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Managing IP (MIP) Organises a UPC Event (European Patent ‘Reform’ Forum), the Largest Patent Microcosm/Corporate Players Dominate Through Fee Discrimination

Posted in Europe, Patents at 4:00 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Entering corridors of Power (for connections and influence)

MIP event

Summary: The latest example of what’s so utterly wrong with a bunch of conglomerates and their patent lawyers steering public policy and meeting in private to shape the law in their own favour

THE Web site Managing IP (MIP) is nowhere as bad as IAM, the EPO‘s mouthpiece of choice which sets up events for the EPO (funded in part by the EPO’s truly malicious PR firm).

“Their fear is probably an informed public which is abreast of their protectionist schemes (like ISDS).”Patent ‘elites’ must heed the warning of populist rage against injustices like the UPC, but they don’t. They just try to keep things more of less secret or in the shadows. Their fear is probably an informed public which is abreast of their protectionist schemes (like ISDS).

Based on IP Kat‘s “Friday Fun” [sic], MIP sets up a dubious event (covering “UPC and Brexit”). It is encouraging the attendance of patent maximalists and, as usual, leaving critical voices shut out through prohibitive costs and no chance of a speaking position, impact etc. Here is the direct link and here is how IP Kat put it: “MIP European Patent Reform Forum. Managing IP’s upcoming European Patent Reform Forum will be taking place in Munich on September 6 and in Paris on September 8. There will be plenty to discuss this year, and with topics like the UPC and Brexit on the table the forum and dialogue promise to be exceptionally interesting. The programmes also offer presentations on FRAND terms, enforcement and evidence of infringement from an impressive selection of speakers, so this event is really not to be missed.

“In-house, patent and IP counsel can attend the Forum for free, and other private practice IPKat readers can attend for a discounted price of €820 + VAT (usually €1095). To register for Munich, it’s here – for Paris, here, or you can email or contact Managing IP.”

“It’s the kind of congregation that’s typically encouraging collusion and/or conspiracy against public interests and with fees so high (over a thousand pounds for just a little chair… for one day) don’t expect public interest groups to attend.”“Why is it that,” asked one person, an attendant “who works in-house in a multi-billion dollar global company, get to attend for free?” Well, Team UPC and others inside the patent microcosm wish to be of influence for big businesses and for big money (they are, after all, their biggest clients). These events are, in practice, primarily about making connections in corridors and behind closed doors. The fee lets one brush shoulders and make contracts/contacts with potential clients, partners, officials etc. That’s just how lobbying works, too. It’s the kind of congregation that’s typically encouraging collusion and/or conspiracy against public interests and with fees so high (over a thousand pounds for just a little chair… for one day) don’t expect public interest groups to attend. It’s worth noting that FRAND, which is against FOSS, will be discussed at the event. Will there be any opponents there? Opponents of FRAND? Unlikely. It’s an echo chamber.

Having mentioned Lucy Neville-Rolfe just a few days ago, it’s worth noting that the above from IP Kat takes note of her too. She is considered the person to influence (or lobby) right now.

MIP is not an evil site, but when it comes to business models (like firm endorsements and recommendations or even lobbying opportunities) it needs to be careful as it jeopardises its integrity.

Francis Gurry — Like Benoît Battistelli — Compared to Sepp Blatter of FIFA

Posted in Europe, Patents at 3:27 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Attacks on whistleblowers and/or on staff unions inside international organisations is not just an EPO thing

EPO meme

Summary: The actions of Francis Gurry discredit the UN and do a disservice to everyone in the same way that Battistelli’s terrible actions discredit Europe and threaten Europe’s industry

THE EPO‘s members of staff are having breaks this summer (there’s no shortage of those), so SUEPO has not been saying much in nearly a month. It would be hard to organise protests right now. Those who should be held accountable are probably not even at the Office.

This morning SUEPO mentioned USF [1, 2, 3] (yet again), having also caught up with AMBA’s response to Battistelli's persistent attacks, culminating in ‘exile’ (see this leaked message).

“Those who should be held accountable are probably not even at the Office.”No doubt we’ll return to covering the EPO affairs pretty soon (there’s a lot more in store). In the mean time, here is the bit about WIPO, whose staff's situation is in many ways similar to that of the EPO's staff (including Battistelli-Gurry overlaps).

“The USF published an article entitled “WIPO – Stop union-busting and stop retaliation against whistleblowers”,” SUEPO wrote today (there is also a French version). To quote the English-speaking page:

In September 2014 the Director General of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), Francis Gurry, fired WIPO Staff Council President, Moncef Kateb, as he was about to reveal damaging information about fraud, wrongdoing, mismanagement and theft of staff DNA. Now Gurry is trying to close down the Staff Council and replace it with a new compliant, management-friendly model.

Gurry decided to set up his own WIPO Staff Council and is currently preparing illegal elections in order to dislodge the current duly elected Staff Council which is too critical for his liking. This will leave WIPO staff deprived of the last independent voice that is prepared to expose bad practices and abuse of power in this United Nations Specialized Agency.

It is a desperate move by Gurry at a time when attempts are being made to cover up and suppress an investigation report, apparently containing adverse findings on allegations made against him. It follows a public hearing at the US Congress at which he was compared to Sepp Blatter, the former President of FIFA, and a letter from the heads of several bipartisan sub-committees demanding his dismissal.

We need your support.

Please tell Gurry to stop retaliation against whistleblowers and the legally elected Staff Council. Please tell the WIPO Member States to call for Gurry’s resignation. The credibility of the Organization, its Member States and the entire UN system is at stake.

So even Gurry was “compared to Sepp Blatter, the former President of FIFA,” making Battistelli a little jealous perhaps (now they have competition, after Gurry beat Battistelli to the WIPO position). Who will be the first to end up like Blatter? Will it be Gurry or Battistelli? Will it eventually be both?

How Low-Quality USPTO Patents Made the US Fertile Ground for Patent Trolling

Posted in America, Apple, Patents, Samsung at 2:55 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

And why EPO policies under Battistelli will emulate the worst aspects of the USPTO

HTC deviceSummary: The Government Accountability Office (GAO) explains that decline in patent quality in the US is responsible for a hostile environment which fosters litigation rather than innovation; BlackBerry the latest example of patent assertion firms (trolls) which would make phones ‘dumber’ (features like a mechanical keyboard removed or never added in the first place)

LAST month we wrote about GAO in relation to the EPO [1, 2], demonstrating that the US patent system has gone out of touch and increasingly disconnected from the raison d’être of patents.

A good but somewhat belated article from TechDirt covers this topic, citing the Government Accountability Office for support:

This shouldn’t be a surprise. All the way back in 2004, in Adam Jaffe’s and Josh Lerner’s excellent book about our dysfunctional patent system, Innovation and Its Discontents, one of the key problems they outlined with the system was the fact that there was strong incentives for patent examiners at the US Patent Office to approve shit patents. That’s because they were rewarded for how “productive” they were in terms of how many patent applications they completed processing. Now, you might think that shouldn’t encourage approvals — except that there’s no such thing as a true “final rejection” from the patent office (they have something called a final rejection, but it’s not — applicants can just make some changes and try again… forever). So rejecting a patent, inevitably, harms your productivity rates as an examiner. Approving a patent gets it off your plate and is considered “done.” Rejecting it means having to spend many more hours on that same patent when the inventor comes back to get another chance.

After Jaffe and Lerner made that criticism clear, it seemed like the Patent Office started to take the issue to heart and they actually started changing some of how examiners were rated. And, for a few years, it seemed like things were heading in the right direction. But then, once David Kappos took over, he noticed that a lot of patent holders were complaining that it took too long to get patents approved. Apparently ignoring all of the evidence that pushing examiners to review patents quickly ends up in disaster, Kappos put back in place an incentive structure to encourage examiners to approve more patents. He kept focusing on the need to get through the backlog and speed up the application process, rather than recognizing what a disaster it would be. Of course, some of us predicted it and were mocked in the comments by patent lawyers who insisted we were crazy to suggest that the USPTO would lower its standards.

Of course, an academic study a few years ago found that was absolutely happening and now, to make the point even clearer, the Government Accountability Office, which tends to do really fantastic work, has written a report that agrees. It blames the Patent Office’s focus on rapidly approving patents for the flood of low quality patents and the resulting patent trolling epidemic…

Noting that last part about a “trolling epidemic” (to the point where 90% of all technology lawsuits are filed by trolls), we wish to highlight the correlation between abstract software patents and software patent trolls. Since half a decade ago we have highlighted the strong correlation between patent trolls and software patents, so had the USPTO stopped granting patents on software, a lot of this “trolling epidemic” would go away almost entirely. It would not be a viable business model for reasons we explained here repeatedly over the years. Given an extraordinary number of patents granted to BlackBerry (far too many to be deemed high quality), this is relevant to the past week’s news. BlackBerry, which is rapidly becoming a troll (or PAE) down in Texas [1, 2], has generated more and more headlines in recent days, e.g. [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6]. “Blackberry is now a troll,” wrote Benjamin Henrion (FFII). “Too bad NTP did not kill them 10 years ago.”

BlackBerry is one among many such companies. Apple, for example, having totally lost the plot to Android in India (where Android is now estimated to have 97% of the market; see daily links for details), is suing endlessly. Is there another Apple-Samsung patent war in the making? As one site notes right now: “Samsung filed a patent for a smartwatch with a detachable strap. Detachable band straps are already there. So, what’s the big deal? Their new smartwatch looks like the Apple’s iWatch. Now, that’s a big deal.

“Samsung is not eyeing another patent war with Apple, hopefully, they aren’t. Because, the last time when they did it, they had to suffer for it. A California court had ordered Samsung to pay 548 million dollars.”

“It would mean that phones must have features and parts removed from them.”Apple has been suing Android OEMs for more than 6 years, starting with HTC. We expect BlackBerry to do the same thing pretty soon. Does that mean more innovation? Quite the contrary. It would mean that phones must have features and parts removed from them.

Links 6/8/2016: Wine 1.9.16, Tizen SDK 2.4 Rev8

Posted in News Roundup at 1:18 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish



Free Software/Open Source

  • Government must consider open-source software – ACT

    ACT Leader David Seymour today called on the Government to take a new approach in its software procurement policies, allowing substantial savings to the taxpayer.

    “A substantial number of civil servants could generate the same output using open source software and open document formats, instead of proprietary software like Microsoft Office,” said Mr Seymour.

    “Departments should see what functions government employees need in their software, then source software that fulfils those functions.

    “Countless private businesses already use open-source software to achieve efficiencies and savings. There’s no reason we shouldn’t expect the same from our Government.

  • The FCC just forced TP-Link to support open-source router firmware
  • FCC announces $200000 settlement with TP-Link
  • A new open source database, open source firmware on TP-Link routers, and more news
  • Upskill U Kicks Off Open Source Courses

    As service providers seek to rapidly implement virtualization, open source software is emerging as a crucial tool in both expediting the software development process and creating an agile virtualized network architecture. But, open source isn’t without its challenges and operators are pursuing open source strategies that strike a balance with traditional standards-based development processes, ensuring the software they use is both robust and secure.

