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07.20.19

Links 20/7/2019: Weston 7.0 Alpha, Nageru 1.9.0

Posted in News Roundup at 12:19 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

  • GNU/Linux

    • Server

      • IBM

        • IBM helps developers use open source and machine learning

          As artificial intelligence and machine learning become more widespread, it’s essential that developers have access to the latest models and data sets.

          Today at the OSCON 2019 open source developer conference, IBM is announcing the launch of two new projects for developers.

    • Kernel Space

      • Systemd Introduces A New & Practical Service For Dealing With PStore

        Adding to the list of new features for systemd 243 is another last-minute addition to this growing init system… Systemd picked up a new service and while some may view it as bloat, should be quite practical at least for those encountering kernel crashes from time to time.

        Linux for several years now has offered a Pstore file-system that maps to persistent storage for recording kernel panics/errors and other debug logs that can be retained when a kernel crashes or system reboot happens and other behavior where normally all information is lost.

      • The Arm SoC/Platform Changes Finally Sent In For Linux 5.3: Jetson Nano, New SoCs

        The Arm SoC/platform changes arrived a bit late to the Linux 5.3 merge window ending this weekend. The Arm SoC/platform changes were only sent in on Friday night but include Librem 5 Developer Kit support in terms of the DeviceTree bits as well as improving the NVIDIA Jetson Nano support and various other SoC/platform additions.

      • NFS Changes On Linux 5.3 Will Allow Clients To Use New “nconnect” Mount Option

        Sent out on Thursday were the NFS client updates for the Linux 5.3 kernel merge window. This time around are a few interesting changes.

        A new mount option for NFS setups on Linux 5.3+ is the “nconnect=X” mount option where X specifies the number of TCP connections to the server to use. This multiple TCP connection handling to the server is done seamlessly and the queue length is used to balance load across the connections.

      • Graphics Stack

        • weston 6.0.91
          This is the alpha release for weston 7.0.  A lot of new features and
          fixes are shipped in this release, including:
          
          - New internal debug scopes and logging framework
          - Improved documentation
          - HDCP support
          - A new PipeWire plugin
          
          Thanks to all contributors!
          
          We've moved to Meson as our only build system, autotools support has
          been removed.  Package maintainers: please report any issues you have
          with Meson before the stable release.
          
          Full commit history below.
          
        • Weston 7.0 Reaches Alpha With PipeWire, HDCP, EGL Partial Updates & Mores

          Wayland release manager Simon Ser announced the alpha release of the Weston 7.0 reference compositor on Friday that also marks the feature freeze for this Wayland compositor update.

          Some of the major changes to Weston 7.0 include HDCP content protection support, better documentation, new debugging and logging framework support, and the just-added PipeWire plug-in for remote streaming. There are also less prominent additions like EGL partial update support, various DRM compositor back-end restructuring, build system updates, and a variety of libweston updates.

        • RadeonSI Gallium3D Driver Adds Navi Wave32 Support

          One of the new features to the RDNA architecture with Navi is support for single cycle issue Wave32 execution on SIMD32. Up to now the RadeonSI code was using just Wave64 but now there is support in this AMD open-source Linux OpenGL driver for Wave32.

          Well known AMD open-source developer Marek Olšák landed this Wave32 support on Friday for the RadeonSI driver. The Wave32 support landed over several commits to Mesa 19.2-devel and is enabled for vertex, geometry, and tessellation shaders. Wave32 isn’t enabled for pixel shaders but rather Wave64. Additionally, Wave32 isn’t yet enabled for compute shaders due to Piglit OpenGL test case failures.

    • Applications

      • Nageru 1.9.0 released

        I’ve just released version 1.9.0 of Nageru, my live video mixer. This contains some fairly significant changes to the way themes work, and I’d like to elaborate a bit about why:

        Themes in Nageru govern what’s put on screen at any given time (this includes the actual output, of course, but also preview channels show in the UI). They were always a compromise between flexibility and implementation cost; with limited resources, I just could not create a full-fledged animation studio like VizRT has.

    • Instructionals/Technical

    • Games

      • Dota Underlords has another update out, this one changes the game quite a lot

        Valve continue to tweak Dota Underlords in the hopes of keeping players happy, this mid-Season gameplay update flips quite a few things on their head.

        I like their sense of humour, with a note about them removing “code that caused crashes and kept code that doesn’t cause crashes”.

        There’s a few smaller changes like the addition of Loot Round tips to the Season Info tab, the ability to change equipped items from the Battle Pass and some buffs to the amount XP awarded for your placement in matches and for doing the quests. Meaning you will level up the Battle Pass faster.

      • Interested in Google’s Stadia game streaming service? We have a few more details now

        With Google’s game streaming service Stadia inching closer, we have some more information to share about it. Part of this, is thanks to a recent AMA (Ask Me Anything) they did on Reddit. I’ve gone over what questions they answered, to give you a little overview.

        Firstly, a few points about the Stadia Pro subscription: The Pro subscription is not meant to be like a “Netflix for Games”, something people seem to think Stadia will end up as. Google said to think of it more like Xbox Live Gold or Playstation Plus. They’re aiming to give Pro subscribers one free game a month “give or take”. If you cancel Stadia Pro, you will lose access to free games claimed. However, you will get the previously claimed games back when you re-subscribe but not any you missed while not subscribed.

        As for Stadia Base, as expected there will be no free games included. As already confirmed, both will let you buy games as normal.

      • Top 15 Best Linux Racing Games That You’ve Maybe Never Heard of

        Many games are available on the Linux platform. Just a few years back, it was believed that Linux platform has an inadequate number of games nevertheless; in recent years that perception has been changed. Linux racing games are significantly developed and entirely contemporary thus; thrill, amusement, and excitement can thrive in those games. Game –savvy people would find numerous games which are enough for titillation, and online game enthusiasts can have a brilliant time by playing those games. In addition, among many games, some of them are free and open source, and the rest of others need to buy albeit; you would get back a good value of money.

      • The merciless roguelike “Jupiter Hell” goes Vulkan, with another free demo weekend now up

        Jupiter Hell from ChaosForge is the successor to DoomRL (Doom the roguelike, now “DRL” after lawyers came knocking), it’s a brutal and atmospheric roguelike and you can try it out again.

        Just recently, they gave it a pretty big update which comes with Vulkan support by default. However, if that causes you issues you can add “–gl” as a launch option to get it in OpenGL mode.

    • Desktop Environments/WMs

      • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

        • Neon: A Wannabe Linux Distro For KDE Lovers

          KDE Neon is a bit of an oddball Linux thing. Linuxland has an impressive collection of oddball things.

          Neon looks and feels much like a Linux distribution, but its developers assert quite openly on their website that Neon is not a real Linux distro. It just installs and functions like one — sort of.

          That can make deciding to use it a little confusing. Neon appears to be a Linux operating system. It boots your computer. It displays a full desktop environment. It runs *some* applications so you can go about your computing tasks much like using any other — ahh — real Linux distribution.

          That last part is a clue to what makes KDE Neon different.

          Getting somewhat technical for a minute, KDE Neon is more of a specialty offering than a fully endowed operating system. Other distros support a wide range of applications from the same software format type.

          For example, Ubuntu runs .Deb formatted packages from the Debian Linux family. All .Deb packages will run on Ubuntu- and other Debian-based distros. Which desktop environment is used does not matter, be it KDE, Xfce, GNOME or whatever.

          Ditto for RPM-based Linux distributions, like Fedora and Red Hat. All you need is a package management tool or knowledge of the commands for apt, yum or pacman, depending on the distribution’s Linux family. However, that is a skill set that lots of Linux users never had to learn.

          Not so with KDE Neon. Neon runs only a specific category of KDE applications: the latest. Neon’s developers assert that their “pseudo” distro does not support most other software. In fact, non-KDE packages most likely will not even install on Neon.

        • LabPlot has got some beautifying and lots of datasets

          Hello everyone! The second part of this year’s GSoC is almost over, so I was due to let you know the progress made in the last 3 weeks. I can assure you we haven’t lazed since then. I think I managed to make quite good progress, so everything is going as planned, or I could say that even better. If you haven’t read about this year’s project or you just want to go through what has already been accomplished you can check out my previous post.

          So let’s just go through the new things step by step. I’ll try to explain the respective feature, and also give examples using videos or screenshots.

          The first step was to improve the welcome screen and make it easily usable, dynamic, clean and intuitive for users. This step was very important since the welcome screen is what the users will first get in contact with when they start using LabPlot.

      • GNOME Desktop/GTK

    • Distributions

      • Intel / Clear Linux Is Looking For Your Feedback On Your Linux Development Workflow

        Intel’s Clear Linux crew has launched a twelve-question survey seeking feedback on your Linux usage though the survey slightly caters towards developers. While the survey is being put out by Intel’s performance-oriented Linux distribution, users of any Linux platform are encouraged to participate.

        They are curious about the projects you’re working on, the operating system primarily being used for your Linux development work, the five main desktop applications, the five main development tools, programming language preferences, and similar questions.

      • New Releases

        • Q4OS 3.8 is released, which is Based on Debian Buster 10

          The brand new stable Q4OS 3.8 version codenamed ‘Centaurus’. It’s a lightweight desktop-oriented Linux distribution featured with Plasma 5.14, optionally Trinity 14.0.6, desktop environment.

          It’s available for 64-bit, 32-bit/i686pae and older i386 systems without PAE extension. But ARM device support is not available as of now and they are working on it, probably it will be shipped in future releases.

          Q4OS comes with their own exclusive utilities and features called Desktop profiler, Setup utility and Welcome Screen.

          Desktop profiler is allowing you to profiling your computer into different professional working tools.

        • KDE Applications, Squid, SQLite, VIM Update in Tumbleweed

          Three openSUSE Tumbleweed snapshots in the middle of this week brought new minor version updates to ImageMagick, Squid, SQLite, VIM and more. The new KDE Applications 19.04.3 version arrived in the first two snapshots.

          The more recent snapshot, 20190718, brought a half-dozen new packages, which include fix for the UrbanCode Deploy (UCD) script data for Unicode 10+ scripts for the OpenType text shaping engine package harfbuzz 2.5.3. A two-year old Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures (CVE) was fixed with the update of libpng12 1.2.59. The tool that cleans RPM spec files, spec-cleaner 1.1.4, added a temporary patch to fix a test that fails if there is no internet connection. Caching proxy squid 4.8 fixed GNU Compiler Collection (GCC) 9 build issues and added a fix to prevent parameter parsing used for a potential Denial of Service (DoS). RISC-V support was added with the virt-manager 2.2.1 update and xclock 1.0.9 was also updated in the snapshot, which is trending at a 97 rating, according to the Tumbleweed snapshot reviewer.

