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The US Supreme Court Cemented the End of Software Patents by Rejecting Them and Refusing to Revisit the Subject After Alice

Posted in America, Courtroom, Patents at 11:31 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Turning a blind eye to the highest court in the United States is unwise

Blind leading the blind
Blind leading the blind

Summary: An update regarding the sordid state of patents on software in the US, where one has to rely on examiners and/or judges ignoring the US Supreme Court in order to have these granted/upheld

Software patents have always been the primary topic here. Longtime readers can attest to that. Thankfully, after Alice (2014), no imminent resurgence of software patents is expected, at least not in the near future. Several months ago when it was predicted that the SCOTUS (US Supreme Court) would deal with low-quality design patents of Apple we noted that no SCOTUS case was bound to reconsider the patentability of software. There wasn’t even another Bilski in the pipeline.

“Thankfully, after Alice (2014), no imminent resurgence of software patents is expected, at least not in the near future.”According to this new SCOTUS preview from Patently-O, only design patents would be questioned. Nothing would change when it comes to software patents, at least not at SCOTUS. To quote Patently-O: “When the Supreme Court’s October 2016 Term begins in a few weeks, its first patent hearing will be the design patent damages case of Samsung v. Apple. In Samsung, the Court asks: Where a design patent is applied to only a component of a product, should an award of infringer’s profits be limited to those profits attributable to the component? The statute at issue – 35 U.S.C. § 289 – indicates that, someone who (without license) “applies” the patented design (or colorable imitation thereof) to an article of manufacture, “shall be liable to the owner to the extent of his total profit.” Up to now, courts have repeatedly held that the “profits” are profits associated with the product (i.e., the article of manufacture) being sold, but Samsung is asking that the profits be limited only to components of the product closely associated with the patented design. Although Apple’s position is supported by both the text and history and is the approach easiest to calculate, I expect that many on the Court will be drawn to the potential unjust outcomes of that approach. Apple wins in a 4-4 split. Oral arguments are set for October 11, 2016.”

We previously explained why design patents are similar if not overlapping software patents (the user interface angle in particular). We therefore hope that Apple will lose this case — a case which we wrote about nearly half a dozen times so far this year.

“When it comes to software patents, empirical evidence typically shows that their existence harms innovation and causes more harm than good.”“Professors Feldman and Lemley are well-known for their skepticism about the current form of the patent system,” wrote Neil Wilkof yesterday in IP Kat. It’s not a bad post and here is what it says about the seminal/cited paper: “The authors make a basic distinction between ex ante and ex post with respect to technology transfer and licensing. A significant amount of meaningful technology transfer is “ex ante”, namely it takes place before the patent issues, and sometimes even before it is filed. To the contrary, licensing demands and litigation leading to payment for freedom to operate, occurs “ex post”, after the patent is issued, sometimes long after grant. Even in the life sciences field, where one might expect more evidence that technology transfer would be taking place, the authors found that the “modal license” was primarily for payment for freedom to operate rather than technological transfer of the underlying technology.”

When it comes to software patents, empirical evidence typically shows that their existence harms innovation and causes more harm than good. “Despite Alice,” Benjamin Henrion wrote yesterday, “specialized patents courts keeps issuing software patents in the US” (known issue), but as long as the Supreme Court repudiates such nonsense we’re probably OK in the long run. Upon appeals, e.g. to CAFC (a bit pricey), software patents almost always die. Lower courts need to heed the warning and stop ignoring policies imposed (or handed down) from above.

“Suffice to say, “open source software” as the above names it (Free/libre software) is not compatible with software patents.”Dropbox, according to this page, has “4 new DROPBOX patent applications,” to quote Fresh Patents. They are pursuing software patents (the titles suggest so) on all sorts of basic Web operations. Will USPTO examiners be negligent enough to grant in spite of prior art and Alice? We shall see. One sure thing is, the courts (the higher, the better) won’t tolerate these.

We recently wrote about Blockstream making a patent pledge despite having no patents. This new report suggests that Blockchain technology faces patent-related problems. To quote IP Watch: “Blockchains, such as the well-known bitcoin, are not yet well-defined but are creating a lot of hype, speakers at a 23 August Intellectual Property Owners’ Association webinar said. Two things are clear so far, they said: the technology is in its infancy, and there are lots of unresolved questions about what is patentable and how IP laws intersect with the mostly open source software used in the systems.”

“If the Supreme Court was to be respected rather than ignored for convenience (or maximisation of profit), there would no longer be trials over software patents, let alone new grants of software patents.”Suffice to say, “open source software” as the above names it (Free/libre software) is not compatible with software patents. Neither are APIs (lesser form of “open source”), yet according to this new patent survey, there are more than 23,414 API patents. To quote D-Zone: “After looking through the 23,414 API related patents from between 2005 and present day from 4,283 companies, it is clear that the API patent game will be all about which companies decide to litigate using their “intellectual property.” There is definitely a lot of education that could occur across all industries where these patents will be put to work, and hopefully we can see some reforms at the USPTO regarding how important it is to the economy that the APIs themselves to remain open and reusable, but I think that ultimately the world of API patents will be hammered out in courts across the United States, and other countries around the world.”

Oracle now claims copyrights on APIs, in a case which involves a mixture of software patents and copyrights inherited from Sun upon acquisition. We hope that readers are able to see just how profound an impact all these efforts to apply ‘IP’ to code can have. When can developers go back to coding in peace? Well, hopefully when all courts and patent examiners pay attention to Alice and apply the corresponding test. If the Supreme Court was to be respected rather than ignored for convenience (or maximisation of profit), there would no longer be trials over software patents, let alone new grants of software patents.

Microsoft’s Legacy at Nokia is Patent Shakedown and Feeding of Patent Trolls

Posted in GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Patents at 10:47 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Texas sign

Summary: Another glimpse at where Nokia stands after Microsoft entryism and the ugly effects of patent trolling — something which Microsoft has played a considerable role promoting as it harms Free/Open Source software (FOSS) the most

ONCE UPON a time there was a mobile giant called Nokia, before Microsoft infiltrated the management (Elop), had it turn down Linux, and later turned it into a patent parasite, as expected by us all along. Any way one looks at it, Nokia is a patent parasite and Benjamin Henrion has said, “I booked http://nokiaplanp.com [P for patents] where that was the frenzy of its future. I was right.” See the latest articles in our Wiki for a detailed blow-by-blow chronology.

“Remember that IAM is funded by a troll of Nokia, MOSAID (now called Conversant, after all the negative publicity), armed with Nokia patents after Microsoft insisted on it (this is well documented).”According to IAM, Nokia is so large a patent parasite right now that it makes literally billions by taxing companies with its old patents. “Nokia Technologies head steps down just after company joins the $1 billion licensing club,” says the headline from IAM. Remember that IAM is funded by a troll of Nokia, MOSAID (now called Conversant, after all the negative publicity), armed with Nokia patents after Microsoft insisted on it (this is well documented). Microsoft has a certain ‘skill’ when it comes to creating and/or arming patent trolls, including the world’s largest patent troll, Intellectual Ventures.

The other day we saw the article “Spotify Under Attack from Suspicious ‘Patent Troll’ Venadium LLC…” (probably not one among the thousands of satellites of Intellectual Ventures, but who knows)… [via]

We find it rather ironic, as the company which recently hired from Microsoft the patent mafioso who had armed patent trolls to attack rivals (including Linux, even after his departure) now faces the threat of an incognito patent troll. To quote this “Exclusive” report:

These companies often earn the dubious award of being known as “patent trolls,” of which Venadium may qualify within frustrated tech circles. The Eastern District of Texas is a well-known breeding ground and lawsuit haven for dubious, ‘patent troll’ type cases, with an 88% win for plaintiffs in patent infringement lawsuits, compared to a nationwide average of 68% (at least back in 2006).

The Eastern District of Texas and statistics about it put me in a long argument with the patent microcosm (they don’t like the characterisation of it as plaintiff-friendly), culminating in this citation that claims “36% win rate for plaintiffs”.

Regardless of the true numbers (can we trust lawyers more than we trust journalists?), here is a new article published very recently to explain how patent trolls operate.

How the current patent system actually hurts innovation (and how patent trolls are being fought)


One of the most common questions I get asked when talking to companies about their issues with innovation is “how do we prevent someone stealing our ideas? Should we get them all patented?”

Unfortunately, the answer to that isn’t so simple.

And that is because the current system for getting patents is in many ways no longer in line with how the world’s businesses work.

And worse than that, in many cases it is being abused by companies in ways which actually discourage innovation completely.


The issue seems to stem from the fact that the patent office just cannot check whether the people filing for a patent are in fact the original creators of the technology. For example, here is a patent granted to a person in 2002 for his description of “How to swing on a swing“.


If you want to prove that the patent was not valid, then the only way to prove that the lawsuit should not have happened in the first place is to have the legal system decide, analyse all the patents and claims, and determine once and for all whether the patent is valid.

This process can take 3+ years, and cost over $3 million.

This is much too expensive for most small companies to pay, so instead they are forced to pay the settlement claim to the patent troll.


A lot of the most innovative companies out there are making breakthroughs in the way we work, live and play using new software, whether we use it directly (a game on our phone) or to underpin their service (the vehicle prioritisation and routing within the Uber platform).

However, software is not always something that can be patented.

In some countries you can patent software (such as the USA, although this is often debated) while many other regions including most parts of Europe do not allow it.

As many software-based companies also operate on a global basis, this can make enforcement of patents extremely problematic, especially if software with different code is able to perform the same end-result.

In fact, there is a growing movement in Silicon Valley to open up patent portfolios and let anyone gain access to and build upon some of the most important software technology in the world. Echoing Henry Ford, who openly pined for the abolition of the patent system, Elon Musk has described patents as “intellectual property land mines” that inhibit progress.

That latter part speaks more specifically about software patents — a subject we shall focus on in our next post. Suffice to say, software patents are inherently incompatible with FOSS.

Convergence Between the EPO and the Media: ‘Managing IP’ as Battistelli and UPC Platform

Posted in Deception, Europe, Patents at 9:59 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Time and space virtually ‘rented out’ to EPO management (another IAM-like propaganda mill in the making)

Managing IP and Battistelli

Summary: Managing IP reinforces the view or the perception that when it comes to the European Patent Office (EPO) it’s only a little better than an external PR department

THE EPO is wasting over a million Euros per year on spurious PR like pro-UPC events in another continent. There is also a lot of hogwash now that the EPO expels the independent judges or the boards they’re part of. Shortly after Battistelli was demolishing the boards and putting lipstick on the pig (see our translation of the hogwash) James Nurton is again, having done a softball ‘interview’ with Battistelli earlier this year in order to help him cover up/whitewash amid peak of a crisis (boiling point), jumping to his rescue. There is this new ‘Managing IP’ (MIP) nonsense titled “EPO President Battistelli on appeals reforms”. Why not just reprint a prepared (by the EPO’s PR team) ghostwritten piece? They frame this as an interview, but any fool can see what it really is. It’s supposedly behind a paywall (“$/trial,” as they put it in Twitter less than an hour ago), so the choir gets preferential access to the lies, the rest will find it harder to rebut (let alone see). This is a common tactic when suppressing criticism. The same goes for attendance at events where dissent is being discouraged/disallowed (e.g. by limiting who can speak and charging a furtune to attend, with exceptions/discounts to ‘desirable’ guests).

“…James Nurton is again, having done a softball ‘interview’ with Battistelli earlier this year in order to help him cover up/whitewash amid peak of a crisis (boiling point), jumping to his rescue.”What on Earth is happening to MIP? It’s even a multi-part Battistelli series, clearly prepared in advance to be released in conjunction with today’s UPC advocacy event. “This is the first of a two-part article,” Nurton wrote. “A further interview with Battistelli, on the social situation at the Office, will be published later this month.”

So, basically, they are planning to publish complete and utter lies like those we explained under an hour ago (the so-called 'social conference' and social report/study).

Shame on MIP. They’re not journalists, they’re actually Battistelli’s propagandists now. Some EPO staff is attending (not willfully) their UPC event, which they have advertised as follows: “Our #EUPatent16 forums take place this week in Munich (Tuesday) & Paris (Thursday) incl. panels on #UPC, #UnitaryPatent, #Brexit & #Frand”

This is a UPC promotion event. Make no mistake about it. Look who has speaking positions. It was mentioned here before, not just a month ago but also days ago. Hastags like #Brexit #EUPatent16 #UPC and #UnitaryPatent are being used by MIP to promote this and even #Frand (yes, the anti-FOSS, pro-software patents Trojan horse!)

