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09.11.16

Links 11/9/2016: 20 Years of KDE, Budgie 10.2.7 Released

Posted in News Roundup at 5:44 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • issue #45: Zines, Kubernetes, Trojans, myLG, InfluxDB, hop & more!
  • HPE Boosts SUSE, Rootkit Targets Linux & More…

    Damn if the days aren’t already getting too short for this old soul who no longer feels comfortable driving after dark. This is made worse by the fact I live way out in the country — miles from nowhere, as they say — meaning I’m pretty much stuck in the house at night. The good news is, this means that these days I’m getting a lot of writing done.

    Now on to this weeks FOSS news…

    We’ll start with the good news. The Creative Commons has scored a victory in Austria. This started as one of those right versus left sort of stories, involving a left leaning film collective, Filmpiraten, and the far-right Freedom Party of Austria, or FPO. It seems that Filmpiraten posted a video to YouTube documenting protests against Akedemikerball, an annual event hosted by the FPO each year in Vienna that brings right wing leaders to Austria. Also, each year it brings thousands of protesters.

  • Server

    • IBM unveils new Linux-based servers to boost AI, deep learning

      IBM on Thursday revealed a series of new servers designed to help propel cognitive workloads and to drive greater data centre efficiency.

      Featuring a new chip, the Linux-based lineup incorporates innovations from the “OpenPOWER” community that deliver higher levels of performance and greater computing efficiency than available on any x86-based server.

  • Kernel Space

    • [Older] Linux is 25. Yay! Let’s celebrate with 25 stunning facts about Linux.
    • Memfd Transport Now Enabled By Default For PulseAudio

      With this summer’s PulseAudio 9.0 release was support for Memfd-based transport. That support is now enabled by default in time for PulseAudio 10.

      This feature is about using Memfd on modern versions of the Linux kernel as a transport / shared memory method in place of the existing POSIX SHM shared memory transport. Memfd has been around since Linux 3.17 and this transport method for PulseAudio should be more secure and modern — for allowing better sandboxing/container support, etc.

    • Graphics Stack

      • It’s Been Another Exciting Week Of RADV Development (Radeon Vulkan)

        The RADV open-source Radeon Vulkan driver continues to look promising and there’s been a lot more code being merged the past few days.

        Since last weekend when writing about RADV Radeon Vulkan Driver Continues Building Up Features Quickly, there have been 17 pages of commits landing in the code repository (Mesa semi-interesting branch) by David Airlie and Bas Nieuwenhuizen.

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

      • KDE Frameworks 5.26.0 Improves the Breeze Icons, Plasma Framework, and Sonnet

        Today, September 10, 2016, the KDE project announced the release of the KDE Frameworks 5.26.0 collection of over 70 add-on libraries for the Qt5 GUI toolkit.

      • KDE Frameworks 5.26 Released
      • KDE neon – Weak lighting

        KDE neon is an interesting project. If we ignore the world, it does bring some fresh new changes into the Plasma universe, with significant improvements but also a handful of bugs and glitches. If we expand our view to include all other distributions, the scintillating allure of neon begins to fade. It does not have any killer features that make it a worthy rival to other, well-established home players.

        The visual distinction from Kubuntu is a small one, the smartphone support is lacking, the media support can be slightly polished, the package manager is awful, the app layer thin, and you can’t really pimp the distro because the beauty framework is utterly broken. I did like that more stuff works than before, but it’s like priding yourself on getting the highest fail grade in the classroom. Overall hardware support, network excluded and resource utilizations are probably the only redeeming features, but even then, by a tiny margin. Which gets quickly drowned in the sea of bugs, errors, problems, and glitches. Samba is another sore point.

        At the end of the day, this distro is a cool test bed for what Plasma has in store, but it does not have the critical mass of goodies needed for any serious use. The recent wave of distros was pretty much awful, so you might be tempted to look at them, but no. Any old Ubuntu based on 14.04 is way better, and so is the new Fedora. CentOS 7, too. In the end, neon needs a lot more work before I can phrase the word recommended in association with its behavior. Overall, 5/10. But, compare it to the K-flavored Xerus, and there’s still hope. To be continued.

      • Project: Integrating Sentinel-2 data into Marble

        In conclusion the project has paved the groundwork for future efforts on Sentinel-2 data integration, which will lead to Marble Virtual Globe being the first in it’s kind to possess this quality data, it being open for users all around the world to create and develop with.

      • Embedded Notifications for Externally Modified Files

        In the past, KTextEditor notified the user about externally modified files with a modal dialog. Many users were annoyed by this behavior.

      • Kate & Akademy Awards 2016

        Dominik and me got the Akademy 2016 Award for our work on Kate and KTextEditor.

      • [Krita] Experimental OSX Build Available
      • Another Happy Birthday
      • Hello World

        I guess I should tell you all a little about myself. I learned C++ in high school computer science, but that was long ago. Since then, I have never stopped programming toys for myself and others. I have been a Linux user since around when I started in computer science and have used KDE as my main DE for just about the entire time. Around 2003, I switched to purely open source software. You see, I had always dabbled, but I just was not really ready to stop using the other proprietary operating systems. Then, in 2005, I started to become a fairly active member over at the Kubuntu forums. I started mostly doing it as a fun way to expand my knowledge base while helping others.

      • AtCore test
      • First Year As a Mentor
      • QtCon wrap up

        We had an incredible time in Berlin. First the training day by KDAB and then three conference days packed full with topics ranging from how to set up an open source organisation to fine tuning Qt graphics.

        Second. a shout out to the communities that we had the pleasure to work with to create QtCon, FSFE, KDE and VideoLAN, and of course to our partners KDAB, you guys rock!

        Last but definitely not least, Thank You obviously to all the volunteers from the different communities!

      • Day 6 at Akademy 2016
      • Back from Akademy
      • Wiki, what’s going on? (Part 14-Akademy Day3-4)
      • Akademy
      • Plasma 5.8: Per-screen Pagers

        The other day I wrote about the Pager improvements awaiting in Plasma 5.8. In the comments user btin re-raised the issue of limiting the Pager’s display to the screen it’s currently on, instead of being all-exclusive.

        At the time I wasn’t sure we could still sneak this in before feature freeze, but thanks to the screen-awareness of the new backend (which, to recap, is shared with the Task Manager and already needs to determine what screen a given window resides on), it turned out to be easy enough to do!

      • Kdenlive 16.08.1 released

        We are happy to announce a new dot release with some improvements and various fixes. We also celebrate some code contribution from Harald Albrecht (TheDive0) hoping to see more devs joining our team.

      • Akademy 2016 is over :(
      • New features in Krita 3.0.1
      • “20 Years of KDE” book released!
      • 20 Years of KDE

        A tour through the moments that marked the 20 years of community history, starting with the technologies that made possible its existence.

      • Happy 20 Years, KDE
    • GNOME Desktop/GTK

      • Spending GNOME’s privacy money

        In 2013, the GNOME Foundation ran a successful campaign that raised funds for enhancing privacy features in the GNOME desktop and application suite. Unfortunately, subsequent changes in the organization left GNOME without a clear plan for how best to use the earmarked funds, so they remain—untouched—in GNOME’s bank account. At GUADEC 2016 in Karlsruhe, Germany, the topic of how to utilize the money was revisited, and a plan has now begun to take shape.

      • Announcing Gtef, an incubator for GtkSourceView

        Gtef – the acronym for “GNOME Text Editor Framework” – is a new library that eases the development of GtkSourceView-based text editors and IDEs. It can serve as an incubator for some GtkSourceView features.

      • Wrap-up from this cycle of Outreachy

        Now that all interns have completed their work, I wanted to share a few final thoughts about this cycle of Outreachy. Hopefully, this post will also help us in future usability testing.

        This was my third time mentoring for Outreachy, but my first time with more than one intern at a time. As in previous cycles, I worked with GNOME to do usability testing. Allan Day and Jakub Steiner from the GNOME Design Team also pitched in with comments and advice to the interns when they were working on their tests and analysis.

      • GNOME 3.22 – Whats New | GNOME Files (Nautilus)
  • Distributions

    • Budgie 10.2.7 Released

      We’re thrilled to announce the release of Budgie 10.2.7, the last release in our 10.2 series that aims to resolve a multitude of issues as well as land some user experience improvements.

    • Solus 1.2.0.5 Released

      Today we are providing a minor update to Solus 1.2 in the form of Solus 1.2.0.5. This release enables us to address a multitude of issues that have since been resolved after the release of Solus 1.2…

    • This Week in Solus – Install #35
    • New Releases

    • Screenshots/Screencasts

      • LinuxScreenshots.org is closed.

        LinuxScreenshots.org is closed.

        An archive of all screenshot tours from this site have been made freely available to the community, which consists of 2300 releases from 580 distributions.

        You may download this archive for fun, or to start your own Linux screenshots website. Please help seed torrents.

