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Links 9/9/2017: SUSE Linux Enterprise 12 SP3, Zorin OS 12.2

GNOME bluefish



  • Spaghetti Code Strikes Again
    These episodes continue to convince me I was right to choose GNU/Linux as my operating system. Instead of motivation by greed and abuse of power of monopoly the authours of my OS are working to create the best OS they can. That’s a recipe for success whereas M$ continues to paint itself and all its users into a corner where there’s no easy exit except starting over and they foolishly resist that as more work than the infinite pain of using spaghetti code forever.

  • Desktop

    • Chrome OS Will Soon Allow All Chromebook Owners to Rename USB Flash Drives
      Google's Chromium evangelist François Beaufort is back with more goodies for Chromebook owners, recently revealing the fact that future versions of Chrome OS will allow users to rename attached USB flash drives.

    • GNU/Linux in Ukraine: A Look Back and a Glimpse into the Future
      Failure to understand the very concept of free software (e.g., “How can it be any good if it’s free?” or “Unless you get for free something that otherwise costs a lot of money, it must not be worth anything”) as well as the prevalence of Windows and resistance to learning something new are the principal reasons why GNU/Linux had trouble getting a foothold in Ukraine for a while. One’s thinking would typically go as follows: “What is the point of downloading some confusing operating system if I can install the trusty – and also free – Windows which is so familiar after two decades of using it (never mind that it is pirated)? No learning new tricks for this ol’ dog! I do not want to try new things! Those who say that the other operating system is superior in some ways can keep it, as I am very content with what I have, thank you very much!”

      Despite this inauspicious beginning, the attitude toward GNU/Linux recently began to change, albeit slowly. The “Revolution of Dignity” – which is how the surge of popular resistance that toppled the corrupt regime of Victor Yanukovych came to be known – was a watershed moment. Following the Revolution of Dignity, Ukraine chose a European vector of development and opened up to new opportunities. People began to change. In the past, hardly anybody bothered to think that not littering or being courteous toward one another was the right thing to do, or that all people were equal, and no one was inferior because of one’s skin color, creed, or sexual orientation, among others. Now, one can see palpable evidence that democratic and liberal values are being internalized and are slowly beginning to shape people’s attitudes.

    • Talos II available for pre-order
      This is a very affordable machine for how powerful it will be, and there are minimal mainboard + CPU + RAM bundles (e.g., this one), around which one can build a workstation with more readily-available parts. I’ve placed an order for one of the bundles, and will buy the chassis and GPU separately (mainly to avoid high cross-border shipping fees for the full workstation).

  • Server

    • Google, Pivotal partner to wield open-source, build consistent target for cloud developers
      Working across clouds can be a tricky business. A company’s clouds might come from different providers, run in private or in public, or just be highly customized to work with mission-critical legacy applications.

    • 5 advantages of containers for writing applications
      Even could not have done a better job finding a mate for microservices. Microservices – single-function services built by small teams, independent from other functions, and communicating only through public interfaces – simply make a great match for containers. Microservices plus containers represent a shift to delivering applications through modular services that can be reused and rewired to perform new tasks.

  • Audiocasts/Shows

  • Kernel Space

    • Reiser4 Is Now Ready For Linux 4.13
      For those wanting to use the Reiser4 file-system with the just-released Linux 4.13 kernel, patches are already available.

      Less than one week after the release of the Linux 4.13 stable kernel, Edward Shishkin has already released an updated patch for the out-of-tree Reiser4 file-system for working with this new stable series.

    • Linux 4.12.11
      I'm announcing the release of the 4.12.11 kernel.

      All users of the 4.12 kernel series must upgrade.

      The updated 4.12.y git tree can be found at: git:// linux-4.12.y and can be browsed at the normal git web browser:

    • Linux 4.9.48

    • Linux 4.4.87

    • Linux 3.18.70

    • Stable kernels 4.12.11, 4.9.48, 4.4.87, and 3.18.70
      Greg Kroah-Hartman has released the 4.12.11, 4.9.48, 4.4.87, and 3.18.70 stable kernels. As usual, there are fixes throughout the tree and users of those series should upgrade.

    • All the Facts about Linux Long-Term Support Releases [Ed: and soon Linux 4.14 (LTS)]
      Long Term Support (LTS) releases are as old as software. However, Canonical, the company behind Ubuntu, was the first to use the term, and now other open source projects, including the Linux kernel and many distributions, distinguish between LTS, regular, and rolling releases, each of which has different advantages and appeal to a different class of user.

      Many users are content with regular releases every six to 18 months. Others who demand the very latest, prefer rolling releases, in which each package is updated whenever it is ready. By contrast, as the term implies, LTS releases are supported longer periods — typically, two to five years, although Canonical also offers Extended Security Maintenance as a paid service for another two years.

      LTS releases are supported through their specified support duration by security updates, bug fixes, backports, and new device drivers, just like a regular release, although in some projects like Debian, they do not have point releases, which means that how and when fixes are applied can be different than in a regular release. Similarly, LTS releases may support only the most popular hardware architectures supported by regular releases.

    • Optimizations For Microsoft's Hyper-V In Linux 4.14

    • BFQ & CFQ Improvements Land In Linux 4.14
      Linus Torvalds has pulled in the block layer updates for the Linux 4.14 kernel merge window.

      Jens Axboe considers the new block material for Linux 4.14 to be a "quiet series", but there still are some hearty updates.

    • Zstd Compression For Btrfs & Squashfs Set For Linux 4.14, Already Used Within Facebook
      As we've been expecting, Zstd compression for Btrfs is coming with the Linux 4.14 along with Zstd support in SquashFS.

    • Graphics Stack

      • Lenovo Announces New ThinkPads With AMD APUs
        For the many of you Linux users that have been desiring an AMD laptop, things could get interesting with Lenovo having just announced the ThinkPad A-Series.

        The ThinkPad A-Series is powered by AMD PRO hardware and initially consists of the ThinkPad A275 and A475. The A275 comes in at 2.9 lbs / 1.31 kg with a 12.5-inch display while the A475 is at 3.48 lbs / 1.57 kg with a 14-inch display. Both models offer up to 512GB NVMe SSD or 1TB HDD, USB Type-C, and other modern features.

      • xf86-video-amdgpu 1.4.0 / xf86-video-ati 7.10.0 Released
        Michel Dänzer of AMD has released updated stable versions of their AMDGPU and Radeon X.Org DDX drivers today.

      • Early Work Bringing VCE1 Video Encode To AMDGPU DRM
        There's more good news about work-in-progress patches for those GCN 1.0 owners that have been looking to get your graphics card running full-featured under the AMDGPU DRM driver rather than the existing Radeon Direct Rendering Manager driver.

    • Benchmarks

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

      • Developing KDE PIM with Docker
        Getting started with contributing to KDE PIM can be hard – we have nearly 60 repositories with complicated dependencies – just getting that right can discourage many people from even trying. And then there’s, of course, the risk factor of running development build alongside your production Kontact, endangering your precious emails.

        To address all these issues I have created a Docker image. It’s based on the KDE Neon Developer edition and it has all the dependencies pre-installed and pre-configured and comes with a set of handy shell scripts to make your life easier. It also has the environment set up properly so that you can run the development build of Kontact inside of the container – completely isolated from your production installation.

        Interested now? Follow the instructions how to build the Docker image and how to run the container on our KDE PIM Docker wiki page.

      • In-pane preview of Qt UI files with KUIViewer coming up
        The “Live Preview” plugin for the editors/IDEs Kate & KDevelop (see introduction) makes use of KParts plugins to support different file formats. Thus it can also pick up the range of existing KParts implementations out there right from the start.

      • Google Summer of Code Certificate
        I just received my certificate of completion and very proud of contributing to digiKam in KDE this summer, and grateful to Google, the people of KDE and my mentors for making this possible.

      • KBibTeX 0.7-beta1
        After some delay, I am finally pushing forward towards a final release of KBibTeX for KDE 4. The first step is the tagging and releasing of tar balls for version 0.7's Beta 1.

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK

      • The Magic of GObject Introspection
        When we started GNOME in 1997, we didn't want to write all of it in C. We had some inspiration from elsewhere.

      • Approaching 3.26
        So, we're on final stretch towards the GNOME 3.26 release next week, just released the last beta of Maps (3.25.92) earlier in the week. This cycle hasn't seen that any real ground-breaking user-visible changes. But various smaller bugfixes. Nevertheless there's been a few nice improvements on the surface (as seen in earlier blogposts).

  • Distributions

    • Reviews

      • The Beautiful Nitrux Linux Distro Could Be a Contender
        What happens when you take Ubuntu 17.10, a new desktop interface (one that overlays on top of KDE), snap packages, and roll them all up into a pseudo rolling release? You get Nitrux. At first blush, this particular Linux distribution seems more of an experiment than anything else — to show how much the KDE desktop can be tweaked to resemble the likes of the Elementary OS or MacOS desktops. At its heart, however, it’s much more than that.

        First and foremost, Nitrux makes use of snap packages; so installing software is handled a bit differently than the norm. Even though Nitrux is based on Ubuntu, apt install isn’t what you want to use (although it is available).

    • New Releases

      • BlackArch Linux Ethical Hacking Distro Updated with More Than 50 New Tools
        The developers of the BlackArch Linux operating system designed for ethical hacking and penetration testing purposes have released an updated installation medium, versioned 2017.08.30, based the latest Arch Linux snapshot.

      • Zorin OS 12.2 Released – Our Most Advanced Operating System Ever
        We’re pleased to announce the release of Zorin OS 12.2. This version brings new innovations from the Open Source community together with a familiar user interface, requiring nearly no learning curve for PC users. We have focused on refining the desktop environment and core technologies, readying the system for new classes of users seeking a faster, more powerful, and secure computing experience.

      • Want to switch from Windows 10 to Linux? Download Zorin OS 12.2 with Microsoft Office support
        Windows 10 isn't a bad operating system, but understandably, not everyone loves it. You know what? That is OK. People have different likes and needs, and sometimes an alternative to Microsoft's operating system, such as Ubuntu, macOS, or Chrome OS can be a better fit.

        If you want to switch to Linux, there is no shortage of operating systems based on the kernel. With that said, many of them aren't very user friendly. If you have lived your life using Windows, it is wise to choose a Linux distro that caters to your habits and expectations. One such operating system with a very inviting user interface is Zorin OS, and today, version 12.2 sees release. If you have been on the fence regarding Linux, now might be your time.

      • Zorin Takes Aim at Windows and macOS with Upgraded Operating System

    • Gentoo Family

      • Elivepatch Aims To Make Live Kernel Patching Easier On Gentoo
        Elivepatch is a new means of live kernel patching of Gentoo Linux and works in a distributed manner.

        Elivepatch offers distributed live patch building via a client/server model and allows for automatic live patching of Linux kernel CVEs and allows for incremental live patching.

    • Arch Family

      • Manjaro 17.0.4 released (G, K, X)
        Manjaro Gellivara was a great release! Now we are proud to announce v17.0.4, our hopefully final release of Gellivara. We found some issues with our graphical package managers and installer, the shipped Mesa-Stack in combination with KDE and decided therefore to fix those with a new release of our ISOs. These ISOs also include all other updates from today’s stable release.

    • OpenSUSE/SUSE

    • Red Hat Family

      • Red Hat speed fiends celebrate automation
        While tech luminaries fret about the world-killing potential of self-directed computers amid galas and globetrotting, the industry's worker bees see automation as salvation from soul-killing drudgery.

        So it was at AnsibleFest in San Francisco on Thursday, which proved to be more sysadmin speed evangelism than freewheeling festival – the substructure of the Marriott Marquis hotel, while spacious, fell short of a rave.

        Ansible refers to an instantaneous communications device imagined by author Ursula Le Guin and to, among other things, open source IT automation software acquired by Red Hat in 2015.

      • DHS S&T awards $8.6 Million for five mobile application security R&D projects
        Red Hat, Inc., of Raleigh, North Carolina and Kryptowire, LLC of Fairfax, Virginia jointly were awarded $1,902,750 to integrate security throughout the entire mobile app development lifecycle.

      • Red Hat-Kryptowire Team to Support DHS’ Mobile App Security Project; Paul Smith Comments
        Both companies aim to create a framework for security and privacy compliance automation in the mobile app life cycle as part of the Mobile Application Security project managed by DHS’ science and technology directorate, Red Hat said Wednesday.

        “Mobile devices — including smartphones and tablets — are used across government agencies, but these devices and the mobile apps that run on them require a unique approach to security,” said Paul Smith, senior vice president and general manager of Red Hat’s public sector business.

      • New story: Savaged by Systemd

        Yesterday, I put a short story up as an ebook. This was a wild experiment that I wrote on a whim.

      • Chad Perrin (Loveland, CO)’s review of Savaged by Systemd: an Erotic Unix Encounter

      • The Role of Culture in Defining DevOps
        A big part of adopting DevOps involves changing an organization’s culture. At Open Source Summit in Los Angeles, Matt Micene will host a birds of a feather session discussing how and why culture change occurs and why collaboration is the cornerstone of successfully implementing new practices.

        Micene, a Senior Evangelist at Red Hat, has more than 15 years of experience in information technology, ranging from architecture and system design to data center design. He has a deep understanding of key technologies, such as containers, cloud computing, and virtualization. In this interview, Micene describes some of the challenges of DevOps adoption and the need for culture change.

      • Ansible DevOps program gets upgraded
        When Red Hat bought the DevOps program Ansible, the company did so because it thought Ansible's automation capabilities, together with Red Hat's cloud and managing portfolio, would make a powerful one-two punch. It was right. Now, with several new Ansible innovations, the pair is helping enterprise customers harness the power of automation organization-wide -- from IT operations to development to network administration.

      • Red Hat Extends Ansible Automation Framework to Networking
        At the AnsibleFest 2017 conference, Red Hat for the first time is adding the ability to automate network management to its open source IT automation framework in addition to updating Ansible Tower, the version of the Ansible Engine framework that is designed to allow IT organizations to automate IT functions at enterprise scale.

        Justin Nemmers, general manager of Ansible, says that Ansible Engine, also known as Ansible Core, can now be employed to automate the management of Arista, Cisco and Juniper networking software as well as instances of Open vSwitch and VyOS.

        “This is the first time we’re moving into network automation,” says Nemmers.

        That’s critical, says Nemmers, because many IT organizations are finding themselves trying to manage islands of server, storage and networking automation. Ansible is now providing an opportunity to unify the management of IT infrastructure.

      • Finance

      • Fedora

        • That thing that makes KubeVirt a little different - or the Kubernetes virtualization API.
          And to close the loop: The API is pretty independent of the runtime, and this tells me that in the end it is not that important how the VMs are run - with a runtime in a pod or via a CRI based runtime. The important bit is, that with KubeVirt the user is given the full controll over his VMs.

          Side note - Instead of a dedicated API, there is also the option to extend the pod specification using annotations to cover the virtualization specific properties. The issue is, that this does not scale, and will bloat the pod specification.

          Thus, the next time you are encountering this topic, you might want to think of KubeVirt as the Kubernetes virtualization API.

        • Qubes OS part 2

        • Outreachy 2017: Mentors and ideas needed
          The Fedora Project is participating in the upcoming round of Outreachy as a mentoring organization and is looking for project ideas and mentors. Outreachy provides three-month internships for people from groups traditionally underrepresented in tech. Interns could be university students, technical school graduates, people switching careers, or people coming back to tech after starting a family or another long absence. Interns work remotely with mentors on projects ranging from programming, user experience, documentation, illustration and graphical design, to data science.

