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09.11.17

Links 11/9/2017: GNU/Linux Preinstalled (Many New Options), New Stable Kernels, Mesa 17.1.9, Oracle Linux 7 Update 4

Posted in News Roundup at 11:14 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

Free Software/Open Source

  • Interoperability: A Case for Open Source – GC@MC Commentary

    Catastrophe (cat) risk models are fundamental tools for insurers, reinsurers, emergency planners, urban planners, and every business or government entity impacted by natural catastrophes. Since their creation by commercial vendors, computerized models have been essential for risk selection, assessing capital adequacy and measuring profitability, and are critical in both the public and private sectors for catastrophe and emergency response management.

    “For over 25 years, these models have led us on a journey toward increased risk understanding,” says Peter Hearn, President and CEO, Guy Carpenter, “a journey that now continues with the availability of open source model environments. Clients and regulators alike want to bring transparency, increased competition, and lower costs to the existing ‘black box’ model so companies can develop their own view of risk.”

    “The challenge with the ‘black box’ model is people don’t understand the input and output, which are key decision-making variables for insurers and reinsurers.” He explains, “Insurers and reinsurers have a fiduciary obligation to understand their risks and the models used to evaluate that risk. Insurers must also be empowered to better communicate their risk management decisions to shareholders, policyholders and regulators. When companies can make more informed decisions, they are better stewards for the industry and can potentially offer more products and protection to the marketplace.”

  • SF Open Source Voting – September 2017 Update / Newsletter

    The 5-member, newly formed Open Source Voting System Technical Advisory Committee (OSVTAC) has now held two meetings at SF City Hall, and things are moving along quickly. The committee now has its own website (hosted on GitHub).

    At its second meeting, the committee approved the first iteration of its document of recommendations for the open source voting project. You can read the document online. Just like the committee’s website, the recommendations are also hosted on GitHub. The recommendations are being developed in a way similar to how open-source software is developed. In addition to conventional methods like email, members of the public can also submit comments or suggested wording on GitHub, just like with open-source code. The committee will be able to discuss and vote on these suggestions at monthly meetings.

    One key difference from an open source project though is that because of state and local open meeting laws, committee members aren’t allowed to collaborate as a group outside of noticed meetings. This approach of soliciting public feedback on GitHub is a bit like how the Whitehouse solicited feedback on its draft source code policy last year.

  • We need to talk about the social media silos

    I suppose with the rise of Google and especially Facebook, this has changed: Free software has lost the battle for nothing less than electronic communication between human beings to a proprietary behemoth, and it is already – exemplified in a very minor and random way by the Guaraní – doing serious damage to democracy, to freedom of speech and to civil society in general.

  • Presearch is building a blockchain-based search engine

    Presearch is a Canadian crypto-startup building a blockchain-based search engine to take on Google. It is officially described as a decentralized search engine powered by the community.

    As with crypto-starttups, the company is giving everybody the opportunity to get in on the ground floor by way of a token sale. Actually, this is the Lot 3 token sale, and each token is going for $0.15 USD, and you can get those after you create an account using BTC, ETH, or USD.

  • Give Away Your Code, But Never Your Time

    What we need is a new industry norm, that project leaders will always be compensated for their time. We also need to bury the idea that any developer who submits an issue or pull request is automatically entitled to the attention of a maintainer.

  • Events

  • Web Browsers

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice

    • Oracle Linux 7 Update 4 General Availability

      Oracle is pleased to announce the general availability of Oracle Linux 7 Update 4 for x86-64 servers.

      The Oracle Linux operating system is an open foundation for the cloud. It is developed and extensively tested with demanding enterprise workloads like Oracle Database as well as many third-party applications in public and private clouds.

    • Oracle Linux 7 Update 4 Brings UEFI SecureBoot, USBGuard Added & Btrfs Supported

      While Oracle is slashing Solaris and SPARC jobs, their RHEL-derived Oracle Linux operating system continues getting pushed forward. Oracle Linux 7 Update 4 is now available as their re-based version off Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7.4.

      Besides incorporating the changes made by Red Hat in RHEL 7.4, Oracle Linux 7 Update 4 has finally added UEFI Secure Boot support with keys signed by Microsoft. Other additions in the name of security include OpenSSH now using SHA-2, a GPG check payload for Yum, NBDE security packages have been added, and USBGuard has also been added to protect against intrusive USB devices.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

  • BSD

    • FreeBSD Has A New ZFS Boot Management Tool & Library

      One of the interesting Google Summer of Code projects within the BSD realm this summer was working on a new boot management tool and library for ZFS on FreeBSD. It’s still in the works, but progress is being made.

    • openbsd changes of note 628
    • LLVM Clang Begins Working On CUDA 9.0 Support

      A Google developer has begun work on extending LLVM Clang’s CUDA support to cover CUDA 9.

      CUDA 9 is currently in release candidate stage and focuses on next-gen Volta GPU support, library optimizations, and more.

    • FreeBSD 10.4-BETA4 Now Available

      The fourth BETA build of the 10.4-RELEASE release cycle is now available.

    • OpenBSD Daily Recap

      Why did the schedule change to weekly? Reading code on IRC in the format I devised proved to have some drawbacks that I didn’t anticipate. It’s very challenging to read code you see for the first time in your life, make sense of it and constantly update other people via short text messages and links to the code you are looking at.

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC

    • Celebrate your SFD event this Saturday! Register now!

      The The Digital Freedom Foundation is very happy to announce that its fourteenth edition of Software Freedom Day will be celebrated this coming Saturday on September 16, 2017. If you haven’t registered your team yet it’s time to do it now!

  • Programming/Development

    • Everyone loves programming in Python! You disagree? But it’s the fastest growing, says Stack Overflow

      Python, which ranks consistently as one of the most popular programming languages, is the fastest growing major programming language, according to coding community site Stack Overflow.

      Stack Overflow’s metric here is visits to website posts tagged “Python” compared to posts tagged with other programming languages – specifically JavaScript, Java, C#, C++ and PHP.

      “June 2017 was the first month that Python was the most visited tag on Stack Overflow within high-income nations,” said David Robinson, a data scientist at Stack Overflow, in a blog post. “This is especially impressive because in 2012, it was less visited than any of the other 5 languages, and has grown by 2.5-fold in that time.”

