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Links 9/8/2016: Kaltura Pulls in $50 , White House Has New Free Software Policy

Posted in News Roundup at 11:33 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish



  • Innuendo, From Me, Just Like Trump

    Come on, Delta. If what you’ve been doing doesn’t work, stop beating your head against the wall. Switch to GNU/Linux like the stock-exchanges. They wanted stock-trades to take flight smoothly and reliably. GNU/Linux helps them do that. I wanted PCs to run reliably in schools. GNU/Linux helped that happen. PCs in my home have been running pretty well since we went completely GNU/Linux several years ago. This year we plan to get rid of Intel too for complete independence from Wintel. Try it. Make Delta great again by migrating to GNU/Linux. You and your passengers will like it.

  • Desktop

  • Kernel Space

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

      • KDE Applications 16.08 Up to Release Candidate State, Testers Are Needed

        The development of the next major release of KDE Applications 16.08, a software suite designed for the KDE Plasma 5.7 desktop environment, continues with the Release Candidate build.

      • GCompris release 0.61 and reoganization

        Some of you are aware that I (Bruno) have a new “day” job and I don’t have time anymore to be active on GCompris. I created this project in 2000 and maintain it since then. So this release note is important to me because it will also be my last one. From now on, the releases will be handled by Johnny Jazeix.

  • Distributions

    • Five Favorite Linux Distros

      I’ve never been a distro hopper. Not at all. I started out with Mandrake back around 2002, and stuck with Mandrake/Mandriva until 2010. When it became obvious that the distro was in serious financial dodo and wasn’t likely to be around much longer, I moved to PCLinuxOS. This move was made partly because the distro had started life as a fork of Mandrake/Mandriva, keeping me in familiar territory, but mostly because it was one of two distros I could find that supported the Wi-Fi on an old Dell laptop I was using at the time. In 2012 I moved to Bodhi Linux after falling in love with the simple elegance of the Enlightenment 17 desktop, and the next year switched over to Linux Mint Xfce edition when we finally got around to setting up a full time office for FOSS Force.

    • Bedrock Linux gathers disparate distros under one umbrella

      Want the power of Gentoo but the packages of Arch and the display manager of Ubuntu, all in one distribution? An experimental distro could make that possible, if not exactly easy

    • AI Linux

      AI Linux is a Linux distribution that comes complete with artificial intelligence libraries, tool and languages. A proof of concept alpha version is now available, suitable for test-driving in a virtual environment such as VirtualBox.

    • Solus Upgraded to the GNOME 3.20 Stack, Now Powered by Linux Kernel 4.7

      Solus developer Joshua Strobl proudly announced the 33rd installation of Solus Project’s This Week in Solus weekly newsletter to inform the community about the latest technologies and software releases implemented in the OS.

    • This Week in Solus – Install #33

      Our development and bug tracking oriented infrastructure moved from Bugzilla to Phabricator a few days ago. Bugzilla simply didn’t offer us the flexibility we needed and has long been a bit of a sore tooth for us.

    • New Releases

    • Red Hat Family

    • Debian Family

      • GNU Compiler Collection (GCC) 6 Now Enabled by Default in Debian Unstable

        Debian developer Emilio Pozuelo Monfort announced this past weekend the enablement of the GCC (GNU Compiler Collection) 6 compiler tools by default for Debian Unstable.

      • Debian Code Search: improving client-side latency (2016-08-08)
      • Derivatives

        • Parsix GNU/Linux 8.5 “Atticus” Has Reached End of Life, Upgrade to 8.10 Now

          The Parsix GNU/Linux developers are informing us today, August 8, 2016, about the end-of-life development status of the Parsix GNU/Linux 8.5 “Atticus” operating system, urging users to upgrade to the most recent release.

        • Canonical/Ubuntu

          • Snapcraft 2.13 and Snapd 2.11 Land with Support for Downgrading Installed Snaps

            Canonical, through David Callé, has had the great pleasure of announcing new maintenance releases of the Snappy tools Snapcraft and Snapd, which bring new features and several enhancements.

          • Ubuntu Designers Show Off New Look ‘Scopes Toolkit Cards’
          • Ubuntu Shifting The Overton Window

            We’ve talked for years about the killer app that will take the Linux desktop to the mainstream. For some the killer app is a particular game. To illustrate, I’m still playing Civilization IV. I’ve spent about thirty minutes trying to get it working under Wine to no avail. I’m sure I just haven’t found the right tutorial yet. Until that happens, I can’t fully commit.

            The next category of killer app usually comes from the productivity side of things. For some, it’s a video editor with the capacity and polish of Final Cut Pro X. For others, it’s a Microsoft product such as Visio or Project. For many, it’s Adobe’s Photoshop or, more accurately, their Creative Cloud suite of applications.


            Ubuntu may have a great project on its hands from a technical level, but if it fails to continue the momentum of positive press, it’ll fail to get the widespread adoption it needs to make it successful. I’d expect for the next Snappy Sprint for Ubuntu to not only invite a wide spectrum of Open Source enthusiasts, but also the Linux press. Which outlets should be invited, should absolutely be a high priority topic for those planning the next event. Assuming the next sprint is already being planned, who would you like to see cover the event?

          • Flavours and Variants

            • Linux Mint 18 “Sarah” Review

              Now it has been approximately a month since I’m using Linux Mint 18 “Sarah”. There is not doubt this distro is solid and newbie friendly. I always suggest Linux newbies start with Linux Mint as it makes easier for them to move around and learn Linux system. Sarah takes the same legacy forward with better look and user experience.

            • Firefox 48 update on Linux Mint nukes search functionality

              On August 2, 2016, Mozilla deployed the latest version of Firefox, version 48. As is usual, updates take a few days to roll out to all Linux distributions as maintainers may need to do testing or alterations.

            • How to upgrade to Linux Mint 18
  • Devices/Embedded

    • New options added to EOMA68 PC card crowdfunding campaign

      It’s been a little over a month since Luke Kenneth Casson Leighton launched a crowdfunding campaign to build a free and open source modular PC system which includes an EOMA68 PC card (with a processor, memory, and storage) and a series of accessories including desktop and laptop docks.

      The campaign has raised over $60,000 so far, which is less than half way to the goal of $150,000. But Leighton tells me that if he raises around $100,000 he expects to be able to begin production of the items people are ordering: the higher dollar amount was chosen under the assumption that more people would be making pledges for higher-priced items.

    • Here’s an open source PC that can be a laptop, desktop or even tablet

      Would-be backers of the open-source, modular EOMA68 PC card can now support the crowdfunding campaign by purchasing several new gadgets that work with the system.

      Fund-raising for the ‘Easy-on-Mother-Earth’ EOMA68 PC began in July and have now reached $66,000, or just under half of the $150,000 targeted by the end of August.

      The concept, from UK firm Rhombus Tech, is designed to demonstrate that computers can be easy and cheap to fix or upgrade with a standardized PC board and 3D printable housing and components. It also hopes the modular design can cut the mountains of e-waste produced by the tech industry.

    • Kernel.org Is Knocking On The Door Of My Odroid-C2

      If this ~$100 CDN tiny box pleases TLW, it’s Good Enough. When a proper video driver gets into Linus’ mainline, say, with Wayland, and distros have all the usual applications working, these things will take over. It surely blows away her old VIA box with 8 core-gHz CPU, gigabit/s networking and 2gB RAM compared to 0.4 core-gHz, 100 mbits/s, and 0.25gB RAM. We’re using files over NFS so TLW will be able to use her old desktop environment on Beast III if she wants. Otherwise, she can use the Odroid-C2 as a thick client well enough. Cost for the old ones was ~$150 CDN delivered a decade ago, with real money, not this inflated stuff. Life is good.

    • Phones

Free Software/Open Source


  • Science

    • Google Self-Driving Car Director Chris Urmson Hits Exit Ramp To Pursue Other Projects

      When it comes to fully autonomous vehicles, no other company comes close to Google’s prowess or its commendable safety record (after millions of miles of driving, only one accident has been proven to be the fault of a Google car, and even that was a relatively minor incident). Unfortunately for Google, it has lost a person that has been instrumental in the ongoing success and spectacular achievements of the company’s AI-driven autonomous car initiative.

      That person is Chris Urmson, a Carnegie Mellon University researcher that decided to jump aboard the fast-moving Google train back in 2009.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Big alcohol is working to undermine marijuana legalization, Wikileaks confirms

      A deeper look into Wikileaks’ dump of Democratic National Committee emails may prove an agenda against both Bernie Sanders and marijuana legalization.

      While many major news outlets jumped on the obvious fact that DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman-Schultz and other officials were chained in an email questioning Bernie Sanders’ religion to undermine his support among voters, Marijuana.com’s Tom Angell dug deeper to find a daily e-newsletter sent to Capitol Hill insiders that included included a paid advertisement from the Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of America (WSWA) warning against the dangers of marijuana.

  • Security

  • Defence/Aggression

    • Afghan Maintenance Program You Pay For Wastes $423 Million

      So, Afghanistan. America’s longest and wackiest war will soon enter its 16th year, and is scheduled to run through the next administration, as no one can remember why the U.S. is fighting there anymore and so no one knows when this thing is over. Did we win yet? How would we know?

      None of that matters of course, because plenty of American contractors are in their 16th year of getting filthy rich, thanks to extraordinary amounts of money being spent with no effective oversight by the Department of Defense. Let’s have the latest example.

      Our friends at the Special Inspector General for Afghan Reconstruction (SIGAR) are the poor b*stards charging with keeping track of all this waste. Once upon a time the point of an Inspector General was to point things out to upper management, like generals or Congress, so problems could be addressed. In 2016, the point of the Inspector General is to be ignored because no one in Washington actually care to fix anything.

      Nonetheless, SIGAR has its job, and so has published an audit of America’s Afghan National Army Technical Equipment Maintenance Program, designed to maintain Afghan army vehicles at our expense and develop a vehicle maintenance capacity within the army.

    • Russia, Syria and the US: Hillary’s Foreign Policy Priority

      Hillary Clinton as of 2009 was praising Assad as a “reformer,” but in 2011 was ordering him out. In 2013 Obama was on the verge of a massive missile assault on Syria, to punish Assad for supposedly using sarin gas against his people (an unlikely prospect, since he was winning the war through conventional means). But Lavrov told Kerry that Russia believed that opposition forces were responsible. By some reports Obama soon became persuaded that Turkish intelligence in collusion with some opposition faction contrived a false flag incident hoping to induce the U.S. to topple Assad.

    • Iran executes nuclear scientist for spying for U.S.

      Iran has executed an Iranian nuclear scientist detained in 2010 when he returned home from the United States, after a court convicted him of spying for Washington, a spokesman for the judiciary said on Sunday.

      “Through his connection with the United States, (Shahram) Amiri gave vital information about the country to the enemy,” Gholamhossein Mohseni Ejei told a weekly news conference, state news agency IRNA reported.

      Mohseni Ejei said a court had sentenced Amiri to death and the sentence had been upheld by Iran’s Supreme court, IRNA said.

      Amiri, a university researcher working for Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization, disappeared during a pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia in 2009, and later surfaced in the United States. But he returned to Iran in 2010 and received a hero’s welcome before being arrested.

      A U.S. official said in 2010 that Washington had received “useful information” from Amiri.