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • Mozilla Firefox 48.0 Lands in All Supported Ubuntu OSes, Solus and Arch Linux

        It took them a couple of days, but the maintainers of the most popular GNU/Linux distributions have pushed the final release of the Mozilla Firefox 48.0 web browser to the stable channels, for users to upgrade from Mozilla Firefox 47.0.1.

      • Let’s Encrypt Root to be Trusted by Mozilla

        The Let’s Encrypt root key (ISRG Root X1) will be trusted by default in Firefox 50, which is scheduled to ship in Q4 2016. Acceptance into the Mozilla root program is a major milestone as we aim to rely on our own root for trust and have greater independence as a certificate authority (CA).

        Public CAs need their certificates to be trusted by browsers and devices. CAs that want to issue independently under their own root accomplish this by either buying an existing trusted root, or by creating a new root and working to get it trusted. Let’s Encrypt chose to go the second route.

  • Databases

    • Graph Databases for Beginners: Graph Search Algorithm Basics

      As has been illustrated above, graph search algorithms are helpful in traversing a set of graph data and providing relevant information. However, they also have their limitations. We have seen that there are many varieties of search algorithms, ranging from the more basic breadth-first and depth-first to uninformed and informed searches to the Dijkstra’s and A* algorithms. Each has its own strengths and weaknesses, and no one type is better than another.

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice

    • Review: LibreOffice 5.2 — solid, unpolished alternative

      LibreOffice is an office suite that rivals Microsoft Office yet costs nothing. There are versions for Windows, OS X and Linux along with a portable edition that works from a USB drive.

      If you’re on a tight budget and have a Windows PC, LibreOffice is by far the best alternative to Office. It is more complete than Google Apps and leaves Apache OpenOffice for dead.

      OS X users have a good alternative free option. Apple’s iWorks suite is free with new Macs. Even so, you might prefer LibreOffice because it has better Microsoft Office compatibility.

      LibreOffice looks and feels more like Microsoft Office than iWorks. If you know Microsoft Office, moving to LibreOffice will be less of a wrench. It also includes a database unlike either the OS X version of Microsoft Office or iWorks. If you need a simple database and have no budget, LibreOffice would be ideal.

      Some Linux distributions include LibreOffice either as standard or as an optional download. It’s a more straightforward choice than using a tool like Wine to run Microsoft Office.

    • Apache OpenOffice 4.1.2 Review

      Every computer needs applications to do any work, and that means more money. Except for open-source software, like OpenOffice, which is free. In the case of OpenOffice, the free software looks and acts like Microsoft Office circa 2003, and includes a word processor, spreadsheet and presentation creator. Not only does OpenOffice look and feel like Office, but it also reads and writes Office files so well that most users could exchange files between the two suites and no one would know the difference.

    • Best Microsoft Office Alternatives 2016
  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

  • BSD

    • FreeBSD 11.0 Has Been Pushed Back By One Week

      FreeBSD 11.0 has seen a very minor set-back in getting its release out the door.

      Due to a problem surrounding ZFS and VFS in 11.0, developers have decided to tack on an extra beta release and delay the branching and release candidates for FreeBSD 11.0.


    • The GNU C Library version 2.24 is now available
    • GCC 6.2 Is Coming Quite Soon

      Version 6.2 of the GNU Compiler Collection (GCC) is expected to come quite soon.

      This is important as GCC 6.2 is the first point release to the stable GCC6 compiler under the versioning scheme they rolled out last year: GCC 6.0 was development, GCC 6.1 was the first stable release, and GCC 6.2 is now the first point release. That’s important since a number of distribution vendors tend to wait until around this first point release before incorporating a major new version of the GCC compiler.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

    • Open Access/Content

      • Sales number for the Free Culture translation, first half of 2016

        As my regular readers probably remember, the last year I published a French and Norwegian translation of the classic Free Culture book by the founder of the Creative Commons movement, Lawrence Lessig. A bit less known is the fact that due to the way I created the translations, using docbook and po4a, I also recreated the English original. And because I already had created a new the PDF edition, I published it too. The revenue from the books are sent to the Creative Commons Corporation. In other words, I do not earn any money from this project, I just earn the warm fuzzy feeling that the text is available for a wider audience and more people can learn why the Creative Commons is needed.

  • Programming/Development

    • Moving to GitLab! Yes, it’s worth it!

      I started evangelizing Git in 2007. It was a very tough sell to make at the time.

      Outside of the kernel development almost no one wanted to learn it and we had very worthy competitors, from Subversion, to Mercurial, to Bazaar, to Darcs, to Perforce, and so on. But those of use that dug deeper knew that Git had the edge and it was a matter of time.

      Then GitHub showed up in 2008 and the rest is history. For many years it was just “cool” to be in GitHub. The Ruby community drove GitHub up into the sky. Finally it became the status quo and the one real monopoly in information repositories – not just software source code, but everything.

      I always knew that we should have a “local” option, which is why I tried to contribute to Gitorious way back in 2009. Other options arose, but eventually GitLab appeared around 2011 and picked up steam in the last couple of years.

    • PHP 7.1 Beta 2 Released

      The second beta of the upcoming PHP 7.1 major release is now available for testing.

      The PHP 7.1.0 Beta 2 release has core fixes, various calendar / cURL / GD / PCRE / SPL / Streams fixes, and a variety of other bug fixes.

    • PHP 7.1.0 Beta 2 Released

      The PHP development team announces the immediate availability of PHP 7.1.0 Beta 2. This release is the second beta for 7.1.0. All users of PHP are encouraged to test this version carefully, and report any bugs and incompatibilities in the bug tracking system.


  • FTC to Crack Down on Paid Celebrity Posts That Aren’t Clear Ads

    Snapchat star DJ Khaled raves about Ciroc vodka. Fashion lifestyle blogger Cara Loren Van Brocklin posts a selfie with PCA Skin sunscreen. Internet personality iJustine posts Instagrams from an Intel event. Missing from their messages: any indication about whether they’ve been paid.

    This uptick in celebrities peddling brand messages on their personal accounts, light on explicit disclosure, has not gone unnoticed by the U.S. government. The Federal Trade Commission is planning to get tougher: Users need to be clear when they’re getting paid to promote something, and hashtags like #ad, #sp, #sponsored –common forms of identification– are not always enough. The agency will be putting the onus on the advertisers to make sure they comply, according to Michael Ostheimer, a deputy in the FTC’s Ad Practices Division. It’s a move that could make the posts seem less authentic, reducing their impact.

    “We’ve been interested in deceptive endorsements for decades and this is a new way in which they are appearing,” he said. “We believe consumers put stock in endorsements and we want to make sure they are not being deceived.”

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Dangerous Liaisons: ChemChina’s Bid for Syngenta

      Switzerland-based Syngenta AG is best known for its top-selling herbicide, atrazine; for trying to fool the world into thinking its genetically engineered Golden Rice will save the world; and for taking out pollinators with its neonicotinoid pesticides.

    • Olympic executives cash in on a ‘Movement’ that keeps athletes poor

      Its members call it, with an almost religious conviction, “the Olympic Movement,” or “the Movement” for short, always capitalized.

      At the very top of “the Movement” sits the International Olympic Committee, a nonprofit run by a “volunteer” president who gets an annual “allowance” of $251,000 and lives rent-free in a five-star hotel and spa in Switzerland.

      At the very bottom of “the Movement” — beneath the IOC members who travel first-class and get paid thousands of dollars just to attend the Olympics, beneath the executives who make hundreds of thousands to organize the Games, beneath the international sports federations, the national sport federations and the national Olympic committees and all of their employees — are the actual athletes whose moments of triumph and pain will flicker on television screens around the globe starting Friday.

    • Olympic Athletes Are About to Sail Through a Toxic Bay of Shit

      One of the first things Olympic Games tourists will notice in Rio de Janeiro is the toxic vista of Guanabara Bay. It’s the official site of the competition’s sailing races, but local residents know it as the country’s unofficial sewage dump.

      An estimated 70 percent of the coastal city’s trash—waste from 12 million people—flows untreated into Guanabara Bay from 55 dying, ecologically degraded rivers. As part of its bid to host the Olympics, Rio de Janeiro’s government promised to cleanup the polluted waterway, which now overflows with garbage, chemicals, and human excrement. But come August, environmental surveys reported viral and bacterial levels so high, that ingesting three teaspoons of water could cause brain inflammation, respiratory failure, and heart illnesses.

    • Rio’s real vs. unmet Olympic legacies: what they tell us about the future of cities?

      The heavily corporate city Rio has attempted to create, resulting in exacerbated urban problems of spatial, economic and social inequalities, is creating the conditions for Rio as the Singular City.

    • The $100,000-Per-Year Pill: How US Health Agencies Choose Pharma Over Patients

      Don Reichmuth survived prostate cancer once before, back in 2007, so his physician was concerned when tests recently revealed the cancer had returned. Reichmuth’s physician prescribed a drug called enzalutamide, marketed by the Japanese company Astellas Pharma, Inc. under the brand name Xtandi. But when the physician sent the prescription to the pharmacy, the managers of Reichmuth’s insurance plan sent back an immediate refusal to approve it.

      Reichmuth, a retired teacher who lives in Washington State, was puzzled by the logic. Then he learned the price of the Xtandi prescription: over $9,700 each month.

      Reichmuth is just one of millions of Americans who are experiencing prescription drug sticker shock. There are the extreme high-profile examples, like the former hedge fund manager Martin Shkreli hiking the price of a critical toxoplasmosis drug by 5,000 percent overnight, or a new hepatitis C medicine costing over $1,000 a pill. But the issue extends beyond the headlines. Pharmaceutical corporations consistently set most of their prices hundreds of times higher than their manufacturing costs, then relentlessly raise those prices at rates far exceeding inflation. The result is breathtaking corporate profits as high as 42 percent annually. The industry’s average return on assets more than doubles that of the rest of the Fortune 500.

  • Security

    • Linux Botnets on a Rampage [Ed: Kaspersky marketing in essence]

      Linux-operated botnet Distributed Denial of Service attacks surged in this year’s second quarter, due to growing interest in targeting Chinese servers, according to a Kaspersky Lab report released this week. South Korea kept its top ranking for having the most command-and-control servers. Brazil, Italy and Israel ranked among the leaders behind South Korea for hosting C&C servers, according to Kaspersky Lab. DDoS attacks affected resources in 70 countries, with targets in China absorbing 77 percent of all attacks.

    • Machine-Learning Algorithm Combs the Darknet for Zero Day Exploits, and Finds Them

      In April, cybersecurity experts found an exploit based on this vulnerability for sale on a darknet marketplace where the seller was asking around $15,000. In July, the first malware appeared that used this vulnerability. This piece of malware, the Dyre Banking Trojan, targeted users all over the world and was designed to steal credit-card numbers from infected computers.

