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Free Software Sentry – watching and reporting maneuvers of those threatened by software freedom
Updated: 56 min 42 sec ago

Microsoft Technology Crashes Financial Markets, Again

2 hours 52 min ago

Microsoft stack is a mutual fund’s assured destruction

Summary: SunGard, which is a Microsoft shop, is clearly failing to provide what it calls mission-ciriticaal [sic] solutions

IT HAS been an exceptionally long time since we last heard from or wrote about the London Stock Exchange (LSE) [1, 2, 3, 4, 5] because now that it runs a lot of Free software, including GNU/Linux at the very core, it is so stable that the architecture is not newsworthy. It’s uneventful. There are, however, some who still insist on using Windows in mission-critical systems. They are paying a high price for this, first at acquisition and later when things go awry, repeatedly even.

Not only the LSE moved to GNU/Linux (dumping Microsoft after many severe problems and a huge bill). Wall Street is famously GNU/Linux-powered after many years with UNIX (it never relied on Windows), but there are private firms that rely on Microsoft and they have just paid a very high price for that. “Bank of New York Mellon Corp.,” says the Wall Street media, “is still working to provide closing prices for certain mutual funds and exchange-traded funds after a technology used to generate net asset values broke down on Monday.”

“Computer Glitch rocks the Mutual Fund Industry,” wrote to us a reader, pointing to more articles about the collateral impact (it’s disrupting the market as a whole). “There’ll be no mention of the Microsoft connection,” he noted. So far he has been right. Nobody calls out Windows. Here is Microsoft’s page about the “Microsoft and SunGard Alliance”. To quote parts of it: “As is demonstrated by the IntelliMatch Operational Control Windows 8, SunGard is innovating utilizing Microsoft technology to ubild mission-ciriticaal [sic] solutions for the global financial services community”

Yes, mission-ciriticaal [sic] (not our typo) is what it’s really for. They can’t even deal with English, so how about real-time systems with trillions of transactions? Based on Google’s cache, the page has contained this typo for quite some time. SunGard is a joke and it relies on Microsoft’s amateurish software.

Having looked for stronger evidence of Windows being the cause, a reader told us, sarcastically: “If it wasn’t Windows they would be singing it to the rafters. On the other hand maybe it was a pretext to shutdown trading as the market was in the middle of another panic selling. Remember when a whole days trades was ‘lost’ on the NY stock exchange. The computers recovered just at the end of day trading.”

“There are many reasons why no firm should ever use Windows, as Stuxnet serves to remind anyone who is still wilfully ignorant. This is especially true for financial firms, law firms, politicians, and journalists.”There are many reasons why no firm should ever use Windows, as Stuxnet serves to remind anyone who is still wilfully ignorant. This is especially true for financial firms, law firms, politicians, and journalists. They don’t need to be “foreign” to be targetted, they just need to be viewed as “hostile” towards some of those who are presently in Power. The government wishes to meddle and disrupt opposition or risk to Power. That’s a universal problem.

The author at TechDirt [1], as well as others [2], neglect to mention right now that CIPAV, which the FBI turns out have used to disrupt journalists based on the explosive revelations below, specifically targets Microsoft Windows, a platform with back doors.

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. AP Sues FBI Over Impersonating An AP Reporter With A Fake AP Story

    Last fall, we wrote about how the FBI had set up a fake AP news story in order to implant malware during an investigation. This came out deep in a document that had been released via a FOIA request by EFF, and first noticed by Chris Soghoian of the ACLU. The documents showed the FBI discussing how to install some malware, called a CIPAV (for Computer and Internet Protocol Address Verifier) by creating a fake news story…

  2. Associated Press sues FBI over fake news story

    The Associated Press filed a lawsuit (PDF) this morning, demanding the FBI hand over information about its use of fake news stories. The case stems from a 2007 incident regarding a bomb threat at a school. The FBI created a fake news story with an Associated Press byline, then e-mailed it to a suspect to plant malware on his computer.

    The AP sent a Freedom of Information Act request to the FBI last year seeking documents related to the 2014 sting. It also seeks to know how many times the FBI has used such a ruse since 2000. The FBI responded to the AP saying it could take two years or more to gather the information requested. Unsatisfied with the response, the Associated Press has taken the matter to court.

Alice v. CLS Bank (Alice/§101) Comes to Squash Software Patents Even in Eastern District of Texas

3 hours 24 min ago

Software patents demolition in the United States

Summary: The crackdown on software patents is coming along nicely and the Alice case is now being utilised even in the capital of patent trolls

WE RECENTLY gave many examples where Alice demolished software patents [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6]. The Alice v. CLS Bank case (at SCOTUS) led even the CAFC (overzealously in favour of software patents and their original endorser decades ago) to — believe it or not — overturning decisions/biases. They must all simply obey the new rules/laws and examiners at the USPTO cannot grant patents on software like they used to. It’s huge news, even if many news sites continue to overlook these developments (patent lawyers’ sites try to counter these worrisome — to them of course — developments and precedents using propaganda and cherry-picking of facts).

“Business method patent app[lications] get no respect,” says Patently-O‘s article, according to Richard Beem (patent lawyer). He just says (or whines) that it harms his parasitic business. “The chart above shows the USPTO patent grant rate across a variety of major technology areas,” says Patently-O, but notice the reluctance to distinguish software patents from the rest. The survey does not list “software” separately from other things. Therein lies a potentially strong bias, like that of the originator of software patents, Martin Goetz. He recently wrote no less than two articles dismissing altogether the existence of a “software patents” category/classification.

“If this trend continues, then perhaps the trolls epidemic too will stop, not because of some corporate lobbyists who ask for a bogus ‘reform’ but because of the US Supreme Court.”The EFF, taking note of some recent developments, writes about the quick demise of software patents in the US, owing to courts’ decisions (each reinforcing predecessors). “With Kafkaesque Flourish,” says the title, “the Eastern District of Texas Penalizes Parties for Following the Rules” (we have already written some articles about corruption in Eastern District of Texas courts).

The Eastern District of Texas is the worst court when it comes to patents (favourable to software patents and patent trolls who wield these). To quote the EFF: “In the wake of the Supreme Court’s June 2014 decision in Alice v. CLS Bank, most courts have been quickly and efficiently getting rid of patents that improperly claim “abstract ideas.” In Alice, the Supreme Court held that “abstract ideas,” without more, were unpatentable under 35 U.S.C. § 101. According to one source, at least 150 patents have had claims invalidated as “abstract” since Alice. Those accused of infringing these invalid patents have regularly filed motions to dismiss at the outset of a case, having the issue heard before too much time and energy is spent. Courts have, for the large part, embraced these “Alice motions” and invalidated abstract patents as soon as practicable.”

Here comes the new part: “Following the Eastern District of Texas’s unconventional rules, the defendants filed a letter asking permission to file their Alice motion. Given the potential for wasted time, effort, and money, the defendants very shortly thereafter filed a motion for a stay of the case while the court decided the issue of whether the asserted patent claims are invalid under Alice. The patent owner did not oppose the motion to stay. Presumably the patent owner also recognized that it was more efficient to hear the issue at the outset, without incurring costs that may prove to be wasted if the Alice motion is granted.”

It is nice to see Alice being brought up even in Eastern District of Texas courts. If this trend continues, then perhaps the trolls epidemic too will stop, not because of some corporate lobbyists who ask for a bogus ‘reform’ but because of the US Supreme Court. Even corrupt courts must sooner or later follow the law to avoid being throughly discredited and potentially abolished.

Apple’s Patent Cases Against Android Are Falling Apart, as Acknowledged Even by the Anti-Android Lobby

3 hours 55 min ago

Patents on trivial concepts can’t carry water for Apple

Summary: Apple’s attacks on Android (and by extension Linux) run short of results

DESPITE Apple’s ‘generous’ payments to IDG (e.g. for advertisements), IDC‘s parent company, IDC now reports (as widely covered in the media) that Apple is unlikely to ever catch up with Android and Apple’s stock rapidly collapsed recently, costing the company around $100 billion in overall value.

Apple saw the writings on the wall some years ago. It started suing Android half a decade ago, taking advantage of a notorious patent system (the USPTO) that is such an utter joke that it actually let McDonalds have patents on making burgers (patents protectionism) just when in the US, based on this new report, some people are copyrighting a chicken sandwich (or at least trying to). Remember that Oracle attacks Android not only using patents but also copyrights (on APIs). CPTN, a consortium built around Novell’s patents with Apple, Microsoft and Oracle at its core, shows that there is a proprietary software collusion against Android/Linux. Microsoft has been destroying Nokia to turn it into a patent troll, using its patents to feed Android-hostile trolls like MOSAID.

Outside the US (although increasingly in the US too) Apple has not been so lucky when it comes to fighting Android. Watch Europe for instance. Aside from the fact that the system isn’t biased in favour of US companies (like the ITC tends to be), Apple’s slide-to-unlock patent, to give just one example, is nothing more than an old gate lock (thousands of years old) borrowed for digital metaphors. It’s just not patentable in many places, including in Europe. Apple has ultimately embarrassed itself by even trying to follow Steve Jobs' "thermonuclear" (apocalyptic) plan.

“Apple’s anti-Android/anti-Samsung patents are an endangered species in every jurisdiction in which they get challenged (and may soon be an extinct species in Europe)…”
      –Florian MüllerAccording to Florian Müller, who has been working for Microsoft (and based on some reports also for Apple) as a sort of lobbyist, Apple continues to be defeated in Europe. To put it in his own words: “The spring 2014 armistice with Google has a major downside for Apple: it related only to infringement cases, not to challenges to the validity of its patents, a fact that was not clear at the time of the original announcement. Five months ago, the European Patent Office revoked Apple’s iconic rubberbanding patent on a Europe-wide basis. The sole remaining party opposing the grant of that patent was Motorola. I have no doubt that Google (not Lenovo) is the driving force behind this continuing effort to shoot down Apple patents, and I guess Google is paying Quinn Emanuel for representing Motorola in cases such as that one.

“Today, Google and QE’s continuing efforts have succeeded once again (and most probably not for the last time): the Federal Court of Justice, Germany’s highest court (besides, theoretically, the Federal Constitutional Court, which has never heard a patent case in its history), today announced (German-language press release) affirmance of the Federal Patent Court’s April 2013 decision to invalidate the German part of Apple’s European slide-to-unlock patent.”

In another article from Müller the failures of Apple are shown to be broader than just in Europe. To quote: “Apple’s anti-Android/anti-Samsung patents are an endangered species in every jurisdiction in which they get challenged (and may soon be an extinct species in Europe), except for the Northern District of California, where Judge Lucy Koh has so far acted as if she was the World Wildlife Fund for Apple patents. But a tipping point may have been reached at which conservation will come to an end even in her district court.”

When even Müller has no favourable opinion on Apple’s case it’s easy to conclude that Apple totally lost the plot.

Let’s hope that Apple will rot on its own, without (any longer) trying to take Android down along with it.

Links 29/8/2015: NetworkManager 1.0.6, Systemd Merges “su” Command Replacement

4 hours 42 min ago

Contents GNU/Linux Free Software/Open Source Leftovers
  • The 20 toughest job interview questions in the world

    Impossible to prepare for; unrelated to the job: jobseekers are facing tougher and weirder questions than ever in job interviews.

    Employers are turning to tricky questions to quickly sort through high numbers of candidates, so that only the very best shine through, according to Joe Wiggins, spokesman for Glassdoor in the UK.

    “Often it is to see how you react under pressure,” Wiggins said. “It’s to see what happens when the rug is pulled from under you – how do you prepare for the completely unexpected?”

  • Science
  • Hardware
    • LG’s new Rolly wireless keyboard turns into a pocket stick

      LG just announced the “Rolly,” a Bluetooth keyboard that folds up along the four rows of keys to create a wand-like device that can be tossed in a purse or pocket. LG is hardly the first electronics company to introduce a foldable, ultra-portable wireless keyboard — or even the first to introduce a gadget called the Rolly — but it might be the first to market either as a stick for your pocket.

  • Security
    • London Calling: Two-Factor Authentication Phishing From Iran

      This report describes an elaborate phishing campaign against targets in Iran’s diaspora, and at least one Western activist. The ongoing attacks attempt to circumvent the extra protections conferred by two-factor authentication in Gmail, and rely heavily on phone-call based phishing and “real time” login attempts by the attackers. Most of the attacks begin with a phone call from a UK phone number, with attackers speaking in either English or Farsi.

      The attacks point to extensive knowledge of the targets’ activities, and share infrastructure and tactics with campaigns previously linked to Iranian threat actors. We have documented a growing number of these attacks, and have received reports that we cannot confirm of targets and victims of highly similar attacks, including in Iran. The report includes extra detail to help potential targets recognize similar attacks. The report closes with some security suggestions, highlighting the importance of two-factor authentication.

    • Ins0mnia: Unlimited Background Time and Covert Execution on Non-Jailbroken iOS Devices

      FireEye mobile researchers discovered a security vulnerability that allowed an iOS application to continue to run, for an unlimited amount of time, even if the application was terminated by the user and not visible in the task switcher. This flaw allowed any iOS application to bypass Apple background restrictions. We call this vulnerability Ins0mnia.

    • Why is the smart home insecure? Because almost nobody cares

      It’s easy to laugh-and-point at Samsung over its latest smart-thing disaster: after all, it should have already learned its lesson from the Smart TV debacle, right?

      Except, of course, that wherever you see “Smart Home”, “Internet of Things”, “cloud” and “connected” in the same press release, there’s a security debacle coming. It might be Nest, WeMo, security systems, or home gateways – but it’s all the same.

    • Critical PayPal XSS vulnerability left accounts open to attack

      PayPal has patched a security vulnerability which could have been used by hackers to steal users’ login details, as well as to access unencrypted credit card information. A cross site scripting bug was discovered by Egyptian ‘vulnerabilities hunter’ Ebrahim Hegazy — ironically on PayPal’s Secure Payments subdomain.

    • Important Notice Regarding Public Availability of Stable Patches

      Grsecurity has existed for over 14 years now. During this time it has been the premier solution for hardening Linux against security exploits and served as a role model for many mainstream commercial applications elsewhere. All modern OSes took our lead and implemented to varying degrees a number of security defenses we pioneered; some have even been burned into silicon in newer processors. Over the past decade, these defenses (a small portion of those we’ve created and have yet to release) have single-handedly caused the greatest increase in security for users worldwide.

    • Finland detains Russian accused of U.S. malware crimes

      Finland confirmed on Thursday it has detained a Russian citizen, Maxim Senakh, at the request of U.S. federal authorities on computer fraud charges, in a move that Russia calls illegal.

    • Finland confirms arrest of Russian citizen accused of crimes in the US

      Finnish authorities have confirmed the detention of Maxim Senakh, a Russian citizen accused of committing malware crimes in the US. The Russian Foreign Ministry has expressed concern and called on Finland to respect international law.

    • More than 80% of healthcare IT leaders say their systems have been compromised

      Eighty-one percent of healthcare executives say their organizations have been compromised by at least one malware, botnet or other kind of cyberattack during the past two years, according to a survey by KPMG.

      The KPMG report also states that only half of those executives feel that they are adequately prepared to prevent future attacks. The attacks place sensitive patient data at risk of exposure, KPMG said.

      The 2015 KPMG Healthcare Cybersecurity Survey polled 223 CIOs, CTOs, chief security officers and chief compliance officers at healthcare providers and health plans.

    • Removal of SSLv3 from LibreSSL
    • Kansas seeks to block release of voting machine paper tapes

      The top election official in Kansas has asked a Sedgwick County judge to block the release of voting machine tapes sought by a Wichita mathematician who is researching statistical anomalies favoring Republicans in counts coming from large precincts in the November 2014 general election.

    • Friday’s security updates
    • Security updates for Thursday
    • nsenter gains SELinux support

      nsenter is a program that allows you to run program with namespaces of other processes

    • Iceland boosts ICT security measures, shares policy

      Iceland aims to shore up the security of its ICT infrastructure by raising awareness and increasing resilience. And next to updating its legislation, Iceland will also bolster the police’s capabilities to tackle cybercrime.

    • A Project to Guarantee Better Security for Open-Source Projects

      Open-source developers, however, can take steps to help catch these vulnerabilities before software is released. Secure development practices can catch many issues before they become full-blown problems. But, how can you tell which open-source projects are following these practices? The Core Infrastructure Initiative has launched a new “Best Practice Badge Program” this week to provide a solution by awarding digital badges to open-source projects that are developed using secure development practices.

  • Defence/Police/Secrecy/Aggression
    • Declassified CIA documents reveal how disastrous America’s post-9/11 plans really were

      First, the disastrous failures of US policy in Afghanistan and Iraq have led to an unprecedented programme of declassification of documents (some with significant redactions) as part of the cathartic process of trying to understand how so many mistakes were made before and after 9/11.

      Second, the cache of cables dumped by WikiLeaks, coupled with further revelations from material leaked by Edward Snowden, has provided an exceptional level of insight into the workings of the intelligence agencies over the past three decades, together with priceless new information about the decision-making processes and about operational activities.

      And third, there has been a cache of materials found locally following the military interventions of the past 12 years – such as audio tapes recovered from the presidential palace in Baghdad in 2003 that recorded thousands of hours of meetings, discussions and even phone calls made by Saddam Hussein and his inner circle, or boxes of cassettes that belonged to Osama bin Laden that were retrieved from a compound in Kandahar two year earlier.

      This treasure trove allows us to understand the failures, incompetence and poor planning that accompanied the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq in astonishing detail, but also to frame these within the context of a wider region – and a wider period. These two countries form part of a belt that stretches from the Mediterranean to the Himalayas, linking East and West, and that for millennia has served as the world’s central nervous system. Trade, commodities, people, even disease, spread through the webs of networks that connect these locations to each other and ultimately connect the Atlantic coasts of Europe and North Africa to the Pacific coast of China and South-east Asia.

  • Transparency Reporting
    • Sweden and Ecuador to begin Julian Assange talks next week

      Sweden will begin talks with Ecuador about Julian Assange on Monday, after Stockholm moved to break the deadlock over five-year-old rape allegations against him.

      Sweden initially rejected a demand by Ecuador that the two countries establish a formal agreement on judicial cooperation before Swedish prosecutors could interrogate the WikiLeaks founder in Ecuador’s embassy in London, saying it did not negotiate bilateral treaties.

    • Exclusive: Read Julian Assange’s Introduction to The Wikileaks Files

      One day, a monk and two novices found a heavy stone in their path. “We will throw it away,” said the novices. But before they could do so, the monk took his ax and cleaved the stone in half. After seeking his approval, the novices then threw the halves away. “Why did you cleave the stone only to have us throw it away?” they asked. The monk pointed to the distance the half stones had traveled. Growing excited, one of the novices took the monk’s ax and rushed to where one half of the stone had landed. Cleaving it, he threw the quarter, whereupon the other novice grabbed the ax from him and rushed after it. He too cleaved the stone fragment and threw it afield. The novices continued on in this fashion, laughing and gasping, until the halves were so small they traveled not at all and drifted into their eyes like dust. The novices blinked in bewilderment. “Every stone has its size,” said the monk.

      At the time of writing, WikiLeaks has published 2,325,961 diplomatic cables and other US State Department records, comprising some two billion words. This stupendous and seemingly insurmountable body of internal state literature, which if printed would amount to some 30,000 volumes, represents something new. Like the State Department, it cannot be grasped without breaking it open and considering its parts. But to randomly pick up isolated diplomatic records that intersect with known entities and disputes, as some daily newspapers have done, is to miss “the empire” for its cables.

    • Assange: What Wikileaks Teaches Us About How the U.S. Operates

      At the time of writing, WikiLeaks has published 2,325,961 diplomatic cables and other US State Department records, comprising some two billion words. This stupendous and seemingly insurmountable body of internal state literature, which if printed would amount to some 30,000 volumes, represents something new.

      Like the State Department, it cannot be grasped without breaking it open and considering its parts. But to randomly pick up isolated diplomatic records that intersect with known entities and disputes, as some daily newspapers have done, is to miss “the empire” for its cables.

      Each corpus has its size.

      To obtain the right level of abstraction, one which considers the relationships between most of the cables for a region or country rather than considering cables in isolation, a more scholarly approach is needed. This approach is so natural that it seems odd that it has not been tried before.

      The study of empires has long been the study of their communications. Carved into stone or inked into parchment, empires from Babylon to the Ming dynasty left records of the organizational center communicating with its peripheries.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife
    • Naomi Klein on climate change: ‘I thought it best to write about my own raw terror’

      Naomi Klein, the Canadian author, film-maker and social activist, will arrive in Australia this month for a series of events.

    • WTO Ruling Against India’s Solar Push Threatens Climate, Clean Energy

      The World Trade Organization (WTO) on Wednesday ruled against India over its national solar energy program in a case brought by the U.S. government, sparking outrage from labor and environmental advocates.

      As power demands grow in India, the country’s government put forth a plan to create 100,000 megawatts of energy from solar cells and modules, and included incentives to domestic manufacturers to use locally-developed equipment.

    • SeaWorld criticism surges online after Harry Styles speaks out, analysts report

      It’s hard to imagine Wall Street bankers worrying about what One Direction heartthrob Harry Styles thinks. But, it turns out at least some of them do.

      Bankers at Credit Suisse on Thursday warned that Styles had sparked a surge in negative sentiment towards SeaWorld, the controversial aquatic theme park, which is already suffering a collapse in profits.

      “Does anybody like dolphins?” Styles asked his fans during a concert in San Diego, home to one of SeaWorld’s biggest parks, last month. Following a roar from the crowd, he told them: “Don’t go to SeaWorld.” Styles’s comments were captured by hundreds of people, including Game of Thrones’ Maisie Williams, and spread across social media.

  • Finance
    • More Than 4,000 Died Within Six Weeks Of Being Deemed ‘Fit For Work’, Reveal Government

      More than 4,000 people died within six weeks of being found “fit for work”, the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has revealed.

      Figures released today show that between December 2011 to February 2014, 4,010 people died after being told they should find work following a “Work Capability Assessment”.

      Of that figure, 1,360 died after losing an appeal against the decision.

      Labour branded the figures a “wake-up call” for the Government, who has faced criticism for the way the assessment tests are carried out.

    • TTIP deal: Business lobbyists dominate talks at expense of trade unions and NGOs

      European Commission officials have held hundreds of meetings with lobbyists to discuss the proposed Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) treaty – yet only around one in ten is with public interest groups.

      The world’s biggest companies in finance, technology, pharma, tobacco and telecoms are dominating discussions with the EU executive body’s trade department responsible for the proposed EU-US free trade treaty, which could become the biggest such deal ever made.

    • Jeb Bush Hits Up Hedge Funds in the Hamptons

      Jeb Bush is visiting the Hamptons today on a lucrative fundraising tour, hitting up multi-billionaires like hedge fund manager Julian Robertson to support his 2016 campaign.

      According to invitations obtained by the Center for Media and Democracy, the events over the next few days include a coffee reception in the morning, and a brunch at 11, and an evening reception. The fundraisers in the wealthy New York beach community are officially organized by Bush’s 2016 campaign–even though many of the hosts and attendees have already reached the legal maximum on contributions to Bush’s primary election effort.

  • PR/AstroTurf/Lobbying
    • Phone hacking: CPS may bring corporate charges against Murdoch publisher

      The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) is considering bringing corporate charges against Rupert Murdoch’s British newspaper publisher over phone hacking, it has emerged.

      The Metropolitan police handed over a file of evidence on News International – now renamed News UK – to the CPS for consideration after an investigation that stretches back to 2011, when the News of the World was closed at the height of the scandal.

      “We have received a full file of evidence for consideration of corporate liability charges relating to the Operation Weeting phone-hacking investigation,” a spokeswoman confirmed.

      The file was transferred on 23 July and reignites the controversy for Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp, News UK’s parent company, which believed it had been through the worst and come out the other side after an eight-month trial of former News of the World journalists that concluded in June 2014.

    • On Fox, Rudy Giuliani Claims VA Shooter’s Suspected Mental Health Issues Went Unreported Because Of Equal Employment Regulations
    • Felicia Kornbluh on ‘Welfare Reform’ Anniversary

      Would that even that degree of critical consideration would be granted to the anniversary of another disaster for low-income communities of color: the move to “end welfare as we know it,” signed into law in August 1996 by Bill Clinton. If you don’t remember the media stampede — Black women having babies for government checks! Pregnant teenagers draining public resources! — that’s partly because elite media, having championed hard for the dismantling of the safety net, were markedly less interested in tracking the human fallout.

  • Censorship
    • United In Flight WiFi Blocks Popular News Sites

      So, just last month, we wrote about United Airlines idiotic inflight video system that forces you to install DRM on your own devices to watch a movie. And, now, it appears that the company is filtering out all sorts of news sites. The EFF’s Nate Cardozo was on a flight yesterday when he started noticing that he couldn’t get to certain tech websites, including Ars Technica and The Verge — instead receiving messages they were blocked due to United’s “access policy.” The same was true for political news site Daily Kos. Eventually he even realized that United also blocks the NY Times (via his phone after the laptop battery ran out).

    • Kimmel spices up the 2016 campaign with some creative censorship

      In this week’s installment of “Unnecessary Censorship,” Jimmy Kimmel Live uses its well-placed [bleeps] to make Trump’s bragging, Ted Cruz’s thoughts on political correctness, the Jeb Bush campaign’s plans, and a fan of President Obama all sound more vulgar than they were. In this week’s installment of “Unnecessary Censorship,” Jimmy Kimmel Live uses its well-placed [bleeps] to make Trump’s bragging, Ted Cruz’s thoughts on political correctness, the Jeb Bush campaign’s plans, and a fan of President Obama all sound more vulgar than they were.

