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08.04.20

Links 4/8/2020: Kodachi 7.2, Collabora Office 6.4

Posted in News Roundup at 1:54 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

  • Leftovers

    • To Fascinate and Unnerve

      “Academics’ lives are seldom interesting,” Gilles Deleuze told Magazine Littéraire in 1988. The life of the mind is not without some amusement: Professors “travel, of course,” the French philosopher continued, “but they travel by hot air, by taking part in things like conferences and discussions, by talking, endlessly talking.” Deleuze was more reclusive than many in the cohort referred to, primarily in Anglo-American circles, as “French theory,” and in spite of considerable evidence to the contrary—25 books published during his lifetime, cited to this day by diverse scholarly blocs—he declined to call himself an intellectual, sincerely or not. Intellectuals, he believed, “have views on everything,” but he had “no stock of views to draw on.” “What I know,” he added, “I know only from something I’m actually working on, and if I come back to something a few years later, I have to learn everything all over again.”

    • ‘I’m a bit of a psychotherapist’ Nobel-Prize winning Belarusian writer Svetlana Alexievich on relationships with her protagonists, scenes from the mini-series ‘Chernobyl,’ and cultures of violence

      Actors stand on the stage of the Stuttgart Opera, screaming their lines. This polyphony is part of a new project called “Boris” that weaves together Modest Mussogorsky’s classical opera “Boris Godunov” with a new piece called “Secondhand Time,” written by Russian director Sergei Nevsky based on a book by Svetlana Alexievich, winner of the 2015 Nobel Prize for Literature. The scenes mix together, and Musogorsky’s characters become doubles for the characters of Nevsky. Six monologues from the book have made it into the opera: three are from the 1990s, three from World War II. The memoirs of a woman who is trying to understand why her son took his own life are at the story’s center. After the premier, Meduza’s Alexey Munipov spoke with Svetlana Alexievich about how people’s narratives become the foundation for her own works, about human suffering and judgment, and about Lyudmila Ignatenko from “Chernobyl,” whose story made it into the famous mini-series about the nuclear accident.

    • Science

    • Education

      • We’re Talking About Human Life Here. Unsafely Reopening Schools Is No Solution at All

        We need to make it possible for parents to stay home with their children. Now.

      • COVID-19 “Microschools” Are Betsy DeVos’s Latest Privatization Scheme

        Working parents grappling with the difficult choices before them this school semester — keeping their children home to learn remotely, or risking COVID-19 transmission by sending them to class — are increasingly turning to a new trend being hailed as a “solution” to the pandemic: privatized “microschools.”

      • US ‘faces minimum 30 per cent decline’ in international enrolment

        Mr Farnsworth said that he was projecting a “minimum decline of 30 per cent” in the coming academic year.

        “The reason I say ‘minimum’ is because we are seeing institutions moving from a hybrid status, which would allow them to get visas for their students, to fully online status, which would prevent them bringing international students here. That’s strictly because of the deteriorating situation with Covid here in the US,” he said.

        “I really want to emphasise that that 30 per cent decline is minimum and it could grow worse.”

    • Health/Nutrition

      • The Deaths of 150,000 Americans Are on Trump’s Hands

        Last week, the number of Americans dead from Covid-19 surpassed 150,000. Despite a death toll that now exceeds the total loss of life seen in some of America’s greatest wars, we still have no national plan for testing. No plan for contact tracing. Our rules for mask use and social distancing are haphazard at best, and a selfish minority of Americans actively ignore what rules are in place.

      • Russian censor opens ‘fake news’ cases against independent newspaper for reports about two new alleged coronavirus outbreaks

        Russia’s state censor has filed administrative cases against the independent newspaper Novaya Gazeta and its editor-in-chief, Dmitry Muratov, for supposed “fake news stories” about coronavirus outbreaks in Chechnya and inside the Russian Army. Muratov told the website MBK Media that the investigation concerns a report by Valery Shiryaev about COVID-19 spreading in a military unit and a story by Elena Milashina about infections rising in a small area of Chechnya. 

      • White House Health Experts Warn Pandemic Is Entering “New Phase”

        Health experts within the White House issued a grave warning over the weekend, stating that “we are in a new phase,” with the novel coronavirus spreading beyond city centers and entering rural areas.

      • Poll Reveals Surge of Fears Over In-Person Learning as Expert Warns School Reopenings in US ‘Guaranteed’ To Fail

        Widespread concern comes as data predicts inevitable Covid-19 spread in schools and communities that do open for in-person instruction and amid outbreaks in schools that have already re-opened.

      • Abkhazia’s deputy health ministry says reopening border with Russia risks healthcare system’s collapse

        The deputy health minister of the breakaway Republic of Abkhazia, Alkhas Kondzhariya, warned over the weekend that the decision to reopen the border with Russia on August 1 will increase the spread of coronavirus. 

      • Trump’s Withdrawal From WHO: a Cover-Up for His Abject Failure on COVID-19

        Microbes do not recognize borders. We are all safe only when everybody is safe. In a pandemic, to attack the only body we have for global cooperation endangers everyone. That is why the U.S. withdrawal from the World Health Organization (WHO) is dangerous not only for the United States, but for all of the world.

      • Cannabis, Lies and Foreign Cash: A Mother and Daughter’s Journey Through the Underground Mask Trade

        Her friend and some other ganjapreneurs were buzzing over a potentially huge payday. They had in their possession a $34.5 million purchase order from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. A contractor hired by the VA to provide 6 million N95 respirators to the nation’s largest hospital system had searched for weeks but found none of the potentially life-saving masks. So he had reached out far and wide for help, offering to cut in anyone who could help him finance, purchase and deliver masks by his deadline.

      • Their Heroes and Ours: California’s Health Care Crisis

        Patients and visitors to Sutter Health’s shiny new hospital in Santa Rosa, Calif., are greeted with large banners, “Heroes Work Here.” This no doubt is true. At Kaiser Permanente’s hospitals we learn much the same, the giant HMO has awarded itself Five Stars for service. And this of course is all about Covid 19.

      • A Wrong Message for the Pandemic

        Public health messages addressed to the general population should be clear and unambiguous. This is particularly important in times of a pandemic like that caused by the coronavirus. Millions of lives are at stake. One of the messages, “social distancing,” widely used by public health authorities during the present pandemic, exemplifies this shortcoming. It should be replaced by “physical distancing.”

      • Congressional Republicans Use COVID Relief as a Pawn in Fight for Power

        “April is the cruelest month,” T.S. Eliot wrote. He was right about last April, but if the numbers hold — and alas, there is no reason to think they won’t — the August before us promises to leave the cruelty of springtime in deep, dark shade.

      • White House Testing Czar Says It’s Time to “Move On” From Hydroxychloroquine

        President Donald Trump’s COVID-19 “testing czar” has implied it’s time for the commander in chief and other officials to stop promoting hydroxychloroquine, an anti-malarial drug, as a possible treatment for coronavirus.

      • Should we bypass phase 3 trials of a COVID-19 vaccine?

        As the pandemic continues to rage out of control in the US, naturally attention has turned to the possibility of a vaccine against COVID-19. Indeed, even a couple of months ago, I expressed concern that “Operation Warp Speed,” the program promoted by the Trump Administration to speed the release of a coronavirus vaccine, might be moving too fast, to the point that safety might be compromised. The problem with the imperative to develop a vaccine as rapidly as possible in order to halt the pandemic and allow life to go back to more or less normal is so powerful that it can even affect people who should know better, people that I otherwise admire, even. I’m referring to this Tweet that I saw yesterday from Steve Salzberg:

      • Black Lives Depend on the U.S. Dietary Guidelines

        Don’t water them down.

      • As Trump Promises ‘Warp Speed’ Covid-19 Vaccine, Health Experts Caution Against Political Interference

        With the Trump campaign privately calling a pre-election Covid-19 vaccine “the holy grail,” researchers are fearful of White House intervention in vaccine trials.

      • Melbourne’s ‘State of Disaster’ Is Covid as Usual in the US

        The Australian state of Victoria declared a “state of disaster” over Covid-19 on Sunday, August 2, sending the nation’s second-most-populous region, which includes the city of Melbourne, back into a strict lockdown. Nonessential businesses will be closed for the next six weeks, the government has imposed a nightly 8 pm curfew, and during daylight hours, trips outside the house are strictly limited: In metropolitan Melbourne, only one person per household will be allowed to leave their homes at any time to pick up essential goods, and no one can travel more than five kilometers from their home. “Where you slept last night is where you’ll need to stay for the next six weeks,” declared Victoria premier Daniel Andrews (CNN, 8/2/20).

      • The second pandemic: Pollution

        Despite the daily morbidity counts of COVID-19 deaths, other indicators reported that lives had been saved through reduced economic activity. It should be remembered that, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), air pollution is responsible for the premature death of 5 to 9 million people a year in the world. Yet it’s been reported that greenhouse gas emissions and pollution have fallen sharply in the major industrial regions, by 30 to 40% in China, Northern Italy, Paris, and more widely in Europe. Marshall Burke of Stanford University has attempted to quantify how decreased pollution in China has influenced the reduction in mortality, and estimates that two months of confinement reduced the excess mortality due to pollution by about 75,000 individuals. History offers examples of large-scale crises that interrupted ordinary polluting activities. During the Second World War, for example, it again became possible to catch salmon in the River Seine even though these fish had been gone for at least 50 years.

