Links 21/7/2015: Manjaro Linux 0.8.13, Kdenlive 15.08

Posted in News Roundup at 7:23 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish



  • Desktop

    • Dell Temporarily Suspends XPS 13 Developer Edition Sales to Fix Issues

      Some very keen eyes from the Linux community noticed that the Dell XPS 13 Developer Edition was no longer available for purchase. Being just a community with no available information, the rumors quickly got out of hand, but it turns out that Dell is just making some changes. Sure, they could have handled this situation a lot better and informed the users about their plans before implementing them, but that didn’t happen.

    • Linux without Flash: User Tips

      Adobe Flash has been both a gift and a curse wrapped up in the same package. It’s a sluggish, often insecure and horribly bloated way to watch a video and play games on your computer. For years, Flash for Linux users was even worse: audio was out of sync with the video and you needed a special wrapper to play Flash videos on 64-bit Linux distributions. Even though things have gotten better in terms of compatibility, security still remains poor.

    • Should there be a $99 Chromebook?

      Chromebooks have been big sellers on Amazon for a long time now, with prices running from $150 on up. But one Chrome OS redditor recently wondered if it was time for there to be a $99 Chromebook. He got some interesting answers from his fellow redditors.

  • Server

    • No Agents Needed to Monitor Containers, Says Sysdig, Just Linux Kernel Changes

      Advocates of conventional VM environments have touted this as a key disadvantage of containers. If it is, then both VMs and containers share the problem. Virtual components are intended to be self-contained. Docker has begun to break through this barrier with its latest exploration of a plugins ecosystem. But even this may underscore the need for containers to report their health, and the opportunity for containers to one-up VMs yet again by beating them to a standard approach.

  • Kernel Space

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

  • Distributions

    • Which Linux Chrome OS Clone is Right For You?

      Which route you take to Chrome OS depends on your needs. If you’re looking for Pure Chrome OS, you’ll want to go with Chromium OS. If you’re looking for a nearly-identical Chrome OS experience, with an additional boost from the Linux desktop, go with Solus. If you want the best of both worlds, give Chromixium a try.

    • Reviews

      • A solid experience with SolydXK

        SolydXK is a desktop distribution based on Debian’s Stable branch. SolydXK originally began as an unofficial spin of the Linux Mint project, but has since grown into its own distribution with its own repositories. SolydXK is available in two editions, Xfce and KDE. While both editions strive to offer complete desktop solutions out of the box, the Xfce edition offers a faster, more resource friendly approach. The KDE edition provides more features and configuration options. At the time of writing, both editions of SolydXK appear to be offered as 64-bit x86 builds exclusively. I decided to try the project’s Xfce edition (SolydX) and found the distribution’s ISO was 1.4GB in size.

    • Arch Family

      • Manjaro Linux 0.8.13 Gets Its Fifth Update with Latest MATE and Cinnamon

        The Manjaro Linux 0.8.13 distro has received its fifth update and it looks like we’re getting new versions for various desktop environments, not to mention the upgrades for the supported Linux kernels.

      • Review: Manjaro Linux 0.8.13 “Ascella” KDE

        That’s where my time with Manjaro Linux 0.8.13 “Ascella” KDE ended. Overall, this distribution is quite polished, it seems to cater to newbies well, and I can’t find much that is wrong with it. Of course, if I were to use it on a daily basis, there are other things that I’d have to get used to, such as the way KDE and its applications do things compared to MATE/Xfce, the way the KDE Kickoff menu is best used (because the KDE Lancelot menu does not appear to be available for KDE 5), and so on. In any case, though, I can heartily recommend it to newbies and more experienced users alike, and I would seriously consider using this on a daily basis.

    • Red Hat Family

      • Ratings Watch: Red Hat, Inc. (NYSE:RHT)
      • Fedora

        • Doing Fedora Snapshots/Rollbacks With Btrfs & Snapper

          All the way back to Fedora 13 has been work on supporting Btrfs system snapshots / rollbacks using this Linux next-generation file-system’s CoW snapshot abilities. Those abilities were tied into a Yum plug-in for making a Btrfs snapshot whenever a Yum transaction would take place. Another alternative for Btrfs system snapshots on Fedora is by using Snapper.

        • Intel’s Braswell NUC Trips On Fedora 22 But Runs Fine On Ubuntu 15.04

          This week I started testing Intel’s new NUC5CPYH NUC as the first device with a Braswell SoC (not to be confused with Broadwell). The tests are progressing but the out-of-the-box experience hasn’t been one of the best for Intel.

        • Intel’s Broadwell i7-5775C Runs Much Happier On Fedora 22 Than Ubuntu Linux

          With using the MSI Z97-G45 GAMING motherboard that doesn’t require any BIOS/UEFI tweaks to run better on Ubuntu, it still was locking up some times as noted in the article yesterday, but it was better than the other Intel Z97 motherboards tested with this socketed Broadwell processor. On Ubuntu these problems persisted with various versions of the Linux kernel tried from Linux 3.19 through Linux 4.2 Git. Interestingly, these kernel panics have vanished when switching to Fedora 22.

        • Telegram in Fedora

          Recently, there has been a new wave of instant messaging services focused on the mobile world. Examples include Whatsapp, Messenger, Hangouts, and Viber. However, these are all closed and don’t have the best record of security and privacy. A new service with a different approach is Telegram. It’s developed and run by a non-profit organization, has an open API and protocol, provides open source clients, and stresses privacy.

    • Debian Family

      • dgit 1.0, available for all users

        I am pleased to announce dgit 1.0, which can be used, as applicable, by all contributors and downstreams.

      • Dgit 1.0 Released: Making A Debian Archive Like A Git Repository

        Dgit allows users to treat Debian archives as Git repositories and to provide a “Git view” of any package. Dgit also allows building and uploading from Git. Dgit 1.0 adds anonymous read-only access support, among other changes.

      • Derivatives

        • Neptune 4.4 Release

          This version features a new LTS Kernel 3.18.16 which delivers better and more modern hardware support. We also did the biggest update in the graphicsstack since Neptune 4.0 by upgrading to XServer 1.17 and Mesa 10.5.8. This brings in support for modern graphiccards and better 3D performance. Old chips like voodoo or sis however aren’t supported anymore. We updated the Hplip driver to support newer hp printers.

        • Canonical/Ubuntu

  • Devices/Embedded

    • Amazon Echo plus Wink hub equals smarthome simplicity [Ed: runs Linux]

      Adding a $50 Wink hub and a few connected LED bulbs just made Alexa our home’s newest addition. And we’re just getting started.

    • Installing Anything Else on Intel Compute Stick Voids Warranty

      Intel announced two models of the Intel Compute Stick, one with Windows and one with Ubuntu. For unknown reasons, Intel decided to make the Linux version a little less powerful, so people are thinking of buying the Windows version and just install Linux on it. As it turns out, it’s not that simple.

    • Phones

      • Android

        • Get a 13.3-inch Android tablet and keyboard for $109.99

          Some tablet deals can’t wait for Tuesday, so I hereby give you Tablet Monday…

          Ending Friday, and while supplies last, Staples has the refurbished NuVision TM1318 13.3-inch Android tablet for $109.99 shipped (plus tax). It’s available in your choice of black, blue or pink, and it comes with a matching carrying case/stand and a Bluetooth keyboard.

        • I Regret My iPhone 6, Now I Want Android

          I never thought I needed an iPhone, until I did — until all my friends had them and I listened to music all day, every day, everywhere. But that was three years ago, and now I’m thoroughly bored and almost stifled by Apple smartphones. After about a month of owning my iPhone 6, I found myself loathing iOS’s lack of freedom, limiting hardware and software, and boring ecosystem. Here’s why my next smartphone will run Android.

        • A secret option in your Android phone can help make it work faster

          Whether you have the newest, fastest Android phone available or an older device that’s starting to show its age in its declining performance, there’s a neat little trick that should speed up the overall feel of your Android phone.

        • $30 Remix Mini aims to be the first serious Android PC

          The Remix Mini, which is expected to ship in October, is Jide Tech’s second Android device launched on Kickstarter, following an 11.6-inch Remix Ultratablet running its Remix OS version of Android on an Nvidia Tegra 4. The China-based Jide Tech, which was started by three ex Google staffers, had some trouble with distribution, but it appears that the funders have finally received their tablets, according to Android Police. The story suggests that the higher new worldwide shipping fees, which now range from a $15 to $30, are designed to ensure that users can get their Minis in a more timely fashion.

Free Software/Open Source

  • Where are the Women and Minority Open Source Programmers?

    Open source culture—in theory and largely in practice—is about as meritocratic as can be. Yet it’s also nearly as dominated by white males as can be. Why is that? It’s a question worth asking, especially in the wake of the Washington Post’s observations a few days ago regarding Silicon Valley’s “diversity problem.”

  • Succeed in open source, change the world

    Growing a project means eventually having to change a culture, and making a culture where people are already happy change is a challenge. Harvard Business School professor John P. Kotter has developed a set of eight steps for change and transforming an organization with it. Peters recommended a subset of these for growth of open source projects.

  • Democratizing Open Source Technology to Empower Innovators

    Innovation is the new currency in today’s Idea Economy. In recognition of the leaders who are disrupting our tech-driven world, the editors at thought leadership site PSFK.com partnered with HP Matter to create the Innovators Index, a roster of digital pioneers making a global impact. This week we’ve featured Peter Semmelhack for designing open source tools that empower the next generation of innovators.

  • Huawei Bears Open Source Gifts From China

    Chinese technology giant Huawei has frequently been the subject of suspicion and sanction, particularly in the United States. But it’s also a company that produces key pieces of technology infrastructure, and an active contributor to various international open source initiatives. This week, at OSCON in Portland, Huawei announced the release of a new open source project, Astro. Astro tightly integrates the database capabilities of Apache HBase with the online query and analytics power of Apache Spark, potentially bringing Spark-powered data science a step closer to the huge structured data stores locked up inside many global enterprises.

  • An Intimate View: Standards vs. Open Source

    One person with intimate knowledge of those key differences is Heather Kirksey, director of NFV for the Open Platform for NFV Project Inc. , the Linux Foundation -backed open source effort. As someone directly involved in developing a recent and enduring telecom standard, TR-69, Kirksey has seen firsthand how both processes work and knows why open source is faster, as the result of a different kind of cooperation.

  • The Open Source Initiative Welcomes Mifos Initiative

    The Open Source Initiative® (OSI) this week welcomed The Mifos Initiative as the latest Affiliate Member to join the global non-profit focused on promoting and protecting open source software, development and communities.

  • Pixar Presents A Blender To Renderman Plugin

    Earlier this year pixar released a free, non-commercial version of Renderman, their photo-realistic 3D rendering software used within the company’s animated movies. Coming out now thanks to work by Pixar and the community is a Blender-to-Renderman exporter plug-in.

