Bonum Certa Men Certa

Links 16/8/2020: Debian Turns 27, MX Linux 19.2 KDE Edition and GNOME 3.38 Beta Released



  • Leftovers

    • I Read the News Today, Oh Boy...

      The month of July was an interesting month for two newspapers in different parts of the world with, in at least one respect, similar outcomes.

    • HBO Max adds racist-language disclaimer to Blazing Saddles

      Stewart acknowledges that many people think of the movie as "one of the greatest comedies of all time." She also states the obvious -- that "the issue of race is front and center," noting that "racist language and attitudes pervade the film."

    • HBO Max Adds "Proper Social Context" Intro to 'Blazing Saddles'

      TCM host and University of Chicago cinema and media studies professor Jacqueline Stewart provides the intro to Blazing Saddles. She also did the intro for Gone With the Wind.

    • Blazing Saddles Gets Contextual Intro on HBO Max, Just Like Gone With the Wind

      But as the years have gone on, Brooks himself has said that Blazing Saddles was a product of its era and couldn’t be made today. In an interview with Vanity Fair in 2016, he acknowledged that while the film does punch up, ultimately poking fun at the racist characters, there are some aspects that just couldn’t work for a contemporary audience.

      “It’s possible. But I mean, using the N-word so devastatingly and so often—I don’t know,” he said. “I don’t know if that’s possible today. The movie itself, it’s a period movie. But if you made a new one, like Blazing Saddles 2, and you threw the N-word all over the place, you might be in for a lot of trouble.”

    • Education

      • Grading Algorithm: Judicial Review Letter
      • Colorado Springs teachers opposed to 'return to learn' during pandemic sign wills

        A handful of educators signed their wills outside of Centennial Hall Monday in a recognition of their opposition to the resumption of in-person learning this fall.

        The teachers, members of the Pikes Peak Education Association, stopped by the organization's tent to have their wills notarized and signed in front of witnesses, or to symbolically sign a will as a gesture of solidarity for those returning to the classroom.

        "The way it is set up right now, I would never go," said Cari Fox, a seventh grade teacher at Challenger Middle School in Academy District 20 and president of the association. "They're wanting me to teach 100 students a day, and that's a lot of contact for someone that's been in her house all summer. It's a scary proposition."

    • Health/Nutrition

      • Profiteering off the Pandemic

        American billionaires have been cleaning up.

      • Action (Lack Thereof) on Economic Aid Reflects Longstanding Anti-Government Agenda

        The country suffered from the refusal to pay attention to scientists and comply with health advice, and now there's similar refusal to accept economic truths.

      • Community-Based Farms Rise to the Occasion as Big Food Supply Chains Stall

        The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed deep craters in the U.S. food supply chain. Dairies that supply milk and food products to restaurants have had the heartbreaking task of dumping millions of gallons of milk. Many giant meat processing plants had to close down because their workers were getting infected by the virus. The shutting down of these plants resulted in millions of farm animals being “culled” by drowning, shooting and suffocating. The meat processing plants were ordered to reopen when the administration declared that it is essential to maintain the meat supply in late April, even as the death toll and number of infections continue to swell. Since April 22, there have been more than 32,000 COVID-19 cases and 109 deaths among food-system workers, according to the Food & Environment Reporting Network.

      • Russian health officials announce start of coronavirus vaccine’s mass production

        Russia has officially started mass production of the coronavirus vaccine developed by the Gamaleya Research Institute, the Russian Health Ministry confirmed to the news agency Interfax.

      • Taking my home work setup seriously: Ergonomics & settling in for the long haul

        I’ve been very concerned with ergonomics ever since early-career wrist issues had me mousing with my non-dominant hand for six months. One of my university friends had such terrible pain that he became a pioneer in open-source speech recognition for programming by voice (although his issues didn’t turn out to be from repetitive stress injuries). All of which is to say I haven’t used a non-ergonomic keyboard or mouse in about a decade. Still, my home setup, while decent, fell short in a few crucial areas. It was time to make some improvements - I’m in this career for the long run. Join me on this somewhat self-indulgent journey!

      • How QAnon rode the pandemic to new heights — and fueled the viral anti-mask phenomenon

        While QAnon bubbled on the fringes of the internet for years, researchers and experts say it has emerged in recent months as a sort of centralized hub for conspiracy and alternative health communities. According to an internal document reported by NBC News this week, Facebook now has more than 1,000 of these QAnon groups, totaling millions of members.

      • CDC's chief of staff, deputy chief of staff depart agency
    • Integrity/Availability

      • Proprietary

        • Did Fortnite just kill the App Store as we know it?

          Fortnite maker Epic Games sent shockwaves through the tech industry this week when it sued Apple and Google, claiming both companies' app stores are monopolies. If Epic were to win the lawsuits, Apple and Google could be required to overhaul their businesses by making their app stores more favorable to developers.

          The controversy arose Thursday when both Apple (AAPL) and Google (GOOG) kicked Fortnite out of their app stores. The companies claimed Epic violated their guidelines by announcing a way for players to buy in-game currency outside their proprietary payment systems.

        • Medical Debt Collection Firm R1 RCM Hit in Ransomware Attack [iophk: Windows TCO]

          It’s unclear when the intruders first breached R1’s networks, but the ransomware was unleashed more than a week ago, right around the time the company was set to release its 2nd quarter financial results for 2020.

          R1 RCM declined to discuss the strain of ransomware it is battling or how it was compromised. Sources close to the investigation tell KrebsOnSecurity the malware is known as Defray.

          Defray was first spotted in 2017, and its purveyors have a history of specifically targeting companies in the healthcare space. According to Trend Micro, Defray usually is spread via booby-trapped Microsoft Office documents sent via email.

        • MacSnap RAM Upgrade for Macintosh 512Ke

          Installing the MacSnap requires removing the rear case, unplugging the analog board and floppy drive, and sliding out the motherboard.