      • For richer and poorer, Uncle Sam’s coronavirus response widened the gulf

        The Fed’s moves clearly widened the gulf between rich and poor, said Casey B. Mulligan, the former chief economist for Trump’s White House Council of Economic Advisers.

      • Canada Sends Patrols to ‘Prevent Caravans of Americans’ From Surging Across the Border

        According to NPR, “Canadian border patrol has effectively prevented caravans of Americans” from crossing the border. Most are arriving by sailboats and luxury yachts.

        Those crossing the border have often told officials that they are heading to Alaska to circumvent the new regulations. But because so many Americans are using the so-called “Alaska loophole,” authorities have increased restrictions.

        One reason Americans are being spotted is that Canadian boaters are using technology to monitor them. With the requirement that all passenger boats have to be equipped with tracking devices to help prevent weather-related accidents, anyone with an internet connection can monitor border-crossings and identify vessels by type and country of origin.

      • Americans, Go Home: Canadians Track U.S. Boaters Sneaking Across The Border

        Since then, Canada’s border patrol has effectively prevented caravans of Americans — and their RVs and their campers — from surging across the border as they normally do each summer.

      • Thyroid Patents

        The thyroid is a bilobal gland located at the base of the neck and produces essential hormones for metabolic control in the human body. Affecting nearly fifty-million Americans, thyroid disease has become a ubiquitous cause for symptoms including depression, anxiety, and heart disease. Yet, while the healthcare law literature is visibly scaling, the research relating to patents for cures to thyroid diseases is completely uncharted.

        As such, this article offers the first empirical review for Thyroid Patents. First, this Article discusses and explains the thyroid gland’s hormonal feedback loop, common diseases, available technologies, and treatment options. Second, this Article introduces the Thyroid Patent Dataset, contributing empirical patent analysis to literature, and further providing legal claims critique and damages calculation guidelines. In short, this Article explores the thyroid gland’s intersection with patent law to promote knowledge in human health and prompt innovation for biotechnology.

    • Integrity/Availability

      • Proprietary

        • EFF and ACLU Tell Federal Court that Forensic Software Source Code Must Be Disclosed

          Can secret software be used to generate key evidence against a criminal defendant? In an amicus filed ten days ago with the United States District Court of the Western District of Pennsylvania, EFF and the ACLU of Pennsylvania explain that secret forensic technology is inconsistent with criminal defendants’ constitutional rights and the public’s right to oversee the criminal trial process. Our amicus in the case of United States v. Ellis also explains why source code, and other aspects of forensic software programs used in a criminal prosecution, must be disclosed in order to ensure that innocent people do not end up behind bars, or worse—on death row.

          The Constitution guarantees anyone accused of a crime due process and a fair trial. Embedded in those foundational ideals is the Sixth Amendment right to confront the evidence used against you. As the Supreme Court has recognized, the Confrontation Clause’s central purpose was to ensure that evidence of a crime was reliable by subjecting it to rigorous testing and challenges. This means that defendants must be given enough information to allow them to examine and challenge the accuracy of evidence relied on by the government.

        • Powershell Bot with Multiple C2 Protocols

          I spotted another interesting Powershell script. It’s a bot and is delivered through a VBA macro that spawns an instance of msbuild.exe This Windows tool is often used to compile/execute malicious on the fly (I already wrote a diary about this technique[1]). I don’t have the original document but based on a technique used in the macro, it is part of a Word document. It calls Document_ContentControlOnEnter[2]: [...]

        • FBI Used Information From An Online Forum Hacking To Track Down One Of The Hackers Behind The Massive Twitter Attack

          As Mike reported last week, the DOJ rounded up three alleged participants in the massive Twitter hack that saw dozens of verified accounts start tweeting out promises to double the bitcoin holdings of anyone who sent bitcoin to a certain account.

        • Twitter Expects to Pay 9-Figure Fine for Violating FTC Agreement

          That means that the complaint is not related to last month’s high-profile [cr]ack of prominent accounts on the service. That security incident saw accounts from the likes of Joe Biden and Elon Musk ask followers to send them bitcoin. A suspect was arrested in the incident last month.

        • Twitter Expects to Pay Up to $250 Million in FTC Fine Over Alleged Privacy Violations

          Twitter disclosed that it anticipates being forced to pay an FTC fine of $150 million to $250 million related to alleged violations over the social network’s use of private data for advertising.

          The company revealed the expected scope of the fine in a 10-Q filing with the SEC. Twitter said that on July 28 it received a draft complaint from the Federal Trade Commission alleging the company violated a 2011 consent order, which required Twitter to establish an information-security program designed to “protect non-public consumer information.”

          “The allegations relate to the Company’s use of phone number and/or email address data provided for safety and security purposes for targeted advertising during periods between 2013 and 2019,” Twitter said in the filing.

        • Apple removes more than 26,000 games from China app store

          Apple pulled 29,800 apps from its China app store on Saturday, including more than 26,000 games, according to Qimai Research Institute.

          The removals are in response to Beijing’s crackdown on unlicensed games, which started in June and intensified in July, Bloomberg reported. This brings an end to the unofficial practice of letting games be published while awaiting approval from Chinese censors.

        • Intuit Agrees to Buy Singapore Inventory Software Maker

          Intuit will pay more than $80 million for TradeGecko, according to people familiar with the matter, marking one of the biggest exits in Singapore since the Covid-19 pandemic. TradeGecko has raised more than $20 million to date from investors including Wavemaker Partners, Openspace Ventures and Jungle Ventures.

        • Justice Department Is Scrutinizing Takeover of Credit Karma by Intuit, Maker of TurboTax

          The probe comes after ProPublica first reported in February that antitrust experts viewed the deal as concerning because it could allow a dominant firm to eliminate a competitor with an innovative business model. Intuit already dominates online tax preparation, with a 67% market share last year. The article sparked letters from Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., and Rep. David Cicilline, D-R.I., urging the DOJ to investigate further. Cicilline is chair of the House Judiciary Committee’s antitrust subcommittee.

        • Pseudo-Open Source

          • Privatisation/Privateering

            • Linux Foundation

              • As IoT Continues to Evolve, LF Edge Explores the Edge Continuum in a New White Paper

                Earlier this month, LF Edge, an umbrella organization under The Linux Foundation, published a white paper updating the industry on their continued ecosystem collaboration. LF Edge brings together projects within the Foundation, that “aims to establish an open, interoperable framework for edge computing independent of hardware, silicon, cloud, or operating system.”

        • Security

          • Uniting for better open-source security: The Open Source Security Foundation

            Eric S. Raymond, one of open-source’s founders, famously said, “Given enough eyeballs, all bugs are shallow,” which he called “Linus’s Law.” That’s true. It’s one of the reasons why open-source has become the way almost everyone develops software today. That said, it doesn’t go far enough. You need expert eyes hunting and fixing bugs and you need coordination to make sure you’re not duplicating work.

            [...]

            “We believe open source is a public good and across every industry, we have a responsibility to come together to improve and support the security of open-source software we all depend on,” concluded Jim Zemlin, The Linux Foundation’s executive director. “Ensuring open-source security is one of the most important things we can do and it requires all of us around the world to assist in the effort. The OpenSSF will provide that forum for a truly collaborative, cross-industry effort.”

          • Linux Foundation announces Open Source Security Foundation

            The Linux Foundation has announced the formation of the Open Source Security Foundation (OpenSSF). The foundation aims to improve the security of open source software.

          • The Linux Foundation announces collective to enhance open source software security

            “We believe open source is a public good and across every industry we have a responsibility to come together to improve and support the security of open source software we all depend on,” said Jim Zemlin, executive director at The Linux Foundation in a press release. “Ensuring open source security is one of the most important things we can do, and it requires all of us around the world to assist in the effort. The OpenSSF will provide that forum for a truly collaborative, cross-industry effort.”

            According to The Linux Foundation, an array of contributors are involved in the open-source software development process and, as a result, “it is important that those responsible for their user or organization’s security are able to understand and verify the security of this dependency chain.” The creation of the OpenSSF is designed to unite leading open-source security projects with the individuals and organizations that support these initiatives.

            The Linux Foundation’s Core Infrastructure Initiative (CII), which was created following the Heartbleed bug, is one such open-source security program brought into the fold with the creation of OpenSSF. Others include GitHub Security Lab’s Open Source Security Coalition.

          • New Open Source Security Foundation wants to improve open source software security

            It combines efforts from the Core Infrastructure Initiative, GitHub’s Open Source Security Coalition and other open source security work from founding governing board members GitHub, Google, IBM, JPMorgan Chase, Microsoft, NCC Group, OWASP Foundation and Red Hat, among others. Additional founding members include ElevenPaths, GitLab, HackerOne, Intel, Okta, Purdue, SAFECode, StackHawk, Trail of Bits, Uber and VMware.

            Open source software has become pervasive in data centers, consumer devices and services, representing its value among technologists and businesses alike. Because of its development process, open source that ultimately reaches end users has a chain of contributors and dependencies. It is important that those responsible for their user or organization’s security are able to understand and verify the security of this dependency chain.

