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08.21.16

Links 21/8/2016: Apple and Microsoft Down, Systemd Spreading to Mount

Posted in News Roundup at 9:40 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

Free Software/Open Source

  • Open365 – Clouding with style

    Office, suite, cloud. Sounds familiar. Google Docs. Yup. Microsoft Office 365. Yup. LibreOffice. No. Wait, what? Buzzwords around modern technology concepts are all too easy to ignore, but this one actually caught my attention beyond the almost-too-cliche dotIO domain, the blue design very reminiscent of Docker (hint), and optimistic text that promises wonders.

    Anyhow, Open365 is an all-in-one productivity suite, based on KDE, Seafile, LibreOffice, Docker, and Jitsi. That’s enough buzz to keep you warm till 2020, but is it any good? Or rather, can it compete with the proven giants out there? I decided to explore and see what gives.

  • ReactOS 0.4.2 Officially Released
  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • 3 Firefox Add-ons Every Ubuntu User Needs

        Firefox is the default browser in Ubuntu — but it doesn’t integrate with the Unity desktop as well as it could.

        That’s where the following Ubuntu Firefox add-ons come in. These little extras, trivial though they seem, help to bridge the (admittedly few) gaps and missing functionality between browser and OS.

      • Mozilla is changing its look—and asking the Internet for feedback

        Mozilla is trying a rebranding. Back in June, the browser developer announced that it would freshen up its logo and enlist the Internet’s help in reaching a final decision. The company hired British design company Johnson Banks to come up with seven new “concepts” to illustrate the company’s work, as shown in the gallery above.

        The logos rely on vibrant colors, and several of them recall ’80s and ’90s style. In pure, nearly-unintelligible marketing speak, Mozilla writes that each new design reflects a story about the company. “From paying homage to our paleotechnic origins to rendering us as part of an ever-expanding digital ecosystem, from highlighting our global community ethos to giving us a lift from the quotidian elevator open button, the concepts express ideas about Mozilla in clever and unexpected ways” Mozilla’s Creative Director Tim Murray writes in a blog post.

        Mozilla is soliciting comment and criticism on the seven new designs for the next two weeks, but this is no Boaty McBoatface situation. Mozilla is clear that it’s not crowdsourcing a design, asking anyone to work on spec, or holding a vote over which logo the Internet prefers. It’s just asking for comments.

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

  • BSD

    • DragonFlyBSD Decides To Drop PulseAudio

      DragonFlyBSD developers have decided to remove PulseAudio from their dports packaging system and patch their desktop software to not depend upon this open-source sound server.

      Running PulseAudio on DragonFlyBSD appears to cause problems for users, similar to PulseAudio in its early days on Linux, “the pulseaudio server didn’t seem to work and even caused one CPU to spin at 100% usage. Moreover, it seems that firefox, even if built without pulseaudio, would detect if PA was installed and use it over ALSA resulting in no sound and a spinning CPU,” according to John Marino who removed PA from DragonFlyBSD.

    • LLVM Clang 3.9 Still On Track For Release Next Week

      LLVM release manager Hans Wennborg tagged LLVM 3.9.0-rc2 on Thursday and it’s still looking like LLVM/Clang 3.9 could ship on schedule next week.

      Hans noted in the RC2 announcement, “This is a release candidate in the very real sense that if nothing new comes up, this is be what the final release looks like. There are currently no open release blockers, and no patches in my merge-queue.”

Leftovers

  • Know English? For New York Cabdrivers, That’s No Longer Required [iophk: "This change is so wrong on many levels. There are many, many reasons to require a basic ability to communicate."]

    Hail a yellow taxi in New York City, and there is a good chance the driver is from another country. Passengers are regularly exposed to a range of languages that span the globe, from Spanish to Bengali to Urdu.

    It can be charming, but also maddening for riders who feel that drivers do not understand where they want to go. Don’t you have to speak English, some wonder, to drive a taxi here?

    As of Friday, the answer is no.

    That is when new rules went into effect eliminating the requirement that taxi drivers take an English proficiency exam. Now, the test for a taxi license is available in several languages, to accommodate non-English speakers.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Building alternatives for food systems and trade

      And it’s not over yet. As public pressure continues this year, whether through vibrant events like Rock Against the TPP ! or organized pressure on specific members of Congress, there is a concerted demand by progressive civil society organizations and leaders to halt current trade agreements and to insist on a different process, different rules, and a different vision of what comes next. We need trade policy that serves to reduce inequality, build local economies and enhance environmental sustainability.

    • CDC Expands Zika Travel Advisory in Miami

      The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Friday expanded its unprecedented travel advisory warning pregnant women to avoid several neighborhoods in Miami, Florida.

      The initial advisory, issued on August 2, was the first of its kind for a continental U.S. city.

      The expanded advisory names “a second zone of local Zika transmission, a swath of Miami Beach that includes the popular tourist magnet of South Beach,” the New York Times reports.

      The initial area touched on “the Wynwood, Midtown, and Design District neighborhoods in Miami, popular with tourists,” the Miami Herald notes.

    • Revealed: Banned drugs used by cheating athletes for sale just TWO MILES from Olympic venues in Rio

      Banned performance enhancing drugs used by athletes to cheat their way to medals and glory can be bought in Rio de Janeiro less than two miles from where Olympic events take place.

      The Rio Olympics is under the shadow of drugs because of the presence of Russia after allegations of a state sponsored cover-up of cheating athletes and the comparative ease with which performance improving substances can be obtained in the host city will cause serious concern.

      Two athletes Chinese swimmer Chen Xinyi, 18, who finished fourth in the 100m butterfly in Rio, and Bulgarian steeplechaser Silvia Danekova – have been exposed in the first week of the Games.

    • ‘BernieCare’ can save ObamaCare

      The decision by Aetna to withdraw from many ObamaCare exchanges was a predictable outrage that opens to the door not to the demise of ObamaCare, but the dramatic improvement of ObamaCare led by a grand battle by Sen. Bernie Sanders (Vt.) and progressives to enact the public option and move toward a Medicare-for-all healthcare system.

      Let’s coin the phrase “BernieCare” to describe the kind of healthcare system that progressives believe, with some reason, would be the kind of program that voters prefer. Sanders has long been a champion of single-payer healthcare — which I personally support — but for obvious political reasons in a lobbyist-dominated Washington, single payer is highly unlikely to happen soon.

    • This Town Is Sick of Drinking Polluted Water

      In Alabama’s Black Belt, a region where the vestiges of slavery still manifest in chronic poverty and crumbling infrastructure, a more recent legacy of mining and industry is haunting the land through poisoned waterways and toxic soil.

      Yet the region has long been the rural core of civil-rights struggles, and along the Black Belt, local citizens are trying to revive a legacy of activism as they struggle to restore their environment.

      In Uniontown—in Perry County, one of the state’s poorest—residents say they have been systematically denied the basic dignity of decent sanitation—what activists see as the residue of institutionalized racism.

    • Poor Sanitation Persisted at U.N. Missions Long After Haiti Cholera Crisis

      Years after medical studies linked the 2010 cholera outbreak in Haiti to infected United Nations peacekeepers, the organization’s auditors found that poor sanitation practices remained unaddressed not only in its Haitian mission but also in at least six others in Africa and the Middle East, a review of their findings shows.

      The findings, in audits conducted by the United Nations Office of Internal Oversight Services in 2014 and 2015, appear to reflect the organization’s intent to avoid another public health crisis like cholera.

      But the findings also provide some insight into how peacekeepers and their supervisors may have been either unaware of or lax about the need to enforce rigorous protocols for wastewater, sewage and hazardous waste disposal at United Nations missions — despite the known risks and the lessons learned from Haiti, where at least 10,000 people have died from cholera and hundreds of thousands have been sickened.

    • As UN Admits Role in Haiti Cholera Crisis, Audits Show No Lessons Learned

      A day after the United Nations admitted that it helped spread cholera in Haiti, the organization also found that poor sanitation persisted in its missions around the world—from the Caribbean nation to Africa and the Middle East.

  • Security

    • New BlackArch Linux ISO Released with Over 1,500 Penetration Testing, Hacking Tools
    • Address Bar Spoofing Vulnerability Found in Several Browsers

      Chrome, Firefox and other web browsers are plagued by vulnerabilities that can be exploited to spoof their address bar. Some of the affected vendors are still working on addressing the issues.

      Pakistan-based researcher Rafay Baloch discovered that the address bar in Google Chrome, also known as the omnibox, can be tricked into flipping URLs.

      The problem, which affects Chrome for Android, is related to how Arabic and Hebrew text is written from right to left (RTL). If an attacker’s URL starts with an IP address and it contains an Arabic character, the URL’s host and path are reversed.

  • Defence/Aggression

    • Breaking from Saudi Arabia!!! Two Month Old Misleading News

      In spite of the fact that this “exclusive” — which has since been reported by other outlets with similarly misleading headlines — describes two month old news, it nevertheless obscures that fact with its editorial choices, as here where it suggests the move “reduces,” in present tense, staff numbers, or the headline which hides that, in fact, the US already withdrew these staffers.

      [...]
      s
      I’d also suggest that reports about what non-uniformed US personnel are doing in Yemen’s immediate neighborhood would be a better gauge of the support we’re giving Saudi Arabia beyond refueling their aistrikes, the latter of which has not stopped at all.

    • Dragon Rising? China seeks Closer military Cooperation with Syria

      The Arabic press is reporting that a high Chinese official on a visit to Damascus has announced that Beijing intends to strengthen its military relationship with the current Syrian government. At the same time he affirmed that China would avoid involvement in the civil war. Reuters broke the story in the West.

      China has a long history of involvement in Syrian security affairs and is already doing some training of the Syrian military. But Beijing now seems intent on taking the relationship to the next level.

      The news comes in the wake of reports that Russia is strengthening its own military ties with Iran and may be flying missions against fundamentalist rebels in Syria from that country.

      China and Russia both belong to the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, which appears to see Iran and Syria as potential strategic assets in its rivalry with the US and NATO. They feel as though NATO stole Libya from them, and are determined to make a stand in Syria. The newspaper of the Chinese military said that Russia’s moves in Crimea and Syria should be studied by Chinese officers. Iran has observer status in the SCO.

    • Bolivia Builds Anti-Imperialist School to Counter US Hegemony

      ‘If the empire teaches domination of the world from its military schools, we will learn from this school to free ourselves from imperial oppression,’ says Bolivian President Evo Morales

    • Bolivia opens ‘anti-imperialist’ military school to counter US foreign policies

      Bolivia’s president Evo Morales has opened a new “anti-imperialist” military academy to counter US policies and military influence in Latin America.

      “If the empire teaches domination of the world from its military schools, we will learn from this school to free ourselves from imperial oppression,” the country’s first indigenous president said at an inauguration ceremony on Wednesday.

    • U.S. Defense Contractors Tell Investors Russian Threat Is Great for Business

      The escalating anti-Russian rhetoric in the U.S. presidential campaign comes in the midst of a major push by military contractors to position Moscow as a potent enemy that must be countered with a drastic increase in military spending by NATO countries.

      Weapon makers have told investors that they are relying on tensions with Russia to fuel new business in the wake of Russian’s annexation of Crimea and modest increases in its military budget.

    • A Lawless Plan to Target Syria’s Allies

      Official Washington’s disdain for international law – when its doing the lawbreaking – was underscored by ex-CIA acting director Morell voicing plans for murdering Iranians and maybe Russians in Syria, ex-CIA analyst Ray McGovern says.

    • Marcos Redux

      We interrupt election news just long enough to bring you breaking news of Ferdinand Marcos, deceased. As corpses’ sojourns go, his has been one of the most enduring, due in large part to the devoted attention of his wife, Imelda. To long time readers of this column, apologies are in order since some of what is described today was reported ten years ago in this very space.

      Ferdinand moved to Hawaii in 1986, having been overthrown as president of the Philippines in a People Power Revolution. His move was assisted by President Ronald Reagan who arranged for the United States Air Force to provide two U.S. Air Force C-141s to carry the Marcos family, its retainers and belongings to Hawaii. Sadly, Mr. Marcos’s sojourn there was cut short by his death on September 28, 1989. His death marked the end of one adventure but the beginning of another, an adventure that will end on September 18, 2016, when he will come to rest in the Heroes Cemetery in Manila.

    • We Can’t Say We Didn’t Know

      A word about five-year-old Omran Daqneesh. The image of him sitting still, stunned, bloodied in an ambulance after being scooped out of rubble from an air strike on Aleppo has quickly spread, reads one account, “shocking and disturbing social media users.” Well yes. Shocking and disturbing. Harrowing and heartbreaking. But, to be clear, not exceptional. Up to a half million Syrians have been killed in Russian and Assad air strikes, many aimed at Aleppo. “These are children bombed every day,” notes Mustafa al-Sarout, an Aleppo-based journalist who filmed the rescue, and was surprised at the reaction. “This child is a representative of millions of children in Syria and its cities.”

      Those there or witness to it say the same things. “Everyone is bombing Syrians, and no one cares,” says Dr. Zaher Sahloul, founder of the American Relief Coalition for Syria and former president of the Syrian American Medical Society. The story not being told in the media: “Civilians are suffering every day. Children are being mutilated and killed… Hospitals are targeted. Schools are targeted. Fruit markets are targeted. This is the tragedy that we are living in.” A tragedy, he adds, that most of the world turns away from, because we can. Because we can be shocked, even surprised despite the years-long carnage, and then go on with our lives, as silent as Omran in his ash and blood and shock.

    • China and the U.S. are Approaching Dangerous Seas

      A combination of recent events, underpinned by long-running historical strains reaching back more than 60 years, has turned the western Pacific into one of the most hazardous spots on the globe. The tension between China and the United States “is one of the most striking and dangerous themes in international politics,” says The Financial Times’ longtime commentator and China hand, Gideon Rachman.

      In just the past five months, warships from both countries—including Washington’s closest ally in the region, Japan—have done everything but ram one another. And, as Beijing continues to build bases on scattered islands in the South China Sea, the United States is deploying long-range nuclear capable strategic bombers in Australia and Guam.

      At times the rhetoric from both sides is chilling. When Washington sent two aircraft carrier battle groups into the area, Chinese defense ministry spokesman Yang Yujun cautioned the Americans to “be careful.” While one U.S. admiral suggested drawing “the line” at the Spratly Islands close to the Philippines, an editorial in the Chinese Communist Party’s Global Times warned that U.S. actions “raised the risk of physical confrontation with China.” The newspaper went on to warn that “if the United States’ bottom line is that China has to halt its activities, then a U.S.-China war is inevitable in the South China Sea.”

    • US Support for Saudi Coalition Remains Steadfast, Despite Growing Outcry

      The U.S. remains defiant in its support for the Saudi campaign in Yemen, even as its backing for the ongoing and indiscriminate assault comes under increasing scrutiny.

      Following a week that saw the Saudi-led coalition kill significant numbers of Yemeni civilians, including in an attack on a school and the bombing of a Doctors Without Borders facility—which led the charity to announce it was pulling its staff from the northern part of the country—Reuters reported exclusively on Friday that the Pentagon in June withdrew military personnel who were involved in planning the campaign from Saudi Arabia.

      “Fewer than five U.S. service people are now assigned full-time to the ‘Joint Combined Planning Cell,’ which was established last year to coordinate U.S. support, including air-to-air refueling of coalition jets and limited intelligence-sharing,” according to the news service, which cited Lieutenant Ian McConnaughey, a U.S. Navy spokesman in Bahrain. That’s down from a peak of 45, he said.

    • Richard Holbrooke and the Obama Doctrine

      In 1975, during Gerald Ford’s administration, Indonesia invaded East Timor and slaughtered 200,000 indigenous Timorese. The Indonesian invasion of East Timor set the stage for a long and bloody occupation that recently ended after an international peacekeeping force was introduced in 1999.

      Transcripts of meetings among Indonesian dictator Mohamed Suharto, Ford, and Secretary of State Henry Kissinger have shown conclusively that Kissinger and Ford authorized and encouraged Suharto’s murderous actions. “We will understand and will not press you on the issue [of East Timor],” said President Ford in a meeting with Suharto and Kissinger in early December 1975, days before Suharto’s bloodbath. “We understand the problem and the intentions you have,” he added.

    • Neofascism of the Law and Order Candidate

      Henry Giroux tells Paul Jay that fear is an organizing principle of U.S. society

    • Turkey and Iran Reach Agreement on Conditions for Syria Peace

      In a stunning diplomatic surprise, Turkey and Iran have announced a preliminary agreement on fundamental principles for a settlement of the Syrian conflict.

    • Hillary Clinton’s War Policy

      As a result of Trump’s stumbles, Hillary Clinton seems to be on course to become next president of the United States and it is depressing to reflect on what some of her policies might be if she achieves that office. Unfortunately, the future looks bleak for peace and stability around the world.

      She is one of the Washington-Brussels war-drum beaters who planned the 2011 aerial blitz on Libya to destroy the government of President Gaddafi, about whose murder she giggled that “We came; We saw; He died.” The US-NATO attacks on Libya caused massive suffering and destruction, opened the way for feuding bands of militants to fight each other for control of parts of the country, and created a haven for the lunatic extremists of Islamic State.

    • A Battle to the Death in Syria

      All sides are terrified of each other and with good reason: Amnesty International last week published a report describing how 17,723 people, or 300 a month, have been tortured or otherwise done to death in Syrian government prisons since 2011. Most of the 4.8 million Syrian refugees come from opposition areas, many of which have been flattened by bombs, shells and bulldozers so they look like pictures of Warsaw in 1945.

    • Photo of the Week: Omran Daqneesh, Pulled From the Rubble in Aleppo

      Who’s to blame? Forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad or his Russian allies launched the bomb into rebel-held Aleppo more than five years into a war that has spanned the whole of Omran’s life. According to the Syrian Network for Human Rights, Russian bombings recently overtook Islamic State as a cause of civilian deaths in the country.

    • Is UK foreign policy helping to fuel the conflict in Syria?

      With the Syrian war escalating, I sat down with Andy Baker, the Regional Program Manager for Oxfam’s Syria crisis response. I asked about the humanitarian situation, the UK’s role in the conflict and what policy Oxfam believes the UK should be following in Syria.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • Internet energy impacts on climate

      Switch off your computer, dust off your old typewriter, sharpen all the pencils you can find, lay in stocks of postage stamps − and that’s just the start.

    • The Climate Catastrophe Cannot Be Reversed Within the Capitalist Culture

      His face was hacked off. Left prostrate in the red dust, to be preyed on by vultures, his body remained intact except for the obscene hole where his magnificent six foot long tusks used to be. Satao was a so-called tusker, an African elephant with a rare genetic strain that produced tusks so long that they dangled to the ground, making him a prime attraction in Kenya’s Tsavo East National Park.

      These beautiful tusks also made him particularly valuable to ivory poachers, who felled him with poison arrows, carved off his face to get at his tusks, and left his carcass for the flies. The grisly death of Satao, one of Africa’s largest elephants, is part of a violent wave of poaching that is sweeping the continent today. In 2011, twenty-five thousand African elephants were slaughtered for their ivory. An additional forty-five thousand have been killed since that time. If the present rate of slaughter continues, one of the two species of African elephants, the forest elephant, whose numbers have declined by 60 percent since 2002, is likely to be gone from Africa within a decade.

    • Social Media Exposes Devastating Effects of Louisiana Flood (Multimedia)

      It’s been labeled “the worst U.S. disaster since Hurricane Sandy,” yet many are accusing the mainstream media of providing too little coverage of the catastrophic flooding across Louisiana.

      The flooding, which began earlier this week, has left at least 13 people dead and tens of thousands homeless. On Friday, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump paid a highly publicized visit to the state, despite a plea from Louisiana’s governor for political figures to avoid photo ops in the flooded areas. “Trump told reporters he came to help out,” reports Bryn Stole of Reuters. “Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards’ office, however, had said Trump did not call to discuss plans.”

    • Rock-solid carbon storage hopes rise

      Study of natural carbon dioxide reservoirs shows that the greenhouse gas could be safely stored deep underground for tens of thousands of years.

    • The New Normal: Organizing to Break the Cycle of Climate Disaster

      The record-breaking floods in Louisiana are the latest example of what many working people already know all too well: climate change has already begun, and it is wrecking our communities.

      So far, over 30,000 people have been evacuated from their homes, 10,000 people are in shelters, and those numbers are rising. The shelters themselves are experiencing flooding, and some families have already been relocated multiple times. At this point, almost 30 parishes have been declared major disaster areas.

    • Amid Flooding, Groups Call for End to ‘Unconscionable’ Fossil Fuel Auctions

      A coalition of climate and advocacy groups on Friday called on the Obama administration to cancel an upcoming fossil fuel auction as Louisiana reels from the unprecedented floods that have ravaged the state—and which rescue groups have described as the worst U.S. disaster since Superstorm Sandy.

      The organizations, including 350.org, CREDO, and Greenpeace, circulated a petition imploring President Barack Obama to call off the planned August 24 offshore drilling lease auction for a portion of the Gulf of Mexico “the size of Virginia.” The auction is set to take place in the New Orleans Superdome, which became an infamous symbol of climate injustice and bureaucratic callousness when Hurricane Katrina victims were forced to take shelter there in 2005.

    • Scientists link conflict and climate change

      Ethnic conflict linked to tragic episodes of civil war, waves of refugees and even the collapse of nation states could be made more likely by climate-related disasters.

      A team of European scientists say they can demonstrate, “in a scientifically sound way”, a link between civil violence based on ethnic divisions, and episodes of drought, intense heat or other climate-linked weather extremes.

      That climate change seems to be a factor in social collapse is now fairly firmly established. Researchers have identified evidence of prolonged drought that preceded the collapse of Assyrian and Bronze Age civilisations in prehistory.

    • For Future Summer Olympics, Climate Change Is No Game

      The Lancet researchers made use of the global attention being paid to the Olympics to make a bigger point: “The world beyond 2050 poses increasingly difficult challenges … because the extent and speed of change might exceed society’s ability to adapt.” Half the world’s workers work outdoors, they note, and, increasingly, the outdoors, and indoor spaces without cooling, are becoming unsafe. They warn that “exertional heat stroke and its negative outcomes, including mortality, will become a large part of outdoor work around the world.” Drawing from another sports example, thousands of workers are toiling in extreme heat in Qatar, building the stadiums for the 2022 World Cup soccer championships. The International Trade Union Confederation estimates that “more than 7,000 workers will die before a ball is kicked in the 2022 World Cup.”

    • From Epic Fires to a 1,000-Year Flood: The Climate Change of Here and Now

      From deadly floods in Louisiana to an “explosive” wildfire in California, the impacts of the climate change are being felt across the United States this week.

      Neither extreme weather event can be exclusively blamed on global warming. But record-breaking heat, warmer oceans, and drier brush—all linked to man-made climate change—are certainly contributing factors.

      “Climate change is never going to announce itself by name. But this is what we should expect it to look like,” declared Jonah Engel Bromwich at the New York Times, referring to the flooding in southern Louisiana, which has been called the worst natural disaster to strike the U.S. since Superstorm Sandy.

      In fact, current analyses suggest that—as was the case in 2012—greenhouse gas emissions and resultant climate change at the very least increased the severity of the storm that brought on the flooding.

    • As Louisiana floods rage, Republicans are blocking modest climate action

      If we needed a reminder of the importance of taking climate change seriously, the floods in Louisiana are providing a big one on a daily basis. When it comes to the big environmental issues, our country’s polarization is historically unusual, and it’s already gone way too far. That’s why the latest fight to break out in Washington over climate issues needs more attention.

      On 1 August, the White House Council on Environmental Quality issued a non-binding suggestion, formally known as “guidance”, to federal agencies to think about climate change when making decisions under a law called the National Environmental Policy Act (Nepa). What should have produced a shrug (or, hopefully, a cheer) caused a panic on the right that’s only getting louder.

      Under Nepa, federal agencies have to account for the environmental impacts of taking major actions such as approving a mine permit, constructing or removing a dam or allowing a road near a protected habitat. These decisions are made by trained scientists and public servants with years of expertise and involve an unparalleled level of public input. By and large, they are among the most rigorously footnoted and well-supported decisions the federal government makes, and Nepa is one of the best vehicles the public has to express concerns about federal impacts on homes and communities.

    • Clinton Foundation Should Also Divest Its Fossil Fuel Holdings

      350 Action, the political arm of climate organization 350.org that has supported the fossil fuel divestment movement, is celebrating today’s announcement that the Clinton Foundation will stop receiving corporate donations if Hillary Clinton is elected President, and urging the Foundation to go a step further by divesting all of its holdings in fossil fuel companies.

    • Dakota Pipeline Construction Halted Amid Ongoing ‘Defiance of Black Snake’

      Hillary Clinton called to ‘take a stand against this ominous pipeline as well as the brazen violation of our treaty rights’

    • North Dakota pipeline construction halted until court date
    • Hillary Clinton must stand with Native Americans

      Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton says she is committed to supporting Indian country. Well, now her commitment is being put to the test.

      Thousands of Native Americans and allies, including actress Shailene Woodley, have been at the Standing Rock Sioux reservation in North Dakota to protest the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline there. The almost $4 billion, 1,172-mile-long pipeline, which received its permits from the Army Corps of Engineers in July, will snake through ancient Standing Rock Sioux burial grounds and may also threaten the peoples’ drinking water.

  • Finance

    • Reality is broken

      Then the Brexit vote happened and over the next two weeks of utterly surreal political chaos it became apparent that I had a Problem.

    • Zuckerberg Sells $95 Million in Facebook Shares for Philanthropy [iophk: “for some special definitions of ‘donate’”; Zuckerberg appears to be embracing Bill Gates’ method of tax evasion, to shelter is his growing wealth.]

      Facebook Inc. Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg has made his first big share sale to fund his family’s philanthropic initiative.

      The sale of more than 760,000 shares of Facebook stock, valued at about $95 million, was made by Chan Zuckerberg Initiative Holdings and the Chan Zuckerberg Foundation, according to a regulatory filing Friday. The price of the shares ranged from $122.85 to $124.31.

    • How Trump and Christie Colluded to Steal $25 Million From NJ Taxpayers

      The very thought of New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, a man with all the charm and temperament of Bluto, being commander-in-chief was luckily destroyed. His pathetic and nonexistent presidential run proved that America preferred an even bigger, louder and more unstable narcissistic a-hole in Donald Trump. But since he can’t keep being governor of New Jersey forever, the blob of buffoonery has to kiss up to Trump in the hopes that it gets him an unelectable cabinet-level position. Well, that cynical effort appears to be playing out quite beautifully.

      The sketchy relationship between Christie and Trump took on a new chapter after a New York Times report showed that Trump’s $30 million casino tax debt, something New Jersey officials fought endlessly to collect, was suddenly reduced by a massive amount after Christie took office in 2010.

    • Detroit Ready to Sue Banks, Private Companies for Unpaid Property Taxes

      Detroit has finally set its sights on some of the real culprits of the city’s financial crisis—the banks and for-profit companies that refuse to pay their share.

      The city on Wednesday said it issued demand letters to 1,543 private entities, both residential and commercial, to recoup more than $12 million in unpaid property taxes, which piled up between 2010 and 2012 alone.

      If they don’t pony up, the city will file lawsuits against them by the end of the month, officials said.

      “For too long, there are those who chose not to pay what they owed in taxes, leaving everyone else to pay the price,” Detroit’s treasurer and deputy chief financial officer David Szymanski said Wednesday. “We are working to improve city services for our residents, and to do that—whether it’s better police and fire protection, streetlights or better schools for our children—we need everyone who does business in this city to pay their fair share.”

    • CBO Report: Rich Get Richer, Poor Get Poorer

      Total wealth in the United States doubled between 1989 and 2013, but the wealth of the American family right in the middle of the economy barely budged in that time, according to a new report prepared by the Congressional Budget Office for U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.).

      “Over the period from 1989 through 2013, family wealth grew at significantly different rates for different segments of the U.S. population,” CBO wrote. “The distribution of wealth among the nation’s families was more unequal in 2013 than it had been in 1989.”

    • Sanders Condemns Obscene Levels of Inequality Documented in New CBO Report

      Yet another report, this one from the U.S. Congressional Budget Office (CBO), highlights what many American families already know: The rich keep getting richer, while everyone else keeps struggling to get by.

      The CBO report, released Thursday and prepared at the request of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), examines trends in family wealth from 1989 to 2013.

      It found, unsurprisingly, that the distribution of wealth—assets including home equity, other real estate holdings, financial securities, and defined contribution pension accounts—among the nation’s families “was more unequal in 2013 than it had been in 1989.”

    • ‘Good to Be King’: The Very Good Loans Key Lawmakers Get from Wall Street Banks

      A new study identifies “a direct channel through which financial institutions contribute to the net worth of members of the U.S. Congress”—especially those ostensibly tasked with overseeing those very Wall Street entities.

      The paper from London Business School professors Ahmed Tahoun and Florin Vasvari, which is based on a “unique dataset” provided by the Center for Responsive Politics (CRP), finds that members of Congress sitting on the finance committees in the Senate and the House of Representatives “report greater levels of leverage and new liabilities as a proportion of their total net worth, relative to when they are not part of the finance committee or relative to other congressional members.”

      The authors write that their analysis was “motivated in part by anecdotal evidence suggesting that some U.S. politicians, who are in a position to potentially affect the future performance of financial institutions that lend to them, have allegedly received preferential treatments from lenders.”

    • Whistleblower Rejects Award to Protest SEC and Wall Street’s “Looting”

      A Deutsche Bank whistleblower rejected his portion of a $16.5 million award for exposing corporate crime because the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) let bank officials off the hook, he said Thursday.

      Former risk manager Eric Ben-Artzi, who went to federal authorities in 2010 after he was fired from Deutsche Bank for alerting its officials of improper accounting, said the bank and the SEC were so deeply entwined in a revolving-door culture that commissioners refused to properly investigate the firm’s top executives.

      “This goes beyond the typical revolving door story. In this case, top SEC lawyers had held senior posts at the bank, moving in and out of top positions at the regulator even as the investigations into malfeasance at Deutsche were ongoing,” Ben-Artzi wrote in an op-ed for the Financial Times.

    • Progressives Gear Up To Kill TPP In Lame-Duck Congress

      As Hillary Clinton’s election victory appears increasingly likely, liberal groups already have their sights on the next battle: defeating the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal.

      President Barack Obama issued an official notification last Friday that he plans to submit the Trans-Pacific Partnership for a vote in Congress.

      While congressional Republican leaders must still green-light the votes, the move has confirmed for many progressive activists that the White House plans to go all-in for the accord during the lame-duck session of Congress after the November election.

    • Trump and Clinton’s free trade retreat: a pivotal moment for the world’s economic future

      Enemies in politics and opposed on nearly all fronts, Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton have found themselves united together against Barack Obama and a tradition that has kept America in charge of the world economy’s rules for more than 70 years. The next president of the United States is rethinking free trade.

      In Washington, that tradition was taken for granted for so long that it rarely attracted much attention even in the business press, let alone dominated the politics pages of an entire election season. But in 2016, America’s faltering faith in free trade has become the most sensitive controversy in DC – never before have both main presidential candidates broken with the orthodoxy that globalisation is always good for Americans.

    • As Resistance Mounts, TPP Becoming 2016 Election’s Third Rail

      As the White House prepares for its final “all-out push” to pass the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) during the upcoming lame-duck session of Congress, lawmakers on both sides of the political aisle are being made vulnerable due to growing opposition to the controversial, corporate-friendly trade deal.

      “[I]n 2016,” the Guardian reported on Saturday, “America’s faltering faith in free trade has become the most sensitive controversy in D.C.”

      Yet President Barack Obama “has refused to give up,” wrote Guardian journalists Dan Roberts and Ryan Felton, despite the fact that the 12-nation TPP “suddenly faces a wall of political opposition among lawmakers who had, not long ago, nearly set the giant deal in stone.”

    • How Parasitic Finance Capital Has Turned Iran’s Economy Into a Case of Casino Capitalism

      Critics have often blamed President Rouhani of Iran for blindly following the neoclassical-neoliberal model of capitalism. The critical problem with Mr. Rouhani’s economic policies, however, is more than just following the dominant economic model of neoliberalism; more gravely, it is following the worst aspects of that model.

      One such disturbing aspect is the unregulated and out-of-control financialization of Iran’s economy: the banking/financial sector is given a free rein to engage in all kinds of parasitic, speculative activities. As this practice has robbed the manufacturing sector of the economy of the productively-investible finance capital, it has thereby led to a severe economic stagnation and high rates of unemployment.

    • McDonalds Could Be Held Liable For Franchise Wage Theft, Federal Judge Rules

      A federal judge in California allowed class action wage theft litigation to proceed against McDonald’s, on the grounds that a jury could find it guilty of negligence.

      Judge Richard Seeborg said Tuesday that the lawsuit against the corporation may continue under the “ostensible agency theory.”

      The doctrine holds an actor responsible for the fault of another, if victims reasonably believe that the perpetrator committed wrongdoing in the employ of said actor.

      The case involves McDonald’s franchise co-owners, Bobby and Carol Haynes, who operate eight restaurants in Northern California. Leading the class are three women who work in one of their Oakland restaurants: Guadalupe Salazar, Judith Zarate, and Genoveva Lopez.

      “Looking at the record, there is considerable evidence, albeit subject to dispute, that McDonalds caused plaintiffs reasonably to believe Haynes was acting as its agent,” Seeborg ruled.

    • Economic Update: The System Exposed

      This episode of Professor Wolff’s radio show discusses the economics of the Olympics, mass transit, productivity truths and the crimes of the Pacific Gas and Electric Company. The show also examines political conflict between unions and the rich.

    • The Fight for a Six Hour Workday

      How long should we work? Jeremy Corbyn’s proposal of a 6-hour working day policy shows the answer to this question is not a god-given fact. In reality each society makes a deliberate decision, and the answers are subject to massive historical fluctuation and social struggle, which we continue to see today. When Francois Hollande announced this year that the 35-hour week would be increased, he was met with the #LoiTravail strikes, which were fierce enough to see the exhausted French police begging the trade unions for a ceasefire. With the biggest social-democratic party in Europe putting 6 hours forward, this is now a move which could feasibly take place. But what are the arguments for and against it? What did the working day look like in the past? And how could it look in the future?

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s Primary Challenger Claims She Illegally Used DNC Resources Against Him

      In an interview with Mimi Rosenberg and Ken Nash of WBAI’s “Building Bridges” radio program, Tim Canova, a law professor, a former Truthdigger of the Week and the Bernie Sanders-endorsed primary challenger of Florida Democrat Debbie Wasserman Schultz, explains why he filed a formal complaint with the Federal Election Commission against Wasserman Schultz over information found in DNC emails made public by WikiLeaks and says Depression-era types of public investment would bring general prosperity to Americans.