    • Arch Family

    • OpenSUSE/SUSE

      • Trying out openSUSE Tumbleweed

        While distribution-hopping is common among newcomers to Linux, longtime users tend to settle into a distribution they like and stay put thereafter. In the end, Linux distributions are more alike than different, and one’s time is better spent getting real work done rather than looking for a shinier version of the operating system. Your editor, however, somehow never got that memo; that’s what comes from ignoring Twitter, perhaps. So there is a new distribution on the main desktop machine; this time around it’s openSUSE Tumbleweed.

        Most rational users simply want a desktop system that works, is secure, and, hopefully, isn’t too badly out of date. Tumbleweed is not intended for those users; instead, it is good for people who like to be on the leading edge with current versions of everything and who are not afraid of occasional breakage. It’s for users who like an occasional surprise from their operating system. That sounds like just the sort of distribution your editor actively seeks out.

        More to the point, Tumbleweed is a rolling distribution; rather than make regular releases that are months or years apart, the Tumbleweed developers update packages individually as new releases come out upstream. Unlike development distributions like Rawhide, Tumbleweed does not contain pre-release software. By waiting to ship a release until it has been declared stable upstream, Tumbleweed should be able to avoid the worst unpleasant surprises while keeping up with what the development community is doing.

      • Daimler AG Migrates its Mission Critical Servers to Suse Linux

        SUSE technologies are helping Daimler AG, the German automotive behemoth, to migrate a large proportion of its mission-critical servers from proprietary UNIX operating systems to ‘the open and flexible Linux platform’.

      • openSUSE Tumbleweed – Review of the Weeks 2016/36

        Another week with 4 snapshots has passed, sadly some issues managed to sneak in but, as you are used to by Tumbleweed already, we managed to resolve the issues on the mailing list in no time and made sure that upcoming snapshots get the fixes asap. The snapshots published were 0901, 0905, 0907 and 0908.

    • Red Hat Family

      • Finance

      • Fedora

        • The New Features Expected In DNF-2, Currently In Development

          DNF(Dandified YUM) is a relatively new package manager for Fedora , a community-supported Linux distribution. Referred to as the next generation YUM package manager, DNF was introduced in Fedora 18 and has ever since been the default package manager for this popular distribution.

        • PHP 5.5 is dead

          After PHP 5.4, and as announced, PHP version 5.5.38 was the last official release of PHP 5.5

          Which means that since version 5.6.25 and version 7.0.10 have been released, some security vulnerabilities are not, and won’t be, fixed by the PHP project.

    • Debian Family

      • Derivatives

        • Canonical/Ubuntu

          • Paramount Wipes “Infringing” Ubuntu Torrent From Google

            It’s no secret that copyright holders are trying to take down as much pirated content as they can, but targeting open source software is not something we see every day. Paramount Pictures recently sent a DMCA takedown to Google, listing a copy of the popular operating system Ubuntu. An honest mistake, perhaps, but a worrying one.

          • The first international UbuCon in Europe

            UbuCon Europe 2016 is the first conference dedicated to the European Ubuntu community. Look forward to two days full of talks, workshops, demos, exhibitions and (hopefully) great food! Social events in the evenings will give you the opportunity to meet fellow community members and visit some of Essen’s most beautiful sights!

          • [Older] Canonical certifies big software solutions at Facebook’s new lab

            Today at the OCP Technology Day, Facebook announced the grand opening of its new hardware lab space in Menlo Park to validate and certify software solutions and Canonical was one of the first to test its solutions are OCP compliant.

            At the new lab, enterprise and carrier-grade Big Software solutions were deployed including OpenStack Mitaka and Ubuntu Storage on OCP Leopard, Honey Badger, and Knox. These solutions were deployed to bare metal in time measured in minutes and hours instead of days or weeks due to the use of two key technologies: Juju and MAAS, both of which are tested and validated at Facebook’s new facilities.

          • Compiling Ardour on Ubuntu Linux from Source Code
          • Flavours and Variants

            • Design Team working on Spices website

              About a week ago, I decided to create a new team, dedicated to artwork, style and design for Linux Mint. The main goal of this team is to restyle our various websites, but also long term to work in coordination with the development team to make various aspects of our distribution more pleasing to the eye.

              Artists who recently helped with web design were invited to join, and the team now has 8 members.

              I’d like to thank Carlos Fernandez already for his involvement and Eran Gilo for the beautiful work he’s already produced.

            • Linux Mint 18 Cinnamon Edition : See What’s New

              Linux Mint 18 Cinnamon Edition is the latest version of Linux Mint 18 featuring the latest Cinnamon 3.0 as default desktop environment.

  • Devices/Embedded

Free Software/Open Source

  • The Sun gets it wrong, we’re here to help. [Ed: for context]

    Recently the Sun published an article by Ryan Sabey (@ryansabey), “UNION HACK Jeremy Corbyn’s digital democracy manifesto ‘would let foreign spooks rob UK’”. The post included several criticisms from government officials and pundits challenging the quality and security of open source software, cautioning readers, “sensitive data could be at risk under Labour leader’s plans.”

    Mr. Corbyn’s, “Digital Democracy Manifesto” calls for public bodies in the U.K. to, “encourage publicly funded software and hardware to be released under an Open Source license,” and “financially reward staff technicians who significantly contribute to Open Source projects”.

    Neil Doyle, who the Sun simply identified as an expert, warned, “cyber-criminals and foreign intelligence agencies would have a field day” under such an approach while, “private firms or individuals would be reluctant to get involved in public sector projects.”

    Adding further criticism was British MP Nigel Adams who said Mr. Corbyn’s initiative, “ignores the issue of Internet abuse” adding, “his shambolic policies could leave us open to malicious attack and put our national security at risk.”

  • Open source at the European Broadcasting Union/Eurovision

    Exactly ten years ago, motion graphics artist Jonas Hummelstrand posted a message on a web forum. It read: “In 15 minutes the Swedish election TV-show airs, and we’ll be outputting a lot of real-time graphics directly from Flash!” Jonas was excited. He stood at the cradle of something new, but he probably had no clue how big his baby would turn out to be.

    Jonas is the main person behind CasparCG, the open source professional graphics and video playout software developed by Swedish public broadcaster SVT. This year, a decade after its conception, CasparCG was used for the Eurovision Song Contest graphics, including all of the animated votes counting.

  • Yahoo! Open Sources Pulsar, a Pub/Sub Messaging Platform

    According to Yahoo!, Pulsar is a low latency Pub/Sub messaging system that can be scaled horizontally across multiple hosts and datacenters. Yahoo! has been using Pulsar in production for Mail, Finance, Gemini Ads, Sherpa, and Sports since Q2/2015. By making it open source, they hope it will be widely used by being integrated with other open source products. Yahoo! has deployed Pulsar in over ten datacenters, reaching over 100B msgs/day spread over 1.4 million topics with an average publish latency of less than 5ms. Pulsar comes with guaranteed delivery of messages and two persisted copies, automatic cursor management for message readers and cross-datacenter replication.

  • Penn researchers develop open-source software to infer evolutionary track of tumor metastasis

    Individual cells within a tumor are not all the same. This may sound like a modern medical truism, but it wasn’t very long ago that oncologists assumed that taking a single biopsy from a patient’s tumor would be an accurate reflection of the physiological and genetic make-up of the entire mass.

    Researchers have come to realize that cancer is a disease driven by the same “survival of the fitter” forces that Darwin proposed drove the evolution of life on Earth. In the case of tumors, however, individual cells are constantly evolving as a tumor’s stage advances. Mobile cancer cells causing metastasis are a deadly outcome of this process.

  • Open365 mail – You’ve got … something?

    Ladies, gentlemen, everyone else. Not that long ago, I reviewed Open365, a free, open-source, cloud-based productivity suite based on LibreOffice, with some nice spicy additions. I liked it. It’s a pretty decent product, with a lot of potential. But there’s still a lot more work to be done.

    The one aspect of the five-app combo you get in Open365 that I missed in the earlier article is the mail functionality. You have the three power programs – LibreOffice Writer, Calc and Impress – plus GIMP, with the mail client as the fifth element. Get the joke? Oh my. Well, it is time to right all past wrongs and give the final piece of the cloud suite its due review. Rhyme. Word.

  • Julia Reda, MEP: “Proprietary Software threatens Democracy”

    Julia Reda ended the QtCon, a conference for the Free Software community, with a closing keynote on, among other things, Free Software in the European Public Sector.

    Ms Reda, a member of the EU Parliament for the Pirate Party, explained how proprietary software, software that forbids users from studying and modifying it, has often left regulators in the dark, becoming a liability for and often a threat to the well-being and health of citizens.

    An example of this, she said, is the recent Dieselgate scandal, in which auto-mobile manufacturers installed software that cheated instruments that measured fumes in test environments, only to spew illegal amounts of toxic exhaust into the atmosphere the moment they went on the road.

