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The End of an Era at the USPTO as Battistelli-Like (EPO) Granting Policies Are Over

Posted in America, Europe, Patents at 10:54 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

No more patent maximalism because US courts are tossing out a large proportion of granted patents (as do courts in Europe)

CCIA Cartoon: GAO report
Credit: Matt Levy/CCIA

Summary: The United States is seeing the potency of patents — especially software patents (which make up much of the country’s troll cases) — challenged by courts and by the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB)

PATENTS (as originally conceived and foreseen) are not inherently evil, but if patents become applicable to everything under the Sun, then they serve no purpose other than to limit virtually every human activity, sometimes even natural activity (like patents on seeds, which increasingly limit reproduction).

Techrights opposes software patents because the discipline of software development cannot coexist with software patents. Just ask programmers about it. One programmer, Florian Müller, sent me a link this morning to an article I first saw last night. In it, Fenwick & West (which we cite a lot in relation to Alice) is claimed to have said 370 software patents have been invalidated by US courts (there’s much more of that in PTAB as well) after Alice. Here are the key parts:

Two years ago, when the U.S. Supreme Court invalidated Alice Corp.’s handful of patents on the concept of an electronic escrow arrangement, it ruled that taking abstract ideas—apparently including established methods of doing business like escrow—and implementing them on a computer doesn’t meet the standard of intellectual property. In its unanimous decision, written by Justice Clarence Thomas, the high court refused to precisely define what makes something an “abstract idea.” “We tread carefully,” Thomas wrote of the new standard for patents. Since then, however, lower courts, and the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, have been using some pretty heavy boots.

Courts have invalidated more than 370 software patents under the new standard, according to data compiled by law firm Fenwick & West. District and appellate courts have thrown out two of three patents brought before them since Alice Corp. v. CLS Bank.

This means that there’s far lower an incentive to even bother suing with a software patent (or patents), never mind apply for one.

There have been lots of articles about Apple patents this week, mostly because of “iWatch”. Some articles mentioned software patents explicitly in that context. To give just one example, this new article states that “this latest [Apple] patent is more software orientated” and as longtime readers probably know, Apple has been using software patents against Linux since 2010 (in the courtroom; deterrence against Palm’s Linux-based operating system, using patents, predates that).

The good news is that reprieve is on the way and a lot of software patents are on their way out. The other day someone came to our main IRC channel and said, “the uspto is trying to stop my patent prosecution [...] I dont know what to do… who can help me? [...] i have a software patent that the uspto is trying to stop” (suffice to say, the USPTO has been the most pro-software patents among courts, boards and other ‘compartments’ in this profit-driven system).

The above story is not unusual. We have been hearing such stories for a while, but this one is a firsthand account. Here is a new very long rant from SightSound. “We’re the guys who invented the download music store, showed it all to Steve, and got rolled by Apple,” says the summary. Notice the use of the term “Death Squad for Patents” in the headline. “Death Squad” is a term popularised by the patent microcosm, which equates quality control/patent assessment with execution. It’s quite revealing, isn’t it? It’s rather likely that just as companies that sue Apple with software patents lose their case/s, so will Apple. Software patents are a dying breed. It’s easy to just file a patent lawsuit; winning one is another matter altogether, especially in this software patents-hostile atmosphere. That’s why the number of patent lawsuits fell sharply, based on firms that watch these figures closely.

Reaching out to the ITC (embargo using patents, even before the facts are known!), ResMed has just initiated “lawsuits in Germany and New Zealand, and to the US International Trade Commission against Fisher & Paykel Healthcare” [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6]. This particular case is not about software but about a device. Suffice to say, Germany does not (formally) have software patents altough in practice it’s most friendly towards them in Europe. As for New Zealand, it’s the latest battleground on this matter, probably along with India where this matter seems to be settled.

§ 101 in the US threatens to eliminate software patents in what is probably their last remaining home. Fish & Richardson PC has published this new analysis about the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC), in which it says:

Patents that employ functional claiming even without using the words “means” will likely encounter greater scrutiny in the courts in light of this growing line of cases. That scrutiny is becoming more prominent under Section 112 jurisprudence, but is also apparent in the growing body Section 101 case law. The Court commented in the recentElectric Power Group, LLC v. Alstom S.A., No. 2015-1778 (Fed. Cir. Aug. 1, 2016) decision, in affirming a finding that a software patent is ineligible under § 101:

The district court phrased its point only by reference to claims so result-focused, so functional, as to effectively cover any solution to an identified problem…. Indeed, the essentially result-focused, functional character of claim language has been a frequent feature of claims held ineligible under § 101, especially in the area of using generic computer and network technology to carry out economic transactions.

Let’s face it, § 101 has changed everything. Matt Levy’s latest cartoon shows that he too now realises that patent scope, not just patent trolls, is a problem. In fact, patent trolls are often a symptom (or residue or side-effect) of patent scope gone awry, not to mention Texas courts openly bragging about pro-plaintiff bias. The cartoon from Levy is very much applicable to the EPO under Battistelli as well. Under pressure to grant patents all the time (the more, the merrier) they spoiled the whole system. “The GAO recently did a study on patent quality,” Levy explains. “It found that part of the reason so many patents are low quality is the pressures patent examiners are under to allow more patents.”

We already wrote about this study and explained how it relates to the EPO.

IP Watch has just published this guest post in which it’s suggested that number of unique patent assertions (e.g. lawsuits) is declining. AIA is cited as a possible cause. To quote:

Since AIA became effective in September of 2012, numerous studies have suggested the rise of patent litigation. While some surmised the post AIA joinder rule is causing the rise, many studies simply relied on just the number of cases filed per year to draw a conclusion about rising litigation.

We decided to take an additional step and look at another metric that may give us a better sense of the litigation landscape: the number of unique patent assertions per year. Essentially, this metric tells us how many unique patents are believed (by their owners) to be infringed in the US market.

As we know, after AIA, a single patent may now be asserted more than 100 times (e.g., Shipping and Transit LLC has filed more than 150 cases against many companies which, in most cases, only a single patent asserted (US7,400,970)). In our study, we counted this or similar cases once, because only a single patent was involved. As you can see in the above chart, the number of unique patents has been declining over the years.

2015 saw the highest number of filings. However, in terms of unique patents asserted, 2015 actually represented the lowest level since 2010. The number of unique patents asserted in 2015 had declined more than 23% from 2010.

It seems likely that AIA, together with PTAB that it brought, reduced confidence in all sorts of ludicrous software patents. The patent microcosm is obviously in denial about it, but the figures speak for themselves. here is Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan LLP piggybacking or cherry-picking Enfish to pretend software patents are in tact (the tiring old spin). To quote their so-called ‘analysis’ (shameless self-promotion): “As two recent decisions from the Federal Circuit demonstrate, the law on patent-eligible subject matter, 35 U.S.C. § 101, remains largely unsettled. These decisions, Enfish and TLI Communications, represent some of the Federal Circuit’s most recent attempts to grapple with the appropriate application of § 101. Although these decisions are both software patent cases, they speak to issues that affect § 101 jurisprudence across a wide range of technologies, from software to diagnostic procedures to molecular biology protocols. In particular, Enfish and TLI Communications embody the recent judicial tendency to collapse the § 101 inquiry into the novelty inquiry under 35 U.S.C. §§ 102 and 103.”

But those are just two decisions among hundreds of others ruled in the opposite way. As we noted earlier this week, PTAB’s influence on CAFC (or vice versa) causes a certain panic in the patent microcosm. “For its part in the case,” wrote Patently-O about one case, “the Federal Circuit affirmed the PTAB determination without opinion” (there’s not much to argue about). “The patents at issue in the case are U.S. Patent No. 6,315,921 and U.S. Patent No. 6,395,195. They relate to an oxygen absorber used in meat packaging.”

PTAB is dealing not only with software patents, but when it deals with software patents they have very slim chance of survival because of § 101/Alice. Here is Patently-O remarking on PTAB again while citing Halo [1, 2]. To quote: “The Third Edition ads substantial coverage of managing litigation to deal with parallel proceedings at the PTAB, pleading standards, patentable subject matter, claim construction, enhanced damages following Halo, and reasonable royalty disputes. The treatise also covers recent developments in ANDA and biologics litigation, design and plant patent litigation, and litigation at the Federal Court of Claims. The appendices provide case management checklists and exemplars of patent management filings.”

MIP has also just mentioned Halo, noting that the “Federal Circuit and district court rulings since the Supreme Court’s Halo decision have made it clear a jury finding alone is enough for a judgment of willfulness. But an enhanced damages determination should ultimately be made by the judge weighing factors yet to be clarified.”

This case mostly impacts patent trolls that want to hop from one company to another and hoard money by shakedown. The following situation, as mentioned before by Patently-O, deals with scope of patents and how they’re self-limiting or self-invalidating (if the specified scope is too broad). It’s another case of patents that should not have been granted in the first place or are far too narrow to be useful. To quote the National Law Review: “This decision is an important reminder of the care that should be taken with all claim language, and indicates that extra caution may be warranted whenever any “consisting of” clause is used. It is not clear whether Multilayer could have modified the Markush clause with open-ended language, such as by reciting that “the inner layers comprise a resin selected from the group consisting of ….” Some examiners raise indefiniteness rejections when a claim uses both “comprising” and “consisting of ” language, but not all combinations of such “open” and “closed” language are improper.”

What this basically says is that you cannot get a patent to cover everything under the Sun or claim in an ad hoc fashion that it magically covers unspecified claims. Any patent system which places no restrictions on scope would be self-deprecating. To give two more examples of cases covered by Patently-O, in one case there was “key prior art in the obviousness case [...] Chinese patent publication that discloses minocycline…”

In another case the lawsuit got thrown out because the plaintiffs “waited a year to serve the motion. Courts hold that the motion should be served as soon as practicable. As a result, the court held the motion was properly denied as having been served in an untimely fashion.”

“Frivolous” is the word Patently-O uses to describe this lawsuit; another way might be SLAPP, as the intention is to discourage some activity, later (a year later) to be followed by a surprise motion. What is this, Mafia tactics?

Battistelli’s European Patent Office Goes to the United States to Speak About the UPC and Software Patents

Posted in Europe, Patents at 7:12 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Pretending he’s not seeing the basis and rules of the Office?

Battistelli eyes shut

Summary: The European Patent Office is showing its utter contempt — not just disregard — for the very fundamental rules that put it in its place and brought it into existence

IT IS no secret (not anymore, but it was supposed to be a secret) that the Battistelli regime, having an unscrupulous party with EPO budget, pays over a million Euros per year to a US-based PR firm (notorious for its fracking lobby here and elsewhere in the world). They are silencing if not brainwashing journalists (even pushing ‘material’ to them). This PR firm is already funding a pro-UPC event in the US, which is probably an ethical breach for all sorts of reasons. This conscienceless, unprincipled management is a total disaster to what was once a reputable Office.

The EPO has just promoted “think tanks” (basically something like FTI Consulting for fracking and EPO ‘damage control’) and it is in think tank mode (disguised as “seminar”) when using the “ICT” weasel word — a word that we alluded to earlier this week (a vague way to allude to software patents). In this tweet from yesterday the EPO gets even more explicit about it. It wrote: “ICT patents seminar in New York, 14 Sept. Experts discuss Unitary Patent, PCT & software patents. Register Now! http://www.epo.org/learning-events/events/conferences/ictseminar2016.html …”

“”Online Filing users,” as the above puts it, pretty much must be Microsoft customers, i.e. paying clients of some serial abuser from another continent.”The Battistelli-run EPO is still promoting software patents and the UPC. They have no sense of shame and in order to meet notorious goals (demolishing the EPC and patent scope) they’ll even go abroad and do their lobbying behind closed doors (or hugely expensive entrance fees). The EPO promotes the above event every other day or so. There are at least two more such events (with “ICT”) in the pipeline, based on the EPO’s Web site. Another EPO event was mentioned by IP Kat yesterday. To quote: “EPO Online Services Workshops. A series of workshops introducing the new online filing service at the EPO will be held in London on 13-14 September, 18-19 October and 29-30 November. The workshops are aimed primarily at Online Filing users, professional representatives and support staff/records department staff who are familiar with the basic functions of Online Filing. For more information and to register, see here.”

“Online Filing users,” as the above puts it, pretty much must be Microsoft customers, i.e. paying clients of some serial abuser from another continent. The same goes for UPC. That’s a despicable aspect of the EPO which we covered here several times before. It makes the word “European” abundantly farcical in the EPO acronym.

In other news, the EPO’s PR strategy becomes ever more pathetic by the day. More EIA 2017 ‘spam’ (direct messaging that’s repetitive) from the EPO can be seen in the account right now [1, 2, 3, 4], as if broadcasting to all people [1, 2, 3] is not enough for them. How low will these people stoop and when will they realise that the more they do to save face/cover up Battistelli’s behind, the worse things will get? It has culminated in a crisis already and it’s turning into a a full-blown ‘constitutional crisis’ at the EPO — something from which the EPO might never be able to recover (even after Battistelli leaves).

Turkey Subjected to the European Patent Convention (EPC) But Benoît Battistelli is Not?

Posted in Europe, Patents at 6:54 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Symptoms of a severe ‘constitutional crisis’

Erdoğan for EPO
When power-hungry people simply decide that laws and rules don’t apply to them…

Summary: The ‘constitutional crisis’ at the European Patent Office in the context of Turkey, which has signed “the EPC and as such recognises the competence and the decisions of the institutions which have been introduced in the convention.”

THE moral and ethical erosion at the EPO‘s top-level management is very apparent. Using the pretense of “emergency” human rights are suspended and the rules are made up for retaliation purposes as Battistelli goes along and breaks his very own rules. The EPO just ignores the EPC right now.

An article by Selin Sinem Erciyas and Ozge Atilgan Karakulak from Gun & Partners, published a fortnight ago in a lawyers’ site, makes timely comments regarding the Recep Tayyip Erdoğan-run Turkey being part of the EPO/EPC. There are many parallels these days between what Battistelli does and what Erdoğan does, including attacks on reporters. “The European Patent Convention (EPC)”, it says, “is a part of Turkish national domestic law and is enforced in Turkey under Article 90 of the Turkish Constitution. Furthermore, it was formed under international agreement and as a result cannot be claimed as unconstitutional.

“The EPC law can be applied directly in Turkey and therefore it is legally binding. Alongside other member states, Turkey also declared and signed the EPC and as such recognises the competence and the decisions of the institutions which have been introduced in the convention. It is assumed that the member states are not able to declare their commitment for certain bodies of the European Patent Office (EPO), such as decisions only made by the examination division or appeal board. This may seem an unusual statement, however, it should be stressed as it is one of the most important proceedings in Turkey, it has been argued by IP courts that EPO decisions are only binding for Turkey if the decision can be grounded on an explicit provision in the EPC.”

Looking at recent IP Kat comments regarding the detachment from the EPC at the EPO, we find the following:

I am thinking of the relations with the work-rules regulating organs of the host countries (Arbeitsinspectie, Gewerbeaufsicht,…)

Article 18 of the Seat Agreement with the Netherlands makes provision for a Joint Consultative Committee which shall meet “at least once a year”:

(1) A Joint Consultative Committee shall facilitate the implementation of this Agreement and may address other administrative issues through consultations between the relevant authorities of the Kingdom of the Netherlands and the Organisation. It shall meet at least once a year and may convene at any other time at the request of the Government or the Organisation.
(2) The Chairman of the Committee shall be appointed by mutual agreement between the Government and the Organisation.

It actually took a while for this to show up, as explained by the latter two comments:

Article 18 of the Seat Agreement with the Netherlands establishes a Joint Consultative Committee which “shall facilitate the implementation of this Agreement and may address other administrative issues through consultations between the relevant authorities of the Kingdom of the Netherlands and the Organisation.”
The JCC “shall meet at least once a year and may convene at any other time at the request of the Government or the Organisation.”

Ho hum. I keep trying to post a comment about Article 18 of the Seat Agreement with the Netherlands which establishes a Joint Consultative Committee.
But for some reason it doesn’t make it through the IPKat comment filter …

These filters can be truly iffy at times.

In any case, the point made above is that something is absent in this process. The EPO cannot go on like it currently does and congregations of the Administrative Council, which is effectively in Battistelli’s pocket, are no remedy. They are part of the problem after the Audit Committee got destroyed by the Administrative Council at the behest of Battistelli. There is clearly a ‘constitutional crisis’ at the European Patent Office, not just a crisis. The International Labour Organisation (ILO) has only just begun catching up with this.

Erdoğan and EPO
Original photo: Erdoğan, 2012

Links 18/8/2016: EFF Slams Vista 10, Linux Foundation Makes PNDA

Posted in News Roundup at 5:22 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish



  • Desktop

    • With Windows 10, Microsoft Blatantly Disregards User Choice and Privacy: A Deep Dive

      Microsoft had an ambitious goal with the launch of Windows 10: a billion devices running the software by the end of 2018. In its quest to reach that goal, the company aggressively pushed Windows 10 on its users and went so far as to offer free upgrades for a whole year. However, the company’s strategy for user adoption has trampled on essential aspects of modern computing: user choice and privacy. We think that’s wrong.

      You don’t need to search long to come across stories of people who are horrified and amazed at just how far Microsoft has gone in order to increase Windows 10’s install base. Sure, there is some misinformation and hyperbole, but there are also some real concerns that current and future users of Windows 10 should be aware of. As the company is currently rolling out its “Anniversary Update” to Windows 10, we think it’s an appropriate time to focus on and examine the company’s strategy behind deploying Windows 10.

