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Links 10/9/2016: Elementary OS Loki, Linux Mint 18 “Sarah” KDE Edition

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  • Desktop

    • Cub Linux Is a Worthy Chromixium Offspring
      Cub Linux 1.0 has much of the stability and maturity of a more established Linux distro.

      It is a great alternative to Google's semi-proprietary Chrome OS locked into the popular Chromebook hardware.

      Cub Linux is a Chrome OS clone that runs on nearly any aging or newer computer with the user's choice of the fully open-sourced Chromium Web browser or Google's Chrome browser.

    • How Chromebooks Are About to Totally Transform Laptop Design
      Google’s first Chromebook was the kind of laptop you’d design if you didn’t give a damn about laptop design. It was thick, heavy, rubbery, boring, and black. Black keys, black body, black trackpad, black everything. Everything about the Cr-48 was designed to communicate that this device was still an experiment. Even the name, a reference to an unstable isotope of the element Chromium, was a hint at the chaos raging inside this black box. “The hardware exists,” Sundar Pichai told a crowd of reporters at the Cr-48’s launch event in December of 2010, “only to test the software.”

      Moments later, Eric Schmidt took the stage and preached about how the “network computer” tech-heads had been predicting for decades was finally ready to change the world. “We finally have a product,” Schmidt said, “which is strong enough, technical enough, scalable enough, and fast enough that you can build actually powerful products on it.” Apparently already sensing the skeptical feedback Chrome OS would get, he gestured toward the audience and told them “it does, in fact, work.”

    • 7 Reasons Why You Should Buy a Chromebook
      Chromebook is a different thing from Netbooks with the fact that it does not have Windows being a huge difference. Chromebooks thus run on a fresh and different operating system that while it is not an old OS it isn’t a desktop kind of OS either but a mobile one.

      Chromebooks have pretty hardware, especially if the Haswell processors they are running on, which are energy efficient, are anything to go by. Nonetheless, there are many reasons why buying Chromebooks make a lot of sense.

    • Why Linux? - Some Reasons For Converting To Linux
      Many organisations and businesses world wide are converting their core computer operating system to Linux as opposed to other operating systems for a number of reasons some of which we shall discuss here in after (why linux),this is mostly because of problems faced in daily computer usage both at home and at the work place.

  • Server

    • Containerizing Stateful Applications
      In this post, we discussed what application state is, the different types of application states you are likely to encounter. We also covered how each type of state can be managed in a containerized environment. In most cases, several options are available to choose from. So, although containers are ephemeral, the application state does not need to be!

      My goal for this post was to show that stateful applications can be containerized. So, how did I do? We would love to hear your feedback and experiences, or if you have any questions I can help answer.

  • Kernel Space

    • Stabilising performance after a major kernel revision
      A topic related to upstreaming patches on kernel forks related to embedded platforms is currently being discussed for Kernel Summit 2016. This is an age-old topic related to whether it is better to work upstream and backport or apply patches to a product-specific kernel and worry about forward-porting later. The points being raised have not changed over the years and still comes down to getting something out the door quickly versus long-term maintenance overhead. I’m not directly affected so had nothing new to add to the thread.

    • The Hyperledger Project is growing like gangbusters
      If you had any doubt there is broad industry interest in blockchain, look no further than the Linux Foundation's Hyperledger Project. It has grown by 170 percent since its formal launch in February, now counting 80 members compared to the original 30 founding members.

    • Great Technology Never Gets Old? Linux Celebrates 25 years!
      In the IT world of 1991, the desktop market was just blossoming, the personal computer was becoming more powerful, intel were breaking Moore’s law with reckless abandon, and Microsoft were starting to get their act together with a brand new exciting development that was to hit the streets a year later, called Windows. The server market was also expanding. An interminable list of organizations including IBM, HP, Sun, TI, Siemens, ICL, Sequent, DEC, SCO, SGI, Olivetti were building proprietary chips, machines and UNIX variants. UNIX had already by that stage enjoyed significant success since making the leap from academia to commerce, and everyone was trying to get a share of the spoils.

    • Linux Kernel 3.14 LTS Is About to Reach End of Life, Update 3.14.78 Out Now
      After informing the community about the availability of Linux kernel 4.7.3 and Linux kernel 4.4.20 LTS, Greg Kroah-Hartman announced the release of Linux kernel 3.14.78 LTS.

      Linux kernel 3.14.78 LTS is the seventy-eighth maintenance update to the long-term supported Linux 3.14 kernel series, which appears to approach its end of life soon, according to Greg Kroah-Hartman, who states "The 3.14.y kernel series is coming to an end. There will be only one more release after this one, of this kernel series before it will be marked as end-of-life. You have been warned."

    • ZFSOnLinux Now Supports The Latest Linux Kernels
      ZFS On Linux was released on Friday as the newest version of this OpenZFS file-system implementation.

      ZFSOnLinux is an important release as it finally is the first stable version providing support for the past few Linux kernel versions: Linux 4.6, 4.7, and 4.8 are now supported by ZOL. Meanwhile this code remains compatible with kernels going back to Linux 2.6.32.

    • Graphics Stack

      • SLPC-Based Power Management Still Being Worked On For Intel's DRM Driver

      • NVIDIA Releases 370.28 Drivers for Linux
        Unfortunately, I don't tend to notice when Linux drivers get released; it's something I want to report more frequently on. Luckily, this time, I heard about NVIDIA's 370.28 graphics drivers while they were still fresh. This one opens up overclocking (and underclocking) for GeForce 10-series GPUs, although NVIDIA (of course) mentions that this is “at the user's own risk”. It also fixes a bunch of Vulkan bugs.

      • Input threads in the X server
        A great new feature has been merged during this 1.19 X server development cycle: we're now using threads for input [1]. Previously, there were two options for how an input driver would pass on events to the X server: polling or from within the signal handler. Polling simply adds all input devices' file descriptors to a select(2) loop that is processed in the mainloop of the server. The downside here is that if the server is busy rendering something, your input is delayed until that rendering is complete. Historically, polling was primarily used by the keyboard driver because it just doesn't matter much when key strokes are delayed. Both because you need the client to render them anyway (which it can't when it's busy) and possibly also because we're just so bloody used to typing delays.

      • The Threaded Input Support In X.Org Server 1.19

    • Benchmarks

      • Intel Xeon E5-2609 v4 Broadwell-EP Linux Benchmarks
        Recently I purchased a Xeon E5-2609 v4 Broadwell-EP processor as a $300 Xeon with eight physical cores but clocked at just 1.7GHz and without any Turbo Boost while the TDP is 85 Watts. Here are some benchmarks compared to other LGA-2011 v3 CPUs in my possession under Linux along with an AMD FX reference point too and followed by some Skylake Xeon benchmarks.

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

      • Krita 3.01 Beta Released

        The popular Krita painting program keeps getting even better. This new beta release of 3.01 includes features added from Google Summer of Code programmers. This screencast does a very good job explaining the new features, including new animation tools.

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK

      • GNOME Photos final landing with Google Photos
        Well, that doesn’t go hand in hand, right? Things are awesome but they are not stable initially. GNOME Photos faced things no differently. While we had landed patches for Google Photos sharing earlier this summer,it took time to get stable and handling those shared images. It’s not only about the sharing but all the things around it.

      • Presenting at the Government IT Symposium
        I'm pleased to announce that I will be presenting "Usability testing in open source software" at the 35th Annual Government IT Symposium, in December 2016!

      • Thank you, Karlsruhe!
        GUADEC is the GNOME Foundation’s primary annual event, held every year in a different European city. The conference brings together contributors, enthusiasts, and partners from around the world for three days of talks, followed by three days of workshops (called “Birds of a Feather” sessions). This year, the event took place in Karlsruhe, Germany between the 12th and 17th of August. As always, the conference was a great opportunity for contributors from around the world to meet, make plans, and have fun.

        Presentations covered significant developments in GNOME technologies such as Flatpak, GNOME Software, Builder, and new GTK+ features. There were also talks by GNOME’s partners, including Red Hat, SUSE, and Endless. In addition, the Foundation announced the debut of its newest conference, LAS GNOME, to be held this September in Portland, Oregon. In case you couldn’t make it, here’s a link to the 2016 GUADEC talks.

  • Distributions

    • New Releases

      • Linux Lite 3.2 to Land on November 1, 2016, Offer Dual-Booting with Other OSes
        Softpedia has been informed today by the creator and lead developer of the user-friendly Linux Lite operating system, Mr. Jerry Bezencon, about a few interesting facts regarding the upcoming major release of the GNU/Linux distribution.

      • Elementary OS Loki Has Arrived
        If you have been using Elementary OS Freya, you should be incredibly excited about the prospect of seeing your platform of choice gain even more polish. For those that have never given Elementary a chance, Loki will be a perfect introduction to one of the most elegant and user-friendly Linux desktops on the market.

        I highly recommend that every Linux user at least kick the tires of Elementary OS Loki. Elementary was the first distribution to permanently sway me from Ubuntu and it shows no signs of releasing me any time soon. And since today, September 9, 2016 is the official release day of Loki, now is the perfect time to find out if Elementary OS Loki can sway you.

      • Elementary OS 0.4 "Loki" Released
        Elementary OS 0.4 is powered by the Linux 4.4 kernel.

      • elementary OS 0.4 "Loki" Officially Released, It's Based on Ubuntu 16.04 LTS
        Just a few minutes ago, the guys over elementary were extremely proud to announce the release and immediate availability of the elementary OS 0.4 "Loki" GNU/Linux operating system.

        elementary OS 0.4 "Loki" has been in development for the past three or four months, during which it received two Beta milestones, and we have to admit that we were expecting to see the Release Candidate (RC) build as well, but it looks like the devs decided it's time for the popular operating system to hit the stable channels.

        And there you have it, elementary OS 0.4 "Loki" in all of its beauty is now ready to take over your personal computers, and the best part is that it's based on Canonical's Ubuntu 16.04 LTS (Xenial Xerus) operating system, which means that Loki is also an LTS (Long Term Support) OS, which will receive security and software updates until 2021.

      • Elementary OS 0.4 'Loki' Ubuntu-based Linux distribution achieves stable release
        There are too many Linux distributions nowadays. While many people feel that there is no such thing as too much choice, I respectfully disagree. Quite frankly, the Linux developer community is spread too thin, leading to wasted resources and slow movement on projects. For end users, it can be hard to find the best operating system for them, as there are far too many from which to pick.

        With all of that said, there is plenty of room for some distributions -- when they make a substantial impact, that is. Elementary OS (stylized as elementary OS) isn't the most popular Linux distro, and it certainly isn't the best. However, this Ubuntu-based operating system is focusing on something that some competitors do not -- user interface, which ultimately contributes to the overall user experience. It is because of this that Elementary is so important to the Linux community -- it matters. Today, Elementary 0.4 (code-named 'Loki'), achieves stable status.

      • Upcoming Linux Distributions Releasing In September 2016

    • Screenshots/Screencasts

    • Red Hat Family

    • Debian Family

      • Derivatives

        • Canonical/Ubuntu

          • Ubuntu 16.10 (Yakkety Yak) Now Has a Default Wallpaper, Available in Two Flavors
            The development of the Ubuntu 16.10 (Yakkety Yak) operating system continues at a fast pace, and we can see more and more software updates arriving every single day in its official software repositories.

          • You Can Now Register for the First European Ubuntu Conference, UbuCon Europe
            Softpedia was informed by Marius Quabeck from that the registration for the upcoming UbuCon Europe conference for Ubuntu Linux users and developers is now open.

            We informed our readers about UbuCon Europe, which is the very first European Ubuntu conference put together by a group of Ubuntu members, earlier this year, and told them that it would take place between November 18-20, at the Unperfekthaus in Essen, Germany.

          • Flavours and Variants

            • Linux Mint 18 "Sarah" KDE Edition Officially Released, Based on Ubuntu 16.04 LTS
              Today, September 9, 2016, Clement Lefebvre has proudly announced the release and immediate availability of the final version of the Linux Mint 18 "Sarah" KDE Edition operating system.

            • Mint 18 KDE Released as Spices Designed Team Announced
              Linux Mint 18 for KDE users is finally here more than two months after the MATE and Cinnamon versions. Clement Lefebvre announced the release today on the blog saying, "It comes with updated software and brings refinements and many new features to make your desktop even more comfortable to use." The day before Lefebvre introduced his new Artwork Design team and some of their early work. They're to make Mint even more beautiful.

              Linux Mint 18 KDE features Plasma 5.6 decorated with the same general Mint theme and images as found in the other spins. The KDE edition previously featured a more blue colored theme, but with version 18 it sports a very similar look as the others with green and gray the prominent colors. Man hours were a part of the reason for the change, but primarily it was probably to provide a more uniform look across the various desktops. However, if it was a matter of personnel and time, perhaps that is no longer a problem.

              Yesterday Lefebvre announced the formation of a new artwork design team. This new team is to dress up the Cinnamon Spices Website, then perhaps others, and finally will collaborate with the development team on the distributions' look and feel. According to Lefebvre's post, the eight member team consists, at least partially, of artists who have helped Mint in the past and joined the new team by invitation. Lefebvre singled out two such artists in his post and shared Eran Gilo's new Cinnamon logo as well as the site's new look. The new updated Website theme is not live as of yet, but it will be a major improvement when it is. The Cinnamon Spices Website is a gallery and repository for Cinnamon desktop themes, applets/desklets, and extensions.

            • Linux Mint 18 KDE is here -- download the open source Windows 10 alternative now
              Regardless of your feelings about the iPhone, you cannot deny that this week belongs to Apple. The company is certainly dominating much of the world's attention. With that said, there is certainly more going on in the technology world than a new version of a popular smartphone. Some desktop Linux users for instance, would probably be more excited about a new version of a distribution, and today, a significant OS sees release.

              What is the desktop OS of which I speak? Linux Mint 18 'Sarah'. True, that distribution is not really new, but this variation is -- KDE. Yes, a new version of Mint -- featuring the Plasma desktop environment and associated apps -- is available today. Could the open source operating system be a good alternative to Windows 10?

            • wattOS R10 Linux Distribution Released, Now Based on Ubuntu 16.04.1 LTS
              The much-awaited wattOS R10 has arrived in all its glory. This power efficient GNU/Linux distribution is based on the latest Ubuntu 16.04.1 long term release. The current release only provides LXDE desktop environment and Microwatt edition will be released later. The wattOS R10 release also brings broader support for older hardware.

  • Devices/Embedded

Free Software/Open Source

  • Why Your Open Source Project Is Not A Product
    I’ve spent a good bit of time explaining the ins and outs of open source products: what they are, how to make money with them, and what they are not. Namely, products are products, no matter the source code license they are published under. But there’s a journey that a software project must undergo before it can be accurately labeled with the moniker “product.” This journey includes, but is not limited to, the open source supply chain going from upstream bits to downstream product, as well as a bit of special sauce branding, complete with trademark, that applies only to the supported product. But, I can feel a bit of grousing bubbling just under the surface: Why does it have to be so complicated?

  • The 7 Dimensions of Good Open Source Management
    Organizations use open source software to gain competitive advantage in many ways: to speed up software delivery, save money on development, to stay flexible, and to stay on the leading edge of technology.

    But using open source software, and especially integrating and redistributing it in products and services, carries with it added complexity and risk. Code coming in from multiple sources, under different licenses and with varied quality and maturity levels, can expose organizations to issues with security, integration, support and management -- not to mention legal action -- if the code is not properly managed.

  • Abbott: Success with Interns
    Laura Abbott marks the end of the latest round of open-source internships at Outreachy with a blog post reflecting on "what makes an internship successful," especially as seen in the kernel team's internships.

  • Keeping DOS alive with FreeDOS
    I wanted to share a recent interview with about the FreeDOS Project, an open source software project that's been close to me since 1994. Jason Baker from Red Hat interviewed me about FreeDOS, why we started it, and what to expect in FreeDOS 1.2 (out later this year).

  • Open source technology gains steam in data center, but challenges loom
    Despite new developments with the Open Compute Project and other groups, challenges remain when it comes to open source implementation in the data center. Explore them with these FAQs.

  • May the Fork Be with You: A Short History of Open Source Forks
    Debian is one of the oldest Linux-based distributions that became the base of many distros. One of the most popular Debian forks is Ubuntu. Ubuntu takes Debian packages and builds its own packages. It has its own software repository, it’s own kernel. Though many would argue whether Ubuntu is a fork or not, even Mark Shuttleworth is not fully sure.

  • Penn software helps to identify course of cancer metastasis, tumor 'evolution'
    Canopy is an open-source software so oncologists will be able to use it to identify potential biomarkers for different cancer cell populations within tumor specimens that are associated with drug resistance and invasive malignancy, among other characteristics.

  • The New Research and Development (R&D) Model - Open Source Projects
    I have written in the past how the International Multimedia Telecommunication Consortium (IMTC) has generated some great use case specifications on Real-Time Media and Software Defined Networking (RTM SDN) and how the Open Network Foundation (ONF) has realized these use cases with a new open source project for RTM SDN called Project Atrium Enterprise. However, what most don’t realize is how open source has changed the world in how we do Research and Development (R&D) as an industry.

    I for one, having been in a closed source world for many years, didn’t realize how innovation is being incubated in a totally different model than the past. I always thought open source projects were what developers did in their spare time and that features were just punted over the wall with no rhyme or reason. Now, I knew that open source Linux was widely used as the operating system of choice for embedded systems; however, what I didn’t understand is how open source projects really worked and how they have been funded.

