07.16.16

Links 15/7/2016: Microsoft Playing Dirty, GNOME Maps Problems

Posted in News Roundup at 8:06 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

Free Software/Open Source

  • Apcera Announces Support of New Open Source NATS Streaming Solution

    Apcera has announced that it is providing support for the new NATS Streaming solution, a performant, secure and simple open source messaging platform. NATS Streaming offers features that enable support for new classes of applications such as IoT and big data analytics. The platform is tightly coupled but loosely integrated with NATS, providing enterprise grade features without sacrificing NATS’ core simplicity.

  • Chef and Puppet lead the charge in open source cloud automation

    IT pros increasingly turn to Chef and Puppet for open source cloud automation and orchestration. But other options, such as TOSCA, are also worth exploring.

  • How Open Source Is Becoming the Core of All Software

    This panel discussion, recorded at this year’s OSCON in Austin, Texas, with two Cisco open source folks and a Capital One person is fascinating. Learn about how enterprises are acknowledging their use of OSS and taking greater responsibility for contributing back to it. Learn how people are more often using GitHub contributions as their resume. Learn how the open model allows companies to iterate faster in a rapidly changing world. If open source is becoming the default methodology, how is this changing mindsets within the enterprise?

  • Events

    • Submit presentations for Seattle GNU/Linux Conference

      Proposals for talks at the Seattle GNU Linux Conference are due by August 1st. SeaGL is a grassroots technical conference dedicated to spreading awareness and knowledge about the GNU/Linux community and free/libre/open-source software/hardware. Our goal for SeaGL is to produce an event which is as enjoyable and informative for those who spend their days maintaining hundreds of servers as it is for a student who has only just started exploring technology options. SeaGL welcomes speakers of all backgrounds and levels of experience—even if you’ve never spoken at a technical conference. If you’re excited about GNU/Linux technologies or free and open source software, we want to hear your ideas.

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice

    • Oracle v. Google Not Over Yet: Oracle Seeks Another New Trial While Google Seeks Sanctions On Oracle’s Lawyers

      Basically, Oracle is continuing to falsely pretend that fair use only applies to non-commercial use (it doesn’t), and that creating something new with an API isn’t transformative unless it’s like artwork or something (this is wrong). Oracle’s interpretation of fair use is not supported by the history or case law of fair use, and it would be shocking to see the court accept it here.

      Meanwhile, on the flip side, Google is looking to punish Oracle’s lawyers and asking for sanctions against them for revealing in open court sensitive information that had been sealed by the court.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

  • BSD

    • Errata and patches released!

      Now would be a good time to check http://www.openbsd.org/errata59.html as a number of patches related to reliability and security have been released as follows.

      This appears to be in response to fuzz testing as documented further in this mailing list archive: http://marc.info/?l=oss-security&m=146853062403622&w=2

      Tim Newsham and Jesse Hertz of NCC Group appear to have done most of the research related to these discoveries so far, and I know at least one of them has had patches committed to the OpenBSD project in the past, so it is nice to see continual collaboration from professional researchers contributing back to project!

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

    • Open Hardware/Modding

      • Notes from the fourth RISC-V workshop

        The lowRISC project, which is an effort to develop a fully open-source, Linux-powered system-on-chip based on the RISC-V architecture, has published notes from the fourth RISC-V workshop.

      • New Journal Will Focus on Open Source Hardware for Science

        Mention the term open source to most people, and they’ll immediately think of community-driven software, but open source hardware concepts have been around for some time, and there is even an official Open Source Hardware (OSHW) definition that can be referred to here. Open Source Hardware refers to machines, devices, or other physical things whose design has been released to the public for modification and distribution.

        Now, to usher in more scientific hardware to the open source fold, and to reward scientists that create it, Elsevier, has launched a new open access journal: HardwareX.

Leftovers

  • Science

    • The L.E.D. Quandary: Why There’s No Such Thing as “Built to Last”

      The light bulb that has brightened the fire-department garage in Livermore, California, for the past hundred and fifteen years will not burn out. Instead, it will “expire.” When it does, it certainly won’t be thrown out. It will be “laid to rest.”

      “You have to use the correct terminology,” Tom Bramell, a retired deputy fire chief who has become the Livermore light’s leading historian, told me. The bulb has been on almost continuously since 1901, he said; in 2015, it surpassed a million hours in service, making it, according to Guinness World Records, the longest-burning in the world.

    • For 90 years, lightbulbs were designed to burn out. Now that’s coming to LED bulbs.

      In 1924, representatives of the world’s leading lightbulb manufacturers formed Phoebus, a cartel that fixed the average life of an incandescent bulb at 1,000 hours, ensuring that people would have to regularly buy bulbs and keep the manufacturers in business.

      But hardware store LED bulbs have a typical duty-cycle of 25,000 hours — meaning that the average American household will only have to buy new bulbs ever 42 years or so.

      The lighting industry is panicked about “socket saturation,” when all household bulbs have been replaced with long-lasting LED bulbs. There’s signs that they’re moving to limit the longevity of LED bulbs, albeit without the grossly illegal cartels of the Phoebus era. Philipps is seling $5 LED bulbs that have a 10,000 hour duty-cycle. Many no-name Chinese LED bulbs are so shoddy that they’re sold by the kilo, and buyers are left to sort the totally defective (ranging from bulbs that don’t work at all to bulbs that give people electrical shocks) from the marginally usable ones.

    • Creationist Ken Ham Offers Public Schools a Massive Discount to Bring Kids to His Ark Museum
    • What a decline of biodiversity below ‘safe’ threshold means for Earth

      About 58 percent of land on earth has dropped below the biodiversity safe limit, due largely to human land use practices, says a new study published Thursday in Science.

      The study, conducted by Tim Newbold, a post-doctoral scientist and the Centre for Biodiversity and Environment Research at University College London, aimed to analyze the level of biodiversity on the planet, but its impacts reach further than ecology, affecting food production, personal well-being, and the money that ties it all together.

    • Is There Really Such Thing as a ‘Safe’ Limit for Biodiversity Loss?

      Across an estimated 58 percent of the planet’s land surface, biodiversity—the rich variety of species that inhabit a given environment—has dropped below what scientists consider “safe” levels.

      That doesn’t just spell trouble for the multitude of plant and animal species that are vanishing. It will be disastrous for us humans, too.

      But there are a lot of big questions around whether there’s even such thing as a “safe” level for species loss to begin with, and where it should be set. Isn’t any species loss too much?

      “Biodiversity is essential for human well-being,” landscape ecologist Tom Oliver of the University of Reading, who wrote a commentary that accompanies the new study (both are published in Science), told me. Take, for example, the species we rely on to pollinate our food crops, he pointed out: Colony collapse disorder has been a major concern for years now, as bees die off.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Orphan Drugs Finding Home In Markets: Could Be 20% Of All Sales By 2020

      Worldwide sales for orphan drugs are forecast to reach $178 billion by 2020, according to a recent industry report. Moreover, the orphan drug market is expected to grow almost 12 percent per year, a level the broader pharmaceutical market “could only dream about” with its expected annual growth of 5.9 percent, according to Lisa Urquhart, editor of EvaluatePharma Vantage.

    • Arizona: If at First You Don’t Succeed (at Interfering With Women’s Health Care) Try, Try, and Try Again.

      It seems that Arizona is running out of ideas of how to interfere with women’s health, because lawmakers have taken to passing old laws that have already been struck down by the courts. This time, they’re trying to prevent Medicaid patients from obtaining reproductive health care, including pregnancy care, contraceptives, and cancer screenings from their chosen physician.

      Arizona already tried to do this in 2012. We sued in federal court, and won. Now that Arizona is trying again to deprive low-income women access to critical health care, we’re back in court.

    • First female-to-male Zika transmission via sex reported in New York City

      New York City’s health department on Friday reported the first female-to-male transmission of the Zika virus, which is most typically spread by the bite of an infected mosquito.

      The US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention said the report is the first documented case of sexual transmission of Zika from a woman to her male sex partner.

    • GMOs, Greenpeace and Nobel Laureates

      The signatories allege that GMO ‘golden rice’, which supposedly would save millions of people in Asia from vitamin A deficiency, has not been used because of the opposition of groups like Greenpeace. Therefore, according to the open letter’s logic, these activists are responsible for perpetuating world hunger. “How many poor people in the world must die before we consider this a crime against humanity?”, ask the signers rhetorically.

      [...]

