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07.22.18

Links 23/7/2018: Linux 4.18 RC6, Plans for Next KDE

Posted in News Roundup at 9:25 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • Kernel Space

    • Linux 4.18-rc6

      So this was the week when the other shoe dropped … The reason the
      two previous rc releases were so nice and small was that David hadn’t
      sent me much networking fixes, and they came in this week.

      That said, it’s not really a huge rc this week either, so it’s all
      good. But the networking pull this week does mean that almost exactly
      half of the diff is core networking, network drivers, or networking
      documentation updates.

      The rest is other drivers (mostly gpu, but also scsi, nvma, pci,
      pinctrl..), some arch updates (arc, x86, nds32, powerpc), and “misc”
      (tooling, header files, some vm and fs noise).

      The small but nasty VM bug we had earlier did indeed get fixed last
      rc, but there was some 32-bit fallout from the fix, so rc5 still had
      issues. But I’m hopeful that rc6 _really_ fixed all the cases.

      Shortlog appended for people who want to just get an overview of the details,

      Linus

    • Linux 4.18-rc6 Kernel Released With Many Networking Fixes, Other Regressions Resolved

      The sixth weekly test release of the Linux 4.18 kernel is now available for evaluation.

      Linux 4.18-rc6 is prior than the two previous weekly release candidates since those versions hadn’t incorporated any big batch of networking fixes, which hit this week. So about half of the changes are networking changes in Linux 4.18-rc6 while the other half is a mix of driver and architecture updates along with other noise.

    • NXP i.MX8 SoC Support Hasn’t Yet Worked Its Way Into The Mainline Linux Kernel

      While early in the year was talk of introducing NXP i.MX8 SoC support in the Linux 4.17 kernel, that didn’t happen. Support for that latest-generation i.MX SoC also didn’t make it for Linux 4.18 and it also looks like it will not make it for Linux 4.19.

      There have been patches for the i.MX8 Linux SoC support since January thanks to Pengutronix with GPIO, clock, net, and the core patches being written by the German firm. But unfortunately they haven’t yet made it to mainline. For the i.MX8 in the mainline kernel tree as of today with Linux 4.18 there is just the i.MX8QM AHCI SATA support, FEC network driver carried over from earlier Freescale SoCs, and some bits for the the Etnaviv DRM driver with the Vivante GC7000L graphics from the i.MX8M.

    • Microsoft Surface Dial & Dell Totem Support Heading To Linux 4.19

      Back in May we covered the big rewrite of the Linux kernel’s HID multi-touch code and in the process supporting the Microsoft Surface Dial and Dell Canvas 27′s Totem input device. That work will be landing in the Linux 4.19 kernel.

    • Benchmarks

      • A Closer Look At The Linux Laptop Power Use Between Ubuntu, Fedora, Clear & Antergos

        Earlier this month I posted some results when looking at the Windows 10 versus Linux power consumption using a Kabylake-R Dell XPS 13 laptop and testing Windows 10, Ubuntu 18.04, Fedora Workstation 28, openSUSE Tumbleweed, and Clear Linux. For some additional numbers, I took three other distinctly different laptops and tested them on a few Linux distributions to see how their battery life and power efficiency compare as additional metrics to complement this earlier data.

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

      • KDE Team Announces Major Improvements in Upcoming KDE 18.08 Release

        The developers of Linux’s KDE suite have announced a major slew of updates set to be included in the upcoming KDE 18.08, set for an August 2018 release. Details for these updates revolve around a range of new features and overall polish for the core KDE apps including Gwenview, Spectacle, Konsole, and Dolphin, as well as focusing on the upcoming KDE Plasma 5.14 update due in October.

        Due to KDE’s open-source nature, the devs also have a site up for people interested in getting involved, whether its simple bug reporting or actually being hands-on with the development using C++, Qt, and CMake. You can read more about their community program at KDE – Get Involved.

      • This week in Usability & Productivity, part 28

        Here’s another big week for KDE’s Usability and Productivity initiative. We’re getting ready for the release of KDE Applications 18.08–the second of our three yearly Applications releases. As the numbers in the version suggest, it will be released in August of 2018, about a month from now. As such, there’s been a lot of focus on new features and polish for core KDE apps such as Dolphin, Gwenview, Konsole, and Spectacle. We’re also ramping up our work for KDE Plasma 5.14, which is scheduled for release in October.

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK

      • I’ve built a box

        This is not the typical post I use to write (which is usually about what I do at work, often related to GNOME, so if you’re not interested, just skip it…). But a couple of months ago I did something different that I still want to write about. That thing was a wooden box (sorry if you were expecting a Gavin Box) that I was asked to carve by my brother for his wedding, to be used for carrying the wedding rings.

        The wedding had a Game of Thrones’s theme (there was not blood in it though, if you’re wondering), so naturally my brother wanted some of that in the box. Thus, my initial idea was to just buy a box and carve something to do with GoT and include their names. Something like this, as my brother sent me for inspiration.

      • Bastian Ilsø Hougaard: GUADEC18 Developer Center BoF Part 3: Challenges

        Currently, the Developer Center infrastructure and documentation suffers from low to non-existing maintenance. It’s a sign we need to take serious. Do we need lower the barrier to contributing to the developer documentation? What can we do to make the infrastructure easier to maintain? The underlying issue here likely also ties into why we now see new GNOME documentation hosted on other websites by different maintainers powered by different underlying technologies. I think this challenge needs both thinking from a technical point of view (how we might support editing multi-language documentation and auto-generated documentation) and an organizational point of view (assigning maintainership, reviewing our docs, aligning visions).

  • Distributions

    • New Releases

      • Debian-Based Neptune Linux 5.4 Operating System Debuts with New Dark Theme

        Neptune Linux developer Leszek Lesner announced the release Neptune 5.4, a monthly updated installation image of the Debian-based and KDE-oriented operating system that uses the latest software versions and technologies.

        Featuring improved support for Android devices, support for removing all notification history from the notification widget, support for multiple archives for Plasma Extensions in the Plasma Discover package manager, and improved ZRAM config to work with single-core CPUs, Neptune 5.4 introduces a new dark look and feel called Neptune Dark, along with the Faenza Dark icon theme.

    • Slackware Family

      • The LiveSlak Project: Running Slackware-Current Live Images With or Without Persistence and Installing Them

        Eric Hameleers has unofficially contributed to Slackware for what feels like forever. He not only runs his blog Alien Pastures dedicated to Slackware and offers a huge selection of packages pre-compiled on his vanilla systems, readily available for our perusal. He also offers the Ktown repository with updated packages of KDE4 and the next generation Plasma desktop for both the stable and testing branches of Slackware. He also started the Slackware Live project based on his own LiveSlak scripts to give people an opportunity to run Slackware current without
        committing to an install and to get an idea what the next version will be like.

        On 25th June the latest line of images was released, one for each desktop. Live ISOs are offered in 32 and 64bit, although only the Xfce and KDE4 images are available for both architectures. The other two images with MATE or a Plasma 5 preview substituted for KDE4 are 64bit only. This 1.2.0 release mirrors Slackware current as of 23/06/2018. Initially there was also a version with the Cinnamon desktop but this seems to have fallen behind.

        Apart from the desktop chosen there are some differences in the size of the images. The Xfce spin is just under 700MB, the standard desktop version with KDE which is just named slackware-live-current is 3.1/3.0 GB respectively, the MATE version 2.1GB and the Plasma 5 edition a hefty 4.3GB, also due to extra software onboard. Read more about how the project came about and an overview with tips on Eric’s blog.

    • Red Hat Family

      • Distributed Services Fabric for Container-Based Applications Powered by Avi Network

        Avi Vantage constantly monitors several metrics that represent load on application instances. Operators can configure an autoscaling policy to automatically scale up or scale down application instances based on load. In addition, Avi Vantage also learns application access patterns and can perform intelligent, predictive autoscaling based on learnt access patterns.