  • Server

    • How Twitter Avoids the Microservice Version of “Works on My Machine”

      Apache Mesos and Apache Aurora initially helped Twitter engineers to implement more sophisticated DevOps processes and streamline tooling, says software engineer David McLaughlin. But over time a whole new class of bespoke tooling emerged to manage deployment across multiple availability zones as the number of microservices grew.

      “As the number of microservices grows and the dependency graph between them grows, the confidence level you achieve from unit tests and mocks alone rapidly decreases,” McLaughlin says, in the interview below. “You end up in the microservice version of “works on my machine.”

  • Kernel Space

    • The Linux Foundation Awards 14 Training and Certification Scholarships
    • The Linux Foundation Announces 2016 LiFT Scholarship Recipients

      14 Scholarship Recipients From 11 Countries to Receive Advanced Open Source Training to Help Advance Their Careers and Communities

    • Linux kernel 4.6 reaches end of life

      Those using a GNU/Linux operating system powered by a kernel from the Linux 4.6 branch have been urged to move to Linux kernel 4.7.

      According to a report by Softpedia, users have been advised to install the new Linux kernel 4.7.1 build.

    • It’s time to say goodbye to Linux 4.6

      If you’re using a version of Linux based on the 4.6 series of the kernel, the software’s lead maintainer has a message for you: It’s time to upgrade.

      Greg Kroah-Hartman on Tuesday announced the arrival of Linux 4.6.7 and made it clear that it will be the last in the kernel’s 4.6 series. Version 4.7.1 made its debut on Tuesday as well, and that’s where the future lies, Kroah-Hartman said.

    • Linux Foundation touts open-source PNDA for network analytics

      The Linux Foundation has taken another open-source project under its wing, one that’s focused on the architecture, implementation and support of digital networks.

      Called the Platform for Network Data Analytics (or “PNDA” for short), the initiative aims to better integrate and manage massive amounts of network information, and deploy analytics applications and services.

      “PNDA addresses a critical need for a scalable platform that fosters innovation in reactive network analytics for both service providers and enterprises,” said Jim Zemlin, executive director of The Linux Foundation, in a statement.

      To coincide with the announcement, the PNDA community has just shipped out its first version of the software, which is described as a production-ready solution for platforms based on OpenStack.

    • Linux Kernel 4.4.18 LTS Has Lots of x86 Improvements, Security Updates and Fixes

      After announcing the end of life for the Linux 4.6 kernel series with the release of Linux kernel 4.6.7 as the last maintenance update, as well as the availability of the first point release of Linux kernel 4.7, Greg Kroah-Hartman now informs us about Linux kernel 4.4.18 LTS.

      Linux kernel 4.4 is an LTS (Long Term Support) one, the latest and most advanced, currently used by many popular GNU/Linux operating systems, including Ubuntu 16.04 LTS (Xenial Xerus), Ubuntu 14.04.5 LTS (Trusty Tahr), and all of their derivatives, such as Xubuntu, Kubuntu, Ubuntu GNOME, Ubuntu MATE, etc., and the Linux Mint 18 “Sarah” series of distributions.

    • Benchmarks

      • AMDGPU-PRO Radeon RX 460/470/480 vs. NVIDIA Linux GPU Benchmarks

        Last week I published an 18-way GPU Linux comparison featuring the new Radeon RX 460 and RX 470 graphics cards along with other AMD Radeon and NVIDIA GeForce GPUs. The Radeon tests were done using the very latest open-source Linux driver stack while in this article are similar benchmarks done but using the AMDGPU-PRO hybrid driver stack.

      • Btrfs RAID Tests On Linux 4.8

        Recently I’ve been carrying out a number of Btrfs RAID tests on Linux 4.7 while this past weekend I ran some comparison tests using the Linux 4.8 Git kernel.

        The Btrfs feature updates in Linux 4.8 has the big ENOSPC rework as well as other clean-ups and improvements.

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK

      • A quick look at using JSX in GNOME

        Thanks to a travel sponsorship from the GNOME foundation, I was able to attend the GTK+ hackfest in Toronto recently. The discussions and energy there inspired me to work on a prototype of something I had been thinking about for a while: using JSX to create GtkWidgets.

      • GSoC: final week and results

        Hello everyone, I’m very glad to announce that my GSoC project about implementing games with multiple medias is being finished this very week. Although the code is still being tested, it won’t have big changes. With that said, I’ll show and explain the results.

      • Using the GtkSourceView API to write scripts that manipulate text

        In the gnome-c-utils repository, I wrote some scripts that use the GtkSourceView library.

        When a script needs to read some text, search something in it, and possibly edit the content, then having a GtkTextBuffer is really convenient.

      • The Meson build system at GUADEC 2016

        For the third year in a row, Centricular was at GUADEC, and this year we sponsored the evening party on the final day at Hoepfner’s Burghof! Hopefully everyone enjoyed it as much as we hoped. :)

        The focus for me this year was to try and tell people about the work we’ve been doing on porting GStreamer to Meson and to that end, I gave a talk on the second day about how to build your GNOME app ~2x faster than before.

      • GNOME Developers Continue Working On Meson Build System, Much Faster Build Times

        GNOME developers and others in the free software ecosystem continue working on Meson, a promising next-gen build system that’s superior to the commonly-used Autotools.

        Meson has been in the works for a few years now but routinely see people unfamiliar with it. More and more GNOME packages though are beginning to support Meson.

  • Distributions

  • Devices/Embedded

    • The Positives and Negatives of Arduino

      My introduction to the world of single board computers started with the Raspberry Pi and an attempt to spin up a media server. Once the media server was established, the GPIO pins began to peek my interest and other projects were born. As I learned more about GPIO and electronics, I discovered there existed boards other than the Raspberry Pi that I could program to take my projects to another level.

    • Intel’s Project Euclid is a tiny Linux-powered PC for robot makers

      INTEL has unveiled Project Euclid, a pint-sized RealSense PC aimed at robotics makers and developers.

      Project Euclid (below) was announced during the firm’s Intel Developer Forum in San Francisco, and makes it dead simple to create applications, such as self-driving go-karts and 3D printing robots, using Intel’s depth-sensing RealSense cameras, the firm said.

      Intel has kicked its Atom chips to the curb in terms of mobile, but Project Euclid comes with an integrated Atom processor, suggesting that that the once-defunct chip still has a future in the world of robotics and the Internet of Things (IoT).

    • Intel “Aero” drone board runs Yocto on Cherry Trail

      Intel has launched a Linux-on-Atom powered “Aero Compute Board” and quadcopter, promising improved obstacle navigation based on Intel RealSense.

      Even more than last year’s Intel Developer Forum, this week’s IDF is focusing relentlessly on Intel RealSense. The 3D depth sensing camera technology is everywhere at IDF, including the new Windows-focused Project Alloy VR helmet and several Linux-infused drone, robotics, and camera kits. In fact, even the new Kaby Lake and Apollo Lake processors expected to be announced today include built-in support for RealSense. Here, we take a look at the Intel Aero Platform drone products: the Atom-based Intel Aero Compute Board and an Aero Ready To Fly quadcopter based on it.

    • Intel unveils its Joule chip module for the Internet of Things

      Joule is the latest product in Intel’s family of all-in-one chip modules for the Internet of Things.

      Intel CEO Brian Krzanich showed off the new Joule module during a keynote speech at the Intel Developer Forum in San Francisco. The module is a follow-up to Edison, the prior IoT module introduced in 2014.

    • Review: 6 slick open source routers

      Hackers of the world, unite! You have nothing to lose but the lousy stock firmware your routers shipped with.

      Apart from smartphones, routers and wireless base stations are undoubtedly the most widely hacked and user-modded consumer devices. In many cases the benefits are major and concrete: a broader palette of features, better routing functions, tighter security, and the ability to configure details not normally allowed by the stock firmware (such as antenna output power).

    • i.MX6 Pico-ITX and mini-PC run Android, Ubuntu, and Yocto

      Logic Supply’s Embux-made Pico-ITX SBC runs Android and Linux on an i.MX6 DualLite, and is also available in a mini-PC.

      Logic Supply is reselling an Embux-manufactured Pico-ITX form-factor “ICM-2010 2.5”” SBC and “ICS-2010” mini-PC. The SBC starts at $193, plus $29 for an 8GB SD card equipped with Android, Ubuntu, or Yocto Project based Linux. A power adapter adds another $30. The products are designed for applications including industrial control, home automation, kiosk, digital signage, or robotics applications.

    • ArcherMind Joins 96Boards and Launches Deci-Core ARMv8 Product

      Linaro Ltd, the collaborative engineering organization developing open source software for the ARM® architecture, today announced that ArcherMind Technology (Nanjing) Co., Ltd has joined the 96Boards initiative as a Steering Committee Member and Manufacturing Partner and they are preparing the launch of their first 96Boards product.

    • Phones

Free Software/Open Source

  • More News Arrives on Fuchsia, Google’s Mystery Open Source OS

    Everyone loves a mystery and if you’re a mystery fan you have to be paying attention to Google’s mysterious new open source operating system, which is dubbed “fuchsia,” alluding to what you get when you mix purple with pink. While you’ll read many reports saying that nothing has been said about fuchsia officially, Google engineers actually have popped up in various online forums descrbing the new OS.

  • Google updates Santa Tracker open source code with changes from last Christmas

    Is it Christmas time already? Not quite, but we don’t have long before kids start counting down the days to Santa’s visit. When they ask, Google is again ready to provide an answer.

    Last April, Google open sourced Santa Tracker and its various components. Then it developed new experiences to show off around Christmas time. Eight months later, that code is now open source as well.

  • Google Makes Santa Tracker 2015 Code Open Source
  • What People Don’t Get About Open Source

    Open source is making its way into the mainstream, driven by Linux, OpenStack, SDN, and other cloud, networking and computing. But a lot of people still have misconceptions about the open source process and how it fits into business.

  • Events

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

  • SaaS/Back End

    • How open source helps startups get a big data boost

      Big data isn’t new. We’ve actually had fairly sophisticated data infrastructure long before Hadoop, Spark, and such came into being. No, the big difference in big data is that all this fantastic data infrastructure is open source software running on commodity servers.

      Over a decade ago, entrepreneur Joe Kraus’ declared that “There’s never been a better time to be an entrepreneur because it’s never been cheaper to be one,” and he was right, though he couldn’t have foreseen how much so. Though Kraus extolled the virtues of Linux, Tomcat, Apache HTTP server, and MySQL, today’s startups have access to a dazzling array of the best big data infrastructure that money doesn’t need to buy.

    • Pepperdata: Carving Out a Niche in the Big Data Arena

      In the data analytics and Hadoop arena, the folks at Pepperdata have an interesting story to tell. Pepperdata’s cofounders ran the web search engineering team at Yahoo during the development of the first production use of Hadoop and created Pepperdata with the mission of providing a simple way of prioritizing Hadoop jobs to give resources to the ones that need them most, while ensuring that a company adheres to its SLAs.

      The company’s software installs in under 30 minutes on an existing Hadoop cluster without any modifications to the scheduler, workflow, or jobs, delivering visibility into Hadoop workloads at the task level. This week, Pepperdata announced that former CTO of Yahoo, Ashfaq Munshi, is taking over as CEO. Here are more details on this company from an interview we did recently with co-founder Chad Carson.

  • Databases

    • Weekly phpMyAdmin contributions 2016-W32

      Tonight phpMyAdmin,, and 4.6.4 were released and you can probably see that there are quite some security issues fixed. Most of them are not really exploitable unless your PHP and webserver are poorly configured, but still it’s good idea to upgrade.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

    • The trouble with open source research on the web

      Every open source research project — no matter how simple or complex — starts with browsing the internet. But researchers should know that their identity can be obtained through a number of basic techniques, which could have consequences ranging from modified data to directed cyber attacks or worse.

      Even the simplest of website visits will expose significant details about your location and your device, and pretty much any site you visit will drop code on your computer to track what you’re doing as you traverse the internet. Most of the time, this exchange is benign, but there can be times when content will be modified or attacks launched based on the identity of the user.

      When Tim Berners-Lee released his building blocks for the modern internet, they were designed for the academic research community. Like other initiatives of the time, web protocols (and the browsers to support them) were built to easily share information, not for privacy or security. In order to minimize or even prevent counter-surveillance while conducting open source research, it is important to understand how the underlying protocols exchange information when you visit a web page.

    • Endurance Robots launches fully roboticized open-source platform [Ed: That's not FOSS. Using OpenCV to make a proprietary and Windows-only platform?]

      Finally, we used the standard Microsoft SAPI. This product with various language sets is distributed free of charge.

    • Intel claim open source driven by ‘enthusiasts’ is ‘complete rubbish’ says Weaveworks founder [Ed: Intel is badmouthing FOSS while putting secret/proprietary back doors in its chipsets]

      Weaveworks founder and CEO Alexis Richardson delivered a verbal drubbing to an Intel senior architect yesterday after he suggested open source software is still driven by “enthusiasts” who alone don’t produce “enterprise-capable product” without distributors ‘professionalising’ parts of it themselves.

      Richardson, speaking at an open source panel debate hosted by Rackspace, described Markus Leberecht’s claim as “complete rubbish”, leaving the solutions architect floundering.

      When discussing the increasing relevance of open source software to the enterprise, senior data centre solutions architect Leberecht volunteered the notion that “open source has become a natural thing for enterprise to consume when distributors have professionalised certain parts of [it]“.

      “So just to re-emphasise the role that some of the companies on the panel here [companies included MongoDB, Red Hat, and Rackspace, as well as Weaveworks] are taking in this particular way of getting open source to market: by itself open source is attention-driven, enthusiasts driving a certain topic, but that doesn’t give us enterprise-capable product.”

    • Intel Launches Project Alloy — An Open-source VR Headset That’s A Full PC [Ed: That’s a lie (even the headline). It’s not “Open Source”, it’s Microsoft rubbish.]
    • Microsoft announce open-source UWP Community Toolkit to make UWP app development easier [Ed: Microsoft is just hilarious. In its propaganda site it is openwashing some of its biggest lock-in (‘community’)]

    • Rust implementation of GNUnet with GSoC – Final-term

      This is the final week of the gnunet-rs project with Google Summer of Code. It has been challenging but also exceptionally rewarding. I hope to explain the final product and then touch on the future work. The repository can be found here, and my previous blog post here.

      During the first half of GSoC working period, I changed the peerinfo service to use asynchronous IO (using gjio). I continued on that path and added two more services to make use of asynchronous IO – identity and GNS. I won’t cover the complete API in this blog post since their usage can be found in the documentation comments in the code (cargo doc can be used to generate html docs); there are also a lot of examples. But I will highlight one of them because it demonstrates the strengths of a promise based API.

  • Public Services/Government

    • Federal open-source policy isn’t open enough, says tech group

      The Electronic Frontier Foundation has praised new federal guidelines aimed at improving the sharing of federally developed software code but complained that the government’s 20 percent release goal does not go far enough.

      The policy, announced by U.S. CIO Tony Scott on Aug. 8, seeks to makes federal source code more accessible while increasing sharing across government and reducing duplicative software purchases.

  • Programming/Development

  • Standards/Consortia


  • Witchcraft shop refuses to serve Harry Potter fans because it sells ‘spiritual tools’ not toys for young Muggles

    A shop which makes magic wands for real life witches and wizards has been blasted by Harry Potter fans for refusing to serve them.

    The business, called Mystical Moments, is making a name for itself in the wizarding world by supplying wands to cast healing spells and charms for good luck.

    But wand-maker Richard Carter says he is selling “spiritual tools” – not toys for young Muggles – and he is barring Hogwarts fans.

  • As A-level results come out, it’s time to look again at our education system

    Jeremy Corbyn is right – England needs to repurpose its education system.


    Today, the annual cycle of the education system cranks round, as another cohort of nervous school leavers discover their A Level results. If their route ahead of them looks like a debt-ridden treadmill, that’s because it is one. University debt repayment operates as a tax on those unable to afford fees upfront – so almost everyone – and erects a barrier to any repurposing of higher education beyond servicing the needs of a narrow, centuries-old elite.

    More than ever, we are in need of an alternative vision for the education system, and, at last, someone is providing one. This week is also witnessing a series of detailed policy announcements which form the backbone of a vision which is daring and absolutely necessary. The National Education Service which is being announced by Jeremy Corbyn goes far beyond the abolition of tuition fees, venturing to equip everyone with skills that the Conservatives have spent their years in office draining and wasting.

    At the moment, tuition fees are breeding an insidious psychology. Transforming education into an item that one may ‘purchase’ cultivates a logic in which the university is a private investment through which we buy our dream jobs. ‘Employability’ takes precedence over the nourishment of learning and skills, both eroding the public utility yielded from higher

  • When your IT talent shortage is global

    In some cases, you might be at a company with a super strong brand, which makes hiring a bit easier as you don’t need to explain what the company does. In either case, it is important to focus your hiring practices to fully explain three key areas:

  • Science

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Maternal Mortality a Growing Threat in the US

      Each year, over 65,000 women in the United States suffer life-threatening complications, including physical and psychological conditions aggravated by pregnancy, and over 600 die from pregnancy related causes. Elizabeth Dawes Gay reports the vast impact of the health care system collapse on rural areas, and the racial disparity underlying the United States’ maternal health crisis. African-American women are three to four times more likely to die from pregnancy-related causes. Health officials report the state of Georgia to have the highest rate of maternal deaths and significant racial disparity.

    • Aetna Proves That Single-Payer Health Care Is the Only Way to Go

      It’s been over two years since the bulk of Obamacare went into effect, and US health insurance companies are (inadvertently) making a great case for why it’s time to adopt a single-payer system and take the profit motive out of how health care is paid for once and for all.