    • Duck Dynasty’s Phil Robertson Is the Star of Bizarre New Extreme Right-Wing Movie Featuring ISIS Beheadings

      “Torchbearer” stars Phil Robertson, the Duck Dynasty patriarch who became a folk hero in the right-wing war on “political correctness” when the show was temporarily suspended by A&E amid controversy over Robertson’s inflammatory remarks about homosexuality and black people in the pre-civil-rights-movement Louisiana. The movie was shown to distributors in Cannes and will be released in theaters in August.

      The hour-long film is a collaboration between well-known right-wing groups. Bannon is executive chairman of Breitbart News; the script was written by a Breitbart editor, Rebecca Mansour. It was produced by Citizens United, the organization whose movie attacking Hillary Clinton was used by conservatives on the Supreme Court to gut regulation of political money in Citizens United the court ruling. Religious Right political operative Ralph Reed attended the premiere, and at a reception following the screening, Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., took the opportunity to slam Clinton and praise the work of Citizens United.

    • U.S. Air Force refueling missions over Yemen grow by 60 percent

      The U.S. has executed a handful of air kills against extremist groups like al-Qaida in Yemen since February, but the Saudi-led air war against the Iranian-backed Houthi rebels also has U.S. assets contributing to a much quieter mission.

      U.S. Air Force KC-135s and KC-10s are and have been prepositioned within the Central Command theater ready to “support partner nations and theater refueling requirements,” said Air Forces Central Command spokeswoman Kiley Dougherty.

  • Finance

    • Is It Too Simplistic to Say America Should Imitate the Nordic Economies?

      Canada and the United States have taken a lot of flak from critics who’d like them to be more like the social democracies collectively known as the “Nordics”: Finland, Sweden, Denmark, Norway, and Iceland. Now a naturalized American from Finland has made the strongest case yet that the U.S. (and by implication Canada) really need to go Nordic.

    • EXPLAINER: What’s the Deal with the TPP?

      If you watched any part of the Democratic National Convention this week, you probably noticed a small but visible group of attendees protesting something called the “TPP.” Some held signs and banners. Some even heckled during various speeches, including President Obama’s address Wednesday night.

      The focus of discontent is a massive trade deal called the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a plan spearheaded by the Obama Administration that would set new trade rules between the United States and other eleven Pacific Rim nations. It has yet to be approved by Congress, and both major party nominees say they oppose the deal. The issue nevertheless has become a flashpoint in this year’s presidential campaign, particularly among some ardent supporters of former candidate Bernie Sanders, who remain suspicious of Hillary Clinton’s intentions.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Donald Trump Says Media ‘Going Crazy’ Following Week of Press Speculation About His Mental Health

      As a reality television star, Donald Trump has to know that what goes up in the realm of fame must eventually be torn down. Last week, several voices from the mass media achieved a rare consensus and made it clear that the laws of celebrity gravity were no longer operating in his favor.

      In brief, Trump’s fortunes began to turn as some kind of critical mass was reached with regard to the press’ collective take on Donald Trump’s mental state. In the process, Trump’s insistence that “all press is good press” was also tested.

      To review, a quick Google search—using the term “Donald Trump crazy”—of news articles published over the last seven or so days yielded pages of results. The stories typically referred to a heavily cited chain of events, including Trump’s protracted and relentlessly televised feud with the Khan family, his breezy appropriation of a supportive veteran’s Purple Heart and his confusing exchange with a disruptive baby.

    • To Beat Trump, Clinton Resurrects Triangulation and the Politics of Fear

      The enduring cliche of the 2016 election is a comment by Trump that provokes outrage, rebukes, and the declaration, “He’s gone too far.” This happened the moment Trump declared his presidential bid by denigrating Mexicans, then when he attacked veterans, women, the disabled, Muslims, and the judiciary among others, and most recently with his vendetta against Khizr and Ghazala Khan.

      Trump’s attack on the Khans seems curious as he had nothing to gain. The couple grabbed the moral high ground at the Democratic National Convention by pointedly telling Trump, “You have sacrificed nothing and no one,” in reference to the death of their son as a U.S. Army officer in Iraq in 2004.

      The self-inflicted wounds are unlikely to cause Trump permanent harm, however. The New York Times found his attacks on military members and families mainly affected the opinion of undecided veterans, a sliver of voters. Trump also recovered after a similar racist tirade against a U.S.-born judge overseeing lawsuits against the defunct Trump University. Republicans inside the Beltway freaked out in private over Trump’s antics, but in public they are loathe to break with him when polls show 81 percent of the party supports him along with 41 percent of the public overall.

    • Jill Stein: Clinton is not the solution to Trump

      Though voters are told to see Hillary Clinton as the “lesser of two evils,” Jill Stein said voting that way is the “losing strategy.”

      “Hillary Clinton is the problem, she is not the solution to Donald Trump,” Stein said Saturday in accepting the Green Party nomination at the party’s nominating convention in Houston, Texas. “We are the solution. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for.”

    • DNC’s failing Common Core exposed by WikiLeaks

      After obtaining a recent data dump of hacked emails belonging to the Democratic National Committee (DNC), WikiLeaks exposed the extreme unpopularity of the federal government’s Common Core State Standards … and how the average American voter sides with local — and not federal — control of education.

      The Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLSA) argues that the latest series of leaked communications between DNC strategists surfaces something that should have already been plain to see for the American public for some time — that the only champions of the Common Core is the federal government and others under its payroll who personally benefit from its implementation.

    • Wikileaks Reveals Mainstream Media’s Coziness With Clinton

      Over the last few weeks, FiveThirtyEight’s forecasts for who will win the presidential election transitioned from a virtual tie between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, to Clinton now taking an 81.7 percent chance of victory compared to 18.3 percent for Trump. At the end of July, polls were bouncing back and forth between Clinton and Trump, but recent polls show Clinton with leads as high as 14 points.

      No policy stances have changed in either the Trump or Clinton campaigns during the past two weeks. Trump has provoked negative publicity with boorish comments, but given his entire presidential campaign so far, this isn’t out of the ordinary. The seemingly impressionable voter base that falls in line behind mainstream reporting is alarming. The media’s impact on elections shouldn’t be underestimated. It does, however, illuminates the importance of objectivity and balance from the mainstream press, which has been particularly lacking this campaign season.

      The July Wikileaks release of nearly 20,000 Democratic National Committee (DNC) emails validated the concerns of Bernie Sanders supporters that the DNC helped rig the primary election for Clinton. These emails provided a glimpse into how the DNC and the mainstream media work together in providing public relations support for the Democratic establishment.

    • ECUADOR PRESSURED to Censor Julian Assange After DNC Leaks and Criticism of Hillary Clinton

      Global Elites want Assange and Wikileaks Silenced…
      Wikileaks threw the DNC Convention into turmoil last month after the release of hacked DNC emails that revealed the Democrat Party rigged their primary in favor of Hillary Clinton.

    • Trump, fascism, Putin and Wikileaks: the anatomy of a liberal nervous breakdown

      Most presidential election cycles are dispiriting for the Left. As the official campaign begins, however, the hangover of a Sanders-induced optimism has added to this despair.

      America is about to choose a president from the two most unpopular politicians in modern history. The Democrats have chided the Left and the ‘Bernie or Bust’ crowd for still not being ‘with her’ in the existential struggle against fascism. But it is worth considering how liberalism’s anti-fascism covers a libidinal lack. That is, an inability to define or, in Lacanian terms, ‘enjoy’ their political identity but through this fascist threat. Liberals are clearly not principled anti-fascists, the geopolitical compromises are too numerous to count, and there is an obvious cynical PR/fundraising logic to the fascist threat: ‘Can you spare $5 to defeat fascism?’ However, liberals are emotionally invested in the idea that they are the ones who can beat back the scourge of fascism. They construct anti-fascism as a class project but self-identify as the class of elites and experts that fascism uses to obfuscate actual class struggle.

      Trump’s fascism may lack the militancy of brown- and blackshirts organised against socialist forces but he masters its rhetorical indeterminacy. His acceptance howl at the Republican National Convention was interspersed with appeals to the working class, denunciations of corporate political influence, free-trade deals, and interventionist foreign policy in Iraq and Libya. With Trump opportunistically left-flanking Hillary on trade and militarism, the liberal media and political class has been oscillating between catching the vapours and declaring American liberalism an unbridled success. In the face of a volatile populist electorate the Democrats have chosen Reagan-esque optimism and the refrain that ‘America is already great’, the liberal equivalent of ‘Jeb!’

    • Can we trust Alex Gibney and the New York Times?

      The release of a cache of emails from the Democratic National Committee by WikiLeaks last month has raised a great many questions- so writes the New York Times in a piece penned by Alex Gibney.

      The questions raised are however not what it means for US democracy that the democratic party elections were rigged in favor of Hillary Clinton, or what it says about the journalistic integrity of The New York Times that Bernie Sanders was so easily dismissed and laughed at when he first complained of the fraud.

      No, the questions posed to the readers of The New York Times are why they should collectively despise Assange, WikiLeak and myself. And don´t get me wrong, there may be many legitimate reasons for why both Alex Gibney and the New York Times despise us.

      One good reason could be that we exposed (in the documentary film Mediastan) how The New York Times worked hand in glove with the State Department in censoring its own journalists and setting the news agenda to fit the presidential administration.

      Another good reason could be that we exposed how the US State Department places orders for propaganda films in Hollywood, and taking these orders is incidentally what Alex Gibney does for a living. So yes, there are many reasons for why Gibney and the New York Times do not like us, but unfortunately they will not tell this to their audiences as they do not trust that they will reach the same conclusions, so instead they have resorted to lying.

      Oh, and for the record, regarding Gibneys freshly invented and baseless allegation against myself- the only vilification campaign that I have ever engineered is against corrupt propagandists masquerading as journalists.

    • Democrats’ Tactic of Accusing Critics of Kremlin Allegiance Has Long, Ugly History in U.S.

      A frequent weapon for Democrats in the 2016 election is to publicly malign those they regard as critics and adversaries as Russia sympathizers, Putin stooges, or outright agents of the Kremlin. To put it mildly, this is not a new tactic in U.S. political discourse, and it’s worth placing it in historical context. That’s particularly true given how many people have now been targeted with this attack.

      Strongly insinuating that the GOP nominee, Donald Trump, has nefarious, possibly treasonous allegiances to Moscow has migrated from Clinton-loyal pundits into the principal theme of the Clinton campaign itself. “The depth of Trump’s relationship with the Kremlin is revealing itself by the day,” her website announced yesterday, and vital “questions” must be answered “about Trump’s cozy relationship with Russia.” The Clinton campaign this weekend released a 1-minute video that, over and over, insinuates Trump’s disloyalty in the form of “questions” – complete with menacing pictures of Red Square. Democrats cheered wildly, and really have not stopped cheering, ever since the ex-Acting CIA Director (who, undisclosed by the NYT, now works for a Clinton operative) went to The New York Times to claim “that Mr. Putin had recruited Mr. Trump as an unwitting agent of the Russian Federation.”


      This tweet is, to state it plainly, a lie. Stein simply did not “gush over Russian support for human rights.” To the contrary, in this very video, she criticized Russia for diverting scarce resources into military spending while its people suffered, and merely praised her fellow participants from around the world who attended an RT-sponsored conference. But no matter: Democratic operatives and journalists widely hailed it as proof that she, too, is some sort of Russia dupe or worse.