            The OpenSSF brings together the industry’s most important open source security initiatives and the individuals and companies that support them. The Linux Foundation’s Core Infrastructure Initiative (CII), founded in response to the 2014 Heartbleed bug, and the Open Source Security Coalition, founded by the GitHub Security Lab, are just a couple of the projects that will be brought together under the new OpenSSF.

          • DNS configuration recommendations for IPFire users

            If you are familiar with IPFire, you might have noticed DNSSEC validation is mandatory, since it defeats entire classes of attacks. We receive questions like “where is the switch to turn off DNSSEC” on a regular basis, and to say it once and for all: There is none, and there will never be one. If you are running IPFire, you will be validating DNSSEC. Period.

            Another question frequently asked is why IPFire does not support filtering DNS replies for certain FQDNs, commonly referred to as a Response Policy Zone (RPZ). This is because an RPZ does what DNSSEC attempts to secure users against: Tamper with DNS responses. From the perspective of a DNSSEC-validating system, a RPZ will just look like an attacker (if the queried FQDN is DNSSEC-signed, which is what we strive for as much of them as possible), thus creating a considerable amount of background noise. Obviously, this makes detecting ongoing attacks very hard, most times even impossible – the haystack to search just becomes too big.

            Further, it does not cover direct connections to hardcoded IP addresses, which is what some devices and attackers usually do, as it does not rely on DNS to be operational and does not leave any traces. Using an RPZ will not make your network more secure, it just attempts to cover up the fact that certain devices within it cannot be trusted.

            Back to DNSSEC: In case the queried FQDNs are signed, forged DNS replies are detected since they do not match the RRSIG records retrieved for that domain. Instead of being transparently redirected to a fradulent web server, the client will only display a error message to its user, indicating a DNS lookup failure. Large-scale attacks by returning forged DNS replies are frequently observed in the wild (the DNSChanger trojan is a well-known example), which is why you want to benefit from validating DNSSEC and more and more domains being signed with it.

          • Security updates for Tuesday

            Security updates have been issued by Debian (libx11, webkit2gtk, and zabbix), Fedora (webkit2gtk3), openSUSE (claws-mail, ghostscript, and targetcli-fb), Red Hat (dbus, kpatch-patch, postgresql-jdbc, and python-pillow), Scientific Linux (libvncserver and postgresql-jdbc), SUSE (kernel and python-rtslib-fb), and Ubuntu (ghostscript, sqlite3, squid3, and webkit2gtk).

          • Official 1Password Linux App is Available for Testing

            An official 1Password Linux app is on the way, and brave testers are invited to try an early development preview.

            1Password is a user-friendly (and rather popular) cross-platform password manager. It provides mobile apps and browser extensions for Windows, macOS, Android, iOS, Google Chrome, Edge, Firefox — and now a dedicated desktop app for Linux, too.

          • FBI Warns of Increased DDoS Attacks

            The Federal Bureau of Investigation warned in a “private industry notification” last week that attackers are increasingly using amplification techniques in distributed denial-of-service attacks. There has been an uptick in attack attempts since February, the agency’s Cyber Division said in the alert.
            An amplification attack occurs when attackers send a small number of requests to a server and the server responds with numerous responses. The attackers spoof the IP address to make it look like the requests are coming from a specific victim, and the resulting responses overwhelms the victim’s network.

            “Cyber actors have exploited built-in network protocols, designed to reduce computation overhead of day-to-day system and operational functions to conduct larger and more destructive distributed denial-of-service amplification attacks against US networks,” the FBI alert said. Copies of the alert were posted online by several recipients, including threat intelligence company Bad Packets.

          • NSA issues BootHole mitigation guidance

            Following the disclosure of a widespread buffer-flow vulnerability that could affect potentially billions of Linux and Windows-based devices, the National Security Agency issued a follow-up cybersecurity advisory highlighting the bug and offering steps for mitigation.

            The vulnerability — dubbed BootHole — impacts devices and operating systems that use signed versions of the open-source GRUB2 bootloader software found in most Linux systems. It also affects any system or device using Secure Boot — a root firmware interface responsible for validating the booting process — with Microsoft’s standard third party certificate authority. The vulnerability enables attackers to bypass Secure Boot to allow arbitrary code execution and “could be used to install persistent and stealthy bootkits,” NSA said in a press statement.

          • Privacy/Surveillance

            • Leaked database with a million Moscow motorists’ personal information is now for sale online

              Someone is auctioning off a database containing the leaked personal information of a million Moscow motorists, according to the newspaper Kommersant. The data, spread over several Excel files, were recorded sometime last year. The information includes vehicle registration dates, license plate numbers, makes and models, manufacture dates, registration regions, VIN codes, vehicle certificates of title, and individuals’ full names, telephone numbers, and birthdates.

            • More Than 1,000 Companies Boycotted Facebook. Did It Work?

              The 100 advertisers that spent the most on Facebook in the first half of the year spent $221.4 million from July 1 through July 29, 12 percent less than the $251.4 million spent by the top 100 advertisers a year earlier, according to estimates from the advertising analytics platform Pathmatics. Of those 100, nine companies formally announced a pullback in paid advertising, cutting their spending to $507,500 from $26.2 million.

            • TikTok App’s Data Snooping Similar to Facebook or Snapchat, Cyber Expert Says

              According to the analyst’s report, the aims were simple: to find out what data TikTok was logging after being downloaded on a device, and where that data is sent.

              The researcher found that the app directs log content to its servers every five minutes, holding information about the user’s device (type of phone and if it runs Android or iOS, for example), language, region of use, app build number and ID codes.

              “While that might sound surprising to you, it really isn’t,” he wrote, reiterating that other social smartphone apps are similar. “Such practice is pretty standard and you can be assured that most apps you use have the same data-retrieval process.”

    • Defence/Aggression

      • Sweden: Death of girl, 12, ignites debate over gang [sic] violence

        Twenty people have been killed in 163 shootings in the first six months of 2020, according to police data. In 2019, 42 people were killed in 334 reported shootings.

      • The Resistible Rise of Nuclear Gangsters…and Their Downfall

        It would be tempting to describe last week’s nuclear scandals — in three states — as something out of the Wild West. But Al Capone’s Chicago would be a more accurate analogy.

      • Another Hiroshima Is Coming… Unless We Stop It Now

        In a major essay to mark the 75th anniversary of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima, John Pilger describes reporting from  five ‘ground zeros’ for nuclear weapons – from Hiroshima to Bikini, Nevada to Polynesia and Australia. He warns that unless we take action now, China is next.

      • Special Guest Peter Kuznick – Bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki by U.S. Forces – The Project Censored Show
      • [Old] Leaflets Warning Japanese of Atomic Bomb

        Leaflets dropped on cities in Japan warning civilians about the atomic bomb, dropped c. August 6, 1945.

      • [Old] See a Leaflet Dropped on Japanese Cities Right Before World War II Ended

        But, as their B-29 approached its target, the code to abort (the word “Utah”) did not come. It was not until after they had carried out their original orders, after the bombs had been dropped, that the code word came.

      • ISIS and the Militant Jihad on Instagram

        Most research on the impact of Instagram focuses on the different communities that exist on Instagram. While some communities, such as those promoting body positivity among young women,[10] bond users together through prosocial means, other communities allow users to unite in promotion of maladaptive behaviors such as self-harm[11] and excessive reassurance-seeking.[12] Because terrorist recruitment online involves aspects of marketing as well as promotion of maladaptive behavior, some studies of Instagram can be applied to its utility for terrorist recruitment and opportunities for preventing and countering radicalization. For instance, a 2016 study of Dutch teenagers and young adults found that while young people were more likely to express negative emotion on Facebook and Twitter, they were more likely to express positive emotion on Instagram. However, they were most likely to express any emotion, positive or negative, on WhatsApp, likely due to its double-ended encryption that makes users feel that their expressions are more private and secure. The authors of the study concluded that users felt stronger ties to Facebook friends (a reciprocal relationship) than to Instagram followers (a non-reciprocal relationship), thus enabling them to disclose more private negative emotions.[13] These results suggest that Instagram may be an effective platform to attract the initial attention of targets for counter radicalization, but they should be then redirected to a platform that allows for more freedom to express negative emotions and the potential to build a more personal relationship. Whether or not ISIS has learned this yet is unknown, but the results nevertheless provide lessons for counter narrative campaigning and suggest that attracting attention on Instagram may be possible, but moving the viewer to a platform where more intimate relations and fears, doubts, and needs can be expressed and hopefully answered in a way that redirects the user away from violent extremism would be beneficial.

      • More than 20 killed after Islamic State storm Afghan jail

        After detonating a car bomb at the entrance on Sunday evening, IS gunmen overran the prison where many IS militants captured during a campaign in the past month were being held, along with Taliban fighters and common criminals.

        Of the 1793 prisoners, just over 1000 had tried to escape and been recaptured and 430 had remained inside the prison. More than 300 prisoners were still at large on Monday, the governor’s spokesman said.