      Professor Stone is no rookie latecomer who has just arrived on the scene. Since 2013 he directs a Templeton Foundation-funded study on rice in the Philippines. In his research he compares ‘golden rice’ with other rice varieties developed and planted in the Philippines, including industrial ‘green revolution’ varieties as well as traditional heirloom varieties from the mountains of Luzon island.

      Neither is he opposed to GMO’s. “Golden Rice was a promising idea backed by good intentions… In contrast to anti-GMO activists, I argued that it deserved a chance to succeed. But if we are actually interested in the welfare of poor children — instead of just fighting over GMOs — then we have to make unbiased assessments of possible solutions. The simple fact is that after 24 years of research and breeding, Golden Rice is still years away from being ready for release.”

      We still want to know where the wise Nobel laureates got the idea that Greenpeace is holding back the ‘golden rice’.

    • One striking chart shows why pharma companies are fighting legal marijuana

      There’s a body of research showing that painkiller abuse and overdose are lower in states with medical marijuana laws. These studies have generally assumed that when medical marijuana is available, pain patients are increasingly choosing pot over powerful and deadly prescription narcotics. But that’s always been just an assumption.

      Now a new study, released in the journal Health Affairs, validates these findings by providing clear evidence of a missing link in the causal chain running from medical marijuana to falling overdoses. Ashley and W. David Bradford, a daughter-father pair of researchers at the University of Georgia, scoured the database of all prescription drugs paid for under Medicare Part D from 2010 to 2013.

      They found that, in the 17 states with a medical-marijuana law in place by 2013, prescriptions for painkillers and other classes of drugs fell sharply compared with states that did not have a medical-marijuana law. The drops were quite significant: In medical-marijuana states, the average doctor prescribed 265 fewer doses of antidepressants each year, 486 fewer doses of seizure medication, 541 fewer anti-nausea doses and 562 fewer doses of anti-anxiety medication.

  • Security

    • Ubuntu Forums Get Breached, 2 Million Users/Emails/IPs [Ed: Idiots at Canonical used proprietary software for forums]

      Through an SQL injection vulnerability, the Ubuntu Forums were penetrated, as disclosed this morning by Canonical.

    • Canonical Patches Security Issue on Ubuntu Forums, Passwords Weren’t Compromised

      It would appear that, on the day of July 14, 2016, the Ubuntu Forums were compromised by someone who managed to get past the security measures implemented by Canonical and access the forum’s database.

    • Here’s another really great reason to never touch Linux
    • Ubuntu Forums security breach
    • Ubuntu Linux forums hacked!
    • Ubuntu Forums Hacked, But Passwords Were Not Compromised
    • Ubuntu Forums hack exposes two million users {Ed: At Canonical vBulletin forum software (proprietary) was already cracked before. But they learned no lessons and continued to use it.]
    • Ubuntu Forums Hacked, 2 Million Users’ Details Stolen
    • Ubuntu Forums Suffer Data breach; Credit Goes to SQL Flaw
    • Friday’s security updates
    • Room for Application Security Improvement

      Using open source components is a common software development process; just how common, however, may come as a surprise — even a shock — to some. The average organization uses 229,000 open source components a year, found research by Sonatype, a provider of software development lifecycle solutions that manages a Central Repository of these components for the Java development community.

      There were 31 billion requests for downloads from the repository in 2015, up from 17 billion in 2014, according to Sonatype.

      The number “blows people’s minds,” said Derek Weeks, a VP and DevOps advocate at Sonatype. “The perspective of the application security professional or DevOps security professional or open source governance professional is, ‘This really changes the game. If it were 100, I could control that, but if it is 200,000 the world has changed.”

    • Why We Should Be a Little Paranoid About Hackers Messing With Robot Surgeons

      A few weeks ago, my colleague Victoria Turk sat down in a surgical chair, slid her fingers into something that looked like pliers, wore a pair of 3D glasses, and tried to control a robotic surgeon remotely.

      The test went smoothly—until a researcher performed a basic hacking attack on the link connecting the haptic interface device that simulated the sense of touch, and the actual robotic arms performing the fake surgery.

      This was just a harmless, controlled demonstration, but it gave us a glimpse of the future. Using robots to carry out surgeries or high-risk operations in places where it’s not safe for human doctors or technicians will give medical professionals the ability to save lives and not risk their own. But it will also add a new type of risk: what if a hacker takes control of the robot instead of the operator?

      The biggest vulnerability, as Turk discovered, is the link between the human and the robot. Researchers who are studying the cybersecurity risks of using robot surgeons believe that in a real-world scenarios, the machines will likely use the same networks we use to check Facebook or play Pokémon Go.

  • Defence/Aggression

    • Russia Welcomes Boris Johnson as Britain’s New Foreign Secretary

      Russia has welcomed the British government reshuffle, expressing hope for a rekindling of relations with the new Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson.

      Russia’s Foreign Ministry sent a letter to Johnson welcoming him to his new office, while spokeswoman Maria Zakharova announced that Moscow was not upset to see Johnson’s predecessor leave, state news agency Itar-Tass reported on Thursday.

    • After Nice, Don’t Give ISIS What It’s Asking For

      Not much is yet known about Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel, the 31-year-old man French police say is responsible for a horrific act of mass murder last night in the southern city of Nice. In the wake of the killings, French President Francois Hollande has denounced the attack as “Islamist terrorism” linked to the militant group the Islamic State. Supporters of ISIS online have echoed these statements, claiming responsibility for the attack as another blow against its enemies in Western Europe.

      While the motive for the attack is still under investigation, it is worth examining why the Islamic State is so eager to claim such incidents as its own. On the surface, ramming a truck into a crowd of people gathered to watch Bastille Day fireworks seems like an act of pure nihilism. No military target was hit. Initial reports suggest that the killings may lead to French attacks on ISIS’s already-diminishing territories in Iraq and Syria. And French Muslims, many of whom were reportedly killed in the attack, will likely face security crackdowns and popular backlash from a public angry and fearful in the wake of another incomprehensible act of mass murder.

      But the Islamic State’s statements and history show that such an outcome is exactly what it seeks. In the February 2015 issue of its online magazine Dabiq, the group called for acts of violence in the West that would “[eliminate] the grayzone” by sowing division and creating an insoluble conflict in Western societies between Muslims and non-Muslims. Such a conflict would force Muslims living in the West to “either apostatize … or [migrate] to the Islamic State, and thereby escape persecution from the crusader governments and citizens.”

      This strategy of using violence to force divisions in society mimics the group’s tactics in Iraq, where it used provocative attacks against the Shiite population to deliberately trigger a sectarian conflict, one that continues to rage to this day.

    • Violence Haunts South Sudan as Civil War Flares

      The parched field in the town of Leer, South Sudan, was covered in a carpet of dried grass. Nearby was a sheet of corrugated metal — a roof to a home that, like most in this town, was now in ruins. Lying in the field were scattered clothes: a desert camouflage shirt in the pattern the U.S. military calls “chocolate chip,” a blue T-shirt that read “Bird Game” with characters resembling those of the video game Angry Birds.

    • Turkey coup: Erdogan government could restore death penalty, deputy leader warns

      “We will put forward a motion, which will demand the execution of those who have been involved in the coup attempt,” Mr Müezzinoğlu wrote on Twitter.

      Following his comments, #Idamistiyorum (“I want death penalty”) has become the top trend on Twitter in Turkey. The hashtag has been used more than 23,000 times.

    • Turkey Troops Say They Seize Power; Crowds Answer President Erdogan Call To Defy Them

      Gunfire and explosions rocked both the main city Istanbul and capital Ankara in a chaotic night, but by the early hours of Saturday there were indications that the coup was crumbling.

      If successful, the overthrow of Erdogan, who has ruled Turkey since 2003, would mark one of the biggest shifts in the Middle East in years, transforming one of the most important US allies while war rages on its border. If it fails, the coup attempt could still destabilise a pivotal country in the region.

    • Ankara parliament building ‘bombed from air’ – state agency

      Turkey’s state-run Anadolu news agency has reported that bombs or shells hit the Turkish parliament building in the capital, Ankara. At least 12 people have been reportedly injured.

    • Turkish President Returns to Istanbul in Sign Military Coup Is Faltering

      A military coup attempt plunged Turkey into a long night of violence and intrigue on Friday, threatening its embattled president, leaving dozens dead and injecting new instability into a crucial NATO member and American ally in the chaotic Middle East.

      The coup attempt was followed hours later by an equally dramatic public appearance by the president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, whose whereabouts had been unknown for hours after the plotters claimed to have taken control. Flying into Istanbul Ataturk Airport from an undisclosed location early Saturday, Mr. Erdogan signaled that the coup was failing.

