, the release and immediate availability for download of Parsix GNU/Linux 8.5r0.

      • 4MParted 16.0 Distrolette Ships with GParted 0.25.0, Now Ready for Beta Testing
        Zbigniew Konojacki, the developer of the 4MLinux project, has sent us an email earlier today, February 14, 2016, informing Softpedia about the availability for download and testing of his 4MParted 16.0 Beta Live CD.

      • Zorin OS 11 Lite & Business Get Valentine's Day Release for Windows Refugees
        Only ten days after the release of the Zorin OS 11 Core and Ultimate editions, the development team of the Windows lookalike Linux-based operating system are proud to announce the release of the Lite and Business flavors.

        While the Zorin OS 11 Lite Edition is based on the Lubuntu 15.10 (Wily Werewolf) operating system and built around the lightweight LXDE desktop environment, Zorin OS 11 Business is pretty much the same as the Ultimate Edition, but with more advanced tools and improved hardware support.

    • PCLinuxOS/Mageia/Mandriva Family

      • Sound problems in Mageia 5
        Long time ago, I experienced a problem with the sound in Mageia 5. Some videos would play without sound after I applied an update.

        Back then, I discovered the problem was caused because ffmpeg had been updated but, I never found out why, the tainted repository did not pick up the correct package, so I was using the common ffmpeg package, not the tainted version that allows me to play sound for the videos.

    • Arch Family

    • Slackware Family

      • LibreOffice 5.1.0 for slackware-current
        The Document Foundation statement about this release: “LibreOffice 5.1 represents the bleeding edge in term of features for open source office suites, and as such is targeted at technology enthusiasts, early adopters and power users. For enterprise class deployments, TDF maintains the more mature 5.0.x branch (soon at 5.0.5)“.

      • mirror will lose rsync access
        For the sixth time in just 5 days I had do a system_reset on my virtual machine which runs “” as well as ““. The virtual machine is crashing under the load that is put on it by demanding rsync processes. According to my pal who donated the use of this VM to me for free, the rsync download rate is at a continuous 100 Mbit/sec for most of the time. This is apparently too much for the server, as well as for my pal who had not anticipated this kind of bandwidth consumption. He has been paying quite a bit of extra money for the excess bandwidth during the past months.

    • Red Hat Family

      • Red Hat Inc (RHT) Position Raised by Chevy Chase Trust Holdings
        Chevy Chase Trust Holdings raised its stake in shares of Red Hat Inc (NYSE:RHT) by 4.9% during the fourth quarter, according to its most recent 13F filing with the SEC. The fund owned 407,946 shares of the open-source software company’s stock after buying an additional 19,132 shares during the period. Chevy Chase Trust Holdings’ holdings in Red Hat were worth $33,782,000 at the end of the most recent reporting period.

      • Market View On Red Hat, Inc. (NYSE:RHT)
        Few brokerages covering Red Hat, Inc. (NYSE:RHT) have recently released its earnings and stock price target. As per the experts, the stock can touch 89.63 in the coming twelve months. The company’s earnings in the past one year was recorded at 1.03 per share. Now, in the coming quarter, First Call anticipates the company to deliver EPS of 0.50. The EPS estimates for the ongoing fiscal and the next year is reported to come at 1.86 and 2.19 respectively.

    • Debian Family

      • Debian LTS Work January 2016
        This was my ninth month as a Freexian sponsored LTS contributor. I was assigned 8 hours for the month of January.

        My time this month was spent preparing updates for clamav and the associated libclamunrar for squeeze and wheezy. For wheezy, I’ve only helped a little, mostly I worked on squeeze.

      • Reproducible builds: week 42 in Stretch cycle
        What happened in the reproducible builds effort between February 7th and February 13th 2016:

      • Freexian’s report about Debian Long Term Support, January 2016
        Like each month, here comes a report about the work of paid contributors to Debian LTS.

      • I love Free Software Day 2016: Show your love for Free Software
        Today February 14th, the Free Software Foundation Europe (FSFE) celebrates the "I Love Free Software" day. I Love Free Software day is a day for Free Software users to appreciate and thank the contributors of their favourite software applications, projects and organisations.

      • Derivatives

        • Tails 2.0 Debian-Based Linux OS Will Keep You Anonymous Online
          Tails, a Live operating system that is built for the declared purpose of keeping users safe and anonymous while going online, is now at version 2.0.1 and is ready for download.

        • Canonical/Ubuntu

          • Early Ubuntu 14.04 vs. Ubuntu 16.04 Intel Xeon E5 Benchmarks
            This morning I posted some Ubuntu 14.04 vs. 16.04 LTS Radeon graphics benchmarks while if open-source AMD graphics driver evolution doesn't get you excited, in this article are results from other non-graphics benchmarks in comparing the Ubuntu 14.04 vs. 16.04 performance for these long-term support releases in their current form.

            For getting an idea how the overall Ubuntu Linux performance has evolved over the past two years for those solely riding Long-Term Support releases, I compared the performance of Ubuntu 14.04.0 to Ubuntu 16.04 LTS in its current daily ISO form. The tests were done on the same Intel Xeon E5-2687W v3 (Haswell) system with MSI X99S SLI PLUS motherboard, 16GB of RAM, and AMD FirePro V7900 graphics.

          • ‘Android OEMs Will Ship Ubuntu Phones This Year’, Say Canonical
            Several Android phone makers will release Ubuntu phones this year, Canonical’s CEO has revealed.

          • Meizu Pro 5 Ubuntu prospect for February 22 launch
            In September last year Meizu officially introduced the Pro 5 flagship, an Android smartphone running the 5.1 Lollipop-based Flyme OS 5.0. Although Android and iOS are the dominant operating platforms there are always those who want to try something different. Now there’s a Meizu Pro 5 Ubuntu prospect for a February 22 launch.

