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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

Links 18/8/2016: EFF Slams Vista 10, Linux Foundation Makes PNDA

Posted in News Roundup at 5:22 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • Desktop

    • With Windows 10, Microsoft Blatantly Disregards User Choice and Privacy: A Deep Dive

      Microsoft had an ambitious goal with the launch of Windows 10: a billion devices running the software by the end of 2018. In its quest to reach that goal, the company aggressively pushed Windows 10 on its users and went so far as to offer free upgrades for a whole year. However, the company’s strategy for user adoption has trampled on essential aspects of modern computing: user choice and privacy. We think that’s wrong.

      You don’t need to search long to come across stories of people who are horrified and amazed at just how far Microsoft has gone in order to increase Windows 10’s install base. Sure, there is some misinformation and hyperbole, but there are also some real concerns that current and future users of Windows 10 should be aware of. As the company is currently rolling out its “Anniversary Update” to Windows 10, we think it’s an appropriate time to focus on and examine the company’s strategy behind deploying Windows 10.

  • Server

    • How Twitter Avoids the Microservice Version of “Works on My Machine”

      Apache Mesos and Apache Aurora initially helped Twitter engineers to implement more sophisticated DevOps processes and streamline tooling, says software engineer David McLaughlin. But over time a whole new class of bespoke tooling emerged to manage deployment across multiple availability zones as the number of microservices grew.

      “As the number of microservices grows and the dependency graph between them grows, the confidence level you achieve from unit tests and mocks alone rapidly decreases,” McLaughlin says, in the interview below. “You end up in the microservice version of “works on my machine.”

  • Kernel Space

    • The Linux Foundation Awards 14 Training and Certification Scholarships
    • The Linux Foundation Announces 2016 LiFT Scholarship Recipients

      14 Scholarship Recipients From 11 Countries to Receive Advanced Open Source Training to Help Advance Their Careers and Communities

    • Linux kernel 4.6 reaches end of life

      Those using a GNU/Linux operating system powered by a kernel from the Linux 4.6 branch have been urged to move to Linux kernel 4.7.

      According to a report by Softpedia, users have been advised to install the new Linux kernel 4.7.1 build.

    • It’s time to say goodbye to Linux 4.6

      If you’re using a version of Linux based on the 4.6 series of the kernel, the software’s lead maintainer has a message for you: It’s time to upgrade.

      Greg Kroah-Hartman on Tuesday announced the arrival of Linux 4.6.7 and made it clear that it will be the last in the kernel’s 4.6 series. Version 4.7.1 made its debut on Tuesday as well, and that’s where the future lies, Kroah-Hartman said.

    • Linux Foundation touts open-source PNDA for network analytics

      The Linux Foundation has taken another open-source project under its wing, one that’s focused on the architecture, implementation and support of digital networks.

      Called the Platform for Network Data Analytics (or “PNDA” for short), the initiative aims to better integrate and manage massive amounts of network information, and deploy analytics applications and services.

      “PNDA addresses a critical need for a scalable platform that fosters innovation in reactive network analytics for both service providers and enterprises,” said Jim Zemlin, executive director of The Linux Foundation, in a statement.

      To coincide with the announcement, the PNDA community has just shipped out its first version of the software, which is described as a production-ready solution for platforms based on OpenStack.

    • Linux Kernel 4.4.18 LTS Has Lots of x86 Improvements, Security Updates and Fixes

      After announcing the end of life for the Linux 4.6 kernel series with the release of Linux kernel 4.6.7 as the last maintenance update, as well as the availability of the first point release of Linux kernel 4.7, Greg Kroah-Hartman now informs us about Linux kernel 4.4.18 LTS.

      Linux kernel 4.4 is an LTS (Long Term Support) one, the latest and most advanced, currently used by many popular GNU/Linux operating systems, including Ubuntu 16.04 LTS (Xenial Xerus), Ubuntu 14.04.5 LTS (Trusty Tahr), and all of their derivatives, such as Xubuntu, Kubuntu, Ubuntu GNOME, Ubuntu MATE, etc., and the Linux Mint 18 “Sarah” series of distributions.

    • Benchmarks

      • AMDGPU-PRO Radeon RX 460/470/480 vs. NVIDIA Linux GPU Benchmarks

        Last week I published an 18-way GPU Linux comparison featuring the new Radeon RX 460 and RX 470 graphics cards along with other AMD Radeon and NVIDIA GeForce GPUs. The Radeon tests were done using the very latest open-source Linux driver stack while in this article are similar benchmarks done but using the AMDGPU-PRO hybrid driver stack.

      • Btrfs RAID Tests On Linux 4.8

        Recently I’ve been carrying out a number of Btrfs RAID tests on Linux 4.7 while this past weekend I ran some comparison tests using the Linux 4.8 Git kernel.

        The Btrfs feature updates in Linux 4.8 has the big ENOSPC rework as well as other clean-ups and improvements.

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK

      • A quick look at using JSX in GNOME

        Thanks to a travel sponsorship from the GNOME foundation, I was able to attend the GTK+ hackfest in Toronto recently. The discussions and energy there inspired me to work on a prototype of something I had been thinking about for a while: using JSX to create GtkWidgets.

      • GSoC: final week and results

        Hello everyone, I’m very glad to announce that my GSoC project about implementing games with multiple medias is being finished this very week. Although the code is still being tested, it won’t have big changes. With that said, I’ll show and explain the results.

      • Using the GtkSourceView API to write scripts that manipulate text

        In the gnome-c-utils repository, I wrote some scripts that use the GtkSourceView library.

        When a script needs to read some text, search something in it, and possibly edit the content, then having a GtkTextBuffer is really convenient.

      • The Meson build system at GUADEC 2016

        For the third year in a row, Centricular was at GUADEC, and this year we sponsored the evening party on the final day at Hoepfner’s Burghof! Hopefully everyone enjoyed it as much as we hoped. :)

        The focus for me this year was to try and tell people about the work we’ve been doing on porting GStreamer to Meson and to that end, I gave a talk on the second day about how to build your GNOME app ~2x faster than before.

      • GNOME Developers Continue Working On Meson Build System, Much Faster Build Times

        GNOME developers and others in the free software ecosystem continue working on Meson, a promising next-gen build system that’s superior to the commonly-used Autotools.

        Meson has been in the works for a few years now but routinely see people unfamiliar with it. More and more GNOME packages though are beginning to support Meson.

  • Distributions

  • Devices/Embedded

    • The Positives and Negatives of Arduino

      My introduction to the world of single board computers started with the Raspberry Pi and an attempt to spin up a media server. Once the media server was established, the GPIO pins began to peek my interest and other projects were born. As I learned more about GPIO and electronics, I discovered there existed boards other than the Raspberry Pi that I could program to take my projects to another level.

    • Intel’s Project Euclid is a tiny Linux-powered PC for robot makers

      INTEL has unveiled Project Euclid, a pint-sized RealSense PC aimed at robotics makers and developers.

      Project Euclid (below) was announced during the firm’s Intel Developer Forum in San Francisco, and makes it dead simple to create applications, such as self-driving go-karts and 3D printing robots, using Intel’s depth-sensing RealSense cameras, the firm said.

      Intel has kicked its Atom chips to the curb in terms of mobile, but Project Euclid comes with an integrated Atom processor, suggesting that that the once-defunct chip still has a future in the world of robotics and the Internet of Things (IoT).

    • Intel “Aero” drone board runs Yocto on Cherry Trail

      Intel has launched a Linux-on-Atom powered “Aero Compute Board” and quadcopter, promising improved obstacle navigation based on Intel RealSense.

      Even more than last year’s Intel Developer Forum, this week’s IDF is focusing relentlessly on Intel RealSense. The 3D depth sensing camera technology is everywhere at IDF, including the new Windows-focused Project Alloy VR helmet and several Linux-infused drone, robotics, and camera kits. In fact, even the new Kaby Lake and Apollo Lake processors expected to be announced today include built-in support for RealSense. Here, we take a look at the Intel Aero Platform drone products: the Atom-based Intel Aero Compute Board and an Aero Ready To Fly quadcopter based on it.

    • Intel unveils its Joule chip module for the Internet of Things

      Joule is the latest product in Intel’s family of all-in-one chip modules for the Internet of Things.

      Intel CEO Brian Krzanich showed off the new Joule module during a keynote speech at the Intel Developer Forum in San Francisco. The module is a follow-up to Edison, the prior IoT module introduced in 2014.

    • Review: 6 slick open source routers

      Hackers of the world, unite! You have nothing to lose but the lousy stock firmware your routers shipped with.

      Apart from smartphones, routers and wireless base stations are undoubtedly the most widely hacked and user-modded consumer devices. In many cases the benefits are major and concrete: a broader palette of features, better routing functions, tighter security, and the ability to configure details not normally allowed by the stock firmware (such as antenna output power).

    • i.MX6 Pico-ITX and mini-PC run Android, Ubuntu, and Yocto

      Logic Supply’s Embux-made Pico-ITX SBC runs Android and Linux on an i.MX6 DualLite, and is also available in a mini-PC.

      Logic Supply is reselling an Embux-manufactured Pico-ITX form-factor “ICM-2010 2.5”” SBC and “ICS-2010” mini-PC. The SBC starts at $193, plus $29 for an 8GB SD card equipped with Android, Ubuntu, or Yocto Project based Linux. A power adapter adds another $30. The products are designed for applications including industrial control, home automation, kiosk, digital signage, or robotics applications.

    • ArcherMind Joins 96Boards and Launches Deci-Core ARMv8 Product

      Linaro Ltd, the collaborative engineering organization developing open source software for the ARM® architecture, today announced that ArcherMind Technology (Nanjing) Co., Ltd has joined the 96Boards initiative as a Steering Committee Member and Manufacturing Partner and they are preparing the launch of their first 96Boards product.

    • Phones

Free Software/Open Source

  • More News Arrives on Fuchsia, Google’s Mystery Open Source OS

    Everyone loves a mystery and if you’re a mystery fan you have to be paying attention to Google’s mysterious new open source operating system, which is dubbed “fuchsia,” alluding to what you get when you mix purple with pink. While you’ll read many reports saying that nothing has been said about fuchsia officially, Google engineers actually have popped up in various online forums descrbing the new OS.

  • Google updates Santa Tracker open source code with changes from last Christmas

    Is it Christmas time already? Not quite, but we don’t have long before kids start counting down the days to Santa’s visit. When they ask, Google is again ready to provide an answer.

    Last April, Google open sourced Santa Tracker and its various components. Then it developed new experiences to show off around Christmas time. Eight months later, that code is now open source as well.

  • Google Makes Santa Tracker 2015 Code Open Source
  • What People Don’t Get About Open Source

    Open source is making its way into the mainstream, driven by Linux, OpenStack, SDN, and other cloud, networking and computing. But a lot of people still have misconceptions about the open source process and how it fits into business.

  • Events

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

  • SaaS/Back End

    • How open source helps startups get a big data boost

      Big data isn’t new. We’ve actually had fairly sophisticated data infrastructure long before Hadoop, Spark, and such came into being. No, the big difference in big data is that all this fantastic data infrastructure is open source software running on commodity servers.

      Over a decade ago, entrepreneur Joe Kraus’ declared that “There’s never been a better time to be an entrepreneur because it’s never been cheaper to be one,” and he was right, though he couldn’t have foreseen how much so. Though Kraus extolled the virtues of Linux, Tomcat, Apache HTTP server, and MySQL, today’s startups have access to a dazzling array of the best big data infrastructure that money doesn’t need to buy.

    • Pepperdata: Carving Out a Niche in the Big Data Arena

      In the data analytics and Hadoop arena, the folks at Pepperdata have an interesting story to tell. Pepperdata’s cofounders ran the web search engineering team at Yahoo during the development of the first production use of Hadoop and created Pepperdata with the mission of providing a simple way of prioritizing Hadoop jobs to give resources to the ones that need them most, while ensuring that a company adheres to its SLAs.

      The company’s software installs in under 30 minutes on an existing Hadoop cluster without any modifications to the scheduler, workflow, or jobs, delivering visibility into Hadoop workloads at the task level. This week, Pepperdata announced that former CTO of Yahoo, Ashfaq Munshi, is taking over as CEO. Here are more details on this company from an interview we did recently with co-founder Chad Carson.

  • Databases

    • Weekly phpMyAdmin contributions 2016-W32

      Tonight phpMyAdmin 4.0.10.17, 4.4.15.8, and 4.6.4 were released and you can probably see that there are quite some security issues fixed. Most of them are not really exploitable unless your PHP and webserver are poorly configured, but still it’s good idea to upgrade.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

    • The trouble with open source research on the web

      Every open source research project — no matter how simple or complex — starts with browsing the internet. But researchers should know that their identity can be obtained through a number of basic techniques, which could have consequences ranging from modified data to directed cyber attacks or worse.

      Even the simplest of website visits will expose significant details about your location and your device, and pretty much any site you visit will drop code on your computer to track what you’re doing as you traverse the internet. Most of the time, this exchange is benign, but there can be times when content will be modified or attacks launched based on the identity of the user.

      When Tim Berners-Lee released his building blocks for the modern internet, they were designed for the academic research community. Like other initiatives of the time, web protocols (and the browsers to support them) were built to easily share information, not for privacy or security. In order to minimize or even prevent counter-surveillance while conducting open source research, it is important to understand how the underlying protocols exchange information when you visit a web page.

    • Endurance Robots launches fully roboticized open-source platform [Ed: That's not FOSS. Using OpenCV to make a proprietary and Windows-only platform?]

      Finally, we used the standard Microsoft SAPI. This product with various language sets is distributed free of charge.

    • Intel claim open source driven by ‘enthusiasts’ is ‘complete rubbish’ says Weaveworks founder [Ed: Intel is badmouthing FOSS while putting secret/proprietary back doors in its chipsets]

      Weaveworks founder and CEO Alexis Richardson delivered a verbal drubbing to an Intel senior architect yesterday after he suggested open source software is still driven by “enthusiasts” who alone don’t produce “enterprise-capable product” without distributors ‘professionalising’ parts of it themselves.

      Richardson, speaking at an open source panel debate hosted by Rackspace, described Markus Leberecht’s claim as “complete rubbish”, leaving the solutions architect floundering.

      When discussing the increasing relevance of open source software to the enterprise, senior data centre solutions architect Leberecht volunteered the notion that “open source has become a natural thing for enterprise to consume when distributors have professionalised certain parts of [it]“.

      “So just to re-emphasise the role that some of the companies on the panel here [companies included MongoDB, Red Hat, and Rackspace, as well as Weaveworks] are taking in this particular way of getting open source to market: by itself open source is attention-driven, enthusiasts driving a certain topic, but that doesn’t give us enterprise-capable product.”

    • Intel Launches Project Alloy — An Open-source VR Headset That’s A Full PC [Ed: That’s a lie (even the headline). It’s not “Open Source”, it’s Microsoft rubbish.]
    • Microsoft announce open-source UWP Community Toolkit to make UWP app development easier [Ed: Microsoft is just hilarious. In its propaganda site it is openwashing some of its biggest lock-in (‘community’)]
  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC

    • Rust implementation of GNUnet with GSoC – Final-term

      This is the final week of the gnunet-rs project with Google Summer of Code. It has been challenging but also exceptionally rewarding. I hope to explain the final product and then touch on the future work. The repository can be found here, and my previous blog post here.