        In our next blog post we will focus on the intelligence and security features that Avi Networks and OpenShift provide for container-based applications.

      • Fedora

  • Devices/Embedded

Free Software/Open Source

  • Exclusive: Why open source is critical to software development

    Recently I had the opportunity to sit down with Pivotal APJ head of platform architecture Lawrence Crowther and discuss the importance of Open-source and cloud.

    Firstly, can you tell me a bit more about Pivotal and its cloud platform?

    Pivotal’s original mission was to transform the way the world builds software. Now our mission is to transform the way the world runs software, too, through a combination of methodology and technology. Whether we are helping clients change their culture towards product development or managing platforms, we use the same agile principles in both cases, such as Extreme Programming and the Lean Startup approach. This is often a radical shift for companies to embrace so we partner with them for a “learn by doing” approach.

    We believe that in order to support a fast development team who are iterating quickly and updating constantly, you need a different kind of platform. One that removes all barriers and lets you go from “concept to cash” quickly in a reliable, secure and safe way. You can build software as fast as you want but if it is not ending up in the hands of users it doesn’t matter. Once Pivotal Cloud Foundry is up and running the cost of deploying applications and iterating on them becomes almost zero. This is because it takes away the details of infrastructure, middleware, dependencies, integrations, monitoring and more from the development team so they can focus on delivering value to the business over and over again.

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

    • Open Hardware/Modding

      • PR: With Blockchain for the Open Source Hardware – ENVIENTA

        The Hungarian rooted ENVIENTA project started its preliminary token issue on 1st July (ICO private token sale).

        The aim of the project is to help to spread the open source philosophy becoming more and more common in hardware development industry and to support the life cycle of the products, made this way, from the idea to the realization. The idea of the open source hardware is not new, however, there has been no attempt to gather all the participants in this field on a common platform in order to support cooperations.

  • Programming/Development

    • Persepolis Download Manager: Impressive Python frontend for aria2

      Persepolis Download Manager is a handy open source download manager written in Python and PyQt. It’s a graphical frontend for aria2 aiming to make downloads both easier and faster.

      This software project commenced development in 2015 with the first release in July 2016. While it was initially only a simple graphical user interface, the software has seen some pretty hefty development since then with a whole raft of additional functionality added, improvements to the user interface, and cross-platform support.

    • Microsoft Visual Studio Code replumbed for better Python taming [Ed: Embrace and extend. Microsoft is trying to push developers of FOSS over to their proprietary IDE that puts spying inside compiled code.]
    • What’s new in Apache Subversion 1.10.2?

      I couldn’t believe if you are unaware of the Apache Subversion. It is an Enterprise-class centralized version control founded in 2000 by CollabNet Inc. One of the most successful opensource project in past many years. Mostly all the opensource projects and enterprise source code are on subversion. It has the rich community of developers and users who are continuously improving subversion.

    • SPAKE2 In Golang: Journey to Cryptoland begins

      Before I can go to detail I should tell why/how I came to implementing SPAKE2 in Golang. Story starts a couple of month back when I started contributing to *magic-wormhole.rs*, a Rust port of original Python project of magic-wormhole. You can read this LWN article to understand more about what magic-wormhole is.

      During contribution my friend Ramakrishnan Muthukrishnan said to me that I should try to port the magic-wormhole to Golang. I was not a expert Go programmer but had understanding of language basics and thought why not use it to improve my language understanding. And this is where it all started.

    • AMD AOCC 1.2.1 Compiler Flings Flang Fixes

      AMD released a minor update to their AMD Optimizing C/C++ Compiler.

      AOCC is the company’s downstream of LLVM/Clang with optimizations for their Zen CPU microarchitecture with compiler optimizations/improvements before they work their way into upstream LLVM. AOCC is the replacement for AMD’s Open64 compiler used years ago with earlier micro-architectures.

Leftovers

  • Gmail rolls out DRM for email and office documents, calls it “Confidential Mode”

    This system, which Google calls “Information Rights Management” (a term coined by Microsoft to refer to a similar feature in Microsoft Office) is a kind of DRM for email. It is an extremely brittle security measure, which can be trivially defeated by taking screenshots or photos of your computer.

  • Defence/Aggression

    • Yemen’s Houthis claim drone attack on Aramco refinery in Riyadh

      The Iranian-aligned Houthi movement in Yemen said it had attacked a Saudi Aramco refinery in Riyadh on Wednesday using a drone, but the oil company said a limited fire at the plant was due to “an operational incident”.

    • Yemeni forces fire drone, hit Aramco refinery in Saudi capital

      Yemeni army, backed by fighters from allied Popular Committees, has attacked a refinery of the Saudi oil company Aramco in the capital Riyadh using a new drone unveiled on Wednesday, with the kingdom confirming a fire at the plant.

    • Activist Kathy Kelly stresses pacifist message in uncertain times

      U.S. drone strikes have killed between 7,715 and 11,067 people, including up to 1,555 civilians, in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Yemen and Somalia, according to the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, a London-based organization that has tracked drone killings since 2010.

    • How to Survive America’s Kill List

      When a U.S. citizen heard he was on his own country’s drone target list, he wasn’t sure he believed it. After five near-misses, he does – and is suing the United States to contest his own execution

    • New York-born Muslim journalist and US citizen living in Syria sues the American government claiming he’s been put on the drone strike Kill List

      A New York-born journalist living in Syria is suing the US government, claiming its put him on the drone Kill List.

      Born Darrell Lamont Phelps, Bilal Abdul Kareem grew up in Mount Vernon, New York, before converting to Islam and moving to Syria as a reporter.

      But in 2016, Kareem, a US citizen, said he was targeted in a series of attacks, before he says a source tipped him off that he was on America’s infamous ‘Kill List’, otherwise known as ‘Disposition Matrix,’ according to Rolling Stone.

    • Former senior CIA official says it’s “quite near time” for Trump supporters to kill Trump opponents

      Michael Scheuer says it is “quite near time” to kill American citizens who oppose Trump.

      Scheuer is a former senior CIA official and the author of the New York Times bestseller, Imperial Hubris. In a now-deleted blog post (cached version here) Scheuer singles out “Strzok, Comey, McCabe, Page, and Rosenstein; worshipers of tyranny, like the Democratic members of Congress, the Clintons, the FBI, and the Obamas; apparent traitors like Brennan, Hayden, and Clapper; all of the mainstream media; and the tens of thousands of government-admitted-and-protected, violent, criminal, and illegal immigrants.” He looks forward to the “sheer, nay, utter joy and satisfaction to be derived from beholding great piles of dead U.S.-citizen tyrants is not one that will be missed if Trump does not soon do the necessary to save the republic.”

    • Armed US drones up and running in Niger

      Armed U.S. drone flights over Niger — which started after four U.S. soldiers were killed in an ambush in October — have put a scare into local militants, the country’s top defense official said.

      Earlier this year, U.S. Africa Command quietly began armed unmanned surveillance flights in Niger, adding more firepower in the country where the Oct. 4 attack on a team of Green Berets raised questions about whether troops were carrying out dangerous missions without sufficient backup.

      While drones now fly armed out of a base in Niger’s capital of Niamey, no strikes have yet been launched on targets inside the country, AFRICOM said Friday.

    • Fighting illegal immigration and terrorism: New surveillance drone targets EU buyers

      Europe’s migration crisis has left thousands dead as they seek a better life by making the dangerous crossing over the Mediterranean. It has also stretched countries’ domestic resources and sparked political conflict on the bloc.

      So far, 1,400 migrants have died off Libya’s coast since the beginning of this year, according to the UN’s International Organization for Migration. Last year, 3,116 people were killed.

      Yet one Israeli military technology manufacturer believes they have found a solution which could help governments tackle illegal immigration and rescue migrants from capsized vessels at sea.

