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08.22.17

The Patent Microcosm is Pushing Hard to Weaken Alice and Revoke PTAB’s Authority Using an Upcoming Supreme Court Case

Posted in America, Courtroom, Patents at 7:08 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Dennis Crouch preaching to the choir again…

Dennis Crouch at the University of Houston Law Center
Photo credit: University of Houston Law Center

Summary: Patent profiteers (not inventors) continue their shameful campaign against Alice and PTAB now that software patents are in shambles and many get invalidated without them being used litigiously

THE USPTO has been subjected to PTAB’s scrutiny for just over half a decade. This has helped a lot. Many bogus patents got invalidated. Frivolous lawsuits were prevented.

As we have been showing here several times earlier this summer, publicity stunts, personal attacks etc. have been used by the patent microcosm in an effort to shut down PTAB. They’ll never stop trying. These people also try to water down § 101/Alice. As mentioned here during the weekend, CAFC issued a ruling about a case regarding hardware, yet several law firms tried to paint it as pertaining to Alice and CCIA’s Josh Landau has just responded as follows:

Last week, the Federal Circuit handed down a decision in Visual Memory v. NVIDIA, deciding that the Visual Memory cache patents are patent-eligible under § 101.

Unfortunately, in doing so the Federal Circuit makes the same mistake they’ve made a few times now—they’ve looked at the specification, not the claims, in order to justify finding eligibility. The problem with that?

[...]

This isn’t the first case that has read into the specification in order to find claims patent-eligible. Last year, in the Amdocs v. Openet case, a similar decision was made—claims were found to be patent-eligible based on aspects of the patent only described in the specification, aspects that were completely absent from the claim language. The majority admitted that the claims were directed to an abstract idea, but said they contained an “inventive concept” sufficient to make the claim patent-eligible.

In Amdocs, the key to eligibility (according to the court, at any rate) was the “distributed” nature of the patent. The problem with that, as identified in Judge Reyna’s dissent, is that the majority “relies on the specification to import innovative limitations into the claims at issue” because the claims at issue are entirely lacking in that limitation.

Again, we see the same pattern: claims entirely lacking any inventive concept, saved by the importation of ideas from the specification.

Moreover (not mentioned above), the patent wasn’t quite on software. We wrote about this some days ago. To pretend that this decision somehow legitimises software patents would require incredible levels of dishonesty. Here is what Managing IP wrote about it yesterday. Notice the headline. When they say “hope” they reveal their bias. Software patents propagandists is what they boil down to and considering their source of income it’s easy to understand why. They’re merely a front of patent law firms. From the article:

The Federal Circuit in its August 15 opinion in Visual Memory, LLC v NVIDIA Corp upheld patent claims directed to a computer memory system as patent eligible under the Supreme Court test set out in Alice v CLS Bank – a departure from its tendency to strike down such patents in recent years

But this is not a software patent and not everything that’s judged by Alice is patent-ineligible. Obviously! Expect patent maximalists to continue to twist this decision in order to pretend CAFC has just ‘blessed’ such patents.

When the US Supreme Court (SCOTUS) took on Alice it did not seek to overturn every outcome or invalidate all patents but merely to limit their scope (as it did).

PTAB will soon be the subject of consideration at SCOTUS (Oil States) and the patent microcosm is already attempting to influence the outcome. As usual, PTAB foe Dennis Crouch tries to paint the opposition to PTAB as scholarly/academic.

Yes, Mr. Crouch at Patently-O is already lobbying SCOTUS pretty hard against PTAB. He writes about this almost every day, citing other academics like Lemley’s “Why Do Juries Decide If Patents Are Valid?” (from 2013!)

These people (like Crouch, not Lemley) try to salvage bogus patents and software patents. They view themselves as self-appointed heroes of an ‘industry’ of trolls and litigators. Crouch focuses on revocation by juries, but the general public (jury) barely understands patents; it’s just brainwashed by lawyers/liars and is therefore unfit to decide on such cases.

Days ago Dennis Crouch wrote about the history of patent revocation, going back more than two centurie and stating: “The last revocation in this manner was 1779 on an issue of national security. There are, however, no records of any petitions filed after 1780 and contemporary writing suggest that the revocation process moved entirely to scire facias. The brief suggests that, if it were available, parties would have continued to push through the Privy Counsel because scire facias was so expensive and complicated.”

This plays into the narrative that revocation has no legitimacy because it was last really done (routinely) a very long time ago. Crouch was soon digging even deeper with this narrative. He’s still trying to find out how to stop patents being invalidated (because they’re of low quality). This is what he wrote:

In my view, a potential critical historical question in Oil States is whether the English Privy Council was empowered to revoke patents back in 1791.

For many years leading up to its last cancellation action in 1779, the Privy Council operated as a kind of administrative body empowered to revoke or void issued patent rights on signature of a sufficient number of Privy Council members. If the Privy Council was empowered in the 1790s to cancel issued patents without judge or jury, that suggests that – in today’s world of expanded administrative power – Congress can also empower a the PTO to cancel issued patents. Some folks may reflect that – although Old English Law matters for the Seventh Amendment jury trial issue, it is much less critical for the administrative law question. Others will also argue that the Privy Council approach was entirely rejected by Americans when we rejected the notion of American Royalty. I’ll slide by these points for this point and instead look at uncovering some Privy Council history.

[...]

The historical record is thus starting to suggest that, although the Privy Council took no action to cancel patents after 1779, it may have been empowered to do so throughout the 18th and 19th Centuries. At this point, I don’t have any further take-away conclusions and would be receptive to comments and guidance.

We expect Crouch to carry on with this nonsense for months to come; not only do they try to water down § 101 but also abolish the facility for enforcing § 101. It’s all about patent maximalism.

News About Patents Dominated by Patent Trolls/Aggressors, Their Press Releases, and Sympathisers

Posted in Apple, Deception, Patents at 6:29 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: A collection of news items from yesterday, demonstrating just to what degree the narrative of patent trolls (or aggressors) is being spread by paying for distribution

THE USPTO has been granted far too many patents (by lowering quality) — patents that are mostly used by trolls to shake down companies and sometimes sue them (only then do such patent disputes become publicly visible). Thankfully, US courts are not tolerating these patents and PTAB, moreover, leaps to the rescue quite often, reducing the incentive to even approach a company with patent claims (with or without a lawsuit being filed).

BigbellyOver at Watchtroll (a couple of days ago), the so-called “patent market” (the term used in the headline) is said to be “depressed”. They are speaking for patent aggressors and parasites, so the word “market” is inadeuate here (trolls have no market, they prey on the market). The actual, real market is thriving, but the patent ‘industry’ is being made obsolete. Trolls and their lawyers are seeing decline in ‘business’ and as we noted earlier this year, some legal firms appear to be shutting down (which is a good thing). The same is true for trolls.

Yesterday we saw the notorious patent troll VirnetX publishing this press release [1, 2], which means it literally paid for some hogwash. We rarely see even a single press release from patent trolls, but now that it gets its way with shakedown it’s paying to pretend that it’s gentle and amicable rather than a bunch of bullies. “Patent Standstill Agreement” they call it. Sounds more like secret settlement. The term was recently used by Red Hat and Microsoft in relation to a secret deal.

Another new piece of hogwash came from Bigbelly — a company which we named earlier this summer. It is just suing lots of companies using patents; What a garbage ‘company’ it must be, not only dealing with trash (literally) but also patenting software and pursuing legal actions all around the world. Yesterday’s statement said that the “same complaint filed against Ecube Labs Co. Ltd. (South Korea), and similar complaints filed in the German Court against EconX Waste Solutions B.V. (Netherlands) and German Ecotec GMBH are in the process of being served.”

“Being served…”

What? A gourmet meal?

Speaking of Germany/Europe, trolls and parasites are coming there too. Trolling activity is up sharply and Florian Müller, a German software developer known for his activism against software patents, is rightly concerned about this. Yesterday he published another article about Qualcomm, a company which became just a serial patent aggressor. Well, we last wrote a long article about it after Qualcomm’s aggression had expanded to Europe. Here is the latest:

Qualcomm has to defend itself against the Federal Trade Commission in the Northern District of California, where Judge Lucy H. Koh has so far been great for the mobile device industry, and against Apple in the Southern District of California, where Judge Gonzalo P. Curiel held a hearing on Friday. Apart from case management orders scheduling a March 22, 2018 claim construction hearing and a September 28, 2018 final pretrial conference for the non-patent claims, all I know about the hearing is what I found on the Twitter feeds of Law.com’s Scott Graham and MLex’s Mike Swift.

It’s unsurprising that, according to these two reporters, Judge Curiel will consolidate Apple v. Qualcomm with Qualcomm’s lawsuit against four Apple contract manufacturers (who in turn invited Apple to join, which Apple appeared happy to do), and that Qualcomm appears unlikely to obtain a preliminary injunction requiring those contract manufacturers to resume their royalty payments. The overlap between those cases is gigantic, and seeking a preliminary injunction for the purpose of collecting payments is–let’s try to understate how hard it is–a long shot.

I would like to comment on a couple of other things I read about the hearing. The first one is that Evan Chesler, Qualcomm’s counsel and chairman of the Cravath firm, told Judge Curiel the 18 patents Apple claims are invalid and not infringed were just a “drop in the bucket” and adjucating them wouldn’t put the parties any closer to a settlement.