        • Applications for winter Outreachy internships open

        • Outreachy Begins Soliciting For 2017 Winter Internships
          With the Outreachy Summer 2017 internship period wrapping up, the application period has opened for the Outreachy Winter 2017 internship program.

          If you are looking to get involved with free software development but missed out on a past Outreachy round or Google Summer of Code, the winter internship period is running from now through 23 Ocober for applications. For those accepted, the actual program runs from 5 December to 5 March 2018. Those participating are paid $5,500 USD plus a $500 travel stipend.

    • Debian Family

      • Derivatives

        • Canonical/Ubuntu

          • Ubuntu GNOME Shell in Artful: Day 10
            It’s time for the 10th update iteration on how we are progressing in your new GNOME Shell Ubuntu Artful default session. This one is about Control Center updates to latest GNOME version. For more background on this, you can refer back to our decisions regarding our default session experience as discussed in my blog post.

          • Trying Out Ubuntu 17.10 On A Laptop One Month Ahead Of Release
            Curious around the GNOME Shell desktop and improvements made during the Ubuntu 17.10 cycle in transitioning away from Unity 7 and X.Org to GNOME and Wayland, I took the recently-reviewed Razer Blade Stealth laptop and tried out the very latest Ubuntu desktop daily ISO on this Intel laptop. Here are my initial impressions of the current Ubuntu 17.10 desktop experience as well as some power/boot/performance benchmarks of 17.10 in its daily state compared to Ubuntu 17.04 on this Kabylake system.

          • Mark Shuttleworth Interviewed on BBC News
            It’s not everyday that you get to tune in to mainstream TV news and see Mark Shuttleworth on screen, chatting about life aboard the International Space Station.

            It certainly added a bit of pep to my cornflakes this morning!

            The Ubuntu founder was being interviewed by BBC Business Live‘s Susannah Streeter and Sally Bundock as part of their ‘Inside Track’ strand which focuses on well-known business figures and entrepreneurs.

            Despite introducing him as “one of the world’s most influential tech thinkers” and an “outspoken advocate of open-source software” the presenters (understandably) couldn’t resist probing Shuttleworth about his time in space. bbc interview mark shuttleworth

          • Ubuntu Desktop Weekly Update: September 8, 2017
            GNOME Shell 3.25.91 is now in Artful in preparation for the move to 3.26 before release.

            We’re adding notification badge support to the Dock extension. This branch has been proposed to the upstream project and is awaiting review.

            We’ve packaged the KStatusNotifier extension to provide support for indicators. This will provide support for apps which use libappindicators which was removed from GNOME 3.26. You can read more about this here.

            Didier has also been tidying up the work we did at the Fit and Finish hackfest and you can see more about that here.

  • Devices/Embedded

Free Software/Open Source

  • Next US Elections: Open Source vs. Commercial Software?
    Meanwhile, the city this year will pay Dominion Voting Systems $2.3 million to renew its contract for the company's proprietary voting machine software. That system is nearing the end of its life cycle.

    Officials hope a move to open source will make San Francisco's voting software more transparent and secure, as well as less costly. The expectation is that an open source voting machine program would offer more security against hack attacks. If the city should develop its own system, it then could provide the code to other cities.

  • Streamlio bundles open-source projects into real-time streaming engine for enterprises
    Startup Streamlio Inc. is betting that organizations are ready for real-time streaming architectures to process their basic data needs, and now it has brought three of the latest open-source technologies to bear on the process.

    The company’s new real-time analytics suite incorporates the Apache Pulsar publish-and-subscribe engine with Heron, a real-time, distributed, fault-tolerant stream processing engine originally developed at Twitter Inc. and Apache BookKeeper, a low-latency storage service designed for real-time workloads. The combination is “the only enterprise-grade messaging solution optimized for streaming and storage,” said Streamlio co-founder and Chief Executive Lewis Kaneshiro.

  • OpenStack Pike Cloud Platform Still Provides AWS Compatibility Layer
    The latest release of the OpenStack cloud platform landed on Aug. 30 with the debut of OpenStack Pike. While there are many incremental feature improvements in Pike, there is at least one key feature noteworthy in that it hasn't been removed. That feature is Amazon Web Services (AWS) API compatibility.

    Though the OpenStack Foundation and its member companies rarely talk about AWS compatibility, it's a feature OpenStack has long supported.

  • 3 industries relying on Apache Kafka
    Apache Kafka is a distributed publish-subscribe messaging system designed to be fast, scalable, and durable. It provides a unified, high-throughput, low-latency platform for handling real-time data feeds and has a storage layer that is essentially a massively scalable pub/sub message queue architected as a distributed transaction log. That architecture makes Kafka, which was originally developed by LinkedIn and made open source in early 2011, highly valuable for enterprise infrastructures to process streaming data.

    Originally, Kafka was built for website activity tracking—capturing all the clicks, actions, or inputs on a website and enabling multiple "consumers" to subscribe to real-time updates of that information. Now, however, companies in internet services, financial services, entertainment, and other industries have adapted Kafka's massively scalable architecture and applied it to valuable business data.

  • The Faces of Open Source: Jim Wright
    Jim is a powerhouse of knowledge in open source. He is fully versed in technical issues and deeply experienced in legal matters, both visible immediately in his quick, easy and comprehensive commentary around virtually any open source-related subject. Our discussion was framed by the same three questions as all the others in season one: how did he enter open source? what was the most interesting thing he observed? what did he think we should keep our eyes open for in the next 12 to 24 months? What stood out is perhaps how Jim tied his answers to the longer history of open source itself, and framed his answers in the content of our 20 plus year evolution as a community.

    One thing that Jim’s interview highlighted was that there was plenty of scope for deeper, more comprehensive interviews as we explored open source law, and he helped set the tone that would see a decision to shoot long-form interviews in the forthcoming series two.

  • TraneAi To Launch ICO for $50M in Tokens to Seed the First Open-Source AI-Development Ecosystem Built on Blockchain
    TraneAi, an emerging player in the rapidly expanding artificial-intelligence market, today announced that it will offer the sale of $50 million in tokens to seed the first decentralized, open-source AI-development ecosystem built on Blockchain technology.

    TraneAi will use funds raised to build out an ecosystem that allows participants around the globe to collaborate to develop AI-powered solutions such as chatbots, virtual assistants, news generators and other intelligent systems. The initial focus will be to decentralize the AI-training process for more rapid innovation. The ecosystem will run on the Transaction Protocol for Artificial Intelligence, or TPAI, which governs how participants interact with each other and is open source so anyone can participate.

  • Events

    • FOSScamp Syros 2017 – day 3
      The 3rd day should have started with a Debian sprint and then a LibreOffice one, taking advantage I’m still attending, as that’s my last day. But plans don’t always work out and we started 2 hours later. When everybody arrive we got everyone together for a short daily meeting (scrum style). The people were divided to 3 teams for translating: Debian Installer, LibreOffice and Gnome. For each team we did a short list of what left and with what to start. And in the end – how does what so there will be no toe stepping. I was really proud with this and felt it was time well spent.

    • GUADEC 2017
      GUADEC 2017 was held in Manchester, UK. I was really exited about it, because UK is a country that I was looking forward to paying a visit to.

    • Kubernetes for the Enterprise: 1, 2, 3, Go!

    • Ceph Meetup Berlin
      I will give a presentation at the next Ceph Meetup in Berlin on the 18th of September. It will be about a exciting project we work on, at Deutsche Telekom, since a while. The goal of this open source project called librmb is to store emails directly in Ceph RADOS instead of using e.g. a NAS system.

  • Web Browsers

    • Chrome

      • Chromium Now Supports GPU Sandboxing With Radeon Graphics On Linux
        Chrome/Chromium supports GPU sandboxing for security purposes and now it will work fine with the AMD graphics on Linux.

        As explained in this Git commit that was just merged minutes ago, "Default sandboxing fails for AMD platform as the GPU process spawns multiple threads. So GPU sandboxing needs to be started early. And all dependent libraries need to be preloaded."

  • Healthcare

    • Open Source EHR Generator Delivers Healthcare Big Data with FHIR
      Healthcare data analysts frustrated by the lack of access to large volumes of clean, trusted, and complete patient data can now take advantage of an open source EHR data generator platform called Synthea.

      One million synthetic patient records are currently available within the free online system, which uses HL7 FHIR to allow access to standardized datasets that mimic real electronic health records.

      The wealth of easily accessible data may be a boon for the growing fields of machine learning and artificial intelligence, which require access to significant amounts of big data in order to train for clinical decision support, predictive analytics, and other patient care applications.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

  • Licensing/Legal

    • Court Ruling Adds New Power to Open Source Licenses
      Any organization using open source source software should make sure there is a strong open source policy in place that dots the "I"s and crosses the "T"s. Why? Because open source licenses recently became even more enforceable than they were already.

      For some time case law has made them enforceable in copyright cases. Now, with a federal district court ruling in Artifex vs. Hancom, they're clearly enforceable in contract disputes as well.

      First a little history.

      For a long time after Richard Stallman penned the first General Public License in 1989, there was a cloud with a question mark inside hanging over all open source projects. No one knew whether the license would be legally enforceable. When consulted, legal eagles were pretty much in agreement that they should be enforceable -- with the caveat that lawyers and judges have sometimes disagreed on seemingly clear points of law. Until there was a court case centered on their enforceability, they said, open source projects were in limbo.

    • Licensing woes
      On releasing modified versions of GPLv3 software in binary form only...

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

    • Open Hardware/Modding

      • SiFive and UltraSoC partner to accelerate RISC-V development through DesignShare
        The DesignShare concept enables an entirely new range of applications. Companies like SiFive, UltraSoC and other ecosystem partners have developed efficient, pre-integrated solutions to lower the upfront engineering costs required to bring a custom chip design based on the SiFive Freedom platform to realization. The partnership between SiFive, originator of the industry's first open-source chip platform, and UltraSoC, the industry leader in vendor-neutral on-chip debug and analytics tools, significantly strengthens the ecosystem surrounding RISC-V, the open source processor specification which is often dubbed "the Linux of the semiconductor industry."

  • Programming/Development

    • What is JSON? JavaScript Object Notation explained
      JavaScript Object Notation is a schema-less, text-based representation of structured data that is based on key-value pairs and ordered lists. Although JSON is derived from JavaScript, it is supported either natively or through libraries in most major programming languages. JSON is commonly, but not exclusively, used to exchange information between web clients and web servers.

      Over the last 15 years, JSON has become ubiquitous on the web. Today it is the format of choice for almost every publicly available web service, and it is frequently used for private web services as well.

    • Programming Paradigms and the Procedural Paradox
      I'm a collector of perspectives. I think each perspective we have within reach is another option we have to solve problems. We should all learn as many as possible. Each one increases the number and quality of solutions we can create.

      Programming paradigms are different perspectives on solving a problem with software. Each of the paradigms is valuable. But they seem so hard to define. People will discuss endlessly what each paradigm means, trying to be inclusive of what they consider important and what they don't. To take an example, we get definitions of functional programming which are satisfying to the definer but not to everyone. And we get people pointing fingers, saying "that's not real object-oriented programming". These discussions are unsatisfying because they rehash the same tired ideas and never reach any firm conclusions.


  • Science

  • Health/Nutrition

    • We inhale up to 10 billion mold spores daily; here’s why you haven’t died yet
      Humans inhale somewhere between 1,000 and 10 billion mold spores on an average day—let alone on days after catastrophic flooding or a Category 5 hurricane hits, when fungal flare-ups can ensue. Each one of those teeny spores has the potential to embed in our moist, warm lungs. There they can unfurl fungal tendrils that grow like kudzu, invading and engulfing our organs, slowly choking the life out of us as mold bursts from our seams.

      Luckily, our immune systems keep most of us safe from such an agonizing death. But they don’t pull it off with a bloody, fungal massacre each day—no, they use a much more dignified defense, according to a new study.

      In the lung, immune cells get cozy with invading fungal spores, then trick them into pushing their own self-destruct buttons, researchers reported Thursday in Science. When the researchers used genetic engineering to override the spore’s self-destruct system, immune cells in mice were powerless to stop the fungal infiltration.

    • Capitalism's Uncounted Health Costs
      This week's episode discusses Wonder Woman, the Archbishop's critique of the economic system in the UK, US Labor Day, the McDonald's workers strike in the UK, the economics of hurricanes and the economics of the Trump tax cut "reform." The episode also includes an interview with Dr. Harriet Fraad on how the capitalist system's impacts on health -- from stress to death -- are mostly unacknowledged in key decisions.

    • In 2009, Max Baucus Had People Arrested for Demanding Single Payer. Now He Supports It
      "My personal view is we've got to start looking at single payer," Baucus said Thursday night during an appearance at Montana State University. "I think we should have hearings…. We're getting there. It's going to happen."

      In 2009, Baucus was singing a rather different tune when he was chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, one of the most powerful positions in Congress during the healthcare debate that year. Baucus declared single payer "off the table" and had single-payer proponents arrested after they disrupted a committee hearing. Those arrested were later called the "Baucus 8."

    • The Breakthrough: Hopelessness and Exploitation Inside Homes for Mentally Ill
      In the 1960s, New York began to clear out its scandal-ridden psychiatric hospitals. In their place, a new system emerged. Thousands of mentally ill New Yorkers moved into “adult homes,” large apartment complexes concentrated mostly in New York City and its surrounding suburbs. The homes were meant to provide a safer, more humane alternative to the hospitals; they were closer to where many of the patients lived, and promised modest psychiatric care and other services.

      But decades later, that grand vision had devolved into something that looked more like a nightmare.

    • The Sickness of American Healthcare

      The recent collapse of Republican efforts to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act demonstrated that the GOP’s tireless obsessions—free market platitudes and tax cuts for the wealthy—contribute absolutely nothing to fixing the American healthcare system.

      Unfortunately, that was the only thing made clear by media coverage of the healthcare debate.

      Looking back, we are struck by the degree to which the media’s fixation on a narrative that mocks a small slice of American voters—pro-Trump voters who had new ACA coverage—deflected attention from the frustration of millions of American workers who have struggled with healthcare problems the ACA either failed to address or exacerbated.

    • FDA slams EpiPen maker for doing nothing while hundreds failed, people died
      The manufacturer of EpiPen devices failed to address known malfunctions in its epinephrine auto-injectors even as hundreds of customer complaints rolled in and failures were linked to deaths, according to the Food and Drug Administration.

  • Security

    • Security updates for Thursday

    • Security updates for Friday

    • Software to capture votes in upcoming national election is insecure

      The result of this analysis is somewhat of a „total loss“ for the software product. The CCC is publishing its findings in a report of more than twenty pages. [0] The technical details and the software used to exploit the weaknesses are published in a repository. [1]

      „Elementary principles of IT-security were not heeded to. The amount of vulnerabilities and their severity exceeded our worst expectations“, says Linus Neumann, a speaker for the CCC that was involved in the study.