“Come on,” they told me this morning. “We’re not in the business of promoting #UPC or #Unitarypatent – just providing a platform for discussion!”

“This is a UPC promotion event.”Yeah, right…

Another ‘conference’ brought to you by EPO, sort of…

“I can say very much the same,” said someone about the EPO a short while ago. “Management is loyal only to hidden agendas, power and weak moral.”

The problem is, MIP agreed to do the EPO management’s work. This shows that their integrity is flaky to say the least. They also profit from this event (over a thousand Euros for each person to attend a one-day event, assuming standard charges).

“I know you claim to have a neutral position,” I replied to them, “but the speakers’ lineup will likely omit any opponents,” as usual.

“They also profit from this event (over a thousand Euros for each person to attend a one-day event, assuming standard charges).”Well, perhaps foreseeing a backlash for licking Battistelli’s boot, MIP wrote to me this morning, hours before the puff piece and around the time the aforementioned event started.

“Disagree,” they added. “Based on our previous events, we expect a full range of views from speakers & audience. You should come to one!”

I replied with “€1095 for a one-day event about the #upc (plus plane tickets) [is] well beyond my means. Event for the rich to preach to the rich.”

“Our events are free for in-house counsel, academics & R&D professionals,” they replied. “Come next year as our guest!”

“We are very sad to see MIP becoming a lot more like IAM, which is the propaganda mill of Battistelli, still.”Well, being a guest at an event with thugs like Team Battistelli (and their bodyguards) doesn’t sound all that safe and besides, the place will be stuffed/stacked with pro-UPC people. It’s like entering the lion’s den.

We are very sad to see MIP becoming a lot more like IAM, which is the propaganda mill of Battistelli, still.

As an aside, the EPO’s PR people have been 'spamming' universities even today (this morning onwards). They don’t publicly mention or endorse MIP’s event, but it’s clear that they’re very much embedded in it. It’s not at all hard for outsiders to see.

High on EPO: Battistelli’s ‘Social Conference’ Nonsense is Intended to Help Suppress Debate About His Abuses Against Staff and Union-Busting Activities

Posted in Deception, Europe, Patents at 9:08 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Big lies from a chronic liar [1, 2]

Battistelli liar
Source (original): Rospatent

Summary: Battistelli is attempting to purchase (i.e. pay for, at the EPO’s expense) an alternate reality wherein EPO staff is absolutely delighted and the social climate is fantastic — all this for the purpose of evading accountability for his systematic abuses that left him with 0% approval rate (literally!), suicidal/depressed staff, and notable brain drain as well as considerable decline in the quality of work [1, 2]

EARLIER this year and last week we mentioned the so-called ‘social conference’ [1, 2, 3, 4, 5], which relates to the social study [sic] commissioned by the liar (Battistelli) and his goons, relying on gross omissions and hired propaganda mills. Battistelli, being a politician, would go as far as necessary to protect his horrible regime, even if that means lying and insulting people’s intelligence.

Next month, at a very strategic time (no coincidence there), the EPO will release Battistelli’s massive and expensive propaganda, unleashing a large bundle of lies to justify not bringing up union-busting and violations of the law in the Administrative Council’s (AC) meeting. Wait and watch. Team Battistelli will continue to shamelessly rubbish justice and try to cover it up with a large bundle of lies, as usual.

The following new comment on the subject is quite revealing:

the stated purpose of the social conference is:

- presenting the results of the occupational health and safety risk assessment (ohsra) and the social study
- forming working groups to discuss these results
- work shops (by now these two points will be done on the same day as the presentations)
- expected results of the working groups and the workshops are
-_- an analysis how the previous reforms influenced the results of the social study and the ohsra
-_- suggestions how the previous reforms need to be amended to restore social climate, of course without an impact on the results of these reforms (so continued abolishment of steps and career, lower salaries, increased work pressure, less secure pensions for newcomers, …)

Both results will be presented to the AC, together with an analysis of the administration of these results, as well as an opinion on the studies by the administration.
How can the administration coordinate the working grouos, and work on their own analysis, as well as waiting for the results and form an opinion on that all on the same day, without most of all that already pre-written?
I bet they even prepared an analysis to be presented by the staff representative groups (FFPE, and the official Staff Representation)

I also wonder how they expect Staff Representation as well as FFPE to be able to actively particiate in all areas, when they do the working groups all at the same time, and will not allow sufficient “experts” to participate; no chance to discuss among themselves, and still deliver opinions on the same day which will be seen as representative of “all staff” if favourable for management, or “dissenting opinions of disgruntled single individuals” (a.k.a. violent and vocal minority) when not in favour of previous and future management actions.

I expect this whole exercise to deliver even more pre-cooked management “Bullshit-Bingo” catchwords without content, but used as justification to push the border of our legal issues even further….

We have loads of new material regarding the EPO. A lot of it will have been published before the so-called ‘social conference’ and we expect some press coverage to that effect, scrutinising the Battistelli regime in some form ahead of the next AC meeting. Dirty laundry will help convince delegates and journalists that everything Battistelli and his yellow ‘union’ say can be disregarded. For those who forgot what FFPE stands for, here is a reminder of past articles:

  1. In the EPO’s Official Photo Op, “Only One of the Faces is Actually FFPE-EPO”
  2. Further Evidence Suggests and Shows Stronger Evidence That Team Battistelli Uses FFPE-EPO as ‘Yellow Union’ Against SUEPO
  3. “FFPE-EPO Was Set up About 9 Years Ago With Management Encouragement”
  4. Fallout of the FFPE EPO MoU With Battistelli’s Circle
  5. The EPO’s Media Strategy at Work: Union Feuds and Group Fracturing
  6. Caricature of the Day: Recognising FFPE EPO
  7. Union Syndicale Federale Slams FFPE-EPO for Helping Abusive EPO Management by Signing a Malicious, Divisive Document
  8. FFPE-EPO Says MoU With Battistelli Will “Defend Employment Conditions” (Updated)
  9. Their Masters’ Voice (Who Block Techrights): FFPE-EPO Openly Discourages Members From Reading Techrights
  10. Letter Says EPO MoU “Raises Questions About FFPE’s Credibility as a Federation of Genuine Staff Unions”
  11. On Day of Strike FFPE-EPO Reaffirms Status as Yellow (Fake/Management-Leaning) Union, Receives ‘Gifts’
  12. Needed Urgently: Information About the Secret Meeting of Board 28 and Battistelli’s Yellow Union, FFPE-EPO
  13. In Battistelli’s Mini Union (Minion) It Takes Less Than 10 Votes to ‘Win’ an Election
  14. FFPE-EPO Going Ad Hominem Against FICSA, Brings Nationality Into It

Sheer propaganda “is good enough for political operators such as BB [Battistelli],” says the following new comment:

Thanks for the explanation. It seems that we have yet another example of a classic BB strategy, namely “consultation” in the form of allowing others to speak but having no intention of listening to them (let alone taking heed of anything that is said).

Of course, this strategy has nothing to do with the dictionary (or commonly understood) definition of “consultation”, but is good enough for political operators such as BB.

Quite frankly, the whole charade is just an insult to the intelligence of the staff representatives and all neutral observers. Not that this will stop the AC swallowing the results hook, line and sinker. What a debacle!

In another thread, one regarding privacy, the EPO's privacy violations (including medical data protection) are brought up again, noting that “patent processing at the EPO is not in compliance with EU standards for data protection.”

Here is the comment in full:

A patent is worth a lot of money.
Personal data are the bibliographic data, payment method, communication with the EPO but also the application (claims/description).

It is incredible that the patent processing at the EPO is not in compliance with EU standards for data protection.

Coming up soon are more articles about data protection abuses, the race to the bottom at the EPO, union-busting activities and highly negative social atmosphere at the Office. We urge readers to relay information about those things to both journalists and delegates as Battistelli prepares to lie to them in a big way. They need to be properly informed in order to counter his claims.

Links 6/9/2016: QEMU 2.7.0, GNU Nano 2.7.0

Posted in News Roundup at 8:20 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish



  • Desktop

    • VintOS Promises to Be the Chromium OS Fork You’ve Always Wanted and Needed

      Dylan Callahan from the Chromium OS for SBCs (Single-Board Computers) project, which unfortunately was discontinued due to lack of interest from users, informed Softpedia today, September 5, 2016, that he’s working on a new Linux-based OS.

      We have to admit that we’re quite surprised to see that developers aren’t giving up on their ambitions of creating the best fork of a well-known Linux kernel-based operating system, in this case Chromium OS. While Chromium OS for SBCs was aimed at embedded and IoT devices, the new one is targeted at all PCs.

      World, meet VintOS! What’s VintOS? Well, it’s upcoming open-source fork of Chromium OS, the operating system on which the famous Google Chrome OS is based. To make a name for itself from the get go, VintOS is named after one of the founding fathers of the Internet, Vinton Cerf, and it’s explicitly designed with educational purposes in mind.

  • Server

    • IBM to set up new Linux cloud for Africa

      IBM has announced a new LinuxONE community cloud for Africa, to be hosted at its client centre in Johannesburg.

      This follows a forecast by Frost & Sullivan that sub-Saharan Africa will be the second-largest mobile market by 2020, surpassing Europe and just behind Asia-Pacific.

      Developers will be able to use the newly set up cloud free for 120 days.

      IBM is also expanding its sales and support network of LinuxONE systems, its most powerful, in Africa.

      Dr Salihu Dasuki, assistant professor of computing and applied sciences at the American University of Nigeria, said the new could would help to boost the open-source movement in Africa.

  • Kernel Space

    • Linux Kernel 3.18.41 LTS Has ARC and Networking Changes, Updated Drivers

      Today, September 5, 2016, a new version of the long-term supported Linux 3.18 kernel series arrived, build 3.18.41, bringing various updated drivers and other small improvements.

      No official announcement was made at the moment of writing this article, but we managed to get our hands on the Git changelog to tell you a little bit about the changes implemented in the Linux 3.18.41 LTS release, which updates a total of 47 files, with 254 insertions and 91 deletions.

      Judging by the statistics mentioned above, Linux kernel 3.18.41 LTS is a relatively small maintenance update that multiple improvements to the ARC hardware architectures, as well as a few minor fixes to the PA-RISC and PowerPC (PPC) ones, a bugfix for the UBIFS file system, and an updated networking stack with IPv4 and mac80211 changes.

    • Greg Kroah-Hartman: Greg Kroah-Hartman: 4.9 == next LTS kernel

      As I briefly mentioned a few weeks ago on my G+ page, the plan is for the 4.9 Linux kernel release to be the next “Long Term Supported” (LTS) kernel.

      Last year, at the Linux Kernel Summit, we discussed just how to pick the LTS kernel. Many years ago, we tried to let everyone know ahead of time what the kernel version would be, but that caused a lot of problems as people threw crud in there that really wasn’t ready to be merged, just to make it easier for their “day job”. That was many years ago, and people insist they aren’t going to do this again, so let’s see what happens.

    • Torvalds at LinuxCon Part III: Permissive Licenses and Org Charts

      In the last of our three part series that began last week on Linus Torvalds’ keynote interview at this year’s LinuxCon, Linux’s lead developer talks about everything from up and coming operating systems in IoT to the development process.

      “You mentioned the strength of the GPL,” Dirk Hohndel said, by now about twenty minutes into his interview of Linus Torvalds at LinuxCon 2016. “Many new kernels have shown up in the last couple of years, mostly geared towards really small devices, the IoT space: Zephyr by Intel, Fuchsia by Google and a bunch more.”

      If you are who you work for now, Dirk Hohndel is VMware’s boy. But at the time of the interview, only a few weeks back, he’d been working as VMware’s chief open source officer for less than a month. For almost fifteen years before that — fourteen years nine months he’s careful to point-out on LinkedIn — he belonged to Intel, where he served as chief Linux and open source technologist. Before that he spent six years at SUSE, where he was CTO when he left in 2001, two years ahead of the Novell brouhaha.

      “One of the interesting commonalities is they’re all under BSD or MIT,” he continued. “Do you think they’re interesting and do you think that one of them could grow up and become a competitor for Linux or replace Linux?”

