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07.31.17

Links 31/7/2017: Linux 4.13 RC3, New MythTV, Mesa 17.2 RC2, Sparky 5.0 Special Editions

Posted in News Roundup at 9:36 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • Desktop

    • Alpha Store litebook laptop Linux review

      I ordered a litebook after emailing back and forth questions about Linux and the product. They replied super fast and everything sounded great.

      In reality, if I had to guess what is happening, it’s a couple teenagers working out of their moms basement, ordering laptops from aliexpress in bulk, installing Linux and then selling them for a profit.

  • Audiocasts/Shows

    • Coming Soon | For The Record

      Are we too dependent our Internet connectivity? Should we instead, explore creating our own Linux media servers in place of common streaming services? I’ll give you a preview of my effort to reduce my reliance with common streaming services. I’ll talk about upcoming videos featuring Plex, Kodi, Ubooquity, Subsonic, calibre and more!

  • Kernel Space

    • Linux Kernel – When It All Started & How It Is Here

      ​Many of the open source lovers know Linux. I know, you are also one of them, cause you are also a supporter of open source. However, many don’t. Today I am going to mention the history of the famous kernel, Linux.

    • Linux 4.13-rc3

      Another week, another rc.

      Usually rc2 is the really quiet one, but this release cycle rc2 was
      fairly busy and it made me worry a bit about whether there was
      something bad going on with 4.13.

      But no, it was just random timing, and people got started sending in
      fixes early, and this release cycle it’s rc3 that is small. It’s about
      half the size (in commits) of rc2 – usually things are the other way
      around. Maybe people are starting to go on vacation (August tends to
      be quiet in Europe in particular).

      I’m not complaining. Quiet weeks are nice.

      Linus

    • Linux 4.13-rc3 Kernel Released: It’s A Small One
    • Linus Torvalds pens vintage ‘f*cking’ rant at kernel dev’s ‘utter BS’

      Linux overlord Linus Torvalds has fired off an expletive-laden rant of the sort that only he seems to find acceptable.

      His post to the Linux Kernel mailing list takes aim at a chap named Kees Cook, who The Register believes to be a Google employee working on security for the company’s Pixel phones.

      Cook appears to have earned Torvalds’ ire with his post warning of a bug in the way the Linux kernel deals with memory leaks.

      Torvalds’ response is stern, kicking off with “Kees, stop this idiocy already”, explaining that the bugs Cook discusses are false positives and then launching into “ it’s a f*cking disgrace that you are in denial about the fact that it’s the *checking* that is broken, not the code, and are making excuses for shit.”

    • Graphics Stack

    • Benchmarks

      • AMDGPU-PRO 17.30 vs. Linux 4.13 + Mesa Git RadeonSI Benchmarks

        With this week’s release of AMDGPU-PRO 17.30, here are some fresh benchmarks of this latest AMD hybrid Linux graphics driver release compared to using the newest pure open-source driver stack in the form of the Linux 4.13 development kernel and Mesa Git.

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK

      • Recipes turns one year old

        I’ve given a presentation today and explained that recipes turns one year old at this GUADEC in Manchester. That is of course nothing compared to GNOME, which turned 20, so we send our congratulations:

      • My talk at GUADEC 2017

        Thanks so much to the GNOME Foundation for its support to the events I do to spread the GNOME word in my local community in Peru. I have had the opportunity to share my work done in 2016 and 2017 at GUADEC 2017.

  • Distributions

    • Reviews

      • Set up web services quickly with UBOS 11

        Some people might think that UBOS is targeting less experienced users with its talk of quickly and easily setting up popular web services at home. At least that was my initial impression of the project’s mission. However, I came to realize that UBOS makes certain admin tasks very fast and convenient, but not necessarily beginner friendly. Running UBOS means using the command line and being comfortable with the Linux command line tools. The UBOS project does provide us with documentation for using the ubos-admin software which is very useful, but we are not given manual pages or guides for other commands. This means UBOS users should already be comfortable working from a terminal, but do not necessarily need to know anything about setting up an Apache web server or web applications.

        For the most part, UBOS does a good job of making it quick and easy to set up a handful of web services. What would usually take me twenty minutes to install, configure and test takes less than five minutes with UBOS and I appreciate this time saving technology. The ability to backup multiple websites and their databases in seconds with one command is also a very welcome feature.

        There were downsides to using UBOS I ran into. One was the distribution refusing to reboot after services were installed. The second was the issue I ran into where I could not install new services once web applications had already been installed. This seems like a restriction which would get in the way in any situation where we want to experiment with new applications.

        A final issue I ran into was UBOS currently does not offer many pre-packaged services. There are, at the time of writing, eight available web services we can install and configure with a single command. This is a good start, but I hope more services are added later, perhaps for other blogging software, development tools and other common web services. The basics many home users are likely to want are already in UBOS’s inventory and I hope the selection is expanded to appeal to a wider audience in the future.

    • New Releases

      • Sparky 5.0 Special Editions

        New live/install iso images of special editions of SparkyLinux 5.0 “Nibiru” are out.
        Sparky 5 follows rolling release model and is based on Debian testing branch “Buster”.

        GameOver Edition features a very large number of preinstalled games, useful tools and scripts. It’s targeted to gamers.

        Multimedia Edition features a large set of tools for creating and editing graphics, audio, video and HTML pages.

        The live system of Rescue Edition contains a large set of tools for scanning and fixing files, partitions and operating systems installed on hard drives.

      • [MythTV] v29.0 Released

        The MythTV Team is pleased to announce the release of MythTV version v29.0

        This release is the first release of the new stable branch fixes/29.

      • MythTV 29 Released

        It’s been a while since last having anything to report on with the once very popular MythTV HTPC/DVR software, but today it’s out with a new stable release: MythTV 29.

        Rather than being released as MythTV 0.29 with v0.28.1 being their previous stable release, instead they have bumped their major version number and are now MythTV 29.

    • Arch Family

      • Bluestar Linux A Solid Arch Based Linux Distribution With KDE Desktop Environment

        ​Bluestar Linux is an Arch based Linux distro powered by the KDE desktop. The developers seek to provide up to date packages and a host of desktop and multimedia apps out of the box. The aim of the distro is to provide a solid operating system that provides a wide range of functionality and ease of use without sacrificing beauty and aesthetics.

    • Red Hat Family

      • Finance

      • Fedora

        • FAmSCo August 2017 elections: Thoughts on a global community

          A new release of Fedora makes headlines this month. With every release, it also means a new round of the Fedora community leadership elections. On 24 July 2017, the call for nominations went out for candidates. The Fedora Engineering Steering Committee (FESCo), Fedora Ambassador Steering Committee (FAmSCo), and the Fedora Council all have seats open. Already, discussions on nominations are happening. The candidate interview templates are being prepared. Even now, the nomination lists are filling up. However, I want to share an opinion on the upcoming FAmSCo election specifically.

        • 10 Days with Fedora 26 and Mageia 6

          About 13 days ago or so, I posted an entry on my preparations to upgrade Fedora Workstation KDE 25 to Fedora 26.

          My original intention was to do it via CLI, but it did not go well because, after having downloaded all the packages, the system reported insufficient space in / for the install. Apparently I, being a Fedora noob, had not removed all the old packages and had less than 75 MB left.

    • Debian Family

      • Calibre in Debian

        Some news about Calibre in Debian: I have been added to the list of maintainers, thanks Martin, and the recent release of Calibre 3.4 into Debian/unstable brought some fixes concerning the desktop integration. Now I am working on Calibre 3.5.