          • Meizu teases new Ubuntu device for MWC 2016
            Chinese smartphone manufacture Meizu will likely unveil a new Ubuntu-powered phone at the Mobile World Congress next week. The company recently released a teaser that suggests the same, although it doesn't reveal anything specific about the device.

          • Meizu Might Unveil a New Ubuntu Phone Device at MWC 2016
            Meizu, the popular Chinese consumer electronics company, which most Ubuntu users better know for its awesome Meizu MX4 Ubuntu Edition smartphone, has teased us earlier on Twitter with what it would appear to be the launch of a new device.

          • Flavours and Variants

  • Devices/Embedded

Free Software/Open Source

  • Events

    • A Selection of Talks from FOSDEM 2016
      It's that time of the year where I go to FOSDEM (Free and Open Source Software Developers' European Meeting). The keynotes and the maintracks are very good, with good presentations and contents.

    • Tech experts guide workshop on open source software
      "The potential of open-source software is huge. For instance, a lot of people in our country cannot afford to purchase MS Office because they are very expensive. OSS can be a boon to people in software development and even in the field of education in general," said Lalit Kathpalia, director of Symbiosis Institute of Computer Science and Research (SICSR), which organised the seminar along with the Pune Linux Users Group.

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

  • Education

    • Open source is now ready to compete with Mathematica for use in the classroom
      When I think about what makes SageMath different, one of the most fundamental things is that it was created by people who use it every day. It was created by people doing research math, by people teaching math at universities, and by computer programmers and engineers using it for research. It was created by people who really understand computational problems because we live them. We understand the needs of math research, teaching courses, and managing an open source project that users can contribute to and customize to work for their own unique needs.

    • The scarcity of college graduates with FOSS experience
      In the education track at SCALE 14x in Pasadena, Gina Likins spoke about the surprisingly difficult task of getting information about open-source development practices into undergraduate college classrooms. That scarcity makes it hard to find new college graduates who have experience with open source. Although the conventional wisdom is that open source "is everywhere," the college computer-science (CS) or software-engineering (SE) classroom has proven to be a tough nut to crack—and may remain so for quite some time.

      Likins works on Red Hat's University Outreach team—a group that does not do recruiting, she emphasized. Rather, the team travels to campuses around the United States and engages with teachers, administrators, and students about open source in the classroom. The surprise is how little open source one finds, at least in CS and SE degrees. Employers expect graduates to be familiar with open-source projects and tools (e.g., using Git, bug trackers, and so forth), she said, and incoming students report expecting to find it in the curriculum, but it remains a rarity.

  • BSD

    • Our 2016 Fundraising Campaign
      The OpenBSD Foundation needs your help to achieve our fundraising goal of $250,000 for 2016.

      Reaching this goal will ensure the continued health of the projects we support, will enable us to help them do more, and will avoid the distraction of financial emergencies that could spell the end of the projects.

      2015 was a good year for the foundation financially, with funding coming almost equally from corporate and community donations. While the total was down significantly after 2014's blockbuster year, we again exceeded our goal.


      If a penny was donated for every pf or OpenSSH installed with a mainstream operating system or phone in the last year we would be at our goal.


    • Winning the copyleft fight
      Bradley Kuhn started off his 2016 talk by stating a goal that, he hoped, he shared with the audience: a world where more (or most) software is free software. The community has one key strategy toward that goal: copyleft licensing. He was there to talk about whether that strategy is working, and what can be done to make it more effective; the picture he painted was not entirely rosy, but there is hope if software developers are willing to make some changes.

      Copyleft licensing is still an effective strategy, he said; that can be seen because we've had the chance to run a real-world parallel experiment — an opportunity that doesn't come often. A lot of non-copyleft software has been written over the years; if proprietary forks of that software don't exist, then it seems clear that there is no need for copyleft; we just have to look to see whether proprietary versions of non-copyleft software exist. But, he said, he has yet to find a non-trivial non-copyleft program that lacks proprietary forks; without copyleft, companies will indeed take free software and make it proprietary.

    • The Trouble With the TPP, Day 27: Source Code Disclosure Confusion
      Another Trouble with the TPP is its foray into the software industry. One of the more surprising provisions in the TPP’s e-commerce chapter was the inclusion of a restriction on mandated source code disclosure. Article 14.17 states:

      No Party shall require the transfer of, or access to, source code of software owned by a person of another Party, as a condition for the import, distribution, sale or use of such software, or of products containing such software, in its territory.

    • I love Free Software Day 2016
      In the Free Software society we exchange a lot of criticism. We write bug reports, tell others how they can improve the software, ask them for new features, and generally are not shy about criticising others. There is nothing wrong about that. It helps us to constantly improve. But sometimes we forget to show the hardworking people behind the software our appreciation. We should not underestimate the power of a simple "thank you" to motivate Free Software contributors in their important work for society. The 14th of February (a Sunday this year) is the ideal day to do that.

  • Programming

    • Why I am not touching node.js [Ed: from Ferrari]
      Dear node.js/node-webkit people, what's the matter with you?

      I wanted to try out some stuff that requires node-webkit. So I try to use npm to download, build and install it, like CPAN would do.

      But then I see that the nodewebkit package is just a stub that downloads a 37MB file (using HTTP without TLS) containing pre-compiled binaries. Are you guys out of your minds?

      This is enough for me to never again get close to node.js and friends. I had already heard some awful stories, but this is just insane.

    • The next Generation of Code Hosting Platforms
      The last few weeks there has been a lot of rumors about GitHub. GitHub is a code hosting platform which tries to make it as easy as possible to develop software and collaborate with people. The main achievement from GitHub is probably to moved the social part of software development to a complete new level. As more and more Free Software initiatives started using GitHub it became really easy to contribute a bug fix or a new feature to the 3rd party library or application you use. With a few clicks you can create a fork, add your changes and send them back to the original project as a pull request. You don’t need to create a new account, don’t need to learn the tools used by the project, etc. Everybody is on the same platform and you can contribute immediately. In many cases this improves the collaboration between projects a lot. Also the ability to mention the developer of other projects easily in your pull request or issue improved the social interactions between developers and makes collaboration across different projects the default.