    • Green Party Convention 2016: In First 100 Days, Pres. Jill Stein Would Cancel Student Debt, End Middle East Wars

      Dr. Jill Stein, the Green Party’s presidential candidate, has ambitious plans for her first 100 days in office.

      “First thing we do is cancel student debt, working with the Fed,” Stein told MintPress News in an exclusive interview. “We will be fighting for that from day one.”

      Stein would also immediately begin to implement her “Green New Deal” to redirect resources from the military-industrial complex into an economy based on renewable energy. She hopes her plan would put a stop to America’s endless energy wars.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

  • Privacy/Surveillance

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • A Racist Mecca, a Black Architect and Odious Politics That Refuse to Die

      He was a rarity in 1940: a successful African-American architect in Los Angeles. Paul Revere Williams built some of the city’s most famous structures—the Superior Court building downtown, the futuristic Theme Building at Los Angeles International Airport—as well as private homes for celebrities including Lucille Ball, Barbara Stanwyck and Frank Sinatra.

      Despite his success, he battled racism throughout his career, growing used to the surprised expression of new clients whose enthusiastic embrace became less so after finally meeting him face to face—clients like Clara Taylor, the right-winger at the center of “Blueprint for Paradise,” a play getting its world premiere at the Hudson Theatre in Hollywood.

      Based on one of the oddest chapters in Williams’ career—the time when he designed and built a compound for the Silver Legion of America, a Nazi group also known as the Silver Shirts—the play, by playwright Laurel M. Wetzork and director Laura Steinroeder, shrewdly incorporates real-life fascist movements with ideological components espoused by major public figures of the time. Based on fact and local legend, “Blueprint” is set in Rustic Canyon in Pacific Palisades, where, it was recently announced, the final remains of the 55-acre Murphy Ranch, including a power station, a buckled fuel tank, a collapsed shed and garden bed foundations, are to be demolished.

    • Voices from the supply chain: an interview with the Labour, Education and Research Network in the Philippines

      BTS speaks with Tony Salvador on the perils of short-term contracts in the Philippines.


      Employers hire and fire the same worker again and again, or they seek employees provided by labour contractors, in order to avoid any of the responsibilities and costs that come with long-term formal employment.

    • Women BANNED from Dunkin’ Donuts in Saudi Arabia – unless they are accompanied by a man

      Signs have been daubed on doors to the shops in the capital Riyadh saying “unescorted women” are not allowed inside.

      Dunkin’ Donuts is famous for its sugary treats and the American chain has outlets across the world.

      Saudi Arabia has strict rules in place to separate men and women, many of whom wear full face veils.

    • ‘Bwisit ako dyan!’ Duterte takes swipe at US envoy [Ed: Bastos mass-murdering anti-journalism tax-evading Dutetre continues to act like Mafia Don, not President]

      MANILA – President Rodrigo Duterte has taken a swipe at United States Ambassador to the Philippines Philip Goldberg, calling the diplomat “bakla” during a speech before soldiers in Camp Lapu Lapu in Cebu City Friday night.

      “Kaya nga sabi ko nung si Kerry, kasama kami ni Secretary, si Delfin (Lorenzana), kausap namin si (U.S. Secretary of State John) Kerry. Okay naman siya kasi, nag-away kami ng ambassador niya (Philip Goldberg). ‘Yung ambassador niyang bakla, p*****i**, buwisit ako diyan. Nakikisali doon sa election, giving [a] statement. You’re not supposed to do that,” Duterte said.

      ["Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana and I talked to U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry. He was okay. I had a rift with his ambassador (Philip Goldberg), his gay ambassador. He meddled during the elections, giving statements. You're not supposed to do that."]

      Goldberg is the outgoing U.S. ambassador to Manila. He is set to leave his post in October.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • Net Neutrality: High quality connectivity and net neutrality go hand in hand

      Today, a coalition of more than 30 NGOs and civil liberties organisations from around the world sent an open letter to lawmakers in charge of telecoms regulation encouraging them to support the development and implementation of robust net neutrality rules alongside the deployment of high quality broadband and next-generation networks.

      The letter is a response to the recently published “5G Manifesto” in which telecoms operators threaten to withhold 5G investment unless regulators water down European Union rules on net neutrality and other rules, including provisions on network access and privacy. This attack comes at a time when the Body of European Regulators of Electronic Communications (BEREC) is currently developing guidelines for the implementation of the adopted net neutrality rules.

    • Comcast/NBC Ignores Lessons From The Cord Cutting Age, Buries Olympics Under An Ocean Of Annoying Advertising

      In 2011, Comcast agreed to pay $4.4 billion for exclusive US broadcast rights to air the Olympics through 2020. It shelled out another $7.75 billion for the rights for the games until 2032. To begin recouping the costs of this deal, Comcast/NBC was quick to brag about how it nabbed $1.2 billion in national advertising in the games. But lost in this conversation, as usual, was what paying customers actually wanted. What consumers repeatedly told NBC they wanted was less blathering, more live events, and a live broadcast of the opening ceremonies. They got none of those things.

  • DRM

    • EFF Asks FTC To Demand ‘Truth In Labeling’ For DRM

      Interesting move by Cory Doctorow and the EFF in sending some letters to the FTC making a strong case that DRM requires some “truth in labeling” details in order to make sure people know what they’re buying. We’ve been pointing out for years, that DRM often means that you don’t really own what you think you bought.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Copyrights

      • Primatologist Tells Court That Macaque Monkeys Are, Like, Super Smart, So They Should Totally Get Copyrights

        The case of the monkey selfie keeps getting weirder and weirder. I’m not going to rehash the whole damn story again — just click the monkey selfie link above and scroll through the posts. Here’s the super short version though: A British photographer named David Slater left his camera on the ground in an Indonesian jungle, where a macaque monkey (which we’re now, much later, told is named Naruto, though there’s some dispute over this) approached the camera and took a selfie. There were all sorts of debates online about whether or not there was any copyright in the photo and, if so, who owned it, with Slater repeatedly insisting that he did (and occasionally having representatives threaten us). A few years later, out of the blue came PETA, claiming that it represented the monkey (Naruto) and was suing Slater for copyright infringement for publishing a book with the photos. A judge, rightly, tossed out the lawsuit, pointing out (as we had argued from the very beginning) that a monkey has no right to a copyright, and the law only applies to human persons. PETA and its actually well-known and until now mostly respected law firm, Irell & Manella, have appealed the ruling.

        And, now, believe it or not, PETA has gotten a primatologist and apparent “macaque expert” named Agustin Fuentes to file an amicus brief supporting the idea that a macaque monkey taking a selfie should hold the copyright in the image. Fuentes may be a macaque expert, but he’s not much of a copyright expert… and it shows. The brief mainly focuses on how smart macaque monkeys are, as evidence that being smart somehow means it deserves the copyright.

      • The Ridiculous Concept Of The ‘Value Gap’ In Music Services… And How It Could Harm Both The Tech Industry And The Music Industry

        Over the past few months, the legacy recording industry has coalesced around a new talking point — a so-called “value gap” between different kinds of music services. In particular, the phrase is used to attack YouTube and to claim that it’s somehow unfair that the ad rates and money made from the ad supported YouTube is much lower than purely subscription services. This has lead to the repeated false claim from the RIAA and others that revenue from vinyl records is more than from ad supported streaming.

        Unfortunately, this value gap phrase has caught on in certain circles — including over in Europe where the European Commission has mentioned it as it puts in place plans for copyright reform. Tragically, and incorrectly, EU officials have started referring to reasonable intermediary liability protections and other things as a “loophole” within copyright law that somehow allows platforms to “unfairly benefit.” It allows them to claim that they’re just trying to “level the playing field” when that actually means tilting the playing field heavily in one direction.

      • UK copyright extension on designed objects is “direct assault” on 3D printing

        A recent extension of UK copyright for industrially manufactured artistic works represents “a direct assault on the 3D printing revolution,” says Pirate Party founder Rick Falkvinge. The UK government last month extended copyright for designs from 25 years to the life of the designer plus 70 years. In practice, this is likely to mean a copyright term of over 100 years for furniture and other designed objects.

      • KickassTorrents Domain Goes Up For Sale For A Minimum Bid of $230

        KickAss.cr, one of the main domains of KickassTorrents, has gone up for sale. Available via the SEDO marketplace for a minimum bid of $230, this domain name is registered with the Costa Rican registry, hence, away from the U.S. Government’s reach. If you are planning to buy this domain, don’t expect this sale to be a smooth one

EPO’s Vice-President Willy Minnoye Was Rumoured to be Leaving

Posted in Europe, Patents, Rumour at 5:13 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Name: Mr. B, Salary: Unknown, Accomplishment: Turning a once-great patent office into a laughing stock; Name: Mr. M, Status: Above the law, Accomplishment: Crushing staff unions for a few decades

Summary: Willy/Guillaume Minnoye (VP1) was at one point rumoured to be on his way out, so maybe that is still the case

THE EPO is probably Europe’s most notorious institution these days (worse than FIFA). This isn’t the fault of patent examiners but of top-level management which decided to treat examiners like an enemy and impose unreasonable demands.

“For a person his age, it would not count as early retirement but as late retirement (he was never supposed to have this post in the first place).”Working for Battistelli is difficult enough as an examiner, but even for those working for him at top-level management it has become hard and stressful. Recently, as we wrote earlier this summer, Ciaran McGinley resigned (set to retire early). As Principal Director of Patent Administration, his departure is a very big deal, but he’s not alone. Many people are leaving the Office and there are ways for retrieving some statistics; there are staff changes published every month and anyone in the office can read them. Based on these, one can easily see the increase in retirements over the last couple of years (we don’t know if anybody has already done that) and some people told us that it is indeed the case. Several sources told us the same thing and some people wrote anonymous comments about it online.

Earlier this year we learned that Principal Directors were starting to scrabble around with an eye on the VP1 post (that would be Minnoye’s post, around the time he embarrassed himself on Dutch TV). It was premature at the time to circulate rumours that Minnoye might be leaving and in fact he did not leave*. Given his age (past retirement age), maybe it’s just a matter of time. For a person his age, it would not count as early retirement but as late retirement (he was never supposed to have this post in the first place).
* “Mrs Elodie Bergot has apparentlly [sic] resigned,” one person claimed at the time, but it turned out to be false. We never published this rumour; we refuted it.

Rumours About Secret EPO Salary of Benoît Battistelli

Posted in Europe, Patents, Rumour at 4:41 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

No transparency, no accountability (more greed and lawlessness)

Battistelli salarySummary: Rumours about the amount of money Benoît Battistelli gets paid to ruin the European Patent Office (EPO), which has become more secretive and accordingly reckless

FOR a number of years now (not just months) people have wondered how much money Battistelli gets paid (money extracted from EPO budget without any proper oversight). Staff of the EPO does not trust Battistelli at all. Asking for transparency/details of Presidential salary should not be out of the ordinary as previous Presidents, a la Alison Brimelow (Battistelli’s predecessor at the Office), openly stated their salary and there was no confrontation about it. Battistelli is different because some say that Bergot, his friend’s wife (Elodie Bergot), increased his salary and/or bonus. We want to catch him in a lie right now, not because we have something against him personally but because the secrecy he brought to the EPO (definitely worse than in Brimelow’s days) hurts the credibility of the Office and damages — by extension — Europe’s reputation for accountability and relatively low corruption rates.

