Links 24/7/2017: Linux 4.13 RC2, Mesa 17.2 RC1, Akademy Coverage

Posted in News Roundup at 8:01 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish



  • Desktop

    • Linux Laptop: Buying New vs. Used Laptop

      There are few things in a Linux enthusiast’s life more fun than buying a new Linux laptop. One could even argue that the mere act of “spec’ing out” a new unit is more exciting than the actual use of the laptop itself.

      In this article, I’m going to walk you through the decision making progress of buying a new Linux laptop vs. procuring a good second hand one instead. I’ll share the advantages and disadvantages to each option.

    • The PC business: Decline continues in Q2
  • Server

    • Learning to love Ansible

      I’ve been convinced about the merits of configuration management for machines for a while now; I remember conversations about producing an appropriate set of recipes to reproduce our haphazard development environment reliably over 4 years ago. That never really got dealt with before I left, and as managing systems hasn’t been part of my day job since then I never got around to doing more than working my way through the Puppet Learning VM. I do, however, continue to run a number of different Linux machines – a few VMs, a hosted dedicated server and a few physical machines at home and my parents’. In particular I have a VM which handles my parents’ email, and I thought that was a good candidate for trying to properly manage. It’s backed up, but it would be nice to be able to redeploy that setup easily if I wanted to move provider, or do hosting for other domains in their own VMs.

  • Audiocasts/Shows

    • Icculus (Ryan Gordon) Tells Us Everything – Part 1

      A few weeks ago we had the opportunity to chat with Ryan Gordon, a.k.a. Icculus, about his experience and as a games porter and a wider range of subjects related to Linux. This was supposed to be a one hour podcast, but we ended up talking for more than 2. Why is that? Well, Ryan had so many interesting things to say that we just could not let him leave so fast. So for once we have decided to do a two-parts podcasts. We hope you enjoy this as much as we did. Just a reminder: doing this kind of podcasts is a LOT of work (more than a dozen of hours) so please consider supporting us via Patreon if you like what we do, and want us to continue doing this.

  • Kernel Space

    • The Kernel Put On Some Weight With Linux 4.13

      Here are some numbers about how much weight the kernel gained during the Linux 4.13 merge window that closed last week.

    • Linux 4.13-rc2

      Things are chugging along, and we actually had a reasonably active rc2.

      Normally rc2 is really small because people are taking a breaher and
      haven’t started finding bugs yet, but this time around we have a
      bigger-than-average rc2. We’ll just have to see how that translates to
      the rest of the release cycle, but I suspect it’s just the normal
      variability in this thing (and because I released -rc1 one day early,
      I guess rc2 was one day longer than usual despite the normal Sunday

      Changes all over, although the diffstat is dominated by the new
      vboxvideo staging driver. I shouldn’t have let it through, but Greg,
      as we all know, is “special”. Also, Quod licet Iovi, and all that jazz
      - Greg gets to occasionally break some rules.

      If you just ignore that new staging driver, the remainder is still
      about half driver patches (networking, rdma, scsi, usb). The rest
      looks normal too: architecture updates (x86, sparc, powerpc),
      filesystem (nfs, overlayfs, misc), networking and core kernel. And
      some new bpf testcode.

      Time for some more testing, people. You know the drill.


    • Linux 4.13-rc2 Released, A “Reasonably Active” Update

      The second release candidate of the Linux 4.13 kernel is now available for testing.

    • Kernel prepatch 4.13-rc2
    • Linus Torvalds Announces a “Bigger Than Average” Second RC of Linux Kernel 4.13

      The development cycle of the upcoming Linux 4.13 kernel series, whose release cycle was kicked off last week by none other than Linus Torvalds, continues today with the second Release Candidate (RC) milestone.

      According to Linus Torvalds, this second Release Candidate of Linux kernel 4.13 is bigger than average, as the Linux creator would have expected to see things starting off a little slow at this stage of development, which could suggest the Linux 4.13 kernel cycle getting eight RCs instead of the usual seven that a normal release gets. But, after all, it’s too early to make any predictions.

    • Linux Weather Forecast

      This page is an attempt to track ongoing developments in the Linux development community that have a good chance of appearing in a mainline kernel and/or major distributions sometime in the near future. Your “chief meteorologist” is Jonathan Corbet, Executive Editor at LWN.net. If you have suggestions on improving the forecast (and particularly if you have a project or patchset that you think should be tracked), please add your comments below.

    • Linux guru Linus Torvalds is reviewing gadgets on Google+

      Now it appears the godfather of Linux has started to put all that bile to good use by reviewing products on Google+.

    • Graphics Stack

      • NVIDIA+CMU Develop New Shading Language & Compiler Framework

        NVIDIA and Carnegie Mellon University have developed a new open-source shading language in step with a new compiler framework.

      • RADV Gets More Last Minute Fixes For Mesa 17.2

        David Airlie and Bas Nieuwenhuizen have been landing some more last minute RADV Vulkan driver fixes ahead of the Mesa 17.2 branching.

        As reported this weekend, RADV Is Almost Ready For SteamVR With Mainline Mesa. Besides that, it’s been getting some corrections with Mesa 17.2 in addition to performance improvements since 17.1.

      • Mesa 17.2 Has Been Branched

        Mesa release manager Emil Velikov went ahead and branched Mesa 17.2 from Git master with new developments now being for Mesa 17.3.

        Mesa 17.2 is another huge quarterly update for this 3D user-space driver stack and will be released as stable in August. This is a huge update for nearly all of the drivers involved; I’ll be around with my usual feature overview/recap shortly. It’s been a big stride for both the OpenGL and Vulkan drivers.

      • RADV Is Almost Ready For SteamVR With Mainline Mesa

        Those using Radeon graphics for your Steam VR Linux gaming experience will soon be able to use the mainline Mesa stack with the necessary RADV changes almost all being in place.

        RADV has worked with SteamVR on Linux for some months, but you’ve had to rely upon a branched version of Mesa that offers all the necessary Vulkan extensions required by SteamVR. The day is finally coming where the mainline open-source Radeon Vulkan driver stack has all those extensions in place, as discussed here.

      • NVIDIA JetPack 3.1 Boosts Deep Learning Performance For Jetson Boards
      • NVIDIA 384.59 Linux Driver Released Along With 375.82
      • [Mesa-dev] [ANNOUNCE] mesa 17.2.0-rc1
      • Mesa 17.2 RC1 Now Available For Testing

        Following this morning’s Mesa 17.2 branching, the first release candidate of this quarterly update to Mesa 3D is now available.

    • Benchmarks

      • Ryzen Compiler Performance: Clang 4/5 vs. GCC 6/7/8 Benchmarks

        A few days back I posted some fresh AMD Ryzen compiler benchmarks of LLVM Clang now that it has its new Znver1 scheduler model, which helps out the performance of Ryzen on Linux with some of the generated binaries tested. But it was found still that Haswell-tuned binaries are sometimes still faster on Ryzen than the Zen “znver1″ tuning itself. For continuing our fresh compiler benchmarks from AMD’s new Ryzen platform, here are the latest GCC numbers.

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

      • Yesterday I picked up my new KDE Slimbook from the Slimbook.es stand at Akademy.

        First thing I did, of course, was boot it with my FreeBSD 11.0 SD card, to see if it works with my favorite operating system (with Plasma 5 desktop, of course). Nope: 11.0 hangs after finding acpi_ec0, so I will write about that later this week.

        Second thing I did was boot KDE Neon (pre-installed) on it, to see how it works out-of-the-box. I collected a bunch of tiny-little-irritations, papercuts if you will, from the basic installation — which have disappeared after an update and reboot.

      • Akademy 2017 — Day 1

        During the first day at the Akademy, everything went according to plan and nearly everything was on time. Kudos to the organisers.

        The weather was balmy at the beginning of the day and, although Aleix Pol said it was not hotter than a hot day in Barcelona, many of the Scandinavian and Scottish attendees were visibly wilting under the sun. Fortunately for them, the venue is equipped with air-conditioning.

        Little known fact about Almería: it is situated in the biggest desert in Europe, the Desert of Tabernas. A better known fact is that that same desert has been used as a location for many spaghetti westerns, including the seminal Sergio Leone movies “For A Fistful of Dollars” and “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly”. What is more interesting for some KDE members is that Tabernas has also been used in the filming of at least one Doctor Who episode (“A Town Called Mercy”). Unsurprisingly, the whovians amongst us quickly got busy and organised a trip to the place of the shoot for later in the week.

      • Akademy-es 2017 Fue Muy Bien

        On the 20th and 21st of July, KDE España held, with the invaluable help of UNIA, HackLab Almería and the University of Almería, and with the sponsorship of Opentia, its 12th annual gathering: Akademy-es 2017.

        As it always happens when Akademy takes place in Spain, Akademy-es 2017 became a prelude of the international event and many well-known KDE developers attended.

        Throughout two days, talks were offered covering many different topics, including Plasma, programming (C++, Qt, mobile), exciting projects like Kirigami, proposals for the future such as KDE on automobile, encouragement to use KDE software and contribute to KDE, and information about KDE España.

      • Akademy Awards 2017

        Every year at Akademy we celebrate some of our hardest working achievers in the community. The prizes are selected and awarded by the previous year’s winners.

      • Plasma Mobile on Show at Akademy 2017

        Plasma Mobile, the convergent KDE smartphone OS, is on show at the annual Akademy summit for KDE developers and enthusiasts.

      • KDE Slimbook and FreeBSD

        Yesterday I picked up my new KDE Slimbook. It comes with KDE Neon pre-installed. Of course it also works well with openSUSE, and Manjaro, and Netrunner Linux (some things I’ve at least booted the Live CD for). But for me, “will it run FreeBSD” is actually the most important bit.

        Yes. Yes it does, and it does so beautifully.

      • clazy 1.2 released

        In the previous episode we presented how to uncover 32 Qt best practices at compile time with clazy. Today it’s time to show 5 more and other new goodies present in the freshly released clazy v1.2.

      • KDAB Releases Clazy 1.2 With Improvements For Qt Static Analysis

        With Akademy 2017 happening this week, Qt consulting firm KDAB has released version 1.2 of Clazy, its Clang-based static analyzer geared for showing Qt coding mistakes and inefficiencies.

        Clazy 1.2 picks up support for a number of new checks, clazy-standalone that works similarly to clang-tidy, support for the AST Matchers API, pre-built Windows binaries, and other improvements.

      • Wiki, what’s going on? (Part 24-Badges and books)

        We never forget where we belong: that’s why we remind you that during this week Akademy2017 is taking place in Almeria! Akademy is the annual conference of the KDE community. WikiToLearn was born under the KDE umbrella and still today we fell part of the KDE family. This year WikiToLearn is represented at Akademy by Vasudha, a GSoC student of ours working on Ruqola. Today we remember Akademy with extreme pleasure: two years ago, during Akademy2015 our project was officially born!

      • GSoC’17-Week #5

        In Krita, we cannot delete the bundle created just like that. The Bundles created are saved as the KisResource in a QList. We have to remove it from that list, then obviously, we have to remove it from the list widget where this bundle is shown. Then we have to BlackList the file. Then from there, we can remove the blacklisted bundles as we empty a recycle bin ;).

      • KDE Plasma 5.10.4 Desktop Environment Now Available to Chakra GNU/Linux Users

        Chakra GNU/Linux contributor Neofytos Kolokotronis announced the immediate availability of the latest KDE technologies in the stable software repositories of the independently-developed Chakra GNU/Linux operating system.

      • KDE’s Plasma 5.10.4, Applications 17.04.3 and Frameworks 5.36 now available to all Chakra users

        With your next system upgrade, you will receive all the latest versions of KDE’s Plasma, Applications and Frameworks series, as nearly 700 packages have been updated and are now available to you (that’s 17% of the packages in our repositories!). These are all stability updates and as usual include mostly bug fixes, translation updates and other minor improvements.

      • Fifth Blog Gsoc 2017

        The last month was not easy. Some things had to be re-written because they were not very well written. For example, I wrote a system of “sensors”, the logic of which was laid in the destructors of objects. This is a non-obvious logic of work, it had to be rewritten.

      • Polkit Support in KIO – Progess so far

        In this post I intend to report the whereabouts of my project. First of all me not posting any updates about my project was due to two problems that showed up when I was two weeks into the coding period. One, which I had anticipated, was to decide from where to show a warning dialog during the brief period of time when privileges are elevated. The problem was that showing the prompt from KIO::Slave resulted in repetition and to show it from KIO::JobUiDelegate permissions of destination folder was needed beforehand which required additional computation. So for this I decided to add a signal in KIO::Slave and all the necessary code for additional prompts in KIO::Job. This way the KIO slave emits the signal whenever it encounters ACCESS DENIED error and then job decides whether or not to show the prompt. The other problem was to figure out how to modify files created by a privileged process by an underprivileged one. By the way the latter was completely uncalled-for and it took me around two weeks to decide on a solution. To send data between processes I tried every possible IPC mechanism involving shared memory, pipes and sockets. At last I decided on sharing file descriptor between the privileged and under-privileged process and to accomplish that I used Unix local domain sockets.

      • Preview: Multi-Cursor support in the Kate Text Editor

        It allows you to have an arbitrary amount of cursors and selections in KTextEditor. They all mirror what you do with the primary one — text input, text removal, navigation, text selection, …

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK

      • GNOME’s Mutter Window Manager Now Supports Tablet Wheel Events on Wayland

        The Mutter composite and window manager of the widely-used GNOME desktop environment was updated recently both on the stable and devel channels with a bunch of new features and improvements.

        Mutter 3.24.4 is now the latest stable build of the application, and it’s here to add a few important changes for tablets, including improved stability of tablet plugs and unplugs, working window moving and resizing via tablet tools, as well as the implementation of tablet rings/strips configuration.

        In addition, Mutter now no longer throttles motion events on tablet tools, it’s capable of handling the left-handed mode on pen/eraser devices, and adds support for tablet wheel events when running under the Wayland display server. Talking about Wayland, the Wacom cursor offset should now work as expected in Mutter 3.24.4.

      • GNOME Builder IDE to Receive Largest UI Change Since Its Creation, on GNOME 3.26

        The GNOME Builder IDE (Integrated Development Environment) open-source tool designed to help aspiring application developers create modern apps for the GNOME/GTK+ ecosystem will get a major revamp for the GNOME 3.26 desktop release.

        Development of GNOME Builder 3.26 kicked off back in April with the first snapshot, and, since then, the software application received no less than five snapshots in total, which switch the tool to the Meson build system, a major change that will be implemented in all the apps from the GNOME Stack will do as part of the upcoming GNOME 3.26 desktop environment.

