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08.21.16

Links 21/8/2016: Apple and Microsoft Down, Systemd Spreading to Mount

Posted in News Roundup at 9:40 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

Free Software/Open Source

  • Open365 – Clouding with style

    Office, suite, cloud. Sounds familiar. Google Docs. Yup. Microsoft Office 365. Yup. LibreOffice. No. Wait, what? Buzzwords around modern technology concepts are all too easy to ignore, but this one actually caught my attention beyond the almost-too-cliche dotIO domain, the blue design very reminiscent of Docker (hint), and optimistic text that promises wonders.

    Anyhow, Open365 is an all-in-one productivity suite, based on KDE, Seafile, LibreOffice, Docker, and Jitsi. That’s enough buzz to keep you warm till 2020, but is it any good? Or rather, can it compete with the proven giants out there? I decided to explore and see what gives.

  • ReactOS 0.4.2 Officially Released
  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • 3 Firefox Add-ons Every Ubuntu User Needs

        Firefox is the default browser in Ubuntu — but it doesn’t integrate with the Unity desktop as well as it could.

        That’s where the following Ubuntu Firefox add-ons come in. These little extras, trivial though they seem, help to bridge the (admittedly few) gaps and missing functionality between browser and OS.

      • Mozilla is changing its look—and asking the Internet for feedback

        Mozilla is trying a rebranding. Back in June, the browser developer announced that it would freshen up its logo and enlist the Internet’s help in reaching a final decision. The company hired British design company Johnson Banks to come up with seven new “concepts” to illustrate the company’s work, as shown in the gallery above.

        The logos rely on vibrant colors, and several of them recall ’80s and ’90s style. In pure, nearly-unintelligible marketing speak, Mozilla writes that each new design reflects a story about the company. “From paying homage to our paleotechnic origins to rendering us as part of an ever-expanding digital ecosystem, from highlighting our global community ethos to giving us a lift from the quotidian elevator open button, the concepts express ideas about Mozilla in clever and unexpected ways” Mozilla’s Creative Director Tim Murray writes in a blog post.

        Mozilla is soliciting comment and criticism on the seven new designs for the next two weeks, but this is no Boaty McBoatface situation. Mozilla is clear that it’s not crowdsourcing a design, asking anyone to work on spec, or holding a vote over which logo the Internet prefers. It’s just asking for comments.

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

  • BSD

    • DragonFlyBSD Decides To Drop PulseAudio

      DragonFlyBSD developers have decided to remove PulseAudio from their dports packaging system and patch their desktop software to not depend upon this open-source sound server.

      Running PulseAudio on DragonFlyBSD appears to cause problems for users, similar to PulseAudio in its early days on Linux, “the pulseaudio server didn’t seem to work and even caused one CPU to spin at 100% usage. Moreover, it seems that firefox, even if built without pulseaudio, would detect if PA was installed and use it over ALSA resulting in no sound and a spinning CPU,” according to John Marino who removed PA from DragonFlyBSD.

    • LLVM Clang 3.9 Still On Track For Release Next Week

      LLVM release manager Hans Wennborg tagged LLVM 3.9.0-rc2 on Thursday and it’s still looking like LLVM/Clang 3.9 could ship on schedule next week.

      Hans noted in the RC2 announcement, “This is a release candidate in the very real sense that if nothing new comes up, this is be what the final release looks like. There are currently no open release blockers, and no patches in my merge-queue.”

Leftovers

  • Know English? For New York Cabdrivers, That’s No Longer Required [iophk: "This change is so wrong on many levels. There are many, many reasons to require a basic ability to communicate."]

    Hail a yellow taxi in New York City, and there is a good chance the driver is from another country. Passengers are regularly exposed to a range of languages that span the globe, from Spanish to Bengali to Urdu.

    It can be charming, but also maddening for riders who feel that drivers do not understand where they want to go. Don’t you have to speak English, some wonder, to drive a taxi here?

    As of Friday, the answer is no.

    That is when new rules went into effect eliminating the requirement that taxi drivers take an English proficiency exam. Now, the test for a taxi license is available in several languages, to accommodate non-English speakers.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Building alternatives for food systems and trade

      And it’s not over yet. As public pressure continues this year, whether through vibrant events like Rock Against the TPP ! or organized pressure on specific members of Congress, there is a concerted demand by progressive civil society organizations and leaders to halt current trade agreements and to insist on a different process, different rules, and a different vision of what comes next. We need trade policy that serves to reduce inequality, build local economies and enhance environmental sustainability.

    • CDC Expands Zika Travel Advisory in Miami

      The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Friday expanded its unprecedented travel advisory warning pregnant women to avoid several neighborhoods in Miami, Florida.

      The initial advisory, issued on August 2, was the first of its kind for a continental U.S. city.

      The expanded advisory names “a second zone of local Zika transmission, a swath of Miami Beach that includes the popular tourist magnet of South Beach,” the New York Times reports.

      The initial area touched on “the Wynwood, Midtown, and Design District neighborhoods in Miami, popular with tourists,” the Miami Herald notes.

    • Revealed: Banned drugs used by cheating athletes for sale just TWO MILES from Olympic venues in Rio

      Banned performance enhancing drugs used by athletes to cheat their way to medals and glory can be bought in Rio de Janeiro less than two miles from where Olympic events take place.

      The Rio Olympics is under the shadow of drugs because of the presence of Russia after allegations of a state sponsored cover-up of cheating athletes and the comparative ease with which performance improving substances can be obtained in the host city will cause serious concern.

      Two athletes Chinese swimmer Chen Xinyi, 18, who finished fourth in the 100m butterfly in Rio, and Bulgarian steeplechaser Silvia Danekova – have been exposed in the first week of the Games.

    • ‘BernieCare’ can save ObamaCare

      The decision by Aetna to withdraw from many ObamaCare exchanges was a predictable outrage that opens to the door not to the demise of ObamaCare, but the dramatic improvement of ObamaCare led by a grand battle by Sen. Bernie Sanders (Vt.) and progressives to enact the public option and move toward a Medicare-for-all healthcare system.

      Let’s coin the phrase “BernieCare” to describe the kind of healthcare system that progressives believe, with some reason, would be the kind of program that voters prefer. Sanders has long been a champion of single-payer healthcare — which I personally support — but for obvious political reasons in a lobbyist-dominated Washington, single payer is highly unlikely to happen soon.

    • This Town Is Sick of Drinking Polluted Water

      In Alabama’s Black Belt, a region where the vestiges of slavery still manifest in chronic poverty and crumbling infrastructure, a more recent legacy of mining and industry is haunting the land through poisoned waterways and toxic soil.

      Yet the region has long been the rural core of civil-rights struggles, and along the Black Belt, local citizens are trying to revive a legacy of activism as they struggle to restore their environment.

      In Uniontown—in Perry County, one of the state’s poorest—residents say they have been systematically denied the basic dignity of decent sanitation—what activists see as the residue of institutionalized racism.

    • Poor Sanitation Persisted at U.N. Missions Long After Haiti Cholera Crisis

      Years after medical studies linked the 2010 cholera outbreak in Haiti to infected United Nations peacekeepers, the organization’s auditors found that poor sanitation practices remained unaddressed not only in its Haitian mission but also in at least six others in Africa and the Middle East, a review of their findings shows.

      The findings, in audits conducted by the United Nations Office of Internal Oversight Services in 2014 and 2015, appear to reflect the organization’s intent to avoid another public health crisis like cholera.

      But the findings also provide some insight into how peacekeepers and their supervisors may have been either unaware of or lax about the need to enforce rigorous protocols for wastewater, sewage and hazardous waste disposal at United Nations missions — despite the known risks and the lessons learned from Haiti, where at least 10,000 people have died from cholera and hundreds of thousands have been sickened.

    • As UN Admits Role in Haiti Cholera Crisis, Audits Show No Lessons Learned

      A day after the United Nations admitted that it helped spread cholera in Haiti, the organization also found that poor sanitation persisted in its missions around the world—from the Caribbean nation to Africa and the Middle East.

  • Security

    • New BlackArch Linux ISO Released with Over 1,500 Penetration Testing, Hacking Tools
    • Address Bar Spoofing Vulnerability Found in Several Browsers

      Chrome, Firefox and other web browsers are plagued by vulnerabilities that can be exploited to spoof their address bar. Some of the affected vendors are still working on addressing the issues.

      Pakistan-based researcher Rafay Baloch discovered that the address bar in Google Chrome, also known as the omnibox, can be tricked into flipping URLs.

      The problem, which affects Chrome for Android, is related to how Arabic and Hebrew text is written from right to left (RTL). If an attacker’s URL starts with an IP address and it contains an Arabic character, the URL’s host and path are reversed.

  • Defence/Aggression

    • Breaking from Saudi Arabia!!! Two Month Old Misleading News

      In spite of the fact that this “exclusive” — which has since been reported by other outlets with similarly misleading headlines — describes two month old news, it nevertheless obscures that fact with its editorial choices, as here where it suggests the move “reduces,” in present tense, staff numbers, or the headline which hides that, in fact, the US already withdrew these staffers.

      [...]
      s
      I’d also suggest that reports about what non-uniformed US personnel are doing in Yemen’s immediate neighborhood would be a better gauge of the support we’re giving Saudi Arabia beyond refueling their aistrikes, the latter of which has not stopped at all.

    • Dragon Rising? China seeks Closer military Cooperation with Syria

      The Arabic press is reporting that a high Chinese official on a visit to Damascus has announced that Beijing intends to strengthen its military relationship with the current Syrian government. At the same time he affirmed that China would avoid involvement in the civil war. Reuters broke the story in the West.

      China has a long history of involvement in Syrian security affairs and is already doing some training of the Syrian military. But Beijing now seems intent on taking the relationship to the next level.

      The news comes in the wake of reports that Russia is strengthening its own military ties with Iran and may be flying missions against fundamentalist rebels in Syria from that country.

      China and Russia both belong to the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, which appears to see Iran and Syria as potential strategic assets in its rivalry with the US and NATO. They feel as though NATO stole Libya from them, and are determined to make a stand in Syria. The newspaper of the Chinese military said that Russia’s moves in Crimea and Syria should be studied by Chinese officers. Iran has observer status in the SCO.

    • Bolivia Builds Anti-Imperialist School to Counter US Hegemony

      ‘If the empire teaches domination of the world from its military schools, we will learn from this school to free ourselves from imperial oppression,’ says Bolivian President Evo Morales

    • Bolivia opens ‘anti-imperialist’ military school to counter US foreign policies

      Bolivia’s president Evo Morales has opened a new “anti-imperialist” military academy to counter US policies and military influence in Latin America.

      “If the empire teaches domination of the world from its military schools, we will learn from this school to free ourselves from imperial oppression,” the country’s first indigenous president said at an inauguration ceremony on Wednesday.

    • U.S. Defense Contractors Tell Investors Russian Threat Is Great for Business

      The escalating anti-Russian rhetoric in the U.S. presidential campaign comes in the midst of a major push by military contractors to position Moscow as a potent enemy that must be countered with a drastic increase in military spending by NATO countries.

      Weapon makers have told investors that they are relying on tensions with Russia to fuel new business in the wake of Russian’s annexation of Crimea and modest increases in its military budget.