  • Haiku OS Working On A Systemd-Inspired Boot Daemon

    Haiku OS, the BeOS-inspired open-source operating system, has reached the point of being feature-complete for launch_daemon, their new boot/service manager partially inspired by systemd.

  • SaaS/Big Data

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice

  • Funding

  • BSD

  • Public Services/Government

  • Openness/Sharing

    • What is open science?

      In his autobiography, Just for Fun, Linux creator Linus Torvalds argues that the open source process tends to mirror the scientific enterprise. “Science was originally viewed as something dangerous, subversive, and antiestablishment—basically how software companies sometimes view open source,” he writes. And like science, Torvalds suggests, open source drives innovation: “It is creating things that until recently were considered impossible, and opening up unexpected new markets.”

    • Open Hardware

      • 5 human-powered open hardware projects

        Thanks in large part to open hardware platforms like BITalino, biosignals are no longer bound to the walls of a medical practice; whether you’re looking for the next cool project or to learn something new over summer vacation, physiological computing has plenty to offer. This article highlights a few ideas to get your creative juices flowing:

  • Programming


  • Health/Nutrition

    • Swedish capital to go car free in September

      Cars will be banned from Stockholm city centre for the first time on September 19th as the Swedish capital takes part in a Europe-wide initiative to encourage greener travel.

    • California Drinking Water: Not Just Vanishing, But Also Widely Contaminated

      In normal years, California residents get about 30 percent of their drinking water from underground aquifers. And in droughts like the current one—with sources like snowmelt from the Sierra Nevada mountains virtually non-existent—groundwater supplies two-thirds of our most populous state’s water needs. So it’s sobering news that about 20 percent of the groundwater that Californians rely on to keep their taps flowing carries high concentrations of contaminants like arsenic, uranium, and nitrate.

    • Jeremy Hunt Petition Calling For Health Secretary’s Resignation Prompts Thousands Of Signatures

      More than 60,000 people have signed a petition calling for Jeremy Hunt to resign or be removed as health secretary over his seven-day NHS comments, less than 24 hours after it was set up.

      On Sunday Harry Leitch, a research fellow at the Cambridge Stem Cell Institute, launched a petition on Change.org saying the document should act as “a vote of no confidence in his leadership from the NHS and from the public”.

      On the website Mr Leitch said that Mr Hunt’s “out of touch policies” and “flippant remarks” about the NHS had “angered” NHS workers for a long while, but his recent speech on seven day working was the “last straw”.

  • Security

  • Defence/Police/Secrecy/Aggression

    • Florida man dislikes sea turtles, shoots a volunteer protecting their nest

      A 72-year-old Marine veteran who volunteered to protect a sea turtle nest got beaten and shot in the butt for his troubles. Turtle-hater Michael Q. McAuliffe was arrested.

    • The Horrors of John McCain: War Hero or War Criminal?

      The top war-monger in Congress has been Senator John McCain, Republican from Arizona, seeker of the Republican presidential nomination. In one rhetorical bombing run after another, McCain has bellowed for “lights out in Belgrade” and for NATO to “cream” the Serbs. At the start of May he began declaiming in the US senate for the NATO forces to use “any means necessary” to destroy Serbia.

    • It’s Simple, Face the Nation: Iran Doesn’t Trust US Inspectors–and Shouldn’t

      These efforts are not exactly a secret to US corporate media; the Washington Post and Boston Globe jointly broke the news that the UN’s UNSCOM inspection program in Iraq had been used for US military espionage on January 6, 1999 (written up by Seth Ackerman in FAIR’s Extra!, 3-4/99, 11-12/02). In the Globe‘s words, UNSCOM concealed “an ambitious spying operation designed to penetrate Iraq’s intelligence apparatus and track the movement of Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein.”


      So it wasn’t considered debatable at the time—though a few years later, when the US was gearing up for an invasion of Iraq, US media started treating it as an allegation made by Iraq rather than an actual operation that had been exposed by leading US papers (as Ackerman documented—Extra!, 11-12/02).

  • PR/AstroTurf/Lobbying

  • Privacy

    • Obama Is Secretly Amassing Sensitive Personal Data On Americans For An Orwellian Race Database [Report]

      Paul Sperry, a fellow of the Hoover Institution at Stanford University, has raised alarm that the Obama administration is secretly amassing a database of sensitive personal information about Americans broken down by race for the purpose of engineering what the administration describes as “racial and economic justice.”

      Agents of the administration, according to the report published by the New York Post, are mining sensitive personal data — health, housing, financial, and employment — for the purpose of documenting and analyzing social, cultural, political, and economic “inequalities” between minorities and whites.

    • A Fascinating New Interview with Wikileaks’ Julian Assange

      SPIEGEL: Who uses these methods?

      Assange: The British GCHQ has its own department for such methods called JTRIG. They include blackmail, fabricating videos, fabricating SMS texts in bulk, even creating fake businesses with the same names as real businesses the United Kingdom wants to marginalize in some region of the world, and encouraging people to order from the fake business and selling them inferior products, so that the business gets a bad reputation. That sounds like a lunatic conspiracy theory, but it is concretely documented in the GCHQ material allegedly provided by Edward Snowden…

      SPIEGEL: What does this “colonization” look like?

      Assange: These corporations establish new societal rules about what activities are permitted and what information can be transmitted. Right down to how much nipple you can show. Down to really basic matters, which are normally a function of public debate and parliaments making laws. Once something becomes sufficiently controversial, it’s banned by these organizations. Or, even if it is not so controversial, but it affects the interests that they’re close to, then it’s banned or partially banned or just not promoted.

    • The weak case against strong encryption

      I used to think that the idea of banning encryption was too absurd for discussion. Whenever a politician or government official suggested it, I figured it to be a ploy covering the real desire, which was not to ban encryption, but to require backdoors that would allow encrypted content to be accessed by government agencies.

      So it goes in the United Kingdom, where the government of Prime Minister David Cameron seemed to be pushing for an outright ban. But now we hear from Cameron’s spokespeople that they don’t really want to ban encryption; instead, they would like to be able to decrypt anything they want at any time.

    • I’ll Put My Name On This Piece Declaring It Idiotic To Argue Against Anonymity Online

      This happens every few months — whenever there’s a flare up of “bad behavior” on the internet. Some genius thinks he can solve everything by just “getting rid of online anonymity.” The latest to step into this well trodden, widely debunked, canyon of ridiculousness… is Lance Ulanoff over at Mashable. He seems to think that he’s the first person to seriously consider the idea of doing away with online anonymity, and it only serves to show that he’s barely thought through the issue at all. First off, it’s simply wrong to associate anonymous comments with trollish comments. Yes, some anonymous comments are trollish, but most are not. And, in fact, many trollish, harassing comments come from people who have their real names attached to them. This has been studied widely, but Ulanoff doesn’t even bother to look for evidence, he just goes with his gut. The largest single platform for harassment online… has been Facebook, which famously requires “real names.” That hasn’t stopped harassment, and nor would it do so on Reddit.

  • Civil Rights

    • Slingbox Class Action Lawsuit Filed Over Unwanted Ads

      Last week, a class action lawsuit was filed against Sling Media Inc., the maker of a device called Slingbox that streams digital TV, alleging the company streamed advertisements without permission from consumers.

    • UK parents to get power to cancel children’s passports over Isis fears

      Cameron said that parents would in effect have the right to cancel the passports of their children under 16 to prevent them from travelling to war zones.

    • NSA Helped CIA Outmanoeuvre Europe on Torture

      Today, Monday 20 July at 1800 CEST, WikiLeaks publishes evidence of National Security Agency (NSA) spying on German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier along with a list of 20 target selectors for the Foreign Ministry. The list indicates that NSA spying on the Foreign Ministry extends back to the pre-9/11 era, including numbers for offices in Bonn and targeting Joschka Fischer, Vice Chancellor and Foreign Minister from 1998 to 2005.

    • The Making of a Republican Snowdenista

      Rep. Thomas Massie, R-Ky., hands me a copy of a letter from James Clapper in which the director of national intelligence complains to two members of the House Intelligence Committee about Massie’s recent attempts to reform one of the NSA’s massive surveillance programs.

      On the top right, in curly script, Massie has written his response: “Get a warrant.” It’s in red ink. He’s underlined it.

      “If you assume the worst” about the National Security Agency’s surveillance practices, Massie tells me, “it’s not a bad position to take, given what we’ve found out.”

      Indeed, for Massie, as with so many others, the information NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden gave journalists two years ago about the extraordinary sweep of U.S surveillance programs was a huge eye-opener.

      Prior to the Snowden revelations, Massie says, he knew almost nothing about the NSA’s implementation of the tools Congress gave it to protect national security.

    • EU Proposes To Reform Corporate Sovereignty Slightly; US Think Tank Goes Into Panic Mode

      Back in May, we wrote about the European Commission’s sharing “concerns” about corporate sovereignty chapters in trade agreements. The Commissioner responsible for trade, Cecilia Malmström, even went so far as to say that the present investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) system was “not fit for purpose in the 21st century.” But rather than removing something that is unnecessary between two economic blocs with highly-developed and fair legal systems, she instead proposed to “reform” it, and to start working towards an international investment court.

      That idea was dismissed almost immediately by the US Undersecretary for International Trade at the Commerce Department, Stefan Selig. Despite that, the EU seems set on replacing today’s corporate sovereignty with some kind of court. In a non-binding but important set of recommendations to the European Commission regarding TTIP, the European Parliament called for the following…

  • Intellectual Monopolies

Links 20/7/2015: Red Star Linux Serial Content Tracker, Linux 4.2 RC3

Posted in News Roundup at 6:30 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish



Free Software/Open Source


  • Embarrassing Pasts

    The royal family were of course German themselves – completely so. Since George I every royal marriage in line of succession had been conducted in strict accordance with the Furstenprivatrecht, to a member of a German royal family. The Queen Mother, who was of course not expected to feature in promulgating the line of succession, was the first significant exception in 220 years. She was evidently trying hard to fit in. But I am not sure German-ness has much to do with it. Nazi sympathies were much more common in the aristocracy than generally admitted. Their vast wealth and massive land ownership contrasted with the horrific poverty and malnutrition of the 1930’s, led the aristocracy to fear a very real prospect of being stood against a wall and shot. Fascism appeared to offer social amelioration for the workers with continued privilege for the aristocrats. It is completely untrue that its racism, totalitarianism and violence was unknown in 1933-4. They knew what they were doing.

    Happily fascism was defeated. The royal family is of course only the tip of the iceberg of whitewashed fascist support – without even starting on industrialists, newspaper proprietors, the Kennedys, etc. etc. But the Buckingham Palace option of outrage that anybody should ever remember is very sad – still more sad that such a position gets such popular support.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Serbia sentences Balkan drug trafficker to 20 years in jail

      A court in Belgrade on Monday sentenced Darko Saric, for years one of the most wanted crime figures in the Balkans, to 20 years in jail for trafficking cocaine from Latin America to Europe and laundering 22 million euros, the Tanjug news agency reported.