      “We’ve had this complaint going on for many months,” Canova said. “The campaign had been growing pretty rapidly. In the first four months we raised about a million dollars. Very unprecedented here. And the way we’re raising money is very much the way that the Bernie Sanders campaign did, in small contributions from many thousands of ordinary folks.

      “As the campaign started growing we clearly got the attention of Wasserman Schultz and the Democratic Party establishment. We knew that from a number of things that she was doing on the ground that she was trying to impede us. Whenever I would go to a local union hall, for instance, or a local Democratic Party club to speak, quite often they would receive a call from the Wasserman Schultz camp trying to pressure them to not let me even speak. … [T]he state party had cut off our access to the [inaudible] voter database much like the DNC had done to Bernie Sanders.

    • Will Donald Trump’s Shake-Up Destroy the GOP?

      Shaken by the fact that he’s losing, Donald Trump has fled into the parallel universe of the extreme right—and apparently plans to stay there for the remainder of the campaign. Let’s see if the rest of the Republican Party is dumb enough to follow him.

      Trump has reportedly been feeling “boxed in” and “controlled” by the few people around him who actually know something about politics. Advice from these professionals to tone it down must be responsible for his slide in the polls, he seems to believe. So he has hired as chief executive of his campaign a man named Stephen Bannon, who will not only let Trump be Trump, but encourage him to be even Trumpier.

      Bannon runs Breitbart News, a website that creates its own ultranationalist far-right reality—one that often bears little resemblance to the world as it really is. As I write, the site is claiming that Hillary Clinton has some serious undisclosed health problem (her doctor says she is just fine), that one of Clinton’s aides has “very clear ties” to radical Islam (which is totally untrue) and that Clinton herself has “clear ties” to Russian President Vladimir Putin (when in fact it is Trump who often reveals his man-crush on the Russian leader).

    • Is the GOP Ready to Cut Trump off Financially?

      It’s make or break time for the Republican Party. Its ticket leader, GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump, is now so far behind Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton in the polls that no candidate in the last 16 elections has lagged at this point in the race and still won the White House in November. Does the party keep pushing for a win at the top, or does it regroup and focus down ballot in the hopes of keeping the Senate and House?

    • Clinton’s list of bundlers shorter than Obama’s, and she’s disclosing less

      Clinton has so far received at least $49.6 million from nearly 500 bundlers, or individual fundraisers who collect money from friends and acquaintances in order to deliver a candidate a “bundle” of checks. As for her opponent Donald Trump? There’s no way to tell, as he has not made any moves to release information on his campaign bundlers.

      Though federal campaign law requires the disclosure only of bundlers who are registered lobbyists, most White House candidates in recent elections have opted to share a fuller list of names. But in the last presidential election, Mitt Romney became the first major-party nominee since 2000 to keep his bundlers private, and so far, Trump has done the same.

      While Clinton has released a list, her campaign is disclosing less than previous Democratic candidates. In 2008 and 2012, bundlers were grouped in tiers — those who gathered between $50,000 and $100,000, between $100,000 and $200,000, between $200,000 and $500,000, and more than $500,000. Clinton has instead simply released the names of everyone who has bundled more than $100,000, with no specifics about amounts raised beyond that.

    • Voting Rights Victories Piling Up

      On November 4, 2014, seven Native Americans living on the Turtle Mountain reservation in North Dakota went to cast their ballots for the general election. All were turned away.

      They were U.S. citizens, longtime county residents, and had voted in North Dakota before. So what was the holdup?

      For Dorothy Herman, 75, it was an expired state ID.

      Herman, a 43-year resident of North Dakota who lives on retirement from her years as a teacher and her husband’s Social Security, had twice tried to renew her ID before Election Day. One day, she traveled 10 miles to the nearest licensing office only to find it closed during posted hours. On her second attempt, she was informed that her expired license was not proof enough of her identity—she also needed a birth certificate, a document that nearly a third of North Dakota Native Americans who need state ID cards to vote don’t have, according to one study. By the time she found it, returned to the office a third time, and paid $8 for her renewed ID card, she had missed the election.

    • Liberal Hate for the Green Party

      Liberals have joined Hillary Clinton’s “big nasty tent” in a very big way. They have moved far beyond the usual rationales for sticking with the Democrats and are now carrying on a full-fledged hate fest. Their targets are Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein and her running mate Ajamu Baraka, who is also a Black Agenda Report editor and columnist.

      The screeds have become more and more extreme and defy the run of the mill rationales that progressives use to justify remaining within Democratic Party lines. Holding one’s nose and voting for the “lesser evil” democrat is passé. So is fear of Republican judicial appointments. Concern for abortion rights doesn’t cut it anymore.

      Liberals are no longer going through the motions of criticizing the Democrat. Instead they openly show love for Hillary Clinton and disdainfully pile on Stein and Baraka with fury. The blog Wonkette called Jill Stein “cunty” and “a mendacious nihilist piece of shit.” The site Very Smart Brothas declared that a vote for Stein was akin to putting it in the trash. They also threw in a dig at Cornel West because he dared to criticize Barack Obama. The Huffington Post chose to deride Green Party convention delegates because they ate at McDonald’s. Gawker tried to link Ajamu Baraka to holocaust denial. His unassailable human rights credentials didn’t mean much when the media decided to go into attack mode.

      The list is long and will get longer between now and Election Day. The degree of antipathy is actually quite useful. It tells us why the Green Party is so important and why liberals are such a dangerous enemy.

    • Steve Bannon Is Trump’s New Anti-Establishment Attack Dog

      Bannon is close to Nigel Farage, the former head of the right-wing UK Independence Party, who offered “massive thanks” to Breitbart News for supporting the party’s successful campaign on behalf of Britain’s departure from the European Union. “Your UKIP team is just incredible,” Bannon told Farage during an interview after the June Brexit vote.

    • Are Donald Trump, Stephen Bannon, and Roger Ailes Cooking Up a Post-Election Media Empire? The Frightening Possibility of a Trump TV Network Combining the Extremism of Breitbart News and Fox News

      Before he became the chairman of Breitbart News, Stephen Bannon worked in the Mergers & Acquisitions Department at Goldman Sachs. For the past year, Bannon has merged Breitbart News with Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, hoping to acquire more and more influence as a frequent Trump advisor and, as of this week, as the campaign’s CEO.

      After Trump loses, don’t be surprised to see Bannon join forces with Trump and Roger Ailes (the former Fox News guru deposed for engaging in sexual harassment of employees who recently jumped aboard Trump’s sinking ship) to create a new right-wing media conglomerate — Trump TV or Trump Media — linking Breitbart News to a new cable network that will almost make Fox News look tame and responsible. Together, Trump, Ailes and Bannon would run their media empire to advance their common goals: gaining political influence, massaging their massive egos, moving the Republican Party further to the right, attacking Democrats and liberal ideas, and promoting a neo-fascist agenda combining xenophobia, racism, sexism, government-bashing, and anti-immigrant nativism.

    • Hillary’s Hubris: Only Tell the Rich for $5000 a Minute!

      There is a growing asymmetry between the media’s mounting demands for Donald Trump to release his tax returns (Hillary has done so) and their diminishing demands that Hillary Clinton release the secret transcripts of her $5000 per minute speeches before closed-door banking conferences and other business conventions.

      The Washington Post, an endorser of Clinton, in its August 18 issue devoted another round of surmising as to why Trump doesn’t want to release his tax returns—speculating that he isn’t as rich as he brags he is, that he pays little or no taxes, and that he gives little to charity. Other media outlets endorsing Hillary have been less than vociferous in demanding that she release what she told business leaders in these pay-to-play venues.

      When asked last year about her transcripts on Meet the Press, she said she would look into it. When the questions persisted in subsequent months, she said she would release the transcripts only if everybody else did. Bernie Sanders replied that he had no transcripts because he doesn’t give paid speeches to business audiences. Nonetheless she continues to be evasive.

    • Dem candidate’s dad chips in $1 million to Senate super-PAC

      Democratic Senate candidate Rep. Patrick Murphy (Fla.) is getting a major financial boost as his campaign heads into the final stretch, courtesy of a $1 million check from his father.
      Thomas Murphy, a Florida home builder, gave the seven-figure sum to the Harry Reid-linked Senate Majority PAC — the group’s largest donation in July, according to the Federal Election Commission.

      The congressman has long benefited from his father’s financial largesse; Thomas Murphy shelled out six-figure super-PAC contributions to help him win his Florida congressional seat in 2012.

      On July 15, two days after the $1 million check landed in the Senate Majority PAC account, the super-PAC announced to the Washington Post its plans to launch a $1 million ad buy in Florida.

      The reported aim was to help Murphy win his primary on Aug. 30 against liberal challenger Rep. Alan Grayson, who is openly opposed by Democratic leadership.

    • The Half-Life of Deindustrialization: Why Donald Trump Is Just A Symptom

      Every four years, the white working class gets a fresh round of attention from candidates and the media. At campaign stops in Rust Belt cities, candidates promise to fix the economy, while pundits yet again claim that white working-class voters are the key to election victory. The pattern is being repeated this year, but this time, both the news media and social media seem especially baffled by the attitudes and behavior of working-class voters.

      As a number of commentators have noted, the roots of this year’s populism lie in deindustrialization, though some seem baffled that white working-class people are still troubled by either NAFTA, which went into effect in 1994, or the loss of industrial jobs, which peaked in the early 1980s. In a recent New York Times column, David Brooks suggested that working-class people should not be so strongly affected by the economic hardship of deindustrialization. After all, he suggested, it’s not as if life in a coal town was ever easy. What he and others don’t realize is that deindustrialization was never only about economics. Its economic, social and psychological effects continue for decades after plants closed and across generations, affecting the worldviews of younger people who never worked in steel mills or auto plants. Like radioactive waste, deindustrialization has a half-life.

    • Independent Women’s Forum and Independent Women’s Voice Use “Independent” Brand to Push Right-Wing Agenda to Women Voters

      The Independent Women’s Forum and its 501(c)(4) affiliate, the Independent Women’s Voice, market themselves to the media and voters as “non-partisan,” “independent,” and “neutral.”

      However, a new investigation of the groups by the Center for Media and Democracy (CMD) reveals them to be anything but that. Joan Walsh in the Nation broke this story today along with other new details about these not-so independent women’s groups.

      CMD’s Reporters’ Guide exposes the groups’ leaders admitting to—and boasting about—their true role for what it is: finding ways to sell right-wing policies and candidates favored by their funders to reach independent women voters under the guise of neutrality.

    • Hillary Goes With the Flow

      One of Team Hillary’s lines is that a vote for her is a vote for President Obama’s “legacy.” It is; for his legacy as a protector and enabler of an overripe capitalist system and the economic predators and earth despoilers it raises to the top.

      There aren’t very many at the top of the heap; enthusiastic sloganeers sometimes peg the number as low as a fraction of one percent. But, under Obama, as under all his predecessors since the economy took a neoliberal turn, they have been making out like the bandits they are, while everyone else has had to struggle, often in vain, not to fall behind. Count on Hillary to keep that going.

    • Hillary and the War Party

      You haven’t heard much from the Democrats lately about foreign policy or global agendas – indeed virtually nothing at the Philadelphia convention and little worthy of mention along the campaign trail. Hillary Clinton’s many liberal (and sadly, progressive) supporters routinely steer away from anything related to foreign policy, talk, talk, talking instead about the candidate’s “experience”, with obligatory nods toward her enlightened social programs. There is only the ritual demonization of that fearsome dictator, Vladimir Putin, reputedly on the verge of invading some hapless European country. Even Bernie Sanders’ sorry endorsement of his erstwhile enemy, not long ago denounced as a tool of Wall Street, had nothing to say about global issues. But no one should be fooled: a Clinton presidency, which seems more likely by the day, can be expected to stoke a resurgent U.S. imperialism, bringing new cycles of militarism and war. The silence is illusory: Clintonites, now as before, are truly obsessed with international politics.

    • Jill Stein on BDS and Israel
    • A Cheap Shot at Bernie Sanders’ Summer Home

      Charles Lane and other Washington Post editorialists defend neocon and neoliberal orthodoxies by demonizing foreign leaders who step out of line and now by making fun of Bernie Sanders for buying a summer home, writes Robert Parry.

    • Donald Trump Casts Himself as Mr. Brexit, Mistaking Depth of Anti-Immigrant Sentiment in U.S.

      As John Lanchester noted in the London Review of Books, the campaign appealed primarily to white working class voters who, with good reason, felt left behind by the increasingly globalized economy, and vented their anger at migrant workers. Trump’s anti-immigrant campaign has been structured like this from the beginning, and he clearly hopes for a similar result.

      What that argument overlooks, however, are quite different demographics — and the crucial difference between attitudes about immigration in the two countries.

      As a Pew Research Center survey published in July showed, residents of the U.K. were closely divided on the question of whether “having an increasing number of people of many different races, ethnic groups and nationalities in our country” made Britain a better or worse place to live — with 33 percent saying “better” and 31 percent saying “worse”. By contrast, a majority of Americans, 58 percent, said “better,” and just 7 percent said “worse.”

    • Column: It’s time for black people to break the two-party system

      White supporters of Hillary Clinton are concerned with the rise of neo-­fascism, of what a Trump presidency would mean for the fragile economic sector, foreign policy, immigration and social progress. For Trump supporters, a world of black and brown people pouring through American borders is a dastardly reality that must ultimately be confronted and curbed through racist, ideological litmus tests for incoming immigrants, draconian and impractical measures against the undocumented and isolationist economic policies that are sure to disrupt our precarious economy.

    • Green Party candidate Jill Stein calls for climate state of emergency

      Presidential hopeful points to California wildfires and Louisiana flooding in push for Green New Deal to address both environment and economy

    • More than half of Clinton Foundation’s major donors would be barred under new rule

      More than half of the Clinton Foundation’s major donors would be prevented from contributing to the charity under the self-imposed ban on corporate and foreign donors the foundation said this week it would adopt if Hillary Clinton won the White House, according to a new Washington Post analysis of foundation donations.

      The findings underscore the extent to which the Clintons’ sprawling global charity has come to rely on financial support from industries and overseas interests, a point that has drawn criticism from Republicans and some liberals who have said the donations represent conflicts of interest for a potential president.

    • Who Is Your Choice for President? [Ed: with over 1000 votes, Jill Stein at 80%]

      Donald Trump’s campaign went through some big changes during the week, and Hillary Clinton faced criticism for some of her own staffing choices. Third-party candidates Jill Stein and Gary Johnson ramped up their media presence. And some of the biggest challenges to politicians stemmed from environmental disasters, as flooding in Louisiana and wildfires in Southern California led to renewed attention on the impact of climate change.

    • Let Gary Johnson, Jill Stein enter presidential debates

      On its website, the Commission on Presidential Debates states that it was established “to ensure that debates “provide the best possible information to viewers and listeners.”

    • Hey Bernie Sanders, You Should Vote For Jill Stein

      I heard about you and Jane buying a new home on the beach and I couldn’t stop smiling, thinking about you out there chillin, grandkids running around, toes in the sand, drinking a Heady Topper or two, or three, or four, reflecting over the past year and a half.

      Even though I dedicated my entire life to getting you elected, there was always this small part of me that wanted you to just go home and relax.

    • Maryland Green Party Forum 2016

      Candidates discuss clean energy policy, challenging corporate power, and improving investment in Baltimore City

    • Jill Stein Makes History as First Green Party Candidate to Hold Town Hall on Prime-Time TV (Video)

      Green Party presidential nominee Jill Stein and her running mate, Ajamu Baraka, addressed voters on CNN on Wednesday night in an hour-long town hall meeting in which they outlined their “Green New Deal.” Stein also told the public she would “have trouble sleeping at night if either Trump or Clinton is elected” and reiterated her goal to build on Bernie Sanders’ “political revolution.”

    • Hillary Clinton’s Choice of Ken Salazar Comes Under Fire (Video)

      Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez of “Democracy Now!” dive deeper into Salazar’s politics in an interview with David Sirota, senior editor for investigations at International Business Times. Sirota explains that the beliefs of those working on Clinton’s transition team are “very important to understanding what may be coming in a Clinton administration policywise and whether those policies in a Clinton administration will reflect the policy promises from Hillary Clinton on the campaign trail.”

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • How to turn on Twitter’s quality filters and silence trolls

      Twitter has finally come up with a solution to muzzle trolls.

      The company published a blog post on Thursday announcing two new controls for filtering your notifications. Twitter notifications are the primary method through which trolls can contact and harass users.

      The first new setting reduces the noise in your notifications stream. By default, anyone who mentions your Twitter username with the “@” symbol shows up in your Twitter notifications. It doesn’t matter if they’re asking a simple question, offering constructive criticism, or threatening to cut your head off. Everyone shows up.

    • Hey Sexters, Here’s a Very Good Reason to Care About Porn Laws

      Most of us tend to think of pornographers, and porn law, as being about one very specific set of people: namely, those who make a living recording people fucking and selling or freely distributing the resulting photos and video. But in the eyes of the law, it’s not quite that simple.

      As technology has made it easier for anyone to create and distribute dirty pictures and videos, it’s become harder to see where the pornographers end and the rest of us pervs begin—and that could mean that the aggressive laws designed to crack down on “evil” pornographers could potentially spill over into the lives of ordinary citizens.

      Take, for instance, 18 U.S.C. § 2257 and § 2257A, the federal statutes that govern adult industry record keeping and reporting. Ostensibly designed to prevent the distribution of child porn, these regulations—which are much more about maintaining proper paperwork than they are about not exploiting minors—aren’t just for people who actually create porn. They also outline strict regulations for anyone who distributes sexual media to the masses, no matter how far that person is from the actual creation of the original media.

    • British man imprisoned in Dubai over Facebook post raising money for refugees in Afghanistan

      A British man has been imprisoned for almost a month in Dubai over a Facebook post raising money for refugees in Afghanistan.

      Scott Richards unwittingly fell foul of the United Arab Emirates’ “bizarre” laws banning the operation of any charity not registered in the country.

      Police said the 42-year-old, who holds dual British and Australian citizenship, was arrested after using social media to promote a US-based crowd funding campaign.

      The offending link was to a Go Fund Me page raising money to buy blankets for families at the Chahari Qambar refugee camp near Kabul, where children froze to death in 2012.

    • Gawker’s Flagship Site Will Shut Down After Univision Deal

      Gawker.com is shutting down, marking the final chapter for a pioneer in online media and one of the most controversial publishers on the web.

      Nick Denton, the founder of Gawker Media, told the site’s staff that it will end operations next week, according to a post on its website. Gawker.com’s archives will still be available, Denton said in a memo to employees.

      Earlier this week Univision Holdings Inc. made the winning $135 million bid to acquire Gawker Media, which also published the sports website Deadspin, the women’s site Jezebel, the tech site Gizmodo and others. The company was driven into bankruptcy in June after losing an invasion-of-privacy lawsuit to Hulk Hogan. Univision is expected to use Gawker’s other websites to bolster its growing digital footprint, which includes the websites the Root, the Onion and A.V. Club.

      In his memo Thursday, Denton confirmed that he won’t be working for Univision and instead will “move on to other projects, working to make the web a forum for the open exchange of ideas and information, but out of the news and gossip business.”

    • China Censorship Orders Media Not to Report on “Miseries” of Olympic Athletes

      Chinese censor organs have ordered its media to stop reporting news related to problems and failures of Chinese athletes during their participation in the ongoing Rio Olympic Games, and focus more on their patriotism.

      “Do not report on the miseries of Olympic athletes; report more on (their) patriotic spirit,” said a directive sent to the country’s media and published online by the “Ministry of Truth” dedicated to leaking these almost secret orders of Chinese censorship.

      The order was leaked recently as China delivers its worst Olympic performance and coupled with the emergence of local athletes with strong personalities such as the swimmer Fu Yuanhui, which has changed the direction of the Chinese press, focusing more on the human side of athletes than their glory.

    • Why Palestine Matters, Even on the Pitch

      It is not Israel’s Jewish character that is the issue, as those who attempt to delegitimise the Palestinian struggle and those who support it continually maintain. It is Israel’s apartheid character that is the issue, and where better to demonstrate resistance to apartheid than in a packed football stadium alongside thousands of others.

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Care.data is dead – long live care.data?
    • Security companies scramble following leak of NSA toolkit
    • NSA leaked files, confirm new documents
    • The NSA was hacked, confirmed by the Snowden Documents
    • Edward Snowden archive prove malware & exploits dumped on public internet on Monday originated from NSA
    • Russian hacks against the Democrats and the NSA expose the weaknesses of our democracy [Ed: The ToryGraph blames Russia for TWO things WITHOUT evidence: DNC leaks and NSA crack]
    • Yup! The NSA Got Hacked
    • The NSA was hacked- so is unfettered government surveillance a good thing?

      Many of those skeptical of Snowden-esque critiques of the surveillance state rely on an argument: “If you don’t have anything to hide, there is no reason to be concerned.” But now that the NSA itself has been hacked, it means the tools to breach your own identity— your bank accounts, credit cards, medical records— are out there. Snowden’s warnings have been found to be the height of prudence.

    • The cyber war that’s breaking out between the US and Russia
    • The NSA Hack Shows Why the U.S. Government Shouldn’t Stockpile Software Vulnerabilities

      Earlier this week, top secret code written by one of the NSA’s most clandestine branches was released on the internet. Among other things, it contains a cache of technologically sophisticated hacking tools.

    • Snowden Docs Support Claim NSA Cyberweapons Stolen, Report Says
    • Cisco Firewall Products Targeted by NSA Hacking Tools

      Cisco this week acknowledged that some of its firewall appliance products are being targeted by purportedly leaked U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) hacking tools.

    • Should feds worry about the NSA leak?
    • After the NSA Hack: Cybersecurity in an Even More Vulnerable World
    • Quartz
    • Snowden Documents Confirm The NSA Hack Is Real
    • Australia in top three vulnerable to Cisco firewall attack
    • Snowden documents confirm that leaked hacking tools belong to NSA
    • NSA Vulnerabilities Trove Reveals ‘Mini-Heartbleed’ For Cisco PIX Firewalls
    • New Snowden docs support claim of NSA cyberweapon hack
    • New Snowden documents prove the hacked NSA files are real

      Edward Snowden Former US National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden appears live by video during a student-organized world-affairs conference at the Upper Canada College private high school in Toronto on February 2, 2015.

    • Hack of NSA ‘cyber weapons’ verified by Snowden docs – report
    • Snowden documents show NSA leak is real
    • New Snowden docs suggest Shadow Broker leak was real
    • The latest NSA leak shows why it’s so hard to trust even tech designed to keep computers safe

      Leaked National Security Agency hacking tools are exposing how even the technology designed to safeguard our computer networks can put users at risk — and how poor security practices like clinging to old equipment can make things worse.

    • ‘Auction’ of NSA Tools Sends Security Companies Scrambling

      The leak of what purports to be a National Security Agency hacking tool kit has set the information security world atwitter — and sent major companies rushing to update their defenses.

      Experts across the world are still examining what amount to electronic lock picks. Here’s what they’ve found so far.

    • Snowden documents show NSA leak is real: report

      Such access would enable the NSA to plant malware in rivals’ systems and monitor – or even attack – their networks.

    • NSA cybersecurity hack – this is what happened

      Shadow Brokers posted online some examples of the data it said it had stolen, including scripts and instructions for breaking through firewall protection.

    • Cyber espionage: A new cold war?

      This is a tale of spies, a $500m cyber arms heist, accusations of an attempt to manipulate a US presidential election and an increasingly menacing digital war being waged between Russia and the west.

    • NSA Hacked, Cyber Weapon Toolkit Theft Confirmed By Snowden Docs
    • US hacked NTC to spy on Pakistan military, political leadership: Snowden documents
    • NSA spied on Pakistani civil-military leadership
    • US spied on Pakistan through hacking tools
    • US hacked NTC to spy on Pakistan military, political leadership: Snowden documents

      The United States hacked into targets in the Pakistan’s National Telecommunications Corporation (NTC) to spy on the country’s political and military leadership, documents released by former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden confirm.

      According to a report by online news site The Intercept, the previously unpublished documents released by Snowden confirm that some of the NSA’s top-secret code has been leaked or hacked.

      The Intercept’s editors include journalists that worked with Snowden to publicise his notorious 2013 NSA leak revealing the extent of government snooping on private data.

    • US spied on Pakistan’s leaderships: Snowden

      United States spied on the political and military leaderships of Pakistan and also hacked their data, according to the documents released by dissent whistleblower Edward Snowden. This was reported by Aaj News in its headline stories here on Saturday.

      The files Snowden took from the agency in 2013 say a top-secret NSA manual contains the same 16-character alphanumeric tracking code that appears throughout a portion of code released online earlier this week by a group called The ShadowBrokers. The group was auctioning off the code, which it said was stolen from the NSA. The relevant code was reportedly part of a program dubbed SECONDDATE that was used to spy on Pakistan and Lebanon.

    • Industry pros react to Cisco, Fortinet advisories after possible Snowden NSA leak

      Ridley agreed, noting that he expects the actionable takeaway of the leaked exploits will be technical. He told SCMagazine.com that security pros “need to start architecting networks to assume both devices and endpoints are compromised, and minimize the lateral movement to minimize damage.”

    • Evidence Links Leaked Hacking Tools to the NSA

      “NSA malware staging servers getting hacked by a rival is not new,” he wrote in a tweet, referring to private servers that are occasionally controlled by NSA agents, but not owned by the agency itself.

    • Equation Group’s BENIGNCERTAIN tool – a remote exploit to extract Cisco VPN private keys

      In the Equation Group dump that contained NSA hacking tools, there was an overlooked tool called BENIGNCERTAIN.

      Analysis of the tool shows that it appears to be a remote exploit for Cisco PIX devices that sends an Internet Key Exchange (IKE) packet to the victim machine, causing it to dump some of its memory. The memory dump can then be parsed to extract an RSA private key and other sensitive configuration information.

      The tool references Cisco PIX versions 5.2(9) to 6.3(4), which was released in 2004. It is also worth noting that the Cisco PIX line of products are at their end-of-life.

      The exploit consists of three binaries, each consisting of an individual step in the exploitation process.

      The first step is executing bc-genpkt, which generates an IKE packet of arbitrary size and fills some of it with arbitrary data.

    • NSA Hackers, Hacked

      Whatever the true identity and motives of the Shadow Brokers, there are some clear policy lessons to take away from this. The first concerns the “Vulnerability Equities Process“—which is how the American intelligence community decides whether and how long to hang on to software vulnerabilities they discover before notifying developers so that these cybersecurity holes can be patched. Back in 2014, federal cybersecurity coordinator Michael Daniel insisted in a post on the White House blog that the process is strongly weighted in favor of disclosure. The government, he assured the public, understands that “[b]uilding up a huge stockpile of undisclosed vulnerabilities while leaving the Internet vulnerable and the American people unprotected would not be in our national security interest.”

    • NSA leak rattles cybersecurity industry

      By exposing the custom-made malware online, the Shadow Brokers have suddenly made many of the systems American corporations rely on for cybersecurity more vulnerable to digital attacks from criminals and spies.

    • After Shadow Brokers, should the NSA still be hoarding vulnerabilities?

      This weekend’s Shadow Brokers leak dropped 300MB of stolen data onto the open web, including live exploits for some of the web’s most crucial network infrastructure, apparently stolen from the NSA in 2013. But while experts are still sorting out who stole the data and how, the new exploits have also left companies like Cisco, Fortinet, and Juniper scrambling to fix the newly published attacks against their systems. Suddenly, there was a new way into products that had been considered secure for years — and anyone who downloaded the data knew exactly how to get in.

    • In wake of NSA leaks, a call for transparency in cyber arms

      A leak of sensitive computer code is spurring calls for the government to be more transparent about its handling of a secret stockpile of network intrusion tactics.

      The leaked code, believed to be written by an NSA operation, contained new techniques to hack widely used hardware from Cisco, Fortinet and Juniper Networks.

      The leaks left countless computer networks vulnerable to hackers — something security professionals and government officials alike acknowledge is a risk of stockpiling these kinds of techniques.

      The government has a program in place to minimize that risk, called the Vulnerability Equities Process (VEP), which requires agencies to justify keeping a security vulnerability and report all other vulnerabilities to manufacturers so they can be repaired. While the VEP receives praise from civil libertarians as a considerable step up from countries making no similar effort, many are seizing on the NSA leaks to push for changes to the program.

      “One of the better things the Obama administration did was to create a presumption of disclosure,” said Gabe Rottman, deputy director of the Freedom, Security and Technology Project at the Center for Democracy and technology. “But being more open on the policy would be a good start.”

      The administration has revealed very little about the inner workings of the VEP. A White House board makes the ultimate decision of which vulnerabilities are kept by weighing investigative necessity against the harm that would be caused by the vulnerability going unfixed.

    • Snowden documents ‘show NSA leak is real’
    • Cisco wants to be a software company? Why customers should look beyond the hype [iophk: “it doesn’t matter, Cisco will be gone because of SDN, they are unlikely to recover from the NSA backdoor incidents”]

      Five years ago Forbes published an article called Now Every Company is a Software Company. The magazine wasn’t the first to notice this phenomenon and it certainly wasn’t the last but it did neatly articulate a view that has grown louder with each passing year since the era of the dot.com boom when the notion first gained currency.

    • 98 personal data points that Facebook uses to target ads to you

      Say you’re scrolling through your Facebook Newsfeed and you encounter an ad so eerily well-suited, it seems someone has possibly read your brain.

      Maybe your mother’s birthday is coming up, and Facebook’s showing ads for her local florist. Or maybe you just made a joke aloud about wanting a Jeep, and Instagram’s promoting Chrysler dealerships.

      Whatever the subject, you’ve seen ads like this. You’ve wondered — maybe worried — how they found their way to you.

      Facebook, in its omniscience, knows that you’re wondering — and it would like to reassure you. The social network just revamped its ad preference settings to make them significantly easier for users to understand. They’ve also launched a new ad education portal, which explains, in general terms, how Facebook targets ads.

    • Australia v New Zealand: All Blacks hotel room in Sydney ‘bugged’

      New Zealand Rugby says a Sydney hotel room where the All Blacks held meetings was bugged before their first Bledisloe Cup match against Australia.

      The New Zealand Herald reported that a “sophisticated” listening device found on Monday had been hidden in a chair.

      The All Blacks beat Australia’s Wallabies 42-8 on Saturday.

      The CEO of New Zealand Rugby, Steve Tew, said in a statement that Australian police and the Australian Rugby Union (ARU) had been informed.

      Saturday’s game is the first of three in the annual Bledisloe Cup between Australia and New Zealand – which the All Blacks have not lost in 13 years.

      Tew said: “We are taking this issue very seriously, and given it will be a police matter, it would not be prudent to go into further details.”

      The New South Wales Police Force said in a statement that they had become aware of the allegation on Saturday, and had attended a hotel in Double Bay, an area of Sydney.

    • NSA Hacked – Keys to the Kingdom Stolen

      The biggest story in the news right now isn’t Donald Trump. The biggest story is the NSA was hacked and the “Keys to the Kingdom” were stolen. Someone managed to get hold of the NSA’s hacking tools used by their Tailored Access Operation unit. (TAO) What this means is that leterally everything that civilization depends on is now exposed.

      These tools exploit flaws in the operating systems of the computers and routers that make the internet work. The NSA keeps these flaws secret rather that informing companies like CISCO and Juniper of the flaw and give them the opportunity to fix them. The NSA has put their need to spy above the security of the world. And now the unthinkable has happened. Hackers have the power of the NSA and they could bring down civilization. Think of it as Y2K on steroids.

    • How the NSA snooped on encrypted Internet traffic for a decade

      In a revelation that shows how the National Security Agency was able to systematically spy on many Cisco Systems customers for the better part of a decade, researchers have uncovered an attack that remotely extracts decryption keys from the company’s now-decommissioned line of PIX firewalls.

      The discovery is significant because the attack code, dubbed BenignCertain, worked on PIX versions Cisco released in 2002 and supported through 2009. Even after Cisco stopped providing PIX bug fixes in July 2009, the company continued offering limited service and support for the product for an additional four years. Unless PIX customers took special precautions, virtually all of them were vulnerable to attacks that surreptitiously eavesdropped on their VPN traffic. Beyond allowing attackers to snoop on encrypted VPN traffic, the key extraction also makes it possible to gain full access to a vulnerable network by posing as a remote user.

      BenignCertain’s capabilities were tentatively revealed in this blog post from Thursday, and they were later confirmed to work on real-world PIX installations by three separate researchers. Before the confirmation came, Ars asked Cisco to investigate the exploit. The company declined, citing this policy for so-called end-of-life products. The exploit helps explain documents leaked by NSA contractor Edward Snowden and cited in a 2014 article that appeared in Der Spiegel. The article reported that the NSA had the ability to decrypt more than 1,000 VPN connections per hour.

    • FCC won’t back down on broadband users’ privacy

      There will be no lame-duck period for Tom Wheeler. The FCC chairman vowed this week to push ahead in the last months of 2016 to complete an ambitious agenda to reshape the rules governing broadband and “put a referee on the field to throw the flag on any future unjust or unreasonable activity.”

    • Google Glass strikes back

      The single most innovative wearable of all time has to be Google Glass.

      Yeah, I said it. And it’s true.

      If you read the tech blogs, you’d be forgiven for believing that Google Glass is a failed product, dead and gone. But in fact, the opposite is true.

      The Google Glass Explorer program succeeded wildly. Google is feverishly working on new kinds of Google Glass products, and the innovation around Google Glass never stopped.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Turkish airport advert warns travellers about Sweden rape danger

      A billboard displayed this week in Istanbul’s main airport warned travellers against visiting Sweden, describing it as having the highest rate of rape in the world, the latest salvo between EU-candidate Turkey and its European allies.

      Ties between Ankara and Europe have worsened since last month’s failed coup, with Turkey accusing its Western allies of insensitivity, saying they were more concerned about a subsequent crackdown than the coup itself.

    • Meet the robots that will help us win the wars of the future

      If former Marine and entrepreneur Sean Bielat has his way, the law enforcement officer tentatively approaching a vehicle in the future after making a traffic stop won’t be an officer at all. Rather, those are the kind of interactions — fraught with uncertainty, potentially dangerous — that seem to him to make perfect sense for one of his robots to deal with instead.

      [...]