    • Graphics Stack

      • RADV Radeon Vulkan Driver One Step Closer To Being Merged In Mesa

        While the ultimate vision of the open-source Radeon Vulkan driver isn’t yet clear with RADV being the front-runner so far as the community-based driver while AMD has yet to open up their official Vulkan driver and there’s been few remarks about RADV from AMD employees (aside from John Bridgman in our forums), RADV inched forward today in moving closer to being merged in mainline Mesa.

      • libinput and the Lenovo T450 and T460 series touchpads

        I’m using T450 and T460 as reference but this affects all laptops from the Lenovo *50 and *60 series. The Lenovo T450 and T460 have the same touchpad hardware, but unfortunately it suffers from what is probably a firmware issue. On really slow movements, the pointer has a halting motion. That effect disappears when the finger moves faster.

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

      • 20 Years of KDE Timeline

        KDE is celebrating 20 years as the original and best free software end-user creating community. The milestones of our project are marked on our 20 Years of KDE timeline. Find out the meetings and releases which defined KDE. Learn about the early and recent KDE gatherings around the world and how we have evolved over the years. What was your first KDE release?

      • Akademy 2016 BoF Wrapup Video

        The first BoF day of Akademy is over with several teams meeting to discuss their progress and plans for the next year. At the end of the day we had a group session to summarise what went on in each of the rooms. Watch the video of the wrapup to discover the plans for the next year.

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK

      • Restricted Funds in Non-Profit Accounting

        I’ve served as treasurer for three separate organizations over the last six years. Two of them are US 501(c)(3) non-profit organizations. The other is a consumer-owned cooperative. I’m not an accountant, but I’ve learned a lot about accounting, and each organization has forced me to learn something new.

        Today’s adventure is learning how to deal with restricted funds, or funds that have to be used for a particular purpose. I’m going to show four different techniques for dealing with restricted funds, along with some pros and cons.

  • Distributions

    • New Releases

    • Red Hat Family

    • Debian Family

      • Debian plugs Linux ‘TCP snoop’ bug

        Debian’s maintainers have moved to plug the TCP snooping flaw that emerged in August 2016.

        The bug, CVE-2016-5696, was spotted by University of California Riverside’s Zhiyun Qian and his collaborators and published in August.

        It enabled an attack against Linux (and Android) implementations of RFC 5961, which used challenge ACK packets to try and harden Linux. The implementation bug, present in the kernel since 2012, meant targets could be fooled into rate-limiting their challenge ACKs, letting an attacker work out sequence numbering when it resumed.

      • Derivatives

        • Emmabuntüs Debian Edition 1.01 Officially Released Based on Debian GNU/Linux 8.5

          Softpedia was informed today, September 5, 2016, by Patrick Emmabuntüs about the release and immediate availability for download of the Emmabuntüs Debian Edition 1.01 GNU/Linux operating system.

          Emmabuntüs Debian Edition 1.01 is the first point release of the Emmabuntüs Debian Edition 1.0 distribution announced for the first time right here on Softpedia Linux, exclusively, back in June 2016. Since then, Patrick Emmabuntüs and his team of skilled GNU/Linux developers updated the OS with many new improvements and features.

          First of all, Emmabuntüs Debian Edition 1.01 remains based on the Debian GNU/Linux 8.5 “Jessie” operating system, which means that it includes all the security updates released upstream in the Debian Stable repositories. Second of all, there’s now a 64-bit edition available for download and suitable for modern computers.

          “This edition of EmmaDE includes new versions of our set of tutorials on installation, presentation and free culture data. For the time being they are available in French only, and will be published later on the Developpez.com site. The English versions will be then translated by our friend Yves, and included in the release of version 1.02,” says Patrick Emmabuntüs in today’s announcement.

  • Devices/Embedded

    • OTON X claims to be the first artificial intelligent games console, it’s powered by Linux

      OTON X sounds like a rather interesting Linux-powered games console. It is aimed at people who want to create as well as play games.

      Claiming it as “first artificial intelligent games console” is a pretty big thing. It seems it will come with tools to help people with AI in games. It’s still cool either way and will be fun to follow the progress of it.

    • Phones

      • Tizen

        • Gear S3 support coming soon to iPhone says Samsung

          Samsung has now launched the Gear S3 smartwatch and I have to say it looks quite impressive. The Gear S2 has had some excellent reviews by the tech media and so far the S3 looks well received.

        • Game: Table Tennis 3D for Samsung Z1 and Z3 is available

          Table Tennis 3D is a highly addictive game with good graphics, effects and good sound FX. You can play with friends or against the computer. You can do various moves like smash or swing the ball to become higher in rankings whilst in career mode, if you take the table tennis challenge. The computer competitor is based on human behaviour by reflexes, strength and speed. Play different moves: sidespin, corkspin etc. These are similar to normal table tennis moves. There are also 3 types of bat/paddle configuration for speed, spin and control. to personalize your gameplay, you select a bat that you are most comfortable with. You can also zoom in/out to change your view.

      • Android

        • Bad Time for Bad Batteries – Galaxy Recall by Samsung after exploding batteries
        • Samsung tells Australians to turn off Galaxy Note7 smartphones, investigates fire reports
        • Samsung’s Galaxy Note 7 recall has a 22-year-old precedent
        • 7 ways Apple’s iPhone 7 needs to play catchup to Android

          All eyes will be on Apple Wednesday, and on the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus that everyone expects the company to announce. Now more than ever, Apple has the advantage to win back on-the-fencers who are as open to an iPhone as they are to a whole chorus of Android phones.

          Why? Because Samsung just recalled its latest iPhone opponent, the Galaxy Note 7, over a battery flaw, and because Google hasn’t announced its latest Nexus successors (the rumored “Pixel” phones are said to be coming in October). That puts the iPhone in a position of strength and opportunity — if they can meet some of the top features found in Android rivals.

        • Apple hopes new iPhone 7 release will regain ground from growing Android
        • Fancy using Android on your computer? Android-86 released first build of Nougat for the PC

          It’s safe to say that Android and Intel don’t play that well together these days, and neither Google nor Intel are doing much to change that. Despite that, however, the Android-86 project, which is aimed at bringing Android to computers, is alive and well.

          In fact, the Android 7.0 build for developers has just been released through the project. What does that mean? You can now run Android 7.0 Nougat on your computer.

        • Has Huawei built a tablet for Google to be released in 2016?

          Right now, fans of the Nexus line have their eyes on the next pair of smartphones expected to be released in the coming weeks, but nobody has really been paying much attention to what Google has planned in the tablet department. Some have even speculated that Chromebooks are rapidly overtaking the niche that Android tablets once occupied, but now it seems like Google might have another tablet card up their sleeve in conjunction with Huawei.

          It doesn’t have a name yet, and with the Nexus line allegedly rebranding to Pixel, there’s no way to really even speculate. All we know is that prolific leaker and Android community staple Evan Blass has tweeted that Google will be releasing a “Huawei-built 7-inch tablet, with 4GB RAM” before the end of the year.

        • Leak “confirms” Google Pixel, Pixel XL comes with Android 7.1

          In case there were any doubt that Google’s upcoming Android smartphones due next month would be coming with Android 7.1 out of the box, this should lay those to rest. Actually, it still might not, considering it’s technically still an unverified leak. For leakster LlabTooFeR, however, it’s pretty much a done deal. And considering how the initial Android 7.0 release missed a couple of things, that’s almost a given. Now all we have to do is wait for about a month to see if Marlin and Sailfish, both from HTC, will indeed be the first of Google’s new line of Pixel smartphones.

        • GStreamer on Android and universal builds

          There are some things that I’d like for us to be able to do better. The first is that Android Studio doesn’t pick up native code with our current build approach. This is a limitation of the Android Gradle NDK plugin, which doesn’t support a custom build. This should change with Android Studio 2.2.

        • Do not deal with Android Enjoyed, Camera Sky and Klukkur, Fair Trading warns
        • Apple Music for Android Surpasses 10 Million Downloads
        • Android vs iPhone | Android vs iOS: which is best?

          So you want a new phone, but you’re considering jumping ship from Android or iOS. But is the grass really greener on the other side, or should you stick with what you know? Here we outline the pros and cons of Android phones and iPhones. It’s Android vs iPhone: iOS vs Android. See also: Best new phones

          Before we get started, we must point out that this guide is intended as a brief overview to help you decide whether to choose an Android phone or an iPhone. It’s not meant to be an exhaustive comparison of every last feature, both in hardware and software, of each type of phone. And we also know that die-hard fans won’t be persuaded to switch – that’s not the aim of this article at all.

        • Michael Kors Dylan Access review: Android Wear for everyone

          The Michael Kors Access line is available September 6 starting at $350 for the model above (metal/silicone), going up to $395 for the more exclusive gold-tone Bradshaw varieties. Bands begin at $40, rising to $50 for the embossed versions). (In Canada, watch prices begin at $420, rising to $475, with bands running $50 to $60.)

          Despite the issues with the charger, and the imperfect display characteristics, I grew to enjoy the Access, and would certainly recommend it to anyone looking to engage with the more fashion-forward varieties of Android Wear. Like the Fossil Q Founder, this smartwatch is more about the brand than the product, and it’s clear that certain decisions were made to reinforce its place alongside similarly-designed analog watches in endless glass displays.

          But somehow it works: it is both fashionable and functional, the comfortable enough (with a sizeable battery) to wear all day.

Free Software/Open Source


  • El Salvador footballers claim they were offered bribes for World Cup qualifier against Canada

    Players from El Salvador’s national football team claim they were offered bribes for a World Cup qualifier, playing audio of the alleged interaction at a press conference.

    The players claimed they were offered financial inducements to win, draw or avoid a heavy defeat in the match against Canada, scheduled for Wednesday (AEST).

    El Salvador captain Nelson Bonilla told reporters in a pre-match news conference in Vancouver on Monday that a Salvadoran businessman had approached the players with the offer last weekend.

  • Screens In Schools Are a $60 Billion Hoax

    As the dog days of summer wane, most parents are preparing to send their kids back to school. In years past, this has meant buying notebooks and pencils, perhaps even a new backpack. But over the past decade or so, the back-to-school checklist has for many also included an array of screen devices that many parents dutifully stuff into their children’s bag.

    The screen revolution has seen pedagogy undergo a seismic shift as technology now dominates the educational landscape. In almost every classroom in America today, you will find some type of screen—smartboards, Chromebooks, tablets, smartphones. From inner-city schools to those in rural and remote towns, we have accepted tech in the classroom as a necessary and beneficial evolution in education.

    This is a lie.

    Tech in the classroom not only leads to worse educational outcomes for kids, which I will explain shortly, it can also clinically hurt them. I’ve worked with over a thousand teens in the past 15 years and have observed that students who have been raised on a high-tech diet not only appear to struggle more with attention and focus, but also seem to suffer from an adolescent malaise that appears to be a direct byproduct of their digital immersion. Indeed, over two hundred peer-reviewed studies point to screen time correlating to increased ADHD, screen addiction, increased aggression, depression, anxiety and even psychosis.

  • Science

    • Billionaires’ Spectacular Stumbles

      This past week, a Falcon 9 rocket built by Elon Musk’s SpaceX company exploded on the launch pad during preparations for a static test prior to the scheduled launch of a communications satellite. The explosion and fire were quite spectacular, although in an unwanted sense, of course.

      This was SpaceX’s second catastrophic failure in little more than a year. Last year another Falcon 9 disintegrated two minutes after launch, with the loss of a cargo capsule bringing 4,000 pounds of supplies and equipment to the international space station. Such failures have raised, at least for the moment, the question of whether Musk is unwisely trying in his ventures to push the envelope too far and too fast.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Toxic air pollution particles found in human brains

      Toxic nanoparticles from air pollution have been discovered in human brains in “abundant” quantities, a newly published study reveals.

      The detection of the particles, in brain tissue from 37 people, raises concerns because recent research has suggested links between these magnetite particles and Alzheimer’s disease, while air pollution has been shown to significantly increase the risk of the disease. However, the new work is still a long way from proving that the air pollution particles cause or exacerbate Alzheimer’s.