      • Islamic State group claims deadly attack on Afghanistan prison

        The attack, claimed by the Islamic State group (IS), began on Sunday evening when car bombs were detonated at the prison’s entrance by gunmen.

        Eight of the attackers were killed in a battle lasting almost 20 hours, a Nangarhar province spokesman said.

        As many as 300 inmates are believed to be still on the run.

      • Stop-gap solutions for Syrians without papers

        Millions of Syrians have spent years in parts of the country not controlled by President Bashar al-Assad’s government, and as births, deaths, marriages, and property transfers continue, they have had these events recorded by whatever stop-gap bureaucratic solutions local authorities can offer.

        Over nine and a half years of war, rebel councils, private lawyers, mayors, religious leaders, insurgent commanders, and a variety of self-declared governments have all tried to issue their own ID cards, birth certificates and other documents, hoping to bring a sense of structure to life in the areas they rule, and help locals access humanitarian aid.

        “Let’s say I’m a displaced person in Idlib and I want to have an aid box from an NGO,” explained Mazin al-Balkhi, who, when interviewed by The New Humanitarian in 2018, worked with the International Legal Assistance Consortium (ILAC), a Stockholm-based NGO that seeks to promote the rule of law in conflict zones.

        “I could go to their headquarters and say I have 10 children – but I only have one child. How do they know that? They ask me for [documents],” al-Balkhi told TNH.

        Paperwork created in rebel-controlled regions may be able to help in situations like the one al-Balkhi mentioned, but the truth is it has limited utility, and government-issued papers remain the gold standard, accepted all over Syria as well as outside the country.

    • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

      • US Government Employees View Dissent Channels As Risky And A ‘Waste Of Time’

        Federal agency employees largely view dissent channels as a “waste of time” and fear they will face retaliation if used, according to a report from the Project on Government Oversight (POGO). “There appear to be few public success stories where use of dissent channels led to change or factored into a serious reconsideration of policies,” POGO adds. All too often, there are examples of how whistleblowers who go through “proper channels” in the federal government face retaliation. POGO’s report, “Stifling Dissent: How the Federal Government’s Channels for Challenging Policies from Within Fall Short,” examines another dimension of what happens to employees or contractors, who use dissent channels specifically established for registering their objections.  “The report found that the existing channels at the State Department and other agencies are underutilized, and that the systems don’t provide sufficient incentives or protections for employees,” POGO declared in a press release. POGO also contended, “At a time when the White House is explicitly hostile toward career government experts, it’s clear that federal workers need more effective, independent channels for constructively criticizing policy decisions and need better protections for expressing policy dissent.”Through agency and court records, interviews with “former career civil servants and political appointees,” and previously unpublished information, POGO outlined the use of dissent channels at the State Department, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), the Energy Department, and the Food and Drug Administration’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research. Dissent channels are “formal avenues within an organization to express their professional concerns about an agency policy or policy proposal.” A dissenter’s policy disclosure may be protected under civil service whistleblower law, but as POGO notes, an employee or contractor has to prove the “impropriety” of the policy is not “debatable among reasonable people,” which is a “very high bar.”

        There is an entirely separate process for potential whistleblowers, and the lack of protection for those who use dissent channels may limit the ability of someone with political differences to obtain whistleblower protections when they are not really blowing the whistle on corruption. On the other hand, without statutory protections that cover dissent, it is probably very easy for senior officials to root out individuals who challenge their decision-making.

      • Another fake Pelosi video goes viral on Facebook

        Facebook did not remove the new video on Sunday either, meaning it can still be viewed on the platform but a warning label has been placed on it. Videos marked false are also promoted less by Facebook’s algorithms, the company says. Facebook said it will also send a notification to people who shared the video to flag the fact check.

        That the video was viewed so many times will likely prompt renewed scrutiny of policies on misinformation. The earlier manipulated Pelosi video prompted similar scrutiny.

      • Trump Lied for Five Uninterrupted Minutes About Mail-in Voting During Virus Briefing

        After Trump specifically pointed towards OAN’s Chanel Rion, making sure he promoted the network that trolls in conspiracy theories by saying its call letters aloud, Rion then asked the president if he would issue an executive order regarding mail-in ballots. What sort of executive order and for what reason, Rion did not say, nor does she likely care. She accomplished what she wanted—teeing-up Trump and allowing him to spew falsities about the non-issue.

    • Environment

    • Finance

      • Take on the Tech Mob Now or Perish

        Six months into a global pandemic, the US economy just took its most grievous hit on record, while Amazon, Apple, Google and Facebook only added wealth.

      • Bipartisan Support for Wall Street, Crumbs for Main Street

        On Friday, the enhanced unemployment program, which has been a lifeline for millions of Americans during the current economic crisis, expired. There is no consensus in Washington to replace it. The Democrats are eager for a renewal, but Republicans have promised only a temporary, one-week extension.

      • Renouncing White Privilege: A Left Critique of Robin DiAngelo’s “White Fragility”

        Whatever may have been her intentions, Robin DiAngelo’s White Fragility is only of very limited value in helping us understand racism and actually conceals and defends our American white supremacist system of capitalism. Even a casual look at White Fragility demonstrates this. DiAngelo’s final chapter, “Where Do We Go From Here,” – her prescription for well-meaning whites – deals exclusively with inter-racial relations at the level of individuals, and not at all with challenging our white supremacist socio-economic structure. We can be nice and understanding and empathetic to black people and, especially, self-aware of our own white privilege, while the white supremacist structures of American society – housing, health care, education, jobs, policing – continue to keep black people down. DiAngelo is a white liberal and, consciously or subconsciously, she posits a comfortable anti-racism, a kinder and gentler racism, leaving intact the white supremacist socio-economic order in which white “safety” lies.

      • Republican Senators Commit Political Suicide by Holding Up Stimulus in Election Year

        Republicans are always destructive and regressive, both aggressively anti-people and anti-planet, if not individually, then certainly as a party.

      • Brute Force Approach to Economic Reopening by GOP Benefits Reckless CEOs But Endangers Workers

        A Republican proposal would give corporate CEOs a five-year get out of jail free card for jeopardizing the health and safety of their workers while threatening the overall economic recovery. 

      • Bigger cars make bigger profits, but only for a few

        Manufacturers who promote bigger cars earn more but harm efforts to cut carbon emissions and reduce unhealthy air.

      • Cornel West and Richard Wolff talk about Capitalism and White Supremacy
      • US Cold War China Policy Will Isolate the US, Not China

        The U.S. must stop pursuing its counterproductive effort to undermine China, and instead work with all our neighbors on this small planet.

      • Should the World Boycott the 2022 Beijing Olympics?

        The Olympics are experiencing an existential crisis. The coronavirus has knocked back the Tokyo Games a full year. There’s an upsurge of athlete activism among Olympians who view the International Olympic Committee’s rule prohibiting political dissent at the Games as out of step with the times. Fewer cities are competing to host future Games, in part thanks to activist movements that keep popping up in potential host cities to challenge the Olympic machine.

      • Manhattan DA Seeks Trump’s Tax Returns to Investigate Possible Fraud

        Documents filed on Monday in a high-profile legal case centered on President Donald Trump’s taxes revealed that the investigation is likely searching for evidence of banking or insurance fraud performed by the former business mogul.

      • Trump’s Millionaire Treasury Secretary Uses Debunked GOP Talking Point to Justify Slashing $600 Unemployment Boost

        “Inflicting suffering on tens of millions of Americans by cutting unemployment benefits because of an anecdotal ‘some cases’ argument that has been refuted again and again is a stupid way to make policy.”

      • Comparing Poverty in India and America May Surprise You

        Being poor is much more than the lack of money and possessions.

      • Mnuchin Justifies Slashing $600 Unemployment Boost With Debunked Talking Point

        Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin on Sunday recycled a debunked right-wing talking point to justify the GOP’s proposal to cut by more than half the $600-per-week federal boost in unemployment benefits that expired at the end of last week, depriving around 30 million Americans of a key economic lifeline as joblessness remains at historic levels.

      • The Plunge in Consumption of Services Leads to a Record 32.9 Percent Drop in GDP

        The saving rate hit a record 25.7 percent level in the first quarter, indicating that few of the pandemic checks were spent.

      • Oligarchy and Democracy From the Civil War to the Present

        Yes, the Civil War brought an end to the slave order of the South and the rule of the plantation oligarchs who embodied white supremacy. But the Northern victory was short lived — Southern ideals spread quickly to the West.

      • Banks say they are tightening lending standards even as demand for money falls
      • Call for ‘Emergency Charity Stimulus’ as Billionaire Wealth Soars and US Nonprofits Sink

        Mandating an increase of giving from charitable funds, says one advocate, “would move an estimated $200 billion off the sidelines and into front-line working charities without increasing taxes or adding to the deficit.”

      • Sanders Rips Trump for ‘Obscene’ Boasting Over Stock Market as 30 Million Americans Face Financial Doom

        “One hundred fifty thousand coronavirus deaths, 30 million without an unemployment lifeline, five million newly uninsured, 14 million children going hungry. But Trump is too busy playing golf and boasting about the stock market.”