    • Islanders exiled by British Government begin London occupation

      Chagossians were removed from their island homeland – now called the British Indian Ocean Territory – to make way for a military base in the 1960s and 70s.

      Despite years of protest and legal challenges, they have been never been allowed to return home.

      Yesterday, Chagossians gathered in Trafalgar Square to highlight their “ongoing struggle for justice”.

      Isabelle Charlot, chair of the Chagos Islanders Movement, said there is a pressing need for redress as deportees grow older.

      She said: “The Chagossian community have been ignored for far too long. We had hope that one day the British Government will recognise their wrongdoing and apologise to us.

    • Key Fact Obscured in Immigration Coverage: MS-13 Was Made in USA

      The immigrants that Frum is speaking of come largely from the Central American countries of El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala, an area known as the Northern Triangle. According to the Pew Research Center, there are 3 million total immigrants from these countries in the US, and about half of those immigrants are undocumented. While Mexican immigration has been falling in recent years, Central American immigration has increased: from 2007 through 2015, the total number of Northern Triangle immigrants rose by 25 percent.

      Yet much media coverage of immigration misses out on why large numbers of people from the Northern Triangle are migrating to the US in the first place.

      Over the past three generations, the Northern Triangle countries, long marked by profound levels of inequality, have each experienced horribly destructive civil wars and military coups. Unsurprisingly, the United States has been intimately involved in each of these, supporting anti-Communist regimes during the Cold War and protecting US business interests with truly disastrous results.

      In 1954, the CIA orchestrated a coup to remove President Jacobo Arbenz, the democratically elected leader of Guatemala, at the behest of United Fruit Company (now Chiquita), the country’s largest landowner. During the subsequent civil war that lasted until 1996, the US gave military and financial support to a succession of right-wing governments that committed large-scale human rights abuses that killed hundreds of thousands.

    • Two Palestinian scientists found dead in an apartment in Algeria

      Suliman al-Farra, 34, and Mohammed Albana, both from Khan Younis in the Gaza Strip, were found dead in an apartment on Sunday.

    • Gazan scientist, doctor said found dead in Algeria

      A scientist and a doctor from the Gaza Strip died in Algeria on Sunday under unexplained circumstances, Palestinian media reported, sparking speculation that they may have been assassinated.

      According to the reports, the Palestinian embassy in Algeria informed the scientists’ families that the two were found dead in their apartment, apparently from a gas leak or electrical malfunction.

    • Gaza Reports: Two Palestinian Scientists Found Dead in Algeria

      Two Palestinian scientists were found dead in an apartment in Algeria, reports in Gaza said on Sunday. The circumstances surrounding their deaths were unclear.

      The two, identified as Suliman al-Farra, 34, and Mohammed Albana, a 35-year-old physician, from Khan Younis in the Gaza Strip. The report said that they were found dead in al-Farra’s apartment, in Zeralda, a suburb of the capital Algiers.

    • Israel to reopen Gaza terminal, extend fishing on Tuesday if quiet holds

      Israel will reopen Gaza’s main commercial crossing and expand its fishing zone on Tuesday if a lull in cross-border tensions holds after a truce with the enclave’s dominant Palestinian Islamist group Hamas, the Israeli defence minister said.

    • 10 suspected jihadists killed in Yemen drone strike, clashes

      en suspected Al-Qaeda jihadists and two soldiers fighting for Yemen’s government have been killed in clashes and a drone strike, local officials and security sources said Sunday.

      The US military is the only force known to operate armed drones over Yemen.

      Officials in Marab loyal to Yemen’s internationally recognised government said a drone on Sunday targeted a house used by Al-Qaeda in the central province, killing four jihadists.

    • Killer algorithms

      Warnings about the risks posed by artificial intelligence (IA) seem to be everywhere nowadays. From Elon Musk to Henry Kissinger, people are sounding the alarm that super-smart computers could wipe us out, like in the film “The Terminator”. To hear them talk, you would think we were on the brink of dystopia, that Skynet is nearly upon us.

      These warnings matter, but they gloss over a more urgent problem: weaponised AI is already here. As you read this, powerful interests, from corporations to state agencies, like the military and police, are using AI to monitor people, assess them and to make consequential decisions about their lives. Should we have a treaty ban on autonomous weapons? Absolutely. But we do not need to take humans “out of the loop” to do damage. Faulty algorithmic processing has been hurting poor and vulnerable communities for years.

      I first noticed how data-driven targeting could go wrong five years ago, in Yemen. I was in the capital, Sanaa, interviewing survivors of an American drone attack that had killed innocent people. Two of the civilians who died could have been US allies. One was the village policeman, and the other was an imam who had preached against Al Qaeda days before the strike. One of the men’s surviving relatives, an engineer called Faisal Bin Ali Jaber, came to me with a simple question: Why were his loved ones targeted?

      [...]

      These kinds of attacks, called “signature strikes”, make up the majority of drone strikes. Meanwhile, civilian air strike deaths have become more numerous under President Donald Trump, over 6,000 last year in Iraq and Syria alone.

      This is AI at its most controversial. And the controversy spilled over to Google this spring, with thousands of the company’s employees protesting, and some resigning, over a bid to help the Defence Department analyse drone feeds. But this is not the only potential abuse of AI we need to consider.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • Judge Pulls 180 On Controversial LA Times Censorship Order

      The Los Angeles Times restored details to a story Tuesday after a California federal judge lifted an order blocking the publication of information from a police officer’s sealed corruption plea agreement that was accidentally made public on PACER.

    • Deal between Ecuador and UK to hand over Julian Assange is ‘imminent’ and Wikileaks founder could then be sent to US to face spy charges
    • Report: WikiLeaks Founder Julian Assange May Soon Be Ejected From Ecuador’s Embassy
    • Julian Assange’s Departure from Ecuador Embassy in London Is Imminent
    • Ecuadorian President to meet with UK minister Penny Mordaunt amid claims Julian Assange faces eviction
    • Report: Ecuador to Withdraw Asylum from Julian Assange
    • UK Officials To Take Over Custody of Wikileaks Julian Assange

      He’s called out both sides of our political system and helped many voters make more informed decisions on who they wanted to back and support. The opposition media hasn’t shown Assange love because he is in charge of an organization that performs the sort of work they were hired to do.
      There are many on both sides who want to see Assange prosecuted but I am not one of those. We’ve seen whistleblowers over the span of our lives, and for the most part, the people in charge are the ones who get exposed for the betterment of our lives. Assange is not in the same class as Edward Snowden in my humble opinion.

    • Ecuador close to evicting Wikileaks founder Julian Assange: Greenwald

      The UK and Ecuador President Lenin Moreno are “close to finalizing” or have already finalized a deal to evict Julian Assange from the Ecuadorian embassy in London, according to an article published by The Intercept on Saturday.

      According to reporter Glenn Greenwald, Ecuador could withdraw its protection to the Wikileaks founder in a matter of days. Greenwald first drew widespread public attention by publishing data provided by the NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden.

      According to Greenwald’s article, Ecuador’s Moreno used the 2018 Global Disabilities Summit as a pretext to travel to London and discuss handing over Assange to British officials. Moreno has been critical of Assange, describing him as an “inherited problem,” a “pebble in the shoe,” who has created “more than a nuisance” for his government.

      [...]

      After a UK judge ruled that Assange should be extradited to Sweden, the Australian-born activist sought refuge in the Ecuadorian embassy. Quito granted him asylum in 2012. However, ties between Assange and his Ecuadorian hosts gradually soured as his years-long stay irritated Western nations.

    • #Unity4J to hold Emergency Public Meeting; Unveil Non- Violent Digital Action Plan

      International media are reporting that WikiLeaks Editor-in-Chief may imminently be handed by Ecuador to UK authorities. (Ref) If such an event occurs, it presents an immediate threat to Assange’s human rights, asylum rights, liberty and to press freedoms. It would also be in direct contravention to the rulings of the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention and the Inter-American Court of human rights, both of which have found in his favour.

