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Links 27/1/2017: Kodi 17.0 RC4, Alpine Linux 3.5.1 Released

GNOME bluefish



  • Server

    • IBM: We’re the Red Hat of Deep Learning
      IBM today took the wraps off a new release of PowerAI, the prepackaged bundle of deep learning frameworks that debuted last fall. With the addition of Google’s TensorFlow framework, the company says its AI business model is starting to resemble the Linux distributor Red Hat.

      “In a sense, PowerAI makes IBM the Red Hat of deep learning,” Sumit Gupta, the vice president of IBM‘s High Performance Computing & Data Analytics business, told Datanami. “You don’t go to to download Linux. You go to Red Hat. In the same way, instead of going to TensorFlow or Caffe or other websites [for deep learning frameworks], they want an enterprise-level distribution.”

    • IBM Adds TensorFlow Support for PowerAI Deep Learning
      Today IBM announced that its PowerAI distribution for popular open source Machine Learning and Deep Learning frameworks on the POWER8 architecture now supports the TensorFlow 0.12 framework that was originally created by Google. TensorFlow support through IBM PowerAI provides enterprises with another option for fast, flexible, and production-ready tools and support for developing advanced machine learning products and systems.

    • IBM's Spark-Driven Data Science Experience Cozies Up to GitHub
      A few months ago, we caught up with Kavitha Mariappan, who is Vice President of Marketing at Databricks, for a guest post on open source tools and the rapidly evolving field of data science. She noted that Apache Spark supports complete data science pipelines with libraries that run on the Spark engine.

    • Serverless Front-End Deployments Using npm - Charlie Robbins, GoDaddy

    • Serverless Front-End Deployments at GoDaddy
      At GoDaddy, Charlie Robbins is heading the project, a framework that enforces a coherent workflow for serverless front-end deployments. In his talk at Node.js Interactive, Robbins said that deployments are all about serving new functionalities to visitors. Most Node.js front ends have some code asset -- an app written using React, Angular, JQuery, or whatever. You push the code asset onto the server, and it ends up co-located with the server. Then it is served to users/visitors.

    • Oracle Officially Migrates Solaris to Continuous Delivery Approach
      For decades, Sun Microsystems updated its Solaris Unix operating system with new major releases on a semi-regular release cycle. When Oracle acquired Sun in 2010, the early expectation was that Solaris would continue to evolve in a similar manner, but that's no longer the case.

    • Huge Growth Expected for OpenStack and Hadoop, Despite Skills Gap
      Now, Technavio researchers are out with a new study forecasting that the global cloud management for OpenStack market will grow at a CAGR of 30.49% over the next four years. In both the Hadoop report and the OpenStack one, though, there are citations referring to a skills gap, where organizations are having trouble hiring skilled OpenStack and Hadoop technologists.

    • 8 Resolutions Linux System Admins to Follow in 2017
      So we have entered into a wonderful New Year and it’s time to take our resolutions. We’ve put together a list of resolutions which every Linux system admin may consider following in 2017.

    • Platform9 pumps 'programmatic DevOps' with Managed Kubernetes

    • Platform9 Building Open-Source AWS Lambda Alternative
      Platform9 officially launches its managed Kubernetes service and pushes forward on development of its Fission open-source effort, enabling serverless application capabilities.

      The emerging world of serverless computing could soon see another viable option if the open-source Fission effort that Platform9 is helping to lead is successful.

    • Rethinking Monitoring for Container Operations
      Monitoring is not a new concept, but a lot has changed about the systems that need monitoring and which teams are responsible for it. In the past, monitoring used to be as simple as checking if a computer was still running. Dave Charles, chief technology officer of, remembers monitoring as simple instrumentation that came alongside a product.

  • Audiocasts/Shows

    • Podcast Season 5 Episode 1
      In this episode: Sayonara cyanogenmod, hello Dell, open source Pi and KillDisk. Plus some awesome finds and a fresh new VotM.

  • Kernel Space

    • Google Touts Security Measures for Its Open Source Hypervisor
      Main among them is efforts to reduce attack surface, ensure code integrity and find vulnerabilities.

      Google has often touted the various management and security capabilities available with its cloud services as part of an ongoing campaign to convince businesses about the enterprise readiness of its hosted offerings.

    • Self-protection is key to Linux kernel security
      Linux has quietly taken over the world. The operating system now powers the large datacenters that make all our cloud applications and services possible, along with billions of Android devices and internet-connected gadgets that comprise the internet of things (IoT). Even the systems that handle the day-to-day operations on the International Space Station run Linux.

    • Linux Kernel 4.4.45 LTS Is Another Small Patch, Introduces ARM Improvements
      Immediately after announcing the release of Linux kernel 4.9.6, kernel maintainer Greg Kroah-Hartman announced today, January 26, 2017, the release of the long-term supported Linux 4.4.45 kernel.

    • Linux Kernel 4.9.6 Rolls Out with ARM and AArch64 Improvements, Updated Drivers
      Another week, another Linux kernel surfaces the web in an attempt to improve the security and performance of your GNU/Linux distribution and the hardware that power's your personal computer.

      Linux kernel 4.9.6 is the sixth maintenance update to the Linux 4.9 branch, which was recently declared as LTS (Long Term Support) by renowned Linux kernel maintainer Greg Kroah-Hartman. These days, most Linux-based operating systems are still in the process of migrating to the Linux 4.9 series from Linux 4.8, which reached end of life earlier this month.

    • Linux 4.9.6 released
      Just few moments back, Linux Kernel going well under 4.9.y stable versions got an update as Linux Kernel 4.9.6.Linux Kernel maintainer Greg Kroah-Hartman announced the same with a list of changes been made in this particular release.

    • Lennart Poettering on systemd’s Tumultuous Ascendancy in the Linux Community
      Lennart Poettering is one of those few extremely prolific and brilliant engineers who have literally changed the design of Linux-based operating systems. In this interview, we discuss his first interaction with the Linux community, why Canonical’s Upstart initialization daemon failed to gain traction and why Poettering created his own initialization software, systemd. He also talks about what he feels is wrong with Docker containers, and much more.

    • Take Linux From Zero to Boot in Less Than a Second
      Some of us here at FOSS Force don’t mind waiting for a computer to boot. It reminds us of the old days when, after turning on the TV, radio or record player, we had to wait for the tubes to warm up.

    • Graphics Stack

      • An Even Easier Introduction to CUDA

      • AMDGPU Changes Queued For Linux 4.11: Power/TTM Changes, No DC/DAL
        Alex Deucher of AMD sent in the Radeon/AMDGPU DRM driver changes today to DRM-Next for then merging into the Linux 4.11 kernel a few weeks down the road.

        There are some notable additions to the AMDGPU DRM driver for this next kernel cycle. But for those looking forward to the DC (DAL) display code rework as the stepping stone towards HDMI 2.0 / atomic mode-setting / HDMI/DP audio / FreeSync / much more, that code isn't yet ready. We weren't quite expecting it to be for Linux 4.11, but we could always have hoped, especially some Linux gamers/users are waiting rather anxiously for this support. Hopefully we'll see it happen for Linux 4.12?

      • RadeonSI / Gallium3D Wires In Support For 64-bit Integers
        Within Mesa Git this morning is another feature flipped on for the RadeonSI Gallium3D driver: ARB_gpu_shader_int64.

        The ARB_gpu_shader_int64 extension provides 64-bit integer support in the driver, just as ARB_gpu_shader_fp64 is for floating-point data types. All the technical details on it via the Khronos registry.

    • Benchmarks

      • AMDGPU/RadeonSI Linux 4.10 + Mesa 17.1-dev vs. NVIDIA 378.09 Performance
        For those curious about the latest Linux gaming performance numbers for the latest Linux 4.10 Git kernel plus Mesa 17.1-devel on Git master for Radeon GPUs compared to the latest NVIDIA Linux driver release (378.09 beta), here are some fresh benchmarks. A range of OpenGL and Vulkan performance tests showing the latest NVIDIA and AMD Linux graphics performance with the newest drivers as of this week.

      • Early Benchmarks Of The Intel Core i7 7700K On Linux
        For those curious how Intel's flagship Core i7 7700K "Kabylake" processor is performing under Linux, my sample arrived yesterday and I've begun putting the CPU through its paces.

        The Core i7 7700K has four physical cores plus Hyper Threading, 4.2GHz base frequency, 4.5GHz turbo frequency, and 8MB smart cache. This CPU has HD Graphics 630 that clock up to 1.15GHz. The Core i7 7700K retails for about $350 USD.