        • How Apple’s 30% App Store Cut Became a Boon and a Headache

          Today, the App Store is one of the world’s largest centers of commerce, facilitating half a trillion dollars in sales last year alone. And Apple still takes 30 percent of many apps’ sales.

          That commission has proved hugely consequential for Apple. It has been the primary driver of growth in recent years for a company that has nearly $275 billion in annual sales. And it has created some of Apple’s biggest headaches, drawing antitrust scrutiny, fury from app makers and lawsuits from consumers and partners.

          The headaches intensified this week when Epic Games, the maker of Fortnite, arguably the world’s most popular video game, sued both Apple and Google, accusing the companies of breaking antitrust laws by forcing app makers to pay their 30 percent fees. The lawsuits followed Apple and Google’s removal of Fortnite from their app stores because Epic encouraged users to pay it directly, rather than through Apple or Google, to avoid their fees.

        • Apple stumbled into a war with the gaming industry, and the future of iOS is at stake

          Epic countered Apple’s removal with an antitrust lawsuit, prepared well in advance and complete with a detailed 62-page legal complaint. It may be a strong enough case to impose long-lasting changes on Apple’s business. But Epic’s dramatic public performance — an unprecedented bit of corporate trolling the likes of which we’ve never seen — sets up the feud with Apple as a fight bordering on good versus evil, with Apple the corporate bad guy aggressively taxing and restricting developers. Epic’s complaint argues that behavior also breaks the law.

        • Pseudo-Open Source

        • Security

          • Intel Details TDX To Better Protect Virtual Machines

            Intel has published a whitepaper on their new TDX "Trust Domain Extensions" technology for better securing virtual machines.

            Intel TDX is designed to isolate virtual machines from the VMM/hypervisor and other non-VMM system software on the platform. TDX is also able to protect the VMs from some forms of hardware attacks. Intel TDX will be coming with a future CPU generation but so far Intel has not detailed what generation or the timing of such support.

          • Privacy/Surveillance

            • A Third of TikTok’s U.S. Users May Be 14 or Under, Raising Safety Questions

              In July, TikTok classified more than a third of its 49 million daily users in the United States as being 14 years old or younger, according to internal company data and documents that were reviewed by The New York Times. While some of those users are likely to be 13 or 14, one former employee said TikTok workers had previously pointed out videos from children who appeared to be even younger that were allowed to remain online for weeks.

              The number of users who TikTok believes might be younger than 13 raises questions about whether the company is doing enough to protect them. In the United States, the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act requires internet platforms to obtain parental permission before collecting personal information on children under 13. The operators of Musical.ly, an app that was merged into TikTok in 2018, paid a $5.7 million fine last year to settle accusations from the Federal Trade Commission that it had broken those rules.

            • TSA considers new system for flyers without ID

              An identity thief (or ‘bot) with access to the commercial database used as the basis for “pass/fail” determinations would be better able to answer questions about the information in that database than would a real person who is unprepared for this questioning and who has no way to know (or to correct) what misinformation is contained in the database.

              A traveler who shows up at a TSA checkpoint would, it appears, be told they have to install the mobile app, pay a fee through the app (which presumably would require a credit or debit card or bank account), complete the in-app questioning, and show a “pass” result from the app to the TSA staff or contractors in order to “complete screening” and proceed through the checkpoint.

              No cellphone? No fly. (We’ve seen this already in Hawaii.)
              Your cellphone isn’t a smartphone? No fly.
              Your smartphone has a different OS that can’t run the contractor’s app? No fly.
              No charge in your cellphone battery? No fly.
              No signal in the airport? No fly.
              No credit or debit card? No fly.
              Don’t know what misinformation is in data brokers’ records about you? No fly.
              Your record fits a “fail” profile in the contractor’s secret algorithms? No fly.

              According to the TSA’s Request for Information, “The system shall be able to identify if the mobile phone has been or is being ‘spoofed’ or had its Subscriber Identification Module (SIM) card swapped”. We’re not sure what that’s supposed to mean, but it suggests that you might not be allowed to use a cellphone with an open-source operating systems not rooted to Apple or Google, such as LineageOS, or a SIM purchased anonymously.

            • European Commission starts new attack on end-to-end encryption

              The „decryption platform“ at Europol plans to switch to supercomputers soon. A working group is looking for ways to counter end-to-end encryption. By the end of the year, the Commission plans to present a study on how internet providers can break these secure connections and report criminal content to the relevant authorities.

            • Instagram Retained Deleted User Data Despite GDPR Rules

              Instagram kept copies of deleted pictures and private direct messages on its servers even after someone removed them from their account. The Facebook-owned service acknowledged the slipup and awarded a security researcher $6,000 for finding the bug.

    • Defence/Aggression

      • 5,000 people gather to say goodbye to demonstrator killed in Minsk
      • Lukashenko and Putin speak on phone about protests in Belarus

        As protesters fill the streets in cities across Belarus for the seventh straight day, Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko — imperiled as never before — publicly announced that he needed to hold talks with Vladimir Putin about the unrest in Belarus. An hour or so later, a telephone call between the two presidents took place, reported the news outlet Belta, citing Lukashenko’s press service.

      • The day of U.S. victory in the Pacific is often forgotten. Survivors hope its lessons won't be.

        More than 30 million soldiers and civilians were killed in the Pacific theater during the course of the war, compared with the 15 million to 20 million killed in Europe.

        But remarkably, as the 75th anniversary of the end of the war in Asia approaches, on Saturday, Aug. 15, few remembrance ceremonies are planned, and it’s not because of COVID-19.

      • Woman member of Afghan peace team survives attack by gunmen

        No one immediately claimed responsibility for the attack. Both Taliban and Islamic State affiliates continue to carry out attacks against Afghan government figures.

        Koofi is also a women’s rights activist who has been a vocal Taliban critic.

