EditorsAbout the SiteComes vs. MicrosoftUsing This Web SiteSite ArchivesCredibility IndexOOXMLOpenDocumentPatentsNovellNews DigestSite NewsRSS

07.27.15

Patents in the Android World Further Complicate Freedom in This Linux-Powered Platform

Posted in GNU/Linux, Google, Patents at 3:29 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Large companies love Android but also love patents

The future

Summary: A survey of last week’s news with special focus on Google and Android, which are trying to coexist and thrive in a world full of patent maximalists

ONCE upon a time there was a giant called Xerox that supposedly changed the world by packaging together components that can help replicate documents on a piece of paper. “Xerox” became a household name (or ‘officehold’ name), much like Hoover or Google, although neither was the first to do what it was doing (e.g. search), they just did something very well, perhaps much better than the rest of their industry, at the time they became synonymous with the function at least. Xerox leaned on patents for protectionism, causing all sorts of well-documented issues (not to be covered today) and IP Troll Tracker tells us that Xerox created an entity or a proxy do do its patent aggression. “Xerox is doing just that,” wrote Steph, “preventing its financial coffers from being depleted by abusing the patent system.”

Blackberry, which seems to be transitioning into an(other) Android OEM, just bought a firm, based on financial news sites. “The company’s software sales rose year-over-year,” says one source, “but some analysts were disappointed with the increase because it also included revenue from the licensing of technology patents.”

So Blackberry is already becoming parasitic with its patents, much as we feared a couple of years ago [1, 2] and a year ago [1, 2], alleging that Blackberry was becoming somewhat of a troll or feeder of so-called ‘patent assertion’ entities. What does Google (the Android steward) say about this now that it works with Blackberry on a more secure Android variant? After all, Free software such as Android is inherently incompatible with patents.

“What does “free patents” even mean? It’s a meaningless term.”As we pointed out the other day, some famous Android backers now turn to patents as well. An article by Glyn Moody has warned that “Chinese Smartphone Leader Xiaomi Adds Special New Feature In Order To Enter US Market — A Patent Hoard”. To quote Moody: “The smartphone sector is undergoing an upheaval at the moment, as Chinese manufacturers move up the global market share rankings. Already, the third, fourth and fifth places are occupied by Chinese companies: Huawei, Lenovo and Xiaomi. But it’s the last of these that has emerged as the real star. Although Xiaomi was only founded in 2010, in 2014, the company sold 61 million phones, and hopes to sell 100 million in 2015. Much of that growth will come from outside China: Xiaomi has already started selling its products across Southeast Asia, especially in India, as well as in Mexico, Turkey, Russia and Brazil.”

Google does not seem to mind this and just like Tesla or Panasonic, Google now uses its growing pile of patents for publicity stunts. Google can’t fight back against trolls as they have no products, but it sure likes to pretend to be a champion against trolls.

“Google wasting resources to fight patent troll,” wrote the President of the FFII about this, for it “won’t work anyway” (he linked to this article about “Troll Deterrent” and “​Google holds patent giveaway for startups to ward off trolls”).

We have found nearly a hundred articles about this (effectively serving to amplify Google PR), including [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13]. Nobody really challenges Google’s claims. It’s a PR charade. There are headlines like “Google Offers Free Patents To Halt The Trolls”. What does “free patents” even mean? It’s a meaningless term. It’s something we might expect lawyers to say because they compare ideas to “property” and implementation to “rights” (among other nonsensical metaphors).

One maker of many Android-running boards, Qualcomm, is now in trouble in Europe (we covered this last week) because of patent aggression that goes a long way back, elevating prices and marginalising competition. One writer from IDG calls the effort to split Qualcomm “patently absurd”. “The proposed breakup of Qualcomm by activist investment firm Jana Partners,” he wrote, “as reported by the Wall Street Journal this week, would be a blunder of biblical proportions. The equivalent of Delilah cutting off Samson’s hair while he slept, dividing Qualcomm into separately traded semiconductor and technology licensing businesses would produce two companies of lesser value than the former whole.”

The question is, will that reduce Qualcomm’s ability to exploit patents in a predatory fashion? Qualcomm has become very notorious for that (globally, not just in Europe). We’re not concerned about the “value [of] the former whole”, just the fairness of the competition and one’s ability to enter the market. It’s very relevant to Linux and Free software because whether people know this or not, many devices running Linux (more so than Windows) use stuff from Qualcomm and pay patent tax to Qualcomm even if they avoid Qualcomm.

There is some other patent news pertaining to Android, such as Google’s dumb CCTV Glasses (the Android-powered ‘Google Glass’). We are reminder of this effort and the ambition to hoard people’s CCTV stream, to be retained/stored on the server for searching, based on a new patent [1, 2. Google is treating human lives as an inventory or a resource, which raises all sorts of ethical questions. Apple is hardly better though because it wants to collect people’s fingerprints based on a new patent. Apple’s advocacy sites celebrate other dumb patents from Apple. Android is often being attacked by Apple using patents, so this is definitely relevant.

In summary, Android exists in a hostile environment. Despite that, Android has become the most dominant platform in the world (in terms of growth, sale numbers and so on), so we need to watch out for patent threats. There will be more of them in years to come and Microsoft is blackmailing Android supporters using patents, still.

07.26.15

The ‘Unitary’ Patent Trojan Horse Rammed Down the Throat of Europe

Posted in Europe, Patents at 2:54 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Throat

Summary: Under the guise of ‘unification’ or ‘unity’, existing patent systems are being abandoned and more power gets passed to corrupt EPO officials

THE UPC, promoted by the EPO, still threatens to put Europe under an unprecedented patents regime that invites patent trolls and other nasties, including software patents. The UPC is not going away, it is spreading across Europe these days. Some patent lawyers’ assessment says it might start as early as next year, even before a British referendum (or any other public consultation in member states) takes place, showing that the will of corporations supersedes the public’s interests.

“For the United Kingdom there is the uncertainty of the ‘in-out’ referendum scheduled for 2017,” explains this one site, as it “will decide on the UK’s membership to the EU. Interestingly, if the UK leaves the EU after ratifying the Agreement on a unified patent court, there seems to be little danger to the unitary patent. (Well, no other danger than suffering the loss of a major EU economy, that is.) Fortunately, the ratification process in the UK should be finalized in 2016.”

An article by Pieter Callens (mentioned the other day) recently said that the “UK has formally indicated that its ratification process would be completed in spring 2016″ (less than a year from now).

“Rules are being relaxed to maximise protectionism for monopolies, just like in the domain of copyrights, even if the public is collectively harmed by these.”As recently as last month a paper was published that’s titled “A Unitary Patent for a (Dis)United Europe: The Long Shadow of History”. To quote the abstract: “The international patent system is undergoing a profound transformation towards ever greater global integration of institutions and harmonization of standards. The movement for unification of the European patent system is part of this wider global trend, but the unification goal has proved difficult to realize in Europe notwithstanding persistent efforts dating back to the end of WWII. This paper draws on confidential archived documents to retrace the early origins and evolution of the European unification movement to examine what can be learnt from history. In line with recent historiographies of the synergies and rivalries between international organizations and the European community, the paper reveals three phases in the evolution of norms and institutions in the unification movement in Europe. In the first phase, the European unification project is driven by the Council of Europe as part of an abstract ideal of European integration and is characterized by a ‘co-existence’ model based on common denominators in national laws. In the second phase, the harmonization agenda is taken over by the European Community and its rationale morphed into the community’s goal of (dis)integration of national patent laws and their replacement by a uniform and autonomous patent community system as a strategic tool for the realization of the common market. But the EC’s initiative is frustrated and results instead in partial harmonization with the adoption of the European Patent Convention in 1973 and the creation of the European Patent Organization. This opens a third phase and problematic for the European community which is having to integrate a pivotal external institution into a unified legal architecture to serve the community’s goals. The last part of the paper illustrates with a case study how the shadow of the past has left its imprint in the disjointed and overly complex legal architecture of the latest patent unification initiative in the form of the EU ‘patent package’ which was given the green light by the Grand Chamber of the Court of Justice of the European Union on 5th May 2015 and whose effect, it is argued, is to enlarge the role of the EPO whilst leaving the EPO outside the legal reach of the European Union.”

Another paper, titled “The Unitary Patent: New Rules for Internal Market Lawmaking?”, was also published a month ago. It states the following: “The EU’s patent plans look back on a long history of ups and downs. The ECJ has now dealt with different aspects of those plans, including the latest model that is now poised to enter into force, at three different occasions. That jurisprudence shifts from strict to relaxed, which invites speculation as to the reasons for that shift. More importantly however, the recently relaxed approach may have unforeseen and unwanted repercussions on integration dynamics in general: The novel legislative method of the UP Regulation might be a politically attractive, but legally dangerous tool for pushing flexibility in internal market integration far beyond the scope, possibilities and intention of territorial differentiation hitherto known under the classic mechanism of enhanced cooperation. In fact, the novel method complements territorial flexibility by allowing for flexibility in substantive law. This offers new possibilities, but also comes at higher costs for the unity, stability and coherence of EU integration and EU law.”

We have written about this subject for over half a decade and we have repeatedly explained why the notion of unification, harmonisation etc. (all are cheap euphemisms) is just a Trojan horse for perturbing existing patent systems in favour of large enterprises with many lobbyists. They hope to overthrow pertinent patent offices in member states in order to form a new system under the notorious and corrupt management which we know resides at the EPO. Rules are being relaxed to maximise protectionism for monopolies, just like in the domain of copyrights, even if the public is collectively harmed by these.

HEVC Cartel is Not News, Only the Names of Backers and the Costs Are New

Posted in Patents at 2:19 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

HEVC backerSummary: A few remarks on and a roundup of recent articles about HEVC, which we first wrote about in spring

ABOUT a week ago, well before the FOSS community began talking about it (apparently a hot topic over the weekend), we had spotted the latest news about HEVC, a cartel that we first heard about several months ago, well before it had a widely-recognised (for notoriety) name and a now-notorious press release (the respective Wikipedia page goes well over 2 years back, there are semi-official Web sites etc. so it’s not exactly news). Some people in the FOSS/multimedia world knew what was happening, but the details were rather vague at the time. We wrote about this back in April when Monty (the Ogg guy) mentioned it by name and noted the similarities to MPEG-LA. High Efficiency Video Coding (HEVC) had been turning into a patent parasite with its own ‘official’ troll. New patent cartels such as HEVC basically pile up yet more fees (like royalty stacking) and some of the earlier reports said that this one cartel alone (irrespective of the rest) wants “0.5% Of Every Content Owner/Distributor’s Gross Revenue For Higher Quality Video”” [1, 2]. To quote some background: “In March, a new group named HEVC Advance announced the formation of a new patent pool [see: New HEVC Patent Pool Launches Creating Confusion & Uncertainly In The Market] with the goal of compiling over 500 patents pertaining to HEVC technology. The pool of patent holders, which is “expected” to include GE, Technicolor, Dolby, Philips, and Mitsubishi Electric has just announced their royalty rates and are going directly after content owners and CE manufacturers. HEVC Advance wants 0.5% of content owners attributable gross revenue for each HEVC Video type. To put in perspective how unjust and unfair their licensing terms are, they want 0.5% of Netflix, Apple, Facebook, Amazon and every other content owner/distributor’s revenue, as it pertains to HEVC usage. Considering that most content owners and distributors plan to convert all of their videos over time to use the new High Efficiency Video Coding compression standard, companies like Facebook, Netflix and others would have to pay over $100M a year in licensing payments. The licensing terms apply to all content services that get revenue from advertising, subscription and PPV – which pretty much equals every content owner, OTT provider, broadcaster, sports league, satellite broadcaster and cable provider you can think of.”

“A New H.265 Patent Pool Is Causing Concerns” was the headline from Phoronix (a couple of days ago). A lot of people link to that right now. Actually, it’s not news. The site said that “[t]his H.265 patent pool is expected to be backed by GE, Dolby, Philips, and other names. The group, HEVC Advance, is interested in 0.5% of gross revenue from content owners for each HEVC video type. Some details on this patent pool can be found via the Streaming Media Blog. ”

Well, software patents continue to haunt multimedia and many articles about this [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6] (it was big new last week) did too little — if anything — to emphasise the horrible impact this can have on Free software.

According to the press release, this entity is “an independent licensing administrator”. Cartel is what it really is. Even Microsoft Peter, promoter of other such patent cartels (like the ones Microsoft is in), said that this one “threatens to derail 4K HEVC video streaming”.

