EditorsAbout the SiteComes vs. MicrosoftUsing This Web SiteSite ArchivesCredibility IndexOOXMLOpenDocumentPatentsNovellNews DigestSite NewsRSS


The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) is Getting More Outspoken in Activism Regarding Patents, Finally Taking on Universities That Feed Trolls and Academic Parasite Elsevier

Posted in EFF, Patents at 4:54 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Elsevier gives us yet another reason for a boycott (there are already many)

Elsevier USPTO

Summary: The EFF’s long fight against patent aggression goes further than just trolls; it now speaks of the role of universities in the problem and the latest nonsense from parasitic academic/scholarly publisher Elsevier

THE EFF recently became vocal about universities that feed patent trolls (in effect turning publicly-funded research into a racket against the public). The goons from Watchtroll shortly thereafter attacked the EFF for saying what it said (we have just mentioned how Watchtroll also defends patent trolls in the Eastern District of Texas using spin and deception).

We agree with what the EFF said, but better yet, tell the universities to stop pursuing patents altogether. People (academics) I know from the universities in Manchester often say they’re against patents in their field (at times altogether) but are required or even pressured by administrators to pursue these, so it really boils down to universities’ patent policy. It can be altered centrally to appease or soften public opinion. These institutions go by their reputation, not their patent portfolio.

Now that the EFF asks universities not to sell patent to patent trolls (the first step in tackling a much broader problem) Red Hat’s opensource.com publishes this article titled “EFF asks universities not to sell to patent trolls”. To quote:

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), an international non-profit digital rights group, is reaching out to universities and their communities to combat patent trolls.

According to a report published by the Harvard Business Review, patent trolls are deterrents to innovation and drain billions of R&D dollars due to legal costs. The EFF warns that patents may become landmines and may inhibit innovation when a university sells patents to trolls. Universities are drivers of innovation and this purpose is lost when trolls use the patents against organizations that invest in R&D.

The EFF’s new initiative, Reclaim Invention, urges universities to rethink how they use patents by asking students, professors, and other members of the university community to take action by signing a pledge and urging their respective universities to not sell patents to patent trolls.

The Public Interest Patent Pledge (PIPP) is a promise which universities may make by signing the pledge that they will perform a due-diligence exercise before selling or licensing its patents to a third party. The pledge asks universities to assess the business practices of the buying party and ensure that those patents are used responsibly. The hope is that this pledge will discourage any license or sell of the rights of inventions, research, or innovation inadvertently to patent trolls.

This article is a lot better than the attack from Watchtroll (it’s like an attack site) — one which called the EFF “a leftist anti-patent activist coalition” (exact quote).

Another new EFF article, this one composed by Elliot Harmon and Daniel Nazer, reminds us that Elsevier needs to be stopped (and boycotted) for yet another reason. For those who are not aware of the many other reasons to boycott Elsevier, search the Web. There’s no lack of reasons. Here is what Harmon and Nazer published in at least two sites [1, 2]. It’s about a software patent:

On August 30, 2016, the Patent Office issued U.S. Patent No. 9,430,468, titled; “Online peer review and method.” The owner of this patent is none other than Elsevier, the giant academic publisher. When it first applied for the patent, Elsevier sought very broad claims that could have covered a wide range of online peer review. Fortunately, by the time the patent actually issued, its claims had been narrowed significantly. So, as a practical matter, the patent will be difficult to enforce. But we still think the patent is stupid, invalid, and an indictment of the system.

Before discussing the patent, it is worth considering why Elsevier might want a government granted monopoly on methods of peer review. Elsevier owns more than 2000 academic journals. It charges huge fees and sometimes imposes bundling requirements whereby universities that want certain high profile journals must buy a package including other publications. Universities, libraries, and researchers are increasingly questioning whether this model makes sense. After all, universities usually pay the salaries of both the researchers that write the papers and of the referees who conduct peer review. Elsevier’s business model has been compared to a restaurant where the customers bring the ingredients, do all the cooking, and then get hit with a $10,000 bill.

The rise in wariness of Elsevier’s business model correlates with the rise in popularity and acceptance of open access publishing. Dozens of universities have adopted open access policies mandating or recommending that researchers make their papers available to the public, either by publishing them in open access journals or by archiving them after publication in institutional repositories. In 2013, President Obama mandated that federally funded research be made available to the public no later than a year after publication, and it’s likely that Congress will lock that policy into law.

There is already an article about the above, titled “Elsevier’s New Patent for Online Peer Review Throws a Scare Into Open-Source Advocates” (not just those advocates). To quote:

Patents on software can be controversial. And often, so is the company Elsevier, the giant journal publisher. So when word hit the internet starting on Tuesday night that Elsevier had just been awarded a patent for an “online peer-review system and method,” reaction from people aligned with the publishing and open-source worlds came swiftly on Twitter and in other online venues, much of it reflecting suspicion about the company’s motives.

“Elsevier reveals its final form: Patent trolling to destroy scientific peer review,” said one tweet.

Elsevier itself then turned to Twitter in an effort to allay the fears. But its assurances have not quelled the anxieties, particularly those of advocates for more open-source options in scholarly publishing.

The concern revolves around the patent Elsevier received for its five-year-old “article-transfer service,” a propriety online system the company uses to manage journal-article submissions and the ensuing peer reviews.

It is nice to find the EFF raising awareness about these problems and occasionally naming the culprit explicitly, insisting that these “Stupid Patents of the Month” are in fact software patents. There is clearly a patent scope problem and the USPTO needs to correct it in lieu with Alice.

Death of Software Patents Almost Everywhere Except the Eastern District of Texas

Posted in America, Patents at 3:49 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

United States District Court for the Eastern District of TexasSummary: The Eastern District of Texas is being defended by overzealous supporters of software patents as the US continues to slash software patents, citing Alice/Section 101

THE USPTO is belatedly (well overdue) working on patent quality and enraging the patent microcosm. As one patent attorney put it the other day, “I’m looking for a link to the MA Dist. Ct decision invalidating patents w/101/Mayo. It is outrageous.”

“Reform or no reform, Congress or no Congress, the courts are doing their job and after the Supreme Court ruled on Alice and Mayo so much has changed for the better.”What makes him say “outrageous” is probably a good thing. It’s just not good for his job, that’s all. His job is more secure if patents are easier to get, i.e. if patent quality declines even further. Looking at some of the latest gossip from IAM, they recall the nearly defunct patent reform in the US (never seriously revisited after last year’s summer vacation) and say: “Ever since the summer of 2015 when the possibility of a vote on the Innovation Act was killed in the House of Representatives, patent reform has remained firmly on the back burner in the US Congress. There has been some discussion around the prospects of venue reform with one bill introduced in the Senate aimed at stopping the kind of forum shopping which means that the vast majority of patent cases are heard in Eastern Texas, but that hasn’t gone anywhere as yet. And with the election just around the corner, most don’t expect anything to happen before the next Congress gathers early next year.”

Reform or no reform, Congress or no Congress, the courts are doing their job and after the Supreme Court ruled on Alice and Mayo so much has changed for the better. Even CAFC, the evil ‘genius’ that came up with software patents several decades ago, is now swatting them like flies (this court is where software patents simply come to die).

“What’s interesting in Hospira v Cubist is the mass invalidation of patents (three in one fell swoop).”Suffice to say, we are not against patents in general. In fact, we tend to only focus on software patents, as we always have done. This new trial in the case of Pure Storage [1, 2, 3, 4, 5], for example, isn’t worth entertaining here, except for reasons that are separate from patent scope (for example, the claim of damages and $14M verdict, which is probably far too much). For a more relevant example see the case against Cubist. It was covered by IP Kat and cited by us a few days ago. Now there is this followup that says: “The IPKat posted a report earlier this week of the case Hospira v Cubist, in which three patents belonging to Cubist were revoked by Mr Justice Carr. A kind reader commented expressing the opinion that the reasons for finding the third patent invalid seemed a little thin. This aspect of the judgment is actually very interesting and was rather glossed over in the earlier post, and so this Kat would like to revisit the topic to look at this one aspect in a little more detail.”

What’s interesting in Hospira v Cubist is the mass invalidation of patents (three in one fell swoop). Is the era of excessive patent litigation in the US over? Is it being reduced to sane levels? Whatever it is, we are increasingly optimistic about the US patent system (unlike the EPO where things keep getting worse).

“As we noted earlier tonight, at long last the USPTO seriously considers Section 101.”The patent law firms just can’t help trying to resurrect software patents which are effectively dead. It’s fun for us to watch. Last week’s article, “Roadmap to Software Patent Eligibility” by Joe Bird of Bradley Arant Boult Cummings LLP, was basically more of the same. The patent law firms are grouping and scratching their collective heads in an effort to work around Alice. Not even corruption of the former Director of the USPTO (official-turned-lobbyist) has helped them undermine Alice.

As we noted earlier tonight, at long last the USPTO seriously considers Section 101. The USPTO’s examiners once again failed to deny a software patent (here is an article about this MacroPoint patent), but that does not mean that US courts will tolerate it. A paper with a stamp on it is not a court order or decree. There are famous trolls in this domain of MacroPoint and if it attempts to actually sue some firm/s we can expect them to risk losing this patent.

“It’s quite likely that all these software patents are next to worthless now.”Speaking of trolls, watch how patent trolls like Intellectual Ventures get mentioned in this Adapt IP tripe. To quote from Yahoo! Finance: “Family Systems has also built many of the patented features into its’ Verbol Voice software prototype that include sophisticated features complimentary to leading services such as WhatsApp.” They’re talking about software patents and say that “[t]his patent portfolio has been cited by companies including Google, Intellectual Ventures, IBM, Chacha Search, RedHat, Microsoft, Xerox, Oracle, HP and SnapChat.”

Cited in what context? And many of the above are proponents of software patents if not patent trolls (IBM and Microsoft sure act like it now). When were these patents cited? Before or after the Alice effect? It’s quite likely that all these software patents are next to worthless now. They’re just a bunch of papers in frames (or without frames).

“Bear in mind that’s a Eastern District of Texas (EDTX) ‘court’, which is notoriously corruptible (the district even advertises its plaintiff-friendly biases).”Speaking of the Alice case and trolls, how about the “post-Halo” world, as MIP put it just before the weekend? We covered the Halo case earlier this year (basically, US patent courts gave a gift to patent trolls) and because of it “[a] jury award to Imperium IP of $6.9 million has been trebled to $20.9 million by an Eastern District of Texas judge [....] In the first case in which enhanced damages were on the table in the Eastern District of Texas since the Supreme Court handed down its decision in Halo v Stryker, Judge Mazzant ruled that Samsung owes plaintiff Imperium IP Holdings treble damages.”

Bear in mind that’s a Eastern District of Texas (EDTX) ‘court’, which is notoriously corruptible (the district even advertises its plaintiff-friendly biases). Watchtroll (IP Watchdog), publishing through Steve Brachmann, a “freelancer [writer] for more than seven years,” is belittling the problem with the rocket docket of patent trolls in Texas (EDTX). Here he is presenting misleading figures to make it seem like there’s no problem with Texas. To quote: “This isn’t the only judicial vacancy which Capitol Hill has been unable to fill in recent days, however. As of Tuesday, August 30th, statistics published online by U.S. Courts indicated that there are 93 total federal judicial vacancies affecting the U.S. system of courts. This includes 32 vacancies which are considered to be judicial emergencies. A judicial vacancy at a district court is considered an emergency when weighted filings are in excess of 600 per judgeship, or the vacancy exists for more than 18 months where weighted filings range from 430 to 600 per judgeship, or the vacancy is at any court with more than one authorized judgeship but only one active judge. U.S. district courts have a total of 72 vacancies, 28 of which are judicial emergencies.”

“But Watchtroll — being the biased site that it is — is selling/delivering an agenda again.”Anybody with half a clue would be able to tell that this is selective use (or cherry-picking) of statistics. We previously showed some statistics about the great role of EDTX in the patent trolling epidemic. But Watchtroll — being the biased site that it is — is selling/delivering an agenda again. We previously mentioned the demise of patent law firms (see NASDAQ’s “Another Intellectual-Property-Law Firm to Close”), with important press coverage soon to be affected by spin/press releases (looking like reputation laundering or distraction from the real news [1, 2, 3, 4, 5]) and certainly they realise that their last remaining haven might be EDTX with its crooked ‘court’ system (barracks of the trolls).

There is No Future for the UPC in Spite of What the EPO and the Patent Microcosm Keep Telling Us

Posted in Europe, Patents at 2:38 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

…Just saying there’s hope cannot in its own right make it happen

UPC article

Summary: A UPC-centric event is planned for this week, but the matter of fact is, the likelihood of the UPC ever becoming a reality (in any shape or form) is low and chances of passing it as-is are extremely slim

LATER this month the EPO will promote software patents (disguised as “ICT”) in the US, as we last noted here yesterday. Starting Tuesday, moreover, there will be a pro-UPC event. This was covered a month ago by MIP and recalled in Twitter, where MIP has said: “Join us for #UPC, #UnitaryPatent & #Brexit patent discussions in Munich & Paris on September 6 & 8 – new blog post” (no longer new).

Well, Brexit effectively axed the UPC (without the UK’s participation it’s back to the drawing board), but some try to prop it up anyway, especially Team UPC. The “Future of UPC [is] in limbo,” says the headline of this new article (screenshot above) from a patent maximalism site, Intellectual Property Magazine. As we explained here before (especially back in July), the UPC is effectively dead, if not on the ice for several years to come. The article above is behind a paywall, but here is the publicly-accessible part: [via]

When it comes to the future of the unitary patent, the only thing that is known for certain is that nothing is certain. The vote by the UK to leave the European Union has created significant uncertainty around the future viability and implementation of both the unitary patent (European patent with unitary effect or EPUE) and the Unified Patent Court (UPC).

While a final date for implementation of the unitary patent and UPC had not been set, delivery of these two landmark arrangements was on the home straight. After over 40 years in the making, the UK’s so-called ‘Brexit’ vote threatens to at best delay and at worst derail any chances of the unitary patent and UPC coming into force. So what are the prospects for their continued

“Another positive of the status quo is that the fragmentation of the EU litigation system may also have hindered trolls,” Benjamin Henrion wrote earlier today. He is right. We already covered the trolls angle of the UPC many times before. So did some authors like Dr. Glyn Moody. It’s not a theory or some mere hypothesis; it’s a fact. The UPC is a threat to the EPO itself, as we explained a couple of days ago.

The summary of the above article says: “While the fate of the Unified Patent Court and unitary patent remains undecided, what planning should in-house counsel do in the interim?”

“The UPC is a threat to the EPO itself, as we explained a couple of days ago.”Well, they can carry on as usual and stop wasting time, money and effort trying to usher in what will never happen. The UPC in its previous incarnation is nearly a decade old and it never got close to happening, in spite of all the lobbying and propaganda from the likes of Michel Barnier and Charlie McCreevy. Battistelli himself has lobbied for the UPC for a very long time and now he spends a fortune (at the expense of the EPO) doing these political stunts, presumably to get himself a top UPC position somewhere like Paris, France (based on rumours alone). The EPO even pays to have pro-UPC events in the US (home of the USPTO which is another territory altogether, where US giants pursue far more patents than they bother pursuing in Europe). The angle we typically look for with these events, as was the case in CeBIT and another upcoming US event, is software patents, or what they nowadays call “ICT” as a weasel word. We are also interested in how much money is spent on such events (a lot seems to have been wasted in Canada, as we noted last night). There is a lot of nefarious stuff going on there. For instance, a pro-UPC event in the US was organised with FTI Consulting money (the EPO pays it over a million Euros) sent to IAM, and EPO as the main/sole supporter of the event. How ridiculous is this? Remember that IAM also pretends to be covering news while producing material for the EPO like a propaganda mill.

“Battistelli’s attacks on SUEPO are extremely revealing.”Speaking of propaganda mills, the EPO just can’t help embarrassing itself by 'spamming' universities (at 5:20 AM on a Saturday in this one particular case!). Here is the latest example, about the thirtieth by our count. They are probably running out of European universities to ‘spam’ at this stage, thus choosing smaller and more obscure ones.

What the heck has happened to the EPO I used to respect and send letters to (for constructive thoughts, e.g. regarding patent scope)? My close friend, a university professor who pursued many EPO patents over the years (and got them), has already grown tired of the EPO’s declining quality/status and in his capacity as a head of research department he is now speaking to the university’s administration about reconsideration of their relations with the EPO.

Under Battistelli the EPO truly goes down the drain and unless staff of the EPO is able to put an end to this death spiral there won’t be jobs left for anyone. That would definitely harm Europe and Battistelli can go back to politics (where he came from) if something hits the fan. He’s well beyond retirement age anyway (same as Willy Minnoye, who some people recently thought was leaving).

Just because Battistelli sticks/attaches an “EPO” logo (button) to his lapel doesn’t mean he’s loyal to the EPO. I personally feel a lot more loyal to the EPO than Battistelli has ever been (he is totally clueless about patents and demonstrably averse to science). SUEPO is hardcore loyal to the EPO, and passionate about it too. Battistelli’s attacks on SUEPO are extremely revealing. These attacks have been broadened recently.

Internal USPTO Documents Reveal a Battle and Protest Over Software Patenting

Posted in America, Patents at 1:47 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Macropoint patent

Macropoint patent

Summary: The US patent office is taking Section 101 seriously enough to reconsider patent applications that it granted or was about to grant, in spite of the temptation to just grant almost anything so as to increase so-called ‘production’ or ‘products’ (the Battistelli way)

THE images above were extracted from a couple of tweets [1, 2] posted a few days ago to speak of an “Interesting [Section] 101 “protest” lodged v #patent in pending case: http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/macropoints-latest-patent-related-to-five-patents-already-invalidated-by-fourkites-in-federal-court-300321922.html … check PAIR -Examiner allowed! Here is part of PTO protest document that was unsuccessful in preventing Macropoint patent from issuing…”

“A coordinated retreat of computing to the dark ages of protectionism and requests for permission to code (or buying “computer time” from mainframe giants) have no room in a society that strives to innovate and develop.”Irrespective of the outcome, this glimpse from the inside is helpful and quite informative. We are generally supportive of the USPTO‘s apparent attempt to improve patent quality*, particularly by denying abstract patents on software — like those widely used by patent trolls who prey on small companies. We wouldn’t quite know (one can only estimate) how many small firms settle in secret (under NDAs) with patent trolls. No public cases and no word of mouth exist, leaving us dependent on rumours and rare blog posts, unless it’s a large company that takes the dispute/s into a courtroom.

If the so-called ‘Empire of Corporations’ insists that software should be patentable and their patent lawyers say the same (because they’re paid for it) we should simply ignore them. A coordinated retreat of computing to the dark ages of protectionism and requests for permission to code (or buying “computer time” from mainframe giants) have no room in a society that strives to innovate and develop.
* When the Office allowed in principle and also actually granted software patents on any conceivable thing expensive litigation (better to settle) became so common and protests against the Office became loud, even inside Congress and GAO.

Links 4/9/2016: Git 2.10.0, Z-Wave Public Specification

Posted in News Roundup at 12:50 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish



Free Software/Open Source

  • How open source technologies are transforming the BBC

    The BBC Archive contains material dating the back to the 1880s, preceding the formation of the Corporation itself.

    Created in recognition of the intellectual and cultural value in BBC public service programming, it preserves the BBC’s content as a cultural record and for the benefit of future generations.

    The UK government recently set out a proposal for increased archive access, agreeing with BBC that the Archive represents a valuable resource for the general public and academia.

    The BBC Rewind project was born of a converged editorial and engineering team originating at BBC Northern Ireland, liberating archived content for public access prototypes and continued use in production. It also focuses on using smart data management technologies to improve the way the Archive can be searched and content discovered.

  • Making your first contribution to open source software

    I believe that open source software needs to be personal to you if you’re going to do it at all. Open source software is a hobby—but it’s more than that. I find myself thinking about the open source software projects I maintain, contribute to, and use almost daily. So if you’re going to contribute to open source software, make it something you care about.

  • Events

    • FUDCon Phnom Penh: Call for Papers

      FUDCon is the Fedora Users and Developers Conference, a major free software event held in various regions around the world, usually annually per region. FUDCon is a combination of sessions, talks, workshops, and hackfests in which project participants can work on specific initiatives. FUDCon is always free to attend for anyone. For 2016, the FUDCon for the APAC region will be in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. It will be held at Norton University (NU) Phnom Penh from 04. to 06. November 2016. The event happens synchronized with the BarCamp Phnom Penh/ASEAN, the biggest technology-oriented event in Cambodia and one of the biggest in the region with 4,000 registered visitors.

    • QtCon FInished First Day of 13 Tracks of Talks

      David Faure is one of the longest-standing developers of KDE software. Today he wanted to give some history of KDE development as it was done back in KDE 1 days, to see how that links to current community practices. The K in KDE stood for Kool before that was dropped, but who knew the Q in Qt stood for Quasar before that was transformed into Cute. He spoke of the original kfm code which Martin Graesslin said still remained in KWin to support Konqueror as a desktop window. Today it was decided this code could now be removed!