      On Monday, Aetna, the United States’ third-largest insurance company, announced that it will withdraw from Obamacare exchanges in 11 states, and that it will only offer insurance through the state-level Obamacare marketplaces in four states in 2017.

      Obamacare has, overall, been a huge success, especially among the less visible and more marginalized populations in the US.

    • Sanders: Aetna’s Obamacare Threat Shows What “Corporate Control Looks Like”

      Healthcare giant Aetna directly threatened the federal government by vowing to pull out of Obamacare if its proposed merger to Humana was not approved, revealed a letter by the company’s CEO sent in July and reported on Wednesday.

      The letter, obtained by the Huffington Post through a Freedom of Information Act request, proves what many observers have suspected and what the company has been denying: that its decision to pull out of most of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) health exchanges was a bargaining chip in its effort to achieve the controversial merger.

      Aetna’s threatening letter was authored by Aetna CEO Mark Bertolini, who would have “personally [made] up to $131 million” if the Humana merger had gone through, as International Business Times reporter David Sirota observed last month.

      The Justice Department sued to block the merger last month.

    • Aetna’s Greed Proves That Medicare-for-All Is the Best Solution

      Sen. Elizabeth Warren skewers insurance giant for Obamacare withdrawal, saying: ‘The health of the American people should not be used as bargaining chips’

    • Aetna Shows Why We Need a Single Payer

      The best argument for a single-payer health plan is the recent decision by giant health insurer Aetna to bail out next year from 11 of the 15 states where it sells Obamacare plans.

      Aetna’s decision follows similar moves by UnitedHealth Group, the nation’s largest insurer, and Humana, one of the other giants.

      All claim they’re not making enough money because too many people with serious health problems are using the Obamacare exchanges, and not enough healthy people are signing up.

      The problem isn’t Obamacare per se. It’s in the structure of private markets for health insurance – which creates powerful incentives to avoid sick people and attract healthy ones. Obamacare is just making the structural problem more obvious.

    • Neonic pesticide link to long-term wild bee decline

      The large-scale, long-term decline in wild bees across England has been linked to the use of neonicotinoid insecticides by a new study.

      Over 18 years, researchers analysed bees who forage heavily on oilseed rape, a crop widely treated with “neonics”.

      The scientists attribute half of the total decline in wild bees to the use of these chemicals.

      Industry sources say the study shows an association, not a cause and effect.
      Weighing the evidence

      In recent years, several studies, conducted in the lab and in the field, have identified a negative effect on honey bees and bumble bees from the use of neonics.

      But few researchers have looked at the long term impacts of these substances.

      This new paper examined the impacts on populations of 62 species of wild bees across England over the period from 1994-2011.

    • Russia’s Stepanova: ‘No accident’ if something happens to me

      The Russian runner who helped expose a system of state-backed doping in her country says she fears for her life and has been forced to move after hackers tried to find her location.

      The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) said on Saturday Yulia Stepanova’s online doping management account had been illegally accessed. The doping scandal she lifted the lid on has rocked sport and cost over 100 Russians their place at the Rio Games.

      Stepanova has been in hiding in the United States with her husband Vitaly, a former Russian anti-doping official, after giving evidence that the Russian government for years facilitated widespread cheating across nearly all Olympic sports.

    • Aetna Drops Obamacare In Most States

      Aetna Inc, the No. 3 U.S. health insurer, on Monday said that due to persistent financial losses on Obamacare plans, it will sell individual insurance on the government-run online marketplaces in only four states next year, down from the current 15 states.

      Aetna’s decision follows similar moves from UnitedHealth Group Inc. and Humana Inc., which have cited similar concerns about financial losses on these exchanges created under President Barack Obama’s national healthcare reform law.

      Aetna is also trying to buy Humana and is currently fighting a U.S. government lawsuit aimed at blocking the $34 billion deal.

      Aetna, which earlier this year said it was too soon to give up on the exchanges despite its challenges, this month signaled it was reconsidering. On Aug. 2, the company said it would not expand in 2017 and would review all its individual business.

    • Lawsuit Alleges Monsanto Intentionally Mislabeled Dangerous “Inert” Ingredients
    • Lead Contamination at Indiana Low-Income Housing Site Is Being Addressed After Decades of Inaction

      The West Calumet Complex, an affordable-housing complex in East Chicago, Ind., was built in 1972—but it took over four decades for city officials and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to alert residents of a potential lead crisis. The Young Turks news team recently went to East Chicago to interview residents and activists in the area to see how they are responding to news of the contamination.

      “We had no idea what we’ve been living in,” Akeesha Daniels, a resident since 2004, told TYT reporter Jordan Chariton. Daniels said she “never was sick a day in [her] life” before moving into the West Calumet Complex.

      Lonnie M. Randolph, a Democratic state senator, explained that several weeks ago, over 1,000 residents received letters from East Chicago’s mayor telling them they had between 30 and 90 days to evacuate their homes because of lead and arsenic levels in the soil surrounding the complex.

  • Security

  • Defence/Aggression

    • The Bombing of a Hospital in Yemen

      An air strike struck a hospital in northern Yemen on Monday, killing 11 and wounding at least 19, Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders) said in a statement.

      The strike, which news outlets say was conducted by Saudi-led coalition forces, partially destroyed Abs Hospital, a facility in Hajja province, which MSF has run since July 2015. More than 4,000 patients have been treated in the facility over the past year.

      “This is the fourth attack against an MSF facility in less than 12 months,” said Teresa Sancristóval, the MSF emergency program manager for Yemen. “Once again, today we witness the tragic consequences of the bombing of a hospital. Once again, a fully functional hospital full of patients and MSF national and international staff members was bombed in a war that has shown no respect for medical facilities or patients.”

      A day before the strike, MSF tweeted saying access to health care is increasingly limited in the country, where the humanitarian situation has deteriorated since hostilities between the Saudi-led coalition and Houthi rebels resumed last week following the collapse of United Nations-facilitated peace talks.

    • How Immigration Status Matters in the Orlando Shooting

      Jorge Rivas and Rafa Fernandez de Castro of Fusion reported that, following the horrific Pulse Nightclub massacre on June 12, 2016 in Orlando, Florida, victims without legal status now face “a whole additional set of challenges in the wake of the horrible mass-shooting.”

      Their report describes the cases of an undocumented 24-year-old Salvadorian survivor named Victor and an undocumented 33-year-old Mexican survivor named Javier (whose names have been changed to protect their identities). Each faces uncertainty of qualification for federal and state assistance programs beyond immediate emergency care, due to their illegal immigration status. After being hospitalized for gunshot wounds, each is facing overwhelming medical bills.

    • NYT Touts Honduras as Ad for ‘American Power’–Leaving Out Support for Murderous Coup Regime

      She offered the results of this and similar programs as evidence that “smart investments in Honduras are succeeding” and “a striking rebuke to the rising isolationists in American politics,” who “seem to have lost their faith in American power.”

      But Nazario failed to explain how American power paved the way for the shocking rise in violence in Honduras. In the early 2000s, the murder rate in Honduras fluctuated between 44.3 and 61.4 per 100,000—very high by global standards, but similar to rates in neighboring El Salvador and Guatemala. (It’s not coincidental that all three countries were dominated by violent, US-backed right-wing governments in the 1980s—historical context that the op-ed entirely omitted.) Then, in June 2009, Honduras’ left-leaning President Manuel Zelaya was overthrown in a military coup, kidnapped and flown out of the country via the joint US/Honduran military base at Palmerola.

      The US is supposed to cut off aid to a country that has a military coup—and “there is no doubt” that Zelaya’s ouster “constituted an illegal and unconstitutional coup,” according to a secret report sent by the US ambassador to Honduras on July 24, 2009, and later exposed by WikiLeaks. But the US continued most aid to Honduras, carefully avoiding the magic words “military coup” that would have necessitated withdrawing support from the coup regime.


      With a corrupt, drug-linked regime in place, thanks in large part to US intervention, murder in Honduras soared, rising to 70.7 per 100,000 in 2009, 81.8 in 2010 and 91.4 in 2011—fully 50 percent above the pre-coup level. While many of the murders involved criminal gangs, much of the post-coup violence was political, with resuscitated death squads targeting journalists, opposition figures, labor activists and environmentalists—of whom indigenous leader Berta Cáceres was only the most famous.

    • Pentagon Cannot Account For $6.5 Trillion Dollars

      Adding to the appearance of impropriety is the fact that thousands of documents that should be on file have been removed and disappeared without any reasonable explanation.

      A new Department of Defense Inspector General’s report, released last week, has left Americans stunned at the jaw-dropping lack of accountability and oversight. The glaring report revealed the Pentagon couldn’t account for $6.5 trillion dollars worth of Army general fund transactions and data, according to a report by the Fiscal Times.

    • Will Human Evil Destroy Life On Earth?

      The World Wildlife Fund tells us that there are only 3,890 tigers left in the entire world. Due to exploitative capitalism, which destroys the environment in behalf of short-term profits, the habitat for tigers is rapidly disappearing. The environmental destruction, together with hunting or poaching by those who regard it as manly or profitable to kill a magnificent animal, is leading to the rapid extermination of this beautiful animal. Soon tigers will only exist as exhibits in zoos.

      The same is happening to lions, cheetahs, leopards, rhinos, elephants, bobcats, wolves, bears, birds, butterflies, honey bees. You name it.

      What we are witnessing is the irresponsibility of the human race, a Satan-cursed form of life that does not belong on the beautiful planet Earth. The cursed humans are even capable of launching a nuclear war which would destroy the livability of Earth.

    • Washington’s Outrage and Excuses

      What is behind Washington’s double standards – its contrasting reactions to one set of regimes as against another? Often American politicians will talk about promoting democracy and claim that the dictators they support have a better chance of evolving in a democratic direction than those they oppose. It might be that these politicians actually believe this to be the case, at least at the moment they make these declarations. But there is no historical evidence that their claims are true. This argument is largely a face-saving one. Other underlying reasons exist for the choices they make.

    • A botched coup and Turkey’s future in western institutions

      Western interpretations of the botched coup in Turkey and its aftermath are varied. Nevertheless, if one draws a vector that represents the divergent arguments a consensus view with two components can be detected: (i) a readiness to accept the Turkish government’s argument that the coup was staged by the Islamic Gülen Movement that infiltrated the Turkish state institutions, including the military; and (ii) expressions of concerns about the future of democracy in Turkey given the announcement of a state of emergency and the extent of the post-coup purges.

      In terms of policy recommendations, there is only one recommendation in the market place: the west should try to appease Turkey, a key strategic partner in NATO and in the fight against ISIS.

    • Turkey’s Sensible Détente with Russia

      Official Washington is so set on making Russia the new boogeyman that Turkish President Erdogan’s visit there is setting off alarms, but the easing of Moscow-Ankara tensions is really a positive sign, says ex-CIA official Graham E. Fuller.

    • How ‘Think Tanks’ Generate Endless War

      U.S. “think tanks” rile up the American public against an ever-shifting roster of foreign “enemies” to justify wars which line the pockets of military contractors who kick back some profits to the “think tanks,” explains retired JAG Major Todd E. Pierce.


      It is readily apparent now that Russia has taken its place as the primary target within U.S. sights. One doesn’t have to see the U.S. military buildup on Russia’s borders to understand that but only see the propaganda themes of our “think tanks.”

    • US Soldiers Are Relying on Millions of Dollars in Food Stamps to Survive

      Military service members on active duty spent $24 million in food stamps at military commissary shops from September 2014 to August 2015, and 45 percent of students in schools run by the military are eligible for free or reduced-price meal programs.

      For years, the military has been embarrassed by reports showing that some active-duty service members struggle to feed their families and use government benefits to get by. A recent report by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) found that the Department of Defense (DoD) does not fully understand the scope of the problem.

      The USDA runs the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), the benefits of which are commonly called food stamps. Neither the military nor the USDA tracks how many active-duty service members receive SNAP benefits, according the report.

    • Does this Change Everything? Russia’s first strikes on Syria from Iran Airbases

      Russian bombers for the first time have taken off from bases in Iran to carry out air strikes on rebel targets in Syria.

      The US military is complaining that under a Russian agreement with the US, it was supposed to get a timely notification of Russia air strikes so they could avoid any conflicts. The Russians appear to have given the Americans last-minute notice– enough so that the US could make the necessary arrangements, but only barely so. Likely Russia did not want to give the US time to complain about the basing in Iran or to try to pressure Moscow back out of this plan.

      According to Russian sources, this procedure is a matter of saving money on logistics. But the move will inevitably be seen in the light of grand strategy. A tightening of Russian-Iranian security cooperation will be seen by Saudi Arabia and Israel as a threat, and since those two countries have the most powerful lobbies in Washington, it will view the development as threatening, as well.

    • Ron Jacobs: Media spends time and money to make terrorists as celebrities
    • Rights Groups Sound Alarm Over Devastating Use of Incendiary Weapons in Syria

      News of Russia’s use of incendiary weapons comes at the same time that joint U.S.-Russia airstrikes against rebel groups are being proposed. An aid worker interviewed by The Intercept said that such a collaboration would be “ludicrous and diabolical.”

      The Intercept explains that in the past several months, “the United States has repeatedly signaled plans to strike opposition forces in Syria, largely due to fears that al Qaeda-linked groups were making gains in the conflict.”

    • Fire deaths rise in England prompts ‘postcode lottery’ claim

      The number of people dying in fire-related incidents in England has seen its biggest percentage increase in 20 years.

      Data published by the Home Office shows 303 people died in fires in 2015-16, a 15% increase on the previous 12 months.

      Fire services in Cambridgeshire and Cumbria had the highest fatality rates.

      Fire Service Minister Brandon Lewis said there had been “a long term downward trend” in fire deaths.

    • Complicit in Civilian Carnage, US Support for War in Yemen Called ‘Indefensible’

      Amid an escalation of violence, increasing numbers of civilian casualties, and a nearly unprecedented humanitarian crisis in Yemen, the New York Times editorial board on Wednesday called the United States “complicit in the carnage” and demanded the Obama administration end its support for the Saudi-led coalition which has repeatedly been accused of war crimes by critics.

    • America Is Complicit in the Carnage in Yemen

      A hospital associated with Doctors Without Borders. A school. A potato chip factory. Under international law, those facilities in Yemen are not legitimate military targets. Yet all were bombed in recent days by warplanes belonging to a coalition led by Saudi Arabia, killing more than 40 civilians.

      The United States is complicit in this carnage. It has enabled the coalition in many ways, including selling arms to the Saudis to mollify them after the nuclear deal with Iran. Congress should put the arms sales on hold and President Obama should quietly inform Riyadh that the United States will withdraw crucial assistance if the Saudis do not stop targeting civilians and agree to negotiate peace.

    • War to ‘Stop’ War: Why the Obama Doctrine is Ravaging the Middle East

      Now that the Americans have launched yet another aerial war against Libya, purportedly to target ‘Daesh’ positions there, the discussion is being carefully geared towards how far the US must go to defeat the militant group?

      In fact, “can airstrikes alone win a war without ‘boots on the ground’?” has morphed, somehow, to become the crux of the matter, which has engaged a large number of intellectuals on both sides of the debate.

    • While Beijing and Manila Talk, Washington Spoiling for a Fight

      As much as Washington may hate it, the fact is Beijing and Manila are diplomatically discussing the situation in the South China Sea.

      Champagne bottles are not popping yet, but Special Philippine envoy, former President Fidel Ramos, did go to Hong Kong, and on behalf of President Rodrigo Duterte, got together with Fu Ying, the chairwoman of the foreign affairs committee of the National People’s Congress. On the record, Ramos made sure that Manila is all in for formal negotiations.

      The starting block concerns some fishy business – literally. Beijing and Manila may be on their way already to open the highly disputed Scarborough shoal, which falls right into what Manila describes as the West Philippine Sea, to both Chinese and Filipino fishermen, as in the joint development of fish farms.

      Wu Shicun, president of the National Institute for South China Sea Studies, let it be known that Ramos’s visit to Hong Kong was just an opener. Of course his next step will have to be a trip to Beijing to talk to the high-stakes power players. Then the way will be paved for a formal Duterte state visit.

      So, for the moment, everyone is behaving in a very Asian “win-win” way, with no loss of face involved. And yet, in parallel, there’s been speculation that Beijing has identified a unique widow of opportunity between the G-20 in Huangzhou, next month, and the US presidential election in early November, to come up with extra “facts on the sea” in the form of added reclamation and building of naval installations.

      What Beijing wants in the long term is clear. Scarborough shoal in particular is a key piece in the larger puzzle. A Chinese airstrip is all but inevitable because it extends the reach of the PLA’s air force by over 1,000km, and positions it to be active off Luzon, no less than the gateway to the Western Pacific.

      With the airstrip in Scarborough shoal and an early warning system on Macclesfield Bank – just east of the Paracel Islands – Beijing will be finally able to “see” all the action, friendly but mostly unfriendly, emanating from the sprawling US naval base at Guam.

    • Ten Times Worse Than Hell: A Syrian Doctor on the Humanitarian Catastrophe in Aleppo

      In the latest escalation of the war in Syria, Russia has begun launching airstrikes from an Iranian air base. The New York Times reports this marks the first time since World War II that a foreign military has operated from a base on Iranian soil. The move comes as fighting has intensified around Aleppo, Syria’s largest city. Earlier this month, rebels fighting the Syrian government began a new offensive to break an ongoing government-backed siege of the city. The rebels have been led in part by an offshoot of the Nusra Front, which up until last month had been aligned with al-Qaeda. The International Committee of the Red Cross has described the fight for Aleppo as “beyond doubt one of the most devastating urban conflicts in modern times.” The United Nations is warning of a dire humanitarian crisis as millions are left without water or electricity. For more on the humanitarian and medical crisis in Syria, we speak with Dr. Zaher Sahloul, founder of the American Relief Coalition for Syria and senior adviser and former president of the Syrian American Medical Society. He has visited Aleppo five times since the war began.