      • The improbable marriage of popcorn and movie theatres (no break-up anticipated)

        A cottage industry on the internet has pondered the fate of the move theatre in a Covid-19 world, including this Kat, here. What is most notable is the seemingly ineluctable linking of a coronavirus-darkened movie theatre with the absence of the aroma of hot, fresh popcorn. Copyright and related IP laws may protect movie contents from unauthorized use, but it is popcorn that has facilitated the business proposition of screening movies in a darkened, enclosed theatre. How did this marriage come about?

        As recounted by Natasha Geiling, here, thousands of years before there were movie theatres there was maize. Hundreds of years before there were movie theatres, there was a strain of maize that we now call popcorn. And a century before there were movie theatres, especially in the eastern part of North America, popcorn was being popped and consumed with great enthusiasm by enthralled eaters.

        Geiling reports that by 1848 the word “popcorn” already enjoyed its own dictionary entry. Popcorm was sold in such public and outdoor venues as fairs, circuses, and later, sporting events, aided by the fact that, in 1885, the first steam-powered popcorn maker hit the streets, invented by Charles Cretor. The popcorn street vendor became a familiar sight.

        [...]

        While a variety of forces have conspired against movie theatres since the 1950’s, what has not changed is the economic role that popcorn continues to play. How significant? Consider the observation, here (Wikipedia), by Stuart Hanson, a film historian, that- “one of the great jokes in the industry is that popcorn is second only to cocaine or heroin in terms of profit.” Or, as captured in the title of a 2016 article in The Telegraph, as referred to on Wikipedia, “Why a trip to the cinema can cost up to £100″ (Wikipedia).

        [...]

        Researchers have framed this dynamic in terms of price discrimination. Assuming a price of $10.00 for each of the ticket and a bucket of popcorn, respectively, the movie goer can then better decide how much the movie theatre experience is worth to him or her. If the “full” price of the ticket were charged, this option may not exist, at least for some.

        As researcher Richard Gil observed on thehustle.co. (see also here)—
        There is a wide dispersion in willingness to pay for a movie experience. How much a customer values her movie experience is positively correlated with her valuation of concession consumption.
        Maybe “yes”, maybe “no”. Much may depend on whether one goes to the cinema with a 10-year old, who is already taking in the aroma of the popcorn as she hands over the ticket. Still, it is food for thought.

        [The paragraphs quoted from thehustle.co have been consolidated in places for ease of display.]

        By Neil Wilkof

        Picture on top left is from the Australian War Memorial collection and was originally posted to Flickr’s The Commons, which has determined that no known copyright restrictions exist.

    • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

      • Chesa Boudin: Reformer in the San Francisco DA’s Office

        Only time will tell whether Chesa Boudin, the current San Francisco DA, really walks the walk and talks the talk in the tradition  of legendary DA Terence Hallinan. But after six months in office—he took over in January 2020—Boudin is off to a good start. Hallinan, who died on January 17, 2020, would surely approve of him.

      • Russia’s electoral testing ground Welcome to Novosibirsk, where multiple opposition parties are battling for real power and setting the stage for Russia’s nationwide elections

        In Russia’s Novosibirsk region, not one but two opposition groups are building up a serious challenge to the ruling party. One of them, the Communist Party (KPRF), is part of what’s known as the systemic opposition — it’s recognized by the Russian government and permitted to hold elected seats across the country. In fact, the KPRF currently controls Novosibirsk City Hall: Communist Mayor Anatoly Lokot is leading a push for the party to gain power region-wide. Meanwhile, a non-systemic opposition coalition called Novosibirsk 2020 is mounting a challenge without state recognition. Its leader, Sergey Boyko, is the head of Alexey Navalny’s local headquarters. Both groups have accused each other of working secretly with their dominant rival United Russia, led by Governor Andrey Travnikov. Meduza special correspondent Andrey Pertsev traveled to Novosibirsk to see how Russia’s ruling party and its multifaceted opposition are handling this unusually competitive race, rehearsing the tactics they’ll use in the 2021 State Duma elections nationwide.

      • AOC, Speaking Truth to Power
      • The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters

        Wake up, America, the signs of the police state loom large. Of course, for some, America has always been one; now, increasingly, they have the videos to prove it. But now it’s no longer only a matter of local law enforcement.

      • To Defeat Trump, Discredit His Movement, and Elect Progressives

        We, the undersigned democratic socialists, want to make clear that the priority for the left in 2020 should be the electoral defeat of Donald Trump and the Trumpist Republican Party in November. At present, the only way to accomplish that will be to vote for his Democratic opponent.

      • Hollow Resistance
      • Electoral Chaos Could Divide Us If Trump Refuses to Accept a Biden Victory

        As President Trump floats the idea of delaying the election, we speak with Nils Gilman, historian and co-founder of Transition Integrity Project, which organized a bipartisan group of experts to game out what a contested November election might look like. “In every scenario except for the one where Biden won in a landslide, we ended up with severe electoral contestation, protests in the streets, crazy stories happening on social media, and the challenges went down to Inauguration Day,” Gilman says.

      • Trump Proclaims Nevada Has Made It ‘Impossible’ for GOP to Win by Expanding Voting Rights During Pandemic

        “Trump and his allies have always been motivated by partisanship, even at the expense of American lives.”

      • Journalists Struggle for Press Freedoms in a Time of Repression and Surveillance

        Journalists have been violently targeted by police and arrested alongside demonstrators at Black Lives Matter protests across the country. In this episode we’ll look at the struggle for press freedoms during a time of repression and surveillance.

      • The Latest Targets Of DHS Surveillance Are Journalists Who Published Leaked Documents

        Is there anything the DHS can’t turn into a debacle while pretending to secure the homeland? It would appear it’s impossible for America’s least essential security agency to move forward without stepping in something.

      • DHS Obtained Protesters’ Encrypted Messages, Used Them To Craft ‘Intelligence’ Reports

        The more the DHS inserts itself into the ongoing civil unrest, the more unrestful it gets. President Trump sent his federal forces to Portland, Oregon — the first of many “democrat” cities the president feels are too violent/unrestful — to protect federal buildings from violent graffiti outbursts or whatever. When the DHS arrived — represented by the CBP, ICE, US Marshals, and other federal law enforcement — it announced its arrival with secret police tactics straight out of the Gestapo playbook.

      • “They Have No Evidence”: Moroccan Journalist Omar Radi Jailed, Surveilled After Criticizing Gov’t

        Award-winning journalist and human rights activist Omar Radi spoke to us from Casablanca on July 16. Two weeks later, on July 29, last Wednesday, Moroccan authorities arrested him on what press freedom advocates call “retaliatory charges.” Now a court has charged Radi with undermining state security by receiving foreign funding and collaborating with foreign intelligence, and also charged him with rape. He is reportedly being held in a prison that is a COVID hot spot, and has not been allowed to have visits from his lawyer or his parents. We feature our interview with Radi, which focuses in part on an Amnesty International report, published about one month before his arrest, that alleges Moroccan authorities hacked his phone using Pegasus spyware from the Israeli company NSO Group.

      • Two eldest sisters in Moscow patricide case will get jury trial

        The Moscow City Court has granted a motion by the lawyers of the two eldest Khachaturyan sisters, Krestina and Angelina, that their case is heard by a jury. The selection of this jury will begin on August 31, according to Krestina Khachaturyan’s lawyer.

      • “That’s How They Got Capone”: Filing by NY Prosecutors Indicates Broader Probe Into Alleged Trump Tax Fraud

        “This has to be how the story ends, right? With Trump going down for ‘illegally inflating his net worth’?”

      • What If Trump Refuses to Accept a Biden Victory? A Look at How Electoral Chaos Could Divide Nation

        As President Trump floats the idea of delaying the election, we speak with Nils Gilman, historian and co-founder of Transition Integrity Project, which organized a bipartisan group of experts to game out what a contested November election might look like. “In every scenario except for the one where Biden won in a landslide, we ended up with severe electoral contestation, protests in the streets, crazy stories happening on social media, and the challenges went down to Inauguration Day,” Gilman says.

      • Speaker Nancy Pelosi Writes to Me!

        Years ago, Elizabeth Brennan Moynihan told me about her disgust with the Democratic Party’s outside consultants. These consultants were not competent. They were arrogant, costly, and looking out first for their interests, not the candidates they were supposed to advance. She threw them out and personally took over her husband, Senator Daniel P. Moynihan’s successful re-election campaign.

      • Homeland Security Is Quietly Tying Antifa to Foreign Powers

        Department of Homeland Security (DHS) intelligence officials are targeting activists it considers “antifa” and attempting to tie them to a foreign power, according to a DHS intelligence report obtained exclusively by The Nation.

      • Voting Rights Activist LaTosha Brown: Trump Is Hellbent on Undermining Democracy to Win Reelection

        With President Trump trailing in most polls, he tweeted recently that he was floating the idea of delaying the November election — something he cannot legally do — and continued his attacks on mail-in voting. “We have a president who is probably the most fascist president that we’ve ever had in this country,” responds LaTosha Brown, co-founder of the Black Voters Matter Fund and the BVM Capacity Building Institute. “He is hellbent on pushing the boundaries, whatever he needs to do, to undermine and undercut democracy.”