    • Choose GitLab for your next open source project is a competitor of GIthub. It’s a service provider for git-based source code repositories that offers much more than it’s bigger brother. In this post I will try to convince you to try it out for your next project.

      GitLab is not only a simple git hosting; its features impact the whole development process, the way of contributing to a project, executing and running tests, protecting source code from changes, more and more.

    • Write code that is easy to delete, not easy to extend.
      Every line of code written comes at a price: maintenance. To avoid paying for a lot of code, we build reusable software. The problem with code re-use is that it gets in the way of changing your mind later on.

      The more consumers of an API you have, the more code you must rewrite to introduce changes. Similarly, the more you rely on an third-party api, the more you suffer when it changes. Managing how the code fits together, or which parts depend on others, is a significant problem in large scale systems, and it gets harder as your project grows older.


  • Billion-dollar mistake: How inferior IT killed Target Canada
    Additionally, the idea of trying to open an entire nation of stores, rather than opening them incrementally, was bound to fail. Scaling everything at once doesn't allow for flaws to be discovered and mediated, but instead leads to cascading failures like the ones that overtook Target Canada's supply chain.

  • Science

  • Data Loss

    • Vellum: UK's last producer of calf-skin parchment fights on after losing Parliament's business
      In the company’s original office, with its 1855 safe, overlooked by a photograph of the firm’s founding father, the general manager of parchment and vellum makers William Cowley receives a steady stream of phone calls from sympathisers and customers.

      Paul Wright tells them how parchment and vellum are “the earliest writing materials, in use since man stepped out of a cave, wrapped some skins round a few sticks to make a tepee, and started scribbling on his tent walls”. He added: “All of humankind’s history is on parchment and vellum. Magna Carta was written on parchment. The Dead Sea Scrolls: parchment, in 435BC.”

    • Google is shutting down Picasa in favor of Photos
      The Picasa desktop app will continue to function, but after March 15th, you shouldn't expect any more updates. It also sounds like the download link will be going away, so you might want to also keep the install file stashed somewhere safe.

    • Google Is Shutting Down Picasa On May 1, 2016
      Google has finally decided to kill Picasa Web albums on May 1, 2016. This step was expected by many as it doesn’t make sense investing time and resources in a product similar to Google Photos.

    • Changing your iPhone settings to this date will kill it
      Don't try this at home. Changing the date on recent models of the iPhone to January 1 1970 will render it completely useless and unable to reboot.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Jeremy Hunt 'misrepresenting' data on weekend death rates at NHS hospitals, says research surgeon
      A doctor who was part of a study on links between staffing and deaths in the NHS has accused the Government of “continually misrepresenting” the findings to support its push to change junior contracts.

      Dr Peter Holt, a vascular surgeon at St George's University of London, said he had written to Jeremy Hunt, the Health Select Committee and shadow Health Secretary Heidi Alexander raising his objection.

      In a post on the Junior Doctors contract forum Facebook group, he wrote that the research published in December “could never have shown that higher staffing on weekends reduced mortality”.

    • The “tough nerd” owns this calamity: Rick Snyder’s anti-government, authoritarian ideology has been nothing but bad news for Flint
      Snyder has since won two general elections. As the world now knows, turning our state government over to a business executive who never held public office before hasn’t turned out so well. The “tough nerd” is the man who presided over a colossal, avoidable and entirely man-made public health disaster. For more than a year, more than 100,000 citizens of Flint have been exposed to a toxic water supply, laced with lead and other contaminants.

      Eight thousand children under the age of 5 who live in the city are most at risk; even at low levels, exposure to lead can cause irreversible damage to their brains. That translates, over time, into reduced intellectual capacity and higher incidence of multiple problems: attention deficit disorder, hypertension, aggressive and impulsive behavior – eventually, according to some researchers, higher rates of violent crime.

      Lead poisoning is no picnic for adults. The substance is a neurotoxin, linked to anemia, brain damage, kidney failure and reproductive disorders for both genders.

      This scandal has bodies, too. There’s been a spike in cases of Legionnaires’ disease – including 10 deaths – in and around Flint since the city’s water troubles began, nearly two years ago. The syndrome can be transmitted through mist or vapor from a contaminated water supply. High-ranking state officials knew about the outbreak in March of 2015, but Snyder didn’t say anything publicly until January 2016. “We can’t conclude the increase is related to the water switch in Flint,” said a state health department spokesperson on Feb. 3, “nor can we rule out a possible association.”

      Trust me: Nobody in Flint now trusts a word state officials have to say about water quality.

    • Flint water crisis: governor's aides knew of issues within weeks, records suggest
      Among 21,000 documents released by Michigan’s governor one shows officials due to discuss Flint ‘water issues’ in June 2014, within weeks of supply switch

    • Flint: The Legionnaires Will Be What Brings Criminal Charges
      In my discussions about Flint’s water crisis, I keep pointing out that Rick Snyder was largely just making a show of responding until the US Attorney revealed it had started an investigation on January 5.

      The Detroit News has an utterly damning report today about the part of the story that gets less national attention: local and state officials started discussing an outbreak of Legionnaires disease back in October 2014, and national experts offered help as early as March 2015, but the state did not accept assistance offered by both the EPA and CDC until January.

    • Detroit has highest number of abandoned homes, Flint second, website reports
      Flint, the Michigan city that is struggling with a public health crisis involving its water supply, has another issue that is threatening its future: abandoned homes, the Huffington Post reports.

      Flint had the highest rate of vacancy in February at 7.5 percent, according to a report released by RealtyTrac.

