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07.29.16

Links 29/7/2016: More Microsoft Problems and Layoffs, Bodhi Linux 4.0.0 Alpha Released

Posted in News Roundup at 10:25 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • Microsoft Watch

    • Microsoft to Cut 2,850 More Jobs in Exit From Phone Business [iophk: “and how many permatemps are also getting axed?” Ed: Lots of other layoffs for years now]

      Microsoft Corp. is more that doubling an earlier job cut plan, part of Chief Executive Officer Satya Nadella’s move to pare the company’s smartphone ambitions.

      Some 2,850 positions worldwide will be eliminated in fiscal 2017, the company said Thursday in a regulatory filing. That’s in addition to 1,850 job cuts, primarily in the smartphone hardware business and sales, announced in May.

    • Cortana removal will not be tolerated in Windows 10 Anniversary Update

      CORTANA IS taking over. The forthcoming Anniversary Update of Windows 10 has shown a new twist in Microsoft’s ‘do as we say’ attitude towards customers.

      It appears that the update, due for release on 2 August, just three days after the end of the free upgrade period for Windows 10, removes the ability to turn personal assistant bot Cortana off, reported PC World (not that one, the IDG one).

      In all fairness, the upshot of this is fairly minimal. Cortana butts into your computing only if it’s told to, and it’s very easy for it not to.

      However, the fact that it’s always on means that it’s always collecting metadata, and that might leave some people feeling a tad uncomfortable.

    • Microsoft faces two new lawsuits over aggressive Windows 10 upgrade tactics [Ed: more of the same, still…]

      Microsoft is facing two more lawsuits over the company’s questionable Windows 10 upgrade tactics. Both suits are seeking class-action status.

      The first suit was filed in U.S. District Court in Florida. It alleges that Microsoft’s Windows 10 upgrade prompts “violated laws governing unsolicited electronic advertisements,” as reported by The Seattle Times. The suit also says Microsoft’s tactics are against the Federal Trade Commission’s rules on deceptive and unfair practices.

      The second suit was filed in June in Haifa, Israel alleging that Microsoft installed Windows 10 on users’ computers without consent. Microsoft already paid out a $10,000 award in a previous U.S. suit over similar circumstances.

      Microsoft told the Seattle Times it believes the suits won’t succeed. The Times also reports that Microsoft said Windows 10 upgrades (the Times report called them “updates”) are a “choice, not a requirement.”

      The story behind the story: That’s quite a disingenuous statement considering that Microsoft violated the known behavior of the Windows interface to essentially trick people into upgrading.

    • Windows 10 pain: Reg man has 75 per cent upgrade failure rate

      As your humble HPC correspondent for The Register, I should probably be running Linux on the array of systems here at the home office suite. But I don’t. I’ve been a Microsoft guy since I bought my first computer way back in 1984.

      You, dear readers, can rip me for being a MStard, but it works worked well for my business and personal needs.

      I’ve had my ups and downs with the company, but I think I’ve received good value for my money and I’ve managed to solve every problem I’ve had over the years.

      Until yesterday, that is.

      Yesterday was the day that I marked on my calendar as “Upgrade to Windows 10 Day.” We currently have four systems in our arsenal here, two laptops and two desktops.

      The laptops are Lenovo R61 and W510 systems, and the desktops are a garden variety box based on an Asus P7P55D Pro motherboard. The other desktop is my beloved Hydra 2.0 liquid cooled, dual-processor, monster system based on the EVGA Classified SR-2 motherboard. These details turn out to be important in our story.

  • Server

    • MicroBadger and the Awesome Power of Container Labels

      Containers have the power to change infrastructure architecture, making it more secure and more energy efficient. This is because containerized applications can be started, stopped or juggled from machine to machine in seconds — far faster than applications can be moved on VMs or bare metal. That speed opens up the world to intelligent container-aware tools that can control what’s running in a data center in near real time.

      Combined with clever tooling, containers could help make data centers less static and more like an organic body: re-assigning resources or repelling threats as and when required.

      But for this vision to come about, those clever tools of the future need information. They need to know things like: is a particular containerized image mission critical? Does it contain a security flaw? Can it be safely stopped? Who should be paged if it crashes?

    • 7 Tips for SysAdmins Considering a Linux Foundation Training Certification

      Open source is the new normal for startups and large enterprises looking to stay competitive in the digital economy. That means that open source is now also a viable long-term career path.

      “It is important to start thinking about the career road map, and the pathway that you can take and how Linux and open source in general can help you meet your career goals,” said Clyde Seepersad, general manager of training at The Linux Foundation, in a recent webinar.

    • 3 Unique Takes on the Linux Terminal at Your Command

      When I first started on my journey with Linux, back in the late 1990s, there was one inevitability: the terminal. You couldn’t escape it. The command line was a part of your daily interaction with the open source platform and that was that. Today’s Linux is a much different beast. New and seasoned users alike can work with the platform and never touch the command line or terminal.

      But, on the off-chance you do want to take advantage of the power that is the command line, it’s good to know there are numerous options available, some of which offer unique takes on the task. Those are the terminals I want to highlight today—the ones that offer more than just the ability to enter a command. If you’re looking for a far more efficient interaction with your terminal and OS, or you’re looking for more flexibility with your terminal, one of these will certainly fit your needs.

    • OpsDev Is Coming

      OpsDev means that the dependencies of the various application components must be understood and modeled first before the development process begins.

    • One DevOps tool for all clouds: Cloudify

      Who doesn’t want one program to run multiple clouds? I know I do. Cloudify, an open-source orchestration software company, now claims it can support all the top five public clouds and Azure, OpenStack, and VMware, with its latest release, Cloudify 3.4.

    • 5 sysadmin horror stories

      The job ain’t easy. There are constantly systems to update, bugs to fix, users to please, and on and on. A sysadmin’s job might even entail fixing the printer (sorry). To celebrate the hard work our sysadmins do for us, keeping our machines up and running, we’ve collected five horror stories that prove just how scary / difficult it can be.

    • A guide to scientific computing system administration

      When developing applications for science there are times when you need to move beyond the desktop, but a fast, single node system may also suffice. In my time as a researcher and scientific software developer I have had the opportunity to work on a vast array of different systems, from old systems churning through data to some of the largest supercomputers on the planet.

  • Kernel Space

    • Telco central offices could be in for open source makeover

      The CORD Summit, hosted by the Open Networking Lab (On.Lab) and The Linux Foundation, promotes the use of technologies such as Network Functions Virtualization (NFV), software-defined networking (SDN) and the cloud “to bring datacenter economics and cloud agility to service providers’ Central Office.” CORD is kind of an acronym for Central Office Re-architected as a Datacenter, and is designed to benefit enterprise, residential and wireless networks. A mini version of this event was held in March as part of the broader Open Networking Summit.

    • Some of The Other Pull Requests Arriving For Linux 4.8 This Week

      I’ve already written more than a dozen various bits of information about the Linux 4.8 kernel this week covering the big pull requests / subsystem updates.

    • More Last Minute AMDGPU/Radeon Changes For Linux 4.8

      There already have been the main pull requests for the AMDGPU/Radeon DRM drivers for DRM-Next that in turn will land in Linux 4.8 next week.

    • Linux Kernel 3.14.74 LTS Has Updated Drivers, ARM, MIPS and x86 Improvements

      After informing the community about the availability of the Linux 4.6.5 and Linux 4.4.16 LTS kernel versions for GNU/Linux operating systems, Greg Kroah-Hartman published details about the seventy-fourth maintenance update for Linux 3.14 LTS.

    • Graphics Stack

      • X.Org Server 1.18.4 Brings over 60 Improvements to GNU/Linux Operating Systems

        A new maintenance update of the X.Org Server 1.18 display server software for GNU/Linux operating systems, version 1.18.4, has arrived with over 60 improvements.

        As usual, Adam Jackson was the one to make the announcement, and it looks like X.Org Server 1.18.4 comes approximately three and a half months after the release of the previous maintenance version, X.Org Server 1.18.3, promising to add lots of backports from the devel branch, primarily in XWayland, Glamor, and Kernel Mode Setting (KMS).

        However, looking at the internal changelog, we can notice that X.Org Server 1.18.4 introduces improvements for several other drivers and components, including, but not limited to, XQuartz, RandR, x86emu, XFree86, KDrive, xf86Crtc, EXA, GLX, DIX/PTraccel, XKB, as well as Xi.

      • Igalia’s Work On The Intel Mesa Driver The Past Year
      • DRM Text Mode Proposed As Alternative To FBDEV/FBCON

        There’s long been talk on killing FBDEV and getting rid of CONFIG_VT with a modern replacement making more use of DRM/KMS drivers, but so far none of those efforts have fully panned out.

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

  • Distributions

    • Enlightenment

      • Bodhi 4.0.0 Distro Enters Development, Alpha Out Now Based on Ubuntu 16.04 LTS

        Bodhi Linux developer Jeff Hoogland was proud to announce recently the release and general availability of the first Alpha milestone towards the Bodhi 4.0.0 operating system.