The bottom line is that this is hardly news. It goes back to spring and well beforehand (depending on whether one talks about the patents or the formats/methods), but now we know more about the monetary demands. HEVC workarounds may be needed, just like WebM and Ogg (as Free software substitutes by which to bypass the MPEG cartel). We are likely to hear a lot more about HEVC in years to come.

IRC Proceedings: July 12th, 2015 – July 25th, 2015

Posted in IRC Logs at 12:48 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

IRC Proceedings: July 12th, 2015 – July 18th, 2015

GNOME Gedit

GNOME Gedit

#techrights log

#boycottnovell log

GNOME Gedit

GNOME Gedit

#boycottnovell-social log

#techbytes log

IRC Proceedings: July 19th, 2015 – July 25th, 2015

GNOME Gedit

GNOME Gedit

#techrights log

#boycottnovell log

GNOME Gedit

GNOME Gedit

#boycottnovell-social log

#techbytes log

Enter the IRC channels now

Links 26/7/2015: Purism Librem and Freedom, Akademy Updates

Posted in News Roundup at 11:28 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

Free Software/Open Source

  • Migrating phpMyAdmin from SourceForge.net

    Thanks to SourceForge.net, it has been great home for us, but now we have better places to live.

  • CMS

    • PiwigoPress release 2.30

      I just pushed a new release of PiwigoPress (main page, WordPress plugin dir) to the WordPress servers. This release incorporates some new features, mostly contributed by Anton Lavrov (big thanks!)

  • BSD

    • NetBSD Ported To Run On NVIDIA’s Jetson TK1

      The latest ARM platform that NetBSD has been ported to is the NVIDIA Jetson TK1.

      This Tegra K1 ARM SoC Cortex-A15 development board is now in a fairly good working state with HDMI audio/video working along with other stability fixes. The NetBSD -current code is working on this board with the customized “JETSONTK1″ kernel.

Leftovers

  • Airline chief insulted us, claim families of young crash victims

    A group of parents whose children were killed in the Germanwings plane crash have released a scathing letter to Lufthansa’s chief executive, accusing him of ignoring their needs and feelings and insulting them with his company’s compensation offer.

  • Google will block access to its Autocomplete API on August 10, asks developers to use Custom Search Engine

    Are you a developer who uses Google’s unofficial Autocomplete API? Be warned, you won’t be able to do so anymore after August 10, 2015.

    Google currently supports more than 80 APIs that developers can use to integrate Google services and data into their applications. The company also has unsupported and unpublished APIs which people outside the company have discovered and leveraged. One of those is the Autocomplete API.

  • Science

    • Pioneering computer Commodore Amiga turns 30

      1980S BEDROOM BRILLIANCE the Commodore Amiga computer has reached the ripe old age of 30 and is still blazing in the hearts and minds of anyone who took keyboard and joystick in hand and shut the door on their parents.

    • Search for life on Jupiter’s icy moons moves a step closer as work starts on Juice spacecraft

      The search for alien life is moving to the icy moons orbiting Jupiter following the discovery of organic materials hailed as the “building blocks of life”.

      Work is due to start over the coming days on the development of a spacecraft for the European Space Agency (ESA) mission.

      Named Juice (the JUpiter ICy moons Explorer), it is scheduled for launch in 2022 and arrive in the Jovian system around Jupiter eight years later.

    • If You Don’t Fear a Robot Takeover, This Futurist Explains Why You Should

      A Dangerous Master, a new book by academic and futurist Wendell Wallach, takes us on a tour of the nefarious possibilities technological innovations can lead to. It’s not a light read if you’re not already familiar with predator drones and hacking the human genome. But it’s a perfect guidebook to the potential threats mankind faces if we continue along our current trajectory of unchecked innovative progress.

  • Security

    • The scariest thing about the Chrysler hack is how hard it was to patch

      Chrysler is having a bad week. On Tuesday, Wired published a fantastic and gripping report detailing an open vulnerability in Chrysler’s UConnect system, allowing attackers to take control of transmission, brakes, or even steering. There was already a patch available when the article was published, but because cars required physical updates, most cars hadn’t received it. Today, Chrysler upped the ante, asking 1.4 million cars to report to dealerships or install a patch mailed out over USB. It’s the biggest vulnerability we’ve ever seen from a car company, and a firsthand demonstration of how hard it is to patch a problem once it pops up.

    • 1/2 TRILLION spent on IT upgrades, but IRS, Feds still use DOS, old Windows

      President Obama’s team has spent more than a half trillion dollars on information technology but some departments, notably the IRS, still run on DOS and old Windows, which isn’t serviced anymore, according to House chairman.

    • US won’t publicly blame China for massive government hacks – reports

      Despite the fact that numerous American officials have blamed China for the massive hack that involved the personal data theft of millions of government employees, the United States has reportedly chosen not to publicly point the finger at Beijing.

      Two breaches at the Office of Personnel Management this year put the data of more than 22 million Americans at risk, raising concern about foreign cyberattacks and lax government security measures.

    • Car hack uses digital-radio broadcasts to seize control

      Several car infotainment systems are vulnerable to a hack attack that could potentially put lives at risk, a leading security company has said.

      NCC Group said the exploit could be used to seize control of a vehicle’s brakes and other critical systems.

      The Manchester-based company told the BBC it had found a way to carry out the attacks by sending data via digital audio broadcasting (DAB) radio signals.

    • After Jeep Hack, Chrysler Recalls 1.4M Vehicles for Bug Fix

      Welcome to the age of hackable automobiles, when two security researchers can cause a 1.4 million product recall.

      On Friday, Chrysler announced that it’s issuing a formal recall for 1.4 million vehicles that may be affected by a hackable software vulnerability in Chrysler’s Uconnect dashboard computers. The vulnerability was first demonstrated to WIRED by security researchers Charlie Miller and Chris Valasek earlier this month when they wirelessly hacked a Jeep I was driving, taking over dashboard functions, steering, transmission and brakes. The recall doesn’t actually require Chrysler owners to bring their cars, trucks and SUVs to a dealer. Instead, they’ll be sent a USB drive with a software update they can install through the port on their vehicle’s dashboard.

    • Fiat Chrysler recalls 1.4 million cars over remote hack vulnerability
    • Valerie Plame: OPM breach is ‘absolutely catastrophic’ to security

      “When you have access to information about the friends, family members and health issues of someone who works for the U.S. government, you can use that to try to get close to that person and gather intelligence,” she said. “To my mind, the OPM breach is absolutely catastrophic for our national security.”

    • Newest Remote Car Hacking Raises More Questions About Reporter’s Death

      As readers of WhoWhatWhy know, our site has been one of the very few continuing to explore the fiery death two years ago of investigative journalist Michael Hastings, whose car left a straight segment of a Los Angeles street at a high speed, jumped the median, hit a tree, and blew up.

      Our original report described anomalies of the crash and surrounding events that suggest cutting-edge foul play—that an external hacker could have taken control of Hastings’s car in order to kill him. If this sounds too futuristic, a series of recent technical revelations has proven that “car hacking” is entirely possible. The latest just appeared this week.

    • This Jordanian Left Her Life as a Beauty Queen to Be an Islamic State-Fighting Hacktivist

      Lara Abdallat is not your average beauty queen. She was Miss Jordan 2010 and first runner-up to Miss Arab 2011, but she abandoned her career in pageantry to do something slightly more controversial and dangerous.

      Abdallat is currently fighting the Islamic State group and Islamic extremists as a hacktivist with Ghost Security, an international counterterrorism organization tenuously affiliated with Anonymous, perusing the Deep Web and the Darknet for suspicious activity.

  • Defence/Police/Secrecy/Aggression

    • 5 Things You Should Know About the CIA’s ‘Robotic’ Drone Assassination Campaign [Ed: repeats the propaganda about ‘accuracy’]
    • War Without End

      The attack on a Navy and Marine Reserve recruitment station in Chattanooga, Tennessee, was an act of war.

      It was not terrorism.

      Was it terrifying? Certainly. War is terrifying. Was it tragic? No doubt. War is tragic. Was it terrorism? No.

      Muhammad Yousef Abdulaziz killed Marines, three of whom had served abroad.

      He did not shoot up a church, school, or movie theater–he attacked a military target. There was premeditation in his action, intent. He attacked a recruitment station, no different in purpose than the recruiters and training camps we regularly destroy in Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and elsewhere. Although the authorities are still investigating, it is clear his was a political act.

      [...]

      14 years into the war on terror, the longest war in American history, with close to 7,000 dead U.S. soldiers and–conservatively–over 200,000 dead foreign civilians, it should not take an attack on American soil to jar us into asking these questions.

    • Top U.S. commander in Afghanistan acknowledges Pakistan’s role in peace talks
    • William Saletan: Chattanooga wasn’t terrorism — it was an act of war

      According to local and federal officials, Thursday’s bloody assault in Chattanooga, Tenn., was ruthless and deranged. The U.S. attorney says investigators are treating the attacks, committed by a lone gunman at a military recruiting station and a Navy and Marine Corps Reserve centre, as a possible “act of terrorism.” Defence Secretary Ashton Carter calls it a “senseless act of violence.” Navy Secretary Ray Mabus says the attacks were out of bounds: “While we expect our sailors and marines to go into harm’s way, and they do so without hesitation, an attack at home, in our community, is insidious and unfathomable.”

    • Chattanooga Shooting, If Linked to ISIS, is a Act of War, Not “Terrorism”

      I’m not a fan of war or of killing of any kind, but the labeling of the deadly attack by Mohammod Youssuf Abdulazeez on two US military sites in Chattanooga, Tennessee as an act of terror is absurd.

    • Chafee says drone strikes drive the unrest in Yemen

      Lincoln Chafee campaigned for president in New Hampshire last month proudly showcasing his foreign policy credentials based in large part on his opposition to the Iraq war. He also had some things to say about U.S. policy in Yemen.

      The targeting of al-Qaida terrorists with drones has killed militants and civilians in recent years. And many Yemenis have called on the Obama administration to end drone strikes, which Chafee refers to as “extrajudicial killings.”

      “No more drone strikes,” Chafee said in New Hampshire. “One of the reasons I believe we’re in trouble in Yemen is we lost the population on drone strikes issues. That’s what stirred up the population. That’s what is happening in Yemen.”

    • PolitiFact: Chafee says drone strikes are driving unrest in Yemen

      “One of the reasons I believe we’re in trouble in Yemen is we lost the population on drone strikes issues. That’s what stirred up the population. That’s what is happening in Yemen.”

    • U.S. airstrikes in Somalia signal a more direct role against Shabab

      The U.S. is shifting to a more direct role in the near decade-old fight against Al Qaeda-affiliated Shabab militants, launching as many as six drone strikes in southern Somalia over the last week to support African forces battling the group, American officials said.

    • Jon Stewart Blew Last Chance to Ask Obama a Question

      Stewart said to Obama: you’ve tried bombing and overthrowing leaders and arming rebels and … what’s that new thing … oh yeah, diplomacy.

    • They didn’t start on 9/11

      The UK Prime Minister David Cameron has delivered his second speech in as many months on the terrorist threat, proposing a top-down reorganisation of British Islam. His new approach will see ‘moderate’ and ‘reforming’ voices sponsored by the central government.

      This has provoked a mixed response from British Muslims. It is also a remarkably unconservative approach to personal belief, from a supposedly conservative prime minister.

      Cameron’s understanding and presentation of the jihadist threat is that radical Islamist ideology, not Western foreign policy, explains all. In a single sentence, his speech dismissed the latter notion: “9/11 – the biggest loss of life of British citizens in a terrorist attack – happened before the Iraq War”.

      In fact, the speech demonstrated Cameron’s exceptionally poor historical knowledge. Al-Qaeda was attacking Western targets long before September 11, 2001.

    • Obama promotes militarism and murder

      Obama made no mention of the fact that Anwar al-Awlaki was an American citizen, convicted of no crime, judged in no court, but sentenced to death on the sole authority of the president of the United States. Nor did he refer to the subsequent US government murder of Awlaki’s son, an innocent teenager, in another drone missile strike, or the thousands of other civilian victims of US drone warfare across Central Asia, the Middle East and North Africa.

