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07.26.16

Links 26/7/2016: Microsoft Growing Desperate, Linux 4.8 Visions

Posted in News Roundup at 2:34 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • Desktop

    • Last gasp: Microsoft updates Get Windows 10 nagster, KB 3035583, yet again

      With nine days to go, Microsoft really, really wants you to claim your free upgrade to Windows 10. Come to think of it, Microsoft has really, really wanted you to upgrade your Windows 7 or 8.1 PC to Windows 10 for more than a year, and backed it with the GWX subsystem — first installed by KB 3035583 in March 2015, 15 months ago.

  • Server

    • Open Source Docker Monitoring & Logging

      Docker is growing by leaps and bounds, and along with it, its ecosystem. Being light, the predominant container deployment involves running just a single app or service inside each container. Most software products and services are made up of at least several such apps/services. We all want all our apps/services to be highly available and fault tolerant. Thus, Docker containers in an organization quickly start popping up like mushrooms after the rain. They multiply faster than rabbits.While, in the beginning, we play with them like cute little pets, as their numbers quickly grow we realize we are dealing with a herd of cattle, implying we’ve become cowboys. Managing a herd with your two hands, a horse, and a lasso will only get you so far. You won’t be able to ride after each and every calf that wonders in the wrong direction. To get back to containers from this zoological analogy—operating so many moving pieces at scale is impossible without orchestration—this is why we’ve seen the rise of Docker Swarm, Kubernetes, Mesos, CoreOS, RancherOS, and so on.

    • DevOps: A Pillar of Modern IT Infrastructure

      A massive transformation is underway in the way we manage IT infrastructure. More companies are looking for improved agility and flexibility. They are moving from traditional server stacks to cloudy infrastructure to support a new array of applications and services that must be delivered at breakneck pace in order to remain competitive.

    • The one big change in IT

      Yet Bob does not believe the devops hammer should be used on anything that looks remotely like a nail. Accounting systems, supply chain management systems, warehouse management systems, and so on do not benefit from the constant modification enabled by devops. Those are bound by precise, interlocking processes along with granular permissions and regulations. Here, continuous change invites disaster of the type that ITIL-huggers and OCM (organizational change management) proponents fear most.

  • Kernel Space

  • Applications

    • Conversation With Jonathan Thomas of OpenShot

      I think my initial fascination with Linux was based on rebuilding all my old, broken computers laying around my office/garage. I was having a ton of fun, pulling components out of old computers, installing various distros and seeing what worked/didn’t work. And then there was the 3D desktop cube, which was pretty awesome! Pretty soon I had built my kids their own computer, with “safe” web-browsing, education games, etc. It was many months of playing around with Linux before I learned about Python and started slowly getting more into the programming side of things.

    • OpenVZ 7.0 Becomes A Complete Linux Distribution, Based On VzLinux

      OpenVZ, a long-standing Linux virtualization technology and similar to LXC and Solaris Containers, is out with their major 7.0 release.

      OpenVZ 7.0 has focused on merging the OpenVZ and Virtuozzo code-bases along with replacing their own hypervisor with that of Linux’s KVM. Under OpenVZ 7.0, it has become a complete Linux distribution based upon VzLinux.

    • OpenVZ 7.0 released

      I’m pleased to announce the release of OpenVZ 7.0. The new release focuses on merging OpenVZ and Virtuozzo source codebase, replacing our own hypervisor with KVM.

    • Announcing git-cinnabar 0.4.0 beta 2

      Git-cinnabar is a git remote helper to interact with mercurial repositories. It allows to clone, pull and push from/to mercurial remote repositories, using git.

    • FreeIPA Lightweight CA internals

      In the preceding post, I explained the use cases for the FreeIPA lightweight sub-CAs feature, how to manage CAs and use them to issue certificates, and current limitations. In this post I detail some of the internals of how the feature works, including how signing keys are distributed to replicas, and how sub-CA certificate renewal works. I conclude with a brief retrospective on delivering the feature.

    • Lightweight Sub-CAs in FreeIPA 4.4

      Last year FreeIPA 4.2 brought us some great new certificate management features, including custom certificate profiles and user certificates. The upcoming FreeIPA 4.4 release builds upon this groundwork and introduces lightweight sub-CAs, a feature that lets admins to mint new CAs under the main FreeIPA CA and allows certificates for different purposes to be issued in different certificate domains. In this post I will review the use cases and demonstrate the process of creating, managing and issuing certificates from sub-CAs. (A follow-up post will detail some of the mechanisms that operate behind the scenes to make the feature work.)

    • RcppArmadillo 0.7.200.2.0

      The second Armadillo release of the 7.* series came out a few weeks ago: version 7.200.2. And RcppArmadillo version 0.7.200.2.0 is now on CRAN and uploaded to Debian. This followed the usual thorough reverse-dependecy checking of by now over 240 packages using it.

      For once, I let it simmer a little preparing only a package update via the GitHub repo without preparing a CRAN upload to lower the update frequency a little. Seeing that Conrad has started to release 7.300.0 tarballs, the time for a (final) 7.200.2 upload was now right.

      Just like the previous, it now requires a recent enough compiler. As g++ is so common, we explicitly test for version 4.6 or newer. So if you happen to be on an older RHEL or CentOS release, you may need to get yourself a more modern compiler. R on Windows is now at 4.9.3 which is decent (yet stable) choice; the 4.8 series of g++ will also do. For reference, the current LTS of Ubuntu is at 5.4.0, and we have g++ 6.1 available in Debian testing.

    • Instructionals/Technical

    • Games

      • Stardew Valley is now in beta for Linux

        The Stardew Valley developer tweeted out a password for a beta, but after discussing it with them on their forum I was able to show them that we can’t actually access it yet.

        While what I was telling them may not have been entirely correct (SteamDB is confusing), the main point I made was correct. Normal keys are not able to access the beta yet, but beta/developer keys can, as it’s not currently set for Linux/Mac as a platform for us.

      • Physics-based 3D puzzler Human: Fall Flat released on Steam for Linux

        Human: Fall Flat is an open-ended physics puzzler with an optional local co-op mode, developed by No Brakes Games, and available now on Steam for Linux.

      • 7 Mages brings a touch more of traditional dungeon crawling to Linux

        Controlling a party of adventurers, exploring dungeons and fighting weird magical creatures is an RPG tradition as old as the genre. Expect all that and more in this modern iteration of the classical dungeon crawler.

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • NWM: An X11 Window Manager Written In Node.js

      In case you ever wanted to have a Node.js window manager, there’s now one that works for X11 environments that works on Chrome OS, Debian, and friends.

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK

      • Bringing your kids to GUADEC 2016
      • GNOME Keysign – Report #2 GSoC 2016

        More than a week ago I blogged about the new GUI made with GtkBuilder and Glade [1]. Now, I will talk about what has changed since then with the GUI and also the new functionality that has been added to it.

        I will start with the new “transition” page which I’ve added for the key download phase. Before going more in depth, I have to say that the app knows at each moment in what state it is, which really helps in adding more functionality.

  • Distributions

    • Chakra GNU/Linux Users Get KDE Plasma 5.7.2, Qt 5.7 and KDE Applications 16.04.3

      Chakra GNU/Linux developer Neofytos Kolokotronis today, July 25, 2016, announced the release of the latest KDE and Qt technologies, along with new software versions in the main repositories of the Linux kernel-based operating system.

    • Reviews

      • Point Linux 3.2

        Point Linux released their newest version, 3.2, in June 2016. Their goal is, “To combine the power of Debian GNU/Linux with the productivity of MATE, the GNOME 2 desktop environment fork. Point Linux provides an easy-to-set-up-and-use distribution for users looking for a fast, stable and predictable desktop.”

        Point Linux aims to use MATE as their primary desktop environment, but also offers Xfce as an option. The Point Linux website is simple and professional. The download page is full of fresh and very nice options that allow the user to download the exact distro they require to fit their needs. Some of the options include 32- or 64-bit, torrent or direct download, and the location of the download server. I found using the website was effortless and the options available cut down on the download time (by giving the option to torrent or the location of the server) and lowered the install time by giving the consumer options before retrieving the whole file.

        The MATE desktop environment (DE) is available in the standard Debian installation media, but the full Debian installer image is 4.7GB, overwhelmingly large, and has too many DE options to make the disc any smaller. This is the small void that Point Linux fills. They provide the MATE desktop environment (or Xfce) and a significantly smaller live OS / installation media. Even when selecting the full featured desktop from the options on their website, the Point Linux installer is only 1.00GB. The “Desktop with core components” option lowers this installation media size further to 772MB.

    • PCLinuxOS/Mageia/Mandriva Family

    • OpenSUSE/SUSE

      • Introducing: openSUSE heroes

        During the last weeks, the openSUSE board and others expressed their concern about the current state of some openSUSE infrastructure: especially the reaction times to change something in the setup were mentioned multiple times. Looks like we lost some administrators and/or contact points at SUSE who helped out in the past to eliminate problems or work together with the community.

        As result, there was a meeting held during the openSUSE Conference 2016, including some SUSE employees and openSUSE community members to discuss the current situation and search for some possible solutions. The discussion was very fruitful and we’d like to share some of the results here to inform everyone and actively ask for help. If you want to join us, the openSUSE heroes, do not hesitate to contact us and join an incredible team!

    • Slackware Family

      • The saga continues with Slackware 14.2

        Slackware is the oldest surviving Linux distribution and has been maintained since its birth by Patrick Volkerding. Slackware has a well deserved reputation for being stable, consistent and conservative. Slackware is released when it is ready, rather than on a set schedule, and fans of the distribution praise its no-frills and no-fuss design. Slackware adheres to a “keep it simple” philosophy similar to Arch Linux, in that the operating system does not do a lot of hand holding or automatic configuration. The user is expected to know what they are doing and the operating system generally stays out of the way. The latest release of Slackware, version 14.2, mostly offers software updates and accompanying hardware support. A few new features offer improved plug-n-play support for removable devices and this release of Slackware ships with the PulseAudio software. PulseAudio has been commonly found in the audio stack of most Linux distributions for several years, but that is a signature of Slackware: adding new features when they are needed, not when they become available. In this case PulseAudio was required as a dependency for another package.

        Slackware 14.2 is available in 32-bit and 64-bit builds for the x86 architecture. There is also an ARM build. While the main edition of Slackware is available as an installation disc only, there is a live edition of Slackware where we can explore a Slackware-powered desktop environment without installing the distribution. The live edition can be found on the Alien Base website. Both the live edition and the main installation media are approximately 2.6GB in size. For the purposes of this review I will be focusing on the main, installation-only edition.

        Booting from the install media brings us to a text screen where we are invited to type in any required kernel parameters. We can press the Enter key to take the default settings or wait two minutes for the media to continue booting. A text prompt then offers to let us load an alternative keyboard layout or use the default “US” layout. We are then brought to a text console where a brief blurb offers us tips for setting up disk partitions and swap space. The helpful text says we can create partitions and then run the system installer by typing “setup”.

    • Red Hat Family

      • Finance

      • Fedora

        • Fedora 24: systemd-analyze

          I am still searching for an explanation, but Google searches are not turning up much that is useful. In the end it is curiosity more than something that is actually impacting me as I am able to start working long before systemd-analyze is capable of giving me results and certainly it is not taking 1 minute and 30 seconds for the computer to boot. In fact, when I timed the boot it only took 18.5 seconds for me to get to the desktop.

        • It’s Time to Upgrade to Fedora 24 Linux If You’re Still Using Fedora 22

          Fedora Program Manager Jan Kurik announced that the Fedora 22 Linux operating system officially reached end of life on July 19, 2016, urging users to upgrade to either the Fedora 23 or Fedora 24.

          Of course, this is not the first time we inform our readers about the end of life (EOL) support for the Fedora 22 GNU/Linux distribution, but just in case you haven’t noticed our previous story, and you’re still using Fedora 22 on your personal computers or servers, it’s time to upgrade to a newer release immediately.