        Bodhi 4.0.0 Alpha is right on schedule, according to Mr. Hoogland, and it marks the start of the development cycle of the upcoming GNU/Linux distribution built around the lightweight and modern Moksha desktop environment, a continuation of the Enlightenment 17 window manager.

      • Bodhi Linux 4.0.0 Alpha released
      • Enlightenment 0.20.10 Is the Last in the Series, Users Urged to Upgrade to 0.21

        A new stable version of the Enlightenment 0.20 lightweight and modern desktop environment/window manager has arrived, Enlightenment 0.20.10, which is the last one in the series.

        Yes, you’re reading it right, the development cycle of the Enlightenment 0.20 series has come to an end, and if you’re still using this version on your GNU/Linux operating system, you are urged to either upgrade to the Enlightenment 0.20.10 maintenance release or move to the newest stable branch, Enlightenment 0.21.0.

    • New Releases

      • Homegrown Budgie Desktop Shows Off the Beauty – and Beastliness – of Solus Simplicity

        The Budgie desktop — and thus Solus itself — lacks the glitz and glitter found in more seasoned desktop environments. Animation is nonexistent. It also lacks any right-click menu finesse other than the ability to change background or settings.

        The Solus Project’s distro is very user-friendly, but experienced Linux users will need more optimized software and desktop functionality in the next release to be tempted to give up more advanced desktop flavors.

      • Parrot Security OS 3.1 Distro for Ethical Hackers Moves to Linux Kernel 4.6

        The guys over Parrot Security OS have announced that the first point release of the 3.x series of the Debian-based distribution designed for security professional and ethical hackers is now available for download.

    • OpenSUSE/SUSE

    • Red Hat Family

    • Debian Family

      • Contributing with Debian Recommendation System

        Hi, my name is Luciano Prestes, I am participating in the program Google Summer of Code (GSoC), my mentor is Antonio Terceiro, and my co-mentor is Tassia Camoes, both are Debian Developers. The project that I am contributing is the AppRecommender, which is a package recommender for Debian systems, my goal is to add a new strategy of recommendation to AppRecommender, to make it recommend packages after the user installs a new package with ‘apt’.

        At principle AppRecommender has three recommendation strategies, being them, content-based, collaborative and hybrid. To my work on GSoC this text explains two of these strategies, content-based and collaborative. Content-based strategy get the user packages and analyzes yours descriptions to find another Debian packages that they are similar to the user packages, so AppRecommender uses the content of user packages to recommender similar packages to user. The collaborative strategy compare the user packages with the packages of another users, and then recommends packages that users with similar profile have, where a profile of user is your packages. On her work, Tassia Camoes uses the popularity-contest data to compare the users profiles on the collaborative strategy, the popularity-contest is an application that get the users packages into a submission and send to the popularity-contest server and generates statistical data analyzing the users packages.

      • Looking for the artwork for the next Debian release

        Each release of Debian has a shiny new theme, which is visible on the boot screen, the login screen and, most prominently, on the desktop wallpaper.

        Debian plans to release Stretch next year. As ever, we need your help in creating its theme! You have the opportunity to design a theme that will inspire thousands of people while working in their Debian systems.

      • Derivatives

        • SteamOS 2.87 Arrives with Support for Nvidia GTX 1080/1070, AMD “Bonaire” GPUs

          Today, July 29, 2016, Valve announced the availability for download of a new stable version of its Debian-based GNU/Linux operating system designed for gaming, SteamOS 2.87.

          After being in the Beta stages of the development for the past two months, SteamOS 2.87 is now the latest stable and most advanced version of the gaming OS developed by Valve for personal computers and Steam Machines. It comes as a replacement for the previous stable release, SteamOS 2.70, announced back in April 2016.

          Prominent new features of SteamOS 2.87 include the availability of updated Nvidia and AMD Radeon graphics drivers, version 367.27 and AMDGPU-PRO 16.30 respectively, which now offer support for the recently announced Nvidia GTX 1080 and GTX 1070 GPUs, as well as for the “Bonaire” GPUs.

        • Canonical/Ubuntu

          • Mint 18 Xfce Imminent, Gmane.org Shutting Down

            Mint project lead Clement Lefebvre today said that Mint 18 Xfce is “almost ready” but KDE users will have to continue to wait. The second alpha in the Ubuntu 16.10 developmental cycle is available to crash testers as of today in Lubuntu, Ubuntu MATE and Ubuntu Kylin flavors only. In other news, the Gmane mailing list archive site is shutting down as the founder has grown weary with the hassles as well as a prolonged DDOS attack. Finally today, Carla Schroder shared her Linux story.

          • Chew on this: Ubuntu Core Linux comes to the uCRobotics Bubblegum-96 board

            Linux and other open source software have been in the news quite a bit lately. As more and more people are seeing, closed source is not the only way to make money. A company like Red Hat, for instance, is able to be profitable while focusing its business on open source.

            Ubuntu is one of the most popular Linux-based operating systems, and it is not hard to see why. Not only is it easy to use and adaptable to much hardware (such as SoC boards), but there is a ton of free support online from the Ubuntu user community too. Today, Canonical announces a special Ubuntu Core image for the uCRobotics Bubblegum-96 board.

          • Willing To Experience Linux? Try Ubuntu Demo Right Now In Your Browser

            If you are new to the world of Linux, you might not be knowing about online Ubuntu Linux demo website. If you are planning to make a switch to Linux, you can head over to this website and get familiar with Ubuntu Linux.

          • Ubuntu Touch takes a huge step towards Convergence in OTA-12

            Ubuntu has a very ambitious goal with Ubuntu Touch. It proposed an operating system that could work equally on any capable device, a smartphone that can truly be your computer, no holds barred. That was the promise of Convergence, which we took for a spin with the Meizu PRO 5 smartphone and, before that, the bq Aquaris M10 tablet. The results back then where disappointing yet promising. Ubuntu Touch, as it was when we reviewed these devices, still lacked that punch that would make you truly go “wow!”. But, unlike other operating systems, Ubuntu is fast evolving, and the latest OTA-12 brings much needed improvements to bring us closer to true Convergence.

          • Yakkety Yak Alpha 2 Released
          • Ubuntu 16.04.1 LTS Available for System76 PCs, Ubuntu 15.10 Users Must Upgrade

            As reported by us last week, Canonical announced the first point release of the Ubuntu 16.04 LTS (Xenial Xerus), and it looks like the guys over System76 were pretty quick to push the update to users’ computers.

            Ubuntu 16.04.1 LTS is the latest, most advanced version of the Xenial Xerus operating system, and we recommend that you upgrade to it as soon as possible if you didn’t do it already. This is an important point release because it also opens up the upgrade path for users of the Ubuntu 14.04.4 LTS (Trusty Tahr) distribution.

          • A Reminder Of Why I Hate Ubuntu

            Yesterday I was reminded why I hate Ubuntu. I suddenly was unable to SSH into Odroid-C2. From Odroid-C2 I could do everything as normal. It turned out the IP address had changed despite my HOST declaration in Beast’s DHCP server and Odroid-C2 being set to use DHCP, or so I thought. Nope. There was a dhclient.conf file in Odroid-C2 which requested everything and the kitchen sink from DHCP, stuff I had no use of like netbios… The man page for the dhclient.conf file says it all: “The require statement lists options that must be sent in order for an offer to be accepted. Offers that do not contain all the listed options will be ignored. There is no default require list.”

          • Flavours and Variants

            • Hands-On: Upgrading Linux Mint 17.3 to 18

              The first thing to do is read through the tutorial very carefully – and preferably more than once. This is not a trivial GUI procedure like the Fedora upgrade was, or like many of the previous Mint upgrades have been. It requires use of CLI commands, and those commands produce positively scary amounts of text output. It takes a relatively long time to perform the complete upgrade by Linux standards (it’s done in a flash by Windows upgrade standards), and it is not entirely automated, so it will require manual intervention numerous times along the way.

            • [Mint] Monthly News – July 2016
  • Devices/Embedded

Free Software/Open Source

Leftovers

  • Science

    • Interference Mitigation in the E5a Galileo Band Using an Open-Source Simulator
    • Access to vocational education reduces crime—new research

      The crime rate, especially drug crime, decreases significantly when more 16-44 year olds have access to affordable Vocational Education and Training, (VET) according to a new University of Melbourne report.

      Drug crime rate decreased 13 per cent when more people had access to a publicly-funded place in VET. The research also recorded a five percent and 11 per cent decrease in personal and property crime respectively, including assault, theft and burglary.

      Report author, Dr Cain Polidano from the Melbourne Institute found that the extra public funding of VET (TAFE and private colleges) reduced the costs of crime.

      “We found that for every extra dollar spent on VET, the community saved 18 cents in avoided crime costs, such as lost productivity, health and rehabilitation costs,” said Dr Polidano.