      During the first half of GSoC working period, I changed the peerinfo service to use asynchronous IO (using gjio). I continued on that path and added two more services to make use of asynchronous IO – identity and GNS. I won’t cover the complete API in this blog post since their usage can be found in the documentation comments in the code (cargo doc can be used to generate html docs); there are also a lot of examples. But I will highlight one of them because it demonstrates the strengths of a promise based API.

  • Public Services/Government

    • Federal open-source policy isn’t open enough, says tech group

      The Electronic Frontier Foundation has praised new federal guidelines aimed at improving the sharing of federally developed software code but complained that the government’s 20 percent release goal does not go far enough.

      The policy, announced by U.S. CIO Tony Scott on Aug. 8, seeks to makes federal source code more accessible while increasing sharing across government and reducing duplicative software purchases.

  • Programming/Development

  • Standards/Consortia

Leftovers

  • Witchcraft shop refuses to serve Harry Potter fans because it sells ‘spiritual tools’ not toys for young Muggles

    A shop which makes magic wands for real life witches and wizards has been blasted by Harry Potter fans for refusing to serve them.

    The business, called Mystical Moments, is making a name for itself in the wizarding world by supplying wands to cast healing spells and charms for good luck.

    But wand-maker Richard Carter says he is selling “spiritual tools” – not toys for young Muggles – and he is barring Hogwarts fans.

  • As A-level results come out, it’s time to look again at our education system

    Jeremy Corbyn is right – England needs to repurpose its education system.

    [...]

    Today, the annual cycle of the education system cranks round, as another cohort of nervous school leavers discover their A Level results. If their route ahead of them looks like a debt-ridden treadmill, that’s because it is one. University debt repayment operates as a tax on those unable to afford fees upfront – so almost everyone – and erects a barrier to any repurposing of higher education beyond servicing the needs of a narrow, centuries-old elite.

    More than ever, we are in need of an alternative vision for the education system, and, at last, someone is providing one. This week is also witnessing a series of detailed policy announcements which form the backbone of a vision which is daring and absolutely necessary. The National Education Service which is being announced by Jeremy Corbyn goes far beyond the abolition of tuition fees, venturing to equip everyone with skills that the Conservatives have spent their years in office draining and wasting.

    At the moment, tuition fees are breeding an insidious psychology. Transforming education into an item that one may ‘purchase’ cultivates a logic in which the university is a private investment through which we buy our dream jobs. ‘Employability’ takes precedence over the nourishment of learning and skills, both eroding the public utility yielded from higher

  • When your IT talent shortage is global

    In some cases, you might be at a company with a super strong brand, which makes hiring a bit easier as you don’t need to explain what the company does. In either case, it is important to focus your hiring practices to fully explain three key areas:

  • Science

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Maternal Mortality a Growing Threat in the US

      Each year, over 65,000 women in the United States suffer life-threatening complications, including physical and psychological conditions aggravated by pregnancy, and over 600 die from pregnancy related causes. Elizabeth Dawes Gay reports the vast impact of the health care system collapse on rural areas, and the racial disparity underlying the United States’ maternal health crisis. African-American women are three to four times more likely to die from pregnancy-related causes. Health officials report the state of Georgia to have the highest rate of maternal deaths and significant racial disparity.

    • Aetna Proves That Single-Payer Health Care Is the Only Way to Go

      It’s been over two years since the bulk of Obamacare went into effect, and US health insurance companies are (inadvertently) making a great case for why it’s time to adopt a single-payer system and take the profit motive out of how health care is paid for once and for all.

      On Monday, Aetna, the United States’ third-largest insurance company, announced that it will withdraw from Obamacare exchanges in 11 states, and that it will only offer insurance through the state-level Obamacare marketplaces in four states in 2017.

      Obamacare has, overall, been a huge success, especially among the less visible and more marginalized populations in the US.

    • Sanders: Aetna’s Obamacare Threat Shows What “Corporate Control Looks Like”

      Healthcare giant Aetna directly threatened the federal government by vowing to pull out of Obamacare if its proposed merger to Humana was not approved, revealed a letter by the company’s CEO sent in July and reported on Wednesday.

      The letter, obtained by the Huffington Post through a Freedom of Information Act request, proves what many observers have suspected and what the company has been denying: that its decision to pull out of most of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) health exchanges was a bargaining chip in its effort to achieve the controversial merger.

      Aetna’s threatening letter was authored by Aetna CEO Mark Bertolini, who would have “personally [made] up to $131 million” if the Humana merger had gone through, as International Business Times reporter David Sirota observed last month.

      The Justice Department sued to block the merger last month.

    • Aetna’s Greed Proves That Medicare-for-All Is the Best Solution

      Sen. Elizabeth Warren skewers insurance giant for Obamacare withdrawal, saying: ‘The health of the American people should not be used as bargaining chips’

    • Aetna Shows Why We Need a Single Payer

      The best argument for a single-payer health plan is the recent decision by giant health insurer Aetna to bail out next year from 11 of the 15 states where it sells Obamacare plans.

      Aetna’s decision follows similar moves by UnitedHealth Group, the nation’s largest insurer, and Humana, one of the other giants.

      All claim they’re not making enough money because too many people with serious health problems are using the Obamacare exchanges, and not enough healthy people are signing up.

      The problem isn’t Obamacare per se. It’s in the structure of private markets for health insurance – which creates powerful incentives to avoid sick people and attract healthy ones. Obamacare is just making the structural problem more obvious.

    • Neonic pesticide link to long-term wild bee decline

      The large-scale, long-term decline in wild bees across England has been linked to the use of neonicotinoid insecticides by a new study.

      Over 18 years, researchers analysed bees who forage heavily on oilseed rape, a crop widely treated with “neonics”.

      The scientists attribute half of the total decline in wild bees to the use of these chemicals.

      Industry sources say the study shows an association, not a cause and effect.
      Weighing the evidence

      In recent years, several studies, conducted in the lab and in the field, have identified a negative effect on honey bees and bumble bees from the use of neonics.

      But few researchers have looked at the long term impacts of these substances.

      This new paper examined the impacts on populations of 62 species of wild bees across England over the period from 1994-2011.

    • Russia’s Stepanova: ‘No accident’ if something happens to me

      The Russian runner who helped expose a system of state-backed doping in her country says she fears for her life and has been forced to move after hackers tried to find her location.

      The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) said on Saturday Yulia Stepanova’s online doping management account had been illegally accessed. The doping scandal she lifted the lid on has rocked sport and cost over 100 Russians their place at the Rio Games.

      Stepanova has been in hiding in the United States with her husband Vitaly, a former Russian anti-doping official, after giving evidence that the Russian government for years facilitated widespread cheating across nearly all Olympic sports.

    • Aetna Drops Obamacare In Most States

      Aetna Inc, the No. 3 U.S. health insurer, on Monday said that due to persistent financial losses on Obamacare plans, it will sell individual insurance on the government-run online marketplaces in only four states next year, down from the current 15 states.

      Aetna’s decision follows similar moves from UnitedHealth Group Inc. and Humana Inc., which have cited similar concerns about financial losses on these exchanges created under President Barack Obama’s national healthcare reform law.

      Aetna is also trying to buy Humana and is currently fighting a U.S. government lawsuit aimed at blocking the $34 billion deal.

      Aetna, which earlier this year said it was too soon to give up on the exchanges despite its challenges, this month signaled it was reconsidering. On Aug. 2, the company said it would not expand in 2017 and would review all its individual business.

    • Lawsuit Alleges Monsanto Intentionally Mislabeled Dangerous “Inert” Ingredients
    • Lead Contamination at Indiana Low-Income Housing Site Is Being Addressed After Decades of Inaction

      The West Calumet Complex, an affordable-housing complex in East Chicago, Ind., was built in 1972—but it took over four decades for city officials and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to alert residents of a potential lead crisis. The Young Turks news team recently went to East Chicago to interview residents and activists in the area to see how they are responding to news of the contamination.

      “We had no idea what we’ve been living in,” Akeesha Daniels, a resident since 2004, told TYT reporter Jordan Chariton. Daniels said she “never was sick a day in [her] life” before moving into the West Calumet Complex.

      Lonnie M. Randolph, a Democratic state senator, explained that several weeks ago, over 1,000 residents received letters from East Chicago’s mayor telling them they had between 30 and 90 days to evacuate their homes because of lead and arsenic levels in the soil surrounding the complex.

  • Security

  • Defence/Aggression

    • The Bombing of a Hospital in Yemen

      An air strike struck a hospital in northern Yemen on Monday, killing 11 and wounding at least 19, Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders) said in a statement.

      The strike, which news outlets say was conducted by Saudi-led coalition forces, partially destroyed Abs Hospital, a facility in Hajja province, which MSF has run since July 2015. More than 4,000 patients have been treated in the facility over the past year.

      “This is the fourth attack against an MSF facility in less than 12 months,” said Teresa Sancristóval, the MSF emergency program manager for Yemen. “Once again, today we witness the tragic consequences of the bombing of a hospital. Once again, a fully functional hospital full of patients and MSF national and international staff members was bombed in a war that has shown no respect for medical facilities or patients.”

      A day before the strike, MSF tweeted saying access to health care is increasingly limited in the country, where the humanitarian situation has deteriorated since hostilities between the Saudi-led coalition and Houthi rebels resumed last week following the collapse of United Nations-facilitated peace talks.

    • How Immigration Status Matters in the Orlando Shooting

      Jorge Rivas and Rafa Fernandez de Castro of Fusion reported that, following the horrific Pulse Nightclub massacre on June 12, 2016 in Orlando, Florida, victims without legal status now face “a whole additional set of challenges in the wake of the horrible mass-shooting.”

      Their report describes the cases of an undocumented 24-year-old Salvadorian survivor named Victor and an undocumented 33-year-old Mexican survivor named Javier (whose names have been changed to protect their identities). Each faces uncertainty of qualification for federal and state assistance programs beyond immediate emergency care, due to their illegal immigration status. After being hospitalized for gunshot wounds, each is facing overwhelming medical bills.

    • NYT Touts Honduras as Ad for ‘American Power’–Leaving Out Support for Murderous Coup Regime

      She offered the results of this and similar programs as evidence that “smart investments in Honduras are succeeding” and “a striking rebuke to the rising isolationists in American politics,” who “seem to have lost their faith in American power.”

      But Nazario failed to explain how American power paved the way for the shocking rise in violence in Honduras. In the early 2000s, the murder rate in Honduras fluctuated between 44.3 and 61.4 per 100,000—very high by global standards, but similar to rates in neighboring El Salvador and Guatemala. (It’s not coincidental that all three countries were dominated by violent, US-backed right-wing governments in the 1980s—historical context that the op-ed entirely omitted.) Then, in June 2009, Honduras’ left-leaning President Manuel Zelaya was overthrown in a military coup, kidnapped and flown out of the country via the joint US/Honduran military base at Palmerola.

      The US is supposed to cut off aid to a country that has a military coup—and “there is no doubt” that Zelaya’s ouster “constituted an illegal and unconstitutional coup,” according to a secret report sent by the US ambassador to Honduras on July 24, 2009, and later exposed by WikiLeaks. But the US continued most aid to Honduras, carefully avoiding the magic words “military coup” that would have necessitated withdrawing support from the coup regime.

      [...]

      With a corrupt, drug-linked regime in place, thanks in large part to US intervention, murder in Honduras soared, rising to 70.7 per 100,000 in 2009, 81.8 in 2010 and 91.4 in 2011—fully 50 percent above the pre-coup level. While many of the murders involved criminal gangs, much of the post-coup violence was political, with resuscitated death squads targeting journalists, opposition figures, labor activists and environmentalists—of whom indigenous leader Berta Cáceres was only the most famous.

    • Pentagon Cannot Account For $6.5 Trillion Dollars

      Adding to the appearance of impropriety is the fact that thousands of documents that should be on file have been removed and disappeared without any reasonable explanation.

      A new Department of Defense Inspector General’s report, released last week, has left Americans stunned at the jaw-dropping lack of accountability and oversight. The glaring report revealed the Pentagon couldn’t account for $6.5 trillion dollars worth of Army general fund transactions and data, according to a report by the Fiscal Times.

    • Will Human Evil Destroy Life On Earth?

      The World Wildlife Fund tells us that there are only 3,890 tigers left in the entire world. Due to exploitative capitalism, which destroys the environment in behalf of short-term profits, the habitat for tigers is rapidly disappearing. The environmental destruction, together with hunting or poaching by those who regard it as manly or profitable to kill a magnificent animal, is leading to the rapid extermination of this beautiful animal. Soon tigers will only exist as exhibits in zoos.

      The same is happening to lions, cheetahs, leopards, rhinos, elephants, bobcats, wolves, bears, birds, butterflies, honey bees. You name it.

      What we are witnessing is the irresponsibility of the human race, a Satan-cursed form of life that does not belong on the beautiful planet Earth. The cursed humans are even capable of launching a nuclear war which would destroy the livability of Earth.

    • Washington’s Outrage and Excuses

      What is behind Washington’s double standards – its contrasting reactions to one set of regimes as against another? Often American politicians will talk about promoting democracy and claim that the dictators they support have a better chance of evolving in a democratic direction than those they oppose. It might be that these politicians actually believe this to be the case, at least at the moment they make these declarations. But there is no historical evidence that their claims are true. This argument is largely a face-saving one. Other underlying reasons exist for the choices they make.

    • A botched coup and Turkey’s future in western institutions

      Western interpretations of the botched coup in Turkey and its aftermath are varied. Nevertheless, if one draws a vector that represents the divergent arguments a consensus view with two components can be detected: (i) a readiness to accept the Turkish government’s argument that the coup was staged by the Islamic Gülen Movement that infiltrated the Turkish state institutions, including the military; and (ii) expressions of concerns about the future of democracy in Turkey given the announcement of a state of emergency and the extent of the post-coup purges.

      In terms of policy recommendations, there is only one recommendation in the market place: the west should try to appease Turkey, a key strategic partner in NATO and in the fight against ISIS.

    • Turkey’s Sensible Détente with Russia

      Official Washington is so set on making Russia the new boogeyman that Turkish President Erdogan’s visit there is setting off alarms, but the easing of Moscow-Ankara tensions is really a positive sign, says ex-CIA official Graham E. Fuller.

    • How ‘Think Tanks’ Generate Endless War

      U.S. “think tanks” rile up the American public against an ever-shifting roster of foreign “enemies” to justify wars which line the pockets of military contractors who kick back some profits to the “think tanks,” explains retired JAG Major Todd E. Pierce.

      [...]

      It is readily apparent now that Russia has taken its place as the primary target within U.S. sights. One doesn’t have to see the U.S. military buildup on Russia’s borders to understand that but only see the propaganda themes of our “think tanks.”

    • US Soldiers Are Relying on Millions of Dollars in Food Stamps to Survive

      Military service members on active duty spent $24 million in food stamps at military commissary shops from September 2014 to August 2015, and 45 percent of students in schools run by the military are eligible for free or reduced-price meal programs.

      For years, the military has been embarrassed by reports showing that some active-duty service members struggle to feed their families and use government benefits to get by. A recent report by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) found that the Department of Defense (DoD) does not fully understand the scope of the problem.

      The USDA runs the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), the benefits of which are commonly called food stamps. Neither the military nor the USDA tracks how many active-duty service members receive SNAP benefits, according the report.

    • Does this Change Everything? Russia’s first strikes on Syria from Iran Airbases

      Russian bombers for the first time have taken off from bases in Iran to carry out air strikes on rebel targets in Syria.

