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Free Software/Open Source


  • Your Occasional Reminder to Use Plain Text Whenever Possible
    I myself have lost access to many WordPerfect files from the '80s in their original form, though I have been migrating their content to other formats over the years. I was fortunate, though, to do most of my early work in VMS and Unix, so a surprising number of my programs and papers from that era are still readable as they were then. (Occasionally, this requires me to dust off troff to see what I intended for them to look like then.)

  • Science

  • Networking

    • Disruption in the Networking Hardware Marketplace
      The idea behind software-defined networking (SDN) is to abstract physical elements from networking hardware and control them with software. Part of this is decoupling network control from forwarding functions so you can program it directly, but the main idea is that this separation allows for a dynamic approach to networking – something that the increasing disaggregation in IT makes a necessity.

    • Facebook Lauds Terragraph Cost Savings
      Facebook says its Terragraph system could revolutionize service provider economics, insisting the cost point it is targeting for the wireless technology is "significantly" less than that of rival connectivity solutions.

      Announced last month, Terragraph uses unlicensed spectrum in the 60GHz range to provide high-speed connectivity in densely populated communities. (See Facebook Debuts Terragraph & ARIES to Extend Wireless.)

      The social networking giant says it plans to make Terragaph available to service providers through its recently launched Telecom Infra Project (TIP), which is developing open source network technologies in partnership with various telecom operators and vendors. (See Facebook TIPs Telcos Towards Open Source Networks.)

    • AT&T will launch SDN service in 63 countries simultaneously this year, de la Vega says
      Ralph de la Vega, vice chairman of AT&T and CEO of AT&T Business Solutions and AT&T International, told investors during the 44th Annual JP Morgan Global Technology, Media and Telecom Conference that while he could not name the service yet, it's something that the company could not have achieved on traditional hardware architectures.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • What the Media and Congress Are Missing on Zika and Poverty
      Somewhere along the way the focus shifted. What began as coordinating a response to Zika that is rooted in smart public health policy and caring for our fellow citizens became a funding fight on Capitol Hill in which many conservatives seem completely divorced from reality—particularly the reality of low-income women and children of color living in the South.

    • Commission may offer defining criteria on hormone disruptors by June
      After a delay of more than two years, the criteria defining hormone disruptors could be presented at the meeting of the College of European Commissioners on 15 June, Le Monde reported on Friday (20 May). EurActiv’s partner Journal de l’Environnement reports.

      Vytenis Andriukaitis, the European Commissioner for Health, had promised MEPs in February to present the criteria for the definition of endocrine (hormone) disruptors by this summer. Their publication was originally planned for December 2013.

      Hormone disruptors are already mentioned in two European regulations, one from 2009 on biocides and the other from 2012 on crop protection products, but they remain undefined.

    • Initiative To Find New Antibiotics Being Launched At WHA
      A new initiative seeking to develop new antibiotic treatments is being launched today at the annual World Health Assembly. The Global Antibiotic Research and Development (GARD) is a partnership between the World Health Organization and the Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative (DNDi).

      The partnership has secured the necessary seed funding to build its scientific strategy, initial research and development (R&D) portfolio, and start-up team, according to a DNDi release.

    • Marijuana social network is denied listing on Nasdaq
      The Denver-based social network has 775,000 users from the 24 states where marijuana is legal medicinally (including those states where it's also legal recreationally), who use the platform to find like-minded people in their area, learn about nearby dispensaries, and follow pot legalization news. MassRoots has said it meets the criteria for listing on Nasdaq—it has a $40 million market capitalization value and “well over 300 shareholders” through over-the-counter markets, according to CNN Money.

      MassRoots alleges that the decision to deny the social media platform a place on Nasdaq was due to the fact that marijuana use and cultivation remains a federal crime. “On May 23, 2016, Nasdaq denied MassRoots' application to list on its exchange for being cannabis-related,” the company wrote. “We believe this dangerous precedent could prevent nearly every company in the regulated cannabis industry from listing on a national exchange, making it more difficult for cannabis entrepreneurs to raise capital and slow the progression of cannabis legalization in the United States.”

    • WHO Engagement With Outside Actors: Delegates Tight-Lipped, Civil Society Worried
      This week, country delegates meeting at the annual World Health Assembly are expected to come to an agreement on a framework managing the UN World Health Organization’s relationship with outside actors, such as the private sector, philanthropic organisations and civil society groups.

    • Global Health R&D Under Debate At World Health Assembly
      Panellists included David Kaslow, who oversees PATH’s product development partnerships; Marie-Paule Kieny, assistant director-general in charge of the Health Systems and Innovation Cluster at WHO; Suerie Moon, research director and co-chair of the Forum on Global Governance for Health at the Harvard Global Health Institute; Bernard Pécoul, who leads the Drugs for Neglected Diseases Initiative (DNDi); and Ambassador Guilherme Patriota, the deputy permanent representative of Brazil to the UN organisations in Geneva.

    • Samantha Bee: In the Big Tobacco vs. Little Vape Fight, the Underdog Keeps on Puffing
      New government regulations announced earlier this month may give Big Tobacco a huge advantage over its major competitor—the vape market.

    • GMOs Are Complicated, And Our Food System Is Not Designed To Handle Complicated. That’s A Problem.
      The report comes at an important time in the overall debate about GMOs and their place in the American food system. In a country almost constantly polarized, an overwhelming majority of Americans think that GMOs should be labeled. According to a Pew poll, more than half of Americans believe that GMOs are unsafe. At the same time, proponents of the technology argue that GMOs are safe for human consumption and will help farmers meet growing demands for food, even as population increases and climate change intensifies.

  • Security

  • Defence/Aggression

    • Kerry Threatens War-Without-End on Syria
      Alleged peace-maker John Kerry threatened to wage war-without-end on Syria - if the Middle East country does accept the US demand for regime change.

      That's hardly the language of a supposed bona fide diplomat who presents an image to the world as a politician concerned to bring about an end to the five-year Syrian conflict.

      The US Secretary of State repeatedly sounds anxious to alleviate the appalling suffering of the Syrian nation, where over the past five years some 400,000 people have been killed and millions displaced as refugees.

    • More Game-Playing on MH-17?
      The West keeps piling the blame for the 2014 shoot-down of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 on Russian President Putin although there are many holes in the case and the U.S. government still withholds its evidence, writes Robert Parry.

    • House simmers with criticism for Saudi Arabia
      House lawmakers appear eager for an opportunity to beat up on Saudi Arabia, amid persistent allegations about the kingdom’s support for international terrorism.

      Legislators from both parties took shots at the kingdom during a House Foreign Affairs subcommittee hearing on Tuesday, in what could presage a one-sided effort to pass legislation opening the kingdom up to legal jeopardy for alleged activity ahead of 9/11.

      “If a foreign country — any country — can be shown to have significantly supported a terrorist attack on the United States, the victims and their families ought to be able to sue that foreign country, no matter who it is,” said Rep. Ted Poe (R-Texas), the head of the subcommittee on Terrorism and a co-sponsor of the bill that would allow 9/11 victims to sue Saudi Arabia. “Like any other issue, we should let a jury decide that issue and the damages, if any.”

      “What concerns me is the Saudi government comes to us and say ‘You’re our friend and you should protect us from this statute,’ while defending every day the Wahhabi mullahs who not only preach orthodox practices of Islam, but preach violence and murder against those whom they disagree with,” added Rep. Brad Sherman (D-Calif.)

    • Tony Blair Admits His Ignorance of Middle East; Immediately Calls for New War
      Former U.K. Prime Minister Tony Blair admitted underestimating "forces of destabilization" in the Middle East when Britain joined the U.S. in invading Iraq in 2003, the Guardian reports, but stopped short of actually apologizing for the U.K.'s role in the Iraq War in remarks at an event on Tuesday.