    • Man and Bird Chat While Honey Hunting

      The Yao people of Mozambique have cooperated with small birds called honeyguides for generations to find bees nests dripping with sweet, calorie-dense honey. Now, researchers from the University of Cambridge and South African institutions have found that the partnership is more complex than the human hunters simply following the birds to the hives. The team’s results, published last week (July 22) in Science, suggest that Yao hunters vocally communicate with the birds in order to recruit them into the quest for honey.

      The key to the mutually beneficial relationship—humans extract honey and leave exposed beeswax for the birds to eat—is a “brrrr-hm” sound that Yao hunters make when they’re on the hunt for honey. “They told us that the reason they make this ‘brrrr-hm’ sound, when they’re walking through the bush looking for bees’ nests, is that it’s the best way of attracting a honeyguide—and of maintaining a honeyguide’s attention once it starts guiding you,” study coauthor Claire Spottiswoode of Cambridge told BBC News. “In particular, we wanted to distinguish whether honeyguides responded to the specific information content of the ‘brrr-hm’ call—which, from a honeyguide’s point of view, effectively signals ‘I’m looking for bees’ nests’—or whether the call simply alerts honeyguides to the presence of humans in the environment.”

      Spottiswoode and colleagues made recordings of the “brrrr-hm” sound and other noises, including the Yao word for “honey” and the sounds of hunters shouting their own names. They then followed Yao honey gatherers on dozens of hunts playing these different sounds through a loudspeaker. The researchers found that hunts accompanied by the “brrrr-hm” call recruited a honeyguide more than 60 percent of the time. Hunts during which other sounds were played only recruited honeyguides about 25 percent of the time. Playing the “brrrr-hm” call also tripled the chances of successfully finding a beehive during these hunts.

      “This is an important paper which experimentally verifies what Yao honey hunters say is true: that honeyguides are attracted by the specialized calls honey-hunters use,” Brian Wood, an anthropologist at Yale University who was not involved in the work, told Smithsonian.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • When Is a Drug Not a ‘Drug of Any Kind’? When It Kills 16 Times More Often Than Opioid ODs

      It’s not mere pedantry to note that cigarettes are, obviously, a “drug of any kind.” They’re actually a drug that kills far more people in the US than opioid overdoses—480,000 per year, according to the CDC, vs. 28,647 for opioid ODs.

      And it’s not just because more people smoke cigarettes: With approximately 2.3 million people addicted to opioid painkillers and to heroin, 28,647 ODs produces an annual death rate of 1.2 percent—the same death rate you get from dividing 480,000 smoking-related deaths among 40 million smokers.

      Opioid addiction is certainly a serious problem. But in describing its heartbreaks, it’s irresponsible to present smoking, by contrast, as a mere bad habit—when that habit is responsible for 16 times as many of this country’s funerals every year.

    • Set It and Forget It: How Default Settings Rule the World

      In other countries such as Spain, Portugal and Austria, the default is that you’re an organ donor unless you explicitly choose not to be. And in many of those countries over 99 percent of the population is registered. A recent study found that countries with opt-out or “presumed consent” policies don’t just have more people who sign up to be donors, they also have consistently higher numbers of transplants.

    • Zika in the UK: Three cases of virus reported in Yorkshire

      At least three people have been found to be carrying the Zika virus in east Yorkshire.

      Calderdale and Huddersfield NHS Foundation Trust said the patients were believed to have contracted the virus overseas.

      Zika has been declared a global public health emergency by the World Health Organisation (WHO).

      The virus, which is mainly spread by the Aedes aegypt species of mosquito, typically causes only mild symptoms in adults but can cause a major birth defect called microcephaly in the babies of pregnant women who are infected.

  • Security

    • Security advisories for Thursday
    • Please save GMane!
    • The End of Gmane?

      In 2002, I grew annoyed with not finding the obscure technical information I was looking for, so I started Gmane, the mailing list archive. All technical discussion took place on mailing lists those days, and archiving those were, at best, spotty and with horrible web interfaces.

      The past few weeks, the Gmane machines (and more importantly, the company I work for, who are graciously hosting the servers) have been the target of a number of distributed denial of service attacks. Our upstream have been good about helping us filter out the DDoS traffic, but it’s meant serious downtime where we’ve been completely off the Internet.

    • Pwnie Express makes IoT, Android security arsenal open source

      Pwnie Express has given the keys to software used to secure the Internet of Things (IoT) and Android software to the open-source community.

      The Internet of Things (IoT), the emergence of devices ranging from lighting to fridges and embedded systems which are connected to the web, has paved an avenue for cyberattackers to exploit.

    • Pwnie Express Open Sources Tools to Lock Down IoT/Android Security

      Pwnie Express isn’t a name that everyone is familiar with, but in the security arena the company has a good reputation for its wired and wireless threat detection technologies. Now, the Boston-based firm has announced plans to open source key tools that it has used to secure the Internet of Things (IoT) and Android software.

      Blue Hydra is a Bluetooth utility that can detect Bluetooth devices, and also work as a sniffer to query devices it detects for threats. Meanwhile, the Android Open Pwn Project (AOPP), is an Android ROM built for security testers. It’s based on the Android Open Source Project (AOSP) and community-developed ROMS — one of which is CyanogenMod. It lets developers on the Android front sniff out threats on mobile platforms.

    • The Software Supply Chain Is Bedeviled by Bad Open-Source Code [Ed: again, trace this back to FUD firms like Sonatype in this case]

      Open-source components play a key role in the software supply chain. By reducing the amount of code that development organizations need to write, open source enables companies to deliver software more efficiently — but not without significant risks, including defective and outdated components and security vulnerabilities.

    • Securing a Virtual World [Ed: paywall, undated (no year but reposted)]
    • Google tells Android’s Linux kernel to toughen up and fight off those horrible hacker bullies

      In a blog post, Jeff Vander Stoep of the mobile operating system’s security team said that in the next build of the OS, named Nougat, Google is going to be addressing two key areas of the Linux kernel that reside at the heart of most of the world’s smartphones: memory protection and reducing areas available for attack by hackers.

    • Friday’s security updates
  • Defence/Aggression

    • The Killings of Tony Blair

      The film has been predictably lambasted by the mainstream media. But it does include some very essential first hand evidence – myself apart, two other British Ambassadors tell what they themselves witnessed, as do Cabinet members. Noam Chomsky adds some important perceptions. This cannot just be dismissed by cries of “Oh look! George Galloway’s in a hat!! Remember when he was on Big Brother!!” The mainstream media’s response to this film has been unanimously puerile.

    • Syrian refugee, 21, hacks PREGNANT woman to death with machete and injures two others before hero BMW driver runs him over in yet another attack in Germany

      A Syrian refugee wielding a machete has killed a pregnant woman and injured a man and another woman in Germany before being arrested by police after he was run over by a man driving a BMW.

      The attack happened in the south western city of Reutlingen near a doner kebab stand in a bus station at Listplatz Square in what has been described as a ‘crime of passion’.

      German media have been reporting that the motive for the attack in the city south of Stuttgart was unclear but the attacker and the 45-year-old Polish victim both worked at the same snack bar.

    • Putin’s Warning

      This candid conversation took place with representatives of various media outlets during the St Petersburg International Economic Forum, in June 2016. Putin urged journalists to report genuinely on the impending danger that is a nuclear arms race.

    • As the Syrian Government Tightens Its Noose, Aleppo’s Doctors Fear the Worst

      It was just before 4 p.m. local time last Friday in the northern Syrian city of Aleppo when Dr. Farida Almouslem picked up the phone. With bombs falling outside, the 37-year-old calmly described the chaos unfolding around her. “I’m at home and staying in the middle of my home, because airstrikes are hitting us now,” she said. “We are hiding inside our bathroom.”

      For four years now, Aleppo City, Almouslem’s hometown, has been a centerpiece in Syria’s brutal civil war, controlled by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime to the west and opposition forces to the east. The period has been marked by tragedy, bloodshed, and, for the more than 2 million people who called the city home when the fighting began, widespread collective trauma. The situation has now gone from bad to worse.

    • Coups Inside NATO: A Disturbing History

      The Turkish government’s strong suspicion that Washington sympathized with or covertly backed the recent failed military coup — even if completely unfounded — may seriously damage the Western alliance.

      After all, the preamble to the 1949 North Atlantic Treaty emphasizes the determination of the signing countries “to safeguard the freedom, common heritage and civilization of their peoples, founded on the principles of democracy, individual liberty and the rule of law.”

    • Wild Turkey With H-Bombs: Failed Coup Heightens Calls for Denuclearization

      An explosive cocktail of political instability mixed with 90 U.S. H-bombs raises the specter of accidental or suicidal nuclear detonation in or near Turkey. This risk was brought into sharp relief by the attempted military coup there in mid-July.

      In June, I warned that the Pentagon’s 180 thermonuclear B61 gravity bombs deployed across Europe – 50 to 90 are at Incirlik Air Force Base in Turkey – are too dangerous deploy in the age of terrorism. Turkey’s B61s are 100 miles from Islamic State territory, a war zone. Now the Los Angeles Times, the Japan Times, Foreign Policy, the San Antonio Express News and other major papers see the Pentagon’s outsourced B61s in Turkey as a hot topic.

