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Free Software Sentry – watching and reporting maneuvers of those threatened by software freedom
Updated: 19 min 34 sec ago

Links 30/7/2015: Apache Spark on Z System, Elive 2.6.8 Beta

1 hour 40 min ago

Contents GNU/Linux
  • Desktop
  • Server
    • CoreOS CEO: Security is fundamental

      In an interview, CEO Alex Polvi claims his company invented the cloud-native OS category and discusses how CoreOS’s update strategy differs from the likes of Red Hat

    • IBM Promises Apache Spark for Linux on Z Systems

      Expanding the z Systems ecosystem means data scientists can use Apache Spark’s common programming framework and get the full use of the mainframe’s advanced analytics capabilities – without having to get sidelined by any specific format for data.

    • IBM to Deliver Apache Spark for Linux on Z System Mainframes

      IBM has announced support for Apache Spark for Linux on z Systems, as part of its effort to expand the reach of its mainframe platforms. Among other benefits, the z Systems will now have a lot of appeal for data scientists that can leverage Apache Spark’s advanced analytics capabilities–all running on Linux.

    • Why Docker is Not Yet Succeeding Widely in Production

      Docker’s momentum has been increasing by the week, and from that it’s clearly touching on real problems. However, for many production users today, the pros do not outweigh the cons. Docker has done fantastically well at making containers appeal to developers for development, testing and CI environments—however, it has yet to disrupt production. In light of DockerCon 2015’s “Docker in Production” theme I’d like to discuss publicly the challenges Docker has yet to overcome to see wide adoption for the production use case. None of the issues mentioned here are new; they all exist on GitHub in some form. Most I’ve already discussed in conference talks or with the Docker team. This post is explicitly not to point out what is no longer an issue: For instance the new registry overcomes many shortcomings of the old. Many areas that remain problematic are not mentioned here, but I believe that what follows are the most important issues to address in the short term to enable more organizations to take the leap to running containers in production. The list is heavily biased from my experience of running Docker at Shopify, where we’ve been running the core platform on containers for more than a year at scale. With a technology moving as fast as Docker, it’s impossible to keep everything current. Please reach out if you spot inaccuracies.

    • A New SysAdmin Pledge in Honor of SysAdmin Day

      In fact, history is filled with examples of great people declaring a holiday for themselves. Take Christopher Columbus, for example. Upon discovering “The New World”, Columbus immediately declared the second Monday in October to be “Columbus Day” (to be celebrated with cake… and balloons… and confetti). It took a year or two to catch on, but before the decade was through, most of the world was already celebrating this new holiday. It’s true. Look it up.

    • 10 Job Interview Questions for Linux System Administrators

      SysAdmins of all experience levels, then, can benefit from brushing up on their job interview skills if they want to find and land a great new job.

  • Kernel Space
    • Systemd Is Launching Its Own Conference

      Lennart Poettering today announced systemd.conf 2015, its inaugural conference devoted to the future of systemd.

    • AllSeen Alliance Welcomes Philips as Premier Member

      The AllSeen Alliance, a cross-industry collaboration to advance the Internet of Things (IoT) through an open source software project, today announced that Philips has joined as a premier member. Philips joins more than 170 members of the AllSeen Alliance, including premier members Canon, Electrolux, Haier, LG, Microsoft, Panasonic, Qeo (a Technicolor company), Qualcomm Connected Experiences, Inc., Sharp, Silicon Image (a Lattice Semiconductor company) and Sony.

    • Graphics Stack
  • Applications
  • Desktop Environments/WMs
    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt
      • KDE at FISL 16

        Many of you already know that FISL (The International Free Software Forum) is one of the biggest FLOSS conferences in the world. From 8 to 11 July 2015, 5281 free software passionate people met in Porto Alegre (South Brazil) for the 16th FISL edition, enjoying activities such as talks, panels, hackathons, workshops, and community meetings. All kinds of FLOSS-related topics were in place: development, translation, artwork, education, robotics, entrepreneurship, audio-visual, women and gender, politics, academia and research … Phew! that’s tiring KDE has a long and memorable history at FISL and it wasn’t different this year.

      • Busy is fun!

        The beginning of the day was reading some social media in the morning with breakfast catching up with the times. While going though my Google+ feed I saw a post that I seen before about the a bug with a krunner plugin. The plugin in question was this which Riddell, Dan and I debugged to find some more info about the bug such as that is effects Kubuntu, Arch and openSUSE so it is upstream related.

      • Akademy Day Trip
      • KDE Akademy 2015 Videos Are Now Appearing Online
      • Akademy 2015

        The organising team have done a fantastic job: we’ve had free busses running from our accommodation to the venue, video recording of talks (which I’m sure someone will post about soon), easy to access food, two parties and people always on-hand to provide information.

      • The Failure of KDE Activities

        KDE Activities are multiple desktops. While easy to understand, they open up the possibility of new methods of workspace organization as well as new ways to layout the desktop. They deserve to be recognized as an innovation as important as tabbed browsing, and should be a part of every desktop environment, yet most users have only vaguely heard of them, and even fewer have tried them.

        When a feature so elegant is ignored, something has clearly gone wrong — but what, exactly?

        One thing is certain: Activities are one of the least unpublicized features on any desktop. From their introduction in KDE 4.0 to their implementation in Plasma 5, Activities have never had any online help. If you go to the desktop toolkit, you can click on Activities, but nothing suggests why you should bother. How to create an Activity is reasonably obvious with a little exploration, but why you would want to is never explained.

      • KDE Plasma Goes Mobile

        While FOSS Force gave you a look at setting up KDE Plasma on the desktop in Don Parris’ article last week, KDE recently jumped into the mobile fray by announcing KDE Plasma Mobile at their Akademy conference this week in Spain.

        While it joins an already crowded field, with the likes of Android, Ubuntu Touch, Firefox OS and others already in the mobile OS space, Plasma Mobile “offers a free — as in freedom and beer — user-friendly, privacy-enabling, customizable platform for mobile devices,” wrote Sebastian Kugler, a lead architect, on KDE’s website. “Plasma Mobile is currently under development with a prototype available providing basic functions to run on a smartphone.”

      • KDE Started Working At Fiber, A New QML-Based Internet Browser
      • Fiber Update

        The original plan was to allow an extension to handle the more crazy form-factors, but as I was blueprinting the APIs on paper I quickly found the tab-bar becoming a nightmarish monster which would have made custom tab extensions painful. Ultimately as a shortcut until a nice API can be made (and many more critical APIs can be rolled out) I’ll be adding sidebar tabs as a native feature. I may look at some sort of button form-factor as well, such as the ones commonly seen in mobile browsers.

      • Porting Qt applications to Wayland

        During Akademy I hold a session about porting applications to Wayland. I collected some of the general problems I saw in various KDE projects and want to highlight them in this blog post, too.

      • Evolving KDE – survey results
  • Distributions
    • Zorin OS, consider me a Linux fan for life

      After what now seems forever on a Windows based OS (most recently, XP and 7 for desktops, Vista for laptop), I decided to move away from XP and install Zorin OS 8 core. Although I am still on a learning curve, I cannot stress enough how much I love the OS and have not had a moment of wanting to go back to any Windows version.

    • New Releases
      • Elive 2.6.8 beta released

        Beta versions are not so optimized as the Stable ones due to debug flags and developer profiles, you can encounter errors and incomplete things, if you want a more polished system try the Stable version instead.

      • Webconverger 31 Kiosk OS Is Now Using Firefox 39

        Webconverger is a Linux distribution used for deployment in places like offices or Internet cafes, which provides users only with web applications. A new important upgrade has been made available and is now ready for download.

    • PCLinuxOS/Mageia/Mandriva Family
    • Red Hat Family
      • Red Hat augments presence in Malaysia

        Senior director and general manager, ASEAN, Damien Wong Yok Weng said Malaysia was an important market for the company and it had much potential for the adoption of open source technology across industries.

        Speaking to reporters at the official announcement of the subsidiary here, Wong said in terms of expansion strategy, Red Hat had looked at all the surrounding factors in the information technology (IT) industry.

      • Zacks Rating on Red Hat, Inc.
    • Debian Family
      • Parsix 8.0 Test 2 Is Based on Debian Testing and GNOME 3.16

        Parsix GNU/Linux, a live and installation DVD based on the testing packages from the Debian project that’s using GNOME as the desktop, is now at version 8.0 Test 2 and is ready for download and testing.

      • Derivatives
        • Canonical/Ubuntu
          • Canonical Says Ubuntu-Based Docker Images Are Not a Copyright Violation

            Canonical said through the voice of Dustin Kirkland that you can use Ubuntu with Docker without violating any copyright policy, contradicting what Matthew Garrett said in a blog post just a week ago.

          • Snappy Ubuntu Core 15.04 Gets a Second Stable Release

            A second Snappy Ubuntu Core 15.04 iteration has been released by Canonical, and the new version comes with a reworked boot logic for BeagleBone Black, among other features.

          • Ubuntu Touch Finally Gets a Regression Fix for Nexus 4 and Aquaris Phones

            Canonical has recently released a new OTA update for Ubuntu Touch and it brought a large number of new features and improvements, but also a nasty regression that caused the telephony function to fail on BQ phones and Nexus 4. That fix has finally landed.

          • Review: Ubuntu 15.04

            Perhaps that’s a sign that it’s time for Canonical to take the opposite tack to Microsoft and move to less frequent releases, or at least less arbitrarily timetabled ones. Ubuntu is stable enough now not to need constant updating, and in this case waiting on the Linux 4 kernel would have made for a much more compelling release. Canonical’s engineers, meanwhile, could benefit from spending more time working on long-promised upgrades, and less time patching and polishing half-baked versions of things for a biannual release.

            If you’re looking for a free, friendly and powerful OS for desktops and servers, Ubuntu is still an easy Linux distribution to recommend. But even for established Ubuntu users this update is neither practically nor emotionally compelling. If Canonical seriously wants Ubuntu to make more of a mainstream impact, Ubuntu 15.04 – a barely necessary update rolled out to serve a timetable rather than a strategy – is precisely the sort of thing it needs to stop releasing.

          • Ubuntu 15.04 On The Tegra X1 Yields Even Better Results, More Benchmarks

            Earlier this week I posted some initial benchmark figures for the NVIDIA Tegra X1 on Ubuntu Linux. Those results showed much promise for this 64-bit ARM big.LITTLE SoC that also bears a Maxwell GPU, but that wasn’t tested for the initial comparison. Here are a few more benchmark results from this Tegra X1, including an Ubuntu 15.04 installation to show the difference against the Tegra X1 on Ubuntu 14.10.

          • Canonical’s Alan Pope Proved That Porting HTML5 Games To Ubuntu Touch Is Easy

            Alan Pope, or Popey, Ubuntu’s new Community Manager of Engineering at Canonical has proven in this article that porting HTML5 Games to Ubuntu Touch is not such a difficult task after all.

          • Flavours and Variants
            • Ubuntu MATE Will Offer a Choice Between Ubuntu Software Center and App Grid

              Ubuntu MATE devs recently decided to remove the Ubuntu Software Center from the default installation. The decision was met with some resistance, but a lot of users expressed their support for the removal of the Ubuntu Software Center. Now, the team has explained what are they putting in its place.

  • Devices/Embedded
    • Carrier adds Arduino and MCU hooks to Zynq ARM/FPGA COM

      Avnet released a carrier board for its Linux-driven, FPGA-enabled MicroZed COMs featuring an Arduino shield interface and hooks to an optional MCU board.

      The MicroZed Carrier Card Kit for Arduino extends Avnet’s SBC-like MicroZed computer-on-module with Arduino and MCU expansion. The $89 kit is designed for Internet of Things applications such as industrial control, remote sensing, and embedded vision.

    • i.MX6 hacker board features M.2 and wide-range power

      SolidRun has revamped its line of sandwich-style, community-backed HummingBoard single board computers, adding a new high-end HummingBoard Edge model. Like the other HummingBoards, it runs Linux on swappable “MicroSOM” computer-on-modules running various Cortex-A9 based Freescale i.MX6 SoCs. SolidRun’s open-spec HummingBoard placed 21st out of 53 Linux- and/or Android-friendly hacker SBCs in our recent SBC reader survey.

    • Phones
      • Android
Free Software/Open Source Leftovers
  • 5 Reasons I Lost $9,000 On An iPhone Game

    If you’ve watched television recently, you’ve probably noticed that Kate Upton’s tits really want you to play a smartphone game called Game Of War: Fire Age. That ad campaign cost approximately 40 million dollars, or about 5 million more than the entire development cost of Borderlands 2. They can afford their “it’s like Game Of Thrones, but, somehow, even more sexual!” marketing because, as we write this, Game Of War is raking in more than a million dollars each day. Jason Croghan has spent several thousand dollars on it, and he told us all about how games like Fire Age sink their claws into you — and don’t let go.

  • SAP CRM problems prompts 95% loss in British Gas operating profit

    British Gas Business has suffered a 95 percent loss in operating profit during the first half of this year, following a transition to a new SAP billing and CRM system.

    The utility firm said in its profit announcement this morning: “British Gas Business was impacted by issues following the implementation of a new billing and CRM system in 2014, which has resulted in significant delays to issuing customer bills.

  • Hardware
    • The case against SSDs

      Flash-based SSDs have revolutionized enterprise storage. But SATA SSDs have serious problems that show that after more than 50 years of disk-based storage, our ancient I/O stack must be rebuilt. Here’s why.

  • Security
    • Get root on an OS X 10.10 Mac: The exploit is so trivial it fits in a tweet

      Yosemite, aka version 10.10, is the latest stable release of the Mac operating system, so a lot of people are affected by this vulnerability. The security bug can be exploited by a logged-in attacker or malware on the computer to gain total unauthorized control of the Mac. It is documented here by iOS and OS X guru Stefan Esser.

      It’s all possible thanks to an environment variable called DYLD_PRINT_TO_FILE that was added in Yosemite. It specifies where in the file system a component of the operating system called the dynamic linker can log error messages.

      If the environment variable is abused with a privileged program, an attacker can modify arbitrary files owned by the powerful user account root – files like the one that lists user accounts that are allowed administrator privileges.

    • Secure Server Deployments in Hostile Territory, Part II

      There are a few other general security practices I put in place. First, as I mentioned before, because each host has a certificate signed by an internal trusted CA for Puppet, we take advantage of those certs to require TLS for all network communications between hosts. Given that you are sharing a network with other EC2 hosts, you want to make sure nobody can read your traffic as it goes over this network. In addition, the use of TLS helps us avoid man-in-the-middle attacks.

    • Hackers Can Disable a Sniper Rifle—Or Change Its Target

      At the Black Hat hacker conference in two weeks, security researchers Runa Sandvik and Michael Auger plan to present the results of a year of work hacking a pair of $13,000 TrackingPoint self-aiming rifles. The married hacker couple have developed a set of techniques that could allow an attacker to compromise the rifle via its Wi-Fi connection and exploit vulnerabilities in its software. Their tricks can change variables in the scope’s calculations that make the rifle inexplicably miss its target, permanently disable the scope’s computer, or even prevent the gun from firing. In a demonstration for WIRED (shown in the video above), the researchers were able to dial in their changes to the scope’s targeting system so precisely that they could cause a bullet to hit a bullseye of the hacker’s choosing rather than the one chosen by the shooter.

  • Defence/Police/Secrecy/Aggression
    • Michael Moore film to attack US government’s state of ‘infinite war’

      Michael Moore’s new film, Where to Invade Next, explores how the US government maintains a state of “infinite war”, according to the Oscar-winning documentary film-maker.

      Moore revealed rough details of the project, which he has been making “in secret” since 2009, in his first Periscope broadcast. He answered questions from fans posted on Twitter and started by saying he’d like to “say ‘Hello!’ to my NSA friends that are watching right now”. He’s been a vocal critic of the agency’s mass surveillance practices – revealed by the Guardian in 2013 – and called whistleblower Edward Snowden “the hero of the year”.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife
    • PacifiCorp Superficial Climate Change Effort

      PacifiCorp and Berkshire Hathaway Energy should really consider a much more loftier goal but ultimately these companies are at the beck and call of shareholders so making large investments will reduce short term profits and that is why they are not going bigger. Another thing in addition to increasing these goals that PacifiCorp could do and should be doing across its grid is replacing transmission infrastructure with a smart grid where power can be stored when capacity exceeds demand. This in turn would reduce emissions significantly but also they could take steps like installing smart meters at all ratepayer locations (which PacifiCorp is behind on and only rolled out in a few small markets).

  • Finance
    • I went to Athens to see what economic catastrophe looks like on the ground — and what I saw shocked me.

      Like many other proud Greek-Americans, I’ve visited the country of my ancestors many times over the years. I even lived in Athens for two years while working for the U.S. government.

      I recently returned to Athens for a week to help the Greek government draft a new whistlebIower protection law. It was my first trip to the country in nine years — and suffice it to say, a lot’s changed.

      I followed the news of Greece’s financial collapse as closely as anyone. I’d heard the numbers — I knew that 40 percent of Greeks now live in poverty, for example, and that half of all young people in the country are unemployed. Seeing it in person was something else entirely.

    • Prof. Wolff and Cornel West talk about Capitalism and White Supremacy on GRITtv

      A conversation about capitalism with two brilliant minds, Cornel West and Prof. Wolff, together in a rare joint appearance.

    • British Gas owners Centrica to axe thousands of jobs

      British Gas owner Centrica is axing up to 6000 jobs despite reporting that profits were up 44 per cent to £656 million during the first half of 2015.

      Profits were boosted by higher household gas usage because of colder weather and the falling price of wholesale gas. Centrica nonetheless decided to slash its interim dividend by 30 per cent and aim to cut costs by £750 million in the next five years.

    • Prince George’s £18,000 birthday gift speaks volumes about Britain’s widening wealth inequality

      Normal children would be excited by a low roofed plastic wendy-house to hide away in and stew pretend tea. Some privileged toddlers may dream of a more stable wooden playhouse – big enough to host non-imaginary guests and less likely to blow away in a gust of wind. But no child other than Prince George could conceivably be the owner of a magnificent £18,000 cottage on wheels.

      The royal tot was given a luxury Victorian-style outhouse as a second birthday present from Dorset based company Plankbridge that started up with the help of The Prince’s Trust. It is positioned on the edge of the Prince of Wales’s wildflower meadow at Highgrove, probably in the hope that scenic views will inspire George to inherit his grandfather’s love of botany.

      While you’d expect the average wendy-house to be cluttered with plastic chairs and bowls of fake fruit, this one is fitted with a wood-burning stove, oak floors and a day bed. To make matters more laughable the souped-up shed is known as “The Shepherd’s Hut”, a title which carries with it connotations of rural poverty and humbleness.

    • For NYT, US Labor Abuses Abroad Are a Thing of Decades Past

      Usually investing in other countries is thought to both increase returns to the country doing the investment and diversify risks, since it is unlikely that foreign countries will be subject to the same problems that may be hitting China (or the US) at the same time. It is interesting that the New York Times seems to hold the opposite perspective.

  • PR/AstroTurf/Lobbying
    • Corporate lobbying expense jumps as U.S. trade debate rages

      Washington lobbying by companies and groups involved in global trade boomed in the past nine months, records show, as Congress debated a landmark trade pact proposed by President Barack Obama, the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).

      Lobbying expenditures by members of a pro-TPP coalition increased to $135 million in the second quarter of 2015, up from $126 million in the first quarter and $118 million in the fourth quarter of 2014, according to Senate Office of Public Records reports reviewed by Reuters.

    • The Attack on Planned Parenthood, a View from Inside ALEC

      When I went to work for Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin (PPWI) in 2003 as their legislative director, I was unprepared for the attacks this organization experiences on a routine basis. There are organizations solely dedicated to shutting Planned Parenthood down, and more pop up every day. Even before the 2010 tea party takeover in state Capitols around the country, including ours, the relentless legal and political attacks on Planned Parenthood were unending.

    • On The O’Reilly Factor, Sarah Palin Accuses Planned Parenthood Of Targeting Minority Women
    • Media Activism Wins

      We’ve had a lot of recent success at getting the corporate media to respond to criticism, in great part due to your letters and emails. The fact that this correspondence is individually generated by you makes it all the more effective.

    • NY Times Echoes Judith Miller’s Iraq War Excuse By Blaming Sources, Not Reporters

      One of the most baffling elements to The New York Times botched story about a fictional “criminal” investigation bearing down on Hillary Clinton over her use of a private email account is the seemingly shrug-of-the-shoulders response from the Times editors who are ultimately responsible for the newsroom’s black eye.

  • Censorship
    • BBC forced out team behind Savile exposé, says ex-Newsnight journalist

      BBC journalists will be afraid of speaking out about the next big BBC scandal after seeing how those who tried to expose Jimmy Savile were forced out, according to the former head of investigations at Newsnight.

      Merion Jones said the way he and other journalists who complained about the way the BBC handled the scandal were pressured to leave.

      “We were told at the time that you won’t be sacked but over a year or two years you’ll realise you are being treated as an outsider, that you will never be trusted because you blew the whistle, and you will find yourself leaving,” he said. “I didn’t believe that, but I started watching what was going around me.

    • 500 and counting: websites blocked by order of UK courts

      Darren, who currently sits as a Deputy District Judge and holds the title of Managing Associate with law firm Simmons & Simmons, has blown the dust of his abacus and actually totted up how many websites British browers aren’t supposed to be able to reach any more.

    • David Cameron calls to shut down porn sites without age-restricted controls

      Open Rights Group has responded to David Cameron’s call to shut down porn sites that don’t have age-restricted controls.

    • The O’Reilly Open Source Convention Was a Twitter Disaster

      O’Reilly media’s social media manager Josh Simmons further inflamed the situation by installing “GGAutoblocker,” a mass-blocking tool developed by Harper, onto the convention’s official Twitter account. The tool has been criticised in the past for labeling a vast number of innocent Twitter users as “harassers.”

      This criticism is supported by peer-reviewed research on the autoblocker, which found that just 0.66% of users blocked by the tool can be accused of genuine harassment. The autoblocker operates on the basis of guilt by association, with users automatically added to the blocklist based on who they follow.

  • Privacy
    • Google: Lock up your Compute Engine data with your own encryption keys

      Google will now let enterprise customers of one of its Cloud Platform services lock up their data with their own encryption keys, in case they’re concerned about the company snooping on their corporate information.