    • The $3.5 Million Check Comes Due for Lenovo And Its Security-Compromising Superfish Adware
      You might recall that back in 2015, Lenovo was busted for installing a nasty bit of snoopware made by a company named Superfish on select models of the company's Thinkpad laptops. Superfish's VisualDiscovery wasn't just annoying adware however; it was so poorly designed that it effectively made all of Lenovo's customers vulnerable to HTTPS man-in-the-middle attacks that were relatively trivial for an attacker to carry out. More specifically, it installed a self-signed root HTTPS certificate that could intercept encrypted traffic for every website a user visits -- one that falsely represented itself as the official website certificate.

    • Equifax website hack exposes data for ~143 million US consumers
      Equifax, a provider of consumer credit reports, said it experienced a data breach affecting as many as 143 million US people after criminals exploited a vulnerability on its website. The US population is about 324 million people, so that's about 44 percent of its population.

      The data exposed in the hack includes names, Social Security numbers, birth dates, addresses, and, in some cases, driver license numbers. The hackers also accessed credit card numbers for 209,000 US consumers and dispute documents with personal identifying information for about 182,000 US people. Limited personal information for an unknown number of Canadian and UK residents was also exposed. Equifax—which also provides credit monitoring services for people whose personal information is exposed—said the unauthorized access occurred from mid-May through July. Equifax officials discovered the hack on July 29.

    • Why the Equifax breach is very possibly the worst leak of personal info ever
      It's a sad reality in 2017 that a data breach affecting 143 million people is dwarfed by other recent hacks—for instance, the ones hitting Yahoo in 2013 and 2014, which exposed personal details for 1 billion and 500 million users respectively; another that revealed account details for 412 million accounts on sex and swinger community site AdultFriendFinder last year; and an eBay hack in 2014 that spilled sensitive data for 145 million users.

    • Equifax Is Proving Why Forced Arbitration Clauses Ought to Be Banned, Just Like the CFPB Wants to Do
      Equifax, the credit reporting bureau that on Thursday admitted one of the largest data breaches in history, affecting 143 million U.S. consumers, is maneuvering to prevent victims from banding together to sue the company, according to consumer protection advocates and elected officials.

      Equifax is offering all those affected by the breach a free, one-year credit monitoring service called TrustedID Premier, which will watch credit reports for suspicious activity, lock and unlock Equifax credit reports, scan the internet for Social Security numbers, and add insurance for identity theft. But the service includes a forced arbitration clause, which pushes all disputes over the monitoring out of court. It also includes a waiver of the right to enter into a class-action lawsuit.

    • 'Most Brazen Corporate Wrongdoer Maneuvers in Memory': Equifax Forces Potential Victims to Give Up Legal Rights

    • Equifax and Correlatable Identifiers
      The typical response when we hear about these security problems is "why was their security so bad?" While I don't know any specifics about Equifax's security, it's likely that their security was pretty good. But the breach still occurred. Why? Because of Sutton's Law. When Willie Sutton was asked why he robbed banks, he reputedly said "cause that's where the money is."

      So long as we insist on creating huge honeypots of valuable data, hackers will continue to target them. And since no security is perfect, they will eventually succeed. Computer security is difficult because computer systems are non-linear—small errors can result in huge losses. This makes failure points difficult to detect. These failure points are not usually obvious. But hackers have a lot of motivation to find them when the prize is so large.

    • TheShadowBrokers group returns with NSA UNITEDRAKE hacking malware and promises more leaks
      UNITEDRAKE is a remote access hacking tool that can be used to target Windows machines. Modular in nature, the malware can be expanded through the use of plugins to increase its capabilities so it can capture footage from webcams, tap into microphones, capture keystrokes, and more.

    • The Shadow Brokers Unveil United Rake Toolkit and Double Monthly NSA Dump Frequency
      Most people have come to know The Shadow Brokers as a hacker collective that successfully infiltrated the NSA and took some of its goodies. Over the past year or so, we have seen most of these exploits released to the public. More powerful tools remain part of the collective’s monthly subscription service, which has been operational for nearly three months now. If certain tools could earn them money, they would much rather take that option.

      There were some interesting recent changes made by The Shadow Brokers. Instead of doing just one dump of exploits each month, they are shifting things into a higher gear. There will now be two dumps per month, which can still only be paid in ZCash. Their PDF file clearly states that they have no interest in Monero, which is pretty interesting. All of the previously issued dumps are now available for purchase as well, should someone want to see what those are all about.

      The August software is called United Rake, and it is quite a powerful tool. It is a “fully extensible remote collection system.” As one would come to expect, it is designed for the world’s most popular operating system, which is still Microsoft Windows. As is the case with every exploit unveiled by The Shadow Brokers, the release comes with its own detailed manual, allegedly created by and distributed to NSA staffers at some point.

    • Microsoft won't patch Edge browser content security bypass
      Which of Google, Apple and Microsoft think a content security bypass doesn't warrant a browser patch?

      Thanks to Cisco Talos security bod Nicolai Grødum, who found the cross-site scripting bug that affects older Chrome and Safari plus current versions of Edge, we know the answer is "Microsoft".

    • Bug in Windows Kernel Could Prevent Security Software From Identifying Malware

    • Bug In Windows Kernel Could Prevent Security Software From Identifying Malware
      "Malware developers can abuse a programming error in the Windows kernel to prevent security software from identifying if, and when, malicious modules have been loaded at runtime," reports Bleeping Computer. "The bug affects PsSetLoadImageNotifyRoutine, one of the low-level mechanisms some security solutions use to identify when code has been loaded into the kernel or user space. The problem is that an attacker can exploit this bug in a way that PsSetLoadImageNotifyRoutine returns an invalid module name, allowing an attacker to disguise malware as a legitimate operation.

    • Equifax Security Breach Is A Complete Disaster... And Will Almost Certainly Get Worse

      Okay, chances are you've already heard about the massive security breach at Equifax, that leaked a ton of important data on potentially 143 million people in the US (basically the majority of adults in America). If you haven't, you need to pay more attention to the news. I won't get into all the details of what happened here, but I want to follow a few threads:

      First, Equifax had been sitting on the knowledge of this breach since July. There is some dispute over how quickly companies should disclose breaches, and it makes sense to give companies at least some time to get everything in order before going public. But here it's not clear what Equifax actually did. The company has seemed almost comically unprepared for this announcement in so many ways. Most incredibly, the site that Equifax set up for checking if your data has been compromised (short answer: yeah, it almost certainly was...) was on a consumer hosting plan using a free shared SSL certificate, a funky domain and an anonymous Whois record. And, incredibly, it asked you for most of your Social Security Number. In short, it's set up in a nearly identical manner to a typical phishing site. Oh and it left open the fact that the site had only one user -- "Edelman" -- the name of a big PR firm.

    • Breach at Equifax May Impact 143M Americans

    • Equifax blames giant breach on vendor software flaw
      “My understanding is the breach was perpetuated via the Apache STRUTS flaw,” Meuler told The Post.

    • The hackers who broke into Equifax exploited a flaw in open-source server software
      The credit reporting agency Equifax announced on Sept. 7 that hackers stole records containing personal information on up to 143 million American consumers. The hackers behind the attack, the company said, “exploited a U.S. website application vulnerability to gain access to certain files.”

    • Apache Struts vulnerability affects versions since 2008
      A researcher discovered a remotely exploitable Apache Struts vulnerability being actively exploited in the wild and a patch was released, users urged to update software immediately.


      Man Yue Mo, researcher at the open source software project run by software analytics firm Semmle, Inc., headquartered in San Francisco, disclosed the remotely executable Apache Struts vulnerability, which he said was "a result of unsafe deserialization in Java" and could lead to arbitrary code execution. Mo originally disclosed the issue to Apache on July 17, 2017.

    • So, Equifax says your data was hacked—now what?
      Yesterday, the credit reporting agency Equifax revealed that the personal data of 143 million US consumers, as well as "limited personal information for certain UK and Canadian residents," was exposed by an attack exploiting security flaws in the company's website. Social Security numbers, dates of birth, addresses, and some drivers license numbers were all exposed—information which could be used to pose as individuals to gain access to financial accounts, open new ones in their names, or file fraudulent tax returns.

    • Are you an Equifax breach victim? You could give up right to sue to find out [Updated]
      By all accounts, the Equifax data breach is, as we reported Thursday, "very possibly the worst leak of personal info ever." The incident affects possibly as many as 143 million people.

      The breach, via a security flaw on the Equifax website, included full names, Social Security numbers, birth dates, addresses, and driver license numbers in some cases. Many of the affected consumers have never even directly done business with the giant consumer credit reporting agency.

    • Equifax won’t bar consumers from joining lawsuits related to breach
      Equifax announced on Friday it will not stop consumers from moving to join a class action lawsuit against the company, which suffered a severe breach on Thursday when hackers gained action to personal information belonging to 143 million people.

      The firm's was forced to clarify its terms of service after it faced backlash when it appeared that in order to receive credit protection, consumers affected by the breach would have to give up their right to join a lawsuit over the hack.

  • Defence/Aggression

    • ‘I Smell Cash’: How the A.T.F. Spent Millions Unchecked

    • A New Hole in Syria-Sarin Certainty
      The U.S. mainstream media is treating a new United Nations report on the April 4 chemical weapons incident in Khan Sheikhoun as more proof of Syrian government guilt, but that ignores a major contradiction between two groups of U.N. investigators that blows a big hole in the groupthink.

    • Yemen: Hiding Behind Coalition’s Unlawful Attacks

      Members of the Saudi-led coalition have sought to avoid international legal liability by refusing to provide information on their role in alleged unlawful airstrikes in Yemen, Human Rights Watch said today. In 2017, Human Rights Watch wrote to the coalition and its current and former members urging them to release information on their investigations and findings of laws-of-war violations as required by international law. None have replied.

      The coalition’s unwillingness to conduct serious investigations into alleged violations of the laws of war was evident in its response to airstrikes on apartment buildings in Sanaa, the capital, on August 25 that killed or wounded more than two dozen civilians.

      “No coalition member can claim clean hands in Yemen until all its members explain their role in scores of documented unlawful attacks,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. “It borders on the absurd for the coalition to claim its own investigations are credible when it refuses to release even basic information like which countries participated in an attack and whether anyone has been held accountable.”

    • Yemen: An “entirely man-made catastrophe” – UN human rights report urges international investigation
      Human rights violations and abuses continue unabated in Yemen, along with unrelenting violations of international humanitarian law, with civilians suffering deeply the consequences of an “entirely man-made catastrophe”, according to a UN human rights report published on Tuesday.

      The report, mandated by the UN Human Rights Council, records violations and abuses of human rights and international humanitarian law over three years, since September 2014. Between March 2015, when the UN Human Rights Office began reporting on civilian casualties, and 30 August, at least 5,144 civilians have been documented as killed and more than 8,749 injured.* Children accounted for 1,184 of those who were killed and 1,592 of those injured. Coalition airstrikes continued to be the leading cause of child casualties as well as overall civilian casualties. Some 3, 233 of the civilians killed were reportedly killed by Coalition forces.

      In addition to markets, hospitals, schools, residential areas, and other public and private infrastructure, the past year witnessed airstrikes against funeral gatherings and small civilian boats. Such incidents were widespread, the report states.

    • Why White Nationalists Love Bashar al-Assad
      It shouldn’t be surprising that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has become an idol among white nationalists in the United States.

      During the white nationalist “Unite the Right” rally several weeks ago in Charlottesville, Virginia, Baked Alaska, an infamous far-right YouTuber, livestreamed an encounter with a demonstrator wearing a T-shirt that read “Bashar’s Barrel Delivery Co.” The shirt alluded to the Assad regime’s frequent, horrific use of barrel bombs — weapons employed to indiscriminately target rebel-held areas of Syria.

      That rally-goer shouted, “Support the Syrian Arab Army!” and “Assad did nothing wrong!” They gloated over how Assad can “solve this whole ISIS problem” with just two chemical bombs. James Fields, the 20-year-old white supremacist who allegedly rammed his car into a crowd of counterprotesters, killing Heather Heyer, posted a portrait of Assad, in military regalia and aviator sunglasses to Facebook. A superimposed caption read: “UNDEFEATED.”

      There’s a simple explanation for how the American far-right became curiously infatuated with the Arab totalitarian leader: Their hearts were won over by the Assad family’s years-old propaganda campaign at home in Syria. Assad’s authoritarianism uses the same buzzwords as the far-right to describe the society he’s trying to build in his own country — a pure, monolithic society of devotees to his own power. American neo-Nazis see Assad as a hero.

    • Thirsting for War, CNN's Jake Tapper Turned to Strange and Shady Syria Sources
      While posing as one of the most dogged critics of the Trump administration in cable news, CNN's Jake Tapper has emerged as one of the American national security state's most loyal conduits. Tapper broke into the media covering politics for the progressive outlet,, where his editor, David Talbot, described him as a cynical careerist and a "groupie" of the Senate's most militaristic member, Sen. John McCain. These days, scarcely a single episode of Tapper's "The Lead" goes by without an extended segment promoting regime change in one of the countries in Washington's crosshairs.

      In the final months of the Obama administration, as the Syrian government and its Russian allies appeared poised to retake eastern Aleppo from a collection of Salafi and Salafi-jihadist insurgents, Tapper became a one-man Mighty Wurlizter for the Syrian opposition and interventionists seeking war against Damascus. For months, the CNN host spouted off a stream of half-truths, deceptions and straight up falsehoods, while leaning on a 7-year-old girl and a shady opposition lobbyist as his go-to regional experts.

    • The Syrian War is Ending and Assad is the Victor
      A message came through from Syria on my mobile phone last week. “General Khadour kept his promise,” it read. I knew what it meant.

      Five years ago, I met Mohamed Khadour, who was commanding a few Syrian soldiers in a small suburb of Aleppo, under fire from Islamist fighters in the east of the city. At the time, he showed me his map. He’d recapture these streets in 11 days, he said.

      And then in July this year, I met Khadour again, far out in the east of the Syrian desert. He was, he said, going to enter the besieged city of Deir ez-Zor before the end of August. I reminded him, a trifle cruelly, that the last time he told me he’d recapture part of Aleppo in 11 days, it took the Syrian army more than four years to retake. That was long ago, he said. In those days, the army had not learned to fight in a guerrilla war. The army were trained to retake Golan and defend Damascus. But they had learned now.

      Indeed they had. Out in the desert, Khadour said he was going to bomb the town of Sukhna – the Russians would do much of the bombing – and his Syrian troops would break through from there to Deir ez-Zor, which had been surrounded by Isis for three years with its encircled 80,000 civilians and 10,000 soldiers. Khadour said he’d reach Deir ez-Zor by 23 August. He turned out to be almost dead on target. Now he is heading towards the rest of Deir ez-Zor and then towards the Syrian-Iraqi border.

    • Syria’s Survival Is Blow to Jihadists
      Syria’s victory in remaining still standing – still on its feet, as it were – amid the ruins of all that has been visited upon her, marks effectively the demise of the Bush Doctrine in the Middle East (of “the New Middle East”). It signals the beginning of the end – not just of the political “regime change” project, but also of the Sunni jihadi project which has been used as the coercive tool for bringing into being a “New Middle East.”

    • The Disintegration of the American Body Politic
      These are extremely dangerous times for the world. North Korea is exposing the futility of deterrence theory and causing nuclear weapons all over the world to be dusted down, at a time when a maverick outsider in the White House has been captured by a bunch of Generals who make Dr Strangelove look rational. Anybody who thinks sending occupying troops into Afghanistan is ever going to work is clearly certifiable.