    • How to Disappear Money, Pentagon-Style
      The United States is on track to spend more than $600 billion on the military this year -- more, that is, than was spent at the height of President Ronald Reagan’s Cold War military buildup, and more than the military budgets of at least the next seven nations in the world combined. And keep in mind that that’s just a partial total. As an analysis by the Straus Military Reform Project has shown, if we count related activities like homeland security, veterans' affairs, nuclear warhead production at the Department of Energy, military aid to other countries, and interest on the military-related national debt, that figure reaches a cool $1 trillion.

    • Kosovo: Hillary Clinton’s Legacy of Terror
      Hillary owns Kosovo – she is not only personally responsible for its evolution from a province of the former Yugoslavia into a Mafia state, she is also the mother of the policy that made its very existence possible and which she carried into her years as Secretary of State under Barack Obama.

      As the “Arab Spring” threatened to topple regimes throughout the Middle East, Mrs. Clinton decided to get on board the revolutionary choo-choo train and hitch her wagon to “moderate” Islamists who seemed like the wave of the future. She dumped Egyptian despot Hosni Mubarak, whom she had previously described as a friend of the family, and supported the Muslim Brotherhood’s bid for power. In Libya, she sided with Islamist rebels out to overthrow Moammar Ghaddafi, celebrating his gruesome death by declaring “We came, we saw, he died.” And in Syria, she plotted with Gen. David Petraeus to get around President Obama’s reluctance to step into the Syrian quagmire by arming Syrian rebels allied with al-Qaeda and other terrorist gangs.

    • Israel’s Army Goes to War With Its Politicians
      IN most countries, the political class supervises the defense establishment and restrains its leaders from violating human rights or pursuing dangerous, aggressive policies. In Israel, the opposite is happening. Here, politicians blatantly trample the state’s values and laws and seek belligerent solutions, while the chiefs of the Israel Defense Forces and the heads of the intelligence agencies try to calm and restrain them.

      Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s offer last week of the post of defense minister to Avigdor Lieberman, a pugnacious ultranationalist politician, is the latest act in the war between Mr. Netanyahu and the military and intelligence leaders, a conflict that has no end in sight but could further erode the rule of law and human rights, or lead to a dangerous, superfluous military campaign.

      The prime minister sees the defense establishment as a competitor to his authority and an opponent of his goals. Putting Mr. Lieberman, an impulsive and reckless extremist, in charge of the military is a clear signal that the generals’ and the intelligence chiefs’ opposition will no longer be tolerated. Mr. Lieberman is known for ruthlessly quashing people who hold opposing views.

      This latest round of this conflict began on March 24: Elor Azariah, a sergeant in the I.D.F., shot and killed a Palestinian assailant who was lying wounded on the ground after stabbing one of Sergeant Azariah’s comrades. The I.D.F. top brass condemned the killing. A spokesman for Lt. Gen. Gadi Eisenkot, the chief of staff, said, “This isn’t the I.D.F., these are not the I.D.F.’s values.”

    • A Worrisome New Plan to Send U.S. Troops to Libya as ‘Advisers’
      The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General James Dunford, said last week that the United States is engaged in a “period of intense dialogue” that could lead to an agreement with the government of Libya that would allow U.S. “military advisers” to be deployed there in the fight against Islamic State.

      “There’s a lot of activity going on underneath the surface,” Dunford told The Washington Post. “We’re just not ready to deploy capabilities yet because there hasn’t been an agreement. And frankly, any day that could happen.”

      This plan should worry every American. If the past is any lesson, the new U.S. military advisers will likely be permanent and will presage a large combat contingent in Libya.

      U.S. military advisers first arrived in Vietnam in 1950, a move that presaged the eventual arrival of 9,087,000 military personnel, and reaching a peak in 1967 of 545,000 combat troops. The last U.S. troops didn’t leave Vietnam until 1975, and only after 58,220 had been killed. U.S. troops entered Kuwait in February 1991 to push invading Iraqi forces out of that country. Twenty-five years later, 13,500 troops remain.

    • Jeremy Scahill: Corporations Are Making a Killing Off US Targeted Killing
      If drone warfare has come up at all this election season, it's been in passing. The candidates don't differ much on the use of pilotless drones. But how is the face of war changing, and how do our peace movements need to respond?

      Jeremy Scahill is an award-winning investigative journalist and a founding editor of The Intercept. He's the author of Blackwater: The Rise of the World's Most Powerful Mercenary Army, Dirty Wars (the book and the film), and now The Assassination Complex: Inside the Government's Secret Drone Warfare Program, written with the staff of The Intercept.

    • As Hillary Clinton Defends Her Role in 2009 Coup, Is U.S. Aid to Honduras Adding "Fuel to the Fire"?
      We speak with Annie Bird about Hillary Clinton’s role as secretary of state during the 2009 coup that ousted Honduran President Manuel Zelaya. "There’s no other way to categorize what happened in 2009 other than a military coup with no legal basis," Bird says. "The U.S. was not willing to cut off assistance to Honduras, and that is the only reason it was not called a coup, a military coup. At the time, activists like Berta called for the assistance to be cut off, and today her children are calling for it to be cut off, because the U.S. assistance is actually adding fuel to the fire and stoking the economic interests of the people behind the coup."

    • Philippine death squads very much in business as Duterte set for presidency
      On May 14, five days after voters in the Philippines chose Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte as their next president, two masked gunmen cruised this southern city's suburbs on a motorbike, looking for their kill.

      Gil Gabrillo, 47, a drug user, was returning from a cockfight when the gunmen approached. One of them pumped four bullets into Gabrillo's head and body, killing the small-time trader of goods instantly. Then the motorbike roared off.

      The murder made no headlines in Davao, where Duterte's loud approval for hundreds of execution-style killings of drug users and criminals over nearly two decades helped propel him to the highest office of a crime-weary land.

      Human rights groups have documented at least 1,400 killings in Davao that they allege had been carried out by death squads since 1998. Most of those murdered were drug users, petty criminals and street children.

    • Insane NRA video warns Iran: Americans are crazier and more violent than ‘flower child’ Obama
      The National Rifle Association wants the government of Iran to take heed: The United States of America is much crazier than President Barack Obama is letting on. In a new video message that’s addressed to the “ayatollahs of Iran and every terrorist you enable,” an NRA supporter warns Iran that the real America is nothing like “our fresh-faced flower child president and his weak-kneed, Ivy League friends.”

    • Obama in Hiroshima: A Case Study in Hypocrisy
      Interestingly, the question of nuclear weapons will likely also not be addressed in a substantive way. There may indeed be some discussion of the subject in general terms, but it will be veiled in the typically flowery, but utterly vacuous, Obama rhetoric. Given the opportunity, an intrepid reporter might venture to ask the President why, despite winning the Nobel Peace Prize “for his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples [and] vision of and work for a world without nuclear weapons,” he has presided over an administration that will spend more than $1 trillion upgrading, modernizing, and expanding the US nuclear arsenal.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • Scientists Warn of 10C Warming as we “Dial up Earth’s Thermostat”
      So far this year we have had warnings that the Great Barrier reef is “dying on our watch” due to coral bleaching caused by record temperatures; dramatic early seasonal melting of the Arctic Ocean sea ice and Greenland’s massive ice sheet; devastating wild-fires in Canada which are being linked to climate change, and month after month of record temperatures.
    • Trump’s Climate Change Denial Is Already Complicating the Paris Climate Deal
      If Donald Trump wins and pulls the U.S. out of its climate change commitments, some countries wonder, why should they keep their own?
    • Into the Zone
      This is the countryside of Fukushima. Five years after the nuclear meltdown, it remains full of radiation, and virtually empty of people.

    • World could warm by massive 10C if all fossil fuels are burned
      Arctic would warm by as much as 20C by 2300 with disastrous impacts if action is not taken on climate change, warns new study

    • Businessman's arrest for forest fires is "slap in the face" for Indonesian government
      Tensions between Indonesia and Singapore are simmering as a kerfuffle is developing over the decision by a Singaporean court to grant a warrant to the National Environment Agency (NEA) for an Indonesian businessman suspected of involvement in last year's forest fires. The warrant was obtained after the businessman, whose identity remains hidden, failed to turn up for an interview with the Singaporean authorities while he was in the city-state.

