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08.26.16

The EPO’s Francesco Zaccà Presenting in Turin Alongside Patent Trolls (Like the Patent Mafia Sisvel) and Lobbyists/Front Groups for Software Patents, UPC

Posted in Europe, Patents at 6:59 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

In the pockets of the patent microcosm

Card in pocket

Summary: Benjamin Henrion (FFII) on seeing the EPO alongside patent trolls and other nefarious actors, doing what they do best, which is undermining public interests and harming patent quality

“PUBLIC SERVANTS” has become misnomer for EPO officials. Consider the EPO‘s Francesco Zaccà, whom we first mentioned in this leak about "Closer Contact with Major Applicants" (with special ties to Qualcomm and Ericsson in his case). Benjamin Henrion drew attention to this recent talk, showing even the patent troll Sisvel at this recent event, which included Zaccà.

From the page in question: “The panel chaired by Francisco Mingorance, IP Europe, stressed the importance of innovation protection as a growth factor. Pasquale Marasco, head of ICT Innovation Pole at Torino Wireless Foundation, highlighted the SME’s stakes and concerns, as Matteo Sabattini, Sisvel CTO, reinforced the message detailing Sisvel’s example. Francesco Zaccà, Director in ICT of EPO, echoed the keynote address and said that «the main goal of the patent system is to protect innovation, to enable the innovation circle from protecting the invention, securing remuneration and re-investing in research. Yet, every challenge is a new opportunity for combining standards with open sources, and patents with protection». His opening statement «we are here to support innovation» fired up the crowd.”

“Francesco Zaccà, speaking for the EPO, is quoted or paraphrased as saying that every challenge is a new opportunity for combining standards with open sources, and patents with protection.”Francesco Zaccà, speaking for the EPO, is quoted or paraphrased as saying that every challenge is a new opportunity for combining standards with open sources, and patents with protection. What an odd thing to say. This sure sounds like the FRAND loophole for software patents in Europe. Not good…

Francisco Mingorance, now in IP Europe, is a former software patents lobbyist from the Business Software Alliance (BSA), a Microsoft front group which spent years lobbying for software patents in Europe (FRAND was one loophole they attempted to interject). Mingorance now chairs a panel with Zaccà in it. His employer, IP Europe, is a front for the patent microcosm and Henrion describes them, based on their words, as “Accelerating the entry into force of the Unified Patent Court (UPC Agreement): more trolling powers http://www.iptalks.eu/”

“They’re supposed to be focused on patent examination, not lobbying and lawmaking.”Some people still act as though the UPC will become a reality. It probably never will. It’s zombie legislation like ACTA, but the patent microcosm still wants us to believe there will be UPC after Brexit. It’s that old self-fulfilling prophecy method and they really ought to just give it all up. Found via this tweet was a Team UPC blog post the UPC “post-Brexit” (it would probably have to be rewritten and renamed to have any chance at all).

Thomas F. Cotter, a law professor from the US, more recently referred to a “paper in the June 2016 issue of GRUR Int (pp. 513-30) titled Schadensersatz und Einheitspatentsystem: Rechtliche Grundlagen und Systematik des Schadensersatzanspruchs im künftigen Einheitspatentsystem (“Damages and Unitary Patent System: Legal Principles and Schematic of Damages Claims in the Future Unitary Patent System”).”

According to him, this “article notes, among other things, that article 68(4) of the Agreement on a Unified Patent Court appears to permit a court to award the infringer’s profits without evidence that the infringer knew or should have known of the patent (in contrast to German law). Towards the end of the article, the author also questions whether the Agreement contemplates anything comparable to the German practice of permitting a court to award damages in its free discretion (nach freier Überzeugung) under article 287 of the German Civil Procedure Code (see my recent article on Patent Damages Heuristics at p.20 & n.76 for brief discussion). My one critique of the article is that it doesn’t take account of the change made in the 17th and 18th drafts of the UPC Rules of Procedure, which in a departure from the 16th draft have eliminated the provision (article 118(2)) that would have allowed the court to award damages in lieu of injunctive relief (see discussion on this blog here). Overall, though, a good read.”

“People who believe that the UPC will become a reality some very time soon are truly out of touch, much like Battistelli and his circle of ‘loyals’.”The patent microcosm (which dominates Team UPC) wants the UPC for more lawsuits, more/higher damages, and a generally litigious atmosphere that brings them more business. It’s truly a shame that EPO staff, including Zaccà’s colleagues, are openly promoting it at events (as Philpott did last year). What credibility will they have left? They’re supposed to be focused on patent examination, not lobbying and lawmaking.

Found via this tweet was yet more promotion of the UPC, courtesy of Team UPC again. “Unitary Patent reforms are welcome, even though patent litigation in Europe has worked quite well” says the headline and Francisco Moreno, a critic of the UPC, uses the hashtags #UPCbelievers and #PrayForTheUPC (sarcasm) in relation to what Tufty Sylvestris wrote about the above: “Another Remainer disappointed about the effect of #Brexit on the UPC, but still hopeful (or in denial).”

People who believe that the UPC will become a reality some very time soon are truly out of touch, much like Battistelli and his circle of ‘loyals’. Maybe they too should quit embarrassing themselves and work on fixing the EPO. Pushing towards software patents in Europe (directly or indirectly) is just about the dumbest thing they can do.

The EPO, USPTO, and Patent Microcosm Peddle Myths About Patents in Public Universities and Research

Posted in America, Europe, Patents at 6:27 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

EpiPen article

Summary: Tackling some of the commonly-spread myths about patents as “saving lives” and “promoting research” (in practice leading to the death of poor people and promoting trolls)

THE patent system exists for a reason, but nowadays that reason is no longer the original reason. “Page not found” says this link EPO‘s account regarding oppositions to particular patents, which is kind of poetic when one thinks about it. Battistelli’s EPO doesn’t want oppositions. Rubber-stamping is better for so-called ‘production’. That’s not what the patent system exists for.

Following its pattern of 'spamming' (not broadcasting to everyone on a per-subscription basis as in this new example), the EPO is pinging the University of Bonn with some template message like “Got any proposals for our Inventor Award 2017? Submit them here” (Battistelli’s lobbying event).

Why is the EPO bothering universities now? It has already sent dozens of such ‘spammy’ messages, but now it’s doing after universities.

“That’s not what the patent system exists for.”Mr. Nazer, writing about universities that pursue patents, correctly notes that many of these patents end up in the hands of patent trolls. Here is a portion of what he wrote for the EFF the other day:

EFF recently launched Reclaim Invention, a project to encourage universities to manage their patent portfolios in a way that maximizes the public benefit. Specifically, we’ve urged universities to sign a Public Interest Patent Pledge not to sell or exclusively license patents to patent assertion entities, also known as patent trolls. EFF is proud to partner with Creative Commons, Engine, Fight for the Future, Knowledge Ecology International, and Public Knowledge on this initiative.

As part of our project, we’ve also released draft state legislation that we hope state legislators can adapt to promote pro-innovation technology transfer at state universities. Our legislative language has two components. First, it requires university technology transfer offices to adopt a policy committing them to manage patent assets in the public interest.

If the public cares about innovation and good use of public money, then the public should prevent universities from filing for patents. Universities don’t need these, but friends of mine who work at the universities say that they are being pressured by administration staff to just amass patents, not just published academic papers. It’s not often that universities sue using patents because usually they do so indirectly or offload their patents to trolls.

“Patent lawyers want us to believe that effective and affordable medicine exists because of patents, but in reality it exists in spite of patents.”“75% of the 20 patent lawsuits filed yesterday were filed by patent trolls,” United for Patent Reform wrote the other day. “It’s time for Congress to take action to #fixpatents!”

The above seems to be a lot lower than the average. For technology patent lawsuits, it’s now estimated (based on a complete/exhaustive list) that just under 90% of the time these are filed by trolls. They dominate the system.

Research and development in the public sector need not rely on patents, no matter what nonsense the EPO spreads with stock photography and prose. Patent lawyers want us to believe that effective and affordable medicine exists because of patents, but in reality it exists in spite of patents. Cancer patients, as explained to the EPO, actually suffer from patents, but patent boosters are busy framing the USPTO as a friend of cancer research. To quote this new example from Professor Crouch: “The USPTO is playing an important role in the National Cancer Moonshot, a Presidential initiative we blogged about earlier this summer, to speed up cancer advances, make more therapies available to more patients, and improve the ability to prevent cancer and detect it at an early stage. Today, we are launching the USPTO Cancer Moonshot Challenge to enlist the public’s help to leverage our intellectual property data, often an early indicator of meaningful research and development (R&D), and combine it with other economic and funding data (ie. U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission filings, Food and Drug Administration reporting, National Science Foundation grants vs. philanthropic investments, venture capital funding, etc.). This comes on the heels of our Patents 4 Patients program, which was launched in July and aims to cut in half the time it takes to review patent applications in cancer therapy.”

Actually, a lot of cancer research money comes from the public (government grants, not just donations); afterwards there’s privateering with patents (monopoly on treatments and thus overpricing), so who gains and who dies?

EpiPen is under heavy fire this week for price hikes owing to Congressional nepotism, but Professor Crouch links to this horrible new article which glamourises patents (even those that kill poor people) as well as a famous patent troll. It’s sad to see that patent myths continue to thrive not just because of the patent industry but also the EPO and USPTO. They want us to believe that the more patents we have, the better. It’s usually better for patent offices, trolls, and few opportunists with crooked nepotism (see EpiPen’s example).

Large Corporations’ Lobbyist David Kappos Disgraces Former Employer USPTO by Meddling in Their Affairs on Software Patents, Downplaying the Supreme Court

Posted in IBM, Microsoft, Patents at 5:56 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Microsoft, IBM and few other large companies pay former USPTO officials to promote software patents

Microsoft links to David Kappos

Summary: The latest lobbying from David Kappos, who blatantly exploits his connections in patent circles to promote software patents and work towards their resurgence after Alice v CLS Bank

LAST NIGHT we wrote about the demise of software patents in the US. The USPTO, which David Kappos had turned into more of a rubber-stamping operation (because of the growing backlog), finally had to accept that many patents were erroneously granted (if not fraudulently granted to increase measurable figures).

“The FTC PAE report should be the final nail in the coffin for Software Patents,” AntiSoftwarePat wrote last night in response to my article. He or she has been saying this for quite a while. PAE is a type of patent troll, for those who don’t know.

“He doesn’t want people to know what he does for a living in his capacity as a de facto lobbyist.”Kappos deserves at least some of the blame for the terrible status quo. So many patents at the USPTO are junk and patent trolls needn’t even go to court and face the burden of proof; they just target small businesses in secret (divide and rule) to shake these down using bogus patents. Kappos is absolutely fine with that and we wrote a lot about this nefarious activity of his quite a lot this year. He doesn’t want people to know what he does for a living in his capacity as a de facto lobbyist. Instead, says his own description of himself: “Dave Kappos is a partner at Cravath, Swaine and Moore LLP and previously served as under secretary of commerce and director of the United States Patent and Trade Office.”

He does not disclose he works for a front group funded by monopolists which support software patents. Yesterday, published in the Morning Consult Web site was this Kappos piece protesting Alice v CLS Bank. He took wonderful news, namely the gradual end of software patents in the US, and called it “the terrible” (not for software developers but for parasites like him and his ilk).

Once again he pretends it’s a loss to software innovation and other such malarkey. He does not disclose who pays him to utter this nonsense. Here is the ending paragraph:

Rather than celebrate or mourn the anniversary of Alice, we should recognize that its overly broad application stifles software innovation in fields that require major, sustained investments to address humanity’s truly daunting challenges—across industries from life sciences to information technology to transportation and beyond. There is some room for cautious optimism—recent decisions from the federal circuit in Enfish, Bascom and Rapid Litigation Management have upheld quality patents challenged on eligibility grounds—but unless the courts continue to provide clearer guidance, a long heritage of American innovation leadership will be at risk. We should seek balance by applying Alice narrowly, “lest [Section 101′s exclusionary principle] swallow all of patent law”— and let the other parts of the law do their work.

“When legislation and/or caselaw is up for sale we all lose.”It’s clear that he is asking for loopholes so that software patents can still be granted and asserted (successfully) in courts. It’s not about “clarity” (we explained this spin of his before and also showed the so-called whitepaper he published last year to reveal his bias on this topic). Quick to promote this article was IBM’s Manny Schecter, who is funding him through IBM (Kappos used to work at IBM, which now just pays him through a front group). Congratulating one’s own lobbyist again? Does he not see ethical breach amid all that patent aggression by IBM? Microsoft is paying Kappos as well and it too is attacking even Android/Linux using patents, as recently as a few days ago.

What will it take for these companies to stop bribing former officials and hide behind them while they lobby for the resurrection of software patents? Who are those people kidding? Can one file a formal complaint for “revolving doors” kind of abuse here? We might try soon, perhaps once we identify the best authority/institution to address regarding the unprofessional (and likely unethical if not in breach of contract) practice. When legislation and/or caselaw is up for sale we all lose.

08.25.16

Journal of Intellectual Property Law and Practice Calls the European Patent Office “Rotten”, Other Sources Scrutinise Recent Moves

Posted in Europe, Patents at 2:49 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

It’s like another FIFA but in slow(er) motion

A rotting door

Summary: The patent office which was once known for being the best bar none is rotting under the Frenchman Benoît Battistelli, who made himself and his friends the main clients of the Office

THE European Patent Office (EPO) is trying to distract us all (staff and media) with the Italian earthquake (warning: epo.org links can be tracked by the EPO), but otherwise it has been largely silent for weeks. It just selfishly tries to maintain that sense of fear and emergency, especially when there are mass shootings (not just in Europe).

Recently, the local media (Süddeutsche Zeitung) published “Paris, London, Haar” which is an article about the EPO for which we need translation/s. Techrights is mentioned in this paragraph which says: “Innerhalb der Behörde wird jedenfalls schon heiß diskutiert, was solch ein Umzug an den Stadtrand mit sich bringen würde. In dem Internet-Blog Techrights lassen sich Mitarbeiter darüber aus, ob in Haar überhaupt die Hotels vorhanden sein würden, um die ausländischen Gäste passend unterzubringen. Über Sicherheitsfragen wird geredet und nicht zuletzt darüber, wie man ins Büro im Münchner Osten kommen kann, das mancher aus Versehen in der Gemeinde Vaterstetten ansiedelt. Mancher aus der betroffenen Abteilung sieht sich gar ins “Exil” nach Haar abgeschoben. Hintergrund ist ein seit Längerem schwelender Machtkampf mit dem Präsidenten des Patentamts, Benoît Battistelli.”

“The EPO’s reputation is so damaged right now (squarely the fault of Team Battistelli) that not much more damage can be done.”It has been said for quite some time that Benoît Battistelli might try to ‘gift’ Paris with some UPC court/s (or Administration). If true, it wouldn’t be the first time he did something nefarious like that. The EPO’s reputation is so damaged right now (squarely the fault of Team Battistelli) that not much more damage can be done. There’s already a crisis and talented people are leaving.

SUEPO mentioned the above in its public pages and so did a comment in IP Kat, which took note of another article shared by SUEPO. Coming from the Journal of Intellectual Property Law and Practice (and composed by Darren Smyth from IP Kat), the article says this:

Recently, the EPO has been beset by problems. A programme of reform has been pushed through which has led to widespread industrial unrest amongst the workforce, and distrust between the examiners and senior management. The problems have been exacerbated by the fact that the only legal recourse for aggrieved EPO employees is the International Labour Organisation, which has an immense backlog (partly caused by the number of EPO grievances) leading to a delay of many years before cases are decided. While there was little dispute that some reform was needed, the pace and character of the reforms, as well as their style of introduction, created a toxic atmosphere, the scale and causes of which were denied by the management, and relatively unrecognized outside of the EPO itself. The relatively generous salaries of EPO examiners led to a lack of sympathy in some quarters. The wider world only noticed the increasingly troubled situation at the EPO when a member of the Boards of Appeal of the EPO was suspended by the President without the prior sanction of the AC, an action that appeared to compromise the judicial independence of the Boards of Appeal. This occurred shortly after a seminal decision of the Enlarged Board of Appeal (EBA), which upheld an objection of suspicion of partiality against its Chairman, on the sole basis of his dual administrative role within the management of the Office. The response of the President, transferring some administrative powers from the EBA Chairman to himself, seemed to make the problem worse rather than better.