      “This is a discovery finding, and now what should start is a whole new examination of this as a potentially very important environmental risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease,” said Prof Barbara Maher, at Lancaster University, who led the new research. “Now there is a reason to go on and do the epidemiology and the toxicity testing, because these particles are so prolific and people are exposed to them.”

      Air pollution is a global health crisis that kills more people than malaria and HIV/Aids combined and it has long been linked to lung and heart disease and strokes. But research is uncovering new impacts on health, including degenerative brain diseases such as Alzheimer’s, mental illness and reduced intelligence.

      The new work, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, examined brain tissue from 37 people in Manchester, in the UK, and Mexico, aged between three and 92.

  • Security

    • LuaBot Is the First Botnet Malware Coded in Lua Targeting Linux Platforms [Ed: so don’t install malware]

      Unlike Mirai, which is the fruit of a two-year-long coding frenzy, LuaBot is in its early stages of development, with the first detection being reported only a week ago and a zero detection rate on VirusTotal for current samples.

    • Nearly 800,000 Brazzers Porn Site Accounts Exposed in Forum Hack [Ed: Remember Canonical having Ubuntu Forums cracked, twice, due to proprietary vBulletin? Well, vBulletin — again.]

      Nearly 800,000 accounts for popular porn site Brazzers have been exposed in a data breach. Although the data originated from the company’s separate forum, Brazzers users who never signed up to the forum may also find their details included in the dump.

      Motherboard was provided the dataset by breach monitoring site Vigilante.pw for verification purposes. The data contains 790,724 unique email addresses, and also includes usernames and plaintext passwords. (The set has 928,072 entries in all, but many are duplicates.)

      Troy Hunt, a security researcher and creator of the website Have I Been Pwned? helped verify the dataset by contacting subscribers to his site, who confirmed a number of their details from the data.

    • Pokémon-inspired rootkit attacks Linux systems [Ed: Media hyping up "Linux" threat which requires 1) the cracker has access to the device. 2) cracker installs malware.]

      Provides backdoor and traffic-hiding capabilities.

      A new persistent stealthy malware that can give attackers full control over Linux servers has been discovered by researchers.

      Researcher Fernando Mercês with security vendor Trend Micro said the malware – a rootkit family – is named after a character in the Pokémon fantasy game called Umbreon.

      Umbreon is a dark Pokémon that hides in the night, an “appropriate characteristic for a rootkit,” Mercês wrote.

    • Pokémon-loving VXer targets Linux with ‘Umbreon’ rootkit [Ed: More hysteria, now in British media, over something that’s not a real risk, thanks to self promotion]
    • Pokemon Rootkit Targets Linux Systems
  • Defence/Aggression

    • Syria: Can Russia & US Broker a new Cease-Fire?

      Stars and Stripes reports that US Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov may be very near a new US-Russian deal on Syria.

    • In Turkey, a Chechen Commander Makes Plans for War in Syria

      Rustam Azhiyev, better known as Abdul Hakim, rarely left his apartment building in the Basaksehir district of Istanbul. Originally from Chechnya, Hakim has spent almost his entire life at war, and he is now the head of Ajnad al Kavkaz, or Soldiers of the Caucasus, the largest of the Muslim factions from the former Soviet Union fighting in Syria.

      It was the fall of 2015, and I wasn’t given our meeting location until I got in the taxi in Istanbul. “Basaksehir, where the big bazaar is located,” my contact told me in Russian over the phone. “You will find it for sure.”

      I was supposed to call again when I got there and then wait, apparently long enough to make sure that I wasn’t being watched.

      Istanbul is like a giant waiting hall in a train station. It’s easy to remain anonymous in that constant churn of people entering and exiting the city, and that’s what jihadis intent on going to Syria have done here. Though the exact number is hard to know, there are believed to be thousands of Chechens living in Istanbul, and even more Uzbeks, Kazakhs, and Tajiks. And some of them are on their way to Syria, where they take up arms with factions fighting the Assad regime.

    • Erdogan’s unexpected ally

      There was exhaustive coverage by international media of the post-coup meeting between Vladimir Putin and Recep Tayyip Erdogan in St. Petersburg. Now the Kremlin host may pay a return visit. The media spotlight however did not fall on one other – perhaps, quite unexpected – Erdogan ally: Thorbjorn Jagland, the Council of Europe’s Secretary General.

    • How Obama’s Asia Pivot Nudged China Toward Pakistan but Helped Aggravate India

      After many disastrous years spent trying to shape the Middle East, the Obama administration has refocused its foreign policy toward defending U.S. interests in economically wealthy East Asia. President Obama’s “pivot to Asia” is widely perceived as an attempt by the United States to contain China’s growing economic and political clout in that region. But the resulting increase in U.S. pressure on China’s eastern periphery has had an interesting side-effect — it has led China to look elsewhere on the continent for opportunities to trade, invest, and build diplomatic influence.

      A major target of this redirected effort has been China’s neighbor to its west, Pakistan. A series of joint Chinese-Pakistani infrastructure projects are now underway, branded collectively as the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). These investments are intended to build Pakistan’s economic capacity and increase its links to western China, while giving China access to port facilities on the Indian Ocean.

      Although the project could have significant long-term economic benefits to the region, it has engendered tensions with India, which has had contentious relations with both China and Pakistan in the past. How China navigates this effort to expand its influence with Pakistan, and how other powerful countries respond, could determine whether South and Central Asia embark on a new era of shared prosperity or remain trapped in a cycle of conflict.

    • Hillary Clinton Courts Henry Kissinger’s Endorsement Even After Meeting His Victims

      Hillary Clinton’s campaign has been seeking the endorsement of former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, and their efforts may pay off, as there are reports that he is expected soon, alongside former Secretary of State George Schultz, to issue a joint endorsement of Clinton.

      While those inside the national security community in Washington, D.C., may applaud the endorsement, Kissinger’s legacy of war crimes — from complicity in the 1973 coup in Chile to spearheading the saturation bombing of Indochina — has made him far less popular among human rights observers.

      Clinton is well aware of that legacy. As secretary of state, she traveled to areas of the world that were devastated by policies Kissinger crafted and implemented.

      The most relevant example is in 2012, when she visited Laos’s Cooperative Orthotic & Prosthetic Enterprise, a joint project between NGOs and the government of Laos dedicated to helping people with physical disabilities get prosthetic limbs and be rehabilitated. The project’s creation was prompted by the millions of submunitions littered across Laos, left over from the U.S. air war on the country during the conflict in Indochina.

    • The link between uranium from the Congo and Hiroshima: a story of twin tragedies

      On August 6 – Hiroshima Day – I participated in a groundbreaking event at the South African Museum in Cape Town entitled The Missing Link: Peace and Security Surrounding Uranium.

      The event had been organised by the Congolese Civil Society of South Africa to put a spotlight on the link between Japan and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC): that the uranium used to build the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima came from the Shinkolobwe mine in the province of Katanga.

      This was the richest uranium in the world. Its ore had an average of 65% uranium oxide compared with American or Canadian ore, which contained less than 1%.

      The mine is now closed, but its existence put it at the centre of the Manhattan Project in the second world war. The Congo was a Belgian colony at the time and the Congolese suffered from the harsh colonial reality of racism, segregation and extreme inequities.

      Following the war, the mine became a focus for the Cold War conflict between the superpowers. Today, freelance miners, desperate to earn a living and at severe risk to their health, still go to the site to dig out uranium and cobalt.

    • Defending Arms Sales, Boris Johnson Says Yemen Carnage Is No ‘Serious Breach’

      The Saudi-led military campaign that has indiscriminately killed nearly 4,000 Yemeni civilians, is the driving force behind massive humanitarian and refugee crises, and has been accused of war crimes, has not breached international law sufficiently for the United Kingdom to cease selling munitions to the Gulf nation—at least according to British foreign secretary Boris Johnson.

      As members of Parliament prepare this week to debate whether to impose an arms ban on Saudi Arabia in light of the aforementioned allegations, the newly-appointed Johnson submitted a letter Monday arguing that there has been no “serious breach” of law.

      “The key test for our continued arms exports to Saudi Arabia in relation to international humanitarian law is whether those weapons might be used in a commission of a serious breach of international humanitarian law,” he wrote. “Having regard to all the information available to us, we assess this test has not been met.”

    • Boris Johnson defends UK arms sales to Saudi Arabia
    • Repression Rains Down on Pro-Democracy Demonstrators in Brazil

      Protests took place in multiple Brazilian cities on Sunday, in support of ousted president Dilma Rousseff and against the now-officially installed government of her successor, Michel Temer.

    • How Many Guns Did the U.S. Lose Track of in Iraq and Afghanistan? Hundreds of Thousands.

      Early this year, a Facebook user in Baghdad using the name Hussein Mahyawi posted a photograph of a slightly worn M4 assault rifle he was offering for sale. Veterans of the latest war in Iraq immediately recognized it. It was a standard American carbine equipped with a holographic sight, a foregrip that was military-issue during the occupation and a sticker bearing a digital QR code used by American forces for inventory control. Except for one detail — an aftermarket pistol grip, the sort of accessory with which combatants of the current generation often pimp their guns — it was a dead ringer for any of the tens of thousands of M4s the Pentagon handed out to Iraqi security forces and various armed militias after toppling Saddam Hussein in 2003. And here it was on the open market, ready for bids.

      Was this a surprise? No. A little more than four years after the United States withdrew all its military forces from Iraq, and not quite two years after a smaller number of American troops began returning to the country to help fight the Islamic State, the open sale of such an M4 was part of Iraq’s day-to-day arms-trafficking routine. Mahyawi’s carbine was another data point attesting to an extraordinary and dangerous failure of American arms-trafficking and public accountability and to a departure from a modern military’s most basic practice: keeping track of the guns.

    • Obama cancels meeting with leader who called him ‘son of a b—-’

      President Obama cancelled a meeting with new Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, after being called a “son of a bitch” by the leader while he spoke to reporters.

      In language highly unusual for any world leader — let alone from a close ally like the Philippines — Duterte told reporters in Manila that Obama should not use their planned meeting to critique the Philippine’s war on drugs.

      “You must be respectful,” Duterte said of Obama, according to the AP. “Do not just throw questions.” Using the Tagalog phrase for “son of a bitch,” he said, “Putang ina, I will swear at you in that forum.”

      The comment came after a reporter asked him how he’ll explain the extrajudicial killings in the Philippines, where more than 2,000 suspected drug sellers and users have been killed since the end of June.


      “Clearly, he’s a colorful guy,” Obama said.

      “And what I’ve instructed my team to do is to talk to their Philippine counterparts to find out is this, in fact, a time where we can have some constructive, productive conversations.”

      Obama stressed that the Filipino people were “some of our closest friends and allies, and the Philippines is a treaty ally of ours.”

      But he said he wanted to make sure “that if I’m having a meeting that it’s actually productive and we’re getting something done.”

    • Michael Levitan, Brian Wilson, and Bo Boudart

      Wilson recounts his transformation from Vietnam-War hawk to veteran to antiwar organizer…

    • The NSA’s British Base at the Heart of U.S. Targeted Killing

      Over the past decade, the documents show, the NSA has pioneered groundbreaking new spying programs at Menwith Hill to pinpoint the locations of suspected terrorists accessing the internet in remote parts of the world. The programs — with names such as GHOSTHUNTER and GHOSTWOLF — have provided support for conventional British and American military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. But they have also aided covert missions in countries where the U.S. has not declared war. NSA employees at Menwith Hill have collaborated on a project to help “eliminate” terrorism targets in Yemen, for example, where the U.S. has waged a controversial drone bombing campaign that has resulted in dozens of civilian deaths.

      The disclosures about Menwith Hill raise new questions about the extent of British complicity in U.S. drone strikes and other so-called targeted killing missions, which may in some cases have violated international laws or constituted war crimes. Successive U.K. governments have publicly stated that all activities at the base are carried out with the “full knowledge and consent” of British officials.

      The revelations are “yet another example of the unacceptable level of secrecy that surrounds U.K. involvement in the U.S. ‘targeted killing’ program,” Kat Craig, legal director of London-based human rights group Reprieve, told The Intercept.

      “It is now imperative that the prime minister comes clean about U.K. involvement in targeted killing,” Craig said, “to ensure that British personnel and resources are not implicated in illegal and immoral activities.”

      The British government’s Ministry of Defence, which handles media inquires related to Menwith Hill, declined to comment for this story.

