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08.30.17

Australian Government Cracks Down on Patent Maximalism, Dealing a Blow to Parasitic Firms

Posted in Australia, Patents at 6:06 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Parasitic creature

Summary: Following recommendations from the Productivity Commission, the government of Australia decides to limit the scope of patents because currently the “system imposes significant costs on third parties and the broader Australian community.”

THE USPTO together with PTAB is improving patent quality. It’s a much-needed improvement.

Last year we wrote about half a dozen articles about the findings of the Productivity Commission in Australia, demonstrating the dangers of patent maximalism, including software patents. The study has not been merely shelved or ignored. In fact, a site of patent maximalists (with new articles like this one) openly bemoans rather than reports a decision in Australia to help SMEs rather than parasitic law firms. To quote what it said yesterday:

The Australian government will abolish the innovation patent system in a bid to bring the country in line with international standards.

In its response to the Australian Productivity Commission’s inquiry into intellectual property, the government agreed that the innovation system is “unlikely to provide net benefits to the Australian community or to small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs)”.

Innovation patents are akin to utility models in that they have a shorter lifespan than traditional patents—eight years, in Australia’s case—and have lower thresholds for inventiveness.

“The commission found that the majority of SMEs who use the innovation patent system do not obtain value from it, and that the system imposes significant costs on third parties and the broader Australian community.”

That’s a good thing, not a bad thing. The Australian government, having studied some facts (not lobbying from the patent ‘industry’), has reportedly decided “to raise the inventive step threshold” in patents, IAM said yesterday. IAM is of course complaining:

The government will also ask Parliament to raise the inventive step threshold for standard patents and insert language in the patent statute that emphasises the technical/technological features of an invention, through the following three amendments to the Patents Act 1990…

Does that mean the end of software patents in Australia? Meanwhile in New Zealand, where the subject of software patents was hotly debated for years, patent bullying may be about to become easier. As Managing IP has just put it:

The Intellectual Property Office of New Zealand (IPONZ) became a participant patent office in the global patent prosecution highway (GPPH) on July 6. IP practitioners in New Zealand point out that the GPPH provides an accelerated option, but not acceptance of a patent. They also stress that use of the GPPH may not result in the broadest possible claims as claims need to sufficiently correspond to those found allowable

This does not impact patent scope, but it certainly favours more litigation or prosecution. It often means rushed examination, too.

The bottom line is, the above patent maximalism sites were quick (if not first) to report what seems like substantial improvements in patent quality. They are not pleased about it, but people who work in the area of science and technology definitely gained at the expense of the patent ‘industry’ (the patent microcosm).

Dennis Crouch, Joined by Gene Quinn (Watchtroll), Still Attacking PTAB to Protect Patent Trolls and Software Patents

Posted in America, Patents at 5:22 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

One among very many Watchtroll ‘articles’ (attack pieces) that may have led to Michelle Lee’s resignation

Watchtroll on USPTO

Summary: The attacks on the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) and those who enable PTAB have not ended; instead, these attacks have intensified again because the Supreme Court will weigh in soon

THERE are two actions against the PTAB right now. We last wrote about that yesterday. One is at a legislative level, namely the anti-PTAB STRONGER Patent Act of 2017 (by “stronger” it actually means weaker and lower-quality patents). The other one is a US Supreme Court (SCOTUS) case, in which the anti-PTAB blog Patently-O can’t help meddling. In most days of August it attacked PTAB (almost every single day), writing little more than/besides that.

“In most days of August it attacked PTAB (almost every single day), writing little more than/besides that.”As a reminder to non-regular readers (or occasional watchers of patent matters), SCOTUS almost always rules to improve patents, i.e. to improve patent quality rather than ‘dilute’ the whole lot with lousy patents. SCOTUS overturned CAFC about half a dozen consecutive times. Another case had been decided by SCOTUS (years ago, not just now). It was not about software (even by a long shot), but patents as judged by SCOTUS in this case (misuse for protectionism) resulted in punishment in the form of legal bills for the plaintiff:

A federal appeals court has upheld a decision mandating that Icon Health and Fitness pay $1.6 million in attorney’s fees for filing an unwarranted patent lawsuit against a competitor.

Icon sued Octane Fitness in 2009, saying that Octane’s high-end elliptical machines infringed US Patent No. 6,019,710, which describes an elliptical machine that allows for adjustments to accommodate individual strides. After two years of litigation, a district court judge found that Octane’s machines didn’t infringe. Octane asked for an award of legal fees, but in 2011, a judge rejected the company’s bid. That decision was upheld on appeal.

[...]

But the fact is that it was nearly impossible to win fees in a patent case in 2011. However, Octane didn’t take its loss sitting down. The company appealed to the Supreme Court, which heard oral arguments on the case in 2014.

In a 9-0 vote, the court issued an opinion (PDF) making it much easier to get attorney’s fees. Justice Sonia Sotomayor wrote the opinion, holding that patent laws call for awarding fees in an “exceptional” case, which is “simply one that stands out from others with respect to the substantive strength of a party’s litigating position… or the unreasonable manner in which the case was litigated.”

It’s cases like these which discourage patent lawsuits. Suffice to say, the litigation ‘industry’ isn’t happy about it. Not only does it attack Alice (SCOTUS) but also PTAB (which enforces or applies Alice-inspired tests). Regarding PTAB, yesterday came out this article from Above The Law, speaking about a case that would likely get “tossed out within six months on an Alice motion” (Section 101).

Here is a portion about the relevance to PTAB:

Today? That same case would likely have been tossed out within six months on an Alice motion, or perhaps would have quickly settled after the inevitable IPR institution by the PTAB. Furthermore, the plaintiff would have likely had to contend with potential IPR filings by a host of third-parties, including from potential future targets interested in nipping a potential threat in a proverbial bud.

[...]

Want to minimize the risk? Assert more patents. (It is no surprise that one of the recommendations offered to anxious branded pharmaceutical companies — worried about increased susceptibility to generic companies filing IPR’s — was for them to file more patents on their drugs.) Prospective patent plaintiffs know that the most sure-fire (but not foolproof) way to avoid seeing their enforcement campaigns wither under an IPR onslaught is to assert as many patents as possible.

“IPR” is just legalese (i.e. confusing, non-English term) to mean petition. This is what really scares the litigation ‘industry’ because it can thwart litigation early on in the process whilst also dampening any incentive to sue in the first place.

“Why do these people so stubbornly resist patent quality?”This is why patent maximalists such as Dennis Crouch and Gene Quinn (Watchtroll) are trying to scandalise PTAB. Shame on Crouch for doing this on academic payroll, unlike Quinn who has always been a rude blowhard. Crouch now promotes Watchtroll links like this one from a week ago. These are serious attacks on PTAB and on the USPTO — reminiscent of their online and offline bullying of Michelle Lee. This sort of mob mentality does a great disservice to the US patent system, but they don’t care. All they want is lots and lots of patents and especially a surge in lawsuits (mostly trolls).

Another patent maximalist wrote yesterday that “ancient (1997) patent filing on net advertising gets killed under §101, u know, to protect Google kids’ monopoly: https://e-foia.uspto.gov/Foia/RetrievePdf?system=BPAI&flNm=fd2015003916-08-24-201″

“PTAB does not “kill” anything, it just belatedly assesses software patents to find errors made by the USPTO,” I told him.

“So to claim that PTAB just blindly eliminates patents is simply untrue. But that’s the sort of myth constantly being promoted by the above maximalists (all of them).”Why do these people so stubbornly resist patent quality?

Matthew Bultman, writing for Law 360 yesterday, picked out one of the rare cases where PTAB did, for a change, tolerate a software patent. To quote:

Xactware Solutions Inc. has failed to show a patent related to aerial rooftop measurement software is invalid, the Patent Trial and Appeal Board said Monday, in another disappointing decision for the New Jersey company in its effort to take down patents it’s accused of infringing.

So to claim that PTAB just blindly eliminates patents is simply untrue. But that’s the sort of myth constantly being promoted by the above maximalists (all of them). Watch what Crouch is now doing with a new multi-part series; it’s that tactic of using self-fulfilling prophecy-type predictions. Yet more lobbying by Crouch, as if PTAB is already dead:

An easy practical answer is that Oil States would effectively overrule those administrative decisions and thus removes any preclusive impact of an IPR cancellation. That approach runs into significant problems when a court has already relied upon an IPR cancellation to issued a final judgment (with appeals exhausted). Our federal courts strongly favor finality of judgments and are wont to revisit those judgments even when later evidence suggests that the judgment was based upon faulty information.

We are going to watch closely this sort of lobbying for the interests of trolls. They try to undo years if not almost a decade of progress. Without resistance they might even pull this off.

IP Kat Missing in Action as Unitary Patent (UPC) Rots

Posted in Europe, Patents at 4:38 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: The near silence (or occasional whisper) regarding the UPC isn’t just quaint; it’s a true testament to the fact that even the biggest cheerleaders of the UPC (litigation ‘industry’) accept impasse, or a total loss of momentum

THE EPO has said almost nothing; it just dumped a PDF that says nothing at all about the barriers to UPC. So did many UPC boosters’ blogs. They used to shout from rooftops with UPC (fake) ‘news’, but why not now? Not convenient?

As we noted the other day, the UPC is crumbling, yet almost nobody reports it. Yesterday, someone posted this comment to say:

Have the Kats been caught napping on the job? It has been almost two weeks now since potentially “bombshell” information was made public regarding the grounds of the constitutional complaint in Germany:

http://patentblog.kluweriplaw.com/2017/08/16/upc-finally-some-news-from-the-german-federal-constitutional-court/

Depending upon one’s viewpoint, this could spell the end of the UPC as we know it. This alone is surely enough to justify a few mewsings on this development… or has the cat got all of the Kats’ collective tongues?