The judicial independence of the Boards of Appeal is crucial to the finality of their decisions. If the Boards are not accepted as a judicial instance, a national court could decline to give effect to their judgments on the basis of lack of compliance with European legal norms such as those embodied in Article 6 ECHR (right to fair trial). Before recent events, although national courts had always accepted the judicial character of the Boards, Board members took the view, supported by some commentators, that more autonomy was desirable. However, a proposal to increase the autonomy of the Boards had been shelved by the current administration.

It was clear that action needed to be taken, but new proposals from the President to modify the administrative structure of the Boards seemed to conflate independence with efficiency, and also addressed other matters, such as the management of possible conflicts of interest of Board members, which had never in reality seemed to be a problem. There was more concern with the appearance of independence, such as the physical location of the Boards, than independence itself.

“In the last issue of the Journal of Intellectual Property Law and Practice an editorial has been published under the title Something is rotten in the state of the EPO,” one comment noted. “Eerie, this silence,” one person wrote, “probably there is a lot going on behind the screen?”

One person responded with: “Or the French are on holiday?”

Well, we have a lot of material we intend to publish this autumn. In the mean time, if someone can produce a translation of the Süddeutsche Zeitung article for us, this would be greatly appreciated (and of course published for the record).

PTAB Emerges as Hero of USPTO Because Quality of Patents Improves, Software Patents Are Effectively Dead (or Dying Once Reassessed)

Posted in America, Patents at 2:20 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

A reminder of why the EPO‘s boards of appeal should be broadened, not squashed/scuttled/exiled

David Ruschke

Summary: With help from the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) — not just patent courts — software patents drop like flies by the thousands

TECHRIGHTS is gratified to see a decade of activism and long-sought reforms coming to fruition. A decade ago we could probably be called “crazy” for suggesting that software patents would one day be kaput even at the USPTO. But it’s actually happening and proponents of software patents are panicking (even writing “ALICE” in all CAPS or resorting to very old articles that are somehow supportive of their argument). No longer can they make a living by taxing software developers like yours truly and millions of people all around the world. Whatever one’s opinion might be on software patents, statistics show very clearly that the overwhelming majority of software developers reject them outright.

“Whatever one’s opinion might be on software patents, statistics show very clearly that the overwhelming majority of software developers reject them outright.”“Reading the Federal Circuit’s tea leaves on software patentability” is a new article whose summary introduces Alice: “In June 2014, the U.S. Supreme Court issued its Alice Corp. v. CLS Bank decision, finding that a computer-implemented, electronic escrow service was a non-patentable abstract idea.”

From the body of the article: “Until two years ago, software was generally patentable in the United States. Section 101 of the Patent Act governs what subject matter is patent eligible, excluding among other things abstract ideas from being patented.

“But in June 2014, the U.S. Supreme Court issued its Alice Corp. v. CLS Bank decision, finding that a computer-implemented, electronic escrow service was a non-patentable abstract idea. The Court held that that merely requiring “generic computer implementation” failed to transform an otherwise abstract idea into a patent-eligible invention.”

“We previously wrote about several Android applications that got axed (wiped off the face of the Earth) because of software patents.”Well, the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) has had to obey what the highest possible court said, even begrudgingly. That’s good for software developers, not necessarily FOSS developers but all developers in every country. “If you’re curious,” wrote a person on this new article about FOSS in Android, for lack of features “the reason is software patents.”

We previously wrote about several Android applications that got axed (wiped off the face of the Earth) because of software patents. Once they received a lawsuit threat, developers chose an immediate retreat. How does that promote/advance science and technology? It actually accomplishes the very opposite.

Deciding on matters like software patentability without even knowing how programming works and how computers work is outrageous, but it happens all the time. It has in fact become the norm. The following new article, which is behind a paywall, is titled “Patent Judges Should Be Scientists, Too” (Wall Street Journal). It says: “Patents are the lifeblood of biotechnology, the force that motivates companies to develop innovative medical treatments and bring them to market. The trouble is that these patents must be enforced in a court system that isn’t set up to adjudicate highly technical matters—resulting in rulings that seem arbitrary or even scientifically suspect.”

“They can discern or tell apart innovation from junk.”That is often true and applicable when it comes to copyrights in relation to code (see for example Oracle’s case against Google). At PTAB, by contrast, the chiefs are scientists, so no wonder they toss patents in the trash all the time. They can discern or tell apart innovation from junk.

MIP has a new article about PTAB’s chief judge Ruschke. Here is the part which is not behind a paywall:

In a call with reporters, the Patent Trial and Appeal Board chief judge said the number of judges now is enough, praised the impact of submitting expert declarations with preliminary responses, and said the Board was open to going beyond the 12-month statutory deadline for issuing final written decisions

David Ruschke, who took over as chief judge of the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) in May, is satisfied with both the number of quality of judges he has at the Board. Ruschke previously managed the intellectual property portfolio of Medtronic’s CSH unit.

“The number of our judges that we have now at 270 is essentially where we are going to be at going forward,” he told reporters on a conference call. “That groups of judges is going to be providing I think a wonderful basis for the PTAB going forward.”

PTAB has been a leading enforcer of Alice (it’s a lot quicker than clueless, technology-illiterate courts) and patent lawyers hate it. They call it a “death squad”. Here is a patent lawyers’ advocacy site, IAM, saying what most recently happened at PTAB: “For the third time in as many post-grant reviews decided by the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB), the PTAB has declared a patent to be invalid based on the legal framework established in the 2014 Supreme Court decision in Alice Corporation Pty Ltd v CLS Bank International.”

Looking at another patent lawyers’ site, people are visibly upset at Alice. One of them wrote:

You must live in a different universe. The Supreme Court has been down right hostile to the CAFC.

One only has to read the fractured In re Alice decision (prior to the Supreme Court rewriting of law), to see what a mess the Supreme Court has made in its pursuit of power.

These are “captive patent courts,” Benjamin Henrion responded. Here is another comment:

The following link also supports the idea of tensions between the Supreme Court and Federal Circuit: http://www.abajournal.com/magazine/article/tug_of_war_over_interpretations_of_patent_law_continues_between_federal

They seem to be begging for some scandal that can somehow bring software patents back to life. Here is what Patently-O wrote about CAFC a few days ago: “Earlier this year, the Federal Circuit in a 2-1 panel decision in In re Queen’s University held there was a privilege over communications between a patent agent and client with respect to patent prosecution. That decision is here. I gave a talk earlier this year about how I think this case creates some risks even if it is followed, and the powerpoint for that talk is here.”

“In the above cases, the Federal Circuit does not deal with software patents, but when/if it does, then over 90% of the time it will throw them away.”PowerPoint is Microsoft lock-in, but in another new Patently-O post CAFC got mentioned in relation to OtterBox. To quote: “A substantial portion of the Federal Circuit’s appellate involve customs disputes stemming from the Court of International Trade (CIT). [...] In interpreting the statute, the Federal Circuit has taken the approach of construing HTSUS terms according to “common and commercial meanings, which we presume are the same.” Although not required by the statute, the court has also taken to relying upon the explanatory notes in the World Customs Organization tariff schedule to aid its interpretation. [...] In siding with OtterBox, the federal circuit stepped through Heading 4202 and found, inter alia, that the OtterBox cases would only fit as “similar containers,” but that they were not really similar. The important distinction is that OtterBox cases are designed so that the device is fully functional while in the case – that is not true for any of the cases listed in the heading.”

In the above cases, the Federal Circuit does not deal with software patents, but when/if it does, then over 90% of the time it will throw them away. This clearly bothers the software patents proponents, who as usual resort to BASCOM and Enfish (the few and rare exceptions]. Alluding to BASCOM and Section 101, Watchtroll writes somewhat of a rant. It starts innocently enough. “Last week the Patent Public Advisory Committee (PPAC) held its quarterly meeting at the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). These quarterly meetings give those on PPAC an opportunity to be brought up to speed about what is going on inside the USPTO, and to ask questions of various senior officials,” Watchtroll writes. But then, this Watchtroll who stoops very low in his attacks on PTAB ended up concluding with: “Could the Patent Office address this differently? Yes. Is the way Patent Office senior officials are addressing 101 in the guidance incorrect or outside of the envelope of reasonableness? No. Is the way examiners are applying 101 in keeping with the guidance? Absolutely not. Is this one big mess? You bet!”

“Software patents are a dying breed of patents.”So, doing the right thing is “one big mess”. Right…

The patent microcosm (mostly lawyers) just keeps lobbying the USPTO in order to make it their eternal vassal on matters such as patent scope. They just try to undermine Alice rather than accept the decision and move on. They even got Kappos in lobbying mode, utilising his connections (he is the former Director of the USPTO) to throw away Alice and attempt to restore software patenting. Another new example of this reluctance to accept the new formality can be seen in this tweet that says “Drafting claims: preambles? Dangerous. Just analyzed BASCOM: preamble may establish what a claim is “directed to” (abstract idea) for Alice.”

No matter how artful they try to be in interpreting Alice, the statistics speak for themselves, both at PTAB and at CAFC. Software patents are a dying breed of patents. Sooner or later, once challenged sufficiently, all ‘pure’ software patents turn out to be abstract.

Creative Technology, Now Operating in ‘Patent Troll’ Mode, Shot Down by the ITC; Jawbone Too Shot Down

Posted in America, GNU/Linux, Google, Patents at 12:42 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Has the U.S. International Trade Commission finally become less trigged-happy when it comes to embargoes?

BLASTING RIVALS WITH PATENTS
By Source (WP:NFCC#4), Fair use of copyrighted material in the context of Sound Blaster

Summary: Some good news from the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC), which may have put an end to Creative’s new war on Android (using old patents)

OVER THE years we have not had much (or anything) good to say about the ITC. It seemed nationalistic and unreasonable. Based on allegation or suspicion alone it could suspend operations or businesses in the United States, especially when these were foreign (non-US).

Earlier this summer we wrote about Creative Technology, based in Singapore, going after Android OEMs with massive patent demands, having been ‘endorsed’ by Apple payments. Well, it turns out Apple should never have paid them in the first place. Their patents are junk.

“When once-famous brands like Creative and BlackBerry become nothing but a pile of patents there’s a lot of trouble for FOSS such as Android, which is built on top of Linux. ““First spotted by Law360,” an Apple advocacy site wrote, “Administrative Law Judge David Shaw of the U.S. Patent and Trade Office (USPTO) has ruled that Creative Technology’s patent that addresses music library navigation and sorting in the iPod, and now iOS overall, was too abstract to be eligible for a patent.”

It also said: “A patent that Creative Technologies used in the beginning of the century against the iPod forcing a $100 million payout by Apple has been invalidated, saving the rest of the smartphone industry from costly settlements and protracted legal battles.”

According to this, “Apple paid Creative a single license fee of $100 million to use Creative’s software interface patent,” which is certainly a lot of money, probably enough to convince Creative to prey on Android OEMs that can barely afford it (and might prefer to settle out of court). The original report said “U.S. International Trade Commission judge handed smartphone makers a win Friday, ruling that a media player patent that netted a Singapore software company a $100 million settlement with Apple is invalid under Alice, in what appears to be the first time an ITC investigation has been terminated during its early review program.”

This is great news and a huge relief to some Android OEMs. On the face of it, ITC made a determination on another case, as reported by MIP. “In a first for its 100-day pilot programme, the ITC has invalidated a patent involved in a $100m iPod-related settlement a decade ago. In a separate ruling, the commission has ruled that Fitbit did not misappropriate Jawbone’ trade secrets,” says the summary. We wrote a great deal about the latter case too. It’s now a two-way battle. They would both be better off just focusing on development, not bickering over patents. The latter case was also mentioned in corporate media this week (albeit very briefly). To quote CNBC: “A U.S. International Trade Commission ruled Fitbit did not steal rival Jawbone’s trade secrets. Jawbone accused Fitbit of infringing six patents and luring away employees to with confidential data about Jawbone’s business.”

The behaviour of Creative without a doubt was becoming a problem for Android and by extension a threat to Linux, so the former of the two aforementioned cases is important. BlackBerry’s transition into ‘patent troll’ was also mentioned here recently and it’s receiving unwanted media attention from a trolls expert. “BlackBerry’s new round of patent lawsuits targets BLU—and Android,” says the headline. Here is an except:

BlackBerry has filed three patent infringement lawsuits in as many weeks. The struggling phone company’s offensive barrage began with a case filed against IP telephony company Avaya on July 27. Last week, BlackBerry filed two lawsuits against budget cell phone maker BLU’s products, alleging that BLU infringes a whopping 15 patents.

The dual lawsuits against BLU suggest that BlackBerry’s new turn toward patent licensing isn’t going to be a one-off event, but rather a more extended campaign. In a May earnings call, BlackBerry CEO John Chen told investors he’s in a “patent licensing mode” and is hoping to monetize his company’s 38,000 patents.

The new lawsuits also suggest that BlackBerry has patents it believes describe Android features, so don’t be surprised if more Android phones are in the crosshairs soon. One of the two cases filed last week accuses user-interface features that are more about Android than they are about BLU. A small manufacturer like BLU could make for a good “test case” against a maker of Android phones.

When once-famous brands like Creative and BlackBerry become nothing but a pile of patents there’s a lot of trouble for FOSS such as Android, which is built on top of Linux. Software patents need to end and patent sanity assured. Customers only lose when products are intentionally made more primitive due to fear of litigation. A lot of them are incredibly overpriced, too.

Corporate Media in India Misrepresents Startups to Push for Software Patents

Posted in Asia, Bill Gates, IBM, Microsoft, Patents at 12:03 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

New Delhi

Summary: A parade of misinformation as seen in Indian (but English-speaking) press this week as questions about patentability of software resurface

FOREIGN giants which operate in India (companies like IBM and Microsoft) just can’t help trying to repeatedly introduce software patents in India, aided by front groups and lawyers of theirs. Why on Earth is NASSCOM, which is connected to Bill Gates [1, 2, 3], participating in a debate in India regarding software patents or even just software? “NEW rules designed to boost India’s software industry will open for public consultation in a matter of days, say sources close to the matter,” said one new article among several this week (e.g. [1, 2). These mentioned software patents as well and some correctly noted that “this opens them [software companies] to patent trolls. Dealing with patent trolls here as India doesn’t have software patents.” The English here is problematic and then it says this: “So the conundrum for startups is whether to stay in India or not.”

“India is constantly being lobbied by big businesses that are not even Indian.”No, startups would be wasting their time pursuing patents on software. In practice, heavy-pocketed corporations from abroad want software patents. Indian startups do not. But don’t count on corporate media like the above to accurately represent the desires and needs of ordinary Indians. Neither should anyone trust NASSCOM, one among several Indian agencies that act like outposts and brought India nothing but EDGI.

India is constantly being lobbied by big businesses that are not even Indian. Watch what Microsoft has done to the Modi government earlier this year and last year. It shot down a Free/Open Source software policy.

Links 25/8/2016: Linux Turns 25, NetworkManager Turns 1.4

Posted in News Roundup at 11:39 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • Kernel Space

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK

      • The future is here

        Nautilus from master, updated everyday, parallel installable, in less than 3 minutes. I cannot believe this is possible. Note that due to be sandboxed with no permission handling there are things that are not working, like opening with an application.

        For someone not aware of the whole platform and the Linux desktop, it’s difficult to see how many implications this bring to us and the changes that will allow in the upcoming months. This truly changes the game for GNOME (and any other desktop) as a project and platform, including 3rd party developers and companies using Linux desktops or that want to support it.

      • GUADEC’16 report

        I got a chance to attend GUADEC’16 which happened in Karlsruhe, Germany from 11 – 17 August. I stayed for the whole duration including Workshop Day, core days and the later BOF days which were very learning. I’m grateful to my mentor David Woodhouse who guided me all the time. I thank GNOME community for giving me the chance to speak at intern lightning talk and i tried my best to present my project in front of those great people. I hope to get a chance someday again to speak up. We have finished our GSoC project so i am free now to wander around to find some more places and tasks in GNOME’s huge shelter. My experience of attending GUADEC was awesome, despite being a less speaker i was very comfortable to talk and interact to people in the community. I made some new friends in the community and i came to know a lot more about it. I loved attending social events after the long day of great and motivating talks. I am thankful to the GUADEC organizers, i didn’t feel any problem for a second staying 6,000 kms away from home.

