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Free Software Sentry – watching and reporting maneuvers of those threatened by software freedom
Updated: 1 hour 21 min ago

Good Job, David Kappos, Says the ‘Boss’ (IBM)

5 hours 24 min ago

How shallow, spotted just hours after publication by Kappos


Manny Schecter works for IBM, the former employer of Kappos

Summary: Responses to the latest call against Alice (eliminator of many software patents), courtesy of the man from IBM (still paid by IBM) who was responsible for the policy that blindly approved a lot of software patents in the US

Our latest article about David Kappos (who has in essence been helping Microsoft's extortion of Linux using low-quality patents in large numbers) was well received by quite a few people. They know a lot better now what Kappos stands for and who pays him. Our many articles on the subject contributed to that. Interest groups and lobbyists are among the things we have been exposing for nearly a decade. Once exposed, they are a lot less capable of operating. Sometimes they need to rename.

As Henrion put it/told Manny Schecter (IBM), “he [Kappos] is a Microsoft/Apple spokesman.” He is also a former IBM employee who is now being paid by IBM for his lobbying.

This article from Kappos led to an article by Mike Masnick (via Professor James Bessen) shortly after we had mentioned it. Masnick said that “of course, if you’re former US Patent and Trademark Office boss David Kappos — who presided over a massive increase in patenting, which the Government Accountability Office recently noted was mainly due to basically no quality standards being used — this is a bad thing. Perhaps he takes it personally that the current patent situation really puts an exclamation point on the fact that he helped usher in hundreds of thousands of anti-innovation weapons that could be used to shake down actual innovators.”

Like the Battistelli-led EPO right now? AntiSoftwarePat highlights the part of the above article which says Kappos “presided over a massive increase in patenting… mainly due to basically no quality standards being used” (i.e. rubberstamping, with approval rates soaring).

Being for Patent Quality or Against Patenting Excess Does Not Make You Anti-Patents

5 hours 50 min ago

Black or white: either you’re a patent maximalist or you are “anti-patents” (or “anti-patent” as Watchtroll puts it, see below)

Summary: Like IAM, which tries to portray sceptics and critics of software patents as “anti-patents”, IP Watchdog (or Watchtroll as we call it) is ‘trolling’ the Electronic Frontier Foundation, simply because it expressed an opinion that patent maximalists cannot tolerate

Watchtroll’s site, being the usual loud-mouthed proponent of software patents (sometimes even very rude), responded to a topic on which we commented this morning. Daniel Nazer (EFF) noticed that this “New IP Watchdog post [is] slamming “DC Based Electronic Frontier Foundation, a leftist anti-patent activist coalition”” (it’s not anti-patent, it is pro-patent quality, as are we).

Here is the relevant passage from the post: “Another incursion into research university governance and operations is now underway. And this time all research universities are affected. Led by the DC Based Electronic Frontier Foundation, a leftist anti-patent activist coalition that has initiated a 50-state legislative campaign to shrink research university patent licensing rights at the state level. (See) The measure’s purported objective is to prevent publicly funded university research patents from being licensed to so-called “Patent Assertion Entities” (PAEs, also known by the pejorative term “patent trolls”).”

Like IAM's editor in chief, they are also in denial about the trolls problem, just like people who are in denial about climate change (because this reality, once realised by the public, is a threat to one’s business).

The OSI took note and wrote about my article via Former OSI Dir. Jim Jagielski who wrote: “Shows the danger of s/w patents… is it time to finally squash them once and for all?”

Carlo Piana, a famous lawyer for Samba and generally a very nice intellectual (against software patents) wrote on Friday: Has anybody, ever, read a #patent on software without thinking “WTF”? Honestly. And now I have read like 100 of them. And I’m no developer.”

Benjamin Henrion (FFII) responded: “the state urgently needs to intervene between me and my keyboard to save innovation!”

The matter of fact here is clear; anyone with a keyboard and some rudimentary coding skills is affected by software patents and the population in general suffers from slowed innovation and artificially increased prices (often due to lawyers’ fees and patent trolls if not billionaire patent bullies such as Microsoft and Apple). We wrote about it this morning.

Erosion of Patent Quality Enables Patent Extortion With Large Portfolios of Low Validity Rate

12 hours 23 min ago

Quality of patents causes markets to prosper or contrariwise perish


Giving aggressors like Microsoft sacks of patents to breed Mafia-like behaviour, not healthy competition

Summary: Revisiting the EPO’s vision of poor patent examination and the effect of discriminatory granting practices, favouring patent bullies such as Microsoft (which actively attacks Linux using low-quality and usually pure software patents)

“A skilled patent attorney working with a qualified searcher could cobble together a colorable obviousness argument against the vast majority of issued patent claims,” says a new article from Patently-O. Not to mention “abstract” criteria, prior art and so on. “Part of the difficulty for patentees,” continues the article, “stem from the the billions of prior art references available via increasingly effective search tools. Even when an invention results from a ‘flash of genius,’ patent law typically back-fills extensive knowledge for the obviousness analysis – even when that knowledge was not actually available at the time of the invention. The larger difficulty though is likely the large number of hard-to-pin-down facts such as the motivations, common sense, and level of creativity of a person having ordinary skill in the art.”

“In the case of large companies like Microsoft, mountains of patents (granted in bulk by the EPO]) can be used to compel companies to pay up without even a trial.”If the EPO replaces examiners with algorithms, things will exacerbate further and patents get granted incorrectly, leading to an ocean of frivolous lawsuits. In the case of large companies like Microsoft, mountains of patents (granted in bulk by the EPO) can be used to compel companies to pay up without even a trial. Recall the Microsoft v TomTom case. Picking on small companies is Microsoft’s thing; it doesn’t sue Google.

The above reminds us of the danger of poor patent quality as well as streamlining grants, which is what Battistelli’s EPO has in effect done for Microsoft (and evidence we showed for that led to legal threats from the EPO). They — like the USPTO — in effect facilitate patent racketeering by Microsoft.

“They — like the USPTO — in effect facilitate patent racketeering by Microsoft.”Watch this new article titled “Primetime: Microsoft’s Android Cross Patent Dealings”. That’s misleading because it's not cross-licensing, it's a patent settlement (in bundling form) and it’s essentially a patent shakedown without even a trial and without an opportunity to properly assess the quality (and thus in/validity) of patents. The article says that “to press on this advantage, Microsoft does need to sign into more cross licensing or similar patent deals with manufacturers. Given Microsoft’s patent portfolio and how useful this will be to those manufacturers wishing to break into the North American market, such as Xiaomi, we may be seeing more of these arrangements in the coming months. The alternative might be Microsoft suing any manufacturer that tries to sell devices into a patent-friendly market.”

But again, these are not cross-licensing deals, these are patent shakedowns. One might even call this extortion or racketeering, even though Microsoft is too well-connected to face court charges brought forth by the government.

It is worth noting that many of Microsoft’s patents — those which it uses to shake down Android players (OEMs) — are not even valid anymore (if properly scrutinised), but there are so many of them that it would cost a fortune to demonstrate it to the court. It’s a numbers game, quantity rather than quality. It’s cheaper to just settle and let Microsoft continue to wield software patents like a weapon, even post-Alice. PTAB cannot take a request to review hundreds of patents from just one single company because it’s already overburdened by a growing number of reviews (IPRs).

Speaking of patent aggressors, there is this new software patent from Facebook (the usual, see our Facebook wiki page). These are oftentimes surveillance patents, but this time is’s about languages, at a time of increased competition with Google. Facebook's growing stockpile of patents is a real problem (Facebook has a history of going aggressive with them) and The Next Web says that “the US patent office issued 6,789 patents. Each patent adds a little something new to the human knowledge base. As we cannot list all six thousand, the PatentYogi team has selected the five most interesting patents.” How many of these are software patents that oughtn’t have been granted? How many of these will be toothless some time in the near future?

Patently-O says “The number of pending Ex Parte appeals continue to drop. Great work PTO.” There are other statistics of interest, based on PDFs from the USPTO (like this one). Patently-O claims they suggest that: “Design patent applications expected to reach 40,000 for FY2016 – up from under 30,000 in FY2010. The PTO is working to improve design patent prosecution speed – current wait of more than a year for a first office action.”

Well, the Office may have granted 40,000 patents on designs, but once reassessed the Office may need to throw them all away, on a per-request basis (post-Apple v Samsung at SCOTUS). Granting again for the sake of granting? Until the next Alice happens?

Patent quality control is the principal pillar of true and potent patent offices, otherwise they would be just archives of untested claims (a registration/filing system).

The EPO’s Francesco Zaccà Presenting in Turin Alongside Patent Trolls (Like the Patent Mafia Sisvel) and Lobbyists/Front Groups for Software Patents, UPC

13 hours 20 min ago

In the pockets of the patent microcosm

Summary: Benjamin Henrion (FFII) on seeing the EPO alongside patent trolls and other nefarious actors, doing what they do best, which is undermining public interests and harming patent quality

“PUBLIC SERVANTS” has become misnomer for EPO officials. Consider the EPO‘s Francesco Zaccà, whom we first mentioned in this leak about "Closer Contact with Major Applicants" (with special ties to Qualcomm and Ericsson in his case). Benjamin Henrion drew attention to this recent talk, showing even the patent troll Sisvel at this recent event, which included Zaccà.

From the page in question: “The panel chaired by Francisco Mingorance, IP Europe, stressed the importance of innovation protection as a growth factor. Pasquale Marasco, head of ICT Innovation Pole at Torino Wireless Foundation, highlighted the SME’s stakes and concerns, as Matteo Sabattini, Sisvel CTO, reinforced the message detailing Sisvel’s example. Francesco Zaccà, Director in ICT of EPO, echoed the keynote address and said that «the main goal of the patent system is to protect innovation, to enable the innovation circle from protecting the invention, securing remuneration and re-investing in research. Yet, every challenge is a new opportunity for combining standards with open sources, and patents with protection». His opening statement «we are here to support innovation» fired up the crowd.”

“Francesco Zaccà, speaking for the EPO, is quoted or paraphrased as saying that every challenge is a new opportunity for combining standards with open sources, and patents with protection.”Francesco Zaccà, speaking for the EPO, is quoted or paraphrased as saying that every challenge is a new opportunity for combining standards with open sources, and patents with protection. What an odd thing to say. This sure sounds like the FRAND loophole for software patents in Europe. Not good…

Francisco Mingorance, now in IP Europe, is a former software patents lobbyist from the Business Software Alliance (BSA), a Microsoft front group which spent years lobbying for software patents in Europe (FRAND was one loophole they attempted to interject). Mingorance now chairs a panel with Zaccà in it. His employer, IP Europe, is a front for the patent microcosm and Henrion describes them, based on their words, as “Accelerating the entry into force of the Unified Patent Court (UPC Agreement): more trolling powers http://www.iptalks.eu/”

“They’re supposed to be focused on patent examination, not lobbying and lawmaking.”Some people still act as though the UPC will become a reality. It probably never will. It’s zombie legislation like ACTA, but the patent microcosm still wants us to believe there will be UPC after Brexit. It’s that old self-fulfilling prophecy method and they really ought to just give it all up. Found via this tweet was a Team UPC blog post the UPC “post-Brexit” (it would probably have to be rewritten and renamed to have any chance at all).

Thomas F. Cotter, a law professor from the US, more recently referred to a “paper in the June 2016 issue of GRUR Int (pp. 513-30) titled Schadensersatz und Einheitspatentsystem: Rechtliche Grundlagen und Systematik des Schadensersatzanspruchs im künftigen Einheitspatentsystem (“Damages and Unitary Patent System: Legal Principles and Schematic of Damages Claims in the Future Unitary Patent System”).”

According to him, this “article notes, among other things, that article 68(4) of the Agreement on a Unified Patent Court appears to permit a court to award the infringer’s profits without evidence that the infringer knew or should have known of the patent (in contrast to German law). Towards the end of the article, the author also questions whether the Agreement contemplates anything comparable to the German practice of permitting a court to award damages in its free discretion (nach freier Überzeugung) under article 287 of the German Civil Procedure Code (see my recent article on Patent Damages Heuristics at p.20 & n.76 for brief discussion). My one critique of the article is that it doesn’t take account of the change made in the 17th and 18th drafts of the UPC Rules of Procedure, which in a departure from the 16th draft have eliminated the provision (article 118(2)) that would have allowed the court to award damages in lieu of injunctive relief (see discussion on this blog here). Overall, though, a good read.”

“People who believe that the UPC will become a reality some very time soon are truly out of touch, much like Battistelli and his circle of ‘loyals’.”The patent microcosm (which dominates Team UPC) wants the UPC for more lawsuits, more/higher damages, and a generally litigious atmosphere that brings them more business. It’s truly a shame that EPO staff, including Zaccà’s colleagues, are openly promoting it at events (as Philpott did last year). What credibility will they have left? They’re supposed to be focused on patent examination, not lobbying and lawmaking.

Found via this tweet was yet more promotion of the UPC, courtesy of Team UPC again. “Unitary Patent reforms are welcome, even though patent litigation in Europe has worked quite well” says the headline and Francisco Moreno, a critic of the UPC, uses the hashtags #UPCbelievers and #PrayForTheUPC (sarcasm) in relation to what Tufty Sylvestris wrote about the above: “Another Remainer disappointed about the effect of #Brexit on the UPC, but still hopeful (or in denial).”

People who believe that the UPC will become a reality some very time soon are truly out of touch, much like Battistelli and his circle of ‘loyals’. Maybe they too should quit embarrassing themselves and work on fixing the EPO. Pushing towards software patents in Europe (directly or indirectly) is just about the dumbest thing they can do.

The EPO, USPTO, and Patent Microcosm Peddle Myths About Patents in Public Universities and Research

13 hours 51 min ago

Summary: Tackling some of the commonly-spread myths about patents as “saving lives” and “promoting research” (in practice leading to the death of poor people and promoting trolls)

THE patent system exists for a reason, but nowadays that reason is no longer the original reason. “Page not found” says this link EPO‘s account regarding oppositions to particular patents, which is kind of poetic when one thinks about it. Battistelli’s EPO doesn’t want oppositions. Rubber-stamping is better for so-called ‘production’. That’s not what the patent system exists for.

Following its pattern of 'spamming' (not broadcasting to everyone on a per-subscription basis as in this new example), the EPO is pinging the University of Bonn with some template message like “Got any proposals for our Inventor Award 2017? Submit them here” (Battistelli’s lobbying event).

Why is the EPO bothering universities now? It has already sent dozens of such ‘spammy’ messages, but now it’s doing after universities.

“That’s not what the patent system exists for.”Mr. Nazer, writing about universities that pursue patents, correctly notes that many of these patents end up in the hands of patent trolls. Here is a portion of what he wrote for the EFF the other day:

EFF recently launched Reclaim Invention, a project to encourage universities to manage their patent portfolios in a way that maximizes the public benefit. Specifically, we’ve urged universities to sign a Public Interest Patent Pledge not to sell or exclusively license patents to patent assertion entities, also known as patent trolls. EFF is proud to partner with Creative Commons, Engine, Fight for the Future, Knowledge Ecology International, and Public Knowledge on this initiative.

As part of our project, we’ve also released draft state legislation that we hope state legislators can adapt to promote pro-innovation technology transfer at state universities. Our legislative language has two components. First, it requires university technology transfer offices to adopt a policy committing them to manage patent assets in the public interest.

If the public cares about innovation and good use of public money, then the public should prevent universities from filing for patents. Universities don’t need these, but friends of mine who work at the universities say that they are being pressured by administration staff to just amass patents, not just published academic papers. It’s not often that universities sue using patents because usually they do so indirectly or offload their patents to trolls.

“Patent lawyers want us to believe that effective and affordable medicine exists because of patents, but in reality it exists in spite of patents.”“75% of the 20 patent lawsuits filed yesterday were filed by patent trolls,” United for Patent Reform wrote the other day. “It’s time for Congress to take action to #fixpatents!”

The above seems to be a lot lower than the average. For technology patent lawsuits, it’s now estimated (based on a complete/exhaustive list) that just under 90% of the time these are filed by trolls. They dominate the system.

Research and development in the public sector need not rely on patents, no matter what nonsense the EPO spreads with stock photography and prose. Patent lawyers want us to believe that effective and affordable medicine exists because of patents, but in reality it exists in spite of patents. Cancer patients, as explained to the EPO, actually suffer from patents, but patent boosters are busy framing the USPTO as a friend of cancer research. To quote this new example from Professor Crouch: “The USPTO is playing an important role in the National Cancer Moonshot, a Presidential initiative we blogged about earlier this summer, to speed up cancer advances, make more therapies available to more patients, and improve the ability to prevent cancer and detect it at an early stage. Today, we are launching the USPTO Cancer Moonshot Challenge to enlist the public’s help to leverage our intellectual property data, often an early indicator of meaningful research and development (R&D), and combine it with other economic and funding data (ie. U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission filings, Food and Drug Administration reporting, National Science Foundation grants vs. philanthropic investments, venture capital funding, etc.). This comes on the heels of our Patents 4 Patients program, which was launched in July and aims to cut in half the time it takes to review patent applications in cancer therapy.”

Actually, a lot of cancer research money comes from the public (government grants, not just donations); afterwards there’s privateering with patents (monopoly on treatments and thus overpricing), so who gains and who dies?

EpiPen is under heavy fire this week for price hikes owing to Congressional nepotism, but Professor Crouch links to this horrible new article which glamourises patents (even those that kill poor people) as well as a famous patent troll. It’s sad to see that patent myths continue to thrive not just because of the patent industry but also the EPO and USPTO. They want us to believe that the more patents we have, the better. It’s usually better for patent offices, trolls, and few opportunists with crooked nepotism (see EpiPen’s example).

Large Corporations’ Lobbyist David Kappos Disgraces Former Employer USPTO by Meddling in Their Affairs on Software Patents, Downplaying the Supreme Court

14 hours 22 min ago

Microsoft, IBM and few other large companies pay former USPTO officials to promote software patents

Summary: The latest lobbying from David Kappos, who blatantly exploits his connections in patent circles to promote software patents and work towards their resurgence after Alice v CLS Bank

LAST NIGHT we wrote about the demise of software patents in the US. The USPTO, which David Kappos had turned into more of a rubber-stamping operation (because of the growing backlog), finally had to accept that many patents were erroneously granted (if not fraudulently granted to increase measurable figures).

“The FTC PAE report should be the final nail in the coffin for Software Patents,” AntiSoftwarePat wrote last night in response to my article. He or she has been saying this for quite a while. PAE is a type of patent troll, for those who don’t know.

“He doesn’t want people to know what he does for a living in his capacity as a de facto lobbyist.”Kappos deserves at least some of the blame for the terrible status quo. So many patents at the USPTO are junk and patent trolls needn’t even go to court and face the burden of proof; they just target small businesses in secret (divide and rule) to shake these down using bogus patents. Kappos is absolutely fine with that and we wrote a lot about this nefarious activity of his quite a lot this year. He doesn’t want people to know what he does for a living in his capacity as a de facto lobbyist. Instead, says his own description of himself: “Dave Kappos is a partner at Cravath, Swaine and Moore LLP and previously served as under secretary of commerce and director of the United States Patent and Trade Office.”

He does not disclose he works for a front group funded by monopolists which support software patents. Yesterday, published in the Morning Consult Web site was this Kappos piece protesting Alice v CLS Bank. He took wonderful news, namely the gradual end of software patents in the US, and called it “the terrible” (not for software developers but for parasites like him and his ilk).

Once again he pretends it’s a loss to software innovation and other such malarkey. He does not disclose who pays him to utter this nonsense. Here is the ending paragraph:

Rather than celebrate or mourn the anniversary of Alice, we should recognize that its overly broad application stifles software innovation in fields that require major, sustained investments to address humanity’s truly daunting challenges—across industries from life sciences to information technology to transportation and beyond. There is some room for cautious optimism—recent decisions from the federal circuit in Enfish, Bascom and Rapid Litigation Management have upheld quality patents challenged on eligibility grounds—but unless the courts continue to provide clearer guidance, a long heritage of American innovation leadership will be at risk. We should seek balance by applying Alice narrowly, “lest [Section 101′s exclusionary principle] swallow all of patent law”— and let the other parts of the law do their work.

“When legislation and/or caselaw is up for sale we all lose.”It’s clear that he is asking for loopholes so that software patents can still be granted and asserted (successfully) in courts. It’s not about “clarity” (we explained this spin of his before and also showed the so-called whitepaper he published last year to reveal his bias on this topic). Quick to promote this article was IBM’s Manny Schecter, who is funding him through IBM (Kappos used to work at IBM, which now just pays him through a front group). Congratulating one’s own lobbyist again? Does he not see ethical breach amid all that patent aggression by IBM? Microsoft is paying Kappos as well and it too is attacking even Android/Linux using patents, as recently as a few days ago.

What will it take for these companies to stop bribing former officials and hide behind them while they lobby for the resurrection of software patents? Who are those people kidding? Can one file a formal complaint for “revolving doors” kind of abuse here? We might try soon, perhaps once we identify the best authority/institution to address regarding the unprofessional (and likely unethical if not in breach of contract) practice. When legislation and/or caselaw is up for sale we all lose.

Journal of Intellectual Property Law and Practice Calls the European Patent Office “Rotten”, Other Sources Scrutinise Recent Moves

Thursday 25th of August 2016 07:49:15 PM

It’s like another FIFA but in slow(er) motion

Summary: The patent office which was once known for being the best bar none is rotting under the Frenchman Benoît Battistelli, who made himself and his friends the main clients of the Office

THE European Patent Office (EPO) is trying to distract us all (staff and media) with the Italian earthquake (warning: epo.org links can be tracked by the EPO), but otherwise it has been largely silent for weeks. It just selfishly tries to maintain that sense of fear and emergency, especially when there are mass shootings (not just in Europe).

Recently, the local media (Süddeutsche Zeitung) published “Paris, London, Haar” which is an article about the EPO for which we need translation/s. Techrights is mentioned in this paragraph which says: “Innerhalb der Behörde wird jedenfalls schon heiß diskutiert, was solch ein Umzug an den Stadtrand mit sich bringen würde. In dem Internet-Blog Techrights lassen sich Mitarbeiter darüber aus, ob in Haar überhaupt die Hotels vorhanden sein würden, um die ausländischen Gäste passend unterzubringen. Über Sicherheitsfragen wird geredet und nicht zuletzt darüber, wie man ins Büro im Münchner Osten kommen kann, das mancher aus Versehen in der Gemeinde Vaterstetten ansiedelt. Mancher aus der betroffenen Abteilung sieht sich gar ins “Exil” nach Haar abgeschoben. Hintergrund ist ein seit Längerem schwelender Machtkampf mit dem Präsidenten des Patentamts, Benoît Battistelli.”

“The EPO’s reputation is so damaged right now (squarely the fault of Team Battistelli) that not much more damage can be done.”It has been said for quite some time that Benoît Battistelli might try to ‘gift’ Paris with some UPC court/s (or Administration). If true, it wouldn’t be the first time he did something nefarious like that. The EPO’s reputation is so damaged right now (squarely the fault of Team Battistelli) that not much more damage can be done. There’s already a crisis and talented people are leaving.

SUEPO mentioned the above in its public pages and so did a comment in IP Kat, which took note of another article shared by SUEPO. Coming from the Journal of Intellectual Property Law and Practice (and composed by Darren Smyth from IP Kat), the article says this:

Recently, the EPO has been beset by problems. A programme of reform has been pushed through which has led to widespread industrial unrest amongst the workforce, and distrust between the examiners and senior management. The problems have been exacerbated by the fact that the only legal recourse for aggrieved EPO employees is the International Labour Organisation, which has an immense backlog (partly caused by the number of EPO grievances) leading to a delay of many years before cases are decided. While there was little dispute that some reform was needed, the pace and character of the reforms, as well as their style of introduction, created a toxic atmosphere, the scale and causes of which were denied by the management, and relatively unrecognized outside of the EPO itself. The relatively generous salaries of EPO examiners led to a lack of sympathy in some quarters. The wider world only noticed the increasingly troubled situation at the EPO when a member of the Boards of Appeal of the EPO was suspended by the President without the prior sanction of the AC, an action that appeared to compromise the judicial independence of the Boards of Appeal. This occurred shortly after a seminal decision of the Enlarged Board of Appeal (EBA), which upheld an objection of suspicion of partiality against its Chairman, on the sole basis of his dual administrative role within the management of the Office. The response of the President, transferring some administrative powers from the EBA Chairman to himself, seemed to make the problem worse rather than better.

The judicial independence of the Boards of Appeal is crucial to the finality of their decisions. If the Boards are not accepted as a judicial instance, a national court could decline to give effect to their judgments on the basis of lack of compliance with European legal norms such as those embodied in Article 6 ECHR (right to fair trial). Before recent events, although national courts had always accepted the judicial character of the Boards, Board members took the view, supported by some commentators, that more autonomy was desirable. However, a proposal to increase the autonomy of the Boards had been shelved by the current administration.

It was clear that action needed to be taken, but new proposals from the President to modify the administrative structure of the Boards seemed to conflate independence with efficiency, and also addressed other matters, such as the management of possible conflicts of interest of Board members, which had never in reality seemed to be a problem. There was more concern with the appearance of independence, such as the physical location of the Boards, than independence itself.

“In the last issue of the Journal of Intellectual Property Law and Practice an editorial has been published under the title Something is rotten in the state of the EPO,” one comment noted. “Eerie, this silence,” one person wrote, “probably there is a lot going on behind the screen?”

One person responded with: “Or the French are on holiday?”

Well, we have a lot of material we intend to publish this autumn. In the mean time, if someone can produce a translation of the Süddeutsche Zeitung article for us, this would be greatly appreciated (and of course published for the record).

PTAB Emerges as Hero of USPTO Because Quality of Patents Improves, Software Patents Are Effectively Dead (or Dying Once Reassessed)

Thursday 25th of August 2016 07:20:24 PM

A reminder of why the EPO‘s boards of appeal should be broadened, not squashed/scuttled/exiled

Summary: With help from the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) — not just patent courts — software patents drop like flies by the thousands

TECHRIGHTS is gratified to see a decade of activism and long-sought reforms coming to fruition. A decade ago we could probably be called “crazy” for suggesting that software patents would one day be kaput even at the USPTO. But it’s actually happening and proponents of software patents are panicking (even writing “ALICE” in all CAPS or resorting to very old articles that are somehow supportive of their argument). No longer can they make a living by taxing software developers like yours truly and millions of people all around the world. Whatever one’s opinion might be on software patents, statistics show very clearly that the overwhelming majority of software developers reject them outright.

“Whatever one’s opinion might be on software patents, statistics show very clearly that the overwhelming majority of software developers reject them outright.”“Reading the Federal Circuit’s tea leaves on software patentability” is a new article whose summary introduces Alice: “In June 2014, the U.S. Supreme Court issued its Alice Corp. v. CLS Bank decision, finding that a computer-implemented, electronic escrow service was a non-patentable abstract idea.”

From the body of the article: “Until two years ago, software was generally patentable in the United States. Section 101 of the Patent Act governs what subject matter is patent eligible, excluding among other things abstract ideas from being patented.

“But in June 2014, the U.S. Supreme Court issued its Alice Corp. v. CLS Bank decision, finding that a computer-implemented, electronic escrow service was a non-patentable abstract idea. The Court held that that merely requiring “generic computer implementation” failed to transform an otherwise abstract idea into a patent-eligible invention.”

“We previously wrote about several Android applications that got axed (wiped off the face of the Earth) because of software patents.”Well, the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) has had to obey what the highest possible court said, even begrudgingly. That’s good for software developers, not necessarily FOSS developers but all developers in every country. “If you’re curious,” wrote a person on this new article about FOSS in Android, for lack of features “the reason is software patents.”

We previously wrote about several Android applications that got axed (wiped off the face of the Earth) because of software patents. Once they received a lawsuit threat, developers chose an immediate retreat. How does that promote/advance science and technology? It actually accomplishes the very opposite.

Deciding on matters like software patentability without even knowing how programming works and how computers work is outrageous, but it happens all the time. It has in fact become the norm. The following new article, which is behind a paywall, is titled “Patent Judges Should Be Scientists, Too” (Wall Street Journal). It says: “Patents are the lifeblood of biotechnology, the force that motivates companies to develop innovative medical treatments and bring them to market. The trouble is that these patents must be enforced in a court system that isn’t set up to adjudicate highly technical matters—resulting in rulings that seem arbitrary or even scientifically suspect.”

“They can discern or tell apart innovation from junk.”That is often true and applicable when it comes to copyrights in relation to code (see for example Oracle’s case against Google). At PTAB, by contrast, the chiefs are scientists, so no wonder they toss patents in the trash all the time. They can discern or tell apart innovation from junk.

MIP has a new article about PTAB’s chief judge Ruschke. Here is the part which is not behind a paywall:

In a call with reporters, the Patent Trial and Appeal Board chief judge said the number of judges now is enough, praised the impact of submitting expert declarations with preliminary responses, and said the Board was open to going beyond the 12-month statutory deadline for issuing final written decisions

David Ruschke, who took over as chief judge of the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) in May, is satisfied with both the number of quality of judges he has at the Board. Ruschke previously managed the intellectual property portfolio of Medtronic’s CSH unit.

“The number of our judges that we have now at 270 is essentially where we are going to be at going forward,” he told reporters on a conference call. “That groups of judges is going to be providing I think a wonderful basis for the PTAB going forward.”

PTAB has been a leading enforcer of Alice (it’s a lot quicker than clueless, technology-illiterate courts) and patent lawyers hate it. They call it a “death squad”. Here is a patent lawyers’ advocacy site, IAM, saying what most recently happened at PTAB: “For the third time in as many post-grant reviews decided by the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB), the PTAB has declared a patent to be invalid based on the legal framework established in the 2014 Supreme Court decision in Alice Corporation Pty Ltd v CLS Bank International.”

Looking at another patent lawyers’ site, people are visibly upset at Alice. One of them wrote:

You must live in a different universe. The Supreme Court has been down right hostile to the CAFC.

One only has to read the fractured In re Alice decision (prior to the Supreme Court rewriting of law), to see what a mess the Supreme Court has made in its pursuit of power.

These are “captive patent courts,” Benjamin Henrion responded. Here is another comment:

The following link also supports the idea of tensions between the Supreme Court and Federal Circuit: http://www.abajournal.com/magazine/article/tug_of_war_over_interpretations_of_patent_law_continues_between_federal

They seem to be begging for some scandal that can somehow bring software patents back to life. Here is what Patently-O wrote about CAFC a few days ago: “Earlier this year, the Federal Circuit in a 2-1 panel decision in In re Queen’s University held there was a privilege over communications between a patent agent and client with respect to patent prosecution. That decision is here. I gave a talk earlier this year about how I think this case creates some risks even if it is followed, and the powerpoint for that talk is here.”

“In the above cases, the Federal Circuit does not deal with software patents, but when/if it does, then over 90% of the time it will throw them away.”PowerPoint is Microsoft lock-in, but in another new Patently-O post CAFC got mentioned in relation to OtterBox. To quote: “A substantial portion of the Federal Circuit’s appellate involve customs disputes stemming from the Court of International Trade (CIT). [...] In interpreting the statute, the Federal Circuit has taken the approach of construing HTSUS terms according to “common and commercial meanings, which we presume are the same.” Although not required by the statute, the court has also taken to relying upon the explanatory notes in the World Customs Organization tariff schedule to aid its interpretation. [...] In siding with OtterBox, the federal circuit stepped through Heading 4202 and found, inter alia, that the OtterBox cases would only fit as “similar containers,” but that they were not really similar. The important distinction is that OtterBox cases are designed so that the device is fully functional while in the case – that is not true for any of the cases listed in the heading.”

In the above cases, the Federal Circuit does not deal with software patents, but when/if it does, then over 90% of the time it will throw them away. This clearly bothers the software patents proponents, who as usual resort to BASCOM and Enfish (the few and rare exceptions]. Alluding to BASCOM and Section 101, Watchtroll writes somewhat of a rant. It starts innocently enough. “Last week the Patent Public Advisory Committee (PPAC) held its quarterly meeting at the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). These quarterly meetings give those on PPAC an opportunity to be brought up to speed about what is going on inside the USPTO, and to ask questions of various senior officials,” Watchtroll writes. But then, this Watchtroll who stoops very low in his attacks on PTAB ended up concluding with: “Could the Patent Office address this differently? Yes. Is the way Patent Office senior officials are addressing 101 in the guidance incorrect or outside of the envelope of reasonableness? No. Is the way examiners are applying 101 in keeping with the guidance? Absolutely not. Is this one big mess? You bet!”

“Software patents are a dying breed of patents.”So, doing the right thing is “one big mess”. Right…

The patent microcosm (mostly lawyers) just keeps lobbying the USPTO in order to make it their eternal vassal on matters such as patent scope. They just try to undermine Alice rather than accept the decision and move on. They even got Kappos in lobbying mode, utilising his connections (he is the former Director of the USPTO) to throw away Alice and attempt to restore software patenting. Another new example of this reluctance to accept the new formality can be seen in this tweet that says “Drafting claims: preambles? Dangerous. Just analyzed BASCOM: preamble may establish what a claim is “directed to” (abstract idea) for Alice.”

No matter how artful they try to be in interpreting Alice, the statistics speak for themselves, both at PTAB and at CAFC. Software patents are a dying breed of patents. Sooner or later, once challenged sufficiently, all ‘pure’ software patents turn out to be abstract.

Creative Technology, Now Operating in ‘Patent Troll’ Mode, Shot Down by the ITC; Jawbone Too Shot Down

Thursday 25th of August 2016 05:42:02 PM

Has the U.S. International Trade Commission finally become less trigged-happy when it comes to embargoes?


By Source (WP:NFCC#4), Fair use of copyrighted material in the context of Sound Blaster

Summary: Some good news from the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC), which may have put an end to Creative’s new war on Android (using old patents)

OVER THE years we have not had much (or anything) good to say about the ITC. It seemed nationalistic and unreasonable. Based on allegation or suspicion alone it could suspend operations or businesses in the United States, especially when these were foreign (non-US).

Earlier this summer we wrote about Creative Technology, based in Singapore, going after Android OEMs with massive patent demands, having been ‘endorsed’ by Apple payments. Well, it turns out Apple should never have paid them in the first place. Their patents are junk.

“When once-famous brands like Creative and BlackBerry become nothing but a pile of patents there’s a lot of trouble for FOSS such as Android, which is built on top of Linux. ““First spotted by Law360,” an Apple advocacy site wrote, “Administrative Law Judge David Shaw of the U.S. Patent and Trade Office (USPTO) has ruled that Creative Technology’s patent that addresses music library navigation and sorting in the iPod, and now iOS overall, was too abstract to be eligible for a patent.”

It also said: “A patent that Creative Technologies used in the beginning of the century against the iPod forcing a $100 million payout by Apple has been invalidated, saving the rest of the smartphone industry from costly settlements and protracted legal battles.”

According to this, “Apple paid Creative a single license fee of $100 million to use Creative’s software interface patent,” which is certainly a lot of money, probably enough to convince Creative to prey on Android OEMs that can barely afford it (and might prefer to settle out of court). The original report said “U.S. International Trade Commission judge handed smartphone makers a win Friday, ruling that a media player patent that netted a Singapore software company a $100 million settlement with Apple is invalid under Alice, in what appears to be the first time an ITC investigation has been terminated during its early review program.”

This is great news and a huge relief to some Android OEMs. On the face of it, ITC made a determination on another case, as reported by MIP. “In a first for its 100-day pilot programme, the ITC has invalidated a patent involved in a $100m iPod-related settlement a decade ago. In a separate ruling, the commission has ruled that Fitbit did not misappropriate Jawbone’ trade secrets,” says the summary. We wrote a great deal about the latter case too. It’s now a two-way battle. They would both be better off just focusing on development, not bickering over patents. The latter case was also mentioned in corporate media this week (albeit very briefly). To quote CNBC: “A U.S. International Trade Commission ruled Fitbit did not steal rival Jawbone’s trade secrets. Jawbone accused Fitbit of infringing six patents and luring away employees to with confidential data about Jawbone’s business.”

The behaviour of Creative without a doubt was becoming a problem for Android and by extension a threat to Linux, so the former of the two aforementioned cases is important. BlackBerry’s transition into ‘patent troll’ was also mentioned here recently and it’s receiving unwanted media attention from a trolls expert. “BlackBerry’s new round of patent lawsuits targets BLU—and Android,” says the headline. Here is an except:

BlackBerry has filed three patent infringement lawsuits in as many weeks. The struggling phone company’s offensive barrage began with a case filed against IP telephony company Avaya on July 27. Last week, BlackBerry filed two lawsuits against budget cell phone maker BLU’s products, alleging that BLU infringes a whopping 15 patents.

The dual lawsuits against BLU suggest that BlackBerry’s new turn toward patent licensing isn’t going to be a one-off event, but rather a more extended campaign. In a May earnings call, BlackBerry CEO John Chen told investors he’s in a “patent licensing mode” and is hoping to monetize his company’s 38,000 patents.

The new lawsuits also suggest that BlackBerry has patents it believes describe Android features, so don’t be surprised if more Android phones are in the crosshairs soon. One of the two cases filed last week accuses user-interface features that are more about Android than they are about BLU. A small manufacturer like BLU could make for a good “test case” against a maker of Android phones.

When once-famous brands like Creative and BlackBerry become nothing but a pile of patents there’s a lot of trouble for FOSS such as Android, which is built on top of Linux. Software patents need to end and patent sanity assured. Customers only lose when products are intentionally made more primitive due to fear of litigation. A lot of them are incredibly overpriced, too.

Corporate Media in India Misrepresents Startups to Push for Software Patents

Thursday 25th of August 2016 05:03:33 PM

Summary: A parade of misinformation as seen in Indian (but English-speaking) press this week as questions about patentability of software resurface

FOREIGN giants which operate in India (companies like IBM and Microsoft) just can’t help trying to repeatedly introduce software patents in India, aided by front groups and lawyers of theirs. Why on Earth is NASSCOM, which is connected to Bill Gates [1, 2, 3], participating in a debate in India regarding software patents or even just software? “NEW rules designed to boost India’s software industry will open for public consultation in a matter of days, say sources close to the matter,” said one new article among several this week (e.g. [1, 2). These mentioned software patents as well and some correctly noted that “this opens them [software companies] to patent trolls. Dealing with patent trolls here as India doesn’t have software patents.” The English here is problematic and then it says this: “So the conundrum for startups is whether to stay in India or not.”

“India is constantly being lobbied by big businesses that are not even Indian.”No, startups would be wasting their time pursuing patents on software. In practice, heavy-pocketed corporations from abroad want software patents. Indian startups do not. But don’t count on corporate media like the above to accurately represent the desires and needs of ordinary Indians. Neither should anyone trust NASSCOM, one among several Indian agencies that act like outposts and brought India nothing but EDGI.

India is constantly being lobbied by big businesses that are not even Indian. Watch what Microsoft has done to the Modi government earlier this year and last year. It shot down a Free/Open Source software policy.

Links 25/8/2016: Linux Turns 25, NetworkManager Turns 1.4

Thursday 25th of August 2016 04:39:37 PM

Contents GNU/Linux
  • Kernel Space
  • Applications
  • Desktop Environments/WMs
    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt
    • GNOME Desktop/GTK
      • The future is here

        Nautilus from master, updated everyday, parallel installable, in less than 3 minutes. I cannot believe this is possible. Note that due to be sandboxed with no permission handling there are things that are not working, like opening with an application.

        For someone not aware of the whole platform and the Linux desktop, it’s difficult to see how many implications this bring to us and the changes that will allow in the upcoming months. This truly changes the game for GNOME (and any other desktop) as a project and platform, including 3rd party developers and companies using Linux desktops or that want to support it.

      • GUADEC’16 report

        I got a chance to attend GUADEC’16 which happened in Karlsruhe, Germany from 11 – 17 August. I stayed for the whole duration including Workshop Day, core days and the later BOF days which were very learning. I’m grateful to my mentor David Woodhouse who guided me all the time. I thank GNOME community for giving me the chance to speak at intern lightning talk and i tried my best to present my project in front of those great people. I hope to get a chance someday again to speak up. We have finished our GSoC project so i am free now to wander around to find some more places and tasks in GNOME’s huge shelter. My experience of attending GUADEC was awesome, despite being a less speaker i was very comfortable to talk and interact to people in the community. I made some new friends in the community and i came to know a lot more about it. I loved attending social events after the long day of great and motivating talks. I am thankful to the GUADEC organizers, i didn’t feel any problem for a second staying 6,000 kms away from home.

      • GUADEC 2016

        I came back from Karlsruhe last week, where GUADEC 2016 took place.

        It was a wonderful event. Even though it was only my second GUADEC, I felt at home in this community, meeting with old and new friends.

      • Summer Talks, PurpleEgg

        The topics were different but related: The Flock talk talked about how to make things better for a developer using Fedora Workstation as their development workstation, while the GUADEC talk was about the work we are doing to move Fedora to a model where the OS is immutable and separate from applications. A shared idea of the two talks is that your workstation is not your development environment environment. Installing development tools, language runtimes, and header files as part of your base operating system implies that every project you are developing wants the same development environment, and that simply is not the case.

      • An awesome experience!

        GUADEC has been a week full of memorable moments. As my friend Rares mentioned in his post, our newcomers group was welcomed by friendly community members right as we arrived at the hotel. For someone who has never attended a similar event before, this really helped with getting into the conference atmosphere.

        In the first couple days of the conference, I found myself meeting a lot of people that I knew from IRC. It felt really nice to finally know the person behind the internet nick. I was especially excited about getting to meet my mentor, Carlos Soriano =). In between the presentations I also took the time to prepare my own lightning talk about compressed files in Nautilus. Speaking in front of the GNOME community for the first time was a unique experience.

  • Distributions
    • New Releases
    • Slackware Family
      • NOAA Breaks Weather Apps, Slackware Updates, Valve @ 20

        The LinuxCon headlines continue to dominate but, more importantly, our desktop weather apps are broken thanks to NOAA decommissioning the site. Liam Dawe looked back at 20 years of Valve and Sebastian “sebas” Kügler introduced new KDE kscreen-doctor. Slackware rolled out some updates including a rare kernel upgrade and The VAR Guy wants to hear about your first time.

    • Red Hat Family
      • New CentOS Atomic Host Update Released with Linux Kernel 3.10, Docker 1.10.3-46

        CentOS Project’s Jason Brooks is back again with some awesome news for those interested in using the CentOS Atomic Host operating system designed for running Docker containers on top of the RHEL-based CentOS Linux 7 platform.

      • Red Hat’s gunning for VMware with virtualization platform update

        Open-source Linux vendor Red Hat Inc. has thrown in support for OpenStack Neutron and other new technologies with the latest release of its software virtualization package, in what looks like a bid to steal customers away from VMware Inc.’s more widely-used solution.

        Targeted at convergence, Red Hat Virtualization 4 is the first version of the platform that doesn’t include the word “enterprise,” in a move that suggests the company is hoping its virtualized stack will become the platform for convergence, rather than a server density product.

        OpenStack Neutron is the open-source networking project used by Software-Defined Networks (SDNs), which up until now has only been available as a preview. Many have criticized Neutron’s development for lagging behind the rest of OpenStack’s code base, and Red Hat was one of several vendors to concede that things could be sped up a bit. With the inclusion of the software in Red Hat Virtualization, the company says its Linux platform can be used to run both cloud-enabled and “traditional” workloads in concert.

      • Red Hat Virtualization 4 woos VMware faithful

        It’s easy for a virtual machine user to feel left out these days, what with containers dominating the discussion of how to run applications at scale. But take heart, VM fans: Red Hat hasn’t forgotten about you.

        RHV (Red Hat Virtualization) 4.0, released today, refreshes Red Hat’s open source virtualization platform with new technologies from the rest of Red Hat’s product line. It’s a twofold strategy to consolidate Red Hat’s virtualization efforts across its various products and to ramp up the company’s intention to woo VMware customers.

      • Commvault Announces Support of Red Hat Virtualization 4 with Commvault Software
      • Fedora
        • UDP Failures and RNGs
        • F24-20160823 updated Live isos

          New Kernel means new set of updated lives.

          I am happy to release the F24-20160823 updated lives isos.

        • Curse you, Jon Masters! Why do you always have to be right!

          Long story short, Fedora 24 came out and I’m given the taste of the same medicine: the video on the ASUS is completely busted. I was able to limp along for now by using the old kernel 4.4.6-301.fc23, but come on, this is clearly a massive regression. Think anyone is there to bisect and find the culprit? Of course not. I have to do it it myself.

          So, how did F24 ship? Well… I didn’t test beta versions, so I don’t have much ground to complain.

        • Communication Anti-Patterns
        • Autocloud: What’s new?

          Autocloud was released during the Fedora 23 cycle as a part of the Two Week Atomic Process.

          Previously, it used to listen to fedmsg for successful Koji builds. Whenever, there is a new message the AutocloudConsumer queues these message for processing. The Autocloud job service then listens to the queue, downloads the images and runs the tests using Tunir. A more detailed post about it’s release can be read here.

          During the Fedora 24 cycle things changed. There was a change on how the Fedora composes are built. Thanks to adamw for writing a detailed blogpost on what, why and how things changed.

        • Modularity Infrastructure Design

          The purpose of our Modularity initiative is to support the building, maintaining, and shipping of modular things. So, in order to ensure these three requirements are met, we need to design a framework for building and composing the distribution.

          In terms of the framework, in general, we are concerned about the possibility of creating an exponential number of component combinations with independent lifecycles. That is, when the number of component combinations becomes too large, we will not be able to manage them. So that we don’t accidentally make our lives worse, we must limit the number of supported modules with a policy and provide infrastructure automation to reduce the amount of manual work required.

    • Debian Family
  • Devices/Embedded
    • Open source drone controller has an FPGA-enhanced brain

      Aerotenna has launched an open source, $499 “OcPoc” drone flight controller that runs Linux on an Altera Cyclone V ARM/FPGA SoC.

      Lawrence, Kansas based Aerotenna, which bills itself as “the leading provider of innovative microwave sensors and flight control systems,” describes OcPoC (Octagonal Pilot on Chip) as a ready-to-fly, open source flight control platform. The system integrates an IMU, barometer, GPS, and a CSI-camera interface.

    • Phones
      • Android
        • Xiaomi Redmi Note 4 unveiled in China, priced at $135

          Xiaomi took the wraps off their latest smartphone offering, the Redmi Note 4, earlier today, and as is expected from the budget-friendly Redmi series, the device offers a premium look, specifications, and features, and more importantly, an ultra-affordable price tag.

          The Redmi Note 4 retains the premium full metal unibody construction that was introduced with its predecessor, but now comes with a brushed metal finish and chamfered edges that looks and feels even better. The design language is quite similar as well, with the Redmi Note 4 also coming with a fingerprint scanner on the back.

          Under the hood, the Redmi Note 4 comes with a 5.5-inch Full HD display that is covered with a 2.5D curved glass panel. The phone is powered by a MediaTek Helio X20 processor, that is backed by the Mali-T880MP4 GPU and 2 GB or 3 GB of RAM. 16 GB or 64 GB are the on-board storage options available, which also dictates how much RAM you get, and you also get expandable storage via microSD card to cover all your needs. Keeping everything running is a huge 4,100 mAh battery.

        • New study finds iPhones fail far more often than Android phones

          Apple customers are generally a shockingly loyal bunch. The company’s high repeat customer rate can be attributed to a combination of factors that concern iPhones themselves as well as Apple’s industry-leading customer service. Dealing with Apple’s customer care department has always been a pleasure compared to dealing with rival companies, and iPhones themselves have historically been very reliable, offering a consistently smooth user experience that people love.

        • Relax, Spire can now connect to Android phones

          Spire, the wearable that promises to help you with healthy breathing and mindfulness, was previously only available for iOS devices. But that should change with an update rolling out now.

        • Android 7.0 Nougat: Small changes that make a big difference in UX

          The seventh iteration of Android (Nougat) has finally been released by the mighty Google. If you happen to be the owner of a Nexus device, you might see this update very soon. Everyone else…you know the drill.

          So after an extended period of waiting for the update to trickle through your carrier and onto your device, what can you expect to happen to your Android device once its center has become a creamier shade of Nougat?

        • Two Nokia Android smartphones show up in benchmark

          Nokia is definitely coming out with a few Android smartphones later this year, but today’s Nokia has little in common with the company that ruled the mobile phone industry for years.

          For starters, the devices that will be released this year, or the next, will be made by a third-party company. Nokia won’t be manufacturing phones anymore and most likely it won’t manage the way they are sold through retailers and authorized resellers.

        • Proxima bae, Instagram scams, Android goes full crypto: ICYMI
        • PayPal adds proper Nexus Imprint fingerprint login support on Android
        • Google Duo has been downloaded 5 million times on Android since its release
        • Google’s New Android Brings a Much Needed Change

          Thanks in part to Samsung’s Galaxy Note lineup and Apple’s iPhone 6s Plus, large-screened phones are becoming more popular than ever. Time spent on these large phones, sometimes called “phablets,” grew by 334% year-over-year in 2015, according to data from Flurry Analytics.

          Still, few phone makers other than Samsung ssnlf have made good use of these larger devices. Google goog is hoping to change this with its newest version of Android. Called 7.0 Nougat, it notably features the ability to view apps in a split-screen mode. The software update, which Google began pushing out to certain Nexus devices this week, makes it possible for Android users to interact with more than one app simultaneously.

        • Google’s New Android Brings a Much Needed Change

          Real multitasking has finally come to stock Android — and it’s about time

          Thanks in part to Samsung’s Galaxy Note lineup and Apple’s iPhone 6s Plus, large-screened phones are becoming more popular than ever. Time spent on these large phones, sometimes called “phablets,” grew by 334% year-over-year in 2015, according to data from Flurry Analytics.

          Still, few phone makers other than Samsung have made good use of these larger devices. Google is hoping to change this with its newest version of Android. Called 7.0 Nougat, it notably features the ability to view apps in a split-screen mode. The software update, which Google began pushing out to certain Nexus devices this week, makes it possible for Android users to interact with more than one app simultaneously.

        • Android 7.0 has a hidden feature that could finally make it better than iOS

          Android and iOS have been in a user-interface war for years. Who is winning really depends on who you ask, but a secret feature buried in the code for Android 8.0 Nougat shows a feature that would give Android the upper hand.

          Android Police uncovered details and screenshots of a navigation bar customizer hidden in the code for Android Nougat. It’s not currently active, as it was pulled from the code base for being “not ready,” but a tipster managed to recreate the feature and provide screenshots.

        • 8 new things Android 7.0 can do that iOS can’t

          A new version of Android is here, and it looks to be a solid, if relatively low-key, upgrade. Whenever Android 7.0 (Nougat) gets to your device, you’ll probably be happy with it.

          It also means that it’s time, once again, to see how Android has separated itself from iOS. If you’ve been thinking of pledging allegiance to a new platform, then here are some new, Nougat-y features that you won’t find on any iPhone.

        • Android 7 boasts new encryption features as the Crypto War soldiers on

          Not too long ago, the idea of smartphone encryption set off a global debate.

          Now, with the release of Android 7.0, the rise of secure messaging apps, and a public awakening on cyberspying, encrypting your chats and data is easier than ever—encryption is a now marketable selling point for the world’s tech giants—even as the political controversy heats up once more.

          A year after the 2013 Edward Snowden intelligence leaks lit a political fire around spying and privacy, the American tech giants Apple and Google added full-disk encryption to iPhones and Android devices. Police, intelligence agencies, governments, criminals, hackers, and all sorts of prying eyes around the globe would be increasingly locked out of the ubiquitous device that knows so much about us all.

        • Google Drive for Android now creates file and folder shortcuts
        • Android Nougat offers more PC emojis, plus an avocado
        • There’s a hidden menu in Android that lets you unlock experimental features — here’s how to use it
        • Project Fi’s Wifi Assistant to serve all Nexus devices soon
        • How to use split-screen mode in Android Nougat
        • How to Block Annoying Spam Calls and Texts In Android Nougat
        • Google Photos, Android System Webview, and HP Print Service plugin all reach 500 million installs
        • Android Nougat kind of arrives on the Nexus 5, if you’re bold
        • Google may let you add clipboard, keyboard switcher to Android’s navigation bar
        • LG V20 leak shows the Android phone is keeping its second screen

          LG’s V20 is set to debut on September 6th, but mobile leaker Evan Blass has already got his hands on a high-resolution image of the Android flagship and posted it to Twitter. The image shows off a rather bland-looking smartphone with an uncluttered home screen devoid of any duplicate apps and unnecessary bloatware. What we can see from this image is LG’s commitment to the second screen concept it debuted with last year’s V10.

Free Software/Open Source
  • Education
    • 4 tips for teaching kids how to build electronics

      Kids are naturally curious about how things work, and with a new trend in hardware companies creating open source hardware products, it’s a great time to teach kids about electronics. But modern technology can seem too complex to even begin to understand. So where do you start?

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)
  • BSD
    • more, less, and a story of typical Unix fossilization

      In the beginning, by which we mean V7, Unix didn’t have a pager at all. That was okay; Unix wasn’t very visual in those days, partly because it was still sort of the era of the hard copy terminal. Then along came Berkeley and BSD. People at Berkeley were into CRT terminals, and so BSD Unix gave us things like vi and the first pager program, more (which showed up quite early, in 3BSD, although this isn’t as early as vi, which appears in 2BSD). Calling a pager more is a little bit odd but it’s a Unix type of name and from the beginning more prompted you with ‘–More–’ at the bottom of the screen.

      All of the Unix vendors that based their work on BSD Unix (like Sun and DEC) naturally shipped versions of more along with the rest of the BSD programs, and so more spread around the BSD side of things. However, more was by no means the best pager ever; as you might expect, it was actually a bit primitive and lacking in features. So fairly early on Mark Nudelman wrote a pager with somewhat more features and it wound up being called less as somewhat of a joke. When less was distributed via Usenet’s net.sources in 1985 it became immediately popular, as everyone could see that it was clearly nicer than more, and pretty soon it was reasonably ubiquitous on Unix machines (or at least ones that had some degree of access to stuff from Usenet). In 4.3 BSD, more itself picked up the ‘page backwards’ feature that had motived Mark Nudelman to write less, cf the 4.3BSD manpage, but this wasn’t the only attraction of less. And this is where we get into Unix fossilization.

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC
  • Public Services/Government
    • Uganda: Govt to Cut Costs With Open Source Software

      The private sector and government departments have been urged to adopt Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) to increase their efficiency and competitiveness, writes ALI TWAHA.

      FOSS is software with source code that anyone can inspect, modify, and enhance to suit their needs, something that is not possible with commercial software currently being used in most government departments.

      Speaking during the seventh African conference on FOSS at Speke Resort hotel in Munyoyo, ICT minister Frank Tumwebaze said government departments will gradually integrate the use of FOSS to reduce the cost of public service delivery.

      “Presently, government has been spending over $40m (Shs132bn) annually on commercial software from the like of Oracle systems and Microsoft Cooperation. [Using] FOSS will result into enormous savings that can be re-injected into other under-funded areas,” Tumwebaze said.

    • Uganda: New Software Policy to Boost Innovation in Offing

      A Science, Technology and Innovations driven economy may soon be a reality in Uganda if Cabinet approves a free and open software being developed.

      Speaking at the 7th Africa Conference on Open Source Software at the Commonwealth Resort in Munyonyo on Monday, Mr James Saaka, the executive director of National Information and Technology Authority Uganda, said there is a lot of registered software being used but is very costly.

      He said globally, people develop Free Open Source Software (Foss) which Uganda would emulate for national development.

      Mr Saaka said the country is in the initial stages to develop Foss, adding that the software can spur investment in research and development.

      “We see that the Proprietary software is still expensive and if we are going to develop more online services, we can’t afford but use alternative means to develop our e-government service,” Mr Saaka said.

      He also added that in Uganda, there is an advent of talent skilled in Foss and can help in innovations.

    • Open Source: Of the people, for the people, by the people

      Open Source is the best option for e-Governance. Its open nature allows constant improvements from the open source community, and when built in the correct method using firewalls, the security is protected as well. The best part of the open source for Governments is that the overall cost of building these solutions are much less than other frameworks as it is built, improved, and maintained by a strongly, connect open source community. Truly… ‘of the people, by the people and for the people’.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration
    • Open Data
      • Oil companies joining open source world by sharing data [Ed: No, oil companies, sharing data is open data and not open source. More openwashing, like greenwashing]

        The oil and gas industry has long collected huge volumes of data, but it hasn’t always known quite what to do with it all. Often, the terabytes aren’t even stored on computer systems that readily talk to each other.

        Industry insiders are used to it, said Michael Jones, senior director of strategy at the oil and gas software maker Landmark. But it’s not OK, he said. So, about a year ago, Jones and some of his oil industry colleagues set about to fix it.

        This week, at Landmark’s Innovation Forum & Expo at the Westin hotel in northwest Houston, the company unveiled the beginnings of a collaborative its members called groundbreaking. In a move to drive technology further, faster — and, perhaps, take a bigger piece of the burgeoning big-data market — Landmark is pushing its main computing platform into the cloud, for all to use.

    • Open Access/Content
  • Programming/Development
    • Go! Speed Racer Go!

      I finally reached a point where I could start running the go version of sm-photo-tool. I finished the option validation for the list command. While I was testing it I noticed how much faster the Go version felt. Here are the python vs Go versions of the commands.

  • Standards/Consortia
    • Semantic Interoperability for European Public Services will be presented at the SEMANTiCS 2016 conference

      The revision of the European Interoperability Framework and the importance of data and information standardisation for promoting semantic interoperability for European Public Services will be presented by Dr. Vassilios Peristeras, DG Informatics, ISA unit at the SEMANTiCS 2016 conference which takes place in Leipzig on September 13th and 14th 2016. The title of the presentation is “Promoting Semantic Interoperability for European Public Services: the European Commission ISA2 Programme” (slideset to appear here soon).