    Ms Reda also explained how medical devices running proprietary software posed a health hazard for patients. She gave the example of a woman with a pacemaker who collapsed while climbing some stairs due to a bug in her device. Doctors and technicians had no way of diagnosing and correcting the problem as they did not have access to the code.

    Also worrying is the threat software with restrictive licenses pose to democracy itself. The trend of substituting traditional voting ballots with voting machines is especially worrying, because, as these machines are not considered a threat to national security, their software also goes unaudited and is, in fact, unauditable in most cases.

  • Events

    • LibreOffice Conference 2016

      It was the third big open source desktop conference we’ve managed to get to Brno (after GUADEC 2013 and Akademy 2014). 3 days of talks, 150 attendees from all over the world, 4 social events.

      The conference went pretty well from the organizational point of view. Feedback has been very positive so far. People liked the city, the venue (FIT BUT campus is really, really nice), the parties, and catering during the conference. TDF board even lifted Red Hat to the highest sponsorship level for the amount of work we did for the conference. The only major bummer we had was no online streaming. It’s quite easy to set it up with the university’s built-in video recording system, but the university didn’t allow it in the end. Nevertheless, we treated online streaming as nice-to-have. Video recordings are important to us and we’ll do our best to get them online as soon as possible.

    • Git microconference accepted into LPC 2016
    • Git Microconference Accepted into 2016 Linux Plumbers Conference

      The Linux kernel community has been using Git for more than a decade, but it is still under active development, with more than 2,000 non-merge git commits from almost 200 contributor over the past year. Rather than review this extensive history, this Micro Git Together instead focuses on what the next few years might bring. In addtion, Junio will present on the state of the Git Union, Josh Triplett will present on the git-series project, and Steve Rostedt will present “A Maze Of Git Scripts All Alike”, in which Steve puts forward the radical notion that common function in various maintainers’ scripts could be pulled into git itself. This should help lead into a festive discussion about the future of git.

    • Rumors of OpenOffice Demise Exaggerated

      LibreOffice spun out from OpenOffice in the aftermath of the Oracle/Sun acquisition. It was one of many projects including Hudson/Jenkins and MySQL/MariaDB that got forked. To the best my knowledge while all those forks have strong user bases and have become the default tools in their respective domains – the original projects persist.

    • Token-based authorship information from Git

      At LinuxCon North America 2016, Daniel German presented some research that he and others have done to extract more fine-grained authorship information from Git. Instead of the traditional line-based attribution for changes, they took things to the next level by looking at individual tokens in the source code and attributing changes to individuals. This kind of analysis may be helpful in establishing code provenance for copyright and other purposes.

      German, who is from the University of Victoria, worked on the project with Kate Stewart of the Linux Foundation and Bram Adams of Polytechnique Montréal. It was a “combination of research plus hacking”, he said, and the results were fascinating.

  • BSD

    • TrueOS vs. DragonFlyBSD vs. GhostBSD vs. FreeBSD vs. PacBSD Benchmarks

      For your viewing pleasure this weekend are benchmarks of TrueOS 20160831 (the rolling-release distribution formerly known as PC-BSD), DragonFlyBSD 4.6, GhostBSD 10.3, FreeBSD 11.0-RC2, and PacBSD 20160809 (formerly known as Arch BSD) all benchmarked from the same system! Plus for reference to the Linux numbers are Ubuntu 16.04.1 LTS and Clear Linux 10040 being compared to these BSDs on the same tests and hardware.

  • Licensing/Legal

    • GPL Time-bomb an interesting approach to #FOSS licensing

      In short I have put a time limit of 3 years to make money out of the product and if I am unable it is turned over to the world to use as they see fit. Even better, assuming searchcode server becomes a successful product I will be forced to continually improve it and upgrade if I want to keep a for sale version without there being an equivalent FOSS version around (which in theory could be maintained by the community). In short everyone wins from this arrangement, and I am not forced to rely on a support model to pay the bills which frankly only works when you have a large sales team.

      Here’s hoping this sort of licencing catches on as there are so many products out there that could benefit from it. If they take off the creators have an incentive to maintain and not milk their creation and those that become abandoned even up available for public use which I feel is a really fair way of licencing software.

    • The kernel community confronts GPL enforcement

      Some of the most important discussions associated with the annual Kernel Summit do not happen at the event itself; instead, they unfold prior to the summit on the planning mailing list. There is value in learning what developers feel needs to be talked about and, often, important issues can be resolved before the summit itself takes place. That list has just hosted (indeed, is still hosting as of this writing) a voluminous discussion on license enforcement that was described by some participants as being “pointless” or worse. But that discussion has served a valuable purpose: it has brought to the light a debate that has long festered under the surface, and it has clarified where some of the real disagreements lie.

      It all started when Karen Sandler, the executive director of the Software Freedom Conservancy (SFC), proposed a session on “GPL defense issues.” Interest in these issues is growing, she said, and it would be a good time to get the kernel community together for the purposes of information sharing and determining what community consensus exists, if any, on enforcement issues. It quickly became clear that some real differences of opinion exist though, in truth, the differences of opinion within the community may not be as large as they seem. Rather than attempt to cover the entire thread, this article will try to extract some of the most significant points from it.

  • Programming/Development

    • Moving to Pelican and GitHub pages

      I have decided to move to using GitHub pages and Pelican to create my person ‘hub’ on the Internet. I am still in the debate about moving some content over to the new hub, but have not made a decision yet.

Leftovers

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Marylanders face hefty rate increases for Obamacare

      The cost of health insurance plans offered under the Affordable Care Act will jump 20 percent or more next year under rates to be announced Friday by Maryland regulators.

      The CEO of Maryland’s largest insurer defended the hefty rate increases and said the federal law that expanded health insurance to most Americans needs to be changed if it is to remain sustainable.

      “We regret that such rate increases are needed,” said Chet Burrell of CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield. “It is the last thing on earth we want. But no company can sustain the kinds of losses we have seen.”

    • A fourth Zika-positive mosquito pool identified in Miami Beach

      Despite local backlash against the use of a controversial insecticide, the first round of aerial spraying to curb the spread of Zika virus in South Beach took place early Friday. It lasted about 30 minutes.

      A plane contracted by Miami-Dade County flew in the darkness just after 5 a.m. for the first of four spraying cycles that officials hope will quickly bring down the number of mosquitoes carrying Zika virus in Miami Beach.

      The drone of the plane could be heard and lights could be spotted from Ocean Drive as it passed over the water three times. Few people were out. Some joggers hurried by in Lummus Park, where a few men slept along the rock wall. Restaurant staff were cleaning sidewalk tables.

    • NHS in England at ‘tipping point’ – hospital bosses

      NHS leaders in England say they have reached a “tipping point” and cannot maintain standards for patients on the funding they are getting.

      Chris Hopson, chief executive of NHS Providers, said many hospital bosses wanted to “sound a warning bell” to political leaders.

      It comes after latest figures showed record levels of delayed hospital discharges and patient waiting times.

      The government has said it is giving NHS England the £10bn it asked for.

      NHS Providers, the organisation that represents hospitals in England, says unless urgent funding is provided it will have to cut staff, bring in charges or introduce “draconian rationing” of treatment.

      It highlights that 80% of England’s acute hospitals are in financial deficit, compared with 5% three years ago – while missed A&E waiting time targets have risen from 10% to 90%.

    • Arizona Drug Firm Insys Makes Synthetic Pot Compound, Spends Big to Defeat Legal Pot

      A Chandler-based drug firm under investigation for its aggressive sales of a lethal painkiller claims that the large donation it made to a group that opposes marijuana legalization was an attempt to protect the public’s safety.

    • Seriously ‘Sinister’ Big Pharma: Opioid Maker Bankrolls Opposition to Pro-Pot Referendum

      It has been revealed that the maker of a powerful, addictive opioid drug is bankrolling the opposition to the effort to legalize and regulate marijuana for recreational use in Arizona.

      The Phoenix New Times reported Thursday that Insys Therapeutics, the company behind the fentanyl-based medication Subsys, made a $500,000 donation to the group Arizonans for Responsible Drug Policy (ARDP), which is leading the campaign against Proposition 205.

      On the ballot in November, Prop. 205 would allow people 21 years of age or older to possess up to one ounce of marijuana and grow up to six plants in their homes as well as establish a department to regulate the drug’s cultivation and sale.

      It appears that Insys is trying to “eliminate the competition,” according to the New Times, which noted that the company “expects to soon launch a pharmaceutical version of THC, the main psychoactive ingredient in cannabis.”

      What’s more, Insys is currently facing numerous state investigations for deceptively marketing and selling Subsys, which is intended to treat cancer pain, and coercing doctors to promote it to patients for off-label uses. Fentanyl is estimated to be 80 times as potent as morphine and hundreds of times more potent than heroin, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and may be fatal to users.