      • GUADEC 2016

        I came back from Karlsruhe last week, where GUADEC 2016 took place.

        It was a wonderful event. Even though it was only my second GUADEC, I felt at home in this community, meeting with old and new friends.

      • Summer Talks, PurpleEgg

        The topics were different but related: The Flock talk talked about how to make things better for a developer using Fedora Workstation as their development workstation, while the GUADEC talk was about the work we are doing to move Fedora to a model where the OS is immutable and separate from applications. A shared idea of the two talks is that your workstation is not your development environment environment. Installing development tools, language runtimes, and header files as part of your base operating system implies that every project you are developing wants the same development environment, and that simply is not the case.

      • An awesome experience!

        GUADEC has been a week full of memorable moments. As my friend Rares mentioned in his post, our newcomers group was welcomed by friendly community members right as we arrived at the hotel. For someone who has never attended a similar event before, this really helped with getting into the conference atmosphere.

        In the first couple days of the conference, I found myself meeting a lot of people that I knew from IRC. It felt really nice to finally know the person behind the internet nick. I was especially excited about getting to meet my mentor, Carlos Soriano =). In between the presentations I also took the time to prepare my own lightning talk about compressed files in Nautilus. Speaking in front of the GNOME community for the first time was a unique experience.

  • Distributions

    • New Releases

    • Slackware Family

      • NOAA Breaks Weather Apps, Slackware Updates, Valve @ 20

        The LinuxCon headlines continue to dominate but, more importantly, our desktop weather apps are broken thanks to NOAA decommissioning the site. Liam Dawe looked back at 20 years of Valve and Sebastian “sebas” Kügler introduced new KDE kscreen-doctor. Slackware rolled out some updates including a rare kernel upgrade and The VAR Guy wants to hear about your first time.

    • Red Hat Family

      • New CentOS Atomic Host Update Released with Linux Kernel 3.10, Docker 1.10.3-46

        CentOS Project’s Jason Brooks is back again with some awesome news for those interested in using the CentOS Atomic Host operating system designed for running Docker containers on top of the RHEL-based CentOS Linux 7 platform.

      • Red Hat’s gunning for VMware with virtualization platform update

        Open-source Linux vendor Red Hat Inc. has thrown in support for OpenStack Neutron and other new technologies with the latest release of its software virtualization package, in what looks like a bid to steal customers away from VMware Inc.’s more widely-used solution.

        Targeted at convergence, Red Hat Virtualization 4 is the first version of the platform that doesn’t include the word “enterprise,” in a move that suggests the company is hoping its virtualized stack will become the platform for convergence, rather than a server density product.

        OpenStack Neutron is the open-source networking project used by Software-Defined Networks (SDNs), which up until now has only been available as a preview. Many have criticized Neutron’s development for lagging behind the rest of OpenStack’s code base, and Red Hat was one of several vendors to concede that things could be sped up a bit. With the inclusion of the software in Red Hat Virtualization, the company says its Linux platform can be used to run both cloud-enabled and “traditional” workloads in concert.

      • Red Hat Virtualization 4 woos VMware faithful

        It’s easy for a virtual machine user to feel left out these days, what with containers dominating the discussion of how to run applications at scale. But take heart, VM fans: Red Hat hasn’t forgotten about you.

        RHV (Red Hat Virtualization) 4.0, released today, refreshes Red Hat’s open source virtualization platform with new technologies from the rest of Red Hat’s product line. It’s a twofold strategy to consolidate Red Hat’s virtualization efforts across its various products and to ramp up the company’s intention to woo VMware customers.

      • Commvault Announces Support of Red Hat Virtualization 4 with Commvault Software
      • Fedora

        • UDP Failures and RNGs
        • F24-20160823 updated Live isos

          New Kernel means new set of updated lives.

          I am happy to release the F24-20160823 updated lives isos.

        • Curse you, Jon Masters! Why do you always have to be right!

          Long story short, Fedora 24 came out and I’m given the taste of the same medicine: the video on the ASUS is completely busted. I was able to limp along for now by using the old kernel 4.4.6-301.fc23, but come on, this is clearly a massive regression. Think anyone is there to bisect and find the culprit? Of course not. I have to do it it myself.

          So, how did F24 ship? Well… I didn’t test beta versions, so I don’t have much ground to complain.

        • Communication Anti-Patterns
        • Autocloud: What’s new?

          Autocloud was released during the Fedora 23 cycle as a part of the Two Week Atomic Process.

          Previously, it used to listen to fedmsg for successful Koji builds. Whenever, there is a new message the AutocloudConsumer queues these message for processing. The Autocloud job service then listens to the queue, downloads the images and runs the tests using Tunir. A more detailed post about it’s release can be read here.

          During the Fedora 24 cycle things changed. There was a change on how the Fedora composes are built. Thanks to adamw for writing a detailed blogpost on what, why and how things changed.

        • Modularity Infrastructure Design

          The purpose of our Modularity initiative is to support the building, maintaining, and shipping of modular things. So, in order to ensure these three requirements are met, we need to design a framework for building and composing the distribution.

          In terms of the framework, in general, we are concerned about the possibility of creating an exponential number of component combinations with independent lifecycles. That is, when the number of component combinations becomes too large, we will not be able to manage them. So that we don’t accidentally make our lives worse, we must limit the number of supported modules with a policy and provide infrastructure automation to reduce the amount of manual work required.

    • Debian Family

  • Devices/Embedded

    • Open source drone controller has an FPGA-enhanced brain

      Aerotenna has launched an open source, $499 “OcPoc” drone flight controller that runs Linux on an Altera Cyclone V ARM/FPGA SoC.

      Lawrence, Kansas based Aerotenna, which bills itself as “the leading provider of innovative microwave sensors and flight control systems,” describes OcPoC (Octagonal Pilot on Chip) as a ready-to-fly, open source flight control platform. The system integrates an IMU, barometer, GPS, and a CSI-camera interface.

    • Phones

      • Android

        • Xiaomi Redmi Note 4 unveiled in China, priced at $135

          Xiaomi took the wraps off their latest smartphone offering, the Redmi Note 4, earlier today, and as is expected from the budget-friendly Redmi series, the device offers a premium look, specifications, and features, and more importantly, an ultra-affordable price tag.

          The Redmi Note 4 retains the premium full metal unibody construction that was introduced with its predecessor, but now comes with a brushed metal finish and chamfered edges that looks and feels even better. The design language is quite similar as well, with the Redmi Note 4 also coming with a fingerprint scanner on the back.

          Under the hood, the Redmi Note 4 comes with a 5.5-inch Full HD display that is covered with a 2.5D curved glass panel. The phone is powered by a MediaTek Helio X20 processor, that is backed by the Mali-T880MP4 GPU and 2 GB or 3 GB of RAM. 16 GB or 64 GB are the on-board storage options available, which also dictates how much RAM you get, and you also get expandable storage via microSD card to cover all your needs. Keeping everything running is a huge 4,100 mAh battery.

        • New study finds iPhones fail far more often than Android phones

          Apple customers are generally a shockingly loyal bunch. The company’s high repeat customer rate can be attributed to a combination of factors that concern iPhones themselves as well as Apple’s industry-leading customer service. Dealing with Apple’s customer care department has always been a pleasure compared to dealing with rival companies, and iPhones themselves have historically been very reliable, offering a consistently smooth user experience that people love.

        • Relax, Spire can now connect to Android phones

          Spire, the wearable that promises to help you with healthy breathing and mindfulness, was previously only available for iOS devices. But that should change with an update rolling out now.

        • Android 7.0 Nougat: Small changes that make a big difference in UX

          The seventh iteration of Android (Nougat) has finally been released by the mighty Google. If you happen to be the owner of a Nexus device, you might see this update very soon. Everyone else…you know the drill.

          So after an extended period of waiting for the update to trickle through your carrier and onto your device, what can you expect to happen to your Android device once its center has become a creamier shade of Nougat?

        • Two Nokia Android smartphones show up in benchmark

          Nokia is definitely coming out with a few Android smartphones later this year, but today’s Nokia has little in common with the company that ruled the mobile phone industry for years.

          For starters, the devices that will be released this year, or the next, will be made by a third-party company. Nokia won’t be manufacturing phones anymore and most likely it won’t manage the way they are sold through retailers and authorized resellers.

        • Proxima bae, Instagram scams, Android goes full crypto: ICYMI
        • PayPal adds proper Nexus Imprint fingerprint login support on Android
        • Google Duo has been downloaded 5 million times on Android since its release
        • Google’s New Android Brings a Much Needed Change

          Thanks in part to Samsung’s Galaxy Note lineup and Apple’s iPhone 6s Plus, large-screened phones are becoming more popular than ever. Time spent on these large phones, sometimes called “phablets,” grew by 334% year-over-year in 2015, according to data from Flurry Analytics.

          Still, few phone makers other than Samsung ssnlf have made good use of these larger devices. Google goog is hoping to change this with its newest version of Android. Called 7.0 Nougat, it notably features the ability to view apps in a split-screen mode. The software update, which Google began pushing out to certain Nexus devices this week, makes it possible for Android users to interact with more than one app simultaneously.

        • Google’s New Android Brings a Much Needed Change

          Real multitasking has finally come to stock Android — and it’s about time

          Thanks in part to Samsung’s Galaxy Note lineup and Apple’s iPhone 6s Plus, large-screened phones are becoming more popular than ever. Time spent on these large phones, sometimes called “phablets,” grew by 334% year-over-year in 2015, according to data from Flurry Analytics.

          Still, few phone makers other than Samsung have made good use of these larger devices. Google is hoping to change this with its newest version of Android. Called 7.0 Nougat, it notably features the ability to view apps in a split-screen mode. The software update, which Google began pushing out to certain Nexus devices this week, makes it possible for Android users to interact with more than one app simultaneously.

        • Android 7.0 has a hidden feature that could finally make it better than iOS

          Android and iOS have been in a user-interface war for years. Who is winning really depends on who you ask, but a secret feature buried in the code for Android 8.0 Nougat shows a feature that would give Android the upper hand.

          Android Police uncovered details and screenshots of a navigation bar customizer hidden in the code for Android Nougat. It’s not currently active, as it was pulled from the code base for being “not ready,” but a tipster managed to recreate the feature and provide screenshots.

        • 8 new things Android 7.0 can do that iOS can’t

          A new version of Android is here, and it looks to be a solid, if relatively low-key, upgrade. Whenever Android 7.0 (Nougat) gets to your device, you’ll probably be happy with it.

          It also means that it’s time, once again, to see how Android has separated itself from iOS. If you’ve been thinking of pledging allegiance to a new platform, then here are some new, Nougat-y features that you won’t find on any iPhone.

        • Android 7 boasts new encryption features as the Crypto War soldiers on

          Not too long ago, the idea of smartphone encryption set off a global debate.

          Now, with the release of Android 7.0, the rise of secure messaging apps, and a public awakening on cyberspying, encrypting your chats and data is easier than ever—encryption is a now marketable selling point for the world’s tech giants—even as the political controversy heats up once more.

          A year after the 2013 Edward Snowden intelligence leaks lit a political fire around spying and privacy, the American tech giants Apple and Google added full-disk encryption to iPhones and Android devices. Police, intelligence agencies, governments, criminals, hackers, and all sorts of prying eyes around the globe would be increasingly locked out of the ubiquitous device that knows so much about us all.

        • Google Drive for Android now creates file and folder shortcuts
        • Android Nougat offers more PC emojis, plus an avocado
        • There’s a hidden menu in Android that lets you unlock experimental features — here’s how to use it
        • Project Fi’s Wifi Assistant to serve all Nexus devices soon
        • How to use split-screen mode in Android Nougat
        • How to Block Annoying Spam Calls and Texts In Android Nougat
        • Google Photos, Android System Webview, and HP Print Service plugin all reach 500 million installs
        • Android Nougat kind of arrives on the Nexus 5, if you’re bold
        • Google may let you add clipboard, keyboard switcher to Android’s navigation bar
        • LG V20 leak shows the Android phone is keeping its second screen

          LG’s V20 is set to debut on September 6th, but mobile leaker Evan Blass has already got his hands on a high-resolution image of the Android flagship and posted it to Twitter. The image shows off a rather bland-looking smartphone with an uncluttered home screen devoid of any duplicate apps and unnecessary bloatware. What we can see from this image is LG’s commitment to the second screen concept it debuted with last year’s V10.

Free Software/Open Source

  • Education

    • 4 tips for teaching kids how to build electronics

      Kids are naturally curious about how things work, and with a new trend in hardware companies creating open source hardware products, it’s a great time to teach kids about electronics. But modern technology can seem too complex to even begin to understand. So where do you start?

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

  • BSD

    • more, less, and a story of typical Unix fossilization

      In the beginning, by which we mean V7, Unix didn’t have a pager at all. That was okay; Unix wasn’t very visual in those days, partly because it was still sort of the era of the hard copy terminal. Then along came Berkeley and BSD. People at Berkeley were into CRT terminals, and so BSD Unix gave us things like vi and the first pager program, more (which showed up quite early, in 3BSD, although this isn’t as early as vi, which appears in 2BSD). Calling a pager more is a little bit odd but it’s a Unix type of name and from the beginning more prompted you with ‘–More–’ at the bottom of the screen.

      All of the Unix vendors that based their work on BSD Unix (like Sun and DEC) naturally shipped versions of more along with the rest of the BSD programs, and so more spread around the BSD side of things. However, more was by no means the best pager ever; as you might expect, it was actually a bit primitive and lacking in features. So fairly early on Mark Nudelman wrote a pager with somewhat more features and it wound up being called less as somewhat of a joke. When less was distributed via Usenet’s net.sources in 1985 it became immediately popular, as everyone could see that it was clearly nicer than more, and pretty soon it was reasonably ubiquitous on Unix machines (or at least ones that had some degree of access to stuff from Usenet). In 4.3 BSD, more itself picked up the ‘page backwards’ feature that had motived Mark Nudelman to write less, cf the 4.3BSD manpage, but this wasn’t the only attraction of less. And this is where we get into Unix fossilization.

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC

  • Public Services/Government

    • Uganda: Govt to Cut Costs With Open Source Software

      The private sector and government departments have been urged to adopt Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) to increase their efficiency and competitiveness, writes ALI TWAHA.

      FOSS is software with source code that anyone can inspect, modify, and enhance to suit their needs, something that is not possible with commercial software currently being used in most government departments.

      Speaking during the seventh African conference on FOSS at Speke Resort hotel in Munyoyo, ICT minister Frank Tumwebaze said government departments will gradually integrate the use of FOSS to reduce the cost of public service delivery.

      “Presently, government has been spending over $40m (Shs132bn) annually on commercial software from the like of Oracle systems and Microsoft Cooperation. [Using] FOSS will result into enormous savings that can be re-injected into other under-funded areas,” Tumwebaze said.

    • Uganda: New Software Policy to Boost Innovation in Offing

      A Science, Technology and Innovations driven economy may soon be a reality in Uganda if Cabinet approves a free and open software being developed.

      Speaking at the 7th Africa Conference on Open Source Software at the Commonwealth Resort in Munyonyo on Monday, Mr James Saaka, the executive director of National Information and Technology Authority Uganda, said there is a lot of registered software being used but is very costly.

      He said globally, people develop Free Open Source Software (Foss) which Uganda would emulate for national development.

      Mr Saaka said the country is in the initial stages to develop Foss, adding that the software can spur investment in research and development.

      “We see that the Proprietary software is still expensive and if we are going to develop more online services, we can’t afford but use alternative means to develop our e-government service,” Mr Saaka said.

      He also added that in Uganda, there is an advent of talent skilled in Foss and can help in innovations.

    • Open Source: Of the people, for the people, by the people

      Open Source is the best option for e-Governance. Its open nature allows constant improvements from the open source community, and when built in the correct method using firewalls, the security is protected as well. The best part of the open source for Governments is that the overall cost of building these solutions are much less than other frameworks as it is built, improved, and maintained by a strongly, connect open source community. Truly… ‘of the people, by the people and for the people’.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

    • Open Data

      • Oil companies joining open source world by sharing data [Ed: No, oil companies, sharing data is open data and not open source. More openwashing, like greenwashing]

        The oil and gas industry has long collected huge volumes of data, but it hasn’t always known quite what to do with it all. Often, the terabytes aren’t even stored on computer systems that readily talk to each other.