    • A Lawless Plan to Target Syria’s Allies

      Official Washington’s disdain for international law – when its doing the lawbreaking – was underscored by ex-CIA acting director Morell voicing plans for murdering Iranians and maybe Russians in Syria, ex-CIA analyst Ray McGovern says.

    • Marcos Redux

      We interrupt election news just long enough to bring you breaking news of Ferdinand Marcos, deceased. As corpses’ sojourns go, his has been one of the most enduring, due in large part to the devoted attention of his wife, Imelda. To long time readers of this column, apologies are in order since some of what is described today was reported ten years ago in this very space.

      Ferdinand moved to Hawaii in 1986, having been overthrown as president of the Philippines in a People Power Revolution. His move was assisted by President Ronald Reagan who arranged for the United States Air Force to provide two U.S. Air Force C-141s to carry the Marcos family, its retainers and belongings to Hawaii. Sadly, Mr. Marcos’s sojourn there was cut short by his death on September 28, 1989. His death marked the end of one adventure but the beginning of another, an adventure that will end on September 18, 2016, when he will come to rest in the Heroes Cemetery in Manila.

    • We Can’t Say We Didn’t Know

      A word about five-year-old Omran Daqneesh. The image of him sitting still, stunned, bloodied in an ambulance after being scooped out of rubble from an air strike on Aleppo has quickly spread, reads one account, “shocking and disturbing social media users.” Well yes. Shocking and disturbing. Harrowing and heartbreaking. But, to be clear, not exceptional. Up to a half million Syrians have been killed in Russian and Assad air strikes, many aimed at Aleppo. “These are children bombed every day,” notes Mustafa al-Sarout, an Aleppo-based journalist who filmed the rescue, and was surprised at the reaction. “This child is a representative of millions of children in Syria and its cities.”

      Those there or witness to it say the same things. “Everyone is bombing Syrians, and no one cares,” says Dr. Zaher Sahloul, founder of the American Relief Coalition for Syria and former president of the Syrian American Medical Society. The story not being told in the media: “Civilians are suffering every day. Children are being mutilated and killed… Hospitals are targeted. Schools are targeted. Fruit markets are targeted. This is the tragedy that we are living in.” A tragedy, he adds, that most of the world turns away from, because we can. Because we can be shocked, even surprised despite the years-long carnage, and then go on with our lives, as silent as Omran in his ash and blood and shock.

    • China and the U.S. are Approaching Dangerous Seas

      A combination of recent events, underpinned by long-running historical strains reaching back more than 60 years, has turned the western Pacific into one of the most hazardous spots on the globe. The tension between China and the United States “is one of the most striking and dangerous themes in international politics,” says The Financial Times’ longtime commentator and China hand, Gideon Rachman.

      In just the past five months, warships from both countries—including Washington’s closest ally in the region, Japan—have done everything but ram one another. And, as Beijing continues to build bases on scattered islands in the South China Sea, the United States is deploying long-range nuclear capable strategic bombers in Australia and Guam.

      At times the rhetoric from both sides is chilling. When Washington sent two aircraft carrier battle groups into the area, Chinese defense ministry spokesman Yang Yujun cautioned the Americans to “be careful.” While one U.S. admiral suggested drawing “the line” at the Spratly Islands close to the Philippines, an editorial in the Chinese Communist Party’s Global Times warned that U.S. actions “raised the risk of physical confrontation with China.” The newspaper went on to warn that “if the United States’ bottom line is that China has to halt its activities, then a U.S.-China war is inevitable in the South China Sea.”

    • US Support for Saudi Coalition Remains Steadfast, Despite Growing Outcry

      The U.S. remains defiant in its support for the Saudi campaign in Yemen, even as its backing for the ongoing and indiscriminate assault comes under increasing scrutiny.

      Following a week that saw the Saudi-led coalition kill significant numbers of Yemeni civilians, including in an attack on a school and the bombing of a Doctors Without Borders facility—which led the charity to announce it was pulling its staff from the northern part of the country—Reuters reported exclusively on Friday that the Pentagon in June withdrew military personnel who were involved in planning the campaign from Saudi Arabia.

      “Fewer than five U.S. service people are now assigned full-time to the ‘Joint Combined Planning Cell,’ which was established last year to coordinate U.S. support, including air-to-air refueling of coalition jets and limited intelligence-sharing,” according to the news service, which cited Lieutenant Ian McConnaughey, a U.S. Navy spokesman in Bahrain. That’s down from a peak of 45, he said.

    • Richard Holbrooke and the Obama Doctrine

      In 1975, during Gerald Ford’s administration, Indonesia invaded East Timor and slaughtered 200,000 indigenous Timorese. The Indonesian invasion of East Timor set the stage for a long and bloody occupation that recently ended after an international peacekeeping force was introduced in 1999.

      Transcripts of meetings among Indonesian dictator Mohamed Suharto, Ford, and Secretary of State Henry Kissinger have shown conclusively that Kissinger and Ford authorized and encouraged Suharto’s murderous actions. “We will understand and will not press you on the issue [of East Timor],” said President Ford in a meeting with Suharto and Kissinger in early December 1975, days before Suharto’s bloodbath. “We understand the problem and the intentions you have,” he added.

    • Neofascism of the Law and Order Candidate

      Henry Giroux tells Paul Jay that fear is an organizing principle of U.S. society

    • Turkey and Iran Reach Agreement on Conditions for Syria Peace

      In a stunning diplomatic surprise, Turkey and Iran have announced a preliminary agreement on fundamental principles for a settlement of the Syrian conflict.

    • Hillary Clinton’s War Policy

      As a result of Trump’s stumbles, Hillary Clinton seems to be on course to become next president of the United States and it is depressing to reflect on what some of her policies might be if she achieves that office. Unfortunately, the future looks bleak for peace and stability around the world.

      She is one of the Washington-Brussels war-drum beaters who planned the 2011 aerial blitz on Libya to destroy the government of President Gaddafi, about whose murder she giggled that “We came; We saw; He died.” The US-NATO attacks on Libya caused massive suffering and destruction, opened the way for feuding bands of militants to fight each other for control of parts of the country, and created a haven for the lunatic extremists of Islamic State.

    • A Battle to the Death in Syria

      All sides are terrified of each other and with good reason: Amnesty International last week published a report describing how 17,723 people, or 300 a month, have been tortured or otherwise done to death in Syrian government prisons since 2011. Most of the 4.8 million Syrian refugees come from opposition areas, many of which have been flattened by bombs, shells and bulldozers so they look like pictures of Warsaw in 1945.

    • Photo of the Week: Omran Daqneesh, Pulled From the Rubble in Aleppo

      Who’s to blame? Forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad or his Russian allies launched the bomb into rebel-held Aleppo more than five years into a war that has spanned the whole of Omran’s life. According to the Syrian Network for Human Rights, Russian bombings recently overtook Islamic State as a cause of civilian deaths in the country.

    • Is UK foreign policy helping to fuel the conflict in Syria?

      With the Syrian war escalating, I sat down with Andy Baker, the Regional Program Manager for Oxfam’s Syria crisis response. I asked about the humanitarian situation, the UK’s role in the conflict and what policy Oxfam believes the UK should be following in Syria.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • Internet energy impacts on climate

      Switch off your computer, dust off your old typewriter, sharpen all the pencils you can find, lay in stocks of postage stamps − and that’s just the start.

    • The Climate Catastrophe Cannot Be Reversed Within the Capitalist Culture

      His face was hacked off. Left prostrate in the red dust, to be preyed on by vultures, his body remained intact except for the obscene hole where his magnificent six foot long tusks used to be. Satao was a so-called tusker, an African elephant with a rare genetic strain that produced tusks so long that they dangled to the ground, making him a prime attraction in Kenya’s Tsavo East National Park.

      These beautiful tusks also made him particularly valuable to ivory poachers, who felled him with poison arrows, carved off his face to get at his tusks, and left his carcass for the flies. The grisly death of Satao, one of Africa’s largest elephants, is part of a violent wave of poaching that is sweeping the continent today. In 2011, twenty-five thousand African elephants were slaughtered for their ivory. An additional forty-five thousand have been killed since that time. If the present rate of slaughter continues, one of the two species of African elephants, the forest elephant, whose numbers have declined by 60 percent since 2002, is likely to be gone from Africa within a decade.

    • Social Media Exposes Devastating Effects of Louisiana Flood (Multimedia)

      It’s been labeled “the worst U.S. disaster since Hurricane Sandy,” yet many are accusing the mainstream media of providing too little coverage of the catastrophic flooding across Louisiana.

      The flooding, which began earlier this week, has left at least 13 people dead and tens of thousands homeless. On Friday, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump paid a highly publicized visit to the state, despite a plea from Louisiana’s governor for political figures to avoid photo ops in the flooded areas. “Trump told reporters he came to help out,” reports Bryn Stole of Reuters. “Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards’ office, however, had said Trump did not call to discuss plans.”

    • Rock-solid carbon storage hopes rise

      Study of natural carbon dioxide reservoirs shows that the greenhouse gas could be safely stored deep underground for tens of thousands of years.

    • The New Normal: Organizing to Break the Cycle of Climate Disaster

      The record-breaking floods in Louisiana are the latest example of what many working people already know all too well: climate change has already begun, and it is wrecking our communities.

      So far, over 30,000 people have been evacuated from their homes, 10,000 people are in shelters, and those numbers are rising. The shelters themselves are experiencing flooding, and some families have already been relocated multiple times. At this point, almost 30 parishes have been declared major disaster areas.

    • Amid Flooding, Groups Call for End to ‘Unconscionable’ Fossil Fuel Auctions

      A coalition of climate and advocacy groups on Friday called on the Obama administration to cancel an upcoming fossil fuel auction as Louisiana reels from the unprecedented floods that have ravaged the state—and which rescue groups have described as the worst U.S. disaster since Superstorm Sandy.

      The organizations, including 350.org, CREDO, and Greenpeace, circulated a petition imploring President Barack Obama to call off the planned August 24 offshore drilling lease auction for a portion of the Gulf of Mexico “the size of Virginia.” The auction is set to take place in the New Orleans Superdome, which became an infamous symbol of climate injustice and bureaucratic callousness when Hurricane Katrina victims were forced to take shelter there in 2005.

    • Scientists link conflict and climate change

      Ethnic conflict linked to tragic episodes of civil war, waves of refugees and even the collapse of nation states could be made more likely by climate-related disasters.

      A team of European scientists say they can demonstrate, “in a scientifically sound way”, a link between civil violence based on ethnic divisions, and episodes of drought, intense heat or other climate-linked weather extremes.

      That climate change seems to be a factor in social collapse is now fairly firmly established. Researchers have identified evidence of prolonged drought that preceded the collapse of Assyrian and Bronze Age civilisations in prehistory.

    • For Future Summer Olympics, Climate Change Is No Game

      The Lancet researchers made use of the global attention being paid to the Olympics to make a bigger point: “The world beyond 2050 poses increasingly difficult challenges … because the extent and speed of change might exceed society’s ability to adapt.” Half the world’s workers work outdoors, they note, and, increasingly, the outdoors, and indoor spaces without cooling, are becoming unsafe. They warn that “exertional heat stroke and its negative outcomes, including mortality, will become a large part of outdoor work around the world.” Drawing from another sports example, thousands of workers are toiling in extreme heat in Qatar, building the stadiums for the 2022 World Cup soccer championships. The International Trade Union Confederation estimates that “more than 7,000 workers will die before a ball is kicked in the 2022 World Cup.”

