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08.23.17

Links 23/8/2017: Chrome OS For Work, GNOME 3.25.91

Posted in News Roundup at 11:24 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

Free Software/Open Source

  • The cloud could drive open source out of the enterprise

    For a decade, there’s a question that just won’t go away: Is the cloud killing open source? It still strikes up some emotions.

    Open source software has been the backbone of enterprise platforms for a long time—remember the LAMP stack of Linux, Apache, MySQL, and PHP/Perl? But consuming open source software via the cloud could change open source’s enterprise footprint.

  • New open-source software for analyzing intact proteins

    In analyzing over 3,000 proteoforms in two breast cancer subtypes, the PNNL authors saw that their new software tool found ten times more differentially expressed proteoforms compared to a recent top-down analysis using a different method.

  • Guest Post: Building commercial open source robots, from prototype to production

    Developing any new robot and taking it to production is hard – even if you’re using the Robot Operating System (ROS) to help streamline development – so why make it even harder?

    I see numerous examples of robotics companies devoting everything to development and ignoring the important questions raised as they approach production. As soon as the commercial pressure is on, there is a tendency for businesses to just “ship what they have”, leaving the IoT market packed full of devices with hard-coded credentials, unencrypted development keys, various security vulnerabilities, and no update path.

  • Want to be a Software Industry Influencer? Get Involved in Open Source

    SD Times recently recognized The Linux Foundation among the top innovators and leaders in software development in its annual SD Times 100 list.

    The LF was honored to be named a top Influencer, along with ten other industry heavyweights including Apple, Facebook, GitHub, Google, IBM, Intel, Microsoft, Netflix, Red Hat, and Slack.

    Does this list look familiar? It should. Each of the companies on the influencers list makes significant contributions to the open source community (bonus points for those who know that most are also members of The Linux Foundation).

    Open source has long been a de facto standard for development and the companies on the influencers list pioneered this approach with their own products and services. At the same time, they have led the IT revolution in massively scalable cloud computing, AI, social networking, and many other innovations, and continue to do so. This is not a coincidence.

  • Open Source For Business: Companies Can Turn To Open Source

    For organizations of any size, there come a point in building out an IT architecture where one has to decide to trust the closed, commercial systems provided by vendors or the open source community that relies on code amassed from people all over the world.

    The latter is a concept that can create hang ups for some—the idea of open anything maybe give a business owner pause and people have raised security concerns about the option for years. But organizations of any size can embrace open source and, in most cases, improve daily operations and become more secure as a result.

  • Why open source should be the first choice for cloud-native environments

    Let’s take a trip back in time to the 1990s, when proprietary software reigned, but open source was starting to come into its own. What caused this switch, and more importantly, what can we learn from it today as we shift into cloud-native environments?

  • Asian telcos forging ahead with open source NFV

    Telcos in Asia Pacific are engaged in what ABI Research describes as an NFV ‘flurry’. It claims the CSPs are actively virtualizing their network architectures and to find that out ABI hints it may have been tracking developments in the way that analysts and technical journalists do in other open source-dominated sectors. By peeking into the open source communities’ repositories and information exchanges to get a feel for what’s going on.

    Nothing wrong with that. It’s ‘open’ after all and expect to read more of this approach in the months and years ahead as Open Source NFV really starts to take hold.

  • Open source security software on GovCloud

    Netgate, provider of open source firewalls and security gateways, has announced the availability of its pfSense firewall on Amazon’s GovCloud (US).

    The AWS GovCloud Marketplace enables government agencies, educational institutions, and non-profits to discover software that can support their cloud-based regulated workloads. It is an isolated AWS region designed to host sensitive data and regulated workloads in the cloud, assisting customers who have government, education, or non-profit compliance requirements.

  • Events

    • NetDev 2.2 registration is now open
    • Technoshamanism in the Dome of Visions, Aarhus – review
    • Session Lineup Announced for Open Source Summit Europe and Embedded Linux Conference Europe [Ed: Microsoft has managed to infiltrate another Linux Foundation event; attacking GNU/Linux while speaking 'for' it]
    • See Session Highlights for Upcoming OS Summit and Embedded Linux Conference in Prague

      Check out the newly released conference schedules for Open Source Summit Europe and the co-located Embedded Linux Conference Europe, taking place simultaneously October 23-26 in Prague, Czech Republic. This year’s lineup features more than 200 sessions presented by experts from Comcast, Docker, Red Hat, Siemens AG, Amazon, and more.

      Open Source Summit Europe combines LinuxCon, ContainerCon, and CloudOpen conferences with the all new Open Community Conference and Diversity Empowerment Summit and is the premier open source technical conference in Europe, gathering 2,000 developers, admins, and community leadership professionals to collaborate, share information and learn about the latest in open technologies.

    • Recap: Workshop of GNOME on Fedora at CONECIT 2017

      CONECIT 2017 (held at UNAS in Tingo Maria, Peru) included in this edition several workshops and one of them was about Linux, with GNOME and Fedora. I must thank to the organization and the volunteers that helped me before the workshop. Special thanks to Jhon Fitzgerald during the installation of Fedora 26, updating packages and programs.

    • CONECIT 2017: Conferences, Workshops and Jungle Tours

      Workshops and contests were also part of the event during the week and thanks the organizers to support the presentation of our local team from Lima Fedora + GNOME We were doing some tests since the previous day and two hours before the Fedora + GNOME workshop. It was nice to see students and teachers of universities so interested in learning Linux

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • The Battle to Save Net Neutrality: A Panel with Tom Wheeler, Ro Khanna, Mozilla, Leading TV Producers and Others

        In May, the FCC voted to move forward with plans to gut net neutrality. It was a decision met with furor: Since then, many millions of Americans have written, phoned and petitioned the FCC, demanding an internet that belongs to individual users, not broadband ISP gatekeepers. And scores of nonprofits and technology companies have organized to amplify Americans’ voices.

        The first net neutrality public comment period ends on August 30, and the FCC is moving closer to a vote.

        So on Monday, September 18, Mozilla is gathering leaders at the forefront of protecting net neutrality. We’ll discuss why it matters, what lies ahead, and what can be done to protect it.

      • Inside a super fast CSS engine: Quantum CSS (aka Stylo)

        You may have heard of Project Quantum… it’s a major rewrite of Firefox’s internals to make Firefox fast. We’re swapping in parts from our experimental browser, Servo, and making massive improvements to other parts of the engine.

      • Mozilla’s Push For Super Fast CSS With Quantum/Stylo

        Since the end of July Stylo has been available via Firefox Nightly as the Rust-written Servo CSS style system. For those curious about this modern CSS system and the broader effort as part of bringing Servo/Quantum components to Firefox, Mozilla has out an interesting blog post.

  • Databases

    • SQLite: The Universal SQL Database Engine

      Today’s quiz is: What’s the most popular database of all? MySQL? Nope. Oracle Database? Nah. Microsoft SQL Server? Try again. IBM DB/2? Wrong. Arguably the most popular database of all is SQLite.

      Never even heard of it? Find that hard to believe? SQLite’s inside every smartphone, macOS and Windows; and the Chrome, Firefox, and Opera web browser. The reason you haven’t heard of it is because it’s hidden inside the code of numerous operating systems and programs. There, the SQLite C library provides database services for applications.

      This public-domain — not open-source — software is not a database server. Instead, embedded within programs, it provides standard SQL-92 database management server (DBMS) servers without the server part.

  • Healthcare

    • Open source EHR platform tailored to treat Ebola patients

      An open-source electronic health record system developed to treat Ebola patients during the recent epidemic in West Africa is being touted as a potential solution for clinical data collection in highly infectious environments and resource-constrained healthcare settings.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

  • Funding

  • BSD

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC

    • GnuTLS 3.6.0 released

      We are proud to announce a new GnuTLS release: Version 3.6.0.

      GnuTLS is a modern C library that implements the standard network security protocol Transport Layer Security (TLS), for use by network applications. GnuTLS is developed for GNU/Linux, but works on many Unix-like systems as well as Windows.

      The GnuTLS library is distributed under the terms of the GNU Lesser General Public License version 2 (or later).

  • Licensing/Legal

    • Apache Foundation and Facebook in Standoff Over React.js License

      Here’s a story that has the two things that open source advocates like to fight about discuss most: licenses and software patents. It started on July 15 when the Apache Foundation’s legal affairs director, Chris Mattmann, made a comment to a thread on a discussion board that began two months discussing a little quirk that had been found in the wording of Facebook’s open source BSD-plus-Patents license.

      [...] Most likely, the fallout is just beginning for Facebook. Now that the license has been closely examined, there’s a good chance that it will be found to be incompatible with other “permissive” open source licenses as well. Perhaps more damage will come from large corporations with considerable patent portfolios that have integrated Facebook’s open source projects into their own data centers. Remember, React.js is being used practically everywhere.

      In other words, stay tuned. This probably isn’t over yet.

    • If you’re a startup, you should not use React (reflecting on the BSD + patents license)

      Facebook is nearly alone in the industry in the use of this license. Here is the article. Judge for yourself.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

    • 4 open principles for building a better startup

      But like all startups, we eventually needed to hire more people to help our organization grow. And that meant scaling our fast-paced, open, and collaborative culture to new colleagues. How were we going to do that?