  • Security

  • Defence/Aggression

    • Sen. Bob Graham: Before 9/11, Bush and Cheney Made Sure Plot and Saudi Gov. Role Would Not be Exposed

      Senator Bob Graham, former co-chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, tells Paul Jay that the Bush administration created a culture of “not wanting to know” about potential terrorist attacks among American intelligence agencies, who have rewritten history with “aggressive deception” since 9/11.

    • House unanimously passes bill to allow 9/11 lawsuits against Saudi Arabia

      The House on Friday passed legislation allowing the families of 9/11 victims to sue Saudi Arabia in U.S. courts, days before the 15th anniversary of the terrorist attacks.

      The legislation passed unanimously by voice vote, to thunderous applause.

      The bill, which passed the Senate unanimously in May, now heads to President Obama’s desk, where its future is uncertain.

      The White House has hinted strongly it will veto the measure. Obama has lobbied fiercely against it, arguing it could both strain relations with Saudi Arabia and lead to retaliatory legislation overseas against U.S. citizens.

      But lingering suspicion over Saudi Arabia’s role in the 9/11 attacks and pressure from victims’ families made the bill a popular bipartisan offering on Capitol Hill.

      The bill’s popularity puts the president in a delicate position. Supporters are hoping Obama will be leery of expending political capital he desperately needs during the lame-duck session.

      The president is hoping lawmakers will pass the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement and a criminal justice reform measure and confirm Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland.

      If Obama does choose to veto the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act, supporters believe that they have the two-thirds majority needed to override him — a first during his presidency.

    • Despite Obama’s Veto Threat, US House Votes to Allow 9/11 Victims to Sue Saudi Arabia
    • Netanyahu’s Land-Grab Strategy

      Behind the smokescreen of the broader Mideast chaos, Israel pursues a strategy of gobbling up Palestinian lands to establish de facto control of the West Bank while confining indigenous Arabs to isolated cantons, explains Alon Ben-Meir.

      [...]

      Netanyahu is not deterred by the criticism and condemnation from the international community. He takes the position that building new housing units is largely in settlements that will eventually be part of a final status deal in exchange for land swaps, as if he has the right to unilaterally decide which settlements will be incorporated to Israel proper without an agreement with the Palestinians.

    • Palestinian Hunting Season

      May 2017 will mark fifty years of Israeli occupation of Gaza and the West Bank characterized by institutionalized inequality and injustice toward Palestinians. At the bidding of the government, the Israeli Defense Force (IDF) routinely and violently confronts Palestinians, but also Israeli and international dissidents who dare challenge the continued expansion and entrenchment of the illegal settlements in the West Bank and the blockade of the Gaza strip. Protesters run the risk of getting cursed, spat on, detained, beaten up, stoned, stabbed, shot, kidnapped, imprisoned, tortured or any combination thereof. Moreover, in an unfortunate yet predictable move, the Israeli government has recently declared war on the nonviolent boycott divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement.

      Like clockwork, every few years a cycle of violence disproportionately bathes Palestinian society in blood and tears and serves to further fortify the occupation (see Israeli Occupation for Dummies). According to renowned scholar Ilan Pappe, Israeli society needs a regular dose of war not only as a means to justify its excessive military budget and lucrative arms industry, but as a tool to reaffirm itself as a cohesive settler-colonialist entity faced with an existential threat.

    • How Everything Became War

      The laser-guided Hellfire missile is highly accurate. When one is fired from a Predator drone at an alleged enemy of the United States, whether in the deserts of Yemen, the mountains of Pakistan or elsewhere, it rarely misses. The remarkable innovation of pairing an unmanned aerial vehicle with a deadly precise missile emerged soon after Sept. 11, 2001. The United States has reportedly used this tool extensively against potentially thousands of terrorist targets around the world in the subsequent 15 years.

      Rosa Brooks, a Georgetown University law professor, former adviser at the Defense Department and influential voice in U.S. policy circles, is one of the many critics of America’s “direct action” program using these drones. In her new book, “How Everything Became War and the Military Became Everything,” she argues that drone strikes rely on problematic legal justifications and that their effectiveness and legitimacy cannot be independently evaluated because of the program’s secrecy. These strikes, along with government opacity about them, she believes, will ultimately undermine the international rule of law, further weaken America’s moral standing and set the stage for others to follow our law-bending lead.

      For Brooks, drone strikes are but one illustration of the challenges we face in this new era of conflict. She contends that the distinction between war and peace has blurred and that the consequences for international law are enormous and underappreciated. Her core argument is that international law, as well as U.S. government organizations, have not kept pace with this smudging of the line. Her book is a cri de coeur that unless we build legal foundations that stand some chance of containing war and legitimating our actions, and restructure our agencies to accommodate new realities, we risk inviting further chaos, eroding the values upon which America was built and failing future generations. While ambitious and astute, the book is also diffuse and in some important ways misses its targets.

    • Nearly 500 more US Troops sent to Iraq for Mosul Attack in advance of Election Day

      Stars and Stripes is reporting that the number of US troops in Iraq has risen from 4,000 to 4,460 in preparation for the Iraqi government campaign against Mosul.

      The WSJ reported that the government of Iraqi prime minister Haydar al-Abadi wants to begin the campaign in October.

    • Demonize and Distract: Sanitizing Syria for the Masses

      But we know that the entire Syrian fiasco was engineered by the CIA with cash, guns, and training, and unceasing support from the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) at our behest. It is a long-standing neoconservative plan to break the so-called Shia Crescent that runs from Lebanon through Syria to Iran. These are, of course, the independent-minded states that have thus far refused to accept either Israeli colonization of Palestinian land or permit Western-backed energy projects to take shape on their territory. Hence the need to dismember them into tiny, feckless statelets that pose no challenge to either Tel Aviv or Washington.

      But this is hidden behind the fog of war and a domestic haze of media nuance. This entire conflict could reasonably be said to hinge on a single phrase: “moderate rebels.” The words “moderate” and “rebel” make all the difference in the telling of this fable. The truth is that we have hijacked Arab Spring discontent and festooned it with brigades of terrorist mercenaries procured from around the Middle East and Asia, all with the singular mandate to take down the Assad government. Tens of thousands of jihadists have been injected by NATO into a multi-confessional state governed by an elected leader who won a larger percentage of the electorate than our liberal messiah Barack Obama.

    • The Death of One of Washington’s Favorite Tyrants

      The death of long-time Uzbekistan dictator Islam Karimov has brought rare U.S. media attention to the Central Asian country of 30 million. Uzbekistan is ranked among the half dozen worst countries in the world for human-rights abuses. What U.S. government officials and our media mostly ignore, however, is that American taxpayers subsidized that regime and its brutal security apparatus for most of Karimov’s thirty-five years in power.

      Torture has been endemic in Uzbekistan, where Karimov banned all opposition groups, severely restricted freedom of expression, forced international human-rights workers and NGOs out of the country, suppressed religious freedom, and annually took as many as two million children out of school to engage in forced labor for the cotton harvest. Thousands of dissidents have been jailed and many hundreds have been killed, some of them literallyboiled alive.

      Karimov became leader of the Uzbek Communist Party in 1989 while the country was still part of the Soviet Union. He backed the unsuccessful coup by Communist Party hardliners against reformist Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev in 1991 and personally opposed Uzbek independence. But finding himself president of a sovereign state when the Soviet Union suddenly dissolved, he quickly modified his position, changing his first name to “Islam” and morphing into an Uzbek nationalist.

    • North Korea’s Understandable Fears

      Every year, America pays its vassal-state South Korea huge sums of U.S. taxpayer money to mount 300,000-man-strong military “games” that threaten North Korea. North Koreans view images that never seem to make it to U.S. kitchen tables: hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of U.S. armaments swarming in from the sea, hundreds of tanks and thousands of troops – their turrets and rifles pointed north – and nuclear-capable U.S. warplanes screaming overhead.

      But when a young dictator straight out of central casting responds to U.S. threats with an underground test on North Korea’s founding day, it’s the number-one story on the front page of the New York Times.

    • Donald Trump’s View of Military Sexual Assault Is Chauvinistic — and Not Uncommon

      Donald Trump’s latest attempt to deflect criticism about a 2013 tweet in which he blamed the prevalence of sexual assault in the military on the presence of women has been to criticize the military court system for letting offenders go unprosecuted.

      But a big reason the military court system is so ineffective at punishing sexual assault offenders is precisely because senior members of the chain of command are involved — and too many share Trump’s view that rape and sexual assault are inevitable given the circumstances.

    • Fifteen Years After 9/11, Neverending War

      In the days after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, when Congress voted to authorize military force against the people who “planned, authorized, committed, or aided” the hijackings, few Americans could have imagined the resulting manhunt would span from West Africa all the way to the Philippines, and would outlast two two-term presidents.

