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Links 21/12/2016: New BlackArch Linux and BusyBox 1.26 Released

GNOME bluefish



  • Merry Linux to you!
    Get ready to start caroling around the office with these Linux-centric lyrics to popular Christmas carols.

  • 5% Market Share, Linus Upset, Wonderful Bluestar
    Monday was a busy day in the Linux world, there were way too many good headlines to cover. One of the more interesting was a prediction from Jack Wallen who said that Linux should reach 5% market share in 2017. Bad news is, vulnerability discoveries are liable to increase as well. Elsewhere, Mr. Wallen reviewed Bluestar Linux, an Arch derivative featuring a customized Plasma desktop, making it sound so good it will be my next experiment. The Register spotted another scolding from Linus Torvalds and blogger Dedoimedo said Fedora 25 GNOME is "an interesting distro." Bryan Lunduke revived old 1992 BBS gaming and Adobe released an update for Flash.

  • Desktop

    • How can Linux get 5 percent desktop market share?
      Many people have been predicting the “year of the Linux desktop” for quite a while now, but it’s never happened. A redditor recently asked what it will take for Linux to actually achieve 5% desktop market share, and he got some interesting answers in the Linux subreddit.

  • Server

  • Kernel Space

    • 'Upset' Linus Torvalds gets sweary and gets results
      Linus Torvalds has unleashed a little ripe language on the Linux Kernel Mailing List, and quickly got results for having done so.

      “This piece-of-shit branch has obviously never been even compile-tested”, Torvalds wrote after receiving a pull request for some fixes to the KVM hypervisor that it was hoped might make it into Linux 4.10.

      Torvalds' ire looks justifiable, as the code he was asked to review included errors that the contributors added to their own branch.

      “Am I upset?” Torvalds asked on the list, answering “You bet I am. Get your act together. You can't just randomly revert things without checking the end result.”

    • Towards Enterprise Storage Interoperability
      With Dell EMC's contribution of the CoprHD SouthBound SDK (SB SDK) we're staking a claim for better interoperability. The SB SDK will help customers, developers and every day users be able to take some control over their storage interoperability, with an assist from the OpenSDS community. Right now, you can create block storage drivers pretty easily, with the ability to create filesystem and object storage drivers coming up later next year. The reference implementation you see in the GitHub code repository is designed to work with CoprHD and ViPR Controller, but over time we hope to see other implementations in widespread use across the industry.

    • Graphics Stack

    • Benchmarks

      • NVIDIA 375 vs. RADV+RadeonSI Mesa 13.1-dev Vulkan Benchmarks For Ending 2016
        The latest installment of our year-end benchmarks is focusing upon the performance of the NVIDIA Linux driver against the open-source Radeon Vulkan (RADV) driver found within Mesa 13.1-dev. This comparison is particularly interesting given the continuous flow of improvements into Mesa Git, the NVIDIA 375.26 driver release from last week, the big Dota 2 7.00 update debuted earlier this month, and Croteam's Vulkan improvements have rolled into TTP stable.

        Tested on the AMD side were the followign graphics cards that are supported (non-experimental) by AMDGPU DRM for RADV compatibility include the R9 285, RX 460, RX 480, and R9 Fury. Experimental GCN 1.0/1.1 benchmarks with RADV to come in its own article. For those curious about AMDGPU-PRO 16.50 fresh benchmarks on that front, I'll post some more soon albeit there obviously is no changes over my earlier 16.50 benchmarks given the infrequent hybrid driver releases.

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

      • Icon Widget Properties
        A feature that went missing in the transition from Plasma 4 to Plasma 5 was the ability to configure the icon widget. The upcoming Plasma 5.9 release is where this dialog will finally make its entry into the 5.x series.

      • How input works – pointer input
        In the last blog post I discussed keyboard input. This blog post will be all about pointer devices – mostly known as “mouse”. Like my other posts in this series, this post only discusses the situation on KWin/Wayland.

      • QtCon Talks here
        Many KDABians attended QtCon and contributed to the unique new Qt event we co-created in Berlin, the summer of 2016, along with Qt Contributors, KDE Akademi, VideoLan and FSFE.
      • Embedded Devices with Qt and the INTEGRITY RTOS
        Qt 4.8 support has been available for a long time on the INTEGRITY RTOS. We are now pleased to announce that a proof-of-concept port of Qt 5.7 to INTEGRITY has been completed by Green Hills engineers. During the work, we tested the port on all major embedded HW platforms, including ones that have OpenGL ES support available. Work continues together with The Qt Company and the Qt ecosystem and thanks to this initial prototype, the upcoming Qt 5.9 is expected to contain INTEGRITY support.

      • What I've been upto
        Yup, this project has been in the pipeline for months. While it (mostly) works on a clean install of KDE, it has some bugs with copying with mtp:/ device slaves and isn't very well integrated with Dolphin yet. It is in my best interest to have this shipped with KDE Frameworks as soon as possible, so I'm looking into patching Dolphin with better, more specific action support for my project.

  • Distributions

    • Reviews

      • Bodhi Linux 4.0.0 review
        For users with older computers, some of the modern Linux distributions can be too resource intensive. Bodhi Linux 4.0.0 is a lightweight distribution designed for those users. The minimum system requirements are a 500MHz processor, 128MB of RAM, and 4GB of disk space. The recommended requirements are a 1.0GHz processor, 512MB of RAM, and 10GB of disk space. Available in both 32-bit and 64-bit versions, as well as a "Legacy" release for really old 32-bit systems, Bodhi Linux 4.0.0 can easily bring new life to older computers.

        Bodhi Linux offers a couple of download options beyond the 32-bit/64-bit choice. There is a Standard release and an AppPack version. The Standard release is very bare-bones with only a minimal set of pre-installed options, while the AppPack version comes with a larger number of bundled applications. The ISO for the 64-bit Standard version is 647MB and the 64-bit AppPack version is 1.21GB (about twice the size). For the purposes of this review, I opted for the Standard version, so I could customize my system as I wished. However, I will be mentioning some of the AppPack version's additional software throughout this review.

      • Everything you wanted to know about Zorin OS 12
        Windows XP along with Windows 7 is one of the most favored operating system for millions of users around the world as of today, even though Microsoft has washed their hands off these operating system. No support for these platforms means, you will not get any security updates anymore and your data may be at risk. But there’s always a solution for all you Windows users, Linux is there for your rescue. And Zorin OS is one of the best desktop distribution for Linux desktops and with the new release Zorin OS 12, it only got better.