      "The real estate data company broke down the data by individual city for The Huffington Post, revealing a more extreme picture of abandonment: 9,800 homes are empty in Flint, 16.5 percent of all residential properties. At the city level, Detroit had the highest vacancy rate, with 53,000 empty houses, nearly one in five. Nationally, close to one of every 63 residential properties that RealtyTrac analyzed are vacant."

    • Flint's problems didn't start with water
      A third of the property in the city of Flint is vacant.

      That's according to the Genesee County Land Bank, the organization charged with pushing back against the encroaching wave of blight that touches nearly every neighborhood in this struggling city — of 56,000 parcels in Flint, about 20,000 are empty or blighted.

      And it's going to get worse.

  • Security

    • Fysbis: The Linux Backdoor Used by Russian Hackers
      Fysbis (or Linux.BackDoor.Fysbis) is a new malware family that targets Linux machines, on which it sets up a backdoor that allows the malware's author to spy on victims and carry out further attacks.
    • Russian Hackers Spying On Your Linux PC Using Sophisticated Malware “Fysbis”
      A new malware family known as Fysbis (or Linux.BackDoor.Fysbis) is aiming Linux machines by setting up a backdoor that allows the malware’s author to snoop on victims and perform further attacks.

    • Warning: Bug in Adobe Creative Cloud deletes Mac user data without warning
      Adobe Systems has stopped distributing a recently issued update to its Creative Cloud graphics service amid reports a Mac version can delete important user data without warning or permission.

      The deletions happen whenever Mac users log in to the Adobe service after the update has been installed, according to officials from Backblaze, a data backup service whose users are being disproportionately inconvenienced by the bug. Upon sign in, a script activated by Creative Cloud deletes the contents in the alphabetically first folder in a Mac's root directory. Backblaze users are being especially hit by the bug because the backup service relies on data stored in a hidden root folder called .bzvol. Because the folder is the alphabetically top-most hidden folder at the root of so many users' drives, they are affected more than users of many other software packages.

      "This caused a lot of our customers to freak out," Backblaze Marketing Manager Yev Pusin wrote in an e-mail. "The reason we saw a huge uptick from our customers is because Backblaze's .bzvol is higher up the alphabet. We tested it again by creating a hidden file with an '.a' name, and the files inside were removed as well."

  • Defence/Police/Secrecy/Aggression

    • U.S. Supported Shia Militias in Iraq Lead Ethnic Cleansing
      Oh, yes, and also civil war. Here’s a preview of what to expect in Iraq after ISIS is mostly run out of the country.

      Set the scene: the country formerly known as Iraq was basically an steaming pile of ethnic/religious tension in 2003 when the U.S. invaded. It was divided among three broad groups we didn’t seem to know much about then, but damn well do now: Sunnis, Shias and Kurds. The Kurds, who always wanted to be independent, like from nearly the time of the dinosaurs always, saw their opportunity and broke away and are now essentially their own country. The Sunnis and Shia both wanted the same land and resources and freaking hate each other, and so have been fighting one another since 2003 when the post-U.S. invasion chaos unleashed them.

    • “Where to Invade Next” Is the Most Subversive Movie Michael Moore Has Ever Made
      I CAN’T CLAIM this is a neutral review of Where to Invade Next, Michael Moore’s latest movie. Beyond the fact that I worked for Moore for six years, including on his previous documentary Capitalism: A Love Story, I may literally owe my life to the high-quality, zero-deductible health insurance he provides employees.

      What I’ve lost in objectivity, I’ve gained in knowledge of Moore’s career. I even know his darkest, most closely guarded secret: the original name of the 1970s alternative newspaper he started in Flint, Michigan. So I can say this for sure: Where to Invade Next is the most profoundly subversive thing he’s ever done. It’s so sneaky that you may not even notice exactly what it’s subverting.

    • Deconstructing America’s ‘Deep State’
      Americans perceive what has happened to their democratic Republic only dimly, tricked by rightists who call all collective government actions bad and by neoliberals who make “markets” a new-age god. But ex-congressional budget official Mike Lofgren shows how this “Deep State” really works, writes Chuck Spinney.

    • Long live Empire!
      Indians don’t care whether the statue of Queen Victoria stays put or is consigned to a junkyard. Many agree with Ferguson that the British Empire had some plus points.

    • Hillary’s Admission Diplomacy Couldn’t Get Pakistan To Hand Over Bin Laden
      In last night’s debate, Sanders responded — after talking about what good friends he is with the woman who just claimed he had supported regime change — that he had supported more democracy in Libya, not regime change.

    • The anti-US military base struggle in Okinawa, Japan
      Kamoshita and Aihara at their talk in London on 1 February jointly organised and hosted by Voices for Creative Non-Violence UK (VCNV), Nipponzan Myohoji and SOAS CND Society. Native Nomad Pictures Ltd./ Jason Verney. All rights reserved.Not many people outside Japan have even heard of the place called Okinawa, a semi-tropical archipelago of numerous islands with unique and invaluable biodiversity situated in the East China Sea – let alone have any knowledge of its modern history, dominated by the sequence of invasion, colonisation, war and militarisation.
    • 'ISIS militants shave beards, dress as women to escape Ramadi'
      has arrested a group of ISIS fighters when they tried to escape from the fallen city of Ramadi after shaving their beards and dressing up as women.

      "The terrorists had shaved their beards and dressed as women in a bid to fool our forces and escape the liberated city of Ramadi. However, they were all arrested before escaping the city," the Iraqi security command was quoted as saying by ARA News.