    • From Epic Fires to a 1,000-Year Flood: The Climate Change of Here and Now

      From deadly floods in Louisiana to an “explosive” wildfire in California, the impacts of the climate change are being felt across the United States this week.

      Neither extreme weather event can be exclusively blamed on global warming. But record-breaking heat, warmer oceans, and drier brush—all linked to man-made climate change—are certainly contributing factors.

      “Climate change is never going to announce itself by name. But this is what we should expect it to look like,” declared Jonah Engel Bromwich at the New York Times, referring to the flooding in southern Louisiana, which has been called the worst natural disaster to strike the U.S. since Superstorm Sandy.

      In fact, current analyses suggest that—as was the case in 2012—greenhouse gas emissions and resultant climate change at the very least increased the severity of the storm that brought on the flooding.

    • As Louisiana floods rage, Republicans are blocking modest climate action

      If we needed a reminder of the importance of taking climate change seriously, the floods in Louisiana are providing a big one on a daily basis. When it comes to the big environmental issues, our country’s polarization is historically unusual, and it’s already gone way too far. That’s why the latest fight to break out in Washington over climate issues needs more attention.

      On 1 August, the White House Council on Environmental Quality issued a non-binding suggestion, formally known as “guidance”, to federal agencies to think about climate change when making decisions under a law called the National Environmental Policy Act (Nepa). What should have produced a shrug (or, hopefully, a cheer) caused a panic on the right that’s only getting louder.

      Under Nepa, federal agencies have to account for the environmental impacts of taking major actions such as approving a mine permit, constructing or removing a dam or allowing a road near a protected habitat. These decisions are made by trained scientists and public servants with years of expertise and involve an unparalleled level of public input. By and large, they are among the most rigorously footnoted and well-supported decisions the federal government makes, and Nepa is one of the best vehicles the public has to express concerns about federal impacts on homes and communities.

    • Clinton Foundation Should Also Divest Its Fossil Fuel Holdings

      350 Action, the political arm of climate organization 350.org that has supported the fossil fuel divestment movement, is celebrating today’s announcement that the Clinton Foundation will stop receiving corporate donations if Hillary Clinton is elected President, and urging the Foundation to go a step further by divesting all of its holdings in fossil fuel companies.

    • Dakota Pipeline Construction Halted Amid Ongoing ‘Defiance of Black Snake’

      Hillary Clinton called to ‘take a stand against this ominous pipeline as well as the brazen violation of our treaty rights’

    • North Dakota pipeline construction halted until court date
    • Hillary Clinton must stand with Native Americans

      Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton says she is committed to supporting Indian country. Well, now her commitment is being put to the test.

      Thousands of Native Americans and allies, including actress Shailene Woodley, have been at the Standing Rock Sioux reservation in North Dakota to protest the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline there. The almost $4 billion, 1,172-mile-long pipeline, which received its permits from the Army Corps of Engineers in July, will snake through ancient Standing Rock Sioux burial grounds and may also threaten the peoples’ drinking water.

  • Finance

    • Reality is broken

      Then the Brexit vote happened and over the next two weeks of utterly surreal political chaos it became apparent that I had a Problem.

    • Zuckerberg Sells $95 Million in Facebook Shares for Philanthropy [iophk: “for some special definitions of ‘donate’”; Zuckerberg appears to be embracing Bill Gates’ method of tax evasion, to shelter is his growing wealth.]

      Facebook Inc. Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg has made his first big share sale to fund his family’s philanthropic initiative.

      The sale of more than 760,000 shares of Facebook stock, valued at about $95 million, was made by Chan Zuckerberg Initiative Holdings and the Chan Zuckerberg Foundation, according to a regulatory filing Friday. The price of the shares ranged from $122.85 to $124.31.

    • How Trump and Christie Colluded to Steal $25 Million From NJ Taxpayers

      The very thought of New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, a man with all the charm and temperament of Bluto, being commander-in-chief was luckily destroyed. His pathetic and nonexistent presidential run proved that America preferred an even bigger, louder and more unstable narcissistic a-hole in Donald Trump. But since he can’t keep being governor of New Jersey forever, the blob of buffoonery has to kiss up to Trump in the hopes that it gets him an unelectable cabinet-level position. Well, that cynical effort appears to be playing out quite beautifully.

      The sketchy relationship between Christie and Trump took on a new chapter after a New York Times report showed that Trump’s $30 million casino tax debt, something New Jersey officials fought endlessly to collect, was suddenly reduced by a massive amount after Christie took office in 2010.

    • Detroit Ready to Sue Banks, Private Companies for Unpaid Property Taxes

      Detroit has finally set its sights on some of the real culprits of the city’s financial crisis—the banks and for-profit companies that refuse to pay their share.

      The city on Wednesday said it issued demand letters to 1,543 private entities, both residential and commercial, to recoup more than $12 million in unpaid property taxes, which piled up between 2010 and 2012 alone.

      If they don’t pony up, the city will file lawsuits against them by the end of the month, officials said.

      “For too long, there are those who chose not to pay what they owed in taxes, leaving everyone else to pay the price,” Detroit’s treasurer and deputy chief financial officer David Szymanski said Wednesday. “We are working to improve city services for our residents, and to do that—whether it’s better police and fire protection, streetlights or better schools for our children—we need everyone who does business in this city to pay their fair share.”

    • CBO Report: Rich Get Richer, Poor Get Poorer

      Total wealth in the United States doubled between 1989 and 2013, but the wealth of the American family right in the middle of the economy barely budged in that time, according to a new report prepared by the Congressional Budget Office for U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.).

      “Over the period from 1989 through 2013, family wealth grew at significantly different rates for different segments of the U.S. population,” CBO wrote. “The distribution of wealth among the nation’s families was more unequal in 2013 than it had been in 1989.”

    • Sanders Condemns Obscene Levels of Inequality Documented in New CBO Report

      Yet another report, this one from the U.S. Congressional Budget Office (CBO), highlights what many American families already know: The rich keep getting richer, while everyone else keeps struggling to get by.

      The CBO report, released Thursday and prepared at the request of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), examines trends in family wealth from 1989 to 2013.

      It found, unsurprisingly, that the distribution of wealth—assets including home equity, other real estate holdings, financial securities, and defined contribution pension accounts—among the nation’s families “was more unequal in 2013 than it had been in 1989.”

    • ‘Good to Be King’: The Very Good Loans Key Lawmakers Get from Wall Street Banks

      A new study identifies “a direct channel through which financial institutions contribute to the net worth of members of the U.S. Congress”—especially those ostensibly tasked with overseeing those very Wall Street entities.

      The paper from London Business School professors Ahmed Tahoun and Florin Vasvari, which is based on a “unique dataset” provided by the Center for Responsive Politics (CRP), finds that members of Congress sitting on the finance committees in the Senate and the House of Representatives “report greater levels of leverage and new liabilities as a proportion of their total net worth, relative to when they are not part of the finance committee or relative to other congressional members.”

      The authors write that their analysis was “motivated in part by anecdotal evidence suggesting that some U.S. politicians, who are in a position to potentially affect the future performance of financial institutions that lend to them, have allegedly received preferential treatments from lenders.”

    • Whistleblower Rejects Award to Protest SEC and Wall Street’s “Looting”

      A Deutsche Bank whistleblower rejected his portion of a $16.5 million award for exposing corporate crime because the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) let bank officials off the hook, he said Thursday.

      Former risk manager Eric Ben-Artzi, who went to federal authorities in 2010 after he was fired from Deutsche Bank for alerting its officials of improper accounting, said the bank and the SEC were so deeply entwined in a revolving-door culture that commissioners refused to properly investigate the firm’s top executives.

      “This goes beyond the typical revolving door story. In this case, top SEC lawyers had held senior posts at the bank, moving in and out of top positions at the regulator even as the investigations into malfeasance at Deutsche were ongoing,” Ben-Artzi wrote in an op-ed for the Financial Times.

    • Progressives Gear Up To Kill TPP In Lame-Duck Congress

      As Hillary Clinton’s election victory appears increasingly likely, liberal groups already have their sights on the next battle: defeating the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal.

      President Barack Obama issued an official notification last Friday that he plans to submit the Trans-Pacific Partnership for a vote in Congress.

      While congressional Republican leaders must still green-light the votes, the move has confirmed for many progressive activists that the White House plans to go all-in for the accord during the lame-duck session of Congress after the November election.

    • Trump and Clinton’s free trade retreat: a pivotal moment for the world’s economic future

      Enemies in politics and opposed on nearly all fronts, Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton have found themselves united together against Barack Obama and a tradition that has kept America in charge of the world economy’s rules for more than 70 years. The next president of the United States is rethinking free trade.

      In Washington, that tradition was taken for granted for so long that it rarely attracted much attention even in the business press, let alone dominated the politics pages of an entire election season. But in 2016, America’s faltering faith in free trade has become the most sensitive controversy in DC – never before have both main presidential candidates broken with the orthodoxy that globalisation is always good for Americans.

    • As Resistance Mounts, TPP Becoming 2016 Election’s Third Rail

      As the White House prepares for its final “all-out push” to pass the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) during the upcoming lame-duck session of Congress, lawmakers on both sides of the political aisle are being made vulnerable due to growing opposition to the controversial, corporate-friendly trade deal.

      “[I]n 2016,” the Guardian reported on Saturday, “America’s faltering faith in free trade has become the most sensitive controversy in D.C.”

      Yet President Barack Obama “has refused to give up,” wrote Guardian journalists Dan Roberts and Ryan Felton, despite the fact that the 12-nation TPP “suddenly faces a wall of political opposition among lawmakers who had, not long ago, nearly set the giant deal in stone.”

    • How Parasitic Finance Capital Has Turned Iran’s Economy Into a Case of Casino Capitalism

      Critics have often blamed President Rouhani of Iran for blindly following the neoclassical-neoliberal model of capitalism. The critical problem with Mr. Rouhani’s economic policies, however, is more than just following the dominant economic model of neoliberalism; more gravely, it is following the worst aspects of that model.

      One such disturbing aspect is the unregulated and out-of-control financialization of Iran’s economy: the banking/financial sector is given a free rein to engage in all kinds of parasitic, speculative activities. As this practice has robbed the manufacturing sector of the economy of the productively-investible finance capital, it has thereby led to a severe economic stagnation and high rates of unemployment.

    • McDonalds Could Be Held Liable For Franchise Wage Theft, Federal Judge Rules

      A federal judge in California allowed class action wage theft litigation to proceed against McDonald’s, on the grounds that a jury could find it guilty of negligence.

      Judge Richard Seeborg said Tuesday that the lawsuit against the corporation may continue under the “ostensible agency theory.”

      The doctrine holds an actor responsible for the fault of another, if victims reasonably believe that the perpetrator committed wrongdoing in the employ of said actor.

      The case involves McDonald’s franchise co-owners, Bobby and Carol Haynes, who operate eight restaurants in Northern California. Leading the class are three women who work in one of their Oakland restaurants: Guadalupe Salazar, Judith Zarate, and Genoveva Lopez.

      “Looking at the record, there is considerable evidence, albeit subject to dispute, that McDonalds caused plaintiffs reasonably to believe Haynes was acting as its agent,” Seeborg ruled.

