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07.22.20

Links 22/7/2020: More GNU/Linux Laptops Surface

Posted in News Roundup at 8:06 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

  • Leftovers

    • Tech And COVID-19: MLB Rolls Out Remote Cheering Function In Its MLB App

      As we continue navigating this new world full of COVID-19, mostly alone due to the laughably inept response from our national leadership, there’s a certain humor to the ongoing push for a “return to normalcy.” What makes it so funny is how completely clear it is that “normalcy” is going to be anything but normal. Go back to work, but wear a mask and stay the fuck away from your coworkers. Get your kids back to school, but maybe not, also masks, and remote learning, and they have to eat their lunch in their classrooms. Restaurants are open, but only outside, with less people, and there will be temperature checks.

    • Return and Enter Are Two Different Keys

      If your keyboard doesn’t have a dedicated Enter key, you can type the Enter key by pressing Fn-Return. That’s why some Return keys have “Enter” printed in small type above the word “Return”. If your keyboard has neither a dedicated Enter key nor an Fn modifier key, I don’t think you can type Enter.

      Return and Enter do usually perform the same action, but not always: [...]

    • New White Paper on China’s Full-Spectrum Information Operations

      Our white paper explores the impact of technological innovations on these established strategies and tactics, asking the question: what is the scope and nature of China’s overt and covert capabilities, and how do they complement one another? We evaluate China’s capabilities through three timely case studies: 1) Hong Kong’s 2019-2020 protests; 2) Taiwan’s January 2020 election; and 3) the COVID-19 pandemic. To understand how China’s abilities compare to those of other powers, we contrast China’s activities with Russia’s.

  • Education

    • Missouri Governor Insists Kids That Get COVID at School Will Just “Get Over It”

      Missouri Governor Mike Parson, a Republican, has a stark message for parents of schoolchildren who might be worried about the spread of coronavirus if schools reopen this fall: their kids will “get over it,” he said.

    • “I Love My Students. I Also Want to Live”: Teachers Demand Safety as Trump Pushes Schools to Reopen

      As President Trump continues to push for schools to reopen even as COVID-19 rates skyrocket in many states, teachers are revolting. “I love my students, and I know that the best place for them to learn is in classrooms where they can collaborate and collectively solve problems,” says Seattle high school teacher Jesse Hagopian. He says teachers recognize that online learning is not an adequate replacement for in-class education, “but I also want to live, and I also want my students to live.” We also speak with Jitu Brown, national director of the Journey for Justice Alliance, which published an open letter to President Trump outlining 14 demands that must be met before schools are reopened, including zero new positive COVID cases for 14 consecutive days.

    • We Can Reopen Schools if We Make the City the Classroom

      The start of the academic year is just weeks away, and the nationwide debate about reopening schools during the Covid-19 pandemic is still raging. The Trump administration has called full steam ahead and threatened to slash federal funding to districts that fail to follow suit. The rationale for reopening schools is rooted not in public health but in politics. President Trump wants parents to return to the workforce and resuscitate the economy to help him win reelection in November.

    • In African nations, it’s doubly hard for kids to distance-learn

      Although the pandemic has disrupted education across the globe, the schooling crisis is more acute in Africa, where up to 80% of students don’t have access to the [I]nternet and even electricity can be unreliable, making distance learning difficult, if not impossible. Schools also often provide a refuge to vulnerable children, offering services that their families cannot afford.

  • Hardware

    • [Attackers] Can Now Trick USB Chargers To Destroy Your Devices—This Is How It Works

      Because the fast charger is essentially a smart device in its own right, it is open to a malicious compromise. An attack is very simple. With malware loaded onto a smartphone, an attacker connects to the charger, overwriting its firmware and essentially arming it as a weapon for whatever plugs in to it next.

      The interesting twist here is that the malware might even be on the target device. An attacker pushes that malicious code to your phone. The first time you connect to a vulnerable fast charger, the phone overwrites its firmware. The next time you connect to that same charger to repower your device, your phone will be overloaded.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Amid Tense Primary Fight, Powerful Democrat Rep. Richie Neal Condemned for Supporting Predatory Medical Billing Policy

      “Neal is one of the most powerful members of Congress, and it’s clear he’s using that power to benefit Wall Street fund managers instead of regular Americans.”

    • Why Is The US Trying To Punish Hackers For Accessing Vaccine Research We Should Be Sharing With The World?

      Back in May, I wondered why the US was trying to hide vaccine data from the Chinese. In fact, it was bizarre that the US government seemed concerned about Chinese hackers trying to access vaccine data, because why would anyone keep such data secret in the first place. This is a global pandemic and the way you solve a global pandemic is with a global solution, and the way to get there faster (and better) is with the open sharing of information. Hoarding and locking up information regarding a potential vaccine makes no sense at all. And yet, this morning, the DOJ made a big showing of how it had indicted Chinese hackers for trying to hack COVID-19 related research.

    • Why Is a Right-Wing Flack and Roger Stone Ally in Charge of Fauci’s Schedule?

      Last week the Washington Post published a report titled “Fauci is sidelined by the White House as he steps up blunt talk on pandemic,” which revealed that President Trump had not sought the counsel of the government’s top infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, in more than a month.

    • Health Care Workers’ Complaints Show the Morbid Dangers They Face During COVID

      During the darkest days of the Covid-19 pandemic, with thousands dying every day, America relied on a select few essential workers to keep society running, like postal workers, grocery workers and meat packers — all industries that have seen, together, hundreds of Covid-related deaths among workers. Chief among them are nurses, on the front lines of the pandemic, who have put their lives on the line to intubate disease victims and provide lifesaving medical care. Since the pandemic began, over 500 healthcare workers in the United States have died from the virus.

    • The Pentagon Confronts the Pandemic: Or How to Make War, American-Style, Possible Again

      On March 26th, the coronavirus accomplished what no foreign adversary has been able to do since the end of World War II: it forced an American aircraft carrier, the USS Theodore Roosevelt, to suspend patrol operations and shelter in port. By the time that ship reached dock in Guam, hundreds of sailors had been infected with the disease and nearly the entire crew had to be evacuated. As news of the crisis aboard the TR (as the vessel is known) became public, word came out that at least 40 other U.S. warships, including the carrier USS Ronald Reagan and the guided-missile destroyer USS Kidd, were suffering from Covid-19 outbreaks. None of these approached the scale of the TR and, by June, the Navy was again able to deploy most of those ships on delayed schedules and/or with reduced crews. By then, however, it had become abundantly clear that the long-established U.S. strategy of relying on large, heavily armed warships to project power and defeat foreign adversaries was no longer fully sustainable in a pandemic-stricken world.

    • Fox News Viewers More Likely to Believe COVID Death Count Is Fake, Poll Shows

      Nearly one-third of Americans believe the official count of the number of people who have died from coronavirus in the United States is being exaggerated, according to a poll published on Tuesday.

    • Multiple Job Holders: Who Are They and How Are They Holding Up During the Pandemic?