    • “What Would She Do in Iraq?”: As Clinton Slams Trump for ISIS Speech, We Look at Her Own Positions

      On Monday, while Trump was speaking in Youngstown, Ohio, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Vice President Joe Biden held a rally in Scranton, Pennsylvania. Scranton is Biden’s hometown. During her speech, Hillary Clinton slammed Trump’s foreign policy positions on Syria and fighting ISIS. But what about her own positions? For more, we speak with Phyllis Bennis, author of “Understanding ISIS and the New Global War on Terror.” We also speak with co-founder of the Muslim Democratic Club of New York Linda Sarsour.

    • Amnesty law nullifyed in El Salvador: knowing the truth and taking the victims into account

      The Truth Commission’s report “From Madness to Hope: The Twelve Year War in El Salvador” was published on the 15th of March, 1993, 26 months after the signing of the Chapultepec Accords. The report stated that over 75,000 people were tortured, extrajudicially executed or disappeared during the war. State agents, paramilitary groups and death squads are responsible for 90% of crimes and 3.3% are attributed to guerrillas and other armed unidentified people. With the intention of understanding the letter and spirit of the Truth Commission’s report, we spoke with one of the three assigned commissioners from the United Nations, former Foreign Minister of Venezuela, Reinaldo Figueredo Planchart.

    • Medea Benjamin’s Kingdom of the Unjust

      For years and years, activists demanded that the U.S. government make public 28 (turned out to be 29) pages it had censored from a report, because it was suspected they would show a Saudi Arabian role in funding and facilitating the crimes of September 11, 2001. When the pages were finally made public, they showed a great deal of evidence of exactly that. But the U.S. government and its pet media outlets buried the story on a Friday evening, declared that verily this is that, and moved on.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • NPR Host Demands That Assange Do Something Its Own Reporters Are Told Never to Do

      In a ten-minute interview aired Wednesday morning, NPR’s David Greene asked Wikileaks founder Julian Assange five times to reveal the sources of the leaked information he has published on the internet.

      A major tenet of American journalism is that reporters protect their sources. Wikileaks is certainly not a traditional news organization, but Greene’s persistent attempts to get Assange to violate confidentiality was alarming, especially considering that there has been no challenge to the authenticity of the material in question.

      In the interview, conducted over Skype, Greene pressed Assange to verify the theory that the 20,000 leaked emails from the Democratic National Committee that Wikileaks published came from Russia.

      “Did those hacks that Wikileaks released, did those emails come from Russia?” Greene asked.

      “Well we don’t comment as to our sources,” Assange replied. He remains confined in the Ecuadorian embassy in London where he has lived since 2012, despite a U.N. panel’s ruling that he has been “arbitrarily detained.”

    • WikiLeaks Game Can Turn Kremlin Fortress Into Glass House

      For the first time since the 1950s, Russian subversion of the American political process has become a presidential campaign issue.

      The Kremlin’s latest act of espionage-driven propaganda–document dump of Democratic National Committee emails via WikiLeaks–achieved its desired effect of immediate politicization. We should step back to learn two lessons, and creatively fight back.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • Burning in Indonesia may bring in transboundary haze

      The number of hotspots in Sumatra, Indonesia increased yesterday while Kalimantan recorded fewer hotspots, said Natural Resources and Environment Minister Dato Sri Dr Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar.

      “Under these unpredictable circumstances, it is clear that fires are burning in Indonesia but substantially less than what we saw in 2015.

      “But (it is) still too early to tell as now it is only August. Last year, it began in August (and) peaked in September and early October,” he told The Borneo Post when contacted yesterday.

    • VW in talks to settle US criminal probe over Dieselgate

      Embattled German carmaker Volkswagen has reportedly held preliminary talks with the US Justice Department aimed at resolving a criminal probe into its diesel emissions scandal.

    • August 2016: Louisiana Flooding

      National Geodetic Survey collects damage assessment images in aftermath of severe storms and flooding

    • NASA Study Nails Fracking as Source of Massive Methane ‘Hot Spot’

      A NASA study released on Monday confirms that a methane “hot spot” in the Four Corners region of the American southwest is directly related to leaks from natural gas extraction, processing, and distribution.

      The 2,500-square mile plume, first detected in 2003 and confirmed by NASA satellite data in October 2014, is said to be the largest concentration of atmospheric methane in the U.S. and is more than triple a standard ground-based estimate. Methane, the primary component of natural gas, is a highly-efficient greenhouse gas—84 times more powerful than carbon dioxide, and a significant contributor to global warming.

      The study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences and funded primarily by NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), surveyed industry sources including gas processing facilities, storage tanks, pipeline leaks, and well pads, as well as a coal mine venting shaft.

      It found that leaks from only 10 percent of the individual methane sources are contributing to half of the emissions, confirming the scientists’ suspicions that the mysterious hotspot was connected to the high level of fracking in the region.

    • Clinton Transition Team Headed by Anti-Climate ‘Powerbroker’

      Hillary Clinton has named her transition team should she be elected in November, and the roster—as many feared—is a who’s-who of establishment figures, including former Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, who has a maligned track record on climate.

      The team will also include former national security adviser Tom Donilon, former Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm, president of the Center for American Progress (CAP) Neera Tanden, and director of Harvard University’s Institute of Politics Maggie Williams. Two of the campaign’s policy advisers, Ed Meier and Ann O’Leary, will also serve as co-executive directors.

      Salazar, whose career includes positions both in government and corporate Washington, D.C. firms, has previously pushed for projects that are reviled among environmental activists, such as fracking, the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP), and the Keystone XL pipeline.

      Just a year ago, Clinton and Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) penned an op-ed for the Huffington Post decrying the cyclical nature of Capitol Hill institutions that enable lawmakers and lobbyists to jump in and out of the private and public sectors.

    • As Renewables Soar, Oil Industry Launches New PR Offensive

      As the renewable revolution gathers a pace, the oil industry has launched yet another PR offensive trying to rebrand fossil fuels as sustainable.

      So first the good news. The percentage of electricity generated by renewables in the world’s largest economies has soared by 70 per cent over the last five years, according to new research.

      Data compiled by the Bloomberg New Energy Finance research group for the Financial Times reveals that a real “shift away from fossil fuels is starting to take hold in some regions”.

      The data reveals that G20 countries collectively produced 8 per cent of their electricity from solar, wind and other renewable sources in 2015, up from 4.6 per cent in 2010.

      Germany now tops the list of seven G20 members who generate over 10 per cent of their electricity from renewables, with the country producing over a third of its electricity from renewables.

      Despite Obama’s efforts to cut fossil fuels from the country’s generation mix, the US still lags behind, generating only about 8 per cent of power from renewables.

    • Dakota Pipeline Would Make Water the New ‘Oil,’ Devastating All but the Rich

      Our protest against the destruction of Ina Maka (Mother Earth) started when the first European set foot on Turtle Island [North America] over 400 years ago. We Dakota believe we are related to everything in the universe. We say Mitákuye Oyás’in. The phrase translates in English as “all my relatives,” “we are all related” or “all my relations.” It is a prayer of oneness and harmony with all forms of life: other people, animals, birds, insects, trees and plants, and even rocks, rivers, mountains and valleys. We respect all living creatures, especially Mother Earth. Why would we destroy our own mother who feeds us, who provides us shelter, who embraces the remains of our ancestors?

    • Tribal Activists Defy Lawsuit, Vow Continued Resistance Against Dakota Pipeline

      An epic battle over land rights is being waged in the Dakotas, as a local Indigenous community, facing arrests and litigation, is standing firm in its resistance to a massive Bakken crude pipeline project.

      Developers of the $3.8 billion Dakota Access (also known as the Bakken) Pipeline filed suit in federal court on Monday against members of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe, whose days-long civil disobedience campaign last week stalled construction of the 1,200-mile pipeline.

      Dakota Access LLC is “seeking restraining orders and unspecified monetary damages,” the Associated Press reports. In court papers, the companies argues that the tribal activists “have created and will continue to create a risk of bodily injury and harm to Dakota Access employees and contractors, as well as to law enforcement personnel and other individuals at the construction site.”

    • Disasters like Louisiana floods will worsen as planet warms, scientists warn

      The historic and devastating floods in Louisiana are the latest in a series of heavy deluges that some climate scientists warn will become even more common as the world continues to warm.

      On Tuesday, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (Noaa) is set to classify the Louisiana disaster as the eighth flood considered to be a once-in-every-500-years event to have taken place in the US in little over 12 months.

      Since May of last year, dozens of people have been killed and thousands of homes have been swamped with water in extreme events in Oklahoma, Texas, South Carolina, West Virginia and Maryland. Noaa considers these floods extreme because, based on historical rainfall records, they should be expected to occur only once every 500 years.

    • Scientists Say Expect More 1,000-Year Events Like Louisiana Flood

      The flooding has caused the death of eight people and affected 40,000 homes and businesses, according to the Associated Press.

    • Louisiana left stunned by damage from ’1,000-year’ flood: ‘It just kept coming’

      An enormous and slow-moving rainstorm has laid waste to much of southern Louisiana, which the National Weather Service has called a “1,000-year” disaster.

      By Monday afternoon, more than 20,000 residents had been rescued from the historic floodwaters, and as many as seven had died.

      People here stay prepared for hurricanes, and all the cataclysm they bring. But this storm did not arrive with noise and velocity; instead it unfolded over several days, sneaking up almost without notice. Then the rivers topped their banks.

      In Tangipahoa parish, Louisiana, Donnie Prince woke up Thursday morning to the sound of police on a bullhorn.

    • Wildfires Are Getting Worse: Time to Rehydrate Our Landscapes

      The west is still in the thick of wildfire season and 2016 is already one to leave Smoky the Bear in tears. California is seeing a 20 percent uptick in fires compared to 2015—itself a rough fire year—while a fast-moving blaze has virtually destroyed the California town of Lower Lake. A story in today’s Washington Post grimly begins: “California is burning.”

      While fire is always part of nature, many attribute its increased frequency and intensity to climate change. Certainly, that makes sense: longer stretches of warm weather and earlier snowmelt create a fire-friendly scenario. But what does this connection do for us, beyond providing another reason to rue the continued assaults on our climate? For the terms “climate change” and “global warming” elide the dynamics that create the constellation of factors that, collectively, we call climate. However, by zeroing in on the ecology of fire-prone regions, we can find ways to minimize the risk and severity of the fires that threaten homes and wilderness areas—not to mention the lives of firefighters.

    • The Axis Of Destruction And Hope

      If you want to understand the climate crisis today, you need to journey roughly along the 95th parallel, from Louisiana in the south to the the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation in the Dakotas.

      In the Bayou State, there’s great courage, as local people work to rescue their neighbors from rising waters. So far, 20,000 people have been snatched to safety from homes, offices, hospitals, schools in the wake of a three-day siege of endless rain that broke flood records on river after river. The images are astonishing, like something from Mad Max: a thousand cars trapped on an interstate as helicopters dropped food to keep people alive.

    • Impacts of neonicotinoid use on long-term population changes in wild bees in England
    • 18 Years of Data Links Neonics to Bee Decline

      A new study, published Tuesday in the journal Nature Communications, looks at wild bee populations relative to the use of neonics on the oilseed rape plant in England over 18 years, from 1994-2011. The researchers found that population extinction rates went up along with the pesticide use on the plants, which are widespread throughout the country.

      “The negative effects that have been reported previously do scale up to long-term, large-scale multi-species impacts that are harmful,” Dr. Nick Isaac, a co-author of the report, told the BBC. “Neonicotinoids are harmful, we can be very confident about that and our mean correlation is three times more negative for foragers than for non-foragers.”

      Across the 34 species analyzed in the study, there was a 10 percent decline in populations attributable to neonic use, the BBC said. Five of the species dropped off by 20 percent or more, and the most affected group went down by 30 percent. In total, half of the population decline in wild bees could be linked to the pesticides, the researchers said.

    • Koch Brothers Waging War Against Local Effort to Expose Dark Money

      A state ballot measure seeking to end political corruption has won the ire of the billionaire Koch Brothers, who have relied on secret donations to conservative interest groups to influence elections coast to coast.

      South Dakota’s Initiated Measure 22 (pdf), dubbed the Government Accountability and Anti-Corruption Act, seeks to “ensur[e] that special interest lobbyists and their cronies aren’t buying influence with our elected officials,” according to proponents South Dakotans for Integrity.

      Specifically, it calls for public disclosure of donors to campaigns and advocacy groups; lowers contribution amounts and imposes limits on political action committees, political parties, and candidates; and it creates an ethics commission to enforce campaign finance and lobby rules. Further, it establishes a publicly funded campaign finance program for state and legislative candidates.

      State residents will have the chance to vote on the measure in November and, apparently, the Koch-backed Americans for Prosperity (AFP) is hoping to quash this effort before it gains traction in South Dakota, or anywhere else.

    • Forced to Reckon with Rising Seas, Alaskan Village Votes on Relocation

      Residents of a remote Alaskan village will find out Wednesday if they are to become the first American community to become climate refugees.

      Rapidly rising sea levels are forcing the 650-person village of Shishmaref, which lies just north of the Bering Strait, to consider relocating. Residents voted Tuesday and the city clerk said that results will be announced Wednesday.

      As for where they will go, the community will decide later at a town meeting. The move is estimated to cost $180 million.

      “The sea ice used to protect Shishmaref, which is built on a barrier island and largely inhabited by members of the Inupiat Inuit tribe,” wrote the Guardian. “But now that the ice is melting, the village is in peril from encroaching waves, especially as the permafrost on which it is built is thawing, and crumbling beneath the mostly prefabricated houses. Barricades and sea walls have had little effect.”

    • Alaskan village votes on whether to relocate because of climate change

      If they vote to move, the village of Shishmaref, just north of the Bering Strait, and its population of 650 people, could be the first in the US to do so because of climate change.

      The village would be relocated at an estimated cost of $180m to a new location less threatened by rising waters and melting sea ice. Where it would move would be decided later in a town meeting, according to the city clerk’s office.

    • [Older] Unable to Endure Rising Seas, Alaskan Villages Stuck in Limbo
    • Rethink needed on Paris emissions targets

      The historic international agreement to limit global warming to a global average rise of 1.5°C may be a case of too little, too late.

      In December last year, 195 nations at the Paris climate summit promised a programme of action to contain greenhouse gas emissions and limit climate change. But UK scientists now warn that humans may have already emitted enough carbon dioxide into the planetary atmosphere to take air temperatures over land to above 1.5°C.

      And that means nations may have to think again about what constitutes a “safe” global temperature threshold.

      Chris Huntingford, climate modeller at the UK’s Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, and Lina Mercado, senior lecturer in physical geography at the University of Exeter write in the Scientific Reports journal that even supposing humans stabilise greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere – and although action has been promised, far more has to be achieved before that could happen – temperatures over land are very likely to go beyond the proposed limit.

    • New Koch-Funded Group ‘Fueling US Forward’ Aims to Promote the “Positives” of Fossil Fuels

      A long-awaited campaign to rebrand fossil fuels called Fueling U.S. Forward made its public debut at the Red State Gathering 2016 on Saturday, where the organization’s President and CEO Charles Drevna gave attendees the inside scoop on the effort, and confirmed that the campaign is backed financially by Koch Industries.

      Back in February, Peter Stone first reported in the Huffington Post that a $10 million-a-year effort was proposed by a Koch Industries board member, James Mahoney, and Mr. Drevna, aiming “to boost petroleum-based transportation fuels and attack government subsidies for electric vehicles.” In early August, the Fueling U.S. Forward website launched, and on Saturday, the first public comments were made about the campaign by Mr. Drevna, and they revealed a lot about how the Koch-backed initiative is working to re-frame fossil fuels.

      “We need a sustainable energy to ensure the future of the country,” Mr. Drevna told the audience.

      The source of that energy? That which Mr. Drevna labeled “reliable, abundant, efficient and sustainable fuels.”

      “Folks, that’s of course the fossil fuels,” he immediately added.

      Never mind that fossil fuels don’t align with any dictionary definition of “sustainable,” as oil, gas and coal reserves are limited to what’s buried in the ground, unlike renewable sources of energy. Technically speaking, fossil fuels are the opposite of sustainable energy sources — but that fact did little to slow Mr. Drevna down as he made what he called the “pro-human” case for burning fossil fuels.

    • How to Change Our Pathetic Green Infrastructure

      The United Kingdom, which is already world famous for its green gardens and even greener countryside, is about to get even greener. That’s because according to a new report from Japanese car maker Nissan, it could soon have more electric car charging stations than traditional gas stations.

      The UK is currently home to around 4,100 electric charging stations and 8,400 gas stations, but if currents trends continue, it will have more than 7,900 charging stations and just 7,870 gas stations by 2020.

      Once again our European friends are leaving us in the dust.

      With about 12 gas stations for every one electric charging station, it’s going to take a long time for the United States to catch up with the United Kingdom’s all-out embrace of the electric car revolution. So why is that?

  • Finance

    • An Olympic Event Where 1st Prize Is the Chance to Lose Billions

      Behind the scenes of the Olympic matchups and rivalries that draw large crowds here, there is stealth competition taking place in the hallways and hotels of this beach town worth tens of billions of dollars. It is a bidding war that could rival the most ferocious auction on Wall Street.