    • Will the 9/11 Defendants Ever Get a Fair Trial?

      The government has been accused of destroying evidence in the 9/11 military commission, which has spanned more than a decade.

      I spent last week in Guantánamo Bay, where I was supposed to be observing four days of pre-trial hearings in the military commission prosecution of the 9/11 defendants. But as is so often the case, on three of those days, the hearings were closed. On the single day of open hearings, the proceeding focused on the government’s destruction of key evidence in the case. This past weekend, defense lawyers confirmed that the evidence concerns a secret CIA black site abroad where the defendants and others were severely tortured.

      Almost 15 years have passed since the attacks of 9/11, and yet the Guantánamo military commissions are still muddling through pre-trial motions, with virtually the same confusion and lack of transparency that has characterized these proceedings for years. The dichotomy between the importance of the proceedings and their virtual absence from public discourse is astonishing.

      The proceedings that did take place last week focused on the government’s destruction of evidence, which may have been irreplaceable for the defense, and over which the judge had issued a protective order. Defense attorney David Nevin, who represents Khalid Sheikh Mohammad, referred to this evidence as “among the most important evidence of the case.” As Nevin argued, the government’s torture and mistreatment of the defendants is central to the question of whether they can lawfully be subject to the death penalty.

      This key issue has been percolating for some time.

    • Activist Shines Light on Clinton’s Dirty Foreign Policy in Honduras (Video)

      Sha Grogan Brown is a member of the Grassroots Global Justice Alliance, and alongside other activist coalitions, he participated in the movement to “Wall Off Trump” at the Republican National Convention last week. Now, Grogan Brown is in Philadelphia, after traveling from Cleveland in a van with other GGJA members.

      Truthdig contributor Sonali Kolhatkar spoke with Grogan Brown about both major-party candidates. After recounting the various protests held at the Republican convention in opposition to Donald Trump, Grogan Brown explains a key aspect of his presence at the Democratic convention. “Berta Cáceres was an internationally known organizer from Honduras,” he says. “She was an indigenous, environmentalist feminist, and she was assassinated in her home on March [3].” The GGJA has teamed up with Honduran activist forces to call for an investigation into Cáceres’ death.

    • U.S. Government Finally Pays Family of Italian Aid Worker Killed in Drone Strike

      The U.S. government has reached an agreement with the family of an Italian aid worker killed in a CIA drone strike in Pakistan, over a year after President Barack Obama acknowledged the operation and promised an investigation and compensation. The news comes as other victims of U.S. counterterrorism strikes are pushing for the administration to also acknowledge their cases under a new executive order signed by Obama this month.

      Lawyers for the family of the slain aid worker, 37-year-old Giovanni Lo Porto, confirmed to The Intercept that the U.S. government had provided a payment, but would not disclose the dollar amount, in keeping with the family’s wishes.

      In January 2015, a missile fired by a CIA drone struck an al Qaeda compound in Pakistan where Lo Porto and an American humanitarian worker, Warren Weinstein, were being held hostage. A few months later, Obama, in an unprecedented admission, took “full responsibility” for Lo Porto’s and Weinstein’s deaths. Despite hundreds of hours of surveillance, he said, the United States had not known that the hostages were present.

    • Dozens More Civilians Reportedly Killed in U.S.-Led Coalition Airstrikes in Syria

      On Wednesday, the U.S. military announced that it was pursuing a formal investigation into the July 19 airstrike in a northern Syrian city that observers estimate killed at least 73 civilians. A subsequent airstrike in the same city “may have resulted” in yet more civilian casualties, Centcom disclosed late Thursday.

      “U.S. Central Command initiated an assessment following internal operational reporting that a strike today near Manbij, Syria may have resulted in civilian casualties,” the military said in a statement. “We can confirm the Coalition conducted airstrikes in the area in the last 24 hours.”

      The airstrikes took place around the strategically-critical city of Manbij, where clashes between U.S.-backed Syrian militants and Islamic State fighters have dragged on for months. Local and outside activists described the horrific aftermath of a coalition bombing run against the village of Tokkhar, outside Manbij, earlier this week.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • An Oil Pipeline Nearly As Long As Keystone XL Has Been Fully Approved

      The pipeline will transport up to 570,000 barrels of sweet crude oil per day from North Dakota’s oil-rich Bakken Formation, to a market hub near Patoka, Illinois. Critics have long said the pipeline could severely harm thousands of miles of fertile farmland, forests, and rivers if a spill were to occur. Federal agencies have said the Bakken Pipeline avoids “critical habitat.”

      But Dakota Access, a subsidiary of Dallas-based Energy Transfer Partners, says it will use state-of-the-art monitoring equipment and shut-off valves. Personnel will be stationed along the more than 1,150-mile pipeline for further support. Yet U.S. pipelines spilled three times as much crude oil as trains over the period of 2004 to 2012, according to a recent study by the International Energy Agency. However, pipeline incidents happened much less frequently than oil train accidents.

    • Anthrax sickens 13 in western Siberia, and a thawed-out reindeer corpse may be to blame

      First a heatwave hit Siberia. Then came the anthrax.

      Temperatures have soared in western Russia’s Yamal tundra this summer. Across Siberia, some provinces warmed an additional 10 degrees Fahrenheit beyond normal. In the fields, large bubbles of vegetation appeared above the melting permafrost — strange pockets of methane or, more likely, water. Record fires blazed through dry Russian grassland.

    • Police need to explain halting investigation on forest fires: Lawmaker

      Deputy chairman of Commission III of the House of Representatives Benny K Harman said police chief Gen. Tito Karnavian has to give reason for halting investigation of cases of forest fires involving 15 companies in Riau.

      “The police chief has to openly give reasons for issuing order to halt investigations (SP3) of the forest fires,” Benny here on Tuesday.

      He also asked President Joko Widodo (Jokowi)to summon the police chief to explain the decision to issue SP3 as the cases have national and international dimension.

  • Finance

    • Can American Apparel’s CEO Mend Its Seams?

      But as we head toward the building’s corporate entrance, I realize something’s a little weird. I see gargantuan, tattooed men in blue shirts smile attentively near the doorway and I vaguely recognize one of them, which is implausible—I don’t live in L.A. It takes me a moment to realize that I saw his face earlier in the day, when I had met Schneider for breakfast in Little Tokyo. When we had gotten in her car afterward, she seemed to be waiting for the car behind us to pass (it didn’t), so I had looked through the rear window to find out what was going on. Now I realize that this man had been following us all along. The security guards accompany us on the ride up the elevator, past six factory levels to the top floor of the building, where another guard greets us and uses his key card to let us through to the company’s offices. The percussive hum of textile machinery below fades as the heavy door closes behind us.

    • Scotland has four EU options – but which are realistic?

      Everyone is trying to figure out what Brexit means. Theresa May says Brexit means Brexit and is for the whole UK – but doesn’t mean a border (or not a hard one) with Ireland. Brexit minister, David Davies says the UK will start to negotiate dozens of trade deals in the next two years. And in Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon sets out key criteria (ranging from democracy to solidarity to voice) that any EU option for Scotland should include.

      In Brussels and EU capitals, politicians and officials consider what their red lines will be in the upcoming talks while waiting for the UK to tell them what it wants Brexit to mean. Meanwhile individual businesses, financial and other markets, EU citizens in the UK, and UK citizens elsewhere in the EU start to make their own choices – with UK economic indicators pointing towards likely recession.

    • New Jersey Student Loan Agency to Staff: Don’t Tell Borrowers About Help Unless They Ask

      Some restaurants have secret menus, special items that you can only get if you know to ask. New Jersey’s student loan program has secret options, too — borrowers may be able to get help from the agency, but only if they know to ask.

      New Jersey has the largest state-based student loan program in the country, with particularly stringent terms that can lead to financial ruin, as ProPublica and the New York Times recently detailed. The agency overseeing the program says it has a policy to help some families if the children who were supposed to benefit from the loans die.

      But internal emails show that staffers at the Higher Education Student Assistance Authority, or HESAA, have been instructed not to tell families that they may qualify for help unless they explicitly ask.

    • Yen jumps against dollar as Japan keeps rates on hold

      The Japanese yen has climbed by more than 2% against the US dollar, after the Bank of Japan decided to keep interest rates on hold after its two-day meeting.

      The BoJ also kept its target for government bond buying unchanged.

      But the central bank said it would double its annual purchase of exchange traded funds to 6tn yen ($57bn; £43bn) from the current 3.3tn yen.

    • It’s time to disband the ‘Tribe of the 48%’

      Britain’s surprise vote to leave the EU, with Leave’s narrow but decisive win by a margin of over a million votes, led to a surprising outpouring of emotion on the Remain side of the referendum. It was surprising because there had been precious little emotion over the previous weeks of a campaign, which had been entirely focused on the pocketbook economic risks of leaving the EU. Indeed, there had been precious little emotion across the previous four decades of British engagement in the European club, largely seen as a transactional economic relationship, joining a common market without ever being entirely comfortable with the political idea of ‘ever closer union’ that animated the founders of the European project.