      • Screenshots/Screencasts

        • Deepin 15.11

          Today we are looking at Deepin 15.11. Deepin 15.11 is a fantastic release of Deepin, I couldn’t find any faults and it just feels so much more stable, with Debian Buster and Kwin Window Manager.

          One, of the newest features, which I noticed, I guess there will be mixed emotions is that they have now an optional built-in cloud service, currently only available in China, I don’t know how secure it will be and exactly what it’s purpose will be.

          Another thing which I noticed is, that Deepin Driver Manager comes now pre-installed and their version of Crossover is upgraded to Crossover 18, available in the Software Center.

        • Deepin 15.11 Run Through

          In this video, we look at Deepin 15.11.

      • Fedora Family

        • Network Security Toolkit (NST) 30 SVN 11210, which is Based on Fedora 30

          Network Security Toolkit (NST) is a Linux-based live operating system that provides a set of free and open-source computer security and networking tools to perform routine security and networking diagnostic and monitoring tasks.

          It is based on Fedora and NST has included comprehensive set of Open Source Network Security Tools, which is published in sectools.org website.

          It is offering an advanced Web User Interface (GUI) for system/network administrator, which allows them to configure many network and security applications.

          NST Team is pleased to announce the latest NST release of “NST 30 SVN:11210” on 1th July 2019.

        • Fedora announces the first preview release of Fedora CoreOS as an automatically updating Linux OS for containerized workloads

          Three days ago, Fedora announced the first preview release of the open-source project Fedora CoreOS as a secure and reliable host for computer clusters. It is specifically designed for running containerized workloads with automatic updates to the latest OS improvements, bug fixes, and security updates. It is secure, minimal, monolithic and is optimized for working with Kubernetes.

          The main goal of Fedora CoreOS is to be a reliable container host to run containerized workloads securely and at scale. It integrates Ignition from Container Linux technology and rpm-ostree and SELinux hardening from Project Atomic Host.

          Fedora CoreOS is expected to be a successor to Container Linux eventually. The Container Linux project will continue to be supported throughout 2019, leaving users with ample time to migrate and provide feedback. Fedora has also assured Container Linux users that continued support will be provided to them without any disruption. Fedora CoreOS will also become the successor to Fedora Atomic Host. The current plan is for Fedora Atomic Host to have at least a 29 version and 6 months of lifecycle.

      • Debian Family

        • Debian-based deepin 15.11 Linux distribution now available for download

          deepin is the most beautiful desktop operating system on the planet, besting both macOS, and Windows. Hell, it is even prettier than all other Linux distributions too. And yes, that matters. While an operating system shouldn’t impede productivity or behave obnoxiously, it should inspire the user. deepin does this.

          Today, the Debian-based deepin 15.11 becomes available, and it looks like another winner. While not radically different from deepin 15.10, it has enough bug fixes and additions to make it worthwhile. For instance, even though optical discs (CD, DVD, Blu-ray, etc.) are dramatically declining in popularity (near obsolete), the deepin devs have intergrated disc-burning into the distro’s file manager. More exciting, however, is cloud sync for Control Center, which will make it easier to restore settings on a fresh installation or when logging into a shared machine.

        • Cross Architecture Linux Containers

          With more ARM based devices in the market, and with them getting more powerful every day, it is more common to see more of ARM images for your favorite Linux distribution. Of them, Debian has become the default choice for individuals and companies to base their work on. It must have to do with Debian’s long history of trying to support many more architectures than the rest of the distributions. Debian also tends to have a much wider user/developer mindshare even though it does not have a direct backing from any of the big Linux distribution companies.

          Some of my work involves doing packaging and integration work which reflects on all architectures and image types; ARM included. So having the respective environment readily available is really important to get work done quicker.

          I still recollect back in 2004, when I was much newer to Linux Enterprise while working at a big Computer Hardware Company, I had heard about the Itanium 64 architecture. Back then, trying out anything other than x86 would mean you need access to physical hardware. Or be a DD and have shell access the Debian Machines.
          With Linux Virtualization, a lot seems to have improved over time.

        • piuparts.debian.org down for maintenance

          So I’ve just shut down piuparts.debian.org for maintenance, the website is still up but the slaves won’t be running for the next week. I think this will block testing migration for a few packages, but probably that’s how it is.

        • Sean Whitton: Debian Policy call for participation — July 2019

          Debian Policy started off the Debian 11 “bullseye” release cycle with the release of Debian Policy 4.4.0.0. Please consider helping us fix more bugs and prepare more releases (whether or not you’re at DebCamp19!).

      • Canonical/Ubuntu Family

        • Ubuntu Studio 18.10 Reaches End-Of-Life (EOL)

          We strongly urge all users of 18.10 to upgrade to Ubuntu Studio 19.04 for support through January 2020 and then after the release of Ubuntu Studio 19.10, codenamed Eoan Ermine, in October 2019 which will also be supported for 9 months.

          Ubuntu Studio 18.10 will no longer receive any support from this point forward. Packages will not be updated any further, and packages in the Ubuntu Studio Backports PPA for 18.10 will be removed if they haven’t been already. Additionally, if you have added the backports PPA, it is highly recommended that you remove the PPA prior to upgrading using the instructions in this link.

        • Linux Mint 19.2 “Tina” Beta released, here are the new features

          The Linux Mint operating system is a derivative of Ubuntu. The thing that separates it from other Linux distros is it provides a modern and easy-to-use interface to its users. Accordingly, if you want to get started with Linux without that much learning, going for Linux Mint would be an excellent choice.

          Linux Mint 19.2 has been codenamed Tina which hints towards the singer Tina Turner. As it is a significant update, users should expect a lot of new features and enhancements in this version. It is also worth mentioning that Linux Mint 19.2 will receive support until 2023.

    • Devices/Embedded

    • Free, Libre, and Open Source Software

      • Zstd 1.4.1 Further Improves Decode Speed, Other Optimizations

        Zstd 1.4.1 is out today as a maintenance release to Facebook’s Zstandard compression algorithm but with this update comes even more performance optimizations.

        [...]

        This Zstd release also has several bug fixes including for niche use-cases where it could hit a rare data corruption bug. There are also build system updates and documentation improvements.

      • Events

      • SaaS/Back End

        • Kubernetes As A Service On Bare Metal | Boris Renski

          Mirantis is one of those companies that continues to evolve with change times. Mirantis is now upping its Kubernetes game by offering Kubernetes as a service that supports bare metal. Mirantis CMO and co-founder Boris Renski explains the service in this interview.

      • Databases

        • YugaByte Commits to 100 Percent Open Source with Apache 2.0 License

          Version 2.0 Release Candidate of YugaByte Distributed SQL DB Available; First Product Available Under License Created by the Polyform Project.

        • Databases adopt open licenses, JavaScript gets faster on Android, governments use more OSS, and more news

          In the last year, a handful of major open source database vendors have tightened their grip on their code to try to remain competitive. Two vendors have bucked that trend and have gone all in on open source.

          The first of those is Cloudera, which announced that it’s making “closed license components of its products open source” under the AGPL and Apache 2.0 license. While Cloudera’s executives said they “had been mulling a modified open source license” like the one adopted by some of their competitors, they decided to go open and to adopt a “licensing/subscription approach” that closely mirrors that of Red Hat.

          Distributed database vendor YugaByte also adopted an Apache 2.0 license, making its wares fully open source. That move brings “previously commercial-only, closed-source features such as Distributed Backups, Data Encryption, and Read Replicas into the open source core project.” That code is available in the project’s GitHub repository.

      • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

        • Open Access/Content

          • Why Carl Malamud’s Latest Brilliant Project, To Mine The World’s Research Papers, Is Based In India

            Carl Malamud is one of Techdirt’s heroes. We’ve been writing about his campaign to liberate US government documents and information for over ten years now. The journal Nature has a report on a new project of his, which is in quite a different field: academic knowledge. The idea will be familiar to readers of this site: to carry out text and data mining (TDM) on millions of academic articles, in order to discover new knowledge. It’s a proven technique with huge potential to produce important discoveries. That raises the obvious question: if large-scale TDM of academic papers is so powerful, why hasn’t it been done before? The answer, as is so often the case, is that copyright gets in the way.

      • Programming/Development

        • Sustainable Python scripts

          Python is a great language to write a standalone script. Getting to the result can be a matter of a dozen to a few hundred lines of code and, moments later, you can forget about it and focus on your next task.
          Six months later, a co-worker asks you why the script fails and you don’t have a clue: no documentation, hard-coded parameters, nothing logged during the execution and no sensible tests to figure out what may go wrong.

  • Leftovers

    • Science

      • How Apollo 11 brought humanity together

        “For one priceless moment in the whole history of man, all the people on this Earth are truly one: one in their pride in what you have done, and one in our prayers that you will return safely to Earth,” he said.

        But while the speech by President Kennedy remain vivid, Richard Nixon’s words were quickly forgotten. TV audiences became bored with the Moon landings and the Apollo programme was scrapped, with the final launch in 1972.

        At the time, President Nixon was making plans to begin a Christmas mass bombing campaign of North Vietnam and his administration was involved in a break-in at the Democratic National Committee’s offices in the Watergate complex. The US was still riven with conflict and protest.

    • Hardware

      • NASA’s Apollo 11 onboard computer really was as primitive as they say

        The first thing to say is that, yes, the facts are true, the Apollo Guidance Computer (AGC) was indeed less powerful than a mobile. In fact, it has about the same compute power as an Apple II, which would go on sale in 1977 for a cool $1298, boasting just 4KB of RAM.

        That’s quite a lot less than a mobile phone.

        But let’s just think about that for a moment – Apollo advances meant that we were able to buy a home computer, as powerful as NASA’s. a mere eight years after the moon landing. That’s pretty cool, and a reminder of the positive side-effects of the Space Race.

        ACG was the first computer to use integrated circuits, which have become the norm for modern computing.

      • Why E-Scooters Are on the Rise, Along With Injuries

        It’s been less than two years since the first crop of stand-up electric scooters for rent were dumped on a city sidewalk, but they can now be found around the world. Startups including Bird, Lime, Skip and Spin allow riders to locate and unlock scooters with an app. When they reach their destination, they just walk away — or hop into a train or taxi to continue the trip. Some urban planners consider shared scooters, along with shared bike services, the future of city transport. But after several fatal accidents and many more injuries involving e-scooters some officials, drivers and pedestrians see the fledgling mode of transport as a safety hazard that must be stopped.