This case might go on for a while. We have said right from the beginning that we hope Apple will win because such an outcome would be favourable to Linux/Android as well. Qualcomm has become little more than a patent parasite; some would go as far as labeling it a “troll”.

Amazon’s 1-Click Patent Continues to Tarnish the Image of the USPTO and of Patents in General

Posted in America, Patents at 5:35 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Lack of patent quality can doom the whole system (or public support for it)

Angry sunflowerSummary: Public ridicule and scorn over the shallowness of patents granted in the US is inevitable (Amazon has a patent even on white background in photographs), demonstrating that patent maximalism does nobody a favour, only a great disservice to both patenters and the public at large

THE USPTO cannot escape liability for its utterly embarrassing patent grant two decades ago. Since then, many other equally ridiculous patents have been granted. Is the above image a patent infringement depending on how the white background was accomplished?

“Patent Expires In 3 Week’s Time,” says this new headline, “Why Was It Ever Granted?”

We wrote about it during the weekend after we had covered similarly appalling software patents from Amazon; we wrote many articles about this patent over the years and we mentioned other such patents routinely.

When will the US patent office realise that continuing such grants is harmful to the reputation of the Office?

“Note that Bezos, now the world’s richest man, at no point called for the end of software patents. How convenient for him to get monopolies on ideas as simple as photographing products in front of a white background (they actually have a patent on that, too).”Who is happy about such grants? Well, Steven Lundberg, a software patents lobbyist of sorts (we mentioned him many times before), published in a couple of sites [1, 2] this new piece that says the following: “For those of you that were not around when it issued, or the several years following, there was quite a lot of complaining about how unfair it was for Amazon to get this patent, and how it represented how bad patents are for software. Jeff Bezos himself even, for a time, was promoting a shorter term for software patents, in response in part to the criticism he received for the 1-click patent. Of course, now all the doomsday predictions look silly, with the e-commerce revolution having quite handily survived Amazon’s 1-click patent. Twenty years go by awful fast, we find out, as it seems like yesterday that the 1-click patent was issued.”

In the interim, however, many companies were at risk of being sued. Had this patent never been granted, innovation would be a lot faster.

Note that Bezos, now the world’s richest man, at no point called for the end of software patents. How convenient for him to get monopolies on ideas as simple as photographing products in front of a white background (they actually have a patent on that, too).

Software patents are not the only issue or the sole domain that’s troublesome. In the EPO, for example, patents are now being granted on life itself, so the above photograph may constitute more than a single patent infringement. Public protests against the EPO more often than not confront the Office over patents like these. Consent is being eroded when scope is being expanded.

Bristows LLP Tries Hard to Maintain the Illusion That UPC is Alive, Using Media Placements and Paid Plugs

Posted in Deception, Europe, Patents at 5:03 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Related: Bristows LLP is Still Trying to Attach Wings to the UPC and Distract From Serious (Likely Fatal) Barriers to It

Bristows EPO

Summary: Ever-so-desperate efforts to keep the Unitary Patent (UPC) in headlines, even though nothing is happening and nothing is likely to happen any time soon

THE EPO‘s management is on holiday, so not much is said about the UPC nowadays. The UPC is in a seriously fatal state. Only jingoistic nonsense would have people believe otherwise.

“Bristows, part of Team UPC, has already infiltrated Kluwer Patent Blog and IP Kat for the purpose of UPC marketing/lies. Therein, in blogs not associated directly with Bristows, these people have been deleting comments they don’t like/agree with (not good for their financial interests).”We have been writing for nearly a decade about the UPC as a vehicle for software patents in Europe and lots of software patent trolls which accompany these, essentially creating lots of “demand” for litigation (mind Bristows "brown-nosing" British judges to advance trolling in the UK). This week, Bristows is literally paying to spread its blog posts to other sites. Luke Maunder’s nonsense is now in Lexology (megaphone of Battistelli, as of yesterday), attributed to “Bristows LLP”.

Bristows, part of Team UPC, has already infiltrated Kluwer Patent Blog and IP Kat for the purpose of UPC marketing/lies. Therein, in blogs not associated directly with Bristows, these people have been deleting comments they don’t like/agree with (not good for their financial interests). Now, in a multi-part ‘interview’ form, Managing IP does that also, basically becoming a platform for lies. Kingsley Egbuonu is beating the dead UPC (Trojan) horse. This dead horse, which Managing IP has promoted for its own interests for a number of years, is described in rather mystifying terms like: “The UK has made remarkable progress towards ratifying the UPC Agreement” (actually, not really).

“We certainly hope that readers already know where publications like IAM and Managing IP stand on this debate.”“In the first of a two-part article,” Egbuonu says of himself, “Kingsley Egbuonu spoke to Alan Johnson of Bristows about UK’s preparations, post-Brexit participation and the impact of being outside the system” (there is no such participation, but they continue to peddle this illusion as though it’s a given).

We certainly hope that readers already know where publications like IAM and Managing IP stand on this debate. They’re been little more than paid cheerleaders of Battistelli’s agenda for a number of years.

Links 22/8/2017: Linux 4.13 RC6, Mesa 17.1.7, Wine 2.15, Android O

Posted in News Roundup at 4:39 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

Free Software/Open Source

  • How to set up an all open-source IT infrastructure from scratch

    Hypothetical: You need to set up the IT infrastructure (email, file sharing, etc.) for a new company. No restrictions. No legacy application support necessary. How would you do it? What would that ideal IT infrastructure look like?

    I decided to sit down and think of my ideal setup — based on quite a few years of being a vice president of engineering at various companies — and document them here. Maybe you’ll find my choices useful; maybe you’ll think I’m crazy. Either way, these are good things to consider for any organization.

  • Sercos master is made available as free, open-source software

    A software-based Sercos industrial Ethernet master that can be implemented on industrial automation controllers instead of needing dedicated hardware, is now available as free, open-source software.

  • Linksys begins selling the WRT32X AC3200 MU-MIMO open source gaming router

    Routers are getting more powerful and elaborate nowadays. What was once a device that a person would set up and then never pay any mind (except when he/she needed to reboot it), has become much more. Ostentatious designs with multiple external antennas are not just for performance, but they can also make wireless routers focal points of a room. For some consumers, these routers can even be seen as works of art. While appearance is obviously good for sales and marketing purposes, it can actually benefit some users too. After all, if a wireless router is put in, say, a living room, it is important that it looks attractive too. It really does matter.

    Today, Linksys finally begins taking pre-orders for a wireless router that we covered at the beginning of the year, called WRT32X. This router is quite intriguing for many reasons. For one, it is being listed as a “gaming” device, and thanks to the use of Killer Networking KPE technology, that could be more than just marketing. Another interesting aspect is the beautiful design — it looks both angry and intimidating, and yes, that is a good thing. If this was put next to an Xbox or gaming PC, it would totally fit in. Most intriguing, however, is that theWRT32X is open source-friendly so you can flash alternative firmware, such as OpenWrt.

  • Another Ivy Bridge Era Motherboard Now Supported By Coreboot – ASRock B75 Pro3-M
  • The Faces of Open Source: Mark Radcliffe

    In this fourth episode of Shane Martin Coughlan’s, “The Faces of Open Source Law,” we continue our introductions to the vibrant open source community, through discussions with some of it’s most active contributors.

    Shane’s series may focus on legal issues, but through his discussions, you’ll also find a wealth of information related to broader topics related to development, community and contributions. We’re also very lucky to include in this series interviews, some of the folks who have helped the OSI grow to become the internationally recognized organization it is today. This week is no different with an interview with the OSI’s legal counsel.

  • Events

  • Web Browsers

    • Chrome

      • [Update: Now in Dev Channel] ChromeOS will eventually have an automatic red-tinted Night Light mode

        ChromeOS development is on fire these days. Just yesterday we got news that we’d have a new setting for closing the lid on a Chromebook. And today we find out that a new automatic Night Light feature is inbound and has just entered the Canary channel. If you’ve ever used Kindle’s Blue Shade, f.lux, or LineageOS’ LiveDisplay feature, then you know that this means. If you aren’t familiar with any of those, think a red-tinted mode for use at night.

    • Mozilla

      • Welcome Michael DeAngelo, Chief People Officer

        As Chief People Officer, Michael is responsible for all aspects of HR and Organizational Development at Mozilla Corporation with an overall focus on ensuring we’re building and growing a resilient, high impact global organization as a foundation for our next decade of growth and impact.

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice

    • Manage your finances with LibreOffice Calc

      If you’re like most people, you don’t have a bottomless bank account. You probably need to watch your monthly spending carefully.

      There are many ways to do that, but that quickest and easiest way is to use a spreadsheet. Many folks create a very basic spreadsheet to do the job, one that consists of two long columns with a total at the bottom. That works, but it’s kind of blah.

      I’m going to walk you through creating a more scannable and (I think) more visually appealing personal expense spreadsheet using LibreOffice Calc.

  • Healthcare

    • How Open Source Software Benefits Health IT Infrastructure

      Health IT infrastructure forms the foundation for everything that happens in a healthcare organization, from quality improvement and patient safety to financial sustainability and business intelligence.