    • The ethnic roots of China’s Uighur crisis

      It’s erroneous to portray the conflict in Xinjiang as a struggle between Islam and the Chinese government

    • Saudi-backed militias capture key Yemen port city

      At least 3,500 have been killed as a result of the Saudi-led war, launched on March 26 of this year. Some 1,700 of these have been confirmed as civilians, according to the UN, with some 3,800 more civilians confirmed wounded.

    • Will Tunisia host a US base to fight Daesh in Libya?

      TUNISIA has once again had to deny allegations of agreeing to host a US military base in the country, reviving speculations over the depth of US-Tunisian relations.

    • Talks with the Taliban: Can Afghanistan set an example?

      The usual Western strategy for dealing with Islamic terrorists is to kill them. President Obama vows to crush Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. The United States helps African nations repel groups like Boko Haram. It uses drones to strike Al Qaeda operatives in any country. “Negotiations cannot convince Al Qaeda’s leaders to lay down their arms,” Mr. Obama stated in 2009.

    • Afghan officials say 14 soldiers killed in US airstrike

      Deaths of civilians and Afghan army personnel in “friendly fire” has become a contentious issue in the country. The toll makes it one of the deadliest such incidents involving coalition and Afghan troops in the 14 years that global forces have fought in Afghanistan.

      Two US helicopters are believed to have carried out the attack against a military checkpoint.

      A statement on behalf of the commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan says the U.S. deeply regrets the loss and offers condolences to those affected.

    • Afghan troops ‘killed by US friendly fire’ in Logar

      At least eight Afghan soldiers have been killed in a US air strike on an army checkpoint in Logar province, south of Kabul, Afghan officials say.

    • U.S. Airstrike Kills Seven in Afghanistan

      A U.S. airstrike in eastern Afghanistan killed at least seven Afghan soldiers, local officials said, an incident that threatens to strain relations between allies who are battling the Taliban and burgeoning Islamic State insurgencies.

    • Up to 10 Afghan Soldiers Killed in ‘Friendly’ US Airstrike

      The airstrike was part of the U.S.-led NATO coalition targeting the anti-Afghan government group the Taliban.

    • Drones and the epoch of one-click wars

      The trouble is that airstrikes and other quick applications of military force are rarely as cheap as they first appear. They tend to cause unanticipated trouble and begin conflicts without winning them. Escalation to more costly warfare then beckons. Drone strikes may prove to be especially misleading this way. Their benefits come fast and are straightforward. Most strikes bring reports of dead terrorists or insurgents, and their disrupted plans are easily imagined. The costs—especially blowback measured in violent anti-American sentiment and pressure toward escalation — arrive gradually and less discernibly.

    • Our machines will decide who lives and who dies

      We already have semi-autonomous killing machines in the battlefields but (theoretically) they will do everything except making the final decision to pull the trigger. That final, ultimate decision is supposed to be left up to a human somewhere who can analyze the situation and decide whether or not the drone is targeting a friend or an enemy and then issue the go-/no-go death sentence.

    • Op-Ed: Libyan war planes attack and sink a ship near Benghazi

      On Sunday, a Libyan war plane from the forces of the internationally-recognized Tobruk government attack and sank a vessel near the port city of Beghazi according to spokesperson for the air force.

    • Remembering the Algeria Hostage Crisis and Deaths of Japanese Nationals: Time for Japan to Listen to Russia

      The hostage crisis in Algeria in 2013 led to the deaths of ten Japanese nationals along with many other individuals from different nations. Sadly, it was abundantly clear from the start that the Libya connection would enter the equation. After all, the terrorist infiltration was extremely close to the border of Libya. Also, since the demise of Gaddafi the region is awash with military arms and countless terrorist groups. Within Libya itself you have various different Islamist terrorist organizations and the same applies to many militias that control parts of this nation. Therefore, in modern day Libya in 2015 you have chaos and a non-functioning state that can’t control the whole of this nation.

    • The Unquiet Sky

      The title comes from the testimony of a 13-year-old Pakistani boy whose grandmother was killed in a drone strike. ‘‘I no longer love blue skies,’’ the boy said, speaking before Congress. ‘‘In fact, I now prefer gray skies. The drones do not fly when the skies are gray.’’ Houtryve attached a camera to a small drone and traveled around the United States, making aerial photographs of the sorts of events that have been associated with intentional or erroneous drone strikes: funerals, weddings, groups of people at play, in prayer or during exercise. His images show Americans in the course of their daily lives, photographed from a great height, in bright sun that throws their distorted shadows far ahead of them, presenting them as unindividuated, vulnerable and human. Houtryve makes it clear that the people in Yemen, Pakistan, Somalia or Afghanistan who are killed by American drones are also just like this. With simple, vivid means, Houtryve brings the war home.

    • Deep trauma of life beneath the drones

      When a Western soldier suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder, there are doctors and organisations who can help them recover from the heartbreaking legacy of war.

      When it is someone from Afghanistan, where bombings regularly wreak devastation and tear families apart, you are unlikely to find any assistance, since there is little understanding of mental illness in the country.

      “The most common treatment is to take your loved one to a religious shrine where they are chained to walls or trees for up to 40 days, fed stale bread, water and ground pepper, and read dubious lines from the Qur’an by individuals with no medical or, for that matter, religious training,” documentary-makers Jamie Doran and Najibullah Quraishi told news.com.au.

      [...]

      “The allied nations that invaded – or liberated, as some still claim – Afghanistan at the beginning of the 21st century have managed to leave an even bigger mess than they inherited.

      “An entire generation brought up in daily fear of death does not augur well for either their future or ours. It may not be entirely fair, but they blame the West and allied nations for the state of their country. Expect some of them, at least, to seek revenge in the years to come.”

    • Chinese Officials Recruited By CIA At Macau Casinos

      Although it seems like cyber-crime gets all the news headlines these days, national and corporate intelligence agencies around the globe still often use old-fashioned cloak and dagger techniques to get the job done. That said, blackmail has long been one of the most effective ways to turn an intelligence target, and agencies have no compunctions about taking advantage of a target’s predilections for drugs, sex or even gambling to blackmail then into cooperation.

    • CIA used Macau casino to trap corrupt Chinese bureaucrats – report

      US intelligence may have used Macau casinos owned by an American tycoon to set a trap for Chinese functionaries who gamble with public money, in order to blackmail and recruit them.

    • China feared CIA worked with Sheldon Adelson’s Macau casinos to snare officials

      China feared that casinos in Macau owned by the billionaire gambling magnate and Republican party funder Sheldon Adelson were used by US intelligence agents to entrap and blackmail Chinese officials, according to a “highly confidential” report for the gambling industry.

    • China Fears CIA Used Macau Casino to Recruit Officials

      A report uncovered Wednesday said the Chinese government believes the U.S. was using Chinese officials’ gambling problems in order to blackmail them.

    • China Fears CIA Used Macau Casinos to Recruit Officials
    • Report alleges China believed Macau Sands infiltrated by CIA
    • China feared CIA used Macau casinos to trap officials: Report
    • Report says CIA used casino to trap corrupt Chinese bureaucrats
    • Beijing feared US agents would snare cadres at Macau casinos
    • Recently discovered Sands Macau report notes suspicions of US intelligence activities
    • Beijing suspected CIA and FBI would trap and blackmail officials in Macau casinos, says report
    • Bob Smith: The strange case of the CIA agent that never was – and his hoard of 1,200 firearms

      Was Bob Smith a super-spy or a super-fantasist? That was the question many in Los Angeles are trying to answer after the puzzling death of man who kept a hoard of more than 1,200 firearms and two tons of ammunition at home.

      The man, who is yet to be formally identified, was found dead in his sports utility vehicle not far from the house in LA’s affluent Pacific Palisades neighbourhood, where his body was believed to have been for two weeks in warm weather before police were alerted.

    • Ex-CIA disguise expert reveals how sex dolls tricked KGB during Cold War

      During the age of cold war espionage, CIA agents resorted to unusual techniques to outsmart the Russian KGB. One method required the use of life-size rubber sex dolls purchased in a Washington D.C. store.

      Walter McIntosh, who headed the CIA’s disguise unit from 1977 to 1979 told Newsweek magazine that the idea came about when CIA operatives in Moscow needed a trick to get Russian counterspies off their tails so they could safely meet with their secret agents.

    • How the CIA Turned a Sex Doll Into a Spy Trick

      Of all the missions Walter McIntosh undertook in his long CIA career, buying life-size rubber sex dolls in a Washington, D.C., porno shop was maybe the most memorable.

      It was all for a good cause, of course. And deadly serious, not just for McIntosh, who headed the CIA’s disguise unit from 1977 to 1979. The agency’s Moscow operatives were in desperate need of something—anything—to trick Russian counterspies into leaving them alone, if only for a few minutes, so they could meet their secret agents without fear of being arrested. A key operation was in peril.

    • The CIA built a secret and groundbreaking mobile text messaging system in the late 1970s
    • The building that’s not on the tourist map

      “People always think that picture was taken blocks away at the American embassy, but it happened here.”

    • Green Beret tells of shooting Taliban in CIA job interview, loses Silver Star for it

      Army Secretary John McHugh, who revoked the award, told The Washington Times through a spokesman that Maj. Golsteyn “assassinated an unarmed Afghan.”

    • CIA Operatives Should Not be Considered Armed Forces Under International Law

      Applying the transmittal letter’s reasoning to the aerial drone strike’s facts, it is unlikely that a US Attorney General would make similar findings with regard to CIA operatives’ participation. The opinion avoids a crucial issue by assuming the operatives carried out this mission from a remote location, presumably where an enemy could not strike, making distinction by insignia unnecessary (why the opinion assumed operatives were distant from the battlefield is unclear, though it certainly made it easier to reach the Prosecutor’s conclusion).

      [...]

      Left to a policy preference, which would be the better choice? Allowing CIA operatives to benefit from combatant immunity while also being considered lawful targets at all times, or maintaining their status as unlawful targets when not directly participating in hostilities who may face criminal liability for hostile actions. Against the lawless foes faced in Afghanistan and Pakistan, perhaps neither presents practical advantage. Nevertheless, the German opinion offers persuasive arguments that might gain support in the international community. Reaffirming US commitment to the principle of distinction might prevent its diminishment on other battlefields.

    • Barbara H. Colby, wife of controversial CIA spymaster, dies at 94

      From 1945 until their divorce in 1984, she was the wife of William Colby — the spy and later spymaster who, as CIA director from 1973 to 1976, revealed the assassination attempts and other clandestine activities known as the agency’s “family jewels.”

    • Turkey Says More Anti-PKK Strikes to Come

      A decades-old conflict between Turkey and the Kurdish PKK has been reignited.

      Turkey vowed Saturday to continue attacks against the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), along with strikes against the Islamic State group.

      “The operations will continue for as long as threats against Turkey continue,” Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said, according to Turkey’s Anadolu Agency.

    • After another senseless massacre, this time in Lafayette, Louisiana, Americans continue to pretend we’re safe from our own gun-toting neighbors

      We Americans respond with anger when Donald Trump warns us of murderous Mexicans, and we worry that ISIS can hit us at any moment. Yet we continue to pretend we’re safe from our own gun-toting, bomb-making neighbors.

    • It ain’t over til it’s over: America’s wars drag on no matter what officials say

      In all three of the countries where the Obama administration declared US wars “over” in the past few years – Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya – the US military is expanding its presence or dropping bombs at an ever-increasing rate. And the government seems to be keeping the American public in the dark on the matter more than ever.

      Pentagon leaders suggested this week that the US military wants to keep remaining 9,800 troops in Afghanistan from withdrawing in 2016, despite the fact that the Obama administration declared combat operations in the country “over” six months ago. The gradual extension of the Afghanistan War hasn’t been a secret to anyone who’s been paying close attention, but sadly it has happened far away from the pomp and circumstance of Obama’s now embarrassingly false State of the Union announcement that the Afghanistan War had ended.

    • Seeking War to the End of the World

      Despite the disastrous Iraq War, neocons still dominate Official Washington’s inside-outside game…

    • ‘Munich’ comparison to Iran deal: silly or appropriate?
    • Is the ‘military option’ on Iran off the table?

      Since then, Israeli media have been pressing hard to restore the military option to its accustomed place “on the table.” Flying to Israel Sunday night for a handholding mission with top Israeli officials, U.S. Defense Secretary Ashton Carter tried to make his reception in Tel Aviv less frosty, telling accompanying journalists that the nuclear deal with Iran “does nothing to prevent the military option.” The context, however, seemed to be one in which Iran was caught cheating on the nuclear deal.