    • The Crypto Wars Have Gone Global

      Recently, Congress heard testimony about whether or not backdoors should be introduced into encryption technologies, a technically problematic proposal that would fundamentally weaken the security of the Internet, according to a recent report written by eleven of the world’s leading cryptographers. But while Congress is reliving these debates from the nineties (we hear they’re in these days), the Crypto Wars are very much alive and well in other parts of the world.

      The United Kingdom, Netherlands and Australia have gone farther than the proposals put forward by the FBI by introducing new regulations that seek to weaken and place limits on the development and use of encryption. These efforts, made ostensibly to protect citizens against terrorism, are likely to have severe economic, political and social consequences for these nations and their citizens, while doing little to protect their security.

      According to the cryptographers’ report, encryption in fact has a critical role to play in national security by protecting citizens against malicious threats. The harm to the public that can be presented by lax digital security has been illustrated a number of times over recent months: data breaches such as the hack of the Office of Personnel Management compromised the personal information of tens of millions of Americans, while weak or flawed cryptography led to vulnerabilities such as Logjam and FREAK that compromised the transport layer security protocols used to secure network connections worldwide. Encryption is not only essential to protecting free expression in the digital age—it’s also a critical part of national security.

    • Peru’s Ministries of Health and Commerce at Odds Over TPP Data Protection Rules

      In Peru, there is an internal confrontation between ministries due to the data protection provisions of the TPP. The Ministry of Health opposes to the extension on data protection due to the effects than it can have on access over medicines for Peruvians, as many international organizations such as Medicos Sin Fronteras have claimed. Nonetheless, the Ministry of Commerce, in a document published puts this statement in doubt. The document contains 105 questions about TPP. Regarding access to medicine the document raises a question: will the TPP affect public health? Then the document states that the same concern was made during the Peru-U.S. FTA negotiation, but that to the moment those concerns have not been rejected or accepted by the Ministry of Commerce.

    • Even the Former Director of the NSA Hates the FBI’s New Surveillance Push

      The head of the FBI has spent the last several months in something of a panic, warning anyone who will listen that terrorists are “going dark”—using encrypted communications to hide from the FBI—and insisting that the bureau needs some kind of electronic back door to get access to those chats.

      It’s an argument that civil libertarians and technology industry executives have largely rejected. And now, members of the national security establishment—veterans of both the Obama and Bush administrations—are beginning to speak out publicly against FBI Director Jim Comey’s call to give the government a skeleton key to your private talks.

    • NSA Will Destroy Archived Metadata When Program Stops

      Four months from now, at the same time that the National Security Agency finally abandons the massive domestic telephone dragnet exposed by whistleblower Edward Snowden, it will also stop perusing the vast archive of data collected by the program.

      The NSA announced on Monday that it will expunge all the telephone metadata it previously swept up, citing Section 215 of the U.S.A Patriot Act.

    • After Two Years, White House Finally Responds to Snowden Pardon Petition — With a “No”

      The White House on Tuesday ended two years of ignoring a hugely popular whitehouse.gov petition calling for NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden to be “immediately issued a full, free, and absolute pardon,” saying thanks for signing, but no.

      “We live in a dangerous world,” Lisa Monaco, President Obama’s adviser on homeland security and terrorism, said in a statement.

    • Senate majority whip: Cyber bill will have to wait until fall

      Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-Texas) on Tuesday said the upper chamber is unlikely to move on a stalled cybersecurity bill before the August recess.

      Senate Republican leaders, including Cornyn, had been angling to get the bill — known as the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act (CISA) — to the floor this month.

      But Cornyn said that there is simply too much of a time crunch in the remaining legislative days to get to the measure, intended to boost the public-private exchange of data on hackers.

      “I’m sad to say I don’t think that’s going to happen,” he told reporters off the Senate floor. “The timing of this is unfortunate.”

    • Surveillance of all citizens: French government has now carte blanche

      On 23th July, the French Constitutional Council adopted a historical decision, standing out by its disregard for individual freedoms, right to privacy and freedom of speech. The “elders” have decided to avoid a real analysis of the proportionality of the new surveillance laws, and have shown their will to not stand in the way of the political game, becoming a mere rubber-stamping chamber.

    • Does the Kremlin Have a New Way of Hacking the West?

      A highly-capable Russian hacker group with links to Russian intelligence and that is known for going after high-profile foreign and corporate targets is deploying a powerful new data theft tool against Western systems, according to a new report by a prominent American cybersecurity firm.

    • New report: Scotland can ensure its data sovereignty with new ‘national open source transition plan’ after repeal of spying ban on MSPs

      A REPORT published today by Common Weal proposes a new plan to ensure Scottish data security and sovereignty after the revelation in the Daily Record on 24 July that the UK Government had revoked the spying ban on devolved parliaments, leaving MSPs at Holyrood open to hacking of communications by GCHQ.

  • Civil Rights
  • Intellectual Monopolies
    • Copyrights
      • You wouldn’t steal a car: Criminalisation of IP

        Criminalisation throws up a number of questions. Do existing laws cover the area to be criminalised? (For example, trade secret theft in the US is often covered by wire fraud laws.) Will criminalisation have the desired effect on incentives? Is it an appropriate use of police and public resources? Does harm exist? Is there a victim? How do magnets work?

      • Answers needed from the Copyright Police

        The City of London Police’s Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU) has been the subject of controversy following take-down notices sent to overseas domain registrars. We believe they need to strengthen their commitments to due process, independence and transparency.

      • RIAA and Friends Accuse CNET of Hosting ‘Pirate’ Software

        Several prominent music groups including the RIAA, A2IM and ASCAP have accused CNET of hosting infringing apps on Download.com. In a letter sent to the CEO of parent company CBS, the groups urge the company to reconsider whether it’s wise to offer “ripping” software.

Microsoft’s Mouthpiece Mary Branscombe Tries to Shoot Down Free Software, But Fails Miserably

8 hours 57 min ago

“Just keep rubbing it in, via the press, analysts, newsgroups, whatever. Make the complete failure of the competition’s technology part of the mythology of the computer industry. We want to place selection pressure on those companies and individuals that show a genetic weakness for competitors’ technologies, to make the industry increasingly resistant to such unhealthy strains, over time.”

Microsoft, internal document [PDF]

Summary: At the CBS-owned ZDNet, which is Free/Open Source software-hostile, new FUD surfaces, but the FUD is so flawed that a full rebuttal is easy and almost imperative

Microsoft still chronically hates Free/libre software (especially classic copyleft) and it is desperately craving for some ‘dirt’ on it, no matter how hard it is to find. Microsoft propagandist (for nearly a decade now, or at least half a decade, both at CBS and at IDG) Mary Branscombe decided to pick on Free/libre software. The result is laughable. It’s a terrible piece. ZDNet, part of CBS, published this nonetheless. The editor (probably Larry) was apparently OK with that.

With fair use in mind, we are going to deconstruct everything in Branscombe’s article and show that it’s just a pile of baloney. Let’s start with the headline:

“Open source: Free as in speech, beer – or puppy?”

Not even original. Sun’s old CEO used this analogy (“puppy”) a very long time ago, before Sun defected to Free/Open Source software (FOSS) and got a new CEO. Branscombe is just copying or even ‘stealing’ the analogy without any attribution.

“It’s hard to give developers more control over how their work is used and still keep it open source.”

That’s an insane talking point. It’s like saying that the needs of the developers to oppress the users outweigh the needs and the interests of users. Branscombe encourages and advocates user-subjugating software. How ethical does it make her seem? Moreover, as we shall explain later, this affects all types of software, including proprietary software. It’s not a FOSS issue at all.

“When you put your code out under an open source licence, how much control can you expect over what it’s used for?”

Free software developers are developing because they want people to use their software. If Branscombe had spoken to any developers (even those of proprietary software), she would quickly realise that exercising control over the users is not the goal of these developers. Exploiting users is often the job (or the goal) of non-technical managers, who sometimes share users’ data with marketers, spies, etc.

“Open source has often been described as ‘free as in speech, rather than free as in beer’. Yes, it’s software that’s free to use, but the lack of a price tag isn’t always the main point.”

That’s quoting Richard Stallman without naming him. But to say that free software means “free to use” is to show lack of comprehension of his points. Free/libre software isn’t about “free to use”; the four freedoms which Stallman speaks about are what it’s really about.

“For some it’s about not being encumbered by limiting commercial licences or patents and royalties, for others it’s about the importance of being able to see and modify the source code of what they’re running (or distributing source so users can see it).”

By “commercial licences” she means proprietary licences. That’s a different thing. Regarding “patents and royalties”, this may inadvertently refer to software covered by the terms described under the text of the GPLv3.

The point about “distributing source so users can see it” is bizarre because visibility alone does not make software “Free software” or even “Open Source”. That’s just how Microsoft fraudulently openwashes a lot of its software. Branscombe helps this villainous mirage.

Now comes some of the more horrid stuff, as Branscombe probably believes that she kindly introduced FOSS in a fair and balanced fashion.

“And as I’ve long said, open source can also be ‘free as in puppy’; you take on the responsibility of care and keeping when you start to depend on open source software.”

Right, because nobody ever comes to depend on proprietary software? Whose stewardship and maintenance are both monopolised by people whose agenda differs from yours? This, if anything, is a point against proprietary software.

“You can run into problems if the project is no longer developed, or pulled suddenly when the company is bought by Apple and you discover you were using open source components that depended on a closed source core like FoundationDB, and that core is no longer available.”

Because proprietary software companies never get bought? Or discontinue a product? Oh, wait, they do. And often. If it’s Free software, then you can at least take charge or rely on others to take charge (e.g. forks or newly-created successors). Again, if anything, this is a point against proprietary software. Branscombe twists a problem with proprietary software as one exclusive to Free software. We saw other examples of that shameless spin very recently, as recently as one week ago.

“That makes it vital to always look carefully at the licence for open source software, especially if your business is involved (that’s part of the care and keeping of the free puppy).”

Right, because proprietary software licences never change? Or the EULA (see how Vista 10 trashes privacy this week)? You don’t even get to vote on or reject those. If a Free software project diverges from a licence in a way that people are opposed to, they can then fork while maintaining the more desirable licence. This, in turn, puts more pressure on the developer to obey the needs of the users. It keeps developers honest and obedient to their users; they cannot merely ‘occupy’ and thereby mistreat users. Isn’t that a positive thing in a moral society?

“But for some software developers, the free speech comparison is getting more relevant.”

The example she thus provides is irrelevant to free speech:

“Take the GIMP project, which stopped using SourceForge to distribute the Windows installer for its open source image editor in 2013, because of the ads that started appearing on the site featuring download buttons for alternative versions of the software.”

Advertising is not a matter of free speech and denying advertising is not a matter of free speech, either.

“GIMP left the site up because there were so many links to it online, but stopped updating the installers there. SourceForge deemed the product abandoned and started mirroring the releases from GIMP, but it also ‘experimented’ with wrapping the GIMP installer with adware.”

Therein lies the problem. Adware. It’s not just about ads on a page. It’s proprietary garbage that is not wanted and is improperly bundled.

“The GIMP team wasn’t happy (and SourceForge stopped wrapping the installer, although it didn’t stop mirroring it). But because GIMP is under the GPL and LGPL licences SourceForge did nothing wrong: those licences allow software to be repackaged.”

Nobody ever alleged that SourceForge had violated any software licences, so it’s unclear where Branscombe is going with this. No point is being made except the fact that developers can revoke endorsement (not distribution) of some piece of software if inappropriately packaged. GIMP developers packed up and moved. That’s a good thing. Some call it “free market”.

“Android tool developer Collin Mulliner was equally upset to discover that Hacking Team (an Italian company that sells surveillance tools to governments) had used his Android framework to build their Android voice call monitoring software.”

That is a licence violation. So what’s her point?

“”For the future I will use a license for all my software that excludes use for this kind of purpose,” he said in the blog he wrote to make it clear that he didn’t work on the Hacking Team tool. But that might be hard: writing a licence that lets people use your code freely means they can use the code for anything they want.”

But Hacking Team violated the terms of the GPL. Therein lies the main issue. Proprietary software would not have done any better at preventing use for malicious purposes, so how is this even relevant?

“Douglas Crockford famously added a line to his licence for JSON that said it couldn’t be used for evil (and just as famously said that IBM had asked for a variation because they couldn’t guarantee that their customers wouldn’t use it for evil).”

Is that a bad thing?

“Yes, the GPL has repeatedly been used in court, but mostly to force companies to comply with the rules about open sourcing their own code if they’ve published software based on GLP-licenced code.”

The typo/bad English aside (the verb has an “s” in it, but maybe this poor pieces was composed in a rush), is Branscombe trying to insinuate that honouring a licence is a bad thing?

“Commercial use is easier to police, but anyone who is going to use open source code for evil is unlikely to pay much attention to licences that say they can’t, and having people use your code for purposes you don’t approve of is pretty much the definition of free speech.”

Proprietary software (commercial software as Branscombe calls it) has exactly the same issues, so what is her point anyway? Where is that “free puppy” point ever coming into play?

“It’s going to take some careful writing of licences to give developers more control over how software they open source is used in the ways they want, without stopping the open uses they want to enable.”

Again, nothing to do with “Open Source” (Free software) at all. Branscombe takes an issue that applies to all software and frames it as one pertaining to Free software. But why? Just look at Branscombe’s history of badmouthing Microsoft’s competitors.

People of New Zealand Must Rise Up to Defend Sovereignty and Stop Software Patents

9 hours 34 min ago

Corporations rely on people remaining ignorant, apathetic and docile like sheep

Summary: The TPPA serves to override (launder) the law of New Zealand, allegedly legalising patents on software in the process

MUCH of the software patents debate in New Zealand happened 2 years ago and about 5 years ago. We also wrote about it the other day, having noticed revisionism in the media.

Well, software patents are now being pushed from the back door (bypassing public debate), as today’s ZDNet article serves to remind us:

Negotiations for the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement appear likely to undo New Zealand’s ban on software patents.

[...]

The president of the New Zealand Open Source Society is “livid” that New Zealand’s Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement negotiating team appears to have already conceded the country’s newly-minted ban on software patents.

[...]

Lane said leaks of the negotiating position show that at one point only Mexico was holding the line on software patents and New Zealand appeared to have already conceded.

The implication is New Zealand’s new software patent law, passed just two years ago, will need to be reversed if the TPPA is inked.

“I think it would be fair to say that I haven’t seen any indication that there is anything positive for New Zealand in this at all,” Lane said. “The only motivation that I’ve been able to discern for taking part in the process is the somewhat dogmatic idea that if we are not part of this then we are going to miss out on something.”

It is clear that corporations and plutocrats always get what they want unless people fight back. We encourage people in New Zealand, not just software developers, to rise up and resist this injustice. It’s a nonviolent coup attempt.

Microsoft Illegally Evades Billions of Dollars in Tax, Says IRS

9 hours 50 min ago

Summary: The criminal enterprise known as Microsoft finds itself embarrassingly exposed in the courtroom, for the IRS belatedly (decades too late) targets the company in an effort to tackle massive tax evasions

AT the end of last year we wrote about the IRS setting its sight on Microsoft, in spite of Microsoft’s influence in the United States government. Microsoft then attacked the IRS using its lawyers, for merely investigating Microsoft (i.e. doing its job), thus wasting taxpayers money in the courts. Can anyone not see the sheer arrogance of Microsoft? Having already been caught engaging in serious financial fraud (reported to the authorities by an insider) and despite being notorious for taxation/tax violations, Microsoft thinks it has moral ground and believes it can sue the IRS for merely investigating a criminal. Criminal companies with the “God complex” apparently believe that they don’t need to pay tax (because they are very politically-connected) and if you say that they do, they threaten you and bully you. It’s a form of SLAPP (strategic lawsuit against public participation). Microsoft already loses billions of dollars and it sued the IRS for alleging that Microsoft owes billions of dollars to US citizens (easily provable).

This new article from The Register, based on legal documents, reveals the latest in this saga:

The ongoing squabble between Microsoft and the US Internal Revenue Service is heading to court, beginning with a hearing to take place in a Seattle federal court on Tuesday.

The case is gearing up to become one of the largest-ever legal battles between tax authorities and a US corporation over the practice of shifting assets to overseas subsidiaries as a way of avoiding US tax.

The IRS has alleged that deals Microsoft struck with subsidiaries in Bermuda and Puerto Rico between the years of 2004 and 2009 have potentially cost the US Treasury billions in tax revenue. But Redmond thinks the top tax agency’s snooping has gone on long enough and it should either produce a hard figure or drop the whole matter.

Microsoft also claims the IRS acted improperly when it hired two outside law firms to help it in its investigation, which the software giant describes as improperly delegating a government function to a private firm.

Microsoft has filed two Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests to see documents exchanged between the IRS and the law firms it contracted, including Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan and Boies Schiller & Flexner. The IRS has provided some such documents but Microsoft thinks it should be compelled to produce more.

Even if Microsoft goes bankrupt (it suffers losses already), people like Bill Gates, who became rich owing to the company’s criminal activities, should be able to (if not forced to) pay what was looted from the public. More of the corporate media should have the courage to cover the above news, but seeing how Microsoft uses SLAPP against the messengers, maybe the media chooses to stay silence and let only official documents (buried behind paywalls) speak.

“We’ve got to put a lot of money into changing behavior.”

–Bill Gates

Vista 10 Very Buggy Upon Release, Just as We Have Repeatedly Warned for Weeks

10 hours 14 min ago

This is how buggy Vista 10 is (source)

Summary: Vista 10 is prematurely pushed out the door (in order to meet a deadline), way ahead of it being stable, even remotely polished, let alone supported by hardware companies (there is a serious drivers issue)

Based on what developers from Microsoft whispered to us (loyalty to Microsoft is down even inside Microsoft), Vista 10 is very buggy (critically even, with fatal crashes) and was definitely not ready for release. Microsoft’s management was too shy to postpone the release, having just announced billions in losses, layoffs, and other bad news. When Microsoft developers sort of blow the whistle over the common carrier it definitely speaks volumes about the severity of the issue.

Microsoft now pays the price for releasing a semi-baked pig that maintains the testers' privacy-infringing antifeatures, as even Microsoft's friend Tim Anderson acknowledges the huge problems. The editor chose the headline “MORE Windows 10 bugs!”

An issue with the new Windows 10 Start menu means that those with more than 512 application shortcuts will have missing entries.

In Windows 10, the Start menu includes an All Apps list, which you can search for quick access to installed applications.

Start menu shortcuts are still shortcut files placed in the same special locations as previous versions of Windows, but the Start menu app appears to be driven by a database on which some optimistic Microsoft coder has placed a limit of 512 entries.

Based on what people are saying online (real people, mostly in forums, including in our IRC channels), Vista 10 is a mess which is possibly even worse than Vista. It may be hard to encounter such reports in the corporate media because Microsoft pays a lot of money to continuously flood this media with puff pieces and 'prepared' articles from well-paid (by Microsoft) PR agencies.

Microsoft is now trying to push people to ‘upgrade’ to Vista 10 for ‘security’ (despite universal back doors in it (see this wiki page for many examples) and two days ago we saw this report that can help convince Windows XP users to rush into Vista 10. “Next month at DefCon in Las Vegas (August 8),” says this report, “a group of security researchers say they’ll demonstrate how to crack one of Brink’s CompuSafe digital safes in under 60 seconds.” The title of the article is “Brinks has a safe that runs Windows XP and hackers say they can crack it in 60 seconds”, but would any other version of Windows do any better?

Windows is not secure. It was never designed to be secure. Microsoft deliberately lets crackers get in, e.g. via NSA back doors. What reason would anyone ever have for ‘upgrading’ to such a buggy platform with so much more surveillance (the very opposite of security)?

Surveillance Machine With a Keylogger: Vista 10 Will Spy on the User (Over the Internet) Even While Playing Games

10 hours 43 min ago

“David Smith commented that Gartner will not bash MS if MS chooses to slip Vista.”

Jamin Spilzer, Microsoft

Summary: Microsoft is making it clear that even playing a simple game like Solitaire on Vista 10 will make one subjected to spying (for targeted ads); other serious violations of privacy revealed upon release

TECHRIGHTS does not wish to cover Vista 10 too much (we significantly reduced such focus in 2010), but it’s inevitable, since Microsoft pays a lot of companies to flood the Web with Vista 10 spam, that we should feel the need to respond.

Over at ZDNet, part of CBS, Adrian Kingsley-Hughes writes that Microsoft is now trying to make money from Solitaire, making it just spyware like the rest of the stack (studying the users for ads delivery), unless one ‘upgrades’ it. To quote the original: “Microsoft is once again bundling Solitaire with Windows, but if you want an ad-free experience then that’s going to cost you.”

So if you ‘upgrade’ (for ‘free’) to Vista 10, you will lose access to ‘free’ Solitaire, which now spies on everyone (for ads). Based on recent reports, Microsoft does not give people the ability to block surveillance through ads, unless they install an alternative Web browser (one that is not bolted into Windows). As The Register put it, one can “forget about extending the browser in any way, at least at first.” “Norton Antivirus doesn’t want you to use Microsoft Edge because it currently lacks extensions,” says this headline from a Microsoft advocacy site. So basically, Vista 10 is optimised for maximal surveillance.

But wait, it gets worse. A lot of articles were written upon the release of Vista 10, making it clear that Microsoft, despite the NSA leaks, made Windows even more privacy-hostile. Here are some examples from the news:

- Just remember folks…

Just remember folks – upgrading to Windows 10 – Asimov/CEIP/WER (MS’ real time telemetry system built into W10 to collect data on your usage patterns) will be running.

Until someone comes up with a tool to remove it or stop it then, literally everything you do is reported back to MS.

Microsoft said that it would be removed during release-to-manafacturing (RTM) – and it wasn’t so upgrade with this in mind (or wait).

- Disable KeyLogger Windows 10

Install Windows 10

Press Shift + F10 on the loginscreen to open commandprompt

Input the following commands:

sc delete DiagTrack

sc delete dmwappushservice

echo “” > C:\ProgramData\Microsoft\Diagnosis\ETLLogs\AutoLogger\AutoLogger-Diagtrack-Listener.etl

- Windows 10: Here are the privacy issues you should know about

Windows 10 has just arrived and there’s a new Privacy Policy and Service Agreement from Microsoft coming swiftly in its wake.

The new policies take effect on 1 August and there are a few unsettling things nestling in there that you should be thinking about if you’re using the company’s services and software.

The Privacy Statement and Services Agreements combined come to 45 pages. Microsoft’s deputy general counsel, Horacio Gutierrez wrote that they are “straightforward terms and polices that people can clearly understand.” The reality is, you’re probably not going to read them. So I did…

And, like so many other companies, Microsoft has grabbed some very broad powers to collect things you do, say and create while using its software. Your data won’t be staying on your computer, that much is for sure.