      Among other things, Endeavor says that new system will increase the operational range of its robots in urban areas and other “radio-challenged” environments. Longer term company targets include things like getting the price of robot units down so clients like cash-strapped police departments can more easily afford them.

    • How Do Today’s Struggles for Justice Differ From Those of the 1930s?

      In the 1930s capitalism faced a very deep crisis, and the strategy for dealing with it was more or less one of two ways: either fascism, or the kind of social democracy of the New Deal, compromise with the domestic working class. The United States chose, on the whole, the new deal. Roosevelt, to a large extent, excluding Britain, which came very close to choosing fascism, didn’t. But certainly Europe did choose fascism. But many economists think not that far from another bout of quite deep crises. ‘07-‘08 was, many people say, a tip of the iceberg. And I think many people are getting ready for the next round that might be far more deep and more profound.

      You have the rise of a kind of neofascism in the United States that we once saw in many places in the world in the 1930s, and see again now in Europe in various forms. But on the other side, Hillary Clinton ain’t no Roosevelt. She’s not a proponent of the New Deal. The closest one could get to that was Bernie Sanders, and that clearly was crushed, that campaign, by the people that control the machinery of the Democratic Party. So what does that mean for people of the United States, and the choices they will make, and what might face them in the coming days?

    • Justice Dept. Announces Initiative to End Use of For-Profit Prisons
    • What You Need to Know About the DOJ’s Claim It Is Ending Private Prisons

      The U.S. Justice Department issued a memo, first reported Thursday by Matt Zapotosky and Chico Harlan of the Washington Post, in which the federal agency claims that it will end the use of private prisons.

      “I am eager to enlist your help in beginning the process of reducing—and ultimately ending—our use of privately operated prisons,” wrote Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates. “As you know, all of the Bureau’s existing contracts with private prison companies are term-limited and subject to renewal or termination. I am directing that, as each contract reaches the end of its term, the Bureau should either decline to renew that contract or substantially reduce its scope in a manner consistent with law and the overall decline of the Bureau’s inmate population.”s

    • Feds End Use of Private Prisons, but Questions Remain
    • DOJ Ending Use of Private Prisons: Will Decarceration Follow?

      Truthout’s Maya Schenwar says the announcement won’t affect federal immigration detention centers or state prisons

    • Private Prisons Are Far From Ended: 62 Percent of Immigrant Detainees Are in Privatized Jails

      The US Department of Justice’s decision to no longer use private prisons for its federal prisoners is a groundbreaking first step, but the August 18 announcement doesn’t spell the end to private prisons: Private prison corporations will continue to control 46 immigration detention centers that detain nearly 25,000 people (or 62 percent of the country’s 33,676 immigrant detainees) on any given day.

      It is perhaps telling that in the hours after the announcement made headlines yesterday, stock prices for both Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) and GEO Group, two of the country’s largest private prison corporations, dropped 40 percent, but by today they had started to climb again.

    • The DoJ is right to ditch private prisons. But it won’t do much in practice

      Just a week after a scathing report decrying the condition of private prisons in the US, the Department of Justice announced on Thursday that it would phase out their federal use by not renewing contracts for companies like GEO Group, Management of Training Corporation, and Correctional Corporations of America (CCA).

    • Sanders and Activists Say DOJ Ban on Private Prisons Doesn’t Go Far Enough
    • Sanders Applauds Decision to End Federal Use of Private Prisons
    • DOJ to End Use of Private Prisons: CCR Says DHS and ICE Must Do the Same
    • Admitting Failed Experiment, DOJ to Phase Out Private Prisons
    • Justice Department says it will end use of private prisons

      The Justice Department plans to end its use of private prisons after officials concluded the facilities are both less safe and less effective at providing correctional services than those run by the government.

      Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates announced the decision on Thursday in a memo that instructs officials to either decline to renew the contracts for private prison operators when they expire or “substantially reduce” the contracts’ scope. The goal, Yates wrote, is “reducing — and ultimately ending — our use of privately operated prisons.”

      “They simply do not provide the same level of correctional services, programs, and resources; they do not save substantially on costs; and as noted in a recent report by the Department’s Office of Inspector General, they do not maintain the same level of safety and security,” Yates wrote.

    • Why Is the Obama Administration Keeping Toddlers Behind Bars?

      Twenty-two mothers who have been interned with their children for up to a year in a for-profit immigration detention facility entered the ninth day of a hunger strike on Wednesday. Neither the mothers nor their children have committed any crimes, nor have they been charged with any. They have no idea when they will be released. Advocates and attorneys representing the women tell The Nation that their children are suffering, they feel that they’ve been lost in the system and their desire for freedom has become desperate.

    • Photos and Hunger Strikes Expose More Abuses in Migrant Detention

      Central American women holding a hunger strike at the Berks County Family Detention Center in rural Pennsylvania implored President Barack Obama to “set aside [his] vacation for 10 minutes and look at how we’re suffering locked up in here” on Wednesday, as they continued their second week of striking.

      The women, who are also mothers, said they will continue striking until they receive some word on their asylum petitions. Activists with the grassroots group Make the Road Pennsylvania, who spent several months protesting outside the facility in solidarity, have taken their action to Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts, where Obama is on break with his family.

    • Detained Undocumented Mothers Launch Hunger Strike, Vow to Leave ‘Alive or Dead’

      Dozens of undocumented women being held with their children at the Berks County Residential Center in Pennsylvania are on a hunger strike that they say will culminate in their leaving the facility “alive or dead.” The mothers are essentially being held prisoner under an Obama administration plan to detain undocumented families while their papers for asylum are being processed. Their children range in age from 2 to 16.

      A Philadelphia-based grass-roots organization called Juntos has been working to shut down Berks for nearly two years. It should not be such a difficult task, given that the facility is violating policy on many fronts. In an interview, Juntos Executive Director Erika Almiron told me that Berks was licensed as a “child residential facility” rather than a “detention center,” and that there is “no license that they can get in the state of Pennsylvania to fit what they want to do.” The detention center’s license expired in February, and Juntos and its allies pressured the Department of Human Services (akin to a child welfare department) to refuse renewal. But Berks County commissioners inexplicably appealed the decision. While the appeal is in process, the facility continues to operate and keep the women and children as prisoners.

      Meanwhile, the entire program of imprisoning immigrant families is under question. A year ago, a federal judge in California, Dolly Gee, found the practice in violation of the settlement of a class action lawsuit 18 years ago, known as the Flores agreement, and ordered the release of families. Yet the thousands of women and children being held at three facilities, including Berks (the other two are in Texas), continues. But at a press event earlier this month, U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson defended the ongoing detention in spite of Gee’s ruling, saying, “I think that we need to continue the practice so that we’re not just engaging in catch and release.”

    • The Justice Department Is Done With Private Prisons. Will ICE Drop Them Too?

      The Justice Department’s announcement on Thursday that it would seek to end the use of private contractors to run its federal prisons was a monumental one that quickly sent private prison stocks plunging and drew praise from dozens of human and civil rights groups that for years had been denouncing abuse and neglect in private facilities.

      In a memo explaining the decision, Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates wrote that private prisons “simply do not provide the same level of correctional services, programs, and resources,” “do not save substantially on costs,” and “do not maintain the same level of safety and security” as facilities operated by the Bureau of Prisons.

      But as the criminal justice community began to take stock of the news, many also expressed hopes that the DOJ would not be the only government agency to cut ties with the private companies, which also operate state prisons and immigration detention centers.

    • ‘They Are Incentivized to Arrest People Because It Raises Money’

      When Newt Gingrich comes out for criminal justice reform, you are right to look under the hood, to question just how deep this popular reform is intended to go. Any improvements that help real people are to be wished for, but policing and prisons are systems with deep and far-reaching roots in US life. We ought to have questions about reform that comes without an honest reckoning with the fact that some of what we call problems in the criminal justice system are not so much bugs as features.

    • The Justice Department’s Call to Axe Private-Prison Contracts Is A Victory. ICE Must Now Do the Same to End Federal Prison Profiteering.

      In a bluntly-worded memo issued yesterday, the U.S. Department of Justice directed the Federal Bureau of Prisons to begin phasing out all of its contracts with private prisons.

      Private prisons, the memo stated, “compare poorly” to federally run prisons. They “simply do not provide the same level of correctional services, programs, and resources; they do not save substantially on costs; and . . . they do not maintain the same level of safety and security.” The memo then describes how the Bureau of Prisons will reduce and ultimately end its reliance on private prisons.

    • Two visions of politics in Turkey: authoritarian and revolutionary

      Late last December, upon returning from a trip to Saudi Arabia, Turkish President Erdogan was asked by Turkish reporters whether an executive presidential system was possible while maintaining “the unitary structure of the state”. He responded, “There are already examples in the world. You can see it when you look at Hitler’s Germany.” Following a failed coup d’etat attempt this July, as Erdogan started excluding and imprisoning political rivals, laying the groundwork for authoritarian control, some critics have begun taking the comparison more seriously.

    • Solitary for Suicide Attempts: The Brutal Punishment of Chelsea Manning

      On August 10, Army Secretary Eric Fanning received a petition with 115,000 signatures, part of an ongoing effort by activists to ensure Chelsea Manning’s additional suicide-related charges are dropped. Although public pressure has mounted, there has been no sign that the charges will be dropped any time soon.

      Manning’s case has been fraught with government abuses of power, ranging from 1,000 days of detention without trial to denial of medical resources when dealing with gender dysphoria. Now, after a suicide attempt, Manning is facing potential conviction that would force her back into solitary confinement. This horribly inhumane treatment is used for many prisoners, particularly those seen as threatening to the state. But Manning hasn’t just been punished because of her charges; she has been denied basic resources necessary for dealing with the complexity of both gender dysphoria and the mental ramifications of solitary confinement.

    • Owning Milwaukee’s Tragedy

      Race and ethnicity 2010: Milwaukee by Eric Fischer. Map based on Census 2010 data. Red is White, Blue is Black, Green is Asian, Orange is Hispanic, Yellow is Other, and each dot is 25 residents.

      In a nation that clings to the notion that we live in a shining city upon a hill, the shooting death of Sylville Smith on a Milwaukee street, the fiery response by the black community, the scorching rhetoric from the press and the sheriff, the heated replies by everybody with a computer are all unsettling our basic sense of ourselves.

      Milwaukee is Baltimore is Ferguson is Los Angeles is Detroit.

    • “I Was Like, Whatever…”: On Lochte Abroad and Idiocy at Home

      This is the current American quote that sums up where it’s all come to. The degradation of culture, the hip anti-intellectual posture, the hollow reality shows, the prevailing mean smugness and the flat screen mesmerizing of the American tribe has brought us to, “I was like, whatever.”

      This is the quote of a famous American with oddly colored hair. He claims this was his response to a man pointing a gun at his head and telling him to get on the ground.

      The first part – “I was like…” The linguistic Zika virus – “like.” Not “I was” or “I am” or “I shall be.” No. “I was like,” meaning an approximation of reality. This is the current subconscious cover for the dread of a real feeling—or real moment—or the real story.

      I suppose this hapless, entitled fellow with the bright dimpled smile thought he’d get some mileage out of a war story. And when you live in a pool of approximation anchored to the word “Like” maybe it doesn’t seem so wrong. He may have played a flat screen version of this story in his head and then he downloaded it into the ear of a reporter named Bush, which adds another wrinkle to the event of an international, malicious, scandalous fib.

      [...]

      Both rising out of the same cauldron of deception, anti-intellectualism, entitlement and fantasy. Both ducking genuine narratives – both weaving phantasms in which each is victim and hero. Both, when on the verge of being busted cuts to: “No – no – this is what happened – I’ll tell you what happened.” Lie – word salad – Lie – then the quote that says it all, because it says nothing. “I was like, whatever.”

    • The Illusion of Freedom

      The seizure of political and economic power by corporations is unassailable. Who funds and manages our elections? Who writes our legislation and laws? Who determines our defense policies and vast military expenditures? Who is in charge of the Department of the Interior? The Department of Homeland Security? Our intelligence agencies? The Department of Agriculture? The Food and Drug Administration? The Department of Labor? The Federal Reserve? The mass media? Our systems of entertainment? Our prisons and schools? Who determines our trade and environmental policies? Who imposes austerity on the public while enabling the looting of the U.S. Treasury and the tax boycott by Wall Street? Who criminalizes dissent?

      A disenfranchised white working class vents its lust for fascism at Trump campaign rallies. Naive liberals, who think they can mount effective resistance within the embrace of the Democratic Party, rally around the presidential candidacy of Bernie Sanders, who knows that the military-industrial complex is sacrosanct. Both the working class and the liberals will be sold out. Our rights and opinions do not matter. We have surrendered to our own form of wehrwirtschaft. We do not count within the political process.

      This truth, emotionally difficult to accept, violates our conception of ourselves as a free, democratic people. It shatters our vision of ourselves as a nation embodying superior virtues and endowed with the responsibility to serve as a beacon of light to the world. It takes from us the “right” to impose our fictitious virtues on others by violence. It forces us into a new political radicalism. This truth reveals, incontrovertibly, that if real change is to be achieved, if our voices are to be heard, corporate systems of power have to be destroyed. This realization engenders an existential and political crisis. The inability to confront this crisis, to accept this truth, leaves us appealing to centers of power that will never respond and ensures we are crippled by self-delusion.

      The longer fantasy is substituted for reality, the faster we sleepwalk toward oblivion. There is no guarantee we will wake up. Magical thinking has gripped societies in the past. Those civilizations believed that fate, history, superior virtues or a divine force guaranteed their eternal triumph. As they collapsed, they constructed repressive dystopias. They imposed censorship and forced the unreal to be accepted as real. Those who did not conform were disappeared linguistically and then literally.

    • Chris Hedges and Robert Scheer Assess the Merits of a Life of Virtue in a Careerist’s World

      In this week’s episode of “Scheer Intelligence” on KCRW, Truthdig Editor in Chief Robert Scheer speaks with Truthdig columnist Chris Hedges about the rewards of Hedges’ unorthodox career as a minister and journalist covering the disintegration of societies on multiple continents, his working habits, and the consequences of elite neglect of the forces that turn civilized populations barbarian.

      The two spoke in Philadelphia in late July as Democrats pilloried Republicans and their presidential candidate, Donald Trump.

      “The Nazis before 1933 were buffoonish figures, as were Radovan Karadžic and Slobodan Miloševic in Yugoslavia,” Hedges remarked. “And as Trump is. But when these buffoonish figures take power, they become extremely frightening.”

      “They are frightening,” Scheer replied. But “what you’re saying is they didn’t come from nowhere.”

    • Images from US Border Patrol facility reveal harsh conditions for immigrants

      The photograph, a still image drawn from video footage captured by a security camera, shows a mass of cylindrical shapes squashed together in a box and wrapped in what appears to be silver foil, their surfaces glistening like sardines in a tin.

      The shapes are not sardines, however, but human beings. And they are wrapped not in foil but in emergency blankets, handed out to them as they were put into a cramped detention center at the US border, courtesy of the federal agency, Customs and Border Protection (CBP).

      The image, and several others like it released on Thursday at the order of a federal judge, gives the most damning evidence yet seen of the exceptionally harsh and some say abusive conditions to which immigrants are subjected when detained at the southern US border with Mexico.

    • We need to re-examine Corbyn’s so-called ‘dangerous friendships’

      An LSE survey found that 74% of newspaper articles ‘offered either no or a highly distorted account of Corbyn’s views and ideas’ and that only 9% were ‘positive’ in tone. Research carried out at Birkbeck similarly found a strong bias in ‘mainstream media coverage’. So how trustworthy are the above claims?

    • ‘We Tortured Some Kids’: Parody Advert Unveils Horrors at Australia’s Child Detention Facilities (Video) [Ed: When Obama said "We Tortured Some Folks" he thought he had done enough regarding torture but never pressed charges against the criminals]

      Allegations that Nauru’s conditions are as horrendous as those at Guantanamo Bay were confirmed earlier this month, when the Guardian published more than 8,000 pages of leaked incident reports from Australia’s detention camp for asylum seekers on the remote Pacific island. The documents detail “assaults, sexual abuse, self-harm attempts, child abuse and living conditions endured by asylum seekers held by the Australian government, painting a picture of routine dysfunction and cruelty,” reports the Guardian.

      “But, alas, our human rights record is constantly under threat of improving,” the video’s narrator says. “To continue our abuse and torture programs, the government requires your complicity,” she adds, offering five simple steps you can take to help.

    • Lost Peoples of the Lake

      Our visit was punctuated by the sighting of a lone coyote padding along the salt crust: the traditional Native American trickster is perhaps conjuring further redemption for the Lake. There is no commemoration of the killing fields of Inyo County: surely they bring even greater shame upon this country than, for instance, the nearby WWII era Japanese internment camp of Manzanar and are of at least equal educational potential. The new monument might be more relevant if it referenced the lost peoples of the Lake rather than simulating, in earth and granite cobbles, the waves that animated the vast body of water that once filled the graben. In the Owen’s Valley, there is yet a greater, unacknowledged debt to be paid.

    • The Olympics: Nationalism at its Worst

      Once again the world is being subjected to the periodic nationalist orgy known as the Olympics. Here, we are told, participating nations around the globe are all equal, and send their best athletes for a friendly competition, where nothing but sportsmanship counts, and any and all other differences are not even considered. After trying their very best in each of many different sports, the top three are honored with a gold, silver or bronze medal, something he or she can look proudly on for generations to come.

      This writer hates to burst such a pretty balloon (actually, he doesn’t hate doing so at all), but once one has passed the age where Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny and the tooth fairy have all been relegated to the status of pleasant childhood memories, the same should be done with the farce of the Olympics.

      Let’s look for a minute at a few examples.

      [...]

      Now let us look at another Olympic swimmer, Yursa Mardini, age 18. Ms. Mardina is a Syrian refugee, who, perhaps, didn’t have the same advantages as Mr. Phelps. She refers to being in the Olympics as a ‘once in a lifetime’ opportunity; please note that the current games are Mr. Phelp’s fifth foray into an Olympic pool. And training was sometimes difficult for Ms. Mardini, not because she didn’t have sufficient energy or motivation, but because of other factors. Said she: “…sometimes we couldn’t train because of the war. Or sometimes you had training but there was a bomb in the swimming pool.” Mr. Phelps, once caught with a bong in his mouth, never had a bomb in his pool.

      [...]

      The Olympics, for some bizarre reason, attract the attention of people for whom watching an athletic event, let alone ever participating in one, does not occur outside of this periodic spectacle. But these are people who never let an opportunity pass for a flag to be waved, and to rejoice in anything that, in their narrow little minds, sets their nation above all the rest. There is no thought of the deadly, murderous horrors their country may inflict on innocent people (see: USA, Israel), no thought to the exploitation and abuse of the poor (see: USA, Brazil), no thought of blatant racism (see: USA, Israel). No, if a swimmer from one’s own country swims faster than the swimmers representing other countries, one’s country is the greatest! For such people, seeing an athlete representing their country stand atop the highest pedestal, accepting a gold medal, brings a tear to the eye as the chest swells with pride!

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • EFF accuses T-Mobile of violating net neutrality with throttled video

      The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has accused T-Mobile USA of violating net neutrality principles with a new “unlimited” data plan that throttles video. The group is weighing whether to file a complaint with the Federal Communications Commission, and the EFF is evaluating a similar offering from Sprint.

      T-Mobile’s $70-per-month unlimited data plan limits video to about 480p resolution and requires customers to pay an extra $25 per month for high-definition video. The plan also throttles mobile hotspot connections unless customers pay an extra $15 for each 5GB allotment. Going forward, this will be the only plan offered to new T-Mobile customers, though existing subscribers can keep their current prices and data allotments.

  • DRM

    • This lawsuit could be the beginning of the end for DRM

      Our friends at the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) recently filed a lawsuit challenging Section 1201 of the US’s Digital Millenium Copyright Act, which provides legal reinforcement to the technical shackles of Digital Restrictions Management (DRM). Defective by Design applauds this lawsuit and agrees with the EFF that Section 1201 violates the right to freedom of speech. We hope that excising Section 1201 from US law can be the beginning of the end for DRM.

08.20.16

Links 20/8/2016: Android Domination, FSFE summit 2016

Posted in News Roundup at 11:25 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

Free Software/Open Source

  • Need a tamper-proof, encrypted PC? The portable, open-source ORWL could be what you’re looking for

    There are a number of choices available if you need a small, powerful but affordable mini desktop PC, from the $500 Mac Mini, to the cheaper Google Chromebox, or HP Pavillion Mini Desktop.

    But can more be done to keep these devices secure, not just from software exploits, but scenarios in which the attacker has gained physical access to the device?

    The makers of ORWL, a flying saucer-shaped mini desktop for the security-minded, think it can, providing you’re willing to fork out a relatively hefty $699.

  • Nextgov Ebook: Tech Revolutions: Open Source and the Internet of Things

    Nextgov’s meetup series Tech + Tequila has been an opportunity for government and private sector technologists to explore hot topics in federal IT together in a casual setting—with cocktails. Aug. 25 marks our sixth event, and we’ll be discussing artificial intelligence. Is there anything more top of mind than a robot uprising?

    In all seriousness, Tech + Tequila has tackled some awesome topics: data, cybersecurity and emerging tech. This ebook features two more recent Tech + Tequila themes: open source and the internet of things.

    On Aug. 8, the White House unveiled the final policy that requires agencies to share 20 percent of their custom-created source code. When the draft framework was announced back in March, some critics said it didn’t go far enough and argued for a more sweeping “open source by default” framework. Another dissenting voice said the policy would add “more layers of confusion.”

  • Cloud innovator of the Year announced

    AMADEUS, the leading provider of technology solutions for the global travel industry, has won the 2016 Red Hat Innovator of the Year award.

    This is in recognition of its innovative use of Red Hat OpenShift Container Platform as part of a new cloud services platform to help companies meet the increasingly complex demands of travelers.

  • Tips on adding Linux to Your Developer Skill Set

    The time when developers and administrators can get by with only Microsoft in their bag of tricks is over. With Linux’s continuing dominance and growth in server space and with Redmond now embracing open source with actions as well as words, even those who develop exclusively for the Windows platform are almost certain to find times when they need to wrap their heads around an aspect of the Linux kernel or some open source application.

    If you’ve been following tech news, you know that across the board there is an increasing need for people with Linux skills, which has pushed the salaries available for those with certifiable Linux talents to record highs. This opens an opportunity in traditional Windows shops where fully certified Linux people might not be necessary, but where certified Windows people with good Linux skills have extra value.

    In other words, you can increase your value as an employee simply by honing your Linux and open source skills, without the need to necessarily shell out big bucks to Red Hat or the Linux Foundation for certification. There are plenty of educational opportunities available online, some free and others offered with a very low price tag.

  • Talent remains the biggest issue for deploying open source in the enterprise

    Representatives from open source companies Red Hat, Capgemini, MongoDB, Rackspace and Weaveworks weighed in on how open source infiltrated the enterprise, and why skills remains the biggest barrier to a successful open source strategy

    At a Rackspace hosted event in London this week titled Open Source is Eating the World (a play on venture capitalist Marc Andreessen’s seminal Software is Eating the World essay from 2011) panelists generally agreed that open source has managed to infiltrate the enterprise, but talent remains the biggest barrier to a successful open source strategy.

  • Trump’s campaign donation website used open-source code sloppily, risking ridicule and worse

    Like tens of millions of other websites, the campaign donation website for US presidential candidate Donald Trump relies on open-source software called jQuery. But it seems that the software is being used in a sloppy way, which could put Trump supporters at risk of identity theft or worse.

    Trump’s website uses a jQuery plug-in, or a bit of ready-made code, called jQuery Mask Plug-in to handle how donors fill in their name, address, and other information. The mask plug-in restricts the types of information users can enter in forms. This is useful because it increases the chances of accurate data being submitted for payment processing, and for the campaign’s records. It’s also free and available for download from GitHub, the popular platform for open-source software.

  • [New page] Open source alternatives
  • AT&T: What Is ‘Open Source,’ Anyway?

    Companies evaluating open source technology need to be careful that they get all the open source benefits. That’s sometimes tricky, which is why AT&T has defined “three key characteristics of open source software that we consider paramount,” says Greg Stiegler, AT&T assistant vice president of cloud.

    AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) is a leader among big network operators making a big open source commitment, with involvement in multiple projects and aggressive code-sharing. Last month, it released its Enhanced Control, Orchestration, Management and Policy (ECOMP) for network management and orchestration (MANO) as open source. (See AT&T Offers ‘Mature’ ECOMP as Open Source MANO, AT&T Makes Case for Open Source Sharing and AT&T’s Chiosi: Unite on Open Source or Suffer.)

  • Events

    • SFD Countdown Ready!

      The Software Freedom Day countdown is ready for usage in English. We are therefore informing translators and also people willing to add a new language that translation can start right now. All the instructions are available on the wiki at this page.

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • Mozilla Spurring Tech Project Development with Sprints and Grants

        At Mozilla, there is momentum gathering around new open source projects and the Internet of Things (IoT). The company is hosting an IoT sprint development weekend this September. Mozilla’s Hive Chattanooga, in collaboration with The Company Lab, is hosting 48Hour Launch: Internet of Things (IoT) Edition, on September 9-11. 48Hour Launch is a weekend-long competition that challenges teams of entrepreneurs and specialists to spend 48 hours transforming a startup concept into a viable business model, prototype, policy proposal, or piece of curriculum.

        The experience culminates with a Demo Night, where participants debut their work for a chance to win cash prizes, free business services, and a free trip to MozFest in London.

  • Databases

    • Open source uproar as MariaDB goes commercial

      MariaDB Corp. has announced that release 2.0 of its MaxScale database proxy software is henceforth no longer open source. The organization has made it source-available under a proprietary license that promises each release will eventually become open source once it’s out of date.

      MaxScale is at the pinnacle of MariaDB Corp.’s monetization strategy — it’s the key to deploying MariaDB databases at scale. The thinking seems to be that making it mandatory to pay for a license will extract top dollar from deep-pocketed corporations that might otherwise try to use it free of charge. This seems odd for a company built on MariaDB, which was originally created to liberate MySQL from the clutches of Oracle.

  • CMS

    • Writing an academic paper? Try Fidus Writer

      The Fidus Writer online editor is especially for academics who need to write papers in collaboration with other authors, and it includes special tools for managing citations, formulas, and bibliographies. If you’re writing an academic paper by yourself, you have a lot of choices for tools to edit your document. Some of them even take care of making your footnotes and bibliographies come out in the right format. But writing collaboratively is harder, for lots of reasons. You could use Google Docs, ownCloud, or even Dropbox to share the document, but then you lose useful citation-management tools.

      Enter Fidus Writer: Fidus Writer is a web-based collaborative writing tool made specifically for the needs of academic writers who need to use citations or formulas. The rules for citations are complicated, so Fidus Writer takes care of the format for you; you can choose from several citation formats, including APA, Chicago, or MLA. Version 3 of Fidus Writer was just released in June, and it is a clean, well-polished application.

      At my first look, Fidus Writer is impressive. The application is written mostly in Python and Node.js, and is licensed under the AGPL V3. I installed it on a Debian virtual machine running on my Windows PC. The installation instructions are geared toward Debian and its derivative distros, and uses apt to install software. I suspect someone clever who has a real desire to run it on RPM-based distros could make it work, as the list of packages needed is not overlarge.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

  • Funding

    • Omega2, $5 Linux platform computer for IoT projects, exceeds $450k in Kickstarter funding

      The Omega2 set out to produce an extremely cheap, extensible Linux computer designed for Internet of Things (IoT) projects with a Kickstarter campaign asking for only $15,000. Now, with only for days remaining in the campaign, the Omega2 team is set to receive over $450,000 in funding from over 11,000 backers. Developed by the Onion Corporation, the Omega2 promises to be an interesting entry for DIY (do it yourself) and commercial projects.

    • Crowdfunding closing on $5 Linux + Wifi tiny IoT compute module

      Omega 2 is a Linux compute module designed specifically for building connected hardware applications. It combines, say its designers Onion, “the tiny form factor and power-efficiency of the Arduino, with the power and flexibilities of the Raspberry Pi.”

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC

    • GNU Libreboot, version 20160818 released
    • GNU Libreboot Release Adds New Chromebook & ASUS/Gigabyte/Intel Board Support

      The Libreboot project has done their first official release of this Coreboot binary-free downstream now being under the GNU project label.

      GNU Libreboot 20160818 is the new release. New board support for this de-blobbed version of Coreboot includes supporting the ASUS Chromebook C201, Gigabyte GA-G41M-ES2L, Intel D510MO, ASUS KCMA-D8, ASUS KFSN4-DRE, and ASUS KGPE-D16. Yep, all rather old motherboards (aside from the Chromebook C201) with sadly not much love these days from AMD and Intel around fully supporting modern chipsets by free software.

    • FSFE summit 2016

      Imagine a European Union that builds its IT infrastructure on Free Software. Imagine European Member States that exchange information in Open Standards and share their software. Imagine municipalities and city councils that benefit from decentralized and collaborative software under free licenses. Imagine no European is any longer forced to use non-Free Software.

  • Public Services/Government

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

  • Programming/Development

  • Standards/Consortia

    • Dutch consider mandatory eGovernment standards

      The Dutch government wants to make the use of open standards mandatory for public administrations, to provide business and citizens with easier access to eGovernment services. The government is developing a generic digital infrastructure, and its services and standards are to be used by all public administrations, writes Henk Kamp, the country’s Minister of Economic Affairs in a letter to Parliament.

Leftovers

  • Uber Wasting No Time: Launching Test Of Self-Driving Cars

    Separately, the company announced that it has bought a self-driving startup, Otto, and put its co-founder, Antohony Levandowski, in charge of Uber’s self-driving efforts.

    We’ve already noted that Tesla has Uber-like plans as well, but this could certainly get interesting. Lots of people (including us!) have speculated on what the world will look like as autonomous vehicles become more prominent, but it’s somewhat amazing how quickly this is happening.

    While it’s not a huge surprise that Uber may be leading the way, it does still raise some interesting questions. Obviously, lots of people say that Uber wants to do this so that it won’t have to pay drivers any more (though in these tests a human is still in the driver’s seat and, one assumes, getting paid). But part of the genius (or problem, depending on your point of view…) of Uber was that it was just a platform for drivers who brought their own cars. That is, Uber didn’t have to invest the capital in buying up cars. It just provided the platform, drivers brought their own cars, and Uber got a cut. If it’s moving to a world of driverless cars, then Uber is no longer the platform for drivers, it’s everything. It needs to make the investment and own the cars. That’s actually a pretty big shift.

    That’s not to say that it won’t work — and there’s an argument that Uber’s real power these days is in its operations software figuring out which cars should go where — but it is an interesting shift in the business. And given that, it’s also interesting to see how Tesla is entering the market from the other direction — a direction that is more like Uber’s original concept, where individuals own their own cars, but then lease them back to Tesla to act as for-hire cars for others. I guess it’s possible that Uber could do the same thing too, where any car owner could provide their vehicle back to Uber to earn money, but without having to drive it — just making it a productive resource.

    Who knows how this will turn out — and I’m sure some people will inevitably freak out when there’s a self-driving car accident — but the future is getting really interesting really fast.

  • The Human Cost of Tech Debt

    If you’re not already familiar with the concept of technical debt, it’s worth becoming familiar with it. I say this not only because it is a common industry term, but because it is an important concept.

  • Science

    • Scientists to launch global hunt for ‘line in the rock’ marking the ‘scary’ new man-made epoch

      A worldwide hunt for a “line in the rock” that shows the beginning of a new geological epoch defined by humanity’s extraordinary impact on planet Earth is expected to get underway in the next few weeks.

      The idea that we are now living in the Anthropocene epoch has been gaining ground in recent years.

      The surge in global temperatures by an average of one degree Celsius in little over a century, the burning of vast amounts of fossil fuels, the extinction of many animal species, the widespread use of nitrogen fertilisers, the deluge of plastic rubbish and a number of other factors have all caused changes that will remain visible in rocks for millions of years.

      Later this month, an expert working group – set up to investigate whether these changes are so significant that the 11,500-year-old Holocene epoch is now at an end – will present its latest findings to the 35th International Geological Congress (IGC) in South Africa.

      They then plan to search for what is known as a “golden spike” – a physical point in the geological record that shows where one epoch changed to another – which could win over any remaining doubters among the geology community.

    • NASA dangles ONE MILLION DOLLARS for virtual Mars robots

      NASA has announced a million-dollar prize it will award to whomsoever can program a virtual robot to get stuff done ahead of a crewed mission to Mars.

  • Health/Nutrition

  • Security

    • Friday’s security updates
    • Thursday’s security advisories
    • Microsoft Windows UAC can be bypassed for untraceable hacks

      USER ACCOUNT Control (UAC), the thing in Microsoft Windows that creates extra menus you wish would just sod off, can be bypassed, allowing hackers to gain registry access.

      Security researcher Matt Nelson has discovered that the flaw allows someone to start PowerShell, access the registry and then leave no trace.

      The workaround/feature/bug/massive security hole works on any version of Windows with UAC, which was introduced in Windows Vista and later softened in Windows 7 as it proved such a spectacular pain in the Vista.

      The technique uses no files, no injections and leaves no trace. It’s just pure direct access via a vulnerability. You could go off and do it to someone now.

      Don’t do that, though.

    • all that’s not golden

      Several stories and events recently that in some way relate to backdoors and golden keys and security. Or do they? In a couple cases, I think some of the facts were slightly colored to make for a more exciting narrative. Having decided that golden keys are shitty, that doesn’t imply that all that’s shit is golden. A few different perspectives here, because I think some of the initial hoopla obscured some lessons that even people who don’t like backdoors can learn from.

      Secure Boot

      Microsoft added a feature to Secure Boot, accidentally creating a bypass for older versions. A sweet demo scene release (plain text) compares this incident to the FBI’s requested golden keys. Fortunately, our good friends over at the Register dug into this claim and explained some of the nuance in their article, Bungling Microsoft singlehandedly proves that golden backdoor keys are a terrible idea. Ha, ha, I kid.

      Matthew Garrett also has some notes on Microsoft’s compromised Secure Boot implementation. He’s purportedly a Linux developer, but he doesn’t once in this post call Windows a steaming pile, so he’s probably a Microsoft shill in disguise.

      Returning to the big question, What does the MS Secure Boot Issue teach us about key escrow? Maybe not a whole lot. Some questions to consider are how thoroughly MS tried to guard the key and whether they actually lost the key or just signed the wrong thing.