      • Shadow of Mordor benchmarks old vs new on Linux
        Since Feral Interactive noted performance fixes in the recent Shadow of Mordor [Steam, Feral Store] patch I went ahead and test some benchmarks on my testing box for you.

        These are in comparison to my original results, run on the same hardware but with a newer NVIDIA driver and the latest Shadow of Mordor patch. I would have compared it directly with the original NVIDIA driver I used, but back then I didn't list it. The old version also isn't available to opt in, so I have to go by the original results (the machine setup is exactly the same, minus driver). This is essentially a dual test of newer drivers + latest patch optimizations.

        Of course, these were run multiple times to ensure of their accuracy. The game was also restarted after each setting change to allow things to get properly refreshed.

      • Solus Linux Experimenting With Automated Profiling/Optimizations
        Not only are Solus Linux developers busy porting the Budgie desktop away from GNOME and switching to Qt but they are also continuing to work on more performance optimizations.

        Solus Linux has long been working on tuning for greater performance and also taking advantage of some of the Linux performance work done by Intel's Clear Linux project. This week they have some more to report on for squeezing greater performance.

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

      • An Interview with Krita Maintainer, Boudewijn Rempt
        I've always held a deep admiration for the open source movement ever since I first stumbled upon the free 3D creation suite, Blender, many years ago. I'm just really in awe of the many impassioned volunteers who work tirelessly to share in the vision of creating software that is freely available to everyone. One particular program that caught my eye a few years ago was Krita, a free and open source painting program that can be enjoyed by concept artists, matte painters, illustrators, comic artists, and anyone who has ever wanted to dabble in digital painting.

        Krita has grown immensely since I first took notice of it. And now, with Krita in version 3.1 and sporting an excellent new animation feature, it was time I learned more about the work going on behind the scenes to make Krita the stellar free program that it is. I recently spoke with Boudewijn Rempt, who has been the maintainer of Krita since 2004. Here he shares with us what it took to get Krita to where it is now.

      • Size matters not: KDE Slimbooks measure 0.70 inches with sixth-gen Intel CPUs
        The international free software community KDE announced the launch of a KDE-branded laptop on Thursday called the KDE Slimbook. Built for KDE fans across the globe, the new Slimbook promises a highly stable computing experience given that KDE developers are using an identical hardware and software configuration when testing their apps. That means apps and hardware issues are resolved before a new version of KDE’s software is distributed to end users.

      • Meet the KDE branded Slimbook - prices start at €729

      • KDE Slimbook — KDE Launches Its First Dedicated Laptop For Linux Lovers

      • KDE Slimbook Linux Laptop Now Available for Pre-Order with KDE Neon Distro
        KDE's Thomas Pfeiffer was proud to announce today, January 26, 2017, the immediate availability for pre-order of the KDE Slimbook Linux laptop, which comes pre-installed with the latest KDE Plasma 5 desktop and related applications.

        KDE Slimbook is a notebook created by and for the KDE community, for all fans of the KDE desktop environment. The KDE project celebrated 20 years of existence last year in October, and in this honor, they collaborated with Spanish hardware manufacturer Slimbook to create the perfect laptop powered by KDE and GNU/Linux.

      • The KDE Slimbook is a sleek Linux laptop designed around KDE Neon
        KDE and Spain-based Slimbook are teaming up to sell a 13-inch Skylake laptop loaded with Linux, but this beauty with an aluminum shell does not come cheap.

        The KDE Slimbook is available for pre-order now with prices starting at €729 (about $770). At this writing, KDE Slimbooks were scheduled to start shipping after March 15. Slimbook ships to countries outside the European Union for an extra €99 ($106).

        The KDE Slimbook is designed to offer a KDE-branded laptop that gives fans of the desktop environment the “best possible way to experience” KDE. It comes in two major variants with either a Core i5 or Core i7 processor. The base specs include 4GB of RAM, a 120GB mSATA SSD, two USB 3.0 ports, and a 13.3-inch 1080p display. The laptop is fairly slim at 0.71-inch thick and 2.87 lbs.

  • Distributions

    • Best Lightweight Linux Distros for 2017
      Operating systems are like cars: you can get a power-hungry Humvee that guzzles gas, leaving you with a few miles to drive, or you can get a super-efficient smart car that barely sniffs gas and gives you hundreds of miles of range. You can also get a monster OS that devours all system resources (CPU and RAM) or you can choose one that barely sips resources. The only difference between cars and operating systems is that lightweight operating systems, unlike lightweight cars, can do all of the heavy lifting that a Humvee can do.

    • Dedoimedo interviews: Bodhi Linux team
      Bodhi Linux and I never quite saw eye to eye. I had tested the distribution a couple of times, and in all cases, I found the somewhat spartan, DIY approach to be quite limiting. My need from Linux distributions is very simple, I expect everything to work out of the box.

      However, some professional bickering does not mean we cannot enjoy ourselves. After all, we're all in this together, we few, we happy few, we band of penguins. Or Tuxpeople, if you prefer. To this end, I wanted to interview the project manager for the Bodhi Linux operating system, so we can get some exposure the other side of this coin. Today, we have Jeff Hoogland as our guest, and he will tell us more about his work, his passion, his community, and a few other things besides. After me.

    • Reviews

      • TrentaOS Is an Elegant Desktop Linux with a Few Rough Edges
        It appears we have another Linux desktop renaissance on our hands. Back in the late 1990s, it seemed like everyone was creating a new Linux distribution—each with its own unique take on the platform—until there were so many to choose from, one never knew where to begin. This time around, we have a growing number of distributions, each making slight variations to something already in existence. And that, I believe, is a good thing. Why? Refinement and specificity. Consider TrentaOS, for example. Here we have a new platform (still very much in alpha), based on Ubuntu, with a decidedly Mac feel, by way of GNOME. If you look at the landscape of Linux, you’ll find several distributions already doing the Mac-like desktop quite well (Elementary OS and ZorinOS immediately come to mind). So why another? What can TrentaOS offer that differs from what others are doing?

    • New Releases

      • Alpine Linux 3.5.1 Released with Linux Kernel 4.4.45 LTS, New Security Updates
        Alpine Linux developer Natanael Copa today announced today, January 27, 2017, the immediate availability of the first point release to the Alpine Linux 3.5 operating system series.

      • Alpine Linux 3.5.1 released

        The Alpine Linux project is pleased to announce the immediate availability of version 3.5.1 of its Alpine Linux operating system.

        This is a bugfix release of the v3.5 musl based branch, based on linux-4.4.45 kernels and it contains bugfixes.

    • OpenSUSE/SUSE

      • openSUSE Tumbleweed – Review of the Week 2017/03 & 04
        As I did not publish an update last week, we have to span two weeks now. A lot has happened, many of those things are already shipped to you or are going to happen shortly. This review will touch the snapshots 0112, 0117, 0118, 0120, 0121, 0123, 0124 and 0125. A total of 8 snapshots.

      • openSUSE Devs Enhance Tumbleweed's Rolling Updates with New Package, Add RADV
        On January 26, 2017, openSUSE Project's Douglas DeMaio informed the Tumbleweed community about the latest package versions that landed last week through a total of five snapshots.

        Before we dwell on the details of the new updates for openSUSE Tumbleweed, we'd like to tell you about a new package called transactional-update, which the openSUSE developers added in the repositories of the GNU/Linux distribution to boost the rolling updates that are offered to users multiple times per week.

    • Red Hat Family

    • Debian Family

      • Debian Linux Is Now Available For NVIDIA's Jetson TX1
        Debian Linux is now available for running on NVIDIA's Jetson TX1 developer board powered by their Tegra X1 SoC.

        The Jetson TX1 has been available for more than a year while now there's finally a good Debian ARM image available for this powerful developer board.

      • Derivatives

        • Canonical/Ubuntu

          • Install The New Dekko Email App on Ubuntu Desktop
            To install the Dekko Snap on your Ubuntu (Unity 7) desktop you need… Nope, you don’t need anything; you’ve got everything you need already.

          • The Old Dekko App Will Get ‘No Further Updates’
            The current Dekko email app for Ubuntu phone is no longer supported, and no further updates will be released. Work is to continue on a Snap-based version.

          • Flavours and Variants

            • Linux Mint 18.1 "Serena" Xfce and KDE Editions Are Officially Out, Download Now
              It didn't take very long for the Linux Mint developers to finish the Xfce and KDE editions of the Linux Mint 18.1 "Serena" operating system, and users can now download and install them on their personal computers.