    • Julian Assange’s Jeopardy

      What comes next for Julian Assange after his years holed up in Ecuador’s embassy at London? Glenn Greenwald has a report on the Intercept suggesting that eviction from his current sanctuary is imminent and that if he leaves, Wikileaks’ founder could face a year or more in prison at Britain as he maneuvers to avoid extradition to America. It strikes us as a thorough report, save for the omission of any mention of the case known as United States v. Alvarez-Machain.

      That case, decided in 1992, could prove to be a precedent were America simply to seize Mr. Assange and bring him here without resort to any extradition treaty. The first of the several times we’ve written about Alvarez-Machain was in connection with the Libyan terrorist Abdelbasset al-Megrahi, who’d been released early from the prison sentence he was serving for murder in the bombing in 1988 of a Pan American clipper, Maid of the Seas, in which 270 persons perished at Lockerbie, Scotland.

      Al-Megrahi, suffering from cancer, was let out of prison so he could go home to live out his remaining days in Libya. It struck us that President Obama could have sent agents to seize him and bring him to America for trial. That’s because of the way the courts handled Humberto Alvarez-Machain, a Mexican physician who allegedly participated in the murders of an American drug enforcement agent, Enrique Camarena Salazar, and a DEA pilot.

    • Ecuador’s Agenda: Squeezing And Surrendering Assange – OpEd

      It is perhaps typical in a time where a star of the fleshy celluloid wonder Baywatch, heavy in bust and known for her sexual adventures, should feature as a political voice. Pamela Anderson’s views are treated with judicious seriousness – at least in some quarters. Her association with Julian Assange has given needless room for columns on what, exactly, their relationship constitutes.

      Having such defenders as Anderson has added to his conspicuous support base, but it will not move those bureaucrats who are chewing pens in anticipation and pondering options as to how best to eject him from the Ecuadorean embassy (compound would be more fitting) in London. Easily missed amidst the titter of celebrity gossip is the plight of an ailing Assange, who is facing the next critical stage of his stay at the Ecuadorean embassy.

      Since the changing of the guard in Ecuador, President Lenín Moreno has shown a warmer feeling towards the United States, and a desire to raise the issue of Assange’s stay in the embassy with US Vice President Mike Pence with the urgency of man desiring to be rid of a problem. The UK government has also been brought into the mix. The forces against Assange are marshalling themselves with a renewed impatience.

      A squeeze evidently designed to break the will of WikiLeaks’ publisher-in-chief was commenced in March, with a change of the embassy’s Wi-Fi password effectively blocking his use of the Internet. Phone calls and visitations have also been curtailed. The bill of Ecuadorean hospitality, if it can be termed that, also became a subject of discussion – some $5 million expended on security and Assange’s various activities. Attitudes to a troublesome guest have hardened.

    • Ecuador ‘close’ to kicking Julian Assange out of London embassy

      US investigative journalist Glenn Greenwald is reporting Ecuadorean President Lenin Moreno travelled to Britain on Friday to finalise the deal.

      Under the deal, Ecuador would withdraw protection for the WikiLeaks founder and he would then be handed over to British authorities, Greenwald wrote on his website The Intercept.

      [...]

      A source close to the Ecuadorian Foreign Ministry confirmed to The Intercept that the deal to hand Assange over within the next several weeks was close to being finalised if it had not been so already.

    • Assange may be handed over to UK this week: report

      The website’s editor, Glenn Greenwald, wrote that Moreno had begun an unofficial visit to London on Friday during which it was claimed things would be finalised to hand over Assange to British authorities.

      Moreno is also due to visit Spain which had taken strong objection to Assange’s criticism of alleged human rights abuses by Spain at the time when Catalonia launched protests for independence. Ecuador has blocked Assange from the Internet for the last three months, with his intervention in the Catalonia affair reportedly being the reason.

      Ecuador signed a security agreement with the US in May, a sharp move away from policies pursued by the previous government led by Rafael Correa.

    • Is this finally the end for Julian Assange?

      Ecuador has a very close relationship with Spain in matters of both trade and diplomacy and wants to remain in their good graces. Moreno isn’t quite as fearful of ticking off the governments of the United States or Great Britain as he would be of getting under the skin of Madrid. But he’s also said to be more amenable to working with western governments than his predecessor. After Assange started publicly criticizing Spain’s handling of the Catalan independence movement, he went from being an inconvenience to a serious diplomatic problem.

    • Report: Ecuador to Withdraw Asylum for Julian Assange, Hand Him Over to UK

      Since 2012, Assange has been under Ecuador’s protection. However, Ecuador blocked Assange from accessing the internet nearly three months ago after the Spanish government expressed its anger over Assange’s tweets about Catalonia. He has not been able to communicate with the outside world since.

    • Ecuador is Reportedly Getting Ready to Turn Assange Over to U.K. Authorities

      Assange has been inside Ecuador’s embassy since he fled Sweden after accusations of sexual assault and rape. Prosecutors in Sweden have since dropped the charges although he could still face proceedings and jail time for violating bail conditions. More concerning for Assange, of course, is the possibility that the United States would call on U.K. authorities to arrest and extradite him over the leaking of classified documents. Sources close to Assange claim that the United States is pressuring Ecuador to evict Assange, including by threatening to block a loan from the International Monetary Fund if it continues to allow the WikiLeaks founder to live in its embassy.

      Kenneth Roth, the executive director of Human Rights Watch, wrote on Twitter that if Ecuador does evict Assange from the embassy “it’s essential the UK not become party to any US effort to prosecute him for merely publishing classified information the same way journalists regularly do.”

    • ‘Profound’ Threat to Press Freedom Looms as Ecuador Prepares to Hand Assange Over to UK

      Amid new reports that Ecuador is preparing to withdraw asylum protections from WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and hand him over to British authorities within the next few weeks, journalists are raising alarm at the serious threats to press freedom such a move could spawn, given that the U.K. may decide to extradite Assange to the United States—where he could face “prosecution for the act of publishing documents.”

      “The Obama administration was eager to prosecute Assange and WikiLeaks for publishing hundreds of thousands of classified documents, but ultimately concluded that there was no way to do so without either also prosecuting newspapers such as the New York Times and the Guardian which published the same documents,” notes The Intercept’s Glenn Greenwald, who reported on Saturday that Ecuadorian President Lenin Moreno is “close to finalizing” a deal to eject Assange from Ecuador’s London embassy, where he has been living since 2012.

      However, top Trump administration officials are not at all concerned about the dangerous precedents prosecuting Assange could set, Greenwald notes, citing a “deranged” speech by U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in which he declared “we can no longer allow Assange and his colleagues the latitude to use free speech values against us.”

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • Drones used to track red tide along Florida coast

      Red tide is a microscopic menace, harmful to humans and deadly for some fish and birds.

      Now robotic technology is closer to unlocking the secrets of when and where red tide will hit, protecting human health and our natural resources.

      Vincent Lovko with Mote Marine Laboratory in Sarasota explained, “Red tide is present here all the time, as far as we know. It’s endemic, meaning it belongs here. It’s been here for a very long time,” Lovko said.

      Over 400 years ago, the first Floridians called it Red Water, a strange phenomenon that killed fish and birds and made people sick. red tide is a harmful, microscopic bloom of algae that produces neurotoxins.

    • Four brown bears will be rescued from life of misery in Japan – and sent to zoo in Doncaster

      Award-winning Yorkshire Wildlife Park is at the centre of a project to rehome the four Ussuri brown bears who live in tiny metal cages all year round – even when it snows in the depths of winter.

      Staff from the UK zoo will travel across the world to bring them 5,400 miles to their new home.