      The episode provided a key insight into the way malware evolves. In the space of just a few months, hackers had turned a vulnerability into an exploit, offered this for sale, and then saw it developed into malware that was released into the wild.

    • Frequent password changes are the enemy of security, FTC technologist says

      Shortly after Carnegie Mellon University professor Lorrie Cranor became chief technologist at the Federal Trade Commission in January, she was surprised by an official agency tweet that echoed some oft-repeated security advice. It read: “Encourage your loved ones to change passwords often, making them long, strong, and unique.” Cranor wasted no time challenging it.

      The reasoning behind the advice is that an organization’s network may have attackers inside who have yet to be discovered. Frequent password changes lock them out. But to a university professor who focuses on security, Cranor found the advice problematic for a couple of reasons. For one, a growing body of research suggests that frequent password changes make security worse. As if repeating advice that’s based more on superstition than hard data wasn’t bad enough, the tweet was even more annoying because all six of the government passwords she used had to be changed every 60 days.

    • Managing Encrypted Backups in Linux, Part 2

      In part 1, we learned how to make simple automated unencrypted and encrypted backups. In this article, I will show you how to fine-tune your file selection, and how to backup your encryption keys.

    • Getting started with Tails, the encrypted, leave-no-trace operating system

      Tails, an encrypted and anonymous OS that bundles widely used open source privacy tools on a tiny device, is one of the most secure operating systems in the world. The Linux distribution rose to popularity when it was revealed Edward Snowden relied on Tails to secure his identity while sharing NSA secrets with journalists Glenn Greenwald and Laura Poitras. In the past half decade, Tails has been embraced as an essential security suite by journalists, hackers, and IT workers.

      Tails is an acronym for The Amnesic Incognito Live System. The OS runs Debian and is easy to run on Macs and PCs from a USB drive. Tails encrypts all local files, runs every internet connection through Tor and blocks all non-secure connections, and provides a suite of secure communication tools like the Tor browser, HTTPS Everywhere, OpenPGP, the Claws Mail client, I2P, an IP address overlay network, and a Windows 8 camouflage mode to deter over-the-shoulder snooping.

    • Never Trust a Found USB Drive, Black Hat Demo Shows Why [Ed: Windows autoruns stuff]

      Does dropping an infected USB drive in a parking work when it comes to a hacker luring its prey into a digital trap? The answer is a resounding yes.

      At Black Hat USA, security researcher Elie Bursztein shared the results of an experiment where he dropped 297 USB drives with phone-home capabilities on the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign campus. He also explained how an attacker might program and camouflage a malicious USB drive outfitted with a Teensy development board to take over a target’s computer within seconds after plugging the drive in.

    • Friday’s security updates
    • How to Hack an Election in 7 Minute

      When Princeton professor Andrew Appel decided to hack into a voting machine, he didn’t try to mimic the Russian attackers who hacked into the Democratic National Committee’s database last month. He didn’t write malicious code, or linger near a polling place where the machines can go unguarded for days.

    • Apache OpenOffice and CVE-2016-1513

      The Apache OpenOffice (AOO) project has suffered from a lack of developers for some time now; releases are infrequent and development of new features is relatively slow. But a recent security advisory for CVE-2016-1513 is rather eye-opening in that it further shows that the project is in rough shape. Announcing a potential code execution vulnerability without quickly providing a new release of AOO may be putting users of the tool at more risk than they realize.

    • New attack steals SSNs, e-mail addresses, and more from HTTPS pages
  • Defence/Aggression

    • Two Belgian police hurt by machete-wielding assailant shouting ‘Allahu akbar’

      A machete-wielding man shouting “Allahu akbar” (God is the greatest) wounded two policewomen in the southern Belgian city of Charleroi on Saturday before being shot and injured, local police said.

      One of the policewomen was taken to hospital with “deep wounds to the face” while the other was slightly injured, Belga news agency said.

      The incident took place outside the main police station.

      Belgium has been on high security alert for months since suicide bombers hit Brussels airport and a subway station near the European Union’s institutions on March 22, killing 32 people.

    • Beijing sends bombers, fighter jets on combat patrols over contested S. China Sea

      China has said it carried out a combat air patrol over contested islands in the South China Sea. In a separate incident, roughly 230 Chinese fishing vessels and Coast Guard ships were spotted near East China Sea islets, triggering an angry response from Japan.

      Several Chinese aircraft, including H-6K long-range bombers and Su-30 fighter jets, went on patrol over two contested islands in the South China Sea, Senior Colonel Shen Jinke, a spokesperson for the Air Force said on Saturday, according to the Xinhua news agency.

      The warplanes were escorted by Airborne Early Warning Aircraft (AWACS) and flying tankers, which were part of “actual combat training to improve the Air Force’s response to security threats,” the Air Force said.

    • I Ran the C.I.A. Now I’m Endorsing Hillary Clinton. [Sharyl Attkisson: “..nothing against Morell, he’s an expert in many areas, but his employment at pro-Hillary PR firm is required disclosure (in my opinion).”]
    • CIA Director Entry Number 2: Mike Morell, Fabulist

      Don’t get me wrong. I’m all in favor in making political hay out of Trump’s call on Putin to hack Hillary, especially coming as it does from someone (unlike Jake Sullivan and Leon Panetta) without a known history of mishandling classified information.

      But that line? “recruited Mr. Trump as an unwitting agent of the Russian Federation”? That’s all about the clicks, and it has been serving splendidly. Just like “Slam Dunk” was a nifty line.

      In a piece auditioning to be CIA Director, I’d prefer someone stick more rigorously to the truth. Trump is an apologist for Putin, undoubtedly, but there’s no more evidence Putin has recruited Trump (unwittingly) than there is, say, the Saudis have recruited Hillary. They’re all just picking the assholes they champion, with Hillary picking the assholes we’ve long championed.

      Then again, this is not the first time Morell has stretched the truth a bit — up to and including on torture, so we shouldn’t be surprised by the tactic.

    • Commentary: The world’s best cyber army doesn’t belong to Russia

      National attention is focused on Russian eavesdroppers’ possible targeting of U.S. presidential candidates and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. Yet, leaked top-secret National Security Agency documents show that the Obama administration has long been involved in major bugging operations against the election campaigns — and the presidents — of even its closest allies.

      The United States is, by far, the world’s most aggressive nation when it comes to cyberspying and cyberwarfare. The National Security Agency has been eavesdropping on foreign cities, politicians, elections and entire countries since it first turned on its receivers in 1952. Just as other countries, including Russia, attempt to do to the United States. What is new is a country leaking the intercepts back to the public of the target nation through a middleperson.

      There is a strange irony in this. Russia, if it is actually involved in the hacking of the computers of the Democratic National Committee, could be attempting to influence a U.S. election by leaking to the American public the falsehoods of its leaders. This is a tactic Washington used against the Soviet Union and other countries during the Cold War.

      In the 1950s, for example, President Harry S Truman created the Campaign of Truth to reveal to the Russian people the “Big Lies” of their government. Washington had often discovered these lies through eavesdropping and other espionage.

      Today, the United States has morphed from a Cold War, and in some cases a hot war, into a cyberwar, with computer coding replacing bullets and bombs. Yet the American public manages to be “shocked, shocked” that a foreign country would attempt to conduct cyberespionage on the United States.

      NSA operations have, for example, recently delved into elections in Mexico, targeting its last presidential campaign. According to a top-secret PowerPoint presentation leaked by former NSA contract employee Edward Snowden, the operation involved a “surge effort against one of Mexico’s leading presidential candidates, Enrique Peña Nieto, and nine of his close associates.” Peña won that election and is now Mexico’s president.

      The NSA identified Peña’s cellphone and those of his associates using advanced software that can filter out specific phones from the swarm around the candidate. These lines were then targeted. The technology, one NSA analyst noted, “might find a needle in a haystack.” The analyst described it as “a repeatable and efficient” process.

      The eavesdroppers also succeeded in intercepting 85,489 text messages, a Der Spiegel article noted.

    • Former South Sudan official says ‘total breakdown of law and order’ in country

      Carved out of Sudan following years of civil war and the Darfur genocide, South Sudan was originally touted as a U.S. foreign policy success story after a vote for independence in 2011, but in the five years since, the country has been overrun by an internal war that has resulted in mass murders, gang rapes and torture.

      After speaking to Fox News last year, former government official Joseph Bakosoro was arrested and jailed. He recently escaped to the United States and says America must help — and soon, or another genocide is imminent.

      “There are insecurities all over the country, there are gunmen all over. There is no rule of law in the country now,” he said. “Everybody’s above the law. Every individual has a gun and there is total breakdown of law and order.”

      There are more than 60 tribes within South Sudan, but the majority Dinka has held rule since the country’s inception. Other tribes claim to have endured mass killings, rapes and worse at the hands of the Dinka. In response, the second largest tribe, the Nuer, formed rebel forces and have gained ground in recent months.

    • ‘You can’t deny the people forever’. Kurdish voices in exile.

      Over baklava and sweet tea, openDemocracy hears about Turkey’s post-coup crackdown and the dreams of an independent Kurdistan.

    • Ash-Lee Woodard Henderson on A Vision for Black Lives, William Hartung on US Arms Trade

      This week on CounterSpin: The Movement for Black Lives has never relied on corporate media to get their message out. But the coalition’s newly released policy platform does provide an opportunity for journalists—sometimes given to ponder what black activists are for—to engage those ideas. We’ll hear about A Vision for Black Lives: Policy Demands for Black Power, Freedom & Justice from Ash-Lee Woodard Henderson, an organizer with Project South and with Concerned Citizens for Justice, and part of the policy table leadership team of the Movement for Black Lives.

    • Nixon says public defender maneuver not legal

      Naming Nixon as a public defender is not the only attempt by Barrett to recover the money Nixon is withholding. The commission last month filed a lawsuit seeking to force Nixon to release the money. An initial hearing on that case is set for Monday.

    • To Make a Point, Missouri’s Lead Public Defender Assigns a Case to Gov. Jay Nixon
    • Was America Great When It Burned Native Babies? (Audio)

      Benjamin Madley, a history professor at the University of California, Los Angeles, was exposed to the effects of colonization at an early age. “When I was a boy,” he explains, “my father was working with Karuk people, as a psychologist. … I was getting exposure to the ongoing conflicts between colonists—us—and the indigenous people of California.”

      Madley is the guest for this week’s “Scheer Intelligence” podcast. He joins Truthdig Editor in Chief Robert Scheer to discuss this too-little-known aspect of California history. The two begin by talking about the label “genocide,” a term used by Madley in his book, “An American Genocide: The United States and the California Catastrophe, 1846-1873.”

    • Behold, a Pale Horse and its Rider’s Name Was Death

      In Obama’s account, Washington is defeating ISIL in Iraq, but Russia and Assad are defeating the Syrian people in Syria. Obama denounced Russia and the Syrian government—but not ISIL—as barbaric. The message was clear: Washington still intends to overthrow Assad and turn Syria into another Libya and another Iraq, formerly stable and prosperous countries where war now rages continually.