            • New Linux Mint Debian Edition 2 "Betsy" ISOs Released After Almost Two Years
              Linux Mint project leader Clement Lefebvre today announced the availability of new ISO images for those who want to install the Debian-based LMDE (Linux Mint Debian Edition) 2 "Betsy" operating system.

              Linux Mint Debian Edition 2 "Betsy" is the rolling flavor of the popular Linux Mint distribution, but using Debian GNU/Linux packages instead of Ubuntu's. It was first introduced to the world almost two years ago, in April 2015, as a computer OS targeted at experienced users.

              Because it follows a rolling release model, LMDE 2 offered its users all the latest package versions from the upstream Debian Jessie repositories, but the install mediums were outdated if you wanted to reinstall the OS or deploy it on new PCs, requiring you to download a large number of updates.

  • Devices/Embedded

    • ARM And Intel Go Head To Head In UK
      This is interesting. I’ve chosen ARM for my next generation of clients and servers based on advertised specs and history but ARM is still new to many people in production systems and folks want to test hardware. In UK, an HPC setup is going to allow scientists to test both ARM and Intel running the same software. Cool. There’s no doubt Intel has advantages when raw power is the only consideration but in the real world folks want to consider computation per unit volume/energy/time/price/whatever. With such a setup as long as the software is not optimized for one architecture or the other it could be an objective test. Stay tuned.

    • Rugged embedded box gets tough with Kaby Lake
      Axiomtek’s “eBOX640-500-FL” offers 7th Gen Core CPUs with up to 32GB DDR4 in an IP40-rated box PC with -10 to 55€°C support and vibration resistance.

      The Intel Kaby Lake fueled eBOX640-500-FL embedded PC comes fast on the heels of the 6th Gen Skylake based eBOX565-500-F system announced in December. The eBOX640-500-FL has a somewhat similar boxy desktop design, but is significantly larger (230 x 180 x 82mm) and more feature rich — more along the lines of the Skylake based, 280 x 190 x 70mm eBOX670-891-FL announced in November.


      Unlike these two Skylake eBoxes, there’s no Linux support listed with the eBOX640-500-FL, which supports Windows 10 IoT and WE8S. It should not be much trouble running Linux, however.

    • RaspBerry BerryBoot: Fixing “cannot find my data partition”

    • Australia's coal power plan twice as costly as renewables route, report finds
      A plan for new coal power plants, which government ministers say could reduce emissions from coal-generated electricity by 27%, would cost more than $60bn, a new analysis has found.

      Achieving the same reduction using only renewable energy would cost just half as much – between $24bn and $34bn – the report found.

      The resources minister, Matthew Canavan, and the energy and environment minister, Josh Frydenberg, have been arguing for new coal power plants to be built in Australia.

    • Arduino-driven IoT platform supports Grove and MikroBus
      PatternAgent’s “thingSoC Grovey” family of Arduino and ESPx-driven IoT hubs connect to Grove and MikroBus Click IoT modules, as well as an RPi or Edison.

      On CrowdSupply, Portland, Oreg. Based PatternAgents, LLC, has begun selling an open source family of Arduino-compatible thingSoC Grovey boards, adapters, and hubs built around a common “thingSoC” socket system for easy prototyping of IoT designs. The CrowdSupply campaign is offering a $10 adapter that supports the Teensy Arduino clone, as well as thingSoC compatible hubs for I2C, GPIO, ADC, and LEDs.

    • Zynq-based SDR module sells for $549
      Avnet launched a cheaper, single-channel version of its dual-channel PicoZed SDR COM. The Linux-driven Zynq-7020 COM operates in the 70MHz to 6GHz range.

      Avnet’s PicoZed SDR 1×1 SOM is a more affordable, single-channel version of the dual-channel PicoZed SDR 2×2, a software defined radio version of the PicoZed computer-on-module. This $549, single-channel module supports the same 70MHz to 6GHz frequencies, with tunable channel bandwidth of more than 200kHz to 56MHz, but it lacks the wideband 2x2 MIMO receive and transmit paths of the dual-channel 2x2.

    • Phones

Free Software/Open Source

  • Meet Karen Sandler, a force in open source
    Karen Sandler is one of the most influential voices in the open source world.

    I met with her last year and we talked about how free software affected and changed her life and how she is working to change the lives of others. It was a wide-ranging and inspirational conversation.

  • Apache Eagle keeps an eye on big data usage
    Apache Eagle, originally developed at eBay, then donated to the Apache Software Foundation, fills a big data security niche that remains thinly populated, if not bare: It sniffs out possible security and performance issues with big data frameworks.

    To do so, Eagle uses other Apache open source components, such as Kafka, Spark, and Storm, to generate and analyze machine learning models from the behavioral data of big data clusters.

  • Why open source is core to Target CIO's tech strategy

    McNamara has been an advocate of open source since he joined Target in 2015, two years after a data breach compromised 40 million credit- and debit-card accounts at the company.

    Enterprises are turning to open source and third party software components to decrease the amount of code they have to write, which helps accelerate deployment cycles. In fact, the dramatic rise of open source means very little software is written from scratch anymore. With open source, developers can use other code as a base and build upon it.

  • How to successfully enter the FOSS emerging market
    When businesses are unable to participate in FOSS, doors close for everyone. It deprives companies of the benefits of FOSS participation, including faster development and innovation, more efficient recruiting, word-of-mouth marketing, and lower total cost of ownership. The community or project becomes deprived of the benefits of corporate support, such as wages for maintainers, support for essential infrastructure, and sponsorship of events and participants.

  • Events

    • Open Source 101 event: A one-day introduction to Open Source
      Open Source 101, a one-day conference designed to teach the fundamentals of open source, will take place on Saturday, February 4 at The McKimmon Center on the campus of NC State University.

      With corporate open source participation and usage now at all time highs, along with the demand for open source skills, many current and future technologists want and need to learn more. The event is a perfect opportunity for current technologists working in a proprietary environment and technology students at the university and high school level to do just that.

    • Next Linux/UNIX System Programming course in Munich: 15-19 May, 2017

    • Sumana Harihareswara's keynote will close LibrePlanet 2017
      "Sumana's talk at LibrePlanet 2016 dealt with ways to make the free software community more welcoming, with humor, sharp insights, and deep conviction," said the FSF's Program Manager, Georgia Young. "We are very pleased to have her generous, thoughtful voice bring this year's conference to a close."

      Sumana Harihareswara first started using GNU/Linux in the late 1990s. Since then, she has contributed to a number of projects (including GNOME, MediaWiki, Zulip, and GNU Mailman), and become a leader, speaker, and advocate for free software and communities. From 2014-2015, she served as a member of the Ada Initiative Board of Directors. Within the software industry, she has been a community manager, writer, and project manager, working with Collabora, GNOME,, Fog Creek Software, Behavior, and

  • Databases

    • Give me a MySQL and Make it Snappy!
      MySQL is available for a huge variety of platforms, in a wide range of packaging formats and through many channels. Part of our mission is to keep up with the times by making sure that all MySQL products are available where people expect and need them to be. As part of that we have invested a lot of work in modernizing our Linux packaging and distribution, improving our story on Windows and introducing strong support for new and exciting deployment formats such as Docker.

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice

    • LibreOffice 5.2.5 Released, On the Road to 5.3

      For those wishing to update to 5.2.5 in hopes your bug is fixed, can download from the usual outlet. Unfortunately, you'll have to just upgrade to see because today's release didn't get its accompanying changelogs posted. There are plans for one more incremental update, 5.2.6 due sometime around the beginning of May. Today's announcement urged all users still using 5.1.* to make the upgrade to 5.2.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

    • Open Data

    • Open Hardware/Modding

      • Getting started with my new LulzBot Mini 3D printer
        Recently, I won a LulzBot Mini 3D printer in an giveaway. What good fortune! Here's how I got started learning how to use it, and what I made with it.

        Spoiler: This printer is a top-quality product, and ready to go out of the box. It is also open hardware and supports a full open source programming chain.

        First, I read some reviews and more about the specifications. Then I decided to buff up on learning how to use design software so I could do more than print pre-made designs from sites like, though this is a great resource! They have over 600,000 designs ready to download and print.

  • Programming/Development


  • Science

    • 2012 Research Paper Linking Video Games And Violence Finally Retracted Over Massaged Data Accusation
      For all of the studies that often appear almost fervent in their attempts to find any thread of a link between violent video games and real life tendencies to violence, one of the standouts in the crowd has been Brad Bushman. Bushman last graced our pages showing how some combination of candy and loud noises showed that teenagers who had played a violent video game ate more bad food and were aggressive towards others in the immediate aftermath. This was used to essentially claim that violent video games were bad for teenagers, despite longer-term studies involving more participants coming to the opposite conclusion.