        Industry insiders are used to it, said Michael Jones, senior director of strategy at the oil and gas software maker Landmark. But it’s not OK, he said. So, about a year ago, Jones and some of his oil industry colleagues set about to fix it.

        This week, at Landmark’s Innovation Forum & Expo at the Westin hotel in northwest Houston, the company unveiled the beginnings of a collaborative its members called groundbreaking. In a move to drive technology further, faster — and, perhaps, take a bigger piece of the burgeoning big-data market — Landmark is pushing its main computing platform into the cloud, for all to use.

    • Open Access/Content

  • Programming/Development

    • Go! Speed Racer Go!

      I finally reached a point where I could start running the go version of sm-photo-tool. I finished the option validation for the list command. While I was testing it I noticed how much faster the Go version felt. Here are the python vs Go versions of the commands.

  • Standards/Consortia

    • Semantic Interoperability for European Public Services will be presented at the SEMANTiCS 2016 conference

      The revision of the European Interoperability Framework and the importance of data and information standardisation for promoting semantic interoperability for European Public Services will be presented by Dr. Vassilios Peristeras, DG Informatics, ISA unit at the SEMANTiCS 2016 conference which takes place in Leipzig on September 13th and 14th 2016. The title of the presentation is “Promoting Semantic Interoperability for European Public Services: the European Commission ISA2 Programme” (slideset to appear here soon).

Leftovers

  • How Rio Ratings Surprised NBC and Will Impact Future Olympics

    Heading into the Summer Olympics, NBCUniversal executives were bullish on ratings for Rio de Janeiro. With a host city just one hour ahead of the Eastern Time Zone and a mountain of data pointing toward heightened interest in the games, NBCU projected that Rio would outpace the 2012 London Games in viewership.

    It did not. Instead of a bulletproof success story, Rio delivered a complex portrait of the rapid changes affecting the TV business and of a viewership still hungry for Olympics coverage, but also for new ways to consume it.

    Over 15 days of competition, NBCU’s Olympics coverage averaged 27.5 million viewers across all platforms, including digital streaming — down 9% from 2012. But traditional TV ratings told a far grimmer story, one that began with Nielsen numbers that showed viewership for the Aug. 5 Opening Ceremony decline 28% from London.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • A Spike in Rates of Pregnancy-related Deaths in Texas Spurs Soul-searching

      Last week, researchers studying maternal mortality in the U.S. reported an ominous trend: The rate of pregnancy-related deaths in Texas seemed to have doubled since 2010, making the Lone Star State one of the most dangerous places in the developed world to have a baby. Reproductive health advocates were quick to blame the legislature for slashing funding in 2011–12 to family-planning clinics that serve low-income women, calling the numbers a “tragedy” and “a national embarrassment.”

      Now a 15-member state task force has issued its own maternal mortality report, offering a new view of what might be going on. The bottom line: Maternal deaths have indeed been increasing in Texas, members said, and African-American women are bearing the brunt of the crisis. For 2011 and 2012, black mothers accounted for 11.4 percent of Texas births but 28.8 percent of pregnancy-related deaths.

    • Everything has water flowing through it

      And how do we communicate the health risks from contaminated water without causing panic? Sometimes people don’t even want to know about water contamination, as they have so many other things they are already dealing with – water is just another one of many worries. Community wide communication is a real challenge on a large reservation.

    • Stop Playing Politics With Reproductive Rights

      Young women voters have a lot to worry about this election cycle, from a flurry of anti-abortion messaging to diminishing access to reproductive services.

      Just this month, in fact, Congress put the brakes on vital legislation that would fund efforts to prevent the spread of Zika because they’re arguing over birth control.

      I have grown up in a generation of women who can take for granted our right to vote, work for money, own land, and not be treated as property—but I can never take for granted my right to choose what to do with my own body.

      Like 58 percent of the women who use the pill, I rely primarily on birth control to treat many medical conditions. I have hormone-based migraines, endometriosis, and polycystic ovary syndrome, which puts me at a higher risk for a whole slew of other health issues—from cardiovascular disease to diabetes.

      But I’m lucky. Birth control treats all three of my conditions where other methods have failed.

    • The Louisiana Catastrophe Proves the Need for Universal, Single-Payer Disaster Insurance

      Of the tens of thousands of Lousianans who had their homes flooded this month, most do not have flood insurance. They weren’t supposed to need it, because flooding had never been a problem where they live. And now it is clear that the federal emergency help they receive will be wholly inadequate.

      Louisiana’s flood victims are in a terrible predicament, and they are not alone. In the America of 2016, thousand-year catastrophes seem to be occurring on a monthly schedule, while we remain stuck with pre-greenhouse home insurance. That is leaving countless families economically devastated.

  • Security

    • Wednesday’s security updates
    • This Android botnet relies on Twitter for its commands
    • Android Security Flaw Exposes 1.4B Devices [Ed: Alternative headline is, “Android is very popular, it has billions of users. And yes, security ain’t perfect.” When did the press ever publish a headline like, “Windows flaw leaves 2 billion PCs susceptible for remote takeover?” (happens a lot)]
    • Wildfire ransomware code cracked: Victims can now unlock encrypted files for free

      Victims of the Wildfire ransomware can get their encrypted files back without paying hackers for the privilege, after the No More Ransom initiative released a free decryption tool.

      No More Ransom runs a web portal that provides keys for unlocking files encrypted by various strains of ransomware, including Shade, Coinvault, Rannoh, Rakhn and, most recently, Wildfire.

      Aimed at helping ransomware victims retrieve their data, No More Ransom is a collaborative project between Europol, the Dutch National Police, Intel Security, and Kaspersky Lab.

      Wildfire victims are served with a ransom note demanding payment of 1.5 Bitcoins — the cryptocurrency favored by cybercriminals — in exchange for unlocking the encrypted files. However, cybersecurity researchers from McAfee Labs, part of Intel Security, point out that the hackers behind Wildfire are open to negotiation, often accepting 0.5 Bitcoins as a payment.

      Most victims of the ransomware are located in the Netherlands and Belgium, with the malicious software spread through phishing emails aimed at Dutch speakers. The email claims to be from a transport company and suggests that the target has missed a parcel delivery — encouraging them to fill in a form to rearrange delivery for another date. It’s this form which drops Wildfire ransomware onto the victim’s system and locks it down.

    • PNScan Linux Trojan Resurfaces with New Attacks Targeting Routers in India

      A trojan thought to have died out resurfaced with new attacks and a new and improved version, launching new attacks on routers running Linux-based firmware located in India’s cyber-space.

  • Defence/Aggression

    • Provoking nuclear war by media

      The exoneration of a man accused of the worst of crimes, genocide, made no headlines. Neither the BBC nor CNN covered it. The Guardian allowed a brief commentary. Such a rare official admission was buried or suppressed, understandably. It would explain too much about how the rulers of the world rule.

      The International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) in The Hague has quietly cleared the late Serbian president, Slobodan Milosevic, of war crimes committed during the 1992-95 Bosnian war, including the massacre at Srebrenica.

    • The Two Tales of Russia Hacking NYT

      It’s quite possible both of these stories are misleading. But they do raise questions about why the spooks want to sensationalize these Russian hacks while NYT chooses to downplay them.

    • The Bogus ‘Humanitarian’ War on Serbia

      The exoneration of a man accused of the worst of crimes, genocide, made no headlines. Neither the BBC nor CNN covered it. The Guardian allowed a brief commentary. Such a rare official admission was buried or suppressed, understandably. It would explain too much about how the rulers of the world rule.

    • Fighting Absurdity With Absurdity: Heaven Forbid the Penis

      Arguing that carrying firearms on campus will be as effective against random gun violence as carrying dildos, thousands of students at the University of Texas at Austin protested the state’s insane new open carry law Wednesday by gleefully hoisting “Armed With Reason” and “Guns Do Kill People” signs along with over 4,500 donated dildos, flesh color to fluorescent, in what may prove to be the state’s largest ever anti-gun rally. The #CocksNotGlocks campaign, started by one alum as a bit of “defiant nonsense” aimed at fighting absurdity with absurdity, kicked off on the first day of classes by drawing big crowds, with some inventive students juggling dildos and others hawking them with “Come get a dick!”

      The campaign seeks to repeal Senate Bill 11, signed into law by GOP Gov. Gregg Abbott in June but only implemented August 1, allowing students or faculty at public universities to carry their favorite guns to class, because what could possibly go wrong? The law has been vociferously opposed at the relatively progressive Austin campus, where many spoke against it at earlier public forums, an esteemed Architecture Dean resigned rather than live with it, and three professors sought an injunction to block guns from their classrooms; a federal judge just denied their request. Campaign organizers have asked students to “open carry” or hang the sex toys on backpacks until the law is changed: “Why leave your dildos at home if other people won’t leave their guns at home? Wear ‘em proudly until SB11 is repealed.”

    • Top 6 Reasons Turkey is Finally attacking ISIL in Syria’s Jarabulus

      Turkey and coalition allies launch air strikes Wednesday morning against the Daesh (ISIS, ISIL) stronghold of Jarabulus, on the Syrian side near the Turkish border. At the same time, Turkish artillery on the ground pounded the town. With Manbij in the hands of the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces, Jarabulus is the last town affording a smuggling route for men and arms from Turkey into Syria’s al-Raqqa, the HQ of Daesh in the country. Turkey has left Jarabulus alone for years and winked at the Daesh smugglers. Why is it acting now?

    • Every Syrian fighter is waging an existential battle that can only end in victory or death

      Five-year-old Omran Daqneesh, his face bloody and bruised from bomb blast, stares out in bafflement at a world in which somebody had just tried to kill him. Pictures of his little figure in the back of an ambulance in Aleppo have swiftly become the living symbol of the slaughter in Syria and Iraq.

      In the past there would have been more demands for spurious responses to the latest atrocity in Syria, with calls for the immediate overthrow of President Bashar al-Assad or no-fly zones – measures that sound positive but are never going to happen. This time round there is greater wariness internationally about such quick-fix solutions, opening the way for more realistic action to reduce the present horrendous level of violence.

      I am always edgy about proposing anything that might mitigate the barbarity of the war in Syria and Iraq because explaining what aspects of the situation, however murderous, cannot be changed looks like justifying them. For instance, British policy since 2011 has been that Assad should go, but this was never going to happen because he controlled most of the population centres and was backed by Russia and Iran. To pretend otherwise might sound benign, but was in reality providing the ingredients for war without end.

    • Ankara’s climbdown on Assad

      Sharp changes in the war on Syria have impacted the policy of the Turkish government of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Initially Mr. Erdogan believed that the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad would fall precipitously. It did not. Rather than overthrow Mr. Assad, the war has placed Turkey itself in danger — a ‘failed coup’ on July 15 came alongside a renewed war against Turkey’s Kurdish population, just as Islamic State (IS) attacks in the country have raised alarm bells about Mr. Erdogan’s adventurism. An adjustment of Turkey’s policy is now on the cards. The President’s August 9 trip to Moscow to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin and the warm words exchanged when the Iranian Foreign Minister came to Turkey on August 10 indicate a change.

    • Arms Industry Donating to Hawkish Clinton Over Incoherent Trump

      Employees of 25 of the nation’s largest defense companies—such as Lockheed Martin, General Dynamics, and Raytheon—are choosing to fill the coffers of Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton over those of her rival, GOP nominee Donald Trump.

      That’s according to a new analysis by Politico, published Wednesday and based on federal campaign finance filings.

      Indeed, Politico found that Clinton—whose hawkish tendencies have been front-and-center during the 2016 campaign—is leading Trump “by a ratio of 2-to-1 in campaign donations from employees working for defense giants like Lockheed Martin and General Dynamics. That’s a sharp turnaround from 2012, when defense contractors gave more to then-Republican nominee Mitt Romney than to President Barack Obama.”

      Specifically, employees of those 25 firms have donated $93,000 to Clinton, compared with $46,000 for Trump. “Clinton’s donor rolls also include more than two dozen top defense executives, while Trump’s show just two,” Politico adds.

    • Let the Peace Games Begin

      After the Olympic games in Rio drew to a close, another set of games have begun: military exercises between the United States and South Korea to prepare for a possible armed conflict with North Korea.

    • U.S.-Backed Turkish Offensive in Syria Targets U.S.-Backed Kurds

      Turkey has “launched a major military intervention in Syria,” the Guardian reports, dispatching tanks and warplanes to purportedly reclaim the city of Jarabulus, currently held by the Islamic State (ISIS), and to attack Kurdish forces in northeastern Syria.

      “At 4am this morning, operations started in the north of Syria against terror groups which constantly threaten our country,” said Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in Ankara on Wednesday, according to the Guardian. Turkey’s government classifies Kurdish nationalists as terrorists, although Erdoğan also pointed to a bomb attack that killed 54 in Southern Turkey, which the Turkish regime blamed on ISIS, as justification for Wednesday’s siege in Syria.

      Turkey’s onslaught is backed by the U.S., while the Kurdish group that Turkey is targeting, the leftwing Kurdish nationalist YPG, is also backed by the United States.

      “If Turkey’s forces drive out ISIS,” observes the Christian Science Monitor, “it could lead to a messy confrontation between the Turkish government and the U.S.-backed YPG.”

      And while Turkey has long battled against Kurdish nationalists both within and outside of its borders while the West turned a blind eye, Wednesday marks the first large-scale Turkish military operation against Kurdish militias in Syria.

    • U.S. Weapons Sales Are Drenched in Yemeni Blood

      When Pope Francis visited the U.S. Congress in September 2015, he boldly posed a moral challenge to his American hosts, asking: “Why are deadly weapons being sold to those who plan to inflict untold suffering on individuals and society?”

      “Sadly, the answer, as we all know, is simply for money,” he solemnly concluded. “Money that is drenched in blood.”

      In this case, it’s innocent Yemeni blood.

      During his almost eight years in office, President Obama has approved a jaw-dropping, record-breaking $110 billion in weapons sales to the repressive Saudi regime, all with Congressional backing.

      “In the face of this shameful and culpable silence, it is our duty to confront the problem and stop the arms trade,” Pope Francis said. Our lawmakers have failed miserably at heeding the Pope’s call.

    • Muslim leader ‘murdered by IS supporters for practising Islamic healing’

      Two IS supporters murdered an imam because they viewed his practice of Islamic healing as “black magic”, a jury has heard.

      Jalal Uddin, 71, suffered multiple injuries to his head and face in an attack, thought to have involved a hammer, in a children’s play area in Rochdale, Greater Manchester, on the evening of February 18 this year.

      The Crown say the Bangladeshi national was targeted after he left the mosque where he usually prayed, ate a meal at a friend’s house and then walked home.

      Mohammed Hussain Syeedy, 22, and Mohammed Abdul Kadir, 24, were said to have developed “a hatred” of Mr Uddin when they discovered last year that he practised Ruqya healing – which involves the use of amulets.

    • Lawyer: Timbuktu Residents Felt Shame After Sites Destroyed

      By reducing historic mausoleums in Timbuktu to dusty piles of rubble, Islamic extremists desecrated holy sites, leaving residents ashamed and impoverished, a lawyer said Wednesday at the trial of the man accused of leading the destruction.

      Mayombo Kassongo, who represented victims at the trial of Muslim radical Ahmad Al Faqi Al Mahdi, said locals expressed “shame at seeing their saints stripped naked.”

      Al Mahdi led pickax-wielding rebels who wrecked the simple mud-brick mausoleums covering the saints’ tombs in June and July 2012 in the famed city in the Saharan nation of Mali. Kassongo said the destruction of the World Heritage-listed sites was also a financial blow to residents, crippling tourism in the remote African city.

      Al Mahdi pleaded guilty and expressed remorse Monday for his role in leading the destruction of nine mausoleums and a mosque door in Timbuktu and urged Muslims around the world not to commit similar acts.

      “They are not going to lead to any good for humanity,” he said.

      The trial is continuing despite Al Mahdi’s guilty plea to give Timbuktu residents a chance to speak about the impact of the destruction and to allow prosecutors and his defense lawyer to discuss a possible sentence.

      Prosecution lawyer Gilles Dutertre said Al Mahdi played “a key role” in the 2012 destruction and urged judges to sentence him to between nine and 11 years in prison.