      • Exiled Belarusian opposition candidate calls on 32 world leaders — but not Vladimir Putin — to support campaign against Lukashenko

        Valery Tsepkalo (Valeryy Tsapkala), one of two leading Belarusian oppositionists who’s been denied candidacy in the country’s upcoming presidential election, has addressed a letter to 32 heads of state calling on them to support “free and fair presidential elections in Belarus.” The news agencies Dozhd and Interfax have published excerpts from Tsepkalo’s text. 

      • What just happened and what’s next in Belarus? A rundown of the contentious presidential race, Lukashenko’s surprising struggles, and the likely post-election scenario
      • Many Americans Are Convinced Crime Is Rising In The U.S. They’re Wrong.

        Crime rates do fluctuate from year to year. In 2020, for example, murder has been up but other crimes are in decline so that the crime rate, overall, is down. And the trend line for violent crime over the last 30 years has been down, not up. The Bureau of Justice Statistics found that the rate of violent crimes per 1,000 Americans age 12 and older plummeted from 80 in 1993 to just 23 in 2018. The country has gotten much, much safer, but, somehow, Americans don’t seem to feel that on a knee-jerk, emotional level.

      • TikTok and Microsoft’s Clock

        While everyone keeps talking about the idea of China potentially having access to US TikTok user data, count me in the camp with Ben Thompson — this is at least somewhat of a red herring. It’s less the input we should be worried about here, and more the output.

        That is, TikTok’s true key is not what you may think it is because it is often bucketed with other social media apps. It’s not really a social media app at all. It’s a content network ruled by an algorithm. You know, like Netflix, but far more viral thanks to the length of the content and the UGC element. This also makes it far more dangerous if, say, a country wanted to tweak the dials to serve up certain types of content at certain times. Or hide other types.

        That’s the real issue here. The WSJ article on the deal has the following almost in passing:

        The proposed transaction gained the blessing of senior Trump officials, including Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, who saw value in an American company getting access to sophisticated TikTok algorithms that decide what videos users are served.

      • Trump Seeks TikTok Payment to U.S., Despite No Clear Authority

        The U.S. assesses fees associated with deals under review by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, or CFIUS, which investigates overseas acquisitions of U.S. businesses. But those charges — set on a sliding scale and going no higher than $300,000 — didn’t fit what Trump described.

      • Trump Backs Off TikTok Ban as Microsoft Deal Talks Continue, Warns App Will Be Shut Down by Sept. 15 If Not Sold

        President Trump will not try to immediately shut down TikTok as he had previously threatened but said the Chinese-owned app will be “out of business” by Sept. 15 in the U.S. if parent company ByteDance has not sold TikTok to Microsoft or another American [sic] company.

      • Trump Gives Microsoft 45 Days to Seal TikTok Deal

        In a statement, Microsoft confirmed that its chief executive officer, Satya Nadella, had spoken to Trump and was committed to acquiring the company by the stated deadline.

      • Top House Republicans request classified TikTok briefing

        Three top House Republicans are requesting a classified briefing from Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Chinese technology platforms including TikTok.

        “While we remain deeply concerned with TikTok, such concerns extend beyond the popular short-form video app,” House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.), Energy and Commerce ranking member Greg Walden (R-Ore.) and Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.) wrote in a letter Monday. “Accordingly, to learn more about such significant threats, we respectfully request a classified briefing on TikTok and other technology companies with purported ties to the CCP [Chinese Communist Party] at your earliest convenience.”

      • Trump says Microsoft should pay ‘key money’ to Treasury for facilitating TikTok deal

        “I think buying 30% is complicated, and I suggested that he can go ahead, he can try,” Trump told reporters in the Cabinet Room at the White House on Monday. He was referring to his conversation over the weekend with Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella. The comments come a day after Microsoft confirmed in a statement that it has looked at buying TikTok in the U.S., Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

    • Censorship/Free Speech

      • Days After FCC Commissioner Mike O’Rielly Suggests Trump’s Section 230 Exec Order Is Unconstitutional… His Renomination To The FCC Is Withdrawn

        Earlier today we wrote about how Ajit Pai was pushing ahead with the Commerce Department’s silly FCC petition regarding a re-interpretation of Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. We noted that it wouldn’t actually be that hard to just say that the whole thing is unconstitutional and outside of the FCC’s authority (which it is). Some people have pushed back on us saying that if Pai didn’t do this, Trump would fire him and promote some Trump stan to push through whatever unconstitutional nonsense is wanted.

      • Some T-mobile customers shadowbanned from texting after sending the word “belly” via SMS

        T-Mobile customers were being shadowbanned from sending SMS text messages for ten days because they sent the word “belly.” When shadowbanned, T-Mobile users receive no notice that they have been censored as their messages still seem like they’re going through, but nothing is received on the other end. As best as anyone can tell, this is a misconfiguration of T-Mobile’s anti-spam measures. Once a post highlighting the issue went up on the T-Mobile subreddit, many people were testing and confirming that they were unable to send the word “belly” though compound words with the offending word such as “underbelly” and “bellyrub” were just fine. T-Mobile hasn’t made any public statement about how widespread this error was. From the reports of those that were able to run into T-Mobile’s censorship fiasco, T-Mobile fixed the issue within a few hours.

      • Zoom has found a way to outsource censorship of its video calls in China

        The San Jose, Calif.-based company, founded by Chinese-American entrepreneur Eric Yuan, on Monday (August 3) said it will stop selling its services directly to mainland China-based users, and instead offer its video call services via partner platforms in the country. Previously, the company had been offering direct corporate accounts, as well as working with partners.

    • Freedom of Information/Freedom of the Press

      • Against the extradition of Julian Assange to the United States: Our right to know is his right to publish

        On the 1st of August at 6pm, the Courage Foundation in cooperation with DiEM25 continue the Europe-wide exhibition “We Are Millions” in Leipzig to draw attention to the possible extradition of Julian Assange to the USA.

        On the 7th of August, it will host a speaker, as well as performances and video installations in order to shed light on Assange’s case. He is current suffering of psychological torture contrary to human rights and the charges against this journalist are a threat to and restriction of freedom of the press.

      • Assange Legal Farce Continues

        I have reported already on the US changing the indictment after the defence’s opening statement had been heard and defence written evidence submitted. The latest legal twist in this Kafkaesque saga is that Julian may be released and instantly re-arrested under the new indictment.

        The USA and the Crown continue to argue that the charges remain the same, even if the indictment has changed. This is like being halfway through a trial for the murder of Stephanie, the defence having demolished the prosecution case, and they suddenly change the allegation from murdering Stephanie to murdering Peter, but say it makes no difference as it is still the same charge of murder. As I have catalogued the relentless cruelty and the contortions of reason in this case, a little bit of me keeps saying “they cannot get away with this”. But so far, they always do.

    • Civil Rights/Policing

      • Trump Wanted a Portland-Style War in Chicago. In a Second Term, He’ll Do It.

        Donald Trump isn’t the first president to fail on a grand scale, and he certainly isn’t the first to test the boundaries of the system to see what he can get away with. But he is unique in certain respects. The full panoply of grotesque personality defects and openly corrupt behaviors is something we’ve never seen before in someone who ascended to the most powerful office in the land. People will study this era for a very long time to try to figure out just what cultural conditions allowed such an advanced, wealthy nation to end up with such an ignorant, unqualified leader.

      • Trump Judges to Rule on Florida Poll Tax Case Despite Potential Ethical Conflict

        Betty Riddle is 62 years old, and she hopes to vote in a presidential election for the first time this year. She was ineligible to vote in previous election years because of felony convictions in the 1970s and 1980s. Riddle became eligible to register to vote last year, but a new state law required people to first pay outstanding court fines and fees, which totaled thousands of dollars for Riddle and many others.

      • Hong Kong’s Protesters Are Writing Their ‘Last Letters’

        The Nation and Magnum Foundation are partnering on a visual chronicle of untold stories of the coronavirus crisis and the struggle for racial justice—read more from The Invisible Front Line.  —The Editors

      • Free Joy Powell! America’s Political Prisoner for Fighting Police Brutality

        If you protest against police brutality in America, you are definitely going to get brutalized by the police. And lately, federal marshals, homeland security, ICE officers, and assorted militarized federal goons and thugs will pile on. If you led a movement against police brutality in Rochester, NY in 2006, like Rev. Joy Powell did, you will be set up on felony burglary and then murder charges, and spend a long time in prison—doing very hard time as a female, African-American, political prisoner. It’s important to make sure Rev. Powell’s story is out there, because she was in the forefront of the black effort to protest this most lethal form of white supremacy, and as the only political prisoner jailed for directly fighting police brutality, is paying dearly for it.

      • Moscow City Court overturns verdicts in case against prominent soccer players

        The Moscow City Court has overturned the verdicts handed down in one of the capital’s most controversial cases in the past two years. The decision revokes previous rulings that imprisoned two popular soccer players, as well as two other men, for assault.