The Kats are not “napping on the job” but merely ignoring inconvenient facts; this comment rightly notes that IP Kat should be covering this, but it’s now dominated by CIPA and Bristows, so it ignored omission of UPC from British Parliamentary agenda (more than a month ago). Now it’s the same regarding Germany. What about Bristows? Well, their lobbying blog, which is full of half truths, lies, and sometimes gross bias by omission, wrote almost nothing lately. Shortly after we pointed this out (early yesterday) Bristows suddenly spoke of Lithuania, showing that these people have nothing important to say about the UPC (which is stuck in nations with the lion’s share of EPs).

Sometimes silence says a lot more than nothing at all. The UPC is likely broken beyond repair. Without a major rewrite it won’t be going anywhere any time soon (if ever).

Links 30/8/2017: New Stable Kernels, Paper on Security Record of Free Software

Posted in News Roundup at 3:34 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

Free Software/Open Source

  • If Machine Learning is the question, open source is the answer. Right?

    A big reason for this gap is talent. Or, rather, a lack thereof. There’s a chance, however, that an influx of open-source code into the ML universe could improve things. How so? By lowering barriers to entry to experiment on and become proficient with high-quality ML software. Perhaps not surprisingly, the cloud giants that stand to gain from an influx of data-heavy ML applications are the same ones open sourcing the ML code in the first place.

  • VMware partners with Pivotal, Google Cloud to launch Kubernetes-based container service
  • Confluent Brings SQL Querying to Kafka Streaming Data

    With ever-increasing volumes of data comes an ever-increasing need to process that data. Confluent has made a business out of helping enterprises handle never ending streams of data with its commercial packaging of Apache Kafka. And now, at Kafka Summit in San Francisco this week, Confluent introduced a new open source project, called KSQL, that it says will allow users to apply SQL queries against streaming data.

  • Release notes for the Genode OS Framework 17.08

    The flagship feature of Genode 17.08 has been in the works for more than a year: The support for hardware-accelerated graphics on Intel Gen-8 GPUs. This is an especially challenging topic because it is riddled with terminology, involves highly complex software stacks, carries a twisted history with it, and remains to be a moving target. It took up a lot of patience to build up a profound understanding of the existing driver architectures and the mechanisms offered by modern graphics hardware. On the other hand, with the proliferation of hardware-based sandboxing features like virtual GPU memory and hardware contexts, we found that now is the perfect time for a clean-slate design of a microkernelized GPU driver. Section Hardware-accelerated graphics for Intel Gen-8 GPUs introduces this work, which includes our new GPU multiplexer as well as the integration with the client-side Mesa protocol stack.

  • Genode 17.08 Now Supports Broadwell Graphics, Xen DomU Support

    Version 17.08 of the Genode open-source operating system framework is now available with a variety of changes.

    Genode OS 17.09 now features support for Intel “Gen 8″ Broadwell graphics thanks to its ported open-source Intel Linux driver code and also upgrading to Mesa 11.2.2. They have made other improvements too for their graphics driver stack in Genode, including an experimental GPU multiplexer.

  • BeOS-Inspired Haiku OS Had A Successful GSoC 2017: Swift, Btrfs, Preferences GUI

    With Google Summer of Code 2017 now in the books, the final reports on the various projects carried out within the BeOS-inspired Haiku operating system are now available.

  • Upskill U: OPNFV Director on Open Source & Automation

    As service providers strive to reduce costs, drive innovation and increase network capacity, they are exploring the ways white box initiatives, virtualization, open source and SDN can be combined with data analytics to further the automation of network processes. Enabling automation is central to improving network efficiency and customer experience by eliminating human errors and manual process delays.

    As they move forward in this endeavor, operators face a range of opportunities — such as applying best practices from web-scale companies — in addition to challenges such as interoperability in multi-vendor architectures.

  • Legal Technology and Smart Contracts: Open Source and Industry Source (Part III)
  • Focus: Open source

    Open source used to be an alternative to commercial off –the-shelf software. Today, the largest commercial software providers are big supporters of open source technologies. Enterprises are finding their software stacks increasingly rely on open source components, and developers have access to extensive open source repositories, which they can draw on to help them produce code more efficiently or to work around a particular technical problem they may have. Some enterprises are also contributing code back, supporting open source development, while at the same time, enabling a wide pool of open source developers to improve the code. Some companies are also starting to use open source to foster interest and develop a community to bolster their digitally-enabled product strategies.

  • Will Data Eat the World? Yes, With Some Help from Open Source

    In the Valley of the Geeks (not to be confused with Silicon Valley) open source magicians are laying place a number of the foundational innovations for enabling the next generation of intelligent software. The first software revolution was made possible by open source technologies such as Linux, Apache, MySQL, PhP, TCP/IP, and Ethernet. Industry creatively co-opted these open source innovations and made it the basis of the first wave of software innovation. A similar dynamic is at play today. Open source, which includes the academic research community, is spawning new technologies and methodologies which are now beginning to be at the data-driven intelligent software.

  • OpenStack sees new use cases in edge computing and fast-growing interest in China

    OpenStack, the massive open-source project that aims to bring the power and ease of use of public clouds like AWS and Azure to private data centers, today launched Pike, the sixteenth major version of its software. As usual, there’s a massive number of updates here, but the core theme is that the various development teams have focused on making OpenStack more composable, so that companies can more easily pick and choose the features they want. In addition, the community has renewed its focus on helping OpenStack operators manage the lifecycle of the various OpenStack tools with services like Kubernetes and Ansible.

    Mark Collier, the OpenStack Foundation’s COO, and Lauren Sell, the organization’s VP of Marketing and Community Services, told me earlier this week that they are now seeing a number of emerging use cases for OpenStack. One of these is edge computing — a trend that Microsoft, Amazon and other public cloud providers are also now addressing. “There is a huge demand for cloud computing in many different forms,” Collier said. “That’s impacting what we’re doing.” Some of the most prominent companies that are now looking at using OpenStack for their edge computing solution include Verizon (TechCrunch’s corporate overlords), Walmart (which wants to do computing right in its stores) and Inmarsat (which is looking at using OpenStack to power the on-board computing power on large ships).

  • OpenStack Pike Debuts Re-Defining the Open-Source Cloud Platform

    The OpenStack Foundation debuted its 16th milestone release today with the launch of the OpenStack Pike cloud infrastructure platform. Pike follows the OpenStack Ocata release which came out in February and had a focus on cloud federation.

    Unlike Ocata, the new Pike release has a particular emphasis on enabling standalone OpenStack services, without the need for an entire set of OpenStack projects. For several years, the OpenStack community debated a definition for a common set of projects, known as Defcore that define what it is to be an OpenStack cloud. Among the projects that Pike now enables to run in a more standalone, composable approach are the Ironic bare-metal and Cinder block storage projectS.

  • Events

    • Real-Time Linux Summit, KVM Forum, Fossology, and More Happening Along With ELC Europe in Prague

      The Embedded Linux Conference Europe is just around the corner. This year’s event — which is co-located with Open Source Summit Europe — will take place Oct. 23-26 in Prague, Czech Republic.

      [...]

      The Real-Time Summit, organized by the Linux Foundation Real-Time Linux (RTL) collaborative project, gathers developers and users of the PREEMPT_RT patch. The aim is to facilitate discussion between developers, tooling experts, and users

    • Building Healthy Open Source Communities: Please Join Me for a Very Special Event

      Community — what a profound difference it can make for projects, businesses and organizations of all types. I’ve spent my entire career helping organizations build communities, ranging from internal communities to developer communities, with a strong focus on open source communities. The goal in fostering a healthy community around open source is to engage consumers, customers, and others and encourage them to contribute. With these thoughts in mind, let us consider a few of the important first steps in setting a community strategy, and then I want to tell you about a very special community-focused event that is coming up.

    • MesosCon Europe Features Expert Talks from Netflix, Verizon, Microsoft, and More
    • The Linux Foundation Announces Agenda for MesosCon Europe

      MesosCon Europe is an annual conference organized by the Apache Mesos community, bringing together users and developers to share and learn about the project and its growing ecosystem. The conference will feature a one-day hackathon followed by two days of sessions focused on the Apache Mesos Core and related technologies. It is co-located with Open Source Summit Europe (separate registration required).

    • “Qubes OS from the POV of a Debian developer” and “Qubes OS user meetup at Bornhack”

      I wrote the following while on my way home from Bornhack which was an awesome hacking camp on the Danish island of Bornholm, where about 200 people gathered for a week, with a nice beach in walking distance (and a not too cold Baltic Sea) and vegan and not so vegan grills, to give some hints why it was awesome. (Actually it was mostly awesome due to the people there, not the things, but anyway…)

  • Databases

    • MongoDB quits Solaris, wants to work on an OS people actually use

      MongoDB has killed off its Solaris development efforts. The company’s director of platform engineering Andrew Morrow calls the decision “bittersweet,” but says “lack of adoption among our user base” made the decision easy and necessary.

      “Of our commercial users, we knew of only a handful who had ever been running on Solaris, and all confirmed that they had migrated away, or were in the process of doing so,” he writes. “Our download numbers for our Solaris builds confirmed this lack of interest, as did stats gathered from our managed operations tools.”

      Morrow also says that the company doesn’t think it is a good idea to invest in Solaris expertise. “While several of our senior developers know their way around Solaris well, our junior devs have never touched it. Investing in teaching them is of questionable value,” he writes.