    • Economic Update: The System Exposed

      This episode of Professor Wolff’s radio show discusses the economics of the Olympics, mass transit, productivity truths and the crimes of the Pacific Gas and Electric Company. The show also examines political conflict between unions and the rich.

    • The Fight for a Six Hour Workday

      How long should we work? Jeremy Corbyn’s proposal of a 6-hour working day policy shows the answer to this question is not a god-given fact. In reality each society makes a deliberate decision, and the answers are subject to massive historical fluctuation and social struggle, which we continue to see today. When Francois Hollande announced this year that the 35-hour week would be increased, he was met with the #LoiTravail strikes, which were fierce enough to see the exhausted French police begging the trade unions for a ceasefire. With the biggest social-democratic party in Europe putting 6 hours forward, this is now a move which could feasibly take place. But what are the arguments for and against it? What did the working day look like in the past? And how could it look in the future?

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s Primary Challenger Claims She Illegally Used DNC Resources Against Him

      In an interview with Mimi Rosenberg and Ken Nash of WBAI’s “Building Bridges” radio program, Tim Canova, a law professor, a former Truthdigger of the Week and the Bernie Sanders-endorsed primary challenger of Florida Democrat Debbie Wasserman Schultz, explains why he filed a formal complaint with the Federal Election Commission against Wasserman Schultz over information found in DNC emails made public by WikiLeaks and says Depression-era types of public investment would bring general prosperity to Americans.

      “We’ve had this complaint going on for many months,” Canova said. “The campaign had been growing pretty rapidly. In the first four months we raised about a million dollars. Very unprecedented here. And the way we’re raising money is very much the way that the Bernie Sanders campaign did, in small contributions from many thousands of ordinary folks.

      “As the campaign started growing we clearly got the attention of Wasserman Schultz and the Democratic Party establishment. We knew that from a number of things that she was doing on the ground that she was trying to impede us. Whenever I would go to a local union hall, for instance, or a local Democratic Party club to speak, quite often they would receive a call from the Wasserman Schultz camp trying to pressure them to not let me even speak. … [T]he state party had cut off our access to the [inaudible] voter database much like the DNC had done to Bernie Sanders.

    • Will Donald Trump’s Shake-Up Destroy the GOP?

      Shaken by the fact that he’s losing, Donald Trump has fled into the parallel universe of the extreme right—and apparently plans to stay there for the remainder of the campaign. Let’s see if the rest of the Republican Party is dumb enough to follow him.

      Trump has reportedly been feeling “boxed in” and “controlled” by the few people around him who actually know something about politics. Advice from these professionals to tone it down must be responsible for his slide in the polls, he seems to believe. So he has hired as chief executive of his campaign a man named Stephen Bannon, who will not only let Trump be Trump, but encourage him to be even Trumpier.

      Bannon runs Breitbart News, a website that creates its own ultranationalist far-right reality—one that often bears little resemblance to the world as it really is. As I write, the site is claiming that Hillary Clinton has some serious undisclosed health problem (her doctor says she is just fine), that one of Clinton’s aides has “very clear ties” to radical Islam (which is totally untrue) and that Clinton herself has “clear ties” to Russian President Vladimir Putin (when in fact it is Trump who often reveals his man-crush on the Russian leader).

    • Is the GOP Ready to Cut Trump off Financially?

      It’s make or break time for the Republican Party. Its ticket leader, GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump, is now so far behind Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton in the polls that no candidate in the last 16 elections has lagged at this point in the race and still won the White House in November. Does the party keep pushing for a win at the top, or does it regroup and focus down ballot in the hopes of keeping the Senate and House?

    • Clinton’s list of bundlers shorter than Obama’s, and she’s disclosing less

      Clinton has so far received at least $49.6 million from nearly 500 bundlers, or individual fundraisers who collect money from friends and acquaintances in order to deliver a candidate a “bundle” of checks. As for her opponent Donald Trump? There’s no way to tell, as he has not made any moves to release information on his campaign bundlers.

      Though federal campaign law requires the disclosure only of bundlers who are registered lobbyists, most White House candidates in recent elections have opted to share a fuller list of names. But in the last presidential election, Mitt Romney became the first major-party nominee since 2000 to keep his bundlers private, and so far, Trump has done the same.

      While Clinton has released a list, her campaign is disclosing less than previous Democratic candidates. In 2008 and 2012, bundlers were grouped in tiers — those who gathered between $50,000 and $100,000, between $100,000 and $200,000, between $200,000 and $500,000, and more than $500,000. Clinton has instead simply released the names of everyone who has bundled more than $100,000, with no specifics about amounts raised beyond that.

    • Voting Rights Victories Piling Up

      On November 4, 2014, seven Native Americans living on the Turtle Mountain reservation in North Dakota went to cast their ballots for the general election. All were turned away.

      They were U.S. citizens, longtime county residents, and had voted in North Dakota before. So what was the holdup?

      For Dorothy Herman, 75, it was an expired state ID.

      Herman, a 43-year resident of North Dakota who lives on retirement from her years as a teacher and her husband’s Social Security, had twice tried to renew her ID before Election Day. One day, she traveled 10 miles to the nearest licensing office only to find it closed during posted hours. On her second attempt, she was informed that her expired license was not proof enough of her identity—she also needed a birth certificate, a document that nearly a third of North Dakota Native Americans who need state ID cards to vote don’t have, according to one study. By the time she found it, returned to the office a third time, and paid $8 for her renewed ID card, she had missed the election.

    • Liberal Hate for the Green Party

      Liberals have joined Hillary Clinton’s “big nasty tent” in a very big way. They have moved far beyond the usual rationales for sticking with the Democrats and are now carrying on a full-fledged hate fest. Their targets are Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein and her running mate Ajamu Baraka, who is also a Black Agenda Report editor and columnist.

      The screeds have become more and more extreme and defy the run of the mill rationales that progressives use to justify remaining within Democratic Party lines. Holding one’s nose and voting for the “lesser evil” democrat is passé. So is fear of Republican judicial appointments. Concern for abortion rights doesn’t cut it anymore.

      Liberals are no longer going through the motions of criticizing the Democrat. Instead they openly show love for Hillary Clinton and disdainfully pile on Stein and Baraka with fury. The blog Wonkette called Jill Stein “cunty” and “a mendacious nihilist piece of shit.” The site Very Smart Brothas declared that a vote for Stein was akin to putting it in the trash. They also threw in a dig at Cornel West because he dared to criticize Barack Obama. The Huffington Post chose to deride Green Party convention delegates because they ate at McDonald’s. Gawker tried to link Ajamu Baraka to holocaust denial. His unassailable human rights credentials didn’t mean much when the media decided to go into attack mode.

      The list is long and will get longer between now and Election Day. The degree of antipathy is actually quite useful. It tells us why the Green Party is so important and why liberals are such a dangerous enemy.

    • Steve Bannon Is Trump’s New Anti-Establishment Attack Dog

      Bannon is close to Nigel Farage, the former head of the right-wing UK Independence Party, who offered “massive thanks” to Breitbart News for supporting the party’s successful campaign on behalf of Britain’s departure from the European Union. “Your UKIP team is just incredible,” Bannon told Farage during an interview after the June Brexit vote.

    • Are Donald Trump, Stephen Bannon, and Roger Ailes Cooking Up a Post-Election Media Empire? The Frightening Possibility of a Trump TV Network Combining the Extremism of Breitbart News and Fox News

      Before he became the chairman of Breitbart News, Stephen Bannon worked in the Mergers & Acquisitions Department at Goldman Sachs. For the past year, Bannon has merged Breitbart News with Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, hoping to acquire more and more influence as a frequent Trump advisor and, as of this week, as the campaign’s CEO.

      After Trump loses, don’t be surprised to see Bannon join forces with Trump and Roger Ailes (the former Fox News guru deposed for engaging in sexual harassment of employees who recently jumped aboard Trump’s sinking ship) to create a new right-wing media conglomerate — Trump TV or Trump Media — linking Breitbart News to a new cable network that will almost make Fox News look tame and responsible. Together, Trump, Ailes and Bannon would run their media empire to advance their common goals: gaining political influence, massaging their massive egos, moving the Republican Party further to the right, attacking Democrats and liberal ideas, and promoting a neo-fascist agenda combining xenophobia, racism, sexism, government-bashing, and anti-immigrant nativism.

    • Hillary’s Hubris: Only Tell the Rich for $5000 a Minute!

      There is a growing asymmetry between the media’s mounting demands for Donald Trump to release his tax returns (Hillary has done so) and their diminishing demands that Hillary Clinton release the secret transcripts of her $5000 per minute speeches before closed-door banking conferences and other business conventions.

      The Washington Post, an endorser of Clinton, in its August 18 issue devoted another round of surmising as to why Trump doesn’t want to release his tax returns—speculating that he isn’t as rich as he brags he is, that he pays little or no taxes, and that he gives little to charity. Other media outlets endorsing Hillary have been less than vociferous in demanding that she release what she told business leaders in these pay-to-play venues.

      When asked last year about her transcripts on Meet the Press, she said she would look into it. When the questions persisted in subsequent months, she said she would release the transcripts only if everybody else did. Bernie Sanders replied that he had no transcripts because he doesn’t give paid speeches to business audiences. Nonetheless she continues to be evasive.

    • Dem candidate’s dad chips in $1 million to Senate super-PAC

      Democratic Senate candidate Rep. Patrick Murphy (Fla.) is getting a major financial boost as his campaign heads into the final stretch, courtesy of a $1 million check from his father.
      Thomas Murphy, a Florida home builder, gave the seven-figure sum to the Harry Reid-linked Senate Majority PAC — the group’s largest donation in July, according to the Federal Election Commission.

      The congressman has long benefited from his father’s financial largesse; Thomas Murphy shelled out six-figure super-PAC contributions to help him win his Florida congressional seat in 2012.

      On July 15, two days after the $1 million check landed in the Senate Majority PAC account, the super-PAC announced to the Washington Post its plans to launch a $1 million ad buy in Florida.

      The reported aim was to help Murphy win his primary on Aug. 30 against liberal challenger Rep. Alan Grayson, who is openly opposed by Democratic leadership.

    • The Half-Life of Deindustrialization: Why Donald Trump Is Just A Symptom

      Every four years, the white working class gets a fresh round of attention from candidates and the media. At campaign stops in Rust Belt cities, candidates promise to fix the economy, while pundits yet again claim that white working-class voters are the key to election victory. The pattern is being repeated this year, but this time, both the news media and social media seem especially baffled by the attitudes and behavior of working-class voters.

      As a number of commentators have noted, the roots of this year’s populism lie in deindustrialization, though some seem baffled that white working-class people are still troubled by either NAFTA, which went into effect in 1994, or the loss of industrial jobs, which peaked in the early 1980s. In a recent New York Times column, David Brooks suggested that working-class people should not be so strongly affected by the economic hardship of deindustrialization. After all, he suggested, it’s not as if life in a coal town was ever easy. What he and others don’t realize is that deindustrialization was never only about economics. Its economic, social and psychological effects continue for decades after plants closed and across generations, affecting the worldviews of younger people who never worked in steel mills or auto plants. Like radioactive waste, deindustrialization has a half-life.

