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09.13.16

Links 13/9/2016: ​Linus Torvalds’ Laptop, NethServer 7 “Bruschetta” Released

Posted in News Roundup at 4:48 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • You’re a step closer to getting $55 from the PS3 Linux debacle lawsuit

    Open up your wallets—Sony might have as much as $55 for you. PlayStation 3 owners who lost the ability to run Linux on their consoles following a 2010 firmware update should soon be getting a notice from the console maker that it is settling a class-action lawsuit over the debacle.

    A California federal judge signed off (PDF) on the accord (PDF) Thursday, and notices of the deal will be sent via e-mail to those on the PlayStation network. Those notices should reach as much as 77 percent of the affected class members, according to the court. Other advertisements about the deal will be advertised online.

    Those eligible for a cash payment of either $9 or $55 are “all persons in the United States who purchased a Fat PS3 model in the United States between November 1, 2006, and April 1, 2010.”

  • Desktop

    • Cub Linux – a mix of Chromium and Ubuntu Linux

      Cub Linux(Cub comes from Chromium + Ubuntu) is a unique and elegant result of a combination of the finest properties of Chromium browser and popular Ubuntu Linux. It is a simple yet powerful, web-focused Linux distribution with modern features and components such as fast speeds, Google integration, web applications and many more from Chromium web browser and hardware compatibility, multiple mainstream applications in Ubuntu Linux.

    • Dear EFF, please investigate Microsoft for malicious practices regarding Windows 10 [Ed: Vista 10 is proof that — just as Establishment politicians are immune from law enforcement — so are proprietary software giants]

      Microsoft’s practices with their newest operating system, named Windows 10, has been ignorantly unethical at best and malicious at worst.

      The problems begin with the upgrades. Reports everywhere state that people are being tricked or forced into upgrading to Windows 10 from their current, preferred version of Windows.

    • The Best Linux Desktop for Work

      Wait, you doubt that there’s a best Linux desktop for work? Yes I know some users do. A lot of folks out there still believe you need a proprietary operating system to get work done.

      But speaking as a user who uses various Linux distros everyday to get work done, I can tell you that for most people it’s a matter of preference. Sure, there are legacy software exceptions to this rule. However between the move to the “cloud” and new Linux compatible applications popping up all the time, I’ve found Linux is great for getting work done.

      In this article, I’ll look at some of the most popular desktop Linux distros for getting work done, along with some software recommendations to make using Linux a smoother process overall.

    • ​Linus Torvalds reveals his favorite programming laptop

      I recently talked with some Linux developers about what the best laptop is for serious programmers. As a result I checked out several laptops from a programmer’s viewpoint. The winner in my book? The 2016 Dell XPS 13 Developer Edition. I’m in good company. Linus Torvalds, Linux’s creator, agrees. The Dell XPS 13 Developer Edition, for him, is the best laptop around.

    • Ubuntu Infringing, AlienBob Quits, Linus’ Laptop

      The top story today proves once again that Hollywood has way too much power. A DMCA takedown request to Google, to which they relented, included an address to Ubuntu 12.04.2 LTS. In other news, Slackware developer and Slackware Live founder Eric “AlienBob” Hameleers has given his notice and Bodhi Linux 4.0.0 Alpha 2 was released. Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols spoke to Linus Torvalds about his development computer and Matt Hartley posted some ideas for the perfect Linux desktop.

  • Server

    • Five Linux Server Distros Worth Checking Out

      Pretty much any of the nearly 300 Linux distributions you’ll find listed on Distrowatch can be made to work as servers. Since Linux’s earliest days, users have been provisioning “all purpose” distributions such as Slackware, Debian and Gentoo to do heavy lifting as servers for home and business. That may be fine for the hobbyist, but its a lot of unnecessary work for the professional.

      From the beginning, however, there have been distributions with no other purpose but to serve files and applications, help workstations share common peripherals, serve-up web pages and all the other things we ask servers to do, whether in the cloud, in a data center or on a shelf in a utility closet.

    • How we used Linux

      Industrial Automation is an industry that’s always 10 years behind mainstream technologies. This is partly due to the large monopoly held by the three main players, Siemens, Allen Bradley & Wonderware. This has led to an unfortunate lack of innovation, especially in native industrial web applications, Which are almost nonexistent.

      At Bubble Automation we saw this as an issue. Most clients who wanted remote monitoring capabilities of their sites were stuck using clunky add-ons. Add-ons requiring large license fees and maintenance costs, or insecure TeamViewer/VNC connections needing third party tools to be installed on the clients machines.

    • NethServer 7 “Bruschetta” Server-Oriented Linux OS to Support Nextcloud 10

      Softpedia was informed by Alessio Fattorini from the CentOS-based NethServer Linux operating system about the availability of the second Beta development milestone of the upcoming NethServer 7 release.

      The first Beta of NethServer 7 “Bruschetta” was released on July 13, 2016, so it took the developers exactly two months to push a new Beta out the door for early adopters and public beta testers who either want to help them fix bugs and polish existing features, or just get an early taste of what’s coming in the server-oriented distribution.

      Being fully in sync with the CentOS 7 Linux repositories, NethServer 7 Beta 2 is here today, September 12, 2016, to add support for the Nextcloud 10 self-hosting cloud server platform, support for implementing advanced static routes with specific selection of metric and device, as well as to force a default gateway. It also adds a brand new bandwidth monitoring module called BandwidthD, along with a POP3 connector module.

    • NethServer : An all-in-one server for Small and Medium enterprises

      NethServer is an all-in-one Linux distribution based on CentOS, which is the clone of popular commercial Linux distribution Red hat Enterprise Linux. It ships with powerful, yet easy to use web interface that enables us to install plenty of pre-configured modules with a single mouse click. It is completely free, and 100% open source distribution supported by many contributors and community members all over the world. NethServer is opt for small office and medium enterprise organizations, and of course you can use it for large enterprises if you have sufficient high-end configuration system.

    • IBM Claims new Linux X86 killer server can do the impossible

      Brace up for the new Linux-based all-powerful lineup that has been said to be capable of doing just about anything. According to IBM who made the announcement, the new X86 based servers are made with heavy computing in mind. IBM is of the opinion that with the new machines, it will be much easier to run deep learning, AI as well as big data analytics.

      With the new servers, cognitive workloads can be propelled better and that the efficiency of the data centre will be greatly improved, IBM added. They said that the new server is equipped with a new chip that also combine innovations gotten from “OpenPOWER”, a community that is known to deliver performances on higher levels with a computing efficiency that is far better than that of x86-based server.

    • 8 best practices for building containerized applications

      Containers are a major trend in deploying applications in both public and private clouds. But what exactly are containers, why have they become a popular deployment mechanism, and how will you need to modify your application to optimize it for a containerized environment?

    • User-Centric Networks Will Drive New Architectures

      The average person today is surrounded by a cloud. Smartphones alone connect people to a wide array of content and services. Add the other devices they interact with in the office or in their connected home, and the concept of user-centric network (UCN), created and controlled by the user over networks selected by the user, has emerged.

      Users will be able to pick and choose network resources to create their own virtual networks and, in effect, become their own service provider. This is done today on a closed basis and at the scale of social networks such as Google and Facebook, but tomorrow small communities will be able to do the same.

  • Kernel Space

    • Linus Torvalds Announces the Release of Linux Kernel 4.8 RC6, One More to Go

      It’s still Sunday in the U.S., so Linus Torvalds just published his weekly announcement to unleash yet another Release Candidate (RC) development snapshot of the upcoming Linux 4.8 kernel series.

    • Linux 4.8-rc6 Kernel Released
    • 2016 LiFT Scholarship Winner Kurt Kremitzki: Solving Food Scarcity With Linux and Open Source

      I was introduced to Linux in the era of Red Hat Linux 9, but I thought it *was* Linux, and when “Enterprise” was added I stopped using it. Several years ago, I picked up Ubuntu and started using it full time. More recently, besides use at home, I applied what knowledge I have of Linux to a robotics competition, using the Raspberry Pi, hosted by the American Society of Agricultural & Biological Engineers in New Orleans last year. When a similar competition was assigned to an introductory Control Theory class I took last semester, the professor opted to have me assist the TA and all my classmates in teaching basic Linux skills and Python programming to do a simple maze following project.

    • Linux 3.14.79

      I’m announcing the release of the 3.14.79 kernel.

      All users of the 3.14 kernel series must upgrade.

    • Google Developer Kees Cook Details The Linux Kernel Self-Protection Project

      At the Linux Security Summit last month, Google developer Kees Cook shared the current workings of the Kernel Self-Protection Project (KSPP). The project, he said, goes beyond user space and even beyond kernel integrity. The idea is to implement changes to help the kernel protect itself.

      To understand the importance of the project, Cook said, we need to think about the multitude of devices running Linux, such as servers, laptops, cars, phones, and then consider that the vast majority of these devices are running old software, which contains bugs. Some of these devices have very long lifetimes, but the lifetime of a bug can be longer still.

    • The State of Kernel Self Protection Project by Kees Cook, Google
    • Linux kernel 3.14 declared end-of-life. Colonel Kitten informs platoon

      As you know, we take our mission to look after the Linux kernel very seriously in this platoon and I am sad to inform you that one of our top kernel agents has been given a burn notice.

      [...]

      From now on, kernel version 3.14 is to be regarded as end-of-life and removed from operations.

      Intelligence has reached us from major corporal Greg Kroah-Hartman that version 3.14.79, which constitutes a list of 12 fixes, marks the end of this chapter.

    • Btrfs Finally Has A Concise Status Page

      The Btrfs file-system finally has a concise status page so users can quickly and easily know the status of various features.

      A Phoronix reader wrote in that he believes due to his consistent requests of Btrfs developers is now this “Nouveau-like” status page for indicating the state of different file-system features.

    • Canonical Shaky On Sharing

      Remember Canonical, the company that produces the distribution Ubuntu GNU/Linux? They have a hard time even mentioning “Linux” on their website yet they manage to customize the Linux kernel for their distro without actively contributing the modifications to kernel.org.

    • Graphics Stack

    • Benchmarks

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

      • KDE Returns Home, QtCon Talks Videos Available

        KDE has finished its fantastic week, celebrating 20 years of hacking and freedom fighting together with Qt, VLC and FSFE in Berlin. We finished our week with a fun day trip to Pfaueninsel, Berlin’s Peacock Island.

        Videos from many of the talks are now available to download with the rest being added in the coming weeks. They are also linked from the conference program with slides, where available.

        Many thanks to the organisers of the conference. We have now returned to our homes around the world to implement our plans for the next 20 years of being the best community for end-user software.

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK

      • Maps marching towards 3.22

        So, I just rolled the 3.21.92 release of GNOME Maps. This is final beta release before the next stable (3.22.0).

        The most noteworthy change will ofcourse be the new tile provider, replacing the discontinued MapQuest tiles, courtesy of Mapbox!
        We have also backported this to prior stable versions to keep things working in current distribution releases, and for the future we will also have the ability to swich tile sources without patching release versions, as Maps now fetches a service definition file. And maybe (if time and effort permits) we might expand into the territory of client-side rendering of vector data, which opens up some possibilties, such as rendering various layers of interesting stuff such as a specific type of point-of-interests, like “show all restaurants in this area”.

      • GUADEC 2017 to take place in Manchester, UK

        It is with great pleasure that the GNOME Foundation announces next year’s GUADEC to be held in Manchester, United Kingdom during the summer of 2017. The GNOME User and Developer European Conference (GUADEC) brings together hundreds of users and developers every year to further the GNOME Project. It is one of the Foundation’s longest-standing and most noteworthy events.