  • Descent: Underground builds open-source gaming depot
    Descendent Studios, makers of Descent: Underground, announced the open-source release of several Unreal Engine 4 plugins they developed for the game. The studio rolled out their GitHub repository on the heels of last week’s announcement that Descent: Underground won an Open-Source Virtual Reality (OSVR) Fund grant from Razer. Descent: Underground was the first high-end action title to natively support all of the major desktop VR headsets: OSVR, HTC Vive, and Oculus Rift.

  • FRAUDAR: How A New Open Source Algorithm Aims To Kill Social Media Frauds

  • Events

    • What you need to know about PostgresOpen 2016
      PostgresOpen is the longest running PostgreSQL conference in the United States. This week I had the pleasure of chatting with Stephen Frost, who is the program committee chair and a main organizer of PostgresOpen, which takes place this year in Dallas, TX from September 13-15. We talked about who goes, what sessions to look for, and their charity event which will be helping a cause near and dear to my heart: diversity in tech.

    • Bloomberg to Hold Weekend Node.js Hackathons in New York and London
      In 2014 Bloomberg hosted its first "Open Source Day" event, which was an experiment to see if we could combine the company's long history of volunteerism with open source collaboration. We brought one of the Git project's core developers to New York City, got about 30 employees signed up, and they spent the day learning how to build, test, and improve Git. The event was such a success that we've held a half-dozen more, and they've grown into weekend events with attendees from our Engineering team, local universities and colleges, and of course the open source community.

  • Databases

    • Open Source InfluxDB 1.0 Time-Series Database Released
      InfluxData Inc. said its new open source InfluxDB time-series database -- just moved to version 1.0 -- was almost three years in the making.

      Written in the Go programming language, InfluxDB 1.0 was designed to process time-series data with high availability and high performance requirements, the company said.

      Although most popular in Internet of Things (IoT) and Big Data analytics development, time-series databases have many other use cases, according to InfluxData.

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice

    • Trying Out & Failing With OpenIndiana, Solaris 11.3 On The Broadwell-EP System
      After testing seven Linux distributions and eight BSDs on the new Xeon E5-2609 v4 Broadwell-EP + MSI X99A WORKSTATION system, I next decided to try getting some fresh Solaris-based results.

      Unfortunately, using OpenIndiana nor Oracle Solaris was successful.

      With the OpenIndiana tests I was using their newest "Hipster" ISOs bundled with the MATE desktop. I was able to get to the MATE desktop after selecting the VESA driver option from the boot-loader, then it looked like things may be going well for this Illumos-based operating system on this modern Broadwell-EP system where I've been testing all these Linux/BSD distributions as of late. However, after firing up the graphical installer, as soon as the actual installation process began the installer window immediately disappeared... Then a few seconds later the system was completely unresponsive. Rebooting again, same problem.

    • LibreOffice 5.2.1 Open Source Office Suite Released With 105 Bug Fixes


    • Free Software Foundation stresses necessity of full user control over Internet-connected devices

      The Internet of Things (IoT) refers to the integration of Internet technology into a wider range of home devices than previously envisaged by most users. Early adopters of IoT may now have homes with Internet-connected lightbulbs, alarm systems, baby monitors and even coffee machines. Internet integration allows owners to have greater flexibility over their devices, making it possible to turn on their air conditioning as they leave work to cool the house before they return, to have curtains that automatically close based on sunset time, or lights that automatically turn off after the owner has left the house. Each individual benefit may seem marginal, but overall they add significant benefit to the owners.

    • GnuTLS 3.5.4
      Released GnuTLS 3.4.15, and GnuTLS 3.5.4 which are bug fix releases in the current and next stable branches.

      Added the GnuTLS-SA-2016-3 security advisory.

    • Friday "Golden Oldies" Free Software Directory IRC meetup: September 9th
    • Free Software Directory meeting recap for September 2nd, 2016
      This week's meeting had a special theme of looking at the categories and other user interface elements of the directory. The directory is one of the most frequently visited resources maintained by the Free Software Foundation, often by users who may not be familiar with free software. So we want to make sure the way that it presents itself is welcoming and useful. The first hour of the meeting was dedicated solely to discussing these issues.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

    • Open Access/Content

      • The rise of the shareable document
        Higher education is increasingly embracing different concepts of openness, from open access to open education resources (OER). But where does that other open concept—open source—fit into this model? Open source represents the best way to ensure these materials can be easily modified, without risk of material suddenly becoming unchangeable or inaccessible.

  • Programming/Development

    • V8 JavaScript Engine 5.4 Brings More Performance Improvements
      Version 5.4 of the V8 JavaScript Engine has been released. This is another hefty update to V8 and it brings the favorite kind of work we like talking about: more performance improvements.

      V8 Release 5.4 brings reductions in peak memory usage of on-heap memory up to 40% by tuning the garbage collector for low-memory systems. The off-heap peak memory usage has improved by up to 20% as well thanks to simplifying the V8 JavaScript parser.

  • Standards/Consortia

    • Adobe Flash Player Free Download Available for Linux [Ed: Adobe realises too late that GNU/Linux isn’t going away]
    • Flash has become so outcast, even Porn websites are ditching it
    • Pornhub, RedTube ditch Flash to hook up with HTML5
    • Top smut site stops Flashing, adopts HTML5

    • Tasty open standards: Pornhub to dump Flash in favor of HTML5
      The march of HTML 5 dominance across the web has received an arousing boost with the news that popular porn site Pornhub is dumping flash in favor of the open web standard.

      Whereas porn usually leads when it comes to embracing new technologies, the decision by Pornhub to abandon Flash was a case where instead it was following others, in particular Google The search giant announced in August that it would begin removing all support for Flash in its market-leading Google Chrome browser from version 53 that was due to be released in September. Pornhub does, however, lead the porn industry, with competitors including YouPorn, xHamster, and RedTube still relying on Flash to serve their content.

    • [Older] Is the GPL the right way to force IoT standardization?
      The Internet of Things has tremendous potential, but remains a mishmash of conflicting “standards” that don’t talk to each other. As various vendors erect data silos in the sky, what is actually needed is increased developer communication between disparate IoT projects.

      I’ve argued before that this is one reason IoT needs to be open sourced, providing neutral territory for developers to focus on code, not business models. But there’s still an open question as to what kind of open source best facilitates developer-to-developer sharing. In Cessanta CTO and co-founder Sergey Lyubka’s view, the restrictive GNU General Public License (GPLv2) is the right way to license IoT, at least for now.


  • Acquiring Apigee, Google Makes Another Big Cloud Move
    Google is making some significant moves to bolster its presence in cloud computing. In its latest move, the company said it is acquiring cloud software company Apigee in a deal valued at about $625 million. Apigee offers API management solutions that help companies' digital services interact with applications used by customers and partners. For example, Apigee Edge is an intelligent API management solution that helps businesses manage open source APIs "to securely share services and data across multiple channels and devices."

    Just this week, Google also partnered with Box to allow users of the popular Box enterprise cloud storage and content services platform edit documents with Google Docs, Sheets and Slides, while keeping them stored on Box. Many enterprise users will applaud that move as it will give them more coud storage freedom. What is behind all these cloud moves from Google?

  • The Real Impact Of Your Phone
    Your phone uses the equivalent of two refrigerators’ worth of electricity every year.

    No, charging your phone doesn’t suck up as much energy as your TV, Apple TV, your fridge, or your vacuum does. But if you add in all of the electricity required to store and move data across high-speed cable and wireless networks and climate-controlled server farms to deliver an hour of video to your phone each week, in the space of a year it adds up to more power than two new Energy Star refrigerators consume in the same time.

    The estimate, from a 2013 report by the U.S. National Mining Association and the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity—is a controversial one, but perhaps no estimate of the energy impact of our electronics use isn't: measuring the aggregate impact of the supply chain and infrastructure behind your phone across its life cycle is a very difficult thing to do.

  • 5 Foreign School Rules Way Better Than The American Version
    If you've ever read anything on the internet, you know that the American education system isn't doing so hot. Of course, poorly spelled rants against barely understood aspects of politics and culture aren't the sole provenance of the United States, but global national education statistics do give some weight to the "Stupid American" stereotype. There are, however, several ready-made solutions to our many, many problems. All we have to do is swallow our pride and let other countries teach us how to become more better at schooling.

  • html email comments
    I’m not sure which is more disturbing. The decision to embed version history in every email they send, or the inconsistent date formats, or the strange mix of HTML, C, and C++ style comments. Using -- is a particularly poor choice of decoration within an HTML comment, by the by.

    I’m also having a fun time imagining staying at a hotel 50 years ago, then receiving a follow up letter spattered with white out covering up various notes from the marketer to the secretary. “Insert reference to upcoming holiday here.”

  • The 100% correct way to validate email addresses
    Congratulations. From this day forward, you will no longer squander your time trying to work out the perfect regex to validate email addresses. You will also never again run the risk of rejecting what is, in fact, a strange, valid email address.

    The trick is to first define what we mean by ‘valid’.

  • Science

    • Australia’s ‘innovation future’ needs a kick along, says Internet Australia

      Internet Australia wants to see the country do more to achieve its potential as a world-leading “innovation nation” and has repeated its call for a Digital Future Forum of government and industry leaders, trade unions and academics to develop a roadmap for innovation.

      IA chief executive Laurie Patton told the Digital Strategy Innovation Summit in Sydney on Wednesday there needs to be agreement between all political parties and industry on the direction Australia should take to achieve a national innovation agenda for the country.

    • 13 Academics Who Have Become Shills for Corporate Giants in the Food, Agrochemical and Fossil Fuel Industries
      There’s nothing new or unusual about corporate and academic collaboration. IBM, for instance, has partnered with universities around the country since the 1940s to support computer science education. This relationship is mutually beneficial both for the tech giant and the institutions sponsored. IBM’s grant dollars provide welcome funding for research and equipment for students, all while fostering a new class of computer scientists and engineers.

      University-business partnerships, however, require a careful balance. Take the tobacco industry. According to a 2012 study by Harvard professor Allan Brandt, cigarette makers all but invented the concept of industry-academic conflicts of interest. Since the 1950s, cigarette companies have sought to influence the debate about the dangers of smoking to sell more of their products. One tactic used was aligning with university-based science and underwriting millions of dollars for favorable research.

  • Hardware

    • Why water sports and the iPhone 7 don't mix
      APPLE'S NEW iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus are being advertised as "water and dust resistant" but water sports enthusiasts should take note that they are not water and dust proof.

      The difference is important if you are a scuba diver who always needs to be connected, because you'll get nowhere with Cook & Co if you send your waterlogged phone back for replacement under warranty.

      "iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus are splash, water and dust resistant and were tested under controlled laboratory conditions with a rating of IP67 under IEC standard 60529," said Apple's get-out clause.

      "Splash, water and dust resistance are not permanent conditions and resistance might decrease as a result of normal wear. Do not attempt to charge a wet iPhone; refer to the user guide for cleaning and drying instructions. Liquid damage not covered under warranty."

      Interestingly, the blurb doesn't mention dust damage so speedway riders may be OK.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Washing Our Hands of Toxins
      The bacteria on your skin is safer than these two chemicals the FDA just banned from your soap.

    • Your brain is sponging up toxic nanomagnets from polluted air
      Anyone who’s lived in a smoggy city would likely welcome the idea of using widely dispersed air filters to soak up all those toxic tidbits floating around—unless, of course, those filters were functioning human brains.

      Our noggins naturally catch and collect the toxic, magnetic nanoparticles that we inadvertently inhale from polluted air, according to a study published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Those wee particles, made of the strongly magnetic iron oxide compound, magnetite, have been found in human brains before and were thought to be normal and harmless byproducts of biological processes. But according to the new study, a closer examination of minuscule metal balls in 37 human brains revealed that they’re actually from smog, formed during combustion or friction-derived heating, such as slamming on the brakes of a car.

      Whether the particles are harmful is hazy, but the authors note that the nanomagnets have two troubling features: they can interact with misfolded proteins associated with Alzheimer’s disease to produce reactive oxygen species, which can severely damage cells; and large amounts of them in the brain correlated with Alzheimer’s disease in earlier studies. Given these potential risks, the authors—a team of researchers from the UK and Mexico—suggest that exposure to them “might need to be examined as a possible hazard to human health.”

      Lead author Barbara Maher, physicist and co-director of the Centre for Environmental Magnetism and Paleomagnetism at Lancaster University in the UK, got the idea to examine the brain-embedded particles knowing that magnetite nanoparticles are abundant in air pollution.

    • Anti-depressants given to children soar by nearly 30 per cent in 10 years
      There has been a massive increase in prescribing of anti-depressants to children over the last decade – but more than 40 per cent are drugs that have been shown not to work and which can have toxic side-effects, according to new research.

      A study of almost 360,000 patients aged six to 18 in Wales found there had been a 28 per cent rise in anti-depressants given out by GPs, raising fears of the “medicalisation” of unhappiness and the ordinary emotional turmoil experienced by teenagers.

      However the researchers said it could also be because children were now getting the help they needed due to a fall in the stigma attached to mental health problems.

      Curiously while the number of prescriptions per child, per year went up, the number of diagnoses of depression fell, which the academics suggested was a sign that doctors were trying to avoid “labelling” young people as mentally ill.

    • Sri Lanka conquers malaria
      Sri Lanka has become malaria-free. On September 5, the World Health Organisation officially recognised this huge public health achievement. The WHO certifies a country so when the chain of local transmission is interrupted for at least three consecutive years; the last reported case was in October 2012. With no local transmission reported, Sri Lanka’s priority since October 2012 has been to prevent its return from outside, particularly from malaria-endemic countries such as India. There were 95, 49 and 36 cases reported in 2013, 2014 and 2015 respectively, all contracted outside Sri Lanka. In a commendable initiative, Sri Lanka adopted a two-pronged strategy of targeting both vector and parasite, undertaking active detection of cases and residual parasite carriers by screening populations irrespective of whether malaria symptoms were present. Early detection and treatment of asymptomatic parasite carriers, who serve as reservoirs of infection, played a crucial role in interrupting the chain. While this was achieved by means of house visits and by starting mobile clinics in high-transmission areas, real-time monitoring through effective surveillance systems, community awareness and mobilisation also played their role. The public sector and the private sector were oriented to the common goal of eliminating malaria by enhancing case notification and achieving 100 per cent detection and confirmation through tests. Sri Lanka expanded the coverage of long-lasting insecticide-treated bed nets to protect high-risk populations, and used multiple methods to reduce mosquito numbers.

  • Security

    • Friday's security updates

    • Ten-year-old Windows Media Player hack is the new black, again
      Net scum are still finding ways to take down users with a decade-old Windows Media Player attack.

      The vector is a reborn social engineering hatchet job not seen in years in which attackers convince users to run executable content through Windows Media Player's Digital Rights Management (DRM) functionality.

      Windows Media Player will throw a DRM warning whenever users do not have the rights to play content, opening a URL through which a licence can be acquired.

      Now malware villains are packing popular movies with malicious links so that the DRM warning leads to sites where they're fooled into downloading trojans masquerading as necessary video codecs.

    • Luabot Malware Turning Linux Based IoT Devices into DDoS Botnet
      The IT security researchers at MalwareMustDie have discovered a malware that is capable of infecting Linux-based Internet of Things (IoT) devices and web servers to launch DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service) attacks.

    • Home-router IoT Devices Compromised for Building DDoS Botnet
      IoT (Internet-of-Thing) devices have been used to make a botnet earlier also just like attackers recently compromised 8 different popular home-routers that are IoT brands to make a botnet out of them which executed a DDoS attack at the application-level against several servers of certain website. Discoverer of this application-level DDoS alternatively HTTPS flood assault of Layer 7 is Sucuri the security company.
    • New Linux Trojan Discovered Coded in Mozilla's Rust Language [Ed: don’t install it. Easy.]
      A new trojan coded in Rust is targeting Linux-based platforms and adding them to a botnet controlled through an IRC channel, according to a recent discovery by Dr.Web, a Russian antivirus maker.

      Initial analysis of this trojan, detected as Linux.BackDoor.Irc.16, reveals this may be only a proof-of-concept or a testing version in advance to a fully weaponized version.

      Currently, the trojan only infects victims, gathers information about the local system and sends it to its C&C server.

    • The Limits of SMS for 2-Factor Authentication
      A recent ping from a reader reminded me that I’ve been meaning to blog about the security limitations of using cell phone text messages for two-factor authentication online. The reader’s daughter had received a text message claiming to be from Google, warning that her Gmail account had been locked because someone in India had tried to access her account. The young woman was advised to expect a 6-digit verification code to be sent to her and to reply to the scammer’s message with that code.

    • Telnet is not dead – at least not on ‘smart’ devices
      Depending on your age, you either might or might not have used Telnet to connect to remote computers in the past. But regardless of your age, you would probably not consider Telnet for anything you currently use. SSH has become the de facto standard when it comes to remote shell connection as it offers higher security, data encryption and much more besides.

      When we created our first honeypots for the Turris project (see our older blog articles – 1, 2, 3), we started with SSH and Telnet, because both offer interactive console access and thus are very interesting for potential attackers. But SSH was our main goal, while Telnet was more of a complimentary feature. It came as a great surprise to discover that the traffic we drew to the Telnet honeypots is three orders of magnitude higher than in the case of SSH (note the logarithmic scale of the plot below). Though there is a small apples-to-oranges issue, as we compare the number of login attempts for Telnet with the number of issued commands for SSH, the huge difference is obvious and is also visible in other aspects, such as in the number of unique attacker IP addresses.