      It sickens me to hear the President of the United States lie and construct a false reality, so I turned off the broadcast. I believe it was a press conference, and I am confident that no meaningful questions were asked.

    • Letting Saudi Arabia Off the 9/11 Hook [Ed: mentioned yesterday]

      The 9/11 attacks opened a bloody chapter of American history, “justifying” U.S. attacks on multiple countries but not on the one most connected to the terrorism, U.S. “ally,” Saudi Arabia. Why is that, asks Lawrence Davidson.

    • Is Hypocrisy The Silent Strategy of Western Democracy?

      The official reasons for the US-led, UK-backed invasion of Iraq in 2003 were to disarm Iraq of weapons of mass destruction, end Saddam Hussein’s support of terrorism, and free the Iraqi people.

      However, immediately after the United States deposed and killed Iraq’s dictator and established a new authority to govern the country, a chaotic post-invasion environment surfaced, militias formed, inter-ethnic violence between Sunnis and Shias increased, and the Abu Ghraib scandal came to light.

      In the following years, communities have been displaced, terror attacks have increased, and the Islamic State has emerged. Since the beginning of the invasion by the US and its allies until the present day, 180’000 civilians have lost their lives in Iraq, according to a database by the Iraq Body Count.

    • US to Give Argentina Files on American Role in ‘Horror’ of Military Dictatorship

      In Buenos Aires on Thursday, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said he would hand over declassified documents relating to America’s role in the 1976-83 military coup and dictatorship in Argentina—often referred to as the “Dirty War”—during which tens of thousands of leftist activists and dissidents were murdered and imprisoned.

      “I want to note that the relationship between the United States and Argentina is an exciting, forward-looking one. But we’re also conscious of the lessons from the past,” Kerry said during a press conference.

      The move comes amid warming relations between the U.S. and Argentina, which elected neoliberal businessman Mauricio Macri as president in November, signaling a rightward shift for the country. President Barack Obama announced in March that the U.S. would release the files.

    • Dispatches: Obama in Argentina on 40th Anniversary of the ‘Dirty War’

      On March 24, United States President Barack Obama finishes a two-day visit to Argentina. The visit coincides with the 40th anniversary of the Argentine military coup, which ushered in an era of brutal attacks on people perceived as dissidents, including executions, torture, and the abduction of detainees’ babies. Obama’s pledge to declassify military, intelligence, and law enforcement records related to Argentina’s “Dirty War” (1976-1983) is a critical contribution to the country’s efforts to bring those responsible for these serious abuses to justice.

    • Afghanistan: The campaign’s forgotten war

      Although hardly news, it bears repeating that the Afghanistan War stands as the longest in all of United States history. By election day, it will have entered its 16th year. Our next president will surely inherit the war there, just as Barack Obama inherited it from George W. Bush. Here is a situation where the phrase “endless war” is not hyperbole; it accurately describes reality.

      Given this depressing fact, one might think that those aspiring to the office of commander in chief would have something to say about how they intend to win or at least curtail that conflict, or perhaps why the U.S. should persist in such a costly endeavor. But in their lengthy convention speeches, neither Donald Trump (who spoke for 75 minutes) nor Hillary Clinton (who spoke for 66) found the time to even mention Afghanistan.

    • Baby Teeth of Iraqi Children Tell Troubling Tale of War’s Toxic Impacts

      New study finds exposure to heavy metals and other toxins having severe impact on generation who have grown up amid endless bombings and violence

    • Ex-CIA Chief and Torture Defender Endorses Clinton—Why Are Democrats Cheering?

      Morell has in the past defended torture, most publicly in a book published as a retort to the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee’s report on the CIA’s torture program during George W. Bush’s presidency.

    • Malaysia confirms Flight 370 pilot plotted fatal route

      Malaysia acknowledged for the first time that one of the pilots of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 had plotted a course on his home flight simulator to the southern Indian Ocean, where the missing jet is believed to have crashed.

      Australian officials overseeing the search for the plane last month said data recovered from Capt. Zaharie Ahmad Shah’s simulator included a flight path to the southern Indian Ocean. Malaysian officials at the time refused to confirm the findings.

    • Zimbabwe’s army chief threatens to deal with anti-Mugabe protesters

      Zimbabwe’s army commander said on Friday that his soldiers will deal with threats from activists using social media to mobilise anti-government protests, the first time the military has commented on the demonstrations.

      Lieutenant-General Valerio Sibanda, the Zimbabwe National Army Commander, said in an interview with state-owned The Herald newspaper that social media activism was cyber warfare that the army would deal with.

      Neither the army, which has anchored President Robert Mugabe’s 36-year rule, nor the police force have been paid on time since June.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • Melting Greenland Ice Cap Will Expose Military’s Cold War-Era Toxic Waste

      The rapidly warming climate will melt Greenland’s ice cap to such an extent that thousands of tons of hazardous waste left in the 1960s by a secret U.S. military base will be unearthed by the end of the century, new research finds.

      The biological, chemical, and radioactive waste will then seep into the ground and the sea, endangering humans and animals alike.

    • Melting Greenland ice sheet will soon unearth waste from long-forgotten Cold War-era military base

      In 1967, the U.S. decommissioned a military base that had been constructed underneath the Greenland Ice Sheet. In doing so, the military removed a portable nuclear reactor that had helped power the 200-person base, but left the rest of the waste there, from gasoline to PCBs and nuclear coolant water.

      At the time, the U.S., along with their Danish partners who had authority over Greenland, assumed the waste would be entombed for eternity beneath a perpetually deepening snow cover.

      However, what once was buried, global warming is poised to unearth. According to a new study published Wednesday in the journal Geophysical Research Letters, the melting ice sheet could begin spreading the hazardous waste across the surface of the ice sheet and into the ocean in as little as 75 years from now.

    • Largest Indonesian fires linked to El Nino events

      A team of researchers with NASA, several other U.S. institutions and one from Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam has found that large increases in Indonesian fire activity and the resulting smoke pollution that occur some years can be linked to El Niño events. In their paper published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the researchers describe their analysis of long-term satellite imagery, what it revealed and why they believe changes need to be made.

      Last year, fires in Indonesia drew headlines due to the massive amount of smoke generated and carried over long distances in the atmosphere. The fires were set by palm oil and other farmers in their fields as they sought to get rid of leftover debris—it is, according to the researchers, currently the most economic means for clearing fields. But the smoke is a form of pollution, irritating lungs and sending massive amounts of carbon dioxide into the air, adding to the amounts from other countries and contributing to global warming.

    • Louisiana Parish Hit by Third Oil Spill in Ten Days As Pressure Grows To Hold Oil and Gas Industry Accountable for Coastal Damage

      Yesterday, an estimated 4,200 gallons of crude oil was discharged from a well owned by the Texas Petroleum Investment Company into the mouth of the Mississippi River, according to the U.S. Coast Guard. The Coast Guard and other state agencies are now responding to the third oil spill in two weeks.

      Louisiana’s Plaquemines Parish coast was also hit with two oil spills last week. An estimated 4,200 gallons of crude oil attributed to oil and gas extraction company Hilcorp spilled in the marsh near Lake Grande Ecaille, part of Barataria Bay, on July 25. Three days later, 850 gallons were discharged by a Texas Petroleum Management flowline into marshland in the Southwest Pass.

    • Clinton Fundraises With Frackers

      Hillary Clinton is growing cozier with the hydraulic fracturing industry, just months after she promised to heavily regulate it.

      The Democratic Party’s presidential candidate attended a $50,000 per place fundraiser in Aspen, Colo. on Tuesday, hosted by fracking magnate Charif Souaki. The event raised $650,000 for the campaign.

      As the International Business Times reported, Souaki “amassed his fortune working for natural gas companies including one he founded last year, Tellurian Investments.” A subsidiary of Tellurian, Driftwood LNG, filed for a license in June with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to construct a natural gas export facility in Louisiana.

      Hydraulic fracturing—or fracking—refers to a process by which energy, primarily natural gas, is extracted. It involves shooting millions of gallons of water and chemicals into underground shale rock formations, which releases hydrocarbons trapped inside.

      Fracking is heavily scrutinized due to concerns about the slurry of chemicals used in the process. The injection of the industrial mixtures into the earth may be contaminating nearby drinking water sources, critics say. Congress passed legislation in 2005 that shields the industry from having to report on the contents of their fracking fluids.

  • Finance

    • Joseph Stiglitz resigns from Panama Papers committee over ‘censorship’
    • Nobel Prize-Winning Economist Stiglitz Quits Panama Papers Probe
    • Panama Papers: Pieth says officials are in denial as he quits
    • Panama Papers leak: Joseph Stiglitz and Mark Pieth resign from investigation committee
    • Stiglitz quits Panama Papers clean-up committee
    • Stiglitz quits Panama Papers commission, cites lack of transparency
    • Panama Papers: Joseph Stiglitz quits as government adviser
    • Exclusive – Stiglitz quits Panama Papers probe, cites lack of transparency
    • Panama Papers Probe Faces Major Setback as Stiglitz Quits Team
    • Panama Papers scandal to get Hollywood movie treatment
    • Britain owes the EU £21bn, report claims – but is it true?

      A German magazine has claimed the UK owes the EU €25bn (£21.2bn) in unpaid debts, its share of €200bn owed by all member states to the bloc, and that any Brexit deal will be blocked until London settles up. The report in Wirtschaftswoche quoted an anonymous EU official who said: “A deal with Great Britain is unimaginable if the British do not pay their outstanding debt.”

    • ‘White Trash’ — The Original Underclass

      Waste people. Rubbish. Clay-eaters. Hillbillies. Two new books that reckon with the long, bleak history of the country’s white poor suggest their plight shouldn’t have caught the rest of the country off guard.

    • The IMF confesses it immolated Greece on behalf of the Eurogroup

      What good is it to have a mea culpa if those officials who imposed such disastrous, inhuman policies remain on board and are, in fact, promoted for their gross incompetence?

    • Four-Year Campaign Results In Historic-Win For Tax Whistleblowers
    • Union got Trump Taj Mahal casino workers to kill own jobs: Icahn

      Billionaire investor Carl Icahn wrote a letter Thursday to the soon-to-be unemployed workers of the Trump Taj Mahal casino, accusing their union of inciting them to destroy their own jobs by participating in the longest strike by Atlantic City’s main casino workers union.

      Icahn told the workers that officials of Local 54 of the Unite-HERE union knew that the company had made its final offer, but rejected it anyway, knowing a strike would result.

      The union has been on strike since July 1. The central issue has been restoration of health insurance and pension benefits that the previous owners got a bankruptcy court judge to terminate in October 2014.

      Icahn said the company’s final offer to restore health care, albeit at a lower level than what workers at Atlantic City’s other seven casinos, was negotiated with union president Bob McDevitt.

    • Employment Again Rises Sharply in July

      The Labor Department reported the economy added 255,000 jobs in July. With the June number revised up to 292,000, the average for the last three months now stands at 190,000. The household survey also showed a positive picture, with employment rising by 420,000. With new people entering the labor force, the employment-to-population ratio (EPOP) edged up by 0.1 percentage point to 59.7 percent, while the unemployment rate remained unchanged at 4.9 percent.