Leftovers

  • RIP Jerry Pournelle, the first author to write a novel on a computer

    His reasoning for the steep investment (the system cost him $12,000) were entirely practical: it offered the means to enhance his productivity. It allowed him to correct typos and edit quickly and electronically, rather than performing edits by hand and retyping the entire manuscript for publication while using a typewriter. “I earned back the $12,000 investment in under a year just with increased sales,” he recalled.

  • How to make English football good again – the view from below

    During the international break a mini-spat over the England players’ supposed lack of pride in wearing the three lions shirt and playing for their country, provided a helpful starting point towards the remaking of football as a social movement.

    England’s inability to go even 1-0 up against the proverbial minnows of the Maltese football team until well into the second half was blamed on the lack of emotional commitment from Harry Kane et al to end the half-century’s worth of years of hurt. But it was more to do with their actual inability to play.

  • Apple has a ‘bundle’ plan to persuade you to pay $1,000 for iPhone 8, according to Barclays
  • 78 Egyptians die of heart attacks and breath failures in Mecca Hajj

    Death toll of Egyptian pilgrims performing Hajj in Saudi Arabia’s city of Mecca has risen to 78, said the Egyptian Health Ministry on Saturday.

    Ranging from the age of 60-80, most of the dead pilgrims had suffered heart attacks and breathing failures, Head of Egypt’s medical Hajj mission Ahmed al-Ansary said in a statement.

  • Flat design is harder to understand

    Interesting research from the Nielsen Group shows that a flat web design is harder for people to understand. The usability study was conducted against web pages, but the results apply equally well to graphical user interfaces.

    First, let me define the “flat” web design: Websites used to use colors on links (usually blue) with underline, and 3D-style buttons. Web designers really didn’t have to do anything to make that happen; the standard web styles defines blue as a link color (purple as a visited link color) and any button element will appear in a 3D style (such as beveled edges).

  • Hardware

    • Observing Reliability

      For my use of laptops this doesn’t change the conclusion of my previous post. Now the T420 has been in service for almost 4 years which makes the cost of ownership about $75 per year. $1.50 per week as a tax deductible business expense is very cheap for such a nice laptop. About a year ago I installed a SSD in that laptop, it cost me about $250 from memory and made it significantly faster while also reducing heat problems. The depreciation on the SSD about doubles the cost of ownership of the laptop, but it’s still cheaper than a mobile phone and thus not in the category of things that are expected to last for a long time – while also giving longer service than phones usually do.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Care not criminalization

      After Tori was arrested on drug charges in 2015, she began suffering from heroin withdrawal in jail. She was denied medical treatment, and her cellmate was threatened with punishment for attempting CPR when Tori collapsed. By the time medical staff arrived, Tori hadn’t been breathing for 10 minutes.

    • Lessons for an Anti-Terror Community

      We can do better than that, and we have been trying to do better than that. To cite one specific example, under the Affordable Care Act, mental health services finally received a decent inclusion in medical insurance. If this provision is now to be discarded, we are entitled to object on grounds of public safety and national security. There are no perfect defenses against terror and derangement, but if we know what fight we are in, we can see where to stand in it. Surely, for this struggle, we cannot justify disarming our community’s mental health capacity any more than we could justify disbanding the police or the intelligence services.

  • Security

  • Defence/Aggression

    • Banking on Uranium Makes the World Less Safe

      There is a curious fallacy that continues to persist among arms control groups rightly concerned with reducing the threat of the use of nuclear weapons. It is that encouraging the use of nuclear energy will achieve this goal.

      This illogical notion is enshrined in Article IV of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) which rewards signatories who do not yet have nuclear weapons with the “inalienable right” to “develop research, production and use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes.”

      Now comes the international low-enriched uranium bank, which opened on August 29 in Kazakhstan, to expedite this right. It further reinforces the Article IV doctrine— that the spread of nuclear power will diminish the capability and the desire to manufacture nuclear weapons.

      [...]

      The problem with this premise is that, rather than make the planet safer, it actually adds to the risks we already face. News reports pointed to the bank’s advantages for developing countries. But developing nations would be much better off implementing cheaper, safer renewable energy, far more suited to countries that lack major infrastructure and widespread electrical grid penetration.

      Instead, the IAEA will use its uranium bank to provide a financial incentive to poorer countries in good standing with the agency to choose nuclear energy over renewables. For developing countries already struggling with poverty and the effects of climate change, this creates the added risk of a catastrophic nuclear accident, the financial burden of building nuclear power plants in the first place, and of course an unsolved radioactive waste problem.

    • An Arab perspective on Channel 4’s ‘The State’

      Syria is the backdrop of this series, and although it is not listed among the cast, it is one of the most memorable characters with its pulverised and pillaged cities and villages and its civilians enduring a brutal proxy war with no end in sight. Glimpses of the horrors inflicted on the Syrians on a daily basis punctuate the drama, and shows why ordinary Syrians are risking their lives to cross to Europe.

      The issue of copy-cats or echoing is also dealt with, when prisoners wearing the Guantanamo orange jumpsuits are kept in cages similar to those used by the Americans on the Cuban island. ISIS hijacks the cause of Muslims detained in the American base and presents itself as their avenger and saviour, which complicates matters. For a corrupt regime like ISIS to champion the cause of Guantanamo Bay detainees taints them and hardens resolve against them.

    • Venezuela as a Latin American challenge

      The Bolivarian Revolution led by Hugo Chávez did not promise a liberal democracy. Its purpose was to establish a majoritarian democracy that would have led to a participatory democracy. In a popular and anti-elitist turn, it was taking up what Laureano Vallenilla Lanz, a Venezuelan journalist and politician, described in his 1919 book Cesarismo Democrático. Facing what he considered a disabled populace, Vallenilla defended the country’s need for an ideal, charismatic caudillo who should concentrate power and guarantee order. Or, to put it from another angle, and in Antonio Gramsci’s terms, in the face of the very severe instability derived from the 1989 Caracazo, Chávez appeared to many as the very expression of “progressive Caesarism.”