  • CMS

    • Create your own Blog with Jekyll

      Every once in a while I think about creating a personal website. Something I could maybe use as an online CV, portfolio or a little blog. For the beginning, nothing special. It would be easy to spin up a WordPress page, find a nice template and within short time it would be ready to use. But first of all, I think it would be an overkill to use a big CMS with all it’s crazy features for “just” a small page with few sites that don’t change often plus a bunch of blog posts.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

    • How to do open source right: LinkedIn shows the way

      If you want to know how to do open source the smart way, pay attention to LinkedIn. It has delivered some of the industry’s most impressive open source software, most recently its Cruise Control load-balancing tool for Apache Kafka, a distributed streaming platform also developed by LinkedIn that is used to build real-time data pipelines and streaming apps in big data applications.

  • Programming/Development

    • [Old] Why We Argue: Style

      Code is read many more times than it is written, which means that the ultimate cost of code is in its reading. It therefore follows that code should be optimized for readability, which in turn dictates that an application’s code should all follow the same style. Adhering to a common style saves you money.

    • [llvm-dev] [5.0.0 Release] Release Candidate 4 tagged
    • LLVM 5.0 Release Should Be Imminent

      LLVM 5.0 was supposed to be officially released last week, but instead another release candidate was warranted while the stable debut is expected in the days ahead.

      LLVM release manager Hans Wennborg opted for a 5.0-RC4 release on Tuesday due to a few more changes trickling in as they try to clear their blocker bug list for this six-month update to the LLVM compiler infrastructure.

    • 3 open source Python GUI frameworks

      There comes a time in the journey of most any programmer when they are ready to branch out past the basic examples and start to build a graphical interface to their program.

      In Python, the steps to get started with GUI programming are not terribly complex, but they do require the user to begin making some choices. By its nature as a general purpose programming language with interpreters available across every common operating system, Python has to be fairly agnostic as to the choices it presents for creating graphical user interfaces.

    • Today is a Good Day to Learn Python

      The cool thing about Linux and FOSS is also an aggravating thing, which is that sometimes there’s too much of a good thing. There is such an abundance of goodies that it can be overwhelming. So I am here to help you decide which programming language you should learn next, and that is Python. Oh, yes, it is.

      Why Python? I like it because it is clean and straightforward. It’s a great introduction to object-oriented languages. The Python world is beginner-friendly and, as a general-purpose language, Python can be used for all sorts of things: quick simple scripts, games, Web development, Raspberry Pi — anything you want. It is also in demand by employers if you’re thinking of a career.

      There are numerous excellent Python books and tons of online documentation. I want to show off Python’s coolness for beginners so you will get excited and go “Yes! I too must love Python!”

      But what about all the other languages? Don’t worry, they won’t get lonesome, and everything you learn in Python is applicable to many other languages as well.

Leftovers

  • What the Controlled Chaos of Burning Man Reveals About Cities

    [...] but the festival’s most impressive feat may be this infrastructural coup. In a moment when the powers at be can’t even fund the country’s shambling roads and bridges, the 2,000 organizers and volunteers who run Burning Man put together—and then take apart—a 70,000-person city in the space of two months. (That figure does not include emergency workers, government personnel, vendors, or contractors.)

  • Crowdsourced gaming of Google Translate dubs Kim Jong Un “Mr. Squidward”

    Google Translate—the Web and mobile tool that performs machine-learning-based translation of over 100 languages—has a small problem: to some degree, it depends on the kindness of strangers, both directly and indirectly. And that dependence can be gamed for amusing (or enraging) result, as we discovered today while working on a story about North Korea’s recent ballistic missile launches.

    When using Google Translate’s live feature—which performs machine-learning-driven translation of text viewed through a mobile device’s camera—to translate an article in the North Korean periodical Tongil Sinbo, we discovered that the feature translated the Korean characters for “Supreme Leader” as “Mr. Squidward,” as shown in the image above.

  • Tech support scam victims lost $120 million—and will get $10 million back

    The Federal Trade Commission is sending e-mails to victims of the scam with instructions on how to claim a partial refund, the agency said today. Scam victims will have until October 27 of this year to apply for a refund.

    The case stems from November 2014, when the FTC announced that “a federal court has temporarily shut down two massive telemarketing operations” that raked in more than $120 million “by deceptively marketing computer software and tech support services.”

  • Health/Nutrition

    • NOAA Announces $2.2 Million in Marine Debris Grants

      On Aug. 29, NOAA announced 15 new marine debris projects that will support marine debris removal and research received nearly $2.2 million in fiscal year 2017 funding through the NOAA Marine Debris Program. These projects support efforts to address the pervasive global problem of marine debris that can impact wildlife, navigation safety, human health, and the economy. Shown here: In an earlier NOAA-funded project, derelict fishing gear and other large marine debris were removed from remote Alaskan shorelines by the Gulf of Alaska Keeper.

    • Dubious stem cell clinic got hold of smallpox vaccine. FDA just took it away

      The agency announced plans on Monday for new policies and enforcement efforts to stamp out what it called “unscrupulous actors” peddling unproven, potentially dangerous, and often expensive stem cell therapies—including a bizarre and troubling instance involving smallpox vaccine.

  • Security

  • Defence/Aggression

    • How Pentagon Officials May Have Encouraged a 2009 Coup in Honduras

      Fort McNair, one of the oldest U.S. military posts in the country, is nestled on an outcropping of land where the Anacostia and Potomac rivers meet in Washington, D.C. There, within the National Defense University, is the Center for Hemispheric Defense Studies, where hundreds of Hondurans took courses over the years. In mid-July 2009, Honduran military officials sought the center’s help to solve a problem that had recently arisen.

      The Honduran military had just dispatched of its previous problem, President Manuel Zelaya, with a military coup. Now, the Central American military was facing international and regional condemnations for a brazen display of 1970s behavior in the 21st century. The military officials needed friends in the U.S. to rally behind it, but the Americans were wary of open shows of support. The U.S. had just revoked visas from top Honduran civilian and military officials, and suspended some security assistance.

    • Violent Alt-Right Chats Could Be Key to Charlottesville Lawsuits

      The chatroom transcripts and a related audio recording offer a new window into the mind set of march organizers before and after the August 12 rally. They were obtained and disclosed by Unicorn Riot, which describes itself as a “media collective” focusing on “dynamic social struggles.” Lawyers say the discussions could be useful in the criminal case against James Alex Fields Jr., accused of driving the car that killed Heyer, or civil lawsuits filed by people injured in the confrontation.

    • The Alt-Right’s Alternative Reality

      One thing to keep in mind during the Age of Trump is that reality shows are far more scripted than they appear. That simple fact should be used like a decoder card to decipher the combative stories and click-baited headlines emanating from Steve Bannon’s portentous reboot of Breitbart.

    • Entire Families Are Being Killed by U.S. Airstrikes in Raqqa, Syria

      On June 6, the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces announced the beginning of a military campaign to liberate the northern Syrian city of Raqqa from the Islamic State. In an interview at the time, the commander of the force, which is known as SDF, highlighted the critical role that the U.S.-led anti-ISIS coalition would play in the fight to take back the city. “The coalition has a big role in the success of the operations,” the commander said. “In addition to warplanes, there are coalition forces working side by side with the SDF.”

      Nearly three months later, the battle for Raqqa is still raging, and more and more civilians are dying from U.S. airstrikes. A relatively small number of ISIS militants are fighting to the death to defend their putative capital, while an estimated 160,000 civilians are trapped in dire circumstances, caught between the armed factions on the ground and bombarded by U.S. airstrikes and artillery barrages.

    • Moscow’s mercenaries reveal the privatisation of Russian geopolitics

      Mercenaries are illegal under Russian law, but that doesn’t stop them from being a central element of the Kremlin’s geopolitical adventurism, whether in Ukraine or, even more clearly, Syria. The tale of Wagner, a St Petersburg outfit at the heart of the fighting in Syria, says much about the privatisation of statecraft and the mobilisation of private enterprise in modern Russia.

      The private security industry is a major sector in Russia, but private military companies (PMCs), those directly involved in fighting in combat operations rather than simply guarding people, goods and facilities, remain outside of Russian law. ChVK (Private Military Company) Wagner, despite having offices in St Petersburg and a training camp on the grounds of a Russian commando base in southern Russia, has managed to thrive, perhaps because its main client has been the Russian state and its Syrian ally.

    • As US Empire Fails, Trump Enters a Quagmire

      Trump’s Afghan policy is inaccurately described as a new approach but has only one element that is new – secrecy, as Trump will not tell us how many soldiers he will send to this war. His so-called new strategy is really a continuation of the permanent war quagmire in Afghanistan, which may be an intentional never ending war for the empire’s geopolitical goals. Ralph Nader reviews 16 years of headlines about Afghanistan, calling it a “cruel boomeranging quagmire of human violence and misery… with no end in sight.”

    • The Empire Stopper
    • Trump’s Afghan War Speech: More Of The Same, With More Killing

      As a private citizen and presidential candidate, Donald Trump railed against the Afghan war. A waste, he said. Americans should withdraw, he said. But in last night’s speech, Trump went against his own instincts (so he said) and went with the failed policies of his predecessors. The war will continue, no timetable set, no troop levels determined, with conditions on the ground dictating America’s actions, according to the president.

    • Why the US and Japan didn’t shoot down latest North Korean missile

      At 6am local time on August 29, a ballistic missile was launched from near Pyongyang in North Korea. Flying 2,700 kilometers (about 1,700 miles), the missile arced over Japan’s northern island of Hokkaido, prompting Japanese officials to issue a civil defense warning to citizens.

    • Tension boils as North Korea says missile strikes near Guam are still a possibility

      Tension between the US and North Korea heated overnight (Aug. 30) as the hermit state confirmed that the waters near Guam—a US territory in the Pacific with a strong American military presence—are still very much a target.