    • Continued Food Shortages in Venezuela Spark Social Media Outcry

      Venezuela has been suffering from food shortages for a while now. Shortages of basic needs have become the norm in Venezuela over the past few years, but as images from citizens continue to swarm social media sites it only seems to be getting worse. The government has reportedly taken control of all major television stations, leaving only social media as one of the few ways to see what’s going on inside the country.

    • In Flint, Michigan, Overpriced Water is Causing People’s Skin to Erupt in Rashes and Hair to Fall Out.

      On a Saturday afternoon in early May, Gertrude Marshall stood on a sidewalk in front of Flint City Hall holding a hand-printed sign that declared, “We Need Affordable Water.” A 48-year-old grandmother with a kind face and determined eyes, she had come alone to protest the city’s skyrocketing water rates. In the month of April, the city had issued shutoff notices to 378 customers who could not afford to pay their bills.

    • Prison food bill to go up $13.7M with new vendor

      Michigan’s new prison food vendor got a sweeter contract that includes higher meal prices, potentially higher annual increases, and a waiver of experience requirements for kitchen workers.

  • Security

    • Online Cheating Site AshleyMadison Hacked

      Trevor Stokes, ALM’s chief technology officer, put his worst fears on the table: “Security,” he wrote. “I would hate to see our systems hacked and/or the leak of personal information.”

    • doas – dedicated openbsd application subexecutor

      Talking with deraadt and millert, however, I wasn’t quite alone. There were some concerns that sudo was too big, running too much code in a privileged process. And there was also pressure to enable even more options, because the feature set shipped in base wasn’t big enough. Hurray, tension. It wasn’t the problem I was trying to solve, but it was an opening from which to launch my diabolical plan.

  • Defence/Police/Secrecy/Aggression

    • Countering the neo-Cold Warriors

      Shortly, the «gruesome twosome» of U.S.-Russian relations, Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Victoria Nuland and NATO Supreme Commander General Philip Breedlove, will be joined by a third neo-Cold Warrior, Marine Corps General Joseph Dunford, the prospective Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, to become the «terrible troika» of American officials clamoring for a military showdown with Moscow.

    • Palantir goes from CIA-funded start-up to big business

      So when Peter Thiel, the billionaire Silicon Valley investor and a fan of JRR Tolkein’s fiction, first envisaged a company that could find answers in the deluge of “big data” available in the digital age, he thought Palantir was an apt name.

    • Report: CIA backed Big Data analytics firm Palantir, raising $500m Series I on $20b valuation

      According to reports, the new round of funding apparently reflects investors’ eagerness to gain access to a startup seen as one of the most successful in the world, although many probably haven’t even heard of it.

    • CIA-funded spy data safe Palantir doubles in value in 18 months

      CIA-backed Big Data analytics outfit Palantir is about to embark on a fundraising round that will value the biz at $20bn (£13bn), according to reports.

    • Judge: CIA, Pentagon May Still Neither Confirm Nor Deny Records Exist on US Citizens Killed by Drones

      A federal judge has ruled the CIA and Defense Department (DOD) do not have to confirm or deny whether they have records on the “factual basis for the killing” of either Samir Khan or Abdulrahman al-Awlaki, who were killed in two separate drone strikes in September and October of 2011.

    • CIA and OLC Must Release More “Secret” Documents on Aulaqi Drone Strike
    • Suicide Bomber Kills At Least 18 Near CIA Base in Afghanistan

      A suicide bomber killed at least 18 people in Afghanistan on Sunday near a CIA-operated military base where US troops are stationed.

    • Vietnam POW Records Block Was a Bust for CIA

      Forced to divulge Vietnam War records on prisoners of war or soldiers missing in action, the CIA must now pay more than $400,000 in attorneys’ fees, a federal judge ruled.

      Roger Hall, Accuracy in Media and Studies Solutions Results brought the challenge 11 years ago after the CIA rejected their request under the Freedom of Information Act.

      A federal judge in Washington issued two slam-dunk decisions for the record seekers over the years.

      After ordering the CIA in 2009 to divulge all nonexempt records, to search its database for 1,700 names, and to explain its reasons for nondisclosure, the CIA attempted to look for just 31 of the files because it said searching for 1,700 names without additional identifying information would be unduly burdensome.

    • Secret Document Shows CIA Reaction to Finding No WMD in Iraq

      The fact that Duelfer states quite clearly that he found none of the alleged WMD stockpiles cannot be repeated enough, with 42 percent of Americans (and 51 percent of Republicans) still believing the opposite. A New York Times story last October about the remnants of a long-abandoned chemical weapons program has been misused and abused to advance misunderstanding. A search of Iraq today would find U.S. cluster bombs that were dropped a decade back, without of course finding evidence of a current operation.

    • CIA reaction to finding no WMD in Iraq

      The National Security Archive has posted several newly available documents; one of them an account by Charles Duelfer of the search he led in Iraq for weapons of mass destruction, with a staff of 1,700 and the resources of the U.S. military.

    • Endless enemies – how the US is supporting the Islamic State by fighting it

      Geopolitics is a murky game. Precisely how murky is reflected in the well-worn phrase, “The enemy of my enemy is my friend.”

      What happens, though, when you follow that ancient proverb with the faith of a religious believer?

      Now that the war on the “Islamic State” (IS) is, ostensibly, in full-swing, the US is making “friends” out of enemies, old and new. Among our new friends is al-Qaeda.

      Except they are supposedly not “our” friends, but friends of our allies.

    • Tehran embassy re-opening will test troubled UK-Iran relations

      Tehran’s Ferdowsi Avenue commemorates Iran’s national poet. It is also home to the British Embassy, still shuttered and closed after the attack on it four years ago – at a low point in relations between the Islamic Republic and the country Iranians have often called the Little Satan – alongside the Great American one.

    • Ron Paul Backs Iran Nuclear Deal: “It’s To The Benefit Of World Peace”

      Ron Paul expressed support for President Obama’s nuclear deal with Iran in two interviews this week, saying in one that the agreement was “to the benefit of world peace.”

      The former Texas congressman’s position stands in contrast to that of many Republicans, including his son, Kentucky senator and current presidential candidate Rand Paul.

      Speaking to Ed Berliner of Newsmax TV’s “The Hard Line” on Wednesday, elder Paul said that “[o]ur foreign policy is basically driven by the military industrial complex, and if they can sell something, they will keep stirring the pot.”

    • 25 years later: Did Kuwait invasion doom Iraq?

      In 1990 and 1991, the United States deployed a huge army to Saudi Arabia and then fought and destroyed much of Iraq’s army. After the war, US military forces stayed in the kingdom and in Kuwait in significant numbers. More bases came in Qatar and the UAE. In 2003, President George W. Bush launched another war with Iraq and US military forces, except for a brief interruption, have been in Iraq since. What had been a backwater for the US military has become since 1990 the principal arena of conflict. This shows no sign of ending anytime soon.

    • The Case of Ecuador: Where Sovereignty is Serious Business

      But Agee was no Edward Snowden, Private Manning or Ray McGovern, three good liberals who stuck their necks out, publishing secret information and making public criticism with the aim of making the military and intelligence services less politicized and more professional. Agee was not looking to improve the CIA’s functioning but to undermine it every step of the way and even destroy the Agency if that were possible, and so deal a blow to US imperialism. That was his calling until the end of his days. He died in Cuba in 2008 at the age of 72, surrounded by the affection and appreciation of the Cuban revolution, which always thanked him for his courage.


      As you can see, Latin America’s jealous defense of its sovereignty is no whim, and it is certainly not a populist gimmick. Here in the South, our sovereignty is under constant threat and protecting it requires our never ending vigilance.

    • ‘US interest in Kyrgyzstan: Strategy of global dominance’

      Washington has given a human rights award to a Kyrgyz man who was arrested for instigating ethnic strife in his country, in yet another example of the US exerting its strategy of full spectrum global dominance, political experts tell RT.

      The US State Department has decided to hand its Human Rights Defenders Award to Kyrgyz national, Azimzhan Askarov, who, in 2010, played an active role in ethnic riots between Kyrgyz and Uzbeks in his country. Askarov was arrested during the violence and convicted of taking part in the murder of a Kyrgyz police officer.

    • Seven conspiracy theories that turned out to be real

      Known as Plan W, it was intended as a response to Nazi Germany’s plan to invade Ireland and use it as a staging area for the Luftwaffe’s attacks on Britain. Churchill had made several offers to DeValera to give back the Six Counties if Ireland joined the Allied effort against the Nazis, however DeValera believed it would cause another civil war in Ireland. There was a real belief in British political and military circles that Nazi Germany could invade Ireland quite easily, with some believing that DeValera could side with the Nazis if an advantageous offer was made to them. The Abwehr, Nazi Germany’s intelligence service, had several contacts with the IRA and were using them for information on the ground.

    • Richard Nixon’s Blueprint for Twenty-First Century America
    • Richard Nixon – Hero or Villain? (Author Interview with Tim Weiner)

      Nixon’s administration gave men like future Defense secretaries Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld, future Supreme Court justices William Rehnquist and Antonin Scalia, future CIA director Bill Casey, and many more of their first real tastes of power. These men became central to American conservative policies and politics in the late 20th and early 21st centuries.

    • Nixon was least bothered with 1971 genocide: Tim Weiner

      Weiner discounted Nixon’s fear of communism as being responsible for turning his back on the Bangladesh genocide .

      “Nixon repeatedly calls the people of India savages and cannibals. He repeatedly mourns the fact that Yahya is going down and Indira Gandhi will emerge stronger.

      “He didn’t give a fig for the genocide that was being committed in present-day Bangladesh, for which people are still being tried and convicted. The origin of this is simply loyalty for Yayha for smuggling Kissinger to China.”

    • The Nixon Legacy

      As a bonus, you also get a preview of the kinds of money machinations that, with the backing of the Supreme Court four decades later, would produce our present 1% democracy. The secret political funds Nixon and his cronies finagled from the wealthy outside the law have now been translated into perfectly legal billionaire-funded super PACs that do everything from launching candidate ad blitzes to running ground campaigns for election 2016.

    • ‘Being Nixon’ portrays a president divided against his better self

      Richard Nixon once told an administration adviser that African-Americans were “just down out of the trees.” Our 37th president also, without fanfare and without credit, oversaw a peaceful transition from segregated schools to integration in the old Confederacy.

    • Iran’s Favorite Midwesterner

      How the long-forgotten story of a minister’s son from Nebraska could remind Tehran and Washington of a common heritage.