“Someone anonymous got told (a while back) that the salary was actually €42,000 a month (i.e. just over half a million Euros, a lot more than even national Presidents and EU heads receive), but that came through a friend via another friend, thus lacking any documentary evidence for it.”It is worth noting that Mr. Kongstad, Battistelli’s successor in the Council, knows Battistelli’s salary but cooperates in keeping the salary secret (as well as the contract which may include other forms of benefit/compensation). We are not going to go after Kongstad, however, because his role in this secrecy is at best intended to appease Battistelli’s will. Earlier this year we heard that Elodie Bergot gave Battistelli a raise (not years but months ago), so we assume her department too knows the salary but keeps quiet about it. Quite a few people out there know how much Battistelli gets paid, so why does he keep so quiet about it? Maybe because it contradicts what he said to the Dutch press?

Rumours about Battistelli’s salary/ies (contracts change over time) are out there in the wild. EPO workers speak about it, but few have actually seen a document confirming the hard facts. Someone anonymous got told (a while back) that the salary was actually €42,000 a month (i.e. just over half a million Euros, a lot more than even national Presidents and EU heads receive), but that came though a friend via another friend, thus lacking any documentary evidence for it. “The problem I have found,” told us this anonymous source, “is that almost everything I find out that I don’t actually see in a document has the risk of being false. That is what happens, I guess, when there is no transparency and people have to rely of rumors (very USSR). The most reliable rumors come from getting the IT people drunk in the EPO bar. They have access to everything.”

Half a million Euros annually (gross) contradicts other rumours we have come across, including some which say €1,000,000, €1.2m, or close to €1.5m.

What is the real salary? We may never know unless or until the contracts get leaked or Battistelli comes clean like his predecessor, Alison Brimelow.

Software Patents Not Potent in the United States Anymore, But Threat of Resurgence Persists Inside CAFC

Posted in America, Courtroom, Patents at 3:43 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Judge Raymond Chen has a track record of resisting § 101

Raymond T. Chen

Summary: The perception of correlation between the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) judge that is assigned to a software patent/s case and the outcome of the case gives room for speculation

THERE is a lot to be celebrated now that the USPTO hardly accepts (abstract) software patent applications and even when it does, boards or courts will overrule it down the road. We fought for this for over a decade and after Alice it gradually became a reality, lowering the overall number of patent lawsuits and patent trolls, as expected. The EPO currently moves in the opposite direction, due to its misguided President. As Benjamin Henrion put it yesterday, in relation to the UPC with its bogus 'expert' teams, “software dev[elopment] does not need patents. UPC is a back door.”

The US Supreme Court has not dealt with the subject of software patenting for several years, but the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) deals with it all the time and usually, in about 90% of cases, accepts the Alice ruling and tosses away software patents. It is worth keeping track of who inside CAFC has a track record of not obeying Alice and in fact defying/rejecting it. This subject is hardly explored anywhere. In his latest article about CAFC, for example, Professor Crouch focuses on Halo, Pulse, and Seagate in relation to willful infringement claims, which is another subject altogether, namely damages.

“In order to keep software patents at bay (and away) we need to at least name the judges.”Daniel Cole, a patent attorney with Bold IP, worries about Alice and says that “Removing Section 101 Won’t be Enough” (to restore software patenting). This was published yesterday (as in every Sunday) in the pro-software patents site of Watchtroll. Well, software patent proponents want it all and they know how they can get it, if only opponents of software patents don’t remain vigilant. “If section 101 of the patent act,” he explains, “is removed the Supreme Court is extremely likely to simply continue to rely on those two precedents and continue to find abstract ideas and natural phenomena unpatentable. As the “broad language” of section 101 would also be removed the Supreme Court might even assume congress is giving it broad authority to enact further limitations on patentability.”

Brian Watkins, in the mean time tells me that “[i]n real life, on the other hand, the CAFC—especially J Chen—is halfway to overturning Alice.” He added [1, 2] “DDR Holdings: copying color code out of HTML file is patent-eligible. Bascom: running IPtables on remote host eligible. The two biggest steps on the road to overturning Alice and Bilski and returning to State Street Bank, both by Chen.”

The Enfish judgment, by contrast, he says is “[b]y Hughes w/ Moore, Taranto on panel.”

Citing Watchtroll, a vocal proponent of software patents, he says the article “lays out exactly how the trolls are overturning Alice step by step.”

This is worth noting perhaps, and better late than never, as we never really bothered checking who issued which CAFC ruling/s and what the patterns of outcomes were. In order to keep software patents at bay (and away) we need to at least name the judges. In the past, specifically inside CAFC, some judges were crooked and were working closely with outside interests. Randall Ray Rader is a recent example which we mentioned here many times before. Watchtroll already has a ‘thing’ for Mr. Chen (4 out of the top 6 search results are Watchtroll articles; see for example Google images search).

Links 8/8/2016: Linux 4.8 RC1, Steam on FreeBSD

Posted in News Roundup at 3:00 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish



Free Software/Open Source


  • So long, Marianne: Leonard Cohen writes to muse just before her death

    Leonard Cohen penned a poignant final letter to his dying muse Marianne Ihlen, a longtime friend of hers revealed on Canadian radio.

    Ihlen, whom Cohen wrote about in So Long, Marianne and Bird on a Wire, died in Norway on 29 July, aged 81.

  • Science

    • Tim LaHaye Is Gone, But His Gospel of Apocalyptic Christianity Will Plague America for Years to Come

      Tim LaHaye died last week. He was 90. He was best known for co-writing the “Left Behind” series of novels about the battle of Armageddon, which fundamentalists believe will follow the Rapture of Christian believers from earth. The books have sold over 63 million copies—the version of the series for kids has sold 11 million copies alone—and the obituaries led with that. He helped found the Moral Majority with Jerry Falwell and sat on its board, and in 1981 began the Council for National Policy, a secretive directorate for religious-right organizations that has been called “the most powerful conservative organization in America you’ve never heard of.” He was so fanatically devoted to what Christians call “the Great Commission”—Matthew 28:19–20: “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you”—that when he once ran into the Dalai Lama in Israel he shook hands with him and asked, “Sir, has anyone ever explained to you who Jesus Christ really is?”

  • Health/Nutrition

    • HIV community condemns witch-hunt against civil society in India

      As the Government of India, along with other member states made promises at the UN General Assembly Special Session on AIDS underway in New York, it intensified its persecution of civil society organisations in India. Recent instances brings the persecution to the doorstep of the HIV response in India.

      In early June, Lawyers Collective, a civil society organisation that has been at the forefront of legal activism to ensure the rights of people living with HIV, LGBTI groups, sexworkers and injecting drug users in India, received a government order suspending its right to receive funds from foreign agencies. This had the potential to hamper all of Lawyers Collectives work with HIV organisations and the central and state governments in India.

      Among other things, the organisation was accused of utilising foreign funds for raising awareness and conducting workshops/meetings/seminars on issues relating to HIV/AIDS and women’s empowerment. Further, they have been accused of spending foreign funds on advocacy with media and Members of Parliament for raising awareness on legal issues, including discrimination faced by people living with HIV and the need for legislative measures for redress. And also, they have been accused of spending foreign funds on organising protest rallies led by positive people’s networks.

    • Flint official says city lacks direction for water treatment

      Flint’s interim water plant chief said the city is being forced to apply chemicals to the city’s drinking water supply without a written comprehensive strategy, and she is concerned residents could be negatively affected.

      Interim Utilities Director JoLisa McDay wrote a letter, which was posted Thursday, Aug. 4, on the city’s website, to the Environmental Protection Agency and Michigan Department of Environmental Quality claiming the city lacks direction on its water treatment processes.

    • Pittsburgh Joins the List of US Cities with Lead in Drinking Water

      Lead-tainted water isn’t just a problem in Flint, Michigan.

      This week in Pittsburgh, the city’s Water and Sewer Authority reportedly sent 81,000 customers a letter informing them of elevated lead levels in their water.

    • There’s Quite Likely Something Fishy in Your Wine—Maybe Try a Vegan Vintage?

      If you’d rather not know about all the disgusting additives that may be lurking in your favorite Sauvignon blanc, read no further. Marissa A. Ross, wine editor of Bon Appétit magazine, is about to reveal some not-so-tasty secret ingredients in the third episode of her off-the-wall and eye-opening video series Drink Sustainably.

      “So you know when people are like, is this wine vegan, and that sounds crazy?” Ross asks.

      With so many dietary fads (gluten-free, low-carb and beyond) being debunked as soon as they’re popularized, it’s normal to approach vegan wine with skepticism. But Ross explains that vegan wine is “really not that crazy. What’s crazy is that there are plenty of wine companies out there that use these additives like egg whites and gelatins to make wine clearer.”

      Gelatin—a protein made by boiling the skin, tendons, cartilage, ligaments and bones of animals, mostly cows or pigs—has been used as a clarifying agent in the winemaking process since ancient Roman times. To this delicious list of animal-derived fining agents is also added blood, marrow, crustacean shells and fish bladders (which not too long ago underwent scrutiny for being used as an ingredient in some popular beers).

    • How One GMO Nearly Took Down the Planet

      On July 29, President Obama signed bill S.764 into law, dealing a major blow to the movement to require GMO labeling. The new law, which food safety groups call the “Deny Americans the Right to Know” (DARK) Act, has at least three key parts that undermine Vermont’s popular GMO labeling bill and make it nearly impossible for Americans to know what’s in their food.

      The law claims to set a federal labeling standard by requiring food producers to include either a QR barcode that can be scanned with a phone, or a 1-800 number that consumers can call to find out whether a product contains genetically modified ingredients.

      But according to the Institute for Responsible Technology, this bill doesn’t require most processed foods to have a label, defines genetic engineering so narrowly most GMOs on the market don’t qualify, and gives the USDA two more years to come up with “additional criteria”—also known as “loopholes.”

      This is disappointing for American consumers who honestly just want to know what their food contains, but the issue surrounding GMOs isn’t just about what these companies are putting into our food and stocking our stores with. What’s potentially more devastating for the planet is that genetically modified organisms developed by companies like Monsanto and DuPont can escape into our ecosystems and potentially wreak havoc before they are even tested or approved as safe.

      That’s not wild-eyed conspiracy theory or speculation; it’s a matter of fact.

      The same day Obama signed the DARK Act, the U.S. Department of Agriculture confirmed that a farmer found 22 experimental and unapproved wheat plants in one of his fields that had been genetically modified by Monsanto. The reactions to the finding have been swift, despite being ignored by the mainstream media.

  • Security

    • Surveillance video shows a case of high-tech grand theft auto, more than 100 cars stolen [Ed: proprietary software, recall this about Jeep]

      Houston, Texas police announced the arrest of two men accused of stealing about 30 Jeep and Dodge vehicles. Authorities say they did it by using a laptop computer.

      Police tell KTRK they’ve been watching these guys for a while but were never able to catch them in the act stealing Jeeps – until last Friday.

      Police say Michael Arce and Jesse Zelaya stole more than 30 Jeeps in the Houston area over the last six months.

    • Openssh backdoor used on compromised Linux servers

      Some times ago, I have installed honeypot services on one of my servers, in order to see what happens in the real outside world. I especially installed the cowrie ssh honeypot which simulate a Linux shell and gather binaries that people want to install on the server (this tool is awesome, check here to install it).

    • random failures

      Lots of examples of random numbers failing, leading to cryptographic failure.

      The always classic Debian, OpenSSL, and the year of the zero.