      Today, U.S. military engagement in the Middle East looks increasingly permanent. Despite the White House having formally ended the wars Iraq and Afghanistan, thousands of U.S. troops and contractors remain in both countries. The U.S. is dropping bombs on Iraq and Syria faster than it can make them, and according to the Pentagon, its bombing campaign in Libya has “no end point at this particular moment.” The U.S. is also helping Saudi Arabia wage war in Yemen, in addition to conducting occasional airstrikes in Yemen and Somalia.

      Fifteen years after the September 11 attacks, it looks like the War on Terror is still in its opening act.

    • The Truth About 9/11

      Internationally, the greatest threat to America’s security is, of course, nuclear armed Russia which has enough intercontinental and sea-launched missiles to wipe the United States off the map. Accordingly, Washington’s most important foreign and national security priority is maintaining calm, well-mannered relations with Russia and its leadership.

      Instead, we have Hillary Clinton and her frantic war party neocons trying to provoke Russia at every turn and giving Moscow the impression that she will start a war with Russia. It was precisely such war talk and sabre rattling that in 1983 during the Able Archer crisis brought the US and USSR to within minutes of a full-scale nuclear war.

      For all Trump’s bluster and Islamophobia, he is absolutely right about seeking good relations with Moscow. The schoolyard demonization of Russian President Vladimir Putin by the Clinton camp and its tame US media is childish, shameful and unworthy of a great power.

    • A 9/11 Retrospective: Washington’s 15-Year Air War

      On the morning of September 11, 2001, al-Qaeda launched its four-plane air force against the United States. On board were its precision weapons: 19 suicidal hijackers. One of those planes, thanks to the resistance of its passengers, crashed in a Pennsylvania field. The other three hit their targets — the two towers of the World Trade Center in New York City and the Pentagon in Washington, D.C. — with the kind of “precision” we now associate with the laser-guided weaponry of the U.S. Air Force.

      From its opening salvo, in other words, this conflict has been an air war. With its 75% success rate, al-Qaeda’s 9/11 mission was a historic triumph, accurately striking three out of what assumedly were its four chosen targets. (Though no one knows just where that plane in Pennsylvania was heading, undoubtedly it was either the Capitol or the White House to complete the taking out of the icons of American financial, military, and political power.) In the process, almost 3,000 people who had no idea they were in the bombsights of an obscure movement on the other side of the planet were slaughtered.

      It was a barbaric, if daring, plan and an atrocity of the first order. Almost 15 years later, such suicidal acts with similar “precision” weaponry (though without the air power component) continue to be unleashed across the Greater Middle East, Africa, and sometimes elsewhere, taking a terrible toll — from a soccer game in Iraq to a Kurdish wedding party in southeastern Turkey (where the “weapon” may have been a boy).

      The effect of the September 11th attacks was stunning. Though the phrase would have no resonance or meaning (other than in military circles) until the U.S. invasion of Iraq began a year and a half later, 9/11 qualifies as perhaps the most successful example of “shock and awe” imaginable. The attack was promptly encapsulated in screaming headlines as the “Pearl Harbor of the Twenty-First Century” or a “New Day of Infamy,” and the images of those towers crumbling in New York at what was almost instantly called “Ground Zero” (as if the city had experienced a nuclear strike) were replayed again and again to a stunned world. It was an experience that no one who lived through it was likely to forget.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • WikiLeaks Source Chelsea Manning Starts Hunger Strike

      Chelsea Manning, the U.S. army private convicted in 2013 for leaking classified information to WikiLeaks, has announced she has started a hunger strike to protest what she calls “constant and overzealous administrative scrutiny by prison and military officials.”

    • How should history measure the Obama administration’s record on transparency?

      Given the fundamental role that whistleblowers play in highlighting fraud, waste and abuse, an administration’s record upon the incidence, manner and prosecution of whistleblowers (or policies that protect or expose them) is a critical part of its open government record. The way a White House takes legal or administrative action regarding leaks that demonstrate unconstitutional behavior in the executive branch matters.

      On the one hand, the Obama administration added to congressional legislation with more protections for whistleblowers through an executive order, save for an exemption for those working in or contracting for the intelligence agencies. On the other, there have been a record number of cases filed against whistleblowers under the Espionage Act, more than all previous administrations combined. The double standard for “senior administration officials” quoted in stories favorable to the White House and whistleblowers who go to the press with embarrassing facts is one that no future administration should espouse.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • 10 Percent of the World’s Wilderness Has Been Lost Since 1990s

      Wilderness areas around the world have experienced catastrophic declines over the last two decades, with one-tenth of global wilderness lost since the 1990s, according to a new study.

      Since 1993, researchers found that a cumulative wilderness area twice the size of Alaska and half the size of the Amazon has been stripped and destroyed.

      The shrinking wilderness is due, in part, to human activity such as mining, logging, agriculture, and oil and gas exploration. The researchers said theirfindings underscore the need for international policies to recognize the value of wilderness and to protect wilderness areas from the threats they face. [In Images: One-of-a-Kind Places On Earth]

      “Globally important wilderness areas — despite being strongholds for endangered biodiversity, for buffering and regulating local climates, and for supporting many of the world’s most politically and economically marginalized communities — are completely ignored in environmental policy,” study lead author James Watson, an associate professor in the School of Geography Planning and Environmental Management at the University of Queensland, in Australia, said in a statement.

    • Erased By False Victory: Obama Hasn’t Stopped DAPL

      All Native struggles in the United States are a struggle against erasure. The poisoning of our land, the theft of our children, the state violence committed against us — we are forced to not only live in opposition to these ills, but also to live in opposition to the fact that they are often erased from public view and public discourse, outside of Indian Country. The truth of our history and our struggle does not match the myth of American exceptionalism, and thus, we are frequently boxed out of the narrative.

      The struggle at Standing Rock, North Dakota, has been no exception, with Water Protectors fighting tooth and nail for visibility, ever since the Sacred Stone prayer encampment began on April 1.

      For months, major news outlets have ignored what’s become the largest convergence of Native peoples in more than a century. But with growing social media amplification and independent news coverage, the corporate media had finally begun to take notice. National attention was paid. Solidarity protests were announced in cities around the country. The National Guard was activated in North Dakota.

    • Texas Tribes Mobilize in Solidarity With Sioux Against Dakota Access Pipeline

      As members of more than 100 tribal nations continue their historic standoff against the Dakota Access pipeline at the Standing Rock Sioux reservation in North Dakota, Texas tribes protested in solidarity at the headquarters of the Dallas-based company behind the project — Energy Transfer Partners (ETP) — and spotlighted the company’s conflicts of interest and corrupt practices in their own state.

      Just before poorly trained private security officers sicced dogs on Indigenous water defenders protecting sacred burial grounds in North Dakota over the weekend, Indigenous activists with the American Indian Movement of Central Texas (AIMCTX) gathered more than 1,000 miles away at the corporate headquarters of ETP in Dallas on September 2 to decry CEO Kelcy Warren’s “Black Snake” pipeline projects and pray in rhythm to Native drumsongs.

    • Fasten your seat belt – turbulence is on the rise

      United Airlines Flight 880 was carrying more than 200 passengers from Houston, Texas, to London’s Heathrow airport two weeks ago when it was battered by turbulence that threw people on to the cabin ceiling. Twenty-three people were injured. “We were flying along as smooth as can be and then were just slapped massively from the top as if someone had torpedoed us,” one passenger told journalists.

      The aircraft, a Boeing 767-300, made an emergency landing at Shannon airport and the injured were taken to University Hospital, Limerick. No one was seriously hurt but all went through a terrifying experience and one, say experts, which will increasingly affect flights.

  • Finance

    • British Trade Secretary Calls Country ‘Too Lazy and Fat’

      Britain’s international trade secretary called the country “too lazy and fat” and described business leaders as more interested in playing golf on a Friday than seeking new trade opportunities.

      “This country is not the free trading nation that it once was. We have become too lazy and too fat on our successes in previous generations,” Liam Fox said at an event on Thursday for the right-wing group Conservative Way Forward, BBC News reported.

    • Panama Papers: Denmark to pay $1.3M-plus for leaked data to probe tax evasion

      Tax officials in Denmark are reportedly paying an unknown source around £1 million (~$1.3M) for secret financial information on hundreds of Danish nationals.

      Their names appear in the Panama Papers, leaked earlier this year, which consist of 11.5 million files from the database of Mossack Fonseca—the world’s fourth biggest offshore law firm.

      This is the first time, according to Danish newspaper Politiken, that Denmark has agreed to buy information on possible tax evaders in this way. Denmark also seems to be the first country to admit that it’s acquiring data from a source with access to the leaked Mossack Fonseca documents. [Update: apparently Iceland made an earlier deal—see comment below.]

    • Stop the Fed Before it Kills Again

      Why has the Fed created incentives for US corporations to loot their companies and drive them deeper into debt?