    • The Latest: Iran says attempted Turkey coup ‘doomed to fail’

      Iran says the attempted military coup in Turkey was “doomed to fail.”

      Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif was quoted by the official IRNA news agency as praising the “brave defense by the people of Turkey of their democracy and elected government.”

    • Turkey coup: President Erdogan denounces ‘treason’ of attempt by military to take control of country

      An extraordinary day of violence and tension has unfolded in Europe with an attempted military coup taking place in Turkey while France was still in a state of shock after a terrorist atrocity which claimed the lives of 84 people.

      Just hours after the Turkish government had expressed sympathy over the killings in Nice it was facing a struggle for survival after a faction of the armed forces declared a takeover and looked to impose martial law.

    • EXCLUSIVE: France ‘Suppressed Reports of Gruesome Torture’ at Bataclan Massacre

      According to this testimony, Wahhabist killers reportedly gouged out eyes, castrated victims, and shoved their testicles in their mouths. They may also have disemboweled some poor souls. Women were reportedly stabbed in the genitals – and the torture was, victims told police, filmed for Daesh or Islamic State propaganda. For that reason, medics did not release the bodies of torture victims to the families, investigators said.

      But prosecutors at the hearing claimed these reports of torture were “a rumor” on the grounds that sharp knives were not found at the scene. They also claimed that maybe shrapnel had caused the injuries.

    • Whither Turkey?

      A friend of the blog passes on these comments: I have just been watching the “Breaking News” about the military coup in Turkey and have been appalled at the historical ignorance of what all of these talking heads, Wolf Blitzer, et al are telling the American people.

    • Attempted Coup in Turkey Must Be Denounced

      There should be no equivocation. The answer to Turkey’s problems is not a military coup against an elected government and a return to decades of military dictatorship. The Turkish people pouring out on the streets to resist the military are not only Erdogan supporters, and they are inspiring in their courage.

    • Saudi Ties to 9/11 Detailed in Documents Suppressed Since 2002

      After years of political wrangling, the suppressed section of a 2002 congressional report that detailed possible ties between the Saudi government and the 9/11 terrorist attacks was released today. The classified documents have been the source of heated speculation for years, as they highlighted alleged links between high-ranking members of the Saudi royal family and the 9/11 hijackers.

      Many political figures who had previously seen the report led the charge calling for its release, including former Sen. Bob Graham, who said the 28 pages “point a very strong finger at Saudi Arabia,” and Minnesota Congressman Rick Nolan, who said the pages “confirm that much of the rhetoric preceding the U.S. attack on Iraq was terribly wrong.”

      The suppressed pages, redacted in parts, detail circumstantial evidence of ties among Saudi government officials, intelligence agents, and several of the hijackers.

      “While in the United States, some of the September 11th hijackers were in contact with or received assistance from, individuals who may be connected with the Saudi government,” reads the report, which added that FBI sources believed at least two of those individuals were Saudi intelligence agents.

      The report also mentions that numbers found in the phonebook of Abu Zubaydah, a detainee currently held in Guantánamo, could be traced to a company in Denver, Colorado, connected to former Saudi ambassador to the U.S. Prince Bandar bin Sultan.

      One of the most notable figures mentioned is Omar al-Bayoumi, alleged by the report to have likely been a Saudi intelligence agent. Al-Bayoumi was in close contact with hijackers Nawaf al-Hazmi and Khalid al-Midhar, providing them financial assistance during their time in the United States and even helping them find an apartment. Bayoumi in turn is believed to have been on the payroll of the Saudi Ministry of Defense and was regularly in receipt of large lump sums of money from the Saudi Ministry of Finance and other undisclosed arms of the government.

    • FBI Established Saudi Task Force Just before Joint Inquiry Release

      The pages are actually more damning than I expected. It lays out many damning details we already knew of: including that Bandar bin Sultan’s wife was providing money to one of the suspect Saudi intelligence people, several Saudi apparent agents provided support for the hijackers, and an apparent dry run for the attack was conducted by someone paid by the Saudis.

      One really damning detail that I didn’t know, however (or had forgotten if covered in Bob Graham’s book), is that it wasn’t until the Joint Inquiry focused on the Saudis that FBI established task force to look into Saudi Arabia’s role in the attack.

    • In 9/11 Document, View of a Saudi Effort to Thwart U.S. Action on Al Qaeda

      The long-classified document detailing possible connections between the government of Saudi Arabia and the Sept. 11 terrorist plot released on Friday is a wide-ranging catalog of meetings and suspicious coincidences.

      It details contacts between Saudi officials and some of the Sept. 11 hijackers, checks from Saudi royals to operatives in contact with the hijackers and the discovery of a telephone number in a Qaeda militant’s phone book that was traced to a corporation managing an Aspen, Colo., home of Prince Bandar bin Sultan, then the Saudi ambassador to Washington.

      The document, 28 pages of a congressional inquiry into the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, is also an unflattering portrayal of the kingdom’s efforts to thwart American attempts to combat Al Qaeda in the years before the attacks.

      But it is also a frustrating time capsule, completed in late 2002 and kept secret for nearly 14 years out of concern that it might fray diplomatic relations between the United States and Saudi Arabia. Subsequent investigations into the terror attacks pursued the leads described in the document and found that many had no basis in fact. But the mythology surrounding the document grew with each year it remained classified.

    • US Congress Finally Releases ’28 Pages’ of 9/11 Report

      The U.S. Congress on Friday released the previously classified 28 pages of the 9/11 Commission Report on potential Saudi government ties to the 2001 terrorist attack.

      [...]

      The U.S. Congress on Friday released the previously classified 28 pages of the 9/11 Commission Report on potential Saudi government ties to the 2001 terrorist attack.

      The pages were posted (pdf) on the House Intelligence Committee’s website.

      The New York Times’ Mark Mazzetti describes the document—secret for 13 years—as “a wide-ranging catalog of alleged links between Saudi officials and Qaeda operatives, from contacts that Saudi operatives in Southern California had with the hijackers to a telephone number found on the first Qaeda prisoner in C.I.A. custody that the F.B.I. traced to a corporation managing a Colorado home of Prince Bandar bin Sultan, then the Saudi ambassador to Washington.”

      Former Sen. Bob Graham, who co-chaired the congressional inquiry and had called for the release of the pages, told CNN, “I think of this almost as the 28 pages are sort of the cork in the wine bottle. And once it’s out, hopefully the rest of the wine itself will start to pour out.”

      “Would the U.S. government have kept information that was just speculation away from American people for 14 years if somebody didn’t think it was going to make a difference?” he added.

      White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest, however, said, “This information does not change the assessment of the U.S. government that there’s no evidence that the Saudi government or senior Saudi individuals funded al-Qaeda.”

      House intelligence committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) said, “it’s important to note that this section does not put forward vetted conclusions, but rather unverified leads that were later fully investigated by the intelligence community.”

    • What Really Happened in Syria

      But it is especially urgent with regard to Syria, a great bleeding wound on the edge of Europe that, over the last five years, has seen as many as 470,000 deaths, generated some 4.8 million refugees, and sent out waves of terrorism that are destabilizing politics from Eastern Europe to the U.S. Not since Yugoslavia has a country collapsed more completely or calamitously.

    • Britain’s Scramble for Africa: The New Colonialism

      Africa is facing a new and devastating colonial invasion driven by a determination to plunder the natural resources of the continent, especially its strategic energy and mineral resources. That’s the message from a damning new report from War On Want ‘The New Colonialism: Britain’s scramble for Africa’s energy and mineral resources’ that highlights the role of the British government in aiding and abetting the process.

      Written and researched by Mark Curtis, the report reveals the degree to which British companies now control Africa’s key mineral resources, notably gold, platinum, diamonds, copper, oil, gas and coal. It documents how 101 companies listed on the London Stock Exchange (LSE) – most of them British – have mining operations in 37 sub-Saharan African countries and collectively control over $1 trillion worth of Africa’s most valuable resources.

    • As Bastille Day Attack in France Kills 84, Is the War on Terror a “Self-Fulfilling Prophecy”?

      More than 84 people are dead in Nice, France, after an attack on a crowd of people celebrating Bastille Day in the city in the French Riviera. Witnesses said a man in a large truck deliberately drove into a massive crowd watching a fireworks celebration. The truck continued driving a mile, mowing down people in the crowd. No group has taken responsibility for the attack. French media have identified the driver of the truck as Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel, a French man of Tunisian descent who lived in Nice. Earlier today, French President François Hollande announced he would extend the state of emergency put in place after the Paris attacks which killed 130 people eight months ago. We go to France to speak with Palestinian-American playwright Ismail Khalidi in Nice and French human rights and civil liberties activist Yasser Louati in Paris.