    • Trump Administration Neuters Nuclear Safety Board

      The Trump administration has quietly taken steps that may inhibit independent oversight of its most high-risk nuclear facilities, including some buildings at Los Alamos National Laboratory, a Department of Energy document shows.

      An order published on the department’s website in mid-May outlines new limits on the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board — including preventing the board from accessing sensitive information, imposing additional legal hurdles on board staff, and mandating that Energy Department officials speak “with one voice” when communicating with the board.

      The board has, by statute, operated independently and has been provided largely unfettered access to the nation’s nuclear weapons complexes in order to assess accidents or safety concerns that could pose a grave risk to workers and the public. The main exception has been access to the nuclear weapons themselves.

      For many years, the board asked the Department of Energy to provide annual reviews of how well facilities handled nuclear materials vulnerable to a runaway chain reaction — and required federal officials to brief the board on the findings. It also has urged the energy secretary not to restart certain nuclear operations at various sites until work could be done safely.

  • Finance

    • Consumers paying $104 billion in credit card interest and fees
    • Five ways to curb the power of corporations

      Transnational corporations have become the dominant force directing our world. Humanity is accelerating toward a precipice of overconsumption, and the large transnationals are the primary agents driving us there. We’re rapidly losing the earth’s forests, animals, insects, fish, even the topsoil we require to grow our crops. The earth is becoming denuded of its bounty as every living system ­is ransacked for resources—not to mention the looming emergency of climate breakdown. As a result, twenty thousand scientists have recently issued a public warning to humanity, while prominent academics consider the collapse of civilization this century to be a serious threat.

      Changes in our personal consumption patterns are important, but are ultimately inconsequential compared with the impact of the transnationals that have come to dominate our global economic and political system. Of the world’s hundred largest economies, sixty-nine are now corporations. Political parties in many of our so-called democracies are funded in large part by billionaires, while government cabinet positions are staffed by corporate executives. International bodies setting global policy are infiltrated by corporate agents so successful at entrenching corporate power that even those governments that still prioritize their people’s needs can no longer make autonomous decisions without risking crippling lawsuits from the transnationals whose interests they threaten. Meanwhile, countries and cities compete with each other to beg their corporate overlords for investment dollars, even it means undermining public services and legal protections for their own populations.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Patriot Calls For Investigation Into CIA Letter

      The National Patriots Association (Patriot) has urged the authorities to investigate former Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Abdul Razak’s intelligence unit for writing a letter to the United States government shortly before the 14th general election (GE14).

      An online news portal had reported that a letter from the Research Division in the Prime Minister’s Department was sent to the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) director Gina Haspel five days before GE14, in a bid to appeal for support for Najib’s administration.

      “All guilty persons should be seriously punished to set an example to all current officials in the government, security forces personnel, and politicians, that such collusion with any foreign officials or government is considered treason,” said Patriot president Brig Jen (Rtd) Datuk Mohamed Arshad Raji in a statement issued today.

    • Is this the letter from Najib’s officer to CIA boss?

      A letter purportedly written by the top intelligence officer under the previous Najib Razak administration to the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) pitched the former prime minister as a US ally with whom Washington could work with, as opposed to the “anti-West, anti-Semite” Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

      Najib has distanced himself from the alleged letter, saying he was not aware that such a letter had been sent.

      A copy of the alleged letter, sighted by FMT, among others, promoted Najib’s “progressive foreign policies”, saying Malaysia was a crucial ally and the only viable one in the Southeast Asian region as the others were either too small, too pro-China or “too immersed in their own domestic political problems”.

      “Your Excellency must be well informed that Mahathir, essentially, is not a reformer that could enhance Malaysia’s national interest as he joined the opposition for his own self-interest,” said the letter to Gina Haspel, director of the CIA.

    • U.S. launches campaign to erode support for Iran’s leaders

      The Trump administration has launched an offensive of speeches and online communications meant to foment unrest and help pressure Iran to end its nuclear program and its support of militant groups, U.S. officials familiar with the matter said.

    • Trump’s Supreme Pick Escalates America’s War on Sex

      President Trump’s nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to replace Justice Anthony Kennedy on the Supreme Court does not bode well for the future of sexual life in America. It has been widely reported that Kavanaugh, as a federal judge, sought to prevent a 17-year-old unauthorized immigrant from receiving an abortion, but was overruled by other jurists on the D.C. Court of Appeals.

      Much of the current debate about Kavanaugh – and the previous appointee, Neil Gorsuch – focuses on the Court’s likely reversal (if not significant weakening) of the landmark 1973 decision, Roe v. Wade. The decision granted each woman the right to personal privacy, to decide the outcome of her pregnancy.

      Over the last-half century, many of the Court’s most consequential decisions have involved the sex life of Americans. Abortion is but one. Gay rights and marriage, youth sex education and contraceptive use, and rights of transgender people are three others. Still others involve prostitution and sex trafficking, public media obscenity and zoning restrictions of commercial sex businesses (e.g., sex-toy outlets, “gentlemen’s” clubs). And then there’s the Internet, facilitating any and every conceivable sexual indulgence. Cumulatively, these decisions have helped profoundly transform the nation’s sexual culture.

      Personal privacy is at the heart of the debate over Roe as well as many of the other sex-related Court decisions over the last-half century. Before Roe, each state had the authority to determine the limits of a woman’s privacy, especially in terms of her pregnancy … and, possibly, an abortion.

    • The CIA letter and the treason option

      Recent calls by the Patriots Association and others to thoroughly investigate a letter allegedly written by Hasanah Ab Hamid, the former Director-General of the Research Department (also known as ME10), to the Chief of the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) deserves to be taken seriously.

      In a long, rambling and convoluted letter dated 4th May, Hasanah appeared to be soliciting CIA support for the Najib Administration in the event of a disputed electoral outcome.

    • Letter from Najib’s office sent to CIA belittling S’pore as too small to make an impact in Southeast Asia
    • Malaysia’s Najib sought CIA support before election defeat
    • Letter to CIA treacherous and treasonous, say ex-servicemen
    • Letter to CIA: Patriot urges action against ‘treacherous, treasonous’ act
    • NGO calls for investigation into CIA letter
    • Najib Says He’s Unaware of Letter Allegedly Sent to CIA Asking for Support
    • Patriot calls for investigation into CIA letter
    • Umno’s love affair with CIA goes back to pre-Najib era

      The discovery of the “love letter” from the Prime Minister’s Department to the CIA, hoping for the US government’s support for Najib Razak and his government, as opposed to the Pakatan Harapan coalition led by the supposedly “anti-US” Dr Mahathir Mohamad, should be seen in historical context.

      Exactly how pro or “anti-US” Umno leaders have been through the years can be gleaned from this record in my 2010 title, “Questioning Arms Spending in Malaysia”.

      Malaysia’s non-aligned policy was founded upon the principles of peace, neutrality and impartiality to the superpowers. A genuine non-aligned policy can therefore go a long way toward ridding us of the need to procure expensive arms.

    • S’pore too small to make impact, Najib’s top intel officer tells CIA in secret letter

      Singapore is “too small to make an impact” in the region, the top intelligence officer of former Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak allegedly wrote in a secret letter to the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) of the United States.

    • Yoursay: Investigate ‘treasonous’ letter to CIA

      Shock or outrage over such a degrading plea that Malaysia’s head of government would make to a foreign leader is hardly the sentiment evoked in me.

      Rather, I am acutely embarrassed that our prime minister would actually send an appeal reeking of contradiction and paradox, devoid of any intelligence or logic.

    • Mandela only released for PR, says CIA document
    • Apartheid govt faced ‘massive upheavals’ had Mandela died in prison: CIA
    • Roger McNamee: If Facebook bungles the midterms, ‘it’s gonna be really hard to give them a pass’

      Despite a stellar market performance, a lot is on the line for Facebook and its CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, in the upcoming midterm elections, according to Roger McNamee, co-founder of tech-focused private equity firm Elevation Partners.