Data syncing by default

Sign into Windows with your Microsoft account and the operating system immediately syncs settings and data to the company’s servers. That includes your browser history, favorites and the websites you currently have open as well as saved app, website and mobile hotspot passwords and Wi-Fi network names and passwords.

- Microsoft’s new small print – how your personal data is (ab)used

Microsoft has renewed its Privacy Policy and Service Agreement. The new services agreement goes into effect on 1 August 2015, only a couple of days after the launch of the Windows 10 operating system on 29 July.

The new “privacy dashboard” is presented to give the users a possibility to control their data related to various products in a centralised manner. Microsoft’s deputy general counsel, Horacio Gutierrez, wrote in a blog post that Microsoft believes “that real transparency starts with straightforward terms and policies that people can clearly understand”. We copied and pasted the Microsoft Privacy Statement and the Services Agreement into a document editor and found that these “straightforward” terms are 22 and 23 pages long respectively. Summing up these 45 pages, one can say that Microsoft basically grants itself very broad rights to collect everything you do, say and write with and on your devices in order to sell more targeted advertising or to sell your data to third parties. The company appears to be granting itself the right to share your data either with your consent “or as necessary”.

A French tech news website Numerama analysed the new privacy policy and found a number of conditions users should be aware of:

By default, when signing into Windows with a Microsoft account, Windows syncs some of your settings and data with Microsoft servers, for example “web browser history, favorites, and websites you have open” as well as “saved app, website, mobile hotspot, and Wi-Fi network names and passwords”. Users can however deactivate this transfer to the Microsoft servers by changing their settings.

This was also foreseen a year ago. See this article from 2014, warning about privacy violations as per the preview:

Controversy has erupted around Microsoft’s Windows 10 preview. More specifically, questions are being raised about the amount of tracking – and the depth of tracking – that was built into the preview.

The Windows 10 technical preview goes so far as to monitor your typing, potentially crossing the line from instrumentation of alpha-level software into creepy corporate surveillance.

Truth be told, I honestly don’t think anyone but the extreme nutter fringe had, or has, a problem with being tracked in the preview. When you download the preview it is pretty upfront about the fact that it will monitor everything it can find to monitor.

The problem is that both Microsoft and the US government have lost the trust of the general populace. Discovering borderline technologies incorporated into Windows 10′s technical preview (like the built-in keylogger of ultimate controversy) simply serves as a catalyst for concerned citizens to ask the questions that have been bothering them for some time.

How much of this instrumentation will be in the release version? What are the specifics of the type and quantity of data being collected during the preview and – far more critically – what data will our Redmondian overlords be collecting on us in the release version of the operating system?

There are many more articles about privacy violations in Vista 10, but we don’t wish to focus too much on Windows, which is a dying/rotting platform.

This has become quite so horrible that Windows is now a huge risk of espionage for any corporation, let aside governments (fewer of them than corporations). There’s no longer a legal violation required for the NSA (e.g. cracking, warrantless access to datacentres)). The spies are able to gain access to sensitive data (as fine-level as keylogging, which means passwords too), using just a secret, wide-ranging warrant or ‘lawful’ interception of Microsoft data transmissions (probably with bogus/weak ‘encryption’ or none at all). No sane person who is aware of these conditions (effectively legal waivers) should allow Vista 10 to be used. It’s not an “upgrade”, it’s not “free”, it’s just “sellout” (of oneself).

Links 29/7/2015: Akademy 2015 Ends, NetBSD 7.0 RC

Wednesday 29th of July 2015 12:23:18 PM

Contents GNU/Linux Free Software/Open Source
  • Open Technology Week looks at potential of open-source tech

    Experts from industry and academia gathered in Cambridge at the weekend to discuss just that as part of the city’s first Open Technology Week.

    Open technology refers to items for which the source code or designs are available free of charge for users to use and modify.

  • Intel to shift Hillsboro engineers to Texas for open source project

    Intel Corp. engineers from Portland will play a role in the development in a new tech development center that’s opening in San Antonio.

    As the San Antonio Business Journal reports, Intel announced a significant investment with Rackspace in a new OpenStack Innovation Center that will be based at Rackspace’s headquarters in San Antonio.

  • 10 tips for better documentation

    Last July, after a full week at OKFestival, I managed to find enough energy to attend the Write the Docs EU Berlin Unconference. I only managed to attend one day of the event, but it was worth it because Paul Adams, a free software advocate and Director of Engineering at KDAB, led a discussion in which we came up with rules for helping documentation teams be more productive:

  • This is why your open source project is failing

    At OSCON this year, Red Hat’s Tom Callaway gave a talk entitled “This is Why You Fail: The Avoidable Mistakes Open Source Projects STILL Make.” In 2009, Callaway was starting to work on the Chromium project—and to say it wasn’t a pleasant experience was the biggest understatement Callaway made in his talk.

  • NPR releases open source social media tools for newsrooms

    The helpful folks at NPR have released a collection of fully customisable, open source tools to help journalists create visually engaging images for social media.

    The tools – called Quotable, Factlist and Waterbug – were announced last night by Brian Boyer, editor of the NPR visuals team, as an easy way “for you to create those fashionable social graphics for your news organisation”.

  • Growing pains: Open source ubiquity raises ownership, governance issues

    Overlapping scope and membership can confuse users, Miniman warns. Unlike the rules produced by standards committees, foundations don’t guarantee interoperability between implementations. IT organizations need to develop an understanding of how open communities operate, how different licensing models work and how they can become actively involved in shaping open source software.

  • Open source software is the only way to keep up

    Between 2005 and 2010, software development accelerated so quickly that some said open source had won the corporate market. But it didn’t stop there. In 2015, surveys showed that companies were using, supporting, and creating more open source software.

    If we look at this pattern, then we can see open source will just keep growing. It’s not going anywhere. If you’re not using, contributing, or supporting it, then you’re going to be left behind.

  • DHI Group plans to sell off Slashdot and Sourceforge

    DHI Group—formerly known as Dice Holdings Incorporated prior to this April—announced plans this morning to sell the combination of Slashdot and SourceForge. The announcement was made as part of DHI’s 2Q15 financial results, which were mostly positive, with DHI showing an increase in revenue over the same period last year (totaling $65.8 million) and a net income of $5.7 million.

  • Move over Skype, Facetime, Hangouts. Here comes Spreedbox, a fully open source, secure videoconferencing solution

    Following the trend of privacy-respecting products and projects coming out of Europe (e.g., ownCloud, Kolab, and Plasma Mobile), German firm struktur AG has started a Kickstarter project called Spreedbox, which aims to offer a secure audio video conferencing service. According to the project page, “The Spreedbox is a unique device for secure audio/video conferencing, text and video messaging and file sharing. The Spreedbox is your own conferencing, meeting and file exchange service on the Internet and puts the control and security of your data into your own hands.”

  • Open Source Is Going Even More Open—Because It Has To

    Open source foundations are nothing new. Linux Foundation has been around since 2007, and other major projects like the Eclipse code editing tool and the Apache web server have been governed this way for even longer. Many of the most important open source projects in recent years, such as the Hadoop big data crunching platform and the database system Cassandra, are managed by the Apache Foundation. But it’s unusual to see so many new foundations created so quickly.

  • Student researchers collaborate virtually with help of open-source software

    A typical summer research program—the institute’s Nanobio Research Experience for Undergraduates, for example—brings students together to one host university, where they work in different laboratories on various projects. In the new pilot training program on Computational Biomolecular, students use an open-source software called Rosetta to work together on problems in computational biology and are mentored by faculty who are part of a global collaborative team known as the Rossetta Commons. The software gives users the ability to analyze massive amounts of data to predict the structure of real and imagined proteins, enzymes, and other molecular structures.

  • Dice Selling Slashdot and Sourceforge

    FS tells me that Ars Technica reports that Dice is selling the Slashdot and Sourceforge sites. The company in their second quarter earnings announcements stated they have “not successfully leveraged the Slashdot user base to further Dice’s digital recruitment business”, and are planning to divest this business.

  • Events
    • Tips for how to plan an open source event

      Step 1 is very clear: Document your event. This way you have shared document that all organizers can refer to as the event progresses. We started with a sample document Kara and Francesca provided. The document is broken down is to several sections and you’re free to copy the document and use it to plan your own event. I’ll review some of the sections in more detail below.

  • SaaS/Big Data
    • DreamHost CEO Details OpenStack Customer Use Cases [VIDEO]

      DreamHost has made a name for itself over the years as being a friendly, yet low-cost hosting provider, offering both shared hosting as well as virtual private servers (VPS). DreamHost is also a major backer of the open source OpenStack cloud platform and now offers the DreamCompute cloud server as well.

  • Databases
    • Amazon’s MySQL database challenger Aurora exits preview

      Following three years of development and nine months of testing, Amazon Web Services (AWS) on Tuesday announced that its Aurora database engine is now generally available to customers.

      AWS first debuted Aurora during its re:Invent conference in November 2014, positioning the database as a lower cost, higher performance alternative to the widely used open source MySQL database and other similar commercial offerings.

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice
  • BSD
  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC
    • loop optimizations in guile

      Sup peeps. So, after the slog to update Guile’s intermediate language, I wanted to land some new optimizations before moving on to the next thing. For years I’ve been meaning to do some loop optimizations, and I was finally able to land a few of them.

  • Public Services/Government
    • Open source runs Croatia’s geospatial services platforms

      Croatia’s Ministry of Environment and Nature Protection has become one of the country’s major users of open source solutions. The software is making possible two geospatial service platforms on biodiversity and environmental protection, unveiled in May.

    • Western Greece switches to using open source GIS

      The Decentralized Administration of Peloponnese, Western Greece and the Ionian is recommending the use of open source software solutions for its Geographic Information Systems. A memo from the IT department wants all public administrations to start using Qgis.

  • Standards/Consortia
Leftovers
  • Amazon proposes drones-only airspace to facilitate high-speed delivery

    Amazon is proposing that a pristine slice of airspace above the world’s cities and suburbs should be set aside for the deployment of high-speed aerial drones capable of flying robotically with virtually no human interference.

    The retail giant has taken the next step in its ambition to deliver packages via drone within 30 minutes by setting out in greater detail than ever before its vision for the future of robotic flight. It envisages that within the next 10 years hundreds of thousands of small drones – not all of them Amazon’s or devoted to delivery – will be tearing across the skies every day largely under their own automated control.

  • Science
    • New study into lack of women in Tech: It’s NOT the men’s fault

      A new study into causes of the scarcity of women in technical and scientific fields says that it is not discrimination by men in the field keeping the ladies away. Nor is it a repugnance felt by women for possibly dishevelled or unhygienic male nerds.

      No, the reason that young women don’t train in Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) areas – and thus, don’t find themselves with jobs at tech companies, in IT etc – is quite simply that they mostly don’t know enough maths to do those courses.

      “It is all about the mathematical content of the field. Girls not taking math coursework early on in middle school and high school are set on a different college trajectory than boys,” says economics prof Donna Ginther.

  • Security
    • Security advisories for Monday
    • QEMU Vulnerability Exposes The Host Through Emulated CD-ROM Drive

      Back in May was the big “VENOM” security vulnerability affect QEMU whereby VM security could be escaped through QEMU’s virtual floppy disk drive. In June was a PCNET controller buffer overflow allowing a guest to escape to have host access. Today there’s a similar security vulnerability going public about its virtual CD-ROM drive.

    • Websites, Please Stop Blocking Password Managers. It’s 2015

      Rather than fancy zero-day exploits, or cutting-edge malware, what you mostly need to worry about when it comes to security is using strong, unique passwords on all the sites and services you visit.

      You know that. But what’s crazy is that, in 2015, some websites are intentionally disabling a feature that would allow you to use stronger passwords more easily—and many are doing so because they wrongly argue it makes you safer.

    • The Ashley Madison hack — this time it’s personal

      Last week I argued that requiring backdoors in strong encryption would result in the effective end of encryption and provide a veritable buffet of sensitive data to both the government and those with malicious intents. Encryption with backdoors is not encryption at all.

    • Malware on Linux – When Penguins Attack

      Regular Naked Security readers will know that some security topics cause more friction that others.

      Lately, artificial intelligence has provoked its fair share of excitement.

      Surveillance and privacy are other topics that draw out some very varied viewpoints.

  • Defence/Police/Secrecy/Aggression
  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife
    • Zimbabwean officials: American man wanted in killing of Cecil the lion

      The man suspected in Cecil’s death is Walter James Palmer of Eden Prairie, Minnesota, according to Johnny Rodrigues, head of the Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force.

    • Dentist who killed Zimbabwe’s Cecil the lion hires PR firm amid global backlash

      A picture of Palmer posing with another lion he had killed on a previous hunting trip was widely circulated in the media yesterday after it emerged that he paid £32,000 to take part in a big game hunt in Zimbabwe.

    • Zimbabwe: American being sought for killing of protected lion named Cecil

      Zimbabwean police said Tuesday they are searching for an American who allegedly shot a well-known, protected lion with a crossbow in a killing that has outraged conservationists and others.

      The American allegedly paid $50,000 to kill the lion named Cecil, Zimbabwean conservationists said. Authorities on Tuesday said two Zimbabwean men will appear in court for allegedly helping with the hunt. The American faces poaching charges, according to police spokeswoman Charity Charamba.

      [...]

      Palmer, 55, pleaded guilty in 2008 to making false statements to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service about a black bear he fatally shot in western Wisconsin outside of the authorized hunting zone, according to court documents.

      [...]

      If convicted, the men face up to 15 years in prison.

    • Cecil the lion’s killer revealed as American dentist
    • Cambridge professor ‘claims three leading climate scientists may have been assassinated’

      A Cambridge professor has reportedly claimed three scientists investigating the effect of global warming upon melting Arctic ice may have been assassinated.

      According to The Times, Peter Wadhams, a professor of ocean physics, said Seymour Laxon of University College London, Katherine Giles also at UCL and Tim Boyd of the Scottish Association for Marine Science had been murdered, after all three died within a few months of each other in 2013.

  • Finance
    • Trillion-dollar world trade deal aims to make IT products cheaper

      A new global trade agreement that eliminates tariffs on more than 200 kinds of IT products should result in lower prices to technology buyers around the world as it is implemented over the next three years.

    • Trillion euro technology trade deal could cut the cost of consoles

      A EUROPEAN TECHNOLOGY TRADE DEAL worth trillions of euros has been agreed between Europe, China and the World Trade Organisation (WTO).

      The deal follows negotiations between the above parties and sees an accord reached on things like customs duties on items including games consoles, semiconductors and digital media.

    • TPP Undermines User Control and That’s Disastrous for Accessibility

      The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) threatens all users’ ability to access information and participate in culture and innovation online, but it’s especially severe for those with disabilities or who otherwise depend on content in accessible formats. That’s because it doubles down on broken policies that were heavily lobbied for by Hollywood and other major publishers that impede the distribution of accessible works.

    • The creepy reason banks want us all to have ‘tap and pay’ cards… even though they’re a godsend to fraudsters

      Are any words in the English language more abused than ‘for your convenience’? As soon as you read them you know that it’s not your convenience an organisation has in mind, but its own.

      Last week, my bank sent me a contactless debit card. If you don’t have one yet, the chances are you soon will have.

      It looks like any other credit or debit card, but contains a tiny radio receiver which – when it is waved within a couple of inches of a ticket machine or terminal at a shop checkout – can be used to make a payment.

  • Censorship
    • Lifting jokes on Twitter: no laughing matter?

      An example is a tweet by freelance writer Olga Lexell (whose Twitter account is now private) – “saw someone spill their high end juice cleanse all over the sidewalk and now I know god is on my side” – which a number of Twitter users have republished without any attribution to her as the author of the original tweet.

      Ms Lexell decided to submit a DMCA takedown request. Apparently not just God, but also Twitter was on her side. The micro-blogging platform decided in fact to withhold the allegedly infringing tweets. However (and incidentally), as IPKat readers can see here there is still a number of tweets that reproduce her joke in its entirety.

    • Donald Trump’s Clueless Lawyer Threatens Press, Says It’s Ok To Rape Your Spouse

      A few weeks ago, we wrote about the absolute ridiculousness of Donald Trump’s “lawsuit” against Univision, which made some bizarre claims about the First Amendment and defamation that clearly did not apply. While there may be a legitimate contractual dispute hidden somewhere in all that mess, there was so much fluff that it made you wonder who is actually advising the entertainer (pretending to be a politician) on legal issues. Apparently, it’s some guy named Michael Cohen, who isn’t just out of his depth on stuff, but he appears to be actively making things worse. In an astounding article over at The Daily Beast, which was initially over claims of “rape” by Donald Trump’s ex-wife Ivana during their divorce proceedings, Cohen not only claimed that you can’t rape a spouse, but also threatened to ruin The Daily Beast if they published an article. Lawyering by bullshit threats, apparently.

  • Privacy
    • Internet Australia and EFA support ALP call for Data Retention Act review

      Internet Australia and EFA have given their support to the Labor Party’s call for a review of the Data Retention Act legislation which it helped bring into law.

    • LinkedIn Just Changed This Very Popular Feature — and People Are Complaining

      LinkedIn is dealing with some very unhappy users after making it more difficult for them to export contacts.

      Business Insider reports that users can still download their contacts for the site, but it now takes longer. As of Thursday, LinkedIn users had to get an archive of their data to do the procedure, and that can reportedly can take up to 72 hours. Before, users could download user contact information immediately.

    • LinkedIn brings back contact export feature after user backlash
    • A simple developer error is exposing private information on thousands of websites

      Git is a developer’s best friend… except when it’s not used properly and exposes a site’s security.

      The tool is used for version control. It tracks changes to code over time, so that multiple developers can work together efficiently and roll back if they need to.

      Git is also the core tool used to contribute to social coding site GitHub, though they aren’t the same thing.

      It’s a glorious tool and fairly straightforward to use, but has a steep learning curve, as most of the interactions you’ll have with it are through the command line.

    • NSA ordered to destroy phone records it collected illegally

      In case you were worried the National Security Agency was still probing around your phone records, soon enough they will be deleted.

      The Office of the Director of National Intelligence announced that the “bulk collection” of phone data the NSA illegally collected under Section 215 of the Patriot act will be locked away starting November 29, 2015.

      The data will effectively be out of reach from agency employees ad infinitum, effectively making it unusable in anti-terrorism or national security investigations. The only exception will be a three-month period, in which “technical personal” can check the data for the sole purpose of verifying records produced under the new USA Freedom Act.

    • Peru Adopts Data Retention Decree: Declares Location Data No Longer Protected

      The Peruvian President today adopted a legislative decree that will grant the police warrantless access to real time user location data on a 24/7 basis. But that’s not the worst part of the decree: it compels telecom providers to retain, for one year, data on who communicates with whom, for how long, and from where. It also allows the authorities access to the data in real time and online after seven days of the delivery of the court order. Moreover, it compels telecom providers to continue to retain the data for 24 more months in electronic storage. Adding insult to injury, the decree expressly states that location data is excluded from the privacy of communication guaranteed by the Peruvian Constitution.

    • Michael Chertoff Makes the Case against Back Doors

      One of the more interesting comments at the Aspen Security Forum (one that has, as far as I’ve seen, gone unreported) came on Friday when Michael Chertoff was asked about whether the government should be able to require back doors. He provided this response (his response starts at 16:26).

    • Jim Comey Finally Has a Dastardly Criminal Who Made His Texts Unavailable
    • Nope, White House won’t pardon Snowden

      Unsurprisingly, the White House formally announced Tuesday that it will not be granting a pardon to Edward Snowden anytime soon.

      Immediately after Snowden was formally charged in 2013 with espionage, theft, and conversion of government property, supporters began petitioning the White House to pardon the famed former National Security Agency contractor.

    • Is it possible to permanently delete a social media profile?

      Put it online and it will live forever (Image: Aldo Sperber/picturetank)

      They thought they could get away with it. The 37 million people who put nude photos and intimate details of their sexual fantasies on the Ashley Madison website (which has the slogan “Life is short. Have an affair”) had a get-out clause.

      Ashley Madison, like some other sites, offers a hard delete – a guarantee that for a certain amount of money, your data will be scrubbed from all of its internal records. To permanently destroy all traces of your affiliation with the adultery social network costs £15 in the UK.

      However, a hacker collective called Impact Team has revealed that customers’ details aren’t entirely deleted. Compliance with auditing requirements means that the credit card details and name used to scrub the account remain in Ashley Madison’s database, rather defeating the point.

    • DOJ To Court: Hey, We’re Shutting Down Section 215, So We Can Probably Stop Arguing About The Legality Of Bulk Collection

      Just as James Clapper’s office was officially announcing the death of the bulk phone metadata program (ending November 29th, with three months of post-wind-down wind-down for data analysts), the DOJ was filing a motion in the Second Circuit Court of Appeals basically arguing that its finding that the program was illegal really doesn’t matter anymore.

  • Civil Rights
    • Amal Clooney launches Supreme Court appeal on behalf of Chagos islanders

      Almost a decade ago, Britain’s High Court and Court of Appeal ruled that they and their descendants could return to some of the 65 islands, though not to Diego Garcia. Those decisions were challenged by the government and overturned in 2008 by the Law Lords, then Britain’s highest court.

    • Letter to the Telegraph: End “distressing” exile of Chagossians

      In 1985, I called at Saloman Atoll, which is about 100 miles north of Diego, when crossing by yacht from Darwin to Aden. The abandoned houses and roofless church, together with the overgrown pathways were distressing to see. It is to our shame that we treated these islanders so cruelly and it is high time we made amends and repatriated them.

    • In Iraq, I raided insurgents. In Virginia, the police raided me.

      I got home from the bar and fell into bed soon after Saturday night bled into Sunday morning. I didn’t wake up until three police officers barged into my apartment, barking their presence at my door. They sped down the hallway to my bedroom, their service pistols drawn and leveled at me.

      It was just past 9 a.m., and I was still under the covers. The only visible target was my head.

      In the shouting and commotion, I felt an instant familiarity. I’d been here before. This was a raid.

    • Eight Years After Bogus Expulsion Over Supposed ‘Threat,’ Former Student Obtains $900k Settlement From University

      It’s taken former Valdosta State University (VSU) student Hayden Barnes most of a decade and two trips to the 11th Circuit Appeals Court, but his efforts to hold the school accountable for its abusive behavior have finally paid off.