    • Jimmy Kimmel censors Donald Trump on ‘This Week in Unnecessary Censorship’

      In the clip, the presidential candidate speaks to a crowd of his supporters, bragging about having a huge … something. Being bleeped twice makes whatever Trump is saying sound worse, and yet, oddly believable!

    • Tool Makes It Easier to Evade Online Censors

      He’s already talked with Tor developers about Marionette’s open-source code.

    • US bioethicist quits over censorship row at Northwestern University

      The edition had sparked controversy as it included a salacious account of a consensual sexual encounter between Syracuse University professor William J. Peace with a nurse in the 1970s, when he was an 18-year-old hospital patient.

    • Northwestern University bioethics professor resigns over censorship claim

      A Northwestern University professor has resigned her position at the Feinberg School of Medicine after, she said, her complaints of academic censorship were ignored.

      Alice Dreger, who worked part time as a clinical medical humanities and bioethics professor, initially complained in 2014 that the school dean removed a risque article from a website for the bioethics journal Atrium because of fear it would harm the school’s image.

    • Japan’s censorship of PlayStation 4 horror game Until Dawn is spectacularly bad 【Video】

      …Japan’s method of handling violent video game content can be quite perplexing at times.

    • How censors are keeping Chinese citizens in the dark about “Black Monday”

      …mentions of the country’s economic weakness were pretty much absent from major Chinese media reports.

    • VPN down: China goes after Astrill, other anti-censorship apps in run up to WW2 anniversary parade

      A number of services used to get around Chinese internet restrictions have been taken down or disrupted in the run up to a major parade in Beijing next week to mark the 70th anniversary of the end of the second world war.

      Popular virtual private network (VPN) provider Astrill warned users on Wednesday that they may suffer service outages between now and the parade on September 3.

      VPNs allow users to tunnel their internet traffic through an uncensored server, bypassing the so-called Great Firewall (GFW).

    • Besieged Malaysian PM Doubles Down on Online Censorship Ahead of Anti-Corruption Rally

      Last month we reported that the Malaysian government had censored the website of the Sarawak Report, which first broke news of the corruption allegations. A few days later, the government also suspended the publication licenses of two print publications that ran the same exposé.

    • Giving lip: censorship, subversion and the enduring power of the screen kiss

      The humble kiss has figured in its fair share of censorship debates over time. These debates have usually centred on whether the kiss should be represented at all, as well as a monitoring of the content and duration of the amorous scene.

    • North-South tension causes internet censorship in Korea: Is it justified?

      South Korea has the world’s fastest internet with connectivity clocked at 25.3MBps by Akamai Technologies last year. That’s over two times better than the 11.5MBps measured in the United States. Such a wired environment, coupled with wide internet use, seem optimal grounds to foster free, creative discussions among peers in a democracy.

    • DDoS attack hits GitHub after Chinese police force developer to remove code

      GitHub has fallen prey to a DDoS attack this week, allegedly perpetrated by Chinese actors, in response to tools available on the site that would help users circumvent censorship.

      On Tuesday the site found that it was under attack from malicious sources, following a similar tirade against the site in March of this year. This time, though, the attacks have been much more intense.

    • How censorship divides us

      Political correctness has made us more wary of one another.

    • Istanbul fest director steps down after censorship scandal

      Azize Tan has stepped down after nine years following protests over censorship at the latest edition in April, which led to the cancellation of the festival’s competitions and closing ceremony.

    • Egypt interferes with printing of three newspapers

      The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns a recent wave of newspaper censorship in Egypt. Three privately owned newspapers were prevented from going to print or into circulation because of content critical of President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, according to news reports.

    • CPJ denounces recent wave of newspaper censorship

      The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) condemned Tuesday the recent wave of newspaper censorship in Egypt, citing the new anti-terrorism law as the pretext for this phenomenon.

      Over the past two weeks, three newspapers were subjected to censorship, due to the presence of content critical of President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi.

      A Sout Al-Omma newspaper issue was confiscated on 14 August for containing reports on the health condition of President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi’s mother, as well as reports on a corrupt network of Mubarak-era figures.

    • A curious incident of censorship

      The book shows that differing opinions — and even vastly differing ways of thinking — exist and should be considered.

    • Trigger Warning Advocates Say They’re Not For Censorship

      Many of the responses to the article focus on the authors’ status as “rich, white-skinned and well-established men, who work at the moment in business-type jobs,” (though a lawyer working at a non-profit and a career academic might take issue with a few of those descriptors). Some accuse Lukianoff and Haidt of “hysteria,” “scaremongering,” and wanting to “silence discussions.” Others offered some nuance by conceding that trigger warnings “run the risk of students avoiding or disengaging the material out of fear of being triggered,” but think the threat to free expression in higher education is over-hyped.

    • Researchers create P2P Alibi Routing to avoid censorship and government surveillance

      University of Maryland researchers developed P2P Alibi Routing to allows users to choose where they do NOT want their packets to go, thereby avoiding ‘censorship of Internet traffic and suspicious boomerang routing.’

    • Takedown Resistant ‘Hydra Proxy’ Launches to Beat Censorship

      One year ago UK police noisily took down Immunicity, a site dedicated to providing access to blocked websites. To mark this anniversary a new platform titled Hydra Proxy has launched with the aim of providing a takedown resistant service for all. TorrentFreak caught up with its founder to learn more.

    • Censorship in Ridgefield

      Censorship often occurs because of power abuse, personal prejudice and ideological differences.

  • Privacy
  • Civil Rights
    • Associated Press sues FBI over fake news story

      The Associated Press filed a lawsuit (PDF) this morning, demanding the FBI hand over information about its use of fake news stories. The case stems from a 2007 incident regarding a bomb threat at a school. The FBI created a fake news story with an Associated Press byline, then e-mailed it to a suspect to plant malware on his computer.

      The AP sent a Freedom of Information Act request to the FBI last year seeking documents related to the 2014 sting. It also seeks to know how many times the FBI has used such a ruse since 2000. The FBI responded to the AP saying it could take two years or more to gather the information requested. Unsatisfied with the response, the Associated Press has taken the matter to court.

    • AP Sues FBI Over Impersonating An AP Reporter With A Fake AP Story

      Last fall, we wrote about how the FBI had set up a fake AP news story in order to implant malware during an investigation. This came out deep in a document that had been released via a FOIA request by EFF, and first noticed by Chris Soghoian of the ACLU. The documents showed the FBI discussing how to install some malware, called a CIPAV (for Computer and Internet Protocol Address Verifier) by creating a fake news story…

    • Fox Host Complains That NYPD Officers Have To Justify Their Stop-And-Frisks
    • How a Gun in a Suitcase Became a Permanent Ball and Chain

      For carriage of the gun, she was delivered to Rikers Island and charged with attempted criminal possession of a weapon and eventually posted a bail bond of $10,000. Appearing in court in Queens, she was told by a judge, she said, “‘This ain’t Texas; we don’t carry guns here.’”

    • Online identity theft to become a crime

      As of September 4, online identity theft will be illegal in Finland. Many people may soon find that even creating a fake social media profile can be considered a misdemeanour.

    • First State Legalizes Taser Drones for Cops, Thanks to a Lobbyist

      North Dakota police will be free to fire ‘less than lethal’ weapons from the air thanks to the influence of Big Drone.

      It is now legal for law enforcement in North Dakota to fly drones armed with everything from Tasers to tear gas thanks to a last-minute push by a pro-police lobbyist.

      With all the concern over the militarization of police in the past year, no one noticed that the state became the first in the union to allow police to equip drones with “less than lethal” weapons. House Bill 1328 wasn’t drafted that way, but then a lobbyist representing law enforcement—tight with a booming drone industry—got his hands on it.

      The bill’s stated intent was to require police to obtain a search warrant from a judge in order to use a drone to search for criminal evidence. In fact, the original draft of Representative Rick Becker’s bill would have banned all weapons on police drones.

    • Here’s What Actually Gets Terrorists To Tell The Truth — And It’s Not Torture

      Hollywood has a lot to answer for. Thanks to the hit TV show 24 and movies like Zero Dark Thirty, we think we know what terrorist interrogations look like: After being roughed up and threatened, the suspect breaks down and reveals all. Mass murder is thwarted. Osama Bin Laden is shot.

      The end, we tell ourselves, justifies the ugly means.

      Even after the abuses committed at CIA “black sites” were laid bare last year by the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee, most Americans stuck to this view. Some 59% believed the CIA’s harsh interrogation methods were justified, in a December 2014 poll run for the Washington Post and ABC News.

    • The UK Hits Moral Rock Bottom

      The conduct of the political class is utterly shameless. Meantime they indulge their fantasies of stripping workers of all protection and of stopping aid to the needy, and while the politicians gorge and gorge, the poor are quietly being slipped away to die.

    • Beware of Chilcot

      I am worried that the continued delay in the publication of Chilcot’s report is giving rise to expectations that it will be forthright and damning of Blair and his supporters. Nothing could be further from the truth. Even though Blair plunged us into an illegal war with dreadful long-term consequences, the report has always been designed to be a typical Whitehall fudge. Mistakes made – errors of judgement – all in good faith – lessons learned. You don’t have to wait for it, that is it.

      The Chilcot team was handpicked by Gordon Brown – himself up to his neck in guilt for the illegal invasion – and three of the five had been aggressive proponents of the war. The remaining two, Chilcot and Baroness Prasad, are “sound” for the Establishment. Let me remind you of my analysis of the committee members in 2009. Sir Lawrence Freedman was an active propagandist for the invasion while Sir Martin Gilbert (died while contributing to the committee) was so enamoured of the invasion he compared Bush and Blair to Roosevelt and Churchill. Rod Lyne was actively involved in selling the WMD lies and arguably in danger of war crime accusation himself.

    • Katrina’s ‘Golden Opportunity’: 10 Years of Corporate Media Celebrating Disaster

      Americans love, above all, a narrative. Preferably a moral one, marked by a clear good and evil. For many so-called “school reformers,” the tragedy of Katrina, which marks its ten-year anniversary today, provided that narrative. Its stark before-and-after provided a clear A/B test as to the righteousness of their cause. Before was a “broken school system,” and after is a glossy, privatized education system.

      We’ll set aside the fact that this is largely a fantasy. Torture the data enough, and the “New Orleans miracle” can be teased out if one wants it enough. Despite studies and reporting showing otherwise, for the sake of this piece it doesn’t actually matter if radical post-Katrina New Orleans school reform was a “success,” a failure or somewhere in between. What is important is that so many corporatists think this “miracle” was not just an incidental positive but was, all things considered, worth it. Worth the 1,800 people killed and the 100,000 African-Americans permanently ejected from the city.

      The most popular examination of this pathology is, of course, from Naomi Klein, who coined the idea of the ”shock doctrine” in her 2007 book of the same name. In it, she explores how Katrina and other manmade and non-manmade disasters are exploited to rush through a radical right wing corporate agenda.

    • 10 Years After Hurricane Katrina, Media Need To See The Link Between Climate Change And Social Justice

      Ten years after Hurricane Katrina devastated the Gulf Coast, environmental justice advocates feel the time is long overdue for the media to start connecting the dots between climate change and social justice.

      There may be no clearer example of this intersection than in the impact and aftermath of 2005′s Hurricane Katrina. Between the devastating effects of the storm itself, and the decade-long effort to restore destroyed communities afterwards, the region’s African-American population has demonstrably suffered the most.

    • 13 Simple But Exciting Ways To Lose Your Citizenship In Tony Abbott’s Team Australia

      The government’s proposed citizenship stripping laws are about a lot more than taking citizenship off people who try to blow up a train. In fact, they may well rip away the rights of a vast range of people for a staggering number of reasons.

      We’ve gone though the expert responses to the bill – currently before a parliamentary inquiry – and picked out the best ways to see your citizenship disappear if you are a dual national.

      If you’re going to end up banished from Australia, you may as well have some fun doing it.

      Before we go on we should note that it’s not exactly clear how many dual nationals there are in Australia but if you’re one of them, this could soon apply to you. We’re looking at you, John Pilger… Germaine Greer, et al.

    • The Future of One-Party Rule in Singapore

      At the talk titled The Future of One-Party Rule in Singapore, Dr Chee spoke about the implications of one-party rule in the past, present and future and how the next general election will influence democratic politics in Singapore. Students and faculty posed questions after Dr Chee gave brief opening remarks, leading to a lively discussion in an already overflowing room of more than 100 members of the Yale-NUS community.

      [...]

      I am frustrated at how a country this economically advanced can be so socially backward, but to think about it, it is not surprising at all. With all that has been going down in recent years (e.g. Amos Yee, the National Library Board penguin saga), the world is looking at us. What Singapore needs right now is for people in power to put their foot down and say, “Hey, this is wrong, and I’m going to fight for what is right.” Unfortunately, at the end of the day, elections are a race for votes, and few are willing to risk losing votes this way. After all, the less people you piss off, the higher the chances you have at winning. We need social change, and we need it now. Yet how can we ever have real change if advocating for it only puts people off or gets you shut down?

  • Intellectual Monopolies
    • Trademarks
      • Armors, Glory and… religion in a US trade mark clash

        Regardless of spelling, Armor&Glory’s market impact appears minimal. According to the story, “it has so far made less than $100,000 in revenue since 2013 — about 0.003 percent of Under Armour’s sales just last year. The company’s online store sells $20 shorts and $25 shirts designed largely for a core Christian audience, with slogans like “Be spiritually attractive” and ‘Put on God’s armor and receive His glory.’”.

    • Copyrights
      • Piracy: Hollywood’s Losing a Few Pounds, Who Cares?

        Following news this week that a man is facing a custodial sentence after potentially defrauding the movie industry out of £120m, FACT Director General Kieron Sharp has been confronted with an uncomfortable truth. According to listeners contacting the BBC, the public has little sympathy with Hollywood.

      • Pirate Bay Founder Released From Jail But Immediately Re-Arrested

        Pirate Bay founder Gottfrid Svartholm was released from a Danish prison yesterday, only to be immediately re-arrested by police. The Swede is now expected to be extradited back to his home country where he will be returned to prison, but not before appearing in court today to appeal the decision.

      • Tech Giants Want to Punish DMCA Takedown Abusers

        The CCIA, which represents global tech firms including Google, Facebook and Microsoft, has published an extensive research paper on the future of copyright in the digital landscape. One of the main suggestions is to extent current copyright law, so that senders of wrongful DMCA takedown notices face serious legal consequences.

      • Facebook Wants to Crack Down on Pirated Videos

        Facebook says it will give video creators and publishers a way to remove copyrighted videos that have been uploaded to its popular social network without the proper permission.

Microsoft Loves Linux to Death and Still Tries to Kill GNU/Linux

Thursday 27th of August 2015 04:17:31 PM

This is what Microsoft staff distributes to attendees in FOSS events:


Photo credit: Neil McAllister

Summary: Microsoft’s relentless attacks on GNU/Linux and Free software in general (even if it runs on Windows) are so evident that claims of ‘love’ remain laughable at best (if not infuriating)

MICROSOFT JUST CANNOT HELP itself. It’s like a scorpion riding a tortoise over a river. It keeps attacking GNU/Linux while claiming that it “loves Linux”. The truth is, Microsoft loathes Linux with a deep passion, but it doesn’t want to show this because it needs to infiltrate Linux events such as LinuxCon. It’s a strategy of entryism. It’s really ugly.

Imagine Microsoft having Linux folks as its keynote guests/speakers in its developers’ events, preaching passionately in favour of Free software (GPL for instance). Microsoft keeps infiltrating every single Linux event that matters. Microsoft is paying for it and it knows that it’s annoying people who pay a lot of money to attend (or whose employers are sponsors). Microsoft runs many developers’ events. Imagine Linux ‘infiltrating’ these. That would be entryism in reverse. But FOSS doesn’t play dirty. We leave the crimes and the unethical deeds to Microsoft.

Several days ago someone wrote to point out that Microsoft speaks nonsense and spread FUD again. To quote:

The giant from Redmond must be desperate since it has to use a controversial story from a relatively small Italian city to combat open source software, as in the mean time many larger deployments also in Italy are happy with LibreOffice and the numbers produced by Provincia di Perugia prove the opposite of the Microsoft-publication.

As Robert Pogson put it: “Why do they keep spreading it? Every time they get caught lying they destroy their own credibility amongst their loyal followers, if there are any left…”

Microsoft and its goons recently spread some more lies about Munich, using media partners which took the words of just two people and made that seem like the whole of Munich was upset with GNU/Linux. “Most people don’t really realize that they have Linux and they do not really care,” wrote Mr. Heath yesterday [1]. He was the first person who wrote a story about this in English, foreseeing and properly preparing for Microsoft’s FUD attacks (Microsoft advocacy sites soon took the story out of context to lie about Munich).

Susan Linton, writing her daily column, said that “everyone reading of this knew that couldn’t be entirely right and today Heath reported, “the bulk of users have not taken issue with the move.” He quoted Munich IT developer, Jan-Marek Glogowski, at DebConf15 saying, “Most people don’t really realize that they have Linux and they do not really care, they want to do their stuff.” That’s not to say there aren’t issues and growing pains, primarily keeping up with hardware support with LTS Ubuntu-base, but plans are to keep forging ahead. Robert Pogson linked to the actual video from DebConf15.”

So basically we have just Microsoft FUD going on. Here is a new article that is just more utter lies, maybe ‘prepared’ propaganda from Microsoft (misleading, inaccurate) [2]. They have totally made up the ‘facts’ to sell people the illusion that GNU/Linux is a failure. It’s that same old tired Munich lobbying from Microsoft Germany. As Pogson noted:

Lately, in the news, we read that agitators are still pushing to roll back GNU/Linux desktops.

They really are just “agitators”; there are only 2 of them at the moment, but they are joined by Microsoft spinners who have access to newspapers and/or news sites. “Munich councillors want to return to proprietary software,” wrote Gijs Hillenius in the European press, but we are speaking about just “two councillors [who] have not yet responded to emails seeking their position on interoperability” (if they know what it is at all, as they’re non-technical). Maybe they need to ask Microsoft Germany.

This headline, “Munich Officials Who Dumped Windows For Linux Want Microsoft’s OS Back” [3], is also a lie because it’s not the same officials, there’s no change of mind, there are just 2 dissenting voices.

This latest round of anti-GNU/Linux FUD is not something that we are unfamiliar with. We wrote dozens of in-depth articles about this. Munich is a large-scale migration and as we showed in previous years, Microsoft usually orchestrates this FUD behind the scenes. Sometimes some information leaks out to the media, showing Microsoft’s role in it (occasionally through proxies like HP). All we have here is a PR exercise, not news.

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. Here’s the one ‘major problem’ facing Munich after switching from Windows to Linux

    In spite of complaints from a couple of councillors about the Limux OS, the city council said the bulk of users have not taken issue with the move.

    “Most people don’t really realize that they have Linux and they do not really care,” said Jan-Marek Glogowski, a developer in the IT team at the City of Munich told the DebConf Debian developers meeting earlier this month.

  2. Report: 1 major Linux migration that went awry

    Whatever the case, the city of Munich will have to wait it out for another year at least. According to The Inquirer, a review and subsequent response into the future IT policy will not take place until the end of 2016.

  3. Munich Officials Who Dumped Windows For Linux Want Microsoft’s OS Back

Censorship, Self-Censorship and Intimidation Now the Modus Operandi at EPO

Thursday 27th of August 2015 03:51:03 PM

Summary: The European Patent Office has ceased even trying to pretend that it respects human rights, including the right to free speech

Staff suicides at the EPO are a frequent occurrence [1, 2, 3] as the last/latest one was just a week ago. This can reasonably well be blamed on a regime of terror, led by the arrogant, Napoleonic Battistelli. He rules with an iron fist and violates many rules, laws, regulations, etc. There’s no real protection from a thug like him who pretends to be above the law (impunity), so people are rightly afraid. It’s the same with armed policemen who destroy video evidence and do as they wish, basically acting like unaccountable goons.

Worst among all is probably Battistelli’s so-called Investigation Unit, which is basically just a bunch of goons, who even hire the ‘British Blackwater’ to go after staff and after journalists. Just for the uninitiated, who haven’t been following what we covered here before, here are some reminders:

“The Office continues to filter emails sent to EPO staff and containing the word SUEPO in the subject,” SUEPO wrote on the 26th of this month (an update titled “Filtering of SUEPO emails”). It’s not exactly surprising anymore. The EPO is nuts, so this is expected. “A SUEPO lawyer addresses Mr Battistelli,” wrote SUEPO, “by pointing out the legal implications and requests the end of the filtering. A copy of the letter can be found here.”

In a very crude, undemocratic fashion they do not just try to completely gag opposition, even if that opposition is the staff union, i.e. EPO staff rather than outsiders. For the record, here is the text of this complaint from SUEPO (it’s in German, so translations would be well received)

Patent Practitioners: “The Unitary Patent Might be Able to Open the Floodgates for Software Patents in Europe”

Thursday 27th of August 2015 03:40:10 PM

The US patent system may be getting exported to Europe (a silent occupation), without even consulting European citizens on this matter

Summary: The EPO-backed Unitary Patent scheme threatens to bring software patents to Europe and along with them a lot of patent trolls from all around the world (especially the United States)

“The Unitary Patent might be able to open the floodgates for software patents in Europe,” says this new analysis, published earlier today in a lawyers’ site. It echoes many of the warnings from the likes of FFII, among other European groups that have repeatedly warned about the Unitary Patent (UPC).

“It echoes many of the warnings from the likes of FFII, among other European groups that have repeatedly warned about the Unitary Patent (UPC).”The long piece is titled “The Murky Waters Of Software Patents” and it’s not as positive as one might expect. Given the publication it comes from (pro-patents), it’s hardly surprising at all. “Software patents,” says the author, “have been the subject of much debate – not only in the US, but also in Europe. This has been a thorny issue for many years and the future of software patents still remains unknown. At the outset, a breakdown of the differences between patents and copyrights will highlight why the patent is the form of intellectual property which is proving to be the most problematic with regards to software.”

The author later alludes to Alice, which we may write a lot more about tomorrow. “In the US,” he says, “software patents have been in existence since the early 1970s, but courts have recently started to reject software patents. The courts have ruled that simply “doing something on a computer” does not enable one to obtain a software patent on the matter. After hundreds of thousands of patents being issued, it became clear that there needed to be more restriction and the courts have recently been invalidating patents that were already granted. In 2014, in the landmark Alice Corp judgment, the courts stated “the mere recitation of a generic computer cannot transform a patent ineligible abstract idea into a patent eligible invention.” Thus the US is now retreating from its original position of granting software patents somewhat liberally.”

Then the author writes about Europe, in particular about the effects of the UPC. “The Unitary Patent,” he explains, “is a very recent brainchild of the European Patent Office. Through one single request, one will be able to obtain patent protection in 25 member states (Spain, Italy and Croatia are not currently participating). This patent will be subject to the exclusive jurisdiction of the Unitary Patent Court, which will comprise of a court of first instance, a court of appeal and a registry.

“The rulings of this court will affect the Member States who have ratified the agreement. The EPO hopes that the establishment of the court will add to more predictability in proceedings and avoid parallel litigation. Since all unitary patents will thus have their own court, there is also an expectation of faster and more efficient procedures than if these were to be held in the relevant Member States. So far, seven Member States have ratified the agreement – and Malta was among the first to do so. It will come into force once it has been ratified by thirteen states, which is expected to be around 2016. Nevertheless, the position of software patents under this new patent system will remain to be seen. When it comes into force, it will lay the cornerstone for more debate on the subject – as being able to achieve a unitary software patent will mean that it will automatically be recognized in all the Member States.

“The Unitary Patent might be able to open the floodgates for software patents in Europe, since if it allows for software patents, they will become immediately applicable in all the EU Member States. The same might be said for the contrary – however, the fact that the EPO allows for a Unitary Patent court of appeal means that this discussion might go on for years to come.”

Another site of patent lawyers now informs us of “Progress on the Unitary Patent”. It says that “[o]n 10 July 2015, the Preparatory Committee (which handles all the subsidiary issues arising from the creation of the Unified Patent Court (“UPC”), such as HR or IT management) met to discuss the last (18th) draft of the Rules of Procedure for the UPC. They are expected to reach an agreement on a final set of Rules in October 2015.

“The draft Protocol on Provisional Application of parts of the Agreement on a Unified Patent Court was also on the agenda as well as the salary package of the judges, the privileges and immunities of the UPC and the division of costs and responsibilities.”

According to this, Portugal too has caved in without even consulting or liaising with its citizens. What a coup!

“Confirmation of Portugal’s ratification of the UPC Agreement was published on 6 August 2015,” says a site about the UPC, “in the country’s Official Gazette of legislation. In the Diário da República Eletrónico, the Decree of the President of the Republic No. 90/2015 indicated that Aníbal Cavaco Silva had approved the UPC Agreement on 30 July 2015 following Parliament’s approval (No 108/2015) on 10 April 2015; a certified copy of the original UPC Agreement was also published in English and Portuguese. See here.”

Here in the UK as well, without even consulting citizens, the government is now preparing for the UPC. Nobody voted for it. This just serves to show how undemocratic the European Union has become, possibly even worse than the EPO alone.