      Under Nicolás Maduro’s administration, the uncertain aspiration for a majoritarian democracy led by a “good Caesar” turned into a “regressive Caesarism” and became an ochlocracy led by a “bad Caesar”. According to Polybius (2nd century BC), an ochlocracy distorts democracy with its resort to demagoguery and illegality. In a more modern interpretation, what happens in an ochlocracy, rather than strengthening an organized people and the popular power, is that the masses are manipulated through different means as a tool and as the support base for the survival of the dominant group at the top of the government. As a result there is a setback in terms of some basic components of democracy – such as the protection of human rights – and authoritarian practices arise. In Venezuela, this has happened in the midst of an overwhelming economic crisis that is sweeping away the achievements that benefited the popular sectors, exacerbating social confrontation, and reinforcing an oil-based economy.

    • The Dangerous Decline of US Hegemony

      The showdown with the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea is a seminal event that can only end in one of two ways: a nuclear exchange or a reconfiguration of the international order.

      [...]

      That leaves option number two: reconfiguration. The two people who know best about the subject are Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping. Both have been chafing for years under a new world order in which one nation gets to serve as judge, jury, and high executioner. This, of course, is the United States.

      If the U.S. says that Moscow’s activities in the eastern Ukraine are illegitimate, then, as the world’s sole remaining “hyperpower,” it will see to it that Russia suffers accordingly. If China demands more of a say in Central Asia or the western Pacific, then right-thinking folks the world over will shake their heads sadly and accuse it of undermining international democracy, which is always synonymous with U.S. foreign policy.

      There is no one – no institution – that Russia or China can appeal to in such circumstances because the U.S. is also in charge of the appellate division. It is the “indispensable nation” in the immortal words of Madeleine Albright, Secretary of State under Bill Clinton, because “we stand tall and we see further than other countries into the future.” Given such amazing brilliance, how can any other country possibly object?

    • Slow and Unsteady: The Path to Justice for Victims of 9/11

      As our summer draws to a close and ushers in a cool and rainy September, there is a solemn chill in the air marking the approaching anniversary of the infamous attacks on the World Trade Center that took place September 11th, 2001 – nearly sixteen years ago. The memories are still fresh for the survivors and the family members of victims who are to this day living with their losses while continuing to fight for accountability through both the military court in Guantanamo, where individuals involved in the attacks have been tried or are still facing painstakingly slow trials. This upcoming sixteenth anniversary of 9/11 will be the first time since the attacks that the families now have another legal recourse for seeking accountability not only from individuals but from a nation involved in the attack: Saudi Arabia.

      Introduced in the Senate on September 16th, 2015, the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act (JASTA) removed a major roadblock to justice by opening the way for private US citizens to file suit against the Saudi government, which was previously protected by the blanket immunity given to foreign governments. There is much that we do not yet know about what went on behind closed doors with regard to the orchestration of the 9/11 attacks, but the declassification of the portion of the 2002 Congressional Joint Inquiry known as the 28 pages on July 15th, 2016, after 14 years of secrecy, offered the preliminary hope of some much-needed answers. Of the 19 total hijackers who carried out the attacks, 15 were from Saudi Arabia, and evidence contained within the 28 pages pointed to financial connections between these individuals and members of the Saudi government.

    • Deep Shame on Suu Kyi and Myanmar

      Few people have ever heard of Myanmar’s Rohingya people. Not many more could find Myanmar on a map – particularly after its name was changed some years ago from Burma to Myanmar.

      The exception is Burma’s sainted lady leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, who became a worldwide celebrity and Nobel Prize winner. The media loved her, a sort of Burmese Joan of Arc versus its brutal military junta.

      But now, tragically, the Rohingya are headline news thanks to Myanmar’s brutal ethnic cleansing of one of the world’s most abused, downtrodden people.

      Almost as revolting is the world’s failure to take any action to rescue the Rohingya from murder, rape, arson and ethnic terrorism. In recent weeks, over 270,000 Rakhines have been driven from their homes in Rakhine State in western Myanmar and now cower in makeshift refugee camps just across the border in Bangladesh in the midst of monsoon season.

    • Canada abandons proud history as ‘nuclear nag’ when most needed: McQuaig

      So insistent was Canada in pushing for nuclear disarmament that we became known among top NATO generals as the “nuclear nag.”

      Make no mistake — that was meant as an insult. But it gives me a shiver of pride to think that Canada was smeared because of our insistence on challenging NATO’s top brass over its determination to keep the world armed to the teeth with nuclear weapons.

      There have been impressive moments in our history when Canada, under previous Liberal governments, asserted itself as a feisty middle power by supporting, even occasionally leading, the push to get nuclear disarmament onto the global agenda, which makes the retreat by our current Liberal government all the more disappointing.

    • Trump to Urge UN to Impose North Korean Naval Blockade, Oil Embargo

      The draft resolution would also block the country’s exports of textiles and ban employment of its guest workers by other countries, Bloomberg reports. The resolution also seeks to freeze North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s assets, according to the report.

      Such a dramatic tightening of the economic vice is likely to meet resistance from China, which is anxious to avoid driving its embattled neighbor to the point of complete collapse; and Russia, which is promoting itself as a broker in the Korean standoff and has suggested that a new set of sanctions is “premature,” according to the Observer.

      “Up to now, the Chinese and the Russians have tried to keep on giving the US just enough to keep Trump playing the UN game,” said Richard Gowan, an expert on the UN at the European Council for Foreign Relations. “The question is what happens with an extraordinarily hardline resolution and US pressure to do something quickly.”

    • Trump will urge UN to impose North Korean naval blockade and oil embargo

      The US will embark on an aggressive effort to tighten North Korea’s isolation on Monday with a call for an oil embargo and a partial naval blockade.

      A draft United Nations resolution seen by the Observer would also block textile exports and the hiring of North Korean labour by foreign countries. The American delegation has called for the UN security council to debate the draft, in an attempt to force decisive action following last Sunday’s massive nuclear test of a bomb, Pyongyang’s sixth.

    • Trump in a fix: North Korea and Iran

      A pivotal moment in the “war on terror” was George W Bush’s state-of-the-union address to Congress in January 2002. Almost five months after 9/11, and two after the the Taliban regime in Afghanistan was terminated, the United States president here declared the global expansion of this war against an “axis of evil”. The three rogue states to be targeted were Iraq, Iran and North Korea. His graduation address at the West Point military academy in June 2002 made it abundantly clear that the US had every right to pre-empt threats from such regimes (see “Iran, and a diplomacy deficit”, 1 September 2017).