      The US military is complaining that under a Russian agreement with the US, it was supposed to get a timely notification of Russia air strikes so they could avoid any conflicts. The Russians appear to have given the Americans last-minute notice– enough so that the US could make the necessary arrangements, but only barely so. Likely Russia did not want to give the US time to complain about the basing in Iran or to try to pressure Moscow back out of this plan.

      According to Russian sources, this procedure is a matter of saving money on logistics. But the move will inevitably be seen in the light of grand strategy. A tightening of Russian-Iranian security cooperation will be seen by Saudi Arabia and Israel as a threat, and since those two countries have the most powerful lobbies in Washington, it will view the development as threatening, as well.

    • Ron Jacobs: Media spends time and money to make terrorists as celebrities
    • Rights Groups Sound Alarm Over Devastating Use of Incendiary Weapons in Syria

      News of Russia’s use of incendiary weapons comes at the same time that joint U.S.-Russia airstrikes against rebel groups are being proposed. An aid worker interviewed by The Intercept said that such a collaboration would be “ludicrous and diabolical.”

      The Intercept explains that in the past several months, “the United States has repeatedly signaled plans to strike opposition forces in Syria, largely due to fears that al Qaeda-linked groups were making gains in the conflict.”

    • Fire deaths rise in England prompts ‘postcode lottery’ claim

      The number of people dying in fire-related incidents in England has seen its biggest percentage increase in 20 years.

      Data published by the Home Office shows 303 people died in fires in 2015-16, a 15% increase on the previous 12 months.

      Fire services in Cambridgeshire and Cumbria had the highest fatality rates.

      Fire Service Minister Brandon Lewis said there had been “a long term downward trend” in fire deaths.

    • Complicit in Civilian Carnage, US Support for War in Yemen Called ‘Indefensible’

      Amid an escalation of violence, increasing numbers of civilian casualties, and a nearly unprecedented humanitarian crisis in Yemen, the New York Times editorial board on Wednesday called the United States “complicit in the carnage” and demanded the Obama administration end its support for the Saudi-led coalition which has repeatedly been accused of war crimes by critics.

    • America Is Complicit in the Carnage in Yemen

      A hospital associated with Doctors Without Borders. A school. A potato chip factory. Under international law, those facilities in Yemen are not legitimate military targets. Yet all were bombed in recent days by warplanes belonging to a coalition led by Saudi Arabia, killing more than 40 civilians.

      The United States is complicit in this carnage. It has enabled the coalition in many ways, including selling arms to the Saudis to mollify them after the nuclear deal with Iran. Congress should put the arms sales on hold and President Obama should quietly inform Riyadh that the United States will withdraw crucial assistance if the Saudis do not stop targeting civilians and agree to negotiate peace.

    • War to ‘Stop’ War: Why the Obama Doctrine is Ravaging the Middle East

      Now that the Americans have launched yet another aerial war against Libya, purportedly to target ‘Daesh’ positions there, the discussion is being carefully geared towards how far the US must go to defeat the militant group?

      In fact, “can airstrikes alone win a war without ‘boots on the ground’?” has morphed, somehow, to become the crux of the matter, which has engaged a large number of intellectuals on both sides of the debate.

    • While Beijing and Manila Talk, Washington Spoiling for a Fight

      As much as Washington may hate it, the fact is Beijing and Manila are diplomatically discussing the situation in the South China Sea.

      Champagne bottles are not popping yet, but Special Philippine envoy, former President Fidel Ramos, did go to Hong Kong, and on behalf of President Rodrigo Duterte, got together with Fu Ying, the chairwoman of the foreign affairs committee of the National People’s Congress. On the record, Ramos made sure that Manila is all in for formal negotiations.

      The starting block concerns some fishy business – literally. Beijing and Manila may be on their way already to open the highly disputed Scarborough shoal, which falls right into what Manila describes as the West Philippine Sea, to both Chinese and Filipino fishermen, as in the joint development of fish farms.

      Wu Shicun, president of the National Institute for South China Sea Studies, let it be known that Ramos’s visit to Hong Kong was just an opener. Of course his next step will have to be a trip to Beijing to talk to the high-stakes power players. Then the way will be paved for a formal Duterte state visit.

      So, for the moment, everyone is behaving in a very Asian “win-win” way, with no loss of face involved. And yet, in parallel, there’s been speculation that Beijing has identified a unique widow of opportunity between the G-20 in Huangzhou, next month, and the US presidential election in early November, to come up with extra “facts on the sea” in the form of added reclamation and building of naval installations.

      What Beijing wants in the long term is clear. Scarborough shoal in particular is a key piece in the larger puzzle. A Chinese airstrip is all but inevitable because it extends the reach of the PLA’s air force by over 1,000km, and positions it to be active off Luzon, no less than the gateway to the Western Pacific.

      With the airstrip in Scarborough shoal and an early warning system on Macclesfield Bank – just east of the Paracel Islands – Beijing will be finally able to “see” all the action, friendly but mostly unfriendly, emanating from the sprawling US naval base at Guam.

    • Ten Times Worse Than Hell: A Syrian Doctor on the Humanitarian Catastrophe in Aleppo

      In the latest escalation of the war in Syria, Russia has begun launching airstrikes from an Iranian air base. The New York Times reports this marks the first time since World War II that a foreign military has operated from a base on Iranian soil. The move comes as fighting has intensified around Aleppo, Syria’s largest city. Earlier this month, rebels fighting the Syrian government began a new offensive to break an ongoing government-backed siege of the city. The rebels have been led in part by an offshoot of the Nusra Front, which up until last month had been aligned with al-Qaeda. The International Committee of the Red Cross has described the fight for Aleppo as “beyond doubt one of the most devastating urban conflicts in modern times.” The United Nations is warning of a dire humanitarian crisis as millions are left without water or electricity. For more on the humanitarian and medical crisis in Syria, we speak with Dr. Zaher Sahloul, founder of the American Relief Coalition for Syria and senior adviser and former president of the Syrian American Medical Society. He has visited Aleppo five times since the war began.

    • “What Would She Do in Iraq?”: As Clinton Slams Trump for ISIS Speech, We Look at Her Own Positions

      On Monday, while Trump was speaking in Youngstown, Ohio, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Vice President Joe Biden held a rally in Scranton, Pennsylvania. Scranton is Biden’s hometown. During her speech, Hillary Clinton slammed Trump’s foreign policy positions on Syria and fighting ISIS. But what about her own positions? For more, we speak with Phyllis Bennis, author of “Understanding ISIS and the New Global War on Terror.” We also speak with co-founder of the Muslim Democratic Club of New York Linda Sarsour.

    • Amnesty law nullifyed in El Salvador: knowing the truth and taking the victims into account

      The Truth Commission’s report “From Madness to Hope: The Twelve Year War in El Salvador” was published on the 15th of March, 1993, 26 months after the signing of the Chapultepec Accords. The report stated that over 75,000 people were tortured, extrajudicially executed or disappeared during the war. State agents, paramilitary groups and death squads are responsible for 90% of crimes and 3.3% are attributed to guerrillas and other armed unidentified people. With the intention of understanding the letter and spirit of the Truth Commission’s report, we spoke with one of the three assigned commissioners from the United Nations, former Foreign Minister of Venezuela, Reinaldo Figueredo Planchart.

    • Medea Benjamin’s Kingdom of the Unjust

      For years and years, activists demanded that the U.S. government make public 28 (turned out to be 29) pages it had censored from a report, because it was suspected they would show a Saudi Arabian role in funding and facilitating the crimes of September 11, 2001. When the pages were finally made public, they showed a great deal of evidence of exactly that. But the U.S. government and its pet media outlets buried the story on a Friday evening, declared that verily this is that, and moved on.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • NPR Host Demands That Assange Do Something Its Own Reporters Are Told Never to Do

      In a ten-minute interview aired Wednesday morning, NPR’s David Greene asked Wikileaks founder Julian Assange five times to reveal the sources of the leaked information he has published on the internet.

      A major tenet of American journalism is that reporters protect their sources. Wikileaks is certainly not a traditional news organization, but Greene’s persistent attempts to get Assange to violate confidentiality was alarming, especially considering that there has been no challenge to the authenticity of the material in question.

      In the interview, conducted over Skype, Greene pressed Assange to verify the theory that the 20,000 leaked emails from the Democratic National Committee that Wikileaks published came from Russia.

      “Did those hacks that Wikileaks released, did those emails come from Russia?” Greene asked.

      “Well we don’t comment as to our sources,” Assange replied. He remains confined in the Ecuadorian embassy in London where he has lived since 2012, despite a U.N. panel’s ruling that he has been “arbitrarily detained.”

    • WikiLeaks Game Can Turn Kremlin Fortress Into Glass House

      For the first time since the 1950s, Russian subversion of the American political process has become a presidential campaign issue.

      The Kremlin’s latest act of espionage-driven propaganda–document dump of Democratic National Committee emails via WikiLeaks–achieved its desired effect of immediate politicization. We should step back to learn two lessons, and creatively fight back.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • Burning in Indonesia may bring in transboundary haze

      The number of hotspots in Sumatra, Indonesia increased yesterday while Kalimantan recorded fewer hotspots, said Natural Resources and Environment Minister Dato Sri Dr Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar.

      “Under these unpredictable circumstances, it is clear that fires are burning in Indonesia but substantially less than what we saw in 2015.

      “But (it is) still too early to tell as now it is only August. Last year, it began in August (and) peaked in September and early October,” he told The Borneo Post when contacted yesterday.

    • VW in talks to settle US criminal probe over Dieselgate

      Embattled German carmaker Volkswagen has reportedly held preliminary talks with the US Justice Department aimed at resolving a criminal probe into its diesel emissions scandal.

    • August 2016: Louisiana Flooding

      National Geodetic Survey collects damage assessment images in aftermath of severe storms and flooding

    • NASA Study Nails Fracking as Source of Massive Methane ‘Hot Spot’

      A NASA study released on Monday confirms that a methane “hot spot” in the Four Corners region of the American southwest is directly related to leaks from natural gas extraction, processing, and distribution.

      The 2,500-square mile plume, first detected in 2003 and confirmed by NASA satellite data in October 2014, is said to be the largest concentration of atmospheric methane in the U.S. and is more than triple a standard ground-based estimate. Methane, the primary component of natural gas, is a highly-efficient greenhouse gas—84 times more powerful than carbon dioxide, and a significant contributor to global warming.

      The study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences and funded primarily by NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), surveyed industry sources including gas processing facilities, storage tanks, pipeline leaks, and well pads, as well as a coal mine venting shaft.

      It found that leaks from only 10 percent of the individual methane sources are contributing to half of the emissions, confirming the scientists’ suspicions that the mysterious hotspot was connected to the high level of fracking in the region.

    • Clinton Transition Team Headed by Anti-Climate ‘Powerbroker’

      Hillary Clinton has named her transition team should she be elected in November, and the roster—as many feared—is a who’s-who of establishment figures, including former Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, who has a maligned track record on climate.

      The team will also include former national security adviser Tom Donilon, former Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm, president of the Center for American Progress (CAP) Neera Tanden, and director of Harvard University’s Institute of Politics Maggie Williams. Two of the campaign’s policy advisers, Ed Meier and Ann O’Leary, will also serve as co-executive directors.

      Salazar, whose career includes positions both in government and corporate Washington, D.C. firms, has previously pushed for projects that are reviled among environmental activists, such as fracking, the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP), and the Keystone XL pipeline.

      Just a year ago, Clinton and Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) penned an op-ed for the Huffington Post decrying the cyclical nature of Capitol Hill institutions that enable lawmakers and lobbyists to jump in and out of the private and public sectors.

    • As Renewables Soar, Oil Industry Launches New PR Offensive

      As the renewable revolution gathers a pace, the oil industry has launched yet another PR offensive trying to rebrand fossil fuels as sustainable.

      So first the good news. The percentage of electricity generated by renewables in the world’s largest economies has soared by 70 per cent over the last five years, according to new research.

      Data compiled by the Bloomberg New Energy Finance research group for the Financial Times reveals that a real “shift away from fossil fuels is starting to take hold in some regions”.

      The data reveals that G20 countries collectively produced 8 per cent of their electricity from solar, wind and other renewable sources in 2015, up from 4.6 per cent in 2010.

      Germany now tops the list of seven G20 members who generate over 10 per cent of their electricity from renewables, with the country producing over a third of its electricity from renewables.

      Despite Obama’s efforts to cut fossil fuels from the country’s generation mix, the US still lags behind, generating only about 8 per cent of power from renewables.

    • Dakota Pipeline Would Make Water the New ‘Oil,’ Devastating All but the Rich

      Our protest against the destruction of Ina Maka (Mother Earth) started when the first European set foot on Turtle Island [North America] over 400 years ago. We Dakota believe we are related to everything in the universe. We say Mitákuye Oyás’in. The phrase translates in English as “all my relatives,” “we are all related” or “all my relations.” It is a prayer of oneness and harmony with all forms of life: other people, animals, birds, insects, trees and plants, and even rocks, rivers, mountains and valleys. We respect all living creatures, especially Mother Earth. Why would we destroy our own mother who feeds us, who provides us shelter, who embraces the remains of our ancestors?

    • Tribal Activists Defy Lawsuit, Vow Continued Resistance Against Dakota Pipeline

      An epic battle over land rights is being waged in the Dakotas, as a local Indigenous community, facing arrests and litigation, is standing firm in its resistance to a massive Bakken crude pipeline project.

      Developers of the $3.8 billion Dakota Access (also known as the Bakken) Pipeline filed suit in federal court on Monday against members of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe, whose days-long civil disobedience campaign last week stalled construction of the 1,200-mile pipeline.

      Dakota Access LLC is “seeking restraining orders and unspecified monetary damages,” the Associated Press reports. In court papers, the companies argues that the tribal activists “have created and will continue to create a risk of bodily injury and harm to Dakota Access employees and contractors, as well as to law enforcement personnel and other individuals at the construction site.”

    • Disasters like Louisiana floods will worsen as planet warms, scientists warn

      The historic and devastating floods in Louisiana are the latest in a series of heavy deluges that some climate scientists warn will become even more common as the world continues to warm.

      On Tuesday, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (Noaa) is set to classify the Louisiana disaster as the eighth flood considered to be a once-in-every-500-years event to have taken place in the US in little over 12 months.

      Since May of last year, dozens of people have been killed and thousands of homes have been swamped with water in extreme events in Oklahoma, Texas, South Carolina, West Virginia and Maryland. Noaa considers these floods extreme because, based on historical rainfall records, they should be expected to occur only once every 500 years.

    • Scientists Say Expect More 1,000-Year Events Like Louisiana Flood

      The flooding has caused the death of eight people and affected 40,000 homes and businesses, according to the Associated Press.

    • Louisiana left stunned by damage from ’1,000-year’ flood: ‘It just kept coming’

      An enormous and slow-moving rainstorm has laid waste to much of southern Louisiana, which the National Weather Service has called a “1,000-year” disaster.

      By Monday afternoon, more than 20,000 residents had been rescued from the historic floodwaters, and as many as seven had died.

      People here stay prepared for hurricanes, and all the cataclysm they bring. But this storm did not arrive with noise and velocity; instead it unfolded over several days, sneaking up almost without notice. Then the rivers topped their banks.

      In Tangipahoa parish, Louisiana, Donnie Prince woke up Thursday morning to the sound of police on a bullhorn.