      North Korean leader Kim Jong-un said the latest missile test, which yesterday sent a domestically made Hwasong-12 missile over Japan’s northern Hokkaido island, was “a meaningful prelude to containing Guam,” according to an article today in government mouthpiece Korean Central News Agency (KCNA). Earlier this month Pyongyang threatened to conduct an encircling strike around Guam involving four Hwasong-12 missiles landing in the surrounding sea.

    • NORTH KOREA’S MISSILE SHOT OVER JAPAN CALLS TRUMP’S BLUFF

      WHEN NORTH KOREA launched a ballistic missile toward northern Japan’s Hokkaido Island late Monday, its trajectory was initially unclear. Fearing the worst, the Japanese government interrupted television programming and issued digital alerts advising locals to find shelter. Though the missile ultimately flew over Japan and landed in the northern Pacific Ocean after a roughly 1,700-mile journey, the flyover was a powerful symbol of North Korea’s resolute effort to develop its missile program in spite of longstanding international opposition.

      North Korea has flown projectiles over Japan twice before. The first instance, in 1998, came with no warning; North Korea gave advance notice of the second, in 2009. The country couched both of those events as being part of satellite launches. Monday’s surprise launch came with no such explanation. But it fits into the larger context of North Korea’s rapidly escalating nuclear and missile ambitions—and, more alarmingly, it shows outright disdain for President Donald Trump’s recent bluster.

    • US may send more military might to Korean Peninsula, including F-35s and warships
    • Finnish president denies Trump claim of fighter jets sale

      Niinistö did not comment on Trump’s assertion at the time but looked surprised. He later denied the Boeing deal on Twitter and to reporters in Washington, as reported by Reuters.

      “It seems that on the sale side, past decisions and hopes about future decisions have mixed … The purchase is just starting, and that is very clear here,” Niinistö said.

      Finland already has purchased roughly 60 Boeing-made F/A-18 Hornet fighter jets, but in late 2015, sought to replace the aircraft.

      Five companies, including U.S. defense firms Boeing and Lockheed Martin, are in the running for the Finnish new contract, but the country will not make its decision until 2021. Also competing are Saab, Dassault Aviation and the jointly made Eurofighter.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • Taking the Fight to the Appeals Court: Don’t Lock Laws Behind Paywalls

      It’s almost too strange to believe, but a federal court ruled earlier this year that copyright can be used to control access to parts of our state and federal laws—forcing people to pay a fee or sign a contract to read and share them. On behalf of Public.Resource.Org, a nonprofit dedicated to improving public access to law, yesterday EFF challenged that ruling in the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

      Public.Resource.Org acquires and posts a wide variety of public documents, including regulations that have become law through what’s called “incorporation by reference.” That means that they were initially created at private standards organizations before being adopted into law by cities, states, and federal agencies. By posting these documents online, Public Resource wants to make these requirements more available to the public that must abide by them. But six standards development organizations sued Public Resource, claiming that they have copyright in the regulations, and that Public Resource shouldn’t be allowed to post them at all.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • This is probably the worst US flood storm ever, and I’ll never be the same

      Lightning crashed all around as I dashed into the dark night. The parking lot outside my apartment building had become swollen with rains, a torrent about a foot deep rushing toward lower ground God knows where. Amazingly, the garage door rose when I punched the button on the opener. Inside I found what I expected to find—mayhem.

      In dismay, I scooped up a box of books that had been on the floor. As I did, one of the sodden bottom flaps gave way, and a heavy book splashed into the water: From Dawn to Decadence, a timeless account of the Western world’s great works by Jacques Barzun. Almost immediately, a current from the rushing water beyond the garage door pulled the tome away, forever. Damn, I loved that book. An indescribably bad night had just gotten that little bit worse.

    • Hurricane Harvey: About That Wall…

      As I write this, Hurricane Harvey hovers off the Gulf Coast, menacing Louisiana and possibly ramping up for another go at Texas. Much of Houston, the fourth largest city in the United States, is under water.

      It may be weeks before the storms end, the waters recede, and basic utilities are restored. But this, too, shall pass — and then begins the rebuilding. Who’s going to do that rebuilding?

      A few years back, a contractor who built houses in Louisiana and Mississippi after Hurricane Katrina in 2005 answered that question for me. Demand for construction workers was high, but many American workers weren’t especially interested in spending months away from home, living in trailers or tents. And those who were willing to take jobs that didn’t have them home every night understandably commanded premium pay.

    • How Washington Made Harvey Worse

      Storms are natural events, but floods are usually man-made disasters. That’s because flood damage depends not only on how much water is involved, but on how many people and structures are in its path and how prior human intervention had affected that path. Government policies affect all three of those variables, which is one reason why “500-year floods”—which are supposed to have a 1-in-500 chance of occurring in a particular place in a particular year—are becoming so common.

    • Houston’s Big Dams Won’t Fail. But Many Neighborhoods Will Have to Be Flooded to Save Them.

      As Tropical Storm Harvey continues to pummel an already devastated Houston, many residents are terrified that the dams on two of the region’s massive reservoirs will fail, releasing a torrent of water into portions of the city that are already submerged — including downtown.

      The extra water that has accumulated in the Addicks and Barker reservoirs has strained their earthen dams — which have been considered in critical condition for several years in large part because of how ruinous it would be if they failed.

    • In Houston’s Fort Bend County, a furniture showroom becomes an unlikely refuge from the storm

      Fort Bend County is a part of the new Texas: fast-growing, prosperous, diverse and dynamic where it segues into suburban Houston – rural and traditional in its outer reaches. Hindu temples and Indian restaurants co-exist with gun stores and ranchers in cowboy hats.

      Now it is the scene of an unfurling disaster as levees are stretched beyond their limits, water spills from creeks and rivers rise from relentless rain. The area’s population of 750,000 have either evacuated, stayed in place in subdivisions that are now islands or decamped for shelters that fill up almost as soon as they open.

      While central Houston was hammered by tropical storm Harvey over the weekend, fresh visions of calamity emerged on Monday in the sprawling suburbs to the city’s west and south-west, where housing developments and strip malls have ravenously consumed what once was absorbent prairie land.

      Their proximity to the area’s many lakes and streams was a selling point. On Monday it was an existential threat.

    • Undocumented and Seeking Safety During a Natural Disaster

      Hurricane Harvey has already resulted in at least 10 deaths and dozens of injuries. Unfortunately, immediate relief is not in sight for Texas residents. As individuals, families, and entire communities prepare to assess the catastrophic damage this storm has wrought on lives, homes, and livelihoods, it is critically important that the federal government’s immigration agenda does not put more people at risk.

      Regardless of their immigration status, the people of Texas are in the midst of a serious and dangerous natural disaster. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Customs and Border Protection (CBP) should have put public safety first from the beginning. Yet, they have not been sufficiently transparent about their enforcement operations during Hurricane Harvey, so that undocumented Texans and mixed status families can make informed decisions about their safety.

    • Are Texas Shelters Safe for Undocumented Immigrants Fleeing Hurricane Harvey?

      Houston is reeling from Hurricane Harvey. Houses on the Texas Gulf Coast were devastated over the weekend, and tens of thousands of people fled their homes. The National Weather Service expects the rain to continue through Thursday. And the Federal Emergency Management Agency estimates more than 30,000 people will be housed in temporary shelters, calling for all hands on deck in helping Texas recover from the disaster.

      But for unauthorized immigrants, dealing with the aftermath of a natural disaster has an extra layer of complexity and risk.

    • Harvey to make landfall again, Texas death toll mounts from record floods

      Tropical Storm Harvey was set to make landfall again on Wednesday near the Texas-Louisiana border, adding more precipitation after a record rainfall that has caused catastrophic flooding and paralyzed the city of Houston.

      The storm that first came ashore on Friday as the most powerful hurricane to hit Texas in more than 50 years has killed at least 17 people, forced tens of thousands of people to leave deluged homes and caused damage estimated at tens of billions of dollars, making it one of the costliest U.S. natural disasters.

    • Tropical Storm Harvey takes out 911 centers, cell towers, and cable networks

      Tropical Storm Harvey has disrupted at least 17 emergency call centers and 320 cellular sites, and it has caused outages for more than 148,000 Internet, TV, and phone customers.

      The numbers come from the Federal Communications Commission, which activated its Disaster Information Reporting System to track Harvey’s impact on communications services. Communications providers are being asked to submit outage information each morning, and the FCC is publishing a daily summary.

      In 55 Texas and Louisiana counties that are part of the disaster area, 320 out of 7,804 cell sites were down as of yesterday at 11am EDT, according to the FCC’s latest summary published yesterday. That’s 4.1 percent across the area, but in a few Texas counties the cell blackouts affected more than 80 percent of cell sites.

    • Resting Sea Shepherd: A Pause in the Whale War Saga

      What a colourful run this outfit has had. Branded in 2013 by Judge Alex Kozinski of the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit as pirates, the Sea Shepherd crew will be hanging up their hooks while rethinking their whale protection strategy. Their long designated enemy, the Japanese whaling fleet, will be given some respite this hunting season.

      A crucial point here is evolution. The environmental battle, spearheaded by the Southern Ocean Whale Defence campaign, had become more troublingly sophisticated. “Military” tactics, claimed founder Captain Paul Watson, were being used by Japan. An already slippery adversary had raised the bar.

      But Watson, in his announcement, was attempting to give some lustre to the long term efforts of the project. Against absurdly gargantuan odds, a small organisation’s resources were mustered to save whale species from imminent extinction.