      “I think the issue for Facebook and for Mark is that the country is trusting them with the 2018 midterm elections,” McNamee told CNBC’s “Squawk Alley,” “and if something goes wrong here, it’s gonna be really hard to give them a pass.”

      Facebook has been criticized for allowing the proliferation of false news on its platform during the 2016 presidential election. Zuckerberg’s discussion of fake news and censorship with Recode’s Kara Swisher revealed to McNamee that the CEO’s all or nothing approach to the issue is the wrong tack.

      “When you are dealing with hate speech, there is a much better option. And that is to engage with people and to inform them,” he said. “Facebook is actually a really good platform for doing that.”

    • Congress Wants to Grill Ex-CIA Chief Brennan Over Accusing Trump of ‘Treason’

      Brennan blasted the US president for rejecting allegations that Russia intervened in the 2016 American presidential election on Putin’s orders, ignoring reports by US intelligence agencies.

      US House of Representatives Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte said that Congress has “lots of questions” for former CIA Director John Brennan, who called Trump’s statements on Russia’s alleged meddling in the US elections during a press conference following the summit in Helsinki “treasonous.” He suggested that Brennan could have been biased against Trump and that this might have influenced his judgement during his service.

    • Why the far-right thinks Peter Strzok was secretly a CIA agent

      The Trump presidency has seen no slacking in the conservative media’s laser focus on turning tangential figures who have done little or nothing wrong into major players in conspiracies against the president

      Enter FBI agent Peter Strzok, former head of the FBI’s Counterespionage section and new target for right-wing media and political derision.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • Censorship abounds in prison libraries, but here’s what some inmates read — and what they should.

      Unless you have friends or family in prison, you likely pay scant attention to what that entails. Policies, procedures, protocols are all a foreign world best left unexplored. “You do the crime, you do the time” is a convenient turning away from the reality of incarcerated life.

      But when it’s your loved one there, you find yourself part of the system too.

      My friend Eric is serving his sentence at FCI Coleman Low, a low-security federal correctional prison in Sumter County off I-4 near Wildwood. It houses over 2,000 nonviolent inmates in an all-male population.

    • China attempting to square the circle

      Observers are concerned over the growth of Chinese nationalist pride and influence abroad.

    • Peking University sacks vocal US prof

      An American professor and vocal critic of Beijing’s censorship said he lost his job at prestigious Peking University and is leaving China.

      Christopher Balding, who had taught for the past nine years at the university’s HSBC School of Business in Shenzhen, said in a blog post that his contract has not been renewed.

      Balding said he received an “official” reason for the non-renewal when he was notified early last November. “I know the unspoken reason for my dismissal,” he wrote, adding: “You do not work under the Communist Party without knowing the risks.”

      Officials at Peking University in Beijing and at the business school campus in Shenzhen could not immediately be reached for comment.

    • Amid Economic Uncertainty, Beijing Silences Critics

      Under President Xi, censorship has expanded in scope and is increasingly impacting areas such as academia and topics such as economics. This month, a British academic from the University of Nottingham’s Ningbo campus was removed from his position, allegedly in response to an article he wrote critical of the CCP. After living and working in China for nine years, Christopher Balding, an Associate Professor at Peking University’s HSBC School of Business, also had his contract terminated.

    • Between censorship and self-censorship: Can China Studies academics avoid moral culpability?

      In August 2017, Cambridge University Press (CUP) removed over three hundred articles published in The China Quarterly from its Chinese website. The articles had been chosen for censorship by very haphazard searches based on ‘sensitive’ keywords: Tiananmen, Cultural Revolution, Taiwan, Tibet. After a rare vocal backlash, CUP reversed its decision.

      Just a few months later in November, news broke that Springer Nature had done the same. Unlike Cambridge, Springer cravenly stood by its decision to censor as a matter of complying with ‘local distribution laws’, ironically portraying its two-tier system granting China-based scholars second-class access as a matter of maintaining access.

    • Media censorship rises as the general elections draw near in Pakistan

      Pakistan is gearing up for the general elections scheduled next week and there are rumors of a massive crackdown on the media.

      On July 12, 2018, Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) imposed a ban on national satellite television channels for airing live speeches of politicians as they conduct their election campaigns.

    • Website suspension fuels Vietnam press freedom fears

      Tuoi Tre Online, a popular publication in Vietnam, was suspended by Hanoi on July 16 after having published “untrue” and “nationally divisive” content.

      The newspaper, founded in 1975 by the Ho Chi Minh Communist Youth Union, Tuoi Tre (“Youth”), is being reprimanded for a June 19 article,“Vietnamese president agrees on issuing demonstration law,” that quotes President Tran Dai Quang as saying that he agreed that there is a need for a law regulating public demonstrations.

    • Vietnam’s Censorship Expands to Popular, Official News Website

      Vietnam’s suspension of a popular news website known for hard-hitting stories is the latest move in a burgeoning effort to limit expression that rattles the image-conscious Communist leadership, experts say.

      On Monday the head of media under the Ministry of Information and Communication shut down the Tuoi Tre website for three months. The news outlet is known for reports on issues such as corruption.

      Tuoi Tre is also a newspaper run by the Ho Chi Minh Communist Youth Union, and was faulted with posting fake news. The site was asked to “correct the false information” and fined $9,500, according to fellow domestic media outlet Viet Nam News.

      The site’s suspension follows the June passage of a cyber-security law governing internet use and earlier arrests of bloggers whose writings question the government.

    • Censorship, funding threaten college media

      From attempts to discredit them with the label of “fake news” to decreased advertising, professional newspapers across the U.S. face a variety of challenges.

    • Who Are the New Censors?

      Many people like to talk passionately about censorship; politicians – with their ambition to bend the public discourse to party needs – fascist- and Nazis-prone trolls who see their comments swiftly erased from discussion threads and manufacturers of hoaxes who are denied a free pass to the pages of critical mainstream media. The public-service television director, whose fate hangs on the will of politicians as well as journalists and readers of the free and not-so-free media. They all have something to say.

      But censorship is not the same animal that it was in the seventies. There is no censor waving his stamp and diligently adding disobedient authors to the growing list of state enemies. The censor has now been replaced by a system that expels anything incompatible with its own configuration or that goes against the loyalties of the state or publisher; this can be especially so if it doesn’t celebrate a nationalist concept of the country or toe the official state propaganda line.

      This new system of media control even incorporates its own codes of criticism giving the illusion that it can be criticised from within in order to appear fair. But any criticism must have clear limits as to not corrode the basis of the illiberal state, the tailor-made identity of the nation or the interests of some media owners.

    • The Cybersecurity 202: Anti-censorship tool opens new rift between lawmakers and tech companies

      Lawmakers are turning up the pressure on Google and Amazon to reconsider their ban on a powerful anti-censorship technique used by millions of people worldwide to bypass restrictions on internet access.

      Sens. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., and Ron Wyden, D-Ore., are calling on the companies to explain their abrupt decision this year to prohibit “domain fronting,” which allows users to visit blocked websites and use restricted applications by disguising the actual destination of Web traffic. Google and Amazon should reinstate the practice or, at the very least, consider ways to offer other protections, the senators said in a letter to the companies this week.

    • Domain fronting: Why cloud providers are concerned about it

      Domain fronting is a popular technique used to circumvent internet censorship controls, and it is easy to deploy and use. Domain fronting works at the application layer and uses different domain names to hide the true endpoint of a connection. This enables a user to connect to a blocked service over HTTPS while appearing to communicate with an entirely different site.

      In an HTTPS request, the destination domain name is transmitted in three places: in the domain name system (DNS) query, in the TLS Server Name Indication (SNI) extension and in the HTTP Host header. Normally, the same domain name appears in all three places; but in a so-called domain-fronted request, the DNS query and SNI contain the front domain name, but the actual destination domain appears only in the HTTP Host header. The front domain is usually a legitimate site, and this is the domain that is used to initialize the connection.