      • Derivatives

        • Canonical/Ubuntu

          • [Video] Ubuntu 4.10 (Warty Warthog) Review! (Re-upload)
          • Canonical Works on Linux 4.13 for Ubuntu 17.10, GCC 7 Transition in Early August

            They promised, and they will deliver! Canonical recently announced that they started working on rebasing the upcoming Ubuntu 17.10 (Artful Aardvark) operating system on the Linux 4.13 kernel.

            One of the highlights of Ubuntu Kernel Team’s latest newsletter is the fact that work started on the building and testing Linux kernel 4.13 for Ubuntu 17.10, and it looks like users can already install the second Release Candidate (RC) milestone announced by Linus Torvalds last week.

            Canonical plans to ship the final release of Ubuntu 17.10 with the Linux 4.13 kernel, but, for now, the current daily builds and the recently released Alpha 2 milestone for opt-in flavors are powered by the Linux 4.11 kernel packages of Ubuntu 17.04 (Zesty Zapus), yet the Linux 4.12 kernel is available in the staging repository.

          • Flavours and Variants

            • Deepin System Monitor invites you to go on a Process Killing Spree

              Deepin has unveiled its latest first-party app, a stylish new system monitor — and it makes me want to go all Dexter on my distro.

              The app, named ‘Deepin System Monitor’, marries the aesthetic appeal of resource monitors like Conky with the functionality of regular process management tools. The end result is an app that looks as good as it works.

            • System76′s Pop!_OS Linux Distro to Get the Volume Improvements from Ubuntu 17.10

              System76′s engineers won’t take a break from adding new features to the first major release of the Ubuntu-based Pop!_OS Linux distribution, and they recently shared a blog article to keep the community up-to-date with what’s they’re planning lately.

              First off, it would appear that System76 devs noticed the Ubuntu Desktop team working on porting the volume setting that lets laptop users raise the volume over the 100% limit using the keyboard volume buttons to the upcoming Ubuntu 17.10 (Artful Aardvark) operating system, so they’ll add that to Pop!_OS, too.

              “Upstream Ubuntu has been working on a problem with volume settings that we here at System76 agree with 100%. Currently, the ability to raise the volume above 100% is present in GNOME/Ubuntu, this exists because some devices at 100% can still come across as fairly quiet,” said System76′s Pop!_OS devs on the blog article.

            • [Linux Mint] Monthly News – July 2017

              Many thanks to all the people who donated to us. Thank you for your support.

              I hope you enjoyed the recent release of Linux Mint 18.2 and the upgrades in LMDE.

              The development cycle for Linux Mint 18.3 was started and some really exciting improvements landed already.

              The software sources tool was ported to GTK3 and now supports HiDPI.

              Cinnamon gained support for HybridSleep.

            • Linux Mint ‘Software Manager’ Sees Some Major Improvements

              Major improvements are coming to the Linux Mint Software Manager app, the Ubuntu-based distribution’s default app store.

              Announcing the news in the latest newsletter Linux Mint project lead Clement Lefebvre says his distro was one of the first Linux distributions to ship with a graphical “app store” of sorts, called ‘Software Manager’.

            • Development work begins in earnest on Linux Mint 18.3

              Clem Lefebvre has announced via the Linux Mint Blog that the next version of the Linux Mint distribution is in the works and will include a revamp to the Software Manager which “needed attention”. The new Software Manager comes with a more modern look giving users a better user experience.

            • Linux Mint’s Software Manager Is Getting Big Updates For Linux Mint 18.3

              In their latest news letter, the Linux Mint team has announced the changes which are part of the development cycle of Linux Mint 18.3. Until now, a considerable number of changes have been made to Software Manage, the inbuilt package management application in Linux Mint.

            • Loki Updates for July

              We kicked off July with a new release of AppCenter. The most obvious change you may have noticed is the new “Trending” carousel on the home page. This represents apps with the most downloads over the last 24 hours. You may also notice that we now show a spinner in the headerbar when AppCenter is working on something, whether that’s fetching updates or installing a new app. Speaking of apps, all of our default apps now appear alongside AppCenter Dashboard apps instead of in the “Uncurated” section.

Free Software/Open Source

  • ReactOS 0.4.6 Is On The Way With Many Fixes, More UEFI Prepping

    ReactOS 0.4.6 has more work towards UEFI booting support, memory management improvements, various Win32 subsystem improvements, an NFS driver, a lot of USB work, various DLL fixes, and more.

  • AT&T Open Sources Telco Software, Widens Workforce Culture

    Stalwart of American industrial branding AT&T has embraced open source. Well, who hasn’t? The multinational telecommunications conglomerate has moved to open source its ECOMP (Enhanced Control, Orchestration, Management and Policy) technology.

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice

    • Azul Systems Collaborates with Qualcomm to Bring Enterprise-Grade Open Source Java on ARM to Datacenters

      Azul Systems, Inc., in collaboration with Qualcomm Datacenter Technologies, Inc., a subsidiary of Qualcomm Incorporated, today announced the general availability of new versions of Zulu Enterprise and Zulu Embedded, a complete open source development and runtime platform for server-side Java applications, for the Qualcomm Centriq™ 2400 Server Processor. The new version of Zulu supports Java 8 and the ARM®v8-A architecture.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

  • BSD/UNIX

    • Trying OpenIndiana Hipster On The Core i9 7900X

      Following the Linux and BSD multi-threaded tests on the Intel Core i9 7900X, I next decided to try this system with the Solaris-based OpenIndiana. Sadly, it didn’t end well.

      With various BSDs working fine on the Core i9 7900X box paired with the NVMe storage, MSI X299 SLI PLUS motherboard, etc, I figured OpenIndiana would play fine. Sadly, I was wrong.

    • Bitrig: The Short-Lived OpenBSD Fork

      Bitrig, the operating system that forked OpenBSD back in 2012, is no longer being developed.

      Bitrig saw its initial release in 2014 but it’s been relatively quiet since. In fact, pretty much forgotten on my end until seeing an LLVM commit this week mentioning Bitrig is dead and has been merged back into OpenBSD.

      Further showing the project is no more is the GitHub project area showing no more work since 2016.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

    • Open Access/Content

      • How open courses are slashing the cost of higher education

        As Michael said at Saylor’s recent education summit, to meet the world’s growing need for learning, “the cost per education unit delivered has to go way down, the capacity’s got to go way up. To do that, you need a machine to manufacture education. The world doesn’t need 100,000 algebra teachers; [we need] one really, really good algebra teacher [whose teaching can be] automated and manifested in software that delivers an algebra education to the next 10 billion people.”

        We offer nearly 100 free courses, and 100% of the courses we develop are openly licensed under a CC BY license. We also deliver our courses using the Moodle open source learning platform and have made our own updates and customizations to Moodle openly available.

    • Open Hardware/Modding

      • Efabless launches open-source hardware design portal

        Efabless Corp. (San Jose, Calif.) has opened a website called Chiplicity that offers an online design framework for the design, verification, prototyping and prototyping of mixed-signal ASICs.

        Chiplicity supports community-developed intellectual property cores (IP cores) and ICs and allows community members to create, share, make derivatives of and commercialize their mixed-signal ICs. Chiplicity includes all the tools needed for a full design cycle from idea to completed manufacturable GDSII files. Community members can manufacture their designs as prototypes through Efabless on shuttles at German foundry X-Fab.

      • FlyPi: an open source 3D printed microscope that can be made for €100

        Those of us who were fortunate enough to attend well funded schools might take for granted that laboratory equipment, such as microscopes, are actually quite expensive. This, of course, means that most schools around the globe do not have access to scientific equipment which can be used to teach, train, and research.