    • Open Data

      • 3Blades Launches Open-Source Data Science Platform with Tool-Agnostic Integration at Jupytercon

        Hugo Contreras-Palacios, Ph.D., a Data Scientist at Stanley Black & Decker says, “In this quickly changing environment where ongoing skill development is critical, 3Blades has become an essential learning tool that allows our staff to experience big data technologies and techniques instead of just reading about them. At the end of their course, once they develop big data skills, 3Blades provides a collaborative environment where they can quickly begin applying what they have learned. The open source code base and easy to use API made it simple to integrate 3Blades safely into our internal environment. Thank you, 3Blades!”

      • Sweden Archives assists with govt document reuse

        The National Archives proposes to publish the lists of public sector documents in the country’s national open data portal, Öppna Data.

    • Open Access/Content

    • Open Hardware/Modding

      • Open Source Turtle Rover Robot Land Drone Launches On Kickstarter (video)

        An interesting new open source robot has been launched by a Kickstarter today which takes the form of the Turtle Rover created by Kell Ideas. The robot land drone chassis can be equipped with a wide variety of different modules including a robotic arm, HD camera and more.

        The remote-controlled robot rover can be used to explore those small unattainable areas and can be programmed using the revolutionary open platform and adapted to suit your very own requirements.

      • Interview with Chris Korda: 3D printing pottery, open-source software and activism

        Chris Korda is an activist, techno musician and software developer. She is credited with developing programs for the world’s first color 3D printer in 2004 during her term at Z Corporation, which was bought by 3D Systems in January 2012.

  • Programming/Development

    • GSOC 2017 coming to an end

      Having entered the final week of the GSOC calendar, it is time to wrap things up and reflect on what I’ve accomplished this summer.

    • Oracle Looking to Move Java EE to Open Source Foundation

      Oracle is planning to move leadership and ongoing development of the Java EE platform to an open source foundation. The move will follow the next release, JEE 8, which is due out this summer. The company says they will continue to support Weblogic Server, which is built on JEE standards.

      In a blog post for the JEE Community, Oracle Java EE evangelist David Delabassee said that moving the platform to an open source foundation will be a way to change the governance process and bring benefits such as more agile processes and more flexible licensing. These are areas where development of Java EE has been seen as deficient when compared to other open source communities. The move will also include the test compatibility kit and reference implementations.

    • Opening Up Java EE

      We continue to make great progress on Java EE 8. Specifications are nearly complete, and we expect to deliver the reference implementation this summer. As we approach the delivery of Java EE 8 and the JavaOne 2017 conference, we believe there is an opportunity to rethink how Java EE is developed in order to make it more agile and responsive to changing industry and technology demands.

    • Trending Developer Skills, Based on my Analysis of “Ask HN: Who’s Hiring?”

      For people learning to code and for experienced software developers alike, change is constant. There is always something new to learn. This includes programming languages, web frameworks, DevOps automation, mobile devices, front-end and back-end development, SQL and NoSQL databases, and so on.

    • modulemd 1.3.0

      I almost forgot! Last week I released modulemd-1.3.0, the module metadata format specification and its reference Python implementation.

      This release defines just three new fields but all of them are pretty important.

    • Foundation Java EE: The Community Reacts

      Oracle Corp. grabbed headlines last week with a post on The Aquarium blog, in which the steward of Java proposed moving Java EE to an open source foundation, such as the Eclipse Foundation or the Apache Software Foundation.

      The post reads: “We believe that moving Java EE technologies, including reference implementations and test compatibility kit, to an open source foundation may be the right next step, in order to adopt more agile processes, implement more flexible licensing, and change the governance process.”

    • Java EE To Get Open Source Foundation

      Oracle intends to move stewardship of Java EE (Enterprise Edition) to a third party existing foundation after the official release of Java EE 8 later this year.

Leftovers

  • Woman: My Uber driver went wrong way, I said something, he pushed me out

    According to Courthouse News Service, Uber has been sued at least 433 times in 2017.

  • Woman Says Uber Driver Pushed Her From Speeding Car
  • Science

    • Universities are broke. So let’s cut the pointless admin and get back to teaching

      Underlying all this bad news is an often overlooked fact. Universities have been growing for a decade, but most of the resources fuelling that growth have gone into expanding university administration, not faculty. One US study found that between 1975 and 2008, the number of faculty had grown about 10% while the number of administrators had grown 221%. In the UK, two thirds of universities now have more administrators than they do faculty staff. One higher education policy expert has predicted the birth of the “all-administrative university”.

    • When it comes to controversial science, a little knowledge is a problem

      For a lot of scientific topics, there’s a big gap between what scientists understand and what the public thinks it knows. For a number of these topics—climate change and evolution are prominent examples—this divide develops along cultural lines, typically religious or political identity.

      It would be reassuring to think that the gap is simply a matter of a lack of information. Get the people with doubts about science up to speed, and they’d see things the way that scientists do. Reassuring, but wrong. A variety of studies have indicated that the public’s doubts about most scientific topics have nothing to do with how much they understand that topic. And a new study out this week joins a number of earlier ones in indicating that scientific knowledge makes it easier for those who are culturally inclined to reject a scientific consensus.

    • Pets behaving badly: Why smartphones are turning our dogs barking mad

      “And because you haven’t given a response, as you’re engrossed in your phone, the dog simply goes ahead and does what it wants. It needs reassurance from you to say either ‘yes it’s okay’, or ‘no, stay here’. If you don’t provide that input you’re making it anxious and also asking for behaviour issues in the long term”, she said.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Tories Under Fire Over NHS Cuts As Andrea Leadsom Lobbies Jeremy Hunt To Halt Local Hospital Downgrade

      Tory MPs have been dubbed “wildly hypocritical” over NHS cuts after it emerged that Cabinet minister Andrea Leadsom is lobbying Jeremy Hunt over the downgrade of her hospital.

      Leadsom, the Leader of the Commons, has written to the Health Secretary to urge him to review a decision to axe a consultant-led maternity unit at Horton General Hospital in Banbury, Oxfordshire.

      A local clinical commissioning group decided this month to make permanent a downgrade to a midwife-led unit, prompting angry warnings from campaigners that mothers with high risk births face 90-minute journeys to the nearest hospital in Oxford.

    • India Grants Pfizer Patent On Pneumonia Vaccine, Stokes Fear Of Unaffordability

      India has granted Pfizer Inc a patent for its powerful pneumonia vaccine Prevenar 13, in a blow to some health groups that said this would put the treatment out of reach of thousands in poorer nations.

      The decision by India’s patent office bars other companies from making cheaper copies of the vaccine and allows Pfizer to exclusively sell it in India until 2026.

      It’s a big victory for the US drugmaker in a market that has the world’s largest number of pneumonia cases, a lung disease that kills nearly a million children a year globally.

    • Doctors Warm To Single-Payer Health Care

      Single-payer health care is still a controversial idea in the U.S., but a majority of physicians are moving to support it, a new survey finds.

      Fifty-six percent of doctors registered either strong support or were somewhat supportive of a single-payer health system, according to the survey by Merritt Hawkins, a physician recruitment firm. In its 2008 survey, opinions ran the opposite way — 58 percent opposed single-payer. What’s changed?

      Red tape, doctors tell Merritt Hawkins. Phillip Miller, the firm’s vice president of communications, said that in the thousands of conversations its employees have with doctors each year, physicians often say they are tired of dealing with billing and paperwork, which takes time away from patients.

    • Jury awards $417M to woman who says she got cancer from talc in baby powder

      A Los Angeles jury awarded a woman a $417 million verdict yesterday. The jury found that Johnson & Johnson failed to adequately warn users of the cancer risks of the talc in its baby powder.

      The jury’s 9-3 vote to hold J&J liable for not warning Eva Echeverria about cancer risks is a huge blow to the company, which is facing thousands of such claims across the country. The verdict consists of $70 million in compensatory damages and $347 million in punitive damages, according to Reuters.

      No clear link connects talcum powder to ovarian cancer. Some case-control studies, based on asking women who have ovarian cancer about their history, have found a slightly increased risk. But as the American Cancer Society notes, those kinds of studies can be biased because they rely on a person’s memory of talc use years after the fact.

    • J&J ordered to pay $417 million in trial over talc cancer risks

      A California jury on Monday ordered Johnson & Johnson to pay $417 million to a woman who claimed she developed ovarian cancer after using the company’s talc-based products like Johnson’s Baby Powder for feminine hygiene.

      The Los Angeles Superior Court jury’s verdict in favor of California resident Eva Echeverria was the largest yet in lawsuits alleging J&J failed to adequately warn consumers about the cancer risks of its talc-based products.

    • Italy’s Water Crisis is a Private Affair

      The most symbolic evidence of the water crisis facing Italy this summer was the dry fountains visiting in Saint Peter’s Square. Visiting tourists or pilgrims found not a drop of water flowing in the two fontane by 17th-century sculptors Carlo Maderno and Gian Lorenzo Bernini.

      Sky-high temperatures have crippled farms and left Rome considering water rationing. Last month, ten regions across the country called for a state of emergency. Italy has suffered the second-driest spring in 60 years and rainfall in the first six months of the year fell 33 percent. This has deprived Italy of 20 billion cubic metres of water so far this year—the equivalent of Lake Como.