      According to the Current Population Survey (CPS), 8.1 million employees worked one or more additional jobs in a typical week in 2019. As the figure below shows, the number of these “employee multiple jobholders” had been trending upward since 2013 before the pandemic hit. (We use the term “employee multiple jobholders” here because, as we discuss further below, the CPS does not capture “nonemployee multiple jobholders”.) Over the same period, the percentage of all employees who are multiple jobholders has been stable (at about 5 percent of all employees), so the increase in the number of employee multiple jobholders before the pandemic was driven by the underlying increase in employment.

    • This Pandemic and the Ones to Come: Mike Davis’ “The Monster Enters”

      The Monster Enters, by Mike Davis, published this week, is a warning for future generations.  It is a must-read if we are understand our current predicament.  COVID-19 (SARS-Cov-2) is just the latest in a series of pandemics and near-pandemics that are becoming more frequent and more virulent.  Davis makes clear that the world is ill-prepared to deal with them.

    • Calls Mounting For Trump to Step Aside From Covid-19 Bungling

      Public Citizen’s open letter, co-signed by over twenty nonprofit civic organizations working for the public health, demanded that Trump and Pence immediately give up their disastrous daily mismanagement of the Covid-19 response. Trump’s bungling and ignorance have allowed the Covid-19 virus to spread faster at an alarming rate around the country.

    • Politicians and Business Interests Pushed Health Officials Aside to Control Reopening. Then Cases Exploded.

      Back in April, when public health officials were still helping lead Utah’s response to the coronavirus, the spread of the disease had slowed, stabilizing at fewer than 200 reported cases a day.

      Then came a shift in power, and priorities.

    • Investment in Child Care Can’t Wait until There’s a Coronavirus Vaccine

      Our economy cannot function without child care. That simple fact has been brought into stark relief by the recent pandemic, which has forced parents across the country to choose between supporting their family financially and caring for their children.

    • How to Understand COVID-19 Numbers

      It’s the middle of the summer, and the coronavirus has not gone away.

      When the pandemic first began, some had hoped that there’d be a lull during the summer, with the heat knocking the virus into submission, but it has continued its march across America, with outbreaks flaring across the southern and southwestern states. Arguments have also become part of the daily discourse, with people debating over case counts and death tolls, how the trends should be interpreted and whether the reported numbers can even be trusted.

    • Pelosi calls coronavirus the ‘Trump virus’

      “If he had said months ago, let’s wear masks, let’s not — let’s socially distance instead of having rallies and whatever they were, then more people would have followed his lead,” Pelosi argued on CNN. “He’s the president of the United States.”

      Pressed by CNN host Wolf Blitzer on whether she was asserting that thousands of Americans had died because of the president’s response, Pelosi responded, “Yes, that’s what I am saying. I think it’s clearly evident.”

    • 36 Steps Medical Authorities Have Taken To Guarantee Maximum Death & Disruption from Coronavirus

      Update: a reader has brought the number to 39 with these three additions:

      Fauci and NIH helped fund China’s research into the dangerous and banned gain of function that has made coronavirus so contagious.

      Bill Gates and Johns Hopkins University did a test run of a pandemic at the end of last year.

      Governments in the US, Canada, and Western Europe delayed stopping flights from countries with coronavirus outbreaks until enough infected people had entered the country to ensure widespread infection and make contract tracing impossible.

    • Here’s what Michigan nursing homes that escaped coronavirus did right

      In a unified, daily drumbeat, facilities emailed staffers and held daily leadership calls. They rigorously disinfected buildings and put up strict limits on what was brought inside and who could enter. They scoured for supplies and sewed — even steam-cleaned — their own masks.

      Measures like those have kept Rest Haven among the roughly 200 Michigan nursing homes that have not reported a single case of COVID among residents since the beginning of the pandemic, as of July 16, according to data from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.

  • Integrity/Availability

    • Proprietary

      • [Old] Apple iPhone Warning: Dangerous New Lightning Cable Now On Sale

        Another reminder of the dangers of borrowing USB cables arrived over the weekend, with the news that an adapted iPhone Lightning cable that enables remote hacking of connected devices is now on sale. The OMG Cable, which looks and behaves just like an everyday Apple cable, was demonstrated to great effect at Def Con in August. It has now been prepared for “mass production.”

        Despite operating as normal—phones charge, iTunes opens, the usual dialog boxes appear—the OMG Cable contains a nifty wireless implant that can be accessed from an attacker in its vicinity. The transparency of this project is interesting—a capability normally kept behind closed doors within security agencies or on the dark web. And, as such, this does provide a powerful warning to users as to the risk of using cables or accessories from anything but fully trusted sources.

      • Pseudo-Open Source

        • Openwashing

          • How Slack, Airtable and open-source software connected New Yorkers during the pandemic [Ed: Openwashing of surveillance]

            The result: open-source software that uses Airtable spreadsheets, Slack collaboration software, and geocoding from Google or Mapquest to automatically find volunteers closest to a person requesting help. It’s now available to other groups trying to assist neighbors in need during the pandemic.

          • Open source library services platform [Ed: More openwashing]

            Started in 2018, the FOLIO project is a partnership between libraries, developers and vendors that was established to develop an open source library services platform (LSP). Prominent libraries provide their expertise and knowledge as subject-matter experts; the developers rely on input from subject-matter experts and collaborate with user experience (UX) designers to create the FOLIO platform and associated apps; and the vendors contribute to the deployment of FOLIO and to the provision of support services.

        • Privatisation/Privateering

          • Linux Foundation

            • 3MF Consortium joins Linux Foundation as Open Standards Project
            • The Linux Foundation Is Making It Even Easier for Health Agencies to Use Apple’s COVID-19 Exposure Notification System

              The battle against COVID-19 is far from over, and while some countries around the world have found themselves able to safely — and slowly — start easing lockdown restrictions, others have been facing second waves or even unfinished first waves, often as a result of moving too soon or not having the necessary health infrastructure in place to help prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus.

              As countries like South Korea and Singapore discovered early on, “contact tracing” has become an important part of controlling the pandemic, and most health authorities around the world have been doing it in some form or another. Usually, this is just done the old-fashioned way, which involves interviewing those who are diagnosed with COVID-19 to find out who they may have been in contact with, and then attempting to notify those individuals of their possible exposure to the virus so they can come in and get tested.

              Due to the complexities of adopting this on a wider scale, however, several government health agencies began to adopt digital methods of contact tracing. Singapore was among the first, with its TraceTogether app, which users could install on their iPhone or Android smartphone, where it would use Bluetooth to keep track of other smartphones that it came into close contact with.

            • Linux Foundation Announces Advanced Cloud Engineer Bootcamp to Turn Sysadmins into Cloud Administrators

              Last month, Linux Foundation launched the Cloud Engineer Bootcamp program. This one was focused on preparing candidates for entry level jobs as a cloud engineer.