    • New Releases

    • OpenSUSE/SUSE

      • SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 12 for Raspberry Pi: An intriguing option for data centers
        SUSE announced recently that it managed to take its enterprise-grade platform, SUSE Linux Enterprise Server (SLES), and marry it with the Raspberry Pi. Fancy that—a platform created to support massive workloads and mission-critical services running on a $35 computer.

        You can download a 60-day evaluation of SUSE Enterprise Server 12 SP2 for Pi (login required). Be sure to check out the quick start guide. If you have trouble with subscription codes for SUSE Enterprise Server 12 SP2 for Pi, check out this forum thread.

    • Red Hat Family

    • Debian Family

      • Derivatives

        • Linux Kernel 4.9 Now Available in the Unstable Repos of Debian-Based SparkyLinux
          On December 20, 2016, the developers of the Debian-based SparkyLinux operating system announced the availability of the latest stable Linux 4.9 kernel series in the unstable repos of the GNU/Linux distribution.

          If you're reading the news lately, you should be aware of the fact that Linux kernel 4.9 was officially released more than a weeks ago, on December 11, 2016, as announced by Linus Torvalds himself. This means that most Linux OS vendors should soon start preparing to migrate to the latest Linux 4.9 kernel branch.

          It might take some time for the new Linux kernel 4.9 packages to land in the stable repositories of the most popular GNU/Linux distributions available today, including Arch Linux, Solus, Ubuntu, etc., but it looks like it landed earlier on the unstable repository of SparkyLinux.

        • Canonical/Ubuntu

          • This Intel board computer can be a powerful Ubuntu 16.04 Linux PC
            If you want a PC with Ubuntu Linux, you can turn to Intel's Joule single-board computer instead of buying an expensive machine.

            Support for Ubuntu 16.04 desktop OS has been added to the Joule board, according to developer notes for Intel IoT Developer Kit 5.0 released late last week.

          • Where Does Ubuntu Fit Into the Internet of Things?
            Ubuntu Linux started off as a desktop focused Linux distribution, but has expanded to multiple areas of the years. Ubuntu Linux is today a leading Linux server and cloud vendor and has aspirations to move into the embedded world, known today as the Internet of Things (IoT).

            In a video interview, Mark Shuttleworth, founder of Ubuntu and Canonical Inc., details some of the progress his firm has made in 2016 in the IoT world.

            Ubuntu has made past announcements about phone and TV efforts. While multiple Ubuntu phones exist, the standalone Ubuntu TV effort has evolved somewhat. Shuttleworth explained that Ubuntu Core, which is an optimized distribution of Ubuntu for embedded systems, is making some headway with TVs.

          • Ubuntu Budgie 17.04 Daily Builds Coming Soon, Budgie Desktop 10.2.9 Has Landed
            The development team behind the newest Ubuntu Linux flavor build around the lightweight Budgie desktop environment produced by the Solus Project, Ubuntu Budgie, published an informative newsletter about the latest news of the project.

          • Ubuntu 17.04 (Zesty Zapus) Linux OS to Use Swapfiles Instead of Swap Partitions
            Canonical's Dimitri John Ledkov announced recently plans to drop Swap partitions for new installations of upcoming Ubuntu Linux operating system releases, and replace them with so-called Swapfiles.

            Not that this is big news for most of us who own computers with SSD or NVMe flash drives and a lot of RAM (system memory), but we thought it might be of interested to those who will attempt to install future versions of Ubuntu on PCs from ten years ago. If you're not aware, Swap partitions or space is used when the amount of RAM) is full.

          • Canonical Patches 15 Linux Kernel Vulnerabilities in All Supported Ubuntu OSes
            On December 20, 2016, Canonical published several new USN (Ubuntu Security Notice) advisories to inform users of the popular Ubuntu Linux distribution about the general availability of kernel updates for their operating systems.

          • Flavours and Variants

            • Happy Holidays: Linux Mint get a major upgrade
              With this long-term support Linux desktop, which is based on Ubuntu 16.04, Linux Mint is better than ever. Since I've already found Linux Mint 18 to be the best desktop out there of any sort, that's saying something.

  • Devices/Embedded

Free Software/Open Source

  • Open source challenger takes on Google Translate
    Researchers have released an open source neural network system for performing language translations that could be an alternative to proprietary, black-box translation services.

    Open Source Neural Machine Translation (OpenNMT) merges work from researchers at Harvard with contributions from long-time machine-translation software creator Systran. It runs on the Torch scientific computing framework, which is also used by Facebook for its machine learning projects.

  • Op-ed: Why I’m not giving up on PGP
    Every once in a while, a prominent member of the security community publishes an article about how horrible OpenPGP is. Matthew Green wrote one in 2014 and Moxie Marlinspike wrote one in 2015. The most recent was written by Filippo Valsorda, here on the pages of Ars Technica, which Matthew Green says "sums up the main reason I think PGP is so bad and dangerous."

    In this article I want to respond to the points that Filippo raises. In short, Filippo is right about some of the details, but wrong about the big picture. For the record, I work on GnuPG, the most popular OpenPGP implementation.

  • Coopetition: All's fair in love and open source
    PostgreSQL vs. MySQL. MongoDB vs. Cassandra. Solr vs. Elasticsearch. ReactJS vs. AngularJS. If you have an open source project that you are passionate about, chances are a competing project exists and is doing similar things, with users as passionate as yours. Despite the "we're all happily sharing our code" vibe that many individuals in open source love to project, open source business, like any other, is filled with competition. Unlike other business models, however, open source presents unique challenges and opportunities when it comes to competition.

  • Illinois Turns Its Eye Toward Blockchain for Statewide Innovation
    Blockchain technology is the poster child for innovation in the financial tech space, but Illinois is taking an ambitious step forward by attempting to boldly adopt distributed ledger technology into several of its state agencies.

    The state announced last month at the Blockchain Conference Chicago that it was forming the Illinois Blockchain Initiative, a private-public partnership dedicated to exploring and utilizing blockchain in real-world and compelling ways, reports StateScoop.

    Blockchain technology “is a shared digital ledger, or a continually updated list of all transactions. This decentralized ledger keeps a record of each transaction that occurs across a fully distributed or peer-to-peer network, either public or private,” according to an article from international auditing firm PricewaterhouseCoopers.

  • Blockchain and the public sector - What happened in 2016
    Blockchain, also known as Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT), was the technology buzzword of 2016. The technology has been around since 2008. It underpins the digital cryptocurrency, Bitcoin and was conceptualised as a solution to the problem of making a database both secure and not requiring a trusted administrator.

  • Kickstarter Apps Go Open Source on iOS and Android Apps to Help Startups
    Kickstarter is known for giving startups the boost they need to get going. And independent developers will now get similar help by getting access to the functional programming used to create the app.