    • Wildfires Are Getting Worse: Time to Rehydrate Our Landscapes

      The west is still in the thick of wildfire season and 2016 is already one to leave Smoky the Bear in tears. California is seeing a 20 percent uptick in fires compared to 2015—itself a rough fire year—while a fast-moving blaze has virtually destroyed the California town of Lower Lake. A story in today’s Washington Post grimly begins: “California is burning.”

      While fire is always part of nature, many attribute its increased frequency and intensity to climate change. Certainly, that makes sense: longer stretches of warm weather and earlier snowmelt create a fire-friendly scenario. But what does this connection do for us, beyond providing another reason to rue the continued assaults on our climate? For the terms “climate change” and “global warming” elide the dynamics that create the constellation of factors that, collectively, we call climate. However, by zeroing in on the ecology of fire-prone regions, we can find ways to minimize the risk and severity of the fires that threaten homes and wilderness areas—not to mention the lives of firefighters.

    • The Axis Of Destruction And Hope

      If you want to understand the climate crisis today, you need to journey roughly along the 95th parallel, from Louisiana in the south to the the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation in the Dakotas.

      In the Bayou State, there’s great courage, as local people work to rescue their neighbors from rising waters. So far, 20,000 people have been snatched to safety from homes, offices, hospitals, schools in the wake of a three-day siege of endless rain that broke flood records on river after river. The images are astonishing, like something from Mad Max: a thousand cars trapped on an interstate as helicopters dropped food to keep people alive.

    • Impacts of neonicotinoid use on long-term population changes in wild bees in England
    • 18 Years of Data Links Neonics to Bee Decline

      A new study, published Tuesday in the journal Nature Communications, looks at wild bee populations relative to the use of neonics on the oilseed rape plant in England over 18 years, from 1994-2011. The researchers found that population extinction rates went up along with the pesticide use on the plants, which are widespread throughout the country.

      “The negative effects that have been reported previously do scale up to long-term, large-scale multi-species impacts that are harmful,” Dr. Nick Isaac, a co-author of the report, told the BBC. “Neonicotinoids are harmful, we can be very confident about that and our mean correlation is three times more negative for foragers than for non-foragers.”

      Across the 34 species analyzed in the study, there was a 10 percent decline in populations attributable to neonic use, the BBC said. Five of the species dropped off by 20 percent or more, and the most affected group went down by 30 percent. In total, half of the population decline in wild bees could be linked to the pesticides, the researchers said.

    • Koch Brothers Waging War Against Local Effort to Expose Dark Money

      A state ballot measure seeking to end political corruption has won the ire of the billionaire Koch Brothers, who have relied on secret donations to conservative interest groups to influence elections coast to coast.

      South Dakota’s Initiated Measure 22 (pdf), dubbed the Government Accountability and Anti-Corruption Act, seeks to “ensur[e] that special interest lobbyists and their cronies aren’t buying influence with our elected officials,” according to proponents South Dakotans for Integrity.

      Specifically, it calls for public disclosure of donors to campaigns and advocacy groups; lowers contribution amounts and imposes limits on political action committees, political parties, and candidates; and it creates an ethics commission to enforce campaign finance and lobby rules. Further, it establishes a publicly funded campaign finance program for state and legislative candidates.

      State residents will have the chance to vote on the measure in November and, apparently, the Koch-backed Americans for Prosperity (AFP) is hoping to quash this effort before it gains traction in South Dakota, or anywhere else.

    • Forced to Reckon with Rising Seas, Alaskan Village Votes on Relocation

      Residents of a remote Alaskan village will find out Wednesday if they are to become the first American community to become climate refugees.

      Rapidly rising sea levels are forcing the 650-person village of Shishmaref, which lies just north of the Bering Strait, to consider relocating. Residents voted Tuesday and the city clerk said that results will be announced Wednesday.

      As for where they will go, the community will decide later at a town meeting. The move is estimated to cost $180 million.

      “The sea ice used to protect Shishmaref, which is built on a barrier island and largely inhabited by members of the Inupiat Inuit tribe,” wrote the Guardian. “But now that the ice is melting, the village is in peril from encroaching waves, especially as the permafrost on which it is built is thawing, and crumbling beneath the mostly prefabricated houses. Barricades and sea walls have had little effect.”

    • Alaskan village votes on whether to relocate because of climate change

      If they vote to move, the village of Shishmaref, just north of the Bering Strait, and its population of 650 people, could be the first in the US to do so because of climate change.

      The village would be relocated at an estimated cost of $180m to a new location less threatened by rising waters and melting sea ice. Where it would move would be decided later in a town meeting, according to the city clerk’s office.

    • [Older] Unable to Endure Rising Seas, Alaskan Villages Stuck in Limbo
    • Rethink needed on Paris emissions targets

      The historic international agreement to limit global warming to a global average rise of 1.5°C may be a case of too little, too late.

      In December last year, 195 nations at the Paris climate summit promised a programme of action to contain greenhouse gas emissions and limit climate change. But UK scientists now warn that humans may have already emitted enough carbon dioxide into the planetary atmosphere to take air temperatures over land to above 1.5°C.

      And that means nations may have to think again about what constitutes a “safe” global temperature threshold.

      Chris Huntingford, climate modeller at the UK’s Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, and Lina Mercado, senior lecturer in physical geography at the University of Exeter write in the Scientific Reports journal that even supposing humans stabilise greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere – and although action has been promised, far more has to be achieved before that could happen – temperatures over land are very likely to go beyond the proposed limit.

    • New Koch-Funded Group ‘Fueling US Forward’ Aims to Promote the “Positives” of Fossil Fuels

      A long-awaited campaign to rebrand fossil fuels called Fueling U.S. Forward made its public debut at the Red State Gathering 2016 on Saturday, where the organization’s President and CEO Charles Drevna gave attendees the inside scoop on the effort, and confirmed that the campaign is backed financially by Koch Industries.

      Back in February, Peter Stone first reported in the Huffington Post that a $10 million-a-year effort was proposed by a Koch Industries board member, James Mahoney, and Mr. Drevna, aiming “to boost petroleum-based transportation fuels and attack government subsidies for electric vehicles.” In early August, the Fueling U.S. Forward website launched, and on Saturday, the first public comments were made about the campaign by Mr. Drevna, and they revealed a lot about how the Koch-backed initiative is working to re-frame fossil fuels.

      “We need a sustainable energy to ensure the future of the country,” Mr. Drevna told the audience.

      The source of that energy? That which Mr. Drevna labeled “reliable, abundant, efficient and sustainable fuels.”

      “Folks, that’s of course the fossil fuels,” he immediately added.

      Never mind that fossil fuels don’t align with any dictionary definition of “sustainable,” as oil, gas and coal reserves are limited to what’s buried in the ground, unlike renewable sources of energy. Technically speaking, fossil fuels are the opposite of sustainable energy sources — but that fact did little to slow Mr. Drevna down as he made what he called the “pro-human” case for burning fossil fuels.

    • How to Change Our Pathetic Green Infrastructure

      The United Kingdom, which is already world famous for its green gardens and even greener countryside, is about to get even greener. That’s because according to a new report from Japanese car maker Nissan, it could soon have more electric car charging stations than traditional gas stations.

      The UK is currently home to around 4,100 electric charging stations and 8,400 gas stations, but if currents trends continue, it will have more than 7,900 charging stations and just 7,870 gas stations by 2020.

      Once again our European friends are leaving us in the dust.

      With about 12 gas stations for every one electric charging station, it’s going to take a long time for the United States to catch up with the United Kingdom’s all-out embrace of the electric car revolution. So why is that?

  • Finance

    • An Olympic Event Where 1st Prize Is the Chance to Lose Billions

      Behind the scenes of the Olympic matchups and rivalries that draw large crowds here, there is stealth competition taking place in the hallways and hotels of this beach town worth tens of billions of dollars. It is a bidding war that could rival the most ferocious auction on Wall Street.

      Armies of delegates from four cities — led by a series of moguls, bankers, businessmen and government officials — have been quietly battling one another here to court the leadership of the International Olympic Committee in hopes of being awarded the 2024 Summer Games. The delegates, representing Los Angeles, Paris, Rome and Budapest, have been scoping out the venues, receiving briefings on the massive security operation and taking meetings with just about anyone who can conceivably influence the outcome.

    • India: Kerala’s Stalinist-led government pursuing pro-business agenda

      Kerala’s three month-old, Stalinist-led, Left Democratic Front (LDF) state government is eagerly pursuing a rightwing agenda aimed at wooing domestic and international big business.

      Led by Kerala Chief Minister and Communist Party of India (Marxist) Politburo Member Pinarayi Vijayan, the LDF is a hodgepodge of Stalinist and smaller regional parties. It is led by the Communist Party (Marxist) or CPM and its older, smaller twin, the Communist Party of India (CPI). It includes various split-offs from the Congress Party, the Indian bourgeoisie’s traditional party of government and the LDF’s main electoral rival in Kerala, a southwestern state with a population of almost 35 million.

      So forthright have been the pro-business policies Vijayan has pursued during his brief tenure in office, sections of the corporate media are comparing him favorably with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. An arch-right winger and rabid Hindu communalist, Modi has slashed social spending, lifted numerous caps on foreign investment, and accelerated “disinvestment,” that is, the sell-off of state-owned companies.

    • Gimme a Break! IRS Tax Loophole Can Reward Excessive Water Use in Drought-stricken West

      ProPublica’s reporting on the water crisis in the American West has highlighted any number of confounding contradictions worsening the problem: Farmers are encouraged to waste water so as to protect their legal rights to its dwindling supply in the years ahead; Las Vegas sought to impose restrictions on water use while placing no checks on its explosive population growth; the federal government has encouraged farmers to improve efficiency in watering crops, but continues to subsidize the growing of thirsty crops such as cotton in desert states like Arizona.

      Today, we offer another installment in the contradictions amid a crisis.

      In parts of the western U.S., wracked by historic drought, you can get a tax break for using an abundance of water.

    • New Clinton Transition Head Has Some TPP ‘Splainin To Do

      Salazar was also a member of the pro-TPP corporate front-group “Progressive Coalition for American Jobs”. Two March, 2015 posts, “A Trade Campaign Built On Four Pinocchios” and “Deval Patrick, Others To Advise AstroTurf Pro-TPP/Fast Track Group” exposed this group as a pro-TPP front.

      Someone needs to ask Salazar and Clinton to explain what this says about Clinton’s support/opposition to a lame-duck vote on TPP – as well as future job-killing trade deals.

    • Rock Against the TPP heads to Portland, Seattle, and San Francisco

      As the Rock Against the TPP tour continues its way around the country, word is spreading that it’s not too late for us to stop the undemocratic Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) in its tracks. The tour kicked off in Denver on July 23 with a line-up that included Tom Morello, Evangeline Lilly, and Anti-Flag, before hitting San Diego the following week where Jolie Holland headlined. You can check out the powerful vibe of the kick-off show below.

    • Obama Provokes Progressive Outrage with All-Out TPP Push

      In defiant opposition to this election’s anti-trade sentiment, President Barack Obama is provoking progressive outrage with events around the country in an “all-out push,” as Politico puts it, to ratify the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) during the upcoming lame-duck session of Congress.

    • Obama to take trade battle to the heartland

      And there have been defections since then: At least nine House GOP lawmakers who supported fast-track authority oppose TPP itself. Those include Frank Guinta, Mike Bost and Tom Reed, who have independently come out against the deal. It also includes House Transportation Chairman Bill Shuster and House Administration Chairwoman Candice Miller, both of whom signed a letter this month with four other lawmakers saying they could not support TPP in the lame duck because it doesn’t include enforceable rules on currency manipulation. Meanwhile, the Republican platform approved in Cleveland last month said no “significant” trade deals should get votes during the lame-duck session.

    • Fight for $15 plans next steps forward at national convention

      Thousands converged in Richmond, Virginia over the weekend to participate in the Fight For $15’s first-ever national convention. Central to the two-day gathering was the historic Richmond Resolution, a statement of purpose and strategy that members approved unanimously on August 13. The convention culminated on Saturday, as 8,000 people marched in sweltering heat to demonstrate their support for the resolution and their determination to see their agenda through the remainder of election season.

      From the start, it was clear that organizers would emphasize the intersectionality of racial and economic justice. According to Fight for $15 national organizer Kendall Fells, the choice of Richmond for the convention underscored this framework. “We chose Richmond because it’s the onetime capital of the Confederacy,” he told the Richmond Times-Dispatch, “and we want to draw links between the way workers are treated today and the racist history of the United States.”

    • A Victory for Postal Banking

      Underbanked and Overcharged found that over one in five households (mostly Black, Latino, or Native American) are underserved by the banking industry, costing these households an average of $3,029 per year in fees and interest just to access their own money. This additional cost takes a total of $103 billion per year out of the communities that need it most.

    • Is it time for universal basic income in the UK?

      Universal basic income is not a new idea. It was way back in 1795 that Thomas Paine, an American revolutionary, first talked about the citizen’s dividend. The idea was to pay all US citizens a regular payment as compensation for “loss of his or her natural inheritance, by the introduction of the system of landed property”.

      This ground breaking idea lay fairly dormant for a hundred years until the beginning of the 20th Century. Since then the idea has come in and out of fashion in three times, each time getting closer to becoming a political reality.

      In the early 1900s a broad selection of philosophers, writers, politicians and social movements began writing about and pushing for the idea. It grabbed the attention of many but failed to become a full movement, losing momentum when the welfare state was introduced.

      The second wave emerged in the USA in the 60s as the focus of the social movements of the day turned from civil to welfare rights culminating in 1972 Presidential election when candidates of the day backed the idea. Although it did not become a political reality due to disagreements in how the idea should be implemented, it paved the way for a number of social policies such as food stamps still present in the USA today.

    • Socialism is obvious

      As it turns out, socialism is increasingly obvious for folks on this side of the pond. Like Bernie Sanders. And Mark Workin and Melissa Young, who made the film Shift Change. And Richard Wolff, through Democracy at Work.

    • It’s time for development banks to start listening

      Almost a year ago, the United Nations set the Sustainable Development Goals, an ambitious blueprint for governments and financiers to use their political power and resources to end poverty, hunger, and disease.

      But the success (or failure) of this effort won’t depend on just the usual big players. Far more important than governments and international donors are the individuals and civic organizations that will help design, carry out, and monitor the development projects on which the whole scheme depends. Without vibrant civil societies, the Sustainable Development Goals are dead in the water.

      Only the individuals and communities meant to be the beneficiaries of development know best what their needs are and how they can be met. And it is the civil society groups and activists who can make sure that development resources reach their intended destinations and achieve their objectives. It’s the women’s cooperative in Senegal that will show how to design an effective irrigation system. It’s the community group in Bangladesh that will ensure that the schools promised in the government’s education budget are actually built.

      But the whole project of sustainable, participatory development is in danger. Around the world, groups and activists who work to improve development proposals, or speak out about problems with infrastructure or energy projects, increasingly find themselves threatened, intimidated, and even violently attacked by governments, investors, private security forces, and others who want to avoid scrutiny.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Serb Who Inspired Ethnic Cleansing of Bosnia Leads “Vote Trump” Rally in Belgrade

      The activists, led by the head of Serbia’s ultranationalist Radical Party, Vojislav Seselj, chanted “Donald Trump!” and marched outside the country’s Parliament wearing T-shirts bearing the name and likeness of the American candidate.

    • Donald Trump Proposes Banning Immigrants Based on Ideology, But Bush and Obama Got There First

      Donald Trump’s plan to apply an “ideological screening test” on would-be immigrants has been denounced as “un-American,” and “a nonstarter.” But the U.S. government already can and does bar immigration on ideological grounds – and has abused that power.