      The febrile state of the American political system has resulted in a peculiar McCarthyist witch-hunt against Russia, in which people who you would presume must have some capacity for rational thought, such as the editors of the Washington Post and New York Times, have abandoned that rationality in favour of anti-Russian hysteria.

      As a British diplomat I cultivated contacts with Ken Saro Wiwa and his circle in Nigeria as they pushed against the tyrannical regime of President Abacha and the environmental destruction of their region, most notably by Shell. I cultivated Alexander Kwasniewski as a young opposition leader who eventually defeated the great Lech Walesa. I cultivated John Kufuor, opposition leader in Ghana, who like Kwasniewski went on to be President. I cultivated Mohammed Solih’s people in Uzbekistan. The later stages of all this are covered in my books The Catholic Orangemen of Togo and Murder in Samarkand.

      As a diplomat it is your job to have relations not only with those in government, but to prepare in case the government changes. It is also your job, where you can get away with it, to push the political landscape in the direction your own government wishes. That is of the very essence of diplomacy.


      Precisely what Mensch’s new God-fearing chums make of her choice of expletives I know not. But a rational person may wonder what about these tweets could cause such ecstasy in Ms Mensch.

      Louise has taken up online with one of the crazed self-styled security experts who is jumping on the anti-Russian bandwagon in the United States, named Chris Nethery. Mr Nethery believes and has convinced Ms Mensch (so far as I can judge) that Sarah Kendzior, Uzbek opposition leader Mohammed Solih and I are members of a Russian intelligence cell which is undermining America. Those tweets appear to the rather strange mind of Ms Mensch to prove compelling evidence of this.

    • Trump’s Confused Embrace of Egypt’s Sisi
      The repression only got worse after President Trump threw his support behind authoritarian Sunni Arab states at the Riyadh summit meeting in May. Trump stood across from Sisi, joined by Saudi Arabia’s King Salman, as they touched a glowing orb signifying . . . a good photo opportunity. Saudi Arabia is a major financial backer of the Sisi regime, sharing its loathing for the Muslim Brotherhood and opposition to democratic reforms in the Arab world.

    • The Atomic Bomb and the First Korean War
      North Korea now has a hydrogen bomb. Maybe. Even if the bomb North Korea detonated on Sunday was not a hydrogen bomb, it was North Korea’s most powerful bomb yet.

      So far, President Donald Trump has not said (or tweeted) anything that comes close to the threat he made on August 8: “North Korea best not make any more threats to the United States. They will be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen.”

      What did President Trump mean? On August 11, NPR asked Dr. Sheila Smith, senior fellow for Japan Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations and an adjunct professor at Georgetown University. Smith replied: “The President didn’t say nuclear, but it sounds nuclear.”

      The US has threatened to use nuclear weapons against North Korea before. I have just finished H. W. Brands’ 2016 book, The General vs. the President: MacArthur and Truman at the Brink of Nuclear War. Brands, a professor of Government at the University of Texas at Austin, is the author of bestsellers on Andrew Jackson and Franklin Roosevelt.

    • Reject the International "Fake News" Attack on Venezuela!
      A co-ordinated, virulent and sustained campaign for "regime change" against the government and people of Venezuela is occurring around the world right now. Led by the US, the campaign involves a systematic stream of "fake news" in the international media, backed up by an unholy alliance of right-wing and "liberal" politicians and commentators, all singing from the same song sheet -- that Venezuela is a "socialist dictatorship" with a collapsing economy, and that the unfortunate people of that country are yearning to be free of that regime.

      Current examples in Australia of media complicity in the imperialist drive to bring down the progressive government of President Nicolas Maduro include the ABC, SBS and news reports on Venezuela in the commercial TV channels.

      Most recently, we have seen right-wing ideologue Andrew Bolt, on the one hand, and Tasmanian Greens Senator Peter Whish-Wilson, on the supposedly "progressive" side of politics, on the other, launch broadsides in support of the extreme right, quasi-fascist gangs of thugs, otherwise known in the West as the "democratic opposition," in Venezuela.

    • Why Trump Won’t Start a War With North Korea
      Donald Trump isn’t going to start a war with North Korea. That’s just not going to happen.

      Not only does the United States not have the ground forces for such a massive operation but, more important, a war with the North would serve no strategic purpose at all. The US already has the arrangement it wants on the Peninsula. The South remains under US military occupation, the economic and banking systems have been successfully integrated into the US-dominated western system, and the strategically-located landmass in northeast Asia provides an essential platform for critical weapons systems that will be used to encircle and control fast-emerging rivals, China and Russia.

    • Dangerous Times: North Korea, China and the Threat of Nuclear War and Accident

      In 1992, the North and South signed the Declaration of Denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, what was called “An Agreed Framework” was established and resulted in a suspension of North Korea’s nuclear programmes in exchange for a US agreement to build two nuclear reactors within the terms of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

    • Worth Dying For?

      I used to command soldiers. Over the years, lots of them actually. In Iraq, Colorado, Afghanistan, and Kansas. And I’m still fixated on a few of them like this one private first class (PFC) in Kandahar, Afghanistan, in 2011. All of 18, he was short, scrawny, and popular. Nine months after graduating from high school, he’d found himself chasing the Taliban with the rest of our gang. At five foot nothing, I once saw him step into an irrigation canal and disappear from sight -- all but the two-foot antenna on his radio. In my daydreams, I always see the same scene, the moment his filthy, grizzled baby face reappeared above that ditch, a cigarette still dangling loosely from his lips. His name was Anderson and I can remember thinking at that moment: What will I tell his mother if he gets killed out here?

      And then... poof... it’s 2017 again and I’m here in Kansas, pushing papers at Fort Leavenworth, those days in the field long gone. Anderson himself survived his tour of duty in Afghanistan, though I’ve no idea where he is today. A better commander might. Several of his buddies were less fortunate. They died, or found themselves short a limb or two, or emotionally and morally scarred for life.

    • As ISIS Shrinks, Al Qaeda Expands
      Al-Qaeda is creating its most powerful stronghold ever in north-west Syria at a time when world attention is almost entirely focused on the impending defeat of Isis in the east of the country. It has established full control of Idlib province and of a vital Syrian-Turkish border crossing since July. “Idlib Province is the largest al-Qaeda safe haven since 9/11,” says Brett McGurk, the senior US envoy to the international coalition fighting Isis.

      The al-Qaeda-linked movement, Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), which used to be called Jabhat al-Nusra, has long been the most powerful rebel group in western Syria. After the capture of east Aleppo by the Syrian army last December, it moved to eliminate its rivals in Idlib, including its powerful former Turkish-backed ally Ahrar al-Sham. HTS is estimated to have 30,000 experienced fighters whose numbers will grow as it integrates brigades from other defeated rebel groups and recruits young men from the camps for Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) who have sought refuge in Idlib from President Bashar al-Assad’s forces.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • California Legislature Defangs Transparency Bill
      The Electronic Frontier Foundation has pulled its support of a state bill to strengthen the California Public Records Act after the legislature gutted its most important reform: allowing courts to levy penalties against agencies that knowingly impede the public's right to access information.

      A.B. 1479 had received near unanimous support when it was passed by the state Assembly and through the committee process in the Senate. Nevertheless, the legislature passed up the opportunity to come together in favor of sunlight and instead reduced the bill down to requiring agencies to appoint a "custodian of public records," a practice already employed by many agencies, including most municipalities through their city clerks.

    • Alleged NSA leaker wants court to throw out evidence

      Reality Winner’s defense filed a motion to suppress the evidence last week, claiming the contractor was restrained in her home prior to arrest, and not read her Miranda rights.

      Winner, 25, is in jail and awaiting trial to face the charge of “willful retention and transmission of national defense information.” She’s accused of removing classified material from an Augusta government facility where she worked and mailing it to an online news outlet.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • 5.6M asked to evacuate in Florida ahead of Irma
      More than 5 million people have been asked to evacuate in Florida ahead of Hurricane Irma, which is expected to make landfall this weekend.

      The Associated Press reported Friday night that 5.6 million people – or more than a quarter of the state's population – have been asked to evacuate as the Category 4 storm approaches the U.S.

    • National Weather Service: 'Nowhere in the Florida Keys Will Be Safe' From Hurricane Irma
      The National Weather Service issued a strong warning for the Florida Keys ahead of Hurricane Irma, which is expected to hit the area Saturday night.

      "This is as real as it gets," the NWS tweeted in all capital letters Friday. "Nowhere in the Florida Keys will be safe."

    • US forecast models have been pretty terrible during Hurricane Irma
      We have written a fair amount at Ars recently about the superiority of the European forecast model, suggesting to readers that they focus on the ensemble runs of this system to get a good handle on track forecasts for Hurricane Irma. Then we checked out some of the preliminary data on model performance during this major hurricane, and it was truly eye-opening.

      Brian Tang, an atmospheric scientist at the University of Albany, tabulates data on "mean absolute error" for the location of a storm's center at a given time and where it was forecast to be at that time. Hurricane Irma has been a thing for about a week now, so we have started to get a decent sample size—at least 10 model runs—to assess performance.

    • As Irma nears, GIS data shows Florida emptying itself of planes
      Life in the 21st century doesn't mean being able to ignore natural disasters; 150mph winds, tsunami waves, and earthquakes will still mess up one's day. But living in what used to be the future does allow us to understand such phenomena. We can even simulate it, albeit poorly. Living in 2017 also allows you experience it vicariously, at a macro scale, live and at home. For years now, people have been collecting geotagged data and building online map layers, visualizing global shipping or air corridors. Scientific agencies publish data from satellite geosensors measuring land and sea temperatures. And we can use them to watch nature remind us of our place.

    • For parts of Florida, Hurricane Irma offers a worst-case scenario
      On Thursday afternoon, Eric Blake, a hurricane specialist at the National Hurricane Center and one of the country's foremost experts on these storms, took to Twitter to offer a few capstone thoughts on the storm bearing down on Florida. "Irma has me sick to my stomach," he wrote. "Need to be very lucky for it to miss Florida now."

      Blake lives in Miami, like the rest of the NHC forecasters, and said Irma sends "chills" down the spines of residents there. "This hurricane is as serious as any I have seen. No hype, just the hard facts. Take every life-saving precaution you can. I have little doubt Irma will go down as one of the most infamous in Atlantic hurricane history."

    • As the hurricanes hit, Big Insurance must stop its hypocrisy

      Insurance firms recognise the risks of climate chaos – but they’re still underwriting major new fossil fuel projects. Campaigners are calling on them to stop.

    • Trump Admin Quietly Pushing ‘Small Scale’ LNG Exports That Avoid Environmental Reviews
      The Trump administration proposed regulations to expedite the permitting process for natural gas exports from “small-scale” facilities on the Friday before Labor Day.

      The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) had proposed an alteration of the rules for the export of “small-scale” liquefied natural gas (LNG) under the Natural Gas Act. The proposal will now be open to a public commenting period set to end October 16.

    • Fire and Rain
      Yes, we humans may lurch onward through alternately drenched and smoke-filled landscapes, billions of the poor in constant forced migration from war or famine or genocide, the bourgeoisie cutting out the middle man in the delivery system and simply melding themselves with machines, killing off any remnants of the mythological in their cybernetic psyches because in that was contained what they would otherwise have to understand as self-fulfilling prophecy: the lost Golden Age, the lost Eden. Which we were once taught was a poetic reference to a mythical past, but was actually our civilization’s symbolic roadmap to its own future. Will their pseudo-intelligent implanted daemons save those future elites from realizing what some long-since exterminated peoples had conceptualized without technical assistance ages before: that what we experience as time is neither a one-dimensional line in a four-dimensional block, nor a closed loop of eternal return, but more like an infinite manifold of zero dimensions in which all times equally exist? And thus, began their mythic stories with: “Once upon a time, in the future…”

    • 17 million in US live near active oil or gas wells.

      More than 17 million people in the United States live within a mile of an active oil or natural gas well, according to a new study.

      The study is the first peer-reviewed, nationwide estimate of how many Americans live close to active wells and raises health concerns, as such proximity has been linked to heart, lung and brain problems, some cancers, and certain birth defects such as lower birth weights, pre-term births and heart defects.

      "The closer you are to a well, the more likely you are to have health impacts, said Eliza Czolowski, lead author of the new study and an associate in the energy and environment program at PSE Health Energy, a nonprofit research institute in Oakland, California.

      Using state-level information on oil and gas drilling and the U.S. Census, Czolowski and colleagues had data for 30 states and estimated that 17.6 million Americans, or about 6 percent of the population of the contiguous 48 states, lives within a mile of an active oil or gas well.

    • Florida Warned 'Don't Let Your Guard Down' as Irma Roars for Direct Hit
      Despite media reports of weakening winds, weather experts warned South Florida residents to remain vigilant and prepare for the worst as Hurricane Irma approaches the region, headed north from the Caribbean.

      The National Hurricane Center called the storm "extremely dangerous" even though it's been downgraded from a Category 5 to a Category 4 storm, with winds currently rushing at 155 miles per hours.

    • Trump's disastrous budget will worsen future hurricane damage
      When President Trump first went down to Texas, he was criticized for showing no empathy for the people who experienced devastating impacts from Hurricane Harvey. When it comes to his budget, it actually shows contempt for people dealing with natural disasters and climate impacts. Not only is the president’s budget going after programs to reduce climate impacts, he is even cutting funding for the National Weather Service to predict future storms. By denying climate change, Trump is denying our future. What he is doing is slashing the budget as part of his attack on the environment and the people of the United States.

      By cutting the Environmental Protection Agency budget by almost a third, the Trump administration is actually putting us at risk from the next storm. There will be $5 billion cut from National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration grants, which will end projects that protect us from storm surges and sea level rise. At the same time, the budget would eliminate $250 million in additional funding for coastal research, which helps identify areas at risk to flooding and storm surges. Cutting the Sea Grant Consortium by $73 million will stop funding for adaptation and mitigation. The budget would also eliminate $667 million from the Federal Emergency Management Agency and $3 billion from the Housing and Urban Development program for emergency grants.

    • Hurricane Harvey Hits Home for Texas Environmental Hero Hilton Kelley
      Hurricane Harvey's floodwaters were still receding from Port Arthur, Texas, on September 4, when Hilton Kelley and his wife Marie returned to their home and business for the first time since evacuating.

      Port Arthur is located about 100 miles east of Houston on the Gulf Coast. The heavily industrialized area rivals Louisiana’s Cancer Alley, with an even greater concentration of hazardous waste and petrochemical facilities.

      Kelley is intimately familiar with the town’s refineries. He spent the last 17 years fighting for clean air and water in the Port Arthur community adjacent to those refineries. His work earned him the prestigious Goldman Environmental Prize, which is awarded to “grassroots environmental heroes” ― something of a Nobel Prize for environmentalists.