    Kickstarter announced recently the company had released open source iOS and Android. The announcement was made on the company’s official company blog.

    Kickstarter launched in 2009, but an official mobile app didn’t come around for some time. The site now has an Android and iOS version, and the company is doing one better by open sourcing the code for these native apps.

  • Open Source, Free Riders and Crowdfunding
    Until about ten years ago, "free as in speech, not as in beer," was an often repeated expression heard in open source circles. These days, the same sentiment is usually phrased as "free as in freedom." Even though it's fallen out of favor, I prefer the former. I think it more clearly explains the philosophy behind the open source development model. At the same time, it explains a problem that many essential open source projects face finding funding.

    Open source software is free to use, but as another old expression points out, there's no such thing as a free lunch. Open source or not, software doesn't get written for free -- nor can it be maintained without cash flow. Another old saying that fits here: If you're going to dance, you have to pay the piper.

  • Coreboot

    • Google "Poppy" Kabylake Board Added To Coreboot
      While Chromebook / ChromeOS fans have been looking forward to the Kabylake-based "Eve" device, it looks like another device is possibly forthcoming making use of these latest-generation Intel CPUs.

      A new board for "Poppy" was added yesterday to Coreboot Git. This Google Poppy board is indeed making use of an Intel Kabylake processor.

    • 100% Of The 289 Coreboot Images Are Now Built Reproducible
      Reproducible builds have been a big theme in particularly the last year or two with being able to verify the binaries offered by open-source projects are bit-for-bit the same against the same set of sources. With the latest Coreboot work, all of their generated images are now reproducible from source.

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice

    • 5 Essential LibreOffice Writer Tips to Improve Your Productivity
      LibreOffice is the frugal (or Linux) person’s choice of office suite, offering all the robustness of Microsoft’s dominant software while being fully open-source and not costing you a penny.

      While even the latest version of the word-processing part of LibreOffice, Writer, looks a little old-hat without the fancy ribboned interface of Microsoft office or WPS, don’t be fooled. It has all the tools you need to create quality documents quickly. Here are a bunch of tips to hone your LibreOffice craft.

  • Funding

    • Databricks $60 Million in New Funding to Advance its Spark Efforts
      People in the Big Data and Hadoop communities have been becoming increasingly interested in Apache Spark, an open source data analytics cluster computing framework originally developed in the AMPLab at UC Berkeley. IBM has made a huge financial commitment to advancing Spark, and companies like Databricks are focused on it as well.

  • Public Services/Government

    • Open source core to Greek govt procedure documentation
      The use of open source technology is a core part of a project to document Greek government procedures. The project, involving 200 public administration staff and university researchers, is creating or completing the documentation for Greece’s public sector procedures. Started in 2015, the Diadikasies project has so far completed documentation for 1652 procedures.

    • France, Germany promote open source in industry
      Industry in France and Germany should embrace open source, the governments of both countries say in the closing statement of the German-French digital conference in Berlin on 13 December. Open source is a key driver for digital innovation, the countries say.

    • France And Germany Get Free/Libre Open Source Software

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

    • Open Access/Content

      • Seeking Open Access Deal, 60 German Academic Institutions Ditch All Subscriptions With Elsevier
        In the struggle to provide open access to academic research, one company name keeps cropping up as a problem: Elsevier. Techdirt has written numerous stories about efforts to rein in the considerable -- and vastly profitable -- power that Elsevier wields in the world of academic publishing. These include boycotts of various kinds, mass resignations of journal editors, as well as access to millions of publicly-funded papers in ways that bypass Elsevier altogether.


  • 2017 predictions from IT leaders on the future of technology
    As we approach 2017, we asked IT leaders what they see on the horizon for the future of technology. We intentionally left the question open-ended, and as a result, the answers represent a broad range of what IT professionals may expect to face in the new year.

  • Science

    • Brexit will damage world-class science in the UK; throwing money at it won’t help
      The UK gets more money for research from the EU—€£8.8 billion between 2007 and 2013—than it contributes (€£5.4 billion for the same period). Fortunately, that shortfall is a relatively easy problem to solve by throwing money around, and the UK government has done that, as a new report from the House of Lords titled A time for boldness: EU membership and UK science after the referendum notes. Importantly, this boldness comes in the form of new money: "It is an additional commitment from the Treasury to underwrite EU research funding."

      However, the report also points out that "Reassurances on funding are welcome but if they were to expire, and are not replaced, this would undermine some of the benefit of the major increase announced in the 2016 Autumn Statement." In other words, the UK government's commitment to make up the shortfall needs to be long-term if it is to be effective.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • After Two Unconstitutional Anti-Abortion Bills Pass, We Have to Ask: What’s the Matter With Ohio’s Lame Duck Legislature?
      It’s lame duck season in the state of Ohio and this year seems like the “super special” version. During the lame duck session, the legislature has just a few short weeks to pass laws before all bills have to start over from scratch in the new year.

      In a matter of 72 hours, Ohio’s super-majority party has managed to attach, pass, and push through a nearly unbelievable amount of legislation.
    • Former Flint emergency managers, others charged in water crisis

      Michigan prosecutors on Tuesday charged four former government officials in Flint, including two city emergency managers, with conspiring to violate safety rules in connection with the city's water crisis that exposed residents to dangerous levels of lead.

      Former state-appointed emergency managers Darnell Earley and Gerald Ambrose and former city employees Howard Croft, a public works superintendent, and Daugherty Johnson, a utilities manager, were the latest to be charged in the case, Attorney General Bill Schuette said.

      The defendants conspired to operate the city's water treatment plant when it was not safe to do so, he told a news conference in Flint.

      "Flint was a casualty of arrogance, disdain and failure of management, an absence of accountability," Schuette said.

    • ‘The Trump Administration Looks Like Bad News for Almost Every Element of Drug Policy Reform’ - CounterSpin interview with Ethan Nadelmann on John Kelly
      They were hard-won and a long time coming, but there were clear signs of hope that the punitive, racist, violent and ineffective war on drugs was not just fading away, but maybe being consciously reconsidered. And however cynical you want to be about motives, nascent bipartisan moves around over-incarceration and sentencing disparities looked set to change the lives of real people.

    • Media Legitimizing GOP’s ‘Universal’ Health Plan That Doesn’t Exist

      Members of the GOP leadership were likely jubilant when they read the New York Times (12/15/16) and saw the following headline: “GOP Plans to Repeal Health Law with ‘Universal Access.’”