      • Oomox – Generate Color Variants of Numix GTK2/GTK3 Themes

        Oomox is a GUI tool with which you can generate several color variations of Numix (GTK2 / GTK3) themes, as well as Gnome-Colors and Archdroid icon themes. It ships with support for GNOME, Unity, Xfce4 and Openbox desktop environments, and a plethora of built-in presets which can be customized further.

        It is virtually the easiest way to create your own GTK 3.20 theme and thanks to one of the app’s users, Spatry, you can check out Oomox in action in the video below:

      • Get a New Desktop Wallpaper Each Day with this Extension for GNOME

        While Ubuntu’s switch to GNOME doesn’t render all of those methods redundant it does unlock some additional opportunities (like unified lock screen and desktop background) — something that the GNOME extensions framework dramatically simplifies.

  • Distributions

    • [Video] 3 BILLION LINUX USERS!!! (Intro to Endless OS)

      There are billions of users out there who don’t have high-speed or even decent speed internet. Linux can serve those user. And do you know how BIG is that market? 3 BILLION USERS! You heard it right! Now can we stop chasing ‘Windows market’ and start catering to those users who really need Linux.

    • Reviews

      • Qubes OS 3.2

        All in all, the Qubes OS team did an awesome job on integrating all this things so far. The security of the App VMs is not better than the security of the corresponding Template operating systems. However, if a App VM gets an issue, it does not affect the others. If you plan to do weird things, you can use a disposable VM where all changes gets discarded afterwards. It is very easy for anybody to create App VMs without network for example. And this is something I would like to use ever since I stumbled over Firejail which provides app-specific sandboxing.

        In general, the documentation of Cubes OS is awesome. I learned a lot and I had to. Cubes OS is nothing to set-up by aunt Martha. You have to have deeper technical understanding to set-up the system. Afterwards, anyone is able to use it with a short introduction to the basic guidelines.

        Of course, I found some usability issues and some bugs here or there. But overall, Cubes OS is a valid option for a security purist or a privacy-aware person.

        When Qubes OS meets my personal requirements, it complicates things though. For example the file server/client architecture adds complexity you don’t have to maintain within a personal computer.

        Accessing USB devices, network printers and so forth is cumbersome as well.

        You have to set your priorities. ;-)

        Will I install it on my notebook or desktop and use it on a daily basis? My notebook would be cool since it is in potential harmful environments such as WiFi networks I don’t control. On the other side, I do need USB flash drive access with good usability and need to connect to projectors.

        My home server/computer runs 24/7 and could profit from Cubes OS since I got many different things running on this machine. I could separate those domains. Working in offline VMs with applications that don’t need network is also a very nice thing to have. The USB flash drive thing is also a big thing here. Restricting to LAN access only would be fine. System crash resulting in an encrypted system that does not boot any more is a no go.

        Well, I am not convinced yet. Probably I stick to Debian 9 or I do find the urge to come around the issues and find a Qubes OS setup which serves me well.

    • New Releases

    • Gentoo Family

      • Review: Calculate Linux 17.6 KDE

        Calculate Linux is a Gentoo-based distribution. The project’s slogan is “Easy Linux from the source,” which refers to the fact that Calculate is relatively easy to use but still benefits from Gentoo’s powerful and flexible source-based Portage package manager.

        Calculate recently celebrated its tenth birthday and released Calculate Linux 17.6. The distro comes in four flavours; apart from a desktop and server edition there’s Calculate Scratch (“for those who want to build a customized system that works for them”) and Calculate Media Center (“for your home multimedia center”). Each version is available for the x86_64 and i686 architectures and uses SysV init rather than systemd. The desktop edition has ISOs for the KDE, Cinnamon, MATE and Xfce desktop environments – GNOME is presumably not available because of its dependency on systemd. I opted for the 64-bit KDE version, which is just over 2GB in size.

    • Red Hat Family

    • Debian Family

      • Debian GNU/Linux 9.1 “Stretch” Live & Installable ISOs Now Available to Download

        As we reported the other day, the Debian Project unveiled the first point release of the Debian GNU/Linux 9 “Stretch” operating system, but no installation or live ISOs were made available to download.

        That changes today, July 23, 2017, as the Debian CD team lead by Steve McIntyre has prepared the new installation images of Debian GNU/Linux 9.1 “Stretch” for 64-bit (amd64), 32-bit (i386), PowerPC 64-bit Little Endian (ppc64el), ARM64 (AArch64), ARMhf, Armel, MIPS, MIPS 64-bit Little Endian (mips64el), MIPSEL, and IBM System z (s390x) hardware architectures.

        Multi-arch images supporting both 32-bit and 64-bit (i386 and amd64) PCs are also available for download, along with a set of twelve source ISO images. On the other hand, the Debian GNU/Linux 9.1 “Stretch” Live ISOs come in the usual flavors with the GNOME, KDE, Xfce, LXDE, MATE, and Cinnamon desktop environments, supporting both 32-bit and 64-bit architectures.

      • Debian 9.1 GNU/Linux Released With 26 Security Fixes

        Debian 9.1 GNU/Linux has been released as the first point release of Debian 9 Stretch stable. This version brings numerous updates and security fixes. If you’re already running a continuously updated Debian machine, you don’t need to perform the upgrade or reinstall.

      • RC bugs 2017/08-29
      • Stable Debian releases
      • Debian 9.1 (Stretch) Brings Security Fixes For Anonymous Connections Over Tor and Drupal 7 CMS & Apache 2 Fixes
      • Plans for DebCamp17

        In a few days, I’ll be attending DebCamp17 in Montréal, Canada.

      • Derivatives

        • Canonical/Ubuntu

          • Yakkety Yak won’t come back: Linux users, it’s time to upgrade Ubuntu

            If you’re running Ubuntu 16.10 Yakkety Yak, released on October 13 2016, Ubuntu developer Canonical warns that now is the time to upgrade to Ubuntu 17.04, known as Zesty Zapus. If you’re running a Linux distribution which is a version of Ubuntu with a different desktop environment, such as Kubuntu or Xubuntu, the same applies to you.

            Support for Yakkety Yak ceased on July 20, which means that version of Ubuntu will no longer receive security patches. However, if you’re running Ubuntu 16.04 Xenial Xerus, you’ll still receive functionality and security patches until April 2021. That’s because it’s a long term support (LTS) release. Ubuntu 17.04 Zesty Zapus will be supported until January 2018.

          • Someone Finally Asks Why Ubuntu Has 3 Terminal Apps…

            I’ve often wondered why Ubuntu ships with several different terminal apps installed by default.

            It’s a minor little quirk, granted, and something few people will notice. But a query that has, from time to time, confused me.

            Naturally I presume there to be some differences between GNOME Terminal, Xterm and UXTerm. But those differences are, to my end-user eyes at least, not especially self-evident.

          • Developing Ubuntu using git

            Back in 2014, I published some information and tooling on using git for Ubuntu development, even though most Ubuntu development wasn’t done with git at the time.

            Three years on, this work has expanded significantly. Most of the server team is using git for daily work when touching Ubuntu packaging. We have expanded our tooling. With the significant interest we’ve received, we’re now interested in developing this work to make git become the way of working with Ubuntu’s source code. Our plan is to do this with no disruption to existing developer workflows.

          • Canonical Is Working on Adding Captive Portal Detection to Ubuntu 17.10

            Canonical’s Ubuntu Desktop Director Will Cooke reports today on the latest developments done by his team for the upcoming Ubuntu 17.10 (Artful Aardvark) operating system.

          • Canonical asks users’ help in deciding Ubuntu Linux desktop apps

            Canonical Ubuntu Linux has long been one of the most popular Linux desktop distributions. Now, its leadership is looking to its users for help to decide the default desktop applications in the next long-term support version of the operating system: Ubuntu 18.04.

            This release, scheduled for April 2018, follows October’s Ubuntu 17.10, Artful Aardvark. Ubuntu 18.04 will already include several major changes. The biggest of these is Ubuntu is abandoning its Unity 8 interface to go back to the GNOME 3.x desktop.

          • Flavours and Variants

            • Long-Term Review: Linux Mint 18.2 “Sonya” MATE

              A little over two weeks ago, I made the decision on what Linux distribution to install and use full-time on my personal laptop. I chose Linux Mint 18.2 “Sonya” MATE, because I felt that while it could do a bit better for total newbies in terms of usability (as some usability features have regressed since a couple of years ago), it has been a reliable and known quantity for me, and I figured that if I could generally use the live session without much hassle, it wouldn’t be too much of a stretch (no pun intended) to imagine that the installed session would likely be workable. As I’ve covered most of the experiences of installing and using programs and getting around the desktop in my review of the live session, this post will be relatively short, covering only the salient points of the installation and some of the changes I made after the installation. Follow the jump to see more.

            • BackBox Linux 5 Released For Ethical Hacking And Pentesting Purposes

              If you’re looking for an Ubuntu-based ethical hacking and penetration testing operating system, BackBox Linux can fulfill your needs. BackBox Linux 5 has been just released after 7 months of development. It comes with Linux kernel 4.8, updated hacking tools, and a new logo.

  • Devices/Embedded

Free Software/Open Source

  • In Other API Economy News: Yandex Open Source Machine Learning Library and More

    We start your weekend off with a review of the stories we couldn’t cover with a look at what what going on in the world of APIs. We start off with news that Yandex, the Russian search engine company, has announced that they are open-sourcing CatBoost, a machine learning library. The library is based on gradient boosting, a machine learning technique described by TechCrunch as being “designed to help “teach” systems when you have a very sparse amount of data, and especially when the data may not all be sensorial (such as audio, text or imagery), but includes transactional or historical data, too.” Yandex is freely releasing CatBoost for anyone to use under an Apache License. This move is similar to what we saw from Google when they open sourced TensorFlow in late 2015. As the demand for artificial intelligence solutions backed by machine learning platforms continues to grow, moves like this serve to help a wide range of developers take advantage of the technology.

  • CatBoost: Yandex’s machine learning algorithm is available free of charge
  • The Open Source Way

    “Open source”, in the world of IT, is program code that is meant for collaboration and open contribution. Intended to be modified and shared, because by design and spirit, it is meant for the public at large. It’s been said that “”open source” intimates a broader set of values—what we call “the open source way.” Open source projects, products, or initiatives embrace and celebrate principles of open exchange, collaborative participation, rapid prototyping, transparency, meritocracy, and community-oriented development.” So it is a natural conclusion that in this age of open and transparent government, that the government IT manager or technician would be one of the first to want to embrace this new role of collaborative team member within a larger community.

    Additionally, as organizations, especially government, continue to emerge from the technology funding embargo of the Great (2008) Recession – an economic force that froze IT purchases and programs and forced many into strict “keep the lights on” operational mode, IT managers and CIO’s are carefully expending their still relatively measly budgets.


    For IT organizations, especially government, with limited budgets and long procurement processes, time and increased experience with open source products will lead to a growing understanding and acceptance. And as this understanding progresses and becomes more accepted, open source will become a “go to” option to keep up with the fast moving technical environment, and perhaps eventually, as a standard first option, realizing the broader set of open source values by relying on the collective work and minds of a virtual community of IT “hackers”, “geeks” and “nerds”, working globally, 24×7/365 to explore, develop and showcase whatever tech that sparks their individual interest.

  • Top 5 open-source tools for machine learning

    Given the paradigmatic shifts that a true revolution in machine learning could bring, it’s important to maintain tech’s devotion to open-source. These kinds of scientific advancement don’t belong to any one company or corporation, but to the whole world. Making ML open and evenly distributed means everyone can join in this revolution.

  • 15 ways to empower students with open source tools

    Recently I read the fascinating book Empower: What Happens When Students Own Their Own Learning, by John Spencer and A.J. Juliani. The book led me to think more deeply about my teaching methods and how I like to learn. I think learning should be exciting, and I’m happiest when I’m actively engaged in what I’m doing. Why wouldn’t students in our schools want anything different than that? And why aren’t we doing more to give that experience to them?

    While many schools today have a 1:1 ratio of computers/tablets to students, most of them use platforms and software that allow little (if any) modification. Students can’t tinker with the software or hardware. Yet tinkering and experimenting are at the heart of learning. The authors of Empower say that students in environments that foster “making” take ownership of their learning more readily and tend to be deeper thinkers who are more at home with frustration. Ultimately, they wrote, “makers are better equipped for life.”

  • How a VC-funded company is undermining the open-source community

    Is a $4 million venture capital-funded startup stealthily taking over popular coding tools and injecting ads and spyware into them?

    That’s what some programmers fear may be happening. It is one of the most troubling scandals to hit the open-source community — a robust network of programmers who work on shared tools for free — in recent memory.

    Open source works because everyone benefits: individuals and corporations, both for-profit and not. Countless dollars have been made off things built on top of open-source software, while the existence of free high-quality tools makes it possible to build a product that exists solely for the benefit of the commons. But that balance only works when people stick to the community’s basic decorum of transparency, and that’s where a young San Francisco company called Kite seems to have gone wrong.

  • Video: Measuring Community Health

    One of the most challenging components of building a community is how to (a) determine what to measure, (b) measure it effectively, and (c) interpret those measurements in a way that drives improvements.

  • Open Source Innovation Strengthens Cloudera’s Cybersecurity Solution and Accelerates Machine Learning at Scale
  • Monthly quiz: Test yourself on open source development tools trends

    The move to open source development tools — already unstoppable — continues to gain momentum. Years ago, open source was looked upon as a way to save money. Today, a key driver is the clear fact that, with tens of thousands of contributors sharing their expertise and the ever-widening availability of high-quality code, resistance is futile.

  • Events

    • Siggraph 2017: ILM to tout open source CG library

      Lucasfilm and Industrial Light & Magic (ILM) have announced the first release of an open source computer graphics exchange library and will discuss its potential this week during Siggraph.

    • Akademy Monday Wrapup Session Video

      Akademy has had its first full day of BoFs, group sessions discussing our plans for the next year. The wrapup session has just finished so watch the video to find out about what Plasma devs are working on, what tutorials happened and how we avoided a fist fight to the finish.

    • Share Your Mesos Expertise: Submit a Proposal for MesosCon Europe Today
    • CzP @ RMLL / Libre Software Meeting 2017

      This year I participated again in the security track of the largest French open source conference, Libre Software Meeting (RMLL). “Participated” as I did not only give a talk on syslog-ng there, but also sat in to most of the presentations and had very good discussions both with visitors and fellow speakers. The organizers brought together talks from diverse IT security related fields, a very good opportunity for cross-pollination of ideas.

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • Firefox Focus Passes One Million Downloads Mark on Android, Gets New Features

        Firefox Focus launched on Google’s Android mobile platform only a month ago, and it looks like it already passed the one million downloads mark, so Mozilla wants to celebrate this milestone by launching three new user-requested features.

        One million downloads in less than a month is a huge milestone for the Firefox Focus for Android app, which Mozilla designed from the ground up to be fast, easy to use, simple, free of any visual clutter that might get in your way when surfing the Web on your mobile device, and always private by shipping built-in with an ad blocker that promises to block annoying ads.