      • Female Afghan Peace Negotiator Survives Assassination Bid

        Koofi was “slightly” wounded but she was in “good health,” tweeted Mohammad Masoom Stanekzai, the head of a 21-member national team designated to negotiate a political settlement to the country’s long conflict with the Taliban.

      • Protesters Gather Outside USPS Postmaster General’s House Amid Voter Suppression Fears

        The USPS recently sent letters to states saying that it could not guarantee that all mail-in ballots will be counted in time for the 2020 election. With coronavirus still a major health risk in the U.S., mail-in voting is predicted to hit unprecedented levels this November. Business at the USPS has also been impacted harshly, with the Associated Press reporting that the organization had a $4.5 billion loss in Q1.

        Trump has frequently raised questions about the legitimacy of mail-in voting ahead of the 2020 election, and he was candid with Fox Business Network about stalling USPS funding in a recent interview.

      • VJ Day: UK commemorates 75th anniversary as royals lead tributes

        Then those who could stand, were invited to do so for a two-minute silence.

      • Frank Figliuzzi Republican QAnon candidate Marjorie Taylor Greene's win highlights coming 2020 crisis

        Some current elected GOP officials, including Rep. Steve Scalise and Rep. Kevin McCarthy, appear panicked that QAnon may usher in yet another extreme shift in GOP ideology. It’s the kind of pivot that would make the tea party look like, well, a tea party.

        They should be worried. One estimate, by Alex Kaplan of Media Matters, claims that dozens of congressional or state legislative candidates this year express some degree of support for QAnon. It’s time for serious GOP thinkers to do what they did when white supremacist congressman Steve King revealed his true colors: deny committee assignments and close ranks.

      • How the QAnon Conspiracy Theory Went Global

        While Q has hopped from one fringe imageboard to another, his followers have thrived on mainstream platforms: Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Telegram. On any given day, an estimated 300,000 to 400,000 people post about QAnon on Facebook, Twitter and Telegram, according to Argentino, who says that it would be a mistake to dismiss them as “lunatics with tin foil hats living in their parents’ basement.”

      • A college kid’s fake, AI-generated blog fooled tens of thousands. This is how he made it.

        At the start of the week, Liam Porr had only heard of GPT-3. By the end, the college student had used the AI model to produce an entirely fake blog under a fake name.

        It was meant as a fun experiment. But then one of his posts found its way to the number-one spot on Hacker News. Few people noticed that his blog was completely AI-generated. Some even hit “Subscribe.”

        While many have speculated about how GPT-3, the most powerful language-generating AI tool to date, could affect content production, this is one of the only known cases to illustrate the potential. What stood out most about the experience, says Porr, who studies computer science at the University of California, Berkeley: “It was super easy, actually, which was the scary part.”

      • A playbook for combating QAnon

        Conspiracies are as old as time, but QAnon has a modern twist: It thrives off [I]nternet sites like Facebook and Twitter.

        I asked Kharazian what the internet companies should do to more effectively combat this conspiracy.

      • System Update with Glenn Greenwald - How Congress Maintains Endins Endless War
      • Further Escalating Tensions, Trump Administration Seizes Alleged Iranian Fuel Bound for Venezuela

        Iran's ambassador to Venezuela, Hojad Soltani, said that neither the ships nor their owners are Iranian but did not address whether the gasoline came from his country.

    • Environment

      • 5 Crazy Ways Climate Change Is Affecting Us

        While we non-ocean dwellers might not notice much of a difference, anything that lives in the ocean and has a shell is already feeling the burn. The changing chemistry is a double whammy for mollusks like clams and oysters since acidification erodes their shells and makes carbonate ions -- the stuff they need to rebuild them -- less abundant. The increased acidity is also harmful to plankton, which sucks because plankton is food for almost anything that swims from whales to Aquaman. The Pacific Northwest has already seen massive oyster die-offs, and unless we begin to reverse the damage, scientists estimate that by the year 2080, even hardier creatures like corals will start to erode faster than they can rebuild.

      • Japanese ship leaking tons of oil off Mauritius has broken in two

        Most of the oil from the vessels have been pumped out, the Mauritian government said on Thursday, but there was still 166 tonnes of fuel oil inside and authorities were working to remove it.

        Japanese Environment Minister Shinjiro Koizumi said on Saturday Tokyo planned to send a team of officials from the ministry and other specialists to assess the damage. The MV Wakashio is owned by Japan's Nagashiki Shipping and chartered by Mitsui OSK Lines.

      • California Temperatures Could Reach Levels of Deadly 2006 Heat Wave When Hundreds Died

        The NWS said "dangerously hot conditions" with high temperatures between 102 and 110 degrees Fahrenheit are expected in the Santa Clarita Valley, San Fernandino Valley and San Gabriel Valley, although Antelope Valley could see the mercury rise to as high as 112 degrees.

        Forecasters also predicted that overnight temperatures will be very warm in the area, only falling as low as the 70s.

        Other parts of the state also have excessive heat warnings and heat advisories in effect. In fact, some desert areas of the state could see temperatures of 120 degrees and higher in the coming days.

      • Indonesia risks repeating an environmental disaster

        The Mega-Rice Project (MRP) was a mega-failure. It produced hardly any rice; the peaty soil, it turns out, lacks the requisite minerals. Instead of spurring farming, the draining of the waterlogged forest with a 6,000km network of canals fuelled fire. A few months after Suharto’s visit, the dried peat burst into flames. It was the biggest environmental disaster in Indonesia’s history. A study published in 2002 found that burning peat in 1997 on Kalimantan and the nearby island of Sumatra generated the equivalent of 13-40% of the average annual global emissions from fossil fuels. The MRP was abandoned in 1999 but its legacy endures in the infernos that have ravaged Kalimantan almost every year since.

      • Excessive Heat Warning in Western Nevada County

        Temperatures are projected to hit 100 degrees in parts of Western Nevada County. Extreme heat impacts are expected through at least next Thursday as the longest stretch of hot weather of the season is forecast.