  • Security

  • Defence/Aggression

    • Syrian Civilians Brace for Humanitarian Disaster in a Final Confrontation Between Assad and Jihadists

      Six years after revolt first broke out in cities and villages across Syria, the regime of President Bashar al-Assad has rolled back the fractious opposition to its rule and regained control of almost every major population center in the country — except one, the northwestern province of Idlib.

      Once famous for its olive groves and archaeological ruins, Idlib is now the last redoubt of Islamist opposition to Assad. The capital, Idlib City, has been under Islamist control since 2015, and today the two million people living in the province — many of them refugees from other parts of the country – could be caught up in a disastrous final confrontation between jihadists and the Assad regime.

      Ahmad Awad, a civil society activist, was deported to Idlib by the Syrian regime as part of a brokered agreement earlier this year, when government forces retook his rebel-held hometown of Madaya. Awad, who became an activist during the revolution, had survived a years-long starvation siege and initially, he told The Intercept, “comparing to the circumstances I went through in Madaya, I was very happy when I reached Idlib.

    • All the Times Donald Trump Said the U.S. Should Get Out of Afghanistan

      For years as a reality TV star, Donald Trump demanded that the United States leave Afghanistan. Among other things, he said that the U.S. had “wasted an enormous amount of blood and treasure” and “wasted lives” there, that the war was “nonsense,” and that instead we should “rebuild the USA.”

      On Monday night, as president, Trump is expected to announce that he’s sending several thousand more American troops to fight in the 16-year war.

      There are currently about 8,400 U.S. soldiers stationed there, as well as approximately 6,000 from other members of NATO. The number of American troops in Afghanistan peaked at 100,000 in 2011. A total of 3,539 coalition soldiers have died during the war.

    • Donald Trump’s New Afghanistan Plan Promises More Killing — And Little Else

      President Donald Trump was set to announce an escalation of 4,000 troops in Afghanistan during a primetime address Monday night where he planned to clarify his policy on the 16-year war he inherited from the two previous presidents.

      Trump, however, did neither. His audience was left with nothing but excuses and contradictions. Trump refused to say how many troops he was sending, or set any goals or timetables for their withdrawal. “We are not nation-building again,” he stressed, boasting that “we are going to participate in economic development to help defray the cost of this war to us.”

      Amid all the contradictions, though, Trump did make one aspect of his policy absolutely clear: The U.S. would kill more people in Afghanistan. “We are killing terrorists,” he said. “Retribution will be fast and powerful as we lift restrictions and expand authorities.”

      Trump has already expanded U.S. bombing campaigns throughout the Middle East, authorizing drone strikes at a rate five times that of his predecessor, Barack Obama. Civilian casualties in the war against ISIS are on track to double under Trump, according to the research by the group Airwars.

    • My Antiwar Awakening From a Boozing Baltimore Vet

      He was an Army veteran who talked of being pinned down for weeks in Korea after the North Korean Army launched a surprise attack in 1950 that threw American foreign policy into chaos. Bobie finally got respite on that campaign after Gen. Douglas MacArthur carried out a massive landing at Inchon, outflanking the North Korean army. He did not say much else about the Korean War — which might have seemed like a thousand years ago to him (and to most contemporary Americans).

      But it was in Vietnam where Bobie’s soul got shredded. He was on patrol one day — part of the Johnson administration’s strategy to use U.S. troops as bait to flush out the Viet Cong and North Vietnamese regulars into firefights. Bobie said he saw a young Vietnamese girl standing nearby knee-deep in a river. He feared she had a grenade behind her back so he cut her down with his M-16. He wept uncontrollably after he and his buddies searched the scrawny ten-year-old’s corpse and discovered she was unarmed. That girl achieved eternal life in Bobie’s nightmares.

    • A 911 plea for help, a Taser shot, a death – and the mounting toll of stun guns

      Part 1: In the most detailed study ever of fatalities and litigation involving police use of stun guns, Reuters finds more than 150 autopsy reports citing Tasers as a cause or contributor to deaths across America. Behind the fatalities is a sobering reality: Many who die are among society’s vulnerable – unarmed, in psychological distress and seeking help.

    • The New Trump: War President

      How worried should we be? The answer lies much more in Washington than in Pyongyang. The Kim regime has been almost entirely consistent in its policy: It means to keep building a credible nuclear arsenal, complete with ICBMs, until it has the capacity to deter a U.S. attack. For all its posturing and bombast, North Korea’s policy is fundamentally defensive.

    • Israel’s Alarm over Syrian Debacle

      Netanyahu is meanwhile off to the Black Sea resort of Sochi to confer with Russian President Vladimir Putin while, in Washington, Israeli military and intelligence officials are meeting with top Trump officials such as National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster and special Mideast envoy Jason Greenblatt.

      Israel has also engaged in saber-rattling with regard to a missile factory that it says Iran is building in the Syrian port city of Baniyas. Gadi Eisenkot, the Israeli military’s chief of staff, said that stopping efforts by Iran, Syria, and Hezbollah to equip themselves with accurate missiles capable of striking deep inside the Jewish state “is our top priority.”

      Adds Avigdor Lieberman, Israel’s hard-right defense minister: “We know what needs to be done…. We won’t ignore the establishment of Iranian weapons factories in Lebanon.”

    • Trump and the Geopolitics of Crazy

      The United States has beaten its head against the wall of North Korea for more than 70 years, and that wall has changed little indeed as a result. The United States, meanwhile, has suffered one headache after another.

      Over the last several weeks, the head banging has intensified. North Korea has tested a couple of possible intercontinental ballistic missiles. In response, Donald Trump has threatened that country with “fire and fury,” one-upping the rhetoric coming out of Pyongyang. And North Korean leader Kim Jong-un is debating whether to fire a missile or two into the waters around the American island of Guam as a warning of what his country is capable of doing.

      Ignore, for the moment, Trump’s off-the-cuff belligerence. Despite all their promises to overhaul North Korea policy, his top officials have closely followed the same headache-inducing pattern as their predecessors.

    • The Karma of Terror

      We have been here quite often recently. Screaming headlines, non-stop coverage in the mainstream corporate-government media which Paul Craig Roberts so aptly dubbed the “presstitutes”. Hours and hours of analysis of the event, at some point lots of information about the dead victims, endless soul-searching and a desperate spate of interviews with “experts” about how to fight this growing horror. This is not supposed to happen in The West. It is boring everyday stuff when it happens in the Middle East, Africa or Asia, but when it hits Barcelona or some other part of the empire’s heartland, the presstitutes go into overjoyed shock and scramble to present yet another extended and profitable feeding frenzy. A horrifying godsend for 24/7 media.

    • Jeremy Corbyn urges Theresa May not to ‘obediently applaud’ Donald Trump’s Afghanistan troop surge

      Jeremy Corbyn today urged Theresa May not to ‘obediently applaud’ Donald Trump’s plan for more troops to be sent to Afghanistan.

      The Labour leader said the war in Afghanistan had “failed”, and the US President’s troop surge would “continue this failure.”

      It comes after Trump last night signalled a “new strategy” for the region, increasing troop numbers and funding for America’s longest ever war.

    • How the Saudis are making it almost impossible to report on their war in Yemen

      Ten thousand people have died. The world’s largest cholera epidemic is raging, with more than 530,000 suspected cases and 2,000 related deaths. Millions more people are starving. Yet the lack of press attention on Yemen’s conflict has led it to be described as the “forgotten war”.

      The scant media coverage is not without reason, or wholly because the general public is too cold-hearted to care. It is very hard to get into Yemen. The risks for the few foreign journalists who gain access are significant. And the Saudi-led coalition waging war in the country is doing its best to make it difficult, if not impossible, to report from the area.

      Working in Sana’a as a fixer for journalists since the start of the uprisings of the so-called Arab Spring in 2011 has sometimes felt like the most difficult job in the world. When a Saudi-led coalition started bombing Yemen in support of its president, Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi, in March 2015, it became even harder.

    • The Taliban Tried to Surrender and the U.S. Rebuffed Them. Now Here We Are.

      Did you know that shortly after the U.S. invaded Afghanistan, the Taliban tried to surrender?

      For centuries in Afghanistan, when a rival force had come to power, the defeated one would put down their weapons and be integrated into the new power structure — obviously with much less power, or none at all. That’s how you do with neighbors you have to continue to live with. This isn’t a football game, where the teams go to different cities when it’s over. That may be hard for us to remember, because the U.S. hasn’t fought a protracted war on its own soil since the Civil War.

      So when the Taliban came to surrender, the U.S. turned them down repeatedly, in a series of arrogant blunders spelled out in Anand Gopal’s investigative treatment of the Afghanistan war, “No Good Men Among the Living.”

    • “Deep State” Rules on Beneath CNN Mock Shock at NapoleDon BonaTrump

      What was surprising about Donald Trump’s unhinged threats of “fire and fury” and “an event the likes of which nobody’s ever seen” on the Korean peninsula, tinged by the racist assurance (to U.S. Senator Lyndsey Graham) that the victims of any thermonuclear conflagration would be “over there” – in Asia and “not here”?