    • Israeli Online Attack Service ‘vDOS’ Earned $600,000 in Two Years
      vDOS — a “booter” service that has earned in excess of $600,000 over the past two years helping customers coordinate more than 150,000 so-called distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks designed to knock Web sites offline — has been massively hacked, spilling secrets about tens of thousands of paying customers and their targets.

      The vDOS database, obtained by at the end of July 2016, points to two young men in Israel as the principal owners and masterminds of the attack service, with support services coming from several young hackers in the United States.

    • Cisco’s Network Bugs Are Front and Center in Bankruptcy Fight
      Game of War: Fire Age, your typical melange of swords and sorcery, has been one of the top-grossing mobile apps for three years, accounting for hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue. So publisher Machine Zone was furious when the game’s servers, run by hosting company Peak Web, went dark for 10 hours last October. Two days later, Machine Zone fired Peak Web, citing multiple outages, and later sued.

      Then came the countersuit. Peak Web argued in court filings that Machine Zone was voiding its contract illegally, because the software bug that caused the game outages resided in faulty network switches made by Cisco Systems, and according to Peak Web’s contract with Machine Zone, it wasn’t liable. In December, Cisco publicly acknowledged the bug’s existence—too late to help Peak Web, which filed for bankruptcy protection in June, citing the loss of Machine Zone’s business as the reason. The Machine Zone-Peak Web trial is slated for March 2017.

      “Machine Zone wasn’t acting in good faith,” says Steve Morrissey, a partner at law firm Susman Godfrey, which is representing Peak Web. “They were trying to get out of the contract.” Machine Zone has disputed that assertion in court documents, but it declined to comment for this story. Cisco also declined to comment on the case, saying only that it tries to publish confirmed problems quickly.

      There’s buggy code in virtually every electronic system. But few companies ever talk about the cost of dealing with bugs, for fear of being associated with error-prone products. The trial, along with Peak Web’s bankruptcy filings, promises a rare look at just how much or how little control a company may have over its own operations, depending on the software that undergirds it. Think of the corporate computers around the world rendered useless by a faulty update from McAfee in 2010, or of investment company Knight Capital, which lost $458 million in 30 minutes in 2012—and had to be sold months later—after new software made erratic, automated stock market trades.

    • The H Factor – Why you should be building “human firewalls”
      It is often the illusive “H Factor” – the human element – that ends up being the weakest link that makes cyber-attacks and data breaches possible.

    • White House appoints first Federal Chief Information Security Officer
      The White House announced Thursday that retired Brigadier General Gregory J. Touhill will serve as the first federal Chief Information Security Officer (CISO).

      "The CISO will play a central role in helping to ensure the right set of policies, strategies, and practices are adopted across agencies and keeping the Federal Government at the leading edge of 21st century cybersecurity," read a blog post penned by Tony Scott, US Chief Information Officer, and J. Michael Daniel, special assistant to the president and cybersecurity coordinator.

    • Xen Project patches serious virtual machine escape flaws
      The Xen Project has fixed four vulnerabilities in its widely used virtualization software, two of which could allow malicious virtual machine administrators to take over host servers.

      Flaws that break the isolation layer between virtual machines are the most serious kind for a hypervisor like Xen, which allows users to run multiple VMs on the same underlying hardware in a secure manner.

    • This USB stick will fry your unsecured computer
      A Hong Kong-based technology manufacturer,, has taken data security to the "Mission Impossible" extreme by creating a USB stick that uses an electrical discharge to fry an unauthorized computer into which it's plugged.

      "When the USB Kill stick is plugged in, it rapidly charges its capacitors from the USB power supply, and then discharges -- all in the matter of seconds," the company said in a news release.

    • Wordpress urges users to update now to fix critical security holes
      Wordpress is urging webmasters to update their CMS packages as quickly as possible to protect their domains from critical vulnerability exploits.

      On Thursday, the content management system (CMS) provider released a security advisory alongside the latest version of Wordpress, 4.6.1. Now available, the update patches two serious security problems, a cross-site scripting vulnerability and a path traversal security flaw.

      The XSS flaw, discovered by SumOfPwn researcher Cengiz Han back in July at the Summer of Pwnage bug bounty project, allows attackers to use a crafted image file, upload to Wordpress, and inject malicious JavaScript code into the software.

      An attacker can exploit this vulnerability to perform a range of actions, including stealing session tokens and login credentials, as well as remotely execute malicious code.

      The second critical issue, reported by Dominik Schilling from the WordPress security team, is a path traversal vulnerability discovered within the upgrade package uploader.

  • Defence/Aggression

    • US Veterans Support Lawsuit over 'Targeted Killing' by Drone
      Three U.S. veterans are supporting Faisal bin Ali Jaber, whose brother-in-law and nephew were killed in 2012 in a drone strike.

      Three former drone operators backed a lawsuit against the U.S. drone program on Thursday to push for more accountability in deadly drone strikes.

    • Veterans back fight by relative of drone victims: People should know 'how a screw-up can lead to the death of their family members'
      Three military veterans once involved in the U.S. drone program have thrown their support behind a Yemeni man’s legal fight to obtain details about why his family members were killed in a 2012 strike.

      The veterans’ unusual decision to publicly endorse the lawsuit against President Obama and other U.S. officials adds another twist to Faisal bin Ali Jaber’s four-year quest for accountability in the deaths of his brother-in-law and nephew, who he believes needlessly fell victim to one of the most lethal covert programs in U.S. history.

      The former enlisted service members told the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit in a recent filing that they believe the 2012 drone strike serves as a case study of how mistakes frequently occur in the nation’s targeted-killing program, where life-or-death decisions are based upon top-secret evidence.

      The veterans say they “witnessed a secret, global system without regard for borders, conducting widespread surveillance with the ability to conduct deadly targeted killing operations.”

    • Hillary Clinton’s National Security Advisers Are a “Who’s Who” of the Warfare State
      Hillary Clinton is meeting on Friday with a new national security “working group” that is filled with an elite “who’s who” of the military-industrial complex and the security deep state.

      The list of key advisers — which includes the general who executed the troop surge in Iraq and a former Bush homeland security chief turned terror profiteer — is a strong indicator that Clinton’s national security policy will not threaten the post-9/11 national-security status quo that includes active use of military power abroad and heightened security measures at home.

      It’s a story we’ve seen before in President Obama’s early appointments. In retrospect, analysts have pointed to the continuity in national security and intelligence advisers as an early sign that despite his campaign rhetoric Obama would end up building on — rather than tearing down — the often-extralegal, Bush-Cheney counterterror regime. For instance, while Obama promised in 2008 to reform the NSA, its director was kept on and its reach continued to grow.

      Obama’s most fateful decision may have been choosing former National Counterterrorism Center Director John Brennan to be national security adviser, despite Brennan’s support of Bush’s torture program. Brennan would go on to run the president’s drone program, lead the CIA, fight the Senate’s torture investigation, and then lie about searching Senate computers.

    • Wolf Blitzer Is Worried Defense Contractors Will Lose Jobs if U.S. Stops Arming Saudi Arabia
      Sen. Rand Paul’s expression of opposition to a $1.1 billion U.S. arms sale to Saudi Arabia — which has been brutally bombing civilian targets in Yemen using U.S.-made weapons for more than a year now — alarmed CNN’s Wolf Blitzer on Thursday afternoon.

      Blitzer’s concern: That stopping the sale could result in fewer jobs for arms manufacturers.

      “So for you this is a moral issue,” he told Paul during the Kentucky Republican’s appearance on CNN. “Because you know, there’s a lot of jobs at stake. Certainly if a lot of these defense contractors stop selling war planes, other sophisticated equipment to Saudi Arabia, there’s going to be a significant loss of jobs, of revenue here in the United States. That’s secondary from your standpoint?”

      Paul stayed on message. “Well not only is it a moral question, its a constitutional question,” Paul said. “Our founding fathers very directly and specifically did not give the president the power to go to war. They gave it to Congress. So Congress needs to step up and this is what I’m doing.”

    • Syrian conflict: US and Russia agree peace moves
      Russia and the US have announced an agreement on Syria starting with a "cessation of hostilities" from sunset on Monday.

      Under the plan, the Syrian government will end combat missions in specified areas held by the opposition.

      Russia and the US will establish a joint centre to combat so-called Islamic State and al-Nusra fighters.

      The announcement follows talks between US Secretary of State John Kerry and his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov.

    • US, Russia condemn latest North Korea nuclear test
      The U.S. and Russia led global condemnation of North Korea Friday, after the reclusive state said it had completed a fifth nuclear test.

      Speaking in Geneva ahead of talks on Syria, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov indicated the nuclear test carried out in the early hours of Friday would be referred to the Security Council.

      Kerry said that the topic will be discussed within “the context of the United Nations,” according to Reuters.

      Previous U.N. Security Council resolutions had banned North Korea from trialling new ballistic missiles, or carrying out nuclear testing. Lavrov said Friday that U.N. resolutions “must be followed.”

    • Putin Politely Expresses His Amazement At Western Stupidity
      In an interview with John Micklethwait of BloombergBusinessweek, Putin was asked about Russia’s desire to expand its influence geographically. Putin answered as follows:

      “I think all sober-minded people who really are involved in politics understand that the idea of a Russian threat to, for example, the Baltics is complete madness. Are we really about to fight NATO? How many people live in NATO? About 600 million, correct? There are 146 million in Russia. Yes, we’re the biggest nuclear power. But do you really think that we’re about to conquer the Baltics using nuclear weapons? What is this madness? That’s the first point, but by no means the main point.

    • Obama Flinches at Renouncing Nuke First Strike
      The U.S. threat to launch a first-strike nuclear attack has little real strategic value – though it poses a real risk to human survival – but President Obama fears political criticism if he changes the policy, as Jonathan Marshall explains.

    • Saudi Arabia cannot pay its workers or bills – yet continues to fund a war in Yemen

      In Saudi Arabia itself, the government seems unable to cope with the crisis. The 'Arab News' says that 31,000 Saudi and other foreign workers have lodged complaints with the government’s labour ministry over unpaid wages. On one occasion, the Indian consulate and expatriates brought food to the workers so that their people should not starve

    • Do tragedies like 9/11 have an expiration date?
      Fifteen years ago, the world watched as the deadliest terror attack in the history of the United States played out before their eyes.

      The images are unforgettable, and the stories of those who died and those who rushed to the scene dominated media coverage for months after the attacks.

      But the way people mark the anniversary has in many ways changed from a collective experience that the masses were a part of, to a more personal experience, according to Brian A. Monahan, an associate professor of sociology and criminal justice at Marywood University in Scranton, Penn.

      Monahan notes that fifteen-years-later there are two groups of people who experienced the attacks in very different ways --- those who were around and watched the events unfold, and the second group of people who weren’t alive or were too young to remember.

    • Air Force, Running Low on Drone Pilots, Turns to Contractors in Terror Fight
      The American military’s extensive use of drones against the Islamic State and other terrorist groups has resulted in a shortage of Air Force pilots and other personnel to operate the aircraft, leading the Pentagon to rely more on private contractors for reconnaissance missions in Afghanistan and Iraq.

      Since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, the Pentagon has used contractors to perform many duties traditionally carried out by uniformed personnel, like protecting military bases and feeding service members. The contractors who are now serving as drone pilots are based in the regions where the drones are flown, and they are legally prohibited from being “trigger pullers” and firing weapons, Air Force officials said. But there is no limit on the type of reconnaissance they can perform, and they are providing live video feeds of battles and special operations.

    • Mark Weisbrot on Brazilian Overthrow, Shahid Buttar on Copwatcher Retaliation
      This week on CounterSpin: A federal prosecutor in Brazil determined that the bookkeeping maneuver with which twice-elected president Dilma Rousseff had been charged by her right-wing opposition did not constitute a crime. Rousseff’s congressional opponents include a number of people themselves facing charges, including bribery, electoral fraud, kidnapping and homicide. Then Rousseff was ousted. Many Brazilians are calling it a coup, but the official US position is, what now? We’ll hear about what’s happening in Brazil from Mark Weisbrot of the Center for Economic and Policy Research.

    • ‘What Is Aleppo?’ A Fateful Question for Libertarian Presidential Nominee Gary Johnson
    • What Is Aleppo? This.
      Libertarian Gary Johnson's blank gaze at the name "Aleppo" is shocking - about as shocking as yesterday's chlorine gas attack constituting yet another war crime there, or the New York Times' three corrections to get right just what Aleppo is and isn't, or the way Twitter exploded about one guy's unreal ignorance while generally ignoring almost an entire population's annihilation, or the pitiable fact that another presidential candidate actually knows less than Trump, or the even more miserable fact that Johnson's bewilderment pretty much sums up U.S. policy, press knowledge and levels of public awareness on Syria, which is, as Johnson so astutely noted, "a mess." No, this wasn't "a stumble" or "blunder" or "gaffe." It's the sorry state of our national political landscape. What's not shocking here: Nobody in Aleppo has heard of Johnson either - they're way too busy trying to stay alive.

    • What Aleppo Is and Is Not
      The fact that Johnson had apparently never heard of the strategically important city — and even failed to guess that it was the name of a city (he told Whoopi Goldberg later that he thought it might have been an acronym) — stunned Mike Barnicle, the columnist who asked him what he would do about the situation there if he was elected president.

      When Johnson asked what Aleppo (or A.L.E.P.P.O. — or, a leppo) might be, Barnicle replied, with open contempt, “You’re kidding.”

      But Johnson, it turns out, was not alone.

      As remarkable as that moment was, it was quickly followed by reports on Johnson’s cluelessness that included basic errors about who was fighting in the city and why the tragedy there matters to the rest of the world.

      Taken together, those error-strewn reports suggest that American journalists and pundits have become so completely focused on the horse-race aspect of electoral politics that they are paying almost no attention to the biggest foreign policy crisis that will face the next president.

      The tone was set by Christopher Hill, a former United States ambassador to Iraq who is now the dean of international studies at the University of Denver.

    • ‘What Is Aleppo?’ Asks Gary Johnson–and NYT Gives Three Wrong Answers
      Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson, when asked in an MSNBC interview (Morning Joe, 9/8/16) what he would do about the battle raging over the Syrian city of Aleppo, responded, “What is Aleppo?”

      That’s troubling, that a presidential candidate would be unaware of one of the main battlefields in one of the world’s deadliest conflicts. But even more troubling is that the New York Times, the US paper of record, can’t seem to figure out what Aleppo is, either.

      As FAIR contributor Ben Norton noted in a piece for Salon (9/8/16), the Times‘ Alan Rappeport (9/8/16) wrote a piece about Johnson’s gaffe that described Aleppo as “the de facto capital of the Islamic State,” or ISIS. That’s wrong; the de facto capital of ISIS is Raqqa, a city halfway across Syria from Aleppo.

      This was then changed in an edit to describe Aleppo as “a stronghold of the Islamic State.” That’s also wrong; the main rebel faction in Aleppo is Jabhat al-Nusra, better known as the Al Qaeda affiliate in Syria—a bitter rival of ISIS. ISIS itself has little presence in the city.

    • Hillary Clinton’s Three Devices
      I really don’t want to get bogged down in the Hillary email story. But given the ongoing discussions about whether claims she used the personal server to avoid oversight have merit, I did two more things. First, I did this timeline. Without going into too much detail, there are decisions made after requests for emails that suggest avoiding oversight was driving some of this. That’s especially true given the conflicting stories from Paul Combetta pertaining to his actions in late 2014 and March 2015; he ended up deleting Hillary’s emails after being informed of the House Oversight request for them. He may have only revealed that with an immunity deal.

      The other detail I want to focus on is the number of devices Hillary had. Hillary defenders often point to her claim that she used the Blackberry for convenience to claim she surely wasn’t avoiding oversight. But I think the FBI report shows that she had three devices, not just one.

      Most of the attention on the number of her devices focuses on the fact that she had 13 serial BBs, none of which were handed over to the FBI (instead of her actual BBs,, Williams & Connolly turned over two other BBs, though without SIM or SD cards).

      It is true that her 13 BBs were used serially, not at once, which makes Hillary Clinton just like Tom Brady in her serial use of phones: she’s just a famous person who likes to swap out her phones all the time. The difference being that Tom Brady was told he didn’t need to keep his phone, whereas Hillary was under record-keeping obligations even before any investigation started. And Brady at least had had his comms reviewed by lawyers before he deleted his phone.

      But it’s not the 13 BB detail that poses problems to Hillary’s single device claim. It’s this passage.

    • NBC’s Military Forum Was a Master Class on How Not to Hold Candidates Accountable
      The “Commander-in-Chief Forum” with Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton that NBC’s Matt Lauer moderated Wednesday night was billed as a way to interrogate the presidential candidates on substantive veterans’ and national security issues.

      But from the questions chosen to the format, the event served as little more than a class on how not to hold the candidates accountable.

      In the 25 minutes devoted to Clinton, nearly half was spent by Lauer grilling her about her use of a private e-mail server while secretary of state (one veteran also asked about the issue). That left little room for questions on policies she presided over while in office.

    • Documents Show U.S. Military Expands Reach of Special Operations Programs
      The United States is spending more money on more missions to send more elite U.S. forces to train alongside more foreign counterparts in more countries around the world, according to documents obtained by The Intercept via the Freedom of Information Act.