    • Heroism in the Age of Crisis

      The flood waters are still rising in Texas, swallowing up homes and whole communities. Rain is predicted to continue for days. Our hearts go out to those who have lost lives, family members, homes and possessions, including the many on this list who have been affected or are still in the storm’s path

      While Hurricane Harvey is “unprecedented” in its destructive power, it is not unexpected by those who take climate science seriously. It is not an aberration, but rather a symptom of the climate crisis. Indeed, flooding in Bangladesh, Nepal and India has killed 1,200 people this month.

    • Dr. Robert Bullard: Houston’s “Unrestrained Capitalism” Made Harvey “Catastrophe Waiting to Happen”

      The death toll continues to rise as massive amounts of rain from Hurricane Harvey flood Houston and other parts of Texas and Louisiana. The Houston police and Coast Guard have rescued over 6,000 people from their homes, but many remain stranded. Meteorologists forecast another foot of rain could fall on the region in the coming days. While the National Hurricane Center is now calling Harvey the biggest rainstorm on record, scientists have been predicting for years that climate change would result in massive storms like Harvey. We speak with Dr. Robert Bullard, known as the “father of environmental justice.” He is currently a distinguished professor at Texas Southern University. Dr. Bullard speaks to us from his home in Houston, which he needs to evacuate later this morning due to the rising Brazos River.

  • Finance

    • IVANKA BACKS TRUMP ADMINISTRATION’S PLAN TO SCRAP OBAMA RULES PREVENTING PAY DISCRIMINATION
    • DOJ investigating Uber for possible violation of foreign bribery law

      The Department of Justice (DOJ) is investigating whether managers at the ride-hailing app Uber illegally bribed foreign officials to do business in their country, according to a Tuesday report.

    • Robin Hood had the right idea: Why the left needs to deliver on the financial transaction tax

      This article was written for International Politics and Society and is republished here with permission. A financial transaction tax (FTT) — a charge on the buying and selling of stocks, bonds and derivatives — is an idea with widespread support amongst leading academics, many politicians and, most importantly, citizens. It was initially proposed by Maynard Keynes, the greatest economist of the twentieth century, and developed by Nobel Prize winner James Tobin.
      The economist’s answer to Robin Hood

      Numerous studies have shown a transaction tax helps diminish risks of costly financial crises by discouraging speculative behaviour and the short-term churning of assets. It is easy to implement, and can yield valuable tax revenue which can be used for financing investment. This in turn leads to inclusive and sustainable growth. Nicknamed the ‘Robin Hood Tax’, FTT is very progressive, as it is paid mainly by those with the deepest pockets. Indeed, a recent study by the US Tax Policy Center estimates that if an FTT were implemented in the US, the top one per cent of the population would pay 40 per cent of the total tax bill, and that the top 20 per cent would pay 75 per cent of the tax. This is because ownership of financial assets is concentrated among the richest people.

    • The Currency of Localism

      Local currencies favour local producers and discourage predation by multinationals, thereby retaining wealth locally and reducing environmental damage.

    • How President Trump’s Tax Plan Would Really Affect the Middle Class

      President Trump is set to speak in Missouri today where he will reportedly continue to tout his tax plan’s benefits for the middle class even though it would actually concentrate its tax cuts at the top — and could even hurt low- and middle-income families.

      Over the last two years, the President has released several different tax plans that would deliver trillions of dollars in tax cuts to the wealthiest Americans and corporations but do little to help working families. Yet, he’s consistently promised to help the middle class: in his inaugural address, for example, he said that “every decision” on taxes will “be made to benefit American workers and American families.” In fact, if President Trump’s proposed tax cuts are paid for through the types of spending cuts he has proposed in his budget, low- and middle-income Americans would clearly end up far worse off.

    • Ivanka Defends Trump Administration’s “All-Out Attack on Equal Pay”

      Civil rights groups spoke out on Wednesday about the Trump administration’s decision to scrap a rule aimed at preventing pay discrimination.

      President Obama introduced a directive that would have gone into effect early next year, requiring businesses with 100 or more employees to track wages for workers of various genders, race, and ethnicities and report the data to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). In defending their decision, the Trump administration claimed the rule would put unrealistic expectations on large employers.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Michigan Suffers From Some of the Most Extreme Gerrymandering in the Country
    • Trump Is Failing Because He’s a New Yorker, Argues Incoherent WaPo Op-Ed

      What? The idea that there is “resentful bewilderment” between two rich, powerful, prep school–educated corridors of power is nonsensical. Firstly, most of the “DC” players in question don’t actually live in DC, nor are they from there. Secondly, the whole premise strips race, class, profession and other actually consequential factors out of the equation, and instead reduces two wildly diverse cities to handful of essential properties—presumably those the author has observed in his narrow, wealthy circle while at the Post. Aside from being dopey and racist, it’s unclear how this taxonomy illuminates anything beyond pandering to this very same narrow, wealthy circle.

    • ‘Media’s First Instinct Is to Strip Ideology From the Conversation’

      The spectre of white supremacists marching with guns and torches, throwing KKK salutes, and screaming about Jews and Commies is a test for Americans, individually and institutionally, and we’re still seeing how various folks are responding. One of the primary institutions that should be asking themselves some questions right now are corporate media. Trouble is, the press being among the most sacred of cows for the press, how likely are we to see serious consideration of their own role? Not just Fox News, which aired a video of cars driving into protestors in January, with instructions to viewers to “study the technique,” but, say, CBS, whose CEO Les Moonves joked that Donald Trump’s candidacy “may not be good for America, but it’s damn good for CBS,” a line that has yet to be seriously interrogated by media elites.

    • No Mention of the Victims, But ‘What a Turnout!’ Trump Declares in Texas

      President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump arrived in southeast Texas today to survey the damage and relief efforts there as the region continues to cope with the impact of Hurricane Harvey—but in keeping with his demeanor during most of his public appearances, the president was unable to address a crowd of residents without mentioning the size of the audience.

      “What a crowd! What a turnout!” Trump remarked to a crowd of supporters in Corpus Christi who had come out to see him speak at a fire station after he met with local and state officials.

      According to a media pool report, “Reporters heard no mention of the dead, dying or displaced Texans and no expression of sympathy for them.”

    • Georgia GOP Rep. Tells Former Colleague She May ‘Go Missing’ Over Criticism of Confederate Monuments

      Former Georgia Democratic State Rep. LaDawn Jones is a long-time advocate of removing the state’s confederate monuments. In 2015, she pushed for a boycott of Georgia’s Stone Mountain after a white supremacist massacred nine black churchgoers in Charleston, S.C., arguing that the Confederate etching there had become a rallying point for far-right extremists.

      Jones’s advocacy, however has spawned a vitriolic reaction from some of her opponents. On Monday, GOP state representative Jason C. Spencer posted a photograph with a Jefferson Davis memorial on Facebook, saying that it represents the state’s history.

    • More than 100 charities claim they are being gagged by anti-lobbying rules

      More than 100 charities have warned that they are being gagged by controversial government legislation that they claim is preventing them from campaigning on issues affecting the poorest and most marginalised groups in society.

      An open letter signed by 122 organisations including Save the Children, Greenpeace and Christian Aid says campaigning is being “lost” from public debate due to the “draconian” requirements of the Lobbying Act.

      Dubbed the “charity-gagging law”, it dictates what charities can do publicly in the 12-month run-up to elections in order to ensure individuals or organisations cannot have an undue influence over the vote.

      Given the possibility of a snap election, charities say they are not able to carry out political campaigns now for fear of being hit with retrospective fines.

    • What Can We Do If A President Has A Conflict Of Interest But Doesn’t Think He Does?

      And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. The Sunlight Foundation, a nonprofit devoted to government transparency, has been compiling a list of the president’s alleged conflicts of interest from news reports and legal documents. As of July 5, their count sat at 609 different ethical quandaries, of which only 46 had been resolved through the dissolution of a company, divestment by the Trumps, or some other means. That’s a lot for a leader who assured America back in December that the president “couldn’t have conflicts of interest” and promised he’d solved all of his in a January press conference.

      How do you deal with conflicts of interest when the person at their center doesn’t believe they exist? That’s not a question unique to the presidency. Twenty years ago, the medical and scientific fields were in much the same position, with a handful of ethicists struggling to convince doctors and researchers that financial conflicts of interest with pharmaceutical companies and other industry sponsors were real and dangerous. As the political community weighs the options for increasing presidential transparency, it’s worth looking at how the same process has changed science — and at how little we still know about whether those changes worked.

    • The Folly of White American Denial

      Let me be clear and unequivocal: While corporate media may not have noticed, Trump revealed over and over again precisely what he was during the campaign. Between dog-whistles and out-and-out racist siren calls, Trump telegraphed the fact that he was, as it were, one “bad hombre,” one who only condemned leaks when they didn’t (allegedly) come from Russian prostitutes. He defiantly adopted neo-Nazi catchphrases (“America First”), chose a white supremacist, the now, hopefully, politically moribund Steve Bannon, as a key advisor, and when asked whether he would reject support from David Duke, incredibly not only denied that he knew “anything about him” but also white supremacists – only belatedly and disingenuously to denounce them when called out on it (sound familiar?).

    • AntiFa’s Moral Superiority and the Potential for Left-Wing Unity

      It is false to qualitatively compare an organization that explicitly seeks to exterminate certain ethnic groups with another whose goals are to protect those very people and their rights. Further, though AntiFa are stigmatized as activists whose sole purpose is violence, they are in reality engaged in a multitude of other tactics that are aimed at combatting fascism. Finally, a simple quantitative comparison of the violence perpetuated by these groups, their targets and results, proves the complete moral bankruptcy of drawing such an equivalency.