      Despite four consecutive quarters of negative earnings, weak demand and anemic sales, US corporations continue to load up on debt, buy back their own shares and hand out cash to their shareholders that greatly exceeds the amount of profits they are currently taking in. According to the Wall Street Journal: “SandP 500 companies through the first two quarters of the year collectively returned 112% of their earnings through buybacks and dividends.”

      You read that right, US corporations are presently giving back more than they are taking in, which is the moral equivalent of devouring one’s offspring.

    • Did Obama Administration’s Policies Contribute to Chicago’s Deadly Violence?

      For many years, parents and education activists in Chicago have warned that the deliberate destruction of neighborhood public schools was causing a rise in violence. The city, first under Arne Duncan, now under Rahm Emanuel, ignored the critics, and made a virtue of closing public schools, opening charter schools, and sending kids long distances to new schools. Mayor Emanuel recognized that the critics’ complaints had some validity. He didn’t stop the school closings–in fact, he closed 50 public schools in a single day, an unprecedented action in American history. But to assuage the critics, he established “safe passages,” supposedly to assure students’ safety as they adapted to new and longer routes to their new schools. In 2013, a student was raped while walking to school on a “safe passage” route.

    • Palestinian Entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley Ask PayPal to Level the Playing Field

      The letter to Dan Schulman, CEO of PayPal, states, “We are writing to urge you to extend PayPal’s services to Palestinians living in the West Bank and Gaza thereby removing a major limitation on the Palestinian technology sector, one of the only bright spots in the overall economy. More importantly, extending PayPal services would resolve the current discriminatory situation whereby PayPal’s payment portal can be accessed freely by Israeli settlers living illegally (per international humanitarian law) in the West Bank while it remains unavailable to the occupied Palestinian population.”

    • Rio’s Olympic wounds are still raw

      Project 100 is a special report on Olympic-related evictions in Rio de Janeiro, run by Brazil’s Agencia Publica – an independent, woman-led and non-profit investigative journalism agency committed to the facilitation of democratic debate and the promotion of human rights. The project investigates one of the untold stories of the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro: what has happened to the lives of those affected by the city’s large-scale evictions programme?

      Between 2009 and 2015, the Rio de Janeiro City Hall reported that 22,059 families – 77,206 individuals – had been subject to eviction. Authorities claim only one community removal, the highly publicised Vila Autódromo, was a consequence of Olympics development and a general lack of official data on Olympics-related removals provides a veil of secrecy as to the true social impact of the event.

    • Priorities

      I am being laid off by my employer, IBM. Jobs in the Netherlands move to lower-wage countries like Poland and India, while IBM changes course towards a “cognitive” future in which there is less interest in the traditionally skilled technical IT jobs.

      Unparalleled (because forced) job cuts in the Netherlands are the result of that change of focus. Almost 10% of the IBMNL work force is sent away in a “re-balancing” operation and I am out of a job per November 1st.

      On an intellectual level I understand the reasons for this. It is nothing personal and it also has nothing to do with the appreciation of my performance. I have scored among the top 5% of IBM Netherlands employees during my performance reviews of the last couple of years, which is quite decent for someone aged 55 in a technical role. Nevertheless, I am affected personally and my close circle is affected too.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • North Dakota issues arrest warrant for Democracy Now’s Amy Goodman

      Amy Goodman, host and executive producer for Democracy Now, has been criminally charged for documenting attacks on indigenous protesters.

      Last week, a Democracy Now film crew captured footage of private security contractors hired by the oil companies behind the Dakota Access Pipeline attacking protesters with dogs and pepper spray. Video of the attacks went viral on social media, with Democracy Now’s story about the attacks garnering over 131,000 shares on Facebook as of this writing. WDAZ reported that Goodman, along with Cody Charles Hall, a media spokesman for the Red Warrior Camp, have both been charged with criminal trespassing.

    • Breaking: Arrest Warrant Issued for Amy Goodman in North Dakota After Covering Pipeline Protest [iophk: "DN is closer to what NPR used to be than what NPR is now. These days NPR just toes the line in all areas, but especially in regards to tech policy coverage."]

      An arrest warrant has been issued in North Dakota for Democracy Now! host and executive producer Amy Goodman. Goodman was charged with criminal trespassing, a misdemeanor offense. A team from Democracy Now! was in North Dakota last week to cover the Native American-led protests against the Dakota Access pipeline.

      On Sept. 3, Democracy Now! filmed security guards working for the Dakota Access pipeline company using dogs and pepper spray to attack protesters. Democracy Now!’s report went viral online and was rebroadcast on many outlets, including CBS, NBC, NPR, CNN, MSNBC and Huffington Post.

      “This is an unacceptable violation of freedom of the press,” said Amy Goodman in a statement. “I was doing my job by covering pipeline guards unleashing dogs and pepper spray on Native American protesters.”

    • Donald Trump Is Us

      We cannot look at the sun for long. When reality gets too painful and unbearably bright, we avert our eyes. But let’s hear it for the military, the same military that counseled caution before our mad, destabilizing plunge into Iraq and Afghanistan arranged by George W. Bush’s coterie of erstwhile draft-dodgers.

      Military analysts are talking climate change as a prime “national security” issue. Small wonder; a lot of their island and coastal naval bases are on the brink of inundation. Also, the military appreciate “the chain of causation” from climate change disasters to the destabilization of nation states and the rise of new forms of terrorism.

      The DOD’s 2014 Quadrennial Defense Review called climate change an “accelerant of instability” and a “threat multiplier.” The National Academy of Sciences in 2015 noted that climate change fueled the beginning of Syria’s civil war. Longer-lasting and more severe droughts, combined with government refusal to deal with crop failures and livestock deaths. set the stage for the current chaos.

    • For Clinton v. Trump: Blame Corporate Media

      Labor Day has come and gone; the campaign season is now in high gear. Getting to this point was hard for anyone paying attention. It will soon be worse a hundred-fold.

      The collective intelligence of the American people is about to be insulted even more shamelessly than it has already been — as the sales campaigns for Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump rev up, seemingly without budget constraints.

      Now would therefore be a good time to lay in a supply of anti-emetics, before the stores run out.

      Ahead lies a barrage of news, impossible to avoid, of an electoral contest that makes a mockery of American “democracy.” That, unfortunately, is the least of it. The more portentous problem is what it is all leading to – a Clinton presidency.

    • Trump vs. Clinton: Predictions Have Consequences

      That brings us to the last factor, which I shall call the factor of the “importance of voting” at all. There are many eligible voters who are skeptical that voting makes any real difference in what happens after the election. This group may be subdivided into those who feel it is of no importance at all and those who waver on this question. The waverers may be persuaded not to vote for their only mildly preferred candidate if they feel they know the outcome but not if they feel uncertain about the outcome.

    • Servicewomen Get Short Shrift in Commander-in-Chief Forum

      Republican Donald Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton sparred separately on military matters with back-to-back appearances on NBC’s Commander-in-Chief Forum on Wednesday. Trump stuck with his usual empty bombast, assuring a meek Matt Lauer that he would fix things up just fine – while offering no concrete plans or budgets. Clinton had more substance, stating she would not put ground troops in Iraq or Syria, and stressing the steadiness and temperament needed for the job.

      Lack of timely treatment of veterans in Veterans Affairs hospitals got a good deal of the attention from both candidates. But in all the discussion about PTSD and the need for mental health treatment, one group was all but ignored – female service members. They were barely mentioned, except when one questioner from the audience asked Donald Trump what he would do about sexual assault in the military.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • CENSORSHIP CAUSES BLINDNESS

      The one line I remember from high school history is “clear and present danger.” Established in the Supreme Court case Schenck v. United States, this phrase outlines that speech creating a “clear and present danger” can be punished. So what speech constitutes a “clear and present danger” that someone’s First Amendment rights can be abridged?

      This past April, Lindsey Riback, the news editor at the Albany Student Press, wrote an informative article detailing the resources available to report sexual assault in her article, “Sexual Assault Reports up 200 Percent at UAlbany.” Although this headline may seem shocking, the content explained that the increase in resources on campus to report sexual assault contributed to the sharp increase in reports. This headline came into question as the Accepted Student Open House rolled around. A University at Albany tour guide instructed other guides to remove any newspapers from the Lecture Center that displayed this headline so that prospective students and their families wouldn’t see it.

      On Saturday, April 16, I attended this open house. At the time, I was a high school senior and had decided to major in English. I wanted to double major, but I was wrestling with which second major to pick. History? Linguistics? Journalism? These possible majors circulated in my mind; I couldn’t pick a definitive path. That is, until I heard Professor Rosemary Armao speak for the Journalism Department. The idea that I could talk to others and learn mounds of information—all through researching and reporting—appealed to me. Even more, the enthusiasm with which Professor Armao presented drew me to the right path: journalism.