      The time Sony signed Playstation code with the same nonce and leaked the keys.

      Samy phpwned session IDS.

      The Bitcoin app Blockchain used random.org for entropy. Bonus giggles for not following the HTTP redirect, but actually using “301 Moved Permanently” as a random number.

      The paper Mining Your Ps and Qs has pretty extensive investigation into weak keys on network devices, many of which result from poor entropy.

      Now here’s a question. How many of these vulnerabilities could have been prevented by plugging in some sort of “true random” USB gizmo of the sort that regularly appears on kickstarter? I’m going to go with not many. USB gizmos don’t prevent inopportune calls to memset. USB gizmos don’t prevent nonce reuse. USB gizmos don’t block utterly retarded HTTP requests.

    • PLC-Blaster Worm Targets Industrial Control Systems [Ed: Remember Stuxnet?]

      PLC-Blaster was designed to target Siemens SIMATIC S7-1200 PLCs. Siemens is Europe’s biggest engineering company and a PLC market share leader. Siemens said in March shortly after the worm was unveiled at Black Hat Asia that the malware was not exploiting a vulnerability in Siemens gear. Maik Brüggemann, software developer and security engineer at OpenSource Security, said that worms like this one are a threat to any industrial network.


      When OpenSource Security took its findings to Siemens, the researchers were told there were no flaws in its PLC platforms using its SIMATIC S7-1200 PLC. “We were told these were not vulnerabilities and that everything worked as expected,” Brüggemann said.

    • Security Reseacher explains security issues related to Windows 10 Linux subsystem at Blackhat
    • Def Con: Do smart devices mean dumb security?

      From net-connected sex toys to smart light bulbs you can control via your phone, there’s no doubt that the internet of things is here to stay.

      More and more people are finding that the devices forming this network of smart stuff can make their lives easier.

    • 1 billion computer monitors vulnerable to undetectable firmware attacks

      A team led by Ang Cui (previously) — the guy who showed how he could take over your LAN by sending a print-job to your printer — have presented research at Defcon, showing that malware on your computer can poison your monitor’s firmware, creating nearly undetectable malware implants that can trick users by displaying fake information, and spy on the information being sent to the screen.

      It’s a scarier, networked, pluripotent version of Van Eck phreaking that uses an incredibly sly backchannel to communicate with the in-device malware: attackers can blink a single pixel in a website to activate and send instructions to the screen’s malware.

      What’s more, there’s no existing countermeasure for it, and most monitors appear to be vulnerable.

    • Hackers Could Break Into Your Monitor To Spy on You and Manipulate Your Pixels

      We think of our monitors as passive entities. The computer sends them data, and they somehow—magically?—turn it into pixels which make words and pictures.

      But what if that wasn’t the case? What if hackers could hijack our monitors and turn them against us?

      As it turns out, that’s possible. A group of researchers has found a way to hack directly into the tiny computer that controls your monitor without getting into your actual computer, and both see the pixels displayed on the monitor—effectively spying on you—and also manipulate the pixels to display different images.

    • Computer Expert Hacks Into Common Voting Machine in Minutes to Reveal Shocking 2016 Election Threat

      It took Princeton computer science professor Andrew Appel and one of his graduate students just minutes to hack into a voting machine still used in Louisiana, New Jersey, Virginia, and Pennsylvania, Politico reports.

      Professor Andrew Appel purchased for $82 a Sequoia AVC Advantage, one of the oldest machines still in use. Within 7 seconds, he and his student, Alex Halderman, had picked the lock open. Within minutes, the duo had removed the device’s unsecured ROM chips with their own hardware that makes it easy to alter the machine’s results.

    • Researchers Bypass Chip-and-Pin Protections at Black Hat

      Credit card companies for the most part have moved away from “swipe and signature” credit cards to chip and pin cards by this point; the technology known as EMV (Europay, MasterCard, and Visa) which is supposed to provide consumers with an added layer of security is beginning to see some wear, according to researchers.

  • Defence/Aggression

    • Obama not only did not pay Iran Ransom, he denied Iran Billions it had Coming to It

      Zack Beauchamp at Vox has a very clear explanation of why the $400 million the US paid to Iran in January was not a ransom for hostages.

      The fact is that the Obama administration dodged a likely ruling by an arbitration court against the United States that could have awarded Iran as much as $10 billion.

      The Iranian government of the Shah had paid the US $400 million for fighter jets before the 1979 Islamic Revolution. After the revolution, the US froze Iranian assets, and after the hostage crisis had no representation in Iran. But by international law the US still owed Iran $400 mn because it never delivered the promised planes. Ultimately a special court was set up to arbitrate the dispute. Iran was asking for $10 billion because of inflation and because of aggravation. It began to look as though Iran might win the $10 bn.

    • Syria: Key ISIL Smuggling city, Manbij, falls to Kurd-Arab Force

      The Syrian War is nowhere near over, but the Daesh (ISIS, ISIL) episode may be drawing to an end. Alarabiya reports that the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces, which is largely leftist Kurds of the YPG but includes a small Arab auxiliary faction, has taken almost all of the former Daesh stronghold of Manbij. The north Syrian city not so far from the Turkish border had been used by Daesh as a key logistics point in smuggling arms, men and supplies from Turkey down to its capital of al-Raqqa. Only a small number of fighters remain in the city, according to Rami Abdel Rahman, the head of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

      The fall of Manbij signals a new phase in the struggle against Daesh, as SDF positions itself to blockade al-Raqqa.

      Unfortunately for regional stability, that the Kurds of Syria’s northeast are extending their sway westward will make it look to Turkey as though the Syrian Kurds are consolidating a mini-state. Turkey’s elites are paranoid about secessionist tendencies among Turkey’s own Kurds, about 20% of its population and concentrated in the southwest near Syria.

    • Puerto Rico is a Colony, No Matter How Else You Dress it Up

      The island called Puerto Rico is a colony of the United States. This fact means that the rights US citizens assume to be theirs do not necessarily apply to Puerto Ricans living on the island. The history of Puerto Rico since the United States military invaded it in 1898 makes this very clear. Whether one is taking a look at the economic relationship between the United States and Puerto Rico, the political relationship, or the military relationship, the blatant nature of the colonial relationship is foremost.

      This becomes very clear in Nelson A. Denis’ 2015 history War Against All Puerto Ricans: Revolution and Terror in America’s Colony. Partially a biography of the Nationalist leader and hero Pedro Albizu Campos and partially a history of the Puerto Rican nationalist movement in the early and mid-twentieth century, this text tells a story more people in the United States should know. The racism and just plain disregard for human lives described in Denis’ narrative is a match for the very worst of humanity’s inhumanity to other humans. The fact that it continues in Washington’s current dealings with Puerto Rico is testament to the arrogance intrinsic to colonialism, no matter how it is dressed up.

    • The Rising Death Toll in Indian Kashmir

      Three people were killed and more than 100 injured Friday after security forces opened fire on protesters in Indian Kashmir, bringing the death toll since clashes began in July to 55, Reuters reports.

      Two protesters were killed in western Srinagar, the capital of India’s Jammu and Kashmir States, and one was killed in the north. The protests, which took place amid region-wide curfews, began after Friday prayers.

      Violence first erupted last month following the death of Burhan Muzaffar Wani, a 22-year-old separatist militant credited with reviving militancy in Kashmir, India’s only Muslim-majority state. He used his active following on social media to encourage youth to join the Hizbul Muhahideen.

    • A Veteran Novel That Finds No Redemption in War

      If your anger about the U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq has lost its edge, Roy Scranton’s debut novel, War Porn, will help you recommit. It takes a while to appreciate the disjointed quality of the plot, which hopscotches back and forth through the lives of two U.S. soldiers, Specialist Wilson (identified only by his rank and last name), whose deployment to Iraq transforms him from a poet nice-guy into something else, and a National Guard military police officer, Aaron Stojanowski, who returns stateside jagged and dangerous. In writing War Porn, Scranton has produced a literary work that doesn’t just describe the outrages of the war, but punches them into the American gut.

      We first meet Stojanowski at a Columbus Day barbecue in the fall of 2004, and watch as detached millennials ask questions about his service in Iraq. “That must have been intense,” one says. Eventually Stojanowski explodes, kicking a pet and harshing the party vibe. The novel then jumps through a set of disjointed scenes from Specialist Wilson’s time in Iraq, which illustrate in alternating fashion: the casual racism of military occupation; the boredom and routine of everyday violence; the sudden fragility of life; the unexpected, fleeting pleasures of the forward operating base.

    • It’s Bombs Away for the USA in Libya

      The United States returned to aerial bomb Libya. The target is Islamic State (IS) positions in the north-central city of Sirte. IS has held Sirte and its surrounding areas since last year. Sirte is the birthplace of Muammar Qaddafi, who was also killed there. After the fall of the Qaddafi government, this central Libyan town languished. It had become the playground of the Libyan Dawn – the militia of the town of Misrata, led by Salah Badi – and later the Libya Shield Force of Benghazi. The latter had close ties to al-Qaeda and is now part of the Shura Council of Benghazi Revolutionaries. When the Islamic State attacked Sirte last year, the various militias had little incentive to stay. They delivered the city to the Islamic State and withdrew to their own hometowns. Attempts to erode the Islamic State by other militias and armies have thus far failed.

    • Why Neocons Can’t Stomach Trump

      Bill Kristol is downright despondent after his failed search for an alternative to Donald Trump. Max Boot is indignant about his “stupid” party’s willingness to ride a bragging bull into a delicate China policy shop. And the leading light of the first family of military interventionism — Robert Kagan — is actually lining up neoconservatives behind the Democratic nominee for president of the United States.

    • What’s Best for Children?

      The provocative notion of a “madman” somehow getting into the system and starting a war oversimplifies the reality of our situation, which is that any human being, not just a knowledge-averse demagogue like Mr. Trump, may have the capacity to go “mad” in the tensions leading up to the decision to launch. The historical record shows that past presidents of the U.S. had seriously considered using nuclear weapons, most distressingly Mr. Nixon when he realized we were losing in Vietnam. Even a “no-drama” Obama could be rendered almost psychotic with dread by evidence that missiles were apparently headed for our major cities. This is a situation that is far beyond the psychological endurance of even the sanest and most well-trained leader. Madness is relative in the nuclear world. We would certainly label mad an extremist who set off a nuclear weapon in a city. We do not apply the same label to the whole field of leaders and diplomats who seem to be more or less satisfied, or pretend they are, with a status quo that is patently insane.

    • The Sham Rebrand of al-Qaeda’s Nusra Front

      The Nusra Front’s adoption of the new name Jabhat Fateh al-Sham and claim that it has separated itself from al-Qaeda was designed to influence US policy, not to make the group any more independent of al-Qaeda.


      Charles Lister, the British expert on Syrian jihadism who is now a fellow at the Middle East Institute in Washington, DC, observed in May that al-Qaeda’s senior leadership has acquired a huge political stake in Nusra Front’s success in dominating the war against the Assad regime, which it views as the jewel in the crown of its global operation, along with al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), the group’s Yemeni franchise.

      This was not the first time that the issue of possible independence from al-Qaeda had come up in the context of the international politics of the Syrian conflict. A year ago last spring, Turkey, Qatar and Saudi Arabia, the external sponsors of the Nusra Front-dominated military command that had taken over Idlib in April, were concerned about the possibility that the Obama administration would come down hard against their Nusra-based strategy.