      • Better Call Saul needed 3D printing and an Arduino to arm Mike Ehrmantraut
  • Programming/Development

    • Web Development Trends 2017

      JavaScript has been rising since 2016 and its rapid growth allows developers to work on chatbots, virtual reality and many other trending things.

      The language grammar and efficiency of writing the apps were improved and overall, JS is now the most popular language among full stack developers.

      Check out our article about most popular JavaScript projects on GitHub.

    • A quick guide to types in functional programming

      Functional programming is taking off, but there appears to be some misunderstanding about the theoretical background of its types. Many programmers incorrectly name types and create confusion around simple ideas. To clarify, let’s look at the differences between union, tagged unions, and algebraic data types.

    • Grasp Prolog Programming with Free Books

      Prolog is a general purpose, declarative, logic programming language, often associated with artificial intelligence, computational linguistics, intelligent database retrieval, and problem solving. It’s widely used in research and education for natural language processing.

      Automatic backtracking is one of the most characteristic features of Prolog. It’s a form of searching, fundamental to all artificial intelligence techniques. Prolog also supports multi-directional reasoning; arguments to a procedure can freely be designated inputs and outputs in different ways in different procedure calls. This is a powerful theorem-proving technique. Another key feature of Prolog is that its syntax and semantics are closer to formal logic than say Lisp.

  • Standards/Consortia

    • OpenGL 4.6 Released With Vulkan/SPIR-V Ingestion, Parallel Shader Compiles & Finally AF

      As we have been anticipating for weeks/months, a new formal update to OpenGL has been in the works and it’s officially out today. Meet OpenGL 4.6! This is a pretty significant update and internally they had the debate whether to call it OpenGL 5.0, but here we are with OpenGL 4.6 that features Vulkan/SPIR-V extensions and more. The good news is the open-source Mesa drivers aren’t too far out from OpenGL 4.6 support, at least RadeonSI and Intel.

Leftovers

  • Central Park Five Case, Explained
  • Science

    • When a 200,000-Year-Old Culture Encountered the Modern Economy
    • History shows that stacking federal science advisory committees doesn’t work

      Scientists are busy people, but every year thousands donate many hours of their time without payment to advise Congress and federal government agencies. They provide input on all kinds of issues, from antibiotic resistance to mapping the world’s oceans in three dimensions.

      The Trump administration has raised alarms by signaling that it is determined to replace scientific advisers who are not in line with its political philosophy. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt is replacing most of the members of EPA’s Board of Scientific Counselors and, very likely, its Science Advisory Board. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke has suspended the activities of numerous advisory panels, including many scientific committees, pending review of their purpose and composition.

      Will Trump Cabinet members really be able to shift the scientific advice on which their agencies rely? And how should scientists respond?

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Professionals who exposed Flint water crisis win first MIT ‘Disobedience’ award

      Marc Edwards, an engineering professor at Virginia Tech whose tests of Flint water showed dangerous amounts of lead, and Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha, a pediatrician whose research revealed that children in Flint had high levels of lead in their blood, will share a $250,000 prize.

    • State Police: Non-Residents Taking Free Bottled Water Meant For Flint

      Capt. Chris Kelenske says it might be time to require identification at the nine distribution sites in Flint. He says he has a “lot of anecdotal evidence” that non-residents are taking water following the struggling city’s water crisis.

    • Snyder aide: Flint water delay costs $600K a month

      A top aide to Gov. Rick Snyder told Flint and Genesee County officials Friday that the city council’s indecision on a long-term water source costs more than a half million dollars each month and risks “significant” water rate increases next year if something isn’t done soon.

    • Councilman asks why Flint water crisis whistleblower is still off the job

      The former operator of Flint’s water treatment plant remains on administrative leave without pay, and a city councilman wants to know why.

    • Cass County sheriff says intense North Dakota pipeline protests haunted his dreams nightly

      Paul Laney’s phone rang on a Saturday while he was relaxing as he watched televised coverage of the summer Olympics. Little did the Cass County sheriff know that his professional life was about to be upended.

      The call was from a fellow sheriff asking for help in dealing with the protests against the Dakota Access Pipeline in Morton County, just north of the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation.

      After he arrived two days later, Laney would spend the next 4½ months confronting a massive influx of protesters trying to halt the $3.8 billion crude oil pipeline from crossing Lake Oahe on the Missouri River just upstream from the reservation.

      Laney expected the altercation would last, at most, two weeks and he and his deputies would soon be back home. Instead, the pipeline’s contested river crossing would draw waves of protesters from around the nation, including hundreds of tribes, attracting worldwide attention.

    • Pipeline under consideration: Largest since DAPL
    • DAPL cases dropped by state in record numbers

      Officially, 761 people were arrested during the months-long opposition to the 1,172-mile Dakota Access Pipeline, and already 114 cases have been dismissed by the state. Eleven people received guilty verdicts; 50 pled guilty – primarily on lesser charges, and three have been acquitted.

      [...]

      Another reason the state is dropping cases en masse is because of evidence the camps were infiltrated by TigerSwan operatives, who were on a mission to “find, fix, and eliminate” pipeline opposition, according to Nastacio’s lawyers.

    • Trump Denies Declaring Disaster In N.D. Following DAPL Protests

      The Trump administration rejected North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum’s request for a “major disaster declaration” to help cover some of the estimated $38 million cost to police protests of the Dakota Access pipeline, a spokesman for the Republican governor said Thursday.

    • More oil coming for Dakota Access pipeline

      American Midstream Partners, LP, has been seeking additional oil to transport in its Bakken Pipeline system, which is to connect to Dakota Access in McKenzie County near Watford City. The open season began June 26 and will end July 17.

    • In Victory for Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, Court Finds that Approval of Dakota Access Pipeline Violated the Law

      A federal judge ruled that the federal permits authorizing the pipeline to cross the Missouri River just upstream of the Standing Rock reservation, which were hastily issued by the Trump administration just days after the inauguration, violated the law in certain critical respects.

  • Security

    • Hackers accidentally create network busting malware

      The malware is a variant of the Mirai botnet. Mirai infected internet-connected security cameras and coordinated them to repeatedly access the same server at the same time. The traffic would overwhelm the targeted server with requests and knock it offline. That type of attack is known as a distributed denial of service (DDoS).

    • Mirai Goes Open-Source and Morphs into Persirai [Ed: Sure, sure... make it sound like an "open source" issue...]

      The Mirai malware has become notorious for recruiting Internet of Things devices to form botnets that have launched some of the largest distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks recorded to date. Mirai came onto the scene in late 2016 as the malware behind very large DDoS attacks, including a 650 Mbps attack on the Krebs on Security site. It’s also purported to have been the basis of the attack in October 2016 that brought down sites including Twitter, Netflix, Airbnb and many others. Since then, Mirai has morphed into an even more aggressive and effective botnet tool.

      When the research team at Imperva accessed the Incapsula logs after the Krebs attacks last fall, they found that, indeed, the Mirai botnet had been active well before the notorious September attack. Imperva discovered a botnet of nearly 50,000 Mirai-infected devices spread throughout 164 countries, with the top-infected countries identified as Vietnam, Brazil and the United States. But even before Mirai became public, the Imperva team saw vulnerable IoT devices as a problem in the making.

    • Microsoft refuses to fix 20-year-old SMB zero-day

      A 20-year-old flaw in the server message block protocol used in Windows has been uncovered by two researchers who presented the details of their finding at last week’s DEFCON security conference in Las Vegas.