      • Security

        • DOJ Indicts Cyprus National Who Apparently Hacked Ripoff Report And Deleted Negative Reviews

          We’ve covered incidents involving Ripoff Report for several years here at Techdirt. In most of the cases that we’ve covered, Ripoff Report has been the target of bogus DMCA takedowns and libel lawsuits from entities who would do pretty much anything to see negative reviews disappear.

        • EFF Welcomes Cybersecurity Expert Tarah Wheeler to Advisory Board

          Cybersecurity policy expert. Security researcher. Women in tech advocate. Entrepreneur. Tarah Wheeler’s expertise and experience encompasses the most pressing issues in tech, and we’re honored to announce that she is joining EFF’s advisory board. She will be helping us with our work on information security, data privacy, building diverse and effective engineering teams, and influencing the future of cybersecurity.Wheeler has long been involved in making tech systems more secure for everyone. She is an International Security Fellow at New America’s International Security Program, leading a new international cybersecurity capacity building project with the Hewlett Foundation’s Cyber Initiative. At Splunk, a big data analyzation platform, Wheeler was head of offensive security and technical data privacy. Earlier she was senior director of engineering and principal security advocate at Symantec Website Security, and designed systems at encrypted mobile communications firm Silent Circle. Wheeler is founder of information security consultancy Red Queen Technologies, and her 2018 Foreign Policy article on cyberwar called attention to cyberwarfare’s impact on civilians.In May Wheeler received the US/UK Fulbright Cyber Security Scholar Award for distinguished scholars in the field. She will conduct research at the University of Oxford and with the UK National Health Service (NHS) on defining cyber war crimes and mitigating civilian bystander harms in nation-state sponsored cyberattacks. Wheeler’s Fulbright-supported research will explore both the technical and the social elements of protecting people against cyberconflict by examining the civilian impact of the WannaCry ransomware attack on the NHS. Adding diversity and ensuring gender equity in tech and infosec has been a focus of Wheeler’s for nearly a decade. She is the lead author of the 2016 best-selling book Women In Tech: Take Your Career to The Next Level With Practical Advice And Inspiring Stories, which provides guidance from top female engineers, entrepreneurs, gamers, and coders.Wheeler is also a poker player, and says the game isn’t unlike cybersecurity work. Fixing security problems is tough, and in the moment can feel like everything rests on a single decision. “But, over time, you start to fine-tune your sense of decision making,” Wheeler said in an interview last year.“ That’s what poker is like—folding what you have calculated is likely not a winning hand, even if you’re not perfectly sure. Being sure enough that you make a good decision and following through on that good decision and gradually tuning your game so you’re better over time is what poker brought me when it comes to my decision-making process in cybersecurity.” Welcome to EFF, Tarah!

        • Privacy/Surveillance

  • Defence/Aggression

    • ‘Choose People Over Pentagon’: Americans Urged to Call Lawmakers as Congress Set to Vote on 10% Military Budget Cut

      “In a moment of pandemic and urgent protest, we refuse to let Congress put defense contractors over peoples’ needs”

    • “The Fight Isn’t Over,” Say Anti-War Groups as 139 House Democrats Vote With GOP to Reject 10% Pentagon Budget Cut

      “Though our amendment didn’t pass, progressive power is stronger than ever. We will keep fighting for pro-peace, pro-people budgets until it becomes a reality,” said Rep. Mark Pocan.

    • Hiroshima and Nagasaki as Collateral Damage

      On August 6, 1945 found me in a car with my uncle, Frank Pryal. A NYC plainclothes detective, Uncle Frank drove through the busy streets of Manhattan up to the Central Park Zoo to meet his friend Joe. It was a lively place with families enjoying the animals. Joe, a gorilla, saw Uncle Frank coming and began beating on his chest as we approached. Frank took a cigar from his suit coat pocket, lit it, and gave it to him. Joe took a long drag and blew smoke at us…I remember laughing so hard that I had to bend over to stop.

    • 103 Democrats Join GOP in Voting Down Omar Amendment to Accelerate US Withdrawal From Afghanistan

      “There are people saying that we shouldn’t be too hasty in leaving. Too hasty? It’s been two decades.”

    • How Will US Warfare Survive the Pandemic?

      On March 26th, the coronavirus accomplished what no foreign adversary has been able to do since the end of World War II: It forced an American aircraft carrier, the USS Theodore Roosevelt, to suspend patrol operations and shelter in port. By the time that ship reached dock in Guam, hundreds of sailors had been infected with the disease and nearly the entire crew had to be evacuated. As news of the crisis aboard the TR (as the vessel is known) became public, word came out that at least 40 other US warships, including the carrier USS Ronald Reagan and the guided-missile destroyer USS Kidd, were suffering from Covid-19 outbreaks. None of these approached the scale of the TR and, by June, the Navy was again able to deploy most of those ships on delayed schedules and/or with reduced crews. By then, however, it had become abundantly clear that the long-established US strategy of relying on large, heavily armed warships to project power and defeat foreign adversaries was no longer fully sustainable in a pandemic-stricken world.

    • Robert Gates’ “Exercise In Power”: A Disingenuous Exercise in Public Relations

      Robert M. Gates’ “Exercise in Power: American Failures, Successes, and a New Path Forward in the Post-Cold War World” makes a strong case for the importance of greater use of economic and other non-military tools of U.S. statecraft and acknowledges the over reliance on the military instrument.  Gates does not address, however, the preponderance of our military power: bloated defense spending; the retreat from arms control; and the imbalance in military-civilian relations that allows the military to dominate the national security dialogue.  In the wake of the dissolution of the Soviet Union,  U.S. presidents decided to pursue U.S. military superiority over any combination of adversaries rather than conduct a strategic dialogue to solve geopolitical problems.

    • Did feds provide personal security for St. Louis couple who brandished guns at peaceful protesters?

      Parson did not say one way or the other whether the federal government had afforded the McCloskeys what would amount to a personal security detail. But he did confirm that he had spoken with the president about what to do in the event of charges.

    • Ivory Coast Reinforces Northern Borders Against Islamist Threat

      This was the first Islamist attack on Ivorian soil since the raid of a beach resort in Grand-Bassam left 19 people dead. There has been growing concern that insurgents have been moving further south since groups affiliated to al-Qaeda occupied urban centers in northern Mali in 2012. The world’s top cocoa grower had been largely spared from the violence which spilled over to several other countries in the region.

    • The new ways the military is fighting against information warfare tactics

      U.S. military teams deploy to other nations to help them defend against malign cyber activity inside their networks. “Those defensive teams then were able to identify tools that were on networks and publicly disclose them, [and] industry later attributed to being Russian tools,” he said. “That was a means for us to use our unique authorities outside the United States to be able to then identify adversary activity and publicly disclose it.”

      Officials have said this approach changes the calculus of adversaries while also taking their tools off the battlefield.