      Those speeches were infused with the outlook of the neoconservative right, especially the Project for a New American Century. The powerful backing from these quarters which fuelled Bush’s victory in 2000 was animated by an outlook almost identical to Trump’s “make America great again”.

    • How Donald Trump Is Trying To Blow Up The Iran Nuclear Deal

      In a speech last week at the American Enterprise Institute, a neoconservative think tank in Washington, U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley said President Donald Trump “has grounds” to decertify the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran, if he so chooses. In a speech laying out the Trump administration’s objections to the agreement, Haley said that the Islamic Republic of Iran had been “born in an act of international lawbreaking,” and suggested the very nature of the Iranian government itself made any deal undesirable. Haley added: “It is unwillingness to challenge Iranian behavior, for fear of damaging the nuclear agreement, that gets to the heart of the threat the deal poses to our national security.”

      The timing of Haley’s remarks is significant. Next month, Trump must decide whether to re-certify to Congress that the Iranians are complying with the terms of the deal, as per a law passed by Congress that requires the president to affirm compliance every 90 days. Trump has already signaled his own desire to kill the deal, saying last month, “I think they’ll be noncompliant.”

    • Yemen: a tragic tale of humanitarian hypocrisy

      The Arab world’s poorest state has been enduring a bloody civil war since 2015, heavily compounded by the world’s largest cholera outbreak. The nation has been bombed ruthlessly by the warring parties, with the Saudi-led coalition backing government forces in their fight against Houthi rebels. These extreme circumstances have had catastrophic results.

    • [Older] The Reagan-era invasion that drove North Korea to develop nuclear weapons

      Over the past few days, the United States and North Korea have become locked in nuclear brinkmanship. After North Korea declared that its ballistic missiles could hit anywhere in the United States, President Trump vowed that continued North Korean provocations would be “met with fire and fury and — frankly — power.” North Korea responded by threatening to attack the tiny island of Guam, a U.S. territory.

      But it was another tiny island that set the United States and North Korea down this path. Few Americans will recall the 1983 invasion of a small Caribbean nation thousands of miles from North Korea. But in fact, this conflict set the stage for the nuclear standoff today. It intensified the animosity between the two countries, sending North Korea on a quest for nuclear weapons to combat what it saw as a looming U.S. threat.

    • Echoes of Iraq-WMD Fraud in Syria

      The New York Times and other Western media have learned few lessons from the Iraq War, including how the combination of a demonized foreign leader and well-funded “activists” committed to flooding the process with fake data can lead to dangerously false conclusions that perpetuate war.

    • Nuclear Weapons, Natural Disasters, Bullies and Your Doctor

      The world watches as the natural disasters of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma and the earthquake off Mexico wreak their devastation, waiting for their final tolls of death, destruction and devastation. Yet on a daily basis the world faces a far greater manmade threat, that of nuclear war, as tensions between the U.S. and North Korea, the U.S., its NATO Allies and Russia over Ukraine and Syria, and between India and Pakistan play out. The actuality of nuclear war which has grown since the Cold War, would dwarf the devastation of these natural disasters, potentially bringing about the extinction of humans. Even a limited nuclear war between India and Pakistan, who are always on a war alert, using half of their arsenals, about ½ percent of the global nuclear arsenals, could kill up to two billion people, or a third of the world’s population, from the dramatic global climate change that would follow.

    • Is the US Empire’s Reign Nearing an End?

      With a sweeping and detailed account of how the US rose out of World War II to become the reigning empire, Alfred W. McCoy connects dots that reveal how the role of covert action and torture enhanced its powers. However, McCoy ponders that these may be the last days of US global hegemony. Truthout asked McCoy to talk more about these issues.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • Taking Aim at Wikileaks

      Various scribbles have started to pepper the conversation started by the adventurous Mike Pompeo after he branded WikiLeaks a hostile intelligence agency before the Center for Strategic and International Studies. (This would have generated a wry smile of content from Julian Assange.)

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

  • Finance

    • Google launches fightback against record £2.2bn Brussels fine

      The internet giant is expected to file the response to the European Commission’s €2.4bn (£2.2bn) penalty on Monday, the deadline for submitting an appeal.

    • Amazon seeks prime North American spot for second headquarters
    • Will Trump use NAFTA to institutionalize the wholesale delay and repeal of public protections?

      Unfortunately, the Trump administration and its corporate allies are planning an end-run around such pesky laws blocking full-scale deregulation. Because binding rules of international trade agreements can require changes in domestic laws and exact penalties if countries do not comply, they can force policy changes that lack popular and political support. A recent example is Congress acting to repeal broadly supported requirements for country of origin labeling of meat after Canada and Mexico challenged the rules as an unfairly discriminatory trade measure, and the World Trade Organization (WTO) agreed.

    • With All Eyes on DACA, the Trump Administration Is Quietly Killing Overtime Protections

      On September 5, the administration of Donald Trump formally announced that they won’t try to save Obama’s overtime rule, effectively killing a potential raise for millions of Americans. This disturbing development has largely slipped under the radar during a busy news week, marked by Trump’s scrapping of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.

      Twenty-one states and a number of business groups sued the Obama administration last September, after the Department of Labor (DOL) announced the new rule, accusing the former president of overreach.

    • Revealed: The Tory MPs using taxpayers’ cash to fund a secretive hard-Brexit group

      axpayers’ money is being used to fund an influential group of hard-line pro-Brexit Conservative MPs who are increasingly operating as a “party-within-a-party”, openDemocracy can reveal today.

      Despite expenses rules stating that MPs cannot claim for research or work “done for, or on behalf of, a political party”, the European Research Group has received over a quarter of a million pounds from MPs who claimed the public cash through their official expenses.

      The ERG, according to its current chair, MP Suella Fernandes, exists to ensure that Brexit will not be rendered “meaningless”. The group, regarded as an 80-strong private Tory caucus, wants Britain out of the EU single market and customs union. Its previous head, Steve Baker, now a minister in the Department for Exiting the European Union, said his group aimed to end EU’s “despotism” and give Britain back its borders.