      While many different health IT strategies can support success, ensuring that an organization has scalable, flexible, and future-proof tools at its disposal will reduce the possibility of getting stuck with outdated capabilities.

      Open source software is one promising way that healthcare organizations can reduce IT infrastructure costs while remaining agile enough to adopt new IT solutions that will enable future improvements in patient care and business operations.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

  • Funding

  • BSD

    • SDDM on FreeBSD

      At some point, the KDE4-era KDM is going to end up unmaintained. The preferred display or login manager for KDE Plasma 5 is SDDM, which is Qt-based, and QML-themeable. In Area51, the unofficial KDE-on-FreeBSD ports repository, we’ve been working on Plasma 5 and modern KDE Applications for quite some time. One of the parts of that is, naturally, SDDM.

      There’s x11/sddm in the plasma5/ branch right now, with a half-dozen code patches which I’ll have to look in to for upstreaming. I decided to try building it against current official ports — that is, current Qt5 on FreeBSD — and using it to log in to my daily FreeBSD workstation. One that runs KDE4. That is immediately a good test, I think, of support for not-the-obvious-X11-environment for SDDM.

    • Next DFly release will have an initial HAMMER2 implementation

      The next DragonFly release (probably in September some time) will have an initial HAMMER2 implementation. It WILL be considered experimental and won’t be an installer option yet. This initial release will only have single-image support operational plus basic features. It will have live dedup (for cp’s), compression, fast recovery, snapshot, and boot support out of the gate.

    • Next DragonFlyBSD Release Will Offer Experimental HAMMER2

      After the HAMMER2 file-system was announced back in 2012, the next DragonFlyBSD release likely to be released in September will offer experimental support for this next-generation HAMMER file-system.

      A few days back I reported on HAMMER2 looking like it was getting ready for its debut and DragonFlyBSD/HAMMER lead developer Matthew Dillon has now announced it will indeed be an experimental feature in the next release of this BSD operating system.

    • Cortex-A75 and Cortex-A55 Now Supported By LLVM

      ARM’s latest big.LITTLE cores are now supported by LLVM, the Cortex A75 and A55.

    • RISC-V Support Continues Advancing For LLVM

      For those interested in the RISC-V open-source, royalty-free RISC-V instruction set architecture, the LLVM compiler support for it continues advancing.

      Alex Bradbury gas written a status update concerning the RISC-V LLVM support. At the moment the code remains out-of-tree for all the active development work. With that code, most of the GCC torture suite can compile for RV32I.

    • Kernel syspatches will soon be smaller thanks to KARL

      [...] the groundwork is done for having syspatch update only the kernel object files that have changed.

  • Public Services/Government

    • Renewable energy potential mapped in Bali, Indonesia using open source GIS software

      Geographic Information System (GIS)-based decision support systems (DSS) can play a significant role in arriving at the right mix of renewable energy to meet the needs of the respective localities. The Asian Development Bank (ADB) released a paper recently describing the use of such GIS-based DSS in developing a tool that quantifies the potential of five energy sources (solar, wind, biomass, hydropower, and geothermal) in a given geographical area, using Bali, Indonesia as a case study.

  • Licensing/Legal

    • Facebook won’t change React.js license despite Apache developer pain

      Facebook’s decided to stick with its preferred version of the BSD license despite the Apache Foundation sin-binning it for any future projects.

      The Foundation barred use of Facebook’s BSD-plus-Patents license in July, placing it in the “Category X” it reserves for “disallowed licenses”.

      Facebook’s BSD+Patents license earned that black mark because the Foundation felt it “includes a specification of a PATENTS file that passes along risk to downstream consumers of our software imbalanced in favor of the licensor, not the licensee, thereby violating our Apache legal policy of being a universal donor.”

    • Open source for commercial software development: Handle with care

      Open source software will continue to have a profound impact on how enterprises acquire and deploy software to support their operations. However, you should clearly understand the licensing implications and follow the rules. Consider quality, longevity, maintainability, community, contributors, and other risks before embracing or including a specific open source offering within your commercial product. By taking the several simple steps outlined in this article, you can reduce your risk and maximize returns.

    • Three Practical Tips That Empower Developers and Prevent Open Source Security Risks From Entering Your Code

      Employees use open source applications in organizations of all sizes and across all industries, and this trend shows no signs of slowing down. It is both cost effective and efficient to incorporate source code into software during the development stage. With all those extra resources, developers can focus more on the organization’s proprietary code.

      According to a GitHub survey, 94 percent of respondents reported using open source applications at least occasionally, while 81 percent used them frequently. In fact, 82 percent of developers said their employers accepted the use of open source software, and 84 percent were encouraged to use open source code in their applications.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

    • cron.weekly issue #94: Security, SSH, df, Wekan, funding, Kubernetes, Make, systemd & more
    • Open Hardware/Modding

      • Open Source Modular Rocket Avionics Package

        Cambridge postgraduate student [Adam Greig] helped design a rocket avionics system consisting of a series of disc-shaped PCBs arranged in a stack. There’s a lot that went into the system and you can get a good look at it all through the flickr album.

        Built with the help of Cambridge University Spaceflight, the Martlet is a 3-staging sounding rocket that lifts to 15km/50K feet on Cesaroni Pro98 engines. [Adam]’s control system uses several Arm Cortex M4s on various boards rather than having just one brain controlling everything.

      • Codasip Announces Latest RISC-V Processor

        Codasip, the leading supplier of RISC-V® embedded CPU cores, today announced the newest addition to their Berkelium (Bk) family of RISC-V processors. The Codasip Bk-1 processor is an FSM processor targeted at the Internet of Things (IoT) by offering ultra-low power, the lowest cost of all comparable embedded processors, and optimal performance/power efficiency.

  • Programming/Development

Leftovers

  • Science

    • How Women Got Crowded Out of the Computing Revolution

      The creation of this stock figure became something of a self-fulfilling prophecy. As the years passed, the idea that the best programmers were idiosyncratic, antisocial men became the norm. Computer programming, once associated with careful, meticulous women, now became the domain of iconoclastic men who lived by their own rules.

  • Hardware

    • Examining a vintage RAM chip, I find a counterfeit with an entirely different die inside

      A die photo of a vintage 64-bit TTL RAM chip came up on Twitter recently, but the more I examined the photo the more puzzled I became. The chip didn’t look at all like a RAM chip or even a TTL chip, and in fact appeared partially analog. By studying the chip’s circuitry closely, I discovered that this RAM chip was counterfeit and had an entirely different die inside. In this article, I explain how I analyzed the die photos and figured out what it really was.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Big Pharma Can Be Beaten: This Union Proved It

      When Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval sat down at the Culinary Health Center in east Las Vegas on June 15 to sign the nation’s toughest-ever drug pricing law, Bonnie Sedich was thinking of her daughter Mary. Mary had Type 1 diabetes, and she had struggled to afford insulin as its cost rose by over 300 percent in recent years. Sedich thought about the still-unpaid bills for the credit cards that she and her husband maxed out trying to help Mary buy medicine. And she thought about Mary’s last grim months of life, partially paralyzed by a stroke and tortured by other diabetes complications, before dying in November at age 51.

    • ‘He’s Not Slowing Down’: Sanders to Rip Trump, Push for Single Payer on Midwest Tour

      As new polling data shows President Donald Trump’s support flagging in several electorally crucial Midwest states, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) is gearing up for his three-state Midwest “Pickup Tour,” which will aim to demonstrate that his ambitious progressive agenda—which includes a $15 federal minimum wage, Medicare for All, and tuition-free public college—has “universal appeal.”

      The tour is scheduled to begin on Monday in Indianapolis, Indiana, where Sanders will join former United Steelworkers Local 1999 President Chuck Jones at a rally focused primarily on jobs and income inequality.

  • Security

  • Defence/Aggression

    • The Fetishization of Violence: Reflections on Charlottesville, WWII and Activism

      In the United States of America, violence remains one of our greatest pastimes. From slaughtering Native Americans and enslaving, torturing and killing African Americans, to conquering Filipinos and incinerating the Vietnamese, the history of the U.S. reads like a horror story. Without question, this is a nation built and maintained by violence.

      Today, Americans shoot and kill each other and themselves at unprecedented levels, and disproportionately when compared to our industrialized counterparts. Uncle Sam, as Chris Hedges routinely mentions, speaks in the “language of violence.” When children grow up watching their presidents and civic leaders threaten to use violence, it should come as no surprise when those same children resort to violence to solve their problems.

    • North Korea Warns US-South Korea War Games Driving Toward ‘Uncontrollable Nuclear War’

      With the United States and South Korea set to begin joint military exercises on Monday—and as Trump administration officials attempt to de-escalate tensions after the president threatened to bring “fire and fury” upon North Korea—the regime of Kim Jong-un published an editorial in a state-run newspaper on Sunday calling the planned war games “reckless behavior” that is “driving the situation into the uncontrollable phase of a nuclear war.”

    • Peace Camp and War Games at Harvest Time

      Political, ethical, and practical opposition to US nuclear weapons in Germany goes back decades. In 1997, peace researchers discovered the deployment of 20 Cold War era B61s here and began raising hell. Legally, the bombs are a clear violation of the 1968 Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT) — which is binds both Germany and the United States. Article I prohibits nuclear weapons from being transferred to or the accepted by any other state. The NPT, and Germany’s post-war constitution, have been the legal foundation of anti-nuclear civil resistance actions at Büchel because German law is especially keen about the horrifying results of obeying unlawful orders.