      “Disclosure is more than just revealing adversary intent and capabilities. From a cyberspace perspective, disclosure is cost imposing as it removes adversary weapons from the ‘battlefield’ and forces them to expend resources to create new weapons,” Col. Brian Russell, the commander of II Marine Expeditionary Force Information Group, told C4ISRNET in June. “Disclosure forces the adversary to ask: ‘How were those capabilities discovered?’ It causes them to investigate the cause of the disclosure, forcing them to spend time on something other than attacking us. If I can plant a seed of doubt (messaging) that the disclosure might have been caused by someone working on the inside, it makes them question the system’s very nature, perhaps spending more time and resources to fix the system.”

    • As Campuses Cut Ties to Police, Sociology Departments Must Do the Same

      After beginning my Ph.D. in sociology at the University of Minnesota in 2011, it didn’t take long to realize that the department does more than produce knowledge — it also produces police. And my discipline is good at its job. So good, in fact, that Thomas Lane and J. Alexander Kueng, two of the officers implicated in George Floyd’s murder, graduated from the university’s Department of Sociology. As a recent alum of the department, I was troubled by its attempt to silence internal dissent by urging current graduate students to direct any media inquiries to the College of Liberal Arts. In a moment when protest and outcry is not only warranted, but necessary, silencing students is another example of sociology reproducing the problems it claims to study.

    • The Tactics of Terror in Portland

      Between 1973 and 1990 scores of people were disappeared by the US supported fascist regime of Augusto Pinochet in Chile. They were incarcerated, tortured and thousands were murdered. In fact, the official total of those killed by the regime is just over 40,000. But some critics suggest it was much higher. Pinochet was able to do all of this with the blessing of the CIA who assisted him in the coup against the elected President, Salvador Allende, and in his reign of terror afterward in Chile. The painful lessons of the Pinochet years have often been obscured under neoliberal historical revisionism, but with what is currently unfolding in cities like Portland, Oregon, it is urgent to revisit them.

    • Will Trump’s Secret Police Succeed in Provoking Riots in Your City?

      Portland is a test… but only a test.

    • Trump’s ‘law and order’ is starting to look like martial law

      This is sketchy stuff. And it’s not a good look for a country that’s supposed to be an open society. And it’s particularly distressing that the President is openly threatening cities based on the political affiliations of their leaders.

      The teams of masked authorities seen in Portland dressed up for war like special forces apparently belong to the Department of Homeland Security’s Customs and Border Protection Unit.

      They’re trained for drug missions, but with Trump demanding “law and order” and disagreeing with local authorities, they’ve been dispatched to American streets.

    • Immunity rule changed in wake of Harry Dunn death
  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • “Credible Open Source Reporting”, the Intelligence Services and Scottish Independence

      I write as somebody who held Top Secret clearance for 21 years, with extensive daily use of Top Secret material that entire time, and the highest possible specific codeword clearance above Top Secret for 11 years. I personally conducted for the FCO the largest “action on” operation in GCHQ history. (“Action on” is the process of declassifying top secret material for, in my particular case, government to government use). I have also given evidence in person in a three hour appearance before Parliament’s Intelligence and Security Committee.

    • Twitter cracks down on QAnon conspiracy group, including a ban on 7,000 accounts

      Why is Twitter only cracking down now? Twitter tells The Verge that after monitoring closely and talking to experts, the company believes QAnon supporters have continued and in some cases increased harassment of Twitter users in recent weeks, and that it’s clear the content that QAnon supporters share is causing actual harm to those who use the service.

      That said, the first 7,000 accounts were banned for violations of Twitter’s existing policies. We’ll have to see how well Twitter enforces the new rules; in particular, blocking people from sharing any QAnon-associated URL could be like playing an impossible game of whack-a-mole.

    • Twitter to Crackdown on QAnon as Movement’s Influence Grows

      The social media company said it will permanently suspend accounts tweeting about topics that it knows are violating Twitter policy and coordinating abuses around individual victims or attempting to evade suspensions. Twitter will also ensure it’s not highlighting QAnon activity by keeping such posts out of trends and recommendation sections as well as blocking URLs associated with the movement.

      Twitter didn’t say how many accounts will be affected. NBC separately reported that about 150,000 accounts will be impacted and so far more than 7,000 QAnon accounts have been taken down in the last couple of weeks, citing an unnamed Twitter spokesman.

    • Twitter bans 7,000 QAnon accounts, limits 150,000 others as part of broad crackdown

      Twitter plans to permanently ban accounts that violate policies around platform manipulation, evasion of bans and operation of multiple accounts, behaviors commonly used by QAnon accounts, the spokesperson said. Twitter began blocking QAnon websites last week, and it will continue to block the distribution of QAnon-related URLs, the spokesperson said.

      [...]

      Despite no evidence and numerous predictions that failed to materialize, QAnon support has trickled into the mainstream, with numerous Republican candidates for Congress openly espousing their support.

    • The Pro-Trump CIA Man: QAnon Madness and Upward Failure

      Michael Scheur is a pure product of the CIA. A career operations officer, he ran the first agency task force that hunted Osama bin Laden. Scheur authored the agency’s rendition program, which kidnapped suspected terrorists (and sometimes innocent people) and tortured them. He combined a deep knowledge of Islamic jihadist movements with a willingness to use illegal methods to fight them. In that regard, he was in the mainstream of the CIA.

  • Environment

    • Global Warming and Ocean Acidification Accelerate

      The global warming of the biosphere and its consequent acidification of the oceans is a complex of geophysical, biological and ecological, and sociological phenomena that are all accelerating. There is much that humanity could do to slow that acceleration, and to enact strategies for its own protection from Nature’s escalating assaults on civilization by the grand feedback loop of anthropogenic global warming climate change, but there is really nothing humanity can do to stop it.

    • Global Warming Is Driving Polar Bears Toward Extinction, Researchers Say

      Arctic sea ice grows in the winter and melts and retreats in spring and summer. As the region has warmed rapidly in recent decades, ice extent in summer has declined by about 13 percent per decade compared to the 1981-2010 average. Some parts of the Arctic that previously had ice year-round now have ice-free periods in summer. Other parts are now free of ice for a longer portion of the year than in the past.

      Dr. Molnar and his colleagues looked at 13 of the subpopulations representing about 80 percent of the total bear population. They calculated the bears’ energy requirements in order to determine how long they could survive — or, in the case of females, survive and nurse their cubs — while fasting.

      Combining that with climate-model projections of ice-free days to 2100 if present rates of warming continue, they determined that, for almost all of the subgroups, the time that the animals would be forced to fast would eventually exceed the time that they are capable of fasting.

      In short, the animals would starve.

    • Energy

      • How stored electricity can make cleaner fuels

        EU industry is seeking ways to save surplus power. Now it’s also hunting for methods to use that stored electricity to make green fuels.

      • Whose Allegiance? Three Percenters Militia Working in Bakken Oil Patch Raises Concerns of Domestic Terrorism Risk

        The Three Percenters are so named for the dubious historical claim that only three percent of American colonists took up arms in the Revolutionary War. Their adherents have frequently been involved with incidents of armed protests, hate speech, and threatening behavior across the U.S., and the group’s members have shown up prominently at recent protests related to both pandemic response measures and police brutality.