    • Video: KVM Forum 2016 – Painless Switch to KVM
    • Video: KVM Forum 2016 – KVM Status Report
    • Audio Workshop Accepted into 2016 Linux Kernel Summit and Linux Plumbers Conference

      Audio is an increasingly important component of the Linux plumbing, given increased use of Linux for media workloads and of the Linux kernel for smartphones. Topics include low-latency audio, use of the clock API, propagating digital configuration through dynamic audio power management (DAPM), integration of HDA and ASoC, SoundWire ALSA use-case managemer (UCM) scalability, standardizing HDMI and DisplayPort interfaces, Media Controller API integration, and a number of topics relating to the multiple userspace users of Linux-kernel audio, including Android and ChromeOS as well as the various desktop-oriented Linux distributions.

    • LinuxCON Kids’ day

      Part of this year’s LinuxCON / ContainerCON in Toronto was a full day program called Kids’ Day. Its purpose was to foster an interest in technology among junior nerds and the children of their nerd parents (raises hand). My 12 and 15 year olds were keen to lay hands on some hardware and hang out with like-minded instructors, so we signed up.

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • Firefox 51 To Support FLAC Audio Codec

        Beginning with the Firefox 51 web-browser release, FLAC audio will finally be supported natively.

      • Fighting Back Against Secrecy Orders

        Transparency is the core pillar for everything we do at Mozilla. It is foundational to how we build our products, with an open code base that anybody can inspect, and is critical to our vision of an open, trusted, secure web that places users in control of their experience online. Our reform efforts in the areas of vulnerability disclosure and government surveillance are also centered on the transparency ideal.

      • Multi-process Firefox brings 400-700% improvement in responsiveness

        Earlier this summer I wrote about Mozilla’s efforts to rollout a multi-process architecture, codename Electrolysis, for Firefox. In the months since, Mozilla has completed its initial tests on 1 percent of its user population and the initial numbers are good, according to Asa Dotzler, director of Firefox at Mozilla.

        The company is reporting a 400 percent improvement in responsiveness and a 700 percent improvement in responsiveness for loading large web pages.These numbers mean that users are far less likely to see their browser freeze, pause, lag or crash. Dotzler himself used the word “janky” to describe previous versions of the browser.

        Over the next week, multi-process will be coming to 10 percent of total Firefox users. For now, users with add-ons will not be getting the new architecture. The staggered rollout is fairly industry standard to avoid shipping bugs. Having two independent groups of users allows Mozilla to benchmark metrics from the new version against unconverted users.

        For now, multi-process is limited to a single content process and a single browser process. Later versions will include multiple content processes and sandboxing.

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice

    • OpenOffice Retirement, CPUs Will Linux, Kernel.org Hacker Arrested

      A suspect has been arrested for hacking into kernel.org five years ago topping the Linux headlines on a busy news day. It caused a lot of headaches back then and a months downtime. In other news, reports of the latest AMD and Intel chips only supporting Windows 10 weren’t exactly accurate and Apache is seriously considering throwing in the towel on OpenOffice. Neil Rickert posted a look at the latest Leap Beta and more details emerge on PC-BSD’s move to TrueOS.

    • What Would OpenOffice Retirement Involve? (long)

      I have regularly observed that the Apache OpenOffice project has limited capacity for sustaining the project in an energetic manner. It is also my considered opinion that there is no ready supply of developers who have the capacity, capability, and will to supplement the roughly half-dozen volunteers holding the project together. It doesn’t matter what the reasons for that might be.

    • OpenOffice In Danger of Shutting Down, Project VP Warns

      The future isn’t look bright for OpenOffice, the open-source office suite run by the Apache foundation.

    • Redesigning Tor, Goodbye OpenOffice & More…

      Building Tor to a next new level: Tor is still safe, but there are cracks in it’s armor. You can still safely cruise the net through The Onion Router with your identity kept secret — most of the time but not always. Thankfully, for the time being that “not always” stands at about one in several million, but organizations like the NSA and the Brit’s GCHQ have been working at chipping away at those odds to turn them more in their favor.

  • Education

    • The Open Source School Redefines Education in Italy

      The commons are what we share, together and with each other. In sociology, we’d speak of “collective intelligence.” According to the French philosopher Pierre Levy, the spread of communication techniques for digital media has led to the emergence of new ways of social bonding based on gathering areas of common interests, open processes of cooperation and an exchange of knowledge. We keep saying, “Innovation is always social, otherwise it’s just profiting from people’s ignorance.” Sharing knowledge is the first and most essential common for us. It generates a real process of emancipation and civilization since it enables any person to serve their community. Simultaneously, it allows each individual to freely express and enhance their uniqueness, while giving them the opportunity to appeal to all the intellectual and human qualities of the community itself.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

  • BSD

    • Revisiting W^X with OpenBSD 6.0

      OpenBSD 6.0 was released today, and with it some exciting new security features. From my perspective, the chief among them is the technical enforcement of W^X in user-land. Since moving to a technical control rather than a policy statement for enforcing executable space protection was a result of discussions caused by my last blog post on the situation, I’m very excited about this development and thought that giving a demonstration and discussion would be in order. (In the spirit of not putting the headline on Page 1 and the retraction on Page 11, hopefully BSDNow will cover this as well).

    • OpenBSD 6.0 : why and how

      The only operating system I use on my computers is not Mac, not Windows, and not even Linux. It’s OpenBSD, and I love it so much.

      Since OpenBSD 6.0 was released today, I figured I should say a little something about why I love it, and how you can try it.

    • OpenBSD 6.0 released

      September 1st, 2016: The OpenBSD team announces the availability of 6.0!

    • OpenBSD 6.0
    • PC-BSD Evolves into TrueOS

      We are proud to announce that the PC-BSD project has evolved into TrueOS: a modern, cutting-edge distribution of FreeBSD focused on security, simplicity, and stability for desktops, servers, and beyond! TrueOS harnesses the best elements of PC-BSD, combines it with security technologies from OpenBSD, and layers it on top of FreeBSD to provide a complete system for modern machines.


    • Why does Richard Stallman and the Free Software Foundation get so much hate?

      Within the open source and free software worlds, Stallman (and the Free Software Foundation—the FSF) hold an almost deity-like position in the hearts of many. For other people, well, they have the exact opposite feeling towards the man.

      Then there are the people who feel both positively and negatively (in equally strong measures) towards Stallman. If you made a Venn diagram comparing “People who revere Stallman” and “People who despise Stallman” my guess is there would be an awful lot of overlap of those two circles.

      For my part, I understand both positions.

      In years past, I was highly critical—bordering on hostile—of both the words and actions of Stallman and the FSF. While some of my criticisms of Stallman were not entirely unfounded, there was certainly a deeper reason behind much of it.

      When someone acts as a messenger to point out a core problem in society—in this case, software freedom (and overlapping issues) —the messenger is quite often vilified (many times, subconsciously) by those who are a part of the existing, problematic system.

    • GNU Libreboot, version 20160902 released

      This is a bugfix release, based on 20160818. It contains no new board changes. The previous 20160818 release had build errors in the _src archive, and the _util archive was only source code.

    • GIMP 2.9.5 AppImage
    • Eighteen new GNU releases in August 2016


  • Public Services/Government

    • Shame On My Country, Canada…

      I’m proud of Canada. It’a vital place and home of several generations of my family. One can still afford health care here, get a good education for a reasonable price, grow your own food or hunt/gather it, get plenty of clean water and fresh air, live in mountains, planes, deserts and forests, whatever you choose. However, when it comes to government spending money foolishly on non-Free software that the world can and does provide at cost as Free/Libre Open Source Software, Canada is as backwards as governments in Africa and the Middle East.

    • Don’t write off Jeremy Corbyn’s Digital Democracy Manifesto – here’s why it’s a lofty bill of ideas [Ed: Microsoft trying to sneak itself in there as well]

      Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn this week unveiled a ‘Digital Democracy Manifesto’ that was widely derided in the British media – but there are some ideas within it that, though unfortunately dressed in clunky jargon, are more radical and far-reaching than they are being given credit for.


      Jeremy Corbyn’s call for platform cooperatives is an idea that has also been put forward by British Computer Society fellow, Microsoft UK CTO, and former NHS IT director Jerry Fishenden on our sister site CIO. Simply put, the ‘platform cooperative’ is the idea of turning sharing economy apps on their head as the basis for a software platform of mutual aid and cooperation but outside of private profit.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

    • Free the Reviews: Why Free Culture Needs Free Opinions

      Thanks to the free culture movement, vast knowledge repositories like Wikipedia and StackExchange allow content to be re-used freely and built upon, and many major sites offer Creative Commons licensing as part of their user interfaces.

      Yet there’s one area in which free culture has made very little progress to date: online reviews. Sites like Yelp, IMDB, Amazon.com, TripAdvisor, Goodreads, and others rely on millions of users to review products and services, but the resulting text and media are licensed only to the operating companies and not available for re-use, which means reviews are stuck in silos.

      They may disappear at a moment’s notice. They can’t be translated, remixed or built upon, outside the narrow exemptions granted by fair use. Reviews could be the glue that connects a lot of existing free and open information, including Wikidata and OpenStreetMap if only they were freely licensed.

    • Motion Comic project by Nikolai Mamashev

      To finish, Nikolai propose all the sources files, and his work as CC-BY-SA. An open-license! So, more free culture around, and yes, I’ll be able to reuse sample of his work for, exemple, a Pepper&Carrot trailer or when I’ll need to pitch the project in a video.

    • SMS on the Linux desktop, Linux’s 25th birthday, and more open source news
  • Programming/Development

  • Standards/Consortia

    • Z-Wave protocol specification now public

      The Z-Wave wireless home-automation protocol has been released to the public. In years past, the specification was only available to purchasers of the Z-Wave Alliance’s development kit, forcing open-source implementations to reverse-engineer the protocol. The official press release notes that there are several such projects, including OpenZWave; Z-Wave support is also vital to higher-level Internet-of-Things abstraction systems like AllJoyn.

    • Introducing the Z-Wave Public Specification

      Z-Wave is the world’s most widely-deployed smart home technology, found inside tens of millions of smart products. Now, Z-Wave is also the most open protocol, as Sigma Designs has made the Z-Wave interoperability layer public.


  • No, the Internet Has Not Killed the Printed Book. Most People Still Prefer Them.

    Even with Facebook, Netflix and other digital distractions increasingly vying for time, Americans’ appetite for reading books — the ones you actually hold in your hands — has not slowed in recent years, according to a study by the Pew Research Center.

    Sixty-five percent of adults in the United States said they had read a printed book in the past year, the same percentage that said so in 2012. When you add in ebooks and audiobooks, the number that said they had read a book in printed or electronic format in the past 12 months rose to 73 percent, compared with 74 percent in 2012.

    Twenty-eight percent said they had opted for an ebook in the past year, while 14 percent said they had listened to an audiobook.

    Lee Rainie, the director of internet, science and technology research for Pew Research, said the study demonstrated the staying power of physical books.

  • Microsoft’s fancy new outlook.com, planned for this year, now delayed until next

    In May 2015, Microsoft announced a big overhaul was coming to its Outlook.com free mail service. The new look Outlook.com looked a lot closer to the Outlook Web Access component in Exchange. It had Exchange features like the Clutter folder for handling all those e-mails that aren’t quite spam but aren’t quite important, pinned and flagged mail, new calendar views, and a better mobile interface that supports swipe-based gestures. In February 2016, this new experience was announced as being out of beta, and Microsoft rolled it out immediately to new users in North America. Everyone else was scheduled to be upgraded by the end of summer.

  • Twitter Jumps After Co-Founder Says Company Has to Consider M&A

    Twitter Inc. jumped as much as 5.8 percent, the most in two weeks, after co-founder Ev Williams said in an interview with Bloomberg TV that the company has to weigh all options amid ongoing speculation it’s a takeover target.

    Williams initially declined to comment when asked by Bloomberg’s Emily Chang whether Twitter can remain an independent company. He went on to say, “We’re in a strong position now, and as a board member we have to consider the right options.”

  • After Steve Jobs stepped down as Apple CEO, he was still working on an Apple TV set

    Steve Jobs stepped down as CEO of Apple five years ago, but he didn’t plan on leaving the company.

    Instead, Jobs was going to focus his energy on one very specific, secret project: Apple’s reinvention of TV — including the TV set itself.

    Walt Mossberg, Recode’s editor at large and an executive editor at The Verge, says Jobs called him on the night he announced he was formally handing over control of his company to Tim Cook, and told him about his TV ambitions.

  • Why parents are getting angrier: ‘Children are bored out of their skulls with real life’

    “It’s hard to know the difference between parenting and bullying,” admits Matt, father of two and one of a growing number of parents seeking help to control what they see as unacceptable levels of anger towards their children. Matt is an articulate and successful self-employed businessman in his 40s. After he split up from their mother five years ago, his two sons, then 11 and 14, started to act up by answering back, skipping homework, drinking and taking drugs. It marked the start of a phase of intense anger for Matt, who eventually sought help.

    “I have on a few occasions grabbed my eldest son by the scruff of his neck and shouted in his face. I couldn’t understand why they don’t do what I want them to do. Even now they make me question my skills as a parent.”

    He’s not alone.

    Over two decades, Mike Fisher has seen first-hand the effect of anger on children and their parents. Since setting up the British Association of Anger Management in 1999, he has worked with tens of thousands of people, helping them to manage and understand their anger. For the past 13 years he has also delivered one-day workshops specifically aimed at parental anger, for Ealing council in west London. The course is always heavily oversubscribed.

    “We always have to turn people away and put them on a waiting list for the next one,” says Kate Subanney, Ealing’s parent commissioner, whose idea it was to get Mike involved.

    The parents she sends his way have all been referred to her by social services, the NHS, police, or solicitors, but Mike is quick to dispel any assumption that they come from one demographic. “I’d say at least 20% are middle-class parents and are particularly well-educated and affluent. Yet social services are involved. It really is across the board.”

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Down the Atomic River

      Despite its status as a national monument, conferred by Bill Clinton exactly 10 years ago as a morsel to politically-famished greens, the Hanford Reach remains largely a closed and forbidden landscape. Ominous signs warn that entry to the Hanford Nuclear Reservation, the world’s most toxic site, on river right will result in arrest and prosecution. Most of the Saddle Mountain Wildlife Refuge on river left is closed. There’s no overnight camping allowed anywhere along the Reach. Even the islands are off limits. Only on the river are you really free.

      The plan is to kayak as much of the Reach as we can, a forty-mile stretch from below Priest Rapids Dam, once home of Smohallah, the apocalyptic Dreamer of the Wanapum tribe, down to Ringold, site of a strange fish hatchery cordoned off by concertina wire. What dark plot are they protecting the salmon fry from? The Cold War is long gone, but the paranoia persists.

    • California and EPA Poised to Expand Pollution of Potential Drinking Water Reserves

      As the western United States struggles with chronic water shortages and a changing climate, scientists are warning that if vast underground stores of fresh water that California and other states rely on are not carefully conserved, they too may soon run dry.

      Heeding this warning, California passed new laws in late 2014 that for the first time require the state to account for its groundwater resources and measure how much water is being used.

      Yet California’s natural resources agency, with the oversight and consent of the federal government, also runs a shadow program that allows many of its aquifers to be pumped full of toxic waste.

      Now the state — which relied on aquifers for at least 60 percent of its total water supply over the past three years — is taking steps to expand that program, possibly sacrificing portions of dozens more groundwater reserves. In some cases, regulators are considering whether to legalize pollution already taking place at a number of sites, based on arguments that the water that will be lost was too dirty to drink or too difficult to access at an affordable price. Officials also may allow the borders of some pollution areas to be extended, jeopardizing new, previously unspoiled parts of the state’s water supply.

      The proposed expansion would affect some of the parts of California hardest hit by drought, from the state’s agriculturally rich central valley to wine country and oil-drilling fields along the Salinas River. Some have questioned the wisdom of such moves in light of the state’s long-term thirst for more water supplies.

    • Sadistic Religious Fanatic: Mother Teresa Was No Saint

      Mother Teresa was a moral monster, a sadistic religious fanatic guilty of medical malpractice.

    • I Needed Treatment, Not Judgment From My Catholic Hospital

      Last December, I slipped on water on my bathroom floor and fell hard onto the tile. Later that night, I felt cramping in my back and abdomen. The next morning I was bleeding. After doing some online research, I feared my intrauterine device (IUD) was dislodged. I knew I needed to see a doctor.

      I did what anyone would do — I called an OB-GYN in my insurance network and made the soonest appointment I could. The doctor examined me briefly and confirmed my suspicion that my IUD had become dislodged. She said it needed to be removed.

      However, instead of removing the IUD, the doctor said she couldn’t help me. Her hands were tied because of religious restrictions imposed on her practice by Mercy Hospital and Medical Center. She explained that those restrictions prohibited her from removing the IUD because it was being used solely to prevent pregnancy.

      I was shocked.

    • California’s waters, a death trap: Uncovering the Golden State’s secret whale and dolphin massacre

      Until the 1980s, fishermen who fished for swordfish off the coast of California used harpoon guns to reel in their prey. As the industry modernized, the guns were exchanged for drift gillnets — gigantic nets the size of the Golden Gate Bridge that hang vertically in the water. By 1985, the catch reached a historic high, with fishermen landing more than 2,000 metric tons of fish. But there was a tragic and under-discussed consequence of that approach.

      A drift gillnet catches far more than just the target fish. It scoops up any marine animal unfortunate enough to swim in its path, including whales, dolphins and marine mammals like seals and sea lions. Turtles, sharks, fish and even seabirds are inadvertently trapped and killed by these nets, which environmentalists have dubbed “invisible curtains of death.” California is the last state in the nation to permit this destructive, unsustainable fishing method.

    • Apple and Others Help Customers Donate to the Red Cross, And Only the Red Cross

      Despite yet more evidence of trouble with the Red Cross’ disaster response — this time to floods in Louisiana — Apple, Amazon, T-Mobile, and many others have made the venerable charity the exclusive conduit for helping victims.

    • USA Today Helps Mylan Sell an Extortionate Price for EpiPen

      The drug-maker announced that it would be selling an unbranded version of the lifesaving anti-allergy device for $300 for a two-pack. That’s actually a little more than a 50 percent reduction from the current list price; a two-pack of EpiPens generally sells for $608.

      But that’s the recently jacked-up price that sparked the outrage that forced Mylan to offer a generic alternative. A year ago, an EpiPen set was going for $461. That would make the $300 price a 35 percent reduction, not 50 percent.


      You don’t need time travel to make the generic EpiPen a bad deal, though; you just need to travel across the border into Canada, where a single pen retails for about $120 in Canadian money, which is about $92 in US currency. In France, where the device is made by a company Mylan recently bought, a twin-pack sells for about $85—or 28 percent of Mylan’s new “discount” price.

      Raising prices exorbitantly so that you can present a slightly less extortionate price as a “sale” is a time-honored marketing tradition. USA Today is under no obligation to feature the scam in a headline, however.

    • Trading Politics for Medical Profits

      Pay-to-play, the merger of politics and business, has many features including how to exploit political influence to maximize business profits even when children’s lives are at risk, says Michael Winship.

    • SEC Awards $22 Million to Ex-Monsanto Executive Through Whistleblower Program

      A former Monsanto Co executive who tipped the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission to accounting improprieties involving the company’s top-selling Roundup product has been awarded more than $22 million from the agency’s whistleblower program, the executive’s lawyer said on Tuesday.

      The award of $22,437,800 was tied to an $80 million settlement between the SEC and Monsanto in February, according to the lawyer, Stuart Meissner in New York, in a statement. It is the agency’s second largest under the program.

      Meissner declined to reveal the whistleblower’s identity.

      Monsanto said in an emailed statement, “It would be inappropriate for our company to comment on the SEC’s whistleblower program or this specific award.”

      The Dodd Frank financial reform law empowered the SEC to award money to whistleblowers who give information to the agency which leads to a fine.

      Awards to 33 whistleblowers by the SEC’s program have now surpassed a total of $107 million since the agency launched the program in 2011, the agency said in a statement on Tuesday. The largest award, in 2014, was $30 million, the agency said.

      Monsanto’s $80 million SEC settlement followed allegations that the company misstated its earnings in connection with Roundup, a popular weed killer.

      The SEC’s case against Monsanto revolved around a corporate rebate program designed to boost Roundup sales.

    • Unconventional natural gas wells associated with migraine, fatigue

      New research suggests that Pennsylvania residents with the highest exposure to active natural gas wells operated by the hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) industry are nearly twice as likely to suffer from a combination of migraine headaches, chronic nasal and sinus symptoms and severe fatigue.

    • Adverse Reproductive and Developmental Health Outcomes Following Prenatal Exposure to a Hydraulic Fracturing Chemical Mixture in Female C57Bl/6 Mice

      This work suggests potential adverse developmental and reproductive health outcomes in humans and animals exposed to these oil and gas operation chemicals, with adverse outcomes observed even in the lowest dose group tested, equivalent to concentrations reported in drinking water sources. These endpoints suggest potential impacts on fertility, as previously observed in the male siblings, which require careful assessment in future studies.