Leftovers
  • How Rio Ratings Surprised NBC and Will Impact Future Olympics

    Heading into the Summer Olympics, NBCUniversal executives were bullish on ratings for Rio de Janeiro. With a host city just one hour ahead of the Eastern Time Zone and a mountain of data pointing toward heightened interest in the games, NBCU projected that Rio would outpace the 2012 London Games in viewership.

    It did not. Instead of a bulletproof success story, Rio delivered a complex portrait of the rapid changes affecting the TV business and of a viewership still hungry for Olympics coverage, but also for new ways to consume it.

    Over 15 days of competition, NBCU’s Olympics coverage averaged 27.5 million viewers across all platforms, including digital streaming — down 9% from 2012. But traditional TV ratings told a far grimmer story, one that began with Nielsen numbers that showed viewership for the Aug. 5 Opening Ceremony decline 28% from London.

  • Health/Nutrition
    • A Spike in Rates of Pregnancy-related Deaths in Texas Spurs Soul-searching

      Last week, researchers studying maternal mortality in the U.S. reported an ominous trend: The rate of pregnancy-related deaths in Texas seemed to have doubled since 2010, making the Lone Star State one of the most dangerous places in the developed world to have a baby. Reproductive health advocates were quick to blame the legislature for slashing funding in 2011–12 to family-planning clinics that serve low-income women, calling the numbers a “tragedy” and “a national embarrassment.”

      Now a 15-member state task force has issued its own maternal mortality report, offering a new view of what might be going on. The bottom line: Maternal deaths have indeed been increasing in Texas, members said, and African-American women are bearing the brunt of the crisis. For 2011 and 2012, black mothers accounted for 11.4 percent of Texas births but 28.8 percent of pregnancy-related deaths.

    • Everything has water flowing through it

      And how do we communicate the health risks from contaminated water without causing panic? Sometimes people don’t even want to know about water contamination, as they have so many other things they are already dealing with – water is just another one of many worries. Community wide communication is a real challenge on a large reservation.

    • Stop Playing Politics With Reproductive Rights

      Young women voters have a lot to worry about this election cycle, from a flurry of anti-abortion messaging to diminishing access to reproductive services.

      Just this month, in fact, Congress put the brakes on vital legislation that would fund efforts to prevent the spread of Zika because they’re arguing over birth control.

      I have grown up in a generation of women who can take for granted our right to vote, work for money, own land, and not be treated as property—but I can never take for granted my right to choose what to do with my own body.

      Like 58 percent of the women who use the pill, I rely primarily on birth control to treat many medical conditions. I have hormone-based migraines, endometriosis, and polycystic ovary syndrome, which puts me at a higher risk for a whole slew of other health issues—from cardiovascular disease to diabetes.

      But I’m lucky. Birth control treats all three of my conditions where other methods have failed.

    • The Louisiana Catastrophe Proves the Need for Universal, Single-Payer Disaster Insurance

      Of the tens of thousands of Lousianans who had their homes flooded this month, most do not have flood insurance. They weren’t supposed to need it, because flooding had never been a problem where they live. And now it is clear that the federal emergency help they receive will be wholly inadequate.

      Louisiana’s flood victims are in a terrible predicament, and they are not alone. In the America of 2016, thousand-year catastrophes seem to be occurring on a monthly schedule, while we remain stuck with pre-greenhouse home insurance. That is leaving countless families economically devastated.

  • Security
    • Wednesday’s security updates
    • This Android botnet relies on Twitter for its commands
    • Android Security Flaw Exposes 1.4B Devices [Ed: Alternative headline is, “Android is very popular, it has billions of users. And yes, security ain’t perfect.” When did the press ever publish a headline like, “Windows flaw leaves 2 billion PCs susceptible for remote takeover?” (happens a lot)]
    • Wildfire ransomware code cracked: Victims can now unlock encrypted files for free

      Victims of the Wildfire ransomware can get their encrypted files back without paying hackers for the privilege, after the No More Ransom initiative released a free decryption tool.

      No More Ransom runs a web portal that provides keys for unlocking files encrypted by various strains of ransomware, including Shade, Coinvault, Rannoh, Rakhn and, most recently, Wildfire.

      Aimed at helping ransomware victims retrieve their data, No More Ransom is a collaborative project between Europol, the Dutch National Police, Intel Security, and Kaspersky Lab.

      Wildfire victims are served with a ransom note demanding payment of 1.5 Bitcoins — the cryptocurrency favored by cybercriminals — in exchange for unlocking the encrypted files. However, cybersecurity researchers from McAfee Labs, part of Intel Security, point out that the hackers behind Wildfire are open to negotiation, often accepting 0.5 Bitcoins as a payment.

      Most victims of the ransomware are located in the Netherlands and Belgium, with the malicious software spread through phishing emails aimed at Dutch speakers. The email claims to be from a transport company and suggests that the target has missed a parcel delivery — encouraging them to fill in a form to rearrange delivery for another date. It’s this form which drops Wildfire ransomware onto the victim’s system and locks it down.

    • PNScan Linux Trojan Resurfaces with New Attacks Targeting Routers in India

      A trojan thought to have died out resurfaced with new attacks and a new and improved version, launching new attacks on routers running Linux-based firmware located in India’s cyber-space.

  • Defence/Aggression
    • Provoking nuclear war by media

      The exoneration of a man accused of the worst of crimes, genocide, made no headlines. Neither the BBC nor CNN covered it. The Guardian allowed a brief commentary. Such a rare official admission was buried or suppressed, understandably. It would explain too much about how the rulers of the world rule.

      The International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) in The Hague has quietly cleared the late Serbian president, Slobodan Milosevic, of war crimes committed during the 1992-95 Bosnian war, including the massacre at Srebrenica.

    • The Two Tales of Russia Hacking NYT

      It’s quite possible both of these stories are misleading. But they do raise questions about why the spooks want to sensationalize these Russian hacks while NYT chooses to downplay them.

    • The Bogus ‘Humanitarian’ War on Serbia

      The exoneration of a man accused of the worst of crimes, genocide, made no headlines. Neither the BBC nor CNN covered it. The Guardian allowed a brief commentary. Such a rare official admission was buried or suppressed, understandably. It would explain too much about how the rulers of the world rule.

    • Fighting Absurdity With Absurdity: Heaven Forbid the Penis

      Arguing that carrying firearms on campus will be as effective against random gun violence as carrying dildos, thousands of students at the University of Texas at Austin protested the state’s insane new open carry law Wednesday by gleefully hoisting “Armed With Reason” and “Guns Do Kill People” signs along with over 4,500 donated dildos, flesh color to fluorescent, in what may prove to be the state’s largest ever anti-gun rally. The #CocksNotGlocks campaign, started by one alum as a bit of “defiant nonsense” aimed at fighting absurdity with absurdity, kicked off on the first day of classes by drawing big crowds, with some inventive students juggling dildos and others hawking them with “Come get a dick!”

      The campaign seeks to repeal Senate Bill 11, signed into law by GOP Gov. Gregg Abbott in June but only implemented August 1, allowing students or faculty at public universities to carry their favorite guns to class, because what could possibly go wrong? The law has been vociferously opposed at the relatively progressive Austin campus, where many spoke against it at earlier public forums, an esteemed Architecture Dean resigned rather than live with it, and three professors sought an injunction to block guns from their classrooms; a federal judge just denied their request. Campaign organizers have asked students to “open carry” or hang the sex toys on backpacks until the law is changed: “Why leave your dildos at home if other people won’t leave their guns at home? Wear ‘em proudly until SB11 is repealed.”

    • Top 6 Reasons Turkey is Finally attacking ISIL in Syria’s Jarabulus

      Turkey and coalition allies launch air strikes Wednesday morning against the Daesh (ISIS, ISIL) stronghold of Jarabulus, on the Syrian side near the Turkish border. At the same time, Turkish artillery on the ground pounded the town. With Manbij in the hands of the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces, Jarabulus is the last town affording a smuggling route for men and arms from Turkey into Syria’s al-Raqqa, the HQ of Daesh in the country. Turkey has left Jarabulus alone for years and winked at the Daesh smugglers. Why is it acting now?

    • Every Syrian fighter is waging an existential battle that can only end in victory or death

      Five-year-old Omran Daqneesh, his face bloody and bruised from bomb blast, stares out in bafflement at a world in which somebody had just tried to kill him. Pictures of his little figure in the back of an ambulance in Aleppo have swiftly become the living symbol of the slaughter in Syria and Iraq.

      In the past there would have been more demands for spurious responses to the latest atrocity in Syria, with calls for the immediate overthrow of President Bashar al-Assad or no-fly zones – measures that sound positive but are never going to happen. This time round there is greater wariness internationally about such quick-fix solutions, opening the way for more realistic action to reduce the present horrendous level of violence.

      I am always edgy about proposing anything that might mitigate the barbarity of the war in Syria and Iraq because explaining what aspects of the situation, however murderous, cannot be changed looks like justifying them. For instance, British policy since 2011 has been that Assad should go, but this was never going to happen because he controlled most of the population centres and was backed by Russia and Iran. To pretend otherwise might sound benign, but was in reality providing the ingredients for war without end.

    • Ankara’s climbdown on Assad

      Sharp changes in the war on Syria have impacted the policy of the Turkish government of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Initially Mr. Erdogan believed that the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad would fall precipitously. It did not. Rather than overthrow Mr. Assad, the war has placed Turkey itself in danger — a ‘failed coup’ on July 15 came alongside a renewed war against Turkey’s Kurdish population, just as Islamic State (IS) attacks in the country have raised alarm bells about Mr. Erdogan’s adventurism. An adjustment of Turkey’s policy is now on the cards. The President’s August 9 trip to Moscow to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin and the warm words exchanged when the Iranian Foreign Minister came to Turkey on August 10 indicate a change.

    • Arms Industry Donating to Hawkish Clinton Over Incoherent Trump

      Employees of 25 of the nation’s largest defense companies—such as Lockheed Martin, General Dynamics, and Raytheon—are choosing to fill the coffers of Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton over those of her rival, GOP nominee Donald Trump.

      That’s according to a new analysis by Politico, published Wednesday and based on federal campaign finance filings.

      Indeed, Politico found that Clinton—whose hawkish tendencies have been front-and-center during the 2016 campaign—is leading Trump “by a ratio of 2-to-1 in campaign donations from employees working for defense giants like Lockheed Martin and General Dynamics. That’s a sharp turnaround from 2012, when defense contractors gave more to then-Republican nominee Mitt Romney than to President Barack Obama.”

      Specifically, employees of those 25 firms have donated $93,000 to Clinton, compared with $46,000 for Trump. “Clinton’s donor rolls also include more than two dozen top defense executives, while Trump’s show just two,” Politico adds.

    • Let the Peace Games Begin

      After the Olympic games in Rio drew to a close, another set of games have begun: military exercises between the United States and South Korea to prepare for a possible armed conflict with North Korea.

    • U.S.-Backed Turkish Offensive in Syria Targets U.S.-Backed Kurds

      Turkey has “launched a major military intervention in Syria,” the Guardian reports, dispatching tanks and warplanes to purportedly reclaim the city of Jarabulus, currently held by the Islamic State (ISIS), and to attack Kurdish forces in northeastern Syria.

      “At 4am this morning, operations started in the north of Syria against terror groups which constantly threaten our country,” said Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in Ankara on Wednesday, according to the Guardian. Turkey’s government classifies Kurdish nationalists as terrorists, although Erdoğan also pointed to a bomb attack that killed 54 in Southern Turkey, which the Turkish regime blamed on ISIS, as justification for Wednesday’s siege in Syria.

      Turkey’s onslaught is backed by the U.S., while the Kurdish group that Turkey is targeting, the leftwing Kurdish nationalist YPG, is also backed by the United States.

      “If Turkey’s forces drive out ISIS,” observes the Christian Science Monitor, “it could lead to a messy confrontation between the Turkish government and the U.S.-backed YPG.”

      And while Turkey has long battled against Kurdish nationalists both within and outside of its borders while the West turned a blind eye, Wednesday marks the first large-scale Turkish military operation against Kurdish militias in Syria.

    • U.S. Weapons Sales Are Drenched in Yemeni Blood

      When Pope Francis visited the U.S. Congress in September 2015, he boldly posed a moral challenge to his American hosts, asking: “Why are deadly weapons being sold to those who plan to inflict untold suffering on individuals and society?”

      “Sadly, the answer, as we all know, is simply for money,” he solemnly concluded. “Money that is drenched in blood.”

      In this case, it’s innocent Yemeni blood.

      During his almost eight years in office, President Obama has approved a jaw-dropping, record-breaking $110 billion in weapons sales to the repressive Saudi regime, all with Congressional backing.

      “In the face of this shameful and culpable silence, it is our duty to confront the problem and stop the arms trade,” Pope Francis said. Our lawmakers have failed miserably at heeding the Pope’s call.

    • Muslim leader ‘murdered by IS supporters for practising Islamic healing’

      Two IS supporters murdered an imam because they viewed his practice of Islamic healing as “black magic”, a jury has heard.

      Jalal Uddin, 71, suffered multiple injuries to his head and face in an attack, thought to have involved a hammer, in a children’s play area in Rochdale, Greater Manchester, on the evening of February 18 this year.

      The Crown say the Bangladeshi national was targeted after he left the mosque where he usually prayed, ate a meal at a friend’s house and then walked home.

      Mohammed Hussain Syeedy, 22, and Mohammed Abdul Kadir, 24, were said to have developed “a hatred” of Mr Uddin when they discovered last year that he practised Ruqya healing – which involves the use of amulets.

    • Lawyer: Timbuktu Residents Felt Shame After Sites Destroyed

      By reducing historic mausoleums in Timbuktu to dusty piles of rubble, Islamic extremists desecrated holy sites, leaving residents ashamed and impoverished, a lawyer said Wednesday at the trial of the man accused of leading the destruction.

      Mayombo Kassongo, who represented victims at the trial of Muslim radical Ahmad Al Faqi Al Mahdi, said locals expressed “shame at seeing their saints stripped naked.”

      Al Mahdi led pickax-wielding rebels who wrecked the simple mud-brick mausoleums covering the saints’ tombs in June and July 2012 in the famed city in the Saharan nation of Mali. Kassongo said the destruction of the World Heritage-listed sites was also a financial blow to residents, crippling tourism in the remote African city.

      Al Mahdi pleaded guilty and expressed remorse Monday for his role in leading the destruction of nine mausoleums and a mosque door in Timbuktu and urged Muslims around the world not to commit similar acts.

      “They are not going to lead to any good for humanity,” he said.

      The trial is continuing despite Al Mahdi’s guilty plea to give Timbuktu residents a chance to speak about the impact of the destruction and to allow prosecutors and his defense lawyer to discuss a possible sentence.

      Prosecution lawyer Gilles Dutertre said Al Mahdi played “a key role” in the 2012 destruction and urged judges to sentence him to between nine and 11 years in prison.

    • Margaret Thatcher’s role in securing controversial £42bn arms deal with Saudi Arabia revealed

      Newly released files have exposed the role Margaret Thatcher personally played in securing one of the UK’s biggest and most controversial arms deals.

      The previously secret files show how officials helped then Prime Minister Mrs Thatcher carefully negotiate the notorious Al-Yamamah deal which saw Britain sell fighter jets to Saudi Arabia.

      The documents detail a meeting and private lunch between Mrs Thatcher and King Fahd, soon after which the £42bn contract was clinched, sparking anger form arms-trade campaigners.

      It came back to haunt Tony Blair who intervened to stop an investigation into the deal, that was exploring claims of ran a multimillion-pound “slush fund”.

    • US arms sale to Saudi Arabia under fire from lawmakers

      A bipartisan quartet of lawmakers is circulating a letter that seeks to delay a pending arms sale to Saudi Arabia.

      The lawmakers are targeting the arms sale as part of their opposition to U.S. support for the Saudi-led bombing campaign in Yemen against Iran-backed Houthi rebels.

      Lawmaker criticism of U.S. support for the campaign has recently grown louder, following Saudi airstrikes that hit a school and a hospital, killing dozens of civilians.

      The $1.15 billion arms sale, which the State Department approved on Aug. 9, would include up to 153 tanks, hundreds of machines guns, ammunition and other equipment.

      By law, Congress has 30 days to block the sale, but the lawmakers are concerned that notification was given during Congress’s summer recess and that the 30-day period will end with lawmakers having just returned to D.C.

      “Any decision to sell more arms to Saudi Arabia should be given adequate time for full deliberation by Congress,” the letter to President Obama will say, according to a draft. “We are concerned, however, that the timing of this notification during the August congressional recess could be interpreted to mean that Congress has little time to consider the arms deal when it returns from recess within the 30 day window established by law.”

    • Filipino maid ‘raped by employer’ in Saudi Arabia dies in hospital

      A Filipino maid has reportedly died in Saudi Arabia after seeing her alleged rapist in the hospital where she was confined.

      Imra Edloy, 35, was rushed to King Salman Hospital in Riyadh on 13 August with severe injuries suspected to be from sexual assault. She fell into a coma soon after arriving in the hospital.

      While she was unable to identify her attacker, before falling unconscious she pointed at her employer when asked who abused her, ABS CBN News reports.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature
    • Global warming signal can be traced back to the 1830s, climate scientists say

      When Charles Dickens, the English novelist, was detailing the “soft black drizzle” of pollution over London, he might inadvertently have been chronicling the early signs of global warming.

      New research led by Australian scientists has pegged back the timing of when humans had clearly begun to change the climate to the 1830s.

    • North Dakota and Feds Suppress Native American Pipeline Protesters

      What’s the difference between these two pipelines? Only variations are the origin of the oil they may transport and their location as far as I can tell since they are described as competing pipelines.

      Oh, and the Keystone XL pipeline was vetoed by President Obama a year ago this past February because Congress tried to ram through approval, attempting to “circumvent longstanding and proven processes for determining whether or not building and operating a cross-border pipeline serves the national interest,” according to the president.

      In both cases — Keystone XL and the Dakota Access — the planned pipelines traversed Native American tribal lands and/or water systems upon which these sovereign nations relied. The affected tribes have protested the credible threats these pipelines pose to their health and safety as well as their heritage and sovereignty.

    • As Court Hears Arguments in Dakota Pipeline Suit, Protesters Say ‘Protect Our Water’

      As peaceful prayer camps grow in North Dakota against the controversial Dakota Access Pipeline, demonstrators in Washington, D.C. are marching and chanting in solidarity while a U.S. federal court hears arguments regarding the Standing Rock Sioux tribe’s motion to halt pipeline construction.

    • Scale of Threat Seismic Blasting Poses to Whales, Dolphins Laid Bare

      Though the Obama administration in March put a halt on drilling for oil and gas in Atlantic, the dolphins and whales inhabiting the waters are still at risk, says one ocean conservation group, as proposed seismic airgun blasting to look for reserves of the fossil fuels would leave the marine mammals “profoundly impacted.”

      The scale of the threat they face was laid bare on Wednesday with a pair of new maps released by by Oceana. Based on extensive research from Duke University’s Marine Geospatial Ecology Lab, the maps—one for bottlenose dolphins and the other for endangered humpback, fin, and sperm whales—show the overlapping areas of the proposed blasting in the area stretching from Delaware to Florida and the density of the whales and dolphins in those waters over a 12-month period.

  • Finance
    • 20 Years Later, Poverty Is Up, But Architects of “Welfare Reform” Have No Regrets

      A gathering Monday in Washington, D.C., featured a bipartisan group of former government officials agreeing on the benefits of slashing the nation’s safety net.

      This week marks the 20th anniversary of “welfare reform,” the 1996 law passed by Congress and administered by President Bill Clinton that strictly limited the amount of federal cash assistance that the poorest Americans can receive — transforming the Aid for Families with Dependent Children program into the more restrictive Temporary Aid for Needy Families.

      One of the main impacts of the law was to help double the number of American households living in extreme poverty in America – defined as living on less than $2 a day.

      The Capitol Hill event, hosted by the right-leaning American Enterprise Institute and the Progressive Policy Institute, which has been referred to as President Bill Clinton’s “idea mill,” celebrated the 20th anniversary of the law. Its architects said they had no regrets about its passage.

      Former Michigan Republican governor John Engler, who pioneered state-level welfare cutbacks and who today serves as the head of the corporate lobbying group the Business Roundtable, recounted how Bill Clinton’s support helped make national welfare reform possible.

      “It was pretty stunning in 1992 to have a Democratic candidate for president, albeit a 12-year veteran in the governor’s office talking about ending ‘welfare as we know it,’” he said. “That was a pretty decisive moment.”

      Right-wing praise for Bill Clinton was a reoccurring theme at the event. Robert Rector, a Heritage Foundation scholar who has been dubbed the “intellectual godfather” of welfare reform, claimed that Clinton took up the same cause as Ronald Reagan, allowing him to outmaneuver George W.H. Bush. “In my perspective that’s the issue that put Clinton in the White House in ’93,” Rector said.

    • Where Has All the Money for Our Schools Gone?

      As fall approaches, millions of moms and dads are scrambling to prepare for the first day of school, excited to support their children’s success.

      But are schools ready to receive our kids and foster that success? Increasingly, the answer is no.

      In at least 18 states, local government funding levels are declining, according to an analysis by the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities. And as a result, many schools will open with fewer teachers than last year, among other detrimental losses.

      As lawmakers throw up their hands and say, “sorry, there’s just not enough money,” we must ask: Where has all the money gone?

    • Stiglitz Blasts ‘Outrageous’ TPP as Obama Campaigns for Corporate-Friendly Deal

      Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz has reiterated his opposition to the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP), saying on Tuesday that President Barack Obama’s push to get the trade deal passed during the upcoming lame-duck session of Congress is “outrageous” and “absolutely wrong.”

      Stiglitz, an economics professor at Columbia University and chief economist of the Roosevelt Institute, made the comments on CNN’s “Quest Means Business.”

      His criticism comes as Obama aggressively campaigns to get lawmakers to pass the TPP in the Nov. 9 to Jan. 3 window—even as resistance mounts against the 12-nation deal.

      Echoing an argument made by Center for Economic and Policy Research co-director Mark Weisbrot, Stiglitz said, “At the lame-duck session you have congressmen voting who know that they’re not accountable anymore.”

    • Mississippi Parents Demand an Answer: Are Charter Schools Constitutional?

      Mississippi parents are challenging the public funding of charter schools on the grounds that it’s not constitutional.

      The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), an advocacy group, filed a motion for a summary judgment this week on behalf of the parents, for a speedy answer to this question.

      The only debate in the case is that of constitutionality, which makes it prime for answering, SPLC told Hinds County Chancery Judge Dewayne Thomas. The SPLC in July backed the lawsuit by several parents against Governor Phil Bryant, the Mississippi Department of Education, and the Jackson Public School District that challenged the funding of state charter schools.

      Plaintiffs say that because the privately-run, publicly-funded, corporate institutions are not overseen by the state or local superintendents, they do not qualify as “free” schools and therefore shouldn’t be eligible for taxpayer money. Three charter schools in Jackson are currently slated to receive $4 million in public funds this year.

    • Mississippi Charter School Challengers Seek Quick Judgment

      The plaintiffs project that the state and Jackson will transfer $4 million this year to three charter schools. About one-third of that money is collected from property taxes on buildings, vehicles and equipment.

    • Can Workers Get a Fair Deal in the Gig Economy?

      More and more businesses are exploiting what is known as the “1099 worker loophole”—hiring workers as “independent contractors” instead of as regularly employed workers. In some cases, companies have laid off all or most of their regular workers and then hired them back, but as independent contractors.

    • It Is Time to Begin the Process of Rebuilding Our Middle-Class Economy

      In The New York Times recently, the paper’s former Washington bureau chief, the veteran journalist Hedrick Smith, asked an important question: “Can the States Save American Democracy?” Smith, who traveled the country to write his latest book, Who Stole the American Dream?, also serves as the executive editor of the Reclaim the American Dream website, where he keeps a keen eye on efforts to revitalize politics closest to where people live. In his op-ed essay he answered his own question by reporting that “a broad array of state-level citizen movements are pressing for reforms… to give average voters more voice, make elections more competitive and ease gridlock in Congress.”

    • President Obama Aligns with Big Business to Smash Opposition to the TPP

      The Democratic primary of 2008, much like that of 2016, featured a sharp debate on global trade — about who writes the rules, who benefits, and who, ultimately, is harmed.

      And like 2016, the 2008 discussion was largely dominated by so-called trade agreements, namely the North American Free Trade Agreement. Signed into law by Bill Clinton in 1993, NAFTA encompassed the economies of Mexico, Canada, and the United States, and its implementation was accompanied by the usual lofty promises.

      Whether these promises were fulfilled is another question entirely. Barack Obama, during his run for the presidency, made his view quite clear.

      After noting that Hillary Clinton celebrated NAFTA in her memoir, calling it a “legislative victory,” Obama lamented that “One million jobs have been lost because of NAFTA.”

      “And yet, 10 years after NAFTA passed, Senator Clinton said it was good for America,” he continued. “Well, I don’t think NAFTA has been good for America — and I never have.”

    • 38 Degrees and the 52 per cent: ‘Members who voted Leave are just as much members as those who voted Remain.’

      Martin Shaw has recently criticised 38 Degrees for adopting a neutral stance on whether or not the UK should leave the European Union. Quite a lot of members voted for Brexit on 23 June; probably around half. It’s no wonder that some people find this surprising – Brexit is a polarising issue, and it’s been widely observed that social media feeds can amplify a sense that all our friends share all our views. Particularly in the immediate aftermath of the vote, when emotions were running high, I heard some 38 Degrees members on both sides of the divide express incredulity that they shared values and campaigns with people who’d voted the opposite way to them.

    • Venturing Into ‘the Capitalist Labyrinth’ (Video)

      In this week’s episode of “On Contact,” Truthdig columnist Chris Hedges sits down with Rob Urie, author of “Zen Economics,” to discuss “the capitalist labyrinth.”

      The two dive into the concept of the “economic man” or “economic woman” that Urie introduces in his book. Urie explains that humans are conditioned to feel that capitalism is a “natural” state of being. It’s “the integration of psychology with corporate desire,” he explains.

      Urie and Hedges then discuss the “radical alienation” produced by capitalism, particularly how the system is responsible for nuclear weapons, climate change and even imperialism. “Alienation is the bedrock of consumer culture,” Hedges notes.

    • Basic Income — slides in English

      I will be speaking about basic income in Turku, Finland, tomorrow Thursday August 25, at a seminar organized by the Finnish Pirate Party and Basic Income Earth Network (BIEN) Finland.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics
    • Get campaigning, UKIP’s Farage tells Donald Trump rally

      Outgoing UKIP leader Nigel Farage has urged Republicans to “get your walking boots on” and drum up support for Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump.

      He appeared before 15,000 activists in Jackson, Mississippi, being introduced by and sharing the stage with Mr Trump.

      And he said the party could “beat the pollsters” in the presidential race.

      Mr Trump, who is trailing his rival Hillary Clinton in the opinion polls, backed the UK’s exit from the EU.

      In a tweet last week, Mr Trump said: “They will soon be calling me Mr Brexit.”

      Mr Trump introduced Mr Farage as the man who “brilliantly” led the UK Independent Party’s campaign to secure a vote on the future of the UK’s 40-year membership of the European Union.

    • Donald Trump is Spending More on Hats and Other Merchandise Than on Campaign Staff

      Some GOP operatives and other political observers are starting to suspect that Donald Trump’s campaign is structured more as a publicity tour than a quest for the White House.

      Federal disclosures released this past weekend help make the case that the real estate mogul, at the very least, is not conducting a traditional campaign operation.

      They show, among other things, that Trump’s organization spent more money in July on the now-iconic “Make America Great Again” red hats, Trump T-shirts, and mugs than on the staff whose job it is to run the campaign.

      The Trump campaign paid more than $1.8 million to two vendors — California-based headwear-maker Cali-Fame and Louisiana’s Ace Specialties — for T-shirts, mugs, stickers, and the red hats (which the campaign spent over $400,000 on alone).

    • The Debut of Our Revolution: Great Potential. But.

      If Bernie and Our Revolution continue to evade the present-day realities of “the madness of militarism,” their political agenda will be significantly more limited than what our revolution requires for a truly progressive future.

    • ‘Our Revolution’ Kick-Off Signals New Phase for Movement Sanders Built
    • Bernie’s Next Revolution: New National Group to Launch to Promote Progressives

      Bernie Sanders returns to the political stage on Wednesday to try to do what no progressive has successfully done in decades—keep alive national grassroots momentum that led millions to support him and his agenda in 2016’s presidential nominating contests.

      At 9 PM Eastern, Sanders will address 2,600-plus meetings across the country to lay out the next steps in pushing the nation’s politics toward the progressive left. He will kick off a new group called Our Revolution, which will support like-minded candidates running for office and hold pro-corporate officeholders accountable on key issues.

    • Dear Us and Dear Bernie: A Few Notes on Our Revolution

      Left commentary berates mainstream media for serving up ‘too much Trump.” Fair enough, but left writers also flood us with endlessly repetitive Trump coverage.

      Left commentary claims that at election time an endless stream of writers overemphasize the ephemeral and ignore the serious. True, but left writers also continually repeat what people already know while offering few usable lessons for the future.

      Left commentary worries that Sanders will ratify the idea that politics is only about candidates and leave nothing lasting in place. Also fair, but left writers not only worry about this prospect, we contribute to it when we fixate on one person’s possible choices and ignore our own responsibility for achieving more.

      Left commentary bemoans distraction. Sensible, but the complaint becomes ironic when left writers continually repeat that elections don’t matter while not addressing what does matter, the longer term.

    • Understanding Trump’s Use of Language

      I have been repeatedly asked in media interviews about such use of language by Trump. So far as I can tell, he is simply using effective discourse mechanisms to communicate what his wants to communicate to his audience. I have found that he is very careful and very strategic in his use of language. The only way I know to show this is to function as a linguist and cognitive scientist and go through details.

      Let’s start with sentence fragments. It is common and natural in New York discourse for friends to finish one another’s sentences. And throughout the country, if you don’t actually say the rest of a friend’s sentence out loud, there is nevertheless a point at which you can finish it in your head. When this happens in cooperative discourse, it can show empathy and intimacy with a friend, that you know the context of the narrative, and that you understand and accept your friend’s framing of the situation so well that you can even finish what they have started to say. Of course, you can be bored with, or antagonistic to, someone and be able to finish their sentences with anything but a feeling of empathy and intimacy. But Trump prefers to talk to a friendly crowd.

    • Green Party’s Jill Stein Praises WikiLeaks, Calls Julian Assange a Hero
    • Questions About Clinton Campaign’s Transparency Ramp Up After a Weekend of Closed Fundraisers

      Meanwhile, concerns are growing about a potential conflict of interest between the Clinton Foundation and the government during Clinton’s tenure as secretary of state. And on Monday, it was announced that an additional 14,900 documents from Clinton’s private email server would be released by the State Department before the November election.

    • Donald Trump Isn’t Really Reaching Out To African-Americans

      Contrary to recent headlines, Donald Trump isn’t reaching out to African-Americans. He isn’t even talking to us. He’s talking past us, and saying exactly what his alt-right base wants to hear him saying to black folks.

      Donald Trump is telling African-Americans that our biggest problems are simply the result of listening to the wrong white people.

    • 4 experts make the case that the Clinton Foundation’s fundraising was troubling

      During the four years Hillary Clinton was secretary of state, the Clinton Foundation run by her husband took tens of millions of dollars from foreign governments and corporations.

      Many of these donors had a lot riding on Clinton’s decisions. Saudi Arabia gave the foundation up to $25 million, and Clinton signed off on a controversial $29 billion sale of fighter jets to the country. Oil companies gave the foundation around $3 million, and Clinton approved a lucrative gas pipeline in the Canadian tar sands they’d long sought.

      We’ve known the basics of this story for months now. But another media feeding frenzy over the foundation kicked off again on Monday, when the State Department was forced to release emails showing that the foundation’s leadership tried to land its top donors meetings with the secretary of state.

    • Hillary Clinton’s Fundraisers: No Press Allowed

      Campaign donors will see and hear a lot from Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton in the next month as she embarks on a fundraising tour, but voters will have little clue as to what she says behind closed doors.

    • FBI docs linked to Hillary Clinton role in Vince Foster’s suicide missing – report

      The FBI’s reports linked to Hillary Clinton’s role in the death of Vince Foster, a White House counsel and her friend, have allegedly gone missing. A journalistic investigation says it could be Clinton’s humiliation that pushed Foster to suicide.

      According to Daily Mail, documents containing interviews of Clinton conducted after Foster’s death in July 1993 have vanished from the National Archives.

      The report claims that author and journalist Ronald Kessler visited the National Archives and Records Service in College Park, Maryland multiple times to review the reports submitted by FBI agents investigating Foster’s suicide.

    • Huma Abedin’s ties to the Muslim Brotherhood

      The Clinton campaign is attempting once again to sweep important questions under the rug about top aide Huma Abedin, her family ties to the Muslim Brotherhood and to Saudi Arabia, and her role in the ballooning Clinton email scandal.

      The New York Post ran a detailed investigative piece over the weekend about Ms. Abedin’s work at the Journal of Muslim Minority Affairs from 1995 through 2008, a Sharia law journal whose editor in chief was Abedin’s own mother.

      This is not some accidental association. Ms. Abedin was, for many years, listed as an associate editor of the London-based publication and wrote for the journal while working as an intern in the Clinton White House in the mid-1990s.

      Her mother, Saleha Abedin, sits on the Presidency Staff Council of the International Islamic Council for Da’wa and Relief, a group that is chaired by the leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi.

      Perhaps recognizing how offensive such ties will be to voters concerned over future terrorist attacks on this country by radical Muslims professing allegiance to Sharia law, the Clinton campaign on Monday tried to downplay Ms. Abedin’s involvement in the Journal and the Muslim Brotherhood.

    • Why Did the Saudi Regime and Other Gulf Tyrannies Donate Millions to the Clinton Foundation?

      As the numerous and obvious ethical conflicts surrounding the Clinton Foundation receive more media scrutiny, the tactic of Clinton-loyal journalists is to highlight the charitable work done by the Foundation, and then insinuate – or even outright state – that anyone raising these questions is opposed to its charity. James Carville announced that those who criticize the Foundation are “going to hell.” Others Clinton loyalists insinuated that Clinton Foundation critics are indifferent to the lives of HIV-positive babies or are anti-gay bigots.

      That the Clinton Foundation has done some good work is beyond dispute. But that fact has exactly nothing to do with the profound ethical problems and corruption threats raised by the way its funds have been raised. Hillary Clinton was America’s chief diplomat, and tyrannical regimes such as the Saudis and Qataris jointly donated tens of millions of dollars to an organization run by her family and operated in their name, one whose works has been a prominent feature of her public persona. That extremely valuable opportunity to curry favor with the Clintons, and to secure access to them, continues as she runs for President.

    • Clinton Foundation Investigation Update: Key Details About Financial And Political Dealings

      The release of documents shedding more light on connections between the Clinton Foundation and the Clinton-led State Department has touched off a new political firestorm only weeks before voters begin heading to the polls in the 2016 election.

      Republican nominee Donald Trump — himself a foundation donor — has called for a special prosecutor to investigate the foundation, and Trump’s running mate, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, has said the new disclosures are “evidence of the pay-to-play politics.” By contrast, the Clinton campaign has argued that there is no proof of any quid pro quo — a message echoed by her supporters in the pundit world.

      As the rhetoric about the Clintons’ public and private financial dealings intensifies, here is a brief review of the major investigative reporting that has been done about the Clinton Foundation.

    • Army Training Lesson Cited Clinton as ‘Insider’ Threat Risk

      An Army training presentation on insider threats included Hillary Clinton among a rogue’s gallery of killers and leakers, citing the former secretary of state as an example of “careless or disgruntled employees,” NBC News confirmed on Tuesday.

      The unclassified slide, which first emerged on a Facebook page that spoofs the military, was confirmed by a U.S. military officials, who said it was used as part of a lesson on how to secure classified materials and improve safety.

      A spokesperson from the Army’s Training and Doctrine Command said the slide was developed 18 months ago.

      “As is common with Army training requirements, the local unit was given latitude to develop their own training products to accomplish the overall training objective,” the spokesperson said in a statement.

  • Censorship/Free Speech
    • Europeans In Exodus To Russian Facebook to Avoid Censorship

      Germans who are critical of Islam and mass migration are fleeing to the site VK, known as the Russian Facebook to avoid censorship of their remarks and possible raids on their homes.

    • Council censorship eliminates free speech and thought

      There are a lot of TV and print and talk shows about terrorism here and terrorism there. It is a serious matter, terrorism is. What makes it worrisome is that it is not well defined, and it seems some government officials want it that way.

      Some of you may not recognize total censorship or censorship as terrorism. The Peoples got punished over the last few years for having an opinion about corruption in Colville tribal government from the top down. Letters to the editor were removed from our tribal newsprint in total.

      The “Clowncil” and its staff are lying about the censorship imposed since 2013. And now the Clowncil, through its staff, are lying about the censorship again, as they lifted “total censorship” and replaced it with “censorship.”

      Please re-read the December 2014 Tribal Tribune (TT) edition, page A6 “Letter To The Editor Policy.” “Policy” restricts tribal members’ freedom to have a letter also printed in outside newspapers while getting printed in the TT (paragraph 1) with a threat of total censorship; narrows the scope of topics a tribal members may write about (paragraph 3); requires a “respectful/professional tone” but does not define it, leaving censorship in whole (paragraph 4); Editor determines his or her own “facts” (paragraph 5); Editor determines what “hatred, contempt, suspicion or wrongdoing, scorn or ridicule” means and will censor according to the editor’s “belief” (paragraph 6). These standards are outside the bounds of journalistic “libel laws;” therefore, they narrow the scope of free speech and free thought, and, in actuality, eliminate both.

    • You don’t need to look abroad to find rampant censorship – it’s right here in Britain

      Since 9/11, Britons are increasingly watched, shadowed and snooped. This week the wall featuring the mural was smashed. I suspected silent censorship. Turns out it was a dopey builder. So, as it turns out, I was being somewhat paranoid and hasty. But is that worse than being sluggishly trusting and complacent? I was raised in Uganda where the state censored the media, books, art, and song lyrics. Citizens there were more alert to the danger than we are in the UK.

    • Censorship or smart thinking? UWM ‘Inclusive Excellence” group pushing to silence certain words

      But Williford said a list of words some deem offensive has him questioning a relatively new campus guideline.

      [...]

      Hill said “Just Words” is merely a suggestion — not censorship.

      “We are not doing that at all. As a matter of fact, we`re trying to improve and have open dialogue,” Hill said.

      Also on the list: ‘ghetto,’ ‘Nazi’ and even ‘politically correct.’

    • Cloudflare Fights RIAA’s Piracy Blocking Demands in Court

      Cloudflare has made it clear that the company isn’t going to block piracy sites without a proper court order. In addition, it now opposes an injunction requested by the RIAA, under which it would have to disconnect alleged MP3Skull accounts based on a keyword and IP-address.

    • CloudFlare Protects Internet Users By Insisting On Lawful Orders Before Blocking Customers

      This month, the online service provider CloudFlare stood up for its website-owner customers, and for all users of those websites, by telling a court that CloudFlare shouldn’t be forced to block sites without proper legal procedure. Copyright law limits the kinds of orders that a court can impose on Internet intermediaries, and requires courts to consider the pros and cons thoroughly. In this case, as in other recent cases, copyright (and trademark) holders are trying to use extremely broad interpretations of some basic court rules to bypass these important protections. As special interests keep trying to make things disappear from the Internet quickly, cheaply, and without true court supervision, it’s more important than ever that Internet companies like CloudFlare are taking a stand.

      The current dispute between CloudFlare and a group of record labels arose from the labels’ case against the music streaming site MP3Skull. The website’s owners never appeared in court to defend themselves against a lawsuit by the labels. The labels, who are all members of the Recording Industry Association of America, won a court judgment by default in March of this year. The judgment included a permanent injunction against the site and those in “active concert and participation” with it. On the last day of June, the labels’ lawyers sent the order to CloudFlare and demanded that they immediately stop providing services to various Internet addresses and domain names connected with MP3Skull.

    • Goodbye to the Loudest Drunk in NPR’s Online Bar

      Good riddance to NPR’s comment section, which is shutting down Tuesday after eight years. There has to be a better way for news organizations to engage with the public.

      NPR is joining a growing list of media organizations that have said “finito” to comments including, ‘This American Life,’ Reuters, Recode, Mic, The Chicago Sun-Times, Popular Science, CNN, The Toronto Star and The Week.

      When comments sections were initiated on news sites, they were hailed as a means to democratize the media, allowing a two-way conversation between readers and the journalists who serve them.

    • Singapore to cut off public servants from the internet

      Singapore is planning to cut off web access for public servants as a defence against potential cyber attack – a move closely watched by critics who say it marks a retreat for a technologically advanced city-state that has trademarked the term “smart nation”.

      Some security experts say the policy, due to be in place by May, risks damaging productivity among civil servants and those working at more than four dozen statutory boards, and cutting them off from the people they serve. It may only raise slightly the defensive walls against cyber attack, they say.

      Ben Desjardins, director of security solutions at network security firm Radware, called it “one of the more extreme measures I can recall by a large public organisation to combat cyber security risks”. Stephen Dane, a Hong Kong-based managing director at networking company Cisco Systems, said it was “a most unusual situation” and Ramki Thurimella, chair of the computer science department at the University of Denver, called it both “unprecedented” and “a little excessive”.

    • The gatekeepers are dead. Long live the World Wide Web!

      Until recently the tools for mass communication were expensive and in the hands of a small number of gatekeepers. Then, the price rapidly fell towards zero. With the Internet and the World Wide Web (that just turned 25 years old) anyone can communicate with the world by words, pictures, sound, and video – 24/365 – on a shoestring budget.

      Still, people need to know about you. So fame, reputation, and status are factors to take into consideration. But content, quality (in some sense) and virality is the new gold standard.

      This has upset the people who used to be in power, like bigwig politicians. They used to have their press releases copy-pasted into the media news flow without too much hassle. Today they still are visible in the slowly dying mainstream media. But on the Internet, they have to compete for attention with everybody and everything else.

      Also, media proprietors, the copyright industry and the big brick and mortar chains are upset – just to mention a few.

      It could have been very different.

      Tim Berners-Lee – who invented the Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP) together with his friends at W3C at Cern – decided not to patent this method of connecting the dots in the Matrix, but to give it to the world.

    • No Press Intimidation by Trump – hence: BREAKING REPORT: Melania Trump Was A Sex Worker After Moving To United States – repeating story the Trump Attorneys are now making bigger story than it was

      There is a story in a major British newspaper The Daily Mail, which reports that there are now stories that Melania Trump, who was a nude model in her past – that is not under question, had also been an Escort model ie a hooker ie a prostitute and has been working as a hooker, ie Escort in New York before she married Donald Trump. I do take it upon myself to ridicule and laugh at Donald Trump’s absurd political run this year. I did laugh at Melania when she was caught plagiarizing Michelle Obama’s speech at the Republican Convention in July and as it since emerged, she has lied about having a college degree from Ljubljana University in Slovenia, which she does not (they have removed references to the fake degree from her website since this news broke out). But this blog is not at war with Trump’s third wife, bought by Trump sixteen years ago, to rear some kids for Trump that Trump himself won’t bother to get to know until they’ve grown up to be adults. Wives, that Trump buys from East Europe and replaces roughly every 16 years. I was mainly focused on mocking Trump himself.

      [...]

      The Trump attorneys attacked Liberal America and Andrew Bradford insisting he must apologize or be sued .Andrew is not rich enough to defend himself against a Billionaire’s attorney attack-dogs so he relented and wrote an apology. Its quite an epic apology which does its best to keep all of the accusations still in view, and he also published in full the attorney’s letter. A letter which uses such phrases as “Melania Trump was a sex worker after moving to the United States” haha. So it is that letter in verbatim, which is now on the blogsite and further hopefully adding to smear Melania Trump’s name. But still, I feel very strongly about freedom of speech and feel a strong personal sense of support to Mr Bradfort that I have never met. I have never even heard of their publication, the Liberal America. But I now of course add my blog to the support of that issue. I link from this blog to Liberal America and I urge my readers to go read Andrew’s very smart article where he deals with the attorneys’ demand for apology.

    • How Facebook censors your posts
    • Activists Call for Facebook to Adopt ‘Anti-Censorship’ Policy
    • Unlike This: Social Media Companies Bow to Government Censorship Requests
    • Open letter to Facebook asks for ‘anti-censorship’ policy after Korryn Gaines death
    • Teen Vlogger Amos Yee Pleads Guilty To Two Charges, May Face Jail Time
    • Amos Yee pleads guilty to three out of six remaining charges
    • ‘That’s a Couple of Weeks in Jail’ – Singaporean Blogger Tweets During Trial
    • Amos Yee does U-turn and pleads guilty to two of his eight charges
    • Blogger Amos Yee, in another U-turn, pleads guilty to three more charges
    • Amos Yee pleads guilty to two charges
  • Privacy/Surveillance
    • US parents largely unaware of what their children do online, research finds

      The parents of America’s digitally literate teenagers are largely in the dark about their children’s internet activity, new research has shown.

      The new study on teen internet use by the National Cyber Security Alliance found that only 13% of teens thought their parents understood the extent of their internet use.

      The survey of 804 online teens and 810 parents of teens found that 60% of teens have created accounts for apps or social media sites without their parents’ knowledge. Only 28% of parents thought their teens had accounts they didn’t know about.

      The gap between what teens are doing and what their parents know about is indicative of what the NCSA is calling a “digital disconnect between American teens and parents”.

    • Using PGP Phones Doesn’t Make You a Criminal, Ontario Judge Says

      Messaging your gun-toting, drug-trafficking friends by way of encrypted message isn’t proof that you’re a gun-toting drug-trafficker, an Ontario court has ruled.

      That useful bit of information comes after police booked a Hamilton man following a search of his room that turned up a 9mm Smith & Wesson unloaded handgun, a sock full of bullets, and a few grams of cocaine. They slapped five criminal charges on him, and hauled him before a judge.

      The Hamilton man was caught up in the investigation as police looked into a suspected drug trafficking ring. He just happened to be living at an address that was connected to the investigation.

      But his defense lawyers were quick to pick apart the search warrant that allowed the cops to bust down his door, and pry open his safe.

    • Germany, France demand golden key AND strong encryption just when you thought politicians had clued in to basic reality

      In a new level of dumb, Germany and France are demanding strong encryption for all citizens at the same time as they demand this strong encryption to be breakable. They also demand messaging providers of end-to-end encryption to provide police with keys they don’t have, and for terrorists to stop using freely available strong encryption without a messaging provider. You really couldn’t sound dumber if you tried.

    • Kuwait’s new DNA collection law is scarier than we ever imagined

      Horrible laws often follow major terrorist attacks. After 9/11, the U.S. Congress passed the Patriot Act. After the Charlie Hebdo shooting in Paris last year, European powers contemplated sweeping, strikingly bold internet surveillance laws. Following a July attack in Nice, French officials have passed laughably absurd laws against Muslim women wearing burkinis at public beaches.

      But after an ISIS-linked man ignited a bomb in a Shiite mosque in Kuwait last year, killing 27, the mother of all troubling laws was rushed through the country’s Parliament. The law requires that all citizens, residents and visitors to the country submit DNA samples to enter or stay in the country. It was passed in the name of national security and in helping identify victims of large scale attacks.

    • Liberal, Moderate or Conservative? See How Facebook Labels You

      You may think you are discreet about your political views. But Facebook, the world’s largest social media network, has come up with its own determination of your political leanings, based on your activity on the site.

      And now, it is easy to find out how Facebook has categorized you — as very liberal or very conservative, or somewhere in between.

      Try this (it works best on your desktop computer):

      Go to facebook.com/ads/preferences on your browser. (You may have to log in to Facebook first.)

      That will bring you to a page with your ad preferences. Under the “Interests” header, click the “Lifestyle and Culture” tab.

      Then look for a box titled “US Politics.” In parentheses, it will describe how Facebook has categorized you, such as liberal, moderate or conservative.

      (If the “US Politics” box does not show up, click the “See more” button under the grid of boxes.)

    • Report Shows Post-9/11 NYPD Spying on Muslims to Be ‘Highly Irregular’ [Ed: Not spying sufficiently on Wall Street hedge funds/banks because “Expensive lawyers”, “Job creators”, and “Free market”]

      In the wake of 9/11, New York City police repeatedly violated safeguards meant to protect lawful political and religious activities from unwarranted surveillance, according to the department’s own inspector general.

      A report (pdf) from the New York Police Department (NYPD)’s Office of the Inspector General (OIG), released Tuesday, found the department to be “often non-compliant with a number of the rules” by failing to secure proper authorization or extensions for investigations of political activity, particularly those involving Muslims.

      The probe examined a sample of all closed cases between 2010 and 2015, some of which were opened as far back as 2004. More than 95 percent of the cases, according to the document, involved Muslims or political activity associated with Islam.

    • FMA joins National Privacy Commission in holding public consultations on privacy rules

      Following a successful, albeit brief consultation during a Philippine Computer Society meeting on June 28, the NPC partnered with a variety of groups from civil society, the research community, and the government to hold back-to-back consultations on July 13 and 14 at the University of the Philippines Diliman and Ateneo de Davao University, respectively. FMA participated in both consultations as a co-organizer. FMA organized another public consultation in Cebu City on July 28, whereas UP Manila hosted the last round on August 16.

    • Takedowns of Shadow Brokers Files Affirm Files as Stolen

      Now, don’t get me wrong. These are dangerous files, and I can understand why social media companies would want to close the barn door on the raging wild horses that once were in their stable.

      But underlying it all appears to be a notion of property that I’m a bit troubled by. Even if Shadow Brokers stole these files from NSA servers — something not at all in evidence — they effectively stole NSA’s own tools to break the law. But if these sites are treating the exploits themselves as stolen property, than so would be all the journalism writing about it.

      Finally, there’s the question of how these all came down so quickly. Almost as if someone called and reported their property stolen.

    • US Intelligence Still Sorting Out NSA Hack

      The US is still probing the extent of a recent cyber leak of what purports to be hacking tools used by the National Security Agency, the nation’s top intelligence official said Wednesday.

      “We are still sorting this out,” James Clapper, director of national intelligence, said at an event at the Nixon Presidential Library and Museum in Yorba Linda, California.

      “It’s still under investigation,” Clapper said. “We don’t know exactly the full extent – or the understanding – of exactly what happened.”

      The tool kit consists of malicious software intended to tamper with firewalls, the electronic defenses protecting computer networks. The leak has set the information security world atwitter – and sent major companies rushing to update their defenses.

    • Word Games: What the NSA Means by “Targeted” Surveillance Under Section 702

      We all know that the NSA uses word games to hide and downplay its activities. Words like “collect,” “conversations,” “communications,” and even “surveillance” have suffered tortured definitions that create confusion rather than clarity.

      There’s another one to watch: “targeted” v. “mass” surveillance.

    • A hacker claims he has more leaked NSA files to view — If you can solve this puzzle

      A hacker named 1×0123 claims he has the other half of the recently-leaked NSA hacking toolkit for sale — but samples of the dataset are only available if you can figure out his cryptographic puzzle.

      On Sunday, the hacker posted on Twitter that he was selling the entire archive of files for $8,000, seemingly undercutting the mysterious “Shadow Brokers” hacking group that leaked one-half of the archive last week at various file-sharing websites with claims of an “auction” for the rest.

      It appears that 1×0123 is indeed a hacker who has found and sold security vulnerabilities in the past. Even ex-NSA contractor Edward Snowden praised him in April for finding an issue on the Freedom of the Press website.

    • NSA’s leaked exploits affect Cisco, Juniper… and US foreign policy?

      An unprecedented data dump, of security exploits believed to originate form within the US National Security Agency (NSA) has left some firms scrambling to fix security holes dating back years, and revealed the extent to which the NSA stockpiles cyber-weapons..

      The dump includes attacks on network products from several vendors, including Cisco and Juniper. These so-called ’zero day exploits’ take advantage of software vulnerabilities which have been found, and kept secret from the vendor. Until the vendor knows and fixes these weaknesses, they can be attacked, and the exploits can be used with ’cyber weapons’. The dump appears to show the US agency is stockpiling these exploits, but that another power gained access to its stash of weapons – revelations which could have serious ramifications for the US cyber security and cyber warfare team, as well as for foreign relations.

    • Juniper confirms leaked “NSA exploits” affect its firewalls, no patch released yet

      Juniper confirmed exploits leaked by the Shadow Brokers group appear to affect its firewalls, but has not yet patched the vulnerabilities.

      The firewall manufacturer is “investigating the recent release of files reported to have been taken from the so-called Equation Group,” Juniper’s security incident response manager Derrick Scholl wrote in a corporate blog post.

      Juniper identified an exploit affecting its NetScreen firewall devices that run on the ScreenOS operating system. Initial analysis of the exploit “indicates it targets the boot loader and does not exploit a vulnerability on ScreenOS devices,” Scholl wrote in the post.

      On Tuesday, Ixia’s application and threat intelligence unit discovered an exploit that targets Watchguard Firewalls, according to Steve McGregory, senior director of the ATI group said in emailed comments to SCMagazine.com. Four of the exploits affect TopSec firewalls, primarily used in China, he added.

    • Second Snowden could be behind sale of NSA hacking tools

      WE ARE getting closer to unmasking the Shadow Brokers. Last week, the group put hacking tools from the National Security Agency up for auction, including security flaws in companies’ systems and remote access tools. There have been no serious bidders, but the documents have been confirmed as the real deal, raising the spectre of another whistleblower at the agency.

      Initially, the prime suspect was Russia, but this theory has now been downgraded. Certain naming conventions in the files point to scripts only accessible on a machine physically isolated from the network and therefore inaccessible to anyone not physically present in the NSA building. The idea that it was an accidental upload has also been debunked, shifting the focus internally.

      However, it couldn’t have been Edward Snowden, pictured, as it looks like the tools were stolen around October 2013, five months after he fled to Hong Kong.

    • Everyone’s Already Using the Leaked NSA Exploits

      Last week, an anonymous group calling itself the Shadow Brokers leaked a bunch of National Security Agency hacking tools. Whoever they are, the Shadow Brokers say they still have more data to dump. But the preview has already unleashed some notable vulnerabilities, complete with tips for how to use them.

      All of which means anyone—curious kids, petty criminals, trolls—can now start hacking like a spy. And it looks like they are.

      Curious to learn if anyone was indeed trying to take advantage of the leak, Brendan Dolan-Gavitt—a security researcher at NYU—set up a honeypot. On August 18 he tossed out a digital lure that masqueraded as a system containing one of the vulnerabilities. For his experiment, Dolan-Gavitt used a Cisco security software bug from the leak that people have learned to fix with workarounds, but that doesn’t have a patch yet.

      Within 24 hours Dolan-Gavitt saw someone trying to exploit the vulnerability, with a few attempts every day since. “I’m not surprised that someone tried to exploit it,” Dolan-Gavitt says. Even for someone with limited technical proficiency, vulnerable systems are relatively easy to find using services like Shodan, a search engine of Internet-connected systems. “People maybe read the blog post about how to use the particular tool that carries out the exploit, and then either scanned the Internet themselves or just looked for vulnerable systems on Shodan and started trying to exploit them that way,” Dolan-Gavitt says. He explains that his honeypot was intentionally very visible online and was set up with easily guessable default passwords so it would be easy to hack.

    • France, Germany Want Encrypted App Makers To Help Stop IS

      France and Germany pushed Tuesday for Europe-wide rules requiring the makers of encrypted messaging apps such as Telegram to help governments monitor communications among suspected extremists.

      Privacy advocates argue that encryption is essential to online security, notably for banking transactions. But security experts say encrypted apps are increasingly used by extremists to hide their location, coordinate operations and trade weapons and sex slaves.

      Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said French authorities have detained three people this month with “clear attack plans,” but police need better tools to eavesdrop on encrypted text conversations utilizing the kinds of powers used to wiretap phones.

    • New leaks prove it: the NSA is putting us all at risk to be hacked

      The National Security Agency is lying to us. We know that because of data stolen from an NSA server was dumped on the internet. The agency is hoarding information about security vulnerabilities in the products you use, because it wants to use it to hack others’ computers. Those vulnerabilities aren’t being reported, and aren’t getting fixed, making your computers and networks unsafe.

      On August 13, a group calling itself the Shadow Brokers released 300 megabytes of NSA cyberweapon code on the internet. Near as we experts can tell, the NSA network itself wasn’t hacked; what probably happened was that a “staging server” for NSA cyberweapons — that is, a server the NSA was making use of to mask its surveillance activities — was hacked in 2013.

    • Nick Asks the NSA: Shadow Brokers and the Leaking Ship

      For the second installation of Nick Asks the NSA, I offer Congress my services as to what questions in their oversight capacity they should be asking NSA about the Shadow Broker leak.

      It now safe to say that the “Equation Group” leak by Shadow Brokers is real and consists of a genuine trove of NSA tools used to hack firewalls. The leaked code references known programs, uses a particularly unusual RC6 and cruddy crypto techniques previously associated with NSA implants, and the Washington Post has confirmed the authenticity of the materials with two anonymous ex-NSA employees.

    • NSA Targeted Chinese Firewall Maker Huawei, Leaked Documents Suggest

      When the mysterious Shadow Brokers dumped a cache of hacking tools used by an NSA-linked group last week, researchers quickly identified a number of the spy agencies’ targets, including American security companies like Cisco, Juniper, and Fortinet.