    • "We Have Never Had Anything Like Them": Bill McKibben on Floods, Winds & Fires Devastating U.S.
      In the Caribbean, at least 10 people have died as the historic Category 5 Hurricane Irma barrels across the Atlantic Ocean and toward the U.S. coast. Hurricane Irma is the most powerful storm ever recorded over the Atlantic Ocean. On Barbuda, 90 percent of all structures were destroyed. The prime minister, Gaston Browne, has declared Barbuda is "practically uninhabitable." This comes as Houston, the fourth-largest city in the U.S., is beginning to rebuild from Hurricane Harvey, one of the most powerful hurricanes in U.S. history. Wide swaths of the Pacific Northwest are also on fire, as uncontrollable wildfires burn hundreds of thousands of acres across Oregon, Montana and Washington state. For more on climate change and extreme weather, we’re joined by Bill McKibben, co-founder of, from his home in Vermont. He’s the author of several books, including "Eaarth: Making a Life on a Tough New Planet."

    • In the Wake of US Climate Failures, Don't Look to China for a Panacea
      Since President Trump pulled out of the Paris climate accord, there has been speculation that China could take the lead in the fight against climate change. China's leader Xi Jinping has certainly been eager to assume this role, just as he took up the cause of free trade against Trump's nationalist posturing.

    • Mattis and Tillerson Aren't Mitigating Trump -- They're on a Path of Destruction

      This is why the former CEO of one of the largest oil companies on the planet, who is now our secretary of state, can come off as a voice of reason for simply saying "the president speaks for himself" when discussing Trump's lack of condemnation of white supremacist violence.

      This is also why Secretary of Defense James Mattis, a war criminal, can come off looking good for telling some US soldiers, "Our country, right now, it's got problems that we don't have in the military. You just hold the line until our country gets back to understanding and respecting each other and showing it."

    • How to fight climate injustice in the UK – and 6 reasons we must
      In January, six years after two tremors caused by fracking at nearby Preese Hall, Cuadrilla started construction on a super-sized fracking pad at Preston New Road alongside the A583. The plan is for a four well frack site, drilling to a depth of 3.5km, then outwards 3km horizontally with multiple sidetracks. It threatens to initiate a trail of destruction across England’s rural heartlands.

      Despite approval from Westminster, Cuadrilla have never had a social license to frack at the site. This summer Reclaim the Power set up camp at Maple Farm and coordinated a month of daily direct actions to support the local struggle. Our promise of ‘fierce opposition’ during the Rolling Resistance has been fulfilled. Disobedient protestors have delayed the construction by four months so far.

    • Florida Sheriff Plans To Use Hurricane Irma To Bump Up Arrest Numbers, Fill His Jail
      This part of it is awful enough, even as it's lawful enough. Florida law bans sex offenders from hurricane shelters, even though lots of registered sex offenders pose no threat to anyone around them. Some sex offenders are unrepentant pedophiles and rapists. But many, many others have been rung up for things like statutory rape, sexting, and other violations that should have zero effect on their ability to find housing, seek shelter, become meaningfully employed, etc.

      But Judd didn't stop there. He probably should have. But Sheriff Grady Judd -- like other infamous sheriffs (Joe Arpaio, David Clarke, Of Nottingham, etc...): -- appears to thrive on hate and negative press coverage. So, Judd amped it up. Rather than make it appear his deputies would simply be enforcing the state's ridiculous sex offender laws, he piled on, adding everyone who might have an outstanding warrant, something that covers stuff as innocuous as unpaid parking tickets.

    • Why forecasters are so concerned about Hurricane Irma
      There remains a chance that Irma will turn north before reaching Florida and move to the east of the peninsula, which would leave the state on the drier side of the storm, with lesser winds and surge. But a 30 to 40 percent chance is not something we would gamble our lives and property on. If an evacuation order is called for your area, heed it.

      You may have noticed some people are kind of freaking out about Irma, and we expect that to only get worse as the storm approaches Florida this weekend. And although it is certainly better to prepare for a hurricane rather than panic, there are some pretty legitimate reasons for extreme concern

    • Like Her Boss, Betsy DeVos Makes a Disaster All About Herself
      While President Trump’s boastful comments about crowd size at his tour of Hurricane Harvey’s devastation in Houston struck some as egotistical and self-aggrandizing, his Education Secretary Betsy DeVos had a similar performance in Florida, where she robotically recited her favorite talking points against a backdrop of a slow-motion catastrophe striking the state’s public schools.

      Like her boss avoided interacting with people who bore the brunt of the hurricane, DeVos avoided public schools, going to a privately-operated charter school and a voucher-receiving private school instead.

      What’s hitting Florida’s public schools may not directly endanger lives as Hurricane Harvey did, but it will surely exact a heavy toll on the Sunshine State’s education infrastructure.

    • Climate Change Unleashes Fire and Fury on U.S.

    • Chronicle of a Flood Foretold
      Houston didn’t need to be warned. The city had already been sunk by four major hurricanes, each less powerful than Harvey, in the last 80 years. Generational storms. But boomtowns have short memories. After each epochal deluge, Houston rebuilt on the ruins. Rebuilt in a Texas way: Bigger. Brasher. Gaudier. Rebuilt on the very same vulnerable grounds. In the same pathway of destruction.

      After each inundation, Houston got larger, as if to defy the mutating atmosphere gathering against it. It grew, it bulged and it sprawled. Into bayous. Into swamps. Into brownfields and floodplains. Into coastal prairies. Ripping up the last natural defenses between the city and the well-beaten storm track. Houston absorbed oil men, ex-presidents and immigrants, retirees, hedge funders and refugees from Katrina. Forty thousand new residents stream into the city every year. Houston grew and grew until it swelled into the second largest city in the nation in terms of land area it consumed and the fourth in terms of population. Bigger than Dallas, bigger than Boston, bigger than Phoenix, bigger than Philly.

      Houston got bigger, but so did the hurricanes. Now the only barrier between Houston and the storms is the toxic crescent of oil refineries and chemical plants that spike up along the Gulf Coast from Beaumont to Corpus Christi. There would be no escape from Harvey. There will be no escape from the next storm or the ones following that. Storms which will be wetter, fiercer and more poisonous. Storms fueled by a Gulf that is warming inexorably, whose waters are rising inch by inch, year by year. Storms envenomed by the deadly detritus of the very industry which has super-charged them.

    • Fossil Fuel Lobbyist by Day, WaPo Columnist by Night
      What is the point of Ed Rogers, the Washington Post’s most conflict-ridden, mediocre columnist (, 4/23/15)? He doesn’t add a lot to the discourse, his boilerplate Republican talking points could be better written by any number of Heritage fellows, he shills for Trump in the most boring ways possible, and—most glaringly of all—is an actual paid lobbyist for an assortment of sleazy industry interests, via his lobbying firm BGR Group.

      So why does a major paper feel the need to continue to give him column inches? Rogers has major conflicts of interest, as AlterNet and Media Matters have noted: Among many other infractions, he neglected to mention his firm’s $500,000 fee from the Saudi regime while boosting Trump’s PR trip there, and promoted the shiny new weapon systems of his client Raytheon on the night Trump used them to bomb the Syrian Air Force.


      Clearly, an aggressive left-wing agenda would be a major threat to the bottom line of scores of Rogers’ clients. The fossil fuel industry apparently rises to a level of manifest terribleness that made Washington Post editors feel they had to demand a token disclosure. Those lobbying for low wages, massive student loan debt and exploitative private healthcare evidently do not.

      Having a lobbyist moonlight as a columnist, of course, is inherently conflicting; the major corporate, financial and fossil fuel interests Rogers represents will, by definition, pollute his writings as surely as his clients do the Earth.

    • Here’s why Irma is a monster hurricane, in one GIF.
      The last Category 5 hurricane to make landfall in the United States was Andrew, which lashed South Florida with wind gusts of up to 177 miles per hour in 1992. It caused immense devastation and forever changed Florida’s approach to hurricanes.

    • Those 3% of scientific papers that deny climate change? A review found them all flawed
      It’s often said that of all the published scientific research on climate change, 97% of the papers conclude that global warming is real, problematic for the planet, and has been exacerbated by human activity. But what about those 3% of papers that reach contrary conclusions? Some skeptics have suggested that the authors of studies indicating that climate change is not real, not harmful, or not man-made are bravely standing up for the truth, like maverick thinkers of the past. (Galileo is often invoked, though his fellow scientists mostly agreed with his conclusions—it was church leaders who tried to suppress them.)

    • Irma and Florida: Confidence in the hurricane’s forecast track is growing
      Hurricane Irma continues to move west-northwest toward the Straits of Florida at a good clip, about 16mph. At this rate, the storm remains only about 60 to 72 hours from reaching the southern Florida coast, if it indeed makes landfall there. The National Hurricane Center's updated track forecast for the storm as of 11am ET is shown below.

      The gallery below provides information about the last 10 track forecasts from the National Hurricane Center (they are updated every six hours), going back to the morning of Tuesday, September 5. At that time, the professional forecasters at the Miami-based hurricane center had the storm moving into the Florida Keys, between Southern Florida and Cuba, early on Sunday morning.

    • How to hurricane-proof a Web server
      I had enough to worry about as Hurricane Harvey plowed into the Texas Gulf Coast on the night of August 25 and delivered a category 4 punch to the nearby city of Rockport. But I simultaneously faced a different kind of storm: an unexpected surge of traffic hitting the Space City Weather Web server. This was the first of what would turn into several very long and restless nights.

    • Recovery After Hurricane Harvey: Will There Be Justice for All?
      What happens to Houston after the media coverage storm subsides, when the country has moved on from the reality that is the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey? Will the people of Houston, who will be affected by this devastation financially and emotionally for years to come, soon become just yesterday’s headline? I would hope not. But recent history shows we should be concerned.

      Hurricane Harvey dumped 33 trillion gallons of water (nearly double the volume of the entire Chesapeake Bay watershed)—roughly 275 trillion pounds of water, onto Houston and surrounding areas. Some media outlets called Hurricane Harvey an “equal opportunity” disaster, meaning it negatively affected both the rich and the poor. Equal opportunity—but is it? Time will tell. What will happen when the less financially secure, mostly minority communities try to rebuild? Will they still receive equal opportunities to recover? Will the air pollution and contaminants from hazardous facilities have a disproportionate long-term effect on the communities of color living in closer proximity to toxic sites?

    • As Florida Braces, Aerial Footage of Virgin Islands Shows What Irma Capable Of
      As Hurricane Irma continues on its "frightening" course towards the Keys and mainland Florida, a series of aerial videos taken from the Virgin Islands in the Caribbean are offering some of the first detailed looks at what the storm's wrath is capable of and the scale of the damage suffered from those exposed to her historic size and strength.

      Providing by a tourism outfit called Caribbean Buzz Helicopters, based in the Virgin Islands, and posted to their Facebook page on Friday, the videos—as well as these photographs—offered some of the first overhead surveys of St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands (USVI), the islands of Eustatia and Tortala in the British Virginia Islands (BVI), including closeup looks at specific coastal communities and smaller islands hit by the storm throughout archipelago.

    • Trump's Anti-Climate Budget Would Be Disaster for Combating Future Disasters
      With much of the Caribbean devastated by Hurricane Irma's 185 mile-per-hour winds and 20-foot storm surges, South Florida anticipating similar destruction as the Category 4 storm approaches for a direct hit, and the Houston area beginning a recovery from Hurricane Harvey which is expected to last years, President Donald Trump's budget proposal displays open hostility towards the very agencies tasked with insulating residents from the impact of such disasters.

      The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the National Weather Service (NWS) are responsible for predicting extreme weather events like hurricanes, which they do using sophisticated satellites, sensors, and other forecasting technology.

      As Jeff Tittel, executive director of the Sierra Club's New Jersey chapter argued this week, Trump's budget "actually shows contempt for people dealing with natural disasters and climate impacts."

    • As Storms Rage, Bold 100% Clean Energy Bill Aims to Avert 'Climate Chaos Still Ahead'
      Amid devastating hurricanes, historic flooding, epic wildfires, and the Trump administration's ongoing war on climate science, a newly introduced bill is receiving accolades for offering a bold blueprint to ditch fossil fuels and create an equitable transition to 100 percent renewable energy by 2035.

      The Off Fossil Fuels for a Better Future Act (OFF Act), introduced by Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii), "rises to the challenge of what science requires to avert the worst of the climate chaos still ahead, while mandating a just and swift transition to renewables," Wenonah Hauter, executive director of Food and Water Watch, stated Friday.

    • How the Truth Can Get Damaged in a Hurricane, Too
      On Twitter, Facebook and a handful of other venues, hundreds of thousands of people in recent days have clicked or shared items with headlines warning that Hurricane Irma was poised to become a Category 6 storm (on the five-level Saffir-Simpson scale of hurricane intensity) that “could wipe entire cities off the map.”

      The fact-checking website Snopes made quick work of debunking that claim. Still, the National Weather Service felt moved to post warnings about fake forecasts.

    • Rush Limbaugh Flees for His Safety After Calling Hurricane Irma a Liberal Hoax

    • Citing Climate Hoax, Limbaugh Downplayed Irma Threat to Millions. Now He's Evacuating
      On Tuesday, right-wing radio provocateur Rush Limbaugh claimed the media was intentionally exaggerating threats about Hurricane Irma to advance a "climate change agenda" and enable local businesses to make money off of emergency preparation efforts. On Thursday, Limbaugh indicated he will evacuate South Florida ahead of the storm.

      "May as well go ahead and announce this," he said during his Thursday show. "I'm not going to get into details because of the security nature of things, but it turns out that we will not be able to do the program here tomorrow.... We'll be on the air next week, folks, from parts unknown. So we'll be back on Monday. It's just that tomorrow is going to be problematic. Tomorrow it would be, I think, legally impossible for us to originate the program out of here."

      Many have suggested the broadcast would be "legally impossible" because of mandatory evacuation orders. Limbaugh broadcasts from Palm Beach, Florida, where he owns an oceanfront estate.

    • ‘Some People Faced With a Disaster Can’t Just Pick Up and Leave’
      You still sometimes hear things like “disasters don’t discriminate,” or “it’s wrong to politicize a tragedy.” But as we continue to assess the ravages of Hurricane Harvey, it seems like maybe we’re moving a bit beyond that. Sure, we know that no one ordered up a hurricane, but public policy and political choices do play a role, do make some disasters worse than they might be, and do leave some people more vulnerable than others. Media may be moving beyond “nature, what are ya gonna do?,” but where will they end up? Accountability, translated through the corporate media machine, often winds up just being blame—and blame and accountability are not the same thing. It’s not a question of who to be mad at; it’s about who has the power to make things different, and what should they do? Media themselves are, of course, important players here, so what can we say about their work so far in covering this natural, and not-so-natural, disaster?

  • Finance

    • Uncovering Offshore Financial Centers: Conduits and Sinks in the Global Corporate Ownership Network
      Multinational corporations use highly complex structures of parents and subsidiaries to organize their operations and ownership. Offshore Financial Centers (OFCs) facilitate these structures through low taxation and lenient regulation, but are increasingly under scrutiny, for instance for enabling tax avoidance. Therefore, the identification of OFC jurisdictions has become a politicized and contested issue. We introduce a novel data-driven approach for identifying OFCs based on the global corporate ownership network, in which over 98 million firms (nodes) are connected through 71 million ownership relations. This granular firm-level network data uniquely allows identifying both sink-OFCs and conduit-OFCs. Sink-OFCs attract and retain foreign capital while conduit-OFCs are attractive intermediate destinations in the routing of international investments and enable the transfer of capital without taxation. We identify 24 sink-OFCs. In addition, a small set of five countries – the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Singapore and Switzerland – canalize the majority of corporate offshore investment as conduit-OFCs. Each conduit jurisdiction is specialized in a geographical area and there is significant specialization based on industrial sectors. Against the idea of OFCs as exotic small islands that cannot be regulated, we show that many sink and conduit-OFCs are highly developed countries.