      Relevant to the crypto backdoor discussion, are the actions taken here the same? In a key escrow scheme, are iPhones sending encrypted data to the FBI or is the FBI sending encrypted messages to iPhones? The direction of information flow probably has a profound effect on the chances of the wrong thing leaking out. Not to say I want anything flowing in either direction, but it does affect how analogous the situations are.

      A perhaps more important lesson, for all security or crypto practitioners, is just barely hinted at in mjg59’s post. Microsoft created a new message format, but signed it with a key trusted by systems that did not understand this format. Misinterpretation of data formats results in many vulnerabilities. Whenever it’s possible that a message may be incorrectly handled by existing systems, it’s vital to roll keys to prevent misinterpretation.

    • Security against Election Hacking – Part 1: Software Independence

      So the good news is: our election system has many checks and balances so we don’t have to trust the hackable computers to tell us who won. The biggest weaknesses are DRE paperless touchscreen voting machines used in a few states, which are completely unacceptable; and possible problems with electronic pollbooks.

      In this article I’ve discussed paper trails: pollbooks, paper ballots, and per-precinct result printouts. Election officials must work hard to assure the security of the paper trail: chain of custody of ballot boxes once the polls close, for example. And they must use the paper trails to audit the election, to protect against hacked computers (and other kinds of fraud, bugs, and accidental mistakes). Many states have laws requiring (for example) random audits of paper ballots; more states need such laws, and in all states the spirit of the laws must be followed as well as the letter.

    • Security against Election Hacking (Freedom to Tinker)

      Over at the Freedom to Tinker blog, Andrew Appel has a two-part series on security attacks and defenses for the upcoming elections in the US (though some of it will obviously be applicable elsewhere too). Part 1 looks at the voting and counting process with an eye toward ways to verify what the computers involved are reporting, but doing so without using the computers themselves (having and verifying the audit trail, essentially). Part 2 looks at the so-called cyberdefense teams and how their efforts are actually harming all of our security (voting and otherwise) by hoarding bugs rather than reporting them to get them fixed.

    • Shift: public cloud considered more secure than corporate data centers

      Security has always weighed heavily on executives’ minds as the risk of using public cloud services. In surveys I am involved in designing, we find to this day that security is the number-one challenge or showstopper when it comes to moving things to the cloud.

    • Agencies Face Cyber Concerns as Apps Rely on Aging Systems — Report

      More than 70 percent of the 100 federal IT business decision-makers polled in Dell’s State of IT Trends 2016 Study said their agency is using old operating systems to run important mission applications. And a little more than half of respondents said their agency is using software or systems that are no longer vendor-supported, according to the report.

    • Vulnerable smart home IoT sockets let hackers access your email account

      The smart plug can act as a conduit not just for electricity — but for cyberattacks.

    • Isis members share ‘how to hack’ tutorials encouraging supporters to target western intelligence

      “Kali Linux is known as the ‘go-to’ for black [hat] and white [hat] hackers alike,” Omri Moyal, VP Research at Israel-based cybersecurity firm Minerva Labs, was quoted as saying by Vocativ. “It is widely promoted and educated in underground forums and anonymous chat rooms, and the combination of its pre-installed, ready-to-use, powerful tools make it extremely dangerous in the wrong hands,” he adds. “As we have heard that ISIS are declaring that they will move to operate in the cyber domain, it is very natural that they will go to this tool.”

    • Main ISIS forum promote ‘How To Hack’ Tutorials Online
    • ISIS Noobs Share ‘How To Hack’ Tutorials Online
    • Rex Linux Trojan Can Launch DDoS Attacks, Lock Websites, Mine for Cryptocurrency

      What initially looked like a string of Drupal sites infected with ransomware (that didn’t work properly) now looks like a professional cybercrime operation that relies on a self-propagating Linux trojan to create a botnet with various capabilities.

  • Defence/Aggression

    • U.S. Held Cash Until Iran Freed Prisoners

      New details of the $400 million U.S. payment to Iran earlier this year depict a tightly scripted exchange specifically timed to the release of several American prisoners held in Iran.

    • The Aleppo Poster Child — Paul Craig Roberts

      As for the little boy in the propaganda picture, he does not seem to be badly injured. Let us not forget the tens of thousands of children that Washington’s wars and bombings of 7 Muslim countries have killed without any tears shed by CNN anchors, and let us not forget the 500,000 Iraqi children that the United Nations concluded died as a result of US sanctions against Iraq, children’s deaths that Clinton’s Secretary of State Madeleine Albright said were worth it.

    • Why Are We Still Wasting Billions on Homeland Security Projects That Don’t Make Us Safer?

      The turbulent months after the 9/11 attacks were notable for something that did not happen. Even though al-Qaeda had killed thousands of people and scored a direct hit on the Pentagon, hardly anyone in either political party blamed the Bush Administration for failing to defend the homeland. In the burst of patriotism that followed the assaults, President Bush and his aides essentially got a free pass from the voting public. This consensus held even after it emerged that government officials had fumbled numerous clues that might have prevented the attacks. (The Central Intelligence Agency knew two al-Qaeda operatives had entered the U.S. in 2000, but never told the Federal Bureau of Investigation. No one tracked their movements and phone calls, a notable lapse since both men ended up among the 19 hijackers.) Voters had no problem re-electing a president who did nothing after receiving an intelligence briefing weeks before 9/11 headlined “Bin Laden Determined to Strike in the U.S.”

    • What Became of the Left?

      For fifteen years, and more if we go back to the Clinton regime’s destruction of Yugoslavia, the US has been engaged in wars on populations in seven—eight counting Yugoslavia/Serbia—countries, causing millions of deaths, disabled, and dislocated peoples. A police state has been created, the US Constitution stripped of its protective features, and massive crimes committed under both US and international law by three administrations. These crimes include torture, transparant false flag events, naked aggression (a war crime), spying without warrants, and murder of US citizens. Yet, the leftwing’s voice is barely heard.

      Clearly, my acquaintances are beginning to miss the challenge to explanations and the country’s direction that the left formerly provided. I know how they feel. We used to be pushed along by biases and stereotypical thinking, and the left was there to rattle our cage. Now we are pushed along by propaganda and there is no countervailing force except a few Internet voices.

    • Washington Hawks Prey on Syrian Killing Fields

      Official Washington loves to show heartbreaking images of wounded Syrian children with the implicit message that it’s time to invade Syria and impose “regime change” (rather than commit to peace talks), a dilemma addressed by Michael Brenner.

    • More False Outrage on the Syrian War
  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • Smoke from Indonesia’s fires begins to drift into Malaysia

      Air quality in Indonesia and peninsular Malaysia declined this week as prevailing southwesterly winds continued to blow smog over the water that separates the two countries.

      “Smoke from forest fires and peat in Riau has already crossed the Malacca Strait,” Indonesia’s disaster management agency chief Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said on Wednesday. “It’s still only a little but it should be addressed immediately.”

      Data from Malaysia’s Department of Environment showed air quality in Shah Alam, a city near Kuala Lumpur in Selangor state, declined to 85 on Wednesday. A level above 100 is classified as unhealthy. Only one of five areas in Singapore monitored by the city state’s National Environment Agency showed air quality in the “Moderate” range. The 24-hour Pollutant Standards Index was in the “Good” range on August 7.

      The number of fires and hotspots in the 2016 dry season has been lower than last year, when the extended drought wrought by an El Niño weather event deprived the region of the rain needed to suppress Indonesia’s annual fires. Prolonged periods with no rain have led to spikes in hotspots in recent months, including the last week.

    • Time to listen to the ice scientists about the Arctic death spiral

      Not Peter Wadhams. The former director of the Scott Polar Research Institute and professor of ocean physics at Cambridge has spent his scientific life researching the ice world, or the cryosphere, and in just 30 years has seen unimaginable change.

      When in 1970 he joined the first of what would be more than 50 polar expeditions, the Arctic sea ice covered around 8m sq km at its September minimum. Today, it hovers at around 3.4m, and is declining by 13% a decade. In 30 years Wadhams has seen the Arctic ice thin by 40%, the world change colour at its top and bottom and the ice disappear in front of his eyes.

      In a new book, published just as July 2016 is confirmed by Nasa as the hottest month ever recorded, this most experienced and rational scientist states what so many other researchers privately fear but cannot publicly say – that the Arctic is approaching a death spiral which may see the entire remaining summer ice cover collapse in the near future.

  • Finance

    • Steemit Is Like Reddit, But Where Upvotes Equal a Cryptocurrency Payout

      A homeless man can afford to buy an RV thanks to a popular blog post. A woman earns a year’s salary from a YouTube makeup tutorial. An African writer starts with three hours of electricity per day and ends with over $40,000 dollars.

      These are some of the striking and somewhat implausible-sounding stories to have emerged during the first fully operational month of Steemit, a forum-style platform that rewards community content and curation with cryptocurrency payouts, and where—for the moment at least—users who hit the goldmine of a viral post can see up to five-figure payouts. (Here I should include a journalistic disclosure: a post on the site in which I appealed for sources for this story earned a total value of over $800, of which I have currently withdrawn $100.)

      But as with any new cryptocurrency, there are key questions over stability, sustainability, and underlying motivation. As it stands, the bulk of the site is made up of quickly-written, poorly-researched content, some of which is remunerated into the thousands of dollars. At the same time, critics have raised concerns over both the distribution of the currency and the business model of the platform, questioning the huge sums accrued by early adopters and in some cases alleging a scam dependent on new investment to remain afloat.

    • Bitcoin.org suspects state-sponsored attacks on the horizon

      Bitcoin.org has warned users to be aware that the upcoming release of Bitcoin Core is likely to be targeted by state-sponsored cyberattackers.

      The group which manages Bitcoin Core, the client used to keep the virtual currency decentralized while at the same time aims to accept only valid transactions, warned this week that the organization has “reason to suspect” that the binaries used in the next release will become targets.

      The upcoming 0.13.0 release, dubbed Segwit, has undergone extensive testing and has been designed to improve transaction efficiency. The update also changes the rules of the Bitcoin system marginally by introducing new features which reduce problems associated with unwanted third-party transaction malleability and designing smart contracts which use the cryptocurrency.

      However, state-sponsored groups — which are often sophisticated and have high levels of government funding — may impede the release or threaten investors dabbling in the virtual currency, and Bitcoin.org says that any state-sponsored threats levied against the new release cannot be defended against without help.

    • California Lawmaker Pulls Digital Currency Bill After EFF Opposition

      For the second year in a row, EFF and a coalition of virtual currency and consumer protection organizations have beaten back a California bill that would have created untenable burdens for the emerging cryptocurrency community.

    • Research Funding in a Post-Brexit World

      A considerable amount of research funding comes to the UK from the EU through the Horizon 2020 (H2020) scheme [1]. This programme is providing over 80 billion Euros in grants over the period 2014 to 2020 and is envisioned as a means to drive economic growth and create jobs within the EU’s member nations. The stated aim is to ensure Europe produces world-class science, removes barriers to innovation and makes it easier for the public and private sectors to work together in delivering innovation.

      The chief beneficiaries of H2020 grants are research institutions (universities and independent research organisations) and the R&D arms of large companies [2], however there is a goal that 20% of the monies will go to small or medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

      Funding under H2020 is granted to projects each operated by a consortium of companies and organisations. A consortium puts together a detailed proposal describing what work they will do, what the outcomes will be, and how grant money would be spent. The proposals are assessed for the European Commission (EC) by panels of experts who determine the technical merit and value for money as well as considering the social and economic impact of the research. Other considerations also play a small part, such as the participation by SMEs, equality issues, and distribution of work across all EU countries. Competition is stiff, and many proposals are turned down.

    • Dozens of New York Officials Support Tenants’ Lawsuit Over Rent Stabilization

      Tenants have sued a Lower Manhattan developer, saying their leases should have been rent-stabilized in exchange for the tax breaks their landlord received. State and local officials have now filed a brief supporting the tenants, whose case could affect thousands of rental units.

    • Felicia Kornbluh on the Politics of Welfare

      Now we’re told we’re in a moment of reconsideration—of tough-on-crime policies, of the deregulation of banks and, perhaps, of the notion that depriving needy people of assistance would lead to their gainful employment and well-being. Our guest says a true reconsideration of the 1990s welfare overhaul would require a so-far invisible recentering of the people in its crosshairs: low-income women, particularly mothers raising children on their own.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Federal Election Commission To Crack Down On ‘Deez Nuts’ As Presidential Candidate

      The more web savvy among you may know that “Deez Nuts” was a popular web meme earlier in 2015, but it didn’t quite explain how it got into the poll. It turned out that a 15 year old kid named Brady Olson had filled out the necessary paperwork under the name Deez Nuts, and PPP had decided to toss it into their poll as a bit of fun. The attention paid to Deez Nuts as a political candidate resulted in a bunch of other silly names filling out the paperwork as well — including Butt Stuff, Mr. Not Sure and Sir TrippyCup aka Young Trippz aka The GOAT aka The Prophet aka Earl.

      Of course, after that initial flurry of attention, most people mostly forgot about Deez Nuts, the fake Presidential candidate…. until this week.

      You see, earlier this week PPP released a new poll showing that Green Party candidate Jill Stein was trailing Deez Nuts in Texas (also trailing, Harambe, the dead gorilla who is also now something of an internet meme).

    • Wealthy Elites and Blowjobs

      Ostenisbly, the rant serves to warn that if such tools get out, people might target banks and financial systems, specifically mentioning the hacks on SWIFT (not to mention suggesting that if the other claimed files get out someone might target finance).

      Along the way it includes a reference to elites having their top friends announcing “no law broken, no crime commit.” And right before it, this: “make promise future handjobs, (but no blowjobs).”

      Maybe I’m acutely sensitive to mentions of blowjobs, especially those received by Bill Clinton, for reasons that are obvious to most of you. But the reference to handjobs but no blowjobs in the immediate proximity of getting off of a crime followed closely by a reference to running for President seems like an oblique reference to the Clintons.

      If so, it would place this leak more closely in line with the structure of the other leaks targeting Hillary.

      That’s in no way dispositive, but the blowjobs references does merit mentioning.

    • Trump and the Long History of Media Bias

      The mainstream U.S. news media insists that its bias against Donald Trump is an aberration justified by his extraordinary recklessness, but the truth is U.S. media bias has a long history, says longtime journalist Robert Parry.

    • Revealed: The Secret Donor Behind “Children of Israel,” the Ghost Corporation Funding GOP Super PACs

      If limited liability companies like Children of Israel make political donations, and the LLC is treated as a partnership for tax purposes, federal regulations require the LLC to inform the recipients who the actual humans behind the company are. Then the recipients of the donations must disclose this in their filings with the Federal Election Commission. By May of this year, Fox and the RNC were doing that.

      But Children of Israel either failed to do so with its contributions to Pursuing American’s Greatness and Stand for Truth, or the two Super PACs simply chose to ignore it. According to Brendan Fisher, associate counsel of the political money watchdog group Campaign Legal Center, Fox and/or Children of Israel therefore violated prohibitions on “straw donor” contributions made in someone else’s name. (The CLC filed a complaint with the FEC against Children of Israel in March before Fox’s identity became known.)

    • FEC Commissioner Wants Help Getting Foreign Money Out of U.S. Elections

      Ann Ravel, one of six members of the Federal Election Commission, called last week for the FEC to take a stand against foreign money in U.S. elections — and on Thursday, she appealed for public reaction.

      At issue are advisory opinions that gave a green light to domestic subsidiaries of foreign corporations who wanted to make donations to U.S. political campaigns. In her proposal to rescind those opinions, Ravel cited The Intercept‘s recent reporting about American Pacific International Capital, a California corporation owned by Chinese citizens which — thanks to Citizens United and that FEC opinion — was able to give $1.3 million to the Jeb Bush Super PAC Right to Rise USA.

    • Searches for Green Party surpass Dems during CNN town hall

      CNN on Wednesday night held a town hall with presidential nominee Jill Stein and running mate Ajamu Baraka.

      During the event, the team made its pitch to voters, casting the Green Party ticket as an alternative option for those who don’t want to back either major party’s nominee. Stein said the Green Party is standing up for “everyday people and an America and a future that works for all of us.”

      Stein hit Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton during the event and said she would have trouble sleeping at night if either Clinton or Republican nominee Donald Trump were elected president.

    • Did Green Party Pitch for ‘Greater Good’ Resonate with National Audience?

      Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein and vice presidential candidate Ajamu Baraka took part in CNN’s first Green Party town hall Wednesday night, laying out their proposals to abolish all student debt, establish a single-payer healthcare system, create a foreign policy based on humanitarian values, and to establish a “Green New Deal” that would both create millions of jobs nationwide and help transition the country to 100 percent renewable energy by 2030.

    • Open Up the Debates: Green Party’s Jill Stein Accuses Democrats & GOP of Rigging Debate Rules

      While polls show Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton are among the least popular major-party candidates to ever run for the White House, it appears no third-party candidates will be invited to take part in the first presidential debate next month. The debates are organized by the Commission on Presidential Debates, which is controlled by the Democratic and Republican parties. Under the commission’s rules, candidates will only be invited if they are polling at 15 percent in five national surveys. Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson and the Green Party’s Jill Stein have both witnessed recent surges in support, but neither have crossed the 15 percent threshold. More than 12,000 people have signed a petition organized by RootsAction calling for a four-way presidential debate. We speak to Green Party presidential nominee Dr. Jill Stein. Four years ago she was arrested outside a presidential debate protesting her exclusion from the event.

    • Jill Stein: How far will she go to make a splash at the debates?

      The Green Party presidential nominee tells USA TODAY’s Capital Download that she will be at the first presidential debate at Hofstra University in less than six weeks. And she says she is “absolutely” ready to be arrested, as she was four years ago. Video by Jasper Colt, USA TODAY

    • Trump May Be Saving His Biggest (Worst) Surprise For Last

      If the 2016 election is a grease-soaked dumpster fire, Donald Trump might be about to spray it with a hose full of cooking oil. Last month his campaign raised an astonishing $82 million, leaving him with $74 million on hand at the start of this month. We can safely assume a lot of that’s going toward red hats and Trump Steaks … but so far, none of it’s being spent on television ads. Gary Johnson and Jill Stein, aka “Who?” have both spent, uh, infinity times more money on TV ads than Donald Trump has.

      Trump’s spent $0 on TV since the start of the general election campaign, compared to $52 million spent by the Clinton campaign. While Hillary’s people have already booked a full range of ads in battleground states through November, Trump still seems to be relying on all the “free” publicity he’s getting from media (like us!) since the start of the campaign. The only problem is, since the end of the primary, that coverage has taken a distinct turn from “Donald Trump might be a genius” …

    • The Dixie Chicks: The long road back from exile

      Thirteen years after country music blacklisted the top-selling female band in American history, the Dixie Chicks are returning to the town that made them famous.

      And when the trio performs Wednesday night at Nashville’s sold-out Bridgestone Arena, they’ll do so unapologetically — with a show featuring the same brand of biting political commentary that most country artists avoid at all costs, and that forced the Chicks into exile more than a decade ago.

      “They have a bitter feeling about Nashville,” said Paul Worley, record executive and the Dixie Chicks’ former producer. “People in the industry may have turned their back on them, but Nashville did not. And they are going to find out when they play here that Nashville has always been here for them and will always be here for them.”

      [...]

      Yet on Wednesday, if previous shows on the Dixie Chicks’ largely sold-out 55-city tour are any indication, they will perform in front of a giant image of Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump — embellished with horns sprouting from his head and a devilish goatee scribbled on his chin.

    • Jill Stein Should Be Part of a 4-Way Presidential Debate

      After the Republicans and Democrats finished their conventions in late July, the Green Party gathered this month to nominate Dr. Jill Stein for the presidency. Stein’s campaign — with her party on ballot lines in the majority of states, and her poll numbers surging ahead of Green numbers from recent presidential elections — has the potential to be a breakthrough bid for the Greens, and for a more robust democracy.

      Stein recognized the prospect in an optimistic yet urgent acceptance speech in which she spoke of “unstoppable momentum for transformational change.” The candidate who talks of ushering in a “Green New Deal” told the Green Party Convention that “we have an historic opportunity, an historic responsibility to be the agents of that change. As Martin Luther King said, ‘the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.’ I know that arc is bending in us, and through us. And we are actors in something much bigger than us as we struggle for justice, for peace, for community, for healing.”

    • Roaming Charges: Prime Time Green

      Give CNN just a little credit. On Wednesday night, the cable network hosted a Town Hall featuring Green Party candidates Jill Stein and Ajamu Baraka. In those 90 Prime Time minutes, Stein and Baraka presented a clearer picture of the realities and consequences of US foreign policy and militarism than we heard from Bernie Sanders in a year’s worth of speeches.

      Americans who tuned in heard some things that are rarely mentioned in the mainstream media: a sober critique of the US’s malign relationship to the government of Israel, forthright calls for the elimination of nuclear weapons, the end of killer drone strikes, the closure of all 800-plus overseas military bases and an end to interventionist wars. The entire Town Hall session was the political equivalent of George Carlin’s the seven things you can’t say on TV.

    • Top DNC fundraiser to depart following shakeup

      Kaplan’s were among the emails released, but he didn’t lose his job in the immediate wave of housecleaning. And unlike the others who left, he’s not going far: Kaplan will be the DNC’s outside point person for events that involve President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama as they raise money for the campaigns of Hillary Clinton and other candidates going into the final phase of the election.

      A DNC official confirmed the news, which was announced to senior staff Friday morning.

      “Jordan Kaplan has decided to return to his consulting business full time. He will continue to manage DNC finance events featuring the president and first lady,” the official said

    • Green Party Ticket Lays Out Its Programs, Denounces ‘Murder From the Sky’ (Audio)

      On Thursday, Green Party presidential nominee Jill Stein and running mate Ajamu Baraka joined Alan Colmes for a radio interview on Fox News’ “The Alan Colmes Show.” The Green Party ticket only recently began receiving mainstream media coverage, and Stein and Baraka explain many aspects of the Green Party ticket to potentially unfamiliar listeners.

      First, Colmes asks about the impact of the “Nader effect,” or the fear that voting for third-party candidates will split up the liberal vote and cause the Democratic Party to lose. “These are the most unpopular and disliked candidates in our history,” Stein responds. “People are saying ‘we’ve had enough of those guys.’ ”

    • Green Party’s Jill Stein to join presidential campaign trail in Colorado

      Stein is expected to draw a crowd as she appeals to one-time Bernie Sanders supporters in a state that overwhelmingly voted for the Vermont senator at the 2016 caucus. The latest poll shows Stein with 7 percent support in Colorado, far better than her showing in the 2012 election when she won just 0.3 percent, or 7,508 votes.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • Atheism – a reason to be banned by Facebook?

      In February 2016, ten of the largest Arabic-speaking atheist groups, with a total of about 100,000 members, have been deactivated for the same reason: heavy reporting campaigns that are organized by “cyber jihadist” fundamentalist Islamic groups, especially for the removal of any anti-Islamic group or page. In such coordinated campaigns, very large numbers of people, and possibly automated scripts, simultaneously file reports falsely claiming that a page, group, or personal account has violated Community Standards.

    • Gawker.com to shut down next week

      Gawker.com, the flagship blog of Gawker Media, will shut down Monday after 14 years of operation, a dramatic coda for a feisty newsroom unable to survive a $140 million judgment from an invasion-of-privacy lawsuit.

      The decision comes two days after Univision Communications agreed to buy Gawker Media’s assets — for its six other blogs — for $135 million in a bankruptcy auction held Tuesday. Univision won after outbidding a $131 million bid from digital publisher Ziff Davis.

      Gawker Media and its founder and CEO, Nick Denton, filed for bankruptcy protection after a Florida jury decided in March that Gawker.com violated Hulk Hogan’s privacy when it published a sex tape of the former pro wrestler having sex with the wife of a friend.

      A bankruptcy court in New York, which had to review any deals for Gawker’s assets, considered Univision’s bid at a hearing Thursday afternoon and gave its approval to proceed with the deal.

      “Sadly, neither I nor Gawker.com, the buccaneering flagship of the group I built with my colleagues, are coming along for this next stage,” Denton wrote in a note to staffers.

      The closure of Gawker.com, known for its snarky and pugnacious coverage of politicians, celebrities and media personalities, will be cheered by some of its critics as a satisfying comeuppance for a blog that not only didn’t pull punches but sometimes aimed below the belt. Others, including media advocates, interpret it as a chilling sign of the threat to the First Amendment posed by third-party-funded lawsuits.

    • Body slammed by Hulk Hogan, Gawker.com will cease operations

      Gawker.com, facing a $140 million jury verdict for publishing a sex tape of Terry Bollea (better known as pro wrestling icon Hulk Hogan), is shuttering operations next week, according to a post on the site.

      “Nick Denton, the company’s outgoing CEO, informed current staffers of the site’s fate on Thursday afternoon, just hours before a bankruptcy court in Manhattan will decide whether to approve Univision’s bid for Gawker Media’s other assets,” the website said. “Staffers will soon be assigned to other editorial roles, either at one of the other six sites or elsewhere within Univision. Near-term plans for Gawker.com’s coverage, as well as the site’s archives, have not yet been finalized.”

      Univision acquired Gawker Media for $135 million on Tuesday. Gawker Media’s other holdings include Gizmodo, Deadspin, Jezebel, Lifehacker, Kotaku, and Jalopnik. The company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy two months ago and went up for sale following the jury’s verdict.

    • Twitter says it shuttered 235k accounts linked to terrorism in 6 months

      Twitter said Thursday it has shut down 235,000 accounts linked to violent extremism in the last six months alone. That brings the total number of terminated Twitter accounts associated with terrorism to 360,000 since mid-2015.

    • “Dangerous precedent for free speech”: NJ Gov. Chris Christie signs law punishing boycotts of Israel

      New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has signed bipartisan-backed legislation that will punish groups that endorse a boycott of Israel in protest of its violations of Palestinian human rights.

      Christie, who is one of the most outspoken supporters of far-right Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, signed the bill on Tuesday.

      It requires the New Jersey government to identify companies that support a boycott of Israel, raising fears that it would create a “blacklist” of institutions that back the growing Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions, or BDS, movement.

      Under the new law, the State Investment Council, which manages more than $80 billion in pension assets, is legally obligated to divest from these blacklisted companies.

    • Former Gawker Editor Lashes Out At Peter Thiel, Calls Freeze On His Checking Account ‘Ludicrous’

      A.J. Daulerio, the ex-Gawker editor who wrote the 2012 story that originally included an excerpt of the Hulk Hogan sex tape he and his employer were successfully sued over, lashed out at Peter Thiel on Thursday. Daulerio questioned the motives of going after his personal assets to satisfy a portion of the $140.1 million judgement in the case.

      “It’s ludicrous that a billionaire like Peter Thiel is spending his wealth on lawyers to freeze my $1,500 bank account and figure out the value of my rice cooker and old furniture,” Daulerio told FORBES in a statement. “If Mr. Thiel really believed in the First Amendment, he would not be funding lawyers to chase my meager assets and instead would try to justify the $115.1 million verdict in front of an appeals court. Instead, he’s using his fortune to hold me hostage to settle a decade-long grudge that has nothing to do with me or Hulk Hogan.”

      As FORBES first revealed in May, Thiel financed Hogan’s lawsuit as part of an effort to bring down the media company. Daulerio’s comments are his first public statements about case since the jury awarded its verdict in March.

    • Did I Kill Gawker?

      It feels a bit strange to say this now, but in the spring of 2014 there was no better place to work than Gawker. For a certain kind of person, at any rate — ambitious, rebellious, and eager for attention, all of which I was. Just over a decade old, Gawker still thought of itself as a pirate ship, but a very big pirate ship, ballasted by semi-respectable journalism, and much less prone to setting itself on fire than in its early days, when its writers had a tendency to make loud and famous enemies and when its staff was subjected to near-annual purges — unless they were able to dramatically quit first. It managed to be, in a way it never had been, the kind of place about which you could say, “I could see myself being here in ten years.” Which I did often enough for it to seem funny now, since I myself would end up dramatically quitting in the summer of 2015, a little more than a year after being promoted to editor-in-chief and a little less than a year before the company would declare bankruptcy and auction itself off to the highest bidder.

    • Under Xi Jinping’s presidentship, it is apparent that free and fair media reportage is difficult

      For most of its 25 years, the Chinese history magazine Yanhuang Chunqiu has been loved by moderate liberals and detested with equal passion by devotees of Mao Zedong, who reviled it as a refuge for heretical criticisms of the Chinese leader and the Communist Party. But in a sign of how sharply ideological winds have turned under President Xi Jinping, officials who recently took control of the magazine have wooed Maoist and nationalist writers who long scorned the magazine. Several well-known hard-line polemicists attended a meeting with the new managers on Monday.

    • ‘It feels like censorship’: Guardian readers on NPR’s decision to close comments

      One thing I think would benefit all publishers is to more closely moderate comments before they’re published. That’ll lead to better discussions and avoid the “garbage fire” of flame wars. Would a news organisation allow journalists to publish prior to proof reading and approval? Of course not. Why then would they allow comment to be approved based purely on a login?

      NPR has said it will use social media to engage with users instead of comments, but responding to a story on social media certainly isn’t the right place for anything other than a brief statement. It’s an instant reaction, rather than any analytical in-depth response.

      My perspective is: either do it properly (moderate), or close the comments. But remember, closing comments effectively diminishes the collaborative communication that the internet gifts us all.

    • Despite Violent Scenes, Directors Mo Brothers Say Censorship is Not the Limit

      As seen during the media preview that in Jakarta on Thursday (18/08), “Headshot” features quick fighting and gun violence scenes which undoubtedly will raise the question about censorship. Directors Kimo Stamboel and Timo Tjahjanto said censorship should not limit their creativity.

    • Mapping Media Freedom: In review 30 July-18 August
    • Will Certificates Help Indian Films Against Censorship?
    • Media’s Self-Inflicted Punishment is the New Censorship

      Public and foreign diplomats are routinely told by the military regime that Thai media enjoys freedom to criticize. That’s only half true at best. The reality is that, two years after the 2014 coup, the selective pressures being applied on some media critical of the junta have just become more subtle and sophisticated, thus rather invisible.

      [...]

      Pravit RojanaphrukLast month, junta leader Gen. Prayuth Chan-ocha used his absolute power under Article 44 of the provisional charter to empower the commission to censor any media deemed a threat to national security and shield it from legal consequences for doing so. According to an outstanding junta order from 2014, security threats include anything construed as defaming the monarchy, “insincere” criticism of the junta, or anything that might sway public opinion against it.

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Researcher Grabs VPN Password With Tool From NSA Dump

      Cisco has already warned customers about two exploits found in the NSA-linked data recently dumped by hackers calling themselves The Shadow Brokers. Now, researchers have uncovered another attack included in the cache, which they claim allows the extraction of VPN passwords from certain Cisco products—meaning hackers could snoop on encrypted traffic.

      Security researcher Mustafa Al-Bassam first documented the hacking tool, which uses the codename BENIGNCERTAIN, in a blog post published Thursday. He coined the attack “PixPocket” after the hardware the tool targets: Cisco PIX, a popular, albeit now outdated, firewall and VPN appliance. Corporations or government departments might use these devices to allow only authorised users onto their network.

    • Why the NSA should be considered a hostile agency

      I think the current mindset of these government agencies is foolish and puts not only our firms and customers at risk, but the nation itself. Let me explain.

    • Shadow Brokers Leak Just Revealed How The NSA Broke American-Made Encryption

      If the Shadow Brokers’ leak of NSA files is legit, as is now all but confirmed, they have offered a glimpse into how the intelligence agency exploited security systems created by American tech vendors.

    • Snowden Documents Confirm the NSA Hack Is Real

      Last Friday, a mysterious group by the name of “The Shadow Brokers” dumped what appeared to be some of the National Security Agency’s hacking tools online. There was some speculation as to whether the tools were legitimate. According to The Intercept, these tools are mentioned in documents leaked by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden.

    • The NSA Leak Is Real, Snowden Documents Confirm

      On Monday, a hacking group calling itself the “ShadowBrokers” announced an auction for what it claimed were “cyber weapons” made by the NSA. Based on never-before-published documents provided by the whistleblower Edward Snowden, The Intercept can confirm that the arsenal contains authentic NSA software, part of a powerful constellation of tools used to covertly infect computers worldwide.

      The provenance of the code has been a matter of heated debate this week among cybersecurity experts, and while it remains unclear how the software leaked, one thing is now beyond speculation: The malware is covered with the NSA’s virtual fingerprints and clearly originates from the agency.

      The evidence that ties the ShadowBrokers dump to the NSA comes in an agency manual for implanting malware, classified top secret, provided by Snowden, and not previously available to the public. The draft manual instructs NSA operators to track their use of one malware program using a specific 16-character string, “ace02468bdf13579.” That exact same string appears throughout the ShadowBrokers leak in code associated with the same program, SECONDDATE.

    • New Snowden documents confirm leaked cyberweapons do belong to the NSA
    • Snowden documents show NSA leak is real: report
    • Snowden documents show NSA leak is real: report
    • New Snowden documents prove the hacked NSA files are real
    • Snowden docs link NSA to Equation Group hackers
    • New Snowden docs support claim of NSA cyberweapon hack
    • Snowden files confirm Shadow Brokers spilled NSA’s Equation Group spy tools over the web

      Documents from the Edward Snowden archive prove that the malware and exploits dumped on the public internet on Monday originated from the NSA.

      Among the files leaked by whistleblower Snowden in 2013 is a draft NSA manual on how to redirect people’s web browsers using a man-in-the-middle tool called SECONDDATE. This piece of software meddles with connections in real-time so targets quietly download malware from NSA-controlled servers.

      The guide instructs snoops to track SECONDDATE deployments using a 16-character identification string: ace02468bdf13579.

      Earlier this week, hackers calling themselves the Shadow Brokers briefly leaked on GitHub an archive of code, claiming the tools were stolen from the Equation Group – which is understood to be a computer surveillance wing of the NSA. It was hard to tell at the time if the software collection was a carefully constructed spoof, or if it truly belonged to the US spying agency.

    • Hackers say leaked NSA tools came from contractor at RedSeal

      On Friday, messages posted to Pastebin and Tumblr allege the recently leaked NSA files came from a contractor working a red team engagement for RedSeal, a company that offers a security analytics platform that can assess a given network’s resiliency to attack. In addition, the hackers claim the intention was to disclose the tools this year during DEF CON.

      Salted Hash reached out to the press team at DEF CON, as well as RedSeal.