What happens here is similar to what happens in New Zealand right now [1, 2, 3], with persistent efforts to thwart the law (a law banning software patents) through all-encompassing ‘trade’ deals, effectively ‘laundering’ the law at the behest of rich and powerful people who collude in secret. In New Zealand, the loopholes for software patenting have thus far been similar to Europe’s “as such”.

Microsoft Lies About Vista 10 and Increases Microsoft Surveillance (Even Beyond Vista 10 and Into Android, Vista 7/8)

Thursday 27th of August 2015 03:16:24 PM

Bad Vista

Summary: Windows surveillance expands retroactively, making its way into platforms other than Windows and also expanding to predecessors of Vista 10

IN TERMS of sales and technical weaknesses, Vista 10 is a huge disaster, doing probably worse than its predecessor, which also did worse than the mythically ‘great’ Windows Vista. It really is a total disaster, but Microsoft employees won’t say this to the media for fear of personal retribution (firing).

“…Microsoft is putting Bing inside Cyanogen OS, not just from the company Cyanogen but also in OnePlus.”The unprecedented spyware problem is no longer limited to just Vista 10, so users of Windows on PCs are all affected. They should escape all of Windows as soon as possible because even older versions have spying features silently added to them. Well, this has actually been known for a while and we wrote about it several weeks ago. Now it appears as though more people become aware of it (the latest headline says “Updates Make Windows 7 and 8 Spy On You Like Windows 10″). Based on [1-3], Microsoft is putting Bing inside Cyanogen OS, not just from the company Cyanogen but also in OnePlus. This company, OnePlus, should dump Cyanogen OS, for reasons we covered here before [1, 2].

Mind this new article titled “Windows 10 automatically sends parents detailed dossier of their children’s internet history and computer use”. To quote just the opening paragraphs: “Windows 10 sends a weekly “activity update” on childrens’ internet browsing and computer history to parents, by default and without telling anyone. The feature could be dangerous as well as embarrassing, users have pointed out, allowing parents to watch everything their children do on the computer.

“Microsoft has become just a surveillance company and Windows the surveillance platform.”“The operating system sends a weekly note that includes a list of websites children have visited, how many hours per day they have spent on the computer, and for how long they have used their favourite apps, according to reports.”

Microsoft has become just a surveillance company and Windows the surveillance platform.

Vista 10 lies (“marketing”) now grow in lieu with Munich propaganda (anti-GNU/Linux myth-making, in order to scare CIOs who are fed up with Windows). Beware Microsoft’s fake vista 10 figures. These are being pushed by Microsoft into its boosters and moles in the media right now. The company has a long history gaming numbers to lie about number of ‘sales’ or ‘useds’ [sic]. Here is one Microsoft booster disseminating what it essentially Microsoft marketing with a sloppily-made image that cement the Big Lie (carving it in stone, within an image that cannot be edited for correction). “The only question,” wrote to us iopkh, “is how they are fiddling the stats.”

These claims are pulled directly from Microsoft, or rather, they are being pushed by Microsoft onto gullible journalists or complicit ‘journalists’. The author is a known Microsoft booster with history. Microsoft’s own figures hysterically debunk some early claims that the media cited a lot (between 45 million and 55 million ‘upgrades’ after 3 days). We warned that these were baseless claims from the rumour mill and Microsoft’s trolls army.

This time too we cannot trust the figures since they come from Microsoft. Based on how it has always gamed the numbers (‘sales’ not meaning actual sales or even users), we know these are lies. Look at web statistics from some of the more respected sources. Maybe 5% market share (or less) is what Microsoft’s latest beast has got at the moment, which given the price and other exceptional factors, is truly (and quite frankly) pathetic.

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. OnePlus Rolls Out Cyanogen OS 12.1 Based On Android 5.1.1 Lollipop To OnePlus One Users Via OTA Update
  2. OnePlus One Now Receiving Cyanogen OS 12.1 Based on Android 5.1.1 Lollipop
  3. [Update: New Links] Cyanogen OS 12.1 OTA Update (Based On Android 5.1.1) Now Available To Download For The OnePlus One

Another Suicide at the EPO, Fifth by Our Count

Thursday 27th of August 2015 02:36:12 PM

Summary: Yet another EPO member of staff has just committed suicide, leading to the inevitable question: how many people need to die before Battistelli and his minions are out of the Office for good?

THE EPO‘s management has been so rogue that suicides have been happening, as we previously covered in [1, 2, 3]. Any outsider would agree that this may be a sign of terrible, incompetent management that over-stresses staff and rules by fear, reigning by terror.

Hearing from sources that 5 people at the EPO have committed suicide under the Battistelli regime is going to motivate more activism against the EPO, including staff demonstrations. Staff at the EPO needn’t be suicidal or depression-leaning. Many employees — and examiners in particular — are highly qualified, often with Ph.D.-level degrees and many years of technical experience. Money is not an issue and these people are a lot smarter than their ‘boss’, Battistelli, who merely comes from a prestigious (expensive) French school and has plenty of powerful connections other than his cabal inside the EPO’s management.

“Yet another EPO employee committed suicide last week,” wrote a person to us. This person managed to secure possession of a note that Ciaran McGinley published and disseminated among all EPO staff this week. We have deleted the name of the dead person in order to respect the wishes of his family.

“Just watch how negative the work atmosphere has become.”“The note of Ciaran McGinley looks poetic,” said our source, “but it is highly hypocritical and cynical. The term suicide has been carefully omitted. The suicide rate has now become extremely worrying. This is the fifth suicide in 39 months during the mandate of Mr Battistelli. And it is the third one in the principal directorate of Mr McGinley since his appointment. Mr McGinley systematically refuses any independent investigation whether the workplace could have played a role in these tragedies. And his lyrical note would be sufficient to make his staff forget that they are told that they are overpaid and will soon be replaced by machines. Their professional pride has been completely destroyed.”

The EPO scandals are far from over. We have some exclusive stories about the EPO’s other abuses. They are lined up for publication next month and we are eager to expose corruption with more tenacity than before as the regime of Battistelli is costing more than just money (not to mention the harm to European citizens). Some people prefer not to live under it.

When Battistelli doesn’t just eliminate people by illegally ‘suspending’ them (like a house ban) he just turns out to be ruling by intimidation. That’s never a healthy way to manage. If some staff are opting to eliminate themselves rather than eliminate corrupt elements in the institution that employs them, who wins?

Just watch how negative the work atmosphere has become. It now including censorship, self-censorship, suspicion that ill staff are just lying to get a day off, and so on. This must end.

Below is the text of the message from Ciaran McGinley [PDF].

Our colleague ██████████ passed away

26.08.2015

A message of PD 2.1 Ciaran McGinley

Dear Colleagues,
By now, most of you will have been made aware of the unexpected passing away of our colleague ███████████. ██████, who was only 42 years old, leaves behind a wife and two young children. Our thoughts and deepest sympathy must, first and foremost, go to them. We have lost a colleague, a friend and a future leader. His family have lost something much more precious – a son, a husband and a father. I think I speak on behalf of everyone in PA when I express my shock and sadness about this tragic loss. His family have asked the EPO to be discreet and to respect what is a very private matter. We all therefore need to behave in a way that fully supports their wishes on this point. The best way to do this is to remember ██████ for how we at the EPO knew him – instantly likeable, open and always with a sincere, warm and caring smile.

Arrangements are currently being made for him to be flown home. The family has indicated that they prefer that the funeral takes place in a close, intimate circle. The family very much appreciate all the good wishes and expressions of sympathy, but they also want, and need, their privacy. The EPO social services have offered full support to the family as is usual in such tragic circumstances. Finally, I would like to take this opportunity to thank ████ OHS for the support she has offered and given to colleagues in the past two days – it has been much appreciated and I know that it will continue to be necessary in the coming weeks as we all try to get to terms with what has happened.

Ciaran McGinley

PD Patent Administration

Links 27/8/2015: ownCloud Desktop Client 2.0, Red Hat Downgraded

Thursday 27th of August 2015 01:45:25 PM

Contents GNU/Linux Free Software/Open Source
  • Google Hopes Open Source Will Give Its Cloud A Path To The Enterprise

    Instead, Google expects that becoming more open — and releasing more open-source software — will create a path for the company to make inroads into the enterprise. “Google has recognized that open is a better way of building,” McLuckie also noted. “We’ve come to admire the ability of the open-source community to drive innovation.”

    He argued that building out in the open not only allows it to build a better product for its customers, but also to enable faster integration cycles. In addition, having an open-source project that involves other companies also allows it to absorb the DNA of these companies into the product.

  • Like open source software, a book is more than its content

    Instead, we chose to partner with Harvard Business Review (HBR) Press. In many ways, HBR does for books what Red Hat does for open source software; it collaborates with creators and adds value to the products of these collaborations. Like any piece of open source software (such as Red Hat Enterprise Linux, for example), a book is far more than the content it contains. Like a software application, a book is a project with multiple stakeholders. It involves an agent that works to put the book on publishers’ radars. It involves an editorial team that reviews manuscripts and suggests improvements. And it involves a marketing team that decides how best to develop and target potential audiences.

  • Aligning Democratic Candidates with Open Source Software OSes

    A few days ago, I aligned Republican presidential hopefuls with open source Linux-based operating systems. Now, it’s the Democrats’ turn: If Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders et al. ran Linux, which distribution would they use? Read on for some perspective.

  • INSIGHT: Top 5 reasons why Open Source technology is the answer

    Organisations that can effectively harness people’s innate tendency to make their lives easier will be more likely to successfully develop software and applications that genuinely disrupt, or protect against disruption, as business needs dictate.

  • Software Development Environment Must Be Open, Says Red Hat

    The application development technology of the future must provide a framework for users to develop software quickly and get it to market fast.

    That’s according to Red Hat, who says open source technology is the answer.

    Red Hat says organisations that can effectively harness people’s innate tendency to make their lives easier will be more likely to successfully develop software and applications that genuinely disrupt, or protect against disruption, as business needs dictate.

  • 10 ways open source tech is changing the rules of the game

    In the last few years, open source software platforms such as Android have established themselves as essential catalysts for technology advances.

  • How Open Source Is Improving The Way Businesses Visualize Data

    It was recently reported that the Colorado-based startup SlamData is working on creating an enterprise version of its open source analytics platform. Their solution allows users to see and understand NoSQL data and this will now enable larger businesses to visualize data more effectively. The platform will enable large businesses to visualize semi-structured NoSQL data by adding proprietary security and management features to the main open source platform.

  • FCC Chairman Promises Open-Source Video-Conferencing Platform for ASL-Signing Callers

    FCC Chairman Tim Wheeler addressed the biannual meeting of the Telecommunications for the Deaf, Inc. (TDI) Conference in Baltimore on Thursday, with news of interest to anyone who works in assistive technologies.

  • For UNC scientists, open source is the way forward

    But scientists know they can manipulate those kinases to combat the disease. And chemical biologists at the University of North Carolina are leading an open source effort to unlock the secrets of kinase activity—secrets they say could pioneer a new generation of drug discovery.

  • How open source will power tomorrow’s tech unicorns

    With open source technology already powering business like Facebook, Google and Booking.com – and 70% of new apps – will it be the backbone of the next wave of unicorns?

  • A simple, scalable solution for storing and serving build artifacts

    Now we’re making Pinrepo open source on GitHub. There you can find all of the configuration stanzas and instructions to recreate it for yourself. It also includes a pypi release tool to release and maintain pypi packages. Check it out and let us know what you think! And, feel free to contribute back with your customizations and improvements.

  • Stephen Hawking’s Voice Is Now Open Source And Free To Download [Ed: Windows-only, Intel commercial as an ‘article’, exploiting a disabled person as the marketing logo]

    Currently, you’ll need a Windows machine to use ACAT. In the future, though, it would seem like this is exactly the kind of app that should be running on a smartphone, which is already bristling with cameras and sensors.

  • Markup lowdown: 4 markup languages every team should know

    When I ended my Doc Dish article about why you should use a rendered language for documentation, I told you that selecting a language was a matter for another day.

    Well another day has finally arrived.

    There’s no shortage of languages you can use for formatting and publishing your documentation, and your choice of language will depend on your project’s needs. In this article I’ll look at several different language options, ranging from the simplest to the most complex. It’s hardly an exhaustive list, so make the case for your favorite (or most hated) language in the comments.

  • Docs or it didn’t happen

    Many words have been written on community building, engagement, and retention. The discussion around community management is alive and kicking, with articles and blog posts everywhere about how to grow, support, and not mess up open source communities.

  • Events
    • Linux Plumbers Conference 2015

      Linux Plumbers 2015 finished up last Friday. Another great conference. The focus of Plumbers is supposed to be more problem solving/discussion and less talking/lecturing. To really get the most out of Plumbers, you need to be an active participant and asking questions or giving input. Plumbers was co-located with the group of conferences now run by the Linux Foundation. The fist day of Plumbers overlapped with the last day of Linux Con. This day was as bit more lecture focused like a regular conference. Even if Plumbers is typically a discussion conference, the talks I went to were all great.

    • Speakers and Agenda announced for Tizen Developer Conference 2015 Shenzhen

      The Tizen Developer Conference 2015 has been moved this year from San Francisco to Shenzhen, China, from September 17 to 18. This is the annual event that brings together open source and app developers who are interested in contributing to the growth of the Tizen ecosystem worldwide.

    • First Round of systemd.conf 2015 Sponsors

      We are happy to announce the first round of systemd.conf 2015 sponsors!

  • Web Browsers
    • Mozilla
      • Mozilla CEO threatens to fire person responsible for anonymous hate speech on Reddit

        An anonymous person complaining about “social justice bullies” at Mozilla will be fired if the person is discovered to be an employee, the company’s CEO said today. Speaking at Mozilla’s weekly public meeting, Mozilla CEO Chris Beard said Reddit user aioyama had “crossed the line” in a series of postings about women at the company, including recently departed community organizer Christie Koehler. In a series of tweets earlier this month, Koehler complained about Mozilla’s lack of diversity in the workplace and its failure to address accessibility issues.

      • SIMD in Rust

        For the last two months, I’ve been interning at Mozilla Research, working on improving the state of SIMD parallelism in Rust: exposing more CPU instructions in the compiler, and an in-progress library that provides a mostly-safe but low-level interface to that core functionality.

      • Rust Gains Greater SIMD Support

        A new SIMD scheme is now available in the latest nightly versions of the Rust programming language.

        Mozilla Research has been working on improving SIMD (Single Instruction Multiple Data) parallelism in Rust that’s simple to use.

  • SaaS/Big Data
  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice
  • CMS
  • Business
  • Funding
    • Eclipse seeks donations for open source development

      The Eclipse Foundation, best known for its Eclipse IDE, is moving into funding its open source projects via donations.

      Previously, all Eclipse development was done by individuals and organizations contributing their time. “Today, we are significantly lowering the barriers for companies and individuals to actively invest in the ongoing development of the Eclipse platform,” Eclipse Executive Director Mike Milinkovich said in a recent blog post.

    • Mirantis Raises Another $100 Million, This Time from Intel
  • BSD
    • Why FreeBSD should not adopt launchd

      I have been keeping an eye on NextBSD for some time, when it was initially just openlaunchd, an effort initially started by R. Tyler as a GSoC student in 2005 to, unsurprisingly, port the launchd system and service manager to FreeBSD. It was stalled for a long time until its revival in late 2013, but again moving very slowly.

      Around November of 2014 at the MeetBSD conference, Jordan Hubbard delivered a talk entitled “FreeBSD: The Next 10 Years,” which outlined a general desire for a more “event-driven” and unified configuration approach to FreeBSD, strongly implying the use of launchd as system bootstrap and service daemon, as well as other parts of the OS X low-level userspace.

    • LLVM 3.7 & Clang 3.7 Are Bringing Exciting Compiler Features, Improvements

      The LLVM 3.7 release is imminent so here’s our usual look at the new features/improvements for this open-source compiler stack. Complete OpenMP 3 support is a big one but there’s also many other big ticket items to find in this major compiler update.

    • LLVM 3.7′s Release Is Imminent

      The release of LLVM 3.7 is imminent.

      Days after preparing the 3.7-RC3 release, Hans Wennborg of Google has announced the release of 3.7-RC3.

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC
  • Public Services/Government
    • Umeå University computer club supports open source

      The Academic Computer Club at the Umeå University in Sweden is a major supporter of open source projects. ACC UMU hosts one of the popular free software mirrors, and is one of the official sponsors of the Debian open source software distribution, maintaining a few of the project’s servers. The club supports two more well-known projects, the Open and Free Technology Community (OFTC) and Freenode. Both projects provide communication facilities that benefit free software communities.s

    • How Scotland can protect itself from GCHQ spying by going open source

      One of the key lies out out in last years referendum was that we couldn’t exist securely without the British Security Services (the ones that brought you extraordinary rendition).

    • Digital Assembly developing list of digital rights for interaction with public agencies

      Citizens and businesses should have to provide basic information only once, eGovernment services should be user-friendly and intuitive, and users should be digitally literate in order to use online (public) services. These are the most important digital rights for citizens and businesses when interacting with public agencies, as identified by panellists and the audience at the workshop ‘Promoting e-society’.

  • Openness/Sharing
  • Programming
    • Facebook open-sources Hack code generator

      Hack is Facebook’s spinoff of the PHP language, working with the HHVM virtual machine. The library, meanwhile, generates code that is written into signed files to prevent undesired modifications. “The idea behind writing code that writes code is to raise the level of abstraction and reduce coupling,” Facebook said on its GitHub page for Hack Codegen.

  • Standards/Consortia
    • When everything’s a request for comments

      The Internet’s foundational documents are called “requests for comments” or “RFCs.” Published by the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF), the organization whose stated goal is “to make the Internet work better,” RFCs define and explain the operational standards by which our worldwide network of networks functions. In other words, they specify the rules everyone should follow when building and implementing new Internet technologies. Engineers working on the Internet discuss potential RFCs, debate their merits, then post their decisions online for anyone to read.

    • Centimeters and Points are the best [ODF]

      For example, when saving ODF with LibreOffice, the unit that is used for storage depends on the user preferences. This can lead to inconveniences and rounding errors. If I specify a margin of 1.25cm and send it to someone who has the preferences set to use inches, the margin will be stored as 0.4925in. When that number is converted back to centimeters, the value is 1.25095cm which is 1‰ more than the original value.

Leftovers
  • Angry Birds maker Rovio plans deep job cuts as profits fall

    Finland’s Rovio, maker of mobile phone game Angry Birds, forecast its earnings would fall for a third consecutive year and said it planned to slash up to 39 percent of its workforce to try to improve its prospects.

    Rovio has failed to create new hit games since the 2009 launch of Angry Birds, the top paid mobile app of all time, though it has tried to capitalise on its most successful brand by licensing its use on string of consumer products.

  • Google Express Workers Vote ‘Yes’ to Union, as Warehouses Plan to Shut Down

    On Friday afternoon, 151 warehouse and shipping workers for Google Express, the search engine’s delivery service, voted in favor of joining a union. Last month, workers at the Palo Alto, Calif., facility agreed to join Teamsters Local 853, which has unionized shuttle drivers for eBay, Apple, Yahoo and other companies.

  • Science
    • MIT creates file system that will survive unexpected crashes

      IT’S A SITUATION that will be familiar to most computer users. Your computer crashes, and when you manage to get it back up and running the disk has corrupted some data. Probably the bit that was vital and so new that it hadn’t been backed up yet.

  • Health/Nutrition
    • NYT: Not Believing in Climate Change Is Like Believing in Food Shortages

      Is rejecting climate science, though, really like having believed that unchecked population growth would lead to food shortages? Contrary to Leonhardt’s glib “it hasn’t,” food shortages are a serious problem in the world right now. According to the UN World Food Programme, “Some 795 million people in the world do not have enough food to lead a healthy active life…about one in nine people on Earth.” The WFP notes that about 3.1 million children die from malnutrition a year–and that one in four children on Earth are stunted by lack of food. That seems fairly widespread.

      Unlike climate change denial, which if anything has exacerbated the problem of global warming, warnings about overpopulation may have had the intended effect of curbing population growth. China’s draconian one-child policy was directly inspired by the warnings of limits-to-growth advocates like the Club of Rome, along with numerous less coercive family planning initiatives. Partially as a result of these programs, the global population growth rate declined from above 2 percent in the 1960s and early ’70s to close to 1 percent and falling today. Without this reduction in growth, the population would be about 2 billion higher today than its current 7.3 billion.

  • Security
    • Tuesday’s security updates
    • Security updates for Wednesday
    • Court rules FTC can prosecute companies over lax online security

      The Third Circuit US Court of Appeals in Philadelphia has ruled that the Federal Trade Commission does have the right to prosecute firms who mishandle their customers’ data.

      Between 2008 and 2009, hotel chain Wyndham Worldwide – which runs hotels under the Days Inn, Howard Johnson, Ramada, Super 8, and Travelodge brands – suffered three computer intrusions. The hackers stole the personal information and credit card numbers of over 619,000 customers, causing at least $10.6m in thefts.

    • The Basic Principles of Security (and Why They Matter)

      Yet, despite the frequent complaints about the unrealistic demands of security, today the problem is just as likely to be the insistence on convenience. With the rise of desktop Linux and the popularity of Android, the pressure to be as easy to use as Windows is almost irresistible. As a result, there is no question that the average distribution is less secure than those of a decade ago. That is the price we pay for automounting external devices and giving new users automatic access to printers and scanners — and will continue to pay.

    • GitHub combats DDoS cyberattack

      At the time, the code repository said the cyberattack involved “a wide combination of attack vectors,” as well as new techniques including the hijacking of unsuspecting user traffic to flood GitHub, killing the service.

    • Jails – High value but shitty Virtualization

      Virtualization is nothing new, and depending how fundamentalist you define “virtualized environment” one can point to the earliest of timesharing systems as the origin.

      IBM’s mainframe hardware, the 360 machine series, introduced hardware virtualization, so that it was possible to run several of IBMs different and incompatible operating systems on the same computer at the same time.

      It’s more than a little bit ironic that a platform which have lasted 50 years now, were beset by backwards-compatibility issues almost from the start, and even more so that IBMs patents on this area of technology prevented anybody else from repeating their mistake for that long.

      Everybody else did software virtualization.

    • How to crack Ubuntu encryption and passwords

      During Positive Hack Days V, I made a fast track presentation about eCryptfs and password cracking. The idea came to me after using one feature of Ubuntu which consists in encrypting the home folder directory. This option can be selected during installation or activated later.

    • AT&T Hotspots: Now with Advertising Injection

      While traveling through Dulles Airport last week, I noticed an Internet oddity. The nearby AT&T hotspot was fairly fast—that was a pleasant surprise.

      But the web had sprouted ads. Lots of them, in places they didn’t belong.

    • Advertising malware rates have tripled in the last year, according to report

      Ad networks have been hit with a string of compromises in recent months, and according to a new report, many of the infections are making it through to consumers. A study published today by Cyphort found that instances of malware served by ad networks more than tripled between June 2014 and February 2015, based on monthly samples taken during the period. Dubbed “malvertising,” the attacks typically sneaking malicious ads onto far-reaching ad networks. The networks deliver those malware-seeded ads to popular websites, which pass them along to a portion of the visitors to the site. The attacks typically infect computers by exploiting vulnerabilities in Adobe Flash, typically triggered as soon as an ad is successfully loaded.

    • How security flaws work: the buffer overflow

      The most important central concept is the memory address. Every individual byte of memory has a corresponding numeric address. When the processor loads and stores data from main memory (RAM), it uses the memory address of the location it wants to read and write from. System memory isn’t just used for data; it’s also used for the executable code that makes up our software. This means that every function of a running program also has an address.

    • Lessons learned from cracking 4,000 Ashley Madison passwords

      When hackers released password data for more than 36 million Ashley Madison accounts last week, big-league cracking expert Jeremi Gosney didn’t bother running them through one of his massive computer clusters built for the sole purpose of password cracking. The reason: the passwords were protected by bcrypt, a cryptographic hashing algorithm so strong Gosney estimated it would take years using a highly specialized computer cluster just to check the dump for the top 10,000 most commonly used passwords.

  • Defence/Police/Secrecy/Aggression
    • UN Official Says Human Suffering in Yemen “Almost Incomprehensible”

      With a staggering four in five Yemenis now in need of immediate humanitarian aid, 1.5 million people displaced and a death toll that has surpassed 4,000 in just five months, a United Nations official told the Security Council on August 19 that the scale of human suffering is “almost incomprehensible”.

      Briefing the 15-member body upon his return from the embattled Arab nation on Aug. 19, Under-Secretary-General for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs Stephen O’Brien stressed that the civilian population is bearing the brunt of the conflict and warned that unless warring parties came to the negotiating table there would soon be “nothing left to fight for”.

      An August assessment report by Save the Children-Yemen on the humanitarian situation in the country of 26 million noted that over 21 million people, or 80 percent of the population, require urgent relief in the form of food, fuel, medicines, sanitation and shelter.

    • Media and Nuclear Deal Opponents Continue to Spread Debunked Myth Iran Will Monitor Itself

      There is no dearth of rumors about the Iran nuclear deal. In the latest scare, two allegations have filled the media: the first, that the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and Iran made “secret side deals”; the second, that the IAEA, in those negotiations, put the Iranian government in charge of investigating alleged nuclear research at its Parchin military base.

      The latter supposed exposé comes from a now-debunked story by Associated Press (8/19/15). The piece, in its first draft, was full of errors and distortions (Vox, 8/20/15; War on the Rocks, 8/24/15). But its supposed revelations filled the airwaves.