    • Swedish Cabinet reshuffled in wake of IT security row

      IT scandal turns into political crisis for Swedish government following outsourcing of Swedish Transport Agency contract

      It’s not often that an IT security breach leads to the departure of two government ministers. But that is just what has happened in Sweden in the aftermath of a series of disclosures about a data breach and an outsourced IT contract.

  • Defence/Aggression

    • Why not a Commission to probe the Genocide in Kashmir during 1989-90?

      Very unfortunately, the Supreme Court on Monday dismissed a PIL filed by an NGO seeking an order to investigate and prosecute various people for a clutch of offences including the massacre of over 700 Kashmiri Pandits between 1989 and 1990, saying it was too late.

    • How ISIS pushed me to make a video claiming responsibility for a terrorist attack
    • Hamburg attacker who killed one and injured six is ‘known Islamist’ with psychological problems
    • From ‘never aggressive’ asylum seeker to Hamburg knife attacker

      But in recent weeks, he “had a crisis, he bought Islamist clothes and read the Koran very loudly in his room,” added the 31-year-old Syrian refugee.

    • Survivors of 9/11 attack urge Theresa May to release Saudi Arabia terror report she suppressed

      Survivors of the 9/11 attacks have written to Prime Minister Theresa May – urging her to make public a British government report into the extent of Saudi Arabia’s funding of Islamist extremism in the UK.

    • To the Government, Saudi Arabia is ‘The Kingdom Whose Name We Dare Not Speak At All’

      Theresa May’s attitude towards Saudi Arabia is to ignore the issues and claim – no matter how vague and illogical – that it’s to protect ‘national security’

    • Kushner and Bannon Team Up to Privatize the War in Afghanistan

      At the meeting (which neither Prince and Feinberg would confirm), they urged the Pentagon to turn the war over to what they call “private military units” who would fight for profit as an alternative to the Pentagon’s recent proposal to send thousands more US military troops to Afghanistan to fight the Taliban.

    • Trump Aides Recruited Businessmen to Devise Options for Afghanistan

      Erik D. Prince, a founder of the private security firm Blackwater Worldwide, and Stephen A. Feinberg, a billionaire financier who owns the giant military contractor DynCorp International, have developed proposals to rely on contractors instead of American troops in Afghanistan at the behest of Stephen K. Bannon, Mr. Trump’s chief strategist, and Jared Kushner, his senior adviser and son-in-law, according to people briefed on the conversations.

    • Afghan Fashion Magazine ‘Gellara’ Dares to Challenge the Culture’s Traditional Dress
    • Trump Intel Chief: North Korea Learned From Libya War to “Never” Give Up Nukes

      The media is now filled with headlines about North Korea’s missile test on Friday, which demonstrated that its ICBMs may be able to reach the continental U.S. What isn’t mentioned in any of these stories is how we got to this point — in particular, what Dan Coats, President Donald Trump’s Director of National Security, explained last week at the Aspen Security Forum.

      North Korea’s 33-year-old dictator Kim Jong-un is not crazy, said Coats. In fact, he has “some rationale backing his actions” regarding the country’s nuclear weapons. That rationale is the way the U.S. has demonstrated that North Korea must keep them to ensure “survival for his regime, survival for his country.”

      Kim, according to Coats, “has watched, I think, what has happened around the world relative to nations that possess nuclear capabilities and the leverage they have and seen that having the nuclear card in your pocket results in a lot of deterrence capability.” In particular, “The lessons that we learned out of Libya giving up its nukes … is, unfortunately: If you had nukes, never give them up. If you don’t have them, get them.”

    • McCain’s Brain Cancer Draws Renewed Attention to Possible Agent Orange Connection

      When Amy Jones’ dad, Paul, was diagnosed with glioblastoma last month, she wondered whether it might be tied to his time in Vietnam.

      Then, last week, when Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., also a Vietnam veteran, was diagnosed with the same aggressive brain cancer, Jones searched online for glioblastoma and Vietnam vets.

      She soon learned the disease is one of a growing list of ailments that some Vietnam veterans and their relatives believe is caused by exposure to Agent Orange, the toxic herbicide sprayed during the war.

      “Honestly, it’s not easy to even admit that this is happening, let alone to even talk about it,” said Jones, whose 68-year-old father has had surgery to remove a brain tumor and now is receiving radiation treatments. “It’s only been six weeks. It’s such a devastating diagnosis.”

    • New Film Shows the Brutality of Duterte’s Murderous Drug War in the Philippines

      President Donald Trump attracted bipartisan criticism in April for enthusiastically endorsing one of the world’s most brazen human rights catastrophes: Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s murderous anti-drug campaign. Since Duterte took office last June, police and vigilante death squads have killed more than 7,000 people, and devastated poor in communities in cities across the country.

      Now, a new film shows the human toll of Duterte’s campaign. “Duterte’s Hell,” by Aaron Goodman and Luis Liwanag and produced with the documentary unit Field of Vision, shows graphic images of Philippine police examining and carting off dead bodies, and grieving communities struggling to cope with the government-sanctioned murders.

      In 2016, Duterte campaigned on a policy of mass extermination for anyone involved in the drug trade — not only drug traffickers, but addicts as well. “Hitler massacred three million Jews,” Duterte said in September. “Now there is three million drug addicts. I’d be happy to slaughter them.”

      In April, Trump stunned observers of the crisis by placing what his aides described as a “very friendly” call to Duterte, inviting the Philipine president to the White House. Weeks later, The Intercept, in partnership with the Philipine news site Rappler, obtained and published a transcript of that call, showing that Trump heaping praise on the drug campaign. “I am hearing of the unbelievable job on the drug problem,” he told Duterte.

    • Collateral Damage: U.S. Sanctions Aimed at Russia Strike Western European Allies

      Do they know what they are doing? When the U.S. Congress adopts draconian sanctions aimed mainly at disempowering President Trump and ruling out any move to improve relations with Russia, do they realize that the measures amount to a declaration of economic war against their dear European “friends”?

      Whether they know or not, they obviously don’t care. U.S. politicians view the rest of the world as America’s hinterland, to be exploited, abused and ignored with impunity.

      The Bill H.R. 3364 “Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act” was adopted on July 25 by all but three members of the House of Representatives. An earlier version was adopted by all but two Senators. Final passage at veto-overturning proportions is a certainty.

      This congressional temper tantrum flails in all directions. The main casualties are likely to be America’s dear beloved European allies, notably Germany and France. Who also sometimes happen to be competitors, but such crass considerations don’t matter in the sacred halls of the U.S. Congress, totally devoted to upholding universal morality.

    • How Obama Fell into the Syrian Trap

      Last week, a Trump administration official decided to inform the news media that the CIA program to arm and train anti-Assad Syrian forces had been terminated. It was welcome news amid a deepening U.S. military commitment reflecting the intention to remain in the country for years to come.

    • We Need a Broad-Based Movement to Stop Killing at Home and Across the Globe

      The $600 billion annual cost of the US military budget eats up 54% of all federal discretionary funds. It’s no wonder we don’t have money to address the crisis of global warming, build effective public transportation systems, institute a Medicare-for-All health system, or provide the free college education that all our youth deserve.

      You would think it would be easy to form a united front with activists from different movements who want to redirect our tax dollars. Students fighting for free education should understand that stopping just one weapons system, the expensive and unnecessary Lockheed Martin F-35 fighter jets, would fund the education of all college students for the next two decades. Nurses fighting for universal health care should understand that if we cut the bloated military budget, we’d have plenty of money for a national health care system like the Europeans have. Environmentalists paddling their kayaks to block oil-digging ships should understand that if we dramatically cut our military spending, we’d have hundreds of billions of dollars to propel us into the era of green, sustainable energy. Unions should recognize that the military is one of the worst creators of jobs in relation to money spent.