      The Times’ decision to include the words “universal,” “health” and “plan” in the headline was extremely misleading and irresponsible. It gave readers the distinct—and deceptive—impression that Republicans have something resembling a “universal” health plan, and will use it to replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

      It appears that the same corporate media who misled us into the Affordable Care Act (ACA) (Extra!, 4/10) are now misleading us out of it—and the Times’ reporting on the GOP’s health care agenda is a particularly egregious example of this.

    • Exxon Mobil Is Fighting to Keep Its Dangerous Chemicals in Children’s Toys
      Most of us know Exxon Mobil Corp. as an energy giant, which makes sense given that it is the world’s largest publicly held oil and gas company. Rex Tillerson, the company’s CEO, has spent his entire professional life prioritizing Exxon Mobil’s corporate interests over human rights, the environment, and the diplomatic interests of the U.S., all of which has prompted many journalists and commentators to point out that his appointment as secretary of state is not just a terrible idea but a joke seemingly ripped from the pages of a Marxist comic book.

      What’s less well known is that Exxon Mobil is also one of the world’s biggest chemical companies, and that its chemical interests also sometimes run counter to those of people in the U.S. and beyond. Petrochemicals accounted for more than a quarter of Exxon Mobil’s $16 billion in net profits last year and wound up in wide range of consumer products such as plastics, tires, batteries, detergents, adhesives, synthetic fibers, and household detergents.

      Among Exxon Mobil’s chemical products are phthalates, a family of chemicals widely used to make plastic pliable. Phthalates are in everything from food containers and plastic wrap to rattles, pacifiers, bottle nipples, and teething toys for babies. More than 75 percent of Americans have at least five of the chemicals in their body, according to a 2000 study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

    • ‘We’ve Seen Exxon Leading the Charge to Go After Groups That Criticized Them’
      A widely circulated news article on the appointment of Exxon Mobil CEO Rex Tillerson to be secretary of State opens with the note that “the brash Texas oilman…helped forge or supervise exploration, production, and refinery projects in 50 countries on six continents.” But corporate media really only appear interested in one country, and that’s Russia.

  • Security

    • ADUPS Android Malware Infects Barnes & Noble
      ADUPS is an Android "firmware provisioning" company based out of Shanghai, China. The software specializes both in Big Data collection of Android usage, and hostile app installation and/or firmware control. Google has blacklisted the ADUPS agent in its Android Compatibility Test Suite (CTS).

      ADUPS recently compromised many BLU-phone models and was found to be directly transmitting call logs, SMS, contacts, location info, nd more from handsets within the US to Chinese servers using DES (weak) encryption.

    • New Linux/Rakos threat: devices and servers under SSH scan (again) [Ed: No, it’s not a “Linux” problem that some people or developers use a crappy and predictable password]
      Apparently, frustrated users complain more often recently on various forums about their embedded devices being overloaded with computing and network tasks. What these particular posts have in common is the name of the process causing the problem. It is executed from a temporary directory and disguised as a part of the Java framework, namely “.javaxxx”. Additional names like “.swap” or “kworker” are also used. A few weeks ago, we discussed the recent Mirai incidents and Mirai-connected IoT security problems in The Hive Mind: When IoT devices go rogue and all that was written then still holds true.

    • Security advisories for Tuesday

    • OpenSSL After Heartbleed by Rich Salz & Tim Hudson, OpenSSL
      In this video from LinuxCon Europe, Rich Salz and Tim Hudson from the OpenSSL team take a deep dive into what happened with Heartbleed and the steps the OpenSSL team are taking to improve the project.

    • OpenSSL after Heartbleed

    • Container Security: Your Questions Answered
      To help you better understand containers, container security, and the role they can play in your enterprise, The Linux Foundation recently produced a free webinar hosted by John Kinsella, Founder and CTO of Layered Insight. Kinsella covered several topics, including container orchestration, the security advantages and disadvantages of containers and microservices, and some common security concerns, such as image and host security, vulnerability management, and container isolation.

    • Google scales tiny mountain to hunt down crypto bugs
      Google's Project Wycheproof is a new effort by Google to improve the security of widely used cryptography code.

      Many of the algorithms used in cryptography for encryption, decryption, and authentication are complicated, especially when asymmetric, public key cryptography is being used. Over the years, these complexities have resulted in a wide range of bugs in real crypto libraries and the software that uses them.

    • Mysterious Rakos Botnet Rises in the Shadows by Targeting Linux Servers, IoT Devices
      Somebody is building a botnet by infecting Linux servers and Linux-based IoT devices with a new malware strain named Rakos.

  • Defence/Aggression

    • Marine Le Pen denies cash-for-support deal with Russia
      French far-right leader Marine Le Pen may have received funding from Russian-backed banks as thanks for supporting Russia’s annexation of Crimea, French investigative news site Mediapart reported Tuesday, citing text messages exchanged between two Russian officials.

      In the messages, which Mediapart said it had obtained thanks to a hacking group called “Anonymous International,” Kremlin official Timur Prokopenko mentioned Le Pen dozens of times in exchanges with a person identified as Kostia. Anonymous International identified Kostia as Konstantin Rykov, a former pro-Putin MP who has a house in France and is known to have met with Le Pen.

      A few days before Crimea was due to hold a referendum on Russia’s annexation, in March 2014, Prokopenko wrote to Kostia asking to bring Le Pen to Crimea as an “observer” during the referendum. “We really need it. I told my boss you were in contact with her???”

    • Berlin terror suspect released
      The man arrested by Berlin police in connection with Monday’s deadly attack on a Christmas market in Berlin has been released, the federal prosecutor said in a statement Tuesday.

      “The investigations thus far have not produced urgent suspicion against the suspect,” the statement said.

      The man who was released is believed to be a Pakistani asylum seeker who had evaded immigration authorities’ attempts to question him after he arrived in the country a year ago, Interior Minister Thomas de Maizière said at a press conference earlier on Tuesday. The man had not been identified as a suspected terrorist prior to Monday’s events.

    • ISIS claims responsibility for Berlin attack, says driver was ‘soldier of the Islamic State’
      The German capital was on high alert Tuesday with one or more suspects still at large in the deadly truck assault on a Christmas market, even as the Islamic State claimed responsibility for an act that struck at the heart of Europe’s Christian traditions.

      Chancellor Angela Merkel decried the assault — which left 12 dead and 52 injured after a truck carrying a payload of steel careened into festive stalls and fairgoers in Berlin — as a presumed “terror attack,” even as German police scrambled to find the culprit. The only suspect to date — a Pakistani asylum seeker taken into custody shortly after Monday’s bloodshed — was released by police late Tuesday because of insufficient evidence.