      More to the point for this post were accusations from Bushman's peers that his research methods were generally flawed and that he was known to pick and choose which results from his experiments he wanted to include in the final analysis. It seems the study we discussed in that last post wasn't the only study in which Bushman has done this, as a 2012 research paper Bushman authored, delightfully entitled Boom, Headshot!?: Effect of Video Game Play and Controller Type on Firing Aim and Accuracy, has finally been retracted by the journal Communication Research.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • The NHS - Theresa May's dowry gift to Donald Trump?

      Our Prime Minister is so desperate for a Brexit-salvaging marriage of convenience with Trump, she's suggested the NHS could be part of a rushed trade deal – and her vows about it being 'free at the point of use' leave too much unsaid.
    • Drug Distributors Penalized For Turning Blind Eye In Opioid Epidemic
      As the toll of the opioid epidemic grows, scores of doctors have lost their licenses and some have gone to prison. Pharmacies are being sued and shuttered. Pharmaceutical manufacturers are under investigation and face new rules from regulators.

      But penalties against companies that serve as middlemen between drug companies and pharmacies have been relatively scarce — until recently.

      In the past month, two major drug distributors, also known as wholesalers, have formally agreed to pay millions of dollars to settle claims that they failed to report suspicious orders for controlled substances to the Drug Enforcement Administration, as required by law.

      McKesson Corp., the largest such company in the U.S., last week agreed to pay a $150 million fine. And late last month, Cardinal Health reached a $44 million settlement with the federal government. That’s on top of another $20 million that Cardinal Health agreed this month to pay the state of West Virginia, which has been among the hardest hit by opioid overdoses. Other distributors have also agreed to pay smaller amounts to West Virginia within the past few months. AmerisourceBergen, for instance, will pay $16 million.
    • WHO Fine-Tunes Work On Epidemics In Debates On IHRs, R&D Blueprint
      The Ebola outbreak spurred actions from the World Health Organization in terms of how to deal with emergencies and also getting medicines and vaccines to patients in emergency situations. The secretariat presented an implementation plan for the International Health Regulations, and a report on its recent blueprint on research and development for potentially epidemic diseases at its Executive Board meeting this week. The United States sought to limit the scope of WHO’s work on R&D in this context.

    • Belgians, Dutch join in opposing Trump's anti-abortion plans
      Belgium is joining the Netherlands in backing the creation of an international fund to finance access to birth control, abortion and sex education for women in developing countries in an attempt to make up for U.S. President Donald Trump's ban on U.S. funding.

      Alexander De Croo, Belgium's minister for foreign trade and development, says he is fully behind the initiative of his Dutch counterpart to set up an international fund for safe abortions. De Croo says Wednesday that "this decision of the White House has an immediate impact on the lives of millions of girls and women in developing nations."

      Trump's executive memorandum signed Monday reinstituted a ban on U.S. funding to international groups that perform abortions or even provide information about abortions.

    • Theresa May suggests UK health services could be part of US trade deal

      Theresa May has left the door open for the greater involvement of US corporations in British healthcare as she arrives in America to lay the groundwork for a future trade deal.

      Ms May would only say that she was committed to a health service that is free at the point of delivery, but made no comment on whether the NHS would be off the table in any future talks.

      Trade and the UK’s economic relationship with the US will be one of the key pillars of the Prime Minister’s visit to Philadelphia and Washington DC.

    • Big Sean Raises $100,000 to Fight Flint Water Crisis
      "It's not even close to being over," Big Sean said. "That situation wasn't a natural disaster. It's something that should've been prevented and could've been prevented, so it's just disgusting to think about the damages that these families and even kids have to go through with the lead poisoning."

      The rapper noted that his mother suffered from a degree of lead poisoning, but was able to reverse the symptoms through homeopathic and holistic medicine. He added that the money raised by the Sean Anderson Foundation will help people with lead poisoning seek out proper care and will provide them with clean water.

      Sean also revealed that the last song on his new album, I Decided, will feature the Flint Chosen Choir, saying he wanted to "reach out and show some support from that side, creatively. It's a song called 'Bigger Than Me' and once you hear it you'll see why I wanted them to be on it. But I was just happy to have Flint be a part of my album in that way as well."

    • Pig-human hybrid brings us closer to barnyard organ factories
      Scientists have successfully created pig embryos that contain a small fraction of human cells, according to a study published Thursday in Cell.

      The study, led by researchers at the Salk Institute in California, represents a significant step toward human-animal hybrids that could one day grow whole new human organs for transplant. Right now, the pig hybrids only contain about one human cell to 100,000 pig cells and were very tricky to make. And due to ethical guidelines, the researchers only let them develop for about a month. But researchers are optimistic that they’ll be able to tackle the technical—and ethical—challenges moving forward.

      They certainly have a lot of hints that they’ll be successful.

      To show that cells from two different species can share one body in harmony, the researchers also created mice with rat organs. They used a snazzy new genetic engineering tool called CRISPR/Cas9 to break a few genes in mouse embryos that dashed their ability to develop several organs properly, including the pancreas, heart, and eye. Next, the researchers injected the embryos with rat stem cells, then transferred the embryos into a mouse’s uterus to develop. The embryos developed into healthy animals with hybrid mouse-rat organs, the researchers found. In fact, the rat cells even developed into gall bladders in the mice, despite the fact that rats don’t have these organs. The animals all lived normal mouse lives of up to two years.

  • Security

    • Best Linux Server Security Tutorials on
      The first rule of Linux server security is to keep your server lean and mean. Only install the packages and run the services that you really need, writes Swapnil Bhartiya in his tutorial on making your server more secure.

      “Even the most hardened servers can be hijacked by exploiting any unpatched or vulnerable component running on that server,” he writes.

    • Friday's security updates
    • Guest View: The perils of open-source software security [Ed: Citing Microsoft-connected Black Duck to badmouth FOSS again. Does FOSS rely on third-party libraries (that may have flaws)? Yes. Do blobs rely on proprietary libraries (that may have flaws)? Yes.]

    • Federal lawmakers introduce bipartisan bill to study cyber security in connected cars
      Connected cars are the future for the automotive industry, with more than 90 percent of vehicles expected to have built-in connectivity by 2020. But, as more vehicles link up to the internet, lawmakers are worried about their security.

      On Wednesday, lawmakers introduced a bipartisan bill in the U.S. House of Representatives that would direct the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to study cyber security in vehicles. Rep. Joe Wilson, R-SC, and Rep. Ted Lieu, D-Calif., co-sponsored The Security and Privacy in Your Car Study Act, which hopes to create a standard for safety in connected cars.

  • Defence/Aggression

    • Trump to Sign Executive Orders Restricting Immigration From Several Middle East, African Countries
      U.S. President Donald Trump is expected to sign executive orders starting on Wednesday that include a temporary ban on most refugees and a suspension of visas for citizens of Syria and six other Middle Eastern and African countries, say congressional aides and immigration experts briefed on the matter.

      Trump, who tweeted that a "big day" was planned on national security on Wednesday, is expected to ban for several months the entry of refugees into the United States, except for religious minorities escaping persecution, until more aggressive vetting is in place.

    • The Empire Has No Clothes
      Harsh realities have long mocked United States “elites’” ritual description of their nation state as a benevolent beacon and agent of freedom, democracy, and justice at home and abroad. The mythology doesn’t square with stark disparities and oppressions inflicted by the nation’s unelected and interrelated dictatorships of money, class, race, and empire.

    • How America’s rejection of Jews fleeing Nazi Germany haunts our refugee policy today
      Desperate people, fleeing a terrifying, bloodthirsty regime, try to find refuge in the US. But the American government and the public don't want to accept them. They worry that accepting refugees would put citizens at risk, and they don't see the refugee crisis as their problem to fix. So they are turned away.

      This is what President Donald Trump is about to sign America up for, if widespread reports are correct that he’s on the verge of signing an executive order that would ban all refugees from settling in the US for 4 months and ban Syrian refugees indefinitely.

      We’ve been here before.

      The US (and other countries in the Western Hemisphere) could have saved thousands of Jews from the Nazis. They didn't. At one point, the US literally turned away a ship of 900 German Jews. Shortly afterward, it rejected a proposal to allow 20,000 Jewish children to come to the US for safety.

    • China ‘steps up preparedness for possible military conflict with US’
      China is stepping up preparedness for a possible military conflict with the US as the Donald Trump presidency has increased the risk of hostilities breaking out, state media and military observers said.

      Beijing is bracing itself for a possible deterioration in Sino-US ties, with a particular emphasis on maritime security.