      Let us examine Charlottesville as a case study. There, neo-Nazis marched with torches across the University of Virginia campus chanting “blood and soil” (a Nazi slogan), “Jews will not replace us” and “white lives matter”, paraded alongside militiamen in full combat gear and assault rifles, fired at counter protesters unimpeded by police, threatened clergymen and women, and finally drove a car into a crowd, killing Heather Heyer and injuring many others. What’s more, a recent article has shown that some of the fascists at Charlottesville were planning for murderous violence in advance.

      In contrast, counter protesters were predominantly nonviolent and used defensive, not offensive tactics other than publicly shaming members of the other side. Cornel West went so far as to say that AntiFa activists saved his life as well as the lives of other clergymen and women trapped in a church.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • Judge throws out Sarah Palin lawsuit against New York Times

      A federal judge has thrown out a defamation lawsuit that former Alaska governor Sarah Palin brought against the New York Times over an editorial.

      Judge Jed Rakoff in Manhattan said Tuesday there were a few factual inaccuracies somewhat pertaining to Palin that were rapidly corrected. He says it may have been negligent, but was plainly not defamation of a public figure.

    • ‘University censorship tactics are a threat to freedom of speech’

      Brendan O’Neill made the comments in a wide-ranging article for the Spectator magazine – in which he also slammed student groups for resembling “factories of conformism”.

      O’Neill said freedom of speech and liberty was under threat as universities “socialise youths to think censorship is good and other people’s opinions are bad”.

    • Have You Experienced Hate Speech on Facebook? We Want To Hear From You.

      Earlier this month, in the wake of the Charlottesville attack on protesters, a post began circulating on Facebook titled: “Heather Heyer, Woman Killed in Road Rage Incident was a Fat, Childless 32-Year-Old Slut.”

      You might have thought that the post violated Facebook’s rules against hate speech. But, in fact, it did not. Facebook’s arcane hate speech rules, revealed by ProPublica in June, only prohibit hate speech attacks against “protected categories” of people — based on gender, race or religious affiliation — but not against individuals.

    • In Europe, Hate Speech Laws are Often Used to Suppress and Punish Left-Wing Viewpoints

      Terrorist attacks, and the emotions they spawn, almost always prompt calls for fundamental legal rights to be curtailed in the name of preventing future attacks. The formula by now is routine: The victims of the horrific violence are held up as proof that there must be restrictions on advocating whatever ideology motivated the killer to act.

      In 2006, after a series of attacks carried out by Muslims, Republican Newt Gingrich called for “a serious debate about the First Amendment” so that “those who would fight outside the rules of law, those who would use weapons of mass destruction, and those who would target civilians are, in fact, subject to a totally different set of rules.”

    • Miami Beach Mayor’s Lawyers Say Censorship Suit Is “Embarrassing” Him

      Poor, poor Philip Levine. The Miami Beach mayor has long been suspected of running a massive social-media-blocking campaign — over the past few years, he’s cut off critics, local activists, and even the main Miami New Times twitter account from reading his tweets. Multiple courts have ruled that politicians are not allowed to block people from viewing their social media accounts because those pages disseminate vital public information.

      So Levine is getting sued. And his lawyers tried to argue in court yesterday that the mayor shouldn’t have to sit for a deposition because answering basic questions under oath would apparently humiliate him.

    • The Evolution of China’s Great Firewall: 21 Years of Censorship

      In September 1987, a Beijing laboratory sent what became China’s first email. The message, to a German university, read: “Across the Great Wall we can reach every corner of the world.”

      The development of internet infrastructure in the past few decades has enabled Chinese people to continue crossing the “Great Wall” and communicate with the rest of the world. But Chinese authorities soon threw up another wall to prevent the people from accessing information they deemed threatening to the Chinese Communist Party.

      In 1996, Beijing enacted a set of interim provisions for governing computer information, and in 1998, the Ministry of Public Security launched the Golden Shield project — a national filter that blocks politically sensitive content from entering the domestic network.

      This censorship tactic scheme has long been nicknamed the Great Firewall, and has undergone periodic upgrades since it was first introduced, given that people’s efforts to cross the Great Firewall have been non-stop. Some describe the interplay between the Great Firewall and Chinese netizens as an ongoing “prison break”.

    • Blizzard vows tougher policies to punish Overwatch trolls

      Overwatch will soon start laying down harsher penalties on trolls that face player complaints under its existing reporting system, according to Director Jeff Kaplan. Posting in the Battle.net forums, Kaplan says that the current system of temporarily silencing accounts for abusive chat will be replaced with immediate account suspension for such issues “pretty soon.”

    • Western social media firms under fire as Iranians hint at dialogue over censorship

      Several social media companies in the West have been criticised for a perceived lack of transparency in alleged talks with the Iranian authorities on censoring content to the approval of the country’s strict religious authorities.

      Instagram, currently available in the country – as well as Twitter and YouTube, which are blocked but widely visited by Iranians using proxy servers – have all been reported by local media in recent weeks as as co-operating with the authorities to aid them in blocking or censoring “immoral” content.

      Newly installed communications minister Mohammad-Javad Azari Jahromi has been clear that he intends to shake up the status quo, promising citizens easier access to the internet and app platforms.

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • India’s Supreme Court Rules Privacy Is A Fundamental Right; Big Ramifications For The Aadhaar Biometric System And Beyond
    • Court Calls Out Government For The ‘General Warrant’ It Served To Facebook

      In a disturbing case involving the sex trafficking of minors, the 11th Circuit Appeals Court has reached a few interesting conclusions involving digital searches and the Fourth Amendment. Included in the court’s findings are rulings on the use of the All Writs Act to force Apple to unlock a device, an email warrant served to Microsoft, and warrants used to obtain a vast amount of information from Facebook. [h/t Orin Kerr]

    • EU Intelligence vanity Project
    • IOT Devices Provide Comcast A Wonderful New Opportunity To Spy On You

      For some time now we’ve noted how poorly secured IOT devices provide a myriad of opportunities for hackers looking for new attack vectors into homes and businesses. That’s of course when these devices aren’t just coughing up your personal data voluntarily. Whether it’s your smart fridge leaking your Gmail credentials or your internet-connected TV transmitting your personal conversations over the internet unencrypted, we’ve noted time and time again how IOT manufacturers consistently make privacy and security an afterthought — one that’s going to ultimately cost us more than some minor inconvenience.

      But in addition to the internet of broken things being a privacy and security dumpster fire, these devices are providing a wonderful new opportunity for larger ISPs looking to monetize the data you feed into their networks on a daily basis. A new study out of Princeton recently constructed a fake home, filled it with real IOT devices, and then monitored just how much additional data an ISP could collect on you based in these devices’ network traffic. Their findings? It’s relatively trivial for ISPs to build even deeper behavior profiles on you based on everything from your internet-connected baby monitor to your not so smart vibrator.

    • Uber to stop tracking customers after ride is over

      The company last year began tracking customers from the time they requested a ride until five minutes after it was over. The surveillance strategy, Uber said at the time, would allow Uber to analyze whether people were being dropped off and picked up properly—like on the correct side of the street.

      That five minutes of post-ride monitoring is being discontinued first with an update to the iOS app this week, and was abandoned months ago for Android devices. An Uber spokeswoman tells Ars that Uber “never collected” post-ride data on iOS devices.

      The development comes days after Uber’s board picked Dara Khosrowshahi as its new chief executive. Khosrowshahi, the CEO of Expedia, is replacing Travis Kalanick, who resigned under pressure after a bruising investigation into Uber’s toxic corporate culture.

    • New real name rules introduced for China’s internet users

      But now the country is going one step further with new rules that require websites to verify the real identity of their users before allowing them to comment online.

    • A Promising California Bill Could Help Communities Stop Secret And Discriminatory Police Surveillance

      California is on the verge of passing Senate Bill 21 (SB 21), a strong bill that, in its current form, would help empower communities and their local elected officials to stop secret and discriminatory use of police surveillance technologies. Making sure state lawmakers enact robust surveillance reform laws is all the more important right now as the Trump administration equips its deportation force with surveillance capabilities, aggressively pursues political activists, and escalates pressure on sanctuary cities. Now is the time to make sure a strong SB 21 — with no further amendments — gets across the finish line.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Body-slammed reporter wants to know why Rep. Gianforte still won’t grant interview

      Ben Jacobs, the reporter who was assaulted by Montana congressional candidate Greg Gianforte, says Gianforte has reneged on what Jacobs believed was a commitment to grant him an interview.

    • Man born and raised in UK told he is not a British citizen

      A 21-year-old man who was born and raised in Britain has been told to leave the UK by the Home Office because he is not a British citizen.

      Shane Ridge, a joiner from Colne in Lancashire who describes himself as “as British as they come”, received a letter from the Home Office last week informing him that his driving licence would be revoked as he had “no lawful basis to be in the UK”.

      It came as a surprise because all of Ridge’s relatives are British citizens. His mother was born in Australia during a family holiday, but has lived in Britain since then and has dual citizenship.

      [...]

      The letter said the Home Office was working with the DVLA, NHS and banks to “stop access to benefits and services for those with no lawful basis to be in the UK”. It added: “This includes you.”

    • I’m a Police Officer Serving My Community. My Pregnancy Made Me Unwelcome On the Force.

      As a woman working in law enforcement, I’ve become accustomed to being in the minority — it’s something women know when choosing a career in policing. But after six years on the job, what I didn’t anticipate was the discrimination I would face for being pregnant.

      I joined the police department in my hometown of Cromwell, Connecticut, four years ago. I’ll never forget the pride I felt when my mother pinned my badge on me at my swearing in ceremony while my family looked on.