    • Brexit diary – UK’s six tasks, and the need for French lessons

      And, in the meantime, it seems Michel Barnier is not going to make it easy for the UK.

    • Yanis Varoufakis’s Greek Tragedy

      Yanis Varoufakis was the finance minister of Greece’s radical left government during that heady summer of 2015. He got famous first for his flair: open shirt, shaved head, and motorcycle jacket—but then really famous for playing chicken with his nations’ creditors in Brussels and Berlin.

      His line was that Greece could not and should not be forced to take on huge new loans to pay off bad old ones as a price of staying in the European Union. “Fiscal waterboarding” he called it: periods of intense austerity that crippled the Greek economy in exchange for bailout money that went to big banks.

    • London’s tourism bonanza after Brexit vote

      London is enjoying a remarkable “Brexit boom” in tourism as visitors flock to the capital in record numbers to take advantage of the pound’s fall in value.

      The sudden 13 per cent currency depreciation triggered by the Leave vote left sterling at its lowest level against the dollar for more than 30 years at one stage — turning the capital into a “bargain destination” for millions of travellers, according to tourism chiefs.

      Hotels, airlines and attractions all reported a dramatic spike for London bookings in July, with British “staycation” visitors put off travelling abroad by the increased cost of holidays on the Continent also contributing to the surge.

    • Clinton Friend, Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe Now Pretends Hillary Never Supported TPP

      Except, of course, she has supported it, quite clearly in the past. And almost certainly still is. I understand the political calculations here. Historically, Democrats (especially the progressive wing) have generally been against free trade. So these agreements (even when they’re actually good!) are usually a tough sell to Democratic voters. But this is a weird year. Because while these agreements have almost universally been supported by Republicans, this year Donald Trump suddenly hates them — not for all the legitimate reasons to hate them, but mainly because he doesn’t understand how international trade works.

      But wouldn’t it be nice if Clinton could just come out and say what she really thought about the TPP and have an open conversation about it, rather than playing this “wink wink nod nod” game where basically everyone knows her true position, but she won’t say it?

    • Patreon Ends Payments Discrimination Against Adult Content

      Pornography helped usher in the early era of digital payment processing—but not long after that grand debut, the forces of smut and commerce had something of a falling out. Visa/MasterCard declared adult content to be a high risk for fraud and chargebacks, slapped significant fees on anyone wishing to accept credit card payments for XXX sites or merchandise, and instantly transformed the online payment ecosystem, not just for pornographers, but for X-rated artists, sex toy merchants, and even sex workers trying to raise funds for their medical expenses.

      In the decade plus since Visa/MasterCard’s decision, things have been a little tricky for anyone hoping to make a living selling sex online. Most mainstream payment processors—think PayPal, Stripe, and WePay, to name a few—decided to avoid dealing with those pesky additional fees by creating a total ban on anything adult.

    • Oracle just bought a company Larry Ellison mostly owns, entitling him to $3.5 billion in cash

      In perhaps the least shocking acquisition news in software history, Oracle has agreed to buy NetSuite for $109 a share, or about $9.3 billion.

      Larry Ellison already owned about 40% of NetSuite, so the deal will net him about $3.5 billion.

      Rumors had been recently circulating that Oracle would buy NetSuite.

    • Facebook Tax Bill Over Ireland Move Could Cost $5 Billion

      Facebook said in the filing that the liability “could have a material adverse impact” on its finances, results or cash flows. “In addition, the determination of our worldwide provision for income taxes and other tax liabilities requires significant judgment by management, and there are many transactions where the ultimate tax determination is uncertain.”

      The IRS on Monday asked a federal magistrate judge in California to force the company to turn over detailed internal corporate records related to the value of the assets moved to Ireland. They included all operations outside the U.S. and Canada.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Clinton resists deposition to ask who urged using private server
    • Does Julian Assange Really Have an Email That Will Get Hillary Clinton Tossed in Prison?
    • Barbarians at the Gates

      WikiLeaks have once again done the world a great service by publishing smoking gun evidence that the Democratic National Committee – which was supposed to be a neutral body overseeing the Democrats primary election – was doing everything possible to tilt the field against Bernie Sanders. Just one of the ways that was done was by secretly promoting to the media the idea that Sanders’ supporters were violent, misogynist and intimidatory thugs.

      [...]

      It is important to say that there is a lot of other video evidence available. This is the clearest I can find. No evidence appears anywhere online which bears out the stories of violence, abuse and spitting – which is quite astonishing given that the entire mainstream media carried and promoted those stories.

      The Labour Party constituency meeting at Brighton gives us a precise analogy to the Nevada Democrats meeting. Again claims were made of violent intimidation, swearing and spitting. Again, in this age where everybody has a video camera in their pocket, there is absolutely zero objective evidence of this behaviour and a great deal of evidence to the contrary. It appears the real sin of the Brighton Labour Party members was to elect pro-Corbyn officers. That election has now been annulled. The National Executive Committee of the Labour Party is playing precisely the role against Corbyn that the NDC played against Sanders.

    • The Other Factor in the DNC Hack: WikiLeaks’ Personal War with Hillary Clinton

      Since yesterday, both Jack Goldsmith and Peter Singer have had offered some interesting perspective on the alleged Russian hack of the DNC.

    • Hillary Clinton’s Nomination Met With Joy From Many Women at DNC, But Disenchantment From Others

      As the Democratic Party formally announced its nominee on Tuesday night, the gigantic screen at the Wells Fargo Center showed images of the last 44 U.S. presidents until, with a great shattering sound, Hillary Clinton appeared from behind virtual glass shards.

      It was not subtle. Some found it emotional; others found it corny. And in a week that’s been defined by profound divisions inside the convention hall — and greater ones between the convention and the streets outside –- the significance of Clinton’s breaking of a gender barrier also elicited a split response.

      As Clinton became the first woman to receive the presidential nomination of a major party, there were those who celebrated her achievement — and those whose deep disenchantment with her and the Democratic leadership remained unaffected by her gender.

      Among women, in particular, Clinton’s nomination only seemed to accentuate gaping divisions.

      At a DNC women’s caucus meeting on Thursday morning, the crowd was jubilant and running high on the emotions of the week. Hundreds of women of all ages decked out in “I’m with her” gear and pink Planned Parenthood shirts filled the room, as inspirational videos of little girls saying they wanted to be president played in the background.

      “My sisters, we have made history here in Philadelphia,” convention CEO Leah Daughtry told a roaring crowd. “Just think that less than 100 years ago, a woman was not even guaranteed the right to vote, and just think that a little over 50 years ago, an African-American woman, Fannie Lou Hamer, was not even permitted to be seated at our convention. And now, we have nominated our first woman to be president at a convention run by an African-American woman.”

    • The Content of Donald Trump’s Character

      Though some anti-war Americans see hope that Donald Trump would pull back from foreign wars, they also must face his undeniable record of racial and sexist bigotry, writes Marjorie Cohn.

    • Democrats Adopt a More Progressive Tone

      Instead, we witnessed an evening of progressive rhetoric and thoughtfulness unseen on a big political stage since the days of William Jennings Bryan, Wisconsin’s Fighting Bob La Follette, the Happy Warrior Al Smith and the crusaders of FDR’s New Deal. Not to mention Hubert Humphrey, Jesse Jackson, Shirley Chisholm, and a host of others who though history kept beating the drums for ordinary people against the organized might of Big Money.

    • Jill Stein Joins Forces with Berner Rebellion Inside and Outside DNC To Bring Powerful New Critical Mass to Political Revolution

      Dr. Jill Stein, presumptive Green Party presidential nominee, joined forces with thousands of Sanders delegates who took to the streets outside the Democratic National Convention on Tuesday to show their outrage at the DNC’s callous, backstabbing treatment of the Bernie Sanders campaign during the primary race – as evidenced by recent email leaks – and of Sanders delegates during the convention itself.

    • Greenwald Explains What Out-of-Touch Media Doesn’t Get About Trump, Russia, and US Electorate

      Donald Trump poses “extreme dangers” to the United States and the world, journalist and co-founding editor of The Intercept Glenn Greenwald says in a new interview published at Slate.

      But to stop the GOP presidential nominee from getting elected, “U.S. media and U.S. elites” must take a lesson from the recent Brexit debacle, he warns—and bending over backwards to link Trump to Russian President Vladimir Putin isn’t the right approach.

      “U.K. elites were uniform, uniform, in their contempt for the Brexit case, other than the right-wing Murdochian tabloids,” Greenwald told Slate contributor Isaac Chotiner by phone.