    • Security (Confidentiality/Integrity/Availability)

      • Researchers Build App That Kills To Highlight Insulin Pump Exploit

        By now the half-baked security in most internet of things (IOT) devices has become a bit of a running joke, leading to amusing Twitter accounts like Internet of Shit that highlight the sordid depth of this particular apathy rabbit hole. And while refrigerators leaking your gmail credentials and tea kettles that expose your home networks are entertaining in their own way, it’s easy to lose sight of the fact that the same half-assed security in the IOT space also exists on most home routers, your car, your pacemaker, and countless other essential devices and services your life may depend on.

        Case in point: just about two years ago, security researchers discovered some major vulnerabilities Medtronic’s popular MiniMed and MiniMed Paradigm insulin pumps. At a talk last year, they highlighted how a hacker could trigger the pumps to either withhold insulin doses, or deliver a lethal dose of insulin remotely. But while Medtronic and the FDA warned customers about the vulnerability and issued a recall over time, security researchers Billy Rios and Jonathan Butts found that initially, nobody was doing much to actually fix or replace the existing devices.

        [...]

        And of course that’s not just a problem in the medical sector, but most internet-connected tech sectors. As security researcher Bruce Schneier often points out, it’s part of a cycle of dysfunction where the consumer and the manufacturer of a flawed product have already moved on to the next big purchase, often leaving compromised products, and users, in a lurch. And more often than not, when researchers are forced to get creative to highlight the importance of a particular flaw, the companies in question enjoy shooting the messenger.

      • Desktop Operating Systems: Which is the safest? [Ed: This shallow article does not discuss NSA back doors and blames on "Linux" devices with open ports and laughable passwords -- based on narrative often pushed by corporate media to give illusion of parity. Also pushes the lie of Linux having minuscule usage.]
      • How Open Source Data Can Protect Consumer Credit Card Information
      • Open Source Hacking Tool Grows Up

        An open source white-hat hacking tool that nation-state hacking teams out of China, Iran, and Russia have at times employed to avoid detection….

    • Defence/Aggression

      • War, Memory and Gettysburg

        Over 50,000 soldiers were killed, wounded or reported missing here in July 1863, many of them dying in terrible agony on the battlefield or carted off to improvised hospitals where arms and legs were swiftly amputated and tossed into large heaps on the floor. Abysmal hygiene—surgeons would nonchalantly wipe the blood from their bone saws on their pus-stained smocks and move on to the next victim—caused infection, blood poisoning and gangrene. To buy time, regiments such as the 1st Minnesota were ordered into battle against superior forces and as a result were decimated within minutes. Hundreds of African American men, women and children, many born free in the surrounding Pennsylvania towns, were abducted by invading Confederate forces led by Gen. Robert E. Lee and shipped south to be sold in the slave markets in Richmond, Va. Confederate and at times Union forces looted homes, farms and shops. For three days in the summer of 1863, there was an orgy of destruction, death and suffering on this ground.

        An estimated 750,000 soldiers were killed by combat, accident, starvation and disease in the Civil War, more than in all other American wars combined, according to a 2012 study. Rifled muskets and rifled artillery vastly increased the range and accuracy of fire over the 18th century’s smoothbore muskets and cannons, but the advance in weaponry did nothing to perturb the generals who clung to outdated and now suicidal tactics. They sent their soldiers marching forward in parade-ground lines into murderous volleys as if they were on a Napoleonic battlefield. The inability of most generals to adapt, as Allen C. Guelzo writes in “Gettysburg: The Last Invasion,” “makes the Civil War look like an exercise in raw stupidity equivalent to the slaughters on the Western Front [of World War I].”

        I am descended from one of three brothers who fought at Gettysburg. Clark S. Edwards was a Union general. Albert M. Edwards was a colonel in the elite Iron Brigade. Congress voted in 2018 to award him a posthumous Medal of Honor. David A. Edwards is my great-great-grandfather. He was a sergeant in the 5th Maine, and his war diaries, letters, brass cartridge box plate and pocket watch are next to me as I write.

      • US moves forward on operation to counter Iran, begins sending troops to Saudi Arabia

        The Pentagon did not specify the number of troops it was sending, but reports surfaced this week that 500 troops would be sent to the kingdom.

      • Trump’s Threats towards Iran Aren’t Working. Here’s Why.

        The Trump Administration has imposed sanctions against more than 1,000 Iranian entities, including Iran’s Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, targeting almost every significant sector of that nation’s economy. But recently it reversed course, backing off its threat to sanction a top Iranian diplomat, Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, in response to concerns that it would foreclose any diplomatic recourse.

      • Iran Acknowledges Missing Tanker Was Seized in Persian Gulf

        Iran said Thursday its Revolutionary Guard seized a foreign oil tanker and its crew of 12 for smuggling fuel out of the country, and hours later released video showing the vessel to be a United Arab Emirates-based ship that had vanished in Iranian waters over the weekend.

        The announcement solved one mystery — the fate of the missing ship — but raised a host of other questions and heightened worries about the free flow of traffic in the Strait of Hormuz, one of the world’s most critical petroleum shipping routes. One-fifth of global crude exports passes through the strait.

      • The Three-Letter Word at the Root of the Iran Crisis

        It’s always the oil. While President Trump was hobnobbing with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman at the G-20 summit in Japan, brushing off a recent U.N. report about the prince’s role in the murder of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was in Asia and the Middle East, pleading with foreign leaders to support “Sentinel.” The aim of that administration plan: to protect shipping in the Strait of Hormuz and the Persian Gulf. Both Trump and Pompeo insisted that their efforts were driven by concern over Iranian misbehavior in the region and the need to ensure the safety of maritime commerce. Neither, however, mentioned one inconvenient three-letter word — O-I-L — that lay behind their Iranian maneuvering (as it has impelled every other American incursion in the Middle East since World War II).

        Now, it’s true that the United States no longer relies on imported petroleum for a large share of its energy needs. Thanks to the fracking revolution, the country now gets the bulk of its oil — approximately 75% — from domestic sources. (In 2008, that share had been closer to 35%.) Key allies in NATO and rivals like China, however, continue to depend on Middle Eastern oil for a significant proportion of their energy needs. As it happens, the world economy — of which the U.S. is the leading beneficiary (despite President Trump’s self-destructive trade wars) — relies on an uninterrupted flow of oil from the Persian Gulf to keep energy prices low. By continuing to serve as the principal overseer of that flow, Washington enjoys striking geopolitical advantages that its foreign policy elites would no more abandon than they would their country’s nuclear supremacy.

      • The Slide to War with Iran: An Interview with Nader Hashemi

        Nader Hashemi is Director of the Center for Middle East Studies and teaches Middle East and Islamic politics at the Korbel School of International Studies at the University of Denver. He is the author of Islam, Secularism and Liberal Democracy and co-editor of The People Reloaded, The Syria Dilemma and Sectarianization: Mapping the New Politics of the Middle East.

    • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

      • Spying on Julian Assange

        History’s scope for the absurd and tragic is infinite. Like Sisyphus engaged in permanent labours pushing a boulder up a slope, the effort of making sense of such scope is likewise, absurdly infinite. To see images of an exhausted and world-weary Julian Assange attempting to dodge the all-eye surveillance operation that he would complain about is to wade in the insensibility of it all. But it could hardly have surprised those who have watched WikiLeaks’ battles with the Security Establishment over the years.

        Assange is not merely an exceptional figure but a figure of the exception. Despite being granted asylum status by an Ecuadorean regime that would subsequently change heart with a change of brooms, he was never permitted to exercise all his freedoms associated with such a grant. There was always a sense of contingency and qualification, the impending cul-de-sac in London’s Ecuadorean embassy.

        Between December 2017 and March 2018, dozens of meetings between Assange, his legal representatives, and visitors, were recorded in daily confidential reports written by an assigned security team and submitted to David Morales, formerly of special ops of the marine corps of the Spanish Navy. The very idea of legal professional privilege, a fetish in the Anglo-American legal system, was not so much deemed non-existent as ignored altogether.

        The security firm tasked with this smeared-in-the-gutter mission was Spanish outfit UC Global SL, whose task became all the more urgent once Ecuador’s Lenín Moreno came to power in May 2017. The mood had changed from the days when Rafael Correa had been accommodating, one at the crest of what was termed the Latin American Pink Tide. Under Moreno, Assange was no longer the wunderkind poking the eye of the US imperium with cheery backing. He had become, instead, a tenant of immense irritation and inconvenience, a threat to the shift in politics taking place in Ecuador. According to El País, “The security employees at the embassy had a daily job to do: to monitor Assange’s every move, record his conversations, and take note of his moods.”

      • In Crisis of Democracy, We All Must Become Julian Assange

        The US government’s indictment against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange marked the worst attack on press freedom in history. Assange has been charged on 18 counts, including 17 violations of the Espionage Act. James Goodale, former general counsel of The New York Times, who urged the paper to publish the Pentagon Papers during the Nixon administration noted, “If the government succeeds with the trial against Assange, if any, that will mean that it’s criminalized the news gathering process.”

        On June 12, UK Home Secretary Sajid Javid has signed the extradition papers. Assange’s hearing is now set to begin next February. He is now being held in London’s Belmarsh prison for what amounts to a politically motivated, 50-week sentence given by the judge for him violating bail conditions in 2012 in order to seek and obtain political asylum in Ecuador against the threat of extradition to the US.

        Nils Melzer, the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, who visited Assange in a notorious UK prison previously referred to as “Britain’s Guantanamo Bay”, assessed that Assange has been subjected to prolong psychological torture by the US government and its allies for nearly a decade. While this multi-award winning journalist, who has revealed the governments’ war crimes, suffers in jail, the British government that has been a key player of this political persecution recently held a Global Conference for Media Freedom.

      • History Is Happening: WikiLeaks, the Global Fourth Estate

        Nozomi Hayase dedicated WikiLeaks, the Global Fourth Estate: History Is Happening to “the youth who grew up on the Internet,” then added, “The future of civilization depends on great acts of courage inspired by the heart.” Hayase is a psychologist, essayist, and activist, and her book is a chronological collection of her essays about WikiLeaks, written from 2010 to 2017. It’s a thought- provoking look back at how WikiLeaks made history during these years by publishing leaked documents that exposed the malfeasance of governments from Russia to Australia and most famously that of the US State Department, Pentagon, and Democratic National Committee. Since 2018, I have joined Hayase in a number of actions to defend WikiLeaks and call for the freedom of Julian Assange.