      Under the Joint Combined Exchange Training program, which is designed to train America’s special operators in a variety of missions — from “foreign internal defense” to “unconventional warfare” — U.S. troops carried out approximately one mission every two days in 2014, the latest year covered by the recently released documents.

      At a price tag of more than $56 million, the U.S. sent its most elite operators — Navy SEALs, Army Green Berets, and others — on 176 individual JCETs, a 13 percent increase from 2013. The number of countries involved jumped even further, from 63 to 87, a 38 percent spike.

    • What’s Behind Barack Obama’s Ongoing Accommodation of Vladimir Putin?
      When a major party cynically espouses a set of beliefs as a tactic for winning an election, those beliefs get entrenched in popular discourse and often endure well past the election, with very significant consequences. The most significant such rhetorical template in the 2016 election — other than the new Democratic claim that big-money donations do not corrupt the political process — is that Russia is a Grave Enemy of the U.S.; anyone who advocates better relations or less tension with Moscow is a likely sympathizer, stooge, or even agent of Putin; and any associations with the Kremlin render one’s loyalties suspect.

      Literally every week ushers in a new round of witch hunts in search of domestic Kremlin agents and new evidence of excessive Putin sympathies. The latest outburst was last night’s discovery that Donald Trump allowed himself to be interviewed by well-known Kremlin propagandist and America-hater Larry King on his RT show. “Criticizing US on Russian TV is something no American, much less an aspiring prez, should do,” pronounced Fred Kaplan. Other guests appearing on that network include Soviet spy Bernard Sanders (who spoke this year to Putin crony and RT host Ed Schultz), Bill Maher (whose infiltrates American culture through his cover as a comedian hosting an HBO program), and Stephen Hawking (whom the FSB has groomed to masquerade as a “physicist” while he carries out un-American activities on behalf of Putin).

    • The ‘Ethiopian Spring’: “Killing is not an answer to our grievances”
      The Ethiopian leadership remains in denial. The long meetings of its ruling bodies have culminated in a report on 15 years of national “rebirth”, in which it awards itself good marks, while acknowledging the existence of a few problems here and there.

    • UN Team Heard Claims of ‘Staged’ Chemical Attacks
      United Nations investigators encountered evidence that alleged chemical weapons attacks by the Syrian military were staged by jihadist rebels and their supporters, but still decided to blame the government for two incidents in which chlorine was allegedly dispersed via improvised explosives dropped by helicopters.

      In both cases, the Syrian government denied that it had any aircraft in the areas at the times of the purported attacks, but the U.N. team rejected that explanation with the curious argument that Syria failed to provide flight records to corroborate the absence of any flights. Yet, if there had been no flights, there would be no flight records.

    • Greenwashing Wars and the US Military
      The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has come in for criticism due to its lack of attention to the detrimental effects of wars and military operations on nature. Considering the degree of harm to the environment coming from these human activities, one would think that the organization might have set aside some time at its World Conservation Congress this past week in Hawaii to specifically address these concerns.

      Yet, of the more than 1,300 workshops crammed into the six-day marathon environmental meeting in Honolulu, followed by four days of discussion about internal resolutions, nothing specifically addressed the destruction of the environment by military operations and wars.

    • America's new war: drone to death-ray
      The United States sent a senior official to the Arms Trade Treaty conference meeting in Geneva on 22-26 August to make the case for controls on exports of armed drones. The diplomat concerned, Brian Nilsson of the Bureau for Political Military Affairs, presented a draft document to establish principles for such exports, “with the express purpose of holding meetings with foreign delegations attending the conference and encouraging them to sign onto the declaration.”

      In its way this appears to be a milestone in arms proliferation and international diplomacy, where Washington at last recognises a reality that has long been tracked in this series of columns and elsewhere: the proliferation of armed drones across the world, a process which the US itself – as a leading global producer and exporter – is deeply implicated. The Pentagon thinks it is reasonable to develop a technology that gives it an edge in the new era of 'remote warfare'. But once many other people learn to do it, the edge disappears. It is time, then, to argue for arms control.

    • Will Either Clinton or Trump End the Forever War?
      Perhaps the most enduring question of Barack Obama's presidency is a deceptively simple one: is the United States at war?

      "America is at a crossroads," Obama said in a speech at the National Defense University in 2013. "We must define the nature and scope of this struggle, or else it will define us." He then quoted James Madison, the fourth US president, who wrote, "No nation could preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare."

      The speech was the closest Obama has come while in office to winding down -- rhetorically, at least -- what George W. Bush famously called the "Global War on Terror." Yet, if Obama's goal was to end, or even simply define, the war by the end of his eight years as president, he has failed. The country remains on a "perpetual wartime footing," a phrase he used in the 2013 speech. That is due in part to the rise of ISIS (also known as Daesh), but the Obama administration's militarism extends far beyond Iraq and Syria. And even the rise of ISIS's precursor, al-Qaeda in Iraq, came as a direct response to the US occupation of Iraq.
    • Are We Just Going to Pretend Another President Didn't Give Iran Their Money?
      Hold on a second. Common sense got caught in my throat there for a minute. The crime dog on this case is…this guy? I mean, really, this guy? At least Trey Gowdy was a prosecutor once. This guy is a former reality show star who first got famous as a politician by whining about his congressional salary. This is that deep bench again.

      But, since we are handed this lemon, let's make some lemonade, shall we? Let's go back to the golden days of early 1981, when the great sunshine of Amon-Ra Reagan had fallen upon the land, and some hostages came home—after which $12 billion in Iranian assets that Jimmy Carter had frozen suddenly were thawed. Six years later, he let them have $454 million more of their assets. There was a great unfreezing under the Reagan Administration.
    • Robert Scheer: U.S. Pledge of $90 Million to Laos Glosses U.S. History Terrorizing Civilians
      As President Obama toured an exhibition of prosthetics made for Laotians who lost limbs when bombs exploded years or even decades after the United States dropped them on Laos during the 1960s and 1970s, the U.S. announced it would provide $90 million over the next three years to help Laos clear the remaining explosives.

      The unexploded bombs are 30 percent of the total that the United States dropped on the country—a total Obama described as “more bombs on Laos than [on] Germany and Japan during World War II.” So far, such ordnance has killed or injured more than 20,000 people.
    • A 9/11 Retrospective: Washington's 15-Year Air War
      On the morning of September 11, 2001, al-Qaeda launched its four-plane air force against the United States. On board were its precision weapons: 19 suicidal hijackers. One of those planes, thanks to the resistance of its passengers, crashed in a Pennsylvania field. The other three hit their targets -- the two towers of the World Trade Center in New York City and the Pentagon in Washington, D.C. -- with the kind of “precision” we now associate with the laser-guided weaponry of the U.S. Air Force.

      From its opening salvo, in other words, this conflict has been an air war. With its 75% success rate, al-Qaeda's 9/11 mission was a historic triumph, accurately striking three out of what assumedly were its four chosen targets. (Though no one knows just where that plane in Pennsylvania was heading, undoubtedly it was either the Capitol or the White House to complete the taking out of the icons of American financial, military, and political power.) In the process, almost 3,000 people who had no idea they were in the bombsights of an obscure movement on the other side of the planet were slaughtered.

      It was a barbaric, if daring, plan and an atrocity of the first order. Almost 15 years later, such suicidal acts with similar “precision” weaponry (though without the air power component) continue to be unleashed across the Greater Middle East, Africa, and sometimes elsewhere, taking a terrible toll -- from a soccer game in Iraq to a Kurdish wedding party in southeastern Turkey (where the “weapon” may have been a boy).
    • Jill Stein calls for new 9/11 investigation
      “The Bush Administration initially said an inquiry was unnecessary, claiming that the perpetrators had been identified and their methods and motives were clear.”

      Stein described the 9/11 Commission report as containing many “omissions and distortions.”

      “The 9/11 Commission was not given enough money, time, or access to relevant classified information,” Stein said. “The Stein/Baraka campaign believes a new inquiry is necessary.”
    • Clinton: No US ground troops in Iraq, Syria; Trump: Steal Iraqi Oil
      The NBC Candidates Forum continued the shameful corporate coverage of the Great American Meltdown that is our election season. That season has given us a Faux Cable News that runs clips of only one side and pays out hush money to cover up how its blonde anchors were not so much hired as trafficked; a CNN that has hired a paid employee of the candidate as a consultant and analyst; and networks that won’t mention climate change or carbon emissions the same way they won’t mention labor unions. They aren’t even trying to do journalism any more– cable “news” is mostly infotainment as a placeholder between ads for toilet paper. I can’t bear to watch it most of the time and just read the news on the Web. If I have to watch t.v. I turn on local news (often does a better job on national stories too) or Alarabiya and Aljazeera, which for all their faults do actually have real news (and their faults cancel out one another). I can always get the transcript for the cable news shows; reading it is faster and less painful than having to watch.

      The NBC Forum didn’t really challenge either candidate on implausible statements, but on the whole engaged in a lot of badgering of Hillary Clinton while letting Donald Trump get away with outright misstatements of the facts and tossing him a lot of softballs.
    • What the U.S. Military Doesn't Know (and Neither Do You)
      Sometimes the real news is in the details -- or even in the discrepancies. Take, for instance, missions by America’s most elite troops in Africa.

      It was September 2014. The sky was bright and clear and ice blue as the camouflage-clad men walked to the open door and tumbled out into nothing. One moment members of the U.S. 19th Special Forces Group and Moroccan paratroopers were flying high above North Africa in a rumbling C-130 aircraft; the next, they were silhouetted against the cloudless sky, translucent green parachutes filling with air, as they began to drift back to earth.

      Those soldiers were taking part in a Joint Combined Exchange Training, or JCET mission, conducted under the auspices of Special Operations Command Forward-West Africa out of Camp Ram Ram, Morocco. It was the first time in several years that American and Moroccan troops had engaged in airborne training together, but just one of many JCET missions in 2014 that allowed America’s best-equipped, best-trained forces to hone their skills while forging ties with African allies.

    • Mexico Threatens to Cancel Treaty That Ceded Texas and California to U.S. If Trump Gets Elected
      While Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump might have taken a victory lap after his meeting with Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto, those south of the U.S. border are not.

      Finance Minister Luis Videgaray resigned Wednesday, after backlash from the invitation to Trump to meet with Peña Nieto. Now, Mexican Senator Armando Rios Piter is proposing legislation that could put Mexico in conflict with the United States.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • Let’s Get Back To The Data’: Relentless Attacks On Assange Distract From Content Of WikiLeaks Releases
      Attacks on WikiLeaks’ founder Julian Assange, including accusations of collusion with foreign governments, are growing more commonplace in the media as Election Day approaches.

      As the political establishment pushes back against WikiLeaks’ revelations of U.S. war crimes and corruption, political pundits have even threatened Assange’s life. Meanwhile, despite a total lack of evidence, the Clinton campaign continues to try to tie Assange to Russia, reviving a Cold War “red scare” narrative that the mainstream media seems all too eager to assist.

      Mickey Huff, media literacy expert and director of Project Censored, told MintPress News that the media’s focus on Assange distracts from more important stories, including the actual content of the leaks released by WikiLeaks. A professor of social sciences at Diablo Valley College near San Francisco, Huff co-authors an annual report on censorship and propaganda in the media.

      “I think we’re losing sight of the information these people are leaking,” he said. “It’s an ultimate distraction, a bait and switch.”

      Criticism of Assange hasn’t been limited to attacks on his character, though. Political pundits, as well as some government officials and political candidates, have made serious threats against him. And treatment of Assange seems unlikely to improve under the next administration.

      “He’s almost like a different version of an Osama bin Laden, a bogeyman du jour,” Huff said. “He’s someone that can be a whipping boy at almost any time if it’s necessary.”

    • Sweden puts pressure on Ecuador over questioning Julian Assange
      Swedish authorities have blamed the Ecuadorian embassy in London over delays in questioning its famous resident, Julian Assange, about sexual assault allegations. "So far we heard nothing more from them," Swedish prosecutor Marianne Ny told reporters on Wednesday, after Ecuador said last month it would allow Assange to be interrogated inside the embassy.

      "We are waiting to be told how and when this interview will take place, and if we will be able to be present while it's been held," said Ny, who added that Swedish investigators are ready to travel when needed.

    • 'I saw no reason to give Assange special treatment'
      Few new details emerged at a press conference held by Ny and her colleague Ingrid Isberg in Stockholm on Wednesday to update Swedish and international media on the ongoing investigation.

      Ny said she had been told that the Svea Court of Appeals would announce on Friday whether to uphold or throw out Stockholm District Court's decision to keep Assange remanded in custody 'in absentia' over a 2010 rape allegation, an accusation which the 45-year-old Australian denies.

      A major point of contention is that Assange has yet to be questioned in the case. After exhausting legal options in Britain, he fled to Ecuador's London embassy in 2012. Ny said she had been trying to interrogate him since 2010 and defended a decision not to seek permission to meet him in London at an earlier stage.

    • DOJ Proudly Trumpets Its Completely BS 91% FOIA Response Rate
      Let's face it: the DOJ isn't going to change until forced to -- "presumption of disclosure" or not. This administration has done almost nothing to push for greater transparency and neither of the incoming presidential candidates -- Hillary "Homebrew" Clinton or Donald "I Can Make My Own Laws, Right?" Trump -- are likely to have a positive effect on government accountability going forward.

      Certainly, there are still legislators who are pushing for better transparency, but they're stymied by powerful agencies like the DOJ -- and, often, the administration itself. The DOJ presides over agencies which have done everything but order a hit on prolific FOIA requesters like Jason Leopold. And, while the move towards a "release to one, release to all" policy on FOIA responses is better for the public in general, it's also likely intended to discourage journalists from chasing down obscure government secrets by removing the possibility of "scooping" competitors.

      The worst part is the DOJ likely doesn't care whether the general public believes its inflated response numbers. Like far too many federal agencies, it has long since shrugged off any pretense of acting in the public's interest. Its "91%" whitewash of its FOIA responsiveness covers up a 50-60% response rate -- one that's likely good enough for government work. Especially the sort of work few in the government show any interest in performing.

    • Bob Graham: Release More 9/11 Records
      The government also knows more today about the 16 hijackers who lived outside California than when the 28 pages were classified in 2003. Much of that information remains secret but should be made public. For example, the F.B.I. for a time claimed that it had found no ties between three of the hijackers, including their leader, Mohamed Atta, and a prominent Saudi family that lived in Sarasota, Fla., before Sept. 11. The family returned to the kingdom about two weeks before the attack. But in 2013, a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit brought by investigative reporters led to the release of about 30 pages from an F.B.I.-led investigation that included an agent’s report asserting “many connections” between the hijackers and this family. The F.B.I. said the agent’s claim was unfounded, and the family said it had no ties to the hijackers. Still, a federal judge in 2014 ordered the bureau to turn over an additional 80,000 pages from its investigation, and he is reviewing those for possible public release.

    • Libeling Leakers: Julian Assange, Wikileaks and the Russian “Connection” [Ed: says Schindler. This guy.]

      Schindler’s analytical imagination then falters in attempting to link the dots. In releasing material that has a provenance to Russian hackers, “WikiLeaks is doing Moscow’s bidding and has placed itself in bed with Vladimir Putin.”

      The language is a neat libel assuming that an organisation that releases material provided to it by an individual, or entity, is then doing that body’s bidding, all body and consciousness, as a subservient political instrument. WikiLeaks has, in fact, shown itself to be very much independent, much to the irritation of governments and in certain instances its supporters. The devil’s work is often trying.

      At the New York Times, the strategy and outlook adopted by Schindler is replicated. The first is demonising Russia as a disinformation giant, weaponising information to weaken opponents. Neil MacFarquhar is certainly one captivated with the notion that Russia has that “powerful weapon” which he calls “the spread of false stories.” (How frightfully original.)

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • Study Finds Greenhouse Gases Doubled the Chances of Louisiana's Flooding Rains
      Human-caused climate change likely doubled the chances of the torrential rains that caused deadly flooding in Louisiana and damaged 60,000 homes in the state, a new study has found.

      Less than a month after the deluge that killed 13 people, a team of scientists have just published an analysis of rainfall records going back to the 1930s alongside computer model simulations.

      Lead author of the study Dr. Karin van der Wiel, a research associate at both Princeton University and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, said the extra greenhouse gases in the atmosphere had now “changed the odds” for Louisiana being hit by torrential downpours.

      Compared to the year 1900, the model analysis had clearly shown that the extra greenhouse gases in the atmosphere had increased the chances of a torrential downpour in that Gulf Coast region.

      Van der Wiel told DeSmog, “The odds for a comparable event have now changed by at least 40 per cent, and our best estimate is a doubling. That is because of the increases in greenhouse gases.”

    • Fossil Fuel Industry Paid for Meetings with GOP Attorneys General to Plan Attack on Clean Power Plan
      Fossil fuel giants Murray Energy and Southern Company paid for meetings with Republican attorneys general to discuss their opposition to the Clean Power Plan less than two weeks before the same GOP officials petitioned federal courts to block the Obama administration's signature climate proposal, according to private emails (see below) from state attorneys general obtained by the Center for Media and Democracy. The meetings took place at an August 2015 summit hosted by the Republican Attorneys General Association (RAGA) in West Virginia, where attendees were offered the opportunity to meet with GOP attorneys general in exchange for financial donations to help reelect the Republican state prosecutors.

      Confidential documents also reveal that some of the GOP attorneys general again discussed "the future of the fight to stop the Clean Power Plan" at a meeting of the Republican Attorneys General Association's 501(c)(4) organization, the Rule of Law Defense Fund, this past April.