      Trump established himself long ago as one of the last people on Earth anyone would want to have his fingers near the atomic trigger.

      Candidate Trump asked why the U.S. couldn’t just use its nuclear weapons. He called for the nuclear arming of Saudi Arabia. He made juvenile racist fun of Asians in front of a hot mic.

    • UK’s Jeremy Corbyn Admits What Most in US Won’t: “War in Afghanistan Has Failed”

      The sitting generals like it. The retired generals who dominate corporate news shows appear to like it. The Beltway Establishment is impressed. Democrats like Sen. Tim Kaine of Virginia want “more details.” The neoconservatives really like it. And the weapons manufacturers are liking it all the way to the bank.

      But on Tuesday, in the wake of President Donald Trump’s newly announced strategy for the U.S. war in Afghanistan, British Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn said the new plan would only continue the “failure” of American policy in South Asia and called on Prime Minister Theresa May not to “obediently applaud” her approval nor jump on board to join in the folly.

    • Here Are the Hard Numbers on the War in Afghanistan Trump Left Out of His Speech

      Last night, President Trump was expected to announce that he would be sending several thousand more troops to Afghanistan, where the United States has been at war for 16 years and violence and corruption have become a way of life. Instead, he outlined a vague strategy meant to appease both a public weary of endless war and the military generals who are now among his top advisors.

      In his address to the nation from Fort Myer, Trump did not say how many more troops he would send to Afghanistan, or how much more money he is willing to spend on the war. He only said that restrictions on wartime spending would be lifted, and that military commanders would have the freedom to launch attacks without waiting for approval from Washington.

      Trump also refused to give a timetable for withdrawing American forces, saying only that the enemy would not be privy to when and where the US would attack. He said the “nation-building” effort in Afghanistan is over, and the US would no longer seek to forge democracies in foreign lands “in our own image.”

      [...]

      About 104,000 people have been killed…

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • In internal memos, CIA Inspector General portrayed the media as Agency’s “principal villains”

      A series of 1984 memos from the CIA Inspector General’s (IG) office reveals some alarming views on the press and how to deal with them. Among other things, the memo shows that 33 years before the Agency declared WikiLeaks a hostile non-state intelligence service, they were viewing the general press in the same terms.

      Several weeks prior, CIA Director Casey had asked the IG to weigh in on officer Eloise Page’s paper on unauthorized disclosure. The IG passed the task onto someone on his staff, who produced a four page SECRET memo for IG James Taylor, who passed it onto Director Casey. The IG specifically endorsed the proposal for a program where the Agency would intervene with journalism schools, which is discussed further below.

    • Senators Try to Force Trump Admin to Declare WikiLeaks a ‘Hostile’ Spy Service

      If the Senate intelligence committee gets its way, America’s spy agencies will have to release a flood of information about Russian threats to the U.S.—the kind of threats that Donald Trump may not want made public.

      The committee also wants Congress to declare WikiLeaks a “non-state hostile intelligence service,” which would open Julian Assange and the pro-transparency organization – which most of the U.S. government considers a handmaiden of Russian intelligence – to new levels of surveillance.

      On Friday, the committee quietly published its annual intelligence authorization, a bill that blesses the next year’s worth of intelligence operations. The bill passed the committee late last month on a 14-1 vote, with Democrat Ron Wyden of Oregon as the lone dissenter, owing to what he calls the “legal, constitutional and policy implications” that the WikiLeaks provision may entail.

    • Wikileaks founder Assange slams Al Arabiya report against Qatar as ‘absurd fabrication’

      Wikileaks founder Julian Assange has slammed Saudi Arabia’s Al-Arabiya network for publishing ‘absurd’ reports against Qatar.

      He quoted an Al Arabiya report attributing to him and said that network is publishing ‘absurd fabrications’ regarding the ongoing Gulf Crisis.

      “The Al Arabiya network (HQ in UAE) has been publishing increasingly absurd fabrications as the UAE v Qatar dispute continues. One from today,” he tweeted.

      Assange pointed to a report by Al Arabia quoting him as saying that “he has seven cables about Qatar and only five were published” after Qatar negotiated with the website’s administration.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • Lithium Is Getting Harder to Extract

      Producers everywhere have struggled to keep up with demand as electric cars went from almost no sales a decade ago to more than half a million vehicles last year. The battery in a Model S from Musk’s Tesla Inc. uses about 45 kilograms (100 pounds) of lithium carbonate. More mines are planned, but difficulties at Olaroz — the first new South American lithium mine in two decades — are limiting funding for new ventures in Argentina, home to the world’s third-largest reserves.

    • In Chicago and Iowa, contrasting tales of building a clean energy economy

      As former industrial communities seek to rebuild their economies around clean energy, two cities in the Midwest provide examples with starkly different outcomes.

      Chicago’s Southeast Side and Newton, Iowa both used to house thriving industries, keeping residents with a solid toe in the middle class through well-paid and steady factory work. In Chicago it was steel, while Newton boomed under the all-encompassing attentions of the Maytag family and their washing machine factories.

    • How electric vehicles could take a bite out of the oil market

      First, Volvo announced it would begin to phase out the production of cars that run solely on gasoline or diesel by 2019 by only releasing new models that are electric or plug-in hybrids. Then, France and the U.K. declared they would ban sales of gas and diesel-powered cars by 2040. Underscoring this trend is data from Norway, as electric models amounted to 42 percent of Norwegian new car sales in June.

    • This Pipeline Victory Could Have Major Implications for Climate Fights Ahead

      Environmental groups on Tuesday were applauding a decision that could have an impact on future rulings on oil and gas industry projects.

      An appeals court in Washington, D.C. sided with the Sierra Club when it rejected federal approval of the Southeast Market Pipelines Project, which would carry gas through Alabama, Georgia, and Florida—noting that an environmental analysis of the pipeline, which failed to address its climate impact, was incomplete.

      In a two-to-one vote, the court found that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) report on the project did not provide complete information about the greenhouse gas emissions “that will result from burning the natural gas that the pipelines will transport,” according to an opinion written by Judge Thomas Griffin. The court ordered FERC to complete a second analysis or explain why it had not provided a complete overview of the project’s climate impact.

  • Finance

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • How to Remove Trump

      Republicans in the House won’t fund his wall. Many refuse to increase the national debt in order to pay for his promised tax cuts.

      After Charlottesville, many more are willing to criticize him publicly. Last week Tennessee’s Bob Corker, chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, even questioned Trump’s “stability” and “competence,” saying Trump hasn’t shown he understands “the character of this nation” and that without that understanding, “Our nation is going to go through great peril.”

    • Is Anybody Home at HUD?

      HUD has long been something of an overlooked stepchild within the federal government. Founded in 1965 in a burst of Great Society resolve to confront the “urban crisis,” it has seen its manpower slide by more than half since the Reagan Revolution. (The HUD headquarters is now so eerily underpopulated that it can’t even support a cafeteria; it sits vacant on the first floor.) But HUD still serves a function that millions of low-income Americans depend on — it funds 3,300 public-housing authorities with 1.2 million units and also the Section 8 rental-voucher program, which serves more than 2 million families; it has subsidized tens of millions of mortgages via the Federal Housing Administration; and, through various block grants, it funds an array of community uplift initiatives. It is the Ur-government agency, quietly seeking to address social problems in struggling areas that the private sector can’t or won’t solve, a mission that has become especially pressing amid a growing housing affordability crisis in many major cities.

    • Internet access, sustainability, and citizen participation: electricity as a prerequisite for democracy?

      At its core, sustainability simply refers to the ability to live harmoniously within an environment over time. When applied to modern society, humanity’s long-term survival rests not only on environmental and ecological harmonization, but also on our social and cultural harmonization – the ability to collaborate, communicate effectively, resolve conflict peacefully through legitimate and respected institutions, and participate in our socio-political processes. As openDemocracy’s series on Human Rights and the Internet has aptly demonstrated, sustainability is in many ways a fundamental yet unwritten condition of democracy and public policy. Whether it be the sustainability of cities and the policy considerations needed to both maintain them as well as safeguard them for the future, a more sustainable approach to citizen engagement, the intrinsic link between environmental sustainability and social justice, or the inherent relationship between democracy and sustainability, it is difficult if not impossible to separate the notion of environmental sustainability from its socially focused counterpart: democratic governance.

    • It’s Time to Talk About Trump’s Mental Health

      We’re not accustomed to asking such questions about our presidents. We don’t know how to even begin inquiring into a president’s mental health, so we rationalize aberrant behavior as being part of some subtle strategy. We say that Trump is cleverly playing to his base, or employing the “madman theory” of foreign relations, or simply being unpredictable to gain an advantage by keeping everyone off balance.

      But if Trump were really playing three-dimensional chess, presumably he’d be getting things done. His approval ratings would be rising rather than falling. Allies in Congress would be expressing admiration rather than increasing dismay.

      Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) hit a nerve Thursday when he said that Trump “has not yet been able to demonstrate the stability nor some of the competence” needed in a president. That indictment was significant because Corker, who chairs the Foreign Relations Committee, is a respected Capitol Hill veteran who chooses his words carefully — and who thus far has been willing to give Trump a chance. Corker said he feared that “our nation is going to go through great peril” and called for “radical change” at the White House.