    • Environment

      • AOC’s Green New Deal Is Just the Start. Next Let’s Make It Global.

        The resolution for a Green New Deal (GND) made a splash in Washington earlier this year. It was an ecological moonshot—calling for a wholesale decarbonization of the economy by 2030 and total transformation of the U.S. energy grid. But the resolution also attests to a greater ambition: bringing the U.S. back to the frontlines of a global struggle against climate crisis. And now it is becoming the opening salvo in an international campaign for climate justice.

        A decade before the GND resolution was proposed by Representatives Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-New York) and Ed Markey (D-Massachusetts) in Congress, the United Nations Environmental Programme issued a plan for a Global Green New Deal based on similar principles—ending dependency on fossil fuels, creating a green workforce and reducing poverty. Like the U.S. GND, the global version did not detail how it would be financed. U.S. lawmakers are reviving the GND concept in Washington, with a hugely ambitious goal of zeroing out emissions by 2030 nationwide. It’s increasingly clear from the size, scope and urgency of the climate threat worldwide that the U.S. needs to play a chief role in spurring a global GND alongside a domestic one.

        The People’s Policy Project (PPP) has mapped out a financial plan for a global Green New Deal, which centers the U.S. as a primary financial supporter of the energy transition and decarbonization process in poorer countries. The premise is that the U.S. carries a huge global ethical and economic responsibility to the current worldwide carbon crisis — not just because the U.S. is one of the largest emitters, but also because the poorest countries are extremely geographically and economically vulnerable to the extreme weather and mass displacement that climate change is rapidly intensifying.

      • On Climate, ‘Looking at the Structural Barriers to Progress Is Important’ – CounterSpin interview with Zoë Carpenter on GOP’s Oregon power grab

        The bizarre experience in Oregon last month, in which Republican lawmakers fled the senate—and the state—to prevent the quorum necessary for a vote on climate legislation, might have looked, as our guest writes, like a bit of “Wild West political theater.” But in truth, it’s a deeply unfunny story about the power of corporate interests and a small group of ideologues to squash legislation more than a decade in the making.

      • Arctic Summer Melt Shows Ice Is Disappearing Faster Than Normal

        The rate of ice loss in the region is a crucial indicator for the world’s climate and a closely-watched metric by bordering nations jostling for resources and trade routes. This month’s melt is tracking close to the record set in July 2012, the Colorado-based National Snow & Ice Data Center said in a statement.

      • I Traveled to the Arctic to Witness Climate Disaster Firsthand

        I went there myself to report this story for Teen Vogue, to meet those fighting to save these lands and see the impacts of climate change firsthand. My journey lasted two weeks, traveling first by way of a 10-seater bush plane to the first Arctic Indigenous Climate Summit in Gwich’yaa Zhee, or Fort Yukon, Alaska. Hosted by Gwich’yaa Zhee, Council of Athabascan Tribal Governments and the Gwich’in Steering Committee, the summit provided an unprecedented opportunity for community members and Indigenous leadership to explain what is at stake in the Coastal Plain region of the Refuge.

      • These maps show record high temperatures in June, as scientists predict July could be the hottest month ever recorded on Earth

        On Thursday, the US National Weather Service issued a national advisory warning that dangerous heat and humidity was to be expected across the country.

      • Do We Need a Dictatorship to Respond to Climate Change?

        Globally, June 2019 was the hottest June on record. Though it is tricky to attribute any particular event to anthropogenic climate change, scientists estimate that the likelihood of the month’s extreme heat was made five times more likely by human contributions.

        This heat is no anomaly. The top ten hottest years on record globally have all occurred since 1998. This list includes every year since 2013, which is to say, 2012 was the last year that was not one of the ten hottest recorded. (See “The 10 Hottest Global Years on Record.”) Because 2019 is an El Niño year, when temperatures tend to be higher, some are already predicting that it will end up being the hottest year on record.

        In India, people are running out of water. In the US Midwest, farmers are having difficulty planting crops. Greenland ice is melting at unprecedented levels. Drastic events continue to happen “sooner than predicted.”

      • Climate Crisis Disasters Now Occur Weekly, UN Warns

        Mizutori said that improving the systems that warn the public of severe weather and expanding awareness of which places and people are most vulnerable could help prevent lower impact disasters. She noted that while urgent work is needed to prepare the developing world, richer countries are also experiencing the consequences of global heating — including devastating wildfires and dangerous heatwaves.

        The adaption measures Mizutori called for include raising — and enforcing — infrastructure standards to make houses and businesses, roads and railways, and energy and water systems more capable of withstanding the impacts of the warming world, which scientists warn will increasing mean more frequent and intense extreme weather events. She also highlighted the potential of “nature-based solutions.”

        Peter Strachan — a professor and expert on energy policy, environmental management, and energy transitions at the U.K.’s Robert Gordon University — called the report “staggering” and alerted several environmental and climate advocacy groups on Twitter.

      • Energy

    • Finance

      • Best online payment alternatives to PayPal

        However, despite its continued popularity, PayPal’s monopoly is somewhat diminished, with a number of other online payment sites now looking vying for its users’ business by offering cheaper rates, better customer service or just a more up-to-date look.

        Here, we outline six of these alternatives to PayPal.

      • Why Does WaPo See Black as an ‘Identity’—but Not Multi-Millionaire?

        Reporter Eugene Scott acknowledges—and quotes people who affirm—that Johnson’s political views are completely out of step with most African-American voters, but apparently that’s not enough to convince Scott or his editors to change the framing (or existence) of the piece, which clearly illustrates a fundamental problem with the way the Post understands “identity politics.”

        [...]

        For instance, he says he thinks the economy is “doing great,” and that he gives “the president a lot of credit for moving the economy in a positive direction that’s benefiting a large amount of Americans.” Meanwhile, polling shows that 90 percent of African-American voters think that economic conditions have not changed or have gotten worse, and that 85 percent of black people believe that “low wages that are not enough to sustain a family” are a “major problem,” with more respondents identifying it as the single-most pressing problem facing black communities than any other issue.

        But it gets worse. In fact, Johnson himself doesn’t claim to speak for all black Americans—it’s the Post that reads his words that way. In the CNBC interview (7/9/19) the Post column is based on, Johnson makes it clear both that he is a “centrist” and that he’s speaking for himself: “The party in my opinion, for me personally, has moved too far left.” A few lines later in the interview, he talks about the Democratic candidates’ programs as “not resonating with the majority of the American people”—note the lack of a particular race attributed to those people. At no point does he reference the political opinions of African Americans as a group.

        Though the Post includes the first quote above, it takes as its premise that Johnson is speaking for his race, soliciting responses to this premise that point out his outlier status in the African-American community. F

    • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

      • How Corporate Welfare Hurts You

        You often hear Trump and Republicans in Congress railing against so-called “welfare programs” – by which they mean programs that provide health care or safety nets to ordinary Americans.

        But you almost never hear them complaining about another form of welfare that lines the pockets of wealthy corporations. We must end corporate welfare. Now.

      • What We Learned From The House Votes On Trump’s Tweets And Impeachment

        The House of Representatives held two high-profile votes this week in the wake of President Trump’s tweets that suggested that four congresswomen of color — Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York , Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan — should “go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came.” The House voted on Tuesday to condemn Trump’s tweets, but on Wednesday blocked a proposal to impeach Trump. The votes put the 435 members on the spot — would more conservative House Democrats join with their liberal colleagues in taking on the president, and would any Republicans break with Trump? Here’s what we learned from the two votes…

      • Post-Bouteflika Algeria: For a Democratic Transition

        In Algeria, the slogan Yatnahaw ga’, “that they all blow off”, sums up the widely shared popular will to put an end to the “Bouteflika system”. It is a question of setting in motion a process of transition to a Second Republic.

        In homage to Ramzi Yettou, a victim of repression who died at the age of 23, on Friday 19 April, of internal hemorrhage and head injuries after being beaten by the police during the big march on Friday 12 April. He is the second martyr since the beginning of the movement on 22 February after Hassan Benkhadda, son of Youcef Benkhedda, a great figure of nationalism and the anti-colonial Algerian revolution, who died on 1 March during a demonstration in Algiers in circumstances that have not yet been clarified. The online news media TSA (Tout sur l’Algérie) reminds us that “Hassan Benkhedda was also the nephew of the martyr Mohamed Al Ghazali Al Hafaf, the first to wave the Algerian flag on May 1, 1945, before being brutally killed by the French army”.

        The words of the singer, musician, singer-songwriter and poet Kabyle Lounès Matoub, assassinated on 25 June 1998, have resonated, in consonance, in a different light since the insurrection of consciences in Algeria: “I do not expect anything from a corrupt power. And I expect nothing from the fundamentalist alternative. I do not expect anything from a power discredited by the entire population. The popular maturity exceeds the governmental maturity in our country. These murderers must appear before the courts. I am only a poet who has witnessed my time.”

      • ‘Journalism Is Helping to Normalize the Concentration Camps’ – CounterSpin interview with Arun Gupta on immigrationabuses

        The horrific treatment inflicted intentionally by the state on people legally seeking asylum at the US southern border is not happening under cover of darkness. There has been powerful, brave journalism, bringing harrowing stories and images of the cruel conditions inside the concentration camps to light, some even detailing how hard the Trump administration is working to keep us from seeing what’s happening, or caring about it.

        But connecting outrage and heartsickness to transformative action is an unfamiliar exercise for many Americans, in part because of elite media’s deliberate and invidious distinction between citizens (good) and activists (bad)—and, even more, their constant reassurance that ultimately, the system works.

        As conversations devolve into rhetoric about whether this is really what America stands for, maybe it isn’t only the country’s history of atrocities that media could usefully remind us of, but its history of response to atrocities.

      • Brenda Choresi Carter on the Electability Myth, Lawrence Glickman on Racism & Euphemism

        There’s a vigorous public argument right now—mainly among Democrats, along with some IRBF’s, the Inexplicable Republican Best Friends to whom elite media offer op-ed space to offer assuredly good-faith counsel to Democrats — about “electability.” The upshot for many seems to be that to beat Trump, Democrats should run someone as much like him as possible, and must on no account run a “nontraditional” candidate, no matter how excited people are about them. It’s very “Fears Not Hopes” — and is it even true? A new data-driven study says no, actually; white men are not inherently more “electable” than women or people of color. We’ll talk about the Electability Myth with Brenda Choresi Carter, director of the Reflective Democracy Campaign.