    • The Iran Nuclear Deal: Give Diplomacy a Chance

      A war with Iran would be a catastrophe, yet by opposing diplomacy, hundreds of members of Congress may be blundering into just such a conflict. The Iran nuclear deal, as the complex diplomatic arrangement is popularly called, was agreed upon on July 14 by a consortium of key powerful countries, the European Union and Iran. The goal of the agreement is to limit Iran’s nuclear activities to peaceful purposes, and to block Iran’s ability to construct a nuclear bomb. Despite what its critics say, this agreement is not based on trust. It grants the International Atomic Energy Agency the power to conduct widespread, intrusive inspections to ensure that Iran keeps its many pledges. In return, many, but not all, of the sanctions on Iran, which have been crippling its economy, will be lifted.

      The alternative to diplomacy is to pour gasoline on a region of the world already on fire with intense, complex military conflicts. Iran’s military has more than half a million soldiers, no doubt with many more who could be mobilized if threatened with invasion. Iran shares a vast border to its west with Iraq, and to its east with Afghanistan, two nations with ongoing military and humanitarian disasters that have consumed the U.S. military since 2001, costing trillions of dollars and untold lives.

    • Autoplay Is for a G-Rated World

      Tragedy struck Bedford County, Virginia this morning when two journalists, Alison Parker and Adam Ward, were shot to death on live TV.

      The people viewing the broadcast at home had no choice but to watch the horror unfold, and neither did many social media users. Video of the shooting autoplayed on Twitter, Facebook (despite a content warning feature reportedly implemented in January), and other sites that support autoplay video.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife
    • Tourist Unclear On Concept Of Wild Animals Demands Yellowstone Provide Better Bears

      Mashable reports that the following note was left by a guest at Yellowstone and then posted on Reddit by a friend of someone who works at the park. The note was left upon checkout by someone who does not understand how wild bears work (they don’t fuck with you unless you’ve got a pool) but is nonetheless quite polite; it’s refreshing that they were so kind about their disappointment, unlike the woman who threatened to shit herself in anger at Town Hall when Disneyland didn’t have fireworks the last time I went.

    • Environmentalists Blast Obama’s Decision to Let Shell Drill in Arctic

      Apparently the president cares more about Big Oil than the environment, endangered animals, indigenous people — even his own climate legacy.

      [...]

      “This is a disaster,” said Kristin Brown, director of digital strategy at the League of Conservation Voters, in an email. “Shell has an awful safety track record — even the Interior Department says there’s a 75 percent risk of a large oil spill if these leases are developed, and in the unpredictable Arctic Ocean, cleanup would be next-to-impossible.”

    • ​The Nations That Will Be Hardest Hit by Water Shortages by 2040

      Water access is going to be one of the most pressing issues of the 21st century. As climate change dries out the already dry areas and makes the wet ones wetter, we’re poised to see some radical civilizational shifts. For one, a number of densely populated areas will come under serious water stress—which analysts fear will lead to strife, thirst, and even violent conflict. With that in mind, the World Resource Institute has assembled a new report projecting which nations are most likely to be hardest hit by water stress in coming decades.

  • Finance
    • Armando Iannucci urges BBC to monetise its programmes overseas and resist ‘prejudiced’ Tory attacks

      “If it was a car industry, our ministers would be out championing it overseas, trying to win contracts, boasting of the British jobs that would bring. And if the BBC were a weapons system, half the Cabinet would be on a plane to Saudi Arabia to tell them how brilliant it was,” he said.

    • Latest Seattle Jobs Numbers Disprove Fox’s Minimum Wage Misinformation

      New data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) disproves allegations promoted by Fox News that the 2015 increase in Seattle’s minimum wage has destroyed restaurant jobs.

    • The stock market roller coaster is not being felt by most Americans for one simple reason

      That’s because fewer people are invested in the stock market today than at any time in nearly the last two decades — the product of dogged wage stagnation and a dramatic loss of faith in markets.

    • Prof. Wolff speaks to The Big Picture’s Thom Hartmann about Market Meltdown

      Prof. Wolff talks to The Big Picture’s Thom Hartmann about Monday’s historic lows in the financial markets. Prof. Wolff breaks down China’s economy and if the devaluation of the yuan is the root to this market meltdown. Then Prof. Wolff and Thom take a look at the U.S. economy and review wage growth, inequality, and pensions.

    • The Stock Market Is Not the Economy

      We are seeing the usual hysteria over the sharp drop in the markets in Asia, Europe, and perhaps the US. (Wall Street seems to be rallying as I write.) There are a few items worth noting as we enjoy the panic.

      First and most importantly, the stock market is not the economy. The stock market has fluctuations all the time that have nothing to do with the real economy. The most famous was the 1987 crash, which did not correspond to any real-world bad event that anyone could identify.

    • WSJ Editorial Blames Progressives For Student Debt, Claims Government Loans Send “Deadbeats” To College
    • Fox Exploits Stock Market Turbulence To Push GOP Policies, Major Tax Cuts

      On August 24, major stock markets in the United States opened their trading sessions with significant declines and sustained losses of 3 to 5 percent throughout much of the morning. Fox News used the event to advocate on behalf of numerous failed Republican policy demands, such as major tax cuts for the wealthy and a significant roll back of federal regulations.

    • Sanders Sends Letter to Postmaster General
    • ‘Suicide guidance’ given to benefits staff preparing for desperate calls on welfare reform

      GUIDELINES on how to deal with suicidal benefits claimants have been handed out by the Department for Work and Pensions to Scots workers tasked with rolling out the UK Government’s controversial welfare reforms.

      As part of a six-point plan for dealing with suicidal claimants who have been denied welfare payments, call-centre staff in Glasgow have been told to wave the guidance, printed on a laminated pink card, above their head.

      The guidance is meant to help staff dealing with unsuccessful applicants for Universal Credit who are threatening to self-harm or take their own life.

      A manager is then meant to rush over to listen in to the call and workers – who insist they have had no formal training in the procedure – must “make some assessment on the degree of risk” by asking a series of questions.

      One section of the six-point plan, titled “gather information”, demands that staff allow claimants to talk about their intention to commit suicide.

      The call-centre workers, who earn between £15,000 and £17,000 a year, must “find out specifically what is planned, when it is planned for, and whether the customer has the means-to-hand”, according to the guidance seen by the Sunday Herald.

  • PR/AstroTurf/Lobbying
  • Censorship
  • Privacy
    • The Illusion of Online Privacy

      As the Ashley Madison hack demonstrated, Web companies can’t guarantee privacy.

    • Almost None of the Women in the Ashley Madison Database Ever Used the Site

      When hacker group Impact Team released the Ashley Madison data, they asserted that “thousands” of the women’s profiles were fake. Later, this number got blown up in news stories that asserted “90-95%” of them were fake, though nobody put forth any evidence for such an enormous number. So I downloaded the data and analyzed it to find out how many actual women were using Ashley Madison, and who they were.

    • Here’s what Ashley Madison members have told me

      As someone said to me in one of the comments on my blog, trying to remove your data from the web is “like trying to remove pee from a swimming pool”. I added the DMCA comment in there as well because this has come up many times in the press. There’s a good piece on it in an article that emerged after news of the attack first broke last month (paradoxically, stating that DMCA is the reason the full data hadn’t been leaked), do read Parker Higgins’ comment about the “fraudulent” use of the act in terms of its’ use for removing data breaches. Regardless, a US law will in no way stop the mass distribution of this data, particularly via a decentralised mechanism like torrents.

    • Digital surveillance ‘worse than Orwell’, says new UN privacy chief

      The first UN privacy chief has said the world needs a Geneva convention style law for the internet to safeguard data and combat the threat of massive clandestine digital surveillance.

      Speaking to the Guardian weeks after his appointment as the UN special rapporteur on privacy, Joseph Cannataci described British surveillance oversight as being “a joke”, and said the situation is worse than anything George Orwell could have foreseen.

      He added that he doesn’t use Facebook or Twitter, and said it was regrettable that vast numbers of people sign away their digital rights without thinking about it.

    • Canada’s Police Want Laws That Will Give Them ‘Real Time’ Access to Your Data

      Thanks to a recent Supreme Court decision, Canadian cops need a warrant before they can get subscriber information from telecommunication companies—which is why police are now lobbying for a legal workaround so they can access that same information without court approval.

      In 2014, the Supreme Court of Canada decided that subscriber information such as names and addresses carries with it a reasonable expectation of privacy, and that accessing such information without a warrant constitutes an unlawful search. The ruling has caused “substantial resource and workload challenges for law enforcement,” according to a resolution adopted by the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police (CACP) at its annual convention in August.

    • Vint Cerf Echoes Widespread Concerns About the Internet of Things

      According to a study from HP Security Research, 70 percent of the most widely used Internet of Things devices have notable security vulnerabilities.

    • Facebook promotes Scheeler to managing director

      Facebook has promoted Stephen Scheeler to the role of managing director of its Australia and New Zealand region business.

    • 9 steps to make you completely anonymous online

      The default state of Internet privacy is a travesty. But if you’re willing to work hard, you can experience the next best thing to absolute Internet anonymity

    • Everybody Hates When You Use Your Phone at Dinner

      It’s official: using your cell phone during a family dinner is frowned upon by pretty much everybody.

      A new survey by Pew Research Center found that 88% of respondents believe it’s “generally” not OK to use a cell phone during dinner. An even larger percentage, 94%, say cell phone use is inappropriate during meetings, while 95% say they shouldn’t be used at theaters and 96% say they shouldn’t be used during religious services.

    • Abe Asks U.S. to Investigate Alleged NSA Spying on Japanese Government

      Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Wednesday asked U.S. President Barack Obama to investigate alleged spying by the National Security Agency on the Japanese government and companies, Mr. Abe’s spokesman said.

    • Concerns new Tor weakness is being exploited prompt dark market shutdown
    • IBM Tells Companies To Block Tor On Security Grounds

      Tor is increasingly being used to scan organisations for vulnerabilities and to launch attacks

      The Tor anonymisation network is increasingly used as the point of origin of attacks on public- and private-sector organisations, according to a new report by IBM, which recommends administrators ban access to the network.

      The report also noted increases in SQL injection and distributed denial-of-service attacks and of “ransomware” incidents that encrypt data belonging to an individual or an organisation, and then charge a fee to decrypt it.

    • UN privacy rapporteur invokes Orwell and calls for global digital privacy

      UN PRIVACY RAPPORTEUR Joseph Cannataci has suggested – and he is not the first – that citizens need better data protection from technology companies, governments, the internet, heck the 21st century.

      Cannataci, who assumed the position last month after a 29-person battle royal/interview process, has made it clear that, as a representative for privacy, he will represent privacy.

    • Ashley Madison faces proposed class-action lawsuit over half-deleted data

      After a breach of the site’s database, people combing through the information found that Ashley Madison, and other properties owned by parent company Avid Life Media (ALM), had retained quite a bit of information pertaining to users who purchased a “full delete” of their profile for £15, including GPS coordinates, date of birth, gender, ethnicity, weight, height, among other details. Although e-mail addresses, phone numbers, and descriptions written by users who sought “full deletes” were eliminated by the time the hackers accessed the database, the incidental data that Ashley Madison kept on those users could still paint quite a picture. The Register has a table that nicely illustrates what information Ashley Madison kept on “deleted” users and what it actually deleted.

      In addition, when Ars investigated the “full delete” option on Ashley Madison a year ago, we found that there was little difference between a “full delete” and the “hiding your profile” option, except that messages that a user sent to another user would be deleted if exiting users paid the fee.

  • Civil Rights
    • Former head of the Army leads the calls for translators to be given safe haven in Britain

      Generals, decorated war heroes, grieving families and politicians last night urged soldiers and members of the public to sign a petition to save Afghan interpreters from the Taliban.

      General Sir Richard Dannatt, former head of the Army, led the calls as he pledged to sign a petition asking David Cameron to give all translators a safe haven in Britain.

      He praised the Daily Mail for its Betrayal of the Brave series of articles highlighting the plight of frontline Afghans who risked their lives for UK troops in the battlefield.

      He said: ‘We have a moral obligation to look after these people and if they feel once we have left that they cannot assume their normal lives because of fear having worked for us, then it is our obligation to have them in this country.

    • Saudi Arabia executed 175 people in past year, says Amnesty International

      On average, one person every two days was put to death in kingdom, says new report, with figures for 2015 already ahead of those for whole of last year [...] on average one person every two days [...] Saudi courts allow for people to be executed for adultery, apostasy and witchcraft.

    • Instead of Releasing Dashcam, Cops Hire PR Firm to Help Cover Up Murder of Unarmed Teen

      A former police captain recently signed an affidavit affirming that several formal reprimands are missing from the personnel file of the officer who killed a 19-year-old during a marijuana bust. Although the police chief claims that no disciplinary actions have been taken against the officer, his former supervisor lists multiple performance issues resulting from the officer’s negligence. In an attempt to improve public relations, city officials have hired a PR firm at the expense of taxpayers’ dollars instead of releasing the dash cam videos of the shooting.

    • Woman ‘too drunk to fly’ after downing hundred-pound bottle of cognac airport security officials attempted to confiscate

      A woman reportedly downed a £120 bottle of cognac after airport security officials attempted to confiscate the liquid – only to be denied boarding as she was “too drunk to fly”.

      The woman, who is being identified only by her surname of Zhao, was allegedly seen rolling about on the floor of Beijing Capitol International Airport, according to the Beijing Times.

    • Feds’ cyberbullying reverses cops’ convictions for shooting unarmed people

      In the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Katrina back in 2005, five former New Orleans police officers were sentenced to six to 65 years in prison in connection to on-the-job deadly shootings of unarmed civilians. But recently, these five officers had their convictions set aside by a federal appeals court. Why? Federal prosecutors’ anonymous online comments posted underneath local news accounts of the officers’ ongoing 2011 trial “contributed to the mob mentality potentially inherent in instantaneous, unbridled, passionate online discourse,” the court said. In light of that, the appellate court found a fair trial wasn’t possible.

      The New Orleans-based 5th US Circuit Court of Appeals ruled last week (PDF) that the prosecutors’ behavior, unearthed by the same forensic expert who helped identify the Unabomber, created an “air of bullying” that federal prosecutors were “sworn to respect.”

    • Virginia Police Force BBC Reporters To Delete Camera Footage Of Police Pursuit Of Shooter

      …apparently two BBC reporters who were covering the police pursuit of the apparent shooter (who then shot himself) were forced by police to delete their own camera footage. This is illegal. I don’t know how many times it needs to be repeated. Even the DOJ has somewhat forcefully reminded police that they have no right to stop anyone from photographing or videotaping things, so long as they’re not interfering with an investigation.

    • Is using your mobile phone in public ruder than you think?

      Some 23% of Americans think it’s not OK to use your phone while walking down the street, but that’s nothing compared to how they feel about the cinema or church

    • Katrina: The Logic of Genocide

      The very upscale New Yorker magazine marked the tenth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina with a celebration of the benefits that supposedly accrued to the 100,000 mostly Black and poor people forced into exile from New Orleans. “Starting Over,” by magazine staff writer Malcolm Gladwell, a biracial Canadian who made his bones promoting the hyper-aggressive “broken windows” police strategy, concludes that involuntary displacement is a good thing for people who are stuck in “bad” neighborhoods or bad cities where poverty is high and chances for upward mobility are low. Since every heavily Black city in the country fits that description, the logic is that Black people should be dispersed to the four winds and prevented from forming concentrated populations.

  • Internet/Net Neutrality
    • Google Lobbied Against Real Net Neutrality In India, Just Like It Did In The States

      While Google is still seen as (and proclaims to be) a net neutrality advocate, evidence continues to mount that this is simply no longer the case. Back in 2010 you might recall that Google helped co-write the FCC’s original, flimsy net neutrality rules with the help of folks like AT&T and Verizon — ensuring ample loopholes and making sure the rules didn’t cover wireless at all. When the FCC moved to finally enact notably-tougher neutrality rules for wired and wireless networks earlier this year, Google was publicly mute but privately active in making sure the FCC didn’t seriously address the problems with usage caps and zero-rated (cap exempt) content.

  • Intellectual Monopolies
    • Copyrights
      • Man tries to copyright a chicken sandwich, learns that that’s completely ridiculous

        In 1987, Norberto Colón Lorenzana had what we can all agree is a pretty unremarkable idea. Colón, who had just started working at a fast food joint called Church’s Chicken in Puerto Rico, suggested to his employer that they try adding a basic fried chicken sandwich to a menu that was mostly chicken-by-the-piece.

      • UK Police ‘Hijack’ Ads on 251 Pirate Sites

        Data obtained through a Freedom of Information request reveals that City of London Police have targeted the ad revenue of 251 suspected pirate sites, replacing their banners with anti-piracy messaging. The police won’t reveal the domain names as that would raise their profiles, but the most prominent pirate sites are believed to be included.

      • Megaupload Wants U.S. Govt to Buy and Store its Servers

        Megaupload’s legal team is asking the court to preserve essential evidence hosted on its seized servers. The data is at risk of being destroyed and Kim Dotcom’s lawyers argue that the authorities should buy the servers and transfer them to a safe facility where they can be preserved at the Government’s cost.

      • DIY Tractor Repair Runs Afoul Of Copyright Law

        John Deere would not talk on tape, but in an emailed statement the company said ownership does not include the right to modify computer code embedded in that equipment.

      • Carl Malamud Asks YouTube To Institute Three Strikes Policy For Those Who Abuse Takedowns

        We write frequently about those who abuse the DMCA either directly for the sake of censorship or, more commonly, because some are in such a rush to take down anything and everything that they don’t bother (or care) to check to see if what they’re taking down is actually infringing. The latter, while common, could potentially expose those issuing the takedowns to serious legal liability, though the courts are still figuring out to what extent.

Microsoft-connected Mesosphere Threatens to Eliminate Free Software in the Datacentre

Wednesday 26th of August 2015 01:00:51 PM

Data Center Operating System (DCOS) is a proprietary trap

“I’d be glad to help tilt lotus into into the death spiral. I could do it Friday afternoon but not Saturday. I could do it pretty much any time the following week.”

–Brad Silverberg, Microsoft

Summary: Hiding behind a misleading ‘open’ label while actually backed by Microsoft (and based on new rumours may join Microsoft), Mesosphere wishes to eradicate Free and back doors-free software in large datacentres hosting a lot of physical and virtual servers

WE have patiently been watching with great concern a company called Mesosphere. We have been watching it for quite some time, but have not yet properly covered it in Techrights (except incidentally). I personally complained about it many times in social media sites, not just because it’s backed by Silverberg (some Microsoft-centric publications call him “Mr. Windows” these days) but because it’s basically proprietary yet pretends to be ‘open’. It’s a big deception. Mesosphere is a parasite that has been often (and mostly) promoted by friends of Microsoft over the past year. Mesosphere is one of those companies that only people bribed by Microsoft (like Om Malik and his increasingly-defunct ‘news’ network) would actually openwash, excepting perhaps some gullible journalists who truly believe that there is genuine openness at Mesosphere or merely repeat what others are writing (the corrupting effect of manufactured hype).

Thankfully, Mesosphere is now showing its true colours, so we need not merely speculate or accuse Mesosphere with relatively weak evidence. Mesosphere has nothing to do with FOSS, except the fact that it wants to replace it with its own proprietary operating system. It can be viewed as a Microsoft Trojan horse with Microsoft veterans backing it — the same sorts of people who would distribute “Microsoft loves Linux” buttons (spreading a Big Lie) to help themselves devour the GNU/Linux market.

“Avoid Mesosphere, Mesos, and the Data Center Operating System (DCOS). Treat them as a creation of Microsoft, emanated silently to entrap the competition.”A Microsoft propaganda site (and by extension a network) recently showed Microsoft’s anti-Linux plan of entryism [1, 2], trying to make GNU/Linux just subservient to Windows, essentially demoting it. Other Microsoft propaganda sites did the same thing at the same time. Then we saw rumours that Microsoft was essentially ‘buying’ its own moles, just as it had done with Xamarin (now bankrolled by Microsoft veterans). All one has to do now is watch headlines from the financial press, for instance:

There are many more like the above, but we omit them for the sake of brevity.

I personally feel somewhat vindicated, having repeatedly accused Mesosphere of serving Microsoft’s agenda. I said the same about Mono about a decade ago, well before it officially became a sort of Microsoft adjunct in the form of Xamarin. These are more like moles. They serve as Microsoft’s bridge into the heart of the competition.

Mesosphere ought to be treated as a Trojan horse or a proprietary software company with Microsoft roots (intending to replace GNU/Linux at datacentres). It shows true colours with articles such as “Why Microsoft Could Reportedly Want To Buy Cloud Startup Mesosphere Even At $1 Billion”.

Watch what Microsoft boosters are writing right now [1, 2, 3]. Headlines such as “Windows Server Getting Open Source Mesos Container Technology for Scaled Operations” or “Mesosphere And Microsoft Bring Mesos To Windows Server” speak volumes.

Microsoft’s many attacks on GNU/Linux and Free software can only be as effective as GNU/Linux users can be dumb, gullible, defeatist, or lenient. Scott M. Fulton III, a Microsoft expert, wrote the other day that:

Developers outside of Microsoft will be able to experiment for the first time with new classes of applications that run partly on Windows, partly on Linux.

As one response to this framed the key message: “It’s hard to imagine anyone actually wanting to build an application that is part-Linux, part-Windows. Or, to go one step further, to intentionally engineer a server-based program that straddles two very, very different flavors of operating system.

“Why on Earth would anyone build or use an application that needs two operating systems to function?”

Why would anyone need a platform from Mesosphere to manage GNU/Linux? It’s not even Free software, so back doors are to be expected (voluntary or not), compromising the security of everything down the hierarchy/stack.

Avoid Mesosphere, Mesos, and the Data Center Operating System (DCOS). Treat them as a creation of Microsoft, emanated silently to entrap the competition. Time will tell what Mesosphere really is and where it’s heading.

Microsoft Aggression Against GNU/Linux Amid Vista 10′s Failure

Wednesday 26th of August 2015 12:24:31 PM

Summary: A look at the recent assault on GNU/Linux in Munich and the likely cause for this assault (in such a timely fashion, too)

Over the past couple of days we have been writing about what Microsoft does in Munich, basically trying to stereotype/stigmatise this city’s GNU/Linux migration (also on the desktops) as a failure, doing so repeatedly, each time just quoting a person or two at most. There is now a good article on the subject, noting: “This “story” surfaces every several months and, for some reason I always fail to fathom, everybody starts parroting it. It goes thus: Munich is sick and tired of how inadequate Linux is for everyday use and is ready to ditch years of work and millions of euros to return to Windows.

“As usual, the facts say something different: all that has happened this time around is that two (count ’em: 2) councillors have sent a letter to the mayor requesting that some new devices that have had Limux (Munich’s tailored Linux flavour) installed on them, be equipped with Windows because the Linux distro comes with “no programs (text editing programs, Skype, Office, etc.)” that the councilors can use.”

This “story” has once again been amplified by Microsoft propaganda sites and then some blogs, perpetuating old myths and factual inaccuracies (some more gross than others). Microsoft AstroTurfing is quite possible here. As one person, Michael Matthew, put it this morning, “Microsoft Germany has their own dedicated team to wrest Munich away from Linux” (and Free software at large).

“They are trying to scare those who wish to move governments to GNU/Linux, especially in light of Vista 10′s serious failings.”It is not hard to see why Microsoft is nervous about Munich. The city’s success story with GNU/Linux can lead to the spread of a new trend, so McCarthyism (like witch-hunt against Communism) is what Microsoft now resorts to. Vista 10′s overt privacy violations combined or conjoined with NSA leaks that show Microsoft collusion in espionage can potentially destroy the Windows monopoly everywhere in the world, including parts of the US. There are “Lots of Reasons to Avoid Windows 10″, as the Goodbye Microsoft Web site put it earlier today, and “Meanwhile, Linux is getting easier to install and more capable every year. And it doesn’t snoop. Some applications issue crash reports that ask me if I want to send them to the developers; “no” is always presented as an option.”

Ken Starks, in the mean time, says it’s time to target (and boycott) Lenovo for spyware that it adds to Windows. Lenovo merely piggybacks Microsoft when it comes to surveillance, so it would make sense to target everything that runs Windows, not just Lenovo. It’s a tool of espionage. It is also not secure (by design), so even Five Eyes oughtn’t use it in governments. It’s a bait or a trap.

Microsoft is understandably nervous right now because Vista 10 is failing in a very big way, as we last showed last night.

The large army of Microsoft boosters at IDG (some are existing Microsoft employees, not just former ones) continues to belittle Vista 10 issues. Remember that IDG receives a lot of money from Microsoft in order to promote Vista 10 (advertisements in IDG sites), so IDG appointing many Microsoft people as “writers” simply makes business sense. Preston Gralla is the latest among the boosters of Vista 10, doing his usual Microsoft propaganda (he has been doing this for over a decade) which iophk calls “spin and lies” because it’s hardly hinged on facts at all. It’s jaw-dropping drivel which might only fool the most gullible among readers.

Having already made a beautiful Spanish word, “Vista”, get a bad connotation (Like Isis), Microsoft now does the same thing to a special decimal number, “10″. Attacking Munich’s story of successful migration to GNU/Linux is a priority at the moment. They are trying to scare those who wish to move governments to GNU/Linux, especially in light of Vista 10′s serious failings. In many countries and in many occupations the EULA of Vista 10 is not even compatible with the law.