        Manchester is located about 160 miles (260 km) northwest of London, with Manchester Airport providing easy access for international guests, as well as plenty of public transportation. It has a long history of being a place of learning and innovation, with over 20 Nobel Prize winners having worked or studied in Manchester, Chetham’s Library being the oldest public library in the English-speaking world, and notable accomplishments like the splitting of the atom by Ernest Rutherford in the early 1900s.

  • Distributions

    • Reviews

      • Solus Stands on Its Own

        If I had to pick one operating system of the year, I would be picking Ubuntu MATE 16.04, if Solus hadn’t come along and stolen the title.

        If it was a contest (and let’s admit it; it is.) this would be nothing short of a gripping and dramatic victory for Solus’ lead developer Ikey Doherty and team, especially in this new generation of proven and truly great Linux systems. If it wasn’t for the fact that the Linux community at-large was full of such amazing and cooperative people, I would call it a distro war.

        Now, before I get called out for trying to “sensationalize”, let’s get something straight. In recent weeks I have heard the words “competition” and “competitors” used more in the interchange of “fellow developers of other distros” than I have ever heard in my years of involvement with open source.

        And I’m proud to say that I welcome it with open arms. Nothing makes you better than someone trying to outdo you. At the moment, no one is trying to outdo you like Team Solus, so you’d better eat your Wheaties.

      • A Detailed Review On Elementary OS 0.4 Loki

        Elementary is a beautiful distribution, I can’t deny that actually, but the system itself with its default software isn’t out-of-the-box usage ready, for example you need to install LibreOffice yourself, also some bugs and usability problems exist in the software (Like the files compression problem, you can’t compress files).

        Elementary team actually pointed to a good point about developing desktop distributions, normal users like doctors, teachers, police staff, banking staff and others need beautiful easy-to-use interfaces, things like what elementary already provide, which is actually great, but system stability and efficiency is also very important to the end user, which has sort of lackness a bit in elementary.

        The developers should focus on solving such bugs in both the system and the software before releasing it to the public, beside testing it for the needs of the daily average user, it’s not important to just to do UI/UX improvements and introduce a very tweaking-needed operating system at the end, or let the user search for essential software by himself.

        Elementary introduces a great part of what Linux users really need and what may really take the desktop industry, however, they need to focus more on the system core instead of just the system look and feel.

      • Apricity OS 07.2016

        All in all, I like what Apricity is trying to do. The project is relatively new and off to a good start. There are some rough edges, but not many and I think the distribution will appeal to a lot of people, especially those who want to run a rolling release operating system with a very easy initial set up.

    • Gentoo Family

    • Red Hat Family

      • Nominations Open for 2017 Red Hat Innovation Awards
      • Red Hat Virtualization 4: An Overview

        Red Hat’s clearly investing in adding value to the open source KVM (kernel virtual machine) project and integrating virtual machine technology more tightly into other products to make it easier for enterprises to adopt and use the complete Red Hat software environment. Red Hat Virtualization 4 (RHV4) is the next step in that campaign.

      • Finance

      • Fedora

        • PostgreSQL 9.5: A quick start on Fedora 24

          PostgreSQL is one of the most popular object-relational database management system (shortened to ORDBMS) and is 100% open-source. It is not purely about relations anymore: PostgreSQL is more and more about NoSQL as well. The following article is a short tutorial to set up PostgreSQL 9.5 on Fedora 24, so it can be used for a development environment. For a production deployment, it is recommended to use a different set-up and harden the service.

        • Heroes of Fedora (HoF) – F24 Final

          Welcome back to the final installment of Heroes of Fedora 24 – Final edition! The purpose of this post is to recognize the contributors who made a difference in releasing Fedora 24 Final. Below you’ll find stats for Bodhi updates, release-validation tests, and Bugzilla reports. Without further ado, let’s get started!

        • Downgrading Fedora ‘rawhide’ -> Fedora 24
    • Debian Family

  • Devices/Embedded

    • iMX6-based IoT module gains an easily customizable carrier board

      Gumstix unveiled a baseboard for TechNexion’s Linux-friendly, i.MX6-based, Pico-IM6X COM that can be customized with its Geppetto design service.

      Gumstix continues its Geppetto tour of major IoT-oriented ARM computer-on-modules with a customizable “PICO-IMX6 Development Board” designed to actualize the TechNexion PICO-IMX6 module. Built around NXP’s Cortex-A9-based i.MX6 Solo, DualLite, or Quad SoCs, the PICO-iMX6 is notable for its small, 40 x 36mm footprint and its Intel Edison-compatible expansion connector.

    • Hands-on: Blue Hydra can expose the all-too-unhidden world of Bluetooth

      I installed Blue Hydra by “cloning” its Ruby code from its GitHub repository on an older MacBook Air I’d configured with Kali GNU/Linux “Rolling” (64 bit), a security-testing-focused version of Debian, and a SENA UD100 USB Bluetooth adapter. Blue Hydra will work on other Debian-based distributions, and it’s even pre-installed as part of the current release of Pentoo (a security-focused live CD version of Gentoo Linux). Pwnie Express has also packaged Blue Hydra for use with its line of sensors (though not with the PwnPhone), and it can be integrated with the company’s Pulse security monitoring and auditing service.

    • New Parrot S.L.A.M.dunk Drone Development Kit Makes Use of Ubuntu Snappy and ROS

      Dubbed Parrot S.L.A.M.dunk, the new development kit is here to help developers create obstacle avoidance and autonomous robots and drones that use the slimmed-down version of the popular Ubuntu Linux distribution designed for embedded and IoT (Internet of Things) devices, Ubuntu Snappy Core, as well as ROS (Robot Operating System).

      “Parrot developed S.L.A.M.dunk to be as easy and user-friendly as possible for developers, researchers, integrators, and academics,” reads the press release. “All Ubuntu functionalities and benefits from ROS (Robot Operating System) framework are embedded in the Parrot S.L.A.M.dunk making it user-friendly. The HDMI port makes it possible to develop directly on the product.”

    • Phones

Free Software/Open Source

  • Open source routers deliver low cost, flexibility

    Open source software offers an economical and flexible option for deploying basic home, SMB or even enterprise networking. These open source products deliver simple routing and networking features, plus they are combined with security functionality, starting with a basic firewall and possibly including antivirus, antispam and Web filtering. These products can be downloaded and deployed on your own hardware, on a virtual platform, or in the cloud. Many of them sell pre-configured appliances as well. We reviewed five products: ClearOS, DD-WRT, pfSense, Untangle and ZeroShell. We found that ClearOS, pfSense, and Untangle could be appropriate for home use all the way up to the enterprise environment.

  • Review: 5 open source alternatives for routers/firewalls

    Open source software offers an economical and flexible option for deploying basic home, SMB or even enterprise networking. These open source products deliver simple routing and networking features, like DHCP and DNS. Plus, they are combined with security functionality, starting with a basic firewall and possibly including antivirus, antispam and Web filtering.

    These products can be downloaded and deployed on your own hardware, on a virtual platform, or in the cloud. Many of them sell pre-configured appliances as well if you like their feature-set or support, but don’t want to build your own machine.

  • Puppet Marches Forward, Takes Note of DevOps Employment/Salary Trends

    Folks who are focused on container technology and virtual machines as they are implemented today might want to give a hat tip to some of the early technologies and platforms that arrived in the same arena. Among those, Puppet, which was built on the legacy of the venerable Cfengine system, was an early platform that helped automate lots of virtual machine implementations. We covered it in depth all the way back in 2008. Fast-forward to today, and Puppet is still making news, creating jobs and more.

    Here are some of the recent notable newsbytes from Puppet, including its 2016 DevOps Salary Survey results.

  • Yahoo Open Sources Pulsar, a Powerful Low-Latency Messaging System

    For the past year, we’ve taken note of the many open source projects focused on Big Data that have been contributed to the community. Some of these are real difference makers–strong enough for new startup companies to align around them with business models focused on them. While the Apache Software Foundation has has announced many of these, some of the bigger tech companies are contributing as well.

    Now Yahoo has open sourced a distributed “publish and subscribe” messaging system dubbed Pulsar that’s capable of scaling while protecting low latencies. Yahoo uses Pulsar to drive several of its own in-house applications.

  • Arya.ai launches open source tool called Braid to rapidly integrate AI into systems

    Artificial Intelligence start-up Arya.ai announced on Monday the global launch of ‘Braid, an open Source tool to build intelligence quickly into systems. “Open sourcing key tools in AI, will help discover newer, interesting and more impactful use cases and applications for AI that we may not have even thought of,” said Vinay Kumar Sankarapu, CEO and founder of Arya.ai.

    Technology companies and start-ups trying to create products that use Artificial Intelligence are racing to build neural networks. By their very nature however, neural networks are complex and call for Deep Learning. Building neural networks, which are not unlike actual human brains with their complex layers, is a resource-intensive, expensive and time consuming process. And yet, these need to function flawlessly at large scale to handle tasks like speech and language processing, image processing, intelligent virtual assistants and even self-driving cars.

  • BTC.com Launches New, Open Source Mining Pool

    BTC.com has launched a new, open source bitcoin mining pool. Out of the gate, the pool seems to have some advantages in the pool sector of the mining industry. They have iOS and Android apps ready from launch, but the highlight is the efficient system underneath the platform.

  • How to Participate in Open Source Projects

    Some huge startup successes in recent years have come from the open source community, but many developers are still hesitant to devote much (or any) of their spare time to new open source projects. For those that do recognize the value, there’s still the question of how to participate, and in what? Allow us to help.

  • EximBank deploys Allevo open-source FinTP to achieve Sepa compliance

    As the SEPA scheme becomes applicable for non-Euro countries as well, EximBank, a Romanian state-owned bank dedicated to corporate financing, chooses to partner with Allevo in order to ensure the smooth alignment of bank operations to the Sepa standard.

    By implementing the open-source transactions processing solution offered by Allevo, the bank now processes its low-value payment instructions denominated in Euro according to the industry requirements.

  • SaaS/Back End

  • Databases

    • Copyleft and data: database law as (poor) platform

      Defenders of copyleft often have to point out that copyleft isn’t necessarily anti-copyright, because copyleft depends on copyright. This is true, of course, but the more I think about databases and open licensing, the more I think “copyleft depends on copyright” almost understates the case – global copyleft depends not just on “copyright”, but on very specific features of the international copyright system which database law lacks.

  • Education

    • Open Library Foundation Established

      The Open Library Foundation has been established to promote open source projects for libraries and to foster and support contribution, distribution, and sustainability of the benefits of these projects. The foundation provides the infrastructure for librarians, developers, designers, service providers, and vendors to collaborate with innovative open source technologies and develop transformative solutions for libraries.

  • BSD

  • Public Services/Government

    • Can open source and education save our electronic voting systems?

      With the recent disclosures of Democratic National Committee emails, allegations the election is rigged and other political machinations, conversations about the security of the general election are growing more frequent. People are asking, “How safe is my vote?”

      It has become such an important issue that Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson discussed classifying election systems as critical infrastructure, entitling the states to the same level of cyber protection as the national power grid and the financial system. While classifying election infrastructure as critical may be a step in the right direction, it won’t be a cure-all for what ails us. To save our electronic voting system, we need to learn from the past to ready our systems for future demands.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

    • Open Government Partnership turning five, refocusing on transformative impact

      This month, the Open Government Partnership (OGP) is celebrating its fifth anniversary. Over the past five years the project has grown into a movement of 70 countries and thousands of civil society organisations, together creating National Action Plans whose implementation is assessed by the Independent Reporting Mechanism (IRM).