    • MPs demand full investigation of hard-Brexit backing Tory "party within a party"
      Labour MPs are demanding a full investigation by parliament's expenses watchdog, IPSA, into the ''funding and activities'' of a group of hard-line Conservative MPs who have been branded a ''party within a party'' .

      More than a quarter of a million pounds in official expenses has been claimed by a group of 40 Tory MPs for ''research'' carried out by the European Research Group (ERG). All the MPs are members or supporters of the ERG whose stated aim is a hard, uncompromised exit from the European Union.

      The Tory MPs, including members of Theresa May's cabinet, have channeled the money to the ERG over the last five years, covering the period of both the David Cameron and May administrations.

      Under IPSA rules, MPs cannot claim for research or work ''done for, or on behalf of a political party.''


      The group also want IPSA to reveal the total amount of public money handed to the ERG through MPs expenses.

      Clarification has also been demanded on the status of the ERG's senior researcher, Christopher Howarth.

      openDemocracy revealed that details for who Howarth works for in the Commons, and the way he effectively runs the ERG as an independent organisation, do not to match the rules laid down by the Sergeant at Arms office. The Segeant's office is responsible for the administration and security of the Hose of Commons.

      IPSA have also been asked to investigate who Howarth is currently sponsored by and whether or not he is located in offices inside the Palace of Westminster and on ''what basis'' is he working.

    • ‘Companies That Got Huge Tax Breaks Didn’t Create a Single Job’
      In some cases, powerful interests are so invested in telling a certain story, tell it so often and so insistently, that you’d be hard-pressed to guess from media coverage that it’s disputed, or simply false.

      Such is the case with a certain line about the relationship between corporate taxes and job creation. CEOs complain about the taxes they have to pay, and make claims about what they’d do if they were taxed less. And corporate journalists aren’t generally in the business of challenging CEOs. But are we seeing some fissures in that argument, now that it’s Donald Trump talking about how his plan for a “competitive tax code”—common parlance for cutting corporate taxes—will lead to “millions of people” earning a “big, fat, beautiful paycheck”?

    • How the aristocracy preserved their power
      On 11 January this year, Charlie, the genial 3rd Baron Lyell, died aged 77 in Dundee after a short illness. He had inherited his title and the 10,000-acre Kinnordy estate, in Angus, when he was just four years old. After Eton, Christ Church and the Scots Guards, he spent nearly 47 years in the Lords, serving as a Conservative minister from 1979 to 1989. He never married and his title died with him, but under the byzantine rules drawn up when the majority of hereditary peers were excluded from the Lords in 1999, his seat was contested in a byelection in which 27 hereditary peers stood.

      In the short statement required of them, most of the candidates emphasized their career and credentials, but Hugh Crossley, the 45-year-old 4th Baron Somerleyton, went straight for the ideological jugular: “I think the hereditary peerage worth preserving and its principle creates a sense of innate commitment to the welfare of the nation,” he wrote.


      The secret to the survival of the old aristocracy through the centuries was the mystique of grandeur they cultivated. They dressed, decorated and built to impress, so that nobody dared question their right to rule. The secret of their modern existence is their sheer invisibility. As the Daily Mail commented when Tatler magazine gathered a table of 10 dukes together in 2009: “Once, the holders of these titles would have been the A-list celebrities of their time. Today, most people would be pushed to name a single one of them.”

    • Republicans jolted by, and Democrats wary of, Trump’s overtures to opposing party
      Political tremors seized both major parties on Thursday in the wake of President Trump’s sudden alignment with congressional Democrats, leaving Republicans alarmed about the unraveling of their relationship with the White House and uncertain about the prospects for their policy ambitions this fall.

      In the span of 48 hours, Trump cut a deal with Democrats to keep the government funded and raise the nation’s borrowing authority, advanced talks with the senior Senate Democrat on a permanent debt ceiling solution and followed the advice of the top House Democrat, who urged him to use Twitter to ease the fears of young undocumented immigrants.

    • What the Rich Won’t Tell You
      We often imagine that the wealthy are unconflicted about their advantages and in fact eager to display them. Since Thorstein Veblen coined the term “conspicuous consumption” more than a century ago, the rich have typically been represented as competing for status by showing off their wealth. Our current president is the conspicuous consumer in chief, the epitome of the rich person who displays his wealth in the glitziest way possible.

    • The first man at trial over a “gig economy” job got dismantled on cross-examination
      The sole plaintiff going to trial over his treatment in the "gig economy" has a serious problem. Under cross-examination yesterday, former GrubHub deliveryman Raef Lawson admitted that he lied on his applications to GrubHub, got paid for shifts he barely worked, and took steps to avoid doing some deliveries.

      Lawson also acknowledged that, before applying to GrubHub, he consulted with his attorney, who has specialized in lawsuits against so-called "gig economy" companies, like Uber and Lyft. These companies typically provide workers with part-time work and flexible shifts, but few other benefits. And Lawson was fired from another gig economy platform, Postmates, which directly accused him of fraud.

    • Capitalism, the State and the Drowning of America
      As Hurricane Harvey lashed Texas, Naomi Klein wasted no time in diagnosing the “real root causes” behind the disaster, indicting “climate pollution, systemic racism, underfunding of social services, and overfunding of police.” A day after her essay appeared, George Monbiot argued that no one wants to ask the tough questions about the coastal flooding spawned during Hurricane Harvey because to do so would be to challenge capitalism—a system wedded to “perpetual growth on a finite planet”—and call into question the very foundations of “the entire political and economic system.”

    • From Fighting for $15 to Blocking Right to Work, Striking Missouri Workers Are Challenging the GOP
      Bill Thompson, 46, grew up believing in the American Dream. When he graduated from college in 1995 with an engineering degree, he assumed he would have no trouble covering his bills along with the middle-class niceties his father, a postal clerk and member of the American Postal Workers Union, was able to provide to his family growing up.

      Thompson was hired by a local engineering firm out of college, but his training was soon rendered obsolete by new technologies and he lost his job. With $46,000 in student debt and two young children to support, he was in need of a job—any job. So, he turned to fast food.

      Thompson made $8.50 an hour at his first job in the industry, working at a now defunct chain of buffets. That was 1997. Today, he makes $9.10 as a cook at a Burger King just outside the city limits.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • There They Go Again
      The 2018 midterm elections are still more than a year away, but, according to press reports, Democratic “hopefuls” are already courting “the donor class” in anticipation of the presidential election in 2020.

      It is the same old same old that got us a Trump-Clinton election in 2016 and, worse, that stifled or derailed many of the most promising progressive initiatives of the preceding years.

      Something like that is on track for happening again, the difference being that the background conditions are worse this time around: the ravages brought on by increasing inequality are more acute, there is a greater likelihood of a nuclear Armageddon, and the inevitable ecological catastrophes caused by anthropogenic climate disruption are advancing at a greater pace.

    • Trump Is Making Millions Selling Access to Lobbyists and Corporate CEOs at His Golf Clubs

    • Reclaiming Gotham: Juan González on Cities Leading the Revolt Against Trumpism & Neoliberal Policies
      The city of New York announced Tuesday it is deploying funding for legal services for DACA recipients across the city, following the Trump administration’s decision to rescind the DACA program. In a message posted on Twitter, the office of Mayor Bill de Blasio said, "You are not alone. … If you face legal problems, we’ll be right there with you." The fight to save DACA marks just the latest example of cities pushing back against the Trump administration’s agenda. From climate change to sanctuary cities to police accountability to affordable housing, cities are increasingly pushing a far more progressive agenda than their counterparts in Washington. This is a central theme in a new book by Democracy Now! co-host Juan González titled "Reclaiming Gotham: Bill de Blasio and the Movement to End America’s Tale of Two Cities." For more, we speak with Juan González, longtime staff writer for the New York Daily News, now a professor of journalism and media studies at Rutgers University.

    • The Imperial President Spits the Bit
      The Unitary Executive Theory (UET) recently took a big hit from a most unusual vandal: Donald J. Trump.

      The theory itself is as old as the country and, you'll recall, was a particularly passionate fever dream of Dick Cheney. For him, it wasn't just about power for the sake of power. Mr. Cheney used the theory during the administration of George W. Bush as a petri dish to road test every revenge fantasy against Congress he'd been fondling since Nixon got chased out of town. Congressional subpoenas? Bah and feh to you.

      There is nothing particularly clever or groundbreaking about the UET. It is basically the weaponized incarnation of the so-called "imperial presidency," a phenomenon that has been a going concern since Abraham Lincoln suspended habeas corpus and then ignored the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court when he ordered Lincoln to stop. It took five years to untangle that mess, but in the end, Lincoln lost. Only Congress can suspend habeas corpus, the high court ruled.

    • Hillary Clinton: a Woman Scorned
      It seems that very little time passed after her defeat in the 2016 presidential election before Hillary Clinton decided that the world had waited long enough for her understanding of that defeat. Advance copies of her new book, which will be released to the public on September 12, have been made available to select readers (this writer NOT being one of them), and some pearls of wisdom have been disclosed.

    • Mueller Warns White House of Plans to Interview Six Trump Aides
      Citing "people familiar with the request," the Washington Post reported late Friday afternoon that Special Counsel Robert Mueller III has told the White House he would like to interview six current and former members of President Donald Trump's inner circle, including former press secretary Sean Spicer and former chief of staff Reince Priebus.

      Although no interviews have been scheduled yet, Mueller warned he also will likely seek interviews with interim White House communications director Hope Hicks and Josh Raffel, a White House spokesman who works closely with President Donald Trump's son-in-law and senior advisor, Jared Kushner, as well as White House counsel Don McGahn and one of his deputies, James Burnham, the Post reports.

      According to Politico, which also reported on the development, "the upcoming interviews are a sign that the FBI's wide-ranging probe into the Trump White House and campaign is intensifying."

    • Your Worst Fears About Fox News Are Confirmed By New Study
      Fox News Channel has been recognized since its inception in 1996, when it was established by Republican operative Roger Ailes, as a right-leaning news source. But a new study published in the American Economic Review shows just how influential the channel is when it comes to changing viewers' minds, causing them to shift to the right on political issues—and even influencing election outcomes in ways that the outlet's more liberal counterparts don't.

      Researchers at Emory and Stanford universities found that watching only three minutes of Fox News coverage per week would make Democratic and centrist voters one percent more likely to vote Republican in the 2008 election.

      According to the study, this means that if Fox News hadn't existed in 2004, George W. Bush would have captured nearly four fewer percentage points, making John Kerry the popular vote winner. In 2008, Barack Obama would have won in a landslide if it weren't for Fox, capturing 60 percent of the vote, with John McCain winning 6.34 percent fewer votes.

    • Just how partisan is Facebook's fake news? We tested it

      But the problem goes beyond fake news. As Facebook’s feeds prove, we live in a “post-truth” world, where the line between partisan spin and outright lies is practically indistinguishable.

    • Clinton’s score-settling frustrates Democrats
      “The best thing she could do is disappear,” said one former Clinton fundraiser and surrogate who played an active role at the convention. “She’s doing harm to all of us because of her own selfishness. Honestly, I wish she’d just shut the f--- up and go away.”

    • Russians Flock to Trump Properties to Give Birth to U.S. Citizens
      American citizenship for the newborn girl was the goal of Kuzmin and his Instagram-celebrity wife, who sought the help of birth-tourism services in Florida for the arrival of their first child. They are among the estimated hundreds of Russian parents who flock to the U.S. annually for warm weather, excellent medical care, and, more importantly, birthright American citizenship.

      And many, like Kuzmin and his wife, stay at President Donald Trump’s properties in Florida.

    • Hillary Hates Again
      When “mainstream” (corporate) media talks about the terrible role that hate is playing in American political life the discussion is usually about partisan contempt between Democrats and Republicans or heated conflicts between “radical extremes” like the alt-right and the so-called alt-left (Antifa). You don’t hear much about the longstanding and dripping contempt the Democratic Party’s neoliberal corporate and professional class “elite” has for progressive and social-democratic forces within that party – this even though most of those “progressive Democrats” generally line up dutifully behind the party’s ruling class masters at the end of the day.

    • Russia’s elections that weren’t
      Gubernatorial elections in several Russian regions could have been quite competitive. But with a presidential campaign approaching, the Kremlin can’t even muster the courage for a fair race.

    • Help Us Monitor Political Ads Online
      During the 2016 presidential campaign, President Donald Trump’s operatives bragged to the press that they tried to dissuade African Americans from voting by targeting them with Facebook posts titled “Hillary Thinks African Americans are Super Predators.”

      If similar ads had appeared on TV, radio or in newspapers, journalists and advocacy groups would have fact-checked them. Negative ads in those media are closely monitored because historically they have influenced elections — most notably in 1988, when a television ad accused presidential candidate Michael Dukakis of “weak-on-crime” policies that enabled a furloughed prisoner named Willie Horton to commit rape.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • Charles Harder Sues Yet Again: Files Highly Questionable Lawsuit Against Jezebel
      Oh, Charles Harder. Fresh off losing the lawsuit he filed against us on behalf of Shiva Ayyadurai, lawyer Charles Harder is right back at it. The NY Post was the first to report that Harder has filed a lawsuit in New York state court against Gizmodo Media Group and two of its employees: Anna Merlan and Emma Carmichael. Gizmodo Media Group is basically what used to be Gawker. After Harder sued Gawker into bankruptcy and Univision bought many of Gawker's assets, it put them into a new entity called GMG.

      Obviously, we have some opinions concerning Harder and his increasingly long list of lawsuits against media properties -- so feel free to take our analysis with however many grains of salt are necessary -- but this appears to be a pretty clear SLAPP suit designed to create more chilling effects on free speech. There are many, many reasons why this lawsuit is almost certainly a total and complete dud. But, that doesn't mean it won't be costly and annoying for GMG (even with Univision's help) and the two named individual defendants. The lawsuit is a response to an article on the site Jezebel entitled Inside Superstar Machine, Which Ex-Members Say Is a Cult Preying on New York’s Creative Women. The lawsuit is filed on behalf of Greg Scherick and his company "International Scherick" -- which is also called "Superstar Machine."

    • Judge tosses out Hulk Hogan lawyer's suit against Techdirt over that guy who claimed he invented email
      Earlier this year Techdirt was sued for $15M by Shiva Ayyadurai, who claims to have invented email in 1978, eight years after Ray Tomlinson sent an email over ARPANET. Ayyadurai was represented by Charles Harder, the lawyer who was paid by Peter Thiel to kill Gawker Media through Hulk Hogan's lawsuit.

      Harder has a justifiably terrifying reputation, and has been involved in several high-profile lawsuits against media companies, including a $150m suit against the Daily Mail on behalf of Melania Trump, who claimed that the paper's false claim that she had been a prostitute had compromised her "once-in-a-lifetime opportunity" to establish the "multimillion dollar business relationships" that she could extract while serving as First Lady of the USA.

    • Self-proclaimed 'inventor of email' has libel case dismissed in US courts

      In January this year, TechDirt accused Ayyadurai of being a "liar" and a "charlatan" in a spat that dates back over the better part of the past 10 years, with articles such as "How The Guy Who Didn't Invent Email Got Memorialized In The Press & The Smithsonian As The Inventor Of Email."