      Armies of delegates from four cities — led by a series of moguls, bankers, businessmen and government officials — have been quietly battling one another here to court the leadership of the International Olympic Committee in hopes of being awarded the 2024 Summer Games. The delegates, representing Los Angeles, Paris, Rome and Budapest, have been scoping out the venues, receiving briefings on the massive security operation and taking meetings with just about anyone who can conceivably influence the outcome.

    • India: Kerala’s Stalinist-led government pursuing pro-business agenda

      Kerala’s three month-old, Stalinist-led, Left Democratic Front (LDF) state government is eagerly pursuing a rightwing agenda aimed at wooing domestic and international big business.

      Led by Kerala Chief Minister and Communist Party of India (Marxist) Politburo Member Pinarayi Vijayan, the LDF is a hodgepodge of Stalinist and smaller regional parties. It is led by the Communist Party (Marxist) or CPM and its older, smaller twin, the Communist Party of India (CPI). It includes various split-offs from the Congress Party, the Indian bourgeoisie’s traditional party of government and the LDF’s main electoral rival in Kerala, a southwestern state with a population of almost 35 million.

      So forthright have been the pro-business policies Vijayan has pursued during his brief tenure in office, sections of the corporate media are comparing him favorably with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. An arch-right winger and rabid Hindu communalist, Modi has slashed social spending, lifted numerous caps on foreign investment, and accelerated “disinvestment,” that is, the sell-off of state-owned companies.

    • Gimme a Break! IRS Tax Loophole Can Reward Excessive Water Use in Drought-stricken West

      ProPublica’s reporting on the water crisis in the American West has highlighted any number of confounding contradictions worsening the problem: Farmers are encouraged to waste water so as to protect their legal rights to its dwindling supply in the years ahead; Las Vegas sought to impose restrictions on water use while placing no checks on its explosive population growth; the federal government has encouraged farmers to improve efficiency in watering crops, but continues to subsidize the growing of thirsty crops such as cotton in desert states like Arizona.

      Today, we offer another installment in the contradictions amid a crisis.

      In parts of the western U.S., wracked by historic drought, you can get a tax break for using an abundance of water.

    • New Clinton Transition Head Has Some TPP ‘Splainin To Do

      Salazar was also a member of the pro-TPP corporate front-group “Progressive Coalition for American Jobs”. Two March, 2015 posts, “A Trade Campaign Built On Four Pinocchios” and “Deval Patrick, Others To Advise AstroTurf Pro-TPP/Fast Track Group” exposed this group as a pro-TPP front.

      Someone needs to ask Salazar and Clinton to explain what this says about Clinton’s support/opposition to a lame-duck vote on TPP – as well as future job-killing trade deals.

    • Rock Against the TPP heads to Portland, Seattle, and San Francisco

      As the Rock Against the TPP tour continues its way around the country, word is spreading that it’s not too late for us to stop the undemocratic Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) in its tracks. The tour kicked off in Denver on July 23 with a line-up that included Tom Morello, Evangeline Lilly, and Anti-Flag, before hitting San Diego the following week where Jolie Holland headlined. You can check out the powerful vibe of the kick-off show below.

    • Obama Provokes Progressive Outrage with All-Out TPP Push

      In defiant opposition to this election’s anti-trade sentiment, President Barack Obama is provoking progressive outrage with events around the country in an “all-out push,” as Politico puts it, to ratify the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) during the upcoming lame-duck session of Congress.

    • Obama to take trade battle to the heartland

      And there have been defections since then: At least nine House GOP lawmakers who supported fast-track authority oppose TPP itself. Those include Frank Guinta, Mike Bost and Tom Reed, who have independently come out against the deal. It also includes House Transportation Chairman Bill Shuster and House Administration Chairwoman Candice Miller, both of whom signed a letter this month with four other lawmakers saying they could not support TPP in the lame duck because it doesn’t include enforceable rules on currency manipulation. Meanwhile, the Republican platform approved in Cleveland last month said no “significant” trade deals should get votes during the lame-duck session.

    • Fight for $15 plans next steps forward at national convention

      Thousands converged in Richmond, Virginia over the weekend to participate in the Fight For $15’s first-ever national convention. Central to the two-day gathering was the historic Richmond Resolution, a statement of purpose and strategy that members approved unanimously on August 13. The convention culminated on Saturday, as 8,000 people marched in sweltering heat to demonstrate their support for the resolution and their determination to see their agenda through the remainder of election season.

      From the start, it was clear that organizers would emphasize the intersectionality of racial and economic justice. According to Fight for $15 national organizer Kendall Fells, the choice of Richmond for the convention underscored this framework. “We chose Richmond because it’s the onetime capital of the Confederacy,” he told the Richmond Times-Dispatch, “and we want to draw links between the way workers are treated today and the racist history of the United States.”

    • A Victory for Postal Banking

      Underbanked and Overcharged found that over one in five households (mostly Black, Latino, or Native American) are underserved by the banking industry, costing these households an average of $3,029 per year in fees and interest just to access their own money. This additional cost takes a total of $103 billion per year out of the communities that need it most.

    • Is it time for universal basic income in the UK?

      Universal basic income is not a new idea. It was way back in 1795 that Thomas Paine, an American revolutionary, first talked about the citizen’s dividend. The idea was to pay all US citizens a regular payment as compensation for “loss of his or her natural inheritance, by the introduction of the system of landed property”.

      This ground breaking idea lay fairly dormant for a hundred years until the beginning of the 20th Century. Since then the idea has come in and out of fashion in three times, each time getting closer to becoming a political reality.

      In the early 1900s a broad selection of philosophers, writers, politicians and social movements began writing about and pushing for the idea. It grabbed the attention of many but failed to become a full movement, losing momentum when the welfare state was introduced.

      The second wave emerged in the USA in the 60s as the focus of the social movements of the day turned from civil to welfare rights culminating in 1972 Presidential election when candidates of the day backed the idea. Although it did not become a political reality due to disagreements in how the idea should be implemented, it paved the way for a number of social policies such as food stamps still present in the USA today.

    • Socialism is obvious

      As it turns out, socialism is increasingly obvious for folks on this side of the pond. Like Bernie Sanders. And Mark Workin and Melissa Young, who made the film Shift Change. And Richard Wolff, through Democracy at Work.

    • It’s time for development banks to start listening

      Almost a year ago, the United Nations set the Sustainable Development Goals, an ambitious blueprint for governments and financiers to use their political power and resources to end poverty, hunger, and disease.

      But the success (or failure) of this effort won’t depend on just the usual big players. Far more important than governments and international donors are the individuals and civic organizations that will help design, carry out, and monitor the development projects on which the whole scheme depends. Without vibrant civil societies, the Sustainable Development Goals are dead in the water.

      Only the individuals and communities meant to be the beneficiaries of development know best what their needs are and how they can be met. And it is the civil society groups and activists who can make sure that development resources reach their intended destinations and achieve their objectives. It’s the women’s cooperative in Senegal that will show how to design an effective irrigation system. It’s the community group in Bangladesh that will ensure that the schools promised in the government’s education budget are actually built.

      But the whole project of sustainable, participatory development is in danger. Around the world, groups and activists who work to improve development proposals, or speak out about problems with infrastructure or energy projects, increasingly find themselves threatened, intimidated, and even violently attacked by governments, investors, private security forces, and others who want to avoid scrutiny.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Serb Who Inspired Ethnic Cleansing of Bosnia Leads “Vote Trump” Rally in Belgrade

      The activists, led by the head of Serbia’s ultranationalist Radical Party, Vojislav Seselj, chanted “Donald Trump!” and marched outside the country’s Parliament wearing T-shirts bearing the name and likeness of the American candidate.

    • Donald Trump Proposes Banning Immigrants Based on Ideology, But Bush and Obama Got There First

      Donald Trump’s plan to apply an “ideological screening test” on would-be immigrants has been denounced as “un-American,” and “a nonstarter.” But the U.S. government already can and does bar immigration on ideological grounds – and has abused that power.

      In addition to dramatically expanding government surveillance, the Patriot Act passed by Congress soon after the 9/11 terror attacks allows the State Department to exclude anyone who it determines “undermines the United States efforts to reduce or eliminate terrorist activities.”

      The Bush administration used that power to deny entry to leftist activists and administration critics. The list of those denied visas includes South African anti-apartheid activist Adam Habib, Greek economist Yoannis Milios, Nicaraguan reformist and academic Dora Maria Tellez, Bolivian scholar Waskar Ari, and English hip-hop singer M.I.A, — just to name a few.

    • DC Cooties

      There have been a series of stories fed to the press this week intended to heighten concerns about Trump advisor Paul Manafort’s ties to Russian thugs (but not his numerous ties to other thugs). The NYT had a story about Manafort receiving cash payments from 2007 to 2012 (that is, well before Trump decided to run for President). And the AP has a story headlined, “AP Sources: Manafort tied to undisclosed foreign lobbying” that describes how Manafort’s partner, Rick Gates, funneled funds from a pro-Yanukovych non-profit to two DC lobbying firms.


      In other words, the headline and lead of this story should say something to the effect of, “Trump’s campaign manager’s partner funneled potentially illegal funds to Hillary’s campaign manager’s brother.”

      Or more succinctly: “DC is a corrupt, incestuous cesspool.”

      But it doesn’t. Instead of telling the story about the broken foreign registry system that permits elites of both parties to take funding from some unsavory characters — some we like, some we hate — the story instead spins this as a uniquely Trump and Manafort problem.

      Sure. Vladimir Putin is one scary bastard. But there are a lot of scary bastards, and they’re feeding both sides of the DC pig’s trough.

    • Where the Green Party’s Jill Stein stands on jobs, taxes and more

      Green Party candidate Jill Stein doesn’t command the kind of crowds and headlines that rivals Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump do. So many voters may not know where she stands on the issues.

    • Why Not Expand the Presidential Debates?

      Amid unprecedented dissatisfaction with the two major party candidates, public interest in opening the presidential debates to the Libertarian and Green party nominees should be honored, says Jeff Cohen.

    • America’s Journalistic Hypocrites

      The U.S. news media flip-flops on whether international law is inviolate or can be brushed aside at America’s whim – and similarly whether killing civilians is justified or not depending on who’s doing the killing, says Robert Parry.

    • Ignorance Is Not a Virtue, and Knowledge Is Not a Vice

      Ignorance is not a virtue. Knowledge is not a vice. Pointy-heads who spend years gaining expertise in a given field may make mistakes, but the remedy is to replace them with pointy-heads who have different views—not with know-nothings who would try to navigate treacherous terrain on instinct alone. (See: Trump’s policy positions on, well, anything.)

      As for the much-disparaged media, I get emails every day from people who demand to know why we in the “MSM” or “corporate media” are covering up some scandal. The emails then go on to describe said scandal at great length and in microscopic detail, often quoting stories from The Washington Post, The New York Times, NBC News or other leading media outlets. I often write back that if we’re trying to cover up the outrage in question, we’re obviously doing a lousy job.

    • Trumpism: Made in the United States by Republican Hate and Democratic Hypocrisy

      The Republican, white-nationalist Donald Trump slanders and insults Latinos, Muslims and women. He promotes violence. He mocks the disabled. He refers to himself as brilliant, citing his fortune—obscenely accumulated over decades of predatory business practices that cheat workers and consumers—as “proof.”

      He feuds with the gold star parents of a Muslim U.S. soldier killed in Iraq, claiming that he too has “sacrificed” (like the dead soldier and his parents) by employing “thousands and thousands of people.” It was a remarkable comment: Being born into wealth and in a position to hire a large number of people is not a “sacrifice.” If Trump isn’t reaping profits from all those workers under his command, he must not really be the brilliant, capitalist businessman he claims to be.

      A military veteran gives the Republican presidential candidate his Purple Heart medal, bestowed on soldiers injured in battle. Trump quips, “I always wanted a Purple Heart. This was a lot easier.” Unreal. Donald Trump, Mr. Sacrifice, used college deferments to avoid the draft during the Vietnam War.

      How is this noxious candidate even within shouting distance of Hillary Clinton? Let’s separate the fact from the fiction.

    • Jill Stein: ‘There Should Have Been a Full Investigation’ of Clinton’s Email Server (Video)

      On Monday, news broke that the Federal Bureau of Investigation is turning over to Congress information from its investigation of Hillary Clinton’s private email server. It’s expected that the agency will hand over “notes from the interviews of Clinton and other witnesses in the investigation.”

      In a CNN interview with Carol Costello on Monday, Green Party presidential nominee Jill Stein explained her stance on the email scandal. “I think there should have been a full investigation,” she said. “I think the American people are owed an explanation for what happened and why top-secret information was put at risk.”

      “Do you think that that [congressional] oversight committee should open up an investigation into Mrs. Clinton’s private email server?” Costello asked.

      “Yes, I do, because we’re talking about state secrets,” Stein replied. “If [Clinton] wasn’t aware that she was violating State Department rules, it raises real issues about her competency.”

    • A Still Uncertain Election

      In recent weeks the billionaire businessman has generated extreme turmoil within his own party by mocking the Muslim parents of a U.S. Army captain killed in Iraq, refusing to support the re-election of key Republicans (such as House Speaker Paul D. Ryan), questioning why he shouldn’t use nuclear weapons, and — to top it off — seeming to call for gun owners to protect the 2nd Amendment by, well, shooting Clinton. There’s no telling what absurdity he will utter next.

    • Trump Campaign Blames “Scammers” After Being Busted (Again) For Soliciting Foreign Donations

      An Australian Member of Parliament is still receiving messages from the Donald Trump presidential campaign asking for money, more than a month after the illegal solicitations were first reported to the Department of Justice and the Federal Elections Commission (FEC).

      MP Terri Butler informed The Hill that she received a Trump fundraising email on August 14. It was the latest in a series of automated fundraising messages from the GOP nominee’s campaign that Butler and other foreign lawmakers have received, dating back to June.

      It is against the law for campaigns to receive or even seek out foreign donations. The Trump campaign’s repeated violations suggest that it is either flouting federal election rules or that it lacks internal controls to maintain compliant mailing lists.

      A Trump campaign official, however, blamed outside agitators. They told The Hill that the campaign “routinely checks” their mailing lists for foreign nationals, but that sometimes “scammers will continue to try to add them to our system.”

    • Why Did Clinton Just Tap a Pro-TPP, Pro-KXL, Pro-Fracking Politician to Head Her Transition Team?

      Hillary Clinton has announced former Interior Secretary Ken Salazar as the head of her transition team. Salazar is a former U.S. senator from Colorado who now works at WilmerHale, one of the most influential lobbying firms in Washington. Some groups have criticized Salazar’s selection due to his vocal support of fracking, the Trans-Pacific Partnership and the Keystone XL pipeline. In addition to Ken Salazar, other leaders of the transition team include former Obama National Security Adviser Tom Donilon, Center for American Progress head Neera Tanden, former Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm and Maggie Williams, the director of Harvard’s Institute of Politics. For more, we speak with David Sirota, senior editor for investigations at the International Business Times.

    • The phony populism of Donald Trump

      Last week, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump suggested that “Second Amendment people” could rise up against Hillary Clinton if she wins the election and called President Obama “the founder of ISIS.” He also delivered a policy speech at the Detroit Economic Club that, understandably, received much less attention.

      Given Trump’s near-constant breaches of common decency, many people have given up on parsing the details of his policies, which can feel at times like complaining about the music in a crashing car. Yet while Trump’s affinity for regressive economics is nowhere near the top of the list of reasons to oppose him, there is still a real possibility that he could become the nation’s chief policymaker, and the policies he outlined last week counteract one of the prevailing narratives of the election — that Trump is a “populist.”

      Over the course of the campaign, Trump has been consistently portrayed as a populist candidate, the Republican counterpart to Bernie Sanders in a race shaped by widespread anger toward the political and economic elite. This perception has been reinforced by Trump’s ritual humiliation of the Republican Party establishment in the primaries, as well as his overwhelming reliance on the support of working-class whites.

    • Addressing White Privilege Is Only a Small Step in Combating Systemic Racism

      Clinton has had trouble in the past for failing to listen to the concerns of people of color. Take, for example, the time she shut down Black Lives Matter protesters at one of her speaking events (something her husband is also guilty of doing). And Kaine has faced criticism for his support of Project Exile when he was mayor of Richmond, Va. The project “was to literally live up to its name by making illegal gun possession a federal, not a state, crime, which allowed prosecutors to send convicted felons, most of them black, to a distant federal penitentiary for at least five years,” writes James Oliphant of Reuters.

    • Libertarians Love Civil Liberties—but Won’t Use Government to Protect Them From Capitalists

      So-called libertarianism sounds like a good idea, and many who claim the ideology are sincerely interested in defending otherwise-defenseless groups and individuals from predatory or indifferent government.

      But in this forum hosted by Fusion, presidential candidate Gary Johnson and running mate Bill Weld revealed the limitations of their commitment to civil liberties—even if the journalists who questioned them did little to highlight the discrepancy.

      “Gov. Johnson, you’ve voiced your support for same-sex marriage, saying it’s a matter of freedom and liberty,” said Fusion fellow Anna Sterling. “But under the guise of religious freedom—as you mentioned earlier, Gov. Weld—there’s been a wave of legislation across the country that’s essentially legalizing discrimination against LGBT people. How do you reconcile these two issues?”

      Shifting in his chair, Johnson replied: “Well— uh— by rec— I’m opposed to that legislation. I am outright opposed to that legislation, recognizing exactly what it is that you’re saying, that it is discriminatory against the LGBT community. And we refuse to be a part of any sort of discrimination. And, yes, that is happening. It’s happening! Stop!”