    • Licensing with Open Source and Creative Commons: Not as Simple as it Seems

      The culture of sharing is deeply embedded in the 3D printing community. This doesn’t mean that it is universal, but rather that it is more of a choice not to participate. Sharing openly is seen as something to be declared proudly and its absence somewhat suspiciously regarded. A recent think piece authored by Michael Weinberg (tagline for his blog: ‘I put things here so they are on the internet’) brings to light some interesting difficulties being brought about by the success of the open source and Creative Commons copyright movements.

    • Global citizens unite to improve housing with open design and development

      Mass-scale collaboration in free and open source software has proven so successful the concept has expanded to free and open source hardware. A strong case can be made that the area of hardware with the most promise for an open source approach is appropriate technology (AT).

    • Open Hardware/Modding

      • I Built A Smart Clock

        Software is my comfort zone, you don’t get burnt, electrocuted, or spend a whole day 3D printing just to find out your design is shit. My plan was to compensate for all the hardware imperfection in software. Have it be self-tuning, smart and terrific.

        I chose to have NodeJS drive the clock. Mostly because I have recently got comfortable with it, but also because it is easy to give this project a slick web interface.

  • Programming/Development

    • The unspeakable horror of Visual Studio PDB files

      When compiling C-like languages, debug information is not a problem. It gets written in the object file along with code and when objects are linked to form an executable or shared library, each individual file’s debug info is combined and written in the result file. If necessary, this information can then be stripped into a standalone file.

      This seems like the simplest thing in the world. Which it is. Unless you are Microsoft.

Leftovers

  • Health/Nutrition

    • With Nod to Flint Crisis, Senate Weighs a $9 Billion Water Infrastructure Bill

      With senators in a standoff over annual spending bills, the chamber is expected as soon as Wednesday to take up a bipartisan, $9 billion measure that would authorize spending on the nation’s water infrastructure. The bill includes $280 million to address the crisis over contaminated drinking water in Flint, Mich., as well as funding to combat the pollution runoff that has fed the vast bloom of algae in the waterways of southeastern Florida.

      The water bill, introduced by Senators Barbara Boxer, Democrat of California, and James M. Inhofe, Republican of Oklahoma, is a rare sign of agreement between one of the most liberal and one of the most conservative members of Congress. It has wide bipartisan support, and staff members expect it to receive more than 80 votes.

      However, the prospects for combining the bill with a more modest $5 billion House measure, which contains none of the Flint provisions, remain uncertain.

    • How the Sugar Industry Shifted Blame to Fat

      The sugar industry paid scientists in the 1960s to play down the link between sugar and heart disease and promote saturated fat as the culprit instead, newly released historical documents show.

      The internal sugar industry documents, recently discovered by a researcher at the University of California, San Francisco, and published Monday in JAMA Internal Medicine, suggest that five decades of research into the role of nutrition and heart disease, including many of today’s dietary recommendations, may have been largely shaped by the sugar industry.

      “They were able to derail the discussion about sugar for decades,” said Stanton Glantz, a professor of medicine at U.C.S.F. and an author of the JAMA paper.

    • Sugar industry bought off scientists, skewed dietary guidelines for decades

      Back in the 1960s, a sugar industry executive wrote fat checks to a group of Harvard researchers so that they’d downplay the links between sugar and heart disease in a prominent medical journal—and the researchers did it, according to historical documents reported Monday in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine.

      One of those Harvard researchers went on to become the head of nutrition at the United States Department of Agriculture, where he set the stage for the federal government’s current dietary guidelines. All in all, the corrupted researchers and skewed scientific literature successfully helped draw attention away from the health risks of sweets and shift the blame solely to fats—for nearly five decades. The low-fat, high-sugar diets that health experts subsequently encouraged are now seen as a main driver of the current obesity epidemic.

      The bitter revelations come from archived documents from the Sugar Research Foundation (now the Sugar Association), dug up by researchers at the University of California, San Francisco. Their dive into the old, sour affair highlights both the perils of trusting industry-sponsored research to inform policy and the importance of requiring scientists to disclose conflicts of interest—something that didn’t become the norm until years later. Perhaps most strikingly, it spotlights the concerning power of the sugar industry.

      “These findings, our analysis, and current Sugar Association criticisms of evidence linking sucrose to cardiovascular disease suggest the industry may have a long history of influencing federal policy,” the authors concluded.

    • Military data reveals obesity issue, and it’s getting worse

      It’s not exactly clear why America’s military personnel are getting fatter. Could be that 15 years of war have weakened the focus on fitness. Could be that millennials, with their penchant for sedentary activities like playing video games and killing time on social media, aren’t always up to the rigors of military life. Could be all the burgers, fries, cakes and pies served in chow halls around the world.

      And maybe, too, the military is simply reflecting the nation’s broader population, whose poor eating habits are fueling an alarming rise obesity rates.

      This much is clear, though: Today’s military is fatter than ever.

    • Shifting Mindsets To Improve Access To Medicine

      When I took on the leadership of the Access to Medicine Foundation from Wim Leereveld, our long-time CEO and founder, the first order of business was to carve the Foundation’s path for the years ahead. To balance my ideas, as well as the evidence we already had on the influence of our work, I wanted to hear first-hand what value we bring to people.

      We also discussed many inspiring ideas – mindset shifts – that would improve access to medicine. I want to share some of them with you. Some ideas will be familiar, while others may be new. I hope they provide food for thought and inspiration to engage with our work in new ways.

      [...]

      Private sector players must also lend their expertise. Not only the big pharma companies, but also local healthcare companies, banks, logistics firms and so on. To achieve universal health coverage, we need to collectively address incentives for innovation and guarantee a sustainable, reliable supply of affordable healthcare products and services. At the Access to Medicine Foundation, our analysis has revealed examples of how pharma companies are taking action. We need equivalent insight into how other players are stepping up.

  • Security

    • Moving towards a more secure web

      To help users browse the web safely, Chrome indicates connection security with an icon in the address bar. Historically, Chrome has not explicitly labelled HTTP connections as non-secure. Beginning in January 2017 (Chrome 56), we’ll mark HTTP sites that transmit passwords or credit cards as non-secure, as part of a long-term plan to mark all HTTP sites as non-secure.

    • UK Politician’s Campaign Staff Tweets Out Picture Of Login And Password To Phones During Campaign Phone Jam

      When we talk password security here at Techdirt, those conversations tend to revolve around stories a bit above and beyond the old “people don’t use strong enough passwords” trope. While that certainly is the case, we tend to talk more about how major corporations aren’t able to learn their lessons about storing customer passwords in plain text, or about how major media outlets are occasionally dumb enough to ask readers to submit their own passwords in an unsecure fashion.

      But for the truly silly, we obviously need to travel away from the world of private corporations and directly into the world of politicians, who often times are tasked with legislating on matters of data security and privacy, but who cannot help but show their own ineptness on the matter themselves. Take Owen Smith, for example. Smith is currently attempting to become the head of the UK’s Labour Party, with his campaign working the phones as one would expect. And, because this is the age of social media engagement, one of his campaign staffers tweeted out the following photo of the crew hard at work.

    • WiredTree Warns Linux Server Administrators To Update In Wake Of Critical Off-Path Kernel Vulnerability

      WiredTree, a leading provider of managed server hosting, has warned Linux server administrators to update their servers in response to the discovery of a serious off-path vulnerability in the Linux kernel’s handling of TCP connections.

    • How OPNFV Earned Its Security Stripes and Received a CII Best Practices Badge

      Earning the CII badge will have a HUGE impact on OPNFV’s general approach to building security into the development model (something all open source projects should model). Statistics show that around 50 percent of vulnerabilities in a software are “flaws” (usually design fault/defective design, which is hard to fix after software has been released) and 50 percent bugs (implementation fault). Following these best practices will hopefully address both design and implementation faults before they become vulnerabilities.

    • MySQL Hit By “Critical” Remote Code Execution 0-Day

      The latest high-profile open-source software project having a bad security day is MySQL… MySQL 5.5/5.6/5.7 has a nasty zero-day vulnerability.

      Researchers have discovered multiple “severe” MySQL vulnerabilities with the CVE-2016-6662 being marked as critical and does affect the latest MySQL version.

      This 0-day is open for both local and remote attackers and could come via authenticated access to a MySQL database (including web UI administration panels) or via SQL injection attacks. The exploit could allow attackers to execute arbitrary code with root privileges.

    • CVE-2016-6662 – MySQL Remote Root Code Execution / Privilege Escalation ( 0day )
    • Is Debian the gold standard for Linux security?
    • 10 Best Password Managers For Linux Operating Systems

      With so many online accounts on the internet, it can be tediously difficult to remember all your passwords. Many people write them down or store them in a document, but that’s plain insecure. There are many password managers for Windows and OS X, but here we’ll look at some of the best password managers for Linux.

    • Security advisories for Monday
    • Linux with a irc trojan.
    • On Experts

      There are a rather large number of people who think they are experts, some think they’re experts at everything. Nobody is an expert at everything. People who claim to have done everything should be looked at with great suspicion. Everyone can be an expert at something though.

    • OPM Hacking Report Says Agency Missed One Set Of Attacks, Spent Little On Cybersecurity [Ed: spent on Windows]

      The twice-hacked Office of Personnel Management has had little to offer but promises of “taking security seriously” and free identity theft protection for the thousands of government employees whose personal information was pried loose by hackers.

      Twice-hacked, because there was one breach the OPM did discover, and one it didn’t. While it spent time walling off the breach it had detected, another went unnoticed, leaking enough info on government employees that the CIA began worrying about the safety of agents located abroad.

      A new report [PDF] by the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform (which AP refers to but, oddly, does not feel compelled to LINK to, despite it being a completely PUBLIC document) details where the OPM initially went wrong.

    • Hollywood Keeps Insisting Tech Is Easy, Yet Can’t Secure Its Own Screeners

      While some will just look at this and mock Hollywood for bad security practices, it does raise more serious questions: if Hollywood can’t figure out its own (basic) technology issues, why does it think that the tech industry should solve all its problems for it? If it doesn’t even understand the basics, how can it insist that those in Silicon Valley can fix the things that it doesn’t understand itself?

      We’re already seeing this with the MPAA’s ridiculous and misguided freakout over the FCC’s plan to have cable companies offer up app versions so that authorized subscribers can access authorized, licensed content. The MPAA and its think tank friends keep falsely insisting that the FCC’s recommendation requires the cable companies to ship the actual content to third parties. But the plan has never said that. It only required that third-party devices be able to access the content — such as by passing through credentials so that the content could flow from the (licensed) cable service to the end user.

      The fact that these guys don’t seem to understand the basics of how the technology works comes through not just in the fact that they failed to secure their screener system, but also in the policy proposals that they keep making. It’s becoming increasingly difficult to take those policies seriously when they seem to be based on a fundamental ignorance of how technology actually works.

  • Defence/Aggression

    • France foiling terror plots ‘daily’ – Prime Minister Manuel Valls

      The French prime minister has said the country’s security services are foiling terror plots and dismantling militant networks “every day”.

      Manuel Valls said about 15,000 people were being monitored for radicalisation as the country continues its drive against jihadist militants.