      The saga took an interesting twist as Singapore's Ministry of Foreign Affairs denied its counterpart's repeated claims that a formal complaint against the warrant had been lodged by the Indonesian Embassy in Singapore.

      The reason for Indonesia's umbrage remains unclear, although implicit in the protest was the notion that Singapore had tried to force Indonesia's hand in acting against responsible parties for last year's environmental disaster, which saw much of South East Asia engulfed in a haze. Jakarta's reaction suggests that it deemed Singapore to have overstepped its scope of action. By contrast, Singapore's NEA felt that it had every right to prosecute those deemed responsible, based on the 2014 Transboundary Haze Pollution Act.

    • Shock and Awe, The Chevron Way
      With pockets deep enough, you can buy justice. That’s what Chevron assumes since they lost a $9.5 billion verdict at the Supreme Court of Ecuador in 2013. But can Chevron justify their mockery of the justice system at the shareholder meeting on Wednesday, May 25th? Some shareholders are gearing up for a battle.

      The funds from the $9.5 billion judgment are needed to set up a health programme for the tens of thousands of victims of Chevron’s toxic dumping in Ecuador, and to clean up a contaminated part of the Amazon rainforest bigger than Lake District. Chevron left Ecuador years ago, but it “forgot” to take home 16 billion gallons of toxic waste that contaminates streams and rivers relied on by local inhabitants for their drinking water, bathing, and fishing.

    • Ecuador Activist Accuses Chevron of 'Harassment and Defamation'
      Santiago Escobar began getting death threats after he revealed information against the oil giant. Now he says publications financed by Chevron are trying to smear him.

    • Anti-Frackers Vow Fierce Resistance as UK Goes Back 'Up for Shale'
      Furious environmental campaigners vowed to fight back on Tuesday after councilors in North Yorkshire approved the UK's first fracking permit in five years.

      The North Yorkshire County Council on Monday approved Third Energy's application to frack the fields near the North York Moors National Park—just days after people across the country celebrated five years of being "frack-free."

    • ExxonMobil tried to censor climate scientists to Congress during Bush era
      ExxonMobil moved to squash a well-established congressional lecture series on climate science just nine days after the presidential inauguration of George W Bush, a former oil executive, the Guardian has learned.

      Exxon’s intervention on the briefings, revealed here for the first time, adds to evidence the oil company was acutely aware of the state of climate science and its implications for government policy and the energy industry – despite Exxon’s public protestations for decades about the uncertainties of global warming science.

      Indeed, the company moved swiftly during the earliest days of the Bush administration to block public debate on global warming and delay domestic and international regulations to cut greenhouse gas emissions, according to former officials of the US Global Change Research Program, or USGCRP.

      The Bush White House is now notorious for censoring climate scientists and blocking international action on climate change by pulling the US out of the Kyoto agreement.

    • China’s New Dietary Guidelines Could Be Good News For The Climate
      Chinese food has fans around the world, but in China it’s creating a problem. A recent study found obesity and other diet-related diseases are skyrocketing.

      Recently, the Chinese government took a major step to reverse that trend by issuing a new set of dietary guidelines.

      While dietary experts will weigh in on the nutritional aspects, buried in the pages is a recommendation with potentially huge implications for climate change.

    • Gulf Coast Activist Crashes Shell Meeting to Decry Destruction of Her Home
      Just two weeks after Royal Dutch Shell's offshore drilling operations released nearly 90,000 gallons of oil into the water off the Louisiana coast, an Indigenous activist from the Gulf region spoke out at Shell's annual shareholders meeting in the Netherlands on Tuesday, highlighting the company's history of environmental devastation in the place she calls home.

      "In the late 90s, after learning that their community was plagued by an open-air, toxic, oil-field waste facility, I began documenting my Houma relatives living in a small, mostly American Indian and Cajun community called Grand Bois, located just south of Houma, Louisiana," Monique Verdin told Common Dreams via email. "As I was taken further and further down the bayous I also became more and more aware of our rapid land loss and the other environmental impacts caused by the oil and gas industry."

  • Finance

    • Elizabeth Warren Calls On Americans To Fight Wall Street
      On Tuesday, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) headlined an event that launched a new coalition calling itself “Take On Wall Street.”

      The group includes lawmakers like Warren, Reps. Keith Ellison (D-MN) and Nydia Velazquez (D-NY), labor leaders like the AFL-CIO’s Richard Trumka and the AFT’s Randi Weingarten, as well as civil rights groups, community groups, and the organizing giant Move On. It aims to put pressure on lawmakers at all levels to pass stricter rules governing the financial system.

    • Armed with Policy Solutions and Populist Rage, Campaign Vows to 'Take on Wall Street'
      On Tuesday, a coalition of more than 20 progressive activist and labor groups is launching a new campaign to reform the financial industry.

      The group, Take on Wall Street, aims to utilize public anger at the banking industry and the momentum of the Occupy Wall Street movement, as well as the efforts of groups like the AFL-CIO and Communications Workers of America (CWA), to introduce an agenda that would change the way the financial sector operates.

      Take On Wall Street will formally announce its campaign launch at an event Tuesday night, which will feature a headlining speech by Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), an outspoken proponent of financial reform.

    • Obama Overtime Plan Won’t Hurt Businesses, Executives Admit
      Business interest groups and their allies engaged in hyperbolic rhetoric about the supposed negative impact of overtime regulations before they were announced last week. By changing a salary threshold, the new rules will make millions of workers newly eligible to be paid for their overtime hours.

      “Businesses will be forced to look for cuts in the face of such massive costs,” Competitive Enterprise Institute policy analyst Trey Kovacs predicted. Right-wing economist analyst Michael Carr even worried that the overtime rules could help start another recession.

    • Apple, Microsoft and Google hold 23% of all U.S. corporate cash, as tech sector accumulates wealth
      Apple, Microsoft and Google are the top three cash-rich U.S. companies across all sectors of business, not including banks and other financial institutions — holding a combined $391 billion in cash as of the end of 2015, or more than 23 percent of the entire $1.68 trillion held by the nation’s non-financial corporations.

    • McDonald’s ex-CEO: $15/hr minimum wage will unleash the robot rebellion
      For years, economists have been issuing predictions about how automation will impact the world's job markets, but those studies and guesses have yet to make a call based on what would happen if a given sector's wages rose. Instead, that specific guesswork mantle has been taken up by a former McDonald's CEO, who declared on Tuesday that a rise in the American minimum wage will set our nation's robotic revolution into motion.

      In an appearance on Fox Business' Mornings with Maria, Ed Rensi claimed that a minimum wage increase to $15 an hour would result in "job loss like you can't believe" before ceding ground to our new robotic overlords. "I was at the National Restaurant Show yesterday, and if you look at the robotic devices that are coming into the restaurant industry—it’s cheaper to buy a $35,000 robotic arm than it is to hire an employee who’s inefficient making $15 an hour bagging French fries."

    • CEOs Paid 335 Times Average Rank-and-File Worker; Outsourcing Results in Even Higher Inequality
      CEO pay for major U.S. companies continues to soar as income inequality and outsourcing of good-paying American jobs increases. Outsourcing has become a hot presidential election topic with candidates calling out corporations who say they need to save money by sending jobs overseas. Meanwhile, according to the new AFL-CIO Executive PayWatch, the average CEO of an S&P 500 company made $12.4 million per year in 2015 – 335 times more money than the average rank-and-file worker.

    • ‘Desperate’ Verizon Seeks Scabs to Offset Labor Strike
      Telecom giant Verizon has put out an urgent call for temporary employees as the company’s bitter feud with thousands of striking workers enters its seventh week.

      Last month, some 40,000 Verizon technicians and service employees walked off the job after a year of labor negotiations failed to produce a new contract.