      Democrats have been slightly more plain-spoken. Rep. Adam B. Schiff told CNN on Sunday that “I certainly think that there’s an issue with the president’s capability.” And fellow California Rep. Jackie Speier tweeted last week that Trump “is showing signs of erratic behavior and mental instability that place the country in grave danger.”

    • Pig’s Blood Bullets: Trump’s Big Lie About the Philippines

      I don’t know what the people of Barcelona think about Trump’s demented and repulsive tale of bullets and pig’s blood – but I know what Mark Twain would have said. He was the finest American political writer of his time – perhaps of all time – and he wrote with bitterness, sarcasm and disgust about the US military’s war crimes in the Philippines in 1906. No doubt Trump would have approved of them.

      As so often, there’s no proof – and thus no truth – to the story that General Pershing ever told his soldiers to execute Filipino fighters with bullets dipped in pigs’ blood. Besides, Pershing had left the islands and the Philippine-US war was officially over when the Americans slaughtered the Moro Muslims in their hundreds – men, women and children – in what became known as the Battle of Bud Dajo. With Trump-like enthusiasm, Republican President Theodore Roosevelt congratulated the US commanders on their “brilliant feat of arms”.

    • The Philippine Labor Movement Is Beginning to Turn Against Authoritarian Rule

      The people of Manila have always struggled to survive day to day, but now they’re cheating death every night. The vices and bandits that usually roam the streets are being eclipsed by a crueler menace: the foot soldiers of President Rodrigo Duterte’s authoritarian regime.

      This week, Duterte brought another summer nightmare to the region, with 32 “drug personalities” slaughtered in 67 police operations, deployed in a series of raids on the provincial outskirts of the city. The massacre capped a year of thousands of killings in a hyper-militarized drug war, which seems to be growing bolder following Duterte’s recent expansion of military rule.

      The formal imposition of martial law has shown that much of the president’s working-class base remains loyal. Banking on promises of stability and development, many are still lured by the political deal he proudly campaigned on—trading democracy for “law and order”—even as his administration robs them of both. His brazen populism and incendiary rhetoric is now undermining the labor movement that helped bring him to power, as the government continues to fail to protect workers from exploitation.

    • Henry A. Giroux | Why the Democratic Party Can’t Save Us From Trump’s Authoritarianism

      There is a certain duplicity in the Democratic Party’s attempts to remake itself as the enemy of the corporate establishment and a leader in a movement to resist Trump and his mode of authoritarianism.

      Democrats, such as Ted Lieu, Maxine Waters and Elizabeth Warren, represent one minority faction of the party that rails against Trump’s racism and authoritarianism while less liberal types who actually control the party, such as Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi, claim that they have heard the cry of angry workers and are in the forefront of developing an opposition party that will reverse many of the policies that benefited the financial elite. Both views are part of the Democratic Party’s attempt to rebrand itself.

      The Democrats’ new populist platform, called “A Better Deal: Better Skills, Better Jobs, Better Wages” has echoes of FDR’s New Deal, but it says little about developing both a radical democratic vision and economic and social policies that would allow the Democratic Party to speak more for the poor, people of color and young people than for the corporate and financial elite that run the military-industrial-entertainment complex. Their anti-Trump rhetoric rings hollow.

    • Barack Obama: What’s He Waiting For?

      What should Barack Obama be doing about the unfolding Trumpian nightmares dangerously enveloping so many defenseless and anxious Americans? Tradition has it that outgoing presidents go quietly, do not assail their successor in office, if only because the latter is in a position to strike back. Already, Trump has been actively waging war against his predecessor’s legacy.

      But there are many other ways in which Obama can respond without getting into a messy Twitter war with the unstable Tweeter-in-Chief. Granted, Obama is spending time laying the groundwork for his presidential library to preserve his past. It is the future of this country that needs his high profile attention. Word has it that he is working with his former Attorney General, Eric Holder, to get candidates and voters ready for next year’s crucial Congressional elections. If so, he needs to be more media-visible to get the attention of millions of people.

    • Trump’s a Racist — Don’t Tell Me Otherwise

      His filthy anti-Obama crusade was solid evidence that this laughable example of a human being was nothing more than a bona fide racist. That he was willing to serve as the chief spokesman for the perennially discredited “birther” movement only underscored that racism. Don’t tell me otherwise.

    • The Streets: the Only Place Where Democracy Lives

      Those who protest against neofascism realize that democracy is in the streets. Forman’s photo is particularly important today because schools in the U.S. have for all intents and purposes been resegregated. And many who want to return to some mythic and glorified past carry guns to defend that separation and their twisted ideology.

    • Police Have Made No Arrests Over Charlottesville Assault of 20 Year-Old Deandre Harris

      The Police did nothing during this violence, as did several witnesses to these events unfolding. Over a week since the assault on Harris went viral and each of the five white supremacists who engaged in the attack have been doxxed and identified by social media with the help of New York Daily News Columnist Shaun King, not a single arrest has been.Michael Ramos of Marietta, Georgia, Michael Tubbs, Dan Borden of Mason, Ohio are three of the five white supremacists involved in the assault who have been positively identified. It has been over a week since the incident, but no charges have been filed, nor have any of these individuals been detained by police. Harris’ mother has said her son is still receiving threats for the attack he suffered that went viral on social media. Zach Roberts, the photographer of the photo that went viral from the attack, was recently contacted by the FBI to discuss the incident, but has not been contacted by Charlottesville Police Department despite pleading with officers at the scene of the crime.

      [...]

      Another victim of attacks from the rally, Tyler Macgill, a University of Virginia employee, suffered a stroke last week that may be linked to injuries inflicted on him by white supremacists while protesting in Charlottesville.

    • Trump To Arizona Sheeple: You Know Where My Heart (Sic) Is. Yup, Alas We Do.

      Oh man. Another hallucinatory hiccup in the tawdry downfall of the Republic. The narcissistic dumpster went to Phoenix, Arizona because he hasn’t had anyone cheering for him for a while. The crowds of protesters outside were huge, with inflatables -KKK Trump, Joe Arpaio in prison garb, the Golden-Haired Chicken! – on display. The crowds of sheep-like supporters inside were thin. Still, they valiantly cheered as he incoherently threatened to shut down the government if Congress won’t build his stupid wall and defended his Charlottesville remarks – “the words were perfect” – by leaving out all the bad parts – “many sides,” “both sides” – and raving that hate groups are actually the fault of totally dishonest media who are “trying to take away the history and our heritage….I really think they don’t like our country.” Sigh. Some supporters circulated an image of a massive crowd welcoming him in the streets, except it turned out the photo was from a Cleveland Cavaliers parade in 2016. What can we say? We’re doomed, unless we keep asking, Wait? What? Why is the deranged so-called leader of a months-old, catastrophically failing presidency holding friggin’ campaign rallies? Don’t forget it’s insane.

    • Billionaire Carl Icahn Resigns as Trump Adviser After Reaping Millions From His Time in White House

      On Friday billionaire investor Carl Icahn left his role as regulatory adviser to Donald Trump, just before the New Yorker published an article entitled “Carl Icahn’s Failed Raid on Washington.” The article detailed Carl Icahn’s potential conflicts of interest, including his heavy lobbying for a rule change about blending ethanol into gasoline, a rule which affects the profits of Icahn’s Texas-based petroleum refining company, CVR. According to the New Yorker, in the months after Trump’s election, the stock price of CVR nearly doubled, which meant Icahn’s own wealth surged, at least on paper, by a half a billion dollars. For more we speak with Tyson Slocum, director of Public Citizen’s Energy Program. In March Public Citizen asked lawmakers to investigate Carl Icahn’s actions.

    • American Prospect Editor Robert Kuttner on His Extraordinary Interview with Steve Bannon

      White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon has left the White House and rejoined the far-right-wing website Breitbart News as the executive chairman. Bannon has been one of Trump’s closest and most trusted advisers. After departing the White House, he said, “In many ways I think I can be more effective fighting from the outside for the agenda President Trump ran on. And anyone who stands in our way, we will go to war with.” Before his departure, Bannon granted an extraordinary interview to Robert Kuttner, co-founder and co-editor of the liberal magazine The American Prospect. For more on Bannon’s departure and his interview, we speak with Robert Kuttner, co-founder and co-editor of The American Prospect.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • Twitter failing to act on graphic images and abusive messages, says MP
    • Mirror Early, Mirror Often

      In light of all this recent news, I remain concerned. The Canadian commentator Rex Murphy has written, perhaps quite rightly, that these are quite crazy times in the United States of America.

      [...]

      First the mob demands “net neutrality”. Now it throws it away calling for “good censorship”. What is next? Cultural hegemony through consolidation of Internet providers in the United States of America does lead to problems when the culture starts to go to war with itself.

    • YouTube Briefly Nukes Video Of Nazi Symbol Destruction For Violating Hate Speech Rules

      Things have gone slightly crazy in the wake of the Charlottesville protests. What started as speech and ended in violence has prompted a number of reactions, many of them terrible. The president took three swings at addressing the situation: one bad, one a bit better, and one that erased the “better” statement completely when Trump decided to go off-script and engage in a bunch of whataboutism.