      • Firefox 55 is ridiculously good at handling thousands of tabs

        Firefox 55, due for release at the start of August, will feature a series of improvements to the browser’s responsiveness when multiple tabs are open.

        This work is part of something called Quantum Flow, a Mozilla engineering project to fine-tune and tweak the browser’s overall performance.

      • The New Firefox and Ridiculous Numbers of Tabs

        I’ve got a Firefox profile with 1691 tabs.

        I started trying to write down why, but gave up for now. It was becoming an overly long exploration of product design and the future of the web.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

  • BSD

    • Release of TinySegmenter 0.3

      Today I released version 0.3 of TinySegmenter, a Japanese Tokenizer in pure Python (released in New BSD license), with a single minor fix for proper install on systems not-using UTF-8 (apparently that still exists! :P). Thanks to Mišo Belica for the patch. Apparently some of his Japanese users are using it for Sumy, his software to extract summary from texts.

    • BSDTW 2017 CFP

      BSDTW 2017 will be held on the 11th and 12th of November 2017 (Sat/Sun), in Taipei. We are now requesting proposals for talks. We do not require academic or formal papers. If you wish to submit a formal paper, you are welcome to, but it is not required.

      The talks should be written with strong technical content. Presentations on the use of BSD in products and companies are strongly encouraged but marketing proposals are not appropriate for this venue.


    • 5 free replacements for Microsoft Paint

      The old-standby, old-favorite open-source image editor, GIMP hews much closer to Photoshop than it does to Paint, and as such the learning curve is much steeper. If you’re willing to learn, this is definitely a major upgrade.

    • More GIMP effects

      Since I have to prepare new material and slides to upcoming conferences, I couldn’t help doing some effects, I have seen on GIMP, with myself and the two Linux projects I belong.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

    • Studiolada used all wood materials to create this affordable open-source home anyone can build

      Using wood panels as the principal building material reduced the project’s overall cost and footprint because the wooden beams and wall panels were cut and varnished in a nearby workshop. Prefabricated concrete was used to embed the support beams, which were then clad in wooden panels. In fact, wood covers just about everything in the home, from the walls and flooring to the ceiling and partitions. Sustainable materials such as cellulose wadding and wood fibers were even used to insulate the home.

  • Programming/Development

    • Boost Is Planning A Move To CMake

      The Boost C++ libraries is planning for a new build system, but they aren’t going for Meson that’s been the recent trend among open-source projects.

    • Rogue Wave Software’s Zend Studio

      The quick pitch for Rogue Wave Software’s Zend Studio, recently updated to version 13.6, is “the PHP IDE for smarter development”. Zend Studio 13.6, says Rogue Wave, offers 3X faster performance in indexing, validation and searching of PHP code, and it allows users to code faster, debug more easily and leverage the massive performance gains in PHP 7. It is the next-generation PHP IDE designed to create high-quality PHP apps while boosting developer productivity. The platform automatically scales according to the DPI settings of the underlying operating system and supports HiDPI monitors.

    • Untangling Package Management in JavaScript Applications

      If a JavaScript developer was frozen in 2005 and miraculously thawed in our present world of 2017, the thing that would likely amaze them is the massive proliferation of JavaScript packages. The video below gives us a fascinating visual representation of the package explosion over time.

    • Top Programming Languages 2017: Focus on Jobs

      While the default IEEE Spectrum ranking in the Top Programming Languages interactive gives a good aggregate signal of language popularity, here we are taking a deep dive into the metrics related to job demand. Two of our data sources, Dice and CareerBuilder, measure job openings for the languages included in the interactive, and consequently we have a preset for “Jobs” that weighs the rankings heavily toward those metrics. So, if you want to build up your tech chops before looking for a programming job, what languages should you focus on?


      This article wouldn’t be complete without mentioning some of the losers in the programming language jobs calculus. Once a dominant Web programming language, Ruby is still used widely but it is slipping; the number of job openings for Ruby shrank by a full third since 2016, to about 1,600. We aren’t the first to report the slump in popularity of Ruby, and it’s far from dead, but this will be one to keep an eye on in the future as coders may already be shifting to alternatives like Python and Go. Demand for other languages like Clojure, Haskell, and Visual Basic is also on the wane. When we started the rankings in 2014, ActionScript still clocked 87 job openings, but in 2017 it continues the downward spiral, with only 20 openings, and it’s unlikely to make the Top Programming Languages at all next year. RIP, ActionScript.

    • GCC Is Working On An Implementation Of Microsoft’s Language Server Protocol

      David Malcom of Red Hat today published an interesting patch series that includes an implementation of Microsoft’s Language Server Protocol (LSP).


  • Hardware

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Reuters vs. UN Cancer Agency: Are Corporate Ties Influencing Science Coverage?

      Ever since they classified the world’s most widely used herbicide as “probably carcinogenic to humans,” a team of international scientists at the World Health Organization’s cancer research group have been under withering attack by the agrichemical industry and its surrogates.

      In a front-page series titled “The Monsanto Papers,” the French newspaper Le Monde (6/1/17) described the attacks as “the pesticide giant’s war on science,” and reported, “To save glyphosate, the firm [Monsanto] undertook to harm the United Nations agency against cancer by all means.”

    • Single Payer, Meet All Payer: The Surprising State That Is Quietly Revolutionizing Health Care

      One unheralded reason for Trumpcare’s many difficulties was a sea change in public opinion. A new Associated Press poll finds that 62 percent now agree the federal government has a responsibility to provide health coverage to all Americans, up from 52 percent in March. Republicans looking to take away coverage ran headlong into this wave of support for a bigger governmental role in health care.

      “Once you get something for pre-existing conditions, etc., etc. — once you get something, it’s awfully tough to take it away,” President Trump concluded.

      Indeed, when Kansas Republican Jerry Moran issued the statement that effectively killed the bill’s hopes, his opposition was described in the press as having come from a conservative direction. And while it was cloaked in right-wing rhetoric around choice, the politics of the statement leaned decidedly left. “We must now start fresh with an open legislative process to develop innovative solutions that provide greater personal choice, protections for pre-existing conditions, increased access and lower overall costs for Kansans,” said Moran, fully aware that protections for pre-existing conditions, couples with lower overall costs, require a robust government intervention in health care.

    • Controversial new CDC director may reconsider Big Soda’s health funding

      Brenda Fitzgerald, the newly appointed director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, will consider allowing Coca-Cola to once again help fund the agency’s anti-obesity campaigns, according to e-mailed comments reported by the New York Times over the weekend.

      Though it would be a turnabout for the agency—which ditched Coke funding in 2013—Fitzgerald’s position shouldn’t be surprising, as she has a controversial history of accepting funding from Coca-Cola. As health commissioner of Georgia from 2011 to this year, she accepted $1 million from the soda giant to fund an exercise program aimed at cutting the state’s childhood obesity rate—one of the highest in the country.

    • The Case For Nations To Act On Medicines Access

      A range of speakers, including top health officials from both a developed and developing country, last week laid out the case for why the world’s leaders must now launch a shift in the way medicines all populations need are developed and priced. The need for global collaboration is clear, speakers said, but who will lead?

    • Legalising drugs goes hand in hand with peace

      20 July 2017 was the fourth anniversary of the death of 15-year-old Martha Fernback. Martha died of an accidental ecstasy overdose in 2013. Deaths like Martha’s are preventable, and the families losing loved ones deserve better. We urgently need a new approach to drugs. We need to legalise and regulate.

    • Hey Senator, people aren’t cars

      Ron Johnson has compared people with pre-existing health conditions to cars that have been in accidents.

      “We’ve done something with our health care system that you never even think about doing, for example, with auto insurance, where you’d require auto insurance companies to sell a policy to somebody after they crashed their car,” said Johnson.

      Remember that horrible list of pre-existing conditions that circulated in early May when Republicans in Congress were considering their proposals for rolling back protections for people who have them?

    • Adding $200 Billion More Won’t Fix Unfixable Senate Health Bill

      In a last-ditch effort to save their bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA), Senate leaders are reportedly offering $200 billion to win the votes of senators from states that expanded Medicaid under the ACA. This new fund would presumably supplement private coverage for those who gained Medicaid coverage under the expansion but would lose it under the Senate bill. No senator should fall for it. While $200 billion seems like a lot of money, it’s only 17 percent of the bill’s $1.2 trillion in cuts: $756 billion from Medicaid and $427 billion from subsidies to help low- and moderate-income people buy coverage in the individual market, according to the latest Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates (see first chart). It wouldn’t even fill the federal funding gap left by repealing the Medicaid expansion — let alone prevent the harm from the bill’s per capita cap on federal funding for all of Medicaid and the loss of subsidies and erosion of market reforms for people with individual market coverage.


      The fact that Republican leaders are adding another fund — on top of their $45 billion to address the opioid epidemic, unrealistic promises of federal waivers to use Medicaid funds to help cover people losing Medicaid coverage under the bill, and inadequate, poorly designed stabilization funds — is more evidence that the Senate bill can’t be fixed. Throwing more money into a patchwork of poorly targeted funds that perpetuate the inequities in coverage between expansion and non-expansion states is no substitute for the Medicaid expansion, which has been highly successful in increasing coverage and access to care, including treatment for opioid addiction.

    • Why I Help Escort Women to the Doors of Kentucky’s Last Abortion Clinic

      Beginning this weekend, the anti-abortion group Operation Save America will descend on Louisville, Kentucky, in an attempt to shut down the last abortion clinic in the state, EMW Women’s Surgical Center. The group has targeted EMW, whom the ACLU represents, before. In May, 10 of its members were arrested when they linked hands to block the entrance of the clinic and refused to move when asked to do so by law enforcement. Abortion protesters have the First Amendment right to protest outside a clinic on public property, but they do not have the right to interfere with anyone’s access to the clinic.

    • How corporate media are enabling the opiate epidemic

      Four Democratic senators held a press conference on June 15 to highlight what the passage of the American Health Care Act (aka Trumpcare) would do for the opiate crisis. The conference came just days after a report showed overdoses are now the leading cause of death among Americans under 50 (New York Times, 6/5/17), and days before GOP senators released their secretly crafted version of health reform (Washington Post, 6/22/17) that will make it worse in countless ways. Under these dire circumstances, one would hope the room would have been filled with reporters.


      Now that addiction has “a white face,” as Ekow Yankah (New York Times, 2/9/16) put it, the tone has shifted, toward a supposedly more humane approach. But even as reporters display more sympathy (New York Times, 10/30/15), media are still failing to help solve the crisis. Overdoses continue to rise (New York Times, 6/5/17), racial disparities in the criminal justice system are still rampant (Slate, 8/9/15), and dominant media often treat the opiate crisis as fodder for anecdotal, often sensationalized stories about a sad phenomenon, not a massive health emergency begging for serious and urgent policy reforms. Further, studies show most reports covering opiate abuse still portray it as a criminal issue, as opposed to the health crisis that it is.

  • Security

    • Fingerprint-based detection of DNS hijacks using RIPE Atlas [Warning for PDF]

      DNS hijacking is a real thing happening on the Internet
      ○ We found several RIPE Atlas probes with hijacked DNS resolver
      ○ Some countries have >25% chances of DNS being hijacked

    • How the Swedish administration leaked EU’s secure STESTA intranet to Russia, then tried glossing over it

      The Swedish administration is leaking its secret intranet and databases to Russia, via its Transport Agency, via the IBM cloud, via IBM’s subcontractor NCR (formerly AT&T) in Serbia, which is a close Russian military ally. Giving staff in Serbia administrative access to these networks practically guarantees that Russia also has access to the network. The European Union’s secure STESTA network is also connected to the leaked intranet. But this is not about geopolitics and who’s allied with whom, but about how an administration tries to quiet down and gloss over an apocalyptically stupid and monstrously damaging data leak.

    • Outsourcing Nightmare

      We had two reports of an ongoing situation in Sweden where confidential information held by the government has been compromised

    • Status update from the Reproducible Builds project

      Since then, we have made considerable progress which has been reported during DebConf 15 and 16 talks as well as other conferences around the world. However, for the sake of information preservation and clear communication we felt the need to write a newer report here.

    • Debian’s Archive Is Up To 94% For Reproducible Builds
    • Debian reproducible builds project update

      Debian’s reproducible builds project has posted an update of what it has accomplished over the last few years.

    • systemd’oh! DNS lib underscore bug bites everyone’s favorite init tool, blanks Netflix

      A few Penguinistas spent a weekend working out why they can’t get through to Netflix from their Linux machines, because when they tried, their DNS lookups failed.

      The issue emerged July 22, when Gentoo user Dennis Schridde submitted this bug report to the Systemd project. Essentially, he described a failure within systemd-resolve, a Systemd component that turns human-readable domain names into IP addresses for software, like web browsers, to connect to. It’s the thing that converts, say, theregister.co.uk into

    • Zero-Day Exploit Surfaces that May Affect Millions of IoT Users
    • Security updates for Monday
    • 70,000 Memcached Servers Can Be Hacked Using Eight-Month-Old Flaws

      Eight months after three critical vulnerabilities were fixed in the memcached open source caching software, there are over 70,000 caching servers directly exposed on the internet that have yet to be patched. Hackers could execute malicious code on them or steal potentially sensitive data from their caches, security researchers warn.

      Memcached is a software package that implements a high performance caching server for storing chunks of data obtained from database and API calls in RAM. This helps speed up dynamic web applications, making it well suited for large websites and big-data projects.

    • Facebook, Ford Foundation & GitHub Donate £229,990 To Open Source Bug Bounty Program

      Facebook, the Ford Foundation and GitHub have donated $100,000 (£76,663) each to the Internet Bug Bounty (IBB), a not-for-profit bug bounty program for core Internet infrastructure and open source software.

      The money will be used to reward hackers who are deemed to have made the Internet more secure, allowing the IBB to expand the scope and impact of its bug bounty program.

    • 45,000 Facebook Users Leave One-Star Ratings After Hacker’s Unjust Arrest
    • Trust Issues: Exploiting TrustZone TEEs

      Mobile devices are becoming an increasingly privacy-sensitive platform. Nowadays, devices process a wide range of personal and private information of a sensitive nature, such as biometric identifiers, payment data and cryptographic keys. Additionally, modern content protection schemes demand a high degree of confidentiality, requiring stricter guarantees than those offered by the “regular” operating system.

      In response to these use-cases and more, mobile device manufacturers have opted for the creation of a “Trusted Execution Environment” (TEE), which can be used to safeguard the information processed within it.

  • Defence/Aggression

    • The Unending Failure of the Afghan War

      Afghanistan has been a disaster for U.S. policymakers since Presidents Carter and Reagan started funding Islamists almost four decades ago and then the U.S. began fighting them post-9/11, a failure that needs ending, says Alon Ben-Meir.