      Previously the authorities said about 10,000 were identified as high-risk.

      A boy of 15 was arrested at his home in Paris on Saturday on suspicion of planning an attack over the weekend.

      Investigators said he had been under surveillance since April and he had been in touch with a French member of so-called Islamic State (IS), Rachid Kassim.

    • French PM: More terror attacks coming, 15,000 under surveillance

      France must expect “new attacks” by terrorists, with more “innocent victims,” the French prime minister Manuel Valls warned yesterday when he spoke on Europe 1 radio. He also revealed that French police are monitoring 15,000 people who are “in a process of radicalisation.”

      Valls told the radio station: “every day, the intelligence services, the police, the national gendarmerie, thwart attacks, and track down terrorists. We are a target, everyone understands this. This week, at least two attacks have been foiled.”

      More information about one of those planned attacks has now emerged. Several women and a 15-year-old boy have been arrested in connection with a failed terror attack on Notre Dame cathedral in Paris. The Guardian reports that one woman has been charged.

    • Fifteen Years After 9/11, Blindness to the Islamist Threat Is Official Policy

      If there is a theme to this 15th annual observance — the word “anniversary” just seems so wrong — of the most lethal enemy attack ever carried out on American soil, it is erasure.

      At least that’s what they’re being told in Owego, N.Y. There, a Muslim activist group is demanding that the town’s 9/11 memorial be erased. Not all of it; just the word “Islamic.”

      Carved into the memorial — the point of which is to signify that which we must never forget — is the factual assertion that, on September 11, 2001, “nineteen Islamic terrorists” carried out coordinated suicide-hijacking attacks against the United States.

    • Dozens of Aid Groups Say UN Relief Effort Being ‘Manipulated’ by Syrian Government

      In a stinging open letter (pdf), published exclusively by The Guardian, the 73 organizations announced their decision to withdraw from the Whole of Syria program due to concerns that UN agencies based in the Syrian capital of Damascus, as well as their partners, particularly the Syrian Arab Red Crescent (SARC), are operating and distributing aid “under the substantial influence” of the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

      Namely, the groups say, humanitarian programs are being implemented in government areas while besieged areas are being deprived of those same services.

      “The Syrian government has interfered with the delivery of humanitarian assistance in multiple instances, including the blocking of aid to besieged areas, the removal of medical aid from inter-agency convoys, the disregard for needs-assessments and information coming from humanitarian actors in Syria, and the marginalization of other humanitarian actors in the critical planning phases of crisis response,” states the letter, which was sent to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

    • 9/11 Fifteen Years After: What Might Have Been

      However, the 9/11 attacks have assumed a significance far greater than all other terrorist acts in the world.

      Most Americans believe that the terrorist attacks on 9/11 were unprovoked and came out of the blue. However, a quick glance at the history of American military involvement in the Middle East shows that many Muslims in the Middle East had been on the receiving end of many violent American invasions and attacks.

      To name just a few, during the First Persian Gulf War, (2 August 1990 – 28 February 1991), codenamed “Operation Desert Shield”, more than 100,000 sorties were flown dropping 88,500 tons of bombs, many against Iraqi targets not only in Kuwait but in Baghdad. Between 20,000 and 26,000 Iraqi military personnel were killed and 75,000 others were wounded, and there were at least 3,500 civilian fatalities from bombing.

      Apart from the attack on a bunker in Amiriyah, causing the deaths of 408 Iraqi civilians who were in the shelter, there was the attack on the fleeing Iraqis between Kuwait and Basra (known as Highway of Death), when between 1,400 and 2,000 vehicles were hit and up to 10,000 soldiers and civilians were killed.

    • ISIS Fighter Reveals Group’s Plan If Defeated in Syria

      This is the pattern all over Syria and Iraq. Protagonists may not love the side they are on, but at least it enables them to fight an enemy whom they fear and hate. He cites as an example one of his earlier commanders, a Kurdish emir named Abu Abbas al-Kurdistani, subsequently killed in battle, who had been imprisoned without trial and tortured in Iraqi Kurdistan for four years. Kurdistani said that Isis was ideal for himself because it was “the best option for oppressed people” and gave him “the opportunity to take revenge.” Nowhere in the interview does Faraj acknowledge the role that Isis atrocities have played, not just in Syria and Iraq but across the world, in creating a host of enemies for the movement who now encircle it and are threatening to overwhelm it.

    • Jill Stein: I would not have assassinated bin Laden

      Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein said in an interview published Sunday that she would not have ordered the assassination of Osama bin Laden.

      Marking the 15th anniversary of September 11 terror attacks, Stein instead told the Des Moines Register that she would have tried to bring the terror leader to trial in accordance with international law.

      “I think assassinations … they’re against international law to start with and to that effect, I think I would not have assassinated Osama bin laden but would have captured him and brought him to trial,” Stein said while campaigning in Iowa over the weekend.

      Stein also pointed to recent reports hinting at the involvement of some Saudi Arabian officials in the attacks.
      “I think all evidence certainly points to bin Laden, but the 9/11 attackers had assistance and funding and bin Laden had assistance and funding.”

    • U.S. Cyber Command’s weapons will be created by contractors
  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • The Derangement Of Journalists Against Transparency

      Officials from President Barack Obama’s administration collude with Wall Street executives to push for the passage of the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement. The FBI monitors “professional protesters” in Baltimore and Ferguson. Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s aides discuss whether to release a video showing the extrajudicial killing of a young black man by the city’s police.

      Michigan Governor Rick Snyder withheld the results of lead testing in Flint. Immigration and Customs Enforcement privately lobbied against California legislation to reduce deportations of law-abiding immigrants. State Department officials likely colluded with TransCanada executives as early as 2011 on the Keystone XL pipeline project.

      All of these stories share something in common. The public learned about what government officials were doing because emails were subject to Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests. Journalists obtained those emails, and the public was able to use the information to mobilize opposition to government action.

      Vox’s Matt Yglesias recently outed himself as a Journalist Against Transparency or a jatter. He argued, very incorrectly, that emails and other electronic records produced by “conversational” communication tools should not be subject to FOIA.

      Over at Muck Rock, a site dedicated to helping the public pursue FOIA requests, Michael Morisy appropriately corrected Yglesias. He failed to mention anything about privacy exemptions or the so-called “deliberative process privilege,” which exists to protect officials from the exact thing he railed against in his piece: to enable frank conversations among government officials.

    • Colin Powell’s Email To Clinton About Personal Devices Shows Routing Around FOIA Is Business As Usual

      On one hand, Powell wanted to keep some communications (those with “friends”) private, which is understandable. On the other, he clearly states he conducted official business with his private device — including communications with other State Department officials, who were using their own personal email accounts.

      It’s not just a Powell thing or a Clinton thing. It’s a government thing. Many government officials utilize personal devices and accounts. Many of them get away with it. Many government officials say nice things about transparency, too — all the while creating a stockpile of “public” documents the public never gets a chance to see, much less know exists.

      The full statement — which was partially quoted in the FBI investigation documents — shows routing around FOIA requirements, record preservation policies, and government accountability ideals comes as naturally to government officials as board of directors’ positions at favored corporations following retirement from the public sector. After discussing the issues he had with State Department security, the NSA, CIA, etc. about the supposed threat personal devices posed to government security, Powell notes the real threat is… the public.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • Oceans Are Absorbing Almost All of the Globe’s Excess Heat

      Ocean temperatures have been consistently rising for at least three decades. Scientists believe that global sea surface temperatures will continue to increase over the next decade as greenhouse gases build up in the atmosphere.

      According to a report by the International Union for Conservation of Nature released last week, the Southern Hemisphere has experienced intense warming over the past decade, with strong heat accumulation in the midlatitude regions of the Pacific and Indian Oceans.

      Natural patterns such as El Niño and La Niña can have year-to-year effects on temperatures. Individual storms can also influence ocean temperatures for months or longer. But the overall temperature trends by decade reveal a backdrop of human-caused warming.

    • Indonesian firms pay farmers to be slash-and-burn ‘fall guys’

      Pay a landowner in Sumatra as little as 500,000 rupiah, or just S$52, and he will clear his land for farming using the easiest and cheapest method possible – fire.

      Throw in a few hundred dollars more and he will farm any crop, from oil palm to trees for pulpwood, on his land, which can vary in size from one to a few dozen hectares.

      Such arrangements by plantation firms are not only common in rural Indonesia, but they also make locals ready “fall guys” for the companies when the authorities look for culprits of slash-and-burn violations, say green activists.

      “The firms use the farmers as their shields, which absolve them of wrongdoing because it shifts the blame squarely on the farmers,” said Greenpeace Indonesia campaigner Yuyun Indradi.

      Plantation conglomerates and their suppliers are often accused of turning a blind eye when farmers they pay to plant their crops use fire to clear land, he said.

    • Fukushima Backlash Hits Japan Prime Minister

      Nuclear power may never recover its cachet as a clean energy source, irrespective of safety concerns, because of the ongoing saga of meltdown 3/11/11 at Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant. Over time, the story only grows more horrific, painful, deceitful. It’s a story that will continue for generations to come.

      Here’s why it holds pertinence: As a result of total 100% meltdown, TEPCO (Tokyo Electric Power Company) cannot locate or remove the radioactive molten core or corium from the reactors. Nobody knows where it is. It is missing. If it is missing from within the reactor structures, has it burrowed into the ground? There are no ready answers.

      And, the destroyed nuclear plants are way too radioactive for humans to get close enough for inspection. And, robotic cameras get zapped! Corium is highly radioactive material, begging the question: If it has burrowed thru the containment vessel, does it spread underground, contaminating farmland and water resources and if so, how far away? Nobody knows?

    • Making Case for Clean Air, World Bank Says Pollution Cost Global Economy $5 Trillion

      Air pollution is the fourth-leading cause of premature deaths worldwide and the problem only continues to worsen, but governments have been reluctant to make the dramatic changes necessary to curb polluting industries in favor of cleaner alternatives.

      In an effort to strengthen the case for action, the World Bank along with the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington, Seattle released a joint study (pdf) Thursday warning about the economic effects of pollution-related fatalities.

      In 2013, one in every 10 deaths was caused by diseases associated with outdoor and household air pollution—such as lung cancer, stroke, heart disease, and chronic bronchitis. And, according to the study, these fatalities cost the global economy roughly $225 billion in lost labor income. That number rises to more than $5 trillion when accounting for so-called “welfare costs” —what people are willing to pay for the reduction or prevention of pollution-induced death.

    • Obama Pipeline Plot Twist Is Not a Victory—And Could Erase the Struggle

      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.

      The old chant, “The whole world is watching!” seemed on the verge of accuracy in Standing Rock.

    • London weather: Experts issue health warning as capital faces hottest September day in 10 years

      Experts have issued health warnings as Londoners prepare to bask in 30C heat on the hottest September day in a decade.

      The Met Office have issued a ‘level two’ heat warning across the capital tomorrow, as the city is set to be hotter than Mexico City.

      The flash heatwave has prompted fears that young children and the elderly could succumb to heat exhaustion and dehydration.

      A spokesman for the Met Office said: “This is an important stage for social and healthcare services who will be working to ensure readiness and swift action to reduce harm from a potential heatwave.

    • Health warnings issued as Britain set for hottest September day for 50 years

      Health warnings have been issued ahead of what promises to be the hottest September day in Britain for more than 50 years.

      As Britain basks in a three-day-heatwave this week, temperatures are due to peak at between 30C and 32C in some areas on Tuesday, with the balmy weather set to begin on Monday.