      That this kind of rhetoric, even when it is not from the president, is still poison to Tehran was clear in the immediate reaction by Iran’s Foreign Minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, who insisted Monday: “Applying force … is not an option but an unwise and dangerous temptation.”
      cComments

      Looking for changes in official public statements was my bread and butter during a long tenure as a Kremlinologist. So on Wednesday, as I watched Mr. Obama defend the deal with Iran, I leaned way forward at each juncture — and there were several — where the timeworn warning about all options being “on the table” would have been de rigueur. He avoided saying it.

    • Iran agreement boosts peace

      The agreement has reduced the chance of a U.S. attack on Iran, which is a great development. But the interventionists will not give up so easily. Already they are organizing media and lobbying efforts to defeat the agreement in Congress. Will they have enough votes to over-ride a presidential veto of their rejection of the deal? It is unlikely, but at this point if the neocons can force the U.S. out of the deal it might not make much difference. Which of our allies, who are now facing the prospect of mutually-beneficial trade with Iran, will be enthusiastic about going back to the days of a trade embargo? Which will support an attack on an Iran that has proven to be an important trading partner and has also proven reasonable in allowing intrusive inspections of its nuclear energy program?

    • Understanding US-Iranian past is key to positive future

      Operation Ajax (1953) was a covert operation executed by the CIA to oust the democratically-elected Prime Minister of Iran, Mohammed Mossadeq. While the reasons for this now declassified covert operation exceed the scope of this letter, it is important to note that once Mossadeq was overthrown by forces funded and manipulated by the U.S., he was replaced with the tyrannical Shah of Iran (which the 1979 revolution forced from power).

    • Even on Iran, politicians too divided

      Iran has many more reasons to be suspicious of us than we of them. Our government had supported a puppet regime in their country which held them back for decades and was installed by our CIA. We have intervened in Afghanistan and Iraq, literally surrounding them.

    • Critics of the Iranian nuclear deal protest too much
    • Top CIA Official Says Nuke Deal Makes It Hard for Iran to Cheat

      A top Central Intelligence Agency official said Friday that the recently brokered nuclear agreement between leading nations and Iran will make it difficult for the Middle Eastern country to dupe nuclear inspectors.

      CIA deputy director David Cohen, speaking at the Aspen Security Forum, said intelligence officers were “reasonably” confident that the terms of the nuclear deal would prevent Iran from cheating in a way that avoided international detection.

    • Obama Bravely Ignores the Clamoring of the Warmongers with Iran Deal

      The accord struck in Vienna to rein in Iran’s nuclear activities has warmongers fulminating. Citizens worldwide should support U.S. President Barack Obama’s brave effort to outmaneuver them, taking heart from the fact that the signatories include not just the United States, but all five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany.

    • Back the Iran deal, and say no to the warmongers

      Many of the warmongers are to be found in Obama’s own government agencies. Most Americans struggle to recognize or understand their country’s permanent security state, in which elected politicians seem to run the show, but the CIA and the Pentagon often take the lead — a state that inherently gravitates toward military, rather than diplomatic, solutions to foreign-policy challenges.

    • Saying no to the warmongers
    • Iran’s Longstanding US-Inflicted Nightmare

      The late Chalmers Johnson (once a CIA consultant, a former “spear-carrier,” he said) called the agency the president’s “praetorian guard,” a private army producing phony intelligence to justify extrajudicial actions.

      They include toppling democratically elected governments, assassinating foreign heads of state and other key officials, propping up friendly dictators, and abducting targeted individuals for extraordinary rendition to agency controlled black sites – torture prisons to extract forced confessions from innocent victims under extreme duress, at times bringing them close to death and back.

    • Sanctions Relief Unlikely to Alter Iran’s Policies in Syria, Yemen

      Former Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) officer Paul Pillar said that Iran’s regional policies depend on various political interests and equities and not on how much money it has in its bank account.

    • War without tears

      The relationship between video games and violence is healthier than we like to think

      [...]

      He started up the desktop computer he had built himself, and opened up the first-person shooter game Counter-Strike. The military-style video game had been updated many times since its initial release in 1999, but this was the same version that had infested my middle school computer lab back then—or some pirated incarnation. Halil connected to a server by manually entering a memorized IP address.

      [...]

      “No no no,” and he smiled, “that wouldn’t be a ‘The Great Secret.’” The team of “counterterrorists” threw a couple grenades and started firing, peering around corners and strafing.

      “Then who is playing as Israel and Lebanon?”

      “IDF,” Halil pitched his screen to the rushing counterterrorist team, “and Hezbollah,” he tilted in the direction of the virtual AK fire. “This is my ‘Middle East Peace Plan.’” He said the phrase derisively, putting on his best American accent.

      I didn’t believe him, at first. The teams in the game were made up of the same avatars that always populated it. But Halil then showed me a series of taunting pictures the two teams had posted online. Among the match reports and running commentaries, the Israelis in uniform threw up imitations of American gang signs learned from rap videos, while young men of Hezbollah held real life rifles next to computer monitors, all with their faces blurred or blacked out in Photoshop. My favorite was a succession of shots of real guns, superimposed on computer monitors displaying virtual ones.

    • D.C.’s New Push: Use Saddam’s Men to Fight Obama’s ISIS War

      An ex-senator, a former CIA officer, and an Iraqi mogul lobby Congress for a private army, led by Saddam’s officers, to take on the terrorists that have trampled America’s proxies.

    • US military drone crashes in Iraq: Pentagon

      A US military drone flying a combat mission has crashed in Iraq after losing communication, the US Defense Department has confirmed.

    • Drone Contractors: An Oversight and Accountability Gap

      A slew of news reports have highlighted the crisis of drone pilot burnout in the United States military. Indeed, pilot shortages have prompted the US Air Force to cut the number of drone flights to fewer than 60 per day. That’s an important problem, but buried in these stories is another one. The Air Force has announced that, in response to the shortage, it will increase its use of contractors for these flights. Given the service’s manpower shortages, this statement is not surprising. Yet the growing numbers of contractors in drone operations, while little discussed, raise significant concerns about oversight and accountability at a time when drone use is set to accelerate. We simply don’t know enough about how contractors will be used in the increasingly automated version of war that appears to be our future. And that means we need to ask hard questions now about how this system should operate rather than simply letting it evolve without oversight.

    • George Clooney Opposes War Profiteering, Except When He Doesn’t

      George Clooney is being paid by the world’s top two war profiteers, Lockheed-Martin and Boeing, to oppose war profiteering by Africans disloyal to the U.S. government’s agenda.

    • During Trip, Obama Should Raise Case of Kenyan Detained at Guantanamo

      Human rights activists in the country told me earlier this month that he should raise these issues sensitively, and not pretend that the U.S. record on policing and fighting terrorism has been flawless. The scandal of CIA torture and the prison at Guantanamo Bay are widely known throughout Kenya. They said President Obama should be sure to make reference to the United States’ own mistakes when he talks to his Kenyan counterparts, and fully acknowledge how much the United States still has to improve.

    • Obama Shouldn’t Take Kenyan Welcome for Granted
    • Obama in Kenya: Will He Cater to the Barons or the People?

      Kenya inherited the massive investment in the militarization of the Horn of Africa from the era of anti-communism and this militaristic link to the West was deepened during the so called War on Terror. This Global War on Terror has now backfired against the peoples and the insecurity generated within Kenya and East Africa reinforce the influence of the US military when Barack Obama and his Administration want to focus on “Doing Business with Africa.” In 2014, the Obama Administration with much fanfare had called the first major US Africa summit but the present Washington sequestered bureaucracy has not worked to turn the page with the new engagement with African peoples. There have been no resources from Congress to support the much touted Power Africa.

    • Hissene Habre, ‘Africa’s Pinochet’

      Chadian dictator Hissene Habre goes on trial in Senegal, a quarter of a century after his blood-soaked reign came to an end, in trial seen as test case for African justice

    • Profile: Hissène Habré, the deadly dictator who got caught
    • Chad dictator on trial for mass murder

      When Chad’s former president Hissène Habré strode into a Senegalese court yesterday accused of 40,000 murders, war crimes and torture, he may have been wondering what became of his old superpower friends.

    • Senegal: Trial of Former Chadian Dictator Hissène Habré Postponed

      In breaking news from Senegal, the trial of Chadian former dictator Hissène Habré has been postponed until September 7 after Habré’s lawyers did not show up to court for the second day of trial. Habré has been charged with crimes against humanity, war crimes and torture related to his eight-year reign in Chad during the 1980s. We’ll have more on this story later in the show.

    • Threat to passenger jets: RAF training foreign states to counter looted Libyan missiles

      Gunners from the Royal Air Force (RAF) Regiment and Scotland Yard police are training foreign governments in how to prevent aviation being shot down by missiles looted from Libyan armories after the 2011 war.

      As many as 10,000 handheld surface-to-air missiles are feared to have been taken from Colonel Muammar Gaddafi’s armories as the regime collapsed, leading to fears they could be used by militants to bring down civilian airliners.

      Now members of the RAF Regiment – British soldiers who specialize in defending airfields – have been deployed to Middle Eastern and North African countries to advise on missile defense.

    • RAF personnel assigned to US unit carrying out drone strikes against Isis

      Following calls for government to come clean over role in US air force unit, MoD says such UK personnel are ‘effectively operating as foreign troops’

    • In Iraq and Syria, Kurdistan fighting ISIS isn’t exactly Prince Charming

      The Kurdish Peshmerga have repeatedly been praised by U.S. congressmen from both sides of the aisle, the Department of Defense, and numerous pundits, as the most effectual allies in the fight against ISIS and a group in need of American arms. But remember that October 2014 CIA study demonstrating that nearly all attempts to arm rebels have backfired or failed? It turns out that the Kurds aren’t our perfect match. They will be no exception to the trend, with their massive human rights violations, political conflict with Syrians and Iraqis, and destabilizing role in the Middle East.

    • Judge Says Government Can Continue To Refuse To Acknowledge Certain Drone Strike Documents

      The heavily-redacted order does contain some good news, however. The presiding judge ordered the Dept. of Defense and the CIA to turn over FOIAed documents to the ACLU that contain “previously acknowledged facts,” thus preventing the Dept. of Justice from turning real life into a bizarre fantasy world where previously disclosed information can be treated as though it was still locked up in the agency’s “TOP SECRET” digital filing cabinet.

      But the obvious downside is this: because the government has been given permission to avoid confirming or denying the existence of the documents the ACLU is seeking, the search for more information on accidental deaths and collateral damage will still consist of issuing speculative FOIA requests, which will then result in more lengthy, expensive litigation.

      I’m pretty sure the involved agencies believe they can outlast FOIA requesters, especially if they continue to receive mostly-favorable decisions from judges who place more faith in the government and its assertions about national security than in those who view government secrecy with considerably more skepticism. The problem is that the government has the resources to fight long legal battles. Most FOIA requesters do not.

    • Cubans’ Rejection of Senator Rubio Demonstrates Their Independent Thinking

      But Rubio cannot accept that Cubans’ nearly unanimous rejection of his right-wing politics might mean he is badly mistaken in his Manichean view of the Cuban socioeconomic system. Rubio wears Cubans’ disapproval of him as a badge of honor. For Rubio, Cubans are incapable of independent judgement. If the Cuban people are against him, it means they must be brainwashed by the evil Castro regime.

    • Cuba and US reopen embassies: Key events in the history of the Cold War foes [Photo report]

      The United States and Cuba have re-established embassies in each other’s capitals, formally restoring diplomatic ties severed more than five decades ago.

    • Forty Years Ago, Cuban Extremists Set Off Dozens of Bombs in Miami

      As the Cuban flag was raised over Washington, D.C., on Monday, some 20 anti-Castro demonstrators gathered outside Versailles Restaurant in Little Havana to protest warming relations between the U.S. and Cuba. In Washington, a man rushed the embassy gate with red paint splattered across his shirt, yelling “This is Cuban blood.” But for the most part, protests in both cities were small and low-key.