      The Iraqi army announced on Tuesday the "full liberation" of Ramadi city, capital of Anbar province, from ISIS militants.
    • The Neoconservatives Are Brewing A Wider War In Syria

      Their invasion plan frustrated, the neoconservatives sent the jihadists they had used to overthrow Gaddafi in Libya to overthrow Assad. Initially known as ISIS, then ISIL, then the Islamist State, and now Daesh, a term that can be interpreted as an insult. Perhaps the intention of the name changes is to keep the Western public thoroughly confused about who is who and what is what.
    • Democrats Use Debate To Embrace History’s Warmongers
      With some important exceptions, such as the issue of regime change, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s foreign policies were largely on the same page, as they have been throughout the campaign. Sanders joined in with the prevailing fear of Russia, praising NATO’s recent provocative amassing of troops along Russia’s border, its largest deployment since the Cold War. The candidates then went on to separately embrace two of history’s worst war mongers.

      Clinton went first. After Sanders criticized her earlier embrace of her predecessor Henry Kissinger, calling him “one of the most destructive secretaries of state in the modern history of this country,” Clinton doubled down, arguing that whatever complaints one may have of Kissinger, “his opening up of China and his ongoing relationships with the leaders of China is an incredibly useful relationship.”

      Clinton’s earlier mention of Kissinger wasn’t just name-dropping. She appears to genuinely view him as a role model while serving as Secretary of State.
    • The 10 most ghoulish quotes of Henry Kissinger’s gruesome career
      Henry Kissinger’s quote released by Wikileaks, “The illegal we do immediately; the unconstitutional takes a little longer,” likely brought a smile to his legions of elite media, government, corporate and high society admirers. Oh that Henry! That rapier wit! That trademark insouciance! It is unlikely, however, that the descendants of his more than 6 million victims in Indochina, and Americans of conscience appalled by his murder of non-Americans, will share in the amusement. His illegal and unconstitutional actions had real-world consequences: the ruined lives of millions of Indochinese innocents in a new form of secret, automated U.S. executive warfare. (Read Branfman’s extended related essay on Kissinger.)

    • Sanders proudly declaring “Kissinger is not my friend” totally destroys notion that Clinton’s better on foreign policy

      “I am proud to say that Henry Kissinger is not my friend. I will not take advice from Henry Kissinger,” Bernie Sanders declared in the Milwaukee presidential debate Thursday night.

      “Where the secretary and I have a very profound difference,” Sanders explained, “in her book and in this last debate, she talked about getting the approval or the support or the mentoring of Henry Kissinger. Now, I find it rather amazing, because I happen to believe that Henry Kissinger was one of the most destructive secretaries of state in the modern history of this country.”

      These are some of the most important words Sanders has ever uttered about foreign policy. And they show he is appreciably better on the issue than Hillary Clinton, in all the ways that matter.

      The historical facts make it clear that Sanders is absolutely correct; Kissinger was, hands down, one of the most destructive secretaries of state in the modern history of the U.S.

    • Should Henry Kissinger Mentor a Presidential Candidate?
      At the February 11 Democratic Debate, Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton had a spirited exchange about an unlikely topic: the 92-year old former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger. Sanders berated Clinton for saying that she appreciated the foreign policy mentoring she got from Henry Kissinger. “I happen to believe,” said Sanders, “that Henry Kissinger was one of the most destructive secretaries of state in the modern history of this country.”

      In one of Sanders’ rare outbursts of enmity, he added, “I am proud to say that Henry Kissinger is not my friend. I will not take advice from Henry Kissinger. And in fact, Kissinger’s actions in Cambodia, when the United States bombed that country, overthrew Prince Sihanouk, created the instability for Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge to come in, who then butchered some three million innocent people, was one of the worst genocides in the history of the world. So count me in as somebody who will not be listening to Henry Kissinger.”

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife

    • Coal mining has flattened Appalachia by 40%: Scientists reveal dramatic extent of damage done by mountaintop removal
      For more than forty years, mining companies have been destroying entire mountain peaks in West Virginia, Kentucky and other areas of Central Appalachia.

      The technique, known as mountaintop mining, practice provides much-needed jobs and the steady supply of coal that America relies on for more than half of its electricity needs.

      But residents say they are paying a high price, with the practice destroying forests, polluting streams and flooding communities – and now a new study has backed up their claims.

      Scientists have found mountaintop coal mining has made parts of Central Appalachia 40 per cent flatter than they were before excavation.

  • Finance

    • Watch Carrier Workers Find Out Their Jobs Are Moving to Mexico
      Workers at a Carrier Air Conditioner plant in Indianapolis were summoned to a group assembly this week to be told their jobs would soon be moving to Monterrey, Mexico. In all, 1,400 jobs are expected to be lost.


      “Now the promise of America has always been you work hard, you do your job, you help your company be profitable and then in return, you hope to have a decent retirement,” he said. “So how do we tell workers who have put their whole heart and soul into a company, who have provided them with over $6.1 billion in sales, that it is not enough? I mean, the reason folks are here is because there has always been a promise: If you work hard, the company in return will stand up and do right by you. So, how is doing right having $6.1 billion in earnings and shipping 2,100 Indiana jobs off to Mexico?”

      Yellen, who has come under fire for rate hikes many fear will undermine the unemployment situation, replied: “This is a miserable and burdensome situation that many households have faced.”

    • Hillary Is a High-Ranking Member of the DC Power Elite — and That's Why She Can't Comprehend Bernie’s Revolution
      Let me figure this out. Last year, the Clintons couldn’t believe their good fortune. They were going to face a “democratic socialist” from the marginal state of Vermont and cruise to victory. It would be a romp, with Hillary winning the primaries and then going full mainstream against a reactionary, out of touch Republican opponent on the way to the White House.

      As many commentators are saying now, a serious miscalculation was at the heart of Hillary’s plan. Clinton, Cruz, Bush, Rubio and others are all part of the wealthy elite. Although Trump is as well, he is channeling the anger of the working class American. Bernie Sanders also gets it. He knows what happened to the American dream.