      The sizzling temperatures will be felt most in the East of England, the South East, the capital and the East Midlands, which will all be put on a heatwave Level 2 status from Monday evening, Public Health England (PHE) said.

    • Palm oil producer caught flouting codes of conduct

      A coalition of NGOs documenting deforestation in Indonesia has cast doubt on the effectiveness of the code of conduct used by the palm oil industry. EurActiv’s partner Journal de l’Environnement reports.

      It is the fire season in Indonesia: voluntary forest fires, lit by companies to clear tropical forest to make way for plantations of oil palms as far as the eye can see.

      The NGO coalition Mighty has accused Korindo, a Korean conglomerate with large interests in the wood industry and wind turbine construction, of being behind massive deforestation operations in Insodesia. The NGOs used footage from cameras mounted on drones, satellite photos and videos taken in the provinces of Papua and North Maluku to draw attention to the destruction of 50,000 hectares of virgin forest, home to birds of paradise, tree-kangaroos and thousands of other species.

    • Eurozone Says ‘No Thanks’ To Indonesian Nutmeg

      The European Union has banned imports of nutmeg from Indonesia after it was discovered the spice exceeded the safety limits for aflatoxin, a natural toxin produced by certain species of fungi which can cause liver failure.

      Indonesia’s nutmeg contains 200 part per billion aflatoxin, far exceeding EU’s required limit of 15 ppb.

      “Our supply of nutmeg has been rejected on several occasions, especially by Brussels [Belgium], said Banun Harpini, head of the agricultural quarantine body at the Agriculture Ministry.

  • Finance

    • EU finance ministers line up behind tax ruling against Apple

      Dutch Finance Minister Jeroen Dijsselbloem urged Apple Saturday to “get ready” to pay up, as he and counterparts from other EU nations lined up behind a finding that the technology giant owes billions of euros due to more than a decade of improperly low taxation.

      Apple’s bill could reach 19 billion euros ($21 billion) with interest, and both the company and Ireland, Apple’s European headquarters are appealing the European Commission ruling. But on the last day of an EU finance ministers’ meeting focused on ways to harmonize tax rules for international companies, Dijsselbloem told reporters that these “have an obligation to pay taxes in a fair way.”

    • When your boss is an algorithm

      “We are people, not Uber’s tools!”

    • Saudia Arabia: Can’t Pay Its Bills, Yet Funds War on Yemen

      Almost exactly a year after Salman bin Albdulaziz Al Saud, king of Saudi Arabia, Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques and head of the House of Saud, hurriedly left his millionaire’s mansion near Cannes with his 1,000 servants to continue his vacation in Morocco, the kingdom’s cash is not flowing so smoothly for the tens of thousands of sub-continental expatriates sweating away on his great building sites.

      Almost unreported outside the Kingdom, the country’s big construction magnates – including that of the Binladen group – have not been paid by the Saudi government for major construction projects and a portion of the army of Indian, Pakistani, Sri Lankan and other workers have received no wages, some of them for up to seven months.

      Indian and Pakistani embassies approached the Saudi government, pleading that their workers should be paid. Economists who adopt the same lickspittle attitude towards the Saudi monarchy as the British Government, constantly point out that the authorities have been overwhelmed by the collapse of oil prices. They usually prefer not to mention something at which the rest of the world remains aghast: deputy crown prince and defence minister Mohamed bin Salman’s wasteful and hopeless war in Yemen. Since the king’s favourite son launched this preposterous campaign against the Houthis last year, supporting the internationally recognized Yemeni president against Shia Muslim rebels, aircraft flown by Saudi and Emirati pilots (aided by British technical “experts” on the ground) have bombed even more hospitals, clinics and medical warehouses than America has destroyed in Serbia and Afghanistan combined since 1999.

      The result? A country with 16 per cent of the world’s proven oil reserves, whose Aramco oil company makes more than $1bn a day and now records a budget deficit of $100bn, cannot pay its bills. At first, the Yemen fiasco was called “Operation Decisive Storm”, which – once it proved the longest and least decisive Arab “storm” in the Middle East’s recent history – was changed to “Operation Restore Hope”. And the bombing went on, just as it did in the pre-“hope” “storm”, along with the help of the UK’s “experts”. No wonder the very same deputy crown prince Mohamed announced this year that state spending on salaries would be lowered, yet individual earnings would rise.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Doctor Says Hillary Clinton has Pneumonia After NYC Incident

      Clinton’s health has been an obsession of right-wing conspiracy theorists but Sunday’s events have now raised her health to the level of “legitimate campaign issue.”

    • Jill Stein in Iowa: I would not have assassinated Osama bin Laden

      Dr. Jill Stein, the Green Party’s candidate for president, said Sunday in Iowa that she would not have assassinated Osama bin Laden but would have brought him to justice for his role in the attacks on the United States on Sept. 11, 2001.

      “I think assassinations … they’re against international law to start with and to that effect, I think I would not have assassinated Osama bin Laden but would have captured him and brought him to trial,” Stein said.

      Bin Laden, the founder of al-Qaida, was shot and killed by U.S. special forces during a raid at a residence in Pakistan in 2011. The Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon, and a failed attack that downed a passenger jet in Pennsylvania, killed nearly 3,000 people. Today, tens of thousands of people have become ill and thousands have died from illnesses attributed to the attacks.

      Stein made her comments in an interview before her first Iowa campaign appearance, a rally that attracted more than 150 on the grounds of the Iowa State Capitol. The organizer and several of the speakers were former national delegates of Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders. During the rally, Stein argued for a renewable energy and jobs program that she says would eliminate fossil fuel use in the U.S. by 2030.

    • Why This FBI Whistleblower Seconds Jill Stein’s Call For A New 9/11 Investigation

      After the events of September 11, 2001, as a longtime FBI agent and division legal counsel, I blew the whistle on the FBI’s failure to act on information provided by the Minneapolis field office that could have prevented the attacks.

      On this sad 15th anniversary of 9/11, I am encouraged to see that Green Party Presidential Candidate Jill Stein put out a statement calling for a new investigation not afflicted by all the limitations, partisan obstacles and other problems that adversely affected the 9/11 Commission.

      It’s what so many of us have long called for, including me personally (see here and here) as someone with a front row seat to the FBI’s initial cover-ups. The FBI was only one of the agencies and political entities which strived to cover up the truth of why and how they all ignored a “system blinking red” in the months before the attacks. So successful had this been that when I testified to the Senate Judiciary Committee in June 2002, I actually felt I had to explain why the truth was important. That we “owed it to the public, especially the victims of terrorism, to be completely honest” and “learning from our mistakes” were two of the reasons I came up with.

    • How to avoid the FTC not “liking” your next campaign

      The US Federal Trade Commission is clamping down on native advertising and the use of endorsements on social media. A settlement with Lord & Taylor in March provides a number of lessons for brands, as outlined by Meryl Bernstein

    • Trump complains the debates will be “rigged,” suggests scrapping moderators

      One week ago, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump told reporters that despite his history of media bashing, he “respects” the four moderators selected by the Commission on Presidential Debates. Today Trump is already complaining that the moderators will be “very unfair” because they will go “really hard” on him.

      “So I think we should have a debate with no moderators,” Trump suggested on Monday, “just Hillary and I sitting there talking.”

    • Green Party Ballot Access at Highest Levels in 2016

      Green Party ballot access campaigns have had more success in 2016 than ever before, according to Rick Lass, Ballot Access Coordinator for the Jill Stein campaign.

      You can check out the Greens’ infographic to see states turn green as each state’s required signatures are submitted. So far, 43 states are green. Lass is sure that Greens will make it onto 44 state ballots, plus Washington, D.C.

      The only state so far, with no chance of turning green is South Dakota. Greens failed to gain ballot access there, and the state does not allow write-in campaigns. Greens failed to gain ballot access, but will be running write-in campaigns in Indiana, North Carolina, and Georgia.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • The narrow Facebook mindset

      We live in a time of trigger warnings, safe spaces, and young people being offended by other people’s opinions – to a point where they seem to be perfectly willing to silence others.

      For society, this is disastrous. For a community to evolve, different opinions and ideas must be tested against each other in a free and open debate. Especially unconventional or controversial ones. Without a free exchange of thoughts, democracy becomes pointless. Without diversity, our culture will die. Without new input, there will be no progress.

      Especially young people ought to question everything, explore new ideas and oppose conformity. Instead, today many of them seem to be narrow-minded, politically conform, anxious, and frantic. I’m pretty sure this is a new phenomenon.

      Why are people so easily offended, upset and disgruntled these days?

    • Governments Around the World Deny Internet Access to Political Opponents

      Whether or not your ethnic group has political power in the country where you live is a crucial factor determining your access to the Internet, according to a new analysis.

      The effect varies from country to country, and is much less pronounced in democratic nations. But the study, published today in Science, suggests that besides censorship, another way national governments prevent opposing groups from organizing online is by denying them Internet access in the first place, says Nils Weidmann, a professor of political science at the University of Konstanz in Germany.

      Internet access is clearly linked to individuals’ socioeconomic status and the level of development where they live. These factors contribute to “digital divides” seen throughout the world. In the new analysis, Weidmann and his coauthors aimed to shed light on a factor that isn’t as well understood: political divisions between ethnic groups.

    • Five innovative ways social media has been used to avoid censorship

      George Orwell once said “freedom is the right to tell people what they do not want to hear”. By that definition, social media is the perfect place to express our freedom, either by posting ill-informed political opinions or telling celebrities we think they’re rubbish.

      It’s been 12 years since the launch of Facebook, Twitter is 10, and Instagram is 6. For 2.3 billion of us, social media has become embedded in our daily lives, even changing the terminology we use. We Instagram rather than than taking a photo, we Facebook rather than update our friends.

      But beyond pedestrian daily posts, social media has also been used to showcase amazing displays of human solidarity: #LoveWins in Orlando, #YesAllWomen to fight sexism and #BringBackOurGirls to tackle terrorism.

      Here are five of the most unique and brilliant ways social media has been used to avoid censorship and out the truth.

    • Univision Execs Have No Backbone: Pull A Bunch Of Gawker Stories Over Legal Disputes

      People celebrating the “demise” of Gawker in being forced into bankruptcy by a questionable lawsuit and ruling from Hulk Hogan, financed by Peter Thiel keep insisting that it has no real impact on the freedom of the press. And yet… things keep showing that’s wrong. Gawker filed for bankruptcy and sold off its assets to media giant Univision, who agreed to close down the flagship Gawker site, and redistribute some of the reporters to other sites. But late Friday, Univision management made another decision, and this one is horrific: they agreed to delete six stories on the site (with a seventh one being considered) because those stories were the subject of lawsuits against Gawker.

      The reasoning given by Univision is that it only agreed to buy the assets of Gawker, not the liabilities, and keeping those stories posted gave it liability. First of all, this is wrong on the legal side of things.

      [...]

      But that’s not the most disturbing thing here. The really problematic issue is that the stories that are being removed involve stories where the lawsuits are almost entirely completely bogus SLAPP suits designed to annoy Gawker, rather than with any serious legal basis. So, for example, the two stories that Gawker published about Shiva Ayyadurai, the guy who keeps trying to convince the world that he invented email when he didn’t. We’ve discussed Ayyadurai and his bogus claims many times, and also covered the lawsuit. There is no legitimate reason to take down those posts.