      The previously unknown meetings and financial donations – revealed in copies of conference materials, most stamped "confidential," that were emailed to state attorneys general who attended the summit and obtained by CMD through public records requests – offer the first look at the behind-the-scenes coordination between GOP attorneys general and the fossil fuel industry to undermine the implementation of the Clean Power Plan.

    • What You Need to Know About the Dakota Access Pipeline Protest
      Over the past month, thousands of protesters, including Native Americans from more than 100 tribes across the country, have traveled to North Dakota to help the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe block the Dakota Access Pipeline from being built.

      Last week, the Standing Rock Nation filed an emergency petition to overturn the Army Corps of Engineers’ permit for the pipeline, which will be located a half-mile from the reservation through land taken from the tribe in 1958. The tribe says they were not consulted and a survey of the area found several sites of “significant cultural and historic value” in the pipeline path, including burial grounds.

      But on Saturday, Dakota Access crews began bulldozing anyway, leading to a violent confrontation between protesters and security guards. Democracy Now!’s Amy Goodman was at the construction site as security guards attacked protesters with pepper spray and dogs.

    • Amazon burns as Brazil signs Paris pledge
      Brazil’s new president, Michel Temer, will next week sign up to the Paris Agreement on climate change by committing Brazil to a reduction of 37% of its greenhouse gas emissions by 2025, and of 43% by 2030.

      But critics say that the commitment glosses over the government’s failure to address the legal and illegal forest clearance that is adding to global warming.

      Brazil’s emissions are the seventh highest in the world, and they come mostly from what is called land-use change − in other words, deforestation.

      The government has promised that all illegal deforestation will be ended by 2030 – which, as critics point out, allows for it to continue for another 14 years − and sidesteps the thorny question of legally-permitted deforestation.

    • Obama on Climate Change: The Trends Are ‘Terrifying’
      Seventy-four years ago, a naval battle off this remote spit of land in the middle of the Pacific Ocean changed the course of World War II. Last week, President Obama flew here to swim with Hawaiian monk seals and draw attention to a quieter war — one he has waged against rising seas, freakish storms, deadly droughts and other symptoms of a planet choking on its own fumes.

      Bombs may not be falling. The sound of gunfire does not concentrate the mind. What Mr. Obama has seen instead are the charts and graphs of a warming planet. “And they’re terrifying,” he said in a recent interview in Honolulu.

      “What makes climate change difficult is that it is not an instantaneous catastrophic event,” he said. “It’s a slow-moving issue that, on a day-to-day basis, people don’t experience and don’t see.”

    • ‘I Want to Win Someday’: Tribes Make Stand Against Pipeline
      Verna Bailey stared into the silvery ripples of a man-made lake, looking for the spot where she had been born. “Out there,” she said, pointing to the water. “I lived down there with my grandmother and grandfather. We had a community there. Now it’s all gone.”

      Fifty years ago, hers was one of hundreds of Native American families whose homes and land were inundated by rising waters after the Army Corps of Engineers built the Oahe Dam along the Missouri River, part of a huge midcentury public-works project approved by Congress to provide electricity and tame the river’s floods.

      To Ms. Bailey, 76, and thousands of other tribal members who lived along the river’s length, the project was a cultural catastrophe, residents and historians say. It displaced families, uprooted cemeteries and swamped lands where tribes grazed cattle, drove wagons and gathered wild grapes and medicinal tea.

    • North Dakota Tribe's Request to Stop Work on Pipeline Denied
      The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe's attempt to halt construction of the four-state Dakota Access oil pipeline near their North Dakota reservation, a cause that has drawn thousands to join a protest, was denied Friday by a federal judge.

      The tribe had challenged the Army Corps of Engineers' decision to grant permits at more than 200 water crossings for Dallas-based Energy Transfer Partners' $3.8 billion pipeline, saying that the project violates several federal laws, including the National Historic Preservation Act, and will harm water supplies. The tribe also says ancient sacred sites have been disturbed during construction.

      U.S. District Judge James Boasberg in Washington denied the tribe's request for a temporary injunction in a 58-page opinion. A status conference is scheduled for Sept. 16.

    • Obama administration orders ND pipeline construction to stop
      The Obama administration said it would not authorize construction on a critical stretch of the Dakota Access pipeline, handing a significant victory to the Indian tribe fighting the project the same day the group lost a court battle.

      The administration said construction would halt until it can do more environmental assessments.

    • The Obama administration just made a major announcement on the Dakota Access Pipeline
      The United States Department of Justice (DOJ) has announced it will be temporarily halting construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline effective immediately.

      The ruling came down shortly after a federal judge cited with the pipeline companies in denying a motion filed by indigenous tribes to stop pipeline construction. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers had granted permits to Energy Transfer Partners’ family of companies to build a $3.8 billion, 1100-mile pipeline crossing four states that would carry as many as 578,000 barrels of oil per day across indigenous land and the Missouri River, which supplies drinking water to approximately 17 million people.

    • Gov. Brown signs sweeping legislation to combat climate change
      California will become a petri dish for international efforts to slow global warming under legislation signed by Gov. Jerry Brown on Thursday, forcing one of the world’s largest economies to squeeze into a dramatically smaller carbon footprint.

      “What we’re doing here is farsighted, as well as far-reaching,” Brown said at a signing ceremony at Vista Hermosa Natural Park in downtown Los Angeles. “California is doing something that no other state has done.”

      The legislation, SB 32, requires the state to slash greenhouse gas emissions to 40% below 1990 levels by 2030, a much more ambitious target than the previous goal of hitting 1990 levels by 2020.

      Cutting emissions will affect nearly all aspects of life in the state — where people live, how they get to work, how their food is produced and where their electricity comes from.

    • A Whistle-Blower Accuses the Kochs of “Poisoning” an Arkansas Town
      In June, Koch Industries, the conglomerate owned by the billionaires Charles and David Koch, launched a new corporate public-relations campaign called “End the Divide,” to advance the notion that Koch Industries is deeply concerned by growing inequality in America. An ad for the campaign urges viewers to “look around,” as an image of an imposing white mansion is replaced by one of blighted urban streets. “America is divided,” an announcer intones, with “government and corporations picking winners and losers, rigging the system against people, creating a two-tiered society with policies that fail our most vulnerable.”

      The message was surprising, coming from a company owned by two of the richest men in the world, who have spent millions of dollars pushing political candidates and programs that favor unfettered markets and oppose government intervention on behalf of the poor. But no trouble appeared to have been spared in the commercial’s creation. It features a cast of downtrodden Americans of all colors and creeds. To portray corporate greed, it includes a shot of a Wall Street sign, followed by a smug businessman looking down at the camera, dressed in a flashy suit and tie. But, according to Dickie Guice, who worked as a safety coördinator at a large Koch-owned paper plant in Arkansas, the company need not have gone to such lengths. Instead of scouting America for examples of social neglect, the Kochs could have turned the cameras on their own factory.

      This summer, Guice decided to speak out about the paper mill in Crossett, a working-class town of some fifty-two hundred residents ten miles north of the Louisiana border.* The mill is run by the paper giant Georgia-Pacific, which has been owned by Koch Industries since 2005. According to E.P.A. records, it emits more than 1.5 million pounds of toxic chemicals each year, including numerous known carcinogens. Georgia-Pacific says that it has permits to operate the mill as it does, and disputes that it is harming local health and safety. But as far back as the nineteen-nineties, people living near the plant have described noxious odors and corrosive effluents that have forced them to stay indoors, as well as what seems to them unusually high rates of illness and death. Speaking by phone from his home, in Sterlington, Louisiana, Guice pointed the finger directly at the mill’s owners, and described a corporate coverup of air and water pollution that he says is “poisoning” the predominantly African-American community.

    • Volkswagen engineer pleads guilty in emissions scandal
      In a Detroit District Court today, 62-year-old engineer James Robert Liang pleaded guilty to conspiracy to defraud the government, commit wire fraud, and violate the Clean Air Act. Liang, currently a California resident, worked for Volkswagen’s diesel development department in Wolfsburg, Germany from 1983 to 2008.

      Volkswagen Group has been beset by scandal since last September, when the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) made public that VW had been including illegal software in diesel Volkswagens and Audis. The software detected when the cars were being tested in a lab so that they could pass emissions tests, but once the cars hit real-world conditions, the software circumvented the emissions control system to spew large amounts of nitrogen oxide (NOx) into the atmosphere.

      According to the plea agreement (PDF), in 2006 Liang and others began building the EA 189 diesel engine that has been the center of the controversy. When the engineers realized they couldn’t meet consumer expectations and US air quality standards at the same time, they began looking into using illegal software (often known in the auto industry as a “defeat device”). By 2008, Liang worked to “calibrate and refine the defeat device.” Later that year, he moved to the US to help with “certification, testing, and warranty issues” for the company’s new diesels.

    • Finance

      • Holy Crap: Wells Fargo Has To Fire 5,300 Employees For Scam Billing
        This story is crazy. Late yesterday it was revealed that banking giant Wells Fargo had to fire 5,300 employees over a massive scam in which those employees created over 2 million fake accounts to stuff with fees in order to meet their quarterly numbers. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau also fined the company $185 million ($100 million to the CFPB, $35 million to the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency and another $50 million to Los Angeles).

      • University of California hires India-based IT outsourcer, lays off tech workers
        The University of California is laying off a group of IT workers at its San Francisco campus as part of a plan to move work offshore.

        The layoffs will happen at the end of February, but before the final day arrives the IT employees expect to train foreign replacements from India-based IT services firm HCL. The firm is working under a university contract valued at $50 million over five years.

        This layoff may have huge implications. That's because the university's IT services agreement with HCL can be leveraged by any institution in the 10-campus University of California system, which serves some 240,000 students and employs some 190,000 faculty and staff.

      • University of California’s outsourcing is wrong, says U.S. lawmaker
        A decision by the University of California to lay off IT employees and send their jobs overseas is under fire from U.S. Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif) and the IEEE-USA.

        The university recently informed about 80 IT workers at its San Francisco campus, including contract employees and vendor contractors, that it hired India-based HCL, under a $50 million contract, to manage infrastructure and networking-related services.

        The university employees will remain on the job until the end of February, but before then they are expecting to train their foreign replacements. The number of affected employees may expand. The university's IT services agreement with HCL can be leveraged by any institution in the 10-campus system.

        "How are they [the university] going to tell students to go into STEM fields when they are doing as much as they can to do a number on the engineers in their employment?" said Lofgren, in an interview.

        Peter Eckstein, the president of the IEEE-USA, said what the university is doing "is just one more sad example of corporations, a major university system in this case, importing non-Americans to eliminate American IT jobs." This engineering association has some 235,000 members.

      • Don't buy the new iPhone until Apple pays its taxes
        Apple is about to launch a new iPhone. I remember when, under Steve Jobs, the arrival of a new iPhone was a breathless and secretive affair, as though Willy Wonka himself was emerging from his factory and making impossible claims of his improbable technology. And if the iPhone didn’t quite live up – if it took years to get copying and pasting, or if Siri was basically a party trick – no one minded so much, because Jobs was the tech universe version of the late Gene Wilder, giving an idiosyncratic performance nobody can explain or match.

        How far we’ve fallen. I’m writing this the night before the iPhone 7 unveiling, and I know nothing will surprise us. You heard it here first: the new iPhone will look and act almost exactly like the current iPhone to any normal person. It will probably be a little faster, come in a new color choice, and be absolutely boring. This time the big killer feature, apparently, is that there’s no headphone port.

        How fantastic – I have been looking for an opportunity to throw away all my headphones and buy new ones directly from Apple. I can’t wait to watch Tim Cook ploddingly explain how much better everything will be in the new version. I love listening to Cook because when you look in his eyes you can tell he knows he’s a second-string community theater actor trying desperately to speak fancy words he learned by rote, following in the footsteps of the man who had the job before he did, Sir Laurence Goddamn Olivier.

      • Why don’t bankers go to jail? You asked Google – here’s the answer
        Ask Kweku Adoboli why bankers do not go to jail, and he would no doubt look surprised. A London-based trader at the Swiss bank UBS, Adoboli was jailed in November 2012 for what police described as the biggest fraud in UK history. He racked up €£1.2bn of losses through secretive trades – and at one point those trades could have forced UBS to take a €£7bn hit, enough to bring down the Swiss bank.

        He is not the only banker to have been incarcerated. Nick Leeson – jailed in Singapore for bringing down Barings in 1995 – is now on the after-dinner speaking circuit. In August, he announced free trading programmes intended, he said, to “help people not make the same mistakes I did”.

        Tom Hayes is behind bars, serving 11 years after being convicted for rigging Libor interest rates. Four former Barclays bankers have also been jailed for conspiring to fraudulently rig global benchmark interest rates.

        But those who ask why bankers have not gone to jail are probably thinking of the 2008 banking crisis and, with the anniversary of the collapse of Lehman Brothers approaching (15 September 2008), the question may once again be at the front of people’s minds. After Lehmans collapsed, more than €£65bn of taxpayer funds were pumped in to Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) and Lloyds Banking Group and a rescue package put in place for Bradford & Bingley. Northern Rock had been nationalised earlier in 2008.

      • Uber drivers dealt setback in background-check lawsuit
        Uber won a courtroom victory on Wednesday when an appeals court ruled that drivers are subject to individual arbitration in a lawsuit over background checks, a ruling that might help the ride-hailing company fend off another costly class action lawsuit filed by its drivers.

        While the Ninth US Circuit Court of Appeals found that agreements signed by two former drivers for the service over background checks "clearly and unmistakably" require legal disputes be settled by a private arbiter, the reasoning may be applied to another class action lawsuit filed by drivers over the company's employment classifications. Uber agreed to settle that lawsuit earlier this year -- an agreement that was rejected by a federal judge last month.

        Arbitration is a method frequently used by companies for resolving legal conflicts outside of the court system. However, critics say that binding arbitration clauses give corporations an unfair advantage over employees and consumers who do not have the resources to challenge companies individually.

      • Denmark to pay for Panama Papers data on tax evaders
        "We must use the necessary measures to catch the tax evaders hiding fortunes in for example Panama with the aim to avoid paying tax in Denmark," Minister for Taxation Karsten Lauritzen said in a statement.

        "We cannot be sure of the end result, but everything suggests that it is useful information that the Danish tax authority will now pursue."

        The government would pay the source an amount in the "lower millions" of kroner (one million kroner is €134,000, $151,000) for the material, which it estimated could contain information on 320 cases involving between 500 and 600 Danish taxpayers.

        The Danish tax authority had already received a "sample" of the data free of charge, the Ministry of Taxation said.

        "Against this backdrop it is the tax authority's assessment that the information is sufficiently relevant and valid to initiate tax investigations of a number of the companies and individuals appearing in the material," it said.

      • When one job won’t pay the bills and several gigs is the new normal
        Tough. Like slavery. Difficult and ineffectual. A few of the sentiments expressed by 83 participants who responded to an Yle straw poll about the rigours of holding down multiple jobs. The views indicate that for the most part, moonlighting can easily become a physical drain and lead to exhaustion. For others, extra work gigs provide a pleasant change of routine and welcome extra income.

      • U.S. Added 177,000 jobs in August, All of Them in the Service Industry

        In portraying herself as a virtual Barack Obama third term, Clinton ties herself not only to a foreign policy that continues to inflame the Middle East, but also to his domestic economic record. A key element is job creation, the cornerstone of any real growth.

        For example, during her acceptance speech at the Democratic National Convention, Hillary Clinton praised Obama’s efforts to steer the nation’s recovery.

        “Now, I don’t think President Obama and Vice President Biden get the credit they deserve for saving us from the worst economic crisis of our lifetimes,” she told the crowd in Philadelphia. “Nearly 15 million new private-sector jobs… And an auto industry that just had its best year ever.”

        Leaving aside some fuzzy math to get to that tally of 15 million new jobs, Clinton purposefully passes off quantity with what we’ll call quality.

        A quality job is one that is sustainable, with full-time status and benefits, the kind of work that both rebuilds America’s soul while at the same time makes work more profitable than unemployment benefits and aid. Most importantly for the greater economy, a quality job is one that allows the worker to put money into society. Rising tide lifting all boats.

      • Greasing the Outstretched Hands
        Donald Trump with his tangled business dealings is a walking conflict of interest, but Hillary Clinton’s connections to the world of high finance and political pull creates its own problems with outstretched palms, writes Michael Winship.

      • Confessions of a Brexist
        Fighting my way through this underground morass I emerged into the pergola-ed light of Victoria station. After getting my ticket—no credit cards accepted at the ticket machines, clearly another bit of Brexit wagon-circling—I stared for a long time up at the big board of departures and arrivals. I simply couldn’t find the name of my destination Pulborough in West Sussex. The announcement soon came: Industrial Action in the South of England. What with pensions halved by the referendum and worker’s rights under assault it’s no wonder that during this hot end of summer one can’t help but think of the Winter of Discontent. A recent study to be read in yesterday’s papers showed that many in Britain will have to postpone retirement till their mid-eighties if they hope to get by.

        Eventually, I devised a way to get to my mother-in-law’s Sussex village. As the train exited the post-industrial, post-Brexit gloom of London and began to make its way through the countryside, the conductor came through the carriage. I asked him about the reasons for the strike. It seems that the station guards in this privatized patch of the former national rail system want to retain their duty of signaling to the driver that the train is safe to leave the station. The company—called Southern—claims that this old-fashioned practice is no longer necessary and its elimination will lead to cost-savings. Naturally, the union sees this “efficiency” as a prelude to laying-off more workers.