      The workers, who are represented by the Communications Workers of America and International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, argue that Verizon wants to freeze pensions, slash benefits, and outsource jobs to Mexico and the Philippines. The unions also say that the company has refused to negotiate improvements to wages, benefits and working conditions for a group of Verizon Wireless workers who joined CWA in 2014.

    • Takin' It to the Streets—Brazilians Protest President’s Ouster
      Another Temer miscue was appointing Brazil’s first all-white, all-male cabinet in seventy years, going back even further than the military dictatorship of 1965-1984. The move, in a land that is majority Afro-Brazilian, has angered and energized women and Afro-Brazilians opposed to Temer’s government.

    • Brazil's New Government Is Already Planning to Balance the Budget on the Backs of the Poor
      Just days after the Brazilian Senate voted to suspend former President Dilma Rousseff and subject her to an impeachment trial, the country's new right-wing government is already planning to balance the budget on the backs of the poor.

    • The Embarrassing Referendum
      Personally I remain an EU enthusiast, but I am horrified by the arguments being put forward by the Remain campaign, and even more by the personalities associated with it. I could never display a Remain poster in case people felt I agreed with David Cameron. I strongly suspect that explains the mass public apathy, which friends tell me is no different down south. Whatever their views on the EU, people do not want in any way to be associated with George Osborne, David Cameron, Nick Clegg, Tony Blair or Peter Mandelson on one side, or with Ian Duncan Smith, Nigel Farage, Boris Johnson et al on the other.

    • Study confirms that the national press is biased in favour of Brexit
      A new research study has confirmed what most people, including this commentator, knew: national press coverage of EU referendum campaign has been “heavily skewed in favour of Brexit.”

      The bald figures produced by researchers at the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism tell the story: 45% of 928 referendum articles it studied were in favour of leaving while 27% backed the remain case.

      Some 19% were categorised as “mixed or undecided” and 9% were designated as adopting no position.

    • Obama Visits Vietnam To Promote TPP. Wait, VIETNAM? Really?
      President Obama is in Vietnam promoting the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). Vietnam? Really?

      A year ago the post “Obama To Visit Nike To Promote the TPP. Wait, NIKE? Really?,” noted how Nike pioneered moving jobs out of the country to take advantage of low wages and lack of environmental protections in places like Vietnam, which led to many of the problems in our economy today. It seemed that Nike was possibly the worst company to use to support claims that TPP would benefit the American economy.

    • Sanders Bucks Dem Leaders, Calls for Opposition to Puerto Rico Bill
      In a message to fellow Senate Democratic caucus members, Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) on Monday called for the defeat of emergency legislation to address Puerto Rico’s fiscal crisis.

      A bill introduced last week by House Republicans would require the island territory to give up its budget-making autonomy in exchange for debt relief. The measure has the tentative support of the Obama administration and Democratic leadership.

      Puerto Rico is currently $72 billion in the hole, and already defaulting on financial obligations. Sanders, a presidential hopeful, said in a statement that the proposed initiative would “make a terrible situation even worse.”

      What do you need to know – about the new world of work, but also about yourself – as you graduate and launch yourself into the world of work? We made a short film of my last class of the semester, where I speak to graduating seniors about these questions and more. If you’re a graduating senior (or know one) we hope this is helpful.

    • Warren Incensed at GOP Effort to Gut Financial Protections for Retirees
      The Labor Department rule, issued last month, requires financial advisors to adhere to a "fiduciary standard" that places client interests ahead of potential profits for themselves.

    • Armed with Policy Solutions and Populist Rage, Campaign Vows to 'Take on Wall Street'
      On Tuesday, a coalition of more than 20 progressive activist and labor groups is launching a new campaign to reform the financial industry.

      The group, Take on Wall Street, aims to utilize public anger at the banking industry and the momentum of the Occupy Wall Street movement, as well as the efforts of groups like the AFL-CIO and Communications Workers of America (CWA), to introduce an agenda that would change the way the financial sector operates.

    • Does Venezuela’s Crisis Prove Socialism Doesn’t Work?
      When the price of oil slumped, it was therefore inevitable that Venezuelans would see a downturn. Indeed, in some ways, the current crisis isn’t anything new: Venezuela has experienced boom and bust cycles coinciding with oil prices since the 1970s. With historically high oil prices, Chavez had luck on his side during his golden years, while Maduro has drawn a short straw. However, it’s worth noting that no other petro state in the world is facing the same kind of crisis that has hit Venezuela. Back luck aside, the Maduro administration could avoided the current conditions by reforming monetary policy in 2013 or 2014. While low productivity or anti-government sabotage are issues that can’t be resolved overnight with the wave of a hand, monetary policy could have been shored up in a relatively short period of time. Unlike international oil prices or long term issues like Dutch Disease, the Maduro administration had meaningful agency here, but failed to act. If serious reforms had been enacted, Venezuela would still be facing a nasty downturn, but probably not a fully fledged economic and political crisis. Likewise, even if the oil crash never happened, Venezuela would almost certainly still be heading towards a crisis sometime down the road anyway, largely thanks to failed monetary policy.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • The massive scale of the Clintons’ speech-making industry
      Last week, Hillary Clinton's campaign released her most recent personal financial disclosure, detailing ways in which she and her husband earned money in 2015. Most of their income came from book royalties and giving paid speeches. Bill Clinton, for example, gave a speech to the National Association of Manufacturers in March 2015, being paid $325,000 for his time.

    • LISTEN: Amy Goodman on NPR's Weekend Edition
      NPR’s Scott Simon asks Amy Goodman about Bernie Sanders’ chances of getting the delegates he needs to claim the Democratic nomination.

    • Americans' Dislike for Trump and Clinton Bolsters Sanders' Superdelegate Pitch
      Most Americans can't stand the frontrunner of either major political party, a new NBC News/Survey Monkey poll released Tuesday has found.

      Almost 60 percent of respondents said they "dislike" or "hate" Democratic presidential frontrunner Hillary Clinton, and 63 percent said the same about Republican nominee Donald Trump.

      In fact, the poll found that the roughly one-third of respondents on either side of the political aisle were voting for their candidate solely to defeat the other nominee.

    • Why I Am #NeverHillary

      It’s one hell of a choice. The more I delve into Donald Trump and his past (to research my biography, which comes out in June), the more scared I get. Nevertheless, there is no way I’ll vote for Hillary. I won’t vote for her if she stops shaking down rich right-wing Republicans for donations. I won’t vote for her if she adopts Bernie’s platform. I won’t vote for her if she names Bernie her vice president. I won’t even vote for her if Bernie invites me to spend the summer with him and Jane in Vermont.

      #NeverHillary. That’s me.

      There are millions of us.

    • Bernie's not-so-secret-weapon
      For months, Bernie Sanders and his supporters have pointed to polls that show him running comfortably ahead of Donald Trump in November. But now that Hillary Clinton’s lead over Trump has disappeared — and the two likely nominees are now running neck-and-neck in national polls — his argument is gaining new resonance.

      Clinton and her campaign argue that the Vermont senator hasn’t undergone the kind of scrutiny that Clinton and Trump have — and that his poll numbers are over-inflated compared to candidates who have faced intense political attacks from the other party.

    • I watched Hillary Clinton’s forces swipe Nevada: This is what the media’s not telling you
      It probably wasn’t the best time for me to go to Vegas. My beloved father had just died the week before, and I was feeling hazy and vulnerable, prone to weeping at the slightest provocation. Grief made me feel like I had no skin and no brain; grief had turned me into a cloud, and I was in that floaty state when I got on the plane with my husband—a state delegate headed to the Nevada Democratic Convention—and our 6-year-old son. I wasn’t sure what would happen once we got to Vegas, whether all the lights and bells would hammer me back into my body, or whether I would drift even further away from myself, hover like the cigarette smoke over the casino floor.