    • From World War II to Iraq: Captain Khan and the Citizen Soldier

      One thing Trump tweeted actually spoke to this point: he noted that it was actually Hillary Clinton who had voted for war, not him. That Senator Clinton voted to authorize the invasion of Iraq was obscured in the flag-waving theatrics, but it’s a crucial fact that the politician who has positioned herself as the Khans’ champion also helped send their son into battle. Clinton has since expressed regret over her vote, but she’s gained dubious redemption by embracing a young man’s “sacrifice” despite having played an indirect role in his avoidable death.

    • America’s Top Spies and Analysts Warn of Real Threat of a Trump Presidency: 5 Leaders Who Have Spoken out

      Starting next week, Hillary Clinton and Donald J. Trump, the two major-party candidates for the presidency of the United States, will begin receiving national security briefings from intelligence officials.

      One senior intelligence official, speaking to the Washington Post on August 3 on the condition of anonymity, contended “he would decline to participate in any session with Trump…citing not only concern with Trump’s expressions of admiration for Russian President Vladi­mir Putin but seeming uninterest in acquiring a deeper or more nuanced understanding of world events.”

    • Lessons from the UK’s Chilcot Report for Turkey’s post-coup response

      On September 24, 2002, the UK government published a fifty page dossier on Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction which was discussed in Parliament on the same day. The British Prime Minister Tony Blair stood before a cramped House of Commons and claimed that the ‘…intelligence picture that [the dossier paints] is one accumulated over the last four years. It is extensive, detailed and authoritative. It concludes that Iraq has chemical and biological weapons, that Saddam has continued to produce them, that he has existing and active military plans for the use of chemical and biological weapons, which could be activated within 45 minutes…’ Tony Blair had penned a foreword to that dossier in which he claimed that he believed the intelligence had ‘established beyond doubt’ that Saddam had continued to produce weapons of mass destruction (WMD). Facing a disbelieving public, the PM went on a public charm offensive by doing a series of TV interviews and shows speaking directly to members of the audience.

      Tony Blair eventually secured the votes to take the UK to war alongside the US and other coalition partners. Hundreds of thousands of lives and many more displaced families later, no WMD were found. The obvious failure of the intelligenc

    • Drone Rule Book, Working Thread

      What ever happened to the inclusions of headers and footers in documents? It used to be, documents would ID what document you were reading on every page, which is really useful if one page walks or gets replaced with a new one. Now even life-and-death documents like the Drone Rule Book liberated by the ACLU lack real headers.

    • 20 Photos That Take You Behind the Miskitu Curtain

      Contrasting the congenial moment on the porch, the outside of the house is covered in bullet holes perpetrated by armed attackers known as ‘colonos’ (settlers). Miskitu communities on the frontier are living in constant fear of these recurring attacks on their villages, and are growing desperate watching their family and friends die or be ‘disappeared’, while many others feel forced to flee the region entirely. The illegal settler attacks are part of a strategic and organized attempt to violently seize control of resource rich, traditional Miskitu territory.

      A popular consensus among some Miskitus is that the Ortega government is tempting the settlers with lucrative loans, enabling them to illegally purchase the land for raising cattle. Beyond all spiraling suspicion and blame, the stark reality remains: the Miskitu are currently victims of an ongoing, large-scale land grab of Nicaragua’s most resource rich, biodiverse – and disappearing – rainforest. The ongoing criminal activity is sure to be a harbinger of devastating, unfolding, environmental impacts to boot.

    • Execution of Iranian Scientist Uncovers Sad, Strange Tale of CIA Spy Games

      Iranian nuclear scientist Shahram Amiri, who claimed to have been tortured and imprisoned by the United States Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), was executed by the Iranian government for alleged espionage on behalf of the U.S..

      State-controlled Iranian media confirmed the death on Sunday. “Shahram Amiri was hanged for revealing the country’s top secrets to the enemy (US),” spokesperson Gholamhossein Mohseni Ejeie was quoted as saying by Mizan Online.

      However, details of the allegations are murky as the scientist disappeared during a pilgrimage to Mecca, Saudi Arabia in spring of 2009 and claimed to have been subject to CIA extradition and torture.

    • Another Ordinary Day in the Empire

      As of yet today, I haven’t seen any articles about children bombed in bits in pieces in the Middle East or elsewhere, but I’m sure there have been devastated parents somewhere, asking why.

    • Still the Political Project Calls to Us

      Not long ago, Obama openly leveled criticism against the political establishment in Cuba. He righteously decried a lack of democracy and political freedom there, indicting the Cuban government for its role in continuing an antidemocratic politics for far too long after the Cold War. Now, however, in the wake of the recent turmoil surrounding the fixed Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, which can be described as anything but democratic or transparent, Obama’s shameless denunciations of Cuba have lost whatever paltry significance they maybe had. And thanks to despotic blemish that stains the Democrats in their march to the White House, the US edges closer to consummate totalitarianism under Obama’s chosen pawn, Hillary.

    • Liberal Antiwar Activism is the Problem

      Every election season, veterans and their families are used as political pawns. During the Democratic National Convention in Philly, the Khans, the mother and father of a Marine Captain who was killed in Iraq, conveniently filled the role for Hillary Clinton and the Neoliberals. At the Republican National Convention, Patricia Smith gladly took the stage for the Neofascists and talked about the death of her son and the non-scandal that is, Benghazi.

      In the meantime, anyone who opposes U.S. Empire is shit-out-of-luck when it comes to presidential elections and the two major parties. Here, we should commend Gary Johnson and Jill Stein for remaining principled in their views surrounding foreign policy, militarism, torture and surveillance. They’re the last of a dying breed.

    • A decade of the Gülen Movement on WikiLeaks: More than meets the eye

      The Gülen Movement, which has been labeled a shadowy organization for constructing parallel societies in various countries, was increasingly a topic in WikiLeaks documents. Diplomatic cables regarding the movement soared in the years between 2003 and 2013 as well as questions and concerns about the movement due to its ambiguous intentions

    • Meaningless Words: Terrorism, Mental Health and the London Knife Attack

      The dosage of such reassurance has been increased by feeding the public the knowledge that a special team will operating to combat the next ISIS-inspired rampage. The Daily Mail does its bit to fan the enthusiasm about the Hollywood styled “C-Men”, those “600 awesomely armed (and masked) Counter-Terrorism firearms officers who hit the streets today in vans, boats and motorbikes.”

      None of this is reassuring on two grounds, the first being the forecast by Met Commissioner Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe that an attack was not a question of if but when. Having given ballast to the prospect of a decent protective barrier, he had to also express a view that it might not work. Expertise can always be found wanting.

      The second relates to the frequency of knife attacks as a general point, which has been somehow muddled in the poorly made pie of confusion. Knifing incidents in London remain a serious and growing problem. Epidemic it may well be, but terrorism?

      The less than rosy statistics suggest that knife attacks in England and Wales over 2015 increased by nine per cent, much of it assisted by an increase of dark web sales and types of weapons awash in youth circles. In September 2015, the Met Police claimed that knife crime in London had risen by 18 percent, with 10 youngsters being stabbed to death in the nine months prior.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • Climate Change Could Release Cold War-Era Radioactive Waste In Greenland

      Global warming could release radioactive waste stored in an abandoned Cold War-era U.S. military camp deep under Greenland’s ice caps if a thaw continues to spread in coming decades, scientists said on Friday.

      Camp Century was built in northwest Greenland in 1959 as part of U.S. research into the feasibility of nuclear missile launch sites in the Arctic, the University of Zurich said in a statement.

      Staff left gallons of fuel and an unknown amount of low-level radioactive coolant there when the base shut down in 1967 on the assumption it would be entombed forever, according to the university.

      It is all currently about 35 meters (114.83 ft) down. But the part of the ice sheet covering the camp could start to melt by the end of the century on current trends, the scientists added.

      “Climate change could remobilize the abandoned hazardous waste believed to be buried forever beneath the Greenland ice sheet,” the university said of findings published this week in the journal Geophysical Research Letters.

    • Households could get fracking payments under government plans

      Residents affected by fracking could be paid some of the proceeds of shale gas projects, the government has suggested.

      A shale wealth fund was unveiled in 2014 to set aside up to 10% of the tax proceeds from fracking to benefit communities in the UK hosting wells.

      The PM is now considering paying the money directly to individual households instead of councils and local trusts.

      But green campaigners say fracking carries environmental risks and people would not accept “bribes”.

      The government’s plan is one option due to be outlined in a consultation on Monday.

    • Wyoming’s ‘Clean Coal’ Plans Stir False Hopes

      It’s no secret that the U.S. coal industry’s hopes of revival by exporting its product to Asia via West Coast ports—what Platts has called an “export or die” strategy—have been dashed by the structural decline in global coal markets.

    • Kochs’ Ground Game in Election Will Support Trump No Matter What

      Every time Charles Koch indicates his distaste for Republican presidential nominee Donald J. Trump, media types run with a story that says Trump will receive no help from the vast network of non-profits and political donors overseen by Koch and his brother, David.

  • Finance

    • Fighting the politics of confusion

      The lead up to and aftermath of the Brexit vote was and is extremely concerning for multiple reasons, but one in particular has gone unnoticed. When Michael Gove, being interviewed by Faisal Islam, said that “people in this country have had enough of experts”, the first response was to laugh. It turns out, however, that he was right. And that’s terrifying.

      While it’s easy to argue that the IMF, World Bank, Bank of England, ECB, industry leaders and corporate heads who pleaded for a Remain vote merely represent an array of vested interests, that academics, charities, social activists, artists, and independent economists who were also overwhelmingly lined up against Leave shows that the weight of the ‘objective’ Brexit debate fell on the side of the Remain camp. That voters rejected these opinions signals more than a protesting frustration at political elitism or a so-called cosmopolitan condescension: it signals the first major British legitimisation of a dangerous anti-intellectualism.

    • The Critical Link Between Poverty and Health

      Concern for the health of the poor is one of the critical issues in development. Poverty cannot be defined solely in terms of low or no income. Lack of access to health services, safe water, adequate nutrition, and education are also essential components of poverty. Poverty and health are closely linked. Poverty is one of the most influential factors in ill health, and ill health can lead to poverty.

      Poverty drains family savings. In addition, poor people are more exposed to several risks (poor sanitation, unhealthy food, violence, drug abuse and natural disasters) and less prepared to cope with them.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Will the ‘Berniecrats’ Help Progressives Take Power in November?

      At the Green Party national convention in Houston, Green Party candidate for senate Arn Menconi says he choose not to work within the Democratic party because of its record in enabling corporate power and disastrous foreign policy

    • Injecting Radical Politics into the Machinery: Ajamu Baraka

      “It’s imperative that we understand the protracted nature of radical change in the most complex, bourgeois society on this planet,” Ajamu Baraka told teleSUR.

      Joining presidential nominee Jill Stein’s at the top of the Green Party’s ticket, the revolutionary activist, organizer and writer Ajamu Baraka has far larger ambitions that merely winning the White House. What Baraka wants, he says, is nothing less than a reimagining of US democracy.

      “People are beginning to understand they have been trapped in the dead-end politics of this fear-mongering,” Baraka said in an interview with teleSUR, “which every four years reduces the political choice to the lesser of two evils.”