        • Blivet-gui 2.0
        • FISL17

          Ana Mativi, Rino (@Villadalmine), Itamar Jp, Ezequiel (QliXed) Brizuela, Bruno R. Zanuzzo, Eduardo Echeverria, Junior Wolnei e Daniel Lara. I personally knew only two of those people so it’s nice to see new faces behind the nicknames.

        • Looking forward to flock 2016

          Just over one week until flock ( https://flocktofedora.org ), Fedora’s main yearly conference. This time it’s in Kraków, Poland. This of course means a long time traveling for myself and other North American Fedorans, but it’s always well worth it.

        • PreLinuxDay: Talk about Fedora QA and L10N

          Linux Day is a global celebration of Linux. According to the event site, there is currently 9 teams in 5 countries. One of these teams is from my country, Panama. The responsible of doing this is Jose Reyes, our newest Panamanian Fedora Ambassador.

        • Final phase

          Last week I finished up the prototype for the release widget fully and started coding the calendar widget monthly view and weekly view. So far the implementation consists of the main view and weekly view (link). I am hoping to finish this by Monday evening and concentrate on prototyping the empty state widget.

        • Reworking Docs

          In May of this year the docs team, with the help of some great folks from Red Hat and the CentOS project held a Documentation FAD. During that event we discussed a lot of important topics including the docs team’s publishing toolchain, and the barrier to entry that is docbook.

        • Korora 23 – is it an alternative to Linux Mint?

          Cinnamon is a desktop environment that is widely promoted by the Linux Mint team. Linux Mint Cinnamon is their flagship distribution. In its turn, Linux Mint is a leader in the world of Linux distributions, especially for the newbie-oriented part of it. Unfortunately, the recent release of Linux Mint 18 made things worse, and many Linux bloggers wrote about this.

          There was a comment on my recent post about Linux Mint 18 Cinnamon that asked me to look into the Korora distribution.

        • Check out these Korora Wallpapers
        • Slack 14.2 & Korora 23 Reviewed, Distros for Average Joe

          Jesse Smith reviewed Slackware 14.2 in today’s Distrowatch Weekly, saying it was stable as always if a bit dated topping Monday’s Linux news. Elsewhere, The Everyday Linux User listed his top five distributions for the “everyday Linux user” and DarkDuck test drove Korora 23 Live. Christine Hall gave Mint 18 a solid meh and OpenBSD kicked Linux to the curb.

        • Korora 24 “Sheldon” Linux Is Available Only for 64-bit PCs, Based on Fedora 24

          After a long wait, the Korora 24 GNU/Linux distribution has been released, based, as its version number suggests, on many of the technologies included in the popular Fedora 24 operating system.

        • Dale Raby: How do you Fedora?

          Dale started using Linux around 1999 when he became disconcerted with his Windows 95 computer and a young clerk in an office supply store told him about Linux. “I started reading some of the magazines, most notably Maximum Linux and eventually got to know their senior editor, Woody Hughes and Show Me the Code columnist Mae Ling Mak,” said Raby. His first distribution was Mandrake 6.5 which came in a box with a boot floppy.

          Raby manages a small gun shop in Green Bay, Wisconsin. He is also an author with four published books: The Post-Apocalyptic Blacksmith, 777 Bon Mots for Gunslighers and Other Real Men, The Wives of Jacob I, and In the Beginning.

        • Lennart Poettering Announces systemd 231 Init System for GNU/Linux Distributions

          Today, July 25, 2016, systemd creator Lennart Poettering has proudly announced the release and general availability of the systemd 231 init system for major GNU/Linux OSes.

          Bringing lots of fixes and numerous additions, systemd 231 is now the most advanced version of the modern and controversial init system that has been adopted in the last few years by more and more Linux kernel-based operating systems, including Fedora, Ubuntu, Arch Linux, openSUSE, Red Hat Enterprise Linux, and many others.

        • Systemd 231 Officially Released
        • systemd 231
        • New Taskotron Tasks

          For a while now, we, Fedora QA, have been busy with building Taskotron core features and didn’t have much resources for additions to the tasks that Taskotron runs. That changed a few weeks back when we started running task-dockerautotest, task-abicheck and task-rpmgrill tasks in our dev environment. Since we have been happy with the results of having run those tasks, we deployed them to the production instance as well last week. Please note that the results of those tasks are informative only. Lets introduce the tasks briefly:

    • Debian Family

      • Debian LGBTIQA+

        I have a long overdue blog entry about what happened in recent times. People that follow my tweets did catch some things. Most noteworthy there was the Trans*Inter*Congress in Munich at the start of May. It was an absolute blast. I met so many nice and great people, talked and experienced so many great things there that I’m still having a great motivational push from it every time I think back. It was also the time when I realized that I in fact do have body dysphoria even though I thought I’m fine with my body in general: Being tall is a huge issue for me. Realizing that I have a huge issue (yes, pun intended) with my length was quite relieving, even though it doesn’t make it go away. It’s something that makes passing and transitioning for me harder. I’m well aware that there are tall women, and that there are dedicated shops for lengthy women, but that’s not the only thing that I have trouble with. What bothers me most is what people read into tall people: that they are always someone they can lean on for comfort, that tall people are always considered to be self confident and standing up for themselves (another pun, I know … my bad).

      • [GSOC] Week 8&9 Report

        This particular week has been tiresome as I did catch a cold ;). I did come back from Cape Town where debconf taking place. My arrival at Montreal was in the middle of the week, so this week is not plenty of news…

      • Debian on Jetson TK1

        I became interested in running Debian on NVIDIA’s Tegra platform recently. NVIDIA is doing a great job getting support for Tegra upstream (u-boot, kernel, X.org and other projects). As part of ensuring good Debian support for Tegra, I wanted to install Debian on a Jetson TK1, a development board from NVIDIA based on the Tegra K1 chip (Tegra 124), a 32-bit ARM chip.

      • RC bugs 2016/01-29
      • Derivatives

        • Canonical/Ubuntu

          • Women In Tech: Jane Silber, CEO Of Canonical

            When I sat down to interview Jane Silber, CEO of Canonical, I don’t think it was lost on either of us that our ability to chat freely even though I was in my office in the middle of the U.S. and she was in her office in London, England had everything to do with cloud computing, an area in which her company does brisk business.

            Silber has been running Canonical (maker of Ubuntu, among a great many other software products) in one form or another for well over a decade at this point, first as COO and now CEO. She answers questions thoughtfully, with carefully chosen words; even though I’m sure I’m not the first journalist to ask her some of the below questions (maybe not even the first one this week), she had no canned responses, and she never veered off course to discuss her own agenda. There were no preset talking points; simply, I asked questions, and she answered them.

          • Flavours and Variants

  • Devices/Embedded

Free Software/Open Source

  • Wal-Mart Proves Open Source Is Big Business
  • Keeping the FCC and Open Source Happy

    The FCC is worried. You and they spend all this time and energy getting your radio certified, and then some bozo hacks in, changes how the radio works, and puts you out of spec.

    And so, back in early 2015, the FCC issued some guidelines or questions regarding WiFi devices – particularly home routers – in an effort to ensure that your radio isn’t hackable.

    The result has been that some router makers have simply locked down the platform so that it’s no longer possible to do after-market modifications, and this has caused an outcry by after-market modifiers. The reason why it’s an issue is that these open-source developers have used the platform for adding apps or other software that, presumably, have nothing to do with the radio.

    In an attempt to find the magic middle way, the prpl organization, headed by Imagination Technologies (IMG) and featuring the MIPS architecture, recently put out a proof of concept that they say gives both assurance to the FCC and freedom to open-source developers.

    Questions from the FCC

  • Wire open-sources messaging client, woos developers

    Communications startup Wire has open-sourced the full codebase for its Wire app, so it’s easier for developers to build their own encrypted messaging clients.

    Wire open-sourced the rest of the client base that wasn’t initially publicly available, including components related to the user interface, the web and native clients, and some internal developer tools. The company always planned to open-source the codebase, but didn’t start out that way initially “because we were still working on other features,” Alan Duric, co-founder and CTO of Wire, wrote in a Medium post.

  • Events

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • Servo Is Planning For More GPU-Accelerated WebRender Improvements

        As mentioned in today’s This Week in Servo newsletter, their Q3 roadmap plans have been published.

        Among the work to be tackled by Mozilla developers working on the next-generation Servo layout engine this quarter includes finishing the development of WebRender, experiments around WebRender 2, Stylo as the sryle system in Gecko integration work, and continuing with the Servo nightly builds support. There’s also work around Promise API, Autolander migration, Android work, auto-updating, JavaScript error reporting, Web Font loading, performance improvements, correcting more layout bugs, etc. You can see the current road-map via this GitHub page.

      • What Happens to Mozilla and its Deal with Yahoo?

        In late 2014, many observers were flummoxed to see that Yahoo and Mozilla had announced a “strategic five-year partnership” agreement which would make Yahoo the primary search option for Firefox. Mozilla was up for renewal negotiations for its deal with Google, which had historically subsidized more than 90 percent of Mozilla’s revenues, to the tune of more than $300 million per year at times. In return, for lots of money, Google got primary search placement in the Firefox browser over the years.

        Last week, though, Verizon,announced its intention to purchase Yahoo for $4.8 billion. What are the implications for Mozilla and its deal? Here are the details.

  • SaaS/Back End

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

  • BSD

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

    • Open Data

      • Austria awards ‘Open Data Oscars’

        Last month, the Austrian State Secretary Muna Duzdar handed out the ‘Oscars of the Open Data Community’. The awards were part of the ‘open4data.at challenge 2016′ organised earlier this year. The annual challenge aims to bring open data and ideas together in innovative and creative solutions.

      • Open data platform on Emilia-Romagna reconstruction

        After the two earthquakes that caused multiple casualties and widespread damage in the Italian region of Emilia-Romagna in 2012, multiple programmes were launched to reconstruct the affected areas. To make these efforts more transparent, a team from the Gran Sasso Science Institute last week presented an Open Data platform that will provide all information on who is responsible, which company is doing what, and how the money is being spent.

        The ‘Open Data Ricostruzione’ initiative was presented last week at the Italian Festival of Participation. The platform will bring together all the numbers, figures and information on the reconstruction, and allow visitors to visualise, filter, track and map the available data. All information will be made available as open data, in the original database format as well as JSON.

    • Open Access/Content

      • Open is the solution to improving 21st century education

        Much of the Internet runs Linux and open source software, yet in most of our schools—whether PK-12 or higher education—Linux and open source software are given short shrift.

        Linux has made serious inroads on hand-held devices, the desktop, and the Internet of things (IoT) that use platforms such as Raspberry Pi, Galileo, and Arduino. Despite this astounding growth, a relatively small number of secondary and post-secondary schools offer technology training that prepares students for increasingly in-demand technical skills. The growth of the maker movement and the concurrent interest in STEM skills, which include coding and ethical hacking, may provide a much-needed impetus to change this trend.

    • Open Hardware/Modding

      • AArch64 desktop hardware?

        Soon there will be four years since I started working on AArch64 architecture. Lot of software things changed during that time. Lot in a hardware too. But machines availability still sucks badly.

        In 2012 all we had was software model. It was slow, terribly slow. Common joke was AArch64 developers standing in a queue for 10GHz x86-64 cpus. So I was generating working binaries by using cross compilation. But many distributions only do native builds. In models. Imagine Qt4 building for 3-4 days…

        In 2013 I got access to first server hardware. With first silicon version of CPU. Highly unstable, we could use just one core etc. GCC was crashing like hell but we managed to get stable build results from it. Qt4 was building in few hours now.

      • RISC-V on an FPGA, pt. 1

        Last year I had open source instruction set RISC-V running Linux emulated in qemu. However to really get into the architecture, and restore my very rusty FPGA skills, wouldn’t it be fun to have RISC-V working in real hardware.