      Perhaps even more incredible is that Univision also agreed to take down the story that nutty troll Chuck C. Johnson had filed against Gawker over. That’s a lawsuit that is so ridiculous it was laughted out of court in Missouri. And while Johnson filed a nearly identical lawsuit (including references to Missouri) in California, it was similarly going nowhere, and Johnson recently said that he’d dropped the case.

    • Bogus Defamation Lawsuit Using Fake Plaintiff And Defendant Challenged By Public Citizen

      More evidence has surfaced that the online reputation management business is shady as all hell. Previously, we’ve covered the use of fake websites used to generate bogus DMCA takedowns by copy-pasting negative reviews in full and claiming these were the original works of bogus contributors by backdating the posts. We’ve also covered the even shadier and more legally-dubious tactic of filing bogus lawsuits — using both fake plaintiffs and fake defendants — to obtain court orders to delist negative reviews, bypassing the site where they’re actually hosted in attempts to force Google, Yahoo, Bing, et al. to make them vanish from search results.

      Paul Alan Levy of Public Citizen — thanks to the investigative skills of FIRE employee/Popehat contributor Adam Steinbaugh — has uncovered another bogus libel lawsuit targeting negative reviews and comments. The standard M.O. is in effect. “Plaintiff” magically locates person behind anonymous review and gets them to sign a retraction. This legal paperwork never makes its way to the site where the review is actually hosted, however. The court order obtained through bogus means is instead served to search engines, resulting in the desired effect: the vanishing of negative content.

      This follows closely on the heels of a bogus lawsuit in which the person whose name appears as a plaintiff claimed to have no input in the legal proceedings. While the jury (not the courtroom one) is still out on those claims, in this case it’s been confirmed that the supposed plaintiff had nothing to do with the lawsuit containing his apparently forged signature.

    • Facebook is imposing prissy American censorship on the whole rest of the world

      Dontcha just hate it when this happens? As content curator for one of the world’s largest social media platforms, you delete a picture you consider obscene. Then some Norwegian woman writes an angry post. So you delete her post, too.

      I mean, who does she think she is? The Prime Minister of Norway? Oh wait.

      In case you missed it: last week, Norwegian author Tom Egeland posted to his timeline the Pulitzer Prize-winning photo The Terror of War, which depicts children, including a naked girl, running from a napalm attack, as a status concerning photos that “changed the history of warfare” .

      Egeland’s account was suspended. The editor-in-chief of Norway’s largest newspaper, Aftenposten, then published an open letter to Mark Zuckerberg protesting Facebook’s actions, and including the photo.

    • Facebook thanks Norway PM after censorship row
    • Facebook has the disturbing power to rewrite our collective history

      In 1972, a harrowing photograph of a young girl screaming out in pain from a napalm burn was on the front page of newspapers around the world. This photo taken by Nick Ut is often credited with helping to make real for audiences the atrocities of the Vietnam War, contributing to a shift in public opinion of the long-running conflict. It is an essential part of our collective history and shared visual consciousness. And last week, Facebook tried to censor it.

      Facebook initially defended its decision to take down the photo because its subject, a young girl, is naked—a violation of the company’s community standards. Facebook has since reversed its decision, acknowledging “the history and global importance of this image in documenting a particular moment in time.” But the larger issues raised by Facebook’s censorship of this historical image are far from resolved.

      While most people have seen Ut’s photo, few know the young girl’s story. In one of the defining events of my life, I had the opportunity to meet and interview Kim Phuc, the subject of this iconic photograph.

    • Facebook Admits Pulitzer-Winning Photograph Is Not Child Pornography

      You probably recognise Nick Ut’s infamous 1972 photograph of charred Vietnamese children running away from the site of a napalm incidienary bomb detonated by the South Vietnamese Air Force in Trang Bang. Earlier this week, however, Facebook effectively banned the Pulitzer-winning photograph from its own site. Now the site is backtracking as quickly as it can.

    • SABC 8 journalist will continue fight against censorship following resignation

      One of the SABC 8, journalist Jacques Steenkamp who announced his resignation on Monday, will continue to fight censorship at the public broadcaster, his wife Nadia told News24.

      “He was unhappy and he made his mind up to resign and accepted a job in Auckland in New Zealand. Even after court nothing has really changed for him but he is still intent on fighting censorship at the SABC,” Nadia told News24.

      Steenkamp will be starting at his new job at the Sunday Star Times as a news director on November 21.

      “He is not immigrating. Nothing stops him from coming back to South Africa. He loved the SABC until things started changing,” she said.

    • Why Facebook’s “It’s too hard” excuse for Vietnam war photo takedown is bullshit

      On Friday, Facebook started deleting posts containing “The Terror of War,” Nick Ut’s photo depicting a young Vietnamese girl fleeing a napalm attack on her village; Facebook approach this photo with a scorched earth (ahem) policy, even deleting it when it was posted by the Prime Minister of Norway.

      Facebook’s excuse for this is that “it’s difficult to create a distinction between allowing a photograph of a nude child in one instance and not others.”

      Dan Hon’s magnificent rant in response goes like this: the engineering mindset that approaches difficult technical challenges with relish and gusto, but approaches difficult social challenges as though they were fundamentally insoluble and off-limits, is a giant, steaming cop-out. If you can build a billion-person, world-scale comms platform, can you credibly throw your hands up and give up on solving the problems it creates?

    • Face it, Mr Zuckerberg, you’re a news editor too

      Masters of the world can wobble wildly when prodded hard from below – when, for example, a brushfire of derision and anger makes Facebook cancel its last announcement.

      See the sudden swirl of events. Facebook bans a famous war picture of a naked Vietnamese girl fleeing US napalm attack from its pages. The Norwegian writer of the news feature related to it protests and gets dumped from the site for his pains. Norway’s prime minister is similarly treated. But the battling editor of Aftenposten, writing a “Dear Mark” front-page letter, finally wins a full Zuckerberg retreat in a mumble of words about “adjusting our review mechanisms”.

      So much for the laughing cavaliers of Silicon Valley, looking arthritically bureaucratic. Thanks for waking up “dear Mark”. But there’s a lasting point here that must come and come again.

      Facebook, though now the biggest carrier of digital news on Planet Earth, says it isn’t an editor or publisher, merely a humble platform. But now watch it change algorithms like any publisher in a jam. Watch it take editorial decisions, switching idiocy for sense. And watch it drain advertising revenue pretty voraciously from the news sites it carries. Dear Mark is part of our news world now. And he needs to be fully, intelligently engaged in it.

    • Israel Meets Facebook Officials Over Incitement Complaints
    • University of Chicago Dean Takes Stand Against Tyranny of Political Correctness, Censorship
    • COMMENTARY: Colleges need to confront the ‘snowflake situation’
    • Williams: Academic giants and dwarfs

      The University of Chicago’s president, Dr. Robert J. Zimmer, wrote a Wall Street Journal article, titled “Free Speech Is the Basis of a True Education.” In it, he wrote: “Free speech is at risk at the very institution where it should be assured: the university. Invited speakers are disinvited because a segment of a university community deems them offensive, while other orators are shouted down for similar reasons. Demands are made to eliminate readings that might make some students uncomfortable. Individuals are forced to apologize for expressing views that conflict with prevailing perceptions. In many cases, these efforts have been supported by university administrators.”

    • WH: Administration ‘Prided Itself’ on Transparency, Has Record FOIA Censorship

      White House Spokesman Josh Earnest says the Obama Administration “has prided itself and made transparency in government a genuine priority,” as the Associated Press reports 77% of Freedom of Information (FOIA) requests are censored or completely denied.

      “This administration has prided itself and made transparency in government a genuine priority and he (President Obama) believes the American people were well served by that, he believes that our government is more effective because of the way that he has made that principal a genuine priority in this administration,” Earnest said during a White House press conference on Monday.

    • Overseas anime censorship gives the Love Live! girls gigantic dick arms

      …by making it seem like the young ladies have gigantic penises growing out of their shoulder sockets. That’s instantly what many thought they were seeing in Japan, where a mosaic effect is placed over genitalia in adult videos.

      As you’d expect, Love Live! is heavy on musical scenes, and idol choreography involves a lot of outstretched hands, which help promote a feeling of oneness with the audience. Unfortunately, Japanese pop idols aren’t the first group to show enthusiasm for posing with a raised arm.

    • Facebook Is Collaborating With the Israeli Government to Determine What Should Be Censored
    • Facebook and Israeli Government Team Up to Censor Posts
    • Facebook to censor violent anti-Semitic incitement
    • Facebook works with Israel to curb posts inciting violence
    • Facebook and Google team-up with Israel to censor posts inciting violence
    • Facebook, Israel Seal Deal to Crack Down on Palestinians Online
    • Israel meets Facebook officials over incitement complaints
    • Facebook Complying With 95% of Israeli Requests to Remove Inciting Content, Minister Says
    • Facebook and Israel Agree to Tackle Terrorist Media Together
    • Facebook Teams Up With Israel Against Social Media Terror, Incitement
    • Facebook, Israel planning to oversee “incitement” of violence on platform
    • Facebook. Complied with 95% of the government’s removal requests.
    • Shaked: ‘Penny has dropped’ for Facebook on incitement
    • ‘Facebook removed 95% of terror incitement requested by Israel’
    • Shaked and Erdan meet with Facebook heads to remove posts inciting anti-Semitism
    • Israel, Facebook to set up joint anti-incitement teams
    • Facebook removes terror-inciting content at Israel’s request
    • Facebook to work with Israel over terrorist incitement online
    • Senior Facebook execs in Israel to talk about social-media incitement
    • Facebook partners with Israel to end violence
  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Landlords Are Using a New Digital Tool to Dig Up Dirt on Potential Tenants

      With record-high housing prices in some Canadian cities, a lot of people are having a tough time finding a decent place to live. Landlords are being inundated with applications. Well, those landlords have a new tool to screen their wannabe tenants: Naborly, a startup that analyzes up to 500 data points on each potential renter, scouring everything from media mentions to Facebook profiles, even accounting for employment stability to warn landlords if a tenant might struggle to pay rent.

      Dylan Lenz, the Toronto-based founder of Naborly, was inspired to make the website after travelling to India with his wife in the summer of 2014. They rented out a property they owned in Kelowna, BC, and came back to find what he describes as $22,000 worth of damage. “This was an awful experience,” Lenz recalled in an interview. “The basement was flooded due to the tenants trying to make an above-ground swimming pool, and there were two giant trucks of garbage on the property.”

      [...]

      Naborly’s software, for example, can scour publicly available social media sources to verify an applicant’s identity, or to figure out if they might have a pet dog that they didn’t disclose with their application.

      Naborly also looks at macroeconomic trends such as the price of gas, the stability of the economy locally versus nationally, and how that applicant’s field of work is faring.

      “If someone is a 28-year-old graphic designer in Toronto, our software can compare you to others in that same field, age group and region and see what would happen if that designer is placed in the requested property,” Lenz said.

    • Does the NSA have a duty to disclose zero-day exploits?

      To say the National Security Agency (NSA) prefers to lay low and shuns the limelight is an understatement. One joke said about the secretive group, widely regarded as the most skilled state-sponsored hackers in the world, is NSA actually stands for “No Such Agency.”

      But now a recent leak has put the group right where it loathes to be—squarely in the headlines. Last month, a group called “The Shadow Brokers” published what it claimed were a set of NSA “cyber weapons,” a combination of exploits, both zero day and long past, designed to target routers and firewalls from American manufacturers, including Cisco, Juniper and Fortinet.