Message to LinuxCon Regarding Microsoft: “It is Necessary to Get Behind Someone in Order to Stab Them in the Back.” -Sir Humphrey Appleby

Tuesday 25th of August 2015 09:03:19 PM

“I’ve killed at least two Mac conferences. [...] by injecting Microsoft content into the conference, the conference got shut down. The guy who ran it said, why am I doing this?”

Microsoft's chief evangelist

Summary: Jim Zemlin, executive director of the Linux Foundation, helps Microsoft gain influence in the Foundation after payments are received

SEVERAL days ago LinuxCon ended. It was probably the biggest Linux-centric conference not only in the US but in the whole world. Microsoft, as usual, infiltrated and “injected Microsoft content into the conference,” to use the company’s own words. There’s a reason for this.

“This once again shows us an inherent weakness in the operations of the Linux Foundation. Microsoft moles or provocateurs managed to get in and change the agenda after they had paid.”We give some credit to Sean Kerner for writing about this as almost nobody else did. The first article from Kerner reminded us that the Linux Foundation is selling out again. It lets an anti-Linux company speak at Linuxcon because this company paid the Linux Foundation. Would the Linux Foundation also let SCO give some talks if SCO paid (hypothetical question as SCO is a defunct company now)? Remember that Intel (key funder of the Linux Foundation and OSDL before it) helped fund a SCO conference.

Kerner wrote repeatedly about this, noting that “Microsoft was a sponsor of the event and also had a booth in the vendor area [...] When Jim Zemlin, executive director of the Linux Foundation, held up a Microsoft Tux penguin during a keynote session on Aug. 18, he was actually heckled.”

It is reported that these 'Microsoft loves Linux' buttons (see below) emerged at this event at well.

People who paid a lot of money to attend this event are reportedly upset, to use an understatement. And rightly so. See the quote at the top again. Microsoft succeeds at discrediting the event. Microsoft sure delivered its entryism first thing in the morning as “LinuxCon [was] infiltrated by Microsoft,” to quote one of our readers who sent us mail about it, as several other have done since then (many are furious as the Linux Foundation serves to legitimise Microsoft, in exchange for generous, self-serving payments).

This once again shows us an inherent weakness in the operations of the Linux Foundation. Microsoft moles or provocateurs managed to get in and change the agenda after they had paid. Microsoft entryism needs to be recognised as a potent threat and tackled accordingly. Such entryism and marketing not only reduces the popularity of GNU/Linux but also removes freedom because anything that Microsoft does around Linux merely promotes proprietary software like Hyper-V, Windows, and so on.

A third and final such article from Sean Kerner (not that it’s an issue, as he clearly helped raise awareness of what Microsoft had sneakily done again) got titled “LinuxCon Highlights: From Linus Torvalds to Microsoft”, demonstrating quite well that Microsoft interjected itself into the competition and it worked; it served to distract almost everybody and that’s how people may remember this event.

For those who believe that Microsoft actually likes GNU/Linux, recall the 6-part series below and see what Microsoft is distributing in FOSS conferences as though it is trying to deliberately provoke and upset attendees.


Photo credit: Neil McAllister

Market Share Estimates Confirm That Vista 10 Failed in a Major Way

Tuesday 25th of August 2015 08:26:06 PM

Summary: Confirmatory evidence that Vista 10 is failing in the market about a month after its much-hyped (paid coverage) release

MUCH as we expected even well before Vista 10 came out, the market is overwhelmingly apathetic, regardless of the price. It’s just not interested in Vista 10.

“Microsoft has been on a tear with Windows 10 updates,” Ryan wrote in our #techrights IRC channel (he used to be a Microsoft MVP and he follows Microsoft very closely). “It hasn’t even been a month and they’ve apparently already patched so many bugs it’s like an entire service pack has happened.”

“Vista 10 adoption is pathetic, especially when one considers the cost of an ‘upgrade’.”Vista 10 is clearly a failure (technically speaking and also in terms of sales), so Microsoft now wants to attract GNU/Linux users into its arms (to suffocate them with lock-in). It has gotten so bad that Microsoft (through Yahoo) is entering old versions of Ubuntu for surveillance purposes. If Canonical is pressured by Mozilla to make Firefox link to Microsoft (through Yahoo as a proxy/middleman), then users should move to IceWeasel or IceCat, if not drop Ubuntu altogether. There have also been several articles recently about how Microsoft was trying to sneak its surveillance and propaganda engine into Android.

At IDG, a Microsoft booster (strong professional ties to Microsoft) comes out with “False dichotomy,” to quote iopkh. “The real answer is move to GNU/Linux.”

“One common concern right now is privacy, not just the heap of serious bugs.”Vista 10 adoption is pathetic, especially when one considers the cost of an ‘upgrade’. This week it’s said that “Windows 10 now has 5.95 per cent of the desktop operating systems market, according to the folks at StatCounter.”

That’s hardly a gain since a week ago. “Windows 10′s growth has slowed, according to StatCounter Global Stats,” which means that it will possibly plateau at around 10%, despite so many people being ‘eligible’ for a ‘free’ ‘upgrade’.

One common concern right now is privacy, not just the heap of serious bugs. One has to wonder if Microsoft’s secret (proprietary) code in Vista 10 implements any callback functions for option buttons that relate to privacy. It is worth pursuing these questions. Did Microsoft add privacy ‘controls’ for a false sense of control or is this a bug? Is this just being disguised as a bug but is actually intentional? A lot of people were surprised that Microsoft does not obey privacy preferences from users; maybe they forgot it’s a company of cheaters and liars, not to mention bribes. Watch what Microsoft is still up to in Munich.

When Microsoft, the Master of Patent Trolls, Complains About Trolls

Tuesday 25th of August 2015 07:53:21 PM

The Microsoft Mafia shows extreme hypocrisy

Summary: Possibly the world’s biggest patent abuser and monopolist, which also creates many patent trolls (including by far the biggest one), takes on a far smaller abuser in Court

“I owned the domain name http://nokiaplanp.com ,” wrote the President of the FFII this week, “p for patents, and now Nokia is turning in a patent troll” (we wrote about this before). Microsoft not only turned Nokia into a troll, but also used Nokia’s patents to feed other trolls, MOSAID for example (not to mention that Microsoft is behind the world’s biggest patent troll). Based on some of the latest reports from Finland [1, 2], Microsoft pushes Nokia further towards the cliff of patent trolling, turning the former mobile giant (bigger than any of its kind ever!) into nothing but a pile of patents. Reuters wrote that “initially announced in July, [additional cuts] are part of Microsoft’s plan to cut 7,800 jobs globally, most from the phone hardware business that it bought from Nokia last year.”

Microsoft layoffs are a Microsoft thing, not a Nokia thing, for reasons we explained before, so reject the Microsoft spin, but either way, Microsoft killed Nokia and quickly turned it into nothing but a parasite that taxes Microsoft’s competition, including Apple.

Now that InterDigital gives Microsoft a taste of its own medicine “Microsoft sues InterDigital for ‘monopoly power’ over mobile patents” (patents of InterDigital were covered here before [1, 2, 3, 4). Putting aside the obscenity of Microsoft suing for “monopoly power”, who’s really the troll and the patent abuser here? The hypocrisy is so fascinating. To quote one of the earliest articles about this (we found it last week), “Microsoft files antitrust suit against InterDigital in patent feud”:

InterDigital has violated U.S. antitrust law by failing to keep its promise to fairly license its technology considered essential to mobile phone communications, Microsoft said in a lawsuit on Thursday.

The complaint against InterDigital, filed in federal court in Wilmington, Delaware, deepens a long-standing fight over patent licensing between the two companies.

It comes as the U.S. International Trade Commission is set to rule this month on whether Microsoft smartphones should be banned from being imported into the United States for infringing two of InterDigital’s patents.

For Microsoft to accuse InterDigital of abuses with patents, monopoly abuse (and use antitrust laws to tackle these abuses) is a bit like President Putin accusing President Obama of freedom of speech violations. Let that sink in for a moment.

Letter Signed by Two German Officials Becomes a Microsoft Weapon of Propaganda

Tuesday 25th of August 2015 07:20:58 PM

Summary: Microsoft and its minions refuse to leave Munich alone, even though the vast majority in Munich are perfectly happy with Free/libre software

A story that we covered here on Monday has received quite some attention, far more than we anticipated. It’s basically about a letter composed by two technically-incompetent people, which means it’s full of factual errors and serves more as Microsoft endorsement and scare tactics against GNU/Linux, ODF, and Free software. It’s about Munich, where two officials got a lot more press than they deserved (even in English-speaking media [1, 2, 3]). As one article put it, “proprietary software companies are known for their public affairs (lobby) large budgets.” The article recalls “90 percent discount from then Microsoft CEO Steve ‘I’ve had the time of my life’ Ballmer to keep Windows” (a form of bribery in a sense).

“The article recalls “90 percent discount from then Microsoft CEO Steve ‘I’ve had the time of my life’ Ballmer to keep Windows” (a form of bribery in a sense).”Continuing the trend and the line which we went along the other day, in this article from the Monday Glyn Moody said that Russian “Members of parliament [are] worried about personal and classified data being sent to the US.”

The British media covered this as well, saying that “Russian lawyers have filed a complaint calling for an outright ban – or at least tight restrictions – over the sale of Windows 10 in Russia.”

Well, they’re right and Munich would be ever so dumb to abandon software Freedom, having already paid a lot to escape the lock-in/exit barrier, whereupon it chooses to be spied on by a hostile country which targets Germany (political espionage). Moving to Windows would mean Vista 10 or later (our contacts at Microsoft says that future version will have even more spying).

Munich is going to stay with Free software, as before, but the Microsoft camp keeps trying to maintain the mythology of failure there. The negative press gives many officials the wrong impressions and scares them, discouraging any other nation-wide moves to GNU/Linux. That’s what it’s all about.

Links 25/8/2015: Linux Kernel 4.2 Final RC, KDE Ships Plasma 5.4.0

Tuesday 25th of August 2015 06:03:43 PM

Contents GNU/Linux Free Software/Open Source
  • For open source legend Eric S. Raymond, user-centric design is long overdue

    It took a while for Eric S. Raymond, one of the founding fathers of the open source movement, to prioritize the end user. But now that he has, he wants you to know how easy it can be.

  • The Open Source Greatness of Linux

    Ubuntu grabbed a large portion of the headlines today with Canonical’s decision to abandon its paid software for desktops to concentrate on mobile devices. The Everyday Linux User reviewed Mageia 5 and Distrowatch.com has added “Release Model” to their database search options. Elsewhere, Danny Stieben said Linux is so great because it’s Open Source and Munich is consdiering switching back to Linux on some machines because folks said there were no text editors, Skype support, or office suites installed. All this and more in today’ Linux news round-up.

  • The open source movement needs folk songs

    So if you have a musical bent, try composing an open source folk song. It’s fine to be silly, too. Surprise us with what you make. Share your story and your song(s) right here on Opensource.com

  • Open source for products in four rules (and 10 slides)
  • Apache Twill: real abstraction is a decoupled algorithm

    To be clearer, this term decoupling arises time & time again in relation to the cloud computing model of service-based processing and storage power.

  • Great Open Source Collaborative Editing Tools

    In a nutshell, collaborative writing is writing done by more than one person. There are benefits and risks of collaborative working. Some of the benefits include a more integrated / co-ordinated approach, better use of existing resources, and a stronger, united voice. For me, the greatest advantage is one of the most transparent. That’s when I need to take colleagues’ views. Sending files back and forth between colleagues is inefficient, causes unnecessary delays and leaves people (i.e. me) unhappy with the whole notion of collaboration. With good collaborative software, I can share notes, data and files, and use comments to share thoughts in real-time or asynchronously. Working together on documents, images, video, presentations, and tasks is made less of a chore.

  • Parse open sources its SDKs

    Earlier this month, mobile backend-as-a-service provider Parse open sourced its iOS, OS X, and Android SDKs, and will be open sourcing additional SDKs in the future.

    Parse, which was acquired by Facebook in 2013, says that its SDKs are used by more than 800 million active app-device pairs per month. By open sourcing those SDKs, Parse believes it can help developers facing challenges similar to those it faced. Specifically, according to Parse, “We’ve had to figure out a way to make a public-facing API easy to understand and use, but continue shipping features fast without breaking any existing functionality. To solve this, we structured our public API as a facade for internal code and functionality that could be consistently changing.”

  • A word to the Wise…

    I have been recently reminded that while it may be hard enough to discuss the role and importance of communities for Free and Open Source Software, it is equally important to understand the complexities and the challenges that a Free and Open Source Software foundation has to meet.

  • Web Browsers
    • Mozilla
      • Mozilla’s self-destruct course continues: major add-on compatibility changes announced

        Mozilla announced major upcoming changes to Firefox add-ons on the official Add-ons Blog today. These changes affect add-on developers and Firefox users alike, and will have a major effect on add-on compatibility and permissions.

      • Holes found in Pocket Firefox add-on

        Information security man Clint Ruoho has detailed server-side vulnerabilities in the popular Pocket add-on bundled with Firefox that may have allowed user reading lists to be populated with malicious links.

        The since-patched holes were disclosed July 25 and fixed August 17 after a series of botched patches, and gave attackers access to the process running as root on Amazon servers.

        Ruho says the bookmarking app functioned as an internal network proxy and subsequent poor design choices meant he could glean information on users including IP address data and the URLs customers saved for later reading. Adding redirects meant he gained access to the etc/passwd file.

  • SaaS/Big Data
  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice
    • LibreOffice 5.0 and Microsoft Office 2013 Full Comparison

      The latest LibreOffice 5.0 is out for some time and it looks like the feature parity with Microsoft Office 2013 is now a lot better. The official wiki from The Document Foundation that shows off the differences and similarities between the two office suites has been updated, and it paints a pretty accurate picture of the progress that’s being made.

    • LibreOffice-from-Collabora 4.4 introduces OOXML, PDF, and configuration management improvements

      Today’s release of LibreOffice-from-Collabora 4.4 combines Collabora’s latest compatibility, deployment management, and document integrity features with a host of improvements from the LibreOffice community. Redesigned toolbars, menus, rulers, and dialogues make these powerful additions more attractive and efficient to use.

  • Business
  • BSD
  • Project Releases
  • Public Services/Government
    • Open source part of Poland’s animal tracking project

      Poland’s Agency for Restructuring and Modernisation of Agriculture (ARMA) wants to modernise its animal identification and tracking system. The new solution is required to use Zabbix, an open source solution for IT security monitoring.

  • Openness/Sharing
  • Programming
    • Now anybody can create Ransomware using open source kit on GitHub

      Ransomware are a pain for PC and laptop owners because they encrypt PCs/Laptop in return for a ransom which if not paid may permanently lock away users important folders like your images, word and excel files etc. However upto now the malware for Ransomware was only available on Dark Web, but that will change now thanks to a Turkish security researcher, Utku Sen.

    • GitHub figures show huge rise in open source languages
    • Most popular programming languages shift at Github
    • PHP 7 drops first release candidate

      Faster PHP is approaching. PHP 7.0.0, which has been promoted as a much quicker upgrade to the server-side scripting language, has just gone into a release candidate stage, bringing its general availability even closer to fruition.

    • Infinity

      I’m writing a replacement for libthread_db. It’s called Infinity.

    • We’re still catching up to Perl

      That’s from a great little article by Chromatic about modern Perl in the latest issue of PragPub. The article goes in to discuss a number of other strengths of Perl, such as its strong community dedication to testing across numerous architectures, services for understanding package dependencies (that sound like they go beyond anything presently available for Ruby), and legendary standards of documentation.

  • Standards/Consortia
    • Government seeks open standards feedback

      The government has launched a consultation on how best to proceed with several open standards proposals that will support inter-connected systems and more cost efficient digital transformation across Whitehall.

    • UK launches its next OGP Action Plan

      Open policy making, Open Data and international cooperation are three pillars that UK Minister for the Cabinet Office Matt Hancock wants to be included in the 2015 UK Action Plan, according to a speech given by the minister to mark the launch of a new Open Government Partnership (OGP) action plan (Transcript is accessible on the gov.uk website).

    • Flash is dying a death by 1,000 cuts, and that’s a good thing

      Adobe’s Flash, hated the world over for slowing down computers, containing more holes in security than swiss cheese and stubbornly being the video carrier of choice until recently, is dying.

      Video players are migrating to other systems, even if Microsoft’s Silverlight isn’t much better. HTML5-based video and animations are becoming mainstream, and uploaders and other more advanced web-based features can now be replaced with code that doesn’t rely on Flash.

    • Kill Flash? Be careful what you wish for

      Back when Steve Jobs launched the first salvo in the war against Adobe Flash, declaring in no uncertain terms that the iPhone would never support the ubiquitous Web media framework, the anti-Apple crowd was much amused. No one is laughing now — least of all the many IT vendors that have built their management interfaces in Flash, for whom the death of Flash poses huge challenges.

      At the time, Jobs seemed to be climbing out on a limb. But eventually, everyone came to see how painful it was to support Flash on mobile devices, and how much better HTML5 was at delivering the same basic functionality. Developers began skipping over Flash and going with alternative technologies so that they could support mobile and desktop clients with the same codebase.

Leftovers
  • Why developers have more power than you think

    Jeff Lawson is a walking, talking example of the rise of the developer.

    Today, he’s the CEO of API economy darling Twilio, a cloud platform that offers API-accessible telecom services to marquee customers like Home Depot and Uber. But 20 years ago, he was another computer science student who saw the power of the Internet and wanted to try his hand at building Web applications.

  • Hardware
    • My Network Go-Bag

      I often get teased for taking so much tech hardware with me on trips—right up until the Wi-Fi at the hotel, conference center or rented house fails. I’m currently on vacation with my family and some of our friends from Florida, and our rental home has a faulty Wi-Fi router. Thankfully, I have a bag full of goodies for just this occasion.

  • Health/Nutrition
  • Security
    • Linus Torvalds: Security is never going to be perfect

      One of the best kept secrets at this week’s LinuxCon was the presence of Linus Torvalds. I’ve never not seen Linus at any of the LinuxCons I’ve attended since 2009, whether in Europe or North America, but no matter who you asked, the answer was, “He’s not here.” This morning, though, a little bird sang that the surprise guest for the upcoming keynote was none other than Torvalds.

    • Linux Foundation to Launch New Security-Focused Badge Program for Open-Source Software

      During the LinuxCon and CloudOpen events that took place last week in Seattle, North America, Linux Foundation’s Core Infrastructure Initiative announced that they were developing a new free Badge Program and that they wanted to know the open source community’s opinion on the matter.

    • ​Securing the Internet: Let’s Encrypt to release first security certificates September 7

      Some days it seems like the Internet is about as secure as an over-filled diaper. There’s always crap leaking from seamy businesses, such as Ashley Madison; the Federal government, OPM and IRS; and even security companies like LastPass. One of the weakest security links is the connection between you and unsecured web sites. Now almost a year since it was proposed, Let’s Encrypt is almost ready to enable any Internet site to protect its visitors with free Transport Layer Security (TLS) certificates.

    • Security advisories for Monday
    • John McAfee: McAfee antivirus is one of the worst products on the planet
    • Highway to hack: why we’re just at the beginning of the auto-hacking era

      Imagine it’s 1995, and you’re about to put your company’s office on the Internet. Your security has been solid in the past—you’ve banned people from bringing floppies to work with games, you’ve installed virus scanners, and you run file server backups every night. So, you set up the Internet router and give everyone TCP/IP addresses. It’s not like you’re NASA or the Pentagon or something, so what could go wrong?

      That, in essence, is the security posture of many modern automobiles—a network of sensors and controllers that have been tuned to perform flawlessly under normal use, with little more than a firewall (or in some cases, not even that) protecting it from attack once connected to the big, bad Internet world. This month at three separate security conferences, five sets of researchers presented proof-of-concept attacks on vehicles from multiple manufacturers plus an add-on device that spies on drivers for insurance companies, taking advantage of always-on cellular connectivity and other wireless vehicle communications to defeat security measures, gain access to vehicles, and—in three cases—gain access to the car’s internal network in a way that could take remote control of the vehicle in frightening ways.

    • backdooring your javascript using minifier bugs

      In addition to unforgettable life experiences and personal growth, one thing I got out of DEF CON 23 was a copy of POC||GTFO 0×08 from Travis Goodspeed. The coolest article I’ve read so far in it is “Deniable Backdoors Using Compiler Bugs,” in which the authors abused a pre-existing bug in CLANG to create a backdoored version of sudo that allowed any user to gain root access. This is very sneaky, because nobody could prove that their patch to sudo was a backdoor by examining the source code; instead, the privilege escalation backdoor is inserted at compile-time by certain (buggy) versions of CLANG.

      That got me thinking about whether you could use the same backdoor technique on javascript. JS runs pretty much everywhere these days (browsers, servers, arduinos and robots, maybe even cars someday) but it’s an interpreted language, not compiled. However, it’s quite common to minify and optimize JS to reduce file size and improve performance. Perhaps that gives us enough room to insert a backdoor by abusing a JS minifier.

  • Defence/Police/Secrecy/Aggression
    • Two planes crash at Swiss airshow

      Two light planes have crashed at an airshow in Switzerland, killing one of the pilots.

      Swiss police said they were two of three C-42b aircraft from Germany, flying in formation. They crashed after they touched in mid-air on Sunday morning.

    • America as the Neo-British Empire

      For some writers, imperial freedom floats all boats (and not just the capitalists’). They thank hegemonic powers for liberalism itself, asserting that imperial naval (or air) power deployed overseas leaves domestic liberalism unharmed. By contrast, standing armies are said to threaten domestic liberty. Yet embracing imperial means, we might expect very thin liberalism indeed; with Machiavelli’s “republic for increase” walking the earth, we might at least speak frankly of “free trade imperialism.”

    • French train gunman ‘dumbfounded’ by terrorist tag

      French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said on Saturday there had been “several shots” before the Moroccan was subdued by the passengers, who included three Americans.

    • North, South Korea reach agreement to ease tensions

      North and South Korea reached agreement early on Tuesday to end a standoff involving an exchange of artillery fire that had pushed the divided peninsula into a state of heightened military tension.

      Under the accord reached after midnight on Tuesday morning after more than two days of talks, North Korea expressed regret over the recent wounding of South Korean soldiers in a landmine incident and Seoul agreed to halt anti-Pyongyang propaganda broadcasts, both sides said.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife
  • Finance
  • PR/AstroTurf/Lobbying
    • Paul Haggis: ‘shame on’ press for not asking Tom Cruise about Scientology

      The Oscar-winning director of Crash, who left the church in 2009, has criticised journalists for failing to address the Mission: Impossible star’s beliefs

    • Wall Street rattles Washington

      The stock market closed a wild Monday with the Dow Jones industrial average down over 500 points, setting off fresh fears about the health of the global economy.

      The Wall Street drama quickly spread to the 2016 campaign trail and Washington, as flashbacks to the 2008 financial crisis drew responses from the political world.

      Renewed concern about the strength of China’s economy kicked off a brutal opening, as the Dow opened down more than 1,000 points in the first minutes of trading. While the index largely erased those gains later in the day, it still ended Monday down 588 points, adding to large losses suffered the two days prior.

    • Jeremy Corbyn: Personal attacks by Gordon Brown and Labour grandees are ‘pathetic’

      Labour leadership candidates quizzed on BBC 5 live, Andy Burnham accused of making sexist remark and Yvette Cooper attacks Jeremy Corbyn

  • Censorship
    • Twitter shuts down 30 sites dedicated to saving politicians’ deleted tweets

      Twitter has shut down a network of sites dedicated to archiving deleted tweets from politicians around the world. The sites — collectively known as Politwoops — were overseen by the Open State Foundation (OSF), which reported that Twitter suspended their API access on Friday, August 21st. Twitter reportedly told the OSF that its decision was the result of “thoughtful internal deliberation and close consideration of a number of factors,” and that the social media site didn’t distinguish between politicians and regular users.

    • Twitter cuts off Diplotwoops and Politwoops in all remaining 30 countries

      On Friday night, August 21, Open State Foundation was informed by Twitter that it suspended API access to Diplotwoops and all remaining Politwoops sites in 30 countries. After Twitter suspended API access for the US version of Politwoops for displaying deleted tweets of US lawmakers on May 15, Open State Foundation was still running Politwoops in 30 countries, including the European parliament.

    • Malaysia considers forcing news websites to register with gov’t, as political scandal unfolds

      Malaysia’s new Communications and Multimedia Minister has proposed amending the country’s Internet laws to force news websites to register with the government. Human rights groups have been quick to denounce the proposal as a threat to free speech.

    • Come on, how did the Air Force screw up ‘loose tweets sink fleets?’

      Hey, remember when this designer made a whole bunch of amazing internet-themed World War II propaganda parodies? Well, one of those just cropped up in the actual military, albeit not for the first time. In an online bulletin earlier this month, the US Air Forces Central Command repurposed the iconic “loose lips sink ships” slogan to warn service members about the potential dangers of social media. As you might have guessed from the photo above, it’s now “loose tweets destroy fleets.”

    • Russia threatens to ban Wikipedia
  • Privacy
    • Amazon.com will stop accepting Flash ads on September 1

      Amazon has decided to stop accepting Adobe Flash ads starting next month. The move, which goes into effect on September 1, affects not just the company’s website, but its whole advertising platform.

    • Police secretly track cellphones to solve routine crimes

      The crime itself was ordinary: Someone smashed the back window of a parked car one evening and ran off with a cellphone. What was unusual was how the police hunted the thief.