    • Mark Zuckerberg is a horror show. But there’s a glimmer of truth hidden in his latest blunder.
    • CEO Zuckerberg Says Facebook Shouldn’t Censor Holocaust Deniers
    • Here’s why Mark Zuckerberg doesn’t think Infowars should be banned
    • Zuckerberg defends Facebook users’ right to be wrong – even Holocaust deniers
    • Zuckerberg Censors Conservatives on Facebook, But Gives Holocaust Deniers Free Rein
    • Full transcript: Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg on Recode Decode
    • EXCLUSIVE: Under World Cup spotlight, Qataris crack down on LGBT news coverage
    • Qatar completely censors articles about LGBTQ community from New York Times
    • 2022 World Cup host Qatar censors LGBTQ news coverage
    • What two films reveal about China
    • Hollywood Braces for Collateral Damage From Trade War With China
    • Emba: Editors’ discretion isn’t censorship
    • Creative or crass? Viewer sole censor of web entertainment

      An underworld don calls former prime minister of India Rajiv Gandhi a ‘fattu’ because the politician chose to overrule the court order in the 1985 Shah Bano case on women’s rights. The word, mouthed by actor Nawazuddin Siddiqui in Sacred Games, was loosely translated as ‘pu***’ in the subtitles. What followed was a PIL in the Delhi High Court against Netflix’s first Indian original series, demanding removal of ‘derogatory’ dialogues, as well as ‘objectionable’ scenes in the series. Interestingly, Lust Stories, a film created for and streamed on Netflix, is the most popular among its offerings. With web streaming services becoming the order of the day, one wonders if there is a need for regulation of the offerings and if it is even possible.

      As Supreme Court advocate Apar Gupta, who is also co-founder of Internet Freedom Foundation, an advocacy firm, says: “There is no regulator for OTT or internet content in India. For now, OTT platforms are largely self-governed under the various applicable laws in the country for different broadcasting medium, including the Information Technology Act and the Cinematograph Act, which are largely sufficient to address the key concerns. Players need to follow self-censorship to screen their content or else they might end up in a court.” The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) can block websites that have objectionable content, such as those with copyright infringement, like torrent sites. “Apart from that, there is no regulatory mechanism in place,” says Shailesh Kapoor, CEO of Ormaxe Media, a Mumbai-based media consulting firm.

    • Silence from judiciary over media attacks increases self-censorship, Pakistan’s journalists say

      When it comes to the military and the judiciary, Pakistan’s journalists are “between a rock and a hard place,” Zohra Yusuf, of the independent non-profit Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, told CPJ. In recent months the judiciary, which has a history of siding with Pakistan’s powerful military, has remained largely silent amid attempts to censor or silence the press.

      Ahead of elections on July 25, CPJ has documented how journalists who are critical of the military or authorities were abducted or attacked, how the army spokesman accused journalists of sharing anti-state and anti-military propaganda, and how distribution of two of Pakistan’s largest outlets–Geo TV and Dawn–was arbitrarily restricted. The judiciary, which has power to take up cases on its own, did not intervene on behalf of the press. But it has continued its practice of threatening legal action against its critics.

      Some journalists and analysts said that by not taking action, the judiciary has added to a climate of fear and self-censorship.

    • Toerisme Vlaanderen in playful protest against artistic censorship on Facebook

      Today, Facebook does not seem to be able to tell the difference between art and pornography.
      Paintings by Flemish Masters are currently being exhibited in the North of Belgium. To help promote them, on Sunday Toerisme Vlaanderen broadcast a playful video that mocks the social network site’s current policy on nudity.

      In the video, visitors to the Maison de Rubens in Antwerp are not shown paintings by baroque Masters “in the interests of protecting the public against nudity”.

      A series of Belgian cultural institutions, such as Bozar and Toerisme Vlaanderen, have also written an open letter to Facebook boss Mark Zuckerberg.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Mass incarceration of Uyghurs could backfire on the Party

      As Chinese President Xi Jinping continues to ramp up his program of religious persecution, nowhere is it being executed with more intensity and violence than on the Muslim Uyghur community in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region in northwest China.

      But there is a new technological bent to the program, one many observers believe could see Xinjiang become the testing ground for the Communist Party to exercise Orwellian control over its citizens in new ways.

      The latest move in China’s campaign to weaken Uyghur culture, a campaign that was stepped up significantly after sectarian riots broke out on June 9, 2009, is the relocation of more than 416,000 people from Xinjiang, according to state media.

      And that is only just the start, with plans apparently afoot to shift a further 100,000 of this Turkic ethnic group to elsewhere in the province.

    • How Government Secrecy on Torture Has Stymied the 9/11 Terror Prosecution

      Around 9 pm on December 4, 2017, two FBI documents were delivered to the defense teams representing the five Guantánamo detainees on trial in the military commissions for their alleged roles in the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. These documents, which the lawyers had been requesting since 2013, would be the focus of proceedings starting at 9 the following morning. The 11th-hour timing of the document drop is not unusual in this legal system, where the prosecution controls when and what governmental information (as well as access to witnesses and resources) will be provided to the defense.

      In the 9/11 case, the pretrial discovery process is exceptionally contentious by any measure. The defendants were held for years and tortured in CIA black sites prior to their transfer to Guantánamo in September 2006. Most information about the agency’s Rendition, Detention, and Interrogation (RDI) program—although it was terminated years ago—remains a national-security secret. The defense lawyers, all of whom have top security clearance, have spent years filing motions and arguing to gain information about what happened to their clients in CIA custody, and insist that this information must be discoverable, not least because in capital cases where the death penalty is on the table, heightened due process applies. The prosecution disagrees, insisting that this trial is about the defendants’ roles in the crime of 9/11, and that what happened to them afterward has little bearing on their involvement in these events. In lieu of original classified materials about the CIA’s program, prosecutors produce—and the judge reviews and approves—summaries of select materials they deem relevant; those summaries obscure specific dates and locations and mask the identities of people with “unique functional identifiers” and pseudonyms (e.g., Interrogator 1, Dr. Shrek).

    • The Troubling Fate of a 1973 Film About the First Black Man in the C.I.A.

      Ivan Dixon’s 1973 film, “The Spook Who Sat by the Door,” which is playing at Metrograph from Friday through Sunday (it’s also on DVD and streaming), is a political fiction, based on a novel by Sam Greenlee, about the first black man in the C.I.A. After leaving the agency, the agent, Dan Freeman (Lawrence Cook) moves to Chicago, and puts his training in guerrilla warfare to use: he organizes a group of black gang members and Vietnam War veterans into a fighting force and leads a violent uprising against the police, the National Guard, and the city government. The film’s radical premise was noticed outside of Hollywood: produced independently, the film was completed and released by United Artists, but it was pulled from theatres soon after its release. Its prints were destroyed; the negative was stored under another title; and Greenlee (who died in 2014) claimed that the F.B.I. was involved in its disappearance, citing visits from agents to theatre owners who were told to pull the movie from screens. (No official documentation of these demands has emerged.)

      On these grounds alone, a viewing of “The Spook Who Sat By the Door” would be a matter of urgent curiosity. But the movie is also a distinctive and accomplished work of art, no mere artifact of the times but an enduring experience. A supreme aspect of the art of movies is tone—the sensory climate of a movie, which depends on the style and mood of performance as much as the plot and the dialogue, the visual compositions as well as the locations, costumes, and décor, the editing and the music (often a sticking point), all of which are aligned with—and sharpen and focus—the ideas that the movie embodies. Dixon—who starred in one of the greatest of all independent films, Michael Roemer’s “Nothing But a Man,” from 1964 (and then spent five years on “Hogan’s Heroes”)—begins with a tone bordering on sketch-like satire that soon crystallizes into a sharp edge of restrained precision. A senator (a white man, played by Joseph Mascolo) campaigning for reëlection finds that he needs the black vote and decides to criticize the C.I.A. for having no black agents. Even in his office, the senator speaks in a pompous, stentorian voice seemingly inflated to a constant podium bluster.