    • Independent Women’s Forum and Independent Women’s Voice Use “Independent” Brand to Push Right-Wing Agenda to Women Voters

      The Independent Women’s Forum and its 501(c)(4) affiliate, the Independent Women’s Voice, market themselves to the media and voters as “non-partisan,” “independent,” and “neutral.”

      However, a new investigation of the groups by the Center for Media and Democracy (CMD) reveals them to be anything but that. Joan Walsh in the Nation broke this story today along with other new details about these not-so independent women’s groups.

      CMD’s Reporters’ Guide exposes the groups’ leaders admitting to—and boasting about—their true role for what it is: finding ways to sell right-wing policies and candidates favored by their funders to reach independent women voters under the guise of neutrality.

    • Hillary Goes With the Flow

      One of Team Hillary’s lines is that a vote for her is a vote for President Obama’s “legacy.” It is; for his legacy as a protector and enabler of an overripe capitalist system and the economic predators and earth despoilers it raises to the top.

      There aren’t very many at the top of the heap; enthusiastic sloganeers sometimes peg the number as low as a fraction of one percent. But, under Obama, as under all his predecessors since the economy took a neoliberal turn, they have been making out like the bandits they are, while everyone else has had to struggle, often in vain, not to fall behind. Count on Hillary to keep that going.

    • Hillary and the War Party

      You haven’t heard much from the Democrats lately about foreign policy or global agendas – indeed virtually nothing at the Philadelphia convention and little worthy of mention along the campaign trail. Hillary Clinton’s many liberal (and sadly, progressive) supporters routinely steer away from anything related to foreign policy, talk, talk, talking instead about the candidate’s “experience”, with obligatory nods toward her enlightened social programs. There is only the ritual demonization of that fearsome dictator, Vladimir Putin, reputedly on the verge of invading some hapless European country. Even Bernie Sanders’ sorry endorsement of his erstwhile enemy, not long ago denounced as a tool of Wall Street, had nothing to say about global issues. But no one should be fooled: a Clinton presidency, which seems more likely by the day, can be expected to stoke a resurgent U.S. imperialism, bringing new cycles of militarism and war. The silence is illusory: Clintonites, now as before, are truly obsessed with international politics.

    • Jill Stein on BDS and Israel
    • A Cheap Shot at Bernie Sanders’ Summer Home

      Charles Lane and other Washington Post editorialists defend neocon and neoliberal orthodoxies by demonizing foreign leaders who step out of line and now by making fun of Bernie Sanders for buying a summer home, writes Robert Parry.

    • Donald Trump Casts Himself as Mr. Brexit, Mistaking Depth of Anti-Immigrant Sentiment in U.S.

      As John Lanchester noted in the London Review of Books, the campaign appealed primarily to white working class voters who, with good reason, felt left behind by the increasingly globalized economy, and vented their anger at migrant workers. Trump’s anti-immigrant campaign has been structured like this from the beginning, and he clearly hopes for a similar result.

      What that argument overlooks, however, are quite different demographics — and the crucial difference between attitudes about immigration in the two countries.

      As a Pew Research Center survey published in July showed, residents of the U.K. were closely divided on the question of whether “having an increasing number of people of many different races, ethnic groups and nationalities in our country” made Britain a better or worse place to live — with 33 percent saying “better” and 31 percent saying “worse”. By contrast, a majority of Americans, 58 percent, said “better,” and just 7 percent said “worse.”

    • Column: It’s time for black people to break the two-party system

      White supporters of Hillary Clinton are concerned with the rise of neo-­fascism, of what a Trump presidency would mean for the fragile economic sector, foreign policy, immigration and social progress. For Trump supporters, a world of black and brown people pouring through American borders is a dastardly reality that must ultimately be confronted and curbed through racist, ideological litmus tests for incoming immigrants, draconian and impractical measures against the undocumented and isolationist economic policies that are sure to disrupt our precarious economy.

    • Green Party candidate Jill Stein calls for climate state of emergency

      Presidential hopeful points to California wildfires and Louisiana flooding in push for Green New Deal to address both environment and economy

    • More than half of Clinton Foundation’s major donors would be barred under new rule

      More than half of the Clinton Foundation’s major donors would be prevented from contributing to the charity under the self-imposed ban on corporate and foreign donors the foundation said this week it would adopt if Hillary Clinton won the White House, according to a new Washington Post analysis of foundation donations.

      The findings underscore the extent to which the Clintons’ sprawling global charity has come to rely on financial support from industries and overseas interests, a point that has drawn criticism from Republicans and some liberals who have said the donations represent conflicts of interest for a potential president.

    • Who Is Your Choice for President? [Ed: with over 1000 votes, Jill Stein at 80%]

      Donald Trump’s campaign went through some big changes during the week, and Hillary Clinton faced criticism for some of her own staffing choices. Third-party candidates Jill Stein and Gary Johnson ramped up their media presence. And some of the biggest challenges to politicians stemmed from environmental disasters, as flooding in Louisiana and wildfires in Southern California led to renewed attention on the impact of climate change.

    • Let Gary Johnson, Jill Stein enter presidential debates

      On its website, the Commission on Presidential Debates states that it was established “to ensure that debates “provide the best possible information to viewers and listeners.”

    • Hey Bernie Sanders, You Should Vote For Jill Stein

      I heard about you and Jane buying a new home on the beach and I couldn’t stop smiling, thinking about you out there chillin, grandkids running around, toes in the sand, drinking a Heady Topper or two, or three, or four, reflecting over the past year and a half.

      Even though I dedicated my entire life to getting you elected, there was always this small part of me that wanted you to just go home and relax.

    • Maryland Green Party Forum 2016

      Candidates discuss clean energy policy, challenging corporate power, and improving investment in Baltimore City

    • Jill Stein Makes History as First Green Party Candidate to Hold Town Hall on Prime-Time TV (Video)

      Green Party presidential nominee Jill Stein and her running mate, Ajamu Baraka, addressed voters on CNN on Wednesday night in an hour-long town hall meeting in which they outlined their “Green New Deal.” Stein also told the public she would “have trouble sleeping at night if either Trump or Clinton is elected” and reiterated her goal to build on Bernie Sanders’ “political revolution.”

    • Hillary Clinton’s Choice of Ken Salazar Comes Under Fire (Video)

      Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez of “Democracy Now!” dive deeper into Salazar’s politics in an interview with David Sirota, senior editor for investigations at International Business Times. Sirota explains that the beliefs of those working on Clinton’s transition team are “very important to understanding what may be coming in a Clinton administration policywise and whether those policies in a Clinton administration will reflect the policy promises from Hillary Clinton on the campaign trail.”

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • How to turn on Twitter’s quality filters and silence trolls

      Twitter has finally come up with a solution to muzzle trolls.

      The company published a blog post on Thursday announcing two new controls for filtering your notifications. Twitter notifications are the primary method through which trolls can contact and harass users.

      The first new setting reduces the noise in your notifications stream. By default, anyone who mentions your Twitter username with the “@” symbol shows up in your Twitter notifications. It doesn’t matter if they’re asking a simple question, offering constructive criticism, or threatening to cut your head off. Everyone shows up.

    • Hey Sexters, Here’s a Very Good Reason to Care About Porn Laws

      Most of us tend to think of pornographers, and porn law, as being about one very specific set of people: namely, those who make a living recording people fucking and selling or freely distributing the resulting photos and video. But in the eyes of the law, it’s not quite that simple.

      As technology has made it easier for anyone to create and distribute dirty pictures and videos, it’s become harder to see where the pornographers end and the rest of us pervs begin—and that could mean that the aggressive laws designed to crack down on “evil” pornographers could potentially spill over into the lives of ordinary citizens.

      Take, for instance, 18 U.S.C. § 2257 and § 2257A, the federal statutes that govern adult industry record keeping and reporting. Ostensibly designed to prevent the distribution of child porn, these regulations—which are much more about maintaining proper paperwork than they are about not exploiting minors—aren’t just for people who actually create porn. They also outline strict regulations for anyone who distributes sexual media to the masses, no matter how far that person is from the actual creation of the original media.

    • British man imprisoned in Dubai over Facebook post raising money for refugees in Afghanistan

      A British man has been imprisoned for almost a month in Dubai over a Facebook post raising money for refugees in Afghanistan.

      Scott Richards unwittingly fell foul of the United Arab Emirates’ “bizarre” laws banning the operation of any charity not registered in the country.

      Police said the 42-year-old, who holds dual British and Australian citizenship, was arrested after using social media to promote a US-based crowd funding campaign.

      The offending link was to a Go Fund Me page raising money to buy blankets for families at the Chahari Qambar refugee camp near Kabul, where children froze to death in 2012.

    • Gawker’s Flagship Site Will Shut Down After Univision Deal

      Gawker.com is shutting down, marking the final chapter for a pioneer in online media and one of the most controversial publishers on the web.

      Nick Denton, the founder of Gawker Media, told the site’s staff that it will end operations next week, according to a post on its website. Gawker.com’s archives will still be available, Denton said in a memo to employees.

      Earlier this week Univision Holdings Inc. made the winning $135 million bid to acquire Gawker Media, which also published the sports website Deadspin, the women’s site Jezebel, the tech site Gizmodo and others. The company was driven into bankruptcy in June after losing an invasion-of-privacy lawsuit to Hulk Hogan. Univision is expected to use Gawker’s other websites to bolster its growing digital footprint, which includes the websites the Root, the Onion and A.V. Club.

      In his memo Thursday, Denton confirmed that he won’t be working for Univision and instead will “move on to other projects, working to make the web a forum for the open exchange of ideas and information, but out of the news and gossip business.”

    • China Censorship Orders Media Not to Report on “Miseries” of Olympic Athletes

      Chinese censor organs have ordered its media to stop reporting news related to problems and failures of Chinese athletes during their participation in the ongoing Rio Olympic Games, and focus more on their patriotism.

      “Do not report on the miseries of Olympic athletes; report more on (their) patriotic spirit,” said a directive sent to the country’s media and published online by the “Ministry of Truth” dedicated to leaking these almost secret orders of Chinese censorship.

      The order was leaked recently as China delivers its worst Olympic performance and coupled with the emergence of local athletes with strong personalities such as the swimmer Fu Yuanhui, which has changed the direction of the Chinese press, focusing more on the human side of athletes than their glory.

    • Why Palestine Matters, Even on the Pitch

      It is not Israel’s Jewish character that is the issue, as those who attempt to delegitimise the Palestinian struggle and those who support it continually maintain. It is Israel’s apartheid character that is the issue, and where better to demonstrate resistance to apartheid than in a packed football stadium alongside thousands of others.

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Care.data is dead – long live care.data?
    • Security companies scramble following leak of NSA toolkit
    • NSA leaked files, confirm new documents
    • The NSA was hacked, confirmed by the Snowden Documents
    • Edward Snowden archive prove malware & exploits dumped on public internet on Monday originated from NSA
    • Russian hacks against the Democrats and the NSA expose the weaknesses of our democracy [Ed: The ToryGraph blames Russia for TWO things WITHOUT evidence: DNC leaks and NSA crack]
    • Yup! The NSA Got Hacked
    • The NSA was hacked- so is unfettered government surveillance a good thing?

      Many of those skeptical of Snowden-esque critiques of the surveillance state rely on an argument: “If you don’t have anything to hide, there is no reason to be concerned.” But now that the NSA itself has been hacked, it means the tools to breach your own identity— your bank accounts, credit cards, medical records— are out there. Snowden’s warnings have been found to be the height of prudence.