      Other reactions haven’t been much better. After defending the white nationalists’ right to protest the removal of Confederacy-related statues, the ACLU decided it would no longer protect the First Amendment rights of those exercising their Second Amendment rights. It didn’t state it quite as bluntly, but basically said if it detected some “intent” to harm counter-protesters, the ACLU wasn’t interested in defending gun-owning citizens’ right to assemble.

    • Moving On From Obviously Fake News To Plausibly Fake News Sites

      The Guardian report on this new development says that it’s not just a matter of getting the typography and layout right: even the domain names are similar. For example, the fake Guardian site’s URL replaced the usual “i” in Guardian with the Turkish “ı” — a tiny change that is easy to miss, especially when it’s in a URL.

      What’s particularly problematic with these fake newspaper sites is that their domain names add an extra level of plausibility that make it more likely the lie will be spread by unsuspecting Internet users. Even when stories are debunked, the online echo of the false information lives on as people re-post secondary material, especially if legitimate sites are fooled and repeat the “news” themselves, lending it a spurious authenticity. Taking down the material can make things worse…

    • Global Times on censorship: Don’t like our rules? Then don’t engage us

      Western institutions that do not like China’s censorship of hundreds of academic papers from a prominent journal can leave the country, the state-run Global Times newspaper said in an editorial yesterday.

      The editorial appeared after news that Cambridge University Press (CUP) had blocked access on its site in China to a list of some 300 papers and book reviews from the China Quarterly that the Chinese government had asked to be removed.

    • CUP backs down over China censorship
    • Cambridge University censorship U-turn is censored by China
    • World’s oldest publisher reverses ‘shameful’ China censorship
    • Cambridge University Press U-turns on China censorship
    • The Fight Over Free Speech Online
    • Russian director put under house arrest; fans see censorship
    • Anurag Kashyap on his fight with censorship: Actually, my films have not been censored
    • Concerns About Censorship Soar As Russia Detains Director
    • Russia charges top director with fraud
    • Measuring the Internet for Freedom

      Last year, during a wave of deadly political protests in Ethiopia, the government blocked more than 15 media websites and the smartphone chat application WhatsApp. Sites promoting freedom of expression and LGBTQ+ rights, as well as those offering censorship-circumvention tools, such as Tor and Psiphon, were also suppressed.

      All of this was uncovered through the use of software called ooniprobe, which is designed to measure networks and detect Internet censorship. Ooniprobe was developed more than five years ago by the Tor-supported Open Observatory of Network Interference (OONI), with which I work, in order to boost transparency, accountability, and oversight of Internet censorship. The software is free and open source, meaning that anyone can use it. And, indeed, tens of thousands of ooniprobe users from more than 190 countries have already done just that.

    • America on ‘slippery slope’ toward censorship

      We are losing our rights a little at a time. When are they going to start banning and burning books because the contents offend one group of another? We are on a slippery slope.

      We have colleges that won’t let in speakers they don’t agree with. Now we are taking down statues to hide the embarrassing part of our country’s history. People are not allowed to voice differing opinions. This is called censorship.

    • Oldest ice, censorship row and Yemen’s cholera emergency

      Illegal shark haul in the Galapagos A ship patrolling the Galapagos National Park in Ecuador seized roughly 300 tonnes of sharks and other fish from a Chinese vessel found inside the park boundaries on 13 August. The haul consisted mostly of sharks and included some hammerheads that are listed as endangered on the Red List of the International Union for Conservation of Nature, Ecuador’s environment ministry said on 15 August. Authorities detained all 20 crew members of the Fu Yuan Yu Leng 999, who could face up to 3 years in prison if convicted of environmental crimes. It is illegal to catch, trade or transport sharks through the marine reserve’s waters.

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Questions surround Trump NSA director’s job

      A Pentagon official told reporters on Friday that Trump has asked Defense Secretary James Mattis to recommend a flag or general officer to lead the new Cyber Command. That individual, once confirmed, would serve as the commander of both Cyber Command and the NSA until a decision is made to separate them.

    • US Cyber Command gets an elevated status

      The status of the US Cyber Command was elevated last week to a Unified Combatant Command. Through a presidential statement, the Administration announced that from now on it will have equal prerogatives with organizations that are responsible for military operations in different regions of the World. This also means that this command will separate from the National Security Agency, with which it shared all its activities since its inception in 2009 as a sub-unit of the US Strategic Command, and was headed at the same time by Adm. Mike Rogers, current head of the #NSA. The decision on who will head the Cyber Command is yet to be taken.

    • Driver’s license facial recognition tech leads to 4,000 New York arrests

      The state of New York says its driver’s license facial recognition technology has led to the arrest of 4,000 people in connection to identify theft or fraud crimes. This number is likely to skyrocket in the wake of the state doubling the number of measurement points for photographs.

      Gov. Andrew Cuomo said that, overall, New York has identified more than 21,000 potential identity or fraud cases. As many as 16,000 people face some type of non-criminal administrative action in connection to the state’s facial-recognition program, which was adopted in 2010. Those cases are being handled outside of the judicial system administratively because the criminal statute of limitations has expired and will usually result in the state revoking licenses and transferring tickets and convictions to the identity thief’s true rap sheet.

    • Feds drop demand for 1.3 million IP addresses that visited anti-Trump site

      The US Department of Justice is backing down on its request to Web hosting service DreamHost to divulge the 1.3 million IP addresses that visited a Trump resistance site. The request was part of the government’s investigation into Inauguration Day rioting, which has already resulted in the indictment of 200 people. More are likely.

      “The government has no interest in records relating to the 1.3 million IP addresses that are mentioned in DreamHost’s numerous press releases and Opposition brief,” federal prosecutors said in a new court filing concerning its investigation of the disruptj20.org site.

      The government, in the court document, said it did not realize that its original warrant, (PDF) which is part of a federal grand jury investigation into Inauguration Day rioting, was so grand in scope.

    • DOJ drops request for IP addresses from Trump resistance site

      The Department of Justice (DOJ) is dropping its controversial request for visitor IP addresses related to an anti-Trump website.

    • IMSI Catching: Phone surveillance measures and countermeasures go mainstream

      The German newspaper Die Zeit has a long feature today about IMSI catchers and their countermeasures, words that were long heard only in countersurveillance cultures at Black Hat and Defcon. Observing this phenomenon make the jump from the obscure to the mainstream tells us a lot about the years to come: surveillance and countersurveillance will be a cat-and-mouse game for quite some time.

    • Australian Gov’t Accessed Domestic Metadata Thousands Of Times, Shared Some Of It With China

      China’s the odd one here and it only makes the list of Australian data-sharing partners because Australia has a distinct interest in extraditing criminals from China for prosecution. A 2007 mutual assistance treaty laid the groundwork for the handover of Australians’ metadata, but this appears to be the first time Australia has actually done so.

    • Wyden voted against intel authorization over WikiLeaks denouncement

      Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), the only senator to vote against the 2017 intelligence authorization bill in the Intelligence Committee, says his decision was due to concerns about it declaring WikiLeaks a “non-state hostile intelligence service.”

      “The damage done by WikiLeaks to the United States is clear,” Wyden said in a Tuesday press release touting three provisions he was able to add to the bill. “But with any new challenge to our country, Congress ought not react in a manner that could have negative consequences, unforeseen or not, for our constitutional principles.”

      The bill, released Friday, contains a final clause stating that the Julian Assange-lead leak purveyor should be considered more like a cyberthreat.

    • Sonos says users must accept new privacy policy or devices may “cease to function”

      Sonos has confirmed that existing customers will not be given an option to opt out of its new privacy policy, leaving customers with sound systems that may eventually “cease to function”.

      It comes as the home sound system maker prepares to begin collecting audio settings, error data, and other account data before the launch of its smart speaker integration in the near future.

    • Federal Judge Upholds Magistrate’s Ruling, Says Google Must Hand Over Data From Overseas Servers

      Earlier this year, a Pennsylvania magistrate judge decided Google needed to turn over data to US law enforcement despite it being housed (possibly temporarily) in overseas servers. The overseas housing was simply part of Google’s data flow, which routes communications around the world for efficiency, rather than to keep them out of local governments’ hands.

      This contradicted an earlier decision by the 2nd Circuit Appeals Court, which ruled Microsoft did not have to turn over data held in overseas servers in response to a US search warrant. The fact that Google does not explicitly hold certain data in certain servers was key to this decision. The conclusion the magistrate reached was no seizure of the data took place until Google stopped the data flow and gathered it up locally. That decision seemed to rewrite the definition of the word “seizure,” as the warrant compelled Google to grab the data and compile it domestically. Stopping the flow of data traffic to grab stuff certainly sounds like Google is “seizing” it — and it’s only doing so because the government has ordered it to.

    • Court Says Gov’t Needs More Than The Assumption Someone Owns A Cellphone To Justify A Search

      The DC Court of Appeals has shot some holes [PDF] in a favorite law enforcement assertion: that cellphones are automatically containers of criminal evidence just because suspected criminals — like nearly everyone else in the nation — have cellphones. A criminal case involving a suspected getaway driver for a year-old homicide somehow led to police seeking a warrant to seize and search all electronics found at the suspect’s current residence.