      • When You Have Diabetes, Even a Routine Police Encounter Can Turn Fatal

        During the first week of protests sparked by the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, a video of a 20-year-old woman begging a police officer for her insulin moments after her arrest in Cincinnati went went viral on Twitter. As Alexis Wilkins recounted later in a phone interview, she and several friends were getting a ride home with a fellow protester when a police officer put a palm on the car to stop the driver. The young women were ordered to get out of the car and sit on the curb. Wilkins soon realized that her bag containing the supplies necessary to manage her Type 1 diabetes was still lying on the floor by the passenger’s seat. Having experienced an adrenaline rush after the protest, she had eaten a quick snack to bring her blood sugar back up, which would in turn need to be lowered again with a dose of insulin.

      • Rights Group Demands ICE End ‘Beyond Inhumane’ Detention and Deportations as Covid-19 Pandemic Intensifies

        At least 1,000 active Covid-19 cases have been detected in detention facilities, and continued deportations have been linked to outbreaks in Central and South America.

      • Accountability is Gone in America

        Whether you consider the appalling death toll or the equally unacceptable rising numbers of Covid-19 cases, the United States has one of the worst records worldwide when it comes to the pandemic. Nevertheless, the president has continued to behave just as he promised he would in March when there had been only 40 deaths from the virus here and he said, “I don’t take responsibility at all.”

      • Missing in Action: Accountability in Trump’s America

        All told, the U.S. president been a perfect model in deflecting all responsibility, even as the death toll soared over 150,000 with more than four million cases reported nationwide and no end in sight.

      • Yazidi population threatened from Afrin to Shengal

        The 74th Ferman was only six years ago and is one of the most terrible waves of persecution. On August 3, 2014 the ISIS invaded the region of Shengal, murdered, raped and sold women and girls on slave markets. The Yazidi Kurds remained resistant, defended themselves and expelled the ISIS from the Shengal region with the help of the People’s and Women’s Defense Units (YPG/YPJ) and the guerrilla force of the People’s Defense Forces (HPG) and Free Women’s Troops (YJA-Star) But the attacks of the ISIS were followed by attacks of the Turkish state and its militias. In occupied Afrin, the Yazidis are acutely threatened.

        Before the Turkish invasion, the Yazidi population led a life of brotherhood with the other people in Afrin. About 25,000 Yazidis lived in the villages of Îska, Şadirê, Xezewiyê, Birc Abdala, Eyn Dara, Tirindê, Qîbar, Kîmar, Basufan, Baiye, Qitmê, Sînka, Baflûn, Qastel Cindo, Elî Qîna, Feqîra, Qijuma, Qîlê, Aşka, Ceqela, Keferzît and in the district of Jindires. There were 19 Yazidi places of prayer in Afrin; Bairsa Xatûn, Şêx Hemîd, Şêx Xerîb, Cîl Xanê, Melek Adî, Şêx Cinêd, Şêx Berkat, Şêx Elî, Şêx Rikab, Şerefedîn, Bîla Menan, Pîr Cafîr, Birc Cindî, Ziyareta Hecera, Şêx Abdulqadir, Şêx Keras, Ziyareta Ebû Keiba and Şêx Qesab.

      • Yazidi children abused by ‘IS’ urgently need help

        Kizilhan is a psychiatrist and heads a center for intercultural psychosomatics in southern Germany. He has interviewed thousands of IS victims, and works with psychotherapists in northern Iraq “because there are simply not enough qualified psychologists, psychiatrists, social workers and doctors to cope with the huge number of traumatized adults and children,” says Kizilhan.

    • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

      • The FCC Knows Trump’s Social Media Order Is A Joke, But Fecklessly Pretends Otherwise

        We’ve mentioned at great length how Trump’s executive order to more heavily “regulate” social media is an unworkable joke. It attempts to tackle a problem that doesn’t exist (“Conservative censorship”) by attacking a law that actually protects free speech (Section 230), all to be enforced by agencies (like the FCC) that don’t actually have the authority to do anything of the sort. You can’t overrule the law by executive order or regulatory fiat, nor can you ignore the Constitution. The EO is a dumb joke by folks who don’t understand how any of this works, and it should be treated as such.

      • US Global Internet Freedom Group Says Work Limited by Funding Dispute

        A U.S.-funded global internet freedom group says it has had to sharply curtail its work in a new funding dispute with the U.S. Agency for Global Media (USAGM).

        Laura Cunningham, the acting chief executive of the Washington-based Open Technology Fund, in a letter first reported by the Washington Post last week accused the agency and its leader, Michael Pack, of withholding $20 million in congressionally approved funds intended to promote internet access throughout the world, especially in such authoritarian countries as China and Iran.

        She said that as a result the Open Technology Fund is being forced to halt 49 of its 60 internet freedom projects that assist human rights and pro-democracy advocates in about 200 countries.

    • Digital Restrictions (DRM)

      • Some Photoshop users can try Adobe’s anti-misinformation system later this year

        Adobe pitched the CAI last year as a general anti-misinformation and pro-attribution tool, but many details remained in flux. A newly released white paper makes its scope clearer. The CAI is primarily a more persistent, verifiable type of image metadata. It’s similar to the standard EXIF tags that show the location or date of a photograph, but with cryptographic signatures that let you verify the tags haven’t been changed or falsely applied to a manipulated photo.

        People can still download and edit the image, take a screenshot of it, or interact the way they would any picture. Any CAI metadata tags will show that the image was manipulated, however. Adobe is basically encouraging adding valuable context and viewing any untagged photos with suspicion, rather than trying to literally stop plagiarism or fakery. “There will always be bad actors,” says Adobe community products VP Will Allen. “What we want to do is provide consumers a way to go a layer deeper — to actually see what happened to that asset, who it came from, where it came from, and what happened to it.”

        The white paper makes clear that Adobe will need lots of hardware and software support for the system to work effectively. CAI-enabled cameras (including both basic smartphones and high-end professional cameras) would need to securely add tags for dates, locations, and other details. Photo editing tools would record how an image has been altered — showing that a journalist adjusted the light balance but didn’t erase or add any details. And social networks or other sites would need to display the information and explain why users should care about it.

    • Monopolies

      • Move over, SpaceX – Amazon is sending its own satellites into orbit

        Avi Loeb, chair of Harvard’s astronomy department, told Salon via email that astronomers have long escaped light pollution by placing their telescopes far from cities. However, new communication satellites like Amazon’s “will reflect sunlight and create a city of lights in the sky that no telescope on Earth can escape.”

      • Microsoft vows to continue efforts to buy TikTok from ByteDance

        The company made the statement following a conversation between its CEO Satya Nadella and U.S. President Donald Trump. It said it would ensure that all private data of TikTok’s American users is transferred to and remains in the United States.

      • Microsoft Says It’ll Continue Pursuit of TikTok

        Such a deal would be a boon for the Redmond, Wash.-based Microsoft, which has pursued corporate and enterprise computing lines of business under the leadership of Mr. Nadella, who took over as chief executive in 2014. Though it has dabbled in consumer acquisitions — Microsoft purchased Minecraft in 2014 and bought LinkedIn in 2017 — the purchase of TikTok would be largely new ground for Mr. Nadella. More than 800 million people regularly use the app to watch viral videos, with some 100 million of those users in the United States.

        Acquiring TikTok would also pit Microsoft directly against social media titans like Twitter, Pinterest, Reddit and the mighty Facebook, the latter used by more than three billion people regularly. All of the companies compete for user attention and billions in digital advertising dollars. Administration officials emphasized on Sunday that as is frequently the case with Mr. Trump, no decision is final until paperwork was signed.

      • Clock is ticking for Microsoft to buy TikTok

        Microsoft original interest in TikTok was aimed at hauling itself up to be competitive with rivals such as Facebook and Google (which own YouTube), in the one area it is perceived as a laggard – short format entertainment video business. Since he took over as CEO in 2014, the India-born Nadella, a graduate of Manipal Institute of Technology, has expanded Microsoft portfolio beyond its core strengths, making acquisitions ranging from professional networking company LinkedIn for $ 26 billion to Swedish gaming company Mojang for $ 2.6 billion.

      • Trump’s ‘key money’ request complicates Microsoft-TikTok deal

        Microsoft’s track record in the social-media market has been mixed, as the company has tended to favor the enterprise and business space. LinkedIn, a social-networking company Microsoft bought for $26 billion in 2016, remains Microsoft’s biggest and most successful play in the space, though LinkedIn is primarily designed to connect employees, potential recruiters, and other career-oriented members together. Microsoft tried out a social network called so.cl, but shuttered it without much promotion. Ironically, Microsoft unexpectedly closed its Mixer streaming service on June 22, sending users to Facebook Gaming instead.

      • Intellectual Property: Commercializing in a University Setting

        If an academic entrepreneur wants to commercialize their invention, they must first clarify who owns the invention, and then decide on the best commercialization possibility. This short chapter describes the various scenarios that might occur in a university setting. In most cases, a university will own the invention created by its researchers and faculty because of their employment. A university may then either license out the entrepreneur’s invention to a third-party company to further develop and commercialize, or may license the invention back to the entrepreneur so that they may commercialize it themselves through a start-up. Such license agreements will assign responsibility for paying for patent coverage to protect the invention, set a fee or royalty schedule, and clarify ownership of further improvements or developments. Should the entrepreneur decide to commercialize the invention themselves, besides licens¬ing the invention from the university, they should also be mindful of disclosure issues, contract clearly with founders and other interested parties to clarify issues of equity and intellectual property ownership, and consider whether they need to establish freedom to operate.