      • ACTION ALERT: CNN Should Treat Left and Right Alike in Presidential Debates

        CNN is hosting the next Democratic primary debates on July 30 and 31. Three people have been selected to ask questions: CNN anchors Jake Tapper and Don Lemon, and CNN correspondent Dana Bash.

        In the last presidential elections, the first Republican primary debate CNN hosted likewise featured three questioners: Tapper, Bash—and right-wing radio host Hugh Hewitt, of the conservative Christian Salem Radio Network.

        Hewitt’s presence wasn’t a one-time thing, either. He asked questions alongside CNN journalists for each of the four GOP debates CNN hosted; Salem was its official media partner, as part of a deal brokered with the RNC. The conservative Washington Times‘ Stephen Dinan also made an appearance in the March 2016 CNN debate.

        But—funny thing—when CNN hosted Democratic primary debates, it didn’t partner with any left-wing media. Its partner for the first debate was tech giant Facebook—a current target of the Warren and Sanders campaigns—while NY1 joined for the third debate. (The second featured no media partner.) The Facebook partnership brought no additional moderator into the debate; instead, CNN read aloud some questions viewers had submitted via Facebook. For the third debate, held in New York City, local NY1 journalist Errol Louis participated.

      • ‘This Is Designed to Shape the Electorate to Retain Political Power’ – CounterSpin interview with Steven Rosenfeld on gerrymandering

        Partisan gerrymandering, in which one party manipulates voting district maps to increase its power, is “incompatible with democratic principles.” So declared Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts—but he and the Court’s conservative majority nevertheless ruled it’s a “political” matter, and not one for federal courts to consider.

        Elena Kagan, in dissent from the ruling, Rucho v. Common Cause, wrote, “Of all times to abandon the Court’s duty to declare the law, this was not the one.”

        Our guest says this ruling is just a part of a “power play,” employed overwhelmingly by Republicans, that seeks to narrow the metrics that determine how political power is allocated in the US political system. In other words, to suppress not just the political participation of, overwhelmingly, people of color, but the connection between participation and power.

      • For NYT, Inconvenient Facts Equal ‘Russian-Style Disinformation’

        School’s out for summer, and corporate media are eager to enter their junior year of the Russiagate conspiracy, despite its utter obliteration by Robert Mueller in April. Perhaps some journalists have taken to heart the tips several Russiagate skeptics offered to the media via FAIR on how to avoid further erosion of their credibility, but the New York Times’ June 29 exclusive is a sign that not all in the media are ready to let go of Russophobic concern-trolling about Putin “sowing discord” amongst the left with “disinformation.”

        This time, however, the sneaky culprit isn’t Russian. His tactics are merely “Russian-style.”

        In “Trump Consultant Is Trolling Democrats With Biden Site That Isn’t Biden’s,” the Times revealed that Patrick Mauldin, a Trump re-election media consultant and founder of the Republican consulting firm Vici Media Group, was the independent creator of the parody Joe Biden 2020 campaign website JoeBiden.info, which appeared as one of the first results on various iterations of Google searches for the presidential hopeful—though sometimes below a paid ad for Biden’s legitimate site. Prior to the Times story, the owner of the website, which states at the bottom that it is “political commentary and parody of Joe Biden’s presidential campaign website,” was anonymous.

      • EPIC Files Closing Arguments for Release of Complete Mueller Report

        EPIC has filed its closing brief in EPIC v. Department of Justice, EPIC’s case for the release of the complete and unredacted Mueller Report. EPIC warned the Court that “details about ongoing vulnerabilities in the US election system remain hidden from public view. The roles of well-known public officials and public figures in an effort by a foreign government to change the outcome of a US Presidential election are still kept behind a shroud of secrecy.”

    • Censorship/Free Speech

      • Tech Reporter’s Breaking Stories May Have Cost Him His Job

        Three years after tech reporter Christopher Calnan was terminated from the Austin Business Journal, he received threats from its parent company for the same reason he was hired and praised for in the first place: his ability to cover breaking news about the powerful Austin-based Dell Technologies Inc.

        “They recruited me because they were having a hard time getting any real, breaking news at all,” Calnan said. “Even in the interview, they asked me if I could break anything on the company, because Dell was the big company in Austin.”

        Calnan had worked for the American City Business Journals (ACBJ)—a company that runs 43 local business news outlets across the country—for 11 years, and was recruited to the Austin Business Journal (ABJ) after three years of covering technology at ACBJ’s Boston-based Mass High-Tech.

      • To Media, No Democrat Can Possibly Be Right-Wing

        The 2020 presidential candidacy race is in full (absurdly early) swing, and there is a clear and obvious internal battle currently raging for the soul of the Democratic Party. One faction is attempting to pull the party in a more populist, social-democratic direction, while another favors maintaining a neoliberal, pro-business course.

        We all know the most prominent members of the first group: The likes of presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders and freshmen representatives like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, Rashida Tlaib and Ayanna Pressley are constantly referred to (accurately) as representing the left of the party (e.g., New York Post, 7/9/19; New York Times, 4/10/19; New Yorker, 6/18/19), but also as a cabal of “extremist” (Atlantic, 4/3/19; The Hill, 6/17/19), “far-left” revolutionaries (CNN, 7/7/19; CNBC, 7/5/19) who have “contempt” for Americans (Fox News, 7/11/19). Given the broad overlap of their political positions with those of the public at large (FAIR.org, 1/23/19), those labels, popular as they are in the media, are pretty dubious.

      • Social Media, Crafters, Gamers and the Online Censorship Debate

        Much of the debate revolves around Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act of 1996, the common name for Title V of the Telecommunications Act of 1996. As part of a landmark piece of Internet legislation in the United States, it provides immunity from liability for providers and users of an “interactive computer service” that publishes information provided by third-party users.

        The law basically says that those who host or republish speech are not legally responsible for what others say and do. That includes not only Internet service providers (ISPs) such as Comcast or Verizon, but also any services that publish third-party content, which would include the likes of Facebook and Ravelry.

        One of Section 230′s authors, Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., has countered that the law was intended to make sure that companies could moderate their respective websites without fear of lawsuits.

    • Privacy/Surveillance

      • FaceApp Might Have Your Picture. Facebook and Google Have a Lot More

        I’m sure some privacy-minded people will object to this sort of defeatism. Yes, people can take some responsibility for their privacy. As in, maybe do some background googling before downloading an app from a company that you’ve never heard of? But more likely, people will just embrace the post-privacy dystopia. If regulators won’t police the most obvious targets, Apple, Google and Facebook (which has even called for regulations!), I guess the Russians can enjoy looking at our smiling, naïve faces.

      • This App Lets Your Instagram Followers Track Your Location

        Once installed, Who’s in Town pulls post data for the people you follow dating back to the creation of each user’s account, and the geotags from stories posted that day. Since Instagram stories (and any geotags contained within them) disappear after 24 hours, older stories won’t be displayed on the map; however, the longer you have the app installed, the more detailed the map gets, as it slurps up data from every subsequent geotagged Instagram story shared by your friends.

      • Think FaceApp Is Scary? Wait Till You Hear About Facebook

        All for the better, or at least on those last two points. You should ask questions about FaceApp. You should be extremely cautious about what data you choose to share with it, especially something as personal as a photo of your face. But the idea that FaceApp is somehow exceptionally dangerous threatens to obscure the real point: All apps deserve this level of scrutiny—including, and especially, the ones you use the most.

      • Public Records Request Nets User’s Manual For Palantir’s Souped-Up Surveillance Software

        Palantir is the 800-pound gorilla of data analytics. It has created a massive surveillance apparatus that pulls info from multiple sources to give law enforcement convenient places to dip into the data stream. Law enforcement databases may focus on criminals, but Palantir’s efforts focus on everyone. Whatever can be collected is collected. Palantir provides both the data and the front end, making it easy for government agencies to not only track criminal suspects, but everyone they’ve ever associated with.

        Palantir is big. But being the biggest player in the market doesn’t exactly encourage quality work or accountability. Multiple problems have already been noticed by the company’s numerous law enforcement customers — including the company’s apparent inability to responsibly handle data — but complaints from agencies tied into multi-year contracts are pretty easy to ignore. Palantir says it provides “actionable data.” Sounds pretty cool, but in practice this means things like cops firing guns at innocent people because the software spat out faulty suspect/vehicle descriptions.

        Agencies must see the value in Palantir’s products because few seem willing to ditch these data analytics packages. The company does a fairly good job dropping a usable interface on top of its data haystacks. It sells well. And it’s proprietary, which means Palantir can get into the policing business without actually having to engage in the accountability and openness expected of government agencies.

        Fortunately for the public, government agencies still have to respond to public records requests — even if the documents sought detail private vendors’ offerings. Vice has obtained part of a user’s manual for Palantir Gotham, which is used by a number of state and federal agencies. This software appears to be used by “fusion centers,” the DHS-created abominations that do serious damage to civil liberties but produce very little usable intelligence.

      • Don’t Let Encrypted Messaging Become a Hollow Promise

        Why do we care about encryption? Why was it a big deal, at least in theory, when Mark Zuckerberg announced earlier this year that Facebook would move to end-to-end encryption on all three of its messaging platforms? We don’t just support encryption for its own sake. We fight for it because encryption is one of the most powerful tools individuals have for maintaining their digital privacy and security in an increasingly insecure world.

        And although encryption may be the backbone, it’s important to recognize that protecting digital security and privacy encompasses much more; it’s also about additional technical features and policy choices that support the privacy and security goals that encryption enables.

        But as we careen from one attack on encryption after another by governments from Australia to India to Singapore to Kazakhstan, we risk losing sight of this bigger picture. Even if encryption advocates could “win” this seemingly forever crypto war, it would be a hollow victory if it came at the expense of broader security. Some efforts—a recent proposal from Germany comes to mind—are as hamfisted as ever, attempting to give government the power to demand the plaintext of any encrypted message. But others, like the GCHQ’s “Ghost” proposal, purport to give governments the ability to listen in on end-to-end encrypted communications without “weakening encryption or defeating the end-to-end nature of the service.” And, relevant to Facebook’s announcement, we’ve seen suggestions that providers could still find ways of filtering or blocking certain content, even when it is encrypted with a key the provider doesn’t hold.