    • Global network of ‘hunters’ aim to take down terrorists on the internet

      It’s not always clear if the hunters are having a real impact beyond whack-a-mole account takedowns, although some groups have claimed credit for thwarting serious terror threats.

    • Dunkirk Represents a Big Disgrace and a Great Moment in British History

      Here’s the background: On May 10, 1940, the so-called “phony war” in which neither side fired a shot finally ended as the German Wehrmacht invaded France. Most British and American military experts regarded the French army as the strongest in the world. The assumption was that with France’s and Belgium’s armies and the addition of the 300,000-plus British Expeditionary Forces (BEF), the strength of the Western nations was at least equal to that of the Germans.

      The assumption, too, was that the French were in a strong defensive position with the heavily fortified Maginot Line on the French-German border. The 100-mile front of the Ardennes Forest in southeast Belgium was thought to be impenetrable, at least by tanks, and was therefore lightly defended by the French.

    • In Colfax, Echoes of Another Conflict

      The people of Colfax, as a result, long ago stopped being startled in the way I had been. The explosions — “Like World War III or the Fourth of July,” said one resident — are simply the soundtrack to life in a town of some resolve, considerable poverty and lots of resignation.

    • Corporate Media Largely Silent on Trump’s Civilian Death Toll in Iraq

      Earlier this week, human rights group Amnesty International issued a lengthy report accusing US-backed forces of “repeated violations of international humanitarian law, some of which may amount to war crimes,” in Mosul, Iraq, causing the deaths of at least 3,700 civilians. Neither this report, nor the broader issue of the civilian toll in the US war against ISIS, has come close to penetrating US corporate media.

    • Trump’s Slide into Endless-War Syndrome

      During his campaign for the presidency, Donald Trump touted his nationalist “America First” foreign policy, which implied that he wanted to stay out of foreign brushfire wars. Even before that, he tweeted his disapproval of American involvement of the Afghan War.

    • Your Guide to Anthony “The Mooch” Scaramucci: Trump’s New Commander of Communication

      The Trump administration on Friday officially announced that Anthony Scaramucci—a former Goldman Sachs executive who describes himself simply as an “American entrepeneur”—will be the new White House communications director.

      At an afternoon briefing, Scaramucci spoke with reporters for the first time and announced that Sarah Huckabee Sanders will be taking over as White House press secretary in the wake of Sean Spicer’s resignation earlier in the day. Spicer, according to reports, resigned from his post at least partially due to Trump’s decision to bring Scaramucci on board to lead the communication’s team.

      Not widely known, here are at least a few things you should know about Scaramucci, including a few highlights from Friday’s briefing.

    • Donald Trump Jr.’s Actions Meet a Standard for Treason

      In response to the initial rumors and eventual “revelation” about this meeting, the Trumps responded in a predictable pattern. First, there were denials that any such meeting took place. Then the narrative shifted to suggest that the meeting took place but the topics discussed were innocuous and trivial. The lies would develop to now emphasize that a meeting did take place between Trump Jr. and Russian representatives but that nothing came of it. Consequently, no harm (or crime) was committed. As more details emerged — including how senior members of Trump’s campaign were present including Paul Manafort and Jared Kushner (both of whom are under investigation for their highly suspect connections to Russian interests) — the lies evolved again to focus on how collusion with a foreign power to win an American election is somehow not illegal. Now it is known that this previously secret meeting was also attended by a former Russian spy as well as a Russia-connected financier who has been investigated regarding his involvement with money laundering.

    • How to Sustain Perpetual War (It’s Easy; Hide the Bodies)

      The bloodless war narrative’s solution to the dead is a policy of don’t look, don’t tell.

      Dick Cheney, as Secretary of Defense for George H. W. Bush, helped decide in 1991 the first Iraq War would play better if Americans did not see their fallen return home. He recalled the images of coffins from the 1989 invasion of Panama on television, transposed against the president speaking of victory, and banned media from Dover Air Force Base, where deceased American personnel would arrive from the Persian Gulf.

      The ban at Dover lasted 18 years, past George Bush 2.0 and Iraq War 2.0, overturned only in 2009, well after the casualty counts dropped off. Even then, allowing cameras at Dover was left at the discretion of the families, except of course when the president needed a blood-stirring photo op. Obama took one just before ordering the surge in Afghanistan.

      Death, when it is reluctantly acknowledged, must still follow the bloodless narrative as closely as possible. Death must be for a good cause, freedom if possible, “for his buddies” later when public opinion weakens.

    • 70,000 Tonnes of Hubris

      There is no defensive purpose to an aircraft carrier. Its entire purpose is to move aircraft to a position where they can attack other countries. As soon as they are equipped with attack aircraft, these carriers will spend most of their time around the Middle East, including at the UK’s brand new naval base in the vicious despotism of Bahrain. Having spent £7 billion on these behemoths, politicians will seek to enhance their prestige and demonstrate that they control a nation which is a “major power”, by using them. The very fact of their existence will make bombing attacks such as those we saw on Syria, Libya and Iraq more likely.

    • Killing Civilians in Iraq and Syria

      Estimates of civilian deaths from airstrikes range from the hundreds to the tens of thousands. Although the U.S. government says that it has killed 603 civilians in airstrikes since the start of military operations in 2014, the monitoring group Airwars estimates that airstrikes have killed at least 4,500 civilians, including nearly 1,000 children.

    • The Drone Program in Pakistan Is One of the Government’s Worst-Kept Secrets

      If it’s a secret, it’s surely one of the worst kept secrets in the world. Although the U.S. government has tried for more than a decade to shroud its use of drones to conduct targeted killings abroad in official secrecy, its latest effort is extraordinary.

    • Donald Trump and the Coming Fall of American Empire

      Even as President Donald Trump faces ever-intensifying investigations into the alleged connections between his top aides and family members and powerful Russian figures, he serves as commander in chief over a U.S. military that is killing an astonishing and growing number of civilians. Under Trump, the U.S. is re-escalating its war in Afghanistan, expanding its operations in Iraq and Syria, conducting covert raids in Somalia and Yemen, and openly facilitating the Saudi’s genocidal military destruction of Yemen.

      Meanwhile, China has quietly and rapidly expanded its influence without deploying its military on foreign soil.

      A new book by the famed historian Alfred McCoy predicts that China is set to surpass the influence of the U.S. globally, both militarily and economically, by the year 2030. At that point, McCoy asserts the United States Empire as we know it will be no more. He sees the Trump presidency as one of the clearest byproducts of the erosion of U.S. global dominance, but not its root cause. At the same time, he also believes Trump may accelerate the empire’s decline.

      McCoy argues that the 2003 invasion of Iraq was the beginning of the end. McCoy is not some chicken little. He is a serious academic. And he has guts.

      During the Vietnam war, McCoy was ambushed by CIA-backed paramilitaries as he investigated the swelling heroin trade. The CIA tried to stop the publication of his now classic book, “The Politics of Heroin.” His phone was tapped, he was audited by the IRS and he was investigated and spied on by the FBI. McCoy also wrote one of the earliest and most prescient books on the post 9-11 CIA torture program and he is one of the world’s foremost experts on U.S. covert action. His new book, which will be released in September, is called “In the Shadows of the American Century: The Rise and Decline of U.S. Global Power.”

    • Kaboom Town

      The U.S. military burns millions of pounds of munitions in a tiny, African-American corner of Louisiana. The town’s residents say they’re forgotten in the plume.

    • Cameroonian Troops Tortured and Killed Prisoners at Base Used for U.S. Drone Surveillance

      Troops in the West African nation of Cameroon have tortured prisoners at a remote military base that is also used by U.S. personnel and private contractors for drone surveillance and training missions.

      As the U.S. military has fortified the Cameroonian site, known as Salak, and supported the elite local troops based there, the outpost has become the scene of illegal imprisonment, brutal torture, and even killings, according to a new investigation by The Intercept and the Goldsmiths, University of London-based research firm Forensic Architecture, based on extensive research by Amnesty International. Nearly 60 victims held at Salak described to Amnesty International how they were subjected to water torture, beaten with electric cables and boards, or tied and suspended with ropes, among other abuses.

    • [Older] After 1,379 Days, NYT Corrects Bogus Claim Iran ‘Sponsored’ 9/11

      The corrections, belated as they were, minimized the defamation of the original articles in a lawyerly manner, conceding only that “it has not been established that Iran sponsored the attacks.” It has also not been established that Israel or Saudi Arabia or the Bush administration sponsored 9/11, but imagine the New York Times framing allegations against those actors this way. It’s unthinkable but, because Iran is an Official Enemy of the United States, it is not subject to the same editorial standards as those in good standing with the US State Department.

      Per the North Korea Law of Journalism—which states that “editorial standards are inversely proportional to a country’s enemy status”—the Times can casually smear Iran as sponsoring the deadliest act of terror on US soil, and it’s not taken seriously by anyone. Just thrown into an article, forgotten about and only corrected—with no special note by the paper—almost four years later.

      One would be curious what the New York Times public editor would say about such a glaring error but the paper eliminated the position a month ago (FAIR.org, 6/1/17). Perhaps the Times’ in-house media analyst, Jim Rutenberg, who spends much of his time hand-wringing over “fake news” and RT, could spare a column on how this happened. This is unlikely, since with an Official Enemy, no amount of libel—no matter how egregious—merits a meaningful response from the paper of record.

    • A Shameful Silence: Where is the Outrage Over the Slaughter of Civilians in Mosul?

      The catastrophic number of civilian casualties in Mosul is receiving little attention internationally from politicians and journalists. This is in sharp contrast to the outrage expressed worldwide over the bombardment of east Aleppo by Syrian government and Russian forces at the end of 2016.

      Hoshyar Zebari, the Kurdish leader and former Iraqi finance and foreign minister, told me in an interview last week: “Kurdish intelligence believes that over 40,000 civilians have been killed as a result of massive firepower used against them, especially by the Federal Police, air strikes and Isis itself.”

    • Open Burns, Ill Winds

      Shortly after dawn most weekdays, a warning siren rips across the flat, swift water of the New River running alongside the Radford Army Ammunition Plant. Red lights warning away boaters and fishermen flash from the plant, the nation’s largest supplier of propellant for artillery and the source of explosives for almost every American bullet fired overseas.

    • Top Democrat Wonders if Pentagon Broke Procurement Laws Wasting Millions on Afghan Army Uniforms

      The top Democrat on the Senate’s Homeland Security Committee is demanding answers about a report that the Pentagon wasted $28 million buying uniforms with a forest camouflage pattern for the Afghan army — even though forests only cover 2 percent of the country.

      Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., sent a letter to the Department of Defense asking for information about how it is investigating the waste internally and how the Pentagon plans to ensure its uniform choices are cost-effective in the future. What’s more, McCaskill questioned whether the process by which the uniforms were procured followed the laws governing the procedure.

      “These failures raise the question of whether or not DOD properly abided by federal procurement law,” McCaskill wrote in her letter, referring to the Pentagon’s inability to justify the wasted expenditure to a congressionally mandated oversight body.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • Tell Congress: We Want Trade Transparency Reform Now!

      The failed Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) was a lesson in what happens when trade agreements are negotiated in secret. Powerful corporations can lobby for dangerous, restrictive measures, and the public can’t effectively bring balance to the process. Now, some members of Congress are seeking to make sure that future trade agreements, such as the renegotiated version of NAFTA, are no longer written behind closed doors. We urge you to write your representative and ask them to demand transparency in trade.

    • Abuses hide in the silence of non-disparagement agreements

      Nondisparagement clauses have become so common that the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which enforces federal discrimination laws, and the National Labor Relations Board, a federal agency that protects workers’ rights, have been studying whether they are having a chilling effect on workers speaking up about wrongdoing or filing lawsuits, said Orly Lobel, a law professor at the University of San Diego.

    • Justice Department’s Demand for Extreme Secrecy in Reality Winner Trial Contested by Defense

      The Justice Department is seeking to impose extreme secrecy rules in the trial of alleged Intercept source and whistleblower Reality Winner that could prevent her defense team from citing countless publicly available news articles in appearances before the court — and even prevent Winner herself from seeing evidence relevant to her defense.

      On July 20, Winner’s defense lawyers moved to challenge those arguments, accusing the government in a court filing of attempting to use the pre-trial discovery process to unfairly gag them from discussing issues both vital to the case and the public at large.

    • Attorney General Jeff Sessions Once Again Shows His Contempt for Transparency

      In addition to investigating Sessions for allegedly perjuring himself during his Senate confirmation hearing and possibly having a role in obstructing justice in the firing of FBI Director James Comey, special counsel Robert Mueller will also have to investigate Sessions for any crimes in making a false statement in his security clearance application.

    • Newsweek settles with Sputnik writer

      Newsweek has settled a libel complaint with a former Sputnik writer that included allegations of Newsweek’s Kurt Eichenwald using bribery and threats to buy the editor’s silence over a false story regarding Russia, President Trump and WikiLeaks that was later deleted.

      Sputnik writer Bill Moran had written a piece that included a misattributed quote that Trump, then a presidential candidate, used in a speech that same day.

    • Intel Vets Challenge ‘Russia Hack’ Evidence

      After examining metadata from the “Guccifer 2.0” July 5, 2016 intrusion into the DNC server, independent cyber investigators have concluded that an insider copied DNC data onto an external storage device, and that “telltale signs” implicating Russia were then inserted.

      Key among the findings of the independent forensic investigations is the conclusion that the DNC data was copied onto a storage device at a speed that far exceeds an Internet capability for a remote hack. Of equal importance, the forensics show that the copying and doctoring were performed on the East coast of the U.S. Thus far, mainstream media have ignored the findings of these independent studies [see here and here].

      Independent analyst Skip Folden, a retired IBM Program Manager for Information Technology US, who examined the recent forensic findings, is a co-author of this Memorandum. He has drafted a more detailed technical report titled “Cyber-Forensic Investigation of ‘Russian Hack’ and Missing Intelligence Community Disclaimers,” and sent it to the offices of the Special Counsel and the Attorney General. VIPS member William Binney, a former Technical Director at the National Security Agency, and other senior NSA “alumni” in VIPS attest to the professionalism of the independent forensic findings.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • Why the Conservative-DUP deal spells bad news for the environment

      Beneath the surface, the new confidence and supply deal poses a number of threats to environmental justice.

      When British prime ministers go into negotiations with the DUP, they find themselves giving undue consideration to some very skewed priorities. Back in 2006, Tony Blair was brokering the deal between DUP and Sinn Fein that would become the St Andrew’s agreement. The DUP brought him what would become known as a “shopping list” of demands that they wanted to see implemented if they were to go into government with their former enemies.

    • Environmental and land activist killings hit an all-time high

      Last year was the deadliest on record for environmental activists, according to new figures released by the UK NGO Global Witness.