        During this heat wave, the Nevada County Public Health Department and Office of Emergency Services would like to remind everyone that higher temperatures can be dangerous for all persons but especially the very young, senior citizens, and those with chronic medical conditions. Due to COVID-19 many traditional cooling areas are not open, so residents are encouraged to take extra precautions in planning for the heat. If residents must mix households in order to find relief with air conditioning, they should take all COVID-19 related precautions including facial covering, hand washing, 6 feet physical distancing and disinfection of high touch surfaces.

      • Energy

        • Don’t Let Big Oil Open a New Front in Its War on Environmental Defenders

          Chevron clearly wants me confined so I can no longer work on the case or speak publicly about the company’s gross wrongdoing.

        • Rolling blackouts hit up to 250,000 PG&E customers as ‘heat storm’ drives up energy use

          To help ease burden on the grid, PG&E encouraged residents to draw their drapes, unplug phone chargers and power strips and, for those who have pools, to have their pumps run overnight. Frozen bottled water can also come in handy to help refrigerated food last longer if the power goes out, Smith said.

        • [Old] Power Supplies: A Hidden Opportunity for Energy Savings (warning for PDF)

          Nearly 2.5 billion electrical products containing power supplies are currently in use in the United States, and about 400 to 500 million new power supplies (linear and switching) are sold in the U.S. each year. The total amount of electricity that flows through these power supplies is more than 207 billion kwh/year, or about 6% of the national electric bill. More efficient designs could save an expected 15 to 20% of that energy. Savings of 32 billion kwh/year would cut the annual national energy bill by $2.5 billion, displace the power output of seven large nuclear or coal-fired power plants, and reduce carbon dioxide emissions by more than 24 million tons per year.

          Our research suggests that, on average, about 73% of the total energy passing through power supplies occurs when the products are in active use (Figure 1). Sleep and standby modes, though they account for most of the hours of operation in the majority of products, represent much smaller overall energy use.

          Many products like televisions and computers only spend a few hours per day in active mode but consume far more energy during that time than they do in the longer periods spent in sleep and standby modes. This is easy to see in the following table, [...]

        • Ohio groups launch coalition to pressure lawmakers on House Bill 6 repeal

          A group of environmental, energy and public policy groups have formed a coalition pushing for the repeal of House Bill 6, the nuclear energy plant bailout at the center of an FBI corruption investigation into state government.

      • Wildlife/Nature

        • Trump Seeks to Trash Endangered Species Act by Redefining "Habitat"

          In what prominent conservation group WildEarth Guardians (Guardians) is calling “death by a thousand cuts,” the Trump Administration is at it again, with another proposed change that would weaken the overwhelmingly popular Endangered Species Act (ESA/the Act). This go-round features an attempt to define the word habitat — literally — in an effort to affect what can be classified as critical habitat. If successful, the effort is one that Guardians, and the Center for Biological Diversity (the Center), say would make it harder to protect imperiled flora and fauna in “degraded areas.” Guardians told EnviroNews it is currently “assessing [its litigative] options.”

        • Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf: Textual Manipulations in Anti-wolf Rhetoric

          Less than three months from now Colorado will decide whether to support Initiative 107, otherwise known as the Gray Wolf Reintroduction Initiative.€  Polling done as recently as August of 2019 by Colorado State University found that 84% of Coloradans support reintroduction and suggests that the initiative will almost certainly pass.€  Understandably, the prospect of big, bad gray wolves returning to the state’s sparsely populated Western Slope has not sat well with a vocal minority of folks— outfitters, elk/deer hunters, livestock producers, as well as the self-described political organization Coloradans Protecting Wildlife and Stop the Wolf PAC—who all oppose the initiative.

        • PETA response to Attorney Howard Taylor statement

          The following statement is from PETA Senior Vice President Kathy Guillermo in response to the defendants' attorney Howard Taylor's misleading claims about the settlement of the horse-doping lawsuit Tretter v. Bresnahan:

          Attorney Howard Taylor's statement on Tretter v. Bresnahan was carefully worded and misleading

          [...]

          PETA--whose motto reads, in part, that "animals are not ours to use for entertainment"--opposes speciesism, which is a human-supremacist worldview.

        • PETA Response to Defendants’ Attorney on Horse-Doping Lawsuit

          Attorney Howard Taylor’s statement on Tretter v. Bresnahan was carefully worded and misleading. It was Jeff Tretter’s request—not the defendants’—that $7,500 be donated to the horse rescue charity after the $20,000 figure had already been agreed upon. Mr. Tretter wanted it to be on the record that the horse was the ultimate victim. The defendants delayed and frustrated the legal process by refusing to respond to discovery fully, forcing motions to compel, and attempting to obstruct nonparty discovery. Mr. Taylor’s characterization of the settlement agreement as a “business decision” is no doubt accurate from his perspective. The defendants reached that “business decision” when it became clear that they faced risk of a judgment many times the amount that Mr. Tretter should have won. Furthermore, Mr. Taylor does not know the amount of legal fees spent in prosecuting the claims against his client. The facts stand: Tests showed Tag Up and Go was doped with EPO, this amounted to cheating bettors, and the trainer and owner had to pay up. This should be the first of many such lawsuits.

    • Finance

      • Trump’s Decision to Block COVID Aid to Hard-Hit States Will Cost 4 Million Jobs

        President Donald Trump’s refusal to provide federal aid to states hit hard by the economic crisis sparked by the coronavirus pandemic would cost the country 4 million jobs, according to an analysis by Moody’s Analytics.

      • This Pandemic Brings Out the Worst in Our CEOs

        Last year, CEOs signed a pledge to be better corporate citizens. Then the pandemic hit.

      • Insurance Industry Front Group to Bombard Democratic Convention With Ads Attacking Biden-Backed Public Option

        The ads by the Partnership for America's Health Care Future fearmonger over potential tax hikes and recycle industry talking points against "government-controlled health insurance."