    • Exposure to Chemicals Released During Fracking May Harm Fertility

      More than 15 million Americans live within a one-mile radius of unconventional oil and gas (UOG) operations. UOGs combine directional drilling and hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” to release natural gas from underground rock. Scientific studies, while ongoing, are still inconclusive on the potential long-term effects fracturing has on human development. Today, researchers at the University of Missouri released a study that is the first of its kind to link exposure to chemicals released during hydraulic fracturing to adverse reproductive and developmental outcomes in mice. Scientists believe that exposure to these chemicals also could pose a threat to human development.

      “Researchers have previously found that endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs) mimic or block hormones — the chemical messengers that regulate respiration, reproduction, metabolism, growth and other biological functions,” said Susan C. Nagel, Nagel, an associate professor of obstetrics, gynecology and women’s health in the School of Medicine. “Evidence from this study indicates that developmental exposure to fracking and drilling chemicals may pose a threat to fertility in animals and potentially people. Negative outcomes were observed even in mice exposed to the lowest dose of chemicals, which was lower than the concentrations found in groundwater at some locations with past oil and gas wastewater spills.”

      Researchers mixed 23 oil and gas chemicals in four different concentrations to reflect concentrations ranging from those found in drinking water and groundwater to concentrations found in industry wastewater. The mixtures were added to drinking water given to pregnant mice in the laboratory until they gave birth. The female offspring of the mice that drank the chemical mixtures were compared to female offspring of mice in a control group that were not exposed. Mice exposed to drilling chemicals had lower levels of key hormones related to reproductive health compared to the control group.

    • WHO Experts Seek To Have Its Flu Framework Recognised Under Nagoya Protocol

      Will an international instrument protecting genetic resources get in the way of the world’s preparedness to fend off the next influenza pandemic? This is one of the questions left open for a group of experts reviewing the World Health Organization Pandemic Influenza Preparedness (PIP) Framework. On the side, one stakeholder is claiming to have been denied full and fair participation.

    • Medicinal cannabis to be legalised in Australia from November

      Medicinal cannabis will become legal, but strictly controlled from November this year, under a formal decision reached by the Therapeutic Goods Administration this week.

      The final decision was published on Wednesday, paving the way for the drug to be legalised for medicinal use, as the federal government works towards creating a national regulator.

    • Bee farm ‘looks like it’s been nuked’ after millions die in spraying for Zika mosquitos

      There’s been some collateral damage in the fight against Zika – millions of honeybees in South Carolina.

      Dorchester County officials have apologized for killing the bees when the county failed to notify local beekeepers about mosquito spraying last weekend.

      Four travel-related cases of the Zika virus have been confirmed in the county northwest of Charleston. Aerial mosquito spraying operations were conducted Sunday morning.

    • Free As In Health Care

      Most of our debates define freedom in terms of “freedom to” now, and the arguments are about the limitations placed on those freedoms. If you’re really lucky, like Malibu-driver lucky, the discussions you’re involved in are nuanced enough to involve “freedom from”, but even that’s pretty rare.

  • Security

  • Defence/Aggression

    • Western Media Propaganda Threatens Peace and Prolongs the Deadly Conflict in Eastern Ukraine

      Western media is becoming unhinged as its anti-Russia propaganda struggles to keep a hold on its consumers. Two recent examples provide evidence.

    • Why They Invaded

      Former British ambassador Craig Murray on the UK’s decision to invade Iraq and the lessons still not learned.

    • As Hillary Clinton kisses up to Henry Kissinger, RT looks at 4 of his most heinous acts
    • Turkey’s Coup: Winners & Losers

      As the dust begins to settle from the failed Turkish coup, there appear to be some winners and losers, although predicting things in the Middle East these days is a tricky business. What is clear is that several alignments have shifted, shifts that may have an impact on the two regional running sores: the civil wars in Syria and Yemen.

      The most obvious winner to emerge from the abortive military putsch is Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his campaign to transform Turkey from a parliamentary democracy to a powerful, centralized executive with himself in charge. The most obvious losers are Erdogan’s internal opposition and the Kurds in Turkey, Syria, Iraq and Iran.

    • White House Congratulates Itself on Modest Refugee Milestone
    • America’s True Role in Syria

      Syria’s civil war is the most dangerous and destructive crisis on the planet. Since early 2011, hundreds of thousands have died; around ten million Syrians have been displaced; Europe has been convulsed with Islamic State (ISIS) terror and the political fallout of refugees; and the United States and its NATO allies have more than once come perilously close to direct confrontation with Russia.

      Unfortunately, President Barack Obama has greatly compounded the dangers by hiding the US role in Syria from the American people and from world opinion. An end to the Syrian war requires an honest accounting by the US of its ongoing, often secretive role in the Syrian conflict since 2011, including who is funding, arming, training, and abetting the various sides. Such exposure would help bring to an end many countries’ reckless actions.

    • Experts Raise Alarms as US War Hawks Push for Deeper Syria Intervention

      As the civil war in Syria deepens, American war hawks are using recent atrocities to push for direct U.S. military intervention against the Syrian government, according to observers who warn that further escalation will only worsen what has been dubbed “the most dangerous and destructive crisis on the planet.”

      At The Nation on Thursday, journalist James Carden wrote that “neoconservative advocacy groups” are citing a new report by the United Nations’ Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) in order to craft a narrative that “asserts that the widespread suffering of the Syrian people could have been averted if only the [Obama] administration had intervened in the Syrian conflict sooner; if only President [Barack] Obama simply had not reneged on his ‘red line’ pledge and unleashed a full scale, Iraq-style intervention, surely the situation would be better than it is today.”

      The OPCW report, which contains new accusations of chemical-weapons use by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, “provide[s] the war party in the United States with the perfect cudgel with which to beat the administration for backing off of the ‘red line’ policy the president spelled out in 2012,” Carden argued.

    • Some Hindsight: The Lies that Dumped America Into the Syrian War

      Checking out the news these days, it might seem pretty clear why the U.S. is at war in Syria: destroy ISIS. That is almost certainly the way the two main presidential candidates will see it during their upcoming first debate, in a rare point of agreement.

      The funny thing is that ISIS did not become the reason for what now is a major regional war until late in the game.

      If we rewind about three years, the original justification was to “rid the world of the dictator,” Syrian president Bashar Assad. The U.S. involvement was started under the pretext that Assad was using chemical weapons against the other side in what was once confined to a civil war. American declared Assad thus had to go to avoid a genocide and humanitarian disaster.

      FYI: If you read no further, remember anytime a politician uses the word “genocide” these days we’re about to be dragged into another conflict that will morph into a quagmire.

      So here’s a reprise of something I wrote three years ago. Let’s revisit it and see whether or not any of the current disaster, political and humanitarian, could have been anticipated.

    • Woman shoots drone: “It hovered for a second and I blasted it to smithereens.”

      With a single shotgun blast, a 65-year-old woman in rural northern Virginia recently shot down a drone flying over her property.

      The woman, Jennifer Youngman, has lived in The Plains, Virginia, since 1990. The Fauquier Times first reported the June 2016 incident late last week. It marks the third such shooting that Ars has reported on in the last 15 months—last year, similar drone shootings took place in Kentucky and California.

      Youngman told Ars that she had just returned from church one Sunday morning and was cleaning her two shotguns—a .410 bore and a 20-gauge—on her porch. She had a clear view of the Blue Ridge Mountains and neighbor Robert Duvall’s property (yes, the same Robert Duvall from The Godfather). Youngman had seen two men set up a card table on what she described as a “turnaround place” on a country road adjacent to her house.

    • U.S. Strategy to Fight ISIS Has Set Off a New Conflict in Syria

      Five years after the start of Syria’s uprising, the Turkish military directly entered the fray last week, sending troops to occupy the northern Syrian town of Jarablus, previously held by the militant group the Islamic State. Turkey’s intervention represents a significant escalation of the conflict, as well as a sign that the country is likely to take a more aggressive approach to foreign policy following July’s failed military coup and subsequent purge.

      But Turkey’s intervention is also an indication that the U.S. strategy of empowering Kurdish groups to fight the Islamic State in Syria has helped trigger an entirely new conflict, this time between U.S.-backed militias and a NATO ally.

    • When Putin Bailed Out Obama

      As pressure again builds on President Obama to attack Syria and press a new Cold War with Russia, the extraordinary events of three years ago after a sarin attack near Damascus are worth revisiting, says ex-CIA analyst Ray McGovern.

    • A US-Fueled Syrian Sectarian Bloodbath

      The Obama administration helped fuel a conflict in Syria that inevitably was going to degenerate into a sectarian bloodbath, a reckless strategy pushed by former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, as Gareth Porter explains.

    • Ignoring the Pentagon’s Multi-Trillion-Dollar Accounting Error

      Times (10/12/14) ran a major investigative piece by reporter James Risen about several billion dollars gone missing, part of a shipment of pallets of $12 billion–$14 billion in C-notes that had been flown from the Federal Reserve into Iraq over a period of a year and a half in an effort to kickstart the Iraqi economy following the 2003 US invasion. Risen reported that about $1.5 billion of the cash, somehow stolen, had been discovered in a bunker in Lebanon by a special inspector general appointed to investigate corruption in the US occupation of Iraq. The article got front-page play.

      Earlier that same year, the Washington Post (4/7/14) ran a story reporting the US State Department inspector general’s finding that during Hillary Clinton’s years as secretary, the State Department had lost records for or misreported some $6 billion in government contracts. (State claimed the money was not lost, just not accounted for.)

      These stories are basic Journalism 101, the kind of bread-and-butter reporting on government that one expects from a major news organization. So how to explain that neither of these prestigious and influential newspapers—or practically any of the corporate media in the US, for that matter—bothered to mention it when the Pentagon’s inspector general this year issued a report blasting the US Army for misreporting $6.5 trillion (that’s not a typo; it’s trillion with a T) as its spending total for the 2015 fiscal year.

      Now, clearly that number cannot be correct, since the entire Pentagon budget for 2015 was a little over $600 billion, or less than 10 percent of what the Army was saying it had spent.

    • US Arms Makers Invest in a New Cold War

      Behind the U.S. media-political clamor for a new Cold War with Russia is a massive investment by the Military-Industrial Complex in “think tanks” and other propaganda outlets, writes Jonathan Marshall.

    • Vice Photospreads Present ‘Girly, Teenage’ Side of Israeli Occupation

      What this means is never made clear, but it would probably come as a surprise to those in Israel who actually refuse military service that serving in the IDF is a form of “protest against violence”—so long as one has pouty lips and “girly, teenage boredom.”


      In April 2016, Mondoweiss’ Dan Cohen (4/29/16) criticized Vice for passing off Israeli propaganda about IDF soldier Elor Azarya’s execution of a Palestinian as a “leaked report.” Vice (4/28/16) uncritically repeated claims that Azaraya was a one-off zealot while downplaying his popular support among Israelis.

      Vice, it should be noted, also runs coverage sympathetic to Palestinians, or at least from a Palestinian perspective.

    • Israel’s Abnormal ‘Normal’ with its Neighbors

      Israel often acts as if a simmering state of war with its Muslim neighbors is the only possible future, while occasionally playing off one nation against another, a “normal” that is not normal, says ex-CIA analyst Paul R. Pillar

    • Saudi forces are killing civilians in Yemen, so why is the UK still arming the regime?
    • Medea Benjamin and Greg Palast

      For the first half of the program, Peter and Mickey speak with author and Code-Pink cofounder Medea Benjamin; her new book, “Kingdom of the Unjust,” examines the history of U.S.-Saudi Arabian relations, and how the two governments remain close despite the Saudis’ repressing their own population, fighting a war in Yemen, and promoting the Wahabist version of Islam across the Mideast and beyond. In the second half-hour, investigative journalist Greg Palast speaks about his latest investigations into voter disenfranchisement, which is carried out primarily (but not exclusively) by Republican secretaries of state. Palast has a new article in the Rolling Stone, and a forthcoming documentary film, “The Best Democracy Money Can Buy.”

    • Belated Pushback on Saudis’ War on Yemen

      Saudi Arabia’s bombing campaign against Yemen’s Houthi rebels has created a humanitarian crisis, with opposition finally emerging in Congress to the U.S. assistance in the bloodbath, writes Jonathan Marshall.

    • Alan Kurdi Symbolized an Army of Dead Children. We Ignore Them at Our Peril

      The body of Aylan Kurdi has gone beyond the ‘iconic’. Being small and dressed like a little European boy, and being white rather than brown-skinned, his very name posthumously and subtly shifting to the homely English ‘Alan’, the son of the Kurdish refugee family fleeing across the Mediterranean from Turkey to Europe became ‘our’ child. The moment his tiny body washed up on the beach near Bodrum and appeared on front pages around the world, the closet racism of our politicians was briefly stilled. What stone heart could condemn this little boy as part of a ‘swarm’, a word used about the occupants of the Calais camp by a former British prime minister?

      But the image of Alan Kurdi obscured a host of lessons which we ignored – and continue to disregard – at our peril. Firstly, of course, he was a mere representative of the thousands of other Alans whose remains lie today on the sea bed of the Mediterranean, forever unrecorded and unfilmed. Alan was a symbol, perhaps even a representative of this army of dead children. But he also became a sacrificial three-year-old, thrown up by the waves as a ‘martyr’ rather than a victim of political violence and betrayal, while the Turkish police officer in rubber gloves gently taking his body from the sand became a kind of male version of the ‘pieta’. But if grief was depicted thus by Michaelangelo half a millennium ago, it was nonetheless odd that we regarded the Syrian Kurdish child as the victim of a frightening new phenomenon.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • ‘Sickening’ Killing of Wolf Pack Proceeds Despite Research Debunking Program
    • Profanity Peak wolf pack in state’s gun sights after rancher turns out cattle on den
    • Taking A Stand For Washington’s Wolves

      Snipers, including gunners in helicopters, have snuffed out half of Washington state’s Profanity Peak wolf pack and have put the rest of the pack in the crosshairs. This wolf family has been shattered by the loss of the breeding alpha female and five other members. All that’s left is an adult male and a few 4-month-old pups.

      By the time you read this, the pack could be wiped out — 12 percent of the state’s fledgling wolf population in just a few days.

      Sadly it’s another reminder that although we’ve come a long way in terms of tolerating predators like wolves and grizzly bears on our landscapes — there’s still much more to be done.

    • Canada regulator suspends TransCanada pipeline approval hearing

      Canada’s National Energy Board on Tuesday suspended Montreal hearings on TransCanada Corp’s (TRP.TO) proposed Energy East pipeline after protests disrupted the first day of the process on Monday.

      The board, Canada’s energy regulator, also said in a statement it would not proceed with further hearings until it had considered two motions asking for the recusal of members from the panel considering the pipeline. The NEB has invited written comments on the motions by Sept. 7.

      Opponents want two of the three panel members to step down after it emerged they had privately discussed the pipeline last year with former Quebec Premier Jean Charest, who at the time was working for TransCanada as a consultant.

    • NASA: Earth Is Warming at Rate ‘Unprecedented in 1000 Years’

      Another day, another dire warning about the global climate emergency.

      The National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s (NASA) top climate scientist announced Tuesday that the Earth is warming at a pace not seen in at least the past 1,000 years, making it “very unlikely” that global temperatures will stay below the 1.5 C limit agreed to in the landmark climate treaty negotiated in Paris last December.

    • Pope Francis says destroying the environment is a sin

      Pope Francis has called for urgent action to stop climate change and proposed that caring for the environment be added to traditional Christian works of mercy such as feeding the hungry and visiting the sick.

      In a message to mark the Catholic church’s World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation that he launched last year, Francis said the worst impact of global warming was being felt by those who were least responsible for it – refugees and the poor.

    • As Elephant Populations Drop, We Learn Even Their Footsteps Serve a Purpose

      A slate of new studies this week reveal two realities about elephants: they’re great at protecting tiny critters in their environment, and humans are terrible at protecting elephants.

      On Wednesday, data from two major surveys of African elephant populations uncovered rapidly declining numbers. One, a massive census of 18 African countries that was conducted by 90 scientists and dubbed the “Great Elephant Census,” found that there are only 352,271 savannah elephants left on 93 percent of the elephant habitat. Researchers found that, after rebounding a bit in the 90s, African elephant populations are now declining at a rate of 8 percent every year, mostly due to poaching.

      “If populations continue to decline at the 8 percent rate we estimated for 2010–2014, Great Elephant Census survey areas will lose half of their savannah elephants every nine years, and [local extinction] of some populations is possible,” the researchers wrote in a paper on their findings, published in PeerJ.

      This survey did not include forest-dwelling African elephants (which many experts believe are a distinct species), but another study published this week did. Unfortunately, the news was not any better.

    • Korean palm oil firm burned large tracts of forestland in Indonesia, NGOs allege

      The Korindo conglomerate is accused of using fire to clear land illegally in Indonesia’s easternmost Papua region, destroying rainforest and contributing to the country’s annual haze.

    • European Parliament investigates Dieselgate emissions scandal

      Diesel fuel powered cars by the manufacturer VW pollute the environment much more than is allowed, the US government agency EPA asserted in September 2015.

      While they meet legal emissions limits in lab tests, they actually emit much more harmful Nitrogen oxides (NOx) under real driving conditions. VW admitted to deliberately cheating on the tests using so-called “defeat devices” deployed in 11 million cars worldwide. Such devices are specifically forbidden under both EU and US law.

    • ‘We Are Peaceful Protectors of Water and of Health’ – CounterSpin interview with Kandi Mossett on Native American pipeline protest

      For months now, the Standing Rock Sioux in North Dakota have been engaged in peaceful protest over the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline. Intended to carry fracked oil from the Bakken fields more than a thousand miles into Illinois, the pipeline would, among other concerns, cross and recross the Missouri River that serves as a life source for the Standing Rock and others in the region.

    • Though Promised for Domestic Use, Dakota Access Pipeline May Fuel Oil Exports
    • ‘World Watching’ as Tribal Members Put Bodies In Path Of Dakota Access Pipeline

      Thirty-eight activists were arrested in two states on Wednesday as protests against the $3.8 billion Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) continue.

      While construction on one section of the pipeline has been halted until a court ruling expected next week, work continues at other sites. Earlier this week, a federal judge in Des Moines, Iowa, foiled an attempt by DAPL parent company Energy Transfer Partners to silence protests there by denying its request for a temporary restraining order.

      Subsequently, 30 people were taken into custody on Wednesday, during “one of the largest demonstrations yet” in that state against the four-state pipeline project, according to the Des Moines Register.

      “It also was the first time a formal effort was made to encourage a large number of arrests in a bid to obstruct construction work in Iowa,” the Register noted. “Organizers vowed afterward that additional demonstrations will be forthcoming, along with more arrests.”

    • The world got together to try to save the monarch butterfly, and then climate change ruined the plan

      In the winter months of 2015-2016, monarch butterflies had their best migration in years, arriving in record numbers to the Central Mexico forests where they hibernate. Unfortunately, those forests had a really bad year.

      Severe storms toppled many of the oyamel fir trees where millions of the iconic orange-winged insects rest after their long trip from Canada. More than 70 hectares of forest were damaged, the biggest loss since the 2009-2010 winter, according to data (link in Spanish) released Tuesday (Aug. 23) by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF). In more bad news, experts expect the butterflies’ overwintering grounds to get hit by this sort of extreme weather more frequently in the future due to climate change.

    • Queen bees, North Dakota honey production industry in peril

      The annual replacement of queen bees to maintain hive fertility has strained the apiary community and their suppliers. It’s raising questions as to whether North Dakota can remain the national leader for honey production in coming years, the Williston Herald reported.

      Owner of D & L Apiaries Dave Huelsman owns 130 beehive locations in northwest North Dakota, a business he has grown since 1992. He now faces the near impossible task of placing an order to suppliers for 4,000 queen bees, a year in advance, if he is to be assured mated queens come spring.

    • Illegal Forest Fires Threaten Another Indonesian Province

      A group of environmental nonprofits warns that the practice of setting fires to clear land for plantations is spreading in Papua, a part of Indonesia that had been fairly untouched.

    • Inuit Are Embedding Sensors in the Ice Because It’s Getting Dangerously Thin

      Inuit communities in Canada’s North have lived on the ice for centuries, and rely on it for hunting, transportation, and a way of life. Now, because of climate change, the ice is turning to slush. In many places, it’s becoming unsafe. So two Arctic communities are installing high-tech sea ice monitors that can track changes in the ice.

      “We’re not trying to replace traditional knowledge,” said Trevor Bell of the Memorial University of Newfoundland, a collaborator on SmartICE, which is being piloted around Nain, Labrador, and Pond Inlet, Nunavut. “We’re trying to augment traditional knowledge, with new technology.”

    • Tree kangaroos ‘on brink of extinction’ due to palm oil deforestation

      Indonesia’s native tree kangaroo is on the brink of extinction due to the planet’s addiction to palm oil, it has been revealed.

      The systematic bulldozing and burning of the endangered creatute’s rainforest home to make the substance use in a massive range of everyday products is leading to a dramatic dwindling of its numbers.

      The kangaroo’s cousin, the cuscus, is also facing extinction as hunting and habitat loss takes its toll, according to environmental group Mighty.

    • US and China ratify Paris agreement in major step for climate change fight

      Following the earlier climate announcement, Barack Obama has reportedly told his host Xi Jinping the pair now need to have “candid talks” on topics such as human rights and maritime issues.