    • YouTubers are accusing the site of rampant censorship

      YouTube is the third-largest website on Earth, a behemoth viewed by millions each day. It’s also “over” — or on the brink of it — according to a group of outraged creators who claim the company has begun censoring them.

      The controversy springs from confusion over YouTube’s long-standing policy of disabling ads on videos that could draw advertiser complaints. Those include videos that are violent, sexually suggestive, or that contain drug use or bad language.

      But whereas YouTube has historically hidden demonetization notifications in its video analytics dashboard — meaning that some creators never saw them — the company recently began sending notices by email and alerting them directly on video pages.

    • YouTube Video Creators Not Happy With “Demonetization” Of Some Content
    • New censorship restrictions on YouTube hit users in the pocket

      Kiwis who post videos online featuring “contentious issues” like sex, drugs and political speech could be hit in the pocket as YouTube clamps down on users profiting from them.

      User Dolan Dark, who only wanted to be known as “Jay”, has 191,000 subscribers but said he was unable to make money from two of his videos which were not deemed “advertiser friendly” under new regulations.

      Users who post videos to the site have the option to “monetise” their content whereby adverts are added to the start of the video.

    • Facebook censors iconic napalm photo: Are algorithms undermining news?

      A Norwegian newspaper editor publicly censured Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg after his social media platform took down a famous wartime photograph, citing concerns about child pornography.

      Facebook’s decision to censor the famous photo of a naked child fleeing a napalm attack during the Vietnam war has prompted questions about Facebook’s policies and its use of algorithms to control the content posted online.

    • Facebook will follow in Murdoch’s footsteps

      Once Rupert Murdoch performed this role, now increasingly Zuckerberg and Google do. To think they were ever likely to be more benevolent than the corporations of old is to subscribe to magical thinking.

    • Censoring Our War Crimes

      Facebook has backed down amidst outraged charges of censorship after deleting the iconic photo of a naked burned Vietnamese girl fleeing a napalm attack during the Vietnam War. Demonstrating questionable journalistic standards now being increasingly challenged, the social network deleted the harrowing, Pulitzer Prize-winning image by AP photographer Nick Ut – which shows nine-year-old Kim Phuc running screaming from her village of Trang Bang after she was severely burned by napalm dropped by South Vietnamese planes on June 8, 1972 – in the name of “maintaining a safe and respectful experience for our global community.”

      Phuc survived. Despite years of ongoing pain and surgeries related to her burns, she now lives in Canada, runs a foundation dedicated to help other child victims of war, and sometimes speaks about the powerful impact of one of the most famous war photographs of all time taken by the Vietnamese, then-21-year-old Ut. The recent uproar came after Norwegian author Tom Egeland included it in a Facebook post about photos that changed the history of wars, and in this case perhaps helped end one. Facebook removed the picture, Egeland protested, Facebook banned him and then proceeded to remove the image several more times when it was defiantly re-posted by other high-profile Norwegians – including Prime Minister Erna Solberg, who charged, “If you edit past events or people, you change history, and you change reality.”

    • Vietnam photo censorship reignites debate over Facebook’s responsibilities

      Facebook’s decision to temporarily censor the iconic Vietnam War photo of Kim Phúc has set off alarm bells for journalism watchdogs and reignited the debate over the social media company’s editorial responsibilities.

    • Does Facebook need to act more like a news organization?

      Facebook’s decision Friday to reverse its ruling about an iconic photo from the Vietnam War that it initially said violated company policy is raising the issue about whether it is a social media platform or a news distributor.

      The reversal followed online uproar after Facebook deleted the famous photo of Kim Phuc running naked from a napalm attack from a Norwegian author’s Facebook page.

    • ‘Facebook needs an editor’: media experts urge change after photo dispute

      Tensions between Facebook and the news industry boiled over this week when the social media corporation censored a Pulitzer-winning Vietnam war photo, because it featured a naked child and violated site “community standards”.

      The dispute over the “napalm girl” image, which a Norwegian writer published in a post about historic warfare photography, ended Friday when Facebook reversed its decision, acknowledging the “global importance of this image in documenting a particular moment in time”.

      But the spat has exposed what journalists and ethicists say are fundamental flaws in the way Facebook controls and spreads news. Critics say the company’s decisions were driven by PR concerns and should serve as a wake-up call to free speech advocates about how powerful Facebook has become– and how ill-equipped the corporation is for its role, however unwilling, in journalism.

    • Facebook’s Censorship Problem Is What Happens When a Tech Company Controls the News

      In the space of a single day, Facebook has managed to: Draw condemnation from a Norwegian news organization for censoring a famous work of photojournalism from the Facebook News Feed.

    • Dear Mark. I am writing this to inform you that I shall not comply with your requirement to remove this picture.

      The demand that we remove the picture came in an e-mail from Facebook’s office in Hamburg this Wednesday morning. Less than 24 hours after the e-mail was sent, and before I had time to give my response, you intervened yourselves and deleted the article as well as the image from Aftenposten’s Facebook page.

      To be honest, I have no illusions that you will read this letter. The reason why I will still make this attempt, is that I am upset, disappointed – well, in fact even afraid – of what you are about to do to a mainstay of our democratic society.

    • What Facebook’s Aftenposten Censorship Teaches Us About Facebook’s Role As Worldwide Editor In Chief
    • Facebook reverses ‘napalm girl’ photo censorship following media pressure
    • Correction: Norway-Facebook-Napalm Girl story
    • Facebook makes u-turn on decision to censor an iconic Vietnam War photo
    • Facebook Pulled Down This Iconic Image From The Vietnam War, Restored It After Social Uproar
    • Facebook’s big content problem
  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • [Purism] We updated our FAQ — Here’s why it matters

      Recently, we have updated our Frequently Asked Questions. “Who cares!” you might say. Well, here’s why I think it may be more important than you think. For the longest time we had five FAQ’s. Five. As a small company with little staff, FAQ’s and documentation were initially not as big of a priority as they perhaps should have been. Things that needed to be addressed have often been put on the back burner as we had larger issues to address. But, in recent weeks, we have begun to try and make changes in our approach, changes in our communication with you.

      As we have begun this process, we are altering our previous method of outreach and communication to focus, quite simply, on these aspects: “more,” “better” and “engagement.” We have heard many of your calls for us to communicate more often and better. We consider important, especially for the free and open source community, to have engagement and a back and forth dialogue between you and us. From here on, this blog will be updated more often with all of us chipping in at times. Our FAQ’s have been updated to address many of the common questions that we get asked and it will continue to be updated as more questions come in to us. With our new communication team, we have also recently changed our approach on social media as well, aiming for more engaging conversations with you and moving away from the previous “privacy news fire hose” approach where we were sharing too many Fear, Uncertainty & Doubt (FUD) articles that overall impaired our credibility. All in all, we’d like to bring some fun back to our social media process and to talk WITH you instead of AT you.

    • Brexit won’t harm UK security, says US former spy chief

      Brexit will not make “one bit of difference” to Britain’s intelligence relationship with the rest of Europe and the US, according to a former senior official with the National Security Agency.

      William Binney, a technical director for the US intelligence agency turned whistleblower, said GCHQ will continue to share data and resources with organisations around the world following Britain’s retreat from the EU.

    • Zachary Quinto: Calling Snowden a ‘Treasonist is Absurd’
    • ‘Let him come home:’ Star Trek’s new Spock calls Espionage Act charges against Snowden ‘absurd’

      Hollywood heartthrob Zachary Quinto, who plays Star Trek’s new Spock and Edward Snowden in Oliver Stone’s new film, has spoken out in defense of the NSA whistleblower, who is now in exile in Russia, calling the Espionage Act charges against him “absurd.”

      The star was speaking at the premier of the latest film, Snowden, which tells the story of the young programmer’s interest in espionage work and eventual disillusionment with it, leading to one of the most significant revelations in recent history.

    • Star Trek’s new Mr Spock Zachary Quinto slams spying charges against whistleblower Edward Snowden as ‘absurd’

      Hollywood heartthrob Zachary Quinto has spoken out in defence of Edward Snowden, slamming the spying charges made against him as “absurd”.

      Quinto, who plays Star Trek ‘s new Spock, said the National Security Agency (NSA) whistleblower should be returned to the US and called for authorities to drop charges against him.

      Fugitive Snowden, who is seeking asylum in Russia granted by Vladimir Putin, is responsible for the biggest leak in modern US history.

      He quit his £130,000-a-year job at the NSA after claiming he could not stand by and watch the civil liberties of millions of people be eroded.

      Quinto, who stars in Oliver Stone’s new film Snowden, which tells the story of the young programmer’s early interest in espionage work, said at the Toronto premiere: “I do think he should be able to come back [to America].

    • Toronto Film Review: Oliver Stone’s ‘Snowden’

      Oliver Stone’s docudrama, starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt as the NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, is the director’s most exciting — and relevant — movie in years.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Kazakhstan makes former deputy PM new prime minister

      Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev promoted a former deputy premier on Friday to succeed longtime ally prime minister Karim Massimov, who he has transferred to the role of security chief.