    • Sowing the seeds of conflict in the Middle East

      British soldiers on guard at Jaffa Gate, Jerusalem, 1920. Matson Collection. Public Domain.Many people, understandably, are perplexed by the violence and disorder of the Middle East. They look at, say, the conflict in Syria and ask: how did it come to this?

      Part of the problem is that the media focus on the crowded foreground and neglect the all-important historical background – in particular, the formative period in the emergence of the modern Middle East, in the age of empire.

      To understand the conflicts and crises of today’s Middle East, we need to understand how it emerged in essentially its present form, in the half-century between 1917 and 1967. When the British left Egypt, 77 per cent of the population was illiterate, per capita income stood at £42 a year, and the life expectancy of an Egyptian male was 36.

      The region was shaped in important, and fateful, ways by the First World War and its aftermath. The Ottoman Empire, which had governed the Middle East for four hundred years, had taken the side of Germany. After its defeat, Britain and France divided the Arab portions of the empire between them. The post-war settlement left a legacy of deep mistrust – and unwittingly sowed the seeds of many of the conflicts of today, including the Israeli-Palestinian dispute, the Lebanon problem and the statelessness of the Kurds.

      Arabs who dreamt of independence felt betrayed when they found they had exchanged Turkish for European rule. ‘The ghost of the Peace Settlement,’ wrote the historian Albert Hourani, ‘has haunted Arab politics ever since.’

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • With ‘Time Running Out,’ G20 Fails on Fossil Fuel Subsidies

      ‘Handing out money to the fossil fuel industry is simply not compatible with the Paris agreement’

    • Indonesia team threatened with death for looking into fires, haze

      Dozens of Indonesian men, suspected of being hired by an oil palm plantation company, threatened to kill environmental investigators checking on fires on Sumatra island, the environment ministry said.

      The incident illustrates the difficulties Indonesia faces tackling the illegal burning of vegetation to clear land for palm oil and pulp and paper plantations that causes clouds of smoke every dry season, which at times blanket the region, raising fears for public health and air travel.

      The ministry said a group of up to 100 men detained seven investigators for about 12 hours on the weekend and threatened to burn them alive and dump their bodies in a river at an oil palm plantation in Rokan Hulu, Riau province.

      The team was following up on satellite images showing “hot spots,” or suspected fires, in a concession of PT Andika Permata Sawit Lestari (APSL) oil palm plantation company.

      There were “strong indications” the mob was deployed by the company, the ministry said in a statement.

      “With this incident, the investigation of PT APSL will become our top priority,” Environment Minister Siti Nurbaya said in the statement, referring to both suspected forest encroachment by the company and the detention of the team.

      “The environment ministry will investigate this and take strict action in accordance with the law,” she said.

    • Indonesia Condemns Palm Oil Firm’s Hostage-Taking Over Fires

      Indonesia’s minister of environment and forestry has condemned attempts by a palm oil company to stop an investigation into forest fires by taking ministry investigators hostage.

      A team of seven officials investigating wildfires was intercepted Friday and held by a group of captors believed to be mobilized by Andika Permata Sawit Lestari Ltd., a palm oil company operating in Riau province.

      Novrizal Tahar, a ministry spokesman, said Monday that the hostages were released early Saturday following negotiations involving police and local officials.

      The team initially found that more than 2,000 hectares (4,942 acres) of forest had been burned by workers of the company, according to a ministry statement Sunday.

      Following the negotiations, the team agreed to erase the files from their digital camera, except for pictures taken by a drone, the statement said.

      Siti Nurbaya, the minister of environment and forestry, said in the statement that the incident has encouraged her ministry to take stern actions against perpetrators of illegal forest burning and rogue corporations in accordance with the law.

    • Saudi Arabia’s oil industry has an overlooked risk
    • Russia, Saudi Arabia plan oil output task force

      Oil prices rose Monday after Russia and Saudi Arabia announced they would cooperate on stabilizing oil output.

      The two top oil-producing countries plan to hold a Russia-Saudi Arabia task force on oil and gas next month, the Russian and Saudi energy ministers Alexander Novak and Minister Khalid al-Falih announced Monday in a joint statement at the G-20 summit in China.

      Their countries “recognized the need to restrain an excessive volatility of the oil market” and agreed to act together “in order to stabilize the oil market,” they said in the statement.

  • Finance

    • Burning Man’s loving engine powered by wealth, privilege

      As I fumbled for a $20 bill to buy ice, my wallet felt unexpectedly foreign.

      I’d been in Burning Man’s temporary city for nearly a week and it was the first time I’d had to pay for anything.

      That’s a big part of this whole experience: Decommodification.

      In other words, you basically can’t buy anything here. This isn’t a barter economy, either.

      Instead, the 70,000 folks here just give you things. Sweaty naked hugs? Yes (but no thanks). French toast made with challah bread flown in fresh from Berkeley? Absolutely. The best Moscow mule you’ve ever had? Definitely. Free airplane rides? No problem.

    • Obama Needs to Take TPP Off the Table
    • The ITT Fraud: For-Profit Education and the Crisis of the Commons

      The rapid decline of the ITT for profit-college may represent a pivotal moment in modern history, as seen in rising challenges to predatory capitalism. ITT is in deep trouble, subject to numerous lawsuits, from the Securities and Exchange Commission and Consumer Finance and Protection Bureau (CFPB) for defrauding students. The con that is for-profit education is finally being exposed, and these “higher learning” institutions are increasingly recognized for their rapacious treatment of students. Within this context, the Wall Street Journal seeks to reframe the attack on ITT as the work of the big, bad government, which is committed to stifling the liberties inherent in private enterprise. Contrary to the paper’s propaganda, however, the narrative of for-profit colleges as a beleaguered David facing the onslaught of a brutal government Goliath bears little resemblance to reality.

      In a recent piece in their “Review and Outlook” section titled “Obama’s For-Profit Execution,” the Journal attacks the Obama administration for trying to “kill a company without proving a single allegation” in court. The paper laments the Department of Education for requiring ITT to increase its letter of credit from 10 percent to 20 percent, in light of the possibility that the corporation will lose its accreditation in the near future. A letter of credit refers to the collateral a for-profit institution must maintain to assure that it can pay back money owed to the federal government in the case of bankruptcy, which may be right around the corner for the ailing college

    • Reagan Sold Your Future, Trump Will Too

      Two generations ago, many white working-class Democrats bought into Ronald Reagan’s promise of a better nation. Eager for “morning in America” — and swayed by fear that advances for black people would come at their expense — they didn’t see that the shadow of a long sunset was creeping over their lives.

      Because the GOP had another, darker agenda. One that didn’t include them.

      Reagan Democrats were left with a president who blamed and criticized people of color, while billionaires got to enjoy a president who helped them grab the lion’s share of America’s wealth.

      Today, Donald Trump is singing the same song, promising salvation and blaming immigrants, blacks, and Muslims for America’s woes. And if enough white men join the chorus, they may doom themselves to another decade of declining economic opportunity.

    • Waiting for Brexit – a note on contentions and biases

      By way of background: until the referendum vote a couple or so months ago, I never expected or wanted to write much about European Union issues.

      I had done a couple of posts at the FT about the referendum before the vote: here I explained why the referendum was not legally binding and here I contended that the referendum was unnecessary.

      But I did not expect ever to write any more than this on the topic: I assumed, like many people, that Remain would win and Cameron would get away with his political folly.

      Then Remain lost and Leave won, and a spectacular political-legal-policy mess was created.

      And, I am afraid, I found this mess fascinating.

      I still do.

    • The Problem With Tax and Spend Politicians

      If we want more war, more unemployment, a new recession, and bursting bubbles that drive financial instability, vote for those Republican incumbents, many of whom gave us the radically wrong invasion of Iraq and the daily hemorrhage of Pentagon contracts that produce record deficits and starve domestic budgets.

    • Apple and Ireland: Partners in Crime

      Underneath the sleek design there’s nothing but sleaze. And behind the blarney there’s sinister bullshit. No wonder they understand each other and have been working harmoniously together since 1991. Despite the ultramodern technology and the trendy little economy – Apple and Ireland are nothing but pirates attempting to pillage as much as they can from the global community.

      All was revealed in Brussels on Tuesday when the EU Competition Commissioner, Margrethe Vestager, nailed the corporation and the country to the wall of shame. After investigating Apple’s tax arrangements in Ireland Vestager concluded that Dublin is breaking EU rules by giving state aid to Apple – one of the richest corporations in the world (it’s value is not far off a trillion dollars).

      The state aid in question is a tax arrangement that allows Apple to avoid paying international tax. The trick is the use of a shell company that is based in Ireland but which is officially “stateless”. By directing all the money it makes outside the US into it’s “Irish” shell company Apple – thanks to the Irish government – walks away with a tax rate of “0.005%”. That is: apart from the token amount it pays to the Irish government at the usual 12.5% rate – Apple walks away with everything it can get it’s hands on. But since this special tax package is offered “only” to Apple the EU judged it to be a breach of it’s competition rules.

    • TTIP Is on the Floor, the Referee Is Counting Down…

      We’ve had an incredible victory this week. Some of the leading proponents of the EU-US corporate trade deal, known as TTIP, have said that the deal is dead.

      We would never have got to this position without the tremendous mobilisation across Europe over the last 3 years. This has been one of the most significant movements in recent European history.

    • Obama still thinks Pacific trade deal can pass Congress

      President Barack Obama expressed renewed optimism that his trade pact with Pacific Rim nations would still be approved by Congress, despite widespread political opposition that has left the 12-nation deal all but dead.

      Both Democrats and Republicans have soured on the Trans-Pacific Partnership as overseas trade has emerged as a campaign scapegoat for all that remains wrong in the shifting U.S. economy. Hopes for passage by the end of Obama’s term have largely faded.

    • Paul Ryan Says the Catholic Charity Model Is the Solution to Poverty. Catholics Disagree.

      Earlier this week, Speaker Paul Ryan and Senator Ron Johnson, both of Wisconsin, penned an op-ed stating—once again—their belief that charity and individual responsibility are the key to fighting poverty.

      “This is how you fight poverty: person to person,” they write.

      To illustrate their point, they tell the story of The Joseph Project, a job assistance program run by the Greater Praise Church of God in Christ in Milwaukee. Ryan and Johnson praise The Joseph Project for providing vans that drive Milwaukeeans to Sheboygan County, where they can earn $15 an hour working a factory job. In Milwaukee, by contrast, these workers would likely earn just $8 or $9 an hour. The drive is an hour commute each way, but Ryan and Johnson assert: “That van represents the difference between poverty and opportunity.”

      While it’s important that The Joseph Project is assisting these folks, it’s disingenuous for the Speaker and the Senator to lift up this kind of program as the key to fighting poverty—and even a justification for overhauling our safety net.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Trudeau’s fading relationship with Canadian labour

      Justin Trudeau’s government started well, moving swiftly to repeal anti-union legislation in bills C-377 and C-525. Ushered in during the Harper years, the bills implemented legislation that made it harder for workers to unionize, and forced unions to disclose detailed financial information about activities like political lobbying and donations.

      Public sector unions also applauded the decision to repeal Bill C-59, which enabled the government to bypass the collective bargaining process and impose new sick leave rules on the public service.

      Unfortunately, the strong start from the Liberals failed to carry through into the rest of the year, with little movement seen at the public sector union bargaining tables, and the repeal of Bill C-4 yet to tabled formally in Parliament. Trudeau said last month at the Unifor national convention the government planned to introduce repeal legislation for the bill this fall.

      Under Bill C-4 rules, bargaining is heavily skewed in favour of the government. The legislation introduced a raft of anti-union measures impacting contract negotiations that include enabling the government to decide which unions can go to arbitration and which ones are allowed to strike, and skewing the arbitration route in favour of pro-government settlement offers.

    • Hillary Clinton, Servergate, and the Steve Martin Defense

      One possibility is that Clinton is a lying felon who, either intentionally or with reckless negligence, compromised classified information which was entrusted to her care, and who knew she could successfully play the “I forgot card” to forestall prosecution because she is Hillary Clinton.

      The other possibility is that Clinton suffers from a traumatic brain injury which negatively affects her ability to remember important things. Things like, say, “when meeting with the Russian ambassador, don’t let him play with the briefcase that contains the nuclear strike codes.”