        The world of RISC-V is pretty confusing for outsiders. There are a bunch of affiliated companies, researchers who are producing actual silicon (nothing you can buy of course), and the affiliated(?) lowRISC project which is trying to produce a fully open source chip. I’m starting with lowRISC since they have three iterations of a design that you can install on reasonably cheap FPGA development boards like the one above. (I’m going to try to install “Untether 0.2” which is the second iteration of their FPGA design.)

      • RISC-V on an FPGA, pt. 2
      • RISC-V on an FPGA, pt. 3
      • RISC-V on an FPGA, pt. 4
      • RISC-V on an FPGA, pt. 5

Leftovers

  • Hardware

    • In Memoriam: The VCR, 1956 – 2016

      The future was closer than ever with the hip-sounding Sony U-matic, which came on the market in 1971. It could fast-forward and rewind! Then the Philips VCR, made available to consumers in 1972, changed the game with its first model, the N1500, that incorporated all the best qualities of recorders that came before it. There were basic controls — the play, pause, fast-forward, and rewind buttons — plus a clock with a timer, so you could record shows when you weren’t even home.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • The Porn ‘Public Health Crisis’ Has Competition

      With all the protests, plagiarism allegations, and literal smoke that swirled around the Republican National Convention, it’s easy to forget about the drier parts—like approving the 2016 GOP platform. But you should probably read it, because more than any word salad Duck Dynasty dude or Scott Baio might have to offer, the Republican platform indicates the GOP grownup’s actual priorities. Same deal with the Democratic platform, passed on the first day of the Democratic National Convention.

      One of the Republican platform’s buzziest stances is that pornography “has become a public health crisis that is destroying the lives of millions.” Not that porn can’t be sleazy and problematic. But a crisis of public health? Like, say, Zika? Or opioid addiction? Or, you know, cancer?

    • Swift Decision On Plain Packaging At WTO Unlikely; Ukraine Drops Out

      As the list of countries adopting legislation making the packaging of tobacco products a lot less sexy is growing, the long-awaited decision of a World Trade Organization panel on Australia’s decision to enforce such legislation might not be coming before the end of the year. Meanwhile, one of the countries complaining about Australia’s legislation has left the fight.

    • Officials Discuss Meeting Global Fund Target Of US$13B

      As the fund to help the world’s most suffering prepares for a conference hosted by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and the government of Canada in September to raise US$13 billion for its 2017-2019 period, the prospect of failing to meet the target is unsettling for the civil society and the health community.

    • The U.S. Blew $1.4 Billion on Abstinence Education in Africa

      That is the amount of money the U.S. spent over a 10-year period from 2004 through 2013 promoting abstinence before marriage as a way of preventing HIV in 14 countries in sub-Saharan Africa. Unfortunately, according to the most comprehensive independent study conducted to date of the effort, the money was more or less wasted. A rigorous comparison of national data from countries that received abstinence funding under the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) with those that got none of the funding showed no difference in the age of first sexual experience or in the number of sexual partners or teenage pregnancies—all aspects of behaviors that have been linked to a higher risk of becoming infected with HIV.

    • Abortion and contraception in India: the role of men

      The callous attitude of Indian men that ‘she can always abort’ in cases of an unwanted pregnancy caused by failure to use a condom needs to be tackled at the root.

  • Security

    • Security advisories for Monday
    • EU to Give Free Security Audits to Apache HTTP Server and Keepass

      The European Commission announced on Wednesday that its IT engineers would provide a free security audit for the Apache HTTP Server and KeePass projects.

      The EC selected the two projects following a public survey that took place between June 17 and July 8 and that received 3,282 answers.

      The survey and security audit are part of the EU-FOSSA (EU-Free and Open Source Software Auditing) project, a test pilot program that received funding of €1 million until the end of the year.

    • What is your browser really doing?

      While Microsoft would prefer you use its Edge browser on Windows 10 as part of its ecosystem, the most popular Windows browser is Google’s Chrome. But there is a downside to Chrome – spying and battery life.

      It all started when Microsoft recently announced that its Edge browser used less battery power than Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox or Opera on Windows 10 devices. It also measured telemetry – what the Windows 10 device was doing when using different browsers.

      What it found was that the other browsers had a significantly higher central processing unit (CPU), and graphics processing unit (GPU) overhead when viewing the same Web pages. It also proved that using Edge resulted in 36-53% more battery life when performing the same tasks as the others.

      Let’s not get into semantics about which search engine — Google or Bing — is better; this was about simple Web browsing, opening new tabs and watching videos. But it started a discussion as to why CPU and GPU usage was far higher. And it relates to spying and ad serving.

    • Is Computer Security Becoming a Hardware Problem?

      In December of 1967 the Silver Bridge collapsed into the Ohio River, killing 46 people. The cause was determined to be a single 2.5 millimeter defect in a single steel bar—some credit the Mothman for the disaster, but to most it was an avoidable engineering failure and a rebuttal to the design philosophy of substituting high-strength non-redundant building materials for lower-strength albeit layered and redundant materials. A partial failure is much better than a complete failure.

      [...]

      In 1996, Kocher co-authored the SSL v3.0 protocol, which would become the basis for the TLS standard. TLS is the difference between HTTP and HTTPS and is responsible for much of the security that allows for the modern internet. He argues that, barring some abrupt and unexpected advance in quantum computing or something yet unforeseen, TLS will continue to safeguard the web and do a very good job of it. What he’s worried about is hardware: untested linkages in digital bridges.

    • Your Smart Robot Is Coming in Five Years, But It Might Get Hacked and Kill You

      A new report commissioned by the Department of Homeland Security forecasts that autonomous artificially intelligent robots are just five to 10 years away from hitting the mainstream—but there’s a catch.

      The new breed of smart robots will be eminently hackable. To the point that they might be re-programmed to kill you.

      The study, published in April, attempted to assess which emerging technology trends are most likely to go mainstream, while simultaneously posing serious “cybersecurity” problems.

      The good news is that the near future is going to see some rapid, revolutionary changes that could dramatically enhance our lives. The bad news is that the technologies pitched to “become successful and transformative” in the next decade or so are extremely vulnerable to all sorts of back-door, front-door, and side-door compromises.

    • Trump, DNC, RNC Flunk Email Security Test

      At issue is a fairly technical proposed standard called DMARC. Short for “domain-based messaging authentication reporting and conformance,” DMARC tries to solve a problem that has plagued email since its inception: It’s surprisingly difficult for email providers and end users alike to tell whether a given email is real – i.e. that it really was sent by the person or organization identified in the “from:” portion of the missive.

    • NIST Prepares to Ban SMS-Based Two-Factor Authentication

      The US National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has released the latest draft version of the Digital Authentication Guideline that contains language hinting at a future ban on SMS-based Two-Factor Authentication (2FA).

      The Digital Authentication Guideline (DAG) is a set of rules used by software makers to build secure services, and by governments and private agencies to assess the security of their services and software.

      NIST experts are constantly updating the guideline, in an effort to keep pace with the rapid change in the IT sector.

    • 1.6m Clash of Kings forum accounts ‘stolen’

      Details about 1.6 million users on the Clash of Kings online forum have been hacked, claims a breach notification site.

      The user data from the popular mobile game’s discussion forum were allegedly targeted by a hacker on 14 July.

      Tech site ZDNet has reported the leaked data includes email addresses, IP addresses and usernames.

    • Hacker steals 1.6 million accounts from top mobile game’s forum [Ed: vBulletin is proprietary software -- the same crap Canonical used for Ubuntu forums]
    • Tuesday’s security updates
    • Oops: Bounty-hunter found Vine’s source code in plain sight

      A bounty-hunter has gone public with a complete howler made by Vine, the six-second-video-loop app Twitter acquired in 2012.

      According to this post by @avicoder (Vjex at GitHub), Vine’s source code was for a while available on what was supposed to be a private Docker registry.

      While docker.vineapp.com, hosted at Amazon, wasn’t meant to be available, @avicoder found he was able to download images with a simple pull request.

    • US standards lab says SMS is no good for authentication

      America’s National Institute for Standards and Technology has advised abandonment of SMS-based two-factor authentication.

      That’s the gist of the latest draft of its Digital Authentication Guideline, here. Down in section 5.1.3.2, the document says out-of-band verification using SMS is deprecated and won’t appear in future releases of NIST’s guidance.

  • Defence/Aggression

    • Exclusive: MH370 Pilot Flew a Suicide Route on His Home Simulator Closely Matching Final Flight

      New York has obtained a confidential document from the Malaysian police investigation into the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 that shows that the plane’s captain, Zaharie Ahmad Shah, conducted a simulated flight deep into the remote southern Indian Ocean less than a month before the plane vanished under uncannily similar circumstances. The revelation, which Malaysia withheld from a lengthy public report on the investigation, is the strongest evidence yet that Zaharie made off with the plane in a premeditated act of mass murder-suicide.

    • Japan Knife Attack Kills 19 at Center for Disabled

      A former employee of a center for the disabled in a Tokyo suburb broke into the building and killed 19 people with a knife early Tuesday, local officials said.

      The suspect, Satoshi Uematsu, 26, went on a rampage around 2:20 a.m. in Sagamihara, a town an hour west of Tokyo, according to the authorities in Kanagawa Prefecture. Twenty-five people were reported wounded, all but one of them seriously.

      Just half an hour after the attack, Mr. Uematsu turned himself in at a nearby police station and was charged with attempted murder. Additional charges were expected. The attack was the worst mass killing in Japan in decades. The country has one of the lowest crime rates in the world.

    • Defeating Islamic Terrorism. Here’s How…

      As terrorism struck again in Nice and Germany and… Donald Trump outlined his policy against Islamic State: as president, he will seek a full declaration of war from Congress, the first such formal invocation since Pearl Harbor.

      Trump was short on specifics but very clear he would take the strategies of the post-9/11 era into a presidency. Clinton, for her part, intends on “intensifying the current air campaign [and] stepping up support for local forces on the ground.” Their French counterpart, President Francois Hollande, declared “We will continue striking those who attack us on our own soil.”

    • Doctors in Danger: How the Assad Regime is Targeting Syrian Physicians

      In Syria’s civil war, it’s dangerous to even treat the wounded. Since the beginning of the civil war, the Syrian government has killed hundreds of medical personnel, and dozens of doctors have been assassinated by ISIS. The few doctors who dare to treat the casualties have been forced to work in secret.

      In his piece for the New Yorker, journalist Ben Taub profiles some of the underground community of health providers, documenting how they’re keeping clinics open and preserving medical knowledge, despite the risk of violence from both President Bashar al-Assad’s regime and ISIS.

    • The Atlantic Council: The Marketing Arm of the Military/Security Complex

      The sales pitch is titled “Arming For Deterrence.” The Kremlin is unpredictable, say the arms salesmen, and could at any moment decide to attack Poland. However the Russian regime “respects a show of force” and would back down if Poland has a sufficient inventory of US weapons.

      The sales pitch encourages Poland to take many aggressive and dangerous steps toward Russia, such as targeting Russia cities and facilities including RT. But before provoking the Bear like this, Poland needs “to join the tactical nuclear capability scheme within NATO, so enabling its F-16s to be carriers of tactical nuclear ordnance.”

    • French officer claims interior ministry made her alter Nice attack report

      A senior French police officer has claimed that the interior ministry “harassed” her into altering a security report from the deadly terrorist attack in Nice.

      Sandra Bertin, the officer in charge of Nice’s CCTV control room, told the Journal du Dimanche newspaper on Sunday that an unnamed interior ministry official contacted her after the attack and pressured her into altering her report for the night of the incident.

      On July 14, a truck driver plowed through a Bastille Day crowd in Nice, killing 84 people and wounding 200 others.

      Bertin claims that she was “harassed for an hour” by the official who wanted her to detail the presence of local and national police at the fireworks event where the carnage took place.

    • How US Propaganda Fuels New Cold War

      The anti-Russian propaganda across the U.S. political/media system is so pervasive that even members of Congress know little about the events that launched a new Cold War, as Elizabeth Murray learned and David Swanson reported.