      The organisation’s latest report documents a “crisis” spreading globally as the number of countries in which killings were recorded countries shot up from 16 to 24. 60% of deaths occurred in Latin America, which means that the region remains the most dangerous one in the world in which to oppose environmental degradation.

      Yet again, Brazil, which has witnessed particularly bloody land conflicts in recent months, ranks first with 49 murders. Nicaragua has the highest rate of killings per capita: 11. And in Colombia, figures hit an all-time high: 37.

    • We’ve screwed up the coasts so badly that an invasive species is a plus

      Across the globe, invasive species have caused no end of trouble. Their populations can explode because they have no natural predators. Or they are predators themselves who push native species to the brink of extinction. They can upset ecosystems that had evolved a fine balance.

      But, according to a new study published this week in PNAS, not every invasive species is a negative. In some cases where we’ve wiped out a key component of the local ecosystem, an invasive species can take its place. The study’s example? An invasive algae can restore lost habitat to coastal ecosystems, providing a nursery for species like crab and shrimp.

      The work that led to this conclusion took place in tidal flats on the coast of North Carolina. Normally, this type of geography is broken up by distinct habitats provided by different organisms: coral reefs, beds of sea grass, and oyster reefs. The habitats formed by these species provide shelter for other species, allowing entire ecosystems to develop. But, over the last century or so, many of these habitats have been wiped out, leaving bare sediment behind.

    • Extremely Nasty Climate Wake-Up

      Now that the Great Acceleration dictates the biosphere with ever more intensity, sudden changes in the ecosystem are causing climate scientists to stop and ponder what’s happening to our planet, like never before… hmm!

      The Great Acceleration: “Only after 1945 did human actions become genuine driving forces behind crucial Earth systems,” (J.R.McNeill/Peter Engelke, The Great Acceleration, The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, Cambridge, London, 2014, pg. 208).

      Abrupt changes outside the boundaries of natural variability are signs of climate fatigue, Mother Nature overwhelmed, defeated, breaking down. It’s happening fast and faster yet mostly on the fringes of the ecosystem with fewest people, other than, on occasion, a handful of scientists.

    • Crewless electric cargo ships may be on the horizon in Norway

      Two Norwegian companies are teaming together to construct a short-range, all-electric coastal container ship that will eventually operate autonomously—eliminating up to 40,000 diesel truck trips per year. The ship, the Yara Birkeland, will begin operations in 2018 with a crew, but it’s expected to operate largely autonomously (and crewless) by 2020 (regulatory clearance permitting, of course).

  • Finance

    • “Inclusive Capitalism,” Nancy Pelosi, and the Dying Planet

      A recent Washington Post and ABC poll finds that just 37 percent of Americans think that the Democratic Party “stands for something.” Fifty two percent say it’s about nothing more than opposing Trump.

      The 37 percent is right. The Democratic Party stands for something, alright. It stands for the socio-pathological system of class rule and environmental ruin called capitalism – and for capitalism’s evil Siamese twin imperialism.

      So does the far more openly right-wing Republican Party, of course, but that’s fairly common knowledge. It’s more complicated with the Democrats, who like to pose as being “on the left” while carrying water for Big Business.

    • The Immigration Effect

      “Immigration is a great economic policy opportunity and it’s important to document the impact of that,” said Douglas Holtz-Eakin, an economist who served on the President’s Council of Economic Advisers in both Bush administrations. He agreed with the basic conclusions of Moody’s analysis, and said that 1.15 percent was a reasonable estimate of the effect of immigration on GDP.

      “You can’t just flip a switch and make the U.S. a richer place,” said Ozimek, the economist at Moody’s Analytics who worked on the analysis. “But with immigration, you can flip a switch and massively grow the size of the country.” And while other policy changes may have subtle, indirect effects on the economy, there is a very straightforward relationship between growing the size of the country and growing the GDP (we’re referring to overall GDP, not per-capita GDP, which the analysis does not address).

    • NYC: Front Line of Income Inequality

      Debipriya Chatterjee, an economist with the city’s Independent Budget Office reports that, “At the very top, it’s the top 0.1 percent who own 24 percent of the city’s income,” She told the website Gothamist, “We all know that the city is very unequal. What I did not anticipate seeing in the data is that the share of the bottom 50 percent has actually fallen.”

    • Is this the Brexit banking exodus Theresa May told us couldn’t happen?

      The latest financial institution making plans to relocate jobs away from the UK is Morgan Stanley, which has announced that Frankfurt will become its post-Brexit EU hub, a move that could shift an initial 200 jobs to Germany.


      The key for banks is regulation. The moment it was announced that the UK would leave the single market, the die was cast. Even if Brexit goes smoothly from a regulatory standpoint, which is wishful thinking, certain financial institutions that cater to Europe would need to move onshore, since conducting business would be more expensive otherwise. In some cases, it is mandatory from a compliance perspective that transactions are onshore. The beginning of a flight to Europe is not necessarily a hedge against uncertainty. In many instances, there is no choice.

      Not long ago the threat of bankers leaving London en masse – often deployed by financial institutions such as HSBC – was considered an idle one. Leave London, with its favourable regulation and amenable political class, its convenient red-eye flights to New York and thriving cultural scene? Sure, the option was there if the climate ever became too hostile, but few really expected it to do so.

    • Kushner defends his Russia contacts: ‘I did not collude’

      In his first public defense of his meetings with Russian officials during Donald Trump’s campaign and transition, Jared Kushner on Monday presented his encounters with those operatives as innocent interactions, according to testimony submitted to Senate investigators.

      In an 11-page opening statement to the Senate Intelligence Committee, which is part of the ongoing investigation into possible collusion between Russian officials and the Trump campaign, Kushner — now a senior White House adviser — attempted to exonerate himself, writing: “I did not collude, nor know of anyone else in the campaign who colluded, with any foreign government.”

      Instead, the powerful son-in-law painted a picture of himself as a loyal, overworked, under-experienced senior adviser to his father-in-law during a novice campaign that was never staffed up to win.

    • Fire at Greenfell

      They say eighty people died, but others have claimed that in one flat alone forty charred remains were found huddled together. They say everyone has been offered rehousing in the London area, but there are rumors some residents were sent as far as Preston in Lancashire. They say everyone affected has been given 5,500 pounds to help start their lives again – 500 in cash, and 5k in a bank account – but is this everyone who was registered as living in a flat? Everyone who was documented? Everyone who was ‘legal’? Everyone who owns a bank account? Everyone who can understand English?

      Greenfell Tower happened over a month ago now, and the image of that ugly, concrete box burning people alive will never leave me. Many, many times I’ve been past those buildings in Kensington, glanced up at the enormous, gray, ugly stark architecture and wondered what the hell would happen if it went up in smoke and I was asleep on the top floor. Apparently the residents wondered that too. They wondered where the fire alarms and water sprinklers and fire escapes were. They wondered if one staircase would be sufficient for the residents of 129 flats spread over 24 floors. They demanded answers. They were ignored.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • WaPo Worships Principled, Humanitarian McCain That’s Never Existed

      In a fawning editorial Saturday (7/22/17), pillar of the national security establishment Washington Post fell over itself to commend a John McCain that never existed, instead lavishing praise on a well-curated PR facsimile developed over decades.

      After praising McCain for issuing a “toughly worded criticism” on Twitter of Donald Trump for allegedly ending an entirely pointless, destructive and likely illegal CIA program supporting unnamed “rebels” in Syria (the highest act of moral courage for the Post is gunrunning to CIA proxies), the Fred Hiatt–run editorial board proceeds to paint McCain as the antidote to the problem of “partisan warfare, where politicians will say just about anything at all, true or untrue, to gain an advantage.”

      This is clearly meant to be an opaque shot at Trump, but the Post is too cowardly to say so outright, much like McCain was too cowardly to actually vote against any of Trump’s cabinet—aside from the OMB director who McCain only opposed because he believed he would cut defense budgets.

    • Trump and the Christian Fascists

      Donald Trump’s ideological vacuum, the more he is isolated and attacked, is being filled by the Christian right. This Christianized fascism, with its network of megachurches, schools, universities and law schools and its vast radio and television empire, is a potent ally for a beleaguered White House. The Christian right has been organizing and preparing to take power for decades. If the nation suffers another economic collapse, which is probably inevitable, another catastrophic domestic terrorist attack or a new war, President Trump’s ability to force the Christian right’s agenda on the public and shut down dissent will be dramatically enhanced. In the presidential election, Trump had 81 percent of white evangelicals behind him.

      Trump’s moves to restrict abortion, defund Planned Parenthood, permit discrimination against LGBT people in the name of “religious liberty” and allow churches to become active in politics by gutting the Johnson Amendment, along with his nominations of judges championed by the Federalist Society and his call for a ban on Muslim immigrants, have endeared him to the Christian right. He has rolled back civil rights legislation and business and environmental regulations. He has elevated several stalwarts of the Christian right into power—Mike Pence to the vice presidency, Jeff Sessions to the Justice Department, Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court, Betsy DeVos to the Department of Education, Tom Price to Health and Human Services and Ben Carson to Housing and Urban Development. He embraces the white supremacy, bigotry, American chauvinism, greed, religious intolerance, anger and racism that define the Christian right.

    • Hightower: Does Anyone Really Think Corporate Profiteers Are Going to Educate Our Children Well?

      Where are Charlie and Dave, Mrs. Koch’s two mischievous boys?While the Koch brothers have stayed out of the national limelight since the White House was acquired by Trump and Company, that doesn’t mean the two right-wing billionaire brats are any less active in trying to supplant American democracy with their little laissez-fairyland plutocracy. In fact, in late June, you could’ve found them in one of their favorite hideaways with about 400 other uber-wealthy rascals, plotting some political hijinks for next year’s elections.

    • Seconds after quoting an anonymous source, Anthony Scaramucci admits the source was Donald Trump
    • This Is Not the Mooch I Know
    • [Older] At NYT, Fantasy of Bill Clinton’s Centrism Saving the Dems Never Gets Old

      Gather round, boys and girls! The New York Times has a fairy tale it wants to tell you—about the magical land of Centrism and how it needs to be saved from the sinister Lefties….

      Oh, you’ve heard this story before? Yes, it’s true—the Times has been telling this same story for years, always with the same thrilling leaps of logic (Extra! Update, 6/04; Extra!, 7–8/06; FAIR.org, 1/11/11, 5/27/15, 5/23/16).

      This time (New York Times op-ed, 7/6/17), it’s told by Mark Penn—identified as a “pollster and senior adviser to Bill and Hillary Clinton,” not as a PR consultant for corporations like Microsoft, Merck, Verizon, BP and McDonald’s—and Andrew Stein, identified as a “former Manhattan borough president and New York City Council president,” rather than as a Trump supporter and convicted tax cheat.

    • Sour Grapes: Iran Wins the Iraq War, and I Scooped the NYT by Six Years on the Story

      The New York Times is featuring a piece stating Iran is the big winner of the U.S.-Iraq wars, 1991-2017.

      So what does winning in Iraq look like, asks the Times? About like this:

      A Shia-dominated government is in Baghdad, beholden to Tehran for its security post-ISIS. Shia thug militias, an anti-Sunni and Kurd force in waiting, are fully integrated into the otherwise-failed national Iraqi military. There are robust and growing economic ties between the two nations. An Iraqi security structure will never threaten Iran again. A corridor between Iran and Syria will allow arms and fighters to flow westward in support of greater Iranian geopolitical aims in the Middle East. And after one trillion in U.S. taxpayer dollars spent, and 4,500 Americans killed in hopes of making Iraq the cornerstone of a Western-facing Middle East, American influence in Iraq limited.

      It seems the Times is surprised by the conclusion; it’s “news” for some apparently. The newspaper ran the story on its hometown edition front page.

      But sorry, it wasn’t news to me. I tried writing basically the same story in 2010 as a formal reporting cable for the State Department. Nobody wanted to hear it.

    • Trump’s latest senior science nominees are a talk-radio ignoramus and a career poisoner

      The Department of Agriculture’s chief scientist oversees more than 1,000 scientists in 100 research facilities: Trump’s pick to run the agency is Sam Clovis, a climate-denying talk-radio host who not only lacks any kind of scientific degrees — he didn’t take a single science course at university.

    • Read Anthony Scaramucci’s old tweets. You’ll understand why he deleted them.
    • Pro-Trump media are pushing a new voter fraud conspiracy theory
    • No talking climate change to Zuckerberg, White House tells scientist

      As part of his “not running for president” cross-country tour, Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg took a trip to Montana’s rapidly melting Glacier National Park last weekend.

      But a few days before his visit, according to a report in Mic, the Interior Department canceled his plans to chat climate change with Daniel Fagre, a research ecologist and climate specialist at the United States Geological Survey.

    • Why wasn’t Mark Zuckerberg allowed to meet with Glacier’s climate expert?

      But with the park a ground zero of sorts for the unmistakable signs that warming and melting of glaciers is speeding up, the decision to keep a visitor — and a celebrity at that — from meeting with a scientist-in-residence, first reported by Mic, struck some observers as a deliberate effort by the Trump administration to minimize climate issues.

    • White House Signals Acceptance of Russia Sanctions Bill
    • North and South Korea Want a Peace Treaty: The US Must Join Them

      Two years ago, I crossed the world’s most fortified border from North to South Korea with 30 women peacemakers from 15 countries, calling for a peace treaty to end the six-decade Korean War. On July 13, I was denied entry into South Korea from the United States as retribution for my peace activism, including the 2015 women’s peace march.

      As I checked in for my Asiana Airlines flight to Shanghai at San Francisco International Airport, the ticket agent at the counter informed me that I would not be boarding the plane headed first to Seoul Incheon International. The supervisor handed me back my passport and informed me that she had just gotten off the phone with a South Korean government official who had told her I was “denied entry” into the country.

    • Rep. Schiff Introduces Constitutional Amendment to Overturn Citizens United

      Today, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) introduced a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United and increase regulation of campaign contributions and spending. In 2010, the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision struck down decades of restrictions on corporate campaign spending and allowed corporations to spend unlimited funds to run campaign advertisements.

    • [Older] White House reporter live streams audio-only press briefing

      The White House has banned live audio and video coverage at every press briefing since June 29.

    • Sean Spicer Has Embarrassed Himself—Badly

      The time to resign was on January 21, when the president demanded he tell an outrageous lie.

    • Trump’s Bypasses Media via Twitter — Irrelevant!

      Trump discovered something bigger online: he doesn’t really need much from journalists. Social media for Trump is not simply a display board to pin policy statements on, as others use it. Social media allows Trump to bypass everything and speak to individual citizens, and then force the traditional media to amplify what he says as part of its thirst for “content.” There really isn’t any news anymore when Trump has it on Twitter as his own scoop.

      The media is playing defense!