      Hillary Clinton thinks, in her gut, that America is a prosperous country, and that the policies that led to our prosperity should simply be continued, that they work. But this hasn’t been true since the 1970’s, back when America was the world’s economic powerhouse, with a manufacturing base that was the envy of the world, highly paid unionized workers and a booming housing market.

    • John Kasich and the Clintons Collaborated on Law That Helped Double Extreme Poverty
      Republican presidential candidate John Kasich has promoted himself both as a friend of the working poor and as a foe of Hillary Clinton, but as House Budget Committee chairman in the 1990s, he worked with the Clintons to roll back welfare programs, helping double extreme poverty in America.

      In 1996, the Clinton administration and congressional Republicans worked hand in hand to pass what they called the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act, colloquially known as “welfare reform.”

      The legislation famously “ended welfare as we know it,” replacing Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) with Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF). The newly-created TANF placed a time limit on how long the federal government would extend financial assistance to poor families.

    • 7 Reasons I'm Not On Board With Uber
      It's common practice in the tech world to rush your product to market, picking up the pieces as you go. This works fine when you're in the business of selling ideas, or soft-serve ice cream delivery (somebody do this, please), or artisanal organic laundry service. Get it out there, apologize in advance that nothing's perfect, do better next time. No harm done.

      Then there's a product like Uber. Uber, if you're just joining the conversation, is supposed to change the way city dwellers think about transportation. It's supposed to put taxis out of business, or at least make them change their wicked ways.

    • Taxes on trial
      Demands for tax justice have resounded worldwide, with inequality at historic and unsustainable levels and increased attention towards the tax practices of major multinational corporations from Google to Starbucks.

      Governments must be able to change their tax systems to ensure multinationals pay their fair share and to ensure that critical public services are well funded. States must also be able to reconsider and withdraw tax breaks previously granted to multinationals if they no longer fit with national priorities.

      But their ability to do so, to change tax laws and pursue progressive tax policies, is limited, thanks to trade and investments agreements. In rapidly developing ‘corporate courts’, formally known as investor-state dispute settlement system (or ISDS), foreign investors can sue states directly at international tribunals.

  • PR/AstroTurf/Lobbying

    • Donald Trump Blames George W. Bush for 9/11

      "I lost hundreds of friends, the World Trade Center came down during the reign of George Bush," Trump said, while the crowd's boos nearly drowned him out. "That is not safe, Marco, that is not safe,"

      Trump has made this claim before, but this time Bush's brother Jeb pushed back. "This is a man who insults his way to the nomination," he said. "I am sick and tired of him going after my family."

    • Hillary Clinton’s Congressional Black Caucus PAC Endorsement Approved By Board Awash in Lobbyists
      Ben Branch, the executive director of the Congressional Black Caucus PAC told The Intercept that his group made the decision after a vote from its 20-member board. The board includes 11 lobbyists, seven elected officials, and two officials who work for the PAC. Branch confirmed that the lobbyists were involved in the endorsement, but would not go into detail about the process.

      Members of the CBC PAC board include Daron Watts, a lobbyist for Purdue Pharma, the makers of highly addictive opioid OxyContin; Mike Mckay and Chaka Burgess, both lobbyists for Navient, the student loan giant that was spun off of Sallie Mae; former Rep. Al Wynn, D-Md., a lobbyist who represents a range of clients, including work last year on behalf of Lorillard Tobacco, the makers of Newport cigarettes; and William A. Kirk, who lobbies for a cigar industry trade group on a range of tobacco regulations.

      And a significant percentage of the $7,000 raised this cycle by the CBC PAC was donated by white lobbyists, including Vic Fazio, who represents Philip Morris and served for years as a lobbyist to Corrections Corporation of America, and David Adams, a former Clinton aide who now lobbies for Wal-Mart, the largest gun distributor in America.

    • Why Brother Bernie Is Better for Black People Than Sister Hillary

    • Bernie Sanders is a Candidate for, Not of, Today’s Movements
      Yesterday, The Atlantic’s Eric Liu asked what it would take to move presidential candidate Bernie Sanders’s ambitious proposals from “we’re gonna” to “we’ve done it,” outlining seven steps to bridge the gap. First among Liu’s recommendations is a call for a “Bernie’s 30” of progressive congressional Democrats to oust Republican incumbents, throwing the weight of the Sanders campaign’s small donor base into strategic races around the country.

    • 'Bomb the Sh*t out of ‘Em': Inside the Madness of a Donald Trump Rally

      After Roy Wood Jr., skipped out on a Donald Trump rally on Wednesday night’s “Daily Show,” I felt as if I had an itch left unscratched. So you can imagine how excited I was when another correspondent, Jordan Klepper, made the “the circus that is Donald Trump” the centerpiece of his profile on last night’s “Daily Show.” (And by some divine stroke of luck, Klepper ended up at the now-infamous rally at which Trump almost-kinda-sorta called Ted Cruz a “pussy.”) To build a contextual foundation, Klepper spoke to a Adam Realman (not to be confused with John Q. Sample), a Coney Island sideshow performer about the proper elements of a compelling circus act.

  • Censorship

  • Privacy

    • Why I don't like smartphones
      They have led to massive centralization. Part of the “cloud” movement is probably driven by the fact that while smartphones have substantial computational resources, you can't actually use them because of battery life. So instead the computation is done in the cloud, creating a dependency on a centralized entity.

      How many of these smartphone applications being sold would still work if their makers went bust? By comparison, there is much PC software no longer sold but which is still cherished and used.

    • For Analysts, Loving LinkedIn Was Wrong
      LinkedIn is unlikely to be the last company hit by a pitch, says Sanwal. Investors in private companies often base their valuations on publicly traded stocks like LinkedIn. With even Apple and being punished mightily for their recent quarterly disappointments, companies in the spotlight can’t afford many missteps, says SunTrust’s Peck. As for his own line of work, he says: “At the end of the day analysts need to rely on their research, not what the company says.”
    • How Google Searches Pretty Much Nailed the New Hampshire Primary
      Google’s ability to look into the future of political contests just notched another win: New Hampshire.