      But until now, no one noticed that the leaked files suggest the NSA has also been targeting—and was likely able to hack—firewalls made by Huawei, a Chinese manufacturer of network infrastructure often seen as a threat to American companies given the suspicion that the Chinese government might have a backdoor and could spy in its products. The revelation is contained in an instruction file part of the leak.

      Within one of the leaked files (TURBO_install-new.txt) there are references to VRP 3.30, a version of Huawei’s proprietary operating system. While 3.30 is an older version, it still appears to be popular, according to a search on Shodan, which returns more than 1,600 devices running that version, mostly in China.

    • After NSA leaks, a renewed interest in vulnerability disclosure

      The code leaked by the Shadow Brokers group last week has set off calls from security researchers and tech groups for a national conversation about vulnerability disclosure policy.

      The code contains about a dozen vulnerabilities affecting firewall manufacturers that many industry professionals believe to be exploits used by the National Security Agency (NSA).

      While the Obama administration’s Vulnerability Equities Process (VEP) calls on intelligence agencies to disclose security vulnerabilities by default, tech companies and security pros are concerned by the prospect of an unknown number of zero-day vulnerabilities possessed by intelligence agencies.

      The Shadow Brokers leak highlights the need for transparency in the government’s disclosure process, according to Mozilla senior policy manager Heather West. “If the government chooses to engage in lawful hacking, it must also support responsible disclosure,” she wrote in an email to SCMagazine.com.

    • FISA Court: Government Can Collect Content Along With Dialing Data Using Pen Register Orders

      The Director of National Intelligence’s office has cleared another FISA court opinion [PDF] for release. These are getting far more interesting to read, even if little seems to be changing about the FBI/NSA’s collection methods. The process is now a little bit more adversarial, thanks to the USA Freedom Act, which introduced the possibility of someone arguing on behalf of the surveilled and in the interest of privacy and the Fourth Amendment.

      Unfortunately, this opinion finds the FISA court mostly unimpressed with the counterarguments. The discussion involved the use of pen register orders to capture “post-cut through” dialing digits — the sort of thing the court determined to be content, rather than metadata in the past.

      This time around, the court seems more amenable to the government’s arguments that any digits obtained along with dialed phone numbers is fair game — whether or not the orders actually allow for the collection of communications content.

    • Warrant for former DA Paul Zellerbach in wiretap case

      A judge issued an arrest warrant Tuesday for former Riverside County District Attorney Paul Zellerbach after he failed to appear at a court hearing to answer questions about an eavesdropping operation so vast it once accounted for nearly a fifth of all U.S. wiretaps.

      The warrant, however, will not be sent to law enforcement for Zellerbach to be arrested unless he does not show up for another hearing on wiretaps, now scheduled for Sept. 30.

      “He should have been there,” said Jan Ronis, the attorney who subpoenaed Zellerbach. “But he just blew us off. We could have had court today.”

    • Arrest Warrant Issued For District Attorney Involved In DEA’s California Wiretap Warrant Mill

      It’s not uncommon for Zellerbach to go missing when people need him. When Zellerbach ran the DA’s office, he was rarely there. The DEA found his office to be just as accommodating, with or without him, though. Although the DEA was supposed to run its wiretap warrant requests through federal judges and have them signed by the district attorney himself, it often found it easier to obtain a signature from whoever happened to be at the office and run them by Riverside County judge Helios Hernandez, who approved five times as many wiretap applications as any other judge in the US.

      The wiretap applications’ reach frequently exceeded their jurisdictional grasp, traveling far outside of Riverside County, California, to be deployed against suspects as far away as North Carolina. But that was only one issue with the warrants applications approved by Zellerbach’s office.

      The DOJ’s lawyers didn’t like the DEA’s skirting of federal rules for wiretap applications.

    • Baltimore Police Are Secretly Spying on Residents from the Air: Bloomberg

      Since January, the Baltimore Police Department (BPD) has been using small aircrafts to spy on residents for as much as 10 hours a day, without informing the public, in a project financed by a private donor and facilitated by a private company, Bloomberg reported on Tuesday.

      The BPD, Bloomberg’s Monte Reel wrote, has been using aerial surveillance to investigate “all sorts of crimes, from property thefts to shootings.” The cameras capture an area of roughly 30 square miles and transmit images to analysts on the ground, while footage gets automatically saved to hard drives for later review.

      The technology comes from a company called Persistent Surveillance Systems. Its president, Ross McNutt, developed a similar tool for the Pentagon while working for the U.S. Air Force in 2006. Over time, he modified the technology for commercial use. McNutt eventually pitched the service to the BPD after his company had faltered in finding a department for a long-term contract. He opened his office in Baltimore in January, above a parking garage, denoted only by a piece of paper taped to his door that reads, “Community Support Program.”

    • Baltimore PD Can Keep Tabs On The Entire City, Thanks To Privately-Donated Aerial Surveillance System

      When all you have is repurposed war gear, everything looks like a war zone.

      It’s not just the Pentagon handing out mine-resistant vehicles and military rifles to any law enforcement agency that can spell “terrorism” correctly on a requisition form. It’s also the FBI acting as a gatekeeper (and muzzle) for cell phone-tracking hardware originally developed for use in Iraq and Afghanistan.

      The latest addition to the pantheon of “war gear, but for local law enforcement” is aerial surveillance. While this sort of surveillance is nothing new — police have had helicopters for years — the tech deployed to capture recordings is.

      Bloomberg has a long, in-depth article on aerial surveillance tech deployed by the Baltimore Police Department — all without ever informing constituents. Baltimore isn’t the first city to deploy this repurposed military tech. The Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department gave the same gear a test run back in 2014. The LASD also did little to inform the public about its purchase, claiming that people might get paranoid and/or angry if they knew.

      Baltimore’s acquisition of Persistent Surveillance Systems’ 192-million megapixel eye in the sky also occurred under the cover of governmental darkness. The tech was given to the police and paid for by a private donor — which kept the public out of the loop and any FOIA-able paper trail to a minimum.

  • Civil Rights/Policing
    • Deaf driver’s shooting death by trooper under investigation

      The North Carolina Highway Patrol is urging people not to jump to conclusions as state agents investigate how a deaf driver with a history of minor offenses ended up dead after leading a trooper on a 10-mile chase.

      The family of Daniel Kevin Harris said he was unarmed and suggested the sequence of events last week was a tragic misunderstanding — the type the state’s training manual warns troopers to avoid when dealing with the hearing impaired.

      The investigation into the shooting is ongoing, Secretary Frank Perry of the state Department of Public Safety said in a news release.

      “Let us all refrain from making assumptions or drawing conclusions prior to the internal and independent reviews” by the patrol, the State Bureau of Investigation and the district attorney, said Perry, whose agency oversees the Highway Patrol.

    • Some thoughts that I don’t want to have, regarding people getting shot

      A number of (hearing) friends from a bunch of my (different) social circles recently sent me — almost simultaneously — links to news stories about Deaf people getting killed by cops who couldn’t communicate with them.

      This is nothing new. It’s been happening for ages. Someone with a gun gets scared and pulls the trigger, and someone else is dead. Maybe that person is Deaf. Maybe that person is Black. In any case, that person is now dead, and that’s not okay. (Maybe that person is both Deaf and Black, and we mention the second part but not the first. That’s disability erasure that, statistically, correlates highly with race; that’s also not okay.)

      I’ve been deaf as long as I can remember, and I’ve known these stories happened for a long, long time. But this is the first time I’ve watched them from inside the conversations of a Deaf community — for some definition of “inside” that includes confused mainstreamed-oral youngsters like me who are struggling to learn ASL and figure out where they fit.

    • Self-driving cars don’t care about your moral dilemmas

      As self-driving cars move from fiction to reality, a philosophical problem has become the focus of fierce debate among technologists across the world. But to the people actually making self driving cars, it’s kind of boring.

      The “trolley problem” is the name for a philosophical thought experiment created as an introduction to the moral distinction between action and inaction. The classic example is a runaway mine cart, hurtling down tracks towards a group of five oblivious people. With no time to warn them, your only option is to pull a switch and divert the cart on to a different track, which only has one person standing on it. You will save five lives, but at the cost of actively killing one person. What do you do?

      All kinds of tweaks and changes can be made to the basic problem, to examine different aspects of moral feeling. What if, rather than pulling a switch, you stop the mine cart by pushing one particularly large person in its way? What if the five people are all over the age of 80 and the one person is under 20? What if the five people are in fact five hundred kittens?

    • Engineers Say If Automated Cars Experience ‘The Trolley Problem,’ They’ve Already Screwed Up

      As self-driving cars inch closer to the mainstream, a common debate has surfaced: should your car be programmed to kill you if it means saving the lives of dozens of other people? This so-called “trolley problem” has been debated at universities for years, and while most consumers say they support automated vehicles that prioritize the lives of others on principle, they don’t want to buy or ride in one, raising a number of thorny questions.

      Should regulations and regulators focus on a utilitarian model where the vehicle is programmed to prioritize the good of the overall public above the individual? Or should self-driving cars be programmed to prioritize the welfare of the owner (the “self protective” model)? Would companies like Google, Volvo and others prioritize worries of liability over human lives when choosing the former or latter?

      [...]

      It’s still a question that needs asking, but with no obvious solution on the horizon, engineers appear to be focused on notably more mundane problems. For example one study suggests that while self-driving cars do get into twice the number of accidents of manually controlled vehicles, those accidents usually occur because the automated car was too careful — and didn’t bend the rules a little like a normal driver would (rear ended for being too cautious at a right on red, for example). As such, the current problem du jour isn’t some fantastical scenario involving an on-board AI killing you to save a busload of crying toddlers, but how to get self-driving cars to drive more like the inconsistent, sometimes downright goofy, and error-prone human beings they hope to someday replace.

    • Indonesia’s 51-Year-Old Ban on Communism to Stay in Place

      Indonesia’s current criminal code can send individuals to prison for “communist activities” for up to seven years.

      Indonesia maintained its ban on communism in its revision of the country’s criminal code system—controversial laws that have been in place for more than five decades.

    • School Board Elections in Ferguson Are Rigged Against Black Voters

      Nearly two years ago, the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division began an investigation into the Ferguson Police Department for racial bias in the aftermath of the police shooting death of Michael Brown, an unarmed Black teenager. What federal investigators found wasn’t pretty: a police department that consistently engaged in unconstitutional policing and that thought of the overwhelmingly Black community it was supposed to protect and serve as revenue sources for the city’s government. After the Justice Department’s report was released, it was only fair to ask how many other local institutions in the Ferguson area were afflicted with bias.

      Yesterday, the answer came when a federal court held that the Ferguson-Florissant School District’s system for electing its school board members violates the Voting Rights Act. The court recognized what many Ferguson-area residents know all too well: Once official discrimination — in education, housing, and public infrastructure — was outlawed in the Ferguson area, it shifted in form to other means of achieving the same ignoble goals.

    • French Police Create Propaganda for ISIS by Ticketing Muslim Women on Beaches

      Photographs and video of French police officers issuing tickets to Muslim women — for violating new local ordinances that ban modest beachwear as an offense against “good morals and secularism” in more than a dozen towns along the Riviera — spread widely on social networks on Wednesday, prompting waves of outrage and mockery by opponents of the laws.

    • My Brother Was Brutally Murdered, But the Delaware Supreme Court’s Decision to Ban the Death Penalty Was the Right One

      As the sister of a murder victim who opposes the death penalty, the Delaware Supreme Court’s decision in early August declaring the state’s death penalty statute unconstitutional gives me hope. The court’s decision affirms what death penalty opponents have known all along: Delaware’s death penalty doesn’t achieve justice for many reasons.

      The death penalty not only violates the rule of law, but it is costly, biased, prone to error, and ineffective at reducing violent crime and healing communities. Delaware’s statute, however, was particularly flawed. It had allowed a jury to recommend death without getting the approval of all 12 jurors, and it had allowed the judge in a capital case to override the jury’s sentencing recommendation to not put the convicted to death. Because the Delaware scheme diluted the historic role of a unanimous jury in criminal proceedings — to the point of denying capital defendants their constitutional right to a jury trial — the court struck it down.

    • “Deadly Heat” in U.S. Prisons Is Killing Inmates and Spawning Lawsuits

      In the summer months, 84 inmates at the Price Daniel Unit, a medium-security prison four hours west of Dallas, share a 10-gallon cooler of water that’s kept locked in a common area. An inmate there can expect to receive one 8 oz. cup every four hours, according to Benny Hernandez, a man serving a 10-year sentence at the prison. The National Academy of Medicine recommends that adults drink about twice that amount under normal conditions and even more in hot climates. According to Hernandez, in the summer the temperature in his prison’s housing areas can reach an astonishing 140 degrees.

      The prison provides ice for the cooler twice a day, but the ice has long melted before the hottest part of the day, he wrote in a post on Prison Writers, a website where inmates share their experiences behind bars. “Prisoners look upon the summer months in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) with dread and trepidation,” he wrote. “For one is acutely aware that one may not survive another summer. Many do not.”

    • Adam Curle, peace scholar: a centenary symposium

      Bradford University’s pioneering department devoted to peace education and research is honouring its founding professor. The world’s conflicts make it a timely event.

    • Political Writer, Daughter of Ukrainian Dissident, Detained and Charged in Ukraine

      On August 16, 2016, the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) made another step in the intimidation and silencing of Ukrainians with dissenting opinion – SBU searched the apartment of Myroslava Berdnyk, a popular blogger and political writer who openly criticizes the post-Euromaidan authorities and exposes Ukrainian nationalism. She was detained for interrogation and later released.

      As with many other Ukrainians who refuse to join the anti-Russia crusade of the government in Kyiv, Myroslava Berdnyk now stands accused of undermining the territorial integrity and inviolability of Ukraine.

      Myroslava’s case is particularly significant and important because she is the daughter of Oles Berdnyk, a famous Ukrainian dissident who spent many years in Soviet prisons who was also a famous writer, writing many science fiction novels.

    • In Major Ruling, Grad Students Win Right to Unionize at Private Universities

      The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) said Tuesday that graduate students who work as teaching and research assistants at private colleges are employees—a ruling with “big implications” for both higher education and organized labor in the United States.

    • Held 14 Years Without Charge, CIA Torture ‘Guinea Pig’ Abu Zubaydah Asks for Freedom

      After 14 years of being held without charge, Guantánamo prisoner Abu Zubaydah, who was subject to brutal torture and is known as the “guinea pig” for the Central Intelligence Agency’s (CIA) “enhanced interrogation program,” made his first appearance on Tuesday before the Periodic Review Board and requested to be set free.

      In a statement (pdf) read by his personal representative, he explained how he “initially believe that he did not have any chance or hope to be released” but has “come to believe that he might have a chance to leave Guantánamo.”

      Further, Zubaydah “expressed a desire to be reunited with his family and begin the process of recovering from injuries he sustained during his capture.” Among other abuses, the detainee lost an eye while in CIA custody.

    • A Rare Glimpse of Abu Zubaydah 14 Years After First CIA Torture Session

      Abu Zubaydah, 45, made his first appearance Tuesday on video from Guantanamo in a hearing before a Periodic Review Board, 14 years after the last day of a month-long interrogation at a CIA black site in Thailand. It was the first time the “enhanced interrogation techniques” approved by the Bush administration were used on a detainee.

      Back then, Abu Zubaydah still had his left eye.

      Representatives from the media, nongovernmental organizations, and academia were permitted to view the unclassified opening portion of the hearing from a conference room at the Pentagon, but the segment does not include any statement or comments from the detainee. It was the first glimpse outside observers got of Zubaydah since a photo of his face with an eye patch was published by Wikileaks in 2011; at one point he was touted as al Qaeda No. 3.

      [...]

      Abu Zubaydah, a Palestinian whose real name is Zayn al Abidin Muhammad, was captured in a raid of a Faisalabad, Pakistan, house on March 28, 2002, suffering severe bullet wounds. The interrogation techniques used on him included stress positions, sleep deprivation, insects placed in a confinement box, and waterboarding, among others.

      Most notably perhaps, he was waterboarded 83 times.

    • Critics Say French Burkini Bans Employ Language of Human Rights to Limit Human Rights

      So-called ‘burkini bans’ in France have come under fierce criticism after images surfaced this week of police in Nice surrounding and forcing a Muslim woman to remove some of her clothes.

      A burkini, or burquini, is a full-body swimsuit “intended to accord with Islamic traditions of modest dress,” as Wikipedia put it.

      Last week, Nice became the latest of 15 French towns to ban the garment, arguing that it “overtly manifests adherence to a religion at a time when France and places of worship are the target of terrorist attacks.” Last month, 86 people were killed in the seaside resort town when a truck drove into a Bastille Day celebration.

    • The Heart of Order

      He’d left the water running, flooding neighbors’ apartments. He’d been running around outside naked. By the time police arrived, he was standing in the window of his fourth-floor apartment on Farwell Avenue — a few blocks from where I live in the diverse, unpredictable Chicago neighborhood called Rogers Park — threatening to jump.

      He pointed his finger at the cops, pretending he had a gun. “Fuck the police,” he said. The standoff lasted four hours.

      But eventually he capitulated. The forces of sanity held sway. He was taken to a hospital. No one was hurt. (Phew-w-w!) And life in Rogers Park moved on.

      [...]

      Sixteen years — of war — later, I remain transfixed by that question. Why must social authority be symbolized with escalating bombast? Assault rifles, body armor, MRAPs? Then a scene from Robert Duvall’s 1997 movie The Apostle flickered for an instant in my mind. Billy Bob Thornton’s character, a racist with a bulldozer, is threatening to demolish the church that Duvall, a preacher on the run from the law, has constructed with his racially mixed congregation. Duvall sets his Bible in front of the bulldozer and Thornton is immobilized, indeed, reduced to tears. His hatred melts; the threat disappears.

    • [Older] Democracy in America Is a Useful Fiction

      Corporate forces, long before the Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, carried out a coup d’état in slow motion. The coup is over. We lost. The ruling is one more judicial effort to streamline mechanisms for corporate control. It exposes the myth of a functioning democracy and the triumph of corporate power. But it does not significantly alter the political landscape. The corporate state is firmly cemented in place.

      The fiction of democracy remains useful, not only for corporations, but for our bankrupt liberal class. If the fiction is seriously challenged, liberals will be forced to consider actual resistance, which will be neither pleasant nor easy. As long as a democratic facade exists, liberals can engage in an empty moral posturing that requires little sacrifice or commitment. They can be the self-appointed scolds of the Democratic Party, acting as if they are part of the debate and feel vindicated by their cries of protest.

    • A black homeowner called 911 to report a carjacking. He wound up getting shot by police.

      An Indianapolis homeowner who called police to report an attempted armed robbery at his house was apparently mistaken for the suspect and shot in the stomach by a responding officer, authorities said.

      Carl Williams, a 48-year-old black man, called 911 early Tuesday morning and told the emergency dispatcher that an armed man tried to assault his wife outside their home, then stole her car keys and drove away in her car, according to a statement from the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department.

      When two officers arrived at the property on the city’s east side, the homeowner, who was also armed and apparently prepared to confront the carjacker, emerged from his home, a law enforcement official told ABC affiliate RTV6.

    • HP hit with age-discrimination suit claiming older workers purged

      Four former employees of Silicon Valley tech icon Hewlett-Packard have filed an age discrimination lawsuit alleging they were ousted amid a purge of older workers.

      Hewlett-Packard began layoffs in 2012, before the company broke into HP Inc. and HP Enterprise last year, and have escalated the layoffs since, eventually hitting tens of thousands of workers.

      The goal “was to make the company younger,” said the complaint filed Aug. 18 in U.S. District Court in San Jose. “In order to get younger, HP intentionally discriminated against its older employees by targeting them for termination … and then systematically replacing them with younger employees. HP has hired a disproportionately large number of new employees under the age of 40 to replace employees aged 40 and older who were terminated.”

  • Intellectual Monopolies
    • Copyrights
      • Plagiarism Actions

        Drobetsky was a masters degree student at the Chicago School of Professional Psychology. In her assigned 5-page reflection paper of the Benjamin Button movie, she apparently copied from Wikipedia and a blog post by Richard Larson. The allegations are “that a portion of one sentence in the reflection paper was copied word for word from the Wikipedia article, and portions of two other sentences were copied word for word from the Larson blog, without quotation marks, citation or attribution.”

        The school dismissed Drobetsky for plagiarism in violation of school policy – she sued in Illinois state court for readmittance, recover of the $53,000 paid to the school, etc.

      • EU Copyright Law Undermines Innovation and Creativity on the Internet. Mozilla is Fighting for Reform

        The internet is an unprecedented platform for innovation, opportunity and creativity. It’s where artists create; where coders and entrepreneurs build game-changing technology; where educators and researchers unlock progress; and where everyday people live their lives.

        The internet brings new ideas to life everyday, and helps make existing ideas better. As a result, we need laws that protect and enshrine the internet as an open, collaborative platform.

        But in the EU, certain laws haven’t caught up with the internet. The current copyright legal framework is outdated. It stifles opportunity and prevents — and in many cases, legally prohibits — artists, coders and everyone else from creating and innovating online. This framework was enacted before the internet changed the way we live. As a result, these laws clash with life in the 21st century.

      • SUPER-BREAKING NEWS: Leaked draft Impact Assessment shows that Commission intends to introduce new mandatory exceptions, address value gap and introduce related right for publishers

        What does the EU Commission intend to propose when it releases its next copyright package next month?

        This is a question that has been haunting EU copyright enthusiasts for a few months now.

      • Linking & Copyright rapid response event on 13 September: come join us!

        This is a reference for a preliminary ruling from the Dutch Supreme Court. It was made in the context of proceedings between Sanoma (the publisher of Playboy magazine) and GS Media, concerning the publication by the latter on a website that it operates (GeenSijl) of hyperlinks to other websites hosting unpublished photographs taken for a forthcoming issue of Playboy

Links 24/8/2016: More From LinuxCon, Uganda Wants FOSS

Thursday 25th of August 2016 12:00:21 AM

Contents GNU/Linux Free Software/Open Source
  • OpenIndiana Operating System Gets MATE 1.14 Desktop Environment, New ISOs

    Alexander Pyhalov from the OpenIndiana development team was happy to announce the availability of the latest MATE 1.14 open-source desktop environment for the Solaris-derived operating system.

  • 3 open source alternatives to Office 365

    It can be hard to get away from working and collaborating on the web. Doing that is incredibly convenient: as long as you have an internet connection, you can easily work and share from just about anywhere, on just about any device.

    The main problem with most web-based office suites—like Google Drive, Zoho Office, and Office365—is that they’re closed source. Your data also exists at the whim of large corporations. I’m sure you’ve heard numerous stories of, say, Google locking or removing accounts without warning.

    If that happens to you, you lose what’s yours. So what’s an open source advocate who wants to work with web applications to do? You turn to an open source alternative, of course. Let’s take a look at three of them.

  • NGINX’s Plan to Create a $1 Billion Business from its Open Source Software

    NGINX Inc. has a set an ambitious goal for itself: To become a $1 billion company within the next eight to 10 years. It will not be an easy task, especially given that its biggest competitor may be its own well-engineered open source software. For NGINX, the key to success will be to successfully get customers from additional markets.

    The open source NGINX project, which began in 2002, is a widely-used high-performance web server and reverse proxy. However, the commercial company, NGINX Inc., created to support the open source project, was founded much later, in 2011, with the first commercial product in 2013.

  • Hazelcast Releases Version 3.7

    Hazelcast, a provider of an open source in-memory data grid, has announced the general availability of Hazelcast 3.7. According to the company, the latest release is 30% faster than previous versions and is the first fully modularized version of Hazelcast. Each client/language and plugin is now available as a module – speeding up the development process for open source contributors, with new features and bug fixes released as modules alongside Hazelcast 3.7.

    Hazelcast continues to expand its footprint beyond its traditional “Java heartland,” the company says. The Hazelcast open source community has created clients for programming environments including Java, Scala, .Net/C#, C++, Python, Node.js, and Clojure. Java and Scala can be used for both clients and embedded members.

  • Hazelcast releases 3.7: cloud-enabled, 30% faster and the first fully modularized in-memory data grid
  • How to measure your community’s health

    How do you measure the health of your community, identify problems, and track progress towards your goals? What should you be measuring?

    Last month we discussed vanity metrics, those metrics that might sound impressive on the surface, but ultimately give you little insight or guidance to improve the health and well-being of your community. This naturally begs the question: What should you be measuring? And as I mentioned last month, the obvious but annoying answer: It depends. The first and foremost dependency relates to the nature of your community and where you and your members want it to go.

  • Events
  • Web Browsers
    • Chrome
      • Alphabet Inc (GOOGL) to Remove Chrome applications from Mac, Linux, Windows
      • Google Makes Changes to the Chrome App Ecosystem

        Google is making some sweeping changes in the way Chrome, Chrome OS and Android handle apps and applications. The company has announced that it is moving away from the app platform on its Chrome browser for all platforms aside from Chromebooks. Beginning in late 2016, you will require a Chromebook to be able to download new Chrome apps, although existing apps will be usable and developers can still release updates.

        Meanwhile, many Chrome OS users are beginning to use Android apps on the platform. Android apps arrived on Chromebooks in a heavy-handed way in June, but the developer channel was still buggy. Now, a new implementation has entered the beta channel with some much needed stability.

  • SaaS/Back End
    • Walmart, Comcast Hasten Innovation, Improve Agility With OpenStack

      As new technologies like applications and programming languages are introduced, it’s important for companies to remain flexible and fast enough to adapt, which is why Walmart and Comcast have embraced OpenStack.

      By adopting OpenStack solution OneOps, Walmart doesn’t have to spend unnecessary time writing code or automating new processes in order to keep up with new technologies, Andrew Mitry, OpenStack Lead at Walmart, explained today at OpenStack East 2016.

      Walmart already uses more than 3,000 applications and services and has more than 170,000 cores in more than 30 regions, with more than 60 Open Source products that are deployed more than 40,000 times each month. With OneOps, Walmart can automate low-level processes like load balance and firewalls using OneOps, which Mitry said frees up time and resources to manage more intricate processes that require manual oversight.

  • Databases
    • MySQL daddy Widenius: Open-source religion won’t feed MariaDB

      MySQL daddy Monty Widenius has dismissed claims the MariaDB fork is veering away from open source.

      Rather, the chief technology officer of MariaDB corporation called his firm’s embrace of a commercial licence for part of MariaDB “critical” to delivering new revenue and for the continued development of open-source software.

      Widenius told The Register in an interview that he believes criticism of MariaDB’s commercial licence for its new database proxy sever, MaxScale 2.0, is motivated by a “religious” belief in free and open source software.

      Not that Widenius is against the belief per se, he told The Register, it’s just: “Religion doesn’t put meat on the table.”

    • Percona Celebrates 10 Years of Leading the Open Source Database Revolution
  • CMS
    • How to Resolve Your Open Content Management Quandary

      After years of development and competition, open source content management systems (CMS) have proliferated and are very powerful tools for building, deploying and managing web sites, blogs and more. You’re probably familiar with some of the big names in this arena, including Drupal (which Ostatic is based on) and Joomla.

      As we noted in this post, selecting a CMS to build around can be a complicated process, since the publishing tools provided are hardly the only issue. The good news is that free, sophisticated guides for evaluating CMS systems have flourished. There are even good options for trying open CMS systems online before you choose one. Here, in this newly updated post, you’ll find some very good resources.

      he first thing to pursue as you evaluate CMS systems to deploy, including the many free, good platforms, is an overview of what is available. CMSMatrix.org is a great site for plotting out side-by-side comparisons of what CMS systems have to offer. In fact, it lets you compare the features in over 1200 content management system products. Definitely take a look. This site also has a good overview of the options.

    • Postleaf is an open-source blogging platform for the design-conscious

      Content management systems are boring until you have to use one. You can install a little Drupal or WordPress, pick up some Squarespace, or just dump to Medium, the graveyard for posts about protein shakes and VC funding. But what if you could roll your own CMS? And what if you made it really cool?

      That’s what Cory LaViska did. LaViska is the founder of SurrealCMS and has been making it easy to edit stuff on the web for nine years. Rather than build and sell an acceptable CMS, however, he took all of his best ideas and made a far better CMS. And he made it open source and called it Postleaf.

  • Education
    • Schools that #GoOpen should #GoOpenSource

      School administrators know that traditional proprietary textbooks are expensive. Teachers in budget-strapped schools often face shortages of textbooks. Worse, print content is usually out-of-date as soon as the ink dries on the page. There has to be something better than students hauling bulbous backpacks loaded with dead knowledge stamped on dead trees.

      In the fall of 2015, the U.S. Department of Education launched the #GoOpen campaign, an initiative encouraging public schools to adopt openly-licensed digital educational materials to transform teaching and learning, and perhaps lighten both backpacks and textbook bills. The Department recently published the #GoOpen District Launch Packet, a useful step-by-step implementation guide for schools planning a transition from traditional textbooks to Open Educational Resources (OER).

      We should applaud the Department of Education’s efforts to promote affordable, equitable, and quality educational materials for all schools. Their initiative empowers educators to curate, shape, and share educational content at a local level. No longer is the written word of proprietary publishers like Pearson the fountain of all classroom knowledge. Districts that choose to #GoOpen opt to honor teacher expertise, empower them to build communities of shared practice, and encourage collaboration with colleagues across counties and states. Given unfettered permission to revise, remix, and redistribute curriculum material, teachers are trusted to become active agents in the creation of high-quality learning materials.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)
  • Funding
    • Be Bold, Be Curious, and Be Open, Advise Outreachy Participants

      In Tuesday afternoon’s “Kernel Internship Report and Outreachy Panel” session at LinuxCon North America, interns and mentors involved with the Outreachy program spoke enthusiastically of their experiences with the program. The panel was moderated by Karen M. Sandler, Executive Director of the Software Freedom Conservancy, and organizer of Outreachy.

      Sandler provided an overview of the Outreachy program, which offers a paid three-month internship for women and other underrepresented groups to work on a free and open source software project. Helen M Koike Fornazier, a former Outreachy intern and now a Software Engineer at Collabora, described her Linux kernel project involving video4linux, with Laurent Pinchart as her mentor. She wrote a driver, which simulates some media hardware using the Media API.

  • BSD
  • Public Services/Government
    • Uganda eager to tap into open source

      Uganda’s Ministry of ICT recently developed a FOSS (Free and Open Source Software) policy to regulate the deployment of open source software and use of open standards to accelerate innovation and develop local content.

      At the 7th African Conference on Free and Open Source Software (FOSS), organised in conjunction with Uganda’s National Information Technology Authority (NITA-U) to encourage industry partnerships and uptake of OSS in East Africa, open software was recognised for its contribution to innovation.

      Frank Tumwebaze, Minister of ICT and National Guidance in Uganda, said, “Free and open software services will help my ministry to innovate better because it forms the platform (for) many of the innovative ideas. Free and open source software in Uganda is certainly something we have been talking about and I am sure we will do so even more in the next few days. Some of the things Uganda has put in place to harness the benefit from free and open source software include a Software Strategy and Policy in accordance with the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development’s (UNCTAD) Trade, Services and Development expert meeting’s determination that free and open source software is an inseparable component of the global technology ecosystem.”

    • Ireland’s govt IT: Recession and job cuts forced us to adapt

      Ireland was hit hard by the global financial crunch of 2007 and 2008. It was the first of the EU member states to slip into recession immediately following the bursting of the economic bubble.

      As the economy contracted, banks faced default and government debt increased, with Ireland eventually taking an €67.5bn loan from the European Commission, European Central Bank (ECB) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF)

      Falling tax income and the need to bail out banks saw the Irish government spending in other areas of public life.

      The government had introduced the Public Sector Recruitment Embargo in 2009, which stopped hiring of all civil servants across government and cut pay and pensions – in return for a promise of no compulsory redundancies.

    • Oh! The Horror! Ireland Stays Enslaved To MS

      For 15 years or so, I was in those same financial straits in schools where I taught and GNU/Linux and FLOSS (Free/Libre Open Source Software) was the obvious solution. Obviously, one is better off to have IT for all rather than paying monopolistic prices for IT for a few. In schools, that meant extending the life of IT, elimination of malware and re-re-reboots, freedom from paper, freight for paper, storage for paper, … For governments freedom from lock-in to M$ and “friends” saved huge sums which could have been better spent on hardware or employees. Sigh.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration
  • Programming/Development
    • Digital Asset Holdings to open up DAML for developers

      Digital Asset Holdings, the blockchain start-up commanded by Blythe Masters, has announced that it will be open-sourcing its DAML modelling language.

      DAML, which Digital Asset describes as a “smart-contact-like” system for financial applications and supporting tools, is hailed by the company as a solution to the current market of modelling languages being unsuitable for regulated financial applications.

      “Many that are exploring the use of smart contracts — legal agreements written as executable code to automate the processing of rights and obligations on a distributed ledger — are discovering the deficiencies with available smart contract languages,” the firm writes in a statement.

Leftovers
  • Science
    • 20% of scientific papers on genes contain gene name conversion errors caused by Excel

      These scientists didn’t have to write a scientific paper on the problems that Microsoft Excel causes. An easier fix would be “to raise awareness of the problem” via Excel UserVoice or reach out to the Excel team on Twitter for a faster response. It is a bit alarming that 20% of scientific papers have errors due to Excel, but it’s even more confusing that scientists don’t try to figure out a way to solve the problem. This latest scientific paper is not the first of its kind, as a Bing search can easily reveal.

    • Gene name errors are widespread in the scientific literature

      The spreadsheet software Microsoft Excel, when used with default settings, is known to convert gene names to dates and floating-point numbers. A programmatic scan of leading genomics journals reveals that approximately one-fifth of papers with supplementary Excel gene lists contain erroneous gene name conversions.The spreadsheet software Microsoft Excel, when used with default settings, is known to convert gene names to dates and floating-point numbers. A programmatic scan of leading genomics journals reveals that approximately one-fifth of papers with supplementary Excel gene lists contain erroneous gene name conversions.

  • Health/Nutrition
    • Officials Pull Water Supply as Dakota Access Protest Swells in Number and Spirit

      Growing in number and spirit, the Standing Rock Sioux protest against the Dakota Access Pipeline is swiftly gaining strength ahead of a federal hearing on the controversial project. Support has spread across the country, and thousands have descended on the peaceful “prayer camps” in recent days, prompting state officials on Monday to remove the demonstrators’ drinking water supply.

      North Dakota homeland security director Greg Wilz ordered the removal of state-owned trailers and water tanks from the protest encampment, despite the sweltering heat, because of alleged disorderly conduct, according to the Bismarck Tribune, including reports of laser pointers aimed at surveillance aircraft.

    • After 525 years, it’s time to actually listen to Native Americans

      The center of the fight for our planet’s future shifts. But this week it’s on the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation straddling the border between North Dakota and South Dakota. There, tribal members have been, well, standing like a rock in the way of the planned Dakota Access Pipeline, a huge hose for collecting oil out of the Bakken shale and carrying it off to the Midwest and the Gulf where it can be made into gasoline.

      The standoff has been picturesque and dramatic, featuring American Indians on horseback. But mostly it’s been brave and lonely, far from most journalists and up against the same forces that have made life hard for Indigenous Peoples for centuries.

      The U.S. Army, for instance. It’s the Army Corps of Engineers that last month granted Energy Transfer Corporation the permit necessary to start construction near the reservation, despite a petition signed by 150,000 people, and carried—on foot—by young people from the reservation all the way to Washington. That would be the same U.S. Army that—well, google “Wounded Knee.” Or “Custer.” “Washita River.” “Pine Ridge.”

    • EpiPen Uproar Highlights Company’s Family Ties to Congress

      The CEO of a Fortune 500 company, who is also the daughter of a U.S. senator, is under fire from for jacking up the rates of life-saving anti-allergy device known as the EpiPen.

      Heather Bresch, whose father is U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV), became president of Mylan Pharmaceutical in 2009 and CEO in 2012. She is no stranger to controversy: She moved Mylan’s headquarters to The Netherlands last year, after a corporate “inversion” merger with Abbott Laboratories.

      The move enabled the company to operate its headquarters in the U.S. but maintain corporate citizenship in Holland, benefiting from a lower tax rate.

      But the EpiPen scandal, sparked by a sudden price hike, could cause more trouble for the company, its CEO, and her lawmaker father. This week, Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee’s Antitrust Subcommittee, demanded hearings on the EpiPen’s 450 percent price increase in just seven years.

    • WTO, WHO, WIPO Host Discussions On Antimicrobial Resistance In October

      Antimicrobial resistance has been described as a major threat to public health, as infections, even minor, might become killers again, if no new antibiotics are discovered. In October, the World Health Organization, World Intellectual Property Organization and World Trade Organization will join forces for a symposium organised to discuss how to foster innovation, and access.

      A Joint Technical Symposium on “Antimicrobial Resistance: How to Foster Innovation, Access and Appropriate Use of Antibiotics?” will be held on 25 October at WIPO.

      Antibiotic resistance, although occurring naturally as microbes become resistant to treatment, is said to worsened by overuse or misuse of antibiotics. Another factor accounting for the lack of private sector innovation seems to be that once a new antibiotic is found, it must be used sparsely in order to keep microbes from developing resistance, an approach that runs contrary to successful commercial markets.

    • WHO Pandemic Flu Review Group Meets Next Week
  • Security
  • Defence/Aggression
    • UN Calls for 48-Hour Ceasefire So Aid Can Reach War-Ravaged Aleppo

      The United Nations is urging all factions inside Syria to commit to a 48-hour ceasefire so that emergency aid and relief workers can save lives and offer assistance to those caught inside the war-ravaged city of Aleppo.

    • Life and Death In Aleppo

      It is all still going on in Aleppo, where the U.N. has now dubbed desperate relief efforts “the apex of horror.” Omran Daqneesh, 5, the stunned and bloodied boy in the ambulance, survived. This weekend his 10-year-old brother Ali, buried longer in rubble from the same airstrike, has died, one of over 100 children of Aleppo killed just this month in similar attacks. Their deaths, it must be noted, were not as widely publicized, but just as deeply mourned.

      As much as the viral image of Omran came to represent Syria’s devastation for those distant from it, says Syrian activist Kenan Rahmani, Omran was a fleeting symbol, a trending hashtag soon gone from many memories. Ali, he says, is grim, ongoing reality. “Ali is the suffering itself, that which Omran tried to convey to us,” he writes. “Ali is the utter loss of everything. Ali is Syria as Syrians know it.” While Rahmani sorrowfully argues “no story in Syria has a happy ending,” there are at least shards of hope and moments of respite. In this extraordinary footage, newly surfaced from July, doctors perform an emergency C-section trying to save a mother and baby wounded in a barrel bomb attack. See the moment one calls, “That’s it! Cry! Cry!” Then help them save more here or here.

    • Propaganda for Syrian ‘Regime Change’

      Neocons and liberal hawks have poured millions of dollars into propaganda to justify “regime change” in Syria and are now desperate to keep the war going until President Hillary Clinton gets a chance to escalate, as Rick Sterling describes.

    • Militant Leader Talks About Break With Al Qaeda and Possible Syrian Rebel Merger

      Such a merger would also make it easier for U.S. officials to justify targeting other Syrian opposition groups like Ahrar al-Sham, as it would more closely associate them with a designated terrorist organization. Along with the Syrian government and mainstream opposition groups, Jabhat Fath al-Sham has been accused by monitoring organizations of committing systematic human rights abuses over the course of Syria’s civil war, including kidnappings and extrajudicial executions.

    • What’s Next for Turkey’s Exiled Cleric Fethullah Gülen?

      At the time, I was shocked by this description of a massive organization. The Gülenists were, according to Mr. X, recruiting in the police, the judicial system, and other government agencies. Gülen’s followers were creating a playbook for religious adherents to survive in a government dominated by a rigid secular ideology promulgated by the Kemalists.

    • Is Turkey’s Pivot to Russia about Erdogan’s Survival?

      The attempted coup of July 15, 2016 in Turkey shook that country’s political system to the core. Although President Tayyip Erdogan of the Justice and Development Party (AKP) had broken in 2013 with his former allies, the right wing religious cult around Fethullah Gulen, he appears to have believed that he had tamed it. He survived the members’ leak of recorded conversations pointing to AKP corruption and support of fundamentalist militias in Syria. His party went on winning elections without the Gulenists, who were revealed to have less popular support than they had imagined.

    • A revolution is not a dinner party

      Does the word “revolution” mean the same thing to the Kurdish liberation movement and to American leftists who supported Bernie Sanders? A little history…

    • Israel sold weapons to Argentina at height of Falklands War, reveal declassified Foreign Office files

      Israel sold weapons to Argentina at the height of the Falklands War in 1982, according to newly declassified Foreign Office files.

      British diplomats cited evidence that Israel had supplied the Argentine military junta with arms that were used against the Task Force during the campaign to liberate the islands.

      Israeli military exports before the war included the Skyhawk jets that would later be used to bomb British warships, killing dozens of soldiers, sailors and marines.

      Four British warships were sunk by bombs dropped from Skyhawks, including RFA Sir Galahad, a troop carrier that was set ablaze while anchored in Bluff Cove, killing 48 sailors and soldiers. Simon Weston, the badly burned veteran, was among the survivors. Another four ships were damaged by Skyhawks.

    • Such a long silence on Yemen

      Early this August, the Pentagon announced plans to sell weapons worth $1.15 billion to Saudi Arabia. The news itself was not surprising as the Arab kingdom is one of America’s biggest arms buyers, but the timing of the announcement was rather conspicuous. The Saudis had resumed heavy bombardment of Yemen after a lull as part of the peace process. By deciding to send in more tanks and armaments to Saudi Arabia at a time when the kingdom faces severe international criticism for rights violations in Yemen, including the killing of children, the U.S. was unmistakably sending a message that it’s with Riyadh in this war.

    • Lawmakers, Peace Groups Team Up to Block ‘Disturbing’ US-Saudi Arms Deal

      Anti-war advocates are launching an 11th-hour bid to stop U.S. Congress from approving a $1.15 billion arms sale to Saudi Arabia in its fight against Houthi rebels in Yemen, which was announced earlier this month.

      Chief among them are the activist group CODEPINK and U.S. Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.), who are calling on Congress to block the sale at least long enough to give lawmakers time to “give these issues the full deliberation that they deserve.”

      Congress has 30 days to object to the deal, announced August 9. Lieu has bipartisan support in the House of Representatives from Reps. John Conyers (D-Mich.), Ted Yoho (R-Fla.), and Mick Mulvaney (R-S.C.), all of whom are sending a letter to the Obama administration on Thursday asking to delay the trade, citing the recent bombings of hospitals, schools, and residential areas by the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen.

      “I taught the law of war when I was on active duty,” Lieu told The Intercept on Monday. (Lieu served in the U.S. Air Force and is an Air Force Reserves colonel.) “You can’t kill children, newlyweds, doctors and patients—those are exempt targets under the law of war, and the coalition has been repeatedly striking civilians. So it is very disturbing to me. It is even worse that the U.S. is aiding this coalition.”

    • Deadline This Thursday: Urge Your Representative to Block Saudi Arms Deal
    • Moscow, August 1991: a world-changing failure

      25 years ago, an attempted takeover by communist hardliners led to the Soviet Union’s collapse.

    • British woman stabbed to death at Australian hostel by attacker shouting ‘Allahu Akbar’

      A British woman has been killed after being stabbed at a hostel in Australia by man who allegedly shouted “Allahu Akbar” during the attack.

      A 30-year-old British man is also in a critical condition following the attack at the Shelly’s Backpackers in the town of Home Hill in Queensland at around 11:15pm local time on Tuesday, police said.

      Queensland Police Service said up to 30 people witnessed the “senseless act of violence” at a room in the hostel.

      A 29-year-old French national was arrested at the scene and taken into custody. He was then transferred to hospital for treatment for “non-life threatening” injuries.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature
    • Leading Doctor Calls Climate Change Gravest Health Threat of 21st Century

      Climate change is the greatest threat to public health worldwide and doctors must step up to help mitigate it, according to a leading advocate speaking at the annual Canadian Medical Association (CMA) meeting in Vancouver on Monday.

      Dr. James Orbinski, a former top official with the medical charity Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), who is now an an associate professor of Medicine at the University of Toronto, urged physicians to “step up and step out” in the fight against climate change as part of their duties to create “health-in-all” policies.

      “We’re not separate from our biosphere, or our planet,” Orbinski told the audience of 600. “We can’t possibly live, survive, and thrive without our biosphere. It affects us and we affect it.”

      “Climate change is very much of our own making…but as doctors, we have a vital responsibility to urge the development of a health-in-all-policies approach,” he said.

      The summit is taking place following extreme weather events and other environmental catastrophes throughout Canada, from wildfires in Fort McMurray to a massive oil spill in Saskatchewan.

    • Gulf Residents Arrested Telling Obama: More Drilling Equals More Floods

      A group of Gulf residents were arrested after occupying the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management’s (BOEM) office in New Orleans on Tuesday, where they were demanding that President Barack Obama cancel an imminent lease sale for offshore drilling in the Gulf of Mexico.

      The BOEM auction scheduled for Wednesday would sell off an area the size of Virginia for fossil fuel drilling and exploration. It is set to take place in the Superdome “behind locked doors,” according to a press statement from protest organizers.

      Obama will tour Baton Rouge on Tuesday, in the wake of catastrophic flooding that hit Louisiana last week.

    • Louisiana Climate-Deniers Who Refused Sandy Victims Now Want Federal Flood Relief

      As residents of Louisiana this week struggle to recover from “one of the worst floods in modern history,” there is a chance that federal aid may not be so forthcoming thanks to a trio of Bayou State Republicans, who back in 2013 voted against helping victims of another storm: Sandy.

      House majority whip Rep. Steve Scalise, Rep. John Fleming, and Sen. Bill Cassidy all cast their votes against the $50.5 billion relief package because of their dogmatic adherence to austerity economics. At the time, Scalise said, “Paying for disasters and being fiscally responsible are not mutually exclusive.”

      But, as Los Angeles Times columnist Michael Hiltzik and others noted this week, that decision may come to haunt them.

      “No one is saying that the flood-stricken communities of Louisiana don’t deserve all the assistance that the U.S. government can provide them,” Hiltzik wrote. “But so did the residents of the Sandy zone. How do the lawmakers’ 2013 votes to deny relief to those Northeast communities square with their demand for emergency flood assistance now?”

      All three signed onto a letter sent to President Barack Obama earlier this month calling for a disaster declaration and requesting “that vital federal resources be made available in an expedited manner.”

    • State pulls relief resources from swelling Dakota Access Pipeline protest camp

      North Dakota’s homeland security director ordered the removal of state-owned trailers and water tanks from the Dakota Access Pipeline protest campsite Monday, citing mounting reports of unlawful activity — the latest involving lasers — and the risk of damage.

      “Based on the scenario down there, we don’t believe that equipment is secure,” Homeland Security Division Director Greg Wilz said.

    • Indonesian parliament to investigate fire-linked firms in Riau

      The Indonesian parliament will form a task force to look into the cancelling of investigations against 15 companies alleged to be complicit in fires in Riau, the country’s top palm oil producing province.

      Legislators made the announcement on Friday as burning in Sumatra and Kalimantan continued to spread, prompting emergency responses from authorities there. The fires are an annual scourge caused by illegal slash-and-burn land clearing practices by companies and farmers, usually to make way for oil palm and timber plantations.

      The fires this week were most concentrated in West Kalimantan province, on Indonesia’s part of Borneo island, with 158 hotspots there on Friday, according to Indonesia’s disaster management agency chief Sutopo Purwo Nugroho. That was up from 106 a day earlier. Following a request from the governor, the agency will begin cloud seeding operations next week and send in two water-bombing helicopters in the meantime.

    • Climate change will mean the end of national parks as we know them

      After a century of shooing away hunters, tending to trails and helping visitors enjoy the wonder of the natural world, the guardians of America’s most treasured places have been handed an almost unimaginable new job – slowing the all-out assault climate change is waging against national parks across the nation.

      As the National Parks Service (NPS) has charted the loss of glaciers, sea level rise and increase in wildfires spurred by rising temperatures in recent years, the scale of the threat to US heritage across the 412 national parks and monuments has become starkly apparent.

      As the National Parks Service turns 100 this week, their efforts to chart and stem the threat to the country’s history faces a daunting task. America’s grand symbols and painstakingly preserved archaeological sites are at risk of being winnowed away by the crashing waves, wildfires and erosion triggered by warming temperatures.

      The Statue of Liberty is at “high exposure” risk from increasingly punishing storms. A national monument dedicated to abolitionist Harriet Tubman, who will be enshrined on a new $20 note, could be eaten away by rising tides in Maryland. The land once walked by Pocahontas and Captain John Smith in Jamestown, the first English settlement in the US, is surrounded by waters rising at twice the global average and may be beyond rescue.

    • Blue lakes are appearing in Antarctica – and that’s a bad thing

      In a new study, scientists who study the largest ice mass on Earth – East Antarctica – have found that it is showing a surprising feature reminiscent of the fastest melting one: Greenland.

      More specifically, the satellite-based study found that atop the coastal Langhovde Glacier in East Antarctica’s Dronning Maud Land, large numbers of “supraglacial” or meltwater lakes have been forming – nearly 8,000 of them during summer months between the year 2000 and 2013. Moreover, in some cases, just as in Greenland, these lakes appear to have then been draining down into the floating parts of the glacier, potentially weakening it and making it more likely to fracture and break apart.

      This is the first time that such a drainage phenomenon has been observed in East Antarctica, the researchers say – though it was previously spotted on the warmer Antarctic Peninsula and was likely part of what drove spectacular events there like the shattering of the Larsen B ice shelf in 2002.

      When it comes to East Antarctica, however, “that’s the part of the continent where people have for quite a long time assumed that it’s relatively stable, there’s not a huge amount of change, it’s very, very cold, and so, it’s only very recently that the first supraglacial lakes, on top of the ice, were identified,” said Stewart Jamieson, a glaciologist at Durham University in the UK and one of the study’s authors.

    • Nuclear waste accident 2 years ago may cost more than $2 billion to clean up

      The Los Angeles Times is estimating that an explosion that occurred at a New Mexico nuclear waste dumping facility in 2014 could cost upwards of $2 billion to clean up.

      Construction began on the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) in New Mexico’s Carlsbad desert in the 1980s (PDF). The site was built to handle transuranic waste from the US’ nuclear weapons program. The WIPP had been eyed to receive nuclear waste from commercial, power-generating plants as well.

      According to the LA Times, the 2014 explosion at the WIPP was downplayed by the federal government, with the Department of Energy (DoE) putting out statements indicating that cleanup was progressing quickly. Indeed, a 2015 Recovery Plan insisted that “limited waste disposal operations” would resume in the first quarter of 2016. Instead, two years have passed since the incident without any indication that smaller nuclear waste cleanup programs around the US will be able to deliver their waste to the New Mexico facility any time soon.

      Ars contacted the DoE for comment and has not received a response. We will update this article if we hear back.

    • Nuclear accident in New Mexico ranks among the costliest in U.S. history

      When a drum containing radioactive waste blew up in an underground nuclear dump in New Mexico two years ago, the Energy Department rushed to quell concerns in the Carlsbad desert community and quickly reported progress on resuming operations.

      The early federal statements gave no hint that the blast had caused massive long-term damage to the dump, a facility crucial to the nuclear weapons cleanup program that spans the nation, or that it would jeopardize the Energy Department’s credibility in dealing with the tricky problem of radioactive waste.

      But the explosion ranks among the costliest nuclear accidents in U.S. history, according to a Times analysis. The long-term cost of the mishap could top $2 billion, an amount roughly in the range of the cleanup after the 1979 partial meltdown at the Three Mile Island nuclear power plant in Pennsylvania.

      The Feb. 14, 2014, accident is also complicating cleanup programs at about a dozen current and former nuclear weapons sites across the U.S. Thousands of tons of radioactive waste that were headed for the dump are backed up in Idaho, Washington, New Mexico and elsewhere, state officials said in interviews.

    • Germany: Renewable gains, won by people’s power, face corporate threat

      In 2000, renewable energy made up just 6.3% of Germany’s electricity. By last year, it had risen to 31%.

      Cloudy Germany became a leading innovator in solar energy. It did so not by subsidising large power utility companies, but by mobilising hundreds of thousands into energy cooperatives. The two legs of this democratic energy transition are Germany’s commitment to phase out nuclear power and its feed-in tariffs, which allowed small renewable energy producers to sell their electricity.

      Both policies were fruits of the environmental movement. Now, the feed-in tariffs are under attack by the right-wing Angela Merkel government, which wants to hand over renewable energy to large corporations.

      The anti-nuclear leg of the renewable energy transition came out of protest. It was born out of a struggle against a nuclear power plant begun in the early 1970s.

      By the time the plant’s construction was stopped in 1977, the anti-nuclear movement had organised a 10-month occupation by 20,000-30,000 people at the construction site. The victory sparked similar protests across the country.

  • Finance
    • Postal Workers To Rally Against TPP Tuesday

      The 200,000-member American Postal Workers Union (APWU) is holding its biennial convention in Orlando this week. As part of that convention, there will be a rally to publicize opposition to the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). The rally will take place Tuesday, August 23 at 3:30 pm beginning in the Hemisphere Ballroom of Orlando’s Dolphin Hotel.

    • From the destruction of Greece to democracy in Europe

      In protesting the Treaty of Versailles ending World War I, John Maynard Keynes wrote: “The policy . . . of depriving the lives of millions of human beings, of depriving a whole nation of happiness should be abhorrent and detestable — abhorrent and detestable, even if it were possible, even if it enriched ourselves, even if it did not sow the decay of the whole civilized life of Europe.”

      Last year’s third bailout of Greece, imposed by Europe and the International Monetrary Fund, does to Greece what Versailles did to Germany: It strips assets to satisfy debts. Germany lost its merchant marine, its rolling stock, its colonies, and its coal; Greece has lost its seaports, its airports — the profitable ones — and is set to sell off its beaches, the public asset that is a uniquely Greek glory. Private businesses are being forced into bankruptcy to make way for European chains; private citizens are being forced into foreclosure on their homes. It’s a land grab.

    • Is the TPP falling apart? Let’s take a look at where the 12 nations are at

      As the ratification fight intensifies, we’re watching closely as the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) winds its way through national legislatures across the globe. So grab your popcorn, and let’s take a look at where the TPP stands in each country yet to ratify.

      United States

      In addition to opposition from both major U.S. presidential candidates, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, the TPP recently faced two significant setbacks as Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi came out against the deal and House Speaker Paul Ryan deemed it pointless to even bring it up during the Lame Duck session of Congress later this year.

      However, President Obama is convinced he’s “got the better argument,” for this “political football” and is continuing to push hard for TPP ratification, as claims abound that a failure to do so could have costly consequences for the U.S. as a power in the Asian-Pacific region and in the eyes of its partners. He recently put Congress on notice that the TPP is coming, so it looks like we’ve a major fight ahead of us this fall.

    • Race and Class Gap Widening: Katrina Pain Index 2016 by the Numbers

      Summary: Hurricane Katrina hit eleven years ago. Population of the City of New Orleans is down by over 95,000 people from 484,674 in 2000 to 389,617 in 2015. Almost all this loss of people is in the African American community. Child poverty is up, double the national average. The gap between rich and poor in New Orleans is massive, the largest in the country. The economic gap between well off whites and low income African Americans is widening. Despite receiving $76 billion in assistance after Katrina, it is clear that poor and working people in New Orleans, especially African Americans, got very little of that help. Here are the numbers.

    • The average American family had the same amount of wealth in 2013 as it did in 1989

      The analysis shows the wealthiest 10 percent of Americans now hold three-quarters of the nation’s wealth, up from two-thirds in 1989, and a three percentage-point increase from the start of the recession. Most Americans found themselves with less wealth in 2013 than Americans of a similar age had in 1989; the only age group doing better than its counterparts from a quarter-century ago was senior citizens.

      The report was commissioned at the request of Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, who made inequality a central theme of his run for the Democratic presidential nomination this year. In a statement, he said the analysis “makes clear that since the 1980s there has been an enormous transfer of wealth from the middle class and the poor to the wealthiest people in this country.”

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics
    • Stoking Russia Panic for Partisan Gain Will Have a Long-Term Price for Peace

      Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein doesn’t have a show at all, let alone on RT. She once attended a function hosted by RT, which, by our current standards of liberal discourse, makes her a Kremlin agent, but the fact that such a demonstrably false statement could be made on cable news to thousands of people without anyone bothering to correct it shows how easy Russia panic is to stoke.

      Earlier in the segment, Nance made the claim that “someone” in Trump’s campaign “may” be an “agent of Russia,” citing a recent report in the Financial Times (8/19/16) alleging that Trump’s former campaign manager Paul Manafort’s former translator “may” have “links” to Russian intelligence.

      The irony, of course, is that Nance himself has far more recent and better documented ties to US intelligence, but MSNBC feels no need to convince viewers he is not a CIA plant spreading disinformation.

      Nance had a hot tip, offered in smarmy “insider” tones: “Here’s a bit of strategic intelligence for you. Russia is doing a military massing of forces in Crimea in what appears to be an ‘October Surprise.’” That’s correct, an MSNBC contributor is openly speculating Russia will invade Ukraine for the express purposes of influencing the US elections.

      [...]

      Asking questions about Trump’s links to overseas money is entirely fair and above board (as are questions about Clinton’s ties to foreign funders). But to give the Trump charges more moral urgency, liberal pundits are dusting off old Cold War panic and playing up the reach, scope and sinister motives of Russia.

      The effects of this, if and when Clinton takes the White House, will be hard to downplay. How can the US negotiate the end of the Syrian conflict or the Ukrainian crisis if the public, even MSNBC-watching liberals, views Russia as irredeemably aggressive and incapable of ever being a US “friend”? In the interest of short-term partisan gain, pundits on America’s nominally liberal cable network are damaging the prospects of normalizing relations with Russia for years to come.