      • Oil and Gas in Flux: After a Series of Stunning Defeats, What’s Next for the Industry?
      • ‘The planet can’t wait,’ says Tim Cook as Apple goes carbon neutral

        One illustration of how Apple is pivoting its business to help nurture a more environmentally friendly approach is in the company’s decision to ensure its operating systems support a wide number of older iPhones, meaning you don’t need a new smartphone every year to enjoy the latest features.

      • The end of the Arab world’s oil age is nigh

        But don’t be fooled. The world’s economies are moving away from fossil fuels. Oversupply and the increasing competitiveness of cleaner energy sources mean that oil may stay cheap for the foreseeable future. The recent turmoil in oil markets is not an aberration; it is a glimpse of the future. The world has entered an era of low prices—and no region will be more affected than the Middle East and north Africa.

        [...]

        There is sure to be resistance along the way. Start with the region’s wealthiest oil producers, which can cope with low prices in the short run. Qatar and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) have huge sovereign-wealth funds. Saudi Arabia, the region’s largest economy, has foreign reserves worth $444bn, enough to cover two years of spending at the current rate.

    • Wildlife/Nature

      • It’s Always the Ranchers

        A week ago, I was touring Montana public lands with my 13-year-old daughter. As we approached Yellowstone National Park, I explained how the slaughter of bison was largely to appease the livestock industry, pushed by a handful of ranchers who didn’t want bison migrating out of the Park. Bison, as it turns out, eat the same grass as cattle, and can carry the livestock disease brucellosis. Even though there has never been a documented case of cattle catching brucellosis from bison – not even one – in the Yellowstone ecosystem (all known cases were traced back to elk, according to the National Academy of Sciences), cattle producers fear losing “brucellosis-free” status which would make it harder for them to market their cattle. “It’s always the ranchers,” my daughter exclaimed.

      • Climate Change Is Set to Starve Polar Bears to Extinction by 2100

        In some regions they are already caught in a vicious downward spiral, with shrinking sea ice cutting short the time bears have for hunting seals, scientists reported in Nature Climate Change.

        Their dwindling body weight undermines their chances of surviving Arctic winters without food, the scientists added.

  • Finance

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • GOP Congressman Yoho Overheard Calling Ocasio-Cortez ‘F**king B*tch’ After Accosting Her on Capitol Steps

      “That kind of confrontation hasn’t ever happened to me—ever,” said New York Democrat after the exchange.

    • ‘This Is a Flashing Red Light’: Trump Triggers Alarm With Another Baseless Attack on Mail-In Voting

      “It is #VoterSuppression during the #Covid19 pandemic.”

    • Looming Immigration Services Shutdown May Fuel Voter Suppression in 2020

      Trump’s ghoulish exploitation of the coronavirus pandemic to further his anti-immigrant policies has also manufactured a crisis at the federal agency responsible for green cards, citizenship, asylum and myriad other immigration matters. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is about to run out of money, and if Congress doesn’t act, will furlough more than two-thirds of the USCIS workforce in August. Such a shutdown would further extend the “invisible wall” Trump created to suppress immigration of all kinds. In an election year in which Trump seems determined to use every tool of voter suppression possible, the shutdown of USCIS could mean hundreds of thousands of potential new voters may be denied the ballot.

    • Court Tells Trumpian Head Of US Agency For Global Media That He Can’t Fire People From The Open Tech Fund (At Least For Now)

      So, this is interesting. Last month we wrote about how Trump had appointed Michael Pack (a protege of Steve Bannon) to head up the US Agency for Global Media, which controls the various independent US overseas broadcasting operations: Voice of America, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Radio Free Asia and Middle East Broadcasting. USAGM also oversees the Open Technology Fund, which is basically a government agency funding a ton of really important open source tools for getting around internet censorship and surveillance. OTF may sound like a misfit compared to the broadcasting operations, but it was spun out of Radio Free Asia, so its connection to USAGM is sort of a legacy one.

    • Seriously? John Kasich? What Is the Biden Camp Thinking?

      The Associated Press reports that the Joe Biden campaign has reached out to former Ohio governor John Kasich to speak on his behalf at the Democratic National Convention. Kasich, an anti-abortion, pro-gun Republican, ran for the Republican nomination for president in 2016. When he didn’t win, he voted for… John McCain, even though McCain wasn’t even on the ballot. So he speaks for a critical constituency of people who understand that Donald Trump is not fit to be president but can’t be bothered to use their vote to help.

    • Canada’s Nazi Monuments

      “Graffiti on monument commemorating Nazi SS division being investigated as a hate crime by police.” Ordinarily, you’d assume a headline about Nazis as victims came from The Onion (and indeed, they’ve been prescient on this). But it’s 2020; we’re well down the rabbit hole of the American president who calls neo-Nazis “good people,” and this all-too-real article is from the Ottawa Citizen, a major Canadian newspaper. Indeed, the news that Canada has a monument commemorating Third Reich soldiers is just the outer layer of a nesting doll of progressively shocking facts.

    • A Matter of Citizenship: Shamima Begum, Islamic State and Natural Justice

      Rarely do terms such as “Islamic State” and “natural justice” keep company. Both seem alien, uncomfortable, fundamentally ill-suited. For one, Islamic State’s own approach to natural justice, archaic and stone-age obscurantist, has tended to be distinctly unnatural and particularly brutal. But it has also invited, in response to its particular brand of terrorism, a troubling approach on the part of governments determined to excoriate it. For those taking to its sources of fanaticism, harsh measures are meted out.

    • How is Putin able to remove popularly elected governors?
    • Progressives Have a VP Short list: Barbara Lee, Nina Turner, Karen Bass

      Progressives want Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, to pick a running-mate who will mobilize the tens of millions of potential voters who want not only to beat Donald Trump but also to initiate bold structural change in the politics and the governance of the United States.

    • Trump’s 2020 Campaign Strategy Is Already an Impressive Train Wreck
    • How NOT to Resist Trump: Kayleigh McEnany’s Anti-Science Comments

      Media, particularly those who have made a habit of rhetorically opposing Donald Trump for the past four years, were awash last week with White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany’s controversial statements on reopening public schools in the middle of a pandemic. For example:

    • At This Trump-Favored Charity, Financial Reporting Is Questionable and Insiders Are Cashing In

      This election, one of President Donald Trump’s most influential advocates is 26-year-old Charlie Kirk, who has developed a unique bond with the first family. The conservative star dines with the president at Mar-a-Lago and rang in the new year there. During each of the last two winters, he used the club to hold a formal fundraiser for his nonprofit, Turning Point USA, that featured Donald Trump Jr.