    • The United States: Proud Sponsor of Democracy Propaganda

      Consumers are familiar with the term, sponsored by. Someone put up some scratch and in turn gets the right to sell their wares. It’s a business deal. We’ve seen the word “sponsor”, in this sense, prefaced by another word, like “official”, or “proud”. Official sponsor means something like…actually it doesn’t mean anything beyond what sponsor means. It’s merely trying to sound important. Now proud sponsor means something like…no, actually there’s no content to it either but it seems to be trying to puff up the sponsor. What do we really care about how proud they are of, what, to sell us something?

      Words can sometimes mean nothing. How about these? Do you think your choice of candidate is “honest and trustworthy”? This is a popular subject in the upcoming presidential election. A Google search yields about 350,000 results from the four words, Trump, Clinton, honest, trustworthy. It should be more though.

      A Google search for the three words — advertising, honest, trustworthy — yields over four million results. But we still fall hook, line, and sinker for advertising’s inaccuracy, exaggeration, misdirection, manipulation, exploitation, lies of omission and outright lies. It works, and works so wonderfully that it is the engine for consumer mass commercialization. We’re a great country as long as we keep shopping, this taking a little liberty with a line from one G.W. Bush.

      Politicians no more have to tell the truth than advertisers do. That’s not their job. They’re in sales and, as such, occupy the lowest rung in Washington. Marlon Brando once said that actors are the lowest rung in Hollywood. Same thing. Both get pushed out front where they act as instruments of those with permanence in the establishment structure. At best, they become part of the structure.

    • The US Election: an Exercise in Mendacity

      Big Daddy might have been talking about the current U.S. presidential election, which currently wraps the nation in a putrid bubble that can be smelled around the planet. To call it a democratic process would surely be mendacious.

      Leave aside the fact that bourgeois elections are generally structured in such a way as to screw over the 99%. Polls during the primaries consistently indicated that Bernie Sanders led either Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump in voter support. But devious rules and manipulations, and the now-revealed skewing of the primary process by the DNC, and the solid backing of the news networks deliberately downplaying Clinton’s negatives while belittling Sanders, delivered the convention vote to the former secretary of state.

      Meanwhile Trump became Republican nominee because the mainstream media for months followed a strategy of simultaneously treating his candidacy as a joke but then cutting to coverage of his every utterance (as “breaking news”) even though he just repeated his same old tired, vapid, solipsistic rant that was anything but news. At the same time, they ignored Sanders’ speeches, or at least failed to convey their content, as reporters merely covered Sanders events as curious gatherings of enthusiastic youth. In that way Trump was able to reach his base; pick off, one by one, his GOP rivals; and gradually win polite treatment as a respectable candidate.

      This was not a case of Wall Street pouring money into the candidate’s coffers thus determining the outcome. (Look how little good Jeb Bush’s war chest did him!) It was a case of the bourgeois media determining that the broadcast of Trump’s flow-of-conscious narcissistic diatribes drew in viewers and of course sold the products advertised one out of every four minutes you watch TV. (Ultimately in this system the advertisers decide what constitutes “truth” on TV.)

      We know that Hillary Clinton lied. She obviously did when she told Congress she had never forwarded emails marked classified from her personal email through her personal, unauthorized server. The FBI has made this very clear. While this particular sin is not a concern for me (I am perfectly happy when officials of mendacious governments reveal their dishonesty through lack of caution) it’s a clear that the candidate is (as her rival charges) “crooked.” And she didn’t, as she told Congress, just have one cell phone; she had 13 while secretary of state and had her minions smash at least two with hammers for some reason. And she did email her daughter Chelsea the very day of the Benghazi attack in 2012 that the attackers were “an Al Queda-like group” (notice the misspelling) while the State Department was instructed to blame the attack on a mob enraged over a dumb Islamophobic Youtube video.

    • Jill Stein Doesn’t Want to ‘Whitewash Our Dialogue’ When It Comes to Race (Video)

      This week, Green Party presidential nominee Jill Stein sat down with Truthdig for a live conversation streamed to our Facebook page. Stein and the Truthdig staff discussed mainstream-media bias, Stein’s political qualifications and the future of the Supreme Court.

      A critical moment in the conversation occurred when Stein addressed comments made by her running mate, Ajamu Baraka. Earlier this month, Baraka incited controversy when he labeled President Obama an “Uncle Tom” president—racially charged language Baraka continues to support.

      Stein has been forced to address Baraka’s comment and the ensuing conflict. In a CNN town hall earlier this month, she refused to condemn his remarks. “I understand Ajamu’s passion, his frustration and his struggle,” she said. “I think we have all been guilty of using some language that doesn’t play well as a sound bite.”

    • Green party’s Jill Stein argues right to appear at presidential debates

      Stein appeared on Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace, who quizzed her about how realistic her proposals and support was, apropos a recent Washington Post editorial. After a meeting with Stein, the newspaper’s editorial board criticized her declared she was “spinning up a fairy tale – an appealing fairy tale to some, but still a fairy tale”.

      The board criticized the feasibility of her plans to end all coal, oil, gasoline and nuclear energy by 2030, her call to reconsider alliances with Nato members and a guaranteed federal job for all Americans, saying her “ideas are poorly formed and wildly impractical”.

      “I think they called me actually a fairy tale campaign, to which I would answer, in fact, we are living with a couple of nightmare campaigns right now that the American people object to at absolutely unprecedented levels,” Stein told Fox on Sunday.

    • Campaign 2016: Populism vs. Establishment

      Establishment as a concept has gotten a lot of use and abuse in the 2016 presidential election campaign. From the start of his race in the Republican primaries, Donald Trump denounced the political Establishment as a bunch of stuffed shirts, elitists who are out of touch with the voting public. They are looking after their own interests at home and abroad, let the public be damned, he said.

      The line-up of mealy-mouthed opponents whom Trump faced in debates, starting with Jeb Bush, served as exemplary targets of the longstanding indignation against the powers-that-be, an animosity felt by not only Tea Party adherents but by the majority of rank-and-file party members, which is why Trump did so well.

    • Hillary Threatens Russia With War – Neocon Media Doesn’t Even Notice (Video)

      Paul Joseph Watson is on a roll lately.

      His commentary is spot-on regarding the media giving Hillary a free pass for out-of-control Russia-bating, Russia bashing, and basically, irresponsible war-mongering.

      It is going to backfire badly on her.

    • This Guardian Piece Touting Bill Gates’ Education Investment Brought to You by Bill Gates

      What the piece failed to note—other than the fact that Rhee’s tenure left DC’s schools “worse by almost every conceivable measure” (Truthout, 10/23/13)—is that multi-billionaire Bill Gates is both the major investor of the company administering the Liberian education overhaul and the principal of the Gates Foundation, sponsor of the Guardian’s Global Development vertical, where the story appeared.

      The story clearly labels the Gates Foundation as its sponsor. What it never mentioned is that Bill Gates is a major investor of the firm at the heart of the story, Bridge Academies International, having pitched in, along with Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg and eBay co-founder Pierre Omidyar, $100 million for the “education startup.”


      The Guardian claims its Global Development vertical, launched in 2011, is “editorially independent of any sponsorship.” According to its most recent tax filings in 2014, the Gates Foundation has an on-going $5.69 million grant to Guardian News Media Limited.

      The Guardian has run other puff pieces on the Gates Foundation in this vertical, such as “Gates Foundation Annual Letter: What Do You Think of Their Vision?” (1/22/15), which is basically an investment letter, along with “Melinda Gates Hits Out at ‘War on Women’ on Eve of Summit” (7/7/12) and “Bill Gates: Digital Learning Will Revolutionize Education in Global South” (1/22/15).

      FAIR has written for years about how Gates’ investment tentacles influence the media. He’s done softball interviews pushing common core with ABC (3/18/14), helped bankroll charter school reporting at the LA Times (8/24/15), funded the talking heads behind Race to the Top (9/1/10).

      The Gates Foundation gives grants in the hundreds of thousands and often millions to such media organizations as NBCUniversal, Al Jazeera, BBC, Viacom (CBS) and Participant Media (the producer of pro-charter school documentary Waiting for Superman). Both Gates and the Gates Foundation are sizable shareholders in Comcast, which is the primary investor in Buzzfeed and Vox, as well the parent corporation of MSNBC and NBC News–the latter of which teamed up with Gates and other noted education experts like Exxon and University of Phoenix Online for the week-long charter school commercial “Education Week”.


      His enormous wealth and the reach of media parent corporations seem to exempt Gates from routine disclosure requirements. He was offered up as an education expert in the pro-charter Waiting for Superman, without any mention of the fact that he donated at least $2 million to the film and had a media partnership with its distributor, Viacom. He is given softball interviews in Comcast-backed Vox without disclosure that he’s a major Comcast investor. Because his stake in media companies is laundered enough times, it’s assumed not to merit mention.

      In the case of the Guardian, Gates effectively owns an entire vertical, so when one of his investments is written up, one doesn’t notice the conflict of interest—like a fish doesn’t notice water. Because his influence is everywhere, it appears to be nowhere.

    • Donald Trump Once Wanted Third Parties in Presidential Debates, But Not Now

      The three presidential debates and sole vice presidential debate will likely exclude third parties, and GOP nominee Donald Trump is just fine with that.

      “I’d rather have head to head and right now they’re not getting any numbers,” Trump told The Washington Post in August, saying he wanted to debate Democrat Hillary Clinton and exclude the Green Party’s Jill Stein and Libertarian Gary Johnson.

      But when Trump himself was slated to be excluded from the debate stage, he had a different opinion.

      In January of 2000, the Reform Party held a press conference that, among other things, discussed the exclusion of third-party candidates from the presidential debates. Then-Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura, one of the party’s few endorsed candidates to hold a major office, denounced the exclusion as “despicable.”

      Ventura was joined by Trump, who was at the time was considering running for president on the Reform Party ticket.

    • Jill Stein Has a New Political Rap Anthem Called ‘Power to the People’

      The Jill Stein campaign has a new anthem. The political rap song by Kor Element is called “Power to the People,” or “Fall in Line.”

      Kor is a self-described “world poet” and “hip-hop healer,” and he unveiled the song at a Stein rally Wednesday at Bernie’s Coffee Shop, at Wilshire Boulevard and Fairfax Avenue in Los Angeles. The L.A. landmark, formerly Johnnie’s Coffee Shop, took on a new role as Bernie Sanders headquarters during the presidential primary season.

    • Wingnut Week In Review: Hispanic Advisers To Trump, “We Quit!”

      Donald Trump reverted to type with his immigration speech, delivered shortly after his visit to Mexico. After flirting with “softening” his position, the old Trump-style xenophobia was a hit with some, not with others.

      Hispanic Advisors to Trump, We Quit!

      It may have come as a surprise to Trump, a guy who loves to fire people, when half of his Hispanic Advisory Board quit after his immigration speech. It came as an even bigger surprise to the rest of us that Trump even had any Latino supporters at this point. “We decided to make a big U-turn to see if we could make him change. We thought we were moving in the right direction,” said Alfonso Aguilar, the president of the Latino Partnership for Conservative Principles, “we’re disappointed. We feel misled.”

    • Donald Trump doubles down on deportation plan

      Anticipation that Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump might moderate his position on immigration in a long-awaited “pivot” to the general election was extinguished on August 31 when he laid out his 10-point immigration plan in a fiery speech in Arizona.

      Instead of a more compassionate and humane platform, he reverted to his fulminating and nativist rhetoric, vowing to deport two million “criminal aliens” immediately and rejecting any path towards legalisation for the nation’s estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants, who would have to return to their home country and wait their turn in the long immigration queue.

      It was unclear how aggressively Trump would pursue law-abiding immigrants, though they would be pushed further into the shadows, including those brought to the country as children who have never known another home.

    • Trump vs. Clinton: 2016’s Race to the Bottom

      She’s an ethically challenged career politician whose key to survival is secrecy and lies. An ever-calculating, power-hungry favor-trader who lacks integrity and dodges the press. And you definitely can’t trust her.

      He’s a boorish bigot who has the temperament of a “drunk uncle.” An egomaniacal brute who favors insults and shuns intellectual rigor. A rudderless risk that’s too unnerving to take.

      These are the dark but widely held perceptions of the two major party candidates for president as the campaign for the White House turns into the fall homestretch heading out of this Labor Day weekend.