    • The cyber war that’s breaking out between the US and Russia
    • The NSA Hack Shows Why the U.S. Government Shouldn’t Stockpile Software Vulnerabilities

      Earlier this week, top secret code written by one of the NSA’s most clandestine branches was released on the internet. Among other things, it contains a cache of technologically sophisticated hacking tools.

    • Snowden Docs Support Claim NSA Cyberweapons Stolen, Report Says
    • Cisco Firewall Products Targeted by NSA Hacking Tools

      Cisco this week acknowledged that some of its firewall appliance products are being targeted by purportedly leaked U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) hacking tools.

    • Should feds worry about the NSA leak?
    • After the NSA Hack: Cybersecurity in an Even More Vulnerable World
    • Quartz
    • Snowden Documents Confirm The NSA Hack Is Real
    • Australia in top three vulnerable to Cisco firewall attack
    • Snowden documents confirm that leaked hacking tools belong to NSA
    • NSA Vulnerabilities Trove Reveals ‘Mini-Heartbleed’ For Cisco PIX Firewalls
    • New Snowden docs support claim of NSA cyberweapon hack
    • New Snowden documents prove the hacked NSA files are real

      Edward Snowden Former US National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden appears live by video during a student-organized world-affairs conference at the Upper Canada College private high school in Toronto on February 2, 2015.

    • Hack of NSA ‘cyber weapons’ verified by Snowden docs – report
    • Snowden documents show NSA leak is real
    • New Snowden docs suggest Shadow Broker leak was real
    • The latest NSA leak shows why it’s so hard to trust even tech designed to keep computers safe

      Leaked National Security Agency hacking tools are exposing how even the technology designed to safeguard our computer networks can put users at risk — and how poor security practices like clinging to old equipment can make things worse.

    • ‘Auction’ of NSA Tools Sends Security Companies Scrambling

      The leak of what purports to be a National Security Agency hacking tool kit has set the information security world atwitter — and sent major companies rushing to update their defenses.

      Experts across the world are still examining what amount to electronic lock picks. Here’s what they’ve found so far.

    • Snowden documents show NSA leak is real: report

      Such access would enable the NSA to plant malware in rivals’ systems and monitor – or even attack – their networks.

    • NSA cybersecurity hack – this is what happened

      Shadow Brokers posted online some examples of the data it said it had stolen, including scripts and instructions for breaking through firewall protection.

    • Cyber espionage: A new cold war?

      This is a tale of spies, a $500m cyber arms heist, accusations of an attempt to manipulate a US presidential election and an increasingly menacing digital war being waged between Russia and the west.

    • NSA Hacked, Cyber Weapon Toolkit Theft Confirmed By Snowden Docs
    • US hacked NTC to spy on Pakistan military, political leadership: Snowden documents
    • NSA spied on Pakistani civil-military leadership
    • US spied on Pakistan through hacking tools
    • US hacked NTC to spy on Pakistan military, political leadership: Snowden documents

      The United States hacked into targets in the Pakistan’s National Telecommunications Corporation (NTC) to spy on the country’s political and military leadership, documents released by former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden confirm.

      According to a report by online news site The Intercept, the previously unpublished documents released by Snowden confirm that some of the NSA’s top-secret code has been leaked or hacked.

      The Intercept’s editors include journalists that worked with Snowden to publicise his notorious 2013 NSA leak revealing the extent of government snooping on private data.

    • US spied on Pakistan’s leaderships: Snowden

      United States spied on the political and military leaderships of Pakistan and also hacked their data, according to the documents released by dissent whistleblower Edward Snowden. This was reported by Aaj News in its headline stories here on Saturday.

      The files Snowden took from the agency in 2013 say a top-secret NSA manual contains the same 16-character alphanumeric tracking code that appears throughout a portion of code released online earlier this week by a group called The ShadowBrokers. The group was auctioning off the code, which it said was stolen from the NSA. The relevant code was reportedly part of a program dubbed SECONDDATE that was used to spy on Pakistan and Lebanon.

    • Industry pros react to Cisco, Fortinet advisories after possible Snowden NSA leak

      Ridley agreed, noting that he expects the actionable takeaway of the leaked exploits will be technical. He told SCMagazine.com that security pros “need to start architecting networks to assume both devices and endpoints are compromised, and minimize the lateral movement to minimize damage.”

    • Evidence Links Leaked Hacking Tools to the NSA

      “NSA malware staging servers getting hacked by a rival is not new,” he wrote in a tweet, referring to private servers that are occasionally controlled by NSA agents, but not owned by the agency itself.

    • Equation Group’s BENIGNCERTAIN tool – a remote exploit to extract Cisco VPN private keys

      In the Equation Group dump that contained NSA hacking tools, there was an overlooked tool called BENIGNCERTAIN.

      Analysis of the tool shows that it appears to be a remote exploit for Cisco PIX devices that sends an Internet Key Exchange (IKE) packet to the victim machine, causing it to dump some of its memory. The memory dump can then be parsed to extract an RSA private key and other sensitive configuration information.

      The tool references Cisco PIX versions 5.2(9) to 6.3(4), which was released in 2004. It is also worth noting that the Cisco PIX line of products are at their end-of-life.

      The exploit consists of three binaries, each consisting of an individual step in the exploitation process.

      The first step is executing bc-genpkt, which generates an IKE packet of arbitrary size and fills some of it with arbitrary data.

    • NSA Hackers, Hacked

      Whatever the true identity and motives of the Shadow Brokers, there are some clear policy lessons to take away from this. The first concerns the “Vulnerability Equities Process“—which is how the American intelligence community decides whether and how long to hang on to software vulnerabilities they discover before notifying developers so that these cybersecurity holes can be patched. Back in 2014, federal cybersecurity coordinator Michael Daniel insisted in a post on the White House blog that the process is strongly weighted in favor of disclosure. The government, he assured the public, understands that “[b]uilding up a huge stockpile of undisclosed vulnerabilities while leaving the Internet vulnerable and the American people unprotected would not be in our national security interest.”

    • NSA leak rattles cybersecurity industry

      By exposing the custom-made malware online, the Shadow Brokers have suddenly made many of the systems American corporations rely on for cybersecurity more vulnerable to digital attacks from criminals and spies.

    • After Shadow Brokers, should the NSA still be hoarding vulnerabilities?

      This weekend’s Shadow Brokers leak dropped 300MB of stolen data onto the open web, including live exploits for some of the web’s most crucial network infrastructure, apparently stolen from the NSA in 2013. But while experts are still sorting out who stole the data and how, the new exploits have also left companies like Cisco, Fortinet, and Juniper scrambling to fix the newly published attacks against their systems. Suddenly, there was a new way into products that had been considered secure for years — and anyone who downloaded the data knew exactly how to get in.

    • In wake of NSA leaks, a call for transparency in cyber arms

      A leak of sensitive computer code is spurring calls for the government to be more transparent about its handling of a secret stockpile of network intrusion tactics.

      The leaked code, believed to be written by an NSA operation, contained new techniques to hack widely used hardware from Cisco, Fortinet and Juniper Networks.

      The leaks left countless computer networks vulnerable to hackers — something security professionals and government officials alike acknowledge is a risk of stockpiling these kinds of techniques.

      The government has a program in place to minimize that risk, called the Vulnerability Equities Process (VEP), which requires agencies to justify keeping a security vulnerability and report all other vulnerabilities to manufacturers so they can be repaired. While the VEP receives praise from civil libertarians as a considerable step up from countries making no similar effort, many are seizing on the NSA leaks to push for changes to the program.

      “One of the better things the Obama administration did was to create a presumption of disclosure,” said Gabe Rottman, deputy director of the Freedom, Security and Technology Project at the Center for Democracy and technology. “But being more open on the policy would be a good start.”

      The administration has revealed very little about the inner workings of the VEP. A White House board makes the ultimate decision of which vulnerabilities are kept by weighing investigative necessity against the harm that would be caused by the vulnerability going unfixed.

    • Snowden documents ‘show NSA leak is real’
    • Cisco wants to be a software company? Why customers should look beyond the hype [iophk: “it doesn’t matter, Cisco will be gone because of SDN, they are unlikely to recover from the NSA backdoor incidents”]

      Five years ago Forbes published an article called Now Every Company is a Software Company. The magazine wasn’t the first to notice this phenomenon and it certainly wasn’t the last but it did neatly articulate a view that has grown louder with each passing year since the era of the dot.com boom when the notion first gained currency.

    • 98 personal data points that Facebook uses to target ads to you

      Say you’re scrolling through your Facebook Newsfeed and you encounter an ad so eerily well-suited, it seems someone has possibly read your brain.

      Maybe your mother’s birthday is coming up, and Facebook’s showing ads for her local florist. Or maybe you just made a joke aloud about wanting a Jeep, and Instagram’s promoting Chrysler dealerships.

      Whatever the subject, you’ve seen ads like this. You’ve wondered — maybe worried — how they found their way to you.

      Facebook, in its omniscience, knows that you’re wondering — and it would like to reassure you. The social network just revamped its ad preference settings to make them significantly easier for users to understand. They’ve also launched a new ad education portal, which explains, in general terms, how Facebook targets ads.

    • Australia v New Zealand: All Blacks hotel room in Sydney ‘bugged’

      New Zealand Rugby says a Sydney hotel room where the All Blacks held meetings was bugged before their first Bledisloe Cup match against Australia.

      The New Zealand Herald reported that a “sophisticated” listening device found on Monday had been hidden in a chair.

      The All Blacks beat Australia’s Wallabies 42-8 on Saturday.

      The CEO of New Zealand Rugby, Steve Tew, said in a statement that Australian police and the Australian Rugby Union (ARU) had been informed.

      Saturday’s game is the first of three in the annual Bledisloe Cup between Australia and New Zealand – which the All Blacks have not lost in 13 years.

      Tew said: “We are taking this issue very seriously, and given it will be a police matter, it would not be prudent to go into further details.”

      The New South Wales Police Force said in a statement that they had become aware of the allegation on Saturday, and had attended a hotel in Double Bay, an area of Sydney.

    • NSA Hacked – Keys to the Kingdom Stolen

      The biggest story in the news right now isn’t Donald Trump. The biggest story is the NSA was hacked and the “Keys to the Kingdom” were stolen. Someone managed to get hold of the NSA’s hacking tools used by their Tailored Access Operation unit. (TAO) What this means is that leterally everything that civilization depends on is now exposed.

      These tools exploit flaws in the operating systems of the computers and routers that make the internet work. The NSA keeps these flaws secret rather that informing companies like CISCO and Juniper of the flaw and give them the opportunity to fix them. The NSA has put their need to spy above the security of the world. And now the unthinkable has happened. Hackers have the power of the NSA and they could bring down civilization. Think of it as Y2K on steroids.

    • How the NSA snooped on encrypted Internet traffic for a decade

      In a revelation that shows how the National Security Agency was able to systematically spy on many Cisco Systems customers for the better part of a decade, researchers have uncovered an attack that remotely extracts decryption keys from the company’s now-decommissioned line of PIX firewalls.