      The details of the case are as follows: defendant Ezra Griffith talked to a couple of people about law enforcement’s interest in his vehicle, which was apparently caught on surveillance cameras near the homicide crime scene. He had these discussions while incarcerated for something else, acting as his own tipster by discussing the car on jail phones. (ALL CALLS ARE RECORDED, etc.)

    • Facebook is making it easier to see how people are using Safety Check [iophk: "cultivating fear while exploiting disasters for profit and marketing"]

      Beginning today, the feature will have its own dedicated section on Facebook’s app and website where users can see friends’ recent activity with Safety Check and learn about incidents happening elsewhere in the world.

    • Facebook may have a grown-up problem: Young people leaving for Instagram and Snapchat

      It’s a grown-up problem for Facebook which needs young users to develop the habit of checking Facebook so it can show them ads well into adulthood.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Fascinating Glimpse Into Police Investigation

      This post is not going to examine the security procedures they used, but rather look at the investigative work that police conducted in order to rescue one child who was being abused.

    • Moldova’s civil society braces for another attack

      Alongside Georgia and Ukraine, Moldova has one of the most liberal and vibrant civil societies in the post-Soviet space. Just remember the so-called “Twitter Revolution” in April 2009. The revolution, which spelt the beginning of the end for Vladimir Voronin’s Communist Party, indicated the strength and capacity for mobilisation of Moldova’s civil society groups. But almost a decade later, the country’s non-governmental sector finds itself under increasing pressure from the government.

      Much like Moldova’s Communist Party did during the 2000s, the country’s current ruling establishment, first and foremost the Democratic Party, coopts the church, divides trade unions and de-legitimises prominent civil society leaders by labeling them agents of the opposition. Things took a turn for the worse in June, when the Ministry of Justice proposed adding several controversial provisions to a draft law on non-commercial organisations. These proposed amendments contain stronger regulations that would restrict the right to freedom of association and the independence of non-governmental organisations.

    • The U.S. is Fanning the Flames of Violence in Mexico

      Officials in the Trump administration, who entered office at a time of increasing violence, have provided their own novel interpretation. Citing the national opioid epidemic in the United States, administration officials have blamed U.S. drug users for breathing new life into the Mexico’s illicit drug business. “But for us, Mexico wouldn’t have the trans-criminal organized crime problem and the violence that they’re suffering,” Secretary of State Rex Tillerson recently argued. So “we really have to own up to that.”

    • FBI Terrorism Sting Nets Paranoid Schizophrenic Previously Found Incompetent By A State Court

      If true, this prosecution will make the FBI’s counterterrorist operations look even worse. This isn’t the first time the FBI has exploited the weakest of humans to rack up terrorist busts. This includes the prosecution of a man agents referred to as a “retarded fool” and the dumping of an 18-year-old with a 51 IQ into the lap of local prosecutors. Now we have the FBI steering a paranoid schizophrenic into a self-destructive path, utilizing a confidential informant who apparently made several misrepresentations during his work with the FBI.

      The CI claimed to have seen a “bunker” at Varnell’s home (where he lived with his parents because he is mentally unable to live on his own). The Varnells claim the “bunker” is nothing more than a partially-buried storage container, meant to be used as a storm shelter. Adding to its un-bunkerlike aspects are the fact that it locks from the outside and contains no food, water, or source of electricity.

      From the criminal complaint, other facts emerge. Varnell lived with his parents and only had access to the full residence occasionally. Varnell talked about bombing US government buildings but was unable to secure a vehicle to house the explosives. (He told the undercover agent he might be able to “borrow” a vehicle from some relatives.) The affidavit says the undercover agent supplied everything needed to build the explosive device — not a single element came from the alleged terrorist. The undercover agent also supplied the vehicle.

    • Accidental history—remastering the campy teen horror game Congress famously hated

      While it’s clearly influenced by slasher flicks of the ‘70s and ‘80s, you are there to stop assault—not delight in it like those films. And because of Hasbro’s initial involvement, there’s no nudity or sex, nor any significant violence besides people being slowly dragged off-screen, screaming. Maybe it can be blood-curdling to some folks, but it’s far milder than its place in the annals of gaming lore would suggest. A tween-friendly modern horror game like Five Nights at Freddy’s is probably more horror-filled.

    • Racism: North and South

      Ironically, this segregation was imposed, not during the rise of the KKK in the 1920s, but during the 1960s under the progressive guise of ‘urban renewal.” It was then, that vibrant, relatively prosperous, historical black neighborhoods like Charlotteville’s Vinegar Hill were deliberately razed, left long vacant, and ultimately replaced by soul-less public housing and institutional projects.

    • Stormfront Nazis Think the ‘Alt-Right’ Is Full of Idiots
    • The Myth of White Safety in White Numbers

      The latest manifestation of White Americans’ open racial animosity, from the election of President Donald Trump to the recent violence in Charlottesville and the emboldened rhetoric of White nationalists since then, suggests continued anxiety that research indicates is grounded in an overriding fear of non-Whites.

      But new data show that fear is irrational.

      While White people tend to feel safer when they dominate the population, and feel threatened by the visible presence of other races, they actually are safer in racially diverse communities.

      Trump’s voters—nearly 90 percent of whom are White and average $72,000 in median family income—were often motivated by anxiety over increasing diversity and “racial resentment,” especially toward “illegal” immigrants. Trump stoked his constituents’ fears associating immigrants with violence and drugs, claiming they kill “innocent American(s)” abetted by liberal, immigrant-friendly sanctuary cities that “breed crime.”

    • Bahrain rights groups accuse National Security Agency of torture

      Three Bahraini human rights groups accused the Gulf Arab monarchy’s National Security Agency on Tuesday of systematic use of torture, and a security official said it would investigate their allegations.

      The NSA has for decades been central to the Sunni Muslim-ruled kingdom’s efforts to overcome protests and occasional violence by members of the country’s Shi’ite Muslim majority.

    • Texas Agency Says It Needs $1 Million To Hand Over Records On Prison Sexual Assault

      Here we go again. Want to keep citizens away from their requested public records? Do what you can to ensure they can’t afford it.

      Nathanael King sent a request via Muckrock to the Texas Department of Criminal Justice. He was seeking records on all investigations of alleged sexual abuse in Texas prisons. Either the problem with prison sexual abuse is completely out of hand or the Texas DCJ really really really wants to keep King from seeing these investigative records.

    • Texas Seeks Trump’s Help to Defund Planned Parenthood. If It’s Successful, Other States Could Follow.

      In January 2015, Aubrey Reinhardt came to an important conclusion: It was time to get on birth control.

      The 20-year-old Texas Tech University senior was in a serious relationship, and after a prudent discussion with her partner, she’d made up her mind. Analytical by nature, Reinhardt sought information on her options and narrowed down the list of contraceptives she wanted to know more about. Ultimately, that might have been the easiest part of the process.

      Through friends and family, she knew that Planned Parenthood was a trusted source for reproductive health care, but in the Panhandle city of Lubbock, that would not be an option. The university town’s two Planned Parenthood clinics had closed down in 2014, the result of a series of ill-fated political decisions made by state lawmakers hellbent on fully defunding the 100-year-old provider.

    • Trump Threatens Funding for California Cops Over “Sanctuary State” Bill. Maybe That’s a Good Thing.

      A bruising fight over federal police funding is taking center stage in the battle over whether California will become the nation’s first “sanctuary state.”

      The California legislature is poised to enact Senate Bill 54, a state proposal that is the strongest legislative effort yet to enshrine sanctuary protection in the state by curbing local law enforcement cooperation with federal immigration officials. But the Trump administration has threatened that, if California passes the act, the state will be cut off from a range of law enforcement grant money.

      California Democrats, meanwhile, have declared that any move to cut off the spigot of federal policing funds is an attempt at blackmailing the state, and are promising to fight for every dollar.

    • Washington State Tries to Crack Down on Cyberbullying — But Routine Criticism Is Blocked Instead

      The scourge of online harassment can scare many people away from expressing their opinions online. It’s a problem that calls for sophisticated, multi-layered solutions. But a law in Washington state is demonstrating how some approaches to the issue can go terribly wrong, potentially blocking the routine criticism of politicians and others that is an integral part of a functioning democracy. EFF and the American Civil Liberties Union of Washington have filed an amicus brief in a new federal legal case against this law, urging the judge to recognize the critical constitutional questions it raises.

    • Five Reasons Racist Sheriff Joe Arpaio Should Not Receive a Presidential Pardon

      Donald Trump may pardon Arpaio, but he can’t clear his record of brutality and bigotry.

      Last week, President Trump told Fox News that he is “seriously considering” a pardon for former Maricopa County, Arizona, sheriff Joe Arpaio, telling the network that the disgraced ex-law enforcement officer “has done a lot in the fight against illegal immigration” and “doesn’t deserve to be treated this way.”

      Arpaio was recently convicted of criminal contempt after he deliberately violated an earlier court ruling that ordered his department to end its practice of illegally detaining people based only on suspicions about their immigration status. That ruling came in a successful case brought by Latino residents to challenge Arpaio’s racial profiling policies.