      Forty MPs have paid money to the ERG and claimed it back as ‘research’ over the period covering the David Cameron and Theresa May governments. These include current ministers and members of May’s cabinet.

    • The way forward on Brexit is a new vote on whatever EU deal is reached

      Where there is no vision, the people perish, says the Book of Proverbs. As the slow-motion car crash of Brexit advances, we need a plan for stopping it.

      Here goes. Brexit is a revolution which devours its children. Most of those who spawned or supped with it have already vanished (Cameron, Hague, Osborne) or are disappearing beneath the waves (May and the three Brexiteers: Fox, Davis and Johnson).

    • Brexit negotiations: Key Round Three documents
    • Water privatisation looks little more than an organised rip-off

      How hard can it be to be the chief executive of a privatised British water company? Your customers are determined by geography, your prices set by a regulator and designed to offer ample scope to fund both capital expenditure and to pay returns to your investors. Pretty much all you have to do is to make sure your sewage plants work and to keep the public waterways clear of human waste.

      Yet even this bare minimum seems to have eluded Martin Baggs, the former boss of Thames Water. He, you might recall, was the man at the corporate stopcock when the utility’s malfunctioning plants spilled so much excrement into the Thames that locals in the Berkshire town of Little Marlow took to referring to the scum-covered surface as “crappucino”. The company was this year fined a record £20m for venting 4.2bn litres of raw sewage into the rivers Thames and Thame between 2012 and 2013.

    • Overseas anti-slavery initiatives flourish, but domestic governance gaps persist

      UK-based companies are ramping up efforts to combat slavery in their overseas supply chains. But companies also need to be working harder to address the severe labour exploitation taking place at home.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Steve Bannon on ‘60 Minutes’: Mainstream Media Trying to ‘Destroy’ Donald Trump

      Steve Bannon, in his first major interview since stepping down as Donald Trump’s chief strategist, lashed out at the mainstream media, saying it’s trying to destroy Trump, and defended the president’s use of Twitter as a necessary way of going over their heads.

    • If Mark Zuckerberg runs for president, will Facebook help him win?

      Facebook can shift elections. That’s why, with rumors swirling that the social media CEO might run, transparency is needed now more than ever

    • Why we can’t trust Facebook’s story about Russian ads

      So, how much did Russia’s political ad buys matter? The people in the best position to answer this question work at Facebook, which alone has access to the relevant data. But Facebook’s inconsistent statements, its history of errors in reporting on its own ad platform, and its reluctance to share relevant data about Russian hacking have added to its credibility gap.

    • Two NC Republicans say they accidentally asked the Supreme Court to end gerrymandering

      The letter in question, known as an amicus brief, had been submitted to the Supreme Court in advance of a case regarding politically motivated gerrymandering in Wisconsin. The court has long held that racially motivated redistricting is unconstitutional. But this could be the first time the nation’s highest court sets a standard for whether politically motivated redistricting can go too far.

    • John le Carré on Trump: ‘Something seriously bad is happening’ [iophk: Le Carré discredits his own otherwise good argument: “The Times Headline is that from a 2010 Fuel Truck disaster that happened in Congo and is NOT of Rohingya Muslims.”]

      Even today, Le Carré said, Ang Sang Suu Kyi is speaking of “fake news” in Burma.

    • Revisiting the United States After Twenty Years

      After having lived in the United States, intermittently, twenty-three years, I left the country once and for all in 1998, during the Clinton era. I had been hired by the UN War Crimes Tribunal in The Hague, and I stayed in the Netherlands for ten years, until I qualified for early retirement. By this time, I had put my daughter through college, and I was eligible to receive a small pension. During The Hague years I had gone back to the U.S. every two years, for visits lasting no more than two weeks. And, having lived in five countries in my life, I decided I didn’t want to go back to the U.S., and retired in Portugal.

      [...]

      My last exchange took place at Denver airport. My ticket was being handled by an African-American woman in her thirties. That week, the dominant news story was Charlottesville white supremacist rally and the truck that ploughed into the crowd, killing Heather Heyer. What did she think of these events and the political situation in the country with Trump as President? “We’re in a shitload of trouble,” she responded. “It all started with the tweets. But I think he’s crossed the line now when he blamed both sides.” I thanked her and said: “Good luck!” “God help us all!” was her answer.

    • To Serve Himself, Trump Just Set the GOP on Fire

      There has never been one moment, not one, when I believed Donald J. Trump would develop even marginal leadership skills once he became president. I never expected the much-ballyhooed “pivot” that would come just as soon as he realized how serious his job is and that we all might die if he screws up. The thought frankly never occurred to me. Waiting for a 71-year-old plutocrat to “mature” is not a high-yield use of my day. This is the guy who shouted, “Have a good time, everybody!” at a building filled with Harvey refugees.

      Which is what made Wednesday so thoroughly fascinating. The man with the political instincts of a lobbed brick somehow closed out the day with a multi-dimensional checkmate maneuver that took down a number of large birds with one throw. The fact that Trump’s motives were entirely self-involved only adds frosting to the cake.

    • Five Things to Remember About Catalonia

      Catalonia does not have the right to impose secession upon Spain. Nor does Spain have the right to impose unity upon Catalonia. Should a conflict such as the one that is now being played out in the Principality of Catalonia arise, the only solution is negotiation, as the Supreme Court of Canada made clear in its opinion on the now widely celebrated referendum on the question of independence for Quebec.

      Such a negotiation could have taken many forms and could have centered on many different aspects of the impasse. After the first September 11th (Catalan National Day) protests in 2012, the Catalan government proposed that the two sides engage in a renewed dialogue about fiscal matters and cultural rights. This proposal was not only rejected, but treated with open disdain. Catalan political forces have appealed on nearly twenty occasions for a negotiated solution to the celebration a referendum designed to clarify the true political will of the Catalan people. As is the case today, the party that has always refused to negotiate in the recent past has been Madrid. The Spanish state has consistently disdained the core democratic principle that disagreements should be resolved through good faith negotiations that respect the democratic expression of all political projects. This consistent pattern of disdain delegitimates the arguments of the Spanish government.

      [...]