      The discovery is significant because the attack code, dubbed BenignCertain, worked on PIX versions Cisco released in 2002 and supported through 2009. Even after Cisco stopped providing PIX bug fixes in July 2009, the company continued offering limited service and support for the product for an additional four years. Unless PIX customers took special precautions, virtually all of them were vulnerable to attacks that surreptitiously eavesdropped on their VPN traffic. Beyond allowing attackers to snoop on encrypted VPN traffic, the key extraction also makes it possible to gain full access to a vulnerable network by posing as a remote user.

      BenignCertain’s capabilities were tentatively revealed in this blog post from Thursday, and they were later confirmed to work on real-world PIX installations by three separate researchers. Before the confirmation came, Ars asked Cisco to investigate the exploit. The company declined, citing this policy for so-called end-of-life products. The exploit helps explain documents leaked by NSA contractor Edward Snowden and cited in a 2014 article that appeared in Der Spiegel. The article reported that the NSA had the ability to decrypt more than 1,000 VPN connections per hour.

    • FCC won’t back down on broadband users’ privacy

      There will be no lame-duck period for Tom Wheeler. The FCC chairman vowed this week to push ahead in the last months of 2016 to complete an ambitious agenda to reshape the rules governing broadband and “put a referee on the field to throw the flag on any future unjust or unreasonable activity.”

    • Google Glass strikes back

      The single most innovative wearable of all time has to be Google Glass.

      Yeah, I said it. And it’s true.

      If you read the tech blogs, you’d be forgiven for believing that Google Glass is a failed product, dead and gone. But in fact, the opposite is true.

      The Google Glass Explorer program succeeded wildly. Google is feverishly working on new kinds of Google Glass products, and the innovation around Google Glass never stopped.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Turkish airport advert warns travellers about Sweden rape danger

      A billboard displayed this week in Istanbul’s main airport warned travellers against visiting Sweden, describing it as having the highest rate of rape in the world, the latest salvo between EU-candidate Turkey and its European allies.

      Ties between Ankara and Europe have worsened since last month’s failed coup, with Turkey accusing its Western allies of insensitivity, saying they were more concerned about a subsequent crackdown than the coup itself.

    • Meet the robots that will help us win the wars of the future

      If former Marine and entrepreneur Sean Bielat has his way, the law enforcement officer tentatively approaching a vehicle in the future after making a traffic stop won’t be an officer at all. Rather, those are the kind of interactions — fraught with uncertainty, potentially dangerous — that seem to him to make perfect sense for one of his robots to deal with instead.

      [...]

      Among other things, Endeavor says that new system will increase the operational range of its robots in urban areas and other “radio-challenged” environments. Longer term company targets include things like getting the price of robot units down so clients like cash-strapped police departments can more easily afford them.

    • How Do Today’s Struggles for Justice Differ From Those of the 1930s?

      In the 1930s capitalism faced a very deep crisis, and the strategy for dealing with it was more or less one of two ways: either fascism, or the kind of social democracy of the New Deal, compromise with the domestic working class. The United States chose, on the whole, the new deal. Roosevelt, to a large extent, excluding Britain, which came very close to choosing fascism, didn’t. But certainly Europe did choose fascism. But many economists think not that far from another bout of quite deep crises. ‘07-‘08 was, many people say, a tip of the iceberg. And I think many people are getting ready for the next round that might be far more deep and more profound.

      You have the rise of a kind of neofascism in the United States that we once saw in many places in the world in the 1930s, and see again now in Europe in various forms. But on the other side, Hillary Clinton ain’t no Roosevelt. She’s not a proponent of the New Deal. The closest one could get to that was Bernie Sanders, and that clearly was crushed, that campaign, by the people that control the machinery of the Democratic Party. So what does that mean for people of the United States, and the choices they will make, and what might face them in the coming days?

    • Justice Dept. Announces Initiative to End Use of For-Profit Prisons
    • What You Need to Know About the DOJ’s Claim It Is Ending Private Prisons

      The U.S. Justice Department issued a memo, first reported Thursday by Matt Zapotosky and Chico Harlan of the Washington Post, in which the federal agency claims that it will end the use of private prisons.

      “I am eager to enlist your help in beginning the process of reducing—and ultimately ending—our use of privately operated prisons,” wrote Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates. “As you know, all of the Bureau’s existing contracts with private prison companies are term-limited and subject to renewal or termination. I am directing that, as each contract reaches the end of its term, the Bureau should either decline to renew that contract or substantially reduce its scope in a manner consistent with law and the overall decline of the Bureau’s inmate population.”s

    • Feds End Use of Private Prisons, but Questions Remain
    • DOJ Ending Use of Private Prisons: Will Decarceration Follow?

      Truthout’s Maya Schenwar says the announcement won’t affect federal immigration detention centers or state prisons

    • Private Prisons Are Far From Ended: 62 Percent of Immigrant Detainees Are in Privatized Jails

      The US Department of Justice’s decision to no longer use private prisons for its federal prisoners is a groundbreaking first step, but the August 18 announcement doesn’t spell the end to private prisons: Private prison corporations will continue to control 46 immigration detention centers that detain nearly 25,000 people (or 62 percent of the country’s 33,676 immigrant detainees) on any given day.

      It is perhaps telling that in the hours after the announcement made headlines yesterday, stock prices for both Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) and GEO Group, two of the country’s largest private prison corporations, dropped 40 percent, but by today they had started to climb again.

    • The DoJ is right to ditch private prisons. But it won’t do much in practice

      Just a week after a scathing report decrying the condition of private prisons in the US, the Department of Justice announced on Thursday that it would phase out their federal use by not renewing contracts for companies like GEO Group, Management of Training Corporation, and Correctional Corporations of America (CCA).

    • Sanders and Activists Say DOJ Ban on Private Prisons Doesn’t Go Far Enough
    • Sanders Applauds Decision to End Federal Use of Private Prisons
    • DOJ to End Use of Private Prisons: CCR Says DHS and ICE Must Do the Same
    • Admitting Failed Experiment, DOJ to Phase Out Private Prisons
    • Justice Department says it will end use of private prisons

      The Justice Department plans to end its use of private prisons after officials concluded the facilities are both less safe and less effective at providing correctional services than those run by the government.

      Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates announced the decision on Thursday in a memo that instructs officials to either decline to renew the contracts for private prison operators when they expire or “substantially reduce” the contracts’ scope. The goal, Yates wrote, is “reducing — and ultimately ending — our use of privately operated prisons.”

      “They simply do not provide the same level of correctional services, programs, and resources; they do not save substantially on costs; and as noted in a recent report by the Department’s Office of Inspector General, they do not maintain the same level of safety and security,” Yates wrote.

    • Why Is the Obama Administration Keeping Toddlers Behind Bars?

      Twenty-two mothers who have been interned with their children for up to a year in a for-profit immigration detention facility entered the ninth day of a hunger strike on Wednesday. Neither the mothers nor their children have committed any crimes, nor have they been charged with any. They have no idea when they will be released. Advocates and attorneys representing the women tell The Nation that their children are suffering, they feel that they’ve been lost in the system and their desire for freedom has become desperate.

    • Photos and Hunger Strikes Expose More Abuses in Migrant Detention

      Central American women holding a hunger strike at the Berks County Family Detention Center in rural Pennsylvania implored President Barack Obama to “set aside [his] vacation for 10 minutes and look at how we’re suffering locked up in here” on Wednesday, as they continued their second week of striking.

      The women, who are also mothers, said they will continue striking until they receive some word on their asylum petitions. Activists with the grassroots group Make the Road Pennsylvania, who spent several months protesting outside the facility in solidarity, have taken their action to Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts, where Obama is on break with his family.

    • Detained Undocumented Mothers Launch Hunger Strike, Vow to Leave ‘Alive or Dead’

      Dozens of undocumented women being held with their children at the Berks County Residential Center in Pennsylvania are on a hunger strike that they say will culminate in their leaving the facility “alive or dead.” The mothers are essentially being held prisoner under an Obama administration plan to detain undocumented families while their papers for asylum are being processed. Their children range in age from 2 to 16.

      A Philadelphia-based grass-roots organization called Juntos has been working to shut down Berks for nearly two years. It should not be such a difficult task, given that the facility is violating policy on many fronts. In an interview, Juntos Executive Director Erika Almiron told me that Berks was licensed as a “child residential facility” rather than a “detention center,” and that there is “no license that they can get in the state of Pennsylvania to fit what they want to do.” The detention center’s license expired in February, and Juntos and its allies pressured the Department of Human Services (akin to a child welfare department) to refuse renewal. But Berks County commissioners inexplicably appealed the decision. While the appeal is in process, the facility continues to operate and keep the women and children as prisoners.

      Meanwhile, the entire program of imprisoning immigrant families is under question. A year ago, a federal judge in California, Dolly Gee, found the practice in violation of the settlement of a class action lawsuit 18 years ago, known as the Flores agreement, and ordered the release of families. Yet the thousands of women and children being held at three facilities, including Berks (the other two are in Texas), continues. But at a press event earlier this month, U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson defended the ongoing detention in spite of Gee’s ruling, saying, “I think that we need to continue the practice so that we’re not just engaging in catch and release.”

    • The Justice Department Is Done With Private Prisons. Will ICE Drop Them Too?

      The Justice Department’s announcement on Thursday that it would seek to end the use of private contractors to run its federal prisons was a monumental one that quickly sent private prison stocks plunging and drew praise from dozens of human and civil rights groups that for years had been denouncing abuse and neglect in private facilities.

      In a memo explaining the decision, Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates wrote that private prisons “simply do not provide the same level of correctional services, programs, and resources,” “do not save substantially on costs,” and “do not maintain the same level of safety and security” as facilities operated by the Bureau of Prisons.

      But as the criminal justice community began to take stock of the news, many also expressed hopes that the DOJ would not be the only government agency to cut ties with the private companies, which also operate state prisons and immigration detention centers.

    • ‘They Are Incentivized to Arrest People Because It Raises Money’

      When Newt Gingrich comes out for criminal justice reform, you are right to look under the hood, to question just how deep this popular reform is intended to go. Any improvements that help real people are to be wished for, but policing and prisons are systems with deep and far-reaching roots in US life. We ought to have questions about reform that comes without an honest reckoning with the fact that some of what we call problems in the criminal justice system are not so much bugs as features.

    • The Justice Department’s Call to Axe Private-Prison Contracts Is A Victory. ICE Must Now Do the Same to End Federal Prison Profiteering.

      In a bluntly-worded memo issued yesterday, the U.S. Department of Justice directed the Federal Bureau of Prisons to begin phasing out all of its contracts with private prisons.

      Private prisons, the memo stated, “compare poorly” to federally run prisons. They “simply do not provide the same level of correctional services, programs, and resources; they do not save substantially on costs; and . . . they do not maintain the same level of safety and security.” The memo then describes how the Bureau of Prisons will reduce and ultimately end its reliance on private prisons.

    • Two visions of politics in Turkey: authoritarian and revolutionary

      Late last December, upon returning from a trip to Saudi Arabia, Turkish President Erdogan was asked by Turkish reporters whether an executive presidential system was possible while maintaining “the unitary structure of the state”. He responded, “There are already examples in the world. You can see it when you look at Hitler’s Germany.” Following a failed coup d’etat attempt this July, as Erdogan started excluding and imprisoning political rivals, laying the groundwork for authoritarian control, some critics have begun taking the comparison more seriously.