    • The Lies on Afghanistan

      Tonight, the American people will hear again the great lie about the progress the American military once made in Afghanistan after “the Afghan Surge”, just as we often hear the lie about how the American military had “won” in Iraq. In Iraq it was a political compromise that brought about a cessation of hostilities for a few short years and it was the collapse of the political balance that had been struck that led to the return to the violence of the last several years. In Afghanistan there has never even been an attempt at such a political solution and all the Afghan people have seen in the last eight years, every year, has been a worsening of the violence.

    • The Lies on Afghanistan Trump Will Now Tell [Ed: as above]
    • The World Remembers 64th Anniversary of the West-Sponsored Coup in Iran

      After WWII, the West had one huge ‘problem’ on its hands: all three most populous Muslim countries on Earth – Egypt, Iran and Indonesia – were clearly moving in one similar direction, joining group of patriotic, peaceful and tolerant nations. They were deeply concerned about the welfare of their citizens, and by no means were they willing to allow foreign colonialist powers to plunder their resources, or enslave their people.

      In the 1950’s, the world was rapidly changing, and there was suddenly hope that the countries which were oppressed and pillaged for decades and centuries by first the European and then North American geopolitical and business interests, would finally break their shackles and stand proudly on their own feet.

      Several Communist countries in Eastern Europe, but also newly liberated China, were actively helping with rapid de-colonizing process in Africa, Asia, the Middle East and other parts of the world.

      Those developments were exactly what the West in general and both the U.K. and the U.S. in particular, were not ready or willing to accept. ‘Ancient’ belief in some sort of ‘inherited right’ to colonize, to loot and to control entire non-white world, was deeply engraved in the psyche of the rulers in both Europe and North America.

    • “We Burned Down Every Town in North Korea”

      The US public wants to know why North Korea is so paranoid, militarily hostile and boastful. And why do the leaders in the capital city Pyongyang point their fingers at the US every time they test another rocket or bomb? Sixty-five years after the US burned down every town in North Korea, the US military is now simultaneously bombing or rocketing seven different non-nuclear countries. The US conducts military exercises with South Korea off the North’s coastline twice a year.

      The US regularly tests Minuteman-3 long-range nuclear missiles ¾ from Vandenberg Air Base in California ¾ that can reach and obliterate Pyongyang. Several presidential administrations have called North Korea “evil,” a “state sponsor of terrorism,” and “threatening.” US military officials have called North Korea’s tiny, backward, nearly failed state the “principle threat” to the US security. North Korea may have reason to worry.

      North Korea’s rocket tests mostly fail but are nevertheless called “provocative” and “destabilizing” by the State Dept., the Council of Foreign Relations, and the White House. This is regardless of which party is in power. Bill Clinton said in 1994: “If North Korea ever used a nuclear weapon, it would no longer continue to exist.” Likewise today, Defense Secretary Jim “Mad Dog” Mattis used similarly bombastic language discussing North Korea August 8. John Walcott reported for Reuters that Mattis said the North must stop any action that would “lead to the end of its regime and the destruction of its people.”

    • Covering Up the Massacre of Mosul

      Iraqi Kurdish military intelligence reports have estimated that the nine-month-long U.S.-Iraqi siege and bombardment of Mosul to oust Islamic

      State forces killed 40,000 civilians. This is the most realistic estimate so far of the civilian death toll in Mosul.

    • Trump May Not Finish His Term But the Assassination Complex Will Live On

      Donald Trump’s speech on Afghanistan will briefly turn the media spotlight onto America’s longest war. Much of the media analysis will undoubtedly be about how the speech impacts Trump politically. Given the events of the past week, it seems unlikely that Democratic pundits will repeat their inane praise of the State of the Union address, in which Trump apparently became presidential for the first time. But this speech should serve as a moment to seriously examine the trajectory of the U.S. war machine from 9/11 to the present.

      Amid the deluge of scandal, incompetence, and bigotry emanating from the Trump White House, the relative calm of the Obama era seems like a far-off galaxy. The reality that Trump may not even finish a full term as president, either due to removal or resignation, means that the palace intrigue must be reported on thoroughly by the press. But a dangerous consequence of the overwhelming, obsessive focus on the daily Trump affairs is a virtual dearth of coverage on the permanent, unelected institutions of U.S. power, namely the military and the CIA.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • We might lose Giant Sequoia National Monument this week

      While Congress is on recess, Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke is continuing his “review” of national monuments across the country. A thinly veiled step towards selling out some of our country’s best wild places and historic sites, the review threatens not just the national monuments on Zinke’s list, but parks and public lands across the U.S.

      The Trump administration has made it clear that dirty fuel development and other extractive industries are the top priority of the Interior Department. At a recent speech before the conservative American Legislative Exchange Council, Zinke noted he sides more with Gifford Pinchot than environmentalist John Muir. That’s not surprising since Pinchot, a Muir contemporary, favored extracting resources from public lands.

    • The National Climate Assessment and National Park Neglect

      Every four years the federal government issues its National Climate Assessment, a comprehensive study compiled by 13 federal agencies. This year’s report is the most eventful of all time for two primary reasons: (1) the congressionally mandated report is filled with powerful evidence that climate change is already significantly impacting lives. In short, anthropogenic (human-caused) climate change is really for real; (2) the report requires approval by the office of the president of the United States, which is kinda like asking OJ if he did it.

      When Forbes magazine, the bastion of capitalism, runs this headline: “Leaked Government Report Points To Dire Impact Of Climate Change On US,” even conservatives take notice that climate change is real. After all, Forbes magazine is an elementary feature on tabletops in every U.S. corporate foyer. If it is missing from a tabletop, it’s only because somebody lifted it.

      The referenced Forbes’ article d/d August 8th includes a photo caption of Trump wearing a very long red tie and standing next to Scott Pruitt of EPA fame, speaking at the presidential podium. Trump looks grouchy, mean-spirited, and acerbic. Pruitt appears elfin and about to whimper under the piercing gaze of his big orange overseer. It’s not presidential in the slightest. Which is probably good because it’s the moment when EPA’er Scott Pruitt announces US withdrawal from the Paris accord of 2015.

    • Troubled Waters: Tennessee Families Stand Up for a Clean Environment

      On the northern slope of Cooper Ridge — a long, low-slung rise in Tennessee’s Cumberland Mountains — sits the 127-year-old Hatfield Cemetery, a well-maintained strip of flower-adorned plots where gravestones older than a century sit next to still-fresh graves.

      Bright pink ribbons hang in the tree branches surrounding the cemetery, marking 100 feet from the burial grounds. Beyond them is planned one of the largest surface coal mines in Tennessee’s history. The mine will soon surround the cemetery. On an afternoon in May, a swath of clear-cut logging was visible through the trees, and heavy machinery could be heard over the sound of chirping birds.

      The Cooper Ridge mine will span a total of roughly 1,400 acres of land, both above and below ground, stretching from the southern tip of the ridge where it will encircle Hatfield Cemetery to the northern tip, where it will sit right above the Clairfield Elementary School, which serves 92 students.

    • Right of Way

      Many of the pipeline’s opponents are already in open rebellion. A group of nuns who own land on the proposed pipeline’s path refused to grant Williams an easement on their property. Williams threatened to use eminent domain, and now the nuns from the Adorers of the Blood of Christ have sued the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission in U.S. District Court. They argue the pipeline’s construction contradicts their deeply held religious beliefs and that using eminent domain to take their land is a violation of their First Amendment rights to freedom of religion.

    • Trump ‘Wave of Destruction’ Continues With Decision to Disband Key Climate Panel

      Even as reports from federal agencies demonstrate that the global climate scenario is becoming increasingly alarming, President Donald Trump has decided to continue the “wave of destruction” his administration is inflicting on the environment—and on the agencies tasked with studying climate change—by disbanding the federal advisory panel for the National Climate Assessment, which was tasked with helping government translate climate findings into plans for action.

      As the Washington Post reported, the “charter for the 15-person Advisory Committee for the Sustained National Climate Assessment—which includes academics as well as local officials and corporate representatives—expires Sunday,” and the Trump administration has decided the panel will not be renewed.

    • US Navy ship and oil tanker collide near Singapore

      Ten US Navy sailors are missing and five have been injured after a US destroyer and an oil tanker collided near Singapore, the Navy says.

      The guided missile destroyer USS John S McCain was sailing east of Singapore and preparing to stop in the port when the collision with the Liberian-flagged vessel occurred.
      A wide-ranging search and rescue operation is under way.

      It is the second collision involving a US Navy ship in recent months.

    • The new economic science of capitalism’s slow-burn energy collapse

      New scientific research is quietly rewriting the fundamentals of economics. The new economic science shows decisively that the age of endlessly growing industrial capitalism, premised on abundant fossil fuel supplies, is over.
      The long-decline of capitalism-as-we-know-it, the new science shows, began some decades ago, and is on track to accelerate well before the end of the 21st century.

  • Finance

    • The Absurdity of Corporate Tax Cuts During the Corporate Pillaging of the Middle Class

      It could be argued that the greatest American pillaging is the transfer of taxpayer funds into the bloated military, or a greed-driven private health care system that deprives human beings of essential medical care. But the conversion of American technologies into low-taxed plutocratic profit may be the most flagrant attack on the middle class.