    • Margaret Thatcher’s role in securing controversial £42bn arms deal with Saudi Arabia revealed

      Newly released files have exposed the role Margaret Thatcher personally played in securing one of the UK’s biggest and most controversial arms deals.

      The previously secret files show how officials helped then Prime Minister Mrs Thatcher carefully negotiate the notorious Al-Yamamah deal which saw Britain sell fighter jets to Saudi Arabia.

      The documents detail a meeting and private lunch between Mrs Thatcher and King Fahd, soon after which the £42bn contract was clinched, sparking anger form arms-trade campaigners.

      It came back to haunt Tony Blair who intervened to stop an investigation into the deal, that was exploring claims of ran a multimillion-pound “slush fund”.

    • US arms sale to Saudi Arabia under fire from lawmakers

      A bipartisan quartet of lawmakers is circulating a letter that seeks to delay a pending arms sale to Saudi Arabia.

      The lawmakers are targeting the arms sale as part of their opposition to U.S. support for the Saudi-led bombing campaign in Yemen against Iran-backed Houthi rebels.

      Lawmaker criticism of U.S. support for the campaign has recently grown louder, following Saudi airstrikes that hit a school and a hospital, killing dozens of civilians.

      The $1.15 billion arms sale, which the State Department approved on Aug. 9, would include up to 153 tanks, hundreds of machines guns, ammunition and other equipment.

      By law, Congress has 30 days to block the sale, but the lawmakers are concerned that notification was given during Congress’s summer recess and that the 30-day period will end with lawmakers having just returned to D.C.

      “Any decision to sell more arms to Saudi Arabia should be given adequate time for full deliberation by Congress,” the letter to President Obama will say, according to a draft. “We are concerned, however, that the timing of this notification during the August congressional recess could be interpreted to mean that Congress has little time to consider the arms deal when it returns from recess within the 30 day window established by law.”

    • Filipino maid ‘raped by employer’ in Saudi Arabia dies in hospital

      A Filipino maid has reportedly died in Saudi Arabia after seeing her alleged rapist in the hospital where she was confined.

      Imra Edloy, 35, was rushed to King Salman Hospital in Riyadh on 13 August with severe injuries suspected to be from sexual assault. She fell into a coma soon after arriving in the hospital.

      While she was unable to identify her attacker, before falling unconscious she pointed at her employer when asked who abused her, ABS CBN News reports.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • Global warming signal can be traced back to the 1830s, climate scientists say

      When Charles Dickens, the English novelist, was detailing the “soft black drizzle” of pollution over London, he might inadvertently have been chronicling the early signs of global warming.

      New research led by Australian scientists has pegged back the timing of when humans had clearly begun to change the climate to the 1830s.

    • North Dakota and Feds Suppress Native American Pipeline Protesters

      What’s the difference between these two pipelines? Only variations are the origin of the oil they may transport and their location as far as I can tell since they are described as competing pipelines.

      Oh, and the Keystone XL pipeline was vetoed by President Obama a year ago this past February because Congress tried to ram through approval, attempting to “circumvent longstanding and proven processes for determining whether or not building and operating a cross-border pipeline serves the national interest,” according to the president.

      In both cases — Keystone XL and the Dakota Access — the planned pipelines traversed Native American tribal lands and/or water systems upon which these sovereign nations relied. The affected tribes have protested the credible threats these pipelines pose to their health and safety as well as their heritage and sovereignty.

    • As Court Hears Arguments in Dakota Pipeline Suit, Protesters Say ‘Protect Our Water’

      As peaceful prayer camps grow in North Dakota against the controversial Dakota Access Pipeline, demonstrators in Washington, D.C. are marching and chanting in solidarity while a U.S. federal court hears arguments regarding the Standing Rock Sioux tribe’s motion to halt pipeline construction.

    • Scale of Threat Seismic Blasting Poses to Whales, Dolphins Laid Bare

      Though the Obama administration in March put a halt on drilling for oil and gas in Atlantic, the dolphins and whales inhabiting the waters are still at risk, says one ocean conservation group, as proposed seismic airgun blasting to look for reserves of the fossil fuels would leave the marine mammals “profoundly impacted.”

      The scale of the threat they face was laid bare on Wednesday with a pair of new maps released by by Oceana. Based on extensive research from Duke University’s Marine Geospatial Ecology Lab, the maps—one for bottlenose dolphins and the other for endangered humpback, fin, and sperm whales—show the overlapping areas of the proposed blasting in the area stretching from Delaware to Florida and the density of the whales and dolphins in those waters over a 12-month period.

  • Finance

    • 20 Years Later, Poverty Is Up, But Architects of “Welfare Reform” Have No Regrets

      A gathering Monday in Washington, D.C., featured a bipartisan group of former government officials agreeing on the benefits of slashing the nation’s safety net.

      This week marks the 20th anniversary of “welfare reform,” the 1996 law passed by Congress and administered by President Bill Clinton that strictly limited the amount of federal cash assistance that the poorest Americans can receive — transforming the Aid for Families with Dependent Children program into the more restrictive Temporary Aid for Needy Families.

      One of the main impacts of the law was to help double the number of American households living in extreme poverty in America – defined as living on less than $2 a day.

      The Capitol Hill event, hosted by the right-leaning American Enterprise Institute and the Progressive Policy Institute, which has been referred to as President Bill Clinton’s “idea mill,” celebrated the 20th anniversary of the law. Its architects said they had no regrets about its passage.

      Former Michigan Republican governor John Engler, who pioneered state-level welfare cutbacks and who today serves as the head of the corporate lobbying group the Business Roundtable, recounted how Bill Clinton’s support helped make national welfare reform possible.

      “It was pretty stunning in 1992 to have a Democratic candidate for president, albeit a 12-year veteran in the governor’s office talking about ending ‘welfare as we know it,’” he said. “That was a pretty decisive moment.”

      Right-wing praise for Bill Clinton was a reoccurring theme at the event. Robert Rector, a Heritage Foundation scholar who has been dubbed the “intellectual godfather” of welfare reform, claimed that Clinton took up the same cause as Ronald Reagan, allowing him to outmaneuver George W.H. Bush. “In my perspective that’s the issue that put Clinton in the White House in ’93,” Rector said.

    • Where Has All the Money for Our Schools Gone?

      As fall approaches, millions of moms and dads are scrambling to prepare for the first day of school, excited to support their children’s success.

      But are schools ready to receive our kids and foster that success? Increasingly, the answer is no.

      In at least 18 states, local government funding levels are declining, according to an analysis by the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities. And as a result, many schools will open with fewer teachers than last year, among other detrimental losses.

      As lawmakers throw up their hands and say, “sorry, there’s just not enough money,” we must ask: Where has all the money gone?

    • Stiglitz Blasts ‘Outrageous’ TPP as Obama Campaigns for Corporate-Friendly Deal

      Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz has reiterated his opposition to the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP), saying on Tuesday that President Barack Obama’s push to get the trade deal passed during the upcoming lame-duck session of Congress is “outrageous” and “absolutely wrong.”

      Stiglitz, an economics professor at Columbia University and chief economist of the Roosevelt Institute, made the comments on CNN’s “Quest Means Business.”

      His criticism comes as Obama aggressively campaigns to get lawmakers to pass the TPP in the Nov. 9 to Jan. 3 window—even as resistance mounts against the 12-nation deal.

      Echoing an argument made by Center for Economic and Policy Research co-director Mark Weisbrot, Stiglitz said, “At the lame-duck session you have congressmen voting who know that they’re not accountable anymore.”

    • Mississippi Parents Demand an Answer: Are Charter Schools Constitutional?

      Mississippi parents are challenging the public funding of charter schools on the grounds that it’s not constitutional.

      The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), an advocacy group, filed a motion for a summary judgment this week on behalf of the parents, for a speedy answer to this question.

      The only debate in the case is that of constitutionality, which makes it prime for answering, SPLC told Hinds County Chancery Judge Dewayne Thomas. The SPLC in July backed the lawsuit by several parents against Governor Phil Bryant, the Mississippi Department of Education, and the Jackson Public School District that challenged the funding of state charter schools.

      Plaintiffs say that because the privately-run, publicly-funded, corporate institutions are not overseen by the state or local superintendents, they do not qualify as “free” schools and therefore shouldn’t be eligible for taxpayer money. Three charter schools in Jackson are currently slated to receive $4 million in public funds this year.

    • Mississippi Charter School Challengers Seek Quick Judgment

      The plaintiffs project that the state and Jackson will transfer $4 million this year to three charter schools. About one-third of that money is collected from property taxes on buildings, vehicles and equipment.

    • Can Workers Get a Fair Deal in the Gig Economy?

      More and more businesses are exploiting what is known as the “1099 worker loophole”—hiring workers as “independent contractors” instead of as regularly employed workers. In some cases, companies have laid off all or most of their regular workers and then hired them back, but as independent contractors.

    • It Is Time to Begin the Process of Rebuilding Our Middle-Class Economy

      In The New York Times recently, the paper’s former Washington bureau chief, the veteran journalist Hedrick Smith, asked an important question: “Can the States Save American Democracy?” Smith, who traveled the country to write his latest book, Who Stole the American Dream?, also serves as the executive editor of the Reclaim the American Dream website, where he keeps a keen eye on efforts to revitalize politics closest to where people live. In his op-ed essay he answered his own question by reporting that “a broad array of state-level citizen movements are pressing for reforms… to give average voters more voice, make elections more competitive and ease gridlock in Congress.”

    • President Obama Aligns with Big Business to Smash Opposition to the TPP

      The Democratic primary of 2008, much like that of 2016, featured a sharp debate on global trade — about who writes the rules, who benefits, and who, ultimately, is harmed.

      And like 2016, the 2008 discussion was largely dominated by so-called trade agreements, namely the North American Free Trade Agreement. Signed into law by Bill Clinton in 1993, NAFTA encompassed the economies of Mexico, Canada, and the United States, and its implementation was accompanied by the usual lofty promises.

      Whether these promises were fulfilled is another question entirely. Barack Obama, during his run for the presidency, made his view quite clear.

      After noting that Hillary Clinton celebrated NAFTA in her memoir, calling it a “legislative victory,” Obama lamented that “One million jobs have been lost because of NAFTA.”

      “And yet, 10 years after NAFTA passed, Senator Clinton said it was good for America,” he continued. “Well, I don’t think NAFTA has been good for America — and I never have.”

    • 38 Degrees and the 52 per cent: ‘Members who voted Leave are just as much members as those who voted Remain.’

      Martin Shaw has recently criticised 38 Degrees for adopting a neutral stance on whether or not the UK should leave the European Union. Quite a lot of members voted for Brexit on 23 June; probably around half. It’s no wonder that some people find this surprising – Brexit is a polarising issue, and it’s been widely observed that social media feeds can amplify a sense that all our friends share all our views. Particularly in the immediate aftermath of the vote, when emotions were running high, I heard some 38 Degrees members on both sides of the divide express incredulity that they shared values and campaigns with people who’d voted the opposite way to them.

    • Venturing Into ‘the Capitalist Labyrinth’ (Video)

      In this week’s episode of “On Contact,” Truthdig columnist Chris Hedges sits down with Rob Urie, author of “Zen Economics,” to discuss “the capitalist labyrinth.”

      The two dive into the concept of the “economic man” or “economic woman” that Urie introduces in his book. Urie explains that humans are conditioned to feel that capitalism is a “natural” state of being. It’s “the integration of psychology with corporate desire,” he explains.

      Urie and Hedges then discuss the “radical alienation” produced by capitalism, particularly how the system is responsible for nuclear weapons, climate change and even imperialism. “Alienation is the bedrock of consumer culture,” Hedges notes.

    • Basic Income — slides in English

      I will be speaking about basic income in Turku, Finland, tomorrow Thursday August 25, at a seminar organized by the Finnish Pirate Party and Basic Income Earth Network (BIEN) Finland.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Get campaigning, UKIP’s Farage tells Donald Trump rally

      Outgoing UKIP leader Nigel Farage has urged Republicans to “get your walking boots on” and drum up support for Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump.

      He appeared before 15,000 activists in Jackson, Mississippi, being introduced by and sharing the stage with Mr Trump.

      And he said the party could “beat the pollsters” in the presidential race.

      Mr Trump, who is trailing his rival Hillary Clinton in the opinion polls, backed the UK’s exit from the EU.

      In a tweet last week, Mr Trump said: “They will soon be calling me Mr Brexit.”

      Mr Trump introduced Mr Farage as the man who “brilliantly” led the UK Independent Party’s campaign to secure a vote on the future of the UK’s 40-year membership of the European Union.

    • Donald Trump is Spending More on Hats and Other Merchandise Than on Campaign Staff

      Some GOP operatives and other political observers are starting to suspect that Donald Trump’s campaign is structured more as a publicity tour than a quest for the White House.

      Federal disclosures released this past weekend help make the case that the real estate mogul, at the very least, is not conducting a traditional campaign operation.

      They show, among other things, that Trump’s organization spent more money in July on the now-iconic “Make America Great Again” red hats, Trump T-shirts, and mugs than on the staff whose job it is to run the campaign.

      The Trump campaign paid more than $1.8 million to two vendors — California-based headwear-maker Cali-Fame and Louisiana’s Ace Specialties — for T-shirts, mugs, stickers, and the red hats (which the campaign spent over $400,000 on alone).

    • The Debut of Our Revolution: Great Potential. But.

      If Bernie and Our Revolution continue to evade the present-day realities of “the madness of militarism,” their political agenda will be significantly more limited than what our revolution requires for a truly progressive future.

    • ‘Our Revolution’ Kick-Off Signals New Phase for Movement Sanders Built
    • Bernie’s Next Revolution: New National Group to Launch to Promote Progressives

      Bernie Sanders returns to the political stage on Wednesday to try to do what no progressive has successfully done in decades—keep alive national grassroots momentum that led millions to support him and his agenda in 2016’s presidential nominating contests.

      At 9 PM Eastern, Sanders will address 2,600-plus meetings across the country to lay out the next steps in pushing the nation’s politics toward the progressive left. He will kick off a new group called Our Revolution, which will support like-minded candidates running for office and hold pro-corporate officeholders accountable on key issues.

    • Dear Us and Dear Bernie: A Few Notes on Our Revolution

      Left commentary berates mainstream media for serving up ‘too much Trump.” Fair enough, but left writers also flood us with endlessly repetitive Trump coverage.

      Left commentary claims that at election time an endless stream of writers overemphasize the ephemeral and ignore the serious. True, but left writers also continually repeat what people already know while offering few usable lessons for the future.

      Left commentary worries that Sanders will ratify the idea that politics is only about candidates and leave nothing lasting in place. Also fair, but left writers not only worry about this prospect, we contribute to it when we fixate on one person’s possible choices and ignore our own responsibility for achieving more.

      Left commentary bemoans distraction. Sensible, but the complaint becomes ironic when left writers continually repeat that elections don’t matter while not addressing what does matter, the longer term.

    • Understanding Trump’s Use of Language

      I have been repeatedly asked in media interviews about such use of language by Trump. So far as I can tell, he is simply using effective discourse mechanisms to communicate what his wants to communicate to his audience. I have found that he is very careful and very strategic in his use of language. The only way I know to show this is to function as a linguist and cognitive scientist and go through details.

      Let’s start with sentence fragments. It is common and natural in New York discourse for friends to finish one another’s sentences. And throughout the country, if you don’t actually say the rest of a friend’s sentence out loud, there is nevertheless a point at which you can finish it in your head. When this happens in cooperative discourse, it can show empathy and intimacy with a friend, that you know the context of the narrative, and that you understand and accept your friend’s framing of the situation so well that you can even finish what they have started to say. Of course, you can be bored with, or antagonistic to, someone and be able to finish their sentences with anything but a feeling of empathy and intimacy. But Trump prefers to talk to a friendly crowd.

    • Green Party’s Jill Stein Praises WikiLeaks, Calls Julian Assange a Hero
    • Questions About Clinton Campaign’s Transparency Ramp Up After a Weekend of Closed Fundraisers

      Meanwhile, concerns are growing about a potential conflict of interest between the Clinton Foundation and the government during Clinton’s tenure as secretary of state. And on Monday, it was announced that an additional 14,900 documents from Clinton’s private email server would be released by the State Department before the November election.