    • Paramilitaries Continue Rampage in Colombia: the Case of El Bagre, Antioquia

      Uribe’s known paramilitary ties did not prevent the U.S. from arming his military to the teeth, nor did they prevent President George W. Bush from considering Uribe his closest friend in the region and even awarding him the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

    • Stop Blaming Refugees For The Attacks In Nice

      Thursday evening as scores of people celebrated the 14th of July in Nice, France, a truck driver swerved into the crowd. At least 84 people were killed as a result and many more were injured. While certain political figures were quick to jump on blaming refugees, the attacker was identified by local media as a French resident.

      After attacks in Paris, Brussels, San Bernardino, and Orlando, many political figures have used the opportunity to turn on refugees. But in each of these instances the attacker or attackers were often locals.

      In the attacks in Paris in November 2015, police identified Salah Abdeslam, Brahim Abdeslam, Omar Ismail Mostefai, Chakib Akrouh, Abdelhamid Abaaoud, Samy Amimour, Foued Mohamed-Aggad, and Bilal Hadfi. All these men were French or Belgian citizens and were born in one of the two countries. While some of them are thought to have radicalized and then subsequently traveled to Syria, all had spent the majority of their lives in Europe.

    • [A bit older:] Saudi-funded mosque opens in Nice after long struggle

      A Saudi-funded mosque in Nice opened its doors for the first time Saturday, after a 15-year tussle with the local town hall.

      The Nicois En-nour Institute mosque received authorisation to open early Saturday from the local prefect, substituting for town mayor Philippe Pradal, who recently took over from Christian Estrosi.

      Estrosi was implacably opposed to the construction of the mosque and in April had secured the green light to sue the French state in a bid to block its opening in the southern city.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • Oil Spills Are Actually Good For Birds, Fish, And The Economy According To The Oil Industry

      “When a spill occurs, new economic activity occurs to clean-up contaminated areas, remediate affected properties, and supply equipment for cleanup activities,” a witness testified before a committee in Vancouver, WA.

    • New Rules Could Help Big Oil Escape Scrutiny at Fossil Fuel Auctions

      Lawmakers are attempting to make it even easier for fossil fuel companies to bid on public land auctions without facing disapproval from climate advocates, a move that green groups say buckles to corporate interests.

      Earlier this week, the U.S. House Committee on Natural Resources approved a bill that would require lease sales for offshore drilling to be held online rather than in person, as the Obama administration gears up to do the same with an onshore public land auction originally slated for a sell-off in Washington, D.C.

      All this despite the fact that climate advocates have been imploring the White House to end such leases altogether to help curtail rising greenhouse gases and fulfill its pledges as mandated by the Paris agreement.

    • Seems Like Fox News Didn’t Like the Joke About Its Crappy Climate Coverage

      “We want to call out the nefarious role Fox News plays by keeping its audience confused about the climate threat to the country and world.”

    • FEC fines Koch groups for illegal dark money

      The Federal Election Commission (FEC) announced today that it will fine three dark money groups a total of $233,000 for concealing the sources of funds spent on political ads in 2010.

      Three groups — the American Future Fund, 60 Plus Association and Americans for Job Security — received money from the Center to Protect Patient Rights (CPPR), now American Encore. CPPR is linked to the Koch brothers — it was founded by Sean Noble, who was, at the time, central to the Kochs’ dark money efforts. As head of CPPR, he “handed out almost $137 million in 2012 alone — all of it so-called dark money from unnamed donors.” The American Future Fund spent millions during the Republican presidential primary this year to oppose Donald Trump and John Kasich. In 2013, CPPR admitted to failing to properly disclose money spent on a California ballot proposition that year.

  • Finance

    • EU-US negotiators falter on TTIP progress, destabilised by Brexit

      EU and US negotiators said on Friday (15 July) that they still needed to overcome large differences for a transatlantic free trade deal to be sealed this year, and factor in the setback of Brexit, as the UK is one of the United States’ biggest export markets.

      The two sides are trying to agree on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), which supporters say could boost each economy by some €90 billion at a time when growth in China and emerging markets is slowing.

    • Greenpeace: time to hit the stop button on TTIP

      An EU opinion poll released in June shows that 67 per cent of Europeans want to see more EU action on environmental protection – yet trade deals such as TTIP, and CETA (an EU-Canada trade deal) are set to undermine European environmental, health and labour protections.

      The EU TTIP energy and climate change chapters released Thursday are disconnected from the urgency of climate change and commitments made at the Paris climate summit. The energy chapter’s main aim is to free up the trade in fossil fuels, in particular the import of high carbon US shale gas into the EU, while the climate change chapter weakens the EU’s position on the phase-out of fossil fuel subsidies by carving out significant loopholes.

    • TTIP Negotiators Need Many More Nights To Negotiate – And Are Planning Just That
    • EU-US negotiators falter to make decisive progress on TTIP, destabilised by Brexit

      EU and U.S. negotiators said on Friday (15 July) that they still needed to overcome large differences for a transatlantic free trade deal to be sealed this year, and factor in the setback of Brexit, as the UK is one of the United States’ biggest export markets.

      The two sides are trying to agree on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), which supporters say could boost each economy by some €90 billion at a time when growth in China and emerging markets is slowing.

    • Turkey Exchange-Traded Fund Drops Amid Military Uprising

      This chart puts Friday’s plunge of the Turkish lira, amid a possible military coup, into historical perspective. It’s the biggest one-day move since the financial crisis in 2008.

    • Austerity Neoliberalism: a new discursive formation

      Austerity does not necessarily have to be neoliberal and neoliberalism does not have any necessary connection to austerity. But taken together they represent a toxic combination, one that attacks us body and soul.

    • In Finance, Even Business as Usual Comes at Too High a Price

      A healthy financial system is crucial to a stable and productive market economy. But after decades of deregulation, the US financial system has turned into a highly speculative system that has failed spectacularly at doing its job. My new report, “Overcharged: The High Cost of High Finance,” written with Juan Montecino and published by the Roosevelt Institute, describes in detail the massive costs of this failed financial system.

      The evidence of overcharging is all around us. The most obvious, of course, is the catastrophic financial crisis of 2007-2008 that wiped away $16 trillion — 24 percent of household net wealth, led to more than 5.5 million home foreclosures, and caused skyrocketing, hope-crushing unemployment rates. When the government picked up the pieces and committed more than $20 trillion of taxpayers’ money to bail out the largest financial institutions, millions of Americans were left high and dry, angry and frustrated.

    • Uber Hired a CIA-linked Intelligence Firm to Secretly Investigate Legal Opponents

      In December 2015, Andrew Schmidt filed a lawsuit against Uber, alleging that the the ride-sharing company was in violation of anti-trust laws as a result of its surge pricing policies. The lawsuit specifically named Uber CEO Travis Kalanick.

      Shortly after the suit was filed, many of Schmidt’s associates began receiving phone calls inquiring about Schmidt’s personal life. It turns out that these calls were made by a third-party investigator hired by Uber to obtain information about Schmidt and his client, Spencer Meyer.

      That company is an intelligence firm called Ergo, which was founded in 2006 by R.P. Eddy, the former director of counterterrorism at the White House National Security Council.

    • Are tourists being caught out by Sweden’s old bank notes?

      June 30th was the last day on which Sweden’s old 20, 50 and 1,000 kronor notes could be used after the country’s central bank (Riksbanken) decided to phase them out. One reason for the withdrawal is the need to add modern protection against counterfeiting.

      But The Local has been told that exchange services in foreign countries may still be handing out the old notes to their customers.

      “I have had friends visiting this month from Ukraine, Mexico and Croatia. All had exchanged their notes in their home country, but when they got here those notes weren’t valid anymore,” J Graigory, an American living in Stockholm explained.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Ignorance and indifference: Delving deep into the Clinton e-mail saga

      Hillary Clinton, former secretary of state and presumptive Democratic nominee for the presidency, is facing a massive backlash after an FBI investigation found her to have been “extremely careless” in the handling of classified information. The scandal surrounding her use of a private e-mail server has only grown since the Justice Department’s decision not to pursue criminal charges. Polls show that a majority of Americans believe she should have been indicted, and more recent polls place Clinton in a dead heat with the presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump. Clinton led by a significant margin just weeks ago.