      • MarxMail 2.0

        You may have noticed a reference to the Marxism mailing list in the tag-line at the bottom of my CounterPunch articles. I want to take this occasion to tell you about a recent crisis that nearly put this 22-year Marxism forum out of business and recount its history. Assuming that you are one of the kinds of people that Alexander Cockburn once described as a dwindling number of leftists “who learned their political economy from Marx via the small, mostly Trotskyist groupuscules,” the mailing list might be right up your alley. Maoists and independents, of course, are also welcome. 9/11 Truthers, no thank you.

    • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

      • Trump Didn’t Invent State Violence Against Protesters -- But He’s Escalating It

        Over the past month, a series of investigative reports have detailed the extraordinary way in which the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has come to see journalists and political protesters as domestic enemies. At least two journalists covering the Portland protests were, apparently, targeted by DHS officers, who wrote “intelligence reports” on their activities, and compiled on them the sorts of dossiers more frequently used against overseas terrorists.

      • Needed: Indicators for Measuring Injustice and Societal Decay

        Adequate housing, healthcare, food, public services, education, mass transit, health & safety standards, and environmental protections are the prerequisites for a humane democracy.

      • Familiar Faces Bankroll DNC Convention Account

        Many Democratic donors have already invested in this year’s virtual event.

      • Sanders and Obama: Trump's Attack on Postal Service a Direct Assault on Election

        Both Sen. Bernie Sanders and former President Barack Obama on Friday raised alarm over President Donald Trump’s open attempt to sabotage the U.S. Postal Service by refusing to provide emergency funding in what critics call an effort to hamper the general election—in which millions of Americans are expected to vote by mail.

      • Sanders Warns of Trump Effort to 'Destroy the Post Office to Sabotage This Election'

        The warning from the Vermont senator follows a USPS announcement that it's halting its collection of mailboxes in multiple states—which voting rights advocates rebuked as evidence of "massive voter suppression."

      • Still happening For six consecutive Saturday, thousands march in Khabarovsk in support of ousted governor

        Protesters in Khabarovsk have held regular mass demonstrations for more than a month in support of former Governor Sergey Furgal. On August 15, for the sixth consecutive Saturday, a large crowd of people marched through the center of the city toward the regional government’s office in Lenin Square (locals call it the White House). City officials reported a “significant decline” in the number of protesters. “Ten times fewer people came out today than for the first rally. [...] This is the sixth straight week we’ve seen less and less activity from the public,” said spokespeople for the mayor’s office. According to the news agency Baikal 24, however, the crowd was just as big as it’s ever been, stretching nearly a mile and comprising roughly 30,000 people.

      • 80 Days Until Election Day
      • Confederate Monument Protests Gain Momentum in Small Alabama Town

        This year cities across the nation erupted in outrage as the stories of police brutality garnered national attention. News coverage of nationwide demonstrations forms a grim mosaic, documenting the trials and tribulations of protesting oppressive institutions: streets flooded with protesters, seas of signs with harrowing messages, street brawls among opposing protesters, and police retaliation, complete with tear gas and rubber bullets. The national conversation surrounding the U.S.’s roots in systemic racism quickly focused on those ubiquitous symbols of the nation’s sordid history which stand tall above city streets across the country: Confederate monuments.

      • Burial Site Found on a Property Tied to Obama, Causing Tension With Native Hawaiians

        On a Wednesday morning in early July, the Oahu Island Burial Council logged on to Zoom for its monthly meeting. Members, who are appointed by the governor to oversee and consult on the treatment of Native Hawaiian remains, faced a long agenda. Bones had been found at a variety of construction sites. Some were discovered under a sidewalk, others near a waterline replacement project.

        Kamuela Kala‘i was there to speak up for ancestors in Waimanalo, a Native Hawaiian community in eastern Oahu. In January, workers had found human remains, or iwi kupuna, as they reshaped a multimillion-dollar oceanfront lot into a luxury compound being developed by Marty Nesbitt, the chair of the Obama Foundation and head of a Chicago-based private-equity firm. The bones were unearthed in an area where the owners were planning a swimming pool and septic system, and they were reburied months later on another part of the property. A state official made the decision to relocate the remains.

      • Obama and the Beach House Loopholes

        As Barack Obama entered the home stretch of his presidency, his close friend Marty Nesbitt was scouting an oceanfront property on Oahu, the Hawaiian island where the two regularly vacationed together with their families.

        A home in the nearby neighborhood of Kailua had served as the winter White House for the Obama family every Christmas, and photographers often captured shots of Obama and Nesbitt strolling on the beach or golfing over the holidays.

      • Chinese accounts blast Trump, with help from AI-generated pictures

        A network of accounts on multiple platforms has been criticizing Trump and broadcasting more positive images of Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden, as part of an apparent campaign to rebuke the White House, according to a report published Wednesday by Graphika, a New York-based research firm.

      • The selection of Kamala Harris and the degradation of American politics

        In terms of her politics, there is clearly nothing “historic” about Harris. As district attorney in San Francisco (2004-2011), attorney general in California (2011-2017), and, finally, US senator (2017 to the present), Harris has compiled a track record of backing the police, locking up workers and immigrants, covering up for the banks and supporting militarism and war.

        Wall Street is certainly happy with the choice. “A VP pick that big business can back,” ran a headline on the inside pages of the New York Times. As for the military, its main concern is what will happen if the aging Biden doesn’t make it through a full term. Since the beginning of the Trump administration, opposition from the Democratic Party has been focused on issues of foreign policy. Harris, who has no other agenda than her own self-promotion, will be silly putty in the hands of the military-intelligence apparatus.

        The “historic” character of the Harris nomination is premised entirely on her race and gender. She would be the “first African-American vice president,” the “first Asian-American vice president” and the “first female vice president.” She already is the “first Black woman on the national ticket of the Democrats or Republicans.” Everything is about the symbolism involved in the choice of Harris, with not a word about the program of a Democratic Party administration.