    • Let them debate

      Before 1988 the non-partisan League of Women Voters was the sponsor of presidential debates. Before that year’s debates between Republican George H.W. Bush and Democrat Michael Dukakis, however, the League pulled out.

      The candidates, the League claimed, had entered into deal deciding how the debates would unfold, including which candidates would be allowed and who would get to ask the questions. They wanted no part of that.

      Stepping into the void to decide the rules was the Commission on Presidential Debates, which has run all the presidential debates since. They are comprised of Democrats and Republicans. Essentially, the candidates are still deciding the rules.

      And to the surprise of no one, Democrats and Republicans are doing their best to keep other parties out, forcing Americans to choose between them. This year both the Republican and Democratic candidates are hugely unpopular, setting new records for unfavorable ratings. To many Americans, it is truly a choice of the lesser evil.

    • Emails threaten to shadow Clinton through Election Day

      The fallout over Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server appears certain to dog her until Election Day, after a federal judge ordered the State Department to accelerate its production of nearly 15,000 previously-unreleased emails uncovered by the FBI.

      The State Department is under intense pressure from Republicans to release the full set before Nov. 8.

      But sorting through all 14,900 documents is a gargantuan task. The first batch likely won’t be released until mid-October — just weeks before Americans head to the polls.

      It’s also not clear what the emails contain. They weren’t in the original trove of 30,000 documents that Clinton voluntarily turned over to the State Department in 2014. And their release could put her on the defense in the critical final stretch of the election.

      The revelation of the thousands of additional documents dovetailed with Monday’s release of another set of emails that exposed uncomfortably close ties between Clinton’s staff and the Clinton Foundation during her tenure as secretary of State.

      It was only the latest development in a long controversy Clinton has struggled to move beyond.

    • Clinton e-mail service providers served subpoenas by House, Senate

      Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas), chairman of the House Science and Technology Committee, has sent subpoenas to three companies that provided services related to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s private e-mail server. The subpoena seeks information on how secure the server was and whether it was protected within the guidelines set by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) for systems used by government employees. Smith’s subpoenas were supported by Senator Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), the chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee.

      The subpoenas were sent to executives of the data security firm Datto, SECNAP Network Security, and the ISP and managed services provider Platte River Networks. Datto’s SIRIS disaster recovery service was used to back up the e-mail server hosting ClintonEmail.com, and SECNAP provided its Cloudjacket managed intrusion detection and prevention service to the Clinton server. Platte River Networks apparently managed the server for at least part of the period that Clinton and her staff used e-mail accounts on it while at the State Department. All three companies had previously declined to provide information to Smith’s committee voluntarily.

    • Hillary Clinton’s Latest Email Scapegoat: Colin Powell

      Hillary Clinton has struggled for months to find a satisfactory explanation for why she chose to use a private email server and a personal email address while she was secretary of state, a choice that FBI Director James Comey described as resulting in “extremely careless” handling of classified information. Publicly, none of her excuses have met with much success.

    • Democrats are kidding themselves: The House is out of reach, period [Ed: mentioned before, reposted]

      Hillary Clinton has put the Electoral College into checkmate. She’s closer to Donald Trump in many red states like Kansas and Texas than he is to her in key swing states.

      As her lead swells, naturally, fired-up Democrats and a restless media have turned their attention to a more exciting story: Can Democrats retake the House of Representatives? But the outcome there is not really in doubt, either.

      It’s not going to happen. Democratic House candidates will likely get many more votes than Republican ones — as they did in 2012, when Democrats received 1.4 million more votes nationwide, but Republicans maintained a 234-201 advantage. Indeed, Trump is more likely to rebound in swing states than Democrats are to capture the 30 congressional seats they need to pry the speaker’s gavel from Paul Ryan.
      Even if Hillary Clinton wins the presidency in a landslide, there are simply not enough competitive districts remaining to give the Democrats any chance at winning the House.

    • Latest Hillary Email Scandal Revelation

      Hillary lied about not having classified State Department material on her personal home server. She lied about turning over to the State Department all emails relating to agency business.

      On Monday, the FBI announced discovery of 15,000 previously undisclosed emails. Some are personal. Others show foreign officials sought favors in return for large Clinton Foundation donations.

      Judicial Watch (JW) president Tom Fitton asked “(w)hen will State release them? It looks like the State Department is trying to slow-roll the release of the records. They’ve had them for at least a month, and we still don’t know when we’re going to get them.”

    • Donald Trump’s Odd Pitch for the Black Vote: Wooing With Insults

      Donald Trump has a problem. He is polling as low as 1 percent among African-American voters nationwide, and in the key swing states of Ohio and Pennsylvania, he has earned an astonishing 0 percent of the black vote.

      So what’s Trump to do? Make a bold play for the black vote? Yes.

      But here’s the problem—the same problem that has earned him his meager support from black voters: The words of appeal he speaks drip with his deep contempt for black people.

      The heart of his new pitch to the African-American community is this: “You live in your poverty, your schools are no good, you have no jobs, 58 percent of your youth is unemployed. What the hell do you have to lose?”

      When I heard him speak these words, I was astonished at how quickly an appeal for votes could devolve into an insult. Frankly, I felt more than insulted—I felt oddly traumatized, like I had heard these words before. Then it hit me: the memory of the scene from “The Color Purple,” where Celie (Whoopi Goldberg) finally decides she’s had enough abuse, but Albert (Danny Glover) won’t let her go without one last “appeal.”

    • Photo Op
    • Trump’s New Billionaire Backer Also Funds Huge Stockpile of Human Urine

      The New York Times, Wall Street Journal and Washington Post have all noticed that Robert Mercer, co-CEO of the giant hedge fund Renaissance Technologies, has emerged as a key backer of Donald Trump.

      Mercer, who first spent over $10 million trying to make Ted Cruz president, just gave $2 million to a Super PAC supporting Trump. Mercer is also a top investor in the Breitbart News Network. According to the Post, Mercer’s daughter Rebekah nudged Trump to bring in Stephen Bannon, Breitbart’s executive chairman, to run his campaign.

      But here’s what the mainstream media won’t tell you: Robert Mercer and his daughter have also funded a gigantic stockpile of human urine in Oregon.

    • A Clinton Family Value: ‘Humanitarian’ War

      The current debate over the future of U.S. foreign policy is largely over whether the U.S. should continue its self-anointed role as the policeman of the world, or whether it might be wise for the next administration to put, in the words of Donald J. Trump, “America First.”

      On the other hand, Hillary Clinton has repeatedly called for a more active U.S. foreign policy. The 2016 election is shaping up to be, among other things, a battle between the inarticulate isolationism of Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton’s liberal interventionism. Hers is an approach which came into vogue during the administration of her husband.

    • Could a New York Times Exposé Help Level the Playing Field for Advocates in the Press?

      In its recent series “Think Tanks Inc.,” the New York Times exposed the deep financial ties between corporations and think tanks, outlining how corporate donors reaped influence and rewards from such “mutually beneficial” relationships. As someone who has worked in Washington, D.C. for 15 years in communications roles, and in corporate communications and PR prior to that, this is not surprising to me. Every piece of research or analysis that comes from an organization — whether it’s a company, a non-profit, or even a government entity — puts forth an agenda.

    • No Need to Build The Donald’s Wall, It’s Built

      At the federal courthouse, Ignacio Sarabia asks the magistrate judge, Jacqueline Rateau, if he can explain why he crossed the international boundary between the two countries without authorization. He has already pleaded guilty to the federal misdemeanor commonly known as “illegal entry” and is about to receive a prison sentence. On either side of him are eight men in the same predicament, all still sunburned, all in the same ripped, soiled clothes they were wearing when arrested in the Arizona desert by agents of the U.S. Border Patrol.

      Once again, the zero tolerance border enforcement program known as Operation Streamline has unfolded just as it always does here in Tucson, Arizona. Close to 60 people have already approached the judge in groups of seven or eight, their heads bowed submissively, their bodies weighed down by shackles and chains around wrists, waists, and ankles. The judge has handed out the requisite prison sentences in quick succession — 180 days, 60 days, 90 days, 30 days.

    • Belted by Trump

      I wondered about confronting Mr. Trump with my concerns and imagined his “customer service” skills. First, he would blame and then insult me for putting on weight over the past few years. He might even insult me with a short person joke or two just for good measure despite being totally unrelated to the belt problem. Then I would be berated for being so stupid as to buy a product with his name on it and expecting any type of quality or satisfaction (I do deserve that one). The whole experience would be a “gotcha” moment, where like other hucksters, once the money changes hands, you are stuck with the product, like it or not. Those of us with marketplace expectations of fair play, quality merchandise and honest representation of the product are easy pickings for con artists like him.

  • Censorship/Free Speech
    • Sony Apparently Issuing Takedowns To Facebook For News Articles About PS4 Slim Leak

      Recently, Sony had let it be known that it would soon be announcing some new offerings for its PlayStation 4 console. While most of the media coverage had focused on what is suspected to be a new, more powerful version of the console, a leak this week instead revealed a different console offering, consisting of a newly slimmed down form factor PlayStation 4 with a slightly redesigned controller. As an owner of a PS4, I can join others’ interest in this design, with the original console being somewhat bulky. I can also join others in having only a mild bit of surprise as a reaction, given that Microsoft had already announced a slimmed down version of its Xbox product, and given that Sony has done this with previous versions of the console as well.

      But I was slightly surprised to learn that Sony has apparently been setting its lawyers on spooking gaming media sites and taking down news articles from social media accounts about the leak. Reports of the latter have just started coming in.

    • Think Tank That First Proposed SOPA Now Claims ‘Proof’ That SOPA Would Have Been Great

      Oh boy. The Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF) is a DC-based think tank that, from it’s name, you might think would promote things that are important for innovation. And yet, this misleadingly named think tank has been on the wrong side of almost every major tech issue over the last few years — perhaps because a large segment of its funding comes from anti-technology industries, like the entertainment industry and the large telco/broadband providers. This is the same organization that argued that net neutrality was bad, that kicking people off the internet for piracy was a good idea, that the US gov’t should encourage countries to censor the internet and, most recently, that broadband companies charging more to not track your every move is “pro-consumer.”

      But perhaps the pinnacle of bullshit policy proposals from ITIF was that it was the organization (again, funded by the entertainment industry) that first proposed the basic framework of site blocking as a response to copyright infringement, back in 2009. The basis of that proposal was then turned into SOPA, leading ITIF to take a victory lap for creating what it believed was such a good law.

      Of course, you know how that all went down. After actual technologists pointed out how problematic the ITIF approach to site blocking would be, and the public spoke up, the bill went nowhere. And ITIF is basically the sorest of sore losers. Last fall, ITIF published a bogus snarky “report” insisting that it’s original SOPA plan for DNS blocking “did not break the internet.” This, of course, conveniently misstates what was meant by “breaking the internet” when tech experts like Paul Vixie explained the problems with SOPA. It wasn’t that the overall internet would just stop working or that fewer people would use it, but rather than basic ways in which the internet is expected to function (I reach out to this DNS entry, I get back the proper response) would fail, and that would open up opportunities for serious mischief, from man in the middle attacks to breaking how certain security protocols work.

    • Peter Thiel’s Lawyer Now Sending Questionable Defamation Threat Letters To Media On Behalf Of Melania Trump

      Charles Harder is the California lawyer who likely will forever be known as “Peter Thiel’s lawyer” after Thiel helped set up his own law firm with the “focal point” of hunting for any lawsuit that might destroy Gawker. It appears that Thiel is happy to share his pet lawyer with his new best buddy, Donald Trump, or Trump’s wife, Melania. On Monday the UK’s Daily Mail (not exactly known for its accuracy in reporting) received a threat letter from Harder, representing Melania Trump, claiming that its recent article on Melania was defamatory.

      I’m not exactly sure where Mr. Harder is looking to sue but, if it’s in the US, it’s difficult to see how the article reaches the level of defamation by any stretch of the imagination. Melania Trump is, obviously, a public figure and, under US law, for a news report to be defamatory it needs to not only be incorrect and harmful but also published “with actual malice” — meaning that the Daily Mail would have known that the published statements of fact were false, or they had a reckless disregard for the truth. Reading through the original Daily Mail article, I don’t see how that could possibly be the case. The supposed “bombshell” claims in the piece are statements from a couple of different sources alleging that Melania was an escort when she first came to NY (and that may be how she met Donald in the first place). But the Mail is actually (somewhat surprisingly, given its reputation), quite careful with those statements, pointing out that they came from a book, but also noting that there’s little evidence to back them up. It also points to a Slovenian magazine article claiming that the modelling agency Melania worked for was actually an escort service, but the Mail only notes that the magazine said this, and then gets a quote from the guy who ran the modelling agency saying (vehemently) that the story wasn’t true.

    • Ece Temelkuran: Turkey’s drive to make theatre “suitable”

      In 2013, the Ministry of Culture began to evaluate its subsidies to private theatres under the criterion of being “suitable with regard to public decency”. This enforcement arose as part of the Turkey Art Association (TÜSAK), which was put forward in a bill advocating the audition and support of art associations affiliated with the state. In this way, the legal foundation for state-imposed censorship was laid.

      For the evaluation of private theatre companies’ grant requests to the Ministry of Culture, submission of the play’s script was made obligatory. Shakespeare’s Macbeth was removed from the State Theatre repertoire in 2014.

    • Cloudflare Faces Lawsuit For Assisting Pirate Sites

      In recent months CloudFlare has been called out repeatedly for offering its services to known pirate sites, including The Pirate Bay. These allegations have now resulted in the first lawsuit after adult entertainment publisher ALS Scan filed a complaint against CloudFlare at a California federal court.

    • How censored is China’s first Tibetan-language search engine? It omits the Dalai Lama’s website

      China launched its first Tibetan-language search engine this week, called Yongzin. It aims to be a “unified portal for all major Tibetan-language websites in China,” according to the state news agency Xinhua.

      Yongzin means “master” or “teacher” in Tibetan. It is the world’s first search engine solely in the Tibetan language, and also the one and only choice for China’s seven million Tibetan people, unless they use a VPN to jump China’s Great Firewall. Chinese search engines like Baidu and Sogou don’t search in Tibetan, while Google, which does, has been blocked in China for years.

      Yongzin features sections for news, images, videos, and music just like Google, and even has a logo with similar colors and designs to Google’s, which was quickly noticed.

    • Some questions for those who are cheering Gawker’s demise

      Gawker.com, the pioneering and controversial media blog, officially died yesterday. It was killed by billionaire Peter Thiel in his successful quest to bankrupt Gawker Media Group through a series of lawsuits he funded – most notably wrestler Hulk Hogan, who sued over the publication of a portion of his sex tape four years ago.

      Out of all the controversial topics that we’ve tweeted about at Freedom of the Press Foundation – and there have been a lot – by far the most negative response we’ve received is from Gawker critics who are happy to see the website die.

      The Hogan case certainly brings up a lot of tangled questions about the tension between privacy and free speech and it’s understandable that many people have found Gawker’s decision to publish a clip of Hulk Hogan’s sex tape deplorable. (It’s also true that Gawker did a lot of exemplary investigative journalism). But condemning a specific story and cheering the demise of a media organization at the hands of the legal system are two very different things.

    • Bogus Defamation Lawsuit With Fake Defendant Results In Negative Reviews Of Dentist Being Taken Down

      Earlier this year, complaint site Pissed Consumer noticed a disturbing new trend in the dark art of reputation management: unnamed rep management firms were using a couple of lawyers to run bogus defamation lawsuits through a local court to obtain court orders demanding the removal of “defamatory” reviews.

      What was unusual wasn’t the tactic itself. Plenty of bogus defamation lawsuits have been filed over negative reviews. It’s that these lawsuits were resolved so quickly. Within a few weeks of the initial filing, the lawsuit would be over. Each lawsuit improbably skipped the discovery process necessary to uncover anonymous reviewers and proceeded straight to judgment with a (bogus) confessional statement from each “reviewer” handed in by the “defamed” entity’s lawyer for the judge’s approval. Once these were rubber stamped by inattentive judges, the lawyers served Google with court orders to delist the URLs.

      To date, no one has uncovered the reputation management firm behind the bogus lawsuits. In each case, the companies purporting to be represented by these lawyers were shells — some registered as businesses on the same day their lawsuits were filed.

      It’s one thing to do this sort of thing from behind the veil of quasi-anonymity afforded by the use of shell companies. It’s quite another to file a bogus lawsuit with an apparently forged signature (of the supposed defamer) under your own name. But that’s exactly what appears to have happened, as detailed in this post by Public Citizen’s Paul Alan Levy.

    • Why are GitHub and WordPress.com censoring content?

      The Great Equalizer. The Great Democratizer. Many such phrases have been used to describe the internet over the years—mostly focusing on the rapid dissemination of uncensored information.

      Even social media sites (such as Twitter) have played critical roles in real-world revolutions. The ability for the average person to spread ideas, news and information—without corporate or government censorship—has brought about massive power and freedom to the people of the world.

      But what happens when the key websites and services—the ones we rely upon to spread those messages—censor that content? That’s a bad thing, right? Well, this seems to be happening a lot recently, especially in relation to leaked content (regardless of the type of content or the source from which it originated).

      GitHub, a service primarily used for open source and free culture projects, recently completely censored a repository that contained information proving the NSA developed malware targeting numerous systems.

      Maybe there’s a legitimate reason for this. But if there is, GitHub is staying quiet. I reached out to GitHub’s press department for comment one week ago, and as of today, I have not received any response of any kind.

      And WordPress.com, the company that runs the popular blogging platform, censored content posted by “Guccifer 2” that was potentially damaging to the reputation of the Democratic party.

    • BANNED TOGETHER: A CENSORSHIP CABARET Set for Banned Books Week in NYC

      The Dramatists Legal Defense Fund (“DLDF”) will present “Banned Together: A Censorship Cabaret” as a part of Banned Books Week (September 25-October 1st), the annual celebration of the freedom to read. The performance will take place on September 29th and 30th at 5PM at the Drama Book Shop (250 W 40th St).

      “Banned Together: A Censorship Cabaret” is a celebration of songs and scenes from shows that have been censored or challenged on America’s stages, created to raise awareness around issues of censorship and free expression in the Theater. The performances will feature selections from “Cabaret”, “Chicago”, “Almost, Maine”, “Rent” and “Angels in America,” among other notable works, with contextual commentary by DLDF president John Weidman.

    • Muthambi defends SABC censorship
    • SABC to face music at parliament
    • South African minister faces grilling over SABC crisis
    • Muthambi to explain SABC editorial policy
    • Activists call for Facebook ‘censorship’ change after Korryn Gaines death
    • Facebook censorship of Korryn Gaines police killing puts Zuckerberg in crosshairs
    • Facebook deactivation during fatal police standoff alarms civil rights, consumer activists
    • Why Did You Shut Down Korryn Gaines’ Account? Facebook C.E.O Asked
    • How Facebook censors your posts
    • Facebook and politics’ relationship status: It’s complicated
    • Trolls and spam not welcome in Twitter’s new features
    • Twitter to give everyone ‘quality filter’, letting them mute tweets judged to be bad
    • How to Remove Twitter’s New ‘Quality Filter’ Censorship Setting
    • Twitter has a really good anti-harassment tool
    • Twitter (TWTR) Rolls Out New Feature to Filter Tweets
    • Twitter has a really good anti-harassment tool – and it’s finally available to everyone
    • Twitter ‘quality filter’ works because it’s about news, not social
    • Twitter’s ‘Quality Filter’ Gets Rid Of Trolls, But There’s A Major Catch
    • Twitter Unveils Features to Filter Tweets, Notifications
    • Twitter Updates Quality Filter Tool for All
    • Quality Filter Comes To Twitterati’s Rescue
    • Twitter adds more user control with latest features
    • Now Ignore Trolls on Twitter [Ed: Just the start: expect on by default, expansion of scope of “trolls”, later no option to toggle it off, Like UK ISPs…]
    • Twitter’s New “Quality Filter” Addresses Abuse on the Platform, Also Try New Notification Settings [Ed: Twitter has already done so-called 'quality filtering' for a while but called it shadow-banning. Suppression of particular ideas.]
  • Privacy/Surveillance
    • Pokémon Go loses its luster, sheds more than 10 million users [Ed: Nintendo's experiment with crowd-sourced CCTV (with microphone) and hotspot collector is rapidly failing]

      It had almost 45 million daily users in July, but this figure appears to have sunk by more than 12 million since the start of August, to just over 30 million said to be playing Pokémon Go. Further decline is expected, as downloads, engagement, and the time users spend on the app have all also visibly flopped, according to data provided by Sensor Tower, SurveyMonkey, and Apptopia.

      Bloomberg, which saw the raw data, reported that other major apps such as Twitter, Facebook, and Snapchat “can breathe a sigh of relief” that Pokémon Go is finally wobbling, as the game’s popularity had apparently been costing them considerable amounts of users.

      “Given the rapid rise in usage of the Pokémon Go app since the launch in July, investors have been concerned that this new user experience has been detracting from time spent on other mobile focused apps,” said Axiom Capital Management analyst Victor Anthony.

    • Encryption under fire in Europe as France and Germany call for decrypt law

      A fresh chapter of the crypto wars looks to be opening up in Europe, after the French and German interior ministers took to a podium yesterday to lobby for a law change that would enable courts to demand that Internet companies decrypt data to help further criminal investigations.

      So, in other words, to effectively push for end-to-end encryption to be outlawed. Yes we’ve been here before — many times.

      Giving a joint press conference in Paris yesterday with German’s Thomas de Maizière, France’s interior minister Bernard Cazeneuve called for the European Commission to change the law to afford security agencies the ability to access encrypted data.

      They want their proposals discussed by the European Commission at a meeting next month.

      The context here is that France and Germany have suffered a spate of terrorist attacks over the past year, including a co-ordinated attack in Paris in November 2015 that killed 130; a July 2016 attack in Nice where a truck driver ploughed into crowds celebrating Bastille Day; and a stabbing in a church in Northern France that killed an elderly priest.

    • Secret Cameras Record Baltimore’s Every Move From Above

      The sky over the Circuit Court for Baltimore City on June 23 was the color of a dull nickel, and a broad deck of lowering clouds threatened rain. A couple dozen people with signs—“Justice 4 Freddie Gray” and “The whole damn system is guilty as hell”—lingered by the corner of the courthouse, watching the network TV crews rehearse their standups. Sheriff’s officers in bulletproof vests clustered around the building’s doors, gripping clubs with both hands.

      Inside, a judge was delivering the verdict in the case of Caesar Goodson, the only Baltimore police officer facing a murder charge for the death of Freddie Gray. In April 2015, Gray’s neck was broken in the back of a police van, and prosecutors had argued that Goodson purposefully drove the vehicle recklessly, careening through the city, to toss Gray around.

    • At 25, the World Wide Web Is Still a Long Way From Reality [Ed: 24/7 tracking, camera/s, microphone]

      In recent years, the web has lost some of its mojo. It hasn’t quite lived up the lofty ideals laid down by Berners-Lee and so many of his disciples. Facebook makes 84 percent of its money from its mobile app—not the web. Tinder, Snapchat, and many other newer apps aren’t even available on the web.

    • AshleyMadison security protocols violated privacy laws, watchdog says

      AshleyMadison used inadequate privacy and security technology while marketing itself as a discreet and secure way for consenting adults to have affairs, the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada says.

      In a report Tuesday, the privacy watchdog says the Toronto-based company violated numerous privacy laws in Canada and abroad in the era before a massive data breach exposed confidential information from their clients to hackers.

      The hack stole correspondence, identifying details and even credit card information from millions of the site’s users. At the time of the breach in July 2015, AshleyMadison claimed to have 36 million users and took in more than $100 million in annual revenue.

    • Poor privacy at Ashley Madison site at time of hack

      The dating website Ashley Madison was in violation of Australian and Canadian privacy laws at the time when it suffered a security breach last year.

      Australian and Canadian authorities carried out a joint investigation into the breach and made this finding in a report which has been released today.

      Avid Life Media, the owner of the website, has been asked to enhance privacy safeguards, amend information retention practices, improve information accuracy and increase transparency.

      ALM has signed an enforceable undertaking with the Australian Information Commissioner to implement these measures.

    • Facebook can guess your political preferences — here’s how to see how it’s categorized you

      This is yet another case of Facebook knowing way more about you than you think.

      The social network is categorizing its users as liberal, conservative, or moderate. This information is valuable for campaign managers and advertisers, especially in the midst of election season.

      For some, Facebook is able to come to conclusions about your political leanings easily, if you mention a political party on your page. For those that are less open about politics on social media, Facebook makes assumptions based on pages you like.

      As The New York Times explained, if you like Ben and Jerry’s Facebook page and most of the other people that like that page identify as liberal, Facebook might assume you, too, are liberal.

      I’m not too politically active on Facebook, and I was curious to see how it categorized me. To my surprise, I am “very liberal,” when I was expecting “moderate” or “conservative.”

    • Apple Acquires Personal Health Data Startup Gliimpse

      Apple’s ambitions in the health sector continue to expand, with its digital health team making its first known acquisition—personal health data startup Gliimpse, Fast Company has learned.

      Silicon Valley-based Gliimpse has built a personal health data platform that enables any American to collect, personalize, and share a picture of their health data. The company was started in 2013 by Anil Sethi and Karthik Hariharan. Sethi is a serial entrepreneur who has spent the past decade working with health startups, after taking his company Sequoia Software public in 2000. He got his start as a systems engineer at Apple in the late 1980s.

      The acquisition happened earlier this year, but Apple has been characteristically quiet about it. The company has now confirmed the purchase, saying: “Apple buys smaller technology companies from time to time, and we generally do not discuss our purpose or plans.”

    • First on CNN: FBI investigating Russian hack of New York Times reporters, others

      Hackers thought to be working for Russian intelligence have carried out a series of cyber breaches targeting reporters at The New York Times and other US news organizations, according to US officials briefed on the matter.

      The intrusions, detected in recent months, are under investigation by the FBI and other US security agencies. Investigators so far believe that Russian intelligence is likely behind the attacks and that Russian hackers are targeting news organizations as part of a broader series of hacks that also have focused on Democratic Party organizations, the officials said.

      The Times said email services for employees are outsourced to Google. CNN requested comment from Google but didn’t receive comment. The FBI declined to comment.

      Times spokeswoman Eileen Murphy said the company had seen “no evidence” that any breaches had occurred.

    • Russia’s Hackathon Continues, Targeting The New York Times And Other News Agencies
    • The Real Russian Mole Inside NSA [Ed: The latest Rubbophobia from ‘ex’ NSA staff John “Watch My Dick” Schindler]
    • Former NSA analyst: Russia ‘can listen in on anything it wants’
    • Hints suggest an insider helped the NSA “Equation Group” hacking tools leak
    • A Second Snowden at the NSA? Here’s What We Know
    • Juniper Confirms Shadow Brokers Firewall Implants
    • Juniper confirms leaked NSA exploits affect its firewalls
    • NSA leak: Juniper Networks confirms its firewalls are vulnerable to leaked ‘Equation Group’ exploits
    • NSA-linked Cisco exploit poses bigger threat than previously thought
    • Hacking the hackers: everything you need to know about Shadow Brokers’ attack on the NSA
    • Why Twitter Was the Platform of Choice for Ripping Apart the NSA Dump
    • Snowden’s Long Shadow Darkens NSA’s Reputation
    • Not Even NSA Can Keep Software Exploits Secret
    • Who Are The NSA’s Elite Hackers?
    • A Peek Inside The Matrix: What The Shadow Brokers Affair Means For A Cyber Future
    • Your ‘Smart’ Power Outlets Are Now Botnets Thanks To The Internet Of Broken Things

      Making fun of the Internet of Things has become a sort of national pastime, made possible by a laundry list of companies jumping into the space without the remotest idea what they’re actually doing. When said companies aren’t busy promoting some of the dumbest ideas imaginable, they’re making it abundantly clear that the security of their “smart,” connected products is absolutely nowhere to be found. And while this mockery is well-deserved, it’s decidedly less funny once you realize these companies are introducing thousands of new attack vectors in every home and business network the world over.

      Overshadowed by the lulz is the width and depth of incompetence on display. Thermostats that fail to heat your home. Door locks that don’t protect you. Refrigerators that leak Gmail credentials. Children’s toys that listen to your kids’ prattle, then (poorly) secure said prattle in the cloud. Cars that could, potentially, result in your death. The list goes on and on, and it grows exponentially by the week.

  • Civil Rights/Policing
    • With Voting Rights at Risk Across US, International Monitors Called to Help

      With the right to vote “more vulnerable now than at any time in the past 50 years,” an American civil rights coalition is calling for an increase in international election monitors during the 2016 election.

      In a letter sent this weekend, the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, comprised of more than 200 national organizations, urged the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) to expand its election monitoring mission in the United States this November.

      The body has sent observers to every U.S. presidential election since 2002 and intends to send 500 observers for 2016.

      However, citing the 2013 gutting of the Voting Rights Act (VRA)—as well as recent news that as a result of the decision in Shelby County v. Holder, the U.S. Justice Department is scaling back its deployment of election observers in 2016—the group wrote “to emphasize that the OSCE’s plans to monitor the upcoming U.S. presidential election will be more essential than ever before and to encourage the OSCE to greatly expand its election monitoring mission in the United States for this election.”

    • FBI Apparently Made Darkweb Child Porn Site Faster During Its Hosting Of Seized Server

      Another FBI/Playpen/NIT case has moved to the point of a motion to dismiss. The lawyer for defendant Steven Chase is arguing the government should abandon its prosecution because the FBI’s activities during its conversion of child porn site Playpen into its own Rule 41-flouting watering hole were “outrageous.” What did the FBI do (besides traveling beyond — far beyond — the warrant’s jurisdiction to strip Tor users of their anonymity) to merit this accusation? It made Playpen a better, faster child porn website. Joseph Cox reports for Motherboard…

    • Lawyer: Dark Web Child Porn Site Ran Better When It Was Taken Over by the FBI

      In February 2015, the FBI took control of Playpen, the largest dark web child pornography site at the time. But instead of shutting the site down, the agency kept it going for just under two weeks, in order to deliver malware to its visitors in the hope of identifying suspects in its investigation.

      Newly filed court exhibits now suggest that the site performed substantially better while under the FBI’s control, with users commenting on the improvements. The defense for the man accused of being the original administrator of Playpen claims that these improvements led to the site becoming even more popular.

      “The FBI distributed child pornography to viewers and downloaders worldwide for nearly two weeks, until at least March 4, 2015, even working to improve the performance of the website beyond its original capability,” Peter Adolf, an assistant federal defender in the Western District of North Carolina, writes in a motion to have his client’s indictment thrown out.

    • What It Looks Like When The Terrorists Win: The JFK Stampede Over Fans Cheering For Usain Bolt

      We’ve talked a great deal here about what a theater of security our national airports have become. Far from accomplishing anything having to do with actually keeping anyone safe, those in charge of our airports have instead decided to engage in the warm fuzzies, attempting to calm an easily-spooked traveling public through bureaucracy and privacy invasion. The hope is that if everyone suffers the right level of inconvenience and humiliation, we’ll all feel safe enough traveling.

      But it’s quite easy for the 4th wall in this security theater to be broken by the right sort of circumstance. In case you missed it, one such circumstance happened recently at JFK Airport. The fallout was described in a first-person account in New York Magazine by David Wallace-Wells.

    • ‘Assange kill attempt’? Unknown man climbs Ecuador’s London embassy, sheltering WikiLeaks chief

      Social media users are in a panic after WikiLeaks said an unknown man had climbed the Ecuadorian embassy in London where Julian Assange has been staying for four years. Users suggested that it was probably an assassination attempt, “ordered by Clinton.”

      “…At 2:47am an unknown man scaled the side wall [and the] window of the Ecuadorian embassy in London; fled after being caught by security,” a statement from WikiLeaks said early Monday morning.

    • ‘Cardboard justice’ | Youth groups stand against killings

      Hundreds of students spoke out against the rising number of killings, with the continuation of the counterinsurgency program Oplan Bayanihan, now coupled with President Duterte’s war on drugs.

      Youth groups Anakbayan and League of Filipino Students (LFS) led simultaneous candle-lighting protests on August 11, at the University of the Philippines (UP) Diliman and Manila campuses, Polytechnic University of the Philippines in Sta. Mesa, Manila and the University of Sto. Tomas in España, Manila.

    • NBN leaks: AFP carries out raid at parliament house

      The Australian Federal Police has conducted a raid at the Department of Parliamentary Services at Parliament House to try and find out the source of leaks that led to a number of stories about the NBN.

      AFP personnel met staff of shadow special minister of state Stephen Conroy after they arrived at parliament house at about 10am. The meeting took place in a room of the basement of parliament.

      Media personnel were asked to leave a section of the basement, but were later allowed to film AFP personnel as they left the area. The AFP officers are said to be looking at the email records and logs of Labor staffers, in order to try and track the media they were in contact with.

      In February, there were claims in the mainstream media that the Coalition multi-technology mix broadband network faced mounting delays and rising costs.

    • Passengers back Jeremy Corbyn’s claim that Virgin Train was ‘ram-packed’

      Other people on the train have however come forward to say it was in fact very busy, at least at the start of the journey.

      One passenger, Keren Harrison, posted a picture of herself on the train with Mr Corbyn and gave an account of events that contradicted the company’s version.

      “I was on said train and it was very busy!” she said. “He got seat about 45 mins in when staff started shuffling people around!”

      She added in another tweet that the train was “chock-a”.

      Separately, Charles Anthony, a Corbyn-supporting video journalist who shot the original film also released new footage and disputed the company’s account.

    • Hijab approved as uniform option by Scotland Police
    • French police make woman remove clothing on Nice beach following burkini ban

      Photographs have emerged of armed French police confronting a woman on a beach and making her remove some of her clothing as part of a controversial ban on the burkini.

      Authorities in several French towns have implemented bans on the Burkini, which covers the body and head, citing concerns about religious clothing in the wake of recent terrorist killings in the country.

      The images of police confronting the woman in Nice on Tuesday show at least four police officers standing over a woman who was resting on the shore at the town’s Promenade des Anglais, the scene of last month’s Bastille Day lorry attack.

      After they arrive, she appears to remove a blue long-sleeved tunic, although one of the officers appears to take notes or issue an on-the-spot fine.

    • Nice Officials Say They’ll Sue Internet Users Who Share Photos Of French Fashion Police Fining Women In Burkinis

      This seems pretty ridiculous on all sorts of levels, but never think things are so ridiculous that some politicians can’t make them worse. Guillaume Champeau from the excellent French site Numerama alerts me to the news that the deputy mayor of Nice, Christian Estrosi is threatening to sue those who share these images over social media. Yup, France, a country that claims to pride itself on freedom is not just telling women that they can’t cover themselves up too much on the beach, but that it’s also illegal to report on the police following through on that.

    • In Wake of Burkini Ban, Muslim Women Demand Criminalization of Fat White Men in Speedos

      A French-Muslim group has called for a ban on what it terms “woefully-endowed white walruses terrorizing our kids in public,” alongside the repeal of a string of municipal measures outlawing the burkini in southern France.

      Speaking to reporters yesterday, Dr. Yasmina Al-Hazeemi of France’s Think of the Children! Foundation urged the nation’s parliament to criminalize the tight-fitting male swimsuit, framing the so-called ‘budgie smuggler scourge’ as a public safety crisis: “These obscene bathers are in fact evil terrorists imperiling the mental health of millions,” claimed the Algerian-born pediatrician. “For the sake of our traumatized children and the very soul of our Republic, we must crush this shameless cult of sagging manboobs, shrivelled racoon balls and itsy-bitsy Sarkozian wee wees!”

      The Front for the Supremacy of Stocky Indigenous Speedo Lovers, meanwhile, slammed the proposed ban as “yet another Islamic attack on France’s noble secularism.” “From the beaches of Corsica to the shores of distant Thailand, it’s our natural-born right to let it all hang it, no matter how many millions of juvenile nightmares it may cause,” said FSSIS chair Jean-Paul Le Grosporc, who then blasted Al-Hazeemi’s “slanderous attack on the honor of the Frenchman’s glorious manhood – unlike the dark savages flooding our continent, we natives are growers, not showers!”

    • Mansplaining Science To A Doctor, Cycling To An Olympian

      I have to say — the invention of the word “mansplaining” was something of a relief to me. Finally, there was a word for that weird, creepy thing men do when they assume authority over you when they have none. “You wrote a book? I read a book once. It was green. The thing about writing books is…”

      The word was born from an essay called “Men Explain Things To Me” by Rebecca Solnit. In it, she tells an anecdote where she was at a party when a man, on hearing that she wrote books about the photographer Eadweard Muybridge, told her that she really should read this wonderful new book on Muybridge that he had just read and proceeded to tell her all about this Muybridge guy.

    • NLRB: Graduate Students at Private Universities May Unionize

      In a blow to private institutions and a boon to their graduate student employees, the National Labor Relations Board ruled Tuesday that graduate research and teaching assistants are entitled to collective bargaining under the National Labor Relations Act.

      Graduate student unions at public institutions are common, as students’ collective bargaining status on public campuses is governed by state law. But the NLRB oversees graduate student unions on private campuses. Tuesday’s decision in favor of a graduate student union bid at Columbia University effectively reverses an earlier NLRB ruling against a graduate student union at Brown University, which had been the law of the land since 2004. The decision also overturns a much longer-standing precedent against collective bargaining for externally funded research assistants in the sciences.

      Graduate students at Columbia and elsewhere celebrated Tuesday’s decision, saying they planned to move forward with their union drives. While many professors applauded the decision to recognize students as legitimate workers, other groups described it as reckless, with the potential to transform — for the worse — the relationship between institution and student. Columbia or other universities could move to challenge the ruling in federal court.

      Columbia’s graduate assistants are affiliated with the United Auto Workers, but there are active drives on a number of other campuses affiliated with different unions, including the American Federation of Teachers and Service Employees International Union. The latter was a key player in a wave of recent adjunct faculty union drives.

    • The Blacklist – how to go on the run
  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality
    • One More Time With Feeling: Net Neutrality Didn’t Hurt Broadband Investment In The Slightest

      You’ll recall that ISPs (and the lobbyists, think tanks, politicians, and consultants paid to love them) argued incessantly that if we passed net neutrality rules, investment in broadband infrastructure would grind to a halt, leaving us all weeping gently over our clogged tubes. ISPs like Verizon proudly proclaimed that net neutrality rules would “jeopardize our investment and the development of innovation in Broadband Internet and related services.” ISP-tied think tanks released study after statistically-massaged study claiming that net neutrality (and the reclassification of ISPs as common carriers under Title II) would be utterly catastrophic for the broadband industry and its consumers alike.

      But as time wore on it became abundantly clear that these warnings were the empty prattle of a broken industry, using a thick veneer of bunk science to defend its monopoly over the uncompetitive broadband last mile.

      Since net neutrality was passed there has been absolutely no evidence that a single one of these claims had anything even remotely resembling merit, with broadband expansion pushing forward at full speed, constrained only by the ongoing lack of competition in many markets. We’ve watched as outfits like Google Fiber continue to expand its footprint. We’ve watched as Verizon suddenly promised to deploy fiber to cities long neglected. We’ve watched as Comcast and AT&T rushed to try and keep pace with gigabit investments of their own. In short, nothing changed, and things may have even improved.

  • Intellectual Monopolies
    • Review Of WIPO Development Agenda Implementation: Good Progress But Expectations Unfulfilled

      A group of independent reviewers has found definite progress on implementing the landmark 2007 Development Agenda Recommendations at the World Intellectual Property Organization. But the UN agency needs to elevate the debate, tie in with UN development agencies, create reporting mechanisms, make projects more compatible with local development levels, and detail use of financial and human resources, the reviewers found.

    • Trademarks
      • Little Tree Air Freshener Company Sues Non-Profit For Making Tree Shaped Ornaments

        At the time, we noted how odd it was to take out a full page ad warning people against supposed trademark infringement, and over-claiming its own rights at the same time (e.g., “no matter how you use it.”). So it comes as little surprise that Car-Freshener corporation is a bit of a trademark bully in court. Though, perhaps it’s met its match — and it may result in it losing some trademarks.

        Trademark lawyer Marty Schwimmer, who runs the excellent Trademark Blog, is representing a non-profit organization, Sun Cedar, that has been sued by Car-Freshener for daring to create tree-shaped blocks of wood (cedar!) that smell good. The answers and counterclaims from Sun Cedar is worth the read in full, but we’ll hit a few high points here. Sun Cedar is not just a non-profit, but an organization that tries to train and to employ “at risk” individuals, including those who are homeless, ex-felons and substance abusers to help them get back on their feet. The organization creates objects out of wood, including tree shaped ornaments. It even ran a very successful Kickstarter project last year.

      • And Just Like That, The Dumbest Trademark Suit Over Saying ‘Thank You’ Disappears

        It is with mostly pleasure, but a little bit of sadness, that I am here to inform you, dear reader, that the idiotic trademark lawsuit brought by Citigroup against AT&T because it dared to say “thank you” to its customers is dead. Yes, what started only a couple of months ago as an unintentional test to see just how far a large corporation could twist trademark law out of its useful intentions has been dropped by both parties with prejudice, meaning that no further legal action can be taken on the matter.

        At issue was AT&T including the phrase “thank you” in some of its messaging and branding. Citigroup, as it turns out, somehow got the USPTO to approve a trademark for the phrase “thankyou” and declared that, largely because the two companies had done some co-branding work in the past, customers might be confused by an AT&T ad thanking them for their business into thinking that it has something to do with Citigroup. I read the argument Citigroup made in its filing as to why this confusion was likely, but my brain came to a screeching halt every few sentences, distracted by questions like, “How much can a bank’s lawyers drink during the day?” and “Precisely how many peyote buttons would I have to swallow before ‘thank you’ equalled ‘Citigroup’ in my addled mind?”

    • Copyrights
      • Copyright Group, In Arguing Against FCC’s Set Top Box Proposal, Appears To Argue That VCRs & DVRs Are Also Illegal

        Earlier this month, we wrote about how the Copyright Officer had filed a really bizarre and legally dubious comment with the FCC concerning the FCC’s plan to open up competition in TV set top boxes, ending cable company’s monopoly on those boxes (for which they bring in $21 billion in revenue per year). The FCC’s plan was pretty straightforward — and the cable companies have attacked it on all sides, with the one argument that seems to be sticking is that this plan is somehow an affront to copyright, and would result in piracy. This is blatantly, factually incorrect. The FCC’s plan makes it clear that any system would retain existing technology protection measures against piracy (for better or for worse). If this new system resulted in infringement, it would because there’s infringement on the internet already, not because of these new rules.

        [...]

        Except, if what I’ve bolded above is actually copyright law, then the VCR, the DVR, the MP3 player, photocopiers and much of the very internet itself are inherently against copyright law. But that’s not what courts have found. If you look at the classic Betamax lawsuit, it made it abundantly clear that even when there were license agreements between content providers and TV stations that end users could absolutely record and watch content via an “unlicensed” device, known as the VCR. This just takes the Copyright Office’s ridiculous assertion that copyright holders and ISPs can somehow write fair use out of their agreements for end users, and takes it even further to effectively write the Betamax ruling out of existence and set up a framework that says there can be no fair use in new consumer electronics.

        That’s both wrong and crazy. And, yes, I know that the former Copyright Office boss Ralph Oman has argued that all technology should be considered infringing until Congress says it’s okay, but that’s not the actual law, and it’s incredibly dishonest to suggest it’s the case.

        Here’s the important thing that the Copyright Office and the Copyright Alliance don’t seem to understand (or are willfully ignoring). This content is already licensed. The only people who will get access to it are those who have a legitimate right to access the content from their cable providers. In other words, everything is licensed. There is no “harm” at all. The only issue is that the content can be accessed (by the paying subscribers!) via alternative hardware (which might add some more features, but which will still have the same copy protection). But nothing in this creates any problems for the content creators, because the overall setup is the same. They have licensed the work. The hardware alternatives that may arise may include some additional features, such as recording and such, but that’s well within their legal rights under fair use. The complaint here seems to just be that the Copyright Alliance and the Copyright Office don’t like fair use and don’t want the Betamax standard to exist any more.

        The Copyright Alliance and its funders in the entertainment industry may wish that the VCR were never made legal (even though it was a device that basically saved Hollywood by bringing in massive new markets and revenue streams), but they don’t get to rewrite history and pretend it doesn’t exist.

      • Techdirt Podcast Episode 87: An Interview With Kim Dotcom’s Lawyer

        Ira Rothken is a lawyer on the front lines of many major legal battles relating to copyright and piracy, including defending Megaupload founder Kim Dotcom and, most recently, taking up the defense of Kickass Torrents operator Artem Vaulin. This week, Ira joins us on the podcast to discuss the ins and outs of these and other cases where the entertainment industry has come down hard on consumers and innovators.

      • Singapore Government launches public consultation on major copyright reform

        Singapore is currently engaged in a significant reform of its Copyright Act. In this context, yesterday Government launched a public consultation [open until 24 October 2016, 5 pm GMT+8] to seek feedback on proposed changes to this country’s copyright regime. This is the full consultation paper.

Links 23/8/2016: GNOME 3.22 Beta, Android 7.0 Nougat

Tuesday 23rd of August 2016 06:57:56 PM

Contents GNU/Linux
  • Linux rules the world. Where to next?

    From Android phones to supercomputers to clouds to car, it’s all Linux all the time. Linux is the poster child for the open-source revolution.

    The latest Linux kernel report, Linux kernel development – How fast it is going, who is doing it, what they are doing, and who is sponsoring it, details just how quickly Linux changes. In the last 15 months, more than 3 million lines of code have been added to the Linux kernel. For those of you coding at home, that’s 7.8 changes per hour.

  • Almost open: BIOS and firmware update tips for Linux users

    I suppose I’m lucky in that for more than 10 years my primary work environment has been Linux-based, yet all to often I’ve been forced to dig out a DOS or Windows image because I need to patch some BIOS device firmware. These days I don’t own anything than has a valid Windows license, and even my 2008 white MacBook has spent most of its life running either Ubuntu or Fedora. Luckily most hardware manufacturers have started to provide bootable images for patching system firmware, and for enterprise-grade hardware they even provide Linux-ready tools. In this article, I’ll walk through my recent firmware update on Linux, and I’ll share a few recommendations based on that experience.

    In the consumer/prosumer landscape there has been a shift toward UEFI-based systems for desktops and laptops, and along the way many manufacturers appear to have removed the option for the BIOS to update from a USB Stick. Historically we’d only see firmware updates for enterprise-class spinning rust (hard drives), but many SSD manufacturers are also providing regular firmware updates for consumer-class devices. Whilst we often should stand by the old adage “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” I’m a strong believer when standing up a new environment to make sure all my firmware is current. So begins my journey…

  • THE BIG LIE About Operating Systems

    The desktop also is not locked in. Despite slow progress at times, GNU/Linux is gradually gnawing away at Microsoft’s lock on the desktop. It happened in my schools, in my home, in governments in Europe and a few places around the world. It’s obvious the world can make its own software and does have a complete stack with GNU/Linux.

  • Desktop
    • Desktop Linux Absent from Zemlin’s LinuxCon Pep Rally

      “As all of you may know, Thursday, August 25 is the 25th anniversary of Linux,” he said during the opening portion of the address. “It’s the day when Linus Torvalds, 25 years ago, sent out his note introducing this funny little operating system that wouldn’t amount to much of anything.”

      “Linux at 25 is a big thing,” he added. “Most things in life just don’t last as long and are as enduring as Linux. And Linux has gone so far beyond what anyone who has participated in this community could have ever expected. Linux today really is…the most successful software project in history.”

      After this opening, he pointed to the enormity of the Linux project by citing numbers, like its 53,000 source files and 21 million lines of code, and the fact that each day 10,800 lines of code are added to Linux, 5,300 lines of code removed and 1,800 lines of code modified.

      “This pace is only accelerating,” he said. “Linux now changes seven [or] eight times an hour. There is no single software project by any single person or organization that rivals the breadth, pace, depth and adoption of Linux. What an incredible run.”

      As with any good pep rally, Zemlin gave the fans plenty of reason to be happy to support the home team by pointing to Linux’s wins. Trouble is, all of those wins had to do with making “billions of dollars” — a phrase he used often — for the enterprise.

      “Linux has become the world’s most widely adopted software,” he said and rattled off a list of uses that included high performance computing, weather forecasting, climate modeling, economic modeling, mobile devices and embedded systems. “It runs the global economy. Quite literally, it runs the vast majority of stock exchanges. It runs the vast majority of the Internet and powers things like Google, Facebook, Amazon and much, much more.”

    • Why Google plans to stop supporting your Chromebook after five years

      It’s worth noting that end-of-life doesn’t have to mean the end of useful hardware. If you have the know-how, you can install Linux on your Chromebook to extend its lifespan. Otherwise, users whose Chromebooks are still in fine working order just have to hope that end-of-life notification never comes.

    • EFF slams Microsoft’s ‘blatant disregard’ for user privacy with Windows 10 [Ed: It’s textbook definition of malware]

      THE ELECTRONIC FRONTIER FOUNDATION (EFF) has lashed out at Microsoft over the company’s “blatant disregard” for user privacy with the pushy, data-slurping Windows 10 operating system.

      Following the launch of a petition in June, EFF has heard from thousands of pissed off people who are asked it to take action against Microsoft, and the privacy campaigners are doing just that. EFF is calling on Microsoft to listen to its users, of which more than 6,000 have signed the online petition, and incorporate their complaints into its operating system.

      “Otherwise, Microsoft may find that it has inadvertently discovered just how far it can push its users before they abandon a once-trusted company for a better, more privacy-protective solution,” EFF’s Amul Kalia said in a blog post.

      First on EFF’s radar is Microsoft’s backhanded tactics to get people to upgrade to Windows 10, which we here at the INQUIRER know about all too well.

  • Server
    • How IBM’s LinuxONE Has Evolved For the New Open Source Cloud

      LinuxONE is IBM’s Linux Server. The LinuxONE server runs the major distributions of Linux; SUSE, Red Hat and Canonical’s Ubuntu. The server also runs open source databases like Mongo DB , PostgreSQL and MariaDB allowing for both horizontal growth and vertical scale, as demonstrated by running a 2TB Mongo database without sharding. Several of the features built into this system support the constant innovation inherent in the open source movement while maintaining the performance and reliability required by Enterprise clients; for example, Logical Partitions (LPARs) allow clients to host a development environment on the same system as production with zero risk.

  • Kernel Space
  • Applications
  • Desktop Environments/WMs
    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt
      • Linux Mint Rounds Out 18 ‘Sarah’ Releases With Beta KDE Edition

        Earlier this month, the Linux Mint developer team released the Xfce edition of Linux Mint 18 ‘Sarah’, which followed the main release at the end of June. But now it’s time for some Plasma action, with a beta release of the upcoming Linux Mint 18 KDE edition.

        It’s worth noting that all three Linux Mint 18 editions are LTS releases (long-term support), with a promise to be supported until 2021. For that reason, these releases don’t include bleeding-edge software, but instead software that can be assured to be stable right-out-of-the-box.

      • KDevelop 5.0 Appears Ready For Release

        We haven’t yet seen any official release announcement, but since yesterday a source package and AppImage binary have been out in the wild for KDE’s KDevelop 5.0 integrated development environment…

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK
      • Maps is fast again!

        Once your distro of choice picks up one of these stable releases you should be back to at least the old Mapquest speed of Maps. And if your distro upgrades to latest libchamplain when it arrives you will see even greater speeds.

      • GTK Scene Kit Isn’t Happening In Time For GNOME 3.22

        With GNOME 3.19 there were plans for a GTK scenegraph and this GTK Scene Kit (GSK) was then planned for 3.20 and then most recently hoped for 3.22. But it’s not happening.

        One of the big user benefits to the GTK Scene Kit will be offloading more work to the GPU and while it looked like GSK may finally be a reality for GNOME 3.22, this morning we found out it’s not going to be merged in time.

      • GSoC: final evaluation

        This blog-post contains the final evaluation of my Google summer of Code 2016 project for the GNOME organization. More precisely, I’ve been working in the Games application under the mentorship of Adrien Plazas implementing multi-source/multi-disc games and offer support to the PlayStation platform.

      • GUADEC

        I arrived at GUADEC a few days early to participate in the Board and AdBoard meetings.

      • GSoC Summary

        The goal to be achieved was to be able to play both single player and multiplayer emulated games using a gamepad in GNOME Games

      • GNOME 3.22 “Karlsruhe” Desktop Environment Gets Its First Public Beta Release

        GNOME Project’s Frederic Peters informs us a few minutes ago about the availability of the first Beta release of the upcoming GNOME 3.22 “Karlsruhe” desktop environment for GNU/Linux operating systems.

      • GNOME 3.22 Beta Released

        The first beta of GNOME 3.22 beta is now available for testing ahead of the planned official desktop release around this time next month.

        Some of the recent package changes for the GNOME 3.22 Beta include sharing support for GNOME Photos, various Mutter and GNOME Shell improvements (including Wayland improvements!), and GTK improvements.

      • GUADEC Experience

        In this blog post, I will be sharing my GUADEC experience which recently held from 11-Aug-2015 to 17-Aug-2016 in Karlsruhe, Germany. I actually got to see the faces behind IRC nicks, met most of developers and people from GNOME community and also most importantly, GUADEC helped me to meet my Google Summer of Code mentor Debarshi Ray in person which was just great.

      • GNOME Usability Test Results (Part 1)

        This is the first part of analysis for the usability test I recently conducted, with the purpose to uncover usability flaws of two GNOME applications: Photos and Calendar.
        For this part I am focusing on visualizing the results, demographics and talk more about the methodology I used for testing. We will take a closer look on how testers performed on every task given, using a heat map. Hopefully this will create a clear picture of the testing process and help to “get to know” the participants and understand them better!

  • Distributions
    • Gentoo Family
      • Gentoo Linux live DVD “Choice Edition

        Gentoo One of the wonderful things about Linux is the diversity of the distributions available. Some distributions are very beginner friendly with installers that offer only a few basic options. Others are more complex, requiring knowledge of Linux and skills with the command line to install. Gentoo falls into the more complex category. There is no installer per se, the user just needs to follow instructions to perform several steps leading to a fully installed and configured system. This process is certainly harder than using Ubuntu’s Ubiquity installer, but it is not that hard. The instructions are clear and do require previous experience with Linux, or the tenacity to keep going (or start over) when things go wrong when Gentoo is used in a “dive in head first” learning experience. Below, I take a look at the latest Gentoo Linux live DVD, the “Choice Edition,” and briefly explore how Gentoo gets installed on a system by using a step by step set of instructions instead of an installer that takes care of most of the steps automatically.

      • Why did Gentoo Linux fade into obscurity?

        Gentoo Linux was fairly well known at one point, with many tech-savvy Linux users opting to run it on their computers. But Gentoo Linux slowly lost popularity over time and is now a pale shadow of its former self in terms of usage and mind-share among Linux users (though there are still some die-hard Gentoo users left on Reddit).

    • OpenSUSE/SUSE
    • Slackware Family
      • Latest Slackware Version Doesn’t Cut Newbies any Slack

        Slackware is a throwback to the early days of the Linux OS, and it may not have much relevance to anyone but diehard Slackware fans. Still, experienced Linux users looking for a change of pace might enjoy setting up a Slackware system.

        The documentation and user guides are fairly detailed, but they are heavy reads that will frustrate the typical new user. Those without a strong technical background will see a big disconnect in going from the live session “Slackware demo” to a functioning Slackware installation.

    • Red Hat Family
      • Most companies worried about coping with increasing data volumes, says Red Hat

        Storage has become a complicated animal within the IT stack, and according to a recent Vanson Bourne survey commissioned by Red Hat, there’s growing evidence that ignoring the critical role storage plays across physical, virtual, container and both public and private cloud environments is a recipe for disaster.

      • Finance
      • Fedora
        • DNF 1.1.10 and DNF-PLUGINS-CORE 0.1.21-3 Released

          Another stability release of DNF and DNF-PLUGINS-CORE has been made. This release should eliminate the most critical bugs, especially the Unicode tracebacks and COPR plugin should work in Korora again. More information about the release can be found in DNF and plugins release notes.

        • Trying Out Fedora 25 With Wayland, Early Benchmarks Included

          With the news from Friday that Fedora 25 will run Wayland by default I loaded up the current Fedora 25 development packages on a test system this weekend and I used that as my primary system for all of my business/production work this weekend. It went well and included are some early gaming benchmarks of Fedora 25 Workstation GNOME on Wayland and X.Org.

        • Fedora 25 Linux OS to Arrive on November 15, Ship with Wayland by Default

          The Fedora Project is currently working very hard on the next major version of the popular GNU/Linux computer operating system, Fedora 25, bringing you all the latest and modern technologies.

          Wayland is a modern technology, the next generation display server designed as a drop-in replacement for the old X.Org Server or X11 as many of you out there might want to call the display server almost all GNU/Linux distributions are currently using by default. But there are many security-released issues with X11 that for some reason can’t be fixed, so it’s time for the open-source ecosystem to adopt Wayland.

        • New role as Fedora Magazine editor in chief

          Today, I am pleased to announce my new role as the Fedora Magazine editor-in-chief. After deciding to shift focus to other areas of the Fedora Project, I am receiving the torch from Ryan Lerch. Ryan has helped lead the Magazine, edit pieces from other contributors, contribute his own pieces, and decide strategic direction for the Magazine.

          He leaves big shoes to fill, but I hope to offer my own leadership, creativity, and direction in coming years as well. I’d like to thank both Ryan, Paul Frields, and Remy DeCausemaker for their mentorship and guidance towards becoming involved with Fedora and the Magazine. I’m excited to have the opportunity to help guide the Fedora Magazine in how it fits with the rest of Fedora.