    • Acting CIA Inspector General Is Retiring Amid Allegations Against Him

      The acting inspector general of the CIA has withdrawn his nomination to officially take over the role, according to CNN.

      Christopher Sharpley, who has been the agency’s acting IG since 2015, sent an email this week to coworkers saying he would seek other opportunities and retire within 30 days.

      Now-retired employees have complained Sharpley punished them for reporting wrongdoing within the IG’s office. He allegedly interfered in witness interviews to get the names of the whistleblowers, forcing the Department of Justice to throw out evidence and settle a contracting bribery case.

    • MPs criticise ‘glaring lack’ of senior BAME staff in intelligence services

      GCHQ is the only organisation in the government’s intelligence community with any black, Asian or ethnic minority (BAME) staff in its senior ranks, a new report reveals.

      MPs on the Intelligence and Security Committee criticised the “glaring lack” of BAME staff, but noted that the intelligence services face particular challenges including bureaucratic vetting processes, nationality rules and outdated public perceptions.

    • So the CIA and FBI are the good guys because you hate Trump?

      There’s no denying how US President Donald Trump has mortified Americans, both at home and around the world, with his astonishing capitulation and public display of subservience to Russian President Vladimir Putin at their surreal summit in Helsinki this week.

      “I don’t see any reason why it would be [Russia that interfered in the 2016 presidential election],” was his jaw-dropping reply when asked whether he trusted his own intelligence agencies’ conclusions about meddling by Moscow.

      Trump’s dogged refusal to criticise or confront Putin, who was standing right next to him on the world stage, appalled Americans across the political divide. How could the president of the United States throw his own spy masters under the bus, in full public glare, by accepting the word of such a ruthless strongman and adversary over theirs?

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • Airbus Zephyr: Solar-powered ‘pseudo-satellite’ takes flight

      Aerospace giant Airbus has unveiled a solar-powered solution for stratospheric satellite-like services.

      The Zephyr High Altitude Psuedo-Satellite (HAPS) was shown off for the first time at the Farnborough International Air Show this week, with Airbus revealing that a working prototype is currently somewhere in the sky above Arizona.

    • The Airbus Solar-Powered Zephyr S Drone Provides Internet Access and Flies for Weeks

      Facebook’s Aquila project wasn’t the only solar-powered drone being developed to provide internet and cellular access to rural and remote areas. In 2014, Boeing’s Phantom Works division applied for a patent that detailed a similar high-altitude, long-endurance (HALE) vehicle. BAE Systems is currently tirelessly working on such an aircraft, too. While Airbus might’ve seemed more focused on passenger drones as of late, it’s now clear the aviation giant is HALE-hungry, as well, as the company’s Zephyr S drone will take flight in September.

      According to ZDNet, the Zephyr S weighs 165.3 pounds (75 kilograms) and has a wingspan of 82 feet (25 meters), thereby being incredibly light for such a physically large and technologically capable vehicle. Designed to cruise within the stratosphere at an altitude of 13 miles (21 km), Zephyr’s engineers killed several birds with one stone. Namely, avoiding commercial airplane traffic, continuously refueling through solar energy, and having a stronger line of communication to devices on the ground.

    • Zephyr solar-powered stratosphere drone takes flight

      The Zephyr has a wingspan of 25 meters and is designed to operate in the stratosphere at an average altitude of 21 kilometers — above clouds, jet streams and ozone layer, as well as regular air traffic (apart perhaps, from the odd spy-plane). Airbus wants the drone to fly for 100 days without landing (its currently record is 14 days without refuelling) and travel up to 1,000 nautical miles per day. It weighs 75kg, but can support a payload up to five times its own weight.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Groupon casts IBM as shaking down other tech companies

      A lawyer for discount e-commerce company Groupon told a court in Delaware on Thursday that IBM has shaken down practically every large tech firm for patent fees.

      IBM is suing Groupon for US$167 million, accusing it of infringing four basic internet technology patents, in a case that is being closely watched by the tech industry.

      IBM has portrayed itself as an innovator whose licensing fee requests are reasonable in light of its research and development costs. But Groupon is defending itself by trying to portray IBM as using outdated patents to squeeze money out of other tech companies with threats of litigation.

      “IBM has approached every significant company in the web technology space asserting patents against them,” Groupon lawyer J. David Hadden said during cross-examination of IBM licensing executive Thomas McBride in federal court.

    • Week in Review: App Store Continues to Dominate, Apple Patents Personal Driving Profile, iPhone Photo Awards Announced & More

      While this was a rather slow summer news week, there were still a few highlights worth noting. There were a number of stories on Apple’s intellectual property front; a few interesting Apple stories like iPhone photo winners announced and the App Store dominating in profits; and some interesting industry news like Google getting fined billions over Android breaching EU laws. Lastly, Apple wants to show a little love for HomePod fans this coming week by holding a special event.

    • For Design Patent Owners (and Alleged Infringers), The Third Time is Not a Charm

      On May 24, 2018, we received the third (trial) installment in the seven-year legal battle between Apple and Samsung over the design of smart phones and related devices. At issue on this go-round was a retrial solely directed to the issue of damages – how much did Samsung owe Apple for infringing several design patents generally directed to various features of Apple’s iPhone and iPad devices? The issue of liability had been decided long ago by an earlier jury trial and affirmance from the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals. More particularly, the San Jose jury was this time asked to determine whether the drawings of the design patents at issue captured the entire “article of manufacture” ultimately sold by Samsung.

      The hope for patent practitioners across the county was that the trial and its ultimate verdict would provide detailed guidance on how to counsel clients on both prosecution of design patents as well as providing reliable advice on dealing with allegations of design patent infringement. The jurors deliberated for more than three days on what constitutes an “article of manufacture” and how much Samsung’s infringement on Apple’s iPhone design is worth, but provided no significant insight into how they conducted their deliberations or what may have swayed them to award Apple half a billion dollars in damages. So, we continue to wait.

    • Qualcomm’s own experts concede Intel’s baseband chipsets are good for innovation and pricing

      At this stage, the Northern District of California is a standard-essential patent (SEP) litigation hotbed. The previous post was about Huawei’s shrinking case against Samsung, but there are some extremely interesting developments in a consumer class lawsuit against Qualcomm, related to FTC v. Qualcomm. Late last month, the consumer plaintiffs brought a motion to bar Qualcomm from enforcing a potential U.S. import ban against certain (in practical terms, Intel-powered) iPhones.

    • Five years after its founding, IP Bridge reflects Japan’s changing approach to patents

      Apart from attending IP Bridge’s celebration reception in Tokyo last week, I also had opportunities to speak to some senior managers in corporate IP groups. It seems clear that change is underway in the country’s IP marketplace. Patent enforcement and licensing activities are more widely discussed and accepted than ever before, as is transferring patents to third parties (particularly patent pools and aggregators). A couple of companies told me that they want to generate revenue from their portfolios in order to reinvest in future R&D. However, it’s worth noting that these viewed are not shared across all industry sectors.

      Many people told me that change does not come as fast in Japan as it does elsewhere – and that includes IP strategies. Over the years, though, we have seen IP Bridge attract more domestic rights owners from an expanding number of sectors to partner with it. This is solid evidence that, slowly but surely, the patent world here is changing.

    • Copyrights

      • US Supreme Court Tackles Copyright Registration Circuit Split

        Some circuit courts have held that a work is “registered” and the copyright owner can sue an infringer as soon as the applicant files the application, deposits a copy of the work and pays a fee. This is known as the “application” approach. Other circuit courts follow the “registration” approach which requires the Copyright Office to act on the application—by examining it and either approving or refusing it—before the copyright owner may file suit

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