    • Cuban flag flies again in D.C.
    • Is the Era of U.S.-Backed Anti-Castro Terrorism Over? Reflections on Restored Ties Between Nations
    • A Victory for the People in Havana (Videos)
    • Amy Goodman: U.S., Cuba begin new chapter

      On July 20, history was made in Washington, D.C., and in Havana, Cuba. As the Cuban national anthem was played, the island nation’s flag was raised over its embassy in Washington. The embassy, as well as the U.S. Embassy in Havana, was open for business, for the first time in 54 years. The Washington ceremony was attended by more than 500 people. Earlier in the day, the U.S. State Department elevated the Cuban flag to a place of honor, joining 150 other national flags on display in the main lobby. While diplomatic relations have been restored, the crushing U.S. economic embargo against Cuba is still in place, and the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay remains open. More than 100 prisoners are still languishing there, many of them cleared for release for over a decade.

    • Chilean judge orders arrest of army officers who burned youths alive under Pinochet

      On Tuesday, July 21, a judge in Santiago, Chile ordered the arrest of seven army officers for their participation in the burning alive of photographer Rodrigo Rojas Denegri, and student Carmen Gloria Quintana on July 2, 1986. The case is known in Chile as Caso Quemados (Case of the burned).

      The army had detained both during the repression of an anti-government demonstration. They were severely beaten, before being soaked in gasoline and set afire. The young people, still alive, were dumped in a remote area and left to die, but were found by construction workers. Quintana survived, but Rojas died from his injuries, four days later.

      The horrible crime took place during the military-fascist dictatorship of General Pinochet (1973-1989) and was part of the reign of terror against workers and youth that took place with the assistance of the US Central Intelligence Agency.

    • Rewriting the History of Plan Colombia

      It’s probably a good thing that United States Army General John F. Kelly’s May op-ed in the Miami Herald went largely unperceived, but recent developments have rendered the cynicism that informed it too blaring to ignore.

      Ostensibly, General Kelly’s editorial seeks to extrapolate salient lessons from the Colombian government’s military campaign against the country’s leftist guerrilla insurgency. Specifically, Kelly contends that Plan Colombia, the $9 billion U.S. military aid package passed in 2000, has “shown us the way” to defeat ISIS, which he claims poses a similarly “daunting challenge for the United States and its allies.”

      On first read, the article is a relatively straightforward parade of banality and adulation, remarkable only because the individual leading it is the commander of U.S. Southern Command (Southcom). Sure, the content consists almost entirely of lies, half-truths, and meaningless platitudes, but nothing that ventures too far from the official Washington line.

  • Transparency Reporting

    • Turns Out Hillary Clinton Had Hundreds Of Potentially Classified Emails On Private Server; Officials Ask For Criminal Investigation [Update]

      But, of course, that was just one batch of the emails. A few weeks ago, reports started leaking from inside the State Department that, in fact, there was classified information on that server, and late last night the other shoe dropped, with a report in the NY Times that two separate Inspectors General have requested the Justice Department open a criminal investigation into Clinton’s mishandling of sensitive information — in particular the inclusion of “hundreds” of potentially classified emails on her private server.

    • Pentagon, CIA instructed to re-investigate whistleblower cases

      A government watchdog has ordered the CIA and the Pentagon to re-investigate retaliation allegations brought by two intelligence employees who accused their agencies of major institutional failings.

      The action by the intelligence community inspector general is the first public indication that a new intelligence appeals system is underway. The panel was set up by President Barack Obama as an independent forum that can evaluate whether whistleblowers were improperly fired or otherwise punished for disclosures after their agencies rejected their claims.

      The cases, nonetheless, demonstrate that the whistleblower system continues to be beset with problems and bureaucratic delays despite being overhauled by Congress and the Obama administration.

    • Why black spies matter

      Sterling has long maintained that the CIA retaliated against him for questioning racial bias at the agency, where, as he put it in a letter to Al Sharpton’s National Action Network, he was deemed “too big and too black” to move up the ranks. The CIA does not release data on its racial demographics, but a recent internal report on diversity affirms some of Sterling’s allegations of bias. Minorities accounted for less than 24.8 percent of its workforce and only 10.8 percent of its top leadership, according to the report. The CIA’s lack of diversity underscores the racial underpinnings of the global “war on terrorism,” in which white CIA officers torture nonwhite others in secret prisons and incinerate them with drone missiles.

    • The ‘rageful guy’ who pries secrets from the govt.

      When reporter Jason Leopold gets ready to take on the U.S. government, he psychs himself up by listening to the heavy metal bands Slayer and Pantera.

      He describes himself as “a pretty rageful guy.” Mr. Leopold (45), who works for Vice News, reserves most of his aggression for dealing with the government. He has revealed about 20,000 pages of government documents, many of them the basis for explosive news stories.

    • Police convictions: How did your force respond?

      At least 309 police officers and police community support officers (PSCOs) in the UK have been convicted of criminal offences in the last three years, according to figures released after a Freedom of Information request.

  • Finance

    • The Crime of Living Without a Home in Los Angeles

      A year ago he slept in his own apartment, but today Charles Jackson sleeps under a bridge bordering Silver Lake, one of the more fashionable neighborhoods in Los Angeles. A few dozen strangers share the encampment; some become neighbors, while others come and go. Jackson wants to get off the streets, but as many of those who live on the margins have found, it is easier to lose a home than find another.

      “People say, ‘This is going to be temporary, you know, until I get out from under this rock,’” he told me. A kind-looking brown-eyed man in his mid-50s, Jackson stands in front of the tent he lives in, looking away as we talk, his voice barely louder than a whisper. Beside us, Jackson’s white-and-tan terrier, Ozzie — well-groomed and clearly beloved — pokes his nose out from the front of the tent, panting in the midday sun. “Two years pass by, four, five years pass by; before you know it, you’re ten years homeless in the streets because out here, time is nothing. You get to not know what day it is, what month it is.”

    • After the Financial Times buyout, let’s stop belittling Japan’s success

      …Japanese officials have systematically exaggerated the Japanese economy’s various weaknesses, real and imagined.

    • Greece, Iran, and the Rules of the Game

      But he chose to “follow the rules” by accepting the EU plan. Greece is getting its financial bailout, Greeks are tightening their belts, and the Eurozone will survive more-or-less intact. Tsipras learned what happens when you challenge the rules of an elite club. Once in a while, the club changes the rules. Most of the time, the club issues an ultimatum: suck it up or move on.

    • Global One Percent Celebrate at the Bohemian Grove

      July 18th 2015 was the first day of this year’s summer camp for the world’s business and political aristocracy and their invited guests. 2,000 to 3,000 men, mostly from the wealthiest global one percent, gather at Bohemian Grove, 70 miles north of San Francisco in California’s Sonoma County—to sit around the campfire and chew the fat—off-the-record—with ex-presidents, corporate leaders and global financiers.

      [...]

      On the surface, the Bohemian Grove is a private place where global and regional elites meet for fun and enjoyment. Behind the scene, however, the Bohemian Grove is an American version of building insider ties, consensual understandings, and lasting connections in the service of class solidarity. Ties reinforced at the Grove manifest themselves in global trade meetings, party politics, campaign financing, and top-down corporatism.

    • Puerto Rico’s Debt Crisis

      Washington never granted islanders control of their lives, welfare and destiny. They have no say over foreign relations, commerce and trade, their air space, land and offshore waters, immigration and emigration, nationality and citizenship, currency, maritime laws, military service, US bases on its territory, constitutionality of its laws, jurisdictions and legal procedures, treaties, radio and television, communications, agriculture, its natural resources and more.

      Independence supporters aren’t tolerated – men like Oscar Lopez Rivera, a decorated Vietnam War veteran, wrongfully imprisoned for wanting Puerto Ricans to live free, behind bars for over three decades.

      Washington wants to continue exploiting its Caribbean colony for profit – raping and pillaging it at the public’s expense, much like what’s happening to Greece.

    • 1898 INVASION OF PUERTO RICO & THE EMERGENCE OF U.S. IMPERIALISM

      For the many people who have engaged in the struggle for Puerto Rico’s independence, July 25 has a special significance. On that date in 1898, U.S. troops invaded Puerto Rico, beginning a period of U.S. colonial domination on the island that continues to this day.

      The United States invaded Puerto Rico, along with the Philippines, Guam and Cuba, in the setting of the Spanish-American War. That war was the opening of what would be the menacing role and predatory nature of the U.S. capitalist class in the Caribbean, Latin America and the entire world.
      The seizure of Puerto Rico, Cuba, Guam and the Philippines by the United States signaled the quest of the U.S. capitalist class to become a world power. European powers had pursued a policy of colonial acquisitions since the end of the 15th century.

      But only in the late 19th century had the mature and developed capitalist powers virtually colonized the entire planet. The projection of U.S. power outside of the North American mainland signified a rush not to be left behind in this global division of markets.

  • PR/AstroTurf/Lobbying

    • What Bill Gates Doesn’t Understand About Education

      Mr. Gates, you swing a lot of weight in political circles. If you told policymakers that the current thrust of reform was blocking alternative ways of improving learner performance, and educators should have enough autonomy to explore those alternatives, those of us who have been working on them for decades might have a chance to show what’s possible.

    • Smoking Gun: MPAA Emails Reveal Plan To Run Anti-Google Smear Campaign Via Today Show And WSJ

      If you talk to the reporters who work for various big media companies, they insist that they have true editorial independence from the business side of their companies. They insist that the news coverage isn’t designed to reflect the business interests of their owners. Of course, most people have always suspected this was bullshit — and you could see evidence of this in things like the fact that the big TV networks refused to cover the SOPA protests. But — until now — there’s never necessarily been a smoking gun with evidence of how such business interests influences the editorial side.

  • Censorship

    • Now You Can Make That Embarrassing Email You Sent Self-Destruct

      Everyone’s fired off a hasty email that they desperately wish they could take back. A new Gmail tool will let you do that whenever you please.

      Dmail is a new browser extension for Google Chrome that gives people more control of how long others can view their Gmail messages. When sending an email through Gmail, users can set a specific time when the message will self-destruct, ranging anywhere from an hour to a week. And even emails without a specific self-destruct timer can still be recalled by the sender at an time, making them unviewable to the recipient.

  • Privacy

  • Civil Rights

    • Schooled in Britain, Deported to Danger: UK Sends 600 Former Child Asylum Seekers Back to Afghanistan

      Hundreds of Westernised young men who grew up in Britain after fleeing war-torn Afghanistan as children have been forcibly returned to their home country due to what experts believe is an inhumane shortcoming in the UK asylum system.

    • Beyond Innocence: US Political Prisoners and the Fight Against Mass Incarceration

      President Obama’s recent statements about mass incarceration, together with his decision to commute the sentences of 46 people serving lengthy and life sentences in federal prison on drug charges, treat “nonviolent drug offenders” as the symbolic figureheads of America’s prison problem. This framing seems to imply that everyone else actually deserves to be in prison.

    • If Obama Can’t Close Guantanamo

      It’s becoming increasingly clear that the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, isn’t going to be closed during President Barack Obama’s administration — or beyond, despite the administration’s efforts. That raises a deep question about foreign policy and the rule of law: What if Guantanamo never closes, and some of its detainees remain there for the rest of their lives?

      The sad truth is that the continued operation of the prison is unlikely to do any more long-term damage to the U.S. reputation abroad — because the world has already come to the conclusion that the U.S. is no better than anyone else when it comes to dealing with terrorists.

    • Guantanamo Bay closure: Why plans to close the notorious prison may be wishful thinking

      It sounds like an old vinyl record stuck in its groove, another regular reminder of what has long since been a national disgrace. After six years of trying in vain to close the infamous prison for suspected terrorists at Guantanamo Bay, the White House, it is said, is close to finalising another plan to do just that. To which one is tempted to reply: “Dream on”.

    • House should join Senate in torture ban

      Congress is faced with the opportunity to forbid the CIA from engaging in torture forever, thanks to a bill sponsored by Sens. John McCain and Dianne Feinstein. The legislation passed the Senate in a recent impressively bipartisan 78-21 vote, and now heads to the House of Representatives.

      When we talk about torture, too often we use distant, medical language to grapple with the most vile things that can be done to a human being. Very few of us can imagine this horrific treatment, and even fewer of us want to think about it.

      But our government has too often sanctioned torture. It is critical that we understand it so that we can stop it.

      Through Survivors of Torture, International, an organization that advocates for an end to torture everywhere and treats torture survivors, I have heard stories from survivors that have never been more relevant. I shall try to share my sense of what torture is and why Congress must pass the McCain-Feinstein legislation that would prohibit it.