      In a statement, RedSeal would only confirm they are an In-Q-Tel portfolio company. The company also denied any knowledge of red team assessments against their products by In-Q-Tel or contractors working with In-Q-Tel. The press department at DEF CON hadn’t responded to questions by the time this article went to print.

    • Why The NSA’s Vulnerability Equities Process Is A Joke (And Why It’s Unlikely To Ever Get Better)

      Two contributors to Lawfare — offensive security expert Dave Aitel and former GCHQ information security expert Matt Tait — take on the government’s Vulnerability Equities Process (VEP), which is back in the news thanks to a group of hackers absconding with some NSA zero-days.

      The question is whether or not the VEP is being used properly. If the NSA discovered its exploits had been accessed by someone other than its own TAO (Tailored Access Operations) team, why did it choose to keep its exploits secret, rather than inform the developers affected? The vulnerabilities exposed so far seem to date as far back as 2013, but only now, after details have been exposed by the Shadow Brokers are companies like Cisco actually aware of these issues.

      According to Lawfare’s contributors, there are several reasons why the NSA would have kept quiet, even when confronted with evidence that these tools might be in the hands of criminals or antagonistic foreign powers. They claim the entire process — which is supposed to push the NSA, FBI, et al towards disclosure — is broken. But not for the reasons you might think.

      The Office of the Director of National Intelligence claimed last year that the NSA divulges 90% of the exploits it discovers. Nowhere in this statement were any details as to what the NSA considered to be an acceptable timeframe for disclosure. It’s always been assumed the NSA turns these exploits over to developers after they’re no longer useful. The Obama administration may have reiterated the presumption of openness when reacting to yet another Snowden leak, but also made it clear that national security concerns will always trump personal security concerns — even if the latter has the potential to affect more people.

    • Australian Law Enforcement Hacked US Users’ Computers During Child Porn Investigation

      Thanks to the internet, more law enforcement agencies are exceeding jurisdictional limitations than ever before. The FBI’s Network Investigative Technique (NIT) — deployed during a child porn investigation to strip Tor users of their anonymity — travelled all over the United States and the world beyond. IP addresses and computer information harvested by the FBI were turned over to Europol and details obtained by Motherboard suggested at least 50 computers in Austria alone had been compromised by the FBI’s hacking.

      Rule 41 imposes jurisdictional limitations on the FBI’s hacking attempts — something the DOJ is trying (and succeeding, so far) to have changed. But the hacking goes both ways. Not only does the FBI go cruising past US borders while tracking down Tor users accessing seized child porn servers, but law enforcement agencies in other countries are doing the same thing — and raising the same questions.

    • Bulk data collection by MI5, MI6 and GCHQ is warranted, says terrorism watchdog

      Bulk collection and analysis of data by MI5, MI6 and GCHQ is relevant and worthwhile for national security, according to an in-depth report by the Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation, David Anderson QC.

      Prime minister Theresa May has already used the report as proof that the Draft Investigatory Powers Bill, despite widespread criticism, is necessary to boost the UK’s ability to fight crime and terrorism.

      The 192-page report was headed by Anderson and a team he chose free from government involvement. It did not look at the legal and privacy aspects of bulk data collection and analysis, only whether it served a purpose for the operations of the security agencies.

    • Terror plot foiled “in its final few hours” after spooks hack attackers’ phones and emails

      A terrorist cell poised to attack Britain last year was foiled at the 11th hour after online spooks hacked their phones and emails, a dramatic new report has revealed.

    • GCHQ spies given enhanced hacking powers — what are they and should we be worried?

      British spies at GCHQ, MI5 and MI6 have effectively been given the green light to continue their mass spying operations around the world after a fresh independent review into bulk surveillance powers found ‘no viable alternative’ to the current regime.

      Compiled by David Anderson QC, the hefty 200-plus page report was commissioned by Prime Minister Theresa May while in her previous role of home secretary.

    • GCHQ Details Cases of When It Would Use Bulk Hacking
    • UK terror-law watchdog has given a green light to powers for spy agencies to collect bulk data
    • Internet spying powers backed by review
    • Spy agencies’ love of bulk data set has merit, so Snoopers’ Charter is fair
    • Court Says Man Can Sue Maker Of Web-Monitoring Software For Wiretap Act Violations

      The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals has decided a man whose communications were snagged by commercial spyware can sue the software’s maker for violating federal wiretap law.

      The plaintiff, Javier Luis, became involved in an online relationship with an unhappily married woman. Her husband, Joseph Zang, installed Awareness Technologies’ “WebWatcher” on his wife’s computer in order to keep tabs on her online communications. After discovering his communications had been intercepted, Luis sued the software’s maker (along with the husband, who has already settled with Luis and is no longer listed as a defendant).

      The Appeals Court doesn’t form an opinion on the strength of Luis’s claims — only noting that they’re strong enough to survive dismissal. Awareness Software will be able to more fully address the allegations in the lower court on remand, but for now, the Appeals Court finds [PDF] the software’s “contemporaneous interception” of electronic communications to be a potential violation of the Wiretap Act.

    • The NSA Data Leakers Might Be Faking Their Awful English To Deceive Us

      Nobody knows who’s hiding behind the moniker of The Shadow Brokers, the mysterious group who earlier this week dumped a slew of hacking tools belonging to the NSA. Is it the Russian government? Is it actually a disgruntled rogue NSA insider?

      For now, there’s no hard evidence pointing in either direction. But The Shadow Brokers’ language in their rambling manifesto might give us some clues. In fact, the apparent broken English might just be a ruse, a trick to make us believe the author doesn’t speak the language, according to a linguistic analysis of it.

      “The author is a native English speaker trying to pass himself off as a foreigner,” Jeffrey Carr, CEO of cybersecurity company Taia Global, told Motherboard.

    • Researchers Find “Strong Connection” Between NSA Hackers and Leaked Files

      First detected by Kaspersky Lab back in 2015, Equation Group is a threat actor believed to be working for the NSA. It has leveraged malware campaigns, watering holes, and compromised removable media to conduct cyber espionage against foreign targets presumably on behalf of the United States and Israel.

    • Did The NSA Continue To Stay Silent On Zero-Day Vulnerabilities Even After Discovering It Had Been Hacked?

      The NSA’s exploit stash is allegedly for sale. As mentioned earlier this week, an individual or a group calling themselves Shadow Brokers claims to be auctioning off parts of the NSA’s Tailored Access Operations (TAO) toolkit, containing several zero days — including one in Cisco’s (a favorite NSA TAO target) Adaptive Security Appliance which allows for remote code execution.

      The thing about these vulnerabilities is that they aren’t new. The exploits being hawked by Shadow Brokers date back to 2013, suggesting the agency has been sitting on these exploits for awhile. The fact that companies affected by them don’t know about these flaws means the NSA hasn’t been passing on this information.

      Back in 2015, the NSA declared that it passed on information about vulnerabilities to affected companies “90% of the time.” Of course, this statement contained very few details about how long the NSA exploited vulnerabilities before allowing them to be patched.

      The White House told the NSA to make disclosure the preferred method of handling discovered vulnerabilities, but also gave it a sizable loophole to work with — “a clear national security or law enforcement need.”

    • Eight LinkedIn alternatives for IT professionals: Top professional networks 2016: Professional social networks [iophk: "how about none?"]
    • Cisco Systems to cut 5,500 jobs after reporting 2% drop in revenue

      Cisco Systems is to cut about 5,500 jobs, representing nearly 7% of the US technology company’s global workforce.

      The world’s largest networking gear maker, based in San Jose, California, announced the cuts on Wednesday night as part of a transition from its hardware roots into a software-centric business.

    • I’m 36 and not on Facebook. You probably shouldn’t be either.

      I am 36 years old and am not on Facebook. It’s not that I ever explicitly decided not to sign up, but at first it was easy to avoid. It seemed like another fad that would peak and then fade, like Myspace (remember that?). But Facebook didn’t fade — in fact, it’s become expected — and by not making a decision to join, I made my decision.

      The Facebook Era emerged slowly, at least for me. I grew up when the main function of home computers was for games and word processing, and I remember a line of kids my age snaking out of one neighbor’s dining room to take a turn on the family’s new machine. It was unbelievably exciting — for about a week, until we all became bored and went back outside to play Manhunt or Ghosts in the Graveyard.

      Twenty-five years later, I’m still outside looking for playmates, but the block is empty. Everyone is on Facebook.

      I don’t claim to be above technology: I have a smartphone and two Instagram accounts — one devoted to my collection of vinyl records. I truly do understand the appeal of social networking. It connects people who may otherwise not be connected, and there is a lot to appreciate about that. But I also have a deep affection for the face-to-face interaction.

    • Former NSA Staffers: Rogue Insider Could Be Behind NSA Data Dump

      There are a lot of unanswered questions surrounding the shocking dump of a slew of hacking tools used by an NSA-linked group earlier this week. But perhaps the biggest one is: who’s behind the leak? Who is behind the mysterious moniker “The Shadow Brokers”?

      So far, there’s no clear evidence pointing in any direction, but given the timing of the leak, and the simple fact that very few would have the capabilities and the motives to hack and shame the NSA publicly, some posited The Shadow Brokers could be Russian.

      But there’s another possibility. An insider could have stolen them directly from the NSA, in a similar fashion to how former NSA contractor Edward Snowden stole an untold number of the spy agency’s top secret documents. And this theory is being pushed by someone who claims to be, himself, a former NSA insider.

      “My colleagues and I are fairly certain that this was no hack, or group for that matter,” the former NSA employee told Motherboard. “This ‘Shadow Brokers’ character is one guy, an insider employee.”

    • EU to crack down on online services such as WhatsApp over privacy

      WhatsApp, Skype and other online messaging services face an EU crackdown aimed at safeguarding users’ privacy, in a move that highlights the gulf between Europe and the US in regulating the internet.

      The European commission will publish a draft law on data privacy that aims to ensure instant message and internet-voice-call services face similar security and privacy rules to those governing SMS text messages, mobile calls and landline calls.

      Jan Philipp Albrecht, a German Green MEP and prominent campaigner on data privacy, said: “It was obvious that there needs to be an adjustment to the reality of today. We see telecoms providers being replaced and those companies who seek to replace them need to be treated in the same way,” he said.

      According to a draft policy paper seen by the Financial Times, the likes of WhatsApp, owned by Facebook, and Skype, owned by Microsoft, would have to abide by “security and confidentiality provisions”.

    • Where Are NSA’s Overseers on the Shadow Brokers Release?

      Whatever else the release of the tools did (and I expect we’ll learn more as time goes on), it revealed that NSA has been exploiting vulnerabilities in America’s top firewall companies for years — and that whoever released these tools likely knew that, and could exploit that, for the last three years.

      That comes against the background of a debate over whether our Vulnerabilities Equities Process works as billed, with EFF saying we need a public discussion today, and former NSA and GCHQ hackers claim we ignorant laypeople can’t adequately assess strategy, even while appearing to presume US strategy should not account for the role of tech exports.

      We’re now at a point where the fears raised by a few Snowden documents — that the NSA is making tech companies unwitting (the presumed story, but one that should get more scrutiny) or witting partners in NSA’s spying — have born out. And NSA should be asked — and its oversight committees should be asking — what the decision-making process behind turning a key segment of our economy into the trojan horse of our spooks looks like.

      Mind you, I suspect the oversight committees already know a bit about this (and the Gang of Four might even know the extent to which this involves witting partnership, at least from some companies). Which is why we should have public hearings to learn what they know.

      Did California’s congressional representatives Dianne Feinstein, Adam Schiff, and Devin Nunes sign off on the exploitation of a bunch of CA tech companies? If they did, did they really think through the potential (and now somewhat realized) impact it would have on those companies and, with it, our economy, and with it the potential follow-on damage to clients of those firewall companies?

    • UK terror-law watchdog has given a green light to powers for spy agencies to collect bulk data

      POWERS that allow spy agencies to harvest bulk data were today given the go-ahead by the UK’s terror-law watchdog.

      In David Anderson QC’s report, published this morning, he said there was a “proven operational case” for most of the controversial methods of data collection.

      Prime Minister Theresa May welcomed the findings claiming it showed how the powers, which she is currently trying to cement in legislation, are of “crucial importance” to MI5, MI6 and GCHQ.

      But critics raised concerns over whether the Government would follow all of the report’s recommendations, and raised the prospect of blocking them in the House of Lords if they are not happy.

      Mr Anderson was asked earlier this year to evaluate the case for the tactics, which are included in the landmark Investigatory Powers Bill.

    • Bulk data collection vital to prevent terrorism in UK, report finds

      The bulk collection of personal data by British spy agencies is vital in preventing terrorist attacks, an independent review of draft security legislation has found.

      David Anderson QC, the independent reviewer of terrorism legislation, concluded that laws giving MI5, MI6 and GCHQ the right to gather large volumes of data from members of the public had a “clear operational purpose”.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Theresa May urged to vote against Saudi Arabia remaining on Human Rights Council over abuses

      Politicians and campaigners will demand Theresa May vote against Saudi Arabia remaining on the UN Human Rights Council after a year which saw the country’s government savagely bomb Yemen, commit vast numbers of beheadings, a mass execution and detain activists.

      Their call, on World Humanitarian Day, comes ahead of a critical UN vote on whether Saudi Arabia retains its seat. Controversy over the matter has increased since the Saudi Ambassador was also given a key role on a panel related to the council.

      But despite the repeated and well publicised atrocities of the Middle Eastern state, UK ministers still refuse to say whether they will back the kingdom or not.

    • An Iranian woman won an Olympic medal for the first time in history

      Kimia Alizadeh Zenoorin made history yesterday, Aug. 18, as the first Iranian woman to ever win an Olympic medal. She took the bronze for Iran in taekwondo, beating Sweden’s Nikita Glasnovic.

    • When I Was a Kid in Sherman Park, There Were Problems With Police. Now It Feels Like a Police State.

      The neighborhood was one of the most diverse places in the city. My brother and I played with the lawyer’s kids across the street, and we swung on the swing of the photographer next door while he cleaned his classic Excalibur. The East Indian kids living opposite us were some of my best friends growing up. Their dad was a bank examiner and their mother was my brother’s English teacher. We hung out with the Latino family two doors down after their daughter Elizabeth’s Quinceanera. There were a few police officers’ families per block in the old neighborhood and a few judges and an alderman too. Most of them were Black.

    • Walmart’s Out-of-Control Crime Problem Is Driving Police Crazy

      Officer Walmart to his colleagues in the Tulsa Police Department—operates for up to 10 hours a day out of the security office of a Walmart Supercenter in the city’s northeast corner. It’s a small, windowless space with six flatscreen monitors mounted on a pale blue cinder-block wall, and on this hot summer day, the room is packed. Four Walmart employees watch the monitors, which toggle among the dozens of cameras covering the store and parking lot, while doing paperwork and snacking on Cheez Whiz and Club Crackers. In a corner of the room, an off-duty sheriff’s officer, hired by Walmart, makes small talk with the employees.

    • Scottish Soccer Fans Fly the Flag For Celtic, For Justice, For Palestine

      Defying a ban on political or “provocative” demonstrations by the European governing soccer body UEFA, hometown Scottish fans waved a sea of Palestinian flags at a playoff game between their Glasgow Celtics and Israel’s Hapoel Be’er-Sheva to express solidarity with Palestinians and opposition to the Israeli Occupation. The action by fans of the Celtic club, which grew from Irish Catholic working class communities and their fight against British colonialism in Northern Ireland, is the latest in a decades-long history of supporting Palestinian rights through groups like the Scottish Palestine Solidarity Committee, Celtic Fans for Palestine, No2BrandIsrael, and Palestine Alliance. The Alliance organized this week’s demonstration, distributing the flags and leaflets on the Nakba, urging Celtic fans to support the BDS movement, and arguing that “football, UEFA and Celtic are being used to whitewash Israel’s true nature and give this rogue state an air (of) acceptance it should not enjoy.”

    • The Global Ambitions of Pakistan’s New Cyber-Crime Act

      Despite near universal condemnation from Pakistan’s tech experts; despite the efforts of a determined coalition of activists, and despite numerous attempts by alarmed politicians to patch its many flaws, Pakistan’s Prevention of Electronic Crimes Bill (PECB) last week passed into law. Its passage ends an eighteen month long battle between Pakistan’s government, who saw the bill as a flagship element of their anti-terrorism agenda, and the technologists and civil liberties groups who slammed the bill as an incoherent mix of anti-speech, anti-privacy and anti-Internet provisions.

    • Actress Amber Heard Donates Millions to Support ACLU Work Fighting Violence Against Women

      Actress Amber Heard announced yesterday she will give the American Civil Liberties Union half of her $7 million divorce settlement to support our work fighting violence against women. The other half of the settlement will be donated to the Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles.

    • Woman Sues After Police Destroy Her Home During 10-Hour Standoff With The Family Dog

      When the only thing standing between law enforcement and a suspect they’re seeking is a person’s home, well… the home’s got to go.

      As seen previously here at Techdirt, police officers pretty much razed a residence to the ground searching for a shoplifting suspect. In another case, law enforcement spent nineteen hours engaged in a tense standoff with an empty residence before deciding to send in a battering ram.

      Another standoff — currently the center of a federal lawsuit — stands somewhere in between these two cases. The house wasn’t completely empty or completely destroyed. But that still doesn’t make the Caldwell (ID) police look any more heroic… or any less destructive.

    • Declassified justice: Gitmo lawyer explains CIA censorship of clients

      President Barack Obama’s recent release of 15 prisoners from Guantanamo Bay marked the largest single transfer yet. However, as the US loosens its clutches on some detainees, the CIA’s grip on keeping them silent remains tight as ever.

    • Unmasking Misinformation, Disinformation and Propaganda: NSA Interrogation Officer – A Postcard From Guantanamo Bay

      From the Snowden Archives published by The Intercept come the internal newsletters of the NSA’s most important division, the Signals Intelligence Directorate (SID). These particular documents called ‘SIDtoday’ are internal newsletters given to the vast number of NSA employees as a way of communicating the perceived importance of their work and, no doubt, like many internal company newsletters to keep up employee morale. They provide an intriguing insight into their work from the perspective of those on the inside.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • U.S. says transfer of internet governance will go ahead on Oct. 1

      The U.S. will go ahead with its plan to hand over oversight of the internet’s domain name system functions to a multistakeholder body on Oct. 1, despite fierce opposition from some lawmakers and advocacy groups.

      The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), under contract with the U.S. Department of Commerce, operates the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) which enables the operation of the internet domain name system (DNS). These include responsibility for the coordination of the DNS root, IP addressing and other internet protocol resources.

      The National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), an agency within the Commerce Department, said in March 2014 that it planned to let its contract with ICANN expire on Sept. 30, 2015, passing the oversight of the functions to a global governance model. NTIA made it clear that it would not accept a plan from internet stakeholders that would replace its role by that of a government-led or intergovernmental organization or would in any way compromise the openness of the internet.

      The transfer was delayed to September as the internet community needed more time to finalize the plan for the transition. The new stewardship plan submitted by ICANN was approved by the NTIA in June.

    • US: We’re now ready to give up our role governing the internet

      The US says it is ready to transfer its role in administering the internet’s naming system to a multiple stakeholder group on October 1.

    • BT signs 5G research deal with Nokia

      BT HAS STRUCK a deal with Nokia over the research and development of 5G technologies, with the two companies already collaborating to test Nokia’s latest 5G kit at BT Labs at Adastral Park in Martlesham, near Ipswich.

      The agreement between the two companies will also include the development of proof-of-concept trials around 5G technologies, and the development of standards and equipment that could be used for 5G networks.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Trademarks

      • After the split: so is it HP, Hewlett Packard, Hewlett Packard Enterprise or what?

        In that connection, this Kat recently met an acquaintance, who has a long-time connection with the company. Over a cup of coffee, this Kat innocently asked: “So which HP company do you now work for. And who is running the company”? My acquaintance fumbled his response to both questions, before ultimately coming up with the correct answers. As Kat readers may be aware, the former Hewlett-Packard Company has split into two separate companies. The then existing company changed its name to HP Inc. and retained the company’s personal computer and legacy business (with its ticker remaining HPQ), while a new company was created, called Hewlett Packard Enterprise Co. (with its ticker symbol “HPE”) and consisting of four divisions—Enterprise Group, Services, and Software and Financial Services. In May 2016, it was announced that Hewlett Packard Enterprise would sell its Enterprise Services division to Computer Sciences Corporation. This transaction is to be completed by March 2017; in the meantime, it does not appear that a name has been chosen for this new company.

      • Seven scenarios for EU trade marks post-Brexit

        The Institute of Trade Mark Attorneys has mapped out seven possible options to prevent the loss of registered rights in the UK when the country leaves the EU

    • Copyrights

      • Recording Industry Whines That It’s Too Costly To Keep Copyright Terms At Life Plus 50, Instead Of Life Plus 70

        Okay. I’ve heard lots of crazy arguments from the record labels, but I may have found the craziest. We’ve discussed how ridiculous it is that the TPP includes a provision saying that every country that signs on must make sure the minimum copyright term is life plus 70 years. This will impact many of the countries that negotiated the agreement, which currently have terms set at life plus 50. This was a key point that the recording industry and Hollywood fought hard for. When even the Copyright Office recognizes that life plus 70 is too long in many cases, the legacy industries recognized that getting copyright term extension through Congress in the US might be difficult — so why not lock stuff in via international agreements?

      • Judge grants Happy Birthday lawyers $4.6M, citing “unusually positive results”

        The attorneys who moved the song Happy Birthday into the public domain will receive $4.62 million in fees, according to a judge’s fee order (PDF) published Tuesday. The amount, which equals one-third of a $14 million settlement fund, was granted over objections by the defendant, Warner/Chappell.

        After various billing deductions, US District Judge George King found that a “lodestar” payment of about $3.85 million was appropriate. King then added a multiplier.

        “Given the unusually positive results achieved by the settlement, the highly complex nature of the action, the risk class counsel faced by taking this case on a contingency-fee basis, and the impressive skill and effort of counsel, we conclude that a 1.2 multiplier is warranted,” wrote King.

        Five lawyers billed the “vast majority” of the hours, charging rates that varied between $395 per hour and $820 per hour. The most work was done by Randall Newman, who billed 2,193 hours at $640 per hour. King found the rates were all reasonable given “the cases cited, the National Law Journal survey, and our own experience.”

      • Arrrgh! I Speak With the Pirate Party of Iceland

        The audience was remarkably well-informed on whistleblower issues, with questions not only about high-profile folks like Ed Snowden and Chelsea Manning, but also important whistleblowers like Tom Drake, Bill Binney, John Kiriakou, and Jeff Sterling, who may not be as well known to many Americans.

        There was also among the people present an overt fear of the direction the United States continues to head, beyond the symptoms of Hillary and Trump. The endless wars of the Middle East progulated and/or encouraged and supported by the U.S., the global pestilence of the NSA, and the lashing out of America against Muslims and human rights were all of deep concern.

      • BREIN Tracks Down Facebook Music Pirate, Settles for €7,000

        Anti-piracy group BREIN has tracked down a prolific cyberlocker uploader who shared pirated music in a dedicated Facebook group. The man agreed to sign a €7,000 settlement and left the group, which shut down soon after. In addition, Facebook closed several other groups that were focused on sharing copyright infringing links.

      • Kim Dotcom & John McAfee “At War” Over Megaupload 2.0 Revelations

        Kim Dotcom has made a surprise announcement relating to his under-development Megaupload 2.0 project. The entrepreneur informs TorrentFreak that John McAfee’s MGT Capital Investments offered to invest $30m plus stock into the business but it soon became clear that the aim was to drive up the stock price at MGT. Now, it appears, McAfee and Dotcom are at war.

      • Court To Prenda’s John Steele: Okay, Now We’ll Sum Up How Much You Cost Taxpayers And Need To Pay

        When last we left John Steele, one of the dynamic duo behind the massive copyright trolling scam once known as Prenda Law, he was being scolded by the 7th circuit appeals court (not the first appeals court to do so), for failing to abide by the court’s own advice to “stop digging.” But digging a deeper and deeper hole has always been in John Steele’s nature, it seems. As we’ve mentioned in the past, Steele reminded me of a guy I once knew, who incorrectly believed that he was clearly smarter than everyone else, and thus believed (incorrectly) that he could talk and lie his way out of any situation if he just kept smiling and talking. That generally doesn’t work too well in court — especially when you’re not actually that smart.

        In that July ruling, the court upheld most of the money Steele and Paul Hansmeier were told to pay, and scolded them for directly lying about their ability to pay. It referred to Steele’s “entire pattern of vexatious and obstructive conduct.” However, as we noted, Steele kinda sorta “won” on one point, though even that win was a loss. One of the arguments that Steele’s lawyer had made was that on the fine that the lower court gave him for contempt, the basis for that fine appeared to be under the standards for criminal contempt rather than civil contempt. Way back during oral arguments, the judges on the panel had asked Steele’s lawyer, somewhat incredulously, if he was actually asking the court to push this over to be a criminal case rather than a civil one, and Steele’s lawyer answered affirmatively.

        And so, the court notes that the contempt fine “falls on the criminal side of the line,” because “it was an unconditional fine that did not reflect actual costs caused by the attorneys’ conduct.” So it tossed out the $65,263 fine, but noted that criminal contempt charges might still be filed (out of the frying pan, into the fire). Oh, and of course, it left open the idea that the lower court might go back and actually justify civil contempt fines. And it appears that’s exactly what Judge David Herndon in the Southern District of Illinois has done. He’s ordered Steele to show cause for why he should not be fined, and then details the basis for such a fine.

      • Anti-Piracy Firm Rightcorp Continues to Lose Big Money

        Piracy monetization firm Rightscorp continues to lose money. Revenue over the most recent quarter has dropped significantly compared to last year and the company is still miles away from turning a profit. Instead of generating more money from alleged pirates, Rightscorp must set aside $200,000 to settle accused file-sharers it allegedly harassed.

      • Hold On… We May Actually Be In For A THIRD Oracle/Google API Copyright Trial

        This does not mean that there absolutely will be a third trial, but it’s at least more of a possibility than most observers thought possible. I honestly don’t see how Android on Chromebook really matters for the fair use analysis. Oracle argues that since most of the talk on the market impact was limited to phones and tablets, that may have impacted the jury, but that’s kind of laughable. The reality is that Oracle just wants another crack at a decision it disagrees with.

      • Mexican Government Officials Have Press Creds Withdrawn From Olympics Over Uploaded Cell Phone Footage

        We’ve been detailing the ridiculous lengths the IOC and other Olympics organizations go in bullying others with their super special intellectual property protections. It’s always quite stunning to watch an event supposedly about fostering international cooperation and sporting devolve into a mess of commercial protectionism, speech-stifling threats, and the kind of strong-arm tactics usually reserved for members of organized crime groups.

        But I will give these Olympic goons credit: they appear to consider their bullying a matter of principle, deciding not to go any easier on an entire group of Mexican government officials because one of them uploaded one video of one Mexican athlete to a social media account.

08.19.16

Patents Roundup: Trolls Dominate Litigation, PTAB Crushes Patents, Patent Box Regime Persists, and OIN Explains Itself

Posted in America, Microsoft, OIN, Patents at 11:46 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: Another roundup of patent news from around the Web with special focus on software patenting

THE USPTO is problematic for quite a few reasons, chiefly or primarily the low patent quality (especially in recent years). When there’s no quality control, as was increasingly the case under Kappos, patents cease to be respected and people resort to filing lawsuits and fighting in courts, which is an expensive process (small companies would just settle out of court, even if they know they can win the case).

“As Suntory and Asahi settle their patent dispute over non-alcoholic beer,” wrote MIP the other say, “John A Tessensohn surveys the state of litigation in Japan, and compares it with the United States” (where litigation is extremely high in frequency).

It is worth taking stock of who’s suing with patents in the US. “Of the 19 patent lawsuits filed today,” United for Patent Reform wrote some days ago, “16 were filed by patent trolls — 84%. It’s time for Congress to take action to #fixpatents!”

It has been estimated recently that nearly 90% of all technology patent lawsuits are now filed by patent trolls. Most of them use software patents. In other words, in the absence of software patents, there would be far fewer trolls and lawsuits.

Speaking of trolls, the EFF’s Elliot Harmon tackles an old problem which is universities selling their patents by the tons/bucketloads to patent trolls (Microsoft’s patent troll Intellectual Ventures, quite notably compared to other entities, buys them and then shakes companies down with these patents, which were originally earned thanks to taxpayers’ money/investment). Here is what Harmon wrote:

When universities invent, those inventions should benefit everyone. Unfortunately, they sometimes end up in the hands of patent trolls—companies that serve no purpose but to amass patents and demand money from others. When a university sells patents to trolls, it undermines the university’s purpose as a driver of innovation. Those patents become landmines that make innovation more difficult.

A few weeks ago, we wrote about the problem of universities selling or licensing patents to trolls. We said that the only way that universities will change their patenting and technology transfer policies is if students, professors, and other members of the university community start demanding it.

It’s time to start making those demands.

Well, many demands should be made, even here in Europe. The system is unregulated, so it has been evolving along the lines large corporations and their patent lawyers demand, not the public good. Watch this new article about the “Patent Box Regime”, which is a tax evasion scam/scheme (Microsoft does a lot of that), using patents as loophole. “It relates to income that arises from patents, copyrighted software, and, in the case of smaller companies, other intellectual property that is similar to an invention that could be patented,” according to this article from Tax News.

“The system is unregulated, so it has been evolving along the lines large corporations and their patent lawyers demand, not the public good.”That’s probably too much for small companies to apply for, as is often the case when it comes to Ireland as a notorious tax haven. To quote: “The regime is only available to the companies that carried out the research and development, within the meaning of section 766 of the Taxes Consolidation Act 1997. The guidance provides definitions of a qualifying company, a qualifying asset, and profits arising from exploiting the qualifying asset. It also explains the extensive documentation requirements that must be complied with to claim relief under the KDB.”

We wrote about this subject many times before. There’s no indication that European authorities are doing anything at all to stop this abuse.

Speaking of Microsoft, a Microsoft promotion site says that PTAB, abolisher of many software patents, has just come to Microsoft’s rescue. “Personalized Home Page patent troll threatening Microsoft, Google and others squashed by appeal court,” says the headline. To quote:

Bloomberg Legal reports that the Patent Trial and Appeal Board has invalidated a patent held by B.E. Technology LLC for a Personalized Internet User Interface or home page which dates back to 1998 and which the company was using against Google, Microsoft and 6 other companies.

B.E. Technology filed 11 lawsuits accused smartphones and tablets of infringing their patent, but also included a wide variety of other devices, including Microsoft Xbox 360 consoles.

Google , Microsoft, Samsung and Sony all challenged the patent, submitting 5 petitions with the Patent Trial and Appeal Board, and was eventually able to show that a 1996 patent covered all of B.E. Technology’s claims, rendering it invalid.

Speaking of PTAB, Michael Loney wrote a couple of articles (from New York) about the latest figures. He is presenting some graph about big growth in post-grant reviews in 2016, but also demonstrates a decline in the first half of year for filings. The “Patent Trial and Appeal Board filing so far this year is down on 2015,” he notes (as he did before). However, another graph is presented in this article. It says that “Post-grant review petition filing this year is already higher than the whole of 2015, with biopharma companies leading the way.” The part about the decline says this: “The 826 petitions filed in the first six months of the year was the lowest half-year figure since the 730 filed in the first half of 2014 while the PTAB’s appeal was taking hold.”

It’s not entirely clear (yet) if PTAB will grow fast enough to ever overwhelm all software patents, or most patents which Alice effectively invalidates. The patent microcosm just keeps attacking PTAB’s legitimacy, with shameless smears too.

A theme we found in the news today [1-3] was patents of pharmaceutical giants (often referred to, collectively, as Big Pharma). It is common knowledge that Big Pharma are to a large degree subsidised by the US government (i.e. taxpayers), consistently to the tune of tens of billions of dollars per year (this number too is common knowledge), yet all money and patents go to private hands. Talk about injustice! Here is a new comment regarding one of these new articles:

It seems the new patentability landscape post-Alice, Myriad and Mayo is taking shape
- Alice really meant that computer implemented inventions were only patentable in as far as they related to the working of a computer somehow, and so business methods and mental acts are unpatentable inventions
- Myriad and Mayo could could not have meant all inventions relating to natural products and laws were not patentable, and products in particular which are different from nature and have practical uses remain patentable
- Mayo remains a bit of mystery until the Federal Circuit approves an invention based on a natural correlation. Sequenom shows it is difficult to get broad claims where any sort of natural correlation is involved and so diagnostic inventions remain in limbo.

In an age when patents are foolishly treated like money [4] and the patent microcosm spreads tired old myths about patents (marketing) [5] it’s only to be expected that reduction in patents would be portrayed as a loss to “innovation” or something along those lines. Shelston IP, the self-serving propagandists (for their own pocket) who lobby for software patents down under [1, 2] can again be found in the media [6]. They still try to change New Zealand’s patent law so as to allow software patenting. They don’t care about programmers, they just want to tax programmers.

In the US, software patents are somewhat of a passing fad. It doesn’t mean that nobody applies for them and even gets granted some. According to this new article about an acquisition, “Denning noted that AppFirst also has a number of patents around the architecture of its agents.” Additionally, this other new article says that “several patents related to the technology behind their picking system.”

This sounds like software patents, but software patents are rather useless when it comes to litigation as courts typically reject those nowadays. This new article states about CAFC (where software patents very rarely survive scrutiny) that “[i]t is also a reminder that, for the Federal Circuit, the underlying patent and prior art documents represent the most important evidence available in a patent validity dispute.” Well, that’s just common sense and any courts ought to consider that aside from Alice (in the circumstances of allegedly abstract patents).

Another new article says that “Bose holds several patents on this technology…Bose also improved the sound silencing software.” Regarding BlackBerry, which is becoming somewhat of a patent troll nowadays, this article says that “Blackberry [is] slowly fading into obscurity when it comes to the handset market, it makes sense the company would turn to its software, patents, and enterprise expertise as a way to keep the company afloat.”

Nowadays, as we correctly predicted, BlackBerry is a troll (PAE). It is even filing lawsuits down in Texas, as we noted earlier this month. Some of these patents are on software, some on hardware, and some on networking. And speaking of which, there is this new article (behind paywall) about Internet Protocol (IP) patents. The summary says: “Fluent in both types of IP: Scott Bradner has been an architect of intellectual property (IP) policy for internet protocol (IP) standards. He played a core role in the development of internet protocol, leading to the very digital revolution we know today, as well as the next generation IPv6, all the while designing intellectual property policy to go along with it. Here is an interview with Bradner.”