      It can also be argued that the products of the technological companies have enriched and energized our lives in numerous ways, and that the high-tech job market has never been better. But the rest of us pay dearly for all the technological benefits, much more than just the hundreds of dollars for phones and phone service. We have lost middle-class jobs and middle-class wealth. We have lost our share of the national productivity that is the direct result of 70 years of taxpayer input into the technologies that have enriched fewer and fewer people.

    • Progressive Armies Mobilize Against GOP Tax Cuts for Corporations and Wealthy

      The August recess isn’t over yet, but progressive organizations are using the time to mobilize against looming Republican plans—spearheaded by the Trump administration in the White House and by Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) in Congress—to give corporations and the nation’s wealthiest individuals massive tax cuts while putting services and social programs on the chopping block.

      “We can’t afford tax cuts for the wealthy and corporations that are paid for by cuts to Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, public education, and other services that working families rely on,” warns Frank Clemente, executive director of Americans for Tax Fairness (ATF). “Side-by-side, there’s no denying it: Trump’s draconian cuts to services that will harm working families are intended to pay for his massive tax giveaways to big corporations and the wealthy. Helping the American people understand what’s at stake is how we will win the tax fight.”

    • How the post-Brexit trade deal will affect British farmers

      The UK’s Brexit deal could be a make or break scenario for Britain’s farmers, according to a study published by the Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute (AFBI) on Wednesday (16 August).

      Changes to the UK’s trading relationship with the EU and other global partners once it leaves the single market and customs union could have a major impact on trade flows.

      The independent study analysed the impact of three different post-Brexit trade scenarios on agricultural commodity prices in the UK, the volumes farmers produce and the prices they command.

    • The Clever Games Tax “Reformers” Play

      Reuters reports that President Donald Trump and congressional Republicans are now tackling tax reform. Staffers are working straight through the August recess, with proposed legislation expected to be released in September.

      Among the goodies expected in the new legislation: a lowering of the corporate income tax rate from its current level of 35 percent. President Donald Trump is seeking a reduction to 15 percent. Many Republicans in Congress are favoring a new 20 percent corporate rate.

    • Wage theft victims have little chance of recouping pay in Illinois

      Most victims of wage theft in Illinois never see a dime because the system meant to help them isn’t working.

      That’s not what labor advocates envisioned in 2010, when the state passed a bill meant to give employees a better chance of recouping stolen wages and to toughen penalties against the employers who stiff them.

    • 10 Bitcoin Wallet Apps You Should Consider Using Today

      If you’re into the future of digital payment, you’ve probably already heard of the cryptocurrency, Bitcoin. While Bitcoin is now incredibly difficult to mine, it’s relatively easy to buy Bitcoins with traditional currency. For anyone wanting to begin their foray into this form of peer-to-peer transaction, which offers anonymity while simultaneously cutting out banks and other traditional third party financial entities, the first step is getting a Bitcoin wallet.

      Bitcoins are stored in a digital wallet, stored in the cloud or on your personal computer, which act like a bank account, letting you pay or exchange Bitcoins. Imagine a virtual bank account that allows users to send or receive Bitcoin, or pay for goods from merchants that accept Bitcoin.

    • Brexit and daft embargoes

      To appreciate the sheer ridiculousness of yesterday’s “strict” press embargo of the Department for Exiting the European Union (DExEU) you need to know a little about the background to the current Brexit negotiations.

    • Hard Brexit a ‘disaster scenario’ for waste treatment capacity, warns Suez

      The UK is faced with a “potential disaster scenario” that could see a Hard Brexit exacerbate a shortfall of waste treatment infrastructure over the next 10 years, waste management firm Suez has warned. EURACTIV’s partner edie.net reports.

      Suez, which deals with around 10 million tonnes of the UK’s waste each year, has claimed that the UK is heading towards a “severe shortage” of energy-from-waste (EfW) power plants, which are replacing landfills as a preferred disposal solution for non-recyclable, residual waste.

      Findings from Suez’ Mind the Gap report, which examines the state of the UK’s waste handling capabilities up to 2030, note that landfills are closing quicker than anticipated, which has created a national shortfall of nearly 14m tonnes of domestic treatment capacity.

    • Bitcion Takes Blockchain to Space – Satellite Confirms Transaction

      Blockstream’s Blockchain Satellite confirms the success of its first transactions, as Adam Back – the CEO announced over Twitter.

    • Bitcoin In Space: Blockchain Satellite Receives First Transaction

      The radio connection can be established through open-source software such as GNU Radio. Making a transaction still requires an Internet connection, but Back is confident that SMS would be enough.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • We Doublechecked And These Trump Stories Aren’t Fake News

      These days, the media cycle is pretty much populated by “stupid thing Trump did” ad nauseam — until said stupid thing is causing a nuclear war that ends the media cycle, and humanity, permanently.

    • Secret Service says it will run out of money to protect Trump and his family Sept. 30

      The Secret Service said Monday that it has enough money to cover the cost of protecting President Trump and his family through the end of September, but after that the agency will hit a federally mandated cap on salaries and overtime unless Congress intervenes.

      If lawmakers don’t lift the cap, about a third of the agency’s agents would be working overtime without being paid, agency officials said.

      “The Secret Service estimates that roughly 1,100 employees will work overtime hours in excess of statutory pay caps during calendar year 2017,” Director Randolph “Tex” Alles said in a statement. “To remedy this ongoing and serious problem, the agency has worked closely with the Department of Homeland Security, the Administration, and the Congress over the past several months to find a legislative solution.”

    • Here are the best Twitter reactions to Trump looking directly into the eclipse

      If you couldn’t resist the temptation to get a glimpse at today’s solar eclipse without protective glasses on, you’re insane — but you’re also not alone. NFL star Odell Beckham Jr. posted a video on Instagram of him staring directly at the cosmic event.

      In much less surprising news, Donald J. Trump — the 45th president of the United States — went against all general scientific advice and the direct, personal warnings of his staff and stared at the eclipse with his unprotected eyes like a proud and stubborn five-year-old child.

    • The Symbiotic Relationship between White Supremacists and Trump’s White House

      On August 18, 2017, in the aftermath of right-wing violence at the “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, Steve Bannon resigned from his post as “Chief White House Strategist” and returned to Breitbart, where he was hailed as a “populist hero.” “The populist-nationalist movement got a lot stronger today,’ said Breitbart News Editor-in-Chief Alex Marlow. “Breitbart gained an executive chairman with his finger on the pulse of the Trump agenda.”

      While the Trump administration may be symbolically distancing itself from the “alt-right” with Bannon’s resignation—and corporate media is certainly covering that rift—over the last year, independent journalists at Mother Jones, Truthout, Democracy Now!, and other outlets have meticulously documented the rise to executive power of white supremacists, including the longtime opponent of integration, Jeff Sessions, Breitbart ideologue Steve Bannon, and a host of others.

    • Russia’s Attacks on Democracy Aren’t Only a Problem for America
    • The Conservatives’ solution for unaffordable care? No care

      Despite evidence that life expectancy may be stagnating, the century-long rise should be a cause for celebration. However, for too many people – unsure whether they will be able to afford the care they may need or to plan for the future – their later years are proving to be a time of fear and uncertainty.

    • Trump’s Collapsing World

      In years to come, Donald Trump will doubtless be the subject of numerous psychological analyses. The experts will try—some have been trying since Day One—to figure out how and why he behaves so differently from any normal leader. But sociology may be just as useful as psychology in Trump’s case: we need look no farther than his business dealings and his background to see that what we witness today is perfectly consistent with Trump’s past. Donald Trump quite simply is doing what comes naturally—being the authoritarian figure who gives orders, expects them to be followed, consults no one, demands absolute loyalty—and in the end increases the wealth of Trump Inc. He surely must be asking himself every day why this model isn’t working just as well in government as in business. “What’s wrong with all these people?” His sense of entitlement is truly extraordinary.

    • Scandinavian Nazis on the march again
    • Campus Antifascist Network

      Given that college campuses have been central to activism by the so-called alt-right, is it time for a campus-based countermovement? Scholars behind the proposed Campus Antifascist Network, or CAN, think so.

      “The election of Donald Trump has emboldened fascist and white nationalist groups nationwide, on campus and off, and their recent upsurge requires antifascists to take up the call to action once again,” reads an invitation to join the group, posted on social media this week by David Palumbo-Liu, the Louise Hewlett Nixon Professor and professor of comparative literature at Stanford University.

      “As we wrote this letter,” it says, “hundreds of torch-bearing white supremacists were marching on the campus of University of Virginia chanting ‘Jews will not replace us’ and other vile slurs. An antifascist activist was murdered by these same forces in Charlottesville, raising the stakes of resistance to new heights.”

    • Trump Could Lose Honorary Degree Thanks to Student Protest
    • Donald Trump’s Morning Rant Attacks Republicans Who Dare to Say His Name
    • How (Not) to Challenge Racist Violence

      Historically, people and organizations struggling to change U.S. society and policy have used direct action, boycotts, and street protests as strategies to pressure powerholders to change their laws, institutions, policies, or actions. The United Farm Workers called on consumers to boycott grapes in order to pressure specific growers to negotiate with their union. Antiwar protesters marched on Washington or targeted their Congressional representatives. They also took direct action: registering voters, pouring blood on draft records or nuclear weapons, sitting in front of trains carrying weapons to Central America.