        • FOSS Wave: Delhi, India

          After the introductory session on FOSS, we went ahead with our agenda and introduced the Fedora Project and the community behind it: what the Fedora Project is, what its mission is, and how the participants can get started with Fedora. The participants were guided upon how they can create their identity on the Fedora Project by signing up on FAS. They could then use that identity to get access to various Fedora applications and resources. The session on Fedora moved on with the introduction on how the contributors can get to the mailing list and introduce themselves to the community. There, they can get help about starting their contributions. The main focus during the session on Fedora was to introduce the participants to the Fedora Quality Assurance (QA) team and release validation testing.

    • Debian Family
      • Reproducible Builds: week 69 in Stretch cycle

        Daniel Stender blogged about python packaging and explained some caveats regarding reproducible builds.

      • Proposing speakers for DebConf17

        As you may already know, next DebConf will be held at Collège de Maisonneuve in Montreal from August 6 to August 12, 2017. We are already thinking about the conference schedule, and the content team is open to suggestions for invited speakers.

      • Google Summer of Code 2016 : Final Report

        This project aims to improve diffoscope tool and fix Debian packages which are unreproducible in Reproducible builds testing framework.

      • Derivatives
        • Canonical/Ubuntu
          • Ubuntu 16.10 (Yakkety Yak) Now in Feature Freeze, First Beta to Land August 25

            Ubuntu and Debian developer Iain Lane informed the Ubuntu community that the upcoming Ubuntu 16.10 (Yakkety Yak) operating system is in Feature Freeze as of August 18, 2016.

          • Artist Sylvia Ritter Painted All 25 Ubuntu Linux Mascots and They’re Astonishing

            Artist Sylvia Ritter happily informs Softpedia about the availability of 25 wallpapers for mobile phones and tablet devices illustrating her vision of the mascots used for all the Ubuntu Linux operating system releases.

          • Canonical and QTS Team on Private, Managed OpenStack Cloud Solution

            For several years running, OpenStack Foundation surveys have revealed that Ubuntu is the most common platform for OpenStack deployments to be built on. Organizations report that they choose OpenStack and Ubuntu to save money and avoid vendor lock-in. These themes have been emphasized by Canonical at OpenStack Summit.

            Now, responding to what they describe as “increasing demand for flexible, open source and cost-predictable cloud solutions, QTS Realty Trust, Inc. and Canonical, the company behind Ubuntu, have announced a private, fully managed OpenStack cloud solution. It will be available from any of QTS’ secure data centers in mid-September.

            Built on Ubuntu OpenStack and using Canonical’s application modeling service Juju as well as Canonical’s Bare Metal as a Service (MaaS), QTS’ OpenStack cloud will be fully managed. Essentially, organizations can treat it as a turnkey cloud solution.

          • Rotate Screen on Ubuntu Easily With This Indicator Applet

            Sam, our backend web hamster, makes occasional use of a portrait monitor. He says it makes reading long terminal sessions easier.

          • Flavours and Variants
            • Peppermint OS explained

              In the childhood many of us must have eaten peppermint tablets. Well, just the name gives us some nostalgic moments. So today on the 12th segment of “Introduction with Linux Distro” we are having Peppermint OS as our guest. Peppermint OS is a lightweight option for those with old machines or those who loves fast and light OS.

  • Devices/Embedded
Free Software/Open Source
  • Open Source Software for Business: 12 Leading Apps

    These are some of the best ERP, CRM, small business server, project management and business intelligence applications available under an open source license.

  • Digital Asset to Open Source Smart Contract Language

    Digital Asset Holdings has announced it intends to open-source DAML, the smart contracting language it acquired from startup Elevence earlier this year.

    Though no date has been set for the transition, the Blythe Masters-led blockchain startup credited its bid to “advance industry adoption” of the tech as the impetus for the move.

  • Reasons behind Enterprises’ Appeal towards Open Source Analytics Frameworks

    Big Data might be a relatively new term but not an entirely new concept. It has been around for millennia. Even in the Paleolithic age, the cavemen of Africa etched markings into bones or sticks to monitor their food supplies. Then came the abacus, the library of Alexandria, the Antikythera Mechanism (the world’s first computational device), and the list goes on. As time passed by, the art of data analysis or deduction evolved giving rise to new sciences and technologies– statistics, data storage, business intelligence, and data centers.

    When the internet storm took over the human world in the latter part of the 20th century, analog storage systems made way for digital storage and cloud services. In another ten years or so, the total storage information processed in the world grew from 1.5 billion gigabytes to 9.57 zettabytes (9.57 trillion gigabytes to be specific). In the meantime, Wired gave a name to this vast ocean of information– Big Data, (quite undervalued if you ask me, how about Cosmic Data!). At the same time, something else also passed under the radar. It was Hadoop, an open source framework for Big Data analysis, developed by the Apache Software Foundation, the open source advocates. Soon, Hadoop was extensively adopted by businesses for two reasons; firstly, it was cost-efficient, secondly, it was fast.

    Since then, open source has been the buzzword for Big Data analytics. But, what makes open source analytics platform attractive for enterprises even though there is no guarantee about security or the quality of the software?

  • Events
    • Updates from LinuxCon and ContainerCon, Toronto, August 2016

      The first 25 years of Linux has transformed the world, not just computing, and the next 25 years will continue to see more growth in the Open Source movement, The Linux Foundation Executive Director Jim Zemlin said during the opening keynote of LinuxCon/ContainerCon in Toronto on Monday, August 22, 2016.

      “Linux is the most successful software project in history”, Zemlin said, noting that the humble operating sytem created by Linus Torvalds 25 years ago this week is behind much of today’s software and devices.

    • 2016 SFD Registration is on!

      The Digital Freedom Foundation is very happy to announce that registration of its thirteenth edition of Software Freedom Day has just opened. While the wiki has been back online for about a week we were still lagging on the registration. Fear no more, it is now fixed and you can all register your events!

    • Advanced Linux System Administration and Networking is designed for IT professionals

      This Course includes some of the course materials, with access to LFS211 Linux operating system and networking and administration for 1 year, also registration includes a printed course manual.

  • Web Browsers
    • Mozilla
      • Johnson Banks reveals first designs for “open-source” Mozilla rebrand

        Johnson Banks has unveiled seven potential brand identities for Mozilla, as part of its ongoing “open-source” rebrand.

        The search for the not-for-profit software company’s new identity was first announced in June, and it has been taking feedback from the Mozilla community and members of the public since then.

        Seven initial themes were created by Johnson Banks, all exploring different facets of Mozilla’s advocacy for shared and open-source internet access and software.

      • Mozilla’s new logo ideas

        The folks over at Mozilla (makers of Firefox) are redesigning their logo—because apparently just having a wordmark isn’t good enough. That said, maybe it’s time to retire the dinosaur head.

        In the spirit of openness, Mozilla has posted a series of logo concepts to their blog and invited the public to review and share their opinions. I am doing so here.

  • SaaS/Back End
    • Walmart’s OneOps open source cloud management platform could become part of OpenStack

      The retailing giant is pondering a move where its OneOps open source platform could be lumped under OpenStack.

    • Apache CloudStack Still Going, Arrives in New Version

      In case you don’t know its history, CloudStack had more momentum a few years ago as an open cloud platform than OpenStack has now. Citrix, which owned it, passed the open source CloudStack platform to the Apache Software Foundation, and CloudStack continues to advance and is widely used. It has even inspired a popular forked version.

      Now, the Apache CloudStack project has announced the availability of Apache CloudStack v4.9, the latest version of the cloud platform used for creating private, public, and hybrid cloud environments. Apache remains a steady steward for CloudStack, even as OpenStack has overtaken it in popularity.

  • Databases
    • Does MariaDB’s latest move show how hard it is to make money with open source?

      It turns out that selling open source software is really, really hard. So hard, in fact, that only one company has proven the ability to do so profitably at scale: Red Hat. Everyone else is either swimming in red ink or a rounding error.

    • MariaDB MaxScale: at scale yes, but at a proprietary license cost

      MariaDB is a database that was created as a community-developed ‘fork’ of the MySQL relational database management system and, as such, has always been free to use under the GNU General Public License.

    • Proprietary licences both frustrating and pushing move to PostgreSQL

      Proprietary licences that are very complex, impossible to comply with, and abused to squeeze customers are frustrating public agencies in their effort to make IT infrastructures more open and interoperable. On the other hand, these licensing problems are motivating the same agencies to move to open source software. The Swedish National Heritage Board, the Dutch City of Ede, and the Dutch DUO agency all mention complex licences from their traditional proprietary suppliers as an important reason to deploy PostgreSQL as an open alternative for their database systems. At the same time, suppliers are abusing their inscrutable licensing models to hinder public agencies in their migration and consolidation efforts.

    • Time To Move To PostgreSQL

      Sigh… I understand that businesses need to make money but proper businesses don’t jerk their customers around in the process. That drives them away.

      Large businesses that use MySQL/MariaDB depend on the MaxScale component and changing the licence for that jerks them around. In the process, MariaDB is preventing a larger community from sharing in the development, a major plus of FLOSS. So, this is essentially kicking a large segment of the market for SQL databases to a non-Free solution. It really is time to go to PostgreSQL, a truly Free/Libre Open Source database from top to bottom.

  • Education
    • Out of the Trash and into the Class: Building a STEM Program by Re-Building Computers.

      The FLOSS Desktop for Kids initiative refurbishes surplus and discarded school computers, allowing students to learn (hands-on) about computers and technology by diagnosing, breaking-down and repairing hardware components. Students acquire, install and configure open source software including Linux operating systems, LibreOffice, GIMP, Pidgin, etc.—not just run “apps” on a tablet. The program, is designed to teach engineering and technology by doing, failing, fixing, frustration, and finally achieving—that’s how Science, Technology, Engineering and Math really happen, and that aligns perfectly with STEM’s goals: “knowledge and skills to solve tough problems, gather and evaluate evidence, and make sense of information.”

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)
  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC
    • GCC 6.2 Compiler Released

      GCC 6.2 is now available as the first stable update to this year’s GCC 6/6.1 compiler release.

      GCC 6.1 shipped earlier this year as their first stable version of GCC 6 (per their unique versioning scheme…) while GCC 6.2 is out this morning as the first point release.

  • Public Services/Government
    • New US Government Source Code Policy Could Provide Model For Europe

      The United States government this month published its new federal source code policy to allow government-wide access to custom source code developed by or for any agency of the federal government. The policy, which aims to reduce duplication, avoid technology “lock-in,” and tap the best minds in or outside government, has caught the attention of free software developers in Europe who are hoping to use it as a basis for change there too.

      “We plan to use that in the next months as an example for European countries,” Matthias Kirschner, president of the Free Software Foundation Europe (FSFE), said in a recent email discussion on the new US policy.

    • Open Source at work, Open Society working in Taiwan

      There was striking evidence that Open Source can lead to Open Society at the first day of OS//OS at Wellington’s Michael Fowler Centre on Monday August 22.

      One of the keynote speakers, Audrey Tang from Taiwan, outlined how a quiet (and unheralded, at least in New Zealand) revolution has completely changed how democracy is practiced in the 23 million people nation sitting off China’s coast.

      It started with a parliamentary sit-in in 2014 – aided and abetted by Taiwan’s digital wizards as informal representatives debated how to use internet tools to ensure that all voices are heard before any new legislation is put in place.

      Eventually parliamentarians agreed that what was proposed by the ‘Sunflower Movement’ was valid.

      Now, the feelings and opinions of many different people (and animals and the environment) are considered. The role of parliament is to enact this debate outcome through legislation.

    • Up to EUR 200,000 for Austria open source projects

      The Austrian government will award up to EUR 200,000 for open source projects on eGovernent, eHealth, eLearning, eInclusion, or commercial products and services. “Open source has beneficial macroeconomic effects, improving possibilities for use and development”, explained Muna Duzdar, State Secretary for Digitisation, in a statement.

    • Ministry of ICT and NITA Uganda Urge on Adoption of Open Source Software

      Increased awareness, integration and adoption of Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) in Uganda, both by government and the private sector is key to improved service delivery by government, reduced cost of public service deliver as well as improve competitiveness of Uganda’s ICT and ICT Enabled Services (ITES), Hon. Frank Tumwebaze, Uganda’s ICT and National Guidance Minister has said.

    • UK Government Digital Service looking for a “Chief Penguin”

      According to the job description on LinkedIn, the new role has been created as part of a change of course to “a more concerted approach to open source, building collaboration and reuse internally and making higher impact contributions to the wider open source community”. The new Lead will “work with teams in GDS and across government to help build their open source community, both through driving specific, focused projects and by providing tools and an environment that allow the work to grow and thrive”. At the same time, the job requires technical hands-on capabilities as well: “day to day responsibilities will alternate between programming, liaising with colleagues from other professions (eg. communications, legal and delivery management), community building and leading projects”.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration
    • Open Data
      • Dutch Accountability Hack set for week before Little Prince’s Day

        On Friday 9 September, an Accountability Hack will be organised at the Dutch Court of Audit in The Hague. Developers and open data adepts are asked to participate and work on innovative (mobile) apps that allow people to check on government spending and returns. Increased transparency helps strengthen democracy, fight corruption and waste, and improve efficiency and accountability.

    • Open Access/Content
      • 7 resources for open education materials

        Shrinking school budgets and growing interest in open content has created an increased demand for open educational resources. According to the FCC, “The U.S. spends more than $7 billion per year on K-12 textbooks, but too many students are still using books that are 7-10 years old, with outdated material.” There is an alternative: openly licensed courseware. But where do you find this content and how can you share your own teaching and learning materials?

      • Open education is more than open content

        The famous playwright George Bernard Shaw once said: “If you have an apple and I have an apple and we exchange apples, then you and I will still each have one apple. But if you have an idea and I have an idea and we exchange these ideas, then each of us will have two ideas.”

        I love that quote, and in May I shared it with a room full of educators, administrators, and open source advocates at New York University during the Open Summit, an open conversation about education. I believe it reveals something critical about the future of education and the positive role openness can play in the future, if we embrace it.

    • Open Hardware/Modding
  • Programming/Development
Leftovers
  • Yahoo Ad Partner Media.net Sells to China Group for $900 Million

    A group of Chinese investors said it’s acquiring ad-tech startup Media.net for about $900 million in cash, with plans to eventually sell the company to an obscure telecommunications firm whose shares have been suspended from trading since last year.

    Media.net, which is based in Dubai and New York, is touting this as the third-largest ad-tech acquisition in history. However, the complex deal more closely resembles a reverse merger, where a private company takes over a public one and bypasses the formalities of an initial public offering.

    Technology entrepreneur Divyank Turakhia started Media.net in 2010 and bootstrapped the business. The company provides the technology powering contextual ads offered by Yahoo! Inc. and Microsoft Corp.’s Bing search engine. The system is similar to one offered by Google, choosing which ads to show based on the content of the web page they appear on.

  • Hardware
    • The Story of How the Apple I Computer Could Fetch $1 Million at Auction

      In the summer of 1976, Daniel Kottke was looking for a job while off from college. He found one from his old buddy and the man he spent time with in India just years prior: Apple co-founder Steve Jobs.

      During that summer, Kottke had a somewhat tedious job. He was to sit in a garage and put together Apple I computers, the devices his old college friend and his co-founder Steve Wozniak had designed and built. Now, nearly 40 years later, one of those Apple I computer boards that Kottke helped assemble is up for auction—and it could be worth as much as $1 million, according to a listing on auction site CharityBuzz.

  • Health/Nutrition
    • Pfizer to pay $14 billion for Medivation, whose drug Xtandi was discovered by UCLA [Ed: the public pays for research! The public subsidises development of cures. Some private firms then patent it and make a killing. Prices soar. At whose expense? The public!]

      Pharmaceutical giant Pfizer Inc. is paying $14 billion to buy Medivation Inc., a San Francisco biotech company that sells a high-priced prostate cancer medication discovered by UCLA.

      A year’s worth of the drug, Xtandi, sells for about $129,000, and the medicine has generated about $2.2 billion in net sales worldwide over the last year, the companies said Monday in announcing the deal.

      Medivation had become a prime target of larger pharmaceutical companies, largely thanks to Xtandi, which is also being tested for breast cancer treatment.

    • WHO Africa Region Addresses Strategies On Counterfeits, Malaria, Hepatitis

      The 47 members of the World Health Organization African region this week adopted or considered a series of measures aimed at fighting substandard and counterfeit medical products, eliminating malaria and viral hepatitis, and setting a global strategy and plan of action on ageing and health that includes a focus on non-communicable diseases. They also addressed a plan for disease outbreaks and health emergencies.

    • NHS could struggle post-Brexit without EU citizen staff, Department of Health officials admit

      A 7-day week NHS may no longer be possible following Brexit because so many healthcare professionals come from EU countries, Department for Health officials have warned.

      The NHS employs around 55,000 staff who are EU citizens, amounting to a tenth of the overall workforce. It is currently unknown whether freedom of movement and employment rights will change for EU citizens following the referendum vote, prompting uncertainty over future staffing levels.

    • Drug and Device Makers Pay Thousands of Docs with Disciplinary Records

      Physicians whose state boards have sanctioned them for harming patients, unnecessarily prescribing addictive drugs, bilking federal insurance programs and even sexual misconduct nonetheless continue to receive payments for consulting, giving talks about products, and more.

    • Why a Single-Payer Healthcare System is Inevitable

      The best argument for a single-payer health plan is the recent decision by giant health insurer Aetna to bail out next year from 11 of the 15 states where it sells Obamacare plans.Aetna’s decision follows similar moves by UnitedHealth Group, the nation’s largest health insurer, and by Humana, another one of the giants.

      All claim they’re not making enough money because too many people with serious health problems are using the Obamacare exchanges, and not enough healthy people are signing up.

      The problem isn’t Obamacare per se. It lies in the structure of private markets for health insurance – which creates powerful incentives to avoid sick people and attract healthy ones. Obamacare is just making this structural problem more obvious.

    • What the UN must do to wipe out cholera in Haiti

      It is not enough that the United Nations is finally beginning to acknowledge its involvement in the lethal cholera epidemic in Haiti. Now it must urgently do everything in its power to eliminate cholera in Haiti before thousands more die.

      Cholera was brought to Haiti in October 2010 by UN peacekeepers from Nepal. Some of the Nepalese peacekeepers had been infected with the disease in their home country. And due to close quarters and poor sanitation practices, the disease quickly spread throughout the Nepalese camp near the interior town of Mirebalais.

      Early on, some contaminated fecal waste from the Nepalese camp leaked into a nearby stream, infecting a few Haitians. Then the accumulated camp waste was dumped into the local river by a poorly supervised UN vendor. This local river flowed on to the mighty Artibonite River, which runs through the breadbasket of Haiti before emptying into the Caribbean Sea.

  • Security
  • Defence/Aggression
    • A Congressman Campaigns to “Stop the Madness” of U.S. Support for Saudi Bombing in Yemen

      For months, a California congressman has been trying to get Obama administration officials to reconsider U.S. backing for the Saudi-led war in Yemen. And for months, he has been given the runaround.

      Ted Lieu, a Democrat representing Los Angeles County, served in the Air Force and is a colonel in the Air Force Reserves. The brutal bombing of civilian areas with U.S.-supplied planes and weapons has led him to act when most of his colleagues have stayed silent.

      “I taught the law of war when I was on active duty,” he told The Intercept. “You can’t kill children, newlyweds, doctors and patients — those are exempt targets under the law of war, and the coalition has been repeatedly striking civilians,” he said. “So it is very disturbing to me. It is even worse that the U.S. is aiding this coalition.”

      But he and a very few other lawmakers who have tried to take bipartisan action to stop U.S. support for the campaign are a lonely bunch. “Many in Congress have been hesitant to criticize the Saudis’ operational conduct in Yemen,” Lieu said. He didn’t say more about that.

    • Congress Must Take Action to Block Weapon Sales to Saudi Arabia

      Last week, the Pentagon announced the approval of the sale of an additional $1.15 billion worth of weapons to Saudi Arabia. The callousness of this announcement – just days after Saudi Arabia rebooted its devastating bombing campaign in Yemen – is breathtaking. The Saudi-led coalition has used American-made fighter jets, bombs and other munitions in a relentless onslaught against Yemen that has left thousands of innocent civilians dead and created a humanitarian crisis that the United Nations characterizes as a “catastrophe.” In just the last few days, the Saudi-led coalition has killed at least 35 people – most of them women and children – in three airstrikes against a school, a residential neighborhood and a hospital in northern Yemen.

      Congress has thirty days to block the sale of these weapons. It is a moral imperative that they do so.
      The internal crisis in Yemen spiraled out of control when the Saudis intervened in March 2015. The BBC has reported that nearly all of the more than 3,000 civilian deaths reported in the conflict have been caused by airstrikes from the Saudi-led coalition. Saudi air strikes have also decimated Yemen’s infrastructure, leaving more than 21 million people desperately in need of humanitarian assistance.

    • US Guilty of ‘Basically Unconditional Support’ for Saudi War Crimes in Yemen

      The United States and other governments that continue to sell weapons to Saudi Arabia are guilty of “the worst kind of hypocrisy,” an international watchdog charged on Monday, as the arms trade continues despite mounting evidence of civilian causalities, war crimes, and other atrocities being committed by the kingdom in Yemen.

      “It is extremely concerning that many transfers are still continuing, in particular the governments of the United States, the U.K., and France have authorized and are continuing to export very large quantities of weapons, including explosive weapons, bombs which are being used daily against civilians in Yemen,” said Anna Macdonald, director of Control Arms Coalition.

      The statement was made as governments convened in Geneva, Switzerland at the World Trade Organization’s second conference on the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT), which stipulates that signatories block any arms deal if there is evidence that the weapons will be used against civilians.

      “At the heart of the ATT is the obligation on countries that have joined it to make an assessment of how the weapons they want to transfer will be used,” states the Control Arms website. “They must determine if the arms would commit or facilitate genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes, and serious human rights violations.”

      Both France and the U.K. have ratified the agreement. While the U.S. has signed on, Congress has failed to approve it.

    • Syrian boy’s image shamelessly exploited for West’s war agenda

      How many times have we seen this before? Western media selectively focusing on, or distorting, human suffering in order to fulfill a base political agenda – war – for powerful interests.

      It is no coincidence Western media fevered with images of a five-year-old boy, pulled from rubble in Aleppo after an alleged air strike by Syrian government or Russian forces – and the very next day US warplanes were scrambled over northern Syria reportedly to ward off Syrian Su-24 fighter bombers.

    • Nearly 15 Years and $70 Billion Later, US Troops Still Endlessly Fighting Taliban

      More than a hundred U.S. troops were sent to Lashkar Gah, Afghanistan on Monday to continue fighting the Taliban, in the first deployment of forces to the area since the drawdown in 2014—offering another signal that the U.S. military presence there is expanding, not decreasing, as President Barack Obama has promised.

    • Over a hundred US troops sent to Lashkar Gah to battle Taliban
    • Soldier dies in live firing training exercise in Northumberland

      A soldier has died after being shot at a military training area in Northumberland, police have said.

      The male soldier, serving with the Royal Regiment of Scotland, was shot on the military ranges in Otterburn during a live firing exercise at about 23:15 BST on Monday.

      Northumbria Police said the soldier sustained a “serious head wound” and was pronounced dead at the scene.

      He has not been identified by the Ministry of Defence.

    • Near-War: US Planes almost tangle with Syrian MiGs, which bombed area of US troop Embeds

      The fighting that has broken out between Kurdish YPG fighters and the Syrian Arab Army in Hasaka, northeast Syria, is hardly a new thing. There were clashes in April.

      Syria says that the Kurds brought it on themselves by trying to expand into government-held territory.

      As the US has deepened its involvement in Syria, this round of fighting could drag the US into war.

      The People’s Protection Units or YPG is a Syrian Kurdish militia that now holds large swathes of northern Syria. These leftist Kurds are in conflict with Daesh (ISIS, ISIL) and with the fundamentalist rightwing Arab guerrillas such as the al-Qaeda-linked Army of Syrian Conquest and the Saudi-backed Army of Islam.

    • US-Allied Kurds advance in Hasaka City, NE Syria

      Clashes continued on Sunday between the Kurdish YPG [People’s Protection Units] and the Syrian Arab Army in Hasaka, according to the Egyptian press . Surveying Syrian social media, Misr24 said that the Kurds had apparently advanced into Hasaka and driven the Syrian army from some districts, including al-Nashwa and Ghuwayran.

    • Destroying history is now being charged as a war crime

      An Islamist fighter has pleaded guilty in the Hague for destroying parts of the fabled West African trading city of Timbuktu, in the International Criminal Court’s first case based on the destruction of cultural artifacts.

      Ahmad al-Faqi al-Mahdi has admitted today (Aug 22) to razing all but two of the city’s 16 mausoleums as well as a mosque dating back to 1400 during a raid by Islamist radicals in 2012. Ahmad told the tribunal in the Netherlands that he regretted “the damage [his] actions have caused.”

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting
    • EXCLUSIVE Jill Stein op-ed: In praise of Wikileaks

      Wikileaks founder Julian Assange is a hero. Like Edward Snowden, Chelsea Manning, and other whistleblowers facing government persecution, Assange has sacrificed his personal comfort and safety to bring us the truth.

      George Orwell said, “In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act.” Thanks to Wikileaks, we know that powerful institutions have been abusing their power and lying to the public. For example, redacted State Department communications published by Wikileaks revealed that Secretary Clinton identified Saudi Arabia as a leading funding source for terrorist groups around the time she approved a whopping $29 billion arms deal with the Saudi dictatorship.

      Wikileaks courageously published the infamous “Collateral Murder” video showing an American helicopter gunning down Iraqi civilians, Viewed over 15 million times on Youtube alone, it revealed just one of the many shocking war crimes whitewashed as “collateral damage” by the US government.

      Wikileaks’ stunning revelations of how top Democratic National Committee officials conspired to sabotage Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign, in collusion with the media, shattered the illusion of a fair electoral process and confirmed what millions Americans already knew in their gut: we live under a rigged political system.

      What Wikileaks actually does — to political parties, the military, and other powerful entities — is pull back the curtain of censorship, spin, and deception to show the public what’s really going on. Unlike pundits in the mainstream media, Wikileaks doesn’t tell us what to think. They invite us to read the emails, watch the footage, and decide for ourselves.

      The political and economic elite, used to controlling information, see this unprecedented transparency as a tremendous threat. They have mercilessly persecuted a series of heroic whistleblowers. Chelsea Manning, convicted of leaking the Collateral Murder video among other revealing materials, was sentenced to 35 years in federal prison.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature
    • Jill Stein Speaks With Victims of Louisiana’s Catastrophic Flood—and Those Trying to Help Them

      In a concluding clip, Stein thanked everyone who had shown up to help the people of Denham Springs recover. Local activist Le’Kedra Robertson said local children won’t be able to return to school until December and invited viewers to come to Denham Springs and contribute physical labor to help residents get back on their feet.

      “If you walk through these streets of Denham Springs, where I grew up, there aren’t any FEMA or other resources that are coming except for people who have compassionate hearts who are fixing lunches and putting boots on the ground.”

    • Forest restoration can turn the clock back

      The ecological and carbon cost of rainforest destruction goes on accumulating for years after nations halt the conversion of canopy into farmland, scientists have found.

      This implies that to meet ambitious targets, global strategies to combat climate change – including forest restoration – should have started years ago.

      Tropical forests soak up vast quantities of carbon dioxide released by industrial combustion of fossil fuels, limiting global warming. Burning, clear-felling and ploughing of forest lands release centuries of stored carbon back into the atmosphere to accelerate global warming and climate change. So forest conservation and carbon emissions reduction are both vital parts of any strategies to contain global temperature rises.

    • Katrina Pain Index 2016 by the Numbers: Race and Class Gap Widening

      Hurricane Katrina hit eleven years ago. Population of the City of New Orleans is down by over 95,000 people from 484,674 in 2000 to 389,617 in 2015. Almost all this loss of people is in the African American community. Child poverty is up, double the national average. The gap between rich and poor in New Orleans is massive, the largest in the country. The economic gap between well off whites and low income African Americans is widening. Despite receiving $76 billion in assistance after Katrina, it is clear that poor and working people in New Orleans, especially African Americans, got very little of that help. Here are the numbers.

    • New Study Shows How Clinging to Nuclear Power Means Climate Failure

      While it’s been touted by some energy experts as a so-called “bridge” to help slash carbon emissions, a new study suggests that a commitment to nuclear power may in fact be a path towards climate failure.

      For their study, researchers at the University of Sussex and the Vienna School of International Studies grouped European countries by levels of nuclear energy usage and plans, and compared their progress with part of the European Union’s (EU) 2020 Strategy.

      That 10-year strategy (pdf), proposed in 2010, calls for reducing greenhouse gas emissions by least 20 percent compared to 1990 levels and increasing the share of renewable energy in final energy consumption to 20 percent.

      The researchers found that “progress in both carbon emissions reduction and in adoption of renewables appears to be inversely related to the strength of continuing nuclear commitments.”

      For the study, the authors looked at three groupings. First is those with no nuclear energy. Group 1 includes Denmark, Ireland, and Portugal. Group 2, which counts Germany and Sweden among its members, includes those with some continuing nuclear commitments, but also with plans to decommission existing nuclear plants. The third group, meanwhile, includes countries like Hungary and the UK which have plans to maintain current nuclear units or even expand nuclear capacity.

    • Report Shows Whopping $8.8 Trillion Climate Tab Being Left for Next Generation

      “We do not inherit the Earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children,” is an oft-quoted proverb, frequently used to explain the importance of environmental preservation. Unsaid, however, is how much it will impact the next generation if the Earth is bequeathed in a lesser state.

      Environmental campaigners NextGen Climate and public policy group Demos published a new study that attempts to quantify the true cost of not addressing climate change to the millennial generation and their children.

      The Price Tag of Being Young: Climate Change and Millennials’ Economic Future (pdf) compares some of the high costs millennials will face in the “new inequality economy”—such as student debt, child care costs, stagnant wages, as well as financial and job insecurity—against the fiscal impacts of unmitigated global warming.

      “The fact is,” the report states, “unchecked climate change will impose heavy costs on millennials and subsequent generations, both directly in the form of reduced incomes and wealth, and indirectly through likely higher tax bills as extreme weather, rising sea levels, drought, heat-related health problems, and many other climate change-related problems take their toll on our society.”

    • Water Is Life, Oil Is Death: The People vs. the Bakken Pipeline in Iowa and the Dakotas

      The American version of democracy focuses on elections and candidates. As the venerable left intellectual Noam Chomsky observed in June, “Citizenship means every four years you put a mark somewhere and you go home and let other guys run the world. It’s a very destructive ideology … a way of making people passive, submissive objects.” Chomsky added that we “ought to teach kids that elections take place, but that’s not [all of] politics.” There’s also the more urgent and serious politics of popular social movements and direct action beneath and beyond the election cycle.

      We might refine Chomsky’s maxim to read “and let rich guys run the world into the ground” or “let rich guys ruin the world.” With anthropogenic (really “capitalogenic”) global warming, the nation and world’s corporate and financial oligarchs are bringing the planet to the brink of an epic ecosystem collapse.

      We might also put some meat on the bones of Chomsky’s pedagogical advice by “teach[ing] kids” about the people’s politics being practiced in the upper Midwest and northern Great Plains by citizen activists fighting to help avert ecological calamity by blocking construction of what North Dakota Sioux leader David Archambault II calls “a black snake” of “greed.” The snake in question is the planet-baking Dakota Access/Bakken pipeline, what Iowa activists call “The Next Keystone XL.”

    • Fire crews battling late summer blazes

      A fire swept through a pine forest in Moura, just over the Algarve border in the Alentejo on Saturday morning.

      Pine, grassland and scrub were consumed before 82 firefighters brought the blaze under control and extinguished it.

      Two aircraft were used to dump water on the fire with 26 vehicles supporting ground operations.

      Last week there was a fire in the Algarve at Luz da Tavira in which a pasture area and an orchard were damaged before Tavira and Olhão fire teams prevented the fire from spreading.

      Portugal’s weather service has kept 13 municipalities in the districts of Castelo Branco, Faro, Guarda, Leiria and Santarém on high fire risk.

  • Finance
    • Brexit Diary: the clash of political will and reality, continued

      The story of Brexit is about the clash of political will (the referendum result and express government policy) and the realities of trade, devolution, and government capability. All because the government wants something to happen, it cannot just be made to happen.

    • National borders are ‘the worst invention ever’, says EC chief Jean-Claude Juncker

      National borders are “the worst invention ever”, European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker has claimed.

      The comments by Brussels’ top official were dismissed by Theresa May, whose spokeswoman said “it is not something that the Prime Minister would agree with”.

    • Brexit latest: UK Government asserts right to set tax rates after Swedish Prime Minister warns against EU ‘tax war’

      Downing Street has asserted its right to set tax rates after an EU leader warned Britain against “aggressiveness” in slashing business levies during Brexit talks.

      A Number 10 spokeswoman said it is up to each member state how they set their taxes, following the comments made by Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Loefven.

      The exchange highlights a potential conflict point in EU negotiations, with Britain seeking to boost growth through lower corporate levies while also trying not to aggravate EU states concerned about a ‘tax war’.

      Chancellor Philip Hammond has already said he is ready to bolster the British economy with corporate tax cuts and other measures if need be.

    • With Both Presidential Candidates Claiming To Be Against The TPP, President Obama Kicks Off Campaign To Ratify It

      Even as the candidate that President Obama is supporting, Hillary Clinton, has been increasingly insisting that she really (no, really) is against the TPP (despite being for it prior to this campaign) — and even as Donald Trump has been vehemently against it, despite trade agreements usually getting strong support from the GOP — President Obama is making a big push to get the TPP ratified by Congress. It needs a majority vote in both houses of Congress to be ratified in the US. Last week, we noted the weird situation where everyone’s position on the agreement appeared to be wishy-washy, though mostly for all the wrong reasons.

    • Obama Is Pushing the Trans-Pacific Partnership So Clinton Won’t Have To (Video)

      President Obama is rushing to pass the sovereignty-crushing Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) in the lame duck session of Congress in order to save Hillary Clinton from revealing that she supports it, which she’ll have to do if she wins the White House, says Cenk Uygur of “The Young Turks.”

    • Virgin Trains East Coast strikes to be held in August

      Workers on Virgin Trains East Coast are to stage three 24-hour strikes this month, including one on Bank Holiday Monday, the RMT union has said.

      Members will walk out from 03:00 BST on 19, 26 and 29 August and ban overtime for 48 hours from 27 August, in a row over cuts, work conditions and safety.

      The RMT said the dispute involved about 1,800 members, saying Virgin Trains was trying to “bulldoze” through changes.

    • Time to End “Welfare as We Know It”

      August 22, 2016, was the twentieth anniversary of the day President Bill Clinton signed the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act, which replaced the income safety net for poor single mothers and their children with temporary, disciplinary, punitive relief. While this so-called reform of welfare did reduce the welfare rolls, it did not stanch the poverty of single mothers or improve the well-being of their children. The failure of 1990s welfare reform to enhance economic security and opportunity is reason to dedicate this anniversary to rethinking and revising our national approach to poverty.

      It is time to end this version of “welfare as we know it” by creating a system of income support that makes the dignity and equality of low income mothers a preeminent policy value, while respecting and supporting the role of caregiving in family well-being.

      Future policy should restore income support for low-income caregivers by renovating welfare policy in a way that restores the right of each caregiving parent to figure out her own balance between family work and wage work. We need not catalog here the numerous and familiar ways the key features of welfare 1990s reform — work requirements, time limits, family sanctions, fertility control pressures, and marriage promotion — suppress the economic empowerment and wellbeing of low-income single-mother families.

    • Clinton’s Transition Team: A Corporate Presidency Foretold

      Like other Bernie Sanders delegates in Philadelphia a few weeks ago, I kept hearing about the crucial need to close ranks behind Hillary Clinton. “Unity” was the watchword. But Clinton has reaffirmed her unity with corporate America.

      Rhetoric aside, Clinton is showing her solidarity with the nemesis of the Sanders campaign—Wall Street. The trend continued last week with the announcement that Clinton has tapped former senator and Interior secretary Ken Salazar to chair her transition team.

      After many months of asserting that her support for the “gold standard” Trans-Pacific Partnership was a thing of the past—and after declaring that she wants restrictions on fracking so stringent that it could scarcely continue—Clinton has now selected a vehement advocate for the TPP and for fracking, to coordinate the process of staffing the top of her administration.

      But wait, there’s more—much more than Salazar’s record—to tell us where the planning for the Hillary Clinton presidency is headed.

    • The Scourge of Neoliberalism: Why the Democratic Party Is Failing the Poor

      When Democrats began their rightward lurch in the late 1960′s, they were not content to merely broaden their coalition in order to quell the rise of the ultra-reactionary right; they have been concerned, also, with preventing left-wing insurgencies that could spook their patrons and push the party left.

      After Ronald Reagan’s decisive victories — first in 1980 against an incumbent president whose administration had, in many ways, fueled the neoliberal turn, and again in 1984 — the efforts of Democrats eager to transform the party, both superficially and ideologically, intensified.

    • Escalating the War on Low-Income Families

      Illinois Governor Rauner recently cut “Meals on Wheels” for seniors and at-risk youth services. Chicago residents were hit with a nearly 13% property tax increase. Some Chicago public schools could face 2017 cutbacks of an incredible 20 percent.

      But six of Illinois’ largest corporations together paid ALMOST ZERO state income taxes this year. Full payment of their taxes would have exceeded the $1.1 billion Chicago Public School deficit.

      It’s much the same around the nation, as 25 of the largest U.S. corporations, with over $150 billion in U.S. profits last year, paid less than 20% in federal taxes, and barely 1% in the state taxes that are vitally important for K-12 education.

    • ‘I wasn’t crazy.’ A homeless woman’s long war to prove the feds owe her $100,000.

      If you’ve spent any time in downtown Washington, you’ve probably seen 80-year-old Wanda Witter.

      Shock white hair, a determined, unsmiling set to her mouth, jeans. She may have asked you for some change and probably didn’t smile if you gave her some. This month you may have also been taken aback by the black eye and stitches across her face.

      For years, Witter bedded down for the night at 13th and G streets NW, on the concrete in her blue sleeping bag, pulled up tight to keep the rats and cockroaches out. Her tower of three suitcases was stacked on her handcart and bike-locked to the patio chairs next to her.

      She may have even told you that inside those bags is all the paperwork to prove the government owes her more than $100,000. And she was right.

    • John Oliver on How Charter Schools Around the Country Have Been Allowed to Run Wild (Video)

      “The problem with letting the free market decide when it comes to kids,” the “Last Week Tonight” host said in his commentary on publicly funded, privately run schools, “is that kids change faster than the market. And by the time it’s obvious a school is failing, futures may have been ruined.”

    • Students across Finland protest cuts to vocational education

      Students across the country took to the streets Monday to protest government cuts to education programmes. Organisations representing institutions, students and teachers are calling on the government to postpone or soften plans to slash up to 190 million euros from funding for the schools next year.

    • Wall Street’s Latest Public Sector Rip-Off: Five Myths About Pay for Success

      Investment banks such as Goldman Sachs, Bank of America, and J.P. Morgan, philanthropies such as the Rockefeller Foundation, politicians such as Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Massachusetts former governor and now Bain Capital Managing Director Deval Patrick, and elite universities such as Harvard have been aggressively promoting Pay for Success (also known as Social Impact Bonds) as a solution to intractable financial and political problems facing public education and other public services. In these schemes investment banks pay for public services to be contracted out to private providers and stand to earn much more money than the cost of the service. For example, Goldman Sachs put up $16.6 million to fund an early childhood education program in Chicago yet it is getting more than $30 million (Sanchez, 2016) from the city. While Pay for Success is only at its early stages in the United States, the Rockefeller Foundation and Merrill Lynch estimate that by 2020, market size for impact investing will reach between $400 billion to $1 trillion (Quinton, 2015). The Every Student Succeeds Act of 2016, the latest iteration of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, directs federal dollars to incentivize these for profit educational endeavors significantly legitimizing and institutionalizing them.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics
    • Green Party’s Jill Stein visits Baton Rouge amid presidential campaign

      Green Party presidential nominee Jill Stein arrived in Baton Rouge on Sunday (Aug. 21) to visit the flood-struck region and assist with relief efforts for residents, according to a news release. She planned to stay through Monday (Aug. 22) and said via Twitter that she would live-stream her activities in Denham Springs that morning from 8 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. on Facebook.

      On Sunday, Stein said she was scheduled to meet with Louisiana Green Party officials to receive an update on the flooding’s impacts and discuss how her campaign might help mobilize more aid resources. For Monday, she pledged to help Green Party volunteers gut houses and stave off water damage in affected areas.

      The news release also said Stein would discuss her experiences later in the week at a press conference in Washington DC, highlighting the need for emergency action on climate change.

    • Louisiana floods a ‘crisis of climate change’ say Greens

      The Green Party presidential candidate has described the flooding in the US state of Louisiana as “a crisis of climate change”.

      Dr Jill Stein spoke as she surveyed the wreckage from the disaster, which has killed at least 13 people and displaced thousands more.

      A week on, more than 2,800 people remain in shelters unable to return to their wrecked homes.

      Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump also visited this week.

      President Barack Obama has been criticised for not breaking off his holiday last week but he will come on Tuesday.

      Dr Stein stood in front of a home gutted by the rains in Denham Springs to deliver her message on global warming.

      “We see the Louisiana flood as further evidence of the global crisis posed by climate change,” the Green Party released in a statement.

    • New York Times Edited Bernie Sanders Article For Hillary Clinton’s Campaign

      Emails hacked from the Democratic National Committee reveal that Nicholas Confessore suppressed information about Hillary Clinton’s victory fund in an article he wrote about Bernie Sanders. The New York Times political correspondent made the omissions at the request of Hillary Clinton’s campaign lawyer, Marc E. Elias, and DNC officials.

      The emails, published by Wikileaks, also appear to show that Confessore made other edits to the article at the request of former DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman-Shultz. After Confessore’s revisions, DNC National Press Secretary Mark Paustenbach suggested that the DNC Chairwoman grant an off-the-record interview to a group of New York Times writers.

      In an email to Paustenbach, Miranda writes, “We were able to keep him from including more on the JVF, it has a mention in there, but between us and a conversation he had with Marc Elias he finally backed off from focusing too much on that.”

    • Consultant Raised Cash for Hillary Clinton, Used Access to Seek Meeting for Coal Giant, Emails Reveal

      In 2009, when St. Louis-based coal company Peabody Energy was aiming for rapid expansion into Mongolia, China, and other international markets, it sought an audience with then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to discuss its global vision.

      In April of that year, an official with Peabody reached out to the State Department to request a formal meeting. The request was denied, so Peabody leaned on its lobbying team to intervene on the issue. In June, two months after Peabody’s formal request, Joyce Aboussie, a political consultant working for Peabody, wrote to Clinton aide Huma Abedin to ask that Clinton meet with Peabody executives as a personal favor.

      “Huma, I need your help now to intervene please. We need this meeting with Secretary Clinton, who has been there now for nearly six months,” Aboussie wrote. “It should go without saying that the Peabody folks came to Dick and I because of our relationship with the Clinton’s,” she added.

    • Hillary Clinton’s ‘Pivot’ or ‘Spin’?

      To stave off Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton became a born-again progressive, critical of trade deals and tough on fracking, but her preparations for a presidential transition presage a pro-corporate and hawkish administration, says Norman Solomon.

    • ‘It’s a Kind of Original Sin of the Modern Democratic Party’

      Looking back, a New York Times “Retro Report” this May treated as novel the recognition that though welfare rolls were reduced in the wake of the Act, poverty was not, that for those who could find jobs, wages were insufficient to lift them from poverty, and that “all too often they had a hard time staying employed when the economy soured.” The piece also says that those using assistance “found themselves…characterized as loafers and cheats”—with no hint of just who was broadcasting such characterizations.

      Well, none of this is news to the many who criticized the Act, at the time and ever since. The question is what will we do about it. Those who remember the welfare reform debate remember that it centered on unmarried women with children, overwhelmingly depicted as women of color. Newsweek’s Jonathan Alter said that to this group of poor mothers could be traced “every threat to the fabric of this country.” Diane Sawyer said, “To many people, these girls are public enemy No. 1.” Low-income women were and are the target of so-called reform, so if we’re really reconsidering it, shouldn’t we start with them?

    • Nicholas Schou, Alexander Zaitchik, and David Talbot

      Mickey speaks with two authors in the new “Hot Books” series. First, Nicholas Schou discusses “Spooked: How the CIA Manipulates the Media and Hoodwinks Hollywood.” Then Alexander Zaitchik describes his study of Trump voters, “Gilded Rage: A Wild Ride Through Donald Trump’s America.” Also on hand for the hour is author David Talbot, the founder and editorial director of Hot Books; he explains its mission, and describes some of the other titles in the Hot Books series.

    • Trump’s White Supremacist Factor

      America has been a nation of white male supremacists from Day One. They “bought” Manhattan Island from the Indians for $24. They safeguarded slavery in the Constitution. They bought the Louisiana Purchase from the French but stole the land from the Indians, and then took the Southwest from the Mexicans. They settled what was left of the Indians on reservations in the most uninhabitable land on the continent where they live in poverty inconceivable to the rest of us.

      White males have nonetheless done some great and noble things. When they declared our independence from England, they could have said, “Get out of our hair; we can make more money without you.” Instead, they wrote, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

    • Donald Trump’s undocumented deportation pledge called into question

      A central promise of Donald Trump’s campaign – to deport 11 million undocumented people – came into question on Sunday, with a series of conflicting reports and equivocations on the Republican nominee’s long-held, hardline stance on immigration.

    • Hillary and the Glass Ceilings Illusion

      Meryl Streep must be a very intelligent woman to be such a good actress. So it was embarrassing to see her dressed in an American flag playing cheer leader for Hillary Clinton at the Democratic Convention. One must suppose that she is too busy studying for all her varied movie roles to have learned much about the sinister nature of Hillary Clinton’s foreign policy. She proclaimed that President Hillary Clinton would be “making history” simply by being a woman. That means symbolic history. The fact that President Hillary Clinton is more likely to make real history by starting another war even more disastrous than those she has already helped get us into seems not to have occurred to Meryl Streep.

      Nor does it occur to millions of other American women who share the same illusion.

      Those women are thinking too much in terms of symbols and images. They are ignoring the major issue facing the United States: whether to make peace or war. They don’t worry that the imminent conflict with the other major nuclear power, Russia, might affect themselves, their families, the world and the future. They feel that they will somehow personally benefit from the election of a woman to the U.S. Presidency.

    • Trump vs. Clinton: It’s All About the Debates

      Conventional wisdom says Donald Trump is going to lose, and lose big.

      You see it everywhere in corporate media. Republican Party insiders are bereft and in denial, simultaneously refusing to accept the reality that their party is facing the possibility of catastrophic defeats in races all over the country this fall; indeed, some pundits say Trump marks the beginning of the end of the GOP. The New York Times is running a 24-7 odds placement that puts Hillary Clinton’s chances of victory at 86% against his 14%.

    • Hillary Clinton: The Anti-Woman ‘Feminist’

      Although Hillary Clinton selected Tim Kaine as her Vice President in this campaign, her true running mate might very well be her vagina. Indeed, while Clinton’s support continues to be among the lowest for any Democratic nominee in recent memory, she has managed to position her gender as a focal point of her campaign, a move intended to capture the women’s vote among liberals and conservatives alike. And, considering her opponent is Donald Trump, a man seen by millions of women as a misogynistic loudmouth, she has done this quite successfully.

      But beyond the political window-dressing and empty rhetoric, Clinton’s record on women and families should not only lose her the support of American women, it should qualify her as one of the most anti-woman candidates in history. For while modest progress has been made toward some semblance of gender equality, it is the actions of Clinton herself that have done more than any other single individual to harm women and families. Slick public relations aside, Hillary Clinton may very well be the most anti-woman candidate in generations.

    • What Does It Mean When War Hawks Say, “Never Trump”?

      Keep in mind that this is just a taste of the CVs of this list of 50 Republican foreign policy and national security luminaries who took out after The Donald.

      With any luck, between his indirect call to assassinate his opponent and the latest news about his campaign director Paul Manafort’s shady Ukraine connections, we have now reached Peak Trump. With supporters bolting on all sides, it’s just possible that we won’t have Trump to kick around forever.

      But we shouldn’t forget that the party that made Trump possible is also the home of the crooks, liars, and war criminals now eager to disown him. The enemies of our enemy are not our — or the world’s — friends.

      Rebecca Gordon, a TomDispatch regular, teaches in the philosophy department at the University of San Francisco. She is the author of American Nuremberg: The U.S. Officials Who Should Stand Trial for Post-9/11 War Crimes (Hot Books). Her previous books include Mainstreaming Torture: Ethical Approaches in the Post-9/11 United States and Letters from Nicaragua.

      Follow TomDispatch on Twitter and join us on Facebook. Check out the newest Dispatch Book, Nick Turse’s Next Time They’ll Come to Count the Dead, and Tom Engelhardt’s latest book, Shadow Government: Surveillance, Secret Wars, and a Global Security State in a Single-Superpower World.

    • A Slow River Flows Through the Campaigns

      That’s pretty extreme for elite academics—to say that science is pointing us back toward religion. The Ehrlichs believe that we are stuck in the essential inaction of right-thinking, spinning speeches, wonkyness, clicktavism, lobbying and marketing, i. e. modern politics—as the Earth heats up. In the Church of Stop Shopping we agree, we need to break out of these repetitions. And cut out the patriarch and invite in the Earth. Amen?

      The Ehrlichs bold move reminds me of Dr. Cornel West’s stop-everything sermons at the last months’ Democrat platform hearings. He froze the Clinton professionals with dread. Dr. West spoke openly of the soul, prophecy, the agony of Gaza, and what it means to hesitate with your morals, as if to warn the Clinton professionals that they would be depressed by their hack work.

      The video footage of that panel is fascinating. I felt like the Earth was to about crush the room in the triangle between the preacher and Deborah “water is sacred to my people” Parker and Bill “we need bicycles in the suburbs” McKibben. Debbie Wasserman retired to a back room behind her staring eyes as Gaia’s wind and waves and wildfires seemed to sing to her from multiple faces. And then she voted for fracking, Monsanto, and TPP.

    • Why These Latinas are Voting for the Green Party’s Jill Stein in the Presidential Election

      Despite what mainstream media might have you believing, Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton aren’t the country’s only presidential options. This is good news, considering Americans nominated the two most-disliked candidates for commander in chief in U.S. history. Among those frustrated are Latinxs, who definitely can’t support Trump’s blatant racism and xenophobia but are also side-eyeing Clinton for her perpetuation of systemic violence, particularly impacting communities of color at home and abroad.

      That’s why these Latinas are planning to vote for the Green Party’s Jill Stein in the November election. Ahead, they share why they are supporting the physician-activist-politician.

    • Hillary Clinton Should Follow Jill Stein’s Lead In Louisiana

      On Sunday, Green Party presidential nominee Jill Stein traveled to Baton Rouge to help out with relief and rebuilding efforts following more than a week of intense flooding in Louisiana. She joined local Green Party members to visit displaced residents in and around Baton Rouge, and posted videos online explaining how her supporters could help with disaster relief efforts. President Obama is also expected to arrive in Louisiana on Tuesday after Donald Trump’s recent high-profile visit to Baton Rouge, but Hillary Clinton’s campaign announced that the Democratic nominee would only travel to Louisiana “at a time when the presence of a political campaign will not disrupt the response.” However, Clinton should follow Stein’s lead in helping with relief efforts on the ground.

      That’s not to say that Clinton hasn’t addressed the situation in Louisiana. She reportedly called Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards late last week, and a post on her official Facebook page urged her supporters to donate to the Red Cross and the Baton Rouge Area Foundation. “My heart breaks for Louisiana, and right now, the relief effort can’t afford any distractions,” the post read. “The very best way this team can help is to make sure Louisianans have the resources they need.”

    • I’m a Bernie backer and I refuse to support Hillary

      I mean, why pick a pro-life, pro-offshore-drilling, pro-TPP white male as your vice president if you want to unify with Sanders supporters?

      It’s clear why: Because Clinton cannot represent the progressive vote and, guess what? Neither can the Democratic Party. Not anymore.

      Now, maybe you’re thinking that it’s Clinton and her crony politics that are the problem, not the entire Democratic Party. I’ll give you that. It’s not the entire party. It’s just too much of the party to make staying and fighting worth it.

      It’s like a good friend of mine says: It’s an abusive relationship. You know it is so unhealthy to stay with this abusive person and that you deserve better. You know in reality that this person are not going to change. Yet, you stay.

      Why? Fear is at the core.

      You stay, that is, until that magical day when enough is enough. Well guess what, my friends? That day has come. Hope can be a beautiful thing. Hope can also be extremely destructive and blinding.

      For me, that moment came when the DNC and Wasserman Schultz colluded against Sanders, stacking the deck against him and manipulating the odds in favor of Clinton during the Democratic primary. That was the moment when enough really became enough. Clinton and the entire Democratic establishment are antithetical to the foundation of the United States and to true progressive values.

      Now, don’t get me wrong. By all means, support your down-ticket Berniecrats and progressives. However, I really think it’s time that we revolutionaries shift away from the two-party system, because honestly, both parties are just destructive tidal waves of corruption — tidal waves that, this time, climate change is not responsible for.

    • As She Rakes in the Cash, Clinton Fundraisers Still Shrouded in Secrecy

      Hillary Clinton spent the weekend fundraising in affluent New England communities, speaking to more than 2,200 donors at private brunches and gatherings in Nantucket and Cape Cod—but what she told them “remains a mystery,” the Associated Press reported Monday.

      The fundraising effort—which follows her campaign’s most lucrative month so far with a $63 million gain in July—underscores Clinton’s continued evasion of transparency over her ties to wealthy elites. In fact, of the roughly 300 fundraising events she has held since announcing her White House run in April 2015, only five have allowed any press coverage, and Clinton has attempted to ban the use of social media among guests, according to the AP.

    • The Populist Uprising Isn’t Over; It’s Only Just Begun

      But Frank is waving the white flag when the struggle has only just begun. One needn’t have illusions or hopes about a Hillary Clinton presidency to think that the old order can’t be sustained. Both elites and dissenters tend, I believe, to underestimate the scope and the devastation of the establishment failure both at home and abroad.

      America is a rich country, awash in entertainment. People have little time and few outlets for real political education. Labor and the left are weak. The Democratic Party is a fundraising and recruitment machine, not a source of political education. The truly desperate tend to be isolated, locked up and kept out of sight.

      But what we’ve seen in this election — and in the elections of 2008 and 2012 – is that Americans are catching onto the game. They are working harder and losing ground. They suffered through the Great Recession, and have witnessed the wars without end and without victory. They’ve seen their kids graduate from college and come back home burdened by debt. Poor people of color are in many cities more segregated and in worse condition than they were in the Jim Crow South. They are casting about for a change.

    • Missing: FBI files linking Hillary Clinton to the ‘suicide’ of White House counsel Vince Foster have vanished from the National Archives

      Documents describing Hillary Clinton’s role in the death of White House counsel Vince Foster have vanished, Daily Mail Online has learned after an extensive investigation

    • Trickle Down Election Economics: How Big Money Can Affect Small Races

      At a press event in Kingston, New York, a Hudson Valley community about 90 miles north of Manhattan, the local Democratic congressional candidate, Zephyr Teachout, earlier this month called for a debate. But not with her Republican opponent, John Faso.

      Instead she issued the challenge to two high-rolling hedge fund bosses who back him.

      [...]

      “When someone writes a $500,000 check they don’t do it out of the goodness of their heart, continued Teachout, a Fordham University law professor who literally wrote the book on political quid pro quos: In 2014, her Corruption in America: From Benjamin Franklin’s Snuff Box to Citizens United, laid out a strong argument for what she calls “prophylactic” anti-corruption laws that focus on preventing the circumstances that give rise to corruption rather than prosecuting it after the fact.

    • Powell talks Clinton emails: ‘Her people are trying to pin it on me’
    • Why Colin Powell is a bad enemy for Hillary Clinton to make
    • The FBI found 15,000 emails Hillary Clinton didn’t turn over. Uh oh.
    • Clinton emails recovered by FBI to be released just before election day
  • Censorship/Free Speech
    • KickassTorrents ‘Front Company’ Disappears From Web

      According to the United States Government, KickassTorrents was operated through Cryptoneat, an alleged “front company” located in Ukraine. Now, however, Cryptoneat’s web’s presence is no more. In addition to the disappearance of its website, the company’s main domain has just expired.

    • How Facebook censors your posts (FAQ)

      Facebook doesn’t disclose how many times people post, how many live videos are streamed or how many posts it’s deleted. It has said it’s responded to about 20,000 law enforcement requests over a five-month period last year.

      Activists say Facebook needs to more clearly spell out policies, particularly after what happened with Gaines.

    • Groups question Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg on why Korryn Gaines’ account was shut down

      The following video depicts a confrontation between Baltimore County Police and Korryn Gaines during a standoff on Monday, August 1.

    • Police Continue to Withhold Information in Case of Korryn Gaines

      In Maryland, Baltimore County police say they will continue to withhold the names of the officers involved in the August 1 shooting of Korryn Gaines, a 23-year-old African-American mother shot by police in her apartment after an hours-long standoff. The officer who shot Gaines has been assigned to administrative duties. There is body camera footage of the standoff prior to the shooting, but police claim there is no footage of the shooting itself. Gaines live-streamed the beginning of the standoff on Facebook, before Facebook responded to a police request to shut down Gaines’s account. The NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund and activists have both questioned official police accounts of the shooting. Gaines’s five-year-old son, Kodi, was also injured by police gunfire. This is Gaines’s cousin, Creo Brady, speaking last week at her funeral.