    • Secret Foreign Policy Is Bad for Democracy

      The government would prefer you never knew about any of that. When Montgomery was being sued by a former employer, then–Director of National Intelligence John Negroponte quashed any public court discussion of Montgomery’s bizarre relationship with U.S. intelligence. He insisted that public revelations about how easily the country’s protectors can be conned would constitute “serious, and in some cases exceptionally grave, damage to the national security of the United States.”

      Democracy is supposed to transmit the people’s will to our governors, but it’s hard to argue that’s the case when said governors can keep us ignorant about what they’re doing and what it costs. However, the U.S. government has become increasingly adept at waving the flags of democracy and national security simultaneously.

    • Obama Does Not Prosecute “Mega-Crooks”. Neither Would Hillary. Would Sanders?

      The chief reason why the USA is no longer a democracy (if it ever was) is that its mega-criminals have impunity, just like kings and other dictators in countries that make little pretense to being a ‘democracy.’

    • Hip-Hop Artist-Activist Sole Tackles US Torture Through Eyes of a Detainee

      Outspoken political activist and avant garde hip-hop artist Sole, together with DJ Pain 1, gives Sputnik readers a first look at his visually stunning new video that tells the story of a CIA black site as seen through the eyes of a detainee.

    • Anonymous has long history of activism and controversy

      Hacktivist group launches action against RCMP in B.C. following fatal shooting in Dawson Creek

    • David Cameron extremism speech: Muslim leaders give their views on the PM’s plans

      I am concerned that yet again Cameron is conflating the issue of extremism and terrorism with those of cohesion and integration.

      He says that Muslims are not doing enough to integrate and that risks fostering extremism – but just what is enough and how do you measure it?

    • Journalist Barrett Brown Receives 30 More Days of Solitary Confinement in Prison

      Jailed journalist and activist Barrett Brown has received 30 more days of solitary confinement in the prison, where he is serving a five-year and three-month sentence issued against him in January.

      Brown, who had been put in “the hole” at the Fort Worth Correctional Institution previously, was put in solitary confinement in late June after staff “singled” him out “for a search” of his locker and “found a cup of homemade alcohol.”

    • Terrorism conviction of Miami imam upheld

      The case against Khan, an imam at a Miami mosque before his 2011 arrest, was built on hundreds of FBI recordings of both telephone calls and Khan’s face-to-face conversations with an undercover informant. In the calls, Khan discussed details of numerous wire transfers to Pakistan over a three-year period that totaled about $50,000.

    • Dylann Roof is a terrorist, but won’t be charged as one

      Dylann Roof, the 21-year-old white man who stands accused of murdering nine black members of Mother Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina, last month, was indicted Wednesday on federal hate crime charges, some of which carry the possibility of the death penalty.

    • Security concerns after man dies outside restaurant
    • 3 dead in Louisiana theater shooting
    • Louisiana police name gunman who killed two in cinema

      Louisiana police on Friday identified John Russell Houser (59) of Alabama as the suspected lone gunman who opened fire in a crowded movie theater, killing two and wounding others before turning the gun on himself.

  • DRM

    • Federal judge says you can break DRM if you’re not doing so to infringe copyright

      Here’s some remarkable news: a judge in a New Orleans-based 5th Circuit Appeals Court has ruled that the Digital Millennium Copyright Act’s ban on breaking DRM only applies if you break DRM in order to violate copyright law. This is a complete reversal of earlier rulings across the country (and completely opposite to the approach that the US Trade Representative has demanded from America’s trading partners). In the traditional view, DRM is absolutely protected, so that no one is allowed to break it except the DRM maker. In other words, a film-maker isn’t allowed to take the BluRay DRM off her own movie, a video game programmer can’t take the iPad DRM off her own game, and an audiobook author can’t take the DRM off his own Audible book.

    • Happy 30th anniversary, Tengen! Your anti-DRM NES chip fought the law, and the law won

      In 1985, Japanese giant Namco got out its wallet, and bought control of Atari Games – the coin-op arcade games maker that was doing rather well compared to its ailing home console cousin, Atari Corp.

      The deal was the first step toward a massive legal battle that changed the way console manufacturers produced, licensed, and distributed their games. And this is how it happened:

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Copyrights

      • Restaurateur is threatened with £1,000 fine if any customer watches TV on their mobile on her premises in an astonishing ‘bullying’ letter from BBC TV Licensing body

        A restaurateur has been threatened with a £1,000 fine or court action if any customer watches TV on their mobile phone in her premises in a ‘bullying’ letter from the BBC TV Licensing body.

        Neleen Strauss, the owner of the High Timber restaurant in central London, was sent the ‘intimidating and aggressive’ letter this week.

      • Geo-Blocking Caused Massive TV Piracy 20 Years Ago

        This week several Hollywood studios and pay TV giant Sky found themselves on the wrong end of an EU antitrust investigation for blocking cross-border access to TV shows and movies. Yet twenty years ago Sky was doing the same thing, a stubbornness that sparked a huge wave of piracy right across Europe.

      • Pirate Bay Led Hollywood The Way, Co-Founder Says

        During his stay in prison, Pirate Bay co-founder Fredrik Neij was deprived of the Internet and forced to view broadcast TV. A grueling experience, but not as bad as it used to be, something the Pirate Bay can take credit for in part. Still, Fredrik believes that there’s plenty of room for improvement.

      • Porn studio asks judge to ban talk about “copyleft” blogs at trial

        Prenda Law is gone, and today it’s a legit porno company, Malibu Media, that files more copyright lawsuits than anyone else. Malibu sues thousands of people for downloading the company’s content via BitTorrent, then asks for settlements reportedly in the several-thousand-dollar range.

      • Anatomy of a Copyright Coup: Jamaica’s Public Domain Plundered

        A bill extending the term of copyright by an additional 45 years—almost doubling it, in the case of corporate and government works—sailed through the Jamaican Senate on June 26, after having passed the House of Representatives on June 9. The copyright term in Jamaica is now 95 years from the death of the author, or 95 years from publication for government and corporate works. This makes it the third-longest copyright term in the world, after Mexico and Côte d’Ivoire respectively with 100 and 99 years from the death of the author.

      • State Of Georgia Sues Carl Malamud For Copyright Infringement For Publishing The State’s Own Laws

        The State is particularly upset that Malamud ran some crowdfunding and donation campaigns seeking to raise money to keep his operations running, saying that he raised this money “to assist the Defendant in infringing the State of Georgia’s copyrights.” The State also complains that he uploaded the code to the Internet Archive under a CC 0 public domain dedication, saying (incorrectly) that this implies that he claimed that he was the owner of the annotations. That’s not true at all. He’s claiming that everyone owns them, because they’re the law.

07.25.15

Vista 10 (Windows 10) Has NSA Back Doors and Front Doors

Posted in Microsoft, Security, Vista 10, Windows at 2:19 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Michael S. Rogers
“I don’t want a back door. I want a front door.” — Director of the National Security Agency (NSA), April 2015

Summary: Vista 10 to bring new ways for spies (and other crackers) to remotely access people’s computers and remotely modify the binary files on them (via Windows Update, which for most people cannot be disabled)

MICROSOFT never cared about security. A former Windows manager, Brian Valentine, said explicitly that Microsoft products “just aren’t engineered for security.” Last year we also showed how back in the 1990s Bill Gates and his staff had already collaborated quite intimately with the NSA, well before Snowden’s NSA and GCHQ leaks helped confirm this (with hard evidence and subsequently media reports).

The Apache Software Foundation (ASF), which is unfortunately headed by a guy from Microsoft, is going into bed with the NSA right now, despite the negative publicity that may accompany/come with such a move. Microsoft, much to our surprise, is still working with the NSA on Windows, and it does this also for Vista 10. One new article about Microsoft’s purchase of an Israeli (i.e. spy-friendly as we explained says ago) company says that “[a] big reason for this is the company’s collaboration with the National Security Agency (NSA).”

“Yes, Microsoft still keeps the NSA in the picture.”Microsoft is still thinking that enough people foolishly believe NSA collaboration is ‘for security’ rather than for ‘national security’, i.e. back doors. A Windows-powered site reminded us some days ago that NSA “worked with Microsoft on security aspects of the Windows 7 operating system and later for Windows 8 and 10.”

Yes, Microsoft still keeps the NSA in the picture. This actually surprised us because it’s a PR disaster. Why does Microsoft still want to be seen working in cahoots/collusion with the NSA? In proprietary software, back doors or “national security”, i.e. not real security, are the cause of many costly issues. Software is designed to be penetrable rather than secure. Is there anyone who still honestly thinks that Vista 10 won’t have back doors? Microsoft never stopped its relationship with the NSA and it is obviously still working with the NSA, despite knowing the negative publicity this can bring. A Darwin Award goes out to anyone who still thinks that Microsoft is not helping the NSA exploit its software (because “national security” and other such excuses), despite the Snowden-provided documents that show exactly that.

Earlier today the developer of GNU Telephony wrote that at Microsoft “they created the perfect environment for such demands to be met, forced updates is a front door for govt malware and spying” [and indeed, as The Register revealed last week, they had even removed the ability to stop/block these updates in most “editions”. Over ten years ago it was reported on the Web that even when you toggle off automatic updates Microsoft still does it.]

Looking back at news only a few days old, HP has reported 4 new vulnerabilities in Internet Explorer, and not for the first time. To quote IDG: “HP’s Zero Day Initiative (ZDI) doesn’t cut much slack with its 120-day disclosure policy. When ZDI knocks on your door and says you have a security hole, you get 120 days to fix it or risk full public disclosure. That’s what happened — again. With ZDI and Microsoft — again. Over Internet Explorer — again.”

“The only way to avoid MSIE is to ditch Windows since it is built-in and impossible to remove” iophk said to us. Will Hill wrote: “There are still vendor supplied IE6 specific software that will not work outside of IE. One of my vendors at work told me one of their pieces of software might work with IE8 but no other browser, including the IE 11 that Microsoft had shoved onto most of the computers. This just highlights the fact that vendors who use Microsoft don’t care about their customers and that Microsoft does not care about anyone.”

“In proprietary software, back doors or “national security”, i.e. not real security, are the cause of many costly issues.”Going only 3 days back, there is this news that Hacking Team helps governments take over Microsoft Windows through back/bug doors, exploiting fonts. “Unpatched systems,” wrote Paul Hill, “can be affected if the user opens a document of webpage that contains an embedded OpenType font file. As the font drivers in Microsoft systems runs in kernel mode it means that an attacker could gain access to the entire system with the ability to add and remove programs and create new user accounts with admin privileges.”

Windows recently suffered from other font-related holes, and not for the first time, either. It’s an easy access point for the NSA into Windows (Microsoft tells the NSA before patching such holes). All versions of Windows are vulnerable and they have all been found vulnerable (without fixes) for decades.

What will the world look like after this back doors ‘leader’ and ‘champion’, Microsoft, is gone for good? Well, we need to ensure that NSA partners like Red Hat [1, 2, 3, 4, 5] don’t compromise GNU/Linux, too. Social engineering, bribes, blackmail, anonymous patches, etc. are the classic tricks of this trade.

Vista 10 Not Ready, But Released Anyway

Posted in Vista 10, Windows at 1:41 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: Despite severe technical issues in the rushed-out-the-door Vista 10, Microsoft decides to stick with the deadline, only days after reporting billions of dollars in losses

VISTA 10 media SPAM is already everywhere, not just in Microsoft advocacy sites. Microsoft AstroTurfers and PR agencies, respectively, inject the subject into forums and pressure people in the media to write about it in many languages. Microsoft wants to sell us perceptions and it pretends that Vista 10 is “free”, “best ever”, “secure”, and so on.

“Microsoft is trying to rescue the business by going into GNU/Linux-dominated areas, not just mobile devices but also servers.”Andrew Orlowski, a very provocative (at times even trollish) writer, chastises Vista 10 and says that when it comes to mobile devices, it’s “going nowhere fast”. Even people inside Microsoft tell me that Vista 10 is not ready. It’s basically just a brand and many hardware companies don’t care enough to make their products compatible with it. This is going to hurt Microsoft’s bottom line, just as Vista did nearly a decade ago. History repeats itself. Vista too was rushed out the door; Orlowski says it’s the same with Vista 10 and people inside Microsoft tell me that it still crashes a lot (screens of death). It’s well past the prototyping stage, but it still has that Microsoft ‘quality’ to it. Microsoft announced some days ago that it had been losing billions of dollars. The decline of Windows had a lot to do with it and Microsoft knows that the common carrier is where the company must put all its of eggs (without Windows dominance, Office too ceases to matter because it relies on format monoculture). Microsoft cannot hide the losses anymore. To quote a new comment from Needs Sunlight: “Speculating on two explanations which could be about carrying the 1998 debt, it could be that M$ trying to write off some of that debt now. Or it could be that it has carried that debt as long as it can and can no longer keep it hidden and things are blowing up.”