      Detectives did it by secretly using one of the government’s most powerful phone surveillance tools — capable of intercepting data from hundreds of people’s cellphones at a time — to track the phone, and with it their suspect, to the doorway of a public housing complex. They used it to search for a car thief, too. And a woman who made a string of harassing phone calls.

      In one case after another, USA TODAY found police in Baltimore and other cities used the phone tracker, commonly known as a stingray, to locate the perpetrators of routine street crimes and frequently concealed that fact from the suspects, their lawyers and even judges. In the process, they quietly transformed a form of surveillance billed as a tool to hunt terrorists and kidnappers into a staple of everyday policing.

    • Canadians are suing Ashley Madison because a lack of prophylactic protection

      A BRACE OF LAW FIRMS ARE BEHIND A class action lawsuit against Ashley Madison because it did not do enough to protect personal and private information.

      The class action case, from two Canadian law firms, argues that the hookup stations failed users by not protecting their information and for not deleting it after a fee had been paid to ensure its deletion. It seeks $578m.

      According to the New York Post the lawyers want some satisfaction for a cluster of punters who are currently wearing outraged expressions and regretting joining a site that does what it does in the way that it does it.

    • ‘Security Was An Afterthought,’ Hacked Ashley Madison Emails Show

      It’s already clear that, despite handling very sensitive data, Ashley Madison did not have the best security. Hackers managed to obtain everything from source code to customer data to internal documents, and the attackers behind the breach, who call themselves the Impact Team, made a mockery of the company’s defenses in an interview.

  • Civil Rights
    • Bernie Sanders: The Vox conversation
    • [Old] Russia begins blacklisting ‘undesirable’ organizations
    • The Crackdown On NGOs In Russia

      In early March, Russian prosecutors launched spot inspections of nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) across the country. Hundreds of groups have already been targeted, from human rights NGOs to environmental groups to health-care associations. Formally, prosecutors are checking compliance with a new law forcing organizations that receive foreign funding and are deemed to engage in “political activity” to register as “foreign agents” — a derogatory term that critics say aims to stigmatize NGOs. Russian authorities say the legislation, which entered into force in November 2012, aims at increasing the transparency and accountability of NGOs. But the audits have drawn international condemnation and raised fears of an unprecedented crackdown on civil society. The number of NGOs subjected to such inspections is difficult to assess due to the absence of an official registry. Most are still waiting for the inspection findings. RFE/RL is closely monitoring developments and will regularly update this chart and map.

    • How Moscow came to embrace fringe anti-Western conspiracy theories

      Black’s interest in the air traffic controller is not insignificant: testimony by “Carlos the Spanish air traffic operator” is one of the earliest versions of the MH17 catastrophe touted by RT and other Kremlin-aligned media, which were immediately exposed as fake. There’s no evidence that WikiSpooks is Kremlin-funded or in any way aligned, but its motivation is explicitly expressed in their mission statement: any fact promoted by the “official narrative” via the “commercially-controlled media” is inherently false and must be disputed. Hence, to WikiSpooks and other similar websites, the position that Russia or Russia-backed rebels shot down MH17 is false simply because it is endorsed by the American government and must be confronted, even if it leads to a jumble of contradictory versions of the same event, based on spurious evidence.

    • Once, firms cherished their workers. Now they are seen as disposable

      …big companies offered paid holidays, guaranteed pensions related to your final salary, sickness benefit and recognised trade unions. Above all, they offered the chance of a career and personal progression…

    • Sai Gets FOIA Docs On The TSA

      Lisa Simeone posts at TSA News Blog on some of what’s been revealed through the docs released in the request by Sai, “an intrepid, indefatigable young man.” As Simeone writes, “He has been forced to tangle with the TSA more than once, when the agency’s workers have bullied, harassed, and illegally detained him.” Chasing illegal movie downloaders proves an unprofitable exercise

  • Internet/Net Neutrality
    • Google joins Facebook in trying to prevent IAMAI from taking strong anti-Zero Rating stand

      Google joined hands with Facebook to try and prevent the Internet and Mobile Association of India, which represents some of the largest Internet companies in India, from taking a stand that counters Zero Rating. According to emails exchanged between IAMAI’s Government Relations committee members, of which MediaNama has copies, Vineeta Dixit, a member of Google’s Public Policy and and Government Relations team, strongly pushed for the removal of any mention of Zero Rating from the IAMAI’s submission, as a response to the Department of Telecom’s report on Net Neutrality. Please note that Google hasn’t responded to our queries, despite multiple reminders.

  • Intellectual Monopolies
    • Copyrights
      • Two Danes face up to six years in jail for explaining how to use Popcorn Time

        Danish police have arrested two men alleged to be the operators of sites related to the open-source program Popcorn Time, which adds a user-friendly front-end to a BitTorrent client to make the whole process of finding, downloading, and viewing video torrents extremely simple. The two domains, Popcorntime.dk and Popcorn-time.dk, have now been shut down, but copies on the Wayback Machine show that both were merely information sites, and neither offered material that infringed on copyrights, nor any version of the Popcorn Time software itself. Both sites warned users about potential copyright infringement issues.

        The men are accused of “distributing knowledge and guides on how to obtain illegal content online,” as TorrentFreak reports, and have apparently pleaded guilty. Moreover, distributing information is considered such a serious violation of Danish copyright law that “they could face punishment under section 299b of the penal code—offenses which carry a maximum prison term of six years.” That seems an extraordinarily harsh and disproportionate upper limit for merely explaining how to use a program, just because copyright is involved in some way.

        A similar case has already been heard in the UK, where it was found that sites offering downloads of the Popcorn Time software contributed to the copyright infringement that results from its use. In April of this year, the English High Court ordered a number of sites to be blocked for this reason. However, in that case the sites enabled the program to be downloaded directly, whereas in Denmark, the accused simply offered basic information about how the software worked and could be used, together with links to other sites where the program could be obtained.

      • Former Megaupload User Asks Court to Return His Files

        Millions of users lost access to their personal files when Megaupload was raided, and after nearly four years their files are still stashed away in a Virginia warehouse. The company that owns the servers wants to get rid of them, so former Megaupload user Kyle Goodwin has once again asked the court if he can have his files back.

      • Chasing illegal movie downloaders proves an unprofitable exercise

        It has been a bad week for companies wanting to build businesses around make money from illegal movie downloaders. Last Friday saw an Australian judge refuse Voltage Pictures the rigth to send downloaders of Dallas Buyers Club a letter demanding an undisclosed payment. Justice Nye Perram decided that Voltage and its lawyers, were engaging in “speculative invoicing”, a practice that is a form of legal blackmail: “pay us a large enough sum so that we don’t take you to court where you will possibly face an even larger but unspecified fine”.

      • Will Australian Government Use Cost-Benefit Analysis To Kill Off Fair Use Proposal Once And For All?

        Discussions about copyright reform in Australia are now entering their fourth year, and the longer they go on, the worse the proposals become. That’s in part because there has been a change of government in the interim, and the present Attorney-General, George Brandis, has made it clear he’s firmly on the side of copyright companies, and indifferent to the Australian public’s concerns or needs in a digital world.

      • This Anti-Piracy Campaign Will Leave You Speechless

        Anti-piracy campaigns come in all shapes and sizes and usually aim to prod the public into action. To capture the imagination they are often provocative, but just how far is too far? A new campaign for Virgin Radio is currently testing those boundaries to an extent rarely – if ever – seen before.

Sabine Pfeiler and Otto Seidl Should Take Note as Russia — Like China — is in the Process of Banning Microsoft Windows for Security Reasons

Monday 24th of August 2015 11:53:07 AM

Strapping NSA back doors onto Munich oughtn’t be an option

Summary: A look at a strange suggestion, signed by Sabine Pfeiler (above) and Otto Seidl, who suggest going back to Microsoft which is basically a spyware company now

THE enormous long-term cost of Microsoft Windows, deferred and inevitably incurred due to blackmail and espionage (possibly more expensive then dealing with script kiddies/crackers alone), was detailed in the previous post. No nation other than the US (not even other Five Eyes nations) should procure proprietary software from the United States. Britain has just repeated this error [1] and some Microsoft fans in Germany apparently want to revert back to making this error, having already undone this error (dumping proprietary software, including Microsoft, in Munich).

We wish to start with some rather exciting news. Thankfully enough, Russia is now following China’s footsteps and may ban Vista 10 (China also banned Office in government, not just Vista 8, recognising that it’s a collective Trojan horse from the NSA). Last year or the year before that Russia had already taken first steps towards banning Windows by banning x86 in government (Wintel) and days ago it went further. Citing Russian media, Linux Veda writes: “The vice speaker of Russia’s State Duma, Nikolai Levichev, has written to Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev asking for the Russian government to ban the use of Windows 10 amongst Russian civil servants. Levichev is concerned that Microsoft may allow US agencies to access data collected from Russian officials.”

Based on countless leaks from the NSA (many mention Russia by name), the above is undoubtedly being done. To think otherwise would be willful ignorance. Germany too is a target (political and industrial espionage), as recently demonstrated by Wikileaks, not just Snowden’s leaks and subsequent unattributed leaks.

It then leads us to our main topic, which is bogus stories from Microsoft propaganda sites, distorting the stories that were originally published in Germany about a week ago. We have a misleading headline about just two people, making them sound like the whole city of Munich. These people are Sabine Pfeiler and Otto Seidl.

Microsoft propaganda sites will latch onto anything and anyone, as they have been doing for years, never leaving Munich alone because it has become an embarrassment to Microsoft and a winning example/trophy for GNU/Linux on the desktop. What Microsoft does in Munich right now is definitely not sitting on its hands and accepting defeat. There is lobbying that is difficult for outsiders to see, but evidence occasionally comes out, as we have shown here over the years (we wrote dozens of articles about this). Partner companies, not just moles or lobbyists, are involved in this. Munich is constantly under attack.

A European reader of ours helped us understand what is happening in Munich right now. “Two ‘softers,” he said, is what it boils down to. “Annoying that they get any press at all. [...] it does look like only two ‘softers and not two independent people. More can be done to bring up the games that Microsoft continues to play against competitors, especially FOSS. Too many are falling for that “another chance” tactic, one that’s been used every few years for decades.”

We tried to find out more, for instance anything suspicious in the professional background of the troublemakers. Microsoft recently blackmailed members of the British Parliament, as it had previously done in Norway and other places (if you do what we say, we’ll do this thing for your area, but if you don’t, we’ll punish you). There are plenty of bribes and blackmail examples; Microsoft is full of those.

Our reader tracked down the original PDF. It is signed by these two people:

Sabine Pfeiler, Stadtrat
Otto Seidl, Stadtrat

“Your German is certainly better than mine,” said the reader, “but there are probably these two. They’re both in office through 2020. The main argument that the laptops have no programs for text editing, Skype, Office etc does not hold water. LibreOffice and even nasty ol’ unsafe Skype are available for GNU/Linux on x86, though the latter has not been approved by the IT dept there. But the Tech Republic article does say they are using Intel processors and that LibreOffice is on them.

“Seidl had in 2014 defended LiMux against mayor Dieter Reiter and Josef Schmid. However, I think that something is fishy, but cannot find anything with just a cursory search.”

“Microsoft just remotely modifies Vista 10 and won’t explain how, why, and when.”Vista 10 is an unacceptable risk, especially for government, and German has been more strict than most nations about digital control over its computing (even UEFI 'secure boot' is verboten). Vista 10 can add back doors, bug doors, delete files, add files etc. and it won’t even tell the user. We covered this the other day, noting that RMS (Richard Stallman) was right all along. This is why Microsoft will consider doing almost anything (even blackmail and bribes) to get its way here, enabling the Trojan horse to slip inside the whole of Germany. The NSA would certainly like for this to happen.

According to Manish Singh, “[i]f you’re having trouble deciphering what exactly Microsoft is bundling in Windows 10 updates, it is not your fault. Moreover, it is about to get worse. Microsoft has confirmed that it might choose to not offer a detailed changelog with new Windows 10 updates.”

Microsoft just remotely modifies Vista 10 and won’t explain how, why, and when. It is virtually as though one’s own computer is rented or leased. Even the British media took note. Simon Sharwood spoke to Microsoft and then reported that “Microsoft has explained its policy about how much information it will offer on the content of Cumulative Updates to Windows 10.”

Remember that for most users it will be impossible to even deny automatic updates. Microsoft Peter, not only Microsoft sceptics, reminds us right now that Microsoft has no plans to tell us what’s in Windows patches. Vista 10 already has back doors (and worse, it turns networks into botnets), but the point is, additional ones can be added at any time, silently. What would happen at times of war? Germany simply mustn’t consider going back to Windows and more cities should now follow Munich’s lead, maybe adopting much of the same Free software that Munich developed over the years.

Have politicians actually been following what’s happening right now? BND collusion with the NSA makes it simpler to blackmail German politicians, this we know for sure…

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. UK government signs new deal with Oracle

    The UK’s Crown Commercial Service (CCS) yesterday revealed that it would be teaming up with software giant Oracle, in a three-year partnership which will see the two collaborate to deliver services to public sector bodies including the National Health Service (NHS).

    Just weeks after the government announced that it would be cutting back on its use of Oracle software, the new deal instead extends the existing agreement signed in 2012 and aims to bring new cost-saving solutions. The CCS has promised the that the signing of the Oracle memorandum of understanding (MoU) will “deliver additional savings for the taxpayer.”

Microsoft Windows Leads to Espionage and Blackmail: Latest Examples

Monday 24th of August 2015 11:00:15 AM

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

–Brian Valentine, Microsoft executive

Summary: Another news overview, detailing high-profile examples of high-cost Windows deployments (including the cost of litigation and settlement)

THE “IRS hack [is] far larger than first thought,” according to this new report. It’s no secret that the IRS is a Microsoft Windows shop (which was warned about security breaches as far back as 6 years ago), so it makes one wonder if Windows was to blame here, as in the OPM breach, the Sony breach, and most recently the Ashley Madison breach (not to mention Stuxnet in Iran). Based on our information, all these high-profile breaches one way or another involve Microsoft reliance. The corporate media failed to call out Windows, but a little bit of research often helps boil it down to Microsoft’s NSA-accessible (through back doors) platforms.

“The parent company can now be sued into bankruptcy. It’s the (hidden) high cost of Windows.”Below is a new story which shows how Argentina targets [1] a large number of dissidents for surveillance using a fake “confidential document [that] was intended to infect a Windows computer.” GNU/Linux users needn’t worry about such things. Then of course there is the latest high-profile breach, the one affecting tens of millions of members of Ashley Madison (including almost ten thousand members of the military, including high-ranked ones), some of whom are suing [2] (what’s the price of a failed marriage or blackmail?). The parent company can now be sued into bankruptcy. It’s the (hidden) high cost of Windows. According to [3], “Security Was An Afterthought” at Ashley Madison. Well, that’s quite evident. Ashley Madison is hardly even hiding it (DMCA rampage is not a substitute) and it has been made ever more obvious by the fact that they were using Microsoft Windows.

Microsoft and security are mutually exclusive, unlike Microsoft and insecurity. No secure application can be mounted on top of a base with back doors. It ought to be crystal clear after Snowden’s many revelations.

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. Inside the Spyware Campaign Against Argentine Troublemakers

    Alberto Nisman, the Argentine prosecutor known for doggedly investigating a 1994 Buenos Aires bombing, was targeted by invasive spy software downloaded onto his cellular phone shortly before his mysterious death. The software masqueraded as a confidential document and was intended to infect a Windows computer.

  2. Canadians are suing Ashley Madison because a lack of prophylactic protection

    A BRACE OF LAW FIRMS ARE BEHIND A class action lawsuit against Ashley Madison because it did not do enough to protect personal and private information.

    The class action case, from two Canadian law firms, argues that the hookup stations failed users by not protecting their information and for not deleting it after a fee had been paid to ensure its deletion. It seeks $578m.

    According to the New York Post the lawyers want some satisfaction for a cluster of punters who are currently wearing outraged expressions and regretting joining a site that does what it does in the way that it does it.

  3. ‘Security Was An Afterthought,’ Hacked Ashley Madison Emails Show

    It’s already clear that, despite handling very sensitive data, Ashley Madison did not have the best security. Hackers managed to obtain everything from source code to customer data to internal documents, and the attackers behind the breach, who call themselves the Impact Team, made a mockery of the company’s defenses in an interview.

Links 23/8/2015: BcacheFS Benchmarks, Blackphone 2

Sunday 23rd of August 2015 08:28:37 PM

Contents GNU/Linux Free Software/Open Source Leftovers
  • Met Office loses BBC weather forecasting contract

    The Met Office has lost its BBC weather forecasting contract, it has confirmed.

    The UK’s weather service has provided the data used for BBC forecasts since the corporation’s first radio weather bulletin on 14 November 1922.

    The BBC said it was legally required to secure the best value for money for licence fee payers and would tender the contract to outside competition.

  • The Obama Administration Damages American Interests In Blocking China’s Anti-Corruption Efforts

    Sometimes it is hard to find words even to describe, let alone to explain, the Obama administration’s consistently gauche, blundering, even self-damaging policy decisions and actions toward China.

  • A Guide to Chinese Intelligence Operations

    From government hacks to industrial theft, Chinese intelligence operations are making more headlines now than ever before.

  • Obama Administration Warns Beijing About Covert Agents Operating in U.S.

    The Obama administration has delivered a warning to Beijing about the presence of Chinese government agents operating secretly in the United States to pressure prominent expatriates — some wanted in China on charges of corruption — to return home immediately, according to American officials.

  • U.S. warns China about its secret hunt for fugitives [Ed: syndicated from the above]
  • Josef Stalin’s daughter was a ‘spiritual orphan’

    Svetlana Alliluyeva, Josef’s Stalin’s daughter, led a remarkable, if extremely ruptured, life. Her mother, Nadezhda, died in 1932 when Svetlana was 6, likely through suicide. Her father, the brutal dictator, had no compunction about sending Svetlana’s close relatives to the gulag. Her half-brother, Yakov, died in a German prisoner-of-war camp in 1943. Her other brother, Vasili, died an alcoholic. She married four times and died as Lana Peters in 2011, at age 85. In 1967, when Svetlana defected to the United States, she left her two children behind in Russia. Her story is vividly told by Rosemary Sullivan — who has also written biographies of Margaret Atwood and Gwendolyn MacEwen — in Stalin’s Daughter: The Extraordinary and Tumultuous Life of Svetlana Alliluyeva. Our conversation has been edited for length.

  • Carly Fiorina out of step with Silicon Valley

    Fiorina is “wrong on the social issues as well as a lot of technology issues” and is “culturally not aligned with the ethos in the Valley,” on top of the fact that “there are also a lot of people who have negative impressions of her” from HP, said Jim Ross, a Democratic consultant in the tech hub of San Francisco.

  • Health/Nutrition
    • Carson: Slavery informed my views on abortion

      Former pediatric neurosurgeon Dr. Ben Carson said Sunday that the fight to abolish slavery influenced his views on abortion.

      Carson was asked about a 1992 ad on abortion on CNN’s “State of the Union.” Carson had originally taken a pro-life position on a Maryland abortion referendum, but then appeared in an ad taking back his previous statement and merely asking voters to be educated on the issue before voting.

      Carson said that 20 years ago, “I personally was against abortion, but I was not for causing anybody else to do anything.”

      “I’ve changed, because I’ve learned a lot of things,” said Carson. “I began to think about if abolitionists … had said ‘I don’t believe in slavery, but anybody else can do it if they want to,’ where would we be today? So that changed my opinion.”

  • Defence/Police/Secrecy/Aggression
    • Chilling Artwork ‘Shoots’ Gallery-Goers From Above in Tandem to US Drone Strikes

      Now, Los Angeles-based artist Jonathan Fletcher Moore has taken that data and created an interactive installation titled Artificial Killing Machine that visualizes the attacks in real time.

    • Pentagon to Sharply Expand U.S. Drone Flights Over Next Four Years
    • Obama Administration to Increase Drone Flights 50 Percent

      The increase in drone flights will give the military more intelligence access as well as increase its firepower, which is needed to take on hot spots around the world, a senior defense official told The Wall Street Journal about the upcoming plan.

    • Pentagon to expand drone killing program
    • US military to step up drone flights by 2019
    • Pentagon increasing drone flights by 50% to meet demand for air strikes and global surveillance
    • The Pentagon is planning 50 percent more drone flights by 2019
    • Pentagon To Increase Unmanned Drone Flights Across The Globe By 50 Percent
    • US military to step up drone flights by 2019
    • Carson: Don’t use drones to kill at border
    • Carson calls for drone strikes on border ‘caves’
    • Ben Carson: ‘In No Way Did I Suggest Using Drones To Kill People’ Along The Border
    • Carson says wants drones to blast caves, not people at U.S.-Mexico border
    • U.S. Military To Privatize, Expand Drone Use In African War Zones
    • Turbulence in Pentagon plans to expand drone flights
    • Editorial: More eyes in the skies
    • Why we fact-check political cartoons
    • Covering Cuba, from Sarasota
    • Moral Theory and Drone Warfare: A Literature Review

      “Legal, ethical, and wise”: these are the three adjectives that the Obama administration has used again and again to describe its program of conducting targeted killings by drone strikes. John Brennan, then the White House’s counterterrorism advisor, used the phrase to justify the drone program in a speech at the Wilson Center in April 2012. Almost a year later, Press Secretary Jay Carney invoked the same phrase in defense of the leaked Department of Justice White Paper on the permissible targeted killing of a U.S. citizen and senior Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula operative who posed an imminent threat.

    • Predator Drone Maker Flying Spy Missions For the Pentagon

      The U.S. military wants to boost its drone presence by 50 percent in four years, and it’s hiring help. General Atomics, maker of the ubiquitous Predator and Reaper drones, began flying intelligence missions for the Defense Department this month.

    • Drone Manufacturer Has Been Flying Spy Missions For Defense Since Early August
    • The Former US Military Top-Brass Working for Companies Profiting from Drone Warfare

      Generals and other top military staff who ran the US “Drone Wars” in the Middle East now work for the top drone firms, with lucrative positions at private contractors holding big contracts to help run the remotely controlled killing machines.

      Supposedly “targeted killings” by drones have led to international concern, as victims of “surgical strikes” carried out by the unmanned weapons include wedding parties in Yemen, friendly-fire killings of Afghan soldiers, and nearly 200 children in Pakistan.

      So, wreaking mass death from above is a negative, but on the positive side they have also led to big contracts for defense firms. A Bureau of Investigative Journalism report identified a bunch of large companies that have major contracts for analyzing data and providing other support work that drones need to operate.

    • Kill Chain: The Rise of the High-Tech Assassins, by Andrew Cockburn

      There is, of course, some debate about the morality of drone warfare. Is it ethical to deliberately kill people without trial? Where is the warrior code, the moral hazard, for those who attack with impunity from thousands of kilometres away? What happens when mistakes are bloodily made? How does one define a terrorist? Which side are we on again? Why?

    • Shahzad Akbar fights for Pakistan’s drone victims

      The U.S. contends that it’s going after Al-Qaeda and Taliban fighters, but since the CIA-led drone program is officially secret, little is known about how drone attacks are conducted or targets are chosen. According to a 2014 study by Forensic Architecture, a research project in London, and the U.K.-based Bureau of Investigative Journalism, an independent initiative, this secrecy has contributed to lax bombing practices. To date, the bureau has found that 423 to 965 civilians have been killed in the bombings — 170 to 207 of them children. Most of the victims remain unnamed and unidentified.

    • Simulate The Fatal Fallibility Of Drone Strikes…With A Fun Card Game!

      “The primary [inspiration] was this interactive piece about drone strikes,” Udayasankar tells Co.Design. “Less than 2% of fatalities were high-profile targets. I was fascinated by the fallibility of technology itself and the collateral damage that it facilitates, and, moreover, how we do not take the time to talk about it.”

    • The drone warfare game where you spy on players with your smartphone

      “Bycatch” is a term used by fishermen to describe the extraneous marine life that unintentionally gets caught in their nets. It’s also the name of a card game that deals with a very different sort of collateral damage: the civilians killed by drone strikes.

    • Islamic Militants Demanded Ransom for Bodies of Killed Hostages

      Islamist militants demanded the U.S. government pay ransom for the return of the bodies of two hostages accidentally killed in a U.S. drone strike in Pakistan last January, The Wall Street Journal reports.

    • This top secret World War II drone mission killed JFK’s older brother

      Operation Aphrodite was a top-secret attempt by the Army and Navy to turn old airplanes into suicide drones during World War II. B-17s and B-24s that were past their service life would be packed with several tons of Torpex, an explosive with twice the power of TNT, and then piloted into heavily-fortified targets.

    • Over 10 countries to join China’s military parade

      Troops from at least 10 countries, including Russia and Kazakhstan, will join an unprecedented military parade in Beijing next month to commemorate China’s victory over Japan during the World War-II, Chinese officials said.

      China is inviting foreign troops to participate in a military parade for the first time. It will also be a milestone for President Xi Jinping, who took over as Communist Party leader and military chief in late 2012.

      The parade on September 3 will involve about 12,000 Chinese troops and 200 aircraft, Qi Rui, deputy director of the government office organising the parade, told reporters in Beijing on Friday.

    • Creech Predator crews get help coping with combat

      Critics of drone strikes point out that innocent civilians sometimes die in the attacks. And, there was a friendly fire incident in 2011 involving a Predator missile strike triggered from Creech that left a U.S. sailor and a Marine dead in Afghanistan.