The Internet is supposed to be open to all. Just like the World Wide Web, it should be free from patents (less true today than it was at its genesis, for reasons we covered in past years), so the notion of so-called ‘IP’ on IP (Internet Protocol) is troubling. So is the notion of a ‘FOSS’ group which is open to software patents. OIN, for instance, was created by companies that are not against software patents but wish to minimise risk of being sued. Deb Nicholson, who moved to OIN from the Free Software Foundation, defends OIN as follows. From an interview published earlier today:

The Open Invention Network — OIN, as its friends call it — “is a defensive patent pool and community of patent non-aggression which enables freedom of action in Linux.” That’s what it says (among other things) on the front page of the organization’s website. Basically, if you join OIN (which costs $0) you agree not to sue other members over Linux and Android-related patents, and in return they promise not to sue you. Google, IBM, and NEC are the top three members shown on OIN’s “community” page, which lists over 2,000 members/licensees ranging from Ford to one-person Android app developers.

Today’s interviewee, Deb Nicholson, is the group’s community outreach director. One description of her says she “blurs the line between professional and punk rock,” which is a very cool line to blur. She travels a lot and speaks at a lot of conferences.

She used to work for the Free Software Foundation. You may have heard of them. It is less likely, however, that you know about OIN. But you should, because it does hugely valuable work in keeping the slimy jaws of patent trolls away from innocent FOSS developers and users. If you’re an OIN member and a nasty software patent beast comes after you, they risk the wrath of… well, not “The Wrath of Khan,” but of running afoul of one of the many thousands, possibly hundreds of thousands, of patents held by OIN’s many members.

That’s hardly the solution at all. Just hoarding software patents and putting them in a very large pool — no matter how large — does not rid us from the actual menace. It’s like stockpiling weapons to make one secure from other groups with a large arsenal. Mutual disarmament of all groups, or invalidation of software patents, is the solution. Nicholson’s previous employer, the Free Software Foundation, ‘gets’ that.

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. Bad and Good News for Bio-Pharmaceutical Patenting in the United States

    Two recent developments in U.S. patent law mean mixed news for the bio-pharmaceutical industry. First, the bad news — the U.S. Supreme Court declined to accept for review the closely-watched Ariosa Diagnostics v. Sequenom case concerning the patentability of a diagnostic method. Second, the good news — a panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit issued the Rapid Litigation Management v. Cellz Direct decision further clarifying application of the two-step Alice/Mayo test (1. claim directed to a patent ineligible category and 2. lack of inventive concept) concerning laws of nature.

  2. The ‘Cancer Moonshot’ May Succeed — If We Don’t Weaken Patent Protections [Opinion]

    Earlier this summer, the Patent and Trademark Office created an expedited review process for certain patent applications covering “immunotherapies” — new cancer treatments that re-engineer the body’s immune system to attack tumors. Within days, the National Institutes of Health rejected a petition that urged the agency to use “march-in” rights to effectively take back the patent on a prostate cancer drug: It would’ve had a chilling effect on the development of new drugs if such blatant government overreach was implemented.

  3. The Downfall Of Invention: A Broken Patent System

    It’s time to restore the U.S. patent system to its original purpose – to protect and incentivize invention, not innovation. There’s a difference. Innovation is the investment in the commercialization of inventions. Just because a company invests money to commercialize a drug does not mean it has invented a new drug. This is where today’s patent system is broken. If we continue to muddle innovation with the patent system’s original purpose of invention, we will continue to hand out 20 years or more of monopoly power to companies for the same science over and over again and keep paying higher drug prices. Instead of incentivizing a race to the top, we are pursuing a policy of a race to the bottom. Only with genuine inventions can true medical innovations flourish and support both society’s health and a strong drug development pipeline.

  4. Thailand Enforces Law To Promote IP As Loan Collateral, Amends Trademark Law To Raise Penalty For Deception

    Thailand has enforced a new law to promote using intellectual property as loan collateral, an effort likely to make intellectual property a more valuable asset for its holders. But experts caution that the country still lacks the infrastructure of a viable IP market.

  5. Your Ultimate Guide to Applying for a Patent
  6. The Patents Act 2013 creates legislative space (as distinct from impetus) for a New Zealand innovation patent

    A New Zealand “innovation patent”? Unlikely, but watch this space nonetheless. The popularity of Australia’s innovation patents regime has been well documented. Although it is not without its faults, has been prone to certain unintended outcomes and has recently gained some high-profile critics, the Australian innovation patents regime has arguably been relatively successful in stimulating R&D activity (innovation) amongst Australian small-to-medium enterprises (SMEs).

The Cost/Toll of the ‘New’ EPO and Where All That Money Goes or Comes From

Posted in America, Europe, Patents at 10:43 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Staff of the European Patent Office (EPO) has essentially become ‘collateral’

A clawback
Reference: Clawback

Summary: The European Patent Office has become a servant of the rich and powerful (including large foreign corporations) and even its own employees now pay the price associated with misguided new policies (or ‘reforms’ as Battistelli habitually refers to these)

THE race to the bottom at the USPTO famously resulted in a rather defunct system — a problem officially (if not belatedly) recognised by GAO. It is now famous for patent trolls and the systematic crushing of startups (euphemistically associated with innovation). The status quo may be reasonably OK and generally acceptable for large corporations with a dedicated legal department. It’s also perfectly fine for patent law firms because when more patents get granted and there is more litigation, more money will inevitably flow their way. They are, in essence, the tax in the system or those who pocket the majority of the damages (or collateral damage).

“The status quo may be reasonably OK and generally acceptable for large corporations with a dedicated legal department.”The EPO under Battistelli is marching down the same path. It wants us to believe that the more patents, the merrier (or the more innovation). In practice, rich countries like Switzerland can better pursue (or afford to pursue) more patent applications. The system is more accessible to them because its costs are less prohibitive compared to east Europe (where the per-person salary/capital is vastly lower). Sweden is another example of this and The Local plays along in this marketing plot/ploy. What are the writers thinking and why are they doing this? The EPO did it with them a few months back, repeatedly even (when the so-called ‘results’ came out). Now they are claiming that Swedish people are “stronger [for] score in patent families [and] drives its upward movement.”

“patents != innovation,” told us a Scandinavian reader. It’s the person who sent this to us. Why are we still seeing these myths spread so widely? And why are we supposed to totally ignore intentionally hidden correlations like cause and effect (in reverse), which suggest perpetuation of monopolies and domination by means of services that are priced out of reach (to most)? That’s a rather broad discussion we covered here many times in the past.

“In return for this ‘service’, much compensation/pension money is promised (not offered) and guess who foots the bill.”In reality, the EPO currently discriminates against smaller member states and increasingly favours large corporations from other nations/continents. In return for this ‘service’, much compensation/pension money is promised (not offered) and guess who foots the bill. As the comment below put it: “The member states have agreed to foot the bill for the pensions. But this is on paper, and for pensioners the only addressee is the EPO. If the EPO unilaterally lowers the pensions, what is the recourse: at the end the ILO AT. In other words a dead end. If the EPO claims it has no money, it cannot be condemned to print it.”

As we stated before, there is apparent clawback already. Here is the comment in its entirety — a comment which was posted in relation to a long discussion about the promise of benefits to EPO staff (past, present and future):

One should not become paranoiac and think that money could go some political party in France. This is going too far.

It is however not the first time that the shear value of the RFPSS has given some appetite to the AC. In drawing out money out of the fund, the procedural fees could be kept constant for quite a while, if not lowered drastically. Then, with more crap patents granted as suggested in Berlin, more annual fees would come in. Who would be the beneficiaries? The member states, especially those with a lot of patents validated. The only unknown, but not one to be neglected is that the attitude of the users. I doubt they need a European patent, unitary or not, which is of the same level of the US one.

On the other hand, if the fund is constantly under performing, then it might not be worth keeping it. And we are back on the thoughts above here, why not simply use it to compensate procedural fees. This could be the ball starting rolling.

The member states have agreed to foot the bill for the pensions. But this is on paper, and for pensioners the only addressee is the EPO. If the EPO unilaterally lowers the pensions, what is the recourse: at the end the ILO AT. In other words a dead end. If the EPO claims it has no money, it cannot be condemned to print it. Nobody would ever lift a finger for a cast of privileged employees of an international organisation. That is exactly the position taken by one of the President’s minions, the PD Personal, Mrs Bergot to name her. They profited for a long time of lots of niceties and it is time for them to bleed…

It might sound far fetched as well, but such a hidden agenda would not surprise me from the President and its advisers.

Battistelli’s history as a public [sic] servant [sic] suggests that as a Republican with no empathy he’ll promise anything to get his way and even lie for some “greater good” (in his own mind). As one recent example of Battistelli’s “greater good”, consider his lobbying for the UPC, crackdown on quality control (of patents), and sending away of the boards — a move which is now being confirmed by the local media in Munich. To quote this new translation from SUEPO [PDF] with highlights in yellow (particularly where we are cited):

Munich’s European Patent Office may be planning a move to Haar

The European Patent Office in heart of Munich simply won’t settle down.

(Photo: dpa)
Advert

- According to SZ sources, the European Patent Office may be planning to transfer a department from Munich’s Inner City to Haar.

- The move to new premises, with a floor area of 11,000 square metres, would affect 200 personnel.

- A power struggle has long been raging within the Office, at the heart of which is the President Benoît Battistelli. Critics are concerned about his stringent reforms.

By Bernhard Lohr, Munich/Haar

Plans are clearly afoot at the European Patent Office in Munich to relocate the legal departments. The whole situation needs to be viewed in the context of a major reform of the legal structure, which the Member States of the European Patent Office Organization only decided on in June.

According to ZS sources, the Boards of Appeal, to which appeals can be lodged against decisions taken by the European Patent Court, are to be relocated to Haar. This will involve more than 200 employees, and an office surface area of 11,000 square metres.

Storm in the Glass House

The European Patent Office still will not settle down: New internal investigations aimed against staff representatives are causing concern – and upset. Because the Office’s own investigation department is overstretched, word has it that crisis specialists from London have been brought in to look into allegations of bullying. Katja Riedel has more …

No-one will officially confirm what is going on. Staff at the Real Estate Department of the Bavarian Insurance Chamber, which owns the office complex known as “8inOne” in Haar-Eglfing, standing empty now for a good two years, are keeping the name of the incoming tenants very much to themselves. The European Patent Office speaks of decisions which are
still pending. The local authorities will only refer to a well-known “non-profit organization” which will be coming to Haar. According to an internal E-mail, which is in the possession of the SZ, this is the European Patent Office.

In the Internet blog Techrights, contributors who are manifestly very well-informed about the inner life of the European Patent Office in Munich, are already engaged in intensive discussion about the move to the edge of the Bavarian capital.

Advert

Stringent reforms, suspensions, defamation: A power struggle is raging in the Patent Office

A power struggle has been raging for a long time within the Patent Office, with its 4000 employees in Munich alone, at the centre of which is the President, Benoît Battistelli. His opponents are opposing the stringent reforms he is seeking to introduce so as to streamline the Office. Battistelli recently suspended a patent judge, who according to the distribution of power should not have been subordinate to him, which in turn caused further upset in the Office. According to an internal investigation, the man is supposed to have used aliases in order to wage a defamation campaign against the President. The accused disputes the accusations.

A possible move to Haar is also being seen by staff members in this light. The word on Techrights is that this is a way of sending disgruntled personnel from the legal departments into “exile”; talk is of money being spent like water, and that personnel without much space should be taking priority.

According to insiders, the move is a done deal

Word has it, too, that staff in the departments affected, which are still sitting in the main building near the Isartor, have already been informed of the forthcoming move to Haar-Eglfing. The search for a suitable location for the Boards of Appeal is said to have involved eleven buildings in the general Munich area.

The closeness to the City and the airport, the actual fixtures and fittings of the building, and the easy access by public transport, are also supposed to have given the address at Richard-Reitzner-Allee 8 in Haar the edge in the search – “in the South-East of Munich”, as they say. According to the information on Techrights, the tenancy agreement is supposed to have already been signed as soon as the Finance Committee of the Patent Office approved the plan in October. The move is supposed to take place in July 2017.

Uprising against the Sun King

Staff at the European Patent Office in Munich are taking to the streets against their boss, Benoît Battistelli: He regards his people as of little consequence, and could even prevent
strikes. And that could mean that he is contravening European human rights. More from Katja Riedel and Christopher Schrader … Report

This matches up with what a spokesman from the Patent Office has been saying, who of course is not going to let anything slip about the move to Haar. Rainer Osterwalder says that the organization is “currently looking into possibilities for a new service building for its Boards of Appeal in Munich and the surroundings”. Once the “technical preparations” have been concluded, more formation will be forthcoming. The separate building is supposed to highlight the independence of the Boards of Appeal in the Patent Office Organization.

This issue is also said to have been discussed in the early part of the year with Bavarian Justice Minister Winfried Bausback. He is said to have been convinced that by having a separate building of their own for the Boards, the significance of Munich and Bavaria as focal points in Europe for patent legal procedures can be strengthened still further. On the other hand, it looks as if this positive view is not entirely shared by all the staff at headquarters.

Rainer Osterwalder refuses to just admit the obvious, but he begrudgingly acknowledges what the journalists were able to independently corroborate/confirm based on documents they saw. Where does that leave quality control, appeals, and oppositions? Well, far away from Battistelli, ‘sheltered’ in tighter offices with fewer members of staff and an uncertain future. A new article by Matthew Pinney from software patents proponents and lobbyists at Marks and Clerk (part of the patent microcosm that preys on EPO policies under Battistelli, including the UPC) was published in some of their media circles this week [1, 2]. It speaks of opposition procedures as follows:

The European Patent Office (EPO) opposition procedure allows any person to challenge the validity of a European patent within nine months of its grant. Oppositions are a commercially astute method for revoking others’ patents as an alternative or addition to court proceedings. However, the opposition procedure has historically taken up to three years after grant to reach a decision – even for ‘straightforward’ cases. Whilst a decision is pending, there is legal uncertainty for all parties.

On 1 July 2016, the EPO introduced a streamlined opposition procedure that simplifies the procedure so that opposition proceedings can be brought to a faster conclusion. The aim is that the Opposition Division will reach a decision within two years from grant. This is achieved by imposing reduced time limits on both the patent proprietor and the EPO.

Once an admissible opposition has been filed, the EPO invites the patent proprietor to respond with observations and any amendments to the patent. The streamlined procedure reduces the response time limit from six months to four months except in exceptional circumstances.

They are basically rushing things, which guarantees that quality will be further exacerbated/eroded/reduced and the service will prioritise profit over merit.

It’s sad to see the EPO repeating all those famous mistakes of the USPTO — mistakes that I spent over a decade writing about. Battistelli is certainly aware of the consequences of reduction in patent quality, but as we shall show in a later article, he denies it using his de facto think tanks.

“No amount of gloss can cover institutional rot and when the public discovers the rot, everyone suffers, including ordinary members of staff in the rotting institution.”Not only EPO staff is under attack from merciless and misguided management. Staff of WIPO too has been complaining and severely punished for that. Watch one who has just moved from human rights to WIPO, a serial violator of human rights. To quote IP Watch, “years ago Kwakwa also moved from UNHCR to WIPO, according to his bio. In the role of WIPO legal counsel, Kwakwa took a role once held by now-Director General Francis Gurry, and became known by some for his equanimity, knowledge, and an almost uncanny knack for navigating difficult situations that others could not.” With some very gross violations of human rights in there (under Gurry), one might wonder what Bontekoe is thinking here. It’s like the time the EPO hired Jana Mittermaier from Transparency International. No amount of gloss can cover institutional rot and when the public discovers the rot, everyone suffers, including ordinary members of staff in the rotting institution. Unless Battistelli is stopped, everyone at the EPO will suffer. This is why staff representatives are so sceptical of him. They too are eager to save the Office.

Links 19/8/2016: Linux Mint With KDE, Linux Foundation’s PNDA

Posted in News Roundup at 5:24 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • Desktop

    • Windows 10′s upgrade model temporarily wipes $1.6B from Microsoft’s books

      the distribution and maintenance of Windows 10 put a $1.6 billion temporary dent in its revenue, the company said Thursday.

      In a filing covering the March quarter, Microsoft pointed to the revenue deferral of Windows 10 — a relatively new way of accounting for the Redmond, Wash. company — as a reason for the 6% year-over-year decline in revenue.

      “Revenue decreased $1.2 billion or 6%, primarily due to the impact of a net revenue deferral related to Windows 10 of $1.6 billion and an unfavorable foreign currency impact of approximately $838 million or 4%,” Microsoft’s 10-Q filing with the U.S. Securities & Exchange Commission (SEC) stated.

      The $1.6 billion in Windows 10 revenue during the March quarter didn’t actually vanish: It was instead deferred and will hit the bottom line over the next two to four years.

  • Kernel Space

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

      • KDE Applications 16.08 Officially Released for the KDE Plasma 5.7 Desktop

        Today, August 18, 2016, KDE has had the great pleasure of announcing the availability of the final release of KDE Applications 16.08, the latest stable and most advanced software suite for the KDE Plasma 5.7 desktop environment.

      • KDE Applications 16.08 Released, Canonical Becomes A Patron
      • Canonical Becomes a Patron of KDE e.V.

        KDE and Canonical’s Ubuntu have collaborated for years. Today we celebrate the extension of this collaboration with the addition of Canonical to the KDE Patrons family, as part of the corporate membership program.

      • Canonical Is Now a Patron of KDE, as Part of the Corporate Membership Program

        Immediately after releasing KDE Applications 16.08, KDE was proud to announce that Canonical, the company behind Ubuntu, one of the world’s most popular GNU/Linux distributions, has become a patron of KDE e.V..

        KDE e.V. is the non-profit organization that represents the KDE Community and produces the modern and widely-used KDE Plasma desktop environment, along with the KDE Applications and KDE Frameworks suits of KDE software and libraries. KDE is known to have worked with Canonical’s Ubuntu for many years, and they’re happy that Canonical decided to extend this collaboration and join the KDE Patrons family, as part of the corporate membership program.

      • Plasma 5 is coming

        The KDE edition of Linux Mint 18 just passed QA and should be available as BETA this weekend.

      • Plasma Release Schedule Updated
    • GNOME Desktop/GTK

      • Confessions of a command line geek: why I don’t use GNOME but everyone else should

        Despite what tablet- and phone-loving pundits say, the laptop is here to stay. When a user wants to watch a movie on a train, they reach for the tablet first. But if they want to do actual, real work, they still prefer the laptop.

        Meanwhile, software freedom should always be for everyone, not just technical users and software developers. The GNOME project was one of the first in this history of Free Software to realize this, and seek to create a free software desktop that truly allowed everyone to enjoy the software freedom that those of us had already happily found with Bash and Emacs (or vi :) years before.

        This keynote will discuss why GNOME remains best poised to deliver software freedom to everyone, how GNOME continues to be the best welcome-mat for those who want software freedom, and why GNOME remains absolutely essential to the advancement of software freedom for decades to come.

      • GUADEC/2

        Once again, GUADEC has come and gone.

        Once again, it was impeccably organized by so many wonderful volunteers.

        Once again, I feel my batteries recharged.

        Once again, I’ve had so many productive conversations.

        Once again, I’ve had many chances to laugh.

  • Distributions

  • Devices/Embedded

    • Forget desktop Linux, build your own $40 Android PC

      I had originally planned to slap some desktop Linux on the Pine 64, but instead I’m sticking with Android. Here’s why:

      The choice of operating system, outside of political ideology, very much depends on what you are going to do on a system. I am going to use this machine as an entertainment hub, to watch movies, listen to music and do some casual gaming. I’m also going to use it for writing work, and maybe for some light image editing. That’s pretty much it. I may install this PC in my kids’ room so they can use it.

    • Open Source RTOS for IoT Gains Support from Lenovo

      To provide an open source solution that complements real-time Linux but keeps critical concerns like security and modularity top-of-mind, we created the Zephyr Project. Zephyr Project is a small, scalable, RTOS designed specifically for small-footprint IoT devices. It is also embedded with development tools and has a modular design so that developers can customize its capabilities and create IoT solutions that meet the needs of any device, regardless of architecture. This enables easier connectivity to the cloud as well as other IoT devices.

    • What I Wish I’d Known When I Was an Embedded Linux Newbie

      Here are some tips compiled from our seasoned engineers on what they wish they’d known about embedded Linux back when they were “newbs”. Newcomers and seasoned veterans alike should get some good nuggets of information and possibly a fun perspective looking back at our own humble beginnings. We’ll try not to overwhelm you as we make our way through the list. We’re not here to rewrite the books, but we do want to provide a personal perspective. If you’re in the camp of people who’ve been using desktop Linux, just be aware that embedded Linux is a different animal, especially when it comes to space constraints, different CPU architecture (ARM), resilience to sudden power outages and inability to install any mainline Linux kernel or distribution you please. Or, maybe you’re in the microprocessor camp moving toward a more generalized and capable embedded Linux system. Either way, we’ll assume you have at least some knowledge of Linux as we walk through this guide.

    • Open source, DAQ-enabled hacking platform feels its inner Arduino

      Agilo’s open source, Arduino Mega compatible “Evive” IoT prototyping and DAQ platform offers a 1.8-inch display, breadboard, analog controls, and more.

      Agilo Technologies, a startup formed by students at the Indian Institute of Technology Kanpur (IIT Kanpur), is pitching its flagship Evive prototyping product on Indiegogo. The company has achieved only 39 percent of its $30,000 flexible funding goal, with less than a week remaining, but it is committed to manufacturing the product and fulfilling orders. The company has already lined up other funding, as well as manufacturing and component suppliers, according to an email from CEO and co-founder Dhrupal R Shah.

    • Open source COM and carriers become 3D-printable computers

      Rhombus Tech’s Allwinner A20 based, “fully libre” EOMA68 COM and carrier boards can be installed in 3D printed mini-PC or laptop cases.

      For the past five years, UK-based Rhombus Tech, led by developer Luke Kenneth Casson Leighton, has been developing a fully open source, removable computer-on-module (COM) in a standardized format known as “EOMA68.” Rhombus has now gone to CrowdSupply to help fund an “EOMA68-A20” module based on Allwinner’s A20 SoC, as well as a mini-PC and a 15.6-inch laptop built around the COM.

    • The top 10 IoT application areas – based on real IoT projects

      As part of a larger effort to track the IoT ecosystem, we set out, mining hundreds of homepages, and managed to assemble and verify 640 actual enterprise IoT projects (Note: We did not include any consumer IoT projects such as wearable devices or hobby projects).

    • This tiny $5 computer is giving the Raspberry Pi a run for its money

      When it comes simple homebrew computers, the Raspberry Pi has been king of the mountain for a long time. The ruler might have some new competition, however, if the wild Kickstarter success of Onion’s Omega2 is any indication.

    • Phones

      • Android

        • Why Google is building a new operating system

          Google is building a new operating system because it wants to move away from Android, a system that, while enabling it to gain market leadership, has given it a fair share of legal and other headaches over the eight years since it first arrived in the market.

        • Oracle says trial wasn’t fair, it should have known about Google Play for Chrome

          Oracle lawyers argued in federal court today that their copyright trial loss against Google should be thrown out because they were denied key evidence in discovery.

          Oracle attorney Annette Hurst said that the launch of Google Play on Chrome OS, which happened in the middle of the trial, showed that Google was trying to break into the market for Java SE on desktops. In her view, that move dramatically changes the amount of market harm that Oracle experienced, and the evidence should have been shared with the jury.

          “This is a game-changer,” Hurst told US District Judge William Alsup, who oversaw the trial. “The whole foundation for their case is gone. [Android] isn’t ‘transformative’; it’s on desktops and laptops.”

          Google argued that its use of Java APIs was “fair use” for several reasons, including the fact that Android, which was built for smartphones, didn’t compete with Java SE, which is used on desktops and laptops. During the post-trial hearing today, Hurst argued that it’s clear that Google intends to use Android smartphones as a “leading wedge” and has plans to “suck in the entire Java SE market.”

        • Google’s Russian Android Antitrust Appeal Just Failed
        • Gartner: Android’s smartphone marketshare hit 86.2% in Q2

          What growth there is left in the smartphone market continues to center on emerging markets where consumers are upgrading from feature phones.

          And that ongoing transition is helping boost Android’s global marketshare, which Gartner pegs at 86.2 per cent in Q2 in its latest mobile market figures.

          But the analyst says Android is not just winning buyers at the mid- to lower-end smartphone segments in emerging markets — with sales of premium smartphones powered by Android up 6.5 per cent in Q2 too.

        • Honor 8 is a high-end Android phone at a mid-range price

          Chinese device maker Huawei unveiled the new Honor 8 smartphone Monday evening during a lavish press event at the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park. The Honor 8 is a good-looking, 5.2-inch Android smartphone aimed at the photography-loving millennial modern marketers droll over. Both sides are made of glass, surrounded by a metal bezel. And the screen takes up almost the entire front of the device, so it offers a lot of real estate.

Free Software/Open Source

Leftovers

  • Health/Nutrition

    • The Navajo, the EPA, and the Accident That Turned a River Orange

      Leaders with the Navajo Nation said they will file a lawsuit against the Environmental Protection Agency for its role in a large mine spill in 2015, which contaminated a major river with 3 million gallons of toxic acid and metals.

      The Navajo Nation joins the state of New Mexico, which filed a suit against the EPA for allegedly causing the spill, known as the Gold King Mine Spill, and against the state of Colorado for not doing more to prevent it. The spill is still under criminal investigation, but a federal report released in April found the EPA at fault. The agency had drilled in the area to install drainage pipes below the Gold King Mine because small amounts of toxic water were flowing into the Animas River.

      In August 2015, while workers contracted by the EPA tried to drain some of the toxic water, a massive blowout sent a mix of arsenic, zinc, lead, and mercury into the river, which turned the waters orange and flowed downstream, depositing more than 888,000 pounds of toxic metals in the water.

    • The Queen and David Attenborough urged to cut ties with charity linked to Finland mining plans

      Environmentalists and indigenous reindeer herders are calling on the Queen, Sir David Attenborough and Stephen Fry to disassociate themselves from a charity contracted to help a mining operation in a national park in Finland.

      Fauna and Flora International (FFI), whose patron is the Queen, has been hired by the British-listed mining company Anglo American to assess the environmental value of Viiankiaapa, a stunning 65 sq km (25 sq mile) habitat for 21 endangered bird species in the Arctic circle.

      The research includes an assessment of whether equivalent land could be offered as “compensation” for wetlands damaged by the extraction of massive deposits of platinum, nickel, copper and gold.

      But Jukka Kaaretkoski, a reindeer herder of Sami ancestry from nearby Kersilö, told the Guardian that the drilling would take a heavy environmental toll and be a “terminal” blow for local herders whose animals graze there.

      “Mines cause traffic, noise, grit, pollution and contamination of water supplies,” he said. “Many young reindeer herders are in danger of losing their future livelihoods because of it. We cannot even plan for the future because of the fear and insecurity. ”

      Riikka Karppinen, a Green party councillor in the local Sodankylä municipality, added: “I think this is colonialism, because the big mining company has come here from another country and we are in too weak a position to protect our homeland.”

      About 90 bird species live in Viiankiaapa – including pygmy owls to broad-billed sandpipers – many nesting amid the bogs and moors that host a variety of endangered plant species.

    • As promised, Aetna is pulling out of Obamacare after DOJ blocked its merger

      Aetna announced Monday that due to grave financial losses, it will dramatically slash its participation in public insurance marketplaces set up by the Affordable Care Act. In 2017, Aetna will only offer insurance policies in 242 counties scattered across four states—that’s a nearly 70-percent decrease from its 2016 offerings in 778 counties across 15 states.

      The deep cuts have largely been seen as a blow to the sustainability of the healthcare law, which has seen other big insurers also pull out, namely UnitedHealth group and Humana. But the explanation that Aetna was forced to scale back due to heavy profit cuts doesn’t square with previous statements by the company.

      In April, Mark Bertolini, the chairman and chief executive of Aetna, told investors that the insurance giant anticipated losses and could weather them, even calling participation in the marketplaces during the rocky first years “a good investment.” And in a July 5 letter (PDF) to the Department of Justice, obtained by the Huffington Post by a Freedom of Information Act request, Bertolini explicitly threatened that Aetna would back out of the marketplace if the department tried to block its planned $37 billion merger with Humana.

      “Specifically, if the DOJ sues to enjoin the transaction, we will immediately take action to reduce our 2017 exchange footprint …. [I]nstead of expanding to 20 states next year, we would reduce our presence to no more than 10 states…” Bertolini wrote.

    • Congress must move beyond partisan politics and act on Zika

      For the past few months I’ve observed with great concern the slow progression of a devastating pandemic. I had hoped that the whole nation would focus its attention on the health crisis as well, but it’s been a distracting year so far. The Zika virus has slowly closed in on American shores. The Center for Disease Control announced that as of last week, 7,350 cases have been reported in the United States and on Puerto Rico.

      I first paid attention to this crisis because of a December 2015 New York Times article about how women were delivering babies in Brazil with microcephaly due to the virus. I approached it analytically – I presumed it was the result of the impact of climate change on the transmission of viruses. Then, when the Zika virus made landfall in Puerto Rico, where I grew up, I became more concerned because of the terrible financial crisis the island was suffering. As it reached stateside and blew through Miami, where I went to graduate school, my concerns have become ever more personal, especially because we are going through a particularly hot and humid summer.

  • Security

    • The pros and cons of open source cyber security

      Open source brings many advantages to enterprises, such as pricing. However, in increasingly security-conscious enterprises it can be unclear how open source software does on cyber security.

      CBR looks at some of the major security pros and cons.

    • CVE-2016-5696 and its effects on Tor

      This vulnerability is quite serious, but it doesn’t affect the Tor network any more than it affects the rest of the internet. In particular, the Tor-specific attacks mentioned in the paper will not work as described.

    • Secure Boot Failure, Response, and Mitigation

      Last week, it became public that there is an attack against Secure Boot, utilizing one of Microsoft’s utilities to install a set of security policies which effectively disables bootloader verification.

    • Static Code Analyzer Reportedly Finds 10,000 Open Source Bugs

      A Russian company behind the PVS-Studio static code analyzer claims to have used the tool to discover more than 10,000 bugs in various open source projects, including well-known offerings such as the Firefox Web browser and the Linux kernel.

    • Linux.Lady the Crypto-Currency Mining Trojan Discovered

      Organizations reliant on Redis NoSQL a most sought after database require re-checking their configurations, security researchers advise. That’s because the Linux.Lady crypto-currency Trojan, which mines digital money, has been discovered as it piggybacks on insufficient out-of-the-box security.

      It is possible that a maximum of 30K Redis servers are susceptible to attack mainly since inadvertent system admins gave them an Internet connection devoid of constructing a password for them in addition to not having Redis secured by default.

    • DDoS protection in the cloud

      OpenFlow and other software-defined networking controllers can discover and combat DDoS attacks, even from within your own network.

      Attacks based on the distributed denial of service (DDoS) model are, unfortunately, common practice, often used to extort protection money or sweep unwanted services off the web. Currently, such attacks can reach bandwidths of 300GBps or more. Admins usually defend themselves by securing the external borders of their own networks and listening for unusual traffic signatures on the gateways, but sometimes they fight attacks even farther outside the network – on the Internet provider’s site – by diverting or blocking the attack before it overloads the line and paralyzes the victim’s services.

      In the case of cloud solutions and traditional hosting providers, the attackers and their victims often reside on the same network. Thanks to virtualization, they could even share the same computer core. In this article, I show you how to identify such scenarios and fight them off with software-defined networking (SDN) technologies.

  • Defence/Aggression

    • Republicans, Democrats alike still level threats at Iran

      The 2015 Iran nuclear deal should have curbed the longstanding bellicose rhetoric coming from Republican and Democratic political leaders toward the Muslim country. Signed by Iran and six other nations (including the United States) and ratified by the United Nations Security Council, the comprehensive agreement contains strict provisions limiting Iran’s nuclear capabilities to well below the threshold necessary to develop atomic weapons and subjects Iran to the most rigorous inspection regime in history. The result has been dramatically reduced regional tensions and the elimination of any potential threat to U.S. national security.

      Despite this, the Republican and Democratic platforms adopted at their respective conventions last month are both more belligerent toward Iran than they were four years ago.

      The Republican platform claims that the U.N.-sponsored and -endorsed treaty was nothing more than “a personal agreement between the President and his negotiating partners and non-binding on the next president.” Despite making it technologically impossible to weaponize Iran’s fissionable material, the platform instead claims that the agreement has somehow enabled Iran to continue to “develop a nuclear weapon.”

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • Is Julian Assange Finally on the Path to Freedom?

      For the last four years Julian Assange has been trapped in an embassy surrounded by police. The New York Times Editorial Board yesterday called for focus on “the serious legal, ethical and security issues” at stake in the case against Assange. We agree.

      Like the underground author that gives Philip K. Dick’s The Man in the High Castle its name, Assange is a writer who disseminates work providing critical insight into readers’ political reality and their collective history. Powerful actors go to great efforts to silence him.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • The Looming Extinction of Humankind, Explained

      For most people, driving with a seat belt tightly strapped around their bodies is a smart habit. Not only is racing down the highway without it illegal—“click it or ticket,” as the slogan goes—but seat belts also “reduce serious crash-related injuries and deaths by about half.” Yet as we’ve previously estimated, your chances of dying in a car crash are at least 9.5 times lower than dying in a human extinction event.

      If this sounds incredible—and admittedly, it does—it’s because the human mind is susceptible to cognitive biases that distort our understanding of reality. Consider the fact that you’re more likely to be killed by a meteorite than a lightning bolt, and your chances of being struck by lightning are about four times greater than dying in a terrorist attack. In other words, you should be more worried about meteorites than the Islamic State or al-Qaeda (at least for now).

      The calculation above is based on an assumption made by the influential “Stern Review on the Economics of Climate Change,” a report prepared for the UK government that describes climate change as “the greatest and widest-ranging market failure ever seen.” In making its case that climate change should be a top priority, the Stern Review stipulates a 0.1 percent annual probability of human extinction.

    • Why Voters Should Be Concerned About Clinton’s Environmental Promises

      Last week, Hillary Clinton issued her plan for economic reform in a speech aimed at swinging working class voters and discrediting Donald Trump’s bombastic promises to lead an “energy revolution.”

      Speaking at Warren, Michigan’s Futuramic Tool & Engineering factory, Clinton painted a different picture of America’s economic engine—instead of evoking a decaying coal industry, the Democratic presidential hopeful propped her platform on the enduring growth of engineering and technology.