    • Long-Secret Stingray Manuals Detail How Police Can Spy on Phones

      Harris Corp.’s Stingray surveillance device has been one of the most closely guarded secrets in law enforcement for more than 15 years. The company and its police clients across the United States have fought to keep information about the mobile phone-monitoring boxes from the public against which they are used. The Intercept has obtained several Harris instruction manuals spanning roughly 200 pages and meticulously detailing how to create a cellular surveillance dragnet.

      Harris has fought to keep its surveillance equipment, which carries price tags in the low six figures, hidden from both privacy activists and the general public, arguing that information about the gear could help criminals. Accordingly, an older Stingray manual released under the Freedom of Information Act to news website TheBlot.com last year was almost completely redacted. So too have law enforcement agencies at every level, across the country, evaded almost all attempts to learn how and why these extremely powerful tools are being used — though court battles have made it clear Stingrays are often deployed without any warrant. The San Bernardino Sheriff’s Department alone has snooped via Stingray, sans warrant, over 300 times.

    • Why Oliver Stone’s Snowden is the Best Film of the Year
    • We Interview Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Zachary Quinto & More for Snowden
    • ACLU & ‘Snowden’ Director Call on Obama to Pardon Edward Snowden
    • Joseph Gordon-Levitt Explains Why He’s the Perfect Person to Play Snowden
    • The ACLU Is About to Launch a Campaign Asking Obama to Pardon Edward Snowden
    • ACLU seeks an Obama pardon for NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden
    • Edward Snowden: ACLU and Amnesty seek presidential pardon
    • ACLU and Amnesty International ask Obama to pardon Snowden
    • Human Rights Groups to Launch All-Out ‘Pardon Snowden’ Campaign
    • The ACLU is launching a campaign to pardon Edward Snowden
    • Oliver Stone Talks Secrets, Spies, and Snowden
    • Director Oliver Stone Feared Being Hacked While Making Snowden Film
    • What Should Happen to Edward Snowden? A Q&A With His Lawyer
    • ACLU campaign to argue Obama should pardon Snowden
    • Shailene Woodley on ‘Snowden,’ whether she’ll do next ‘Divergent’ film
    • ‘Snowden’ director Oliver Stone urges Obama to issue pardon
    • Oliver Stone on “boy scout”-like Edward Snowden
    • Joseph Gordon-Levitt on playing whistleblower Edward Snowden
    • Transcript of Alan Rusbridger’s Lunch with the FT with Edward Snowden
    • Here’s How Joseph Gordon-Levitt Nailed His Edward Snowden Voice
    • Joseph Gordon-Levitt explains that odd Edward Snowden voice he does in his new biopic
    • The Snowden Movie Might Actually Be Worth Seeing
    • The NSA whistleblowers who vetted Oliver Stone’s ‘Snowden’ biopic
    • ‘I hope Obama pardons Snowden’: Director Oliver Stone hails subject of his new biopic about NSA contractor who revealed U.S. government-run surveillance programs

      Renowned filmmaker Oliver Stone wants US President Barack Obama to pardon Edward Snowden.

      During an appearance at the Toronto film festival to promote the opening of his new movie, Stone, the conspiracy-loving director, spoke on behalf of the former NSA analyst who in 2013 revealed details of classified U.S. government surveillance programs.

      Since leaking the information, Snowden has been living in Russia, which granted him temporary asylum.

      After the revelations, Snowden fled to Hong Kong and eluded authorities by hiding among Sri Lankan refugees living in cramped tenements.

    • NSA whistleblower’s life turned into film

      The story of NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden reads like the plot of a Hollywood thriller.

      Not surprisingly, a film directed by Oliver Stone, has been made about Snowdon’s decision in 2013 to leak top secret information about the NSA surveillance activities.

    • ‘Snowden’ portrays the infamous NSA leaker as a hero, but leaves many big questions unanswered

      The new film “Snowden” is a wildly entertaining thriller centered around the most-wanted man in the world, though I was left with many more questions than when I started.

      The Oliver Stone-directed film starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Edward Snowden takes viewers through most of Snowden’s adult life in a series of flashbacks amid interactions with journalists in a Hong Kong hotel.

    • Joseph Gordon-Levitt Says Edward Snowden Is ‘The Most Extreme Of Patriots’

      When asked about what Gordon-Levitt wanted to come across while portraying a controversial figure such as Snowden, the actor revealed that the primary thing for him was how much the ex-NSA contractor cared for the U.S.

      Snowden is largely perceived as damaging to the U.S., someone who betrayed his own country, but the former NSA contractor does not see it in the same light. Gordon-Levitt also does not see him as a rogue. The actor went on to elaborate that Snowden is “the most extreme of patriots” in his opinion.

      “I think there’s two different kinds of patriotism and, you know, we were talking a second ago about how a drama shows an evolution of somebody. One kind of patriot just believes that everything their country does is right, no matter what, without asking any questions. But there is another kind of patriot which can only exist in a free country like the United States of America who holds the government accountable and who will ask questions. And this is what Edward Snowden has done in the most extreme of ways,” notes the actor in an interview with Hollywood Reporter.

    • House Intelligence Committee to Discuss Classified Report on Snowden Ahead of Movie Launch

      The House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence will meet this Thursday to discuss former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden, who in 2013 gave journalists a massive cache of classified documents detailing the U.S. global surveillance regime.

      The intelligence oversight panel will be discussing a report prepared by members and staff concerning Snowden’s unauthorized disclosures, according to Jack Langer, director of communications for Committee Chair Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif.,

      The report is the product of “around two years” of work, he told The Intercept. While Langer noted that the report is classified, he said the committee might publish an unclassified executive summary — though there aren’t any specific plans yet for its release, or to hold public hearings about its contents.

      When asked whether the timing of report had anything to do with talk of Snowden’s return to the United States — to be pardoned or to face trial — Langer said the two events were unrelated.

      The American Civil Liberties Union, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and prominent activists are launching a campaign Wednesday to urge President Barack Obama to pardon Snowden. The announcement is expected to take place at an event in New York, where Snowden will speak via live stream from Moscow.

    • Edward Snowden’s 40 days in a Russian airport – by the woman who helped him escape

      Sarah Harrison, the British WikiLeaks journalist who successfully spirited Edward Snowden from Hong Kong to safe(ish) asylum in Russia, has told The Register how she did it – and what’s next for the NSA whistleblower, and for Julian Assange. She spoke to us a week before the Oliver Stone film Snowden is released*, although she hasn’t actually seen the movie herself.

      Back in May 2013, Snowden was based in Hawaii, working as a sysadmin on contract to the US National Security Agency. He had already contacted journalists with information he felt needed to be made public, among it classified documents pertaining to the US’s PRISM surveillance programme. Shortly after stories from the archive he had taken from the firm were starting to surface, he told his employer that he was heading to the US mainland for medical treatment, but instead he flew to Hong Kong.

    • Facebook isn’t just fighting ad blockers, it’s fighting the underlying causes of blocking

      Independent publishers are terrified of platform dependency these days, and for good reason: According to Parse.ly, Facebook is the No. 1 source of traffic to their sites.

      Facebook and Google together account for 65 percent of digital ad revenue, according to Pew’s State of the News Media 2016 report. To put that in perspective, that’s up from around 0 percent just 10 years ago. Facebook is absolutely crushing them in mobile, too, where the real user growth is — and there, it’s not even close.

      That’s the reality, and it’s led a lot of publishers to conclude they’d be better off not competing with Facebook for eyeballs, choosing instead to forsake the exclusivity of their own properties and publish directly to the social network. Many side observers now believe we will soon witness the end of the dot-com — i.e. the wholesale migration of content away from independent publisher properties and onto Facebook.

      The thing is, Facebook has demonstrated recently that it’s willing to change its algorithm whenever it wants, and that publishers can’t rely on it as a stable channel. A savior for publishers Facebook is not. Indeed, publishers’ anxiety is both very real and very justified.

    • Federal Judge: Hacking Someone’s Computer Is Definitely a ‘Search’

      Courts across the country can’t seem to agree on whether the FBI’s recent hacking activities ran afoul of the law—and the confusion has led to some fairly alarming theories about law enforcement’s ability to remotely compromise computers.

      In numerous cases spawned from the FBI takeover of a darkweb site that hosted child abuse images, courts have been split on the legality of an FBI campaign that used a single warrant to hack thousands of computers accessing the site from unknown locations, using malware called a Network Investigative Technique, or NIT. Some have gone even further, arguing that hacking a computer doesn’t constitute a “search,” and therefore doesn’t require a warrant at all.

      But a federal judge in Texas ruled this week that actually, yes, sending malware to someone’s computer to secretly retrieve information from it—as the FBI did with the NIT—is a “search” under the Fourth Amendment.

      “[T]he NIT placed code on Mr. Torres’ computer without his permission, causing it to transmit his IP address and other identifying data to the government,” Judge David Alan Ezra of wrote Friday, in a ruling for one of the NIT cases, in San Antonio, Texas. “That Mr. Torres did not have a reasonable expectation of privacy in his IP address is of no import. This was unquestionably a “search” for Fourth Amendment purposes.”

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • BSO Deputies Fatally Shoot Pompano Beach Man Who Was Eating Chicken Wings

      Deputies were responding to a call about a domestic disturbance. When they arrived, they were directed to the back yard, where the man (whose name has not yet been released) was holding a knife. Both deputies opened fire. Pompano Beach Fire Rescue later confirmed the man was dead on the scene.

      Neighbors who were present at the time of the shooting say the man was shot in the back six times. BSO has not yet confirmed that.

    • Cast-Out Police Officers Are Often Hired in Other Cities

      As a police officer in a small Oregon town in 2004, Sean Sullivan was caught kissing a 10-year-old girl on the mouth.

      Mr. Sullivan’s sentence barred him from taking another job as a police officer.

      But three months later, in August 2005, Mr. Sullivan was hired, after a cursory check, not just as a police officer on another force but as the police chief. As the head of the department in Cedar Vale, Kan., according to court records and law enforcement officials, he was again investigated for a suspected sexual relationship with a girl and eventually convicted on charges that included burglary and criminal conspiracy.

      “It was very irritating because he should never have been a police officer,” said Larry Markle, the prosecutor for Montgomery and Chautauqua counties in Kansas.

      Mr. Sullivan, 44, is now in prison in Washington State on other charges, including identity theft and possession of methamphetamine. It is unclear how far-reaching such problems may be, but some experts say thousands of law enforcement officers may have drifted from police department to police department even after having been fired, forced to resign or convicted of a crime.

    • ‘Met ignored extremism among my fellow Muslim officers’

      A former counterterrorism sergeant has attacked the Metropolitan police for failing to tackle extremist views among some of its Muslim officers for fear of being labelled “Islamophobic”.

      Javaria Saeed, a practising Muslim who worked in Scotland Yard’s counterterrorism division, complained to her bosses after she witnessed a fellow Muslim officer saying female genital mutilation (FGM) — illegal in the UK since 1985 — was a “clean and honourable practice ” and “shouldn’t be criminalised”.

    • If You’ve Smoked Weed In The Past, You May Be Banned From Entering The US

      Matthew Harvey was banned from the United States for one reason – he smoked weed and was honest about it. He was planning to cross the border to take his 3-year-old Lika to California’s Disneyland.

    • In France, another item of clothing has become a symbol of an ongoing culture war

      The subject of women’s clothing in France became a worldwide topic of discussion last month after images of a Muslim woman being forced to remove her burkini at a beach by armed police officers spread online.