    • Time for Nicola to Pick a Fight

      It is time for straight talking. Philip Hammond stated the plain truth when he said that Scotland could not have a different relationship with the EU than the rest of the UK. It is true as a simple technical truth, as I explained. If the UK leaves the EU, the only way for Scotland to remain a member is Independence. Frankly anybody who understands the first thing about the subject knows that and it is actually helpful for Hammond to explain it. I have no doubt that May gave Sturgeon the same message today. By proclaiming commitment to Unionism in the first sentence of her first speech in Number 10, and then immediately coming to Edinburgh, May could not have made her position clearer. Further there is no doubt that Hammond would have cleared his unequivocal statement with May before he made it.

    • Could Donald Trump Block Hillary Clinton’s Campaign From Visiting His Website Via The CFAA?

      In the past few weeks, we’ve written about two troubling rulings in the 9th Circuit appeals court concerning the CFAA, the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. That law, that was literally written in response to Ronald Reagan being freaked out by the (fictional) movie War Games, was designed to go after hackers and make computer hacking into other people’s computers a crime. The law is woefully outdated and unfortunately vague, with terms like “unauthroized access” and “exceeds authorized access.” For years, many of us have been pushing for Congress to reform the law to make it not quite so broad, because in its current setup it’s the law the DOJ relies on when all else fails. That’s why the DOJ loves it. If you did something it doesn’t like on a computer, it’ll try to use the CFAA against you.

    • Anti-Women, Anti-Immigrant, Anti-LGBTQ Crusader: Trump Finds ‘Perfect Match’ in Pence for VP

      “Look, I don’t know that [climate change] is a resolved issue in science today.”—Gov. Mike Pence, 2014

    • 11 Scary Things You Need To Know About Trump’s VP, Mike Pence

      A lot of people anticipated that Donald Trump would choose a running mate that could help him balance out the ticket, but that does not appear to be the case. Though he won’t officially announce his VP pick until Friday, multiple sources have confirmed that the presumptive Republican nominee will select Indiana Governor Mike Pence.

      Choosing Pence is pretty much Trump’s way of doubling down on the intolerance and far-right ideology that has characterized his campaign thus far.

    • What Readers Need to Know about Noam Chomsky’s Position on Lesser-Evil Voting

      For starters, Chomsky has long held that the US political system has intentionally offered weak candidates close in ideology, while presenting the illusion of choice, and both wings are dedicated to the business class and business run society. This is why, Chomsky states, we have an extraordinarily violent labor history.

      I also think the premise that Chomsky advocates less than evil voting is incorrect. Chomsky, in select circumstances does not advocate less than evil voting, he simply suggests, but never insists, on strategic voting. Simply put, Chomsky holds that if you live in a state that is safe for Democrats, you have the options of: voting for the Green Party, not voting, but most importantly perhaps, carrying on with democratic action and organizing, which Chomsky holds to be the more significant part of the political process. The process is entirely independent of voting and since voting should occupy about five minutes of our time, we need to keep up the important work.

    • Centrists must embrace anti-elitism or face extinction.

      Instead of aping chauvinism, centrists must respond imaginatively to the anti-political sentiment behind Brexit and the rise of far right parties.

    • The RNC Desperately Needs $6 Million Because Dozens Of Companies Have Withdrawn Donations

      The host committee is asking Sheldon Adelson to make up the deficit.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • Dutchman jailed for 30 days for ‘insulting’ the king

      A court in the Netherlands has sentenced a man to 30 days in jail for insulting the king on Facebook.

      The 44-year-old Dutchman “intentionally insulted” King Willem-Alexander, accusing him of being a murderer, thief and rapist, the Dutch judiciary said.

      He was convicted of breaking seldom-used royal defamation laws.

      A Dutch political party has proposed scrapping the laws and the king has pledged to accept the outcome of any debate on the issue.

    • Turkey: Journalists’ association presents award to press freedom groups

      Index on Censorship is delighted to be one of the nine groups honoured by the Turkish Journalists Association (TGC) with this year’s Press Freedom Prize.

      TGC announced on Wednesday that it was awarding a coalition of international press freedom organisations with the award “for the unique solidarity unparalleled in the past, it showed against the assaults on press freedom in Turkey, for its efforts to bring to international platforms the violation of rights and for instilling in their Turkish colleagues the feeling that they are not alone.”

    • Turkey: Charges against five journalists must be dropped

      Charges of acquiring and divulging state secrets, membership of, and administration of a terrorist organisation brought against five journalists, including four former members of Taraf newspaper’s editorial and investigative staff, must be dropped and one of the accused, Mehmet Baransu, must be released immediately and unconditionally, PEN International, English PEN, German PEN, Swedish PEN, PEN America, ARTICLE 19, the Committee to Protect Journalists, the European Federation of Journalists, the Ethical Journalism Network, IFEX, Index on Censorship, the International Federation of Journalists, Global Editors Network and Reporters Without Borders said in a joint statement today.

      ‘These charges are a clear infringement of the right to free expression and a free press in Turkey and must be dropped, and Baransu released. It’s yet another example of abuses by the Turkish authorities of the problematic Anti-Terror law to silence investigative journalists. The law must be reformed without delay,‘ said Carles Torner, Executive Director of PEN International.

    • Gordon Campbell on the censorship in South Africa

      Clearly, New Zealand is in no position to criticise the performance of any other country’s state broadcaster. (On Tuesday night, state broadcaster TV ONE lead its 6 o’clock news bulletin with a long report on the Pokemon Go game. Go figure. ) Even so, South Africa’s state broadcaster is in a real mess.

    • South African bishops call for an end to media censorship crisis

      South Africa’s bishops have called on the country’s parliament to intervene in a censorship crisis regarding the reporting of violent protests ahead of elections next month.

    • #SABC: R2K Campaign takes anti-censorship protest to Luthuli House

      The Right2Know Campaign has taken its protest against censorship at the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) to Luthuli House where members are handing over a memorandum calling for the removal of COO Hlaudi Motsoeneng.

    • ANC needs to stop the rot at SABC: R2K

      Civil right groups the Right2Know campaign and SOS Coalition on Friday afternoon held a protest outside the African National Congress’s (ANC) headquarters Luthuli House demanding that the party take direct action about the alleged censorship at the SABC.

      This comes after the SABC’s (South African Broadcasting Corporation) editorial decision to not air images of destructive protests as the broadcaster believes they perpetuate violence in communities.

    • Right2Know, ANC meet at Luthuli House

      The Right2Know (R2K) campaign on Friday vowed to continue protesting until SABC chief operating officer Hlaudi Motsoeneng left the broadcaster.

      The organisation met African National Congress secretary general Gwede Mantashe at Luthuli House in Johannesburg during a picket against what it said was the political capture of the SABC.

    • ‘You’ve got two choices: the door or the window’ – Jimi Matthews to SABC staff

      Former SABC acting chief executive officer Jimi Matthews told eight reporters they could choose “the door or the window” if they disagreed with the broadcaster’s new policies, according to court papers.

      The journalists, dubbed the “SABC 8″, filed an urgent application on Friday seeking direct access to the Constitutional Court. They want the SABC’s recent policies declared “unconstitutional, unlawful and invalid”, and the disciplinary charges against them dropped.

    • ‘SABC ruled by a culture of fear and silence’

      The SABC ban on footage of violent protests and crackdown on journalists who questioned it has resulted in a “culture of fear and silence” in the newsroom that effectively prevents the public broadcaster from reporting accurately …

    • Suspended SABC journalists turn to Concourt
    • SABC 8 approach Constitutional Court
    • ‘Our positions are simply intolerable’ – SABC journalists to ConCourt
    • SABC journalists approach Constitutional Court
    • Suspended SABC journalists take their fight to the Constitutional Court
    • Suspended SABC journalists stick to their guns about censorship claims
    • SABC journalists launch ConCourt challenge
    • R2K Campaign vows to continue anti-censorship protests
    • R2K Campaign vows to continue anti-censorship protests
    • ‘SABC shenanigans putting SA to shame’

      The National Association of Democratic Lawyers (Nadel) says the shenanigans at the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) are putting the whole nation to shame, and especially the black majority.

    • Newt Gingrich: Merely Visiting An ISIS Or Al Qaeda Website Should Be A Felony [Ed: Big Brother wants not only thought control by self-censorship but also criminalisation of reading through mass surveillance]

      Either way, this is idiotic. Merely visiting a website should put you in jail? What if you’re a journalist? Or a politician? Or a researcher trying to understand ISIS? That should be a felony? That’s not how it works. This also assumes, idiotically, that merely reading a website about ISIS will make people side with ISIS. It’s also not, at all, how the law works. Same with the second part about it being a felony to host such content. We’re already seeing lawsuits against social media sites like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube for hosting accounts from ISIS, and many are voluntarily taking down lots of those accounts. But making it a felony to keep them up? That’s also not how the law works.