      So there you have it. Johnson and Weld dislike discrimination, but they’re not going to use the power of government to stop legislation that fosters it.

    • Green Party candidates to make their case at CNN town hall

      Hoping to reignite the “political revolution” of Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, Green Party presidential nominee Jill Stein and her running mate, Ajamu Baraka, are set to participate in a live town hall event Wednesday on CNN at 9 p.m. ET.
      The two will face questions from voters and CNN’s Chris Cuomo during the hour-long event as they seek to make their liberal platform known to the public.

      Stein, a retired medical doctor, environmental activist and musician, made a filed bid for the presidency in 2012, but this time around, she has said things are different.

    • Hillary Used the Word “Assassination” in 2008 Anti-Obama Campaign

      The Main Stream Media (MSM) is once again slinging mud at Donald Trump over his comments at a South Carolina rally. Hillary’s campaign joined in the claim that he encouraged violence against her. But Trump said nothing about violence. Absolutely nothing.(1)

      On the other hand in 2008, Hillary Clinton used the term “assassination” directed at Barack Obama. She used it to justify remaining in the race long after her chances had evaporated. That is “forgotten” now by the MSM amidst their unremitting attacks on Trump.

      Let us remind ourselves. It was May of 2008. Hillary had no hopes of winning the nomination since Obama had secured the delegates he needed. Many in the media were asking why she insisted on staying in the race.

      In an interview with the editorial board of a South Dakota paper, the Argus Leader, on May 23, she was asked why she was hanging on. It made no sense said the editors. In answer Clinton said that she was being pressured to drop out and that it was “ a mystery” to her why that pressure was being applied.

      She went on to say that assassination might yet occur in the presidential race, referring to Robert Kennedy, thus: ““My husband did not wrap up the nomination in 1992 until he won the California primary somewhere in the middle of June, right? We all remember Bobby Kennedy was assassinated in June in California.”

    • Through the Venal Looking Glass, the Donald’s Doing Swell

      Still, Trumpsters are a hardy if deluded lot – 70% reportedly believe that a Clinton win would be a rigged win – so they are making up new numbers, sources and claims of media bias to explain the debacle. Their Mainstream Media Accountability Survey offers a startling peek into their alternate universe, with 25 leading questions to prove that, yes, the media unfairly characterizes people of faith, ignores the failure of Obamacare, believes social justice activists are re-writing American history, takes their great leader’s statements out of context, turns a blind eye to Planned Parenthood’s worst actions, “wrongly attributes gun violence to 2nd Amendment rights” and does other bad stuff. Seeking to combat the obviously skewed polls, the right-wing Breitbart.com also did their own unassailable poll; alas, it likewise found that Clinton really is winning.

    • Ain’t no party like a Green Party: Jill Stein answers questions in townhall

      The Green Party’s presidential nominee, Jill Stein, went on CNN to directly address voters and their questions. Along with her running mate Amaju Baraka, Stein attempted to pitch her platform to those still undecided.

    • NYT: Trump Being “Advised” for Clinton Debates by Disgraced Roger Ailes

      Though Roger Ailes resigned his top seat at Fox News last month following accusations and lawsuits over sexual harassment of female employees, the New York Times reports Tuesday that Donald Trump has brought the disgraced executive aboard his campaign to “advise” him ahead of upcoming presidential debates.

    • Is Trump Sabotaging His Campaign Because He Never Really Wanted the Job in the First Place?

      Donald Trump never actually wanted to be President of the United States. I know this for a fact. I’m not going to say how I know it. I’m not saying that Trump and I shared the same agent or lawyer or stylist or, if we did, that that would have anything to do with anything. And I’m certainly not saying that I ever overheard anything at those agencies or in the hallways of NBC or anywhere else. But there are certain people reading this right now, they know who they are, and they know that every word in the following paragraphs actually happened.

      Trump was unhappy with his deal as host and star of his hit NBC show, “The Apprentice” (and “The Celebrity Apprentice”). Simply put, he wanted more money. He had floated the idea before of possibly running for president in the hopes that the attention from that would make his negotiating position stronger. But he knew, as the self-proclaimed king of the dealmakers, that saying you’re going to do something is bupkus — DOING it is what makes the bastards sit up and pay attention.

    • Donnie’s Little Lies are Huuuuuge

      An old saying asserts that falsehoods come in three escalating levels: “Lies, damn lies, and statistics.” Now, however, we’ve been given an even-higher level of intentional deception: Policy speeches by Donald Trump.

      Take his recent highly publicized address outlining specific economic policies he would push to benefit hard-hit working families. It’s an almost-hilarious compilation of Trumpian fabrications, including his bold, statesmanlike discourse on the rank unfairness of the estate tax: “No family will have to pay the death tax,” he solemnly pledged, adopting the right-wing pejorative for a tax assessed on certain properties of the dearly departed. Fine, but next came his slick prevarication: “American workers have paid taxes their whole lives, and they should not be taxed again at death.” Workers? The tax exempts the first $5.4 million of any deceased person’s estate, meaning 99.8 percent of Americans pay absolutely nothing. So Trump is trying to deceive real workers into thinking he’s standing for them, when in fact it’s his own wealth he’s protecting.

      What a maverick! What a shake-’em-up outsider! What an anti-establishment fighter for working stiffs!

    • Enhancing Turnout: A Primary Concern

      In some states — Minnesota, for example — an eligible citizen can both register and vote on the date of the primary, thereby permitting those who aren’t as politically involved to still choose a nominee. Most states, though, don’t permit that option, and most impose deadlines by which a registered voter must change his or her affiliation in order to vote a different ticket in the primary. New York state, taking that rule to the extreme, requires an individual to make such a change 193 days before its April primary, so it’s no surprise that turnout in New York hovered at around 20 percent. Few people pay attention to the election that far out, and fewer still have chosen a candidate by the deadline. This is especially troubling for the growing number of Americans who identify as independent, aligning themselves with a candidate rather than a party.

    • Voter ID Laws Are Finally Being Outed for Their Discriminatory Intent

      Over the last five years, there has been a dramatic rise in states enacting or strengthening laws that require voters to show ID at the polls. Supporters of voter ID laws claim that they are necessary to prevent voter fraud — but studies have consistently shown that this type of fraud is exceptionally rare. And in fact, laws like this disproportionately affect minority, elderly, and low-income groups that tend to vote in favor of progressive causes.

    • Green Party Town Hall to Make Case Against ‘Same Old Political Duopoly’

      Stein and her running partner, human rights activist and writer Ajamu Baraka, will hold the event on CNN at 9:00pm EDT. It will be moderated by the network’s Chris Cuomo, in what is poised to be Stein’s “most high-profile moment” in her bid to shake up the 2016 election, CNN writes.

    • What to watch at CNN’s Green Party town hall

      The Green Party is about to have a chance to show voters it is worth casting a ballot for.
      CNN on Wednesday evening is set to hold another of its live town hall events, this time with Green Party presidential nominee Jill Stein and her running mate, Ajamu Baraka.

      The prime-time event moderated the CNN’s Chris Cuomo is set to be Stein’s most high-profile moment in her bid to upset the 2016 election, four years after she first ran and failed to gain enough traction to make it into the general election debates.


      Polls have consistently shown majorities of voters have unfavorable views of Clinton and many have said she is dishonest. In an interview on CNN this Monday, Stein appealed to these sentiments, slamming Clinton’s email practices as secretary of state and saying the issue raised “real questions about her competency.”

    • In Major Shake-Up, Trump Hires Breitbart Exec and Citizens United Propagandist Bannon to Lead Campaign

      In what is being billed as a major campaign shake-up, Republican presidential candidate Donald J. Trump has hired Breitbart News executive chairman Stephen K. Bannon as his campaign’s chief executive, according to the New York Times.

    • “Extreme Vetting”: Trump Vows Ideological Test for Immigrants & Return to McCarthy-Era Repression

      Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump invoked the Cold War as he pledged to wage war against what he described as the “ideology of radical Islam” during a speech in Youngstown, Ohio, on Monday. Trump also vowed to institute “extreme vetting” of visa applicants. He also said he’d create a commission on radical Islam, keep Guantánamo Bay open and stop trying people accused of terrorism in civilian courts. For more, we speak with Matt Taibbi, award-winning journalist with Rolling Stone magazine. We also speak with Phyllis Bennis, author of “Understanding ISIS and the New Global War on Terror.” And we speak with Linda Sarsour, director of the first Muslim online organizing platform, MPower Change, and co-founder of the Muslim Democratic Club of New York.

    • 2016 From the Top Down: Trump Looms Over Down-Ticket Races

      This is what the corporate “news” media wanted when they put Bernie Sanders on mute while talking about what a card Trump was as he tore a wide swath through the concept of decency. They wanted bedlam, and now they have it. Republicans are making for the exits of Trump Tower by the score. They’re talking about his extreme recklessness, about the risk of giving him control of the nukes, and most prominently, about replacing him at the top of the ticket. Sorry, folks: Unless God Herself boils out of Heaven and makes it so, you’re stuck with the yam ham sweet potato man until they sweep the rubble off the floor in November. Turn off the lights when you leave.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • Donald Trump Says He’ll Turn Off The Internet For Terrorists [Ed: Not a new plan, with Bill Gates named]

      Almost no one covered this because everyone was focused on other stuff in the speech about his new “tests” for letting foreigners into the country. But this still remains a pretty big concern, in part because of just how technically clueless this is. Sure, we’ve seen some others suggest similarly dumb ideas, but no one seems to bother to think through how this might be done and what a mess it would create.

      There’s no way you can “disrupt” or block them from using the internet without also cutting off millions of innocent people — many of whom almost certainly rely on the internet for all sorts of important things. And, on top of that, any solution would be of only limited effectiveness in the long run anyway. There are increasingly new ways and new paths to get online — whether through wireless mesh networks or, eventually, from things like drones and satellites. Thinking that you can magically take an entire group of people off the internet is profoundly silly.

    • Former UC Davis Chancellor Katehi Way More Obsessed With Her Online Reputation Than Initially Thought

      Earlier this year, we discussed how UC Davis detailed in a report that it spent $175k with a reputation management firm to try bury the 2011 pepper-spraying incident that has become so infamous, as well as to bolster the positive reputation and search results of its former Chancellor, Linda Katehi. While Katehi was still Chancellor, she had issued something of a mea culpa that was unfortunately riddled with excuse-making and vendor-blaming, but in which she also appeared to take responsibility for the report’s contents. Students protested anyway, as they should have, given how the report detailed that Katehi was far more interested in her own reputation online than she was in any kind of reform of campus police. Which, if you’ll remember, was what kicked off all of the negative reporting starting in 2011 to begin with.

      But now a new report has been issued that makes it clear that the $175k with the one reputation management vendor was just the tip of the iceberg, and that Katehi’s obsession with her own online reputation was far more serious than anyone had known. Indeed, her attempts to meddle in her own online search results started long before the 2011 pepper-spraying incident.

    • NPR The Latest Website To Prevent You From Commenting Because It Simply Adores ‘Relationships’ And ‘Conversation’

      For several years now we’ve documented the rise in websites that shutter their comment sections, effectively muzzling their own on-site communities. Usually this is because websites are too lazy and cheap to moderate or cultivate real conversation, or they’re not particularly keen on having readers point out their inevitable errors in such a conspicuous location. But you can’t just come out and admit this — so what we get is all manner of disingenuous prattle from website editors about how the comments section is being closed because they just really value conversation, or are simply trying to build better relationships.

    • Enigma Software Countersued For Waging A ‘Smear Campaign’ Against Site It Claimed Defamed It

      Enigma Software — creator of the SpyHunter suite of malware/adware removal tools — recently sued BleepingComputer for forum posts by a third-party volunteer moderator that it claimed were defamatory. In addition, it brought Lanham Act trademark infringement claims against the site — all in response to a couple of posts that portrayed it in a negative light.

      The posts pointed out that the company had a history of threatening critics with litigation and had engaged in a variety of deceptive tactics, including triggering false positives to promote its spyware-cleaning products and placing paying customers on a periodic payment plan that ran in perpetuity under the guise of a one-time “removal” payment.

      A somewhat bizarre decision by the judge presiding over the case allowed Enigma’s questionable complaint to survive BleepingComputer’s motion to dismiss. In doing so, the decision also suggested the judge was willing to poke holes in Section 230 protections — something that’s been happening far too frequently in recent months.

      This bogus lawsuit should never have gotten this far. Enigma’s original defamation claims contained wording found nowhere in the posts it didn’t like, and the company had to make several inferences on behalf of the website it was suing to cobble together its complaint. The lack of a decent anti-SLAPP law in New York kept its defamation claims from being ejected on arrival. Faced with having to litigate its way out of this stupid mess, BleepingComputer has gone on the offensive.

      The assertions made in its countersuit suggest Enigma Computer has been — for quite some time — fighting speech it doesn’t like (the forum posts it sued over) with more speech. Unfortunately, if the “more speech” deployed is just shadiness and bogus claims (the same sort of thing it’s suing BC for), then “more speech” isn’t really a remedy.

    • The ‘Lolita’ test: Lawsuit alleges censorship at the Minnesota Fringe Festival

      One of the most compelling dramas at the Minnesota Fringe Festival didn’t play out under the lights. Two actors with minor parts performed entirely through off-stage narration. Reviews were mixed.

      Over several years of entries at Fringe, writer/performer/provocateur Sean Neely has forged a reputation. To some, he’s a daring artist whose bold entries stand out at a festival dedicated to challenging pieces. To others, he’s a publicity-hungry miscreant whose foul “art” doesn’t fit the term.

      Neely specializes in plays that star him telling a first-person story. A couple years ago, an unsuspecting audience watched him read from a “journal,” dropping racial epithets and sketching a plan for a mass shooting.

      At 2015’s festival, Neely acted the part of a man who confessed to his dying mother that he’d raped two women, and announced his desire to assault a third. He started each performance assuring the crowd the whole story was true.

      When it was over, audience members staggered out, many wondering aloud if they’d just witnessed the confession of a serial rapist.

      At one performance, police investigators sat in the crowd. Afterward, they met Neely backstage and told him someone had reported the show, but said they’d seen nothing criminal.

      Neely wants his performances to convey “the horror” of despicable acts by bringing audiences into the mind of the “actual perpetrator.”

    • #PowerShift Docu-Series Explores The Importance Of Social Media In Countries Where Censorship Is Rife

      In countries like Turkey, Iran, China and North Korea the local population are facing a new form of censorship: the censorship of the web.

      By controlling the flow of traffic on the internet, censorship of varying degrees has allowed these countries to block websites like YouTube, effectively ban certain hashtags on Twitter and then promote their own political agenda.

    • Activist group in bid to force Facebook change

      The activist group SumOfUs has stepped up pressure on Facebook after the social media giant censored the account of a black woman who, along with her five-year-old son, was caught in a standoff with police in Maryland in the US.

      The woman, 23-year-old Korryn Gaines, was later shot dead by the police. On her account, she was recounting the standoff that led to the injury of her son and, ultimately, her death.

      The incident occurred on 3 August and police claimed they made their request to Facebook after Gaines’ followers urged her not to comply with negotiators’ bids to make her surrender peacefully, according to NBC News.

    • Univision buys Gawker Media for $135 million

      Univision, which owns the largest Spanish-language television network in the United States, has recently been expanding its online holdings. Earlier this year it bought out Disney’s stake in the Fusion network and website. Univision also expanded investments in The Onion, a humor site, and The Root, a site that focuses on African-American news.

    • Peter Thiel: The Online Privacy Debate Won’t End With Gawker

      Last month, I spoke at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland because I believe our country is on the wrong track, and we need to solve real problems instead of fighting fake culture wars. I’m glad that an arena full of Republicans stood up to applaud when I said I was proud to be gay, because gay pride shouldn’t be a partisan issue. All people deserve respect, and nobody’s sexuality should be made a public fixation.

    • Infamous hacker Guccifer bounces back with leaked docs after Twitter ban

      INFAMOUS AND undeniably busy hacker Guccifer 2.0 was briefly banned from Twitter this weekend, but emerged unabashed with boasts about the leaking of contact details on 193 current and former members of Congress.

      Guccifer 2.0 had already made a name for himself, but won a lot of attention when he released the details of US Democrat politicians late last week.

      Affected potential candidates for Congress were shocked and appalled, and Guccifer somehow had his Twitter account suspended and some elements of his WordPress blog removed.

    • London police to create a troll-hunting social media unit

      In a bid to tackle rising levels of abuse on social media, London’s Metropolitan Police is to set up a five-person team of specialist officers tasked with targeting online trolls. Scotland Yard will spend £1.7 million on the unit, called the Online Hate Crime Hub, which will provide “targeted and effective services for victims”, offer advanced intelligence on offenders and strengthen links between police, communities and social media companies like Facebook and Twitter.

      Although UK authorities have taken steps to outlaw online abuse, victims have complained that police forces have been slow to act or been left feeling like their voices haven’t been heard. The Online Hate Crime Hub aims to better support those targeted by trolls, unmasking perpetrators who have operated under “veil of anonymity” provided by social media services.

    • London’s Met Police to set up an anti-troll brigade

      LONDON’S BOYS and ladies in blue will soon go on the virtual beat in a bid to seek out and destroy, or probably discourage, online trolls.

      Yes, the desk-based Metropolitan Police resource will be there to look out for hateful speakers and anyone who has things to say that are designed to be offensive and hurtful to others.

      Trolls are a problem, and not in the under the bridge sense, and can cause people to be upset and, on occasion, to actually leave social media networks.