    • Israel/Palestine: Bad Policy, Bad Politics

      To understand why the United States fails so miserably in efforts to achieve an Israeli/Palestinian peace, all you need to do is take a look at the mix of bad policy and bad politics found in the Israel/Palestine sections of platforms of both the Republican and Democratic parties.

    • The Secret US-UK Airwar Against Iraq

      The Chilcot Inquiry, set up to look into the British role in the war in Iraq, reported on July 6, and although it was overshadowed by the political fallout from the Brexit vote to leave the European Union, received a largely favorable reception from the media and commentators. It is unclear why those commentators judged it to be “hard-hitting” because in terms of its conclusions all it did was tell us what we already knew.

      Then British Prime Minister Tony Blair pursued a war that was arguably illegal has had disastrous consequences, not least for the 179 British servicemen and women killed and their loved ones, but also for Iraq, its people and the fight against terrorism.

      I was staggered by the rush to say the report was hard hitting. It wasn’t. It simply laid out the facts in a narrative format and let the reader decide. Those facts were of course damning but I struggle to find anything in the report that a well informed reader of British newspapers wouldn’t already know.

      It was a very workmanlike narrative of what happened taken from secret documents and witness testimony and therefore providing far more detail than had been previously available but it was not anything like a proper inquiry in the real sense. It was more like a neutral court report than the solid analysis which was required, and what we actually got from the curiously much derided Butler report.

    • There’s No Business Like the Arms Business

      When American firms dominate a global market worth more than $70 billion a year, you’d expect to hear about it. Not so with the global arms trade. It’s good for one or two stories a year in the mainstream media, usually when the annual statistics on the state of the business come out.

      It’s not that no one writes about aspects of the arms trade. There are occasional pieces that, for example, take note of the impact of U.S. weapons transfers, including cluster bombs, to Saudi Arabia, or of the disastrous dispensation of weaponry to U.S. allies in Syria, or of foreign sales of the costly, controversial F-35 combat aircraft. And once in a while, if a foreign leader meets with the president, U.S. arms sales to his or her country might generate an article or two. But the sheer size of the American arms trade, the politics that drive it, the companies that profit from it, and its devastating global impacts are rarely discussed, much less analyzed in any depth.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • Wikileaks Leak Of Turkish Emails Reveals Private Details; Raises Ethical Questions

      Last week, we (like many others) reported on the news that Turkey was blocking access to Wikileaks, after the site released approximately 300,000 emails, supposedly from the Turkish government. We’ve long been defenders of Wikileaks as a media organization, and its right to publish various leaks that it gets. However, Zeynep Tufekci, who has long been a vocal critic of the Turkish government (and deeply engaged in issues involving the internet as a platform for speech) is noting that the leak wasn’t quite what Wikileaks claimed it was — and, in fact appears to have revealed a ton of private info on Turkish citizens.

    • WikiLeaks Put Women in Turkey in Danger, for No Reason

      Just days after a bloody coup attempt shook Turkey, WikiLeaks dumped some 300,000 emails they chose to call “Erdogan emails.” In response, Turkey’s internet governance body swiftly blocked access to WikiLeaks.

      For many, blocking WikiLeaks was confirmation that the emails were damaging to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and the government, revealing corruption or other wrongdoing. There was a stream of articles about “censorship.” Even U.S. National Security Agency whistle-blower Edward Snowden tweeted the news of the WikiLeaks block with the comment: “How to authenticate a leak.”

      But Snowden couldn’t have been more wrong about an act that was irresponsible, of no public interest and of potential danger to millions of ordinary, innocent people, especially millions of women in Turkey.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • Crisis on high

      At the top of the world a climate disaster is unfolding that will impact the lives of more than 1 billion people.

      Deep in the Himalayas sits a remote research station that is tracking an alarming trend in climate change, with implications that could disrupt the lives of more than 1 billion people and pitch the most populated region of the world into chaos.

      The station lies in the heart of a region called the Third Pole, an area that contains the largest area of frozen water outside of the North Pole and South Pole.

      Despite its relative anonymity, the Third Pole is vitally important; it is the source of Asia’s 10 largest rivers including the Yellow, the Yangzi, the Mekong, the Irrawaddy and the Ganges — and their fertile deltas.

    • Peru Scrambles to Drive Out Illegal Gold Mining and Save Precious Land

      The miners use so much mercury to process the gold that the government declared a health emergency in much of the Madre de Dios region in May. Tests in 97 villages found that more than 40 percent of the people had absorbed dangerous levels of the heavy metal. Mercury poisoning affects people in many ways, from chronic headaches to kidney damage, but it is most harmful to children, who are likely to suffer permanent brain damage.

    • The global environmental impact of air conditioning is big and will get even bigger

      With a heat wave pushing the heat index well above 100° F (38 °C) through much of the US, most of us are happy to stay indoors and crank the air conditioning. And if you think it’s hot here, try 124 °F in India. Globally, 2016 is poised to be another record-breaking year for average temperatures. This means more air conditioning. Much more.

      In a paper published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science (PNAS), Paul Gertler and I examine the enormous global potential for air conditioning. As incomes rise around the world and global temperatures go up, people are buying air conditioners at alarming rates. In China, for example, sales of air conditioners have nearly doubled over the last five years. Each year now more than 60 million air conditioners are sold in China, more than eight times as many as are sold annually in the United States.

    • EPA Admits Airplane Pollution’s Climate Danger But Drags Feet on Emissions Rules

      After nine years of delay, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today officially acknowledged in a so-called “endangerment finding” that planet-warming pollution from airplanes disrupts the climate and endangers human welfare. But the agency failed to move forward on rules to actually reduce aircraft emissions.

      “EPA officials finally acknowledged airplane pollution’s obvious climate threat, but they’re still not actually cutting the airline industry’s skyrocketing emissions,” said Vera Pardee, senior counsel at the Center for Biological Diversity. “After nearly a decade of denial and delay, we need fast, effective EPA action. The Obama administration must quickly devise ambitious aircraft pollution rules that dramatically reduce this high-flying hazard to our climate.”

    • British badgers are more afraid of the BBC than of bears — and that’s very bad

      Armed with a speaker system and a bucket full of peanuts, wildlife ecologist Liana Zanette hiked into the Wytham Woods with just one mission: to terrorize some woodland creatures with recordings of the BBC.

      For five nights, she broadcast snippets of BBC documentaries and news programs — as well as clips from the Canadian radio show “Quirks and Quarks” and the audiobook of “The Wind in the Willows” — to a forest full of unsuspecting English badgers. She and her colleagues then monitored the animals’ response to the sounds in order to measure how much they feared humans.

      “Oh, I don’t want to be dissing public radio and television,” Zanette hurriedly insisted when I asked whether she thought the BBC was frightening. She laughed, “I had all these clips on hand because it’s what I love to listen to.”

      Zanette, a professor at Western University in Ontario, has spent much of her career studying “the landscape of fear,” how animals’ anxiety about getting eaten by predators shapes their behavior and in turn, shapes the ecosystem in which they live. She’s used a similar methodology — playing predator sounds through a speaker system, then watching to see how animals respond — at least a dozen times before. Then, last year, she read a study in Science claiming that humans had become a “superpredator,” killing mesocarnivores like badgers four times as much as non-human predators do.

    • Planned Gas Pipeline Construction on East Coast Puts Climate at Risk: Report

      Nineteen now-pending pipeline projects, if constructed, would let enough natural gas flow out of the Appalachian basin to cause the entire US to blow through its climate pledges, ushering the world into more than 2 degrees Celsius of global warming, a newly released report by Oil Change International concludes.

      Even if the Environmental Protection Agency’s recently-announced methane rules manage to slash leaks from new natural gas infrastructure as planned, building those pipelines would be catastrophic for the climate, the researchers warn.

      “All together, these 19 pending pipeline projects would enable 116 trillion cubic feet of additional gas production by 2050,” the report, entitled A Bridge Too Far: How Appalachian Basin Gas Pipeline Expansion Will Undermine U.S. Climate Goals, says. “The currently planned gas production expansion in Appalachia would make meeting U.S. climate goals impossible, even if the [Obama] Administration’s newly proposed methane rules are successful in reducing methane leakage by 45 percent.”

    • The Remarkable Inconsistency Of Climate Denial

      This is a year of politics. That means everyone has opinions about where the world should be headed and how we should get there.

      No matter how weird this political season has been, however, there remains a key difference between opinions and facts. That difference comes into the starkest relief when people must face their own inconsistencies in reconciling the two domains.

      And nowhere is the gap between opinions and facts more apparent than the subject of climate change. As a recent action by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) demonstrates, for climate deniers there is a chasm between what is said and what is done.

  • Finance

    • UK suspended payments from £3bn EU development fund days after Brexit vote

      Payments from a £3bn European development fund were suspended indefinitely by the UK Government, just days after the vote to leave the EU, The Independent can reveal.

      In a move that exposes the almost immediate impact of Brexit on the UK economy, businesses say they have been told they will not now receive money that was due to be paid out under the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).

    • Panama Papers Reveal Wide Use of Shell Companies by African Officials

      Entrepreneurs and corrupt officials across Africa have used shell companies to hide profits from the sale of natural resources and the bribes paid to gain access to them, according to records leaked from a Panamanian law firm.

      Owners of the hidden companies include, from Nigeria alone, three oil ministers, several senior employees of the national oil company and two former state governors who were convicted of laundering ill-gotten money from the oil industry, new reports about Africa based on the Panama Papers show. The owners of diamond mines in Sierra Leone and safari companies in Kenya and Zimbabwe also created shell companies.

      Some of the assets cycled through the shell companies were used to buy yachts, private jets, Manhattan penthouses and luxury homes in Beverly Hills, Calif., the law firm documents show.

      Articles posted on Monday by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, and reports being published this week by news media organizations in 17 African countries, underscore the critical role that secret shell companies can play in facilitating tax evasion, bribery and other crimes. In Africa, offshore finance often underlies the exploitation of mineral wealth, with the benefits bypassing the public and going largely to wealthy executives and the government officials they pay off.

    • Brexit rewrites UK budget rules as borrowing set for first big rise since 2010

      Britain could borrow nearly 65 billion pounds more than planned in the next couple of years as new Chancellor Philip Hammond seeks to ‘reset’ government budget policy to ease the shock of last month’s vote to leave the European Union.

      Ratings agencies and economists widely expect borrowing to rise materially next year for the first time since 2010, as Hammond has to call time – temporarily – on the austerity which dominated his predecessor George Osborne’s six years in office.

      After taking office two weeks ago, Hammond said the darker post-Brexit outlook meant policies the Conservative government had pursued since 2010 needed to change – and economists are now starting to put numbers on what this might mean.

      Hammond told reporters on Sunday the scale of any stimulus would hinge on how rapidly the economy was slowing by the time of the Autumn Statement, the half-yearly budget update that usually comes in late November or early December.

    • Vicenza: dark heart of Italy’s banking crisis where locals have lost millions

      From a distance, Vicenza does not look like a city engulfed in turmoil. On the elegant Corso Andrea Palladio, named after the Renaissance architect whose work defines this city, a finely dressed woman clutches a Chanel handbag during her evening passeggiata. Locals sit back and enjoy their Campari spritz cocktails in the July heat. A black Maserati rolls slowly down the street.

    • Father of EU divorce clause demands tough stance on British exit

      A former Italian premier who wrote the European Union divorce clause that Britain is poised to trigger said on Thursday that Brussels should offer no concessions to London in looming negotiations to quit the trading bloc.

      “When it comes to the economy they have to lose,” said Giuliano Amato, explaining that only then might the British reconsider abandoning the world’s largest single market.

      Britain voted in a referendum on June 23 to leave the EU. To do so, London will have to invoke Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, which starts a two-year countdown to a formal exit from the 28-nation bloc.

      “I wrote Article 50, so I know it well,” Amato told a conference in Rome, saying he had inserted it specifically to prevent the British from complaining that there was no clear cut, official way for them to bail out of the Union.