      While the European Union has no provision spelling out what is to be done in the case of the secession of a part of a member state, there is a consistent practice when it comes to recognizing the results of referendums on self-determination. For example the EU took important decisions in response to the referendums of the Saar (1955), Greenland (1982) and Brexit (2016), and did not block the referendum in Scotland (2014). All of these referendums were held within the territory of the Union. And as we have seen, it accepted as member 7 states born of unilateral processes while also giving support to the practice of self-determination in cases such as that of Kosovo. This, in clear contradiction to Spain’s current posture in regard to Catalonia.

    • Even more US adults now getting news from social media, says Pew

      Now, in it’s latest survey, it says two-thirds (67%) of U.S. adults are reporting getting at least some of their news on social media. While a fifth (20%) report doing so “often”.

      And while it’s not a huge increase, it is nonetheless a rise (Pew terms it a “modest” increase).

    • A thought experiment – what would the Tories say?
    • Tory-DUP £1bn payment needs parliament’s approval after Gina Miller challenge

      Parliament will need to approve the release of £1bn in funding for Northern Ireland promised to the Democratic Unionist party by Theresa May to secure its support after the general election, the government has conceded.

      Challenged by the campaigner Gina Miller about the legal basis for releasing the funds, which have not yet been made available, the Treasury solicitor, who heads the Government Legal Department, said it “will have appropriate parliamentary authorisation”, adding: “No timetable has been set for the making of such payments.”

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • Arguments over free speech on campus are not left v right
    • There’s currently a politically motivated internet shutdown in the small African country of Togo

      Togo’s netizens are currently in the midst of an internet shutdown. Internet and mobile SMS service in the small African country of Togo has been shut down as of September 7th. Connection issues started on September 5th, when some users started having trouble connecting to social media sites without the help of a VPN. The internet blocking intensified in the days following. The internet block is a result of the ongoing protests during elections in the country. A government spokesperson, Gilbert Bawara, confirmed on FM radio that the internet had been cut for security reasons.

    • The killing of an Indian journalist spurs protests for free speech

      Spontaneous rallies erupted in cities and towns across India on Wednesday. Protesters demanded the government do more to protect free speech in the secular, South Asian democracy.

    • Jake Wallis Simons v Craig Murray

      This interview with Mark Lewis, the lawyer suing me, is headlined “UK’s Foremost Libel Lawyer Sets His Sights on Israel’s Enemies.” It characterises opponents of Israel as “Nazis” and opines “I am quite happy to take their homes off them… at least they can be a homeless Nazi.” I sincerely hope he does not consider me a Nazi, though plainly this case is started by my falsely being smeared as an anti-Semite. But no matter how objectionable somebody may find my views on Israel/Palestine, how does it serve justice that “at least my” wife and 8 year old son “can be homeless.” That is however precisely what Mr Lewis seeks to achieve and to be plain, he has threatened me in person with bankruptcy. The money, of course, would go to Mr Lewis and his team still more than to Mr Wallis Simons.

      English libel law is recognised throughout the world as a draconian affront to democracy. Its survival is due not only to the fact that it is an invaluable tool for the wealthy to use against poor radicals, but also to the fact that libel is a very wealthy industry, feeding money to rich and influential individuals, including of course not only the libel lawyers but also the judges and court system which are all part of this massive vested interest, which is extremely well represented in the Westminster parliament.

    • Inside the ACLU: defending white supremacists as a black attorney

      Being a black constitutional and civil rights attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) can be more emotionally unsettling than I am sometimes willing to admit.

      And over the years, I have struggled with decisions we’ve made to defend those who foment hate, who proselytize against my very existence and openly long for a return to the days when people like me were legally considered less than human. Because it means that as an ACLU attorney, I am defending them, too.

      The organization that fought alongside the NAACP Legal Defense Fund for school desegregation in the 1950s and that helped overturn extreme voter ID laws in Pennsylvania and Arkansas in 2014, also intervened on behalf of the white nationalist who organized the rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, three weekends ago in which one woman was killed and many others injured.

    • Farewell to Kyrgyzstan’s “island of democracy”

      In Kyrgyzstan, independent publications are being shuttered left, right, and centre on far-fetched and often absurd pretexts. The authorities frequently bring criminal cases against human rights activists and journalists — in other cases, the state slams them with huge fines or seizes their property.

      The unlucky ones who haven’t yet managed to flee the country end up behind bars or are banned from travelling abroad. We might as well rename the country — Absurdistan, perhaps?

    • Cambridge University Press headed for showdown with China over censorship

      Cambridge University Press is heading for a showdown with Chinese authorities after it refused a renewed request to block academic articles, following an outcry last month when it was revealed the publisher has restricted certain content in China.

      A Chinese state-owned importer asked CUP, the world’s oldest publisher, to block articles from the American Political Science Review.

    • Internet censoring: How the Cubans do it
    • Opinion: TV censorship alive and kicking in Hong Kong
    • Internet Censorship of a Different Kind

      A recent article in Ars Technica is titled: “Tech companies declare war on hate speech—and conservatives are worried.” I take issue with it, because it is not only conservatives who should be worried. Everyone should be worried. It’s similar to the contentious net neutrality wars in which the liberals (by and large) and their liberal friends in Silicon Valley are outraged at the prospect of net neutrality being dismantled by uncaring conservatives – the group presently in control of the agenda.

      On the net neutrality issue, conservatives too should be worried about the prospects of throttling and paid prioritization, among other things. They will suffer along with everyone else. Similarly, the knee-jerk reaction to far-right demonstrations – most notably in Charlotteville – of websites deciding what kind of “free” speech should be allowed, is equally unnerving – or should be.

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Thanks To The DEA And Drug War, Your Prescription Records Have Zero Expectation Of Privacy

      How private are your medical records? You’d think they’d be pretty damn private, considering Congress specifically passed a law regulating the disclosure of these sensitive records. Some states feel the same way, extending even greater privacy protections to things like prescription records. Not only are medical entities prevented from passing on sensitive info without patients’ consent, local law enforcement agencies aren’t allowed to obtain third-party records like prescription data without a warrant.

    • Investigatory Powers Tribunal escalates lawsuit to the EU

      The decision means that the ECJ will have the final say as to whether the UK’s collection of bulk communications data, granted under the Investigatory Powers Act, is legal.