      [...]

      Rather than organizing for change, individuals seek to enact a statement about their own righteousness.

    • Make America Safe Again

      Through six months of Donald Trump the progressive resistance has been united by opposition to his policies. The good news is that we have stopped his legislative program. The bad news is that most Americans don’t understand what progressives stand for, other than opposing Trump. Now’s the time to bring forward an agenda that emphasizes

    • Truth and Lives vs. Career and Fame

      Fifty years ago, I could have tried to stop the Vietnam War, but lacked the courage. On Aug. 20, 1967, we at CIA received a cable from Saigon containing documentary proof that the U.S. commander, Gen. William Westmoreland, and his deputy, Gen. Creighton Abrams, were lying about their “success” in fighting the Vietnamese Communists. I live with regret that I did not blow the whistle on that when I could have.

    • Israel’s Quiet Reaction to US Neo-Nazis

      The Israeli push to keep Iran in the status of an isolated, despised demon with whom nobody should do any business has included opposition to the agreement that limits Iran’s nuclear agreement — even though, as senior Israeli security officials have observed, by closing any route to an Iranian nuclear weapon this agreement is very much in Israel’s security interests.

      The Israeli government does not have the same sort of balancing act the Gulf Arabs have in manipulating the Iran issue. Israel does not live in, or export oil from, the Persian Gulf. It would not be paying the human and material costs of armed confrontation between Iran and Arabs or between Iran and the United States.

    • The Activists Who Helped Shut Down Trump’s CEO Councils

      But many of the CEOs on these councils had been under heavy pressure to disavow Trump’s agenda of hate and racism even before Charlottesville. That pressure came from grassroots activists.

      The Center for Popular Democracy, Make The Road New York, New York Communities for Change, and several other immigrant and worker advocates had led that activist campaign, targeting the leaders of nine major corporations affiliated with the Trump administration. The campaign, working through a web site called Corporate Backers of Hate, detailed the connections between the nine companies and the Trump administration and encouraged people to send emails to both the CEOs involved and members of their corporate boards.

      Throughout the spring and summer, the campaign also held protests against the companies, including a civil disobedience action at the JPMorgan Chase headquarters on May Day, where 12 were arrested, and a march to JPMorgan’s annual shareholder meeting, where protestors confronted CEO Jamie Dimon for his company’s financing of private immigrant detention and mass incarceration.

    • Trump fires Bannon: Who are the Winners & Losers Globally?

      Steve Bannon by his own admission promoted the Breitbart webzine as a mouthpiece of white supremacism, in an attempt to create a new, well-educated and well-dressed version of seedy racism. The Republican Party had since the Nixon Strategy of the 1970s played on a soft version of white resentment, but used dog whistles and kept the Klan and the Neo-Nazis at arms length. Bannon’s plot to have the white grievance branch of the party take it over in a way resembles the way the Evangelicals gradually took over the GOP. Since white evangelicalism is often imbued with a dose of white supremacy, there was even a chance that Bannon could coopt them.

      White grievance drove Bannon’s major policy proposals– cutting way back on immigration and especially from non-English-speaking countries, banning Muslims from coming into the country at all, and a neo-mercantilism in which the US would provoke a trade war with China.

      In his “American Prospect” interview, Bannon disingenuously called the white supremacists losers. He was thereby attempting to escape the blame for Charlottesville, but it won’t work. Everyone knows he whipped up the fervor of the far right and made it a constituency for Trump, one that previously presidents since 1932 have avoided.

    • No Two Sides about It, Confederate Statues Must Come Down

      One of the enduring images of the 2000s was that of American Marines purportedly helping a group of Iraqi civilians tumble the statue of Saddam Hussein at Firdos Square in Baghdad in April 2003. British journalist Robert Fisk famously described the scene as “the most staged photo opportunity since Iwo Jima.” Questions as to why the statue became a target for advancing military forces quickly surfaced. The answer was simple. The statue was a symbol of Hussein’s bloody regime. In advance of toppling the dictator himself, the statue was a stand-in for his ill-gotten power.

      That moment has crossed my mind more than a few times since recent tragic events in Charlottesville, Virginia, when anti-racist counter-protester Heather Heyer was struck and killed by white supremacist James Alex Fields. Fields plowed his vehicle through a line of people protesting a demonstration of neo-Nazis, white supremacy, and white nationalist groups challenging the removal of a statue of Confederate War General Robert E. Lee.

      In the same way that Iraqis and U.S. Marines saw Hussein’s statue as a symbol of a repressive regime, so too many African Americans and countless others see Confederate statues and the Confederate flag as monuments to slavery, racism, and a once-dominant system of American apartheid that continues to exert its influence on American society and culture.

    • Collaboration: Be Careful Who You Work With

      At a time when precise language has gone missing from the White House, how best to describe those loyal Republicans still dancing with the guy who brung them? You know, Jewish-Americans like economics guru Gary Cohn, who was reportedly “disgusted” with Trump’s smarmy apology for neo-Nazism and other anti-Semitism, but stood by like window dressing while the venom was spewed. Political-Americans like Paul Ryan, who expressed his outrage vehemently but failed to mention the name of the Outrager-in-Chief. Female-Americans like his adviser/daughter Ivanka, who … well, you get the point. Among the descriptors of these equally soulless souls: Pragmatists. Jellyfish. Enablers. Family.

    • Trump, Neo-Nazis and the Klan
    • Time to Impeach Trump

      The president’s reprehensible behavior in this moment creates a new sense of urgency. We cannot postpone consideration of impeachment until Special Counsel Robert Mueller finishes his criminal investigation. It is time to pressure the House of Representatives to bring articles of impeachment against Trump for his abuse of power. We must stop this president before he launches a new civil war and/or nuclear war.

    • Bannon’s Ouster Welcomed, But Much Bigger Problem Remains in White House: Trump

      Bannon made headlines earlier this week after The American Prospect’s Robert Kuttner published the details of a phone conversation he had with the former executive chair of the right-wing outlet Breitbart.

      During the call, Bannon casually discussed administration in-fighting and mocked the White House’s stance on North Korea.

      At an impromptu press conference on Tuesday, Trump seemed to express doubt about Bannon’s future.

      “We’ll see,” he said in response to questions about Bannon’s status.

    • Why Trump Keeps White Supremacists Close to Him, And What it Means For the Future
  • Censorship/Free Speech

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Trump upgrades Cyber Command, may sideline NSA in future
    • Trump mulling lifting status of Cyber Command: sources

      U.S. President Donald Trump is close to making a decision to elevate the status of the Pentagon’s Cyber Command, signaling more emphasis on developing cyber weapons to deter attacks, punish intruders and tackle adversaries, current and former officials told Reuters on Thursday.

      A current U.S. official, who was speaking on condition of anonymity, said Trump could make a decision as early as Friday. The official added that the timeline could be pushed back if the White House was dealing with more pressing issues.

      The Pentagon and White House declined to comment.

    • Trump elevates Cyber Command, setting the stage for NSA separation
    • Trump separates US Cyber Command From NSA
    • Tracking viewer responses to media, Cinemmerse wants to set the stage for ‘responsive’ entertainment

      The Australian founder, chief executive and sole employee of Cinemmerse wants to change the way folks think about how they watch everything from advertisements to art films.

      She’s created Cinemmerse, a website and an app that tracks viewers’ “emotional” response to what they’re watching by monitoring their vital signs through the Apple Watch.

      Dent’s idea is that writers and directors can take this bio-feedback and tailor their creations to their audience’s responses. It’s also a way for distributors and marketers to get yet another window into the audiences they’re trying to reach.

    • Pine Gap data used to target US’ enemies: reports

      Data hoovered up by the spy base at Pine Gap in Alice Springs is being used to target enemies of the US, reports based on leaked information from former NSA contractor Edward Snowden claim.

    • Target Finding for the Empire: The NSA and the Pine Gap Facility
    • What is Pine Gap? New Snowden leak exposes Australian spy hub aiding US drone strikes
    • Fear Pine Gap role could lead to Australian war crime prosecutions
    • The U.S. Spy Hub in the Heart of Australia

      A short drive south of Alice Springs, the second largest population center in Australia’s Northern Territory, there is a high-security compound, codenamed “RAINFALL.” The remote base, in the heart of the country’s barren outback, is one of the most important covert surveillance sites in the eastern hemisphere.

      Hundreds of Australian and American employees come and go every day from Joint Defence Facility Pine Gap, as the base is formally known. The official “cover story,” as outlined in a secret U.S. intelligence document, is to “support the national security of both the U.S. and Australia. The [facility] contributes to verifying arms control and disarmament agreements and monitoring military developments.” But, at best, that is an economical version of the truth. Pine Gap has a far broader mission — and more powerful capabilities — than the Australian or American governments have ever publicly acknowledged.

    • Australian Intelligence Collaborates with U.S. on Drone Attacks

      Australia provided the United States with information to carry out drone attacks on Syria, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia, according to documents leaked by the former CIA expert Edward Snowden, the program Background Briefing reported.