    • Turkey Throttled Social Media During Coup In ‘Evolution’ of Internet Censorship

      A coup by “factions” of the Turkish military is underway, and social media sites including Facebook and Twitter are being slowed to a crawl inside the country, according to Dyn Research, a company that tracks the state of the global internet. YouTube is also reportedly down in Turkey, although Dyn could not confirm this.

      An hour after Dyn Research confirmed the throttling, the company confirmed that the throttle was apparently turned off.

      The latest block represents an “evolution” in how Turkey censors its internet, according to Doug Madory, of Dyn Research. While the government previously blocked access to sites at the Domain Name System (DNS) level, users could easily circumvent the blocks by using another DNS service. By throttling traffic to social media sites instead of blocking them wholesale, the effect is the same but much more difficult to get around or even detect, Madory said.

    • As Erdogan Faces Turkish Coup, The Guy Who Once Banned Social Media Sites, Forced To Address Nation Via Facetime & Twitter

      We’ve written a fair amount about Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Lately, it’s mostly been about his ridiculously thin skin over insults, and his willingness to take his hurt feelings international. But, even prior to that, he had a history of irrational hating on social media. Back when he was Prime Minister, he tried to blame Twitter for social unrest, even going so far as to order it banned in the country. And, when that failed, he actually sued his own government over the failure to block content on Twitter that he disliked.

      Now, as you hopefully know from news sources other than Techdirt, as I write this, it appears that there’s a military coup going on in Turkey, trying to usurp Erdogan. As part of that effort, all those social media sites that Erdogan himself does not like, including Facebook, Twitter and YouTube are being blocked. For Erdogan himself, that’s meant that he’s been cut off from his own means of communication to the public, leaving him to use Apple’s Facetime to call a local TV station to put him on the air…

    • New Doc Reveals the Tyranny of Political Correctness and Censorship Culture at Brown
    • College Students Don’t Want to Learn: They Want to Teach You About Identity Politics
    • Artist Frank Cho Leaves DC Comics, Attacks Censorship Of Wonder Woman Covers
    • Cover artist Frank Cho leaves Wonder Woman, accuses writer Greg Rucka of censorship
    • Frank Cho Leaves “Wonder Woman”; Blames Greg Rucka’s ‘Political Agenda’
    • Sorry, there’s no more porn with your Starbucks latte

      Starbucks said Friday it would soon add porn-blocking filters to its public, in-store Wi-Fi. The move follows McDonald’s, which disclosed this week that it had blocked the hamburger-eating public from accessing Wi-Fi-enabled porn at its restaurants.

      “Once we determine that our customers can access our free Wi-Fi in a way that also doesn’t involuntarily block unintended content, we will implement this in our stores,” Starbucks said in a statement. “In the meantime, we reserve the right to stop any behavior that interferes with our customer experience, including what is accessed on our free Wi-Fi.”

      The group Enough is Enough and the National Center on Sexual Exploitation have been putting pressure on companies that provide free Wi-Fi to the public to block porn sites.

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Mandatory registration of prepaid cards in Poland

      Mandatory registration of prepaid cards is approaching inexorably in Poland. The need to register a SIM is an implication of the anti-terror law which has just been signed by the Polish President. This means, of course, the end of anonymous SIM cards – all of them will now have to be assigned to a specific customer. When buying such a card revealing personal details, including PESEL number, will be required. Importantly, cards for minors will have to be bought by their parents. Users who have already purchased a prepaid card must report and assign them with the personal information. Cards that are not registered till 1st February 2017 will be deactivated. Such a law is in use in other European markets, e.g. in France, Germany, Spain or Turkey and in the CEE region in Bulgaria, Hungary or Slovakia, which means Poland is not any exception. More detailed information on the registration of SIM cards in Poland is expected to be released on the 25th of July this year.

    • Digital Self-Defense for Journalists: An Introduction

      Digital self-defense is becoming an important part of the journalistic toolkit. Beyond risks to everyone’s digital lives—webcam hacking, email breaches, identity theft—people who work in newsrooms have even more at stake. Newsrooms are some of the biggest targets in the world for state-sponsored digital attacks, as well as more routine threats.

      But security is not about locking everything down. It can feel overwhelming if everything is under threat. Instead it’s about making it harder to access information that is especially important to secure. There is no such thing as “perfect security.” Instead, it’s more about building stronger roadblocks, and making it harder for others to access our data without consent.

    • The Chinese surveillance company safeguarding Australian democracy

      The ballots from the 2016 Australian election are being secured by a company owned by one of China’s most important security firms, with links deep inside the communist state’s vast surveillance system.

      In 2014, the Australian Electoral Commission hired the company SecureMonitoring to provide “Security Alarm System Monitoring for AEC Warehouses and National Office”, for $360,000 over three years.

      The security of AEC warehouses — where millions of ballot papers are stored — as well as the transport of ballot papers to them was the subject of strongly critical review both by former AFP commissioner Mick Keelty in his review of lost Western Australian Senate ballot papers in the 2013 election and the Australian National Audit Office. The AEC had decided to outsource all of its logistics and storage operations on the basis that the private sector wouldn’t do it as badly as they themselves had done it.

    • UK gov says new Home Sec will have powers to ban end-to-end encryption

      During a committee stage debate in the UK’s House of Lords yesterday, the government revealed that the Investigatory Powers Bill will provide any Secretary of State with the ability to force communication service providers (CSPs) to remove or disable end-to-end encryption.

      Earl Howe, a minister of state for defence and deputy leader in the House of Lords, gave the first explicit admission that the new legislation would provide the British government with the ability to force CSPs to “develop and maintain a technical capability to remove encryption that has been applied to communications or data.”

      This power, if applied, would be imposed upon domestic CSPs by the new Home Secretary, Amber Rudd, who was formerly the secretary of state for energy and climate change. Rudd is now only the fifth woman to hold one of the great offices of state in the UK. As she was only appointed on Wednesday evening, she has yet to offer her thoughts on the matter.

    • US Cyber Command readies for first troop deployment [Ed: NSA chief speaks as though he wants war and prepares troops for digital invasion. Having engaged in mass harvesting of passwords (sysadmins are the “target”), this empire now wages digital war. Given the history of the NSA's cracking at lots of friendly nations, these claims of cyberattack as “threat” are similar to police with “stop resisting”.]

      The demand for a cybersecurity component that can be deployed to protect U.S. military infrastructure and combat forces is so strong that Cyber Command will begin deploying its cyber troops even before the complete force is trained and staffed.

      Admiral Michael Rogers, director of the NSA and Cyber Command, said that even though the full complement of 6,200 troops broken in 133 teams has not yet been met, the need for these forces in the field requires that he send in what cyber soldiers he has that are fully trained to meet the threat, according to an NPR report.

    • Software Could Turn Cyberattacks Around, NSA’s Rogers Says

      The National Security Agency is working on possibly developing software to respond to digital acts of war, NSA Director Adm. Michael S. Rogers said this week at MeriTalk’s Federal Forum in Washington, D.C.

    • NSA Boss Says U.S. Cyber Troops Are Nearly Ready
    • US Cyber Mission Force Nearly Ready for Action [Ed: offensively targeting nations]
    • Rogers: National Security Agency Becoming ‘FEMA of the Cyber World’

      Following major cybersecurity breaches nationwide, the National Security Agency is increasingly being called upon to advise both government offices and the private sector, said the head of the United States’ spy agency.

    • NSA wants to hire people that plan to leave for Silicon Valley [Ed: NSA and Silicon Valley: revolving doors?]
  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Police Step Up Arrests For ‘Threatening’ Social Media Posts In The Wake Of The Dallas Shooting

      Arresting people for speech is problematic, especially when the content of the communications doesn’t rise to the level of a “true threat.” The Supreme Court’s Elonis decision says this distinction is important. It’s not enough for a person or persons to subjectively view the communication as threatening. It needs to be viewed through the “reasonable person” lens.

      In these cases, perception appears to be everything. In the wake of the Dallas shooting, it’s entirely normal for police officers to view the world a little differently. But this altered view — one that’s likely to be less skewed as time goes on — can’t be allowed to override the First Amendment and deprive individuals of their freedom to speak, not to mention their actual freedom.