    • Intellectualism Stymies Debate and Objective Ideation

      After the mis-prioritization of values and poor argumentation comes the dreaded observer effect where intellectuals worry how they will be perceived and liked as a result of their findings. They are acutely aware that the messenger is often shot and so begins the even-handed attempt to feign pragmatic conclusions to appear reasonable and avoid being pegged a radical, doom and gloomer, or utopian – What is left is milquetoast conclusions that talk big ideas on the outset and deliver the same results. And it is the capitulation towards desired popular acceptance that is the most damning part of intellectual commentary. The inauthenticity of it all leads to conclusions that are band aids while the populace fails to understand the systemic problems enough to reach the right conclusions on their own.

      All this work done by the tenured and the credentialed to give that glossy polished feel to intellectual work telling us what we already know – We are broken. It’s no surprise we have cultivated a society that when presented with a new thought will quickly run to safety picking up their armaments labeled credentials, stats, and tradition so that they may light the sky ablaze in hellfire to down any foreign aircraft in their conformist skies. We have learned what real intellectual helplessness feels like, and we have accepted its confines.

    • Report: Shawn Lucas, Man Who Served DNC with Lawsuit, Found Dead

      This week, rumors that Shawn Lucas, a Bernie Sanders supporter shown in a viral YouTube video serving the Democratic National Committee (DNC) with a lawsuit over the organization’s favoring of Hillary Clinton over Bernie Sanders, has died, according to a report.

      According to Snopes, who spoke to the Washington D.C. Metro Police, Lucas died earlier in August of unknown causes.

      Lucas’ death was “classified as a Death Report, pending the results of an autopsy,” police told the hoax-debunking website. Meanwhile, GoFundMe page was set up for Lucas’ funeral expenses.

      On Reddit and elsewhere, there were rumors he died. Since then, there has been rampant speculation on Twitter about his cause of death, including murder.

    • The New Arrangement on the Game Board of U.S. Politics
    • Trump, the Bad, Bad Businessman

      The greatest scoop of my journalism career started at a poker table with a tip from an agitated banker.

      It was a Thursday night in late May 1990. I was a 32-year-old Wall Street Journal reporter who had written dozens of articles about Donald J. Trump’s business affairs. I was closing in on the biggest one of all — Mr. Trump was on the brink of financial ruin. He was quietly trying to unload his assets. His Atlantic City casinos were underperforming, and prices for his casino bonds were plummeting, suggesting that he would have trouble making interest payments.

      “Donald Trump is driving 100 miles per hour toward a brick wall, and he has no brakes,” the banker told me. “He is meeting with all the banks right now.”

      The next day, I called sources at the four banks I knew had large Trump exposures. The first three calls yielded “no comment,” but the fourth hit pay dirt, and I was invited to visit the bank late that afternoon.

      Behind a large mahogany desk sat the bank’s chief lending officer. He explained that all of the banks would have to agree to a huge restructuring of Mr. Trump’s loans or Mr. Trump would have to declare personal bankruptcy. Unknown to the banks when each had lent him money, Mr. Trump ended up personally guaranteeing a staggering $830 million of loans, which was reckless of him, but even more so for the banks.

      In a front-page Wall Street Journal article on June 4, 1990, I wrote: “Donald J. Trump’s cash shortage has become critical. The developer is now in intense negotiations with his main bank creditors that could force him to give up big chunks of his empire.” One banker said, “He will have to trim the fat; get rid of the boat, the mansions, the helicopter.”

      Amid all the self-made myths about Donald Trump, none is more fantastic than Trump the moneymaker, the New York tycoon who has enjoyed a remarkably successful business career. In reality, Mr. Trump was a walking disaster as a businessman for much of his life. This is not just my opinion. Warren Buffett said as much this past week.

    • The NYT’s Out-of-Control Bias

      The New York Times has shown a blatant bias against Russia and Vladimir Putin for years but it is now merging that animus with its contempt for Donald Trump, a stunningly unprofessional performance, notes John V. Walsh.

    • Platform and Politics: The Change We Made

      As a reflection of the state of play of American politics, we should see this platform not a defeat but an acknowledgment that there has been a change. Change we made possible. We were able to impact the debate. In some instances, we were able to win changes in the platform and, even when we were not, we were able to force debate on critical issues of concern. That is why I was proud to be a part to be a part of the Sanders campaign and why I endorse his call to continue our forward march. We must remain a part of the progressive coalition working with our allies to elect Hillary Clinton, defeat Donald Trump, continue to transform the Democratic Party, and keep progressive ideas in the mainstream, and not on the fringes of American politics. Within this coalition we can continue to fight for progress. Outside of it, we run the risk of marginalizing ourselves and our issues.

    • Revoke Jewish National Fund of Canada’s Charitable Status

      Imagine during Jim Crow a Canadian political party polled its members about pressing Ottawa to stop subsidizing US racism only to be smeared by an organization driving the discrimination. But, instead of relishing the attacks, party leaders sought to placate the racist group by inviting them to address their convention, which the said organization refused, claiming… discrimination.

      This hard to fathom scenario mirrors the Jewish National Fund of Canada/Green Party scrimmage since members put forward a resolution calling for the Canada Revenue Agency to revoke the JNF’s charitable status because it practices “institutional discrimination against non-Jewish citizens of Israel.” In the first round of a multipronged voting process, 62% of party members green lighted the JNF resolution, 24% yellow lighted it and 15% red lighted it. (A similar number green lighted a concurrent Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions resolution.)

    • Responding To Post Truth Politics
    • Jill Stein Wins Green Party Nomination, Courting Disaffected Sanders Supporters

      The Green Party officially nominated Jill Stein for president and human rights activist Ajamu Baraka as her running mate on Saturday, at a convention in Houston that attracted many disaffected Bernie Sanders supporters.

      Much of the three-day gathering was an explicit appeal to former backers of the Vermont senator to join their fold, and several speakers argued that Sanders had been treated unfairly by the Democratic Party.

      “I want to thank Bernie Sanders supporters who refused to let the political revolution die,” Stein said in her acceptance speech. “We have a tremendous opportunity before us. The American people are longing for a change. They are ready to do something different, and we have to be the vehicle for that difference.”

    • Jill Stein’s Radical Funding Solution

      Bernie Sanders supporters are flocking to Jill Stein, the presumptive Green Party presidential candidate, with donations to her campaign exploding nearly 1000% after he endorsed Hillary Clinton. Stein salutes Sanders for the progressive populist movement he began and says it is up to her to carry the baton. Can she do it? Critics say her radical policies will not hold up to scrutiny. But supporters say they are just the medicine the economy needs.

      Stein goes even further than Sanders on several key issues, and one of them is her economic platform. She has proposed a “Power to the People Plan” that guarantees basic economic human rights, including access to food, water, housing, and utilities; living-wage jobs for every American who needs to work; an improved “Medicare for All” single-payer public health insurance program; tuition-free public education through university level; and the abolition of student debt. She also supports the reinstatement of Glass-Steagall, separating depository banking from speculative investment banking; the breakup of megabanks into smaller banks; federal postal banks to service the unbanked and under-banked; and the formation of publicly-owned banks at the state and local level.

    • As Nominee, Stein Says She Wants to Assume Mantle of Sanders’ Revolution

      The Green Party convention in Houston, Texas reached its climax late Saturday with presidential nominee Jill Stein calling on the American left to turn its back on the “two corporate parties” and “vote for our deeply held beliefs.”

      Vying for the support of those who previously backed former Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders, Stein championed her vision of “an America and a world…that puts people, planet, and peace over profit.”

      During her acceptance speech, Stein said she was excited “to be running in alliance with the Bernie Sanders movement that lives on outside the Democratic Party.”

      “We owe you such a debt of gratitude, for getting the revolution going. And then for refusing to be shut down,” she said, prompting chants of “Jill not Hill!” from the crowd.

    • The history of the voting rights struggle is still being written

      For African Americans, the struggle to be recognized as human and to assert their rights as such has been a long-fought battle. When the Reconstruction Amendments to the U.S. Constitution were adopted between 1865 and 1870, freeing enslaved Blacks and making them citizens, Blacks were officially humanized in a way that they had not been for hundreds of years in America.

      Indeed, while other amendments would effectively grant groups the right to vote — women by the 19th Amendment, and 18- to 20-year-olds by the 26th — no other amendment enfranchised citizens quite like the 14th Amendment granting citizenship rights to former slaves, or the 15th Amendment giving Black men the right to vote. That’s because no other amendment covered a people who had previously been deemed subhuman and enslaved.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • My 10 Years of Trouble With Tayyip Erdoğan

      It’s amazing to think that it’s ten years since I was arrested and charged with ‘insulting the dignity’ of the President of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. He was a mere Prime Minister back then in 2006, and I an English teacher at a private university in Istanbul, where I had been living for 20 years. Despite my antipathy to the state religion, nationalism, censorship, miltary conscription, insult laws, and the headscarf, I kept quiet and got along fine.

    • When censorship goes mad – 16 amazing TV edits of movie obscenities

      Hundreds of people have been shot and that little girl is doing something with the crucifix that she’ll definitely regret, but God forbid that someone should utter a rude word.

      Television has been “thinking of the children” for decades and sanitising – or Bowdlerising – movies for decades, but we’ve got to take our hats off to them and admit that they can get impressively creative at times. Here are our favourite dementedly weird edits.

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Department of Justice Official Tells Hundred Federal Judges to Use Tor

      The US government has a complicated relationship with Tor. While the US is the biggest funder of the non-profit that maintains the software, law enforcement bodies such as the FBI are exploiting Tor browser vulnerabilities on a huge scale to identify criminal suspects.

      To add to that messy, nuanced mix, one Department of Justice official recently personally recommended Tor to a room of over a hundred federal judges.

      Ovie Carroll, director for the Cybercrime Lab at the Department of Justice, urged the judges to “use the TOR [sic] network to protect their personal information on their computers, like work or home computers, against data breaches, and the like,” Judge Robert J. Bryan said in July, according to a hearing transcript released on Friday.

      “I was surprised to hear him urge the federal judges present,” Bryan said. Bryan was talking during a hearing on two motions to withdraw guilty pleas in the FBI’s recent mass hacking campaign. In February 2015, the FBI took over a dark web child pornography site called Playpen, and deployed malware in an attempt to identify the site’s visitors. Bryan has resided over several resulting cases from that investigation.

    • How America Rising Ties the GOP Establishment to the Stalkers Harassing Bill McKibben and Tom Steyer

      For the past few months, when they dare venture out to the supermarket, to church, or to a climate rally, Bill McKibben, Tom Steyer, and other climate activists are being stalked by a team of GOP-trained camera operators. The so-called “trackers” with the cameras are working for a group called America Rising Squared (aka America Rising Advanced Research or AR2), and publishing the occasional “embarrassing” display of alleged hypocrisy on a website called CoreNews.org.

      DeSmog first covered this new “creepy” campaign back in May, and since then, the harrassment has only gotten worse, as Bill McKibben writes in Sunday’s New York Times. In his op-ed, “My Right Wing Stalkers” (the web headline is: “Embarrassing Photos of Me, Thanks to My Right-Wing Stalkers”), McKibben describes what it’s like to live under surveillance, and the psychological toll that it takes on him and his family. (One particularly infuriating detail: McKibben’s daughter believes that she, too, is being filmed in public.)

    • FBI Chief Calls for National Talk Over Encryption vs. Safety [Ed: It should be not “Encryption vs. Safety” but “Encryption FOR Safety”. Good luck doing any financial transactions without encryption…]

      The FBI’s director says the agency is collecting data that he will present next year in hopes of sparking a national conversation about law enforcement’s increasing inability to access encrypted electronic devices.