      Reuters is reporting Obama made the comments when the pair met in Hangzhou ahead of tomorrow’s G20. Xi and Obama are due to dine together tonight after a series of bilateral meetings.

      Human rights activists and experts are not expecting US to put China under major pressure, however – at least not in public. Confrontation “would fly in the face of either side’s interests at the moment,” says Nick Bisley, an Asia expert at La Trobe University in Australia.

    • NASA Is Studying Alaska’s Creepy Bubbling Lakes from Space

      Every single month of 2016 has been the hottest on record, and this uptick in temperature is sure to have wide-ranging consequences around the world. One of the weirdest and least understood of these climate-related side effects is that Arctic boreal lakes are boiling over with methane bubbles. Indeed, some of these areas are such rich producers of methane that scientists can light plumes of the lake’s escaped gas on fire.

    • Climate simulations show effects of releasing permafrost carbon

      During the last deglaciation, between roughly 21,000 and 10,000 years ago, there was a rise in atmospheric carbon. This surge brought CO2 levels up to where they were in preindustrial times and contributed to the warming that ended the glacial period. But there’s a significant item missing from this picture: we don’t know where the carbon came from.

      Researchers had suggested that changes in the distribution of ice, driven by alterations in Earth’s orbit and tilt, altered the ocean’s capacity to absorb CO2. But a new paper performed a model-driven analysis of past changes in carbon levels and come up with a somewhat different answer. The authors’ simulations showed that, when a permafrost carbon component was included, it was possible to reproduce the atmospheric CO2 levels seen in ice core measurements—suggesting that carbon released by melting permafrost contributed to the rise of CO2.

    • Didcot Power Station: Body found in rubble identified

      A body found in the ruins of a collapsed building at Didcot Power Station has been identified.

      Christopher Huxtable, 34, from Swansea, had been missing since the collapse in February.

      His body was found on Wednesday and workers who carried out the search formed a guard of honour as it was driven from the site in the early hours of the morning.

      Ken Cresswell, 57, and John Shaw, 61, both from Rotherham, remain missing.

      The body of a fourth man, Michael Collings, 53, from Brotton, Teesside, was previously recovered from the site.

  • Finance

    • Goodbye, Ivory Tower. Hello, Silicon Valley Candy Store.

      For eight years, Peter Coles had an economist’s dream job at Harvard Business School.

      His research focused on the design of efficient markets, an important and growing field that has influenced such things as Treasury bill auctions and decisions on who receives organ transplants. He even got to work with Alvin E. Roth, who won a Nobel in economic science in 2012.

      But prestige was not enough to keep Mr. Coles at Harvard. In 2013, he moved to the San Francisco Bay Area. He now works at Airbnb, the online lodging marketplace, one of a number of tech companies luring economists with the promise of big sets of data and big salaries.

      Silicon Valley is turning to the dismal science in its never-ending quest to squeeze more money out of old markets and build new ones. In turn, the economists say they are eager to explore the digital world for fresh insights into timeless economic questions of pricing, incentives and behavior.

      “It’s an absolute candy store for economists,” Mr. Coles said.

      The pay, of course, is a lot better than you would find in academia, where economists typically earn $125,000 to $150,000 a year. In tech companies, pay for a Ph.D. economist will usually come in at more than $200,000 a year, the companies say. With bonuses and stock grants, compensation can easily double in a few years. Senior economists who manage teams can make even more.

    • World’s Largest Strike? Tens of Millions in India Rise Up Against Right-Wing Economic Policies

      “Our strike will be 100 percent successful … we will prove that this strike is the world’s largest ever,” Pandey said.

      “Among the trade unions’ 12 demands were a 692-rupee daily minimum wage, universal social security, and a ban on foreign investment in the country’s railway, insurance, and defense industries,” the Guardian reports.

      Prime Minister Modi’s administration has opened up several state-run industries to private foreign investment since Modi’s election in 2014.

      Al Jazeera reports that union officials “said about 180 million workers, including state bank employees, school teachers, postal workers, miners, and construction workers, were participating, but the figure could not be independently verified.”

      Prof. Jayati Ghosh, a development economist at Jawaharlal Nehru University in Delhi, “said Modi’s changes had built on a 25-year neoliberal reform agenda that had left workers across the country worse off,” according to the Guardian.

      “Less than four percent of workers in India come under labor protection, and even those protections have become more and more eroded. There’s a general sense that instead of targeting poverty they are targeting the poor, and there has been a real running down of spending on essential public services,” Ghosh told the Guardian.

    • Obama Appoints Social Security Critic to Fix Puerto Rico’s Budget

      Andrew Biggs, an American Enterprise Institute resident scholar and architect of conservative efforts to cut and privatize Social Security, has been named by President Obama to a seven-member fiscal oversight board for the debt-ridden U.S. territory of Puerto Rico. That board, which will work out restructuring for over $70 billion in debt, has widespread authority to institute additional austerity on the island’s citizens, including potential reductions in public pensions. And Biggs appears to be the only member of the board that has significant experience with social insurance.

      Under the Puerto Rico Oversight, Management, and Economic Stability Act signed into law in June, the fiscal oversight board will be effectively in charge of the island’s finances, usurping its democratically elected government. The oversight board is tasked with balancing Puerto Rico’s budget and pursuing all avenues to pay off its massive debt, including cuts to the island’s education, police, and health care systems. It can sell off Puerto Rican assets, lower the island’s minimum wage, order layoffs, and enforce a ban on public employee strikes. Only as a last resort can the island obtain court approval for a debt restructuring agreement, and negotiate with creditors, which include several “vulture funds” that scooped up Puerto Rican debt at a discount in the hopes of a big payday.

      The president gets to freely choose one of the seven fiscal oversight board members; the other six must come from approved lists provided by House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. Bloomberg was the first to release the seven names.

    • German activists take EU-Canada trade deal to Constitutional Court

      German activists take EU-Canada trade deal to Constitutional Court

      Activists delivered what they said was Germany’s biggest-ever public complaint to the Constitutional Court on Wednesday, hoping it will scupper a trade agreement between the European Union and Canada.

      The deal, which some see as a template for an EU-U.S. agreement still being negotiated, is the EU’s most ambitious trade pact to date and could increase trade between the two areas by some 20 percent.

      It would eliminate tariffs on 98 percent of goods immediately. It also would encompass regulatory cooperation, shipping, sustainable development and access to government tenders. But its ratification faces obstacles.

    • Let’s Rename Housing Benefit more fairly as “Landlord Bonus”.

      So-called “Housing benefit” is of zero benefit to tenants. It is a massive flow of taxpayer cash to landlords – an incredible £25 billion per year. It plays a pivotal role in the growth of landlordism and the bubbling of house prices to well beyond the pockets of most young people.

      It is argued on the right of politics that rent controls would be an unwarranted interference that would distort the housing market and prevent it operating efficiently. Yet housing benefit is itself a massive distortion, allowing landlords to charge rents far beyond what the market would ordinarily bear. If the state is to pay or top-up rents in this way, the state must also have a right to interfere in the level of rents.

      For the sake of clarity of argument, I do not regard “Housing Associations” as anything but part of the landlord class, especially given the high salaries they pay their executives.

    • ‘World in despair over Brexit’: Thousands march for Europe in protests across UK

      Thousands took to the streets today in a series of ‘march for Europe’ rallies in protest against the referendum vote to leave the EU.

      The demonstrations in London, Edinburgh, Birmingham, Oxford and Cambridge are demanding a pause in the Brexit process and call for tight economic, cultural, and social ties with the rest of Europe.

    • Apple Squeezes Parts Suppliers to Protect Margins

      As Apple Inc. grapples with falling iPhone sales this year, it is pushing to cut better deals for parts with its suppliers, while carriers in the crucial China market have mobilized to push iPhone sales with deep discounts.

    • Standing up to Apple

      For years, Washington lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have attacked big corporations for avoiding taxes by parking their profits overseas. Last week the European Union did something about it.

      The European Union’s executive commission ordered Ireland to collect $14.5 billion in back taxes from Apple.

      But rather than congratulate Europe for standing up to Apple, official Washington is outraged.

    • Why the EC Ruled Against Apple

      Ireland’s tax incentives to Apple are illegal and Dublin must recover up to 13 billion euros ($14.5 billion) from the American tech giant, the European Commission ruled Tuesday.

    • EU hits Apple with $14.5 billion Irish tax demand

      The European Commission ordered Apple Inc to pay Ireland unpaid taxes of up to 13 billion euros ($14.5 billion) on Tuesday as it ruled the firm had received illegal state aid.

      Apple and Dublin said the U.S. company’s tax treatment was in line with Irish and European Union law and they would appeal the ruling, which is part of a drive against what the EU says are sweetheart tax deals that usually smaller states in the bloc offer multinational companies to lure jobs and investment.

      The U.S. feels its firms are being targeted by the EU and a U.S. Treasury spokesperson warned the move threatens to undermine U.S. investment in Europe and “the important spirit of economic partnership between the U.S. and the EU.”

    • Apple’s Ireland tax deal to be ruled illegal by EU

      Apple is set to face a challenge in its dealings with Ireland, with the European Union’s anti-trust regulator to rule soon that the company’s tax deals with Dublin are in violation of the EU’s rules, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal.

      The company is to be accused of receiving illegal state aid from Ireland, according to another report (paywalled) in the Financial Times. A giood portion of the FT report has been reproduced here.

    • Apple facing record bill for Irish tax

      Apple could be ordered to pay billions of euros in back taxes in the Republic of Ireland by European Union competition officials.

      The final ruling, expected on Tuesday, follows a three-year probe into Apple’s Irish tax affairs, which the EU has previously identified as illegal.

      The Financial Times reports that the bill will be for billions of euros, making it Europe’s biggest tax penalty.

      Apple and the Irish government are likely to appeal against the ruling.

      Under EU law, national tax authorities are not allowed to give tax benefits to selected companies – which the EU would consider to be illegal state aid.

      According to EU authorities, rulings made by the Irish government in 1991 and 2007 allowed Apple to minimise its tax bill in Ireland.

      Apple’s company structure enabled it to legally channel international sales through Ireland to take advantage of that tax deal.

    • Apple’s Cook blows hot and cold on cash stash

      Apple chief executive Tim Cook is keeping people guessing as to whether the company will repatriate its massive pile of cash stashed outside the US or leave things as they are.

      In an interview with the Irish state radio broadcaster RTE, Cook said the company expected to repatriate billions of dollars of global profits to the United States next year.

      Questions about what Apple will do with its massive pile of cash, estimated to be more than US$200 billion, which is stashed outside the US, have arisen in the wake of the EU order that the company pay €13 billion (A$19.73 billion) in back taxes to Ireland.

      “We provisioned several billion dollars for the US for payment as soon as we repatriate it, and right now I would forecast that repatriation to occur next year,” Cook told RTE.

      But when asked by the Wall Street Journal about this, an Apple spokeswoman said this reflected Cook’s optimism that the US would make changes to its tax rate next year in order to make it attractive for the company to take the cash back to the US.

    • A Tax Expert Takes Tim Cook’s EU Letter Apart Point By Point

      Apple’s business structure and tax practices in Europe were around long before Tim Cook became CEO. He didn’t invent those things, but he’s vigorously defending them. His arguments in media interviews sound compelling, but they present only one side of a hot-button issue that’s easily relatable to the overarching wealth distribution and fair taxation themes of election cycles in both the U.S. and Europe this year.

      The European Union, after a lengthy investigation, ruled Tuesday that Apple’s use of Irish subsidiary companies to avoid paying taxes amounts to the tech giant receiving “illegal state aid” from Ireland. As a result, Apple may be required to pay around $14.5 billion in back taxes dating back to 2004.

      Cook had a carefully worded—and, at times, sharply worded—open letter ready to publish when the judgment was officially announced. He opens the letter by describing Apple’s history in Ireland dating back to 1980, when Steve Jobs set up the company’s first factory there. Apple employed 60 people in Cork county then, and employs more than 6,000 there now, Cook says. He points out that Apple’s Irish operations have helped create and sustain millions of app development, manufacturing, supplier, and small business jobs across Europe.

    • Rather Than Coming Up With Brand New Taxes For Tech Companies, The EU Just Issues A Massive Fine On Apple

      For quite some time now, we’ve seen EU regulators talk fairly openly about their desires to harm American internet companies, mostly in a misguided attempt to boost local European companies (and to collect more money). It’s why we keep hearing about weird, carefully targeted regulations designed to pump up how much money companies like Google, Apple and others pay.

      At the same time, parts of Europe (Ireland, in particular) have been doing basically everything they can think of to woo American tech companies. Ireland has successfully offered ridiculously friendly policies, leading many large internet companies to set up offices in Dublin, and then use that as the place where they “recognize” all their revenue. There are a variety of tax dodges employed here, which go by fun names like Dutch Sandwich and Double Irish.

      US Companies have been doing this for many years, and while it (frankly) looks pretty sleazy, they do seem to mostly play by the rules. We can argue over whether or not the tax breaks they get are worth it, but the whole thing just feels sketchy in that it’s clearly playing some jurisdictional games to get lower tax rates. Of course, there’s also been another looming issue on all of this, which is that these giant internet companies have been pushing heavily to be able to get the cash that they’ve been accumulating in Ireland back into the US, without then having to pay all those taxes on it. So they’ve been pushing for some sort of “amnesty” period or “holiday” where they can bring the cash back in.

    • Europe’s multi-billion dollar tax ruling against Apple throws treatment of IP assets into spotlight

      But it also throws into the spotlight the treatment of IP assets given that the dispute with Apple focuses on two Irish subsidiaries of the tech giant which, according to the EC’s announcement: “Hold the rights to use Apple’s intellectual property to sell and manufacture Apples products outside of North and South America under a so-called ‘cost-sharing agreement’ with Apple Inc.” The two Irish subsidiaries, the Commission claims, made annual payments to Apple in the US to fund R&D efforts, which amounted to $2 billion in 2011 but which significantly increased in 2014. The Commission alleges that those payments contributed to fund “more than half of all research efforts by the Apple group in the US to develop its intellectual property worldwide”. Given the deal that Apple struck with Ireland in 1991, the EC claims that the beneficial tax treatment amounted to state aid.

    • Funding, staffing woes for UK science after Brexit vote

      The Nobel Prize-winning head of Europe’s biggest biomedical research centre in London said that Britain’s vote to leave the EU is worrying his European employees and will hit “extremely important” funding.

      Paul Nurse, head of the world-renowned Francis Crick Institute, told AFP that EU funds account for around £5 million a year (€5.9 million), or around 5% of his annual budget.

      “It’s money we can use in a wide variety of ways,” he said in an interview at the institute’s new futuristic £650-million headquarters near the Eurostar terminal at St Pancras, which was inaugurated this week.

      “It’s not tied down in particular objectives and that’s extremely important… when you’re trying to run an innovative research institute,” said Nurse, who won a Nobel Prize in 2001 for his work on cell cycles.

      Nurse said 55% of the institute’s post-doctoral researchers were from other parts of the European Union and some of them were concerned about their future status.

    • Brexit is not inevitable, says former civil service chief

      Brexit is not inevitable and Britain could still remain a part of a changed European Union, the former head of the civil service has said.

      Gus O’Donnell, who was the cabinet secretary from 2005-11, told the Times (subscription) that he anticipated the UK would retain EU laws and rules regardless of its status in the union.

      The crossbench peer said: “Lots of people will say, ‘We’ve had the referendum, we’ve decided to go out, so that’s it, it’s all over’. But it very much depends what happens to public opinion and whether the EU changes before then.

    • Theresa May ‘acting like Tudor monarch’ by denying MPs a Brexit vote
    • Theresa May calls Brexit meeting amid reports of single market split
    • Theresa May will trigger Brexit negotiations without Commons vote
    • Theresa May tells pro-EU civil servants to get on with the job of delivering Brexit
    • Chancellor blamed as cabinet splits over single market
    • Theresa May, the Brexit enforcer, orders her Cabinet ministers to come up with blueprint for EU exit
    • Whitehall must not try to block Brexit

      Theresa May has wisely decided not to hold a parliamentary vote before opening negotiations to trigger Britain’s withdrawal from the European Union. The idea that MPs might have vetoed Brexit is awful – and the very fact that such a threat existed attests to how out of touch so many politicians are. Alas, they are not alone. Government sources have told this newspaper that many civil servants are not keen on Brexit either. It should be made clear immediately that Whitehall cannot veto Brexit.

    • Brexit: a story of a brainstorm

      Today the Cabinet are having an away day, where they will “brainstorm” (horrendous verb) what they mean by Brexit.

    • Local Governments Are Letting Silicon Valley Skirt Public Disclosure Laws

      Uber is likely seeking such arrangements in other cities around the country as Uber begins to transition from being a wholly private service to being one that, with taxpayer subsidization, could replace mass transit.

    • Putting the Con in the Gig Economy

      It’s called the Independent Drivers Guild—but the new organization for New York City’s estimated 35,000 Uber drivers is “independent” in name only.

      Co-founded by Uber and the Machinists union, it’s not a union, it has no collective bargaining rights, and it receives financial support from Uber.

      Just how much support, we don’t know, since Uber and the Machinists won’t release their agreement—not even to drivers.

      If the shroud of secrecy isn’t enough to raise your eyebrows, consider who’s heaping praise on this cozy new partnership. The Mackinac Center—a Koch-backed anti-union mouthpiece that pushed for “right to work” in Michigan—calls it a “model that could bring unionization into the 21st century.”

      What will it do? The Guild gives drivers a process to appeal their terminations (which Uber calls “deactivations”). Ten union-selected drivers will attend monthly meetings of a “works council.”

      “It’s an opportunity for drivers to sit across the table from Uber management and discuss issues related to pay, dispatch procedures, and paid time off,” said Jim Conigliaro, general counsel and business rep for Machinists District 15. “There are no obligations on either side to come to an agreement. It’s just a discussion.”

      Bhairavi Desai has a more critical view. She heads the New York Taxi Workers Alliance, a worker center that represents 19,000 drivers in the city, including several thousand who drive for Uber.

    • ICT joins competitiveness pact, triggering tax breaks of €100M

      Trade Union Pro estimates in a press release that approximately 25 per cent of the 16,000–18,000 workers in the sector are temporary workers. The agreement reached yesterday, it adds, will allow for the establishment of local guidelines for the use of temporary workers and make shop stewards better equipped to monitor the use of temporary workers.

    • Donald’s Trump Visit to Mexico Is Not the Real Irony—NAFTA Is

      But Trump—and many other critics in the U.S.—only talk about how NAFTA has hurt U.S. workers. Largely unacknowledged in the U.S. is how it has devastated Mexican family farms and small industry—which leads to desperate migration from Mexico to the U.S. (along with the drug war).

    • In Attempted Hit Piece, NYT Makes Putin Hero of Defeating TPP

      In an remarkable hit piece NYT spent over 5,000 words yesterday trying to prove that all of WikiLeaks’ leaks are motivated from a desire to benefit Russia.

      That of course took some doing. It required ignoring the evidence of the other potential source of motivation for Julian Assange — such as that Hillary participated in an aggressive, and potentially illegal, prosecution of Assange for being a publisher and Chelsea Manning for being his source — even as it repeatedly presented evidence that that was Assange’s motivation.

    • Groups to Obama: Don’t Cede Climate to TTIP or Fossil Fuel Subsidies

      Environmental groups on Thursday sent an open letter to President Barack Obama warning him that the controversial Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) threatens to upend his climate legacy.

      The letter (pdf), released ahead of the upcoming Group of 20 (G20) summit in Hangzhou, China, calls on Obama to protect the 2008 G20 commitment to phase out “inefficient fossil fuel subsidies that encourage wasteful consumption” by opposing the TTIP.

      If approved, the U.S.-European Union trade deal would allow G20 counties to “maintain fossil fuel subsidies for ‘economic’ or ‘security of supply’ reasons,” and would “encourage industry self-regulation rather than actually requiring firms to increase energy efficiency,” the letter states.

      “Instead of undermining important climate agreements and goals, trade deals should move us towards the end of fossil fuel subsidies that is needed to avoid the worst impacts of climate change,” it continues.

    • Called it: The TTIP (“the US-European TPP”) is all but dead

      The TTIP is all but dead: it will never happen. That’s my professional political opinion after Germany and France have said that it’s stalled and called for its scrapping, respectively. I predicted this several months ago on this blog.

      TTIP is the so-called “free trade agreement” that is the direct opposite of free trade that’s being negotiated – scrap that, was being negotiated – between the US and Europe, like the infamous TPP but eastbound from the United States instead of westbound like the TPP.

      The reason the United States is choosing to negotiate two different agreements this time to try to give benefits to U.S. corporations, at the expense of everybody else’s business and liberty, is spelled ACTA. That was the most recent attempt of a worldwide rent-seeking agreement that ended abruptly in 2012. The mistake the US negotiators did in attempting ACTA was to try to make it one global agreement covering every economy but China, in a very thinly veiled attempt to make that someone in particular fall in line.

    • TTIP in further doubt as Hollande questions timing

      The TTIP trade deal was dealt another blow on Tuesday as the French president cast doubt on when an agreement would be reached.

      Francois Hollande said it would not be finalised before Barack Obama left office later this year.

      Meanwhile, Germany’s economy minister, Sigmar Gabriel, said it had no chance of being agreed before the US presidential election in November.