      For many exasperated Americans, the choice between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton comes down to weighing “crazy” against “crooked.”

      And it’s that type of low-brow, gutterball oratory that’s anticipated to continue dominating the final 60-day sprint to Nov. 8.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • Ailes Hires Lawyer for Possible NY Mag Lawsuit [Ed: original behind paywall]

      Former Fox News chief executive Roger Ailes has hired Charles Harder, a libel lawyer who recently represented Hulk Hogan in his case against Gawker and is now representing Melania Trump in her suit against the Daily Mail, for a possible lawsuit against New York Magazine and one of its reporters, Gabriel Sherman. According to the Financial Times, Harder already contacted the magazine about Sherman, who has been a thorn in Ailes’ side for years and has recently revealed embarrassing items surrounding sexual harassment allegations against the ousted Fox News chief. It is not yet known whether Ailes will sue NY Mag or Sherman. The news outlet defended Sherman’s “very carefully reported” stories.

    • Facebook Is Censoring Science and Journalism

      One might have thought that the recent allegations by former employees that Facebook was manipulating its trending-topics feed to suppress news stories that appeal to conservatives would make the social-media behemoth tread more carefully. Apparently, though, it did not learn a lesson from the ensuing fallout. Facebook is now censoring science pages, journalists, and groups seeking social support.

      Stephan Neidenbach, founder of the page “We Love GMOs and Vaccines” (WLGV) and one of the authors of this article, was surprised to find that his page had been removed by Facebook censors. His page is dedicated to “promoting biotechnology and exposing those who wish to demonize it.” Such scientific chest-thumping offended a cadre of anti-GMO and anti-vaccine activists who complained to Facebook. Despite the fact that no policies were violated, the company acquiesced to their demands and deactivated the page. To add insult to injury, Neidenbach was subsequently banned from the platform for 30 days.

      His story is not unique. Many other groups, including journalists, have found themselves targeted for arbitrary and bureaucratically inflexible reasons. Facebook banned journalist Laurie Penny for violating its “real name” policy — she had used a pseudonym to avoid cyberbullying and other threats. The author of The Economist blog Democracy in America reported that he was banned for posting a photo that contained nudity in the distant background but that Facebook did not ban the genocidal page Death to Israel. On the other hand, FB removed a post by Jerry Coyne that was critical of Islam.

    • Parody and free use in Germany: Federal Court of Justice decides first parody case after Deckmyn

      But let’s back up and start with a quick look at what exactly the CJEU decided in Deckmyn. Most importantly, the Court declared that a parody under Art. 5(3)(k) InfoSoc directive only has to meet two conditions: “first, to evoke an existing work while being noticeably different from it, and, secondly, to constitute an expression of humour or mockery.”

      The Court then went on to explain that it is necessary to strike a fair balance between “the interests and rights” of the rights holders on the one hand, and “the freedom of expression of the user of a protected work” on the other hand. This, according to the CJEU, requires national courts to take “all the circumstances of the case” into account and decide whether a fair balance is struck or whether the rights holder has a legitimate interest to prohibit the use of his work for the parody. Because the case at hand in Deckmyn concerned a potentially racist message, the CJEU referred to the principle of non-discrimination based on race, colour and ethnic origin (which was defined in another European directive that is not related to copyright) and hinted that this may be a case where the rights holder has a legitimate interest to forbid the parodist’s use of his work.

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Clinical trial data, motivated intruders and freedom of information

      Is anonymised clinical trial data exempt from disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act? This was the question facing the UK Information Tribunal recently in Queen Mary University of London v (1) The Information Commissioner and (2) Alem Matthees, EA/2015/0269.

    • Secret Report: German Federal Intelligence Service BND Violates Laws And Constitution By The Dozen

      When Edward Snowden exposed the global system of mass surveillance by secret services three years ago, including the German foreign intelligence agency BND, the German government tried to shelf it off and declare the case closed. Only one small authority held out: Then-Commissioner for Data Protection Peter Schaar sent his staff on an inspection visit to the joint BND/NSA-station Bad Aibling in southern Germany, of which the BND feared a „very critical public“. The visit resulted in an elaborate „situation report“, but it’s classified „top secret“ and only accessible for few people.

      Additionally, the new Data Protection Commissioner Andrea Voßhoff produced a legal analysis of the findings and sent it to the Federal Intelligence Service coordinator in the German Chancellery and former BND president Gerhard Schindler. But this analysis is still classified „secret“ and our Freedom of Information-request has been denied. Media have raised the question „Secret, because embarrassing?“. We have now received this legal analysis and have published the full text of the document (in German).

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Once Again, America Seeks the Answer to The Labor Question

      The labor question is back. After World War II, it seemed to many that widespread unionization and collective bargaining had made sure that the people who did the work in this country were getting a fair share of the wealth they created, and that through their unions working people had a substantial voice in the way our country was governed.

      But we live in a different world today. Only 11 percent of all American workers belong to a union, and less than 7 percent of private-sector workers are organized. Workers’ incomes have been stagnant for decades, and whatever gains have occurred in family income have gone entirely to the top of the wage structure, driving runaway inequality. At the same time, working people feel increasingly alienated from and betrayed by our political system.

      It wasn’t so long ago that very serious people denied that the economy was failing working people in America. But overwhelming data on inequality and wage stagnation marshalled by such economists as Emmanuel Saez, Thomas Piketty and the team at the Economic Policy Institute have changed the narrative. Now defenders of the status quo of runaway inequality have shifted from saying there isn’t a problem to saying that, while there is a problem, NOTHING CAN BE DONE. The new line from the very serious people is that runaway inequality and stagnant wages are somehow the result of the unstoppable natural forces of technological change and globalization.

    • A Labor Day Parade for Hillary Clinton and the 0.1 Percent in the Hamptons

      And for the low, low price of just $2,700, the junior set (under 16) among Clinton’s elite supporters at an August event were permitted to ask the candidate a very expensive question. For $10,000, they could join other family members to pose for a snapshot with the Democratic presidential contender.

    • Happy Labor Day! There Has Never Been a Middle Class Without Strong Unions

      The entire Republican Party and the ruling heights of the Democratic Party loathe unions. Yet they also claim they want to build a strong U.S. middle class.

      This makes no sense. Wanting to build a middle class while hating unions is like wanting to build a house while hating hammers.

      Sure, maybe hammers — like every tool humans have ever invented — aren’t 100 percent perfect. Maybe when you use a hammer you sometimes hit your thumb. But if you hate hammers and spend most of your time trying to destroy them, you’re never, ever going to build a house.

      Likewise, no country on earth has ever created a strong middle class without strong unions. If you genuinely want the U.S. to have a strong middle class again, that means you want lots of people in lots of unions.

    • Labor Day

      Labor Day—what is it? Perhaps not many Americans any longer know, so here is my explanation.


      As a consequence of jobs offshoring, industrial and manufacturing cities became semi-ghost towns with declining populations. Municipal and state governments, deprived of tax base, found themselves under duress to make pension payments. To avoid immediate bankruptcy, cities such as Chicago sold off public assets such as 75 years of parking meter revenues for a one time payment.

      The Democratic Party, which had been the countervailing power against the Republican business party, was deprived of union funding as the jobs that paid union dues were no longer in America. By moving production offshore, capitalists turned the Democrats into a second capitalist political party dependent on funding from the business sector.

      Today we have one party with two heads. The competition between the parties is about which party gets to be the whore for the capitalists for the next political term. As Democrats and Republicans swap the whore function back and forth, neither party has an incentive to do anything different.

    • ‘Invisibilizing the Workers Who Actually Do the Work’

      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 day 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 an attempt to appease workers more than 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 in 1894, including distant and disconnected owners, whose self-enriching, anti-worker policies are enabled and, if need be, enforced by government. We’ll be revisiting a few, we think, illuminating conversations about work and labor, and media coverage, this week on CounterSpin.

    • Thought is Dangerous to the USA

      I have been refused entry clearance to the USA to chair the presentation of the Sam Adams Award to CIA torture whistleblower John Kiriakou and to speak at the World Beyond War conference in Washington DC. Like millions of British passport holders I have frequently visited the USA before and never been refused entry clearance under the visa waiver programme.

    • Can We Please Get Rid of the Pledge?

      The Pledge of Allegiance is not an expression of patriotism. It is a loyalty oath that one normally associates with totalitarian regimes. People who love freedom, should be appalled by the idea our children are being coerced to stand and declare their support for the state. This is the worst form of indoctrination and it is completely anathema to the principals articulated in the US Constitution and the Bill of Rights. I cannot imagine outspoken libertarians like Thomas Jefferson or Tom Paine ever proclaiming their loyalty to the state when they correctly saw the state as the greatest threat to individual freedom. Which it is.

    • Taking a Knee for Peace: Recalling the Veterans Who Sat

      It was my own moment of reckoning—stand and salute for the Star Spangled Banner or sit? The moment returns in memory, brought back by the current flap involving Colin Kaepernick’s refusal to stand for the National Anthem. Kaepernick is a quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers football team who did not stand for the playing of the Star Spangled Banner before the start of the 49ers August 26 game against the Green Bay Packers. The next week vs. the San Diego Chargers, he sat again.

      My own first protest sit-down made was indelibly set—Fort Lewis Army Base in February, 1970—and the stakes—retention in the Army as a draftee, if not reassignment to Vietnam etched it in memory. But back to the Kaepernick story.

      Kaepernick says he is “not going to stand up and show support for a country that oppresses black people and people of color.” The reaction to his protest has been mixed with most, and the loudest, voices expressing opposition. Kaepernick’s supporters are fewer in number but count among themselves some fellow athletes.

    • Colin Kaepernick and American Freedom: The Quarterback’s Protest Exemplifies What Our Nation Stands For

      “We wonder why our country is in the toilet?!” Thus tweeted former pro baseball player Aubrey Huff, condemning Colin Kaepernick after the San Francisco 49ers quarterback refused to stand during the national anthem at a preseason game last week.

      But Huff has it exactly backward. The Kaepernick controversy shows what is truly great about America: our shared commitment to free expression.

      Yes, critics across the blogosphere have denounced Kaepernick’s conduct as an insult to the nation and its armed forces. They also slammed subsequent comments by Kaepernick, who is biracial, about the experiences of people of color, whom he said are denied “freedom and justice” in the United States.

    • Troubling Origins of ‘The Star-Spangled Banner’

      San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick refuses to stand for the national anthem in protest against U.S. oppression of “black people and people of color,” a concern underscored by the origins of “The Star-Spangled Banner,” writes Sam Husseini.


      I actually first learned of the racism underlying the national anthem from Alex Cockburn’s 1987 book Corruptions of Empire, which features a splendid cover.

      Note to illustration on the front of jacket: In August 1814, a British raiding party led by Admiral Sir George Cockburn launched an attack on Washington. They set fire to the Capitol, then proceeded to the White House and, before setting fire to it, consumed a meal set out by Dolly Madison which had been abandoned by the fugitive President and his family. Cockburn next proceeded to the offices of The National Intelligence to avenge himself on the press which had abused him. He ordered his men to destroy the paper’s printing types, saying ‘Be sure that all the Cs are destroyed so that the rascals cannot any longer abuse my name’.

      Cockburn then laid siege to Baltimore, the unsuccessful fusillades prompting the composition of ‘The Star Spangled Banner’, whose reference to ‘the hireling and slave’ in the British force alludes, as Robin Blackburn points out in The Overthrow of Colonial Slavery, to the fact that Cockburn had offered freedom to all slaves who would join him in his attacks of 1813 and 1814. According to a British report these slaves conducted themselves very well and ‘were uniformly volunteers for the Station where they might expect to meet their former masters.’ Some of these black recruits were in the party that burned the White House.

    • The Trump Supporter Running Hungary Is Building a Wall to Keep Muslims Out

      Having successfully hogged the media spotlight for a day with his surprise trip to Mexico City this week, Donald Trump might now be scanning the globe for another foreign capital to visit. If so, don’t be surprised to see Trump Force One landing soon in Budapest, and being greeted warmly by Hungary’s prime minister, Viktor Orban.

      Twice in recent weeks, Orban has effectively endorsed Trump, praising the American’s anti-immigrant rhetoric, aimed particularly at Muslims, as in keeping with the Hungarian leader’s own efforts to seal his country’s southern border with a wall and to block the resettlement of Syrian refugees in order “to keep Europe Christian.”