      The intelligence center in Pine Gag, on the outskirts of Alice Springs, has played a key role in military operations over the past few years, according to the documents, some of which are labeled as ‘highly classified’.

    • Facebook to stop charging for accidental ad clicks

      Facebook will stop charging advertisers when users accidentally click on ads which they view for less than two seconds.

    • ICE: We don’t use stingrays to locate undocumented immigrants

      The acting head of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the federal agency charged with deportations, has confirmed in a new letter that it does not use cell-site simulators, also known as stingrays, to locate undocumented immigrants.

      In the August 16 letter, which was sent to Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR), acting Director Thomas Homan wrote that, since October 2015, ICE has followed similar guidelines put in place by the Department of Justice and the Department of Homeland Security a month earlier, which require a warrant before deploying a stingray.

      Homan was responding to an earlier letter than Senator Wyden sent to him. The Oregon Democrat has also recently sent a similar letter to the Department of Justice, which has not yet responded. That August 1 letter states: “We are concerned that the Department may not be adequately disclosing to courts important details about how stingrays work and their impact on innocent Americans.”

    • What the Announced NSA / Cyber Command Split Means

      The move to elevate Cyber Command to a full Unified Combatant Command and split it off from the National Security Agency shows that cyber intelligence collection and information war are rapidly diverging fields. The future leadership of both entities is now in question, but the Pentagon has set out a conditions-based approach to the breakup. That represents a partial victory for the man who directs both Cyber Command and the NSA.

    • When you [are not allowed to] tell the truth, anonymity is your rescue

      You could be fired from your job, you could be shunned, you could lose friends, even family. And still, these things may be important to say, or at least, they could be important enough to communicate to whomever is willing to listen, that you feel this must be done.

      It could be evidence of corruption in the government. It could be evidence of crimes. It could be any material that somebody powerful simply doesn’t want to exist, much less for others to see and read.

      This is where anonymity comes into play.

    • AccuWeather iOS app sends info to data monetisation firm: claim

      A security researcher claims that the AccuWeather app for iOS leaks information to a third-party site, with GPS co-ordinates and router information among the data leaked.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Charlottesville, far-right rallies, racism and relating to power

      As someone who has spent my academic career working on the American far-right, I was shocked, but not surprised by the Unite the Right rally and scenes of (tiki) torch wielding, swastika bearing and sieg heiling ‘alt-right’ ‘activists’, white nationalists and fascists marching through Charlottesville, Virginia on 12 August 2017. The rally, ‘protest’ or ‘riot’ as it has been described, was organized by alt-right white nationalist figurehead Jason Kessler in defense of the statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee located in Emancipation Park. This followed a Klan rally about the statue in the same city on 8 July.

      The battle over confederate monuments was reignited following Dylann Roof’s attack on the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina on 17 June 2015. Images of Roof with the flag sparked calls for the removal of such symbols, which led to opposition from the far-right. Unite the Right was also, as the name indicates, an attempt to unite diverse and disparate far-right groups and movements to build upon their already established unity around President Trump and present a show of force. Those attending ranged from neo-confederates, neo-Nazis and Identitarians to militias, and included Ku Klux Klan groups and former Grand Dragon David Duke, the neo-Confederate League of the South, Daily Stormer clubs, the National Socialist Movement, alt-right figurehead Richard Spencer, the Fraternal Order of Alt-Knights, Traditionalist Youth Network and Traditionalist Worker Party with leader Matthew Heimbach, Vanguard America, American Guard and leader Augustus Invictus, the Nationalist Front, Identity Evropa, Anti-Communist Action, the 3 Percenters, and Oath Keepers, as well as various state militias.

    • How “Both Sides” Forge U.S. Supremacy: the Nationalistic Hypocrisies of “Violence” and “Free Speech”

      Many have focused on President Donald Trump’s statements on Charlottesville condemning the “violence” from “both sides”. Which is understandable, since the killing of Heather Heyer and overwhelming violence came from white supremacists. But virtually no one has scrutinized the first half of his remarks: Trump criticizing the “violence” of others.

      How is it that Trump is designated to be in a position of judging the perpetrators of violence? The U.S. government is regularly bombing a number of countries. Just last week, Trump threatened North Korea with nuclear destruction in unusually blunt language — “fire and fury” rather than the typical Obama administration veiled nuclear attack code lingo “all options are on the table”.

      On Monday, the same day Trump read a scripted condemnation of white supremacist violence, Airwars.org reported that in Syria: “Marwa, Mariam and Ahmad Mazen died with their mother and 19 other civilians in a likely Coalition strike at Raqqa.”

      You’d be hard pressed to find a “news” story about them. That’s the concern with the effects of “violence” when it emanates from the U.S. government.

      But the threats and use of violence are not new, nor is the hypocrisy. As he was ordering the ongoing bombing of Yugoslavia in 1999, President Bill Clinton took time out of his schedule to address the shooting at Columbine High School: “We must do more to reach out to our children and teach them to express their anger and to resolve their conflicts with words, not weapons.”

      Such outbreaks of domestic political violence are used not as openings for introspection about longstanding violence in U.S. society, but for rallying cries to uphold alleged virtues of the nation. The recent attacks are “repugnant to everything we hold dear as Americans” Trump claims.

    • The untold stories of women in the 1967 Detroit rebellion and its aftermath

      The history of police brutality in Detroit is long and complex, but at no time have men or boys been the exclusive targets of their violence. In the early morning hours of July 5, 1963, police stopped Cynthia Scott and a male companion as they walked down John R Street near Edmond Place.

    • There Is No Such Thing as ‘White Pride’
    • Two Sides to Every Issue: the Tedium Twins Debate the Crucifixion, Slavery and Cannibalism

      This is the mind-set behind “MacNeil/Lehrer,’ “I have my own instinctive aversion to being snowed,” he writes at another point. “The more I hear everyone telling me that some public person is wonderful, the more I ask myself, Can he really be all that wonderful? Conversely [for MacNeil there is always a “conversely” poking its head round the door], I never believe anyone can be quite as consistently terrible as his reputation.”

    • Amos Yee’s journey to the West

      So, Amos Yee is in jail.

    • Tens of thousands protest in Hong Kong over jailing of democracy activists

      On Thursday, Joshua Wong, 20, Nathan Law, 24 and Alex Chow, 27, were jailed for six to eight months for unlawful assembly, dealing a blow to the youth-led push for universal suffrage and prompting accusations of political interference.

    • Racist Masks Ripped Off in Charlottesville

      Unequivocally opposing white supremacists in all their manifestations: Ku Klux Klan, Nazis and militias should be a moral reflex. Terms like “white nationalism” and “Alt-Right” are fuzzy euphemisms. Blunt clarity is required. What we saw in Charlottesville, Virginia are white supremacist domestic terrorists.

      In May, the FBI warned of the rising tide of far-right extremists.

      Since September 11, 2001 through the end of December 2016, white supremacist domestic terrorism have been far higher than domestic terrorism by Muslims: 74% white supremacists vs. 26% by Muslims.

    • Discovering Racism and Then Discovering It Anew

      The idea of people with different skin color having to drink from different water fountains seemed bizarre to me, and I remember going to the colored fountain, more out of curiosity than rebelliousness, because I wanted to see if the water was different. (I don’t know what I expected: colored water?) My mother got upset — I suspect because from her upbringing she was used to such things and probably worried that it might create a scene.

    • Creative Anti-Nazism

      The people of Wunsiedel, German, have the right idea. They’ve responded to Nazi marches by funding anti-Nazi groups for every Nazi marcher, and cheering on and thanking the marchers.

      The people of Richardson, Texas, have the right idea. Members of a mosque intervened between anti-Muslim demonstrators and violent would-be defenders, and left the rally with the anti-Muslims to discuss their differences at a restaurant.

    • How can Russia’s left work with Navalny?

      In understanding the opportunities which stand before Russia’s left opposition, we should draw a line between the movement for democratisation and against Putin, on one side, and the figure of Navalny on the other. Naturally, we must to support the movement for democracy and against authoritarianism and corruption. This movement in Russia has become newly energised, expanding even further after the protests of 26 March and 12 June, when thousands of people came out into the streets, not just of Moscow and St Petersburg, but of cities in the regions as well. It goes without saying that this is a progressive movement, and that its growth is one of Russia’s few realistic chances for social and political change from below.

    • The fight for decent work: a need for new models

      I’m Uma Rani, and I work at the research department of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) as a senior development economist. I work on issues related to the informal economy, poverty, inequality, and global supply chains, and much more recently on new forms of work, like the gig platform economy. So this is my area of expertise and I look at it from a development economist’s perspective.

    • A Plea for Nonviolence: Fighting Fascism in Trump’s America

      The violence that accompanied recent white supremacist protest in Charlottesville, Virginia is merely the opening salvo in a larger conflict between those advocating fascism and those committed to human decency, equality, and democracy. And with white nationalist fascists planning more rallies to come, it’s a foregone conclusion that the violence in Charlottesville will continue. Considering this trajectory, I thought it fitting to promote a dialogue regarding specifically what “the left” in the U.S. stands for, and should seek to accomplish, moving forward.