    • Solitary for Suicide Attempts: The Brutal Punishment of Chelsea Manning

      On August 10, Army Secretary Eric Fanning received a petition with 115,000 signatures, part of an ongoing effort by activists to ensure Chelsea Manning’s additional suicide-related charges are dropped. Although public pressure has mounted, there has been no sign that the charges will be dropped any time soon.

      Manning’s case has been fraught with government abuses of power, ranging from 1,000 days of detention without trial to denial of medical resources when dealing with gender dysphoria. Now, after a suicide attempt, Manning is facing potential conviction that would force her back into solitary confinement. This horribly inhumane treatment is used for many prisoners, particularly those seen as threatening to the state. But Manning hasn’t just been punished because of her charges; she has been denied basic resources necessary for dealing with the complexity of both gender dysphoria and the mental ramifications of solitary confinement.

    • Owning Milwaukee’s Tragedy

      Race and ethnicity 2010: Milwaukee by Eric Fischer. Map based on Census 2010 data. Red is White, Blue is Black, Green is Asian, Orange is Hispanic, Yellow is Other, and each dot is 25 residents.

      In a nation that clings to the notion that we live in a shining city upon a hill, the shooting death of Sylville Smith on a Milwaukee street, the fiery response by the black community, the scorching rhetoric from the press and the sheriff, the heated replies by everybody with a computer are all unsettling our basic sense of ourselves.

      Milwaukee is Baltimore is Ferguson is Los Angeles is Detroit.

    • “I Was Like, Whatever…”: On Lochte Abroad and Idiocy at Home

      This is the current American quote that sums up where it’s all come to. The degradation of culture, the hip anti-intellectual posture, the hollow reality shows, the prevailing mean smugness and the flat screen mesmerizing of the American tribe has brought us to, “I was like, whatever.”

      This is the quote of a famous American with oddly colored hair. He claims this was his response to a man pointing a gun at his head and telling him to get on the ground.

      The first part – “I was like…” The linguistic Zika virus – “like.” Not “I was” or “I am” or “I shall be.” No. “I was like,” meaning an approximation of reality. This is the current subconscious cover for the dread of a real feeling—or real moment—or the real story.

      I suppose this hapless, entitled fellow with the bright dimpled smile thought he’d get some mileage out of a war story. And when you live in a pool of approximation anchored to the word “Like” maybe it doesn’t seem so wrong. He may have played a flat screen version of this story in his head and then he downloaded it into the ear of a reporter named Bush, which adds another wrinkle to the event of an international, malicious, scandalous fib.

      [...]

      Both rising out of the same cauldron of deception, anti-intellectualism, entitlement and fantasy. Both ducking genuine narratives – both weaving phantasms in which each is victim and hero. Both, when on the verge of being busted cuts to: “No – no – this is what happened – I’ll tell you what happened.” Lie – word salad – Lie – then the quote that says it all, because it says nothing. “I was like, whatever.”

    • The Illusion of Freedom

      The seizure of political and economic power by corporations is unassailable. Who funds and manages our elections? Who writes our legislation and laws? Who determines our defense policies and vast military expenditures? Who is in charge of the Department of the Interior? The Department of Homeland Security? Our intelligence agencies? The Department of Agriculture? The Food and Drug Administration? The Department of Labor? The Federal Reserve? The mass media? Our systems of entertainment? Our prisons and schools? Who determines our trade and environmental policies? Who imposes austerity on the public while enabling the looting of the U.S. Treasury and the tax boycott by Wall Street? Who criminalizes dissent?

      A disenfranchised white working class vents its lust for fascism at Trump campaign rallies. Naive liberals, who think they can mount effective resistance within the embrace of the Democratic Party, rally around the presidential candidacy of Bernie Sanders, who knows that the military-industrial complex is sacrosanct. Both the working class and the liberals will be sold out. Our rights and opinions do not matter. We have surrendered to our own form of wehrwirtschaft. We do not count within the political process.

      This truth, emotionally difficult to accept, violates our conception of ourselves as a free, democratic people. It shatters our vision of ourselves as a nation embodying superior virtues and endowed with the responsibility to serve as a beacon of light to the world. It takes from us the “right” to impose our fictitious virtues on others by violence. It forces us into a new political radicalism. This truth reveals, incontrovertibly, that if real change is to be achieved, if our voices are to be heard, corporate systems of power have to be destroyed. This realization engenders an existential and political crisis. The inability to confront this crisis, to accept this truth, leaves us appealing to centers of power that will never respond and ensures we are crippled by self-delusion.

      The longer fantasy is substituted for reality, the faster we sleepwalk toward oblivion. There is no guarantee we will wake up. Magical thinking has gripped societies in the past. Those civilizations believed that fate, history, superior virtues or a divine force guaranteed their eternal triumph. As they collapsed, they constructed repressive dystopias. They imposed censorship and forced the unreal to be accepted as real. Those who did not conform were disappeared linguistically and then literally.

    • Chris Hedges and Robert Scheer Assess the Merits of a Life of Virtue in a Careerist’s World

      In this week’s episode of “Scheer Intelligence” on KCRW, Truthdig Editor in Chief Robert Scheer speaks with Truthdig columnist Chris Hedges about the rewards of Hedges’ unorthodox career as a minister and journalist covering the disintegration of societies on multiple continents, his working habits, and the consequences of elite neglect of the forces that turn civilized populations barbarian.

      The two spoke in Philadelphia in late July as Democrats pilloried Republicans and their presidential candidate, Donald Trump.

      “The Nazis before 1933 were buffoonish figures, as were Radovan Karadžic and Slobodan Miloševic in Yugoslavia,” Hedges remarked. “And as Trump is. But when these buffoonish figures take power, they become extremely frightening.”

      “They are frightening,” Scheer replied. But “what you’re saying is they didn’t come from nowhere.”

    • Images from US Border Patrol facility reveal harsh conditions for immigrants

      The photograph, a still image drawn from video footage captured by a security camera, shows a mass of cylindrical shapes squashed together in a box and wrapped in what appears to be silver foil, their surfaces glistening like sardines in a tin.

      The shapes are not sardines, however, but human beings. And they are wrapped not in foil but in emergency blankets, handed out to them as they were put into a cramped detention center at the US border, courtesy of the federal agency, Customs and Border Protection (CBP).

      The image, and several others like it released on Thursday at the order of a federal judge, gives the most damning evidence yet seen of the exceptionally harsh and some say abusive conditions to which immigrants are subjected when detained at the southern US border with Mexico.

    • We need to re-examine Corbyn’s so-called ‘dangerous friendships’

      An LSE survey found that 74% of newspaper articles ‘offered either no or a highly distorted account of Corbyn’s views and ideas’ and that only 9% were ‘positive’ in tone. Research carried out at Birkbeck similarly found a strong bias in ‘mainstream media coverage’. So how trustworthy are the above claims?

    • ‘We Tortured Some Kids’: Parody Advert Unveils Horrors at Australia’s Child Detention Facilities (Video) [Ed: When Obama said "We Tortured Some Folks" he thought he had done enough regarding torture but never pressed charges against the criminals]

      Allegations that Nauru’s conditions are as horrendous as those at Guantanamo Bay were confirmed earlier this month, when the Guardian published more than 8,000 pages of leaked incident reports from Australia’s detention camp for asylum seekers on the remote Pacific island. The documents detail “assaults, sexual abuse, self-harm attempts, child abuse and living conditions endured by asylum seekers held by the Australian government, painting a picture of routine dysfunction and cruelty,” reports the Guardian.

      “But, alas, our human rights record is constantly under threat of improving,” the video’s narrator says. “To continue our abuse and torture programs, the government requires your complicity,” she adds, offering five simple steps you can take to help.

    • Lost Peoples of the Lake

      Our visit was punctuated by the sighting of a lone coyote padding along the salt crust: the traditional Native American trickster is perhaps conjuring further redemption for the Lake. There is no commemoration of the killing fields of Inyo County: surely they bring even greater shame upon this country than, for instance, the nearby WWII era Japanese internment camp of Manzanar and are of at least equal educational potential. The new monument might be more relevant if it referenced the lost peoples of the Lake rather than simulating, in earth and granite cobbles, the waves that animated the vast body of water that once filled the graben. In the Owen’s Valley, there is yet a greater, unacknowledged debt to be paid.

    • The Olympics: Nationalism at its Worst

      Once again the world is being subjected to the periodic nationalist orgy known as the Olympics. Here, we are told, participating nations around the globe are all equal, and send their best athletes for a friendly competition, where nothing but sportsmanship counts, and any and all other differences are not even considered. After trying their very best in each of many different sports, the top three are honored with a gold, silver or bronze medal, something he or she can look proudly on for generations to come.

      This writer hates to burst such a pretty balloon (actually, he doesn’t hate doing so at all), but once one has passed the age where Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny and the tooth fairy have all been relegated to the status of pleasant childhood memories, the same should be done with the farce of the Olympics.

      Let’s look for a minute at a few examples.

      [...]

      Now let us look at another Olympic swimmer, Yursa Mardini, age 18. Ms. Mardina is a Syrian refugee, who, perhaps, didn’t have the same advantages as Mr. Phelps. She refers to being in the Olympics as a ‘once in a lifetime’ opportunity; please note that the current games are Mr. Phelp’s fifth foray into an Olympic pool. And training was sometimes difficult for Ms. Mardini, not because she didn’t have sufficient energy or motivation, but because of other factors. Said she: “…sometimes we couldn’t train because of the war. Or sometimes you had training but there was a bomb in the swimming pool.” Mr. Phelps, once caught with a bong in his mouth, never had a bomb in his pool.

      [...]

      The Olympics, for some bizarre reason, attract the attention of people for whom watching an athletic event, let alone ever participating in one, does not occur outside of this periodic spectacle. But these are people who never let an opportunity pass for a flag to be waved, and to rejoice in anything that, in their narrow little minds, sets their nation above all the rest. There is no thought of the deadly, murderous horrors their country may inflict on innocent people (see: USA, Israel), no thought to the exploitation and abuse of the poor (see: USA, Brazil), no thought of blatant racism (see: USA, Israel). No, if a swimmer from one’s own country swims faster than the swimmers representing other countries, one’s country is the greatest! For such people, seeing an athlete representing their country stand atop the highest pedestal, accepting a gold medal, brings a tear to the eye as the chest swells with pride!

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • EFF accuses T-Mobile of violating net neutrality with throttled video

      The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has accused T-Mobile USA of violating net neutrality principles with a new “unlimited” data plan that throttles video. The group is weighing whether to file a complaint with the Federal Communications Commission, and the EFF is evaluating a similar offering from Sprint.

      T-Mobile’s $70-per-month unlimited data plan limits video to about 480p resolution and requires customers to pay an extra $25 per month for high-definition video. The plan also throttles mobile hotspot connections unless customers pay an extra $15 for each 5GB allotment. Going forward, this will be the only plan offered to new T-Mobile customers, though existing subscribers can keep their current prices and data allotments.

  • DRM

    • This lawsuit could be the beginning of the end for DRM

      Our friends at the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) recently filed a lawsuit challenging Section 1201 of the US’s Digital Millenium Copyright Act, which provides legal reinforcement to the technical shackles of Digital Restrictions Management (DRM). Defective by Design applauds this lawsuit and agrees with the EFF that Section 1201 violates the right to freedom of speech. We hope that excising Section 1201 from US law can be the beginning of the end for DRM.

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