    • India Criminalizes Merely Visiting A Copyright Infringing ‘Blocked’ Site

      The Indian film industry has long had a complicated relationship with piracy. After all, India’s Bollywood regularly produces the most films of any other country in the world (it’s often neck and neck with Nigeria). That seems to be a sign that the market is pretty healthy. After all, filmmakers keep telling us that piracy is going to destroy their reasons for making films… and yet here’s a market that’s making tons and tons of films (many of which are excellent). And, as we’ve noted in the past, the film studios in India are making lots of money, in part because they’re competing effectively against piracy. And, then you even have some Indian filmmakers who recognize that piracy helps spread the message of their films to a wider audience.

      And yet… because it’s (oooooh! scary!) “piracy,” there will always be some who freak out and come up with bad ideas. Apparently, one of those bad ideas is now the law. After already putting in place dumb site blocking laws that force ISPs, under court order, to block access to sites deemed hubs of infringement, the Indian government now says that getting around one of those blocks (hi there, VPN user!) is a criminal act that could get you three years in jail.

      “What are you in for?” “Me? I used a VPN to access Archive.org.”

      Think I’m joking? The Internet Archive was included in the ban list. As was GitHub and Vimeo.

    • Turkish journalists honour international organisations

      The Journalists Association of Turkey (TGC) on Thursday gave a 2016 Press Freedom Award to a coalition of international organisations, including Index on Censorship, that have worked in concert since last year to support journalists in the country and fight an ongoing deterioration in the state of press freedom.

      “Press freedom cannot be taken for granted in any country and requires us to be constantly vigilant. As the post-coup crackdown continues, Index’s project Mapping Media Freedom is registering threats to the media, as well as publishing work from censored journalists, to help bring international attention to the issues. Index is grateful to be recognised for its work on behalf of the journalists of Turkey,” Rachael Jolley, deputy chief executive of Index on Censorship said.

    • Donald Trump Has Freed Up Journalists’ Ability To Call Bullshit; But It Won’t Last, Nor Extend To Others

      The question is what does this actually mean for journalism? Goodwin, at the Post, sees this as the downfall of journalism. The fact that the media will actually call someone out on their lies is seen as “bias” because it’s not done equally to other candidates. Klein sees this as a temporary state of being — because most other candidates will return to their truthy wrongness with the press happy to eat that up, with nothing more than a “he said/she said” type of false equivalency when there’s some question about the facts.

      Another writer, Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry, more or less agrees with Goodwin that this is somehow freeing the press up to be biased, after noting how much he disagrees with Trump — but worries about the press feeling emboldened.

    • Did The NY Times Give Up Its Journalism Standards The Second Facebook Threw A Few Million Its Way?

      Last month, we discussed how Facebook was apparently forking over truckloads of cash to various media companies to get them to use Facebook Live, the company’s new livestreaming video platform. This arrangement struck us as odd — and potentially an FTC violation, in that these media companies are basically promoting and endorsing Facebook’s product, after getting paid millions of dollars, without ever disclosing the payments and the relationship. That seems… questionable. Apparently the two largest recipients of the cash were Buzzfeed and the NY Times, who each got over $3 million to stream these videos. Buzzfeed, for its part, has embraced the ridiculousness of this situation with Buzzfeedian gusto, putting on stunts like livestreaming exploding a watermelon with rubberbands. But that’s kind of what you’d expect from Buzzfeed.

      The NY Times, on the other hand, is a bit of a different beast. The newspaper likes to pride itself on being serious, careful, thoughtful journalism. And while that’s often a lot more what the people there tell themselves than reality, it does raise some questions about what the NY Times is doing with that $3+ million and how journalistic it is. Apparently, I’m not the only one to wonder about this, as the NY Times recently appointed public editor, Liz Spayd, is concerned about what the NY Times is doing here as well.

    • Anti-Piracy Operations Are Fabricating Links To Non-Existent Torrents In DMCA Notices

      Okay, so you can see how this happened. The anti-piracy groups understood just enough about how the torrent cache sites worked, that they automated sending takedowns based on torrent hashes on the assumption that those torrents would also show up via the cache sites. Okay, understandable. But here’s the problem: they never checked to see if those links ever existed. Hell, it sounds like they never even visited Zoink.it again for at least the past two years.

      And yet they sent takedowns for links there.

      So how can these companies actually claim that they know these “files” are infringing, when they clearly never even checked the links, let alone the fact that the site they’re accusing of infringement, hasn’t even been up for two years?

      The TorrentFreak article notes that this is not a one-off thing. They found other anti-piracy groups sending takedowns for more non-existent torrents on the same non-existing sites. We know that these fly-by-night operations don’t bother to check the files to see if they’re actually infringing material, but now we know they don’t even seem to check to see if sites or links ever actually existed in the first place.

    • Gawker to Shut Down Next Week

      In media news, the digital outlet Gawker will shut down next week. Gawker was ordered to pay $140 million in a lawsuit for publishing a sex tape of wrestler Hulk Hogan. Hogan’s lawsuit was financially backed by Silicon Valley billionaire Peter Thiel, who was outed as gay by a now-defunct Gawker blog.

    • Conflating abuse with criticism of Islam risks a return to a UK blasphemy law

      The BBC has made much of a report from Demos warning that thousands of ‘Islamophobic’ tweets are sent in English every day. But the researchers, like everybody else who uses the term, have totally failed to define what ‘Islamophobia’ actually means.

      The research by Demos into ‘Islamophobia’ was reported by the BBC under the headline “Islamophobic tweets ‘peaked in July’”. From reading the BBC report you might imagine that 7,000 bigoted and anti-Muslim tweets were sent every day in July.

      In fact, Demos have inadvertently set out what has been warned of for many years; that ‘Islamophobia’ is a nonsense word with sinister implications.

      On reading the report it is clear that the Demos research isn’t just focused on anti-Muslim tweets, or bigotry against Muslims, but, as they define it in their research paper, “anti-Islamic ideas”.

      [...]

      Anti-Muslim bigotry and criticism of Islam are separate phenomenon, they may overlap, there are some who engage in both, but it is methodologically meaningless to consider both of these things in one term. That is why Demos’ researchers found ‘Islamophobia’ “challenging” to define.

      What they have produced is therefore subjective, as Demos admit: “Ultimately, this research comes down to the judgement of the researchers involved.”

      Demos argue that Islamic terror attacks drive ‘Islamophobic’ tweets. Perhaps challenging Islamism would therefore be a good place to start if you want to cut anti-Muslim bigotry off at the source?

      The implications of this term’s use are very unsettling. The moral equivalence that is being drawn, increasingly, between abuse against Muslims, and the robust criticism of an idea (Islam), poses an immense threat to freedom of speech.

    • Nation Mirror calls on authorities not to censor their work

      The Nation Mirror newspaper has issued a statement complaining of “censorship and repression” after authorities in Juba on Thursday demanded that an article be removed from the paper, leading to suspension of printing in order to avoid confiscation of papers the following morning.

      The newspaper did not appear on news stands on Sunday. Censors in Juba had deemed a report about Riek Machar’s escape from South Sudan to Congo to sensitive for publication.

    • How To Escape The Challenges Of Internet Censorship

      Internet censorship is a barrier while enjoying the benefits of internet technology. This censorship is for the safety and welfare of the internet users. Yet, you cannot ignore that the process is a distraction. This article will discuss the probable ways as how to avoid censorship on the Internet.

    • Defeating Turkey’s censorship is a US national security interest
    • Wikipedia co-founder gets his Twitter account hacked
    • Wikipedia co-founder Jimmy Wales’ Twitter account hacked
    • Wikipedia co-founder’s Twitter account hacked
    • Hacking group OurMine strikes next victim taking over Wikipedia co-founder Jimmy Wales’ Twitter account
    • Twitter account of WikiPedia Founder Jimmy Wales Hacked by OurMine
    • Wikipedia Co-Founder Jimmy Wales’ Twitter Account Hacked By OurMine
    • OurMine Hacks Twitter Account of Wikipedia Co-Founder Jimmy Wales
    • Wikipedia Founder Jimmy Wales Hacked
    • Hackers Hit Twitter Account of Wikipedia Co-Founder
    • OurMine hacks Wikipedia co-founder
    • Why the internet thought Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales was dead
  • Privacy/Surveillance
  • Civil Rights/Policing
    • The NYPD’s Third ‘Forfeiture’ Option: Call Seized Items ‘Evidence;’ Never Give Them Back

      Clavasquin’s iPhone was seized in the summer of 2015. His case was dismissed in December. The phone is still in the possession of the NYPD while Clavasquin has continued making monthly service contract payments for a phone he can’t use.

      The article points out that this noxious blend of asset seizure and bureaucratic malaise affects “hundreds, if not thousands” of New York City arrestees. The city is now facing a class-action lawsuit over this process, filed by Clavasquin and two others with the help of Brooklyn Defenders. In these cases, neither form of asset forfeiture — civil or criminal — is being used. Instead, the NYPD is tying up possessions seized during arrests in miles of red tape, subverting what would appear from the outside to be a straightforward, two-step process: case dismissed, items returned.

      Even if someone is able to move heaven, earth, and the District Attorney’s office, that’s not the end of the frustration. One thing most arrestees carry often disappears into the evidence locker as well, greatly increasing the difficulty of retrieving possessions.

    • Uncovering a $1 Billion Deal to Detain Unauthorized Immigrants

      Last week, the U.S. Department of Justice announced that it would phase out its use of private prisons. While significant, the move will not put an end to the booming immigrant detention industry. Private prison companies will continue to receive millions in government contracts to detain unauthorized immigrants.

      Even though private prison companies play a central role in the government’s immigration strategy, the financial dealings between the two are often opaque. In his piece for the Washington Post, reporter Chico Harlan sheds light on one of these secretive arrangements, detailing a $1 billion deal between the Obama Administration and Corrections Corporation of America, also known as CCA, the largest private prison company in the country.

    • Shoot First

      Coast Guard Fired at Migrant Boats, European Border Agency Documents Show

    • KING: North Carolina police kill unarmed deaf man using sign language

      A North Carolina state trooper shot and killed 29-year-old Daniel Harris — who was not only unarmed, but deaf — just feet from his home, over a speeding violation. According to early reports from neighbors who witnessed the shooting this past Thursday night, Harris was shot and killed “almost immediately” after exiting his vehicle.

      He appeared to be trying to communicate with the officer via sign language.

      “They should’ve de-escalated and been trained to realize that this is an entirely different situation,” neighbor Mark Barringer said. “You’re pulling someone over who is deaf, they are handicapped. To me, what happened is totally unacceptable.”

    • Muslim, American, & Intersectional: The Activism of Linda Sarsour

      TO THOSE WHO DON’T KNOW HER, Linda Sarsour might seem out of place in the lobby of the Public Theater on a blustery January night.

      Sarsour, head of the Arab-American Association of New York, waits patiently to enter the theater’s concert venue, where the folk-and-blues musician Toshi Reagon is to play. A radical lesbian icon, Reagon boasts an incredibly wide-ranging and diverse following. But Sarsour stands out in her brightly colored hijab, the head covering associated with her Muslim faith.

      Anyone familiar with her, though, would not be surprised at all, nor would they be surprised that tonight’s concert is a benefit for Sarsour’s group.

      “One of the reasons I want to support this organization,” Reagon says between songs, donning a “Stop Profiling Muslims” T-shirt, “is that this organization is inclusive. I see them reaching out to all kinds of people.”

    • Police Unions To City Officials: If You Want Good, Accountable Cops, You’ll Need To Pay Them More

      Three police unions in different cities have come forward to insert their feet in their mouths following changes to department policies. The thrust of their terrible arguments? Cops should be paid more for doing their job properly.

      In Cincinnati, officers are being outfitted with body cameras. This, of course, has sent the local Fraternal Order of Police into defense mode. The FOP sent a letter to the city stating that officers won’t be wearing the cameras until they’re given more money. The union apparently believes any increase in officer accountability should be accompanied by an increase in pay.

    • Ramen is displacing tobacco as most popular US prison currency, study finds

      Ramen noodles are overtaking tobacco as the most popular currency in US prisons, according a new study released on Monday.

      A new report by Michael Gibson-Light, a doctoral candidate in the University of Arizona’s school of sociology, found the decline in quality and quantity of food available in prisons due to cost-cutting has made ramen noodles a valuable commodity.

    • Justice Department Plans to Stop Using Private Prisons

      The Department of Justice will stop contracting with private prisons, the department announced Thursday morning. The decision comes a week after the DOJ inspector general released a damning report on the safety, security, and oversight of private prisons, which incarcerate 12 percent of federal inmates.

      The announcement comes on the heels of a Mother Jones investigation of a private prison in Louisiana that found serious deficiencies in staffing and security. It also documented a higher rate of violence than the prison reported. Last week’s DOJ report found that private prisons are more violent than federal prisons.

    • Hats Off To Mother Jones

      The road to Social Security privatization is the “reform” of the consumer price index, which under-measures inflation in order to deny Social Security recipients cost-of-living-adjustments. The continuing decline in the real value of Social Security benefits will result in large-scale economic distress. This distress will be used to discredit the Social Security system and to privatize it.

      Whenever you hear “privatization,” you are hearing the formation of a scam that will create riches for insiders while taking the public to the cleaners.

    • Team GB’s Olympic triumph is testament to the benefits of social democracy

      Team GB’s second place in the Rio medals table is nothing less than staggering. It is only 20 years ago that the squad returned with a solitary gold from Atlanta ’96 clinging on to 36th in the table. This sporting nation is now ranked alongside the Olympian superpowers of USA and China. If it hadn’t been for the partial International Olympic Committee ban on their competitors, Russia would have been in the mix too, but this still remains a remarkable Team GB medal haul.

      Unlike the football World Cup, the Olympics medal table is by and large an indicator of global economic and political power. When it comes to the Olympics, the more you have to plough into sport facilities and training for promising young athletes, the better you’re likely to do. Conversely, the superpower nations of USA, China and Russia have not come close to claiming a single men’s Football World Cup title between them. The Olympics is a different story. So how has Great Britain, not a superpower in the same league, ended up on top of the olympic pile?

    • The Right To Draw Air

      Less than two months after he was filmed hysterically waving his gun and screaming expletives at a bloodied dying Philando Castile, having just killed him for pulling out his ID as instructed during a traffic stop, St. Anthony’s police officer Jeronimo Yanez has returned to work on desk duty. With the shooting still under review, Yanez, 28, was praised by St. Anthony Police Chief Jon Mangseth as a good officer with “a real sound ability when it comes to communicating and relating to people.”

      Outside the St. Anthony’s Police Department last week, Castile’s still-grieving family and friends protested Yanez’ return as “another slap in the face”and “the wrong signal” to send to a black community reeling both locally and nationwide from too many deaths at the hands of racist police. Castile’s mother Valerie charged that police were “trying to sweep (another unjust death) under the rug” but vowed, “We’re not going to let this one go.” Meanwhile, the community has sought to channel their grief and rage by fundraising for a scholarship in Philando’s name at the school where he worked.

    • Virginia Just Took Step to Uproot ‘Tragic History of Voter Suppression’

      Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe on Monday restored the voting rights of roughly 13,000 felons—a development aimed at stopping his state from being “an outlier in the struggle for civil and human rights.”

      “The Virginia Constitution is clear,” he said in his announcement at the Civil Rights Memorial on Capitol Square in Richmond. “I have the authority to restore civil rights without limitation.”

      In April, McAuliffe issued an order restoring voting rights to roughly 200,000 convicted felons. The move was widely heralded by civil rights organizations, and it was supported by 61 percent of Virginians. But in July the Supreme Court of Virginia sided with Republican lawmakers and struck down that order, finding that McAuliffe had overstepped his authority.

    • Virginia Restores Right to Vote to Thousands of Ex-Felons

      Nearly 13,000 former felons in Virginia had their right to vote restored Monday—and more could be re-enfranchised in time for the November election.

      Gov. Terry McAuliffe announced the rights restoration at a civil-rights memorial in Richmond.

      “Restoring the rights of Virginians who have served their time and live, work and pay taxes in our communities is one of the pressing civil rights issues of our day,” McAuliffe said in a statement. “I have met these men and women and know how sincerely they want to contribute to our society as full citizens again.”

    • The Idea of Peace in the Quran

      Perhaps because it arose during a great seventh-century war between the Byzantine and Iranian empires, peace (al-salam) was a profound concern for the Qur’an. An early chapter (97) of the Qur’an comments on the first revelation given to the prophet, in 610, while he was meditating at a cavern at Mt. Hira near Mecca. It speaks of a descent of angels and of the Holy Spirit on the night of power when the revelation was sent down, ending with the verse “And peace it is, until the breaking of the dawn.” This verse identifies the night of revelation, and therefore the revelation itself, with peace. Peace in Semitic languages like Hebrew and Arabic is not only conceived of as an absence of conflict, but as a positive conception, of well-being. The revelation and recitation of scripture, Chapter 97 is saying, brings inner peace to the believer.

    • Where the Death Penalty Still Lives

      On a Saturday evening in July 2013, just before 6:30, James Rhodes was recorded on a surveillance camera walking into a Metro PCS cellphone store in Jacksonville, Fla. He was wearing a black do-rag and a blue bandanna, which he pulled over his nose and mouth. Shelby Farah, the store manager, stood behind the counter. Rhodes pointed a gun at her and demanded the money in the cash register. Shelby gave it to him. Then Rhodes shot her in the head. She was 20 years old. He was 21.

    • Turkish Journalist Jailed for Terrorism Was Framed, Forensics Report Shows

      Turkish investigative journalist Barış Pehlivan spent 19 months in jail, accused of terrorism based on documents found on his work computer. But when digital forensics experts examined his PC, they discovered that those files were put there by someone who removed the hard drive from the case, copied the documents, and then reinstalled the hard drive.

      The attackers also attempted to control the journalist’s machine remotely, trying to infect it using malicious email attachments and thumb drives. Among the viruses detected in his computer was an extremely rare trojan called Ahtapot, in one of the only times it’s been seen in the wild.

      “We have never seen a computer attacked as ferociously as Barış’s. The attackers seemed to pull everything out of their bag of tricks,” Mark Spencer, digital forensics expert at Arsenal Consulting, said.

    • RAMADAN TRAIN WRECK Muslim train driver crashed after going without food or drink for 15 hours during Ramadan

      The Great Western driver went through a double red light at London’s Paddington Station in June.

      He made an emergency stop after realising his error but the empty train left the tracks, hit a gantry and brought down power lines at 6.12pm.

    • ‘Belmarsh HERO’ Hate preacher Anjem Choudary ‘raising an army of extremists’ behind bars

      The news comes as the Government prepares to launch a crackdown on radicalisation behind bars.

      Choudary, 49, is being held in a single cell inside the most secure part of Belmarsh Prison.

      He has been isolated from the bulk of the jail’s 900 inmates for several months to prevent him from spreading his poisonous ideology.

    • Boy, 8, dies in Swedish hand grenade blast

      Emergency services were called to the building at around 3am when a large explosion was heard from its third floor. At least five children and several adults were inside at the time, said police, and an eight-year-old child who had suffered serious injuries later died in hospital.

      “It could have ended much worse,” said police spokesperson Thomas Fuxborg.

      The incident has been given a preliminary classification of murder/manslaughter by authorities, who also said that individuals convicted of serious violent crimes were living in the residence.

      Police have confirmed that one of the men convicted over a fatal shooting at a restaurant in the area last year was registered at the address. They are investigating revenge as a potential motive.

      “We’ll have to see if the motive is linked to that. Our theory is that it may be,” said Fuxborg.

    • Muslim convert, 35, ‘jumped out of his car to knock out a schoolboy for hugging his girlfriend in the street’

      A Muslim ‘bully’ grabbed a schoolboy by the throat and threw him to the ground because he saw him hugging a girl in the street, a court heard today.

      Michael Coe, 35, was driving through Newham in East London when he spotted the two 16-year-olds cuddling on the pavement, it is claimed.

      He allegedly confronted the pair, demanding to know if they were Muslims, before calling the girl a ‘whore’.

      Coe was said to have grabbed the boy by the throat, causing him to black out, before he woke up bleeding on the floor.

    • Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte Fires ‘Thousands’ of Government Officials

      Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte announced on Sunday that he would be sacking every member of his administration who was appointed by a previous President. The move — the latest in what Duterte calls a campaign against corruption — is one of several that have left critics troubled over what they say is an excessive wielding of executive power.

      “Until now, in my provincial visits, I still hear that corruption is being committed,” he said in a long press conference in the earliest hours of Sunday morning, according to the Philippine Daily Inquirer. “My mouth is, as they say, lousy. If you are there because of a presidential appointment, I will declare all your positions, all throughout the country, vacant.”

      As for the number of government employees to be sacked: “It will number in the thousands.”

      Duterte, formerly the tough-on-crime mayor of the city of Davao, has long been known as a bombastic firebrand, but in the less than two months since he was inaugurated as President of the Southeast Asian nation, many there have expressed concern over what that zeal means at the level of federal politics. He has in recent weeks threatened to impose “martial law” if the country’s judiciary infringes upon his campaign to eradicate drugs from the country — an exercise that has left hundreds dead.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality
    • Romania’s telecom regulator to boost competition

      Romania’s Telecom Regulator ANCOM wants to increase competition in the country’s mobile and fixed telecommunication services, the agency announced in August. ANCOM published its “Strategy for digital communications up to 2020”, “diagnosing the current status of the communications sector in Romania, as well as the future trends.”

    • T-Mobile, Sprint Tap Dance Over, Under, And Around Net Neutrality

      For some time now T-Mobile has been accused of violating net neutrality by exempting the nation’s biggest video services from its usage caps, and throttling all video on the network by default to 1.5 Mbps or 480p. Net neutrality advocates have repeatedly warned that giving some content or companies a leg up and fiddling with service quality sets a horrible precedent, and research has shown T-Mobile’s system to be unreliable and exploitable. Still, T-Mobile has so far received applause from many regulators, media outlets and customers operating under the belief consumers are getting something for free.

      As such, however bad the precedent being set here, there’s no real political pressure on the FCC to act since consumers are effectively applauding what many believe to be a net neutrality violation. The FCC’s net neutrality rules don’t specifically prohibit zero rating, something we’ve long argued opens the door to creative abuses of net neutrality to thunderous applause, which is effectively what’s happening here. The rules do require the FCC to explore whether zero rating is anti-competitive on a “case by case” basis, but so far, outside of a few letters, the FCC doesn’t seem particularly pressed to take action.

  • Intellectual Monopolies
    • Appeals Court Tosses Lawsuit Against Broadcasters For Violating Publicity Rights During Football Game Broadcasts

      Javon Marshall — a former college athlete spearheading a putative class action against several broadcasters for uncompensated use of his likeness — has just seen the Sixth Circuit Appeals Court send him (and everyone “similarly situated”) back home without a parting gift.

      Marshall — like many others who believe the mere existence of intellectual property protections entitles them to a paycheck — sued a long list of broadcasters for allegedly violating the Lanham Act and the Tennessee “right of publicity” law by not paying him and other athletes for using his name and “image” in game broadcasts and advertising. Marshall also claimed the NCAA’s waiver student-athletes sign is “vague and unenforceable.” That may very well be, but that claim was never addressed by the plaintiff and the NCAA was never a defendant. It only served as an introduction to a long list of alleged violations [PDF] that the lower court determined to be baseless accusations.

    • Trademarks
      • A Test He Couldn’t Pass: College Admissions Expert Loses Domain

        Get into Harvard? Not this way. That’s the message of a World Intellectual Property Organization dispute panel after ruling the website harvard-review.com confusingly uses the name of a famous university in promoting skills training for college admissions tests, without authorisation.

    • Copyrights
      • New IP law titles: from EU copyright to ISP liability

        For some odd reasons, it seems that many good IP titles are being released at a time of the year when – at least in the Northern hemisphere – the attention for anything that relates to IP is increasingly and acutely replaced by a slightly stronger interest for holidays, sunshine, and the outdoors.

The Linux Foundation Gives Microsoft (Paid-for) Keynote Position While Microsoft Extorts (With Patents) Lenovo and Motorola Over Linux Use

Tuesday 23rd of August 2016 09:45:59 AM

Another outrageous patent settlement that requires Microsoft bundling, but the Linux Foundation is too bribed by Microsoft to actually antagonise it any longer

“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: This morning’s reminder that Nadella is just another Ballmer (with a different face); Motorola and Lenovo surrender to Microsoft’s patent demands and will soon put Microsoft spyware/malware on their Linux-powered products to avert costly legal battles

MICROSOFT is not a friend. It’s a predator. It just changed the logo, the PR, and the CEO. It also started paying more and more money to its critics, including Linux OEMs, to keep them quiet. “Microsoft Keynoting LinuxCon,” said a headline from Phoronix yesterday. What it failed to say is that Microsoft actually pays the Linux Foundation to infiltrate it. This has gone on for a while. Earlier this month the Linux Foundation posted a Microsoft puff piece paid for by Microsoft. We mentioned it this worrisome development the other day (to their credit, the Linux Foundation did add a disclosure to this). The payment was made under the pretense of supporting a conference (i.e. interjecting Microsoft stuff into it).

Is Microsoft becoming more open? No, it’s spying more and more. All the core products are proprietary. What is PowerShell all about? Openwashing. “Embrace and extend” of wget and curl (soon to have Mono as well) while claiming to be “opening up” a part of Windows, which is proprietary spyware that defies law (and had Microsoft lose cases in court).

But never mind all the above. Has Microsoft actually made peace with GNU/Linux? Hardly. Au contraire. Microsoft is still attacking GNU/Linux. If “Microsoft loves Linux,” then it sure shows it like an abusive spouse that beats up the wife (to borrow the analogy from Simon Phipps). Microsoft extorts Linux again, but it has bamboozled the media like it first did when it attacked Acer. It did this several times more thereafter and we covered it earlier this year, e.g. in:

Remember what happened to Samsung when it said “No!”

Microsoft took it to court and Samsung later settled with bundling (early 2015). That’s like racketeering, but Microsoft is far too politically-connected to face charges under the RICO Act.

In the past, Microsoft was offering payments for bundling; right now, instead, it’s a patent settlement. A patent settlement over what? Linux. The media is calling it all sorts of things other than patent settlement (after threats), which is what it really is. Here is the coverage we see right now (misleading):

The following two articles suggest that Motorola too (already sued by Microsoft over patents) is a victim of this strategy:

All that Microsoft is trying to achieve here is control over Linux (or Android) users, e.g. using Skype malware. People who actually think that Microsoft has changed need to reassess their trust in corporate media (much of the above is Microsoft-connected media and Microsoft advocacy sites that help mislead other media).

Not Just President Battistelli: EPO Vice-Presidents Are Still Intentionally Misrepresenting EPO Staff

Monday 22nd of August 2016 01:48:00 PM

“In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act”

“Truth is treason in the empire of lies” (attribution note)

Summary: Evidence serving to show that EPO Vice-Presidents are still intentionally misrepresenting EPO staff representatives and misleading everyone in order to defend Battistelli

THE previous post about Battistelli's lies would not be complete without showing that his loyal goons (those who have historically been like his lapdogs) also distort the facts and blatantly lie.

Here is a document regarding the above-the-law Vice-President:

Here is a document regarding the EPO Vice-President who faces many criminal charges (and arrogantly believes he is above the law, so he refuses to even attend court hearings he's summoned to attend):

The moral and ethical erosion at the EPO‘s top-level management isn’t too hard to see. It is sad if not depressing to see what was once a reputable institution. Witness what it has sunk to because of misguided and highly abusive men (yes, men) in suits. When even flagrant disregard for the truth has become so banal/mundane how are patent applicants expected to come to the EPO for (patent) justice?

Misleading publications that are published only in the Intranet or passed internally (personally) between managers are hard to get a hold of and we receive legal threats for publishing them. Without these, showing the rot inside the EPO is a lot harder (there are virtually no whistleblower protections in the land of Eponia, which serves to hide serious abuse).

Battistelli the Liar Causes a Climate of Confrontation in French Politics, Lies About Patent Quality (Among Many Other Things)

Monday 22nd of August 2016 01:12:05 PM

Battistelli the politician (chronic liar) uses political tricks to give an impression of legitimacy


Source (original): Rospatent

Summary: Battistelli’s lies are coming under increased scrutiny inside and outside the European Patent Office (EPO), where patent quality has been abandoned in order to artificially elevate figures

CATCHING EPO officials in a lie has become far too easy. They’re lying to journalists, they’re lying to their own staff, and we have given plenty of examples of this. It would actually be an improvement if they stopped saying anything at all, following the “silence is gold” mantra.

“Battistelli lives in the fantasy land of the EPO (which he totally controls) and he really loves the IAM propaganda machine these days.”The EPO is going through an unprecedented crisis, but Battistelli lies about it to the media (even if insiders who are high officials acknowledge it). Dead (or at least dormant) EPO forums are one way for the EPO to distract from terrible internal affairs and PR people just keep pushing a Battistelli lobbying event that’s nearly a year away [1, 2], resorting even to borderline spam like seen in these couple of new examples [1, 2]. They have nothing positive to say, have they?

We recently saw information about Battistelli’s activities report, an oral report given with no citations, just a word of mouth. The information said this: “The President focussed as usual on the very good production (+14% in 2015 and an estimated +9% in 2016) and filing figures as well as claiming that quality had only improved as well: he cited a very positive survey in IAM magazine ranking EPO as the best patent office on quality in the world. He stated further that the social dialogue had intensified [...] He confirmed that a “Social Conference” looking into the conclusions from OHSRA, the social study and the financial study is now planned for 11 October, just ahead of the October Council meeting. He also referred to the reduction in sick-leave days, the success of the Inventor of the Year Award and progress on re-building The Hague.”

“It puts the EPO on un/ethical grounds similar to those of China.”Decline in EPO patent quality has been covered (even with supporting material) for quite some time in Techrights. Battistelli lives in the fantasy land of the EPO (which he totally controls) and he really loves the IAM propaganda machine these days. They produce ‘ammo’ for him. They’re like the think tank which he uses for lies about quality of patents. When does a so-called ‘news’ publication cross the line between journalism and propaganda mill? IAM is on holiday/break right now, but surely they know what to do next year in order to keep the money coming, even if some of it comes from the PR agency of the EPO.

Notice how the above-mentioned events are timed strategically; Timed to pressure the delegates without telling them the enormous cost of this publicity stunt. Some delegates, on the face of it, no longer take what Battistelli says at face value. The information continues as follows: “Unusually, only a few delegations made an intervention following this report. Even these few referred not only to the good filing and production figures, but also raised concerns over to the bad social atmosphere. Quality is becoming a new focus for many delegations: can it be realistically be maintained in the light of such increased productivity demands on DG1? It is not only the granted patent itself, but also the whole search and examination process which must be quality ensured.”

“This should be cause for alarm inside the EPO and outside the EPO.”DG1 is the President’s goon who said on national TV that the EPO would ignore a ruling from the highest court. It puts the EPO on un/ethical grounds similar to those of China. These are basically a bunch of liars and maybe they even believe their own lies. A lot of politicians tend to be like that and one must remember that Battistelli is still a politician. Watch what happened in France a month ago. SUEPO has produced this English translation of a letter in French [PDF], which we included below with highlights in yellow:

F R E N C H
R E P U B L I C

Mr. Jean-Yves Le Déaut
Deputy, President of the OPECST
National Assembly
126 Rue de l’Université – 75355 Paris 07 SP
Paris, 12 July 2016

Jean-Yves LECONTE
Senator representing
French citizens
established outside
France

Dear Deputy, Dear Jean-Yves,

In the capacity of President of OPCEST (Parliamentary Office of Scientific Evaluation and Assessment), you recently travelled to The Hague at the head of a delegation of French parliamentarians in order to visit the European Patent Office there and to meet its President Benoît Battistelli. On this occasion, in particular, you awarded him the “Medal of the National Assembly”.

I am surprised that you have not taken account of the political risks which this visit might incur at a time at which the management of the President is the object of virulent criticism, such as has been made known by us to Mr. Emmanuel Macron, the Minister with responsibility for relationships with this Office (see the two letters enclosed herewith). The most significant of these bears on the decision by the current Executive of the Office to give priority in the registration of patents to “major accounts” from the Anglo-Saxon world, which, while generating substantial income, in particular is also incurring long delays for a large number of French “start-up” companies and small and medium-sized businesses. This issue was raised in particular by Ms. Axelle Lemaire, Secretary of State for Digital Affairs, at a public event which she attended in June 2015 on the occasion of the award of the “European Innovator Prize” organized by the EPO.

As well as this, the present management of the staff is the source of a very great deal of social tension, the most evident signs of which are the suicides of five persons, the sanction procedures, even to the extent of dismissal, imposed against persons who should enjoy protection (staff union representatives), and massive and regular strike actions both at The Hague and in Munich.

The appended note will provide you with more exhaustive details of the reasons for which we have been prompted to request that the Ministers of the Economy, Industry, and Digital Affairs set about the mobilisation of our representatives on the Administrative Council of the EPO, in order for them to obtain, as rapidly as possible, a reorientation of the approach adopted by its President.

I am at your disposal to discuss the points raised in the note, and, in
anticipation of this, I remain

Yours faithfully

Copy:
- The Members of the Parliamentary Office of Scientific Evaluation and Assessment

Enclosures:

- My letter of 21 September 2015 to the Minister of the Economy, Industry, and Digital Affairs;
- My note of 24 November 2015 regarding the situation at the EPO;
- A letter signed jointly by my parliamentary colleagues of 21 April 2016, sent to the Minister of the Economy, Industry, and Digital Affairs.

The EPO has essentially been taken over by a political monster and unless it can detoxify itself some time in the very near future, there will be no turnaround and no recovery. Politicians are used to faking accomplishments in the short term (like CEOs during their terms) and they don’t have any concern about whatever happens once they leave Office. This should be cause for alarm inside the EPO and outside the EPO.

The Collapse of Software Patents and Patent Law Firms Trying to “Overcome” Alice

Monday 22nd of August 2016 12:28:26 PM

Also: Why the EPO rapidly becomes the greater culprit

Summary: The United States continues its gradual crackdown on software patents (which are viewed as abstract and thus unpatentable), whereas in Europe things are murkier than ever

THE US Patent Office (USPTO) begrudgingly comes to grips with the fact that software patents are a passing fad. If the Office continues to grant these and most of the time US courts deem these invalid, what will that say about the Office?

According to this, Alice has just had another belated casualty because “US Pat 5,841,115, Nutritional information system; Killed w/Alice by Google” (a software patent). Google is pursuing software patents on driving and there is growing concern that this “could raise risk of patent litigation” so Google should not be viewed as an innocent victim here. It is growingly part of the problem.

“…many software patents they helped clients get (past, not future) are worthless pieces of paper right now.”In other news, “Patent Claims to Weather Alerts Not Patent-Eligible Under Section 101,” says a pro-software patenting site. “This is an unsurprising result in the post-Alice world,” it concludes. “Claims to alerting functionality can face stiff headwinds when challenged under Section 101, especially when not supported by a specification, or better, claim language, calling out technical improvements.”

One of the most vocal proponents of software patents in Europe took note of it and Watchtroll, probably the most vocal proponent of software patents in the US, is trying to promote ‘cheating’ the system to patent software in spite of Alice. We have come to expect that from Watchtroll, who is stooping quite low these days. They must be nervous and they are panicking as many software patents they helped clients get (past, not future) are worthless pieces of paper right now. Even the Federal Circuit, which helped bring software patents to the US in the first place, has become exceedingly hostile towards them. Here is a new comment from IP Kat:

Anything by the Federal Circuit is of momentary import and cannot be considered “the driver seat.”

This is a direct offshoot of what the Supreme Court has been doing and can be seen to be why the Court refuses to draw any clear lines. They Court simply does not want to be left out of any discussion of eligibility, even as it is beyond the Court’s allocated powers to write law in this area.

So, you may think that you are “moving beyond,” but that is merely a mirage, as you have never left what the Supreme Court has done (is doing) – and that is by design of the Supreme Court.

Do you really think that such critical terms as “abstract” and “significantly more” are left undefined lacking a reason?

NOTHING that the Federal Circuit does is of lasting import in the realm of eligibility. And this is so because basically they lack the backbone to call a spade a spade and to note when the Supreme Court has stepped beyond the Court’s authority when it comes to the difference between interpreting the law and writing the law.

Much to our delight, things are improving in the US (patent scope improved/tightened), whereas in Europe we drift in the opposite direction.

“Much to our delight, things are improving in the US (patent scope improved/tightened), whereas in Europe we drift in the opposite direction.”“Laws in Brussels are written by MNCs (Multi-National-Corporations), and FRAND in DSM is part of it,” Benjamin Henrion wrote yesterday, linking to this upcoming talk titled “DSM, EIF, RED: Acronyms on the EU level and why they matter for software freedom” (some of these are used to sneakily bring software patents to Europe). From the abstract: “In the coming years, the EU is determined to bring its industries to the digital market and acquire a leading position on the global tech market. In order to achieve this ambitious goal of allowing Europe’s “own Google or Facebook” to emerge, the EU has come up with several political and legislative proposals that obviously cannot overlook software. Three or more magic letters combined in an acronym have, therefore, the power to either support innovation and fair competition, or drown the EU in its vendor lock-in completely. The terms “open standards”, “open platforms”, and Free Software are being used more and more often but does it mean that the EU is “opening” up for software freedom for real? My talk will explain how several current EU digital policies interact with Free Software, and each other, and what does it mean to software freedom in Europe.”

Well, FRAND brings software patents to Europe, in spite of them being illegal. Does Brussels even care? The same applies to the EPO under Battistelli’s regime. He certainly does not care about the EPC. He just ignores it. This is why increased focus on internal EPO affairs is worthwhile and the next couple of posts will contain new information about abuse at the top.

Apple’s Patent Wars Against Android/Linux Make Patent Trolls Stronger

Monday 22nd of August 2016 11:53:30 AM

Rounded corners? Apple’s invention!

Summary: Apple’s insistence that designs should be patentable could prove to be collectively expensive, as patent trolls would then use a possible SCOTUS nod to launch litigation campaigns

TROLLS, or patent sharks, typically use software patents, but what if they also had design patents at their disposal?

Apple‘s war on Android, which manifested itself in a now-settled case against HTC and later in a long patent war against Samsung, may prove to be counterproductive now that Apple attracts patent trolls like VirnetX, to which it might be forced to pay billions of dollars. A pro-software patents site now says that “Apple will also be an even richer target for the new breed of design patent trolls” if it wins its case against Samsung/Android (over design patents). To quote this new article:

On October 11, 2016, the Supreme Court will hear Samsung’s appeal of the Federal Circuit’s affirmation of the jury’s damage award to Apple of Samsung’s “total profits” on sales of the infringing smartphones even though it had only infringed Apple’s design of the iPhone’s outer shell. In upholding the “total profits” award, the Federal Circuit determined that it was bound to uphold the jury’s award by the “explicit” and “clear” statutory language relating to design patent infringement damages.

[...]

The importance of the Supreme Court’s ultimate ruling here is underscored by the numerous amicus curiae briefs filed (27 at last count). With over 205 billion in cash reserves at last count, Apple certainly doesn’t “need” the full nine-figure damage award. And, given the far reaching implications of this case, Apple may live to regret its aggressive pursuit of “total profits” for design patent infringement by finding itself battling design patent holders seeking to recover Apple’s total device profits for infringement of even a minor design feature. Apple will also be an even richer target for the new breed of design patent trolls already surfacing based, at least in part, on Apple’s success in this case. Clearly it is time for Congress to step in and amend Section 289 to add apportionment language.

No wonder technology companies are overwhelmingly supportive of Samsung in this case — a high-profile case over design patents.

In other news, Vera Ranieri from the EFF has this new update about one of their high-profile cases against patent trolls. Ranieri writes:

There has been significant activity relating to cases and patent infringement claims made by Shipping & Transit, LLC, formerly known as ArrivalStar. Shipping & Transit, who we’ve written about on numerous occasions, is currently one of the most prolific patent trolls in the country. Lex Machina data indicates that, since January 1, 2016, Shipping & Transit has been named in almost 100 cases. This post provides an update on some of the most important developments in these cases.

In many Shipping & Transit cases, Shipping & Transit has alleged that retailers allowing their customers to track packages sent by USPS infringe various claims of patents owned by Shipping & Transit, despite previously suing (and settling with) USPS. EFF represents a company that Shipping & Transit accused of infringing four patents.

The above is a timely and good example. It demonstrates not just of the harms of patent trolls but also the harms of software patents, which in the large majority of cases rely on them. If Apple made design patents stronger, with affirmation from the Supreme Court (SCOTUS), the damage would be enormous.

Apple is on the wrong side of history.

Links 22/8/2016: Linux 4.8 RC3, Linux Mint 18 “Sarah” KDE Beta

Monday 22nd of August 2016 11:23:03 AM

Contents GNU/Linux Free Software/Open Source
  • The Philosophy of Open Source in Community and Enterprise Software

    Open source software is alive and well, backing most of the systems we take for granted every day. Communities like Github have paved the way for more open collaboration and increased contributions. More software today is branded with the marketing gimmick of being moved “into the cloud”, and into subscription models were people perpetually rent software rather than purchase it. Many of the websites we use are walled gardens of free services that are not open, and which make it intentionally difficult to move your data should you become unsatisfied with the service provider. Much of the opens source software being released today is backend technology or developer tools. We are still a far cry away from having the day to day software we use being truly free, not only in cost, but being able to modify it to our needs and run it anywhere we want.

  • Release management in Open Source projects

    Open source software is widely used today. While there is not a single development method for open source, many successful open source projects are based on widely distributed development models with many independent contributors working together. Traditionally, distributed software development has often been seen as inefficient due to the high level of communication and coordination required during the software development process. Open source has clearly shown that successful software can be developed in a distributed manner.

    The open source community has over time introduced many collaboration systems, such as version control systems and mailing lists, and processes that foster this collaborative development style and improve coordination. In addition to implementing efficient collaboration systems and processes, it has been argued that open source development works because it aims to reduce the level of coordination needed. This is because development is done in parallel streams by independent contributors who work on self-selected tasks. Contributors can work independently and coordination is only required to integrate their work with others.

    Relatively little attention has been paid to release management in open source projects in the literature. Release management, which involves the planning and coordination of software releases and the overall management of releases throughout the life cycle, can be studied from many different aspects. I investigated release management as part of my PhD from the point of view of coordination theory. If open source works so well because of various mechanism to reduce the level of coordination required, what implications does this have on release management which is a time in the development process when everyone needs to come together to align their work?

  • 5 reasons professors should encourage students to get involved in open source projects

    I’ve been supporting student participation in humanitarian free and open source software (HFOSS) projects for over a decade. I’ve seen students get motivated and excited by working in a professional community while they learn and mature professionally. Out of the many reasons for supporting student participation in open source, here are five of the most compelling reasons.

  • When you wake up with a feeling

    One philosophy – Free software. Let me not explain it as a technical debt. Let me explain it as social movement. In age, where people are “bombed” by media, by all-time lying politicians (which use fear of non-existent threats/terror as model to control population), in age where proprietary corporations are selling your freedom so you can gain temporary convenience the term Free software is like Giordano Bruno in age of Inquisitions. Free software does not only preserve your Freedom to software source usage but it preserves your Freedom to think and think out of the box and not being punished for that. It preserves the Freedom to live – to choose what and when to do, without having the negative impact on your or others people lives. The Freedom to be transparent and to share. Because not only ideas grow with sharing, but we, as human beings, grow as we share. The Freedom to say “NO”.

  • Every Simplenote App Is Now Open-Source
  • What do we mean when we talk about software ‘alternatives’?

    OK, so alternative is a malleable term. But it’s bigger than that. It’s not just a question of life with The Munsters, it’s a question of who’s allowed in. With open source, there’s no exclusion; even in the worst case where you feel unwelcome by some community that is building an open source application, you still have access to the code. Then the barrier to entry is your own resolve to learn a new application.

    And that ought to be the standard, no matter what. My Rorschachian responses to application types default to open source, with the alternatives being the ones that you might choose to use if, for whatever reason, you find the ones available to everyone insufficient:

    Office: LibreOffice
    Photo: GIMP
    Video: Kdenlive
    Operating system: Slackware

    The list goes on and on. You define your own alternatives, but my mainstream day-to-day tools are not alternatives. They’re the ones that gets my seal of authenticity, and they’re open to everyone.

  • Events
  • Web Browsers
  • SaaS/Back End
  • Databases
    • MariaDB open-source credentials take a hit

      The open-source credentials of MariaDB, the database company that was born as a fork from MySQL, have taken a hit after it announced that it would be releasing the new version of its MaxScale database proxy software under a proprietary licence.

      MaxScale is vital to monetising the MariaDB software as it enables the deployment of MariaDB databases at scale. Its new version, 2.0, is now available under what the man behind MariaDB, Michael “Monty” Widenius, calls a Business Source Licence. This will switch to the GNU General Public Licence in 2019.

      The licence terms state: “Usage of the software is free when your application uses the software with a total of less than three database server instances for production purposes.”

      Though there is now a fork of MaxScale, it is from the old version from which this was possible. None of the fixes that are in version 2.0 are present.

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC
    • GNU Parallel 20160822 (‘Og Nomekop’) released
    • Second release of eiffel-iup

      I’m glad to announce the second release of eiffel-iup. A wrapper that allow create graphical applications with Liberty Eiffel using the IUP toolkit. This second version add flat buttons and fix some errors. The main changes are in the names of some features, which now have names in the eiffel style. This is enough mature to create graphical interfaces. The package contains examples that show how use eiiffel-iup. So let me know if you have problems and Happy hacking!

    • diffutils-3.5 released [stable]
  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration
    • How scientists are using digital badges

      The open source world pioneered the use of digital badges to reward skills, achievements, and to signal transparency and openness. Scientific journals should apply open source methods, and use digital badges to encourage transparency and openness in scientific publications.

      Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts know all about merit badges. Scouts earn merit badges by mastering new skills. Mozilla Open Badges is a pioneer in awarding digital merit badges for skills and achievements. One example of a badge-issuing project is Buzzmath, where Open Badges are issued to recognize progress in mathematics to students, or anyone wanting to brush up on their skills. Another example is IBM Training and Skills, which issues badges to validate credentials earned in their certification programs.

      The Center for Open Science went beyond validating skills and established badges for open data and open materials in 2013, and created guidelines for issuing these badges.

    • Open Access/Content
      • Nasa just made all its research available online for free

        Care to learn more about 400-foot tsunamis on Mars? Now you can, after Nasa announced it is making all its publicly funded research available online for free. The space agency has set up a new public web portal called Pubspace, where the public can find Nasa-funded research articles on everything from the chances of life on one of Saturn’s moons to the effects of space station living on the hair follicles of astronauts.

    • Open Hardware/Modding
      • Open Source Hardware Comes of Age

        Most people have at least heard of the term “open source” but the wide popularity of open source has been in software rather than hardware. Open source software is well known. Home computer users recognize it in downloads like Office Libre, GIMP, and the VLC media player. More serious computer users realize that much of the Internet itself was built on open source technologies like Linux and the Apache Web Server. Open source software can quickly be defined as source code that anyone can inspect, modify, and enhance.

      • The Opposite of the EOMA-68 Modular Laptop

        In the photos of the laptop that David exposed and is keeping functional, the complexity of the design is clearly apparent. Huge heat sinks and heat pipes, a densely populated and really quite large PCB on both sides (which is costly to manufacture). Chances of repair and ongoing maintenance: absolutely zero. The only reason that David is even considering keeping this machine going is down to years of experience with computers – something that most people simply do not have time to do.

        By contrast, the EOMA68 Laptop Housing is kept to a bare minimum out of pure necessity: it’s a simpler design that’s been made using tools that the average electronics engineer could conceivably imagine owning… so that they can make or repair these devices, for themselves, or for other people.

        The main PCB (PCB1) is only 6” square with a small extension for the USB ports, and is approximately only 30% populated with components, only on one side. PCB2 (for the keyboard and mouse) is very small and has around 30 components on it, and PCB3 likewise. Here are some pictures taken last year: the first shows the 3 PCBs wired together and assembled in the 3D-printed case, whilst the second is a partially-populated PCB (USB2 connectors in the top left corner to give an idea of scale).

      • Earth-friendly EOMA68 Computing Devices
  • Programming/Development
Leftovers
  • Science
  • Hardware
    • AMD crashes Intel’s party: Powerful Zen CPUs are coming next year

      A block away from Intel’s Developer Forum in San Francisco, AMD brought together a select group of media and analysts to make one thing clear: Its long-awaited Zen processor actually exists, and it’s on track to ship early next year for desktops. Surprisingly, the company is aiming directly at the high-end PC gaming market, whereas its last few chips appealed more to budget builders.

      “Our focus is on high-performance CPUs and GPUs,” AMD CEO Lisa Su said, as she listed off the company’s most recent accomplishments. Those include building the chips powering both the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One (as well as the One S and the upcoming Project Scorpio), and delivering a surprisingly powerful $200 video card in the Radeon RX480.

  • Health/Nutrition
    • Valeant Pharmaceuticals Accused Of Vast Fraud By T. Rowe Price

      A U.S. mutual fund firm that used to be one of Valeant’s largest shareholders is suing the embattled Quebec drugmaker for allegedly pursuing “a fraudulent scheme” that ultimately cost investors billions of dollars.

      T. Rowe Price filed the lawsuit against Valeant, its former chief executive and several current and former executives.

      “This case arises from a fraudulent scheme by Valeant and its top executives to use a secret pharmacy network, deceptive pricing and reimbursement practices, and fictitious accounting to shield the company’s branded drugs from generic competition and artificially inflate the company’s revenues and profits,” said the 200-page statement of claim filed Monday in the United States District Court in New Jersey.

    • Life Itself Is Being Patented, Privatized and Re-engineered

      Capitalism is predicated on endless expansion. It is a socio-economic system that must grow indefinitely or cease to exist. And it has to grow at a compound rate, leading it to commodify and consume ever-greater portions of the planet at an accelerating velocity. Since we only have one planet, there is clearly a fundamental contradiction between our economic system and the environment upon which it, and all of humanity, ultimately depends. But since capitalism grows in a spatially uneven manner, some people can live obscenely affluent, insulated lives while other people face stark ecological catastrophe. But at some point, capitalism will take the entire planet past a point of ecological destruction from which there will be no return, at least on any time scale that is meaningful for human beings.

    • Americans Are Gorging on Meat in Amounts Not Seen in Decades

      Healthy eating and animal welfare campaigns haven’t been able to sway the carnivorous masses.

  • Security
    • Security and reproducible-build progress in Guix 0.11

      The GNU Guix package-manager project recently released version 0.11, bringing with it support for several hundred new packages, a range of new tools, and some significant progress toward making an entire operating system (OS) installable using reproducible builds.

      Guix is a “functional” package manager, built on many of the same ideas found in the Nix package manager. As the Nix site explains it, the functional paradigm means that packages are treated like values in a functional programming language—Haskell in Nix’s case, Scheme in Guix’s. The functions that build and install packages do so without side effects, so the system can easily offer nice features like atomic transactions, rollbacks, and the ability for individual users to build and install separate copies of a package without fear that they will interfere. Part of making such a system reliable is to ensure that builds are “reproducible”—meaning that two corresponding copies of a binary built on different systems at different times will be bit-for-bit identical.

    • VeraCrypt Audit Under Way; Email Mystery Cleared Up

      To say the VeraCrypt audit, which begins today, got off to an inauspicious start would be an understatement.

      On Sunday, two weeks after the announcement that the open source file and disk encryption software would be formally scrutinized for security vulnerabilities, executives at one of the firms funding the audit posted a notice that four emails between the parties involved had been intercepted.

    • Cryptocurrency Mining Virus Targets Linux Machines
    • Why The Windows Secure Boot Hack Is a Good Thing

      Most coverage of the subject has been written in that panicky, alarmist prose that makes for exciting news, but the problem is that the invalidation of Secure Boot is a very positive development for everyone concerned, except for Microsoft. Yes, it shows why backdoors for “the good guys” are a terrible idea — yes, it even has far-reaching implications for every piece of computing technology using the UEFI standard. However, I maintain that it will have a positive influence on the direction of security and tech standards moving forward.

    • Islamists Target Kali Linux: An Operating System Designed to Thwart Attacks

      The Kali Linux operating system may help tackle cyberterrorism, which has attracted Daesh, digital strategy consultant Lars Hilse told Sputnik.

    • Nasty Rex Linux Trojan Packs DDoS Attacks, Ransomware, And Bitcoin Miner
    • New Trojan Turns Linux Devices into Botnet
    • The cost of mentoring, or why we need heroes

      We may never have security heroes like we did. It’s become a proper industry. I don’t think many mature industries have new and exciting heroes. We know who Chuck Yeager is, I bet nobody could name 5 test pilots anymore. That’s OK though. You know what happens when there is a solid body of knowledge that needs to be moved from the old to the young? You go to a university. That’s right, our future rests with the universities.

    • Bounty hunters are legally hacking Apple and the Pentagon – for big money

      Now 21, it is his full time job. This month so far he has earned $21,150, in installments: he counted them out over the phone – “400, plus 400, plus 300, plus 100, plus 1,000, plus 3,000, plus 4,000…”

      Wakelam’s month-to-month profit varies considerably, but in an average year, he said, he can comfortably clear $250,000, working from his home in Melbourne or on his Macbook in coffee shops or nearby bars.

    • Inventor of The Internet’s Most Terrifying Search Engine Shows Us How To Use It

      It’s called Shodan and it’s a great tool to find insecure devices, so that people can fix them and make the internet safer. Shodan crawls the internet and collects all kind of stuff connected to the internet, from mundane smart fridges to industrial control systems. It’s a powerful tool, and you don’t really appreciate it until you use it yourself, or, better yet, until its inventor shows you what it can do.

  • Defence/Aggression
    • Could a Russian-Led Coalition Defeat Hillary’s War Plans?

      The representation of Russia as an “existential threat” to the U.S. is preposterous fantasy. Just like the depiction of Iran as a nuclear threat is preposterous, and the notion that Bashar al-Assad’s secular government in Syria is the cause for the emergence of ISIL is sheer delusion.

      Russia with 12% the U.S. military budget has military bases in precisely 8 foreign countries: Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgystan, Tajikistan (all nations bordering Russia, and former soviet socialist republics) plus Syria and Vietnam. Its only foreign naval facilities are in the latter two countries. The Sevastopol base in Crimea used to be on Ukrainian territory, but Russia has of course annexed the Crimean Peninisula to ensure continued control of the headquarters of its Black Sea fleet.

      The U.S. in contrast has over 650 military bases abroad, and five naval bases on the Mediterranean coast alone, in Spain, Italy and Greece. There are 10,000 sailors stationed at NSA Naples. In that same region the Russians have only their resupply station in Tartus, Syria operative by treaty since 1971, typically with a tiny garrison.

      The Russian air force base in Latakia, Syria is a modest operation, incapable of supporting those Tupolev-22M3 long-range bombers and Sukhoi-34 fighter bombers used to bomb ISIL and al-Nusra targets a few days ago in Aleppo and elsewhere. Those took off instead from Sahid Nojeh air base near Hamadan, Iran, causing some Pentagon concern and (false) accusations that the mission somehow violated a UNSC resolution about arming Iran. Moscow is boasting of mission success. (Morning Joe’s upset about that true.)

      Russian forces have already done more damage to ISIL, dismissed in January 2014 by President Obama as a minor problem, than the U.S. The U.S. started its bombing of ISIL months before the Russians but Russian strikes have turned the tide of battle in Syria.

    • Trump Hypes a New ‘War on Terror’

      Donald Trump has urged a new “war on terror” that brings back torture and seeks revenge on terrorists’ families, but another problem with the Republican nominee’s approach is his exaggeration of the danger, writes ex-CIA analyst Paul R. Pillar.

    • US Hawks Advance a War Agenda in Syria

      The U.S. government, having illegally sent American troops into Syria, is now threatening to attack the Syrian military if it endangers those troops, an Orwellian twist that marks a dangerous escalation, explains Daniel Lazare.

    • Can Russia Survive Washington’s Challenge?

      News services abroad ask me if President Erdogan of Turkey will, as a result of the coup attempt, realign Turkey with Russia. At this time, there is not enough information for me to answer. Speculation in advance of information is not my forte.

      Moreover, I do not know if it is true that Moscow warned the President of Turkey of the coup, and I do not know if Washington was behind the coup. Therefore, I do not know how to weigh the scales. As I see it, whether Turkey stays with Washington or realigns with Moscow depends first of all on whether or not Moscow warned Turkey and whether or not Washington was behind the coup. If this is what Erdogan believes, whether true or false, Erdogan is likely to align with Russia. However, other factors will also influence Erdogan’s decision. For example, Erdogan’s belief about how resolute Putin is to standing up to Washington.

    • Syria’s Horrors Visit Turkey Again as Bomber Attacks Kurdish Wedding

      The wedding on Saturday night was winding down, and some guests had already left. But the music was still playing and people were still dancing in the narrow streets of Gaziantep, a city not far from the Syrian border.

      Just then a child — no more than 14 years old, Turkey’s president said later — meandered into the gathering and detonated a vest of explosives.

      Suddenly, the most joyous of occasions became a scene of blood and gore, with body parts scattered all around. Once again, the horrors of Syria’s civil war had visited Turkey.

    • More Than 50 Dead in Turkey After Suicide Blast at Kurdish Wedding

      At least 51 people were killed and dozens more injured when a suicide bomber detonated explosives at a Kurdish wedding celebration in southeastern Turkey late Saturday night.

      Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Sunday that the Islamic State (ISIS) was behind the attack, and that the suicide bomber was a child between 12 and 14 years old. No entity has claimed official responsibility.