    • “Obama’s War” in South Sudan

      The genocidal war being waged in South Sudan today is “Obama’s War”. Why? Because the Obama regime is paying for it.

      Thanks to Wikileaks we know that the CIA began paying the salaries of what is today the South Sudanese “rebel army” led by Reik Machar in 2009. And the CIA is still paying them today. We know this because

    • Why Is Iran’s Refusal to Allow No-Notice Inspections Legit? U.S. History With Iraq

      Americans and Israelis who hate the new nuclear agreement with Iran are already focusing on one part in particular: It doesn’t authorize snap, no-notice inspections of all locations. Israel’s hard-right Education Minister Naftali Bennett claims the accord is a “farce” because “in order to go and make an inspection, you have to notify the Iranians 24 days in advance.”

      This is not exactly right, but close enough. (Iran’s declared nuclear sites will be under continuous monitoring. If the International Atomic Energy Agency wants to inspect a non-declared site and Iran refuses, Iran has 14 days to convince the IAEA it’s doing nothing wrong without providing access. If it can’t, the commission governing the agreement has seven days to vote on whether to force Iran to provide access, and if it does Iran has three more days to comply. The exact procedure is established in paragraphs 74-78 of the agreement text.)

      For people unfamiliar with the history of arms control generally and in the Middle East in particular, this might seem like a bad deal. If Iran doesn’t have anything to hide, why wouldn’t it allow the IAEA to go anywhere at anytime?

    • NATO’s War on Africa [Ed: this piece is a bit whacky and weak on evidence]

      But another terrorist attack by the group Al Shabaab on an African Union military base in Lego, Somalia, received little attention and no widely publicized official condemnation by Western governments. Fifty Burundian troops were killed and dozens were injured after the Somali terrorist group stormed the African Union military base, which is currently occupied by troops under the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM). It was one of the worst attacks against a military target in Somalia since the collapse of that country in 1991.

    • Chad: 25-Year Fight to Put Former U.S.-Backed Habré On Trial

      “An interminable political and legal soap opera” is how South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu described 25 years of back and forth in the quest to bring former Chadian dictator Hissène Habré (1982-1990) to trial for crimes against humanity.

    • For The First Time, An African Country Prosecutes Another’s Ex-Leader

      Former leader of Chad is going on trial Monday on charges of crimes against humanity. He’s been living in exile in Senegal since he was driven from power in 1990. Human rights campaigners and survivors of alleged torture have been trying to get him to court ever since. NPR’s Ofeibea Quist-Arcton reports.

    • Iran deal: A new vision of American foreign policy?

      Traditionally, military force emanated the ultimate form of power as the strong subjugated and proselytized the weak; this is how empires were formed. This profound emphasis on military force was conceived during a time when war was more acceptable, rights to self-determination were not enshrined in international law, nuclear threats were a nonissue and globalization did not exist.

      Today, as the world grows increasingly interdependent with each passing minute, the foundations of power have shifted. While war still exists, its allure that marked earlier eras has been undermined by its costs in the contemporary world. America had to learn this the hard way.


      Multilateral diplomacy captures the essence of the world we live in far better than unilateral coercion (e.g. Iraq invasion). The United States led the P5+1 in this unprecedented diplomatic effort, effectively recognizing the limitations of American power and demonstrating strong leadership in resolving a major geopolitical issue.

    • AEI Expert: Iranians Think “Very Differently” From Us Because They’re “Nationalists”

      Iranians: are they normal human beings like us, or are they weirdos whose foreign, mysterious thought processes can only be understood by highly trained experts?

      Michael Rubin, a mideast expert at the American Enterprise Institute, says it’s the latter. (Rubin previously worked from 2003-4 for the Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq, which is benefitting to this day from his applied expertise.)

      The reason this matters right now, obviously, is that the U.S. and Iran are trying to come to an agreement on limiting Iran’s enrichment of uranium. So Rubin wants us to know that we can’t allow “political correctness to trump accuracy” by assuming “that everyone shares our values.” No, he explains, “different peoples can think in very different ways.” And certainly Rubin isn’t alone in this: varieties of his perspective suffuse the Wall Street Journal, Time, and pretty much every prestigious U.S. news outlet.

    • Islamist batallions against Donetsk and Lougansk

      According to the New York Times, they are the Cheikh Manour and Djokhar Doudaïev batallions , mainly composed of Chechens from Georgia and Ouzbekistan, and the Crimée battalion, composé of Tatars [1], the CIA has been coordinating the Nazis and the Islamists since the end of the Second World War. Concerning Ukraine, the CIA organised an « anti-Imperial Congress » (meaning anti-Russian), on the 8th May 2007, in Ternopol (western Ukraine), in which the Ukrainian Nazis and the Islamists from the Caucasus were already participants. The coordination which was created on that day lifted Dmytro Yarosh (head of Pravy Sektor) to the Presidency, and received the blessing of Dokou Oumarov (the fifth President of the Islamic Emirate of Ichkeria, then Emir of the Caucasus).

    • Touchy Issue: Talking with ‘Terrorists’

      Official Washington often exacerbates foreign conflicts by shoving them into misshapen narratives or treating them as good-guy-vs.-bad-guy morality plays, rather than political disputes that require mediation. The problem is particularly tricky with “terrorist” groups, writes ex-CIA official Graham E. Fuller.

    • America’s drone program is a travesty — and a mystery even to its executors

      The myth of the lone drone warrior is now well established and threatens to become as enduring as that of the lone lawman with a white horse and a silver bullet who rode out into the Wild West to find the bad guys. In a similar fashion, the unsung hero of Washington’s modern War on Terror in the wild backlands of the planet is sometimes portrayed as a mysterious Central Intelligence Agency officer. Via modern technology, he prowls Central Asian or Middle Eastern skies with his unmanned Predator drone, dispatching carefully placed Hellfire missiles to kill top al-Qaeda terrorists in their remote hideouts.

    • History of the Relationship Between Iran and the West

      In 1953 Iran’s democratically elected premier, Mohammad Mossadeq, sought to nationalise the country’s hugely lucrative oil industry. From his appointment in 1951 he quickly turned on British oil concerns in the country, calling for their expropriation.

      Both British and US intelligence services watched the developing situation with concern. In the middle of the Cold War period, there were genuine fears that Mossadeq could lead Iran into the sphere of the Soviet Union. Just as importantly, both countries relied on Iranian oil fields for a cheap supply of the increasingly precious commodity.

      The CIA and British intelligence services began to form alliances with pro-Western and pro-Shah elements in Iran in the hope of usurping Mossadeq. A first attempt at a coup d’etat was thwarted in 1952 when Iranian citizens took to the streets to protest the overthrow of their democratically elected Premier. The intelligence services continued to build their influence in Iran through dubious means, and in 1953 the country’s military, with financial and political support from the CIA, overthrew Mossadeq.

      It wasn’t until 1953 that the CIA publicly admitted to the role it had played in the coup d’etat. The British Foreign Office, at least officially, continues to deny any involvement.

    • Dark Hours

      Sifton’s project at the outset is to see violence objectively, as a human phenomenon. One aspect is its sheer difficulty: killing other people is no easy business, and it’s hardest at close range, when you can look into the other’s face. Even if a killer is untroubled by conscience, the deed itself may put him in a state of physical exhaustion, as if it required a tremendous effort to overcome an instinctive aversion. “People are not wired for unfettered violence,” Sifton writes. For theoretical support he turns to “On Aggression,” by the Austrian ethologist Konrad Lorenz, who proposed that intraspecies violence, while innate in human beings and animals, is held in check by the impulse to submit or retreat.

    • Poetry and Politics in Iran

      In 1965, after a trip through China and Japan, the Iranian modernist Sohrab Sepehri found his voice. It could be heard in a new poem he had written, called “The Sound of Water’s Footsteps.” Sepehri puzzles over his identity as a writer, as a Muslim, as a widely travelled painter, and as a man from Kashan, where, in the seventh century, according to legend, Arab invaders intent on spreading Islam subdued the poet’s home town by throwing scorpions over the walls. Sepehri muses on the space race and “the idea of smelling a flower on another planet,” and he writes in free verse, inspired by Nima Yushij, a kind of Ezra Pound figure in the history of modern Persian poetry, who was inspired by the poetic notions of French Symbolists. Reflecting on a country with centuries of bumpy foreign contact, he draws out figures of confusion and displacement:

    • Army’s Anthropology Experiment Ends in Defeat

      It was probably doomed from the start: the battlefield marriage of a left-wing academic discipline and the hidebound U.S. Army. The military has now confirmed that the Human Terrain System program, which sent anthropologists into the Afghan combat zone, has been terminated. Yet with no shortage of asymmetric conflicts and foreign insurgencies in America’s future, it’s worth examining why the Pentagon’s foray into the social sciences failed in order to see how it can do better.

    • Hammarskjold crash needs more scrutiny: UN report

      Who killed UN Secretary General Dag Hammarskjold is a mystery as murky as any penned by a Swedish thriller writer.


      But documents that may be vital to solving the mystery are still being withheld by countries like the U.S. and Britain, who had deep interests in Congo during its turbulent transition to independence. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon says he will ask them to share any “relevant information.”

    • Another Chance at Fair Play for Cuba

      Stake out a corner in Miami’s Little Havana, and you can observe Luis Posada Carriles walking around freely, despite his blowing up a Cuban airliner in mid-air in 1976 and killing 73 people, according to declassified CIA and FBI documents. And Posada is only one of dozens of old men living in South Florida who freely admit planting bombs and machine-gunning beaches in Cuba to discourage foreign tourists, plus bombings carried out on U.S. soil and never punished.

    • Pro-Israel groups in U.S. waste no time attacking Iran deal

      The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) said in a statement it was “deeply concerned” that the deal “would fail to block Iran’s path to a nuclear weapon and further entrench and empower the leading state sponsor of terror.”

    • Despite deal, better U.S. relations with Iran not a sure thing

      Seated on a dais above thousands of cheering loyalists and the country’s elite, Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei restated a key tenet of his late predecessor and the leader of the 1979 Islamic Revolution: relentless, uncompromising opposition to “America and its political and intelligence system.”

    • Killing by Committee in the Global Wild West

      The myth of the lone drone warrior is now well established and threatens to become as enduring as that of the lone lawman with a white horse and a silver bullet who rode out into the Wild West to find the bad guys. In a similar fashion, the unsung hero of Washington’s modern War on Terror in the wild backlands of the planet is sometimes portrayed as a mysterious Central Intelligence Agency officer. Via modern technology, he prowls Central Asian or Middle Eastern skies with his unmanned Predator drone, dispatching carefully placed Hellfire missiles to kill top al-Qaeda terrorists in their remote hideouts.

    • No Lone Rangers in Drone Warfare
    • Only “Lone Wolves” Commit Terror?