      I had wanted to be a delegate, myself, but knew I was going to be out of town during the county convention in April, so I didn’t put my hat in the ring at the February caucus, where I had served as a precinct captain for Bernie. It was my first election season in Nevada, my first caucus, and the whole process seemed wild to me, taking what was normally such a private experience—voting quietly in an individual booth—and turning it into a political game of Red Rover, people taking sides in a room, trying to sway folks to come over to their side, their candidate; it was a civil game in our precinct, but I could see how easily things could turn nasty. I was grateful my husband had volunteered himself to be a county delegate, and was excited when he got the email that he was chosen to be a state delegate, as well. Nevada has a strange three-tier system—Hillary had won a majority at the February caucus, but more Bernie delegates showed up at the county caucus, negating Hillary’s win, so the race for delegates at the state convention promised to be a tight one. I looked forward to seeing the process in action; I never expected that process would become so chaotic and surreal, although I had become used to surreal of late.

      We arrived late Friday night and all around me, women were dressed to the nines and looking miserable. My heart broke for them. I wanted to know their stories; why were they so unhappy? The weight of crumbling expectations seemed to fill the smoky air. I found myself sending little silent affirmations to all these sad, fancy women—You are beautiful, I beamed to them. It will be okay. Perhaps I was channeling my dad, who always did whatever he could to make people feel better about themselves.

    • Study: One Out Of Every 178 Posts To Chinese Social Media Is Government Propaganda
      In Russia, we've talked about how Vladimir Putin employs a massive army of Internet trolls to ridicule and shout down political opponents and critics. In China, the government's tactics are notably different. According to a new study out of Harvard (pdf), the Chinese government posts about 488 million fake social media comments -- or roughly one day of Twitter's total global volume -- each year. In China, these propagandists have historically been dubbed the "50 Cent Party," because it was generally believed they were paid 50 Chinese cents for every social media post.

    • Across Europe, distrust of mainstream political parties is on the rise
      The narrow defeat – by just 0.6 percentage points – of the nationalist Freedom party’s Norbert Hofer in this week’s Austrian presidential elections has focused attention once more on the rise of far-right parties in Europe.

      But despite what some headlines might claim, it is oversimplifying things to say the far right is suddenly on the march across an entire continent. In some countries, the hard right’s share of the vote in national elections has been stable or declined.

      In others – particularly the nations of southern Europe, which, with memories of fascism and dictatorship still very much alive, have proved reluctant to flirt with rightwing extremism – it is the far left that is advancing.

      Some rightwing populist parties are relatively new, but others have been a force to be reckoned with for many years now, sometimes – as in France – enjoying a large share of the vote but being unable, as yet, to break through nationally.

    • Bernie Sanders Draws Thousands at ‘A Future to Believe In’ Rally
      The California primary is only eight days away, and Bernie Sanders isn’t slowing down.

      If anything, the 74-year-old Vermont Senator is picking up the pace as he tours California this week, stopping at as many as three cities a day for rallies and events.

      On Monday night, Sanders held a rally on the football field of Santa Monica High School in Santa Monica, Calif. The Sanders campaign estimated a turnout of 10,000 people—and the numbers may have swelled to more than that, considering the vast numbers of people who turned up but couldn’t fit inside the football field. Sanders told ABC News that he hopes to speak with “200,000 Californians at rallies statewide.”

    • Tim Canova on Bernie Sanders’ Endorsement, Challenging Debbie Wasserman Schultz (Video)
      Canova, a lawyer and activist who supported the Occupy Wall Street movement and opposed the Trans-Pacific Partnership, among other causes, recently received a big boost in the form of an endorsement from Sen. Bernie Sanders, with whom Canova has worked previously. Sanders’ backing has helped Canova’s cause, both financially and in terms of publicity, as has the scrutiny focused on Wasserman Schultz in the ongoing controversy about her leadership of the DNC vis-a-vis Sanders’ and Hillary Clinton’s bids for the Democratic presidential nomination.

    • Elites vs. Too Much Democracy: Andrew Sullivan’s Afraid of Popular Self-Government
      British expatriate writer Andrew Sullivan recently returned to the public eye with a piece that has aroused considerable comment, some of it reasonably on point, and some bloviatingly incoherent.

      What is all the fuss about? Sullivan, in critiquing the Donald Trump phenomenon and the political factors that gave rise to it, makes a few good points, but buries them under a ridiculous premise: The culprit responsible for Trump is too much democracy, and the cure is more elite control of the political process.

    • Sanders: Yes, A Convention About Real Issues Might Be 'Messy'
      DNC should focus on welcoming energized newcomers, not attending private fundraisers hosted by big donors and corporate lobbyists

    • The BBC has lost touch: here's how it could re-connect
      A filmmaker advises BBC news staff on how to better engage with the harsh realities of life for many in Britain.

    • Hillary’s Cowgirl Diplomacy?
      Like Obama, Hillary Clinton is a liberal internationalist and a strong believer in American exceptionalism, meaning she is convinced that the world looks to America for leadership, that US involvement everywhere is unavoidable as well as desirable, that US-based multinational corporations are a positive force for global development, and that the US should be ready to commit force in support of humanitarian ideals and American values—but not necessarily in accordance with US or international laws—as much as because of concrete strategic interests. It’s the traditional marriage of realism and idealism that we find in every president (though a Trump presidency would drop the idealism). But each president, as Henry Kissinger once said, inclines somewhat to one side or the other, and in Hillary Clinton’s case, she is more the realist than Obama—more prepared, that is, to commit US power, unilaterally if she believes necessary, in support of a very broad conception of national security.

    • Shock Poll: Sanders Ahead of Trump by 15 Points, Hillary Just by 3
      A shocker. A new NBC News/Wall St Journal poll has Bernie up 54 to 39 over Donald Trump.

      Meanwhile, according to the same poll, Hillary Clinton no longer has a double digit lead over Donald Trump like she did just a month ago -- her lead over Trump is just 3 points.

    • Sanders Endorses Down-Ticket Democrats Running for 'Bold Change'
      "These candidates are standing up against the wealthy interests and biggest corporations, and putting working families first."

    • Green Party's Jill Stein Shares Her "Plan B" for Bernie Sanders Supporters: A Green New Deal
      As Bernie Sanders' voters begin facing the question of whether or not to support Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton if she becomes the party's nominee, many of his supporters have pledged never to support her. In fact, voters in both major parties are seeking alternatives in this year's presidential election -- and third-party candidates are seeing an explosion in social media interest in their campaigns.

    • Donald Trump: He can't win, can he?
      In a book published in 2004, Harvard political scientist Samuel Huntington argued that Latino immigration was endangering the American way of life. Trump has campaigned on a shrill version of the same sinister idea.

    • Progressive women are running for office all over the country
      Hillary Clinton’s bid to become the first woman president has gotten far more attention in the media, but there are hundreds of female candidates running for office in 2016. And although Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) is rightly credited for calling attention to the fundamental unfairness of our rigged economic and political systems, inspiring women such as Zephyr Teachout, Pramila Jayapal and Lucy Flores are carrying the mantle of progressive populism in congressional races across the country. Notably, Sanders has endorsed and fundraised for all three women in their upcoming primaries, recognizing them as important allies in the battle to create progressive change.

    • 'Fighting For Every Last Delegate,' Sanders Requests Kentucky Primary Recanvass
      A recanvass is not the same thing as a recount "but a review of the voting totals," notes AP.

      If the process finds that Sanders actually won the primary, it would mean that one delegate will go to Sanders instead of Clinton.

    • Sanders campaign requests Kentucky vote recanvass
      Clinton holds 1,924-vote lead over Sanders out of 454,573 votes cast...

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • Web Sheriff Abuses DMCA In Weak Attempt To Hide Info Under UK High Court Injunction, Fails Miserably
      Last week, Twitter engaged in some dubious behavior on behalf of a few super-secret someones who'd rather the press didn't discuss their sexual activity. Twitter was apparently firing off "letters of warning" to users who had dared break an injunction issued by the UK Supreme Court forbidding anyone in the media from discussing a threesome involving a prominent British celebrity.