      “They all sat on Twitter all day long, from the left to the right, and all reinforced each other about how smart and how sophisticated they were in scorning and [being snide] about [U.K. Independent party] and Boris Johnson and all of the Brexit leaders, and they were convinced that they had made their case,” he said. “Everyone they were talking to—which is themselves—agreed with them. It was constant reinforcement, and anyone who raised even a peep of dissent or questioned the claims they were making was instantly castigated as somebody who was endangering the future of the U.K. because they were endorsing—or at least impeding—the effort to stop Brexit. This is what’s happening now.”

    • Poverty Protests at RNC/DNC Conventions

      True concern about the plight of America’s poor and disenfranchised has been low on the priority lists of both the Republican and Democratic parties for many years, a challenge that Cheri Honkala, a long-time warrior for the poor and disenfranchised, has taken to the two conventions in Cleveland and Philadelphia.

      As National Coordinator of the Poor Peoples’ Economic Human Rights Campaign and the founder of the Kensington Welfare Rights Union, Honkala participated a Poor People’s March through the streets of Cleveland at the Republican National Convention and, from her home base in Philadelphia, sought to bring the same issues to the Democratic National Convention.

    • The Fear of Hillary’s Foreign Policy

      Hillary Clinton’s nominating convention has focused on domestic issues, but her foreign policy has many anti-war Democrats worried, as she surrounds herself with neocons and liberal hawks, writes James W Carden from Philadelphia.

    • Politician Speak at the DNC

      None are more adept at the fake-progressive sales job than Bill Clinton. Taking your Hillary history from the Big Creep (as Monica Lewinsky used to call Mr. Clinton) during his “I Met a Girl” speech two nights ago, you’d think he’d never engaged in epic levels of philandering while he’s been married to the noble and selfless liberal idealist Hillary Clinton. You’d never imagine that his wife: worked at a vile corporate law firm like Rose Law; sat on the board of the viciously anti-worker and globalist retail giant Wal-Mart; voted for authorizing George W. Bush to arch-criminally invade Iraq if he wanted to (he did); applauded her co-president husband’s malicious and calamitous elimination of disproportionately Black poor mothers’ and children’s entitlement to basic federal family cash assistance; pushed Bill to criminally bomb Serbian children; backed and protected a right wing coup in Honduras as Secretary of State; led the way in the U.S.-led Western destruction of Libya and Syria; joined Bill in cozying up to vicious authoritarian rulers like Rwanda’s President-for-Life Paul Kagame and the decrepit kings of arch-reactionary ad absolutist Saudi Arabia; joined Bill in helping engineer the full corporate-neoliberal Wall Street takeover of the Democratic Party during the last quarter of the last century.

    • Digital democracy meets the oligarchs uptown

      The Blairites in his party were outraged by this off-message opinion that seemed to them like the blunder of an amateur. Yet, it was precisely this admission of the EU’s deficiencies combined with a rejection of Brexit which marked out Jeremy Corbyn as a thoughtful and sincere politician to those on the Left who voted for his Remain and reform position on June 23. As we’re all now discovering to our cost, complex problems can’t be fixed by simple solutions.

    • Bill Clinton’s Convention Speech About Hillary Clinton Was Filled With Inaccuracies (Video)

      Rule No. 1 in journalism: Check the facts. With politicians, multiply that rule by 10 to 1,000, depending on the politician.

      On Day 2 of the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, former U.S. President Bill Clinton gave a speech about his wife, Hillary Clinton, soon after she was pronounced the official Democratic Party nominee. The speech was glowing and filled with inaccuracies.

      Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR) co-founder Jeff Cohen spoke with Truthdig columnist Sonali Kolhatkar about how the media failed to dissect Clinton’s speech.

      “Every time he talked about policy, it was either inaccurate—180 degrees wrong—or it was completely cherry-picked,” said Cohen. “He made it seem like, you’ll remember how Hillary Clinton made climate change the central feature of our foreign policy. That’s virtually word for word. ‘When Hillary was secretary of state, she made,’ well, everyone knows, you can read it in Mother Jones, that she was pushing fracking and U.S. fracking interests all over the world. You cannot simultaneously push fracking all over the world and be making climate change a centerpiece of your foreign policy.”

    • On Responsible Sourcing for DNC Hack Stories
    • Trump as the Reagan Reboot

      The conventional wisdom says Donald Trump has turned presidential politics into a reality show. It’s an understandable diagnosis, particularly given his intentionally brassy persona and the professional wrestling-style antics he used to dispatch a motley crew of also-rans on this way to victory. Both were on display in Cleveland where — with the name “Trump” towering over him — the sole survivor triumphantly claimed the ultimate prize at the end of a year-long series

    • DNC insiders detail months of escalating dysfunction

      Debbie Wasserman Schultz wasn’t supposed to ask Joe Biden to come to her daughter’s bat mitzvah.

      Democratic National Committee staff had sent the chair to the vice president armed with four specific requests for getting him involved in raising money for the party.

    • Clinton Writes Off the Left

      When Donald Trump presented his vice presidential running mate to the world, he was forthright with the rationale for selecting the relatively dull Mike Pence—a man who may perfectly embody the notion of a “generic Republican.” At the unveiling press conference, Trump declared in his characteristically unvarnished manner: “I think if you look at one of the big reasons that I chose Mike … one of the reasons is party unity.”

      It doesn’t take much analytical heavy lifting to identify what picking Pence added to Trump’s prospectus. The GOP primary season made clear that ideological movement conservatives, who adhere dogmatically to the classic Reagan-derived “fusionist” brand of Republican politics, are a small, outnumbered faction of the party’s membership. But they still exist and vote at high rates, and a failure to court them would have had a real, adverse electoral impact. Crucially, they also wield disproportionate influence at the elite level. Thus, as Trump readily admitted, Pence serves to mollify these disaffected elements of the GOP coalition, which had been the faction of the party most hostile to Trump. Since the Pence announcement and the conclusion of the Cleveland convention last week, Trump’s favorability rating among GOP voters has risen by several percentage points.

    • The Hacking of the 2016 Election – Did I Write the Script? [Ed: too much of Microsoft]

      One of the big political stories this week is that experts believe that Russia has hacked the Democratic National Committee’s servers in an effort to help Trump win the presidential election. Today, security expert Bruce Schneier went further, in an editorial in the Washington Post, suggesting that Putin’s next move may be to exploit the woefully inadequate security of US voting machines to hack the election itself.

    • Trump Sick And Tired Of Mainstream Media Always Trying To Put His Words Into Some Sort Of Context [Ed: Satire]

      Emphasizing that the practice was just more evidence of journalists’ bias against him, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump stated Thursday that he was sick and tired of the mainstream media always attempting to place his words into some kind of context. “The corrupt news media is constantly taking the things I say and putting them within the larger context of politics and global events—it’s absolutely sickening what they do,” said Trump, adding that many of the comments he has made—including his call yesterday for Russia to hack into the emails of his presidential opponent Hillary Clinton and publish the contents—had been repeatedly and unfairly contextualized with relevant facts about the world and pertinent information about the situation in which they were stated. “It’s completely shameful to take words I’ve spoken or written and try to connect them to some kind of objective reality. I say something, and the next thing I know, a crooked reporter is telling everyone what I said along with a fact-based explanation of what its implications are and why it matters. It’s ridiculous, and it has to stop.” Trump added that he would not hesitate to ban any news organization from his campaign that continued to twist his statements by implying they held any specific meaning about or relation to the world we inhabit.

    • 10 reasons why #DemExit is serious: Getting rid of Debbie Wasserman Schultz is not enough

      Shortly after Bernie Sanders publicly endorsed Hillary Clinton a new hashtag trended on Twitter: #DemExit. The hashtag offered Sanders supporters a chance to vent their frustrations with the Democratic Party and with the sense that their candidate had been pressured into an endorsement. Rather than reach out to these disaffected voters, the Democratic National Committee (DNC) ignored them. Understood within the larger narrative that Sanders supporters were just whining brats who refused to concede and move on, #DemExit was dismissed as just more sour milk.

      But now that the latest leak of DNC emails proves that Sanders supporters have a legitimate right to feel cheated, #DemExit increasingly seems like an appropriate response to a rigged system.

      The new leak shows that the DNC never took the Sanders campaign seriously, even when he was winning state after state. Rather than recognize that Sanders was attracting new voters to the party, members of the DNC chose to mock them and close ranks around Clinton.

    • “The Two-Party System Is the Worst Case Scenario” – An Interview With the Green Party’s Jill Stein

      As the Democratic convention in Philadelphia progressed, and hopes of a revolution on the floor quickly faded for the thousands of Bernie Sanders supporters, support for another figure began to emerge on the streets: Green Party candidate Jill Stein. By the end of the week, Vote Jill signs where everywhere in the city, her name often scribbled directly over old Sanders posters and T-shirts. Bernie’s revolution had taken an unexpected turn, and as more protesters and delegates called for a “Demexit,” talk of a third-party option suddenly gained ground at a major party convention. On Thursday, as Clinton prepared to accept her party’s nomination, The Intercept spoke with Stein at an improvised South Philly campaign headquarters.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • Judge Tosses Out Defamation Lawsuit Filed Against ProPublica, CIR

      A federal district judge in Phoenix threw out a lawsuit on Monday that accused ProPublica and the Center for Investigative Reporting of defaming a government contractor who helped a Chinese national gain access to a counterterrorism center.