      History has shown us, however, that acts of violence, with or without declared sponsorship, are not the exclusive province of crazy loners or renegade regimes. In fact, we know from experience that, as horrendous as it sounds, those in power have sometimes terrorized their own populace while blaming the violence on others. The reasons for this vary widely, but include justifying retributive acts abroad or domestic repression.

    • It’s been 20 years since Europe’s worst atrocity since World War II

      On July 11, 1995, over three years into the civil war in Bosnia, Bosnian Serb militants overran a UN-established safe zone in the eastern town of Srebrenica, separated about 8,000 Muslim men and boys from the women who had sought shelter in the area, led them into fields and warehouses in surrounding villages, and massacred them over the course of three days. It was the worst single atrocity in Europe since the end of World War II and is generally considered to be an act of genocide.

    • Hillary Clinton’s Neocon Legacy: Coups, Dictators, Corruption, Chaos, Executions and Assassination

      Hillary Clinton has on her liberal mask. She is all smiles and is trying hard to “out Bernie” Bernie Sanders. She is hitting all the populist talking points about helping others: Immigration, campaign finance reform, voting rights, gay marriage, economic equality, and middle class families. But she has accumulated a lot of baggage over her political career of 40 years. Hillary and the main stream media have forgotten early scandals such as Whitewater, cattle futures trading, and trying to take the White House dishes when she and Bill moved out in 2001.

    • Washington Post runs article by Ahrar al-Sham

      In its quest to not support radical groups, American policy has so narrowly defined the term “moderate” that it excludes most opposition groups in the country, including Ahrar al-Sham, Nahhas said.

    • Syria is caught between bombs and butchery

      Consider two heart-wrenching scenes that recently emerged from Syria. The first one is of children lining up behind 25 soldiers in the historic city of Palmyra, pointing pistols at the soldiers’ heads. The second is of a child killed in his Aleppo home by a barrel bomb that failed to explode.

    • Downhill All the Way?

      “The U.S. is going the way of Rome!” has become practically a catchphrase among so-called “declinists” of all stripes. The parallels are so legionary (so to speak) and the general feeling of malaise so prevalent, you’d think our version of 476 AD — the year the last Roman emperor abdicated — is just around the corner. Another decade, and we’re done for.

    • France Decorates a Moroccan Facing Justice on Bastille Day: A Portrait of Abdellatif Hammouchi

      Morocco quickly became one of the United States’ “partners” in their “war against terrorism.”

    • B-52s’ BAAD message to China

      Two B-52 bombers conducted a nonstop, long-range simulated mission to Australia recently that is part of the Pentagon’s effort to bolster allies in Asia against a growing Chinese threat.

    • JFK and the unspeakable

      There have been many books written about the assassination of President Kennedy, so many, generating so much bewildering debate, in fact, that many people have given up trying to understand the event and its significance. But despite all that, I want to recommend without reservation this book by a Catholic theologian and peace activist, which is unique in many respects and provides an education that all supporters of peace and progress need as we struggle to overcome the danger of right-wing extremism.

    • Remembering Gary Mack, JFK Assassination Conspiracy Theorist Turned Historian

      Aynesworth was a newspaper man who dismissed conspiracy theories about the Kennedy assassination. Mack worked in radio and TV and felt differently. One day, sometime in the 1980s, Aynesworth and Mack had lunch, and everything changed.

      “We suddenly became friends. And we kicked around a lot of different things and investigated a lot of things together and he became quite a historian,” says Aynesworth. “He did so much for the Sixth Floor Museum.”

      Mack joined the staff there in 1994 and became curator six years later. Wednesday, his colleagues were reeling.

    • New Documents May Be Damaging In Arpaio Contempt Case

      Montgomery has a history working with federal agencies as an outside contractor and now calls himself a CIA and National Security Agency whistleblower. He also has been the subject of high-profile media accounts alleging that he conned the federal government into buying bogus counter-terrorism technology he had created. Montgomery denies those allegations.

    • Can President Obama Sell Iran Nuclear Deal to Congress and the Public?

      We go to Vienna for an update on what could be the final stages of a historic deal between Iran and six world powers that would limit Tehran’s nuclear ability for more than a decade in exchange for sanctions relief. Negotiators are still smoothing over key details, including what limits to set on Iran’s nuclear research, the pace of sanctions relief and whether to lift a United Nations arms embargo on Iran. If a deal is brokered, Congress will have 60 days to review it, keeping US sanctions in place in the meantime. An extra 22 days are set aside for voting, a possible presidential veto and then another vote to see if opponents can muster 67 Senate votes to override the veto. We speak to Flynt Leverett, who is following the talks. He is author of “Going to Tehran: Why America Must Accept the Islamic Republic of Iran” and is a professor of International Affairs at Penn State. He served for over a decade in the US government as a senior analyst at the CIA, Middle East specialist for the State Department, and as senior director for Middle East affairs at the National Security Council.

    • Christian teachers impact a new generation in Guatemala

      From the mid- to late 19th century, Guatemala endured the chronic instability and civil strife that was endemic to the region. Beginning in the early 20th century, it was ruled by a series of dictators backed by the United Fruit Co. and the U.S. government. From 1960-96, Guatemala underwent a bloody civil war fought between the U.S.-backed government and leftist rebels, resulting in massacres of the indiginous Mayan population. Since then, the country has witnessed both economic growth and successful democratic elections, though it continues to struggle with high rates of crime, the drug trade and political instability.

    • Washington Accelerates Terror Attacks

      Are Washington’s relentless bombings and military immersions in sectarian battles within Arab and neighboring regions accelerating the spread of terrorist attacks? Yes. The recent rash of terror attacks in Kuwait, Tunisia, Somalia, France, and other countries are tragic examples of the strategic failures of our government and its very heavy reliance on military interventions, including the omnipresent drones that terrorize civilians.

      From the first bombings of al-Qaeda’s small band of fighters in the mountains of Afghanistan to the toppling of the Taliban government there by President George Bush in 2001, all Washington’s weaponry, soldiers, and trillions of dollars have accomplished is to spread al-Qaeda’s numerous offshoots into over a dozen countries.

      The CIA calls this “blowback.” For fourteen years this “blowback” has destabilized countries, initiated civil wars costing millions of mostly civilian lives and leaving others sickened and injured, and caused many families to be driven out of their homes as masses of weeping refugees.

    • Army killed civilians to boost body count

      The US-backed Colombian government has presided over what now appears to be one of the worst cases ever of mass atrocities perpetrated against innocent civilian populations. According to new reports as many as 6,000 civilians may have been killed under the orders of generals and colonels seeking to boost their reputations as rebel-killers.

    • PETITION: NYT, Washington Post: Provide Sustained Coverage of US-Backed Civilian Deaths in Yemen

      The New York Times and Washington Post should expand their coverage of civilian deaths in Yemen caused by a US-backed military campaign.

    • The Law and the Robot

      In a paper titled “Robotics and Lessons of Cyberlaw,” Calo explores how the development of cyberlaw starting in the 1990s could provide a foundation regarding how the law deals with the transformative technology of robotics.

      It’s time to start building an expertise among lawmakers in the relevant technology, Calo said.

      “This particular article represents my most current thinking,” and “I’ve been thinking about the concepts for a few years now,” he added.

    • Drones – terror from the skies

      There was commotion in Tokyo this April when a drone with traces of radioactive material, a bottle with unspecified contents and mounted with a camera was discovered on the roof of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s office. The 50cm diameter drone had a symbol that warned of radioactive material. Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary, Yoshihide Suga, said the incident was a wakeup call to the potential dangers of drones including possible terror attacks. Earlier in January 2015, a drone had crashed on the White House grounds, raising questions about safe use commercial and consumer drones in the US. Significantly, Japanese aviation laws have had no restrictions for unmanned drones flying at or below 250 metres above ground except along flight routes. But now with a drone landing on the roof of the Prime Minister’s office, a comprehensive review is underway. The magnitude of terror that drones can unleash may can be gauged from the fact that the Aum Shirikyo cult that executed multiple Sarin Gas bombings on Tokyo subway in 1995 was later found to have possessed two remote controlled helicopters and enough Sarin Gas to kill one million people. It was just providence that during practice, both helicopter drones crashed and the cult went had to execute the bombings nn foot. But why to talk of a cult or group of people, a recent study in the US brings home the chilling conclusion that one single disciple of ‘Lone Wolf Terrorism’ is capable of killing millions.

    • Is Terrorism Like a Cult?

      It seems apparent to me that the counterterrorism strategy employed by the U.S. is a strategy of decapitation. Kill the leaders and the phenomenon of terrorism will cease to exist. The government views terrorist leaders similar to leaders of a cult (as defined by Weber). The leaders have omnipotent control over members and followers, and inspire them to act in ways that, without such leadership, they would not undertake. Therefore, if one kills the charismatic leader, the members and followers will cease to undertake terrorist operations, lacking inspiration from the charismatic figure, similar to a cult.

      The current drone strategy as well as the continued emphasis on special ops teams, such as the one that killed Osama Bin Laden, reflect the fact the U.S. counter-terrorism strategy as one of decapitation. However, terrorism continues to proliferate even in the wake of Bin Laden and countless other high profile terrorists’ deaths. Al-Qaeda branches flourish in the Maghreb and Yemen; ISIS continues to besiege towns in Syria and Iraq; and Boko Haram stalks northern Nigeria looking for prey. The world is more threatened by terrorism now than in 2011 when Osama Bin Laden was killed. The U.S. counter-terrorism strategy of decapitation has unsurprisingly failed; unfortunately it was never much of a strategy.

    • Drone shot down by Pak Army does not belong to India: Foreign Secy S Jaishankar

      The shelling occurred in the disputed Himalayan region of Kashmir and the border villages near the eastern Pakistani city of Sialkot, a Pakistani army statement said.

    • Pakistan Complains to UN Body Alleging Ceasefire Violations by India

      Pakistan has lodged a complaint against India with the UN military observer group for “ceasefire violations” along the Line of Control (LoC) in Jammu and Kashmir.

      “United Nations Military Observers Group in India and Pakistan (UNMOGIP) was asked to use its good offices to investigate Indian ceasefire violations,” the Pakistan army said, claiming the Indians were using heavy mortars and machine guns on civil population living along the Working Boundary and the LoC, resulting in casualties.

    • Pakistan summons Indian envoy after ‘spy drone’ shot down
    • Kashmir firing: Five civilians killed after drone downed

      At least five civilians were killed as India and Pakistan exchanged fire in the disputed Kashmir region, days after a meeting between leaders of the two countries in Russia.

    • Air Force Struggles to Recruit Pilots for Job of Killing Strangers With Computer

      Being a drone pilot (if you’re flying a drone used to deploy weapons) is about the most unhappy profession imaginable. You carry the weight of knowing you are responsible for killing people, but you’re doing it from a darkened room halfway around the world while looking at a screen, relying on others’ judgments that what you’re doing is morally acceptable or strategically useful, deprived of even the sensory experience, physical challenge, and danger that a pilot of a manned craft might be distracted by.