      The Americans were unwilling to compromise with Europe, he said.

    • TTIP’s ‘failure’ gives us a clue about Britain’s post-Brexit trading future

      The apparent failure of the EU-US trade talks signalled by German Vice-Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel should come as little surprise – for good and bad reasons – and contains some interesting clues about the UK’s post-Brexit trading future.

      One “good” reason for the negotiators being unable to agree so far on a single chapter of the 27 in the draft Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership is that the Europeans are deeply suspicious about how much power will be given to large multinational companies in the process. The secret “court” for settling disputes is absurdly opaque and unaccountable, for example. That would be bad enough across most areas of the economy, but when it impinges on the way the NHS operates for the public good, it is plainly unacceptable.

    • Can We Save Venice Before It’s Too Late?

      A deadly plague haunts Venice, and it’s not the cholera to which Thomas Mann’s character Gustav von Aschenbach succumbed in the Nobel laureate’s 1912 novella “Death in Venice.” A rapacious tourist monoculture threatens Venice’s existence, decimating the historic city and turning the Queen of the Adriatic into a Disneyfied shopping mall.

      Millions of tourists pour into Venice’s streets and canals each year, profoundly altering the population and the economy, as many native citizens are banished from the island city and those who remain have no choice but to serve in hotels, restaurants and shops selling glass souvenirs and carnival masks.

      Tourism is tearing apart Venice’s social fabric, cohesion and civic culture, growing ever more predatory. The number of visitors to the city may rise even further now that international travelers are avoiding destinations like Turkey and Tunisia because of fears of terrorism and unrest. This means that the 2,400 hotels and other overnight accommodations the city now has no longer satisfy the travel industry’s appetites. The total number of guest quarters in Venice’s historic center could reach 50,000 and take it over entirely.

      Just along the Grand Canal, Venice’s main waterway, the last 15 years have seen the closure of state institutions, judicial offices, banks, the German Consulate, medical practices and stores to make way for 16 new hotels.

    • Confusion Over Purpose of U.S. Education System

      There is no consensus among the public about the role of the public school system in the U.S., according to a new poll that also shows widespread discontent with some of the education policies that have been a major focus of the reform movement.

      “This really calls into question in many ways whether the agenda that has been set over the last 16 years, in particular over the last two administrations, is really what parents want to see,” said Johsua Starr, CEO of PDK, the education organization that’s released the poll annually for the last 48 years.

      Notably, the poll shows that only 45 percent of respondents thought the main goal of public education should be preparing students academically, while the rest was split between the main goal being preparing students for work or preparing them to be good citizens.

      “That finding is perhaps one of the most intriguing,” Starr said. “One has to really question whether the direction we’ve been going is consistent with what the public wants.”

      That question is put into sharp focus, said Starr and others, by one finding in particular – that an overwhelming majority of the public does not believe the best way to fix poor performing schools is by closing them.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Donald Trump’s campaign is based on the NFL’s business model. Here’s how

      Political pundits have been wondering — or depending on the partisan affiliation, chortling — about Donald Trump’s choice of venues for his campaign appearances. In recent weeks, these have included rallies in Texas, a reliably red state, and Mississippi, where not only does he poll higher than in any other state, but the prize is a measly six electoral votes.

      On the other side of the ledger are Trump appearances in states like Maine, which also has a tiny number of electoral votes (four), but is fairly securely blue.

      The looming start of the National Football League season allows us to recognize the basis of Trump’s campaign strategy: It’s the NFL’s business model.

    • Universal bogeyman

      Hillary Clinton claims the woes of the world are due to a vast alt-right conspiracy – and it is run out of Moscow.

    • Donald Trump Wins Over Secretive “Children of Israel” Megadonor

      Donald Trump attended a $25,000-per-ticket fundraiser Monday night at the Woodside, California home of Saul Fox, the CEO of private equity firm Fox & Paine.

      Fox is the donor behind Children of Israel LLC, whose $884,000 in contributions has made it the second-most generous “ghost corporation” in the 2016 cycle. This election has seen a surge in “ghost corporations,” the term used for businesses that appear to exist solely to shield the identity of individuals who want to put money into the U.S. political process.

      Fox’s ownership of Children of Israel was unknown until The Intercept reported on it several weeks ago.

      Children of Israel gave $150,000 in 2015 to Pursuing America’s Greatness, a Super PAC supporting Mike Huckabee’s presidential run; $400,000 in 2016 to Stand for Truth, a Super PAC supporting Ted Cruz’s candidacy; and $334,000 to the Republican National Committee.

    • Don’t Expect Donald Trump to Stop Lying About Huma Abedin

      Once again treating news of other people’s pain as an opportunity to score political points, Donald Trump seized on Huma Abedin’s decision to separate from Anthony Weiner on Monday as an opportunity to repeat his unsubstantiated claim that Hillary Clinton’s closest aide must have shared classified information with her husband and draw attention to a fringe conspiracy theory that she is a secret agent of the Muslim Brotherhood.

    • Congressional Democrats Call on FBI to Investigate Their Political Adversaries’ Kremlin Ties

      Leading House Democrats on Tuesday sent a letter to FBI Director James Comey, which they promptly published, asking the agency to investigate whether the Trump campaign and the Russian government have entered into a joint plot “to interfere with the U.S. presidential election.” Although the House Democrats say they do not know whether such a conspiracy with Moscow exists, they say that “serious questions have been raised” — specifically about whether Trump supporters worked in tandem with Kremlin agents to hack Democratic Party computer systems, and “about overt and covert actions by Trump campaign officials on behalf of Russian interests.”

      As grounds for their suspicions, these top Democrats cite certain associations between Trump advisers and various Russians, suspicious visits by them to Moscow, and statements Trump supporters made that are critical of the United States of America or advocate better relations with Moscow. These statements and policy views, these top Democrats suggest, demonstrate possible disloyalty to the United States, which should be investigated.

    • Third Party Loyalists: Insanity Redefined or Political Attention Deficit Disorder?

      As we know, however, the reality was not like that at all: The longest serving independent in congressional history actually won 45 percent of the delegates elected in the Democratic Party primaries and caucuses. Yes, we were never expected to win the nomination and, yes, we did not win the nomination in the end. At the same time, most everyone heavily involved in the Sanders campaign recognized they were in a power struggle very unlike the “Come the revolution” meetings they may have previously attended. And a lot of people came out of it with ideas about how we could do it even better next time. So why wouldn’t we be looking toward a next time, then? Presumably because the third party presidential route held more promise.

    • Making ‘Our Revolution’ Ours

      One of the most remarkable things about Sanders’ campaign was how it electrified the young, reinvigorated progressives, and forced Hillary Clinton and the Democratic Party to lurch desperately to the left.

      Of course, once she got the nomination, she wasted no time in tacking back to the right of center and doing what Democrats have always done – assuming that progressives would fall in line because there was nowhere else to go.

    • Jill Stein Won’t Apologize for Her Running Mate’s ‘Uncle Tom’ Comment on Obama

      Green Party presidential nominee Jill Stein met Thursday with The Washington Post’s editorial board to discuss her platform, which the paper later described as “poorly formed and wildly impractical.”

      Stein is the third 2016 presidential nominee to talk with the Post’s editorial board, which met with Libertarian nominee Gary Johnson in July and Republican nominee Donald Trump in March. Hillary Clinton has yet to sit down with the board, although it has condemned her use of a private email server as secretary of state.

      After meeting with Johnson, the board members wrote that his and his running mate William Weld’s “refreshing honesty could not cover up the ticket’s defects and lapses.” Of Trump, they noted that his interview “provided no reassurance regarding Mr. Trump’s fitness for the presidency,” adding that “his answers left little doubt how radical a risk the nation would be taking in entrusting the White House to him.”

    • The Corbyn crowd, and its signal

      What is really going on in Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party? An open-air meeting and the changes in a ward branch give some clues.

    • Clinton’s embrace of Republicans will harm her own party’s future

      The Clinton campaign has now spent months trying to convince relatively obscure former Republican officials to endorse her campaign while also adopting many Republican slogans and arguments in her quest for the presidency.

      One has to wonder how much long term damage she is doing to progressive policies by deploying this strategy, even if she beats Donald Trump along the way.

      Clinton gave a speech in Ohio on Wednesday with yet another former Bush official, James Clad. The speech was billed as touting “American exceptionalism”, one of the more repellent nationalistic concepts that Republicans have used to shame progressives in the past. She spoke mostly about foreign policy, a subject in which Clinton – with her penchant for supporting foreign wars and beefed up US military presence everywhere – seemingly has more in common with mainstream Republicans than the Obama administration.

      Last week, Clinton again handed legitimacy to the Republican party through the way she has decided to attack Trump. She gave a speech in which she praised prior GOP candidates for their treatment of Muslim Americans, including George W Bush, in an attempt to rhetorically separate Trump from these other supposedly upstanding Republicans. In the process, she is kneecapping Democratic candidates around the country who are attempting to retake the House and Senate.

    • The ‘Anti-Clinton Media’ Are Big Donors to Clinton Foundation–and to Clinton

      Earlier this week, an Associated Press (AP) story showed that a disproportionate number of Clinton’s meetings with private citizens at the State Department were with large donors to the Clinton Foundation. At the very least, these stories ought to spark a serious media conversation about money, politics and philanthropy. Instead, much of the media, especially the wide array of Clinton loyalists all over the industry, have been quick to dismiss the story as part of an anti-Clinton agenda.

      The media industry, which many claim is out to get Clinton, is actually made up mostly of donors to the Clinton Foundation. These donors are also actively supporting Clinton’s campaign with donations and even fundraising. Indeed, while Clinton’s potential conflicts of interest at the State Department are thought-provoking, her financial ties to Big Media are a concern in their own right. These close ties are especially unsettling on the heels of a primary season in which the corporate media attacked Bernie Sanders constantly, and the Democratic National Committee (DNC) was caught manipulating the media on Clinton’s behalf.

      It is understandable that many want to avoid criticizing Clinton, out of fear of giving the reckless, racist, authoritarian Donald Trump fodder to attack her. However, this type of suspension of critical thinking will not prevent a Trump presidency; Trump will attack Clinton no matter what “fodder” is or isn’t provided. However, the backlash against any critique of Clinton’s donor relationships may have long-term political consequences. Every time liberals do cartwheels trying to defend Clinton on this issue, they are undercutting their own fundamental arguments against Citizens United and the influence of the likes of the Koch brothers.

    • College Trash Stub: Brady Versus the Ess Eee See

      In another very important development, the FBI has just revealed that Hillary will have to stay away from the White House during her first four months as President because she was exonerated on the underlying crime but destroyed a few phones.

    • FBI releases Hillary Clinton email report
    • FBI publishes notes on Hillary Clinton’s use of private email [iophk: "Friday before a major holiday?"]

      The FBI has released 58 pages of documents from its recently closed investigation into former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server, including a summary of agents’ interviews with Clinton and several of her aides.

      The documents include technical details about how the server in the basement of Clinton’s home was set up.

      Friday’s release of documents involving the Democratic presidential nominee is a highly unusual step, but one that reflects the extraordinary public interest in the investigation into Clinton’s server.

    • Bill Clinton Staffer’s Email Was Breached on Hillary’s Private Server, FBI Says

      Since it came to light that Hillary Clinton ran a private email server during her time as Secretary of State, that computer’s security has become a subject of controversy among politicos whose only notion of a “server” until recently was a waiter carrying canapés at a fundraising dinner. But now the FBI has released the first hint that Clinton’s private server may have been compromised by hackers, albeit only to access the email of one of former president Bill Clinton’s staffers. And though there’s no evidence the breach went further, it’s sure to offer new fodder to critics of Clinton’s handling of classified data.

      On Friday afternoon, the FBI released a new set of documents from its now-concluded investigation into Clinton’s private email server controversy. The 60-page report includes a description of what sounds like an actual hacker compromise of one of Bill Clinton’s staffers. It describes that in early January 2013, someone accessed the email account of one of his female employees, whose name is redacted from the report. The unnamed hacker apparently used the anonymity software Tor to browse through this staffer’s messages and attachments. The FBI wasn’t able to determine how the hacker would have obtained the her username and password to access her account, which was also hosted on the same private server used by then-Secretary of State Clinton.

    • All the Clintons’ servers: Hillary first used a Power Mac tower for e-mail

      It was kismet, and in March of 2009, Pagliano delivered two servers to Chappaqua—a Dell PowerEdge 2900 running Windows Server and Microsoft Exchange and a Dell PowerEdge 1950 running Blackberry Enterprise Server (BES). Cooper and Pagliano together acquired additional network and storage hardware. Initially, Pagliano said, he believed the servers were for President Clinton and not for the Secretary.

    • Hacker Guccifer gets porridge for revealing Hillary Clinton’s email stash

      INFAMOUS HACKER Guccifer is presumably packing his suitcase for an extended stay in the US and a future of people asking him questions about Hillary Clinton’s emails.

      Guccifer, or Marcel Lehel Lazar, used to be a taxi driver, according to the International Business Times, which makes sense because the hacker was able to find his way anywhere, often via short cuts, and end up on the winning side of any deal.

      But Lazar took one journey too far when he found himself in the uncharted waters of the home-based email server that presidential candidate Hillary Clinton used to carry out official work and things like the booking of private jets.

      The proverbial hit the fan when news about this unusual use came out, some of it going in the Clinton direction and some of it to Lazar and his native Romania.

    • Romanian hacker ‘Guccifer’ sentenced to 52 months in U.S. prison

      A Romanian hacker nicknamed “Guccifer” who helped expose the existence of a private email domain Hillary Clinton used when she was U.S. secretary of state was sentenced on Thursday to 52 months in prison by a federal court in Alexandria, Virginia.

      Marcel Lazar, 44, who used the alias online, had pleaded guilty in May to charges including unauthorized access to a protected computer and aggravated identity theft after being extradited from Romania.

      Lazar’s public defender, Shannon Quill, was not immediately available for comment.

    • Top Jeb Bush donor says he’s with Clinton

      Donald Trump is unqualified for the presidency, Mike Fernandez, a top Jeb Bush and Rick Scott donor, said Thursday, announcing that he’ll be voting across party lines for Hillary Clinton in November.

      Fernandez identified himself as “a firm believer in the fundamental tenets of the Republican Party” and as someone who takes his civic responsibilities seriously before slamming the GOP’s standard-bearer.

    • Feds Spend $499,571 to ‘Combat Online Trolling’

      The National Science Foundation is spending roughly half a million dollars to combat “online trolling.”

      A joint project by Northwestern and Northeastern universities is examining how to create “trolling-free environments” on the Internet. The researchers define online trolls as those who try to influence public opinion by boosting “misleading” and “inauthentic comments.”

      “Today, almost every browsing click that users make is collected by numerous trackers associated with a variety of online services (e.g., advertising networks, online social networks, e-commerce platforms),” a grant for the project states. “Users have often expressed concern about the lack of privacy and control over their personal data. Nonetheless, despite a substantial effort to expose and control this prevalent behavior, the reality is that users keep accepting updated online privacy policies, which in turn grant the gathering of more personal data.”

    • I Get Paid To Write Fake Reviews For Amazon

      Whether you need to find a motel in Winnipeg that doesn’t reek of despair (good luck!) or track down the cheapest possible Chinese food in El Paso, internet reviewers have got your back. But some businesses have become so desperate for that elusive fifth star that they’re paying for positive reviews online, a crime filthier than the rats running around that El Paso Chinese place. We spoke with Jessica Carson, a paid online reviewer, and she told us …

    • PR Firm Says It Ghost-Wrote Thousands of Op-Eds in Major US Papers

      Additionally, paying $5,000 for this service is not simply paying for research or editing. It’s paying for the unfair advantage of having your op-ed pitched by people who’ve built cozy relationships with op-ed page editors, and who in at least some cases used to be op-ed page editors.

      Even worse, it’s paying for the insider skill of churning out or transforming an op-ed into just the sort of familiar, boring, cookie-cutter columns that clutter up the dying institution of the daily, dead-tree, advertising-and-rewritten-government-statement sheets we call major newspapers.

      This is why the more stimulating op-eds are often to be found on independent websites.

      But to the extent that this service can really reach 50,000 people whom one wouldn’t have otherwise reached, it is part of the corruption of a thoroughly corrupt communications system. It’s part of the rigging of everything that breeds cynicism and resentment.

      Do op-ed page editors know that Keybridge pitches op-eds that it claims to have ghost-written? Are they all completely, or only partially, ghost-written? Those might be questions for some future WikiLeaks release.

      Meanwhile, here’s a fun fact: Keybridge is a supposedly savvy PR firm in Washington, DC, that bears the name of a bridge named for Francis Scott Key, who owned people as slaves, supported killings of African-Americans, penned an anti-Muslim poem that later became a celebration of killing people escaped from slavery and of a flag surviving a battle that killed human beings during a war that failed to conquer Canada but succeeded in getting the White House burned. That revised poem became the US national anthem. Great image, guys! I’d pay $5,000 for that.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • Do we need to rein in Facebook and Google’s power?

      DO YOU remember your first Google search, with the world’s information at your fingertips? Or perhaps the thrill of rediscovering old friends when you opened a Facebook account. From those heady, early days, Google and Facebook have become custodians of crucial technologies relied upon by hundreds of millions of people all over the planet.

      The key to their success is no secret: the services they offer are the best and so droves of people choose to use them. But with the droves comes data and with that, a new form of power. This, coupled with the fact that most users understand little about this new currency, has led some to worry that there is very little holding these companies to account.

      “They really control what you know and what you see. They control your universe,” says Ariel Ezrachi, who studies competition law at the University of Oxford. Is it time to rein them in? Even if we wanted to, could we?

    • I Have Never Stood Up for the National Anthem—and Never Will

      I do not follow sports, so I had not heard of Colin Kaepernick before this week. The San Francisco 49ers quarterback took a simple action Friday during a football game: He chose not to stand during the national anthem, and for that he has now become a household name. His act was one to which I could strongly relate.

      Some years ago, I was at the Hollywood Bowl for a concert that had absolutely nothing to do with a national holiday, the military or the government. It was just a music event. But simply because there was a large gathering of people in one place, the venue upheld its irrational tradition of playing the national anthem and, like programmed robots, everyone in the stadium stood. I refused.

    • What Athletes Should Stand For

      Honoring a venerable tradition of activist athletes dating from Muhammad Ali, San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick has continued his protest against racial injustice, police brutality and a lack of accountability by those in power “getting away with murder.” He has taken a knee during another national anthem at a game in San Diego, vowed to donate $1 million to grassroots organizations working in poor communities, and inspired two more NFL players – teammate Eric Reid and the Seahawks’ Jeremy Lane – to join him “until justice is served.”

      Their willingness to take a stand for what’s right, despite sometimes steep personal cost, follows in the admirable footsteps of Ali’s Vietnam-era refusal to be drafted to fight other people of color. After mega-stars Jim Brown, Bill Russell and the great Kareem Abdul-Jabbar spoke up in support of Ali, many others have followed suit over the years: From the 1968 Olympics’ Black Power protest by Tommie Smith and John Carlos, to hoodies, “I Can’t Breathe,” and “Black Lives Matter” shirts worn by NBA and NFL players to protest the killings of Trayvon Martin, Eric Garner and so many more, to the searing speech at July’s ESPY Awards by NBA heavyweights Carmelo Anthony, Dwyane Wade, Chris Paul and LeBron James.

    • Pre-censorship is a reality today: Mahesh Bhatt
    • Does YouTube Ad Policy Equate to Censorship? Give Me a Break
    • Apple’s €13 Billion Irish Tax Kerfuffle, Explained for Normal People
    • Apple must pay $14.5 billion in back taxes to Ireland, the EU says
    • Apple ordered to pay €13bn after EU rules Ireland broke state aid laws
    • Apple must pay Ireland $14.5 billion in unpaid taxes
    • EU stoush: Apple’s Cook starts off on wrong note
    • Apple holds Europe to ransom: Tech giant threatens to cut jobs in EU after Brussels orders it to pay back £11BILLION in tax over ‘illegal’ sweetheart deal with Irish government
    • Two Months of Internet Blackouts Have Taken a Toll on Kashmir

      Earlier this summer, the north Indian state of Kashmir was hit with a new wave of riots when young militant leader Burhan Wani was killed by state police. Wani was the controversial head of Hizbul Mujahideen, a group fighting for the state to separate from India. He was embraced as a freedom fighter by many in Kashmir, and considered a terrorist by Indian officials.

      Kashmiris have been forced to live with regular curfews and military presence in their daily lives. Their mountain and valley homes have been caught in the crosshairs of border wars between India, Pakistan and China for decades. But in moments of peak violence the law enforcement in Kashmir has started wielding a new means of control: mobile and digital blackouts.

    • Bhutan’s Gross National Unhappiness: In The Wake Of The Country’s First Facebook Defamation Lawsuit, Fears Of Censorship Rise

      It remains to be seen what that new policy will entail, and the extent of the censorship imposed. But it’s sad to see a country that cares about maximizing national happiness taking precisely the same route as less enlightened nations.

    • Defamation case will be a landmark case: PM

      With the recent defamation case between a businessman and a freelance journalist underway for the sharing of a post on social media, proper use of the platform was discussed during the 26th Meet the Press yesterday.

      Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay said that because of social media, some landmark cases have taken place and how the judiciary implements the laws of the land is very significant. “We have to be bound by the judiciary’s decision ultimately,” Lyonchoen said. “The recent defamation case will also be a landmark case we should be paying attention to. These are very important times in our country,” he said.

    • Another 19th Century Moral Panic: Theater

      Every so often, we’ve written about examples of historical “moral panics” — those moments when “concerned citizens” (often including the press and/or politicians) freaked out about the moral horrors of… some awful “new” thing. You all know the obvious ones: like comic books and Dungeons & Dragons, but we like to highlight the truly oddball ones that people these days don’t realize were ever possibly considered a threat to our moral fabric. Things like chess and the waltz. Oh, and of course the printing press. Evil, evil, evil filthy things that will warp the minds of our young people and make them lazy, violent and degenerate.

    • YouTube accused of censorship: Video sharing site defends rules that strip adverts from ‘inappropriate’ content

      YouTube has been accused of censorship after it emerged it has been removing the ability for users to make money from their videos if they express politically incorrect or offensive views.

      Users of the video sharing site began noticing the adverts had been stripped from their content after receiving alerts from the site saying they had breached their ‘advertiser friendly content guidelines’.

      These state that videos containing sexually suggestive content, violence, inappropriate language, promotion of drugs or controversial or sensitive subjects will not be monetised.

    • A Laid-Off Facebook News Curator Reveals What Fueled ‘Trending’ Topics

      There’s no doubt: Trending topics on Facebook get big reach. Nearly half of U.S. adults say they get their news from the social platform, and the prominently placed feature makes it more likely that a small number of stories could make their way to large numbers of Facebook’s massive user base (The network reached 1.13 billion daily active users in June).

      It’s no wonder that such reach would get attention — and scrutiny. This year, the company has faced criticism over what makes a topic or story “trend” on the News Feed’s sidebar. Some even alleged political bias, which Facebook says is unfounded. The process got extra attention recently with last week’s layoff of the contracted “news curator” team. Though the curators knew their roles were temporary and that they were essentially helping to train the algorithm, the move still came as a surprise.

    • YouTube star PewDiePie suspended from Twitter after IS joke

      YouTube star PewDiePie was suspended from Twitter after making a joke about so-called Islamic State.

      The suspension was short lived and his account is now live again.

      He was removed from the site after he told followers that he and fellow YouTube star Jack Septic Eye had joined IS.

      Twitter shut down his account, according to their rules on promoting “organizations or individuals associated with promoting hate”.

    • PewDiePie suspended from Twitter after tweeting Islamic State joke

      YouTube star PewDiePie was temporarily booted off Twitter on Tuesday after tweeting a joke about the Islamic State group.

      PewDiePie describes the debacle in a new YouTube video, which has already received over half a million views. The clip sees the internet star criticize the platform and social media in general, claiming (rather eloquently) that it makes people “retarded.”

      According to PewDiePie, the trouble began after he decided to un-verify himself by adding a globe icon next to his name on Twitter, with many of his fans following suit. A parody news account then tweeted an obviously fake story claiming PewDiePie had lost his Twitter verification due to “suspected relations with ISIS.”

    • HostSailor Threatens to Sue KrebsOnSecurity

      Earlier this month, KrebsOnSecurity published The Reincarnation of a Bulletproof Hoster, which examined evidence suggesting that a Web hosting company called HostSailor was created out of the ashes of another, now-defunct hosting firm notorious for harboring spammers, scammers and other online ne’er-do-wells. Today, HostSailor’s lawyers threatened to sue this author unless the story is removed from the Web.

      Obviously, I stand by my reporting and have no intention of unpublishing stories. But I’m writing about HostSailor again here because I promised to post an update if they ever responded to my requests for comment.

      The letter, signed by Abdullah Alzarooni Advocates in Dubai — where HostSailor says it is based — carries the subject line, “Warning from Acts of Extortion and Abuse of the Privacy of Third Parties.” It lists a number of links to content the company apparently finds objectionable.

      Could this same kind of legal pressure be why security industry giant Trend Micro removed all reference to HostSailor from the report that started all this? Trend hasn’t responded to direct questions about that.

    • Muslim Activist Qudosi Banned Permanently From Facebook

      Facebook has intervened in a political dispute between Muslim reformist and activist Shireen Qudosi and Muslim leader Javed Ali by banning Qudosi permanently from Facebook.

      The spat originated after Qudosi stood up for Clarion Project’s National Security Analyst Ryan Mauro, who provided training in San Diego to various police departments last week on what to be aware of when fighting radical Islam.

      Mauro was subjected to a silencing campaign by the Muslim Brotherhood-linked Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR), which attempted to shut down the training sessions by inundating the police with complaints. CAIR was founded by Muslim Brotherhood members and was designated by the FBI as an unindicted co-conspirator in the Holy Land Foundation trial, the largest terrorism financing trial in American history.

    • Mark Zuckerberg visits Pope Francis at home [Ed: censorship of "blasphemy" and any "offensive" political speech (those in power decide what's offensive) the long-term goal]

      Pope Francis met with Facebook Inc. founder and Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg and Zuckerberg’s wife, Priscilla Chan, at the Vatican on Monday.

      One topic of discussion at the meeting was “how to use communication technologies to alleviate poverty, encourage a culture of encounter, and make a message of hope arrive, especially to those most in need,” Vatican spokesman Greg Burke said.

    • Mark Zuckerberg meets Pope Francis, gives him a drone

      On Monday, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla Chan met with Pope Francis, as part of Zuckerberg’s trip of Italy, announced following the devastating earthquake that hit the country last week, killing hundreds. After discussing the importance of connecting people in the world without internet access, Zuckerberg presented the Pope with a drone – but, alas, not a working one. Instead, it was a model of Facebook’s solar-powered Aquila aircraft, designed to beam internet access to those areas of the world that are lacking connectivity.

    • Facebook is telling the world it’s not a media company, but it might be too late

      Mark Zuckerberg really doesn’t want people to think of Facebook as a media company.

      The topic came up as part of his live-streamed Q&A session on Monday, when someone asked the CEO about Facebook’s role in the media and whether the company sees itself as an editor.

    • The Coddling of the American Mind

      In the name of emotional well-being, college students are increasingly demanding protection from words and ideas they don’t like. Here’s why that’s disastrous for education—and mental health.

    • Youtube clarifies it has not changed its policy after vlogger Philip De Franco accuses website of ‘censorship’

      On Wednesday, De Franco, a vlogger with 4.5million subscribers, posted a video titled ‘YouTube Is Shutting Down My Channel and I’m Not Sure What To Do’, which has now been viewed more than 3.6 million times. He told viewers several of his videos had been demonetised meaning Youtube had determined they were not “advertiser friendly” so he could not earn money from the advertising revenue. This video in question does have advertising in.

    • YouTuber PewDiePie ‘stripped of Twitter blue tick over Isis joke’

      Popular YouTuber PewDiePie has claimed Twitter unverified his account after he joked he and fellow YouTuber Jacksepticeye had “joined Isis”.

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Amazon Thinks I’m Some Sort Of Serial Killer In Training

      I used to have a cat named Kyle. He died in 2014. He and his sister, Selina, were the first real pets I ever had. Having lived in apartments with strict “No Pets” policies all my life, I could never enjoy the company of a real pet. I had to settle for lower-tier pets, like fish and turtles — animals that are more like living home accessories than cuddly best friends. It’s like if your ottoman could look at you.

    • The NSA’s stash of digital holes is a threat to everyone online

      Here’s a phrase to conjure with: “zero-day vulnerability”. If you’re a non-techie, it will sound either like a meaningless piece of jargon or it’ll have a vaguely sinister ring to it. “Year Zero” was the name chosen by the Khmer Rouge for 1975, the year they seized power in Cambodia and embarked on their genocidal rule. Behind the term lay the idea that “all culture and traditions within a society must be completely destroyed or discarded and a new revolutionary culture must replace it, starting from scratch”.

    • Are You There, Democracy? It’s Me, the Internet.

      In February, Joseph Gordon-Levitt and his web-based production company, hitRECord, teamed up with the American Civil Liberties Union to create a five-part educational series on the topics of technology and democracy.

      The actor became passionate about issues of mass surveillance and digital privacy while preparing for his role as Edward Snowden in Oliver Stone’s upcoming movie, “Snowden.” Gordon-Levitt asked the public to submit videos to hitRECord answering the question: “Is today’s technology good or bad for democracy?” The goal of the project was not to gather expert opinions or talking points but instead to hear personal stories from people all over the world. Keeping with the style of hitRECord productions, each documentary is edited with music and interactive DIY animations.

    • NSA Designates Forsyth Tech as Training Center for Cybersecurity [Ed: Universities (or colleges as they call them) in the US are in bed with the NSA]
    • EFF to Court: Government Must Inform People That It’s Accessing Their Emails, Personal Data

      The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) told a federal court today that the government is violating the U.S. Constitution when it fails to notify people that it has accessed or examined their private communications stored by Internet providers in the cloud.

      EFF is supporting Microsoft in its lawsuit challenging portions of the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA) that allow the Department of Justice (DOJ) to serve a warrant on the company to get access to customers’ emails and other information stored on remote servers—all without telling users their data is being searched or seized. In a brief filed in Microsoft v. Department of Justice in U.S. District Court in Seattle, EFF, joined by Access Now, New America’s Open Technology Institute, and legal scholar Jennifer Granick, said Fourth Amendment protections against unreasonable searches and seizures by the government apply to all of our information—no matter what the format or where it’s located.

    • How to Change Your WhatsApp Settings Before Facebook Data Sharing Begins

      WhatsApp’s plans to share user information—including phone numbers, contact lists, and usage data—with parent company Facebook threaten users’ privacy and control over their data. We describe details of this data sharing arrangement and the new privacy policy that makes it possible in a previous blog post.

    • What Facebook and WhatsApp’s Data Sharing Plans Really Mean for User Privacy

      WhatsApp is establishing data-sharing practices that signal a significant shift in its attitude toward privacy—though you wouldn’t know it from the privacy policy update that popped up on users’ screens last week. The new policy lays the groundwork for alarming data sharing between WhatsApp and its parent company Facebook. The update screen that users see, however, mentions only benign new features like WhatsApp calling, and requires a user to click a “Read more” link to see any mention of how the data sharing arrangement will work for users. Where WhatsApp could have offered users up-front information and choices, the UI as it stands buries critical details and options. If WhatsApp wants to merge user data with Facebook, it should give users opportunities to make choices about their privacy—starting with a clearer, more informative UI.

    • Using Prisoner Phone Calls to Convict? NY’s Highest Court Puts Critical Question on Hold

      Two years ago, a New York City man named Marcellus Johnson was convicted of robbery — in part as a result of incriminating telephone conversations that had been recorded while he was awaiting trial in a Rikers Island jail cell. Last April, New York’s highest court affirmed the conviction, upholding the use of the recorded conversations.

      However, the justices of the New York Court of Appeals left open a future challenge to the use of such recordings.

      “Our resolution of the narrowly drawn issues presented on this appeal,” the justices wrote, “should not be interpreted as the Court’s approval of these practices.”

      These practices, the court made clear, involve the routine recording of inmate telephone conversations by corrections officials, and the nearly as routine practice of turning those recordings over to prosecutors.

      Justice Eugene F. Pigott, in a concurring opinion, put the court’s concerns plainly.

      “The current arrangement between the Department of Corrections and the district attorney’s office creates a serious potential for abuse,” Pigott wrote, adding, “Something needs to change.”

    • Privacy Act IRR Released – NPC to Educate Public about Privacy

      Civil Society organization, Foundation for Media Alternatives (FMA) was instrumental in organizing Public Consultations for the Implementing Rules, According to FMA Director Alan Alegre; “The FMA is pleased with the spirit of inclusive participation of stakeholders in the development of the DPA’s IRR, Kudos to all stakeholders who participated in the public consultations, submitted comments online and offline, and produced position papers.”

      Personal Information Controllers and other stakeholders participated in five public consultations and several meetings with the NPC. These stakeholders included representatives from banks, retail, education, research, health Informatics, civil society, business process management, the migrant sector and Government organizations. Among the organizations that helped organize public consultations were the Philippine Computer Society, U.P Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research and Development (OVCRD), Department of Health, Philippine Council for Health Research and Development, Ateneo de Davao University, UP-PGH, National Telehealth Center and FMA.

      The NPC will focus on conducting public information campaigns aimed at educating the public and organizations on the importance of data privacy in its first year of operations. According to Privacy Chairman Raymund Liboro, “With the prevalent use of personal data in access devices, social media, smartphone apps as well as the delivery of basic services, it is extremely important that the public and organizations be made aware of the need to
      responsibly handle personal information,” Commissioner Liboro explains.

      Commissioner Liboro emphasized that the DPA and its IRR were developed with the rights of the individual should be given priority. “The rules were made with the citizen’s protection and the country’s progress in mind. Personal data are your personal assets that should be guarded. Collectively, they become a national asset too.” Chairman Liboro added.

    • Companies are making money from our personal data – but at what cost?

      It is the strangely conspiratorial truth of the surveillance society we inhabit that there are unknown entities gathering our data for unknown purposes.

      Companies and governments dip into the data streams of our lives in increasingly innovative ways, tracking what we do, who we know and where we go. The methods and purposes of data collection keep expanding, with seemingly no end or limit in sight.

      These range from irritating infringements, including WhatsApp sharing your name and phone number with Facebook so businesses can advertise to you, or a startup that uses your phone’s battery status as a “fingerprint” to track you online, to major intrusions such as Baltimore police secretly using aerial surveillance systems to continuously watch and record the city. Or like the data brokers that create massive personalized profiles about each of us, which are then sold and used to circumvent consumer protections meant to limit predatory and discriminatory practices.

      These instances of data harvesting are connected by a shared compulsion – a data imperative – that drives many corporations and governments. This imperative demands the extraction of all data, from all sources, in whatever ways possible. It has created an arms race for data, fueling the impulse to create surveillance technologies that infiltrate all aspects of life and society. And the reason for creating these massive reserves of data is the value it can or might generate.

    • Now BBC iPlayer police ‘may spy on your net use’ to punish people who watch on-demand programmes without a TV licence

      The BBC could spy on home internet use to enforce new rules designed to punish those who watch on-demand programmes online without a TV licence, experts have warned.

      The overhaul of the ‘iPlayer loophole’ means that from tomorrow viewers will need to pay the £145.50 licence fee to catch up on programmes using their mobile devices and laptops.

      But fears have been raised that the secretive techniques used by the BBC to police the new system could be a breach of privacy.

    • FBI director James Comey wants a serious chat about encryption

      FBI DIRECTOR James Comey is expecting technology companies to wake up and finally listen to his demand for changes to encryption that would essentially make his job easier and the technology security landscape more baggy.

      Comey is not a fan of technology companies and their habit of making a feature of encryption, and has often suggested that this is one of those situations when less is more.

      Unfortunately for him, the technology firms think otherwise and would rather offer the protection to their customers.

      But Comey has now had enough, and wants to have a proper, he reportedly said “adult”, conversation about the problem.

      Comey said at the 2016 Symantec Government Symposium that the industry is wrong and that encryption is a marketing ploy that values sales over anti-terrorism.

      We don’t know what Symantec was expecting to hear, but if we were betting people we might have put a wager on encryption coming up.

    • Facebook Slapped With FTC Complaint Over WhatsApp Data Grab

      Consumer privacy watchdogs filed a federal complaint Monday against Facebook over the tech titan’s decision to begin harvesting phone numbers from its popular WhatsApp messaging service.

      The complaint, which was expected, was filed with the Federal Trade Commission, and accuses Facebook of violating Section 5 of the Federal Trade Commission Act, which prohibits “unfair or deceptive acts or practices.”

      “When Facebook acquired WhatsApp, WhatsApp made a commitment to its users, to the Federal Trade Commission, and to privacy authorities around the world not to disclose user data to Facebook,” Marc Rotenberg, President of the Electronic Privacy Information Center, said in a statement. “Now they have broken that commitment.”

      Indeed, when Facebook acquired WhatsApp in 2014 for a whopping $19 billion, the two companies insisted that the social networking giant would keep the messaging service at arms-length. At the time, WhatsApp founder Jan Koum assured users that “privacy is coded into our DNA.”

      But last Thursday, WhatsApp announced that it would begin sharing user phone numbers with its parent company Facebook in an effort to improve “ads and products experiences.”

    • Facebook recommended that this psychiatrist’s patients friend each other

      Facebook’s ability to figure out the “people we might know” is sometimes eerie. Many a Facebook user has been creeped out when a one-time Tinder date or an ex-boss from 10 years ago suddenly pops up as a friend recommendation. How does the big blue giant know?

      While some of these incredibly accurate friend suggestions are amusing, others are alarming, such as this story from Lisa*, a psychiatrist who is an infrequent Facebook user, mostly signing in to RSVP for events. Last summer, she noticed that the social network had started recommending her patients as friends—and she had no idea why.

      “I haven’t shared my email or phone contacts with Facebook,” she told me over the phone.

      The next week, things got weirder.

    • Finnish security police: Don’t take your phone abroad with you

      Finland’s security police Supo says that Finns should leave their mobile phones and laptops at home when they travel abroad. If it’s absolutely necessary to take your device when travelling, be sure to keep an eye on it at all times, says Supo.

    • Police Seize Two Perfect Privacy VPN Servers

      VPN provider Perfect Privacy has had two of its servers seized by Dutch police, as part of an active investigation. Police bypassed the VPN service and went directly to the company’s hosting provider, I3D, who complied with a subpoena requesting the hardware. At the time of writing, it remains unclear why the servers in question were taken.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Hidden Clauses Coming To Software Licensing Agreements

      Because they’re so widely ignored, companies have been putting some pretty crazy shit in them for a while now. This is a problem which isn’t going to get better. Using Cracked’s supply of plutonium and this crazy old grandfather clock I found, I cobbled together a crude time machine, and used it to travel into the near future to check out the license agreements, because sure, why not. Here are 14 of the craziest clauses I found.

    • Powder Keg: the Rage in Urban America
    • Couple Brutally Attacked For Ordering Ham On Their Pizza [Ed: Breitbart extremely unreliable on stories, but if this one is true, then, well…]

      Two men who attacked a young couple for eating a pizza topped with ham have been sentenced to 18 months in prison.

    • Refugee Attempts To Burn Wife Alive, Dies In The Process

      A man in a German refugee shelter attempt to set his wife on fire Thursday, police said. The man died apparently in the act of attempting to set his wife ablaze, according to English-language German news outlet the Local.

      The woman, who has not been identified, was left with very serious injuries as a result of the incident. The 45-year-old man was “previously known to police,” according to the Local. The attempted burning occurred in the town of Rüdesheim on Germany’s Rhine river in the centrally located state of Hesse.

      The woman had previously separated from her husband. After the attempted burning, she was rushed to the hospital via helicopter, according to news outlet Agence France-Presse, which put out the original news story about the incident from which the Local based its report. Part of the shelter that houses 14 people was set on fire during the incident and two others were injured.

    • Illegal Koranic school with up to 20 students found CONCEALED inside Paris mosque

      AN UNREGISTERED Koranic school with the potential to indoctrinate children has been found within the walls of Al-Islah mosque – which is known for harbouring Jihadists – during a police raid in Paris yesterday.

    • At nearly 43%, Muslims have highest percentage of illiterates: Census

      Muslims have the highest number of illiterates at nearly 43 per cent, while Jains have the highest number of literates among India’s religious communities as over 86 per cent of them are educated.

      According to the Census 2011 data, Jains have just 13.57 per cent illiterate – aged seven years and above – among all the communities.

      The census has taken those between zero and six years as illiterate.

    • Saudi Arabia sentences a man to 10 years in jail and 2,000 lashes for tweeting that he was an atheist

      A COURT in Saudi Arabia has sentenced a man to ten years in prison and 2,000 lashes for expressing his atheism on Twitter.

      The 28-year-old reportedly refused to repent, insisting what he wrote reflected his beliefs and that he had the right to express them.

    • Child Brides On The Rise In German Capital [Ed: The far right in the US uses Europe concerns to advance its own agenda]

      The trend of underage migrant girls entering Germany married to older men is on the rise, with the city of Berlin recording 100 child marriages this year alone.

      While the majority of underage migrants flowing into Germany are young boys, underage girls tend to come as ‘child brides’ to older migrant men who are more often adults.

    • Reverse assimilation: The Muslim takeover of Europe

      For the last several decades, Europe has been a haven of opportunities for immigrants from a myriad of countries. For various reasons ranging from political to economic to ethnic, people from all over the world have flocked to the continent, slowly changing the demographics of “Old Europe.”

      The reasons various immigrants left their countries were not necessarily the same as the reasons for the hosting countries to accept them. In many cases like France and Germany in the 1950s and following decades, the hosting countries were interested in cheap labor as well as a labor force that would be willing to take on the tasks some of the natives deemed unworthy. I grew up in the 1960s in France where almost all street sweepers and trash collectors were either Arabs or Africans. Immigrants came seeking a better life; they didn’t always find it.