    • Another Phony Jobs Report

      As John Williams has made clear, the monthly payroll jobs number consists mainly of an add-on factor of 200,000 jobs. These jobs are a product of the assumption in the Birth-Death Model that new business ventures create more unreported new jobs than the unreported job losses from business failures. If we sustract out this made-up number, July saw a gain of 55,000 jobs, not enough to keep up with population growth. Even the 55,000 figure is overstated according to John Williams’ report: “The gimmicked, headline payroll gain of 255,000 more realistically should have come in below zero, net of built-in upside biases.”

    • Forget Clinton’s and Trump’s Plans for the Economy: It’s Time to Erase Debt and Create Jobs

      So far, neither Donald Trump nor Hillary Clinton has offered a credible plan to restart the long-stalled U.S. economy.

      Trump favors lowering taxes to spur demand, a reduction in the supply of illegal foreign labor to boost wages, and modifying trade policy to encourage investment in U.S. manufacturing and create better-paying jobs. He also touts an unspecified infrastructure investment. Some argue that this approach will not provide jobs in the magnitude required, and will likely increase the federal deficit.

      Clinton favors higher taxes on the wealthy and more spending for infrastructure. To keep the debt off the federal government balance sheet, she has specifically proposed so-called public-private partnerships. This is the Wall Street solution. Public guarantees will be used to attract private investors, who will finance, own and rent back to the people the entire public infrastructure of the United States.

      Neither program gets at the real problems: Americans—families, students, businesses, state and local governments, school districts, etc.—are drowning in debt, and there is not enough money in circulation for productive, job-creating purposes. Instead, it is eaten up paying off debt.

    • U.S. Attorney Asks Court to Reconsider Countrywide Loan Case

      In an unusual move, the U.S. attorney for Manhattan’s Southern District has asked a three-judge panel on the Second Circuit Court of Appeals to reconsider a ruling that overturned a verdict that found Countrywide Home Loans and a bank executive liable for fraud. The company made billions of dollars of home loans that defaulted after the 2008 global meltdown.

    • The Goldwater Girl and the Wall Street Girl

      They are one and the same in Hillary. The Goldwater girl is the one who rooted for Goldwater’s racism and is also now the Wall St. girl.

      It is said of Trump that what you see is what you get. With Hillary what you see is what you don’t get. Trump provides some clarity, albeit distasteful, but shows what America has been and still largely is. This may lead to conflict upon election which may lead to change, the 1960s again! Hillary is not what you see—she will lead to thousands of people killed in her illegal invasions abroad, as her history makes clear but she obfuscates today, all the more reason she is dangerous. She already the other day again said that she will get rid of President Assad. Yet she cries foul about her election here influenced by Russia.

    • Dave Zirin: Protests by Athletes and Displaced Rio Residents Accompany Opening of 2016 Olympic Games

      Dave Zirin, sports editor for The Nation magazine, says protests highlighting racial and economic injustice are expected from athletes attending the 2016 Olympics in Brazil, such as tennis champion Serena Williams and players from the NBA, WNBA and other countries. Polls show more than 60 percent of Brazilians think hosting the Games will hurt their country. He says that ahead of today’s opening ceremony, residents of heavily policed and displaced neighborhoods plan a major march to Rio’s “Olympic City.”

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Surprise! There Isn’t a Single Woman on Trump’s New 15-Member Economic Advisory Council

      All things considered, it’s not terribly surprising that Trump would decline to name a female to his flashy new economic advisory council, considering she might be someone’s wife and that’s a “dangerous thing.” Still, one would hope Trump could name a single woman he’s willing to take advice from who’s not his daughter or the woman immediately in front of him. But alas, here we are.

    • Sorry Hillary, Voting for the Lesser of Two Evils is Textbook Blame-Shifting

      Of all the redundant and generally loathesome reasons for continuing to support the two-party duopoly that constitutes the electoral oligarchy upon which the global corporate empire we know and love maintains the most threadbare pretenses of democratic legitimacy, surely none are relied on more heavily than the old lesser-of-two-evils argument: which is to say, we must support the candidate we find the least hateful to reason and basic decency. As it happens, this is not only a repulsive line of thinking, it is also textbook blame shifting.

      Referring to the textbook, we find that blame shifting typically involve psychological strategies like playing the victim, victim blaming, demonizing our enemies, refusing to admit responsibility for wrongdoing, and articulating self-defenses in absolute terms, typically by refusing to acknowledge any difference between criticism of our behavior or policies and attacks on our person and rights. The latter most commonly manifests as the ‘with us or against us’ fallacy, which despite commonly being associated with former President George ‘Dubya’ Bush, is surprisingly common, as its repeated appearance in the Bible (eg. Matthew 12:30, Luke 9:50, Mark 9:40) seems to suggest.

      Social psychology classes this particular group of behaviors as ‘moral disengagement,’ or the subjective mechanisms we use to neutralize our conscience and reconstruct actions as just and morally legitimate that might be interpreted as unethical, immoral, harmful, dangerous, irresponsible or even criminal. This approach recognizes that we rarely reject the idea of morality out of hand, merely apply it selectively. Through selective application of principle on the basis of moral disengagement we retain the idea of ourselves as moral actors while finding various pretexts upon which to make exceptions to our principles for the sake of momentary expediency.

    • Roaming Charges: the Trump Conspiracy?

      here are real conspiracies, of course, like the CIA’s plots to kill Fidel Castro or the successful scheme to have Nelson Mandela arrested on terrorism charges. But most conspiracy theorists function to obscure and invalidate real conspiracies. Cockburn and I used to joke that the 9/11 conspiracists were, in fact, themselves a conspiracy seeded by the CIA to distract the Left from challenging the real objectives of the War of Terror. But that worked out much too well to have been a real CIA plot.

      Now, however, I feel myself slipping into the grip of a fever dream featuring Donald Trump as some kind of Manchurian Candidate designed to destroy the GOP and secure the election of the otherwise unelectable Mrs. Clinton.

    • Third-party candidates lose legal fight to get into presidential debates

      A long-shot lawsuit by the Libertarian and Green Party candidates for president has been tossed out by a federal judge, lowering the odds of a third-party candidate making it into this year’s televised debates.

      “We are exploring our options, with the firm resolve that this case and the larger issue of fair debates are too important to simply allow such an arbitrary dismissal,” said Ron Nielson, the campaign manager for Libertarian nominee Gary Johnson.

      Late last year, the largest third parties teamed up to argue that the Commission on Presidential Debates protected a de facto monopoly. Bruce Fein, the lawyer who drafted the lawsuit, hoped that a judge would see the private CPD as a gatekeeper for millions of dollars in free publicity, and its 15 percent polling threshold as a threat to the First Amendment. That, thought plaintiffs Gary Johnson and Jill Stein, would distinguish their cause from previous failures to open the debates.


      Since 1996, third-party candidates have tried and repeatedly failed to cross the CPD’s threshold — 15 percent support in an average of polls. Denied access, they have resorted to stunts. In 2000, Ralph Nader obtained a ticket to view one of the debates between Al Gore and George W. Bush, and made a fuss after he was denied entry. In 2012, Nader’s Green Party successor Jill Stein was arrested after a protest near the heavily-secured entrance of a debate site.


      But Johnson has struggled to hit 15 percent in any poll. In an average of polls collected by RealClearPolitics, he enjoys 8 percent support, a function of voter frustration with the major party candidates, but far short of what he needs for entry, even as the CPD suggests that it will round up if a third-party candidate closes on the magic number.

    • Judge rejects third parties’ suit against debate commission

      A federal judge has tossed out a lawsuit alleging that the Commission on Presidential Debates violated federal antitrust laws and the First Amendment by excluding third-party candidates.

      In a ruling Friday, U.S. District Court Judge Rosemary Collyer dismissed a suit filed last year by the Libertarian and Green parties as well their respective 2012 presidential nominees, former New Mexico Republican Gov. Gary Johnson and Jill Stein. Each also happens to be his or her party’s presidential nominee again this year.

      Collyer’s ruling found little, if any, merit in the suit. She said antitrust law had no relevance to the situation and many of the ills the plaintiffs complained of were of their own making, not the debate commission.

      “Plaintiffs in this case have not alleged a non-speculative injury traceable to the Commission,” wrote Collyer, who was appointed by President George W. Bush. “Plaintiffs’ alleged injuries are wholly speculative and are dependent entirely on media coverage decisions. The alleged injuries––failure to receive media coverage and to garner votes, federal matching funds, and campaign contributions—were caused by the lack of popular support of the candidates and their parties sufficient to attract media attention.”

    • Dr. Jill Stein’s Stiff Dose of Progressive Medicine

      I spoke to Dr. Jill Stein just days before she received the Green Party’s nomination for president. A Harvard-trained doctor, Stein also ran for the presidency in 2012, when she received about a half-million votes. Today, though, she hopes to pick up votes from many of the progressives who felt the Bern and have no interest in supporting Hillary Clinton, even though she’s running against Donald Trump. The following interview has been condensed and edited for brevity.

    • Protesters with pocket Constitutions removed from Trump rally

      A group of protesters at Donald Trump’s rally here on Thursday stood up silently during the Republican nominee’s speech and held up pocket copies of the Constitution.

      They were quickly ejected by campaign staffers and drew fierce boos and jeers from the roughly 1,800 Trump supporters packed into the auditorium, the capacity of the venue.


      Moments later, as the man interrupted Trump’s speech with shouts, a campaign staffer tapped him on the shoulder and escorted him out of the venue.

      The Republican nominee focused much of this speech on attacking Clinton and President Barack Obama.

      He also disputed that there was any “fissure” between him and running mate Mike Pence, after Pence endorsed House Speaker Paul Ryan’s reelection, while Trump has declined to support the Speaker.

      “Paul Ryan’s a good guy, actually, so Mike called me and he said, ‘Would you mind if I endorsed? I won’t do that if it causes any complications.’ … I said, ‘Mike, you like him?’ Yes. ‘Go and do it.’”

    • Donald Trump Admits He Gets Confused and Makes Things Up After Watching Fox News

      In other words, he mistakenly thought grainy video images shown over and over on Fox News this week — of three Americans of Iranian descent getting off a plane in Geneva in January, after being freed from jail in a prisoner swap with the United States — showed money the United States has owed to Iran since 1979 being delivered the same night.


      The transfer of $400 million to Iran by the Treasury Department has prompted outrage in the right-wing Twittersphere this week even though it was never secret. President Barack Obama announced it himself in January, calling the agreement to resolve a longstanding dispute over Iranian money held by Washington since the fall of the shah a side benefit of diplomatic ties renewed during talks over Iran’s nuclear energy program.

      An Iranian general boasted at the time that the money was a form of ransom paid to release the jailed Iranian-Americans, and this week the Wall Street Journal reported a new detail about the payment: that it was made in cash flown to Tehran on the same night the prisoners were freed. That led to renewed criticism of the deal from Republicans who argued, as they first did in January, that President Obama had paid ransom money to a state that held the American citizens as “hostages.”