      In addition to dramatically expanding government surveillance, the Patriot Act passed by Congress soon after the 9/11 terror attacks allows the State Department to exclude anyone who it determines “undermines the United States efforts to reduce or eliminate terrorist activities.”

      The Bush administration used that power to deny entry to leftist activists and administration critics. The list of those denied visas includes South African anti-apartheid activist Adam Habib, Greek economist Yoannis Milios, Nicaraguan reformist and academic Dora Maria Tellez, Bolivian scholar Waskar Ari, and English hip-hop singer M.I.A, — just to name a few.

    • DC Cooties

      There have been a series of stories fed to the press this week intended to heighten concerns about Trump advisor Paul Manafort’s ties to Russian thugs (but not his numerous ties to other thugs). The NYT had a story about Manafort receiving cash payments from 2007 to 2012 (that is, well before Trump decided to run for President). And the AP has a story headlined, “AP Sources: Manafort tied to undisclosed foreign lobbying” that describes how Manafort’s partner, Rick Gates, funneled funds from a pro-Yanukovych non-profit to two DC lobbying firms.

      [...]

      In other words, the headline and lead of this story should say something to the effect of, “Trump’s campaign manager’s partner funneled potentially illegal funds to Hillary’s campaign manager’s brother.”

      Or more succinctly: “DC is a corrupt, incestuous cesspool.”

      But it doesn’t. Instead of telling the story about the broken foreign registry system that permits elites of both parties to take funding from some unsavory characters — some we like, some we hate — the story instead spins this as a uniquely Trump and Manafort problem.

      Sure. Vladimir Putin is one scary bastard. But there are a lot of scary bastards, and they’re feeding both sides of the DC pig’s trough.

    • 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.

    • Why Not Expand the Presidential Debates?

      Amid unprecedented dissatisfaction with the two major party candidates, public interest in opening the presidential debates to the Libertarian and Green party nominees should be honored, says Jeff Cohen.

    • America’s Journalistic Hypocrites

      The U.S. news media flip-flops on whether international law is inviolate or can be brushed aside at America’s whim – and similarly whether killing civilians is justified or not depending on who’s doing the killing, says Robert Parry.

    • Ignorance Is Not a Virtue, and Knowledge Is Not a Vice

      Ignorance is not a virtue. Knowledge is not a vice. Pointy-heads who spend years gaining expertise in a given field may make mistakes, but the remedy is to replace them with pointy-heads who have different views—not with know-nothings who would try to navigate treacherous terrain on instinct alone. (See: Trump’s policy positions on, well, anything.)

      As for the much-disparaged media, I get emails every day from people who demand to know why we in the “MSM” or “corporate media” are covering up some scandal. The emails then go on to describe said scandal at great length and in microscopic detail, often quoting stories from The Washington Post, The New York Times, NBC News or other leading media outlets. I often write back that if we’re trying to cover up the outrage in question, we’re obviously doing a lousy job.

    • Trumpism: Made in the United States by Republican Hate and Democratic Hypocrisy

      The Republican, white-nationalist Donald Trump slanders and insults Latinos, Muslims and women. He promotes violence. He mocks the disabled. He refers to himself as brilliant, citing his fortune—obscenely accumulated over decades of predatory business practices that cheat workers and consumers—as “proof.”

      He feuds with the gold star parents of a Muslim U.S. soldier killed in Iraq, claiming that he too has “sacrificed” (like the dead soldier and his parents) by employing “thousands and thousands of people.” It was a remarkable comment: Being born into wealth and in a position to hire a large number of people is not a “sacrifice.” If Trump isn’t reaping profits from all those workers under his command, he must not really be the brilliant, capitalist businessman he claims to be.

      A military veteran gives the Republican presidential candidate his Purple Heart medal, bestowed on soldiers injured in battle. Trump quips, “I always wanted a Purple Heart. This was a lot easier.” Unreal. Donald Trump, Mr. Sacrifice, used college deferments to avoid the draft during the Vietnam War.

      How is this noxious candidate even within shouting distance of Hillary Clinton? Let’s separate the fact from the fiction.

    • Jill Stein: ‘There Should Have Been a Full Investigation’ of Clinton’s Email Server (Video)

      On Monday, news broke that the Federal Bureau of Investigation is turning over to Congress information from its investigation of Hillary Clinton’s private email server. It’s expected that the agency will hand over “notes from the interviews of Clinton and other witnesses in the investigation.”

      In a CNN interview with Carol Costello on Monday, Green Party presidential nominee Jill Stein explained her stance on the email scandal. “I think there should have been a full investigation,” she said. “I think the American people are owed an explanation for what happened and why top-secret information was put at risk.”

      “Do you think that that [congressional] oversight committee should open up an investigation into Mrs. Clinton’s private email server?” Costello asked.

      “Yes, I do, because we’re talking about state secrets,” Stein replied. “If [Clinton] wasn’t aware that she was violating State Department rules, it raises real issues about her competency.”

    • A Still Uncertain Election

      In recent weeks the billionaire businessman has generated extreme turmoil within his own party by mocking the Muslim parents of a U.S. Army captain killed in Iraq, refusing to support the re-election of key Republicans (such as House Speaker Paul D. Ryan), questioning why he shouldn’t use nuclear weapons, and — to top it off — seeming to call for gun owners to protect the 2nd Amendment by, well, shooting Clinton. There’s no telling what absurdity he will utter next.

    • Trump Campaign Blames “Scammers” After Being Busted (Again) For Soliciting Foreign Donations

      An Australian Member of Parliament is still receiving messages from the Donald Trump presidential campaign asking for money, more than a month after the illegal solicitations were first reported to the Department of Justice and the Federal Elections Commission (FEC).

      MP Terri Butler informed The Hill that she received a Trump fundraising email on August 14. It was the latest in a series of automated fundraising messages from the GOP nominee’s campaign that Butler and other foreign lawmakers have received, dating back to June.

      It is against the law for campaigns to receive or even seek out foreign donations. The Trump campaign’s repeated violations suggest that it is either flouting federal election rules or that it lacks internal controls to maintain compliant mailing lists.

      A Trump campaign official, however, blamed outside agitators. They told The Hill that the campaign “routinely checks” their mailing lists for foreign nationals, but that sometimes “scammers will continue to try to add them to our system.”

    • Why Did Clinton Just Tap a Pro-TPP, Pro-KXL, Pro-Fracking Politician to Head Her Transition Team?

      Hillary Clinton has announced former Interior Secretary Ken Salazar as the head of her transition team. Salazar is a former U.S. senator from Colorado who now works at WilmerHale, one of the most influential lobbying firms in Washington. Some groups have criticized Salazar’s selection due to his vocal support of fracking, the Trans-Pacific Partnership and the Keystone XL pipeline. In addition to Ken Salazar, other leaders of the transition team include former Obama National Security Adviser Tom Donilon, Center for American Progress head Neera Tanden, former Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm and Maggie Williams, the director of Harvard’s Institute of Politics. For more, we speak with David Sirota, senior editor for investigations at the International Business Times.

    • The phony populism of Donald Trump

      Last week, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump suggested that “Second Amendment people” could rise up against Hillary Clinton if she wins the election and called President Obama “the founder of ISIS.” He also delivered a policy speech at the Detroit Economic Club that, understandably, received much less attention.

      Given Trump’s near-constant breaches of common decency, many people have given up on parsing the details of his policies, which can feel at times like complaining about the music in a crashing car. Yet while Trump’s affinity for regressive economics is nowhere near the top of the list of reasons to oppose him, there is still a real possibility that he could become the nation’s chief policymaker, and the policies he outlined last week counteract one of the prevailing narratives of the election — that Trump is a “populist.”

      Over the course of the campaign, Trump has been consistently portrayed as a populist candidate, the Republican counterpart to Bernie Sanders in a race shaped by widespread anger toward the political and economic elite. This perception has been reinforced by Trump’s ritual humiliation of the Republican Party establishment in the primaries, as well as his overwhelming reliance on the support of working-class whites.

    • Addressing White Privilege Is Only a Small Step in Combating Systemic Racism

      Clinton has had trouble in the past for failing to listen to the concerns of people of color. Take, for example, the time she shut down Black Lives Matter protesters at one of her speaking events (something her husband is also guilty of doing). And Kaine has faced criticism for his support of Project Exile when he was mayor of Richmond, Va. The project “was to literally live up to its name by making illegal gun possession a federal, not a state, crime, which allowed prosecutors to send convicted felons, most of them black, to a distant federal penitentiary for at least five years,” writes James Oliphant of Reuters.

    • Libertarians Love Civil Liberties—but Won’t Use Government to Protect Them From Capitalists

      So-called libertarianism sounds like a good idea, and many who claim the ideology are sincerely interested in defending otherwise-defenseless groups and individuals from predatory or indifferent government.

      But in this forum hosted by Fusion, presidential candidate Gary Johnson and running mate Bill Weld revealed the limitations of their commitment to civil liberties—even if the journalists who questioned them did little to highlight the discrepancy.

      “Gov. Johnson, you’ve voiced your support for same-sex marriage, saying it’s a matter of freedom and liberty,” said Fusion fellow Anna Sterling. “But under the guise of religious freedom—as you mentioned earlier, Gov. Weld—there’s been a wave of legislation across the country that’s essentially legalizing discrimination against LGBT people. How do you reconcile these two issues?”

      Shifting in his chair, Johnson replied: “Well— uh— by rec— I’m opposed to that legislation. I am outright opposed to that legislation, recognizing exactly what it is that you’re saying, that it is discriminatory against the LGBT community. And we refuse to be a part of any sort of discrimination. And, yes, that is happening. It’s happening! Stop!”

      So there you have it. Johnson and Weld dislike discrimination, but they’re not going to use the power of government to stop legislation that fosters it.

    • Green Party candidates to make their case at CNN town hall

      Hoping to reignite the “political revolution” of Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, Green Party presidential nominee Jill Stein and her running mate, Ajamu Baraka, are set to participate in a live town hall event Wednesday on CNN at 9 p.m. ET.
      The two will face questions from voters and CNN’s Chris Cuomo during the hour-long event as they seek to make their liberal platform known to the public.

      Stein, a retired medical doctor, environmental activist and musician, made a filed bid for the presidency in 2012, but this time around, she has said things are different.

    • Hillary Used the Word “Assassination” in 2008 Anti-Obama Campaign

      The Main Stream Media (MSM) is once again slinging mud at Donald Trump over his comments at a South Carolina rally. Hillary’s campaign joined in the claim that he encouraged violence against her. But Trump said nothing about violence. Absolutely nothing.(1)

      On the other hand in 2008, Hillary Clinton used the term “assassination” directed at Barack Obama. She used it to justify remaining in the race long after her chances had evaporated. That is “forgotten” now by the MSM amidst their unremitting attacks on Trump.

      Let us remind ourselves. It was May of 2008. Hillary had no hopes of winning the nomination since Obama had secured the delegates he needed. Many in the media were asking why she insisted on staying in the race.

      In an interview with the editorial board of a South Dakota paper, the Argus Leader, on May 23, she was asked why she was hanging on. It made no sense said the editors. In answer Clinton said that she was being pressured to drop out and that it was “ a mystery” to her why that pressure was being applied.

      She went on to say that assassination might yet occur in the presidential race, referring to Robert Kennedy, thus: ““My husband did not wrap up the nomination in 1992 until he won the California primary somewhere in the middle of June, right? We all remember Bobby Kennedy was assassinated in June in California.”

    • Through the Venal Looking Glass, the Donald’s Doing Swell

      Still, Trumpsters are a hardy if deluded lot – 70% reportedly believe that a Clinton win would be a rigged win – so they are making up new numbers, sources and claims of media bias to explain the debacle. Their Mainstream Media Accountability Survey offers a startling peek into their alternate universe, with 25 leading questions to prove that, yes, the media unfairly characterizes people of faith, ignores the failure of Obamacare, believes social justice activists are re-writing American history, takes their great leader’s statements out of context, turns a blind eye to Planned Parenthood’s worst actions, “wrongly attributes gun violence to 2nd Amendment rights” and does other bad stuff. Seeking to combat the obviously skewed polls, the right-wing Breitbart.com also did their own unassailable poll; alas, it likewise found that Clinton really is winning.

    • Ain’t no party like a Green Party: Jill Stein answers questions in townhall

      The Green Party’s presidential nominee, Jill Stein, went on CNN to directly address voters and their questions. Along with her running mate Amaju Baraka, Stein attempted to pitch her platform to those still undecided.

    • NYT: Trump Being “Advised” for Clinton Debates by Disgraced Roger Ailes

      Though Roger Ailes resigned his top seat at Fox News last month following accusations and lawsuits over sexual harassment of female employees, the New York Times reports Tuesday that Donald Trump has brought the disgraced executive aboard his campaign to “advise” him ahead of upcoming presidential debates.

    • Is Trump Sabotaging His Campaign Because He Never Really Wanted the Job in the First Place?

      Donald Trump never actually wanted to be President of the United States. I know this for a fact. I’m not going to say how I know it. I’m not saying that Trump and I shared the same agent or lawyer or stylist or, if we did, that that would have anything to do with anything. And I’m certainly not saying that I ever overheard anything at those agencies or in the hallways of NBC or anywhere else. But there are certain people reading this right now, they know who they are, and they know that every word in the following paragraphs actually happened.

      Trump was unhappy with his deal as host and star of his hit NBC show, “The Apprentice” (and “The Celebrity Apprentice”). Simply put, he wanted more money. He had floated the idea before of possibly running for president in the hopes that the attention from that would make his negotiating position stronger. But he knew, as the self-proclaimed king of the dealmakers, that saying you’re going to do something is bupkus — DOING it is what makes the bastards sit up and pay attention.

    • Donnie’s Little Lies are Huuuuuge

      An old saying asserts that falsehoods come in three escalating levels: “Lies, damn lies, and statistics.” Now, however, we’ve been given an even-higher level of intentional deception: Policy speeches by Donald Trump.

      Take his recent highly publicized address outlining specific economic policies he would push to benefit hard-hit working families. It’s an almost-hilarious compilation of Trumpian fabrications, including his bold, statesmanlike discourse on the rank unfairness of the estate tax: “No family will have to pay the death tax,” he solemnly pledged, adopting the right-wing pejorative for a tax assessed on certain properties of the dearly departed. Fine, but next came his slick prevarication: “American workers have paid taxes their whole lives, and they should not be taxed again at death.” Workers? The tax exempts the first $5.4 million of any deceased person’s estate, meaning 99.8 percent of Americans pay absolutely nothing. So Trump is trying to deceive real workers into thinking he’s standing for them, when in fact it’s his own wealth he’s protecting.

      What a maverick! What a shake-’em-up outsider! What an anti-establishment fighter for working stiffs!

    • Enhancing Turnout: A Primary Concern

      In some states — Minnesota, for example — an eligible citizen can both register and vote on the date of the primary, thereby permitting those who aren’t as politically involved to still choose a nominee. Most states, though, don’t permit that option, and most impose deadlines by which a registered voter must change his or her affiliation in order to vote a different ticket in the primary. New York state, taking that rule to the extreme, requires an individual to make such a change 193 days before its April primary, so it’s no surprise that turnout in New York hovered at around 20 percent. Few people pay attention to the election that far out, and fewer still have chosen a candidate by the deadline. This is especially troubling for the growing number of Americans who identify as independent, aligning themselves with a candidate rather than a party.