    • Forum: U.S. counterterrorism policy weak, should focus on economic issues

      America actually is relatively safe. Aside from a few cases such as the tragic Chattanooga shootings, Americans killed by terrorists most often are murdered outside of our country, in war zones. However, if we don’t start focusing on the economic instability in vulnerable countries from which most terrorism originates, it is only a matter of time before we see more attacks in our country.

    • Israel Holds Large-Scale Military Drill on Syrian Border

      The Israeli military staged a large-scale drill last week to prepare for a potential ground operation into Syria in the event of an attack by Islamist rebels or the Lebanese Shiite militant group Hezbollah, according to local media reports.

      The rising number of Islamist fighters, many aligned to the Al-Qaeda-affiliated Jabhat al-Nusra, arriving near the Israeli border area in the Syrian part of the Golan Heights has placed the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) on high alert, Israeli television station Channel 2 reported.

    • Israel is Helping Jordanian Special Forces Fighting ISIS on the Ground in Iraq
    • Israel to supply Jordan with drones to help fight Islamic State: report

      As part of a new deal, Israel will supply Jordan with strategic and tactical unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) in order to help combat the Islamic State, according to a local media report.

    • AP Interview: Jordan says Syria militants try to sneak in
    • Israeli forces shoot, kill Palestinian attacker in West Bank

      Allan is on the 63rd day of his hunger-strike in protest of his detention by Israel without charge.

      At least six Palestinians were detained late Sunday and on Monday by the Israeli authorities from the West Bank districts of Hebron and Bethlehem, according to local and security sources.

      A Palestinian man who attacked an Israeli soldier with a knife was shot dead Saturday by Israeli soldiers in the north of the occupied West Bank, said the Palestine Red Crescent Society (PRCS) and the Israeli police.

    • Report: Israeli Drone Strike Kills 5 in Syria

      Israeli airstrikes on the Syrian-controlled portion of the Golan Heights have killed at least five unarmed civilians, according to Syrian state media, in what Israel says was retaliation for rocket fire into its territory. Israel says those killed were Palestinian militants from the Islamic Jihad militant group.

    • Israeli air raids kill five civilians and soldier, says Syria
    • Israel carries out drone strike in southern Syria – killing five

      Israel’s air force has carried out a drone strike in southern Syria – killing five people – while a soldier was killed and seven wounded in an air raid, Syrian state TV has reported.

    • Israeli strike kills 5 Syrian civilians in Qunaitera province
    • Israel Attacks Syria for The second time in 24 Hours

      A new Israeli attack with a drone, killed at least five in al-Koum shanty town, in the Syrian province of Quneitra, at about 67 kilometers southwest of this capital.
      The missile launched from the drone exploded at 10.35 (local time) this Friday, just 50 meters from a popular market, also causing serious material damage.

    • Israeli Attack on Syria’s Quneitera Leaves 5 Civilians Dead

      An Israeli air strike on the Syrian Golan Heights killed at least four Palestinian militants responsible for Thursday’s rocket fire on an Israeli village, an Israeli defense official said on Friday.

    • 50 civilians reported killed in Douma after Syrian army rocket attack

      A Syrian army rocket attack on the rebel-held city of Douma reportedly killed at least 50 civilians.

    • US Drone Strategy Often Violates Sovereignty of Nations – Activist Group

      The US drone strategy frequently undermines the sovereignty of other countries which can damage its own national security, Upstate Drone Action activist Ed Kinane told Sputnik.

    • ‘Probability of US again bombing Libya is always there’

      The US might carry out air strikes again in Libya, but it won’t improve the conditions on the ground, says Abayomi Azikiwe, editor of the Pan-African News Wire. The US would rather allow Egypt and the UAE to carry out certain aspects of this foreign policy in Libya, he adds.

    • US Wants To Increase Global Lethal And Surveillance Drone Flights To 30,000 By 2019

      As if in complete defiance of the extensive contention at home and abroad, the Pentagon announced plans this week to dramatically ramp up global drone operations over the next four years.

      Daily drone flights will increase by 50% during this time, and will include lethal air strikes and surveillance missions to deal with the increase in global hot spots and crises, according to an unnamed (and unverified) senior defense official, as reported by The Wall Street Journal.

      “We’ve seen a steady signal from all our geographic combatant commanders to have more of this capability,” said Defense Department spokesperson, Navy Captain Jeff Davis to reporters at the Pentagon.

    • ‘No Good Evidence’ Russia Behind Shootdown of Malaysia Air Flight 17 in Ukraine, Says Longtime CIA Analyst Ray McGovern: ‘BradCast’ 8/20/2015

      On today’s BradCast, we are joined by retired, 27-year CIA analyst turned peace activist Ray McGovern, who personal delivered the CIA’s Presidential Daily Briefings to several Presidents, including Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush. His organization,Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS) — which includes several high-ranking former intelligence professionals and whistleblowers — have called, once again, on the U.S. to release any evidence to support their claims that Russia was behind the downing of MH17.

    • Ray McGovern: Propaganda, Intelligence, and MH-17

      During a recent interview, I was asked to express my conclusions about the July 17, 2014 shoot-down of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 over Ukraine, prompting me to take another hard look at Official Washington’s dubious claims – pointing the finger of blame at eastern Ukrainian rebels and Moscow – based on shaky evidence regarding who was responsible for this terrible tragedy.

    • US MH17 Evidence ‘Sketchy as One Could Imagine’ – CIA Veteran Analyst
    • ‘Political Hacks’ Wrote US Report Linking Russia To Crash Of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17: Ex-CIA Analyst

      A U.S. government report implicating Russia in the July 2014 crash of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 was created by political writers rather than intelligence analysts, a former CIA analyst-turned-political activist told Russia’s Sputnik News. Sputnik is wholly owned by the Russian government, which reportedly backs Ukrainian separatists accused of firing a missile at the plane as it flew near the Russia-Ukraine border.

      “What [U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry] offered was a ‘government assessment,’ which means it was written in the White House, which means it was a political document written by political hacks, and that the intelligence analysts would not sign on to it,” Ray McGovern, a CIA analyst from 1963 to 1990, told Sputnik. McGovern was previously known for implying that President George W. Bush could have prevented the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks in New York City and Arlington County, Virginia.

    • Former CIA head: Back Iran nuclear deal — with some conditions

      Former CIA Director Michael Hayden, an influential and vocal critic of the Obama administration’s nuclear agreement with Iran, said Wednesday that Congress actually should consider approving the accord — but only after tacking on a number of conditions designed to pressure Iran not to cheat on the deal, including an authorization for military action.

    • Britain to reopen embassy in Tehran this weekend
    • The old US embassy, museum in Tehran: Inside the ‘US den of espionage’
    • Britain’s embassy in Iran: a reminder of a difficult shared history

      When the foreign secretary visits Tehran on Sunday to reopen the British embassy after a closure of nearly four years, he will doubtless talk of new beginnings. Now Iran has signed a deal limiting its nuclear programme, the way is clear for new business contracts, new opportunities, a new chapter. That approach may appeal to the British businesspeople on the trip, licking their lips at the prospect of selling oilfield equipment or financial services, but Iranians do not discard history so easily.

    • Britain to reopen embassy in Tehran this weekend after four years
    • What’s Really At Stake With The Iran Nuclear Deal

      Nearly every major western country has recently sent trade missions to Iran in anticipation of sanctions being lifted. Representatives included major international oil companies, banks, and manufacturers. Their enormous influence and immense wealth will weigh heavily in resolving the issue.

    • Iran deal step in right direction

      We would do well to remember that Iran didn’t start this crisis. The crisis didn’t start with Iranians overthrowing the Shah and taking of American hostages in 1979. It started when the U.S. CIA overthrew the democratically elected Iranian government of Mohammed Mosaddegh in 1953 and installed a brutal dictator (the Shah) in his place.

    • Rogue States and Nuclear Dangers [Ed: reposted below]
    • The Nuclear Deal
    • ‘The Iranian Threat’

      Throughout the world there is great relief and optimism about the nuclear deal reached in Vienna between Iran and the P5+1 nations, the five veto-holding members of the U.N. Security Council and Germany. Most of the world apparently shares the assessment of the U.S. Arms Control Association that “the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action establishes a strong and effective formula for blocking all of the pathways by which Iran could acquire material for nuclear weapons for more than a generation and a verification system to promptly detect and deter possible efforts by Iran to covertly pursue nuclear weapons that will last indefinitely.”

    • Backers of Iran deal get key ally

      President Barack Obama’s nuclear agreement with Iran gained momentum in Congress on Friday as a key Jewish Democrat from New York bucked home-state opposition to support the deal.

    • Obama writes letter to reassure congressional Democrats on Iran deal
    • Five books on the legacy of the 1953 coup in Iran

      This week’s 62th anniversary of the coup upending Mohammad Mossadegh comes with interest as strong as ever in Iran’s best-known prime minister. But while historians and journalists see the coup of 19 August 1953 as a pivotal event for Iran, they agree on little else (including the transliteration of his name into Latin letters).

    • Britain to reopen embassy in Tehran this weekend

      Britain will reopen its embassy in Iran this weekend nearly four years after protesters ransacked the elegant ambassadorial residence and burned the British flag.

    • Iran says it shot down reconnaissance drone near Iraq border after it ‘confronted’ air defense

      Iran’s official IRNA news agency says the military has shot down a reconnaissance drone in western Iran near the border with Iraq.

      IRNA quoted Col. Farzad Fereidouni, a local air defense system commander, in a report Saturday as saying the unmanned aircraft was shot down in recent days after it “confronted” the air defense missile system. He didn’t say which country the drone belonged to, or give specifics on the timing.

    • Iran remembers 1953 US-led coup against then Iran PM

      Iran is remembering the anniversary of the 1953 coup against the government of then democratically-elected Prime Minister Mohammad Mosaddeq.

    • The CIA’s Coup Against Iran’s Mohammad Mossadegh

      Mohammad Mossadegh (pictured) became Prime Minister of Iran in 1951 and was hugely popular for taking a stand against the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company, a British-owned oil company that had made huge profits while paying Iran only 16% of its profits and often far less. His nationalization efforts led the British government to begin planning to remove him from power. In October 1952, Mosaddegh declared Britain an enemy and cut all diplomatic relations. Britain looked towards the United States for help. However, the U.S. had opposed British policies; Secretary of State Dean Acheson said the British had “a rule-or-ruin policy in Iran.”

    • COMMENTARY: Best way to get rid of enemy Iran: Get unstuck

      •Quit sending arms to anyone in the region

      •Quit telling Iranian people what to do

      •Offer to help, but not militarily

      •Start lifting sanctions slowly, unilaterally

      •Wait for reciprocity and repeat (Rapoport’s tested game theory)

    • The CIA’s grotesque secret: How it’s partnering with human rights abusers — and sparking blowback

      In a letter to three U.S. senators that recently came to light, CIA director John Brennan outlined how his intelligence agency deals with abusive partners, referring – it would appear – primarily to foreign security forces. But even more striking than the approach he outlines is his brutally honest admission that the CIA sometimes partners with human rights abusers.

      The agency’s covert nature leaves its laws, rules and regulations opaque. However, it has long been known that the CIA is not subject to human rights vetting requirements when it comes to partnering with foreign security forces, as the State and Defense departments are, under what is commonly known as the Leahy Law, named for Vermont Democratic Sen. Patrick Leahy. Congress first approved the law in 1997, when it was revealed that Colombian army units were receiving U.S. funds while massacring civilians. The Leahy Law restricts the State Department and Pentagon from using U.S. taxpayer dollars to assist, train or equip any foreign military or police unit that is credibly believed to have engaged in gross violations of human rights – such as extrajudicial killings, torture, rape and forced disappearances.

      On moral grounds alone there can be little objection to this restriction. But it also makes sense for national security. While Brennan may not acknowledge it, abusive security forces combatting domestic insurgencies typically exacerbate long-standing grievances and provide armed opposition and terrorist groups with a very powerful recruiting tool.

    • On the brink of destruction: The real NUCLEAR threat if North Korea attacks the South

      North Korea’s main ally is China, which provides fuel and food aid, while it maintains a close relationship with Russia.

      However positive ties with the US and South Korea are non-existent.

      The promotion of Kim Jong-un has leader following the death of his father Kim Jong-Il in 2011 has done little to improve that.

    • Iraq ex-PM Maliki dismisses report blaming him for Mosul’s fall to ISIS

      The former prime minister of Iraq, Nuri al-Maliki, who a domestic investigation has found responsible for Mosul’s conquest by Islamic State in June, 2014, has slammed the panel’s findings on the humiliating fall of the key northern city as having “no value.”

    • Officials: ISIS Arose From US Support For al-Qaeda In Iraq

      A new memoir by a former senior State Department analyst provides stunning details on how decades of support for Islamist militants linked to Osama bin Laden brought about the emergence of the ‘Islamic State’ (ISIS).

      The book establishes a crucial context for recent admissions by Michael T. Flynn, the retired head of the Pentagon’s Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), confirming that White House officials made a “willful decision” to support al-Qaeda affiliated jihadists in Syria — despite being warned by the DIA that doing so would likely create an ‘ISIS’-like entity in the region.

      J. Michael Springmann, a retired career US diplomat whose last government post was in the State Department’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research, reveals in his new book that US covert operations in alliance with Middle East states funding anti-Western terrorist groups are nothing new. Such operations, he shows, have been carried out for various short-sighted reasons since the Cold War and after.

    • Bombing Syria plays into Isis’ hands

      Whoever the new Labour leader is, they’ll have a lot on their plate and one of the first big issues is likely to be Syria. The on-going civil war is only getting worse, and defence secretary Michael Fallon has already announced that a vote on military intervention will take place later in the year.

      In one sense, the question of whether the UK military should be taking part in bombing is a moot one, because it already is. A freedom of information request from Reprieve found UK military personnel have already engaged in air strikes as part of US operations. The admission showed the public and parliament had been misled. MPs voted against bombing Syria in 2013.

    • How to Understand Those 60 Trainees

      So said American Defense Secretary Ash Carter in testimony before an incredulous Senate Armed Services Committee on July 7, explaining that the $500 million American project, announced over a year ago, to train and arm a new Syrian rebel army to bring the Islamic State to its knees and force a political settlement on the Syrian regime simultaneously has, to date, trained just 60 fighters.

    • Lesson from Syrian rebel debacle

      Division 30 was the first contingent of Syrian rebels deployed under a $500 million “train and equip” plan authorized last year by Congress. It’s an overt program, run by U.S. Special Forces, separate from a parallel covert program run by the CIA. The idea is to generate over 5,000 trained fighters a year who could help clear Islamic State extremists in Syria and then hold the ground.

    • Meet The ‘Moderates’ The U.S. Is Supporting In Syria: They’re al-Qaeda

      In this regard, Obama is following the position that was expressed by his friend Brzezinski who has expressed it many times, such as, in 1998, reprinted later under the heading, “How Jimmy Carter and I Started the Mujahideen.”

    • Robert Fisk: The Syrian War has occupied Turkey

      In a recent article, Robert Fisk, senior Middle East correspondent for the Independent, compared Turkey to Pakistan in the 1980s, and said that the recent air bombardment was no surprising given that all powers in the region have betrayed the Kurds. We spoke to Fisk both about the details of the matters he touches on in his article, and whether power balances have changed in the Middle East. Fisk says that Turkey has become a market place and when seen from this perspective there are more important issues at stake besides whether or not Turkey will enter the war in Syria. “I believe that Syria has started penetrating Turkey. Suruç is an example of this. From this view, the Syrian War but not the Syrians have occupied Turkey. It is not the reverse.”

    • Another Military Comedy of Errors

      On July 24th, highlighting the first Turkish air strikes against the Islamic State and news of an agreement to let the U.S. Air Force use two Turkish air bases against that movement, the New York Times reported that unnamed “American officials welcomed the [Turkish] decision… calling it a ‘game changer.’” And they weren’t wrong. Almost immediately, the game changed. Turkish President Recep Erdogan promptly sent planes hurtling off not against Islamic State militants but the PKK, that country’s Kurdish rebels with whom his government had previously had a tenuous ceasefire. In the process, he created a whole new set of problems for Washington, including making life more difficult for Kurdish rebel troops in Syria connected to the PKK that the Obama administration was backing in the fight against the Islamic State. Erdogan’s acts also ensured that chaos and conflict would spread to new areas of the Middle East. So game-changer indeed!

    • Erdogan-ISIS pincer against Kurds

      Reports from the PKK-aligned Kurdistan National Congress indicate an internal war by the Turkish state against the Kurds in the country’s east, approaching levels of violence not seen in 20 years. Several villages in Diyarbakir province are said to be under heavy shelling by the Turkish army. Many of these villages are reported to be currently burning, with many injured, and an unknown number killed. After hours of shelling, Turkish soldiers reportedly entered the village of Kocakoy, Lice-Hani district, putting homes to the torch—sometimes with families still inside, resulting in further loss of life. Troops then proceeded to force an evacuation of the villages. It is not said where the survivors fled to. A similar attack is reported from Şapatan (Turkish: Altınsu) village in Şemdinli district, Hakkari province, where the blaze has spread to surrounding forest areas. (KNC, KNC, Aug. 18)

    • Think the Donald Can Get Us a Better Deal on Porter Goss?

      None of this is news. Turkey’s not even among the top ten spenders, as far as foreign lobbies go. (That honor usually goes to Canada, although apparently in 2013 it went to the UAE.)

      But here’s the thing that chaps my hide. I’m fine with selling our politicians to foreign governments. We’re running a $43.8 billion trade deficit, after all. We can’t afford to be fussy.

      But aren’t you insulted that we’re selling them so cheaply? We’re the United States of America. Shouldn’t Porter Goss be worth more than a measly 32,000 bucks a month? We borrow more than that every minute, so why should we sell him for less than 32,000 dollars a second? What kind of superpower do these people take us for?

      And if we’ve already established that, and we’re just haggling over the price, we need to get serious about dollars and cents. Because that’s peanuts, and it’s not going to pay the bills.

    • How ‘Manageable Chaos’ Spawned ISIS In The Middle East

      ‘Manageable chaos’ is a myopic idea that has torn the Middle-East apart. To understand why, we need to go back a hundred years in the past. In 1916, Britain and France signed the Sykes-Picot Agreement in secret. Then, in the middle of the First World War, they decided the Ottoman Empire needed to go. Sultan Mehmed VI in Istanbul controlled crucial shipping lanes and the oil riches of the Persian Gulf. So, while T.E Lawrence duped the Arab sheikhs with promises of a “Greater Syria,” the European powers divided the Levant as it suited them.

      The problem was not that outsiders drew the borders. The problem was these borders were indifferent to the people who lived within them. The clean lines carved through the Middle-East ignored sectarian, tribal or ethnic geographies. Many Shia majority areas ended up under Sunni control, and vice-versa. Thirty-million Kurds also ended up homeless. These progeny of the mighty Median Kings of Asia Minor became minorities in Turkey, Syria, Iraq and Iran.

    • US-trained Syrian rebel expects to fight Assad

      A member of the U.S.-trained Syrian rebel forces says he expects to fight forces loyal to President Bashar Assad, even though they pledged only to combat the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) in order to participate the Pentagon program.

    • At Security Council, UN officials spotlight need for effective and accountable security institutions
    • Security Council strongly condemns seizure of United Arab Emirates embassy in Yemen

      The United Nations Security Council today condemned “in the strongest term” the storming and seizure of the United Arab Emirates embassy in Sana’a, Yemen, by the Houthis on the 17 August 2015.

    • U.S. boosts support role in Saudi-led airstrikes on Yemen

      A Saudi-led military offensive against Houthi rebels in Yemen has scored major gains this month, including recapturing the strategic port of Aden and the country’s largest air base, after the Pentagon more than doubled the number of American advisors to provide enhanced intelligence for airstrikes.

    • First cargo docks in Aden since war came to south Yemen’s ex-capital

      A commercial ship docked in Aden on Friday, the first to reach the former southern capital since Yemen’s devastating war came to the port city in March.

      The Venus, operated by United Arab Shipping Co, carried a cargo of 350 containers of products ordered by businesses in Aden, said port deputy director Aref al-Shaabi.

    • Al Qaeda deploy in Yemen’s Aden, British hostage freed

      Al Qaeda militants took control of a western district of Yemen’s main port city of Aden on Saturday night, residents said, in another sign that the group is drawing strength from five months of civil war.

    • UAE army frees British hostage as Al Qaeda expands in Yemen
    • Yemen officials say Al Qaeda seizes key areas of Aden
    • 43 killed in airstrikes on Yemen city

      Iranian-allied fighters controlling much of Yemen said on Friday air strikes led by Saudi Arabia killed 43 people in the central city of Taiz.
      Taiz has become the latest focus of fighting for supporters of President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, who was driven into exile in Saudi Arabia by the Houthi fighters. Medical sources said Houthi attacks on the city killed 13 people, including seven children.

    • U.S. needs to take care of its own business

      Nonetheless, we have just about bankrupted ourselves trying.

      We have employed our military abroad more than 70 times since 1945, and also engaged in innumerable instances of not-so-covert CIA interference in the affairs of other sovereign nations.

      The latter include instances of overthrowing democratically elected governments we considered too leftist.

      And the truth is that in none of these instances have we had any long-lasting success in achieving our goals. We have, instead, uselessly wasted an enormous amount of treasure and human lives while creating more and more enemies all over the globe. We have created these enemies because almost all of our high-handed meddling has had unforeseen and unfortunate, often tragic, consequences.

      We now have about 1,000 military bases abroad (the exact figure depends on the number of smaller bases included), well over 300,000 U.S. military personnel deployed abroad, 1.6 million Americans working in defense industries, and the good Lord knows how many working for the CIA and other surveillance/intelligence government agencies and private contractors.

    • Obama’s Secret Elite Interrogation Squad May Not Be So Elite — And Might Be Doomed

      When President Barack Obama took office, he promised to overhaul the nation’s process for interrogating terror suspects. His solution: the High-Value Detainee Interrogation Group, or HIG, a small interagency outfit that would use non-coercive methods and the latest psychological research to interrogate America’s most-wanted terrorists — all behind a veil of secrecy.

    • US interrogation strategy gets scrutiny in Benghazi case

      After a suspected militant was captured last year to face charges for the deadly 2012 attacks on Americans in Benghazi, Libya, he was brought to the U.S. aboard a Navy transport ship on a 13-day trip that his lawyers say could have taken 13 hours by plane.

      Ahmed Abu Khattala faced days of questioning aboard the USS New York from separate teams of American interrogators, part of a two-step process designed to obtain both national security intelligence and evidence usable in a criminal prosecution.

    • Russia Laughs At U.S. Sanctions Threat

      Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, when asked about the implications of the sale, was said to have scoffed at the threat of U.S. sanctions and said they cause no worry for Moscow.

    • Cyanide in waters near China blast site 277 times acceptable level: government report

      Chinese authorities warned that cyanide levels in the waters around the Tianjin Port explosion site had risen to as much as 277 times acceptable levels although they declared that the city’s drinking water was safe.

    • China: Sodium cyanide levels well past limit at Tianjin explosion site

      High levels of dangerous chemicals remain at the site of last week’s deadly chemical warehouse blasts in the northern Chinese city of Tianjin — hundreds of times higher than is safe at one spot — officials said Thursday, signaling that a cleanup has a significant way to go.

      Water tests show high levels of sodium cyanide, an extremely toxic chemical that can kill humans rapidly, at eight locations at the blast site, Ministry of Environmental Protection official Tian Weiyong said.

    • At least 7 dead after old military jet crashes at air show in England

      At least seven people are dead after a vintage military aircraft crashed Saturday on a busy road in southeastern England, police said.

      The Hawker Hunter jet was taking part in an air show at an airport near Shoreham in Sussex.

    • Why The US Turns A Blind Eye To Saudi Arabia’s Troublemaking

      NOTHING gets US Republican Party politicians fired up like Iran.

      In the first televised debate for candidates competing to lead the Republicans in the 2016 presidential election, Scott Walker promised that he’d tear up the Iran nuclear deal on day one of his presidency. Carly Fiorina blamed the country for “most of the evil that is going on in the Middle East.” Mike Huckabee vowed to topple the “terrorist Iranian regime and defeat the evil forces of radical Islam.”

      Oddly, when the candidates complain about the “evil forces of radical Islam” or trouble in the Middle East, they never seem to mention Saudi Arabia.

      Iran’s no democratic paradise. But on many counts, Washington’s Saudi allies are even worse. The Saudi royals crush dissent with an iron fist, spread extremist ideology, and invade their neighbors with impunity.

      Domestically, the Saudi regime oppresses women, religious minorities, and millions of foreign workers. And it brutally represses criticism from human rights activists, prompting condemnation from both Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch.

      Saudi blogger Raif Badawi, for example, was sentenced to 10 years in prison and 1,000 lashes just for writing a blog the government considered critical of its rule. Hundreds of political prisoners languish in prison — including Badawi’s lawyer, who was sentenced to 15 years for his role as a human rights attorney. New legislation effectively equates criticism of the government and other peaceful activities with terrorism.

    • Rebels threaten to kill observers, OSCE complains

      OSCE monitoring mission in Ukraine deputy head Alexander Hug said at the Aug. 19 briefing in Donetsk that the rebels had threatened to kill OSCE observers if they would come again to Bezimenne, Novoazovsk rayon, UNIAN reports.

    • LETTER: Stop the manufacturing and flying of drones

      When are Americans going to demand our leaders protect us against drones? Our politicians did nothing on gun control. Now they will look the other way on drones.

      Drones should not be produced or manufactured. Take away permits and the right to manufacture them. The U.S. Armed Forces should be the only ones to purchase drones. If I can’t put a 10-by-10 addition on my home without bureaucratic regulations, why is it permitted to manufacture drones?