    • Anthony Scaramucci, Trump’s New Communications Director, Said Citizens United Made Possible a “Sleeper Cell” of Hedge Fund Managers

      Anthony Scaramucci is nothing if not a visionary.

      The brash former hedge fund manager was named communications director for the White House on Friday, but he’s been sharing his thoughts about politics for a long time now.

      And Scaramucci has donated enormous amounts of money to a wide panoply of politicians. He was national finance co-chair for the 2016 Scott Walker presidential campaign, raised money for Jeb Bush, and then personally maxed out to Trump’s campaign and gave $100,000 to Rebuilding America Now, a pro-Trump Super PAC. His hedge fund, Skybridge Capital, also donated $75,000 to a Mitt Romney Super PAC in 2012 and $100,000 to Karl Rove’s Super PAC in 2013.

    • Beware Bewildered Blairites

      The Guardian/Observer remains the house journal of the Blairites, and while they have temporarily turned down the volume on the Corbyn hate, it is a good place to assess how the right wing forces in Labour are planning to reassert themselves. And the answer is in part that they are clutching at racism like a drowning man clutching at a straw. Andrew Rawnsley, the epitome of the Blairite journalist who exudes overpaid entitlement, quotes with endorsement Gordon Brown protégé Natascha Engel, defeated Labour ex-MP for NE Derbyshire, who states “what we need to do is reconnect with our white working class voters”.

    • Green Party Growing Pains; Our Own Crisis of Democracy

      A dominant issue at the Green Party 2017 Annual National Meeting was inclusion of and leadership by oppressed communities. The Green Party began as a party of primarily white environmentalists, but that has been changing over the past decade. In the current corporate kleptocracy, there is a dire need for a party of and by marginalized communities that builds effective political power for transformational change in our society. The Green Party might be that vehicle, but undergoing that change will result in conflict and growing pains as we struggle to practice our values.

      Following the election of the new Steering Committee at the Annual National Meeting, outrage was expressed that the three African American candidates lost. The Black Caucus and other caucuses protested, and steps are now being taken to write a proposal to address their legitimate concerns. That will be presented to the Steering Committee and National Committee for debate and consideration.


      Out of this there are two things needed. First, we need to get the full story on the extent of Stein-Cobb interference in elections. Did they have any involvement in the negative smears against Mérida? Did they pressure members of the Green Party of Colorado to attack Mérida? Was there any involvement between them and a false, smear letter about Mérida at Standing Rock? Why didn’t Stein and Cobb publicly endorse what came to be considered their slate? Why were they making calls in private instead of being public? Delegates are supposed to represent their state, so was the Stein-Cobb interference a violation of Green ethics? What role did they have with the Black Caucus’ action?

    • Meet the GOP insider who created white nationalist Richard Spencer

      Long before Donald Trump’s election ushered in an era of resurgent white nationalism, a disaffected Republican named William H. Regnery II was brooding about the demographic plight of white people and plotting their rescue.

      Like Trump more than 20 years later, Regnery, the wealthy scion of a famous GOP family, had an increasingly dark view of a changing America: As he wrote, the U.S. had become a crime-ridden society with bad schools, high taxes, an intrusive government and a penchant for political correctness that was “morphing into an intellectual tyranny.”

      Worse, “a flood of immigrants were changing the look of America from a palette of prime colors to a third-world monochrome,” he wrote in a rant that would be at home on the bookshelf of Trump’s chief strategist, Steve Bannon. “Instead of a lingua franca, the country clanged with many foreign tongues.”

      By 1999, he had come to believe that the only future for white people in North America was a reconfigured continent with a white-only homeland carved out of the former United States.

      He began consorting with Ku Klux Klan apologists, Holocaust deniers, eugenics boosters and immigration foes. He set up two white nationalist nonprofits and steered money into them. He published fringe-right journals and books.

      Through his family’s famed conservative publishing house, Regnery had been on a first-name basis with the cream of the Republican establishment. But by 2006, his public views on race left him ostracized from the GOP.

    • Trump Is Reported to Be Discussing Possibility of Pardoning Himself, Relatives or Aides

      Just when you think Donald Trump’s presidency can’t get any stranger, it does.

      After the partial transcript of his odd interview with The New York Times was released Wednesday, The Washington Post reported that Trump is discussing with lawyers the possibility of pardoning himself, his family and close aides in order to undercut special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into allegations that the Trump presidential campaign colluded with Russia to influence the 2016 election—an investigation that Trump has long called “a witch hunt.”

    • Liu Xiaobo and the struggle for democracy

      Liu’s appeal for a more democratic China can be traced back to the Beijing 1989 protests. He joined the movement in Tiananmen Square, which resulted in a two-year jail sentence. But the government could never silence him. His calling to change the status quo remained as strong as ever as he continued to voice his concerns over the state of repression in the country. The regime tried to keep him at bay by detaining and sentencing him to 11 years in prison. Yet even there, his struggle was not forgotten. The Norwegian Nobel Committee awarded him the Peace Prize in 2010.

    • Next Top DOJ Environment Official May Oversee Cases Involving Old Client, BP

      With all eyes on Donald Trump’s fixation on the Justice Department Russia probe, the administration looks set to put a fossil fuel industry loyalist at the head of the agency’s environmental protection division.

      Jeffrey Clark, a longtime lawyer for energy companies and an environmental prosecutor under the George W. Bush administration, will be considered for the job next week by the Senate Judiciary Committee.

      The selection to lead the Environment and Natural Resources Division saw his nomination delayed on Thursday by Democrats on the panel. The lawmakers exercised their right to “holdover” considerations of executive nominees.

      Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) hit out at Clark, noting that the Republican has not ruled out the possibility of presiding over cases that involve a controversial former client: BP.

    • Trump’s EPA Chemical Safety Nominee Was in the “Business of Blessing” Pollution

      Michael Dourson, President Donald Trump’s nominee to head the EPA’s Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention, founded and ran a toxicology consulting firm whose work enabled DuPont to avoid providing clean water to people in West Virginia after the company contaminated the area around one of its plants with a dangerous industrial chemical.

      In 2000, DuPont was seeking a consulting company to guide the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection in a delicate project. DuPont had used PFOA to make Teflon and other products and allowed the chemical to seep into water near the plant. The assignment was to help the state set safety levels for PFOA that would determine when DuPont had to provide clean water to residents.

    • Protests in Poland as Right-Wing Ruling Party Dismantles Democracy

      Tens of thousands poured into the streets in Poland Thursday night, condemning proposed laws that would dramatically weaken the nation’s judicial system, just two weeks after U.S. President Donald Trump visited the country and praised its commitment to freedom and democracy, speaking to “an audience of close to 15,000 enthusiastic, flag-waving Poles—many of them bused in by Poland’s ruling right-wing” party.

      The pending judicial reform is just the latest in a series of anti-democratic measures adopted in Poland since the far-right Law and Justice Party (PiS) came to power in 2015. As the New York Times noted, the party has “increased government control over the news media, cracked down on public gatherings, and restricted the activities of nongovernmental organizations.” It has also limited female reproductive rights.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • Radio station cancels Richard Dawkins appearance over Islam tweets

      “I have indeed strongly condemned the misogyny, homophobia, and violence of Islamism, of which Muslims — particularly Muslim women — are the prime victims. I make no apologies for denouncing those oppressive cruelties, and I will continue to do so.”


      Facebook is continuing to censor Conservative websites critical of Islam.

      Steve Amundson, founder of Counter Jihad Coalition, told Church Militant that Facebook has been locking him out of his page, Counter Jihad Coalition, since July 11.

      Amundson uses his Facebook page and website CounterJihadcoalition.org to “educate people on political Islam, the threat of sharia and the violence that’s in political Islam.”

    • The First Amendment Protects the Right to Boycott Israel

      Earlier this week, the ACLU sent a letter to members of Congress opposing the Israel Anti-Boycott Act. The bill would amend existing law to prohibit people in the United States from supporting boycotts targeting Israel — making it a felony to choose not to engage in commerce with companies doing business in Israel and its settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories. Violations would be punishable by a civil penalty that could reach $250,000 and a maximum criminal penalty of $1 million and 20 years in prison.

    • Russians protest state censorship of the internet

      The demonstration – between Pushkinskaya subway station and Sakharov Prospekt – was staged on Sunday against online censorship and demanded the “exoneration of Russians prosecuted for posting content online.”

      Demonstrators shouted: “No to censorship, no to dictatorship!” and “Down with the police state!” Some adapted a popular slogan from opposition rallies against President Vladimir Putin’s rule, shouting “Russia without Putin and censorship!”

    • Russians Protesters Rally Against Internet Censorship

      Hundreds of demonstrators took to the streets of Moscow on July 23 to protest Internet censorship and demand the resignation of the head of Russia’s state media regulator.

      The protest came amid a broad crackdown on online speech in recent years that rights activists say is targeting legitimate dissent under the pretext of battling extremism.

    • Russians march against state internet crackdown
    • Censor keeps Israelis in the dark as world learns of Jordan embassy saga
    • It’s time for Canada to stand up to China’s censorship crackdown
    • China’s VPN crusade is crippling universities’ ability to do proper research
    • ACLU calls for Gov. LePage to stop ‘censorship’ on Facebook page
    • ACLU calls on LePage to stop censoring posts to his Facebook page
    • J Street, a Reliable Foe of BDS, Urges Congress to Oppose Israel Anti-Boycott Act For Now

      A bill backed by 43 senators and 247 House members seeks to effectively criminalize support for the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement, which calls for economic pressure to force Israel to ends its human rights abuses against the Palestinians.

      The Israel Anti-Boycott Act, according to the American Civil Liberties Union, would levy penalties of up to 20 years in prison and a $1 million fine — leading many to claim, such as the ACLU did, that it is a serious threat to free speech.

      But the bill has an unlikely opponent.

    • Russian news agency ‘RBC’ refuses to publish investigative report on a ‘secret torture prison’ allegedly operating outside Moscow

      The news agency RBC refused to publish an investigative story by journalist Ilya Rozhdestvensky about a “secret prison” allegedly operated outside Moscow by Russia’s Federal Security Service because the report had not been properly verified, says Elizaveta Golikova, one of the agency’s editorial board managers.

      Responding to criticisms that the news agency is censoring its reporting, Golikova stated in a Facebook post that RBC “doesn’t just reprint anyone’s complaints in full,” explaining that all published stories need to stand up to “professional analysis.” Golikova says RBC’s editorial board rejected Rozhdestvensky’s investigative report because it relied too heavily on the “opinions of one side.”

    • KTS Tulsi to argue Coca Cola Documentary Censorship challenge in Delhi HC

      Can an independent filmmaker’s documentary on how the activities of aerated drinks and bottled water companies harm the environment and livelihoods be denied certification on the grounds of being defamatory, politically motivated and misleading?

    • Bilibili calls removal of content ‘self-censorship’

      A popular animation, comic and game (ACG) website said on Sunday that its recent removal of TV series and films was a result of the website’s self-censorship and strategic adjustment on content.

      “China had listed some requirements to standardize online films and programs. Bilibili has grown to a certain scale and has to inspect its content,” Chen Rui, executive director of Bilibili, was quoted by the news site thepaper.cn as saying on Sunday.

      Bilibili, one of the most visited ACG websites in China, removed most of its TV series and films on July 12, which the company said later was to ensure that contents on its website are in compliance with laws and regulations.

      The removed content were mainly Japanese televisions programs and films, said thepaper.cn, adding that some films from the US and European countries are also affected, together with those produced in the mainland.

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Should NSA and CYBERCOM Split? The Legal and Policy Hurdles as They Developed Over the Past Year
    • Senator Wyden Wants To Know How Many Times Americans Have Been Targeted By Executive Order 12333

      That buzzing noise that never seems to leave the Intelligence Community’s ears is Sen. Ron Wyden. Wyden’s questions — often unanswered — are dog whistles for privacy advocates but ear-bleeding tinnitus for agency officials. Persistence is key in Congressional oversight and few are better at it than Wyden is.

      For years, Wyden has been asking how many Americans have been hauled in by the NSA’s Section 702 dragnet. And for years, the NSA and ODNI have sidestepped the question. The surveillance bosses got close to returning an answer — right before they announced they were shutting down the collection that netted the most Americans.

    • NZ judge: Our spies surveilled Kim Dotcom for 2 months longer than admitted

      According to the New Zealand Herald, a New Zealand High Court judge revealed on Friday that the country’s signals intelligence agency, known as the Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB) illegally spied on Kim Dotcom for two months longer than previously admitted.

      Then-Prime Minister John Key apologized to the Megaupload founder back in 2012 for the operation. Under the law at the time, permanent residents like Dotcom were not to be subjected to surveillance by the country’s foreign-looking agency. If the revelation is borne out, it would mean that GCSB continued to spy on Dotcom even after the agency was made aware that the surveillance was illegal. Prime Minister Bill English has not responded to media requests for comment.

    • Roomba’s Next Big Step Is Selling Maps of Your Home to the Highest Bidder

      The Roomba is generally regarded as a cute little robot friend that no one but dogs would consider to be a potential menace. But for the last couple of years, the robovacs have been quietly mapping homes to maximize efficiency. Now, the device’s makers plan to sell that data to smart home device manufacturers, turning the friendly robot into a creeping, creepy little spy.

    • Concerned about connected car privacy? Bluetooth sensors used to track traffic

      One big promise of the connected car revolution has been the potential to help clear up traffic problems. When every vehicle and traffic signal is connected to the cloud, municipalities and local governments should be able to have a constant view of the traffic on their streets, aware of any problems almost instantly. The catch? It’s going to take a long time before there are sufficient vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2I) or even vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V)-equipped cars on our roads. But the city of Aarhus in Denmark has shown you don’t need to wait for V2x to finally penetrate the market to start doing that; all you need are outdoor Bluetooth sensors.

      For some time, Aarhus has been using Bluetooth sensors to collect traffic pattern information. As people drive around, emitting Bluetooth signals, the sensors log their movements around the city. In doing so, their traffic patterns can flag and reveal problems that the city needs to fix.

    • In Xinjiang, China, police have set up checkpoints to ensure that the government-mandated “Jingwang” spyware is installed

      In Xinjiang, China, citizens are being forced to install a targeted surveillance mobile app called Jingwang. Additionally, the government has set up random checkpoints on the streets to check whether the spyware is properly installed on your smartphone.

    • Age verification plans put web users’ privacy at risk

      Open Rights Group has responded to the announcement that the Government has initiated plans for the age verification of porn websites.

    • Nine-judge Constitution Bench of Supreme Court hears arguments on right to privacy: Updates from day 1
    • Nine-judge Constitution Bench of Supreme Court hears arguments on right to privacy: Updates from day 2

      Today, a nine-judge Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court continued hearing arguments on the existence of a fundamental right to privacy, in connection with the matter of Justice K.S. Puttaswamy and Ors. v. Union of India and Ors. [W.P.(C). No. 494/2012] that challenged various aspects of the Aadhaar scheme.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Jeff Sessions Wants to Make “Legalized Theft” Great Again

      Donald Trump’s Justice Department revived a federal program on Wednesday that gives state and local law enforcement more power to seize property from people who haven’t been charged, let alone convicted, of a crime.