    • Assange to speak to Green Party Convention via live feed

      Julian Assange, the founder of Wikileaks, the organization that recently posted thousands of the Democratic Party’s internal emails online, will speak via live stream at the Green Party national convention, party officials announced Friday.

      Assange is scheduled to speak at 11:45 a.m. Saturday over a live stream from the Embassy of Ecuador in London.

      He will speak on the third day of the progressive party’s national convention at the University of Houston, before the party nominates its 2016 presidential nominee, widely expected to be Jill Stein.

      Assange is expected to be interviewed by 2004 Green Party presidential nominee David Cobb, party officials said in a statement Friday.

    • Inside the DNC Walkouts

      The 2016 Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia was the most contentious since 1968. Characterized by bold protests both inside and outside the convention, the U.S. and world watched a powerful challenge to the Democratic establishment take place over the course of the week. The events helped fuel an already rapid growth in support for Green Party Candidate Jill Stein, which is developing into the most significant left independent presidential run since Ralph Nader’s historic campaign in 2000.

      The political high point of the convention resistance was the Tuesday mass walkout of delegates. While exact numbers are unknown, the clearest evidence (including video and photography of vacated delegation seats) points towards a walkout of likely more than 700 Sanders delegates after the abbreviated conclusion of the roll call vote. The large and well organized Sanders delegations from California and Washington led supermajorities of their delegates outside, leaving a visible void of more than 200 seats between those two states alone.

    • The Elective Affinities of Hillary Clinton

      I’m raving, you say? This is the Age of Empire, and empire breeds monsters. We live with them now. Imperialism is our political and economic reality. Nothing material or substantial can be reformed within this colossal juggernaut. Yet, we continue to pretend that this has no bearing on our lives. In 2003 alone, the Iraq invasion cost $60 billion, three times the yearly budget for education, yet, we wonder why schools are starving for funds. When we clamor for reforms without mentioning imperialism, it is as if we were told we would be dead in three weeks and reacted by scheduling an appointment for a facelift.

    • Want a Third Party? Vote Hillary, Support Bernie

      Note that last line. America has a problem, and it isn’t Donald Trump. It is the simple fact that the nation claiming to be the largest most successful democracy in the world is run by two parties, both of which are held hostage to lobbyists and corporations.

    • Liberals Grow Hysterical Toward Those Who Plan To Break From Democratic Party

      Every four years, progressives are lectured and berated by left-leaning pundits, who have varying degrees of allegiance to the Democratic Party. Any consideration of a third-party candidate, especially the Green Party’s presidential candidate, is deemed reprehensible. Now that Hillary Clinton is officially the Democratic Party’s nominee, that moment in the election cycle is upon us.

      Some of the very same people behind the attacks on Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders and his supporters are behind the first volley of attacks on Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein, including the concerted effort to smear her as a crank who does not believe in vaccines.

      These commentators do not care whether an alternative to the Democratic Party is built in the United States. In fact, to borrow a phrase from Aldous Huxley, they treat us to their “excruciating orgasms of self-assertion” because they have a deep-seated contempt for those who dare to dissent and meaningfully challenge Democrats.

    • Could Third Party Candidates Prove Clinton’s Achilles Heel?

      The bad news: Two of those polls—and a chunk of others recently—show that when the Libertarian Party’s Gary Johnson and the Green Party’s Jill Stein are included in a theoretical match-up, Clinton’s lead drops, making, according to a headline in Politico, a potential “third-party headache” for the former secretary of state.

    • WikiLeaks: Alcohol Industry Encourages Congressional Concern About Cannabis

      Is the alcohol industry is spending money to get members of Congress to pay attention to the problem of “marijuana-impaired driving”? That’s the case being made on cannabis industry website Marijuana.com, where a blogger seems to have assiduously searched the famous WikiLeaks dump of DNC e-mails for any reference to our favorite herb.

    • Green VP pick powerhouse of human rights and racial justice

      In looking for a vice-presidential running mate, I sought a candidate who embodies the principles of equity and social justice underpinning our campaign, and who could inspire the millions of disaffected voters hungering for an alternative. In Ajamu Baraka, I found that candidate.

      Ajamu brings to the table an unwavering commitment to human rights and the interests of the dispossessed and disenfranchised that has been the hallmark of a career spanning more than 40 years of advocacy and activism.

      From his roots with the Voter Education Project and the Black Liberation movement in the 1960s and ‘70s and continuing with his groundbreaking work against the death penalty with Amnesty International and as founding director of the U.S. Human Rights Network, Ajamu has fought for social justice while challenging the stranglehold on power that economic and political elites have enjoyed for decades at the expense of the majority.

    • Following the money behind Tim Kaine

      Hillary Clinton has chosen her potential second-in-command if elected to the White House — Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va. Kaine launched his career as a civil rights lawyer, and he’s no stranger to public service. He’s a former city councilman turned mayor turned lieutenant governor turned governor turned Democratic National Committee chairman turned senator turned newly minted vice presidential candidate. Throughout his time in politics, he’s certainly seen his share of campaign money — we examined the cash behind his extensive career.


      Three years later, Kaine became governor of Virginia and a force within the Democratic party — raising $18 million in the process. His 2005 run for governor was buoyed by several special interest groups and big donors, according to the National Institute on Money in State Politics. These include:

      Washington Wizards and Capitals owner Ted Leonsis ($5,000)
      Universal Leaf Tobacco ($30,000)
      Comcast ($30,500)
      Sprint ($33,453)
      Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va. ($35,000)
      Billionaire and Democratic megadonor George Soros ($40,000)
      Microsoft ($42,890)
      Altria tobacco ($50,000)
      Novelist John Grisham ($75,000)
      Billionaire Randall J. Kirk ($100,000); Kirk and his companies gave Kaine and his PACs nearly a million dollars between 2005-2012. Kaine later appointed Kirk to the Board of Visitors in Virginia.
      Sandy Lerner, co-founder of Cisco Systems ($188,463)
      Sheila C. Johnson, co-founder of BET ($392,490); Johnson also gave Kaine $2,500 in airfare to and from the 2008 DNC convention in Denver.

    • The Culture War and the 2016 Election

      The blistering criticism raised by Khizr and Ghazala Khan, parents of Capt. Humayun Khan, a distinguished Muslim-American soldier killed in Iraq in 2004, about Donald Trump has once-again ignited controversy over the real-estate developer con-man’s likely role as president. This only heightened the revelations in a recent New Yorker article by Jane Mayer on Tony Schwartz, the author of Trump’s bestseller, The Art of the Deal, and makes it clear that the presidential candidate is an egomaniacal psychopath.

    • Standing Up ‘For The Greater Good’: MintPress Will Report From Green Party Convention

      As the Green Party’s Presidential Nominating Convention convenes in Houston, there’s renewed attention on the party’s presumptive nominee, Dr. Jill Stein, and increased interest in third-party alternatives to the American two-party duopoly.

      On Saturday, MintPress News will be at the University of Houston, where Stein and her running mate, human rights scholar and activist Ajamu Baraka, are expected to accept the Green Party’s nomination for president and vice president.

      Polls consistently show that Americans are deeply dissatisfied with the political status quo. Just 9 percent of U.S. residents voted for either Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump in the primaries, according to The New York Times. In a poll conducted in May by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research, some 90 percent of voters expressed a lack of confidence in the American political system, while 40 percent said that the two-party system is “seriously broken.”

    • Is The DNC Hacking A New Cold War… Or Just The Continuation Of What Every Intelligence Agency Does?

      But if there’s a high road to be had, the US government can’t really claim it. As James Bamford explains in his commentary piece for Reuters, US spy agencies haven’t exactly stayed out of world affairs, including local elections.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • YouTube’s Trolls Are Crying Censorship Over Cyberbullying Rules

      If internet history proves anything, it’s that not a day can pass without someone protesting about “free speech.” And while this theme is nothing new—as events like the Meow Wars, from 20 years ago, demonstrate—I suspect that free speech will be remembered as one of the defining questions of our era, the adolescent internet at its most audible and belligerent and angsty.

      Which is why the latest outcry on YouTube over censorship is hardly a surprise.

      Some background: One week ago, a video appeared titled “THE YOUTUBE RANT (I’m getting banned off YouTube).” Its creator was already infamous: the “commentary” channel Leafyishere.

      The video accuses YouTube of a selective approach to moderation, one where smaller channels are cautioned or shut down entirely for “roasting” and casual parody, while bigger channels (like Leafy’s own—he has well over 4 million subscribers) consistently get away with it. But now, Leafy argues, even bigger channels are being removed for minor infringements on community guidelines, which have been altered, he protests, to define even casually criticising another account in a video or comments as a form of cyberbullying.

    • Suicide Squad unlikely to secure Chinese release due to censorship laws

      China is now officially the second-largest marketplace for films in the world and has been responsible for saving more than a few underperforming blockbusters this summer. Warcraft and Independence Day: Resurgence both had strong takings in China, despite the fact both weren’t critically lauded or performed all that well in the US and European territories.

      Essentially, when studios talk about worldwide box office, they’re talking about the Chinese box-office. However, the issue with releasing in China is that the country has an incredibly strict censorship board that has a number of odd quirks compared to other countries. One of them is that China specifically bans any films that features or references ghosts.

    • Did You Catch All the Ways Hollywood Pandered to China This Year?
    • China, Hollywood, and the Global Future of Film Production
    • On Screen China: Summer Slump Sees July Drop 18% from A Year Earlier
    • Summer Blockbusters Attract Chinese Censorship
    • Sløtface Talks Feminism, Internet Censorship and “Take Me Dancing”
    • Minnesota Carpet Cleaning Business Sues US Olympic Committee Over Its Ridiculous Social Media Rules

      The United States Olympic Committee (USOC) must spend a majority of the four-year break between Olympics thinking up new, spectacularly petty demands to make of everyone when the next event rolls around. It’s always been overbearing and thuggish, but it seems determined to top itself with each new iteration of its sports-related boondoggle.

    • Facebook wants to stop clickbait. (And you won’t believe how they’re doing it)

      Facebook is escalating its war on “clickbait” headlines by instituting a new system on its newsfeed that will weed out misleading and exaggerated headlines the same way that email spam filters weed out fantastic offers to help Nigerian princes recover their lost fortunes.

      The tweaks to the algorithm, announced today in a blog post, will de-prioritize posts with headlines that “withhold information required to understand what the content of the article is and headlines that exaggerate the article to create misleading expectations”.

      The blog post listed three examples of clickbait headlines: “When She Looked Under Her Couch Cushions And Saw THIS… I Was SHOCKED!”; “He Put Garlic In His Shoes Before Going To Bed And What Happens Next Is Hard To Believe”; and “The Dog Barked At The Deliveryman And His Reaction Was Priceless.”

      The changes mark the second attempt by the social network to crack down on the much-reviled but nevertheless effective strategies publishers employ to coax readers to click on their content.