    • Kaboom! Russian Drone With Thermite Grenade Blows Up a Billion Dollars of Ukrainian Ammo

      A drone carrying a grenade infiltrated an ammunition dump in Ukraine, setting off an explosion that caused an astounding billion dollars worth of damage. The incident points to the growing use of drones in wartime, particularly off the shelf civilian products harnessed to conduct sabotage and other attacks.

    • For Pakistan, a grim reminder from Sri Lanka: China gives loan, then grabs land

      Experts have warned CPEC is China’s colonial ploy to create a permanent foothold in Pakistan. A good illustration is the deal Sri Lanka has signed with China today.

    • Police use plastic barrier to foil possible terror attack

      The man, who was walking through Melilla, Spain’s border crossing to Morocco, continually shouted the phrase and managed to wound one agent, who received a cut to his finger.

    • High Court blocks bid to prosecute Tony Blair over Iraq War

      The High Court has blocked a bid by a former chief of staff of the Iraqi army to bring a private prosecution against Tony Blair over the Iraq War.

      General Abdul Wahed Shannan Al Rabbat has accused Mr Blair of committing a “crime of aggression” by invading Iraq in 2003 to overthrow Saddam Hussein.

      Lord Thomas of Cwmgiedd, the Lord Chief Justice, and Mr Justice Ouseley dismissed the general’s application, saying there was “no prospect” of the case succeeding.

    • Media Mourn End of CIA Killing Syrians and Strengthening Al Qaeda

      The US government has finally announced an end to its years-long program to arm and train Syrian rebels. The initiative, one of the CIA’s largest covert operations, with billions of dollars of funding, fueled mass killing in Syria and significantly prolonged the country’s horrific war. Widely respected experts have also acknowledged that it greatly strengthened murderous extremist groups like ISIS and Al Qaeda.

      If one only read corporate media reporting, however, you would likely think that the termination of the CIA program was an abject tragedy. Spin doctors at major news outlets depicted the Trump administration’s decision as variously a spineless concession to the evil Russian puppet master and/or a wretched abandonment of a supposedly noble US commitment to “freedom and democracy.”

    • Donald the Destroyer: Assessing the Trump Effect

      So, we’ve officially gone from The West Wing to Animal House. To the regret of Democrats and liberals, Donald Trump cuts a presidential image far removed from the Sorkinite Aristotelian Quaalude (h/t Emmet Penney) of a Jed Bartlett in the Oval Office. To the chagrin of Republicans and corporate conservatives, his demeanor increasingly resembles the adolescent antics of a Bluto punching it out ringside at the WWF. Politicians and commentators from both sides of the narrow aisle are all shocked and saddened at the ongoing insult to American “presidentialness.”

      In a recent irruption of his self-sabotaging panglossia, Trump has given a bizarre interview to the New York Times in which, among other gems: 1) He warned the Special Counsel to stay away from his businesses. 2) He stated that health insurance costs $12 a year. 3) He taught his interviewers that the head of the FBI does not report to the Attorney General. And 4) In a series of blurts that I find particularly bizarre and telling, he repeatedly emphasized that French President Emmanuel Macron is a “strong” guy who “loves holding my hand… people don’t realize he loves holding my hand…He’s a very good person. And a tough guy…but he does love holding my hand.” As the man with the cigar might say, textbook symptomatic utterance. (It’s such a feeling…I can’t hide. I can’t hide. I can’t hide.)

    • Even Fake Law Enforcement Agencies Can Get Weapons of War for ‘Policing’

      The GAO was able to acquire $1.2 million in weapons from the Pentagon posing as a fake law enforcement agency.

      It appears all law enforcement — even a “fictitious federal agency” — can get federally supplied weapons of war, with quite literally, no questions asked.

      We learned this a few days ago when the Government Accountability Office (GAO) issued a troubling assessment of the Department of Defense 1033 program. The 1033 program gives federal, state, and local law enforcement surplus military weapons and equipment for use in routine policing. The 1033 program is the poster-child of federal programs responsible for the militarization of U.S. police.

      GAO indicated that the Defense Department does not verify the identification of individuals picking up military weapons through 1033. And GAO found that the Pentagon does not verify the quantity of military weapons transferred through 1033. GAO said Defense “lacks reasonable assurance that it has the ability to prevent, detect, and respond to potential fraud and minimize associated security risks.”

      And just how did GAO reach this conclusion? GAO posed as a fake federal law enforcement agency and secured military weapons through 1033. They sought $1.2 million worth of rifles, pipe bomb equipment, and night vision googles. And they got them. “It was like getting stuff off of eBay,” according to GAO staff.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • An Interview with WikiLeaks’ Assange

      Julian Assange: Interestingly, we didn’t intend to specifically publish Kent State documents. It was part of our large archive of cable documents from the 1970s called “The Kissinger Cables.” Often when you take the internal communications of the State Department or another powerful organization, it tends to touch on nearly everything. And the public’s ability to spot relevant connections in your material often greatly outstrips your own.

      I am always extremely irritated with journalists who sit upon hordes of historical treasure detailing how our institutions actually behave. The public’s ability to take this information and connect it to their own personal histories, using it in litigation and political campaigns, is actually much greater than the rather narrow character of any particular journalist or editor, including myself.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

  • Finance

    • The hidden extra costs of living with a disability

      Disability is often incorrectly assumed to be rare. However, global estimates suggest than one in seven adults has some form of disability.

      The term “disability” covers a number of functional limitations – physical, sensory, mental and intellectual. These can range from mild to severe and might affect someone at any time across the lifespan, from an infant born with an intellectual impairment to an older adult who becomes unable to walk or see.

    • Huge rise in average income inequality between south-east England and rest of the UK, study finds

      The Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) also identified weak earnings growth – with employment income in 2015-16 lower than its pre-recession levels – as “the primary reason for the malaise in living standards” in the UK.

    • Now we find out the real cost of austerity – our lives cut short
    • Being American almost an embarrassment: JP Morgan CEO Jamie Dimon

      “We have become one of the most bureaucratic, confusing litigious societies,” he said. “It would be much stronger growth had we made intelligent decisions to end that gridlock.”

    • The great Brexit brain drain

      A large question mark hangs over Britain’s university sector. Academics, researchers and students from the European Union who have chosen to make their careers in the United Kingdom say they feel unsure about their future in the wake of last year’s Brexit vote: should they remain at some of the world’s leading educational institutions or move abroad to centers that may not enjoy the same recognition, but whose governments are more welcoming.

      Meanwhile, these institutions, which contribute a respectable 2.8% to the UK’s GDP, have been joining forces to pressure Downing Street in the hope of reducing the impact of divorce with the EU as much as possible. But the consequences will be felt: the number of people applying to UK universities from abroad has already fallen, while 47% of EU citizens resident in Britain are considering leaving, according to a recent survey by Deloitte LLP.

    • Brexit, Dunkirk and a Britain where the past shapes the future

      The European project was the future – progress, and liberation from old-fashioned British ways, from incompetent management (the same class who had proven their uselessness at Dunkirk), from sectional trade union leaders and shop stewards. Europe would save us from ourselves.

      Behr says that this national mood produced a certain pathology: a ‘demoralised entry… tangled up with subconscious feelings of shame.’ Brexit isn’t a calm, reflective, cost-benefit vote for change and self-government, but ‘self-harm, born of a neurotic urge to expiate on imaginary guilt; the sin of having been obliged to join the enterprise in the first place.’