    • The Wheels of Justice Turn Slowly

      On the evening March 14, 2013, a heavily-armed police force surrounded my home in Annandale, Va., after responding to a phony hostage situation that someone had alerted authorities to at our address. I’ve recently received a notice from the U.S. Justice Department stating that one of the individuals involving in that “swatting” incident had pleaded guilty to a felony conspiracy charge.

    • White House Finally Answers Snowden Pardon Petition: The Only Good Whistleblowing Is Punished Whistleblowing

      The White House has finally responded — more than two years later — to a petition asking for a pardon of Edward Snowden. The petition surfaced soon after Snowden went public with his identity. Less than three weeks later — June 25, 2013 — it had passed the 100,000-signature threshold.

  • Intellectual Monopolies
    • Copyrights
      • RIAA Wants Domain Registrar to Expose ‘Pirate Site’ Owner

        The RIAA has obtained subpoenas from a federal court in Columbia ordering domain name registrar Dynadot to hand over the IP and email addresses and all other identifying information related to the operator of the unauthorized music service Soundpiff. In addition, the RIAA notes that the registrar may want to disconnect the site due to its repeated infringements.

      • Happy Birthday Copyright Bombshell: New Evidence Warner Music Previously Hid Shows Song Is Public Domain

        Last minute evidence that completely turns a legal case on its head doesn’t come about all that often — despite what you see in Hollywood movies and TV shows. The discovery process in a lawsuit generally reveals most of the evidence revealed to everyone pretty early on. And yet… in the high profile lawsuit over the copyright status of the song “Happy Birthday,” the plaintiffs “Good Morning to You Productions” (who are making a documentary about the song and are arguing that the song is in the public domain) have popped up with a last minute filing, saying they have just come across evidence that the song is absolutely in the public domain.

        And, here’s the real kicker: they discovered this bit of evidence after two questionable things happened. (1) Warner/Chappell Music (who claims to hold the copyright for the publishing, if it exists) suddenly “found” a bunch of relevant documents that it was supposed to hand over in discovery last year, but didn’t until just a few weeks ago, and (2) a rather important bit of information in one of those new documents was somewhat bizarrely “blurred out.” This led the plaintiffs go searching for the original, and discover that it undermines Warner Music’s arguments, to the point of showing that the company was almost certainly misleading the court. Furthermore, it definitively shows that the work was and is in the public domain.

      • Filmmakers fighting “Happy Birthday” copyright find their “smoking gun”

        The “smoking gun” is a 1927 version of the “Happy Birthday” lyrics, predating Warner/Chappell’s 1935 copyright by eight years. That 1927 songbook, along with other versions located through the plaintiffs’ investigations, “conclusively prove that any copyright that may have existed for the song itself… expired decades ago.”

      • WordPress Rejects 43% Of All ‘Piracy’ Takedown Notices

        WordPress has published new data on the number of piracy takedown notices the company receives. During the first half of the year copyright holders sent close to 5,000 requests to the blogging platform. Of these takedown notices a surprisingly high percentage was rejected due to inaccuracies or plain abuse.

      • So far, WordPress denied 43% of DMCA takedown requests in 2015

        This week WordPress released the latest edition of its recurring transparency report, revealing 43 percent of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) takedown requests it received have been rejected in the first six months of 2015. It’s the lowest six-month period shown in the report, though it only dates back to 2014. However, WordPress said this headline figure would be even higher if it “counted suspended sites as rejected notices.” That change in calculation would bump the WordPress DMCA denial rate to 67 percent between January 1 and June 30, 2015.

MPEG-LA is Preparing New Patent Obstruction (Called DASH) Against Free Software, OIN Grows

Tuesday 28th of July 2015 04:29:53 PM

Summary: A new conspiracy against free multimedia software, set up by the MPEG cartel, is called DASH

THERE ARE many reasons to be concerned about the Apple- and Microsoft-backed patent troll known as MPEG-LA. In the fight against peace and justice, there are various strategies which maximise collateral damage (usually harming the majority of people for the benefit or profit of war-loving monopolies). Some are rooting for DAESH, but MPEG-LA is now rooting for something called “DASH”, only a week after the HEVC Advance press release and news coverage (very similar to MPEG-LA).

Here is the press release, a puff piece titled “MPEG LA issues call for DASH technology patents”, and another early article that says: “Just when Media Source Extensions and Encrypted Media Extensions are making HTML5-based video playback a reality, DASH royalties threaten to derail it.” (the headline says “An Unhappy Surprise: MPEG LA Is Forming a Patent Pool for DASH”)

We are definitely going to hear more about it in days, weeks, months and perhaps years to come. It’s an assault on everyone; it’s a cartel that strives to tax everyone. This is also an assault on Google with WebM, not just Free software codecs such as the Ogg family. Google has had no effective response to it so far (trying to appease MPEG-LA by paying or cooperating, just like Mozilla, makes the problem worse), other than improving prior art search and relying on publicity stunts, claiming to be giving some patents away to fight trolls (MPEG-LA is technically a troll, one that is backed and funded by Apple and Microsoft, among other giants).

We have finally found one good article about Google’s publicity stunt. It is a new article by Jeff John Roberts, published yesterday to say: “The other big reason the Google giveaway won’t mean much for startups is that those patents – or any other patents – won’t stop the trolls. That’s because patent trolls, unlike productive companies, are just shells without real assets or business operations, meaning they’re not vulnerable to counterclaims in a patent case. As it stands, for now, the trolls will continue to plague startups and big companies alike unless Congress musters the will to pass proposed laws to undercut their business model.”

A publicity stunt is all that is, just like IBM et al. with OIN, which cannot combat patent trolls at all. Today we learn that DataCentred joins OIN. The media calls it “open source alliance” even though it is little or nothing to do with Open Source, except perhaps the covered software. The British media says that DataCentred “joins the Open Invention Network to protect Linux users against software patent aggression.

“DataCentred has joined the Open Invention Network (OIN) to leverage the use of open source and protect users of the Linux OS against software patent aggression.”

What has OIN ever done to protect GNU/Linux? There are hardly even any examples of deterrence. OIN may be good for IBM, but what about Free software developers who have no patents and can hardly join the OIN at any meaningful level of capacity?

Big companies like IBM — much like patent trolls — are not vulnerable to patent counterclaims, let alone claims. If you are a small software company, IBM will find something on you and be able to drive you out of business using legal fees. The same goes for Microsoft.

The very idea that patents can help protect the ‘little guy’ (or girl) is ludicrous. Vast software patent troves make everything potentially (and likely) infringing, so everyone is rendered vulnerable. The frantic rush to stop patent trolls rather some particular kinds of patents is due to them being a ‘hack’. When fighting against patent trolls, software giants like IBM or Microsoft cannot make counterclaims. Large patent aggressors (like trolls, but with known brand) such as Apple, IBM, HP and Microsoft hate trolls because they’re essentially a loophole. But they are happy to create or feed their own (loyal) trolls such as MOSAID, CPTN, Intellectual Ventures, and even MPEG-LA. Lobbyists in the US push hard for ‘reform’ only when it comes to patent trolls simply because that’s what mega-corporations want. There is a besieged government, which in turn becomes a government of occupation (against the people), where patents are just a corporate tool.

New Zealand’s Media Gets History Wrong on Software Patents

Tuesday 28th of July 2015 04:04:14 PM

Summary: Setting the record straight on the fight against software patents in New Zealand

HALF a decade ago we wrote a great deal about the patents debate in New Zealand because there was serious risk of software patents invading another country. Being a Five Eyes country, if it happens in New Zealand, then it can be further expanded to Australia, the United Kingdom, and Canada, just like many oppressive laws, especially in recent years (because “terrorism!” or “ISIS!” or something like that). Colonial/imperialist legacy has plenty to teach us about manufacturing and exploitation of public panic to sway public opinion and thereafter change laws.

A new article from the press in New Zealand points out the relationship between lobbying for software patents and so-called ‘trade’ deals (protectionism for multinationals). Paul Brislen is quoted sparingly and it says the following: “The negotiations had been conducted in secret and the New Zealand IT industry was concerned.”

Yes, same thing happened when it came to software patents. Large corporations such as Microsoft and IBM lobbied in secret.

Another quote: “One of the biggest issues for New Zealand was the country’s patent law and the issues for copyright.”

Copyright is an interesting one. As we now know, based on the Kim Dotcom case in New Zealand, the US Department of Justice and the FBI now apparently reign over New Zealand.

Another quote: “Parliament passed a new law about two years ago because the previous patent legislation did not cover software and IP, Mr Brislen said.”

Plutocrats and their corporations never rest until they get what they want. It can be a constant battle for power.

Another quote: “The legislation was held up for a long time while the Government debated how to respond to lobbying to introduce a law which would devalue patents.”

Patents needn’t be “devalued”, many need to be abolished, especially software patents.

Last quote: “The industry lobbied the Government to say software should not be subject to a patent.”

Well, that’s what companies from New Zealand said, but not foreign companies like Microsoft and IBM, which also used their lawyers in New Zealand to pressure the government,

Don’t let the media (especially in New Zealand) rewrite history. Software developers from New Zealand did a fine job mostly (not entirely because a loophole was left in tact, just like in Europe) defending themselves from patent aggressors and software monopolists from abroad. The article has flaws in it, but at least it recalls a big and important battle over software patents — one that Europe and the US hardly even have anymore. All that the press talks about right now is “trolls”.

Not Only Vista 10 Crashes a Lot, Any .NET Application Does Too (Updated)

Tuesday 28th of July 2015 03:45:56 PM

‘We had some painful experiences with C and C++, and when Microsoft came out with .NET, we said, “Yes! That is what we want.”‘

Miguel de Icaza

Summary: Microsoft software is quickly becoming synonymous with crashes as any piece of software developed with Microsoft’s tools, not just the underlying platform, crashes chronically

LESS than an hour ago we noted that the corporate media had finally realised that Vista 10 crashes a lot (we knew about it for quite a while because people from Microsoft told us).

Now that very severe .NET bugs are coming to the surface (as only some of the source code is being revealed) a friend of Microsoft reveals that not only .NET is unstable; any application developed with the “just-released .NET 4.6 runtime” is basically breaking, so badly in fact that there are chronic crashes. To quote Microsoft’s friend, Tim Anderson:

A critical bug in the optimizer in the just-released .NET 4.6 runtime could break and crash production applications, we’re warned.

“The methods you call can get different parameter values than you passed in,” says Nick Craver – software developer and system administrator for Stack Exchange, home of the popular programming support site Stack Overflow – in a post today.

This is what we have come to expect. It’s just Microsoft ‘quality’. With bugs like these, many applications could be compiled to include involuntary back doors. Microsoft now hopes to inject code into BSD/GNU compilers. These projects, in turn, should be principled and strict enough reject Microsoft’s shoddy code. When it comes to compilers, there is an increased security risk too, as our recent articles about Visual Studio explained [1, 2, 3, 4, 5], especially this article. You cannot build secure and robust software on a flaky and insecure (often by design) foundation.

“Our products just aren’t engineered for security.”

–Brian Valentine, Microsoft executive

Update (30/7/2015): Microsoft now acknowledges but downplays the issue.

The Government of Bulgaria Sells Out to Microsoft, Again

Tuesday 28th of July 2015 03:21:36 PM

Summary: Despite some promises and reassurances that Bulgaria will consider Free/libre software, the Bulgarian government hands out a lot more of taxpayers’ money to the Mafia

ABOUT six years ago in Bulgaria promises were made regarding Free software. Knowing Microsoft’s political influence in Europe, we didn’t have nor did we keep) high hopes. We already know that Microsoft is blackmailing British politicians. We found out about it earlier this year. Well, maybe Microsoft bribed them too. Microsoft is like the Mafia and the criminal activities continue to this date; nobody in Microsoft is being sent to jail over it because Microsoft is based on the US, where Microsoft has firm control over the government (just like in the Indian government and Asia in general, but not quite to the same degree, including all the entryism, courtesy of Microsoft lobbyists and ‘former’ employees).

Anyway, earlier this month we learned that Bulgaria, where officials are generally not so hard (or expensive) to corrupt, signed another deal with Microsoft. Here are some details:

Bulgarian government will pay EUR 30,000,000.00 yes 30 Millons of EURO to Microsoft for licensee fees for using Windows OS and Office packages for the Bulgarian administration in the next three years.

They pay this amount every three years i.e. about EUR 10M per year are spent on something which have completely free and open source alternative which every one could use free of charge.

Seems not very logical?

Not quite, you forget that this is the Bulgarian government. The government administration officers here have one and only target when they get in power – to cash their efforts.

What they could cash if there is no money to spend on free Linux OS?

[...]

What if these 100 Millions were invested in the Bulgarian education instead to fill the pockets of corrupted administration and Microsoft? We never know as this would never happen here.

As the blogger points out, this is a big deal as this is the equivalent of allowing the “UK government to spend 1830 millions of EURO for MS licensees”. Yes, that’s nearly two billion euros! Microsoft has just robbed Bulgaria and few care to notice and fight back. Maybe we need some whistleblowers here…

“You’re going out with a girl, what you really want to do is have a deep, close and intimate relationship, at least for one night. And, you know, you just can’t let her feel like that, because if you do, it ain’t going to happen, right. So you have to talk long term and white picket fence and all these other wonderful things, or else you’re never going to get what you’re really looking for.”

–James Plamondon, Lead Microsoft Evangelist

Corporate Media Finally Finds Out That Vista 10 Crashes a Lot

Tuesday 28th of July 2015 03:04:55 PM

“LH [Longhorn/Vista] is a pig and I don’t see any solution to this problem. If we are to rise to the challenge of Linux…”

Jim Allchin, Windows manager, not long before Vista’s release

Summary: Stability issues of Vista 10 are belatedly reported to be a major catastrophe, leaving it unusable for many early adopters

The other day we noticed some ‘damage control’ (advice) from a Microsoft advocacy site regarding many crashes in Vista 10. People from Microsoft had told me about this quite a while back. Pogson calls Vista 10 “Another heavily advertised consumer-product is looking more like Vista every day. Forced updates of an incredibly complex piece of software from Day One is a recipe for disaster.”

Right now (earlier today) even the British media wrote about it. Microsoft insiders told me that too, as they know it’s a huge issue, not just based on personal experiences. Why did the press not mention this until a day or two before the release? Does the press not confidentially speak to Microsoft developers? If so, what does this tell us about the press? Mostly PR these days…

Microsoft is in serious trouble because Vista 10 is a dud with back doors and front doors. Even Microsoft’s hardware business, be it phones or consoles like XBox, is becoming more of a failure (Sony is winning the consoles war). According to this other new reports, the forced automatic updates (can install new back doors at any time, without giving the option to opt out) will discourage gamers from exploring Vista 10. Valve, which is headed by a Mirosoft veteran, already abandoned Windows in favour of Debian GNU/Linux, simply because Vista 8 was so terrible.

Vista 10 is a faulty piece of software and also a back door facility (into one’s physical hardware). No responsible business should even consider adopting it, not even as a ‘free’ (gratis) update. Microsoft is already losing billions of dollars and laying off thousands of staff every month, not to mention abandoned/discontinued products. There is no safety in counting on Microsoft.

Links 28/7/2015: Linux 4.2 RC4, New Logos and Bug ‘Branding’ for FUD

Tuesday 28th of July 2015 10:57:26 AM

Contents GNU/Linux Free Software/Open Source
  • Eating our own dog food in open source

    There are no guaranteed solutions, of course, but there are smart things we can do. One of the biggest is “eating our own dog food.” If you’re putting on an open source conference, there’s no reason you can’t use open source software to create the flyers, video promos, banners, T-shirt graphics, and the myriad of other pieces of content to run and promote the show. If you’re working for a company that ostensibly has a commitment to open source, ask if your marketing material is being produced with open source software. If it isn’t, then ask why not. And if you happen to be a creative at one of these companies, why aren’t you?

  • Open Source rising as Cloud Computing, Analytics take off – Study

    Open source software has become a critical driver for innovation at leading companies and public-sector organizations around the world, according to a new research report produced by Oxford Economics in partnership with Wipro Limited.

    The report, The Open Source Era, also shows that open source software is essential to the use of other cutting-edge technologies and that open source methodologies have spread far beyond software development.

  • Check out this open source programming typeface entirely generated by code

    Typefaces designed for programmers aren’t a new idea, but I’m particularly taken with Iosevka, a monospace coding typeface that’s completely generated using Node.js.

    The project – which is inspired by existing coding typefaces Pragmata Pro, M+ and PF DIN Mono – aims to produce characters that “have a narrow shape to be space efficient and compatible to Chinese, Japanese and Korean characters.”

  • Capital One Launches Hygieia Open-Source DevOps Dashboard

    The bank launched its Hygieia DevOps dashboard at the O’Reilly Open Source Convention (OSCON) last week in Portland, Ore. The Capital One Agile development teams all use the technology.

  • New Portal For IBM Open Source Projects

    IBM has just launched developerWorksOpen to enable developers to collaborate using its open sourced technologies. It is poised to provide new tools, in particular with regards to mobile.

  • Open Source IFTTT Collection Introduced

    IFTTT (If This Then That) has this month introduced a new collection of new open source projects as well as updating existing ones.

  • Roadies vs. rock stars: The art of open leadership

    Allen Gunn is a facilitator, open source technologist and Executive Director of Aspiration, where he helps NGOs, activists, and software developers make smarter use of tech for social change. Later this month, Aspiration is partnering with Greenpeace’s Mobilisation Lab to host the first-ever Open Campaigns Camp in Berlin. We recently got together to chat about working open and the leadership required to make it work.

  • How to get designers involved in your software project

    Kravets showed us a report she found. It reviewed 23,493 GitHub projects and found that 75.3% had no gender diversity at all. This brought Kravets to the following quote from Malcolm Gladwell: “The world that we could have is much richer than the world we’ve settled for.”

  • The right way to fail

    In the open source industry, we often hear that we should fail quickly and often, but that doesn’t make failure any less scary. Failure seems like a personal problem, but it’s really a corporate problem. We use the phrase “failure is not an option,” and people are so proud to live by it. The fact of the matter, said Scavarda and Hawthorn, is that this statement should say “failure is not an option; it is a requirement.” The truth is that it’s not a matter of whether we will fail, but when we will fail and what will be our timeline for our recovery.

  • The Dronecode Foundation aims to keep UAVs open

    Unmanned Aerial Vehicles’ (UAV) applications and capabilities are advancing at a phenomenal rate, and the cost of these systems is decreasing at an equally impressive rate largely because of the open source. In many cases, open source projects are outpacing the development of their equivalent closed source systems.

  • phpMyAdmin Bids SourceForge Farewell

    phpMyAdmin, the popular free and open source web based tool for administering MySQL databases, has left the SourceForge building.

    In a blog post on Saturday, the project’s infrastructure coordinator, Michal Čihař, announced that a migration from Sourceforge is all but complete. The few remaining items left on the SourceForge server will be “hopefully handled in upcoming days as well.”

  • Boundless: Commercial open source geospatial software

    Boundless’ global customer base uses the OpenGeo Suite, a complete open source geospatial web services stack, to deploy solutions for web mapping, transportation, telecommunications, open government, and a diverse range of other solutions. The OpenGeo Suite provides a continually updated geo web services platform along with maintenance agreements that include support and training to support the growing functionality of continually enhanced open source geospatial software.

  • Web Browsers
    • Mozilla
      • Firefox 42 Nightly Is Now Built In GTK+3

        Firefox Nightly for Linux has been compiled with GTK+3 and the stable version of Firefox 42 may be the first one to be released with GTK+3.

      • Mozilla Toys with Crowdsourcing Ideas for its Browser and Tools

        Can your ideas make one of the most popular Internet browsers better? Mozilla is considering the possibility. The company is launching a testing initiative next month that will let Firefox users try out possible changes to the browser. The project is called “Idea Town” and basically seeks to crowdsource ideas for browser- and web-centric new concepts.

      • How is Firefox OS Different from Android, iOS, Windows Phone and Ubuntu Touch

        firefox-os-phone-firefox-os-phone-While choosing a new mobile phone to buy, you must consider all different available options. Earlier I’ve written about the differences between Ubuntu Touch, Android OS, and Windows Phone. Today I’m going to add another contender in the list – the Firefox OS – and I’ll discuss how is Firefox OS different from others.

  • SaaS/Big Data
    • Seven Key Milestones in OpenStack’s Five-Year History

      On July 19, 2010, Chris Kemp, at the time NASA’s CTO for IT, went on stage at the OSCON open-source conference to announce OpenStack, a new open-source effort along with Rackspace. Five years later, OpenStack has emerged as one of the leading cloud platforms governments and big-name companies around the world use. Best Buy and Walmart are among the major retailers that use OpenStack while major carriers, such as Comcast and AT&T, are also users and contributors. One of the biggest drivers of OpenStack’s growth in the last five years was the formation of the OpenStack Foundation, a vendor-neutral, multi-stakeholder effort to help build and promote the OpenStack platform. While OpenStack in 2010 was made up of two companies, the OpenStack Foundation in 2015 numbers well over 100 members. Another key driver of OpenStack’s growth is continued technical innovation. In 2010, the OpenStack Platform started with just two projects: the Nova Compute Project and the Swift Storage Project. Over the years, multiple additional projects were added, including Glance image, Horizon dashboard, Neutron network and Keystone identity. Here’s a look at key milestones in OpenStack’s five-year history.

    • A new center for innovation, celebrating five years, and more OpenStack news
    • Q&A: Pepperdata’s Chad Carson Discusses Getting Much More Out of Hadoop

      In the data analytics and Hadoop arena, the folks at Pepperdata have an interesting story to tell. Pepperdata’s cofounders ran the web search engineering team at Yahoo during the development of the first production use of Hadoop and created Pepperdata with the mission of providing a simple way of prioritizing Hadoop jobs to give resources to the ones that need them most, while ensuring that a company adheres to its SLAs.

  • Databases
    • The Companies That Support Linux: MariaDB

      MariaDB Corporation is a provider of open source database solutions for SaaS, cloud and on-premise applications that require high availability, scalability, and performance. Built by the founder and core engineering team behind MySQL, MariaDB has more than 2 million users globally and over 500 customers in more than 45 countries — most of whom are running Linux.

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice
  • BSD
    • FreeBSD Making Progress With Their Linux Binary Emulation & More
    • Not Learning Unix is a Mistake

      It has occurred to me that not learning Unix is a grave mistake. My relatively early exposure to Unix was important. I may not have appreciated Linux as much or even at all if I hadn’t had that ability to experiment at home with Xenix. Learning about Unix develops new mental muscles like playing a musical instrument or learning a new language. But learning these new processes becomes more difficult with age. To me the exact technical details are less important. It does not really matter if you are a Linux user or if you use one of the BSDs or even something more exotic like Plan 9. The important thing is you can learn new concepts from what I will broadly refer to as the Unix/Internet Community.