    • Voter ID Laws Are Finally Being Outed for Their Discriminatory Intent

      Over the last five years, there has been a dramatic rise in states enacting or strengthening laws that require voters to show ID at the polls. Supporters of voter ID laws claim that they are necessary to prevent voter fraud — but studies have consistently shown that this type of fraud is exceptionally rare. And in fact, laws like this disproportionately affect minority, elderly, and low-income groups that tend to vote in favor of progressive causes.

    • Green Party Town Hall to Make Case Against ‘Same Old Political Duopoly’

      Stein and her running partner, human rights activist and writer Ajamu Baraka, will hold the event on CNN at 9:00pm EDT. It will be moderated by the network’s Chris Cuomo, in what is poised to be Stein’s “most high-profile moment” in her bid to shake up the 2016 election, CNN writes.

    • What to watch at CNN’s Green Party town hall

      The Green Party is about to have a chance to show voters it is worth casting a ballot for.
      CNN on Wednesday evening is set to hold another of its live town hall events, this time with Green Party presidential nominee Jill Stein and her running mate, Ajamu Baraka.

      The prime-time event moderated the CNN’s Chris Cuomo is set to be Stein’s most high-profile moment in her bid to upset the 2016 election, four years after she first ran and failed to gain enough traction to make it into the general election debates.

      [...]

      Polls have consistently shown majorities of voters have unfavorable views of Clinton and many have said she is dishonest. In an interview on CNN this Monday, Stein appealed to these sentiments, slamming Clinton’s email practices as secretary of state and saying the issue raised “real questions about her competency.”

    • In Major Shake-Up, Trump Hires Breitbart Exec and Citizens United Propagandist Bannon to Lead Campaign

      In what is being billed as a major campaign shake-up, Republican presidential candidate Donald J. Trump has hired Breitbart News executive chairman Stephen K. Bannon as his campaign’s chief executive, according to the New York Times.

    • “Extreme Vetting”: Trump Vows Ideological Test for Immigrants & Return to McCarthy-Era Repression

      Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump invoked the Cold War as he pledged to wage war against what he described as the “ideology of radical Islam” during a speech in Youngstown, Ohio, on Monday. Trump also vowed to institute “extreme vetting” of visa applicants. He also said he’d create a commission on radical Islam, keep Guantánamo Bay open and stop trying people accused of terrorism in civilian courts. For more, we speak with Matt Taibbi, award-winning journalist with Rolling Stone magazine. We also speak with Phyllis Bennis, author of “Understanding ISIS and the New Global War on Terror.” And we speak with Linda Sarsour, director of the first Muslim online organizing platform, MPower Change, and co-founder of the Muslim Democratic Club of New York.

    • 2016 From the Top Down: Trump Looms Over Down-Ticket Races

      This is what the corporate “news” media wanted when they put Bernie Sanders on mute while talking about what a card Trump was as he tore a wide swath through the concept of decency. They wanted bedlam, and now they have it. Republicans are making for the exits of Trump Tower by the score. They’re talking about his extreme recklessness, about the risk of giving him control of the nukes, and most prominently, about replacing him at the top of the ticket. Sorry, folks: Unless God Herself boils out of Heaven and makes it so, you’re stuck with the yam ham sweet potato man until they sweep the rubble off the floor in November. Turn off the lights when you leave.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • Donald Trump Says He’ll Turn Off The Internet For Terrorists [Ed: Not a new plan, with Bill Gates named]

      Almost no one covered this because everyone was focused on other stuff in the speech about his new “tests” for letting foreigners into the country. But this still remains a pretty big concern, in part because of just how technically clueless this is. Sure, we’ve seen some others suggest similarly dumb ideas, but no one seems to bother to think through how this might be done and what a mess it would create.

      There’s no way you can “disrupt” or block them from using the internet without also cutting off millions of innocent people — many of whom almost certainly rely on the internet for all sorts of important things. And, on top of that, any solution would be of only limited effectiveness in the long run anyway. There are increasingly new ways and new paths to get online — whether through wireless mesh networks or, eventually, from things like drones and satellites. Thinking that you can magically take an entire group of people off the internet is profoundly silly.

    • Former UC Davis Chancellor Katehi Way More Obsessed With Her Online Reputation Than Initially Thought

      Earlier this year, we discussed how UC Davis detailed in a report that it spent $175k with a reputation management firm to try bury the 2011 pepper-spraying incident that has become so infamous, as well as to bolster the positive reputation and search results of its former Chancellor, Linda Katehi. While Katehi was still Chancellor, she had issued something of a mea culpa that was unfortunately riddled with excuse-making and vendor-blaming, but in which she also appeared to take responsibility for the report’s contents. Students protested anyway, as they should have, given how the report detailed that Katehi was far more interested in her own reputation online than she was in any kind of reform of campus police. Which, if you’ll remember, was what kicked off all of the negative reporting starting in 2011 to begin with.

      But now a new report has been issued that makes it clear that the $175k with the one reputation management vendor was just the tip of the iceberg, and that Katehi’s obsession with her own online reputation was far more serious than anyone had known. Indeed, her attempts to meddle in her own online search results started long before the 2011 pepper-spraying incident.

    • NPR The Latest Website To Prevent You From Commenting Because It Simply Adores ‘Relationships’ And ‘Conversation’

      For several years now we’ve documented the rise in websites that shutter their comment sections, effectively muzzling their own on-site communities. Usually this is because websites are too lazy and cheap to moderate or cultivate real conversation, or they’re not particularly keen on having readers point out their inevitable errors in such a conspicuous location. But you can’t just come out and admit this — so what we get is all manner of disingenuous prattle from website editors about how the comments section is being closed because they just really value conversation, or are simply trying to build better relationships.

    • Enigma Software Countersued For Waging A ‘Smear Campaign’ Against Site It Claimed Defamed It

      Enigma Software — creator of the SpyHunter suite of malware/adware removal tools — recently sued BleepingComputer for forum posts by a third-party volunteer moderator that it claimed were defamatory. In addition, it brought Lanham Act trademark infringement claims against the site — all in response to a couple of posts that portrayed it in a negative light.

      The posts pointed out that the company had a history of threatening critics with litigation and had engaged in a variety of deceptive tactics, including triggering false positives to promote its spyware-cleaning products and placing paying customers on a periodic payment plan that ran in perpetuity under the guise of a one-time “removal” payment.

      A somewhat bizarre decision by the judge presiding over the case allowed Enigma’s questionable complaint to survive BleepingComputer’s motion to dismiss. In doing so, the decision also suggested the judge was willing to poke holes in Section 230 protections — something that’s been happening far too frequently in recent months.

      This bogus lawsuit should never have gotten this far. Enigma’s original defamation claims contained wording found nowhere in the posts it didn’t like, and the company had to make several inferences on behalf of the website it was suing to cobble together its complaint. The lack of a decent anti-SLAPP law in New York kept its defamation claims from being ejected on arrival. Faced with having to litigate its way out of this stupid mess, BleepingComputer has gone on the offensive.

      The assertions made in its countersuit suggest Enigma Computer has been — for quite some time — fighting speech it doesn’t like (the forum posts it sued over) with more speech. Unfortunately, if the “more speech” deployed is just shadiness and bogus claims (the same sort of thing it’s suing BC for), then “more speech” isn’t really a remedy.

    • The ‘Lolita’ test: Lawsuit alleges censorship at the Minnesota Fringe Festival

      One of the most compelling dramas at the Minnesota Fringe Festival didn’t play out under the lights. Two actors with minor parts performed entirely through off-stage narration. Reviews were mixed.

      Over several years of entries at Fringe, writer/performer/provocateur Sean Neely has forged a reputation. To some, he’s a daring artist whose bold entries stand out at a festival dedicated to challenging pieces. To others, he’s a publicity-hungry miscreant whose foul “art” doesn’t fit the term.

      Neely specializes in plays that star him telling a first-person story. A couple years ago, an unsuspecting audience watched him read from a “journal,” dropping racial epithets and sketching a plan for a mass shooting.

      At 2015’s festival, Neely acted the part of a man who confessed to his dying mother that he’d raped two women, and announced his desire to assault a third. He started each performance assuring the crowd the whole story was true.

      When it was over, audience members staggered out, many wondering aloud if they’d just witnessed the confession of a serial rapist.

      At one performance, police investigators sat in the crowd. Afterward, they met Neely backstage and told him someone had reported the show, but said they’d seen nothing criminal.

      Neely wants his performances to convey “the horror” of despicable acts by bringing audiences into the mind of the “actual perpetrator.”

    • #PowerShift Docu-Series Explores The Importance Of Social Media In Countries Where Censorship Is Rife

      In countries like Turkey, Iran, China and North Korea the local population are facing a new form of censorship: the censorship of the web.

      By controlling the flow of traffic on the internet, censorship of varying degrees has allowed these countries to block websites like YouTube, effectively ban certain hashtags on Twitter and then promote their own political agenda.

    • Activist group in bid to force Facebook change

      The activist group SumOfUs has stepped up pressure on Facebook after the social media giant censored the account of a black woman who, along with her five-year-old son, was caught in a standoff with police in Maryland in the US.

      The woman, 23-year-old Korryn Gaines, was later shot dead by the police. On her account, she was recounting the standoff that led to the injury of her son and, ultimately, her death.

      The incident occurred on 3 August and police claimed they made their request to Facebook after Gaines’ followers urged her not to comply with negotiators’ bids to make her surrender peacefully, according to NBC News.

    • Univision buys Gawker Media for $135 million

      Univision, which owns the largest Spanish-language television network in the United States, has recently been expanding its online holdings. Earlier this year it bought out Disney’s stake in the Fusion network and website. Univision also expanded investments in The Onion, a humor site, and The Root, a site that focuses on African-American news.

    • Peter Thiel: The Online Privacy Debate Won’t End With Gawker

      Last month, I spoke at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland because I believe our country is on the wrong track, and we need to solve real problems instead of fighting fake culture wars. I’m glad that an arena full of Republicans stood up to applaud when I said I was proud to be gay, because gay pride shouldn’t be a partisan issue. All people deserve respect, and nobody’s sexuality should be made a public fixation.

    • Infamous hacker Guccifer bounces back with leaked docs after Twitter ban

      INFAMOUS AND undeniably busy hacker Guccifer 2.0 was briefly banned from Twitter this weekend, but emerged unabashed with boasts about the leaking of contact details on 193 current and former members of Congress.

      Guccifer 2.0 had already made a name for himself, but won a lot of attention when he released the details of US Democrat politicians late last week.

      Affected potential candidates for Congress were shocked and appalled, and Guccifer somehow had his Twitter account suspended and some elements of his WordPress blog removed.

    • London police to create a troll-hunting social media unit

      In a bid to tackle rising levels of abuse on social media, London’s Metropolitan Police is to set up a five-person team of specialist officers tasked with targeting online trolls. Scotland Yard will spend £1.7 million on the unit, called the Online Hate Crime Hub, which will provide “targeted and effective services for victims”, offer advanced intelligence on offenders and strengthen links between police, communities and social media companies like Facebook and Twitter.

      Although UK authorities have taken steps to outlaw online abuse, victims have complained that police forces have been slow to act or been left feeling like their voices haven’t been heard. The Online Hate Crime Hub aims to better support those targeted by trolls, unmasking perpetrators who have operated under “veil of anonymity” provided by social media services.

    • London’s Met Police to set up an anti-troll brigade

      LONDON’S BOYS and ladies in blue will soon go on the virtual beat in a bid to seek out and destroy, or probably discourage, online trolls.

      Yes, the desk-based Metropolitan Police resource will be there to look out for hateful speakers and anyone who has things to say that are designed to be offensive and hurtful to others.

      Trolls are a problem, and not in the under the bridge sense, and can cause people to be upset and, on occasion, to actually leave social media networks.

      The Online Hate Crime Hub will deal with the trolling problems, just like Twitter is doing, and with the victims, according to the London Mayor’s Office and a range of reports.

    • Metropolitan Police to target online hate crime and abuse

      A new team of specialist police officers is being set up to investigate online hate crimes, including abuse on Twitter and Facebook.

      The London-based hub will include a team of five officers who will support victims and identify online abuse.

      The two-year pilot will cost £1.7m and has received £452,000 from the Home Office, the London Mayor’s office said.

    • Adoor Gopalakrishnan completes 50 years in cinema; criticises censorship and piracy
    • Adoor Gopalakrishnan against all kinds of censorship
    • Adoor Gopalakrishnan: I don’t believe in censorship
    • Misa critises media censorship
    • Amos Yee back in court over offensive videos
    • Amos Yee invokes court process to decide on trial position
    • Teenage blogger Amos Yee back in court
    • Trial of Singaporean vlogger Amos Yee ‘deeply worrying’ for speech freedom – UN expert
    • Singaporean teen blogger heads back to court to face fresh charges
    • Now Reading U.N. Backs Singaporean Blogger as More Jail Time Looms
    • Foul-Mouthed Teenager Challenges Singapore’s Puritanism
    • Amos Yee represents himself in court to stand trial against 8 charges
  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Alleged NSA data dump contain hacking tools rarely seen

      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.

    • Hack of NSA tools delivers another blow to encryption bill backers

      The disclosure that hackers stole some of the National Security Agency’s most valuable hacking tools is reinforcing arguments made by the tech industry and digital privacy community against legislation that would mandate “back doors” into encrypted tech products.

    • Analyzing the NSA code breach in the context of recent cybersecurity events

      On Saturday, programming code for National Security Agency hacking tools was shared online. The content appears to be legitimate, but it is not clear if it was intentionally hacked or accidentally leaked. Hari Sreenivasan speaks with The Washington Post’s Ellen Nakashima and Paul Vixie of Farsight Security about where this development fits in the context of other recent cybersecurity breaches.

    • Is VA.gov Website Outage Linked To NSA Website Hack?

      Tuesday carried a curious coincidence when reports surfaced that there was a systemwide VA.gov website outage at the same time the NSA website was reportedly hacked.

    • Bad weather blamed for knocking NSA’s website offline for two days

      Mystery solved.

      The NSA says the weather was at fault for bringing down its website for almost two days.

      The shadowy intelligence agency tweeted mid-afternoon Wednesday that it was a “tech issue” related to Monday’s storm in the area of the government agency’s headquarters in Fort Meade, Maryland.

      Issues with the NSA’s website were first noted around the same time on Monday.

      Kevin Beaumont, a security architect, said on Twitter that the NSA’s external services — including its website and other web-facing non-internal services — were brought offline, though he suspected that the agency itself “pulled [the] plug.”

    • What Exactly Are the NSA Hackers Trying to Accomplish?

      It’s old news by now that all of our most secret data is vulnerable, no matter how hard we try to protect it. If you’re surprised that the Russian government was apparently able to steal code developed by the National Security Agency, then you haven’t been paying attention to how consistently every level of computer security, in pretty much every sector of the government and in the private world, has been breached over and over again.

    • ShadowBrokers’ Leak Has ‘Strong Connection’ to Equation Group

      A high-stakes game of attribution started by a group claiming to have a cache of exploits belonging to the Equation Group took a somewhat definitive turn Tuesday afternoon. Researchers at Kaspersky Lab yesterday confirmed a connection between the tools currently up for auction by the ShadowBrokers and Equation Group exploits and malware that researchers at the security company uncovered and disclosed in February 2015.