    • Freedom of Information/Freedom of the Press

      • Scottish National Party supports the witch-hunting of Julian Assange

        The few comments made by Scottish National Party (SNP) representatives on the hounding and torture of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange make clear the party supports his arrest, jailing and extradition.
        So hostile is the SNP to Assange that on the day he was illegally seized from the Ecuadoran Embassy—in defiance of the right of asylum and after years of incarceration—SNP chief whip in Westminster, Patrick Grady, was praised by the Conservative government Home Secretary Sajid Javid for his helpful comments.
        During the April 11 Westminster debate Grady, the MP for Glasgow North, welcomed Assange’s arrest.
        “It is right that nobody is above the law, and in many ways today’s actions mean that at least one kind of deadlock has been broken,” he said, before cynically adding, “[W]hich is perhaps important, at least from a health and wellbeing point of view.”

      • WikiLeaks Editor Kristinn Hrafnsson, Michael Isikoff, Pepe Escobar, As’ad AbuKhalil on CN Live!

        Hrafnsson joined CNLive! to speak on the latest about imprisoned WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange, including CNN’s recent hit piece; Isikoff discussed his Yahoo! News series on Seth Rich; Escobar gave keen insights into the major scandal engulfing Brazil as well as his observations of Italy after his recent trip there; AbuKhalil dissected Middle East politics and war and Szamuely commented on the lot with hosts Elizabeth Vos and Joe Lauria on CN Live!

      • Assange drops appeal of 50-week sentence for jumping bail

        Court officials said Thursday that a hearing on the appeal set for next week had been cancelled.

        Assange is jailed in London’s Belmarsh Prison at the same time as he fights extradition to the United States on serious espionage charges.

      • Leaks Are Changing How Diplomats Talk

        “Every one is agreed that he is a man of his word,” the British diplomatic telegram reads, referring to the American president, “and the only man who counts in the Administration,” before going on to outline how the White House has “by its own mistakes, got itself into a difficult position” and that if London could “do any thing to help the President, he will be most appreciative.”

        The message is not, however, one sent by Kim Darroch, the outgoing British ambassador to Washington, D.C., nor any recent predecessor. It was dispatched by William Tyrrell, a senior official in Britain’s Foreign Office, on November 14, 1913, shortly after meeting with President Woodrow Wilson. The cable, now held at Britain’s National Archives, symbolizes a markedly different moment in Anglo-American relations, which in the century since has seen the United States supplant Britain as the preeminent world power.

        Yet the message also carries a different symbolism—one housed in the mode of communication being used, not dissimilar to that which led to Darroch’s eventual resignation. The Tyrrell message hearkens back to an era in which diplomats the world over trusted the diplomatic telegram, and used it to convey all manner of messages, from reporting of local events to more mundane considerations (in one letter to Tyrrell, sent in March 1913, the author remarks on how he was writing from the Indian city of Dehra Dun where he had decamped “for a month’s peace and quiet.”)

    • Civil Rights/Policing

      • Danish Crime Round-Up: Violence on the rise, thefts in decline

        Three officers last night pulled out their guns last night in the Copenhagen suburb of Tingbjerg where Stram Kurs leader Rasmus Paludan was making a video. The officers were responding to the appearance of three men running towards the Koran-burning politician, who narrowly missed out on getting elected to Parliament in June. The armed officers urged the men to stop whilst evacuating Paludan from the scene. Paludan told media the men were masked.

      • Yazidi woman who won Nobel Prize pleads with Trump to help her people

        “And today we have 3,000 Yazidi women and children in captivity. So although they said ISIS is defeated, but where is those 3,000 Yazidi?” she said. “And our home is destroyed.”

      • Why Half a Million Puerto Ricans Are Protesting in the Streets

        The demonstrations have, as is typical, been almost entirely peaceful, with throngs of people singing and dancing to impromptu invocations of pleneros (the folkloric, storytelling genre of plena has been an ineluctable presence for years at Puerto Rico protests) and generally hanging out on streets. But the ugly specter of aggressive police violence, featuring the long-loathed fuerza de choque (riot squad), became visible on both Monday and Wednesday nights.

      • Books at private Islamic school promoted extremism

        The report says that inspectors found books with extremist content in the school library, with one book setting out a series of aims that included “To help the Taliban government in the accomplishment of enforcement of Shari’ah in Afghanistan” and “To struggle for the creation of Islamic states in which the Islamic canons will enforced practically [sic].”

        On the front page of this book were the words “Don’t make the Jews and the Christians your friends.”

      • Mozambique Passes Law to End Child Marriage

        Mozambique’s national assembly took an important step toward ending the country’s sky-high rate of child marriage by unanimously adopting a law banning the practice. The new law prohibits marriage of children younger than 18 years old, without exception, and awaits the president’s signature to go into effect.

        Mozambique has one of the highest rates of child marriage in the world, with almost half of girls marrying before 18, and 1 in 10 before their fifteenth birthday. Child marriage often pushes girls out of school and condemns them to a life of poverty. It leaves them vulnerable to physical and sexual abuse and early pregnancies, which can cause lasting harm and even death.

      • Thousands of U.S. Citizens Have Been Mistakenly Detained or Deported

        We are law professors who have studied civil litigation involving citizenship disputes and thousands of cases involving citizens caught up in immigration cases.

        That includes the U.S. citizens who have been accidentally swept up in the government’s immigration enforcement efforts since the mid-19th century. In many cases, they have been detained and even deported.

      • Reports emerge of charges against father in widely watched Khachaturyan case; lawyers of abused daughters say otherwise

        Maria, Angelina, and Krestina Khachaturyan were arrested in July of 2018 for killing their father, Mikhail Khachaturyan, who they said had tortured and sexually abused them for years. The murder case against the two eldest Khachaturan sisters has since become a matter of very public importance in Russia, with the young women’s attorneys demanding the right to a self-defense case and a separate, posthumous criminal case against the women’s father.

      • Life Among the Rubble: Mosul 18 Months after “Liberation”

        Mosul is a city in Iraqi Kurdistan with a population of 1.3 million; 60% of whom are Sunni Arabs, around 25% of whom are Kurds. Ongoing drought has brought Mosul to the attention of Western media, as receding water levels at Kemune reservoir reveals the ruin of a 3,400 year-old palace. Researchers from the University of Tübingen and the Kurdistan Archaeology Organization reckon that the palace was part of the Mittani Empire (circa 1450-1350 BCE). According to one archaeological history, “[Mittani’s] end as independent realm can be dated to the time of Hittite king Šuppiluliuma I in the middle of the 14th century BC.”

        Echoes of the conquests and rivalry of the ancient past haunt both recent history and the present. The so-called Mosul Question was a territorial dispute in the early-20th century between the British and Ottoman empires, with both parties wanting a share of the region’s oil. In the latter-part of the 20th century, Iraq’s one-time US-British-backed dictator Saddam Hussein launched the Anfal genocide against Kurds who have historic and ongoing links to the region. A couple of years ago, the US-approved leaders of the central Iraqi government and the regional Kurdish authorities squabbled over control of Mosul, anticipating that Daesh would be defeated.

      • History Holds the Antidote to Trump’s Fascist Politics

        America is in a state of crisis that touches every aspect of public life, extending from a crisis of economics produced by massive inequality to a crisis of ideas, agency, memory and politics, aided and abetted by controlling apparatuses that induce ubiquitous forms of historical amnesia. We are in a new historical period, one in which everything is transformed and corrupted by the neoliberal tools of financialization, deregulation and austerity. Within this new nexus of power, anti-democratic principles have become normalized, weakening society’s democratic defenses. Egregious degrees of exploitation and unchecked militarism are now matched by a politics of disposability and terminal exclusion, in which human beings are viewed as the embodiment of human waste, reinforced, if not propelled, by an ethos of white nationalism and white supremacy. As historian Paul Gilroy has noted, the motion of history and the production of politics are now being read “through racialized categories.”

        Fascist principles, or one version of what journalist Natasha Lennard calls microfascism, now operate at so many levels of everyday society that it is difficult to recognize them, especially as they have the imprimatur of the president of the United States. Fascist practices and desires work through diverse social media platforms and mainstream and right-wing cultural apparatuses in multiple ways. They largely function ideologically and politically to objectify people, promote spectacles of violence, endorse consumerism as the only viable way of life, legitimate a murderous nationalism, construct psychological borders in people’s minds in order to privilege certain groups, promote mindlessness through the ubiquity of celebrity culture, normalize the discourse of hate in everyday exchanges, and produce endless “practices of authoritarianism and domination and exploitation that form us.” In the fog of social and historical amnesia, moral boundaries disappear, people become more accepting of extreme acts of cruelty and the propaganda machines that create alternative thoughts, and view any viable critique of power as fake news, all the while disconnecting toxic language and policies from their social costs.

      • Arun Gupta on No More Camps!, Zoe Carpenter on Oregon Power Grab

        When a government is holding people who have committed no crime in camps that Holocaust survivors describe as “concentration camps,” do you, as a media outlet, host dialog about how to put a stop to it—or about how there’s a debate about immigration policy in which there are many legitimate positions, one of which, maybe, is the concentration camp position?

        We’ll talk about that with journalist Arun Gupta, one of the organizers behind the NoMoreCamps! campaign.

      • Digital Jail: How Electronic Monitoring Drives Defendants Into Debt

        On Oct. 12, 2018, Daehaun White walked free, or so he thought. A guard handed him shoelaces and the $19 that had been in his pocket at the time of his booking, along with a letter from his public defender. The lanky 19-year-old had been sitting for almost a month in St. Louis’ Medium Security Institution, a city jail known as the Workhouse, after being pulled over for driving some friends around in a stolen Chevy Cavalier. When the police charged him with tampering with a motor vehicle — driving a car without its owner’s consent — and held him overnight, he assumed he would be released by morning. He told the police that he hadn’t known that the Chevy, which a friend had lent him a few hours earlier, was stolen. He had no previous convictions. But the $1,500 he needed for the bond was far beyond what he or his family could afford. It wasn’t until his public defender, Erika Wurst, persuaded the judge to lower the amount to $500 cash, and a nonprofit fund, the Bail Project, paid it for him, that he was able to leave the notoriously grim jail. “Once they said I was getting released, I was so excited I stopped listening,” he told me recently. He would no longer have to drink water blackened with mold or share a cell with rats, mice and cockroaches. He did a round of victory pushups and gave away all of the snack cakes he had been saving from the cafeteria.When he finally read Wurst’s letter, however, he realized there was a catch. Even though Wurst had argued against it, the judge, Nicole Colbert-Botchway, had ordered him to wear an ankle monitor that would track his location at every moment using GPS. For as long as he would wear it, he would be required to pay $10 a day to a private company, Eastern Missouri Alternative Sentencing Services, or EMASS. Just to get the monitor attached, he would have to report to EMASS and pay $300 up front — enough to cover the first 25 days, plus a $50 installation fee.