    • 1st Amendment wins in self-proclaimed e-mail inventor’s Techdirt libel suit

    • Stop SESTA: Amendments to Federal Criminal Sex Trafficking Law Sweep Too Broadly
      EFF opposes the Senate’s Stop Enabling Sex Trafficking Act (S. 1693) (“SESTA”), and its House counterpart the Allow States and Victims to Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act (H.R. 1865). Not only would both bills eviscerate the immunity from liability for user-generated content that Internet intermediaries have under Section 230, the bills would also amend the federal criminal sex trafficking statute to sweep in companies who may not even be aware of what their users are doing.

      As we recently explained, Section 230 has always had an express exemption for federal criminal law, meaning that Internet intermediaries can be prosecuted in federal court. Thus, federal prosecutors have always been able use the federal criminal sex trafficking statute (18 U.S.C. ۤ 1591) to go after online platforms without running into Section 230 immunity.

    • Neo-Nazi Daily Stormer site ban provokes debate over online censorship
      The removal of the neo-Nazi publication The Daily Stormer from the web following the violence at a neo-nazi march in Charlottesville last month has ignited a fierce debate about internet censorship.

      The highly inflammatory publication, whose name is a play on the German Nazi party's tabloid newspaper Der Stürmer, had been online since 2013. It was judged to have overstepped the mark in the aftermath of Charlottesville when it published an article mocking and abusing Heather Heyer who was killed by a car attack directed at counter-protesters to the far-right rally.

    • Russia Piracy Blocking: Four Thousand 'Pirate' Sites Blocked... Along With Forty Thousand Sites Worth Of Collateral Damage

      We've long talked about the problems that come along with government mandating ISPs to act as copyright police by blocking so-called "pirate" websites. The issues with these attempts are many, ranging from their muted impact on piracy to concerns over just how a website is deemed to be a "pirate" website to the inevitable collateral damage sustained by non-infringing sites. With the last of those, you can pretty much set your watch to the stories of innocent sites being caught up in this sort of censorship. Still, the breadth of this particular problem likely escapes many people.

      To get a handle on the sort of scope we're talking about, we can take a look at Russia. In response to international accusations of the government being lax on matters of copyright infringement, Russia enacted legislation in 2013 that tasked ISPs and hosting providers with blocking pirate websites. It's been nearly half a decade, so let's check in and see what sort of impact that legislation has had.

    • Guinea Bissau state TV employees kick against rising govt censorship

      Officials of Guinea Bissau’s public television channel, (TGB) have announced to the Information Directorate and to the Government that they will no longer accept the rising spate of news censorship in any shape or form.

      Francisco Indeque, president of the TGB workers’ union, presented a petition signed by 88 out of the 141 employees of the station to the director of the country’s only television station.

    • Ugandan Government Obtains Mysterious, South Korean-Built Anti-Porn Machine
      At long last, Uganda's anti-porn "machine" has arrived. As The Next Web notes, the country's government placed an order for a porn-blocking machine last year, following on the heels of yet another anti-porn law. A company in South Korea has helpfully cobbled this together and presumably the Ugandan government will be deploying it shortly.

    • Lawyer who sued Gawker and Techdirt has a new target: Jezebel
      An Oregon life coach, represented by the lawyer who won a $140 million verdict against Gawker Media on behalf of Hulk Hogan, has filed a defamation lawsuit against Jezebel, one of the websites that was once part of Gawker's online media group.

      Jezebel, a culture and news site geared towards women, ran a story about a group called "Superstar Machine," which quoted some ex-members referring to the group as a "cult." The founder of Superstar Machine, Greg Scherick, has sued Jezebel for defamation.

    • Chinese Censorship Comes Out of the Shadows
      The reach of China’s censors across borders was in the spotlight earlier this month after Cambridge University Press acknowledged that it had made 315 articles from China Quarterly inaccessible to readers in China at the request of Chinese authorities. CUP quickly reversed its decision after receiving a flood of criticism. It has since come to light that other CUP publications, notably the Journal of Asian Studies and the American Political Science Association, had also received requests from the Chinese government to remove specific articles, though these requests have not been followed.

    • Activists Send Postcards in Support of Detained Chinese Anti-Censorship Campaigner
      Chinese activists have launched a postcard campaign for the release of a prominent rights activist and anti-censorship campaigner detained on suspicion of subversion in the southern Chinese province of Guangdong at the beginning of the month.

      Zhen Jianghua was taken away from his home in Guangdong's Zhuhai city on the night of Sept. 1 on suspicion of "incitement to subvert state power," fellow activists told RFA.

      His home was searched and several devices including computers, mobile phones, cameras, and other items were confiscated.

    • Despite Censorship, Facebook Hunts for Office Space in China

    • Tucker Warns About 'Ominous' Google Censorship of Political Content

    • A nationwide movement protecting the student press from censorship gains momentum

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Verizon customers can sue ad company over “zombie” cookies, judges rule
      The online advertising company at the center of Verizon's "zombie" cookie controversy cannot avoid a proposed class action lawsuit filed by Verizon Wireless customers, a federal appeals court ruled this week.

      Turn, Inc. is an online advertising clearinghouse that allegedly attached un-deletable tracking cookies to Verizon customer identifiers to collect and send their Web browsing and usage data to Turn’s servers. Verizon customers Anthony Henson and William Cintron filed a proposed class action lawsuit against Turn on behalf of all Verizon customers in New York, but the company argued that the customers should be forced into arbitration.

    • Wonder why Congress doesn't clamp down on its gung-ho spies? Well, wonder no more
      When Edward Snowden revealed the extent of illegal operations carried out by American spy agencies, many wondered whether the US Congress was either unaware or had simply turned a blind eye toward them.

      Nevertheless, Congress did act, restricting some programs and declaring others illegal. Even the notoriously secretive FISA Court, which scrutinizes some of Uncle Sam's surveillance activities, got some much-needed sunlight shined on it.

      As time has gone on, however, that desire to clamp down on abuse of power has lightened, with only Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) continuing to openly challenge the agencies' conduct and highlight discrepancies between what is claimed and what is actually done.

    • Uber is apparently facing a third federal criminal investigation
      Federal investigators are probing an internal program, dubbed "Hell," that Uber used to keep tabs on its leading competitor, Lyft, the Wall Street Journal is reporting.

      "Uber created fake Lyft customer accounts, tricking Lyft’s system into believing prospective customers were seeking rides in various locations around a city. That allowed Uber to see which Lyft drivers were nearby and what prices they were offering for various routes," the Journal reports. "The program was also used to glean data on drivers who worked for both companies, and whom Uber could target with cash incentives to get them to leave Lyft."

    • Tribunal says EU judges should rule on legality of UK surveillance powers
      EU judges are to be asked to rule on the legality of Britain’s mass digital surveillance powers, the UK’s top national security court has said.

      In a politically charged judgment on Friday, the investigatory powers tribunal (IPT) ruled that the European court of justice (ECJ) should decide whether the UK’s bulk collection of communications data, tracking personal use of the web, email, texts and calls, is legal.

      The ruling said: “By the end of the hearing it was clear that both parties either agreed to or saw the necessity for a reference to the [ECJ’s] grand chamber, and the need for it is, we suggest, obvious from this judgment.”

      The ruling is a victory for the campaign group Privacy International, which brought the case following last December’s ruling by the ECJ that the “general and indiscriminate retention” of communications data by governments was illegal.

    • EU court must rule on legality of UK's mass surveillance – tribunal
      The UK's Investigatory Powers Tribunal, which oversees the country's spy agencies, has said the European Court of Justice should rule on the legality of the government's mass-surveillance legislation.

      The case was brought against MI5, MI6 and GCHQ by campaign group Privacy International as part of a continued bid to prevent the government from collecting and retaining bulk communications data (BCD).

      In its judgment, handed down today, the court referred the case up to the ECJ.

      It said that, by the end of the four-day hearing, "both parties either agreed to or saw the necessity for a reference to the Grand Chamber [ECJ], and the need for it is, we suggest, obvious from this judgment".

    • Even a mask won’t hide you from the latest face recognition tech

      Amarjot Singh at the University of Cambridge and his colleagues trained a machine learning algorithm to locate 14 key facial points. These are the points the human brain pays most attention to when we look at someone’s face.

    • Google Drive is being replaced by Backup and Sync: What to expect [Ed: This whole give-us-all-your-data hype (like Google Drive) was always about leverage over people, for storage that costs just pennies]

      Google Drive for both the PC {sic} and Mac will begin to die on December 11, Google said this week. Depending on whether you’re a business user or a strict consumer, it will be reborn as one of two new apps: Backup and Sync, for consumers, or Drive File Stream, for businesses.

    • Facebook claims it can reach more young people than exist in UK, US and other countries

      Facebook claims that it can reach more millennials and people in other demographics than actually exist in the UK, US, Australia, Ireland and France, according to census data.

    • Facebook claims it's reaching more people than, er, actually exist

      "Through Facebook's Ads Manager, we can see that Facebook claims a potential reach within the US of 41 million 18-24 year olds, 60 million 25-34 year olds and 61 million 35-49 year olds.

      "By contrast, US Census data indicates that last year there are a total of 31 million 18-24 year-olds, 45 million 25-34 year-olds and 61 million 35-49 year-olds," suggested Wieser in his research paper, which has been seen by V3.

    • Intelligence Oversight Committees Are Being Stocked With Former Intelligence Agency Employees
      RESOLVED: this nation's intelligence oversight is indisputably useless. It's about 99% joke and 1% Ron Wyden dog-whistle questions that go unanswered for months or years. Committees on both sides of the legislature are composed mostly of surveillance cheerleaders and flak catchers profoundly uninterested in performing actual oversight. Reform efforts tend to take place despite the intelligence committees, rather than because of them. Every so often, positive changes are made for purely partisan reasons.

      Super-friendly "oversight" committees aren't helping hold our nation's multiple intelligence agencies accountable. But it goes deeper than lawmaking fanboys/girls holding prominent positions in intelligence committees. The desire to limit accountability traces back further than the front-mouths lobbing softballs to IC leaders at Congressional hearings. As Tim Johnson and Ben Wieder report for McClatchy News, the intelligence community has been stocking committees with home teamers for years.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • President Trump and Attorney General Sessions Want to Enshrine a Business Right to Discriminate Into the Constitution
      If Masterpiece Cakeshop wins at the Supreme Court, the ruling will undermine more than the nation’s nondiscrimination laws.

    • Doctors beat Irma to Guantánamo to operate on alleged war criminal’s spine
      With Hurricane Irma aimed at the Caribbean, the Pentagon scrambled a U.S.-based neurosurgery team to the Navy base at Guantánamo to operate on the spine of an alleged war criminal whose lawyers say was at risk of paralysis.

      Abd al Hadi al Iraqi, awaiting trial on charges he led the al-Qaida army in Afghanistan after the Sept. 11 attacks, has been using a wheelchair and experiencing pain with a bulging lower-back disc from a decade-long degenerative disease, according to his lawyers, who blamed years of “useless treatment” at Guantánamo for the situation.

      But U.S. military officials described the same episode differently — as a demonstration of Department of Defense determination to provide their captives with top-notch healthcare at the isolated outpost.

    • TSA: Behavior Detection Is "Just One Layer" (Of Job-Justifying Bullshit)

      "TSA should continue to limit funding for the agency's behavior detection activities until TSA can provide valid evidence that demonstrates that behavioral indicators can be used to identify passengers who may pose a threat to aviation security."

    • Keyboard warrior: the British hacker fighting for his life
      In October 2013, Lauri Love was drinking coffee in his dressing gown in his bedroom at his parents’ house in the village of Stradishall, Suffolk, when his mother called upstairs to say there was a deliveryman at the front door. Love, whose first name is pronounced “Lowry”, like the English painter, clomped downstairs. In the front doorway was a man dressed in a UPS uniform. “Are you Lauri Love?” the man asked. “Yes,” Love said. In a single motion, the man grabbed Love’s arm while presenting, not a package, but a pair of rattling handcuffs.

      For the next five hours, while dusk turned to evening outside, Love, then 28, and his parents sat in the front room as a dozen or so men from the National Crime Agency, which investigates organised crime and other serious offences, checked the computers in the house. In Love’s bedroom, they found two laptops, and a PC tower humming on his desk. Among the bewildering Rolodex of open tabs in Love’s internet browsers, the officers found accounts logged into several hacker forums and arcane internet chatrooms. Downstairs, Love, who knew that anything said in these limbo moments of investigation could be later used against him, kept the conversation to small talk about the weather and football.

      A little before midnight, Love was told that he was being arrested on suspicion of offences under the 1990 Computer Misuse Act, which covers, among other things, criminal hacking. He was not informed of what crimes he had allegedly committed, and was pressed into the back of an unmarked car, and driven to the police investigation centre in Bury St Edmunds. Love’s computers, along with USB drives and old computing hardware, much of which belonged to his father, a computing enthusiast, left, too. Love, who was subsequently diagnosed with Asperger syndrome – a form of autism that causes him to fret and obsess – did press-ups in his cell until, in the early hours of the morning, he fell into a brief and fitful sleep.

    • Brexit: UK Tories propose changing thousands of laws in secret, without Parliamentary oversight
      Much of the UK's system of laws and "unwritten constitution" derives from EU law, so with Brexit inexorably advancing, the UK has to pass a whole raft of parallel legislation that will replace the EU laws with UK versions, lest there be a "legal black hole" the day after Brexit.

      But it's not as simple as crossing out "EU" and inserting "UK" in existing legislation. The "Great Repeal Bill" is the largest piece of legislation ever put before Parliament, which has to not only translate the rules into UK legislation -- it also has to set out which UK (not EU) institutions are in charge of enforcing those rules and what enforcement powers they'll have.

      There's no time to make such a piece of legislation complete (at least, not according to Theresa May and her government). Instead, the government plans to rely on "Henry VIII clauses" that allow minister to just make up laws, without getting them voted in by Parliament. In effect, the Tories are asking Parliament to write them a blank cheque whose details they can fill in later.

    • David Davis is heading for a tragic failure of his own making
      Stephen Bush of the New Statesman asked a good question the other day. Why do people who hate what Boris Johnson and Liam Fox are doing to Britain go easy on David Davis?

      He’s right to be perplexed. It turns out all those trade deals the leave campaign promised can’t be done for years. Liam Fox has nothing to do except be a public nuisance, which now I come to think of it is the only post he’s qualified to fill. Johnson meanwhile is an embarrassment, even to an administration which seems beyond shame, and Theresa May does her best to keep him locked in an FCO cellar.

      Davis, on the other hand, is Britain’s chief negotiator, and as such is the most important politician in the country today. Yet he receives little of the abuse directed at his colleagues. The political answer to the apparent conundrum is that Davis won admirers across the political spectrum because of his honourable career fighting for civil liberties, regardless of the cost to his own career in the Conservative party.

      That’s true, but it misses the basic point that David Davis is a decent man, while to my mind Johnson, Fox and the rest of the gang are not. If you went to speak to Davis in a bar, he would be interested in you and you would be interested in him. By contrast Johnson wouldn’t speak to you unless you could help his career, while a faint but unmistakeable whiff of sleaziness would drive you from the side of Dr Fox.