    • Police: Westerly man shot corncobs at neighbor’s house

      A Wompag Road resident was arrested Tuesday night after the police said he fired corncobs at a neighbor’s house with a homemade potato gun.

      The man, Jeffrey M. Osella, 50, of 12 Wompag Road, was taken into custody on charges of disorderly conduct and firing in a compact area, the police reported. He was released on bond and is scheduled for arraignment Friday in 4th Division District Court.

    • LAX ‘shooting’ scare: Man in Zorro costume arrested following false reports of gunshots

      A man dressed as fictional character Zorro has been arrested following false reports of shots being fired at Los Angeles International Airport.

      One bystander claimed the man was a “super nice guy” who had not done anything wrong, but the incident resulted in delays for some passengers, including BBC Match of the Day presenter Gary Lineker whose flight to LA was diverted.

      Video footage showed a man sitting outside the airport wearing black clothing and a black hat, before being surrounded by six police officers ordering him to “get on the ground”.

    • Foreign visitors should not wear skirts or short dresses, says India’s tourism minister

      Foreign women travelling to India should not wear dresses or skirts and should not walk alone at night “for their own safety”, India’s tourism minister has said.

      Speaking to the media in Agra about India’s official safety advice for women, Mahesh Sharma also advised women to take photographs of the number plate of any vehicles they were travelling in.

      His remarks have sparked controversy in India, where several high-profile gang rapes and attacks on women in recent years have focused global attention on the problem within the country.

    • Russian journalist critical of Vladimir Putin found dead on his birthday with gunshot wound to his head

      A well-known Russian journalist and critic of President Vladimir Putin has been found dead in his Kiev apartment with a gunshot wound to the head.

      The body of Alexander Shchetinin, founder the Novy Region (New Region) press agency, was found at his flat after friends tried to visit him on his birthday.

      A police spokesperson said Kiev forces were alerted of Ms Shchetinin’s death at around midnight on Saturday. He is believed to have died a few hours earlier, between 8 and 9.30pm.

    • People in crowds do not spontaneously de-evolve into subhuman beasts

      This episode’s guest, Michael Bond, is the author of The Power of Others, and reading his book I was surprised to learn that despite several decades of research into crowd psychology, the answers to most questions concerning crowds can still be traced back to a book printed in 1895.

      Gustave’s Le Bon’s book, The Crowd: A Study of the Popular Mind, explained that humans in large groups are dangerous, that people spontaneously de-evolve into subhuman beasts who are easily swayed and prone to violence. That viewpoint has informed the policies and tactics of governments and police forces for more than a century, and like many prescientific musings, much of it is wrong.

    • FBI: Detroit suspect fantasized about deadly attacks

      It appears agents have not found evidence indicating that Gregerson was providing material support to a foreign terrorist organization. He has not been charged with a terrorism-related crime, but the investigation is ongoing. And there was no specific planned attack outlined in the court records.

    • Graduate Students, the Laborers of Academia

      Twenty years ago, when I was a senior at Yale, the graduate students embarked on a two-week “grade strike,” during which they refused to hand in the fall grades of the undergraduates they were teaching. Grades were due on January 2, 1996, but the grad students, then as now agitating for union recognition, withheld the grades until two weeks later, when it became clear that they were losing the battle on all fronts. The dean of the graduate school brought three union leaders up on disciplinary charges (one was dismissed, though the other two had their punishments overturned); some faculty members threatened graduate students with reprisals, like poor letters of recommendation; and the Yale undergraduates, for whom a transcript without grades was like a scull without oarsmen, turned viciously on their teaching assistants.

      That spring, a writer for the late, great small magazine Lingua Franca went to Yale and found that even campus liberals hated the grad-student-union movement. “They undertook an obligation and reneged,” the president of the Yale College Democrats told the reporter. “They’re holding the grades hostage of people they have no beef with.” Farther down in the article, the same student was in high snark mode: “It’s hard to tell an undergraduate who’s in debt $27,000 a year that your $10,000 stipend and full-tuition waiver isn’t enough,” he said. “You could argue that there is no one more privileged than the graduate students.”

      That student, poster child for anti-union animus, was me. I quickly came to regret, and eat, my words: two years later, I returned to Yale as a graduate student, and I immediately joined the union (then called the Graduate Employees and Students Organization, or GESO), eventually becoming an organizer in the religious-studies department. I couldn’t argue with the basic logic: doctoral students worked as graders and teaching assistants, and workers should have collective-bargaining rights.

    • No Review Necessary: Stop Using Private Prisons for Immigration Detention

      Jeh Johnson, the secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, has announced that he is setting up a committee to review whether to continue using private prisons for immigration detention. But it doesn’t take a study to figure out that the system Secretary Johnson runs is costly and causes needless human suffering. We should stop filling for-profit prison beds with asylum-seekers, children, and thousands of others who never got a fair day in court.

    • G20 ‘honey trap’ warning: Fears Prime Minister’s officials will be seduced by Chinese spies and have hotel rooms bugged

      Theresa May’s officials have been warned to avoid “honey traps” amid fears that the Prime Minister’s team will be targeted by Chinese spies offering sex during the G20 summit.

      British government aides have fallen victim to spying on previous official trips to China, with one Downing Street official reported to have had his mobile phone and secret documents stolen after he was seduced.

      Government security chiefs are anxious to avoid a repeat of the incident, which took place during a visit by Gordon Brown in 2008, and have provided detailed guidance to Mrs May’s team.

    • The Women Behind the 19th Amendment Had a Grander Vision Than Just the Right to Vote

      Last week we commemorated Women’s Equality Day, a celebration of the anniversary of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Most people remember that the 19th Amendment gave women the right to vote. However, many people forget the Amendment’s original intent: to make women fully equal citizens to men in all respects under the Constitution.

      On August 26, 1920, the United States adopted the 19th Amendment to the Constitution. Throughout the 19th Century, women played a significant role in the abolitionist movement, writing articles for abolitionist papers, circulating pamphlets, and signing petitions to Congress calling for the demise of slavery. While some women became prominent leaders in the abolitionist movement, most still faced discrimination in society and within the movement. This exclusion led to their politicization on the issue of women’s rights. Two of these trailblazing abolitionists were Jeannette Rankin and Crystal Eastman.

      In 1916, Rankin successfully ran for Congress becoming the first woman elected to the House of Representatives. In this position, she introduced a bill to allow women citizenship independent of their husbands and opened congressional debate on women’s right to vote. Crystal Eastman, a lawyer, antimilitarist, and journalist, worked on the 1912 Wisconsin suffrage battle and was one of the four drafters of the original Equal Rights Amendment. These two women championed the women’s suffrage movement, and in August 1920, their efforts culminated in the ratification of the 19th Amendment. Later that same year, Rankin and Eastman help found the American Civil Liberties Union.

      In the decades since, countless other ACLU advocates (including Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the co-founder and first director of the ACLU Women’s Rights Project) have fought to further women’s equality at home, in society, and in the workplace, but that fight is still not won. Even as women have advanced and families have changed, our workplaces have not kept up. On average, women of all races earn 79 cents to every dollar that men earn, while women of color earn even less. Pay inequity not only affects individual paychecks, it compounds over time and compromises the financial stability of future generations.

    • A Moment of Hope

      There is no telling if Karimov is already dead or not, but a massive stroke has with certainty ended his rule. There is much speculation on what happens next. The one thing we can be quite certain will not happen is a free and fair election of a successor.

      The formal process, presided over by the speaker of parliament, is an irrelevance to the power grab that is going on and depends on control of the army, the separate Ministry of the Interior armed forces, the police and the security services. By common consent Rustam Inoyatov is a key kingmaker, and for the last two years Prime Minister Mirzaeyev has been carefully cementing this alliance. Mirzaeyev is probably the most ruthless of all the candidates – he is as cold-blooded a killer as Karimov, and I suspect this quality will bring him through.

      Mirzaeyev comes from the same Samarkand power base as Karimov, but he faces a difficult balancing act in ensuring nobody else has any power to challenge him, while at the same time placating powerful Tashkent and Ferghana interests. If Mirzaeyev can gain the support of the Gafur Rakhimov/Alisher Usmanov mafia nexus he will probably be home and dry. But to emphasise how complex and vicious this will be, when the Alisher Usmanov/Mirzaeyev family relationship was due to be cemented in 2013 by a marriage alliance featuring Usmanov’s nephew and heir Babur Usmanov, the groom was killed in a “car crash” at the behest of Inoyatov. This murder was probably just a friendly reminder that Inoyatov cannot be cut out, and one Mirzaeyev seems to have heeded, but underlines the potential for it all to go violently wrong.

    • The West and Karimov’s Anti-Terrorism Charade

      Hillary Clinton and John Kerry courted Islam Karimov, Uzbekistan’s brutal dictator, every bit as assiduously as George Bush and Donald Rumsfeld.

      The west is interested in gas, gold and uranium, but is still more entranced by the allure of the false gold of Uzbekistan’s “successful” anti-terrorism strategy. Karimov was courted as the strong man who held Central Asia against Islamic fundamentalism. His methods – imprisoning, torturing and killing anybody who appeared religious – were viewed as admirable. That all reputable sources acknowledge that 10,000 people are imprisoned solely for their political and religious beliefs did not matter. That young men can be imprisoned or “disappeared” solely for growing a beard, or for praying five times a day, was viewed as “effective”.

    • Labor Day Special: Workers and Corporate Media

      This week on CounterSpin: a special episode in celebration of Labor Day. It’s presented by corporate media as most importantly a long weekend, with a parade—or, more seriously, as a holiday fought for by US trade unions to honor American workers. But the holiday has more complex origins.

      A national holiday had been a goal of US labor—several states already celebrated—but Grover Cleveland declared Labor Day in the midst of an attack by federal troops on striking Pullman railway workers, leading many to see it as more an attempt to appease workers than to honor them.

      It’s fitting that the holiday remind us of the struggles as well as the advances of US workers, who face today some of the same problems as workers in 1894—including distant and disconnected owners, whose self-enriching, anti-worker policies are enabled and, if need be, enforced by government.

    • Predictive Policing Software Is More Accurate at Predicting Policing Than Predicting Crime

      “Predictive policing” has an enticing ring to it. The idea is that you feed a bunch of data into a mysterious algorithm, and poof, out comes intelligence about the future that tells police where the next crime is going to occur, or even who is going to commit it. What’s not to get excited about?

      Unfortunately, many predictions made by policing software don’t come true. This is because predictive tools are only as good as the data they are fed. Put another way: garbage in, garbage out.

      Data collected by police is notoriously bad (we don’t even know how many people police kill every year), easily manipulated, glaringly incomplete, and too often undermined by racial bias. When you feed a predictive tool contaminated data, it will produce polluted predictions. In fact, it appears predictive policing software is more accurate at predicting policing than predicting crime. Rather than informing us where criminals will be and when they will commit crimes, these algorithms more reliably predict where the police will deploy.

    • Discrimination by Design

      A few weeks ago, Snapchat released a new photo filter. It appeared alongside many of the other such face-altering filters that have become a signature of the service. But instead of surrounding your face with flower petals or giving you the nose and ears of a Dalmatian, the filter added slanted eyes, puffed cheeks and large front teeth. A number of Snapchat users decried the filter as racist, saying it mimicked a “yellowface” caricature of Asians. The company countered that they meant to represent anime characters and deleted the filter within a few hours.

      “Snapchat is the prime example of what happens when you don’t have enough people of color building a product,” wrote Bay Area software engineer Katie Zhu in an essay she wrote about deleting the app and leaving the service. In a tech world that hires mostly white men, the absence of diverse voices means that companies can be blind to design decisions that are hurtful to their customers or discriminatory.

      A Snapchat spokesperson told ProPublica that the company has recently hired someone to lead their diversity recruiting efforts.

    • Black Activists in Missouri Are Fighting to Preserve the Right to Vote

      Before she died six years ago, Rev. Cassandra Gould’s mother used to say that “everybody marched with Dr. King” but that she had been in Selma, Alabama, “before Dr. King got there.” As a 19-year-old from a nearby town, she would ask an older cousin to drive her to the city, where she registered voters, joined sit-ins, and marched. For the rest of her life, she carried a gash on her thigh, a reminder of the police officer who shot her on March 7, 1965, “Bloody Sunday,” the day that perhaps more than any other precipitated the passage of that year’s Voting Rights Act.

      Gould and her siblings grew up faithful to their mother’s directive — “If you don’t do anything else, you vote” — but never experienced firsthand the ferocious racism of those days. Gould moved to St. Louis, Missouri — “Mississippi North,” as she only half-jokingly calls it — and became a reverend and activist. She quickly learned the subtle and insidious ways in which racism had survived and adapted in the aftermath of the civil rights era, but like many of her generation she remained relatively sheltered from racial violence.

    • Racial Disparities in Policing Are Real And Rising. New Hampshire Needs Criminal Justice Reform at All Levels.

      New Hampshire is often viewed, including by those who live here, as a white, homogenous state. But this is no longer true. New Hampshire’s demographics, like those of much of the country, are rapidly changing and becoming more diverse.

      For example, in Manchester and Nashua — New Hampshire’s two largest cities — the white population in each has gone from around 98 percent in 1980 to 86 percent and 83 percent, respectively, in 2010. With these pronounced changes have come racial disparities in policing that have been endemic for decades elsewhere in the country.

    • Former Anti-Terror FBI Employee Now Finds Himself a Target

      As an FBI surveillance employee, Ray Tahir spent the last decade tailing Muslims in counterterrorism cases.

      Among the investigations whose surveillance Tahir led were those of the charity Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development in Texas and North Carolina’s Daniel Patrick Boyd, who with others was convicted of conspiracy to provide material support to terrorists and conspiracy to commit murder, maiming, and kidnapping overseas.

      Both FBI cases had their critics. The American Civil Liberties Union described the prosecution of Holy Land Foundation as “discriminatory enforcement of counterterrorism laws.” In the Boyd case, as in other informant-led FBI stings, there are questions about whether the men convicted would have done anything at all were it not for the FBI’s involvement.

      As the FBI targeted Muslims in the United States following the 9/11 attacks, Tahir was among the front-line employees who made some of these cases possible.

      Now, he alleges, he has become a target himself.

      On May 11, 2012, Tahir was at FBI headquarters in Washington, D.C., fighting to keep his $78,000-per-year job. A 26-year FBI veteran, Tahir was a member of the Mobile Surveillance Team, a special unit that monitors suspects of espionage and terrorism.

      Tahir, who had been called for a hearing at the FBI’s Office of Professional Responsibility, was accused of making personal charges on his covert credit card, unauthorized gasoline purchases, and lack of candor. He had been placed on suspension pending the hearing.

      The FBI employee had admitted to his supervisors that he made more than 200 personal charges during a four-year period, many of them for groceries at stores like Harris Teeter and Food Lion. He ran up a balance of $10,000, which he’d begun to pay back by the time he was called to headquarters; he blamed the charges on personal financial troubles.

      But Tahir denied the unauthorized gasoline purchases and maintained that he had been candid while he was under investigation, though he did admit that he changed the address where the card’s statements were to be sent in order to hide his personal spending from supervisors. Nevertheless, Tahir thought that if he admitted to the credit card purchases, explained the circumstances, and apologized, he’d walk away with a suspension. He knew other FBI employees had received reprimands or suspensions for similar transgressions.

    • Milwaukee Police Forcibly Arrested Two Men Last Night for Doing Nothing Wrong. They Got a Surprise When One Was A State Rep and the Other Was From the ACLU.

      Last night in the Sherman Park area, Milwaukee police officers in riot gear wrongfully arrested two men for no good reason. But this time, the men they arrested had the means to demand their rights and were released. The men were Jarrett English, an organizer at the ACLU of Wisconsin, and State Representative Jonathan Brostoff.

      At about 9:30 p.m., a handful of people, including Mr. English and Rep. Brostoff, stood on the northeast corner of Sherman Boulevard and Auer Avenue, observing a large contingent of police officers who had blocked off Auer on the west side of Sherman. The street has been the gathering place for community members since the fatal police shooting of Sylville Smith on August 13.

      Numerous officers then forcibly arrested Mr. English as he was walking away as instructed. He was handcuffed, forced to the ground, involuntarily searched, and placed in a police van with Rep. Brostoff. After officials became aware that they had arrested a state legislator, the two were released without charges.


      The Milwaukee Police Department has once again demonstrated its preference for occupation, excessive force, and belligerence over genuine engagement, civil dialog, and de-escalation. People have a right to stand on a street corner – to observe and record the police, as Jarrett was doing, or for any other reason. Unfortunately, rather than protecting people and their rights, law enforcement in this community all too often engages in the sort of destructive behavior to which Jarrett and Jonathan were subjected to last night.

    • Maine Gov. Paul LePage is Donald Trump’s Noxious Canary

      You’ve heard of the canary used in coal mines to warn of impending hazards to the miners. The canaries were smaller and breathed faster so carbon monoxide and other toxic gases affected them more quickly than the humans and donkeys used to mine coal. Introduced to underground coal mining in the early 20th century, these birds were charged with alerting the miners in time for them to correct the problem or just get the hell out.

      The canaries were only one kind of many sentinel species humans have used over the years to warn of various quagmires and dangers in their surroundings. The Japanese even used cats to indicate the presence of poisoned fish. Perhaps that’s a more apt analogy for Donald Trump’s presidential race and potential tenure in the oval office.

      Anyway, Governor Paul LePage of Maine is now stationed in the coal shaft of U.S. politics. They don’t call Maine, and her neighboring New England states, the tailpipe of the country for nothing. And there, breathing the exhaust from low wage earners, sits Gov. Lepage blazing an ugly trail through white mainstream America indicating just how safe it is for Donald Trump to mine the anger and resentment buried in the American psyche.

    • Gov. LePage, Show Us The Binder

      We’re disappointed that the governor’s office is delaying the release of these records. Our request was narrowly tailored and should be simple to fulfill. Further, the records in question pertain to matters of utmost importance to the Maine people, and their release is essential to a fully informed public discussion.

      Without the binder, we can’t know exactly what information the governor is relying on to support his claim. But we do know there are at least two major problems with it.

      First, it’s beyond belief that nine out of 10 people selling drugs in Maine are Black. So if nine out of 10 people being arrested for selling drugs are Black, we have a serious problem. Studies show that Black people and white people use and sell drugs at similar rates. Significant disparities in arrests, such as the nine-to-one disparity suggested by Gov. LePage, can almost surely be attributed to racial profiling and selective enforcement by police officers.

    • Georgetown’s Gesture on Slavery’s Evils

      After decades of delays and denials, Jesuit-led Georgetown University finally confessed to a near-two-century-old abuse of African-American slaves, writes ex-CIA analyst Ray McGovern.

    • Colin Kaepernick Pledges $1 Million to Social Justice Groups as More Players Sit

      San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s protest is growing, and with it, his mission.

      When Kaepernick kneeled during the national anthem ahead of the 49ers’ Thursday night preseason finale against the San Diego Chargers, he was joined by his teammate Eric Reid—while further up the coast, Seattle Seahawks cornerback Jeremy Lane also sat down in solidarity as the anthem played ahead of a game against the Oakland Raiders.

      “I believe in what [Kaepernick] is doing,” Reid told ESPN. “I believe that there are issues in this country—many issues, too many to name. It’s not one particular issue. But there are people out there that feel there are injustices being made and happening in our country on a daily basis. I just wanted to show him I support him. I know there are other people in this country that feel the same way.”

    • #VeteransForKaepernick Stand Up for His Right to Sit Down

      My colleague Jon Schwarz startled many Americans by pointing out that our national anthem “literally celebrates the murder of African-Americans” in a rarely sung or talked about third verse about slaughtering escaped slaves who chose to fight for their freedom, and against the United States, in the War of 1812.

      The San Francisco 49ers quarterback, however, told reporters on Tuesday that he was aware of those lyrics before he began his protest by refusing to stand for the anthem before exhibition games.

      In the heated environment of the election campaign, it is also notable that Kaepernick explained that his attempt to draw attention to racial injustice — which was criticized by Donald Trump — is not something he expects to be resolved by the victory of either candidate.

    • Hillary Clinton’s ‘Exceptionalist’ Warpath

      Democrats and Hillary Clinton are delighting in attacking Donald Trump from the right, employing McCarthyistic tactics and embracing the imperialist notion of “American exceptionalism,” says Daniel Lazare.

    • The Scuffle over ‘American Exceptionalism’

      Hillary Clinton gave a speech this week in which American exceptionalism was a major theme. She obviously chose that theme partly because it would appeal to her specific audience (an American Legion convention) and partly because it would enable her to criticize Donald Trump, who has said he doesn’t like the term “American exceptionalism” because people in other countries don’t like to hear it and feel insulted by it.

      Trump is right about that, although in many other respects he shows he doesn’t have qualms about insulting people in other countries, including Mexico, the country he briefly visited on Wednesday and has described as a nation of rapists and drug dealers.

    • California Isn’t Sure How to Fix Sexual Assault Problem Without Adding to Mass Incarceration

      Gov. Jerry Brown has not said whether he will sign the legislation, but it contradicts one of his own ballot measures. Proposition 57 seeks to allow those convicted of a nonviolent felony to be eligible for parole after serving the primary sentence for their primary offense, excluding any enhancements or consecutive sentencing. The proposition is a turnaround for Brown, who signed a bill mandating prison time for serious crimes when he first became governor in 1977.