      Hungary is even holding a Brexit-inspired referendum on immigration policy next month, which will most likely give Orban’s government a mandate to reject the European Union’s plan to compel the country to accept about 1,200 refugees. And last week, as the Hungarian journalist Szabolcs Panyi noted, the prime minister announced plans to build “a more massive defense system” on Hungary’s border with Serbia to reinforce the tall fence erected last year to block migrants seeking refuge from war and poverty.

    • Behind the Russian-Israeli Detente

      Even as Official Washington gears up for a lucrative New Cold War with Russia, America’s close “ally” Israel is finding common ground with Moscow that complicates U.S. hostility, as Zach Battat explains.

    • Dakota Access Pipeline Company Attacks Protesters With Dogs and Mace

      The ongoing Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) protests were hit with violence on Saturday, as private security forces reportedly hired by the pipeline builders descended on the Native American activists with pepper spray and dogs that bit and threatened the protesters.

    • ‘Is That Not Genocide?’ Pipeline Co. Bulldozing Burial Sites Prompts Emergency Motion

      In a last ditch attempt to protect burial and prayer sites, North Dakota’s Standing Rock Sioux late Sunday filed for a temporary restraining order to halt construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline, which they say has already caused “irreparable harm” to the sacred plots.

      “On Saturday, Dakota Access Pipeline and Energy Transfer Partners brazenly used bulldozers to destroy our burial sites, prayer sites and culturally significant artifacts,” said tribal chairman David Archambault II in a press statement.

      “They did this on a holiday weekend, one day after we filed court papers identifying these sacred sites,” Archambault added. “The desecration of these ancient places has already caused the Standing Rock Sioux irreparable harm. We’re asking the court to halt this path of destruction.”

      The emergency motion came after security forces hired by the pipeline company attacked Indigenous demonstrators with dogs and pepper spray on Saturday.

      In a Facebook post on Sunday, tribal member and activist Linda Black Elk said that it’s clear that the pipeline company is trying to “provoke” the peaceful resisters “to violence.”

    • Is Zionist a rude word?

      Words trail meanings beyond their formal definitions. Raymond Williams in his Key Words leads us through the dizzying journeys that words we thought we knew well have taken over their history. For example, who nowadays brings to mind what ‘Protestants’ were protesting about? Or take ‘fascism’. This theory and practice of authoritarian politics is now so entangled with its delivery of the holocaust that outside academia it is used as a swear word plain and simple.

      Words are deployed as moves in a strategic battle. This comes out in the titanic struggle between Alice and Humpty Dumpty. Humpty Dumpty says “When I use a word it means just what I choose it to mean”, but is challenged on this by Alice. ‘The question is,’ said Humpty Dumpty, ‘which is to be master — that’s all.’

      To Mary Davis (“Contestation between anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism”, openDemocracy, 27 July 2016) words are quite straight forward, Humpty-Dumpty-style. Contested words are deployed in unitary meanings of her choice. The result is of course a coherent story – of Zionism, the stages of development of Jewish settlement, the possible ways forward from the current impasse. However by failing to engage with the other competing versions of this story we get an account remarkable in its lack of nuance. News flash: Mary Davis wrestles with a straw person, and wins!

      Antisemitism has in recent months become an active concept in British politics for the first time in most living memories. Many, indeed most, of the allegations of antisemitism that have been made are about statements (not actions), and they are statements about Israel and about Zionism. I will turn to those allegations later, but first need to do some house cleaning around the subject of Zionism.

    • A (partial) defence of democracy

      The UK’s recent referendum on membership of the European Union has brought out an anti-democracy sentiment amongst many people. The People were asked a direct question, and they  —  we  —  gave the ‘wrong’ answer. So much for democracy, eh?

    • London City Airport flights disrupted after ‘Black Lives Matter’ protesters occupy runway

      Flights at London City Airport were disrupted this morning after a group of protesters occupied the runway.

      Nine demonstrators got onto the runway and chained themselves to a tripod at about 5.40am, police said.

      The protesters, who claim to be acting in support of Black Lives Matter UK, are said to have got onto the tarmac at the airport after using a boat to sail across the Royal Docks.

    • Hong Kongers ‘thumb their noses at Beijing’ with pro-independence votes

      In a gesture of defiance to Beijing, Hong Kongers have elected a raft of young former pro-democracy protesters, including several who advocate for independence for the city from China.
      Voters flew in from around the world, lined up until the early hours and turned out in record numbers to elect the city’s parliament Sunday.

      The poll for the Legislative Council is the first major election since hundreds of thousands took to the streets for the 2014 pro-democracy Umbrella Movement that shut down parts of the city — a special administrative region of China.

    • Hong Kong elections: anti-Beijing activists gain foothold in power

      Two years after tens of thousands of young people poured on to the streets of Hong Kong to issue an unprecedented call for political change, a new generation of pro-democracy activists has gained a foothold in power in the former British colony.

      At least four radical young activists who support greater political autonomy or outright independence from China claimed seats in Hong Kong’s 70-member legislative council, or Legco, after a record 2.2 million people went to the polls on Sunday.

      Those elected include Nathan Law, a 23-year-old from the recently founded Demosisto party who was one of the leaders of the 2014 “umbrella movement” protests.

      “I think it is a miracle,” the former student leader, whose party has called for a referendum on independence, told reporters after his victory.

      “This is absolutely unexpected – nobody imagined this would happen. Every day and night, our team used hard work and sweat to turn defeat into victory,” added Law, who received more than 50,000 votes.

    • ‘I’ve Become a Racist’: Migrant Wave Unleashes Danish Tensions Over Identity

      Johnny Christensen, a stout and silver-whiskered retired bank employee, always thought of himself as sympathetic to people fleeing war and welcoming to immigrants. But after more than 36,000 mostly Muslim asylum seekers poured into Denmark over the past two years, Mr. Christensen, 65, said, “I’ve become a racist.”

      He believes these new migrants are draining Denmark’s cherished social-welfare system but failing to adapt to its customs. “Just kick them out,” he said, unleashing a mighty kick at an imaginary target on a suburban sidewalk. “These Muslims want to keep their own culture, but we have our own rules here and everyone must follow them.”

      Denmark, a small and orderly nation with a progressive self-image, is built on a social covenant: In return for some of the world’s highest wages and benefits, people are expected to work hard and pay into the system. Newcomers must quickly learn Danish — and adapt to norms like keeping tidy gardens and riding bicycles.

    • Police unions are a public enemy

      Thanks the the contracts police unions get from local governments, it’s not only hard to get rid of violent, corrupt cops, but investigating them in the first place is made nigh-impossible. They beat, steal and grift with impunity. The New York Times’ editorial board says it’s time for legislators to rip up these agreements and force the rule of law on those who represent it.

    • When Police Unions Impede Justice

      Across the country, municipal governments have signed contracts with police unions including provisions that shield officers from punishment for brutal behavior as well as from legitimate complaints by the citizens they are supposed to serve.

      That may soon change, as public outrage over police killings of civilians is ratcheting up pressure on elected officials to radically revise police contracts that make it almost impossible to bring officers to justice.

      The most striking case in point is Chicago, which has been roiled by a police scandal stemming from a cover-up in the case of a 17-year-old named Laquan McDonald, who was executed by a police officer nearly two years ago.

      The Police Department first claimed that Mr. McDonald was brandishing a knife and moving toward officers when he was killed. A video — probably available to the city within hours of the shooting but not made public until last November, more than a year later — showed that Mr. McDonald was moving away from the cops when they shot him 16 times, and that the police were obviously lying.

    • U.S. Blocks Former British Ambassador From Entering America to Honor CIA Whistleblower

      craig murray

      The United States over the weekend denied travel to a former British ambassador, Craig Murray, who was also a British diplomat for some 30 years, and is the author of several books.

      Murray has stood twice for election to the House of Commons. He was “honored” by being thrown out of Uzbekistan by its repressive government after risking his life to expose appalling human rights abuses there. He is not a terrorist and is not a social media jihadi. He has no criminal record, no connection to drug smuggling, and does have a return ticket, a hotel reservation and ample funds to cover his expenses.

      He is however seen as a threat to the United States.

      Ambassador Murray was headed to the U.S. this week to be Master of Ceremonies at an award ceremony honoring John Kiriakou, the CIA torture whistleblower. Kiriakou was the only U.S. government official to go to jail in connection with the torture program, and all he did was help expose it to the media. The event is sponsored by Sam Adams Associates for Integrity in Intelligence (of which I am a member.)

    • ‘Angry, Snarling, Terrifying’: Trump Confirms Nightmarish Immigration Vision

      In a chilling speech on Wednesday night, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump doubled down on his anti-immigrant rhetoric, adopting a cutthroat tone as he reiterated his vow to deport millions of undocumented people and build a wall on the border with Mexico—which that country would pay for, of course.

      The vague, misleading, and divisive speech, lauded by the likes of right-wing pundit Ann Coulter and former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke, “was long on inflammatory rhetoric, and short on viable policy solutions,” Raul A. Reyes wrote in his analysis for NBC News.

    • Opinion: Trump’s Immigration Plan? Demonize Immigrants, Latinos — Again

      So much for that pivot. Despite speculation over a so-called “softening” on immigration policy, Donald Trump returned to true nativist form on Wednesday night with a speech laying out his ten-point plan for reforming our immigration system. Among his proposals were building a border wall, a new deportation task force, and a requirement that undocumented immigrants leave the country to apply for legal status. There will be no path to citizenship for the undocumented.

      Trump’s speech was long on inflammatory rhetoric, and short on viable policy solutions. He missed no opportunity to demonize immigrants, yet failed to address the issue at the heart of the immigration debate – what to do with the estimated 11 million undocumented people who are already here. Trump also revealed his ignorance about how our immigration system works.

    • Fear of a black and brown America

      Make America Great Again spells fear of a black and brown US, where racist rhetoric will graduate into racist policy.

    • In Post-Olympics Brazil, a Political Coup Is No Game

      The Olympic torch in Rio de Janeiro has been extinguished, and the global spotlight has left Brazil. In the shadow of the Games, an extraordinary event has taken place, largely ignored in the U.S. media: a coup d’etat against Brazil’s democratically elected president, Dilma Rousseff. Brazil is the fifth-most populous country in the world, with one of its largest economies. Like many Latin American nations, it suffered under a military dictatorship for decades, emerging as a young democracy only 30 years ago. This week’s coup was not carried out by the military, but by the Brazilian Senate. The effect is essentially the same: the president has been impeached, and an unpopular political opponent, Michel Temer, who represents that country’s wealthy elites, has assumed the presidency.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • Facebook’s satellite went up in smoke, but its developing world land grab goes on

      A rocket crashing into a satellite and cutting off the internet may sound somewhat like the start of an end-of-the-world blockbuster; surely such destruction, and lack of Wi-Fi, could only be a harbinger of doom?

      Fortunately, the scenario that played out last week was slightly less portentous. A SpaceX rocket, part of Elon Musk’s fevered attempts to eventually colonise Mars, exploded on Thursday as part of a failed pre-launch test fire, destroying a Facebook-owned satellite in the process.

      The satellite, which cost the company around £150m, was due to be used as part of Internet.org, a project designed to bring web connectivity to areas of the world with limited internet access. Free Basics, a program developed by Facebook with six internet service providers, is an “onramp to the internet”, designed to help those without the internet get online. Its latest iteration, in Nigeria, saw the launch of 85 free online services including healthcare offerings, job listings, education portals and, of course, Facebook itself.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Copyrights

      • Devs Rename Game to ‘DMCA’s Sky’ Following Nintendo Legal Threats

        As Nintendo continues to rid the world of fan-made games which dare to mention the company’s characters, one dev team has bitten back. Rather than completely back down, the people behind No Mario’s Sky have rebranded their platformer as DMCA’s Sky. Sadly, that couldn’t stop it being withdrawn from triannual game coding competition, Ludum Dare.

      • Swedish ISP Attacks Copyright Trolls, Over Trademark Infringement

        Swedish Internet service provider Bahnhof is launching a direct attack against Spridningskollen, the group that’s spearheading the copyright trolling efforts in Sweden. Bahnhof accuses the anti-piracy outfit of trademark infringement and demands the shutdown of its website.

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