      The practice — known as “civil asset forfeiture” — became widespread as part of the drug crackdown in the 1980s, after Congress passed a law in 1984 that allowed the Department of Justice to keep the property it seized. At the time, forfeiture was billed as a way to undermine the resources of large criminal enterprises, but law enforcement saw it as a way to underwrite their budgets, and have overwhelmingly gone after people without the means to challenge the seizures in court.

      The practice has become so widespread that in 2014, law enforcement officers took more property from American citizens than all home and office burglaries combined.

    • Jeff Sessions Is Aiding and Abetting Police Departments Who Want to Seize Property of People Convicted of No Crime

      On Monday, Attorney General Jeff Sessions said the Justice Department plans to “develop policies to increase forfeitures.” And today he did just that by reversing a 2015 policy then-Attorney General Eric Holder issued that prohibited local law enforcement from circumventing more restrictive state civil forfeiture laws by partnering with the feds. When signaling this policy reversal, Sessions proclaimed “no criminal should be allowed to keep the proceeds of their crime.” The only problem is that we are not talking about criminals.

      We are talking about Americans who have had their homes, cars, money, and other property taken through civil forfeiture, a practice that requires only mere suspicion that property is connected to a crime. That’s right — people can have their property taken by the government without a criminal charge being filed, much less a conviction secured. More often than not, the police who seize the property get to keep it or sell it off and keep the proceeds, which only incentivizes the corrupt practice.

    • McMansion Hell Take-Down Controversy Illustrates Why the Supreme Court Should Clarify the Limits of the CFAA

      When McMansion Hell blogger Kate Wagner received Zillow’s letter last month demanding that she take down her architecture parody blog, she was scared. So scared that she temporarily disabled access to her blog via McMansionHell.com until she could find an attorney. We’re happy she found us at EFF.

      While all of the claims Zillow made were highly dubious, one stuck out to us as especially egregious and scary: the claim that McMansion Hell violated a notorious vague criminal statute called the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, or CFAA. That Zillow’s lawyers thought it was proper to include this threat shows how strongly we need some sanity brought to the CFAA.

    • How Trump Signed a Global Death Warrant for Women

      With one devastating flourish of the presidential pen, worldwide progress on family planning, population growth and reproductive rights was swept away. Now some of the world’s poorest women must count the cost.

    • New book explores how protesters—and governments—use Internet tactics

      In February 2003, the largest demonstration in Britain’s history saw two million people march across London to protest the approaching Iraq War. Dozens of other cities across the world saw similar events, and yet.

      Why did politicians feel safe ignoring the millions who participated in those marches—yet stand down after the protests against the proposed intellectual property laws SOPA and PIPA? Why did Occupy apparently vanish while the Tea Party has embedded itself into US national electoral politics? How much did Facebook really have to do with the Arab Spring? How—and this is the central question technosociologist Zeynep Tufecki considers in her new book, Twitter and Tear Gas: The Power and Fragility of Networked Protest—do digital media change the reality and effectiveness of social protest?

      Over the quarter-century since the Internet went mainstream, much has been written and argued about digital technologies’ ability to transform disparate individuals into a movement. Dismissives argue that social media-fueled movements are too fragile and their participants too uncommitted to achieve much. (Writing in Slate, Tufecki found that tone in Evgeny Morozov’s The Net Delusion, despite broad agreement that oppressive governments are sufficiently smart and motivated to harness these technologies for self-preservation.) Online-protest optimists saw the Arab Spring as evidence that these enabling tools create democratic change. And there are those who presume that governments will never be digitally literate or quick enough to take advantage, an early example being John Perry Barlow’s 1996 essay A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace.

    • Democratic Hong Kong lawmakers face further judicial risk

      A recent visit to Hong Kong by Chinese President Xi Jinping was marked by a powerful display of military might and arrests of radical protesters, but his seemingly softer approach in a major speech surprised the democratic opposition in the former British colony.

      In an address celebrating the 20th anniversary of Hong Kong’s return to Chinese rule, Xi warned against efforts to “challenge the power” of Beijing, but recognized the territory as a “plural society.” Beijing was willing to talk to “anyone who loves the country, loves Hong Kong,” Xi said, regardless of their political views — a rare remark interpreted by some moderate democrats as offering an olive branch.

    • FBI Informant Helped Out In Terrorism Stings While Running A ‘Stranded Traveler’ Scam

      It’s well known many confidential informants are criminals. Acting as informants is supposed to keep their criminal acts to a minimum while providing access to bigger criminal fish. The same goes for undercover officers and agents. Some illegality is presumed but those running CIs are expected to be making the world a better place, not ignoring vast amounts of criminal activity simply because the informant is now on their side. But that doesn’t seem to be the case.

      The DEA’s informant program is being run with almost no oversight, according to an Inspector General’s report. Money flowed to informants who were still under federal investigation and no one up top seemed too concerned about the program’s bang/buck ratio. The FBI made abusable programs worse by hiding payments to informants and giving them a cut of forfeited property.


      On November 7, 1993, Daniel Yock, an 18-year-old Aboriginal dancer died there. Or at least he was picked up there, by police.

      Daniel probably died in the back of a police wagon, like some cattle do on their way to a slaughterhouse. In any event, he was certainly dead by the time he reached the police watchhouse, just a few kilometres from the scene of his arrest.


      This week, Aboriginal Australia has another name to add to a lengthy catalogue of deaths spanning decades – and longer. Deaths which clearly have had little to no impact on a justice system that has always been stacked against them.

      That name is Elijah Doughty (pictured at the top of this article).

      In a welcome break from tradition, on this occasion the deceased was not killed at the hands of police. Elijah Doughty was killed by a citizen, a 56-year old Kalgoorlie-Boulder man.

      As is now well known, on August 29, 2016, Elijah was riding a stolen motorbike on the outskirts of town. There is no evidence that Elijah stole it, nor that he even knew it was stolen.

    • A Veteran ICE Agent, Disillusioned with the Trump Era, Speaks Out

      The agent’s decision to allow me to write about our conversations came after learning that ice was making a push, beginning this week, to arrest young undocumented immigrants who were part of a large wave of unaccompanied minors who crossed the border in recent years and who, until now, had been allowed to live in the U.S. Rather than detaining these young people, the government had placed them in the care of families around the country. Most of them are trying to lead new lives as American transplants, going to school and working. ice now plans to pursue those who have turned eighteen since crossing the border, and who, as a result, qualify for detention as legal adults. “I don’t see the point in it,” the agent said. “The plan is to take them back into custody, and then figure it out. I don’t understand it. We’re doing it because we can, and it bothers the hell out of me.”

    • DOJ Forfeiture Directive Gives Local Law Enforcement A Chance To Dodge State Reform Efforts

      As threatened during comments to an association of district attorneys, Attorney General Jeff Sessions is bringing back asset forfeiture. Specifically, Sessions is loosening the restrictions placed on federal adoption of local seizures by Eric Holder during the last years of the Obama presidency. Holder’s directive prevented local agencies from routing cash or vehicle seizures through the feds to dodge local rules. That’s all over now. An order [PDF] and directive [PDF] issued by the DOJ are welcoming local law enforcement agencies to once again skirt restrictive state forfeiture laws by asking the DOJ to “adopt” their seizures.

    • How to get free US military weapons—build fake website and DOD will oblige

      If you’re not a US military or police buff, you probably have never heard of the 1033 Program. It essentially provides a bureaucratic means to transfer excess military grade weapons to local law enforcement agencies. Sure, you may not like local police departments having all types of military gear, such as grenade launchers, helicopters, boats, M14s, M16s, and so on.

    • TSA: United made false announcement about comic book luggage ban

      Don’t worry Comic-Con fans, you don’t have to remove your comic books from your checked luggage, despite what a Sunday photo circulated on Twitter suggests.


      Lorie Dankers, a TSA spokeswoman, told Ars on Monday morning that she was mystified as to how United could get this policy wrong. “I don’t know how United went ahead and stated a TSA policy incorrectly,” she said. “I can say that TSA has advised in the past that if people bring several of the same type of item, it can alarm the checked baggage screening, but there is no prohibition on bringing things that are not a security threat. In this case, comic books are not a security threat and we encourage travelers to bring them if they so choose.”

      Dankers was referring to a 2016 blog post (and a more recent post, too) noting that stacks of comics “often [cause] alarms leading to bag searches which can cause a significant slowdown in the screening process leading to delays and bags possibly missing their flights.” But she clarified that this was a recommendation, not a requirement.

    • United Says TSA Wants All Comic Con Comic Books Searched; TSA Says ‘Not Us’

      So that’s all bizarre enough. I mean, there has been talk about restricting electronics on flights, as well as some talk of sifting through reading materials, but comic books? From San Diego Comic Con? Many people were left wondering what the hell the TSA could be thinking… and that included the TSA. When asked about all of this by reporters, the TSA appeared to be just as confused as everyone else and insisted there was no such restriction…

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • Break up the cable monopolies? Democrats propose new competition laws

      Senate and House Democratic leaders today proposed new antitrust laws that could prevent many of the biggest mergers and break up monopolies in broadband and other industries.

      “Right now our antitrust laws are designed to allow huge corporations to merge, padding the pockets of investors but sending costs skyrocketing for everything from cable bills and airline tickets to food and health care,” US Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) wrote in a New York Times opinion piece. “We are going to fight to allow regulators to break up big companies if they’re hurting consumers and to make it harder for companies to merge if it reduces competition.”

    • The FCC Is Full of Shit

      Yet, somehow the FCC could not produce a single document from the day the cyberattack is said to have occurred. It released one email from a reporter asking for a comment about Schatz and Wyden’s letter. Another short one concerning the same letter between two FCC staffers was entirely redacted, because its disclosure would, the agency said, expose its “decision making process in such a way as to discourage candid discussion within the agency and thereby undermine the agency’s ability to perform its functions.”

    • Verizon Throttles Netflix Subscribers In ‘Test’ It Doesn’t Inform Customers About

      So for years Verizon Wireless refused to compete on price, insisting that the company’s network was just so incredible, it didn’t have to. Then came increased competition from T-Mobile, which forced the company to not only start competing a little more seriously on price, but to bring back unlimited data plans Verizon had spent years telling customers they didn’t need. And while Wall Street cries about this rise in competition hurting earnings at least once a week, it has generally been a good thing for consumers.

      But there’s two things waiting just over the horizon that could ruin everybody’s good time. One is a looming merger between Sprint and T-Mobile, which would significantly reduce competition in the wireless sector, eliminating much of the pressure on mobile providers to compete. The other is the impending death of net neutrality protections at the FCC, which currently keep these carriers from abusing this lack of competition to drive up costs and hamper content competitors.

    • Lawsuits Pile Up For CenturyLink After Years Of Bogus Fees, Fraudulent Billing

      For decades now, broadband ISPs have abused the lack of meaningful competition in the telecom market by not only refusing to shore up historically awful customer service, but by raising rates hand over fist. This usually involves leaving the advertised price largely the same, but pummeling customers with all manner of misleading fees and surcharges that drive up the actual price paid post sale. And by and large regulators from both major political parties have been perfectly ok with this practice, despite it effectively being false advertising.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Copyrights

      • Google Removes Torrent Sites From ‘Results Carousel’

        Google is no longer highlighting the “best torrent sites” in its search results. Following an investigation, the search engine decided to pull the prominent torrent sites ‘carousel’ from its search results. Various streaming sites remain highlighted, but the ‘pirate’ sources have been removed there as well.

      • BREIN Takes Down 231 Pirate Sites in Six Months, But That’s Not All

        Dutch anti-piracy group BREIN has published a report on its activities for the first six months of 2017. The headline figures are the takedown of more than 230 ‘pirate’ sites alongside the targeting of more than a dozen major uploaders, but it was BREIN’s successes in key legal battles that will have the broadest implications.

      • Alex Mauer Gets Another Game Taken Down From Steam Via DMCA As She Sends Imagos’ Lawyer Death Threats

        Last month, we discussed a strange spate of DMCA notices going out from Alex Mauer, a video game music composer. Through her DMCA blitz, she managed to get a game removed from Steam, as well as getting several DMCA strikes against several YouTubers that had covered that game, all apparently as a result of a contract dispute she had with Imagos Softworks and her general inability to understand contractual language and copyright law. The tone of that post was justifiably critical, but some are now concerned that there is a well-being issue at hand. For starters, Mauer has now targeted a second game via DMCA takedown and has managed to get Steam to remove the game from its listings.

Qualcomm-Apple Dispute Escalates Further (Lawsuits Come to Europe) With the Cost of Linux-Powered Devices Also at Stake

Posted in Antitrust, Apple, Courtroom, Patents at 2:57 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

The latest twist is, Qualcomm ended up suing Apple — using rather dubious patents — in Munich and in Mannheim

Mannheim, Germany
Mannheim, Germany

Summary: Another catchup with a high-profile case (complaints and lawsuits ad infinitum) that will help determine one’s ability to leverage patents in bulk — including software patents — against phone-making OEMs

THE summertime has been full of news about Qualcomm, a company we wrote quite a lot about in relation to its abusive patent litigation campaign and the growing number of complaints against that. The subject is important to those who are interested in patents on phones, including software patents. Aren’t they far too expensive already?

“The subject is important to those who are interested in patents on phones, including software patents.”Last month, for example, Qualcomm’s actions culminated in attempts to block iPhone imports. It affects Linux too, by extension. Here is Simon Phipps writing about this one patent aggressor going after another, Apple (which attacks Android/Linux). It was also covered by Florian Müller, Android sites, hardware sites, financial sites, press releases, and technical press. CNET focused on how it might affect iPhone users.

As usual, any story that involves “Apple” tends to attract more coverage than something about an Android OEM. We hypothesised about the reasons for that in the distant past.

“As usual, any story that involves “Apple” tends to attract more coverage than something about an Android OEM.”Qualcomm’s actions were a reaction to Apple’s complaint. Citing Lexmark (SCOTUS), for example, Müller recently wrote about the FTC complaint. He said this: “I believe Qualcomm is trying to nuance its corporate structure here because it will try to somehow argue (which is going to be a tall order and I doubt it will persuade Judge Koh) that the Supreme Court’s recent Lexmark ruling on patent exhaustion wouldn’t apply to Qualcomm’s situation.