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC
    • cps soup

      In the olden days, Guile had no compiler, just an interpreter written in C. Around 8 years ago now, we ported Guile to compile to bytecode. That bytecode is what is currently deployed as Guile 2.0. For many reasons we wanted to upgrade our compiler and virtual machine for Guile 2.2, and the result of that was a new continuation-passing-style compiler for Guile. Check that link for all the backstory.

  • Project Releases
  • Public Services/Government
    • UK health service nurtures open source communities

      The UK’s National Health Service (NHS) is nurturing a growing number of communities of software developers working on open source solutions. NHS’ Code4Health team is now supporting 17 communities that bring together health care providers, developers and supporters.

  • Programming
    • Mmm, what’s that smell, Google+? Yes it’s death: Google unhooks ‘social network’ from YouTube

      Google is no longer forcing Google+ on the world: people will be able to log into YouTube, and other Googley services, without having to create mandatory Google+ profiles.

      From now on, only those who deliberately sign up for Google+ will create profiles on the ghost town of a social network. Previously, Google harassed users of YouTube, Gmail and so on, to convert their accounts into Google+ accounts, a move obviously designed to boost G+’s sad numbers. It didn’t go down very well at all – a lot of folks hated it.

    • Google to block access to unofficial autocomplete API

      Google has decided the autocomplete API it informally offers will no longer be available for “unauthorised” users as of August 10th.

Leftovers
  • ‘Sepp Blatter deserves a Nobel Prize for Fifa leadership,’ says Vladimir Putin

    Sepp Blatter deserves a Nobel Prize for his leadership of Fifa, according to Vladimir Putin.

  • Security
    • Unhinged Linux backdoor still poses a nuisance, if not a threat

      If successfully planted, the malware tries to register itself in the system as a daemon (system service). Thereafter it uses LZO compression and the Blowfish encryption algorithm to chat to command and control servers. Every packet contains a checksum, so that the recipient could verify data integrity.

    • Researchers analyze faulty new Linux backdoor
    • Seven things security experts do to keep safe online

      Cybersecurity experts aren’t like you or I, and now we have the evidence to prove it. Researchers at Google interviewed more than 200 experts to find out what security practices they actually carry out online, and then spoke to almost 300 non-experts to find out how they differ.

    • Why Chrysler’s car hack ‘fix’ is staggeringly stupid

      More than a million Chrysler vehicles, including Jeeps, Ram pickups, and Dodge vehicles, are vulnerable to a major vulnerability that could drive them — literally — off the road.

      Last week, the company recalled 1.4 million vehicles at risk of a remote hijack vulnerability, which, as detailed by Wired, can result in a hacker remotely operating the brakes, interfering with the driver’s visibility by switching on the windshield wipers, and even shutting off the engine.

    • The Elderly & the Scam Masters

      Jane answered the phone and a pleasant young man identified himself as an internet technician with Microsoft. He told her they’d received a report that something was extremely wrong with their computers and he was calling to help.

      [...]

      From here it gets crazy. There was a $200 payment made to this “tech expert” and then he calls back and says that payment wasn’t necessary. In fact, an error was made and a draft of $2,000 had been made and not $200. He needed to take his $1,800 back. Of course, the “bank statement” Jane looked at did indeed show $2,000 instead of $200, so Jane was being asked to refund the $1,800.

    • We Can Put An End To Identity Theft
    • Darkode Hacking Forum Taken Down by FBI and Europol

      In a joint operation that included law enforcement agencies from 20 countries, the infamous Darkode hacking forum has been taken down.

  • Defence/Police/Secrecy/Aggression
    • The last thing Labour needs is a leader like Jeremy Corbyn who people want to vote for

      At last sensible Labour politicians are injecting some maturity into the leadership debate. To start with, Tony Blair’s aide John McTernan called anyone who nominated Jeremy Corbyn a “moron”, which is such a refreshing change from the divisive and childish approach of the Left.

    • A Terrorism Case in Britain Ends in Acquittal, but No One Can Say Why

      Ian Cobain, a reporter with The Guardian, is one of very few people who know why a student arrested by armed British police officers in 2013 was finally acquitted this year of terrorism charges.

      Problem is, he cannot report what he knows. He was allowed to observe much of the trial, but only under strict conditions intended to keep classified material secret. His notebooks are being held by Britain’s domestic intelligence agency. And if he writes — or even talks — about the reason that the student, Erol Incedal, 27, was acquitted, Mr. Cobain faces prosecution and possibly jail.

    • WikiLeaks: Saudi Arabia eyes Arabian Sea port

      According to a document recently published on WikiLeaks, authorities in Saudi Arabia are looking for a new access point on the Arabian Sea. This implies either a port in the Sultanate of Oman or in Yemen.

    • Daesh, The Revolutionary Neoliberal Party and the British Falsehood Corporation

      Lord Hall, the director general of the BBC, is to be questioned by MPs over his refusal to refer to Islamic State using the term ‘Daesh’ (an Arabic abbreviation that means ‘one who crushes something underfoot’ and ‘one who sows discord’) because it is pejorative and therefore biased. Controversial British prime minister David Cameron had sent a request to the BBC supported in a letter signed by 120 MPs from across the spectrum – Labour, Tory and SNP.

    • ‘Swiftboating’ J Street to Smear Iran Deal as ‘Anti-Israel’

      No explanation was given of what these goals are, nor was any evidence given that “barely any Israeli” agrees with these goals.

      While New York Times editors didn’t make Shmuel Rosner specify what the alleged goals of the avowedly pro-Israel peace group J Street are that “barely any Israeli” agrees with, context suggests the most obvious explanation: J Street has backed the Obama administration’s diplomacy with Iran and is backing the Iran nuclear deal, and that’s why opponents of the Iran nuclear deal are attacking J Street and saying that J Street’s claim to be “pro-Israel” is dubious.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife
  • Finance
    • Global Derivatives: $1.5 Quadrillion Time Bomb

      Along with credit default swaps and other exotic instruments, the total notional derivatives value is about $1.5 quadrillion – about 20% more than in 2008, beyond what anyone can conceive, let alone control if unexpected turmoil strikes.

      The late Bob Chapman predicted it. So does Paul Craig Roberts. It could “destroy Western civilization,” he believes. Financial deregulation turned Wall Street into a casino with no rules except unrestrained making money. Catastrophic failure awaits. It’s just a matter of time.

      Ellen Brown calls the “derivatives casino…a last-ditch attempt to prop up a private pyramid scheme” – slowly crumbling under its own weight.

      For years, Warren Buffett called derivatives “financial time bombs” – for economies and ordinary people.

    • Going Mainstream

      I pointed out that Nicola Sturgeon’s appearance in the TV leadership debates was the first major airing of an anti-Trident argument on broadcast media in England for a decade. Actually hearing anti-austerity arguments led to a huge surge in support for the SNP in England as well as Scotland.

    • UK economy accelerates with growth of 0.7%
    • Prostitution and drug dealing add £10billion to the economy under bizarre rules which mean crime boom is good news for Osborne

      Prostitution and drug dealing provide a £10billion boost to the economy, new research revealed today.

      Bizarre new European rules mean that for the first time illegal activities must be included in the official estimates of the size of the economy.

      It means a booming sex trade or an expansion in cannabis factories will provide a boost to George Osborne’s economic outlook.

  • PR/AstroTurf/Lobbying
    • A Crucial Realization About Journalism is Learned by Being its Subject

      Journalistic objectivity is a sham, a horribly misleading and self-flattering conceit.

    • Aaronovitch Blusters to a Well of Silence

      But something else struck me about the twitter record. Aaronovitch’ twitter account claims to have 78,000 followers. Yet of the 78,000 people who allegedly received his tweet about my insanity, only 1 retweeted and 2 favourited. That is an astonishingly low proportion – 1 in 26,000 reacted. To give context, Mark Doran has only 582 followers and yet had more retweets and favourites for his riposte. 1 in 146 to be precise, a 200 times greater response rate.

      Please keep reading, I promise you this gets a great deal less boring.

      Eighteen months ago I wrote an article about Aaronovitch’s confession that he solicits fake reviews of his books to boost their score on Amazon. In response a reader emailed me with an analysis of Aaronovitch’s twitter followers. He argued with the aid of graphs that the way they accrued indicated that they were not arising naturally, but being purchased in blocks. He claimed this was common practice in the Murdoch organisation to promote their hacks through false apparent popularity.

    • ‘There Is Effectively No Limit on Money in Politics’ – CounterSpin interview with Brendan Fischer on Wisconsin campaign corruption

      Walker was accused of coordinating with outside groups, namely Wisconsin Club for Growth and Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce. And these are groups that, after the US Supreme Court’s ruling in Citizens United, can accept unlimited secret donations, and Walker’s campaign is still bound by campaign finance limits that the US Supreme Court has consistently upheld.

  • Privacy
    • NSA has paid Utah $1 million to police entrance on Redwood Road

      From the start of 2014 through March of this year, the NSA has paid the state $1,033,850 to patrol the perimeter of the data center, according to records provided by UHP.

    • Judges slam UK’s FBI over farcical Wire-style mission: National Crime Agency comes under fire for bugging plot ‘failures’

      Britain’s equivalent of the FBI has been condemned by judges after a sophisticated bugging operation against alleged money-launderers descended into farce and a series of ‘grave failures’.

      The National Crime Agency deployed 100 officers in 30 cars to seize the bosses of a company in West London under investigation.

      While the suspects were being interviewed at a police station, NCA chiefs hid listening devices in their offices.

    • Exclusive: Feds Regularly Monitored Black Lives Matter Since Ferguson

      The Department of Homeland Security has been monitoring the Black Lives Matter movement since anti-police protests erupted in Ferguson, Missouri last summer, according to hundreds of documents obtained by The Intercept through a Freedom of Information Act request.

    • Researchers claim they’ve developed a better, faster Tor

      Tor, the world’s largest and most well-known “onion router” network, offers a degree of anonymity that has made it a popular tool of journalists, dissidents, and everyday Internet users who are trying to avoid government or corporate censorship (as well as Internet drug lords and child pornographers). But one thing that it doesn’t offer is speed—its complex encrypted “circuits” bring Web browsing and other tasks to a crawl. That means that users seeking to move larger amounts of data have had to rely on virtual private networks—which while they are anonymous, are much less protected than Tor (since VPN providers—and anyone who has access to their logs—can see who users are).

  • Civil Rights
    • ISIS Sting…or FBI Catfishing?

      Alex Ciccolo was arrested after weeks of talking to an FBI agent he thought would sell him weapons for a terror attack—and who likely knew he was mentally ill.

    • FBI Overreach? Alexander Ciccolo And The Line Between Imagined And Actual Threat

      The ever-vigilant Federal Bureau of Investigation has once again reminded us of the constant threat of domestic terrorism plots — by inventing one. But the most recent story has a more tragic twist than many other FBI “national security” capers, since it involves as well a betrayal of family values.

    • Podcast: Recent FBI Sting, White Terrorism Threat, Transgender Activist Interrupts Obama & Marriage Equality

      …the threat of white terrorism, which the US government largely ignores; a recent elaborate FBI sting against a poor black felon that shows where the agency is putting its resources; and how the FBI monitored live streams of Ferguson protests.

    • Wesley Clark Calls for Internment Camps for “Radicalized” Americans

      Retired general and former Democratic presidential candidate Wesley Clark on Friday called for World War II-style internment camps to be revived for “disloyal Americans.” In an interview with MSNBC’s Thomas Roberts in the wake of the mass shooting in Chatanooga, Tennessee, Clark said that during World War II, “if someone supported Nazi Germany at the expense of the United States, we didn’t say that was freedom of speech, we put him in a camp, they were prisoners of war.”

    • Pat Buchanan Brings His Xenophobia To Meet The Press

      Former MSNBC employee Pat Buchanan used an appearance on NBC’s Meet the Press to frame immigration as a “massive invasion” and “conquest of the West” by “third-world … border jumpers.” During the appearance, host Chuck Todd did not mention Buchanan’s past history of racist comments, or that NBC’s cable channel MSNBC parted ways with Buchanan in 2012.

    • The CIA Paid This Contractor $40 Million to Review Torture Documents

      But VICE News has exclusively obtained more than 100 pages of contracting documents [pdf below] that show it was CIA officials who insisted on outsourcing work related to the Senate’s review — and that it was the CIA that paid more than $40 million to one of its longtime contractors for administrative support and other tasks related to the report. Those tasks included compiling, reviewing, redacting, and posting to a server the more than 6 million pages of highly classified CIA cables and other documents Senate Intelligence Committee staffers pored through during the course of their probe.

    • Torture Is Bad. So Psychologists Helped the US Redefine It

      The Hoffman report (so named because the principal investigator is a lawyer named David Hoffman) was commissioned by the American Psychological Association to examine a 2005 APA publication called the Psychology Ethics in National Security document (PENS). This document, voted into policy by APA leadership at the time, outlined the conditions in which a psychologist could ethically work alongside military and intelligence interrogators. Critics from within and without the APA had—since the document’s inception—suspected foul play. The Hoffman report lays those accusations bare, by showing that the APA’s head of ethics had been directly working with the military to create a back-scratching policy.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

Patents Roundup: Technicolor, Alice, Voip-Pal, Fitbit, Marijuana Patents, and JDate

Monday 27th of July 2015 09:51:52 AM

Summary: A look at some of last week’s patent news, with imperative responses that criticise corporate exploitation of patents for protectionism (excluding and/or driving away the competition using legal threats)

AFTER many years of bitterness (over loss of focus in the media) we may finally write more about patents and will occasionally return to our old “Patents Roundup” series. The goal is to debate not “trolls” but the real issues with the patent system — issues that are much broader than patent trolls.

Technicolor

“​Cisco sheds its set-top box business to Technicolor for $600m,” according to this new article. “Additionally,” wrote the author, “the pair have signed a long-term patent cross-licensing agreement though neither company has said which patents are involved.”

This is what’s known as a “thicket” and it helps remove competition from the market unless it is very well funded. By buying this business (Technicolor will have it all) and having just got these patents, Technicolor can now exercise yet more control, using patents, over its competition.

Alice/Section 101

Patent lawyers who persistently and openly promote software patents are clearly nervous about Alice/Section 101 because it kills software patents almost all the time (in high-profile cases). Watch this latest ‘damage control’ from IP Watchdog. It’s quite funny to watch actually.

After the ruling in the Alice case, what kind of software developer still tries to patent software? The billionaires’ fan press, Forbes, presents this story titled “The Nuts And Bolts Of Scaling A Company”. In it there’s propaganda: “Of course, now that the software is developed, she has filed patents.”

Yes. “Of course”. That’s what everyone should do, based on billionaires’ media. She decided to waste time and money because lawyers bamboozled her. Maybe the likes of Forbes (personification of people like Donald Trump) also bamboozled her. See [1] below. The Rupert Murdoch-owned WSJ is now comparing “Government-Enforced Monopolies” (patents) to ‘Free Market’. These super-rich people have no sense of shame, have they? To them, class war (looting by the oligarchs/plutocrats) is ‘Free Market’.

Anyone who still tries to patent software in the US clearly paid no attention to Alice and the subsequent rulings. Patent valuation for such patents sank, as even proponents of software patents (patent lawyers) care to admit. The only people to profit from such nonsense are lawyers.

Voip-Pal Patenting VOIP

According to this news, Voip-Pal.com Inc. is now busy patenting software, even where software is not patentable. “They controlled nodes in Canada, London and Denmark,” says the article, “used to prove the validity of their concept which was later patented.”

Why patent it? What’s the point? Is it even legal to patent software where they operate?

Fitbit

We recently wrote about Fitbit coming under a barrage of lawsuits. Well, Fitbit itself is hoarding a growing number of so-called ‘wearable’ patents. An article about this, which uses the “intellectual property rights” propaganda term in the headline, was published the other day. “But not everything “clever” can be patented,” it noted. Well it can, in the US, even when it’s not clever. Ask Sun’s engineers. They openly mocked the system for accepting just about every patent application and granting patents for about 92% of them, according to more recent statistics.

Another new article about Fitbit says: “According to Park, the secret to its success has been the combination of hardware and software, as well as distribution” (not patents).

If that is the case, then how come Fitbit continues to hoard patents? It arguably needs these for defence from sharks and aggressors such as Jawbone. In a perfect world, no such patents would be granted in the first place.

Scott Walker and Patent Lies

Scott Walker is a horrible — if not corrupt — politician. He gained notoriety in recent years (we have mentioned him almost a hundred times in our daily links) and this new article about him says:

Green Box said it held seven patents, but the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office lists no patents granted or assigned to Van Den Heuvel or the company.

As is often the case when it comes to Scott Walker, lies are the ‘norm’.

Marijuana Patents

Medical-marijuana patents may soon be granted because, according to this report, a company “filed two provisional U.S. patent applications for cannabis extracts” (so basically patents on banned drugs).

Nasty JDate

JDate, based on [2-5], is now misusing software patents to attack the competition, hoping to drive it out of business. Remind us again how software patents supposedly promote innovation? There is also some bizarre trademark bullying, with JDate claiming ownership of the letter “J” (which stands for Jewish in this case). See the articles below for the gory details.

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. At Wall Street Journal, Government-Enforced Monopolies = ‘Free Market’

    Those folks at the Wall Street Journal are really turning reality on its head. Today it ran a column by Robert Ingram, a former CEO of Glaxo Wellcome, complaining about efforts to pass “transparency” legislation in Massachusetts, New York and a number of other states.

    This legislation would require drug companies to report their profits on certain expensive drugs, as well as government funding that contributed to their development.

    [...]

    This would eliminate all the distortions associated with patent monopolies, such as patent-protected prices that can be more than 100 times as much as the free-market price. This would eliminate all the ethical dilemmas about whether the government or private insurers should pay for expensive drugs like Sovaldi, since the drugs would be cheap. It would also eliminate the incentive to mislead doctors and the public about the safety and effectiveness of drugs in order to benefit from monopoly profits.

  2. JDate Is Suing JSwipe Over The Letter ‘J’, Here’s What My Bubbie Would Have Said

    Today, Forbes unearthed a lawsuit from late last year that Jewish dating site JDate’s parent company filed against an app called JSwipe (also aimed at Jewish folk). It’s over the use of the letter J. The case is set to pick up again next month.

  3. Jdate Sues Competitor Jewish Dating App For Using The Letter “J”

    Jdate, the popular dating service responsible for more Jewish hookups than a bottle of Manischewitz, is playing hardball in the dog-eat-dog world of nice Jewish match-making.

    Jdate’s parent company, Spark Networks, discreetly filed a lawsuit late last year against Jswipe, the ‘Tinder for Jews’ dating app, claiming intellectual property over the letter “J” within the Jewish dating scene (the company refers to the branding as the “J-family”).

  4. Members Of The ‘Tribe’ Swipe For A Shidduch

    Over the sounds of the packed crowd at the lower level of Noho hotspot “Acme,” on Tuesday evening, one phrase could consistently be heard: “I work in real estate.”

  5. Jdate Sues Competitor Jewish Dating App For Using The Letter “J”

    Additionally, Jdate claims it owns the patent on software that “confidentially determines matches and notifies users of mutual matches in feelings and interests.” Jswipe, like Tinder, notifies users when their romantic interest ‘swipes right’ on their picture, violating Jdate’s patent.

Corporate Lobbyists Including Koch-Connected Front Groups Attack Real and Perceived Patent Reform in the United States

Monday 27th of July 2015 08:59:57 AM

Summary: Looking at some of the latest propaganda for and against a bill which is already too watered-down to actually fix the US patent system

TECHRIGHTS has spent a lot of time explaining why the US patent system is dysfunctional beyond repair (Europe’s system, by contrast, can still be salvaged) and why so-called ‘reform’ in a political atmosphere that is dominated by large corporations is just a mirage [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9]. The so-called Innovation Act or PATENT Act have already been derailed by lobbyists, employed by large corporations and very rich people who want protectionism in the form of patents (monopoly or “market exclusivity”, to use a euphemism).

All that ‘reforms’ speak about these days are “trolls”, even though patent trolls are far from the only issue. They are arguably just a symptom of a broken system and fixing a problem by redefining that problem won’t help solve the real problem. Joe Mullin, who has been focusing on patent trolls for nearly a decade, continues to focus on patent trolls and says that a “patent was invented [patents are being invented?] by Warren Sandvick, president of a Texas company called HasSex, which has an extremely trollish website and licensed the patent several times. Filed in 1998, and granted in 2002, the patent lays broad claim to a remotely controlled sexual “stimulation system,” one version of which involved a “second user interface” located remotely from the first.”

“This is clearly lobbying that exploits women to mask corporations and billionaires, but then again, we we noted many times before, that’s what The Hill is for.”The article focuses on sex (sex sells!) and trolls rather than matters pertaining to patent scope. Another site which obsesses over patent trolls because it is funded by large corporations including Microsoft weighs in, calling for the bogus ‘reform’ (dealing only with trolls) to go ahead. In it, Matt Levy responds to a nonsensical piece we mentioned the other day, from lobbyists’ favourite media (The Hill). Bill Watson took note of the propaganda from The Hill, paraphrasing as: “Patent reform will enable sneaky “foreign entities” to harm “the American family unit”” [the exact headline is “New patent bill would undermine economic growth, hurt families” and it does refer to “foreign entities” at the end].

Who wrote the article? By the description of oneself, “Nance is CEO and president of Concerned Women for America (CWA), the nation’s largest public policy women’s organization.”

Wait, we already know this. Like several other such groups, it is a front for lobbyists, exploiting women’s rights for corporate agenda. We covered such examples almost a decade ago. It’s not a new trick.

CMD wrote about this front group last year. Quoting the relevant parts: “This includes right-wing religious groups that oppose gay marriage and abortion rights, like Concerned Women for America, which has received at least $11.4 million from the Koch network since 2010, and Focus on the Family spinoff Citizen Link, which has received at least $10 million, including at least $885,000 this election cycle.”

There is also “Concerned Women for American Legislative Action Committee,” with a budget of $8,150,000, according to this “New List of the Dark Money Shell Game Groups Connected to the Kochs”.

So who opposes patent reform in this case? CMD’s SourceWatch has some good, well-organised background about “Concerned Women for America” and “Concerned Women for America Legislative Action Committee”. This is clearly lobbying that exploits women to mask corporations and billionaires, but then again, we we noted many times before, that’s what The Hill is for. That’s coming from the same billionaires who use sockpuppets to airbrush Wikipedia.