      “My intention was that it should be a classic safety valve that was there, but never used. It is like having a fire extinguisher that should never have to be used. Instead, the fire happened.”

    • First Brexit, now this: British companies could be forced to pay to put their money in the bank

      In yet another sign the financial world is being turned on its head, one of the UK’s biggest banks has warned customers that it may saddle them with negative interest rates. That is, depositors would be charged for putting their money in the bank.

      Royal Bank of Scotland, one of Britain’s largest banks, and Natwest, one of its subsidiaries, sent letters to 1.3 million business customers warning them of the change, citing low interest rates. The letter announcing the changes said: “Global interest rates remain at very low levels and in some markets are currently negative. Dependent on future market conditions, this could result in us charging interest on credit balances.”

      Some central banks already charge commercial lenders for their deposits, and interbank lending markets have also featured negative interest rates. A third of government bonds globally now have yields below zero, meaning investors won’t get all their money back if they hold the securities to maturity.

    • Doubling Down on Wall Street: Hillary and Tim Kaine

      By picking Tim Kaine, Hillary Clinton has revealed her true preferences and shown that her move to the left on policy issues during the primaries was simply a tactical move to defeat Bernie Sanders. It’s not what you say, it’s what you do.

      Clinton can talk about caring about the U.S. public, but this choice cuts through the rhetoric. The two politicians to whom she gave serious consideration to choosing as her running mates were Kaine and Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack. What both men share in common is, like the Clintons, being leaders of the Democratic Leadership Council (DLC). The DLC was, on economic and foreign policy issues, a servile creature of Wall Street – funded by Wall Street.

    • Clinton Running Mate Tim Kaine Supported TPP, Offshore Drilling & Anti-Union Right-to-Work Measures

      As the Democratic National Convention begins in Philadelphia, tension is rising between supporters of Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders. The Democratic National Committee chair, Florida Congressmember Debbie Wasserman Schultz, resigned Sunday following WikiLeaks’ release of nearly 20,000 emails revealing how the Democratic Party favored Hillary Clinton and worked behind the scenes to discredit and her rival, Senator Bernie Sanders. When Sanders speaks tonight at the Democratic convention, he is expected to praise the Democrats for agreeing to what he describes as the most progressive platform in Democratic Party history. But he lost a major battle with the platform when the Democratic National Committee defeated an amendment brought by his delegates to abolish superdelegates. We speak with Zaid Jilani of The Intercept, who reported on how the “DNC Votes to Keep Superdelegates, But Sets Some Conditions.”

    • Brexit supporters hit with record £935bn pension deficit because of the EU referendum

      The UK pension deficit hit a record level of £935 billion following UK’s vote to leave the EU, likely hitting pro-Brexit voters the hardest.

      Support for the UK to leave the EU bloc grew with each age category, peaking at 60 per cent among those aged 65 and over, according to a survey of 12,356 referendum voters by Lord Ashcroft.

      Ironically, the same voters are reliant on defined benefit pension to deliver their retirement income.

    • One Woman’s 10-Year Fight to Save Her Family From Foreclosure

      Many people are responsible for the financial disaster of 2008, and the economic hardship that has continued to unravel since. We still have not seen one criminal prosecution among the CEOs who were – and many still are – at the frontlines where everything started to crumble. Those people are hiding behind corporate protection, always blaming the next in line behind them, never accepting responsibility, and very often putting the blame on the very people they have ruined with their fraudulent dealings.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • The influence diaries: Dispatches from the Democratic National Convention
    • Susan Sarandon: DNC email leak confirms Sanders backers’ fears weren’t “paranoia”

      Actress Susan Sarandon was feeling the Bern during the Democratic primary-and on Monday blasted the Democratic National Committee for its bias against Bernie Sanders, saying the DNC email leak is proof Sanders supporters’ concerns about a rigged system weren’t “paranoia.”

      “I mean, it’s not surprising. It’s great that everyone finally understands that this wasn’t some kind of paranoia,” she said in an interview with Democracy Now. “But every little thing, from not allowing Bernie’s table with his information into the dinners in some of the states I went to and what I saw at caucuses, and I know what happened in New York, where all of that information, the wall went down, and then 137,000 people were just disappeared out of Brooklyn, and I know other people that went and were registered as–I mean, it was clear in California what happened, in Puerto Rico what happened.”

      She added that Sanders supporters are disappointed in the results of the primary, but that it’s important that Sanders gets to speak directly to those people from the convention stage Monday night.

    • WikiLeaks founder: DNC emails show ‘collusion’ by Clinton, Wasserman Schultz

      The founder of WikiLeaks told NBC News on Monday there is no evidence Russia was behind the hacking of the Democratic National Committee’s email server.

      Julian Assange told “Nightly News” correspondent Richard Engel the issue is not who stole the information, but what is in the emails.

      “Well, there is no proof of that whatsoever. We have not disclosed our source, and of course, this is a diversion that’s being pushed by the Hillary Clinton campaign. That’s a meta-story. The real story is what these emails contain and they show collusion,” Assange said in the pre-taped interview that aired Monday night.

      Assange pointed to the effect of the scandal. He said even though the emails were leaked three days ago, DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz has already resigned for her role in “subverting” the nomination process to ensure Hillary Clinton beat Sen. Bernie Sanders.

    • DNC Leak Shows Mechanics of a Slanted Campaign

      As is sadly the case with most political stories these days, whether or not you care about the so-called “DNC leak” probably depends on which candidate you supported in the primaries.

    • Randy Quaid Screams He Is ‘Glad As Hell’ About the DNC Email Leak

      Randy Quaid hasn’t acted in years, but he’s still making movies. The difference is that the 65-year-old who played roles in such films as National Lampoon’s Vacation and Independence Day is now making them for social media instead of the multiplex.

      On Monday, Quaid posted a series of clips that featured him, with his signature Santa Claus-like beard, screaming directly at the camera about the email leak plaguing the Democratic Party, which kicked off its convention in Philadelphia on Monday. While the vids are certainly entertaining, we’re not sure whether we should laugh or cry. What happened to Cousin Eddie?

    • DNC emails: Behind the scenes look at care of big donors
    • Former Dem faith director condemns plot to attack Sanders’ religion

      The former director of Faith Outreach for the Democratic Party “absolutely” condemns an alleged plot by a Democratic operative to undermine Bernie Sanders by questioning his religion.

      “I can certainly say from first-hand experience that I was part of a campaign where it was a solemn vow in no way, shape or form to use faith as a wedge issue,” Rev. Dr. Derrick Harkins, who also served as an adviser to President Obama, told the Washington Examiner.

      His remarks, which came as he spoke Monday on a “Faith Council” panel hosted as part of the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, were made in reference to his role campaigning in 2012 against former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney.

    • Leaked DNC Email Mocks Past Accusations Of Weak Cybersecurity
    • What We Know So Far About WikiLeaks’ #DNCLeaks

      Commonly asked questions and answers about WikiLeaks’ #DNCLeaks as the Democratic National Convention kicks off.

    • Facebook Admits It Blocked Links To Wikileaks DNC Emails

      Facebook Chief Security Officer says the company has fixed the error, after receiving heavy criticism from WikiLeaks.

      This isn’t the first time Facebook has accidentally blocked high profile news events on the platform. Earlier this month, Facebook briefly removed video showing Philando Castile dying, covered in blood, moments after being shot by a police officer. Prior to that, the company admitted to removing a meme circulating about convicted Stanford rapist Brock Turner.

    • WikiLeaks fires off warning to MSNBC host

      WikiLeaks made waves on Friday by releasing a huge trove of internal emails from the Democratic National Committee (DNC).

      The hacked emails included what appears to be evidence of a concerted effort by DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz and other party officials to thwart the presidential campaign of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) during the primary season. Wasserman Schultz resigned Sunday and will serve as an honorary chair on presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton’s campaign instead.

      According to CNN, U.S. officials briefed on the investigation into the compromised DNC emails now suspect Russian hackers are part of a bigger effort targeting political organizations and Washington, D.C., think tanks.

      On ABC’s “This Week,” Clinton’s campaign manager, Robby Mook, said the emails were leaked right before the Democratic National Convention “by the Russians for the purpose of helping Donald Trump,” citing “experts.” Mook could not offer any evidence for the claim.

    • The Good TPP

      So Baby DonDon was reading all these stories about how Russia hacked the email system of the Democratic National Committee and this led to the ouster of DNC chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz. And I got nervous.

    • WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange: ‘No proof’ Russian intelligence responsible for DNC hack

      WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange says “there is no proof whatsoever” that Russian intelligence is behind the thousands of hacked emails from the Democratic National Committee that WikiLeaks released.

      “The real story is what these emails contain and they show collusion,” Assange said during an interview with NBC News that will air Monday night on “NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt.”

      While three cybersecurity experts told NBC that the DNC emails were hacked by Russian intelligence, Assange stressed that Wikileaks has not disclosed the source of the leak.

    • Julian Assange: Choosing Between Trump or Clinton is Like Picking Between Cholera or Gonorrhea

      Following the end of the Republican National Convention, Donald Trump has received a surge in his popularity. He’s now leading Hillary Clinton 44 to 39 percent in a four-way match-up, according to the most recent CNN poll. Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson received 9 percent, and Green Party candidate Dr. Jill Stein received 3 percent. But for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, the threat of a Donald Trump presidency doesn’t inspire him to back Hillary Clinton. When asked, Assange said: “You’re asking me, do I prefer cholera or gonorrhea?”

    • Leaked DNC emails reveal the inner workings of the party’s finance operation

      In the rush for big donations to pay for this week’s Democratic convention, a party staffer reached out to Tennessee donor Roy Cockrum in May with a special offer: the chance to attend a roundtable discussion with President Obama.

      Cockrum, already a major Democratic contributor, was in. He gave an additional $33,400. And eight days later, he was assigned a place across the table from Obama at the Jefferson Hotel in downtown Washington, according to a seating chart sent to the White House.

    • WikiLeaks emails: Pro-Clinton CNN political commentator pre-checked op-ed with DNC

      On May 18, CNN.com published a pro-Hillary Clinton op-ed by Maria Cardona, a CNN political commentator. Titled “Why Sanders must take the high road,” the piece was published in the aftermath of an out-of-control Nevada Democratic state party convention.

    • WikiLeaks blows up Clinton’s shot at smooth convention

      Before WikiLeaks struck, Hillary Clinton already had work to do at this week’s Democratic National Convention to unify her party.

      Now that task has become a lot more difficult. The weekend release by WikiLeaks of more than 19,000 hacked emails from Democratic National Committee staffers has provided embarrassing evidence of DNC favoritism toward Mrs. Clinton during the primaries – a bias long suspected by Bernie Sanders, the runner-up for the Democratic presidential nomination.

      The scandal led to the forced resignation Sunday of DNC chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz, who will step down after the convention.

    • Assange Slams Clinton Campaign, Says There Is No Evidence Putin Behind Wikileaks

      If the Russian government is behind the theft and release of embarrassing emails from the Democratic Party, as U.S. officials have suggested, it may reflect less a love of Donald Trump or enmity for Hillary Clinton than a desire to discredit the U.S. political system.

      A U.S. official who is taking part in the investigation said that intelligence collected on the hacking of Democratic National Committee emails released by Wikileaks on Friday “indicates beyond a reasonable doubt that it originated in Russia.”

    • Leaked DNC Memo Complains Gay Donor Is ‘Extremely High Maintenance’

      In an internal DNC memo published by WikiLeaks, one party staffer complained to colleagues that one of the party’s gay donors was just too high maintenance for her to handle.

      The leaked memo, which is titled “Close out memo” and dated April 22, 2016, was authored by DNC staffer Julia Lahl, who recaps much of the work done with the party’s LGBT Leadership Council. The memo contains information on dozens of donors — not all of which is positive.