      The People’s Liberation Army said in a commentary on its official website last Friday, the day of Trump’s inauguration, that the chances of war have become “more real” amid a more complex security situation in Asia Pacific.

    • Death of the Syrian ‘Moderate’ Fantasy
      Washington think-tank warriors and editorial writers have long looked to the FSA as America’s natural allies in the Syrian conflict — so-called “moderates” unblemished by the Assad regime’s cruel record of repression, or the Islamists’ preference for cutting the throats of apostates.

      In her memoir Hard Choices, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton recounted her hope that “if the United States could train and equip a reliable and effective moderate rebel force, it could help hold the country together during a transition . . . and prevent ethnic cleansing and score settling.”

      In much the same way, the Reagan administration hoped — and failed — to cultivate “moderate elements” in Iran’s army through its covert arms deals with Tehran in the mid-1980s. The truth of the matter — exposed again this week — is that the FSA and other “moderates” never had the popular support or the grit to take on more fanatical warriors in Syria.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • Judge Says Lawsuit Over PACER Fees Can Continue... As A Class Action

      Working (and looking) like outdated crap is one thing. Being charged by the federal government for pages your tax dollars helped create is another. PACER keeps working like crap and the US court system's administration keeps pretending the documents are stored in file cabinets and are being copied by hand for members of the public at a library-copy-machine rate of 10 cents a page.

      In December, the presiding judge denied the government's attempt to dismiss the case. The government argued that members of the public agreed to whatever PACER felt like charging through some bureaucratic clickwrap.

    • The battle over MormonLeaks — two websites with one name and one goal: target the LDS Church
      Craig Criddle and Ryan McKnight have a lot in common.

      Both are former LDS missionaries. Both have stopped believing in their church. Both have resigned their membership. Both have become critics of the faith. And both have a website called MormonLeaks.

      That's where the differences begin.

      One of the sites attempts to debunk the official LDS narrative by posting historical materials. The other offers an inside peek at the contemporary church by publicizing private or little-known Mormon documents acquired from anonymous sources.

      The question has become: Which website should own the name?

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • Clean Energy In The Wind
      Here’s an example where an island may be powered by dirty diesel generators or the sea breezes. Having choice is good. Taking the alternative choice is even better. I hope current initiatives can survive the deadly reign of Trump who seems intent on enriching his already rich friends instead of doing what’s right for the environment.

    • Did A Former National Parks Employee Violate The CFAA By Tweeting About Climate Change?
      Those tweets have since been deleted, but they certainly caused quite a stir, and there's even what claims to be a private rogue National Parks Service twitter feed that won't be silenced at @AltNatPartSer. That's apparently inspired other government employees to set up similar "rogue" Twitter accounts. As I write this, there are about two dozen such accounts on this list, with some personal favorites being the @Alt_FDA, the @RogueNASA and @AltFedCyberz. Now, it's important to state that there's no direct proof that these are actually run by federal employees, but the whole thing is fascinating to watch.

    • Trump’s Team at EPA Vetting ‘Controversial’ Public Meetings and Presentations
      President Donald Trump long ago announced his provocative intentions for the Environmental Protection Agency, pledging during the campaign to get rid of the agency “in almost every form,” with only “little tidbits left.”

      So far, Trump’s remodeling efforts have been both dramatic (nominating Oklahoma attorney general and fossil-fuel ally Scott Pruitt to head the agency) and quietly tactical (freezing all EPA contracts and grants).

      On Tuesday, the new administration’s efforts to take hold of the EPA continued, this time with a memo from EPA headquarters requiring all regional offices to submit a list of “all external meetings or presentations by employees planned through February 17.” The memo demanded the offices provide a short description of each event and a note explaining “whether it is controversial and why.”

      The memo was shared with ProPublica by an employee in an EPA regional office and verified by another EPA employee at headquarters in Washington, D.C.

    • Defiant as Ever, Water Protectors Vow to Continue the Fight Against the Dakota ‘Black Snake’ Pipeline
      On his fourth day in office, President Trump took executive action that signaled his desire to complete the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline. He signed a memorandum ordering the Army secretary and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to “review and approve in an expedited manner…requests for approval to construct and operate the DAPL” as well as an executive order to “streamline and expedite” the environmental review and approval process for so-called “high priority infrastructure projects.”

    • Trump administration: EPA studies, data must undergo political review before release
      The Trump administration is mandating that any studies or data from scientists at the Environmental Protection Agency undergo review by political appointees before they can be released to the public.

      The communications director for Donald Trump’s transition team at the EPA, Doug Ericksen, said on Wednesday the review also extends to content on the federal agency’s website, including details of scientific evidence showing that the Earth’s climate is warming and manmade carbon emissions are to blame.

      Former EPA staffers said on Wednesday the restrictions imposed under Trump far exceed the practices of past administrations.

    • Government Scientists at U.S. Climate Conference Terrified to Speak with the Press
      While Donald Trump was reviving both the Dakota Access and Keystone XL pipelines, muzzling federal employees, freezing EPA contracts, and first telling the EPA to remove mentions of climate change from its website — and then reversing course — many of the scientists who work on climate change in federal agencies were meeting just a few miles from the White House to present and discuss their work.

      The mood was understandably gloomy at the National Conference and Global Forum on Science, Policy, and the Environment. “I don’t know what’s going to happen. No one knows what’s going to happen,” one EPA staffer who works on climate issues told me on Tuesday, as she ate her lunch. She had spent much of her time in recent weeks trying to preserve and document the methane-related projects she’s been working on for years. But the prevailing sense was that, Trump’s claims about being an environmentalist notwithstanding, the president is moving forward with his plan to eviscerate environmental protections, particularly those related to climate change, and the EPA itself.

  • Finance

    • Uber hasn’t taken taxi drivers’ jobs but has slashed their wages
      Uber’s arrival has led to more taxi jobs, but the transport firm’s model means drivers at traditional cab firms now earn less.

      That’s according to a working paper from University of Oxford researchers, which finds no evidence that the rollout of Uber and its ride-hailing app has led to fewer jobs for traditional taxi drivers since it introduced its “sharing economy” model in the US in 2010. But the number of self-employed drivers, including those who work for Uber, has increased almost 50 per cent since the app’s introduction in US cities.

      “Employment, if anything, expands,” says Carl Benedikt Frey, one of the paper’s co-authors.

      Drawing on statistics from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the paper also finds that traditional taxi drivers in cities where Uber operates have seen their earnings decline. The researchers found that such drivers have seen their hourly income fall by up to 10 per cent on average. Meanwhile, the hourly takings of self-employed drivers have risen by the same amount.

    • I won’t capitulate to the Tories on Brexit—and neither should Labour MPs
      Next week MPs will begin a short series of debates on the triggering of Article 50. The timeframe is short, the Bill we’re debating is extremely brief and the consequences of our decision cannot be overstated.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Jason Miller to Join Clinton-Tied Teneo Strategy
      Donald Trump’s former chief campaign spokesman, Jason Miller, announced Friday he’s going to work for a company founded by Bill Clinton’s longtime aide Doug Band. Teneo Strategy is known for its deep Clinton ties—the ex-president previously served in an advisory capacity to the company, but, Teneo said in 2012, “His advisory board role at Teneo transitioned at the end of 2011, when he asked the company to represent him going forward in a personal capacity.” In his new role with Teneo, Miller will reportedly advise Fortune 500 CEOs on corporate communications, media relations, and crisis communications.

    • ‘The Economist’ Just Downgraded the US From a ‘Full Democracy’ to a ‘Flawed Democracy’
      The United States is no longer a full democracy, according to the highly regarded Economist Intelligence Unit, which each year compiles a Democracy Index that “provides a snapshot of the state of democracy worldwide for 165 independent states and two territories.”

      “The US, a standard-bearer of democracy for the world, has become a ‘flawed democracy,’ as popular confidence in the functioning of public institutions has declined,” explains the introduction to the freshly released Democracy Index.

      That would be a troubling announcement in any week.
    • Trump’s Obsession with Faux Election Fraud Sets the Stage for Federal Voter Suppression
      In a 24-hour news cycle in which Donald Trump decreed the construction of a new border wall with Mexico and draft executive orders emerged suggesting an impending ban on refugees and the return of post-9/11 interrogation techniques, the president also hinted at more to come — from sending “the Feds” to Chicago to a Department of Justice investigation into voter fraud. White House press secretary Sean Spicer confirmed the latter on Thursday, telling reporters that the president plans to sign an executive order “to better understand” voter fraud and voter registration.