      The lawsuit stemmed from an August 2014 story published by the two nonprofit newsrooms that revealed an apparent security breach at the Arizona Counter Terrorism Information Center, an intelligence center set up by state and local authorities after the 9/11 terror attacks. A Chinese national worked at the facility as a computer programmer for five months in 2007, allowing him access to the Arizona driver’s license database and potentially to a roster of intelligence analysts and investigators.

      The contract employee then suddenly returned home to Beijing, taking two laptops and additional hard drives with him. The possible breach, which could have affected as many as 5 million Arizona residents, was not reported to the state’s attorney general.

    • Twitter’s caught between a rock and a censorship place

      Twitter posted another set of bummer quarterly results this week: basically flat growth, a loss of over $100 million, and a still-fuzzy plan to turn things around and define itself.

      The company’s new branding effort at least makes an attempt at the latter: it emphasizes that Twitter is a destination for news, video, conversation and analysis in real time. The company says it will work on improving engagement by improving its core product — you know, Twitter itself.

      So, that’s a start. But the most telling part of the investor call this week was the amount of time CEO Jack Dorsey had to spend defending the fact that Twitter is often, simply put, not a nice place to be.

    • The West kowtows to China through self-censorship
    • Old Comedians Mistake Criticism for Censorship in Whiny Doc

      Can We Take a Joke? is a surprisingly self-righteous and unfunny documentary in which shelf-dated comedians spend 74 minutes misinterpreting the First Amendment to mean that behaving like an asshole should have no social consequences. The film and all of its subjects — including Penn Jillette, Lisa Lampanelli, Jim Norton and Gilbert Gottfried — persistently conflate criticism with censorship. They don’t just want “freedom of speech”; they want total silence from anyone who disagrees with them, free speech for themselves and nobody else.

    • Internet trolls are even more hostile when they’re using their real names, a study finds

      Anonymity, we often assume, is the breeding ground for bad behavior on the internet. Among the gatekeepers of comment sections and social media sites, the conventional wisdom is that anonymity empowers bullies to voice hateful opinions without consequence. When unmasked by real-name policies, the theory goes, these trolls will slink back to their caves, taking the vitriol from Twitter, Facebook and other social media with them.

      Not true, says Lea Stahel, a sociology researcher at the University of Zurich.

      Stahel and a team at the university’s Institute of Sociology wanted to know whether anonymity really encouraged the worst kind of behavior seen in online “firestorms.” These are moments when a public figure or group evokes the ire of commentators, who direct thousands or millions of negative messages at their subjects. The harassment of women in the video-gaming community, known as “Gamergate,” and the recent attack on the Ghostbusters actress Leslie Jones are just two examples.

      [...]

      Pfeffer cautioned against generalizing the findings too broadly. Anonymity may lower the threshold for aggression in some cases, and encourage the use of bots, automated “users” that amplify trending topics (Twitter has admitted that about 8.5% of its users may be bots).

    • Maribyrnong Council demands small business remove ‘offensive’ Hillary Clinton mural
    • Melbourne graffiti artist Lushsux’s Instagram account deleted in ‘politically-motivated censorship’ after risque murals
    • Melbourne street artist behind racy Hillary Clinton mural has Instagram account deleted
    • Street artist Lushsux suspects bias after Instagram account deleted
    • Costs of ISP blocking injunctions: is there really an EU rule?
  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Baidu uses millions of users’ location data to make predictions

      BAIDU, China’s internet giant, has shown what you can learn when you have access to enough location data.

      The firm’s Big Data Lab in Beijing has used billions of location records from its 600 million users as a lens to view the Chinese economy. It has tracked the flux of people around offices and shops as a proxy measurement for employment and consumption activity. The lab even used the data to predict Apple’s second quarter revenue in China.

      Location data has already proved useful for purposes such as keeping tabs on population movements and the spread of disease. This is the first time that a company the size of Baidu – similar to Facebook or Google – has shown what it is capable of doing with the data from their huge user bases, giving these firms enormous power and insight that they don’t typically talk about.

      The researchers hand-labelled thousands of areas of interest – offices, shopping centres and industrial zones – across China. Then they studied location data from the end of 2014 to the middle of 2016 to see how many people were at those places at each time, and how that changed through the year.

    • Use a VPN or proxy in the United Arab Emirates, risk a £400K fine or prison

      Anyone using a VPN to visit illegal sites or dodge a ban on using unauthorised voice over IP (VoIP) service faces a £400,000 fine or prison under a new law brought in by the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

      The text of the new legislation says: “Whoever uses a fraudulent computer network protocol address (IP address) by using a false address or a third-party address by any other means for the purpose of committing a crime or preventing its discovery, shall be punished by temporary imprisonment and a fine of no less than Dh500,000 [£100,000] and not exceeding Dh2,000,000 [£400,000], or either of these two penalties.”

      However, as the Privacy Online News blog explains, the definition of crime in the UAE includes apparently trivial online actions: “crimes include accessing blocked services or websites, which can only be done with a VPN or proxy, use that the UAE considers fraudulent use of an IP address.”

    • NSA certifies KG-350 encryption system
    • NSA Certifies Raytheon’s New KG-350 Ethernet Encryption System
    • New Law In Illinois Restricts Stingray Use, Requires Court Orders For Deployment

      Roughly eight years after information about law enforcement use of Stingray devices began slowly making its way into the public sphere, positive changes are being made. While the government has often argued it can be the “Third Party” in “Third Party Doctrine” by inserting itself warrantlessly between people’s cell phones and their carriers’ towers, its assertions are being met with increased judicial skepticism.

      Two judges — one state, one federal — have reached the same conclusion in recent months: using a cell tower spoofer to locate suspects by dragging information out of their phones is a search under the Fourth Amendment. Warrants are required.

      A few state legislatures have gotten into the act as well, proposing laws that create a warrant requirement for Stingray deployment. Illinois is the latest to do so (and the law actually passed), creating a new set of guidelines for law enforcement Stingray device use, including limits on data retention. It doesn’t go quite so far as to mandate warrant acquisition, but it does force law enforcement to specify the equipment used in their applications, which also serves to create a paper trail that can be examined by defendants and members of the public.

    • Your Email Is Never Going to Be Safe

      Unless you secure everything you will go on the Internet to move some things around. That means there are still other ways for the government to get the data even in-house.

      That material is all discoverable by capturing the ISP streams. Your protection is extended with various virtual private networks but these systems leak when people email outside the umbrella of the VPN.

      Assume that whatever you do on email will be forwarded or cut-and-pasted and get into the wild, somehow. That is exactly what happened to the DNC (Democratic National Committee) with 20,000 emails sent to Wikileaks. While various pundits are trying to blame Russian hackers, it is more likely an inside job by a disgruntled employee.

    • ISIS’ 4 Terabyte Cache of Un- or Badly Encrypted Data

      This retreat is happening as we speak. That means that US forces were able to exploit the data almost immediately on seizing it. And that, in turn, either means it is not encrypted, it is badly encrypted, or the US also got passwords for encrypted files along with the rest of the stash.

      Perhaps this can put to rest the calls to weaken encryption because ISIS is using it to great effect?

    • The Secret Rules That Allow the FBI to Spy on Journalists

      The bones of our democracy — the core elements that separate that way of life from others — lie in the First Amendment to the Constitution, specifically the rights to free speech and a free press.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Perils of police action: a cautionary tale from US data sets

      To count and characterise injuries resulting from legal intervention by US law enforcement personnel and injury ratios per 10 000 arrests or police stops, thus expanding discussion of excessive force by police beyond fatalities.

    • Black Lives Matter in Our Courtrooms Too

      Attorney Andrea Burton didn’t walk into a local Youngstown courtroom with a large banner or poster — she simply had a small metal button with the words “Black Lives Matter” on her lapel. That was enough for Judge Robert Milich to sentence her to five days in the Mahoning County Jail because she refused to remove the pin. While judges may have a great deal of discretion about what happens in their courtroom, this raises some significant questions and continues to highlight the need for a sustained movement for Black lives.

    • The ugly and violent death of gender conformity

      Thanks to an upsurge in diverse gender images in the media, gender progressive public conversations and growing parental awareness, millions of our beautiful children are gracefully and elegantly exploring the inbetween spaces of gender; pushing the boundaries of ‘boy’ and ‘girl’ in ways both large and small as a natural part of their self expression.

    • Chelsea Manning Could Face Additional Punishment for Her Suicide Attempt

      U.S. Army whistleblower Chelsea Manning tried to kill herself on July 5 in her cell at Fort Leavenworth military prison. Now, military officials are considering filing charges in connection to the suicide attempt that could make the terms of her imprisonment much more punitive — possibly including indefinite solitary confinement — while possibily losing any chance of receiving parole.