    • Russia Teams Up With Iran to Continue to Bomb Syria

      And that brings us to this week, where Assad is still around, ISIS is still around, Iraq is still a sectarian mess, Iran more or less controls the Iraqi government and the powerful Shiite militias except for the ones who might just rebel and/or slaughter Sunnis to complete a slow-burn civil war, Turkey a newly-collapsing crappy Mideast-ish stinkhole run by a new dictator and Russia and Iran, always a bit wary of one another, are cooperating militarily to attack ISIS (U.S. thumbs up!) in support of Assad (U.S. thumbs down!)

      And that’s all before we get to the Kurds, who are well on their way to creating a confederacy of Kurdistan carved out of parts of Iraq, Syria and Turkey. That will be the impetus behind the next war inside the Middle East, with most of the same players now in Syria joining in. Figure maybe a year from now or so.

    • Merkel: Migrants did not bring Radical Terrorism to Germany

      German Chancellor Angela Merkel said at a campaign event on Wednesday evening, that there is no relationship between the influx of some one million migrants and refugees into Germany in the past year and the incidents of radical Muslim violence in the country.

      She pointed out that Muslim radicalism as a phenomenon pre-existed the rise of Daesh (ISIS, ISIL) and that even Daesh was there before the refugee crisis. She said that German authorities have been worried about Daesh for some years.

      To some extent she blamed social media rather the the influx of refugees.

    • Saudis bomb Sanaa during “Million-Person march”

      The Houthi Ansarullah Movement that controls most of north and west Yemen staged what was by all accounts an enormous demonstration in the capital of Sanaa on Saturday. It may have been the single largest demonstration in the country’s history. While it was unlikely actually to have involved a million people, it did probably tens of thousands, and it showed how strong grassroots support for the Houthis is in the north.

      The massive demonstration in Sab`in Park in downtown Sanaa was intended to send a signal to Saudi Arabia and its coalition that the Houthis are enormously popular in the north and that the General People’s Congress, the parliament of Yemen in its present form, shares in that popularity.

      If so, Saudi Arabia did not get that message. Its fighter-bombers targeted downtown Sanaa in the midst of the demonstration, which arguably was a war crime (you aren’t allowed to endanger large numbers of civilians in war if you don’t have to). The Saudis are at war with rebel supporters of the Houthis, whom Saudi Arabian inaccurately depicts as a cat’s paw of Iran.

    • Food Sovereignty in Rebellion: Decolonization, Autonomy, Gender Equity, and the Zapatista Solution

      One of the biggest threats to food security the world currently faces is neoliberalism. It’s logic, which has become status quo over the past 70 years and valorizes global ‘free market’ capitalism, is made manifest through economic policies that facilitate privatization, deregulation, and cuts to social spending, as well as a discourse that promotes competition, individualism, and self-commodification. Despite rarely being criticized, or even mentioned, by state officials and mainstream media, neoliberal programs and practices continue to give rise to unprecedented levels of poverty, hunger, and suffering. The consequences of neoliberalism are so acutely visceral that the Zapatistas called the 21st century’s most highly lauded free-trade policy, NAFTA, a ‘death certificate’ for Indigenous people.1 This is because economic liberalization meant that imported commodities (e.g., subsidized corn from the U.S.) would flood Mexican markets, devalue the products of peasant farmers, and lead to widespread food insecurity. As a response, the Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN), primarily Indigenous peasants themselves, led an armed insurrection in Chiapas, Mexico on January 1, 1994—the day NAFTA went into effect.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting
    • QC who worked on Julian Assange case jumped in front of West Hampstead train after being allowed out of private hospital

      CCTV footage of the death was not played to the court because coroner Mary Hassell said she thought it would be “too distressing” but that she had watched it, and was satisfied that “nobody else was involved”.

      Recording a narrative verdict, Ms Hassell said she could not be certain that Mr Jones intended to kill himself because the balance of his mind was affected.

      Ms Hassell said: “John Jones died instantaneously when he jumped in front of a moving train.

      “However, the state of his mental health at the time meant that he lacked the necessary intent to categorise this as suicide.”

      Mr Jones’ wife, lawyer Misa Zgonec-Rozej, told the inquest: “I feel horrified that he was allowed out so early in the morning, in such a fragile state and without having slept properly for days.

      “I genuinely believe that John did not want to die, and that he didn’t know what he was doing (when he jumped).”

    • DCCC Docs on Pennsylvania

      So, here are DCCC docs on Pennsylvania’s congressional districts. You may find a thing or two about the Democratic primaries in the state there.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature
    • In Arctic, Ancient Diseases Reanimate and Highways Melt as Temperatures Hit “Frenzy” of Records

      By the time I’d reached the end of my 10 years of reportage on the impacts of the US occupation of Iraq in 2013, it was impossible for me to find an Iraqi who did not have a family member, relative or friend who had been killed either by US troops, an act of non-state sponsored terrorism or random violence spun off one of the aforementioned.

      Now, having spent the entire summer in Alaska, I’ve yet to have a conversation with national park rangers, glaciologists or simply avid outdoors-people that has not included a story of disbelief, amazement and often shock over the impacts of anthropogenic climate disruption (ACD) across their beloved state.

      Whether it is rivers causing massive erosion after being turbo-charged by rapidly melting glaciers, dramatically warmer temperatures throughout the year, or the increasingly rapid melting and retreat of the glaciers themselves, everyone who is out there, seeing the impacts firsthand, has a grave experience to share.

      As just one small example, less than an hour’s drive from Anchorage, I visited an area where I’d climbed in the past. An old climbing partner had suggested I visit Byron Peak, which is situated not far from both Turnagain Arm and Prince William Sound, to witness how much Byron Glacier had retreated since I’d last been there.

    • The West’s ‘new normal’: Another long season of volatile wildfires

      The morning of July 23, the city of Los Angeles was covered in a dusting of ash. An apocalyptic haze muted the sun, and the sky was an eerie, unnatural pink. Just a day before, a wildfire had broken out on private land 30 miles northwest, near Santa Clarita. Within 24 hours, the Sand Fire scorched 20,000 acres, and in a week, it burned another 21,000 acres. At least 10,000 people had to evacuate before it was contained by early August.

      The most volatile fire activity in the West this year has occurred in Central and Southern California – from Big Sur to Carmel-by-the-Sea to San Bernardino – causing the closure of the Pacific Coast Highway, the destruction of hundreds of homes, and the death of at least six people. According to experts, these blazes – along with the 85 large fires currently burning across the country, many in the West – offer a glimpse into the West’s “new normal” wildfire season that has been intensified by climate change in recent years. Warmer temperatures, less snowfall and increased drought mean that fire season begins earlier in April and lasts longer, until November or December.

      Last winter, California breathed a sigh of relief during El Niño, expecting it to drench the parched landscape after four years of drought. Northern California got more rain and remains relatively wet, but El Niño didn’t deliver enough to prevent fires in the southern part of the state. “It’s the legacy effect of the long-term drought: these large, volatile, fast-moving wildfires in California,” says Crystal Kolden, fire science professor at the University of Idaho. By the first week of June, firefighters in the state had already tackled over 1,500 fires that burned almost 28,000 acres – twice as many acres burned as in the first half of 2015.

    • [Older] Tunisia: on the frontlines of the struggle against climate change

      Kerkennah islanders are faced with a double threat to their existence: rising sea water levels and the extractive operations of fossil fuel companies.

      [...]

      I visited Kerkennah in March 2016, after hearing there was simmering discontent about Petrofac’s refusal to honor its engagements in helping finance an employment fund. On the ferry to the island, I noticed a delegation headed by the Tunisia Minister of Environment accompanied by a TV crew was also on the same boat. I found myself asking: “Was the purpose of the delegation’s visit the same as mine? Were they also there to investigate the now two-month-long labor mobilization around Petrofac?”

    • The Earth Has Endured 14 Straight Months of Record-Breaking Heat

      The lower part of South America, the Beijing region, and a little patch of far-east Russia: These were the landmasses that experienced abnormally cool temperatures in June.

      The vast majority of the Earth’s surface, however, was either warmer than usual or scalding with record-breaking heat, according to NOAA’s latest global analysis. At 1.6 degrees above the 20th-century average of roughly 60 degrees, it was the warmest June in modern history and the 14th consecutive month of unprecedented hotness. That’s the longest streak of record-busting temperatures in observations dating back to 1880.

  • Finance
    • The politics of ethnic diversity: Scotland, Brexit and inequality

      This week the Equality and Human Rights Commission published a study demonstrating that people born into an ethnic minority household in Scotland are twice as likely to face poverty.

    • Do Unions Belong in the Fight Against Corporate School Reform? [Ed: Gates meddling]

      In the fight for public education, the forces of standardization and privatization are running scared.

      They’ve faced more pushback in the last few years – especially in the last few months – than in a decade.

      The Opt Out movement increases exponentially every year. Teach for America is having trouble getting recruits. Pearson’s stock is plummeting. The NAACP and Black Lives Matter have both come out strongly against increasing charter schools.

      [...]

      The fight for public schools isn’t between grassroots communities and well-funded AstroTurf organizations, they say. Despite the evidence of your eyes, the fight isn’t between charter school sycophants and standardized test companies, on the one hand, and parents, students and teachers on the other.

    • How US Farm Subsidies Make Taxpayers Pay Twice (And How We Could Change That)

      Usually, when you buy something, you pay for it just once. But if you’re a US taxpayer, you’re paying twice for the food system you’re “buying” with your hard-earned tax dollars. An example: today’s massive federal farm subsidies encourage farming practices that lead to toxic algae blooms, drinking water pollution, and other costly problems we have to pay for again downstream. By contrast, modest investment in just one proven alternative farming system would achieve annual savings—in the form of water pollution averted—of $850 million.

    • Anti-Austerity Leftist Announces Challenge to French President Hollande

      Seeking to replace France’s increasingly unpopular President François Hollande, former industry minister and “left-wing firebrand” Arnaud Montebourg announced his candidacy for president on Sunday.

      The French election will take place in May 2017. Hollande, whom Jacobin notes has “force[d] his way though political institutions and democracy in order to implement his unpopular policies,” has not yet said whether he will run for re-election. In 2016, he faced a popular uprising under the banner “Nuit Debout,” a pro-democracy movement that grew out of protests against his anti-labor and authoritarian security policies.

      On Sunday, Montebourg urged Hollande not to run, calling his record “indefensible” and charging him with betraying the “ideals of the left.”

      According to Reuters, the candidate “said his project would include measures to end austerity while raising expenditure, reverse tax increases of the last five years, fight globalization and restructure the European Union which had ‘practically become a failed company’.”

    • Rio’s Olympic ruins

      The opening of Rio’s Olympic Village, on July 24, just two weeks before the beginning of the 2016 Summer Games sparked considerable criticism of the state of athletes’ accommodations. Reports of missing lights on staircases, gas leaks, dirty rooms and hallways, and unfinished facilities abounded in all four corners of the gated condominium comprised of thirty-one 17-story towers.

      Citing blocked toilets, leaking pipes and exposed wiring, the Australian delegation initially refused to move in to the Village, and checked into a hotel for two nights. The infrastructural crisis almost gave way to a diplomatic one, when Rio’s major Eduardo Paes commented he would get a kangaroo to jump around in the grounds of the Athletes’ Village if it would make Australians feel more at home. Australia’s response: “we do not need kangaroos, we need plumbers”.

    • Clinton and Trump Are Rich and Pals of the Rich—and That Could Be a Huge Problem for the Nation

      Unless you’ve somehow succeeded in living off the grid for the past year and a half, you’ve no doubt heard about the massive economic conflicts of interest Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton would bring to the White House if either is elected president.

      As described in various articles and op-eds, Trump’s conflicts stem from his far-flung worldwide enterprises, while Clinton’s emanate from the global reach of her family foundation and her long-standing ties to Wall Street banks. Given their assets and business relations, questions of favoritism, self-dealing and compromised judgment would haunt either candidate’s tenure in office.

      But as so often happens with American news coverage, even at its best, either too much emphasis has been placed on personality, or too many details have been offered without placing the Trump and Clinton campaigns in a wider historical and political context. Indeed, the biggest conflict of interest of all has gone practically unmentioned in mainstream coverage—namely, that Trump and Clinton don’t just have personal conflicts of interest that would affect their ability to govern, but they represent different dimensions of a larger corporate oligarchy that dominates American democracy.

      When most reporters write about Trump’s and Clinton’s conflicts, they usually have in mind a more narrow concept imported from the United States criminal code, as set forth in Title 18, Section 208. That statute, as the Congressional Research Service has explained, embodies the “axiom ‘that a public servant owes undivided loyalty to the Government,’ and that decisions, advice, and recommendations made by or given to the government by its officers be made in the public interest and not be tainted, even unintentionally, with influence from personal financial interests.”

      Willful violations of Section 208 are felonies subject to as much as five years in prison. To guard against running afoul of the law, executive branch officers are instructed to follow the principles of “disqualification, disclosure, and divestiture.” Thus, the head of the Federal Aviation Administration is precluded from owning stocks or bonds in an aeronautical company, and no member of the Federal Reserve’s Board of Governors can own stock in a bank.

      Some of the better reporters, such as Bloomberg’s Timothy O’Brien, have been quick to point out, however, that while Section 208 applies to other executive branch employees, officials and Cabinet officers, it does not cover the president and vice president. Congress, in drafting the legislation in 1962, exempted those offices because the powers of the chief executive were considered so vast that any decision he or she made could be open to attack on conflict grounds.

    • Sweden Warns U.K. Against Aggressive Tax Cuts Amid Brexit Talks

      The U.K. should avoid any drastic steps to cut corporate taxes, or similar measures, as it prepares to start talks on leaving the European Union, Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Loefven said.

      The premier of the largest Nordic economy also said the U.K.’s exit from the 28-nation bloc “shouldn’t take longer than necessary.”

      “But if the U.K. wants some time to think about the situation, this will also give EU countries some time,” Loefven told Bloomberg after giving a speech in Stockholm on Sunday. “On the other hand, you hear about plans in the U.K. to, for example, lower corporate taxes considerably. If they, during this time, begin that kind of race, that will of course make discussions more difficult.”

      U.K. policy makers are now dealing with the fallout of the June vote backing a Brexit and are looking at the first part of next year to start formal talks. Prime Minister Theresa May has delayed starting Britain’s exit as she puts together a team and prepares for what will inevitably be tough negotiations.

    • China Is Grappling With Hidden Unemployment

      Cracks are starting to show in China’s labor market as struggling industrial firms leave millions of workers in flux.

      While official jobless numbers haven’t budged, the underemployment rate has jumped to more than 5 percent from near zero in 2010, according to Bai Peiwei, an economics professor at Xiamen University. Bai estimates the rate may be 10 percent in industries with excess capacity, such as unprofitable steel mills and coal mines that have slashed pay, reduced shifts and required unpaid leave.

      Many state-owned firms battling overcapacity favor putting workers in a holding pattern to avoid mass layoffs that risk fueling social unrest. While that helps airbrush the appearance of duress, it also slows the shift of workers to services jobs, where labor demand remains more solid in China’s shifting economy.

    • Japanese hedge fund robot outsmarts human master, passes Brexit test

      Yoshinori Nomura felt like weeping. It was the morning of June 24, Brexit day, and markets were moving against him.

      Well, not against him, exactly. It was the hedge fund manager’s self-learning computer program that had placed the bet, selling Japanese stock-index futures before a sizable market advance. Nomura had anticipated a rally, but decided not to interfere, and his fund was paying the price.

      Then, in an instant, everything changed. When new vote counts signalled Britain was going to leave the European Union, a burst of selling sent Japanese shares to their biggest drop in five years. By luck or design, Mr. Nomura’s Simplex Equity Futures Strategy Fund ended the day with a 3.4-per-cent gain, one of its best results in three months of trading.

      “The machine was right after all,” said Mr. Nomura, who spent more than three years refining his trading program and now oversees about ¥3.5-billion ($44-million) in the fund, one of the first in Japan to utilize artificial intelligence technology.

      Mr. Nomura doesn’t have the assets or name recognition of computer-savvy giants such as Renaissance Technologies or Two Sigma Investments. But in his own way, the Tokyo-based physics buff has become a compelling test case for what some say is the future of money management. If Mr. Nomura can succeed in Japan – where central bank stimulus has upended markets, hedge funds are trailing global peers and institutional investors are notoriously risk averse – it would offer hope for fledgling AI traders around the world.

    • Massachusetts to tax ride-hailing apps, give the money to taxis

      Massachusetts is preparing to levy a 5-cent fee per trip on ride-hailing apps such as Uber and Lyft and spend the money on the traditional taxi industry, a subsidy that appears to be the first of its kind in the United States.

      Republican Governor Charlie Baker signed the nickel fee into law this month as part of a sweeping package of regulations for the industry.

      Ride services are not enthusiastic about the fee.

      “I don’t think we should be in the business of subsidizing potential competitors,” said Kirill Evdakov, the chief executive of Fasten, a ride service that launched in Boston last year and also operates in Austin, Texas.

      Some taxi owners wanted the law to go further, perhaps banning the start-up competitors unless they meet the requirements taxis do, such as regular vehicle inspection by the police.

    • The Wat on Cash

      Several months ago I stayed in an offbeat Amsterdam hotel that brewed its own beer but refused to accept cash for it. Instead, they forced me to use the Visa payment card network to get my UK bank to transfer €4 to their Dutch bank via the elaborate international correspondent banking system.

      I was there with civil liberties campaigner Ben Hayes. We were irritated by the anti-cash policy, something the hotel staff took for annoyance at the international payments charges we’d face. That wasn’t it though. Our concern was an intuitive one about a potential future world in which we’d have to report our every economic move to a bank, and the effect this could have on marginalised people.

      ‘Cashless society’ is a euphemism for the “ask-your-banks-for-permission-to-pay society”. Rather than an exchange occurring directly between the hotel and me, it takes the form of a “have your people talk to my people” affair. Various intermediaries message one another to arrange an exchange between our respective banks. That may be a convenient option, but in a cashless society it would no longer be an option at all. You’d have no choice but to conform to the intermediaries’ automated bureaucracy, giving them a lot of power, and a lot of data about the microtexture of your economic life.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics
    • Top DNC staffer resigns in wake of massive hack

      Another top official has left the Democratic National Committee in the wake of an email hack last month the revealed embarrassing messages.

      Jordan Kaplan, the party’s national finance director for more than three years, stepped down, becoming the scandal’s fifth casualty. The first to go was DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz.

      Kaplan’s resignation email, obtained by The Associated Press, makes no mention of the leaked emails. He says he is returning to consulting and in that capacity will continue to manage party fundraisers featuring the Obamas. Kaplan is a longtime Obama supporter, having first worked for him years ago during Obama’s Illinois Senate campaign.

    • Trump, Clinton ‘Have Not Earned Our Vote,’ says Jill Stein

      Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein said Republican Party nominee Donald Trump and Democratic Party nominee Hillary Clinton “have not earned our vote” for president.

      “Politicians do not have a new form of entitlement,” Stein told ABC’s “This Week.” “They are not entitled to our vote. They have to earn our votes.”

      “People are being thrown under the bus and they’re tired of it,” Stein said. “They’re tired of a rigged economy, and they’re tired of a rigged political system.”

      A poll by ABC News/Washington Post this month found that 57 percent of voters are dissatisfied with the choice between Trump and Clinton. Stein polled at 4 percent in the same survey, well ahead of the one half of 1 percent of votes she won in the 2012 presidential election.

      But, according to a new ABC/SSRS online poll released today, 59 percent of voters worry that casting a ballot for a third-party hopeful could cause their least-preferred candidate to win the presidency. Of the 59 percent, 35 percent said they were somewhat worried, 15 percent very worried, and 9 percent extremely worried.

    • Stein & Baraka to Bernie Sanders Supporters: Vote Green & Abandon the Party of War and Wall Street

      For months, Jill Stein of the Green Party attempted to push Bernie Sanders to join the Green ticket. While he ignored the call, Stein is now reaching out to Sanders supporters for their votes in November. But is Stein afraid of tipping the election toward Donald Trump? We get response from her and running mate Ajamu Baraka.

    • Jill Stein and Ajamu Baraka Urge Trump and Clinton to Back Open Debates With Greens, Libertarians

      In the spirit of democracy, we are writing to ask that you support open debates in 2016 that include all of the Presidential and Vice Presidential candidates who are on enough ballots to win at least 270 electoral college votes.

      There will only be four campaigns on enough state ballots to win the election: your campaigns, the Libertarians, and our Green Party campaign. All candidates should be included in the series of Presidential debates, so that voters can be informed about all of their choices. We propose four open debates, three for the Presidential candidates and one for the Vice Presidential candidates.

      The US electorate is changing rapidly and is no longer limited to Republicans and Democrats. The number of eligible voters who identify as Republican or Democratic has steadily dropped from approximately 80% in 1958 to 50% today. A majority of US voters do not identify with either of your parties.

    • Jill Stein: ‘Democracy needs a moral compass’

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      Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein doesn’t want voters to think a vote for her is a vote for Donald Trump.

      “What we have seen over the years is that this politics of fear actually delivered everything that we were afraid of,” Stein said Sunday on ABC’s “This Week with George Stephanopoulos.” “That’s actually what we’ve gotten because we, the people, have allowed ourselves to be silenced. Democracy needs a moral compass. It needs a vision, an affirmative vision of what we are about and an agenda that we can actually put forward.”

    • No, Jill Stein Supporters, You Are Not Crazy

      The primaries were rigged. The mainstream media is obscenely biased. The progressive vote is actively being dismissed, ignored and marginalized as the Democratic party moves further into bed with neoliberal policies of imperialism and corporatism. And there most certainly is a deliberate attempt from the Democrats to attack, undermine and obliterate the support for your candidate, who is most certainly a very sane voice in an extremely corrupt political environment.

    • The Real Way the 2016 Election Is Rigged

      Hillary Clinton has put the Electoral College into checkmate. She’s closer to Donald Trump in many red states like Kansas and Texas than he is to her in key swing states.

      As her lead swells, naturally, fired-up Democrats and a restless media have turned their attention to a more exciting story: Can Democrats retake the House of Representatives? But the outcome there is not really in doubt, either.

      It’s not going to happen. Democratic House candidates will likely get many more votes than Republican ones – as they did in 2012, when Democrats received 1.4 million more votes nationwide, but Republicans maintained a 234-201 advantage. Indeed, Trump is more likely to rebound in swing states than Democrats are to capture the 30 congressional seats they need to pry the speaker’s gavel from Paul Ryan.

    • Empty Promises About the Clinton Foundation

      The Clinton Foundation is an unprecedented abomination to American democracy. Under the pretenses of charitable work, the foundation has furthered the interests of the Clintons and their corporate and wealthy donors across the globe. It has also blurred the lines between donations and off-the-record political favors, while providing the Clintons with plausible deniability of auctioning off access to the most politically powerful couple in modern U.S. history.

      The Clinton Foundation has accepted large contributions from foreign dictatorships and corporations which have never shown any other interest in supporting the charitable causes the foundation cites as its focus. As a means to obscure its list of donors, the foundation has created branches of initiatives, such as the Clinton Global Initiative, and a Canadian affiliate, the Clinton Giustra Enterprise Partnership. These subsidiaries failed to disclose over 1,000 foreign donations, violating Hillary Clinton’s promise to the White House Administration to annually disclose contributors to the Clinton Foundation. Despite this promise, Hillary Clinton appointed a Clinton Foundation donor to an intelligence board upon his request when he had no qualifications for the position. She abided instructions from one of her prominent donors, billionaire George Soros, to intervene in Albanian politics.

    • Quora Question: Has Trump Lost the Ability to Capitalize on Outrage?
    • Quora Question: Does the NSA Have All of Clinton’s Deleted Emails?

      For the NSA to be in possession of Hillary Clinton’s deleted e-mails, the NSA would not only have to violate intelligence community protocols regarding surveillance on US citizens (which, without a FISA warrant, is expressly forbidden) but they would have to have been spying and collecting intelligence on the civilian government charged with overseeing them.

    • Trump’s Empire: A Maze of Debts and Opaque Ties

      On the campaign trail, Donald J. Trump, the Republican presidential nominee, has sold himself as a businessman who has made billions of dollars and is beholden to no one.

      But an investigation by The New York Times into the financial maze of Mr. Trump’s real estate holdings in the United States reveals that companies he owns have at least $650 million in debt — twice the amount than can be gleaned from public filings he has made as part of his bid for the White House. The Times’s inquiry also found that Mr. Trump’s fortunes depend deeply on a wide array of financial backers, including one he has cited in attacks during his campaign.

    • Huma Abedin worked at a radical Muslim journal for a dozen years

      Hillary Clinton’s top campaign aide, and the woman who might be the future White House chief of staff to the first female US president, for a decade edited a radical Muslim publication that opposed women’s rights and blamed the US for 9/11.

      One of Clinton’s biggest accomplishments listed on her campaign Web site is her support for the UN women’s conference in Bejing in 1995, when she famously declared, “Women’s rights are human rights.” Her speech has emerged as a focal point of her campaign, featured prominently in last month’s Morgan Freeman-narrated convention video introducing her as the Democratic nominee.

      However, soon after that “historic and transformational” 1995 event, as Clinton recently described it, her top aide Huma Abedin published articles in a Saudi journal taking Clinton’s feminist platform apart, piece by piece. At the time, Abedin was assistant editor of the Journal of Muslim Minority Affairs working under her mother, who remains editor-in-chief. She was also working in the White House as an intern for then-First Lady Clinton.

  • Censorship/Free Speech
  • Privacy/Surveillance
  • Civil Rights/Policing
    • Federalism and the European left

      An important question arises: what conditions would enable progressive policy to come about again in Europe? I want to suggest that these conditions are not primarily political but institutional. The left may have lost most of its former capacity to organize the working class. It may have surrendered some of its core values to third-way or related projects. But what if these are the consequences of a far more fundamental difficulty? What if progressive policies – broadly understood as a counterweight to capitalism ­– are unlikely to emerge in any of the institutional structures now operative in Europe, that is, nation states and the EU in its present form?

    • Turkey warns travelers at airport of high ‘rape rate’ in Sweden amid underage sex scandal

      Turkey has posted its own “travel warning” amid an ongoing international scandal linked to Turkey’s underage sex law, placing ads at Istanbul Airport alleging that “Sweden has the highest rape rate worldwide.”

      The “warning” apparently appeared at the international Ataturk airport, in the form of a banner, by the Turkish Gunes newspaper, The Local reported on Friday.

    • Ryan Lochte, Donald Trump and the Steep Decline of American Democracy

      Trump and Lochte are amazingly American, no doubt. Taken together, they effectively provide the answer to Brooks’ incoherent question. The disgraced American swimmer and the disgraced American candidate found themselves in similar predicaments this week. It’s a marriage made in hell, or at least in purgatory: These two clowns epitomize the disordered state of the American psyche, circa 2016, almost too perfectly.

      Lochte and Trump are a pair of arrogant, ignorant jerks who believe that neither conduct nor character actually matters, and who feel entitled to rescue themselves from any sticky situation through the strategic application of lies and money. They’re the white men who give white men a bad name (which is, of course, deeply unfair). They’d almost be comical, if one of them weren’t endangering the future of the republic and if they weren’t working so hard to reinforce the entire world’s negative stereotypes about Americans. (Which are, of course, deeply unfair … no, I’m sorry, I can’t say it with a straight face.)

    • Blame It On The Bossa Nova: Lochte and Brazilian Police

      The travails of the Ryan Lochte gang of American Swimmers has been playing out for a full week now. The result has been almost universal scorn, if not hatred, for Lochte et. al, and almost complete credulous acceptance of the somewhat dubious, if extremely strident, pushback and claims of the Brazilian Police.

      Frankly, neither side’s story ever sat quite right with me. But Lochte’s story, among other exaggeration/fabrication, always, from the start, indicated that the swimmers were pulled from a taxi at gun point, by people in uniform with badges, who pointed guns at them, and took money from them.

      And then came the dog and pony show press conference staged by the Brazilian Police for a worldwide audience during mid-day on Thursday August 18. It was a bizarre and rambling presser, that was nearly comical in its staging during its opening portion. It did, however, make clear that there was a lot more to the full story than Lochte had told, and that some of his story was flat wrong. But, if you listened carefully, as I am wont to do with cops making self serving statements, it, along with previous statements made by the police, also pretty much confirmed the swimmers were pulled from a taxi at gun point, by people in uniform with badges, who pointed guns at them, and took money from them.

    • Why I Still Have Hope In The American Dream That Failed Me

      I am in a federal prison in Colorado. While here, I have read Ta-Nahesi Coates’ award-winning book Between the World and Me. Though my background is different from Coates’ (I did not grow up in the mean streets of a large city), I enjoyed reading Between the World and Me because I identify with so much of it. It is also those commonalities which make it rather difficult for me to read. Between the World and Me serves as a reminder and a warning. But most importantly Coates’ book forces us to think about the American Dream, and what hope we have in it. Coates’ book struck a chord with me particularly with his emphasis on the black body. “In America,” he tells his son, “It is traditional to destroy the black body — it is heritage.”

      I have long known that physical violence to the black body is an ever present specter. My indoctrination came over 35 years ago, when one of my brothers was in a drug-induced stupor in the street in front of my childhood home in small-town Missouri. The police had been called and they showed up in force. My mother was in a fretful state, pleading for my brother to return to safety inside the house. Someone attempted to calm her down by saying that everything was going to be all right, that the police would help. Her answer was so emphatic. “No! They’ll kill him!” My brother was not hurt, but I cried that night. I don’t know if the tears were from the emotions of the night or from the lesson I learned that my body and my brother’s body, our bodies, were subject to “official” physical violence.

      I would soon learn that official violence against black bodies comes in many guises. Even if not overtly physical, it is without question destructive. In my case, discrimination, arrest and imprisonment has robbed my black body of a sense and identity by disparate treatment, silencing, erasure, and exclusion from the American Dream.

    • When King came up against Chicago racism

      SOME FIVE months after the Watts uprising, King arrived in Chicago in January 1966 and announced “the first significant Northern freedom movement ever attempted by major civil rights forces.” King declared the focus of the movement would be the “unconditional surrender of forces dedicated to the creation and maintenance of slums.”

      King came to Chicago by the invitation of activists who formed the core of the Chicago Freedom Movement (CFM). They had been the key organizers of boycotts and campaigns in 1963 for the struggle against public school apartheid in the city.

      Chicago activists debated whether to focus on job discrimination or racism in public schools. Eventually, King, organizers from SCLC and local activists agreed on a target: slum conditions in housing on the West Side of Chicago. They concluded that the problems in housing were closely tied to problems of access to jobs and good schools. To dramatize the point, King moved into a shabby apartment on the city’s segregated West Side as the campaign began to set up.

      The campaign was to lead to the creation of “Unions to End Slums” across the city. This was part of a collaborative effort between the AFL-CIO and SCLC to use the “union model” to organize tenants and expose conditions of poverty in cities across the country.

      For their part, union leaders were attempting to regain favor among a growing layer of African American workers who were bitter about racism in the labor movement. Black workers often held the most physically difficult and worst-paid jobs in union shops–and growing numbers of them were critical of union officials. The civil rights agenda of unions like the United Auto Workers were intended to offset criticism of the internal politics of the organizations.

    • Argentina’s Mapuche Community Stands Up to Benetton in Struggle for Ancestral Lands

      The Mapuche have begun to reshape history by moving back onto the Patagonian land in the Chubut Province of Argentina that has been part of their ancestral history for more than 1,400 years. The transnational fashion company Benetton claims ownership to the land and force has repeatedly been used against Mapuche people who have sought to move back onto it.

    • Chris Hedges Interviews CounterPuncher Rob Urie
    • Team Refugee and the Normalization of Mass Displacement

      It was after midnight when the small refugee Olympic team strode into the stadium in Rio, the very last before host country Brazil’s huge contingent danced in to the samba-driven opening ceremonies. Ten amazing athletes, originally from four separate countries but sharing their status as unable to return home, marching under the Olympic flag.

    • The last Russian prisoner at Guantánamo Bay does not want to go home

      Fourteen years after arriving at Guantánamo, Ravil Mingazov is now due to be released. But returning to Russia could bring harassment, torture and the threat of further imprisonment.

    • Worthy and Unworthy Victims of Child Abuse

      In recent weeks surveillance footage has broken in the Australian media of institutional abuse at the Don Dale juvenile detention facility just outside of Darwin. Needless to say this has been deeply shocking the Australian public — the graphic footage of teenagers being savagely beaten and forcibly restrained in chairs with bags over their heads all too reminiscent of the human rights abuses in Abu Ghraib. The effect of these images has not been much diminished by the fact that it took the story years to break in the face of protracted institutional resistance and willingness to turn a blind eye to what were clearly the same kinds of abuse.

    • Nearly Half Of All Women In The Australian Federal Police Have Reported Sexual Harassment

      A new report investigating the culture of the Australian Federal Police (AFP) has found that 46 percent of women and 20 percent of men reported being sexually harassed in their workplace over the past five years. Two-thirds of men and women also reported being bullied in the workplace. The AFP’s commissioner has apologised to employees who have been victims of sexual harassment and bullying, but the report has called for further “immediate action”.

    • A man who was almost killed by Anders Breivik explains how he keeps re-living it to prevent others from becoming radicalised

      As Anders Breivik conducted his act of terror on the usually-picturesque Norwegian island of Utøya, methodically slaughtering 69 people and injuring dozens more at the hands of his shotgun, 20-year-old Bjørn Ihler lay low on the far southern tip of the island and somehow struck up a conversation about Christmas.

      On the morning of July 22, 2011, Ihler had slept in. He only arrived to the island the night before and stayed up all night catching up with old friends.

      The island played host to Norwegian Labour Party-affiliated Worker’s Youth League summer camp and Ihler had travelled over from England, where he was studying theatre at Liverpool University, to “learn something about how politics was going in Norway,” he told Business Insider.

    • Philippines Drug-War Deaths Double as President Duterte Lashes Out at U.N.

      The number of drug-related killings since President Rodrigo Duterte took power and declared war on drugs in May has jumped to about 1,800, police said Monday, a day after the new leader lashed out over United Nations criticism of the deaths.

      Duterte said in a bizarre and strongly worded late-night news conference Sunday that the Philippines might leave the U.N. and invite China and others to form a new global forum, accusing it of failing to fulfill its mandate.

      However, Foreign Minister Perfecto Yasay said Monday the Philippines would remain a U.N. member and described Duterte’s comments as expressions of “profound disappointment.”

  • Intellectual Monopolies

Links 21/8/2016: Apple and Microsoft Down, Systemd Spreading to Mount

Sunday 21st of August 2016 02:40:20 PM

Contents GNU/Linux Free Software/Open Source
  • Open365 – Clouding with style

    Office, suite, cloud. Sounds familiar. Google Docs. Yup. Microsoft Office 365. Yup. LibreOffice. No. Wait, what? Buzzwords around modern technology concepts are all too easy to ignore, but this one actually caught my attention beyond the almost-too-cliche dotIO domain, the blue design very reminiscent of Docker (hint), and optimistic text that promises wonders.

    Anyhow, Open365 is an all-in-one productivity suite, based on KDE, Seafile, LibreOffice, Docker, and Jitsi. That’s enough buzz to keep you warm till 2020, but is it any good? Or rather, can it compete with the proven giants out there? I decided to explore and see what gives.

  • ReactOS 0.4.2 Officially Released
  • Web Browsers
    • Mozilla
      • 3 Firefox Add-ons Every Ubuntu User Needs

        Firefox is the default browser in Ubuntu — but it doesn’t integrate with the Unity desktop as well as it could.

        That’s where the following Ubuntu Firefox add-ons come in. These little extras, trivial though they seem, help to bridge the (admittedly few) gaps and missing functionality between browser and OS.

      • Mozilla is changing its look—and asking the Internet for feedback

        Mozilla is trying a rebranding. Back in June, the browser developer announced that it would freshen up its logo and enlist the Internet’s help in reaching a final decision. The company hired British design company Johnson Banks to come up with seven new “concepts” to illustrate the company’s work, as shown in the gallery above.

        The logos rely on vibrant colors, and several of them recall ’80s and ’90s style. In pure, nearly-unintelligible marketing speak, Mozilla writes that each new design reflects a story about the company. “From paying homage to our paleotechnic origins to rendering us as part of an ever-expanding digital ecosystem, from highlighting our global community ethos to giving us a lift from the quotidian elevator open button, the concepts express ideas about Mozilla in clever and unexpected ways” Mozilla’s Creative Director Tim Murray writes in a blog post.

        Mozilla is soliciting comment and criticism on the seven new designs for the next two weeks, but this is no Boaty McBoatface situation. Mozilla is clear that it’s not crowdsourcing a design, asking anyone to work on spec, or holding a vote over which logo the Internet prefers. It’s just asking for comments.

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice
  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)
  • BSD
    • DragonFlyBSD Decides To Drop PulseAudio

      DragonFlyBSD developers have decided to remove PulseAudio from their dports packaging system and patch their desktop software to not depend upon this open-source sound server.

      Running PulseAudio on DragonFlyBSD appears to cause problems for users, similar to PulseAudio in its early days on Linux, “the pulseaudio server didn’t seem to work and even caused one CPU to spin at 100% usage. Moreover, it seems that firefox, even if built without pulseaudio, would detect if PA was installed and use it over ALSA resulting in no sound and a spinning CPU,” according to John Marino who removed PA from DragonFlyBSD.

    • LLVM Clang 3.9 Still On Track For Release Next Week

      LLVM release manager Hans Wennborg tagged LLVM 3.9.0-rc2 on Thursday and it’s still looking like LLVM/Clang 3.9 could ship on schedule next week.

      Hans noted in the RC2 announcement, “This is a release candidate in the very real sense that if nothing new comes up, this is be what the final release looks like. There are currently no open release blockers, and no patches in my merge-queue.”

Leftovers
  • Know English? For New York Cabdrivers, That’s No Longer Required [iophk: "This change is so wrong on many levels. There are many, many reasons to require a basic ability to communicate."]

    Hail a yellow taxi in New York City, and there is a good chance the driver is from another country. Passengers are regularly exposed to a range of languages that span the globe, from Spanish to Bengali to Urdu.

    It can be charming, but also maddening for riders who feel that drivers do not understand where they want to go. Don’t you have to speak English, some wonder, to drive a taxi here?

    As of Friday, the answer is no.

    That is when new rules went into effect eliminating the requirement that taxi drivers take an English proficiency exam. Now, the test for a taxi license is available in several languages, to accommodate non-English speakers.

  • Health/Nutrition
    • Building alternatives for food systems and trade

      And it’s not over yet. As public pressure continues this year, whether through vibrant events like Rock Against the TPP ! or organized pressure on specific members of Congress, there is a concerted demand by progressive civil society organizations and leaders to halt current trade agreements and to insist on a different process, different rules, and a different vision of what comes next. We need trade policy that serves to reduce inequality, build local economies and enhance environmental sustainability.

    • CDC Expands Zika Travel Advisory in Miami

      The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Friday expanded its unprecedented travel advisory warning pregnant women to avoid several neighborhoods in Miami, Florida.

      The initial advisory, issued on August 2, was the first of its kind for a continental U.S. city.

      The expanded advisory names “a second zone of local Zika transmission, a swath of Miami Beach that includes the popular tourist magnet of South Beach,” the New York Times reports.

      The initial area touched on “the Wynwood, Midtown, and Design District neighborhoods in Miami, popular with tourists,” the Miami Herald notes.

    • Revealed: Banned drugs used by cheating athletes for sale just TWO MILES from Olympic venues in Rio

      Banned performance enhancing drugs used by athletes to cheat their way to medals and glory can be bought in Rio de Janeiro less than two miles from where Olympic events take place.

      The Rio Olympics is under the shadow of drugs because of the presence of Russia after allegations of a state sponsored cover-up of cheating athletes and the comparative ease with which performance improving substances can be obtained in the host city will cause serious concern.

      Two athletes Chinese swimmer Chen Xinyi, 18, who finished fourth in the 100m butterfly in Rio, and Bulgarian steeplechaser Silvia Danekova – have been exposed in the first week of the Games.

    • ‘BernieCare’ can save ObamaCare

      The decision by Aetna to withdraw from many ObamaCare exchanges was a predictable outrage that opens to the door not to the demise of ObamaCare, but the dramatic improvement of ObamaCare led by a grand battle by Sen. Bernie Sanders (Vt.) and progressives to enact the public option and move toward a Medicare-for-all healthcare system.

      Let’s coin the phrase “BernieCare” to describe the kind of healthcare system that progressives believe, with some reason, would be the kind of program that voters prefer. Sanders has long been a champion of single-payer healthcare — which I personally support — but for obvious political reasons in a lobbyist-dominated Washington, single payer is highly unlikely to happen soon.

    • This Town Is Sick of Drinking Polluted Water

      In Alabama’s Black Belt, a region where the vestiges of slavery still manifest in chronic poverty and crumbling infrastructure, a more recent legacy of mining and industry is haunting the land through poisoned waterways and toxic soil.

      Yet the region has long been the rural core of civil-rights struggles, and along the Black Belt, local citizens are trying to revive a legacy of activism as they struggle to restore their environment.

      In Uniontown—in Perry County, one of the state’s poorest—residents say they have been systematically denied the basic dignity of decent sanitation—what activists see as the residue of institutionalized racism.

    • Poor Sanitation Persisted at U.N. Missions Long After Haiti Cholera Crisis

      Years after medical studies linked the 2010 cholera outbreak in Haiti to infected United Nations peacekeepers, the organization’s auditors found that poor sanitation practices remained unaddressed not only in its Haitian mission but also in at least six others in Africa and the Middle East, a review of their findings shows.

      The findings, in audits conducted by the United Nations Office of Internal Oversight Services in 2014 and 2015, appear to reflect the organization’s intent to avoid another public health crisis like cholera.

      But the findings also provide some insight into how peacekeepers and their supervisors may have been either unaware of or lax about the need to enforce rigorous protocols for wastewater, sewage and hazardous waste disposal at United Nations missions — despite the known risks and the lessons learned from Haiti, where at least 10,000 people have died from cholera and hundreds of thousands have been sickened.

    • As UN Admits Role in Haiti Cholera Crisis, Audits Show No Lessons Learned

      A day after the United Nations admitted that it helped spread cholera in Haiti, the organization also found that poor sanitation persisted in its missions around the world—from the Caribbean nation to Africa and the Middle East.

  • Security
    • New BlackArch Linux ISO Released with Over 1,500 Penetration Testing, Hacking Tools
    • Address Bar Spoofing Vulnerability Found in Several Browsers

      Chrome, Firefox and other web browsers are plagued by vulnerabilities that can be exploited to spoof their address bar. Some of the affected vendors are still working on addressing the issues.

      Pakistan-based researcher Rafay Baloch discovered that the address bar in Google Chrome, also known as the omnibox, can be tricked into flipping URLs.

      The problem, which affects Chrome for Android, is related to how Arabic and Hebrew text is written from right to left (RTL). If an attacker’s URL starts with an IP address and it contains an Arabic character, the URL’s host and path are reversed.

  • Defence/Aggression
    • Breaking from Saudi Arabia!!! Two Month Old Misleading News

      In spite of the fact that this “exclusive” — which has since been reported by other outlets with similarly misleading headlines — describes two month old news, it nevertheless obscures that fact with its editorial choices, as here where it suggests the move “reduces,” in present tense, staff numbers, or the headline which hides that, in fact, the US already withdrew these staffers.

      [...]
      s
      I’d also suggest that reports about what non-uniformed US personnel are doing in Yemen’s immediate neighborhood would be a better gauge of the support we’re giving Saudi Arabia beyond refueling their aistrikes, the latter of which has not stopped at all.

    • Dragon Rising? China seeks Closer military Cooperation with Syria

      The Arabic press is reporting that a high Chinese official on a visit to Damascus has announced that Beijing intends to strengthen its military relationship with the current Syrian government. At the same time he affirmed that China would avoid involvement in the civil war. Reuters broke the story in the West.

      China has a long history of involvement in Syrian security affairs and is already doing some training of the Syrian military. But Beijing now seems intent on taking the relationship to the next level.

      The news comes in the wake of reports that Russia is strengthening its own military ties with Iran and may be flying missions against fundamentalist rebels in Syria from that country.

      China and Russia both belong to the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, which appears to see Iran and Syria as potential strategic assets in its rivalry with the US and NATO. They feel as though NATO stole Libya from them, and are determined to make a stand in Syria. The newspaper of the Chinese military said that Russia’s moves in Crimea and Syria should be studied by Chinese officers. Iran has observer status in the SCO.

    • Bolivia Builds Anti-Imperialist School to Counter US Hegemony

      ‘If the empire teaches domination of the world from its military schools, we will learn from this school to free ourselves from imperial oppression,’ says Bolivian President Evo Morales

    • Bolivia opens ‘anti-imperialist’ military school to counter US foreign policies

      Bolivia’s president Evo Morales has opened a new “anti-imperialist” military academy to counter US policies and military influence in Latin America.

      “If the empire teaches domination of the world from its military schools, we will learn from this school to free ourselves from imperial oppression,” the country’s first indigenous president said at an inauguration ceremony on Wednesday.

    • U.S. Defense Contractors Tell Investors Russian Threat Is Great for Business

      The escalating anti-Russian rhetoric in the U.S. presidential campaign comes in the midst of a major push by military contractors to position Moscow as a potent enemy that must be countered with a drastic increase in military spending by NATO countries.

      Weapon makers have told investors that they are relying on tensions with Russia to fuel new business in the wake of Russian’s annexation of Crimea and modest increases in its military budget.

    • A Lawless Plan to Target Syria’s Allies

      Official Washington’s disdain for international law – when its doing the lawbreaking – was underscored by ex-CIA acting director Morell voicing plans for murdering Iranians and maybe Russians in Syria, ex-CIA analyst Ray McGovern says.

    • Marcos Redux

      We interrupt election news just long enough to bring you breaking news of Ferdinand Marcos, deceased. As corpses’ sojourns go, his has been one of the most enduring, due in large part to the devoted attention of his wife, Imelda. To long time readers of this column, apologies are in order since some of what is described today was reported ten years ago in this very space.

      Ferdinand moved to Hawaii in 1986, having been overthrown as president of the Philippines in a People Power Revolution. His move was assisted by President Ronald Reagan who arranged for the United States Air Force to provide two U.S. Air Force C-141s to carry the Marcos family, its retainers and belongings to Hawaii. Sadly, Mr. Marcos’s sojourn there was cut short by his death on September 28, 1989. His death marked the end of one adventure but the beginning of another, an adventure that will end on September 18, 2016, when he will come to rest in the Heroes Cemetery in Manila.

    • We Can’t Say We Didn’t Know

      A word about five-year-old Omran Daqneesh. The image of him sitting still, stunned, bloodied in an ambulance after being scooped out of rubble from an air strike on Aleppo has quickly spread, reads one account, “shocking and disturbing social media users.” Well yes. Shocking and disturbing. Harrowing and heartbreaking. But, to be clear, not exceptional. Up to a half million Syrians have been killed in Russian and Assad air strikes, many aimed at Aleppo. “These are children bombed every day,” notes Mustafa al-Sarout, an Aleppo-based journalist who filmed the rescue, and was surprised at the reaction. “This child is a representative of millions of children in Syria and its cities.”

      Those there or witness to it say the same things. “Everyone is bombing Syrians, and no one cares,” says Dr. Zaher Sahloul, founder of the American Relief Coalition for Syria and former president of the Syrian American Medical Society. The story not being told in the media: “Civilians are suffering every day. Children are being mutilated and killed… Hospitals are targeted. Schools are targeted. Fruit markets are targeted. This is the tragedy that we are living in.” A tragedy, he adds, that most of the world turns away from, because we can. Because we can be shocked, even surprised despite the years-long carnage, and then go on with our lives, as silent as Omran in his ash and blood and shock.

    • China and the U.S. are Approaching Dangerous Seas

      A combination of recent events, underpinned by long-running historical strains reaching back more than 60 years, has turned the western Pacific into one of the most hazardous spots on the globe. The tension between China and the United States “is one of the most striking and dangerous themes in international politics,” says The Financial Times’ longtime commentator and China hand, Gideon Rachman.

      In just the past five months, warships from both countries—including Washington’s closest ally in the region, Japan—have done everything but ram one another. And, as Beijing continues to build bases on scattered islands in the South China Sea, the United States is deploying long-range nuclear capable strategic bombers in Australia and Guam.

      At times the rhetoric from both sides is chilling. When Washington sent two aircraft carrier battle groups into the area, Chinese defense ministry spokesman Yang Yujun cautioned the Americans to “be careful.” While one U.S. admiral suggested drawing “the line” at the Spratly Islands close to the Philippines, an editorial in the Chinese Communist Party’s Global Times warned that U.S. actions “raised the risk of physical confrontation with China.” The newspaper went on to warn that “if the United States’ bottom line is that China has to halt its activities, then a U.S.-China war is inevitable in the South China Sea.”

    • US Support for Saudi Coalition Remains Steadfast, Despite Growing Outcry

      The U.S. remains defiant in its support for the Saudi campaign in Yemen, even as its backing for the ongoing and indiscriminate assault comes under increasing scrutiny.

      Following a week that saw the Saudi-led coalition kill significant numbers of Yemeni civilians, including in an attack on a school and the bombing of a Doctors Without Borders facility—which led the charity to announce it was pulling its staff from the northern part of the country—Reuters reported exclusively on Friday that the Pentagon in June withdrew military personnel who were involved in planning the campaign from Saudi Arabia.

      “Fewer than five U.S. service people are now assigned full-time to the ‘Joint Combined Planning Cell,’ which was established last year to coordinate U.S. support, including air-to-air refueling of coalition jets and limited intelligence-sharing,” according to the news service, which cited Lieutenant Ian McConnaughey, a U.S. Navy spokesman in Bahrain. That’s down from a peak of 45, he said.

    • Richard Holbrooke and the Obama Doctrine

      In 1975, during Gerald Ford’s administration, Indonesia invaded East Timor and slaughtered 200,000 indigenous Timorese. The Indonesian invasion of East Timor set the stage for a long and bloody occupation that recently ended after an international peacekeeping force was introduced in 1999.

      Transcripts of meetings among Indonesian dictator Mohamed Suharto, Ford, and Secretary of State Henry Kissinger have shown conclusively that Kissinger and Ford authorized and encouraged Suharto’s murderous actions. “We will understand and will not press you on the issue [of East Timor],” said President Ford in a meeting with Suharto and Kissinger in early December 1975, days before Suharto’s bloodbath. “We understand the problem and the intentions you have,” he added.

    • Neofascism of the Law and Order Candidate

      Henry Giroux tells Paul Jay that fear is an organizing principle of U.S. society

    • Turkey and Iran Reach Agreement on Conditions for Syria Peace

      In a stunning diplomatic surprise, Turkey and Iran have announced a preliminary agreement on fundamental principles for a settlement of the Syrian conflict.

    • Hillary Clinton’s War Policy

      As a result of Trump’s stumbles, Hillary Clinton seems to be on course to become next president of the United States and it is depressing to reflect on what some of her policies might be if she achieves that office. Unfortunately, the future looks bleak for peace and stability around the world.

      She is one of the Washington-Brussels war-drum beaters who planned the 2011 aerial blitz on Libya to destroy the government of President Gaddafi, about whose murder she giggled that “We came; We saw; He died.” The US-NATO attacks on Libya caused massive suffering and destruction, opened the way for feuding bands of militants to fight each other for control of parts of the country, and created a haven for the lunatic extremists of Islamic State.

    • A Battle to the Death in Syria

      All sides are terrified of each other and with good reason: Amnesty International last week published a report describing how 17,723 people, or 300 a month, have been tortured or otherwise done to death in Syrian government prisons since 2011. Most of the 4.8 million Syrian refugees come from opposition areas, many of which have been flattened by bombs, shells and bulldozers so they look like pictures of Warsaw in 1945.

    • Photo of the Week: Omran Daqneesh, Pulled From the Rubble in Aleppo

      Who’s to blame? Forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad or his Russian allies launched the bomb into rebel-held Aleppo more than five years into a war that has spanned the whole of Omran’s life. According to the Syrian Network for Human Rights, Russian bombings recently overtook Islamic State as a cause of civilian deaths in the country.

    • Is UK foreign policy helping to fuel the conflict in Syria?

      With the Syrian war escalating, I sat down with Andy Baker, the Regional Program Manager for Oxfam’s Syria crisis response. I asked about the humanitarian situation, the UK’s role in the conflict and what policy Oxfam believes the UK should be following in Syria.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature
    • Internet energy impacts on climate

      Switch off your computer, dust off your old typewriter, sharpen all the pencils you can find, lay in stocks of postage stamps − and that’s just the start.

    • The Climate Catastrophe Cannot Be Reversed Within the Capitalist Culture

      His face was hacked off. Left prostrate in the red dust, to be preyed on by vultures, his body remained intact except for the obscene hole where his magnificent six foot long tusks used to be. Satao was a so-called tusker, an African elephant with a rare genetic strain that produced tusks so long that they dangled to the ground, making him a prime attraction in Kenya’s Tsavo East National Park.

      These beautiful tusks also made him particularly valuable to ivory poachers, who felled him with poison arrows, carved off his face to get at his tusks, and left his carcass for the flies. The grisly death of Satao, one of Africa’s largest elephants, is part of a violent wave of poaching that is sweeping the continent today. In 2011, twenty-five thousand African elephants were slaughtered for their ivory. An additional forty-five thousand have been killed since that time. If the present rate of slaughter continues, one of the two species of African elephants, the forest elephant, whose numbers have declined by 60 percent since 2002, is likely to be gone from Africa within a decade.

    • Social Media Exposes Devastating Effects of Louisiana Flood (Multimedia)

      It’s been labeled “the worst U.S. disaster since Hurricane Sandy,” yet many are accusing the mainstream media of providing too little coverage of the catastrophic flooding across Louisiana.

      The flooding, which began earlier this week, has left at least 13 people dead and tens of thousands homeless. On Friday, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump paid a highly publicized visit to the state, despite a plea from Louisiana’s governor for political figures to avoid photo ops in the flooded areas. “Trump told reporters he came to help out,” reports Bryn Stole of Reuters. “Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards’ office, however, had said Trump did not call to discuss plans.”

    • Rock-solid carbon storage hopes rise

      Study of natural carbon dioxide reservoirs shows that the greenhouse gas could be safely stored deep underground for tens of thousands of years.

    • The New Normal: Organizing to Break the Cycle of Climate Disaster

      The record-breaking floods in Louisiana are the latest example of what many working people already know all too well: climate change has already begun, and it is wrecking our communities.

      So far, over 30,000 people have been evacuated from their homes, 10,000 people are in shelters, and those numbers are rising. The shelters themselves are experiencing flooding, and some families have already been relocated multiple times. At this point, almost 30 parishes have been declared major disaster areas.

    • Amid Flooding, Groups Call for End to ‘Unconscionable’ Fossil Fuel Auctions

      A coalition of climate and advocacy groups on Friday called on the Obama administration to cancel an upcoming fossil fuel auction as Louisiana reels from the unprecedented floods that have ravaged the state—and which rescue groups have described as the worst U.S. disaster since Superstorm Sandy.

      The organizations, including 350.org, CREDO, and Greenpeace, circulated a petition imploring President Barack Obama to call off the planned August 24 offshore drilling lease auction for a portion of the Gulf of Mexico “the size of Virginia.” The auction is set to take place in the New Orleans Superdome, which became an infamous symbol of climate injustice and bureaucratic callousness when Hurricane Katrina victims were forced to take shelter there in 2005.

    • Scientists link conflict and climate change

      Ethnic conflict linked to tragic episodes of civil war, waves of refugees and even the collapse of nation states could be made more likely by climate-related disasters.

      A team of European scientists say they can demonstrate, “in a scientifically sound way”, a link between civil violence based on ethnic divisions, and episodes of drought, intense heat or other climate-linked weather extremes.

      That climate change seems to be a factor in social collapse is now fairly firmly established. Researchers have identified evidence of prolonged drought that preceded the collapse of Assyrian and Bronze Age civilisations in prehistory.

    • For Future Summer Olympics, Climate Change Is No Game

      The Lancet researchers made use of the global attention being paid to the Olympics to make a bigger point: “The world beyond 2050 poses increasingly difficult challenges … because the extent and speed of change might exceed society’s ability to adapt.” Half the world’s workers work outdoors, they note, and, increasingly, the outdoors, and indoor spaces without cooling, are becoming unsafe. They warn that “exertional heat stroke and its negative outcomes, including mortality, will become a large part of outdoor work around the world.” Drawing from another sports example, thousands of workers are toiling in extreme heat in Qatar, building the stadiums for the 2022 World Cup soccer championships. The International Trade Union Confederation estimates that “more than 7,000 workers will die before a ball is kicked in the 2022 World Cup.”

    • From Epic Fires to a 1,000-Year Flood: The Climate Change of Here and Now

      From deadly floods in Louisiana to an “explosive” wildfire in California, the impacts of the climate change are being felt across the United States this week.

      Neither extreme weather event can be exclusively blamed on global warming. But record-breaking heat, warmer oceans, and drier brush—all linked to man-made climate change—are certainly contributing factors.

      “Climate change is never going to announce itself by name. But this is what we should expect it to look like,” declared Jonah Engel Bromwich at the New York Times, referring to the flooding in southern Louisiana, which has been called the worst natural disaster to strike the U.S. since Superstorm Sandy.

      In fact, current analyses suggest that—as was the case in 2012—greenhouse gas emissions and resultant climate change at the very least increased the severity of the storm that brought on the flooding.

    • As Louisiana floods rage, Republicans are blocking modest climate action

      If we needed a reminder of the importance of taking climate change seriously, the floods in Louisiana are providing a big one on a daily basis. When it comes to the big environmental issues, our country’s polarization is historically unusual, and it’s already gone way too far. That’s why the latest fight to break out in Washington over climate issues needs more attention.