      The latest development, coming from a sitting president who just won an election, might seem like an odd priority, but it could be the most dangerous of all. In fact, while the president’s insistence on delegitimizing an election that put him in the White House seemed ironic to some, Trump’s decision to double down once again on one of his favorite and most demonstrably false lies — that millions of voters illegally cast ballots on November 8 — should spell trouble to anyone hoping this election is the last one he wins.

      Trump, a sore loser even in victory, might have been simply obsessing over the 2.8 million ballots by which he lost the popular vote to Hillary Clinton when he announced Wednesday that he would seek “a major investigation into VOTER FRAUD,” which remains virtually non-existent. Although Trump is a master of political distraction, his often preposterous tweets have also been a reliable indicator of policies to come.
    • Just 5 Clicks on an Internet Survey Inspired Trump’s Claim Millions Voted Illegally
      For two months now, Donald Trump has appeared unable to accept the verdict of November’s election: that he is more popular than many of us wanted to believe, but less popular than Hillary Clinton.

      As a result of this fixation, he is now promising “a major investigation” into the election that made him president, putting the full weight of the federal government behind his quest to prove that at least three million ballots were cast against him by “those registered to vote in two states, those who are illegal and even, those registered to vote who are dead.”
    • Resist Trump and Pence, But Watch Out for the Dems
      Four years of Trump? Eight? Could the future be that bleak?

      With Trump, all bets are off; probabilities don’t matter anymore, or so it seems.

      If they did, George W. Bush could still be confident that his reign as the worst President ever would not be about to end after eight measly years. Having broken a large part of the world and wrecked what we now call “the homeland,” he had every right to expect a longer reign.

      What were the chances, after all, that a real estate finagler with political juice who turned the chunk of money his father gave him into a heap of ill-gotten gains, a thin-skinned egotist with the dignity and gravitas of a playground bully, a reality TV star, an ex-casino mogul, a builder of vulgar luxury resorts for the nouveau riche and a peddler of over the top schlock would be elected President of the United States?
    • Where We Go From Here: 5 Key Ways to Build a Movement
      Millions of people marched throughout the United States and abroad last Saturday to protest Donald Trump’s first day in office and to affirm women’s rights and human rights. The demonstrations were inspiring—full of energy, witty signs, slogans and chants—and brought into the streets a diverse multitude, many of whom were not normally politically active. But a demonstration is not a movement. The key question for many is how does all this energy, outrage and action get channeled into a movement not simply against the Trump Presidency, not only to defend our rights, but for basic societal change.
    • Mayors and Activists Revolt Against Trump's ''Muslim Ban'' Executive Order
      Ever since November 8, 2016, when Donald Trump was elected, Thania Hussain has gone to nearly every protest organized in New York City. Wednesday night in Washington Square Park was no different. Hussain, an undergraduate student at Fordham University, was one of thousands of people who came to take part in a protest organized by Muslim groups in response to President Donald Trump's proposed de facto ban on Muslims entering the United States.

      "Every time I come out [to protests] I see the same sentiments," Hussain told me in an interview following the event. "Everyone wants social justice and equality for all. People don't care if you have a headscarf. It's wonderful." She's not part of the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR), the lead organization that called for the evening's demonstration. "But I want to be, that's why I'm here tonight," she says. "Right now I'm just an undergrad fighting for justice."

    • Trump appointees are violating the law that prevents them from regulating their former bosses
      A 2009 rule created by Obama in his first days in office says that former executives and lobbyists can't be hired to work for the government in a capacity that gives them oversight over their former employers; they must wait for two years after leaving such employment before working in a regulatory capacity that relates to it.

      The Trump administration is flouting this legal obligation with its appointees, as well as the weaker federal law that requires a one-year cooling off period. Former Exxonmobil CEO Rex Tillerson is in line to recieve a $180,000,000 bonus from Exxon as a goodbye gift before he takes over the State Department, and that's not all -- there's a whole raft of these conflicts in Trump's billionaire cabinet, where there's a fox for every henhouse.

    • Trump pressured parks chief for photos to prove 'media lied' about inauguration crowd – report
      In a Saturday phone call, the president told Michael Reynolds, acting NPS director, that he wanted to see more photos because he thought they could show that the attendance at his Friday swearing-in ceremonies at the National Mall was above average, three sources with knowledge of the conversation told the Post.

      Parks spokesman Tom Crosson told the Guardian in an email on Thursday night, “I can confirm the call happened … but I’m not discussing the content of the call.”

      The account from the Post comes as reports in the first week of Trump’s administration have repeatedly suggested that the president has been obsessed with the flurry of news stories that accurately pointed out that the inauguration had a noticeably smaller crowd than the equivalent event in 2009 when Barack Obama was sworn in.

    • Trump tried to force National Park Service to verify his false numbers about crowd size: report
      New President Donald Trump is so preoccupied with the size of his inauguration crowd that he reportedly asked the National Park Service to back him up on his estimations.

      According to a report from The Washington Post, three people with knowledge of the conversation alleged that Trump called National Park Service director Michael Reynolds on Saturday and asked for new aerial photographs of the crowd during the inauguration.

      The Post reports that Trump believed other photos were inaccurate and there might be others that could prove his personal estimations. Saturday was also the day that Trump made a speech at CIA headquarters that discussed the size of his inauguration.

    • A 20% Mexico tariff would pay for the wall. But it would hurt Americans

      The math works. The U.S. imported $303 billion from Mexico in 2015 and 20% of that is about $60 billion -- more than enough to pay for President Trump's wall on the border.

      But it's not that simple. American companies and consumers would bear the brunt of such a tariff.

      On Thursday, Trump's press secretary, Sean Spicer, told reporters that Trump would propose a 20% tariff on all goods shipped from Mexico to the U.S. to pay for the wall. The White House later clarified that it is just one option.

      Experts say a tariff would raise a mountain of concerns about U.S. jobs, the prices of products, and who actually pays for the wall.

    • I Don’t Think Everything is Different
      Any panic that Trump will start a nuke war is based on nothing but fear based on fear; hell, if it makes you feel better, he won’t start a nuclear war because it’ll be bad for his business. On the other hand, the last two presidents started and/or continued plenty of wars. And hey, maybe some reassuring news, Trump has made his first drone strikes, on Yemen, continuing Obama’s policy. He plans to keep Gitmo open, just as Obama did for eight years. He wants to restart torture, like Bush did and Obama silently allowed to pass without prosecutions.

    • Those ‘Resignation’: What Really Happened at the State Department
      Yesterday at the State Department five officials resigned or retired. Another one today.

      The media has gone near-insane, claiming State is crumbling in protest under the Trump administration. This is not true. What happened at State is very routine.

      Leaving the Department are head of the Management Bureau Pat Kennedy (above), Assistant Secretary of State for Administration Joyce Anne Barr, Assistant Secretary of State for Consular Affairs Michele Bond, Ambassador Gentry O. Smith, director of the Office of Foreign Missions, arms control official Tom Countryman, and Victoria Nuland.

    • The traditional way of reporting on a president is dead. And Trump’s press secretary killed it.
      The presidency is not a reality show, but President Trump on his first full day in office made clear that he’s still obsessed with being what he once proudly called “a ratings machine.”

      He cares enough about it to send his press secretary, Sean Spicer, out to brazenly lie to the media in his first official briefing.

      “This was the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration — period — both in person and around the globe,” Spicer said. And he added a scolding about widespread reports that differ from his evidence-free assessment: “These attempts to lessen the enthusiasm of the inauguration are shameful and wrong.”

    • NYT Apologies Depend on Whose Lives Are Distorted

      That was not the reaction that a Times editor had when the paper was criticized for misrepresenting the lives, not of couples in upper-middle-class Montclair, but of impoverished food-stamp recipients. That story’s headline captured the tone: “In the Shopping Cart of a Food Stamp Household: Lots of Soda” (1/13/17)—along with the photograph of a shopping cart filled with almost nothing but Coca-Cola and orange pop.

      Originally, the piece—based on a USDA report on food-buying habits of families that did or did not receive food stamps from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program—claimed that SNAP recipients spent “about 10 percent” of their food budget on soft drinks; this was later corrected to the actual figure of 5 percent, with an explanation that 9.3 percent—not 10 percent—went to “sweetened beverages,” which includes juice.

    • NPR’s No-‘Lie’ Policy and the Limits of Impartiality in the Trump Era

      This is a definition of “lying” that renders the very concept of lying meaningless. As The Intercept’s Sam Biddle noted, “by this definition, you could literally never say someone is lying unless you’re talking about yourself.” So unless an NPR reporter can prove Trump’s state of mind beyond a reasonable doubt, they have to be intent-agnostic about the falsehood. Even if the lie in question—that millions of people voted illegally—has been shown to be false dozens of times, including directly to Trump’s press secretary.