Microsoft is trying to rescue the business by going into GNU/Linux-dominated areas, not just mobile devices but also servers. Don’t call it ‘cloud’, as it serves to mislead and it usually means surveillance. IDG shamelessly promotes ASP.Net and some British media promotes Microsoft mail loss on the 'cloud' as if Microsoft belongs in E-mail, where GNU/Linux and Free software are already dominant and vastly more reliable (Windows plays a role only in pumping SPAM into mail servers). At Microsoft-friendly circles, Microsoft boosters pretend that Microsoft is ‘buddies’ with GNU/Linux (which it is still attacking in many ways), but as we explained the other day, that's just Microsoft trying to take over the competition because Microsoft is losing in a very big way.

Vista 10 will not be a success story but more like a semi-functional system update for Vista 7/8 with newer back doors (more on that in our next post) and decade-old GNU/Linux features, which Microsoft arrogantly copied and now markets as ‘innovations’.

Links 25/7/2015: Plasma Mobile, Linux Mint 17.2 OEM

Posted in News Roundup at 11:08 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

Free Software/Open Source

  • Open source, adaptable infrastructure key to Etsy platform business model

    For an emerging platform business model, information technology may not top the owner’s agenda. Building a community and setting the ground rules for participation and conflict resolution are often the first priority. IT, however, tends to become a higher priority as a platform scales and matures. That’s been the case for Etsy, which was founded in 2005. Today, Etsy’s technology infrastructure plays a critical role in the current stage of the platform’s evolution.

    [...]

    Etsy is largely built on open source technology, according to Allspaw. At its core, the company’s platform stack includes PHP and MySQL, Hadoop and Scalding, and Solr/Lucerne/ElasticSearch, he explained.

  • It’s Been A Great Month So Far For Open-Source/Linux Users

    Besides the open-source Mesa finally hitting OpenGL 4.0+, Vulkan being right on the horizon, there being Skylake just around the corner, AMD R9 Fury Linux benchmarks coming next week, and Intel Skylake being days away, there’s been many other exciting announcements so far this month and milestones for free software.

  • IFTTT joins the open source community

    Harnessing the power of apps, devices, and the cloud, IFTTT has just unveiled five open source projects. Now available on GitHub, the projects can be used by anyone to integrate IFTTT automation in their apps and services.

  • Tech Giants Boost Open Source Container Collaboration

    CNCF’s role is to foster developer and operator collaboration on common technologies for deploying cloud native applications and services, said Jim Zemlin, executive director at The Linux Foundation — that is, applications or services that are container-packaged, dynamically scheduled and micro services-oriented. To ease the process, CNCF aims to drive alignment among technologies and platforms.

  • Events

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • Firefox Nightlies Are Now Built with GTK+3, Coming For Firefox 42

        As of this commit yesterday, by Mike Hommey, Firefox nightly builds are now being built with PLATFORM_DEFAULT_TOOLKIT set to cairo-gtk3! It would appear, according to the commit tag, that mainline Firefox will be built with GTK+3 for Firefox 42. Firefox 42 is expected to be released this November.

  • SaaS/Big Data

  • Hadoop Summit

    • Getting friendly with open source: Big Data firm liberates proprietary chokeholds

      Enterprise customers could consider open source as the solution to their problems. According to Anand Venugopal, Impetus’ head of real-time stream analytics platform StreamAnalytix, “People have become so friendly to open source, and they have been waiting to be liberated from the hold of proprietary vendors that they are positively biased toward open source-oriented technology.”

      Discussing a recent use-case scenario, Kankariya said, “The guy was looking for his problem to be solved; he doesn’t care if it’s Hadoop or NoSQL or whatever.” This openness has allowed Impetus to become a trusted partner and advisor for customers that want to “cross-learn from across the ecosystem.”

    • Squeezing more value out of data

      Cloudera, Inc.’s Todd Laurence, director, global partner sales, and Michael Crutcher, director of product management, joined theCUBE, SiliconANGLE’s Media team, at Hadoop Summit 2015 to discuss how Cloudera’s close relationship with EMC is benefiting its Isilon scale-out NAS storage customers and “bringing analytics to data where it lives today in EMC Isilon.”

  • BSD

    • FreeBSD 10.2 Gets Ready for Production Use, Release Candidate 1 Out for Testing

      The FreeBSD Project announced a few minutes ago that the first Release Candidate (RC) version of the upcoming FreeBSD 10.2 operating system is now available for download and testing through the usual channels.

    • FreeBSD 10.2-RC1 Released

      This latest development milestone for FreeBSD 10.2 has fixes for ZFS, Xen, SSH, pkg, and many other key components. Besides being offered for i386, amd64, PowerPC, PowerPC64, and SPARC64, there are also ARM spins for popular development boards from the RaspberryPi B to BeagleBone and PandaBoard.

    • LLVM 3.7 RC1 Ready For Testing By Developers

      One week after tagging LLVM 3.7-RC1, Hans Wennborg of Google announced its formal release on Thursday.

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC

  • Openness/Sharing

    • Open Data

      • ODI announces winners Open Data Awards 2015

        Earlier this month, the Open Data Institute held its Open Data Awards ceremony at Bloomberg’s London office, where ODI founders Sirs Tim Berners-Lee and Nigel Shadbolt presented this year’s winners.

    • Open Hardware

      • SketchUp’s Open-Source 3D-Printable WikiHouse Snaps Together Like Lego Bricks

        What if you could assemble your house like Legos using free modeling software and a 3D printer? That’s the idea behind Eric Schimelpfening‘s WikiHouse – a home designed entirely in SketchUp that can be downloaded by anyone, customized to fit the user’s needs and sent to the 3D printer. The components are then snapped together using less than 100 screws to make rooms that can be rearranged as easily as you would rearrange furniture.

  • Programming

    • PHP 7.0 Beta 2 Released

      Just two weeks after PHP 7 decided to go into beta, the second beta release is now available for testing.

      If you’ve been living under a rock, PHP 7.0 is slated to deliver much greater performance over PHP 5.6 (as much as 2x or more), consistent 64-bit support, various new language features, better handling of fatal errors, and other changes.

  • Standards/Consortia

    • ISO updates ODF document standard

      The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) has updated the ODF open document format standard for office application. ODF version 1.2 was published on 17 June.

Leftovers

  • Security

    • Friday’s security updates
    • Researchers Enlist Machine Learning In Malware Detection

      In 100 milliseconds or less, researchers are now able to determine whether a piece of code is malware or not — and without the need to isolate it in a sandbox for analysis.

    • The OpenSSH Bug That Wasn’t

      Get your facts straight before reporting, is the main takeaway from Peter Hansteen’s latest piece, The OpenSSH Bug That Wasn’t. OpenSSH servers that are set up to use PAM for authentication and with a very specific (non-default on OpenBSD and most other places) setup are in fact vulnerable, and fixing the configuration is trivial.

    • VUPEN Founder Launches New Zero-Day Acquisition Firm Zerodium

      In the weeks since the Hacking Team breach, the spotlight has shone squarely on the small and often shadowy companies that are in the business of buying and selling exploits and vulnerabilities. One such company, Netragard, this week decided to get out of that business after its dealings with Hacking Team were exposed. But now there’s a new entrant in the field, Zerodium, and there are some familiar names behind it.

  • Defence/Police/Secrecy/Aggression

    • Hundreds of never-before-seen photos of Bush and Cheney on 9/11 released by National Archives

      The National Archives on Friday released more than 350 never-before seen photos of former President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney, along with top members of the Bush administration, on Sept. 11, 2001, as they reacted to the most deadly attack in terrorism in American history.

    • Ex US Intelligence Want the Truth from White House who Shot Down MH17

      On Tuesday, the Ukrainian government refused to release an international report on the disaster, intensifying widespread concerns that it pointed to Ukrainian rather than Russian or rebel culpability in the crash.

    • Saudi-led coalition airstrikes kill more than 120 in Yemen

      Saudi-led coalition airstrikes killed more than 120 civilians and wounded more than 150 after shelling a residential area in the Yemeni province of Taiz on Friday evening, security officials, medical officials and witnesses said.

      The officials, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to reporters, said that most of the houses in the area were leveled and a fire broke out in the port city of Mokha. Most of the corpses, including children, women and elderly people, were charred by the flames, they said.

    • John Carlin Complains that ISIL Is Targeting Same Youth FBI Is

      I’m reviewing some of the videos from the Aspen Security Forum. This one features DOJ Assistant Attorney General for National Security John Carlin and CIA General Counsel Caroline Krass.

      I’m including it here so you can review Carlin’s complaints in the first part of the video. He explains to Ken Dilanian that ISIL’s recruiting strategy is different from Al Qaeda’s in that they recruit the young and mentally ill. He calls them children, repeatedly, but points to just one that involved a minor. 80% are 40 and under, 40% are 21 and under. In other words, he’s mostly complaining that ISIL is targeting young men who are in their early 20s. He even uses the stereotype of a guy in his parents’ basement, interacting on social media without them knowing.

      Carlin, of course, has just described FBI’s targeting strategy for terrorist stings, where they reach out to young men — many with mental disabilities — over social media, only then to throw an informant or undercover officer at the target, to convince him to press the button that (the target believes) will detonate a bomb — though of course the bomb is an FBI-supplied inert bomb.

  • Transparency Reporting

    • Why Hong Kong is the only Asian hub for global media

      Hong Kong is definitely the Asian hub of the global news industry.

    • Assange says WikiLeaks is “drowning in material now”
    • Julian Assange on WikiLeaks’ Comeback: ‘We Are Drowning in Material’
    • SPIEGEL Interview with Julian Assange: ‘We Are Drowning in Material’

      In an interview, Julian Assange, 44, talks about the comeback of the WikiLeaks whistleblowing platform and his desire to provide assistance to a German parliamentary committee that is investigating mass NSA spying.

    • Hillary Clinton likely ‘mishandled’ secrets because too much is classified

      The minute that private email server Hillary Clinton used for work emails as Secretary of State became a controversy, it was clear that evidence would surface showing that classified information passed through that address – despite her repeated denials.

      Of course there was “secret” information in her emails – but not because she had attempted to cover up smoking gun Benghazi emails like conspiracy-addled Republicans hoped. It’s because the US classification system is so insanely bloated and out of control that virtually everything related to foreign policy and national security is, in some way or another, classified.

      And now it’s finally happened: the New York Times reported late Thursday that two internal government watchdogs have recommended that the Justice Department open a criminal investigation into Clinton’s private email account, because the cache of 55,000 emails from her now-deleted server reportedly include “hundreds of potentially classified emails”.

    • The Declining Half-Life of Secrets

      The nature of secrets is changing. The “half-life of secrets” is declining sharply for many intelligence activities as secrets that in the past may have been kept successfully for 25 years or more, are now exposed well before.

      For evidence, one need look no further than the 2015 breach at the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), of personnel records for 22 million U.S. government employees and family members. OPM is just one instance in a long string of high-profile breaches, where hackers have gained access to personal information, trade secrets, or classified government material. The focus of the discussion needs to be on complementary trends in information technology, including the continuing effects of Moore’s Law, the sociology of the information technology community, and changed sources and methods for signals intelligence, all of which increase the likelihood that government secrets will not remain secret for long.

      An age where secrets become known sooner, means that “the front-page” test will become far more important to decision-makers. Even if a secret operation is initially successful, the expected costs of disclosure become higher as the average time to disclosure decreases.

  • Finance

    • Elizabeth Warren 1, Wall Street Clown 0

      On this week’s podcast, we look back on Elizabeth Warren ripping apart a rip-off artist from Primerica, break down the latest effort to pass a highway funding bill, and explain why a former NSA chief is talking to a bunch of fruit growers.

  • PR/AstroTurf/Lobbying

    • Side-By-Side Coverage of Cuba and Iran Highlights Shift in US Media Villain-Making

      US relations with Cuba have had a significant time to relax, and clearly there is a still a long way to go with Iran, which George W. Bush famously included as a member of the “axis of evil” in his 2002 State of the Union address (White House Archives, 1/29/02). One might wonder, however, were the US media to grant the same kind of legitimacy to Iranian perspectives as it now does to Cuba’s, whether that latter number might tick up.