      • Patents

        • Illumina, Inc. v. Ariosa Diagnostics, Inc. (Fed. Cir. 2020)

          Earlier this year, the Federal Circuit (somewhat surprisingly) found claims of two Sequenom patents directed to methods for detecting fetal DNA in maternal blood to satisfy the subject matter eligibility requirements of Section 101 (see “Illumina, Inc. v. Ariosa Diagnostics, Inc. (Fed. Cir. 2020)”). The surprise arose in part due to the Federal Circuit’s track record of finding all diagnostic method claims to be ineligible as being directed to a natural law without “something more” to overcome the patentability preclusion created by the Supreme Court in Mayo Collaborative Services v. Prometheus Laboratories, Inc. (see, e.g., Judge Moore’s dissent in Athena Diagnostics, Inc. v. Mayo Collaborative Servs., LLC, 927 F.3d 1333, 1352 (Fed. Cir. 2019) ( “Since Mayo, we have held every single diagnostic claim in every case before us ineligible.”). Another reason, of course, is that the Federal Circuit affirmed a finding of patent ineligibility in Ariosa Diagnostics, Inc. v. Sequenom, Inc. Nevertheless, a divided panel found a patent eligibility-creating distinction in the claims asserted in this most recent case (over a dissent by the author of the Ariosa v. Sequenom decision, Judge Reyna) and today the Court issued a revised opinion in the face of Ariosa’s petition for rehearing.

          To recap, the case arose over U.S. Patent No. 9,580,751 (the ’751 patent) and U.S. Patent No. 9,738,931 (the ’931 patent), directed to the solution of an unexpected difficulty in detecting cell-free fetal DNA (cffDNA)…

          [...]

          The Court is properly not transparent regarding the internal discussions and arguments asserted by those Judges who share the majority’s views and those who share Judge Reyna’s views. But in light of the great similarities of these opinions it seems apparent that the Court was most comfortable not deciding to hear the case as a result of the revisions occasioned in the opinion handed down today. Whether there are additional motivations (including putting the panel’s disparate views in better condition for Supreme Court review) may become apparent if the Court deigns to revisit what it has wrought in the years since deciding the proper metes and bounds of Section 101 became a priority for the Court.

        • Software Patents

          • Technical Character in European Patent Law

            The technical character, which appeared in 19th century German law in the chemical sector, reappeared in the 1980s in Europe with computer-implemented inventions and biotechnology. Without being expressly mentioned in the texts, this requirement is nonetheless fundamental, as it draws the boundaries of the field of patent law.

            Its definition remains little debated, because it is convenient for examiners and judges to propose an assessment of it on a case-by-case basis. Thus, case law has essentially focused on the methods for assessing the notion of technicality.

            This approach nevertheless leaves a truncated and commonly accepted view of what is technical in the sense of patent law. Moreover, the silence of the texts also tends to leave a permanent doubt as to the scope of the field of patentability. The gaps in substantive law lead to the proposal to remove the exclusions in Article 52(2) of the Munich Convention and to lay down an explicit and autonomous condition of a technical character defined by the texts.

          • Apple Fails to Delay Texas Patent Trial Based on Covid-19

            The Covid-19 pandemic doesn’t justify postponing a Texas patent infringement trial against Apple Inc. because the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas has taken sufficient steps to limit health risks, Judge Rodney Gilstrap said.

            The court also said Tuesday that it wouldn’t delay jury selection to October because there was no evidence that the public health situation would be better then, and that the delay would prejudice Apple and plaintiffs Optis Wireless Technology LLC, Panoptis Patent Management, and Unwired Planet LLC.

            “As Robert Frost admonished in A Servant to Servants, ‘the best way out is always through,’” Gilstrap said.

            The companies sued Apple last February for allegedly infringing seven standard essential patents related to LTE wireless technology. They said Apple has refused to agree to a license on fair and reasonable terms.

            Jury selection for the trial in Marshall, Texas, is set for Aug. 3. Apple requested a move to Oct. 5, arguing it “would be in the best interests of the health and safety of trial participants and the local community, as well as the parties’ abilities to present a full and fair case.”

          • New Patent Could Transform Apple Watch Display

            “An electronic device such as a wristwatch device or other device may have a display. The display may be used to continuously display information such as watch face information. A watch face image on the display may contain watch face elements such as watch face hands, watch face indices, and complications. To reduce burn-in risk for watch face elements, control circuitry in the electronic device may impose burn-in constraints on attributes of the watch face elements such as peak luminance constraints, dwell time constraints, color constraints, constraints on the shape of each element, and constraints on element style. These constraints may help avoid situations in which static elements such as watch face indices create more burn-in than dynamic elements such as watch face hands.”

          • Latest Decision by Supreme People’s Court Of China Confirms Validity of “Little i Robot” Patent in Blow to Apple

            On June 29, 2020, the Supreme People’s Court of China made a final decision in favor of the “Little i Robot” patent (Patent # ZL200410053749.9) owned by Shanghai Xiaoi Robot Technology Ltd. (上海智臻智能网络科技公司) (“Xiaoi”). The Supreme People’s reversed the invalidity decision of Beijing High Court, and maintained the validity decision of Beijing First Intermediate Court. Apple Computer Trading Shanghai Ltd. (“Apple”) had been challenging the validity of the patent in response to a lawsuit filed by Xiaoi against Apple.

            On July 2, 2020, the China National Intellectual Property Administration (CNIPA) (previously the State Intellectual Property Office or SIPO) issued a notice of conclusion of the invalidation proceedings. The CNIPA declared that the administrative litigation lasting for many years on this patent was closed and concluded that the patent remains valid.

            Xiaoi is likely to resume an infringement lawsuit against Apple for accused patent infringement by Apple’s Siri application. The infringement lawsuit was originally filed in the Shanghai First Intermediate Court back in 2012 and was suspended due to the invalidity decision of Beijing High Court against the patent in 2016.

      • Trademarks

        • ‘Off-White’ goods not inherently or objectively ‘off-white’ in colour – so trade mark not descriptive in nature, says EU General Court

          The luxury fashion brand ‘Off-White’ is renowned for unique collaborations with other well-known brands (Ikea, Nike and Jimmy Choo, to name a few), as well as its forays into the realm of IP registration, particularly in the US. From red zip ties to paperclip jewellery to even diagonal streetwalk lines, the brand has tried to register many a fascinating trade mark (you can read more about it on The Fashion Law, as linked above).

          In June – in much more straight-forward proceedings by comparison – the EU General Court (GC) examined one of Off-White’s figurative trade marks which featured the word ‘Off-White’ in case T-133/19. The GC ultimately overturned the findings of the Board of Appeal, on the basis that the word element ‘Off-White’ would not be descriptive of the goods for which registration was sought.

          [...]

          As mentioned in the opening, this is probably one of the simplest successes that Off-White has found whilst going about its business in IP. Though the case did not specifically cover Class 25 clothing goods (that which Off-White is so well-known for), the fact that accessories in classes 9 and 14 – goods that would be regarded as similar/complementary to clothing – were covered in this application could (arguably) support a conclusion that ‘Off-White’ would not be descriptive of clothes either.

      • Copyrights

        • Hollywood Targets ‘Iran’s YouTube’ and Israeli Newspaper in Pirate Site Blocking Push

          A group of major Hollywood studios, Netflix, and other movie companies have filed a new pirate site blocking application in Australia. The companies request local ISPs to block a wide range of torrent sites and streaming portals. Interestingly, Iran’s largest video platform Aparat is also targeted, as well as Israel’s widely-read newspaper Kul al-Arab.

        • Better Concert Livestreams Are Coming. But You’ll Have to Pay for Them

          Maestro doesn’t think there’s a cap for what fans are willing to pay for online shows: Scarcity and premium VIP experiences can keep demand high, regardless of price. Kiswe chief executive Mike Schabel agrees that there’s high potential for VIP experiences on the streams but says successful ticketed livestreams should be cheap enough to be accessible for volume but substantial enough to be profitable and establish a high-quality show.

          “You give it away for free and everyone loses money, but you charge too much and everyone loses money. There’s pricing elasticity,” Schabel says. “The reason I have not just a first call, but a third, fourth and fifth call with everyone in the value chain on these shows is that there’s a lot of money that can be made here, and this can be turned into a very profitable opportunity for the music industry.”

        • Police Arrest Youth For Uploading Pirated TV Shows to YouTube

          When people repeatedly upload copyright content to YouTube they can have their accounts suspended by the platform. For an Indian youth that uploaded TV shows to the site without permission, matters have escalated after he was arrested following a TV company complaint.

        • Russian Stream-Rip Sites Attempt To Take Jurisdiction Issue All The Way To SCOTUS

          Early in 2019, we wrote about stream-ripping site FLVTO.biz winning in court against the record labels on jurisdictional grounds. The site, which is Russian and has no presence in the United States, argued that the courts had no jurisdiction. The RIAA labels argued against that, essentially claiming that because Americans could get to the site it therefore constituted some kind of commercial contract, even though no actual contract existed. Instead, the site merely makes money by displaying advertisements. The court very much agreed and dismissed the case.

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