      Massimov, who had led the cabinet since 2014 was dismissed and made the Central Asian country’s internal security chief Thursday, on the back of a summer that saw a spike in homegrown radical violence.

      The appointment of Bykytzhan Sagintayev as premier temporarily ends speculation that Dariga Nazarbayeva -Nazarbayev’s 53-year-old daughter – might take up higher office.

    • Senate investigator breaks silence about CIA’s ‘failed coverup’ of torture report

      For six years, Daniel Jones was the chief investigator for the Senate intelligence committee’s inquiry into CIA detentions and interrogations carried out in the post-9/11 Bush era. Jones and his team turned 6.3m pages of internal CIA documents into a scathing study which concluded that torture was ineffective and that the CIA had lied about it to two presidents, Congress and the US public.

      But before Jones’s investigation was released in December 2014, the CIA searched through Senate files on a shared, firewalled network that had been set up by the agency for Jones and his team to securely receive classified documents.

      The CIA accessed Jones’s work and even reconstructed his emails, sparking an unprecedented clash between the agency and its legislative overseers on Capitol Hill.

    • Follow Colin Kaepernick, Change the World

      Take Colin Kaepernick. By choosing not to stand for the national anthem, the San Francisco 49ers quarterback has stood up for justice. He has raised awareness of police brutality and oppression against African-Americans in the United States. He has exposed the anti-Muslim origins of “The Star-Spangled Banner” and forced us to address the uncomfortable: institutional racism. Kaepernick’s act of rebellion was a risk from the start. The cost to him has been a stream of criticism and public blowback. But his courage has sparked a national conversation on free speech and what it means to be an American in the 21st century.

    • Diversity Bloat Is All About Colleges Looking Good While Not Doing Much

      Yet, there are so many programs — and not just in college — where fellowships, for example, are offered based on skin color. That’s not fair and its also insulting to black students from middle-class environments (or better) and from intact families who do well in school, but may be lumped in by skin color as having gotten special boosts.

    • 7 Police Officers to Be Charged in Bay Area Sex Scandal

      A prosecutor in California said on Friday that criminal charges would be filed against seven current or former police officers in the San Francisco Bay Area, capping a monthslong investigation into allegations of officers having sex with a teenage prostitute.

      The allegations had roiled the Oakland Police Department, and five of those being charged were from that agency.

      The charges include obstruction of justice, engaging in an act of prostitution and engaging in a lewd act in a public place, Nancy E. O’Malley, the district attorney for Alameda County, Calif., said in a statement.

      A former deputy from the Contra Costa County Sheriff’s Office and a former officer from the Livermore Police Department also face charges, the statement said.

      A prostitute, the 19-year-old daughter of a police dispatcher, claimed that she had had sex with multiple officers from agencies around the Bay Area. At least one of the relationships began while she was a minor, Mayor Libby Schaaf of Oakland has said. The prostitute said the police had routinely tipped her off to raids.

    • A Grammar Lesson of Experience

      It was so successful in turning out ersatz privately educated pupils that I have been mistaken for one more or less since. And there is no doubt at all that this helped me get in to the fast stream of the FCO – in an intake in which I was one of only two state school educated entrants in the fast stream. There were two graduate entry streams – administrative (fast stream) and executive (slow stream). In 1984 there were just two state school entrants in the fast stream, and no private school entrants in the slow stream.

      It is this plucking of hearty young yeomen and turning them into officers for which Theresa May nostalgically yearns. But I absolutely hated the school. I hated the discipline, I hated the militarism, I hated the narrow thought. I hated it so much I performed terribly – I got a B and two E’s at A Level and scraped into university on clearing. Yet once in University with much more personal freedom, I flourished and never in my entire University career came less than top in any exam I took, culminating in a first class degree. The grammar school system had almost destroyed my potential because of my reaction against its class divisiveness.

    • The Politics of Nonviolence

      These days, the question for me is: What are the politics of nonviolence? Nonviolence is a whole new way of life, but it is also a methodology of social change, a power at our disposal, a spiritual path, a way to relate to others, and a way of hope for the whole human race, despite the odds.

    • If You’re Not a Feminist – What the Hell is Wrong with You!!?

      I am a male human being.

      And you’d better believe I’m a feminist.

      I wear that label proudly.

      The other day a friend of mine heard one of my articles was published in Everyday Feminism. And he said, “Kind of a backhanded compliment. Isn’t it?”

      Hell no!

      What does that mean? Would someone suppose that a man being considered a feminist somehow made him less of a man?

      On the contrary. I think it makes him more of one. It makes him a decent freakin’ person.

    • Truthdigger of the Week: Former British Ambassador and Whistleblower Craig Murray

      This week, Murray was denied entry into the United States via the U.S. Visa Waiver Program. The program is intended to enable “most citizens or nationals of participating countries to travel to the United States for tourism or business for stays of 90 days or less without first obtaining a visa.” Murray is set to chair the presentation of this year’s Sam Adams Award for integrity in intelligence, which takes place Sept. 25, to CIA-torture whistleblower John Kiriakou.

    • Federal Regulation Saves Millions of Lives

      Fifty years ago this month (on September 9, 1966), President Lyndon Johnson signed into law the National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety laws that launched a great life-saving program for the American People.

      I was there that day at the White House at the invitation of President Johnson who gave me one of the signing pens. In 1966, traffic fatalities reached 50,894 or 5.50 deaths per 100 million vehicle miles traveled. By 2014, the loss of life was 32,675 or 1.07 fatalities per hundred million vehicle miles traveled. A huge reduction!

      This was an astounding success for a federal safety program that included mandatory vehicle-safety standards (seat belts, airbags, better brakes, tires and handling among other advances) and upgrading driver and highway-safety standards.

      When the crashworthy standards were first proposed in 1967, Henry Ford II warned that they “would shut down the industry.” Ten years later on NBC’s Meet the Press he conceded, “We wouldn’t have the kinds of safety built into automobiles that we have had unless there had been a federal law.”

    • We need bolder politicians
    • Protest Targets Expo ‘Spreading War on Our Communities’

      Hundreds of people gathered in California on Friday to protest Urban Shield, the annual expo showcasing police and military weapons and offering SWAT training in the Bay Area.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • Who controls the internet? Ted Cruz’s fantasy vs. the reality

      In June, Senator Ted Cruz released a video declaring that President Obama is on the verge of “giving the internet away” to Iran, Russia and China. The video deploys an appropriately menacing soundtrack, some cyber-spooky glitch effects, and the threat of a “mini UN” taking over our beloved bastion of free speech and free enterprise—unless Congress acts before a deadline of September 30. Cruz upped the drama last week, in preparation for Congress returning from summer vacation, by launching a countdown clock on his website.

  • DRM

    • DRM products are defective by design. Time to tell users what they’re buying

      Digital products are weird: they are inert without software to animate them, and software is so technologically and legally weird that it can be very hard to know exactly what you’re buying.

      But there just might be some clarity on the horizon, thanks to documents I recently filed with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), signed by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), several publishers and public interest groups and 20 EFF supporters with important (and alarming!) stories to tell.

      In 1998, the US Congress enacted the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), whose Section 1201 makes it a felony to bypass or tamper with “access controls” (today we call these “DRM” or “digital rights management”). Originally this was used to ensure that no one reconfigured their games console to play unofficial games (meaning that the console maker could extract fees from games companies without fear of competition) and that DVD players weren’t modified to play out-of-region discs. But software proliferated and the DMCA wasn’t far behind.

      [...]

      Apple repeatedly did this with iTunes, while Nintendo designed the 3DS game system to render itself permanently inoperable if an update detected evidence of tampering. This means that any solution the FTC comes up with will require extensive disclosures from the more baroque DRM schemes – which is as it should be. You can’t consent without being informed, and the entire basis for taking away our rights with DRM products is that we’re consenting when we “choose DRM”. All of this is just a sticking plaster, of course.

      The real solution is to reform the laws that protect DRM – DMCA 1201 in the US, EUCD Article 6 in the EU, among others – to ensure that doing legal things with your own property remains legal. The fact that this principle needs legal protection tells you how bonkers the whole thing is. That’s why EFF has filed a lawsuit against the US government seeking to invalidate Section 1201 of the DMCA.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Copyrights

      • Copyright Trolls Claim Student Pirates Could Lose Scholarships, Face Deportation

        Copyright trolls are known for their dubious tactics but a new report from Canada shows just how low they can sink. According to the University of Manitoba’s copyright office, among a flood of 8,000 piracy notices are some warning students that they could lose their scholarships or even be deported if they don’t pay a fine.

      • Linking after GS Media … in a table

        Readers may remember that a few months ago I published a table that I had prepared for my students at the University of Southampton, attempting to summarise the position of the Court of Justice of the European Union as regards linking to protected content.

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