      The Online Hate Crime Hub will deal with the trolling problems, just like Twitter is doing, and with the victims, according to the London Mayor’s Office and a range of reports.

    • Metropolitan Police to target online hate crime and abuse

      A new team of specialist police officers is being set up to investigate online hate crimes, including abuse on Twitter and Facebook.

      The London-based hub will include a team of five officers who will support victims and identify online abuse.

      The two-year pilot will cost £1.7m and has received £452,000 from the Home Office, the London Mayor’s office said.

    • Adoor Gopalakrishnan completes 50 years in cinema; criticises censorship and piracy
    • Adoor Gopalakrishnan against all kinds of censorship
    • Adoor Gopalakrishnan: I don’t believe in censorship
    • Misa critises media censorship
    • Amos Yee back in court over offensive videos
    • Amos Yee invokes court process to decide on trial position
    • Teenage blogger Amos Yee back in court
    • Trial of Singaporean vlogger Amos Yee ‘deeply worrying’ for speech freedom – UN expert
    • Singaporean teen blogger heads back to court to face fresh charges
    • Now Reading U.N. Backs Singaporean Blogger as More Jail Time Looms
    • Foul-Mouthed Teenager Challenges Singapore’s Puritanism
    • Amos Yee represents himself in court to stand trial against 8 charges
  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Alleged NSA data dump contain hacking tools rarely seen

      A stolen cache of files that may belong to the National Security Agency contains genuine hacking tools that not only work, but show a level of sophistication rarely seen, according to security researchers.

      That includes malware that can infect a device’s firmware and persist, even if the operating system is reinstalled.

      “It’s terrifying because it demonstrates a serious level of expertise and technical ability,” said Brendan Dolan-Gavitt, an assistant professor at New York University’s school of engineering.

      He’s been among the researchers going over the sample files from the cache, after an anonymous group called the Shadow Brokers posted them online.

      Allegedly, the files were stolen from the Equation Group, a top cyberespionage team that may be connected with the NSA.

    • Hack of NSA tools delivers another blow to encryption bill backers

      The disclosure that hackers stole some of the National Security Agency’s most valuable hacking tools is reinforcing arguments made by the tech industry and digital privacy community against legislation that would mandate “back doors” into encrypted tech products.

    • Analyzing the NSA code breach in the context of recent cybersecurity events

      On Saturday, programming code for National Security Agency hacking tools was shared online. The content appears to be legitimate, but it is not clear if it was intentionally hacked or accidentally leaked. Hari Sreenivasan speaks with The Washington Post’s Ellen Nakashima and Paul Vixie of Farsight Security about where this development fits in the context of other recent cybersecurity breaches.

    • Is VA.gov Website Outage Linked To NSA Website Hack?

      Tuesday carried a curious coincidence when reports surfaced that there was a systemwide VA.gov website outage at the same time the NSA website was reportedly hacked.

    • Bad weather blamed for knocking NSA’s website offline for two days

      Mystery solved.

      The NSA says the weather was at fault for bringing down its website for almost two days.

      The shadowy intelligence agency tweeted mid-afternoon Wednesday that it was a “tech issue” related to Monday’s storm in the area of the government agency’s headquarters in Fort Meade, Maryland.

      Issues with the NSA’s website were first noted around the same time on Monday.

      Kevin Beaumont, a security architect, said on Twitter that the NSA’s external services — including its website and other web-facing non-internal services — were brought offline, though he suspected that the agency itself “pulled [the] plug.”

    • What Exactly Are the NSA Hackers Trying to Accomplish?

      It’s old news by now that all of our most secret data is vulnerable, no matter how hard we try to protect it. If you’re surprised that the Russian government was apparently able to steal code developed by the National Security Agency, then you haven’t been paying attention to how consistently every level of computer security, in pretty much every sector of the government and in the private world, has been breached over and over again.

    • ShadowBrokers’ Leak Has ‘Strong Connection’ to Equation Group

      A high-stakes game of attribution started by a group claiming to have a cache of exploits belonging to the Equation Group took a somewhat definitive turn Tuesday afternoon. Researchers at Kaspersky Lab yesterday confirmed a connection between the tools currently up for auction by the ShadowBrokers and Equation Group exploits and malware that researchers at the security company uncovered and disclosed in February 2015.

    • Kaspersky confirms connection between ShadowBrokers’ malware and NSA-linked Equation Group

      Identical implementations of RC5 and RC6 encryption key-block ciphers confirm link between malware cache and Equation Group

    • Cisco confirms two of the Shadow Brokers’ ‘NSA’ vulns are real

      It’s looking increasingly likely that the hacking tools put up for auction by the Shadow Brokers group are real – after Cisco confirmed two exploits in the leaked archive are legit.

      The two exploits, listed in the archive directory as EPICBANANA and EXTRABACON, can be used to achieve remote code execution on Cisco firewall products. A vulnerability exploited by one of the tools was patched in 2011 but the other exploit’s vulnerability is entirely new – and there is no fix available at the moment.

      What’s worse is that the unpatched programming blunder has been lingering in Cisco hardware for years, since at least 2013. Whoever knew about the hole obviously didn’t tell the manufacturer of the vulnerable gear.

    • Cisco Acknowledges ASA Zero Day Exposed by ShadowBrokers

      Cisco has quickly provided a workaround for one of two vulnerabilities that was disclosed in the ShadowBrokers’ data dump and issued an advisory on the other, which was patched in 2011, in order to raise awareness among its customers.

      The networking giant today released advisories saying that it had acknowledged both flaws in its Adaptive Security Appliance (ASA), the newest of which was rated high severity; both of the vulnerabilities enable remote code execution.

    • The Situation Report: The Driving Forces Behind NSA’s Reorganization [Ed: So much bad news for the NSA this week. Quick! Push some puff piece out through a - cough cough - ‘journalist’]

      The National Security Agency has operated for decades under a well-defined mission: conduct foreign signals intelligence, support military operations, and defend national security systems from attacks. But major changes in the cyber threat landscape during the last few years have forced the agency to embrace a new reorganization strategy that officials argue is urgently needed to defend the nation from an onslaught of state-sponsored hacking attacks.

    • Was NSA Hacked? Leak from ‘Shadow Brokers’ suggests so, Russian intelligence suspected

      As our Cory Doctorow reported previously, a previously unheard of hacker group calling themselves The Shadow Brokers announced this week it had stolen a trove of ready-to-use cyber weapons from The Equation Group (previously), an advanced cyberweapons dealer believed to be operating on behalf of, or within, the NSA.

      The Shadow Brokers are auctioning the weaponized malware off to the highest bidder.

      From Moscow on Twitter today, NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden laid out his theory for how the exploits were captured, and what relation that has to the revelations he made when he blew the whistle on illegal NSA spying in 2013.

    • News Sites Realizing That Relying On Facebook For Traffic Might Not Have Been Wise

      Over the years, we at Techdirt have tended to resist the kinds of “audience growth strategies” that many other news publications have taken — perhaps to our own detriment. I remember when Digg was the new hotness and generating lots of traffic for news sites. Someone approached us about getting our stories highly promoted on Digg and I told them I didn’t want to game the system, and would rather let people find us organically. I know plenty of other news sites did play plenty of games. The same thing happened once everyone (and more) left Digg for Reddit. Reddit did drive a lot of traffic to us for a few years, though it’s tapered off in the past few years. And, obviously, over the last couple of years, all the publications have been talking about Facebook and how it drives so much traffic.

      A year or so ago, I was at an event and chatting with a guy from another news site who nonchalantly tossed off the claim that “well, every news site these days now knows how to game Facebook for an extra 10 to 20 million views…” and I thought “huh, actually, I have no idea how to do that.” All of this might make me very bad at running a media site (I certainly know of some other news sites that used gaming social media to leverage themselves into massive acquisition offers from legacy media companies). But, to me, it meant being able to focus on actually creating good content, rather than figuring out how to game the system or who I should be sucking up to for traffic. I’ll admit to struggling with this issue at times — sometimes wondering if we’re missing out on people reading our stuff that would like it. And, every once in a while, we’ll do little things here or there to focus on “optimizing” our site for this or that source of traffic. But it’s never been a huge focus.

    • Civil Rights Coalition files FCC Complaint Against Baltimore Police Department for Illegally Using Stingrays to Disrupt Cellular Communications

      This week the Center for Media Justice, ColorOfChange.org, and New America’s Open Technology Institute filed a complaint with the Federal Communications Commission alleging the Baltimore police are violating the federal Communications Act by using cell site simulators, also known as Stingrays, that disrupt cellphone calls and interfere with the cellular network—and are doing so in a way that has a disproportionate impact on communities of color.

      Stingrays operate by mimicking a cell tower and directing all cellphones in a given area to route communications through the Stingray instead of the nearby tower. They are especially pernicious surveillance tools because they collect information on every single phone in a given area—not just the suspect’s phone—this means they allow the police to conduct indiscriminate, dragnet searches. They are also able to locate people inside traditionally-protected private spaces like homes, doctors’ offices, or places of worship. Stingrays can also be configured to capture the content of communications.

    • Complaint Says Baltimore Cops’ Use of Stingray Spy Tool Violates Civil Rights

      Civil rights groups filed a complaint with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) on Tuesday, alleging that the Baltimore Police Department’s (BPD) unlicensed use of the controversial cell phone surveillance tool known as Stingray violates the law through racial discrimination and willful interference with cell phone calls.

      The complaint, filed by the Center for Media Justice, Color of Change, and the New America Foundation’s Open Technology Institute, calls on the FCC to “address harms caused by BPD’s unauthorized use” of Stingrays, also known as cell site (C.S.) simulators.

      “The FCC has legal obligations to protect against harmful interference caused by unauthorized transmissions on licensed spectrum, to manage spectrum to promote the safety of life and property, to ensure availability of emergency calling services, and to strive to make communications networks available to the public without discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, or sex,” the plaintiffs write.

    • Snowden Calls ‘Shadow Brokers’ Hack of NSA Hackers ‘Significant’ Turn in Spy Wars
    • Demand California Fix CalGang, A Deeply Flawed Gang Database

      California’s gang database contains data on more than 200,000 people that police believe are associated with gangs, often based on the flimsiest of evidence. Law enforcement officials would have you believe that it’s crucial to their jobs, that they use it ever so responsibly, and that it would never, ever result in unequal treatment of people of color.

      But you shouldn’t take their word for it. And you don’t have to take ours either, or the dozens of other civil rights organizations calling for a CalGang overhaul. But you should absolutely listen to the California State Auditor’s investigation.

    • NSA cyber weapons ‘hacked’ by mysterious Shadow Brokers
    • Edward Snowden: Russia probably behind NSA leak

      On Monday, the security world was rocked by a sensational claim: A mysterious new group calling itself “Shadow Brokers” claimed it had hacked into an elite NSA-linked hacking group and was auctioning off cyberweapons.

    • Edward Snowden: Russia probably behind NSA leak
    • Privacy lawsuit over Gmail will move forward

      Thanks to a judge’s order, Google must face another proposed class-action lawsuit over its scanning of Gmail. The issue is a lingering headache for the search giant, which has faced allegations for years now that scanning Gmail in order to create personalized ads violates US wiretapping laws.

      In a 38-page order (PDF), US District Judge Lucy Koh rejected Google’s argument that the scanning takes place within the “ordinary course of business.”

      “Not every practice that is routine or legitimate will fall within the scope of the ‘ordinary course of business’,” Judge Koh wrote.

    • LinkedIn sues 100 individuals for scraping user data from the site

      Professional social network LinkedIn is suing 100 anonymous individuals for data scraping. It is hoped that a court order will be able to reveal the identities of those responsible for using bots to harvest user data from the site.

      The Microsoft-owned service takes pride in the relationship it has with its users and the security it offers their data. Its lawsuit seeks to use the data scrapers’ IP addresses and then discover their true identity in order to take action against them.

      LinkedIn says that a botnet has been used to gain access to user data which is then passed on to third parties. The site has a number of measures in place to prevent this type of data harvesting, but it seems that scrapers have found a way to circumvent these security restrictions. A series of automated tools — FUSE, Quicksand, Sentinel, and Org Block — are used to monitor suspicious activity and block scraping.

    • The Detectives Who Never Forget a Face

      A predator was stalking London. He would board a crowded bus at rush hour, carrying a Metro newspaper, and sit next to a young woman. Opening the newspaper to form a curtain, he would reach over and grope her. The man first struck one summer afternoon in 2014, on the No. 253 bus in North London, grabbing the crotch of a fifteen-year-old girl. She fled the bus and called the police, but by that time he had disappeared. A few months later, in October, he assaulted a twenty-one-year-old woman on the upper level of a double-decker as it approached the White Hart Lane stadium. She escaped to the lower level, but he followed her, and he continued to pursue her even after she got off the bus. She flagged down a passerby, and the man fled. In March, 2015, he groped a sixteen-year-old on the No. 168. On each occasion, the man slipped away from the crime scene by blending into a crowd of commuters. But, each time, he left a trace, because public buses in London are monitored by closed-circuit-television systems.

      When transit police played back the footage of each sexual assault, they saw the same middle-aged man in spectacles and a black parka. He had thinning hair and a dark mustache that was going gray. After consulting the electronic readers on each bus, investigators isolated one fare card that had been used on all three. If the pass had been bought with a credit card, it could be linked to the perpetrator. But the man had paid for it in cash.

      The transit police found themselves in a familiar predicament: a case in which a crime is captured on video but no one can identify the perpetrator. London has more than eight million residents; unless somebody recognizes a suspect, CCTV footage is effectively useless. Investigators circulated photographs of the man with the mustache, but nobody came forward with information. So they turned to a tiny unit that had recently been established by London’s Metropolitan Police Service. In Room 901 of New Scotland Yard, the police had assembled half a dozen officers who shared an unusual talent: they all had a preternatural ability to recognize human faces.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Third French city bans ‘burkini’ after brawl at beach

      A third French mayor has banned women from wearing “burkinis” after a brawl over the swimsuit broke out between residents of a Corsican village and beachgoers of North African descent.

      Around 100 police were called to a beach in the village of Sisco, near the island capital Bastia, on Saturday.

      The details of the fight itself are murky. Local press reported that it began when a group of teenagers and their families took photographs of women swimming in so-called burkinis — bathing suits that cover most of the body except for the face, feet and hands, which satisfy Islamic standards of modesty for women.

      A girl who witnessed the altercation told a slightly different version of the story: Three men started arguing with a tourist they accused of taking pictures of the women in burkinis. She recounted that version of events at an impromptu rally the following day in Bastia. French media that covered the event did not name her, identifying her only as “a minor.”

    • Tribes watch GOP effort to wrest control of federal land

      Two years after a Nevada cattle rancher and his allies took up arms in protest of U.S. government grazing fees, Republican Party activists are asking that the feds return certain lands to the states. The proposal was included this July in the 2016 GOP platform — essentially a wish-list of legislation, a vision for the next president and Congress.

      That’s a big deal in the West, where nearly half of the land is owned by the federal government. As of 2015, the Bureau of Land Management oversaw 248 million surface acres and approximately 700 million acres of subsurface mineral estates throughout the country.

      The Republican proposal hasn’t gotten as much attention in California as in other states, but is certainly on the minds of some Golden State officials and tribal leaders as the presidential election approaches.

    • Girls as young as NINE forced into marriage by Imams – and authorities are POWERLESS

      Forced marriages are supposed to be illegal in Angela Merkel’s nation – but a loophole in the law means officials cannot interfere in religious marriages – which sees hundreds of vulnerable children walk down the aisle.

      Shocking figures reveal how underage girls are forced by Imams into marriages and disappear from schools because they have to do household chores for their mother-in-laws or even move abroad.

      The Romani community sometimes marry off 13-year-old girls to 17-year-old boys in ancient ceremonies – in the middle of Germany.

      Although the exact figures remain a mystery, authorities in Bavaria counted 161 cases of marriage applicants under the age of 16 and 550 cases under the age of 18 by the end of April.

    • Police chiefs want new law that would compel people to reveal passwords

      Canada’s police chiefs want a new law that would force people to hand over their electronic passwords with a judge’s consent.

      The Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police has passed a resolution calling for the legal measure to unlock digital evidence, saying criminals increasingly use encryption to hide illicit activities.

      There is nothing currently in Canadian law that would compel someone to provide a password to police during an investigation, RCMP Assistant Commissioner Joe Oliver told a news conference Tuesday.

    • Michael Weiss and the Iran-U.S. Hardline Nexus That Led Iranian-American to Evin Prison

      It’s a long way from the campus of Dartmouth College in New Hampshire’s Great North Woods in 2003 to Tehran’s Evin Prison in 2016. But the path between them led to a fateful intersection of the lives of Michael D. Weiss (the Dartmouth student) and Siamak Namazi (a jailed Iranian-American). It was Weiss who helped put him there.

      Weiss, age 36, has been an itinerant freelance journalist and military interventionist gun-for-hire, plying his trade from Washington DC, to London, to the outlying lands of former Russian empire, to the ruins of Syria.

      With his role as CNN commentator and senior editor at the Daily Beast, he is a leading light among a new young generation of neoconservative intellectuals. These positions offer him the opportunity to shape American political discourse in much the same way Bill Kristol’s Project for the New American Century, shaped U.S. militarist- interventionist foreign policy for a decade or more after its famous 1998 letter to Bill Clinton.

    • U.S. Jails Fail to Meet Basic Needs of Growing Population of Women

      As incarceration rates nationwide begin to slowly fall after decades of growth, one group stands in stark opposition to the trend: women, whose imprisonment in jails is growing at alarming rates, often with devastating impacts extending to their children and families.