      Searches of presidential candidates conducted by Google users in New Hampshire on Feb. 9 corresponded closely with the voting results of the state’s primary. The top-searched Democratic candidate was Bernie Sanders, who won with 60 percent of the vote in New Hampshire, according to the Associated Press. He got 72 percent of the searches, according to Google, while Hillary Clinton got 28 percent of the queries and 38 percent of the vote.

    • Google isn't your diary - stop trusting it with your secrets
      If you have a problem in the 21st century, the typical first port of call is Google. It doesn’t matter if it’s about your health or your embarrassing crush – the search engine will be there to answer your questions.

      My recent search history varies from ‘my iPhone won’t charge abroad’ to ‘do I have cystitis’? But that’s nothing compared to what I’d pour out to Google as a teenager. Back then, the search engine wasn’t just a substitute for rubbish PSHE lessons at school - it was the big sister I never had.

    • Four men—including a pair of pastors—sue Tacoma police over stingray documents
      The American Civil Liberties Union of Washington state has sued the Tacoma Police Department (TPD) on behalf of four community leaders, claiming that TPD has not adequately responded to their public records requests concerning the use of cell-site simulators, or stingrays.

      The Thursday lawsuit comes nine months after Washington imposed a new warrant requirement for stingray use in the state and about 15 months after local Pierce County judges imposed stricter guidelines for their use.

      Stingrays are in use by both local and federal law enforcement agencies nationwide. The devices determine a target phone’s location by spoofing or simulating a cell tower. Mobile phones in range of the stingray then connect to it and exchange data with the device as they would with a real cell tower. Once deployed, stingrays intercept data from the target phone along with information from other phones within the vicinity—up to and including full calls and text messages. At times, police have falsely claimed that information gathered from a stingray has instead come from a confidential informant.

    • Austrians Need Constitutional Right to Pay in Cash, Mahrer Says
      Austrians should have the constitutional right to use cash to protect their privacy, Deputy Economy Minister Harald Mahrer said, as the European Union considers curbing the use of banknotes and coins.

      “We don’t want someone to be able to track digitally what we buy, eat and drink, what books we read and what movies we watch,” Mahrer said on Austrian public radio station Oe1. “We will fight everywhere against rules” including caps on cash purchases, he said.
    • New York Police Have Used Stingrays Widely, New Documents Show
      The NYPD has used cell-site simulators, commonly known as Stingrays, more than 1,000 times since 2008, according to documents turned over to the New York Civil Liberties Union. The documents represent the first time the department has acknowledged using the devices.

      The NYPD also disclosed that it does not get a warrant before using a Stingray, which sweeps up massive amounts of data. Instead, the police obtain a “pen register order” from a court, more typically used to collect call data for a specific phone. Those orders do not require the police to establish probable cause. Additionally, the NYPD has no written policy guidelines on the use of Stingrays.

    • Lawyers Speak Out About Massive Hack of Prisoners’ Phone Records
      Last fall, Bukowsky received an unexpected phone call related to McKim’s case. The call came from The Intercept, following our November 11, 2015, report on a massive hack of Securus Technologies, a Texas-based prison telecommunications company that does business with the Missouri Department of Corrections. As we reported at the time, The Intercept received a massive database of more than 70 million call records belonging to Securus and coming from prison facilities that used the company’s so-called Secure Call Platform. Leaked via SecureDrop by a hacker who was concerned that Securus might be violating prisoners’ rights, the call records span a 2 1/2-year period beginning in late 2011 (the year Securus won its contract with the Missouri DOC) and ending in the spring of 2014.

    • Apple: Dear judge, please tell us if gov’t can compel us to unlock an iPhone
      In a new letter, Apple has asked a judge to finally rule in a case where the government is trying to force the company to unlock a seized iPhone 5S running iOS 7. Currently, United States Magistrate Judge James Orenstein has been sitting on the case for nearly three months.

      In the Friday letter, Apple attorney Marc Zwillinger says that ruling now is important, as the government plans to make similar requests of Apple in the future. Prosecutors have invoked the All Writs Act, an 18th-century federal law that simply allows courts to issue a writ (or order) that compels a person or company to do something. For some time now, prosecutors have turned to courts to try to force companies to help in situations where authorities are otherwise stymied.
    • At Berkeley, students learn ins and outs of NSA surveillance
      This spring, computer science lecturer Nicholas Weaver will give a class of UC Berkeley undergraduates a novel yet practical assignment: build a National Security Agency-style surveillance system.

    • House bill would kill state, local bills that aim to weaken smartphone crypto
      On Wednesday, Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.) and Rep. Blake Farenthold (R-Tex.) introduced a new bill in Congress that attempts to halt state-level efforts that would weaken encryption.

      The federal bill comes just weeks after two nearly identical state bills in New York state and California proposed to ban the sale of modern smartphones equipped with strong crypto that cannot be unlocked by the manufacturer. If the state bills are signed into law, current iPhone and Android phones would need to be substantially redesigned for those two states.

    • UK Privacy Campaigners Lose Hacking Case Against GCHQ
      Handed down by the Investigative Powers Tribunal (IPT), the ruling dismissed complaints from campaign group Privacy International. The group had teamed up with seven internet service providers to challenge GCHQ's surveillance of phones and other electronic devices both within the U.K. and internationally.

      Privacy International said it was “disappointed” with the ruling, but said the case had raised public debate on some of the GCHQ's most controversial practices.

    • GCHQ hacking does not violate the UK's human rights laws, rules tribunal
      Hacking of smartphone, computer and network by the British security and intelligence agency Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) is legal, says a security tribunal. The investigatory power tribunal (IPT) has recently ruled the computer network exploitation (CNE) technique, which might include remotely activating microphones and cameras on electronic devices without the owner's knowledge, is legal.