      • Why Sex Workers Are Wary of Kamala Harris

        As attorney general, Harris was also active in leading the charge against Backpage.com, a website that hosted classifieds ads and was used by many escorts — and, according to sex workers, a platform that was used as a resource for vetting clients and keeping themselves safe. In 2016, she filed numerous charges against the owners of the site, including money laundering, pimping, and conspiracy to commit pimping. Her argument was that it was a hub for sex trafficking, with some of the victims being children, even though the site was far more often used by escorts doing consensual sex work.

        [...]

        Harris also was one of the cosponsors of SESTA/FOSTA, the controversial anti-sex trafficking legislation. SESTA/FOSTA was intended to curb online sex trafficking by holding website publishers responsible for third-party ads promoting trafficking on their platform. But sex workers have long argued that SESTA/FOSTA has had the opposite effect, doing nothing to curb nonconsensual sex trafficking while simultaneously forcing those who do consensual sex work onto the streets and putting their welfare at risk. While there is little hard data, some surveys have shown that violence against sex workers has risen as a result of SESTA/FOSTA, and Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Penn.) last year called for a bill looking into the ramifications of the legislation.

      • China’s Soft-Power Grab

        For Beijing, the United Nations is a safe space: a highly bureaucratic, hierarchical culture, staffed by international civil servants who defer to powerful states, whether China, Saudi Arabia, or the United States—no matter how badly they behave. At the height of the pandemic, the director-general of the World Health Organization (WHO), Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, found time to deliver virtual commencement addresses to top American and Chinese universities, including President Xi Jinping’s alma mater.

      • Inside Trump's Impeachment

        Former House Judiciary attorney Norman Eisen, author of a new insider account of Trump’s impeachment, joins Pushback to debate and discuss the Mueller probe, Ukrainegate, and more.

        In his new book “A Case for the American People,” former House Judiciary Committee attorney Norman Eisen tells the inside story of the Democrats’ impeachment efforts against President Trump. Eisen joins Aaron Maté to debate and discuss the Mueller probe, Ukrainegate, and more.

      • Compromise & the Status Quo

        Life is all about compromise, people say. Don’t I know it. That is, don’t I know that people say it. Personally, I don’t think it’s true. When people say this, they are conflating “life” with “society” and even then, they are limiting the concept of “society” to how the powerful define it, not to how it really is, has been, or could be.

      • Amid 'Coup Attempt in the Making' by Trump, Top Democrat Demands Rapid IG Probe Into Postmaster General

        Rep. Gerry Connolly warned that the timing of Louis DeJoy's policy changes suggest a "deliberate attempt" to influence the November election.

      • The Reign of Error

        He’s flailing, more desperate. More lost in a welter of words that no longer answer any question but only generate more questions. I have not even mentioned his name and my readers know of whom I speak. Trump has finally achieved the sort of fame he has always longed for. But like many if not most of his accomplishments, it bears out the old saw: Be careful what you wish for… He has done this in the last stages of what events—as I read them—increasingly suggest will be his complete and utter breakdown.

      • Whispers in the Asylum (Seven Days in August)

        Hollow Resistance: The Antidote to Obama Nostalgia Syndrome

      • We Do Not Live in the World of Before

        Following the announcement of US presidential candidate Joe Biden picking Kamala Harris for VP, I have seen many social media posts. US American liberal friends seem thrilled and some have already started the “vote shaming.” Biden and Harris have been forgiven or, better yet, not even noted for their centrist, rightwing past. And I have US American leftist, anarchist, and socialist friends lamenting the betrayal, once again, of the Democratic Party to working class people. Most of them are anticipating another four years (or more) of Trump. As one who is considered to be far left, I must concur with the latter. The Democratic establishment is once again banking on identity politics in favor of substance. It is digging in its heels to the noxious muck of late capitalism, as it always has. That might have worked before, but we do not live in the world of before.

      • Outrage in Oregon After Federal Agents Teargas Protesters Who 'Held the Line Against Injustice' by Blocking Bus With Deportees
      • 'Big News': GAO Says Top Trump DHS Officials Wolf and Cuccinelli Appointed Illegally

        Democratic lawmakers said the GAO decision "paints a disturbing picture of the Trump administration playing fast and loose by bypassing the Senate confirmation process to install ideologues."

      • Will Biden be Less Belligerent Than Trump?

        The only Democrat nominee in the presidential contest is former vice-president Joe Biden, and he has chosen a non-white running-mate who Trump€ calls€ “extraordinarily nasty”, so it looks like we’ll be in for four years of the man€ known to€ Trump as “Sleepy Joe.”

      • The Greater Quiet

        The Trump administration’s response to the coronavirus has been a deadly disaster: The patchwork of lockdowns has failed to effectively curb the spread, the economic toll continues to climb, and amidst it all the president has tended more to his media appearances than to the needs of the people. Illustrator Steve Brodner has been drawing daily portraits of faces of those affecting and affected by these events, and each week we’ll be publishing new installments. This is the first week, and you can follow along here.

      • Toppled Monuments and the Struggle For Symbolic Space

        Outrage and anger directed at monuments, religious imagery and art itself is nothing new in humankind’s chequered history. Usually we think of iconoclasm as the smashing of religious images, relics and stained glass windows. The Tudor period in English history epitomizes this state-administered intention to smash the icons. Tabitha Barber and Stacy Boldrick (Art Under Attack: histories of British iconoclasm [2013] identify the different dimensions of iconoclasm: the “iconoclastic zeal of 17th century Puritan reformers, whose violent actions were enshrined in legislation; the symbolic statue-breaking that is an aspect of political difference and which accompanies political change; the targeted attacks on cultural heritage at the beginning of the 20th century, and attacks on art by individuals stimulated by moral or aesthetic outrage.” Barber and Boldrick make two things crystal clear: iconoclastic attacks are not the on-off act of a crazy person and they have purpose and intention.