      There was very little legal force behind the "warning letters" (despite threats from local authorities) and Twitter users were under no obligation to comply with the company's request. The fact that Twitter even bothered to issue these highlights the utter futility of injunctions/super-injunctions of this variety, which are really just a way for British citizens of a certain level of importance to control local media. It doesn't really matter if the UK's highest court upholds a super-injunction if it has no way of enforcing it beyond its super-limited purview.

    • Fantastic: Now British Firms Are Getting In On The Bogus Website/Bogus DMCA Notice Scam
      Here we go again: intellectual property laws being abused to silence critics. In this case -- which resembles the tactics exposed by Pissed Consumer recently -- bogus copyright claims contained in bogus DMCA notices are being used to remove negative reviews from websites.

      In this case, it's a British firm -- one that first tried to abuse that country's oft-abused defamation laws.

    • Glenn Beck and other conservatives are in denial about Facebook censorship — so how do we fight back?
      Twitter was recently caught for shadowbanning conservatives and now it's been leaked that Facebook is equally biased. You can't have right wing opinions anywhere these days without mass amounts of backlash and censorship.

    • Mapping Media Freedom marks second year of monitoring censorship in Europe
      Journalists have been murdered and burned in effigy. Reporters have been publicly discredited by government officials, prosecuted for under anti-terrorism laws and excluded from public meetings on the refugee crisis. We’ve even recorded journalists being menaced with mechanical diggers.

      Mapping Media Freedom launched to the public on 24 May 2014 to monitor media censorship and press freedom violations throughout Europe. Two years on, the platform has verified over 1,800 incidents, ranging from insults and cyberbullying to physical assaults and assassination.

    • Google To France: No You Don't Get To Censor The Global Internet
      As we've been covering here at Techdirt, French regulators have been pushing Google to censor the global internet whenever it receives "right to be forgotten" requests. If you don't recall, two years ago, there was a dangerous ruling in the EU that effectively said that people could demand Google remove certain links from showing up when people searched on their names. This "right to be forgotten" is now being abused by a ton of people trying to hide true information they just don't like being known. Google grudgingly has agreed to this, having little choice to do otherwise. But it initially did so only on Google's EU domain searches. Last year, a French regulator said that it needed to apply globally. Google said no, explaining why this was a "troubling development that risks serious chilling effects on the web."

      French regulators responded with "don't care, do it!" Google tried to appease the French regulators earlier this year with a small change where even if you went to, say, from France (rather than the default of, Google would still censor the links based on your IP address. And, again, the French regulators said not good enough, and told Google it needed to censor globally. It also issued a fine.

    • Timeline of Amos Yee’s latest arrest by the Singapore Police Force over Section 298 of penal code
      TOC understands that Amos has uploaded a video titled “Refuting Islam With Their Own Quran” on 19 May 2016. The video is taken off of Youtube within an hour (possibly for violating Youtube community standards). Amos then re-uploads the video on Vimeo.

    • EU:s EPP group calls for Internet censorship
      If we introduce far-reaching online censorship you can be absolutely sure that it will be extended beyond its’ original purpose.

    • Myanmar court convicts man over penis tattoo poem
      A court in Myanmar has sentenced a young poet to six months in jail for defaming former president Thein Sein, making him one of the first political activists sentenced since Nobel peace prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi took power in April.

      Maung Saung Kha, 23, used his Facebook account to publish a poem about having a tattoo of a president on his penis. He was charged for defaming Thein Sein under telecommunications laws, used to curb free speech in several other recent cases.

    • Mohawk Regional releases yearbooks in censorship flap; will reprint page that was removed
      The yearbook was supposed to have been released on Friday, but was held back at the last minute by Superintendent Michael Buoniconti, who had previously ordered a single page cut from each book so as not to "harm the well-being of several students."

      The page contained a photograph of former teacher Ivan Grail, who earlier this year was accused of inappropriate sexual behavior with students, said Sarah Wunsch, deputy legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts.

      Grail was placed on paid leave in March. His current employment status is not known. Buoniconti did not respond to an email and telephone message from The Republican seeking comment.

    • Lessons in Censorship
      Public schools, we all agree, should teach civics and promote democracy, including respect for constitutional rights. Unfortunately, regardless of the official curriculum, schools routinely teach students through censorship and punishment that those in charge decide what may be said.

      In Lessons in Censorship: How Schools and Courts Subvert Students' First Amendment Rights, George Washington University law professor Catherine Ross presents and analyzes dozens of legal cases concerning the free speech rights of students in K-12 public schools. She also provides a convincing critique of the state of the law, an urgent warning about what students experience in school, and concrete suggestions for protecting student speech.

      Ross does not address censorship of college students, which has been much in the news over the past year. But her book is an important reminder that censorship of students begins long before they get to college. She organizes her presentation around five key U.S. Supreme Court decisions.

    • Censorship or justified Concern?
      While the University accepted that the proposed conference was a legitimate academic event, it became increasingly concerned by the end of March 2015 that the conference speakers had a ‘distinct leaning’ to one point of view (essentially anti-Israel) rather than the original intention of a balanced exchange of views, and more significantly that there was an unacceptably high risk of disorder if the conference were to go ahead.

    • Campus censorship is holding women back
      That a significant proportion of female students is willingly supporting censorship is very depressing. But it’s hardly surprising. The vast majority of censorship on campus is aimed at protecting women from offence. spiked’s 2016 Free Speech University Rankings (FSUR) found that almost a third of UK universities banned the Sun and the Daily Star, as part of the No More Page 3 campaign, and 25 banned the controversial pop song ‘Blurred Lines’. All of this is done in the name of cleansing campus of ‘demeaning’ representations of women.

    • Facebook changes policies on Trending Topics after activist accused site of right-wing censorship - and blames any bias on rogue employees

    • Facebook Censorship Concerns Could Hurt Engagement, Advertising Dollars

    • Facebook denies systemic bias in Trending Topics but changes how they are chosen

    • Facebook Makes 'Trending Topic' Change Following Conservative Backlash

    • Facebook Inc makes changes to 'Trending Topics' policies after conservative criticism

    • Facebook’s ‘sweeping’ reforms to trending topics won’t actually change much

    • Facebook tweaks 'Trending Topics' policy: Will it restore faith in neutrality?

    • Facebook denies 'systematic' content bias, but admits possibility of rogue employees

    • Facebook Trending Topics Will Undergo Changes Following Allegations of Political Bias

    • Facebook is tweaking Trending Topics to counter charges of bias

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Another Court Finds FBI's NIT Warrants To Be Invalid, But Credits Agents' 'Good Faith' To Deny Suppression
      Yet another court has found that the warrant used by the FBI in the Playpen child porn investigation is invalid, rendering its NIT-assisted "search" unconstitutional. As USA Today's Brad Heath points out, this is at least the sixth court to find that Rule 41's jurisdictional limitations do not permit warrants issued in Virginia to support searches performed all over the nation.

      While the court agrees that the warrant is invalid, it places the blame at the feet of the magistrate judge who issued it, rather than the agents who obtained it.

    • British govt hackers report vulnerabilities to Apple [Ed: Yet another one of those “saves the day” puff pieces]
      Britain's main spy agency has reported two serious operating system vulnerabilites to Apple, as concerns over government stockpiling of zero-day exploits continue.
    • Huge Scale Of Road Camera Surveillance Revealed
      The massive scale of surveillance cameras on the UK's roads has been revealed in new figures obtained by Sky News.

      Automatic number plate recognition - or ANPR - technology uses cameras to scan number plates and log car journeys.

      Whenever a car passes a camera, its registration is scanned and added to a central database, accessible by police forces.

    • Consumers Demanding Online Privacy in Light of Snowden Leaks
      He pointed to companies in Germany that market their social networking services by underscoring their commitment to enhanced privacy, meaning that the security of personal information has become something that can be sold.

    • The U.S. Surveillance State
      It was the most significant government leak since the Pentagon Papers and revealed an unprecedented level of spying by the U.S. state on the American people and those far beyond the America’s borders. We’ll feature highlights from the Academy Award-winning documentary film “Citizenfour” about whistleblower Edward Snowden and his revelations of massive NSA surveillance.
    • Where The 2016 Candidates Stand On Cybersecurity And Civil Liberties

      While Trump wants to strengthen the government's surveillance and cyberattack capabilities, the Democrats have fought for civil liberties.