“Most of Qualcomm’s nine defenses (stated at the end of the document) are legal theories that are identical or related to what didn’t persuade Judge Koh in connection with the motion to dismiss, plus theories according to which whatever may appear anticompetitive is actually good for consumers (or, conversely, whatever remedy might appear procompetitive would ultimately harm consumers). Considering how much I, as a consumer, believe to have indirectly paid to Qualcomm over the years (vs. what other patent holders presumably collected), I disagree. In particular, the consumer-friendliest remedy would be to enforce Qualcomm’s “to all comers” FRAND licensing obligation so that Intel, Samsung and others could sell baseband chips to device makers that come with a license to Qualcomm’s standard-essential patents.”

“Qualcomm has preyed on Android OEMs, so an Apple win would be beneficial to Linux in this case.”Writing in late June he said there were “many billions at stake” and the mainstream press covered that too. Qualcomm had attempted to produce a so-called ‘study’, but Apple kept refuting it. Even CCIA, in the form of Patent Progress, wrote about that at the time. Wall Street media chose the headline “Apple Alleges ‘Mounting Evidence’ Against Qualcomm”, noting that:

Apple found “continuing — and mounting — evidence of Qualcomm’s perpetuation of an illegal business model that burdens innovation,” according to the filing. It claims some of the patents that Qualcomm wants to get paid for are invalid and that Qualcomm hasn’t fulfilled its obligation to charge fair and reasonable rates on patents related to industry standards.

As a reminder, we actually support Apple in this dispute. Qualcomm has preyed on Android OEMs, so an Apple win would be beneficial to Linux in this case. It would also harm Microsoft’s ability to shake down Android OEMs (Qualcomm’s recent threats to Microsoft and Intel notwithstanding). Precedence matters here.

Back in June the media recalled Qualcomm concessions/defeat, noting that “Qualcomm’s Refund to BlackBerry Swells to $940 Million”…

“BlackBerry is no ally here, but its ability to extract money (back) from Qualcomm is actually a good thing.”That was a deep and profound loss for patent maximalists – yet again!

BlackBerry’s devices now run Android, but BlackBerry may be getting out of that business and become a classic patent troll. The Canadian firm has already resorted to using software patents in the Eastern District of Texas against the competition. Bloomberg said a month ago that “BlackBerry Falls Most in Two Years as Software Sales Falter”. Well, the Bloomberg article has spread since [1, 2] and this was covered elsewhere.

BlackBerry is no ally here, but its ability to extract money (back) from Qualcomm is actually a good thing.

“…now it’s Qualcomm that’s coming under critical review from the European Commission.”“The final check that San Diego’s Qualcomm must write to smartphone maker BlackBerry for overpayment of patent royalties is $940 million,” said this article and Müller spoke of another pain for Qualcomm, namely the barrier to its NXP deal. “More than five years ago,” he recalled, “Google’s acquisition of Motorola Mobility was delayed significantly by merger reviews on both sides of the Atlantic and U.S. regulatory approval was subject to certain promises related to patent enforcement. At the time, Motorola Mobility (the acquisition target) was aggressively asserting FRAND-pledged standard-essential patents against Apple and Microsoft. Against that background of blatant FRAND abuse, competition enforcers weren’t prepared to grant fast-track approval.”

Well, now it’s Qualcomm that’s coming under critical review from the European Commission.

In patent extremists’ view, Qualcomm is doing nothing wrong. They don’t care about innovation and competition, only about maximal patent tax. IAM selectively covered this, choosing to defend standard essential patents (SEP) as follows:

While patent owners in the US in recent years have become accustomed to change in the legal environment courtesy of the Supreme Court and Congress, some have also had to contend with the much broader application of competition laws by local antitrust authorities. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has taken a lead role in actively policing the licensing activities of standard essential patent (SEP) holders, starting with Rambus in the mid-2000s and most recently with its investigation into Qualcomm’s licensing practices.

In contrast to this, Müller cited Judge Lucy Koh. Here is the relevant portion:

Qualcomm tried hard, but unsuccessfully, to get the FTC’s antitrust lawsuit in the Northern District of California dismissed. Maybe Qualcomm hoped, more realistically, the FTC would have to amend the complaint in some important ways, possibly complicating the case to the point where the U.S. competition agency would find it hard(er) to justify using the resources required for pressing on. The reason I suspected the latter is because, based on hearsay from about seven years ago, the European Commission’s investigation of Qualcomm’s practices with a focus on Nokia (now more of a Qualcomm friend than foe), essentially got derailed by scare of conducting a resource-intensive, complex and somewhat subjective (thus more likely to be overruled) rate-setting exercise. In the FTC case here, the presently-Acting Chair of the FTC, Maureen Ohlhausen, opposed the decision authorizing the complaint, and might have been the first decision-maker to argue that the case should be dropped or settled (the latter without any useful remedies) due to litigation economics. Industry concern over such a decision by the FTC was and remains real, as an open letter to President Trump showed in April.

This was also covered in [1, 2, 3]. The FTC lawsuit isn’t going to stop any time soon.

“…many of the patents at hand are on software and likely not patent-eligible/valid under Alice.”Not too long afterwards Apple was joined by its hardware partners and Müller framed it as follows: “In April, Qualcomm (in its counterclaims to Apple’s Southern California complaint) already alleged that Apple had interfered with Qualcomm’s contractual relationships with the contract manufacturers, which is why the related royalty payments ground to a halt a few months ago. Therefore, it really never made sense to me in the first place that Qualcomm brought a separate action against the contract manufacturers (in which it has meanwhile requested a preliminary injunction): the thing to do, in my view, would have been for Qualcomm to add the contract manufacturers to the case as third-party counterclaim defendants.”

“Apple and its contract manufacturers present united, ever stronger front against Qualcomm,” Müller added later. That’s pretty recent news:

On Monday, four of its contract manufacturers (the ones Qualcomm is suing in the Southern District of California) impleaded Apple into Qualcomm’s breach-of-contract suit. Before midnight on Tuesday, Apple and its contract manufacturers (the most well-known of which is Foxconn) made various filings in San Diego. It will definitely take me some time to digest, but as I follow the various Qualcomm matters closely, I can share some observations here already.

This one report about it speaks of “patent actions made against indefensible software patents” because, as we noted here before, many of the patents at hand are on software and likely not patent-eligible/valid under Alice.

Qualcomm then resorted to throwing more lawsuits Apple’s way, this time in Germany [1, 2].

Just before the weekend Josh Landau (CCIA) argued that “If Qualcomm Wins At The ITC, We All Lose,” for it’s not only Apple’s business that’s at stake. To quote:

This afternoon, CCIA filed comments on the public interest in the Qualcomm v. Apple case pending at the International Trade Commission (ITC). Qualcomm sued Apple in the ITC as part of the large dispute between the two companies. (The dispute continues to grow, having recently added a case in Germany and suits and counter-suits between Qualcomm and the contract manufacturers Apple uses.)

As part of ITC investigations, the ITC seeks comments on how the requested relief would affect the public. As I’ve written before, Qualcomm’s practices are anti-competitive and harmful to consumers. And by seeking to exclude Apple from selling any iPhones that lack Qualcomm processors, Qualcomm is trying to use the ITC as a tool to maintain their anti-competitive practices in the face of lawsuits from Apple and the FTC.

We generally haven’t kept a very close eye on this case because it involves two (or three, if we count BlackBerry too) companies that we don’t support and would rather see destroying one another. At the end of the day, however, the outcome will have serious ramification for any company that sells devices with GNU/Linux, be it Tizen or Sailfish OS or Android in its various flavours. Müller seems to be the only person who’s really keeping up and abreast of every development.

Section 101/Alice: Latest News and Views

Posted in America, Patents at 1:59 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: A § 101 change which effectively strikes out software patents (if not at the patent office, then in appeal boards and courts) continues to alter the litigation landscape much to the chagrin/regret of various circles

THE USPTO is our main subject of coverage today. It’s improving, albeit slowly if not gradually, owing to the Supreme Court (where changes are major and rapid, with the PTO slow to begrudgingly adopt these).

Not everyone is happy about the changes. Patent law firms, for example, are in somewhat of a panic over it. The Inventors [sic] Digest’s Editor-in-Chief also wants us to think that improvements in patent quality is a “Bad Thing”, citing the U.S. Chamber of Commerce (CoC). To quote: “”The damage done by recent court rulings, legislation and government agencies is subjective. But America’s plummeting ranking in patent system strength is a point of fact: The 2017 U.S. Chamber of Commerce Global IP Index marked the first time America has not ranked first in patent system strength. It is now ranked 10th.”

By “patent system strength” they don’t mean patent strength but something else. Americans should know that the latter is what counts. Litigation is in the interest of the litigation ‘industry’, not a producing industry.

“Should Abstract Ideas Be Unpatentable?”

That was the question asked in this headline from a month ago at Patent Progress (CCIA). It’s about Alice:

The pattern of the dots (just like the pattern of lines in a barcode, or the pattern of squares in a QR code) encodes information—in this case, the URL for Patent Progress.

That’s it. That’s what Kaldren claims to own. Encoding information into a set of dots, reading that information, and using it in communications and messaging.


Patent Progress has written about how businesses use Alice and § 101 to stop patent trolls. And we’ve talked about the inter partes review process and how that can be used as well.

The Kaldren v. Snap case has all the hallmarks of a case that shows why both § 101 and IPRs are good for the patent system. Without § 101 or IPRs, they’d face a long and expensive lawsuit in order to have an opportunity to convince a jury that the Kaldren patents are about old technology and should never have issued. With § 101 and IPRs, they at least have an opportunity to show the court early on that the patents are about abstract ideas, and an opportunity to go to the Patent Office and ask that they take a second, more detailed look at whether these patents should have issued in the first place.

The matter of fact is, a lot of technology companies are very happy about Alice. It is them — not a bunch of law firms — that should help determine policy on patents in their own domain. Sadly, the media (in this area/topic) is dominated by law firms. They keep interjecting themselves into articles if not writing those articles themselves. Consider a sort of propaganda piece in the local press here (Manchester). Susan Hall, a Partner at Clarke Willmott, basically does her firm’s ‘marketing’ in the guise of an ‘article’, with statements like: “The only way to obtain a patent for software inventions is to show that they produce a ‘technical effect’…”

Actually, software patents are not allowed here. The term “technical effect” typically comes from the patent microcosm when it tries to mislead EPO examiners into granting software patents.

A few days ago, on Thursday, we learned of yet another Alice victory as the “asserted claims of the Patents-In-Suit were found invalid under 35 U.S.C. § 101,” according to Patent Docs. Here is more information:

Accordingly, the District Court found that the asserted claims fail to disclose any inventive concept which would transform the claims’ abstract idea into a patent-eligible subject matter. As such, the asserted claims of the Patents-In-Suit were found invalid under 35 U.S.C. § 101.

Clearly, in today’s reality for software patents, the claims in these patents are too broad. Many of the patents have priority dates going back to 1998 and issue dates over 10 years ago. But, claims of this scope and lack of detail would not make it through the Patent Office using today’s examination standards.

This case is yet another example, however, where the language of the claims should satisfy section 101 and be considered patentable subject matter, and then, the invalidity challenge should arise under section 102/103 to show that nothing new and unobvious is claimed by virtue of such broad claims.

Yesterday we gave many more examples of § 101 invalidations (spanning May to July) and then revealed who was lobbying against that.

Two days earlier (than the above from CCIA) the media in Texas published an article titled “Software patents are bad for startups, need to go” — something which one doesn’t exactly expect from Texas. This was said in relation or in light of patent trolling and here are some passages:

Last week, the founders of Pied Piper from the acclaimed HBO comedy “Silicon Valley,” crossed paths with “patent troll.” Trolls buy rights to an overly broad patent for pennies, then make a living by suing start-ups and settling for thousands of dollars. These lawsuits have become a depraved legacy of the Lone Star state, 40 percent of patent lawsuits in the last decade have been filed in the Eastern District of Texas. The premise that allows these trolls to exist, patents for software, are unnecessary for successful technology companies and detract from the incentive to innovate. It is necessary to abolish software patents to create a better technology industry.

Patents are a cornerstone of tech behemoths. The ongoing Smartphone Patent Wars between Apple, Google, Microsoft, and Samsung has incurred over $20 billion worth of litigation. Yet even though the industry places a premium on intellectual property (IP), the fundamental nature of the United States patent system is unfit to handle software patents.

Patents have historically been granted to protect “things,” like the drugs developed by pharmaceutical companies, the words written by an author, or the mechanism used to lock a door. These physical patents are explicitly constructed because they describe exact mechanical functions, like a special hinge that keeps a door propped open.


The abundance of software patents have trickled into daily life – the desktop computer involves 592,345 patents. The result is “patent thickets,” a veritable forest of patents that startups developing must navigate lest they get sued by Apple. The vagueness of software patents have allowed companies to sue individuals for trivialities like using a copier and has cost defendants over $83 billion per year. Software patents have already put startups in India in a tight spot, and a failure to reduce software patents poses to put the US in the same situation

Regarding Texas, Patently-O had this coverage about the Texas Supreme Court. It’s a case which deals not with patent venue/scope but with agent privileges:

Enter Texas, where one of its court of appeals held that, because the claim in that case was not patent infringement, but a state law claim, Texas law applied, and under it, there was no patent agent privilege. My earlier post about it is here. That post also links to the amicus brief I filed, arguing a point not raised by the parties: that under Texas choice of law principles, Federal Circuit law applied and there was good reason to defer to its approach.

The same site wrote about Millennium Pharma v Sandoz. “On appeal,” Patently-O wrote, “the Federal Circuit has reversed.”

In its decision, the district court recognized that the resulting compound was likely unexpected, but focused on the process of getting to that result – holding that the claimed compound was simply the “natural result” inherent to the lyophilized process and that it would have been obvious to try the process on boronate + mannitol. On appeal, the Federal Circuit has reversed.

This one isn’t about software, so CAFC siding with the claimant does not impact § 101 in any way.

Patently-O, one month earlier, wrote about the aspect of secret software patents — something which clearly would not be an issue if software patents were more officially dropped, removing a tax on developers. To quote:

In each of these release scenarios, the technology remains locked in unused or inaccessible software code prior to an official release. Helsinn makes it clear that hiding away patentable features will not prevent the on-sale bar from being triggered in these situations. Avoiding the on-sale bar may require that programmers be aware of these issues and take special care to remove test features from the release version of the software.

Although the situations described above specifically relate to software development, there are myriad examples from other industries in which an invention is sold without disclosing implementation details. Thus, although Helsinn does not tell us whether purely secret sales will be patent invalidating, the case may ultimately have a greater impact than whichever dispute ultimately decides the private sales issue.

All in all, the above cases serve to show obvious change along the lines of software patents, resistance to that change from particular circles, support for that change, and yet more cases that demonstrate perpetuation of the change. As we said yesterday, “Alice/U.S.C. § 101 is a Done Deal, Meaning Software Patents Are Effectively Dead in the US” (maybe officially too, one day)…

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