Patents in the Android World Further Complicate Freedom in This Linux-Powered Platform

Monday 27th of July 2015 08:29:48 AM

Large companies love Android but also love patents

Summary: A survey of last week’s news with special focus on Google and Android, which are trying to coexist and thrive in a world full of patent maximalists

ONCE upon a time there was a giant called Xerox that supposedly changed the world by packaging together components that can help replicate documents on a piece of paper. “Xerox” became a household name (or ‘officehold’ name), much like Hoover or Google, although neither was the first to do what it was doing (e.g. search), they just did something very well, perhaps much better than the rest of their industry, at the time they became synonymous with the function at least. Xerox leaned on patents for protectionism, causing all sorts of well-documented issues (not to be covered today) and IP Troll Tracker tells us that Xerox created an entity or a proxy do do its patent aggression. “Xerox is doing just that,” wrote Steph, “preventing its financial coffers from being depleted by abusing the patent system.”

Blackberry, which seems to be transitioning into an(other) Android OEM, just bought a firm, based on financial news sites. “The company’s software sales rose year-over-year,” says one source, “but some analysts were disappointed with the increase because it also included revenue from the licensing of technology patents.”

So Blackberry is already becoming parasitic with its patents, much as we feared a couple of years ago [1, 2] and a year ago [1, 2], alleging that Blackberry was becoming somewhat of a troll or feeder of so-called ‘patent assertion’ entities. What does Google (the Android steward) say about this now that it works with Blackberry on a more secure Android variant? After all, Free software such as Android is inherently incompatible with patents.

“What does “free patents” even mean? It’s a meaningless term.”As we pointed out the other day, some famous Android backers now turn to patents as well. An article by Glyn Moody has warned that “Chinese Smartphone Leader Xiaomi Adds Special New Feature In Order To Enter US Market — A Patent Hoard”. To quote Moody: “The smartphone sector is undergoing an upheaval at the moment, as Chinese manufacturers move up the global market share rankings. Already, the third, fourth and fifth places are occupied by Chinese companies: Huawei, Lenovo and Xiaomi. But it’s the last of these that has emerged as the real star. Although Xiaomi was only founded in 2010, in 2014, the company sold 61 million phones, and hopes to sell 100 million in 2015. Much of that growth will come from outside China: Xiaomi has already started selling its products across Southeast Asia, especially in India, as well as in Mexico, Turkey, Russia and Brazil.”

Google does not seem to mind this and just like Tesla or Panasonic, Google now uses its growing pile of patents for publicity stunts. Google can’t fight back against trolls as they have no products, but it sure likes to pretend to be a champion against trolls.

“Google wasting resources to fight patent troll,” wrote the President of the FFII about this, for it “won’t work anyway” (he linked to this article about “Troll Deterrent” and “​Google holds patent giveaway for startups to ward off trolls”).

We have found nearly a hundred articles about this (effectively serving to amplify Google PR), including [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13]. Nobody really challenges Google’s claims. It’s a PR charade. There are headlines like “Google Offers Free Patents To Halt The Trolls”. What does “free patents” even mean? It’s a meaningless term. It’s something we might expect lawyers to say because they compare ideas to “property” and implementation to “rights” (among other nonsensical metaphors).

One maker of many Android-running boards, Qualcomm, is now in trouble in Europe (we covered this last week) because of patent aggression that goes a long way back, elevating prices and marginalising competition. One writer from IDG calls the effort to split Qualcomm “patently absurd”. “The proposed breakup of Qualcomm by activist investment firm Jana Partners,” he wrote, “as reported by the Wall Street Journal this week, would be a blunder of biblical proportions. The equivalent of Delilah cutting off Samson’s hair while he slept, dividing Qualcomm into separately traded semiconductor and technology licensing businesses would produce two companies of lesser value than the former whole.”

The question is, will that reduce Qualcomm’s ability to exploit patents in a predatory fashion? Qualcomm has become very notorious for that (globally, not just in Europe). We’re not concerned about the “value [of] the former whole”, just the fairness of the competition and one’s ability to enter the market. It’s very relevant to Linux and Free software because whether people know this or not, many devices running Linux (more so than Windows) use stuff from Qualcomm and pay patent tax to Qualcomm even if they avoid Qualcomm.

There is some other patent news pertaining to Android, such as Google’s dumb CCTV Glasses (the Android-powered ‘Google Glass’). We are reminder of this effort and the ambition to hoard people’s CCTV stream, to be retained/stored on the server for searching, based on a new patent [1, 2. Google is treating human lives as an inventory or a resource, which raises all sorts of ethical questions. Apple is hardly better though because it wants to collect people’s fingerprints based on a new patent. Apple’s advocacy sites celebrate other dumb patents from Apple. Android is often being attacked by Apple using patents, so this is definitely relevant.

In summary, Android exists in a hostile environment. Despite that, Android has become the most dominant platform in the world (in terms of growth, sale numbers and so on), so we need to watch out for patent threats. There will be more of them in years to come and Microsoft is blackmailing Android supporters using patents, still.

The ‘Unitary’ Patent Trojan Horse Rammed Down the Throat of Europe

Sunday 26th of July 2015 07:54:46 PM

Summary: Under the guise of ‘unification’ or ‘unity’, existing patent systems are being abandoned and more power gets passed to corrupt EPO officials

THE UPC, promoted by the EPO, still threatens to put Europe under an unprecedented patents regime that invites patent trolls and other nasties, including software patents. The UPC is not going away, it is spreading across Europe these days. Some patent lawyers’ assessment says it might start as early as next year, even before a British referendum (or any other public consultation in member states) takes place, showing that the will of corporations supersedes the public’s interests.

“For the United Kingdom there is the uncertainty of the ‘in-out’ referendum scheduled for 2017,” explains this one site, as it “will decide on the UK’s membership to the EU. Interestingly, if the UK leaves the EU after ratifying the Agreement on a unified patent court, there seems to be little danger to the unitary patent. (Well, no other danger than suffering the loss of a major EU economy, that is.) Fortunately, the ratification process in the UK should be finalized in 2016.”

An article by Pieter Callens (mentioned the other day) recently said that the “UK has formally indicated that its ratification process would be completed in spring 2016″ (less than a year from now).

“Rules are being relaxed to maximise protectionism for monopolies, just like in the domain of copyrights, even if the public is collectively harmed by these.”As recently as last month a paper was published that’s titled “A Unitary Patent for a (Dis)United Europe: The Long Shadow of History”. To quote the abstract: “The international patent system is undergoing a profound transformation towards ever greater global integration of institutions and harmonization of standards. The movement for unification of the European patent system is part of this wider global trend, but the unification goal has proved difficult to realize in Europe notwithstanding persistent efforts dating back to the end of WWII. This paper draws on confidential archived documents to retrace the early origins and evolution of the European unification movement to examine what can be learnt from history. In line with recent historiographies of the synergies and rivalries between international organizations and the European community, the paper reveals three phases in the evolution of norms and institutions in the unification movement in Europe. In the first phase, the European unification project is driven by the Council of Europe as part of an abstract ideal of European integration and is characterized by a ‘co-existence’ model based on common denominators in national laws. In the second phase, the harmonization agenda is taken over by the European Community and its rationale morphed into the community’s goal of (dis)integration of national patent laws and their replacement by a uniform and autonomous patent community system as a strategic tool for the realization of the common market. But the EC’s initiative is frustrated and results instead in partial harmonization with the adoption of the European Patent Convention in 1973 and the creation of the European Patent Organization. This opens a third phase and problematic for the European community which is having to integrate a pivotal external institution into a unified legal architecture to serve the community’s goals. The last part of the paper illustrates with a case study how the shadow of the past has left its imprint in the disjointed and overly complex legal architecture of the latest patent unification initiative in the form of the EU ‘patent package’ which was given the green light by the Grand Chamber of the Court of Justice of the European Union on 5th May 2015 and whose effect, it is argued, is to enlarge the role of the EPO whilst leaving the EPO outside the legal reach of the European Union.”

Another paper, titled “The Unitary Patent: New Rules for Internal Market Lawmaking?”, was also published a month ago. It states the following: “The EU’s patent plans look back on a long history of ups and downs. The ECJ has now dealt with different aspects of those plans, including the latest model that is now poised to enter into force, at three different occasions. That jurisprudence shifts from strict to relaxed, which invites speculation as to the reasons for that shift. More importantly however, the recently relaxed approach may have unforeseen and unwanted repercussions on integration dynamics in general: The novel legislative method of the UP Regulation might be a politically attractive, but legally dangerous tool for pushing flexibility in internal market integration far beyond the scope, possibilities and intention of territorial differentiation hitherto known under the classic mechanism of enhanced cooperation. In fact, the novel method complements territorial flexibility by allowing for flexibility in substantive law. This offers new possibilities, but also comes at higher costs for the unity, stability and coherence of EU integration and EU law.”

We have written about this subject for over half a decade and we have repeatedly explained why the notion of unification, harmonisation etc. (all are cheap euphemisms) is just a Trojan horse for perturbing existing patent systems in favour of large enterprises with many lobbyists. They hope to overthrow pertinent patent offices in member states in order to form a new system under the notorious and corrupt management which we know resides at the EPO. Rules are being relaxed to maximise protectionism for monopolies, just like in the domain of copyrights, even if the public is collectively harmed by these.

HEVC Cartel is Not News, Only the Names of Backers and the Costs Are New

Sunday 26th of July 2015 07:19:52 PM

Summary: A few remarks on and a roundup of recent articles about HEVC, which we first wrote about in spring

ABOUT a week ago, well before the FOSS community began talking about it (apparently a hot topic over the weekend), we had spotted the latest news about HEVC, a cartel that we first heard about several months ago, well before it had a widely-recognised (for notoriety) name and a now-notorious press release (the respective Wikipedia page goes well over 2 years back, there are semi-official Web sites etc. so it’s not exactly news). Some people in the FOSS/multimedia world knew what was happening, but the details were rather vague at the time. We wrote about this back in April when Monty (the Ogg guy) mentioned it by name and noted the similarities to MPEG-LA. High Efficiency Video Coding (HEVC) had been turning into a patent parasite with its own ‘official’ troll. New patent cartels such as HEVC basically pile up yet more fees (like royalty stacking) and some of the earlier reports said that this one cartel alone (irrespective of the rest) wants “0.5% Of Every Content Owner/Distributor’s Gross Revenue For Higher Quality Video”” [1, 2]. To quote some background: “In March, a new group named HEVC Advance announced the formation of a new patent pool [see: New HEVC Patent Pool Launches Creating Confusion & Uncertainly In The Market] with the goal of compiling over 500 patents pertaining to HEVC technology. The pool of patent holders, which is “expected” to include GE, Technicolor, Dolby, Philips, and Mitsubishi Electric has just announced their royalty rates and are going directly after content owners and CE manufacturers. HEVC Advance wants 0.5% of content owners attributable gross revenue for each HEVC Video type. To put in perspective how unjust and unfair their licensing terms are, they want 0.5% of Netflix, Apple, Facebook, Amazon and every other content owner/distributor’s revenue, as it pertains to HEVC usage. Considering that most content owners and distributors plan to convert all of their videos over time to use the new High Efficiency Video Coding compression standard, companies like Facebook, Netflix and others would have to pay over $100M a year in licensing payments. The licensing terms apply to all content services that get revenue from advertising, subscription and PPV – which pretty much equals every content owner, OTT provider, broadcaster, sports league, satellite broadcaster and cable provider you can think of.”

“A New H.265 Patent Pool Is Causing Concerns” was the headline from Phoronix (a couple of days ago). A lot of people link to that right now. Actually, it’s not news. The site said that “[t]his H.265 patent pool is expected to be backed by GE, Dolby, Philips, and other names. The group, HEVC Advance, is interested in 0.5% of gross revenue from content owners for each HEVC video type. Some details on this patent pool can be found via the Streaming Media Blog. ”

Well, software patents continue to haunt multimedia and many articles about this [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6] (it was big new last week) did too little — if anything — to emphasise the horrible impact this can have on Free software.

According to the press release, this entity is “an independent licensing administrator”. Cartel is what it really is. Even Microsoft Peter, promoter of other such patent cartels (like the ones Microsoft is in), said that this one “threatens to derail 4K HEVC video streaming”.

The bottom line is that this is hardly news. It goes back to spring and well beforehand (depending on whether one talks about the patents or the formats/methods), but now we know more about the monetary demands. HEVC workarounds may be needed, just like WebM and Ogg (as Free software substitutes by which to bypass the MPEG cartel). We are likely to hear a lot more about HEVC in years to come.

IRC Proceedings: July 12th, 2015 – July 25th, 2015

Sunday 26th of July 2015 05:48:42 PM

IRC Proceedings: July 12th, 2015 – July 18th, 2015

#techrights log

#boycottnovell log

#boycottnovell-social log

#techbytes log

IRC Proceedings: July 19th, 2015 – July 25th, 2015

#techrights log

#boycottnovell log

#boycottnovell-social log

#techbytes log

Enter the IRC channels now

Links 26/7/2015: Purism Librem and Freedom, Akademy Updates

Sunday 26th of July 2015 04:28:14 PM

Contents GNU/Linux Free Software/Open Source
  • Migrating phpMyAdmin from SourceForge.net

    Thanks to SourceForge.net, it has been great home for us, but now we have better places to live.

  • CMS
    • PiwigoPress release 2.30

      I just pushed a new release of PiwigoPress (main page, WordPress plugin dir) to the WordPress servers. This release incorporates some new features, mostly contributed by Anton Lavrov (big thanks!)

  • BSD
    • NetBSD Ported To Run On NVIDIA’s Jetson TK1

      The latest ARM platform that NetBSD has been ported to is the NVIDIA Jetson TK1.

      This Tegra K1 ARM SoC Cortex-A15 development board is now in a fairly good working state with HDMI audio/video working along with other stability fixes. The NetBSD -current code is working on this board with the customized “JETSONTK1″ kernel.

Leftovers
  • Airline chief insulted us, claim families of young crash victims

    A group of parents whose children were killed in the Germanwings plane crash have released a scathing letter to Lufthansa’s chief executive, accusing him of ignoring their needs and feelings and insulting them with his company’s compensation offer.

  • Google will block access to its Autocomplete API on August 10, asks developers to use Custom Search Engine

    Are you a developer who uses Google’s unofficial Autocomplete API? Be warned, you won’t be able to do so anymore after August 10, 2015.

    Google currently supports more than 80 APIs that developers can use to integrate Google services and data into their applications. The company also has unsupported and unpublished APIs which people outside the company have discovered and leveraged. One of those is the Autocomplete API.

  • Science
    • Pioneering computer Commodore Amiga turns 30

      1980S BEDROOM BRILLIANCE the Commodore Amiga computer has reached the ripe old age of 30 and is still blazing in the hearts and minds of anyone who took keyboard and joystick in hand and shut the door on their parents.

    • Search for life on Jupiter’s icy moons moves a step closer as work starts on Juice spacecraft

      The search for alien life is moving to the icy moons orbiting Jupiter following the discovery of organic materials hailed as the “building blocks of life”.

      Work is due to start over the coming days on the development of a spacecraft for the European Space Agency (ESA) mission.

      Named Juice (the JUpiter ICy moons Explorer), it is scheduled for launch in 2022 and arrive in the Jovian system around Jupiter eight years later.

    • If You Don’t Fear a Robot Takeover, This Futurist Explains Why You Should

      A Dangerous Master, a new book by academic and futurist Wendell Wallach, takes us on a tour of the nefarious possibilities technological innovations can lead to. It’s not a light read if you’re not already familiar with predator drones and hacking the human genome. But it’s a perfect guidebook to the potential threats mankind faces if we continue along our current trajectory of unchecked innovative progress.

  • Security
    • The scariest thing about the Chrysler hack is how hard it was to patch

      Chrysler is having a bad week. On Tuesday, Wired published a fantastic and gripping report detailing an open vulnerability in Chrysler’s UConnect system, allowing attackers to take control of transmission, brakes, or even steering. There was already a patch available when the article was published, but because cars required physical updates, most cars hadn’t received it. Today, Chrysler upped the ante, asking 1.4 million cars to report to dealerships or install a patch mailed out over USB. It’s the biggest vulnerability we’ve ever seen from a car company, and a firsthand demonstration of how hard it is to patch a problem once it pops up.

    • 1/2 TRILLION spent on IT upgrades, but IRS, Feds still use DOS, old Windows

      President Obama’s team has spent more than a half trillion dollars on information technology but some departments, notably the IRS, still run on DOS and old Windows, which isn’t serviced anymore, according to House chairman.

    • US won’t publicly blame China for massive government hacks – reports

      Despite the fact that numerous American officials have blamed China for the massive hack that involved the personal data theft of millions of government employees, the United States has reportedly chosen not to publicly point the finger at Beijing.

      Two breaches at the Office of Personnel Management this year put the data of more than 22 million Americans at risk, raising concern about foreign cyberattacks and lax government security measures.

    • Car hack uses digital-radio broadcasts to seize control

      Several car infotainment systems are vulnerable to a hack attack that could potentially put lives at risk, a leading security company has said.

      NCC Group said the exploit could be used to seize control of a vehicle’s brakes and other critical systems.

      The Manchester-based company told the BBC it had found a way to carry out the attacks by sending data via digital audio broadcasting (DAB) radio signals.

    • After Jeep Hack, Chrysler Recalls 1.4M Vehicles for Bug Fix

      Welcome to the age of hackable automobiles, when two security researchers can cause a 1.4 million product recall.

      On Friday, Chrysler announced that it’s issuing a formal recall for 1.4 million vehicles that may be affected by a hackable software vulnerability in Chrysler’s Uconnect dashboard computers. The vulnerability was first demonstrated to WIRED by security researchers Charlie Miller and Chris Valasek earlier this month when they wirelessly hacked a Jeep I was driving, taking over dashboard functions, steering, transmission and brakes. The recall doesn’t actually require Chrysler owners to bring their cars, trucks and SUVs to a dealer. Instead, they’ll be sent a USB drive with a software update they can install through the port on their vehicle’s dashboard.

    • Fiat Chrysler recalls 1.4 million cars over remote hack vulnerability
    • Valerie Plame: OPM breach is ‘absolutely catastrophic’ to security

      “When you have access to information about the friends, family members and health issues of someone who works for the U.S. government, you can use that to try to get close to that person and gather intelligence,” she said. “To my mind, the OPM breach is absolutely catastrophic for our national security.”

    • Newest Remote Car Hacking Raises More Questions About Reporter’s Death

      As readers of WhoWhatWhy know, our site has been one of the very few continuing to explore the fiery death two years ago of investigative journalist Michael Hastings, whose car left a straight segment of a Los Angeles street at a high speed, jumped the median, hit a tree, and blew up.

      Our original report described anomalies of the crash and surrounding events that suggest cutting-edge foul play—that an external hacker could have taken control of Hastings’s car in order to kill him. If this sounds too futuristic, a series of recent technical revelations has proven that “car hacking” is entirely possible. The latest just appeared this week.

    • This Jordanian Left Her Life as a Beauty Queen to Be an Islamic State-Fighting Hacktivist

      Lara Abdallat is not your average beauty queen. She was Miss Jordan 2010 and first runner-up to Miss Arab 2011, but she abandoned her career in pageantry to do something slightly more controversial and dangerous.

      Abdallat is currently fighting the Islamic State group and Islamic extremists as a hacktivist with Ghost Security, an international counterterrorism organization tenuously affiliated with Anonymous, perusing the Deep Web and the Darknet for suspicious activity.

  • Defence/Police/Secrecy/Aggression
    • 5 Things You Should Know About the CIA’s ‘Robotic’ Drone Assassination Campaign [Ed: repeats the propaganda about ‘accuracy’]
    • War Without End

      The attack on a Navy and Marine Reserve recruitment station in Chattanooga, Tennessee, was an act of war.

      It was not terrorism.

      Was it terrifying? Certainly. War is terrifying. Was it tragic? No doubt. War is tragic. Was it terrorism? No.

      Muhammad Yousef Abdulaziz killed Marines, three of whom had served abroad.

      He did not shoot up a church, school, or movie theater–he attacked a military target. There was premeditation in his action, intent. He attacked a recruitment station, no different in purpose than the recruiters and training camps we regularly destroy in Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and elsewhere. Although the authorities are still investigating, it is clear his was a political act.

      [...]

      14 years into the war on terror, the longest war in American history, with close to 7,000 dead U.S. soldiers and–conservatively–over 200,000 dead foreign civilians, it should not take an attack on American soil to jar us into asking these questions.

    • Top U.S. commander in Afghanistan acknowledges Pakistan’s role in peace talks
    • William Saletan: Chattanooga wasn’t terrorism — it was an act of war

      According to local and federal officials, Thursday’s bloody assault in Chattanooga, Tenn., was ruthless and deranged. The U.S. attorney says investigators are treating the attacks, committed by a lone gunman at a military recruiting station and a Navy and Marine Corps Reserve centre, as a possible “act of terrorism.” Defence Secretary Ashton Carter calls it a “senseless act of violence.” Navy Secretary Ray Mabus says the attacks were out of bounds: “While we expect our sailors and marines to go into harm’s way, and they do so without hesitation, an attack at home, in our community, is insidious and unfathomable.”

    • Chattanooga Shooting, If Linked to ISIS, is a Act of War, Not “Terrorism”

      I’m not a fan of war or of killing of any kind, but the labeling of the deadly attack by Mohammod Youssuf Abdulazeez on two US military sites in Chattanooga, Tennessee as an act of terror is absurd.

    • Chafee says drone strikes drive the unrest in Yemen

      Lincoln Chafee campaigned for president in New Hampshire last month proudly showcasing his foreign policy credentials based in large part on his opposition to the Iraq war. He also had some things to say about U.S. policy in Yemen.

      The targeting of al-Qaida terrorists with drones has killed militants and civilians in recent years. And many Yemenis have called on the Obama administration to end drone strikes, which Chafee refers to as “extrajudicial killings.”

      “No more drone strikes,” Chafee said in New Hampshire. “One of the reasons I believe we’re in trouble in Yemen is we lost the population on drone strikes issues. That’s what stirred up the population. That’s what is happening in Yemen.”

    • PolitiFact: Chafee says drone strikes are driving unrest in Yemen

      “One of the reasons I believe we’re in trouble in Yemen is we lost the population on drone strikes issues. That’s what stirred up the population. That’s what is happening in Yemen.”