      Speaking on Friday at the American Bar Association conference in San Francisco, James Comey says the agency was unable to access 650 of 5,000 electronic devices investigators attempted to search over the last 10 months.

    • The Internet of Dildos Is Watching You

      As increasingly banal devices come online as the latest additions to the internet of things, it was inevitable that sex toys would get added into the mix. Known as teledildonics, the realm of internet connected sex toys has been heralded as the future of sex for years now, and as with all internet connected devices, these toys are liable to get hacked.

      The legal and ethical risks posed by the internet of dildos was the subject of a presentation by two hackers from New Zealand at DEF CON on Friday, but they were less concerned with third party dildo exploits than the manufacturer settings that come built into the devices.

      “When we started out with this research, we were wondering about the potential exploits and vulnerabilities that a third party hacker could take advantage of,” said one of the presenters, who goes by the name of follower. “But when we looked more closely, it actually turns out that you might be more concerned about what the manufacturer is doing [with your dildo data].”

      Along with his colleague goldfisk, follower reversed engineered the We-Vibe 4 Plus, one of the most popular internet connected dildos on the market. What the duo found was surprising: not only was the device streaming temperature data back to the manufacturer once a minute, but it was also streaming the intensity settings of the device in real time.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Americans Don’t Care About Prison Phone Exploitation, Says FCC Official

      Most Americans don’t care about the exorbitant phone charges that the nation’s 2.2 million prison inmates and their families are forced to endure just to stay in touch, a top federal communications regulator said Thursday.

      Inmates in federal and state prisons across the country are forced to pay outrageously high costs for simply making phone calls to their loved ones, which is why the Federal Communications Commission has been trying to ease their financial burden.

      Criminal justice reform advocates have been working to convince the federal government to crack down on exploitative prison phone practices for years, but the issue still receives too little notice on the national stage, according to FCC Commissioner Mignon Clyburn, who issued a scathing call to conscience during the agency’s monthly meeting on Thursday.

    • The Xbox One S Still Uses Microsoft’s Illegal Warranty-Void-if-Removed Sticker

      The Xbox One S, Microsoft’s new, sleeker version of the Xbox One has one of the same problems as the original version: It has a tamper-resistant sticker on it designed to alert Microsoft if an owner has opened up the console. And just like with the original Xbox One, Microsoft uses this sticker to void warranties, a practice that is against federal law.

      As I reported in June, electronics manufacturers who void warranties for the mere act of opening a machine are violating the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act of 1975, which forbids manufacturers from forcing consumers to use certain parts or authorized repair professionals in order to maintain the warranty.

      Microsoft’s Xbox One warranty states that it “does not apply” if the Xbox is “opened, modified, or tampered with,” or is “repaired by anyone other than Microsoft.” As seen in an iFixit teardown of the Xbox One S, Microsoft placed a sticker on the back of the console above a clip that holds two pieces of the machine together. The sticker must be removed to open the console.

    • How Mosques in J&K are used to spread hatred against India

      The public address systems of Mosques have been used time and again to raise anti India slogans in Jammu and Kashmir. Poems eulogizing, slain terrorist, Burhan Wani are also played out on several public address systems of Mosques. Going by the response filed by the Union Government in the Supreme Court, it becomes clear that the Mosques are clearly used in the state of J&K to spew venom and chant anti India slogans.

      In the Supreme Court of India, the union government had filed a detailed response to the existing situation in J&K. In its reply filed through solicitor general, Ranjit Kumar, it is stated, ” inimical and anti social elements exploited the news of Wani’s death on the social media to inflame passions. Public address systems of some local Mosques were used to raise pro-freedom slogans and incite the youth to indulge in stone pelting,” the reply also read.

    • If You Don’t Feel “Safe” Studying In A University Library Because There Are Men In It…

      So, feminists are aghast at male-only golf clubs — discrimination! — but see no problem with women-only study lounges.

      So, feminism isn’t about equal treatment for all, but special treatment for women, under the guise of wanting equal treatment.

      Got it.

      Does anyone think this constant demand for women to be treated as fragile flowers might make people think they should hire a man, rather than one of these wilting lilies who surely can’t manage to be around male co-workers without suffering a mental health crisis?

    • Watchdog: Dallas woman discovers new Secret Service sex scandals through public information requests

      “A lot of people think I’m nuts to pursue this.”

      The speaker is a self-described Dallas stay-at-home mom who spent $100,000 in legal fees to expose a culture of corruption in the U.S. Secret Service.

      She filed 89 Freedom of Information Acts (89!) and discovered enough Secret Service scandals and cover-ups that even Bob Woodward would be impressed.

      For this, she got very little public attention. Until now.

      Meet Malia Litman. A retired lawyer and wife of noted Internet entrepreneur David Litman, founder of hotels.com and now CEO of getaroom.com.

      She sits at her table in her North Dallas mansion during The Watchdog team visit.

      Hors d’oeuvres were set out before we arrive — something my colleague Marina Trahan Martinez and I are not used to — cucumber slices, cookies, carrots, celery, hummus and pita bread. Her story is so riveting, we don’t touch the food.

      When the first Secret Service sex scandals broke a few years ago, she grew curious. A former senior partner at Thompson & Knight law firm in Dallas, she knew that federal law allows us to see government documents.

    • We must stop suicide attempts among young Latinas

      A youth survey recently released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that when it comes to rates of teenage suicide attempts, young Latinas continue to outpace girls and boys of other ethnic or racial groups in the U.S.

      Nearly 10 years ago, news stories told of this mostly overlooked national phenomenon among a misunderstood and endangered group but one of the fastest-growing segments of the American population.

      Major city newspaper editorials called for more than research. They called for action.

      We need action now more than ever. But more than that, we need sustained action.

    • The exclusion games: Rio’s human rights deficit on the eve of the Olympics

      I arrived in Rio de Janeiro from my hometown in northern Brazil exactly one month before the opening ceremony of the 2016 Summer Olympic Games, to help film a campaign about human rights defenders (HRDs) for Front Line Defenders. As I left the airport, welcome signs to the Olympics on a solid plastic wall effectively hid the poverty at the entrance to the city. This was my introduction to the efforts of the government to hide Rio’s problems from international tourists, athletes, and journalists visiting us this month.

    • At Freedom Square, the Revolution Lives in Brave Relationships

      Chicago — Today is Day 17 of occupying Freedom Square, a block party protest in opposition to Homan Square, the Chicago Police Department (CPD) “black site” that is internationally infamous for illegal detention and torture. Set up in a lot adjacent to the Homan Square facility in the North Lawndale neighborhood on Chicago’s West Side, the encampment includes an outdoor kitchen, tents to sleep in, a library, play areas, political education and organizing spaces and more.

      On Day 9 of the occupation, the campsite — supplied and staffed entirely by donations and volunteers — experienced its first violent conflict. After a beautiful day including free bike repair workshops and craft projects, free food for the community, and ongoing political engagement, the occupation site devolved into chaos when adults intervened in a disagreement between kids about sharing bikes. Folks felt disrespected, and misunderstandings and continued transgressions raised tensions, even as Freedom Square organizers made their best efforts to de-escalate the situation. One woman emerged from the fight with a black eye, and several others nursed scrapes and bruises once the scuffle was finally calmed. Freedom Square’s medic bandaged folks up in the First Aid tent as I began to gather the 30 or so people at the camp into a circle to debrief about the conflict. We shared collective space with each other, discussing the harms that had occurred within our community. We talked through accountability steps (steps that could be taken to address those harms). Nobody called the police.

    • Black millennials are challenging everyone to “miss them”

      “Miss Me With Your Equality” titles Arielle Newton’s striking response to the US Supreme Court’s landmark 2013 decision in Shelby County v Holder. Justices in the case split 5-4 to strike down core provisions of the 1965 Voting Rights Act that required certain states to obtain advance federal approval for any changes to their election laws. At the time many, including president Obama, expressed disappointment that this effectively opened the door for states to enact laws that could indirectly disenfranchise black voters. But Newton’s was a different voice with a stronger message.

    • The rise of American fascism — and what humour can do to stop it

      In a short satirical essay ‘A Presidential Candidate’ published in 1879, Mark Twain concludes his litany of transgressions in a pitch for votes by stating, “but I recommend myself as a safe man — a man who starts from the basis of total depravity and proposes to be fiendish to the last.”

      Reading Twain’s essay while immersed in the current political climate in the US, two things leap out. First, the national obsession with personal scandal makes Twain’s essay all the more comic from start to finish. Second, it practically yanks the reader into nostalgic reflection for a time when satire was, well, satire.

      The bright side of the modern political circumstance is the funny part – for the past two decades the cultural landscape has experienced a comedic infusion into public discourse on a scale quite possibly unmatched in US history. We may in fact be living in a golden age of American humour. Like it or not the engagement of contemporary humourists in political and social dialogue has become central to the national conversation on essentially every policy matter of import.

    • Jill Stein: ‘No question’ Julian Assange is a hero

      Green Party presidential nominee Jill Stein hailed Julian Assange as a hero Saturday, saying the WikiLeaks founder’s disclosure of Democratic National Committee emails exposed the American electorate to important information.

      Stein’s comments to CNN were made shortly before she was named the progressive party’s official 2016 presidential nominee, with human rights activist Ajamu Baraka tapped as her running mate.

      “Any time that we have efforts to bring information to the American people, to the world, is something worth supporting,” Baraka said in a separate interview with CNN.

      Last month, WikiLeaks released nearly 20,000 emails that appeared to show the committee favoring presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton over progressive challenger Bernie Sanders — an admired figure among many Green Party supporters — during the primary season. The disclosure led to the resignation of DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz and the ouster of several top DNC officials.

    • Why allies are welcome to criticise social movements

      Some months later I’m attending a book launch about Jeremy Corbyn and leftist politics in Britain. The panel this time consists of two men—the author of the book and a journalist. The author presents a brilliant and insightful analysis, but when the journalist asks him a difficult question about whether urban graduate leftist activists can know what the working class of Britain wants or thinks, he does something that really makes me cringe: he pulls class on the journalist.

      Instead of acknowledging the difficulty of the question he replies something to the effect of ‘oh yeah, but I’m from a really working class background so who are you, as a toff who went to private school, to question me about the working class?’

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • Tired of Waiting for Corporate High-Speed Internet, Minnesota Farm Towns Build Their Own

      Seven years ago, Winthrop, Minnesota, population 1,400, decided it needed an internet upgrade.

      Most local residents were served by companies like Mediacom, which Consumer Reports consistently ranked among the country’s worst internet providers. Slow connection speeds made work difficult in local schools and businesses, but farmers outside of town, who increasingly rely on connectivity to do business, experienced the worst of it.

      Fourteen miles from Winthrop, in Moltke Township, population 330, one soybean- and wheat-farming family reported its sluggish DSL connection often made it impossible to upload reports to business partners.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Copyrights

      • As 3D printers break through, EU expands copyright to furniture and extends term by a century

        The UK has just changed its copyright-and-patent monopoly law to extend copyright to furniture and to extend the term of that copyright on furniture with about a century. This follows a decision in the European Union, where member states are required to adhere to such an order. This change means that people will be prohibited from using 3D printing and other maker technologies to manufacture such objects, and that for a full century.

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