        “It’s an odd strike,” I opined. “If there’s one thing the Brits are good at doing on their own these days, it’s shutting the door.”

      • Hawaiian seafood caught by foreign crews confined on boats
        Pier 17 doesn't even show up on most Honolulu maps. Cars whiz past it on their way to Waikiki's famous white sand beaches. Yet few locals, let alone passing tourists, are aware that just behind a guarded gate, another world exists: foreign fishermen confined to American boats for years at a time.

        Hundreds of undocumented men are employed in this unique U.S. fishing fleet, due to a federal loophole that allows them to work but exempts them from most basic labor protections. Many come from impoverished Southeast Asian and Pacific nations to take the dangerous jobs, which can pay as little as 70 cents an hour.

        With no legal standing on U.S. soil, the men are at the mercy of their American captains on American-flagged, American-owned vessels, catching prized swordfish and ahi tuna. Since they don't have visas, they are not allowed to set foot on shore. The entire system, which contradicts other state and federal laws, operates with the blessing of high-ranking U.S. lawmakers and officials, an Associated Press investigation found.

      • And the Ship Goes Down
        The eternal promise of capitalist democracy is a future that somehow breaks from the past. In this alternate universe solutions to global warming, the threat of nuclear weapons, never-ending wars fought to control economic resources and the just distribution of political and economic power are always but one election away. Hillary Clinton is the agent of ‘effective’ change and Donald Trump is the agent of reactionary change. That the political and economic trajectories of the last half century have been uni-directional in favor of concentrated wealth and power are (1) the predicted outcomes of the theories by which they were sold and (2) antithetical to any notion of democratic representation as it is generally understood.

      • Rock Against the TPP: Artists & celebrities fight the Trans-Pacific Partnership

      • Prominent Scholars Decry TPP's "Frontal Attack" on Law and Democracy
        More than 200 legal and economic scholars—including President Barack Obama's Harvard Law School mentor Laurence Tribe—have penned a letter to Congress warning that the pro-corporate Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) regime enshrined in the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) "threatens the rule of law and undermines our nation's democratic institutions."

        As ISDS "threatens to dilute constitutional protections, weaken the judicial branch, and outsource our domestic legal system to a system of private arbitration that is isolated from essential checks and balances," the academics urge (pdf) lawmakers to reject the TPP, despite the Obama administration's full-court press to pass the trade agreement during the upcoming lame-duck session of Congress.

      • Don't Buy the Hype -- the TPP Won't Secure the US
        As President Obama prepares to make his big lame-duck push for the Trans-Pacific Partnership, he's narrowed his sales pitch for the deal down to two basic arguments, and he made both of them during an interview this weekend with CNN.

        The first argument the president is making in favor of the TPP is, of course, the idea that it's going to be great for the American economy.

        According to him, the TPP will help us write the rules of the Asia-Pacific marketplace for decades to come.

        This is the standard argument for the TPP, and it's the most obviously flawed.

    • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

      • Greasing the Outstretched Palms of the Candidates
        The recipe could not be simpler. Mix cynicism with greed, quickly stir and voila! American politics and government served up on a platter to the highest bidder.

        Call it low cuisine. And it doesn’t get any lower than what we’ve seen during this wretched campaign season — a presidential contest that, as one friend in Washington recently said, pits “the unethical versus the unhinged.”

        Psychiatric evaluations notwithstanding, for sure each of the two candidates is the byproduct of crony capitalism run amok. Donald Trump started out boasting that his much-flaunted wealth meant that he could self-fund his campaign and that this made him incorruptible, a feckless notion that went flying out the window as soon as he became the presumptive, official party nominee and went running to fat cat funders with his diminutive hands out.

        As The Washington Post’s Matea Gold reported Sept. 1, “The New York billionaire, who has cast himself as free from the influence of the party’s donor class, has spent this summer forging bonds with wealthy GOP financiers — seeking their input on how to run his campaign and recast his policies for the general election, according to more than a dozen people who have participated in the conversations.”

        And let’s not get started on the wacky world of Trump’s actual finances, his bragging about using cash to buy political favors, his failure to release tax returns, his dodgy connections with overseas banks, Russian plutocrats and organized crime. “… It is safe to say,” The New York Times recently reported, “that no previous major party presidential nominee has had finances nearly as complicated…” Now there’s a classic Times understatement for you.

      • Arrest Warrants Issued for Green Party’s Jill Stein and Ajamu Baraka (Multimedia)
        Earlier this week, Green Party presidential nominee Jill Stein and her running mate, Ajamu Baraka, traveled to North Dakota to join the Standing Rock Sioux tribe’s protests against the Dakota Access pipeline (DAPL). At one point during the demonstrations, Stein spray-painted a bulldozer with the words “I approve this message.” Baraka spray-painted “decolonization” on other construction equipment. Each has since been charged with vandalism and trespassing.

      • The terror against Ukraine’s journalists is fuelled by political elites
        Watching a video of journalists running for their lives amid choking smoke in a building set ablaze in Kyiv is horrifying. It is even more chilling to realise that some of these people are colleagues and close friends you have known for years.

        We would disagree on many political issues, but it is still shocking to see where the exercise of freedom of speech in post-revolutionary Ukraine can lead you. At the same time, the increasing violence against Ukraine’s journalists brings powerful voices at home and abroad together in the expanding uprising against Soviet mentality, which has plagued the country for the last 25 years.

      • The Trumpillary War Machine Is Bad News

        NBC then showed clips of 9/11 and of Obama announcing the killing of Osama bin Laden, but not a single image of a single body or bombed out house. After 15 years of immoral, illegal, catastrophic murder sprees, Clinton began by taking credit for her “experience” of having been part of making all those wars happen.

        So, Lauer asked her, not about any of those wars, but about her emails. Eventually he turned to Iraq, and she claimed to have learned her lesson. Although she still wanted war in Libya and several other countries and still wants it badly in Syria (though Lauer didn’t get into that), so she’s clearly learned nothing. She did claim accurately that Trump backed war on Iraq and Libya too, while still claiming inaccurately that Gaddafi was planning a massacre. Lauer confirmed and corrected nothing.

      • This Election Is Hillary Clinton’s to Lose, and She’s Screwing It Up
        Clinton’s gender is not her biggest liability. Her refusal to even attempt to embrace bold progressive valued...

      • 'Commander-in-Chief' Forum Panned as Colossal Failure of Journalism
        Adam Green, co-founder of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, called the forum "an absolute disgrace" and just more proof that the entire presidential debate system needs an overhaul. "Matt Lauer treated this forum less as a chance to educate voters about the real differences in temperament and policy between the candidates and more as a chance to do clickbait trolling," Green said. "Instead of asking about big ideas, he asked small-bore questions that voters aren't asking at their dinner tables."

      • What Workers Aren’t Hearing from Democrats
        If ever there were a sign that the presidential race isn’t over yet, Democrats got one this week at eastern Ohio’s Canfield Fair.

        On Labor Day, an iconic holiday for what used to be a reliable Democratic constituency, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump got an enthusiastic welcome from thousands of Youngstown-area fans who waited hours in the blazing heat to see him.

        This scene seemed all the more striking because it took place in a solidly blue-collar county that hasn’t voted for a Republican presidential candidate since 1972. And because it was Trump’s second trip to the Democratic stronghold of Mahoning County in the past three weeks.

      • In Omaha, Jill Stein defends spray-painting bulldozer at North Dakota pipeline protest
        The Green Party presidential candidate — who is eagerly courting former Bernie Sanders supporters — told an Omaha crowd on Wednesday that she had no choice but to spray-paint a bulldozer at an anti-pipeline protest in North Dakota after being asked to by Indian leaders.

        Stein said she didn’t feel as if she could say “no” to such a simple request from people leading the fight against a crude-oil pipeline.

        Stein was charged Wednesday with two misdemeanor counts of vandalism and trespassing in North Dakota for her impromptu graffiti.

        “I felt like it was the least I could do in front of these Indian leaders, as they were putting their lives and their bodies on the line,” said Stein, who spoke at the Metropolitan Community College’s Fort Omaha campus.

      • Jill Stein says voters are 'clamoring' for other choices. She's right.
        Jill Stein, the Green Party nominee for president, met Thursday with the Tribune Editorial Board and shared a few ideas you might typically associate with a fringe, environment-focused candidate: She spoke of nuclear disarmament, abandoning fossil fuels, etc.

        But darned if Stein, a physician who was raised in Highland Park, didn't also articulate a frustration expressed this September by the majority of American voters, who seem restless over the country's direction yet don't like either major party candidate for president. Voters are "clamoring" for other choices, Stein tells us. They want "something else."

        Yes, for her it's a self-serving observation, but it happens to be accurate. Polls show a majority of voters have an unfavorable view of both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. Americans also say they'd be interested in considering a third-party candidate, even without knowing much about Stein or Libertarian Party candidate Gary Johnson.

      • There Is an Arrest Warrant Out for Jill Stein
        Third-party presidential candidates have participated in acts of civil disobedience, risked arrest, been arrested and been jailed with some frequency over the past 150 years. So the fact that Green Party presidential nominee Jill Stein faces misdemeanor criminal charges in North Dakota stemming from a protest against the Dakota Access Pipeline is hardly unprecedented.

        But it is politically significant.

      • A Debate Disaster Waiting to Happen
        There was not much of a contest in Wednesday night’s forum with Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. Mrs. Clinton answered the questions of the moderator, Matt Lauer, in coherent sentences, often with specific details. Mr. Trump alternated between rambling statements and grandiose boasts when he wasn’t lying.

        Mr. Lauer largely neglected to ask penetrating questions, call out falsehoods or insist on answers when it was obvious that Mr. Trump’s responses had drifted off.

        If the moderators of the coming debates do not figure out a better way to get the candidates to speak accurately about their records and policies — especially Mr. Trump, who seems to feel he can skate by unchallenged with his own version of reality while Mrs. Clinton is grilled and entangled in the fine points of domestic and foreign policy — then they will have done the country a grave disservice.

        Whether or not one agrees with her positions, Mrs. Clinton, formerly secretary of state and once a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, showed a firm understanding of the complex issues facing the country. Mr. Trump reveled in his ignorance about global affairs and his belief that leading the world’s most powerful nation is no harder than running his business empire, which has included at least four bankruptcies.

      • From Russian TV Network, Not So Much Love for Donald Trump
        Donald Trump’s interview with Larry King on the Russian-government-funded television network RT America is being widely seen in the mainstream U.S. media as evidence of unseemly coziness between Trump and authoritarian Russian leader Vladimir Putin.

        The interview came after months of claims by Democratic Party officials and news media pundits that the Russian government is trying to get Trump elected.

        RT America has a long history of coverage that benefits the Russian government and is critical of the United States, as many former employees have complained.

        But there’s one problem with the theory that RT America and the Russian government are fond of Trump: RT America is sometimes more critical of Trump than U.S. media.

      • Clinton, Trump, Lauer, All Lose Battle of the MSNBC CINC Forum

        In the end, it was actually America who lost last night at the MSNBC Commander-in-Chief forum, because one of these people will be our president in a few months, and the other two will no doubt live forever on our TVs.

      • Donald Trump Lacks Sense or Sensibility
        The most revealing moment in the presidential candidates’ first joint forum Wednesday night came when Donald Trump told the world how much he admires Vladimir Putin.

        Never mind that the Russian strongman invaded Ukraine and seized Crimea. Never mind that he supports the butcher Bashar al-Assad in Syria. Never mind that so many of his political opponents end up murdered or imprisoned. Never mind that U.S. officials suspect his government of trying to disrupt our election with cyberattacks. In Trump’s star-struck eyes, all of this makes him “a leader, far more than our president has been a leader.”

      • Donald Trump, a Gold Medalist in Playing America’s ‘Broken System’
        Better than anyone, Donald Trump made the case for why our campaign money system is rotten. Unsurprisingly, the prime example he used was himself.

        “I was a businessman,” Trump explained at a Republican debate in August 2015. “I give to everybody. When they call, I give. And you know what? When I need something from them two years later, three years later, I call them, they are there for me. And that’s a broken system.”

        Bravo. Sort of. In retrospect, it’s remarkable that Republican primary voters seemed to reward Trump for saying that he bought off politicians right and left, as if admitting to soft bribery was a sign of what a great reformer he would be.

    • Censorship/Free Speech

    • Privacy/Surveillance

      • Mass Aerial Surveillance Is a Growing Orwellian Concern in the United States
        Cameras at intersections and in public parks have become commonplace, but are you aware that a plane flying overhead could be tracking your every move?

        According to a Bloomberg Businessweek report in August, the city of Baltimore has been conducting surveillance over parts of the city with megapixel cameras attached to Cessna airplanes since at least January. This news comes after activists expressed concerns that mysterious Cessnas were seen flying above Black Lives Matter protests in 2015.

        FBI spy planes, equipped not just with cameras but with cellphone surveillance devices as well, have become a new phenomenon in the United States. While the agency says the planes are not designed for mass surveillance, that claim is getting shakier by the day, especially in light of evidence of what’s happening in places like Baltimore.

        The Stingray is a mobile cellphone surveillance device the size of a suitcase. Police departments across the country use the devices to collect cellphone data in specific areas of a town or city. The federal government has manned planes with these devices in the past, but to what extent they are in use federally and locally is unclear.
      • Let NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden return to US, urges Zachary Quinto
        Actor Zachary Quinto has called for NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden to be allowed to return to America without facing espionage charges.

        The Star Trek actor said Mr Snowden had acted with "great courage" and it was "absurd" to brand him a "treasonist" while he remains in exile in Russia.

        Quinto plays journalist Glenn Greenwald in Oliver Stone's new film Snowden, which tells the story of how the former NSA analyst leaked details of mass government surveillance in 2013.

      • Arrests over hacks of CIA and FBI staff

      • Snowden star Zachary Quinto is so paranoid he covers his laptop camera with tape
      • Zachary turns technophobe
      • Zachary Quinto paranoid about privacy after filming Snowden
      • Zachary Quinto Reveals He Covers His Laptop Cameras with Tape!
      • Top Officials Want to Split Cyber Command From NSA
        The Obama administration's top defense and intelligence officials are proposing a plan to separate the spying and war fighting arms of America's vast hacking apparatus, an idea that was recommended but rejected after the Edward Snowden revelations of 2013.

        Defense Secretary Ash Carter and Director of National Intelligence James Clapper have gotten behind the proposal to separate the National Security Agency, the digital spying arm, from U.S. Cyber Command, which develops and deploys cyber weapons, three national security officials tell NBC News. Representatives for both men declined to comment for the record.

      • This Hilariously Cruel Hoax Tweet Just Put Lots Of People On NSA's Radar
        WHY WE CARE: Let's break down what 's happening in this tweet. The picture on the left looks to be a screencap of a post about Google's new initiative to thwart ISIS recruitment. The image on the right is another screencap, this one implying that if Google users look up "How to join ISIS," the search algorithm will instead lead them to "World's smallest horse." (The world's smallest horse is apparently a 14-inch pinto stallion named Einstein, and he is beyond adorable.) The actual text of the tweet is a deceptively earnest "Amazing. Well done, Google." My personal reaction to seeing this collection of images and words was slightly skeptical amazement. It seemed like something cool that might exist, and stranger things have indeed happened. (It feels weird to casually use that expression now.) Apple's iPhone 7 unveiling was going on simultaneously, with news of questionable technology hanging in the air already. I stopped short of actually trying out this preventative measure, though, skepticism winning the day. It turned out to be the right move. A lot of other people did not suspect anything fishy in Heck's ultra-dry trolling tweet. Enough of the 7000+ retweeters fell for it, in fact, that there was a substantial increase in Google searches for "How to join ISIS."

      • Police are surveilling the wrong targets due to incorrect IP addresses
        POLICE AND the security services frequently provide incorrect IP addresses in applications to intercept communications data with potentially "serious consequences" for the people targeted and the investigations that supposedly need the data.

        The details were contained in the latest annual report from the Interception of Communications Commissioner's Office (IOCCO).

        The report does not provide a figure for the number of times that the security and law enforcement agencies have provided incorrect IP addresses, but the organisation said that it received reports of 1,199 known errors in 2015.
      • FBI arrests hackers who allegedly leaked info on government agents
        U.S. authorities have arrested two suspects allegedly involved in dumping details on 29,000 officials with the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security.

        Andrew Otto Boggs and Justin Gray Liverman have been charged with hacking into the internet accounts of senior U.S. government officials and breaking into government computer systems.

        Both suspects were arrested on Thursday, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.

        Boggs, age 22, and Liverman, 24, are from North Carolina and are allegedly part of a hacking group called Crackas With Attitude.

        From October 2015 until February, they used hacking techniques, including "victim impersonation" to trick internet service providers and a government help desk into giving up access to the accounts, the DOJ alleged.

      • Senators Burr & Feinstein Look To Bring Back Bill To Outlaw Real Encryption
        Back in May we noted that the ridiculous and terrible anti-encryption bill from Senators Richard Burr and Dianne Feinstein was dead in the water. The bill had all sorts of problems with incredibly broad and vague requirements, but the quick summary was that tech companies would have to figure out a way to backdoor all encryption, because if they received a warrant, they'd be required to decrypt any communication.

        Rather than get the message that this was a really, really bad idea, it appears that Burr and Feinstein have just gone back to the drawing board, trying to recraft the bill. Julian Sanchez got his hands on one of a few prospective new drafts that are being floated around and has an analysis of the update. The draft that Sanchez has seen tries to fix some of the problems, but doesn't really fix the main problems of the bill.