      On 1 August, the White House Council on Environmental Quality issued a non-binding suggestion, formally known as “guidance”, to federal agencies to think about climate change when making decisions under a law called the National Environmental Policy Act (Nepa). What should have produced a shrug (or, hopefully, a cheer) caused a panic on the right that’s only getting louder.

      Under Nepa, federal agencies have to account for the environmental impacts of taking major actions such as approving a mine permit, constructing or removing a dam or allowing a road near a protected habitat. These decisions are made by trained scientists and public servants with years of expertise and involve an unparalleled level of public input. By and large, they are among the most rigorously footnoted and well-supported decisions the federal government makes, and Nepa is one of the best vehicles the public has to express concerns about federal impacts on homes and communities.

    • Clinton Foundation Should Also Divest Its Fossil Fuel Holdings

      350 Action, the political arm of climate organization 350.org that has supported the fossil fuel divestment movement, is celebrating today’s announcement that the Clinton Foundation will stop receiving corporate donations if Hillary Clinton is elected President, and urging the Foundation to go a step further by divesting all of its holdings in fossil fuel companies.

    • Dakota Pipeline Construction Halted Amid Ongoing ‘Defiance of Black Snake’

      Hillary Clinton called to ‘take a stand against this ominous pipeline as well as the brazen violation of our treaty rights’

    • North Dakota pipeline construction halted until court date
    • Hillary Clinton must stand with Native Americans

      Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton says she is committed to supporting Indian country. Well, now her commitment is being put to the test.

      Thousands of Native Americans and allies, including actress Shailene Woodley, have been at the Standing Rock Sioux reservation in North Dakota to protest the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline there. The almost $4 billion, 1,172-mile-long pipeline, which received its permits from the Army Corps of Engineers in July, will snake through ancient Standing Rock Sioux burial grounds and may also threaten the peoples’ drinking water.

  • Finance
    • Reality is broken

      Then the Brexit vote happened and over the next two weeks of utterly surreal political chaos it became apparent that I had a Problem.

    • Zuckerberg Sells $95 Million in Facebook Shares for Philanthropy [iophk: “for some special definitions of ‘donate’”; Zuckerberg appears to be embracing Bill Gates’ method of tax evasion, to shelter is his growing wealth.]

      Facebook Inc. Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg has made his first big share sale to fund his family’s philanthropic initiative.

      The sale of more than 760,000 shares of Facebook stock, valued at about $95 million, was made by Chan Zuckerberg Initiative Holdings and the Chan Zuckerberg Foundation, according to a regulatory filing Friday. The price of the shares ranged from $122.85 to $124.31.

    • How Trump and Christie Colluded to Steal $25 Million From NJ Taxpayers

      The very thought of New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, a man with all the charm and temperament of Bluto, being commander-in-chief was luckily destroyed. His pathetic and nonexistent presidential run proved that America preferred an even bigger, louder and more unstable narcissistic a-hole in Donald Trump. But since he can’t keep being governor of New Jersey forever, the blob of buffoonery has to kiss up to Trump in the hopes that it gets him an unelectable cabinet-level position. Well, that cynical effort appears to be playing out quite beautifully.

      The sketchy relationship between Christie and Trump took on a new chapter after a New York Times report showed that Trump’s $30 million casino tax debt, something New Jersey officials fought endlessly to collect, was suddenly reduced by a massive amount after Christie took office in 2010.

    • Detroit Ready to Sue Banks, Private Companies for Unpaid Property Taxes

      Detroit has finally set its sights on some of the real culprits of the city’s financial crisis—the banks and for-profit companies that refuse to pay their share.

      The city on Wednesday said it issued demand letters to 1,543 private entities, both residential and commercial, to recoup more than $12 million in unpaid property taxes, which piled up between 2010 and 2012 alone.

      If they don’t pony up, the city will file lawsuits against them by the end of the month, officials said.

      “For too long, there are those who chose not to pay what they owed in taxes, leaving everyone else to pay the price,” Detroit’s treasurer and deputy chief financial officer David Szymanski said Wednesday. “We are working to improve city services for our residents, and to do that—whether it’s better police and fire protection, streetlights or better schools for our children—we need everyone who does business in this city to pay their fair share.”

    • CBO Report: Rich Get Richer, Poor Get Poorer

      Total wealth in the United States doubled between 1989 and 2013, but the wealth of the American family right in the middle of the economy barely budged in that time, according to a new report prepared by the Congressional Budget Office for U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.).

      “Over the period from 1989 through 2013, family wealth grew at significantly different rates for different segments of the U.S. population,” CBO wrote. “The distribution of wealth among the nation’s families was more unequal in 2013 than it had been in 1989.”

    • Sanders Condemns Obscene Levels of Inequality Documented in New CBO Report

      Yet another report, this one from the U.S. Congressional Budget Office (CBO), highlights what many American families already know: The rich keep getting richer, while everyone else keeps struggling to get by.

      The CBO report, released Thursday and prepared at the request of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), examines trends in family wealth from 1989 to 2013.

      It found, unsurprisingly, that the distribution of wealth—assets including home equity, other real estate holdings, financial securities, and defined contribution pension accounts—among the nation’s families “was more unequal in 2013 than it had been in 1989.”

    • ‘Good to Be King’: The Very Good Loans Key Lawmakers Get from Wall Street Banks

      A new study identifies “a direct channel through which financial institutions contribute to the net worth of members of the U.S. Congress”—especially those ostensibly tasked with overseeing those very Wall Street entities.

      The paper from London Business School professors Ahmed Tahoun and Florin Vasvari, which is based on a “unique dataset” provided by the Center for Responsive Politics (CRP), finds that members of Congress sitting on the finance committees in the Senate and the House of Representatives “report greater levels of leverage and new liabilities as a proportion of their total net worth, relative to when they are not part of the finance committee or relative to other congressional members.”

      The authors write that their analysis was “motivated in part by anecdotal evidence suggesting that some U.S. politicians, who are in a position to potentially affect the future performance of financial institutions that lend to them, have allegedly received preferential treatments from lenders.”

    • Whistleblower Rejects Award to Protest SEC and Wall Street’s “Looting”

      A Deutsche Bank whistleblower rejected his portion of a $16.5 million award for exposing corporate crime because the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) let bank officials off the hook, he said Thursday.

      Former risk manager Eric Ben-Artzi, who went to federal authorities in 2010 after he was fired from Deutsche Bank for alerting its officials of improper accounting, said the bank and the SEC were so deeply entwined in a revolving-door culture that commissioners refused to properly investigate the firm’s top executives.

      “This goes beyond the typical revolving door story. In this case, top SEC lawyers had held senior posts at the bank, moving in and out of top positions at the regulator even as the investigations into malfeasance at Deutsche were ongoing,” Ben-Artzi wrote in an op-ed for the Financial Times.

    • Progressives Gear Up To Kill TPP In Lame-Duck Congress

      As Hillary Clinton’s election victory appears increasingly likely, liberal groups already have their sights on the next battle: defeating the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal.

      President Barack Obama issued an official notification last Friday that he plans to submit the Trans-Pacific Partnership for a vote in Congress.

      While congressional Republican leaders must still green-light the votes, the move has confirmed for many progressive activists that the White House plans to go all-in for the accord during the lame-duck session of Congress after the November election.

    • Trump and Clinton’s free trade retreat: a pivotal moment for the world’s economic future

      Enemies in politics and opposed on nearly all fronts, Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton have found themselves united together against Barack Obama and a tradition that has kept America in charge of the world economy’s rules for more than 70 years. The next president of the United States is rethinking free trade.

      In Washington, that tradition was taken for granted for so long that it rarely attracted much attention even in the business press, let alone dominated the politics pages of an entire election season. But in 2016, America’s faltering faith in free trade has become the most sensitive controversy in DC – never before have both main presidential candidates broken with the orthodoxy that globalisation is always good for Americans.

    • As Resistance Mounts, TPP Becoming 2016 Election’s Third Rail

      As the White House prepares for its final “all-out push” to pass the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) during the upcoming lame-duck session of Congress, lawmakers on both sides of the political aisle are being made vulnerable due to growing opposition to the controversial, corporate-friendly trade deal.

      “[I]n 2016,” the Guardian reported on Saturday, “America’s faltering faith in free trade has become the most sensitive controversy in D.C.”

      Yet President Barack Obama “has refused to give up,” wrote Guardian journalists Dan Roberts and Ryan Felton, despite the fact that the 12-nation TPP “suddenly faces a wall of political opposition among lawmakers who had, not long ago, nearly set the giant deal in stone.”

    • How Parasitic Finance Capital Has Turned Iran’s Economy Into a Case of Casino Capitalism

      Critics have often blamed President Rouhani of Iran for blindly following the neoclassical-neoliberal model of capitalism. The critical problem with Mr. Rouhani’s economic policies, however, is more than just following the dominant economic model of neoliberalism; more gravely, it is following the worst aspects of that model.

      One such disturbing aspect is the unregulated and out-of-control financialization of Iran’s economy: the banking/financial sector is given a free rein to engage in all kinds of parasitic, speculative activities. As this practice has robbed the manufacturing sector of the economy of the productively-investible finance capital, it has thereby led to a severe economic stagnation and high rates of unemployment.

    • McDonalds Could Be Held Liable For Franchise Wage Theft, Federal Judge Rules

      A federal judge in California allowed class action wage theft litigation to proceed against McDonald’s, on the grounds that a jury could find it guilty of negligence.

      Judge Richard Seeborg said Tuesday that the lawsuit against the corporation may continue under the “ostensible agency theory.”

      The doctrine holds an actor responsible for the fault of another, if victims reasonably believe that the perpetrator committed wrongdoing in the employ of said actor.

      The case involves McDonald’s franchise co-owners, Bobby and Carol Haynes, who operate eight restaurants in Northern California. Leading the class are three women who work in one of their Oakland restaurants: Guadalupe Salazar, Judith Zarate, and Genoveva Lopez.

      “Looking at the record, there is considerable evidence, albeit subject to dispute, that McDonalds caused plaintiffs reasonably to believe Haynes was acting as its agent,” Seeborg ruled.

    • Economic Update: The System Exposed

      This episode of Professor Wolff’s radio show discusses the economics of the Olympics, mass transit, productivity truths and the crimes of the Pacific Gas and Electric Company. The show also examines political conflict between unions and the rich.

    • The Fight for a Six Hour Workday

      How long should we work? Jeremy Corbyn’s proposal of a 6-hour working day policy shows the answer to this question is not a god-given fact. In reality each society makes a deliberate decision, and the answers are subject to massive historical fluctuation and social struggle, which we continue to see today. When Francois Hollande announced this year that the 35-hour week would be increased, he was met with the #LoiTravail strikes, which were fierce enough to see the exhausted French police begging the trade unions for a ceasefire. With the biggest social-democratic party in Europe putting 6 hours forward, this is now a move which could feasibly take place. But what are the arguments for and against it? What did the working day look like in the past? And how could it look in the future?

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics
    • Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s Primary Challenger Claims She Illegally Used DNC Resources Against Him

      In an interview with Mimi Rosenberg and Ken Nash of WBAI’s “Building Bridges” radio program, Tim Canova, a law professor, a former Truthdigger of the Week and the Bernie Sanders-endorsed primary challenger of Florida Democrat Debbie Wasserman Schultz, explains why he filed a formal complaint with the Federal Election Commission against Wasserman Schultz over information found in DNC emails made public by WikiLeaks and says Depression-era types of public investment would bring general prosperity to Americans.

      “We’ve had this complaint going on for many months,” Canova said. “The campaign had been growing pretty rapidly. In the first four months we raised about a million dollars. Very unprecedented here. And the way we’re raising money is very much the way that the Bernie Sanders campaign did, in small contributions from many thousands of ordinary folks.

      “As the campaign started growing we clearly got the attention of Wasserman Schultz and the Democratic Party establishment. We knew that from a number of things that she was doing on the ground that she was trying to impede us. Whenever I would go to a local union hall, for instance, or a local Democratic Party club to speak, quite often they would receive a call from the Wasserman Schultz camp trying to pressure them to not let me even speak. … [T]he state party had cut off our access to the [inaudible] voter database much like the DNC had done to Bernie Sanders.

    • Will Donald Trump’s Shake-Up Destroy the GOP?

      Shaken by the fact that he’s losing, Donald Trump has fled into the parallel universe of the extreme right—and apparently plans to stay there for the remainder of the campaign. Let’s see if the rest of the Republican Party is dumb enough to follow him.

      Trump has reportedly been feeling “boxed in” and “controlled” by the few people around him who actually know something about politics. Advice from these professionals to tone it down must be responsible for his slide in the polls, he seems to believe. So he has hired as chief executive of his campaign a man named Stephen Bannon, who will not only let Trump be Trump, but encourage him to be even Trumpier.

      Bannon runs Breitbart News, a website that creates its own ultranationalist far-right reality—one that often bears little resemblance to the world as it really is. As I write, the site is claiming that Hillary Clinton has some serious undisclosed health problem (her doctor says she is just fine), that one of Clinton’s aides has “very clear ties” to radical Islam (which is totally untrue) and that Clinton herself has “clear ties” to Russian President Vladimir Putin (when in fact it is Trump who often reveals his man-crush on the Russian leader).

    • Is the GOP Ready to Cut Trump off Financially?

      It’s make or break time for the Republican Party. Its ticket leader, GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump, is now so far behind Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton in the polls that no candidate in the last 16 elections has lagged at this point in the race and still won the White House in November. Does the party keep pushing for a win at the top, or does it regroup and focus down ballot in the hopes of keeping the Senate and House?

    • Clinton’s list of bundlers shorter than Obama’s, and she’s disclosing less

      Clinton has so far received at least $49.6 million from nearly 500 bundlers, or individual fundraisers who collect money from friends and acquaintances in order to deliver a candidate a “bundle” of checks. As for her opponent Donald Trump? There’s no way to tell, as he has not made any moves to release information on his campaign bundlers.

      Though federal campaign law requires the disclosure only of bundlers who are registered lobbyists, most White House candidates in recent elections have opted to share a fuller list of names. But in the last presidential election, Mitt Romney became the first major-party nominee since 2000 to keep his bundlers private, and so far, Trump has done the same.

      While Clinton has released a list, her campaign is disclosing less than previous Democratic candidates. In 2008 and 2012, bundlers were grouped in tiers — those who gathered between $50,000 and $100,000, between $100,000 and $200,000, between $200,000 and $500,000, and more than $500,000. Clinton has instead simply released the names of everyone who has bundled more than $100,000, with no specifics about amounts raised beyond that.

    • Voting Rights Victories Piling Up

      On November 4, 2014, seven Native Americans living on the Turtle Mountain reservation in North Dakota went to cast their ballots for the general election. All were turned away.

      They were U.S. citizens, longtime county residents, and had voted in North Dakota before. So what was the holdup?

      For Dorothy Herman, 75, it was an expired state ID.

      Herman, a 43-year resident of North Dakota who lives on retirement from her years as a teacher and her husband’s Social Security, had twice tried to renew her ID before Election Day. One day, she traveled 10 miles to the nearest licensing office only to find it closed during posted hours. On her second attempt, she was informed that her expired license was not proof enough of her identity—she also needed a birth certificate, a document that nearly a third of North Dakota Native Americans who need state ID cards to vote don’t have, according to one study. By the time she found it, returned to the office a third time, and paid $8 for her renewed ID card, she had missed the election.

    • Liberal Hate for the Green Party

      Liberals have joined Hillary Clinton’s “big nasty tent” in a very big way. They have moved far beyond the usual rationales for sticking with the Democrats and are now carrying on a full-fledged hate fest. Their targets are Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein and her running mate Ajamu Baraka, who is also a Black Agenda Report editor and columnist.

      The screeds have become more and more extreme and defy the run of the mill rationales that progressives use to justify remaining within Democratic Party lines. Holding one’s nose and voting for the “lesser evil” democrat is passé. So is fear of Republican judicial appointments. Concern for abortion rights doesn’t cut it anymore.

      Liberals are no longer going through the motions of criticizing the Democrat. Instead they openly show love for Hillary Clinton and disdainfully pile on Stein and Baraka with fury. The blog Wonkette called Jill Stein “cunty” and “a mendacious nihilist piece of shit.” The site Very Smart Brothas declared that a vote for Stein was akin to putting it in the trash. They also threw in a dig at Cornel West because he dared to criticize Barack Obama. The Huffington Post chose to deride Green Party convention delegates because they ate at McDonald’s. Gawker tried to link Ajamu Baraka to holocaust denial. His unassailable human rights credentials didn’t mean much when the media decided to go into attack mode.

      The list is long and will get longer between now and Election Day. The degree of antipathy is actually quite useful. It tells us why the Green Party is so important and why liberals are such a dangerous enemy.

    • Steve Bannon Is Trump’s New Anti-Establishment Attack Dog

      Bannon is close to Nigel Farage, the former head of the right-wing UK Independence Party, who offered “massive thanks” to Breitbart News for supporting the party’s successful campaign on behalf of Britain’s departure from the European Union. “Your UKIP team is just incredible,” Bannon told Farage during an interview after the June Brexit vote.

    • Are Donald Trump, Stephen Bannon, and Roger Ailes Cooking Up a Post-Election Media Empire? The Frightening Possibility of a Trump TV Network Combining the Extremism of Breitbart News and Fox News

      Before he became the chairman of Breitbart News, Stephen Bannon worked in the Mergers & Acquisitions Department at Goldman Sachs. For the past year, Bannon has merged Breitbart News with Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, hoping to acquire more and more influence as a frequent Trump advisor and, as of this week, as the campaign’s CEO.

      After Trump loses, don’t be surprised to see Bannon join forces with Trump and Roger Ailes (the former Fox News guru deposed for engaging in sexual harassment of employees who recently jumped aboard Trump’s sinking ship) to create a new right-wing media conglomerate — Trump TV or Trump Media — linking Breitbart News to a new cable network that will almost make Fox News look tame and responsible. Together, Trump, Ailes and Bannon would run their media empire to advance their common goals: gaining political influence, massaging their massive egos, moving the Republican Party further to the right, attacking Democrats and liberal ideas, and promoting a neo-fascist agenda combining xenophobia, racism, sexism, government-bashing, and anti-immigrant nativism.

    • Hillary’s Hubris: Only Tell the Rich for $5000 a Minute!

      There is a growing asymmetry between the media’s mounting demands for Donald Trump to release his tax returns (Hillary has done so) and their diminishing demands that Hillary Clinton release the secret transcripts of her $5000 per minute speeches before closed-door banking conferences and other business conventions.

      The Washington Post, an endorser of Clinton, in its August 18 issue devoted another round of surmising as to why Trump doesn’t want to release his tax returns—speculating that he isn’t as rich as he brags he is, that he pays little or no taxes, and that he gives little to charity. Other media outlets endorsing Hillary have been less than vociferous in demanding that she release what she told business leaders in these pay-to-play venues.

      When asked last year about her transcripts on Meet the Press, she said she would look into it. When the questions persisted in subsequent months, she said she would release the transcripts only if everybody else did. Bernie Sanders replied that he had no transcripts because he doesn’t give paid speeches to business audiences. Nonetheless she continues to be evasive.

    • Dem candidate’s dad chips in $1 million to Senate super-PAC

      Democratic Senate candidate Rep. Patrick Murphy (Fla.) is getting a major financial boost as his campaign heads into the final stretch, courtesy of a $1 million check from his father.
      Thomas Murphy, a Florida home builder, gave the seven-figure sum to the Harry Reid-linked Senate Majority PAC — the group’s largest donation in July, according to the Federal Election Commission.

      The congressman has long benefited from his father’s financial largesse; Thomas Murphy shelled out six-figure super-PAC contributions to help him win his Florida congressional seat in 2012.

      On July 15, two days after the $1 million check landed in the Senate Majority PAC account, the super-PAC announced to the Washington Post its plans to launch a $1 million ad buy in Florida.

      The reported aim was to help Murphy win his primary on Aug. 30 against liberal challenger Rep. Alan Grayson, who is openly opposed by Democratic leadership.

    • The Half-Life of Deindustrialization: Why Donald Trump Is Just A Symptom

      Every four years, the white working class gets a fresh round of attention from candidates and the media. At campaign stops in Rust Belt cities, candidates promise to fix the economy, while pundits yet again claim that white working-class voters are the key to election victory. The pattern is being repeated this year, but this time, both the news media and social media seem especially baffled by the attitudes and behavior of working-class voters.

      As a number of commentators have noted, the roots of this year’s populism lie in deindustrialization, though some seem baffled that white working-class people are still troubled by either NAFTA, which went into effect in 1994, or the loss of industrial jobs, which peaked in the early 1980s. In a recent New York Times column, David Brooks suggested that working-class people should not be so strongly affected by the economic hardship of deindustrialization. After all, he suggested, it’s not as if life in a coal town was ever easy. What he and others don’t realize is that deindustrialization was never only about economics. Its economic, social and psychological effects continue for decades after plants closed and across generations, affecting the worldviews of younger people who never worked in steel mills or auto plants. Like radioactive waste, deindustrialization has a half-life.

    • Independent Women’s Forum and Independent Women’s Voice Use “Independent” Brand to Push Right-Wing Agenda to Women Voters

      The Independent Women’s Forum and its 501(c)(4) affiliate, the Independent Women’s Voice, market themselves to the media and voters as “non-partisan,” “independent,” and “neutral.”

      However, a new investigation of the groups by the Center for Media and Democracy (CMD) reveals them to be anything but that. Joan Walsh in the Nation broke this story today along with other new details about these not-so independent women’s groups.

      CMD’s Reporters’ Guide exposes the groups’ leaders admitting to—and boasting about—their true role for what it is: finding ways to sell right-wing policies and candidates favored by their funders to reach independent women voters under the guise of neutrality.

    • Hillary Goes With the Flow

      One of Team Hillary’s lines is that a vote for her is a vote for President Obama’s “legacy.” It is; for his legacy as a protector and enabler of an overripe capitalist system and the economic predators and earth despoilers it raises to the top.

      There aren’t very many at the top of the heap; enthusiastic sloganeers sometimes peg the number as low as a fraction of one percent. But, under Obama, as under all his predecessors since the economy took a neoliberal turn, they have been making out like the bandits they are, while everyone else has had to struggle, often in vain, not to fall behind. Count on Hillary to keep that going.

    • Hillary and the War Party

      You haven’t heard much from the Democrats lately about foreign policy or global agendas – indeed virtually nothing at the Philadelphia convention and little worthy of mention along the campaign trail. Hillary Clinton’s many liberal (and sadly, progressive) supporters routinely steer away from anything related to foreign policy, talk, talk, talking instead about the candidate’s “experience”, with obligatory nods toward her enlightened social programs. There is only the ritual demonization of that fearsome dictator, Vladimir Putin, reputedly on the verge of invading some hapless European country. Even Bernie Sanders’ sorry endorsement of his erstwhile enemy, not long ago denounced as a tool of Wall Street, had nothing to say about global issues. But no one should be fooled: a Clinton presidency, which seems more likely by the day, can be expected to stoke a resurgent U.S. imperialism, bringing new cycles of militarism and war. The silence is illusory: Clintonites, now as before, are truly obsessed with international politics.

    • Jill Stein on BDS and Israel
    • A Cheap Shot at Bernie Sanders’ Summer Home

      Charles Lane and other Washington Post editorialists defend neocon and neoliberal orthodoxies by demonizing foreign leaders who step out of line and now by making fun of Bernie Sanders for buying a summer home, writes Robert Parry.

    • Donald Trump Casts Himself as Mr. Brexit, Mistaking Depth of Anti-Immigrant Sentiment in U.S.

      As John Lanchester noted in the London Review of Books, the campaign appealed primarily to white working class voters who, with good reason, felt left behind by the increasingly globalized economy, and vented their anger at migrant workers. Trump’s anti-immigrant campaign has been structured like this from the beginning, and he clearly hopes for a similar result.

      What that argument overlooks, however, are quite different demographics — and the crucial difference between attitudes about immigration in the two countries.

      As a Pew Research Center survey published in July showed, residents of the U.K. were closely divided on the question of whether “having an increasing number of people of many different races, ethnic groups and nationalities in our country” made Britain a better or worse place to live — with 33 percent saying “better” and 31 percent saying “worse”. By contrast, a majority of Americans, 58 percent, said “better,” and just 7 percent said “worse.”

    • Column: It’s time for black people to break the two-party system

      White supporters of Hillary Clinton are concerned with the rise of neo-­fascism, of what a Trump presidency would mean for the fragile economic sector, foreign policy, immigration and social progress. For Trump supporters, a world of black and brown people pouring through American borders is a dastardly reality that must ultimately be confronted and curbed through racist, ideological litmus tests for incoming immigrants, draconian and impractical measures against the undocumented and isolationist economic policies that are sure to disrupt our precarious economy.

    • Green Party candidate Jill Stein calls for climate state of emergency

      Presidential hopeful points to California wildfires and Louisiana flooding in push for Green New Deal to address both environment and economy

    • More than half of Clinton Foundation’s major donors would be barred under new rule

      More than half of the Clinton Foundation’s major donors would be prevented from contributing to the charity under the self-imposed ban on corporate and foreign donors the foundation said this week it would adopt if Hillary Clinton won the White House, according to a new Washington Post analysis of foundation donations.

      The findings underscore the extent to which the Clintons’ sprawling global charity has come to rely on financial support from industries and overseas interests, a point that has drawn criticism from Republicans and some liberals who have said the donations represent conflicts of interest for a potential president.

    • Who Is Your Choice for President? [Ed: with over 1000 votes, Jill Stein at 80%]

      Donald Trump’s campaign went through some big changes during the week, and Hillary Clinton faced criticism for some of her own staffing choices. Third-party candidates Jill Stein and Gary Johnson ramped up their media presence. And some of the biggest challenges to politicians stemmed from environmental disasters, as flooding in Louisiana and wildfires in Southern California led to renewed attention on the impact of climate change.

    • Let Gary Johnson, Jill Stein enter presidential debates

      On its website, the Commission on Presidential Debates states that it was established “to ensure that debates “provide the best possible information to viewers and listeners.”

    • Hey Bernie Sanders, You Should Vote For Jill Stein

      I heard about you and Jane buying a new home on the beach and I couldn’t stop smiling, thinking about you out there chillin, grandkids running around, toes in the sand, drinking a Heady Topper or two, or three, or four, reflecting over the past year and a half.

      Even though I dedicated my entire life to getting you elected, there was always this small part of me that wanted you to just go home and relax.

    • Maryland Green Party Forum 2016

      Candidates discuss clean energy policy, challenging corporate power, and improving investment in Baltimore City

    • Jill Stein Makes History as First Green Party Candidate to Hold Town Hall on Prime-Time TV (Video)

      Green Party presidential nominee Jill Stein and her running mate, Ajamu Baraka, addressed voters on CNN on Wednesday night in an hour-long town hall meeting in which they outlined their “Green New Deal.” Stein also told the public she would “have trouble sleeping at night if either Trump or Clinton is elected” and reiterated her goal to build on Bernie Sanders’ “political revolution.”

    • Hillary Clinton’s Choice of Ken Salazar Comes Under Fire (Video)

      Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez of “Democracy Now!” dive deeper into Salazar’s politics in an interview with David Sirota, senior editor for investigations at International Business Times. Sirota explains that the beliefs of those working on Clinton’s transition team are “very important to understanding what may be coming in a Clinton administration policywise and whether those policies in a Clinton administration will reflect the policy promises from Hillary Clinton on the campaign trail.”

  • Censorship/Free Speech
    • How to turn on Twitter’s quality filters and silence trolls

      Twitter has finally come up with a solution to muzzle trolls.

      The company published a blog post on Thursday announcing two new controls for filtering your notifications. Twitter notifications are the primary method through which trolls can contact and harass users.

      The first new setting reduces the noise in your notifications stream. By default, anyone who mentions your Twitter username with the “@” symbol shows up in your Twitter notifications. It doesn’t matter if they’re asking a simple question, offering constructive criticism, or threatening to cut your head off. Everyone shows up.

    • Hey Sexters, Here’s a Very Good Reason to Care About Porn Laws

      Most of us tend to think of pornographers, and porn law, as being about one very specific set of people: namely, those who make a living recording people fucking and selling or freely distributing the resulting photos and video. But in the eyes of the law, it’s not quite that simple.

      As technology has made it easier for anyone to create and distribute dirty pictures and videos, it’s become harder to see where the pornographers end and the rest of us pervs begin—and that could mean that the aggressive laws designed to crack down on “evil” pornographers could potentially spill over into the lives of ordinary citizens.

      Take, for instance, 18 U.S.C. § 2257 and § 2257A, the federal statutes that govern adult industry record keeping and reporting. Ostensibly designed to prevent the distribution of child porn, these regulations—which are much more about maintaining proper paperwork than they are about not exploiting minors—aren’t just for people who actually create porn. They also outline strict regulations for anyone who distributes sexual media to the masses, no matter how far that person is from the actual creation of the original media.

    • British man imprisoned in Dubai over Facebook post raising money for refugees in Afghanistan

      A British man has been imprisoned for almost a month in Dubai over a Facebook post raising money for refugees in Afghanistan.

      Scott Richards unwittingly fell foul of the United Arab Emirates’ “bizarre” laws banning the operation of any charity not registered in the country.

      Police said the 42-year-old, who holds dual British and Australian citizenship, was arrested after using social media to promote a US-based crowd funding campaign.

      The offending link was to a Go Fund Me page raising money to buy blankets for families at the Chahari Qambar refugee camp near Kabul, where children froze to death in 2012.

    • Gawker’s Flagship Site Will Shut Down After Univision Deal

      Gawker.com is shutting down, marking the final chapter for a pioneer in online media and one of the most controversial publishers on the web.

      Nick Denton, the founder of Gawker Media, told the site’s staff that it will end operations next week, according to a post on its website. Gawker.com’s archives will still be available, Denton said in a memo to employees.

      Earlier this week Univision Holdings Inc. made the winning $135 million bid to acquire Gawker Media, which also published the sports website Deadspin, the women’s site Jezebel, the tech site Gizmodo and others. The company was driven into bankruptcy in June after losing an invasion-of-privacy lawsuit to Hulk Hogan. Univision is expected to use Gawker’s other websites to bolster its growing digital footprint, which includes the websites the Root, the Onion and A.V. Club.

      In his memo Thursday, Denton confirmed that he won’t be working for Univision and instead will “move on to other projects, working to make the web a forum for the open exchange of ideas and information, but out of the news and gossip business.”

    • China Censorship Orders Media Not to Report on “Miseries” of Olympic Athletes

      Chinese censor organs have ordered its media to stop reporting news related to problems and failures of Chinese athletes during their participation in the ongoing Rio Olympic Games, and focus more on their patriotism.

      “Do not report on the miseries of Olympic athletes; report more on (their) patriotic spirit,” said a directive sent to the country’s media and published online by the “Ministry of Truth” dedicated to leaking these almost secret orders of Chinese censorship.

      The order was leaked recently as China delivers its worst Olympic performance and coupled with the emergence of local athletes with strong personalities such as the swimmer Fu Yuanhui, which has changed the direction of the Chinese press, focusing more on the human side of athletes than their glory.

    • Why Palestine Matters, Even on the Pitch

      It is not Israel’s Jewish character that is the issue, as those who attempt to delegitimise the Palestinian struggle and those who support it continually maintain. It is Israel’s apartheid character that is the issue, and where better to demonstrate resistance to apartheid than in a packed football stadium alongside thousands of others.

  • Privacy/Surveillance
    • Care.data is dead – long live care.data?
    • Security companies scramble following leak of NSA toolkit
    • NSA leaked files, confirm new documents
    • The NSA was hacked, confirmed by the Snowden Documents
    • Edward Snowden archive prove malware & exploits dumped on public internet on Monday originated from NSA
    • Russian hacks against the Democrats and the NSA expose the weaknesses of our democracy [Ed: The ToryGraph blames Russia for TWO things WITHOUT evidence: DNC leaks and NSA crack]
    • Yup! The NSA Got Hacked
    • The NSA was hacked- so is unfettered government surveillance a good thing?

      Many of those skeptical of Snowden-esque critiques of the surveillance state rely on an argument: “If you don’t have anything to hide, there is no reason to be concerned.” But now that the NSA itself has been hacked, it means the tools to breach your own identity— your bank accounts, credit cards, medical records— are out there. Snowden’s warnings have been found to be the height of prudence.

    • The cyber war that’s breaking out between the US and Russia
    • The NSA Hack Shows Why the U.S. Government Shouldn’t Stockpile Software Vulnerabilities

      Earlier this week, top secret code written by one of the NSA’s most clandestine branches was released on the internet. Among other things, it contains a cache of technologically sophisticated hacking tools.

    • Snowden Docs Support Claim NSA Cyberweapons Stolen, Report Says
    • Cisco Firewall Products Targeted by NSA Hacking Tools

      Cisco this week acknowledged that some of its firewall appliance products are being targeted by purportedly leaked U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) hacking tools.

    • Should feds worry about the NSA leak?
    • After the NSA Hack: Cybersecurity in an Even More Vulnerable World
    • Quartz
    • Snowden Documents Confirm The NSA Hack Is Real
    • Australia in top three vulnerable to Cisco firewall attack
    • Snowden documents confirm that leaked hacking tools belong to NSA
    • NSA Vulnerabilities Trove Reveals ‘Mini-Heartbleed’ For Cisco PIX Firewalls
    • New Snowden docs support claim of NSA cyberweapon hack
    • New Snowden documents prove the hacked NSA files are real

      Edward Snowden Former US National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden appears live by video during a student-organized world-affairs conference at the Upper Canada College private high school in Toronto on February 2, 2015.

    • Hack of NSA ‘cyber weapons’ verified by Snowden docs – report
    • Snowden documents show NSA leak is real
    • New Snowden docs suggest Shadow Broker leak was real
    • The latest NSA leak shows why it’s so hard to trust even tech designed to keep computers safe

      Leaked National Security Agency hacking tools are exposing how even the technology designed to safeguard our computer networks can put users at risk — and how poor security practices like clinging to old equipment can make things worse.

    • ‘Auction’ of NSA Tools Sends Security Companies Scrambling

      The leak of what purports to be a National Security Agency hacking tool kit has set the information security world atwitter — and sent major companies rushing to update their defenses.

      Experts across the world are still examining what amount to electronic lock picks. Here’s what they’ve found so far.

    • Snowden documents show NSA leak is real: report

      Such access would enable the NSA to plant malware in rivals’ systems and monitor – or even attack – their networks.

    • NSA cybersecurity hack – this is what happened

      Shadow Brokers posted online some examples of the data it said it had stolen, including scripts and instructions for breaking through firewall protection.

    • Cyber espionage: A new cold war?

      This is a tale of spies, a $500m cyber arms heist, accusations of an attempt to manipulate a US presidential election and an increasingly menacing digital war being waged between Russia and the west.

    • NSA Hacked, Cyber Weapon Toolkit Theft Confirmed By Snowden Docs
    • US hacked NTC to spy on Pakistan military, political leadership: Snowden documents
    • NSA spied on Pakistani civil-military leadership
    • US spied on Pakistan through hacking tools
    • US hacked NTC to spy on Pakistan military, political leadership: Snowden documents

      The United States hacked into targets in the Pakistan’s National Telecommunications Corporation (NTC) to spy on the country’s political and military leadership, documents released by former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden confirm.

      According to a report by online news site The Intercept, the previously unpublished documents released by Snowden confirm that some of the NSA’s top-secret code has been leaked or hacked.

      The Intercept’s editors include journalists that worked with Snowden to publicise his notorious 2013 NSA leak revealing the extent of government snooping on private data.

    • US spied on Pakistan’s leaderships: Snowden

      United States spied on the political and military leaderships of Pakistan and also hacked their data, according to the documents released by dissent whistleblower Edward Snowden. This was reported by Aaj News in its headline stories here on Saturday.

      The files Snowden took from the agency in 2013 say a top-secret NSA manual contains the same 16-character alphanumeric tracking code that appears throughout a portion of code released online earlier this week by a group called The ShadowBrokers. The group was auctioning off the code, which it said was stolen from the NSA. The relevant code was reportedly part of a program dubbed SECONDDATE that was used to spy on Pakistan and Lebanon.

    • Industry pros react to Cisco, Fortinet advisories after possible Snowden NSA leak

      Ridley agreed, noting that he expects the actionable takeaway of the leaked exploits will be technical. He told SCMagazine.com that security pros “need to start architecting networks to assume both devices and endpoints are compromised, and minimize the lateral movement to minimize damage.”

    • Evidence Links Leaked Hacking Tools to the NSA

      “NSA malware staging servers getting hacked by a rival is not new,” he wrote in a tweet, referring to private servers that are occasionally controlled by NSA agents, but not owned by the agency itself.

    • Equation Group’s BENIGNCERTAIN tool – a remote exploit to extract Cisco VPN private keys

      In the Equation Group dump that contained NSA hacking tools, there was an overlooked tool called BENIGNCERTAIN.

      Analysis of the tool shows that it appears to be a remote exploit for Cisco PIX devices that sends an Internet Key Exchange (IKE) packet to the victim machine, causing it to dump some of its memory. The memory dump can then be parsed to extract an RSA private key and other sensitive configuration information.

      The tool references Cisco PIX versions 5.2(9) to 6.3(4), which was released in 2004. It is also worth noting that the Cisco PIX line of products are at their end-of-life.

      The exploit consists of three binaries, each consisting of an individual step in the exploitation process.

      The first step is executing bc-genpkt, which generates an IKE packet of arbitrary size and fills some of it with arbitrary data.

    • NSA Hackers, Hacked

      Whatever the true identity and motives of the Shadow Brokers, there are some clear policy lessons to take away from this. The first concerns the “Vulnerability Equities Process“—which is how the American intelligence community decides whether and how long to hang on to software vulnerabilities they discover before notifying developers so that these cybersecurity holes can be patched. Back in 2014, federal cybersecurity coordinator Michael Daniel insisted in a post on the White House blog that the process is strongly weighted in favor of disclosure. The government, he assured the public, understands that “[b]uilding up a huge stockpile of undisclosed vulnerabilities while leaving the Internet vulnerable and the American people unprotected would not be in our national security interest.”

    • NSA leak rattles cybersecurity industry

      By exposing the custom-made malware online, the Shadow Brokers have suddenly made many of the systems American corporations rely on for cybersecurity more vulnerable to digital attacks from criminals and spies.

    • After Shadow Brokers, should the NSA still be hoarding vulnerabilities?

      This weekend’s Shadow Brokers leak dropped 300MB of stolen data onto the open web, including live exploits for some of the web’s most crucial network infrastructure, apparently stolen from the NSA in 2013. But while experts are still sorting out who stole the data and how, the new exploits have also left companies like Cisco, Fortinet, and Juniper scrambling to fix the newly published attacks against their systems. Suddenly, there was a new way into products that had been considered secure for years — and anyone who downloaded the data knew exactly how to get in.

    • In wake of NSA leaks, a call for transparency in cyber arms

      A leak of sensitive computer code is spurring calls for the government to be more transparent about its handling of a secret stockpile of network intrusion tactics.

      The leaked code, believed to be written by an NSA operation, contained new techniques to hack widely used hardware from Cisco, Fortinet and Juniper Networks.

      The leaks left countless computer networks vulnerable to hackers — something security professionals and government officials alike acknowledge is a risk of stockpiling these kinds of techniques.

      The government has a program in place to minimize that risk, called the Vulnerability Equities Process (VEP), which requires agencies to justify keeping a security vulnerability and report all other vulnerabilities to manufacturers so they can be repaired. While the VEP receives praise from civil libertarians as a considerable step up from countries making no similar effort, many are seizing on the NSA leaks to push for changes to the program.

      “One of the better things the Obama administration did was to create a presumption of disclosure,” said Gabe Rottman, deputy director of the Freedom, Security and Technology Project at the Center for Democracy and technology. “But being more open on the policy would be a good start.”

      The administration has revealed very little about the inner workings of the VEP. A White House board makes the ultimate decision of which vulnerabilities are kept by weighing investigative necessity against the harm that would be caused by the vulnerability going unfixed.

    • Snowden documents ‘show NSA leak is real’
    • Cisco wants to be a software company? Why customers should look beyond the hype [iophk: “it doesn’t matter, Cisco will be gone because of SDN, they are unlikely to recover from the NSA backdoor incidents”]

      Five years ago Forbes published an article called Now Every Company is a Software Company. The magazine wasn’t the first to notice this phenomenon and it certainly wasn’t the last but it did neatly articulate a view that has grown louder with each passing year since the era of the dot.com boom when the notion first gained currency.

    • 98 personal data points that Facebook uses to target ads to you

      Say you’re scrolling through your Facebook Newsfeed and you encounter an ad so eerily well-suited, it seems someone has possibly read your brain.

      Maybe your mother’s birthday is coming up, and Facebook’s showing ads for her local florist. Or maybe you just made a joke aloud about wanting a Jeep, and Instagram’s promoting Chrysler dealerships.

      Whatever the subject, you’ve seen ads like this. You’ve wondered — maybe worried — how they found their way to you.

      Facebook, in its omniscience, knows that you’re wondering — and it would like to reassure you. The social network just revamped its ad preference settings to make them significantly easier for users to understand. They’ve also launched a new ad education portal, which explains, in general terms, how Facebook targets ads.

    • Australia v New Zealand: All Blacks hotel room in Sydney ‘bugged’

      New Zealand Rugby says a Sydney hotel room where the All Blacks held meetings was bugged before their first Bledisloe Cup match against Australia.

      The New Zealand Herald reported that a “sophisticated” listening device found on Monday had been hidden in a chair.

      The All Blacks beat Australia’s Wallabies 42-8 on Saturday.

      The CEO of New Zealand Rugby, Steve Tew, said in a statement that Australian police and the Australian Rugby Union (ARU) had been informed.

      Saturday’s game is the first of three in the annual Bledisloe Cup between Australia and New Zealand – which the All Blacks have not lost in 13 years.

      Tew said: “We are taking this issue very seriously, and given it will be a police matter, it would not be prudent to go into further details.”

      The New South Wales Police Force said in a statement that they had become aware of the allegation on Saturday, and had attended a hotel in Double Bay, an area of Sydney.

    • NSA Hacked – Keys to the Kingdom Stolen

      The biggest story in the news right now isn’t Donald Trump. The biggest story is the NSA was hacked and the “Keys to the Kingdom” were stolen. Someone managed to get hold of the NSA’s hacking tools used by their Tailored Access Operation unit. (TAO) What this means is that leterally everything that civilization depends on is now exposed.

      These tools exploit flaws in the operating systems of the computers and routers that make the internet work. The NSA keeps these flaws secret rather that informing companies like CISCO and Juniper of the flaw and give them the opportunity to fix them. The NSA has put their need to spy above the security of the world. And now the unthinkable has happened. Hackers have the power of the NSA and they could bring down civilization. Think of it as Y2K on steroids.

    • How the NSA snooped on encrypted Internet traffic for a decade

      In a revelation that shows how the National Security Agency was able to systematically spy on many Cisco Systems customers for the better part of a decade, researchers have uncovered an attack that remotely extracts decryption keys from the company’s now-decommissioned line of PIX firewalls.

      The discovery is significant because the attack code, dubbed BenignCertain, worked on PIX versions Cisco released in 2002 and supported through 2009. Even after Cisco stopped providing PIX bug fixes in July 2009, the company continued offering limited service and support for the product for an additional four years. Unless PIX customers took special precautions, virtually all of them were vulnerable to attacks that surreptitiously eavesdropped on their VPN traffic. Beyond allowing attackers to snoop on encrypted VPN traffic, the key extraction also makes it possible to gain full access to a vulnerable network by posing as a remote user.

      BenignCertain’s capabilities were tentatively revealed in this blog post from Thursday, and they were later confirmed to work on real-world PIX installations by three separate researchers. Before the confirmation came, Ars asked Cisco to investigate the exploit. The company declined, citing this policy for so-called end-of-life products. The exploit helps explain documents leaked by NSA contractor Edward Snowden and cited in a 2014 article that appeared in Der Spiegel. The article reported that the NSA had the ability to decrypt more than 1,000 VPN connections per hour.

    • FCC won’t back down on broadband users’ privacy

      There will be no lame-duck period for Tom Wheeler. The FCC chairman vowed this week to push ahead in the last months of 2016 to complete an ambitious agenda to reshape the rules governing broadband and “put a referee on the field to throw the flag on any future unjust or unreasonable activity.”

    • Google Glass strikes back

      The single most innovative wearable of all time has to be Google Glass.

      Yeah, I said it. And it’s true.

      If you read the tech blogs, you’d be forgiven for believing that Google Glass is a failed product, dead and gone. But in fact, the opposite is true.

      The Google Glass Explorer program succeeded wildly. Google is feverishly working on new kinds of Google Glass products, and the innovation around Google Glass never stopped.

  • Civil Rights/Policing
    • Turkish airport advert warns travellers about Sweden rape danger

      A billboard displayed this week in Istanbul’s main airport warned travellers against visiting Sweden, describing it as having the highest rate of rape in the world, the latest salvo between EU-candidate Turkey and its European allies.

      Ties between Ankara and Europe have worsened since last month’s failed coup, with Turkey accusing its Western allies of insensitivity, saying they were more concerned about a subsequent crackdown than the coup itself.

    • Meet the robots that will help us win the wars of the future

      If former Marine and entrepreneur Sean Bielat has his way, the law enforcement officer tentatively approaching a vehicle in the future after making a traffic stop won’t be an officer at all. Rather, those are the kind of interactions — fraught with uncertainty, potentially dangerous — that seem to him to make perfect sense for one of his robots to deal with instead.

      [...]

      Among other things, Endeavor says that new system will increase the operational range of its robots in urban areas and other “radio-challenged” environments. Longer term company targets include things like getting the price of robot units down so clients like cash-strapped police departments can more easily afford them.

    • How Do Today’s Struggles for Justice Differ From Those of the 1930s?

      In the 1930s capitalism faced a very deep crisis, and the strategy for dealing with it was more or less one of two ways: either fascism, or the kind of social democracy of the New Deal, compromise with the domestic working class. The United States chose, on the whole, the new deal. Roosevelt, to a large extent, excluding Britain, which came very close to choosing fascism, didn’t. But certainly Europe did choose fascism. But many economists think not that far from another bout of quite deep crises. ‘07-‘08 was, many people say, a tip of the iceberg. And I think many people are getting ready for the next round that might be far more deep and more profound.

      You have the rise of a kind of neofascism in the United States that we once saw in many places in the world in the 1930s, and see again now in Europe in various forms. But on the other side, Hillary Clinton ain’t no Roosevelt. She’s not a proponent of the New Deal. The closest one could get to that was Bernie Sanders, and that clearly was crushed, that campaign, by the people that control the machinery of the Democratic Party. So what does that mean for people of the United States, and the choices they will make, and what might face them in the coming days?

    • Justice Dept. Announces Initiative to End Use of For-Profit Prisons
    • What You Need to Know About the DOJ’s Claim It Is Ending Private Prisons

      The U.S. Justice Department issued a memo, first reported Thursday by Matt Zapotosky and Chico Harlan of the Washington Post, in which the federal agency claims that it will end the use of private prisons.

      “I am eager to enlist your help in beginning the process of reducing—and ultimately ending—our use of privately operated prisons,” wrote Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates. “As you know, all of the Bureau’s existing contracts with private prison companies are term-limited and subject to renewal or termination. I am directing that, as each contract reaches the end of its term, the Bureau should either decline to renew that contract or substantially reduce its scope in a manner consistent with law and the overall decline of the Bureau’s inmate population.”s

    • Feds End Use of Private Prisons, but Questions Remain
    • DOJ Ending Use of Private Prisons: Will Decarceration Follow?

      Truthout’s Maya Schenwar says the announcement won’t affect federal immigration detention centers or state prisons

    • Private Prisons Are Far From Ended: 62 Percent of Immigrant Detainees Are in Privatized Jails

      The US Department of Justice’s decision to no longer use private prisons for its federal prisoners is a groundbreaking first step, but the August 18 announcement doesn’t spell the end to private prisons: Private prison corporations will continue to control 46 immigration detention centers that detain nearly 25,000 people (or 62 percent of the country’s 33,676 immigrant detainees) on any given day.

      It is perhaps telling that in the hours after the announcement made headlines yesterday, stock prices for both Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) and GEO Group, two of the country’s largest private prison corporations, dropped 40 percent, but by today they had started to climb again.

    • The DoJ is right to ditch private prisons. But it won’t do much in practice

      Just a week after a scathing report decrying the condition of private prisons in the US, the Department of Justice announced on Thursday that it would phase out their federal use by not renewing contracts for companies like GEO Group, Management of Training Corporation, and Correctional Corporations of America (CCA).

    • Sanders and Activists Say DOJ Ban on Private Prisons Doesn’t Go Far Enough
    • Sanders Applauds Decision to End Federal Use of Private Prisons
    • DOJ to End Use of Private Prisons: CCR Says DHS and ICE Must Do the Same
    • Admitting Failed Experiment, DOJ to Phase Out Private Prisons
    • Justice Department says it will end use of private prisons

      The Justice Department plans to end its use of private prisons after officials concluded the facilities are both less safe and less effective at providing correctional services than those run by the government.

      Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates announced the decision on Thursday in a memo that instructs officials to either decline to renew the contracts for private prison operators when they expire or “substantially reduce” the contracts’ scope. The goal, Yates wrote, is “reducing — and ultimately ending — our use of privately operated prisons.”

      “They simply do not provide the same level of correctional services, programs, and resources; they do not save substantially on costs; and as noted in a recent report by the Department’s Office of Inspector General, they do not maintain the same level of safety and security,” Yates wrote.

    • Why Is the Obama Administration Keeping Toddlers Behind Bars?

      Twenty-two mothers who have been interned with their children for up to a year in a for-profit immigration detention facility entered the ninth day of a hunger strike on Wednesday. Neither the mothers nor their children have committed any crimes, nor have they been charged with any. They have no idea when they will be released. Advocates and attorneys representing the women tell The Nation that their children are suffering, they feel that they’ve been lost in the system and their desire for freedom has become desperate.

    • Photos and Hunger Strikes Expose More Abuses in Migrant Detention

      Central American women holding a hunger strike at the Berks County Family Detention Center in rural Pennsylvania implored President Barack Obama to “set aside [his] vacation for 10 minutes and look at how we’re suffering locked up in here” on Wednesday, as they continued their second week of striking.

      The women, who are also mothers, said they will continue striking until they receive some word on their asylum petitions. Activists with the grassroots group Make the Road Pennsylvania, who spent several months protesting outside the facility in solidarity, have taken their action to Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts, where Obama is on break with his family.

    • Detained Undocumented Mothers Launch Hunger Strike, Vow to Leave ‘Alive or Dead’

      Dozens of undocumented women being held with their children at the Berks County Residential Center in Pennsylvania are on a hunger strike that they say will culminate in their leaving the facility “alive or dead.” The mothers are essentially being held prisoner under an Obama administration plan to detain undocumented families while their papers for asylum are being processed. Their children range in age from 2 to 16.

      A Philadelphia-based grass-roots organization called Juntos has been working to shut down Berks for nearly two years. It should not be such a difficult task, given that the facility is violating policy on many fronts. In an interview, Juntos Executive Director Erika Almiron told me that Berks was licensed as a “child residential facility” rather than a “detention center,” and that there is “no license that they can get in the state of Pennsylvania to fit what they want to do.” The detention center’s license expired in February, and Juntos and its allies pressured the Department of Human Services (akin to a child welfare department) to refuse renewal. But Berks County commissioners inexplicably appealed the decision. While the appeal is in process, the facility continues to operate and keep the women and children as prisoners.

      Meanwhile, the entire program of imprisoning immigrant families is under question. A year ago, a federal judge in California, Dolly Gee, found the practice in violation of the settlement of a class action lawsuit 18 years ago, known as the Flores agreement, and ordered the release of families. Yet the thousands of women and children being held at three facilities, including Berks (the other two are in Texas), continues. But at a press event earlier this month, U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson defended the ongoing detention in spite of Gee’s ruling, saying, “I think that we need to continue the practice so that we’re not just engaging in catch and release.”

    • The Justice Department Is Done With Private Prisons. Will ICE Drop Them Too?

      The Justice Department’s announcement on Thursday that it would seek to end the use of private contractors to run its federal prisons was a monumental one that quickly sent private prison stocks plunging and drew praise from dozens of human and civil rights groups that for years had been denouncing abuse and neglect in private facilities.

      In a memo explaining the decision, Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates wrote that private prisons “simply do not provide the same level of correctional services, programs, and resources,” “do not save substantially on costs,” and “do not maintain the same level of safety and security” as facilities operated by the Bureau of Prisons.

      But as the criminal justice community began to take stock of the news, many also expressed hopes that the DOJ would not be the only government agency to cut ties with the private companies, which also operate state prisons and immigration detention centers.

    • ‘They Are Incentivized to Arrest People Because It Raises Money’

      When Newt Gingrich comes out for criminal justice reform, you are right to look under the hood, to question just how deep this popular reform is intended to go. Any improvements that help real people are to be wished for, but policing and prisons are systems with deep and far-reaching roots in US life. We ought to have questions about reform that comes without an honest reckoning with the fact that some of what we call problems in the criminal justice system are not so much bugs as features.

    • The Justice Department’s Call to Axe Private-Prison Contracts Is A Victory. ICE Must Now Do the Same to End Federal Prison Profiteering.

      In a bluntly-worded memo issued yesterday, the U.S. Department of Justice directed the Federal Bureau of Prisons to begin phasing out all of its contracts with private prisons.

      Private prisons, the memo stated, “compare poorly” to federally run prisons. They “simply do not provide the same level of correctional services, programs, and resources; they do not save substantially on costs; and . . . they do not maintain the same level of safety and security.” The memo then describes how the Bureau of Prisons will reduce and ultimately end its reliance on private prisons.

    • Two visions of politics in Turkey: authoritarian and revolutionary

      Late last December, upon returning from a trip to Saudi Arabia, Turkish President Erdogan was asked by Turkish reporters whether an executive presidential system was possible while maintaining “the unitary structure of the state”. He responded, “There are already examples in the world. You can see it when you look at Hitler’s Germany.” Following a failed coup d’etat attempt this July, as Erdogan started excluding and imprisoning political rivals, laying the groundwork for authoritarian control, some critics have begun taking the comparison more seriously.

    • Solitary for Suicide Attempts: The Brutal Punishment of Chelsea Manning

      On August 10, Army Secretary Eric Fanning received a petition with 115,000 signatures, part of an ongoing effort by activists to ensure Chelsea Manning’s additional suicide-related charges are dropped. Although public pressure has mounted, there has been no sign that the charges will be dropped any time soon.

      Manning’s case has been fraught with government abuses of power, ranging from 1,000 days of detention without trial to denial of medical resources when dealing with gender dysphoria. Now, after a suicide attempt, Manning is facing potential conviction that would force her back into solitary confinement. This horribly inhumane treatment is used for many prisoners, particularly those seen as threatening to the state. But Manning hasn’t just been punished because of her charges; she has been denied basic resources necessary for dealing with the complexity of both gender dysphoria and the mental ramifications of solitary confinement.

    • Owning Milwaukee’s Tragedy

      Race and ethnicity 2010: Milwaukee by Eric Fischer. Map based on Census 2010 data. Red is White, Blue is Black, Green is Asian, Orange is Hispanic, Yellow is Other, and each dot is 25 residents.

      In a nation that clings to the notion that we live in a shining city upon a hill, the shooting death of Sylville Smith on a Milwaukee street, the fiery response by the black community, the scorching rhetoric from the press and the sheriff, the heated replies by everybody with a computer are all unsettling our basic sense of ourselves.

      Milwaukee is Baltimore is Ferguson is Los Angeles is Detroit.

    • “I Was Like, Whatever…”: On Lochte Abroad and Idiocy at Home

      This is the current American quote that sums up where it’s all come to. The degradation of culture, the hip anti-intellectual posture, the hollow reality shows, the prevailing mean smugness and the flat screen mesmerizing of the American tribe has brought us to, “I was like, whatever.”

      This is the quote of a famous American with oddly colored hair. He claims this was his response to a man pointing a gun at his head and telling him to get on the ground.

      The first part – “I was like…” The linguistic Zika virus – “like.” Not “I was” or “I am” or “I shall be.” No. “I was like,” meaning an approximation of reality. This is the current subconscious cover for the dread of a real feeling—or real moment—or the real story.

      I suppose this hapless, entitled fellow with the bright dimpled smile thought he’d get some mileage out of a war story. And when you live in a pool of approximation anchored to the word “Like” maybe it doesn’t seem so wrong. He may have played a flat screen version of this story in his head and then he downloaded it into the ear of a reporter named Bush, which adds another wrinkle to the event of an international, malicious, scandalous fib.

      [...]

      Both rising out of the same cauldron of deception, anti-intellectualism, entitlement and fantasy. Both ducking genuine narratives – both weaving phantasms in which each is victim and hero. Both, when on the verge of being busted cuts to: “No – no – this is what happened – I’ll tell you what happened.” Lie – word salad – Lie – then the quote that says it all, because it says nothing. “I was like, whatever.”

    • The Illusion of Freedom

      The seizure of political and economic power by corporations is unassailable. Who funds and manages our elections? Who writes our legislation and laws? Who determines our defense policies and vast military expenditures? Who is in charge of the Department of the Interior? The Department of Homeland Security? Our intelligence agencies? The Department of Agriculture? The Food and Drug Administration? The Department of Labor? The Federal Reserve? The mass media? Our systems of entertainment? Our prisons and schools? Who determines our trade and environmental policies? Who imposes austerity on the public while enabling the looting of the U.S. Treasury and the tax boycott by Wall Street? Who criminalizes dissent?

      A disenfranchised white working class vents its lust f