      At a Turning Point event in June, the president, addressing the crowd, said, “Let us also show our appreciation to my good friend, Charlie. I’ll tell you, Charlie is some piece of work who is mobilizing a new generation of pro-American student activists.” On a Turning Point webpage soliciting donations, Trump Jr., a close friend of Kirk’s, is quoted as saying, “I’m convinced that the work by Turning Point USA and Charlie Kirk will win back the future of America.”

    • Georgia’s Election Disaster Shows How Bad Voting in 2020 Can Be

      The state’s Republican leadership did nothing to prevent this democratic disaster from happening, even though it had happened before, just two years ago.

    • We all know Donald Trump is preparing to rig or steal the election — but exactly how?

      I don’t know how all this will end, but I feel relatively secure in forecasting the mayhem. Honestly, as with everything Trump, I hope I’m wrong and this election wraps up without a glitch. But given King Joffrey the Flaccid’s actions lately, especially with his contra-constitutional deployment of unidentified soldiers to disappear protesters from the streets, it would be foolish to count on a smooth ride. The absolute best strategy for the Democratic Party, and indeed all Normals, is to prepare for a bloody mess before we have a winner. The party ought to be fully lawyered up in anticipation of Trump’s psycho-bombs detonating at polling places and in state capitals across the country. Don’t be blindsided.

      I think we can all agree that Donald Trump will not go quietly, or accept defeat with any measure of dignity. Knowing the stunts he’s likely to pull, and preparing accordingly, is half the battle.

    • ‘They just started whaling on me’: Veteran speaks out after video of federal officers beating him at Portland protests goes viral

      But residents like Mr David saw the administration’s response as an effort to create discontent in “any big, blue city”.

      “This is just the first domino to fall,” he said. “He is trying to see how far he can push it in Portland and create some kind of model for other cities so he can stir up enough chaos and discontent to try and win the election again. All of this is just doubling down on his strategy of division and chaos.”

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • The PACT Act’s Attempt to Help Internet Users Hold Platforms Accountable Will End Up Hurting Online Speakers

      Recently, nearly every week brings a new effort to undercut or overhaul a key U.S. law—47 U.S.C. § 230 (“Section 230”)—that protects online services and allows Internet users to express themselves. Many of these proposals jeopardize users’ free speech and privacy, while others are thinly-veiled attacks against online services that the President and other officials do not like.

      These attacks on user expression and the platforms we all rely on are serious. But they do not represent serious solutions to a real problem: that a handful of large online platforms dominate users’ ability to organize, connect, and speak online.

    • A Case Where The Courts Got Section 230 Right Because It Turns Out Section 230 Is Not Really All That Hard

      Having just criticized the Second Circuit for getting Section 230 (among other things) very wrong, it’s worth pointing out an occasion where it got it very right. The decision in Force v. Facebook came out last year, but the Supreme Court recently denied any further review, so it’s still ripe to talk about how this case could, and should, bear on future Section 230 litigation.

  • Freedom of Information/Freedom of the Press

    • State Dept-funded Transparency International goes silent on jailed transparency activist Julian Assange

      For over a year, the West’s top anti-corruption NGO, Transparency International, has not said a word about the world’s most prominent jailed transparency activist, Julian Assange. Is UK and UK government funding a factor in the organization’s silence?

    • ‘Everyone’s head spinning’ as Bauer axes eight magazines

      Having missed the traditional money-spinning September issue, the focus within Harper’s was on maximising the glimmer of hope October represented for the international fashion brand following months of uncertainty after Bauer Media Group “suspended” publication amid the COVID-19 health crisis.

      Instead, they were told that the Mercury Capital-owned Bauer Media Australia was to close the magazine along with other titles including InStyle, Elle, Men’s Health, Women’s Health, Good Health, NW and OK!.

    • Detroit police officer charged for allegedly shooting 3 photojournalists with rubber pellets during protest

      After the majority of protesters had cleared the area, MLive photojournalist Nicole Hester and independent photographers Seth Herald and Matthew Hatcher encountered Debono with two other officers. The three photographers, all wearing press credentials, identified themselves as members of the press and with their hands up, asked to cross the street, the release said.

      As the three began crossing the street, Debono allegedly fired his weapon at them, striking all three with rubber pellets, according to the release.

      All three photographers were injured by the pellets. Hester sustained the most injuries, to her face, neck, arms and legs, according to the release. Herald’s wrist was injured and Hatcher was bruised on the face and ribs.

      Worthy said the three photographers were leaving the protest area and that there was almost no one else on the street when they were hit by the rubber pellets.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • ‘Flagrantly Unconstitutional’: Trump Issues Order to Block Undocumented Immigrants From Being Counted in Census

      “This is another attempt by Trump to use scaremongering against immigrants and rig the system,” said Sen. Elizabeth Warren.

    • Hamilton and the Iconoclasts of Tomorrow

      This week, 216 years ago, one founding father killed another in a duel in Weehawken, New Jersey. On that early July morning, the vice president of the United States squared off against the former secretary of the treasury. As virtually everyone in America now knows, thanks to Lin-Manuel Miranda, Alexander Hamilton didn’t survive the shootout with Aaron Burr.

    • John Lewis, a Founding Father of American Democracy

      John Lewis was a leader, but more workhorse than show horse. Show horses preen to win the applause of the crowd. Workhorses pull the wagon.

    • Progressive Community Mourns Death of Michael Brooks, A ‘Passionate Fighter for Justice’

      “Michael believed in bringing people together in the struggle for love and justice, fighting for all poor and working people, a struggle that he understood to be global.”

    • Defendant in controversial ‘New Greatness’ extremism case files lawsuit for illegal detention

      On Monday, July 20, Anna Pavlikova, one of the defendants in the controversial “Novoe Velichie” (New Greatness) extremism case, filed a five-million-ruble ($70,550) lawsuit against the Russian state for illegally holding her in pre-trial detention in 2018.

    • Roberto Mangabeira Unger’s Alternative Progressive Vision

      What is the way forward for progressives in a time when it seems both centrism and authoritarianism are resurgent? What should be the character and scope of a national program that progressives in and outside the Democratic Party can and should embrace? There are many places to look for answers to these questions, and no doubt the answers will have many inspirations.

    • When ‘Law and Order’ Means Maximum Chaos
    • A carefully planned career Khabarovsk’s new acting governor is known for weird ideas, but the man’s a pragmatist

      It took a week and a half for the Kremlin to select a new acting head for the Far Eastern Khabarovsk Territory, where the population has been protesting the arrest of their elected governor, Sergey Furgal. After nearly ten days of sustained demonstrations, President Vladimir Putin dismissed Furgal from his post on July 20, “due to loss of confidence,” and appointed State Duma Deputy from the Liberal Democratic Party Mikhail Degtyarev as the Khabarovsk Territory’s acting head. Degtyarev accepted the position without hesitation, saying that he was prepared to fly to the region immediately. Meduza breaks down Degtyarev’s political career.