      Further clarification by NPR seemed to imply the issue was also about not wanting to appear partisan or anti-Trump.


      NPR is notorious for bending over backwards to avoid the appearance of a liberal bias, even refusing to carry an opera program in 2011 after its host participated in an Occupy protest. But, in the age of Trump and his unprecedentedly loose relationship with reality, its strict adherence to “both sides” journalism does a great disservice to their listeners—to say nothing of the truth.

      Federal funding, according to NPR’s own website, is “essential” to its ability to operate, comprising roughly 6 percent–10 percent of its total revenue, depending on how one parses it. Given Trump’s capricious, vengeful disposition; his already overtly hostile relationship with non-compliant government agencies; and the Republican Party’s existing hatred of publicly funded media, the stir that would be caused by using the L-word may be seen as too great a risk.

    • Trump Vows to Make Paul Ryan's Nightmarish Budget Vision a Reality

      Since Ryan assumed control of the Budget Committee in 2011, his budget proposals have been met with howls of alarm, described as dangerous for women; "the most extreme version" of austerity economics; and a "path to more adversity."

      "It calls itself a 'blueprint for American renewal' while systematically trampling the American dream," Robert Borosage of the Campaign for America's Future wrote of the 2012 version.

    • The leaks coming out of the Trump White House cast the president as a clueless child
      All White Houses leak. Sometimes the leaks are big, sometimes small. But there are always people willing to talk to reporters about the “real” story or about why the chief executive made a mistake in regard to some decision he made.

      That said, I've never seen so much leaking so quickly — and with such disdain for the president — as I have in the first six days of Donald Trump's presidency.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • Germany Finally Dumps Law That Says It's A Crime To Insult Foreign Leaders
      Last year, we wrote about a bizarre situation in Germany, in which the incredibly thin-skinned Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, had discovered a little-used, mostly forgotten German law, saying that it was illegal to insult a foreign leader, and used it to go after a German comedian. Erdogan, of course, had been filing thousands of lawsuits within Turkey against people who mocked or insulted him, which resulted in people around the globe mocking and making fun of Erdogan. But the fact that he dug up this mostly forgotten law created a bit of a diplomatic mess at the time for German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who was trying to play nice with Erdogan diplomatically, for the sake of helping with the flood of refugees from the Middle East. The weak "compromise" was that Merkel allowed the case to move forward, leading to a sad ruling from a German court, barring the comedian from mocking Erdogan, though a federal investigation was later dropped for "lack of evidence."

    • Rogue National Park Accounts Emerge On Twitter Amid Social Media Gag Orders
      If Twitter accounts fall silent in the woods, can they still make a sound? Turns out, yes — lots.

      Tuesday afternoon, a new Twitter account called "AltUSNatParkService" appeared and began tweeting out facts about climate change, support for the National Parks and comments in opposition of President Trump, who has called climate change a hoax created by China.

    • Censorship Is Free Speech? It Must Be the Class of 1984
      Higher education’s suppression of speech is well-publicized. But in an odder and less well-known twist, campuses are increasingly co-opting the language of free speech and using it to justify censorship. One example: The designated “free speech zones” that exist on roughly 1 in 10 U.S. college campuses, according to a report released last month by the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education.

    • Cut & Paste: What constitutes censorship in art — and how it affects artists and the community
      St. Louis-area artist Fabio Rodriguez was devastated when a very personal piece of his work was removed from an exhibition. But did that action rise to the level of censorship?

    • Leaked Memo Silences Department of Interior
      A memo leaked today orders all of the bureaus of the Department of Interior, which includes the Bureau of Land Management, US Fish and Wildlife Service, National Park Service, Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM), Bureau of Indian Affairs, and others, to clear nearly every decision or correspondence with the Office of the Executive Secretariat and Regulatory Affairs (OES). Other departments such as the EPA have instituted similar gag orders. This sweeping gag order stops the bureaus from corresponding with entities ranging from tribal leaders, governors, and even Congress.

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • New Attorney General Loves Him Some Encryption Backdoors, Which Should Pair Up Nicely With FBI Director's Plans For The Future
      It looks as though this administration may be the Decrypto Party. Trump's pick for Attorney General has already made it clear he thinks asset forfeiture is a damn good thing for the American public, even if it often deprives the public of their property without evidence of criminal wrongdoing or providing a valid avenue of recourse.

      Now, he's (once again) confirmed encryption shouldn't keep law enforcement from accessing devices. The EFF reports that Sessions strongly hinted he's in favor of encryption backdoors during his confirmation hearing.
    • How easy is it to securely leak information to some of America’s top news organizations? This easy
      The Trump administration, in its first full week in office, moved to restrict how a number of federal agencies communicate with the public, including the media. And while at least some of those restrictions appear to have been loosened, the new administration’s stance on the media is quite clear. “The media here is the opposition party,” chief White House strategist and longtime New York Times reader Steve Bannon said Thursday, adding that the media should “keep its mouth shut” for a while.

      The week’s events and the new climate of uncertainty spurred a number of news organizations to remind readers that they are ready and willing to accept leaks, via regular mail and also online with secure tools like SecureDrop, the encrypted anonymous communication software maintained by the Freedom of the Press Foundation.

    • New Trump Executive Order Says Federal Agencies Should Exclude Foreigners From Privacy Protections
      It's America first, everyone else second. That's the new administration's message. An executive order full of disturbing mandates contains a proposed rollback of privacy protections extended to foreign residents' personal information, as ProPublica's Julie Angwin pointed out on Twitter.

      Here's the section detailing the clawback of privacy rights from President Trump's "Enhancing Public Safety in the Interior of the United States" executive order.
    • Donald Trump Is Using a Private Gmail Account to Secure the Most Powerful Twitter Account in the World
      The new American president’s Twitter account isn’t a means of communication as much as it is a tool for confusion, propaganda, and unceasing assault. But Donald Trump has shown his tweets can move the stock market, provoke foreign powers, and dominate news cycles, so the account’s potential to shake the world is unprecedented. And all that’s stopping an outsider from seizing control of @POTUS could be someone’s personal Gmail password.

    • Before Obama Left Office, He Gave Domestic Agencies Warrantless Access to NSA Surveillance
      By allowing access to NSA data, the FBI and other agencies can look for criminal activity without reasonable suspicion or going to a judge, says The Intercept's Alex Emmons
    • One More Time With Feeling: 'Anonymized' User Data Not Really Anonymous
      As companies and governments increasingly hoover up our personal data, a common refrain to keep people from worrying is the claim that nothing can go wrong -- because the data itself is "anonymized" -- or stripped of personal detail. But time and time again, we've noted how this really is cold comfort; given it takes only a little effort to pretty quickly identify a person based on access to other data sets. As cellular carriers in particular begin to collect every shred of browsing and location data, identifying "anonymized" data using just a little additional context has become arguably trivial.

    • Data Privacy Day 2017: Solutions for everyday privacy
      Privacy, especially online privacy, is hard to define. It's a term that means something slightly different to each person, and each person has a different tolerance level for what's acceptable and what's unacceptable. One thing can generally be said of it, though—in a free society, people ought to be in control of their own privacy.

      If people want to give up a little privacy to receive additional conveniences, then they ought to be allowed to do so, but that doesn't mean everyone should be required to do the same. In this way, when we ponder matters of online privacy, we're usually not actually talking about privacy, we're talking about independence.

      A lot is said about Facebook, Amazon, and Google, and how they assault individual privacy on a daily basis. For the most part, people using those kinds of services do so voluntarily. If you sign up for Facebook, you're presumably at peace with becoming the marketable asset of Facebook in exchange for the convenience of gaining access to what you consider an audience of critical mass. If you sign up for Google, you're presumably happy to have Google's bots read all of your email and track your online habits. For those of us interested in avoiding such services, the solution is simple—don't sign up for them.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Trump Prepares to Shut Door on Refugees, Ending Long U.S. Tradition
      PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP is expected to sign an executive order on immigration that will be a radical departure from decades of U.S. policy on refugees, all but ending an era in which the United States was a haven for people fleeing war and oppression.

      A leaked copy of the draft order indicates that Trump will halt all refugee resettlement to the United States for the next four months, while indefinitely banning the resettlement of Syrians. The proposal will also halt immigration entirely for 30 days from a list of Muslim-majority countries.