    • Florida shooting range to serve alcohol in restaurant

      Officials in a Florida city have approved the request of a businessman to serve alcohol in a restaurant he plans to open in a building with an indoor shooting range.

      CNN affiliate WFTV reported that Daytona Beach city commissioners have signed off on Ron Perkinson’s proposed facility, which Perkinson hopes to open by late November. The facility will be located near Daytona International Speedway just off Interstate 95.

    • 9-year-old girl in Ferguson shot dead doing homework on mom’s bed: cops

      Ferguson police are searching for clues about the killing of a 9-year-old girl who was shot when someone fired into a home where she was doing homework on her mother’s bad.

      No arrests have been made in Tuesday night’s fatal shooting of Jamyla Bolden and police don’t yet know if the home was targeted or the shots were random, Ferguson Sgt. Dominica Fuller said Thursday. Jamyla’s 34-year-old mother was struck in the leg and treated at a hospital.

    • What Use Does the Los Angeles Unified School District Have for Military Grade Weapons?

      On Thursday, July 30, 50 Black and Latino students wearing mock bullet proof vests with stickers that stated #StudentsAintBulletProof #End1033, from the Strategy Center’s Fight for the Soul of the Cities, once again asked the Los Angeles Unified School District to give us a list of the weapons they received from the Department of Defense 1033 Program, to return 61 M-16 assault rifles we believe are still in their possession, and to apologize for being in the program in the first place. Students said, after three public comment testimonies, four long letters (September 2014, November 2014, May 2015, July 2015), over 3,500 petitions, appeals, and every other method of persuasion “Why is the LAUSD trying to kill us?” This campaign is part of the Strategy Center’s No Cars in LA and the U.S., No Tanks in LA and the U.S.

  • Transparency Reporting
  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife
  • Finance
  • PR/AstroTurf/Lobbying
    • Allegations over Maltese group’s links to the CIA

      In the early 1980s suspicions that the Maltese group Front Freedom Fighters was being funded by anti-Communist entities close to the CIA were covertly communicated to the British Foreign Office, recently declassified documents reveal.

    • ISIS Threatens Turkey. Turks Respond With Half-Hearted ‘Meh’
    • Kurdish rebels attack police, military in Turkey, one policeman killed
    • Report: Turkey erects concrete wall along border with Syria

      Turkish media reports say Turkey has started to construct a 45 kilometer- (28 mile-) long concrete wall along a key stretch of its border with Syria.

    • Turkey Pays Former CIA Director and Lobbyists to Misrepresent Attacks on Kurds and ISIS

      Thousands of articles have been published worldwide in recent weeks exposing Turkey’s strategic trickery — using the pretext of fighting ISIS to carry out a genocidal bombing campaign against the Kurds who have courageously countered ISIS in Syria and Iraq.

      The Wall Street Journal reported on August 12 that a senior US military official accused Turkey of deceiving the American government by allowing its use of Incirlik airbase to attack ISIS, as a cover for President Erdogan’s war on Kurdish fighters (PKK) in northern Iraq. So far, Turkey has carried out 300 air strikes against the PKK, and only three against ISIS! Erdogan’s intent in punishing the Kurds is to gain the sympathy of Turkish voters in the next parliamentary elections, enabling his party to win an outright majority and establish an autocratic presidential theocracy.

    • The Mighty Wurlitzer: How the CIA Played America

      The history of the American Central Intelligence Agency (CIA)—its coups, assassinations, “extraordinary rendition” kidnappings, use of torture, “black sites,” drone executions, dirty wars and sponsorship of dictatorial regimes [1]—not only underscores the bloody and reactionary role of American imperialism, but most especially the ruling elite’s mortal fear of the working class internationally.

    • We deserve a better media

      Here is another clue: ‘We’ll know our disinformation programme is complete when everything the American public believes is false,” CIA Director, 1981. It seems he got his wish.

      Two weeks before the outbreak of WWII, a solemn British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain remarked, “History will judge the Press to have been the principle cause of war.”

      Nevile Henderson, the British Ambassador to Berlin echoed the premier’s words. France’s President Lebrun and Foreign Minister warned the Press ‘not to abuse their so-called Press freedom.’ In September 1941, U.S Senator Clark: ‘Half a dozen men controlling the film industry clamour for war.’

    • Psychological warfare and Jeremy Corbyn

      Earlier this month I briefly wrote about how the incessant stream of attacks on Jeremy Corbyn from all parts of the media, represented more than meets the eye. That it is a continuation of an undemocratic and sinister policy of subversion and undermining of any popular left wing movement or leader, that poses a threat to the capitalist system and military-industrial-complex.

    • Fox & Friends Rewrites Background Of Alleged Terrorists To Make Them The Face Of Birthright Citizenship

      Fox & Friends joined The Daily Caller in an effort to make alleged terrorists Anwar al-Awlaki and Yaser Hamdi the face of birthright citizenship, falsely claiming the men were born in the U.S. to “illegal parents” and able to pursue terrorist activities without retaliation because their citizenship protected them.

    • Are Democrats Really Socialists?

      Socialism has had a rough few decades, but it’s enjoying a rare success. Bernie Sanders, who calls himself a socialist, is running for president, drawing big crowds and leading Hillary Clinton in one poll in New Hampshire. All this leads some people to a damning conclusion: Democrats love Sanders because Democrats are socialists.

    • Who shapes our image of the world?

      …Charlotte Wiedemann considers how press freedom and the media are tethered to Western geopolitics

    • France’s far-right National Front party ousts founder, Jean-Marie Le Pen

      Jean-Marie Le Pen, who founded the party in 1972, was serving as honorary president when he was suspended in May for saying he saw the Holocaust as a “detail of history.” He challenged the suspension in court, and in July a judge overturned it, saying proper procedure had not been followed.

  • Censorship
  • Privacy
  • Civil Rights
    • Who Was the CIA Official Who Found Torture Revolting? And Other Questions the ACLU Still Has About CIA Torture

      In early December 2014, Senate Intelligence Committee Chair Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., released a summary of her staff’s five-year investigation of the CIA’s interrogation programs following 9/11.

      Best known as the “Torture Report,” the document revealed searing details of ghastly abuses ranging from “rectal feedings” to “near drowning” on the waterboard.

    • CIA ‘torture’: Inside the ‘blackout box’
    • Key conclusions of the Hoffman report

      Below are some of the key findings of the Hoffman report, an independent review of the American Psychological Association’s ethics guidelines and allegations made against APA. The report concludes that APA failed to challenge and legitimized the “enhanced interrogation” techniques authorized used against terror suspects during the Bush administration. Gerald Koocher, DePaul’s current Dean of the College of Science and Health, served as president-elect of APA in 2005 and president in 2006, the time of these allegations.

    • Roy Eidelson and Jean Maria Arrigo: An unhealthy nexus of interests

      The APA got into this mess by holding tightly to a deeply flawed assumption: that psychology should embrace every opportunity to expand its sphere of influence.

    • Consorting With the Devil

      Throughout the Cold War, and doubtless right down to the present, professional people with skills relevant to “national security” have been secretly recruited to work for the Central Intelligence Agency and the Department of Defense. Universities are among those particularly targeted. Scholars and campus research centers have received CIA and DoD funding for conferences and publications, for collecting intelligence while abroad, and even for spying, all under cloak of secrecy.

      [...]

      The latest revelation concerning those who “consort with the devil” concerns psychologists in the American Psychological Association. In utter disregard for professional ethics, a number of prominent psychologists worked closely with the CIA’s and the Pentagon’s torture programs in Afghanistan. They not only condoned but personally profited from torture, all in the name of supporting the US war effort. It was a case of first-class collusion, abuse of authority, and conflict of interest—and it went largely unnoticed until recently.

    • US Torturers Lose Psychologists’ Corrupt Cooperation

      The resolution proper begins by adopting the international law definition of torture in the UN Convention Against Torture, which is at variance with US law. The resolution also acknowledges that some 3,400 psychologists work for the Department of Defense (mostly at VA hospitals) and commits the APA to supporting the ethical behavior of these psychologists in these and similar “organizational settings.” And the resolution commits the APA to notifying the President, Congress, and other officials of the core of its mandate:

    • Editorial: When psychologists cross the line

      Koocher, in a statement on his website, said he and former APA President Ronald Levant insisted that they “never have supported the use of cruel, degrading or inhumane treatment of prisoners or detainees.”

      But the report, which was drafted at the APA’s request by former City of Chicago Inspector General David Hoffman and his colleagues at the firm Sidley Austin, saw the APA’s actions differently. The report concluded that the APA tried to curry favor with the U.S. Department of Defense, with which it had strong ties and is one of the largest employers of psychologists, by issuing loose ethical guidelines for psychologists involved in interrogations. These guidelines did not constrain the interrogations beyond the rules the government had already set for itself and allowed psychologists to remain involved.

    • Why ethical psychologists play an important role in interrogations [Ed: apologist]
    • When the American Psychological Association was in bed with the CIA

      David Hoffman, former assistant US attorney, conducted a review of the APA’s extensive involvement and wrote in his subsequent report, ‘The evidence supports the conclusion that APA officials colluded the DoD officials to, at the least, adopt and maintain APA ethics policies that were not more restrictive than the guidelines that key DoD officials wanted’.

      Hoffman also stated that the ‘APA chose its ethics policy based on its goals of helping the DoD, managing PR, and maximising the growth of the profession’.

      Prior to Hoffman’s investigation, the APA dismissed and denied allegations of their complicity. The report, however, brought the credibility of the association into question, and earlier this month a ban was approved. In an effort to salvage their reputation, they prohibited any involvement by psychologists in national security interrogations – including noncoercive interrogations under the Obama administration.

    • Good People Doing Bad Things

      Some years ago, the psychologist Albert Bandura listed eight mental tricks people play to disengage their consciences so they can perform the acts of violence they would normally abhor.

      [...]

      Moral Justification, Euphemistic Labeling, Advantageous Comparison, Displacement of Responsibility, Diffusion of Responsibility, Disregard or Distortion of Consequences, Dehumanization, Attribution of Blame

    • COLUMN: American Psychological Association removes psychologists from CIA interrogations

      A number of other psychologists have been, and continue to be, used in CIA black sites and Guantanamo Bay, despite petitions to remove said psychologists.

    • CIA blocked full release of report criticising torture techniques

      Not only did those who combed through six million pages of internal CIA documents expose the brutal tactics used by operatives, which included locking detainees in coffin-shaped box for hours or hanging them on a pole for days, they found the practices – which were eventually deemed by the US Supreme Court as outside the Geneva Convention for human rights – didn’t actually lead to the vital information they claimed.

      [...]

      “I walked out of Zero Dark Thirty, candidly,” Dianne Feinstein, the former chairperson of the State Intelligence Committee told the Frontline program. “We were having a showing and I got into it 15 to 20 minutes and I left, I couldn’t handle it because it’s so false.”

    • Next Cazenovia Forum: A Look Inside the CIA and its Controversies

      Over a 34 year career with the CIA, Rizzo made sweeping legal calls on virtually every major issue facing the spy agency, from rules governing waterboarding, “enhanced interrogation” and drones to answering for the Iran Contra scandal.

    • FORMER CIA LEADERS WRITE BOOK TO WHITEWASH TORTURE HISTORY

      The CIA’s torture-era leadership won’t repent. Even after the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence released its report saying in no uncertain terms that the CIA had tortured its prisoners, that torture was official U.S. government policy, and that torture never elicited any actionable intelligence that saved American lives, Bush-era CIA Directors George Tenet, Porter Goss, Michael Hayden, and several of their underlings announced plans to release a book justifying torture.

      They intend to repeat a lie over and over again in this book: that torture worked. They hope that the American people are either so gullible or so stupid that they’ll believe it. It’s up to the rest of us to ensure that our government swears off committing this crime against humanity.

      I know that these former intelligence leaders are lying because I worked with them at the CIA. When I blew the whistle on the CIA’s torture program in 2007, they came down on me like a ton of bricks.

      It’s not necessarily news that these former CIA heavyweights believe in torture, even if they refuse to call it what it is. Many television news outlets still run clips of George Tenet’s 2007 appearance on CBS’s “60 Minutes” in which he repeats “We do not torture! We do not torture!” as though he were unhinged and living in a dream world.

    • Leadership: Change Not Welcome Here

      Since the 1990s there have been increasingly open (public) complaints from users about poor quality work from the U.S. Department of Defense intelligence agencies. This all began in the late 1940s when the CIA was established to coordinate all of the U.S.’s intelligence gathering activities. At that point there began a low level war between the CIA and the Department of Defense.

    • What do Don Rumsfeld and others identified with the Pollard Affair fear from his release?
    • ProPublica and John Kiriakou to receive freedom of speech awards

      PEN Center USA, one of two American branches of the international human rights organization, will honor the investigative journalism non-profit ProPublica and the former CIA officer John Kiriakou, who became an inadvertent whistleblower, on November 16 in a ceremony hosted by Aisha Tyler. Though more award winners are yet to be named, these two choices illustrate the wide range of pressures that news organizations currently face.

    • Dodging Torture (Again)

      Last Thursday, Jeb Bush declared to an Iowa audience that he wouldn’t rule out resuming torture practices by the United States government. “I don’t know,” he hedged. “I’m just saying if I’m going to be president of the United States, you take this threat [Islamic State group] seriously.”

      Two Thursdays ago, during Fox’s highly watched GOP debate, Megyn Kelly asked presidential candidate Ben Carson whether he would bring back waterboarding. A retired neurosurgeon, Carson replied in the subjunctive, coyly saying that if he were to reinstate torture methods, he wouldn’t broadcast this and “tell everybody what we’re going to do.” As a doctor (think: first do no harm), Carson must have seen countless patients in pain over his career. Even for him to say he might torture is alarming. More appalling is that his polls have since surged, and as of this week, Carson has been statistically named the winner of the Fox debate.

      A few days before this debate, Donald Trump told ABC that he thinks “waterboarding doesn’t sound very severe.” This statement would shock us had Trump not already demonstrated his poor understanding of what torture entails, as evidenced by his disparaging remarks about John McCain’s status as a war hero.

    • ‘Each one of us can make a difference,’ Ban declares as UN marks World Humanitarian Day
    • Louis Stokes, first black U.S. congressman from Ohio, dies at 90

      In 1967, in a campaign that helped change racial politics in the United States, Carl Stokes was elected to the first of two terms as Cleveland mayor. The next year, Louis Stokes, a lawyer who had brought several cases to the U.S. Supreme Court, won the congressional seat that he would hold until his retirement in 1998.

    • Bruce Elfant says U.S. about 100th in voter turnout, Texas near bottom too

      A Travis County official declared the United States and Texas lag far behind other countries and states in voting.

      On Aug. 5, 2015, Democrat Bruce Elfant, the Travis County tax assessor-collector, was interviewed by Dick Ellis of the KOKE-FM Austin Radio Network about the 50th anniversary of President Lyndon B. Johnson signing the Voting Rights Act.

      Johnson, Elfant said, “would be very disappointed by the number of Americans who choose to use that right. The United States is about 100th in voter turnout among the industrialized nations and Texas is near the bottom in terms of voter registration and voter turnout,” he said.

    • ‘Guantanamo Diary’ details appalling injustice

      I am reading “Guantanamo Diary,” the appalling story of Mohamedou Ould Slahi, who has been unjustly imprisoned at the Guantanamo Bay Naval Base for 12 years.

      How was Slahi ever arrested in the first place? Likely because he was an early member of Al-Qaida during the days we conveniently forget, when the CIA channeled funds to the Afghan mujahideen to fight the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan. In other words, Mr. Slahi effectively fought as an ally of the U.S. in 1991-92, after which he left Afghanistan and broke off all relations with Al Qaida.

    • Justice Department: Appeals Court Wrong To Revive Lawsuit Brought By Immigrants Abused After 9/11

      The Justice Department has requested a federal appeals court revisit and reverse its decision to revive a lawsuit against former Justice Department officials, who allegedly violated the rights of Arab or Muslim immigrants when they were detained in the immediate months after the terrorist attacks.

      Attorneys for the Justice Department argue, regardless of whether immigrants had their rights violated, former Attorney General John Ashcroft, former FBI Director Robert Mueller, and former Commissioner of the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) James W. Ziglar adopted reasonable policies “in an effort to protect the nation during a turbulent time.” The former officials should not be liable for rights violations.

    • Jimmy Carter’s Legacy. Human Rights in the Abstract versus “Shameful and Indefensible Foreign Policy Positions”

      “Carter was the least violent of American presidents but he did things which I think would certainly fall under Nuremberg provisions,” said Noam Chomsky. Much like Nobel Peace-prize winner Barack Obama 30 years later, Carter was an advocate of human rights in the abstract, but of repression and imposition of power through violence in practice.

      Like the current occupant of the White House, Jimmy Carter entered office with a promise to respect human rights, but failed miserably when given the opportunity to do so.

    • DOJ Highlights Media Subpoenas From 2014

      …Department of Justice highlighted its attempts at forcing testimony from New York Times reporter James Risen.

    • Thumbs-down to another Bush in the White House

      Recently Jeb Bush said he had a solution to defeat ISIS. He blamed troubles in the Middle East on presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama.

      He didn’t say anything about his father or brother. These men were presidents and took us to war in the Middle East.

    • Letter to Jeb Bush: Torture is Never Justifiable

      Mr. Bush — or Jeb if you don’t mind — I was greatly disturbed to hear that if you became president you won’t rule out the resumption of the use of torture arguing that brutal questioning methods might be justifiable and necessary in some circumstances. Torture is never justifiable.

      President Obama banned CIA torture by executive order in January 2009. I urge you to reconsider your statement concerning torture and agree to leave President Obama’s executive order in place. I don’t want a president who would use tortur

    • Free Chelsea Manning!

      Army Pvt. Chelsea Manning, the heroic WikiLeaks whistleblower and transgender activist currently jailed in the U.S. Penitentiary at Leavenworth, is now being threatened with “indefinite solitary confinement.”

      While on active duty in Iraq as an intelligence analyst, Manning released 700,000 classified and sensitive military and diplomatic documents. They revealed details about modern imperialist wars never before made public. This included the infamous “Collateral Murder” tape of a U.S. “Apache” attack helicopter firing on civilians in Baghdad in 2007, killing 11 adults, including two Reuters journalists. Two children were seriously hurt. Manning also exposed previously hidden facts about the torture of U.S. detainees at the U.S. Guantánamo Bay Detention Camp.

      A U.S. military judge sentenced Manning to 35 years on charges of “aiding the enemy” — a treasonable offense under the 1917 U.S. Espionage Act. Awaiting trial, she suffered torturous conditions, first held in a cage inside a tent in the Kuwaiti desert, threatened by guards with being “disappeared” to Guantánamo. Then Manning was held in solitary confinement in the Marine Corps Brig at Quantico, Va., where she was under 24-hour guard and subjected to cruel and inhumane treatment.

    • John M. Crisp: The conversation of torture should be prominent in the 2016 campaign

      Two interesting stories appeared in the same edition of my local newspaper last week.

      The first involves an awkward problem that Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush faces: His brother, former president George W. Bush.

      Many Republicans have managed to hold their noses when they consider George W. Bush’s administration, especially his unprovoked and ill-advised invasion of Iraq. Jeb Bush has stumbled over this issue several times, looking for ways to put the best face on a huge foreign policy error.

      He has admitted that “mistakes were made” and relied on the dubious proposition that “taking out Saddam Hussein turned out to be a pretty good deal.” But this simplistic notion – Saddam Hussein is easy to demonize – depends on the electorate’s failure to notice the chaos that the Iraq War unleashed.

    • Clerics gather in Egypt to counter extremist fatwas

      Top Muslim clerics gathered in Egypt on Monday to address extremist religious edicts in the face of an unprecedented threat from Islamic State group jihadists who have declared a “caliphate”.

    • The Quiet Demise of the Army’s Plan to Understand Afghanistan and Iraq

      The Army created the Human Terrain System — at the height of the counterinsurgency craze that dominated American strategic thinking in Iraq and Afghanistan late in the last decade, with much fanfare — to solve this problem. Cultural training and deep, nuanced understanding of Afghan politics and history were in short supply in the Army; without them, good intelligence was hard to come by, and effective policy making was nearly impossible. Human Terrain Teams, as Human Terrain System units were known, were supposed to include people with social-science backgrounds, language skills and an understanding of Afghan or Iraqi culture, as well as veterans and reservists who would help bind the civilians to their assigned military units.

    • Ship Transfers Over 1,300 Migrants From Greek Island to Mainland City Port

      A ship with 1,308 refugees has left the Greek island of Kos bound for the port city of Thessaloniki, to process the asylum-seekers, the press office of the Greek Ministry of Shipping and the Aegean told Sputnik.

    • Drones, police violence protest comes through Baraboo

      A 90-mile walk to protest drones and racial profiling is scheduled to begin from the Dane County Jail on Tuesday and go through Baraboo on its way to Volk Field, organizers say.

      The “Let It Shine!” walk will take place over the course of a week, ending Aug. 25 in the village of Camp Douglas. Volk Field is home to a shadow drone training program and has been the site of numerous protests, including one in 2014 in which a Diocese of Madison priest was arrested for distributing fliers critical of the military’s use of drones.

    • Black Lives Matter videos, Clinton campaign reveal details of meeting

      Throughout the 15-minute conversation, Clinton disagreed with the three activists from Black Lives Matter who had planned to publicly press the 2016 candidate on issues on mass incarceration at an event earlier this month in Keene, New Hampshire.

More in Tux Machines

Why you should ditch OpenOffice and use the free LibreOffice suite

OpenOffice was the first big, mainstream free software competitor to Microsoft Office, and because of that, it still has mainstream name recognition—which is a problem. Developers have almost all moved to LibreOffice, the spiritual successor to OpenOffice. But OpenOffice continues to be operated as its own project, seeing little development and only drawing potential LibreOffice users to a defunct piece of software. Read more

Firefox Fading, Ditching OpenOffice, and Containers

Dissatisfaction with Mozilla's recent announcement to change its extension core code is being expressed across the Internet. Folks aren't happy. Elsewhere, Chris Hoffman explains why you should switch from OpenOffice to LibreOffice and the Canonical IP fight continues. In other news, several container headlines caught my eye recently. Read more

Today in Techrights

today's leftovers

  • GTX 760 Vs R7 370 4G In Company Of Heroes 2
    Liam has done his initial port reports and such so it's my turn to feed you some information. I'm once again putting my GTX 760 against the R7 370 to see what kind of performance we can expect from Company of Heroes 2.
  • KDE Plasma 5.4 Enhances Linux Desktop Experience
    The K Desktop Environment (KDE) is one of the earliest Linux desktop environments, dating all the way back to 1996, predating even the popular GNOME desktop environment, which was started in 1999. On Aug. 25, the core KDE desktop, Plasma, got an incremental update to version 5.4 that builds on the innovations that the first Plasma 5 release introduced in July. Among the many changes that users will notice with Plasma 5.4 are more than 1,400 new icons for all KDE applications, providing a more streamlined, modern look and feel to the desktop. Also new to Plasma 5.4 is an optional Application Dashboard that provides a different way to open up applications. Finding an application, or anything else on the KDE desktop, is also improved by way of enhanced search history in the integrated KRunner search tool that is part of the desktop. Plus, the 5.4 update now provides initial support for the Wayland display server that is intended to be a replacement for the decade-old X-Window server. KDE as a desktop environment is available on multiple Linux distributions, including Ubuntu, Fedora and openSUSE. In this slide show, eWEEK examines some of the key features of the KDE Plasma 5.4 desktop.
  • KDE Sprints - who wins?
    To start with, KDE sprints are intensive sessions centered around coding. They take place in person over several days, during which time skillful developers eat, drink and sleep code. There are breaks to refresh and gain perspective, but mostly sprints involve hard, focused work. All of this developer time and effort is unpaid. However travel expenses for some developers are covered by KDE. KDE is a frugal organization with comparatively low administrative costs, and only one paid person who works part time. So the money donated for sprints goes to cover actual expenses. Who gets the money? Almost all of it goes to transportation companies.
  • GNOME Developers Discuss Codenames, GNOME 3.18 Might be Dubbed "Gothenburg"
    Allan Day, a GNOME UX designer working for Red Hat and renowned GNOME developer/contributor, opened an interesting discussion on the official GNOME mailing list, about possible codenames for upcoming releases of the acclaimed desktop environment for GNU/Linux operating systems.
  • ReadySpace Joins Red Hat Certified Cloud and Service Provider Program
    Hong-Kong based cloud service provider ReadySpace announced Thursday that it has joined the Red Hat Certified Cloud and Service Provider program. The new Red Hat partner program, launched in July, allows ReadySpace to deliver solutions based on Red Hat’s open source technologies. ReadySpace CEO David Loke said customers building on open source software and Linux servers had been asking for Red Hat solutions by name to run critical workloads in private and hybrid environments. The company will now offer private cloud build-outs, Linux infrastructure and PaaS solutions based on Red Hat.
  • Ubuntu, Canonical, and IP
    Recently there has been a flurry of concerns relating to the IP policy at Canonical. I have not wanted to throw my hat into the ring, but I figured I would share a few simple thoughts.
  • Canonical urges customers to ditch Windows 10 for Ubuntu
    In a recent posting, Canonical has tried new methods to appeal to Chief Technology Officers (CTOs) and cost conscious home users that they should switch to Ubuntu in lieu of Windows 10.