    • Kaspersky confirms connection between ShadowBrokers’ malware and NSA-linked Equation Group

      Identical implementations of RC5 and RC6 encryption key-block ciphers confirm link between malware cache and Equation Group

    • Cisco confirms two of the Shadow Brokers’ ‘NSA’ vulns are real

      It’s looking increasingly likely that the hacking tools put up for auction by the Shadow Brokers group are real – after Cisco confirmed two exploits in the leaked archive are legit.

      The two exploits, listed in the archive directory as EPICBANANA and EXTRABACON, can be used to achieve remote code execution on Cisco firewall products. A vulnerability exploited by one of the tools was patched in 2011 but the other exploit’s vulnerability is entirely new – and there is no fix available at the moment.

      What’s worse is that the unpatched programming blunder has been lingering in Cisco hardware for years, since at least 2013. Whoever knew about the hole obviously didn’t tell the manufacturer of the vulnerable gear.

    • Cisco Acknowledges ASA Zero Day Exposed by ShadowBrokers

      Cisco has quickly provided a workaround for one of two vulnerabilities that was disclosed in the ShadowBrokers’ data dump and issued an advisory on the other, which was patched in 2011, in order to raise awareness among its customers.

      The networking giant today released advisories saying that it had acknowledged both flaws in its Adaptive Security Appliance (ASA), the newest of which was rated high severity; both of the vulnerabilities enable remote code execution.

    • The Situation Report: The Driving Forces Behind NSA’s Reorganization [Ed: So much bad news for the NSA this week. Quick! Push some puff piece out through a - cough cough - ‘journalist’]

      The National Security Agency has operated for decades under a well-defined mission: conduct foreign signals intelligence, support military operations, and defend national security systems from attacks. But major changes in the cyber threat landscape during the last few years have forced the agency to embrace a new reorganization strategy that officials argue is urgently needed to defend the nation from an onslaught of state-sponsored hacking attacks.

    • Was NSA Hacked? Leak from ‘Shadow Brokers’ suggests so, Russian intelligence suspected

      As our Cory Doctorow reported previously, a previously unheard of hacker group calling themselves The Shadow Brokers announced this week it had stolen a trove of ready-to-use cyber weapons from The Equation Group (previously), an advanced cyberweapons dealer believed to be operating on behalf of, or within, the NSA.

      The Shadow Brokers are auctioning the weaponized malware off to the highest bidder.

      From Moscow on Twitter today, NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden laid out his theory for how the exploits were captured, and what relation that has to the revelations he made when he blew the whistle on illegal NSA spying in 2013.

    • News Sites Realizing That Relying On Facebook For Traffic Might Not Have Been Wise

      Over the years, we at Techdirt have tended to resist the kinds of “audience growth strategies” that many other news publications have taken — perhaps to our own detriment. I remember when Digg was the new hotness and generating lots of traffic for news sites. Someone approached us about getting our stories highly promoted on Digg and I told them I didn’t want to game the system, and would rather let people find us organically. I know plenty of other news sites did play plenty of games. The same thing happened once everyone (and more) left Digg for Reddit. Reddit did drive a lot of traffic to us for a few years, though it’s tapered off in the past few years. And, obviously, over the last couple of years, all the publications have been talking about Facebook and how it drives so much traffic.

      A year or so ago, I was at an event and chatting with a guy from another news site who nonchalantly tossed off the claim that “well, every news site these days now knows how to game Facebook for an extra 10 to 20 million views…” and I thought “huh, actually, I have no idea how to do that.” All of this might make me very bad at running a media site (I certainly know of some other news sites that used gaming social media to leverage themselves into massive acquisition offers from legacy media companies). But, to me, it meant being able to focus on actually creating good content, rather than figuring out how to game the system or who I should be sucking up to for traffic. I’ll admit to struggling with this issue at times — sometimes wondering if we’re missing out on people reading our stuff that would like it. And, every once in a while, we’ll do little things here or there to focus on “optimizing” our site for this or that source of traffic. But it’s never been a huge focus.

    • Civil Rights Coalition files FCC Complaint Against Baltimore Police Department for Illegally Using Stingrays to Disrupt Cellular Communications

      This week the Center for Media Justice, ColorOfChange.org, and New America’s Open Technology Institute filed a complaint with the Federal Communications Commission alleging the Baltimore police are violating the federal Communications Act by using cell site simulators, also known as Stingrays, that disrupt cellphone calls and interfere with the cellular network—and are doing so in a way that has a disproportionate impact on communities of color.

      Stingrays operate by mimicking a cell tower and directing all cellphones in a given area to route communications through the Stingray instead of the nearby tower. They are especially pernicious surveillance tools because they collect information on every single phone in a given area—not just the suspect’s phone—this means they allow the police to conduct indiscriminate, dragnet searches. They are also able to locate people inside traditionally-protected private spaces like homes, doctors’ offices, or places of worship. Stingrays can also be configured to capture the content of communications.

    • Complaint Says Baltimore Cops’ Use of Stingray Spy Tool Violates Civil Rights

      Civil rights groups filed a complaint with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) on Tuesday, alleging that the Baltimore Police Department’s (BPD) unlicensed use of the controversial cell phone surveillance tool known as Stingray violates the law through racial discrimination and willful interference with cell phone calls.

      The complaint, filed by the Center for Media Justice, Color of Change, and the New America Foundation’s Open Technology Institute, calls on the FCC to “address harms caused by BPD’s unauthorized use” of Stingrays, also known as cell site (C.S.) simulators.

      “The FCC has legal obligations to protect against harmful interference caused by unauthorized transmissions on licensed spectrum, to manage spectrum to promote the safety of life and property, to ensure availability of emergency calling services, and to strive to make communications networks available to the public without discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, or sex,” the plaintiffs write.

    • Snowden Calls ‘Shadow Brokers’ Hack of NSA Hackers ‘Significant’ Turn in Spy Wars
    • Demand California Fix CalGang, A Deeply Flawed Gang Database

      California’s gang database contains data on more than 200,000 people that police believe are associated with gangs, often based on the flimsiest of evidence. Law enforcement officials would have you believe that it’s crucial to their jobs, that they use it ever so responsibly, and that it would never, ever result in unequal treatment of people of color.

      But you shouldn’t take their word for it. And you don’t have to take ours either, or the dozens of other civil rights organizations calling for a CalGang overhaul. But you should absolutely listen to the California State Auditor’s investigation.

    • NSA cyber weapons ‘hacked’ by mysterious Shadow Brokers
    • Edward Snowden: Russia probably behind NSA leak

      On Monday, the security world was rocked by a sensational claim: A mysterious new group calling itself “Shadow Brokers” claimed it had hacked into an elite NSA-linked hacking group and was auctioning off cyberweapons.

    • Edward Snowden: Russia probably behind NSA leak
    • Privacy lawsuit over Gmail will move forward

      Thanks to a judge’s order, Google must face another proposed class-action lawsuit over its scanning of Gmail. The issue is a lingering headache for the search giant, which has faced allegations for years now that scanning Gmail in order to create personalized ads violates US wiretapping laws.

      In a 38-page order (PDF), US District Judge Lucy Koh rejected Google’s argument that the scanning takes place within the “ordinary course of business.”

      “Not every practice that is routine or legitimate will fall within the scope of the ‘ordinary course of business’,” Judge Koh wrote.

    • LinkedIn sues 100 individuals for scraping user data from the site

      Professional social network LinkedIn is suing 100 anonymous individuals for data scraping. It is hoped that a court order will be able to reveal the identities of those responsible for using bots to harvest user data from the site.

      The Microsoft-owned service takes pride in the relationship it has with its users and the security it offers their data. Its lawsuit seeks to use the data scrapers’ IP addresses and then discover their true identity in order to take action against them.

      LinkedIn says that a botnet has been used to gain access to user data which is then passed on to third parties. The site has a number of measures in place to prevent this type of data harvesting, but it seems that scrapers have found a way to circumvent these security restrictions. A series of automated tools — FUSE, Quicksand, Sentinel, and Org Block — are used to monitor suspicious activity and block scraping.

    • The Detectives Who Never Forget a Face

      A predator was stalking London. He would board a crowded bus at rush hour, carrying a Metro newspaper, and sit next to a young woman. Opening the newspaper to form a curtain, he would reach over and grope her. The man first struck one summer afternoon in 2014, on the No. 253 bus in North London, grabbing the crotch of a fifteen-year-old girl. She fled the bus and called the police, but by that time he had disappeared. A few months later, in October, he assaulted a twenty-one-year-old woman on the upper level of a double-decker as it approached the White Hart Lane stadium. She escaped to the lower level, but he followed her, and he continued to pursue her even after she got off the bus. She flagged down a passerby, and the man fled. In March, 2015, he groped a sixteen-year-old on the No. 168. On each occasion, the man slipped away from the crime scene by blending into a crowd of commuters. But, each time, he left a trace, because public buses in London are monitored by closed-circuit-television systems.

      When transit police played back the footage of each sexual assault, they saw the same middle-aged man in spectacles and a black parka. He had thinning hair and a dark mustache that was going gray. After consulting the electronic readers on each bus, investigators isolated one fare card that had been used on all three. If the pass had been bought with a credit card, it could be linked to the perpetrator. But the man had paid for it in cash.

      The transit police found themselves in a familiar predicament: a case in which a crime is captured on video but no one can identify the perpetrator. London has more than eight million residents; unless somebody recognizes a suspect, CCTV footage is effectively useless. Investigators circulated photographs of the man with the mustache, but nobody came forward with information. So they turned to a tiny unit that had recently been established by London’s Metropolitan Police Service. In Room 901 of New Scotland Yard, the police had assembled half a dozen officers who shared an unusual talent: they all had a preternatural ability to recognize human faces.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Third French city bans ‘burkini’ after brawl at beach

      A third French mayor has banned women from wearing “burkinis” after a brawl over the swimsuit broke out between residents of a Corsican village and beachgoers of North African descent.

      Around 100 police were called to a beach in the village of Sisco, near the island capital Bastia, on Saturday.

      The details of the fight itself are murky. Local press reported that it began when a group of teenagers and their families took photographs of women swimming in so-called burkinis — bathing suits that cover most of the body except for the face, feet and hands, which satisfy Islamic standards of modesty for women.

      A girl who witnessed the altercation told a slightly different version of the story: Three men started arguing with a tourist they accused of taking pictures of the women in burkinis. She recounted that version of events at an impromptu rally the following day in Bastia. French media that covered the event did not name her, identifying her only as “a minor.”

    • Tribes watch GOP effort to wrest control of federal land

      Two years after a Nevada cattle rancher and his allies took up arms in protest of U.S. government grazing fees, Republican Party activists are asking that the feds return certain lands to the states. The proposal was included this July in the 2016 GOP platform — essentially a wish-list of legislation, a vision for the next president and Congress.

      That’s a big deal in the West, where nearly half of the land is owned by the federal government. As of 2015, the Bureau of Land Management oversaw 248 million surface acres and approximately 700 million acres of subsurface mineral estates throughout the country.

      The Republican proposal hasn’t gotten as much attention in California as in other states, but is certainly on the minds of some Golden State officials and tribal leaders as the presidential election approaches.

    • Girls as young as NINE forced into marriage by Imams – and authorities are POWERLESS

      Forced marriages are supposed to be illegal in Angela Merkel’s nation – but a loophole in the law means officials cannot interfere in religious marriages – which sees hundreds of vulnerable children walk down the aisle.

      Shocking figures reveal how underage girls are forced by Imams into marriages and disappear from schools because they have to do household chores for their mother-in-laws or even move abroad.

      The Romani community sometimes marry off 13-year-old girls to 17-year-old boys in ancient ceremonies – in the middle of Germany.

      Although the exact figures remain a mystery, authorities in Bavaria counted 161 cases of marriage applicants under the age of 16 and 550 cases under the age of 18 by the end of April.

    • Police chiefs want new law that would compel people to reveal passwords

      Canada’s police chiefs want a new law that would force people to hand over their electronic passwords with a judge’s consent.

      The Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police has passed a resolution calling for the legal measure to unlock digital evidence, saying criminals increasingly use encryption to hide illicit activities.

      There is nothing currently in Canadian law that would compel someone to provide a password to police during an investigation, RCMP Assistant Commissioner Joe Oliver told a news conference Tuesday.

    • Michael Weiss and the Iran-U.S. Hardline Nexus That Led Iranian-American to Evin Prison

      It’s a long way from the campus of Dartmouth College in New Hampshire’s Great North Woods in 2003 to Tehran’s Evin Prison in 2016. But the path between them led to a fateful intersection of the lives of Michael D. Weiss (the Dartmouth student) and Siamak Namazi (a jailed Iranian-American). It was Weiss who helped put him there.

      Weiss, age 36, has been an itinerant freelance journalist and military interventionist gun-for-hire, plying his trade from Washington DC, to London, to the outlying lands of former Russian empire, to the ruins of Syria.

      With his role as CNN commentator and senior editor at the Daily Beast, he is a leading light among a new young generation of neoconservative intellectuals. These positions offer him the opportunity to shape American political discourse in much the same way Bill Kristol’s Project for the New American Century, shaped U.S. militarist- interventionist foreign policy for a decade or more after its famous 1998 letter to Bill Clinton.

    • U.S. Jails Fail to Meet Basic Needs of Growing Population of Women

      As incarceration rates nationwide begin to slowly fall after decades of growth, one group stands in stark opposition to the trend: women, whose imprisonment in jails is growing at alarming rates, often with devastating impacts extending to their children and families.

      Jails — where individuals are held in pretrial confinement, when they fail to meet probation requirements, or simply when they cannot afford bail — have become the country’s single largest driver of mass incarceration for both men and women, with some 11 million admissions annually. And while as a whole, men in jail continue to far outnumber women, the number of women has grown 14-fold since 1970, when three-quarters of the country’s counties had not a single woman in jail. That year, women accounted for 11 percent of all arrests — but they accounted for about 26 percent in 2014.

    • ‘On Contact’: Chris Hedges and Professor Eddie Glaude Discuss ‘The Great Black Depression’ (Video)

      “From housing to jobs to poverty levels, black America is struggling,” Princeton professor Eddie Glaude tells Chris Hedges in the Truthdig columnist’s “On Contact” show. “In so many ways since 2008, our communities have been in ruins.”

    • Alan Dershowitz’s “Advice” to Black Lives Matter

      The Boston Globe recently ran an article by Alan Dershowitz that was full of imperatives for the membership of Black Lives Matter, telling them in what they “must” do to make things right with supporters of Israel and to avoid being cast into the “dustbin of history”.

      Well I’ve got news for Mr. Dershowitz.

      Those of us that support Black Lives Matter are not particularly interested in anything that he—a serial bully, sycophant to the rich and famous and arch-apologist for Israel’s long and constant history of ethnic cleansing—says to us.

      Indeed, many us of find the pose he adopts, the all-too-familiar one of the Zionist—which is to say a person beholden to an ideology that grants civil rights on the basis of a person’s bloodlines—telling us what we can and cannot say about this or that subject to be not only offensive, but borderline comical.

    • America’s Criminal Injustice System

      Once upon a time, I was a journalist, covering war in Indochina, Central America, and the Middle East. I made it my job to write about the victims of war, the “civilian casualties.” To me, they were hardly “collateral damage,” that bloodless term the military persuaded journalists to adopt. To me, they were the center of war. Now, I work at home and I’m a private eye — or P.I. to you. I work mostly on homicide cases for defense lawyers on the mean streets of Oakland, California, one of America’s murder capitals.