      This seems without getting too Freudian in our metaphors an acute reading, and with all this hurt, suppressed emotions and open wounds about, it certainly makes it much less likely Brexit will work out well, and much more likely it will be an almighty and painful mess.

    • World’s Richest Person Escapes Scrutiny From His Own Paper—and Its Rivals

      The three most prominent US newspapers haven’t run a critical investigative piece on Jeff Bezos’ company Amazon in almost two years, a FAIR survey finds.

      A review of 190 articles from the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and the Bezos-owned Washington Post over the past year paints a picture of almost uniformly uncritical–ofttimes boosterish–coverage. None of the articles were investigative exposes, 6 percent leaned negative, 54 percent were straight reporting or neutral in tone, and 40 percent were positive, mostly with a fawning or even press release–like tone.

    • Brexit border chaos will cause huge delays and cost £1bn a year, says report
    • Being rich wrecks your soul. We used to know that.

      With a billionaire real estate tycoon occupying America’s highest office, the effects of riches upon the soul are a reasonable concern for all of us little guys. After all, one incredibly wealthy soul currently holds our country in his hands. According to an apocryphal exchange between F. Scott Fitzgerald and Ernest Hemingway, the only difference between the rich and the rest of us is that they have more money. But is that the only difference?

    • Chicagoans say ‘Yes In My Backyard’ to affordable housing

      Andrea Mitchell knows a dog whistle when she hears one. In the ongoing struggle against housing segregation, they come in the form of chants of “No Section 8.” The fear of a voucher holder’s “miscreant cousin, nephew, brother, son” doing damage in the community. Calls for the children of low-income housing applicants to be screened for criminal records, to rapt applause.

      For Mitchell, a homeowner in the almost-suburban, majority-white Jefferson Park neighborhood in Chicago, those dog whistles were heard in early February at a neighborhood meeting regarding the proposed construction of a low-income housing development at 5150 N. Northwest Highway, and she decided she had to do something about it.

      “I just didn’t want the rest of the city to see that and think that’s what my neighborhood is like,” Mitchell said. “I thought to myself, there should be another voice — we’re homeowners, too.”

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Liberals, cut your cable cords

      Liberals keep Rupert Murdoch rich by paying their bundled cable bills. Every month, local cable providers remit a portion of their bill to Fox News, a portion to MSNBC, and a portion to each of the other channels in any package. How much time is spent viewing any particular channel is meaningless. Thanks to cable industry practice, every channel gets paid no matter whether it’s viewed or not. And, according to Variety, Fox News makes $1.55 per subscriber while MSNBC makes only 26 cents.

    • Secret donations are helping to boost President Trump’s agenda, fights with investigators

      Groups spending millions in anonymous donations are leading the outside efforts to either defend President Trump or sell his agenda with voters and Congress, despite the president’s repeated calls to “drain the swamp” in Washington of special-interest money.

    • Can Trump Find the ‘Great’ Path?

      But do I think any of this will happen? Not really. Far more likely, the Trump presidency will remain mired in its “reality-TV” squabbles with the sort of coarse language that would normally be bleeped out of network TV; the Democrats will continue substituting the Russia-gate blame-game for any serious soul-searching; the Republicans will press on with more tax cuts for the rich; and the Great American Experiment with Democracy will continue to flounder into chaos.

    • GOP Operative Calls Trump’s White House a ‘Snake Pit’

      Following a tumultuous week in which newly appointed White House Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci attacked President Donald Trump’s inner circle — which led to White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus being ousted — GOP operatives are fearful that the chaos will never end.

      One longtime GOP operative surveying the past week’s damage put it succinctly: “The White House is a snake pit.”

      According to The Hill, Mac Stipanovich, a veteran GOP operative in Florida with ties to the Bush family, noted Jeb Bush’s comment during last year’s presidential primary that Trump would be “the chaos president.”

      “I think that is absolutely the case. It’s not even a matter of interpretation,” Stipanovich told The Hill. “We don’t have any effective government, we don’t have any effective leadership and the White House is a snake-pit.”

    • When Reality Exceeds Satire

      The whole Washington scene resembles an adult version of a zombie apocalypse.

    • Forget Breitbart: The White House Has a New Favorite Right-Wing Media Outlet

      Fox News has such an influence on Donald Trump that US journalists now react to the president’s proclamations on Twitter by searching for the Fox and Friends segment that inspired them.

      This intimate feedback loop between the Fox morning show and the president has made it “the most powerful TV show in America”, in the words of a New York Times critic. For Rupert Murdoch, a ruthless player in conservative politics across continents, such influence is striking. But it’s not new.

    • Lessons from JFK in a time of Trump

      In the last week of July, 54 years ago, President John F. Kennedy initialed the Partial Nuclear Test Ban Treaty with his counterpart, Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev. Kennedy spoke to the nation in a remarkable address, which reminds us of his gifts of vision and eloquence; of the obligation and wisdom to pursue peace even in the most unlikely circumstances; and of the world’s clear and present danger with President Trump, who manifests the opposite of Kennedy’s moral vision and steady hand.

      A little over a half century ago, the world stood at the brink of nuclear war. The United States and Soviet Union came to the edge of conflict on three occasions in less than two years, during 1961 and 1962, in Berlin, Laos, and Cuba. In his speech, Kennedy describes in harrowing terms how thermonuclear war could end the human race or (as Khrushchev had put it) leave the survivors envying the dead.

    • Canada: Flexing Military Might is Capitulation to Trump, Despite Liberal Spin

      Even after The Economist magazine ran an article headlined “Tony Blair is not a poodle,” the British prime minister was unable to shake the slur of being George W. Bush’s loyal lapdog for supporting his invasion of Iraq.

      So there must be a huge sigh of relief inside our own Prime Minister’s Office these days, now that fears seem to have passed that Justin Trudeau could end up similarly branded a poodle — with the leash held by the current U.S. president.

      Certainly, the Trudeau government’s announcement last month that it would dramatically increase Canada’s military spending — as Donald Trump has loudly demanded — was risky, given the distaste Canadians have for big military budgets and for prime ministers who cave in to U.S. presidents.

    • ‘The President Is a Pyromaniac’: The Week Trump Set (Metaphorical) Fire to the White House

      Donald Trump began the week by turning a national scout jamboree into something resembling a youth rally. He ended it in front of more massed ranks in uniform, telling police officers “please don’t be too nice” to suspects they arrest in what sounded to many like an endorsement of police brutality.And then, amid a blizzard of stories about White House infighting, chief of staff Reince Priebus resigned, becoming the shortest-serving occupant of the post in history. Though he seemed blithely unaware of it, it was a fitting finale to the worst week of Trump’s short political career.

    • Trump v. Sessions: Who Do You Root For? The Truth

      I never thought we’d all live this long. My assumption after November was that Donald Trump would have figured out a way by now to blow the mantle off the planet and scatter our collective component elements into the farthest reaches of space. As we are somehow still here, let’s take a moment to enjoy the ridiculous steel cage match unfolding between Trump and his attorney general, Jeff Sessions. There is so much wrong baked into this situation, so much error and ego and straight-up birdbrained ignorance, that we’re left with a simple question.

    • The Past 5 GOP Presidents Have Used Fraud and Treason to Steer Themselves to Electoral Victory

      People are wondering out loud about the parallels between today’s Republican Party and organized crime, and whether “Teflon Don” Trump will remain unscathed through his many scandals, ranging from interactions with foreign oligarchs to killing tens of thousands of Americans by denying them healthcare to stepping up the destruction of our environment and public lands.