    • Asia Minute: China’s Online Population Grows, Along with Censorship

      Some 710 million Chinese now use the internet. For a little perspective, that’s more than double the entire population of the United States. That’s according to China’s government…which for these purposes defines an internet user as anyone who has gone online at least once in the past six months.

      The China Internet Network Information Center says the number of users is up more than 3% since December. The same study finds more than 90% of those on the internet in China get there by way of their mobile phones.The state-run China Daily highlighted a growing number of Chinese shopping and paying their bills on line…hailing taxis online…even ordering takeout food on line.

    • Yavuz Baydar: Turkey takes wife of journalist hostage

      Police in Erzurum raided the home of journalist Bülent Korucu and, in his absence, arrested his wife until he presents himself to the authorities.

    • Aditi Mittal, Ashutosh Dabke on performing adult comedy in the time of censorship
  • Privacy/Surveillance

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Thousands sign petition calling for Russian PM to resign

      More than 178,000 people have signed an online petition calling for Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev’s resignation after he suggested teachers wanting more pay should seek a different career, AFP reported Friday.

      When asked by a university lecturer at a public forum why teachers receive less money than policemen, the prime minister replied that “there is no need to compare, the issue is what you choose in life.”

      Teaching, he said, “is a vocation. If you want to earn money, there are a bunch of great places where you can do that quicker and better in business. And you didn’t go into business.”

    • Sheriff Uses Unconstitutional Law To Raid Home And Seize Electronics Belonging To Watchdog Blogger

      This suggests a bit of magistrate shopping by the Sheriff’s Office. Now that the warrant has been executed and devices seized, a motion to quash is in place. But that does little for Officer Wayne Anderson. Not only has he been suspended (with pay) by the Houma Police Department while this farce plays out, but the court is holding onto his computers and phones until a hearing on the motion can take place.

      The First Amendment implications of Sheriff Larpenter’s raid are clear. That the search warrant — in pursuit of bogus criminal defamation charges — has already been carried out means Sheriff Larpenter will be facing Fourth Amendment violations claims as well in the inevitable civil rights lawsuit that will follow this debacle. Sheriff Larpenter should have had no problem fighting speech he didn’t like with speech of his own — especially considering his position as a public figure who holds a powerful office. Instead, he has chosen to abuse his position and power to silence a critic, something that’s not exactly helping him look any less corrupt.

    • Pokemon Company Threatens Pokemon Go API Creator With CFAA Lawsuit

      Is there no goodwill that the Pokemon Company’s lawyers won’t step in and kill off? With the popularity of Pokemon Go, some third parties had started trying to develop some services to go with it, and as part of that, a few have tried to create Pokemon Go APIs. A user going by the name Mila432 had created an unofficial Pokemon Go API in Python, and posted it to GitHub.

    • 1968 ‘Black Power Salute’ Sparked Ongoing Miscarriage of Justice by U.S. Olympic Committee

      C. Robert “Bob” Paul Jr. was one of the most interesting sports figures you probably never heard of. He was born in 1918 and died near his home on Long Island in 2011. For much of his life, he was a publicist, first for his alma mater, the University of Pennsylvania, and later for the United States Olympic Committee (USOC).

      In an obit for Paul released by the USOC, longtime spokesman Mike Moran wrote: “With his death goes an important cornerstone of a long ago USOC and its remarkable history.” Mr. Moran was right. There was a book in Paul, and it’s a terrible shame that he never got around to writing it.

      Eight years ago, I sought him out at a retirement home in the borough of Queens, N.Y., while researching what I regarded then and still regard as the most important unresolved issue in American Olympics history.

      “It was a story that should have made headlines for one day,” said Paul, who was the USOC’s publicist at the 1968 Summer Games in Mexico City. “If they had handled the whole affair right, with some reason, tolerance and common sense, it would have been something we could now look back on with pride. Instead, it’s the Olympics’ biggest ongoing shame.”

    • Israeli Company That Helped Build Gaza’s Wall Is Less Sure About Donald Trump’s

      An Israel-based security company that provided intrusion detection technology for the barrier between Israel and the Gaza Strip has offered to help Donald Trump secure the U.S. border — but suggests that building an actual wall along every section of the border is not the way to go.

      Sa’ar Koursh, the CEO of Magal Security Systems, told Bloomberg News that he would be happy to help Trump. “We would join forces with a major U.S. defense company that has experience with such projects worldwide,” he said. “We’ve done it in the past and we would definitely want to do it.”

      For Magal, border-wall building is a lucrative enterprise. It has installed perimeter detection systems between the Gaza Strip and Israel, and has deployed its surveillance and intrusion detection systems in the occupied West Bank.

    • The Intercept’s Olympics Guide for Identifying Brazil’s New Leaders

      With the 2016 Summer Olympics officially opening today in Rio de Janeiro, the world’s eyes will be on the nation of Brazil. Ever since the actual, legitimate, democratically elected president, Dilma Rousseff, was suspended in April pending a final impeachment vote scheduled for later this month, there has been a new set of political leaders who rule the country — from the very same center and right-wing parties, and often the very same people, who were repeatedly rejected by voters as they sought to obtain the political power they now, without an election, are fortunate enough to wield.

      Beyond the anti-democratic means they used to seize power, Brazil’s new leaders — most of whom who were also key plotters in Rousseff’s removal — are themselves the targets of serious corruption investigations, drowning in all sorts of official allegations. Given that impeachment was justified based on the need to fight corruption, that is an ironic fact indeed (despite the high number of politicians in Dilma’s party implicated in these personal corruption scandals, including her predecessor Lula da Silva, she herself never has been). Thanks to the legal “privilege” high-level Brazilian officials have gifted themselves — whereby they can only be tried by the nation’s Supreme Court, which is so backlogged that it will be many, many years before that is remotely possible — most of these corruption scandals are unlikely to be legally adjudicated for some time, and in most cases they have denied their own guilt, though they are based in credible evidence.

    • Treat, don’t police

      Last week’s shocking treatment of migrants by employer Byron shows how government is seeking to create an army of informants – and they’re trying the same tactics in our NHS.

    • Whistleblower Retaliation Alive and Well at Hanford

      It’s getting real out at Hanford in eastern Washington, the site of the most expensive (and likely dangerous) environmental clean-up in the world. On July 21, Washington state Attorney General Bob Ferguson, along with watchdog group Hanford Challenge and UA Local Union 598 Plumbers and Steamfitters, filed an emergency legal motion asking US Judge Thomas Rice to intervene and force the US Department of Energy and federal contractor Washington River Protection Solutions to protect their workers from toxic vapor exposure at the site.

      “[It’s] as serious as it gets,” Ferguson told King 5 News. “At Hanford there’s a culture of indifference by the federal government and their contractors. Frankly, we’re not going to put up with it anymore…. So right now we’re trying to get before the judge immediately asking for immediate steps required from the federal government to protect workers. That’s the bottom line.”

      Allegedly, that “culture of indifference” is what got Sandra Black, an employee concerns program manager (ECP), fired in January 2015. Black, who worked for DOE contractor Savannah River Nuclear Solutions (SRNS), was in charge of hearing out grievances raised by workers who have safety concerns, such as those working at Hanford. Black claims that she was terminated after speaking to investigators from the Government Accountability Office (GAO).

      “I would not lie or cover up substantiated concerns or engage in unethical or illegal activities that I was directed to do,” Black said at a news conference, where she, along with three US senators presented the GAO report. “My disclosures included describing numerous incidents in which an SRNS corporate lawyer interfered with an ECP investigation, directed an ECP investigator to change findings or substantiated retaliation to not substantiated.”

      SRNS strongly denies firing Black for her cooperation with the GAO. Nonetheless, the GAO report, which was released in July, was damning in what it revealed.

      The report claimed that the DOE had “taken limited or no action to hold contractors accountable for creating a chilled work environment — in part because DOE has not clearly defined what constitutes evidence of a chilled work environment or the steps needed to hold contractors accountable.”

      In other words, the buck stops with nobody.

      “Our problems are with the way the Energy Department allows the contractors basically to self-assess how open their environment is,” Diane LoFaro, who worked on the GAO report, told the Center for Public Integrity. “Our recommendation is that those assessments need to be independent. The contractor should not be assessing themselves. The DOE should be assessing the contractors’ cultures.”

      So what happens when over 100 workers are exposed to toxic vapors while working to remediate Hanford’s 56 million gallons of radioactive and chemical waste? According to Dave Lee, an instrument technician at Hanford, when issues are raised that may help prevent such exposures, the DOE and their contractors fight back.

    • Crowdfund Aims To Help Ex-Muslim Atheist Girl Facing Threat Of Execution Escape To The West

      An ex-Muslim atheist girl from an Arab Gulf State who faces execution in her home country if her religious affiliation were to be discovered is, with the help of the internet, planning an escape to the west.

      The girl, known on the web under the pseudonym “Dee,” currently resides in a Gulf State country where atheism is punishable by death. According to the fundraiser, her parents are also fundamentalists, who “would not hesitate to turn her over or perform an honor killing themselves if her atheism was discovered.”

      Dee also goes by the pseudonym “Haram Girl” on Twitter, where she posts regular critiques of Islam and Muslim culture. She describes herself as an atheist, a classical liberal, and an egalitarian.

    • Clinton Scandal: Bill Took Millions From Group That Pushes Sharia Law

      Ethics: When it comes to the Clintons, the scandals never end. This week, it was revealed that Bill Clinton took millions in money from a special “educational foundation” that pushes Sharia law — the basic law of Islam — around the world.

      “Why would Bill Clinton be participating in programs that teach Sharia in foreign countries where that is the specific objective of the Muslim Brotherhood, ISIS, and al-Qaida,” Stephen Coughlin, a counterterrorism expert, wondered in an interview with the Daily Caller, which first reported the story.

      It’s a good question. The former president took some $5.6 million total from 2012 through 2014 from Dubai-based GEMS Education, which runs 51 Sharia schools in the Mideast having some 250,000 students. It has schools in other countries and regions, including Asia, the United Kingdom, Africa and even Chicago, which has two schools. As the Daily Caller reports, GEM uses one-eighth of the proceeds of its schools “to fund Islamic Jihad.”

      Oh yes, and, the Daily Caller reports, GEMS also gave the Clinton Foundation millions of dollars.

    • Chicago releases video of police shooting Paul O’Neal, unarmed black teen (GRAPHIC VIDEO)

      Footage of the fatal encounter between Chicago police officers and unarmed black teenager Paul O’Neal has been released by the city. Police review agency chief described the video as “shocking,” while a family lawyer called it an “execution.”

      O’Neal was killed by CPD officers in Chicago’s South Shore neighborhood on July 28, after crashing a Jaguar convertible that was reported stolen earlier in the day in Bolingbrook, a suburb to the west. The Cook County medical examiner’s office confirmed he was shot in the back.

      On Friday, Chicago’s Independent Police Review Authority (IPRA) posted dashboard and body camera footage from four of the officers involved in the shooting.