    • Families Of Orlando Shooting Victims Sue Twitter, Facebook, And Google For 'Supporting Terrorism'

      Remember that time when Google, Twitter, and Facebook helped shoot up a nightclub in Orlando, Florida? Me neither. But attorney Keith Altman does. He's representing the families of three of the victims of the Pulse nightclub shooting in a lawsuit alleging [sigh] that these tech companies are somehow responsible for this act of terrorism.

    • Eva Bartlett and Joey Johnson
      For the first half of the program, Peter and Mickey discuss the conflict in Syria; their guest is independent journalist Eva Bartlett, who recently returned from Aleppo and is now on a US speaking tour. She explains why most corporate media coverage of Syria, and even some progressive coverage, doesn’t depict the actual situation there. In the second half of the program, the guest is Joey Johnson, whose burning of an American flag in 1984 became a US Supreme Court free-speech case, where they ruled in his favor in 1989. Johnson is facing charges again over the burning of a flag outside the 2016 Republican National Convention.

    • The Terrifying Executive We Need for the Wrong Reasons
      I understand why all of the often false, usually bombastic, reporting on Trump is angering me.

      You know the stuff — take a “fact,” real or fully made up, and conflate it with some apocalyptic prediction. Watch: Trump alternates between wearing boxers and briefs. Will his indecisiveness cause him to pull back when America is attacked by the Russians?

      The other story everyone writes now is based on the journalist’s apparent post-November 9 discovery of an element of fascism, racism and/or parts of the Constitution and presidential practice. And so someone is shocked that Trump will be able to choose drone kill targets, or have access to everything the NSA sweeps up about his enemies.

    • Trump’s Pick for Interior Secretary Was Caught in “Pattern of Fraud” at SEAL Team 6
      A Montana lawmaker tapped by President-elect Donald Trump to be secretary of the interior committed travel fraud when he was a member of the elite Navy SEAL Team 6, according to three former unit leaders and a military consultant.

      In announcing the nomination of Republican Rep. Ryan Zinke, a retired Navy SEAL commander, Trump praised his military background. “As a former Navy SEAL, he has incredible leadership skills and an attitude of doing whatever it takes to win,” Trump said last week.

      But when Zinke was a mid-career officer at SEAL Team 6, he was caught traveling multiple times to Montana in 1998 and 1999 to renovate his home. Zinke claimed that the travel was for official duties, according to the sources.

      He submitted travel vouchers and was compensated for the travel costs.

    • How Many Children Were Shot Dead Today? An Interview with Gary Younge
      Every day, on average, seven children and teenagers are shot dead in the United States. November 23, 2013 — the day Gary Younge chose randomly as the setting for his book Another Day in the Death of America — was “just another day in America.”

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • Former church member launches ‘Mormon Wikileaks’ for anonymous tips and whistleblowers
      A former member of the Mormon church has launched a “Wikileaks”-inspired website in an effort to make the famously private Latter Day Saints more transparent.

      MormonWikiLeaks went live on Tuesday after two-and-a-half months of planning and, like the original WikiLeaks, will seek to expose validated documents or videos anonymous tipsters choose to send in. The group also plans to have social media pages.

      Founder Ryan McKnight, a resident of Las Vegas, Nevada, conceived of the idea for the site after he helped an anonymous source leak videos of senior church members at a twice-yearly conference in October. He has been “bombarded” with people looking to share information since.

    • Every month a whistleblower wants to report misconduct

      Since going public in June 2013, Commonwealth Bank whistleblower Jeff Morris is contacted at least once a month by company insiders asking for advice about reporting corporate misconduct.

      "When I explain the potential cost to them: the loss of not just their job but also their career, due to vindictive back channel smear campaigns; the lack of any effective protection or compensation, let alone rewards; most walk away," he says.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • Climate scientists are launching an anonymous hotline for government workers to report Trump meddling
      Climate scientists are predicting rough weather for their profession in 2017. US president-elect Donald Trump’s statements on climate change, his appointments to head environmental agencies, and the threatening actions of his transition team all have the nation’s weather professionals on alert and preparing for the worst.

      The Center for Science and Democracy at the Union of Concerned Scientists in Cambridge, Massachusetts, has established a hotline for National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) employees to report political meddling. There’s currently concern among NOAA scientists about who Trump’s pick to head the agency will be. “I am hearing a lot of worry,” union director Andrew Rosenberg told Bloomberg. “The worry is that they will be putting another ideologue in place.”

    • 70,000 Demand Obama Protect Climate from Trump Denialism
      ust one month from inauguration and with confirmation hearings looming for President-elect Trump’s climate-denier cabinet, an international coalition of human rights and environmental groups is appealing to President Obama to take one final action to advance justice and action on climate change in spite of Trump.

    • Collapse of West Antarctic Ice Sheet Reveals Inadequacy of Current Climate Strategies
      With president-elect Donald Trump and his army of climate deniers preparing to take office, it could be a hard battle to get the US to adhere to any sort of climate policy anytime soon. This is hard news because today's suggested but nowhere-implemented climate policy was already much less restrictive than the climate policy from the mid-1990s. In a world where we have emitted as much carbon dioxide since 1987 as was emitted in the previous 230 years, why has policy not become more stringent? This outdated emissions reductions policy has earned the title "legacy," not because it is worthy of recognition, or something we want to pass on to future generations, but because it is like "legacy software," in that "it is difficult to replace because of its wide usage."

      The climate policy strategy that we are attempting to implement in the face of Trump's intransigence is conceptually similar to what we were supposed to adopt with the Kyoto Protocol back in the 1990s. That is, it involves a reduction of annual greenhouse gas emissions. The two relevant actions that we are now struggling to implement are the Clean Power Plan (CPP) and Obama's Paris Climate Conference commitment. The CPP is still not implemented and has been sent back to District Court for further litigation. On paper, its emissions reductions are a fraction more restrictive than the initial Kyoto targets but overall, the CPP is significantly less restrictive than Kyoto because Kyoto targets were supposed to have been achieved in 2012. The CPP pushed the deadline back 18 years to 2030.

  • Finance

    • I make $2.35 an hour in coal country. I don’t want handouts. I want a living wage.
      I grew up in Dickenson County, Va. Like many who were raised in the heart of Appalachia, I come from a long line of coal miners. My great-grandfathers, grandfathers, uncles and cousins all went underground to dig the coal that kept the lights on for communities across our country.

      My family members, like thousands throughout coal country, took pride in their work. We stuck together and fought to make our jobs good jobs. In April 1989, the Pittston Coal Co. cut health care for mineworkers, and 2,000 miners walked out on strike. My pawpaw was one of them. When Pittston brought scabs in to work at lower wages and called on state troopers to break up the strike, the mineworkers, with their community behind them, didn’t back down — they fought harder. Through months of civil disobedience, blocking roads and mine entrances and holding public demonstrations, the United Mine Workers of America won the wages and benefits our families deserved in February 1990.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Teaching Civics in the Time of Trump
      Do we need a new Schoolhouse Rock! to remind us how to run a democracy?