      History suggests – even if treason can be demonstrated – that, as long as he holds onto the Republican Party (and Fox News), he’ll survive it intact. And he won’t be the first Republican president to commit high crimes to get and stay in office.

      In fact, Eisenhower was the last legitimately elected Republican president we’ve had in this country.

    • Border Agency Set to Jumpstart Trump’s Wall in a Texas Wildlife Refuge

      U.S. Customs and Border Protection will begin constructing the first segment of President Trump’s border wall in November through a national wildlife refuge, using money it’s already received from Congress.

      That’s what a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service official recently told a nonprofit group that raises money to support two national wildlife refuges in South Texas, according to the group’s vice president.

      “I was alarmed,” said Jim Chapman of Friends of the Wildlife Corridor. “It was not good news.”

      For the past six months, CBP has been quietly preparing a site to build a nearly 3-mile border barrier through the Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge, according to The Texas Observer. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers also has reportedly begun drilling and soil testing in California and New Mexico.

    • The Dance of Death

      The ruling corporate elites no longer seek to build. They seek to destroy. They are agents of death. They crave the unimpeded power to cannibalize the country and pollute and degrade the ecosystem to feed an insatiable lust for wealth, power and hedonism. Wars and military “virtues” are celebrated. Intelligence, empathy and the common good are banished. Culture is degraded to patriotic kitsch. Education is designed only to instill technical proficiency to serve the poisonous engine of corporate capitalism. Historical amnesia shuts us off from the past, the present and the future. Those branded as unproductive or redundant are discarded and left to struggle in poverty or locked away in cages. State repression is indiscriminate and brutal. And, presiding over the tawdry Grand Guignol is a deranged ringmaster tweeting absurdities from the White House.

      The graveyard of world empires—Sumerian, Egyptian, Greek, Roman, Mayan, Khmer, Ottoman and Austro-Hungarian—followed the same trajectory of moral and physical collapse. Those who rule at the end of empire are psychopaths, imbeciles, narcissists and deviants, the equivalents of the depraved Roman emperors Caligula, Nero, Tiberius and Commodus. The ecosystem that sustains the empire is degraded and exhausted. Economic growth, concentrated in the hands of corrupt elites, is dependent on a crippling debt peonage imposed on the population. The bloated ruling class of oligarchs, priests, courtiers, mandarins, eunuchs, professional warriors, financial speculators and corporate managers sucks the marrow out of society.

    • The real clash of civilisations

      Six months into the Presidency of Donald J. Trump, two speeches can serve as bookends to aid our understanding of what has been a tumultuous and deeply worrying time—his Inaugural address and his speech in Poland on July 6 2017. What stand out from these two speeches are the images of “American carnage” from his opening statement to the nation, and the ominous warning he issued in Warsaw of a ‘clash of civilisations’—along with the corresponding need to act decisively to save ‘Western values.’

      “The fundamental question of our time,” Trump warned in Poland, “is whether the West has the will to survive. Do we have the confidence in our values to defend them at any cost?” Although the spectre of communism no longer haunts Europe, he continued, another existential threat has emerged. “We are confronted by another oppressive ideology—one that seeks to export terrorism and extremism all around the globe.”

      Poland is a fitting setting in which to speak about the dangers of a ‘clash of civilisations,’ since no other country has experienced the horrors of human cruelty so brutally. The country was targeted by Hitler for mass annihilation, with only a remnant of its people to be preserved to act as slave labour for the Third Reich. It was occupied by the Soviet Union and brutally cleansed in waves of executions to remove those whom Stalin deemed a threat to ‘Soviet values.’ And it was chosen by Hitler as the site of the largest factories of mass murder in history: Chelmo, Belzec, Sobibor, Treblinka, Majdenek and Auschwitz.

    • Hacked Emails Show UAE Building Close Relationship With D.C. Think Tanks That Push Its Agenda

      The United Arab Emirates has one of the most repressive governments in the world. The Gulf dictatorship brutally cracks down on internal dissent and enables abusive conditions for its massive migrant labor force. It also plays a key role in the bloody war in Yemen, running a network of torture prisons in the “liberated” parts of the country.

      That makes it all the more shocking that the UAE is so rarely criticized by leading U.S. think tanks, who not only ignore the Gulf dictatorship’s repression, but give a privileged platform to its ambassador, Yousef Al-Otaiba. Otaiba is a deeply influential voice in U.S. foreign policy circles, and is known in Washington for using his pocketbook to recruit allies.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • Malaysia accused of bowing to Islamists with book ban

      The ban comes at a time when questions are raised over the reach of Malaysia’s Islamic authorities and its impact on government bureaucracy, and whether the voices of moderate Muslims are being cast aside and replaced by those with deeply conservative views.

    • International Conference on Freedom of Conscience and Expression in the 21st Century

      The two-day conference will highlight the voices of people on the frontlines of resistance — many of them persecuted and exiled – as well as address challenges faced by activists and freethinkers, elaborate on the links between democratic politics and free expression and conscience, promote secular and rights-based alternatives, and establish priorities for collective action. Art and culture will be integral to the event as will lively debate with the dauntless use of the free word.

    • ‘World’s most famous atheist’ booted from Berkeley because of his ‘hurtful speech’ on Islam

      Richard Dawkins’ biggest critics used to be conservative Christians. Now they’re Berkeley progressives who defend anything and everything Islamic.

    • Richard Dawkins Event in Berkeley Canceled Due To His “Abusive,” “Hurtful” Words

      The world’s most famous atheist criticized Islam and upset people… so he can’t give a talk about science? It’s a ridiculous reason that gets even more absurd when you consider the source.

    • Let’s put the ‘mattress girl’ case to bed

      Many are saying that with the settlement of the lawsuit, justice has been done. But in fact, this case highlights the sorry state of justice in these campus cases. On the one hand, you have a young woman who accuses another student of a serious crime and who feels the only way she can achieve a resolution is by harassing him through artwork. On the other is a student who has been exonerated of said serious crime, and who rightly expects to be able to move on with his life. Whatever actually happened on the night, the use of this case to make broad statements about the justice system has made it harder for either side to achieve anything resembling justice.

    • Apple removes VPN apps used to evade China’s internet censorship
    • Apple removes apps used to bypass Chinese censors
    • Apple removes apps from China store that help evade censorship
    • Apple bows to Chinese laws again, removes VPN apps

      Apple has confirmed that it removed a number of VPN apps from the mainland China version of its App Store because they contravene a recent law issued by China that bans the use of private VPNs.

    • Federal Court: Public Officials Cannot Block Social Media Users Because of Their Criticism

      That question has hung over the White House ever since Donald Trump assumed the presidency and continued to block users on Twitter. The Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University has sued the president on behalf of blocked users, spurring a lively academic debate on the topic. But Trump isn’t the only politician who has blocked people on social media. This week, a federal court weighed in on the question in a case with obvious parallels to Trump’s. It determined that the First Amendment’s Free Speech Clause does indeed prohibit officeholders from blocking social media users on the basis of their views.

    • Pakistani Christian boy, 16, charged with blasphemy for discussing his faith

      A 16-year-old Pakistani Christian boy has been charged with blasphemy for talking with a colleague about his belief in Jesus, the second such incident in a month.

    • Christian teenager in Pakistan arrested for alleged blasphemy

      For Wilson Chowdhry, chairman of the British Pakistani Christian Association, the arrest of the Christian boy is a source of sorrow. He lamented that the draconian blasphemy laws were being used as a tool for discrimination and forcible conversion every day while the world stood silent. “This poor boy will now face a most daunting court case and will lose most of his life in prison; moreover, in the current climate a sentence could lead to his death via judicial or extrajudicial process,” Chowdhry said.