    • ‘I have a selfie with Sergey Furgal’ Mikhail Degtyarev’s first press briefing as the Khabarovsk Territory’s acting governor, in brief

      I just arrived and I already heard how people shouted at me from their windows: “Degtyarev, leave!” I will gladly go, but now is not the time — because there are priority tasks. Why I was the chosen candidate is a question for the president. But the fact that I am from the LDPR [Liberal Democratic Party] is out of the federal center’s respect for the voters. I flew for seven hours and for seven hours I read about the situation in the Khabarovsk Territory. Many of the economic indicators are deserving of respect, some are cause for concern — we’ll deal with it. I have already been to the region before, more than once. A year ago I was with Sergey Furgal at a hockey game, I have a selfie. And I also, through Interpol, helped find a girl whose father had secretly taken her away from her mother to the United States — they managed to bring her back to Khabarovsk, even [TV presenter] Andrey Malakhov filmed a broadcast about it. The father turned out to be a half-crazed supporter of Alexey Navalny. So there’s something that connects me with the region. Time will tell whether or not I will become a Khabarovchanin. I have good connections in Moscow, and I will use all of them to achieve the maximum results. If Furgal is acquitted, I’m not going to compete with him in the elections — I’ll pack my things and leave. Khabarovsk has the most civilized police force in Russia, but there’s no need to provoke them. I don’t think that if I were to issue a decree dispersing the rallies, it would be a sentence for my governorship. But according to the regulations, I can’t issue such a decree. 

    • Black Lives Mattered, and Matter
    • Trump to Send Federal Agents to Protests in Chicago and Seattle Amid Crackdown

      As mayors in six cities call for the immediate removal of the president’s rapid deployment units and for Congress to investigate the tactics of federal authorities against antiracism protests, Trump says he may send agents to Chicago this week. “We’re looking at the infringement on our rights that is just escalating,” says Chicago activist Jitu Brown, national director of the Journey for Justice Alliance. We also speak with Jesse Hagopian, a history teacher in Seattle, where Trump has also vowed to send federal officers to quell ongoing demonstrations.

    • Trump to Send Federal Troops to Protests in Chicago & Seattle Amid Violent Crackdown by Local Police

      As mayors in six cities call for the immediate removal of the president’s rapid deployment units and for Congress to investigate the tactics of federal authorities against antiracism protests, Trump says he may send troops to Chicago this week. “We’re looking at the infringement on our rights that is just escalating,” says Chicago activist Jitu Brown, national director of the Journey for Justice Alliance. We also speak with Jesse Hagopian, a history teacher in Seattle, where Trump has also vowed to send federal officers to quell ongoing demonstrations.

    • Portland’s Wall of Moms Joined by Dads With Leaf Blowers Against Trump’s Police

      In response to the use of tear gas being utilized by federal officers against demonstrators, including a group of moms, in an uprising in Portland, Oregon, this week, a like-minded dads’ group encouraged others to show up to the event with leaf blowers in order to dissipate the chemical agents.

    • Portland Protests Grow Despite Violent Crackdown from Militarized Federal Agents & Local Police

      Heavily armed federal officers without name tags have carried out nightly attacks on antiracist demonstrations in Portland, Oregon, and snatched people off the streets into unmarked vans, sparking widespread outrage. “What we’ve seen is a continuous escalation in violence against our protesters,” says Lilith Sinclair, an Afro-Indigenous local organizer in Portland. They note the federal violence follows many years of “severe police brutality” from local police. “It’s left the people of Portland not only worried about their safety, but, even more so, justified in the fight that we’re engaged in.”

    • “Camouflaged Goon Squads”: Outrage, Legal Challenges in Portland as Federal Agents Snatch Protesters

      The U.S. attorney for the District of Oregon has called for an investigation into the conduct of federal officers deployed to protests in Portland, calling their behavior “unlawful.” Local officials are also mounting legal challenges to remove the agents from city streets. Juan Chavez, project director and attorney at the Oregon Justice Resource Center, says it’s a terrifying situation for Portland residents who face “these camouflaged goon squads” who often refuse to identify themselves or their agencies. “They just appear in the middle of the night next to people who are in and around downtown who then get corralled into these vehicles, not told where or who’s picking them up,” he says.

    • Trump Launches A War On Protesters
    • Rising Autocracy

      This is not only one of the worst times for American democracy, it is one of the most dangerous times.

    • National Media Promote ‘Progressive’ Baltimore Prosecutor, Ignoring Local and Alternative Exposés

      As global protests against police violence followed the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Baltimore City State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby was featured prominently in national corporate media discussing prosecutors’ role in police accountability. Since Floyd’s death, she has appeared on CNN (6/4/20, 6/9/20) MSNBC (6/4/20, 6/17/20), NPR (5/31/20), ABC’s Nightline (6/4/20) and NBC’s Today show (6/2/20), among other broadcasts. And she wrote op-eds for the New York Times (6/4/20), Washington Post (5/30/20) and Baltimore Sun (6/22/20).

    • Episode 98 – Cumbia and Music Activism with Mariposa del Alma and listener feedback re: George Floyd – Along The Line Podcast

      Along The Line is a non-profit, education-based podcast that provides listeners with context and analysis about various critical and contemporary issues and topics.

    • John Lewis’s Fight for Justice Continues With Miracle Boyd

      The nation is mourning the death of John Lewis, the sharecropper’s son who rose to become a leader of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), a hero to the Black freedom movement, and a respected member of the US House of Representatives.

    • The Real Choice: Social Control or Social Investment

      It’s time we invest in affordable housing and education, not tear gas, batons, and state-sanctioned murder. It’s time we invest in keeping children fed and out of poverty, not putting their parents behind bars. It’s time to defund the police, and invest in communities. We have no time to waste.

    • ‘UnIslamic’ Buddha statue discovered in Pakistan’s Mardan vandalised by workers

      The statue was discovered in Mardan’s Takht Bhai area, which was a part of the Gandhara civilisation, while the workers were digging to lay the foundation for the under-construction house.

      A video, which has since gone viral on social media, showed the construction workers smashing the Buddha statue using a sledgehammer and expressing their resentment against the unIslamic relic.

      Local media quoted an official of the Pakistan tourism department, who said that the authorities have taken note of the incident and are looking into the matter.

    • Sudan: Thousands protest repeal of Islamic restrictions

      The Sudanese government last week passed a number of laws that repealed various Islamic legal restrictions introduced while Bashir was in power, including the outlaw of apostasy and restrictions on women’s dress.

      The new legislation also prohibited Female Genital Mutilation and allowed the consumption of alcohol for non-Muslims and for mothers to travel with their children without the permission of the father.

      Ahmed Brair, 23, told Anadolu Agency that he joined the demonstrations to stop what he describes as the “apostasy government.”

      “We’re ready for jihad to defend Islam,” Ahmed said as he chanted “Nasur Aldin is an enemy of Allah” referring to the minister of justice who spearheaded the new laws.