    • Court Strips Immunity From Bite Mark Experts Who Put Wrong Man In Jail For 23 Years

      We’ve discussed the junk science masquerading as forensic science in criminal cases. Coming in slightly ahead of chatting with psychics is “bite mark analysis.” According to these so-called experts, each bite mark is just as unique as a fingerprint. But if so, why have so many cases been overturned when actual science — usually DNA evidence — is examined? Bite mark analysts have no answers. Fortunately, there’s been less and less reliance on this highly-questionable evidence over the years.

      But bite mark analysis was in vogue long enough to do serious damage to people’s lives. The 7th Circuit Appeals Court has just decided a wrongly imprisoned man can continue with his civil rights lawsuit against the two forensic odontologists who allegedly conspired to fabricate their expert opinions. Here’s how the plaintiff spent most of the last quarter-decade, from the opening of the court’s decision [PDF]:

    • Danish submarine mystery takes gruesome, bizarre turns [Updated]

      On Monday, a Copenhagen Police spokesperson released new information regarding the investigation into the disappearance of Kim Wall, a Swedish journalist who had been last seen aboard the UC3 Nautilus—the crowd-funded, amateur-built diesel-electric submarine designed and piloted by Peter Madsen. Madsen now confirms that Wall died aboard the submarine, and that he dumped her body overboard. But he claimed to police and prosecutors that her death was accidental.

    • Lawsuit against Daily Stormer is stuck; founder can’t be served papers

      A Jewish real estate agent’s anti-harassment lawsuit against the owner of the racist Daily Stormer website hasn’t progressed at all, despite being filed nearly four months ago.

      The reason for the stall, the plaintiff’s lawyers say, is that Daily Stormer publisher Andrew Anglin simply can’t be found. They’ve tried, but failed, to serve him papers at four different Ohio addresses.

    • Tor Project can’t block Daily Stormer from its browser
    • Unable to get a domain, racist Daily Stormer retreats to the Dark Web

      Ever since Charlottesville, the neo-Nazi site Daily Stormer has been struggling to stay on the Internet. The site’s editor, Andrew Anglin, wrote a vulgar post disparaging Heather Heyer after she was killed in the Charlottesville car attack. Activists pressured technology companies to drop the site, and one by one they complied.

      The site cycled through a sequence of different domains: dailystormer.com, dailystormer.wang, dailystormer.ru, and finally dailystormer.lol. In each case, registrars canceled the domains within a day or two of their registration.

    • Another staged body cam leads to 43 more dropped Baltimore prosecutions

      A Baltimore Police Department officer has “self-reported” a staged body cam vide. This brings the number of fabricated body cam videos rocking the agency to at least three. In this most recent instance alone, 43 cases are being dropped or not prosecuted, the state’s top prosecutor, Marilyn Mosby, said.

      In all, more than 100 cases have been dropped or will be. Dozens of additional cases are being investigated because of three body cam videos fabricated by the Baltimore Police Department. The first video was disclosed a month ago. Dozens of closed cases are also being re-examined, state prosecutors said. They said they are examining hundreds of cases involving officers connected to the videos.

      “The body-worn camera program was established to fight crime, better protect officers, and foster public trust,” said State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby. “Whether planting evidence, re-enacting the seizure of evidence or prematurely turning off the department-issued body-worn camera, those actions misrepresent the truth and undermine public trust.”

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • Verizon to start throttling all smartphone videos to 480p or 720p

      Verizon Wireless will start throttling video streams to resolutions as low as 480p on smartphones this week. Most data plans will get 720p video on smartphones, but customers won’t have any option to completely un-throttle video.

      1080p will be the highest resolution provided on tablets, effectively ruling out 4K video on Verizon’s mobile network. Anything identified as a video will not be given more than 10Mbps worth of bandwidth. This limit will affect mobile hotspot usage as well.

    • Verizon Begins Throttling Wireless Users, Effectively Bans 4K Streaming

      Thanks to a little something called competition, Verizon Wireless was forced recently to bring back unlimited data plans, after spending the last few years trying to tell consumers they neither wanted nor needed such plans (narrator: they did). But all has not been well in Verizon-land since, with several network performance reports indicating that Verizon’s network configuration was struggling a little under the load of these new unlimited users. That’s a problem for a company that justifies its higher prices by insisting it offers the best-available wireless network.

      A few weeks back, customers complained when Verizon began throttling YouTube and Netflix customers without telling anybody, only to subsequently admit they were conducting a “test.” Fast forward to this week, and Verizon Wireless has announced a complete revamp of its “unlimited” data plans that severely restrict how your mobile connection can be used.

    • Judge Kills AT&T’s Attempt To Thwart Google Fiber Competition In Louisville

      There’s plenty of methods incumbent ISPs use to keep broadband competition at bay, from buying protectionist state laws to a steady supply of revolving door regulators and lobbyists with a vested interest in protecting the status quo. This regulatory capture goes a long way toward explaining why Americans pay more money for slower broadband than most developed nations. Keeping this dysfunction intact despite a growing resentment from America’s under-served and over-charged broadband consumers isn’t easy, and has required decades of yeoman’s work on the part of entrenched duopolies and their lobbyists.

    • Stop hiding 47,000 net neutrality complaints, advocates tell FCC chair

      The Federal Communications Commission is being pressured to release the text of 47,000 net neutrality complaints before going through with Chairman Ajit Pai’s plan to eliminate net neutrality rules.

      The FCC has refused to release the text of most neutrality complaints despite a Freedom of Information Act (FoIA) request that asked for all complaints filed since June 2015. The FCC has provided 1,000 complaints to the National Hispanic Media Coalition (NHMC), which filed the public records request but said last month that it’s too “burdensome” to redact personally identifiable information from all 47,000.

    • Lawmakers Want The GAO To Investigate The FCC’s Flimsy DDoS Claim

      We’ve noted a few times that the FCC’s claim it suffered a DDoS attack — at the precise moment John Oliver was directing annoyed net neutrality supporters to the agency’s website — is more than a little shaky. After initially insisting that major “analysis” had led the agency to conclude it was attacked the same evening Oliver was informing viewers about the FCC’s plan to gut popular net neutrality protections, press FOIA requests indicated that no such analysis occurred. Security analysts have stated there were none of the usual indicators surrounding a traditional DDoS attack, fueling skepticism of the FCC’s claims.

    • Who Owns the Internet?

      Thirty years ago, almost no one used the Internet for anything. Today, just about everybody uses it for everything. Even as the Web has grown, however, it has narrowed. Google now controls nearly ninety per cent of search advertising, Facebook almost eighty per cent of mobile social traffic, and Amazon about seventy-five per cent of e-book sales.

    • We Live in Fear of the Online Mobs

      These days, I see it as a tool for social coercion.

      [...]

      That power keeps growing, as does the number of subjects they want to declare off-limits to discussion.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Trademarks

      • Failed Cybersquatter Asks Supreme Court To Declare ‘Google’ A Generic Term

        A litigant hoping to retain ownership of more than 750 domain names containing the word “google” has asked the Supreme Court to take a look at his recent Appeals Court loss.

        David Elliott first filed a lawsuit against Google back in 2012, claiming the term “google” was now a generic word meaning “to use a search engine.” If the term had become generic — like aspirin, kleenex, and others before it — Google no longer could claim control of the trademark and should relinquish his hundreds of domain names.

      • Permission Culture Kills Off A Bunch Of Fun MLB ‘Nickname Jerseys’

        With the direction of intellectual property rights in America generally being driven down a one-way street towards expansionism, the associated culture of permission has ridden sidecar. Unlike intellectual property rights, however, permission culture is bound not by statute and legal interpretation, but rather by the wider understanding of public opinion on those matters, which tend towards being flawed and uninformed. Still, permission culture counts even large corporate interests with lofty legal budgets among its victims.

    • Copyrights

      • Atari sues Nestle, says Kit Kat video game ad violates Breakout copyright

        Atari claims that a commercial for Nestle’s Kit Kat candy bars violates the copyright and trademark rights of Breakout, Atari’s iconic 1975 video game.

        Nestle’s 30-second spot “leverage[s] Breakout and the special place it holds among nostalgic Baby Boomers, Generation X, and even today’s Millennial and post-Millennial ‘gamers’ in order to maximize the advertisement’s reach,” say Atari’s lawyers in the complaint (PDF), filed Thursday in a California federal court.

      • Many Film Students Pirate Films for Their Courses

        New research shows that piracy is a common habit among film students. Not just for pleasure, but also to obtain mandatory course materials. In fact, obtaining films illegally is more common than getting them through university reserve desks.

      • MPAA Wins Movie Piracy Case in China After Failed Anti-Piracy Deal

        The international arm of the Motion Picture Association of America has chalked up a copyright victory against a huge Chinese video platform. The suit, filed against Xunlei in 2015 following the failure of an oppressive anti-piracy initiative, claimed copyright infringement on 28 Hollywood titles. The MPAA was awarded just over $210,000 in damages, plus legal fees.

      • Court Cracks Down on ‘Future’ Pirate Mayweather-McGregor Streams

        A federal court in California has issued a preliminary injunction targeting several websites that could offer pirated streams for the upcoming Mayweather v McGregor fight. The order was requested by TV network Showtime, which fears it might lose a substantial amount of revenue due to piracy. Whether it will put a serious dent in the availability of unauthorized streams is doubtful.

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