    • Court to hear challenge to Theresa May's €£1bn deal with DUP
      Theresa May’s parliamentary deal with the Democratic Unionist party will face a judicial challenge in the divisional court in London within the next few weeks.

      The crowdfunded legal challenge brought by Ciaran McClean, a Green party activist in Northern Ireland, is likely to be heard by several senior judges.

    • Police Chief Says He'll Decide Who Is Or Isn't A Real Journalist

      This is true… partly. A website and a Facebook page does not automatically make someone a journalist. But having only a website and a Facebook page does not disqualify someone from being a journalist. There are plenty of journalists out there who've never written anything on a printed page. There are plenty of people committing journalism without ever intending to, and a lot of that revolves around requesting public records.

      The journalist, who Chief Domagalski says isn't one, wrote an article about this arrest, suggesting the refusal to turn over recordings of the arrest was a sign of more widespread misconduct within the force.

    • Federal Court Says Utah Theater Can Serve Up Beer And R-Rated Movies Simultaneously
      Utah and Idaho -- two states with more in common than a border -- have been enforcing First Amendment-trampling liquor laws preventing adults viewing certain films from enjoying adult beverages while doing so. I'm not talking about porn theaters, although the use of the word "adult" certainly leads the mind in that direction. No, I'm talking about regular, old-fashioned R-rated films no one really has much objection to adults viewing, even those who often object to adults viewing films rated X and up.

      In a clear waste of public funds and law enforcement resources, officers are sneaking off to R-rated films at movie houses serving alcohol in hopes of catching them engaged in double-devilry. The movie houses have been fighting back, noting (in lawsuit form) the enforced laws are unconstitutional and inconsistently enforced. Theaters in Utah and Idaho could expect visits from undercover prudes for films like "50 Shades of Grey" and, apparently, "Deadpool."

    • This Officer Was Given an Impossible Choice: Quit Breastfeeding or Put Your Life at Risk. The Courts Sided With Her.
      Forced to wear a bullet-proof vest that interfered with breastfeeding, Agent Hicks felt she had no choice but to resign.

      When the Pregnancy Discrimination Act was passed almost 40 years ago, it was intended to tackle the range of mistreatment women faced when they became mothers. And it did wipe out some of the most blatant forms of discrimination, like company policies that prohibited women from working during pregnancy at all or “protected” them out of hazardous — and, not coincidentally, high-paying — jobs. But despite this progress, many women today still find that becoming pregnant or having a child results in their careers taking a sudden nosedive.

      That’s what happened to Stephanie Hicks, a narcotics investigator for the Tuscaloosa, Alabama, police department. Just eight days after she returned to work after her maternity leave, she was demoted to a position as a patrol officer. To her face, her supervisors told her it was because she seemed “changed,” implying that it was because she had the “baby blues.” But they were also overheard complaining about the length of time she had taken off for maternity leave, referring to her as a “stupid cunt” and saying they would “find anyway” to “get rid of that bitch.”
    • The Freedom Plea: How Prosecutors Deny Exonerations by Dangling the Prison Keys
      Despite new evidence undermining the convictions of at least eight men for violent crimes in both Baltimore City and County over the last two decades, none were exonerated. Instead, they left prison only after agreeing to plea deals with state prosecutors. In each case, the men took either Alford pleas, in which defendants can maintain their innocence for the record, or were given time-served arrangements. With these deals, the defendants were granted their freedom, but gave up the right to clear their names. (Two additional men took similar deals but years later were fully exonerated after more exculpatory evidence was found in the police files.)

    • What Does an Innocent Man Have to Do to Go Free? Plead Guilty.
      On Oct. 15, 2008, James Owens shuffled, head high despite his shackles, into a Baltimore courtroom, eager for his new trial to begin. Two decades into a life sentence, he would finally have his chance to prove what he’d been saying all along: The state had the wrong man.

      Owens had been convicted of murdering a 24-year-old college student, who was found raped and stabbed in her home. Then he’d been shunted off to state prison until DNA testing — the scientific marvel that he’d watched for years free other men — finally caught up with his case in 2006. The semen that had been found inside the victim wasn’t his. A Maryland court tossed his conviction and granted Owens a rare do-over trial.

      State prosecutors balked, insisting they still had enough evidence to keep Owens locked away and vowed to retry him. But they had also offered him an unusual deal. He could guarantee his immediate release from prison with no retrial and no danger of a new conviction — if he’d agree to plead guilty. The deal, known as an Alford plea, came with what seemed like an additional carrot: Despite pleading guilty, the Alford plea would allow Owens to say on the record that he was innocent. The Alford plea was an enticing chance for Owens, by then 43, to move on as a free man. But he’d give up a chance at exoneration. To the world, and legally, he’d still be a killer.

    • Bill Introduced That Would Make Arrested Protesters Pay Police Overtime, Gov't Expenses
      When faced with First Amendment activity they don't care for, some legislators attempt to gerrymander this right until it only contains the speech they like. This can take the form of cyberbullying bills, hate speech legislation, and, lately, anti-protesting laws.

      The problem with these efforts is they routinely run afoul of the Constitution. Some do better than others trying to stay within the confines of what can actually be controlled by the government, but in most cases, the proposed laws are badly-written rush jobs attempting to paper over the current issue du jour.

    • Why don’t we know if anti-trafficking initiatives work?

      Over fifteen years after the UN Trafficking Protocol was adopted, the evidence available to determine how much progress has been made in combatting human trafficking remains very limited. At all levels of anti-trafficking work, the collection and analysis of data to support a results-based approach continues to be underemphasised, particularly in comparison to the use of emotionally-charged rhetoric and hyperbole.

      This curious allergy to providing valid supporting evidence extends to the highest profile reviews produced within the sector. In the 2015 Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report, the US State Department trumpeted that the progress made since the UN Trafficking Protocol was developed “has been nothing short of profound”.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • Comcast Whines That The Net Neutrality Debate It Keeps Rekindling Is A Lot Like 'Groundhog Day'
      Large ISPs continue to try their best to pretend they adore net neutrality, and have nothing to do with their own perpetual efforts to crush FCC rules designed to keep the internet relatively open and competitive. Verizon recently released an utterly-comical video that blatantly lied about its role in killing the FCC's consumer protections. And companies like Comcast have penned blog post after blog post falsely claiming that the entire world somehow has it all wrong, and companies with a generation of documented anti-competitive behavior are really just misunderstood sweethearts being falsely maligned by fringe radicals.

    • Senators Blast The FCC For Weakening The Definition Of Broadband To Try And Hide The Industry's Lack Of Real Competition
      Back in 2015, the FCC raised the standard definition of broadband from 4 Mbps down, 1 Mbps up, to an arguably-more-modern 25 Mbps down, 3 Mbps up. Of course the uncompetitive broadband industry (and the lawmakers who adore them) subsequently threw a collective hissy fit about the change, because they realized a higher bar would only highlight their failure to deliver next-generation broadband to vast swaths of America.

      And highlight it did: by this new metric, two-thirds of the country lack access to real broadband from more than one ISP. We've explored repeatedly how this is due to a refusal by the nation's telcos to upgrade lagging DSL connections, leaving cable companies with a growing broadband monopoly across huge swaths of the country. With this reduction in competition comes a growing apathy to customer service, as well as the ability to impose new unnecessary and arbitrary usage caps (read: price hikes) without any competitive reaction by the broken market.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Copyrights

      • YouTube stream-ripping site for the masses dead in wake of RIAA suit
        The Recording Industry Association of America, the British Recorded Music Industry, and other industry lobbyists have sent piracy site down the memory hole. The site facilitated illicit stream-ripping for the masses.

        The site, which shuttered to settle a US copyright infringement suit in Los Angeles, allowed pirates to drop a YouTube music video URL into a field on the site. Minutes later, users would get a fresh download of the music from the video. The site, according to the RIAA, was home to 60 million visitors a month.

      • AG Szpunar advises CJEU on cloud-based recording and private copying exception
        Does EU law prohibit a commercial undertaking from providing - without the authorisation of the relevant copyright owner - private individuals with cloud computing services for the remote video recording of private copies of works protected by copyright, by means of that commercial undertaking’s active involvement in the recording?

      • The Crackdown On Torrent Sites Has Produced Many More Moles To Whac
        If the ongoing battle between copyright infringers and copyright holders could be described in any simple term, that term would have to be whac-a-mole. Since the early days of piracy on the internet, the copyright industries have used their legal mallets to smack down any site or service whose head managed to rise out of obscurity. Napster was pushed into irrelevance, as were other similar apps. Then websites that hosted infringing files were slammed. At present, we are in the midst of a crackdown on torrent sites, with the copyright industries blaming them for widespread infringement.


        While Google's services are only the most abused of many for this sort of thing, you can already hear the content industries warming up their voices to sing a tune of how Evil Google is the pirate's tool of choice for copyright infringement. It's worth noting that all of this, however, has emerged despite Google's efforts at complying with copyright laws. It's also emerged as a result of this ongoing arms race waged primarily by the content industries, who could have expended this effort in figuring out new business models on which to make money from their content. Instead, we can mark time in the modern era by what the "piracy threat vector" du jour is. It seems tomorrow it may become Google Drive. Or My Maps. More years on it will be something we haven't even thought of yet.

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How much longer can they fool search engines (SEO) and readers?
[Meme] Indisputable Success
Links 12/06/2024: 'Hey Hi' (AI) Bubble Imploding Already, Danish Media Threatens to Sue OpenAI
Links for the day
Links 11/06/2024: Floods in Germany and Brazil, Political Violence
Links for the day
Gemini Links 12/06/2024: Sketching Plants, OpenBSD Pubnix
Links for the day
"2025 the year of Linux on the Desktop"
Charlie Stross quote
In Bahrain, Historically Low on GNU/Linux Adoption, Things Change for the Better
They have some people who understand Free software
Daniel Pocock Received Twice as Many Votes as Andreas Tille (Debian Project Leader After 2024 Election)
From the media yesterday...
Debian is Built by Hundreds of Volunteers and 524 Irish People Voted for Daniel Pocock
524 in that area went to the polling station to vote Daniel Pocock (Ind)
[Meme] RMS is 'Too Old', Says Company Run by a Person 5 Years His Junior (Ginni Rometty) and 10 Years His Junior (Arvind Krishna)
Never again?
[Meme] Women in Computer Science
Grace Hopper, Ada Lovelace etc.
Over at Tux Machines...
GNU/Linux news for the past day
IRC Proceedings: Tuesday, June 11, 2024
IRC logs for Tuesday, June 11, 2024
Togo: GNU/Linux Growing Fast This Year, Now Measured at 6%
Sending Bill Gates with a suitcase to bribe African officials isn't enough anymore
Free Software Projects Need to Chase Away Men Who Attack Women Rather Than The Women Who Complain
A just society holds people accountable rather than covers up such blunders
Improving the Image of Women in Free Software by Hiring and Promoting the Proficient Ones
Million's shaman background isn't the problem, or even the superstitious ghost-chasing. The problem is that she has absolutely no background in Free software.
They Say Cash is King
People who value their freedom will pay with cash any time they can
'Team Microsoft' Wants to Leverage Our Popularity as a Weapon Against Us
In the past 2 days we published 64 articles and served over a million HTTP/S requests
[Meme] Microsoft Has Enough of Its Own Problems (Layoffs Abundant), It Won't Rescue IBM or Canonical
"It's OK, we're partners"
Know Your Allies, Know Your Enemies
The answer to censorship attempts is more speech, not less speech
Debian is Back to Taking Money From Microsoft, the Company That's Attacking Linux From the Inside
If Debian fails to understand what's wrong with it, that's a problem
Ghana: Windows Down From 97% to Just 15%
The doors are closing on Windows
Links 11/06/2024: Practice of Retaliatory Layoffs at Microsoft
Links for the day
Gemini Links 11/06/2024: GMID 2.0.5 and More
Links for the day
The United States Will Cut Off or Cull Firefox
It is only a matter of time
[Meme] Firefox Is Not an Alternative to Google, Only to Chrome (and It Has Become Proprietary or OSPS Like Chromium)
The illusion of remaining "choice" on the Web
No, the World Wide Web Isn't Open (and Hasn't Been for Years)
It's proprietary all the way now
The War on Free Software Reporters - Part VII - Groupthink, Censorship Demands, and Ultimatums
There's a lot of groupthink in the Free software community
Microsoft Told Us That LLMs Were a Boon for Azure and 'Clown Computing', But the Thousands of Layoffs This Month Prove That It Was a Lie All Along
Azure is collapsing
Why We Post Statistics About the Usage of Operating Systems Worldwide
We're hoping to see GNU/Linux at over 10% (on desktops/laptops) some time in the coming years
Winning Defamation Cases is Incredibly Difficult (for Plaintiffs), Even in the United States and the United Kingdom
SLAPP should always backfire
In Kuwait, Microsoft's Windows Fell From 97% to Just 15%
According to statCounter
GNU/Linux in Philippines Climbs to New Levels
This is an all-time high
Links 11/06/2024: Windows Outcry and Climate News
Links for the day
Tux Machines Was Always a Women-Run Site (the Real Voices of GNU/Linux, Not Political Props in Corporate Events)
Corporate "diversity" is more of a marketing/PR gimmick than real, genuine diversity
Macao: GNU/Linux Desktop/Laptop Operating System Market Share Rising Close to 7%
GNU/Linux Rises to Record High in Macao
FSF is Now 50% Female, Unlike Red Hat (Which Moaned About Lack of "Diversity" at FSF)
Isn't the hypocrisy just astounding?
Since COVID-19 Lockdowns Windows Fell From Almost 50% to Just 10% in Loas
According to statCounter
[Meme] Quantity Says Nothing About Worth, Value, or Quality
People will generally gravitate towards things of quality and reputation
Microsoft's Windows in Gabon: From 20% 'Market Share' Down to Around 10% in a Few Months
Gabon is not a small country
Meanwhile at
Canonical knows exactly what Ubuntu users want
[Meme] Microsoft (and the NSA) Will Never Forget
The user trying to permanently disable 'recall'
Windows Falls Below 20% in United Arab Emirates This Month
According to statCounter
"Windows 11's Recall AI, known to take snapshots and recordings of user computers regularly, including key presses, was discovered to store all its information in an unencrypted local folder."
"You can copy the data from another user's "recall" folder as another user."
Fedora Week of Diversity (FWD) 2024 Outsourced to Proprietary Spyware of GAFAM
Need to use proprietary software to participate
IRC Proceedings: Monday, June 10, 2024
IRC logs for Monday, June 10, 2024
Over at Tux Machines...
GNU/Linux news for the past day
[Meme] Clown Computing is Better For...
Clown: they said clown computing enhances security
One in a Thousand Voters Chose to Vote Daniel Pocock (as First Preference)
He got about 4 times more votes than what had him win FSFE elections
Daniel Pocock on Good Performance in His EU Election Campaign: Thanking the voters of Midlands-North-West, Ireland
Reprinted with permission from Daniel Pocock
The 'IT Industry' is Already in Ruins
The "powers that be" do not want the "hoi polloi" to possess skills and systems
Microsoft's Windows is Sliding Away Into Minority Platform Territories, Even in Rich Countries With Affluent Computer Users
We seem to be striking a nerve at Microsoft every time we say this
Self-Hosting Should be Taught and Embraced, Outsourcing Creates More Problems (or Risks) Than It Solves
One can control one's destiny...