    • Trump’s Pardon Aside, Reporters Have Built Long Rap Sheet Against Sheriff Joe

      President Donald Trump issued his first pardon to Joe Arpaio, the former Maricopa County sheriff famous for using his local police force to aggressively pursue undocumented immigrants. In its official statement, the White House credited Arpaio with “more than fifty years of admirable service to our nation,” which made him “a worthy candidate” for a pardon.

      Below is a list of essential reading on one of the most reviled and beloved lawmen in the U.S.

      In November 2004, Arpaio won re-election to his fourth term as sheriff and quickly set about reorganizing the police force by transferring some 140 deputies to different positions. Mark Flatten, then a reporter at the East Valley Tribune, found evidence the moves were tied to the deputies’ political loyalty, or lack thereof, to Arpaio. “Those who worked to re-elect the sheriff moved into more prized positions,” Flatten wrote. “An analysis of the transfers of sworn officers by the Tribune shows deputies who backed Saban, Arpaio’s rival in the Republican primary last September, were moved to such jobs as transporting prisoners or standing watch in courtrooms.”

    • At Guantánamo, Men Accused in 9/11 Attacks Faced Their 24th Round of Pretrial Hearings

      Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and his nephew Ammar al-Baluchi donned new Baluchi hats last week for the 24th round of pretrial hearings in the military commission case against the five men accused in the 9/11 attacks.

      A small group of media representatives and non-governmental observers, family members of five people who died at the World Trade Center, and a survivor of the Ground Zero recovery cleanup were witnesses to the week-long proceedings, as prosecution and defense argued over procedural issues involving document declassification and weighty issues involving legality of the death penalty charges against the defendants, and the destruction, most likely between July 2014 and December 2015, of a CIA black site where at least one of the men was tortured.

    • Bias in Arizona’s Reaction to Immigrants

      President Trump’s pardon of former Arizona Sheriff Joseph Arpaio over a contempt-of-court conviction when he refused to comply with an order to end racial-profiling in detaining suspected undocumented immigrants again shows Trump’s readiness to flout the law in protection of friends while his administration declared that even Hurricane Harvey wouldn’t stop the immigration crackdown.

      “The Border Patrol is a law enforcement agency and we will not abandon our law enforcement duties,” said a statement from the Rio Grande Valley Sector office last Thursday, vowing to “remain vigilant against any effort by criminals to exploit disruptions caused by the storm.”

      Though overshadowed by the Arpaio pardon and the storm, Arizona students and their parents won a victory in Federal Court in Arizona with the restoration of a popular Mexican-American ethnic studies program. On Friday, I spoke with Cesar Cruz, an author and educator who was in Tucson to witness the court case.

    • Brexit makes labour exploitation more likely in the UK

      A report published today by Focus on Labour Exploitation (FLEX) and the Labour Exploitation Advisory Group (LEAG) reveals how growing uncertainty about the rights and status of EU nationals in the UK is increasing the risk of labour exploitation. It shows how rising levels of hate crime, and growing migrant worker uncertainty about their rights, have already had an impact on workers. More worrying for the future, it is now clear that Brexit poses a real threat to future rights and protections for all workers. By creating the conditions in which exploitation can thrive, Brexit is now a major obstacle to the prime minister’s commitment to tackle so-called ‘modern slavery’.

    • Turkish Security Officials Indicted for Attacking US Protesters

      A grand jury in Washington has indicted 19 people, including 15 Turkish security officials, in connection with a brawl that broke out during Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s visit to the U.S. capital in May.

      The indictments, announced Tuesday, charge the defendants with attacking peaceful protesters outside the Turkish ambassador’s residence.

      All 19 are charged with conspiracy to commit a crime of violence, a felony punishable by a statutory maximum of 15 years in prison. Several face additional charges of assault with a deadly weapon.

    • Finally, MLK Jr’s Revolution? Challenging Confederate Generals and US Generals Today

      King’s revolutionary call to “get on the right side of world revolution” insists that we cannot separate the fight at home against white supremacy (and its legacy of slavery and Confederate generals) from resistance to US militarism wherever it is at work in the world today.

      Challenging statues of Confederate generals could become a way to begin the “revolution” that Martin Luther King, Jr. called for in his speech at New York’s Riverside Church. The militarism of the Confederate generals, however, is best resisted today by criticizing it within King’s vision of a world resistance to US militarism.

      2017 marks 50 years since King gave that address in 1967 on April 4. Maybe finally – after five decades and ten presidents from Lyndon Johnson to Donald Trump – U.S. peoples will begin a comprehensive challenge to their own militarized government, one that King named that day as “the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today.” King’s joining of resistance to U.S. white supremacy with resistance to U.S. wars abroad was a theme of his last year, between that Riverside Church speech and his assassination a year later to the very day, on April 4, 1968.

    • Fighting the Klan in Reagan’s America

      The recent far-right rallies in Charlottesville and Boston seem to offer two possible visions of the future. Will the resurgence of white supremacist organizing take us down a path of chaos and spiraling violence, as in Charlottesville? Or will the far right — a still relatively powerless, if vocal, minority — be outnumbered, humiliated, and beaten back with little fanfare, as in Boston?

      At times it can seem like this dramatic reappearance of racist, far-right movements is a return to an uglier time. It’s harder to visualize such events as peaks in a long-running continuum.

      But examined from the perch of history, this is precisely how they appear. In fact, one of the last major resurgences of white supremacist organizing occurred relatively recently — not way back amid the rise of fascism in the 1930s, but at the start of the 1980s. Examining this history not only provides some much-needed perspective — it may provide lessons for antifascists today.

    • Samim Bigzad: UK Government’s attempt to deport Afghan asylum seeker fails after pilot refuses to take off

      The deportation of a young Afghan man refused asylum by the Government has been dramatically stayed after the pilot of the plane he was supposed to be removed on refused to take off.

      Samim Bigzad’s friends and family feared their efforts to prevent him being forced back to Kabul had failed when he was detained and booked on commercial flight to Afghanistan via Istanbul.

      The 22-year-old’s cousin previously told The Independent he feared he would be killed in the city he fled two years ago after being threatened with beheading by the Taliban.

    • France tells Philippines’ Duterte: human rights important

      France on Wednesday rejected claims by Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte that people were guilty until proven innocent in its legal system, as it emphasised the importance of human rights and rule of law.

      The statement released by the French embassy followed Duterte’s assessment of the judicial system in France on Monday as he defended his controversial war on drugs that has claimed thousands of lives.

      “We have to point out that, as in the Philippines, the presumption of innocence until proven guilty is at the core of the French judicial system, based on the principles enshrined in the French Declaration of Human and Civic Rights of August 26, 1789,” the statement said.

    • Man in jail 2 years for refusing to decrypt drives. Will he ever get out?

      A now-fired Philadelphia cop has been behind bars for almost two years for refusing to decrypt hard drives that authorities found at his residence as part of a federal child-porn investigation. On Thursday, his lawyers are set to ask a federal judge to release him while he appeals the reason for his confinement to the Supreme Court. If the justices take the case, it would be the first time they weighed the constitutionality of whether forcing somebody to decrypt hardware amounts to a Fifth Amendment violation.

      [...]

      All of which is why Rawls has been behind bars for longer than anybody who has refused to unlock passcode-protected devices.

    • Georgia GOPer warns black attorney she ‘may go missing’ if she tries to remove Confederate monument

      A Republican member of the Georgia House of Representatives issued a veiled threat of lynching to a black former colleague who expressed anti-Confederate memorial sentiments on his Facebook.

      According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Georgia State Rep. Jason Spencer (R) did exactly that on a Facebook post when former state representative LaDawn Jones expressed a distaste for a photo he took with a Confederate monument.

      “This is Georgia’s history,” Spencer wrote on a post accompanied by a selfie he took with a South Georgia monument to Confederate president Jefferson Davis.

    • Suit blaming iPhone for student’s death by texting driver is defeated by Apple

      A California judge is dismissing a lawsuit brought by the family of a 20-year-old Minnesota college student who blames Apple for his 2013 death by an iPhone-wielding texting teen.

      The dead boy’s family claims that Apple had a legal duty to help prevent texting while driving and that it could have used patented technology it has developed to prohibit motorists from driving while distracted.

      Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge Maureen Folan, however, took Apple’s side. She agreed with Cupertino’s position that Apple didn’t cause the crash that killed David Riggs while he was riding his scooter. What’s more, the court agreed with Apple’s contention that it does not have a legal obligation to help prevent distracted driving.

      “The chain of causation alleged by plaintiffs in this case is far too attenuated for a reasonable person to conclude that Apple’s conduct is or was a substantial factor in causing plaintiffs’ harm,” the judge wrote (PDF). Further, the judge said that “defendant Apple does not owe a duty of care to plaintiff.”

    • Warrant Affidavit Shows How Easy It Is To Bilk The Government Out Of Excess Equipment

      Seamus Hughes, the Deputy Director of George Washington University’s Program on Extremism, happened across an extraordinary story — told in warrant affidavit form — of a man who faked up a research lab and started scoring himself truckloads of free equipment from the US government.

      According to the allegations in the warrant [PDF], Patrick R. Budic discovered a nifty way to exploit government excess equipment giveaways, utilizing a nonexistent company to make off with nearly $11 million in equipment ranging from GPS units to aircraft radios to hospital beds. The figure might have been much, much higher. The affidavit shows Budic tried (but failed) to acquire aircraft on more than one occasion.

      The setup echoes the sting operation the Government Accountability Office performed as part of its investigation of the Defense Department’s 1033 program. The GAO set up a fake law enforcement agency and was able to obtain over $1 million in excess military gear before wrapping up its investigation. In that case, there appeared to be almost zero follow-up by the agencies in charge of disbursement. No one called. No one visited the fake address to verify the fake law enforcement agency’s existence.