    • Pentagon Whistleblower's Disclosures Put a Lie to Obama, Clinton Claims About Snowden
      Mark Hertsgaard broke the story of Pentagon whistleblower John Crane in his new book, "Bravehearts: Whistle-Blowing in the Age of Snowden." The book details how senior Pentagon officials may have broken the law to punish National Security Agency whistleblower Thomas Drake for leaking information about waste, mismanagement and surveillance. "I think that’s what’s important about John Crane’s story, is it puts the lie to what Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton are saying and have been saying about Edward Snowden from the beginning," Hertsgaard said.
    • 'Lots of surprises inside': Activist David Miranda tells RT about planned mass Snowden file leak
      On August 18, 2013, Miranda’s life was turned upside down when he was detained at London’s Heathrow Airport for 12 hours under anti-terrorism laws. This came after his partner Glenn Greenwald had published numerous documents released by the former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.

      Now the Brazilian-born Miranda says the public has the right to “see what is inside” the documents, which he plans to leak within the next few weeks, despite coming under pressure from governments not to publish the files.

    • Edward Snowden wants you to give a damn about privacy
      In October last year the Government passed the metadata legislation, with bipartisan support, that forces all telecommunications companies to keep the records of their customers for two years.
    • A new study shows how government-collected “anonymous” data can be used to profile you
      After Edward Snowden, a former National Security Agency contractor, showed the world that intelligence agencies in the US and the UK were monitoring call records on a massive scale, there was a collective gasp, but then mostly silence. There was outrage at the discovery that elected governments had been snooping on law-abiding citizens, but there was also confusion about what information, exactly, those governments were gathering, and what they could use it for.

    • We Asked Edward Snowden if Online Privacy Has Improved Since His Massive NSA Leak
      This Friday, May 27, HBO will air a new episode from season four of our Emmy-winning show. On the last episode, we met the team of female volunteers working to eradicate polio in Pakistan, as well as expert disposal teams trying to detonate unexploded land mines in Southeast Asia. This week we head to Russia to meet Edward Snowden to discuss the current state of digital privacy and government surveillance in America.

    • Scoop: VICE on HBO on Friday, May 27, 2016
      "State of Surveillance" The show is also available on HBO NOW, HBO GO and HBO On Demand. NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden leaked details of massive government surveillance programs in 2013, igniting a raging debate over digital privacy and security. That debate came to a head this year, when Apple fought an FBI court order seeking to access the iPhone of alleged San Bernardino terrorist Syed Farook. Meanwhile, journalists and activists are under increasing attack from foreign agents.

    • NSA Whistleblowers Before Snowden Illegally Suppressed By Pentagon

    • FSB's Snowden War:Using the American NSA against Itself [Ed: The idea that if one distrusts corporate/Western media, then one is fooled by Russia and alternative media is “Russian propaganda”]
      It is important to note that this form of intelligence media propaganda is not effective in isolation. It was not Russian propaganda that caused widespread distrust of the US government. However, the FSB and Russian media conglomerates are able to effectively profit from the damning Snowden disclosures by casting the US in a suspicious, negative light, while at the same time minimizing its own supposed flaws and political sins. More study should be devoted in future to this softer but still significant aspect of US-Russian relational conflict.
    • Observations and thoughts on the LinkedIn data breach
      Last week there was no escaping news of the latest data breach. The LinkedIn hack of 2012 which we thought had "only" exposed 6.5M password hashes (not even the associated email addresses so in practice, useless data), was now being sold on the dark web. It was allegedly 167 million accounts and for a mere 5 bitcoins (about US$2.2k) you could jump over to the Tor-based trading site, pay your Bitcoins and retrieve what is one of the largest data breaches ever to hit the airwaves.

      But this is not a straightforward incident for many reasons and there are numerous issues raised by the data itself and the nature of the hack. I've had a heap of calls and emails from various parties doing stories on it over the last week so I thought I'd address some of those queries here and add my own thoughts having now seen the data. I'll also talk about Have I been pwned (HIBP) and the broader issue of searchable breach data.

    • Five Years of Cookie Law: Politicians’ good intentions and incompetence create security, privacy nightmare
      Five years with the “cookie law”, taking effect in 2011, shows how politicians’ good intentions – when coupled with incompetence – can create a security and privacy nightmare. It was supposed to give users choice, privacy, and security. Its effect, over and above causing developer facedesks and headaches, has been the exact opposite.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Cocky-Doody Politics and World Affairs
      Truman, for instance, on civil rights: “I think one man is as good as another so long as he’s honest and decent and not a nigger or a Chinaman.” (He regularly referred to Jews as kikes, to Mexicans as greasers.)

      When Oppenheimer expressed to Truman his misgivings about having developed the atomic bombs, the president told his chief of staff, “I don’t want to see that son of a bitch in this office ever again.” He later called Oppenheimer a “crybaby scientist”.

    • Federal Judge Catches DOJ Lying, Sanctions Lawyers With Mandatory Ethics Classes
      The lies the DOJ told involve a 2014 DHS directive that changed its handling of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). The DOJ told the court and opposing counsel that no action under the new guidelines would commence until February 2015. These statements were made both orally (January 15, 2015) and in a filing (December 19, 2014). But in reality, the guidelines were already being used to process immigrants, resulting in over 100,000 modified DACA applications being granted or renewed by the DHS prior to either of these statements.

      This was caught by the court in April 2015, but the DOJ insisted its statements weren't lies, but rather the "innocent mistakes" of poorly-informed counsel, shifting the blame towards the DHS. Months later, the real truth has come out.


      This isn't the DOJ lying about a minor procedural detail. This is the DOJ lying about the DACA modification central to the states' lawsuit against the US government. To purposely mislead the court and the defendants about the status of DACA applicants cannot be waved away with claims of foggy memories. It also cannot be waved away with claims that the DOJ had no idea so many applicants were already being processed using guidelines still being contested in federal court.


      Unfortunately, the court is limited to what it can do in response to the DOJ's misconduct. Holding the DOJ responsible for the involved states' legal fees would result in the participating states effectively paying their own legal fees. It would be nothing more than moving around money collected from taxpayers and, thanks to federal taxes, robbing plaintiffs to pay plaintiffs. Instead, Judge Hanen has ordered that any DOJ lawyer who has -- or will -- appear in the courts of the 26 states involved in the lawsuit attend legal ethics courses. The courses will be provided by a legal agency unaffiliated with the DOJ, and the DOJ itself will be required to provide annual reports to the court confirming these courses are being attended.

    • 1,000 fake 999 calls by G4S to raise performance figures
      Another day another scandal at G4S, this time it has been claimed that staff made fake calls to a 999 emergency contact centre to ensure they met targets of answering 92 per cent of calls within ten seconds.

      This dire situation took place between November and December 2015 reports the Daily Mirror.

      There have been five staff who are now on suspension after they supposedly made over a thousand “test calls” at quiet times to ensure they were picked up quickly.

    • Judge Rules Edward Nero ‘Not Guilty’ in Freddie Gray Case, but Social Media Disagrees
      A judge has found Officer Edward Nero not guilty on all charges in the Freddie Gray case on Monday, but many on social media disagreed with the verdict.

      Nero was one of six Baltimore police officers charged in the 2015 arrest and death of Gray. Nero was accused of assault, misconduct in office and reckless endangerment.

    • Oklahoma’s Insane Rush to Execute
      Ever since the dramatic last-minute halt of the execution of Richard Glossip in Oklahoma last fall, exactly what happened that day has remained a mystery. In Washington, D.C., the U.S. Supreme Court had given the green light for Oklahoma to proceed with the execution using a protocol the justices had upheld just months before, in Glossip v. Gross. Outside the Oklahoma State Penitentiary that afternoon, Glossip’s lawyers, his family, and members of the press were all convinced the execution was imminent. Inside, witnesses thought they were about to be escorted to the death chamber. Glossip, meanwhile, stood in his boxer shorts inside a holding cell, waiting to be taken to the gurney.