    • Donald Trump Isn’t Really Reaching Out To African-Americans

      Contrary to recent headlines, Donald Trump isn’t reaching out to African-Americans. He isn’t even talking to us. He’s talking past us, and saying exactly what his alt-right base wants to hear him saying to black folks.

      Donald Trump is telling African-Americans that our biggest problems are simply the result of listening to the wrong white people.

    • 4 experts make the case that the Clinton Foundation’s fundraising was troubling

      During the four years Hillary Clinton was secretary of state, the Clinton Foundation run by her husband took tens of millions of dollars from foreign governments and corporations.

      Many of these donors had a lot riding on Clinton’s decisions. Saudi Arabia gave the foundation up to $25 million, and Clinton signed off on a controversial $29 billion sale of fighter jets to the country. Oil companies gave the foundation around $3 million, and Clinton approved a lucrative gas pipeline in the Canadian tar sands they’d long sought.

      We’ve known the basics of this story for months now. But another media feeding frenzy over the foundation kicked off again on Monday, when the State Department was forced to release emails showing that the foundation’s leadership tried to land its top donors meetings with the secretary of state.

    • Hillary Clinton’s Fundraisers: No Press Allowed

      Campaign donors will see and hear a lot from Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton in the next month as she embarks on a fundraising tour, but voters will have little clue as to what she says behind closed doors.

    • FBI docs linked to Hillary Clinton role in Vince Foster’s suicide missing – report

      The FBI’s reports linked to Hillary Clinton’s role in the death of Vince Foster, a White House counsel and her friend, have allegedly gone missing. A journalistic investigation says it could be Clinton’s humiliation that pushed Foster to suicide.

      According to Daily Mail, documents containing interviews of Clinton conducted after Foster’s death in July 1993 have vanished from the National Archives.

      The report claims that author and journalist Ronald Kessler visited the National Archives and Records Service in College Park, Maryland multiple times to review the reports submitted by FBI agents investigating Foster’s suicide.

    • Huma Abedin’s ties to the Muslim Brotherhood

      The Clinton campaign is attempting once again to sweep important questions under the rug about top aide Huma Abedin, her family ties to the Muslim Brotherhood and to Saudi Arabia, and her role in the ballooning Clinton email scandal.

      The New York Post ran a detailed investigative piece over the weekend about Ms. Abedin’s work at the Journal of Muslim Minority Affairs from 1995 through 2008, a Sharia law journal whose editor in chief was Abedin’s own mother.

      This is not some accidental association. Ms. Abedin was, for many years, listed as an associate editor of the London-based publication and wrote for the journal while working as an intern in the Clinton White House in the mid-1990s.

      Her mother, Saleha Abedin, sits on the Presidency Staff Council of the International Islamic Council for Da’wa and Relief, a group that is chaired by the leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi.

      Perhaps recognizing how offensive such ties will be to voters concerned over future terrorist attacks on this country by radical Muslims professing allegiance to Sharia law, the Clinton campaign on Monday tried to downplay Ms. Abedin’s involvement in the Journal and the Muslim Brotherhood.

    • Why Did the Saudi Regime and Other Gulf Tyrannies Donate Millions to the Clinton Foundation?

      As the numerous and obvious ethical conflicts surrounding the Clinton Foundation receive more media scrutiny, the tactic of Clinton-loyal journalists is to highlight the charitable work done by the Foundation, and then insinuate – or even outright state – that anyone raising these questions is opposed to its charity. James Carville announced that those who criticize the Foundation are “going to hell.” Others Clinton loyalists insinuated that Clinton Foundation critics are indifferent to the lives of HIV-positive babies or are anti-gay bigots.

      That the Clinton Foundation has done some good work is beyond dispute. But that fact has exactly nothing to do with the profound ethical problems and corruption threats raised by the way its funds have been raised. Hillary Clinton was America’s chief diplomat, and tyrannical regimes such as the Saudis and Qataris jointly donated tens of millions of dollars to an organization run by her family and operated in their name, one whose works has been a prominent feature of her public persona. That extremely valuable opportunity to curry favor with the Clintons, and to secure access to them, continues as she runs for President.

    • Clinton Foundation Investigation Update: Key Details About Financial And Political Dealings

      The release of documents shedding more light on connections between the Clinton Foundation and the Clinton-led State Department has touched off a new political firestorm only weeks before voters begin heading to the polls in the 2016 election.

      Republican nominee Donald Trump — himself a foundation donor — has called for a special prosecutor to investigate the foundation, and Trump’s running mate, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, has said the new disclosures are “evidence of the pay-to-play politics.” By contrast, the Clinton campaign has argued that there is no proof of any quid pro quo — a message echoed by her supporters in the pundit world.

      As the rhetoric about the Clintons’ public and private financial dealings intensifies, here is a brief review of the major investigative reporting that has been done about the Clinton Foundation.

    • Army Training Lesson Cited Clinton as ‘Insider’ Threat Risk

      An Army training presentation on insider threats included Hillary Clinton among a rogue’s gallery of killers and leakers, citing the former secretary of state as an example of “careless or disgruntled employees,” NBC News confirmed on Tuesday.

      The unclassified slide, which first emerged on a Facebook page that spoofs the military, was confirmed by a U.S. military officials, who said it was used as part of a lesson on how to secure classified materials and improve safety.

      A spokesperson from the Army’s Training and Doctrine Command said the slide was developed 18 months ago.

      “As is common with Army training requirements, the local unit was given latitude to develop their own training products to accomplish the overall training objective,” the spokesperson said in a statement.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • Europeans In Exodus To Russian Facebook to Avoid Censorship

      Germans who are critical of Islam and mass migration are fleeing to the site VK, known as the Russian Facebook to avoid censorship of their remarks and possible raids on their homes.

    • Council censorship eliminates free speech and thought

      There are a lot of TV and print and talk shows about terrorism here and terrorism there. It is a serious matter, terrorism is. What makes it worrisome is that it is not well defined, and it seems some government officials want it that way.

      Some of you may not recognize total censorship or censorship as terrorism. The Peoples got punished over the last few years for having an opinion about corruption in Colville tribal government from the top down. Letters to the editor were removed from our tribal newsprint in total.

      The “Clowncil” and its staff are lying about the censorship imposed since 2013. And now the Clowncil, through its staff, are lying about the censorship again, as they lifted “total censorship” and replaced it with “censorship.”

      Please re-read the December 2014 Tribal Tribune (TT) edition, page A6 “Letter To The Editor Policy.” “Policy” restricts tribal members’ freedom to have a letter also printed in outside newspapers while getting printed in the TT (paragraph 1) with a threat of total censorship; narrows the scope of topics a tribal members may write about (paragraph 3); requires a “respectful/professional tone” but does not define it, leaving censorship in whole (paragraph 4); Editor determines his or her own “facts” (paragraph 5); Editor determines what “hatred, contempt, suspicion or wrongdoing, scorn or ridicule” means and will censor according to the editor’s “belief” (paragraph 6). These standards are outside the bounds of journalistic “libel laws;” therefore, they narrow the scope of free speech and free thought, and, in actuality, eliminate both.

    • You don’t need to look abroad to find rampant censorship – it’s right here in Britain

      Since 9/11, Britons are increasingly watched, shadowed and snooped. This week the wall featuring the mural was smashed. I suspected silent censorship. Turns out it was a dopey builder. So, as it turns out, I was being somewhat paranoid and hasty. But is that worse than being sluggishly trusting and complacent? I was raised in Uganda where the state censored the media, books, art, and song lyrics. Citizens there were more alert to the danger than we are in the UK.

    • Censorship or smart thinking? UWM ‘Inclusive Excellence” group pushing to silence certain words

      But Williford said a list of words some deem offensive has him questioning a relatively new campus guideline.

      [...]

      Hill said “Just Words” is merely a suggestion — not censorship.

      “We are not doing that at all. As a matter of fact, we`re trying to improve and have open dialogue,” Hill said.

      Also on the list: ‘ghetto,’ ‘Nazi’ and even ‘politically correct.’

    • Cloudflare Fights RIAA’s Piracy Blocking Demands in Court

      Cloudflare has made it clear that the company isn’t going to block piracy sites without a proper court order. In addition, it now opposes an injunction requested by the RIAA, under which it would have to disconnect alleged MP3Skull accounts based on a keyword and IP-address.

    • CloudFlare Protects Internet Users By Insisting On Lawful Orders Before Blocking Customers

      This month, the online service provider CloudFlare stood up for its website-owner customers, and for all users of those websites, by telling a court that CloudFlare shouldn’t be forced to block sites without proper legal procedure. Copyright law limits the kinds of orders that a court can impose on Internet intermediaries, and requires courts to consider the pros and cons thoroughly. In this case, as in other recent cases, copyright (and trademark) holders are trying to use extremely broad interpretations of some basic court rules to bypass these important protections. As special interests keep trying to make things disappear from the Internet quickly, cheaply, and without true court supervision, it’s more important than ever that Internet companies like CloudFlare are taking a stand.

      The current dispute between CloudFlare and a group of record labels arose from the labels’ case against the music streaming site MP3Skull. The website’s owners never appeared in court to defend themselves against a lawsuit by the labels. The labels, who are all members of the Recording Industry Association of America, won a court judgment by default in March of this year. The judgment included a permanent injunction against the site and those in “active concert and participation” with it. On the last day of June, the labels’ lawyers sent the order to CloudFlare and demanded that they immediately stop providing services to various Internet addresses and domain names connected with MP3Skull.

    • Goodbye to the Loudest Drunk in NPR’s Online Bar

      Good riddance to NPR’s comment section, which is shutting down Tuesday after eight years. There has to be a better way for news organizations to engage with the public.

      NPR is joining a growing list of media organizations that have said “finito” to comments including, ‘This American Life,’ Reuters, Recode, Mic, The Chicago Sun-Times, Popular Science, CNN, The Toronto Star and The Week.

      When comments sections were initiated on news sites, they were hailed as a means to democratize the media, allowing a two-way conversation between readers and the journalists who serve them.

    • Singapore to cut off public servants from the internet

      Singapore is planning to cut off web access for public servants as a defence against potential cyber attack – a move closely watched by critics who say it marks a retreat for a technologically advanced city-state that has trademarked the term “smart nation”.

      Some security experts say the policy, due to be in place by May, risks damaging productivity among civil servants and those working at more than four dozen statutory boards, and cutting them off from the people they serve. It may only raise slightly the defensive walls against cyber attack, they say.

      Ben Desjardins, director of security solutions at network security firm Radware, called it “one of the more extreme measures I can recall by a large public organisation to combat cyber security risks”. Stephen Dane, a Hong Kong-based managing director at networking company Cisco Systems, said it was “a most unusual situation” and Ramki Thurimella, chair of the computer science department at the University of Denver, called it both “unprecedented” and “a little excessive”.

    • The gatekeepers are dead. Long live the World Wide Web!

      Until recently the tools for mass communication were expensive and in the hands of a small number of gatekeepers. Then, the price rapidly fell towards zero. With the Internet and the World Wide Web (that just turned 25 years old) anyone can communicate with the world by words, pictures, sound, and video – 24/365 – on a shoestring budget.

      Still, people need to know about you. So fame, reputation, and status are factors to take into consideration. But content, quality (in some sense) and virality is the new gold standard.

      This has upset the people who used to be in power, like bigwig politicians. They used to have their press releases copy-pasted into the media news flow without too much hassle. Today they still are visible in the slowly dying mainstream media. But on the Internet, they have to compete for attention with everybody and everything else.

      Also, media proprietors, the copyright industry and the big brick and mortar chains are upset – just to mention a few.

      It could have been very different.

      Tim Berners-Lee – who invented the Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP) together with his friends at W3C at Cern – decided not to patent this method of connecting the dots in the Matrix, but to give it to the world.

    • No Press Intimidation by Trump – hence: BREAKING REPORT: Melania Trump Was A Sex Worker After Moving To United States – repeating story the Trump Attorneys are now making bigger story than it was

      There is a story in a major British newspaper The Daily Mail, which reports that there are now stories that Melania Trump, who was a nude model in her past – that is not under question, had also been an Escort model ie a hooker ie a prostitute and has been working as a hooker, ie Escort in New York before she married Donald Trump. I do take it upon myself to ridicule and laugh at Donald Trump’s absurd political run this year. I did laugh at Melania when she was caught plagiarizing Michelle Obama’s speech at the Republican Convention in July and as it since emerged, she has lied about having a college degree from Ljubljana University in Slovenia, which she does not (they have removed references to the fake degree from her website since this news broke out). But this blog is not at war with Trump’s third wife, bought by Trump sixteen years ago, to rear some kids for Trump that Trump himself won’t bother to get to know until they’ve grown up to be adults. Wives, that Trump buys from East Europe and replaces roughly every 16 years. I was mainly focused on mocking Trump himself.

      [...]

      The Trump attorneys attacked Liberal America and Andrew Bradford insisting he must apologize or be sued .Andrew is not rich enough to defend himself against a Billionaire’s attorney attack-dogs so he relented and wrote an apology. Its quite an epic apology which does its best to keep all of the accusations still in view, and he also published in full the attorney’s letter. A letter which uses such phrases as “Melania Trump was a sex worker after moving to the United States” haha. So it is that letter in verbatim, which is now on the blogsite and further hopefully adding to smear Melania Trump’s name. But still, I feel very strongly about freedom of speech and feel a strong personal sense of support to Mr Bradfort that I have never met. I have never even heard of their publication, the Liberal America. But I now of course add my blog to the support of that issue. I link from this blog to Liberal America and I urge my readers to go read Andrew’s very smart article where he deals with the attorneys’ demand for apology.

    • How Facebook censors your posts
    • Activists Call for Facebook to Adopt ‘Anti-Censorship’ Policy
    • Unlike This: Social Media Companies Bow to Government Censorship Requests
    • Open letter to Facebook asks for ‘anti-censorship’ policy after Korryn Gaines death
    • Teen Vlogger Amos Yee Pleads Guilty To Two Charges, May Face Jail Time
    • Amos Yee pleads guilty to three out of six remaining charges
    • ‘That’s a Couple of Weeks in Jail’ – Singaporean Blogger Tweets During Trial
    • Amos Yee does U-turn and pleads guilty to two of his eight charges
    • Blogger Amos Yee, in another U-turn, pleads guilty to three more charges
    • Amos Yee pleads guilty to two charges
  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • US parents largely unaware of what their children do online, research finds

      The parents of America’s digitally literate teenagers are largely in the dark about their children’s internet activity, new research has shown.

      The new study on teen internet use by the National Cyber Security Alliance found that only 13% of teens thought their parents understood the extent of their internet use.

      The survey of 804 online teens and 810 parents of teens found that 60% of teens have created accounts for apps or social media sites without their parents’ knowledge. Only 28% of parents thought their teens had accounts they didn’t know about.

      The gap between what teens are doing and what their parents know about is indicative of what the NCSA is calling a “digital disconnect between American teens and parents”.

    • Using PGP Phones Doesn’t Make You a Criminal, Ontario Judge Says

      Messaging your gun-toting, drug-trafficking friends by way of encrypted message isn’t proof that you’re a gun-toting drug-trafficker, an Ontario court has ruled.

      That useful bit of information comes after police booked a Hamilton man following a search of his room that turned up a 9mm Smith & Wesson unloaded handgun, a sock full of bullets, and a few grams of cocaine. They slapped five criminal charges on him, and hauled him before a judge.

      The Hamilton man was caught up in the investigation as police looked into a suspected drug trafficking ring. He just happened to be living at an address that was connected to the investigation.

      But his defense lawyers were quick to pick apart the search warrant that allowed the cops to bust down his door, and pry open his safe.

    • Germany, France demand golden key AND strong encryption just when you thought politicians had clued in to basic reality

      In a new level of dumb, Germany and France are demanding strong encryption for all citizens at the same time as they demand this strong encryption to be breakable. They also demand messaging providers of end-to-end encryption to provide police with keys they don’t have, and for terrorists to stop using freely available strong encryption without a messaging provider. You really couldn’t sound dumber if you tried.

    • Kuwait’s new DNA collection law is scarier than we ever imagined

      Horrible laws often follow major terrorist attacks. After 9/11, the U.S. Congress passed the Patriot Act. After the Charlie Hebdo shooting in Paris last year, European powers contemplated sweeping, strikingly bold internet surveillance laws. Following a July attack in Nice, French officials have passed laughably absurd laws against Muslim women wearing burkinis at public beaches.