    • Megyn Kelly’s Response To The Louisiana Theater Shooting Was To Speculate About An ISIS Connection

      Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly responded to breaking news of a deadly shooting at a Louisiana movie theater by baselessly asking about possible connections to ISIS or radical Islam.

    • Politico Finds ‘Capital of American Jihad’–Based on 2 Cases, 6 Years and 268 Miles Apart

      In his piece “Tennessee Is the Capital of American Jihad,” author and “War on Terror” think-tanker James Kitfield sets out to draw a connection between the the recent Chattanooga shooter Mohammad Youssef Abdulazeez and the case of Carlos Bledsoe, who shot up a recruiting station in Arkansas in 2009. The fact that both attacked recruiting stations, both lived in Tennessee and both were Muslim is apparently enough to make Tennessee the “Capital of American Jihad.”

    • Who Is Frank Luntz, The Guy Trying To Quietly Change Your Mind About Republicans?

      On Saturday, at the 2015 Family Leadership Summit, an event which showcases Republican candidates, Donald Trump gave a notorious interview in which he discussed John McCain’s military record. Trump said, “He’s not a war hero. He’s a war hero because he was captured. I like people who weren’t captured.” His interviewer cut him off twice and and asked what he thought again. Suddenly, Trump said McCain was a war hero multiple times, creating a debate about whether Trump meant that McCain is a war hero because being captured is heroic or that McCain only got hero status because he was captured, not because he was doing anything special. Amazingly, Trump got a standing ovation — and his interviewer, Frank Luntz, knew exactly what he was doing.

      Luntz is not a journalist. He is not a fellow politician or a Republican Party executive. He is a pollster who specializes in language, and though you might not have heard of him, the Republican candidates certainly have. He knows what words to use to make you like them more.

  • Censorship

    • Sri Lanka: Colombo Telegraph facing censorship despite presidential promise

      The Colombo Telegraph, Sri Lanka’s most iconoclastic investigative news website, is gearing up for this year’s second national election. And once again they face the threat of censorship — despite a presidential promise to bring it to an end.

      January’s polls saw the website blocked to domestic voters by order of authoritarian incumbent president Mahinda Rajapaksa. Unseated by shock winner Maithripala Sirisena, one of the victor’s first acts after the vote was to lift the official banning order.

    • Universal’s agents send Google a censorship demand for “127.0.0.1″

      127.0.0.1 is the “loopback” address for your Internet stack, the address you tell your computer to visit when you want it to talk to itself.

      Links to 127.0.0.1 just go to your own computer — it’s like asking your computer to knock on its own door. Not understanding this is directly analogous to not being able to find your own ass with both hands.

    • Michigan Needs a New Voice: Challenging Censorship in the Wolverine State

      Earlier this year, the faculty advisor to Northern Michigan University’s college newspaper was outed for encouraging her students to file public records requests and draw attention to acts of secrecy performed by university administration. Noting that public records requests are legal and even encouraged as per Michigan’s Freedom of Information Act, it is unnerving to know that the accomplishments and reputations of our nation’s finest journalism educators can be undermined in the name of image control. But the Marquette-based college is not alone; the Rochester Talon, the nationally recognized and award-winning student newspaper of Rochester High School in Oakland County, has been subjected to prior review by school administration since January, when–in an attempt to raise awareness about changing smoking trends among students of legal smoking age–it ran a photo (shown below) of a teenager (lawfully, and in an off-campus location) smoking a hookah pen. The school administration’s swift retaliation made certain that no journalist would again dare attempt to inform the school community about an issue of social concern.

    • Turkey’s press council says censorship still in place

      Turkey’s Press Council has said censorship is still in place in Turkey, adding the country ranked 149th among 199 countries in press freedom reports, with 21 journalists in jail and a large number of ongoing cases filed against journalists, in a written statement issued to mark the 107th anniversary of Journalists Day.

    • Israeli artists sound alarm over growing censorship

      According to local filmmakers, the recent suppression of documentary Beyond The Fear is just one episode in a quickening erosion of artistic freedom in Israel.

      As Nanni Moretti’s Mia Madre began to roll on the opening night of the Jerusalem Film Festival in the picturesque Sultan’s Pool amphitheatre in early July, another screening was kicking off just metres above the spectators’ heads.

    • The Edge suspension triggers fears of media clampdown

      Putrajaya’s three-month ban on two local publications reveals a growing clampdown on press freedom in Malaysia and a bid to encourage self-censorship, human rights groups said today.

    • 14,000 sign petition against FPB online regulations

      “If the Film and Publication Board’s new internet regulations are implemented, they’d have the right to review and classify almost every blog, video, and personal website – even Avaaz campaigns like this one. Think apartheid-era censorship, reloaded and super-charged for an all-out assault on our digital freedoms.”

    • WeChat censorship report: 1.5% of posts get censored

      WeChat is China’s hottest social media app. But like internet services in China, discussion on WeChat isn’t entirely free – it is censored by Tencent in accordance with Chinese law. Just how censored is WeChat, and what exactly is being hidden from view? Those questions are the subject of an exhaustive new report from the University of Toronto’s Citizen Lab on WeChat censorship.

    • How Tight Is Internet Censorship In China? It Censors WeChat Even For Harmless Rumors

      The Citizen Lab report, published on Monday July 20, conducted an analysis over several thousand posts that were posted publically on the social messaging app WeChat’s public blog. WeChat is owned by Tencent.

    • Dear Instagram, I love you but you’re bringing me down
    • Robyn Lawley exposes Instagram’s censorship policy in a weekend Twitter rant
    • Bill raises online censorship fears

      Legislation that is being promoted as a way to update the country’s anti-discrimination rules has sparked controversy in the Lower House and society at large amid concerns that it could lead to censorship, particularly in online forums.

  • Privacy

  • Civil Rights

    • Are Arabs white?

      In the US, race has always mattered. Whiteness in particular has mattered most, standing as the seal of civilisation and the gateway towards citizenship.

      Since 1944, Arabs have been deemed white by law. Many Arabs still embrace and defend that status today.

    • Palace fury over Hitler salute images is guff

      “England’s difficulty is Ireland’s opportunity”. Anyone who heard that in childhood as a wise saying, not to be questioned, was being told their elders believed the Nazis were not all bad.

    • British archives hiding royal family’s links to anti-Semitism in 1930s, says historian

      While research hitherto has focused on the support German aristocrats secretly provided Hitler within Germany, Urbach’s book discusses an additional, international dimension to this secret diplomatic back channel, most notably from members of the British royal family.

    • The Queen’s Nazi salute: Historical revisionism in the service of state censorship

      Writing in the Telegraph, Conservative London mayor Boris Johnson thundered that it “makes my blood boil to think that anyone should use this image in any way to impugn the extraordinary record of service of Her Majesty to this country.”

      She was “a tiny child, and she is making that parodic salute long before her family could possibly have grasped what Hitler and Hitlerism was really all about.”

      In the Guardian, columnist Michael White wrote that the “Queen’s Nazi salute [was] a sign of ignorance shared by many in scary times.” The royal family’s “wobbly views” were, he claimed, shared by the “great British public.”

      Elsewhere, military historian James Holland opined, “I don’t think there was a child in Britain in the 1930s or 40s who has not performed a mock Nazi salute as a bit of a lark. It just shows the Royal Family are as human as the next man.”

    • It’s true, teens can’t be punished like adults

      In the past decade, advances in neuroscience have given new insights into old problems, ranging from drug addiction and post-traumatic stress disorder to adolescent shenanigans.

      For example, if the new neuroscience shows that a drug addict’s brain is physically dissimilar to a non-addict’s brain in ways that make the former more prone to addiction, then we must ask if his infractions of the law ought to be treated less punitively.

    • Race should not be unthinkingly trotted out to gag free speech
    • Traumatized Amos Yee is open for Donation

      16-year-old traumatized, Amos Yee is open for cash donation, who had already served four weeks in jail.

    • We welcome criticism within constraints, says Singapore PM Lee Hsien Loong

      Mr Lee was asked about the cases of Amos Yee and Roy Ngerng – the former found guilty of insulting a religion, the latter of defaming the Prime Minister – in an interview with Time.

    • AWARE statement on the prosecution of Amos Yee

      AWARE has grave concerns about the negative implications of the recent prosecution of Amos Yee. This statement focuses on harassment and hate speech as these areas are closest to our work, although we also share concerns that others have raised about the importance of upholding freedom of expression, children’s rights, and the integrity of people with autism and mental health issues.

    • Teen blogger Amos Yee files appeal
    • Amos Yee files appeal against conviction and sentence
    • Singaporean blogger Amos Yee appeals against conviction, sentence

      Teenage blogger Amos Yee, who received a four-week jail sentence for posting an obscene image online and posting content intended to hurt the religious feelings of Christians, is appealing against both his conviction and the sentence.

    • Lawyers want judge who’s not Christian for Amos Yee appeal

      The lawyers for teenage blogger Amos Yee want his appeal to be heard by a non-Christian judge when it goes before the High Court.

      The 16-year-old will be appealing against both his conviction and sentence. His lawyer Alfred Dodwell filed the notice of appeal on July 9, three days after Yee was released from remand.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Corporate lobbying expense jumps as U.S. trade debate rages

      Washington lobbying by companies and groups involved in global trade boomed in the past nine months, records show, as Congress debated a landmark trade pact proposed by President Barack Obama, the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).

      Lobbying expenditures by members of a pro-TPP coalition increased to $135 million in the second quarter of 2015, up from $126 million in the first quarter and $118 million in the fourth quarter of 2014, according to Senate Office of Public Records reports reviewed by Reuters.

    • Trademarks

      • JDate Is Suing JSwipe Over The Letter ‘J’, Here’s What My Bubbie Would Have Said

        Today, Forbes unearthed a lawsuit from late last year that Jewish dating site JDate’s parent company filed against an app called JSwipe (also aimed at Jewish folk). It’s over the use of the letter J. The case is set to pick up again next month.

      • Jdate Sues Competitor Jewish Dating App For Using The Letter “J”

        Jdate, the popular dating service responsible for more Jewish hookups than a bottle of Manischewitz, is playing hardball in the dog-eat-dog world of nice Jewish match-making.

        Jdate’s parent company, Spark Networks, discreetly filed a lawsuit late last year against Jswipe, the ‘Tinder for Jews’ dating app, claiming intellectual property over the letter “J” within the Jewish dating scene (the company refers to the branding as the “J-family”).

      • Members Of The ‘Tribe’ Swipe For A Shidduch

        Over the sounds of the packed crowd at the lower level of Noho hotspot “Acme,” on Tuesday evening, one phrase could consistently be heard: “I work in real estate.”

      • Jdate Sues Competitor Jewish Dating App For Using The Letter “J”

        Additionally, Jdate claims it owns the patent on software that “confidentially determines matches and notifies users of mutual matches in feelings and interests.” Jswipe, like Tinder, notifies users when their romantic interest ‘swipes right’ on their picture, violating Jdate’s patent.

    • Copyrights

      • A 1990s anti-piracy law is why you haven’t seen the hacked list of Ashley Madison customers

        “Using the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), our team has now successfully removed all posts related to this incident as well as all Personally Identifiable Information (PII) about our users published online,” said Ashley Madison parent company Avid Life Media in a statement. “We have always had the confidentiality of our customers’ information foremost in our minds and are pleased that the provisions included in the DMCA have been effective in addressing this matter.”

      • Response to IPO consultation on raising jail sentences for online infringement

        The Intellectual Property Office is consulting on proposals to increase prison penalties for criminal online copyright infringement to 10 years to bring them to the same levels as those for similar physical copyright infringement.

« Previous Page« Previous entries « Previous Page · Next Page » Next entries »Next Page »

Further Recent Posts

RSS 64x64RSS Feed: subscribe to the RSS feed for regular updates

Home iconSite Wiki: You can improve this site by helping the extension of the site's content

Home iconSite Home: Background about the site and some key features in the front page

Chat iconIRC Channels: Come and chat with us in real time

New to This Site? Here Are Some Introductory Resources

No

Mono

ODF

Samba logo






We support

End software patents

GPLv3

GNU project

BLAG

EFF bloggers

Comcast is Blocktastic? SavetheInternet.com



Recent Posts