      Instead, just before 4 p.m. on September 30, 2015, Gov. Mary Fallin — who had repeatedly denied relief for Glossip despite his vociferous claims of innocence — suddenly intervened, stopping the execution while making an embarrassing admission: The state did not have the correct execution drug in its possession. In a short statement, Fallin announced a temporary stay of 37 days to determine whether a drug named potassium acetate was “compliant” with the state’s lethal injection protocol.

    • When a Killer Cop Retires: The Resignation of Dante Servin
      On May 19, organizers and community members around the United States engaged in #SayHerName actions in support of women and femmes who have been harmed by state violence. This national day of action should have coincided with the start of the termination proceedings for Dante Servin, the Chicago police officer who murdered 22-year-old Rekia Boyd on March 22, 2012. Instead, Servin resigned on May 17, two days before an evidentiary hearing was scheduled to begin: as the last stage in his firing process.

    • The “Moscow Consensus”: Constructing autocracy in post-Soviet Eurasia

      Across the former Soviet Union, a new type of authoritarianism has become the default — with commerce, parliaments, military, media and civil society used to consolidate elite economic and political power.

    • T.S.A. Replaces Security Chief as Tension Grows at Airports and Agency
      Facing a backlash over long security lines and management problems, the head of the Transportation Security Administration shook up his leadership team on Monday, replacing the agency’s top security official and adding a new group of administrators at Chicago O’Hare International Airport.

      In an email to staff members, Peter V. Neffenger, the T.S.A. administrator, announced a series of changes that included the removal of Kelly Hoggan, who had been the assistant administrator for the Office of Security Operations since 2013.

      Beginning late that year, Mr. Hoggan received $90,000 in bonuses over a 13-month period, even though a leaked report from the Department of Homeland Security showed that auditors were able to get fake weapons and explosives past security screeners 95 percent of the time in 70 covert tests.

    • How Anti-White Rhetoric Is Fueling White Nationalism
      I opened Twitter recently and saw 20+ notifications. Most of the time that means the new generation of white nationalist Twitter trolls are filling my feed with racist and anti-Semitic cartoons. It was the trolls, but this was different. They were celebrating my use of the word “anti-white” in a tweet. They saw it as a victory that a “mainstream conservative” was using this term that for so long has been their calling card.

      They had a point. Until recently I would have been unlikely to use the term. Not because I didn’t believe some people harbored animosity towards whites, but because that was a fringe attitude removed from power, which represented little real threat. That is no longer the case. Progressive rhetoric on race has turned an ugly corner and the existence of “anti-white” attitudes can no longer be ignored.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • Freedom of choice of terminal, key issue for Net Neutrality
      La Quadrature du Net publishes an article from Benjamin Bayart, member of the Strategic Directions Council of La Quadrature du Net. This article was written on behalf of the Federation FDN and was initially plublished in French here.

    • Transition Of Core Internet Functions (IANA) Oversight From US Government No Done Deal
      Will the US National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) be able to handover oversight over the management of the DNS root zone and other core databases of the internet in September? At a hearing of the Senate Commerce Committee in Washington today, proponents and opponents showed off and Senator Marco Rubio, former presidential candidate, strongly supported a delay.

    • Reddit, Mozilla, Others Urge FCC To Formally Investigate Broadband Usage Caps And Zero Rating
      We've noted how the FCC's latest net neutrality rules do a lot of things right, but they failed to seriously address zero rating or broadband usage caps, opening the door to ISPs violently abusing net neutrality -- just as long as they're relatively clever about it. And plenty of companies have been walking right through that open door. Both Verizon and Comcast for example now exempt their own streaming services from these caps, giving them an unfair leg up in the marketplace. AT&T meanwhile is now using usage caps to force customers to subscribe to TV services if they want to enjoy unlimited data.

      In each instance you've got companies using usage caps for clear anti-competitive advantage, while industry-associated think tanks push misleading studies and news outlet editorials claiming that zero rating's a great boon to consumers and innovation alike.

      The FCC's net neutrality rules don't ban usage caps or zero rating, unlike rules in Chile, Slovenia, Japan, India, Norway and The Netherlands. The FCC did however state that the agency would examine such practices on a "case by case" basis under the "general conduct" portion of the rules. But so far, that has consisted of closed door meetings and a casual, informal letter sent to a handful of carriers as part of what the FCC says is an "information exercise," not a formal inquiry.

    • Medium, Mozilla, and Kickstarter Signed a Letter Against Zero-Rating
      A coalition of leading open internet advocates is pressuring federal regulators to crack down on the controversial broadband industry practice of “zero-rating,” calling it a threat to net neutrality, the principle that all content on the internet should be equally accessible.

      Zero-rating refers to a variety of practices that broadband companies use to exempt certain internet content and services from data caps, effectively favoring those services by giving consumers an economic incentive to use them instead of rival offerings.

    • AT&T Begins Capping Broadband Users Today
      Just a reminder to AT&T customers: the company's usage caps on U-Verse broadband connections take effect today. When AT&T originally announced broadband caps on fixed-line connections back in 2011, it capped DSL customers at 150 GB per month and U-Verse customers at 250 GB per month. But while the DSL customer cap was enforced (by and large because AT&T wants these users to migrate to wireless anyway), AT&T didn't enforce caps for its U-Verse customers.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • What does the timing of the US Defend Trade Secrets Act and EU Trade Secrets Directive really mean for companies? [Ed: Those who promote UPC (for big foreign corporations, AmeriKat in this case) also promote ‘law’ for corporations to punish staff]
      So with two new trade secrets laws on both sides of the Atlantic, what does this really mean for companies seeking to protect and enforce their valuable trade secrets?

    • Copyrights

      • Australia Officially Abandons Three Strikes Anti-Piracy Scheme

        After indications earlier this year that copyright holders and ISPs were having serious problems reaching agreement on who will pay for the three-strikes anti-piracy regime, the project has now officially been canned. In a letter to the Australian Media and Communications Authority, the Communications Alliance and rightsholders have confirmed its demise.

      • Hollywood Withdraws Funding for UK Anti-Piracy Group FACT

        The UK's Federation Against Copyright Theft has received a major blow after the Motion Picture Association advised the anti-piracy group it will not renew its membership. The termination of the 30-year long relationship means that FACT will lose 50% of its budget and the backing of the six major Hollywood movie studios.

      • Hollywood Writers: Set-top Box Piracy Fears Are Overblown

        Copyright holders and cable companies are fiercely against FCC's plan to open up the set-top box market. They fear that this will facilitate piracy and degrade security. As a notable exception, the Writers Guild of America West contradicts these concerns, arguing that more choice for consumers is likely to benefit all sides.
      • How Piracy Became a Cause Celebre in the World of Academics
        In October 2008, two of the big names in academic publishing, Elsevier and Thieme, celebrated victory against an "international piracy scheme involving the unlawful copying, sale, and distribution of scientific journals.”

        In the defeated scheme, a Vietnamese entrepreneur had used throwaway email accounts to pose as a salesman. He contacted academics, offering discounted access to subscription journals. The unsuspecting marks made payment through fake websites that mimicked the publishers’, and received paper printouts of the journals in the mail.

        Now, another international piracy scheme commands the attention of Elsevier—but this one looks more like a Silicon Valley startup than a black market.
      • Sony Thinks It Can Charge An 'Administrative Fee' For Fair Use
        Mitch Stoltz, over at EFF, has been writing about a ridiculous situation in which Sony Music has been using ContentID to take down fair use videos -- and then to ask for money to put them back up. As Stoltz notes, the videos in question are clearly fair use. They're videos of lectures put on by the Hudson Valley Bluegrass Association, teaching people about bluegrass music. They're hourlong lectures in a classroom setting, that do include snippets of music here and there as part of a lecture, with the music usually less than 30 seconds long.

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