    • Can We Fire the Electoral College? Probably Not, but We Can Put It Under New Management
      The electors of the Electoral College met this afternoon in their respective states and anointed as president the candidate who won the popular vote in a larger number of states — Donald Trump — regardless of the fact that another candidate — Hillary Clinton — won the larger number of votes by several million.

      The ACLU has opposed the Electoral College since 1969 for non-partisan reasons. By now — everyone, Republicans, Democrats, and none-of-the-aboves — should be fed up with its undemocratic and unpredictable nature.

      Unfortunately, amending the Constitution to eliminate this atavistic system is a practical impossibility for the same reason the Electoral College is a problem: The less populous states have a disproportionate share of voting power. Constitutional amendments require approval by three-quarters of the states, not a national majority or even super-majority of voters. Most states are currently Republican-dominated, and Republicans may believe at the moment that the peculiarities of the Electoral College will help to serve their partisan goals in future elections.
    • Republicans Will Review Recount Process

      But some Republicans say the recount surfaced issues that must be researched, and maybe fixed.

      “While the recount was more of a publicity stunt than anything else, at the very least it proved that our state has a fair and trustworthy system because of our efforts to reduce fraud with the implementation of voter ID,” said Assembly Speaker Robin Vos.

      “Moving forward, we will investigate additional ways to reform our election laws to reduce any chance of fraud,” Vos added. “The Assembly Republican caucus will also discuss changes to the recount statute to insure Wisconsin taxpayers don’t bear any of the costs of future recounts.”

    • Why US liberals are now buying guns too
      Gun ownership has traditionally been associated with the right wing in America but the election of Donald Trump has prompted some left-wingers to join gun clubs - and even start preparing for the collapse of society.

      "I really didn't expect to be thinking about purchasing a gun. It was something that my father did and I rolled my eyes at him."

    • Green Party Activist: No, Jill Stein's Recount Was Not A 'Front' For The Clinton Campaign
      By now, it is clear that the two main corporate-backed political parties will never allow ballots to be re-counted in any U.S. Presidential election.

      I am writing on the morning that the electoral college will be voting on who will become the next president of the United States. Even at this late date the evidence mounts that hundreds of thousands of voters cast legitimate ballots in the 2016 elections that were never counted. Yet the Democratic Party and its candidate, Hillary Clinton, have refused to file any court challenges to the elections machinery, oversight, or illegitimate processes.

      And the Republican Party continues to go all-out to block Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein's attempt to force three states to count every ballot by hand.

      One would think: “Who could be opposed to counting every ballot?”

      Both the Democrat and Republican parties and their candidates each twist rationalizations like pretzels to prevent a re-count.

    • The Electoral College Desecrates Democracy—Especially This Time
      The Electoral College was created 229 years ago as a check and balance against popular sovereignty. And, with its formal endorsement of Donald Trump for the presidency, this absurd anachronism has once again completed its mission of desecrating democracy.

      As of Monday afternoon, the actual vote count in the race for the presidency was: Democrat Hillary Clinton 65,844,594, Republican Donald Trump 62,979,616. That’s a 2,864,978 popular-vote victory. Yet, when the last of the electors from the 50 states and the District of Columbia had completed their quadrennial mission early Monday evening, the Electoral College vote was: Trump 304, Clinton 227.

      So-called “faithless” electors split from Trump and Clinton, casting votes for Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, former Secretary of State Colin Powell, Ohio Governor John Kasich, former Congressman Ron Paul and Native American elder (and Dakota Access Pipeline critic) Faith Spotted Eagle.

    • What Trump's Cabinet of 'best people' lacks
      You're hired. That's what President-elect Donald Trump has been telling the select group of individuals whom he has chosen for his Cabinet. On Thursday he named Rep. Ryan Zinke, R-Montana, to lead the Department of the Interior. "America is the most beautiful country in the world and he is going to help keep it that way with smart management of our federal lands," Trump said in a statement. Now, with only the slots for secretary of agriculture and veteran's affairs still open, it seems highly unlikely that any Latinos will have a spot in Trump's Cabinet.

    • Detroit's election woes: 782 more votes than voters
      Whether the result of machine malfunction, human error or even fraud, the unexplained voting discrepancies in Detroit last month were not sizable enough to affect the outcome in Michigan of the presidential election, according to a new Free Press analysis of voting precinct records.

      In 248 precincts, there were a total of 782 more votes tabulated by voting machines than the number of voters listed as picking up ballots in the precincts’ poll books. That makes up just three-tenths of 1% of the total 248,211 votes that were logged in Detroit for the presidential election. That number was far too small to swing the statewide election results, even in this year’s especially tight race that saw a Republican win Michigan for the first time since George Bush in 1988.

    • My President Was Black
      Obama’s ties to the South Side tradition that Washington represented were complicated. Like Washington, Obama attempted to forge a coalition between black South Siders and the broader community. But Obama, despite his adherence to black cultural mores, was, with his roots in Kansas and Hawaii, his Ivy League pedigree, and his ties to the University of Chicago, still an exotic out-of-towner. “They were a bit skeptical of him,” says Salim Muwakkil, a journalist who has covered Obama since before his days in the Illinois state Senate. “Chicago is a very insular community, and he came from nowhere, seemingly.”

    • Only one-third of Americans say Russia influenced 2016 election
      Just one-third of Americans say they believe Russia influenced the 2016 presidential election, according to a new POLITICO/Morning Consult poll.

      Forty-four percent of the 2,000 voters polled Dec. 15 through Dec. 17 said they do not think Russia influenced November's election, while a quarter are still unsure.

    • Trump on Free Speech and Freedom of the Press
      No one can know for sure what the incoming Trump administration will do, but President-elect Donald Trump has repeatedly criticized and threatened the media in the United States. In lieu of attempting the impossible and predicting the future, we’ve gathered all of Trump’s stated positions on free speech and freedom of the press. If you are aware of any additional statements that we have not included, please email with a link to your source material, and we will consider it for inclusion.

      While running for president, Trump made his general feelings about the press very clear. He has called the media “dishonest” and described reporters as “scum,” “sleaze,” and “horrible people.” At a rally last February, he famously said, "I'm going to open up our libel laws so when they write purposely negative and horrible and false articles, we can sue them and win lots of money."

    • Why Hillary Lost, According to Hillary
      It wasn’t her fault.