    • The Virtues of Tearing Down Statues Depends on Where They are Standing

      As a result, while Mao statues had been ubiquitous all over China only a decade earlier, by the time I arrived (20 years after having graduated with a degree in Chinese language and plans to go to China to witness and write about the “glories” of the Cultural Revolution), I found in Shanghai only two remaining statues of the Chairman — one inside the entrance gate to Tongji University, a technical school, and one inside the front gate of Fudan University.

    • The right to blasphemy: is this the boundary between civilisation and barbarism?

      Zineb El Rhazoui at the London conference. Photo: Victoria Gugenheim.In heated debates following the 2015 massacre at Charlie Hebdo, apologists for the violence condemned the ‘racism’ of its cartoons. Staff of the French satirical magazine were frequently presented as part of a white racist left.

      But how many people knew that – along with an Algerian copy-editor, Mustapha Ourrad – there was a young Moroccan woman, a journalist named Zineb El Rhazoui, on its payroll?

      This question reeks of the worst kind of identity politics – it shouldn’t matter whether there were Muslims on the staff if we believe that religion is fair game for satirists. Though it does make it harder for allegations of racism to stick.

      El Rhazoui wrote the text for a 2013 special issue of the magazine including a comic-strip retelling of the life of Muhammed.

    • Fairy-tales in illiberal times: Hungary, George Soros and the politics of conspiracy

      For centuries, everywhere, dark fairy-tales have been used to condition kids not to get lost in the dark, talk to strangers or disobey their parents. They usually follow the same logic by constructing a dark and evil world outside the confines of one’s own home so children behave and accept the conditions of their community, especially the ones of their parents, not daring to question them.

      These days, scaring children to belief in a dark and dangerous world may be regarded as bad parenting. This does not stop the Hungarian government to use the same logic into scaring its own citizens of a dangerous and evil world to make them accept the more than problematic domestic status quo.

      The evil frog in the government’s storyline is George Soros. For several weeks in July, Hungary was covered in a multi-million dollar government funded poster campaign, with the larger than life portrait of George Soros, proclaiming not to let Soros have the last laugh. What should George Soros be laughing about during times in which the government threatens the existence of the university he created and the civil society organisations he helps to fund?

      According to the government, Soros is plotting a conspiracy to let millions of refugees into Hungary. Obviously, this allegation is false. In mid-2016, George Soros outlined his ideas on how to resolve the refugee crisis. He argued that the EU should set an annual target of 300,000 to 500,000 refugees to be granted protection in the EU (in 2016 more than 700,000 refugees were granted protection in the EU) and to be distributed voluntarily among member states. This is nowhere close to what the government is claiming.

    • When Hate Meets Hoax

      After a string of racist messages rocked a college in Minnesota, a fabricated note introduced a toxic sense of uncertainty that undermined attempts to address a serious social problem.

    • The Corruption of the Law

      Stone repeatedly warned that unchecked corporate power would mean corporate tyranny and the death of democracy. He was joined in that thinking by Louis D. Brandeis, his fellow justice and ally on the court, who stated, “We can have democracy in this country, or we can have great wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can’t have both.”

      The supposed clash between liberal and conservative judges is largely a fiction. The judiciary, despite the Federalist Society’s high-blown rhetoric about the sanctity of individual freedom, is a naked tool of corporate oppression. The most basic constitutional rights—privacy, fair trials and elections, habeas corpus, probable-cause requirements, due process and freedom from exploitation—have been erased for many, especially the 2.3 million people in our prisons, most having been put there without ever going to trial. Constitutionally protected statements, beliefs and associations are criminalized. Our judicial system, as Ralph Nader has pointed out, has legalized secret law, secret courts, secret evidence, secret budgets and secret prisons in the name of national security.

    • Washington Watch: Charlottesville and Beyond: The Never-ending Struggle

      The tragic and deeply disturbing events in Charlottesville last week provoked a debate as old as America, itself. Our nation watched as a motley collection of bigots descended on that town, ostensibly to “save” the statues of their Confederate heroes. Some were armed, and many chanted Nazi-era slogans about racial purity and their definition of “true Americanism”. They were confronted by opponents who responded with affirmations of what they called “American values” of diversity and tolerance.

    • Home Office used charity data map to deport rough sleepers

      The Home Office secretly acquired sensitive data, showing the nationality of people sleeping rough on the streets, in order to remove them from Britain, the Observer can reveal.

      [...]

      Human rights group Liberty said the Home Office’s behaviour demonstrated a “crisis of compassion” within the UK’s political system. It is making an official complaint to the European commission.

    • Terror laws should be scrapped, says Government’s independent reviewer of terrorism legislation

      The Government should consider abolishing all anti-terror laws as they are “unnecessary” in the fight against extremists, the barrister tasked with reviewing Britain’s terrorism legislation has said.

      Speaking exclusively to The Independent before this week’s attacks in Spain in which 14 people were killed in vehicle rammings in Barcelona and the nearby coastal town of Cambrils, Max Hill QC, the Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation, argued potential jihadis can be stopped with existing “general” laws that are not always being used effectively to take threats off the streets.

    • Moms’ Group Sounds Alarm Over Worst GOP Bill “You’ve Never Heard Of”

      The environmental group Clean Air Moms Action released a new ad campaign Monday urging voters to fight back against two pending Republican anti-regulation laws.

      The ad is being run in five states where Democratic incumbent senators will be up for re-election in highly-anticipated races in 2018. It features car safety advocate Janette Fennell, who shares a personal story of how an automobile regulation saved her life—the kind of regulation that could be at risk if Congress passes the Regulatory Accountability Act (RAA) and the Regulations from the Executive in Need of Scrutiny (REINS) Act.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • Why The Internet Is About To Change For The Worse

      Great question! While others worry about net neutrality (and that is a big deal!), I say there is a much more imminent threat to the “free” (as in no-cost) internet: The slow collapse of web advertising. This is actually happening much faster than any hypothetical nightmare scenario net neutrality supporters warned us of … and there’s nobody we can lobby to fix it.

    • Tech Journalists Keep Completely Missing The Point Of Cord Cutting

      It has become the laziest “hot take” in technology media. Once a month or so, a writer decides to subscribe to as many streaming video services as possible. They then proudly declare that this whole cord cutting thing (ditching traditional cable TV for streaming video) is a waste of time. Why? For whatever reason, these writers feel compelled to try and use streaming alternatives to perfectly mirror the existing, bloated cable bundle consumers have spent two decades complaining about, only to shockingly wind up disappointed by the cost (gosh, it’s almost as if broadcasters dictate the pricing for both services!).

      Each time one of these stories pops up (from Gizmodo to USAToday,) we note how these writers are completely missing the point. Cord cutters aren’t trying to precisely mirror traditional cable bundle, they’re simply looking for greater flexibility. Cord cutting provides just that, in that if you don’t like sports — for example — you don’t have to subscribe to any services that offer it. As such, “cord cutting is really expensive when I subscribe to every streaming service in the known universe” is just an odd narrative that just keeps bubbling up across various media outlets despite not really making much sense.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Trademarks

      • When “mayo” is not manyonnaise, yet still is mayonnnaise: All a matter of the label?

        Let’s first start with the trademark aspect. As it appears on the on-line USPTO registry, the mark JUST MAYO was registered (no. 4786403) on August 4, 2015, for “vegetable-based spreads”, in class 29 and “egg-and dairy-free mayonnaise; salad dressing”, in class 30. The mark seems to have gone through examination without any descriptiveness or misdescriptiveness objection, despite that the word “mayo” is recognized as shortened form of “mayonnaise”. This Kat suspects that the fact that the word “mayo” was disclaimed in accordance with US practice (“no claim is made to the exclusive right to use ‘mayo’ apart from the mark as shown”) eased the potential problem of the word being deemed as descriptive or misdescriptive.

      • Petition filed in US Supreme Court to drop the Google trademark, claims Google is a generic word for search

        The US Supreme Court has received a petition which seeks removal of Google as a trademark as the petitioners believe that the trademark has become a generic word over the years.

      • Supreme Court asked to nullify the Google trademark

        Is the term “google” too generic and therefore unworthy of its trademark protection? That’s the question before the US Supreme Court.

        Words like teleprompter, thermos, hoover, aspirin, and videotape were once trademarked. They lost the status after their names became too generic and fell victim to what is known as “genericide.”

        What’s before the Supreme Court is a trademark lawsuit that Google already defeated in a lower court. The lawsuit claims that Google should no longer be trademarked because the word “google” is synonymous to the public with the term “search the Internet.”

    • Copyrights

      • A Google Tax Isn’t Going To Give Publishers The Payout They Think It Will

        Somehow newspaper publishers — especially those located in Europe — believe the road to recovery is paved with income siphoned off Google. There have been plenty of proposed “snippet taxes” and other demands Google pay online publications for sending traffic their way. So far, nothing has panned out as the papers had hoped. In extreme cases, Google has offered to just stop sending any traffic their way by pulling out of the snippet-taxed market.

        The newspapers claim Google would be nothing without them, which is, at best, extremely dubious. There’s a wealth of news and information out there that doesn’t come from legacy newspaper publishers. The internet isn’t going to be bereft of news services if certain papers decide to pull the plug because Google isn’t propping them up.

        But even if they were right about this, there’s a very good chance Google can’t save them from drying up and blowing away. Media consultant Thomas Baekdal has done the math on proposed snippet taxes. Even with Google serving up more than a trillion search results a year, there’s no money in taxing clicks.

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