    • Let’s Be Honest: The DNC Asked To Be Hacked With Passwords This Dumb

      Perhaps these passwords had been changed, but if they were anything remotely close to the above, they were no good.

    • Hillary’s Name Booed At Democratic Convention [VIDEO]

      At the start of the Democratic National Convention on Monday when chair Marcia Fudge mentioned Hillary Clinton’s name, the crowd promptly booed.

    • Leaked DNC Email Mocks Past Accusations Of Weak Cybersecurity

      A leaked email from a Democratic National Committee (DNC) staffer ridiculed reports from experts that the DNC and Republican National Convention had glaring cybersecurity issues.

      DNC staffer Eric Walker called a Buzzfeed article detailing the security weaknesses of the DNC “The dumbest thing I’ve ever read.” The email is dated May 5, 2016, just over two months before the Wikileak release of over 20,000 DNC emails.

    • [Satire] ‘Fear Not—She Means You No Harm,’ Says Elizabeth Warren, Revealing Docile Hillary Clinton To Crowd

      Sending terrified gasps through the audience as she pulled back a thick velvet curtain onstage to reveal the formidable politician, Massachusetts senator Elizabeth Warren assured the thousands of progressive onlookers at the Democratic National Convention Monday night that the docile Hillary Clinton standing before them meant them no harm. “Ladies and gentlemen, there is no need to fear this candidate, for despite her menacing reputation, she will not attack you or your progressive movement,” said Warren, who then wowed those in attendance by signaling for the compliant Clinton to repeat a series of talking points about regulating financial institutions in an effort to prove that the presumptive Democratic nominee could easily be trained and was not roused into a horrible frenzy by the presence of radical reforms. “Despite the tales you may have heard, she is nothing but a tame, pragmatic Democrat. The terror she stirs inside you belies her true gentle nature. I assure you she is no threat to the policies you hold most dear.” At press time, Clinton had broken free from her iron restraints, ripped off both of Warren’s arms, and tossed the senator’s body into the crowd.

    • DNC sought to hide details of Clinton funding deal

      Leaked emails show the Democratic National Committee scrambled this spring to conceal the details of a joint fundraising arrangement with Hillary Clinton that funneled money through state Democratic parties.

      During the three-month period when the DNC was working to spin the situation, state parties kept less than one half of one percent of the $82 million raised through the arrangement — validating concerns raised by campaign finance watchdogs, state party allies and Bernie Sanders supporters.

      The arrangement, called the Hillary Victory Fund, allowed the Clinton campaign to seek contributions of hundreds of thousands of dollars to attend extravagant fundraisers including a dinner at George Clooney’s house and a concert at Radio City Music Hall featuring Katy Perry and Elton John. That’s resulted in criticism for Clinton, who has made opposition to big money in politics a key plank in her campaign platform.

    • In Hacked D.N.C. Emails, a Glimpse of How Big Money Works

      Last October, a leading Democratic donor named Shefali Razdan Duggal emailed a sweetly worded but insistent list of demands to a staff member at the Democratic National Committee.

      Ms. Duggal wanted a reminder of how much she had raised for President Obama and the Democrats (the answer: $679,650) and whether it qualified her for the premium package of hotel rooms and V.I.P. invitations at the party’s convention in Philadelphia. She asked whether she could have an extra ticket to Vice President Joseph R. Biden’s holiday party, so she could bring her children. But most on her mind, it seemed, was getting access to an exclusive November gathering at the White House.

      “Not assuming I am invited…just mentioning/asking, if in case, I am invited :),” wrote Ms. Duggal, who was appointed by Mr. Obama to oversee the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and is married to a San Francisco financial executive. “Might you have an intel?”

    • Democratic National Committee chief resigns after hacked e-mails show anti-Sanders tone

      Late Friday, WikiLeaks published 20,000 internal e-mails from the Democratic National Committee acquired in a hacking attack last month. The dumped messages, including some that had a derisive tone toward primary candidate Bernie Sanders, roiled the Democratic Party on the eve of its convention and led to the resignation yesterday of DNC chief Debbie Wasserman Schultz.

      The DNC hack was discovered on June 14, and soon after, some evidence of a Russian connection was found. Now, the belief that the hack was sponsored by the Russian government on some level has been explicitly endorsed by Hillary Clinton’s campaign. Yesterday on CNN’s “State of the Union,” Clinton’s campaign manager, Robby Mook, said Russian hackers are explicitly trying to get Clinton’s opponent, Donald Trump, elected in November.

      “I don’t think it’s coincidental that these e-mails were released on the eve of our convention here, and I think that’s disturbing,” Mook told program host Jake Tapper. The leak took place just after the Republican Party changed its platform “to make it more pro-Russian,” Mook added.

    • Clinton and Kaine, #SoProgressive!

      Barack Obama will be the last President of the Democratic party. Hillary Clinton with her choice for Tim Kaine as VP has declared war to the Progressive side of her own party. Donald Trump could benefit from this situation by using a “divide and conquer” strategy. Clinton just made a Trump presidency more likely, because she choose to divide her party instead of trying to unite blue. Progressives are wise enough not to let Trump exploit this situation. Progressives are also wise enough to hold Clinton accountable for her decisions at the right time.

      It is up to Progressives to first defeat Trump, and then Clinton. This means with all the pain in their hearts Progressives will have to vote for Clinton. And not forget this declaration of war of Clinton, but wait with fighting Centrist Democrats until 2017. In a militant non-violent way; in the good tradition of Martin Luther King Jr.

    • Is the DNC Hack an Act of War?

      But the truth is that there is no public evidence whatsoever tying Russia to the hack. Attribution for cyberoperations of this sort is very tricky and tends to take some time.

    • DNC Emails Published by WikiLeaks Show Links to AFT and Common-Core Anxiety

      By now you’ve probably heard about the trove of emails to and from the Democratic National Committee that were released last week by WikiLeaks, an organization that publishes leaked documents to expose what it says is corruption and malfeasance by governments, as well as corporations.

      So what if any links do these emails reveal between the DNC and teachers’ unions in particular?

    • Will The FTC Investigate People & Companies Paid By Facebook To Use Facebook Live?

      In the last few months, Facebook Live has certainly become “a thing.” Launched just recently, it was suddenly everywhere — from the pure (but very viral) joy of Candace Payne and her Chewbacca mask to the live streaming of the tragic aftermath of Philando Castile being shot by a police officer in Minnesota. Of course, it appears that part of the reason why Facebook Live is getting so much usage isn’t necessarily that it’s a better product than its competitors, but rather that Facebook has been generously throwing around cash to all sorts of people and companies to get them to use the platform.

    • Emergency Censorship: Schultz Has Speaking Privilege Revoked by Clinton

      Just hours after the breaking news regarding the DNC’s hacked e-mail servers, it has been announced that chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz has been removed from the position of party chair and will now be revoked from participating at the convention.

    • The Democrats’ Second Email Problem
    • Heckled offstage, Wasserman Schultz now seeks re-election
    • Florida congresswoman faces harsh reception at Democratic National Convention
    • Sanders Delegates Slam Clinton For Hiring Wasserman Schultz
    • Clinton, Wasserman Schultz and the Wheezing Corpse of the Democratic Process Revealed

      Wikileaks over the last few days dumped tens of thousands of emails hacked from the Democratic National Committee (DNC) server.

      The disclosures of dirty tricks directed against Bernie Sanders contained in those emails are startling, and only add to the whirlpool of corruption and sleaze surrounding Hillary Clinton and the wheezing corpse of the democratic process.

    • Robert Kagan and Other Neocons Are Backing Hillary Clinton

      As Hillary Clinton puts together what she hopes will be a winning coalition in November, many progressives remain wary — but she has the war-hawks firmly behind her.

      “I would say all Republican foreign policy professionals are anti-Trump,” leading neoconservative Robert Kagan told a group gathered around him, groupie-style, at a “foreign policy professionals for Hillary” fundraiser I attended last week. “I would say that a majority of people in my circle will vote for Hillary.”

      As the co-founder of the neoconservative think tank Project for the New American Century, Kagan played a leading role in pushing for America’s unilateral invasion of Iraq, and insisted for years afterwards that it had turned out great.

    • Group of Bernie Sanders Delegates Object to Tim Kaine VP Pick — May Protest on Floor

      A group of Bernie Sanders delegates to the Democratic National Convention announced their discontent with the selection of Tim Kaine as the vice presidential nominee on Monday and signaled they might protest that decision on the convention floor.

      Calling themselves the Independent Bernie Delegates Network, the group includes 1,250 Sanders delegates — about two-thirds of the total Sanders delegate count — who have been organized by RootsAction.org and Progressive Democrats of America. The group is holding snap straw polls among its members to help inform options for its actions at the convention.

      In a survey of the delegates taken 10 days ago, just 3 percent said that Tim Kaine was an “acceptable” vice presidential choice for presumptive nominee Hillary Clinton, with 9 percent saying they were undecided, and 88 percent said the choice would not be acceptable.

    • “The Real Revolution Is Down the Street, to Your Left” — The Green Party Rallies at the Democratic Convention

      For many Bernie Sanders supporters, the move to the Green Party’s Jill Stein was easily laid out. On Monday afternoon, hours before their candidate took the Democratic convention stage to reiterate his support for Hillary Clinton to the boos of some of his own delegates, a young man with a loudspeaker directed protesters to a park down the road from the Wells Fargo Center.

      “The real revolution is down the street, to your left,” he told them, as others handed out “Jill 2016” posters to people still wearing their “Bernie 2016” shirts.

      As several hundred people sat on a grass field waiting for Stein, the vibe was as much Coachella as it was leftist political rally. The crowd — as with Sanders rallies, largely white — lit up joints and hung out under trees, as speakers called attendees comrades, shouted out indigenous movements in Central America and the boycott movement in Palestine, and spoke in Spanish about Jill being “the only revolutionary.”

      Stein, who took the stage in a sleeveless top and green scarf, introduced by Cornel West and hailed by a roaring crowd chanting “Jill not Hill,” welcomed Sanders supporters to her party, calling the move a “marriage made in heaven.”

    • The Two Intelligence Agency Theory of Handing Trump the Election

      Now, again, I’m not saying the Russians didn’t do this hack, nor am I dismissing the idea that they’d prefer Trump to Hillary. By far the most interesting piece of this is the way those with the documents — both the hackers and Wikileaks — held documents until a really awkward time for some awkward disclosures, with what may be worse to come.

      But discussions that want to make the case should explain several things: Which of the two agencies alleged to have hacked DNC are behind the operation — or are they both, even though they weren’t, at least according to eh report that everyone is relying on without question, apparently cooperating? How certain can they be that the GRU is Guccifer, and if Guccifer is supposed to be a false flag why was it so incompetently done? What explains Guccifer’s sort of bizarre strategy along the way, encompassing both Wikileaks (an obvious one) and The Hill?

      Again, I absolutely don’t put this kind of thing beyond Putin. Russia has used hacking to influence outcomes of elections and authority in various countries in the past and the only thing new here is that 1) we wouldn’t already be playing the other side and 2) we’re big and can fight back. But the story, thus far, is more complex than being laid out.

    • Bernie Sanders Left Delegates With No Way to Fight But Boo

      The first night of the Democratic National Convention featured rousing tributes to Hillary Clinton, blistering critiques of Donald Trump – and a chorus of boos from Bernie Sanders delegates at invocations to vote for Clinton, even when it came from Sanders himself.

      Many commentators wondered why the Sanders delegates persisted in their protest, weeks after their nominee had conceded the election to presumptive nominee Hillary Clinton.

      The answer may rest in a step that Sanders himself took.

      In the lead-up to the convention, the Sanders campaign worked with both the Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee to help write the party’s platform. Those meetings featured debates between the Sanders and Clinton teams, and while there was progress on many issues, there were many more where Team Sanders suffered defeats – including opposition to the Trans-Pacific Partnership and Israel’s occupation of the Palestinians, banning fracking, and enacting a carbon tax.