    • U.S. airstrikes in Somalia signal a more direct role against Shabab

      The U.S. is shifting to a more direct role in the near decade-old fight against Al Qaeda-affiliated Shabab militants, launching as many as six drone strikes in southern Somalia over the last week to support African forces battling the group, American officials said.

    • Jon Stewart Blew Last Chance to Ask Obama a Question

      Stewart said to Obama: you’ve tried bombing and overthrowing leaders and arming rebels and … what’s that new thing … oh yeah, diplomacy.

    • They didn’t start on 9/11

      The UK Prime Minister David Cameron has delivered his second speech in as many months on the terrorist threat, proposing a top-down reorganisation of British Islam. His new approach will see ‘moderate’ and ‘reforming’ voices sponsored by the central government.

      This has provoked a mixed response from British Muslims. It is also a remarkably unconservative approach to personal belief, from a supposedly conservative prime minister.

      Cameron’s understanding and presentation of the jihadist threat is that radical Islamist ideology, not Western foreign policy, explains all. In a single sentence, his speech dismissed the latter notion: “9/11 – the biggest loss of life of British citizens in a terrorist attack – happened before the Iraq War”.

      In fact, the speech demonstrated Cameron’s exceptionally poor historical knowledge. Al-Qaeda was attacking Western targets long before September 11, 2001.

    • Obama promotes militarism and murder

      Obama made no mention of the fact that Anwar al-Awlaki was an American citizen, convicted of no crime, judged in no court, but sentenced to death on the sole authority of the president of the United States. Nor did he refer to the subsequent US government murder of Awlaki’s son, an innocent teenager, in another drone missile strike, or the thousands of other civilian victims of US drone warfare across Central Asia, the Middle East and North Africa.

    • The ethnic roots of China’s Uighur crisis

      It’s erroneous to portray the conflict in Xinjiang as a struggle between Islam and the Chinese government

    • Saudi-backed militias capture key Yemen port city

      At least 3,500 have been killed as a result of the Saudi-led war, launched on March 26 of this year. Some 1,700 of these have been confirmed as civilians, according to the UN, with some 3,800 more civilians confirmed wounded.

    • Will Tunisia host a US base to fight Daesh in Libya?

      TUNISIA has once again had to deny allegations of agreeing to host a US military base in the country, reviving speculations over the depth of US-Tunisian relations.

    • Talks with the Taliban: Can Afghanistan set an example?

      The usual Western strategy for dealing with Islamic terrorists is to kill them. President Obama vows to crush Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. The United States helps African nations repel groups like Boko Haram. It uses drones to strike Al Qaeda operatives in any country. “Negotiations cannot convince Al Qaeda’s leaders to lay down their arms,” Mr. Obama stated in 2009.

    • Afghan officials say 14 soldiers killed in US airstrike

      Deaths of civilians and Afghan army personnel in “friendly fire” has become a contentious issue in the country. The toll makes it one of the deadliest such incidents involving coalition and Afghan troops in the 14 years that global forces have fought in Afghanistan.

      Two US helicopters are believed to have carried out the attack against a military checkpoint.

      A statement on behalf of the commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan says the U.S. deeply regrets the loss and offers condolences to those affected.

    • Afghan troops ‘killed by US friendly fire’ in Logar

      At least eight Afghan soldiers have been killed in a US air strike on an army checkpoint in Logar province, south of Kabul, Afghan officials say.

    • U.S. Airstrike Kills Seven in Afghanistan

      A U.S. airstrike in eastern Afghanistan killed at least seven Afghan soldiers, local officials said, an incident that threatens to strain relations between allies who are battling the Taliban and burgeoning Islamic State insurgencies.

    • Up to 10 Afghan Soldiers Killed in ‘Friendly’ US Airstrike

      The airstrike was part of the U.S.-led NATO coalition targeting the anti-Afghan government group the Taliban.

    • Drones and the epoch of one-click wars

      The trouble is that airstrikes and other quick applications of military force are rarely as cheap as they first appear. They tend to cause unanticipated trouble and begin conflicts without winning them. Escalation to more costly warfare then beckons. Drone strikes may prove to be especially misleading this way. Their benefits come fast and are straightforward. Most strikes bring reports of dead terrorists or insurgents, and their disrupted plans are easily imagined. The costs—especially blowback measured in violent anti-American sentiment and pressure toward escalation — arrive gradually and less discernibly.

    • Our machines will decide who lives and who dies

      We already have semi-autonomous killing machines in the battlefields but (theoretically) they will do everything except making the final decision to pull the trigger. That final, ultimate decision is supposed to be left up to a human somewhere who can analyze the situation and decide whether or not the drone is targeting a friend or an enemy and then issue the go-/no-go death sentence.

    • Op-Ed: Libyan war planes attack and sink a ship near Benghazi

      On Sunday, a Libyan war plane from the forces of the internationally-recognized Tobruk government attack and sank a vessel near the port city of Beghazi according to spokesperson for the air force.

    • Remembering the Algeria Hostage Crisis and Deaths of Japanese Nationals: Time for Japan to Listen to Russia

      The hostage crisis in Algeria in 2013 led to the deaths of ten Japanese nationals along with many other individuals from different nations. Sadly, it was abundantly clear from the start that the Libya connection would enter the equation. After all, the terrorist infiltration was extremely close to the border of Libya. Also, since the demise of Gaddafi the region is awash with military arms and countless terrorist groups. Within Libya itself you have various different Islamist terrorist organizations and the same applies to many militias that control parts of this nation. Therefore, in modern day Libya in 2015 you have chaos and a non-functioning state that can’t control the whole of this nation.

    • The Unquiet Sky

      The title comes from the testimony of a 13-year-old Pakistani boy whose grandmother was killed in a drone strike. ‘‘I no longer love blue skies,’’ the boy said, speaking before Congress. ‘‘In fact, I now prefer gray skies. The drones do not fly when the skies are gray.’’ Houtryve attached a camera to a small drone and traveled around the United States, making aerial photographs of the sorts of events that have been associated with intentional or erroneous drone strikes: funerals, weddings, groups of people at play, in prayer or during exercise. His images show Americans in the course of their daily lives, photographed from a great height, in bright sun that throws their distorted shadows far ahead of them, presenting them as unindividuated, vulnerable and human. Houtryve makes it clear that the people in Yemen, Pakistan, Somalia or Afghanistan who are killed by American drones are also just like this. With simple, vivid means, Houtryve brings the war home.

    • Deep trauma of life beneath the drones

      When a Western soldier suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder, there are doctors and organisations who can help them recover from the heartbreaking legacy of war.

      When it is someone from Afghanistan, where bombings regularly wreak devastation and tear families apart, you are unlikely to find any assistance, since there is little understanding of mental illness in the country.

      “The most common treatment is to take your loved one to a religious shrine where they are chained to walls or trees for up to 40 days, fed stale bread, water and ground pepper, and read dubious lines from the Qur’an by individuals with no medical or, for that matter, religious training,” documentary-makers Jamie Doran and Najibullah Quraishi told news.com.au.

      [...]

      “The allied nations that invaded – or liberated, as some still claim – Afghanistan at the beginning of the 21st century have managed to leave an even bigger mess than they inherited.

      “An entire generation brought up in daily fear of death does not augur well for either their future or ours. It may not be entirely fair, but they blame the West and allied nations for the state of their country. Expect some of them, at least, to seek revenge in the years to come.”

    • Chinese Officials Recruited By CIA At Macau Casinos

      Although it seems like cyber-crime gets all the news headlines these days, national and corporate intelligence agencies around the globe still often use old-fashioned cloak and dagger techniques to get the job done. That said, blackmail has long been one of the most effective ways to turn an intelligence target, and agencies have no compunctions about taking advantage of a target’s predilections for drugs, sex or even gambling to blackmail then into cooperation.

    • CIA used Macau casino to trap corrupt Chinese bureaucrats – report

      US intelligence may have used Macau casinos owned by an American tycoon to set a trap for Chinese functionaries who gamble with public money, in order to blackmail and recruit them.

    • China feared CIA worked with Sheldon Adelson’s Macau casinos to snare officials

      China feared that casinos in Macau owned by the billionaire gambling magnate and Republican party funder Sheldon Adelson were used by US intelligence agents to entrap and blackmail Chinese officials, according to a “highly confidential” report for the gambling industry.

    • China Fears CIA Used Macau Casino to Recruit Officials

      A report uncovered Wednesday said the Chinese government believes the U.S. was using Chinese officials’ gambling problems in order to blackmail them.

    • China Fears CIA Used Macau Casinos to Recruit Officials
    • Report alleges China believed Macau Sands infiltrated by CIA
    • China feared CIA used Macau casinos to trap officials: Report
    • Report says CIA used casino to trap corrupt Chinese bureaucrats
    • Beijing feared US agents would snare cadres at Macau casinos
    • Recently discovered Sands Macau report notes suspicions of US intelligence activities
    • Beijing suspected CIA and FBI would trap and blackmail officials in Macau casinos, says report
    • Bob Smith: The strange case of the CIA agent that never was – and his hoard of 1,200 firearms

      Was Bob Smith a super-spy or a super-fantasist? That was the question many in Los Angeles are trying to answer after the puzzling death of man who kept a hoard of more than 1,200 firearms and two tons of ammunition at home.

      The man, who is yet to be formally identified, was found dead in his sports utility vehicle not far from the house in LA’s affluent Pacific Palisades neighbourhood, where his body was believed to have been for two weeks in warm weather before police were alerted.

    • Ex-CIA disguise expert reveals how sex dolls tricked KGB during Cold War

      During the age of cold war espionage, CIA agents resorted to unusual techniques to outsmart the Russian KGB. One method required the use of life-size rubber sex dolls purchased in a Washington D.C. store.

      Walter McIntosh, who headed the CIA’s disguise unit from 1977 to 1979 told Newsweek magazine that the idea came about when CIA operatives in Moscow needed a trick to get Russian counterspies off their tails so they could safely meet with their secret agents.

    • How the CIA Turned a Sex Doll Into a Spy Trick

      Of all the missions Walter McIntosh undertook in his long CIA career, buying life-size rubber sex dolls in a Washington, D.C., porno shop was maybe the most memorable.

      It was all for a good cause, of course. And deadly serious, not just for McIntosh, who headed the CIA’s disguise unit from 1977 to 1979. The agency’s Moscow operatives were in desperate need of something—anything—to trick Russian counterspies into leaving them alone, if only for a few minutes, so they could meet their secret agents without fear of being arrested. A key operation was in peril.

    • The CIA built a secret and groundbreaking mobile text messaging system in the late 1970s
    • The building that’s not on the tourist map

      “People always think that picture was taken blocks away at the American embassy, but it happened here.”

    • Green Beret tells of shooting Taliban in CIA job interview, loses Silver Star for it

      Army Secretary John McHugh, who revoked the award, told The Washington Times through a spokesman that Maj. Golsteyn “assassinated an unarmed Afghan.”

    • CIA Operatives Should Not be Considered Armed Forces Under International Law

      Applying the transmittal letter’s reasoning to the aerial drone strike’s facts, it is unlikely that a US Attorney General would make similar findings with regard to CIA operatives’ participation. The opinion avoids a crucial issue by assuming the operatives carried out this mission from a remote location, presumably where an enemy could not strike, making distinction by insignia unnecessary (why the opinion assumed operatives were distant from the battlefield is unclear, though it certainly made it easier to reach the Prosecutor’s conclusion).

      [...]

      Left to a policy preference, which would be the better choice? Allowing CIA operatives to benefit from combatant immunity while also being considered lawful targets at all times, or maintaining their status as unlawful targets when not directly participating in hostilities who may face criminal liability for hostile actions. Against the lawless foes faced in Afghanistan and Pakistan, perhaps neither presents practical advantage. Nevertheless, the German opinion offers persuasive arguments that might gain support in the international community. Reaffirming US commitment to the principle of distinction might prevent its diminishment on other battlefields.

    • Barbara H. Colby, wife of controversial CIA spymaster, dies at 94

      From 1945 until their divorce in 1984, she was the wife of William Colby — the spy and later spymaster who, as CIA director from 1973 to 1976, revealed the assassination attempts and other clandestine activities known as the agency’s “family jewels.”

    • Turkey Says More Anti-PKK Strikes to Come

      A decades-old conflict between Turkey and the Kurdish PKK has been reignited.

      Turkey vowed Saturday to continue attacks against the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), along with strikes against the Islamic State group.

      “The operations will continue for as long as threats against Turkey continue,” Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said, according to Turkey’s Anadolu Agency.

    • After another senseless massacre, this time in Lafayette, Louisiana, Americans continue to pretend we’re safe from our own gun-toting neighbors

      We Americans respond with anger when Donald Trump warns us of murderous Mexicans, and we worry that ISIS can hit us at any moment. Yet we continue to pretend we’re safe from our own gun-toting, bomb-making neighbors.

    • It ain’t over til it’s over: America’s wars drag on no matter what officials say

      In all three of the countries where the Obama administration declared US wars “over” in the past few years – Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya – the US military is expanding its presence or dropping bombs at an ever-increasing rate. And the government seems to be keeping the American public in the dark on the matter more than ever.

      Pentagon leaders suggested this week that the US military wants to keep remaining 9,800 troops in Afghanistan from withdrawing in 2016, despite the fact that the Obama administration declared combat operations in the country “over” six months ago. The gradual extension of the Afghanistan War hasn’t been a secret to anyone who’s been paying close attention, but sadly it has happened far away from the pomp and circumstance of Obama’s now embarrassingly false State of the Union announcement that the Afghanistan War had ended.

    • Seeking War to the End of the World

      Despite the disastrous Iraq War, neocons still dominate Official Washington’s inside-outside game…

    • ‘Munich’ comparison to Iran deal: silly or appropriate?
    • Is the ‘military option’ on Iran off the table?

      Since then, Israeli media have been pressing hard to restore the military option to its accustomed place “on the table.” Flying to Israel Sunday night for a handholding mission with top Israeli officials, U.S. Defense Secretary Ashton Carter tried to make his reception in Tel Aviv less frosty, telling accompanying journalists that the nuclear deal with Iran “does nothing to prevent the military option.” The context, however, seemed to be one in which Iran was caught cheating on the nuclear deal.

      That this kind of rhetoric, even when it is not from the president, is still poison to Tehran was clear in the immediate reaction by Iran’s Foreign Minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, who insisted Monday: “Applying force … is not an option but an unwise and dangerous temptation.”
      cComments

      Looking for changes in official public statements was my bread and butter during a long tenure as a Kremlinologist. So on Wednesday, as I watched Mr. Obama defend the deal with Iran, I leaned way forward at each juncture — and there were several — where the timeworn warning about all options being “on the table” would have been de rigueur. He avoided saying it.

    • Iran agreement boosts peace

      The agreement has reduced the chance of a U.S. attack on Iran, which is a great development. But the interventionists will not give up so easily. Already they are organizing media and lobbying efforts to defeat the agreement in Congress. Will they have enough votes to over-ride a presidential veto of their rejection of the deal? It is unlikely, but at this point if the neocons can force the U.S. out of the deal it might not make much difference. Which of our allies, who are now facing the prospect of mutually-beneficial trade with Iran, will be enthusiastic about going back to the days of a trade embargo? Which will support an attack on an Iran that has proven to be an important trading partner and has also proven reasonable in allowing intrusive inspections of its nuclear energy program?

    • Understanding US-Iranian past is key to positive future

      Operation Ajax (1953) was a covert operation executed by the CIA to oust the democratically-elected Prime Minister of Iran, Mohammed Mossadeq. While the reasons for this now declassified covert operation exceed the scope of this letter, it is important to note that once Mossadeq was overthrown by forces funded and manipulated by the U.S., he was replaced with the tyrannical Shah of Iran (which the 1979 revolution forced from power).

    • Even on Iran, politicians too divided

      Iran has many more reasons to be suspicious of us than we of them. Our government had supported a puppet regime in their country which held them back for decades and was installed by our CIA. We have intervened in Afghanistan and Iraq, literally surrounding them.

    • Critics of the Iranian nuclear deal protest too much
    • Top CIA Official Says Nuke Deal Makes It Hard for Iran to Cheat

      A top Central Intelligence Agency official said Friday that the recently brokered nuclear agreement between leading nations and Iran will make it difficult for the Middle Eastern country to dupe nuclear inspectors.

      CIA deputy director David Cohen, speaking at the Aspen Security Forum, said intelligence officers were “reasonably” confident that the terms of the nuclear deal would prevent Iran from cheating in a way that avoided international detection.

    • Obama Bravely Ignores the Clamoring of the Warmongers with Iran Deal

      The accord struck in Vienna to rein in Iran’s nuclear activities has warmongers fulminating. Citizens worldwide should support U.S. President Barack Obama’s brave effort to outmaneuver them, taking heart from the fact that the signatories include not just the United States, but all five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany.

    • Back the Iran deal, and say no to the warmongers

      Many of the warmongers are to be found in Obama’s own government agencies. Most Americans struggle to recognize or understand their country’s permanent security state, in which elected politicians seem to run the show, but the CIA and the Pentagon often take the lead — a state that inherently gravitates toward military, rather than diplomatic, solutions to foreign-policy challenges.

    • Saying no to the warmongers
    • Iran’s Longstanding US-Inflicted Nightmare

      The late Chalmers Johnson (once a CIA consultant, a former “spear-carrier,” he said) called the agency the president’s “praetorian guard,” a private army producing phony intelligence to justify extrajudicial actions.

      They include toppling democratically elected governments, assassinating foreign heads of state and other key officials, propping up friendly dictators, and abducting targeted individuals for extraordinary rendition to agency controlled black sites – torture prisons to extract forced confessions from innocent victims under extreme duress, at times bringing them close to death and back.

    • Sanctions Relief Unlikely to Alter Iran’s Policies in Syria, Yemen

      Former Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) officer Paul Pillar said that Iran’s regional policies depend on various political interests and equities and not on how much money it has in its bank account.

    • War without tears

      The relationship between video games and violence is healthier than we like to think

      [...]

      He started up the desktop computer he had built himself, and opened up the first-person shooter game Counter-Strike. The military-style video game had been updated many times since its initial release in 1999, but this was the same version that had infested my middle school computer lab back then—or some pirated incarnation. Halil connected to a server by manually entering a memorized IP address.

      [...]

      “No no no,” and he smiled, “that wouldn’t be a ‘The Great Secret.’” The team of “counterterrorists” threw a couple grenades and started firing, peering around corners and strafing.

      “Then who is playing as Israel and Lebanon?”

      “IDF,” Halil pitched his screen to the rushing counterterrorist team, “and Hezbollah,” he tilted in the direction of the virtual AK fire. “This is my ‘Middle East Peace Plan.’” He said the phrase derisively, putting on his best American accent.

      I didn’t believe him, at first. The teams in the game were made up of the same avatars that always populated it. But Halil then showed me a series of taunting pictures the two teams had posted online. Among the match reports and running commentaries, the Israelis in uniform threw up imitations of American gang signs learned from rap videos, while young men of Hezbollah held real life rifles next to computer monitors, all with their faces blurred or blacked out in Photoshop. My favorite was a succession of shots of real guns, superimposed on computer monitors displaying virtual ones.

    • D.C.’s New Push: Use Saddam’s Men to Fight Obama’s ISIS War

      An ex-senator, a former CIA officer, and an Iraqi mogul lobby Congress for a private army, led by Saddam’s officers, to take on the terrorists that have trampled America’s proxies.

    • US military drone crashes in Iraq: Pentagon

      A US military drone flying a combat mission has crashed in Iraq after losing communication, the US Defense Department has confirmed.

    • Drone Contractors: An Oversight and Accountability Gap

      A slew of news reports have highlighted the crisis of drone pilot burnout in the United States military. Indeed, pilot shortages have prompted the US Air Force to cut the number of drone flights to fewer than 60 per day. That’s an important problem, but buried in these stories is another one. The Air Force has announced that, in response to the shortage, it will increase its use of contractors for these flights. Given the service’s manpower shortages, this statement is not surprising. Yet the growing numbers of contractors in drone operations, while little discussed, raise significant concerns about oversight and accountability at a time when drone use is set to accelerate. We simply don’t know enough about how contractors will be used in the increasingly automated version of war that appears to be our future. And that means we need to ask hard questions now about how this system should operate rather than simply letting it evolve without oversight.

    • George Clooney Opposes War Profiteering, Except When He Doesn’t

      George Clooney is being paid by the world’s top two war profiteers, Lockheed-Martin and Boeing, to oppose war profiteering by Africans disloyal to the U.S. government’s agenda.

    • During Trip, Obama Should Raise Case of Kenyan Detained at Guantanamo

      Human rights activists in the country told me earlier this month that he should raise these issues sensitively, and not pretend that the U.S. record on policing and fighting terrorism has been flawless. The scandal of CIA torture and the prison at Guantanamo Bay are widely known throughout Kenya. They said President Obama should be sure to make reference to the United States’ own mistakes when he talks to his Kenyan counterparts, and fully acknowledge how much the United States still has to improve.

    • Obama Shouldn’t Take Kenyan Welcome for Granted
    • Obama in Kenya: Will He Cater to the Barons or the People?

      Kenya inherited the massive investment in the militarization of the Horn of Africa from the era of anti-communism and this militaristic link to the West was deepened during the so called War on Terror. This Global War on Terror has now backfired against the peoples and the insecurity generated within Kenya and East Africa reinforce the influence of the US military when Barack Obama and his Administration want to focus on “Doing Business with Africa.” In 2014, the Obama Administration with much fanfare had called the first major US Africa summit but the present Washington sequestered bureaucracy has not worked to turn the page with the new engagement with African peoples. There have been no resources from Congress to support the much touted Power Africa.

    • Hissene Habre, ‘Africa’s Pinochet’

      Chadian dictator Hissene Habre goes on trial in Senegal, a quarter of a century after his blood-soaked reign came to an end, in trial seen as test case for African justice

    • Profile: Hissène Habré, the deadly dictator who got caught
    • Chad dictator on trial for mass murder

      When Chad’s former president Hissène Habré strode into a Senegalese court yesterday accused of 40,000 murders, war crimes and torture, he may have been wondering what became of his old superpower friends.

    • Senegal: Trial of Former Chadian Dictator Hissène Habré Postponed

      In breaking news from Senegal, the trial of Chadian former dictator Hissène Habré has been postponed until September 7 after Habré’s lawyers did not show up to court for the second day of trial. Habré has been charged with crimes against humanity, war crimes and torture related to his eight-year reign in Chad during the 1980s. We’ll have more on this story later in the show.