    • How Oregon Is Pushing Back Against ‘Kidnap and False Arrest’ by Trump’s Agents

      In a harrowing new tactic, reminiscent of fascist regimes, armed federal officers without agency badges have begun grabbing protesters off the street, throwing them into unmarked cars and jailing them without formally arresting them, according to court records. The state of Oregon is seeking a permanent injunction to prevent what it alleges are violations of the Fourth Amendment’s protections against “unreasonable seizures” and the Fifth Amendment’s guarantees of due process.

    • New Local Lawsuit Challenges ‘Violent and Unlawful’ Attacks on Portland Protesters by Trump’s Secret Police Force

      “There is no positive delegation of authority in any law that makes the federal government’s recent forays into general policing in Portland either legal or constitutional.”

    • Portland Protests Face Violent Federal Crackdown Led by the Trump Administration

      Portland, Oregon, is at the center of a weekend’s worth of national news coverage due to the presence in the city of federal agents, which many have referred to as “secret police” because they are unidentifiable in the field. As the Trump administration continues to rattle its sabers against protesting civilians in Portland, people are attempting to track what’s happening, and headlines have poured out of the Pacific Northwest.

      It’s been more than a month and a half since the death of George Floyd kicked off a wave of Black Lives Matter protests. Now, President Donald Trump’s ire for the protests has turned to Portland, where more than 50 days of protests are again escalating after a weekend of violence by federal agents.

      As of Monday, July 20, here’s what we know about the situation in Portland: [...]

    • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

      • Study: Community Broadband Drives Competition, Lowering Costs

        For all of the talk about being #1, America’s broadband networks are routinely mediocre. The U.S. consistently ranks among the middle of the pack in speeds and overall availability, while Americans continue to pay some of the highest prices in the developed world for both fixed and mobile broadband. The reasons aren’t mysterious: we’ve let a bunch of telecom giants monopolize the sector, dictate most US telecom policy in exchange for campaign contributions, and literally write state and federal law with a relentless focus on hamstringing competition.

    • Monopolies

      • Patents

        • Software Patents

          • Are digital twins as patentable as their physical counterparts?

            On 15 July 2020, the Enlarged Board of Appeal of the EPO met to discuss the criteria used to determine whether computer simulations can be patented in Europe. Patent attorney Parminder Lally summarises the hearing and provides her thoughts on the case, which could have a significant impact on how the EPO determines whether any software inventions such as computer simulations are patentable, particularly when the software inventions do not have a direct link to the physical world.

            We live in an increasingly digital world – not only do more of us communicate with each other and access information or content using ‘apps’ and the internet, but some of the work we may have previously conducted in the ‘real’ or physical world is now being performed using computer simulations or digital twins. For example, it is much more time- and cost-effective to simulate the behavior and performance of a new design of wind turbine blade, than to construct the wind turbine blade and test it in a real wind tunnel. Similarly, it is safer for the public to simulate how an autonomous vehicle performs in a virtual street and use data collected from the simulation to train the artificial intelligence that controls the vehicle, than to let an autonomous vehicle loose in our cities to collect that data.

            Many innovative companies in diverse technology areas use computer simulations, from those using software to design new cities, to those using digital twins to model the impact of changes to systems before implementing them in the real world, to those using software to identify and narrow-down potential new drugs for testing. In many cases, the simulations and software may help scientists and engineers to identify what not to do – in such cases, the output of the computer model may never be linked to a real-world product or method.

            It is, therefore, unsurprising that companies want to protect their computer simulation inventions, as these are useful and important tools that can help them to design, test, and implement or manufacture. However, whether computer-implemented simulations are patentable at the European Patent Office (EPO) has, to date, depended on whether the claimed invention has any technical features that prevent the claim as a whole from being excluded from patentability. Generally speaking, methods of simulation, design or modelling may comprise some features that fall under the category of mathematical methods or methods for performing mental acts (which are excluded from patentability), but if all of the features of the claimed subject matter relate to these categories, the claimed subject matter is excluded from patentability. Thus, the EPO looks to see if the claimed subject matter contains any functional technical features, or whether the claimed subject matter has a specific and defined technical purpose.

            However, last year, the Enlarged Board of Appeal (EBA) of the EPO was asked to consider whether a method of testing, by simulation, a modelled environment was a functional technical feature when there is no link in the claimed method to a physical entity or physical parameters (see here for a summary of the questions referred to the EBA; see here for the case itself). As noted above, this may be the case for many computer simulations or digital twin models, as well as in the field of training autonomous vehicles, finding and testing new drugs, designing and testing computer games, and so on.

      • Copyrights

        • R.I.P. Cable TV: Why Hollywood Is Slowly Killing Its Biggest Moneymaker

          Meanwhile, “cord cutting,” once pooh-poohed by the cable industry as a myth, has become a real threat: The number of pay-TV households peaked in 2010 at 105 million; now it’s down to approximately 82.9 million. And a study last year by eMarketer forecast that number to dip to 72.7 million by 2023. Now, it’s cable that’s on the ropes — and struggling for survival.

          “I think it’s 10 years, and there’ll be a total change of the guard,” says former DirecTV/AT&T Audience Network programming chief Chris Long, who’s now a producer. “At some point, people will make that decision of ‘I can get everything I want [in streaming]. I no longer need to have 180 channels that I only watch 12 of.”

        • French Torrent Giant YggTorrent Changes Domain to Avoid ISP Blocking

          YggTorrent, France’s largest torrent site, has moved to a new main domain to counter fresh ISP blocking in the country. The move to a Slovenian .si domain is the latest switch for the site, which was forced to jump to a Swedish domain in February after YggTorrent.ws was suspended by its domain registrar.

        • Hosting Provider is Not Liable for ‘Pirate’ Site, US Appeals Court Rules

          Hosting provider Steadfast is not liable for the copyright infringements of its customer, image-sharing site Imagebam.com. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals confirmed an earlier District Court verdict, arguing that forwarding DMCA notices to the customer is sufficient. The appeals court decision, which was opposed by one judge, also reopens the door for attorneys’ fees.

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    "Understanding the user is the first step towards a practical response to misconceptions."



  25. The Good and Bad of a (GNU?) BSD (not GNU/LINUX) Future

    "The software industry now occupies Free software's own territory. No longer is it Free software vs. Windows and MacOS, it's Free software vs. GIAFAM-co-opted Free software."



  26. Links 9/8/2020: Popcorn Computers Pocket PC and New Interview With Richard Stallman

    Links for the day



  27. Education and Free Software

    "If students learn how to code, they'll be able to figure out the applications."



  28. Features Considered Harmful (Revised)

    "But the benefits of Free software, free candy and new features are all meaningless, if the user isn't in control."



  29. If We Weren't Silencing Founders, Critics and People We Just Don't Like

    In the long run, history is rarely very kind to tyrants, especially the ones who did little more than lie to people and demand things that served no real purpose."



  30. I Would Have Supported the Coup (Under Very Different Circumstances)

    Richard Stallman's (rms) ordeals are showing us how not to deal with a founder; this is how power transition could be done instead, according to figosdev


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