    • “The People Want Bernie” — Sanders Supporters Protest Hillary Clinton Nomination at DNC

      If the Democratic nominee were chosen by those who showed up in the streets of Philadelphia to protest the convention, there would be one uncontested winner. “The people want Bernie,” read a sign at a rally Sunday that drew the same enamored crowds that turned out for the Vermont senator along the primary trail. The sign summed up the general sentiment of the crowd, as the rally grew into the thousands and began marching from City Hall in 93-degree weather. As the DNC kicked off, downtown Philadelphia was all about Bernie.

      Hillary Clinton’s name and image showed up mostly in signs and chants saying “Never Hillary,” “Warlord,” and “Hell no, DNC, we won’t vote for Hillary.” Last week’s DNC email leaks and the ensuing party scandal spilled into the streets, leaving Bernie supporters bitter and upset, and prompting calls for a “DemExit” from the party. Using the same slogans seen at the Republican convention in Cleveland, some Bernie supporters sported “Hillary for Prison” shirts.

    • On Day One of the Democratic Convention, the Boos Have It

      Sanders backers got some of the concessions they wanted from the Democratic National Committee. This year, 700 superdelegates, who are not bound by state voters, helped give Clinton a decisive edge over Sanders in the primary campaign. In the 2020 election, that number will be reduced to 250. The DNC also agreed to appoint a commission to study the possibility of opening up the party’s primaries to Republican and independent voters, another one of Sanders’s complaints.

    • EXCLUSIVE: WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange on Releasing DNC Emails That Ousted Debbie Wasserman Schultz

      WikiLeaks founder and editor-in-chief Julian Assange joins us from London about their release of nearly 20,000 emails revealing how the Democratic Party favored Hillary Clinton and worked behind the scenes to discredit and defeat Bernie Sanders. This comes as the Democratic National Convention is opening today in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, amid massive party turmoil. The DNC chair, Florida Congressmember Debbie Wasserman Schultz, has resigned following the leak. The emails also reveal a close relationship between mainstream media outlets and the DNC.

    • If Russian Intelligence Did Hack the DNC, the NSA Would Know, Snowden Says

      As my colleague Glenn Greenwald told WNYC on Monday, while there may never be conclusive evidence that the Democratic National Committee was hacked by Russian intelligence operatives to extract the trove of embarrassing emails published by WikiLeaks, it would hardly be shocking if that was what happened.

    • Sanders Delegates Push DNC to Reform Anti-Democratic Superdelegates
    • Florida Town Proposes a Ban on Super PACs—What Could Happen?

      It could have seemed like a singular act of defiance to abolish super PACs in one Florida town. Members of the City Council in St. Petersburg approved 6-1 today a motion to consider an ordinance that would limit the amount donors can give to groups that support or oppose candidates in local elections.

      The ordinance, if passed later this year, would directly affect only elections in St. Petersburg. But it’s part of a far-reaching legal strategy to reduce the influence of money in politics by abolishing super PACs—groups that can take unlimited amounts of money from donors to spend in political campaigns—at the national level.

      “This is a serious issue in our country and it has a corrosive effect on our elections and in our democratic process,” said Darden Rice, vice chair of the City Council. “But we are going to have to tackle it on all levels—from our city halls all the way up to the Supreme Court.”

  • Censorship/Free Speech

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • The Internet Of Things Is a Security And Privacy Dumpster Fire And The Check Is About To Come Due

      If you’re a long-standing reader of Techdirt, you know we’ve well documented the shitshow that is the “internet of things.” It’s a sector where countless companies were so excited to develop, market and sell new “smart” appliances, they couldn’t be bothered to embrace even the most rudimentary security and privacy standards once these devices were brought online. The result is an endless stream of stories about refrigerators, TVs, thermostats or other “smart” devices that are busy hemorrhaging personal data, inadvertently advertising that sometimes the smart option — is actually the dumb one.

      This systemic incompetence has now fused with a cultural disdain for more modern consumer privacy protections. The end result has been an obvious uptick in concern about how much data is now being collected by even childrens’ toys like Barbie dolls, something that last year’s Vtech hack illustrated isn’t just empty fear mongering. Convincing parents who already find technology alienating has proven to be difficult, as is attempting to craft intelligent regulation that protects kids’ playtime babbling from being aggressively monetized, without hindering emerging sector innovation and profits.

      To that end, the Family Online Safety Institute and the Future of Privacy Forum held a presentation last week (you can find the full video here) where analysts and experts argued, among other things, that privacy policies need to be significantly simplified and modernized for an era where a child’s doll can profoundly impact the privacy of countless people. It has been, needless to say, an uphill climb.

    • Malicious computers caught snooping on Tor-anonymized Dark Web sites

      The trust of the Tor anonymity network is in many cases only as strong as the individual volunteers whose computers form its building blocks. On Friday, researchers said they found at least 110 such machines actively snooping on Dark Web sites that use Tor to mask their operators’ identities.

      All of the 110 malicious relays were designated as hidden services directories, which store information that end users need to reach the “.onion” addresses that rely on Tor for anonymity. Over a 72-day period that started on February 12, computer scientists at Northeastern University tracked the rogue machines using honeypot .onion addresses they dubbed “honions.” The honions operated like normal hidden services, but their addresses were kept confidential. By tracking the traffic sent to the honions, the researchers were able to identify directories that were behaving in a manner that’s well outside of Tor rules.

    • Privacy – why is it mostly a buzzword?

      Nowadays even mainstream media is full with privacy related concerns. Ever since the Snowden leaks, people are aware that they are watched by different governmental agencies in the US and around the world. We give up our privacy for cheap / free on-line services, like Gmail. Facebook knows more about us than our own parents. Pokemon Go is a location-based game, therefore its creators know the location of about a hundred million players around the world. Lenovo has installed privacy-threatening bloatware to Windows machines using the BIOS.

      [...]

      The use of open hardware can help to avoid ugly surprises, for example in case of Lenovo. There are many definitions of open hardware. The simplest definition is that it does not require a binary blob loaded under Linux to run. I find this definition a bit too broad, however, such hardware is still difficult to find. Many x86 PC hardware belongs to this category.

      Hardware can be open by having all information to rebuild the same hardware or to perform some modifications to the design on our own available. For example, Novena has all of its design sources online. It can also be open on the firmware side, like u-boot on most ARM developer boards.

      While most open hardware efforts involve underpowered older parts, there are some notable exceptions. The Librem 2-in-1 tablets from Purism are blob-free and have a privacy-oriented Linux-based operating system. Raptor Engineering with its POWER-8-based Talos Secure Workstation goes even further with its schematics and firmware being fully open and auditable. In addition to this, its performance beats anything running on an x86 CPU.

    • Privacy International releases new tranche of previously secret documents shedding further light on Government mass surveillance

      Previously secret official documents, containing new revelations about the Government’s mass surveillance regime, have today been disclosed as a result of litigation brought by Privacy International against the Intelligence Agencies (MI5, MI6, GCHQ). These documents shed further light on the secretive bulk data collection regime operating under section 94 of the Telecommunications Act 1984 and the Bulk Personal Data-set regime.

    • Nonagenarian model citizen wants secret surveillance data on him deleted

      A 91-year-old civil liberties campaigner, John Catt, is taking his fight to have police surveillance records of his peaceful participation in protests deleted to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR).

      Catt is classified by UK police as a “domestic extremist,” even though he has no criminal record. His name was added to a secret national database run by the UK’s National Public Order Intelligence Unit. It contains details of his attendance at over 80 lawful demonstrations with his daughter, including their appearance and slogans on their T-shirts.

    • Researchers discover 110 snooping Tor nodes

      In a period spanning 72 days, two researchers from Northeastern University have discovered at least 110 “misbehaving” and potentially malicious hidden services directories (HSDirs) on the Tor anonymity network.

    • Police seek to unlock murder victim’s phone using 3D replica of fingertips

      Computer science professor Anil Jain spends most of his time researching and improving biometric systems, like fingerprint scanners and facial recognition software. Last month, however, law enforcement agents approached the Michigan State University academic with an unusual request: to create a 3D-printed replica of a dead man’s finger.

      Police needed the prosthetic digit to try and unlock a murder victim’s smartphone, protected by a fingerprint scanner instead of a password.

      “The authorities think that unlocking the phone could give them the identity of the murderer,” Jain said. “We are doing our social duty to assist in a criminal investigation.”

      Law enforcement agents had seen a YouTube demonstration of a technique developed by Jain’s lab which could transform fingerprint scans into fake fingertips that could fool the sensors on smartphones.

    • Suspect required to unlock iPhone using Touch ID in second federal case

      A second federal judge has ruled that a suspect can be compelled to unlock their iPhone using their fingerprint in order to give investigators access to data which can be used as evidence against them. The first time this ever happened in a federal case was back in May, following a District Court ruling in 2014.

    • Canadian Teens Cause an International Incident Playing Pokémon Go

      Two Canadian youngsters distracted by playing Pokémon Go accidentally crossed the border into the U.S. and had to be apprehended in Montana by federal agents, officials said Friday.

      The U.S. Customs and Border Protection said agents found the pair of juveniles illegally entering the U.S. last Thursday by foot. The two were “unaware of their surroundings” while playing the popular game on their cellphones.

      “Both juveniles were so captivated by their Pokémon Go games that they lost track of where they were,” U.S. Customs and Border Protection spokesman Michael Rappold said in a statement.

    • Yahoo Ordered to Show How It Recovered ‘Deleted’ Emails

      Just what kind of email retentions powers does Yahoo have? According to a policy guide from the company, Yahoo cannot recover emails that have been deleted from a user’s account—simple as that. If the email is in a user’s account, it’s fair game, and Yahoo can even give law enforcement the IP address of whatever computer is being used to send said email.

      Or, at least, that’s what Yahoo has said. A magistrate judge from the Northern District of California has ordered Yahoo to produce documents, as well as a witness for deposition, related to the company’s ability to recover seemingly deleted emails in a UK drug case.

      As Motherboard reports, a UK defendant was convicted—and is currently serving an extra 20-year prison sentence—as part of a conspiracy to import drugs into the United Kingdom. He’s currently appealing the conviction, in part because the means by which Yahoo recovered the emails in question allegedly violate British law.

    • Commission plans export controls for surveillance technology

      Technology companies may face stricter licensing requirements to export products that could be used to violate human rights, as part of a change to EU rules.

      The European Commission is set to propose controversial measures in September that may force firms to go through lengthy approval processes when they export technologies including location tracking devices, biometrics and surveillance equipment.

      A draft proposal, obtained by EurActiv.com, would require export controls for cyber-surveillance technologies under a revised EU law that covers so-called dual-use goods that can either be used as weapons or for civil purposes.

      Technology firms are worried the change will make it harder to export a broad range of common products like smartphones because they can track users’ locations.

      “You can’t make suspects out of the whole branch for items that are harmless. It will overwhelm the licensing authorities,” one industry source said.

    • Feds try to forcefully search Wall Street Journal reporter’s phone

      A Wall Street Journal reporter was detained by federal agents at the Los Angeles airport who demanded to confiscate her two cell phones — and was surprised to find that border agents have the authority to do that.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Thousands of Turkish soldiers ‘RAPED and STARVED’ as punishment for failed Turkey coup

      The human rights group said it has “credible evidence” that around 10,000 Turkish soldiers face the severe punishments for their part of the failed military coup against president Erdogan.

      Victims are being held in makeshift cells, such as stables and sports halls, and are being tortured and held in stress positions for 48 hours, the group said.

    • Turkey Cracks Down on Journalists, Its Next Target After Crushing Coup
    • teleSUR Host Abby Martin Released After Violent Arrest at DNC

      Martin and her producer, Mike Prysner, got into an Uber transport to try to get to the location and were dropped off by the Uber driver at the DNC site where only those with credentials are allowed.

      The police stopped them and told them to leave the area. As they were complying and leaving the area, another police officer grabbed Martin, tore her dress and arrested her for “disorderly conduct.”