      • Feinstein-Burr 2.0: The Crypto Backdoor Bill Lives On
        When it was first released back in April, a “discussion draft” of the Compliance With Court Orders Act sponsored by Sens. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Richard Burr (R-NC) met with near universal derision from privacy advocates and security experts. (Your humble author was among the critics.) In the wake of that chilly reception, press reports were declaring the bill effectively dead just weeks later, even as law enforcement and intelligence officials insisted they would continue pressing for a solution to the putative “going dark” problem that encryption creates for government eavesdroppers. Feinstein and Burr, however, appear not to have given up on their baby: Their offices have been circulating a revised draft, which I’ve recently gotten hold of.

    • Civil Rights/Policing

      • Records Show Obama Hired Behavioral Experts to Expand Use of Govt. Programs
        The Obama administration quietly hired 20 social and behavioral research experts to help expand the use of government programs at dozens of agencies by, among other things, simplifying federal forms, according to records obtained by Judicial Watch. The controversial group of experts is collectively known as the Social and Behavioral Sciences Team (SBST) and it functions under the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP).

        In 2015 Obama signed an executive order directing federal agencies to use behavioral science to sell their programs to the public, the records obtained by Judicial Watch reveal. By then the government had contracted “20 leading social and behavioral research experts” that at that point had already been involved in “more than 75 agency collaborations,” the records state. A memo sent from SBST chair Maya Shankar, a neuroscientist, to OSTP Director John Holdren offers agencies guidance and information about available government support for using behavioral insights to improve federal forms. Sent electronically, the memo is titled “Behavioral Science Insights and Federal Forms.”

        The records, obtained from the OSTP under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), also include a delivery by Holdren in which he insists that the social and behavioral sciences “are real science, with immensely valuable practical applications—the views of a few members of Congress to the contrary notwithstanding—and that these sciences abundantly warrant continuing support in the Federal science and technology budget.” Holdren, a Stanford and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology graduate is a peculiar character who worked as an environmental professor at Harvard and the University of California Berkeley before becoming Obama’s science advisor. In the late 70s he co-authored a book with doomsayer Paul Ehrlich advocating for mandatory sterilization of the American people and forced abortions in order to depopulate the country. A head of the OSTP Holdren technically oversees the SBST.

      • Chelsea Manning Begins Hunger Strike, Demanding “Dignity and Respect” in Prison
        U.S. Army Whistleblower Chelsea Manning began a hunger strike in military prison Friday, her attorneys confirmed.

        “I need help. I am not getting any,” Manning wrote in a statement. “I was driven to suicide by the lack of care for my gender dysphoria that I have been desperate for. I didn’t get any. I still haven’t gotten any.”

        Manning announced her identity as a transgender woman on August 22, 2013, a day after she was sentenced to 35 years in military prison.

        After attempting to commit suicide in July, Manning was informed by military officials that she was being investigated for “resisting the force cell move team,” “prohibited property,” and “conduct which threatens.” She is facing indefinite solitary confinement, or a return to maximum-security detention.

      • Chelsea Manning Begins Hunger Strike to Protest Bullying by Prison and US Government
        Today, after years of requesting the care she needs for gender dysphoria, Chelsea Manning has released a statement about the start of her hunger strike.

        Chelsea is demanding written assurances from the Army she will receive all of the medically prescribed recommendations for her gender dysphoria and that the “high tech bullying” will stop. “High tech bullying,” is what Chelsea describes as “the constant, deliberate and overzealous administrative scrutiny by prison and military officials.”

      • Panamanian Police Assault Indigenous Dam Protesters
        Panama’s national police left approximately 20 indigenous Ngäbe protesters injured last week in what one medic described as an “absurd and irresponsible act.”

        The protesters, all residents of Gualaquita, mobilized against the Barro Blanco hydro dam after the project’s owner and operator, Honduran-based Generadora del Istmo (GENISA) began flooding the Tabasará River basin with blessings from the government.

        It didn’t take long for Ngäbe communities within the basin to suffer the consequences. In the community of Kiad, local road connections were washed away by the flood waters leaving entire families geographically isolated. Houses were also submerged by the rising waters, along with significant archaeological sites in the region.

      • Chelsea Manning on Hunger Strike Citing Lack of Medical Treatment
        Chelsea Manning began a hunger strike today at the military prison at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, where she is serving a 35-year sentence for the leaking of hundreds of thousands of classified documents.

        Manning is seeking written assurances from the Army that she will receive the medical treatments for her gender dysphoria beyond the hormone treatment she began in early 2015. Manning has sued the government to get such treatments and to lift the male grooming standards she is subject to that prevent her from growing her hair out.

      • 'Marriage is for ADULTS' Sweden hit by huge number of child brides as young as ELEVEN
        An influx of underage brides who have arrived in the country during the crisis has left it facing fresh problems.

        In Denmark, a city which took a huge chunk of the nation’s 20,000 asylum seekers, is now considering banning child marriages.

        In February the Danes announced plans to separate child brides from their husbands upon arrival in the country.

        Oussama El-Saadi, a high-profile imam from a mosque in Aarhus, urged them to scrap the idea.

        Despite protests, politicians are choosing whether to vote in favour of not recognising it.

      • Indian workers staged one of the largest strikes in human history and no one in the USA noticed
        Tens of millions of unionized public sector workers walked off the job last Friday in a one-day strike against PM Modi's plan to privatise public industries and increase foreign investment. It was one of the largest strikes in human history, if not the largest, and took place over Labour Day weekend.

        With the exception of a short notice by a guest on a CNN show, not one of the US networks ran a single story on the strike.

      • The Biggest Strike in World History? No Thanks, We’re Focusing on the New iPhone
        When tens of millions of workers go out on strike in the second-largest country in the world—and the third-largest economy in the world—resulting in what may be the biggest labor action in world history (AlterNet, 9/7/16), you’d think that would merit some kind of news coverage, right?

        Not if you’re a decision-maker at a US corporate media outlet, apparently.

        A coalition of trade unions in India representing some 180 million workers staged a one-day general strike on Friday, September 2, in protest of what they called the “anti-worker and anti-people” policies of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, an advocate of neoliberal policies and increased foreign investment (Democracy Now!, 9/2/16). Assocham, India’s chamber of commerce, estimated that the economic impact of the strike was $2.4 billion–$2.7 billion (Hindustan Today, 9/3/16).

      • Teenagers jailed for attacking two families in southern France as 'women were wearing shorts'
        Two teenagers have been jailed in southern France for their part in a brawl that saw three men violently attacked in front of their children after objecting to sexist comments directed at their wives.

        The two couples, a friend and their children were cycling in the city of Toulon in July when the two women were abused for wearing shorts by around 12 youths.

        Local prosecutor Bernard Machal said the teens hurled insults at the women, shouting “whore” and “go on, get naked”.

      • Inside the fight to reveal the CIA's torture secrets
        Daniel Jones had always been friendly with the CIA personnel who stood outside his door.

        When he needed to take something out of the secured room where he read mountains of their classified material, they typically obliged. An informal understanding had taken hold after years of working together, usually during off-peak hours, so closely that Jones had parking privileges at an agency satellite office not far from its McLean, Virginia, headquarters. They would ask Jones if anything he wanted to remove contained real names or cover names of any agency officials, assets or partners, or anything that could compromise an operation. He would say no. They would nod, he would wish them a good night, and they would go their separate ways.


        But the CIA has gone beyond successfully suppressing the report. In a grim echo of Jones’s fears, the agency’s inspector general, Langley recently revealed, destroyed its copy – allegedly an accident. Accountability for torture has been the exclusive province of a committee investigation greeted with antipathy by Obama. While Obama prides himself on ending CIA torture, the Republican presidential nominee, Donald Trump, has vowed if elected to “bring back a hell of a lot worse than waterboarding”. Key CIA leaders defending the agency against the committee, including Brennan and former director Michael Morrell, are reportedly seeking to run Langley under Hillary Clinton.

      • Oliver Stone Interview: Why ‘Snowden’ Is His Answer to American Bullies
        Which is one reason why Stone met with NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden in Moscow, not once, or twice, but nine times. Stone will tell you: You can’t trust the United States government. You can’t trust the NSA, CIA, or FBI. You can’t trust the Hollywood studios, because those are corporations run by lawyers. And you certainly can’t trust the media.

      • Darsean Kelley Knew His Rights. He Got Tased Anyway.
        Police in Aurora, Colorado, got a call about a man pulling a gun on a kid. They had no description of the suspect. On their way to the scene, they stopped two Black men walking down the sidewalk.

        Darsean Kelley, one of the men, followed the officers’ orders to hold his hands above his head and turn around. His repeated requests for an explanation as to why they had been detained went unanswered. Even though it was clear he had no weapons and he was no threat to the officers, Darsean was tased in the back just as he said, “I know my rights.” Darsean fell backwards and hit his head on the pavement.

        The officers had no reason to detain them. They had done nothing wrong. When Darsean asked to talk to the officer’s boss, noting that there were witnesses to the tasing, the officer responded, “Hey, look right here. It’s all on video, sweetheart.”

      • Must Watch: Senator Ron Wyden Heads to the Senate Floor Today to Oppose Mass Hacking
        In a few hours, Senator Wyden will be going on the floor of the Senate to argue against updates to Rule 41 of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure.

        You may have already heard of Rule 41: EFF and allied digital rights groups have been raising the alarm about this extra-legislative rule change. In short, the pending updates would make it easier for the government to get a warrant to hack1 into computers. It would be easy for law enforcement agents to forum shop, finding the most sympathetic judges in the country to approve these vague and dangerous warrants.

        What do we mean by "hack into computers"? In this case, the term refers to a wide range of poorly-defined techniques such as deploying malware to search, copy, and transmit private files from private computers, breaking into secure systems and accounts, exploiting vulnerabilities in widely-used software to turn our devices into surveillance tools, and much more.

      • The San Francisco 49ers’ Colin Kaepernick Kneeled So That We May All Stand Taller
        It’s hard to speak with your face pressed against concrete. Or when you can’t breathe. Or with a broken neck. And even when you manage to speak, people in power seek to silence you. Just ask the San Francisco 49ers’ Colin Kaepernick.

        The all-too-familiar voices of the status quo tried to quiet Kaepernick as soon as he began to protest. They want Americans of conscience to just sit down and shut up. Unfortunately for them, they didn’t say anything about kneeling. Kaepernick has been doing just that, and in doing so, has spoken volumes.
      • EFF to Court: Public's Right to Access the Law Should Not be Blocked by Bogus Copyright Case
        The court in Washington, D.C., is hearing arguments in two cases against EFF client Public.Resource.Org, an open records advocacy website. In these suits, several industry groups claim they own copyrights on written standards for building safety and educational testing they helped develop, and can deny or limit public access to them even after the standards have become part of the law. Standards like these that are legal requirements—such as the National Electrical Code—are available only in paper form in Washington, D.C., in expensive printed books, or through a paywall. By posting these documents online, Public.Resource.Org seeks to make these legal requirements more available to the public that must abide by them. The industry groups allege the postings infringe their copyright, even though the standards have been incorporated into government regulations and, therefore, must be free for anyone to view, share, and discuss.

      • Who’s Left at Guantánamo? Fates of Dozens of Prisoners Are Undecided
        The last Guantánamo detainee to make the case for his release before a panel of senior administration officials is also the youngest man left at the island prison.

        In a hearing Thursday of Guantánamo’s Periodic Review Board, Hassan Ali Bin Attash, a Yemeni who is believed to be about 31 years old, said through representatives that he was working toward a high school GED diploma and hoped to join relatives in Saudi Arabia and find a job as a translator.

        Attash’s exact birthdate is uncertain, but he was certainly a young teen in 1997, when the U.S. military alleges that he pledged allegiance to Osama bin Laden and began working for senior al Qaeda figures doing everything from bomb-making to logistics. He was captured in Pakistan in 2002 and spent the next two years being moved between CIA black-site prisons and interrogations in Afghanistan and Jordan before landing in Guantánamo in September 2004. While in U.S. custody, according to his own and other prisoners’ accounts, he was subjected to sleep deprivation, hung from a bar by his wrists, and threatened with dogs and electric shocks, among other forms of torture. He was also severely tortured by the Jordanians.
      • Italy’s Mafia finds blood money in unexpected places
        Late last month, a 6.2 magnitude earthquake ripped through central Italy, leaving 292 people dead and many more seriously injured. While it would not have been unheard of for tremors to cause that much destruction in a developing nation, the anti-seismic reinforcement technology available in a wealthy European country like Italy should have prevented many of the buildings that ultimately fell from collapsing.

        The vast majority of those killed in the earthquake lived in the town of Amatrice, in northern Lazio, where the construction firm paid to carry out anti-seismic work had in fact links to organized crime, and utterly failed to conduct any sort of improvements.

        If the work had been completed as directed, far fewer people would have lost their lives. One now-infamous elementary school that crumbled in Amatrice, was renovated to resist earthquakes as recently as 2012 and at a cost of $785,000 USD – money that apparently went into the pockets of local Mafiosi.

      • Hope for the Philippines?
        Asked by reporters last week about the likelihood that Obama would raise criticisms of his human rights record, Duterte declared elliptically, “I do not have any master except the Filipino people, nobody but nobody. You [Obama] must be respectful. Do not just throw questions. ‘Putang ina,’ I will swear at you in that [ASEAN] forum.”

        The mainstream media was shocked at the insulting suggestion that the U.S. president would have to be respectful to the Filipino president or risk provoking some reactive rudeness. Asked in Beijing if he would meet as planned with Duterte, Obama affected mild amusement at the “colorful” Filipino leader, saying his staff was deciding when and if a meeting will happen. Its cancellation was announced son afterwards. Obama would meet with the South Korean leader instead.


        Washington, on the other hand, views the Communist Party of the Philippines, and the New People’s Army, as “terrorists.” Just as the U.S. views all left-wing armed movements as terrorists (unless and until they can be used for common purposes, as in the case of the Iranian MEK in Iraq). In 2002 U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell took the unprecedented step of blacklisting the estimable Sison personally as a “terrorist” and the U.S. (spurred by then-president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo) was surely behind the Dutch authorities’ raid on his house and his brief detention in 2007 on suspicion of ordering two murders in the Philippines the year before. (He was cleared of the charges and released.)


        How would a President Hillary Clinton react, should the CPP acquire an established role in Philippines politics, Manila withdraw from recent military and “security” agreements, and the country draw closer to the PRC? Be assured her crooked cabal is already discussing coup plans. Because that’s what they do, thinking that as the “exceptional” nation they need not (as Hillary confidant Henry Kissinger once said in relation to Chile) “stand by and watch a country go communist due to the irresponsibility of its own people.”

        But that was 1970, when the U.S. had twice the share in global GDP than it has today and the world was divided by the Cold War. Ruling classes of nations forced to take sides at that time have seen been obliged by market and geopolitical forces to align, re-align, and hold out options for the future. Obama cannot snap his fingers and demand that Duterte cooperate with an anti-China, pro-U.S. balikitan program. Nor will his successor be able to do so.

        The next U.S. president might face an independent country whose people are attempting to resolve their own contradictions in their own way, rejecting interference from the putang ina in Washington. What could be more hopeful than that?
      • Child Refugees Forced to Sleep in Dirty, Vermin-Infested Cells: Report
        A scathing report from Human Rights Watch reveals the degrading and inhumane conditions under which hundreds of refugee children in Greece are being forced to sleep in dirty, vermin-infested police station cells, detention centers, and coast guard facilities for months at a time—in violation of Greek and international law.

      • 'A Call to End Slavery': Nationwide Prison Strike Kicks Off
        Prisoners across the United States are launching a massive strike on Friday, on the 45th anniversary of the Attica prison uprising, to protest what they call modern-day slavery.

        Organizers say the strike will take place in at least 24 states to protest inhumane living and working conditions, forced labor, and the cycle of the criminal justice system itself. In California alone, 800 people are expected to take part in the work stoppage. It is slated to be one of the largest strikes in history.

        In the era of Black Lives Matter, the issues of racist policing, the school-to-prison pipeline, and other factors that contribute to the mass incarceration crisis are coming to the forefront of civil and human rights movements.

        "Slavery is alive and well in the prison system, but by the end of this year, it won't be anymore," reads the call to action from groups including Support Prisoner Resistance, the Free Alabama Movement, and the Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee (IWOC). "This is a call to end slavery in America."
      • Rendition Victim “Staggered” as MI6 Official Implicated in His Abuse Breaks Silence
        A man who was rendered to Gaddafi’s Libya in a joint MI6-CIA operation has written to Sir Mark Allen, the former MI6 official who was responsible for his ordeal, following a rare public comment by Sir Mark.

        In a recent article for the Catholic Herald, Sir Mark Allen – formerly head of counter-terrorism at MI6 – argued for a faith-based “answer to terrorism.”

      • Standoff at Standing Rock: Even Attack Dogs Can’t Stop the Native American Resistance
        The Missouri River, the longest river in North America, has for thousands of years provided the water necessary for life to the region’s original inhabitants. To this day, millions of people rely on the Missouri for clean drinking water. Now, a petroleum pipeline, called the Dakota Access pipeline, is being built, threatening the river. A movement has grown to block the pipeline, led by Native American tribes that have lived along the banks of the Missouri from time immemorial. Members of the Dakota and Lakota nations from the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation established a camp at the confluence of the Missouri and Cannonball rivers, about 50 miles south of Bismarck, North Dakota. They declare themselves “protectors, not protesters.” Last Saturday, as they attempted to face down massive bulldozers on their ancient burial sites, the pipeline security guards attacked the mostly Native American protectors with dogs and pepper spray as they resisted the $3.8 billion pipeline’s construction, fighting for clean water, protection of sacred ground and an end to our fossil-fuel economy.