    • Drone operators need time to unwind after missions, McCaskill says

      While sitting at a computer terminal on U.S. soil, troops operating combat drones do not have to imagine killing Islamic State targets thousands of miles away in the afternoon and that evening sitting down to dinner with their families, they do so.

    • State of the Nation needs improvement

      The costs of America’s wars have been enormous, in dead and injured American soldiers and wasted resources. The results, including the ignominious defeat in Vietnam, have left the U.S. and the world in worse shape. Wounded veterans from each of these extended wars have returned home, with many ending up homeless or suicidal.

    • The Virtue of Defiance

      Lately, child defiance has even been pathologized. “Official” psychiatry’s diagnostic manual now lists a “condition” called “Oppositional Defiant Disorder,” or “ODD.” ODD is defined as an “ongoing pattern of disobedient, hostile and defiant behavior,” and its symptoms include questioning authority, negativity, defiance, and argumentativeness.


      Children who resist this regimentation, or defy the orders given them by teachers, principles, and other school authority figures, are punished with detention or extra work. They may even be given solitary confinement, or arrested and sent to juvenile hall. Students who are independently boisterous and vocal are also punished and frowned upon as “disruptive.” Rewards are meted out to “star students” who exceed their fellows in deference, obsequiousness, and the vigor with which they undertake their given assignments.

    • Cameron says Britain needs more drones to combat IS threat
    • David Cameron Wants To Increase Spending On RAF Drones
    • Cameron Demands Increased Defence Spending On Special Forces And Drones To Combat Islamic Extremism
    • Analysis: Spy Planes, Drones And The Special Forces
    • Britain’s drones: The RAF’s unmanned aerial war-machines explained
    • Cameron says Britain needs more drones to combat Islamic State threat
    • Missiles ‘fall off’ RAF fighter jet as it lands at Akrotiri base in Cyprus

      An air force official has confirmed that two missiles fell off an RAF Tornado fighter jet as it landed at a base in Cyprus.

      Two Brimstone missiles, which cost around £105,000 each and are designed to destroy ground targets, fell from the aircraft as the jet went in to land at RAF Akrtoiti in Cyprus.

      Fortunately, the missiles did not explode, and no-one was injured in the incident.

      RAF Akrotiri is one of two British military bases on Cyprus, both of which are currently of major strategic importance due to their proximity to Isis-controlled areas in Syria and Iraq – the Syrian coast is only around 80 miles from Cyprus.

    • Time to end secrecy surrounding SAS and drones

      David Cameron said on Monday he had tasked Britain’s defence chiefs to see how they could do more to counter terrorism.

      That, he added, “could include more spy planes, drones and special forces. In the last five years, I have seen just how vital these assets are in keeping us safe.”

      He may have seen, we have not.

      Operations involving Britain’s special forces are shrouded in official secrecy. The rules of engagement covering the RAF’s use of drones are far from clear, something former senior intelligence officials themselves say they are worried about.

      Greater roles for the SAS and drones reflect closer links between the armed forces and intelligence agencies – something that will allow ministers to widen the scope of what can be included in the “defence budget” (see below).

    • Ex-Afghan president Karzai and aides question U.S.-backed government and its allies

      A sampling of statements from Hamid Karzai and his aides critical of the U.S.-brokered coalition government and its allies.

      1. May: A statement from Karzai’s office on the memorandum of understanding between Afghan and Pakistani spy agencies.

      “Former president Hamid Karzai expresses his deep concerns over MOU between [the two agencies]. He asks the leaders of government to immediately cancel the MOU and to avoid the signature of any document that is against national interests in the future.”

    • More on Licensed to Kill

      In the old days, an enemy combatant was someone wearing a uniform on a field of battle.

    • Rockridge: Code Pink activists speak on militarization, drones

      Levine spoke mostly about militarization, which she considers to be state terrorism. She said state terrorism challenges citizens’ constitutional rights, puts an overwhelming number of people in jail for minor offenses, promotes surveillance of individuals and groups and arms local police forces with military-style weapons.

    • Why you’ll always lose wars with drones alone

      But the official statistics are meaningless. Because U.S. pilots are flying blind. To a great extent, they don’t know what — if anything — they’re hitting.

    • Retired US general: Drones cause more damage than good

      US President Barack Obama’s former top military intelligence official has launched a scathing attack on the White House’s counter-terrorism strategy, including the administration’s handling of the ISIL threat in Iraq and Syria and the US military’s drone war.

      In a forthcoming interview with Al Jazeera English’s Head to Head, retired US Lt. General Michael Flynn, who quit as head of the Pentagon’s Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) in August 2014, said “there should be a different approach, absolutely” on drones.

    • Obama’s Drone Program Creating More Terrorists Than Killing, Suggests Retired DIA Director

      “When you drop a bomb from a drone … you are going to cause more damage than you are going to cause good,” Flynn told Al Jazeera’s Mehdi Hasan. When Hasan pressed Flynn on whether drone strikes are creating more terrorists than they kill, Flynn said, “I don’t disagree with that” and described President Obama’s approach to using drones “an overarching … failed strategy.”

    • Top U.S. General: Drones are “Failed Strategy” That “Cause More Damage”

      President Obama’s former top military intelligence official has described the administration’s reliance on drones as a “failed strategy” that creates more terrorists. In an interview with Al Jazeera, retired U.S. Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn said, “When you drop a bomb from a drone … you are going to cause more damage than you are going to cause good.” Flynn served as head of the Pentagon’s Defense Intelligence Agency up until last August. Meanwhile, the U.S. reportedly carried out another drone strike in Somalia Thursday targeting militants with al-Shabab.

    • Drones do ‘more damage than good’ in war against terror, says Obama’s ex-spy chief

      US President Barack Obama’s former spy chief has admitted that drones are causing “more damage than good” and that US prisons in Iraq “absolutely” helped in radicalising young Iraqis who later joined al-Qaeda and the Islamic State.

    • Somalia:”Drones cause more damage than good”
    • White House silent on possible anti-ISIS drone base in Africa

      The White House confirmed reports Monday that the Obama administration is working closely with countries in Northern Africa to try to combat threats from the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria and other extremist activity in Libya, but declined to say specifically whether the U.S. is trying to establish a drone base to improve surveillance capabilities.

    • Video: Teenager Builds a Drone that Can Kill

      The video shows what appears to be a homemade drone with a gun attached to it. The trigger is attached to a remote activating mechanism which allows the drone pilot to fire a gun from his remote location. The video also shows that drone can compensate for recoil just fine, and quickly reset on position to fire again at the same target.

    • A drone firing a gun: so this is what all the regulation is about
    • Fact Check: Grijalva correct on drone strikes

      There are eight documented cases of American citizens killed in drone strikes since 2002.

    • The Chattanooga Killings Aren’t Terrorism

      But not every act of political violence is terrorism. Terrorism has a specific legal meaning. Some definitions, such as the one in Title 18, Section 2331 of the U.S. Code (dangerous crimes intended “to influence the policy of a government”), are so absurdly broad that they could cover almost any politically motivated crime. The tightest and best definition is the one in Title 22, Section 2656 of the U.S. Code: “premeditated, politically motivated violence perpetrated against noncombatant targets.” That’s the definition our government applies when documenting terrorism overseas.

    • Tunisia’s Terrorism Problem Goes Beyond Islamic State

      IS has become a convenient catch-all explanation, just as al-Qaida was in the first decade of the 2000s.

    • Death From Above

      Emily Schneider reviews two new books about the U.S. drone program, Sudden Justice and Kill Chain, that, read together, inform our understanding of U.S. drone policy in new ways.

    • Robot soldiers

      Are we entering an era of robotic war? The rise of the machines raises both technical and moral challenges

    • Malala Yousafzai Is Not a Scapegoat

      Yousafzai has made it clear that she misses her homeland and she even told Obama that sending drones into Pakistan is not a good idea because it can perpetuate terrorism. Otherwise, her rhetoric focuses on the power and importance of education.

    • Theater review: B Street’s ‘Grounded’ a sensitive look at war

      The Pilot grins, struts and swaggers in those ways we’ve come to expect flyboys to behave. Only the flyboy in “Grounded” is a woman with the confident, knowing temperament of an Air Force fighter pilot. Alicia Hunt’s Pilot speaks in curt declarative sentences that nearly become annoying in their cocky cadence. Is there anything that can knock down that bravado just a bit? There will be. In George Brant’s lean one-woman play, what comes at The Pilot are unpredictable and mostly fascinating events that change her forever.

    • Terminating Our Terminators?

      These repetitive headlines should signal the kind of victory that Washington would celebrate for years to come. A muscular American technology is knocking off the enemy in significant numbers without a single casualty to us. Think of it as a real-life version of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s heroic machine in certain of the Terminator movies. If the programs that have launched hundreds of drone strikes in the backlands of the planet over these years remain “covert,” they have nonetheless been a point of pride for a White House that regularly uses a “kill list” to send robot assassins into the field. From Washington’s point of view, its drone wars remain, as a former CIA director once bragged, “the only game in town” when it comes to al-Qaeda (and its affiliates, wannabes, and competitors).

    • Update on ‘Operation Ghetto Storm,’ Part 2

      This is the second of a three-part series investigating the forces behind the unending war waged primarily by police against Black people.

  • Transparency Reporting

    • Images of Google Earth can be used as Evidence in a Court Trial

      The court of federal appeal confirmed that the images supported by Google Earth or any other satellite imagery will be considered as an evidence in the trials of any court prosecution.

    • Pat Flanagan: “It’s bad when Mick Wallace is only one to keep us right.”

      Deputy Wallace blew the lid on a deal which saw nearly €10million diverted to an Isle of Man account which he claims was “earmarked for a Northern Ireland politician”.

    • Freedom of Information review panel open-minded, says Jack Straw

      A review of the Freedom of Information Act will be “open-minded”, former Home Secretary Jack Straw has said.

      Mr Straw introduced the act in 2000 but his place on a panel examining its work has been criticised by campaigners.

      The ex-Labour MP has said inquiries about ministerial communications and the formulation of government policy should not be allowed any more.

      But he told the BBC the review would weigh the evidence carefully including that from groups opposed to the act.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife

    • Hydraulic Fracturing Linked to Increases in Hospitalization Rates in the Marcellus Shale Region, According to Penn Study

      Hospitalizations for heart conditions, neurological illness, and other conditions were higher among people who live near unconventional gas and oil drilling (hydraulic fracturing), according to new research from the University of Pennsylvania and Columbia University published this week in PLOS ONE. Over the past ten years in the United States, hydraulic fracturing has experienced a meteoric increase. Due to substantial increases in well drilling, potential for air and water pollution posing a health threat has been a concern for nearby residents.