    • Pakistan: 16-year-old Christian Boy Arrested For Alleged Blasphemy

      Shahzad Masih, who worked as a sweeper at the Shahmim Riaz hospital in Dinga city in Punjab Province’s Gujrat district, was accused of insulting the prophet Muhammad by a member of Tehreek-e-Tuhafaz, an Islamist extremist party. Since his arrest on July 14, his family has not been able to see him and police have denied holding the boy.

    • Humanists call on Saudi Arabia to release man sentenced to death for atheism

      US-based organizations the American Humanist Association (AHA), the Center for Inquiry (CFI), and the Secular Coalition of America (SCA), along with the International Humanist and Ethical Union (IHEU) have petitioned the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s to release Ahmad Al-Shamri, who was sentenced to death earlier this year having been accused of blasphemy and apostasy.

    • Salman Taseer’s granddaughter raises funds to support family of imprisoned Aasia Bibi

      The granddaughter of slain Punjab Governor Salman Taseer is collecting funds for the family of the jailed Aasia Bibi, the woman accused of blasphemy Salman Taseer defended and was murdered over by his own security guard, the infamous Mumtaz Qadri.

    • In China, internet censors are accidentally helping revive an invented “Martian” language

      When Chinese social media users on microblog Weibo came across an almost illegible post earlier this month, many of them would have instantly recognized it as “Martian,” a coded language based on Chinese characters that was very popular many years ago.

      It was a version of a post by a prominent retired sociologist and sex adviser, Li Yinhe, in which she called for the elimination of censorship in China. The original post went viral on Weibo, which is similar to Twitter and has some 340 million monthly active users. More than 60,000 users (link in Chinese) shared the post—unsurprisingly, it was soon deleted.

    • Police censorship: A free press is the lifeblood of Israeli democracy

      No coherent explanation has been given by the police for the way journalists have been treated.

      [...]

      Sinan Abu Maizer, a cameraman with Reuters, suffered a concussion after being beaten by police with a baton near Lions’ Gate a week ago Thursday, according to a complaint addressed to Jerusalem District Police commander Yoram Halevy by the Association for Human Rights. The incident is captured on video.

      In another incident, Faiz Abu Rmeleh, a freelance journalist and a member of the photojournalism group ActiveStills, was arrested Tuesday night while covering clashes at Lions’ Gate. A video seems to contradict police charges that Abu Rmeleh was aggressive. Following Abu Rmeleh’s arrest, the Union of Journalists in Israel published a statement calling on the police to provide clarifications and explanations.

    • Google’s chief search engineer legitimizes new censorship algorithm

      Between April and June, Google completed a major revision of its search engine that sharply curtails public access to Internet web sites that operate independently of the corporate and state-controlled media. Since the implementation of the changes, many left wing, anti-war and progressive web sites have experienced a sharp fall in traffic generated by Google searches. The World Socialist Web Site has seen, within just one month, a 70 percent drop in traffic from Google.

    • NSA whistleblower Snowden: VPN ban makes Russia ‘less safe and less free’
    • Edward Snowden: Russian crackdown on web freedom is ‘violation of human rights’
    • How Threats Against Domain Names Are Used to Censor Content
  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • EFF Supports Senate Email and Location Privacy Bill

      EFF applauds Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) and Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) for today introducing the ECPA Modernization Act of 2017 to protect user privacy in cloud content and geolocation information. As part of a congressional effort to reform the Electronic Communications Privacy Act, the Senate bill complements the Email Privacy Act (H.R. 387), which the House passed in February 2017 by voice vote—the second time the House has passed this legislation with overwhelming bipartisan support.

      EFF supports these bills and urges Congress to enact ECPA reform legislation this year.

    • Crossing the U.S. Border? Here’s How to Securely Wipe Your Computer

      Many people crossing the U.S. border are concerned about the amount of power that the government has asserted to search and examine travelers’ possessions, including searching through or copying contents of digital devices, like photos, emails, and browsing history. The frequency of these intrusive practices has been increasing over time.

      Some travelers might choose to delete everything on a particular device or disk to ensure that border agents can’t access its contents, no matter what. Our 2017 guide for travelers addressed this option, but did not give detailed advice on how to do it, because we think most travelers won’t consider it their best option. Before embarking on wiping your computers, please read our guide to understand your legal rights at the U.S. border.

      We don’t recommend disk wiping as a border crossing security measure for most travelers. It’s a less common data protection technique than the other ones highlighted in our guide, which include encryption and minimizing data that you carry. Wiping your computer will make it unusable to you. Also, it may draw the attention of border agents, since it is unusual for travelers to carry blank devices with them. This may be of particular concern to travelers who are not U.S. citizens, who may receive more scrutiny from border agents. Again, you should consider your risks and security needs carefully before deciding how best to secure your data for border crossings as everyone’s individual risk factors and data security needs are different.

      Now that you’ve been sufficiently cautioned, let’s look closely at wiping your computers.

    • Russian censorship law bans proxies and VPNs

      It’s going to be much harder to view the full web in Russia before the year is out. President Putin has signed a law that, as of November 1st, bans technology which lets you access banned websites, including virtual private networks and proxies. Internet providers will have to block websites hosting these tools. The measure is ostensibly meant to curb extremist content, but that’s just pretext — this is really about preventing Russians from seeing content that might be critical of Putin, not to mention communicating in secret.

    • Ex-NSA insider suspected to be link to Shadow Brokers

      The US government is trying to trace the identities behind the group called Shadow Brokers which dumped a number of NSA Windows exploits on the Web in April, some of which were used in the last two global ransomware attacks.

      A report in Cyberscoop said the counter-intelligence investigation had made contact with a number of ex-NSA employees to try and find out how these tools came into the possession of the Shadow Brokers.

    • Palantir: the ‘special ops’ tech giant that wields as much real-world power as Google
  • Civil Rights/Policing

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • Throttling on Mobile Networks Is a Sign of Things to Come, Unless We Save Net Neutrality Now

      Major mobile carriers are slowing down video streams, a net neutrality violation that heralds things to come if they get their way and roll back legal protections against data discrimination.

      Recent reports on Reddit from Verizon Wireless customers have drawn attention to video streams being throttled, which Verizon claimed were caused by a temporary test of a new video “optimization” system. If that sounds familiar, it’s because it’s not the first time a carrier has throttled certain content sources while claiming to optimize them.

      We’ve previously reported on how T-Mobile tried to pass off throttling as optimization with their Binge On “feature.” T-Mobile’s Binge On has evolved since we last wrote about it, but hasn’t abandoned throttling: it now throttles video for customers on their unlimited plan, and charges them extra to not be throttled, which is also against the principles of net neutrality.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Copyrights

      • France: 13 million in damages awarded for linking to downloadable copyright works

        In this case, the total amounted to 13 millions euros, and followed a prison sentence of one year awarded by the Paris Criminal Court. (Paris Court of Appeal, Pol 5, Ch 13, 7 June 2017, D.M. v APP, Microsoft, Sacem and others, available in French language here; Paris Criminal Court of First Instance, 2 April 2015 [unreported]).

        This 13-million liability (and prison sentence) fell on the owner and manager of the website “wawa-mania.eu”. Wawa-mania.eu offered a forum platform allowing members to index links redirecting internet users to servers hosting infringing content they could then download. Wawa-mania also offered downloadable circumvention tools to remove anti-piracy locks shielding Windows software from copying.

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