    • Why Are Police So Afraid of Bold, Black Women Like Korryn Gaines?

      The brutal death of a 23-year-old African-American woman named Korryn Gaines has sparked yet another much-needed conversation in the United States about the use of lethal force by police and its disproportionate impact on blacks.

      Gaines was killed in her Maryland home by Baltimore County police, who had issued a warrant for her arrest over charges stemming from a traffic violation and her failure to appear in court. The young mother was armed with a shotgun that she apparently pointed at police, although they fired first. She responded with a round of shots and then police fired back, killing her and injuring her 5-year-old son.

    • Black Lives Matter Groups Stage Protests Across the U.K. (Multimedia)

      The United States’ Black Lives Matter movement has been making headlines for its protests in response to recent killings by police, but many Americans don’t realize that the United Kingdom has its own growing Black Lives Matter movement.

      Five years ago, Mark Duggan, a 29-year-old black man, was shot and killed by police in London. His death prompted widespread riots throughout the U.K. In recognition of the anniversary of his death, BLMUK staged protests in five cities Friday.

      In the days leading up to the protests, BLMUK posted a video outlining its reasons for action. Speakers in the video name those killed by police in the past eight months. Many of their statements echo problems of racial injustice in the U.S. “Black people face far more severe sentencing than white people for the same offense,” one man notes.

    • A Lawyer Who Turned the Tables: Graphic Biography Immortalizes Leonard Weinglass

      Leonard Weinglass stands in the grand tradition of the legendary 20th century lawyers who themselves joined social justice movements and helped the popular forces to move history forward — including Clarence Darrow, Constance Baker Motley, Thurgood Marshall, Bill Kunstler, Florynce Kennedy, Arthur Kinoy, Lew Steele, Jeff Haas, Michael Ratner, Jan Susler, George Crockett, Conrad Lynn, Nancy Hollander, Dennis Cunningham, Lynn Stewart, Lani Guinier, Leonard Boudin, Flint Taylor, Ernest Goodman, Charles Garry, Joey Mogul, Michael J. Kennedy, Walter Riley and Jeff Adache — and he’s earned the exalted rank of “People’s Lawyer.”

    • White Police Officer Convicted of Manslaughter for Death of Unarmed Black Teen

      Former Portsmouth police officer Stephen Rankin faces up to 10 years in prison for the death of William Chapman, who was killed last April in a Walmart parking lot as Rankin attempted to apprehend the 18-year-old under suspicion the teen had shoplifted, Huffington Post reports. It is unclear whether Chapman actually stole anything from the store.

    • Judge Tosses 200 Hours Of Recordings From FBI’s Courthouse Bugs

      The fallout from the FBI’s surreptitious bugging of county courthouses in California has coalesced into two motions to suppress — with two very different outcomes. What makes this even more interesting is that both decisions were issued in the same judicial district.

      Judge Phyllis Hamilton denied a motion to suppress last week. While she had concerns about the location of the bugs used in the FBI’s investigation of property auction price fixing, she reached the conclusion that the recording of conversations that occurred in a public area did not violate the defendants’ expectation of privacy. The decision hinted Judge Hamilton would be hard pressed to find any conversation in public — no matter what attempts were made to prevent bystanders from listening in — worthy of an expectation of privacy.

      Judge Charles Breyer, however, has reached the opposite conclusion. Breyer dug deeper into the location of the recording devices and questioned whether the FBI was crossing a line by placing them in areas where privileged conversations might occur.

    • State Supreme Court Rolls Back Decision That Would Have Made Violating Company Computer Policies A Crime

      The Oregon Supreme Court has handed down a ruling that should help prevent the state’s computer crime laws from turning into a local level CFAA — something that can be easily abused by prosecutors to, say, toss someone in jail for two years for 40 minutes of headline altering at a news website.

      Caryn Nascimento was arrested for theft after using a convenience store’s lottery machine to print off thousands of dollars of tickets she never paid for. But rather than settle for the theft charges, the state chose to charge her with unauthorized use under Oregon’s broadly-interpreted computer crimes statute.

      The state appeals court upheld the conviction, prompting the EFF to intervene in her case when it headed to the state supreme court. The EFF pointed out that the appeals court decision would criminalize a lot of behavior normally only subject to companies’ internal disciplinary processes.

    • Frustrated Public Defender Appoints Governor — And Licensed Attorney — To Provide Indigent Defense

      Providing public defenders for criminal defendants may be Constitutional but it certainly isn’t popular. When states look for places to cut budgets, far too often they find trimming public funding for defense lawyers is an easy way to find extra money without suffering any significant public backlash. After all, this is just money being wasted defending guilty people, right? It’s just shady lawyers ensuring criminals are back on the street as swiftly as possible by exploiting loopholes in the system citing violations of their clients’ Constitutional rights. To many members of the public, this is money that could be better spent elsewhere — even as they enjoy the benefits of the Constitutional amendments (4th-6th, mostly), public defenders are constantly protecting from additional damage.

      So, a right guaranteed by the Constitution becomes a privilege extended by the grace of the state, subject to clawback and only offering defendants the promise that someone with an already-unmanageable caseload will try to fit them in somewhere. Meanwhile, defendants who can’t make bail get to sit around in a jail cell until someone from an underfunded public defender’s office can attempt to suss out the weaknesses in the prosecution’s case in between all the other cases they’re already falling behind on.

  • DRM

    • EFF to FTC: Online Retailers Must Label Products Sold with Digital Locks

      The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and a coalition of consumer groups, content creators, and publishers asked the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) today to require online retailers to label the ebooks, songs, games, and apps that come with digital locks restricting how consumers can use them.

      In a letter sent to the FTC today, the coalition said companies like Amazon, Google, and Apple have a duty to inform consumers if products for sale are locked with some kind of “digital rights management” or DRM. Companies use DRM to purportedly combat copyright infringement, but DRM locks can also block you from watching the movie you bought in New York when you go to Asia on vacation, or limit which devices can play the songs you purchased.

      “Without DRM labeling, it’s nearly impossible to figure out which products have digital locks and what restrictions these locks impose,” said EFF Special Advisor Cory Doctorow. “We know the public prefers DRM-free e-books and other electronic products, but right now buyers are in the dark about DRM locks when they go to make purchases online. Customers have a right to know about these restrictions before they part with their money, not after.”

    • DRM: You have the right to know what you’re buying!

      Today, the EFF and a coalition of organizations and individuals asked the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to explore fair labeling rules that would require retailers to warn you when the products you buy come locked down by DRM (“Digital Rights Management” or “Digital Restrictions Management”).

      These digital locks train your computerized devices to disobey you when you ask them to do things the manufacturer didn’t specifically authorize — even when those things are perfectly legal. Companies that put digital locks on their products — ebook, games and music publishers, video companies, companies that make hardware from printers to TVs to cat litter trays — insist that DRM benefits their customers, by allowing the companies to offer products at a lower price by taking away some of the value — you can “rent” an ebook or a movie, or get a printer at a price that only makes sense if you also have to buy expensive replacement ink.

      We don’t buy it. We think that the evidence is that customers don’t much care for DRM (when was the last time you woke up and said, “Gosh, I wish there was a way I could do less with my games?”). Studies agree.

      The FTC is in charge of making sure that Americans don’t get ripped off when they buy things. We’ve written the Commission a letter, drafted and signed by a diverse coalition of public interest groups, publishers, and rightholders, calling on the agency to instruct retailers to inform potential customers of the restrictions on the products they’re selling. In a separate letter, we detail the stories of 20 EFF supporters who unwittingly purchased DRM-encumbered products and later found themselves unable to enjoy their purchases (a travel guide that required a live internet connection to unlock, making it unreadable on holiday), or locked into an abusive relationship with their vendors (a cat litter box that only worked if resupplied with expensive perfume), or even had other equipment they owned rendered permanently inoperable by the DRM in a new purchase (for example, a game that “bricked” a customer’s DVD-R drive)

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Copyrights

      • Megaupload 2.0 Will Link File Transfers to Bitcoin Transactions

        Kim Dotcom is teasing fresh information about his Megaupload 2.0 project set to launch in January 2017. Noting that every file transfer will be linked to a bitcoin transaction, Dotcom says the new platform will take decentralization, anonymity & encryption “to the next level”.

      • Kim Dotcom dumps out a load of new Mega information

        NON-PUBLICITY SHY internet phenomenon Kim Dotcom is bursting at the seams with news about the new file storage system that he is developing to replace the one closed down with sledgehammers by the FBI and the one that he walked away from while grumbling.

      • Photographer Learns To Embrace The Public Domain… And Is Better Off For It

        There are constant debates over the value of the public domain. As you know, in the US, Congress has repeatedly expanded and extended copyright law to effectively wipe out the public domain. No new works have gone into the public domain because of copyright law (other than works by the Federal government) in many years, and that likely won’t change for many years either. The only way works go into the public domain these days are through some sort of public dedication, such as by using the Creative Commons CC0 license — though very careful lawyers may remind you that even this is not technically putting the work in the public domain. Under the current Copyright Act there really isn’t a way to officially put something in the public domain. A copyright holder can only make an effective promise that the work should be treated as if it’s in the public domain by declaring it so.

        The fact that the law is so hostile to the public domain is no accident. If you look at the history of the debates about copyright shows the legacy copyright industries being actively hostile to the public domain, and making a variety of silly, nonsensical (and flat out wrong) arguments about the public domain. They’ve argued that putting works in the public domain removes all value from the work. They’ve also claimed that putting works in the public domain will cause it to be over-utilized, since it’s free, thereby harming its value in a different way. The fact that these two arguments seem to conflict with each other was more or less ignored. And then you even have the extremely ridiculous claims that the public domain is theft of private property. Paul Heald has done some tremendous research on how all of the hyperbolic statements about how awful the public domain is simply aren’t true. But that’s looking at historical data.

      • DOJ Makes Smart Decision On Music Licensing… Music Publishers Completely Lose Their Shit

        For the past couple of years now, the Justice Department has been exploring the so-called “consent decree” around music publishing. This was an agreement, first made in 1941, and then reviewed in 2001, on how music performing rights organizations (mainly ASCAP and BMI) could operate without violating antitrust rules. Without such consent decrees, there was a quite reasonable fear that the performing rights organizations (PROs) would abuse their monopoly positions. This is not a theoretical argument. If you look around the globe, there are many, many, many, many, many stories of these organizations behaving badly.

        In this case, ASCAP and BMI had been whining that because of those darn internet companies not paying enough, they need to get rid of the consent decree, mainly so that they can do more to jack up rates (there’s more to it, but the end result is they want to be able to withhold rights to force rates up). Of course, in opening up this can of worms, they also got the DOJ to start looking more closely at other practices, including an exploration into so-called split works or “fractional licensing.” The details here can get confusing, but in short: when a work has multiple copyright holders, many have argued that you need to get a license and/or approval from every copyright holder. But if you look at the legislative history of the 1976 Copyright Act, legislators made it clear that under the act, they intended to make it clear that any copyright holder in a work with multiple authors had the right to license the whole work.

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