  • Civil Rights

    • Justice Antonin Scalia dead
      There is likely to be significant pressure on the Senate, which is in Republican hands, to hold off on confirming anyone nominated by President Obama, who is in his last year in office.

    • Justice Scalia Unexpectedly Dies, Scrambling Balance Of U.S. Supreme Court
      Associate Justice Antonin Scalia was found dead at a West Texas ranch on Saturday. He was 79 years old. Scalia died in his sleep during a hunting trip, apparently of natural causes.

      The sudden death of Scalia, one of the Court’s most outspoken conservatives, potentially shifts the balance of the Supreme Court, currently 5-4 in favor of conservatives, setting up an enormous battle in the Republican-controlled Senate that will play out simultaneously with the presidential campaign.

    • Conservatives: GOP Senate Should Block Any Obama Selection For Supreme Court
      Scalia was part of a conservative bloc on the Supreme Court that regularly overturned progressive legislation and precedent, making any replacement a contested issue in both the Senate and the 2016 presidential election with major national implications.

    • Why Scalia's Death Is a Huge Blow to the Right-Wing Agenda in Washington
      Justice Antonin Scalia is dead, and his passing is nothing less than a legal and political earthquake. It will have a huge impact, not only on the court's present term but on the course of constitutional law.

      Beginning with his appointment to the high court in 1986, Scalia was the intellectual leader of what I and many other legal commentators have termed a conservative "judicial counterrevolution," aimed at wresting control of the nation's most powerful legal body from the legacy of the liberal jurists who rose to power in the 1950s and '60s under the leadership of then-Chief Justice Earl Warren.

    • CNN Analyst: Potential SCOTUS Nominees "Have Impeccable Qualifications," But GOP Doesn't Want To Vote For "An Obama Nominee"

    • Iran says it is cracking down on Valentine's Day celebrations and shops engaging in them will be guilty of a crime
      Iran says it is cracking down on Valentine's Day celebrations and shops engaging in them will be guilty of a crime.

      Iranian news outlets reported the police directive Friday warning retailers against promoting "decadent Western culture through Valentine's Day rituals." Police informed Tehran's coffee and ice cream shops trade union to avoid any gatherings in which boys and girls exchange Valentine's Day gifts.

      The annual Feb. 14 homage to romance, which tradition says is named after an early Christian martyr, has become popular in recent years in Iran and other Middle East countries.

    • Amid Anti-Semitism Controversy, NRA's Nugent Attacks His "Mentally Challenged" "Devil" Critics
      National Rifle Association (NRA) board member Ted Nugent participated in a softball interview to attack his critics as "mentally challenged" and "the devil" following outrage over his promotion of an anti-Semitic image.

      On February 8, Nugent posted an anti-Semitic image to his Facebook page alleging that Jews were behind a conspiracy to enact gun regulations. After being condemned by civil rights organization the Anti-Defamation League, Nugent doubled down by posting more inflammatory content, including an image of Jews being rounded up by Nazis alongside his comment "Soulless sheep to slaughter. Not me."

  • Internet/Net Neutrality

    • Republican Anti-Net Neutrality Crusade Advances in Congress
      The Republican crusade to sabotage federal net neutrality protections took a significant step forward on Thursday when a key House subcommittee approved a bill that could severely limit the Federal Communications Commission’s ability to police the nation’s largest cable and phone companies.

      Under the guise of prohibiting the FCC from regulating broadband internet prices, the legislation could ultimately kneecap the FCC’s authority over a variety of potentially abusive industry practices, according to open internet advocates.

      The bill, innocuously titled the “No Rate Regulation of Broadband Internet Access Act,” is just the latest effort in a multi-pronged Republican campaign to undermine the FCC’s ability to protect net neutrality, the principle that all content on the internet should be equally accessible.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Copyrights

      • 82-Year-Old Great-Grandmother is a Pirate, Trolls Say

        People who've managed to live for more than eight decades should be enjoying a peaceful and uncomplicated existence but for UK-based Sky customer Sheila Drew things are not so straightforward. She's being accused of being an Internet pirate - and has two letters and a £600 bill to prove it.

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Small Computers in Large Numbers: A Pipeline of Open Hardware
They guard and prioritise their "premiums", causing severe price hikes due to supply/demand disparities.
Microsoft Deserves a Medal for Being Worst at Security (the Media Deserves a Medal for Cover-up)
There are still corruptible/bribed publishers that quote Microsoft staff like they're security gurus
Real Life Should be Offline, Not Online, and It Requires Free Software
Resistance means having the guts to say "no!", even in the face of great societal burden and peer pressure
10 Reasons to Permanently Export or Liberate Your Site From WordPress, Drupal, and Other Bloatware
There are certainly more more advantages, but 10 should suffice for now
About 200,000 Objects in Techrights Web Site
This hopefully helps demonstrate just how colossal the migration actually is
Good Teachers Would Tell Kids to Quit Social Control Media Rather Than Participate in It (Teaching Means Education, Not Misinformation)
Insist that classrooms offer education to children rather than offer children to corporations
Twitter: From Walled Gardens to Paywalls and/or Amplifiers of Fascism
There's moreover a push to promote politicians who are as scummy as Twitter's owner
The World Wide Web is Being Confiscated From Us (Like Syndication Was Withdrawn About a Decade Ago) and We Need to Fight Back
We're worse off when fewer people promote RSS feeds and instead outsource to social control media (censorship, surveillance, manipulation)
Next Up: Restoring IRC Log Pipelines, Bulletins/Full Text RSS, Wiki (Archived, Static), and Pipelines for Daily Links
There are still many tasks left ahead of us, but we've progressed a lot
An Era of Rotting Technology, Migration Crises, and Cliffhanging
We've covered examples from IBM, resembling the Microsoft world