        White didn’t know how to find that kind of money. Before his arrest, he was earning minimum wage as a temp, wrapping up boxes of shampoo. His father was largely absent, and his mother, Lakisha Thompson, had recently lost her job as the housekeeping manager at a Holiday Inn. Raising Daehaun and his four siblings, she had struggled to keep up with the bills. The family bounced between houses and apartments in northern St. Louis County, where, as a result of Jim Crow redlining, most of the area’s black population lives. In 2014, they were living on Canfield Drive in Ferguson when Michael Brown was shot and killed there by a police officer. During the ensuing turmoil, Thompson moved the family to Green Bay, Wisconsin. White felt out of place. He was looked down on for his sagging pants, called the N-word when riding his bike. After six months, he moved back to St. Louis County on his own to live with three of his siblings and stepsiblings in a gray house with vinyl siding.

      • America First and Diverse

        A solution to the border crisis is impossible without a comprehensive overhaul of the immigration system. Thomas Friedman suggested what one might look like after his onsite inspection of the San Ysidro border with Tijuana recently. Arguing against the random and chaotic system we have now, he pledged support for a “high wall” but also a “big gate,” insisting we must find a way to efficiently absorb those who will bring the skills and knowhow to strengthen our nation. Perhaps realizing this will constitute a sizable pool, he endorses aid to the countries where the bulk of migrants are coming from to stabilize their societies, as well as a revamped court system that can fairly process deserving asylum seekers (Thomas Friedman, New York Times, 4/23/19).

        Getting tough on entry, like most other nations, while continuing the legacy of welcoming immigrants began soon after the country’s inception, is a kinder and gentler approach to exclusion than Trump’s “America First” vision, which translates to a quite brutal practice, and a rebuke to the America Diverse vision from many Democrats that invites virtually all comers, whether applicants for citizenship or escapees from unstable environments. Given Trump’s views on abortion he would perhaps be best served by going along with these Democrats and let large families of pro-life billboards spread through the hinterlands.

        Friedman offers a passable general outline of a “solution.” Unfortunately, there’s no political will in Congress to act. The last major piece of legislation was passed in the Reagan administration. President Obama urged Congress to act early in his first term but was forced to settle for DACA, his 2012 executive action. Trump’s efforts to cancel this initiative through executive actions have spearheaded his aggressive campaign which is ironically not all that different than Obama’s in terms of the numbers of people deported, but the issue of treatment and family separation is another matter.

      • This Land Was Your Land

        For the past 10 years I’ve been documenting the fate of the least protected and most at-risk portion of the national commons: the roughly 450 million acres across 12 Western states overseen on our behalf by the United States Bureau of Land Management and the United States Forest Service.

        It’s an astonishingly diverse landscape of grasslands, steppe, mountains, deserts, forests, rivers and watersheds — places of beauty and wildness that Woody Guthrie once sang about, where no one person, or institution or corporation, is supposed to be privileged above the other.

        Both the B.L.M. and the Forest Service operate with a congressional mandate for what’s called “multiple use” management. On paper, multiple use means exploiting the land for its resources in a way that maintains ecosystem health.

        In practice, it long amounted to what William O. Douglas, a backpacker, outdoorsman and the longest-serving Supreme Court justice, described in 1961 as “semantics for making cattlemen, sheepmen, lumbermen, miners the main beneficiaries.”

      • UK rules out judicial inquiry into country’s involvement in torture post-9/11

        British parliamentarians and NGOs reacted with outrage on Thursday when the government ruled out a judge-led inquiry into the country’s involvement in the torture and rendition of terrorism suspects in the years after 9/11.

        The announcement was made a year after a limited parliamentary inquiry found that UK government ministers and intelligence agencies had been involved in serious human rights abuses on more than 500 occasions between 2001 and 2010.

      • Media outlets silence Assange torture report – the end of free journalism?

        In the end it finally dawned on me that I had been blinded by propaganda, and that Assange had been systematically slandered to divert attention from the crimes he exposed.

        Melzer says the purposefulness and scale of the campaign against Assange elevated it from mere slander or even state persecution to full-fledged psychological torture in his eyes.

    • Monopolies

      • Tinder is now bypassing the Play Store on Android to avoid Google’s 30 percent cut

        The move is similar to one made by popular video game developer Epic Games, which last year released the Android version of battle royale hit Fortnite via its own downloadable launcher to avoid the 30 percent cut. Notably, Tinder is Match Group’s most profitable entity, and between its subscription services and other in-app purchase options like paying for the ability to know when someone has read your message, the software is often one of the highest grossing free apps on both iOS and Android.

      • Tinder Bypasses Google Play Joining Revolt Against App Store Fee

        The online dating site launched a new default payment process that skips Google Play and forces users to enter their credit card details straight into Tinder’s app, according to new research by Macquarie analyst Ben Schachter. Once a user has entered their payment information, the app not only remembers it, but also removes the choice to swap back to Google Play for future purchases, he wrote.

      • Unlawful Use of Flavor

        The legal claims in this case are interesting and could form a Mountain Dew commercial — unlawful use of flavor. To be clear, the case is not about actual flavors, but instead enhancing the “perceived taste” of orange juice and other beverages by adding an aroma in scratch-n-sniff form to a bottle-lid closure. A “fresh aroma that replicates or evokes memory of the expected flavor” is released by the abrasive force of twisting off the bottle-cap.

        [...]

        A controversial aspect of the decision was the notion that ScentSational’s failure to prove particular damages should result in dismissal of the entire case (since damages are not an element of the trade secret or breach claims). The appellate panel held that ScentSational’s claim to nominal damages had been waived and “In any event, we have held that we will ordinarily not remand a case merely to determine whether nominal damages would have been appropriate.”

        Following the May 2019 decision, ScentSational petitioned for rehearing arguing that the court misunderstood a number of facts in dispute and also “that while a plaintiff must prove the existence of damages with certainty in order to recover, plaintiff need not prove the amount of loss with certainty.” In a recent order, however, the Federal Circuit has denied rehearing — effectively ending ScentSational’s case.

      • EU Competition Authorities Fine Qualcomm While DoJ Says “No Problem”

        Yesterday, EU Commissioner for Competition Margarete Vestager announced the Commission’s decision to fine Qualcomm for using pricing and contract terms to force a rival out of the market. This fine follows another EU fine issued last year for Qualcomm’s use of exclusivity payments to avoid competition.

        If that sounds familiar, it’s because earlier this year, Judge Lucy Koh of the Northern District of California found that Qualcomm had violated U.S. antitrust laws—in part, because of its use of exclusivity payments and contract terms to harm rivals.

        There is one competition regulator who’s out of step with the global consensus on Qualcomm’s anti-competitive conduct. That’s the U.S. Department of Justice’s antitrust division—led by Makan Delrahim, who formerly lobbied for Qualcomm. As a result, the Chair of the House Judiciary Committee Antitrust Subcommittee, Rep. David Cicilline, has raised questions about Delrahim’s participation in Qualcomm matters and the ‘neat mapping’ of Delrahim’s publicly stated views to the DOJ’s position in the Qualcomm case.

        In a completely unprecedented move, DOJ has filed statements in the FTC’s case arguing against the FTC’s claims that Qualcomm has violated antitrust law. (DOJ’s attempts to interfere with the FTC’s case are not only unprecedented, but also ignore prevailing case law.)

      • Trademarks

        • Gibson Guitar Formalizes Its Hands-Off IP Enforcement Approach With Authorized Partnership Program

          As I mentioned when we recently discussed Dean Guitars’ pushback and counter-suit against Gibson Guitar’s trademark lawsuit, Gibson CEO James Curleigh’s vague declaration of a relaxed position on IP enforcement has calcified into something of an official corporate program. It’s not all bad, but it’s not all good either.

          We’ll start with the good. Gibson has decided to recognize that there are fans inspired by its designs who want to create their own guitars and even sell them on occasion. In recognition of this, Gibson is starting an “authorized partnership” program to allow those creators to build guitars without fear of legal threat.

          [...]

          These types of subtle changes can indeed have outsized effects, but it’s all in the follow through. Again, this is for sure a step in a positive direction for Gibson, which has traditionally been very protective of its perceived IP. What remains to be seen is if this is really the cultural change Curleigh promised.

      • Copyrights

        • Very Confused Judge Allows Bizarre Copyright Lawsuit Against Cloudflare To Continue

          In the past, law professor Eric Goldman has suggested that when it comes to infringing content, courts have an uncanny ability to ignore the actual law, and make up their own rules in response to the belief that “infringement bad!” An ongoing lawsuit against Cloudflare seems to be a case in point. As covered by TorrentFreak, a judge has allowed a case against Cloudflare to move forward. However, in doing so, it seems clear that the judge is literally ignoring what the law says.

          The case itself is… odd. In the complaint, two makers of bridal dresses are upset about the sale of counterfeits. Now, if we’re talking about counterfeits, you’ll probably think that this is a trademark lawsuit. But, no, Mon Cheri Bridals and Maggie Sottero Designs are trying to make a copyright case out of this, because they’re arguing that sites selling counterfeits are using their copyright-protected photos to do so. And Cloudflare is, apparently, providing CDN services to these sites that are selling counterfeit dresses using allegedly infringing photographs. It is odd to go after Cloudflare. It is not the company selling counterfeit dresses. It is not the company hosting the websites of those selling counterfeit dresses. It is providing CDN services to them. This is like suing AT&T for providing phone service to a counterfeit mail order operation. But that’s what’s happening.

        • UK ISPs Stop Sending Copyright Infringement Notices

          For more than two years, major UK ISPs have been sending out copyright infringement notices to subscribers caught sharing content using BitTorrent. The voluntary scheme, run by rightsholders, had ambitions to educate ‘pirates’ to buy from legitimate sources. TorrentFreak can today confirm that ISPs have stopped forwarding notices after the program was terminated by the movie and music companies.