      The Clinton campaign, and Hillary herself, summed up her loss by blaming FBI Director Comey as an individual, the FBI as an organization, and of course the Russians and the Russians and the Russians and Putin himself for the loss. “Angry white men” got tagged as well. Nobody likes Huma Abedin anymore, either. That’s pretty much it.

    • Clinton’s Defeat and the Fake News Conspiracy
      There is an astounding double standard being applied to the US presidential election result.

      A few weeks ago the corporate media were appalled that Donald Trump demurred on whether he would accept the vote if it went against him. It was proof of his anti-democratic, authoritarian instincts.

      But now he has won, the same media outlets are cheerleading the establishment’s full-frontal assault on the legitimacy of a Trump presidency. That campaign is being headed by the failed candidate, Hillary Clinton, after a lengthy softening-up operation by US intelligence agencies, led by the CIA.

      According to the prevailing claim, Russian president Vladimir Putin stole the election on behalf of Trump (apparently by resorting to the US playbook on psy-ops). Trump is not truly a US president, it seems. He’s Russia’s placeman in the White House – a Moscovian candidate.

    • The Left’s Risk in Blaming Russia
      This week began with a mass email from the head of the Democratic National Committee, who declared: “By now, Americans know beyond any reasonable doubt that the Russian government orchestrated a series of cyberattacks on political campaigns and organizations over the past two years and used stolen information to influence the presidential campaign and congressional races.” DNC chair Donna Brazile went on: “The integrity of our elections is too important for Congress to refuse to take these attacks seriously.”

  • Censorship/Free Speech

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • How Tech Companies Can Fight for Their Users in the Courts
      There are a lot of political uncertainties around the incoming Trump administration, but the threats to civil liberties are potentially greater than ever. President Obama failed to rein in the surveillance state, and Mr. Trump has nominated cabinet members like Mike Pompeo who are big fans of bulk surveillance. Now, given Mr. Trump’s campaign posture of being a “law and order” candidate who has openly criticized Apple for standing up for strong encryption, tech companies need to be even more vigilant in fighting for their users in the courts.

      EFF stands ready to support those who will be pioneers in these efforts. Below, we highlight a few ways companies can stand up for their users, along with some prominent examples of from the past. In addition, for the last six years EFF has produced an annual “Who Has Your Back?” report evaluating the practices of technology companies in categories such as insisting on a warrant for user content and issuing transparency reports. Companies can look at these reports to get a sense of best practices in the industry.

    • Trump and His Advisors on Surveillance, Encryption, Cybersecurity

      On encryption, Trump said in early 2016 that Apple should have to make available data stored on an iPhone linked to the shooter in last year’s attack in San Bernardino, California. Apple repeatedly challenged the FBI’s demands that the company build a tool to access the secure data on the encrypted device.

      "But to think that Apple won't allow us to get into her cell phone," Trump said in an interview. "Who do they think they are? No, we have to open it up."

      Trump also famously called for a boycott of Apple until the company helped to unlock the device, criticizing Apple CEO Tim Cook for “looking to do a big number, probably to show how liberal he is.”
    • ORG's first take on the leaked e-Privacy Regulations
      The leaked e-Privacy Regulation (ePR) brings many improved protections to our communications data, which are now extended to communications devices and internet services, not just traditional telecom providers. At the same time this modernisation has brought other fundamental changes that could have less welcome consequences.

      Here we focus on the basic changes to electronic communications. Most other analyses of the leaked ePR will probably focus on cookies and the impact on online advertising, and rightly so as this is really important. We don’t have the space here for a proper take on both here, but in the coming months we will also engage with those other areas: cookies, marketing, nuisance calls, as well as the enforcement aspects.

    • Court Says Abandoned Phone Locked With A Passcode Still Has Expectation Of Privacy
      A Florida Court of Appeals has handed down a somewhat surprising ruling [PDF] in a case centering on evidence obtained from a teen's cellphone. (via

      Two juveniles fled their vehicle during a traffic stop, with one of them (referred to as "K.C." in the ruling) leaving behind his cellphone on the car's seat. This phone -- whose lockscreen featured a photo of someone who "looked similar" to "K.C." -- was taken by the officer.

      Several months later, the PD's forensic lab was asked to determine ownership of the phone. The phone was locked with a passcode, but the lab was able to unlock and retrieve this information. No warrant was obtained and the search apparently wasn't limited to determining ownership. The use of evidence obtained from the phone was challenged, but the state felt it had plenty of warrant exceptions to save its search.

    • EFF urges companies to prepare for more surveillance and censorship
      The Electronic Frontier Foundation – a group of tech pioneers trying to keep the Internet open and free – have published an open letter to tech companies pleading them to prepare for an era of increased Internet surveillance and censorship. The EFF is citing statements by Trump and his advisors regarding Internet control, net neutrality, and freedom of speech and the press.
    • Donald Trump’s future NSA director met with Austrian party founded by Nazis
      The leader of Austria’s Nazi-founded Freedom Party has signed a cooperation agreement with Russia’s ruling party — only weeks after meeting with Lt. Gen. Michael T. Flynn, who will soon be national security adviser to President-elect Donald Trump. This muddies the waters as to the United States’ place in a geopolitical world that could be dominated by Russia in the near term.

      Heinz-Christian Strache, the leader of the Freedom Party, announced that he had signed the agreement with Putin’s own United Russia party on his Facebook page, The New York Times reported on Monday. The announcement also mentioned that Strache had visited Flynn a few weeks earlier in Trump Tower. The cooperation agreement itself includes plans for collaboration between United Russia and the Freedom Party on economic, business, and political projects over the next five years.

      Founded in the 1950s by former Nazis, the Freedom Party nearly captured the Austrian presidency (which is largely ceremonial) in May but lost a runoff election on Dec. 4. It nevertheless remains a potent force in Austrian politics, where it leads all opinions polls ahead of the two mainstream parties, and is best known for its hardline stance against immigration and its defensiveness toward Russia. Indeed, Russia’s signatory Sergei Zheleznyak identified Europe’s “migration crisis” as one of the key areas where the two parties could work together.

    • Report: Shadow Brokers Leaks Trace to NSA Insider

    • Report: ShadowBrokers Obtained Stolen NSA Info Via Rogue Insider
    • ShadowBrokers got NSA spy tools from rogue insider
      The ShadowBrokers didn't break into the United States National Security Agency after all. The latest research into the group of cybercriminals selling alleged NSA spy tools reinforced the idea that they'd received the classified materials from an insider within the intelligence agency, security company Flashpoint said.