  • Finance

    • The end of capitalism has begun

      The red flags and marching songs of Syriza during the Greek crisis, plus the expectation that the banks would be nationalised, revived briefly a 20th-century dream: the forced destruction of the market from above. For much of the 20th century this was how the left conceived the first stage of an economy beyond capitalism. The force would be applied by the working class, either at the ballot box or on the barricades. The lever would be the state. The opportunity would come through frequent episodes of economic collapse.

    • Other countries’ Donald Trumps

      Trump is a product of American society, but he’s not unique. His mixture of murky wealth, extreme arrogance and vulgar chauvinism can be found all over the world, albeit with local spins. Here are just a handful of the world’s other Donald Trumps:

    • For Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump is a godsend

      Donald Trump drew 9,000 people to a rally in Phoenix on Saturday. He is placing first or second among Republican primary candidates in some polls, including those in early voting states such as Iowa and New Hampshire.

    • Wandering Eye: Batts and the policing elite, economic disparity in the US, and more

      A former Gannett reporter, Brendan O’Shaughnessy, has linked the downturn in the news industry into something workers in all industries are feeling: the disparity between the very rich and everyone else. In an article for Notre Dame Magazine, O’Shaughnessy details how Gannett employees agreed to a 10 percent pay cut, only to see that money given to executives in the form of bonuses.

    • ‘We can only achieve a political union if we have a crisis’ [Ed: not in English]
  • PR/AstroTurf/Lobbying

    • Scott Walker’s delusion our downfall?

      When I heard the news about the nuclear deal with Iran, I decided to seek out the sage wisdom of Scott Walker. Because surely, with his vast national security experience — fighting unionized workers, lobbying for a Milwaukee Bucks arena, running a state that ranks 38th in the nation in job creation — he would know what’s best for America on the world stage.

    • How the hallucinations of an eccentric KGB psychic influence Russia today

      A number of pithy foreign quotes circulate in the Russian political language as common currency. But turn to the original language and no one can find them. There is the Dulles Doctrine (a supposed plan by the CIA to destroy the Soviet Union) and Churchill’s apparent claim that “Stalin came to power when Russia had only a wooden plow, and left it in possession of atomic weapons”. There’s Margaret Thatcher allegedly saying that the Russian population could happily be cut in three, and there is Albright’s quote about Siberia and the Far East not lawfully belonging to Russia.

    • Kissing the Asses Good-bye

      So what’s a poor boy to do? After kissing the asses of the two authorized political parties good-bye, what do I do with all this energy? Americans are, for the most part, living in a bubble of illusion. They’ve been poisoned by their owners. Not enough to kill most of them outright, but poisoned in mind and body. Brains filled with corporate media doubletalk and nonsense. Bellies filled with corporate fast foods until most of them look like cartoon caricatures of themselves. Veins filled with Monsanto’s glyphosate, poisonous ink from head to toe tattoos, and untold dozens of other carcinogenic chemicals. Souls filled with false hopes of a heavenly home in the sky at the end of the bumpy road of their meaningless lives.

    • Why Rapper Killer Mike’s Endorsement of Bernie Sanders Spells Trouble for Hillary Clinton

      Polls are ever-changing, but Americans will never long for a king or queen. When Run the Jewels rapper Killer Mike tweeted “I cannot support another Clinton or bush ever,” he echoed the sentiments of Americans throughout the country tired of entrenched political factions in Washington. As for why political dynasties are ruinous to any democracy, the Atlanta rapper says, “I am beginning to see American political families like monarchs and I have no affection for monarchs.” This sentiment, in addition to the reasons Killer Mike has endorsed Bernie Sanders for president, can’t be accurately assessed by opinion polls or political wonks.

    • The line between the state and the public broadcaster

      The world has not been short of really big, consequential stories the past few weeks, from the volatility of China’s markets to the drama of Greece in the eurozone and the endgame of negotiations to ring-fence Iran’s nuclear program from weapons. Meanwhile in Australia, a royal commission into union shenanigans has come close to ensnaring Bill Shorten, leader of the opposition Labor Party. With impeccable timing and questionable judgment, Prime Minister Tony Abbott distracts attention from these stories and keeps alive the controversy over government meddling in the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC).

  • Privacy

    • Baloney Meter: With new powers, is CSIS simply catching up to allies?

      In introducing its sweeping security bill earlier this year, the government said the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, Canada’s spy agency, did not have a legal mandate to take action concerning threats. Rather, CSIS was limited to collecting and analyzing information as well as advising the government.

      The government characterized the bill’s proposed new powers — which have since received royal assent — as a means of bringing the spy service’s capabilities in line with those of allied counterparts.

      How accurate were the government’s claims?

      Spoiler Alert: The Canadian Press Baloney Meter is a dispassionate examination of political statements culminating in a ranking of accuracy on a scale of “no baloney” to “full of baloney” (complete methodology below).

      This one earns a rating of “a lot of baloney.”

    • ProxyHam anti-surveillance router terminated under mysterious circumstances, likely under gag order

      Privacy advocates have something new to complain about. ProxyHam, a router that can hide your location, has been terminated under mysterious circumstances. ProxyHam is equipped with a 900 MHz radio, allowing it to connect to Wi-Fi as far as two miles away and then broadcast the signal to your device.

      Rhino Security Labs’ Benjamin Caudill, the proprietor of the anonymizing router, was set to present and sell ProxyHam at this year’s DefCon hacking conference in Las Vegas, but his presentation was abruptly cancelled without explanation. Additionally, Rhino Security Labs Tweeted they’ll be destroying all their ProxyHam routers and won’t release any more of its source code or details.

    • Proxyham Wi-Fi relay SUPPRESSED. CONSPIRACY, yowl tinfoilers

      The device acted as a point-to-point bridge using 900 MHz signals to distance a user from the access point they’re logged into. This would prevent cops or feds from noting the location of a hotspot used by a person of interest – say in a Starbucks – and arresting them at that location.

    • Police Scotland silence on whether it spied on journalists

      POLICE Scotland is refusing to deny that it is one of the forces which has breached a new law designed to clampdown on officers spying on journalists.

      A watchdog criticised two unnamed forces last week for failing to get judicial approval before obtaining “communications data” such as phone records to flush out journalists’ sources.

      Asked if Police Scotland was behind one of the breaches, a spokesman repeatedly declined to answer the question.

    • FBI Tracked Chattanooga Shooter’s Family for Years

      Once again, another convenient shooting has helped supercharge anger, hatred, fear, and division across the Western World after an alleged “Islamist extremist” opened fire on and killed 4 US Marines at a recruiting station in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

      Without any knowledge of how the US has in fact created Al Qaeda and its many global affiliates, including vicious terrorist groups plaguing Southeast Asia, and the most notorious to date, the so-called “Islamic State” (ISIS), the American public will predictably react in a manner that will simply further justify America’s meddling across the globe amid its self-created and perpetuated “War on Terror.” It will also help in efforts to further tighten control over the American public itself, with increased justifications for expanding police state measures and future pushes to disarm the American people.

    • US and Chinese presidents both have problems with ‘bedbugs’

      CHINA claims to have found almost 30 surveillance bugs, including one in the headboard of the presidential bed, on a Boeing 767 that had just been delivered from America to serve as President Jiang Zemin’s official aircraft.

    • Fair reporting; New Superfood; Beware of Facebook

      Facebook users beware! Not only does this media giant know almost everything about you, the company now has an algorithm that can identify you from a photo even if your face is covered. Thanks to a new software breakthrough, a computer can identify you by hair style, body shape or pose. Facebook developed this algorithm in its artificial intelligence lab. Although presently banned in Europe for privacy reasons, the technology can be used in the U.S. For more info on this development, visit www.newscientist.com/article/dn27761-facebook-can-recognise-you-in-photos-even-if-youre-not-looking/. Hello George Orwell. Good bye privacy. Yikes! This is scary.

    • The changing face of espionage since Cold War

      In his book, a British journalist argues that modern surveillance is no substitute for old-fashioned spying

    • Apple Using Your Bank For Targeted Ads

      Apple has patented new technology which checks your bank account to target ads. No, you didn’t misread that. Maybe Fox’s popular animated sitcom Futurama were onto something when they showcased the great lengths some companies are willing to go to try to sell you something. A new pair of red space briefs probably aren’t in your immediate future, but something else more affordable may be.

  • Civil Rights

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Copyrights

      • Green J quashes UK private copying regulations

        Green J accepted the claimants’ application, however he did not expressly rule on the actual compatibility of UK exception for personal copies for private use with EU law, and actually envisaged the possibility of a reference for a preliminary ruling to the Court of Justice of the European Union (‘CJEU’).

      • UK considers punishing online pirates with 10-year jail sentences

        As police forces up and down the country turn the screw on sellers of illegal streaming boxes, the government is now considering whether pirates in general should receive tougher sentences. Currently, infringers face up to two years in prison, but an amendment to the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act could increase that punishment to 10 years. Government ministers have launched a consultation and are calling for feedback on tougher penalties. They argue that the “vast majority” of copyright offenders, focusing more on those who control the distribution of illegal content in the first place, have links to “further criminality” and tougher punishments could “have a deterrent effect” on criminals seeking to make money from file-sharing.

      • UK Wants 10 Year Prison Sentence For Online Pirates

        The UK Government has announced a new proposal to increase the maximum jail term for online piracy from two to ten years. According to the authorities longer prison sentences are needed to deter large-scale and commercial copyright infringement on the Internet.

Software Patents Are Still Being Demolished by US Courts, Google Makes Prior Art Searches Simpler

Posted in Free/Libre Software, Google, Microsoft, Oracle, Patents at 4:50 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

“Software patents are a huge potential threat to the ability of people to work together on open source.”

Linus Torvalds

Summary: The real patent battle is fought not in Congress (with corporate lobbyists) but in the courtroom, with a growing number of outcomes which are favourable to Free/libre software

SOFTWARE PATENTS are severely damaged in the US, especially following the Alice case (ruled by SCOTUS one year ago). The latest cases, which we covered this month, serve to show that software patents are dropping like flies in the courtrooms, even when landing on courts that are historically very friendly towards software patents.

“District courts used Great Atlantic to invalidate patents en masse, much like is done today after Alice,” Patent Buddy wrote the other day. Nevertheless, the corporate media focuses on other matters.

“It looks as though software patents are rapidly dying.”Joe Mullin has revealed that yet more software patents have just died and not a patent troll was behind them. “Rovi,” he explains, “provides digital entertainment guides to cable companies and others and has long used its patents to enforce its dominant position in the market. That strategy has come in for criticism, with Rovi’s patents being viewed as covering the basic idea of an electronic TV Guide. That was especially true when Rovi used its patents to go after Internet companies that wanted to make their own guides and not take Rovi content, like Hulu and Amazon.”