      Privacy International, the UK-based privacy and online rights charity, first brought a case against MI5, GCHQ and MI6 in 2014 in an attempt to strike down the ability for agencies to use blanket hacking warrants, a key element of the Investigatory Powers Bill.

      The group previously argued that the collection of bulk communications data (BCD) had no basis in UK law, and that spy agencies had breached articles eight and 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), which guarantee the rights to privacy and free speech.

    • Screen Actors Guild Tells Court There’s Nothing Unconstitutional About Curbing IMDB’s Publication Of Facts

      Because ageism is allegedly rampant in Hollywood, California legislators have decided to address the problem head on not at all. Instead of enforcing on-the-books laws against employment discrimination, the legislature — backed by the Screen Actors Guild — has decided some of the First Amendment has to go. It has crafted a new law to fight ageism in Hollywood studios… by targeting a popular movie database. In California, A + B = WTF.

      The law — currently blocked by an injunction — forbids third-party sites with paid subscribers from publishing certain facts about actors and actresses. The only fact at issue is their age. And, despite lawmakers pretending the stupid, unconstitutional law targets a variety of websites, it’s really only having an effect on one: IMDb.

    • [Old] Queensland police say fridges could be turned into listening devices

      The revelation was made during a Parliamentary committee hearing on proposed legislation to give police more powers to combat terrorism.

    • Fake Facebook ‘like’ networks exploited code flaw to create millions of bogus ‘likes’

      The scientists found that these “collusion networks” run by spammers have managed to harness the power of one million Facebook accounts, producing as many as 100 million fake “likes” on the systems between 2015 and 2016.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • In Cambodia Daily’s shuttering, ill winds for country’s democracy?

      The English-language newspaper is just one outlet forced to close in recent weeks. Analysts view a surge of restrictions as part of long-time Prime Minister Hun Sen’s increasingly authoritarian game plan ahead of elections next year.

    • Married couple faces jail after selling XXX amateur sex tapes on Twitter

      According to Arkansas police, the couple recorded homemade adult films in and around the city of Trumann, which they then marketed using a Twitter account run by Calloway.

    • Massachusetts Court Affirms: People On School Campuses Still Have Fourth Amendment Rights

      The Massachusetts Supreme Court has reaffirmed the fact that students (and other people on school campuses) don’t have location-based Constitutional rights. A pat-frisk of a nonstudent by a police officer on a school’s campus resulted in the warrantless search of his backpack and the discovery of marijuana, a scale, and a handgun. All of these items may as well have never existed at all, thanks to the officer having zero reasonable suspicion to perform the frisk, much less the probable cause to search the backpack.

    • If You Oppose Fascism, You Have to Oppose Fascists

      Antifa is not a gang. Antifa is not a danger. That is, unless you are a white supremacist and/or a fascist. Despite the best efforts of the right wing, most of the liberal media and way too many supposed leftists, antifa is one of the few left-anarchist phenomena actually performing a public service. By chasing nazis and other white supremacists out of places like Boston, Berkeley, San Francisco and by fighting back against them in many others, including Charlottesville, Virginia, antifa and others opposed to the poison of white supremacy have put its advocates on notice—they are not welcome. Furthermore, their protests and actions have made millions of US residents aware of the ugliness within their society. Of course, if one is to read the aforementioned right-winger and liberal media, they might believe that it is antifa who are the danger to society and not the nazis and their cohorts.

    • The university we deserve

      Last semester, the university police pulled a Black student from a Black Visual Culture class and arrested him, for allegedly painting anti-racist graffiti in response to racism on campus.

      Sexual assaults are on the rise at UW, with no clear plan from the university to take action. State legislators threaten the accreditation of the medical school with no push back from the university administration.

    • How Wealthy White Communities Are Resegregating Alabama’s Public Schools

      As students return to school across the country, we continue our look at the resegregation of schools—particularly in Alabama. A new article in this week’s New York Times Magazine titled “The Resegregation of Jefferson County” by Nikole Hannah-Jones looks at how predominantly white towns in Alabama are increasingly pulling out of regional school districts and creating new schools that are overwhelmingly white. Critics say this is a new form of segregation. For more, we speak with Nikole Hannah-Jones. Her article about choosing a school for her daughter in a segregated school system won a National Magazine Award this year.

    • New-born baby to be separated from mother because Home Office ignored her E-mails

      A young mum is about to face being torn apart from her newborn baby boy just weeks after giving birth.

      Pregnant Wanwan Kiff, 27, was recently refused permission to stay in the UK with her British husband by Home Office officials earlier this year.

      This week she gave birth to healthy baby boy Oliver – but will have to leave him in four months time and return to her native China.

      [...]

      A spokesperson from the Home Office said: “Ms Qiao’s application was refused on this occasion as it did not meet the immigration rules.

      “However, given Ms Qiao’s circumstances we have granted her four months exceptional leave to remain so she can give birth in the UK. Any further visa application from Ms Qiao once she has given birth will be considered.”

    • Could Punching Nazis Have Prevented Hitler From Taking Powe

      Ever since Charlottesville, I have seen repeated references to how Nazism could have been stopped by street-fighting with almost no attention paid to the concrete socio-political conditions of Germany between 1920 and 1933, when Hitler took power. For many of those who think that physical force was the key to stopping Nazism, the viral video of Richard Spencer getting punched in the face was far more important as a guide to action than understanding the tragic history of the German left. On January 22, 2017 Natasha Lennard wrote a Nation magazine article titled “Neo-Nazi Richard Spencer Got Punched—You Can Thank the Black Bloc” that saw little need for tame mass actions. All we had to do was passively applaud the self-appointed saviors: “You don’t have to fight neo-Nazis in the street, but you should support those who do that day.” Unfortunately, Lennard had little to say about the consequences of the black bloc adventurism that day. The cops arrested innocent bystanders who are now facing up to 75 years in prison, all because some people felt the need to take part in a empty ritual as if capitalism could be undermined by a broken bank window.