      Jails — where individuals are held in pretrial confinement, when they fail to meet probation requirements, or simply when they cannot afford bail — have become the country’s single largest driver of mass incarceration for both men and women, with some 11 million admissions annually. And while as a whole, men in jail continue to far outnumber women, the number of women has grown 14-fold since 1970, when three-quarters of the country’s counties had not a single woman in jail. That year, women accounted for 11 percent of all arrests — but they accounted for about 26 percent in 2014.

    • ‘On Contact’: Chris Hedges and Professor Eddie Glaude Discuss ‘The Great Black Depression’ (Video)

      “From housing to jobs to poverty levels, black America is struggling,” Princeton professor Eddie Glaude tells Chris Hedges in the Truthdig columnist’s “On Contact” show. “In so many ways since 2008, our communities have been in ruins.”

    • Alan Dershowitz’s “Advice” to Black Lives Matter

      The Boston Globe recently ran an article by Alan Dershowitz that was full of imperatives for the membership of Black Lives Matter, telling them in what they “must” do to make things right with supporters of Israel and to avoid being cast into the “dustbin of history”.

      Well I’ve got news for Mr. Dershowitz.

      Those of us that support Black Lives Matter are not particularly interested in anything that he—a serial bully, sycophant to the rich and famous and arch-apologist for Israel’s long and constant history of ethnic cleansing—says to us.

      Indeed, many us of find the pose he adopts, the all-too-familiar one of the Zionist—which is to say a person beholden to an ideology that grants civil rights on the basis of a person’s bloodlines—telling us what we can and cannot say about this or that subject to be not only offensive, but borderline comical.

    • America’s Criminal Injustice System

      Once upon a time, I was a journalist, covering war in Indochina, Central America, and the Middle East. I made it my job to write about the victims of war, the “civilian casualties.” To me, they were hardly “collateral damage,” that bloodless term the military persuaded journalists to adopt. To me, they were the center of war. Now, I work at home and I’m a private eye — or P.I. to you. I work mostly on homicide cases for defense lawyers on the mean streets of Oakland, California, one of America’s murder capitals.

      Some days, Oakland feels like Saigon, Tegucigalpa, or Gaza. There’s the deception of daily life and the silent routine of dread punctured by out-of-the blue mayhem. Oakland’s poor neighborhoods are a war zone whose violence can even explode onto streets made rich overnight by the tech boom. Any quiet day, you can drive down San Pablo Avenue past St. Columba Catholic Church, where a thicket of white crosses, one for every Oaklander killed by gun violence, year by year, fills its front yard.

      Whenever I tell people I’m a private eye, they ask: Do you get innocent people off death row? Or: Can you follow my ex around? Or: What kind of gun do you carry?

      I always disappoint them. Yes, I do defend people against the death penalty, but so far all my defendants have probably been guilty — of something. (Often, I can only guess what.) While keeping them off death row may absolve me of being an accessory after the fact to murder, it also regularly condemns my defendants to life in prison until they die there.

    • US Transfers 15 Guantánamo Detainees as Rights Groups Push for Full Closure

      The Pentagon on Monday announced that 15 men would be transferred from Guantánamo Bay to the United Arab Emirates, in the largest single detainee shuffle under President Barack Obama’s administration.

      The transfer means there are now just 61 people left in the U.S. military prison in Cuba. The 15 men include 12 Yemenis and three Afghans.

      Amnesty International hoped the move indicated that the Obama administration would step up its efforts to close the controversial site.

      “This is a powerful sign that President Obama is serious about closing Guantánamo before he leaves office. With these transfers, Guantánamo’s population will be reduced by one-fifth,” said Naureen Shah, Amnesty International USA’s security and human rights program director.

      “It is vital he keep the momentum. If President Obama fails to close Guantánamo, the next administration could fill it with new detainees and it could become permanent. It would be an extremely dangerous legacy of allowing people to be detained without charge, in an endless global war, practically until they die,” Shah said.

    • Behind the Scenes at the Lutheran Vote Against the Israeli Occupation

      For all their worry, Wacker-Farrand and her fellow organizers had some reason to hope for a favorable vote on C2. Days earlier, the assembly had voted by an overwhelming majority (82 percent) to adopt another Memorial regarding Palestine. According to that Memorial, the ELCA must urge “U.S. Representatives, Senators and the Administration to take action requiring that, to continue receiving U.S. financial and military aid, Israel must comply with internationally recognized human rights standards.” Such standards include putting a stop to Israel’s settlement policy in the West Bank and Jerusalem, as well as ending Israel’s occupation of Palestinian land.

    • Is Another Cheney Headed to Washington?

      Following surely in the footprints of her father, former Vice President Dick Cheney, Liz Cheney won a solid victory in the Wyoming Republican primary on Tuesday and will now be in contention for the U.S. House seat that he once held.

      “I look forward very much to moving forward in the general election, unified and focused on making sure we send the strongest conservative voice to Washington,” declared Cheney, a fierce neoconservative and war hawk, after defeating her 8 primary opponents.

      According to the Casper Star Tribune, with 82 percent of precincts counted, Cheney took 40 percent of the vote.

      She now faces Democrat Ryan Greene in the general election. According to the Tribune, “She will campaign on a platform of repealing regulation deemed harmful to Wyoming, such as the Clean Power Plan, and in support of a strong national defense.” Her website also lists Wyoming coal as a major priority and the candidate strongly opposes women’s right to an abortion.

    • This Dream That Came True

      Wednesday marked the final day of the 47th anniversary of Woodstock, that iconic celebration of peace, love, mud, music and community in upstate New York whose promise still resonates for those of a certain age. Over 400,000 people gathered in the summer of 1969 in a massive muddy field at Max Yasgur’s 600-acre dairy farm in Bethel – not Woodstock, which turned it down – for an event originally aimed at raising money for a recording studio, not making cultural history. Amid fears no one would come, it was advertised as open to the public for a $6.50 ticket – until the fences came down and the crowds surged in for free.

    • A Good Cop

      In the 1990s, cop reporting was not a strength of the New York Times, and I’d often get calls from the Metro desk asking if I could help match something or other that had been in the tabs. I was Irish and Catholic and had grown up in Brooklyn along with other kids who wound up “on the job.” Oh, and I was an ex-sportswriter, too. I guess I had the pedigree of a cop reporter, if not any demonstrated talent.

      I got a call at home one night in March of 1996. Earlier that day, John Timoney, the outgoing first deputy commissioner of the New York Police Department, had been given a hero’s reception during a promotion ceremony at Police Headquarters. It amounted to an act of collective insubordination, for Timoney was exiting the department after having been passed over by Mayor Rudy Giuliani to succeed Bill Bratton as commissioner.

      The Times, I guess, hadn’t had anyone at the ceremony, and now we needed to catch up. No one had a number for Timoney, and the next edition closed in 40 minutes. It so happened that I’d once been introduced to Timoney, by Mike McAlary of the Daily News (Irish, Catholic, a former sportswriter, and a great cop reporter). I managed to track down Timoney’s home number.

      Timoney took my call. He was great, and, miracle of miracles, he was on the record. Timoney had been born in Dublin and raised in Northern Manhattan, his dad a New York City doorman. He’d been a beat cop, but had also earned master’s degrees in American history and urban planning. He was a reader of literature and an expert in police shootings. He’d been the youngest four-star chief in the history of the department.

    • Ultra-Orthodox paper ‘makes history’ with partial photo of Hillary Clinton

      The photo was first picked up by a Jewish blog, Only Simchas, which wrote about it under the headline: “History Made: Yated Ne’eman Publishes a Picture of Hillary Clinton. A Woman!” The photo shows only Clinton’s hairdo and raised arm, but it goes further than other images used to illustrate articles about Clinton in the ultra-Orthodox press. In the past, editors of Yated Ne’eman and other papers have instead used political cartoons or photos of Clinton’s husband, Bill.

    • 1999 Rape Case Swirls Around Nate Parker and His Film ‘The Birth of a Nation’

      “The Birth of a Nation,” a drama about the Nat Turner slave rebellion, upended the Sundance Film Festival, selling for a record $17.5 million and instantly vaulting to front-runner of next year’s Oscar race.

      Scheduled to be released Oct. 7, the film is now attracting unwanted attention because of renewed interest in a 17-year-old case in which the film’s director, writer and star, Nate Parker, was accused — and later acquitted — of rape when he was a student at Penn State.

      His college roommate, Jean McGianni Celestin, who received a credit on the movie, was also charged. Last week Deadline.com and Variety asked Mr. Parker about the case, and on Tuesday, Variety reported that his accuser committed suicide in 2012 at age 30.

    • Soul-Searching in Germany

      The elections are complicated. The vicious Alternative for Germany (AfD), based on anti-foreigner feelings, will now make it into the local parliament and all twelve borough councils, a frightening perspective. The other parties will have nothing to do with them (as yet, anyway). Since the Free Democrats and Pirates have scant hope of meeting the 5% requirement for the parliament, four main parties will compete. The necessary mating this will require to reach a ruling 50% majority recalls the old riddle about how to cross a river with a wolf, a goat and a head of cabbage. Who with whom? The SPD, polling best in Berlin with 23%, doesn’t want to keep on with the Christian Democrats (CDU), now standing at just 18%. And the sum of those numbers would no longer win half the seats.

    • Washington Post Reveals Immigrant Family Detention Center Made for-Profit Prison Company $1 Billion, in No-Bid Deal

      The Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency (ICE) used an existing contract with a private prison company to reach a separate deal with the firm, without having to publicly solicit bids for a new detention center.

      ICE and the Corrections Corporation of America agreed on the four-year, $1 billion no-bid deal in 2014, to rapidly implement an Obama administration initiative designed to deter the arrival of asylum seekers from Central America.

      The terms of the agreement were reported on Monday in an investigation published by The Washington Post.

      The paper said that the deal was hastily struck after Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson determined that the US “could cut down the surge [of migration] only by demonstrating that asylum seekers wouldn’t receive leniency.”

      “This whole thing [was] building and reaching an unsustainable level,” former Johnson chief of staff, Christian Marrone, told the Post. “We had to take measures to stem the tide.”

      The paper noted that those seeking asylum in the US, “until two years ago, had rarely been held in detention.”

    • Pentagon Issues First Update To Domestic Surveillance Guidelines In 35 Years, Not All Of It Good

      Cody Poplin at Lawfare points out that the Defense Department has just issued an update on rules governing its intelligence collection activities — the first major update in over 30 years. These would directly affect the NSA, which operates under the Defense Department.

      The most significant alteration appears to be to retention periods for US persons data. While everything is still assumed to be lawful under Executive Order 12333 and DoD Directive 5240.1, the point at which a record is deemed to be “collected” — starting the clock on the retention period — has changed.

    • America’s Cult of the Police

      It didn’t used to be this way. From the first whispers about freedom from Britain, America’s DNA has included a healthy distrust of government authority. It is a distrust enshrined in our constitution with its checks and balances and, specifically regarding police, in the Third and Fourth Amendments.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • The FCC Keeps Running Into Opposition With Its Plan to Open Up Cable Boxes

      These days, one item jumps out more than any other; after all, it’s not necessarily the service itself that’s overpriced these days if you get a bundle (and you use your landline phone plan). Cable box rental fees, however, are out of control. Some providers have even hiked rates past the $10 per box per month mark, so the hardware costs more than a Netflix subscription. And that doesn’t even include DVR fees! If you buy a TiVo or build a home theater PC, you can buy a tuner that uses a CableCARD, but the card itself still has to be rented from the cable company, even if the price may be less than that of a box.

      There has to be a better way to do this.

      The FCC agrees, and in February, it started to make the steps to push forward a proposal for an alternative. “Instead of mandating a government-specific standard that might impede innovation,” its statement explained, “the Commission recommends that these three streams be available to the creators of competitive solutions using any published, transparent format that conforms to specifications set by an independent, open standards body.” The cable companies, not wanting to abandon a source for $19.5 billion inannual revenue, have their own proposal, as well. Their proposal is built around “enforcing an industry-wide commitment to develop and deploy video ‘apps’ that all large MVPDs would build to open HTML5 web standards.”

    • Cutting the Cord With Playstation Vue

      We have a Roku that provides the streaming channels (Netflix, Amazon Prime, Crackle, Spotify, and Pandora).


      Overall, we love the new setup. The Playstation 4 is a great center-point for our entertainment system. It is awesome having a single remote, everything on one box and in one interface. I also love the higher-fidelity experience – the Roku is great but the interface looks a little dated and the apps are rather restricted.

    • Comcast Fancies Itself The Tesla Of Cable

      Despite offering some of the worst customer service ever documented, Comcast has been busy lately trying to convince anybody who’ll listen that it’s on the cusp of becoming a Silicon-Valley-esque innovation giant. That’s an uphill climb for those familiar with the company’s often biannual TV rate hikes, attacks on net neutrality, or the company’s ongoing quest to sock uncompetitive markets with usage caps. High prices aren’t just a result of Comcast’s monopoly domination, you see, they’re reflections of the incredible value being delivered unto consumers by an innovation engine, the likes of which the universe has never seen.

    • US Government Announces Go-Ahead For IANA Transition By October

      The United States Commerce Department National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) this week confirmed it will hand over oversight of the internet domain name system root zone and other core internet infrastructure registries to the semi-private Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN).

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • In the fight for our genes, could we lose what makes us human?

      In the last 70 years we’ve come a long way towards unraveling the building blocks of human life. The human genome has been identified, sequenced, mapped, decoded, and interfered with. We’ve used this knowledge to clone Dolly the sheep, discover breast cancer-causing genes and create stem cells from our own skin. And now we stand on an exciting precipice: perfecting technologies that allow us to edit our genes with precision.

      But as we embark further on the gene revolution and allow corporations and governments to deconstruct human beings down to their most basic parts, we have to question whether we may lose not just some of those parts in the process but something much greater and more important—what it means to be truly human.

      Let’s start with the technology. At the 2016 World Economic Forum in Davos, a panel called Humankind and the Machine brought together leading experts in technology, governance, and bioethics to discuss new technologies that are sure to have a major impact on humanity: artificial intelligence, cyber-security, genetics, and space colonization.

    • End Price-Gouging on Drugs Developed With Public Dollars

      The U.S. invests more than $32 billion each year in drug and biomedical research. This major public investment in drug research empowers the government to make drugs affordable under the Bayh-Dole Act of 1980. But, even when drug companies price critical drugs at staggeringly high prices, the government has never used this authority. Why doesn’t the federal government ensure reasonable prices for drugs developed with public funds—an appropriate return on the public’s investment?

      According to Peter Arno and Michael H Davis, Bayh-Dole revises the U.S. patent law so that the federal government can ensure new drugs developed in part or whole with federal dollars are priced reasonably. Put differently, when federal dollars support research on a new drug, the drug manufacturer is supposed to price the drug reasonably. If the manufacturer does not, the federal government has the right to authorize another manufacturer to license the drug and sell it at a reasonable price.

    • US Agencies Seek Comment On Updated Antitrust Guidelines For IP Licensing

      In an age when licensing of intellectual property plays a critical role in business strategy, the United States Department of Justice and Federal Trade Commission are seeking public comment on a proposed update of the antitrust guidelines for IP licensing.

      “The IP Licensing Guidelines, which state the agencies’ antitrust enforcement policy with respect to the licensing of intellectual property protected by patent, copyright and trade secret law and of know-how, were issued in 1995 and are now being updated,” the agencies said in a release.

      The proposed update and related information is available here.

      Changes include consideration of key court case outcomes, incorporating the recent US Defense of Trade Secrets law, and the change from a 17-year to a 20-year patent term agreed in the 1994 World Trade Organization Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS). Enforcement aspects of the guidelines are unchanged in the proposed update, the agencies said.

    • Trademarks

      • Citigroup Gets First Loss In Trademark Suit Against AT&T For Saying ‘Thanks’

        A couple of months back, I brought to you a trademark suit initiated by Citigroup against AT&T that amost perfectly distilled both how ridiculously litigious trademark law has become and exactly how facepalm-inducingly lax the standards for trademark approval are with our friends over at the USPTO. The summary of the lawsuit can be described thusly: Citigroup has sued AT&T because the latter has branded messaging that says “thanks” and “thank you,” and Citigroup has a trademark on the term “thankyou.” And if your forehead hasn’t smacked your desk yet, you have a stronger constitution than this author.

        Included within Citigroup’s hilarious filing was a request for an injunction by the court barring AT&T from continuing any of this gratitude towards its customers over the immense harm it was doing to the bank. Well, the court has ruled on that request by refusing to issue the injunction, all while patiently laying out within the court document all of the reasons why the court will almost certainly eventually dismiss this suit entirely.

    • Copyrights

      • Nintendo Shuts Down Fan Remake Of 25 Year Old Metroid 2 Game Because It Can’t Help Itself

        For gamers who are fans of Nintendo, it’s always helpful to remember that Nintendo hates you. The general idea behind that mantra is that Nintendo, when faced between embracing the creativity and love that comes from its fans and acting like over-protective toddlers when it comes to any sort of its intellectual property, will always choose the latter. The company has issued takedowns for fan-made Mario Bros. levels just as it released Mario Maker, it as made a habit of shutting down fan-films depicting Nintendo characters, and it has even shut down fan get-togethers centered around beloved Nintendo properties just because they aren’t “official.” To be clear, Nintendo certainly can ensure that all of this free advertising for its products is never seen or enjoyed by the public legally, but it doesn’t have to. It could instead embrace the love of its fans and work out an arrangement that would protect its IP while still allowing its fans to be fans.

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