      • 'Exact Right Message': Ed Markey's Must-Watch 2020 Campaign Ad Praised for Highlighting Broken Social Contract

        "With all due respect, it's time to start asking what your country can do for you."

      • The Working Families Party Endorses Biden and Harris

        Joe Biden will be nominated for president next week by the Democratic National Convention. But he just got another party’s backing this week.

    • Freedom of Information/Freedom of the Press

      • The show trial of Julian Assange: A cruel and pseudolegal farce

        Yesterday’s hearing in London made clear, if any further proof was needed, that the prosecution of Julian Assange is a shameful and degrading show trial, intended to railroad an innocent man to prison or death for revealing the crimes of US imperialism.

        In a botched proceeding, Assange was initially not brought to the video room to join the proceedings, the US prosecutors failed to show up after getting the hearing time wrong, and, with only five observers allowed in the courtroom, every journalist and legal observer who tried to listen to the hearing remotely was not admitted.

        Assange, the world’s most famous political prisoner, has been denied access to his attorneys since March, and he has not seen his family or young children since then.

    • Civil Rights/Policing

      • Small Mercies: The People Have the Right To Visit Their Sea
      • The Trouble with Disparity

        Racism is real and anti-racism is both admirable and necessary, but extant racism isn't what principally produces our inequality and anti-racism won't eliminate it.

      • 'Go Home, Racists!': BLM Counterprotesters Shout Down White Nationalists in Stone Mountain, Georgia

        "Hundreds of workers from across Georgia took a stand against racism and won."

      • Following Outrage, Trump Pulls Nomination of "Unapologetic Racist' William Perry Pendley to Oversee Nation's Public Lands

        "Pendley never should have been nominated, and the fact that he was shows you what you need to know about this administration's conservation priorities."

      • ICE guards ‘systematically’ sexually assault detainees in an El Paso detention center, lawyers say

        Guards in an immigrant detention center in El Paso sexually assaulted and harassed inmates in a “pattern and practice” of abuse, according to a complaint filed by a Texas advocacy group urging the local district attorney and federal prosecutors to conduct a criminal investigation.

        The allegations, detailed in a filing first obtained by ProPublica and The Texas Tribune, maintain that guards systematically assaulted at least three people in a facility overseen by Immigration and Customs Enforcement — often in areas of the detention center not visible to security cameras. The guards told victims that no one would believe them because footage did not exist and the harassment involved officers as high-ranking as a lieutenant.

      • People often have multiple social identities even in the physical realm

        The way you naturally create multiple social identities in the real world is simple; you don't tell everyone you interact with about everything you do, especially in detail. You are in practice one person at work, another person at home, a third person at your bike club, a fourth person on the photowalks you do (or did) with the group of regulars, and so on and so forth. These disjoint groups of people may have some idea that you have other identities (you may mention to your co-workers that you're a keen bicyclist and are in a bike club), but they probably don't know the details (and often they don't want to). In practice these are different social identities and you're a different person to all of these groups; each one may well know some things about you that would surprise others who know you.

    • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

      • The Early Internet at Harvard: Scott Bradner

        Scott Bradner was given his first email address in the 1970's, and his workstation was the gateway for all Internet connectivity at Harvard for some time. Join Donald Sharp and Russ White as Scott recounts the early days of networking at Harvard, including the installation of the first Cisco router, the origins of comparative performance testing and Interop, and the origins of the SHOULD, MUST, and MAY as they are used in IETF standards today.

    • Monopolies

      • Epic Games' antitrust lawsuits against Apple and Google assigned to judges in San Francisco and San Jose, case management conferences scheduled for mid-November

        In the 2010s, the most important legal battles surrounding smartphones and tablet computers were centered around patent infringement assertions (even Oracle v. Google, though the patent part went nowhere while the most controversial question of software copyright law took center stage and is now going to be adjudged by the Supreme Court). To the extent that major players brought antitrust claims against each other, they, too, involved patents, particularly standard-essential patents.

        The strategically most important topic for smartphone-related litigation in the 2020s--though 5G and other developments will continue to give rise to patent disputes--may very well be the way the iOS and Android app stores are run. There's a lot at stake there, not only but first and foremost in monetary terms. Epic Games' long-planned and well-orchestrated litigation and PR blitz against Apple and Google is clearly bigger than any--if not all--of the pending patent cases combined, especially when considering that Capitol Hill is already looking into the same set of issues. We're still going to see spats over who invented what--but even more critical than IP ownership is the gatekeeper role that the major platform makers and app store operators play.

      • Cravath lawyers who represented Qualcomm against FTC and Apple are now suing Apple on Epic Games' behalf over App Store monopoly

        An all-out war over Apple's App Store (and, in parallel, Google's Play Store) commissions is raging in the Northern District of California, where Fortnite maker Epic Games brought private antitrust lawsuits against both platform makers yesterday. Under the #FreeFortnite hashtag, a social media campaign appears to have huge momentum on Twitter right now.

        In a matter of weeks I'm going to announce my new game, and it's going to have very broad appeal, much more so than the trivia game I launched in 2018. I bet it's going to be one of the most talked-about games of 2020. In its first release, it won't come with in-app purchasing, but we'll add that in our second release. Just like any other app developer, I'd like to keep more than 70% of the App Store and Play Store purchases my product will generate, but I try to distinguish that natural de$ire on my part from the manifest antitrust violation some folks allege. For now I'm still at the opinion-forming stage.

        Based on what is known about Spotify's positions (as some of the correspondence between Apple and Spotify was made public), its EU antitrust complaint against Apple is presumably just a self-serving attempt by a Swedish entity to capitalize on EU competition chief Vestager's protectionist tendencies. At least I can't see how my company is going to benefit from a Lex Spotify. Then there's the Pepper v. Apple class action, trying to make a case of consumer harm, but consumers won't truly benefit--it's a money-making scheme for class action lawyers.