      But after an ISIS-linked man ignited a bomb in a Shiite mosque in Kuwait last year, killing 27, the mother of all troubling laws was rushed through the country’s Parliament. The law requires that all citizens, residents and visitors to the country submit DNA samples to enter or stay in the country. It was passed in the name of national security and in helping identify victims of large scale attacks.

    • Liberal, Moderate or Conservative? See How Facebook Labels You

      You may think you are discreet about your political views. But Facebook, the world’s largest social media network, has come up with its own determination of your political leanings, based on your activity on the site.

      And now, it is easy to find out how Facebook has categorized you — as very liberal or very conservative, or somewhere in between.

      Try this (it works best on your desktop computer):

      Go to facebook.com/ads/preferences on your browser. (You may have to log in to Facebook first.)

      That will bring you to a page with your ad preferences. Under the “Interests” header, click the “Lifestyle and Culture” tab.

      Then look for a box titled “US Politics.” In parentheses, it will describe how Facebook has categorized you, such as liberal, moderate or conservative.

      (If the “US Politics” box does not show up, click the “See more” button under the grid of boxes.)

    • Report Shows Post-9/11 NYPD Spying on Muslims to Be ‘Highly Irregular’ [Ed: Not spying sufficiently on Wall Street hedge funds/banks because “Expensive lawyers”, “Job creators”, and “Free market”]

      In the wake of 9/11, New York City police repeatedly violated safeguards meant to protect lawful political and religious activities from unwarranted surveillance, according to the department’s own inspector general.

      A report (pdf) from the New York Police Department (NYPD)’s Office of the Inspector General (OIG), released Tuesday, found the department to be “often non-compliant with a number of the rules” by failing to secure proper authorization or extensions for investigations of political activity, particularly those involving Muslims.

      The probe examined a sample of all closed cases between 2010 and 2015, some of which were opened as far back as 2004. More than 95 percent of the cases, according to the document, involved Muslims or political activity associated with Islam.

    • FMA joins National Privacy Commission in holding public consultations on privacy rules

      Following a successful, albeit brief consultation during a Philippine Computer Society meeting on June 28, the NPC partnered with a variety of groups from civil society, the research community, and the government to hold back-to-back consultations on July 13 and 14 at the University of the Philippines Diliman and Ateneo de Davao University, respectively. FMA participated in both consultations as a co-organizer. FMA organized another public consultation in Cebu City on July 28, whereas UP Manila hosted the last round on August 16.

    • Takedowns of Shadow Brokers Files Affirm Files as Stolen

      Now, don’t get me wrong. These are dangerous files, and I can understand why social media companies would want to close the barn door on the raging wild horses that once were in their stable.

      But underlying it all appears to be a notion of property that I’m a bit troubled by. Even if Shadow Brokers stole these files from NSA servers — something not at all in evidence — they effectively stole NSA’s own tools to break the law. But if these sites are treating the exploits themselves as stolen property, than so would be all the journalism writing about it.

      Finally, there’s the question of how these all came down so quickly. Almost as if someone called and reported their property stolen.

    • US Intelligence Still Sorting Out NSA Hack

      The US is still probing the extent of a recent cyber leak of what purports to be hacking tools used by the National Security Agency, the nation’s top intelligence official said Wednesday.

      “We are still sorting this out,” James Clapper, director of national intelligence, said at an event at the Nixon Presidential Library and Museum in Yorba Linda, California.

      “It’s still under investigation,” Clapper said. “We don’t know exactly the full extent – or the understanding – of exactly what happened.”

      The tool kit consists of malicious software intended to tamper with firewalls, the electronic defenses protecting computer networks. The leak has set the information security world atwitter – and sent major companies rushing to update their defenses.

    • Word Games: What the NSA Means by “Targeted” Surveillance Under Section 702

      We all know that the NSA uses word games to hide and downplay its activities. Words like “collect,” “conversations,” “communications,” and even “surveillance” have suffered tortured definitions that create confusion rather than clarity.

      There’s another one to watch: “targeted” v. “mass” surveillance.

    • A hacker claims he has more leaked NSA files to view — If you can solve this puzzle

      A hacker named 1×0123 claims he has the other half of the recently-leaked NSA hacking toolkit for sale — but samples of the dataset are only available if you can figure out his cryptographic puzzle.

      On Sunday, the hacker posted on Twitter that he was selling the entire archive of files for $8,000, seemingly undercutting the mysterious “Shadow Brokers” hacking group that leaked one-half of the archive last week at various file-sharing websites with claims of an “auction” for the rest.

      It appears that 1×0123 is indeed a hacker who has found and sold security vulnerabilities in the past. Even ex-NSA contractor Edward Snowden praised him in April for finding an issue on the Freedom of the Press website.

    • NSA’s leaked exploits affect Cisco, Juniper… and US foreign policy?

      An unprecedented data dump, of security exploits believed to originate form within the US National Security Agency (NSA) has left some firms scrambling to fix security holes dating back years, and revealed the extent to which the NSA stockpiles cyber-weapons..

      The dump includes attacks on network products from several vendors, including Cisco and Juniper. These so-called ’zero day exploits’ take advantage of software vulnerabilities which have been found, and kept secret from the vendor. Until the vendor knows and fixes these weaknesses, they can be attacked, and the exploits can be used with ’cyber weapons’. The dump appears to show the US agency is stockpiling these exploits, but that another power gained access to its stash of weapons – revelations which could have serious ramifications for the US cyber security and cyber warfare team, as well as for foreign relations.

    • Juniper confirms leaked “NSA exploits” affect its firewalls, no patch released yet

      Juniper confirmed exploits leaked by the Shadow Brokers group appear to affect its firewalls, but has not yet patched the vulnerabilities.

      The firewall manufacturer is “investigating the recent release of files reported to have been taken from the so-called Equation Group,” Juniper’s security incident response manager Derrick Scholl wrote in a corporate blog post.

      Juniper identified an exploit affecting its NetScreen firewall devices that run on the ScreenOS operating system. Initial analysis of the exploit “indicates it targets the boot loader and does not exploit a vulnerability on ScreenOS devices,” Scholl wrote in the post.

      On Tuesday, Ixia’s application and threat intelligence unit discovered an exploit that targets Watchguard Firewalls, according to Steve McGregory, senior director of the ATI group said in emailed comments to SCMagazine.com. Four of the exploits affect TopSec firewalls, primarily used in China, he added.

    • Second Snowden could be behind sale of NSA hacking tools

      WE ARE getting closer to unmasking the Shadow Brokers. Last week, the group put hacking tools from the National Security Agency up for auction, including security flaws in companies’ systems and remote access tools. There have been no serious bidders, but the documents have been confirmed as the real deal, raising the spectre of another whistleblower at the agency.

      Initially, the prime suspect was Russia, but this theory has now been downgraded. Certain naming conventions in the files point to scripts only accessible on a machine physically isolated from the network and therefore inaccessible to anyone not physically present in the NSA building. The idea that it was an accidental upload has also been debunked, shifting the focus internally.

      However, it couldn’t have been Edward Snowden, pictured, as it looks like the tools were stolen around October 2013, five months after he fled to Hong Kong.

    • Everyone’s Already Using the Leaked NSA Exploits

      Last week, an anonymous group calling itself the Shadow Brokers leaked a bunch of National Security Agency hacking tools. Whoever they are, the Shadow Brokers say they still have more data to dump. But the preview has already unleashed some notable vulnerabilities, complete with tips for how to use them.

      All of which means anyone—curious kids, petty criminals, trolls—can now start hacking like a spy. And it looks like they are.

      Curious to learn if anyone was indeed trying to take advantage of the leak, Brendan Dolan-Gavitt—a security researcher at NYU—set up a honeypot. On August 18 he tossed out a digital lure that masqueraded as a system containing one of the vulnerabilities. For his experiment, Dolan-Gavitt used a Cisco security software bug from the leak that people have learned to fix with workarounds, but that doesn’t have a patch yet.

      Within 24 hours Dolan-Gavitt saw someone trying to exploit the vulnerability, with a few attempts every day since. “I’m not surprised that someone tried to exploit it,” Dolan-Gavitt says. Even for someone with limited technical proficiency, vulnerable systems are relatively easy to find using services like Shodan, a search engine of Internet-connected systems. “People maybe read the blog post about how to use the particular tool that carries out the exploit, and then either scanned the Internet themselves or just looked for vulnerable systems on Shodan and started trying to exploit them that way,” Dolan-Gavitt says. He explains that his honeypot was intentionally very visible online and was set up with easily guessable default passwords so it would be easy to hack.

    • France, Germany Want Encrypted App Makers To Help Stop IS

      France and Germany pushed Tuesday for Europe-wide rules requiring the makers of encrypted messaging apps such as Telegram to help governments monitor communications among suspected extremists.

      Privacy advocates argue that encryption is essential to online security, notably for banking transactions. But security experts say encrypted apps are increasingly used by extremists to hide their location, coordinate operations and trade weapons and sex slaves.

      Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said French authorities have detained three people this month with “clear attack plans,” but police need better tools to eavesdrop on encrypted text conversations utilizing the kinds of powers used to wiretap phones.

    • New leaks prove it: the NSA is putting us all at risk to be hacked

      The National Security Agency is lying to us. We know that because of data stolen from an NSA server was dumped on the internet. The agency is hoarding information about security vulnerabilities in the products you use, because it wants to use it to hack others’ computers. Those vulnerabilities aren’t being reported, and aren’t getting fixed, making your computers and networks unsafe.

      On August 13, a group calling itself the Shadow Brokers released 300 megabytes of NSA cyberweapon code on the internet. Near as we experts can tell, the NSA network itself wasn’t hacked; what probably happened was that a “staging server” for NSA cyberweapons — that is, a server the NSA was making use of to mask its surveillance activities — was hacked in 2013.

    • Nick Asks the NSA: Shadow Brokers and the Leaking Ship

      For the second installation of Nick Asks the NSA, I offer Congress my services as to what questions in their oversight capacity they should be asking NSA about the Shadow Broker leak.

      It now safe to say that the “Equation Group” leak by Shadow Brokers is real and consists of a genuine trove of NSA tools used to hack firewalls. The leaked code references known programs, uses a particularly unusual RC6 and cruddy crypto techniques previously associated with NSA implants, and the Washington Post has confirmed the authenticity of the materials with two anonymous ex-NSA employees.

    • NSA Targeted Chinese Firewall Maker Huawei, Leaked Documents Suggest

      When the mysterious Shadow Brokers dumped a cache of hacking tools used by an NSA-linked group last week, researchers quickly identified a number of the spy agencies’ targets, including American security companies like Cisco, Juniper, and Fortinet.

      But until now, no one noticed that the leaked files suggest the NSA has also been targeting—and was likely able to hack—firewalls made by Huawei, a Chinese manufacturer of network infrastructure often seen as a threat to American companies given the suspicion that the Chinese government might have a backdoor and could spy in its products. The revelation is contained in an instruction file part of the leak.

      Within one of the leaked files (TURBO_install-new.txt) there are references to VRP 3.30, a version of Huawei’s proprietary operating system. While 3.30 is an older version, it still appears to be popular, according to a search on Shodan, which returns more than 1,600 devices running that version, mostly in China.

    • After NSA leaks, a renewed interest in vulnerability disclosure

      The code leaked by the Shadow Brokers group last week has set off calls from security researchers and tech groups for a national conversation about vulnerability disclosure policy.

      The code contains about a dozen vulnerabilities affecting firewall manufacturers that many industry professionals believe to be exploits used by the National Security Agency (NSA).

      While the Obama administration’s Vulnerability Equities Process (VEP) calls on intelligence agencies to disclose security vulnerabilities by default, tech companies and security pros are concerned by the prospect of an unknown number of zero-day vulnerabilities possessed by intelligence agencies.

      The Shadow Brokers leak highlights the need for transparency in the government’s disclosure process, according to Mozilla senior policy manager Heather West. “If the government chooses to engage in lawful hacking, it must also support responsible disclosure,” she wrote in an email to SCMagazine.com.

    • FISA Court: Government Can Collect Content Along With Dialing Data Using Pen Register Orders

      The Director of National Intelligence’s office has cleared another FISA court opinion [PDF] for release. These are getting far more interesting to read, even if little seems to be changing about the FBI/NSA’s collection methods. The process is now a little bit more adversarial, thanks to the USA Freedom Act, which introduced the possibility of someone arguing on behalf of the surveilled and in the interest of privacy and the Fourth Amendment.

      Unfortunately, this opinion finds the FISA court mostly unimpressed with the counterarguments. The discussion involved the use of pen register orders to capture “post-cut through” dialing digits — the sort of thing the court determined to be content, rather than metadata in the past.

      This time around, the court seems more amenable to the government’s arguments that any digits obtained along with dialed phone numbers is fair game — whether or not the orders actually allow for the collection of communications content.

    • Warrant for former DA Paul Zellerbach in wiretap case

      A judge issued an arrest warrant Tuesday for former Riverside County District Attorney Paul Zellerbach after he failed to appear at a court hearing to answer questions about an eavesdropping operation so vast it once accounted for nearly a fifth of all U.S. wiretaps.

      The warrant, however, will not be sent to law enforcement for Zellerbach to be arrested unless he does not show up for another hearing on wiretaps, now scheduled for Sept. 30.

      “He should have been there,” said Jan Ronis, the attorney who subpoenaed Zellerbach. “But he just blew us off. We could have had court today.”

    • Arrest Warrant Issued For District Attorney Involved In DEA’s California Wiretap Warrant Mill

      It’s not uncommon for Zellerbach to go missing when people need him. When Zellerbach ran the DA’s office, he was rarely there. The DEA found his office to be just as accommodating, with or without him, though. Although the DEA was supposed to run its wiretap warrant requests through federal judges and have them signed by the district attorney himself, it often found it easier to obtain a signature from whoever happened to be at the office and run them by Riverside County judge Helios Hernandez, who approved five times as many wiretap applications as any other judge in the US.

      The wiretap applications’ reach frequently exceeded their jurisdictional grasp, traveling far outside of Riverside County, California, to be deployed against suspects as far away as North Carolina. But that was only one issue with the warrants applications approved by Zellerbach’s office.

      The DOJ’s lawyers didn’t like the DEA’s skirting of federal rules for wiretap applications.

    • Baltimore Police Are Secretly Spying on Residents from the Air: Bloomberg

      Since January, the Baltimore Police Department (BPD) has been using small aircrafts to spy on residents for as much as 10 hours a day, without informing the public, in a project financed by a private donor and facilitated by a private company, Bloomberg reported on Tuesday.

      The BPD, Bloomberg’s Monte Reel wrote, has been using aerial surveillance to investigate “all sorts of crimes, from property thefts to shootings.” The cameras capture an area of roughly 30 square miles and transmit images to analysts on the ground, while footage gets automatically saved to hard drives for later review.

      The technology comes from a company called Persistent Surveillance Systems. Its president, Ross McNutt, developed a similar tool for the Pentagon while working for the U.S. Air Force in 2006. Over time, he modified the technology for commercial use. McNutt eventually pitched the service to the BPD after his company had faltered in finding a department for a long-term contract. He opened his office in Baltimore in January, above a parking garage, denoted only by a piece of paper taped to his door that reads, “Community Support Program.”

    • Baltimore PD Can Keep Tabs On The Entire City, Thanks To Privately-Donated Aerial Surveillance System

      When all you have is repurposed war gear, everything looks like a war zone.

      It’s not just the Pentagon handing out mine-resistant vehicles and military rifles to any law enforcement agency that can spell “terrorism” correctly on a requisition form. It’s also the FBI acting as a gatekeeper (and muzzle) for cell phone-tracking hardware originally developed for use in Iraq and Afghanistan.

      The latest addition to the pantheon of “war gear, but for local law enforcement” is aerial surveillance. While this sort of surveillance is nothing new — police have had helicopters for years — the tech deployed to capture recordings is.

      Bloomberg has a long, in-depth article on aerial surveillance tech deployed by the Baltimore Police Department — all without ever informing constituents. Baltimore isn’t the first city to deploy this repurposed military tech. The Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department gave the same gear a test run back in 2014. The LASD also did little to inform the public about its purchase, claiming that people might get paranoid and/or angry if they knew.