      And just as certainly as law enforcement officers and officials are likely to view certain acts of blowhardiness as threatening in the immediate aftermath of a shooting targeting police officers, certain citizens are likely to vent their frustration and anger in particularly stupid ways, but without the intention or ability to carry out the perceived threat. Caution should be exercised on both sides of the interaction. However, those with the power to arrest, detain, and charge citizens for stupidity should be the more cautious of the two parties — simply because they still hold the power, despite recent events.

      Those in power should also take care to carry this out with some sort of consistency, if that’s the route they’re choosing to take. It can’t just be deployed against a bunch of nobodies who mouthed off about their contempt for law enforcement. If this is how it’s going to be handled, those who speak with the same rhetoric in defense of law enforcement need to be held accountable. Former congressional rep Joe Walsh tweeted out that this was now “war on Obama” after the Dallas shootings and yet no one showed up at his door to arrest him for threatening the President. It’s bad enough that power is being misused to silence criticism of law enforcement violence. It’s even worse when this power is deployed in a hypocritical fashion.

    • Federal Revenge Porn Bill Not As Bad As It Could Have Been, Still Probably Unconstitutional

      For the last two and half years or so, my Congressional Representative, Jackie Speier, has insisted that she was just about to introduce a federal law outlawing revenge porn. And then it wouldn’t come. There would be an article saying it was almost ready… and then nothing. Months would go by, another article would appear… and then nothing. Finally, on Thursday, Speier introduced the bill, insisting that the delay was in convincing Silicon Valley companies to sign on to it. Of course, that leaves out the fact that the reason many refused to sign on was because previous iterations of the bill were incredibly problematic and almost certainly unconstitutional. With two and half years to work on it, however, the finally introduced bill, called the Intimate Privacy Protection Act of 2016, or IPPA, is not nearly as bad as it could have been, nor as bad as some of the suggestions passed around by those who “consulted” on drafting the bill.

      But that doesn’t mean the bill isn’t unconstitutional.

      Let’s be clear: revenge porn is horrific. The creeps who put up revenge porn sites deserve to be shamed and mocked. The people who actually upload images to such sites or visit them are complete losers who need to get a life. But there are really important legal issues that come up when you try to outlaw such things, starting with the First Amendment. Yes, yes, as everyone will say, there are some exceptions to the First Amendment (though if you claim that shouting fire in a crowded theater is one of them, you’re going to be mocked as well). But the exceptions to the first First Amendment are very narrowly prescribed by the Supreme Court, and they’re much more narrow than most armchair lawyers believe. Looking over the list, it’s pretty difficult to see how revenge porn fits.

    • Ninth Circuit Panel Backs Away From Dangerous Password Sharing Decision—But Creates Even More Confusion About the CFAA

      Three judges of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals have taken a step back from criminalizing password sharing, limiting the dangerous rationale of a decision issued by a panel of three different judges of the same court last week. That’s good, but the new decision leaves so many unanswered questions that it’s clear we need en banc review of both cases—i.e., by 11 judges, not just three—so the court can issue a clear and limited interpretation of the notoriously vague federal hacking statute at the heart of both cases, the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA).

    • Egypt standardizes sermons, tightening grip on mosques

      In a move to tighten state control over religious discourse, Egypt has launched a campaign to force Muslim clerics to read standardized government-written sermons at Friday prayers.

      Minister for Religious Endowments, Mokhtar Gomaa, gave the first-such scripted sermon Friday at Cairo’s Amr ibn al-As Mosque. Reading from a batch of notecards, Gomaa recited a sermon against corruption titled, “Bad money is a lethal poison.”

      “Our prophet has condemned the person who gives a bribe, who receives a bribe, and mediates between the two,” he said. The same sermon had been posted several days earlier on the ministry’s official website.

    • The Turkish Coup Is Live on Facebook [iophk: "for only as many seconds as FB allows it. These are not like the Usenet days"]
    • Turkey military coup: Erdoğan says ‘we will overcome this’ – live updates
    • Alex Vitale on Overpolicing, Cristina Jiménez on Immigration Ruling

      This week on CounterSpin: As the country reels from police killings of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile and a sniper’s killing of Dallas police officers, media insist there is “nationwide soul-searching” going on on the problem of racist police brutality.

    • The Great Republican Crack-up

      The disruption that the nomination of Trump represents for the party of Lincoln, Eisenhower and Reagan has been cast as a freakish anomaly, the equivalent of the earthquakes that hit the other side of Ohio in recent years. But just as those earthquakes had a likely explanation — gas and oil fracking in the Utica Shale — so can the crackup of the Republican Party and rise of Trump be traced back to what the geologists call the local site conditions.

      It’s no secret the country has sorted itself into ever-more polarized camps. What is underappreciated is how much that dynamic has played out even within regions, even within a single relatively small metropolitan area like Dayton. The city along the Great Miami River, an hour north of Cincinnati, was once a bastion of moderation and heterodoxy, the sort of place where the spectrum was jumbled with conservative Democrats, liberal Republicans and everything in between. But a combination of trends — among them suburban flight, deindustrialization, the flip of the Solid South to Republicans — changed everything.

    • GOP Lawmaker Pushes For Deporting Everyone On The Terror Watch List

      One day after the horrific terror attack on civilians in Nice, France, Rep. Jeff Duncan (R-SC) took to Twitter to call on President Obama to “immediately deport” immigrants on terror watch lists.

      In a series of tweets, Duncan proposed that the president “halt the Syrian refugee resettlement program” and “immediately deport any non-citizens listed on a terror-watch list.” He later added that immigrants would be given a deportation hearing, “thus protecting due process.”

      Duncan also suggested that the United States should be “careful” with “who we’re granting citizenship to and which countries we allow immigration from,” calling for a closer scrutiny of the visa waiver program with the European Union, which allows visa-free travel between United States and European Union residents.

    • Obama blasts Gingrich’s Muslim test as ‘repugnant’

      President Obama on Friday slammed a proposal by Newt Gingrich to “test” American Muslims and deport those who follow Shariah.

      “The very suggestion is repugnant and an affront to everything we stand for as Americans,” Obama said at a reception with diplomats at the White House.

    • Race War Fraud

      Right after police officers were shot in Dallas on July 7th, so many people were trying to explain to me why racism is not the problem. I’ve heard someone proclaim “but Obama is black”. I was surprised to hear someone insisting that “all lives matter” instead of just black lives. I heard people screaming “all violence must stop”. I certainly didn’t hear such an urgent call until the Dallas sniper shooting. And a seemingly constructive argument on racism was met with “don’t be divisive”. And so on and on.

    • Barack Obama Helped Us Peer Into the Racial Divide

      President Obama gave a majestic speech in Dallas, one of the best of his presidency, at once a soaring tribute to slain police officers and an affirmation of peaceful protest. But he was wrong about one thing: On race, sadly, we are as divided as we seem.

      This condition is not due to anything Obama has said or done. He bends so far backward to avoid giving offense, even to those who richly deserve offending, that he must need regular sessions with a chiropractor. The racial divide, which has its roots in lingering claims of white supremacy, has been there all along. It was mostly silent and unacknowledged until the very fact of the Obama presidency cast it in stark and unforgiving light.

      So I am not surprised at recent polls showing that Americans believe race relations are worsening. It is as if a dark corner has been illuminated to reveal the mess that was swept there long ago and willfully ignored.

      I have long believed that the most revolutionary act the first African-American president could ever perform is to go about his official duties for all the world to see. A black man stands to deliver the State of the Union address. A black man toasts foreign leaders at glittering White House dinners. A black family crosses the South Lawn to board the Marine One helicopter and be lifted into the sky.

    • “Follow the Directions of Law Enforcement”

      As of this writing, several hundred people have been arrested in protests against the latest police murders of innocent black men. Increased resistance to state crimes will bring increased repression; this is yet another model used by Israel that the U.S. follows.

      Where will it end? At what point in the future will young black men be able to wear hoodies without the police seeing them as instant targets? When will black men of any age be able to drive their cars through any city street, or stroll along any city boulevard, without fearing for their lives? This writer is not optimistic that it will be any time soon.

    • Filmers of Alton Sterling, Eric Garner killings say police have harassed and detained them

      Hundreds of protesters have been arrested throughout the U.S. in the past week, in demonstrations against police brutality and systemic racism.

      The videos of the brutal police killings of Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and Philando Castile in Falcon Heights, Minnesota have reinvigorated the Black Lives Matter movement.

      But the bystanders who filmed and distributed the videos of the shooting of Alton Sterling say they have been detained and harassed by police for exposing the incident to the world.