      The images focused attention not only on the recent bans on the full-body burkinis in some French cities, but also the nationwide ban on full-face Islamic veils in public spaces, implemented in 2011.

      This week, a dispute about how women should dress has again erupted in France — but this time, the circumstances were notably different.

    • Sounding the Alarm on Predictive Policing

      “Predictive policing” sounds good on paper. After all, what could go wrong with a data-based approach to law enforcement?

      It turns out: plenty. That’s why Free Press joined a broad coalition of civil rights, privacy and technology groups in sounding the alarm about how predictive policing reinforces racial bias.

      The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights mobilized the coalition, which counts the ACLU, the Brennan Center for Justice, Color Of Change and the NAACP among the 17 signers. The statement released last Wednesday notes that “the data driving predictive enforcement activities — such as the location and timing of previously reported crimes, or patterns of community- and officer-initiated 911 calls — is profoundly limited and biased.”

      Indeed, a damning report from the tech consulting group Upturn, which surveyed the nation’s 50 largest police forces, confirms this view. Upturn found “little evidence” that predictive policing works — and “significant reason to fear that [it] may reinforce disproportionate and discriminatory policing practices.”

      Nearly all of the predictive-policing systems in use in the United States come from private vendors. The systems draw on existing crime data to forecast where future crimes might occur. The idea is that this knowledge will help police departments determine where to focus their law-enforcement activities.

    • An Unprecedented Faculty Lockout

      Long Island University told 400 professors and union members not to come back to work when the school year started.

    • Support Students and Professors in the LIU Lockout

      Thousands of students at Long Island University-Brooklyn walked out of classes at noon today in solidarity with their professors who have been locked out of teaching.

      Students are not getting the education they deserve and professors are not being fully compensated. Meanwhile, students are paying for classes that are being taught by substitutes, including unqualified administrators. If LIU’s administration is successful, this will set a dangerous precedent for higher education institutions in America. That’s wrong.

    • DNA Dragnet: In Some Cities, Police Go From Stop-and-Frisk to Stop-and-Spit [Ed: doesn’t typically end well]

      The five teenage boys were sitting in a parked car in a gated community in Melbourne, Florida, when a police officer pulled up behind them.

      Officer Justin Valutsky closed one of the rear doors, which had been ajar, and told them to stay in the car. He peered into the drivers’ side window of the white Hyundai SUV and asked what the teens were doing there. It was a Saturday night in March 2015 and they told Valutsky they were visiting a friend for a sleepover.

      Valutsky told them there had been a string of car break-ins recently in the area. Then, after questioning them some more, he made an unexpected demand: He asked which one of them wanted to give him a DNA sample.

      After a long pause, Adam, a slight 15-year-old with curly hair and braces, said, “Okay, I guess I’ll do it.” Valutsky showed Adam how to rub a long cotton swab around the inside of his cheek, then gave him a consent form to sign and took his thumbprint. He sealed Adam’s swab in an envelope. Then he let the boys go.

      Telling the story later, Adam would say of the officer’s request, “I thought it meant we had to.”

    • DOJ To Researchers: First Amendment Does Not Protect Violating Websites’ Terms Of Services

      The woefully out-of-date CFAA — the product of panicked early-80s legislating in response to underdeveloped hacker fears — continues to hold back research (both of the security and non-security kind) when not being wielded like the prehistoric weapon it is by the DOJ and multiple entities who prefer bludgeoning the messenger to fixing their broken systems.

      Because of the ongoing misuse and abuse of a badly-written law (aided and abetted by some terrible court decisions), a group of academic researchers has decided to proactively sue the government over its terrible legislation, rather than wait around to get sued/indicted for attempting to determine if individual websites exhibit bias against certain users.

      They’ve enlisted the help of the ACLU, which filed its suit against Attorney General Loretta Lynch back in June. The DOJ has responded with a motion to dismiss [PDF] that claims everything is wrong with the lawsuit, from the issue of standing to multiple failures to state a claim under the First and Fifth Amendments.

    • Conviction Overturned In Case Of Rutgers Student Whose Roommate Committed Suicide After Being Secretly Filmed

      Four and a half years ago, we wrote about our serious concerns about the conviction of Dharun Ravi, a Rutgers student who surreptitiously filmed his roommate engaged in a sexual encounter. The roommate, Tyler Clementi, later killed himself, after finding out that he had been filmed. That part was a big story, and kicked off a variety of discussions, some of which were more reasonable than others. But as we noted back then, what was most troubling about the legal case and conviction of Ravi was that he was really being prosecuted for what Clementi did, rather than what Ravi did.

      As we noted, Ravi filming Clementi was definitely creepy, immature and dumb. But criminal? If Ravi had just filmed Clementi and nothing happened, there never would have been a prosecution. Ravi was really being prosecuted because Clementi killed himself — and that’s problematic. As we’ve explained a few times, while there’s an obvious emotional reaction to someone killing themselves, no one fully knows why they did it other than the individuals themselves. And, blaming others for mean things they may have done after someone commits suicide is a really dangerous place to go. It actually encourages suicide by letting people think that killing themselves will “punish” those who are tormenting them. But the biggest thing is that we shouldn’t blame one person based on the actions of another.

    • Muslims urged not to SLAUGHTER ANIMALS in the streets of France at Eid

      The animal rights activist has urged the French government to intervene to prevent “barbarism” and work towards “appeasement” asking instead that followers of Islam make sacrifices by giving to the poor.

      In France the government has been providing skips because many followers discard their carcasses to rot in the streets after they have killed them.

      While it is illegal to slaughter an animal publicly it is allowed for Muslims to go to a slaughterhouse and carry out the act for religious reasons.

      However, those breaking the law and killing animals outside of mandated areas became such a problem environmental health departments had to step in to provide bins because sheep carcasses were causing a public health problem.

    • Shot girl Mary Shipstone’s safe house revealed by solicitor error

      The address of a girl fatally shot on her doorstep by her estranged father was accidentally sent to him by her mother’s solicitor, it has emerged.

      Mary Shipstone, aged seven, was shot twice as she returned to the safe house in East Sussex in 2014 with her mother.

      Yasser Alromisse shot her in the head and then turned the gun on himself.

      Mary’s mother told police her solicitor had inadvertently sent her address to him in legal papers, a serious case review said.

      Lyndsey Shipstone told BBC South East: “He shot her the second time so I would see him do it.

      “And through not murdering me, because he had the opportunity… I was going to be the one who was going to have to live with what he did.”

      Mary died later in hospital.

    • Weirton terminates officer who did not fire at man with gun

      After responding to a report of a domestic incident on May 6 in Weirton, W.Va., then-Weirton police officer Stephen Mader found himself confronting an armed man.

      Immediately, the training he had undergone as a Marine to look at “the whole person” in deciding if someone was a terrorist, as well as his situational police academy training, kicked in and he did not shoot.

      “I saw then he had a gun, but it was not pointed at me,” Mr. Mader recalled, noting the silver handgun was in the man’s right hand, hanging at his side and pointed at the ground.

      The man was Ronald D. “R.J.” Williams Jr., 23, of Pittsburgh, and what happened in the seconds after Mr. Mader’s initial decision is still being investigated by Mr. Williams’ family as well as the West Virginia Civil Liberties Union.

    • Florida police kill black man while he eats dinner in his backyard

      Broward Sheriff’s deputies responded to a domestic violence call Friday evening at the home of Gregory Frazier in Pompano Beach. His sister, Deborah, had called authorities after she claimed Frazier, 56, and his daughter were involved in a fight.

      However, the fight had reportedly ended by the time the officers arrived at the home. The two white deputies were directed to the backyard, where they found Frazier eating.

      [...]

      Officers ordered Frazier to get on the ground, to which he responded, “Leave me alone,” according to his nephew Quartaze Woodard. When order to the ground once more, Frazier gave them the same response. Police then opened fire, according to Mr Woodard.

      Police handcuffed the wounded Frazier, before attempting to perform CPR. Officers reported that Frazier was dead at the scene.

    • Luxembourg foreign minister wants Hungary out of EU

      Luxembourg’s foreign minister, Jean Asselborn, has called for Hungary to be thrown out of the European Union. EurActiv Germany reports.

      “We cannot accept that the EU’s fundamental values are being massively violated,” Asselborn told German newspaper Die Welt. Anyone who builds fences to stem the flow of refugees or limits press freedoms and the independence of the judiciary, as Hungary has been accused of doing, should be temporarily or permanently “excluded from the EU”, warned the foreign minister.

      He added that “Hungary would have no chance at becoming an EU member today.”

      Asselborn said that the EU cannot tolerate “such misconduct” on the part of Hungary and the exclusion would be “the only way of preserving the cohesion and values of the European Union”.

    • EU should kick out Hungary, says Luxembourg minister

      Hungary should be excluded from the EU, Luxembourg’s foreign minister Jean Asselborn has said.

      Ejecting Hungary is “the only possibility to preserve the cohesion and the values” of the EU, he said in an interview to German daily Die Welt, published on Tuesday (13 September), three days before a EU leaders summit about the bloc’s future without the UK.

      “We cannot accept that the basic values of the European Union are massively violated,” he said.

      He said any state that “builds fences against war refugees, or who hurts press freedom and independence of judiciary, must be excluded for the EU temporarily or for ever if needed”.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • Netflix Pushes FCC to Crack Down on Usage Caps

      Netflix is urging the FCC to crack down on broadband usage caps, stating that they unfairly limit consumers’ ability to consume streaming video services. Netflix has long has an adversarial relationship with ISPs, and often for good reason. Usage caps on fixed-line networks are specifically designed to protect ISP TV revenues from Netflix competition, allowing an ISP to both complicate and generate additional profit off of the shift away from legacy TV.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Canada’s Anti-Counterfeiting Chargeback Project: Paying Back Deceived Consumers

      A Canadian initiative to fight online counterfeiting and piracy that enables deceived consumers to get their money back is yielding results, a Canadian official said last week. Project Chargeback means to cut the profit margin of counterfeiters on the internet, and supplement legal recourse for right holders.

    • Important Agenda For WIPO Coordination Committee Tomorrow [Ed: WIPO is a mess internally]

      On 12 September, a powerful member-state committee at the World Intellectual Property Organization will consider the nomination of a new head of copyright, and a sensitive agenda item on a highly secret UN report on whether the WIPO director general engaged in wrongdoing.

    • Copyrights

      • Google Highlights DMCA Abuse in New Copyright Transparency Report

        Google has released a new and improved version of its Copyright Transparency Report. The revamped report makes it easier to get insights into over a billion reported URLs. Among other things, Google now specifies how many URLs it does not remove and why, highlighting various cases of DMCA abuse.

      • Hyperlinks Under Attack in Europe (or “When You Thought It Could Not Get Worse”…)

        DisCo readers may remember that, last February, my colleagues Matt Schruers and Jakob Kucharczyk explained that Europe’s highest court, the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU), would have to rule on a case about hyperlinks that could decide the fate of the World Wide Web in Europe. They were not joking around.

        Well, yesterday the CJEU published its ruling on GS Media (C-160/15) – and it’s as bad as we feared it could be. But let’s take a step back first.

      • ‘Will Trump Shut Down The Pirate Bay?’

        Apparently, there’s a rumor circulating that The Pirate Bay might shut down soon. Various news sites have been speculating about the demise of the popular torrent site and what may happen next… Could Donald Trump be the one to pull the trigger?

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