      “Some country is going to be the clean energy superpower of the 21st century and create millions of jobs and businesses. It’s probably going to be either China, Germany, or America. I want it to be us! We invent the technology, we should make it and use it and export it, which will help to grow our economy.”

      Clinton’s vows to bolster clean energy can be taken as a panacea to Trump’s fossil fuel fanaticism, but how many of her environmental affirmations are verified by her own political record? When it comes to issues like climate change and renewable energy, Clinton has trumpeted her dedication to support and enact new legislation. But other parts of her legacy, such as her relationship to fracking and the oil lobby, are decidedly less partisan.

    • Zephyr Teachout Challenges Billionaire Right-Wing Donors to Debate

      New York congressional candidate Zephyr Teachout is throwing down the gauntlet to right-wing money men who want to buy elections in secret.

      Teachout, who won the Democratic primary for New York’s 19th district in June, this week challenged hedge fund billionaires Paul Singer and Robert Mercer to a debate in light of their contributions to a super PAC that supports her Republican opponent, John Faso.

      “The voters deserve to hear directly from the billionaires backing John Faso about what they expect to get from him in Congress,” Teachout said. “When someone writes a $500,000 check they don’t do it out of the goodness of their heart. These are people probably trying to buy power, and voters should know who they are and what they stand for.”

      “I’m challenging Paul Singer and Robert Mercer to put your mouth where your money is and debate me directly, not through your mouthpiece,” Teachout said.

    • Are We Feeling Collective Grief Over Climate Change?

      In 1977, I was in middle school in Michigan, and a science teacher shared a tidbit off-curriculum. Some scientists had postulated that as a result of “pollution,” heat-trapping gasses might one day lead to a warming planet. Dubbed “the greenhouse effect,” the image was clear in my 12-year old mind: people enclosed in a glass structure, heating up like tomatoes coaxed to ripen. It was an interesting concept, but something in the very, very distant future.

    • Clashes Halt Work on North Dakota Pipeline

      Work on a 1,154-mile pipeline that would carry oil from North Dakota to Illinois was halted this week near the Missouri River, amid growing confrontations between members of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe and police guarding a construction site.

    • BP oil spill in Great Australian Bight would be catastrophic, modelling shows

      An oil spill from BP’s planned drilling in the Great Australian Bight could affect most of Australia’s southern coastline, shutting down fisheries and threatening wildlife including whales, seabirds and sea lions, new modelling has shown.

  • Finance

    • Uber: “We’ll support drivers” [Ed: Uber is very harmful]

      The head of Uber Finland says the company will support its drivers who run afoul of the law. Uber drivers in Helsinki now potentially face criminal charges if police catch them working for the smartphone-based chauffeur service.

    • Brexit latest: Airports start exchanging less than one Euro for each Pound Sterling

      Certain London airport bureaux de change are now returning less than €1 for each pound offered, underlining how the slide in the value of the sterling since the 23 June Brexit referedum vote is already hitting holidaymakers in the pocket.

      MoneyCorp at Stansted this week offered a rate of €0.9915 and ICE at Luton offered €0.990, according to Caxton FX.

    • Victory For Domestic Workers in Illinois

      The law, which is the result of a five-year campaign by the Illinois Domestic Workers’ Coalition, guarantees nannies, housecleaners, homecare workers and other domestic workers a minimum wage, protection from discrimination and sexual harassment, and one day of rest for every seven days for workers employed by one employer for at least 20 hours a week.

      New York became the first state to pass such a bill in 2010. Since then Massachusetts, California, Oregon, Hawaii and Connecticut have followed suit. Illinois now becomes the seventh state to make basic workplace protections for domestic workers a matter of law. The new law amends four existing laws to include domestic workers.

      [...]

      Now, domestic workers in Illinois will no longer have to face the conditions Melendez faced. They will have a way to fight back, and the state will stand with them. It’s a level of basic protection that domestic workers nationwide should have.

    • New Jersey Legislators Move to Reform Aggressive Student Loan Program

      New Jersey lawmakers have announced a series of measures addressing student debt issues this week, including one bill aimed at reforming the state’s controversial student loan program.

      The measure would require the state agency that administers the loan program to offer income-driven repayment for its struggling borrowers, bringing the loans closer in line with the federal government’s loan program.

      Last month, ProPublica and the New York Times published an investigation into the program, which found that its loans come with onerous terms that can easily lead borrowers to financial ruin.

      Repayment of the state’s loans cannot be based on income and borrowers who face unemployment or economic hardships are given few reprieves. One mother, who co-signed her son’s loans, is still paying off his debt even though he was murdered in January 2015.

    • PayPal Stops A Payment Just Because The Payee’s Memo Included The Word ‘Cuba’

      Earlier this year, we discussed how a Treasury Department watchlist under the purview of the Office of Foreign Assets Control was mucking up all kinds of legitimate business because some partakers in said business had scary sounding (read: Islamic) names. Everyone began referring to this watchlist as a “terrorist watchlist”, as most of the stories concerned people, including American citizens, who either have names that are close to the names of terrorist suspects worldwide or because certain banks can’t tell when someone is writing the name of their dog in the memo section, mistaking that name for the name of an Islamic terror group, because why not?

      But as it turns out, this hilariously frustrating example of bureaucratic ineptitude isn’t limited to global terrorism. It also apparently applies to decades old embargo rivalries, too. Mark Frauenfelder details a wonderful story about how his wife, a book editor, used PayPal to pay for a book review about Cuba, only to have the payment suspended and the notices from PayPal begin to fly.

    • With Republicans Backing Away From TPP, Does It Still Have Any Chance?

      We’ve pointed out before how topsy turvy things have become with the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement lately, and it seems to be getting even more weird, but not for any good reason. As we’ve pointed out dozens of times now, actual free trade is a good thing for the world — but the TPP agreement has very, very little to do with free trade. There are certainly some good things in the TPP when it comes to trade, including some stuff on helping protect the free flow of information on the internet, but it is significantly outweighed by numerous problems with the agreement that seem to have little to do with actual free trade and plenty to do with certain industries putting in place protectionist/mercantilist programs that are, in many ways, the opposite of free trade. The two areas that we’ve discussed at great length are the intellectual property section, which will force countries to ratchet up their laws (which runs against free trade) and the problematic corporate sovereignty provisions, that allow foreign companies to effectively block regulations that may make perfect sense for certain countries.

      Historically, the way political support for trade deals in the US works breaks down as follows: Republicans support the deals strongly, with a simplistic mantra of “free trade is good, any free trade agreement must be good.” They don’t care much about the details (other than if a big company in their region wants some protectionist nugget in the agreement). Meanwhile, the majority of Democrats oppose the agreements, but again, often for simplistic and protectionist reasons. But, there are always a few “moderate” Democrats (i.e., Democrats who recognize free trade is actually a good thing overall) who support free trade and that’s enough to get the deals passed. That’s mostly how the TPP situation played out for the past few years.

      Then the insanity of the 2016 Presidential election hit and everything went sideways.

      On the Republican side, you’ve got Donald Trump, who is opposed to the TPP, but mainly because he doesn’t understand international trade at all, and ridiculously seems to believe that everything is a zero sum game, and any trade agreement that helps other countries means we’re “losing.” The TPP is bad, but not for the reasons Trump thinks. And then you have Hillary Clinton, who had always been in the Democratic clump that supported free trade agreements, and who has always supported the TPP, despite now pretending not to. That’s because Bernie Sanders was very much against it (also for mostly the wrong reasons!) and feeling pressure from the success of his campaign, she felt the need to come out against the TPP to avoid losing to Bernie.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Jill Stein: I will have trouble sleeping at night if either Trump or Clinton is elected

      Green Party presidential nominee Jill Stein said Wednesday she doesn’t believe either mainstream candidate is fit for the White House, brushing aside criticism that her bid could help elect Donald Trump.

      “I will have trouble sleeping at night if Donald Trump is elected. I will also have trouble sleeping at night if Hillary Clinton is elected. And as despicable as Donald Trump’s words are, I find Hillary Clinton’s actions and track record is very troubling,” said Stein, sitting alongside her running mate Ajamu Baraka at CNN’s Green Party town hall event.

      The third-party candidate blasted the logic that voters should discount her candidacy, and citing her opposition to money in politics, Stein said that her party stood alone on the national scene totally independent of corporate influence.

    • Trump Presents Menacing Prospect, But We Cannot Forget What’s Already Happening

      Stories like those Farea encountered in his attempts to provide a voice to the victims of America’s drone operations have continued to emerge. In February of 2015, Mohammed Tuaiman, a 13-year-old Yemeni, was killed in a drone strike — the same way his father and teenage brother were killed years earlier.

    • How a Question’s Phrasing Hobbles Third Parties

      By asking Americans who they expect to vote for rather than who they want to be President, pollsters skew the numbers in favor of major-party candidates and help exclude third-party challengers from crucial debates, notes Sam Husseini.

    • Make America Russian Again (Video)

      Animator Mark Fiore offers his take on Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump’s ties to Russia and Vladimir Putin in his latest clip. Watch the animation and read Fiore’s thoughts on the subject below.

    • Trump says he’ll be known as ‘Mr Brexit’ despite poor poll showing – politics live
    • As Clinton woos Republicans, Sanders’ faithfuls fear they will be forgotten

      On a quiet, tree-lined street in this town with a population of just over 1,000, a lone yard sign bearing the name of Bernie Sanders serves as a faint reminder of the Vermont senator’s grassroots movement.

      It is the home of Missey Bower, a special education professional, who cast her vote for Sanders in the Pennsylvania Democratic primary and helped the senator carry the working-class Wyoming County in which her modest, one-storey home sits across from a public library.

      But it was Hillary Clinton who claimed victory in the state and ultimately the contest for the Democratic party’s presidential nomination. And Bower is precisely the kind of voter Clinton must still persuade in her favor with 81 days remaining until election day.

    • Trump has made it clear exactly who should be barred from the US: himself

      In his major policy speech on foreign policy delivered yesterday in the battleground state of Ohio, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump finally made it clear who exactly should be barred from the United States: himself.

      The candidate plainly stated that “those who do not believe in our constitution, or who support bigotry and hatred, will not be admitted for immigration into the country”. Since Trump, who is known to have expressed bigoted and hateful opinions about Mexicans and Muslims, and who has repeatedly demonstrated a tenuous grasp of the constitution, already resides in the United States, I assume he will opt for Mitt Romney-style self-deportation.

    • For real progressives, Jill Stein is now the only choice

      The stakes of Wednesday night’s CNN Green party town hall were high – third-party candidates are rarely allowed entry into the corporate media universe, which thrives on the false narrative that only two parties exist here in the United States.

      This was perhaps the only opportunity the presidential candidate I have endorsed – Jill Stein – and her running mate, Ajamu Baraka, to have the ear of a large portion of the mainstream American electorate. There was little room for error.

      They spent little time directly criticizing Donald Trump. This was a wise move, since virtually no one among Stein’s potential base of support is considering Trump as a viable option. Instead, she focused on Hillary Clinton.

      At a moment where the Clinton campaign is still attempting to secure the support of frustrated Bernie Sanders primary voters, Stein demonstrated that Clinton’s brand of liberalism does not represent the tone or spirit of the Sanders campaign. By highlighting Clinton’s pro-corporate politics and active role in hawkish foreign policy, Stein raised considerable doubt about Clinton’s leftist bona fides.

    • Class Action Lawsuit Against Debbie Wasserman Schultz Moves Forward

      In June, the hacker Guccifer 2.0 released internal Democratic National Committee (DNC) documents proving the DNC treated Hillary Clinton as their nominee before the primaries even began. Not long after these revelations came to light, the law firm Beck & Lee filed a class action lawsuit against now-former DNC chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz and the DNC on behalf of Bernie Sanders supporters.

      The suit includes six claims: fraud, negligent misrepresentation, deceptive conduct, monetary restitution for donors of Sanders, the DNC breaking its own fiduciary duties, and negligence for failing to protect sensitive donor information that was hacked. Beck & Lee noted the lawsuit was a way to give a voice to Sanders supporters who were silenced by the rigging of the primaries for Clinton. Attorneys Jared Beck, a Harvard Law graduate, and Elizabeth Beck, a Yale Law School graduate, have previously filed successful lawsuits against Yelp, Unilever, Korea Airlines, and fraudulent real estate investors.

      The July WikiLeaks release provided further evidence that the DNC actively worked against Sanders, yet the Vermont senator’s supporters have received no recompense. The damage control used to divert from the content of these emails portrayed criticism of Clinton as a Russian conspiracy. While the mainstream media has devolved into an apparatus to funnel messaging and talking points directly from the DNC and Clinton campaign, the litigation for this class action lawsuit has been moving forward.

    • Anarchist group installs nude Donald Trump statues in US cities

      A nude statue of Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump without testicles was taken down on Thursday after causing quite the stir in New York’s Union Square.

      The anarchist group INDECLINE erected the statue, titled The Emperor Has No Balls, overnight Thursday.

    • The Green Party Ticket: Obama Murdered Citizens And Terror Suspects ‘From The Sky’

      Thursday on “The Alan Colmes Show,” Alan sat down with both 2016 Green Party candidates for president and vice president, Dr. Jill Stein and Ajamu Baraka, about their chances to defeat the two major party candidates, as well as a challenge from Gov. Gary Johnson and Gov. Bill Weld on the Libertarian Party ticket. Dr. Stein and Ajamu also told Alan why voters shouldn’t trust Hillary Clinton, why they think the Green Party will be left out of the debates, and why they think President Obama has failed at foreign policy:

      COLMES: Where do you differ from the Democratic Party? DR. STEIN: We overlap a lot in terms of what Hillary says, but it’s what Hillary does is the question. Hillary’s track record is for favoring the banks and hurting everyday people like destroying the social safety net, the aid to families with dependent children, Hillary Clinton led the charge, they led the charge for NAFTA which sent our jobs overseas, the led the charge for Wall Street deregulation that led the way to the meltdown of nine million jobs and five million homes.

    • Meet Ajamu Baraka: Green VP Candidate Aims to Continue the Legacy of W.E.B. Du Bois & Malcolm X

      The Green Party’s vice-presidential nominee Ajamu Baraka is a longtime human rights activist. He is the founding executive director of the U.S. Human Rights Network and coordinator of the U.S.-based Black Left Unity Network’s Committee on International Affairs. For years, Baraka has led efforts by the U.S. Human Rights Network to challenge police brutality and racism in the United States by bringing these issues to the United Nations.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • When algorithms become politics

      Are Facebook, Google, and Twitter politically biased? The jury seems to be out on that one. But one thing is clear – Facebooks algorithms do have political consequences.

      It’s very simple: If enough people flag a Facebook post as offensive, it will automatically disappear. If this happens frequently, a user or a group can be banned from the platform – sometimes forever.

    • Peter Thiel’s Self-Serving New York Times Column

      Peter Thiel has no regrets about pouring millions of dollars of his own money into the legal fight that bankrupted Gawker Media. “I am proud to have contributed financial support,” Thiel wrote in The New York Times on Monday, “… and I would gladly support someone else in the same position.”

      Thiel says he spent about $10 million to help Terry Bollea—the wrestler better known as Hulk Hogan—sue Gawker for having published, without his consent, a video that showed him having sex with his then-friend’s wife. Hogan ultimately won his case. Gawker, facing a $140 million judgment, filed for bankruptcy.

      Many have noted that there are few characters to root for in this saga. Gawker’s decision to publish the Hogan tape is questionable at best, regardless of whether you consider Hogan to be a public figure. The media company is known for its brashness, and has made several widely-condemned editorial decisions in its 14-year history. Thiel references these in his column for the Times, and it’s hard to argue that some of what Gawker has done—like outing Thiel, who is gay—is anything but despicable. But Thiel’s involvement in the Gawker fight is about much, much more than a personal vendetta. (Perhaps I should note here that I wrote a regular column about internet hoaxes for Gawker in 2014, and that the editors I worked with were consistently sensitive, smart, and receptive to even minor concerns about tone and fairness.)

    • In Malaysia, Humor Is No Laughing Matter

      His office has been raided, his employees arrested and his books banned. His last publisher worked at night, unwilling to take a sample of his previous work, lest it be discovered. Yet political cartoonist Zulkiflee Anwar Ulhaque, known to most as Zunar, refuses to put down his pens, providing cartoon commentary on the Malaysian government.

      Zunar has been charged with nine counts of Malaysia’s Sedition Act for social media posts criticizing the Federal Court’s decision to uphold the sodomy conviction of Anwar Ibrahim, the ruling party’s main political rival. Yet, despite facing a possible 43 years of jail time, the award-winning cartoonist continues to encourage what he says is the safest and most-powerful form of protest: laughter. “There’s no law to stop you from laughing,” points out the cartoonist during an interview in his office in the Malaysian capital.

      The cover of his latest book portrays Prime Minister Najib Razak as a swashbuckling pirate. The prime minister is shown wielding a bag of 2.6 billion Malaysian ringgit, representing the $731 million the U.S. Justice Department alleges he received illicitly from the public investment fund he oversees.

    • Thought police

      Here is the full interview I did recently for RT about the announcement of a new section of the UK Metropolitan Police dedicated to hunting down “internet trolls”.

    • ‘Censorship’ and editing

      And so, just to get it on the record, let us state categorically that the Compass never will refuse to publish a reader’s submission simply because it does not accord with our own views. As we say in the newspaper business, “Period. Full stop.”

    • Steven Tyler Responds to Disney Ride Censorship

      Less than a day after word got out that a hand gesture made by Steven Tyler had been digitally removed from a ride at Walt Disney World, the Aerosmith singer has responded. Today, he posted two answers to the theme park on social media.

      “Well now I am in ‘shock,’ he wrote on Facebook, while wearing an NSFW hat. “You know I would own up to this doozie. Way to give me the finger now Walt Disney World…17 years later…See you next week…Here’s to the greatest ride at Disney.”

    • Remains of the Day: Twitter’s New Filter Aims to Remove Trolls From Your Notifications
    • Twitter Suspends Hundreds Of Thousands Of Terrorist Accounts, Gives Everyone Its ‘Quality Filter’

      As for the removal of terrorist accounts, this still feels kind of pointless. Twitter talks about how it’s getting faster at removing these accounts, and they’re not able to build up many followers before they’re shut down again, making Twitter a less useful platform for terrorist or terrorist supporters to use. But, again, if we think about Twitter as a protocol like email or a system like the telephone, this feels… weird. No one’s clamoring for “we must stop ISIS from making phone calls.” Besides, the intelligence community has said, repeatedly, that they get good intel from watching ISIS’ social media activity. Shutting down their accounts may seem like a good thing (no one wants ISIS using their technology…), but what if it’s actually making it more difficult for the intelligence community to track them?

    • Instagram Bans Gun Company after Owner Criticizes Facebook

      When Facebook came under fire last week for banning various pro-Second Amendment pages without explanation, it appears the social-media giant may have sought retribution.

      Last week, the owner of a firearms-parts company called “Tactical Sh*t” logged onto Facebook to discover his company’s page had been taken down without explanation. After he spoke with others in the gun industry, T. J. Kirgin discovered that multiple other pro-Second Amendment pages had also been mysteriously banned.

      Immediately, Kirgin spoke out against what he alleged to be Facebook’s censorship, and, within 36 hours, his company’s page was restored. Since that time, Kirgin has continued to make media appearances telling his side of the story. But now, he believes that decision has cost him. As soon as he came off the air yesterday, Instagram, which is owned by Facebook, banned Tactical Sh*t, taking away a stream that accounts for 20 percent of Kirgin’s total revenue.

    • St. Charles gear, gun parts store riled by Instagram takedown
    • Sensitivity is bordering on censorship

      On Monday, Ellen DeGeneres, a comedian and television show host, posted a doctored photo on social media of her riding on the back of the fastest man on earth, Usain Bolt.

      “This is how I’m running errands now”, the message, posted on Twitter by DeGeneres, stated.

      While many found this funny, some immediately called her racist and responded to her Tweet with vows that they would boycott her show. Really? Obviously I’m not a black man, and I’m quite aware of our nation’s terrible history in terms of slavery and the atrocities committed against black people, but at some point, we have to move beyond past mistakes and quit looking for excuses to stereotype each other.

    • U.S. slams crackdown, arrests of activists in Azerbaijan
    • Azerbaijan: Renewed human rights crackdown ahead of referendum
    • Indian Censorship Will Be Dead In 100 Days
    • Top 10 instances of video game censorship
    • Amos Yee’s case sent back for trial to continue
    • Teenage blogger Amos Yee back on trial on eight charges
    • Accused teen blogger Amos Yee wants more time to prepare questions for own defence
    • Youth who restrained teen blogger charged
    • Youth charged with using criminal force on Amos Yee at Jurong Point
    • Man charged with using criminal force on Amos Yee at Jurong Point
  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Canadian Law Enforcement Admit — And Then Deny — They Own A Stingray Device

      Combined with the previous statement, it appears as though Edmonton PD superintendent Terry Rocchio is apologizing for his own words, which certainly gives the appearance of being misinformation. Further statements released by the Edmonton PD claim the department does not own a Stingray but, again, this is at odds with the unexpectedly straightforward statement given to Motherboard in response to its original query.

      Now, it could be that Edmonton law enforcement did the same thing Vancouver’s did and borrowed it from the nearest RCMP bug shop. Or it could be that this is just the Canadian version of playing along with non-disclosure agreements. Most agencies contacted by Motherboard refused to comment. Others refused to confirm or deny. And the one agency that DID say it had a Stingray now says it doesn’t.

      Given the opacity surrounding local law enforcement use/ownership of these devices, it’s probably safe to say they’ve been deployed without warrants and hidden from judges, defendants, and — quite possibly — local legislators. Months or years from now, Motherboard may have a more complete answer, but for now, this appears to be Canadian law enforcement scrambling to stave off some inevitable discoveries.

    • Think Tank Argues That Giving Up Privacy Is Good For The Poor

      With ISPs like AT&T now charging broadband customers a steep premium just to protect their own privacy, the FCC has begun looking at some relatively basic new privacy protections for broadband. This has, as you might expect, resulted in a notable bump in histrionics from the industry. Comcast, for example, quickly tried to inform the FCC that charging users a surcharge for privacy was ok because it would somehow magically lower broadband prices, and banning them from this kind of behavior would do a tremendous disservice to the internet at large.

      Anybody even marginally aware of the lack of competition in broadband understands this is just another attempt to take advantage of captive customers in a broken market. But the broadband industry quickly doubled down, using the usual assortment of payrolled think tanks to pollute the discourse pool. The Information Technology & Innovation Foundation (ITIF), for example, was quick to try and claim that charging all broadband users steep premiums for privacy would generate huge benefits for the entire “internet ecosystem,” and that anybody who couldn’t see the genius of such a practice was an “absolutist.”

    • After the NSA hack: Cybersecurity in an even more vulnerable world

      It is looking increasingly likely that computer hackers have in fact successfully attacked what had been the pinnacle of cybersecurity – the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA). A few days ago, reports began emerging of claims by a hacking group called the Shadow Brokers that it had breached the network of, and accessed critical digital content from, computers used by the Equation Group. This attracted more than the usual amount of attention because the Equation Group is widely believed to be a spying element of the NSA.

    • Here’s why the NSA won’t release a ‘smoking gun’ implicating Russia in these major hacks

      Was Russia behind the massive hack of the Democratic National Committee, or the latest breach of what appears to be the NSA’s elite hacking unit?

      That’s quite possible, but the US National Security Agency is probably not going confirm that — even as former employees proclaim that it can do so, and top US officials say that there is “little doubt” Moscow is involved.

      Former NSA contractor Edward Snowden said on Twitter that “evidence that could publicly attribute responsibility for the DNC hack certainly exists at NSA” with a tool known as XKeyscore, which he previously described as a “one stop shop” for information it collects.

    • Edward Snowden: Russia probably behind NSA leak

      The whistleblower Edward Snowden believes Russia is behind a leak of malware allegedly belonging to the US National Security Agency (NSA).

      Hackers calling themselves Shadow Brokers started an auction for the malware last week.

      The security firm Kaspersky said it believed the original files were from Equation Group, which is thought to be linked to the NSA.

      A former NSA worker Dave Aitel pointed the finger at Russian involvement.

      He said it was likely to be a diplomatic strategy, related to the blame being placed on Russia for a recently revealed hack of computers belonging to the Democratic party in the US.

    • Snowden the movie: a reporter watches the NSA super-leak come back to life

      Oliver Stone looks overwhelmed. It is May 2015, and we are in Munich on the penultimate day of shooting his drama about Edward Snowden. At lunch, the director seems anxious and weary, eyes heavy, shoulders stooped, energy sapped. When the idea of Snowden was proposed, he explains, he had strongly resisted. Then, slowly and reluctantly, he was drawn in. Today, he sounds as if he might regret that decision. There have been problems with finance, with finding distributors, in portraying something as dull as the cyberworld that Snowden inhabits.

      “A director has to say everything is great, things are wonderful,” he says, exasperated. “Every day on a set is a potential disaster. Every day on a film set is the hope that it is turning out well, but the truth is it is just a slog all the way through. It’s the bulldozer going through a treeline. It is not easy. It has never been easy.”

      This film, in particular, was not easy. “Every movie I have made is a challenge. But from day one, every day seems to have its obstacles, whether it is computers or the technology being arcane, difficult to understand, or the character of Snowden, who has a strong, robot, nerd quality. It is a drawback. He is not the active type.” As Stone headed back to the set, his final comment expressed his limited ambition for the movie at that time: “I don’t want to do anything that will hurt Edward Snowden.”

      Almost a year later, I meet Stone again, in London. The tiredness is gone. This is a man full of enthusiasm for life and his movie. The editing has gone well, he feels; the previous week a positive reaction had met an early preview in Idaho – despite his sense of dread.

    • Edward Snowden’s Lawyer Wonders Whether Mass Surveillance Could Harm Democracy

      If you know you’re being watched, you behave differently, right? You’re more performative or cautious, perhaps. What does that do, then, to the future of democracy if we know that mass surveillance is inevitable?

      Edward Snowden’s lawyer, Ben Wizner, is wondering the same thing. Wizner, who works for the ACLU, is the primary player in “A Very Different World,” the fourth installment in Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s five-part documentary series that explores whether today’s technology helps or hurts democracy. The Huffington Post has been premiering the series all week, including a short film about social media’s impact on election rigging in Pakistan and an in-depth look at surveillance’s (in)ability to prevent terrorism.

    • Cisco confirms two of the Shadow Brokers’ ‘NSA’ vulns are real
    • Tech News! US spy agency’s data hacked!
    • Edward Snowden Has Made A Bunch Of Money While Living In Exile
    • Researchers suspect Russian Federation in Shadow Brokers hack
    • NSA blames storm for website outage

      The National Security Agency (NSA) blamed a partial shutdown of NSA.gov on a storm.

      In a tweet Wednesday, the NSA said a storm on Monday near its headquarters in Ft. Mead, Md., knocked the site offline. The outage occurred around 11 a.m. Monday when links from the NSA homepage stopped working, although the homepage itself remained visible. The entire site was back online by late Tuesday afternoon.

    • Was This NSA ‘Hack’ a Russian Plot or an Inside Job?
    • Snowden says Russia ‘probably responsible’ for NSA hack
    • Cisco, Fortinet Warn of Shadow Brokers’ Zero-Day Flaw Risks
    • Is Russia hacking the US election?

      Huge leaks of data from US organisations have been attributed by some to Russia, so has the former Soviet state launched cyberwar on the US elections?

      Hacking tools allegedly developed by the US National Security Agency (NSA) were dumped online by a group calling itself Shadow Brokers.

      It follows a string of recent leaks of data from the Democratic National Committee (DNC).

      There are also now suspicions that the Clinton Foundation, a charitable body, may have been targeted.

    • Cisco remote flaws revealed in NSA group hack

      Networking giant Cisco has said it will release a security update to patch one of two remotely exploitable flaws in its products. Both flaws were leaked following a hack of a group strongly suspected to be an NSA front.

      The company rates this flaw, known as EPICBACON, of which it had no knowledge, as having a high security impact rating and has advised of workarounds until a fix is released.

      It has released a fix for the second flaw, known as EPICBANNA, also remotely exploitable, the risk of which it terms medium. Detailed explanations of the two flaws are on the Cisco blog.

    • Opinion: NSA hack reveals flaws in White House zero-day process

      A potentially damaging hacking tool revealed in the apparent National Security Agency breach includes a zero-day vulnerability – or previously unknown security hole – in Cisco software.

    • Experts have 2 theories for how top-secret NSA data was stolen, and they’re equally disturbing

      In the wake of an unprecedented breach of hacking tools and exploits apparently stolen from the US National Security Agency’s elite hacking unit, experts are offering two competing theories on how it happened — and they’re equally disturbing.

      Some former agency employees believe that the alleged group behind the leak, the “Shadow Brokers,” may have hacked an NSA server that had a top-secret hacker toolkit left there by mistake.

      Others believe that the Brokers may be just a smokescreen for another possibility: an agency mole.

    • How intelligence agencies undermine our computer security

      Computer security exploits are one of the more lucrative markets you’ve probably never heard of. Find a vulnerability in commonly used software, and sell it to the highest bidder. Ideally, the vulnerability is one the software designer doesn’t know about yet — called zero-day exploits — but even vulnerabilities that have been identified and patched can still be exploited — like a lot of us ordinary computer users, many governments agencies and companies don’t keep their software up-to-date or run old versions that are still vulnerable.

    • The NSA Has a New Disclosure Policy: Getting Hacked

      On Monday, when tech executives arrived in their offices, just days after a mysterious group of hackers released what they claimed were a set of NSA hacking tools, a familiar and frustrating pattern was taking shape. America’s premier signals intelligence agency had once again discovered unknown flaws in products used to secure computer networks around the globe, but instead of telling the manufacturers, the NSA pocketed those flaws, like skeleton keys that would let them open doors to others’ networks whenever and wherever they wanted.

    • Cisco patches against “NSA” bacon

      Cisco has patched its software against hacking tools called extra bacon which are believed to have been nicked from the NSA.

      Two of the cyberweapons were trained on Cisco flaws which would allow the spooks to take over crucial security software used to protect corporate and government networks.

      In a statement, Cisco said that it had immediately conducted a thorough investigation of the files released, and has identified two vulnerabilities affecting Cisco ASA devices that require customer attention.

      “On Aug. 17, 2016, we issued two Security Advisories, which deliver free software updates and workarounds where possible.”

    • Smart meters: A timeline of the UK rollout – Energy customers are cynical about the rollout – click through its history [“fails to mention they are insecure and are major privacy violations” -iophk]

      17 August 2016 The rollout of the national smart meter programme has faced yet another setback, with the launch of a new government body called the Data and Communications Company (DCC) delayed by one month.

      The DCC is supposed to be in charge of the overall infrastructure of the smart meter rollout, which intends to install smart meters in every home and business by 2020. Scroll on to slide nine for the latest.

    • Those Hacked NSA Malware Names Are Funny, But Don’t Laugh Too Hard

      What that means is that if you haven’t been hacked, you probably will be—maybe not by the NSA or its front men, but by someone. And not just you, but your company and your school and probably your church, and definitely your country.

    • Alleged NSA data dump contains powerful, rarely seen hacking tools

      A stolen cache of files that may belong to the National Security Agency contains genuine hacking tools that not only work, but show a level of sophistication rarely seen, according to security researchers.

      That includes malware that can infect a device’s firmware and persist, even if the operating system is reinstalled.

      “It’s terrifying because it demonstrates a serious level of expertise and technical ability,” said Brendan Dolan-Gavitt, an assistant professor at New York University’s school of engineering.

      He’s been among the researchers going over the sample files from the cache, after an anonymous group called the Shadow Brokers posted them online.

      Allegedly, the files were stolen from the Equation Group, a top cyberespionage team that may be connected with the NSA.

      The Equation Group likely helped develop the infamous Stuxnet computer worm, and is said to have created malware that can be impossible to remove once installed.

      Already, researchers have found that the hacking tools inside the sample files target firewall and router products and do so by exploiting software flaws – some of which could be zero-day vulnerabilities or defects that have never been reported before.

      On Wednesday, Cisco confirmed that the sample files did contain one unknown flaw that affects the company’s firewall software, and a patch has been rolled out.

    • Sources: Massive Layoffs Coming At Cisco

      Cisco Systems is laying off upward of 14,000 employees, representing nearly 20 percent of the networking giant’s global workforce, according to multiple sources close to the company.

      San Jose, Calif.-based Cisco is expected to announce the cuts within the next few weeks, as many early retirement package plans have already been offered to employees, said sources. Cisco is set to announce its fourth fiscal quarter results after the market closes tomorrow.

      The heavy cuts, which sources said will range between 9,000 and 14,000 employees worldwide, stem from Cisco’s transition from its hardware roots into a software-centric organization.

    • Cisco confirms NSA-linked zeroday targeted its firewalls for years

      Cisco Systems has confirmed that recently-leaked malware tied to the National Security Agency exploited a high-severity vulnerability that had gone undetected for years in every supported version of the company’s Adaptive Security Appliance firewall.

    • Security against Election Hacking – Part 2: Cyberoffense is not the best cyberdefense!

      State and county election officials across the country employ thousands of computers in election administration, most of them are connected (from time to time) to the internet (or exchange data cartridges with machines that are connected). In my previous post I explained how we must audit elections independently of the computers, so we can trust the results even if the computers are hacked.

      Still, if state and county election computers were hacked, it would be an enormous headache and it would certainly cast a shadow on the legitimacy of the election. So, should the DHS designate election computers as “critical cyber infrastructure?”

      This question betrays a fundamental misunderstanding of how computer security really works. You as an individual buy your computers and operating systems from reputable vendors (Apple, Microsoft, IBM, Google/Samsung, HP, Dell, etc.). Businesses and banks (and the Democratic National Committee, and the Republican National Committee) buy their computers and software from the same vendors. Your security, and the security of all the businesses you deal with, is improved when these hardware and software vendors build products without security bugs in them. Election administrators use computers that run Windows (or MacOS, or Linux) bought from the same vendors.

      Parts of the U.S. government, particularly inside the NSA, have “cyberdefense” teams that analyze widely used software for security vulnerabilities. The best thing they could do to enhance our security is notify the vendors immediately about vulnerabilities, so the vendors can fix the bugs (and learn their lessons). Unfortunately, the NSA also has “cyberoffense” teams that like to save up these vulnerabilities, keep them secret, and use them as weak points to break into their adversaries’ computers. They think they’re so smart that the Russkies, or the Chinese, will never be able to figure out the same vulnerabilities and use them to break into the computers of American businesses, individuals, the DNC or RNC, or American election administrators. There’s even an acronym for this fallacy: NOBUS. “NObody But US” will be able to figure out this attack.