      According to a charge sheet posted by the ACLU, Manning was informed by military officials on Thursday that she is under investigation for “resisting the force cell move team,” “prohibited property,” and “conduct which threatens.” In the weeks following her suicide attempt, she has been active on social media, thanking her followers for their moral support.

      Manning’s treatment in prison since her 2010 arrest has repeatedly generated outrage among civil liberties advocates. The punitive tactics that have been employed against her include stripping her naked in her cell on a nightly basis, extended solitary confinement and denial of medical necessities like eyeglasses. In 2011, then-State Department spokesman P.J Crowley publicly described Manning’s treatment in prison as “ridiculous, counterproductive and stupid.”

    • The Long Cruel Reach of Indonesia’s Death Penalty

      On July 25, in the Indonesian port town of Cilacap, a 52-year-old Pakistani man was placed in an ambulance and transferred to Nusa Kambangan, otherwise known as “execution island.” Zulfiqar Ali, a textile worker, was arrested for possessing heroin in 2004; like many caught with drugs in Indonesia, he was convicted and sentenced to die. Human rights activists denounced his case; Ali had been tortured into signing a confession, they said, and his primary accuser had retracted his statements at trial. Nonetheless, on Monday, the Sydney Morning Herald reported, while Ali recovered from stomach and kidney surgery, government officials came for him at the hospital. Three days later, he would be dead, executed by firing squad in the middle of the night.

      Ali would not die alone. Earlier this year, the Indonesian government announced it would soon execute more than a dozen unnamed prisoners, the third round of executions following a four-year moratorium on capital punishment. The announcement — part of a zero-tolerance drug policy implemented under President Joko Widodo in 2013 — sparked grim speculation about who might be next to die. There were the three drug offenders transferred to Nusa Kambangan from Batam, a different island prison, in early May, as reported by the Jakarta Post. Or four “black-skinned people from Nigeria,” in the words of the sentencing judge in the case of Humphrey “Jeff” Ejike Eleweke, who was targeted for surveillance because of his nationality — and who swore he was innocent. By Thursday, newspapers reported, coffins were being ferried to Nusa Kambangan, while family members and spiritual advisers were given name tags for their final visits — “an indication that executions were imminent.”

      But one prisoner was spared from the firing squad. In late June, thousands of miles from Nusa Kambangan, a diminutive Filipino woman spoke from a stage at the Oslo Opera House, a sleek white building on the harbor of Norway’s capital city. “My name is Celia Veloso,” she said in her native Tagalog. “I am the mother of Mary Jane Veloso, who is on death row in Indonesia.” Arrested at the Java airport with heroin in her suitcase, Mary Jane was nearly executed in April 2015 alongside eight other drug convicts, but was spared at the last second. The hasty reprieve was so unexpected that people in the Philippines awoke the next day to inaccurate headlines reporting her death.

    • Checking up on Border Patrol Checkpoints to Stop Racial Profiling

      Where are you going? Why are you going there? When did you purchase your vehicle? Can I search your car? Do you have a body in the trunk?

      These are some of the questions agents ask me when I cross through a Border Patrol checkpoint. Before I moved to Alamogordo, New Mexico, to teach, I had no idea such military-style checkpoints existed within the United States. To be clear, I’m not talking about something you encounter at the U.S.-Mexican border; these checkpoints are in an American town. Border Patrol operates checkpoints located upwards of 100 miles into the U.S. This “100-mile zone,” where roughly 200 million people in the U.S. live, sometimes feels like occupied territory.

    • Beyond #BlackLivesMatter: police reform must be bolstered by legal action

      Something is missing from the debate over police reform. Though police killings of black men have sparked a nationwide movement to stop police violence, the police can fairly ask whether they deserve all of the blame.

      That’s not because current levels of police violence are warranted (they aren’t), or because policing is race neutral (it isn’t). It’s because the chief architects of American policing are not police departments; they’re courts. The movement for police reform should be joined by an equally ambitious movement for court reform.

    • Patients Deserve Their Doctor’s Best Medical Judgment, But Texas Bureaucrats Think They Know Better

      The doctor-patient relationship is the cornerstone of medical practice, and the foundation of that relationship is trust. Doctors have the privilege of helping people through some of the most important and challenging moments of their lives. We earn patients’ trust by giving them our best medical judgment based on science. That’s why I became a doctor.

      Now, as I enter my third year of medical school at the University of Texas Southwestern, I am beginning to understand all the ways Texas politicians are working to corrode this trust by interfering in the doctor-patient relationship.

      Quality, peer-reviewed information is what should be disseminated to our patients rather than politically charged and biased pseudo-science.

    • “Say Our Children’s Names” – Victims of Police Violence Honored on Stage and Off at Democratic Convention

      One of the most poignant moments of the Democratic National Convention came on Tuesday night, as Geneva Reed-Veal took the stage. “One year ago yesterday, I lived the worst nightmare anyone could imagine,” she said. “I watched as my daughter, Sandra Bland, was lowered into the ground in a coffin.”

      Bland was found “hanging in a jail cell after an unlawful traffic stop and an unlawful arrest,” she continued. Six other women died in custody that same month, she then added, before reciting their rarely heard names one by one. “I’m here with Hillary Clinton because she is a leader and a mother who will say our children’s names.”

      “Saying the names” of those killed by police, in custody, or in acts of racist violence, has become a ritual since the deaths of Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown, whose mothers were also on stage at the DNC, together with Reed-Veal and six other women — the “mothers of the movement,” as they have been called.

    • Falun Gong advocates protest against organ harvesting in China during stop at Peterborough City Hall
    • Falun Gong practitioners ask support to stop organ pillaging in China
    • Falun Gong in Collingwood to raise awareness of human rights abuses by Chinese government
    • Bringing her protest to North Bay Friday
    • Subordinates of Disgraced Former Chinese Leader Aide Continue to Fall
    • Petition in Northeast Chinese City Shows Broad Support for Legal Action Against Former Party Leader
    • A Chinese Spiritual Way Which Ended In Brutal ‘Torturing’ Of The Chinese!
    • ‘I was three, making the journey alone’: Ursula Kantorowicz travels on the Kindertransport, 1939

      I was born in July 1935 in Reichenbach, Germany, into a wealthy family. The family textile firm, Cohn Gebrüder, was established in 1876 by my great-grandfather, Herman and his brother Arnold. They had a huge factory in town; we lived opposite, in the Red Villa. It had parquet floors, stained-glass windows and central heating, which was a luxury back then.

      The day after Kristallnacht, on 9 November 1938, my father and grandfather – along with other Jewish men in the town – were taken to Buchenwald concentration camp. My mother got them out by bribing officials with her jewellery. They returned with shaven heads and no shoelaces. At that point, the camps weren’t as final as they became.

      My family spent the next weeks getting together permits and visas. The idea was to send me to England on the Kindertransport to live with my uncle, Helmut Kantorowicz, his wife Berta, known as Putti, and his mother Regina – and for my parents to join me. My uncle emigrated in 1933; my father stayed behind as he didn’t want to leave the family firm.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • Wireless Industry To Request En Banc Appeal Hearing On Net Neutrality Rules

      After months of anticipation, last June the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit upheld the FCC’s Open Internet Order, an indisputably-massive win for net neutrality advocates. Not too surprisingly, net neutrality opponents have been engaged in histrionics ever since, with ISP loyal allies in Congress doing their best to punish the FCC with a series of senseless, taxpayer funded “accountability hearings” designed specifically to shame the agency for daring to stand up to large, incumbent ISPs. That’s when they’re not busy trying to gut FCC funding and authority via a rotating crop of sneaky bill riders.

      As Mike and I noted in a recent Techdirt podcast on net neutrality, most of these efforts are just lawmakers barking for their campaign contributions. There are really only a few ways for ISPs to effectively kill the rules, one of which being the election of a President who’ll restock the FCC with revolving door regulators who’ll either try to roll back the rules, or (more likely) will just refuse to enforce them whatsoever.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Trademarks

      • Olympic Games: Trademark Revenues Are High Stakes

        With a budget of over 2 US$ billion, the Brazilian Olympics rely heavily on commercial sponsors and licensing for revenue. Protecting the Olympic symbols is thus an imperative for the games with stringent rules on the use of those symbols and related signs. However, the fame of the event also draws covetousness from a variety of commercial actors seeking free rides, which is a dangerous endeavour, according to legal sources. Brazil adopted special rules for the occasion, while in the United States the protection is particularly stringent.

    • Copyrights

      • Brexit Could Have Broad Impact On UK Audiovisual Sector

        It is too soon to say precisely what impact the United Kingdom’s departure from the European Union might have on Britain’s audiovisual sector, but among other things, Brexit could bring changes to the scope of copyright law and protections, rights clearance, online AV services and content creation, lawyers said.

      • Movie Studios Teamed Up And Removed KAT.am From The Internet

        The Motion Pictures Association of America (MPAA) has taken serious measures to get rid of the new KAT.am domain that appeared online a few days ago. After sending a warning email to the operator, MPA has managed to get the website deleted by taking the help of the Armenian registry.

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