      “One of the key unintended consequences was the removal of incentives for inmates to improve themselves, to refrain from gang activity, using narcotics, otherwise misbehaving,” he said, discussing Proposition 57. “Nothing that would give them the reward of turning their life around.”

      Under California law, sexual assault of an unconscious or severely intoxicated person is considered a nonviolent felony, but Turner’s sentencing sparked allegations that the judge was influenced by race and class bias. The judge, Aaron Persky, said “a prison sentence would have a severe impact” on Turner. Persky has since given up proceeding over criminal cases.

    • Media Continues to Refer to Brock Turner as a “Stanford Swimmer” Rather Than a Rapist
    • Overturning Feticide Conviction, Judge Orders Purvi Patel Immediately Freed

      A superior court judge in Indiana on Wednesday ordered the immediate release of Purvi Patel, the Indiana woman who was convicted of “feticide” and sentenced to 20 years in prison in 2015 for losing her pregnancy, after resentencing Patel to less time than she has already served.

      After Patel appealed the original sentence, her feticide conviction was vacated by an appeals court in July. She was still found guilty of a class D felony charge of child neglect.

    • Defending the indefensible: France, the burkini affair and the further mainstreaming of racism

      On September 3, 2016, President Rodrigo Duterte declared a “state of lawless violence” in the Philippines following an explosion in Davao Night Market in Davao City that claimed the lives of 14 people and left more than 60 others injured.

      In a statement, his declaration is different from Martial Law as there will be no curfews and no suspension of the Writ of Habeas Corpus. The state of lawless violence also applies to the whole country, not just in Davao City.

      In contrary, iDEFEND, a grassroots movement that defends the rights and upholds the dignity of all Filipinos, released a statement to question and seek clarity over the President’s declaration of state of lawless violence.


      We strongly disapprove that the issues of terrorism, drugs and extrajudicial killings are being conflated when these are distinct issues requiring different approaches. Moreover, mobilizing the Armed Forces of the Philippines to become direct participants in the issue of drugs, will further escalate rights violations of various kinds. Instead of abating the Extrajudicial Killings, this will even increase its uptake. There have already been too many deaths – including those of very young children- since the President’s assumption into office.

      We know, being a grassroots movement, that nationwide conditions is far from the threshold of “lawless violence” as stipulated in section 18 of ARTICLE VII of the Philippine Constitution. For this reason we question the nationwide mobilization of the military. There is no widespread absence and breakdown of law, peace, conditions of disorder and chaos, despite a bombing event in one city. What warrants a nationwide red alert now when in previous years, a spate of bombings in Davao merited only a state of emergency in the city? What is clear, however, is that the state’s widespread and hard-lined approach on drugs, including the state-sanctioned and unaddressed killings, has compromised the safety of the public.

    • Nicola the Haverer

      Replacing Alex with Nicola set back the cause of Scottish Independence. It was a great success for the SNP as an institution, but it is now abundantly clear that the institutional health of the SNP and the cause of Independence are two quite separate things.

      I have posted at intervals this last two years that I have heard nobody from the SNP argue the case for Independence since Indyref1. I still have heard nobody from the SNP argue the positive case for Independence since Indyref1. To the extent that when the tendentious GERS report came out and was splashed all over mainstream media, nobody from the SNP explained why the finances of an independent Scotland would work. (To give just one example Scottish taxes contribute £2.2 billion to housing benefit of which only a quarter of Scotland’s contribution is spent in Scotland).

      Unionist propaganda is still streamed out of the mainstream media every day. If nobody counters with the case for Independence, support for Independence will never increase. The latest YouGov poll putting us back at 46% is probably accurate. The idea that you wait until support has – by magic – increased to a regular 60% before you start campaigning is self-evidently delusional.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • Iran’s national internet network starts today

      The project will be inaugurated in the Communications and Information Technology Ministry.

      A national internet network is an organization under the umbrella of a Regional Internet Registry with the task of coordinating IP address allocations and other Internet resource management functions at a national level within a country or economic unit.

      As adopted by the Supreme Council of Cyberspace Iran’s national internet network will operate domestically and independently from all other networks in the world (internet). It is protected from all other networks globally with the ability to interact with them should the permission is granted.

    • Putin Is Building a Great Russian Firewall

      Denis Davydov, executive director of the Safe Internet League, a nongovernmental organization closely linked to the Kremlin, is happy with what the Duma did this summer. Davydov says a piece of legislation signed into law on July 7 by President Vladimir Putin will protect the nation from terrorists. The law requires internet service providers such as MTS, a cell phone operator, and search engine Yandex to store all Russian traffic, including all private chat rooms, e-mails, and social network posts, for as long as six months at their own expense as of July 1, 2018. The providers, which include global giants such as Facebook’s WhatsApp, must also surrender encryption keys to Russian security services. The backers of the measure argue that by giving the Kremlin total access to internet traffic, the guardians of public safety will never be taken unawares.

      The law is one of about a dozen enacted over the last four years to police Russia’s cyberspace and cordon it off from the global net. One piece of legislation allows the state to block sites without seeking a court’s approval. Hundreds have been blocked already. Thanks to such measures, Davydov says, “we can be sure that here in Moscow no one will take a truck and ram it into a crowd of people or take an ax and start hacking people on a suburban train.”

    • FCC Won’t Appeal Municipal Broadband Defeat to Supreme Court

      The Federal Communications Commission will not appeal a recent court decision that kneecapped the agency’s power to promote municipal broadband development nationwide, a FCC spokesperson told Motherboard on Monday.

      In 2014, the FCC asserted the power to preempt state laws that pose barriers to municipal broadband, but earlier this month, the US Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit struck down the agency’s authority to do so, in a stinging defeat for community broadband advocates.

      “The FCC will not seek further review of the Sixth Circuit’s decision on municipal broadband after determining that doing so would not be the best use of Commission resources,” agency spokesperson Mark Wigfield said.

    • Should You Reset Your CSS?

      In a blog post titled No CSS Reset, developer and book author Jonathan Snook said that he’s “okay if the various browsers show things slightly differently.” He likes his “lists to have bullets and strong elements to have bolded text.”

      Web standards and accessibility advocate, Tommy Olsson, professes that he’s not “a big fan of CSS resets” in an interview via email in late 2010. He said people that use CSS resets are “stuck in a print design mindset,” and are continuing to believe in the myth of “Pixel Perfection”. He finds CSS reset stylesheets inefficient, because you “provide a lot of rules that you know you’re going to override later.”

    • An Internet Giveaway to the U.N.

      When the Obama administration announced its plan to give up U.S. protection of the internet, it promised the United Nations would never take control. But because of the administration’s naiveté or arrogance, U.N. control is the likely result if the U.S. gives up internet stewardship as planned at midnight on Sept. 30.

    • Open Internet Advocates Claim Victory in Europe Net Neutrality Fight

      Open internet advocates celebrated on Tuesday after Europe’s top telecom authority issued stronger-than-expected guidelines protecting net neutrality, the principle that all content on the internet should be equally accessible to consumers.

      The new guidelines, which were announced by the Body of European Regulators of Electronic Communication (BEREC), are designed to ensure that European consumers have unfettered access to the global internet, and the freedom to choose what kind of digital devices they use to communicate online.

      The guidelines, which provide a roadmap to help the various EU national regulators implement the recently-passed Telecoms Single Market Regulation, the continent’s new telecom law, represent a significant victory for net neutrality advocates in the multi-year battle between public interest groups and European telecom giants over how best to ensure that the internet remains an open platform for free speech and innovation.

      “Based on a preliminary reading of the text, this is a triumph for the European digital rights movement,” Thomas Lohninger, a leading net neutrality activist who helped spearhead the SaveTheInternet.eu campaign, said in a statement. “After a very long battle, and with the support of half a million people, the principles that make the internet an open platform for change, freedom and prosperity are upheld in the EU.”

    • BEREC launches Net Neutrality Guidelines

      The Body of European Regulators for Electronic Communications (BEREC) has today published its Guidelines to National Regulatory Authorities (NRAs) on the implementation of the new net neutrality. BEREC’s mandate to produce the Guidelines stems from the Telecoms Single Market Regulation on open internet access.

      The Guidelines provide guidance for NRAs to take into account when implementing the rules and assessing specific cases. After meetings with European-level stakeholders in December 2015 and a workshop with high-level academic, legal and technical experts in February 2016, BEREC launched a six-week public consultation on the draft Guidelines, closing at 14:00 CET on 18 July. The number of 481,547 contributions received before the deadline was unprecedented for a BEREC consultation, and coming from diverse categories of respondents: civil society, public institutions and independent experts, ISPs, content and application providers and other industry stakeholders. The BEREC Office has processed the contributions received, and BEREC has conducted a thorough evaluation of the contributions, updating about a quarter of the paragraphs in the final Guidelines.

    • Europe’s net neutrality guidelines seen as a victory for the open web

      Europe’s telecommunications regulator has published final guidelines on how the EU will implement net neutrality rules that were adopted last year, in what digital rights groups are hailing as a victory for the free and open internet. The guidelines, published Tuesday, clarify vaguely worded provisions that experts say could have been exploited by telecoms to favor certain internet services over others.

      The net neutrality rules adopted by the European Parliament last year aimed to strengthen net neutrality by requiring internet service providers (ISPs) to treat all web traffic equally, without favoring some services over others. But the regulations contained several loopholes that raised concerns among net neutrality advocates, including a provision that would have allowed ISPs to create “fast lanes” for “specialized services,” and another that would have allowed for zero-rating, under which certain services and apps would be exempt from counting against monthly data limits. A “traffic management” provision would have allowed telecoms to prioritize internet traffic from some services over others.

    • Europe’s Net Neutrality Doesn’t Ban BitTorrent Throttling

      Today, the Body of European Regulators of Electronic Communication (BEREC) published its implementation guidelines for Europe’s net neutrality rules. While public protests resulted in several positive changes from a net neutrality perspective, BitTorrent throttling is still allowed.

    • Network-Wide Ad-Blocking in the EU ?

      Net neutrality is a hot topic, apparently.

      When BEREC, the Body of European Regulators for Electronic Communications, launched a six week public consultation on the issue this June, they sure as heck didn’t expect 481,547 responses. Somewhat miraculously, they managed to sift, analyze and classify through all of them in another 6 weeks. That’s 16,051 requests, and a couple of paragraphs, for the mathematically challenged amongst you, per day. Which makes for a first observation: European holidays aren’t what they’re presumed to be, anymore.

    • Court Sides With Time Warner Cable Over Cable Box Rentals

      While the FCC and cable companies battle over what kind of standard will replace the cable box rental model, some related news broke on Friday: The 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals affirmeda lower court’s ruling throwing out an antitrust case against Time Warner Cable (or TWC, now part of Charter) over its set top box rental procedures.

      The original complaint, filed in 2008 in federal court in Kansas, argued that TWC violated the Sherman Act by “requiring purchasers who bought a package of television channels to lease from Time Warner cable boxes necessary to transmit that programming.” The plaintiffs had to plausibly show that the sale of the cable service is conditioned on the box rental, that TWC “uses actual coercion to force buyers to” rent the boxes, that TWC “has sufficient economic power” in the cable market to coerce customers into renting the boxers, that “the tie‐in has anticompetitive effects in the tied market,” and that “a not insubstantial amount of interstate commerce is involved in the tied market. “

      In a two to one decision, the judges writing the majority opinion, Ralph Winter and Denny Chen, noted that, for example, “Notably lacking is any allegation that there has ever been separate sales of cable boxes and cable services in the United States, even in markets where cable providers are in competition with each other or with fiber optic cable services that employ different technology.” Even if the plaintiffs did not allege this, for-sale boxes have existed in the United States, even if you have to go back a long time.

  • DRM/Streaming

    • Researchers Map Locations of 4,669 Servers in Netflix’s Content Delivery Network

      When you open Netflix and hit “play,” your computer sends a request to the video-streaming service to locate the movie you’d like to watch. The company responds with the name and location of the specific server that your device must access in order for you to view the film.

    • YouTube disappearing from 50 Sony Bravia sets highlights why smart TVs suck

      If ever there was a cautionary tale about why it’s a bad idea to buy Smart TVs, this is it. Sony recently announced on its UK support site that 50 different 2012 Bravia TV models will lose their YouTube app on September 30, as first reported by 9 to 5 Google.

      The reason for this loss is due to hardware limitations of the models following a change to YouTube’s specifications. Google announced in August that YouTube would be moving all its traffic to HTTPS. The company warned that over time it would phase out insecure connections, which means some devices would lose access to YouTube.

      Samsung users of the affected Bravia TVs recently started complaining of freezing issues, black screens, and error messages when using YouTube. It appears YouTube’s HTTPS switch may be the cause of these issues—though Sony has not confirmed this.

      You can find a complete list of Bravia models affected by this change on Sony’s support site, which includes TV sets ranging in sizes from 20 to 89 inches.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Committee Recommends ‘High Priority’ Changes To WIPO Oversight Charter [Ed: a body in crisis]

      The World Intellectual Property Organization Program and Budget Committee (PBC) this week agreed to recommend changes to the UN agency’s Internal Oversight Charter as a high priority by next month, including to strengthen investigatory processes against senior officials, and access to confidential documents by member states. In a separate issue, after days of intensive talks behind closed doors, the committee could not agree on which countries will get new WIPO external offices.

    • Committee Agrees WIPO Strategic Plan: Possible Rethink For Norm-Setting [Ed: paywall]
    • US Industry Warns Of Restrictive Policies In ICTs, Including On IP Rights [Ed: The CoC wants more and more power for corporations, using ‘IP’ as a tool]

      The report further provides a series of recommendations to governments to balance their national security and economic interests and to allow for the free flow of ICT products, services and data. One recommendation calls for security measures to be consistent with the most-favoured nation and national treatment principles as set out in WTO agreements. Any deviations should be proportional and clearly fall under a specific national security exemption, it said.

    • Trademarks

      • My My Mylan: The Trademark Silver Lining for Mylan’s EPIPEN

        Mylan Pharmaceuticals received a huge amount of press in the United States recently. Why so much (negative) attention? Mylan is under heavy criticism for raising the price of its popular and very useful–even life saving–EPIPEN. Not only are U.S. Senators upset, but the media and public are outraged by Mylan’s pricing. Is all of this publicity good or bad for Mylan? From a trademark perspective, it appears it is both.

    • Copyrights

      • Publishers Fail to Block Russia’s Top Search Engine Over Pirate Links

        After Russia’s leading search engine Yandex failed to remove links to pirate books from its search results, publisher Eksmo filed a complaint with the Moscow Court. Technically, Yandex could’ve found itself blocked nationwide for copyright non-compliance but in the end, cooler heads prevailed.

      • Top Torrent Sites See Traffic Surge After ‘Shutdowns’

        The past month has been a turbulent one for the torrent community. With the closure of KickassTorrents and Torrentz.eu, two of the largest players were gone without prior notice. Today we take a look at the aftermath, showing that the big sites have expanded their userbases but that some smaller torrent sites are actually worse off now.

      • Latest Leak Confirms European Copyright Plans Offer Little for Users

        In our previous piece about a leaked European impact assessment on copyright, we described how the foreshadowed changes to European copyright law would place onerous new responsibilities on Internet platforms to scan your uploaded content on behalf of large entertainment companies. We also described how the changes would give news publishers a new, copyright-like veto power over the publications of snippets of text from news stories, even if these are merely by way of linking to the publisher’s website.

      • It could not be worse: Draft proposal for the copyright directive leaked

        We have just received the draft proposal of the European Commission for a new copyright directive. It shall complement – i.e. in general not amend – other directives inter alia the InfoSoc directive from 2001. As it had to be expected from the Impact Assessment that was leaked last week, the draft reads like an answer to the wish list of the publishing industry. Here comes a first assessment.

      • The next fight between Megaupload and the US will be livestreamed
      • Kim Dotcom Can Livestream Legal Fight Against the U.S.: Judge
      • Kim Dotcom’s Extradition Hearing Will Be Live Streamed on YouTube
      • Kim Dotcom’s extradition hearing live stream makes legal history but no drama

        The live streaming of Kim Dotcom’s extradition hearing in a New Zealand high court kicked off on Wednesday with warped pictures, delayed audio and dwindling viewership as the day wore on.

        Megaupload founder Dotcom is fighting an extradition order to the United States, where he is wanted on online piracy charges.

        On Tuesday, his lawyers were granted permission to live stream the court proceedings on YouTube, on the condition that it would be deleted at the conclusion of the case (estimated to be in six to eight weeks’ time) and that the video would air after a 20-minute delay in case any evidence was suppressed. Comments on the live stream have also been disabled.

      • Kim Dotcom wins right to live stream extradition court hearing

        Internet entrepreneur Kim Dotcom has been granted his wish to live stream his bid to avoid extradition to the United States, where he is wanted on online piracy charges.

        Attempts by the US to block the live streaming request were rejected by Judge Murray Gilbert in the Auckland high court on Tuesday.

      • Kim Dotcom’s Extradition Appeal Gets Underway

        Last year a District Court judge in New Zealand found that there was an “overwhelming” case for Kim Dotcom, Mathias Ortmann and Bram van der Kolk, to be extradited to the United States to face trial for their alleged roles in the Mega Conspiracy. Today the trio were in the High Court to mount their appeal.

      • Kim Dotcom wants his extradition appeal live-streamed on YouTube

        Kim Dotcom wants the world to be able to watch his extradition appeal on YouTube and it appears as if he’ll get his wish.

        The Internet entrepreneur’s appeal hearing began Monday and, while the judge overseeing his case was frustrated by Dotcom’s late request for the event to be livestreamed, he granted Dotcom’s request.

      • Music Group Protests ISPs Move for a Declaratory Ruling on Piracy Liability

        Music rights group BMG says that Internet providers RCN and Windstream should not be allowed to obtain a declaratory judgment on their potential liability for pirating subscribers. According to BMG, the providers are improperly trying immunize themselves, hiding behind the DMCA’s safe harbor.

      • New BBC iPlayer Rules Easily Defeated, Especially via VPN

        A change in the law means that from today, all UK viewers of BBC iPlayer need to pay a £145.50 license fee, regardless of which services they use. The UK’s TV licensing body says it will crack down on those using iPlayer without a license but in reality that will be an extremely difficult task. For those using a VPN, being detected will be all but impossible.

      • Attention Swedish Pirate Bay Users, Copyright Trolls Have Arrived

        After years of being left alone by entertainment industry companies, regular file-sharers in Sweden are now in the cross-hairs of copyright trolls. Using data gathered by anti-piracy outfit Excipio, lawyers are about to send users of The Pirate Bay and similar sites demands for hard cash – or else.

      • Industry Proposals Contrary To Spirit Of Marrakesh Treaty, Libraries Say

        An international group of librarians has warned that rights holder organisations in some countries are promoting provisions that restrict and impede the access envisaged by the Marrakesh Treaty providing exceptions to copyrighted works for visually impaired persons.

        The Marrakesh Treaty to Facilitate Access to Published Works by Visually Impaired Persons and Person with Print Disabilities, adopted in 2013 introduced limitations and exceptions to copyright rules to promote access to knowledge to benefit of blind and visually impaired persons. The treaty is entering into force this year.

        Now, however, the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA), says provisions are being pushed at the national level that undermine the treaty. The library federation in a statement expressed concern that the principle objectives of the Marrakesh Treaty are being impeded by measures promoted by rights holder organisations.

      • Here’s text of draft Communication on promoting a fair and efficient European copyright-based economy

        After the leaked draft version of the Commission Staff Working Document – Impact Assessment on the modernisation of EU copyright rules and yesterday’s Kat-exclusive draft version of the forthcoming Directive on copyright in the Digital Single Market, today – thanks to another Katfriend – is the turn of the draft Communication from the Commission on Promoting a fair and efficient European copyright-based economy in the Digital Single Market.

      • US Gov’t Takes On Predatory Publishers

        The Federal Trade Commission has filed a legal complaint against the OMICS Group for allegedly engaging in deceptive practices.

      • Professor Eric Goldman Stops Writing At Forbes, In Part Because Of Its Stance On Ad Blocking

        We’ve discussed Forbes’ anti-ad blocker policies, even wondering if we should stop linking to Forbes articles. I know that, for a while, Forbes was misidentifying me as using an ad blocker and not letting me access stories on the site. I can say that, more than once, I wasn’t able to read some of Goldman’s posts, that we might have written about, because of those blocks.

        Most of our focus was on how this impacted readers and also folks like us who might send Forbes traffic — but it’s worth also thinking about how it impacts writers as well, and taking away their audience, or otherwise upsetting them. We’ve seen in the past some writers leave publications that had put up paywalls, and now the same impact may be happening for those that block ad blockers as well.

RSS 64x64RSS Feed: subscribe to the RSS feed for regular updates

Home iconSite Wiki: You can improve this site by helping the extension of the site's content

Home iconSite Home: Background about the site and some key features in the front page

Chat iconIRC Channels: Come and chat with us in real time

New to This Site? Here Are Some Introductory Resources




Samba logo

We support

End software patents


GNU project


EFF bloggers

Comcast is Blocktastic? SavetheInternet.com

Recent Posts