      Analysis of the latest ShadowBrokers dump, which was announced earlier in the month on the blogging platform Medium by "Boceffus Cleetus," suggests the spy tools were initially taken directly from an NSA code repository by a rogue insider, Flashpoint said. The company's researchers analyzed the sample file containing implants and exploits and various screenshots provided in the post and have "medium confidence" that an NSA employee or contractor initially leaked the tools, said Ronnie Tokazowski, senior malware analyst with Flashpoint. However, they were still "uncertain of how these documents were exfiltrated," he said.

    • Shadow Brokers are back with ‘stolen NSA cyberweapons’, now 99.9% off

      That’s the self-styled, pseudo-semi-literate but surely satirical hacker group that claimed in August 2016 to have penetrated the NSA, or some other organisation of that sort, and made off with “cyberweapons” worth more than $500 million.

      They dumped a few files as tasters, with the claim that the files they were keeping back to sell were “better than Stuxnet.”

      That’s a bold claim, given that Stuxnet was the airgap-jumping USB virus that was allegedly written to sneak right into the heart of Iran’s uranium enrichment programme.
    • Facebook charged with misleading EU on $22 billion WhatsApp merger
      Brussels' competition officials issued a charge sheet against Facebook on Tuesday, in which it is alleged that the free content ad network failed to disclose that "the technical possibility of automatically matching Facebook users' IDs with WhatsApp users' IDs already existed" at the time of the merger.

      Antitrust chief Margerthe Vestager said that companies must provide "accurate information" during routine competition probes into planned acquisitions.

      "They must take this obligation seriously," she said. "In this specific case, the commission's preliminary view is that Facebook gave us incorrect or misleading information during the investigation into its acquisition of WhatsApp. Facebook now has the opportunity to respond."

    • James Clapper's Office To Finally Reveal NSA's 'Incidental Collection' Numbers

      Prior to the Snowden leaks making it unignorable, the NSA denied the incidental collection of Americans' communications was much of a problem. Ron Wyden and Mark Udall were two of the few members of the NSA's oversight willing to ask tough questions. One of the questions they asked -- all the way back in 2011 -- was how many Americans were spied on by the NSA's programs. The answer may shock you/cause uncontrollable eyerolling.
    • EFF's full-page Wired ad: Dear tech, delete your logs before it's too late
      EFF has run a full-page ad in this month's Wired, addressed to the technology industry, under the banner "Your threat model just changed," warning them that the incoming administration has vowed to spy on and deport millions of their fellow Americans on the basis of religion and race, and that they are in grave risk of having their services conscripted to help with this effort. (Trump is also an avowed opponent of net neutrality)

    • GCHQ should do more to guard against financial cyber crime, Tory MP urges
    • NCSC boss asked to detail efforts to protect financial services sector against cyberattacks
    • GCHQ must do more to protect banks against cyber attacks, Tory MP urges
    • Notable Analyst Coverage Update: Red Hat, Inc. (NYSE:RHT), Sempra Energy (NYSE:SRE)

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Unequal Sentences for Blacks and Whites
      In Flagler County, Fla., blacks convicted of robbery were given prison sentences nearly triple those of whites, even though the circumstances of the crimes were the same.

    • Malcolm Gladwell Likes Leaks When They Bolster Government Power
      But maybe more surprising than the class bias of the New Yorker’s resident deep-thinker is his take on the role of anonymous leaks. In a properly functioning media system, Gladwell argues, the purpose of leaks is to fool people into accepting government indoctrination—and it would be a shame if that system were to break down.

      Gladwell borrows (of course) this argument from Columbia law professor David Pozen (Harvard Law Review, 12/20/13), writing, “Pozen argues that governments look the other way when it comes to leaks because it is in their interest to do so.” Pozen makes a distinction between unauthorized “leaks” and “plants”—the latter being “a leak made with the full authorization of the White House.”

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • AT&T, Verizon Laugh At The FCC's Last-Minute Attempt To Crack Down On Zero Rating
      So we've noted several times how the FCC's decision to avoid banning zero rating when crafting net neutrality rules was a bad idea, as it opened the door wide to all manner of net neutrality violations -- provided incumbent ISPs were just creative about it. And like clockwork, companies like AT&T, Verizon and Comcast quickly got to work exempting their own content from usage caps, while penalizing competitors (and non-profits or educational services). Meanwhile companies like Sprint and T-Mobile began charging users a steep premium unless they wanted games, video and music throttled by default.

      Unlike many other countries (Japan, The Netherlands, Norway, India), the FCC decided to avoid banning these kinds of practices as part of neutrality rules, instead saying they'd step in and act on a "cases by case" basis should ISP behaviors prove anti-competitive. But as ISPs increasingly made it very clear they were using arbitrary usage caps as anti-competitive weapons against competing streaming video services, the FCC did nothing. That is, until the agency reached out to AT&T and Verizon last month, formally accusing both companies of violating net neutrality.

      It's a strange, belated decision by an FCC that, by most analyst accounts, is about to be defunded and defanged. Both the GOP and incoming Trump administration have clear they see no role for the agency as a consumer or competition watchdog. With FCC boss Tom Wheeler having just stepped down, both AT&T and Verizon are well aware the current FCC is a lame duck. As such both companies responded to the FCC's inquiries this week with the legal equivalent of laughter.

    • Trump and His Advisors on Net Neutrality
      Through the combined efforts of EFF and a coalition of public interest groups -- and four million of you who wrote in to the FCC -- we won carefully tailored and essential net neutrality protections in 2015 and defended them in court in 2016. But how will the incoming Trump administration impact net neutrality in 2017? We’ve collected a range of statements on the positions of Trump, his transition team, and those who are likely to guide the new administration on this issue.

      Trump took a swipe at net neutrality in a November 2014 tweet, stating, “Obama’s Attack on the Internet is another top down power grab. Net neutrality is the Fairness Doctrine. Will target Conservative Media.”

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Copyrights

      • How The DMCA And The CFAA Are Preventing People From Saving Their Soon-To-Be-Broken Pebble Watches
        I've made no secret of the fact that I think smartwatches are really wonderful, even as lots of people scoff at the concept (and sales have been disappointing across the board). The first device that clued me in to the possible power of the smartwatch was the original Pebble smartwatch, which I (and many, many others) backed on Kickstarter. I ended up backing their second Kickstarter campaign as well -- but was disappointed in the end product and ended up moving on to another smartwatch instead (the Moto 360, though now it looks like Motorola is dumping that business as well). I didn't end up backing Pebble's latest Kickstarter campaign, which turned out to be a good thing, because as you may have heard, the company announced last week that it had sold its assets to Fitbit, and no more work would be done on Pebble watches (and people who backed the latest project would eventually get refunds, but no watches).

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