Companies That Collapse Because the European Patent Office (EPO) Gave Them Fake Patents in a Hurry

Posted in Europe, Patents at 7:28 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

When you’re being granted a monopoly that later turns out to have been invalid all along

Hurry

Summary: False hopes and false promises won’t do any favours to European Patents, whose legal certainty suffers because Campinos and Battistelli measure nothing but ‘production’ (quantity) rather than quality of patents

THE European Patent Office (EPO) cannot carry on pretending that it values patent quality. On Friday night we wrote about decline in patent quality and around the same time came out this report entitled “Here’s Why Pacific Biosciences Is Tumbling Today” from Microsoft’s network (Motley Fool). In short, it happened because the EPO had granted a fake patent; we saw similar stories before (see last year’s A Danish Company Has Just Collapsed Due to Patent Quality Issues at the EPO). As long as the EPO keeps granting software patents and patents on life/nature oppositions will come and courts will shoot down European Patents, discrediting the very concept of such patents.

The latest:

Shares of Pacific Biosciences (NASDAQ:PACB) fell over 14% today as investors grappled with more bad news for long-read DNA sequencing power. The latest twist comes courtesy of the European Patent Office (EPO), which revoked a second patent for the company pertaining to its ability to read long, uninterrupted strands of DNA with its machines. More specifically, the EPO found that the patent in question made too broad a claim to “single molecule sequencing,” which is central to the company’s entire technology platform.

A shrinking patent portfolio isn’t ideal, but it’s compounded by recent news from the United Kingdom’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA). The trade body has referred the company’s pending acquisition by Illumina (NASDAQ:ILMN) for an in-depth investigation after the parties failed to address the CMA’s concerns raised from an initial inquiry that began in April, as first reported by The Motley Fool. Turns out both the patent dispute and the antitrust investigation have a similar root cause: Oxford Nanopore, a start-up based in the United Kingdom.

We’re going to see more and more stories like that. If not for the oppositions and appeal boards, it will be actual courts (outside EPOnia and Haar, which is technically outside of EPOnia in overt violation of the EPC) deeming such patents invalid. Over the past few months, more so than the past few years, we’ve seen examples of this every week. We shall cover such examples (that become known to us) and repeatedly stress the need for quality.

“It’s like there’s a very deliberate ‘blackout’ and key platforms that used to criticise the EPO are nowadays very much complicit.”Last month we covered the EPO’s “Collaborative Quality Improvements” (CQI), formerly known as “Team Collaboration Project” (it’s the opposite of the name). Notice how no European media, not even so-called ‘IP’ blogs, touched the subject. It’s like there’s a very deliberate ‘blackout’ and key platforms that used to criticise the EPO are nowadays very much complicit.

Slack Committed a Very Major Crime That Can Cost Many Billions If Not Trillions in Damages for Years to Come

Posted in Security at 5:32 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Bankruptcy must follow, maybe arrests as well (the company’s logo gives away the company’s real worth and values)

Slack's new logo is a penis swastika

Summary: The inevitable has happened to Slack, which no longer deserves to exist as a company; moreover, the people who ran the company must be held criminally accountable

TO say that Slack got merely “compromised” would be the understatement of the decade. Yes, it did in fact get compromised, but it’s a lot worse. It’s far worse than a compromise per se. We’re going to explain, starting with the basics.

Slack is malware. Not just the ‘app’. Their Web site hardly works with any Web browser – they want the very worst and privacy-hostile browsers to be used for extraction of data. It’s a resource hog because it’s malware disguised as an IRC ‘clone’.

“It’s a resource hog because it’s malware disguised as an IRC ‘clone’.”Slack the ‘app’ is literal malware. It follows you around if you install it on a phone. The browser side is also malicious, but it’s less capable of geographical/location tracking. They use it for data-mining. See the source code (page source at least). It’s malware. GDPR should be applicable here and we suspect that EU authorities have not assessed that aspect just yet.

Slack is not a communications platform but a data harvester with an interface that looks like a communications platform. What it is to users isn’t what it is to Slack, the company. The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) issued strongly-worded warnings about Slack and even Microsoft, the NSA back doors giant that kick-started PRISM, outright banned Slack for security reasons! Yes, Slack is really that bad. We won’t even call this ‘anticompetitive’ on Microsoft’s behalf; Microsoft does have a few engineers and they very well understand what Slack is and why it must be avoided. Even unqualified Microsoft hacks can understand that. Slack was always a ticking time bomb, which I warned about before, e.g. here in Tux Machines. I very much foresaw the latest disaster. I did all that I could to spread information about it, at the very least to ensure people are forewarned. Now I feel vindicated, but how much damage will be done for years if not decades to come? It’s difficult to assess or measure because it’s almost impossible to track the sources of rogue actors’ data.

“It’s the complete doomsday scenario, an equivalent of having one’s own Jabber server completely and totally hijacked, and all communications in it (names, passwords) stolen.”Slack did not have a mere ‘incident’. It was a CATASTROPHE! They knew about it for quite some time (at higher levels, too). It’s the complete doomsday scenario, an equivalent of having one’s own Jabber server completely and totally hijacked, and all communications in it (names, passwords) stolen. But in the case of Slack millions of businesses are affected. In one fell swoop. Just like that. Even the public sector. Military, hospitals, you name it…

Slack got totally ‘PWNED’, but they won’t admit that. They will lie about the extent of the damage, just like Yahoo and Equifax did (each time waiting months before revealing it was orders of magnitude worse). They game the news cycle that way. People must assume that all data is compromised. Everything! Slack sold everyone out and gave everything away. Even those who paid Slack (a small minority) were betrayed.

This is a major, major, MAJOR catastrophe. Businesses and their clients’ data is on Slack. Even HR stuff, which gets passed around in internal communications. Super-sensitive things like passwords, passports and so on.

Who was Slack data copied by? Mirrored or ‘stolen’, to put it another way? Possibly by rogue military actors that can leverage it for espionage and blackmail, as many do. Covertly. You rarely hear about blackmail because that’s just the nature of the blackmail. It happens silently. It’s like ‘hush money’.

Some would say Slack got “hacked” (they typically mean cracked). But it’s actually a lot worse than getting cracked! We’ll explain further…

About a month ago Slack got to its IPO milestone, the legendary capitalist pigs’ initial public offering (which one can reach even while making massive losses like Uber does). Big day for Slack! These people can pretend to be billionaires ‘on top of the world’. But they’re not. Especially as they’re not profitable at all and there’s no business model other than spying…

So for years these people consciously covered up this massive incident. Slack is therefore a criminal organisation. It must be shut down as a matter of law. These operations are illegal.

“Slack didn’t just “mess up”. It broke the law; yes, it committed an actual crime by not informing the customers.”To prevent the company from totally collapsing Slack lied to millions of people and businesses. That’s a fact. To save face…

So the only justice now would be federal and private lawsuits, forcing this company to shut down. Will anyone be arrested? Unlikely. White-collar crimes are ‘special’. No jail time (or rarely any, except as a symbolic token to the public, e.g. Madoff after the financial collapse more than a decade ago).

Slack didn’t just “mess up”. It broke the law; yes, it committed an actual crime by not informing the customers. They would change passwords etc. had they known. But Slack did not obey the law. It did not inform customers. It announced all this after the IPO, in order to make shareholders liable, and it did so late on a Friday (to minimise press coverage about this likely crime). The shareholders too should sue for concealment of critical information.

This is a very, very major scandal for Slack and if the company survives at the end, then it only means one thing: crime pays! Crime pays off. Just that. Because they committed a very major crime. Consciously. Now they need to hire PR people and lawyers. Maybe they can also bribe some journalists for puff pieces that belittle the severity of this mere ‘incident’.

As we said at the start, Slack is technically malware. Slack is surveillance. This is their business model, which isn’t even successful (so they will likely get more aggressive at spying or holding corporate data hostage in exchange for payments). For example, scrolling limits. This is like ransomware. It preys on businesses desperate to access their own data. They try to ‘monetise’ separating businesses from their data/infrastructure. It’s inherently unethical. It’s like a drug dealer’s business model/mindset.

“Companies may never know if past system breaches, identity thefts etc. were the fault of Slack.”Slack basically bet on being a ‘spy agency’ (without all the associated paperwork). And later they got cracked, passing all their surveillance ‘mine’ (trove) to even more rogue actors than the company itself. The Slack ‘incident’ doesn’t affect just Slack. Companies everywhere can now be held legally liable for having put their information on Slack servers. It’s an espionage chain. Centralisation’s doomsday in action…

Companies may never know if past system breaches, identity thefts etc. were the fault of Slack. It’s hard to prove that. But it’s guaranteed to have happened. Moreover, there are future legal ramifications.

Slack knew what had happened and why it waited all this time. This waiting makes the crime worse. This scandal can unfold for quite some time to come. The ramifications are immense! And we might not even know the full extent of these (ever). Privacy-centric competitors of Slack already capitalise on this very major scandal and use that to promote themselves; Keybase for instance…

It would be wise to move to locally-hosted FOSS. However, that would not in any way undo the damage of having uploaded piles of corporate data to Slack and their compromised servers.

Are managers at Slack criminally-liable? Probably. Just announcing this scandal after an IPO and late on a Friday when many people are on holiday won’t save Slack. They need to go bankrupt faster than the time period since their IPO. Anyone who still uses Slack must be masochistic.

“Just announcing this scandal after an IPO and late on a Friday when many people are on holiday won’t save Slack.”In the coming days many companies will come to realise that for years they tactlessly and irresponsibly gave piles of personal/corporate data to Slack and now a bunch of crackers around the world have this data.

“Trusting our data with one company isn’t feasible,” one person told me this morning. “The data lasts forever & we must expect that our worst enemies will have it or get it with small time delay. Otherwise encrypt everything which slows everything down & complicates everything making those “safe” uncompetitive.” That’s now how Slack works.

“These troves of Slack data are invaluable to those looking to use them to blackmail people, take over servers, discredit people, and generally cause complete chaos, even deaths.”We expect Slack to stonewall for a while, saying that it’s the weekend anyway. Slack lied to everyone for years. They’re a bunch of frauds. Anyone who now believes a single word that comes out of their mouths is a fool. They also committed a crime (punishable by law) with these lies. When it comes to Slack, expect what happened with Yahoo; First they say it’s a small incident; Months pass; Then they toss out a note to say it was actually big; A year later (when it’s “old news”): 3 BILLION accounts affected. Anyone who now believes the lies told by Slack’s PR people deserves a Darwin Award. These scammers lost millions/billions for years just pursuing an IPO (others bearing the losses); They lied, like frauds (like Donald Trump), just to get there (the IPO). Now, like Yahoo, they will downplay scope of impact. A lot of companies can suffer for years to come (e.g. data breaches, identity theft). These troves of Slack data are invaluable to those looking to use them to blackmail people, take over servers, discredit people, and generally cause complete chaos, even deaths. We’ll soon do a series of articles showing how Microsoft caused deaths at hospitals.

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