      I would ask CounterPunch readers to forgive me for the length of this article that will try to tell the story of the German left’s failure to stop the Nazis from taking power. As a survivor of what Alexander Cockburn called a Trotskyist groupuscule, this was a topic that all new members paid close attention to, especially since Hitler’s triumph was one of the primary motivations for Trotsky founding a new International. For him, the key to understanding Hitler’s triumph was disunity on the German left. In some ways, despite the entirely different set of circumstances we face in 2017, this remains our continuing problem. My hope is that this bit of history might have some provide some insights on the kind of movement that needs to be built today since punching Nazis in Charlottesville was not the solution to an intractable problem that will take millions of Americans acting on their own class imperatives to solve.

    • The Violence of the ’60s Is Nothing Like What We Are about to Face
    • Pink buses and race politics

      To ally campaigns for women’s rights with racism is to accept the very logic that, at its ideological core, feminism seeks to destroy.

    • DeVos Will Roll Back Obama-Era Protections for Victims of Campus Sexual Assault

      In a speech at George Mason University, one of the few universities where she can speak without student protests, Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos announced a retreat from the guidelines protecting victims of sexual assault on campus. She devoted equal time in her speech to the rights of the victims of rape and the rights of those accused of rape.

      Her stance seems likely to discourage rape victims from coming forward, since doing so is already hazardous and puts them at risk of ostracism, especially when the alleged perpetrator is a popular athlete on campus.

      Given that she was appointed by a man who has boasted of sexually assaulting women without their consent–just “grabbing them by” their genitals–her indifference to victims of sexual assault is not surprising.

    • Terminal: How the airport came to embody our national psychosis.

      Rhis is a story about how the airport became the setting for the Great American Freakout. Once an icon of progress, then another stale waiting room of modern life, the airport has now entered a third phase.

    • Why workers’ rights don’t matter in Silicon Valley

      We know from the work of Lawrence Lessig, Jane Mayer and others the extent to which US politics has been skewed by a smallish number of fabulously rich reactionaries, led by the Koch brothers. And in a sense, the influence of these actors is predictable because they use their wealth to obtain the political results that best further their economic interests. So one of the most interesting things about the Silicon Valley elite revealed by the new research is that its members don’t conform to this template: their political views are not wholly aligned with their corporate interests.

    • The importance of Europeans sticking together to achieve a progressive Europe

      On the eve of the EU referendum, I happened to find myself in a showing in London of David Bernet’s quintessentially European film, ‘Democracy’, about the heroic struggle within the European Parliament to secure key digital laws protecting citizens and consumers from big data mining. Katarzyna from whom we heard earlier, stars in this epic tale, alongside the heroic German Greens Jan Philipp Albrecht and Ralph Bendrath and Joe McNamee, Director of European Digital Rights. This David and Goliath story is actually a rare, gripping account in all its multilayered complexity, of a triumphant democratic law-making process.

    • The ‘Alt-Right’: We Need Courage and Truth, Not False Equivalencies

      In the wake of the unrest in Charlottesville a few weeks ago, where a sizable contingent of white supremacists, Nazis, and other self-described “alt-right” provocateurs gathered to “Unite the Right” and to promote their agenda of hate, President Trump had an opportunity to demonstrate some much-needed moral leadership. Unsurprisingly, he once again failed to do so. Instead of immediately denouncing white supremacist ideology in clear and unequivocal terms (as, to their credit, many prominent conservatives and Republicans did), he took two days to produce a half- hearted statement that alt-right leader Richard Spencer deemed “not serious.” Proving Spencer correctly, it only took the president one more day to backpedal, once again claiming that “both sides” were to blame for the troubles in Virginia, and even suggesting that there were “very fine people” among the people leading the racist gathering, people who counted among their supporters the man who, in what can only be described as a terror attack, murdered with his car a young woman, Heather Heyer, who was counter-protesting in Charlottesville.

      This past week, Trump further provided proof of his willingness to abuse his power and to give aid and comfort to white supremacists, human rights abusers, and other right wing extremists by pardoning the notoriously cruel Maricopa (AZ) County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who was convicted of criminal contempt for, among other things, targeting and profiling U.S. citizens suspected of being undocumented immigrants based on their ethnic appearance.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • New Study Looks At IP And The Rise Of Mega-Regional Agreements

      Abbott, as another example, “analyses the evolution of provisions contained in United States trade treaties since the adoption of the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) and their impact on pharmaceutical products,” the editors say. “The trend described is clear. While old agreements focused on intellectual property protection, more recent treaties broaden the scope and include regulatory standards. Likewise, they also include investor-to-state dispute settlement mechanisms that all private actors to initiate claims against host governments.”

    • Trademarks

      • Kodi Declares ‘War’ on Trademark Trolls

        The Kodi team, operating under the XBMC Foundation, is taking a stand against ‘trademark trolls’ who abuse the Kodi name for personal profit. They accuse the Canadian trademark owner of actively blackmailing hardware vendors and removing content from Amazon. If needed, the foundation says that it may have to take legal action to keep its software freely accessible.

    • Copyrights

      • A Copyright Vote That Could Change the EU’s Internet

        On October 10, the European Parliament Committee on Legal Affairs (JURI) will vote on a proposal to change EU copyright law.

        The outcome could sabotage freedom and openness online. It could make filtering and blocking online content far more routine, affecting the hundreds of millions of EU citizens who use the internet everyday.

      • WordPress Reports Surge in ‘Piracy’ Takedown Notices, Rejects 78%

        WordPress has published new data revealing that the number of piracy takedown notices it receives has doubled in a year. Interestingly, this increase is not caused by legitimate complaints. Of all the DMCA requests copyright holders sent, a massive 78% were rejected due to mistakes or abuse.

      • YouTube Doesn’t Have to Expose IP-Addresses of Movie Pirates, Court Rules

        YouTube doesn’t have to hand over the IP-addresses of infringing uploaders to a German filmmaker, the Higher Regional Court of Frankfurt has ruled. The Court argues that IP-addresses can not be used to send a written message to people, so under local law the video streaming platform only has to share their email addresses.

      • No, Google Drive is Definitely Not The New Pirate Bay

        This week, citing a crackdown on torrent sites, numerous articles declared Google Drive and similar cloud storage services to be “The New Pirate Bay”. While such platforms can indeed facilitate the distribution of content, there should be no illusion that they offer anything like the decentralization and corporate detachment offered by BitTorrent-based sharing.

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