      • This week in IP: Qualcomm beats FTC, Fed Circuit extends closure, Haier files constitutional case

        The US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled on Tuesday, August 11, that Qualcomm’s standard essential patent licensing model, including its insistence on licensing only to end-product manufacturers and ‘no chips, no licence’ policy, was not anti-competitive.

        In its decision in FTC v Qualcomm, the court reversed a previous judgment from Judge Lucy Koh at the District Court for the Northern District of California in 2019 and held that Qualcomm’s OEM-level licensing policy, however novel, did not constitute a violation of the Sherman Act.

      • Ninth Circuit: Qualcomm OEM licensing not anti-competitive

        The appeals court yesterday reversed the district court decision in FTC v Qualcomm, but wouldn’t say whether licensing exclusively to OEMs was FRAND

      • Patents

        • Artificial Intelligence and Patent Law: What Happens After DABUS?

          Tham also said a careful distinction needs to be drawn between AI-assisted and AI-generated inventions.

          AI-assisted inventions are made with significant human intervention with the aid of AI. For example, a life sciences inventor may use AI software while developing new drugs. Generally, these inventions can be protected as patents under existing law, provided they are novel and non-obvious.

          On the other hand, AI-generated inventions are those created by artificial intelligence (such as the DABUS inventions) with little in the way of human contribution. These creations are not protectable under existing patent laws. These applications have been refused by the USPTO, UKIPO and EPO.

          However, while the question of AI as a patent holder settled conclusively, there still are remaining questions of how AI fits into the patent application process.

        • Salarius Pharmaceuticals Reports Business Highlights and Second Quarter 2020 Financial Results

          European Patent Office (EPO) issued Patent EP2744330 for seclidemstat

        • Patent Office Updates You Need to Know

          The European Patent Office (EPO) has announced that all in-person events through December 31 will take place online, unless indicated otherwise.

          The Canadian Intellectual Property Office (CIPO) has announced its final extension of designated days, with the agency confirming that any deadlines and fee payment dates falling between 16 March and 21 August 2020 are automatically extended until August 24, 2020.

        • INmune Bio (INMB) Announces European Patent Granted Covering INmune Bio's XPro1595
        • European Patent Granted Covering INmune Bio’s XPro1595

          INmune Bio, Inc. (NASDAQ: INMB) (the, “Company”), a clinical-stage immunology company focused on developing treatments that harness the patient’s innate immune system to fight disease, announced today that the European Patent Office (EPO) has granted EP Pat. No. 2,892,547, titled “A DOMINANT NEGATIVE TNF-ALPHA INHIBITOR FOR USE IN TREATING NEUROLOGICAL DISORDERS OF THE CNS,” which covers XPro1595 and its peripheral administration for treating Alzheimer’s Disease and other diseases of the CNS. The patent, which is set to expire in 2033, is owned by Xencor, Inc. and is licensed exclusively to INmune Bio.

        • Patent Applications in the African Continent having Origin in China

          In recent years, the investment from Chinese companies has increased substantially. Chinese companies operating in Africa have contributed to the development of certain industries in different countries on African continent*. The fact that there is a growing investment by Chinese companies in African jurisdictions may result in a greater concern by these investors to protect their intellectual assets in Africa. In this sense, this article will seek to identify the profile of patent applications having origin in China and filed in African countries, in order to identify the main jurisdictions targeted by Chinese applicants and which are the technological fields of the respective patent applications.

      • Copyrights

        • A decade of justice delayed: on this day ten years ago, Oracle sued Google over patents and copyrighted works

          It was the first smartphone IP dispute (of many) this blog commented on in detail. Initially it looked like a patent case with copyright infringement being more of an afterthought, and as I had actually fought against Oracle's acquisition of Sun Microsystems the year before, I initially felt that Google was a victim of a patent shakedown. But over the years it became known that the Android development team had actually negotiated a license with Sun and decided to go ahead without one--and the focus shifted to copyright.

          Back in the day, neither the parties nor their counsel nor litigation watchers like me would have believed in their wildest dreams that this case was still going to be alive a decade later.

          In my opinion (though I do realize I may--but doubt that I will--have to adjust my position depending on what the Supreme Court will say), one person is primarily responsible for this disconcerting case of "justice delayed is justice denied": District Judge William H. Alsup, who (again, subject to whether the Supreme Court opinion will be within my corridor of realistic expectations) made huge mistakes, all of them in Google's favor and to Oracle's detriment. If Google had been given the choice among all of the world's judges, it would have been hard-pressed to come up with a more biased and more misguided one. Total disaster.

          Meanwhile, the Supreme Court (which is no stranger to this case as it already denied cert five years ago) has scheduled the oral argument, which got pushed back by the coronavirus crisis, for October 7, 2020. This makes it a possibility that an opinion will still come down in 2020, but early 2021 appears more likely, given that two distinct questions for review will (most likely) have to be addressed.

          Theoretically, the case could come to an end this year, but in order for that to happen, the Supreme Court would have to agree with Google on non-copyrightability. I'd have to take back everything I wrote about Judge Alsup above if that happened, but there's no reason to believe so--and a procedural order by the Supreme Court serves as an indication that Google will lose that argument.

        • Piracy Giants KissAnime and KissManga Shut Down

          KissAnime.ru and KissManga.com, two of the largest pirate streaming sites, have gone offline. The operators report that all files were taken down by copyright owners and the sites don't intend to make a comeback. Kissanime is arguably the most visited pirate site in the world and its demise affects millions of users.

        • Adobe Sued For Sending 'Bogus' DMCA Notices to Take Down Genuine Software

          Adobe is being sued in a California court for allegedly filing bogus DMCA notices with eBay in order to prevent a company from reselling its software. When the company responded by filing counternotices, Adobe allegedly circumvented the eBay DMCA complaints system by reporting the seller for selling pirated products, resulting in the termination of the account.



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