    • Human smuggling: the pride of Niger’s economy

      I’m Luca Raineri, and I’m a research fellow at the Sant’Anna School of Advanced Studies of Pisa Italy. I have been carrying out field research mostly in the Sahel, Mali, Niger, and Senegal dealing with extra-legal economies and the trafficking taking place in this huge Saharan region. This includes weapons trafficking, drug trafficking, human trafficking, and human smuggling.

    • Trump’s Pardon of Joe Arpaio Is Deeply Disturbing

      During a speech to a group of police officers in July, President Trump returned to one of his favorite themes of the campaign season: violence. “Please don’t be too nice” to the “thugs being thrown into the back of a paddy wagon,” Trump advised the officers. Be “rough.”

      The president’s endorsement of police brutality was met with applause from the officers and shock from activists and pundits alike.

      Sensing the brewing backlash, the White House insisted that the president was simply making a joke. Even Attorney General Jeff Sessions, the country’s top law enforcement official — a man with his own complicated history of encouraging the worst impulses of the police — attempted to distance himself from the controversy.

    • Trump Is Trying to Cut Disaster Relief to Build a Border Wall

      Texas is still underwater, but the administration is so focused on mass deportation that it is openly neglecting real risks.

    • Trump Hides Behind the Storm

      As Hurricane Harvey raged, the president tried to use the disaster as cover. It may have worked.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • Net neutrality comment deadline is tomorrow; 21.9 million comments in so far

      You have until midnight Eastern Time tomorrow night (Wednesday) to file comments on the Federal Communications Commission plan to deregulate broadband service and roll back net neutrality rules.

      There are 21.9 million filings on the FCC’s “Restoring Internet Freedom” docket already, blowing away the four million received before the 2015 decision that imposed net neutrality rules. Many comments are apparently from spam bots and form letters, but Chairman Ajit Pai’s proposal to undo net neutrality rules has received massive attention.

    • California Case Against Backpage Moves Forward Over Money Laundering Claims

      Late last year, we wrote about ridiculous charges by California’s then Attorney General, Kamala Harris, against Backpage.com for “pimping.” As we pointed out at the time, Harris clearly knew the case was a loser. It completely exaggerated what Backpage had done, and Harris herself had earlier admitted that she had no authority to go after an internet platform for how people used it. A judge quickly threw out the charges against Backpage… and Harris turned around and filed even more charges against Backpage’s execs, including repeating the pimping charge and adding in “money laundering.”

      As we noted at the time, the money laundering charges seemed pretty questionable. It’s based on the fact that Backpage had set up a separate (and separately named operation) to handle billing. The complaint argues that this was a form of money laundering, to hide from credit card companies that the money was being spent on prostitution. That leaves out, of course, that part of the reason why Backpage likely had to set up such a structure was because Cook County Sheriff Thomas Dart had threatened credit card companies if they didn’t stop working with Backpage — a move that was later deemed to be a clear First Amendment violation against the company by Sheriff Dart.

    • Sex Trafficking Expert: CDA 230 Helps Victims And SESTA Would Harm Trafficking Victims

      Over the last few weeks, we’ve been talking about SESTA — the Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act. Part of our argument is that the bill will be completely counterproductive to its own goals. As we explained in a letter to Congress (signed by a bunch of tech companies), after two decades of watching CDA 230 in practice, it’s clear that SESTA will do the exact opposite of what supporters claim it will do. But that’s from the point of view of internet companies who know how the law intersects with technology.

      But what about experts in trafficking. In our letter, we admitted that area is not our expertise, but that we’re all supportive of the idea of stopping trafficking. However, someone who is an expert in trafficking is Alexandra Levy, a law professor at Notre Dame, who works at the Human Trafficking Pro Bono Legal Center and teaches a class entirely about human trafficking. She’s written up a fascinating blog post for professor Eric Goldman’s blog where she explains why SESTA will be a total disaster for human trafficking.

    • How Section 230 Helps Sex Trafficking Victims (and SESTA Would Hurt Them) (Guest Blog Post)

      When courts first tackled the question of whether internet intermediaries should be held accountable for material they publish, they struggled to come up with the right analogy. Were computer networks more like bookstores, or like newspapers? Should they be treated like real property, like common carriers, like radio stations, or as something else altogether?

      Congress finally addressed the issue in 1996. It found that the nature of the Internet called for an entirely new regulatory approach. Encouraging the proliferation of “political, educational, cultural, and entertainment services,” while minimizing the spread of “lascivious, filthy, excessively violent, harassing, or otherwise objectionable” material, required careful consideration of what, exactly, online intermediaries were in a position to do.

    • Even Many ISP-Backed Allies Think Ajit Pai’s Attack On Net Neutrality Is Too Extreme

      With its quest to gut net neutrality, privacy and other consumer broadband protections, the FCC is rushing face first toward stripping meaningful oversight of some of the least-liked — and least competitive — companies in America. The FCC’s plan, based on flimsy to no data and in stark contrast to the will of the public, involves gutting most FCC oversight of broadband providers, then shoveling any remaining authority to an FTC we’ve noted is ill-suited, under-funded, and legally ill-equipped for the job. That’s a real problem for a sector that’s actually getting less competitive than ever in many markets.

      Giant ISPs and their armies of policy allies often try to frame the effort as a noble quest for deregulation, often insisting they’re somehow “restoring internet freedom” in a bare-knuckled attempt to pander to partisan constituents. But by any sane measure the FCC’s quest is little more than a massive gift to despised duopolies like Comcast — at what might be the worst possible time for a severely dysfunctional industry. But there are signs that even many traditional big ISP allies think Ajit Pai’s plan is absurdly extreme.

    • China dwarfs the rest in the digital world

      With 751 million Internet users — nearly 55% of the population — and 663 million smartphone users, China dwarfs every other country when it comes to digital metrics. Of those Internet users, 72.1% are between 10 and 39 years old.

    • The Return of the Static Site

      Taking advantage of those pieces allows us to build fast, reliable, scalable sites using the technology we prefer — and as a bonus, weekends are a lot more carefree, knowing an entire site won’t go down without us. If the return of static sites is the way of the future (even if it was also the way of the past), we’re definitely on board.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Copyrights

      • After Previously Claiming the Economics Would Never Work, HBO Streaming Now A Major Windfall

        For years, HBO and owner Time Warner fell into the trap of telling customers what they wanted instead of the other way around. You might recall that HBO and Time Warner spent years waging a rather scorched earth assault on piracy and other “unauthorized viewing,” going so far as to poison show torrents and shut down “Game of Thrones” viewing parties. A major problem with this approach is that HBO wasn’t fully providing pirates an alternative. While HBO was offering streaming to existing cable customers, it spent years ignoring consumer calls for a standalone streaming video platform that didn’t require cable.

        There were any number of reasons for this myopia, the biggest being that like any good legacy company, HBO and Time Warner execs were afraid of wounding the traditional cable cash cow (even if said cow was already showing signs of notable mortality at the time). More specifically, HBO was afraid of hurting the cozy, heavily-subsidized relationship HBO enjoys with many cable providers, who all but give the channel away on occasional promotion. So while offering a standalone streaming platform was essential in evolutionary context, HBO consistently insisted it just couldn’t make the economics work for such an option.

      • Horrible or non-existent Mayweather-McGregor fight streams prompt lawsuit

        Showtime was hit with a federal class-action lawsuit amid reports that it delivered shoddy or non-existent $99 streams of the Floyd Mayweather-Conor McGregor fight Saturday. This is contrary to Showtime’s promise of 1080p resolution at 60 frames per second.

      • Mayweather V. McGregor: Showtime Got Injunctions On Pirate Stream Sites Which Didn’t Work & Neither Did Their Own Stream

        As you will already know, a boxing match recently took place between Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Conor McGregor. The fight itself was far better than it should have been, but you may not know it if you couldn’t manage to actually see it. Much as it did in the run up to the Mayweather v. Pacquiao fight of a couple of years ago, Showtime went out and got some rather questionable injunctions against 44 sites it believed would be offering up the fight via an illegitimate stream during the live pay-per-view broadcast. That effort resulted in, ahem, only three million viewers watching the fight via illegal live streams. Thousands more downloaded video of the fight illicitly after it occurred. So, Showtime got a court to agree to questionable pre-crime activities with the result being rather mixed.

      • Judge Cracks Down on LinkedIn’s Shameful Abuse of Computer Break-In Law

        Good news out of a court in San Francisco: a judge just issued an early ruling against LinkedIn’s abuse of the notorious Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA) to block a competing service from perfectly legal uses of publicly available data on its website. LinkedIn’s behavior is just the sort of bad development we expected after the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit delivered two dangerously expansive interpretations of the CFAA last year—despite our warnings that the decisions would be easily misused.

        The CFAA is a criminal law with serious penalties. It was passed in the 1980s with the aim of outlawing computer break-ins. Since then, it has metastasized in some jurisdictions into a tool for companies and websites to enforce their computer use policies, like terms of service (which no one reads) or corporate computer policies. Violating a computer use policy should by no stretch of the imagination count as felony. But the Ninth Circuit’s two decisions—Facebook v. Power Ventures and U.S. v. Nosal—emboldened some companies, almost overnight, to amp up their CFAA threats against competitors.

      • Renowned Kodi Addon Developer MetalKettle Calls it Quits

        MetalKettle, one of the most famous Kodi addon developers of recent times, has called it quits. Citing concerns over the current legal environment, ‘MK’ says he considered what would happen if he found himself targeted by lawyers. Not wanting to take any more risks, he says he’ll concentrate on being a husband and father instead.

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