    • Threat to passenger jets: RAF training foreign states to counter looted Libyan missiles

      Gunners from the Royal Air Force (RAF) Regiment and Scotland Yard police are training foreign governments in how to prevent aviation being shot down by missiles looted from Libyan armories after the 2011 war.

      As many as 10,000 handheld surface-to-air missiles are feared to have been taken from Colonel Muammar Gaddafi’s armories as the regime collapsed, leading to fears they could be used by militants to bring down civilian airliners.

      Now members of the RAF Regiment – British soldiers who specialize in defending airfields – have been deployed to Middle Eastern and North African countries to advise on missile defense.

    • RAF personnel assigned to US unit carrying out drone strikes against Isis

      Following calls for government to come clean over role in US air force unit, MoD says such UK personnel are ‘effectively operating as foreign troops’

    • In Iraq and Syria, Kurdistan fighting ISIS isn’t exactly Prince Charming

      The Kurdish Peshmerga have repeatedly been praised by U.S. congressmen from both sides of the aisle, the Department of Defense, and numerous pundits, as the most effectual allies in the fight against ISIS and a group in need of American arms. But remember that October 2014 CIA study demonstrating that nearly all attempts to arm rebels have backfired or failed? It turns out that the Kurds aren’t our perfect match. They will be no exception to the trend, with their massive human rights violations, political conflict with Syrians and Iraqis, and destabilizing role in the Middle East.

    • Judge Says Government Can Continue To Refuse To Acknowledge Certain Drone Strike Documents

      The heavily-redacted order does contain some good news, however. The presiding judge ordered the Dept. of Defense and the CIA to turn over FOIAed documents to the ACLU that contain “previously acknowledged facts,” thus preventing the Dept. of Justice from turning real life into a bizarre fantasy world where previously disclosed information can be treated as though it was still locked up in the agency’s “TOP SECRET” digital filing cabinet.

      But the obvious downside is this: because the government has been given permission to avoid confirming or denying the existence of the documents the ACLU is seeking, the search for more information on accidental deaths and collateral damage will still consist of issuing speculative FOIA requests, which will then result in more lengthy, expensive litigation.

      I’m pretty sure the involved agencies believe they can outlast FOIA requesters, especially if they continue to receive mostly-favorable decisions from judges who place more faith in the government and its assertions about national security than in those who view government secrecy with considerably more skepticism. The problem is that the government has the resources to fight long legal battles. Most FOIA requesters do not.

    • Cubans’ Rejection of Senator Rubio Demonstrates Their Independent Thinking

      But Rubio cannot accept that Cubans’ nearly unanimous rejection of his right-wing politics might mean he is badly mistaken in his Manichean view of the Cuban socioeconomic system. Rubio wears Cubans’ disapproval of him as a badge of honor. For Rubio, Cubans are incapable of independent judgement. If the Cuban people are against him, it means they must be brainwashed by the evil Castro regime.

    • Cuba and US reopen embassies: Key events in the history of the Cold War foes [Photo report]

      The United States and Cuba have re-established embassies in each other’s capitals, formally restoring diplomatic ties severed more than five decades ago.

    • Forty Years Ago, Cuban Extremists Set Off Dozens of Bombs in Miami

      As the Cuban flag was raised over Washington, D.C., on Monday, some 20 anti-Castro demonstrators gathered outside Versailles Restaurant in Little Havana to protest warming relations between the U.S. and Cuba. In Washington, a man rushed the embassy gate with red paint splattered across his shirt, yelling “This is Cuban blood.” But for the most part, protests in both cities were small and low-key.

    • Cuban flag flies again in D.C.
    • Is the Era of U.S.-Backed Anti-Castro Terrorism Over? Reflections on Restored Ties Between Nations
    • A Victory for the People in Havana (Videos)
    • Amy Goodman: U.S., Cuba begin new chapter

      On July 20, history was made in Washington, D.C., and in Havana, Cuba. As the Cuban national anthem was played, the island nation’s flag was raised over its embassy in Washington. The embassy, as well as the U.S. Embassy in Havana, was open for business, for the first time in 54 years. The Washington ceremony was attended by more than 500 people. Earlier in the day, the U.S. State Department elevated the Cuban flag to a place of honor, joining 150 other national flags on display in the main lobby. While diplomatic relations have been restored, the crushing U.S. economic embargo against Cuba is still in place, and the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay remains open. More than 100 prisoners are still languishing there, many of them cleared for release for over a decade.

    • Chilean judge orders arrest of army officers who burned youths alive under Pinochet

      On Tuesday, July 21, a judge in Santiago, Chile ordered the arrest of seven army officers for their participation in the burning alive of photographer Rodrigo Rojas Denegri, and student Carmen Gloria Quintana on July 2, 1986. The case is known in Chile as Caso Quemados (Case of the burned).

      The army had detained both during the repression of an anti-government demonstration. They were severely beaten, before being soaked in gasoline and set afire. The young people, still alive, were dumped in a remote area and left to die, but were found by construction workers. Quintana survived, but Rojas died from his injuries, four days later.

      The horrible crime took place during the military-fascist dictatorship of General Pinochet (1973-1989) and was part of the reign of terror against workers and youth that took place with the assistance of the US Central Intelligence Agency.

    • Rewriting the History of Plan Colombia

      It’s probably a good thing that United States Army General John F. Kelly’s May op-ed in the Miami Herald went largely unperceived, but recent developments have rendered the cynicism that informed it too blaring to ignore.

      Ostensibly, General Kelly’s editorial seeks to extrapolate salient lessons from the Colombian government’s military campaign against the country’s leftist guerrilla insurgency. Specifically, Kelly contends that Plan Colombia, the $9 billion U.S. military aid package passed in 2000, has “shown us the way” to defeat ISIS, which he claims poses a similarly “daunting challenge for the United States and its allies.”

      On first read, the article is a relatively straightforward parade of banality and adulation, remarkable only because the individual leading it is the commander of U.S. Southern Command (Southcom). Sure, the content consists almost entirely of lies, half-truths, and meaningless platitudes, but nothing that ventures too far from the official Washington line.

  • Transparency Reporting
    • Turns Out Hillary Clinton Had Hundreds Of Potentially Classified Emails On Private Server; Officials Ask For Criminal Investigation [Update]

      But, of course, that was just one batch of the emails. A few weeks ago, reports started leaking from inside the State Department that, in fact, there was classified information on that server, and late last night the other shoe dropped, with a report in the NY Times that two separate Inspectors General have requested the Justice Department open a criminal investigation into Clinton’s mishandling of sensitive information — in particular the inclusion of “hundreds” of potentially classified emails on her private server.

    • Pentagon, CIA instructed to re-investigate whistleblower cases

      A government watchdog has ordered the CIA and the Pentagon to re-investigate retaliation allegations brought by two intelligence employees who accused their agencies of major institutional failings.

      The action by the intelligence community inspector general is the first public indication that a new intelligence appeals system is underway. The panel was set up by President Barack Obama as an independent forum that can evaluate whether whistleblowers were improperly fired or otherwise punished for disclosures after their agencies rejected their claims.

      The cases, nonetheless, demonstrate that the whistleblower system continues to be beset with problems and bureaucratic delays despite being overhauled by Congress and the Obama administration.

    • Why black spies matter

      Sterling has long maintained that the CIA retaliated against him for questioning racial bias at the agency, where, as he put it in a letter to Al Sharpton’s National Action Network, he was deemed “too big and too black” to move up the ranks. The CIA does not release data on its racial demographics, but a recent internal report on diversity affirms some of Sterling’s allegations of bias. Minorities accounted for less than 24.8 percent of its workforce and only 10.8 percent of its top leadership, according to the report. The CIA’s lack of diversity underscores the racial underpinnings of the global “war on terrorism,” in which white CIA officers torture nonwhite others in secret prisons and incinerate them with drone missiles.

    • The ‘rageful guy’ who pries secrets from the govt.

      When reporter Jason Leopold gets ready to take on the U.S. government, he psychs himself up by listening to the heavy metal bands Slayer and Pantera.

      He describes himself as “a pretty rageful guy.” Mr. Leopold (45), who works for Vice News, reserves most of his aggression for dealing with the government. He has revealed about 20,000 pages of government documents, many of them the basis for explosive news stories.

    • Police convictions: How did your force respond?

      At least 309 police officers and police community support officers (PSCOs) in the UK have been convicted of criminal offences in the last three years, according to figures released after a Freedom of Information request.

  • Finance
    • The Crime of Living Without a Home in Los Angeles

      A year ago he slept in his own apartment, but today Charles Jackson sleeps under a bridge bordering Silver Lake, one of the more fashionable neighborhoods in Los Angeles. A few dozen strangers share the encampment; some become neighbors, while others come and go. Jackson wants to get off the streets, but as many of those who live on the margins have found, it is easier to lose a home than find another.

      “People say, ‘This is going to be temporary, you know, until I get out from under this rock,’” he told me. A kind-looking brown-eyed man in his mid-50s, Jackson stands in front of the tent he lives in, looking away as we talk, his voice barely louder than a whisper. Beside us, Jackson’s white-and-tan terrier, Ozzie — well-groomed and clearly beloved — pokes his nose out from the front of the tent, panting in the midday sun. “Two years pass by, four, five years pass by; before you know it, you’re ten years homeless in the streets because out here, time is nothing. You get to not know what day it is, what month it is.”

    • After the Financial Times buyout, let’s stop belittling Japan’s success

      …Japanese officials have systematically exaggerated the Japanese economy’s various weaknesses, real and imagined.

    • Greece, Iran, and the Rules of the Game

      But he chose to “follow the rules” by accepting the EU plan. Greece is getting its financial bailout, Greeks are tightening their belts, and the Eurozone will survive more-or-less intact. Tsipras learned what happens when you challenge the rules of an elite club. Once in a while, the club changes the rules. Most of the time, the club issues an ultimatum: suck it up or move on.

    • Global One Percent Celebrate at the Bohemian Grove

      July 18th 2015 was the first day of this year’s summer camp for the world’s business and political aristocracy and their invited guests. 2,000 to 3,000 men, mostly from the wealthiest global one percent, gather at Bohemian Grove, 70 miles north of San Francisco in California’s Sonoma County—to sit around the campfire and chew the fat—off-the-record—with ex-presidents, corporate leaders and global financiers.

      [...]

      On the surface, the Bohemian Grove is a private place where global and regional elites meet for fun and enjoyment. Behind the scene, however, the Bohemian Grove is an American version of building insider ties, consensual understandings, and lasting connections in the service of class solidarity. Ties reinforced at the Grove manifest themselves in global trade meetings, party politics, campaign financing, and top-down corporatism.

    • Puerto Rico’s Debt Crisis

      Washington never granted islanders control of their lives, welfare and destiny. They have no say over foreign relations, commerce and trade, their air space, land and offshore waters, immigration and emigration, nationality and citizenship, currency, maritime laws, military service, US bases on its territory, constitutionality of its laws, jurisdictions and legal procedures, treaties, radio and television, communications, agriculture, its natural resources and more.

      Independence supporters aren’t tolerated – men like Oscar Lopez Rivera, a decorated Vietnam War veteran, wrongfully imprisoned for wanting Puerto Ricans to live free, behind bars for over three decades.

      Washington wants to continue exploiting its Caribbean colony for profit – raping and pillaging it at the public’s expense, much like what’s happening to Greece.

    • 1898 INVASION OF PUERTO RICO & THE EMERGENCE OF U.S. IMPERIALISM

      For the many people who have engaged in the struggle for Puerto Rico’s independence, July 25 has a special significance. On that date in 1898, U.S. troops invaded Puerto Rico, beginning a period of U.S. colonial domination on the island that continues to this day.

      The United States invaded Puerto Rico, along with the Philippines, Guam and Cuba, in the setting of the Spanish-American War. That war was the opening of what would be the menacing role and predatory nature of the U.S. capitalist class in the Caribbean, Latin America and the entire world.
      The seizure of Puerto Rico, Cuba, Guam and the Philippines by the United States signaled the quest of the U.S. capitalist class to become a world power. European powers had pursued a policy of colonial acquisitions since the end of the 15th century.

      But only in the late 19th century had the mature and developed capitalist powers virtually colonized the entire planet. The projection of U.S. power outside of the North American mainland signified a rush not to be left behind in this global division of markets.

  • PR/AstroTurf/Lobbying
    • What Bill Gates Doesn’t Understand About Education

      Mr. Gates, you swing a lot of weight in political circles. If you told policymakers that the current thrust of reform was blocking alternative ways of improving learner performance, and educators should have enough autonomy to explore those alternatives, those of us who have been working on them for decades might have a chance to show what’s possible.

    • Smoking Gun: MPAA Emails Reveal Plan To Run Anti-Google Smear Campaign Via Today Show And WSJ

      If you talk to the reporters who work for various big media companies, they insist that they have true editorial independence from the business side of their companies. They insist that the news coverage isn’t designed to reflect the business interests of their owners. Of course, most people have always suspected this was bullshit — and you could see evidence of this in things like the fact that the big TV networks refused to cover the SOPA protests. But — until now — there’s never necessarily been a smoking gun with evidence of how such business interests influences the editorial side.

  • Censorship
    • Now You Can Make That Embarrassing Email You Sent Self-Destruct

      Everyone’s fired off a hasty email that they desperately wish they could take back. A new Gmail tool will let you do that whenever you please.

      Dmail is a new browser extension for Google Chrome that gives people more control of how long others can view their Gmail messages. When sending an email through Gmail, users can set a specific time when the message will self-destruct, ranging anywhere from an hour to a week. And even emails without a specific self-destruct timer can still be recalled by the sender at an time, making them unviewable to the recipient.

  • Privacy
  • Civil Rights
    • Schooled in Britain, Deported to Danger: UK Sends 600 Former Child Asylum Seekers Back to Afghanistan

      Hundreds of Westernised young men who grew up in Britain after fleeing war-torn Afghanistan as children have been forcibly returned to their home country due to what experts believe is an inhumane shortcoming in the UK asylum system.

    • Beyond Innocence: US Political Prisoners and the Fight Against Mass Incarceration

      President Obama’s recent statements about mass incarceration, together with his decision to commute the sentences of 46 people serving lengthy and life sentences in federal prison on drug charges, treat “nonviolent drug offenders” as the symbolic figureheads of America’s prison problem. This framing seems to imply that everyone else actually deserves to be in prison.

    • If Obama Can’t Close Guantanamo

      It’s becoming increasingly clear that the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, isn’t going to be closed during President Barack Obama’s administration — or beyond, despite the administration’s efforts. That raises a deep question about foreign policy and the rule of law: What if Guantanamo never closes, and some of its detainees remain there for the rest of their lives?

      The sad truth is that the continued operation of the prison is unlikely to do any more long-term damage to the U.S. reputation abroad — because the world has already come to the conclusion that the U.S. is no better than anyone else when it comes to dealing with terrorists.

    • Guantanamo Bay closure: Why plans to close the notorious prison may be wishful thinking

      It sounds like an old vinyl record stuck in its groove, another regular reminder of what has long since been a national disgrace. After six years of trying in vain to close the infamous prison for suspected terrorists at Guantanamo Bay, the White House, it is said, is close to finalising another plan to do just that. To which one is tempted to reply: “Dream on”.

    • House should join Senate in torture ban

      Congress is faced with the opportunity to forbid the CIA from engaging in torture forever, thanks to a bill sponsored by Sens. John McCain and Dianne Feinstein. The legislation passed the Senate in a recent impressively bipartisan 78-21 vote, and now heads to the House of Representatives.

      When we talk about torture, too often we use distant, medical language to grapple with the most vile things that can be done to a human being. Very few of us can imagine this horrific treatment, and even fewer of us want to think about it.

      But our government has too often sanctioned torture. It is critical that we understand it so that we can stop it.

      Through Survivors of Torture, International, an organization that advocates for an end to torture everywhere and treats torture survivors, I have heard stories from survivors that have never been more relevant. I shall try to share my sense of what torture is and why Congress must pass the McCain-Feinstein legislation that would prohibit it.

    • Secret Foreign Policy Is Bad for Democracy

      The government would prefer you never knew about any of that. When Montgomery was being sued by a former employer, then–Director of National Intelligence John Negroponte quashed any public court discussion of Montgomery’s bizarre relationship with U.S. intelligence. He insisted that public revelations about how easily the country’s protectors can be conned would constitute “serious, and in some cases exceptionally grave, damage to the national security of the United States.”

      Democracy is supposed to transmit the people’s will to our governors, but it’s hard to argue that’s the case when said governors can keep us ignorant about what they’re doing and what it costs. However, the U.S. government has become increasingly adept at waving the flags of democracy and national security simultaneously.

    • Obama Does Not Prosecute “Mega-Crooks”. Neither Would Hillary. Would Sanders?

      The chief reason why the USA is no longer a democracy (if it ever was) is that its mega-criminals have impunity, just like kings and other dictators in countries that make little pretense to being a ‘democracy.’

    • Hip-Hop Artist-Activist Sole Tackles US Torture Through Eyes of a Detainee

      Outspoken political activist and avant garde hip-hop artist Sole, together with DJ Pain 1, gives Sputnik readers a first look at his visually stunning new video that tells the story of a CIA black site as seen through the eyes of a detainee.

    • Anonymous has long history of activism and controversy

      Hacktivist group launches action against RCMP in B.C. following fatal shooting in Dawson Creek

    • David Cameron extremism speech: Muslim leaders give their views on the PM’s plans

      I am concerned that yet again Cameron is conflating the issue of extremism and terrorism with those of cohesion and integration.

      He says that Muslims are not doing enough to integrate and that risks fostering extremism – but just what is enough and how do you measure it?

    • Journalist Barrett Brown Receives 30 More Days of Solitary Confinement in Prison

      Jailed journalist and activist Barrett Brown has received 30 more days of solitary confinement in the prison, where he is serving a five-year and three-month sentence issued against him in January.

      Brown, who had been put in “the hole” at the Fort Worth Correctional Institution previously, was put in solitary confinement in late June after staff “singled” him out “for a search” of his locker and “found a cup of homemade alcohol.”

    • Terrorism conviction of Miami imam upheld

      The case against Khan, an imam at a Miami mosque before his 2011 arrest, was built on hundreds of FBI recordings of both telephone calls and Khan’s face-to-face conversations with an undercover informant. In the calls, Khan discussed details of numerous wire transfers to Pakistan over a three-year period that totaled about $50,000.

    • Dylann Roof is a terrorist, but won’t be charged as one

      Dylann Roof, the 21-year-old white man who stands accused of murdering nine black members of Mother Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina, last month, was indicted Wednesday on federal hate crime charges, some of which carry the possibility of the death penalty.

    • Security concerns after man dies outside restaurant
    • 3 dead in Louisiana theater shooting
    • Louisiana police name gunman who killed two in cinema

      Louisiana police on Friday identified John Russell Houser (59) of Alabama as the suspected lone gunman who opened fire in a crowded movie theater, killing two and wounding others before turning the gun on himself.

  • DRM
    • Federal judge says you can break DRM if you’re not doing so to infringe copyright

      Here’s some remarkable news: a judge in a New Orleans-based 5th Circuit Appeals Court has ruled that the Digital Millennium Copyright Act’s ban on breaking DRM only applies if you break DRM in order to violate copyright law. This is a complete reversal of earlier rulings across the country (and completely opposite to the approach that the US Trade Representative has demanded from America’s trading partners). In the traditional view, DRM is absolutely protected, so that no one is allowed to break it except the DRM maker. In other words, a film-maker isn’t allowed to take the BluRay DRM off her own movie, a video game programmer can’t take the iPad DRM off her own game, and an audiobook author can’t take the DRM off his own Audible book.

    • Happy 30th anniversary, Tengen! Your anti-DRM NES chip fought the law, and the law won

      In 1985, Japanese giant Namco got out its wallet, and bought control of Atari Games – the coin-op arcade games maker that was doing rather well compared to its ailing home console cousin, Atari Corp.

      The deal was the first step toward a massive legal battle that changed the way console manufacturers produced, licensed, and distributed their games. And this is how it happened:

  • Intellectual Monopolies
    • Copyrights
      • Restaurateur is threatened with £1,000 fine if any customer watches TV on their mobile on her premises in an astonishing ‘bullying’ letter from BBC TV Licensing body

        A restaurateur has been threatened with a £1,000 fine or court action if any customer watches TV on their mobile phone in her premises in a ‘bullying’ letter from the BBC TV Licensing body.

        Neleen Strauss, the owner of the High Timber restaurant in central London, was sent the ‘intimidating and aggressive’ letter this week.

      • Geo-Blocking Caused Massive TV Piracy 20 Years Ago

        This week several Hollywood studios and pay TV giant Sky found themselves on the wrong end of an EU antitrust investigation for blocking cross-border access to TV shows and movies. Yet twenty years ago Sky was doing the same thing, a stubbornness that sparked a huge wave of piracy right across Europe.

      • Pirate Bay Led Hollywood The Way, Co-Founder Says

        During his stay in prison, Pirate Bay co-founder Fredrik Neij was deprived of the Internet and forced to view broadcast TV. A grueling experience, but not as bad as it used to be, something the Pirate Bay can take credit for in part. Still, Fredrik believes that there’s plenty of room for improvement.

      • Porn studio asks judge to ban talk about “copyleft” blogs at trial

        Prenda Law is gone, and today it’s a legit porno company, Malibu Media, that files more copyright lawsuits than anyone else. Malibu sues thousands of people for downloading the company’s content via BitTorrent, then asks for settlements reportedly in the several-thousand-dollar range.

      • Anatomy of a Copyright Coup: Jamaica’s Public Domain Plundered

        A bill extending the term of copyright by an additional 45 years—almost doubling it, in the case of corporate and government works—sailed through the Jamaican Senate on June 26, after having passed the House of Representatives on June 9. The copyright term in Jamaica is now 95 years from the death of the author, or 95 years from publication for government and corporate works. This makes it the third-longest copyright term in the world, after Mexico and Côte d’Ivoire respectively with 100 and 99 years from the death of the author.

      • State Of Georgia Sues Carl Malamud For Copyright Infringement For Publishing The State’s Own Laws

        The State is particularly upset that Malamud ran some crowdfunding and donation campaigns seeking to raise money to keep his operations running, saying that he raised this money “to assist the Defendant in infringing the State of Georgia’s copyrights.” The State also complains that he uploaded the code to the Internet Archive under a CC 0 public domain dedication, saying (incorrectly) that this implies that he claimed that he was the owner of the annotations. That’s not true at all. He’s claiming that everyone owns them, because they’re the law.

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