    • NSA Use of Software Flaws for Hacking Posed Risk If Exposed
    • NSA’s use of software flaws to hack foreign targets posed risks to cybersecurity

      To penetrate the computers of foreign targets, the National Security Agency relies on software flaws that have gone undetected in the pipes of the Internet. For years, security experts have pressed the agency to disclose these bugs so they can be fixed, but the agency hackers have often been reluctant.

      Now with the mysterious release of a cache of NSA hacking tools over the weekend, the agency has lost an offensive advantage, experts say, and potentially placed at risk the security of countless large companies and government agencies worldwide.

      Several of the tools exploited flaws in commercial firewalls that remain unpatched, and they are out on the Internet for all to see. Anyone from a basement hacker to a sophisticated foreign spy agency has access to them now, and until the flaws are fixed, many computer systems may be in jeopardy.

    • Cisco admits long-standing vulnerability to NSA cyber weapons on some products

      Cisco has confirmed that malware recently uncovered in the Shadow Brokers leak has been available for years, and is able to exploit a serious vulnerability in the firm’s Adaptive Security Appliance firewall.

      Shadow Brokers is a previously unknown group of cyber criminals that recently made available a large cache of weaponised vulnerabilities in high-profile software.

      The vulnerabilities are thought to have been stolen from the US National Security Agency (NSA), which actively seeks security flaws in order to build cyber weapons used to hack corporate and government targets.

      Cisco released a warning to its customers recently, admitting that no patch is currently available to address the flaw.

    • The Shadow Brokers EPICBANANAS and EXTRABACON Exploits

      On August 15th, 2016, Cisco was alerted to information posted online by the “Shadow Brokers”, which claimed to possess disclosures from the Equation Group. The files included exploit code that can be used against multi-vendor devices, including the Cisco ASA and legacy Cisco PIX firewalls.

    • Leak in-house? NSA data dump could be work of insider

      The leak of tools used by the NSA’s elite hacking team has resulted in speculation and finger-pointing in a desperate attempt to identify who could have exposed the government agency’s secrets. But one source says it was an inside job.

      The chances of a hacker remotely breaking into the National Security Agency’s systems are very unlikely, according to an anonymous insider who spoke to Motherboard.

      Despite accusations that the leak is Russia’s meddling, the data dropped online under the name “the Shadow Brokers” would have required someone with the ability to access the NSA’s server, the former NSA employee told the news outlet.

    • Mystery plane heard over GCHQ and Cheltenham in the middle of the night
    • Canadian Court Says No Expectation Of Privacy In SMS Messages Residing On Someone Else’s Phone

      But that’s not what the ruling says. Text messages sent “into the ether” do not lose their expectation of privacy. That would make SMS message content open to interception or seizure without a wiretap order or warrant. The circumstances of the case undercut the claims made in these two soundbites.

      In no way does this create some sort of “Third Party Doctrine” governing the content of text messages. Instead, it simply confirms what should be obvious: that once messages are received, the recipient is free to discuss, expose, or otherwise provide the content to whoever asks for it. The sender is no longer in control of the sent message and cannot claim it is still a private communication.

      An investigation into the trafficking of illegal firearms resulted in the seizure of phones owned by the two suspects. Police performed forensic searches on both devices and found messages implicating both arrestees. One of the suspects challenged the search and seizure of the devices. For the most part, he won.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Innovation policy trends in Latin America: Citizen’s Leadership

      The pressure from activists is widespread through various political practices in Latin America and across the world. Protests and social movements, in more or less traditional formats, are merging with new models, tools and innovative formats; and with networked performances, prioritizing the horizontality and the multiplicity of leaderships.

    • Sweden’s summer spate of car fires continues

      Cars were torched in Malmö for the ninth consecutive night. Emergency services were called out to put out two fires within nine minutes, with one alarm raised at 1.28am and the other at 1.37am.

      “There were two incidents close to each other in time in Malmö, but we had no problems handling both incidents,” emergency control room officer Gustaf Sandell told the TT newswire.

      A resident in the area was able to use fire extinguisher to stop the first fire in the Fosie district from spreading. Another three cars were gutted in Rosengård in the second incident.

      More than 70 cars have been torched in Malmö since early July. Police figures put out earlier this month show that the number of car burnings in the city halved between 2009 and 2015.

    • Canadian Cops Want a Law That Forces People to Hand Over Encryption Passwords

      Encryption tools that keep your digital communications hidden from prying eyes are becoming more widespread, and Canadian police say they need a law that compels people to hand over their passwords so cops can access those communications.

      The Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police (CACP), a lobbying organization with membership from across the country, passed a resolution at its annual conference on Tuesday mandating that the group advocate for a law that would force people to provide their computer passwords to police with a judge’s consent, CTV reported.

      “To say this is deeply problematic is to understate the matter,” said Micheal Vonn, policy director for the BC Civil Liberties Association. “We have all kinds of laws that do not compel people to incriminate themselves or even speak.”

      A law that compels people to give police access to their devices, which may contain messages, photos, and data that have nothing to do with any active criminal investigation, doesn’t fit within Canada’s current legal landscape and would be “tricky constitutionally,” Vonn added.

    • Companies Can’t Legally Void the Warranty for Jailbreaking or Rooting Your Phone

      After I published an article about how electronics manufacturers including Microsoft and Sony illegally void the warranties of consumers who open their devices, I got a flood of emails from people wondering whether federal law protects their right to jailbreak or root their phones.

      The short answer is yes, it does: Under the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act of 1975, manufacturers cannot legally void your hardware warranty simply because you altered the software of an electronic device. In order to void the warranty without violating federal law, the manufacturer must prove that the modifications you made directly led to a hardware malfunction.

      “They have to show that the jailbreak caused the failure. If yes, they can void your claim (not your whole warranty—just the things which flowed from your mod),” Steve Lehto, a lemon law attorney in Michigan, told me in an email. “If not, then they can’t.”

    • Stealing bitcoins with badges: How Silk Road’s dirty cops got caught

      DEA Special Agent Carl Force wanted his money—real cash, not just numbers on a screen—and he wanted it fast.

      It was October 2013, and Force had spent the past couple of years working on a Baltimore-based task force investigating the darknet’s biggest drug site, Silk Road. During that time, he had also carefully cultivated several lucrative side projects all connected to Bitcoin, the digital currency Force was convinced would make him rich.

      One of those schemes had been ripping off the man who ran Silk Road, “Dread Pirate Roberts.” That plan was now falling apart. As it turns out, the largest online drug market in history had been run by a 29-year-old named Ross Ulbricht, who wasn’t as safe behind his screen as he imagined he was. Ulbricht had been arrested earlier that month in the San Francisco Public Library by federal agents with their guns drawn.

    • Russian MP seeks to decriminalise domestic violence

      Tatyana’s stepfather started small.

      At first, he’d get annoyed by things she did. He criticised and lectured her. Soon the lectures stopped and the outrage began. And when the outrage stopped, the hitting started.

      “He just went mad,” said Tatyana, whose name has been changed to protect her identity. “For five years, he beat me and my mother senseless.”

    • Flood destroys home of man who believes floods sent to punish gays

      Amid the horror of floods that have covered southern Louisiana in recent days, a grim note of irony: Tony Perkins, the head of the anti-queer Family Research Council, is among those whose homes are underwater. Perkins believes natural disasters are sent to punish gays.

    • Bad Laws Produce Bad Law Enforcement

      THE POLICE SHOOTING AND KILLING of an unarmed Black teenager named Michael Brown on August 9, 2014, sparked civil unrest in his hometown of Ferguson, Missouri. The weeks that followed brought to a national audience shocking stories of inequity suffered by Ferguson residents at the hands of local law enforcement. The fundamental brokenness of the system seemed to be confirmed when a grand jury refused to indict the police officer who shot Brown. Meanwhile, to suppress public demonstrations, police equipped themselves like an occupying force, treating protestors as an insurgency to be stomped out.

    • Beyond Winning and Losing

      It’s the smallest thing in the world. Does the tennis ball land inside the line or outside? But somehow, as I watched this 60-second YouTube clip of an Australian tennis match last January, and heard an explosion of joyous approval surge from the crowd, I could feel the planet shift.

      Or at least it seemed that way for an instant.

      In the clip, a tennis player named Jack Sock tells his opponent, Lleyton Hewitt, whose serve has just been declared out, that he should challenge the call. A little humorous disbelief bounces around the court, but eventually Hewitt says, “Sure, I’ll challenge it.” A judge reviews the tape and declares that the serve was in . . . and the crowd lets loose an enormous cheer.

      I felt like I could hear the stunned amazement in it. Hurray for integrity! Hurray for . . . what? It was different from the usual hoots and hollers of “our guy wins” or the polite acknowledgement of “nice play.”

    • Where the Green Party’s Jill Stein stands on jobs, taxes and more

      Green Party candidate Jill Stein doesn’t command the kind of crowds and headlines that rivals Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump do. So many voters may not know where she stands on the issues.

      Stein, who is a physician, is set to participate in a CNN Town Hall Wednesday night where she plans to discuss her policies.

      Here’s a look at some of her key economic proposals.

    • The Boy in the Ambulance Offers Glimpse of ‘Profound Horrors’ in Syria

      Laying bare the horrors of Syria’s ongoing civil war, heartbreaking footage of a young boy rescued from the rubble following an airstrike in Aleppo has gone viral.

      Much as last year’s photos of three-year-old Aylan Kurdi—”The Boy on the Beach”—offered a stark reminder of the human toll of the refugee crisis, the images of five-year-old Omran Daqneesh—”The Boy in the Ambulance”—are forcing many to consider the devastating realities of life in war-torn Syria, where more than 250,000 people, including many children, have died in almost five years of war.

      The photo and accompanying video, taken and distributed by the activist group Aleppo Media Centre, show Omran being pulled from a partially destroyed building and placed in a chair inside a brightly lit ambulance after an airstrike Wednesday evening. His face and body are covered in ash, dust, and blood. Seemingly dazed, he says nothing.

    • I Do Jury Duty

      I just wrapped up a couple of days of jury duty.

      Note “jury duty,” which is very different than serving on a jury. I didn’t do that. Being on an actual jury involves making a careful judgment on someone’s life. I did jury duty, which involves waiting and sitting and waiting, while watching your last hopeful images of democracy fade away.

    • Why We Are Publishing Videos the LAPD Wouldn’t Release

      Videos have become a critical aspect of the latest national reckoning with deadly interactions between the police and the public. In New York, an eyewitness recorded Eric Garner’s death at the hands of a police officer who placed him in a chokehold. In Chicago, a reporter successfully forced the police department to release the footage of an officer firing his gun 16 times in the course of killing Laquan McDonald.

    • Videos Surface of a Death in Custody the LAPD Didn’t Want Released

      Early on the afternoon of June 4, 2012, Vachel Howard was handcuffed to a bench inside the Los Angeles Police Department’s 77th Street Station Jail. He was 56 years old, and had been taken into custody for driving while intoxicated. The grandfather of seven had been strip-searched, and his shirt still hung open. Howard told the officers present that he suffered from schizophrenia. Police suspected he was high on cocaine.

      Less than an hour later, Howard was pronounced dead at Good Samaritan Hospital, just miles from the jail. He had been released from the handcuffs, but later subdued by half a dozen officers after he became, by their testimony, “violent and combative.” A coroner eventually listed three contributing causes of death: cocaine intoxication, heart disease, and a chokehold employed by one of the officers.

      Two years of litigation followed before, in October of 2015, the city of Los Angeles agreed to pay Howard’s family $2.85 million to settle a wrongful death claim.

    • The Greatest Threat to Our Freedoms

      There is nothing more dangerous than a government of the many. The U.S. government remains the greatest threat to our freedoms.

      The systemic violence being perpetrated by agents of the government has done more collective harm to the American people and our liberties than any single act of terror.

      More than terrorism, more than domestic extremism, more than gun violence and organized crime, the U.S. government has become a greater menace to the life, liberty and property of its citizens than any of the so-called dangers from which the government claims to protect us.

      This is how tyranny rises and freedom falls.

      As I explain in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People, when the government views itself as superior to the citizenry, when it no longer operates for the benefit of the people, when the people are no longer able to peacefully reform their government, when government officials cease to act like public servants, when elected officials no longer represent the will of the people, when the government routinely violates the rights of the people and perpetrates more violence against the citizenry than the criminal class, when government spending is unaccountable and unaccounted for, when the judiciary act as courts of order rather than justice, and when the government is no longer bound by the laws of the Constitution, then you no longer have a government “of the people, by the people and for the people.”

      What we have is a government of wolves.

      Worse than that, we are now being ruled by a government of scoundrels, spies, thugs, thieves, gangsters, ruffians, rapists, extortionists, bounty hunters, battle-ready warriors and cold-blooded killers who communicate using a language of force and oppression.

      Does the government pose a danger to you and your loved ones?

      The facts speak for themselves.

    • Dozens of news orgs demand DOJ release its secret rules for targeting journalists with National Security Letters

      A coalition of thirty-seven of news organizations—including the New York Times, the Associated Press, NPR, USA Today, and Buzzfeed—filed a legal brief over the weekend in support of Freedom of the Press Foundation’s case demanding that the Justice Department release its secret rules for targeting journalists with National Security Letters (NSLs).

      NSLs are controversial (and unconstitutional) surveillance tools that allow the FBI to collect private information in national security cases without any involvement whatsoever from judges or courts. We filed a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit in 2015 demanding their secret rules for using NSLs on members of the media, and Reporter’s Committee for Freedom of the Press filed the amicus brief on behalf of the thirty seven news organization on Saturday. (We also filed a separate brief, which you can read below.)

    • Justice Department to Stop Using Private Prisons

      The Justice Department said Thursday that it will phase out its use of private contractors to run federal prisons.

      Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates said privately run prisons do not provide the same level of correctional services or save on costs. And in a memo to prison officials, she said, “They do not maintain the same level of safety and security.”

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • DirecTV Faces RICO Class Action For Bungling Business Installs, Then Demanding $15,000 For Theft Of Service

      For several years now DirecTV (now owned by AT&T) has been the focus of a series of lawsuits focused on the NFL’s Sunday Ticket exclusive arrangement. More specifically, the lawsuits have claimed that the exclusive arrangement violates antitrust law, resulting in a monopoly that charges often absurd prices to small businesses. Sports bars in particular have to shell out payments of up to $122,895 per year for NFL Sunday Ticket, while those same bars pay significantly less for Major League Baseball’s comparable offering.

      But a new lawsuit filed against DirecTV this week accuses the company of something notably different. Doneyda Perez, owner of Oneida’s Beauty and Barber Salon in Garden Grove, has filed a RICO class action against DirecTV for intentionally selling businesses residential-class TV service, then hitting these customers with penalties of up to $15,000 several years later for failing to subscribe to business-class service. There’s a lot to go through in this case, but before we start, it’s at least worth pointing out that RICO class action cases are almost always ridiculous — even if there does appear to be questionable behavior here.

    • Allegations Of Dysfunction Continue To Plague FirstNet, Our $47 Billion (And Growing) National Emergency Network

      If you’ve been playing along at home, you’ll recall that both AT&T and Verizon have a long, proud history of taking billions in subsidies and tax breaks for next-generation networks repeatedly left half completed. AT&T, as we’ve well documented, has a prodigious history of fraud, whether it’s ripping off low-income families, the hearing impaired, various school districts or the company’s own customers. While the nation’s top two wireless carriers make sense as the best positioned to win the contract, they’re also the most likely to milk the program for every extra penny it’s worth while doing the bare minimum required.

      Not too surprisingly, the Atlantic article has reportedly upset those working on FirstNet, even though it’s far from the first report of this kind. The above-cited report by the Office of Inspector General of the Department of Commerce initially found numerous conflicts of interest on the FirstNet board, with many board members playing fast and loose with conflict reporting rules. It’s worth noting that many of these original board members (like FirstNet GM and former Verizon exec Bill D’Agostino) have already moved on, but these problems set the stage for the kind of dysfunction we’ve seen time and time again in telecom.

      Estimates suggest the contract will be worth around $100 billion to the company that wins it, with the winner grabbing not only the lion’s share of fees paid by state customers, but the right to sell off excess capacity to private companies and consumers. Winners are expected to be announced in November. And while the project may be well-intentioned and even necessary, it’s painfully unclear if the U.S. government is actually capable of completing it without giving a master class in telecom waste, fraud and abuse. History, quite simply, just isn’t on the project’s side.

    • Remember Claims That Cord Cutting Was On The Ropes? It’s Actually Worse Than Ever

      Despite the obvious realities that ratings are down and consumers are cutting the cord, there’s a vibrant and loyal segment of executives and analysts who still somehow believe cord cutting is a myth. Every few months, you’ll see a report about how cord cutting is either nonexistent or overstated. Earlier this year, these voices were quick to argue that the industry had cord cutting on the ropes because several of the biggest cable providers saw modest subscriber gains in the fourth quarter (ignoring several that saw net subscriber losses for the year).

      Those folks have been pretty damn quiet the last few weeks as second quarter earnings show cord cutting is worse than ever.

  • DRM

    • Intel praises killer USB-C audio features in war against traditional headphone jacks [Ed: removing headphone jacks good for DRM]

      You may like your earbuds and its 3.5mm jack, but you’ll downright love USB-C headphones, Intel says. At the company’s IDF developer conference in San Francisco, Intel’s once again pushing hard for mobile devices to ditch analog audio and embrace feature-filled digital headsets.

      Replacing the vaunted 3.5mm jack has evolved into a contentious issue ever since rumors surfaced that Apple would use a lightning connector for audio in the next iPhone. Similarly to the passion that surrounds Windows XP and Windows 7, people are so used to the longstanding headphone jack they just can’t let it go—even for the promise of something potentially better.

      And something better is exactly what Intel is promising, though the pitch may not sway audiophiles who swear that analog signals offer richer sound. During IDF on Tuesday, company architects Rahman Ismail and Brad Saunders talked up the coming USB Type C audio standard, which is due out in the coming months, as first reported by CNET.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Copyrights

08.18.16

The End of an Era at the USPTO as Battistelli-Like (EPO) Granting Policies Are Over

Posted in America, Europe, Patents at 10:54 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

No more patent maximalism because US courts are tossing out a large proportion of granted patents (as do courts in Europe)

CCIA Cartoon: GAO report
Credit: Matt Levy/CCIA

Summary: The United States is seeing the potency of patents — especially software patents (which make up much of the country’s troll cases) — challenged by courts and by the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB)

PATENTS (as originally conceived and foreseen) are not inherently evil, but if patents become applicable to everything under the Sun, then they serve no purpose other than to limit virtually every human activity, sometimes even natural activity (like patents on seeds, which increasingly limit reproduction).

Techrights opposes software patents because the discipline of software development cannot coexist with software patents. Just ask programmers about it. One programmer, Florian Müller, sent me a link this morning to an article I first saw last night. In it, Fenwick & West (which we cite a lot in relation to Alice) is claimed to have said 370 software patents have been invalidated by US courts (there’s much more of that in PTAB as well) after Alice. Here are the key parts:

Two years ago, when the U.S. Supreme Court invalidated Alice Corp.’s handful of patents on the concept of an electronic escrow arrangement, it ruled that taking abstract ideas—apparently including established methods of doing business like escrow—and implementing them on a computer doesn’t meet the standard of intellectual property. In its unanimous decision, written by Justice Clarence Thomas, the high court refused to precisely define what makes something an “abstract idea.” “We tread carefully,” Thomas wrote of the new standard for patents. Since then, however, lower courts, and the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, have been using some pretty heavy boots.

Courts have invalidated more than 370 software patents under the new standard, according to data compiled by law firm Fenwick & West. District and appellate courts have thrown out two of three patents brought before them since Alice Corp. v. CLS Bank.

This means that there’s far lower an incentive to even bother suing with a software patent (or patents), never mind apply for one.

There have been lots of articles about Apple patents this week, mostly because of “iWatch”. Some articles mentioned software patents explicitly in that context. To give just one example, this new article states that “this latest [Apple] patent is more software orientated” and as longtime readers probably know, Apple has been using software patents against Linux since 2010 (in the courtroom; deterrence against Palm’s Linux-based operating system, using patents, predates that).

The good news is that reprieve is on the way and a lot of software patents are on their way out. The other day someone came to our main IRC channel and said, “the uspto is trying to stop my patent prosecution [...] I dont know what to do… who can help me? [...] i have a software patent that the uspto is trying to stop” (suffice to say, the USPTO has been the most pro-software patents among courts, boards and other ‘compartments’ in this profit-driven system).

The above story is not unusual. We have been hearing such stories for a while, but this one is a firsthand account. Here is a new very long rant from SightSound. “We’re the guys who invented the download music store, showed it all to Steve, and got rolled by Apple,” says the summary. Notice the use of the term “Death Squad for Patents” in the headline. “Death Squad” is a term popularised by the patent microcosm, which equates quality control/patent assessment with execution. It’s quite revealing, isn’t it? It’s rather likely that just as companies that sue Apple with software patents lose their case/s, so will Apple. Software patents are a dying breed. It’s easy to just file a patent lawsuit; winning one is another matter altogether, especially in this software patents-hostile atmosphere. That’s why the number of patent lawsuits fell sharply, based on firms that watch these figures closely.

Reaching out to the ITC (embargo using patents, even before the facts are known!), ResMed has just initiated “lawsuits in Germany and New Zealand, and to the US International Trade Commission against Fisher & Paykel Healthcare” [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6]. This particular case is not about software but about a device. Suffice to say, Germany does not (formally) have software patents altough in practice it’s most friendly towards them in Europe. As for New Zealand, it’s the latest battleground on this matter, probably along with India where this matter seems to be settled.

§ 101 in the US threatens to eliminate software patents in what is probably their last remaining home. Fish & Richardson PC has published this new analysis about the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC), in which it says:

Patents that employ functional claiming even without using the words “means” will likely encounter greater scrutiny in the courts in light of this growing line of cases. That scrutiny is becoming more prominent under Section 112 jurisprudence, but is also apparent in the growing body Section 101 case law. The Court commented in the recentElectric Power Group, LLC v. Alstom S.A., No. 2015-1778 (Fed. Cir. Aug. 1, 2016) decision, in affirming a finding that a software patent is ineligible under § 101:

The district court phrased its point only by reference to claims so result-focused, so functional, as to effectively cover any solution to an identified problem…. Indeed, the essentially result-focused, functional character of claim language has been a frequent feature of claims held ineligible under § 101, especially in the area of using generic computer and network technology to carry out economic transactions.

Let’s face it, § 101 has changed everything. Matt Levy’s latest cartoon shows that he too now realises that patent scope, not just patent trolls, is a problem. In fact, patent trolls are often a symptom (or residue or side-effect) of patent scope gone awry, not to mention Texas courts openly bragging about pro-plaintiff bias. The cartoon from Levy is very much applicable to the EPO under Battistelli as well. Under pressure to grant patents all the time (the more, the merrier) they spoiled the whole system. “The GAO recently did a study on patent quality,” Levy explains. “It found that part of the reason so many patents are low quality is the pressures patent examiners are under to allow more patents.”

We already wrote about this study and explained how it relates to the EPO.

IP Watch has just published this guest post in which it’s suggested that number of unique patent assertions (e.g. lawsuits) is declining. AIA is cited as a possible cause. To quote:

Since AIA became effective in September of 2012, numerous studies have suggested the rise of patent litigation. While some surmised the post AIA joinder rule is causing the rise, many studies simply relied on just the number of cases filed per year to draw a conclusion about rising litigation.

We decided to take an additional step and look at another metric that may give us a better sense of the litigation landscape: the number of unique patent assertions per year. Essentially, this metric tells us how many unique patents are believed (by their owners) to be infringed in the US market.

As we know, after AIA, a single patent may now be asserted more than 100 times (e.g., Shipping and Transit LLC has filed more than 150 cases against many companies which, in most cases, only a single patent asserted (US7,400,970)). In our study, we counted this or similar cases once, because only a single patent was involved. As you can see in the above chart, the number of unique patents has been declining over the years.

2015 saw the highest number of filings. However, in terms of unique patents asserted, 2015 actually represented the lowest level since 2010. The number of unique patents asserted in 2015 had declined more than 23% from 2010.

It seems likely that AIA, together with PTAB that it brought, reduced confidence in all sorts of ludicrous software patents. The patent microcosm is obviously in denial about it, but the figures speak for themselves. here is Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan LLP piggybacking or cherry-picking Enfish to pretend software patents are in tact (the tiring old spin). To quote their so-called ‘analysis’ (shameless self-promotion): “As two recent decisions from the Federal Circuit demonstrate, the law on patent-eligible subject matter, 35 U.S.C. § 101, remains largely unsettled. These decisions, Enfish and TLI Communications, represent some of the Federal Circuit’s most recent attempts to grapple with the appropriate application of § 101. Although these decisions are both software patent cases, they speak to issues that affect § 101 jurisprudence across a wide range of technologies, from software to diagnostic procedures to molecular biology protocols. In particular, Enfish and TLI Communications embody the recent judicial tendency to collapse the § 101 inquiry into the novelty inquiry under 35 U.S.C. §§ 102 and 103.”

But those are just two decisions among hundreds of others ruled in the opposite way. As we noted earlier this week, PTAB’s influence on CAFC (or vice versa) causes a certain panic in the patent microcosm. “For its part in the case,” wrote Patently-O about one case, “the Federal Circuit affirmed the PTAB determination without opinion” (there’s not much to argue about). “The patents at issue in the case are U.S. Patent No. 6,315,921 and U.S. Patent No. 6,395,195. They relate to an oxygen absorber used in meat packaging.”

PTAB is dealing not only with software patents, but when it deals with software patents they have very slim chance of survival because of § 101/Alice. Here is Patently-O remarking on PTAB again while citing Halo [1, 2]. To quote: “The Third Edition ads substantial coverage of managing litigation to deal with parallel proceedings at the PTAB, pleading standards, patentable subject matter, claim construction, enhanced damages following Halo, and reasonable royalty disputes. The treatise also covers recent developments in ANDA and biologics litigation, design and plant patent litigation, and litigation at the Federal Court of Claims. The appendices provide case management checklists and exemplars of patent management filings.”

MIP has also just mentioned Halo, noting that the “Federal Circuit and district court rulings since the Supreme Court’s Halo decision have made it clear a jury finding alone is enough for a judgment of willfulness. But an enhanced damages determination should ultimately be made by the judge weighing factors yet to be clarified.”

This case mostly impacts patent trolls that want to hop from one company to another and hoard money by shakedown. The following situation, as mentioned before by Patently-O, deals with scope of patents and how they’re self-limiting or self-invalidating (if the specified scope is too broad). It’s another case of patents that should not have been granted in the first place or are far too narrow to be useful. To quote the National Law Review: “This decision is an important reminder of the care that should be taken with all claim language, and indicates that extra caution may be warranted whenever any “consisting of” clause is used. It is not clear whether Multilayer could have modified the Markush clause with open-ended language, such as by reciting that “the inner layers comprise a resin selected from the group consisting of ….” Some examiners raise indefiniteness rejections when a claim uses both “comprising” and “consisting of ” language, but not all combinations of such “open” and “closed” language are improper.”

What this basically says is that you cannot get a patent to cover everything under the Sun or claim in an ad hoc fashion that it magically covers unspecified claims. Any patent system which places no restrictions on scope would be self-deprecating. To give two more examples of cases covered by Patently-O, in one case there was “key prior art in the obviousness case [...] Chinese patent publication that discloses minocycline…”

In another case the lawsuit got thrown out because the plaintiffs “waited a year to serve the motion. Courts hold that the motion should be served as soon as practicable. As a result, the court held the motion was properly denied as having been served in an untimely fashion.”

“Frivolous” is the word Patently-O uses to describe this lawsuit; another way might be SLAPP, as the intention is to discourage some activity, later (a year later) to be followed by a surprise motion. What is this, Mafia tactics?

Battistelli’s European Patent Office Goes to the United States to Speak About the UPC and Software Patents

Posted in Europe, Patents at 7:12 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Pretending he’s not seeing the basis and rules of the Office?

Battistelli eyes shut

Summary: The European Patent Office is showing its utter contempt — not just disregard — for the very fundamental rules that put it in its place and brought it into existence

IT IS no secret (not anymore, but it was supposed to be a secret) that the Battistelli regime, having an unscrupulous party with EPO budget, pays over a million Euros per year to a US-based PR firm (notorious for its fracking lobby here and elsewhere in the world). They are silencing if not brainwashing journalists (even pushing ‘material’ to them). This PR firm is already funding a pro-UPC event in the US, which is probably an ethical breach for all sorts of reasons. This conscienceless, unprincipled management is a total disaster to what was once a reputable Office.

The EPO has just promoted “think tanks” (basically something like FTI Consulting for fracking and EPO ‘damage control’) and it is in think tank mode (disguised as “seminar”) when using the “ICT” weasel word — a word that we alluded to earlier this week (a vague way to allude to software patents). In this tweet from yesterday the EPO gets even more explicit about it. It wrote: “ICT patents seminar in New York, 14 Sept. Experts discuss Unitary Patent, PCT & software patents. Register Now! http://www.epo.org/learning-events/events/conferences/ictseminar2016.html …”

“”Online Filing users,” as the above puts it, pretty much must be Microsoft customers, i.e. paying clients of some serial abuser from another continent.”The Battistelli-run EPO is still promoting software patents and the UPC. They have no sense of shame and in order to meet notorious goals (demolishing the EPC and patent scope) they’ll even go abroad and do their lobbying behind closed doors (or hugely expensive entrance fees). The EPO promotes the above event every other day or so. There are at least two more such events (with “ICT”) in the pipeline, based on the EPO’s Web site. Another EPO event was mentioned by IP Kat yesterday. To quote: “EPO Online Services Workshops. A series of workshops introducing the new online filing service at the EPO will be held in London on 13-14 September, 18-19 October and 29-30 November. The workshops are aimed primarily at Online Filing users, professional representatives and support staff/records department staff who are familiar with the basic functions of Online Filing. For more information and to register, see here.”

“Online Filing users,” as the above puts it, pretty much must be Microsoft customers, i.e. paying clients of some serial abuser from another continent. The same goes for UPC. That’s a despicable aspect of the EPO which we covered here several times before. It makes the word “European” abundantly farcical in the EPO acronym.

In other news, the EPO’s PR strategy becomes ever more pathetic by the day. More EIA 2017 ‘spam’ (direct messaging that’s repetitive) from the EPO can be seen in the account right now [1, 2, 3, 4], as if broadcasting to all people [1, 2, 3] is not enough for them. How low will these people stoop and when will they realise that the more they do to save face/cover up Battistelli’s behind, the worse things will get? It has culminated in a crisis already and it’s turning into a a full-blown ‘constitutional crisis’ at the EPO — something from which the EPO might never be able to recover (even after Battistelli leaves).

Turkey Subjected to the European Patent Convention (EPC) But Benoît Battistelli is Not?

Posted in Europe, Patents at 6:54 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Symptoms of a severe ‘constitutional crisis’

Erdoğan for EPO
When power-hungry people simply decide that laws and rules don’t apply to them…

Summary: The ‘constitutional crisis’ at the European Patent Office in the context of Turkey, which has signed “the EPC and as such recognises the competence and the decisions of the institutions which have been introduced in the convention.”

THE moral and ethical erosion at the EPO‘s top-level management is very apparent. Using the pretense of “emergency” human rights are suspended and the rules are made up for retaliation purposes as Battistelli goes along and breaks his very own rules. The EPO just ignores the EPC right now.

An article by Selin Sinem Erciyas and Ozge Atilgan Karakulak from Gun & Partners, published a fortnight ago in a lawyers’ site, makes timely comments regarding the Recep Tayyip Erdoğan-run Turkey being part of the EPO/EPC. There are many parallels these days between what Battistelli does and what Erdoğan does, including attacks on reporters. “The European Patent Convention (EPC)”, it says, “is a part of Turkish national domestic law and is enforced in Turkey under Article 90 of the Turkish Constitution. Furthermore, it was formed under international agreement and as a result cannot be claimed as unconstitutional.

“The EPC law can be applied directly in Turkey and therefore it is legally binding. Alongside other member states, Turkey also declared and signed the EPC and as such recognises the competence and the decisions of the institutions which have been introduced in the convention. It is assumed that the member states are not able to declare their commitment for certain bodies of the European Patent Office (EPO), such as decisions only made by the examination division or appeal board. This may seem an unusual statement, however, it should be stressed as it is one of the most important proceedings in Turkey, it has been argued by IP courts that EPO decisions are only binding for Turkey if the decision can be grounded on an explicit provision in the EPC.”

Looking at recent IP Kat comments regarding the detachment from the EPC at the EPO, we find the following:

I am thinking of the relations with the work-rules regulating organs of the host countries (Arbeitsinspectie, Gewerbeaufsicht,…)

Article 18 of the Seat Agreement with the Netherlands makes provision for a Joint Consultative Committee which shall meet “at least once a year”:

(1) A Joint Consultative Committee shall facilitate the implementation of this Agreement and may address other administrative issues through consultations between the relevant authorities of the Kingdom of the Netherlands and the Organisation. It shall meet at least once a year and may convene at any other time at the request of the Government or the Organisation.
(2) The Chairman of the Committee shall be appointed by mutual agreement between the Government and the Organisation.

It actually took a while for this to show up, as explained by the latter two comments:

Article 18 of the Seat Agreement with the Netherlands establishes a Joint Consultative Committee which “shall facilitate the implementation of this Agreement and may address other administrative issues through consultations between the relevant authorities of the Kingdom of the Netherlands and the Organisation.”
The JCC “shall meet at least once a year and may convene at any other time at the request of the Government or the Organisation.”

Ho hum. I keep trying to post a comment about Article 18 of the Seat Agreement with the Netherlands which establishes a Joint Consultative Committee.
But for some reason it doesn’t make it through the IPKat comment filter …

These filters can be truly iffy at times.

In any case, the point made above is that something is absent in this process. The EPO cannot go on like it currently does and congregations of the Administrative Council, which is effectively in Battistelli’s pocket, are no remedy. They are part of the problem after the Audit Committee got destroyed by the Administrative Council at the behest of Battistelli. There is clearly a ‘constitutional crisis’ at the European Patent Office, not just a crisis. The International Labour Organisation (ILO) has only just begun catching up with this.

Erdoğan and EPO
Original photo: Erdoğan, 2012

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