Well, these patents are now dead and Wall Street-centric media says that the company is downgraded. “Multichannel video programming distributors may face the same struggles in court,” says the author, “but those patents are less abstract than software patents, according to analysts.”

Mullin wrote also about Newegg (yet again), showing that it won a patent case that had been brought against it by TQP. “Two weeks after online retailer Newegg filed a petition complaining about “excessive and unreasonable” delays in getting a final judgment in its patent case,” explains Mullin, “the judge in that case has handed Newegg a big win.”

It looks as though software patents are rapidly dying. Every death of a software patents can become precedent for future cases involving software patents and the higher the court, the higher the impact. One lawyers’ site tries to frame this as a “troll” issue, talking about “the projected cost [7 billion dollars] of litigation filed by non-practicing entities, or patent trolls, in 2015.”

What about non-trolls (or very big trolls that the media won’t call “trolls”)? Some media circles are trying to tell us that Microsoft alone makes billions of dollars from extortion against Android alone. The main problem is the patents, not the entity asserting these patents.

Speaking of Google, which is an important example because Microsoft is still attacking it using patents (trying to force Android makers to bundle Microsoft software), there is a new effort to combat patents using prior art. As corporate media put it, “Google is bringing its search powers to bear in hopes of doing what Washington seemingly can’t — roll back a wave of abusive litigation from companies that, according to their critics, simply want to line their pockets with ill-gotten settlement money.” There are many articles about it [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9]. In the form of sourse code, not just publications, it ought to be possible to demonstrate prior art and invalidate a lot of software patents. There is plenty of prior art and duplication in the field of software because a lot of people are able to practice it (requires just a keyboard, no manufacturing).

“It sure looks like this whole cult of “IP” proves problematic not just for Free software but for software in general (monopoly on APIs for instance).”When patent maximalists (IAM) covered it they said Google’s “mission” it to “help raise quality standards”, but that’s nonsense. Google just doesn’t want this patent mess that is looming over Free software like Android. It’s not about “quality” of patents, it’s about patents. Google is still wrestling with Oracle (patents and copyrights) and as this new post put it a couple of days ago: “Out in the real world, the lawsuit between Google and Oracle is preparing to head back to a lower court after the Supreme Court said it would not take the case. At UC Berkeley yesterday, the repercussions of that decision were discussed, along with many other topics around patents and copyright law as they pertain to software, art and more.”

It sure looks like this whole cult of “IP” proves problematic not just for Free software but for software in general (monopoly on APIs for instance). Large proprietary software corporations such as Microsoft and Oracle are abusing so-called ‘IP’ to impede if not altogether destroy their emerging rivals.

Even Watered-Down (by Large Corporations) Patent ‘Reform’ Bills Cannot Pass in Congress

Posted in America, Patents at 4:06 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: US Congress is unable to pass even a bill that makes minor (insufficient) changes to patent law, demonstrating that patent policy is still steered by conglomerate interests, just like in the copyrights domain

FOR a number of months we have been writing about the so-called Innovation Act or PATENT Act [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8]. We last wrote about that four days ago. Not much has changed since then, except more lobbying and derailment. Eventually, people in power almost always get their way, maybe accepting some compromise and a rebrand that can appease (or fool) the vast majority of people. The overwhelming number of cases serve to cement this trend, showing that democracy is still rather elusive in the West.

Kevin O’Sullivan says that “Innovation Act Threatens Massachusetts Innovators” and patent maximalists at IAM say that “The Innovation Act is pulled, but uncertainty lingers and that’s bad for business”. There is a lot of press coverage about this [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8] and it serves to suggest that politicians in the US usually fight against patent reform, especially so-called ‘Conservatives’. As one article put it: “This week, the American Conservative Union blasted out an email warning against the Innovation Act” (because corporations do not like it enough).

“Eventually, people in power almost always get their way, maybe accepting some compromise and a rebrand that can appease (or fool) the vast majority of people.”As Watchdog.org put it the other day: “As the patent battle reheats on Capitol Hill before the August recess, several members of Congress are looking to stop a bill they believe will do more harm than good for the nation’s economy.”

IPWatchdog, a booster of patents (including software patents), claims “bipartisan bicameral disapproval” and the EFF blames this on “misinformation”. See its post titled “Busting Myths and Countering Misinformation From the Campaign Against Patent Reform” and another post titled “Patent Reform Under Attack, But Needed More Than Ever”. Reform is needed in another form, as this bill got subverted already (just like the PATENT Act). The EFF is meanwhile mixing patent trolls with software patents, focusing on one instead of the other even though there is a strong correlation. Here is what the EFF wrote earlier this month as part of its recruitment effort: “You’ll be obsessed with software patents before you know it. The specific position we’re hiring will work closely with the patent reform team, pushing for strong legislation in Washington and showcasing horrible trolls. Patents are a hot topic with huge implications on speech, innovation, education, and businesses big and small. We realize that many people applying to the job won’t have a background in patent reform. So don’t stress about that. If you care about civil liberties online and you’re excited about technology policy, then we can teach you about software patents.”

A bill we can really stand behind would have to deal with patent scope, but no such bill exists yet, so the above bills (“PATENT” or “Innovation”) are of more interest to corporate media (corporations) than to citizens who are directly harmed by patents.

In the next couple of posts we shall try to address the real issues that affect most people (the ‘reforms’ spoken about in the media these days are largely a diversion).

Patents Expansion in Europe May be Looming

Posted in Europe, Patents at 3:33 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: The Unitary Patent (UPC), or “Unitary Software Patents” as the FFII’s President calls it, gets the go-ahead from one of its longtime resistors, Italy

“AS announced by Sandro Gozi,” says this post, “Italy communicated to the European Commissioner Elżbieta Bieńkowska its intention to request participation in the enhanced cooperation for the creation of unitary patent protection.”

“The EPO can radically expand patent scope (both scope of jurisdiction and scope of patents) if “Unitary Software Patents” — as the above calls it — is successfully passed in its current form.”This is troubling, albeit not too shocking (we heard similar things before) and as the FFII’s President put it: “Italy to join Unitary Software Patents #unipat maybe a good country for a legal challenge.” Italy’s stance was different four years ago, but just like Spain it is being lobbied, pressured, and sometimes even financially blackmailed into it. Remember what the IMF did to Greece just weeks ago.

The EPO can radically expand patent scope (both scope of jurisdiction and scope of patents) if “Unitary Software Patents” — as the above calls it — is successfully passed in its current form. Implementation may be years away, so there’s still time for reactionary opposition.

Our protests against this undemocratic (no referendum yet) expansion go almost 8 years back, or the Alison Brimelow days (2007), predating the current ‘branding’ of the change (back when Charlie McCreevy and Michel Barnier promoted it). This opposition might fall on deaf ears at the EPO’s management. As we pointed out last week, the EPO's management censored our site Office-wide and it seems to have led to self-censorship at SUEPO, which has just published this letter in German [PDF]. It is a letter from a SUEPO lawyer, who candidly speaks about keyloggers, cameras, etc. as he informs Heiko Maas.

A letter of complaint has been sent regarding the censorship of Techrights (no indication of a response has been publicised by now) and what we attach is below (all four pages, click for full size) serves to show just how arrogant the EPO’s management has become. It refuses to listen to European citizens, much like true tyrants who quit pretending to be benevolent.

A letter

A letter

A letter

A letter

Windows Increasingly Discontinued (Mobile, RT), So Microsoft Wants to Take Over GNU/Linux

Posted in GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Windows at 3:20 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: The Windows monopoly is at risk of being reduced to scraps after Vista 8, Windows Mobile, and Windows RT failed the market

MICROSOFT will never admit this publicly, but the Windows franchise is under existential threat, looking several years down the line (the trend is clear). In fact, a programmer from Microsoft told me (just over the weekend) that Vista 10 still crashes a lot and has hardware compatibility issues. It sounds a lot like Vista.

Windows RT is pretty much dead or dying. Based on this ‘damage control’, the platform is already on its deathbed and “[w]hatever features the new update brings, it’s a safe bet that this update will be the last gasp for Windows RT. Microsoft stopped selling the RT-powered Surface 2 in January and it put the Lumia 2520 out to pasture shortly after it acquired Nokia. Hardly any other vendors even bothered to make RT tablets, and those that did quickly realized their mistake and pulled out.”

“Windows is in so much trouble right now that Microsoft is trying to hijack Android (to the extent possible), blackmail its backers using software patents, and spread a lot of FUD in the media.”Microsoft is now betting the farm on branding, calling Windows “10″ (as in the number 10, which sounds nice but says very little about anything of substance). Microsoft lies about the price, pretending that it is free, and it also tries to characterise it as “open”. According to this article, if you don’t get “Enterprise Edition” (just not limited by design), “You agree to receive automatic downloads without notice” (meaning that additional back doors can be remotely added for the NSA at any time). As FOSS Force put it, going under the headline “Yet Another Reason to Avoid Windows 10″: “It seems they’re still convinced they know what’s best for their users. So much so that the new Windows, due to be released next week, will have users click off on an EULA that pretty much gives Redmond carte blanche to update the system at will, which will include updating apps as well as Windows itself, with no real way to opt out — except for users of the Enterprise edition.”

Windows is in so much trouble right now that Microsoft is trying to hijack Android (to the extent possible), blackmail its backers using software patents, and spread a lot of FUD in the media. Microsoft also resorts to putting GNU/Linux under Microsoft’s control (as we pointed out last week), with or without patents, e.g. using SUSE. Articles by Microsoft boosters such as Kurt Mackie [1, 2] call this “love”, but it’s actually entrapment with total surveillance on GNU/Linux servers because, according to Microsoft, there might be something criminal in there. Microsoft, according to this new article, is scanning every single file, including photos (i.e. surveillance). Forbes (plutocrats’ propaganda) puts positive spin on it, trying to frame it as “Combat The Spread Of Child Pornography”, but that’s just a convenient excuse that so-called ‘cloud’ companies use to snoop on every single thing. Hopefully there won’t be enough foolish (even negligent) companies that give Microsoft (and NSA vis PRISM) access to everything on their GNU/Linux servers. According to some reports, Microsoft now pretends that change of password is what’s required because Skype has yet another gaping hole in it. That’s not really a solution of course, “but the company is yet to close what appears to be a gaping hole in its software.”

The writer, Kelly (usually FOSS-friendly and Microsoft-sceptical judging by her long history), says that “complaints are building up about the lack of communication coming out of the Microsoft camp regarding what seems to be a Skype security flaw.” Making the software insecure by design (or the encryption flawed) comes at a high cost. GNU/Linux users should immediately remove this malicious blob and never install it again. Moreover, nobody should even give Microsoft any leverage over GNU/Linux and Free software. Microsoft is a loser and an informant, hoping that being a surveillance company will give it a new (post-Windows) future.

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