    • 40 HOUSE DEMOCRATS URGE SECRETARY KERRY TO CALL FOR DEMOCRACY IN BRAZIL

      U.S. Representatives John Conyers, Jr. (D-MI), Marcy Kaptur (D-OH), Keith Ellison (D-MN) and more than thirty other members of the House of Representatives sent a letter today to Secretary of State John Kerry, urging him to refrain from gestures that could be interpreted as supportive of Brazil’s interim government and to instead “express strong concern” regarding the impeachment process targeting Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff and to “call for the protection of constitutional democracy and the rule of law in Brazil.” The letter is the first Congressional letter expressing concern over Brazil’s democracy in more than two decades.

      The letter notes that the legal basis for the ongoing impeachment of Brazil’s first female elected president has been widely contested and that there is compelling evidence showing that key promoters of the impeachment campaign are seeking to remove Rousseff in order to contain the investigation of corruption cases and impose a far-right policy agenda that was rejected by Brazilian voters in the country’s most recent elections.

    • Hate crime levels are rising in England and Wales. How bad is it where you live?

      The Bureau sent Freedom of Information Requests to every police force in England and Wales, asking them to provide complete outcome data for all hate crimes recorded in 2014/15 and, separately, 2015/16.

      Forty police forces responded to our request. Because of discrepancies in their recording systems, particularly among smaller forces, we weren’t able to perform detailed comparisons of each of them. However, we are able to map changes in recorded hate crime at a regional level.

      There are significant regional difference, but the vast majority have seen increases in recorded hate crime. West Yorkshire, which has a large Muslim population, has seen the greatest rise, with recorded hate crimes up 69% from the previous year. Out of the 40 respondents, six forces have seen a fall. To see how your region compares, hover your mouse over the map and click for the data.

      The data obtained by the Bureau revealed that the chances of police or prosecutors taking action against hate crime offenders have plummeted over the last year. Victims of hate crime now have only a one in four chance of seeing a perpetrator charged, cautioned or dealt with in some other way by the police – down from one in three in the previous year.

    • Turkey’s president is using the failed coup as an excuse to snuff out secular democracy

      In the immediate aftermath of the Turkish military’s attempted coup on July 15, the international community responded with relief. While many people within Turkey and outside of it are no fans of president Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s authoritarian regime, the bloodshed and chaos that would have resulted from a government overthrow seemed like the worse of two options.

      But a little more than a week after the failed coup, it’s clear that the Turkish president is taking advantage of it in an attempt to gain absolute power in Turkey, enacting draconian measures and targeting any person or institution who might act as a voice of dissent. As Turkey moves toward dictatorial rule, here’s what the international community needs to know.

    • Non-Spanish-Speaking Teacher Sues Miami-Dade After She’s Denied Job Teaching Spanish

      An English-speaking teacher says the Miami-Dade County School Board discriminated against her by not hiring her for a job. The position? Teaching an hour of Spanish per day.

      Tracy Rosner, a third-grade teacher at Coral Reef Elementary, filed a federal lawsuit in the Southern District of Florida last week claiming employment discrimination on the basis of her race — which is white.

      Miami-Dade School Board attorneys have not filed a formal response in court and did not return calls for comment Thursday. We’ll update this post if they provide one.

    • Yavuz Baydar: The largest clampdown in modern Turkey’s history
    • The internet saved Turkey’s president from a coup. Now he’s doubling down on censorship.
    • Letter to US Government Officials Concerning Recent Events in Turkey

      We, the undersigned, condemn the actions taken by the Turkish government in violation of human rights and the rule of law. The principle of independence and impartiality of the judiciary—together with freedom of the media—is at the foundation of the rule of law and democracy. The political independence and the academic freedom of the educational profession is essential for free societies.

    • Arab Street Shocked as Saudi Delegation Visits Israel

      The Egyptian news site the Arab Observer Network reports that the visit to Israel of a former Saudi military intelligence officer, Gen. Anwar Eshki, came as a body blow to the Arab in the street. He conducted several meetings with Israeli officials last week, along with a “high level” Saudi delegation.

      Saudi Arabia and Israel, the old hegemons in the Middle East, are increasingly coordinating to confront a rising Iran.

      Eshki met with Dore Gold, the general director of the Israeli foreign ministry, as well as Israeli members of parliament. On his agenda was restarting the Israel-Palestine peace process on the basis of the 2002 Saudi/ Arab League plan, which calls for a two-state solution on the basis of 1967 borders.

    • Robot-Delivered Death in Dallas

      The Dallas police decision to use a robot-delivered bomb to kill the cornered shooter blamed for murdering five police officers raises troubling legal, technological and public-safety questions, writes Marjorie Cohn.

    • Do Black Kids Matter in Memphis?

      PREA is the Prison Rape Elimination Act, sweeping federal legislation targeting the nation’s prisons and jails. Passed in 2003, the law was aimed in part at places like this — facilities for youth who present a danger to others or themselves. But while PREA has proven hard to implement, that’s not why I was there that day. Less than a year after Shelby County Sheriff Bill Oldham took over the detention center that sits directly above juvenile court, officials were running dangerously afoul of a different federal intervention — one designed specifically for Shelby County.

    • NSA and CIA Hacked Enrique Peña Nieto before the 2012 Election

      Part of the frenzied discussion about the possibility that Russia hacked the DNC includes claims that the US would never do something so dastardly.

      Except that the Foreign Government Section 702 Certificate makes it clear the NSA is authorized to spy on foreign based political organizations even within the US (and would have far more liberty under EO 12333). Among the parties specifically authorized for targeting in 2010 was Pakistan’s People Party, the incumbent party in a nominal ally.

    • Israel’s Tightening But Weakening Grip

      Zionism’s range of influence is shrinking. One can see this progression worldwide. At a popular level the Israelis have lost control of the historical storyline of Israel-Palestine. They may teach their own citizens their version of the story, the one wherein the Jews have a divine and/or historical right to all of Palestine’s territory. But beyond their fellow Zionists and the loony Christian Right, no one else believes this story. Significantly, an increasing number of Jews no longer accept it either.

      None of this means that the Zionists are not still influential. Yet their influence no longer has a broad popular base. It is now largely restricted to Western government circles. Of course, that is still impressive, and such lobby power does a lot of damage in the West through the corruption of elites and the perversion of state policies. We are seeing examples of this in the many stories of American police officers being trained by Israelis while (coincidently?) episodes of police brutality in the U.S. multiply.

    • Federal “Blue Lives Matter” Legislation Picks up Steam, Advances Myth that Cops are Under Threat

      If Donald Trump’s “Law and Order” convention is any indication, Republicans in Congress could soon try to amend federal law to equate violence against police officers to assaults fueled by bigotry.

      The Blue Lives Matter Act of 2016, which was introduced to the House in April, gained two co-sponsors in the two weeks prior to the Republican Convention. The bill would amend Chapter 13 of Title 10 of the US Code to “make an attack on a police officer a hate crime.”

      Trump’s convention focused heavily on the idea that crime is out of control, in part, because police are on the receiving end of unfair criticism.

      “I have a message to every last person threatening the peace on our streets and the safety of our police,” Trump said during his speech on Thursday. “When I take the oath of office next year, I will restore law and order our country.”

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • EC approves EUR 4 billion Italian broadband plan

      In June, the European Commission approved Italy’s high-speed broadband plan to deliver fast Internet access to 7300 of the country’s 8000 municipalities. The EUR 4 billion plan will build a country-wide network infrastructure, improving Internet access for citizens, businesses, and public administrations – including schools and hospitals.

    • Poland studies ways to improve broadband for SMEs

      Poland’s Ministry of Digitisation is studying how it can best help the country’s small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) that wish to offer broadband Internet access. Recently, the ministry met with banking organisations and SME telecom trade groups, to discuss options for financing infrastructure upgrades, including possibilities for European co-financing.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • How A Supreme Court Case On Cheerleader Costumes & Copyright Could Impact Prosthetic Hands And Much, Much More

      Every time this case has come up (and it’s been bouncing around the courts for a while now), I’ve been meaning to write about it, but am only just getting around to it now that organizations are filing amici briefs with the Supreme Court. The case is Star Athletica v. Varsity Brands, and it sounds kind of stupid: the issue is that both companies make cheerleading uniforms, and Varsity Brands accused Star of copying its uniform designs. Star argued that as a “useful article” a cheerleading uniform is not subject to copyright protection, and it won at the district court level. The 6th Circuit, however, reversed that ruling about a year ago, saying that while the uniform design may not be copyrightable, elements within the design (stripes, zigzags, chevrons, etc.) could be.

      This is problematic for a variety of reasons. Clothing and fashion have never been considered covered by copyright for many good reasons, and it’s actually helped create a more innovative, more competitive, thriving market for fashion. There’s a reason why copyright is not allowed on “useful articles,” and it’s worked. We shouldn’t suddenly be changing those rules now.

      The Supreme Court has agreed to hear the case, and various amici have begun filing their briefs. You can also see Star Athletica’s own filing as well, which focuses (as it should) on the narrow technical question regarding “separability” and whether or not you can “separate” the design that’s being claimed for copyright from the article itself. That is, you could argue that a square painting done on a T-shirt could be “separable” from the T-shirt and thus get a copyright, while the T-shirt itself could not. Here, however, we’re talking about basic elements of a cheerleading uniform such as stripes and color patterns that help identify it as a cheerleading uniform.

    • Copyrights

      • New Piracy Kings And KickassTorrents Alternatives — The Pirate Bay And ExtraTorrent

        After the demise of KickassTorrents, internet pirates are looking for alternatives.

      • Katcr.co: Original KickassTorrents Community Is Back, Without Torrents

        Some KickassTorrents employees have grouped to form a KickassTorrents community website that has become a home to the loyal users. Named Katcr.co, this website doesn’t offer any torrent links. Many original staffers and team members are present on the website that are acting as moderators and admins of the forum.

      • IsoHunt Settles The Last Of Its Lawsuits, Laughably Agrees To ‘Pay’ Recording Industry $66 Million

        You may recall that almost three years ago, the BitTorrent search engine IsoHunt agreed to shut down and to “pay” Hollywood studios $110 million. The number was a joke, because IsoHunt and its creator didn’t have $110 million. It’s just that the legacy copyright players always like to end these lawsuits with a giant headline grabbing number, while they’ve quietly agreed to accept very little, if any, actual money (and whatever money they do receive is not then distributed to any artists). The Sony email hack a few years back revealed that the industry does this frequently in closing out its lawsuits against search engines. IsoHunt was more or less forced into that settlement after the MPAA misled the court about IsoHunt’s actions. But the court bought it, and the IsoHunt court rulings have created some really unfortunate precedents. It’s the case that the legacy players always point to, because it’s the only case to find that a search engine platform has “red flag knowledge” of copyright infringement without having specific knowledge of infringing files.

        The case against Hollywood, however, wasn’t the only case IsoHunt was fighting. It also was fighting the recording industry up in Canada in a case that began with IsoHunt filing for declaratory judgment that it didn’t infringe in Canada, all the way back in 2008. The Canadian Recording Industry Association (CRIA), then sued back — but did everything it could to keep the case out of the news because it was also fighting for new copyright laws in Canada… and part of its argument was that the existing Canadian copyright laws were inadequate to go after IsoHunt and similar sites.

      • 20th Century Fox Accuses Kim Dotcom of Asset Freeze Breach

        20th Century Fox has accused Kim Dotcom of breaching a freeze on his assets imposed following his arrest in 2012. According to claims made by the studio in the New Zealand High Court, Dotcom took a US$154,000 loan from his lawyers on behalf of a trust for his children.

      • KAT Takedown Triggers Traffic Spike at Torrent Sites

        Earlier this week KickassTorrents was taken down following a criminal investigation into the site’s alleged owner. Since then, millions of frequent users have taken refuge elsewhere. The Pirate Bay and ExtraTorrent are among the major beneficiaries, with the latter reporting an instant traffic spike of more than 300%.

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