      Some days, Oakland feels like Saigon, Tegucigalpa, or Gaza. There’s the deception of daily life and the silent routine of dread punctured by out-of-the blue mayhem. Oakland’s poor neighborhoods are a war zone whose violence can even explode onto streets made rich overnight by the tech boom. Any quiet day, you can drive down San Pablo Avenue past St. Columba Catholic Church, where a thicket of white crosses, one for every Oaklander killed by gun violence, year by year, fills its front yard.

      Whenever I tell people I’m a private eye, they ask: Do you get innocent people off death row? Or: Can you follow my ex around? Or: What kind of gun do you carry?

      I always disappoint them. Yes, I do defend people against the death penalty, but so far all my defendants have probably been guilty — of something. (Often, I can only guess what.) While keeping them off death row may absolve me of being an accessory after the fact to murder, it also regularly condemns my defendants to life in prison until they die there.

    • US Transfers 15 Guantánamo Detainees as Rights Groups Push for Full Closure

      The Pentagon on Monday announced that 15 men would be transferred from Guantánamo Bay to the United Arab Emirates, in the largest single detainee shuffle under President Barack Obama’s administration.

      The transfer means there are now just 61 people left in the U.S. military prison in Cuba. The 15 men include 12 Yemenis and three Afghans.

      Amnesty International hoped the move indicated that the Obama administration would step up its efforts to close the controversial site.

      “This is a powerful sign that President Obama is serious about closing Guantánamo before he leaves office. With these transfers, Guantánamo’s population will be reduced by one-fifth,” said Naureen Shah, Amnesty International USA’s security and human rights program director.

      “It is vital he keep the momentum. If President Obama fails to close Guantánamo, the next administration could fill it with new detainees and it could become permanent. It would be an extremely dangerous legacy of allowing people to be detained without charge, in an endless global war, practically until they die,” Shah said.

    • Behind the Scenes at the Lutheran Vote Against the Israeli Occupation

      For all their worry, Wacker-Farrand and her fellow organizers had some reason to hope for a favorable vote on C2. Days earlier, the assembly had voted by an overwhelming majority (82 percent) to adopt another Memorial regarding Palestine. According to that Memorial, the ELCA must urge “U.S. Representatives, Senators and the Administration to take action requiring that, to continue receiving U.S. financial and military aid, Israel must comply with internationally recognized human rights standards.” Such standards include putting a stop to Israel’s settlement policy in the West Bank and Jerusalem, as well as ending Israel’s occupation of Palestinian land.

    • Is Another Cheney Headed to Washington?

      Following surely in the footprints of her father, former Vice President Dick Cheney, Liz Cheney won a solid victory in the Wyoming Republican primary on Tuesday and will now be in contention for the U.S. House seat that he once held.

      “I look forward very much to moving forward in the general election, unified and focused on making sure we send the strongest conservative voice to Washington,” declared Cheney, a fierce neoconservative and war hawk, after defeating her 8 primary opponents.

      According to the Casper Star Tribune, with 82 percent of precincts counted, Cheney took 40 percent of the vote.

      She now faces Democrat Ryan Greene in the general election. According to the Tribune, “She will campaign on a platform of repealing regulation deemed harmful to Wyoming, such as the Clean Power Plan, and in support of a strong national defense.” Her website also lists Wyoming coal as a major priority and the candidate strongly opposes women’s right to an abortion.

    • This Dream That Came True

      Wednesday marked the final day of the 47th anniversary of Woodstock, that iconic celebration of peace, love, mud, music and community in upstate New York whose promise still resonates for those of a certain age. Over 400,000 people gathered in the summer of 1969 in a massive muddy field at Max Yasgur’s 600-acre dairy farm in Bethel – not Woodstock, which turned it down – for an event originally aimed at raising money for a recording studio, not making cultural history. Amid fears no one would come, it was advertised as open to the public for a $6.50 ticket – until the fences came down and the crowds surged in for free.

    • A Good Cop

      In the 1990s, cop reporting was not a strength of the New York Times, and I’d often get calls from the Metro desk asking if I could help match something or other that had been in the tabs. I was Irish and Catholic and had grown up in Brooklyn along with other kids who wound up “on the job.” Oh, and I was an ex-sportswriter, too. I guess I had the pedigree of a cop reporter, if not any demonstrated talent.

      I got a call at home one night in March of 1996. Earlier that day, John Timoney, the outgoing first deputy commissioner of the New York Police Department, had been given a hero’s reception during a promotion ceremony at Police Headquarters. It amounted to an act of collective insubordination, for Timoney was exiting the department after having been passed over by Mayor Rudy Giuliani to succeed Bill Bratton as commissioner.

      The Times, I guess, hadn’t had anyone at the ceremony, and now we needed to catch up. No one had a number for Timoney, and the next edition closed in 40 minutes. It so happened that I’d once been introduced to Timoney, by Mike McAlary of the Daily News (Irish, Catholic, a former sportswriter, and a great cop reporter). I managed to track down Timoney’s home number.

      Timoney took my call. He was great, and, miracle of miracles, he was on the record. Timoney had been born in Dublin and raised in Northern Manhattan, his dad a New York City doorman. He’d been a beat cop, but had also earned master’s degrees in American history and urban planning. He was a reader of literature and an expert in police shootings. He’d been the youngest four-star chief in the history of the department.

    • Ultra-Orthodox paper ‘makes history’ with partial photo of Hillary Clinton

      The photo was first picked up by a Jewish blog, Only Simchas, which wrote about it under the headline: “History Made: Yated Ne’eman Publishes a Picture of Hillary Clinton. A Woman!” The photo shows only Clinton’s hairdo and raised arm, but it goes further than other images used to illustrate articles about Clinton in the ultra-Orthodox press. In the past, editors of Yated Ne’eman and other papers have instead used political cartoons or photos of Clinton’s husband, Bill.

    • 1999 Rape Case Swirls Around Nate Parker and His Film ‘The Birth of a Nation’

      “The Birth of a Nation,” a drama about the Nat Turner slave rebellion, upended the Sundance Film Festival, selling for a record $17.5 million and instantly vaulting to front-runner of next year’s Oscar race.

      Scheduled to be released Oct. 7, the film is now attracting unwanted attention because of renewed interest in a 17-year-old case in which the film’s director, writer and star, Nate Parker, was accused — and later acquitted — of rape when he was a student at Penn State.

      His college roommate, Jean McGianni Celestin, who received a credit on the movie, was also charged. Last week Deadline.com and Variety asked Mr. Parker about the case, and on Tuesday, Variety reported that his accuser committed suicide in 2012 at age 30.

    • Soul-Searching in Germany

      The elections are complicated. The vicious Alternative for Germany (AfD), based on anti-foreigner feelings, will now make it into the local parliament and all twelve borough councils, a frightening perspective. The other parties will have nothing to do with them (as yet, anyway). Since the Free Democrats and Pirates have scant hope of meeting the 5% requirement for the parliament, four main parties will compete. The necessary mating this will require to reach a ruling 50% majority recalls the old riddle about how to cross a river with a wolf, a goat and a head of cabbage. Who with whom? The SPD, polling best in Berlin with 23%, doesn’t want to keep on with the Christian Democrats (CDU), now standing at just 18%. And the sum of those numbers would no longer win half the seats.

    • Washington Post Reveals Immigrant Family Detention Center Made for-Profit Prison Company $1 Billion, in No-Bid Deal

      The Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency (ICE) used an existing contract with a private prison company to reach a separate deal with the firm, without having to publicly solicit bids for a new detention center.

      ICE and the Corrections Corporation of America agreed on the four-year, $1 billion no-bid deal in 2014, to rapidly implement an Obama administration initiative designed to deter the arrival of asylum seekers from Central America.

      The terms of the agreement were reported on Monday in an investigation published by The Washington Post.

      The paper said that the deal was hastily struck after Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson determined that the US “could cut down the surge [of migration] only by demonstrating that asylum seekers wouldn’t receive leniency.”

      “This whole thing [was] building and reaching an unsustainable level,” former Johnson chief of staff, Christian Marrone, told the Post. “We had to take measures to stem the tide.”

      The paper noted that those seeking asylum in the US, “until two years ago, had rarely been held in detention.”

    • Pentagon Issues First Update To Domestic Surveillance Guidelines In 35 Years, Not All Of It Good

      Cody Poplin at Lawfare points out that the Defense Department has just issued an update on rules governing its intelligence collection activities — the first major update in over 30 years. These would directly affect the NSA, which operates under the Defense Department.

      The most significant alteration appears to be to retention periods for US persons data. While everything is still assumed to be lawful under Executive Order 12333 and DoD Directive 5240.1, the point at which a record is deemed to be “collected” — starting the clock on the retention period — has changed.

    • America’s Cult of the Police

      It didn’t used to be this way. From the first whispers about freedom from Britain, America’s DNA has included a healthy distrust of government authority. It is a distrust enshrined in our constitution with its checks and balances and, specifically regarding police, in the Third and Fourth Amendments.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • The FCC Keeps Running Into Opposition With Its Plan to Open Up Cable Boxes

      These days, one item jumps out more than any other; after all, it’s not necessarily the service itself that’s overpriced these days if you get a bundle (and you use your landline phone plan). Cable box rental fees, however, are out of control. Some providers have even hiked rates past the $10 per box per month mark, so the hardware costs more than a Netflix subscription. And that doesn’t even include DVR fees! If you buy a TiVo or build a home theater PC, you can buy a tuner that uses a CableCARD, but the card itself still has to be rented from the cable company, even if the price may be less than that of a box.

      There has to be a better way to do this.

      The FCC agrees, and in February, it started to make the steps to push forward a proposal for an alternative. “Instead of mandating a government-specific standard that might impede innovation,” its statement explained, “the Commission recommends that these three streams be available to the creators of competitive solutions using any published, transparent format that conforms to specifications set by an independent, open standards body.” The cable companies, not wanting to abandon a source for $19.5 billion inannual revenue, have their own proposal, as well. Their proposal is built around “enforcing an industry-wide commitment to develop and deploy video ‘apps’ that all large MVPDs would build to open HTML5 web standards.”

    • Cutting the Cord With Playstation Vue

      We have a Roku that provides the streaming channels (Netflix, Amazon Prime, Crackle, Spotify, and Pandora).

      [...]

      Overall, we love the new setup. The Playstation 4 is a great center-point for our entertainment system. It is awesome having a single remote, everything on one box and in one interface. I also love the higher-fidelity experience – the Roku is great but the interface looks a little dated and the apps are rather restricted.

    • Comcast Fancies Itself The Tesla Of Cable

      Despite offering some of the worst customer service ever documented, Comcast has been busy lately trying to convince anybody who’ll listen that it’s on the cusp of becoming a Silicon-Valley-esque innovation giant. That’s an uphill climb for those familiar with the company’s often biannual TV rate hikes, attacks on net neutrality, or the company’s ongoing quest to sock uncompetitive markets with usage caps. High prices aren’t just a result of Comcast’s monopoly domination, you see, they’re reflections of the incredible value being delivered unto consumers by an innovation engine, the likes of which the universe has never seen.

    • US Government Announces Go-Ahead For IANA Transition By October

      The United States Commerce Department National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) this week confirmed it will hand over oversight of the internet domain name system root zone and other core internet infrastructure registries to the semi-private Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN).

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • In the fight for our genes, could we lose what makes us human?

      In the last 70 years we’ve come a long way towards unraveling the building blocks of human life. The human genome has been identified, sequenced, mapped, decoded, and interfered with. We’ve used this knowledge to clone Dolly the sheep, discover breast cancer-causing genes and create stem cells from our own skin. And now we stand on an exciting precipice: perfecting technologies that allow us to edit our genes with precision.

      But as we embark further on the gene revolution and allow corporations and governments to deconstruct human beings down to their most basic parts, we have to question whether we may lose not just some of those parts in the process but something much greater and more important—what it means to be truly human.

      Let’s start with the technology. At the 2016 World Economic Forum in Davos, a panel called Humankind and the Machine brought together leading experts in technology, governance, and bioethics to discuss new technologies that are sure to have a major impact on humanity: artificial intelligence, cyber-security, genetics, and space colonization.

    • End Price-Gouging on Drugs Developed With Public Dollars

      The U.S. invests more than $32 billion each year in drug and biomedical research. This major public investment in drug research empowers the government to make drugs affordable under the Bayh-Dole Act of 1980. But, even when drug companies price critical drugs at staggeringly high prices, the government has never used this authority. Why doesn’t the federal government ensure reasonable prices for drugs developed with public funds—an appropriate return on the public’s investment?

      According to Peter Arno and Michael H Davis, Bayh-Dole revises the U.S. patent law so that the federal government can ensure new drugs developed in part or whole with federal dollars are priced reasonably. Put differently, when federal dollars support research on a new drug, the drug manufacturer is supposed to price the drug reasonably. If the manufacturer does not, the federal government has the right to authorize another manufacturer to license the drug and sell it at a reasonable price.

    • US Agencies Seek Comment On Updated Antitrust Guidelines For IP Licensing

      In an age when licensing of intellectual property plays a critical role in business strategy, the United States Department of Justice and Federal Trade Commission are seeking public comment on a proposed update of the antitrust guidelines for IP licensing.

      “The IP Licensing Guidelines, which state the agencies’ antitrust enforcement policy with respect to the licensing of intellectual property protected by patent, copyright and trade secret law and of know-how, were issued in 1995 and are now being updated,” the agencies said in a release.

      The proposed update and related information is available here.

      Changes include consideration of key court case outcomes, incorporating the recent US Defense of Trade Secrets law, and the change from a 17-year to a 20-year patent term agreed in the 1994 World Trade Organization Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS). Enforcement aspects of the guidelines are unchanged in the proposed update, the agencies said.

    • Trademarks

      • Citigroup Gets First Loss In Trademark Suit Against AT&T For Saying ‘Thanks’

        A couple of months back, I brought to you a trademark suit initiated by Citigroup against AT&T that amost perfectly distilled both how ridiculously litigious trademark law has become and exactly how facepalm-inducingly lax the standards for trademark approval are with our friends over at the USPTO. The summary of the lawsuit can be described thusly: Citigroup has sued AT&T because the latter has branded messaging that says “thanks” and “thank you,” and Citigroup has a trademark on the term “thankyou.” And if your forehead hasn’t smacked your desk yet, you have a stronger constitution than this author.

        Included within Citigroup’s hilarious filing was a request for an injunction by the court barring AT&T from continuing any of this gratitude towards its customers over the immense harm it was doing to the bank. Well, the court has ruled on that request by refusing to issue the injunction, all while patiently laying out within the court document all of the reasons why the court will almost certainly eventually dismiss this suit entirely.

    • Copyrights

      • Nintendo Shuts Down Fan Remake Of 25 Year Old Metroid 2 Game Because It Can’t Help Itself

        For gamers who are fans of Nintendo, it’s always helpful to remember that Nintendo hates you. The general idea behind that mantra is that Nintendo, when faced between embracing the creativity and love that comes from its fans and acting like over-protective toddlers when it comes to any sort of its intellectual property, will always choose the latter. The company has issued takedowns for fan-made Mario Bros. levels just as it released Mario Maker, it as made a habit of shutting down fan-films depicting Nintendo characters, and it has even shut down fan get-togethers centered around beloved Nintendo properties just because they aren’t “official.” To be clear, Nintendo certainly can ensure that all of this free advertising for its products is never seen or enjoyed by the public legally, but it doesn’t have to. It could instead embrace the love of its fans and work out an arrangement that would protect its IP while still allowing its fans to be fans.

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