        Standing Rock Sioux set up the first resistance encampment in April, calling it Sacred Stone. Now there are four camps with more than 1,000 people, mostly from Native American tribes in the U.S. and Canada. “Water is Life” is the mantra of this nonviolent struggle against the pipeline that is being built to carry crude oil from the Bakken oil fields of North Dakota to Illinois.
      • The Shameful Spectacle of Denying People Their Vote
        Every once in a while, the curtains part and we get a glimpse of the ugliest, most shameful spectacle in American politics: the Republican Party’s systematic attempt to disenfranchise African-Americans and other minorities with voter ID laws and other restrictions at the polls.

        If you thought this kind of discrimination died with Jim Crow, think again. Fortunately, federal courts have blocked implementation of some of the worst new laws, at least for now. But the most effective response would be for black and brown voters to send the GOP a message by turning out in record numbers, no matter what barriers Republicans try to put in our way.

        The ostensible reason for these laws is to solve a problem that doesn’t exist—voter fraud by impersonation. Four years ago, you may recall, a Republican Pennsylvania legislator let slip the real reason for his state’s new voter ID law: to “allow” Mitt Romney to win the state. In the end, he didn’t. But Republicans tried mightily to discourage minorities, most of whom vote Democratic, from going to the polls.

      • Attica: How the Suppression of an Uprising Fed the Prison Industry
        Anyone who wants to understand mass incarceration needs to understand Attica. And anyone who wants to understand Attica must read Heather Thompson's new book, Blood in the Water, the first scholarly history of the Attica prison uprising. It is a riveting tale, but a difficult one to read. Several reviewers have noted that they had to stop reading at several points, to breathe and to wipe the tears from their eyes. I join that group. As difficult as it is, this is a story that must be told.

        Forty-five years ago today, on September 9, 1971, almost 1,300 prisoners took over an exercise yard at Attica prison. For months, they had filed petitions, written grievances and tried everything they could to ease the horrid conditions at Attica. They often were hungry, as prison officials only budgeted 65 cents a day per prisoner for food. There were few jobs and no opportunities for education. Racial and ethnic discrimination was rampant: Black prisoners were assigned the dirtiest, hardest manual labor jobs. While all mail was censored, any letters in Spanish were simply thrown away, hitting the Puerto Rican prisoners who received mail from their Spanish-speaking parents the hardest. Medical care was grossly inadequate, with one doctor for the entire prison. Guard brutality was unchecked.

      • Kaepernick’s Patriotism

      • The New Ancien Regime Arrives in the White House
        The United States is indeed exceptional. It is the only country that ushers in a new Presidency by displacing thousands of the highest Executive Branch officials. That leaves in place those who are indentured to public service but, with the exception of the uniformed military and Intelligence services, almost never make policy, direct its implementation or review it. ‘Change’ you can believe in because it is dictated by law and rooted tradition.

        It is one of the age’s secular mysteries how institutional integrity and coherent programs survive this upheaval. Foreigners in particular fret over how they are going to handle fresh personalities and new ideas. After all, all this motion could jeopardize their own plans and commitments. Anxiety is abated somewhat when they look back at other transitions to find that continuity eclipses innovation by a wide margin. There is more change of style than of substance. That holds for both persons and policies.

      • Earning the trust of human rights supporters
        Building public support for human rights reform is crucial. Without a broad and deep public constituency, legislators will not pass the necessary laws, supervisors will not enforce new rules, and citizens will not demand real accountability and change.

        For a long time now, we have known that non-governmental rights groups play a key role in these reform efforts. They lobby lawmakers and government, report abuses, and mobilize public attention, and these efforts are sometimes successful. All too often, however, human rights groups do this work without collecting much in the way of systematic evidence. As a result, they do not have an accurate sense of who are their strongest supporters, and which population sub-groups need more attention and persuasion.

      • Ãœber-Globalization or Ãœber-Xenophobia?
        The ground upon which greed rests is hard and fast while the ground upon which our moral discriminations rest is soft and fuzzy, mostly so because moral fronts serve the interests of greed. Greed works both sides of our party duopoly, both Democrat and Republican. They join in ignoring the anxieties and fears of both the working-class and the middle class, thus becoming, either openly or by silent concession, supporters of neoliberalism and über-globalization.

        Nevertheless, the disillusionment of the Many has found its leaders, Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump, who though far different in their diagnosis and treatment equally ride the powerful wave of anger and discontent. That wave is now breaking against not only neoliberalism and über-globalization but against the Third Way/New Democrat collaboration advocated by Bill Clinton and one assumes to be continued by Hillary Clinton.

        A mixture of greed and hypocrisy, of Uriah Heep fronted by Seth Pecksniff, of real intent and alibi cover up surround all matters attending a bedrock force that has had much to do with the U.S.’s transformation from democracy to plutarchy, namely globalization and its many camouflages.

        Revolt against this now remains with Trump and his supporters, its manifesto being what I call über-xenophobia, xenophobia being the mildest preamble to the ugliness of the whole. Sanders’ own manifesto of revolt remained, like moral discriminations, soft and fuzzy, cerebral and un-visceral, while Trump’s continues to drum a message that like all percussion is felt not cogitated. Trump’s own distortions of sentences, of argument and exposition, of language and meaning testify to the fact that his appeal does not lie in conceptual understanding but elsewhere, lower, deeper, darker.

    • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

      • Ted Cruz Still Blatantly Misrepresenting Internet Governance Transition
        Just a few months ago, we wrote up a decently long post explaining why the upcoming "transition" of a piece of internet governance away from the US government was both a good thing and not a big deal. You can read those two posts on it, but the really short version is twofold: (1) the Commerce Department's "control" over ICANN's IANA (Internet Assigned Numbers Authority) was always pretty much non-existent in the first place; and (2) even having that little connection to the US government, though, only provided tremendous fodder for foreign governments (mainly: Russia & China) to push to take control of the internet themselves. That's what that whole disastrous UN/ITU/WCIT mess was a few years back. Relinquishing the (non-existent) control, with clear parameters that internet governance wouldn't then be allowed to jump into the ITU's lap, helps on basically every point. It takes away a key reason that other countries have used to claim they need more control, and it makes it clear that internet governance needs to remain out of any particular government's control.


        In other words, as we've explained before, Ted Cruz's concerns over the internet here are completely backwards. Up is down, black is white, night is day kind of stuff. Keeping the IANA connection to the US government is the kind of thing that opens up the possibility for Russia/China to exert more control over internet governance by routing around ICANN and its flawed, but better than the alternative, "multistakeholder" setup. Moving ICANN away from the US government, with strict rules in place that basically keep it operating as is, takes away one of the key arguments that foreign countries have been using to try to seize control over key governance aspects of the internet.

        If Cruz fears foreign governments taking control of internet governance, he should do the exact opposite of what he's doing now. Let the Commerce Dept. sever the almost entirely imaginary leash it has on ICANN. Otherwise, other countries' frustration with the US's roles is a much bigger actual threat to how the internet is managed.

      • 4 reasons broadband data caps must die
        Everybody hates 'em, but more and more Americans find themselves living under the confines of broadband data caps. Each month, millions of households wrestle with balancing their internet use against staying under their usage limits.

        As the number of users affected by data caps grows, so do the number of complaints. FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler said the agency has been looking at data caps: "It's not a new topic to us, that's for damn sure," he said. But regulators and legislators have yet to do anything about them -- and they should. Here's why.

    • DRM

      • Why the proprietary MQA music encoding system is better than DRM, but still not good
        In June 2016, I wrote about the MQA proprietary closed-source music encoding system and shared my thoughts on why I felt the system is not a good thing. Since then, I've been reading more about MQA so this month I'll share additional thoughts.

      • Analog: The Last Defense Against DRM
        With the recent iPhone 7 announcement, Apple confirmed what had already been widely speculated: that the new smartphone won’t have a traditional, analog headphone jack. Instead, the only ways to connect the phone to an external headset or speaker will be via Bluetooth, through the phone’s AirPlay feature, or through Apple’s proprietary Lightning port.

        Apple’s motivations for abandoning the analog jack are opaque, but likely benign. Apple is obsessed with simple, clean design, and this move lets the company remove one more piece of clutter from the phone’s body. The decision may also have been a part of the move to a water-resistant iPhone. And certainly, many people choose a wireless listening experience.

        But removing the port will change how a substantial portion of iPhone owners listen to audio content—namely, by simply plugging in a set of headphones. By switching from an analog signal to a digital one, Apple has potentially given itself more control than ever over what people can do with music or other audio content on an iPhone. We hope that Apple isn’t unwittingly opening the door to new pressures to take advantage of that power.

        When you plug an audio cable into a smartphone, it just works. It doesn’t matter whether the headphones were made by the same manufacturer as the phone. It doesn’t even matter what you’re trying to do with the audio signal—it works whether the cable is going into a speaker, a mixing board, or a recording device.

    • Intellectual Monopolies

      • Changes to the Cider House Fight Club Patent Rules of Engagement the Game UK IPO
        The UK IPO will now be providing advance notice of grant to applicants. They will be issuing a communication informing an applicant that his/her application meets all requirements and will therefore proceed to grant. This will typically be 1 month’s notice, but 2 months’ if issued as the first examination report (as currently is the case).

        This will bring the UK procedure closer in line with the familiar Rule 71(3) EPC procedure at the EPO. Importantly, the change will give applicants a guaranteed period to decide whether to file a divisional application before the “allowed” application grants, and so stop divisional “foreshadowing” i.e. raising the possibility to the examiner that a divisional application might be of interest in a response to an examination report, and asking for time to decide before they grant the case.

      • General Court upholds Lundbeck pay-for-delay fine
        Fines of nearly €150 million imposed on pharmaceutical company Lundbeck and a number of generic rivals by the European Commission have been upheld by the EU General Court. The Court's decisions are the first to find that pay-for-delay agreements breach EU antitrust rules

      • Copyrights

        • TorrentFreak Gets Its First YouTube Copyright Claim, And It’s Bull….

          After having covered many YouTube copyright and Content-ID horrors stories, we can now share a personal experience. A few days ago we uploaded the archive of old TorrentFreak TV episodes to YouTube and within hours we received our very first copyright claim. Ironically, it's from a friend of the site and one of the last people we expected.

        • The Copyright Office Acts As Hollywood's Lobbying Arm... Because That's Basically How It's Been Designed
          Last month, we wrote about a blog post by Public Knowledge questioning why the Copyright Office kept acting like a lobbying firm for Hollywood, often stepping into issues where it has no business and almost always pushing the Hollywood viewpoint. It turns out that was just a sneak peak of a much larger report that PK has now released on The Consequences of Regulatory Capture at the Copyright Office. The full 50-page report is worth a thorough read.

          It details the obvious bits concerning the revolving door between copyright maximalists and the Copyright Office, with much of top management coming from jobs in the entertainment industries, and then many former top Copyright Office folks going right back into that industry upon leaving. But the more interesting part of the report is looking at how frequently the Copyright Office appears to blatantly misinterpret copyright law in an attempt to expand what the law actually covers.

        • The FCC Has a Plan to Free Us From Our Cable Boxes
          If you do cable TV, you’re a renter. You need that set-top-box that connects the cable to your television, and chances are, your cable company won’t let you buy the thing. You’re forced to rent it, paying that monthly fee for years on end, shelling out far more than that box is really worth. But that might change.

          Today, the Federal Communications Commission unveiled a proposal that would force pay-TV providers to offer apps that let you bypass set-top-boxes altogether. Instead of plugging a set-top-box into your TV, you could just use cable through a device of your choice, like a Roku, an Xbox, or a Google Chromecast stick. Plus, you could watch on all sorts of other devices, like phones and tablets. If the new proposal passes, you say goodbye to that monthly fee forever.

          It may seem a little late to do something about this particular problem, given that analysts say more people are now cutting the pay TV cord. But there are still tens of millions of people paying for the tube, and the average subscriber pays $231 a year for the things, according to the Federal Communications Commission, and cost the country about $20 billion annually.

        • FCC Unveils Plan to ‘Unlock’ Set-Top Boxes After Brawl With Big Cable
          The Federal Communications Commission unveiled its long-awaited proposal to increase competition in the video “set-top box” market on Thursday, but the agency’s “compromise” plan faces no guarantee of final approval after months of furious pushback from the cable and entertainment industries.

          FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler has made it a priority to break the cable industry’s dominance of the cable set-top box market, which forces most consumers to pay an average of $231 per year to rent these old-school devices, pouring nearly $20 billion annually into the coffers of Comcast, Charter and other industry giants, according to a 2015 Senate report.

        • Comcast Already Whining About New FCC Cable Box Plan, Despite It Being The Cable Industry's Idea
          We've noted how the FCC's plan to bring competition to the cable box fell apart over the last few months, thanks to a massive disinformation effort by the cable industry involving a flood of hugely misleading editorials and some help from the US Copyright Office. In short the cable industry used a sound wall of hired voices to claim that cable box competition would hurt consumer privacy, violate copyright, result in a huge spike in piracy, and was even racist. Despite these claims being nonsense, the unprecedented PR campaign managed to sway several FCC Commissioners that had originally voted yes on the proposal.

        • MPAA Freaks Out In Response To FCC's Revised Set Top Box Plan
          Except, of course, there's nothing in there that's a copyright issue at all (just as there was nothing in the original proposal). The new proposal doesn't impact copyright licensing at all. Just read it. It only requires that TV providers offer apps that are fully controlled by the provider, enabling subscribers to then access licensed content. There is no infringement here. There is no compulsory license. The TV providers still have the same license they've always had with the content providers. The end users still have the same contract they've always had with the TV providers. The only difference is that end users might not have to rent expensive boxes any more, and now the TV providers will make apps available to those subscribers, which can work on various boxes to access the same licensed content.

          The complaint here is really about the loss of control for the cable providers and the ability to shake down the public in renting boxes. The MPAA's ridiculous complaint seems to be that it doesn't like the content being made available on new devices without some sort of additional payment. But that's not the law, and it's certainly not copyright law. For years, we've known that it's legal to use other devices to access content -- the VCR and DVRs have both been declared legal. The MPAA's complaint here is basically that it doesn't like the fact that those court cases have gone against it, and it's trying to pretend they did not.

        • Why the Pirate Party could end up running Iceland
          With the Icelandic Pirates crushing it in the polls and set to form the next government of a sovereign, carbon-neutral, strategically located nation, it's worth asking how a party whose two issues -- internet freedom and copyright reform -- are wonky, minority interests rose to prominence.

          The answer is a combination of the contemptuous, naked corruption of the Icelandic establishment -- the people who helped destroy the world's economy -- and the Pirates' flexibility, frankness and basic decency.

        • ISP Deletes IP-address Logs to Fend Off Piracy “Extortion Letters”
          Swedish Internet service provider Bahnhof continues to fight against copyright holders that target alleged file-sharers. The company explains that it has setup its logging policies in such as way that it can refuse requests for IP-address information from so-called copyright trolls, suggesting that other ISPs should follow suit.

        • Freedom to link threatened by EU court decision and copyright plans
          Today, the European Court of Justice significantly curtailed the freedom to hyperlink – one of the basic building blocks of the web. Together with the new special copyright protection for news articles the European Commission is planning to propose next week, the ability of Europeans to point to things online without having to fear breaking a law is in peril.

          Could the following message soon be commonplace on the European internet? Read on for details.

        • GS Media decision gives ammunition to copyright owners
          Copyright owners may be emboldened to take action against sites that provide links to infringing content following the CJEU's ruling in the GS Media case. The dispute involved hyperlinks to sites hosting photos of a Playboy model

        • EU Court: Not-For-Profit Hyperlinking Usually Not Copyright Infringement

          A ruling from the European Court of Justice has clarified when the posting of hyperlinks to infringing works is to be considered a 'communication to the public'. Those who post links to content they do not know is infringing in a non-commercial environment can relax, but for those doing so during the course of business the rules are much tighter.
        • Status of the hyperlink: (hyper) disappointing decision of the ECJ
          The European Court of Justice published today an important decision on the legal status of hypertext links, a key element of the Web. Sadly, it has chosen to discard the conclusion of the General Attorney, by ruling that posting a link to content illegally published online is a copyright infraction. This jurisprudence has contributed to weaken hyperlinks and how the Web works, at a moment were the European Commission is also questioning the liberty to link.

        • European Copyright Ruling Ushers in New Dark Era for Hyperlinks
          In a case which threatens to cause turmoil for thousands if not millions of websites, the Court of Justice of the European Union decided today that a website that merely links to material that infringes copyright, can itself be found guilty of copyright infringement, provided only that the operator knew or could reasonably have known that the material was infringing. Worse, they will be presumed to know of this if the links are provided for "the pursuit of financial gain".

          The case, GS Media BV v. Sanoma, concerned a Dutch news website, GeenStijl, that linked to leaked pre-publication photos from Playboy magazine, as well as publishing a thumbnail of one of them. The photos were hosted not by GeenStijl itself but at first by an Australian image hosting website, then later by Imageshack, and subsequently still other web hosts, with GeenStijl updating the links as the copyright owner had the photos taken down from one image host after another.

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