    • I Was a Child, But My Prison Guards Treated Me Like a Dog in Solitary Confinement
      As a teenager, I made some bad decisions. I got into trouble with the law. When I was 15, I was sentenced to a year at the Lincoln Hill School for Boys, a juvenile prison. I didn’t have a great idea what that meant at the time. I didn’t know they’d be sending me four hours away to Irma, Wisconsin, where I would be surrounded by guards who treat the kids there like dogs. They put us in cages, causing us more trauma. I ended up spending two years there after my sentence was extended.

      There are about 160 kids aged 14-17 at Lincoln Hills. A lot of drama happened there with guards beating kids, making them fight each other, and that sort of thing. But maybe the worst thing is solitary.

      I’ve spent most of my time at Lincoln Hills in solitary confinement. They’ve sent me about 10 times for a bunch of reasons. Honestly, I feel like the guards intentionally provoke kids to get them to react so they can put them there and not have to worry about them.

    • Fear Materialized: Border Agents Demand Social Media Data from Americans
      The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) recently filed complaints against U.S Customs and Border Protection (CBP) for, in part, demanding social media information from Muslim American citizens returning home from traveling abroad. According to CAIR, CBP accessed public posts by demanding social media handles, and potentially accessed private posts by demanding cell phone passcodes and perusing social media apps. And border agents allegedly physically abused one man who refused to hand over his unlocked phone.

      CBP recently began asking foreign visitors to the U.S. from Visa Waiver Countries for their social media identifiers. Last fall we filed our own comments opposing the policy, and joined two sets of coalition comments, one by the Center for Democracy & Technology and the other by the Brennan Center for Justice. Notably, CBP explained that it was only seeking publicly available social media data, “consistent with the privacy settings the applicant has set on the platforms.”

    • California Databases Must Not Be Used to Target Immigrants and Muslims
      The California State Legislature is now considering two bills that would build a database firewall to block the flow of personal information from state and local government to federal efforts to deport immigrants and register people based on their religion, ethnicity, or national origin. EFF supports both bills because they would prevent abuse of law enforcement and other government databases to target vulnerable communities.

      The strongest way to protect civil liberties is to fight for privacy protections for all Californians, regardless of their national origin or immigration status. Please support S.B. 54 and S.B. 31 today.

    • Congress scrambles to make sense of Trump plan to tax Mexico to pay for border wall
      Lawmakers in Congress scrambled Thursday to try to make sense of news that President Donald Trump wants to use a 20 percent tax on goods imported from Mexico to pay for the cost of constructing wall on the Southern border.

      “We’re working on a tax reform bill that will reduce our trade deficits, increase American exports and will generate revenue from Mexico that will pay for the wall if we decide to go that route,” Trump announced at a GOP policy retreat in Philadelphia.

    • Liz Cheney Wants to Make Torture Great Again
      When Liz Cheney returned to her ancestral home state of Wyoming in 2012, she expected to be greeted as a liberator. She moved into a house in Jackson Hole, not far from her parents, Dick and Lynne; she bought a horse for her 13-year-old daughter; and she began laying the foundation for a Senate run.

      But in the rush to jump-start her political career, Cheney neglected to inform the man she was angling to replace—Mike Enzi, her father's fly-fishing buddy and the state's senior senator. Enzi had been planning to retire after 2014, and had Cheney asked for his blessing, he might have stepped aside. When she surprised him by jumping into the race, he decided his retirement could wait.


      Then Donald Trump blew up everything. With Trump, the GOP coalesced around a candidate who'd lambasted George W. Bush for invading Iraq (despite once supporting the invasion) and flirted with 9/11 truthers. He played footsie with Vladimir Putin and, according to the National Security Agency's director, got an intentional boost from Russian hacking—all while chastising Hillary Clinton for not being tough enough. He opposed military intervention in Syria but promised to "bomb the shit" out of ISIS and, for good measure, to take its oil. He enthusiastically defended torture and said Edward Snowden should be killed. Several veterans of the Bush administration, including Colin Powell, endorsed Clinton. (The ex-president himself said he did not vote for Trump.)

    • Donald Trump Backs Away From His Campaign Pledge to Resurrect Torture
      Throughout his presidential campaign, Donald Trump repeatedly said that torture works, and that should he enter the White House he would utilize techniques such as waterboarding and "much worse" against ISIS fighters. But at a short press conference with UK Prime Minister Theresa May on Friday, Trump said that though he still thinks torture "works," he will allow newly confirmed Secretary of Defense Gen. James Mattis to "override" him on this point.

      Trump was questioned about his views on torture and other controversial matters by a BBC reporter, who asked, "Mr. President, you've said before that torture works, you've praised Russia, you've said you want to ban some Muslims from coming to America, you've suggested there should be punishment for abortion. For many people in Britain, those sound like alarming beliefs. What do you say to our viewers at home who are worried about some of your views and worried about you becoming the leader of the free world?"

      In typical Trumpian fashion, the new president lashed out at the slightest bit of media criticism. "This was your choice of a question," he said, clearly perturbed. "There goes that relationship," he darkly joked.

    • Trump to Sign Executive Orders Restricting Immigration From Several Middle East, African Countries
      U.S. President Donald Trump is expected to sign executive orders starting on Wednesday that include a temporary ban on most refugees and a suspension of visas for citizens of Syria and six other Middle Eastern and African countries, say congressional aides and immigration experts briefed on the matter.

      Trump, who tweeted that a "big day" was planned on national security on Wednesday, is expected to ban for several months the entry of refugees into the United States, except for religious minorities escaping persecution, until more aggressive vetting is in place.

    • The lure of New Zealand for jaded Americans
      According to Immigration New Zealand, in November 2016 when the US presidential election was held, 17,584 people registered their interest to study, work or invest in the country, compared with 1,272 in November 2015.

      In the two days following the election, the agency said its website received 88,353 visits from the United States - compared to a usual daily average of 2,300 visits a day.
    • Trump’s Advisor Moving To New Zealand

      Peter Thiel has bought some nice lakefront property in New Zealand and has jumped to the head of the queue to get out while the getting is good. It’s interesting that Trump would have a New Zealander as an executive of Trump’s transition team, eh?

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • Verizon Eyes Charter Megamerger, Because Who Likes Broadband Competition Anyway?
      Charter Communications just got done spending $79 billion to acquire Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks. And like most telecom megamergers, the promises made before the deal (more jobs! better service! incredible new innovation!) have only a fleeting resemblance to what's actually happening in the real world. Instead, acquired markets have enjoyed frozen broadband deployments, rate hikes and scaled back social media support. With Charter already having among the worst customer service in any industry in America, support in the wake of the merger has been precisely what you'd expect.

  • DRM

    • Won't someone please think of the bikers?
      If there's anything more remarkable than the fact that five states are debating "Right to Repair" bills that make it legal for you to fix your own property, it's that these bills are needed in the first place. Can it really be true that you aren't allowed choose how to configure, repair, and service the things you own?

      Weirdly enough, the answer is yes. Section 1201 of the 1998 Digital Millennium Copyright Act makes it unlawful to tamper with software locks that control access to copyrighted works -- more commonly known as "Digital Rights Management" or DRM. As the number of products with software in them has exploded, the manufacturers of these products have figured out that they can force their customers to use their own property in ways that benefit the company's shareholders, not customers. All they have to do is design those products so that using them in other ways requires breaking some DRM, then invoke the DMCA to stop anyone from using products in unapproved ways.

      The conversion of companies' commercial preferences into legally enforceable rights has been especially devastating to the repair sector, a huge slice of the US economy, as much as 4% of GDP, composed mostly of small mom-n-pop storefront operations that create jobs right in local communities, because repair is a local business. No one wants to send their car, or even their phone, to China or India for servicing.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Copyrights

      • Copyright Trolls Overplay Their Hand In Finland, Bringing A Government Microscope To Their Practices
        Copyright trolls operate on a precarious edge.They have to find enough people willing to fall for their threat settlement letters to be profitable, while at the same time not causing enough of a stir to be noticed by the general public or risk backlash. Quite often, copyright trolls do indeed cross this line. It's not all that often, however, that they cross it in spectacular fashion.

        Yet that appears to be exactly what they've done in Finland, where so many internet account holders have been sent threat letters that both local law enforcement groups and the national government have been forced to respond.

      • Finnish Government Investigates as Tens of Thousands Face Piracy ‘Fines’

        The Finnish government will launch an investigation after it was revealed that tens of thousands of citizens are facing demands for cash settlements for alleged piracy offenses. With both police and parliament now involved, the Ministry of Education and Culture says that copyright legislation is not designed for the public to be "milked".

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