      Moreover, the man who filmed the killing of Eric Garner, an unarmed black father who died after being placed in a chokehold by an NYPD officer two years ago this week, is heading to prison for four years on unrelated charges, after he says he has endured constant police harassment.

      This bystander who recorded the viral video of Garner’s death is the only one connected to the incident who is being locked up; none of the officers involved have faced jail time. While the city’s medical examiner determined Garner’s death to be a homicide, the Staten Island district attorney declined to press charges.

    • There are two prongs in the ongoing attack on liberty and freedoms of opinion, assembly, and expression

      There are two parallel prongs being executed right now to crack down on liberty in an unprecedented fashion: freedoms of assembly, of expression, of speech, and liberty overall. To realize the importance of what’s happening, we need to see both of these prongs.

      The first prong is to introduce wide-ranging exceptions to liberty to “extremist” or “terrorist” anything. If you’re an extremist, you have no rights at all. We’re basically at that point already.

      The second prong is to gradually expand the definition of these public-appeasing rights-eliminating keywords until they include anything and anybody the government doesn’t like. We’re basically at that point already, too.

      Let’s look closer at these one by one:

      The first prong is making exceptions to universal liberty when certain keywords are present. There’s no shortage of “terrorist laws” in the world. Basically none of them make terrorism a worse crime (preparing to cause widespread devastation is already a serious crime in most or all countries); instead, they remove rights to due process for people suspected of such crimes, and frankly, for people in general.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • Let’s keep the Internet equal and open for all

      Telecoms providers have not shied away from even the most shady tactics to further their agenda. They even published a “5G Manifesto” that can only be described as blackmail: They threaten not to invest in 5G networks unless net neutrality rules are weakened.

      Instead of rejecting these attempts at blackmail, Commissioner Günther Oettinger is praising the manifesto as “vital support from industry for the EU 5G action plan”.

      The relation between net neutrality and investment in infrastructure is in fact the polar opposite. Premium services with priority lanes and slower speeds for others will not lead to infrastructure improvement – equal access will. Net neutrality creates an incentive for investment in faster broadband connections by denying telecoms the ability to make money from a scarcity of bandwidth.

    • How the internet was invented

      “It had to be future-proof,” Cerf tells me. You couldn’t write the protocol for one point in time, because it would soon become obsolete. The military would keep innovating. They would keep building new networks and new technologies. The protocol had to keep pace: it had to work across “an arbitrarily large number of distinct and potentially non-interoperable packet switched networks,” Cerf says – including ones that hadn’t been invented yet. This feature would make the system not only future-proof, but potentially infinite. If the rules were robust enough, the “ensemble of networks” could grow indefinitely, assimilating any and all digital forms into its sprawling multithreaded mesh.

      Eventually, these rules became the lingua franca of the internet. But first, they needed to be implemented and tweaked and tested – over and over and over again. There was nothing inevitable about the internet getting built. It seemed like a ludicrous idea to many, even among those who were building it. The scale, the ambition – the internet was a skyscraper and nobody had ever seen anything more than a few stories tall. Even with a firehose of cold war military cash behind it, the internet looked like a long shot.

    • Comcast expands $10 low-income Internet plan

      Comcast’s Internet Essentials program that provides $10-per-month Internet service to low-income families has been expanded to make about 1.3 million additional households eligible.

      Comcast created Internet Essentials in order to secure approval of its acquisition of NBCUniversal in 2011 and has decided to continue it indefinitely even though the requirement expired in 2014. Comcast says the 10Mbps plan has connected more than 600,000 low-income families since 2011, for a total of 2.4 million adults and children, and provided 47,000 subsidized computers for less than $150 each.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Copyrights

      • Nintendo Cracks Down on Pokémon Go ‘Piracy’

        Millions of people around the world are totally caught up in the Pokémon Go craze. Interestingly, many of these are playing “pirated” copies of the game. Nintendo is now trying to address this issue by sending takedown requests, hoping to make at least make some pirate sources harder to find. It will be hard to catch ‘em all.

      • Nintendo Cracking Down On Pokemon Go ‘Pirates’ Despite The Game Being Free

        In these past few weeks, the world has become divided into two camps: those who are sick of hearing anything about Nintendo’s new smash mobile hit, Pokemon Go, and those who can’t get enough of it. While the media tags along for the ride and with the app shooting up the charts as the craze takes hold, it’s worth keeping in mind that this is Pokemon and Nintendo we’re talking about, two connected groups with a crazy history of savagely protecting anything to do with their intellectual property.

      • NBC’s ‘Most Live Olympics Ever’ Will Have A One Hour Broadcast Delay For The Opening Ceremony

        It’s Olympics season again. What is normally an expose of how the IOC and the USOC become the biggest IP bullies on the block has had a little spice added to it this year in the form of a host country that by all reports is woefully unprepared for its duties while simultaneously being rocked by a pest-spread disease with the delightful symptom of shrinking the brains of fetuses. And if that doesn’t make you believe that some combination of a god and/or the universe wants the Olympics to cease to be, perhaps the fact that the whole fiasco will be broadcast by NBC will.

        Yes, running in parallel with our posts about IOC bullying, you will find a history of posts about NBC’s strange attempts to turn back the clock on its broadcast of the games. Historically, this has meant limiting the live streaming of most of the events, making it as difficult to find and watch any event as possible, and delaying all kinds of event broadcasts until NBC deems that the public wants to watch them. But have heart, dear friends, for the NBC overlords have listened and have declared that these Rio Olympics will be the “most live Olympics ever.”

      • Torrent pirates beware: NBC has a patent and it’s coming after you
      • Broadcaster NBC patents torrent-tracking technology
      • Bill Introduced To Create Copyright Small Claims Court… Which Copyright Trolls Are Going To Love

        For a while now, some in the copyright community have been pushing for a copyright “small claims court” as an alternative to filing a federal lawsuit over copyright law. It’s true that, especially for small copyright holders, the cost of filing a lawsuit may appear to be rather prohibitive. But it’s not clear that a small claims court is the answer. A few years ago, we wrote about some potential concerns with such an approach, but have also admitted that if set up right, it could have some advantages. But that requires it be set up right.

        Unfortunately, a new bill has been introduced, by Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, along with Rep. Tom Marino, to officially set up such a system — and it’s done in a way that looks like it will not be well-designed, and instead will lead to a massive rush of small claims, especially by copyright trolls. The bill is called the Copyright Alternative in Small-Claims Enforcement Act of 2016, or CASE Act, and… it’s got problems.

        The “good” news, if you can call it that, is that claims that would go before this appointed tribunal, made up of copyright lawyers recommended by the Register of Copyrights and appointed by the Librarian of Congress, would have much lower statutory damages availability than the federal courts. A copyright claim in a federal court has statutory damages up to $150k, for willful infringement. In the small claims system, the maximum statutory damages would be $15k. But, really, that’s just half of today’s official statutory damages — because if there’s no willful infringement, the Copyright Act puts a cap at $30k. In the small claims world, there’s no option to claim willful infringement.

      • Why Is The UK’s Intellectual Property Office Praising National Portrait Gallery’s Copyfraud Claims Over Public Domain Images?

        That’s a tweet from the UK’s Intellectual Property Office (IPO) asking how does the UK’s National Portrait Gallery in London “manage the copyright of national treasures like Shakespeare?” My initial response, of course, was “Wait, Shakespeare is in the bloody public domain, you don’t have any copyright to manage!” It seems rather easy to manage “the copyright” of Shakespeare when there is none. But it turns out the link is… even worse. It’s to a blog post on the IPO website eagerly praising the National Portrait Gallery for engaging in out-and-out copyright fraud. You’d think that the Intellectual Property Office would recognize this, but it does not.

      • Treaty For The Blind Comes Into Force… But US Refuses To Ratify Because Publishers Association Hates Any User Rights

        For many, many, many, many years, we’ve followed the rather crazy trials and tribulations of trying to get an international treaty signed to make it easier for the blind to access copyright-covered works (basically requiring countries to allow visually-impaired accessible versions to be reproduced and distributed). This is a treaty that people have tried to get in place for years and years and years, and it was blocked again and again — often by legacy copyright industries who flat out refuse to support any kind of agreement that could be seen as strengthening user rights, which they see (ridiculously, and incorrectly) as chipping away at copyright. Amazingly, despite a last minute push by the MPAA and the Association of American Publishers, an agreement was reached and signed in 2013, called the Marrakesh Agreement. As we noted at the time, we fully expected the legacy copyright industries to refocus their efforts on blocking ratification in the US, and that’s exactly what’s happened.

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