      Baltimore’s acquisition of Persistent Surveillance Systems’ 192-million megapixel eye in the sky also occurred under the cover of governmental darkness. The tech was given to the police and paid for by a private donor — which kept the public out of the loop and any FOIA-able paper trail to a minimum.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Deaf driver’s shooting death by trooper under investigation

      The North Carolina Highway Patrol is urging people not to jump to conclusions as state agents investigate how a deaf driver with a history of minor offenses ended up dead after leading a trooper on a 10-mile chase.

      The family of Daniel Kevin Harris said he was unarmed and suggested the sequence of events last week was a tragic misunderstanding — the type the state’s training manual warns troopers to avoid when dealing with the hearing impaired.

      The investigation into the shooting is ongoing, Secretary Frank Perry of the state Department of Public Safety said in a news release.

      “Let us all refrain from making assumptions or drawing conclusions prior to the internal and independent reviews” by the patrol, the State Bureau of Investigation and the district attorney, said Perry, whose agency oversees the Highway Patrol.

    • Some thoughts that I don’t want to have, regarding people getting shot

      A number of (hearing) friends from a bunch of my (different) social circles recently sent me — almost simultaneously — links to news stories about Deaf people getting killed by cops who couldn’t communicate with them.

      This is nothing new. It’s been happening for ages. Someone with a gun gets scared and pulls the trigger, and someone else is dead. Maybe that person is Deaf. Maybe that person is Black. In any case, that person is now dead, and that’s not okay. (Maybe that person is both Deaf and Black, and we mention the second part but not the first. That’s disability erasure that, statistically, correlates highly with race; that’s also not okay.)

      I’ve been deaf as long as I can remember, and I’ve known these stories happened for a long, long time. But this is the first time I’ve watched them from inside the conversations of a Deaf community — for some definition of “inside” that includes confused mainstreamed-oral youngsters like me who are struggling to learn ASL and figure out where they fit.

    • Self-driving cars don’t care about your moral dilemmas

      As self-driving cars move from fiction to reality, a philosophical problem has become the focus of fierce debate among technologists across the world. But to the people actually making self driving cars, it’s kind of boring.

      The “trolley problem” is the name for a philosophical thought experiment created as an introduction to the moral distinction between action and inaction. The classic example is a runaway mine cart, hurtling down tracks towards a group of five oblivious people. With no time to warn them, your only option is to pull a switch and divert the cart on to a different track, which only has one person standing on it. You will save five lives, but at the cost of actively killing one person. What do you do?

      All kinds of tweaks and changes can be made to the basic problem, to examine different aspects of moral feeling. What if, rather than pulling a switch, you stop the mine cart by pushing one particularly large person in its way? What if the five people are all over the age of 80 and the one person is under 20? What if the five people are in fact five hundred kittens?

    • Engineers Say If Automated Cars Experience ‘The Trolley Problem,’ They’ve Already Screwed Up

      As self-driving cars inch closer to the mainstream, a common debate has surfaced: should your car be programmed to kill you if it means saving the lives of dozens of other people? This so-called “trolley problem” has been debated at universities for years, and while most consumers say they support automated vehicles that prioritize the lives of others on principle, they don’t want to buy or ride in one, raising a number of thorny questions.

      Should regulations and regulators focus on a utilitarian model where the vehicle is programmed to prioritize the good of the overall public above the individual? Or should self-driving cars be programmed to prioritize the welfare of the owner (the “self protective” model)? Would companies like Google, Volvo and others prioritize worries of liability over human lives when choosing the former or latter?

      [...]

      It’s still a question that needs asking, but with no obvious solution on the horizon, engineers appear to be focused on notably more mundane problems. For example one study suggests that while self-driving cars do get into twice the number of accidents of manually controlled vehicles, those accidents usually occur because the automated car was too careful — and didn’t bend the rules a little like a normal driver would (rear ended for being too cautious at a right on red, for example). As such, the current problem du jour isn’t some fantastical scenario involving an on-board AI killing you to save a busload of crying toddlers, but how to get self-driving cars to drive more like the inconsistent, sometimes downright goofy, and error-prone human beings they hope to someday replace.

    • Indonesia’s 51-Year-Old Ban on Communism to Stay in Place

      Indonesia’s current criminal code can send individuals to prison for “communist activities” for up to seven years.

      Indonesia maintained its ban on communism in its revision of the country’s criminal code system—controversial laws that have been in place for more than five decades.

    • School Board Elections in Ferguson Are Rigged Against Black Voters

      Nearly two years ago, the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division began an investigation into the Ferguson Police Department for racial bias in the aftermath of the police shooting death of Michael Brown, an unarmed Black teenager. What federal investigators found wasn’t pretty: a police department that consistently engaged in unconstitutional policing and that thought of the overwhelmingly Black community it was supposed to protect and serve as revenue sources for the city’s government. After the Justice Department’s report was released, it was only fair to ask how many other local institutions in the Ferguson area were afflicted with bias.

      Yesterday, the answer came when a federal court held that the Ferguson-Florissant School District’s system for electing its school board members violates the Voting Rights Act. The court recognized what many Ferguson-area residents know all too well: Once official discrimination — in education, housing, and public infrastructure — was outlawed in the Ferguson area, it shifted in form to other means of achieving the same ignoble goals.

    • French Police Create Propaganda for ISIS by Ticketing Muslim Women on Beaches

      Photographs and video of French police officers issuing tickets to Muslim women — for violating new local ordinances that ban modest beachwear as an offense against “good morals and secularism” in more than a dozen towns along the Riviera — spread widely on social networks on Wednesday, prompting waves of outrage and mockery by opponents of the laws.

    • My Brother Was Brutally Murdered, But the Delaware Supreme Court’s Decision to Ban the Death Penalty Was the Right One

      As the sister of a murder victim who opposes the death penalty, the Delaware Supreme Court’s decision in early August declaring the state’s death penalty statute unconstitutional gives me hope. The court’s decision affirms what death penalty opponents have known all along: Delaware’s death penalty doesn’t achieve justice for many reasons.

      The death penalty not only violates the rule of law, but it is costly, biased, prone to error, and ineffective at reducing violent crime and healing communities. Delaware’s statute, however, was particularly flawed. It had allowed a jury to recommend death without getting the approval of all 12 jurors, and it had allowed the judge in a capital case to override the jury’s sentencing recommendation to not put the convicted to death. Because the Delaware scheme diluted the historic role of a unanimous jury in criminal proceedings — to the point of denying capital defendants their constitutional right to a jury trial — the court struck it down.

    • “Deadly Heat” in U.S. Prisons Is Killing Inmates and Spawning Lawsuits

      In the summer months, 84 inmates at the Price Daniel Unit, a medium-security prison four hours west of Dallas, share a 10-gallon cooler of water that’s kept locked in a common area. An inmate there can expect to receive one 8 oz. cup every four hours, according to Benny Hernandez, a man serving a 10-year sentence at the prison. The National Academy of Medicine recommends that adults drink about twice that amount under normal conditions and even more in hot climates. According to Hernandez, in the summer the temperature in his prison’s housing areas can reach an astonishing 140 degrees.

      The prison provides ice for the cooler twice a day, but the ice has long melted before the hottest part of the day, he wrote in a post on Prison Writers, a website where inmates share their experiences behind bars. “Prisoners look upon the summer months in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) with dread and trepidation,” he wrote. “For one is acutely aware that one may not survive another summer. Many do not.”

    • Adam Curle, peace scholar: a centenary symposium

      Bradford University’s pioneering department devoted to peace education and research is honouring its founding professor. The world’s conflicts make it a timely event.

    • Political Writer, Daughter of Ukrainian Dissident, Detained and Charged in Ukraine

      On August 16, 2016, the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) made another step in the intimidation and silencing of Ukrainians with dissenting opinion – SBU searched the apartment of Myroslava Berdnyk, a popular blogger and political writer who openly criticizes the post-Euromaidan authorities and exposes Ukrainian nationalism. She was detained for interrogation and later released.

      As with many other Ukrainians who refuse to join the anti-Russia crusade of the government in Kyiv, Myroslava Berdnyk now stands accused of undermining the territorial integrity and inviolability of Ukraine.

      Myroslava’s case is particularly significant and important because she is the daughter of Oles Berdnyk, a famous Ukrainian dissident who spent many years in Soviet prisons who was also a famous writer, writing many science fiction novels.

    • In Major Ruling, Grad Students Win Right to Unionize at Private Universities

      The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) said Tuesday that graduate students who work as teaching and research assistants at private colleges are employees—a ruling with “big implications” for both higher education and organized labor in the United States.

    • Held 14 Years Without Charge, CIA Torture ‘Guinea Pig’ Abu Zubaydah Asks for Freedom

      After 14 years of being held without charge, Guantánamo prisoner Abu Zubaydah, who was subject to brutal torture and is known as the “guinea pig” for the Central Intelligence Agency’s (CIA) “enhanced interrogation program,” made his first appearance on Tuesday before the Periodic Review Board and requested to be set free.

      In a statement (pdf) read by his personal representative, he explained how he “initially believe that he did not have any chance or hope to be released” but has “come to believe that he might have a chance to leave Guantánamo.”

      Further, Zubaydah “expressed a desire to be reunited with his family and begin the process of recovering from injuries he sustained during his capture.” Among other abuses, the detainee lost an eye while in CIA custody.

    • A Rare Glimpse of Abu Zubaydah 14 Years After First CIA Torture Session

      Abu Zubaydah, 45, made his first appearance Tuesday on video from Guantanamo in a hearing before a Periodic Review Board, 14 years after the last day of a month-long interrogation at a CIA black site in Thailand. It was the first time the “enhanced interrogation techniques” approved by the Bush administration were used on a detainee.

      Back then, Abu Zubaydah still had his left eye.

      Representatives from the media, nongovernmental organizations, and academia were permitted to view the unclassified opening portion of the hearing from a conference room at the Pentagon, but the segment does not include any statement or comments from the detainee. It was the first glimpse outside observers got of Zubaydah since a photo of his face with an eye patch was published by Wikileaks in 2011; at one point he was touted as al Qaeda No. 3.

      [...]

      Abu Zubaydah, a Palestinian whose real name is Zayn al Abidin Muhammad, was captured in a raid of a Faisalabad, Pakistan, house on March 28, 2002, suffering severe bullet wounds. The interrogation techniques used on him included stress positions, sleep deprivation, insects placed in a confinement box, and waterboarding, among others.

      Most notably perhaps, he was waterboarded 83 times.

    • Critics Say French Burkini Bans Employ Language of Human Rights to Limit Human Rights

      So-called ‘burkini bans’ in France have come under fierce criticism after images surfaced this week of police in Nice surrounding and forcing a Muslim woman to remove some of her clothes.

      A burkini, or burquini, is a full-body swimsuit “intended to accord with Islamic traditions of modest dress,” as Wikipedia put it.

      Last week, Nice became the latest of 15 French towns to ban the garment, arguing that it “overtly manifests adherence to a religion at a time when France and places of worship are the target of terrorist attacks.” Last month, 86 people were killed in the seaside resort town when a truck drove into a Bastille Day celebration.

    • The Heart of Order

      He’d left the water running, flooding neighbors’ apartments. He’d been running around outside naked. By the time police arrived, he was standing in the window of his fourth-floor apartment on Farwell Avenue — a few blocks from where I live in the diverse, unpredictable Chicago neighborhood called Rogers Park — threatening to jump.

      He pointed his finger at the cops, pretending he had a gun. “Fuck the police,” he said. The standoff lasted four hours.

      But eventually he capitulated. The forces of sanity held sway. He was taken to a hospital. No one was hurt. (Phew-w-w!) And life in Rogers Park moved on.

      [...]

      Sixteen years — of war — later, I remain transfixed by that question. Why must social authority be symbolized with escalating bombast? Assault rifles, body armor, MRAPs? Then a scene from Robert Duvall’s 1997 movie The Apostle flickered for an instant in my mind. Billy Bob Thornton’s character, a racist with a bulldozer, is threatening to demolish the church that Duvall, a preacher on the run from the law, has constructed with his racially mixed congregation. Duvall sets his Bible in front of the bulldozer and Thornton is immobilized, indeed, reduced to tears. His hatred melts; the threat disappears.

    • [Older] Democracy in America Is a Useful Fiction

      Corporate forces, long before the Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, carried out a coup d’état in slow motion. The coup is over. We lost. The ruling is one more judicial effort to streamline mechanisms for corporate control. It exposes the myth of a functioning democracy and the triumph of corporate power. But it does not significantly alter the political landscape. The corporate state is firmly cemented in place.

      The fiction of democracy remains useful, not only for corporations, but for our bankrupt liberal class. If the fiction is seriously challenged, liberals will be forced to consider actual resistance, which will be neither pleasant nor easy. As long as a democratic facade exists, liberals can engage in an empty moral posturing that requires little sacrifice or commitment. They can be the self-appointed scolds of the Democratic Party, acting as if they are part of the debate and feel vindicated by their cries of protest.

    • A black homeowner called 911 to report a carjacking. He wound up getting shot by police.

      An Indianapolis homeowner who called police to report an attempted armed robbery at his house was apparently mistaken for the suspect and shot in the stomach by a responding officer, authorities said.

      Carl Williams, a 48-year-old black man, called 911 early Tuesday morning and told the emergency dispatcher that an armed man tried to assault his wife outside their home, then stole her car keys and drove away in her car, according to a statement from the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department.

      When two officers arrived at the property on the city’s east side, the homeowner, who was also armed and apparently prepared to confront the carjacker, emerged from his home, a law enforcement official told ABC affiliate RTV6.

    • HP hit with age-discrimination suit claiming older workers purged

      Four former employees of Silicon Valley tech icon Hewlett-Packard have filed an age discrimination lawsuit alleging they were ousted amid a purge of older workers.

      Hewlett-Packard began layoffs in 2012, before the company broke into HP Inc. and HP Enterprise last year, and have escalated the layoffs since, eventually hitting tens of thousands of workers.

      The goal “was to make the company younger,” said the complaint filed Aug. 18 in U.S. District Court in San Jose. “In order to get younger, HP intentionally discriminated against its older employees by targeting them for termination … and then systematically replacing them with younger employees. HP has hired a disproportionately large number of new employees under the age of 40 to replace employees aged 40 and older who were terminated.”

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Copyrights

      • Plagiarism Actions

        Drobetsky was a masters degree student at the Chicago School of Professional Psychology. In her assigned 5-page reflection paper of the Benjamin Button movie, she apparently copied from Wikipedia and a blog post by Richard Larson. The allegations are “that a portion of one sentence in the reflection paper was copied word for word from the Wikipedia article, and portions of two other sentences were copied word for word from the Larson blog, without quotation marks, citation or attribution.”

        The school dismissed Drobetsky for plagiarism in violation of school policy – she sued in Illinois state court for readmittance, recover of the $53,000 paid to the school, etc.

      • EU Copyright Law Undermines Innovation and Creativity on the Internet. Mozilla is Fighting for Reform

        The internet is an unprecedented platform for innovation, opportunity and creativity. It’s where artists create; where coders and entrepreneurs build game-changing technology; where educators and researchers unlock progress; and where everyday people live their lives.

        The internet brings new ideas to life everyday, and helps make existing ideas better. As a result, we need laws that protect and enshrine the internet as an open, collaborative platform.

        But in the EU, certain laws haven’t caught up with the internet. The current copyright legal framework is outdated. It stifles opportunity and prevents — and in many cases, legally prohibits — artists, coders and everyone else from creating and innovating online. This framework was enacted before the internet changed the way we live. As a result, these laws clash with life in the 21st century.

      • SUPER-BREAKING NEWS: Leaked draft Impact Assessment shows that Commission intends to introduce new mandatory exceptions, address value gap and introduce related right for publishers

        What does the EU Commission intend to propose when it releases its next copyright package next month?

        This is a question that has been haunting EU copyright enthusiasts for a few months now.

      • Linking & Copyright rapid response event on 13 September: come join us!

        This is a reference for a preliminary ruling from the Dutch Supreme Court. It was made in the context of proceedings between Sanoma (the publisher of Playboy magazine) and GS Media, concerning the publication by the latter on a website that it operates (GeenSijl) of hyperlinks to other websites hosting unpublished photographs taken for a forthcoming issue of Playboy

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